Came across this rather interesting article about the ERP helping Singaporean own cars.

THE use of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) has made it possible for more Singaporeans to own cars.

Responding to a question for written reply in Parliament on Monday, Transport Minister Raymond Lim said this is reflected in the growth of Singapore’s car population from 680,000 in 1997 to 800,000 in 2006.

Dr Fatimah Lateef, MP for Marine Parade GRC, had asked the Minister if the ERP scheme has met the objectives that it was meant to achieve and if it has improved the traffic flow on expressways especially during peak hours.

In his reply, Mr Lim said since its implementation in 1998, ERP has been effective in maintaining average travel speeds on priced roads within the optimal speed range through regular reviews and rate adjustments. For example, average speeds on the expressways have remained at above 45km/h during peak hours.

“The use of ERP to manage traffic has made it possible for more Singaporeans to own cars than we otherwise could, and our vehicle population has grown from 680,000 in 1997 to 800,000 in 2006,” he added.

“It has also allowed the Government to rely more on car usage charges and less on car ownership taxes to manage traffic demand, and as a result, vehicle ownership taxes have been reduced. ”

The Ministers said the government will continue with a holistic and integrated approach using all the tools available to keep the roads smooth-flowing. These include building more roads, regulating vehicle growth, implementing traffic engineering solutions, managing traffic demand through ERP and promoting the use of public transport.

Hmm. I am no economist, but doesn’t increasing ownership of cars increase the revenue for the government through COE, road tax and more ERP revenue? If that’s the case, what’s the boasting about? Erm… I am a little lost. Or is it about improving the traffic flow? But it looks just as bad to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am just trying to see the point of the article.

Source: Straits Times, 22 October 2007

Well, at least from his asian tour. Apparently there had been allegations about sexual misconduct from the magician / illusionist. So it does seem like we will not be able to see him make the merlion disappear, nor the IR appear from thin air… or better yet, the London Eye Singapore Flyer disappear and appear. So if you have paid for tickets from Sistic, perhaps it’s about time you start getting your refunds from them?

BANGKOK – AMEIRCAN (sic) magician David Copperfield has cancelled his upcoming shows in Southeast Asia following allegations of sexual misconduct in the United States, a Thai organiser said on Monday.

‘His management sent an e-mail to organisers Sunday to inform that his shows will be postponed indefinitely,’ said Ms Kittiyong Achawaphong, a public relations official of RSi Dream Entertainment, which organised his shows in Thailand.

Copperfield was scheduled to perform in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in coming weeks. The cancellations come days after FBI agents searched his warehouse and a casino hotel in Las Vegas, where the magician regularly performs, following charges that he ‘forced himself’ on an unidentified woman.

Details about the allegations have not been revealed but Copperfield’s lawyer, Mr David Chesnoff, has said ‘we know these allegations are false because David Copperfield has never forced himself on anyone.’

Promoters of some of the Asian shows are trying to negotiate with Copperfield’s management to reschedule the performances or recoup some of the losses incurred from the cancellations.

‘We are told by Copperfield management that David’s show had been canceled by the artist,’ said Mr Peter Basuki, whose company was organising the Jakarta show. He said they would like to file a complaint with Copperfield management, but did not elaborate.

‘They said they would like to find any other available time to perform in Jakarta,’ Mr Basuki said. ‘With this cancellation, we have lost more than US$1 million (S$1.5 million) for advertising and other preparations. Business is business. We want to make a profit. But this is making us lose money.’– AP

Well, at least this poor guy does not have to worry about not being able to sell his ticket. There is always a silver lining somewhere. =P

The Section 377A poll

Singapore October 22nd, 2007

Yes, this is another Section 377A poll. I think there had been many – some say there are more supporters for 377A, some say there are less, some say others say that gays should be shot. So, here’s the grand poll of polls. =) Do you seriously think Section 377A should be repealed? And the poll comes with reasons as well, so it’s not just Yes/No. Do feel free to drop me an email if you think there could be other reasons. =)

This is going to be a short commentary since I was just back not too long ago, and things seemed to be heating up again after the last furore on whether 377A is going to be repealled.

