Singapore must plan for 10M population: Ex-HDB chief

More people? Yes, says ex-HDB chief. I can’t imagine how we can have more people in Singapore but if it is coming we definitely need to plan ahead.

Singapore must start planning for a population that could possibly hit 10 million, Liu Thai Ker, the man often credited as the architect of modern Singapore, told CNBC.

“One fundamental thing about urban planning is, don’t try to stop or control or curb population growth,” Liu, who is now chairman at the Centre for Liveable Cities and senior director at RSP Architects Planners and Engineering, said.

“We should allow Singapore to grow and plan for a much bigger population… like 10 million people. We should ask ourselves: How long do we want Singapore to remain as a sovereign country? Even at 10 million people and assuming a population growth rate of 1 percent, we will only last slightly over 100 years and that’s not a long time,” he added.

Source: Singapore must plan for 10M population: Ex-HDB chief

Deepest MRT station in Singapore

The Bras Basah MRT Station (CC2) is the deepest station in the Mass Rapid Transit system at 35 metres below ground and its island platform is located at basement 5. It is also the station with the longest escalator, at 41.3 metres. To let light into the station, a reflective pool of water with glass panels outside the Singapore Management University was created.

Bras Basah MRT Station (CC2)

It’s so empty inside sometimes!

Xenophobia in Singapore

This is taken in the local skate park at East Coast:

Xenophobia in Singapore

Locals only

Through the past decade, Singaporeans saw foreigners coming in and we get upset, that’s perfectly okay because last I check we are upset over everything. So complaining is perfectly normal, perhaps a hobby, the Indians have their cricket we have our complaints. So shutup and stop complaining.

The xenophobia thing got me thinking a lot on identity though. We realized that we are a young nation and for some people their parents were migrants themselves. This puts everyone in an awkward — AWKWARD (cheerfully) — position. What’s a foreigner then, what are we not liking.

Let’s be specific

We don’t like foreigners alright. We love tourists though. Wait what? Okay, change. We are okay with foreigners, we aren’t okay with foreign workers. But that’s not right either, most locals accepted the Bangladeshis here in Singapore because no Singaporean would want to work under those conditions. This is such a sensitive topic but a couple of times I see some Facebook posts celebrating the true heroes — the construction workers from Bangladesh. There’s something really wrong here, but something just isn’t said outright either.

So if we don’t mind construction workers, are factory workers okay to be foreigners. That’s a tough question. Well it depends, some would confess. If you can hire a local, you should, they answer and just moved on. In reality the hiring process isn’t as simple as imagined. There can be hires for entirely new roles and hires that are for replacements for positions emptied — maybe the previous dude left, or something. Typically the latter will require more urgency to fill since everyday that position goes unfilled, there’s reduction of overall productivity.

Argh! A little cognitive dissonance here

We recognize issues of employment. We want better positions for Singaporean if we are the ones getting hired. If we are bosses, we want the position to be quickly filled up at a good price. There are more people looking to get hired than hiring so the xenophobic voice is slightly louder.

At the same time those people getting hired understand that they don’t want to be in construction too. Reason they give — we didn’t study a paper on marketing to go into construction. Hello there, the Filipino house servants we hire didn’t study a degree in homemaking, I met one with biochemistry.

Reality check

We like to think ourselves to be better than others. We feel we deserve a pay better than others. However we cannot ignore the fact that others think the same too. We are the ones who create a system where foreigners come in to take up jobs to spur our economy. There’s no easy way to revert this plan and still keep up with our growth rate.

The best part is that the vocal ones are beginning to understand this as well. So they say, okay okay, foreigners here are welcomed to stay but we don’t want too much new foreigners. Also it’s not me, it’s my government, they didn’t build enough train stations and our MRTs are getting way too squeezy!


There are some people who hate foreigners, they are being led by people who are trying to advance their own goals. The vocal ones have vested interests and xenophobia is an issue that is sensitive and it is one of those things that you can be aware of but cannot have a proper public discussion. They’re entrapping the government for a discussion. Any action or inaction would lead to at least some negative consequences. This however is a good opportunity to come clean with our needs. Try to ask five whys before you give your opinions. Discuss them with your peers. Get validation.

