The Shock Doctrine — The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

9 09 2007




First World Nation of Third World Citizens

9 11 2006

Previously I have made a comment on the littering in foodcourts and coffeeshops. Look what’s published in today’s papers.

Sometimes I wonder if we deserve to be paid better when our social consciousness is worse than animals. Even cats know how to use the litterbox when they take a shit. We can’t even pee properly in the public toilets, lest say take care of our own litter. it’s not this country I’m sick of, it’s the people. And don’t you dare call me elitist.





Towards A Better Future?

7 11 2006

Yunxi posted an article today about the old people of today’s Singaporean society.

It is only unique in SG that we see the unique phenomenon of our elderly slogging at the food courts or the public toilets. In other parts of the world, say for example US, Korea or even Malaysia, I do not see such treatment of the elderly.

When everytime I see the poor grandma/grandpa cleaning away at the table, my heart breaks. The mess that the users leaves behind is simply horrible and hideous at times. How many of us dare say that we actually do make it a point to clear our own plates after consuming our food? If it’s one of your loved ones thats doing the cleaning up at a public food court, would u then behave in such a manner?

Sometimes, at the end of the day, when the poor cleaner is tired out and hungry, he/she gets too disgusted at the sight of food even to eat it. Why? Because he/she has faced the horrible stench and sight of rotting food and drink(swill) for the entire day that even looking at fresh food reminds them of the horrible conditions they faced at work. This is certainly not a glamorous job.

Maybe you say that they do not have kids to support them, maybe they are just at the lower rungs of society. The hard truth is, they do have kids, but their children themselves do not even earn enough to feed and clothe their own children, much less be said about supporting their elderly parents.

The plights of the cardboard/can drinks collectors are not any blessed either. For each piece of cardboard or used drink can that they pick out from the rubbish dumps or the rubbish bins, each is worth only a few cents. Together, an entire bag is worth $5, which they lug around the whole day until their shoulders aches and backs are bent, is roughly enough for them to buy their lunch/dinner for that day.

We do not have a welfare state, nor do we hand out charity money for the homeless and the jobless. We are a society that rewards merit. However, there is a big divide between the rich and the poor. The rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. This situation warrants our attention.

We can help the next time when we are at the food courts, a simple thank you, a little more consideration keeping the table clean when eating. Little things like that helps make their jobs more rewarding, letting them feel more appreciated. I know this sounds cliche, but a little smile goes a long way.

For my beloved readers, if you have read this and I had managed to evoke feelings inside of you, please, I beseech you to leave a comment, be it ways to make their lives better or a personal pledge to do something starting from yourself. I would greatly appreciate it if you could pass the link around/be an advocate and open our fellow Singaporeans eyes to this situation. The more people that realizes this, the higher the level of awareness would be.

We are not just saving our elderly’s situation, we might also well be saving our own’s futures.

In reply I made a comment that it’s a mixed bag. Yes we can have a welfare state. But the reality of a welfare state is that the welfare system is often abused by junkies, drunks, hobos and other undesirables. Take a look at the UK, or the US. Look at Australia. The number of homeless is appalling.

Why? Because when you have people who are unmotivated, they will take anything that comes their way. And when subsistence is no longer a factor with the government dole-outs, everything that would have been meant for food or rental will be traded for a meal ticket, a night at the shelter and coke to snort.

It is a harsh reality. Yet, at the same time, the current system of CPF contributions isn’t exactly perfect either. It is essentially a mandatory savings bank, with nominal interest rates. And it undercuts self-employed citizens: your coffeeshop uncle, your newspaper auntie. And eventually it is these people who have to struggle to survive once their savings run out. And with the measly sum in the CPF, how can anyone live till 80 with that kind of money?

Hence you have the elderly coming out in droves to clear our plates, pick our trash, and perform tasks that even the Bangladeshis today balk at. And some of them are housewives, who have never worked in their lives, and nothing in their CPF. When their children have all grown up and left to set up their own families, there they are, their elderly husbands unemployed or ailing, and their children hardly contributing because, like you said, they can hardly make ends meet themselves.

What can be done? Have the government match dollar for dollar the CPF contributions put in by the employer? Maybe, but it still leaves out the self-employed and the housewives. Contribute to the CPF of the self-employed as well? It will definitely be open to abuse. I don’t think there is an easy solution.

Just today the taxi driver commented that the government doles out millions (I personally think billions is closer) in foreign aid, most of them going to the pockets of corrupt indonesian officials. He feels that the money should be used as welfare. I think that is a fine-line to tread: foreign policy vs domestic policy. You have to help your neighbours, especially inherently unstable countries like Indonesia, because if their economy collapses, the repercussions within the region would be great. Yet at the same time what does the man-on-the-street care for foreign policy? I can tell that many wouldn’t have cared less what happened to Indonesia.

