There’s much much speculation that Mrs Lee Kuan Yew has rested in peace and the topic was brought up over the coffee table again. In fact, the news "leaked" out as early as 26th June 2008 in some popular forums. As the last news of her being admitted was announced 3 days after it happened (admitted to hospital on 12th May 2008, announced in papers on 15th May 2008), netizens have been using the 72 hours lag as a guidelines as to when news of her demise will come.

72 hours is long, gone, over and there had been no news. Although we spotted some ang chias along North Bridge Road yesterday, we don’t think it’s got anything to do with Mrs Lee. So… shall we all move on? News will be news when it’s newsworthy. =)

But seriously, we are really so looking forwarded to it? Shadowfox highlighted some forums where this is apparently going on. Some hate her simply because she’s the wife of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, while others have grudges against her for setting up the Women’s Charter in Singapore. The apparent grudges for the latter was simply because the charter empowered "even into the most undeserving women who cheats in marriage and fully capable of fending for themselves".

This, of course is not necessarily true for all cases, bearing in mind that the initial purpose of the charter, extracted from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_Charter_(Singapore), was to:

… improve and protect the rights of females in Singapore and to guarantee greater legal equality for women in legally-sanctioned relationships (but not those of Muslims). Definitions of the rights of husbands and wives in marriage, as well as outlining legal potentialities with regard to divorce and separation, and the banning of polygamy are some of the major elements of the Act.

An amendment was passed to the Women’s Charter in 1996, which focused around rights regarding domestic abuse and matrimonial assets.

While some may argue that this is outdated as women are gaining more (very equal?) education and working opportunities that it should be abolished altogether. However, we have to remember that there is now another group of women coming into Singapore: foreign brides. This may of course open up another Pandora’s Box, where some think that foreign brides are here for another purpose; but I shall not visit that issue yet.

Essentially, the charter may be amended again, just like how car owners get their money back after scraping their cars. If we, according to the discussion forums in Straits Times Interactive, have such belief in the feedback system, I think the system will change gradually. Perhaps nothing drastic, but I think Singapore needs some time to adjust properly to a global change.

PS: For digging out whatever’s on the net (hey, it’s still quite a dig), have you cast your votes today? =)

Someone: Ya, cast already… but you didn’t say cast for who. kekeke… =P

Editor: Yikes! Please cast for Simply Jean. =P

The authors at Simply Jean made a couple of oversights in the blog posts that were being made public over the past 2 weeks. In part 1 of a 2 part series, we will address the first oversight – which was the post on Myanmar’s cyclone situation, where Myanmar’s effort was compared against China’s in the post dated 13th May 2008. We felt that the statement "to Myanmar: What use is a country when eventually people go against you? Or are you planning to suppress them regardless?" was rather unfair to the junta in Myanmar.

Firstly, Myanmar, being a sovereign country, has their own constitution and ways to run the country. The cyclone was indeed a sad incident that left many people in the country homeless, hopeless and hungry. While other countries may offer food and financial aid, doing so does not mean that Myanmar has to abide by the wishes of the helping countries. I’m sure Myanmar is trying to help those whom they have access to. While it had been reported that many are not receiving help, I would like to quote Foreign Minister George Yeo that "countries which want to help others struck by disasters must respect their autonomy" and that "(Yangon) have been quite clear about their policy that the rescue effort will be principally their own". I’m not sure if this meant not responding to any call for aid since rescue effort will be principally their own. For a moment, I thought this means that Myanmar have their own means of printing more money and growing more rice. Overnight.

While most of us feel for the hopeless victims, we have to understand that just as we do not want the United States government to come in and decide how much aid each destitute gets, the junta will not be happy if they allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to go into their country and creating a mess out of everything. Remember, mess is relative.

For this oversight, the authors of Simply Jean will like to apologise to the junta in Myanmar and the people in the country for being insensitive to their constitution by joining in the condemnation of the rescue efforts. Or the lack of it.

Beijing – Countries which want to help others struck by disasters must respect their autonomy, said Foreign Minister George Yeo yesterday.

He was speaking to Singapore reporters about the ongoing relief efforts in earthquake-hit Sichuan and cyclone-battered Myanmar, at the end of a four-day official visit to China.

While China has shed its traditional reluctance and welcomed relief teams from Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Russia in recent days following the 7.9-magnitude quake on Monday, Yangon is still turning away international aid agencies from Myanmar and keeping foreigners out of the disaster zone two weeks after Cyclone Nargis wreaked devastation.

