Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How much money are Singaporeans gambling away at the casinos?

According to CNBC (see below), the gross gaming revenue of the two Singapore casinos is US$5.1 billion in 2010. Projected 2011 gaming revenue range from $6.4 billion (25% rise from 2010) to an astounding $8.1 billion (60% rise from 2010).

[Resorts World Sentosa casino opened on Feb 14, 2010. Marina Bay Sands casino opened on April 27, 2010. Therefore the 2010 gaming revenue was collected in 10.5 months.]

Locals account for 60% of the gamblers. Assuming that they also account for 60% of the money lost to the casinos, then locals gambled away US$3.06 billion (=5.1bn x 60%) in 2010.

There are 2,802,269 adult residents (citizens and PR) aged 21 or older (2010 Census).

Thus, on average, each adult resident gambled away US$1090 (S$1500, at 2010 conversion rate) at the casinos in 2010.

There were 26 million visitors to the casinos in 10.5 months in 2010. (Equivalently, 81,000 visitors every day; or 56 visitors every minute, day and night.) About 60%, or 15.6 million, are locals. So, on average, each adult resident made 5.6 casino visits.

In summary, on average, each local made 5.6 casino visits and lost S$1500  in 2010.

Of course, only a fraction of Singapore residents actually gambled at the casinos. Therefore an average local gambler lost much more than $1500 at the casinos.


[ps. A 2008 Survey on Gambling Participation Among Singapore Residents (conducted by the government, here) shows that 54% of Singapore residents aged 18 and above gambled.

Let's assume that besides these 54%, another 11% of adult residents also gambled at the casinos, out of curiosity, in 2010. Therefore 65% (nearly 2 in 3) of adult Singapore residents (1,821,500) accounted for the casino visits and gaming revenues stated earlier.

Thus, each local gambler, on average, made 8.6 casino visits, and lost US$1680 (S$2350, or $225 a month, for 10.5 months) in 2010.]


[pps. Further data (here) suggest that only 26% (and not 65%, as I guessed above) of the 2.8 million adult local residents gambled at the casinos.

Consequently, on average, each local gambler made 21.7 casino visits and lost US$4250 (S$6000, or S$570 a month, for 10.5 months) in 2010.]


The answer to the related question of how much Singapore gamblers lose annually to Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club, i.e. to the government, is not made public (see here).

Singapore On Track to Overtake Vegas as Second-Largest Gaming Center

CNBC, May 7, 2011 (source)


Twelve months into business and Singapore’s first two casino resorts Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa have already won the jackpot for the island country. The two generated gross gaming revenue of $5.1 billion dollars in 2010.

This year Royal Bank of Scotland forecasts revenue is set to rise by 25 percent to $6.4 billion, placing Singapore on track to overtake the Las Vegas Strip, which is forecast to earn $6.2 billion. That would make the island nation, the world's second biggest gaming center behind Macau.

Analysts say the voracious appetite for gambling among Asians and their growing wealth will drive momentum in Singapore's casino sector for years to come. This is a stark contrast from the Strip, which has seen a slump in revenues for four consecutive months.

The 2,561-room luxury hotel Marina Bay Sands, which has a 200-meter-tall, boat-shaped SkyPark and a lavish casino equipped with 500 gaming tables, attracted more than 11 million visitors over the past year — 885,000 guests walked through its doors over just four days of the Chinese New Year holiday in February.

Marina Bay Sands reported net revenue of $560 million in the three months to December, $457 million (82%) of this amount was generated by the casino alone. “Our recent financial results show that Marina Bay Sands is on track on all fronts, even surpassing our original expectations,” commented Mr. Leven, President and COO of parent company Las Vegas Sands.

The success of the casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson’s Singapore venture has helped put Las Vegas Sands back on track after a bankruptcy scare three years ago.

Its rival, Resorts World Sentosa, has seen measurable success welcoming 15 million visitors last year. The family focused casino-resort generated revenue of $623 million in the fourth quarter, over 80 percent came from gaming alone.

While the success of Resorts World Sentosa has been positive for Malaysian-based parent company Genting Group, it has stolen the limelight from the corporation’s own Resorts World Genting, located outside Kuala Lumpur, which was one of the first casinos to open in the Southeast Asian market. Resorts World Genting saw a notable fall in foreign visitors last year, causing its net profit to decline by 3.6 percent in 2010.

Gaming analyst Jonathan Galaviz of Galaviz & Company believes that Singapore’s reputation as a safe and corruption-free global city has been key in boosting its competitive advantage in Asia’s casino industry.

The blazing performance of the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa is also in large part due to the patronage of local Singaporeans, who made up about 60 percent of the casino customers last year, despite a S$100 ($79) entrance fee imposed by the government to act as a deterrent. “I don’t mind the $100 fee because I just go in and win it back,” says 24-year old Singaporean civil servant who frequents the casino once or twice a week.


However, both Fischer and Hung believe that junkets will eventually get licensed given the very significant business opportunity. “We estimate Singapore gaming revenues of $8.1 billion next year — we see up to 50 percent upside to these estimates should a number of high quality junkets operate in Singapore,” Fischer concluded.


The Marina Bay Sands reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $284.5 million for the three months ended March 2011, down from $391.3 million in the September-December 2010 period.     (source)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

How PAP uses the nation's money for its party interests: Gerald Giam

How PAP uses taxpayer-funded grassroots for political gain

by Garald Giam, 10 Oct 2009 (source)


The People’s Association (PA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, was set up in 1960 to counter the influence of Chinese clan associations and unions on working class Singaporeans.

Like all other stat boards, it receives a yearly grant from the government to run its programmes and cover operational costs. In FY2008, PA received $280 million from taxpayers, and another $23 million in “operating income”. It spent a total of $320 million last year.

However unlike most stat boards, whose chairmen are usually the permanent secretary of the parent ministry or some other senior civil servant, PA’s chairman is none other than the Prime Minister. The deputy chairman and two other board members are PAP ministers, together with a PAP minister of state, two other PAP office holders and a PAP backbencher. Eight out of the 14 board members are PAP MPs. No other public sector board in Singapore has so many “Men in White” on it.

