With all the bad news going around on the opposition, there’s finally some good stuffs from the opposition. I’m really glad for them because this shows that the opposite can also live up to the promise. In fact, Chiam is probably one of the more well-respected opposition because his views and reason are real and down to earth. Showing that he cares for the people in his ward also helps a lot.

However, there had been signs of his aging and he suffered a mild stroke earlier this year. Quite little was done in planning for succession and there might be a chance that the current ruling party in Parliament may claim victory in the next general election. Oppositions like him are rare. Let’s hope that there is succession to the good work that he’s done.

THE completion of a covered walkway in Potong Pasir marks the fulfillment of a promise Mr Chiam See Tong made during the 2006 General Election.

On Saturday, the opposition MP ‘opened’ the walkway which links the MRT station to the town centre, amid a shower of colourful confetti and a rousing lion dance.

Hailing the walkway as proof that the opposition ‘will fulfill whatever we promise’, he told reporters: ‘At the last election, I said I will build this covered linkway, and now this task has been completed. We have done our job.’

The project, which costs the town council $250,000, also ended a dispute between Mr Chiam and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin from the People’s Action Party, who lost the contest for the ward in 2006 polls.

Before the election, Mr Sitoh had installed solar lamps along the pathway – where the walkway now stands – after obtaining lease of the land from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

When some of the lights were vandalised, Mr Sitoh declined to repair them, saying the land’s lease was due to expire.

Mr Chiam, on the other hand, said it was illegal for his town council to use its funds for the repairs, as the land was not under the council’s jurisdiction.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 31st May 2008

According to Sentosa Leisure Group Director, Service Quality & Communications, an unforeseen technical malfunction yesterday (30 May 2008) forced the cancellation of the two nightly shows for Songs of the Sea at 7.40pm and 8.40pm. It occurred just before the 7.40 show. As the management did not offer cash refund on the day of event,  the crowds were angry and disappointed with the service quality of Singapore. 

The management should have made immediate refunds so as to make the crowd less unhappy. At Sentosa, we are not only talking about Singaporeans, but we have to consider the number of tourists affected too. Well, I hope those tourists affected will not have a bad impression of Singapore because of this particular incident.

These patrons waiting to watch Sentosa’s Songs of the Sea show got really frustrated and angry at the counter staff, as no cash refund was given, and the STOMPer who was there feels this is a disgrace. Even the police had to be called in, he recounted.
In an email to STOMP on May 31, the STOMPer said:

“It started with a trip to Sentosa, where my girlfriend’s foreigner friend decided to catch the “Songs of the Sea” show, since it’s all so famous, featured all over the world in our Uniquely Singapore campaign.

“We reached Vivocity in the early afternoon, paid for 3 entrance ticket ($3 each), to enter Sentosa. After we arrived at the Beach Station, we headed straight to the ticketing counter to buy tickets to the earliest show at 7.40pm ($6 each).

“We then walked around the beach waiting for the show to start.

“At about 7.30pm, we headed to the entrance, waiting for the show to start. We waited till 7.55pm, and then we were told that the show was canceled due to “some technical difficulties”.”

Angry at the wait, the STOMPer said they rushed to the ticketing counter to get a refund.
“All this while fuming mad. We came all the way to catch this show, and it’s canceled at such a timing?”

However, the STOMPer was in for a shock, as no cash refund was provided, he said.

“What we’ll be getting is a lousy piece of voucher that gives us $6 worth of credits that we could use at the gift shop ONLY at the monorail station, OR, come back and catch the show another day (within the 3 months validity period).

“It was not known when the show will resume, since this “technical difficulty” caused the 8.40pm show to be canceled as well.”

He added:”Loads of foreign visitors were equally fuming as well, since they are tourists, and would not be back visiting Sentosa anytime soon.

“Like wise, we paid a total of $27 to catch this show, and frankly both me and my girlfriend just isn’t interested to catch this show anytime within 3 months either. ”

He estimates the number of visitors to the show to be about 1,000 and described the tense situation:

“Some foreigners began to bang tables; staff (including a manager at the counter) just nonchalantly said “Sentosa will never give cash refunds. If you’re interested in swapping tickets for vouchers, step forward.”

