Prime Minister’s 2012 New Year message

 

http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC111231-0000099/Prime-Ministers-2012-New-Year-message

2011 was a significant year for Singapore. Singaporeans went to the polls twice, and elected a new government and President. Having made a significant political transition, we are all now adjusting to new norms in a changed environment.

 

We achieved steady growth of 4.8 per cent this year. The external environment is uncertain. Debt problems in Europe are far from solved. Next year looks like being difficult for the global economy. As a small, open country, Singapore will inevitably be affected.

 

Amidst this flux, we need to be confident of our position, and clear about our priorities and plans to build a better Singapore. We are working hard to tackle our immediate challenges. The Government is committed to keeping homes affordable to all Singaporeans. We launched 25,000 BTO flats this year, enabling many first timers to book their HDB flats. In 2012 we are launching another 25,000 BTO flats. In the private property market, the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty will moderate capital inflows and foreign demand, and help to stabilise prices.

 

We will redouble efforts to improve our public transport system and expand the train and bus network. We will identify and put right the causes of the recent MRT disruptions. The Circle Line, completed in October, now transports 300,000 commuters daily. More MRT lines are on the way. We will also continue to enhance bus services to improve the daily commuting experience. However, these improvements will take time, so meanwhile please bear with us.

 

Beyond these pressing concerns, we are attending to long-term issues to improve Singaporeans’ lives. Healthcare must stay affordable and accessible to give Singaporeans peace of mind. We are enhancing our education system to give young Singaporeans the best possible start in life. We must uphold inclusive growth and social mobility as pillars of a united Singapore. This calls both for upgrading our skills and productivity to improve wages, and for strengthening our social safety nets.

 

Population is a particularly complex and critical challenge. Like most other developed societies, Singaporeans are having too few babies, and our population is ageing. We must find workable solutions to keep our society vibrant and forward-looking, maintain our economic vitality and strengthen our Singapore core.

 
There are many factors to consider. Singaporeans need to have enough children to replace ourselves, yet getting married and having children are ultimately personal decisions. A vibrant economy needs enough workers and talent, yet we run into physical and social constraints if we admit too many foreign workers too quickly. Diversity enriches our society, but only provided new arrivals adopt our values and culture. We need to balance all these conflicting factors, make judicious compromises, and accept the unavoidable trade-offs.

 

These are real and present issues. We are tightening the inflow of foreign workers to a more sustainable rate. Companies are already feeling the pinch, especially SMEs. Individual Singaporeans will feel it too, because many foreign workers do jobs that serve citizens. Admitting fewer foreign workers also means forgoing business opportunities and accepting slower growth. This is one reason why we only expect 1-3 per cent growth next year, and why we must do our utmost to raise productivity, to make up in quality what we will miss in quantity.

 

These population issues affect us all. We will discuss them over the next year, so that we can understand better what is at stake, and what choices we must make as a nation.

 

How we manage difficult trade-offs like the population issue reflects the strength of our community. Our society is increasingly diverse. The public debate has become more open and robust. This is expected and natural, as our nation matures. However, just as important is how well we relate to one another in our shared home. This applies not only in good times when there are fewer frictions and it is easier to get along, but also when we encounter tough issues, passions run high and different points of view have to be bridged.

 

Our success as a nation is increasingly defined not just in economic terms but also by our social capital. We need to strengthen our values of tolerance, mutual respect and empathy. This goes beyond being civil and considerate to one another. It involves us actively appreciating others’ perspectives, caring for our fellow citizens, conducting a constructive public discourse and accepting the need to make compromises that benefit the majority. These are essential attributes of a mature, gracious society which I believe we all want for Singapore.

 

I am glad to see signs of such positive engagement emerging. For example, nature, heritage and other interest groups are working closely and enthusiastically with the MND on the project to redevelop the former KTM railway land. Interested Singaporeans are making innovative suggestions on how to balance development and nature along the rail corridor. We need to handle other more contentious issues as constructively too, such as when we have to build new expressways, train lines or nursing homes, affecting residents nearby. Much as we would like to, it is not possible to please everyone completely. If all sides refuse to budge, Singapore will be gridlocked and nothing will move. Hence, we need to uphold a spirit of give and take, and actively search for creative and practical outcomes that serve the common good. And, after the final decision has been made, I hope that all parties will rally behind this collective decision.

 

Overall, we have every reason to be confident and optimistic. We pulled together as one nation to overcome the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. We are transforming our living environment. Punggol 21 Plus is taking shape. Marina Bay has become an international icon, and the Gardens by the Bay will soon be another jewel on our skyline. We continue to invest in our future: the Singapore University of Technology and Design is enrolling its first batch of students in April, and ITE Central’s campus in Ang Mo Kio is taking shape. We will strengthen the SAF and Home Team to protect our security and our harmonious way of life. We are enhancing our social compact too: nurturing our children’s values and characters, strengthening support networks for our elderly and improving our social safety nets to help Singaporeans help themselves. All these will contribute to making Singapore the best home for ourselves and our families.