The PA oversees all the official “grassroots organisations”, namely the Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCC), Community Club Management Committees (CCMC), Residents’ Committees (RC), Neighbourhood Committees (NC) and the Community Development Councils (CDC). PA also runs the National Youth Council (NYC) and the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM), which reach out to young people.

The de facto leader of all the CCCs, CCMCs, RCs and NCs in each constituency is known as the “adviser to the grassroots organisations (GROs)”. This adviser is appointed by PA, presumably with the nod of its chairman, the Prime Minister. In PAP constituencies, PA always appoints the elected MP as the adviser. But in opposition wards, PA appoints the PAP candidate who lost in the last election, not the opposition MP.

The same anomaly is repeated in the CDCs. CDCs have a whole panel of advisers, who are by default the GRO advisers. In South West CDC, where all the component constituencies are under the PAP, it is not surprising that all the advisers are PAP MPs. But in South East CDC, there is one grinning adviser who is not an MP — Sitoh Yih Pin, the man who lost to Mr Chiam See Tong (SDA) in Potong Pasir. North East CDC also has a non-MP — Eric Low — sitting as adviser. He lost to Mr Low Thia Khiang (WP) in the last two elections, garnering just 37% of the popular vote in 2006.

Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chiam See Tong are completely excluded from the CDCs.

CDCs, Community Clubs and other GROs often organise events which involve a large number of residents. Most of the time, the guest-of-honour at such events is — you guessed it — the PAP grassroots adviser.

All this effectively denies the opposition MPs access to the whole array of grassroots resources that PAP MPs have easy access to. The opposition MP has to build up his own grassroot network from scratch, while PAP MPs simply inherit the control of the RCs, CCCs and CCMCs.

Most HDB dwellers will be familiar with the notice boards next to the lifts. These are managed by the RCs, which ensure that residents always aware of who their PAP MPs are by featuring their names and photos prominently on the notice boards. But in Hougang and Potong Pasir, instead of the elected MP, residents will see the losing PAP candidate’s face on the notice board every day when they go home.

Around the neighbourhood, they will also see huge banners sponsored by PA or the CCC, featuring the losing PAP candidate wishing residents during festive occasions. The Opposition is given no such banner space in PAP wards.

To round it off, the GROs are often the recruiting ground for the PAP during elections. Many grassroots volunteers are also loyal PAP men and women, who shed their supposed neutrality to don PAP all-whites during the election campaign, serving as supporters, election agents and counting agents for the PAP candidates.

The best thing of all for the PAP is that all these grassroots resources come at zero cost to the party, since it is all paid for by taxpayers — yes including those who voted for the Opposition. Unlike in other countries where political parties — just like the Opposition here — have to fund their own grassroots activities, the PAP can save its funds to be used during the election campaign.

With all these factors stacked against the Opposition, it is indeed commendable that Mr Chiam See Tong and Mr Low Thia Khiang have managed to hold on to their seats for the past 20 years. The residents of Potong Pasir and Hougang have proven that sincerity and pure hard work on the ground will be rewarded.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Low Thia Kiang meets the people for five hours at the void deck (video)

Even though meeting the people at the void deck, rather than in an air-conditioned office, is uncomfortable for all concerned, it is a PR triumph for Mr Low Thia Kiang and the Workers' Party.

I salute Mr Low for his spirit of dedication and service, and his easy accessibility to the residents.

Contrast him with the former MP (PAP) for the same GRC, Cynthia Phua (here) who insisted on pressing charges against a youth of low IQ who was furious after meeting her (presumably due to her lack of sympathy), and slammed a chair against her office door. The youth subsequently apologized, but she refused to withdraw charges.

The face of the Singaporean elites: a cretinous snob [and his apology accepted]

I am extremely gratified that a cretinous snob is found among the PAP elites.

I cannot recall ever coming across any moron anywhere in the whole wide world spewing such idiotic drivel.

He is a veritable world-class cretin on two counts. Firstly, for holding a patently false belief (which any fifteen-year-old can refute convincingly). Secondly, for proudly showing the world his stupid belief, unaware of the inevitable backlash.

He must surely typify the vulgar and ugly greed and materialism of the PAP value system, since every aspect of his intellect, ability, beliefs, personality, and integrity, we are told, has been rigorously examined and approved by the PAP before his selection as a PAP candidate.


Dr Lim has withdrawn his remark and apologized. I therefore expect that he will no longer conduct his duty as a MP based on the value system of equating the dignity and worth of a person with his/her wealth and income.

If I am justified in my expectation, I will accept his apology.

Thank you, Dr Lim.


Clarification, apology and withdrawal of my quote.

by Lim Wee Kiak on Friday, 27 May 2011 at 16:12 (source)
Minister's pay is a sensitive issue and is one that many are concerned about. I would like to clarify my comments made to Lianhe Zaobao and also reproduced in LianheWanBao

I made three fundamental points.

1. We need a balanced approach to the question of Ministerial pay.

2. Personally, I think we should not use pay and perks to attract capable people to come forward to serve. I agree with PM that there is a service to country element and an element of sacrifice expected for the Ministers by the public.

3. On the other hand, we need to take into consideration their responsibilities and job scope when we remunerate Ministers.

On further reflection, I agree that the example I quoted regarding a MICA minister meeting the heads of telcos and saying that there may be some loss of face if the minister's salary is low is inappropriate and incorrect. I withdraw those remarks and apologise for making them. Dignity cannot be and must not be measured purely in monetary terms.

Lim Wee Kiak

Dr (Medical Doctor) Lim Wee Kiak slammed by netizens for snobbish remarks

Temasek Reviews Emeritus
May 25, 2011   (source)

PAP MP for Nee Soon GRC Dr Lim Wee Kiak (林伟杰, bio1, bio2) has been slammed by netizens for making a snobbish remark to the media yesterday in defence of the PAP ministers’ multi-million dollar salary.

While most PAP MPs have jumped onto the bandwagon and put up a ‘wayang’ to support a review of the ministerial salaries, Dr Lim Wee Kiak appeared to think otherwise.

