Sunday, December 31, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Can we get a refund if we are dissatisfied with bus service? Does LTA regularly check air quality in public buses?
Today Wednesday • December 27, 2006
Letter from Tham Wai Keen
Letter from Carmen Teoh-Tang
Going home on Friday, I took Bus Service No 855.
I was on the bus for only two minutes when I noticed that the air conditioning seemed to have failed. It was stuffy inside the vehicle, and I was beginning to feel a little nauseous. I started to perspire and, worse, had some difficulty breathing.
The ride was not very smooth either as there seemed to be a problem with the brakes — the bus jerked when stopping or starting off. When I finally stood up to alight, I noticed cockroaches crawling around the window next to where I was seated.
This makes me wonder, if a commuter gets on a bus, and is not pleased with the service he/she is getting, can he/she leave the bus immediately and get a full refund?
Are the bus captains empowered to give a refund on the spot?
That day, I was uncomfortable enough to want to alight before my stop and wait for another bus, but was not tired enough to part with the 63 cents extra I would have had to pay to reach my destination.
If I had alighted immediately, would I have been compensated?
I was travelling on a crowded public bus to work. A fellow passenger appeared to have some sort of skin disease and he was peeling the flaky skin off his feet, legs, hands and face. He would casually brush off the flaky skin, causing them to fall on the bus floor. As much as I pitied the passenger for his condition, it was a nauseous sight to behold. He was also coughing continuously.
Many times, I have come across fellow commuters who cough and sneeze. Whenever I came down with the flu and took the bus, I prayed that I would not pass on the germs to other people. The air quality inside the bus is even worse when the air-conditioning is not working and the vehicle is crowded.
I wonder if the Land Transport Authority regularly examines the air quality in our public buses.
Is there an air purifier installed in our buses? Are the buses cleaned with anti-bacterial agents everyday? Sometimes I also notice thick layers of dust in the corners of window frames and underneath the seats.
How often does the LTA conduct checks on the cleanliness of our public transport?
This is so true.
With the repeated fare increase I don’t see the service level of our public transport being raised concurrently.
Only last week I had two terrible experiences with SBS Transit.
I boarded Service No.80 at Bugis Junction on Sunday and the bus is really in poor condition. It is dirty, with graffiti on several seats and the window’s seals are all torn.
On the same day I boarded Service No. 82 at Hougang, it was a rainy evening. The bus condition was not fantastic as well. Not only was it dirty, it was leaking too.
Many time our public transport operator boasts about better buses and trains and the spend XX dollars improving their stations and fleets. But these are all passed down to the consumers with countless fare increments.
When we pay for something, we expect a certain level of service satisfaction. If the public transport operator failed to deliver this basic service, then the consumer have all the rights to demand a refund.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Ban cleaning of windows, urges MP Employers must do more to protect maids, says Halimah
Monday • December 18, 2006
Chow Penn Nee
TO prevent the tragic accidents of maids falling to their deaths while cleaning windows, this activity should be banned altogether, said an MP.
This could be done through an explicit clause in a maid's work permit, said Madam Halimah Yacob, MP for Jurong GRC.
Noting that much has been done to improve the situation of foreign workers in the past few years, she felt that employers can "do more" to protect their maids from dangers.
"I am perturbed that we continue to have reports of foreign domestic workers falling to their deaths while cleaning windows," she said, "Perhaps the Manpower Ministry should consider banning foreign domestic workers from cleaning windows in high-rise buildings in order to protect them, if there is no other way of stopping these unnecessary deaths," she said, in a speech at the International Migrants' Day celebration yesterday.
There were eight accidental falls relating to maids last year. Some 99 maids fell to their deaths from high-rise buildings between 1999 and June 2003.
Earlier this year, an employer was jailed for two weeks for making her maid hang laundry on the ledge, resulting in the maid falling to her death.
Under the law, employers can also be barred from hiring a maid in cases where they put their maids' lives in danger.
Madam Halimah, the assistant secretary general of NTUC, also called for "tighter control and regulation" in the sending countries against errant agencies.
"Exploitative foreign employment agencies that suck the workers dry and make them highly indebted even before they come to Singapore and those who promise their workers jobs which do not exist or bring them in illegally, are but some of the problems."
All 880,000 foreign workers in Singapore will also be affected by the removal of health subsidies in October next year, to be possibly replaced by medical insurance schemes which companies have to purchase.
The Manpower Ministry is discussing the costs and areas of coverage with insurance companies, and estimates put the monthly premium at about $10 to $20 per worker.
However, many of the foreign workers whom Today spoke to during yesterday's event seemed unaware of the impending changes.
