Sunday, 13 August 2017

Grab's success spells downhill for Cabby.


A year ago, Mr Anothny Tan, founder and CEO of Grab, while celebrating his investor and global partner @Didi Chuxing‘s successes in China, told his staff, among other things that:

“Didi’s success reinforces what I believed all along. That a team that lives and breathes the markets it operates in makes a difference. Because our users are also people whom we care about – our families, our neighbours, our friends. And not just some digits presented on a business dashboard at the other side of the world in a different time-zone.

We must listen and put ourselves in the shoes of our users and partners. And ultimately deliver the best passengers transport solution in this region has ever had.”  (Link)

These are Wise Words from a young man

Anthony Tan, a Harvard Business School graduate, is brilliant and enterprising. He probably has the family gene as a grandson of Tan Chong Motor’s boss. While still a student at Harvard, he drew up a business plan for an Uber-like service that won his university school awards and backing from angel investors.

Anthony Tan knew from the beginning that he sells no physical product, only an idea and application that connects the user and the provider through internet technology. His role is only a middle man and the initial period was tough with many sceptics. He also knew that ultimately, the success of his enterprise depends solely on the user (commuter) and provider (driver) willingness to participate in his scheme.

Unlike many ivory tower bosses, Anthony has an intimate feel of the earth he farms. He knows exactly what he needs to do to get his business to a great start.

Firstly, he gets his managers to drinks coffee with taxi drivers at street stalls to hear their motivation and talks to commuters to understand their frustrations in hailing for taxis.

Then he gets his battalion of foot soldiers to recruit taxi drivers at food stalls, coffee shops, taxi stands, airport terminals and shopping malls through face-to-face sweet sales talks and enticements like free non-alcoholic drinks and easy-to-win gifts. An overwhelming majority of taxi drivers joined him instead of his rivals EasyTaxi, Hallo and Uber. He did the same with commuters. 

After three years of hard and smart work, Grab expanded into many South East Asian countries and raised a few billions of investment funds from famous venture capital like Temasek Holdings.

Grab wisely invested in a new R&D facility in Singapore CBD that houses 200 engineers and data scientists. They also set up new software engineering offices in tech hub Seattle to attract talents and hired the best minds like Mr. Wei Zhu ex-Facebook creator. Inevitably, Grab developed exceedingly successful new application tools and features like JustGrab, GrabPay, GrabHitch, GrabNow and ventured into money spinner GrabCar.  

Today, Grab success is beyond words and recognition. 

What has Grab progress and all its new developments got to do with a taxi driver like me?

Yes, it does and a lot!.

I think Grab had lost its human touch in its management. They had forgotten Mr. Anothny Tan's  our users are also people whom we care about – our families, our neighbours, our friends. And not just some digits presented on a business dashboard on the other side of the world in a different time-zone. 

I reckon as a young courting couple, Grab wooed me with loving attention and generous gifts. Once married, Grab sets new rules and regulations in the name of peace, harmony and progress to regulate our partnership, turning me into a powerless housewife dependent on her husband allowance for survival.


For example

As a partner, I have no say at what price I get paid for the service I provide. I cannot reject too low price jobs that would make me lose money. If my rejection rate is above 85%, my account gets terminated without hesitation.

Sad to say, many Grab taxi drivers are doing more jobs through JustGrab and driving more hours for less money. Is this right?. If you put yourself in the driver's shoe, you either choose a more reasonable price job to do or switch off the Grab application. But to turn off Grab application is suicidal as almost 80% of taxi rides are now through call bookings.

These days, street hailing jobs are much harder to find. Hence, a mind-boggling majority of the 26,000 taxi drivers have no choice but to stick with Grab like an oppressed housewife with kids.

Grab is aware of the prevailing taxis drivers' dilemma and the management staff is taking full advantage of it through its dealing with taxi drivers. I think Grab is contemplating to reduce or remove taxi drivers in their booming platform and focus on GrabCAR. You'll notice that all advertising money is spent on GrabCar, none for GrabTaxi.

Why?

Presently, there are more than 42,800 private-hire cars on Singapore roads, a figure which has overtaken the current taxi population of 26,000. With such massive numbers of Private Hire Car drivers in their fold and getting 20% commission from their ride-fare, any manager would surely want to push more jobs to these drivers than to taxi drivers whom they get only 10% cut.

