• A Singapore military personnel takes photograph of a couple sitting in a light strike vehicle displayed along Orchard Road walkway which is part part of a show to commemorate 40 years of National Service in Singapore, 12 April 2007. (AFP photo)A Singapore military personnel takes photograph of a couple sitting in a light strike vehicle displayed along Orchard Road walkway which is part part of a show to commemorate 40 years of National Service in Singapore, 12 April 2007. (AFP photo)

    In "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society. To be taken with a pinch of salt and parental permission is advised. In this post, he talks about the ill-conceived idea of a National Service tax.

    Bishan GRC PAP MP Hri Kumar Nair has proposed that all permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners pay a National Service tax as part of their nation-building duties.

    My first impression of such a move is that it's a bad idea. Dwelling on it some more -- for about five minutes -- convinces me that it's an even worse idea.

    Here's why.

    1. Cost of 'unresolved tensions'

    First and foremost, there are some things in life that you simply cannot put a price on. For example, unresolved sexual frustration.

    Boys in NS typically feel their virginity getting stronger and stronger with each passing day. For two years.

    That is because nothing puts a girl off more than an NS boy with a bad crew cut and uneven tan. And who looks really desperate.

    What is the cost

    Read More »from Why you cannot put a price on National Service
  • By Getty Goh

    The government announced the latest round of property cooling measures in Jan 2013. Since then, even more Singaporean investors have started looking to buy a property across the causeway in Iskandar, Johor.

    As I run a real estate research consultancy, I frequently speak to investors and have come across some who willingly spend more the RM1million for apartments with the intention of getting rental yield as well as capital gains. Unfortunately, due to the lack of information, some of these investors may have entered the Iskandar property market, assuming it behaves somewhat similar to the Singapore property market.

    To help our investors, we have been on a lookout for reliable sources of information that can give potential buyers an idea of how the Iskandar property market is really like. On 4 Feb 2013, iProperty.com released its latest consumer sentiments survey for 2013.

    After reading the report, my team and I found many useful nuggets of information that buyers of

    Read More »from Understanding the Iskandar property market using the iProperty Consumer Sentiment Survey 2013
  • Through my work of empowering students to make the most of their education, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with thousands of students.

    I’ve observed that most students are unmotivated, stressed out and unhappy.

    They drag themselves to school. They think school is boring. They question the relevance of school. They’re constantly sleep-deprived. They can’t wait for the next school holiday.

    Clearly, there’s something wrong with this picture.

    Here’s what school ought to be like:

    • Interesting
    • Engaging
    • Useful
    • Meaningful
    • Fun
    • Purposeful
    • Challenging

    Does that sound too good to be true?

    Yes, especially if the education system remains the way that it is today.

    Great work, teachers

    Don’t get me wrong; I greatly admire the work that teachers do. I think that teachers are some of the most hardworking and dedicated people around!

    But there’s only so much that teachers can do within the current framework.

    Tweaking education policies isn’t going to cut it. We need to rework the system from the

    Read More »from Are schools robbing students of their childhood?
  • Oppa Cai Shen Dao! (Screengrab)Oppa Cai Shen Dao! (Screengrab)

    Just when you'd had enough of "Gangnam Style" and all its parodies, here comes a wickedly creative twist to the massive Psy hit in time for Chinese New Year.

    Enter "Oppa Cai Shen Dao", a collaboration between Malaysian flash animator Jess the Dragoon and her brother Josh Tamugaia.

    In this version of "Gangnam Style", a broke man begs the Cai Shen (Chinese God of Wealth) for money in the new year. The lyrics are in East Malaysian Hokkien but familiar enough for those who know the dialect, and English subtitles are included as well.

    Uploaded last Friday, the two-minute video has been viewed close to 3,000 times as of Sunday morning but what is refreshingly unique is its inventive, Oriental-themed animation, complete with hilarious Hokkien lyrics and zithar-backed soundtrack.

    The God of Wealth looks like Psy, with his signature round glasses but with a beard and a Cai Shen get-up. And instead of doing the "horse dance" in a park, Cai Shen does his dance at a Chinese, complete with lion

    Read More »from Creative new twist to ‘Gangnam Style’ in time for Chinese New Year
  • COMMENT

    On 1 February, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted the following on his Facebook page:

    “Fully agree with Khaw Boon Wan's explanation that a 6.9m population is not a target, but just a worst case, aggressive scenario that we must prepare for. We need to plan consciously and responsibly for the future, so Singaporeans continue to enjoy a good quality of life, and Singapore continues to thrive. – LHL”

    It so happened I was online at the same time the PM was posting that remark, and I responded almost immediately, my comment being the first one in response to his. This was what I wrote:

    “In 1991, the Concept Plan's "planning scenario" was 4 million people. In the 2011 Concept Plan's "planning scenario", it was 5.5 million. Now, this 2013 White Paper has a "planning scenario" or "worst-case scenario" of 6.9 million. After having reached the first two "planning scenario" figures, you can understand why S'poreans see this "6.9 million" as a target, and not just as a "planning

    Read More »from 'PAP must get the small things right first'
  • Why I oppose the White Paper: Nicole Seah

    The PAP has presented a White Paper that looks too perfect to be true, said Nicole Seah. (AFP file photo)The PAP has presented a White Paper that looks too perfect to be true, said Nicole Seah. (AFP file photo)

    BY NICOLE SEAH

    COMMENT

    Along with many other Singaporeans, I oppose the White Paper.