Those who knew were worried that they would be short-changed.
Indian national Rasu Aruldaj, is a case in point. He was injured thrice at his workplace, a stone foundry, but was not allowed by his boss to go to a hospital as he deemed it not serious enough.
"I went to a polyclinic and my employer paid, but he later deducted it from my pay," the 31-year-old told Today through a translator.
Volunteers like Jolovan Wham, a social worker with Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), said he is concerned about how comprehensive the insurance might be.
That is why non-government organisations (NGOs) like his wants to be included in discussions on compulsory health-care insurance for foreign workers.
"We want to have a dialogue with the government on the terms of the medical insurance," said Ms Braema Mathi, president of advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2). "This might include whether it will cover diseases like malaria and chicken pox which foreign workers might contract on the work site," she said.
Yet another wonderful “Scholar” approach to the problem.
I have better suggestion then Halimah call for ban on cleaning window.
Banned maids all together! Not only you eliminate maid falling to death, you also eliminate employees having affair with maids. You also eliminate maids being torture by employee. See 3 birds are killed with one stone.
It is rather sad that Singapore, being a 1st world country that we love to boast about is treating foreign workers so badly.
You can sometime see the whole family wolfing down crabs and seafood while the maid just sat there with a bowl of rice. I have also seen maids carrying a baby plus 3-4 bags while the employee walk in-front empty handed.
Yes they are maids or foreign workers, but they are also a human being. Perhaps the Ministry of Education should re-look the important of the subject call social studies.
Once end we treat these workers like dirt and at the other ends we are sucking up to the so called Foreign talents.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Shopping goes on despite Tangs fireMonday • December 18, 2006
Tan Hui Leng
CHRISTMAS shoppers along Orchard Road were abuzz with excitement yesterday evening when a small fire hit part of Tangs Department Store's Chinese roof structure.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said that they received a call at 7.45pm and arrived at the building at 7.51pm.
Two fire engines put out the fire in eight minutes. There were no injuries.
Although an announcement was made about the fire, no official evacuation of shoppers was carried out.
"Although the store was on standby to evacuate shoppers, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force advised that there was no need to do so as the fire was under control very quickly," said a Tangs spokesperson. "We would have evacuated the store immediately if told to."
Even so, shoppers streamed out of the store in an orderly fashion, according to MediaCorp News Hotline caller Lou Tian Hong, who was across the road at the time."There was no panic," said the civil servant, who was part of a crowd who gathered to watch the smoky scene outside Orchard MRT station.
"When the fire was doused, in quick fashion, everyone clapped."Indeed, it was business as usual last night after the fire when Today visited the store. Although the front of the building was cordoned off, shoppers continued their holiday spending within.
"I came in from the side entrance facing Scotts Road and didn't notice the cordon at all," said 42-year-old housewife Iris Tay. "I wouldn't even have known about the fire if I hadn't been told about it."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation but the Tangs spokesperson said it was unlikely to have been caused by the store's Christmas decorations, as the lights continued to work during the fire.
No wonder shopping is the nation number one pass time!
But I question why Tangs did not evacuate the buliding between 7.45pm and 7.51pm. ( I am doubtful of the timing too! 6 min to get from the nearest station to orchard?)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Dec 14, 2006
'Hua Yu cool'? No, boorish Mandarin-speaking youths spoil the image
I can attest that Mr Peter Donkin's observations of young Singaporeans are true.
I have many negative opinions of young Singaporeans too, despite being a youth myself.
My observations of inconsiderate behaviour among young Singaporeans almost always involve the Mandarin-speakers.
While not implying that all Mandarin-speaking youths are rotten (nor are all English-speaking youth angels), an overwhelmingly large group of offenders are observed to be from this group.
This seems to stem from the Chinese school of thought which advocates 'If I don't take, I lose out' and 'If others can do it, so can I, otherwise I lose out', among other factors.
Before anyone takes offence at my discrimination, go on a MRT ride across the island first, and my theory will come to life.
On a train ride from Jurong East to City Hall last month, I saw three groups of Mandarin-speaking youths huddled with their handphones playing Chinese songs at full blast.
The three groups were in the same cabin. It was terrible. One couple left the cabin for another because they couldn't take the racket.
Many people glared at the youths. A girl from one of the groups declared in Mandarin and English 'Wa, wo men hen attract attention leh!', which translates to 'Wow, we are attracting a lot of attention!'.
Was she thinking that people saw her group as 'cool' just because her handphone played MP3 music and they were the latest Mandopop hits? I was outraged at the inconsiderate behavior.