 

Because we have been successful, Singapore’s international standing is high. Many foreign visitors commend the Singapore spirit and how well we work together. When I travel abroad, people often congratulate me on Singapore’s achievements and want to emulate what we have done. I recently met a young Singaporean participating in an APEC event in Honolulu. She was amazed at how respected Singapore was among her fellow international participants. Businesses know about and benefit from this Singapore premium, but Singa¬poreans in general are less conscious of this important fact. It is a tremendous asset, based on our track record, reputation, and justified confidence in our people and our institutions.

 

We must never lose these strengths. I am confident that in a changing world, we will continue to bond as one people and walk shoulder to shoulder into a brighter tomorrow. Let us cherish our dreams, look forward with optimism and resolve, and work together to achieve the best we can for all our people, and for our Singapore.

 

I wish all Singaporeans a very Happy New Year.

 

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how much is your demand vs your contribution ? – by writer from the net

 
by writer from the the net :
  
I have heard so many times Oppositions and their Supporters claimed that they are taxpayers and hence they deserve to be demanding for a service level, that the government is their servant, they are the employers etc etc.
 
 

In order to understand this theory, I researched on it and here’s what I found.

 

The chart here, although showing a statistic 2 years back, shows that Personal Income Tax is at 15.3% of the entire Operating Revenue collected by IRAS.

 

Operating Revenue = Tax revenue collected via various routes.

 

The link below shows the average salary of a Singaporean at S$4677/month, which is S$56,124/year.
http://www.salarysingapore.com/average-salary-in-singapore-2011.html

 

The link below shows the Personal Income Tax Rate in Singapore.
http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=1190

 

From the data extracted, it shows that the average personal tax paid by an individual earning an average salary is at S$550 for the first $40,000.

 

The next $40,000 is at 7%.
For the purpose of discussion, I assumed an individual has a total Reliefs of S$5,000.
(its variable depending on everyone’s circumstances as stated in this document : http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page.aspx?id=9902).

 

Therefore the total tax payable by an individual earning an average income of S$4,677 per month is S$550 + {(S$56124-40000-5000) x 7%} = S$550 + $778.68 = S$1328.68 per year OR S$3.64 per day.

 

So what can S$3.64 per day contribute to the needs of the entire budget needed to run this nation?
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/singapore/government-budget

 

If we have changed a light bulb before, we will know that S$3.64 is probably only enough to buy one light bulb for one street lamppost, which also means it will take Hundreds of Thousands or even Million of Singaporeans’ average personal tax to just pay for the light bulbs on our street lamps.

 

I guess I do not need to state the obvious that if we earn lesser than S$4,677 per month then our personal tax contribution is not even enough to cover a bulb a day.

 

Regardless of our salary and tax payable, we get to enjoy the same and entire infrastructure in this nation.

 

The roads are nicely built and well lit. Public Services are in general good admitedly at times we do still have hiccups. Schools are more beautiful these days. The list can go on and on……..
 
 

How many countries in this world is giving out such good deals?
I have seen none after visitng 29 cities/villages from 14 countries.

 

Whilst I agree we should not condone bad service, I also do not condone bad attitude.

 

Hence when I hear people claiming they are taxpayers and deserve to demand, I always ask, yes but by how much is your demand vs your contribution and in what manner your demand was delivered across?
 

I am not attempting to diminish your contribution by making a mathematical calulation here.

 

I am showing you how much we are receiving vs what we are giving, as an attempt to make you a happier Singaporean.

Its only when we have a happy heart then we can do more for ourselves and for our country.
 
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Vincent Wijeysingha – politician turned cartoonist? (2) – by The Real Thing is…

http://therealthingis.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/vincent-wijeysingha-politician-turned-cartoonist-2/

Part 1 –  here

Updated 31 December 2011

Very quickly, in reponse to netizens’ disapproval of Vincent’s ‘portrayal’ of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in his facebook, on his public page his admin posted in his defense.

Now, one would have expected an apology from Vincent for that distasteful cartoon.  But, apparently, apologizing is the last thing on his or for that matter, his admin / party’s (SDP)  mind.

Let’s see, “for his friends only” ……

1) A click on the privacy button showed up “Shared with : Public” – yes, even till now as I am typing.  (It would have been set back to “friends only” , if it had been wrongly set in the first place, no?).

But no, I can still see that photo and no, I am not a friend of Vincent.

2) If Vincent has meant his ‘cartoon’ for his ‘friends” eyes only, does it then mean that he possess and portray a different set of morals privately and when in public? 

I think there is a certain adjective for such people, something that starts with letter “H” ?

3) In response to above comment, the reply was :

Well, it is indeed sad that a politician, a ‘Dr’, behaved so disrespecfully.  It only tells us, the citizens, that we have to be even more careful as to who we cast our votes for to represent us.

Such persona has no place in our Parlimentary system, lest we want to turn it into a circus.

 

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Wishing all a happy, successful and fulfilling new year – by MP Tin Pei Ling

 

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=300691809972720&id=190962180945684

Tin Pei Ling

 

在繁华喧嚣的都市生活里,我们每个人的机遇是千百种。过去的一年里,我们可能有过失落,有过得意;有过百般不愿意的无能为力,有过从没想过的意外惊喜;有过失望,有过成长;有过那么多的滋味和体验。五味杂陈。不管是哪种滋味或体验,千万别失意,也别失去人生的方向。2011 年即将过去,让不如意的也随之飞逝。重要的是将美丽开心的回忆留住,抱着希望和乐观的态度来迎接2012 年。
祝愿大家有一个开心,得志和美满的新年!

