Much to think about


PSLE

A week ago, my younger son got his PSLE results. I must congratulate him on doing very well – he even managed to score a B for his 2nd language. Like his older brother, both of them did a 2nd language that has nothing to do with the politically-biased term “mother tongue”. The older brother did Malay and the younger chap, Mandarin.

I am glad that the Ministry of Education decided against releasing information about the top scorers, schools etc. It will defuse the unneeded attention to an examination that has very little bearing on the rest of the life of the child.

What remains is the further reduction of emphasis on 2nd language and let them focus on the Math and Science which are far more important to the future of this country than 2nd language.

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SMRT, Minister of Transport, NTUC

Earlier this week, a bunch of bus drivers of the SMRT went on strike. The SMRT (who refers to them as “service leaders” which in itself is interesting as the rest of the world call them one and the employer calls them another), discriminates the salary paid based on the driver’s nationality. How absolutely silly is that? Our labour laws allow for that kind of discrimination?

It used to be that the Transport Minister will be front and center for all things transport related. I think he has finally figured out that it looks absolutely silly to be doing that when there is a CEO and related management to handle it for the various transport service providers. Which brings to question as to why the CEO of SMRT was not answering instead someone lower down the hierarchy of SMRT was the face to the media. Clever way to keep the buck in the lower rungs.

For what it’s worth, the drivers strike has ended with four of the strikers being allegedly arrested (or being questioned) by the police because the strikers are deemed to have held an illegal strike.  The rules for striking have a two week notice period which I think is a good way to trigger urgent talks between all the aggrieved parties. Communication and engagements help to diffuse and resolve issues for which I think the two week notice period is a good “cooling’ period. Since these drivers are probably not aware of the laws of the land they are working in (it could be that in China no such rules exist), it cannot be cited as an excuse to behave in the manner they did in calling for the strike.  I’ve heard in other situations where excuses were offered that “Oh, I don’t know English so I don’t know what to do”, mostly by those from China. That is the lamest excuse that there is. If you choose to live/work in this country, the onus is on you to understand the local laws and not claim ignorance, least of which to use not understanding English as the shield. I am sure we have come across  workers in the service industry (food courts, shops) who don’t understand a word of English when spoken to.

I am reminded of a incident in 1991 or 1992 when I was working on a IT project. We were in a meeting we had the contract programmers (all from China) who were to explain what they were working on and the progress being made. One of them switched to Mandarin only to be told by the project manager to stop doing it and to switch to English.  The programmer’s reply was that “It is the Speak Mandarin month, so Mandarin should be fine”. He had to be told that those campaigns are not for implementation in the workplace and that work place language is English and that’s the way it will be, LKY’s failed social engineering not withstanding.

In all of this drama, where was the so called national trades union? The silence of their secretary general, a “minister without portfolio in the prime minister’s office” was deafening. Perhaps he did say something, but because it will only be on the MSM which I don’t watch or listen or read, I could have missed it. Whether the striking workers were unionized or not, if I were the SG of the “national” trades union, I will want to find out what the issue is and get it resolved.

The PAP led trades union, the government linked company SMRT (with a ceo who is a former army general!!) and the foreign worker policies of the PAP-led government has come together in a perfect storm of epic fail.

General Elections 2016: we need you NOW.

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