Suppose a customer books a standard taxi ride, Grab gets merely a fixed 50 cents administrative charge from the driver. If a GrabCar had done this job instead of a GradTaxi, Grab would earn at least $1.00, which is double and could be higher depending on the ride fare. Simply said, Grab can make much more money from GrabCar than GrabTaxi. For this reason alone, Grab is tempted to remove the "Standard Taxi" option from their booking platform.

In around June 2013, Grab claimed to be doing one booking every eight seconds or 10,000 a day. Today, it has gone up to 100,000 a day with rivals like Hailo and EasyTaxi out of the market.

Assuming that on an average Grab collects $5 a day from a Grabtaxi driver, based on 10% commission from 10,000 taxi drivers using JustGrab, Grab would profit $50,000/day. Multiply $50,000 x 30 days a month, its $1.5 million. If taxis drivers are removed from JustGrab and all these jobs go to Private Hire Car that has a 20% commission, Grab profit would double to $3 million a month.

Like all corporate business, maximizing profit is the greatest ultimate motivator.

Who cares about过河拆桥.
A Chinese idiom that says "To destroy the bridge after crossing the river. It means to abandon one's benefactor upon achieving one's goal.

Now, Grab does not fancy taxi drivers!. They are like COMFORT, getting rid of taxi drivers at the slightest mistake they made or a customer feedback or trivial complaint.

Grab is unfeeling like a robot and lets machines manage their relations and dealings with drivers. When a driver rejects most jobs offered to him and his acceptance rating drops miserably low or when a customer triggers a feedback or complaint on their website, the driver's account is instantly de-activated (suspended) without warning nor explanation. The driver could be fetching a passenger when his/her account suddenly gets deactivated, resulting in driver unable to collect the fare and passenger unable to make a further booking.

Recently, I had the exact upsetting experience when a customer feedback to Grab that my taxi number plate was different from that shown in my booking application. My account was suspended instantly without notice or warning.

On calling and speaking to an Indian national on the phone, I was told to submit an appeal through their website, with nobody knowing the reason for my suspension. How could I submit an appeal and defend myself if I'm oblivious of the charge for my suspension?. Meanwhile, Grab withheld my earning of about $500 indefinitely without regard to my financial needs.

After 4 days and upon knowing the reason for my suspension, I re-appealed and explained that I was driving SMRT's TaxiShare that allows a driver to book and drive their taxis AS and WHEN we like. without a rental contract.

Under this flexible rental scheme, booking of taxis is on a first come, first serve basis and subject to taxi availability. I could be driving the same model of Toyota Pirus for four days with four different taxi number plate. I usually call my customer when my number plate is different from that shown on the booking application before I pick them up. Most of my customers appreciate my advance notice and my service rating is close to perfection at 4.87 out of a maximum of 5.

I wonder why a customer would be unhappy when the only change is the taxi number plate while the taxi driver, taxi model and taxi fare remain unchanged.

Nevertheless, Grab should not have suspended my account indiscriminately without first checking with me. Worst, they demanded that I drop by their office at Midview for investigation by their disciplinary officer, who refused to tell me the reason for the investigation and my suspension.

Honestly, I'm deeply distressed by the unprofessional work attitude of Grab ground staffs and is prepared to leave GrabTaxi even if proven that I've not committed any offence against my customer. A week had passed with my earnings withheld and I'm still waiting for Grab's decision.

How could Mr. Anothny Tan allows such a harsh and robotic management style to prevails in his company when he is a strong advocate of the human touch. What happens to his values and vision of friendly tenet in his company?

When strong competitors like Uber is slow;y abandoning taxi driver too to focus on private hire car business, Grab now completely dominates the "taxi" trade and is monopolistic. They are no different from COMFORT whose authoritarian style of management is well known among taxi drivers.

I hope a brave investor will come to give Grab a wake-up call like the way Grab shook-up COMFORT and the local taxi industry three years ago.

There is certainly room for another Grab-like service here.





Sunday, 16 July 2017

Is Uber/Grab Good or Bad? Whatever, COMFORT is rotten.



I just received the following Whatsapp message from my taxi buddies:

Quote:

Dear Comrades Taxi Drivers,

Prices of water, electricity, bus and train fares will be going up soon.  But a third party app provider, Grab has now controlled all taxi companies except Comfort and set taxi fares.  That is not correct. PTC has allowed the taxi companies to set the taxi fares and not a third party app provider.