In an interview with a Chinese tabloid on the matter, Dr Lim said callously:

“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”

(Original comment in Chinese: :“如果新闻、通讯及艺术部长年薪只有50万,当他和身价数百万的电讯公司总裁开会商讨政策问题时,可能面对一些困难。因为总裁们可能认为没有必要听取部长的意见与建议,因此合理的薪酬将有助于维持一点尊严。”)

His comments sparked a massive outcry on TR’s Facebook if many netizens lampooning him for his ’shallowness’.

Eric Lim retorted immediately:

“So how does the president of united states of America maintain his dignity when talking to our ministers?”

Peter Koh added:

“Sorry, what kind of (expletive)  logic is this. Cash is king concept ? This guy needs to get his brains checked.”

Mollie Sim was mortified:

“What utter rubbish!! What’s next? We need the police more than what a drug trafficker makes so that they feel more authorized to arrest them?”

Roger Wong was obviously disgusted:

“I don’t expect such crap to come from a doctor. So pay ministers stratospheric salaries so that they can lord it over all with dignity ? How many Singaporeans must be feeling indignified now?”

PAP de facto leader Lee Kuan Yew once remarked famously that a good prime minister must be able to ‘coordinate’ well:

“To be the Prime Minister, you don’t have to know every instrument, but you got to recognise, ah, he’s a good violinist, he’ll be the first violinist, he’ll be the double bass. Then you coordinate them and then you have great music. And if you already have a great orchestra, you can put A DUMMY there and you still got great music…”

Dr Lim is now ‘out of sync’ with the rest of the PAP ‘orchestra’ with Lee relinquishing his ministerial portfolio and will probably get a gentle reminder soon to toe the ‘official’ line which is – “ministerial salaries should be reviewed and cut to placate the angry ‘lesser mortals’.”

[more comments]

Dr Lim Wee Kiak measures a person dignity by his/her net worth !
I am shocked ! That such remarks came from our PAP MP.
I wonder how he looked upon his own residents that came forward to seek his help in his constituency!
I won’t be too surprised if he looked at them as “failures” or “worthless” Singaporeans!
This guy does not know what true dignity means.


And we pay how much for these kind of idiots???
“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”
What does the govt expect the minister to do? Bribe these people? So if then tomorrow brings another yet-richer CEO, then what? Raise his pay again to match this?
And does the good minister go into negotiations like another company CEO? Of course not! That’s why he is a cabinet minister in the first place! He is part of the GOVERNMENT which makes laws and policies that govern the very company the these so-called rich CEOs work for!
Man, this guy needs a brain scan to see if they find anything in his cranium! That’s a near TPL-ish type stupid comment! Yes and that’s where the likes of TPL will end up 10-15 years from now unless they get voted out fair and square, with no GRCs.


Does money equal dignity?

Satay Club (source)


Dr Lim’s remarks encapsulate precisely what is wrong with the PAP today. P N Balji, the respected former newspaper editor, said in a recent article on Yahoo! Singapore that the review of ministerial salaries presents the PAP with a “golden opportunity to go back to its roots” and to revisit the “social compact” that the party once had with the people of Singapore. However, Mr Balji said that the PAP lost its way because of its elitist style of governance, eventually replacing the “social compact” with a “commercial contract”.

This was highlighted when former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew referred to himself as a “kept man” because his political career had prevented him from earning more as a lawyer in private practice. Pointing to his wife and brother, with whom he founded the law firm Lee & Lee before becoming Prime Minister, Mr Lee lamented that they earned far more than he did.

By appointing a committee to review the basis and level of political office holders’ salaries, PM Lee took a bold step forward. But, if anything, Dr Lim Wee Kiak’s comments go to show that many within the PAP still see their relationship with the people in terms of a “commercial contract”.

It goes without saying that Dr Lim’s remarks are absurd. In fact, they would be laughable if they weren’t so scary. To pay a minister half a million dollars a year by no means subjecting him to indignity.


If the Prime Minister is serious about transforming the government, he must first work on transforming the mindsets of his MPs. People who are only concerned about money should remain in the private sector, where they do not run the risk of imparting the wrong values and need not worry about being role models. That is precisely why the salaries of political appointment holders ought to be reduced substantially – because high salaries only serve to attract the wrong kind of people into politics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Joan Hon, daughter of Hon Sui Sen, on LKY

First note (source)

A reply to Catherine Lim's blog post (here), "The GE 2011 Political Demise of Lee Kuan Yew: A Supreme Irony"

by Joan Fong (a.k.a. Joan Hon)

May 18th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Dear Catherine,

I read your commentary with some exasperation. It seems as if you have to make a wonderfully accurate commentary on all that is going on politically and go down in history for your sharp wit and perception. And to talk in terms of “downfall” with such relish so many times just got my goat.

He happens to be someone I know. In the past I have been with him a few times, not often, enough to be able to read his mind and make a comment that hit the nail on the head as to what he was pondering.

Take this as a woman’s instinct. The instinct of a woman who happens to like men, as part of the human race, as friends, and who feels for their welfare. And who care to makes them cushioned against things that are hurtful, especially to their ego.

Before his wife died and we visited for Chinese New Year, 2010, He let us (me and my sister) in to view his wife, someone who had always been on easy terms with me. I put my hand on her shoulder as she lay immobile and prayed over her.

He waited until I had finished, and then pointed to the wall behind me. “She chose this herself,” he said. I saw a large framed picture of the Virgin carrying the Child Jesus. And was astounded. She had in the past brought back a glass bust of the Virgin for my mother.

We went back to the dining table and indulged in some juicy gossip, none of it political. My nephew gave him this thing like a hamburger that his firm was selling, to show him something invented and made in Singapore.

In CNY 2011, he went down to our car to talk to my mother because she could not climb stairs anymore. She had been brought by us, her four daughters, to the wake at the Istana of a good friend without our telling her what it was all about, and she burst into tears when she realised what had happened. Loong and Yang were concerned and didn’t know how to placate her. Their father was not around. So, it was at this Chinese New Year visit, 2011, that she got to meet him.

