Thursday, February 23, 2017

Water a necessity - shouldn't Govt bear cost for it?

[Water tariffs are increasing. Let the complaints begin!

Oh here's one!]

ST Forum

Forum writer Ng Chun Jin has not heard of many countries or cities that would raise water charges by so much.

23 Feb 2017

The Government, by proposing a 30 per cent tax hike, clearly views water as an economic good rather than a basic necessity. This is a disconnect in principle that requires further examination.

The United Nations, on July 28, 2010, acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Don't overburden escalators by walking on them

[I had this in Draft for a few weeks. then this letter in defence of his "right" to use the escalator as an assisted "Stair Master" appeared yesterday. But here's the background - an earlier letter and a researched article.]

Here’s why ST forum letter about not walking on escalators may actually be a logical one

December 21, 2016
TL;DR walking on the escalator is wearing it out, and is also a potential safety hazard. 
Guan Zhen Tan
We are pretty familiar with the onslaught of outrageous forum letters sent to The Straits Times.
However, a forum letter that received some traction on Dec. 21, and subsequently panned, might actually be, for once, quite logical.
In case you haven’t seen it, ST’s letter online is titled, “Don’t overburden escalators by walking on them”.
On hindsight, this sounds like yet another classic case of Singaporeans grumbling to the mainstream press for nothing. 

Stand aside: Walking up and down escalators benefits health, brain age


JANUARY 12, 2017

I am writing in response to Mr Timothy Tang’s letter, “Rushing on escalators a bad habit that should be discouraged” (Jan 10), where he mentions that moving quickly on the steps of escalators is stressful to the joints, and should be avoided by those with weak legs. And the practice of keeping left on escalators to clear a path for those who wish to move faster should be reconsidered.

However, my opinion is that walking on escalators is good for you.

I am encouraged to exercise vigorously for a few minutes several times a day, and since I have a desk-bound job, the escalators at MRT stations and malls serve to keep me active to a small degree — exercising my heart, legs and lungs. Surely, this is better than standing still on the moving steps?

[You know what would be even better? Taking the FREAKING STAIRS, YOU LAZY EXCUSE MAKING ASS!]

In Sweden, they turned a staircase into a giant working piano keyboard, so that people can make musical notes while moving up and down, promoting exercise. In Singapore, then, our modern transport network could not possibly be actively encouraging inertia?

My body was tested to the extreme last week on the Holborn, the undergound line in central London. There were four long escalators with a vertical height of 24m to reach street level.

A 2002 study on the London Underground’s escalators found that the standing-only side of an escalator can carry a maximum of 54 people per minute, while the walking side can carry a maximum of 66 people per minute.

A further report found that brain age improves by 0.58 years in individuals who climb at least one extra flight of stairs a day — perhaps not relevant in my advancing years. To those on the escalators, please keep to the left (or right, if you are in London) as I whizz past — do not stand in the way of (my health’s) progress.

[So if you are going to the gym, do you take the escalator or the stairs in the picture above?

Below, the letter he was replying to.]

Rushing on escalators a bad habit that should be discouraged


JANUARY 10, 2017

The practice of keeping left on escalators to clear a path for those who wish to move faster should be reconsidered. Rushing on escalators is a bad habit and should not be encouraged.

Keeping left can cause unnecessary crowding at the entrance of escalators, while standing on both sides can ease the congestion.

Rushing on escalators can also put other commuters at risk if someone falls. It can also cause escalators to wear out more easily from the impact. Why not be more punctual, rather than rush up and down?

Walking down steps is also stressful for the joints, and should be avoided by those with weak legs. Even world-class tennis players suffer from joint pain due to overuse of their joints.

We should take our time and not rush, especially on shopping mall escalators, where we are supposed to relax.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Singaporeans are ageing fast — let’s get planning

[This is quite a bit late - a letter from June. Better publish it before the end of the year. What can I say? Getting old.]

Ku Swee Yong

June 10, 2016

I am not bringing up this subject because I see my hairline receding rapidly or because I need bifocals.

As highlighted in my latest book, Weathering a Property Downturn, if we took a snapshot of Singapore’s population tree in 2015 and assumed that the population was with us all the while (that is, no inward or outward migration), 400,000 residents celebrated their 60th birthdays between 2006 and 2015, and in the next 10-year period between 2016 and 2025, more than 600,000 residents will celebrate their 60th year on earth.

Our resident population in 2015 was 3.9 million, of which 700,000, or 18 per cent, were already over 60 years of age. If we froze the population based on the 2015 demographics and accounting for about 19,000 a year for residents who pass away, by the year 2025 at least 30 per cent of us will be older than 60. That equates to more than 1.1 million Singapore residents.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Depositors have no say in banks' business activities

Aug 10 2016

I am surprised by Mr Christopher Tang Wai Leng's view that DBS Bank owes depositors an explanation for its loan losses ("DBS must explain Swiber debacle"; last Saturday).

Yes, in classic banking theory, banks lend out their customers' deposits, so if there is a big loan loss, a bank could fold and it is possible that customers won't be able to get their deposits back. However, this theory is long out of date.

A bank is a corporate entity separate from its customers (both depositors and borrowers).

As long as customers can get their deposits back with the agreed interest, which is still the case with DBS, depositors have no say in the business activities of the bank.

Banks have capital, profits and reserves, their own borrowing ability, and even a possible government bailout, with which to first fund losses (well before getting to deposits).

If anyone, it is the bank's shareholders who deserve, or have a right to ask for, an explanation, certainly not its depositors or other customers.

Gerard de Vaz

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Create fun TV programmes to educate public on how to recycle


JUNE 9, 2016

It is a bad idea to make residents “pay as you throw” in order to reduce waste (“Pay as you throw among ideas to cut down waste in Singapore”; June 4).

First, it would raise the high cost of living and send stress levels here even higher. That surely cannot be a good thing.

Second, littering is already a problem in Singapore. If we have to pay as we throw, unclaimed and anonymous rubbish would probably be more prevalent.

A more effective and meaningful way to encourage recycling and to cut waste here is to educate the public and create awareness of this subject through interesting programmes on Channels 5 and 8 during prime time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Singlish must not be allowed to displace Standard English

MAY 25, 2016

I agree that the Government cannot afford to ease up on its strict stance on Singlish ("PM's press secretary rebuts NYT op-ed on Singlish"; yesterday).

Singlish has indeed taken on a life of its own, and has flourished as a vernacular with a distinctly Singaporean heritage. We use and flaunt it like a badge of national pride.

While poet and literary critic Gwee Li Sui, in his opinion piece on Singlish published in the International New York Times, said that even politicians and officials use Singlish, I believe most do so with an awareness of the specific context and register that Singlish should be used in.

It is often used to establish an instant rapport with the audience, as it transcends barriers of race and social class.