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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


Notes on the news

Weighing the WP’s worth

In Parliament, we have the Workers’ Party worrying about the independence of the judiciary, which it argues might be compromised if the Constitution is amended to have retired judges back to serve short stints. The WP wanted secure tenure for judges who should have a higher retirement age than 65.

In Aljunied-Hougang housing estate, the WP town council is chalking up arrears in service and conservancy charges. Seems three households in 10 haven’t paid their S&C fees for at least three months by end-April last year. It stopped submitting monthly reports from the next month on despite reminders. I wonder what has happened since then? Have they collected everything that’s owed or are households owing even more and how much is that in dollar terms? You wonder how the WP manages to fund the needs of the estate like this. Or (gasp!) have the rest of the HDB households outside the WP areas actually been paying too much in S&C fees??

Anyway, I thought today’s news reports on WP highlight the role of MPs very well – as a check on the G and as estate administrators. Put to the vote, the amendment got through of course. The WP made an interesting point about judges but I wish it had done more homework by suggesting where to get/find more judges. If more were available, there would be no need for Judicial Commissioners, a sort of temporary judge, introduced in 1979. Lawyers in private sector prefer short term stints at the Bench, but not many want to do it for a lifetime.

I wonder what is more important to the Aljunied/Hougang voter : the need for a contrarian voice in Parliament or a well-run housing estate.

A case of interest

So a review committee wants a 4 per cent cap on what licensed money lenders can charge in interest. And the licensed money lenders are very unhappy. They charge at least 20 per cent. Now, either their current rates are too exorbitant or the new cap is way too low. You wonder then about the people on the review committee. Some moneylenders sit on it too and they would surely have raised whatever objections then. Actually, while a low interest payment makes it easy for debtors, doesn’t it also encourage more people to take out more loans? Or is the position to make it attractive for debtors to go to licensed moneylenders than the loan shark, never mind if the licensed money lender can’t make as much money as before and might exit the business altogether?

Cabby, cabby, quite contrary, how does your wallet fare?

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Plenty of cabby stories today, including an ST report that a simpler fare structure is going to be announced soon. Excellent! The report said that there are now close to 10 different flag-down fares, from $3.20 to $5, three different metered fare structures and more than 10 different types of surcharges. Seems ST got word that the new flag down rate that will apply to all taxis is going to be $3.80 and distance- and time-based interval jumps of 30 cents, rather than the 22,30 and 33 cents today. I’m sure passengers will welcome this, although what the taxi companies will say about such interference in the business operations is another matter. They must be doing okay, since there’s also news that Trans-Cab is going to be listed on the stock exchange.

And they must be pleased too that the Land Transport Authority is looking to regulate the likes of Easy Taxi and GrabTaxi, apps which are taking away their call bookings. The G is thinking of regulation that will protect the passenger, like methods of redress should disputes arise. Cabbies like the apps because their takings go up, although transport experts warn that the apps have not yet been monetised and money is likely to be clawed back from the drivers. Another worry is that over-regulation will kill innovation.

No need to be so jolly

So Christmas came early for manufacturers, crowed the ST on Page 1 today. Well and good! Then comes several paragraphs on how October Purchasing Managers’ Index is up, and at the highest level since April 2011. There was an “uptick’’ in orders from the US. You have to get through eight paragraphs before a note of caution is sounded that it might just be a seasonal thing with Christmas round the corner. I seriously wish ST would stop taking a rah-rah tone and provide a fuller picture quickly for those with short attention spans. Whatever happened to what is known as the double-barrelled intro?

BT has this:  SINGAPORE’S factories were busier than expected in October, with the latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rising 1.4 points to 51.9 – a level not seen since April 2011. But economists are downplaying the uptick, chalking up the expansion to year-end seasonal effects, and warning that a patchy global recovery will continue to weigh on manufacturing performance.

Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow

I did a double take when I read that the three-month delay in the completion of the National Stadium meant that the grass did not have time to grow. Seems that the grass had an extra three months to grow! Or do you build the concrete stuff first and then lay the grass? Does it then mean we should have delayed the OPENING of the stadium then? If the Sports Hub people “misjudged’’ the impact of that the events calendar will have on the pitch, then you wonder if what sort of “green’’ expert it has on board. Or whether the targets that it has to fulfill (or does it set them itself?) in terms of events and revenue led to the packed calendar.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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