    I oppose the White Paper as a young Singaporean, who has no intention of giving up my citizenship or moving on to greener pastures because I want to stay and fix what is wrong with our country, so that we can be proud to pass on a better, more sustainable Singapore to future generations.

    A Singapore that people can feel secure enough to call home, and feel confident to raise their children in.

    Where the past, present and future can complement each other, rather than being a burden to economic progress.

    A society that lives in harmony, rather than tense and overcrowded conditions.

    Not the Singapore Inc. that has been aggressively forced down our throats the past few years – a Singapore which is in danger of becoming a transient state where people from all over, come, make their fortunes, and leave. A Singapore that has become a playground for the rich and the people who can afford it. A Singapore where

    Read More »from Why I oppose the White Paper: Nicole Seah
  • Sam the cat is concerned about his new found Internet fame.

    He's concerned about everything, in fact, because he has two black markings above his eyes that resemble human eyebrows angled upward in an expression of constant worry.

    It's okay, Sam, the world loves you. This cat has gathered thousands of followers on Instagram since his owner began posting pictures of him showing off his unusual look. He's been featured on the Today Show and on People magazine's website among other media outlets.

    [ Related: Fletcher the cat discovers snowflakes for the first time ]

    Sam finds his sudden rise to fame just as perplexing as you do.

    He even has his own website with a shop that sells posters, greeting cards and t-shirts. The site says a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Empty Cages Collective, a Brooklyn, New York animal rescue organization.

    Sam himself was rescued by the owner who sparked his online fame. According to the website, one day the cat turned up outside the house that has

    Read More »from Sam the cat appears to have eyebrows, becomes an Internet sensation
  • Pre-school children tour the Garden by the Bay during an excursion in Singapore on July 25, 2012. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)Pre-school children tour the Garden by the Bay during an excursion in Singapore on July 25, 2012. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

    In "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society. To be taken with a pinch of salt and parental permission is advised. In this post, he talks about Singaporeans' reluctance to have more children.

    As our representatives are in parliament this week thrashing things out about where to take Singapore's population in the near future, the real reasons why young Singaporeans are reluctant to have children has largely been overlooked and under articulated.

    Policymakers and talking heads on TV have been having their say. Until now.

    So here goes.

    Stifling education

    One very good reason why young Singaporean adults are shunning passing on their DNA is because they don't subscribe to torture: they don't want to bring something into this world so that they can undergo the Singapore system of education.

    Imagine telling your flesh-and-blood that his or her worth is dependent on his or her PSLE and 'O' Levels grades.

    Not only that, you have to put him or

    Read More »from Why Singaporeans don’t want kids
  • Chinese New Year foods (Getty Images Photo)Chinese New Year foods (Getty Images Photo)

    In the times of our ancestors, and even as recently as my parent's generation, the Lunar New Year held great significance not just in terms of family bonding, and catching up with friends and loved ones, but also in the kinds of food that were eaten.

    I recall stories by people in my parent's generation where they told me that they rarely had money for drinks like Fanta orange or Coke except at New Years. Their daily meals were very basic, mostly some rice and salted fish or bean sprouts.

    For them the variety of goodies that were served at Chinese New Year were a once in a year, major attraction.

    However, fast forward to today, and the variety of foods available in a food court alone is vast.

    Add to all this....

    • Aggressive advertising by food companies, (after all, they want to grow profits, and there is a limited amount of people, so that means we need to be encouraged to eat more).
    • The lack of other things to do in Singapore (sad but kind of true)
    • Sugary food being a good
    Read More »from Lunar New Year minefield: Top 5 fattening foods
  • Gout can occur as early as during one’s teenage years (Thinkstock photo)Gout can occur as early as during one’s teenage years (Thinkstock photo)

    Are you prone to feasting during the holiday season? If you are, watch out for gout.

    “Every Chinese New Year, there seems to be an increase in gout attacks,” observes Dr Tan York Kiat, Consultant, Rheumatology and Immunology Department, Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

    An acute form of arthritis, gout is known as the “rich man’s disease” because of its association with an overindulgence in rich food and alcohol. It causes severe pain and swelling in the joints. It most commonly affects the big toe, but may also affect the, ankle, hand, wrist, or elbow.

    Men are more at risk of gout than women. However, after menopause, women’s risk increases.

    Related article: What puts you at risk for gout?

    A common disease

    About 4.1 per cent of people suffer from gout, according to the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which was carried in 52,322 participants (mean age of 62 years old). The mean age at diagnosis was 55 years.

    The disease manifested at a mean age 44 years, and as early as age 16 years,

    Read More »from Increase in painful gout attacks during Chinese New Year

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