Friday, 24 January 2014

Singapore's Over-reliance on Anton Caseys

This morning the internet was abuzz with news that Anton Casey, the now infamous FT wealth manager has escaped Singapore with his wife and son in tow. To us at The Unseen Singapore it was good riddance as it saved the people of Singapore time and money that would have been spent trying evict him out of our Singapore. Now that he is physically gone, has the problem been solved as well?

The answer is NO! The root problem in Singapore is our over-reliance on foreign PMETs. These foreign PMETs form their own cliques, employ their own friends and carry on with life as though it was in their home country. There is simply no motivation to do as the Singaporeans do. Hence the arrogant and elitist higher than thou behaviour emerges.

The Singapore finance industry is a perfect example of this over-reliance on foreign PMETs and its cliquish orientation. People like Anton Casey are part of an elite group of Caucasian expat wealth managers that are here in Singapore to work and lead the high life. Just take a walk down Shenton way during lunch hour and you see the hordes of Caucasians in suit and ties on the streets. Is there truly a need for these experts to manage wealth in Singapore? Are Singaporeans incapable of doing this job? Why is it that after so many years of being a financial hub, Singaporeans are still unable to call the wealth manager profession their own? Why is there this persistent over-reliance on foreigners who are at most B grade talents from their own countries?

Some may debunk this fact as being isolated to the finance industry and it is not an endemic problem which exists elsewhere. To show that this over-reliance on foreigners is real and alive, just take a look at Singapore's education sector, a sector that doesn't exist for profits but for the betterment and education of young Singaporeans.

Take the National University of Singapore History department for example, it has a total number of 39 academic faculty members, out of which only 11 are Singaporeans. This is a disappointing 28% out of the entire History department. 

                                    [Singaporean academics boxed in red

If you look further, you realise that this is not isolated to the History faculty but others as well. Others like the NUS Political Science department presents an even grimmer proportion of Singaporeans. Out of the 34 faculty members only 9 are Singaporeans! This gives us an even lower Singaporean proportion of 26%. Is NUS trying to say Singapore talent is less worthy than B-grade foreign talent? If our own universities don't nurture our own kind, who will?

                                 [Singaporean academics boxed in red]

This blatant preference for foreign academics is even more frustrating when aspiring young academics are refused jobs at local universities and forced to pursue their academic research overseas. But this is hardly surprising since the faculty heads themselves are dominated by foreigners, who by nature are inclined to bring in their entire village of B-grade talents. This lust for foreigners not only denies opportunities to capable Singaporeans, it also dwindles our already minuscule Singaporean core within the local education system.

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Monday, 20 January 2014

The Unseen Singapore #19 Did You Know Series: Desmond Kuek Bak Chye

Just 3 days after the Public Transport Council announced the unpopular transportation fare hike, Singapore's ever 'reliable' MRT trains broke down again. This time, on the North-South Line, from Ang Mo Kio Station all the way to Marina Bay. Exactly what needs to be done to rectify the problem? Is it a hardware or a heartware issue? 

The Unseen Singapore believes that it is a heartware problem that can only be solved by changing the SMRT Management. After the money grubbing Saw Paik Hwa was kicked out, SMRT's management brought in LG Desmond Kuek, a full time paper general to helm the company. How does his qualifications and experience help in bringing the company forward? 

If we look at Desmond Kuek's achievements during his 15 months tenure at the company, there were no visible improvement to the reliability and the service standards of Singapore's MRT system. Instead, under his SMRT leadership, Singapore suffered 2 major breakdowns affecting thousands of Singaporeans and 8 other MRT/LRT disruptions! To make matters worse, the PTC granted SMRT their application for an increase in transport fares! What has happened to Singapore's famed meritocracy? 

If we recall, Singapore's meritocracy rewards those who perform and in this blatant example of gross incompetence, how can the government reward SMRT with higher fares which in turn boost their profit revenue further? SMRT needs to make immediate rectification and get rid of paper general Desmond Kuek and bring in someone with the relevant rail experience to revive Singapore's ailing system. 

Looking at his track record, this is not the first time Desmond Kuek being caught out of his depth. In July 2010, after leaving the SAF, Desmond Kuek was appointed Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resource. However, Desmond Kuek only lasted for 3 months as Permanent Secretary and quietly left the service soon after.  

SMRT should take cue from the Singapore Government and get rid of this dead weight at once. The quicker he goes, the faster we get our MRT back on track! 

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Unseen Singapore #18 Hard Truths Series: Singapore's Infrastructure Woes

Ever wonder why Singapore in recent years seem to suffer from an avalanche of infrastructure problems? From the unstoppable floods at Orchard road to the incessant train breakdowns and more recently, the massive jam at the newly opened MCE (Marina Coastal Expressway), it made us wonder why despite the amount of resources and talent Singapore has, Singapore seemed to be screwing up over and over again when it comes to our physical infrastructure. 