One common argument against Section 377A is that it is morally wrong. Well, I have nothing against that but I would like to look retrospectively at what had been repeal previously, that might have a hint, just a hint, of similar indecency – Section 377 (a similar view can be found here).

The Singapore Penal Code, Chapter XVI (Offences Affecting the Human Body), Section 377 (Cap. 224) states that:

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animals, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation. Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

And also, Section 377A (Outrages on decency) states that:

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

Let us just take another step back to look at definitions (from dictionary.com) just to make sure that we are talking abd thinking along the same line:

gross /groʊs/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[grohs] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, -er, -est, noun, plural gross for 11, gross·es for 12, 13; verb
–adjective 1. without deductions; total, as the amount of sales, salary, profit, etc., before taking deductions for expenses, taxes, or the like (opposed to net): gross earnings; gross sales.
2. unqualified; complete; rank: a gross scoundrel.
3. flagrant and extreme: gross injustice.
4. indelicate, indecent, obscene, or vulgar: gross remarks.
5. lacking in refinement, good manners, education, etc.; unrefined.
6. large, big, or bulky.
7. extremely or excessively fat.
8. thick; dense; heavy: gross vegetation.
9. of or concerning only the broadest or most general considerations, aspects, etc.
10. Slang. extremely objectionable, offensive, or disgusting: He wore an outfit that was absolutely gross.

And also:

in·de·cen·cy /ɪnˈdisənsi/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[in-dee-suhn-see] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun, plural -cies for 4. 1. the quality or condition of being indecent.
2. impropriety or immodesty.
3. obscenity or indelicacy.
4. an indecent act, remark, etc.  

Ok, now that the formalities are done, let’s get on to the point in case. When people start arguing on moral grounds, a great deal of credibility from the heterosexual’s point of view (assuming that all who are against the repeal are heterosexuals) when they are arguing against Section 377A and not Section 377. This is because, by gross indecency, I can’t see how Section 377 defines something that is less gross than Section 377A. Section 377 talks about carnal intercourse against the order of nature, and that means penetrating your male organ into the anus, mouth, nose, ear, or any part of the women that the male person can possibly stick into. I am not sure if this sounds natural to you, but it definitely falls into the description of “gross” to me. Perhaps it’s subjective, then against, all arguments against/for Section 377(A) has been subjective.

Now, for all the self-righteous people who thinks that a male person sticking his male organ into anywhere else on another male person is gross and against the order of nature, then do you think the same between a male person and female person is alright and in the order of nature? My argument is simple. If you think Section 377A is “immoral”, then Section 377 isn’t too far away from it.

I guess people should stop arguing against the repeal based on moral grounds and religious grounds (which will almost always be rejected because not all religions view in the same perspective anyway). If they want to, I feel that they should really argue it based on personal grounds, as in, I do not like the idea of 2 men having anal intercourse and yes, I am openly against homosexuals and their activities; and in fact, I think they are freaks and they all ought to be shot, hung and caned – or caned, hung and shot, in any order.

I think sometimes, people should stop hiding behind moral or religious grounds. But on a more serious note, I do understand the worry of parents on how this can affect the upbringing of their kids, and now we move on to Genetics 101. I don’t really want to talk about genetics because I have to admit that findings of a gay gene is not very substantial, but what I want to bring across is, homosexuality is not a disease – it is not something you can spread by being near someone who is gay. There are no bugs that are know to spread homosexuality like dengue and, I am adding this part because I am aware of parental worries, with correct parental guidance, children can be taught about homosexuality in a non-threatening, non-evasive manner.

Just look at the topics of birds and bees now. In the past, people kept mum about it and the younger ones tried it and probably got into a lot of trouble with unplanned pregnancy. With better sex education now, people are more responsible (I hope) for their own actions and they know what they are getting into. Instead of evading it, I think parents should take the responsibility (and not always the school teachers) of letting their children know that there are straight (heterosexual) people and that there are, ahem, not-too-straight (homosexual) people; and that people do not really have a choice to be hetero- or homo-sexual.