She asked how Ling-Ling was, and she was called out from her computer to talk to her too.

He asked if she still went to Mass every day. She is now 94. We said yes for her as she is stone deaf. How does she go? he wanted to know. I said, “Oh, by taxi, with the maid.” My sister said to me later, “Idiot! We all go daily Mass and we take her there, and it is only on days she didn’t follow us in the morning that she takes a taxi.” It doesn’t matter. When you are growing old, details are immaterial.

I had just lost my husband to cancer half a year before that. He had just lost his wife. One can guess how he feels now at the vacuum in his life. I can also guess, most of his fire and confidence stemmed from her lively presence in his life.

She would say funny things to me like, “Look at me. If he didn’t marry me, nobody else would have!” and she actually doubled up in laughter. She used to shove yogurt into my mouth saying it is good for me. I hated yogurt and she never dug this truth out of me but fed me a second spoonful. She asked if I remember which room I used to stay in, in Oxley Road. I pointed to one of the middle rooms – that one!

When I bought a house, she was my lawyer, and said to me how stupid we were long ago, not to have bought our properties. “In those days, if we didn’t have the money, we just didn’t go and buy one. We didn’t want to borrow money, not even from the banks.”

When Loong lost his first wife, he was disconsolate. His father wished he had a religion or a God to carry him through this, my father said. I wrote him a long soulful letter on how we are all contingent beings, not responsible for our own existence on earth and who are journeying in this life with us. I said, if he didn’t believe in God, well, I did and will pray for him. God will compensate him for this tragedy.

His father told my father that I had a good heart, like my mother. That little remark meant that Loong must have snapped out of his mood.

In life, it is people that matter and not things. Things can go hang but it is the people who matter. If they are sad you lift them up. If they fall, one does not shout to all their lowly stance and describe their wounds with accuracy.

I am trying to say they are as human as you and me. And I have not spoken about our friendship with them, in case we give the idea we like to hobnob with the great. If now he has no power over the masses anymore, I would step forward and offer my support. I would do anything to boost his morale.

I sense now he is tired of everything, without his wife, even politics. It is time to step back. Will he be out of the picture completely? No, his opinion will still be sought and he will give it for what it is worth.

There are worse things in life he had suffered without having to worry about one GRC ward being lost. And if Loong can act as he thinks, and can promise to aim to corrent deficiencies, and thus swing votes for himself, he is doing all right. Time to put himself out to pasture. I don’t think he feels much sorrow leaving the picture.

Well, I might be wrong. It is my two cents worth. Now I too will return to the shadows. I have a late husband to muse over. And I wish you all the best and hope you are happy.



Second note (source)

Somebody sent this to me, and I realised, my personal comment to Catherine, and nobody else, is being sent around and commented on.

Okay, what I was saying to Catherine is simply, LKY is a family friend and I gave her some insights into our interactions with him to say he is a human being with feelings. No matter what he has done, you don't hit a man when he is down, even if verbally.

It is not a humane thing to do. If you think MM was vicious towards other people, there is no need to be like him then, and be vicious to him. Just go through the letters that are in this site and you will see the degree of viciousness in the comments, which are not justified.

You want to talk about the Marxist conspirators? My nephew's wife was arrested. I was suffering along with him throughout the whole business. At the time I didn't know if there was or was no conspiracy and when in the end, it turned out these people were innocent, it was all-in-all a very regrettable thing.

Those who object are not old enough to see Communism coming down to the top of the Malay peninsula, according to what is called the Domino theory. This was something I was personally fearful about, to the point of wanting to emigrate. So, MM and the government are equally fearful, and hence the heavy handedness of their using the ISA to investigate things.

I was laughing at all the comments made. How you can condemn people without knowing what is true and what isn't.

For the record, my family of mother and three sisters and myself have been opposing government policies even before my father went into politics. It took MM 10 years to persuade him to stand for election. Articles always called him the reluctant politician.

Ok. I didn't like anything against human rights. And morality. I didn't like the way they told people to have two children only. And I can demarcate between actions that you can blame on the government and those you have to blame on the people who execute the policies. It was the nurses who scolded women who were having their third child in KK Hospital that I found distasteful.

And then Catholic schools lost the right of admitting who they wanted to admit. If you have three or more children you lose your right of admission.

If you have to blame the government for anything, look at the policy, look at those who put forth the policy and then look at the people on the ground carrying this out, and then decide who you really want to hate.

Next, if you were Singaporean and married a foreigner of low education, your spouse was barred from living in Singapore. Something I found stupid, inhumane and distasteful.

Next was the abortion policy. This was the thing I could not stand, wrote umpteen letters to the press and none were printed.

So after my Dad had passed away and I could not then disgrace him with my doings, I wrote an Open Letter to the PM (at that time LKY) with a copy of the video Silent Scream, and a picture of babies all bloody and mangled in buckets. I sent a copy of these to all MP's.

My argument, I told PM, was not based on religion. It was from pure humane considerations. It was also from common morality. Why should it be a crime if the baby is born and you kill it, but it is lawful before it is born?

I told him of a remark overheard in a shopping mall: "Have a good time man! Just give her five dollars!" I swung round to see who said that and it was a boy talking to her friends, all of whom looked around 13 years old. This is what abortion is doing to their morals. It is just Casanova's charter. More girls can be taken advantage of without the boy being at risk of being held responsible.

People get confused. Is this right or wrong, morally -- to kill a baby in the womb? Why are we doing it if it is wrong? As usual we imitate the West slavishly. Roe vs Wade in America. The decision that unlocked the flood of abortions we have now.

The next consideration I told PM, was that we need manpower. The reduction of births will only lead to economic consequences that are bad for the nation. Now, see the 1.2 fertility rate? I rest my case.

It is too late for me to add this to that letter, but I can't help adding this point now. Why are we giving parents something like $20,000 for every child they bear, plus maternity benefits, but we are still aborting babies. Isn't it time to rethink the policy?