Tiny notes over a sense of belonging in Singapore

I am convinced that most Singaporeans are prouder to be in Singapore than I am. There’s this sense of belonging most Singaporeans have that didn’t seem come as natural to me as it did for others. It got me thinking about leaving Singapore experience what it is like working overseas because that’s what people tell me — you go overseas few years la then sure you miss Singapore one.

So someone from the US pointed this out to me yesterday that in his country, ignoring the party lines, there are people who would just bitch and bitch about America and then continue to be proud of USA. And how it works is that they have the sense of ownership over American and this gives them to right to critique about her.

And my mind’s just blown, although save yourself from imagining that, I know you love to see that. There are two separate things really:

1. A sense of belonging VS a sense of ownership

Ah, the word play. It seemed like, at least to me, that I belonged to Singapore and that would somewhat imply Singapore owns me. This is opposed to what the American dude thinks, he likes they it’s their America, they collectively owned America. I would previously never dare say sense of ownership to describe anything Singapore, it felt brazen.

All this while I am searching for things that make me feel I belong to the country and it takes a conversation to make me realize I don’t have to, I own the country. It is my country. So get off my lawn, will you? Okay, mow it before you leave, thanks.

2. The relationship between criticism and ownership

Supposed I am a fashion designer, I design and manufacture these shirts and blouses and pants and everything. I wear my own clothes and I let others wear the clothes I designed too. Once in a while I would sit and reflect, hey, the white buttons gotta go it’s really ugly. I feel I have the right to say that because I make the clothes. If others were to tell me the white buttons aren’t pretty enough, I will get offended. I think that really is what People’s Action Party (PAP) thinks for many years. (PS: I love the white outfit.) When people start complaining about Singapore being the way she is, her designers felt betrayed.

But, it’s a good thing to critique. And if you feel you own the country, it leaves little wrong to criticize. I would also go a step further to say that the more you critique the more you feel that this is your country due to the time invested on babbling away at common areas. People will have the perception that Singapore mattered to you a lot and you in return have to live up to the impression that you have created. Criticism ends up reinforcing your sense of ownership.

Side note: The Hong Lim Park Speakers’ Corner speech of February 16, 2013

I do not agree with the points discussed. I do however like that people are sharing their opinions and listening to each other. This is yet another critical milestone for my country. All I see is love, baby, all I see is love.

Clapping in planes

Did you know that in America, when the plane lands successfully, there are almost claps all the time? (On side note, if the plane fails to land, no one will be able to clap. Hurhur, humor gets dark.)

Anyway, I ask the passenger next to me to get an explanation. They just felt thankful that it’s landed safely or smoothly. “Wow! We don’t really do that in my country,” I added. And he asked, “no claps? then what’s there?”

“I don’t know. Everyone just turns on their phone, or something. Or grab their baggage. Or try to be the first out of the plane.”

Really it’s about expressing appreciation. I think there’s not enough people doing it here in Singapore. The clapping of hands in the plane is probably not even heard by the pilots in the cockpit. I’m certain the passengers weren’t simply clapping to congratulate the pilot for his or her smooth landing. The Americans — at least some are — are just genuinely pleased that they’ve had a safe flight and are showing their unreserved appreciation to the crew in general.

Even if the pilot doesn’t hear it, the crew members might just praise the pilot, adding that there were claps. This form of encouragement goes a long way and it’s ascertains what you are doing is right. Do that more to please others when they deserved it, compliments are free.

Happy 2013

2013 is going to be an exciting new year. I haven’t got much to talk about in terms of resolutions, after all 2012 has been a great year in general and I’m thankful for the opportunity that came to me.

New company, well kinda

I left Cherry Credits a while back seeking to do something different. I landed on a JavaScript role which will be interesting for me. I’ve always been somewhat a generalist, a full-stack developer, and this role requires me to concentrate on JavaScript, mainly Backbone.js.

Community involvement

I would like to have more involvement in local communities (in Singapore). It could be anything really, but I would prefer a technology slant as always. Because things are so vague I cannot write much but it’s definitely something that I will be pursuing as a personal project in the upcoming year.