“When these visitors demanded for cash refunds, rangers were called in to shove them aside. Police were later called to control the crowd. ”

On the impression this incident would create, he added:

“As a Singaporean myself, I can’t help to feel disgusted, and even ashamed that such acts are done right on Singaporean grounds. What happened to GEMS?

“We’ve went through many, many campaigns to bring good service in Singapore, and we could not even fulfill a simple task of refunding cash when goods are not delivered.

“To make things worse, we have tourists involved in this saga. What kind of image are we projecting to these visitors? Are we much akin to thugs who shove people aside should there be an argument?

“I am seriously embarrassed over this incident. My girlfriend’s friend have gave up on Singaporean service after this incident. ”

The Police told STOMP a call was received at about7:50pm about a rowdy crowd at Sentosa’s Siloso Beach formed due to the cancellation of a show caused by a technical glitch.

The Police assisted in crowd control.

Sentosa says it is offering cash refunds in its statement to STOMP. Read its full story here.

Another STOMPer also had a similar experience. Read his account here.

Article obtained from  STOMP at http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/singaporeseen/viewContent.jsp?id=24721

So, Ms Chee Siok Chin, sister of Dr Chee Soon Juan, got charged and was found guilty of contempt of court yesterday. This was because the judge felt that their behavior in the cross-examination of PM Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee Kuan Yew was grossly disgraceful and obstructed the delivery of justice.

Dr Chee will be brought to court on a later date and will be defended by Mr Jeyaretnam in court. Personally, I felt that the judge was extremely fast in bringing the duo to court, at least from the layman’s (me) perspective.

MS CHEE Siok Chin, the sister of Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan, was found guilty of contempt of court yesterday and will be sentenced on Monday.

Meanwhile, High Court judge Belinda Ang adjourned her brother’s hearing for a similar offence to Monday, ‘as a matter of courtesy to Mr (J.B.) Jeyaretnam’.

On Thursday, Dr Chee had engaged Mr Jeyaretnam, the former Workers’ Party leader and a lawyer, to represent him, but the latter could not make it to yesterday’s hearing.

Mr Jeyaretnam, when asked over the phone his reasons for taking on Dr Chee’s case, responded: ‘Why can’t I?’

Mr Jeyaretnam became an opposition MP in 1981, but has been in the political wilderness since 2001. That was when he was declared bankrupt for failing to pay damages totalling about $600,000 from defamation lawsuits.

He managed to settle his debts last year and made his political comeback last month by filing an application to set up the Reform Party.

Dr Chee has not commented on why he decided to have Mr Jeyaretnam represent him, after having either represented himself or engaged lawyer M. Ravi in almost all his cases in recent years.

Still, there was a point in court yesterday when Dr Chee appeared ready to jettison the 82-year-old in favour of Mr Ravi, who acted for his sister yesterday.

After Mr Ravi had concluded his defence of Ms Chee, Dr Chee stood up to ask for a short break. He wanted to have a discussion with Mr Ravi about the prospect of using him and his arguments instead of waiting for Monday and Mr Jeyaretnam.

However, when the proceedings resumed 15 minutes later, he said that he would stick with Mr Jeyaretnam.

The contempt charges against the Chees were for their behaviour during a three-day hearing this week to assess damages in a defamation suit brought against them by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Justice Ang said on the third day of the hearings that Dr Chee and Ms Chee had behaved in a manner that ’scandalised the court, adversely affected the administration of justice and impugned the dignity and the authority of the court’.

Defending Ms Chee, Mr Ravi used a total of four analogies to make the point that the contempt proceedings should have been made at the moment the offence was committed and not delayed until the end.

He compared it to fetching a fire extinguisher only after a building had burnt down, shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted, invoking self-defence as a basis for hostilities two days after warring parties had withdrawn from the battlefield and showing a red card to a player after a football game has ended.

‘There was no attempt to give a yellow card as warning in this case by way of citation of contempt,’ he asserted.