Grab has reduced the taxi fares so much that it is cheaper to call a taxi than to queue at taxi stands or flag down taxis.  Comfort has also started fixed fares but they have kept their rates at the current prices inclusive of surcharges.

Comrades don't let Grab fool you with the incentives.  If you do your Maths, you will realise that you lose more when you pick up JustGrab jobs.  They are forcing you to do the jobs with the Acceptances rates.

Amidst the competition between Grab, Comfort and Uber,  taxi drivers are the end losers.

Grab is now reaping huge profits.  Grab is not interested in the drivers welfare.  Grab had promise more jobs with Grab pay.

Ask yourself How many jobs can you do with an hour?
At the most 3 or 4.

Taxi drivers are not robots who should drive around collecting cheap fares.

You should not allow Grab to exploit you with cheap fares.
How can Grab set the same fares for cars and taxis when there is so much a difference in the rental rates.

Basically, Grab has set low fares to pull customers away from Uber and Comfort. Grab is not reaping huge profits but at the expenses of taxi drivers.

Did Grab consult taxi drivers before setting the fares?

Several emails have been sent to them on this matter but they just refused to address the issues.

Grab has gone further to remove classifications of drivers and had given no thought for drivers who had come a long way with Grab from day one.

If Grab is really interested in the drivers' welfare then they should do away with the Acceptance rate and just give the incentives as long as you hit the target.  But their intention is for you to drop below the AC rate so that they don't have to pay you.

Comrades Taxi Driver, don't let Grab fool you and exploit you with their incentives and medisave payments which are not substantial to cover the losses from the JustGrab jobs"




I instantly responded as follows:

Dear Comrades Taxi Drivers,

Grab/Uber has dethroned COMFORT as "tai-core" (big -brother) and I think it's a good thing.

For years, COMFORT has been ill-treating their drivers because they are a monopolist company like a dictator. They call the shots in the taxi industry as they command 90 percent of the taxi fleet on Singapore roads.

They never look after their drivers' welfare or improve their operating system as most of the staff are old dead woods adverse to changes. Worse still, at the slightest trivial mistake or customer complaint, they sack their driver arbitrarily without hesitation. They only listen to and accept the customers' complaints without question or proper investigation. Heaven forbids, they even reward customers with taxi vouchers if a complaint is successful.

As a COMFORT's driver, we never heard of incentives except if you become their slaves as a hirer.

Now Grab/Uber at least incentivize you if you work harder and achieve certain targets.

Look, nobody puts a gun to your head to force you to take Grab/Uber call jobs. Ignore their call jobs if they are not worthwhile or profitable.

I never do their $5 or $6 call job. As a driver, I take only call jobs which are reasonable or profitable.

Don't worry brothers/sisters....Grab/Uber will eventually increase taxi fares because their present operation is not sustainable....they are running at a lost at this moment.

On hindsight, I don't even have these call jobs before Grab/Uber enter the market except when you're a COMFORT driver.

I must thank Grab/Uber but hope they will set taxi fares at a level that's fairer for both the commuters and taxi drivers.

I hope Uber/Grab bankrupt COMFORT soon or more taxi drivers abandoned them and join other more supportive taxi operators or become private car drivers.
COMFORT returned taxis at one of many roof top garages
.
StraitTimes news report on 17th July 2017



Sunday, 11 June 2017

Gardening at Retirement.




In six months time, I’ll be returning my taxi vocational license back to LTA as I would surely fail the compulsory 70 year old medical test at Tan Tock Seng Hospital due to glaucoma.

So, Congratulations, I’m ready to retire from driving and working. I’ve spent the last ten years driving people to work, play and whatnot and also a lifetime taking care of my family.

Is now the right time to retire? But what if retirement turns out to be too easy with nothing much to do and boring? 

On hindsight, I'm glad I started planing about a year back on what I want to do when the dreadful day finally comes, so that I'm ready for a smooth and happy transition with fulfilling activities. 

There are hundred of ways to stay busy and engaged with life at retirement.

To name a few:

. find another easy job,
. do volunteer work,
. start a business, 
. travel,
. start a hobby,
. do physical activity like swimming, jogging,
. learn new things like cooking, art painting or gardening. 

For a starter, I've decided on gardening.

I'm a novice in gardening with no formal education or training in farming or plant science. I've no knowledge about soil and fertilizers, pests, diseases or best practices to produce great flowers and food crops. But I always believe that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. Therefore, my ignorance is no deterrent because I can access a wealth of free knowledge and advice from the Internet and Facebook groups like SG Container Gardening & Vertical Farming, Urban Farming and many others.

