[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Thursday, November 23, 2006

[PAYM's 35th Anniversary]
I was invited to the People's Association Youth Movement's 35th Anniversary Celebrations this evening at the new Cathay cineplex just opposite SMU.

It was a special screening of the movie Happy Feet (which I will talk about later in the post).

I must say the seats in the new cineplex are noticibly larger that those at GV at Plaza Singapura. Not sure about those in VivoCity as i haven't been there yet. But I was more than content chilling out in hall 7.

Surprisingly, there was no birthday song, candles or a big cake. Instead every guest received a cake from Polar cakes and puffs. It's very personalised with the logo and all. As I will only have it for breakfast tomorrow, I can't tell you whether it is delicious as yet.

The movie Happy Feet starts with a chrous of songs and has scenes of a globe, landscapes and then finally, the stars of the show appear - the penguins.

It is quite similar like most animated (a la Ice Age 2) movies and the plot's generally the same. A penguin couple falls in love and they have a baby penguin named Mumble (voiced by LOTR star Elijah Wood) who is different from everyone else. It's just like the ugly duckling story - great for kids. No prizes for guessing, Mumble saves the day in the end.

There are a lot of adventure elements throughout the entire movie with elephant seals and whales. And even an encounter with eagles. There is no shortage of surprizes.

So while the clan of penguins that Mumble grows up in woos their other half with songs, Mumble who is different only manages with his off-pitch screech. And is the nightmaire of every headmaster. But then far from the madding crowd, there lies another species of penguin - that well, keep themselves happy with their, you guessed it, feet. And they break out spontaneously in song with their 'hip hop' moves (there were no P65 MPs present in the movie) and footwork.

The adventure element is not lacking in this one. Lest you think it is all about adventure, there are also lots of breakouts into songs - oldies and top hits - no less. I felt like singing when i watched it. Maybe next time when they release the DVD version I can sing along.

Interstingly, this is the first animated movie that I've watched that features real life humans with close interaction. There's even a 'UN debate' on the interference with the food chain of the penguins (halfway in the movie, the entire generation of penguins are deprived of their source of fish and a curious Mumble vows to find the root cause).

Are there really aliens around? Are they the ones responsible for the disapppearing fish?

You have to watch Happy Feet to find out.

Okay. On to serious stuff - the impending (yes it is impending) GST hikes.

My view is that raising the GST to 7% is just a little 2 points up so no big deal. Although if it keeps getting up, up and up, it may be too hot to handle. Perhaps it should be capped at a certain percentage - maybe 10% or something.

VAT in Thailand is 7% and other countries have much higher tax rates. And by the time it is our new GST is passed during budget debate next year, we would have had sufficient time to adjust to it. Those who had saved their progress package payouts would be the ones laughing now - it's a good idea to save up for rainy days.

Apart from listening to the grouses, I believe what needs to be done is to formulate policies that will really benefit the people in the lower income range. Our Gini coefficient has been rising through the years (I know this and it is thanks to my attentiveness during sociology class). It is no doubt that the income gap in Singapore is widening.

Singaporeans are very good at formulating policies. But how efficient these policies are, we have yet to see. Maybe to be more transparent, policy makers should have varied solutions for the different groups. What's most important is to let Singaporeans know that the process is one that is all encompassing and transparent. That is what leaders have to do - to convince those on the ground that what they are doing is for their benefit.

This way, everyone has a fair share in know what goes behind the debates and the stand of the Government and how these new or add-on policies will really benefit needy families (or those that are in the lower percentiles of the income range).

The way I see it is that the Government wants each and everyone to be self-reliant. Although there is no real safety net, there are policies drafted to help those that sincerely need the assistance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wake up! Its just a matter of time before it reaches 10%.

Saturday, November 25, 2006 1:58:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very dissapointing to see your blog post with your obvious lack of understanding of the situation in this country. To think that you took a sociology course and have yet to see the bigger picture - tsk tsk. It reflects poorly on your lack of education.

Saturday, November 25, 2006 6:47:00 pm

Blogger Bao Ren said...

Since when theres a new cathay cinema?

Saturday, November 25, 2006 7:54:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Those who had saved their progress package payouts would be the ones laughing now - it's a good idea to save up for rainy days."