Anyway this is getting WAY too long. It is an issue that cannot be concisely dealt with. What I can say is that cost of living is high, and that cost has yet to be offset by any government aid to the poor and needy. Singaporeans are paid miserably as compared to other workers in devoloped countries. Look, we’re still drawing wages of a developing nation. How do you expect the citizens to save enough to live comfortably? Baloney.

Really, in what direction is this aging society going? I find it alarming.





Delirious New York, Hilarious Singapore (Or a Diatribe on Singapore Architecture)

4 06 2006

Today in the papers there was a discussion on the architecture of the new Integrated Resort (IR) at the New Downtown. While I’m personally not a fan of Moshe Safdie’s designs, the new IR will certain anchor the urbanscape of the New Downtown. An article was written in today’s papers on how the designs of the IR did not go down well with the fengshui masters because the hotel blocks resemble ancestral tablets.

IR Design

While I am not to argue with the feugshui masters, somehow URA’s bid to ‘revitalise’ the aging Singapore skyline has largely been dictated by factors such as the tourist money and the commercial visibility that it brings. While such considerations has always been the lynchpin of Singapore’s continued economic excellence, I would have thought that greater issues should have been given equal weight. Values such as social benefits and the impact on the fabric of society, so often expounded in urban design texts, seem relegated to the end-notes in the design considerations.

IR Visualisation

Rem Koolhaas, in his seminal dissertation Delirious New York, had expounded that the designs of New York, its urban planning and architecture, had been based on an irreconcilable shameless bombast of forms and designs, one striving to outdo the other, and the resultant hodge-podge had become the hegemony of urban planning in cities around the world. Yet in comparison, Singapore seemed so contrived, so manufactured. How is it that New York, with its lack of control in its urbanscape, or at least in relation to Singapore, can attract so many visitors every year, while Singapore, with billions poured into the tourism industry (nearly everything in Singapore is related to the tourism industry), still fail to attract visitors who come here to see the sights of the city?

The Singapore selling point had been the quaint charms of historic shophouse districts and the colonial legacy amidst towering steel and glass epitaphs of modernism. Yet, we are ignoring that; continually pouring in money, creating iconic buildings one after another, like another Dubai, where the industry joke there being that as long as the building is bigger and louder than its neighbours, it is a good building. The New Downtown is in danger of becoming that.

As prominent Singapore architect Tay Kheng Soon, often known as the founding father of Singapore architecture, commented on iconic nature of the IR design being a problem, for “nobody wants a casino to be their city’s icon”, one wonders how much more iconic does the other designs need to be to outshine it. The IR stands out on sheer scale of its design.

Also, the numbers of foreign architects doing projects here (Safdie, Toyo Ito, Norman Foster, KPF, SOM…) is strangling the local industry. Are we less competent than the other design firms? Will this become another 1980s, where the presence of foreign architects then (IM Pei, Kenzo Tange) nearly killed off the local industry? But this is for another time…





Bush again

25 11 2004

A report by 250 scientists this month warned that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average, threatening to wipe out species like polar bears by 2100.

President Bush pulled out of the Kyoto protocol in 2001, saying it was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations. Kyoto seeks to cut rich nations’ carbon dioxide emissions by five percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Kyoto is meant to be a first step against global warming. U.N. projections show that Kyoto will brake rising world temperatures by only about 0.1C (0.2F), a pinprick compared to a forecast rise of 1.4-5.8C by 2100.

“The United States is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand,” said chief Gary Harrison of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, which represents thousands of people in Canada and Alaska. He urged Washington to act to stop a melt.

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I think the world would be much better off if the terrorists suceeded in their cause, don’t you think?





Somebody help this world

11 11 2004

“Bush Calls Arafat Death ‘Significant Moment'”

“Bush Administration will continue to pursue aggressive foreign policy”

Someone dies and you call it a ‘significant moment’? So when Bush dies the Arabs call it a joyous occassion? To them it probably is. But will they make it an official speech? I doubt so. Not only do we have a baffon for a world leader, we have an insensitive and ignorant ape whose world begins and ends with his belly-button.

Aggressive foreign policy? When will they declare war on Malaysia or Indonesia because they have ‘elements of terror’ embedded within them? Or maybe because they have a significant Islamic population ‘symphatic to the terrorists’ causes’? I can’t believe that someone like him could be elected to a 2nd term?!

And I can’t migrate to another planet. Help.