I love nature, trees and plants especially beautiful flowers but never thought of planting them. I stay in an ordinary HDB apartment without the luxury of a plot of land, lawn or balcony. But I've two meters wide and five meters long common corridor with about six hours of morning sunlight. 

More importantly, I've a wonderful young couple neighbor who empathizes with this old man's need to keep himself busy with fulfilling activities. No worries, my corridor is always neat and clean with no stagnant water. My only worry is trouble from my town council.

Please allow me to share my gardening journey with you.

Through the years at my present dwelling, I had collected a few beautiful antique looking clay pots discarded at my neighborhood junk bins. I never used them.

A year back, I found the inspiration to do something with them. I created my first real gardening attempt. I planted a few easy growing flowering plants on them. I've no idea what are the names of those plants. When they survive and starts to bloom albeit my rough work, it brought me sweet confidence, joy and a belief I've green fingers to begin a journey of faith in gardening.

Gardening somewhat transforms my lifestyle and daily routine. Although I love nature, I was never a gardening person and my knowledge of horticulture is elementary. But on my retirement leg now I need something physically easy yet spiritually enriching. 

A month later I decided to build my gardening racks below my window so that I have more planting space. My tools and fertilizers are kept below my kitchen sink. 

After the brick racks were painted and wooden planks laid, I had no idea what to plant, where to plant, what are the plant needs and how I like my garden to look like. Every single day thereafter I spent thinking, learning from Internet resources and planning.

Initially, I scout and "stole" suitable plants and cuttings at road-sides, public parks and private estates as I drove my cab around Singapore. After a while, I found this illegal way of collection rather nerve racking and gave up.  

My original plan of growing only flowering plants was changed to include food plants for the kitchen as well as fruits. But this ambitious endeavor fails miserably. All my vegetables and fruits plant dies after germination.

So here I am. Over the months I've made a few mistakes, overcame a few, but continue to challenge myself to perfect my skills. My aim is to know all my plants and deliver the right growth conditions to them so they, in turn, reward me with beautiful and healthy flowers.

Today I have about 80 different plant types in my 'little garden'. Fortunately, most are easy to care and require little or no attention other than occasional fertilizing and pruning.
As long as I'm able to take care of my plants, I'll keep to my daily rituals of attending to their needs in exchange for the pleasure they provide me.

My pride is my garden is possibly the prettiest in my block. I like the challenge of growing my flowers from seeds or cutting instead of buying from nurseries. I take pride in arranging my plants to get the best of the sunlight. I've also learned much from internet gardening tips and resources as well as from gardening groups I joined.

I'm happy to discover this enjoyable recreation for my retirement days and I pray for many many years to look after my little garden and enjoy the "fruits" of my small labour. Gardening is fun and I encourage those who are about to retire, or already retired and with some space to develop a small garden, to start gardening. Whether its for pleasure or for food, it will help you spend your time fruitfully. I wish I's started it several years earlier but like in many other things, it's never too late. Good Luck!.



Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Compelling Confessions of a Ex-CHC Ministry Member.




By Ex-Ministry Member of CHC (City Harvest Church)

Quote:

Why I left CHC.
 I am an ex-member who had joined CHC for more than 10 years and left about 2 years ago.

This means that I have joined since Hollywood Theatre and followed them to Jurong West, Expo and eventually Suntec. Before I start, allow me to show my "credentials" from CHC.

I had/was:
*Water baptized by Pst Derek in East Coast Park.
*Served in at least 5 ministries during my time in church.
*Attained the Certificate of Christian Foundation for completing the full series of bible studies.
*Served in overseas missions, including those of crisis relief nature.
*Faithfully attended church services and CG (cell group) meetings every week.
*Tithed every month, gave offerings at least 2 times a week and participated in every Building Funds since I joined.
*Found my soul mate and married in church.
*Last held a MM (Ministry Member) membership. Yes, I went to the stage during one of the service to sign and pledge my commitment to the church in front of the congregation when I receive my MM card.

I was still a youth (Pre-NS) when I joined CHC. Back then, I was bullied in school so joining CHC literally changed my life. From no friends to having many friends and new "family members" (we referred CG members as our family or brothers and sisters in Christ).


From shy to become outspoken.
From feeling worthless (because of the bullying) to feeling that I can make a difference.