But any outside help is always going to be supplementary only, since the key responsibility lies with the government of the affected country, said Mr Yeo.

‘We must respect the autonomy of countries and accept the fact that they know local situations better than foreign people ever can.’

Tomorrow, Asean’s foreign ministers will meet in Singapore to hammer out ways in which the regional grouping might help reclusive Myanmar in the aftermath of the cyclone, which has left at least 133,000 people dead or missing.

Playing down expectations ahead of the meeting, Mr Yeo said: ‘I don’t think the outcome will be a dramatic one because they (Yangon) have been quite clear about their policy that the rescue effort will be principally their own.’

Since Myanmar has been tight-lipped regarding the scale of destruction inside its borders, Asean needs to wait for Yangon to lay down what help it needs, he added.

‘We’ve extended our hands out to them and I’m quite sure that what they ask us to do, we will try to meet as much as we can.’

When calling on Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi yesterday, Mr Yeo briefed him on tomorrow’s meeting and raised the possibility that Asean and Beijing could look for ways to jointly help Myanmar, which is an ally of China’s.

Mr Yang welcomed Asean’s moves, said Mr Yeo.

Myanmar has accepted material aid but only a handful of aid teams from neighbouring countries – China, Bangladesh, India and Thailand – and nothing more, noted Mr Yeo.

Western countries feel much more should be done to help the victims, with some even suggesting that Myanmar should be force-fed aid, he added.

But he said: ‘I don’t see how this can be done because if we try to do that, it will only make the situation worse and it will increase the suffering of the people in Myanmar.’

Yangon is not the only country getting through a natural disaster on its own, noted the minister.

India dealt with the devastation of the 2004 tsunami on its own, as did Japan after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, he said.

Even as Myanmar struggles, the way Beijing is handling what’s been described as the country’s most devastating disaster since 1949 paints a contrasting picture.

‘You can see that they are completely on top of the situation,’ said Mr Yeo. ‘I believe they will emerge stronger, more united, more resilient.’

simcy@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 19th May 2008 dated 18th May 2008

It’s quite sad that Chengdu had been affected by the recent earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Ritcher scale. As the scale is logarithmic, that’s about 600 megatons of TNT, or 2.4EJ of energy. In layman’s term, it’s one helluva energy to be released. More facts can be found here. and death toll is expected to hit the tens of thousands if aftershocks create more damage.

This calamity happened shortly after Myanmar was hit by a cyclone. However, unlike Myanmar, there’s sufficient resources in China for the rescue missions. Myanmar, till date, has only shown concern with pushing its own propaganda to its people, with little regards to the pleas to allow UN aids to enter Myanmar. Due to the delay in delivery relief to the people, diseases are expected to be rampant, which will probably see a sharp increase in the death toll should the government remain stubborn in its stance. To Myanmar: What use is a country when eventually people go against you? Or are you planning to suppress them regardless?

While it’s only Day 1 of the aftermath, China has responded promptly on its rescue missions. While Taiwan has offered aid, China showed no resistance in accepting help from a country that it is still at loggerheads with. If indeed China accepts help from the Taiwanese counterpart, I guess it says a lot of how China is willing to put aside pride and politics and putting their people first.

It’s sad that the cyclone and earthquake happened back to back, and what saddens me more is how one country is unwilling to set aside its propaganda for the good of its people. The junta in Myanmar is having a wrong sense of priority and I hope the people can wake up eventually. To all the people who suffered in the calamity, I offer my deepest condolences and prayers.

By now, most people people would have known that this blogger got jailed, but what I couldn’t understand is why he is insisting on fasting. He might feel that he has suffered an injustice, he might have felt that the "jail term" was unnecessary, he might feel that everyone should just believe him that "Yes! Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife are really involved!"; however, he should have known better.

He reminds me of Singapore’s Dr Chee, who has so far shown defiance to the government on a public front. It’s not that I am condemning or disagreeing with what they are doing – but I’m sure they know; I’m sure the people know – that it’s futile to go against a system; and in the midst of it, making live so miserable for themselves.

What’s the point of starving and probably dying in jail? They will just be a name down in history. If that’s what they want, they might just even be a little successful, for a short while – because their actions will not cause any revolution, will not cause any sudden reforms, nor will their actions cause any change in mindset of the general people.

Probably… some people might just have given up about the whole situation.