[A very brief translation: Never lose hope and direction in life, but hold on to happy memories and embrace 2012 with hope and optimism. Wishing all a happy, successful and fulfilling new year!]

 

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Managing Strays…yet again – by MP Tan Chuan-Jin

https://www.facebook.com/notes/tan-chuan-jin/managing-straysyet-again/298828286826620

Tan Chuan-Jin

The saga over the stray dogs in Punggol has been very revealing. 

Recently, these dogs in Punggol Waterway chased and attacked two joggers and chased another cyclist. The story of the lady jogger being bitten was reported widely in the media. One jogger had a deep bite at the ankle and over 20 scratches on the calf, another suffered four bites. They were administered tetanus shots, antibiotics and painkillers. They were also badly shaken by the incidents.

AVA has been tracking the situation and stepped up action to round up the stray dogs. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the correct action to take as safety of the public is paramount.

However, a number of animal lovers responded with hostility. Some of them questioned if the joggers’ accounts were true. Some blamed them for intruding into the dogs’ territories. Hate mail had been sent. Some called this a massacre and various false stories have been circulating.

Let’s be clear. When strays are rounded up, culling is not the default action. AVA has been working with the Animal Welfare Groups (AWG) on this. 12 dogs have been rounded up. 8 of them have been assessed to be aggressive and not suitable for re-homing, and have been humanely put down. I understand that one has been re-homed and another three up for re-homing.

We engaged external contractors to round up the dogs. The company is registered in Singapore and a number of their staff are Malaysians and their vehicle is approved for use in Singapore. Some seem to want to inject a nationalistic angle into this issue. But this is not the real issue, is it? A video had been circulating online about a pregnant stray feeder questioning these contractors. Her being pregnant seemed to have drawn some attention but again, it is not relevant is it? The couple in question were stray dog feeders and had been following the contractors for several hours. They were getting in the way of them doing their jobs. The Police was thus called in. 

Feeding of strays in the area was obvious. Plastic bags of cooked meat were strewn around the grassy patches. A man driving a patisserie delivery van was seen throwing bags of food in the area. He said that he did it regularly. We are also concerned that dogs have been dumped in the area by errant owners.

We have been working actively with the AWGs to manage the issues on the ground. What has been clear to me is that there are many who are uncomfortable with animals as well and we have to respect those concerns. Our commitment is to ensure the well being of Singaporeans, and to also make sure that we treat all animals humanely and with care. 

Individuals have to decide what route they wish to take. Singaporeans have to also judge for themselves what they make of the tone and approach taken by many of these animal lovers. The volunteers in the AWGs have years of experience and deeply care for animals, as do many of our staff in AVA. They are all taking practical and concrete steps to improve the common space. Those of you who are keen to work on this, do step forward and join the AWGs to champion your concerns. 

Meanwhile, do contact ASD at 6100 2737 or email them at info@asdsingapore.com. The pics below are of a year old male cross-breed, and a 3 years old female cross-breed. Do help them find a new and loving home in this new year!

 

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New Year Trimmings – by MP Indranee Rajah

https://www.facebook.com/groups/269562209771985/#!/media/set/?set=a.352010574815918.102342.209473372402973&type=1 

 

At my MPS last week on 23 December, a resident who works part-time as a barber, Mr Mohamed Masor, offered to give free hair- cuts for the low- income residents in my constituency. I was impressed that despite the fact that he was coming for assistance on his own matters, he was also thinking of others and offering to contribute his skills and time to those in need.

I called my CCC chairman straightaway, and highlighted the offer. My CCC chairman highlighted that the children will be going back to school in Jan, and some of the low income parents could not afford haircuts for their children.

From there the idea was born – resulting in the “Back to School with a Smile” free hair-cut project for children of low-income families which was carried out at Henderson Heights yesterday.

We had 7 resident-volunteer hair trimmers:
a) 2 fathers from our Superdaddies club (including Mr Mohamed Masor)
b) 3 mothers from our SuperMummies Club;
c) 1 grandfather
d) 1 teenager

Some of them are professional barbers/hairstylists. Others had learnt their hair- cutting skills in various skills upgrading programmes.

It was a very fun event, not least because the children were so obviously having a good time. We decided against a stuffy formal event, and went with the laid back kampong feel, with the hair- cuts done out in the open in the breeze and among the trees! Since we didn’t have the big barber chairs, we improvised with the colourful stackable chairs – fully adjustable to the height of the kids simply by removing or adding a chair!

Also learnt something new – a favoured haircut for the boys called “The Armani”! I watched Mr Mohamed do it. It consists of a short crop behind, with the hair brushed forward on the top of the head, ending with an upward flip in front ( a la Tin Tin!) You can check it out in the pics. The young boys seemed very chuffed by their “Armanis” 🙂

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