#201 a roof over my head

I’m grateful to our Singapore’s first echelon of leaders under the leadership of the then prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew who concertedly provided housing for her citizens.

Not that the government provided cheap-rented housing but they were able to come up with a national scheme known as the central provident fund where we were forced to set aside a sum monthly throughout our working life and we were able to use that saving to buy a housing unit of flats (apartments) built by the Housing Development Board — these were much cheaper than the condominiums in the property market. (Of course, if one considers one’s face more important, then one should consider purchasing a condominium!)

Today about 80%-90% of Singaporeans lived in these housing estates. I recall as I was growing up, I did wonder if I could purchase one when the cost of each unit had escalated as compared to the price that our parents paid. Nonetheless, in our twilight years, we could safely say we do own a home of our own.

Many expatrates, especially those from the West were able to accumulate after a two-year contract working here to purchase a property of their own in their home country.

Sadly with the subprime crisis in the US, I feel sad and bad as I read about many new homeless resort to living in cars to tie over this critical period.

Many in the West who could afford a good spacious home had to forego and now living in smaller and more affordable homes.

Personally I would be most distraught without a roof over my head — if I retired or caught without a job in the subprime and credit crises!

#200 spend first pay later

‘Spend first, pay later’ — was the slogan to attract the use of credit cards.

Living on borrowed money was the vogue for the past 40 years conservatively. Instead of regarding this as debt, it was sugared as ‘credit’.

There was a time when it was regarded smart to travel first — to enjoy life first — then pay back later! Many were caught in this and eventually led some to loansharks which spiral into deeper debts and sufferings.

However in the West, this personal credit debt is now beyond control!

While it seems expedient to solve a person’s dilemma on short term but for long term, this means accumulated debts, eventually calling for personal bankruptcy when a person cannot pay up!

Does this mean the banks write-off these debts?

What does it mean for the person going on bankruptcy for short period? What does bankruptcy do to one’s reputation?

Is this one cause that has led the banks to the point of no return today?

Apparently in the US, foreclosures of small banks were common phenomenon. Many on the international scene were not aware that happened on the domestic front.

Is this financial crisis in the US the result where bigger banks are unable to resolve their crunch? Am I too simplistic? Or is there something more sinister?

#199 domestic maids pregnant?

I read this interesting news today:

Maternity perks urged for maids

The proposed changes to the Employment Act may see more local workers coming under its umbrella, but two non—government organisations (NGOs) want the protection extended to domestic workers too — including the provision of the latest maternity benefits….

Domestic workers here, most of whom are women, number about 180,000, and the NGOs said that Singapore should take the cue from Hong Kong in ensuring that these workers have a statutory weekly rest day, public holidays, maternity leave and the right to a minimum wage.

I believe Hongkong requires the maid to look for their own accommodation and paying for their own housing! Whoever suggest this ‘take the cue from Hong Kong’ has supplied half-truth. I wonder how many members of these NGOs have experienced having domestic help.

There was champion for the domestic maids by the human rights group but there were some glaring truths they did not highlight.

Some maids abuse the master’s home when the master and family were out of town and turning the house into a sex den or for their own private affairs! Who champion for master of the house?

There are maids who do not want days off…as they do not want to join in the discontents gossiping about their bosses. Furthermore, if the maids decided to run away as some young ones who did not adjust well to new environment, who takes responsibility for their whereabouts?

The writer knows of a Filipino maid in the past requested that she not be given day off to go out. If she had a day off, she would remain in the house but when she was around, she felt uneasy not helping around the house. She went out once but found she couldn’t adjust to the gossips! The family wanted to treat her like a member of the family but she requested eating separately as she preferred her own cooked food.

I recall an interview on BBC where this domestic maid, claiming she had a master degree, came to Singapore to work as domestic maid who subsequently wrote a book. She gloated over an incident when she answered back her boss. Her boss glared at her and didn’t answer her as he was shocked to find this maid rather rude. You see there is cultural difference in getting things done. Would she answer back if her master was a caucasian?

Singapore has had prosecuted those who abuse domestic maids, so why a wanting to champion for them…unless some Singaporeans want to bring shame upon themselves by championing for the sake of championing!

When a domestic helper is pregnant, can she provide the necessary domestic help to the master and home? She is hired to work in the home. Mind you, if she had morning sickness, could she provide the same service? If the master decided to make demands, will this be construed as abuse — a case for the human rights group to champion!?