KUALA LUMPUR – A MALAYSIAN blogger in jail after writing an article linking a top leader to the gruesome killing of a Mongolian woman has begun a hunger strike, his wife said on Wednesday.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, founder and editor of the popular Malaysia Today site, has been charged with sedition for implicating Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife in the October 2006 murder.

He refused to post bail set at 5,000 ringgit (S$2,182), opting instead to be locked up until his trial begins on October 6.

‘He is on a hunger strike. It is a protest. He is not guilty and he is being punished,’ his distraught wife, Ms Marina Lee Abdullah said.

‘The last time he did this, his liver was damaged. I don’t think he is going to last that long.’ Raja Petra has also refused visits by family members.

‘I don’t blame him but of course he’s my husband and… if he doesn’t want to meet even me, this means it is bad news,’ she said.

Pictures of the 57-year-old blogger looking defiant while behind bars at the court prison were this week splashed on the front pages of local papers.

‘I am not going to post bail. I don’t have the money,’ he told reporters in the packed courtroom on Tuesday.

If convicted, he faces a three-year jail term or a fine of up to 5,000 ringgit.

Blogger Ahirudin Attan, president of the National Alliance of Bloggers, said the ‘high-handed’ way in which Raja Petra was treated by authorities, threatened freedom of speech on the Internet.

‘Parties mentioned in his article should exercise their right to reply and debate with him over the issues instead of quickly resorting to sedition,’ he added.

Gayathry Venkiteswaran from Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism said: ‘It is a systematic target against an individual who has risked his neck to expose issues of public interest.’

The government’s harshest critic, former premier Mahathir Mohamad – who has recently taken up blogging – has also denounced the charge against Raja Petra.

The high-profile case involving the killing of the 28-year-old Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose body was blown up with explosives, has grabbed headlines across the country since the murder trial began in June last year.

Mr Najib, who is expected to take over from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the country’s next premier, has denied any involvement in her death.

Two police officers from an elite force, whose duties included guarding the prime minister and Najib, were charged with the killing.

Analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who has links with Najib and top government leaders has been charged with abetting the killing.

Malaysia’s Sedition Act, a carryover from British colonial times, broadly criminalises activities with ‘seditious tendencies,’ including those that express anti-government sentiments. — AFP

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 8th May 2008

Mas Selamat has wrecked havoc after his escape from the detention center. It was a non-tested method but it worked and caught the national security off-guard totally. They were probably expecting him to bomb a building, hold an important person hostage (having said that, there’s a chance that the important person might be left to die – remember, nation above self), bomb more buildings, set the Istana (for our foreign readers, the Istana is where the President of Singapore reside – and unlike most countries, he doesn’t hold much power in reality except to pardon a prison’s life) on fire and the likes; but no, he did something worse.

He disrupted the lives of 4 million people. Well, not everyone is affected, but just look at the inconvenience he has caused – jamming up our causeway, making the immigration process horrible, wasting manpower on his escape and all. Speaking of which, this reminded me of the plot in the movie Vantage Point (spoilers alert!) where this suicide bomber bombed the lobby of the hotel were the U.S. President was staying so as to draw attention and manpower to ground zero so that the assassin has a chance to kidnap the president. I am just wondering if Mas Selamat’s escape is part of a bigger plan to terrorize Singapore.

At first, everyone was surprised that this even happened (is it a prelude to an April Fool’s Day joke?), but most were confident that at the end of the day, he would be caught in Malcom Park and everything will be back to normal. Then 24 hours came, 48 and 72. Still no sign of him. Security at exit points were increased, fingerprints now have to be taken of almost every single person that leaves Singapore – and we were so glad that we don’t travel to U.S. that often (U.S. immigration takes all finger prints of all visitors). The Home Team deployed men all over Singapore , particularly empty buildings and forested areas – yet, Mas Selamat remained elusive.

While it seemed that the Ministry is not giving Mas Selamat a chance, it’s only a matter of time before fatigue takes over. I mean – if Mas Selamat is in hiding, or dead, for 1 year, it’s either we have to "rely on accurate sources" to determine if he’s really dead or not in Singapore, or our guys will just literally die from fatigue. See? The terrorist kills a few good man without having to bomb himself up.

Amidst all these, some people in Singapore – and I am pretty sure that it’s just a handful, say 100 out of 4 million people, who are asking for someone to be responsible – with Mr Wong Kan Seng being the most popular choice. However, as most of the other 3,999,900 people can see, it’s really an honest mistake and therefore, no one has to be sacked. Some people also questioned about the choice of people who are seconded into the Board of Inquiry. Out of 3, at least 2 were somehow linked to the Police Force or the Home Ministry. These complaints were dismissed as noise.

