Wednesday, February 25, 2015


[Arrest some people during the procession, see it blow up in the social media, ask why it's not a public holiday. Get an official reply. Then push for it to be made a public holiday.

Hey! I also want!

Another day off, who don't want? Even those who have to work during holidays also happy because - OVERTIME RATES! ]

Seek views on Thaipusam as a public holiday



I thank the Manpower Ministry for its letter, “Impractical to make all key festivals public holidays” (Feb 14), which explained its stance on whether Thaipusam should be a public holiday.

Indeed, in 1968, Christians and Muslims had to give up two public holidays. Both faiths were, however, left with two days: Christians have Good Friday and Christmas, and Muslims have Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.

It seems odd that Hindus, who had two days to begin with, Deepavali and Thaipusam, had to choose one instead of keeping both.

Firstly, the difference between Thaipusam and Vesakhi for the Sikhs or Lao-Tzu’s Birthday for the Taoists is that Thaipusam involves a huge procession of devotees. Designating it a public holiday could reduce traffic congestion and potential safety hazards.

[The authorities DID NOT tell the Hindus: "You have to give up Thaipusam." The Hindus considered the two important days to their religion and decided Deepavali was more important. And that they can work around Thaipusam not being a public holiday. The question is, do we want to re-open the issue or ask the Hindus to decide if they want to stick with Deepavali or change to Thaipusam.

And yes, traffic congestion is a major consideration for public holidays. We should make the week preceding the F1 race a Golden Week Public Holiday.]

Secondly, Hindus make up 5 per cent of the resident population, a sizeable number compared to the Sikhs. The Taoists, who form 11 per cent of our population, have also petitioned previously for Lao-Tzu’s Birthday to be a public holiday.

Perhaps, designating a public holiday for religions that comprise 5 per cent of the resident population is a better way of ensuring religious harmony.

Finally, it is one thing to say from an official standpoint that the status quo maintains harmonious living, but I hope the ministry would seek opinions on Thaipusam from employers, employees, Hindus and people of other faiths.

I am confident that many non-Hindus here would support designating Thaipusam as a public holiday, and if a majority on the ground does, it would show Singapore’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious solidarity and society.

[Merits of ANOTHER public holiday? Seek views of public as to whether Thaipusam should be a public holiday?

While you are at it, why don't you ask really controversial questions like: "Do you want Free Money?" in addition to this moral conundrum: "Do you want ANOTHER public holiday?"

Yes, I am CONFIDENT too that if you ask ANYBODY if he wants one more public holiday, they will all say yes. Unless they are crazy. 

BUT to be fair, I think if we let Hindus have TWO public holidays, than Christians and Muslims should have one more public holiday each. And yes, the Taoist and the Buddhists and heck, the Chinese too.

I am CONFIDENT that many non-(whatever) will support more public holidays. Because in our multi-racial, multi-religious, racially harmonious society, we all want to celebrate each other's important festivals appropriately. i.e. resting at home.]

More public holidays may be better



I refer to the Manpower Ministry’s letter, “Impractical to make all key festivals public holidays” (Feb 14). Perhaps, the consideration is how it could be hard for Singapore to be competitive if we have too many holidays.

Our fierce economic competitor, Hong Kong, has 17 public holidays, though, and the Chinese territory has no problems remaining one of Asia’s best economies, often beating Singapore in economic rankings.

[Yes. I googled "Singapore HK Economics" and these are some of the results:

"Hong Kong’s economy grew 2.3 per cent in 2014, while Singapore’s expanded 2.9 per cent."

See? The writer is right! with just 6 more public holidays, HK's economy only lost to SG by 0.6%! Or only about 0.1% per holiday! We can afford that right?]

Unlike Hong Kong, Singapore is multiracial. So during this Chinese New Year, for example, those from the other races might be working.

This is true for services that must run throughout the holidays, such as public transport, our airport, the checkpoints and some supermarkets.

[So... in HK, during public holidays, all these essential services STOP? wow. I did not know that.]

Hong Kong, as a homogenous territory, has the luxury of providing holidays for both major and minor occasions; the residents take their breaks and return to work refreshed.

Perhaps, overworked Singaporeans would be better off having holidays that make everyone happy. Every racial community is an important cog in our economy.

[OK, now you are starting to lose me. First you say that SG multi-racial so more holidays ok because OTHERS will be working. NOW you say HK homogeneous so holiday, EVERYBODY rest and come back refreshed. Which is it?]

With less annual leave left, just so they can attend an important religious or cultural occasion, some Singaporeans may end up feeling less refreshed.

Further, more holidays means that the ever-important and growing tourism industry has more reasons to bring in foreign visitors.

[OK, now you are just sounding desperate to make your case. What about all the SG going overseas and spending money in other countries? And SG already so crowded! You want more foreigners here?!?]

For example, Thaipusam is a crowd-puller in Malaysia. Were it made a public holiday in Singapore, with the entire road for Hindu Singaporeans to perform their procession, there may be many tourists preferring Singapore as a holiday destination instead.

[I will leave it to the Hindus to decide if they want to be insulted that their religious practice is to be turned into a tourist attraction. Next: "True Confessions!" Webcams to be installed in Catholic Confessionals. Especially those in churches next to convent schools or CJC.]

But it seems we want workers to work more days when it would be better to earn the tourist dollar, let our Hindu friends enjoy their religious festival, and for the rest of us, a well-deserved break.

The ministry should rethink this issue. What happened in 1968 is no longer relevant; we may have needed to make compromises then for our young nation to become an Asian Tiger, but we are at the top now.

More holidays does not necessarily mean a slow or weaker economy as Hong Kong has demonstrated.

[Sorry. Debunked. See chart below. Since 1989, SG (red bars) have consistently been better than HK (blue bars.]

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