You mean to say it's rainy days now? Who brings the rain?

I thought we were told Progress Package was for the progress the last five years?

Sunday, November 26, 2006 12:48:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

desperate to suck up to pap? to embarassed to admit it to the point that you are deleting comments?

Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:49:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

*embarrassed i meant

Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:50:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there were policies drafted to truly help the lower income, then we wouldnt have people jumping off MRT tracks oredi yeh?

If you are a truly intelligent social science student, perhaps you would understand that GST is used primarily to make MNCs have lower costs through tax subsidies. Simply put, our GST pays for their extra costs, which makes operations here competitive to other countries.

However, the increase of GST does not prompt companies to increase our pay. So the extra earnings are re-invested elsewhere.

The rich remains rich compared to the poor due to difference in taxation through the use of a proxy, eg. companies, as opposed to individual taxation. The rich also have businesses which WILL profit from GST increase based on the explanation above-mentioned.

So the middle class are the ones who suffer the GST increase the most, because they buy luxury items once in a while, but incur the new costs personally. The poor avoid the cost as they only buy necessities and the rich feel no pain becos, a) the goods can be purchased via companies, which bear the costs of GST, and b) are too rich to feel the impact.

Thus the increase in no immediate way alleviates any class except the rich, in which case they do not need.

It is my hope that the increase in GST creates an increase in funding to help the lower income instead of "encouraging" more companies to operate here and siphon resources. The extra $ earned from the GST hike can be carefully planned and used for immediate help to families.

Btw, i am not sure abt this, but I heard that places like thailand do have a high VAT but the cost of products is incurred once only. They do not have licenses to watch TV or have use the radio or COE. We have double costs here, so it is unfair for comparison.

Monday, November 27, 2006 3:27:00 am

Blogger Ephraim Loy 黎传志 said...

While studying for my coming exams, I went to read up on my notes on stratification of society.

It was sad when I read a report by the Straits Times on the widening income gap. Some families could not save up their progress package payouts as they had to use it to pay off daily expenses and all. I am not sure whether there were families who save up theirs - I did save a considerable amount.

The surprising thing that I found was that the percentage of people dwelling in smaller flats have decreased. For the one-room flats up to the four room, the percentage has decreased from 2000 to 2005 among the Chinese, Malay and Indian population. However, the percentage of five-room/executive, condos, private housing went up among all ethnic groups.

Monday, November 27, 2006 10:34:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really need more reading and understanding.

The middle income group(the new poor) are hit greatest by the GST hike. And they are the group that are downgrading from ie: a condo to a HDB, from a 5 room to 3 room.

Please dun stick ur head just within the textbooks, go out read and listen.

Monday, November 27, 2006 11:01:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do ample research before making sweeping statements like "the VAT in thailand is 7%".

Nobody bothered to point out that VAT in Thailand only applies to "non-essential" goods and services.

Here in Singapore we even pay GST for hospital bills...

And BTW, seems like you don't come from a lower income family. Don't you realise that for most lower income families, their progress packages have already been spent by now? What save for a rainy day.

You can save your progress package because probably your parents are paying your bills. (Oh, and perhaps providing some pocket money too?) Spare a thought for others when you make irresponsible, sweeping statements.

Why don't you just suggest that all poor people just live in caves (sorry, no caves in SG, maybe tents?) and eat grass? Progress packages for poor people are used to pay OUTSTANDING bills. Progress packages for well-to-do people are meant for funding their holidays or restaurant meals.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:12:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, you seem to be suggesting that because people are living in 5 room flats, they are rich.

Dude, wake up! 5 room flats are getting smaller nowadays! Some 4 room flats are larger! And since HDB flats are paid off by loans, and given the fact that over a 30 years loan a 5 room flat wouldn't cost much more per month... most people would go for 5 rooms.

I wish you can stop making irresponsible remarks and defending them with weak, lop-sided arguments.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:19:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like you are just another wee-wee case, as far as understanding of the real world is concerned.

very naive and yet have an edge over others in material things and thinks that the world shld be void of sufferings - not in a papa gahment country, at least!

Friday, December 01, 2006 11:07:00 am


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