It’s been almost a month since Mas Selamat has escaped – probably the same amount of time that detainees are devoid of toilet breaks. It’s strange that there are still no findings as to how Mas Selamat could have possibly escaped – not even the crawl-down-the-toilet-bowl conspiracy theory. Some even factored his escape through the use of black magic, or something more probable – digging really deep into the ground and coming up from the other side. It’s really a wonder how he managed to get out of a place that’s supposed to be tightly secured.

In the mean time, monetary awards are being put up by private organizations for any information leading to the arrest of the escapee. The Home Ministry, however, declined to do likewise because it does not believe in monetary rewards not to the tune of $30 or $3mil. Of course, being Singaporeans, no one will expect anything of this sort from the government. This is after what we expect. Thankfully, other Singaporeans are more innovative – with a duo promising INSTANT ORD (Operationally Readiness Date? a term used to describe the date that army conscripts are released from their 2 year national service) to any NSF (National Service Force? – a term used to describe army conscripts) who can lead to the arrest of the escapee. How they are going to convince the Defence Ministry to do so is anyone’s guess.

So… where’s the terror? Well, without doing anything substantial, Mas Selamat has created havoc in our once peaceful and serene city. Not only are the people inconvenienced – particularly at the causeway, but the armed forces are dragged into it as well, instead of preparing for war that can happen anytime.  Look at the causeway – 4 hours just to get across! Thankfully that doesn’t happen at the airports, so at least air travel is still a viable option (as I am typing, I hear truck loads of army personnel being deployed at Terminals 1,2 and 3 and the Budget Terminal; especially the Budget Terminal – where all the passengers are left to their own device).

However, there is some silver lining though. Now that crossing over the causeway is such a hassle, Singapore gets to keep all the expenditure to herself – i.e. money will no longer be spent buying cheaper essentials like oil, rice and sugar across the causeway and food connoisseurs will be subjected to the sometimes ridiculously priced India crabs at seafood restaurants. No cheaper petrol for the car owner who forgot to factor in fuel costs as a burden for his newly-bought-50-cents-per-step-on-the-accelerator BMW too – and with security this tight, it’s unlikely he can pass through immigration without getting his boot, bonnet and fuel gauge checked. Hack, they might even X-ray his car! Wait… isn’t this silver lining only for the government and none for the people? Darn…

In the meantime, all you complain-kings and complain-queens will just have to bear with whatever inconveniences that the government might decide to impose, even if you feel deeply that Mas Selamat could well be killed and buried in the detention center. After all, it’s all in the name of security. Failure to comply could jolly well land you in the detention center to keep the up-and-coming JI leader company; but if you are suffering from incontinence, you’d better consider twice about non-compliance because there will be no toilet breaks for you. Indeed, Dr Chee would be one of the last person that you’d want to model after. =)

Seriously, I am probably not the first, nor the last to complain about public transport and how it falls below expectations. Really, if public transport is that good, people may seriously consider public transport as one of their traveling options. Naturally, I have some peeves about the public transport service and let me know if you agree with me:

  1. Frequency of buses. Seriously, I have never seen anything as erratic as bus timings. How can a bus be consistently arriving at 45 minutes interval during peak hours when the chart says 12-15 minutes? Even at off-peak hours, it’s supposed to be 15-18 minutes only!
  2. Overcrowded buses. It never fails to baffle me how bus transport companies, knowing peak hours, do not schedule for more buses. I end up having to miss 3 to 4 buses before I can squeeze onto one. Considering #1, this usually means 1 hour or more of waiting.
  3. Last bus not matching arrival of last train. Catching the last train home does not necessarily mean that I can get home on time. Mainly because the last train arrives much later than the last bus. Given the doubt that it’s a catch-22 situation, the last train reaches my place at 12:20am while the last bus is at 11:59pm. There is no catch-22. It’s called badly uncoordinated services.
  4. Cleanliness of buses. This never fails to eek me. There are small cockroaches, some silver fishes, bugs, and other creepy crawlies. However, I do see bus captains cleaning their buses after the bus arrive at the terminal. What I suspect is a major smoke-out of the buses every fortnight or month. I hope this does not translate to fare hikes though.
  5. Racing F1 buses. Come to think of it, I kinda enjoy buses that speed… to a certain extend. However, some drivers do take it over the limit and it felt like I was on the F1 track for a moment. I know that F1 is coming to town… still…