However, Justice Ang did not agree with his analogies and found Ms Chee guilty.

The Chees will appear in court again on Monday, Ms Chee for sentencing and Dr Chee to defend against contempt charges.

Going by Dr Chee’s previous contempt-of-court trial, the Chees could be in for prison terms.

Two years ago, Dr Chee was sentenced to one day in jail and a $6,000 fine for contempt in scandalising the court. He did not pay the fine and was jailed a further seven days.

jeremyau@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 31st May 2008

An earlier article by a STOMPer says his experiences with several events organised during NUS’s admission exercise, and a recent encounter with a lecturer there, led him to the university is arrogant and that it belittles poly graduates. With regards to this, NUS replied to STOMP that they welcomes students from all educational backgrounds and a fair number of polytechnic students have gained admission to NUS and successfully graduated.

I think it is quite normal that people belittles poly graduates or even ITE students. From my own experience, when people know that you are from a neighbourhood school, they belittle you as well. However, so long as you are confident about yourself, I guess you don’t really have to be bothered about what others think.

NUS would like assure the public that it does not discriminate against polytechnic students, and that it welcomes students from all educational backgrounds.

This statement came in response to an article in STOMP, in which a STOMPer said that his experiences with a rude lecturer and several events organised during the university’s admission exercise, led him to believe that the university is arrogant and belittles poly graduates.

In its reply, NUS said:

“We refer to the feedback from a STOMP contributor posted on 26 May 2008, titled ‘NUS admission exercise show of arrogance and belittling of polygrads’.

“We are sorry to hear that the contributor had an unpleasant experience at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Science (FoS) Open House held on 24 May 2008.

“We would like to assure the contributor and all readers that NUS welcomes students from all educational backgrounds.

“Admission to NUS is largely based on academicmerit. We also admit up to 10 per cent of students under the category of discretionary admission.

“A fair number of polytechnic students have gained admission to NUS and successfully graduated.

“The Open House was an initiative by FoS to invite prospective undergraduates (both Polytechnic and A-level graduates) who have been offered admission to the Faculty.

“At the event, more than 30 talks by faculty members and Science alumni, as well as lab tours were organised to provide an overview of an NUS Science education from variousfronts – academic rigor, student experiences, career options, as well as opportunities for graduate education.

“Over 1000 students and parents attended the FoS Open House and visitors had found it helpful speaking to faculty members, students and alumni atthe event, before accepting the offer from NUS.

“NUS is open to students from all educational backgrounds and we remain committed to providing a holistic education aimed at fully developing the intellectual and personal strengths of students.

“We hope the contributor can contact us at Tel: 65163333 as we would like to address his concerns.”

Are you one of those respondents who are not aware that smoking can cause blindness? An article by Linda Kaspari states that cigarette smoking reduces levels of plasma antioxidant, a substance in the blood stream, which protects retinal cells. Smoking causes the protective layer between the retina and blood vessels to erode, resulting in poor circulation, irritation and scarring.

Many smokers know that smoking can cause stroke and diseases such as lung and throat cancers but continues to smoke. Will smokers start to quit smoking if they know that it will lead to blindness? Or will they just ignore it as it is just adding another disease to the list.

Other related articles:
Did you know smoking can cause Blindness?
Smoking can cause Blindness

Most people know that smoking can cause stroke and diseases such as lung and throat cancers, but many are unaware that taking that puff can also cause blindness.

This is according to the first cross-cultural survey between Singapore’s Alexandra Hospital and Scotland’s Ninewell Hospital, which polled over 200 respondents in the two countries.

While more than eight in ten are aware of the more common diseases afflicting smokers, only about three in ten regard blindness as a smoking-related condition.

The fact is, experts say, smoking increases the risk of age-related deterioration of the retina by four times and triples the risk for cataract clouding.

The study also showed that graphic warning labels on cigarette packs may just be the extra push needed to get smokers to stub it out.

Eight in ten Singaporeans either felt fearful or disgusted when shown the images.

Only about a quarter of respondents from both countries said the labels will have no effect in getting them to stop smoking.

