Saturday, 17 November 2018

Forum: The poor do not care about income inequality

While Professor Linda Lim offered interesting insights in her commentary, I cannot help but wonder if all the focus on indicators like the Gini coefficient is missing the point (Psychological factors may explain resistance to more redistribution; Nov 6).

Indeed, could income inequality be a red herring?

The poor do not care about income inequality. They care about affording basic necessities and having a chance to provide a better life for themselves and their families.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has put it very well. What we need to ensure is that everyone is on an ever-ascending escalator (To tackle inequality, ensure everyone is progressing: Tharman; Oct 26). So long as lives are substantially improving, no one really cares about inequality.

In fact, inequality is beneficial in that it motivates one to work harder to achieve higher incomes.

It is all right if someone else can skip a step up the escalator as that also creates more room for others to ascend.

Yet some have fallen off the escalator while others have remained stationary. These are the real problems we need to focus on.

Globalisation brings about winners and losers. We need to do more to help the losers and, in fact, avoid having anyone lose out.

I suggest that we should regularly review and tweak our foreign worker and immigration policies. While they have helped to speed up the escalator, they have also resulted in a far more crowded escalator.

Where training and education are concerned, we also need to be more aggressive in giving a leg-up to those from low-income families.

It is not just direct training and education costs but also the opportunity costs - for example, in terms of loss of income - that can be a major hindrance in improving skills and education.

The Government should pledge that no Singaporean who is willing and able to improve his skills will be denied the opportunity to do so as a result of socio-economic circumstances. Community development councils should also play a role to ensure this.

Kelvin Hong


Is it OK to hold your pee

How your kidneys work

Your urine is more than the drink you had a few hours ago. Sure, the yellowish liquid has excess water that your body does not need but it also contains waste that your kidneys filter from the blood, such as urochrome, a pigmented blood product that gives urine its colour, as well as urea (a waste product when protein gets broken down), creatinine (another waste product but from the normal breakdown of muscle), the by-products of bile from the liver, ammonia, and salts.

When the bladder fills up with urine, it sends a signal to the brain that it is time to pee. The brain creates the urge to urinate, and at the same time, instructs the bladder to hold on. That usually works out fine while you go in search of a bathroom. But with age, hormonal changes, pregnancy and muscle laxity, especially in the pelvic floor muscles, leakages can sometimes happen despite your best effort to hold it in.

In short, if you are healthy, not pregnant, and do not have diabetes, you should not worry if you have to hold it in once in a while. If you have to, do not do it for more than three hours in the day. At night, your body secretes a hormone that pauses the kidneys’ production of urine when you sleep.

Holding your pee too long 
  • Will not burst the bladder but may stretch it in long term. This may make it difficult or impossible for the bladder to contract and release pee normally.
  • No evidence to say you cannot hold your pee. In fact, pee training is used by patients who have been diagnosed with overactive bladders by releasing the pee at a certain schedule.
  • There may be an increase in urinary tract infections (UTI).
  • Not holding your pee may cause urinary incontinence if you often go to the bathroom before you feel the urge to urinate. Over time, your body learns that even with less volume in the bladder, you feel the urge to go, leading to more frequent visits to the toilet.
  • Diabetics may encounter diabetic cystopathy, where the affected nerves to the bladder do not let the bladder contract well, leading to incomplete emptying.


Dishwashing subsidy extended to stallholders at new hawker centres: NEA

Image for illustration only

A subsidy for dishwashing service will be extended to stallholders at the seven new hawker centres from next year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Friday (Nov 16). They are
  • Ci Yuan in Hougang, 
  • Bukit Panjang, 
  • Kampung Admiralty, 
  • Yishun Park, 
  • Jurong West, 
  • Pasir Ris Central and 
  • Hawker Centre @ Our Tampines Hub 

Starting Jan 1, 2019, NEA will co-fund the cost of a centralised dishwashing service with stallholders at these hawker centres, at 50% for the first year and 30% for the second year, it said in a media release.

Currently, only stallholders at older hawker centres that have adopted a centralised dishwashing service get the subsidy under the Productive Hawker Centres programme.


Higher fees for students enrolling in polytechnics, ITE Nitec courses in 2019

Students enrolling in polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education (ITE) will have to pay higher school fees, according to the schools' websites.

1. Singapore citizens to pay $2,900 - a S$100 increase
2. Permanent residents (PR) to pay S$5,800, an increase of S$200
3. International students will have to pay S$10,400, an increase of S$400.


a) Full-time Nitec courses

1. Singapore citizens to pay S$426, up by S$20
2. PRs to pay S$5,328 - a S$305 increase
3. International students to pay S$14,370, up by S$888.

b) Full-time Higher Nitec courses

1. Singapore citizens to pay S$626
2. PR to pay S$7,838, S$5 more
3. International students to pay S$20,480

Read more @

My photo - London cab

a public domain photo by me

PSLE results to be released on Nov 22, 2018

The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results for 2018 will be released on Nov 22, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said.

Students may obtain their results from their respective primary schools from 11am, MOE said in a press release on Thursday (Nov 15).

Eligible students will receive option forms to select secondary schools when they collect their result slips. The forms can be submitted through the student's primary school.

Alternately, students can use the unique S1 Personal Identification Number (S1 PIN) on the form to submit their school options online from 11am next Thursday to 3pm on Nov 28 through MOE's website.