And here are some things that I hope to see included in the overhaul:

  1. Bus stamps for everyone. I foresee that it’d be something that I might need in the future, so it’d be good for them to start implementing it – and no, the SBS transit Season Pass doesn’t quite count. We are looking at cross-service concession passes.
  2. Ask who? Ask Iris doesn’t seem to work as well as it was meant to. Buses that were meant to arrive 5 minutes later were at the bus stop while "ghost" buses that were meant to be there… weren’t there.
  3. Better connectivity. For me to get to get from Adam road to Orchard, I can either take any bus to Bukit Timah Road, cross the overhead bridge and take 171/174 or… walk to Dunearn Road. Hmm… both involve walks of 200m or more. Not a good choice if you are carrying heavy stuffs. No cabs too. Remember the fare hike?
  4. More timely buses. This is a little hard especially when there may be road congestions. I’m not sure how this can be solved, but how about some form of alternative routes so that people can connect to other buses that goes to their destination?
  5. Coordinated timings. One of the biggest peeves. Please time the bus and trains. It’s no point catching the last train back if I have to walk 3 km home from the station. Yes, some people are telling me that it’s better than walking 20 km. Then again, isn’t this supposed to be public transport? Serving the public? Do it well!

I’m sure there are many others, and it’d be nice to hear them too. I hope someone’s reading this blog… and oh, feel free to add on. =)

Mobile TV – literally TV on mobile phones, not to be confused with TV mobile, which is generally TV on in-vehicular units, particularly buses, will be kicked off in June this year by M1. For a start, it will be a trial by M1 subscribers to determine the popularity of this technology.

This is in fact nothing new as telecom operators in other countries such as Korea and Japan had been using this for a few years. Pick-up rate, however, had not been good because users have to stare into a small screen for their movies or TV serials. In addition, cost may be a factor because the need for a low subscription rate and the critical mass required for it leaves the telcos in a catch-22 situation.

Personally, I might give this a miss mainly because:

  • I am not really willing to pay more for it
  • I don’t quite enjoy staring into a small screen
  • After my experience with iMode (Starhub), which locked me to a particular phone, I don’t think I want to be locked to another phone
  • Battery life may be an issue – what good is a phone if the battery is flat from watching all the TV programs
  • I doubt the quality of the transmission
  • I would want to spend some time doing something else that will not leave my eyes tired after alighting from the train/bus

With regards to the last statement, I am not sure how different it would be compared to playing games on the PSP, surfing the net on the bus/train, playing games on mobile phones, or reading books – all of which strains the eye in one manner or another. Ultimately, the launch should be market-driven because the lack of subscribers will probably leave the telcos a bad aftertaste, while the absence of good TV programs will leave subscribers wanting.

Lastly there is the question on the type of programs that should be aired. I’m sure there will be a lot of people will difference preferences, but personally, Just-for-laughs, Mr Bean and anything that does not require a long attention span would be good. Of course, this is personal. 😉

FROM June, an M1-MediaCorp trial of mobile TV will see direct broadcasts of full length shows to your handset. However, the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) offer of four mobile TV licences seems more technology- than market-driven.

The idea of converging the extremely high penetration rate of mobile telephony with TV, which everyone watches, is a beguiling one. With WAP, MMS and video calls not being quite the killer applications the telcos need in a saturated market for mobile lines, the search is on for something new.

Yet the trend is towards free video on demand, like YouTube. Being free is critical: On-demand for-pay TV over the Internet is not doing too well, with SingTel’s MIO service garnering only 10,000 subscribers thus far.

The other trend is ever richer content. Specifically, the young are drifting away from over-produced studio content, preferring instead user-generated content. (More later.)

For mobile TV to survive financially, people must want and be willing to pay for traditional broadcast TV on their cellphones. Yet a recent poll found that 95 per cent of Europeans are not interested in mobile TV. Similarly, in its position paper available for public comment through Friday, MDA reveals that ‘only 11 per cent of Singaporeans are willing to pay between S$5 and S$15 per month for (mobile TV, so) demand could be lower than elsewhere’.

There is no mass market demand here for TV simulcasted to mobile phones – even if an industry forecaster like New York-based ABI Research is cheerfully predicting a US$27 billion (S$39 billion) global market by 2010.