Alexandra Hospital said it is in talks with the Health Promotion Board to include on cigarette packs a warning on the risk of blindness.

CNA

Damn. I’m in the midst of fixing it now. Will be right back soon.

It feels like life is so unfair. I mean… local graduates from business schools are being pursue with job offers a year before they graduate! While non-business school graduate have to search for a job and get it only a month after graduating.

TALENT is so sought after for the financial sector that local and foreign employers are sounding out students about job offers a year before they graduate.

In fact, the majority of graduates from business schools at the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) secured jobs while they were still in school – a fact that could help explain why business courses are wildly popular among those applying for varsity admission.

But non-business students can take heart too. A survey by NTU of its graduating class this year shows that nine out of 10 graduates landed jobs within a month of leaving school, and their average starting salary is $2,900, up $210 from last year.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 29th May 2008

Well, if you are, then here’s some news to keep you slightly happy for a while. There will be a 1/2 month bonus (which I thought was somewhat like a mid-year AWS) and a one-off bonus of $100 for division 1 and 2 officers and $250 and $300 for division 3 and 4 officers respectively. This is supposedly in like with the National Wage Council’s recommendation.

SOME 60,000 civil servants in Singapore will get a half-month mid-year bonus in July and an inflation bonus of between $100 and $300.

Officers in the lower divisions – Division III and IV – will receive $250 and $300 respectively, while those in Division I and II will get $100.

The additional payment is in line with the National Wages Council’s recommendation this month for a one-off special payment, with a larger amount going to low-wage workers, to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

NTUC deputy secretary-general Halimah Yacob hopes the private sector will make a similar one-off payment to lower-paid workers.

And here’s more news. Something is better than nothing, right? =)

SINGAPORE’S 60,000 civil servants will receive a one-off ‘inflation bonus’ along with a mid-year payout of a half-month’s salary come July.

This one-off special payment ranges from $100 to $300, with officers in lower divisions getting more.

That is in line with the National Wages Council’s call two weeks ago for such a payment to help rank-and-file workers – particularly the low-wage workers – better cope with the impact of inflation.

This tiered amount is a departure from previous years when the amount given to officers was similar across the board.

Last year, for example, all civil servants received a one-off payment of $220 in addition to their mid-year bonus of half-a-month’s salary.

As has been the case in the past, yesterday’s announcement by the Government – Singapore’s largest employer – will likely serve as a guide for the private sector.

The bonus comes against the backdrop of an economy that grew 6.7 per cent in the first three months of the year.

This is up from the 5.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2007, the Public Service Division said.

It also noted that the Trade and Industry Ministry expects the Singapore economy to grow by 4 per cent to 6 per cent for the whole year.

What is different this year is that the one-off payment will vary.

Officers in the lower divisions – III and IV – will receive $250 and $300 respectively.

These are civil servants with educational qualifications of O levels and below.

Division I officers, who are graduates, and Division II officers – those who are diploma and A level holders – will get $100.

This was met with approval from the labour movement.

Mr G Muthukumarasamy, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, said it ‘means a lot’ for his union members:

‘This sum will go a long way to help them offset some of their living expenses.’

NTUC deputy secretary-general Halimah Yacob hopes the private sector will take the cue ‘and pay particular attention to lower-wage workers by extending a special one-off payment to offset the rising cost of living and inflation’.

The Government said it will decide on the year-end bonus for civil servants when Singapore’s economic performance in the second half of this year is clearer. Last year, it gave out a year-end bonus of two months.

xueying@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 29th May 2008

Singapore Democratic Party Chief Dr Chee Soon Juan had was to have cross-examined PM Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee Kuan Yew in court today for assessment of damages, according to the Lees, for "the gravest defamation that has ever been considered in a Singapore court". Mr Singh, the lawyer acting for the Lees, called Dr Chee a scaredy-general while MM Lee called him a political juvenile and near-psychopath.

This is possible because Dr Chee was reportedly not able to conduct a proper cross-examination in court and declaring the entire process and being hideous. In addition, he added that "(the Lees) have chopped off their legs, lopped off their arms, and they expect them to continue with the assessment of damages?". Other questions that were posed by Dr Chee was deemed as irrelevant by the judge.

