The government’s response to the Bukit Batok fire has been deafeningly silent, despite clear evidence of gross negligence on the part of the town council in failing to ensure fire safety regulations were followed. Attempting to shift responsibility to the contractor does not diminish the town council’s culpability. One can only imagine the ruling party’s reaction had the fire taken place in Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.
The lower bonus paid out to civil servants are expected to resonate, with the private sector also possibly taking the same cue. No one is in the mood to spend big, if they do spend at all. And naturally, Singapore's own economy will be affected too, with the lower retails sales returns.
That every time a mistake is made, it is the lower ranked staff that gets the blame, while the leaders, normally PAP Ministers and MPs, say sorry and moved on with their cushy pay secured a long time ago. It’s appalling that the buck stops with the men at the bottom, while the men at the top receives not even a reprimand.
I am concerned that there have been 3 instances of Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) being invoked - all against articles critical of the government. My view is that POFMA was indeed passed ahead of a General Election which is looming. The Government has a track-record of enacting laws targeting online criticisms and ahead of elections for the last 10 years.
The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has issued a strongly worded statement, which indicated that the Party strongly mandates that Singapore needs to be governed under the tenets of transparency, independence and accountability, to which the Party highly subscribes to. To this end, PSP finds that the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) falls short of these expected values.
A chicken rice stall in Kovan have come under fire from customers for constantly overcharging customers for their chicken rice. To make things worse, the stall does not indicate the actual price of the chicken rice dish they serve, thus opening up the possibility of them charging any price they so wish at any different time of the day. One customer got so irate at being overcharged, she did a whole write up on the stall for overcharging her young daughter.
In both cases, the government entities shifted the blame on something else, MOE on the fact that it was a longstanding practice to collect fees if original PSLE result slips are given. For ICA, they indicated that the $10 fee is payable as this would invoke a stronger sense of pride and ownership in a Singaporean identity. And both made it clear that the government had subsidized most of the other costs, so what we pay is just a minimal sum. They dare say this is not about the money.
A longstanding practise certainly does not make this any right, as they did nothing but humiliate the student who by no choice of her own, got found out by the rest of her school mates that her family cannot afford to pay the 'minimal' school fees. If the MOE dare say that the amount was minimal compared to the amount given by the government to offset costs for Singaporeans, then why are they still hard up on chasing after that amount? MOE said that this was not about the money. So, what is it about then? To humiliate poor students who cannot afford to even pay a minimum sum?
For the second time in 4 days, the Minister of Home Affairs K Shanmugam, has instructed the POFMA office to invoke the fake news law to correct false statements in a post on the FB page States Times Review. This came after the POFMA was unleashed for the first time on Monday on opposition party member Brad Bowyer.
However, it has since came to light that MOE is not the only education administrators who withhold certificates or results slips, just because a student faced real issues in paying their school fees. WP politician Yee Jenn Jong has also revealed that he handled a similar case a few years back, when he was helping out at an MPS in Aljunied. He stated that he was approached by a distressed student who feared that she would not be able to apply for third year courses since her school withheld the original results slip due to outstanding fees.