[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

Sunday, February 03, 2008

[Chinese New Year]
1. Although the number of hardship cases which MPs see has come down, there are still families who need help. Because of ill health, drug addiction, divorce or just plain bad luck, some families get into a rut. While the government has various programmes to help them, it is also important that family members, relatives, friends and others offer helping hands. Singaporeans are a generous people and will dig into their pockets when there is a worthy cause. For Chinese New Year, it is the custom in many constituencies for angpows and food parcels to be presented to poor families.

2. This year, my CCC decided on a decentralised system of distribution to make it more convenient for the older folks. On Sunday afternoon, I did two distributions, one for the 400 series of HDB flats at Hougang and one for the 500 series. On Monday, the distribution will be at Bedok Reservoir. The money for the angpows and food parcels come from private donations. Bliss Restaurant (at Punggol Park) is a major sponsor. I was surprised to find in each parcel a pack of high-quality Thai fragrant rice and other items donated by Christine, the proprietor. (Christine, thanks!)

3. I was chatting with some recipients at the makan kecil after the presentation. One Indian resident who had seen me at MPS now has a job doing computer cabling. He was in high spirits. Another resident, a Malay executive who was retrenched, is working as a driver, not ideal, but still better than being without a job. He had also seen me at MPS and told me how difficult it was for him to get another comparable job once you have reached a certain age. We need an attitude change among Singapore employers towards older workers.

4. Looking ahead at the coming New Year, our economy should continue to grow but the downturn in the US economy will inevitably affect us. The growth of China and India won't be enough to make up for the loss of US demand. The combined economies of China and India are still small compared to the US economy. We have to be watchful. However vigilant we are, there'll always be surprises. Look at how the Chinese are suddenly suffering from an exceptionally cold winter. The Chinese Government is sparing no effort to restore services and has mobilised more than a million soldiers. But millions of people will not be able to celebrate Chinese New Year with their families because of the disruption to transportation and electrical supply. Our hearts go out to them.

5. I wish all blog readers good health and happiness in the coming Year of the Rat.

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