The reality is hard. In September 2006, Virgin Mobile became the first in Europe to broadcast TV to handsets. For £25 (S$70) a month, British subscribers got five channels 24/7 of normal free-to-air TV programming on the free Lobster 700, a lumpy handset as ugly as its name. (The service did not work on any other cellphone.)

By July 2007, despite a Pamela Anderson-fronted £2.5 million promotional campaign, Virgin had snagged only 10,000 subscribers in Britain. It was never rolled out to Europe as had been originally planned. The service terminates this month.

Fans would, however, point to South Korea, but even in the world’s quickest adopter of mobile innovations, mobile TV has not been a market success.

In a population of 48 million, there are nine million mobile TV subscribers, according to an October 2007 report from Telecoms Korea. But no operator is making money from this.

In fact, by August 2007, South Korea’s six terrestrial mobile TV operators had accumulated losses between US$22 million and US$33 million each. Its only satellite mobile TV operator, whose losses amount to US$220 million, has already laid off a third of its workforce.

Terrestrial systems use radio signals to broadcast TV and audio channels, which can be received on suitable handsets as well as portable media players and in-car navigation systems. Satellite systems use a satellite signal, which requires a handset that comes with a satellite antenna.

In South Korea, satellite mobile TV – with 13 video and 36 audio channels – costs subscribers US$13 a month on top of their voice and data contract, whereas the terrestrial system – with seven video and 12 audio channels – is free.

The only clear winners in all this are Samsung and LG, who sell expensive TV-ready handsets.

How was mobile TV pioneered in 2005? Basically, the South Korean government pushed it through by, first, mandating the digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) standard when the broadcast spectrum was auctioned off and, next, pressuring vendors to make devices to that standard. Then it made sure that there would be free mobile TV on the terrestrial systems: The studios do not allow telcos carrying their content to charge for the service. So although there are five terrestrial customers for every satellite customer, advertisement revenues have been marginal. The hope for terrestrial operators is that mobile TV might induce more to sign up for their high-end mobile lines.

Both business models, however, are hamstrung by a common problem: There is no killer content. Pundits thought that mobile TV content had to be ‘snack entertainment’, as people would not squint at tiny screens for more than three to five minutes. Music videos were thought to be ideal while other TV content would likely have to be repurposed accordingly.

In fact, the satellite mobile TV service reported in June 2007 that its average user watched for a surprisingly long time – 64 minutes per day – and were demanding higher quality service. People were watching not just on the commute or at lunch but also while in the doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room, in the toilet, in secret – at work and in school – when they were bored at meetings or with classes, and in their bedrooms too.

It turns out that video length is not as crucial as content. In fact, in a 2007 field study, Nokia experts found that South Korean subscribers considered mobile TV content to be like third-rate programming on cable.

What do people want? In December 2007, Nokia’s Future Laboratory asked trendsetters in 17 countries about their digital lifestyles. From the study, Nokia extrapolated that, in five years’ time, a quarter of the entertainment that people consume will be content which they have themselves created, remixed and passed on to share with peers. Nokia attributed this to the ‘human desire to compare and contrast, create and communicate’.

Whereas once the act of watching, reading and hearing entertainment was passive, it said, consumers are increasingly demanding their entertainment be truly ‘immersive’. That is, people want to be able to access and create entertainment wherever they are, so the offline/online dichotomy will matter little.

It has also to be collaborative in that ‘consumers will want to be recognised and rewarded’, thus blurring the difference between being commercial and being creative.

Finally, as people begin to build their identities in things local, they will want entertainment to be more localised, customised and home-grown too.

If this is any guide, mobile TV cannot be simply (broadcast) TV on your mobile. Instead it must be a new service with a new kind of instantly engaging, made-for-mobile content that people want.

Where to source such content now? Even if service providers could do this and also overcome all other barriers – concerns about battery life, picture clarity, lags when channel surfing, handset pricing – so that mobile TV becomes a success in South Korea, it might still mean little for Singapore.

The South Korean government kick-started the market by mandating technology standards, spectrum allocations as well as free-of-charge terrestrial services to ensure customer uptake – all of which the MDA says it will not do.

But rightly so. Far better to wait and see how the cookie crumbles in South Korea.

andyho@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 17th January 2008

I had been on M1 broadband since more than 6 months ago and had been enjoying relatively high throughput for the past duration… until recently when M1 decided to jump onto the bandwagon and offered unlimited download for all their subscribers. This, in my own words, meant all hell breaking loose, and broke loose it did. Instantly, my throughput went down by almost 90% and at times, it was crawling even though it was connected to the 3G network. It crawled so badly that it felt like was slower than a 2400bps modem dial-up.

