Making small provisions to enable people to upskill through bite-sized training courses will not be enough to cope with a world in which lifelong continuous learning and career switching has become necessary — I argued this in my previous post Spreading a bit of money to “position Singapore for the future”. But in the interest of length, I left untouched an even bigger question: What if, for all the retraining, adjustments and preparations we make, there simply isn’t enough work to be had? It’s a question that’s not only for Singapore.
Continue reading ‘There was once a buffalo here’
Singapore was mentioned favourably in a recent Economist magazine leader.
But the biggest change is to make adult learning routinely accessible to all. One way is for citizens to receive vouchers that they can use to pay for training. Singapore has such “individual learning accounts”; it has given money to everyone over 25 to spend on courses from 500 approved providers. So far each citizen has only a few hundred dollars, but it is early days.
— The Economist, 14 Jan 2017, Learning and earning: Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change
We will probably hear more about this in the coming weeks. The Committee on the Future Economy is supposed to have completed its work by the end of 2016, and anytime now, its report should be released. This committee was tasked to “keep the Singapore economy competitive by helping to position Singapore for the future, as well as identify areas of growth with regard to regional and global developments.” Continue reading ‘Spreading a bit of money to “position Singapore for the future”’
A Certis Cisco auxiliary policeman and two neighbourhood vigilantes shooing away foreign workers
The news this week is that Certis Cisco — a fully-owned subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings — is hiring Taiwanese for its auxiliary police force. Here are four thoughts that I had, leading on from this key news point. They are: (1) What are the implications of hiring Taiwanese? (2) Why must they be graduates? (3) What are the powers of auxiliary police? (4) Another example of rentier economy? Continue reading ‘Auxiliary thoughts about auxiliary police’
Pic from BoredPanda/EFE
2016 will be remembered as one of those break-point years when an old order started falling apart. The worrying thing is that there is no sign that any better new order will be born.
Still, 2016 had its uses. The series of victories by what had been unlikely personalities and movements — Rodrigo Duterte winning the Filipino presidency, Brexit, and of course, the Donald Trump victory, have been cathartic. Some good commentary in various media have followed as a result, full of soul-searching and self-criticism. Continue reading ‘Rebuilding from the rubble of 2016 voter-quakes’
‘Cover up!’ screamed the immediate reaction I noticed on social media. The Health ministry had just announced that they have found 41 cases of Zika infection, barely 24 hours after they said that there was one confirmed case (on Saturday 27 August 2016). How can the number jump so fast without them knowing about these other cases earlier — was the implication behind the shouting headlines. They must be hiding facts from the public! Continue reading ‘Zika erupts in Singapore: how we made it worse than it might otherwise have been’
At my request, the teller brought the branch manager to see me. I began: “I have no intention to take ‘no’ for an answer.” Then I explained what I was here at the bank for. On behalf of the charity organisation I volunteer at, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), I needed a letter from the bank confirming our bank account number and account name. Continue reading ‘Big bank, big government, but the similarity ends there’
This photo was taken on 22 March 2016. I didn’t know it then but it was when two families lost their beloved sons. A train ran into two trainee technicians as they were on a track. It must have been a moment of unfathomable grief. The enquiry that followed concluded that it was mostly human error. Specifically, negligence in observing safety rules on the part of the seniors in the work crew was the chief cause of the tragedy. See a brief statement from SMRT here. Continue reading ‘Hushed tracks’
The Initiatives landing page of its website has a picture of a man with outstretched arms, forming a figure not dissimilar from a crucifix. The pose resembles Christ the Redeemer, the icon of Rio de Janeiro.
Screengrab of the Initiatives page of Honour Singapore’s website, 1 April 2016
Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro
The non-profit company called Honour Singapore was in the news in August 2014 when questions were asked whether it was yet another religious group in wolf’s clothing, you know, like Focus on the Family Singapore, which claims it is a secular organisation with no “Christian” agenda. Certainly, Honour Singapore’s very name contains a dogwhistle word (“honour”) beloved by devotees and modern crusaders of conservative evangelical Christianity — which, by the way, I consider a misnomer. I prefer to call this religion American Pseudo-Christianity, for a simple reason: there’s nothing very Christian about its belief system, worldview, and desire for power. Continue reading ‘Cup of honour runneth over’
Perhaps in other places there might have been headlines screaming ‘deflation’, but here in Singapore, it was just a passing mention in a story about mean incomes, and made to sound like an unequivocally good thing.
Median income, including employer Central Provident Fund contributions, for Singaporeans working full-time grew 6.5 per cent from June 2014 to June last year to reach $3,798. The growth was 7 per cent after adjusting for negative inflation of 0.5 per cent.
— Straits Times, 29 January 2016, Job growth hits 17-year low, but real wages up 7%
See how it slipped in there? ‘Negative inflation’. In other words, deflation. Continue reading ‘Singapore joins deflation club’
There were two noteworthy nuggets of information in Straits Times’ front page story about employment numbers in 2015 (Friday, 29 January 2016). This essay will discuss the nugget from this statement: “Just 100 more citizens and permanent residents were in jobs at the end of last year compared with the year before, although unemployment remained low, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.” My main aim in this essay is to examine the unquestioned assumptions that too often skew our appreciation of the facts.
Continue reading ‘Bad news: wages up, unemployment low’