It’s just like one person may like strawberry ice-cream and another might like chocolate ice-cream because he thinks that pink is sissy strawberry is too sweet for him. You see, it’s all part of growing up. All children have their own ways of choosing things in their own unique manners – and if your child really turned out to be a homosexual, then at lease he or she will not feel repressed or depressed because he or she feels that she’s a freak. It’s not nice to have this kind of feeling.

Of course, I am not tackling the issue head on. I am giving a retrospective of the grounds for the appeal of the repeal of Section 377A. If people want to retain 377A on the grounds of it being against the order of nature, then perhaps we should all be righteous and reinstate Section 377.

And oh, as a postscript, I just realised that be repealling Section 377, any carnal intercourse with animals is legal? Did anyone happen to catch that?

Ryan had been missing since last Saturday 13th October. My cats were also in his custody before I left for Seoul the previous week. He was last known to be staying in Hougang and last seen on 10th October evening at about 11:30pm outside The Cathay taxi stand.

Ryan Lin (Missing) A

If you have seen, chatted or met up with Ryan since 13th October, or if you have any clues about contacting him, kindly drop me an email (from About page). If it’s not for his safety, it’s for my 3 kitties which are under his custody.

This is a public appeal. Any help would be appreciated.

KOR’07: Day 7

Travelogue October 21st, 2007

Day 7! That’s the day that I return to Singapore! I am looking forward to it because it’s Singapore Airlines!

11:00am Damn! I am late again! Better pack my stuffs quickly! 

1:30pm Okie. Got to City Air Terminal on time to get the bus to Incheon Airport. I think I am really late. =( I think I’d reach at about 2:45pm, which is really too late! =( Let’s hope there are no more delays. =(

3:30pm Okie. Got stuck at the luggage check-in as expected. =( My luggage? A hefty 46kg! That’s almost as heavy as me! Haha.. I wonder how I managed it. The person behind the counter said that even if they were to give me the full 25kg allowance, I am still 21 kg overloaded. So I end up having to pay for some overweight luggage. Thank goodness they charged me for 15kg instead og the full 21 kg. =) So that worked out to be about 170,000+ won. Sigh. Heartache. See lah! All those who ask me to buy things back… better split the bill with me =P

4:45pm Plane about to take off. Oh wait, all electronics are supposed to be off…

9:00pm About to land in Singapore. I have watched The Simpsons Movie 4 times, 2 episodes of The Simpsons series, Sixth Sense, 2 Harry Potters, 1 Licence to Wed and something else. Time really seems to fly when you have an entertainment system on board. And oh yes, Wenddy Goh, leading flight stewardess from SQ is really hospitable. She even asked if I needed some children’s souveniours for my kids! So nice right! If only Singapore Airlines have more of cabin crew like her! Kudos to you, Wenddy! (Yes, it’s double ‘d’). And I also met a steward who was doing his 4th (and last) SNY. Hope he’ll enjoy his flying career!

11:00pm Wines, checked! Alcohol, checked! Perfumes, checked! Luggage, check! Okie! Time to go home! Hey, where in the bl**dy h*ll is Ryan??? Missing again?! With my cats?!?!

KOR’07: Day 6

Travelogue October 21st, 2007

Wow! It’s day 6 already! Time really flies, doesn’t it? Especially when you are overseas. Got up really early today because for once, I decided to go to the DMZ – the demilitarized zone between the north and south Koreas. Paid a hefty 46,000 won for it and mistakenly not opt for the other 52,000 won option which includes lunch. =( blur me.

6:00am Got up early in the morning! 6am! Can you believe it? Who gets up at 6am on a holiday? =P Then again, this isn’t really a holiday. Oh well. I soaked myself in the bath tub for a good 30 mins before realizing that I was going to be late! Sigh. No more morning tours for me next time.

7:40am Got to Lotte Hotel on time where PTC – the travel agency was located. Quickly paid up everything and went to the lobby to join the rest of the tour group which was organized by someone else. Unfortunately for me, I ended up joining a Japanese tour group and I didn’t understand Japanese! Thank goodness there is a personal guide of sorts and she translated everything in English.

8:00am Feel asleep on bus. Don’t ask me what happened. Haha….