For the record, my Dad, Hon Sui Sen, was the first President or CEO(Chairman?) of DBS. His salary was a princely chiak-buay-leow amount of $10,000 per month. At that time, Goh Keng Swee was a very sick man and my Dad did most of his work. This is the Civil Service. The boss gets the credit. So, LKY persuaded him to stand for election, something he had no interest in and would prefer to die than to do it. He had a fear of public speaking. But he agreed.

His pay fell to $3,000 per month. All the other Ministers also earned $3,000 per month. PM earned a little more -- $3,500 per month. This was when he went on record in the press saying he was a kept man! The year was 1970. By 1983, when he had a heart attack and died, my Dad earned $14,000 per month. I read in the papers that Malaysian Ministers earned $18,000 per month. The ringgit was not far off our Singapore dollar. Don't forget we were kicked out and had nothing in those days to make our dollar worth much.

Next thing that riled me - those casinos. All religious heads are dealing in their respective religions with the terrible problems of addictive gambling. All these head begged not to have casinos. I'm sure those in Parliament had a ding-dong verbal battle over it too. I'm sure, reading MM's mind again, he would rather NOT have them. His own father was ruined by gambling, he said.

So why are we having the casinos now? To get jobs for 35,000 people. I can bet you the gambling addiction will in future send more than 35,000 people to ruin. Counting bankrupt addicts and their family members. And this number will grow and grow with time, but the 35,000 jobs will stagnate. To help these people find jobs you ruin a larger number of people.

I read Lily Neo's speech in Parliament and was filled with rage at the thought -- there are the poor people and there are the high salaries of the rich. I am not one of these rich. Retired without pension. Coupled by the fact that an old retainer of ours (meaning someone who had worked for us at home for his whole life) was sick together with his wife. Two people who would be bankrupted by it. We contributed a five-figure sum to help out.

The PAP are right in recognising that it is not the poor fighting for themselves now. The middle class and rich can recognise how terrible is their plight and where injustice lies and are putting their money where their mouth is. There are MPs who give their MP earnings to the poor. I hear Lily Neo is one of them.

I hate to report that I have been shooting my mouth off to PAP MPs who came calling. "You just wait. You won't know what has hit you when the results are out!" I let loose about arrogance, over earnings, my Dad and his poor pay. When MM said something about this generation having forgotten about the Old Guard and what they did, I wanted to say, the Old Guard didn't pay themselves fabulous sums of money, and they didn't start casinos, or let Mas Selamat escape or foul up the roads with traffic.

But they started abortion. And we gave it to my Dad at meal-times and my mother said he had better leave the PAP, and the poor man kept quiet and never let on his own stand on the matter. Look, if I can let MM know my mind regarding abortion {he replied saying he wanted people to have their choice, but lowered the permitted period for abortion from 6 to 3 months} do you think I want to make a show of knowing him well or his family?

What I am able to do is -- disagree with him, tell him so, but in nice terms. I don't have to hate him or the PAP. Right now I feel we have won our right to speak our minds without having to bear grudges and hate anybody at all. Or be rude to them when you do not agree.

One thing Singaporeans have not really fully cultivated yet is being magnanimous. I count myself guilty too sometimes. How to disagree without being disagreeable? It simply makes a bad show of ourselves and after that nobody will listen to us.

Joan Hon

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PAP vote shares by wards in Aljunied GRC

(source: Asia One)

PAP's weakest links in Aljunied

Sources told The Straits Times that the lowest scoring division was Mrs Lim Hwee Hua's Serangoon, which garnered about 40 per cent of the votes.

Next up was Madam Cynthia Phua's Paya Lebar division. This was followed by Mr George Yeo's Bedok Reservoir-Punggol division and Mr Ong Ye Kung's Kaki Bukit division. And then came Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed's Eunos division.

All scored below 50 per cent, with Mr Zainul doing better by scrapping under with between 1,000 and 2,000 votes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Comparing influence of alternative and main stream media in Singapore

Using the web traffic data from Alexa (here), I examine the relative influence of the alternative media (AM, reporting Opposition political views) vs the main stream media (MSM) in Singapore.

My conclusion is that the relative online influence of MSM to AM is somewhere between 4:3 (MSM at weakest) and 7:3 (MSM at strongest).


Speculation on the Netizens

After mulling over the numbers, I offer here a speculative breakdown of the electorate into Netizens (referring to netizens who are interested in socio-political issues; they are overwhelmingly pro-Alternatives) and non-Netizens.

Though the internet penetration rate in Singapore is 77.82% (here), I think only 30% of the electorate read English language MSM/AM online. Of these, 1/3 read AM. We define Netizens to be these AM readers, who constitute 10% of the electorate.

(There are thus 235,000 Netizens. Of relevance is the fact that Nicole Seah has 103,800 likes at 6:30 pm on May 21, 2011.)

85% of the Netizens (10% of the electorate) and 35% of the non-Netizens (90% of the electorate) voted for the Alternatives.  Thus 40% of the entire electorate voted for the Alternatives. (0.1x0.85+0.9x0.35=0.4)


The two graphs (above) show the global daily reach (user numbers) and pageviews over the last month (April 18-May 19) of :

  • the most popular main stream media site: Channel News Asia (CNA),
  • the main alternative news-and-opinions sites: The Temasek Review (TR) and The Online Citizen (TOC), 
  • the most popular Alternative Parties online: The Workers' Party (WP) and the SDP.
The following table gives the Alexa data for the last month.

PV=pageviews. The percentages are global percentages. CNA has a greater presence outside Singapore than the other four sites, and its Singapore percentages should be somewhat lower (but not significantly, I suspect) than its global percentages.  Reach* and PV* are reach(%) and PV(%) scaled to make the CNA figures 100.

reach (%)


PV (%)



























If the main stream media (MSM, represented by CNA) reaches 100 people online, then the alternative media (AM, represented by TR)  reaches 42.62 people.

Scenario 1

If all 42.64 people who read TR also read CNA, then only 57.36 (=100-42.62) people out of 100 are exclusive MSM readers.

In this case, the relative influence of MSM to AM can be crudely estimated to be 57.36% : 42.64%, or about 4:3.  In other words, among the online Singaporeans, 4/7 are exclusively MSM readers, and 3/7 read AM as well as MSM.