The hearing continues at 2.30pm today, with each side having an hour-and-a-half each to make its closing statement.

THE open-court hearing into assessment of damages in what lawyers for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew called the ‘gravest defamation that has ever been considered in a Singapore court’ finally began yesterday afternoon.

However, even though PM Lee arrived at Court 4B at 2.30pm all ready to take the stand, it was not till 3.20pm that his cross-examination by the defendants began.

As in closed-door hearings two weeks ago and last week, there continued to be delays, distractions and disruptions aplenty.

The defendants – the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), represented by lawyer M. Ravi, its chief Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin who represented themselves – made more last-minute applications, including for an adjournment of the entire hearing by a few months.

In the morning, lawyers for the Lees, led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier, and the defendants argued before Justice Belinda Ang behind closed doors over striking out of the affidavits of the Chee siblings and their witness, former solicitor-general Francis Seow, which Mr Singh argued were irrelevant and scandalous.

Justice Ang, who began hearing this issue last Thursday and Friday, agreed to Mr Singh’s application yesterday morning.

Her decision prompted the Chees to seek an adjournment of the damages hearing to give them time to prepare.

But Justice Ang did not allow further delays, and ordered that the damages hearing start at 2.30pm.

The Chees can still appeal at a later date, and if they succeed, there will be a retrial.

Still, the hearing did not start on time as the Chee siblings were late by 15 minutes.

Instead of beginning his cross-examination of PM Lee when he arrived, Dr Chee stood to ‘address the Court’.

Declaring the ‘entire process quite hideous’, he alleged that his case had been crippled from the start. ‘You have chopped off our legs, lopped off our arms, and you expect us to continue with the assessment of damages?’

Mr Singh countered that Dr Chee was simply afraid to cross-examine the Lees.

Pointing to PM Lee, Mr Singh added: ‘He sees my client in court, he has panicked. The scaredy-general, sorry, the secretary-general, of the SDP, should stand up and be counted. He has on his website been saying he wants to cross-examine Mr Lee.’

Later in the afternoon, more interruptions followed with Mr Ravi and Ms Chee also weighing in to apply for adjournments. They failed.

When PM Lee finally took the stand, he was cross-examined by Mr Ravi, followed by Dr Chee who did not complete his questioning yesterday.

And while the cross-examination was civil, Mr Singh queried how relevant several lines of questioning were to the assessment of damages, for example: ‘Does your family control Singapore?’ and ‘Do you hate Dr Chee?’

When Mr Ravi asked if PM Lee was aware that the Chees were already bankrupt and thus the Lees could have nothing to gain from the defamation suit, he replied:

‘This case is not about money. It is about establishing truth and putting a stop to poisonous lies.’

The hearing continues today, with Dr Chee resuming his cross-examination of PM Lee.

MM Lee, who was in court from 4.05pm yesterday, is expected to take the stand as well.

sueann@sph.com.sg

And in today’s papers, MM Lee called the SDP Chief a political juvenile and near-psychopath:

MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew called Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan a ‘near-psychopath’ and a ‘political juvenile’, while Dr Chee accused MM Lee of curbing his political life and curtailing their face-off in court.

Potshots and political speeches filled Day 2 of the open court hearing to assess the damages that the SDP, its chief and his sister Chee Siok Chin have to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee, following a defamation judgment in 2006.

Under cross-examination by SDP’s lawyer M. Ravi, MM Lee declared of Dr Chee: ‘He’s a liar, a cheat, and altogether an unscrupulous man. I could also add that I’ve had several of my own doctors who are familiar with such conduct… tell me that he is near-psychopath.’

The SDP leader, he added later when cross-examined by Dr Chee himself, should take a leaf from veteran opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam’s book. He recently set up the Reform Party.

The latter had discharged himself from bankruptcy so that he can contest future elections, while Dr Chee had ‘neutered’ himself politically by remaining a bankrupt.

‘You may believe that being bankrupt does not mean anything, but then, you are a political juvenile,’ he charged.