8:30am Shucks! I got mixed up on all the places that I visited. I think there is this bell for you to ring for your wish of reunification, that’s also the same place where you can see the unification bridge that is build by Hyundai to enable South Korea to send rice and stuffs to the north. That’s where you can also buy nice satay sticks for breakfast! Heh heh…

Following which, we went to this place where you can see the entire DMZ stretch between the north and the south. In fact you can also see the flags on each side of the great divide. No cameras are allowed beyond a certain point at the viewing area, so do bring along a nice small camouflagable camera if you intend to flout the rule. The alternatie is to bring along a DSLR with a good long distance lens. =P The US soldiers are also nice to take pictures with and they are rather friendly. Just be nice to them. =)

After the viewing area was the Gyeongju station between Seoul and PyeongYang. You may get there via KTX and also get a commemorative stamp on your passport stating that you are 200+ km from PyeongYang and 50+ km from Seoul (yes, DMZ is outside, north of Seoul). There are some nice gifts that you can get from the giftshop inside the station. No bargaining is required because the prices are rather fixed. =P

Following that, we went to look at the 3rd tunnel that was found to be dug by the North Koreans in an attempt to invade the South. It was found out after some North Korean defected to the South and when the South asked the North about the tunnel, the latter claimed that they were digging for coal. Ya, right. In a granite area. In fact, the North Koreans smeared coal powder on the granites to pass them off as coal mines. How silly can they get. Of course the South Koreans knew about the planned invasion – you just had someone who defected there!

Anyway no cameras are allowed into the tunnel and we had to deposit our bags into a locker. We also had to wear a safety helmet (like that of a construction helmet) before going into the tunnel. There is a roller coaster kinda transporter that brought up some 200m below ground level to where the North Koreans stopped digging. At first, we were all wondering what was the use of the helmet, until someone’s helmet got hit by some low-lying rocks sticking out from the top of the tunnel! Haha… and oh, I had my handy Nokia phone with me…. ahem.. for emergency calls. Afterall, no photo taking was allowed inside.

After reaching the bottom of the… “rollercoaster ride”, we had to continue the journey into the tunnel dug by the North Koreans by foot. The place is artificially cooled by airconditioners and it seemed like a really wet place. The tunnel was abruptedly blocked because the South Koreans didn’t want the North Koreans to attempt entering/invading the South again. I heard that there were also landmines in the rest of the tunnels! Oh gosh!

Yup, that was the last leg of the DMZ tour. The trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA) was not available and so I won’t be able to “cross the boundary”. Sigh.

12:00pm Returned to City Hall Station (no, not the Singapore one) where I proceeded to… guess where? MyeongDong!!! Yes, counted the wrong number things that I had to buy, so I had to go back there for the…. 5th time? … to get my stuffs. Yes! It’s finally done and I’m free! Woohoo! But following this was a mad rush! And oh, I got my Giordano sweater as well! It’s really nice and I was sure that they don’t have it in Singapore. =P In fact, they have an Autumn collection that Singapore will never have. =(

3:00pm Time for my last series of 2 appointments! Finally settled that as well… while waiting at Starbucks during the interval. It’s finally over and done! Woot! Haha…

5:00pm Went down to Express Bus Terminal to get an extra luggage! Yes, that’s how much things I have bought! Pants (lots of it), some clothes (tops), sweaters, teddy bears, cosmetics, souveniors and lots of information booklets. Heh heh… Started to pack my things finally. Whew! There are really a lot of things! Think i am going to have overweight baggage tomorrow! Shucks! And it’s 12,000 won / kg. Let’s just hope that the anal security guard won’t be at the airport tomorrow.

2:00am Okie. Finally getting some sleep…. goodnight people! =)

KOR’07: Day 5

Travelogue October 21st, 2007

Whee! Brand new day! Brand new Looooooooong day! Sigh. Woke up at 8am again for another appointment. Oh well, was hoping that I could get more things done today, but apparently I didn’t. Not everyday is Sunday, ya?

8:30am Dragged myself out of bed, washed up and went out for my appointment. Yes, I seem to have many appointments ya? Which is why this trip is really not so much of a leisure trip. =( Thankfully the trip ended early and I managed to explore the area a little.