The next better player would then be Wireless@SG, which I discovered time and again, is equally hopeless. Back in the times when it used to be inaccessible, now, it is not even detectable! Haha… this isn’t about getting from bad to worse, this is about getting from bad to incorrigible. I don’t foresee any cure for Wireless@SG until 2 years later. This is when it is no longer free… or at least when it is no longer necessary to make it free for all to use.

I remembered rather remotely of a technology/protocol known as multi-linking, where, back in the good old days of modem dial-ups, 2 modems may be used in tandem to provide an effectively higher throughput. The result wasn’t anything to shout about but it worked. Feeling rather hopeless about the current state of wireless broadband, I search around the Internet and discovered nothing at all.

Definitely someone would have thought of something like this? Well, yes and no. Apparently, it’s so hard to multi-link 2 wireless connections that it is only available on higher end routers and not as a software package. There were many issues involved, particularly on packet handling and all, which made it unworthy of the time and effort to come up with a software solution.

Just today, I was desperately trying to make some submissions online and guess what? M1 broadband was crawling and Wireless@SG kept jerking and falling asleep. This wasn’t good at all. I had to wait for a duration when Wireless@SG would be stable for at least 5 minutes before I eventually submitted my stuffs. Is there really no way to zhng my wireless broadband?

On the other hand, I sometimes wonder of a conspiracy theory behind the provision of free broadband – and whether it was used to entice everyone into paying for one in the future. Well, 3 years is a long time to offer free Internet access and I’d bet by then that many Singaporeans will become addicts and s**kers for access while on the move. I know of at least a few other people who are already paying for supposedly better wireless broadband access – which, on hindsight, may really be better if left metered and controlled.

Humans are such indecisive creatures. We complain on everything possible. Limited complain, unlimited also complain. Wait till they increase the subscription fee then you know.

MM Lee was posed a question by Dr Quah who asked about Singapore’s progress in terms of social graces and environmental consciousness just as the country succeeds economically. "Not in my lifetime" was his answer. To this, I actually agree with him wholeheartedly.

Give me five, Kuan Yew! With all due respects of course, Sir.

I believed I’d have blogged about this some time or other, that it is very difficult for Singaporeans to be as matured socially as it is economically. An oft-used statement that I tell my friends is that while it is easy for Singaporeans to find ways to boost the economy and be entrepreneuring, habits are harder to cultivate. After all, humans are creatures of habit (and actually so were my cats).

From the complaints of people on seats not being given up to the elderly, pregnant and disabled to that of people not keeping to one side of the escalator to how people just condemn others with their "holier than thou" (thanks Dr Chua for the phrase) attitude when others did something wrong or something that is not accepted by the society, it is quite prevalent that it will remain this way for many years or generations (*gasp*!)to come.

Indeed, we recall about how the angmos are supposedly treated better while the locals experience more hostility less friendliness. This, after much thinking (not analysis, just thinking), could be due to:

  • the encounter of more friendly and appreciative angmos
  • the higher expectations of Singaporeans

Of course, there may be many other reasons, but since this is impromptu, these are the only 2 reasons that I can think of. Many a times, we may have encountered rude angmos but again, this is a statistical game. What I do think I know is that they have probably came a long way too.

Like MM Lee, I think think I’d see a gracious Singapore in my lifetime.

A gracious Singapore? Not in my lifetime: MM

He says cultivating social graces will take longer compared to environmental consciousness

By Li Xueying

ENVIRONMENTAL consciousness among Singaporeans will come about very quickly when they realise how they will be in trouble when changes in the climate take place.

But attaining a gracious society will take more time, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on Monday at a dialogue marking the 40th anniversary of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas).

In fact, he believes it will not happen in his lifetime.

‘I will not see it, maybe you will live long enough to see it; I wish you well,’ he told 48-year-old economics academic Euston Quah to laughter from the audience of diplomats, academics and government leaders.

Dr Quah had asked a question about Singapore’s progress in terms of social graces and environmental consciousness just as the country succeeds economically.

The issue he raised was among a host of subjects brought up by the audience, from the situation in Myanmar to the rise of China and India.

In his reply, Mr Lee said a gracious society will not happen so fast. ‘I think it will take more time to develop and mature culturally as a people.’

Even the British, he said, were ‘sitting at a very high level over an empire for nearly 150 years before they developed their culture and then being invaded by football hooligans and foreigners who are now joining them and coarsening their society’.