The Mandarin-speaking Singaporean youths also seem to ignore rules that make the world an orderly place. For example, they ignore repeated reminders to keep to the left on escalators. They also ignore the markings that serve to allow passengers on trains to alight first.
A Malaysian classmate who recently visited Thailand spoke of how gracious the people there were, and their good etiquette on the train.
Step into a shop and you will notice that the Mandarin-speakers are rude to service staff and they never say 'please' or 'thank you'.
Based on their interactions with my peers, they take offence easily,
yet they have no qualms about being sarcastic and rude to foreign teachers.
Many young litterbugs are also Mandarin-speaking youths.
When I visited Melbourne some months back, I was greatly impressed at the clean streets. I saw everyone putting their litter into bins, and there were no cleaners around.
While many Mandarin-speaking youths are nice on a personal level, their mentality can manifest the antisocial behaviour that I have mentioned.
My friends and I belong to the minority English-speaking group and we are ashamed to speak in Mandarin in public. No, we are not elites, just normal teenagers.
Unless the association of bad behaviour with Mandarin-speaking youths can be negated, 'Hua Yu Cool' isn't going to work on us anytime soon.
Gosh another clown!
Personally I am quite surprised that The Straits Time published this letter. I wonder if the letter will be published if the writer is commenting on English speaking youths or other races.
Ang Lixing’s view of society is so so stereotypical.
There are ALWAYS rude, inconsiderate idiots from ALL race, religion, education background and nationalities.
Lixing, you just proved to Singapore that you are one of them.
Also Lixing commented how clean and beautiful Melbourne is. So does this mean English speaking countries is better off then Mandarin speaking countries?
I was in Melbourne before too and there are streets that are clean and there are streets that are dirty. Perhaps Lixing was walking behind a street cleaner while she was in Melbourne.
With China's expected dominance in the next decade and with the European countries' economies slowing down, it would be ironic that Lixing finds it a shame to speak Mandarin and choose instead to speak in English. Doesnt she keep herself updated on what is happening to the world now? You may just end up working for a chinese boss when you start working and that will be the real irony.
If she think she belong to the minority youth who speaks English and is embarassed by the so-called chinese speaking youths, then by all means migrate overseas. I am sure her departure will not be a loss to the nation.
And may I add that I do come across irritating English speaking youths who added an american accent in their conversation which is so fake and I swore they had their education in Singapore. Who is she to comment that Chinese speaking youths are boorish, rude and all the negative comments. I do seriously think that Lixing needs to see a counseller over her obsure opinions.
I am expecting a public outrage on this matter…. Time to sit back and enjoy another WSM saga unfolding… hehe…
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
'Back to School with Dad' hopes to build bonds between father and child
12 December 2006
Sending a child to school may be a simple act but it can go a long way in bonding a parent and a child.
That is the hope of the Centre for Fathering as it embarks on a campaign to get dads to do just that when it is time to head back to school in January.
15-year-old Matthew Han is old enough to go to school on his own but his father, Paul, would rather accompany his son.
The boy himself wouldn't have it any other way. "Because he's like my alternative to coming to school later. So I won't need to wake up so early to catch the bus!"
For Paul, it is more than just giving his son more sleep time and a ride. This simple act has been a tradition with the Han family from the days when Paul was brought to school by his own parents.
"It is quality and valuable time for me. It's about 20 minutes. He has a chance to ask me, (tells me) what he likes, what his problem is. I'm not always home because I'm travelling quite substantially. So I have a good chance to talk to him."
"When we are in the car, we talk about his work, what he's doing currently, when he'll be off, when he'll be flying off, when he'll return and all his future plans to go overseas and come back since he goes overseas quite often," Matthew says.
It is this sort of bonding that the Centre for Fathering hopes other families will be able to do as well.
Seah Kian Peng, Board Member of the Centre for Fathering, says: "I think the current lifestyles are very different. All of us face a lot of demands on our time at work, and at the same time, the statistics show that indeed there are a lot of stresses a lot of families are going through."
The centre says with the conventional view of fathers as breadwinners, mothers tend to take on the parenting role. But it wants to elevate the role of fathers as it feels parenting is a shared responsibility.
"Even if it's five minutes, you have five full minutes with your child, just the two of you. Those five minutes is in the absence of TV - no distractions. You're not competing against TV, the video game, some other people in the household but it is you and your child.
I think those precious moments are to me, quality time. "Make use of the time you have with them. When they are in their teens, it's hard to recapture those moments. Honestly, it's hard to get their attention for half-an-hour one-on-one. It's very simple - the opportunity is there every day of the week," Mr Seah says.