By the time I was done, it was almost 11:30am, which meant that MacDonald’s was serving lunch. I tried their spicy foldover and my verdict is – DON’T TRY!!! The patty is a little overdone and too dry, and is nowhere as soft as Singapore’s. The drinks and everything else is ok though. And oh, some branches serve plastic cups… that are not meant to be taken home. Heh heh. And you have to clear your own tables else you will be stopped at the door and ordered to do a lot of CWOs.

Okie, was just kidding about the CWOs, but please do clear your own trays and tables. =)

Following which, I went to look for the Hard Rock Cafe shop because the actual cafe will only be ready next year in Itaewon. This is the familiar Radish place that people usually go to to get chop. Ok. Maybe it’s not that bad, but a few bad experiences from the locals thinking that I am an ang-mo or ABC is bad enough. I won’t entirely recommend this place, but if you do go there, please keep your wallet close to you. No, they wouldn’t rob you. They’d just make you part with your money willingly because it’d seem like you are getting a good deal. Then again, this is my personal opinion and the whole lot of them are usually not bad apples.

4:30pm Guess where I went to? Did I hear Itaewon? Yes, you are right! Haha… talk about warning others not to go there. Actually I did nothing more than just getting souveniers for some friends. The prices of such stuffs are pretty standard and it doesn’t really matter if you get it from MyeongDong, Dongdaemun or Itaewon. It generally doesn’t cost you more than US$20 to get enough gifts for 8 people, but I generally try to get something better. Heh heh. 😉

7:00pm Went to Yongsan to get my daily groceries. There’s an e-Mart megamart there that sells supermarket stuffs. If you are adventurous enough, you can actually go to B2 and take a tour of duty to try all their sample foods and drinks. They are usually more than happy to let you try them out since:

  • the food/drinks are already cooked/prepared
  • no one will buy them if no one tried them
  • it keeps them busy for a while

And they are really friendly people so you can actually try the food/drinks without worrying about them pulling a long face that you are not getting any stuffs. It is also a good place for getting contraband stuffs chewing gum, but please finish them before landing in Singapore. The fine for non-compliance is up to S$5000 fine or 6 months jail or 4 strokes caning or any or all of the above. So, do consider carefully before smuggling them in.

8:00pm After getting all my groceries and contrabands, it’s time to hit the mountains! Mt. Namsam, that it. It’s the hill where the N Seoul Tower is located. It’s about 3 hours walk up by foot but is easily accessible by cable car from somewhere 15 minutes away from MyeongDong or via bus 02 from Chungmuro Station. You can use your T-Money card to pay for the bus up and it’s 700 won if I didn’t remember wrongly. It’s slightly colder up there, but you can get a significant view from the tower.

There is a food court located at the towe and the food is reasonably priced – pretty much like that of the foodcourt in Seoul city area itself. The Katsu is nice if you like fried stuffs. And the soup is just as great. Kimchi and pickles are freeflow, so do help them to yourselves.

There is a dessert place just outside/upstairs of the foodcourt but I have not been there before. There is also another restaurant located just beside the foodcourt, but I didn’t fancy eating out in the cold. I think it doubles up as a bar too. If you want to go up the observatory, it’d set you back by about 7000 won, meals excluded. There are 2 restaurants up in the tower, and you may opt to dine there.

Once up there, you may see countries/cities engraved onto the glass. I think they are just stickers stuck onto the glass but I didn’t check it out because I have vertigo. There’s also a lion made of rubber tire shreds, if you are keen to know. It reminds me of the Singaporean lion. Haha… roar!

The place closes at about 1030pm, which was the time that I stayed to. They will then herd everyone off from the observatory. Do time your stay if you decided to appreciate the sky view longer.

Once out of the tower, you have 2 ways down – by foot or bus. You may take bus 02 to return to Chungmuro/Dongguk station or 03 to return to Itaewon. There is a cable car station too with a small family restaurant next to the station. I have walked past it before but never really tried it. If you do decide to try it, do let me know if it’s a nice place 😉

11:00pm After a long day… it’s home sweet home again! Woohoo….. zzzzzz….. DMZ tomorrow! Woot! Woot!

KOR’07: Day 4

Travelogue October 21st, 2007

Day 4 is a particularly lazy day because everyone starts late! Heh heh. I didn’t wake up till 11am in the morning and had to drag myself out of bed and into the wilderness open.