Scenario 2

In the other extreme, if no CNA reader reads TR, and no TR reader reads CNA, then the relative influence of MSM to AM can be estimated to be 100.00 : 42.64, or 70.11%:29.89%,  i.e. 7:3.

In conclusion, the relative online influence of MSM to AM is somewhere between 4:3 (MSM at weakest) and 7:3 (MSM at strongest).

Internet reach by age groups: Singapore politics and demographics

Given the importance of the internet-savvy voters, who are likely to be overwhelmingly pro-Alternative Parties, in Singapore politics, I tried to gauge the internet reach (in the area of news and political opinions, as distinct from social networking, gaming, etc) in Singapore by age groups.

In the following Tables 2a, 2b, "Citizens" is the number of Singapore citizens, as obtained from the 2010 Census (here). "Respondents" is the sum of the numbers of respondents to two recent online political surveys (by Yawning Bread (here) and Stephan Ortmann (here)).


Reinforcing the reliability of the surveys is the fact that they agree remarkably well in the age distribution of their respondents (see Table 1).

Table 1


Yawning Bread



























end of Excursus]

Dividing "Respondents" by "Citizens" is a measure of the internet reach (in the area of news and political opinions). All the other numbers in Tables 2a and 2b are obtained by proportional scaling of this measure.

The next four columns (A, B, C, D) in Tables 2a and 2b show the internet reach (in percentage), assuming that the internet reach of the 21-30 age group is 100.0%, 90.0%, 80.0%, and 70.0% respectively.

For example, if we assume that the internet reaches 90.0% of the 21-30 age group (Column B), then it reaches 64.6% of the 31-40 age group, and 18.6% of the 41-50 age group.

However, if we assume that the internet reaches 80.0% of the 21-30 age group (Column C), then it reaches 57.4% of the 31-40 age group, and 16.6% of the 41-50 age group.

Internet penetration rate

According to thisas of June 2010, Singapore has 3,658,400 Internet users, 77.82% of the population of 4.701,069.

[On Mar 31, 2011, there were 2,478,720 Singapore Facebook users, 52.3% of the population.]

However, for the purpose of assessing internet reach in the area of news and political opinions, this figure of 77.82% is far too high, and misleading.

Assuming a rather high figure of 90.0% internet reach for the 21-30 age group (Column B), the internet reach for the entire citizenry (aged 21 and above) is only 33.7%, or about 1 in 3 (last row of Column B).

Examples of my calculation:

Internet reach for 21-30 group is 1416/429861= 0.003294
Internet reach for 31-40 group is 1034/437136= 0.002365
71.8% in Column A is obtained by 0.002365/0.003294=0.7180
64.6% in Column B is obtained by 0.7180x0.9=0.6462

Table 2a: Internet Reach by Age Group

(Year born)























>70 (<1940)




Total (>20 y.o.)




Table 2b: Internet Reach by Age Group

(Year born)
        B       C        D

21-30 (1980-89)




31-40 (1970-79)




41-50 (1960-69)




51-60 (1950-59)




61-70 (1940-49)




>70 (<1940)




Total (>20 y.o.)




Heeding Catherine Lim after seventeen years

The little article that rocked Singapore

SINGAPORE— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
That little article was published in the fall of 1994 in Singapore’s Straits-Times newspaper. In it, Ms. Catherine Lim – until then best known as a novelist – committed the shocking act of pointing out that while the long-ruling PAP had done a good job running Singapore’s economy, it had done little to endear itself to those it governed. “There is very little in the way of affectionate regard,” she wrote.

It was a truth the government didn’t want to hear. In the weeks that followed (and particularly after she wrote an equally blunt follow-up column), Ms. Lim was attacked in print and in person by the government of then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong, who accused her of “demolishing the respect for and standing of the Prime Minister and his government by systematic contempt and denigration in the media” – a serious accusation in a country where government critics often wound up defending themselves in court on charges of libel, or worse.

Suddenly, Ms. Lim’s columns weren’t welcomed by the Straits Times any more. She was told that she had angered the country’s paramount political figure, Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s authoritarian founder who once said “if you are a trouble maker … it’s our job to politically destroy you.”

“I understand [why the government was angry]. I knew that what I had done – which seemed innocuous to Western eyes – was to them a gross violation of the Confucianist ethos” of respecting your seniors and superiors, Ms. Lim explained in an interview Friday.

Flash forward to 2011, and Ms. Lim has reason for her good humour. The recent elections – which saw a best-ever result for the opposition – saw criticism of the government become commonplace on the Internet and particularly on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. During the campaign, Ms. Lim, who now blogs on her own website (catherinelim.sg), saw her writing “go viral, I think that’s the word,” she says with another giggle. Political scientists credit her with helping get out the youth vote, which swung heavily behind the opposition.

On the 24th anniversary of Operation Spectrum: Imprisoning social activists without trial

The Online Citizen

Andrew Loh
May 21, 2011 (source)

On 21 May 1987, a group of social workers was arrested by the authorities under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly plotting to topple the government through a “Marxist conspiracy”. No charges were ever brought against them and they were never tried in open court.

There has been no comments from the government since these arrests in 1987, despite calls – both from activists and the detainees themselves – for it to re-open the case.

The detainees, while under detention, had made statements admitting their guilt. Some of the them were released after issuing the statements. Nine of those who were released later issued their own statement, recanting their earlier ones. The following was the statement to the media by the nine:

We, the undersigned, were detained by the Internal Security Department (ISD) on 21 May and 20 June 1987 and released in stages after the suspension directives and/or restriction orders in June, September and December 1987.

While we had privately always maintained our innocence and kept a rueful and cheerful silence about the unjust treatment we were subjected to, and would have been inclined to keep our silence, the government has repeatedly raised the issue of our arrest and detention and made false and damaging statements about us. On the one hand, we have been intimidated by implicit and explicit threats against our safety, should we speak up about our arrest and detention; on the other hand, the government and its spokesmen have continued to make bold and untruthful statements regarding the reasons for our arrest and detention and have denied that any of us were subjected to ill-treatment or torture.