The centre has roped in more than 30 companies to give employees time off to send their children to school. And with the response it has had so far, several thousand fathers could very well be doing that come January.
I applauded the Center of Fathering effort to elevate the role of fatherhood but this seem to be not a very logical method to start with.
Encouraging fathers to drive their kids to school?
Yes fathers and child can indeed spend quality time with in the cars but how many fathers really own a car?
Base on statistic.
In 2005, 71,042 of 778, 568 student travel to schools in cars and throwing in the 19,151 which classified as others to give a benefit of doubt to the figure.
This will bring the figure to 90,193 which is only 11.58% of the student population.
I believe the Center is heading toward the right direction but is getting it all wrong or do they wan to see some result fast and make a publicized it as quickly as possible to gain some airtime.
I feel that Singapore’s working environment is not a pro family as all.
The Center should push the government to impose flexible working hours, paternal leaves etc etc. to improve fatherhood bonding. There are so many thing they can do and I admit it is difficult but I guess this will benefit the other 88.42% of the students.
Or maybe we are looking at the Elites only?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Monday • December 11, 2006
Letter from Chan Hoi SanHead, Human ResourceStarHub
I refer to the article, "YouTube, you leave" (Dec 8), which stated: "StarHub fires temp staff member for 'misconduct' in office".
It was clearly stated in our email response to Today on Dec 7 that Mr Terence Tan was a temporary staff member engaged by an appointed manpower agency and assigned to StarHub to promote and sell StarHub products and services to corporate individual sales customers.
He was never an employee of StarHub.
However, there was no mention of the manpower agency in the article, and your readers will inevitably deduce that Terence was an employee of StarHub and that he was dismissed by the company which was not true.
Terence was filmed wearing StarHub's uniform horsing around with another temporary staff member on what was clearly our office premises.
This clip was made available for public viewing without the prior knowledge or consent of StarHub.
We take this seriously as this is not an accurate reflection of our employees at work and it is certainly not the professional image we project.
Our employees take pride in being part of the StarHub family and we are proud of our corporate branding and identity. We are a young and energetic team who are deeply passionate about the role that each of us plays in the company.
When the team's professionalism, reputation or credibility is misrepresented, every employee is adversely affected.
We would like to stress that, as Terence never had an employment contract with StarHub, we were never in the position to dismiss him.
His stint with StarHub was a temporary one to begin with, thus we decided to return him to his manpower agency for other job placement opportunities after the incident.
Yes we know his name is TERENCE!
In this 282 words letter from Star Hub’s Head, Terence name was mentioned no less then 4 times.I seriously wonder whether Star Hub is doing this deliberately?
Just a case of “Hey its Terence that is clowning around and he had nothing to do with us”
Poor Terence, I guess in the future he will have a difficult time finding a permanent job with Star Hub..
He was renowned as a great communicator, skilled at bringing people together to talk to each other – but he would never have guessed that a thousand years later a powerful technology would be named after him.
The Bluetooth logo consists of the Nordic runes for its initials, H and B.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Dec 5, 2006
Cabbies not allowed to offload passengers
I REFER to Mr Chew Boon Keong's letter, 'Taxi service: Surcharge is king, not passenger' (ST, Nov 27).
Mr Chew and other readers may like to know that taxi drivers have no right to offload passengers before taking them to their destination, when the taxi driver receives a call booking.
Under the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Rules, it is an offence for any taxi driver to terminate the hiring of a taxi or require a passenger to alight before the passenger is conveyed to his destination.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) takes a serious view of such offences and will take action against the offenders. However, we need the assistance and cooperation of passengers.
We request Mr Chew to provide us with the taxi registration number (with prefix and suffix) and date and time of incident so that we can investigate the matter.
Passengers who encounter similar experiences should do likewise to help us curb this errant practice by taxi drivers.
Our number is 1800-CALL LTA (1800-2255 582).
Naleeza Ebrahim (Ms)
Media Relations Land Transport Authority
I am storing the number on my HP right now.
I encountered a few occasion when Taxi refuse to stop even though they are empty and didn’t put up NOT FOR HIRED signs.
More of the time they just act blur and drive on the furthest lane or simply look to their right even when their taxis are going forward.
I have wrote the various Taxi companies and all so call “investigation” are not complete even though I provided them the Taxi registration and time. One incident they just claims “There were no such driver for the registration of your description, please provide us with more info”.
What the $%%#$#!!!!!!!!??
Next time I will just write to LTA.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Why treat overseas employees differently?
Wednesday • December 6, 2006
Letter from Robyn M Speed
I refer to the report, "Permanent Residents debate price of citizenship", (Dec 5).