My first series of building fund was used to build the church in Jurong. Back then, it was a great dream to think that as a young student, I can contribute to build God a house. I swapped my favorite fast food for the hawker centers, order 1 meat and 1 veg instead of the usual 1 meat 2 veg for lunch. I walked home instead of taking the bus. Of course, asked my parents to give more allowance :.

I felt a great sense of achievement when we eventually built the Jurong church debt free!



Pst Kong was a very charismatic man. There's always many good testimonies about him from church members and leaders. Thus, he appears as very sincere and God-fearing to me. Coupled that with the many achievements like building the Jurong Church, setting up of community services and seeing how people's life and my own life had changed, it was without a doubt that I trust Pst. Kong fully and was a fervent believer of whatever he says.

Not long after moving to Jurong, Pst Kong announced that Sun will be entering the entertainment industry to reach out to "people who would never step into a church". Eventually, she cut her first Chinese album and there was great fanfare. Her posters were everywhere in church. People were carrying her CDs around in church to sell. We were encouraged to buy her CDs to support her just as we would "support a fellow brother/sister in Christ". People start boosting how they bought 10 CDs and give to friends and family members.

Back then, not buying her CD is akin to using a Nokia 3210 when everyone is owning a iPhone or Samsung smartphone, the peer pressure is there.

Then came the Roland Poon incident. Eventually we all knew that Poon spent $30000 to publish apologies in major newspapers. So? Poon was wrong and Pst. Kong is right, Praise God! Then Pst. Kong announced during service that no church fund was used and all expenses were covered by her royalties and that was further 'confirmed' by auditor Brother Foong in a video, Amen! That was basically the level of enthusiasm I felt from the church.

I did have some doubt at that point of time but if you can understand the state of mind I was in by reading what I had mentioned earlier, Pst Kong was like a hero to me and most of the members. Heroes don't lie right? And with the positive image that Sun put forth with all the positive messages in her Mandarin albums, it's hard not to believe whatever Pst is saying.

So where did it eventually go downhill for me? Probably at that time when Pst. Kong showed us a video of China Wine during service to showcase Sun's achievement in US. Everyone was like clapping and cheering (and so did I) but it was a little embarrassing to see Sun dressing, dancing provocatively and uttering inaudible, meaningless raps in service.

A 180 degrees turn from her Mandarin albums that I used to like. Pst. explained that Sun needs to sing and dance like this to appeal to the US audience. Apparently sappy love songs like her Mandarin albums were outdated in US at that time.

And I was there during the time when Pst. opening elevates members who delayed their weddings, sold their cars, downgraded their flats, emptied their bank account in order to give more for building fund. He also shared how he USED TO emptied his joint account and sold his car and drive the beat-up church van to give to God, and God blessed him back hundred-fold, for example how he now lived in a condo in Orchard Road [at that point of time], drives his favorite Audi A7 and having a church with an ever-increasing membership [I heard from leaders that Pst. has a liking for Audi]. The church, me including responded with cheers and claps and many "Amen"s.

It never really cross my mind [at that point of time] that Pst. Kong never really downgrade his car or house after that, despite Building Fund was still ongoing. Most of us would have attributed his wealth to the blessings of God [If Pst. is not wealthy then how can he preach about wealth right?].

So despite that, why did I still stay and give [to building funds, tithes] for so long?

For the friends I made in church.
For the my personal encounter with God.
For how my life was turned around.
Yes, for my blind faith in Pst. Kong and the rest of the church leaders.

Never mind the pressure to bring friends and family to church every Easter, Christmas, Anniversary .
Never mind that I hardly have much money to spare every time there's building funds.
Never mind if there's persecution from family and friends [after all, Pst. Kong always remind us that it is 'normal' for Christians to face persecutions and only good Christians go through 'trials and tribulations' because God and the Devil can't be bothered with the weak ones].

Eventually this ongoing scandal reveals way too much for me to stay in denial. Church fund was used for the Crossover. Not any ordinary fund but the BUILDING FUND, which Pst. Kong time and again assured us during services that the Building Fund is only used to cover rentals, renovation and strictly anything to do with the physical church building.

When we moved to Suntec, the first time he did was to tell us that we need to 'urgently' gather $310 million dollars within 7 years through series of Building Funds to purchase enough shares in Suntec and to pay off loans to avoid 'losses'.

