Monday, March 26, 2007

Vegetarian at McDonald's?

ST Forum
March 24, 2007
McDonald's should lower price for 'vegetarian' meal

BEING vegetarians, whenever we go to McDonald's, we would invariably order a meal without the meat patty.

Invariably McDonald's would charge us the same price even though the meat portion of the meal costs the most.

Can't it charge a lower price in these instances?

N. Nageswaran

This is quite amusing…

Question: Why is a vegetarian doing in a McDonald’s restaurant and complaint about them not selling a burger without meat at a lower price?

Firstly McDonald is not a vegetarian’s restaurant. And Mr Nageswaran can always visit the restaurant with a non vegetarian friends and he can just give or sell his portion of “meat patty” to his friend.

Simple solution.

Aero Soarer

Got this TOMY aero soarer from HK recently. Haven’t really got the chance to fly it yet.

Cost me about HK$130 which is about S$20plus. Cheap! Saw they were selling the same thing in HK Toy R Us for HK$300!!!

Gosh you really have to know where to shop.

Basically it is almost the same as my helicopter, to be used indoor only. The plane is really light and is made up of Styrofoam and you charges it before you fly by attaching it to the remote control. It suppose to give you about 10min of flight time per charge.

Friday, March 23, 2007

How to beat the GST rise?

Somehow I knew this is coming.....
I just can't help whethere does the term "Public Services" meant anything to them.

Paying the (super)market rate
Wages of ministers, civil servants to go up as Govt seeks to keep its talent

Friday • March 23, 2007

TO KEEP pace with the growing salaries of the private sector, the Government is revising the pay of its ministers and civil servants.

For officers of the Administrative Service — the cream of the civil service — this is the first time that an adjustment has been made since 2000.

A formal announcement on the changes will be made in Parliament on April 9.

The worldwide hunt for talent is intense and to remain an attractive employer, the Public Service, too, had to keep pace with the private market, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

I wonder what is the turn over rate in our Public Services.

Speaking at the annual administrative service dinner and promotion ceremony, Mr Lee, who is also the Finance Minister, cited the Administrative Service as one of the many services that had "fallen behind".

He described two key salary benchmarks that the Administrative Service, which employs some 230 officers, uses in calculating its salaries.

The first is the "Staff Grade 1" rank for senior Permanent Secretaries, especially those leading the larger ministries. This benchmark is also used to determine the salaries of ministers.

This is done by first tracking the top eight earners in each of six professions. Their salaries are arranged from No 1 to 48. The benchmark is pegged at two-thirds the salary of the median — the 24th earner.

Using the data from private sector incomes in 2005, Earner No 24 took home $3.29 million, so the 2006 benchmark for minister salaries would be 66.6 per cent of that — or about $2.2 million. Historically, ministers have been paid less than the benchmark.

Today, senior Permanent Secretaries and ministers in this grade are paid $1.2 million a year, or 55 per cent of the benchmark. Back in 2000, they were earning 71 per cent of the benchmark.

In a statement by the Public Service Division (PSD), it said these six professions were picked because they are "alternative professions" that the Government's top calibre senior civil servants could have otherwise joined.

On top of their main jobs, senior civil servants hold concurrent appointments such as chairmen of statutory boards or government-linked companies.

More reasons to increase their salaries.

"We recognise that the nature of work in the public and private sectors are different and there is some personal sacrifice involved in public service," said the statement.

I can think of any. Maybe you don’t have the fun in taking the public transport to work?

The job security of ministers was also highlighted by the PSD.

"Ministers are not in guaranteed long-term jobs — they face the General Elections every five years. Similarly, our top civil servants are put on fixed term appointments once they are appointed to a top position," it said.

Another main salary benchmark is the "SR9" — the lowest Superscale grade at which officers in their early- to mid-30s enter the senior ranks of the Administrative Service.

This benchmark dipped between 2001 and 2004 because of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks and Sars in 2003, but has since climbed to $361,000 — just below the $363,000 benchmark set in 2000. Last year, an entry-level Superscale officer was paid a salary amounting to 103 per cent of the benchmark — or $371,830 a year.

Explaining that these numbers were based on incomes earned two years ago, Mr Lee said the private sector salaries "have most probably risen further" since then.

