Sunday, November 20, 2011

North East Run 2011 Pasir Ris - Punggol on 20.11.2011

This North East Run which was organised by North East Community Development Council was scheduled this morning at Pasir Ris Park and we had registered for the 14km event. Winnie was supposed to run, however she did not feel confident enough as she has not been training regularly. With her not running, I will be pacing Dora and CK who will be running the year end Stanchart half marathon.

On last Friday, I had a 28.5km run with Chua and I know better not to push too much but pacing Dora should suffice. In fact, we had a bet. If she runs under 1 hr 30 mins, she wins and beyond, I win. The stake - lunch. Based on her current performance, I am confident that she can clock under 1 hr 25 mins and I am likely (glad too) to lose this lunch bet to her.

This morning, I picked her up at Ang Mo Kio station at 6.15am where she took the first train from her house at Admiralty. We then headed to Pasir Ris to pick up CK who was already waiting at the kiosk near his home. We arrived at Pasir Ris park well before 7am. To my surprise, traffic was not heavy and there were ample parking lots nearby too. At that instance, my gut feel told me not many runners were expected for this event. The men's event was to flag-off at 7am and we advised CK to run with the men while I will pace Dora in the women's event which was to be flagged off at 7.15am. While waiting, I met Alan Cheong who was competing in the men's 14km run. We had a quick exchange and wished each other well before he moved further ahead. At a glance, there were probably lesser than one hundred runners in the women's category. DPM Teo Chee Hien was the guest-of-honour who flagged off both the men's and women's runners.

At 7.20am, we were finally flagged off. It was a cool morning but rain in the early morning made the ground muddy and shoggy. The route around the Pasir Ris park is about 7 km and we had to make 2 loops around the park. As there were not many runners, the run was quite a breeze. We were passing many women runners in front and at some point, some of the men too. Dora was running her normal pace but I can hear her heavy breathing. Typical of her, she did not want any water in the first station. We were running some 2 km by then. Some parts were undulating and we had to avoid pool of water along the route. Otherwise, the route was mostly even and hard.

About 7km into the run, another batch of 7km non-competitive runners were flagged off at about 8am. We ran into them and had to manoveur around the runners in order to push ahead. I can sense Dora's frustation whose run momentum was disrupted trying to pace in front of them. At some point, we had to run on wet grass patch. We managed to move ahead of many of these non-competitve runners. The weather was getting a little warmer by then. Dora kept looking at her watch. When we ran past the 10km mark, she looked at her watch and said, "shit or alamak I am not sure, 59 secs." I knew she meant it was just under 1 hour and that we had 4 km to go and wondered whether we could touch home under 1 hour 25 mins. With 4km left and we just clocked under 1 hour at 10km mark, barring any unforseeable we should be able to achieve our target. I just told her to ignore her watch and concentrate in the run. Her pace was steady in the first 10km but slowed somewhat in the last 4km. In the last 2km, I moved ahead for her to tag on me. I kept looking back to make sure she was within sight. When we reached the 1ast 100 metres, I rooted her to make a final dash. She did despite the agony she was in and we touched home together. There was no timing shown but by our reckoning, we had come under 1 hour 25 mins and I have lost the bet. CK was already waiting for us at the finishing and his timing was not that far from us either. Both CK and Dora are ready for the year end marathon after this trial run. I had a great run with CK and Dora this morning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Malaysians Getting Ripped Off

To an average worker, is life better off in Singapore or Malaysia? Hear this from one Malaysian.

By Mimi Chih

When Tunku Abdul Rahman decided to expel Singapore from the Federation of Malaya leading to the Independence of Singapore on August 9, 1965, the world did not expect this tiny island Republic with a population of 1.8 million then to stand tall as one of the original Four Asian Tigers, along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan 46 years later. Well, this Lion City has certainly ventured forth roaring all the way with a lion heart.

How does one measure the success of a country? To the people, it is reflected in their overall standard of living. Not every country is lucky enough to have a team of intelligent people whose passionate objectives drive them to make their country a better place to live – for everyone. Singapore is one such country. Today this island republic has one of the highest standard of living in South East Asia.

Which Malaysian could imagine that some 46 years after the split, Singapore’s exchange rate to the ringgit would hit a dizzying rate of RM2.41 (Nov 11, 2011)? August 1972 was the last time that the SGD (Singapore Dollar) was almost on par with the (RM) ringgit at SGD100:RM100.10. For an average wage earner in the Lion City making SGD2500 a month, going for a 10 days holiday to the US or Australia or Europe once a year is a relatively small matter.

What happened to Malaysia? In 1965 when Singapore was expelled, Malaysia had everything that the island republic glaringly lacked – ample land, a plethora of natural resources, an operating government, and 9.3 million people.

Unfortunately, in the 46 years that has come to past, Malaysia has been bogged down by a number of issues which are clearly distracting the government from doing what it is supposed to be doing.