One might argue that Singapore citizens in other countries should not be entitled to the same benefits as the citizens of those countries.
It is only fair that they pay full health costs and pay more for education.
If they want the same treatment as citizens, they should take up citizenship in that country.It should not matter if Singaporeans have been living in Australia, New Zealand, or the United States for a decade or more — they should not get the same rights as the citizens. They should expect to pay more.
It is only fair. Right?
I bet you would say no; that if you do the work, you should get fair and equal treatment.
Yet, that is what Singapore wants to do to foreigners here.
You want the top professionals in the world to come and work here, to build Singapore as the top research place in the world, the top education hub. Yet you want to hold them distant, to treat them as second to the locals.
Surely these foreigners are working for Singapore and her citizens, to build your country and economy, to add to your markets and prestige.Some come here, with their families, for career opportunities.
They pay rent at the market rate for a condo apartment, their children attend an international school (because they want a sense of continuity for their children's education). Add up these costs and they are paying a lot of money, while supporting Singapore's economy.
Why do these foreign employees come here?
Because the employer decided that they were the best person for the job. Singapore is a small country and it is difficult for anyone to have the same experience as a worker who has travelled the world, worked in massive markets and learnt from the top people in their fields.
I am an expat. We all have a bond with our homeland and to turn one's back on it is considered to be almost despicable by many. Our homeland is our home in the world — you cannot lightly ask a person to give that up.
Singapore wants to be an international hub of research, education, tourism and so on. And yet, this latest move smacks of: "You are welcome to come, but … ". Foreigners are either welcome or they are not.
And beware, for there are always other markets for these people to go to.
Poor Robyn is bickering she is being treated differently from Singaporean.
Again isn’t this a logical think for every countries in the world to put their citizens first prior to expatriates.
Robyn gave a reason on why these foreigners come to work in Singapore is because their employee decided that they were the "BEST" person for the job.
The fact is many of these foreigners are facing unemployment back home and are forced to seek employment elsewhere.
Not to mention that Singapore is a much better country to live in compare to some of those countries these FTs come from.
Also we must be careful not to be a sucker for FTs as some of them are worst then Singaporean in term of work performances.
Having traveled the work does note necessary make you a better worker, in face it may even mean you cannot adapt to the new working environments.
And yes we know there are jobs elsewhere but please note these jobs are also available to Singaporean and that is the reason why the Govt is trying to make the them stay as they are cheaper compare to most expatriates.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Book those who enter the lifts with lighted cigarettes in hand
I live in a HDB apartment in Yishun. I have nothing against smokers, except those who force their habit on others.
I encounter residents who smoke in the lift daily. Being courteous and telling offenders politely to refrain from this uncivil behavior is always met with negative responses.
"You are not an officer", "I'm not inhaling, just holding the cigarette" and "It's none of your business" are just some of the common retorts.
However, the fact that I am using the elevator makes it my business. The town council tells me it is difficult for them to enforce the rule, and more conspicuous signages may help.
All I want to know is who is responsible for enforcing the smoking ban and what I can do for my part, if need be?
If coffee shops are law-abiding by maintaining "No Smoking" zones, there's no reason why public lifts are not off limits to smokers too.
All we need is an officer to book those who break the law. I'm sure this will help. The fines collected can be used to pay for the "waste of manpower".
Siew Charn Ho
I seriously wonder how many people are actually caught and fined for smoking in lifts these days. Remember all lifts carry the “FINE $500” signs.
Law without enforcement are nothing.
I’ve encounter a few time people who dare to even bring in lighted cigarette into the lift and after a told off by me they actually either wait for the next lift of put out the cigarette. Guess I am more lucky the Charn Ho.
However I did encountered many times people who came out of the lift after a smoke in there on their journey up or down the flats alone. I can tell you the smoke can lingers in an enclosed place for hours.
The way which Charn Ho’s Town Council replies to his feedback is the typical “I don’t know what to do and don’t bother me anymore” response from the civil services. I wrote into my town council a few years back regarding the same issue and till date I am still waiting for their reply.
Charn Ho’s Town council suggested “more more conspicuous signages. I doubt even when you paint the whole lift interior with no smoking signs the situation will improve. The problem is that these smokers knew they are no allow to smoke in the lift but they couldn't care less.
I guess all we need to is to install smoke detector in the lifts. Remember those urine detectors? Well nowadays I don’t see anyone urine in the lifts these days.
We just need to get a few offenders, charge them in court with the press presents and no one will do it for a long long time.
If our technology can catch people tapping into other people wireless network then I guess it will not be difficult to catch a few lift smokers.
PS: I am really interested in what the response to Charn Ho’s letter will be like.