We at The Unseen Singapore found the real reason behind Singapore's infrastructural woes. Being a nation that believes in nurturing our best and brightest talent, Singapore sends these brainy and all-rounded individuals overseas to pursue their tertiary education. Unfortunately, by looking at the breakdown of what our PSC scholars study, there is a disproportionate number of individuals pursuing degrees in Economics, Politics and the Humanities. 

From 2009 -2012, we had 288 PSC scholars, out of whom 119 or 41.3% of them studied Economics, Politics and Humanities. We understand that Singapore's knowledge-based economy is important but is PSC's focus on such generalist courses of study really beneficial to our country? Or is this policy rearing it ugly head now?  

In Singapore's unwavering pursuit of economic growth and political stability, has PSC neglected Singapore's engineering and ultimately infrastructural needs? Within the same time period, only 24 (8.3%) PSC scholars read Engineering and this is inclusive of non-structural engineering like computer science and electrical engineering. 

With such a small number of engineering-trained PSC scholars in Singapore's civil service, isn't Singapore's physical infrastructure under severe mismanagement? How can someone trained in Economics, Politics and the Humanities fully grasp the subtleties of engineering work and do a good job at managing Singapore's physical infrastructure? 

Judging by the numerous flooding, breakdowns and traffic jams, it is clear that Singapore is in dire need of Engineering scholars and PSC should do the right thing and put a stop to this rotten policy.   

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Monday, 6 January 2014

Singapore's Edward Snowden: Mohamed Jufrie Bin Mahmood Opens Up On His Harrowing Experience

After our latest article where The Unseen Singapore likened Mr Mohamed Jufrie Bin Mahmood to be Singapore's version of Edward Snowden, the article was extremely well received by our online readers and readership has shot through the roof!

It was also a pleasant surprise when our friends at The Real Singapore informed us that Mohamed Jufrie had come out to give further clarity on what transpired. Unfortunately, Mr Jufrie may have misunderstood our intentions. Perhaps he thought we were painting him as an Opposition mole as he took a harsh tone against our writing and argued for his innocence. Jangan sensitive uncle!

On the contrary, Mr Jufrie's past actions showcased his valiant struggle for democracy and firm defiance against the lack of free speech in Singapore, both qualities befitting of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and himself.

Also, since Mr Jufrie himself said that his previous employment with ISD was well-known within the opposition circles, he should have confidence that his friends would not see him with a different light. Evermore so when he is a seasoned opposition warhorse who after being removed from ISD/CID joined JBJ's Workers' Party and ran for three elections (1984, 1988, 1991) before eventually switching his allegiance to SDP in 1997.

Having clarified our position, it was heartening when Mr Jufrie mentioned that "many friends and party comrades were surprised to learn ... that he had at one time worked in ISD". It truly validated the existence of The Unseen Singapore where we bring out such little known facts into the public spotlight. Despite this little success, we at The Unseen Singapore will continue to unearth such little gems and we look forward to the continuous support from all Singaporeans.

Moving on to Mr Jufrie's revelations, we were genuinely appalled at the treatment he endured and we urge him to sue the Singapore government for this outrage. Mr Jufrie must have his reasons for taking a long 34 years before coming out into the open on these outrageous series of events but justice delayed is justice denied.

If Jufrie argued that he was wrongly jailed for speaking up against the government, coerced to lie under oath in court and was physically abused during his detention, then Jufrie should hire prominent human rights lawyer like M Ravi or Choo Zheng Xi to represent him and fight against his wrongful arrest and punishment.

Given M Ravi and Choo Zheng Xi's track record (SMRT bus drivers & Little India rioters) in taking up cases involving police brutality, they are best positioned to help Mohamed Jufrie in this legal endeavour.

There are however a few issues which may work against Mr Mohamed Jufrie if he were to sue the Singapore Government. Once these issues are comprehensively explained, Mr Mohamed Jufrie will have a rock solid case at undoing the injustice done to him 34 years ago.

In his FB post, Mr Jufrie admitted to phishing for information (detainee whereabouts) from his ISD colleagues after being approached by the relatives of ISD detainees. Depending on how the learned judge interprets or twists this, it could be easily perceived as spying and that could be problematic.

Next, Mr Mohamed Jufrie also mentioned that ISD found translated documents which he was not supposed to have under lock and key at his CID office. We are not certain of the exact terms and conditions of the Official Secrets Act, but having unauthorised documents under one's possession could be an another technicality used by the prosecutor to do him in. Perhaps Mr Jufrie should reveal the nature and ownership (CID or ISD) of these documents and debunk these baseless accusations of unauthorised document ownership against him.

The Unseen Singapore wishes Mr Jufrie good health and a better showing in the coming general elections. Hopefully, Mr Jufrie will finally get the justice that he so deserves!      

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