The ruling government (UMNO) in Malaysia is debating whether education in English would be significantly beneficial to the rakyat, the opposition PAS’ vehement stance in wanting to forcibly implement the hudud laws and banning Elton John from performing in Malaysia because of his sexual orientation, and the Obedient Wives Club’s proposition that Muslim women should be obedient and strive to approach sex with their hubbies not just on a physical level but on the higher spiritual realm.

There are also questions posed to DAP’s national chairman Karpal Singh by MCA’s leader Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek whether a non-Muslim should first convert to Islam if they wanted to be deputy prime minister should Pakatan become the ruling government. These are just a handful of endless annoying issues which UMNO has had to deal with on a daily basis.

In 2011 Singapore’s population stands at 5.18 million (63% are Singaporean citizens while 37% are permanent residents). Malaysia’s population as at July 2011 is 28.73 million. Without getting into advanced mathematical calculations, one would deduce that economies of scale would be more achievable in the country that has 28.73 million people versus 5.18 million. This is not the case.

The cost of living is relative to the ability to earn. Lets establish the value of currency in terms of the wage rate (Malaysia does not have a Minimum Wage rate yet). In Singapore the average general worker such as a merchandiser in a supermarket /department store or the cashier serving you at Mc Donald’s earns SGD5.50 – 6.00 per hour. In Malaysia similar positions start at RM4 – 6 per hour.

But take a look at how much things cost in Malaysia. A kopi si peng costs SGD0.90 to SGD1.20 in clean kopi shops/food courts in Singapore while it costs RM1.80 to RM2.00 in Malaysia. A Chinese roasted duck costs SGD18-25 each . In Malaysia, at the market rate of RM48 per bird, eating roasted duck is a luxury.

As my niece, a 2 year Sunway College graduate with an Accounting degree and ACCA cert is fond of saying, “A person earning peanuts (SGD peanuts, OK) in Singapore can still afford to buy Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter imported from the US. A Malaysian earning peanuts in Malaysia can’t even afford to smell any peanut butter.” She adds, “SGD10 in Singapore goes a lot further than RM10 in Malaysia!”

Needless to say, Malaysia has already lost her to the Lion City – talk about brain drain. More than 13 young Accounting graduates from her circle of friends have eagerly taken the same path.

How is it that the cost of so many basic foods and day to day consumable items end up being so much more expensive in Malaysia? Malaysian politicians need to start talking in a meaningful language to the people. For a start, they can talk in terms of bringing down the cost of foods and consumables in Malaysia while striving for a decent standard. The rakyat will surely want to listen to the party that can talk sense about making their RM10 go further than at its current limpy and lethargic rate. It would be nice for average income earning Malaysians to be able to afford US made Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter.

Forget the hudud laws for now. Being obedient wives is interesting…. but it’s not an urgent matter. Lets not fret on this issue. Why must a capable non-muslim candidate convert to Muslim to be the Deputy Prime Minister? Would converting to Muslim make the candidate a better Deputy Prime Minister? Finally, do let Elton John dazzle the Malaysians for just one nite – he is not a terrorist. He is truly an accomplished, world class musician and entertainer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Malaysia is not a member of the Asia Tigers Club of Singapore, Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taipei

Personal note: Why are we, Singapore constantly praised by foreigners while our very own people continue to discredit the good works of our government? Read this article by one opposition member in Malaysia.

By Dr Chen Man Hin, DAP life advisor

Can PM transform Malaysia to become a high income nation in 2016. When he cannot improve the economy to join the Asia tigers club of Singapore, Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taipei?

When became PM in 2009, Najib announced his proposals to transform the economy with his Economic Transformation Program (ETP) by injection of tens of billion ringgits promised largely by government related companies. His predecessor Tun Mahathir also injected billions but the economy scarcely moved and the FDIs did not come in.

But money is not the primary mover of the economy. More importantly it is manpower.

Since 1970, the NEP has been a negative factor to drive the economy. With the NEP the GDP of Malaysia began to fall far behind those of Singapore, Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taiwan. Even now, the NEP has been a major factor in chasing away hundreds of thousands of our skilled manpower overseas, and this has affected the economy. While the four tigers leaped ahead to high income economies, while Malaysia stagnated.

Even today, the NEP continues to disappoint the young men and women who continue to emigrate overseas to seek better opportunities. Statistics show a million of young Malaysians are now overseas, with half of them in Singapore. Largely because of their skills, the Singapore economy has rocketed upwards, and its per capita income is now the highest in Asia.

Because of the NEP, our youths are not properly educated. Science and Maths are the foundation stones to train our youths in schools and universities to be engineers, scientists and research workers to propel our society into the IT era. Proficiency in English is the key to Science and Maths. And yet the ministry is not keen to keep PPSMI policy to teach our students to be conversant with English.

It is the basic thing to do, to use English to teach science and maths in schools and universities, so that the country can be an IT economy, which translates to a high income economy.

The World Bank has produced a paper criticising the NEP as the cause for the deterioration of academic standards of Malaysian universities. It is a sad thing to report that world renowned ranking organisations have not ranked our universities as world class like National University of Singapore and Hong Kong University. As a matter of fact, not one university in Malaysia is ranked as world class.

So much for PM Najib boast that our country will be 1 Malaysia.