We make this statement as principled men and women who will speak the truth and state our position for the record… we do not intend to challenge the government, we do not seek any official response, neither is there any desire to make political capital out of this. Our sole purpose is to clear our names.


We are accused of being involved in an alleged Marxist conspiracy to subvert the existing social and political system in Singapore using Communist united front tactics to establish a Marxist state. We categorically deny the government’s accusations: we have never been Marxist conspirators involved in any conspiracy.

We were never clandestine, Communist or a Marxist network and many of us did not even know of one another before the arrests. We were rather community and church workers, legal reformers, amateur dramatists, helpers of the Workers’ Party, professionals and ordinary citizens exercising our constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association in Singapore. We have never propagated in words or in actions a Communist state for Singapore. Rather we have through open and legitimate organizations and legitimate means advocated more democracy, less elitism, protection of individual freedoms, greater concern for the poor and the less privileged, and respect of freedom in the private lives of citizens.

We hold completely the beliefs expressed by fellow ex-detainee Chew Kheng Chuan in his representation to the ISD advisory board where he stated: “We are believers in an open and democratic policy and in the virtues of an open and accountable government. We strongly believe that for society to be meaningfully called democratic, interest and action in politics cannot be the sole prerogative of the professional politician. A citizen of a democracy, to be worthy of that society, has not just the right but indeed the duty to participate in the political life of his or her society. It is a grave danger to democracy to suggest that for one to comment on political and social issues or to hold differing political opinions, one should go and form a political party.”

We believe that, as in the case of an individual citizen, so too has an organization the same legitimate role to play in a democratic country. It seems to us that we were arrested and detained for the legitimate exercise of our rights as citizens, through registered and open organizations. We did not infiltrate these organizations but joined them as members, volunteers and full-time workers. Neither did we use these organizations as forums to propagate subversive activities. All acitivities carried out by these organizations are legitimate, open and approved by elected executive committees whose members clearly stand on their own right as capable, autonomous and intelligent individuals. Neither were we instructed by any person or organization, not Tan Wah Piow, Paul Lim, nor any political party.

Treatment during detention

Following our sudden arrest we were subjected to harsh and detailed interrogation. Some of us were for as long as 70 hours inside freezing-cold rooms. All of us were stripped of our personal clothing, including spectacles, footwear and underwear and make to change into prisoners’ uniforms. Most of us were made to stand continually during the interrogation, some of us for over 20 hours and under the full blast of air-conditioning turned to a very low temperature. Under these conditions one of us was repeatedly dowsed with cold water during interrogation. Most of us were hit hard in the face, some of us not less than 50 times, while others were assaulted on other parts of the body during the first three days of interrogation.

We were threatened with the arrest, assault and battering of our spouses, loved ones and friends.

We were threatened with indefinite detention without trial; Chia Thye Poh, who is still in detention after 22 years, was cited as an example. We were told that no one could help us unless we cooperated with the ISD. These threats were constantly in our minds during the time we wrote our respective statements in detention.

We were actively discouraged from engaging legal counsel and advised to discharge our lawyers and against taking legal action, including making legal representation to the ISA Advisory Board so as not to jeopardize our chances of release.

We were compelled to appear on television and warned that our releases depended on our performances on TV. We were coerced to make statements such as, “I am Marxist-inclined”, “My ideal society is a classless society”, “So-and-so is my mentor”, “I was made use of by so-and-so”, in order to incriminate ourelves and other detainees. What we said on television was grossly distorted and misrepresented by editing and commentaries which attributed highly sinister motives to our actions and associations.

We state once more, clearly and unequivocally, that we never acted in any way to subvert the security of our country.

Teo Soh Lung
Ng Bee Leng
Kenneth Tsang
Chng Suan Tze
Tang Lay Lee
Kevin De Souza
William Yap
Wong Souk Yee
Tang Fong Har

The day after this statement was released, they were rearrested by the ISD.


The Online Citizen devoted a full one week in May 2009 highlighting various aspects of the arrests. Here are the articles and reports from that focus week.

01 March 2009: Ex-ISA detainees speak out
“We cannot begin to understand the history of modern Singapore and its emergence as a nation state until we have come to face this whole question of political detention without trial — a law which is bequeathed to us by the departing colonial power…nothing can change here unless we confront this arduous legacy which we have inherited from the past. [This legacy] should rightly be assigned to the dustbin of history.”

17 May 2009: Operation Spectrum – 22 years later

Do not feel guilty because I am here
For guilt has no place in your heart or mine
Do not feel sad because I am here
For sadness too has no place in your heart or mine”

18 May 2009: Remember May 21st

Most of them were made to stand during interrogation for over 20 hours and under full blasts of air conditioning turned to the lowest temperature. Under those conditions, one of them was repeatedly doused with cold water.”

18 May 2009: May 1987 – a conspiracy un-proved

An earlier promise by the government to hold a Commission of Inquiry to look into the allegations of abuse was shelved. The government said it saw no need for an inquiry as the detainees had signed another statement disavowing their recantation.”

18 May 2009: Passion for activism extinguished… but not for long

At 4 o’clock on the morning of 21st May 1987, Mr Tan and his wife heard a banging on the door of their flat. At the door were two men claiming to be from the Immigration Department. They showed Mr Tan their official identity cards and Mr Tan allowed them into the flat. However, once inside, they immediately handcuffed Mr Tan and threw him into one of the rooms, and proceeded to ransack the flat looking for incriminating evidence, according to Mr Tan.”

19 May 2009: Straits Times of May ’87 – four days of government statements on “Marxist Conspiracy”

One would be hard-pressed to find any newspaper in the world which would allow its government to have its views published – ad verbatim, pages after pages  – for four consecutive days in its paper. Conspicuously, except for the write-up on the front pages (which incidentally did not carry any names of the authors), there were  no reports or write-ups by Straits Times’ reporters.”

19 May 2009: Teo Soh Lung in her own words (Part 1)

I had always held the view that lawyers must play an active part in society. The law society prior to 1986 was, I think, a dead society. The chance to become active in the society came when Francis Seow was elected as its President. I approached him and told him that I was interested to help in the society’s work. I was asked to chair the Special Assignments Sub-Committee subsequently.”

