Thursday, July 31, 2014

Former HDB CEO calls for 10 million population in Singapore

Dr Liu Thai-Ker is an architect-planner. Since 1992, he has been Director of RSP Architects Planners & Engineers Pte Ltd., a consultant firm of over 1,600 people, with 12 overseas offices and projects in 18 countries.

Dr Liu is concurrently the Founding Chairman of Centre for Liveable Cities since 2008. The Centre is a knowledge hub created jointly by the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.

He has served as the Adjunct Professor of the School of Design and Environment and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He is also the Adjunct Professor in the College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. He is a member of several governmental bodies in Singapore, and planning advisor to around 30 cities in China.

As Architect-Planner and CEO of the Housing & Development Board, 1969-1989, he oversaw the completion of over half a million dwelling units. As CEO and Chief Planner of Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1989-1992, he spearheaded the major revision of the Singapore Concept Plan and key direction for heritage conservation.

The Republic should plan for a population of 10 million in the long term if it is to remain sustainable as a country, says the man known widely as the architect of modern Singapore. According to Liu Thai Ker, Singapore should not stop its population growth projection at the figure of 6.9 million listed in the 2013 White Paper on Population. 
"That is an interim figure and projection and obviously Singapore is going to grow beyond that," he said yesterday at a seminar, "Building a Nation: Tomorrow, Challenges and Possibilities for a Liveable Singapore". 
As architect-planner and CEO of the Housing Development Board from 1969 to 1989, Mr Liu oversaw the completion of over half a million public housing units, and as CEO and chief planner of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) from 1989 to 1992, he spearheaded the major revision of the Singapore Concept Plan and key direction for heritage conservation.
"The question is: How long do you want Singapore to exist as a sovereign state? Certainly beyond 2030, so we should plan for the longer term and for this 10 million figure as we cannot curb population growth after 2030." 
Mr Liu explained that it was necessary for Singapore to plan for the longer term than for the 17 years it had planned for in the White Paper. He suggested that even though Singapore has a lot of land to be reclaimed and there is a lot of land set aside for industrial purposes that can be converted for other use, it is still better to plan for the long term so that there is a better estimate of the amount of land that is required. 
"So if we need to reclaim more land from the sea, we can plan for it and do so."
Conversely, Mr Liu argued that shorter-term population planning would result in higher density as each time the population projection is made, the government may increase land density as it does not have a longer-term view of the amount of land that may be needed and that it has available. "Overall, this results in Singapore's land density increasing." 
Mr Liu told BT that the 10 million figure was projected on how much Singapore could grow long term for the next 80-150 years at a population growth rate of less than one per cent each year. He said that if the growth rate were based on the upper limit of the projection of the 2013 White Paper, at 6.9 million, then Singapore could reach a population of 10 million by 2090. If however, it is based on the lower limit of 6.5 million then we may reach 10 million by 2200.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Malaysian students cried "humiliation" when told to remove Niqab by invigilator for identity check

A final-year Universiti Malaya student was forced to take off her purdah (veil) during an examination because the invigilator said it was an offence to cover the face. 
According to procedure, female students wearing purdahs are checked at the entrance of the exam hall to prevent identity fraud. 
Malay Linguistics student Zulaikha Adam said she and her classmate were forced to remove their veils after the exam started on June 18. 
“I was embarrassed and humiliated before others to take off my purdah. 
“Why didn’t they conduct a check before the exam?” she asked. 
“It will take only a few seconds to verify someone’s identity, rather than forcefully asking us to remove our veils after the exam has started,” she told FMT. 
Zulaikha and her classmate, who declined to be identified, said they had never been subjected to such humiliation in their three years at the university. 
“This is the first time wearing a purdah has ever been an issue,” she said. 
She added that she was threatened that she will be taken to the head invigilator if she refused to remove her purdah.
It is a good news that Malaysian Malays are getting more and more pious, but side effects are, there are more chances to get themselves feel humiliated. 40 years ago, there was no such problem because Niqab is never Malay traditional custom. The Malays' parent generation seems to be either tougher or more timid, because they have no issues with many "insults" which Malays today are facing.

Some times ago in Egypt, university officials say that some students don the niqab to facilitate cheating or have someone else take their exam for them. Unfortunately, the ban was overturned later, by the court under an Islamist government.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thai Muslims score another victory on hijab : Accommodate me, else I shout discrimination

Muslims shouting discrimination on hijab is no news. In Thailand, Muslims have scored strings of victory against the Buddhist on hijab and all these events are concrete evidences that Thai Buddhists discriminate Islam.

In Thailand, there is a temple who runs a Buddhist missionary Wat Nonjok. A Muslim girl deliberately chose the school and walked in with hijab professing their faith -- despite thousands of other schools to choose from.

Several teachers felt aggrieved and refused to teach her. Then Muslims cry discrimination and hundreds of them gathered outside the school protesting. What else could be a better proof that Muslims are victims. Muslims managed to get Thai Minister to intervene on their behalf. The outcome of the dispute was not reported but apparently it seems that the school relented. It is Islam triumphant against evil Buddhist. It is a victory of good against bad.

Lets hope a Madrassah can accommodate, if a secular girl with to enroll with her head uncovered.

There is also a case whereby a Muslim girl get fired for hijabing in Isetan department store in Singapore. The  online forums and chatrooms were flooded with anger and grievances of Muslim netizens.  In time to come, a hijab Muslim girl will cry discrimination, when LV or Prada store in France Champs-Élysées deprive her a job. Another good chance to prove that everyone else are discriminating against Muslims.