12:00pm Dragged myself out of bed into the open. Took train down to Gangnam Station and looked for Kyobo bookstore. Got 2 maps and lotsa books from there! Heh heh. Went on to Dos Tacos for lunch. They serve fantastic Mexican snacks/food. But it’s hidden in a corner where you’d have to look carefully to find it. Clue: It’s not too far from Kyobo building in Gangnam. Just look out for it.

I ordered 1 Hard Taco and a Cheese and Salsa nachos. It was heavenly! Woohoo! The drinks were nice and so were the lady boss and her hubby, who is the owner of the place. Took some pictures and was supposed to send it to her. =)

2:00pm Got down to going to Lotte World. I’ve been in Seoul for so long and so many times but this is the first time that I am heading down to Lotte World. If you go after 5pm, you pay about 5000 won lesser and probably another price after 7pm. There are “General Passes” and “Full/Special Passes”, that allows you 3-5 free rides and unlimited rides respectively. Take the latter one if you are not sure. =) Saves you quite a fair bit of hussle.

Once inside there are 2 parts – inner and outer themes. Hint: The roller coaster is located inside and is called the French Revolution. I hard a hard time looking for that. The others are quite common – Viking, free drops, rotating cups, etc. You are probably survive with the General Pass, but I’d still suggest the other one because you can get to go into the Folk Museum. =) Food is generally a little more expensive inside but it’s not too much a difference.

And if you like Walt Disney (as in Disneyland), there is a small mock up version of it outside, so you can take some pictures with it in the background. Really nice, really beautiful. =) And oh, I met an Indian family and their Korean is much better than mine! Talk about Klobalization (Korea + Globalization).

9:00pm Yes! It was 9pm by the time I left Lotte. Haha… spent about 5 hours there including the ending show. It was worth it if you ask me, but I’d probably go there just once unless I bring kids along next time. The next thing to try would be Everland… heh heh 😉

KOR’07: Day 3

Travelogue October 19th, 2007

11:00am Got up early in the morning (yes, 11am is early when you are on a holiday, well, sort of a holiday) Met Joshua to discuss about cooperation between Singapore and Korea on Bioinformatics. Both of us are from the respective regional societies are we were meeting up for the first time to discuss about possible collaborations between the 2 countries. I am hopping for a milestone project to come around soon. We had initially planned to get some lunch from Insadong, but he was unable to find the place that he was looking for. In the end, we settle for some good old 1970s korean food tucked away in a little known place. =) Following that, we had coffee at Coffee Bean near Deoksugung where we discussed about singapore-Korean ties.

4:00pm Joshua had to return to Daejon for the day while I, well, went to Myeongdong to get more stuffs. Haha… yes, this was trip #2 to MyeongDong. I got some pants from there, which apparently went for a rather good price. Got some sweaters and coats as well because it’s usually hard to find them in Singapore, and even when you do, it’s usually rather expensive. Had ginseng chicken soup there, which hardly tasted anything near it. I guess they watered it too much such that it tastes a little like… chicken dipped in hot water. Oh well, for 10,000 won, I can’t expect too much, can I?

7:00pm Continued shopping in MyeongDong. Yes, when it comes to shopping, women can usually walk the distance of a 16km road much, in full battle order armed with bags of purchases and not complain about being tired at all. More walking entailed for the rest of the evening. But for once, I decided to retire a little earlier because tomorrow is weekend! And weekend means…. more shopping! Heh heh…

9:30pm Finally reached The Resting Place where I tried on the pants that I got. It was a perfect fit! Great! I’m going to get more tomorrow! Weeeeeee! And the top seems really good. Wished I can post some pictures up now… but oh well. =) The ginseng chicken soup turned out not to be too filling, so I had to get some instant noodles from the family mart downstairs. Thank goodness I got some spare chopsticks else I’d be eating with bare fingers!

The weather is rather cold outside @ 12 deg, if I am not wrong. Blankets! I need blankets! Sigh.. this is the only time that I miss Singapore… and oh, because it’s not winter yet, they do not turn on the floor heating. Argh!