Most probably? I am sure the gahment know exactly what is going on in the public sectors.

Describing the talent squeeze as an urgent problem, he spoke of how the civil service needs to provide challenging assignments for its staff.

Singaporeans are in demand not just here but the world over. Mr Lee gave the example of a Middle Eastern country that dropped feelers about buying the whole of JTC!

And hinting that money is not the route to all solutions, he said the civil service leadership must excite and enthuse its staff to see that they are helping to make a difference to Singapore's policy-making.

If not then why the high salaries?

In the early 1990s, the Administrative Service lost "entire cohorts of good officers", and having taken many years to recover from the loss, the Prime Minister said it "must not happen again" in future.

The resignation rate in the public sector rose to 5.7 per cent last year, up from 4.8 per cent in 2005.

How many of these people resigned due to low pays? Or could there be other reason that they resigned? Like too many red tapes in our public services? Lack of empowerment, job satisfaction? I think the gahment should seriously look into it. Increasing pay in not the only way to stop people from quitting the public services.

"Besides civil service salaries, we are also reviewing salaries for the political, judicial and statutory appointment holders. It is even more critical to keep these salaries competitive ... to bring in a continuing flow of able and successful people to be ministers and judges," said Mr Lee.

In this latest review, the new salary structure is expected to tie salaries more closely to performance, in line with private sector practice.

In his speech, Mr Lee also outlined another pertinent problem — that of encouraging Singaporeans to venture overseas, while at the same time ensuring that there is enough talent in Singapore to grow the economy.

He said: "How will Singapore businesses recruit talent and grow into first-class companies? How will we create the jobs and opportunities for the less successful Singaporeans, who cannot seek their fortunes in China, India or the US? How will the Public Service maintain a first-class team that can lead Singapore into the future?"

Looking ahead, Mr Lee challenged the Public Service to benchmark itself to top global companies, such as Google.

"Google receives 1,300 resumes a day. The Public Service must strive to have that same cachet. The whole tone of the organisation must exude confidence, energy and purpose," he said.

Monday, March 19, 2007

SIA Krisflyer

In recent months I have noticed an increase in publication on Straights Time’s Forum regarding complaints on SIA’s Krisflyer program.

Most are some Krisflyer’s members bickering about their experience on failure to redeem their mileage or failure to be upgraded to a higher class when traveling with SIA. They are normally followed by quotes of their wonderful experience from other airlines and it usually ends with complaints on slow or absent of replies from SIA.

Several things crossed my mine when reading these letters I just can’t help to think:

· How many of these passengers actually bought their First/Business class tickets and not being paid by their companies?

I know that SIA’s Krisflyer program may not be the best loyalty program in the world but I believed there are certainly a fair amount of abused by passengers.

I just can’t help to think some of these so called Krisflyer’s members are just want to get a “free lunch” with mileage clocked by their “Free” business travels to upgrade themselves whenever possible.

If these members so claim SIA had lost their business then what the purpose of writing in publics about it?

If they praised other airlines so much then they should just stick to fly with these airlines and enjoyed their loyalty program and be happy about it. They don’t have to fly SIA which they have so much complaints.

I’ve also heard horrific stories on unreasonable passengers from my cabin crew friends.

Although I am not a frequent flyers, I had flew with Cathay, Thai, Qantas, Emirates, Air France and British Airway and my experience with them on the whole are slightly below par when compare to SIA.

In summary, SIA is suffering a drop in service standard but so are all the other airlines in the world. Competition, terror treats and rising fuel prices are driving airlines to cut cost. But on the whole SIA are still up there among the best 4 airlines in the world.

So if you don’t like an airline, you have the option of taking your business to another. Stop being a bickering cheapskate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ice in Taiwan

When you visit Taiwan, one of the food you must eat is “Chuo Bin” or shredded ice.

Basically it is like our ice kachang but they don’t use any bean, instead they uses fresh fruits or yam, sorbet and top them up with condensed milk. This coast about S$8, not cheap.

The one above are from Ice Monster at 永康街. It is one of the best you can get. Always crowded with Japanese tourist and locals even thought the temperature is like 14 C!!

I think they have a branch in Singapore at Bencoolen Street. Can’t confirm it existence still but saw it on the LCD TV at the Taiwan store.