Dr Chee’s conduct had destroyed the SDP, he said.

‘The SDP was doing very well under Mr Chiam See Tong, and at one time captured three seats (in Parliament), and it became the de facto leader.

‘You came in, and destroyed the SDP. As a result, the Workers’ Party has become the de facto leader.’

Dr Chee, said Mr Lee, ought to emulate opposition MPs such as Mr Chiam and Mr Low Thia Khiang who had managed to get elected without defaming anyone.

‘They have won successive elections, but you have lost successively, because we have proved to the people that you are not to be believed,’ said Mr Lee.

MM Lee took the stand at 12.50pm, after PM Lee, who stepped down from the witness box at 12.15pm.

Where Monday’s hearing had been fraught with delays and disruptions, yesterday’s proceeded with speed and efficiency – even to the extent of skipping lunch.

This was because Justice Belinda Ang granted a request from Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, lawyer for the Lees, to impose a guillotine time of two hours for the questioning of MM Lee.

After the cross-examination of PM Lee on Monday, said Mr Singh, it became obvious that the Chees simply wanted to ‘insult’, ‘annoy’ and ’scandalise’, and to turn the hearing into ‘political theatre’, rather than to make a substantive case.

Both sides spent 50 minutes arguing the guillotine issue.

‘You’ve already chopped off our arms, legs, what do you want next, our heads?’ said Ms Chee, in a direct reference to the guillotine.

Still, when Dr Chee resumed his cross-examination of PM Lee yesterday, his first 20 or so questions did not get a reply as they were ruled irrelevant by the judge.

Nearing lunch time, Mr Singh asked for the hearing to continue over the lunch hour, but with a 10-minute break, so that MM Lee could attend to ‘important matters’ later in the afternoon.

Ms Chee objected, arguing that she needed to eat so that she could take medication, while Mr Ravi quipped: ‘My stomach has not been given notice.’

Ms Chee brought food into the courtroom later but did not eat it.

The cross-examination of MM Lee lasted till 3.15pm, after which he and PM Lee left the court.

The hearing continues at 2.30pm today, with each side having an hour-and-a-half each to make its closing statement.

sueann@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th May 2008

Since 90% of the Johor petrol kiosks business comes from foreigners, petrol kiosks say they “will die” without business from Singaporeans. I doubt the petrol kiosks will risk the fine of RM250,000 just to get more businesses from Singapore motorists. Is this a good or bad implementation?

JOHOR petrol station operators and businesses are up in arms over a move by authorities there to ban foreign-registered vehicles from Singapore and Thailand from buying fuel at stations within 50km of its borders.

Without business from Singaporeans, petrol kiosks say they “will die” since as much as 90 per cent of their business comes from foreigners, said The Straits Times. Other businesses like hypermarts and restaurants will be affected too, as they depend largely on Singaporeans.

The fuel ban is due to take effect on Friday, and is aimed at preventing foreign vehicles from benefitting from heavily-subsidised fuel, which amounted to RM40 billion (S$16.8 billion) last year. The move will affect about 300 petrol kiosks.

BH Petrol kiosk assistant Chai Shao Chin, 37, said half of the kiosk’s customers are Singaporeans, adding: “Business will be down. There are so many kiosks, some will even have to close shop.”

Agreeing, Shell chain dealer Sallehuddin Saidon, 46, said: “Surely there will be lower volume. This ruling is going to cripple Johor’s economy badly.” Forty per cent of his 1,000 weekday customers and 1,500 weekend customers are Singaporeans.

The Straits Times confirmed their fears. Most of a dozen Singapore motorists interviewed yesterday said they will cut back on trips across the Causeway.

According to the Land Transport Authority, about 16,000 local vehicles leave Singapore via the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints daily.

Subsidised petrol, regardless of brand, costs RM1.92 a litre, and diesel, RM1.58.

But Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman had told the media yesterday that the ruling will not hurt the state’s tourism industry, as Johor has other attractions for foreigners.

Most petrol kiosks say they will have to comply with the ban because the fine of RM250,000 is just too hefty to risk getting caught.

- AsiaOne