‘So it’s very difficult to get a rough society onto a cultivated plane and it’s very easy to bring it down,’ he concluded.

Environmental consciousness, on the other hand, will come very quickly ‘when something happens and they say, you do that, your whole environment changes and you are in trouble’.

On the other hand, the idea of a gracious society – ‘where people are considerate to one another, where you don’t make more noise to upset your neighbour than you need to, where you tell the other motorist, please have the right of way’ – was ‘harder to come by’, said Mr Lee.

‘It will take time, but I hope it will come with cultivated living over a long period of time.’

Mr Lee recalled how, 45 years ago, Singaporeans wanted to take their chickens with them when they were resettled from kampungs into high-rise flats.

‘So it took some time to get them adjusted. A more cultivated way of life takes a very long time,’ he said.

xueying@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 9th January 2008

It’s been quite a long while since I last hopped onto a taxi without thinking much of the cost – after all, the papers and industry are right – the cost of taxi transport is relatively cheaper when compared to other developed countries. Of course, this was before the taxi operators decide to raise the fares of taxis recently, effectively bringing up the cost of taking a cab by almost 50% during peak hours.

On the fateful day that the fares were raised, all these changed. I stopped raising my hands as often as I would and I would think twice about the damage that I’d suffer should I decide to take the cab. Effectively, I have not taken a cab during peak hours. I wasn’t sure if I’d have an impact anyway, since the newspapers had been giving anecdotes of taxi drivers who praised the fare hike and that now they are earning a lot more.

However, there were recent news that some taxi drivers are in fact not earning as much as the papers have portrayed. It seemed that their businesses dipped tremendously – to the extent of some putting up notices of discounts. Unfortunately such innovations by the taxi drivers are not welcomed by LTA, who immediately slammed them (left, right and center), mentioning that this is illegal. There were reactions from some readers, with one highlighting the following:

When just a taxi driver give discounts, the authorities reacts so fast in the media. When so MANY taxi drivers tout, the authorities takes weeks to react.

Posted by: hongchris at Tue Jan 08 07:40:44 SGT 2008

There were also others who dug out the Public Transport Council Act:

The Public Transport Council Act (CAP 259B) states:

Bus, taxi and rapid transit system fares
23. —(1) No person shall be entitled to demand and take any bus, taxi or rapid transit system fare in excess of that approved by the Council.
[29/95;29/99]

(2) Subsection (1) shall not prevent any person from demanding or taking a lower fare than that approved by the Council.
[29/99]

This seems to shoot the LTA down, but no further details are known at this moment. However, the LTA thinks that by providing discounts, this may result in touting and is hence illegal. Hmm… so much for entrepreneurship.

There are also taxi drivers who are on the verge of swearing off driving taxis should business not pick up after Chinese New Year. After all, it’s during Chinese New Year that most businesses are gained, especially when the majority of Singaporeans are Chinese and that quite a handful probably do not own cars given the increased cost of ownership (COE, ERP, fuel hike).

The uncertainty, of course, lies until after Chinese New Year – since that’s when the litmus test really begins. A question that burns in my head is if Singaporeans really do have memory the size of a mouse? Are Singaporeans really that forgetful? Will "incentives" help them get over such things? What if the government throws in a transport rebate of $20, $50 or even a $100 to everyone before an impending transport fare hike? Will this help sooth any knee-jerk reactions?

Frankly, I don’t have the answers. However, there are still many people ("analysts") in Singapore who predicted this knee-jerk reaction and are persisting that we are still in the phase of a knee-jerk reaction – which I do not deny. After all, it’s still barely 1 month from the day that the fares were increased and conflicting anecdotes from taxi drivers do not really help much. LTA, of course, can only provide data after everything has "stabilized", by then, if the lack of customers persisted, I’m not sure how many taxi drivers would be emptying their saving accounts to pay rent if they are not already dead dead broke.

For me, I have struck off taking cabs as a means of transport and am usually left pondering the travelling salesman problem. It’s only in times of urgency and rush that I suddenly discovered a new form of (rather expensive) transport called taxis. Even then, it’d take a lot to get me to take one during peak hours. However, I know of business owners who take still believe that taxi fares are still really affordable in Singapore and are encouraging everyone to support the poor taxi drivers who really didn’t bring it upon themselves.

I sometimes wonder if ComfortDelgro had put any thought into this and if they really believed that Singaporeans are indeed forgetful. Food for thought, perhaps?