Why do Singaporean families need domestic maids?

Those who had experienced having one will know that the maid’s standard of cleanliness is different from our local demands. Furthermore, many of them do not understand what is required of them, partly language barrier. Mind you, the PUB bills go up and virtually every expenditures increased!

I wonder how many women in the workforce who hired maids paid out their hard-earned salary to the maids!

Is this a show or flaunt they are rich! Or a case of running away from reality?

Unlike yesteryears those ‘amahs’ dressed in black-and-white from China, these were dedicated domestic helpers. In some cases they literally run the households and raised the children for their masters. They became part of the family. When they became old, some of them returned to their motherland to die or went back to their own families. Those who grew up with these amah saw the great difference in having one today!

#198 bail-out plan?

What if there were no bail-out for those scoundrel and irresponsible investment banks? How will this financial quake affect the US and the world economy?

Why such jittery around the world?

According to some pundits, if there were no bail-out, this will filter every aspect of life and economy in the US! 

Was there no regulatory controls for these financial institutions?

It appears those investment banks that offer security bonds are really not secured bonds. If one were to play in stocks and shares market, at least there was some way of retrieving part of the money.

However with Lehman Bros declared bankruptcy, all those who invested with them their hard-earned cash in the name of security bonds have just disappeared into thin air?! This IS not fair!

Is there a way of bringing those managing the financial institutions to court and hold them  answerable for decisions made? Surely they must be fully aware of that happening within the bank for some time now! Why was there no curb? Where is the creditability of the American investment banks? Can we trust these so-called security bonds products in the financial market?

Can one not smell this happening from the annual reports? Or this was so well-covered up by the auditors that even the staff do not know that happening within the institution? If so, dare we trust any of those reports that we receive!

Who should we trust our hard-earned money to in future (i.e. if there was a future…)? Will it not be better if we kept these under our pillow?!

#197 amazing children saved mothers’ lives

Amazing what a child understands and does in times of emergency!

In England, James Cooke reports

A three-year-old boy came to his mother’s rescue by dialling 999 after she had an epileptic fit.

Jack Thomson called the emergency services from his mum’s mobile phone. When the line went dead he found another phone and dialled again.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7627938.stm.

Another,

Jakob Seviour saved his mother’s life by calling 999 when she had a fit and now he is being put forward for a national award.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7568697.stm.

#196 a new financial world emerging?

It seems the global financial crisis we’re experiencing at the moment is deeper and more serious than anticipated.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers has caused domino effect on many financial institutions creating turmoil, tsunami, hurricane… Is this the true face of credit crunch?

Below a video clip of NY trader Arthur D Cashin Jr with almost 50 years of experience on turbulent times — the fear today is “Who can I trust to trade with?”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7624984.stm.

Will there come a time when there will be no American-based investment banks at Wall Street? A new financial world emerging?

Are we heading towards the Great Depression?

#195 dream fulfilled @ 16

Yip Pin Xiu, swimmer

Congratulations to Singapore’s first gold medalist swimmer, Yip Pin Xiu, 16 years old suffering muscular dystrophy and is a student at the Bendemeer Secondary School [unfortunately I couldn’t find the newsbit I read yesterday to verify some information at the time of writing] at Beijing Paralympic 2008.

Muscular dystrophy is a rare inherited muscle disease where muscle fibres are unusually susceptible to damage. One suffering this is apparent lack of coordinations resulting from muscle weakness and there will be progressive crippling, resulting in contractual of the muscles around joints and loss of mobility.

Considering the signs and symptoms of muscular dystrophy Yip Pin Xiu is remarkable to win this accolade for our nation.

Her parents sacrificially and bravely cope with this illness of hers as this requires great commitment of physical, emotional and financial effort. This disease also poses challenges in the classroom, in the home and in all aspects of life.

Her win is her determination to hard work through dedication and is also the result of team work: under patient and able trainer in former medalist swimmer, Ang Peng Siong and her parents who did not pressure her to win, friends, school and Sports Council.

Trainer Ang Peng Siong was able to understand and encourage her by spending a day of relaxation like shopping rather than spending the time in the water!

Indeed this is celebration for her parents and trainer, Ang Peng Siong.

Pin Xiu has made everyone glad and rejoicing!