I will try to go to at least 5 countries this year, including transit stops! I haven’t been able to travel as much as today. My parents never brought me on a holiday before and when I started earning money, unsurprisingly that’s the first thing I want to do — to travel. This year, the key place might be Dominican Republic, but we’ll see.


I read too much; I should write more. I like how writing slows down my reading and consolidates a lot of what I read. Without jotting things down I’m just reading and forgetting. Sometimes I wanted to refer back to articles I read before but I have almost no way of uncovering them. Pocket is definitely going to be a useful tool for this project.

Singaporeans are the most emotionless

Channel News Asia reported that Singapore is ranked as the most emotionless society in the world. Yet another honor our country of 5 million clinch.

Singapore has been ranked as the most emotionless society in the world, according to a Bloomberg News report on a Gallup survey.

“If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” Gallup partner Jon Clifton was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.”

According to the report, not many Singaporeans answered “yes” to negative questions, and to questions measuring happiness, such as, had they smiled yesterday, had they learnt something interesting or felt respected or well-rested?

Only 36 per cent of Singaporeans responded affirmatively to either the positive or negative questions.

According to Gallup’s research, only 2 per cent of the country’s workers feel engaged by their jobs. The global average is 11 per cent.

So is it true? That Singaporeans are emotionless? I will claim that our lives are too stable and we don’t face enough ups and downs to sway our emotions in either directions. Also, Singaporeans aren’t assertive enough. This might lead to people just kinda sit on the fence on questions like this.

Lady Gaga song in National Day Parade

Here is one of Singapore’s more cringe-inducing moments. Someone decided it’s a good idea to change Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance into a song about National Day Parade 2011 door gifts. Well it didn’t quite work out. Time and again I open this video to relive the moment of awkwardness. I feel our nation owes Lady Gaga an apology for this. It’s embarrassing and we aren’t at our proudest.

Take a look at the lyrics though, see what they emphasized. Apparently a lot of effort is made to localize an imported song to make it ours. The song embodied our nation’s general strategy — to take what’s proven outside and give it a local spin. There’s Newater, there’s coffee Kopi-O, so what went wrong? It just didn’t blend — saucy song with cheesy lyrics, unless you are PSY with Gangnam Style, you can’t pull it off.

Here are the lyrics:

Time for the fun pack song
We like the fun pack song

Let’s start with the bag
That’s right, grab your bag
It’s the fun pack bag
Attack the fun pack


Hold up your flag, don’t you forget
You can wave it if you feel like it
Let’s wave the flag
Wave wave wave
Let’s wave the flag
Take out your light stick, it’s two of a kind
It’s interactive, means you can join
Just pretend
Oh oh oh… It’s a disco


You know that I want you
And you know that I need you
I want a wet, wet tissue

I want Newater and I want a cold drink
You and me, let’s share a bit
I want a biscuit and I want a sweet
You and me, let’s share this treat

Time for the fun pack song
We like the fun pack song

Let’s start with the bag
That’s right, grab your bag
It’s the fun pack bag
Attack the fun pack

I want Newater and I want a cold drink
You and me, let’s share a bit
I want a biscuit and I want a sweet
You and me, let’s share this treat

Time for the fun pack song
We like the fun pack song

Let’s start with the bag
That’s right, grab your bag
It’s the fun pack bag
Attack the fun pack!

How much is a cleaner paid in Singapore?

ChannelNewsAsia reveals how much cleaners are earning in Singapore.

Cleaners in some sectors can expect to take home a bigger pay packet and enjoy higher starting basic salaries of between S$1,000 and S$1,200, as part of efforts to raise productivity through the Progressive Wage Model (PWM).

They make up more than half of the near 70,000 local and foreign cleaners in the industry here.

Currently, cleaners in these positions earn between S$675 and S$950.

So the answer is about 1000 SGD. Honestly it is hard to survive with a 1000 SGD salary in Singapore. Cost of living is high and with 1000 SGD, you will be deprive of many activities. I shan’t go into that.