20 May 2009: The Marxist Conspiracy not forgetting the evil things that have already been done

The International Commission of Jurists, who continually called the then Singapore government “to prove this alleged ‘conspiracy’ in open court, and give those detained a fair trial”, deduced in an investigative report that the real motive for the arrests and subsequent detention without trial of the ‘conspirators’ is to quash internal opposition and criticism of the Singapore government, not to protect the security and welfare of Singapore society against a Marxist conspiracy.”

20 May 2009: Chiam’s finest hour (Part 1)

What is the case against them? What evidence do you have? Although the Government has been saying, “Yes, we have evidence, otherwise we would not have arrested them.” What evidence? You tell me. There is no evidence. The only evidence is their own confession. That is all. Any court of law would throw out this kind of a confession.”

21 May 2009: Chiam’s finest hour (Part 2) – the govt responds

“He asked me whom am I championing? Whose side I am on? When I come before the House, I do not have any ulterior motives. I am not championing for the 15. Somebody must speak up for them. In the whole of Singapore, 2.6 million people, who will speak up for these 15? Somebody has to do the job. It is a necessary job. And I have been placed in a position where I have the opportunity to do it and I am doing it.” – Chiam See Tong.

21 May 2009: Was it a Red or White conspiracy?

Since the investigations and detention were out of public scrutiny, then it may be time for the government to appoint an inquiry, to ascertain the truth and clear the names of the victims once & for all and work out details of monetary compensation for the dishonour, anguish and sufferings they have gone through.”

22 May 2009: Teo Soh Lung in her own words (Part 2)
“During interrogation, I was verbally abused,  slapped, made to stand for hours on end in the cold room with spotlights shining into my eyes and sit on a 3 legged chair,  – i.e. one leg was shorter than the other 3 so that a prisoner cannot sit and sleep and thus deprived of sleep for days!  Imprisonment was not too bad.  For some months I was locked up in a small cell with slits for air and the rest of my stay was in a big spartan cell, which ISD called a “Shangrila Suite”.  I was in solitary confinement throughout my stay.”

22 May 2009: Remembering the 22.
“On May 21, 1987, twenty-two young men and women were arrested on the allegation that they were trying to overthrow the PAP government through violence and replace it with a Marxist government.  These were, and are, serious charges. No guns, no ammunition, no armaments of any kind whatsoever were ever seized or produced to substantiate this fetid allegation.”

22 May 2009: Let the people judge

“How could there ever be such a plot to establish a communist state when the so-called “mastermind”, that is, my humble self, confessed in no uncertain terms that I oppose the very idea of turning Singapore into a communist state? Why does the Singapore government insist on calling me a communist when I am not one?”

23 May 2009: That we may dream again – book review by Chee Siok Chin

It was more because after almost each chapter, I found it difficult to move on for the experiences suffered by the detainees were heart-wrenching. It was not easy to read about how some of my fellow Singaporeans were used, bullied and persecuted by our own Government.”

24 May 2009: 1989 – Lee Kuan Yew’s defamation suit against FEER.
“The Prime Minister was stern and forceful when he told the Church delegation on June 2, 1987, about his fears of an impending “collision” between Church and Government. Father Kang said he was stunned and “almost dumbfounded” when Mr Lee “turned the spotlight” on four priests whom he criticised for venturing into the political arena.”

26 May 2009: TOC Editorial: But butterflies are free
“The detainees have claimed that their confessions about being conspirators had been coerced after “psychological pressure” – an euphemism coined by then-Minister Lee Hsien Loong that included a litany of tactics that included sleep deprivation, blatant threats and physical intimidation – was applied on them.”

26 May 2009: “Operation Spectrum was political rape”

I still feel angry at the injustice of the whole incident, and that the perpetrators have not been brought to account. ‘Operation Spectrum’ was political rape… Victims of injustice must not give up the fight to regain their dignity. I believe that forgiveness and letting go is genuine and meaningful only when justice has been, or is seen to have been, done.” – Vincent Cheng.

27 May 2010: “Marxist conspirator” Vincent Cheng to speak

Vincent Cheng, a former political detainee and alleged leader of a Marxist conspiracy against the Singapore government, will speak in public for the first time at a seminar on Singapore history next Friday (4 June).”

02 June 2010: Exchange of letters between NLB and member of public

Has the National Library been advised against allowing Mr Cheng to speak or to attend the event? If so, how does this square with the National Library’s principal responsibility to preserve and make accessible the nation’s literary and publishing heritage and intellectual memory?”

04 June 2010: “Late inclusion” an excuse, Vincent Cheng tells NLB
“In case you still do not know who I am, let me kindly remind you that I was an ISA detainee in 1987, arbitrarily arrested and detained, never charged, never brought to trial and never convicted, only hideously and ceremoniously insulted and condemned. It is now 23 years. I still bear the scars. I wish to know whether the National Library Board is part of this ugly scheme of history.”

28 June 2010: An open wound

“Beyond The Blue Gate is a riveting account of what takes place in the darker bellies, as it were, of Singapore’s penal system. It shows how unbridled power, when unleashed on ordinary citizens, have consequences which perhaps even its wielders may not fully realize. It also forces us to question our blind trust and faith in those in authority.”


“As far as I am concerned, the Government’s case is still not proven. I would not say those fellows were Red, not from the stuff they presented…I think a lot of people have this scepticism. ”
Former Attorney General Walter Woon, Straits Times, 6 July 1991

“Although I had no access to state intelligence, from what I knew of them, most were social activists but not out to subvert the system.”
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Straits Times 2001


Further reads on Operation Spectrum :

Operation Spectrum on wikipedia.
‘Marxist plot’ revisited
“Marxist Conspiracy” arrests – 20 years on
A detainee remembers
‘Marxist Conspiracy’ annniversary remembered

Singapore is holding 12 in “Marxist conspiracy” – New York Times

The ISA as a political tool
Political detention in Singapore : Prisoner case histories