Thursday, May 30, 2013

Making transport socially equitable

May 30, 2013

A surcharge for a second car? Why not? Equity and fairness are important considerations in land transport policy.

By Christopher Tan Senior Transport Correspondent

THE concept of fairness in the land transport arena has come under intense scrutiny recently.

There has been debate on whether there should be an element of social equity in the vehicle quota system - in which potential car owners bid for a certificate of entitlement (COE) to own a car.

Not too long ago, a state-funded $1.1 billion plan to subsidise bus commuters caused a small furore when it was seen as an indirect - and unfair - subsidy for transport companies.

The biggest controversy surrounds Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's proposal for a surcharge on folks who buy more than one car.

Serving up a good deal for hawkers

May 30, 2013


Building more hawker centres is the easier part in any revamp of this iconic institution. A mindset change all-round is needed too. It's a "wok" in progress.

By Feng Zengkun

IN THE past few months, Singapore's iconic hawker-centre culture has been the subject of unsettling news. A survey of 541 hawker stalls released last month showed that prices of several popular hawker dishes had gone up at many places across the island.

Most commonly, fishball noodle prices went up by 50 cents last year, compared to 2011; vegetable rice cost 40 cents more.

Singaporeans can afford a dose of magnanimity

May 29, 2013

By Leong Chan-hoong For The Straits Times

TWELVE years ago, a man from Singapore travelled 8,500km to Wellington, New Zealand, to pursue an education.

Although he had little money, he took a chance and took along his wife and their newborn son, guided by nothing more than a dream.

He soon discovered that life was not a bed of roses in the picturesque capital city. Casual jobs were not easy to come by and money was always in short supply. The Singaporean would scrimp on every penny so that his family could get the best.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Soon, we'll all be labelled mad


May 23, 2013

By Allen Frances

"WE ARE all mad here," explains the Cat to Alice when she wonders about the strangeness of Wonderland. Well, life is starting to follow art. If people make the mistake of following DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the new diagnostic manual in psychiatry that was published on Saturday, pretty soon all of us may be labelled mad.

Have ECs lost their objective?

May 23, 2013


Should executive condominium buyers get government housing grants, when they are assured of a windfall on selling their units? Wrong question. The real question is: Are ECs serving their purpose to bridge the gap between private and public housing? The answer: No.

By Rachel Chang

THE scene: An executive condominium (EC) is designed at double the size of an average Housing Board (HDB) flat and priced at more than $1 million.

The result: Public outrage. Why are government subsidies going to buyers who can afford such units? Why is HDB not reining in such excesses by developers? Some suggest: Take away those subsidies. Scrap the EC scheme.

Sounds familiar?

In fact, the scenario painted above happened in 1997.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lives versus Profits

06 May 2013

By Joseph E. Stiglitz 

NEW YORK – The United States Supreme Court recently began deliberations in a case that highlights a deeply problematic issue concerning intellectual-property rights. The Court must answer the following question: Can human genes – your genes – be patented? Put another way, should someone essentially be permitted to own the right, say, to test whether you have a set of genes that imply a higher than 50% probability of developing breast cancer?

What would you pay for another year of life?

22 May 2013

When I first saw Stephanie* three years ago, she was newly diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a blood cancer that almost killed her just two weeks before.

At that time, the leukaemia had replaced the normal blood cells in her bone marrow, causing a life-threatening brain haemorrhage. Thankfully, we were able to control her bleeding, and had started Stephanie on a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), in the form of a daily pill.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shane Todd inquiry: Parents' US-based expert recants finding that Dr Todd was strangled

May 21, 2013

By Feng Zengkun

The expert witness who suggested that American researcher Shane Todd was murdered, has recanted part of the findings in his post-mortem report.

Dr Edward Adelstein, who was testifying at a coroner's inquiry on Tuesday via video-link from the United States, now says Dr Todd had not been garrotted - a term that means strangulation with a wire or cord. He says he now agrees with the reports by four other pathologist that it was not a garrotting because of the absence of broken blood vessels and neck injuries.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What happens when we have enough?

May 13, 2013

By Ezra Klein

JOHN Maynard Keynes was right about the future. But he was wrong about how we'd be spending it. "In the long run," Keynes famously wrote, "we are all dead". I rate that claim true. But it actually has little to do with Keynes' views on the subject.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Race politics all over again

May 12, 2013


Back in 1965, it was differences in race policy that led to Separation of Singapore and Malaysia

By Han Fook Kwang Managing Editor

A week after Malaysians voted in their 13th General Election, the political fires are still raging.

Was it a Chinese or a wider Malaysian tsunami that caused the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to lose its share of the popular vote to the opposition? Is Malaysia more polarised along racial lines or is there a sharper urban-rural divide?

The psychological poverty trap

The poor aren't less able, they're distracted, says poverty expert Eldar Shafir. Privileged people subjected to the same conditions would also make bad decisions.

By Asher Schechter

Feb.23, 2012

From Haaretz

In a behavioral economics experiment several years ago, researchers asked shoppers at a New Jersey mall to handle the following decision: Have your faulty car repaired for either $150 or $1,500. While the participants were considering how to decide, they were given simple cognitive tasks like solving puzzles.

The researchers, Prof. Eldar Shafir and Jiaying Zhao, both from Princeton University, and Harvard University Prof. Sendhil Mullainathan, expected that the stress from contemplating the $1,500 expense would hurt performance. They were right. But participants with above-average incomes succeeded in their tasks under both scenarios, while those with average or low incomes did worse as repair costs climbed.

Even the prospect of spending any money at all damaged the ability of low-income earners to think rationally.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Safeguarding free speech and confidence in judiciary

May 04, 2013

Singapore's contempt of court laws allow the courts to take into account whether statements are 'fair criticism' and if there is a 'real risk' of scandalising the judiciary. This provides a middle ground in protecting free speech while not undermining public confidence in the administration of justice

THE Straits Times reported on April 27 that the Attorney-General's Chambers has maintained its position that the contempt of court laws will stay in place in Singapore.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Keeping Singapore ahead of the competition

May 03, 2013

At the May Day Rally on Wednesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of the economic restructuring to improve wages and Singaporean workers' lives. Here's an excerpt from his speech.

EVERYTHING we do is about making life better for our people and especially for our workers. We are making progress on our infrastructure, whether it's housing or transportation, we're tackling population issues, including immigration and foreign workers - very sensitive, very difficult to discuss but we have to deal with them because otherwise we are going to have big problems coming to us.

Getting real over what works

May 03, 2013
WHEN China, India and the former Soviet bloc transformed themselves into market economies towards the end of the last century, the global labour pool expanded from about 1.46 billion workers to 2.93 billion. The Great Doubling, as that phenomenon has been called, gave a new lease of life to globalisation, but it also put pressure on workers in the developed world to compete with the newcomers.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wild greenery makes S'pore a global eco-city

May 01, 2013

By Ho Hua Chew for The Straits Times

LOOKING at the Land-use Plan 2030 that came with the White Paper on population, it appears that almost everywhere outside the Tekong and Western Catchment military areas will be built up, leaving only about 9 per cent as parks and nature reserves.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No American Airport In Top 25

April 30, 2013

by Egberto Willies 

America continues its race to the bottom of the pile because of a government that refuses to do the things that made us the great nation we were and should be. President Obama gave a news conference today and made a statement I simply had to fact check because it seemed unbelievable.