Friday, July 18, 2014

SIA's flight path over Ukraine

The below diagram is from BBC which is based on data from Flight radar24. It is not uncommon for airlines to fly over trouble spot. SIA and Air India are close to MAS crash site in Ukraine. MH17 was just unlikely, the plane downed could easily be SQ.

If that happens, we will have a show on how our talent and scholar managers are going talk themselves out of trouble.

British Airways has been avoiding eastern Ukraine for some time, the BBC understands. But many airlines continued to fly over it. According to Flight radar24, which monitors live flight paths, the airlines that most frequently flew over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in the last week were: Aeroflot 86 (flights), Singapore Airlines 75, Ukraine International Airlines 62, Lufthansa 56, and Malaysian 48. It was not necessarily a risky approach. The chance of a rocket reaching above 32,000 feet was considered remote 
They will generally fly the shortest route - a long detour around a warzone will cause delay and add extra fuel costs.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sell Singapore, Buy Sri Lanka

Seeking Alpha has just published an article titled "Sell Singapore, Buy Sri Lanka". The excerpts are as below. These days, due to the mismanagement by PAP under the leadership of Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore is getting increasing and unprecedented amount of bad press, not seen in the earlier days of PAP.

Singapore - Short term weakness or Long-term decline?

In 2015, Singapore will celebrate its 50th birthday unsure whether it is about to endure a major political upheaval. The general election of 2016 has the potential to rock the People's Action Party ('PAP'), the party of Lee Kwan Yew that has dominated Singaporean politics since 1965. The last general election in 2011 saw the party lose a General Representation Constituency ('GRC') for the first time (to the Workers Party). A GRC is a larger constituency that elects a slate of MPs from the same party. Moreover, the PAP overall share of the vote fell to just over 60%.

This was generally viewed as a wake up warning for the PAP, but since then, there are many signs that discontent in the country has increased and economic factors are contributing to build further discontent. Questions are being whispered as to whether a bigger political avalanche could be coming at the next general election in 2016.

1. Singapore is now the most expensive city in the world. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the cost of living in Singapore has soared. This is felt on a daily basis by locals and expats alike who are paying more for every day expenses from food to travel.

2. Singapore is increasingly crowded. The population has increased from 3 million in 1990 to its current level of nearly 5.5 million. During that time, the number of foreign permanent residents has increased from 112,000 to 531,000 and the number of foreign employees on a temporary work visa from 311,000 to over 1.5 million.

3. Car ownership in Singapore is now exclusively a luxury. The complex system of ownership now means that if you can afford a car, you may as well buy a luxury car. In 1990, there were 5 times as many small (under 1,600 cc) cars available for sale as larger ones. Today, bigger cars dominate. Thelargest selling car brand in Singapore in the first quarter this year was Mercedes Benz with BMW at #3.

These factors are contributing to a sense of resentment that ordinary Singaporeans are no longer being placed first by the Government. This is undoubtedly the most common coffee shop conversation in the city at the moment. However, it is not just locals that are suffering.

4. Foreign businesses and business people are leaving Singapore. Despite official statistics, expats in Singapore will assure you that people are leaving Singapore at a much higher rate than ever before. The evidence comes from their professional lives but more importantly from their children's schools and social activities that are experiencing unparalleled turnover. One relocation agency reports a 3-fold increase in business supporting departing families in June 2014 compared to June 2013. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that foreign companies are struggling to attract senior foreign talent to locate in Singapore.

The real estate market, a key barometer of sentiment across Asia, is also showing concerning signs.

5. Housing rental yields are collapsing. Whilst official figures point to a 'softening', the specific evidence is of rentals being offered 30-50% lower than 2 years ago.

6. House prices are falling. Official figures show 3 consecutive quarters of decline. So far in 014, prices have fallen 1.1% in Q2, and 1.3% in Q1. Whilst not dramatic, once again, specific evidence is that sellers that need to sell are having to accept much more dramatic reductions and even new condos are being offered at discounts in excess of 10%.

7. The 'Chinese factor' of buying properties for investment but leaving them empty is resulting in a large stock of housing that lies empty. This is all potential supply that still has to be launched into a declining rental or sale market.

This last point about the 'Chinese Factor' is a key issue. In the past, expat talent was largely productive, attracted by jobs or the opportunity to build businesses in a key economic hub. This lay at the heart of Singapore Government Policy. Such expats are being replaced by mainland Chinese investors whose primary focus is moving portfolio investment offshore and hence is less accretive to the economy.

8. Volume on the Singapore Stock Exchange has collapsed to around $1 billion, over 40% down year on year and Moody's continues to warn of pressure on the credit ratings of Singapore banks.

So the big question is whether Singapore has reached the peak of its potential, at least for the time being? Has being declared the most expensive city in the world heralded a 'top' for Singapore that is now about to be followed by a period of consolidation or even decline. It is this correspondent's belief that the growth story of Singapore has ended and investors need to look for its successor. The answer seems to lie across the Indian Ocean in a country that showed such promise 50 years ago.

Monday, July 7, 2014

World best rock climber

An amazing video showing Alex Honnold, the world best rocker climber ascending.

Friday, July 4, 2014

France Muslim minister

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (born Najat Belkacem on 4 October 1977) is a French-Moroccan socialist politician, who on 16 May 2012 was appointed Minister of Women's Rights and Government spokesperson in the Ayrault government.

Second in a family of seven children, Najat Belkacem was born in the Moroccan countryside in 1977 in Bni Chiker, a village near Nador in the Rif region. In 1982 she rejoined her father, a building worker, with her mother and elder sister Fatiha, and grew up in the suburbs of Amiens. She graduated from the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Paris Institute of Political Studies) in 2002.