However, Pst. at that time was living in a multi-million dollar penthouse in SENTOSA COVE while Sun was living in a US$20000/mth rental unit in Beverly Hills! Seriously, are you really 'urgent'? Oh, and he was still driving his luxury Audi A7, wearing his branded clothes, flying weekly [which we now know was either 1st class or business class] to US, getting $500000 a year in bonus and loyalty despite being 'officially off the church payroll'. I mean seriously, he MAY have sacrificed a lot in the earlier days when he first started the church BUT NOW he and Sun is really LIVING THE LIFE! [I currently earn less than $50000/year on monthly payroll. If I can earn 10 times as much like Pst Kong, I don't mind going "off payroll" too].

It comes to a point where I say 'enough is enough' and I left. Those who left may felt just like me initially. Lost, not sure what to do. Lose all friends you made in church over the past 10 years. 10 years, it was like a dream, and woke up to face reality.

But over the past 2 years, I have created routines to filled up the times where I should have being in CG or service. I spent more time with my family, my wife and learn to treasure the people whom had truly given their life for me. I started to save up and now have a sizable piggy bank [something that is unthinkable if I am still in church as such 'piggy bank' will be emptied in every building fund]. I started bringing my family for holidays, treat my parents more frequently, increases my monthly giving for my parents and so much more.

But I really have to thank CHC for who I am today (as im my character). However, no thanks ffor the conflicting or the deceptive ways I was encouragted to contribute to tithes, offerings and building funds. Pst. Kong said this during service. @Reaching your destination is important but HOW YOU GET THERE IS MORE IMPORTANT!


 


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Shocking Discount on Sentences of CHC Convicts


Hi Everyone, I'm still around.

For the benefits of my overseas readers, please allow me to plagiarize the following texts from our social media on the most controversial sentencing in the history of Singapore appeal case. 

Quote:

The High Court has reduced the sentences of all six former City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders on Friday (7 April) in favour of their appeal.

The founder and senior pastor Kong Hee has had his prison sentence reduced to three years and six months from eight years. Others had theirs reduced too, some by more than 50%.

The hearing was attended by a three-judge panel - Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn.

The verdict was finally delivered after the long-running trial which started in 2013.

Many netizens commented that the charges were simply unfair as they misappropriated $50 million, saying that they were setting bad examples. 

Here are what they wrote in full: 

Zhengquan Qin wrote, 
"K Shanmugam, what is wrong with our judicial system? 
What message are you sending to the kids? 
That white collar criminals get major discounts off jail time? 
If this kind of injustice is allowed to persist in our systems, I really fear we will head down the path of seeing a trump like populist administration one day. 
When the public loses complete faith in the "establishment". 
Do you really want this?" 

Ivan Yong wrote, 
"I have lost faith in SG justice system. Rich people can get away with a crime committed." 

Kang Chin Lin wrote, 
"This is the saddest day in Singapore's Judiciary. 
The Supreme Court Judge must be a Christian who sympathises with these corrupted crooks who call themselves Christians by giving all of them a reduced sentence. Such a disgrace to the Christian community. I bet you if LKY is still around, none of this nonsense would have existed!" 

Colin Phua wrote,
"Who wants to open a church? Count me in. 
Let's call it holliest of holliest church ( HHC). 
Scam people use people money pay lawyers then the got halves the sentence.
Meantime the wife can continue business as usual. 3.5 years later hubby comes out jail can still stand and enjoy.
Kill people death sentence but scam people gets only 3.5 year jail. 
Great business model. 
Pm me to set up HHC"

The appellate court's judgment in the CHC case is troubling.

First, the court said the accused were not acting "in the way of the business of agents", thereby reducing the aggravated CBT charge under s409 PC to the simple CBT charge under s406 PC.

It said that while the accused held important positions in the church, they were not acting as "a professional agent" who offers "his agency services to the community at large and from which he makes his living". The accused only had an "internal" relationship with the property they were entrusted with, which "stands in stark contrast" to an "external" relationship an agent would have with a customer.

Whilst it is technically tenable that the accused are not in the business of providing agency services (to other churches, at least), such a definition of "agent" is archaic and overly narrow.

An agent, simply put, is someone who acts on behalf of another. S409 PC does not add the prefix "professional" before "agent" and neither should we.

It is not true that all agency relationships have to be "external". Some agency relationships can be internal. For example, a federal agent is an employee of the government, but is still called as and acts in the capacity of an agent of the government; a representative of a company authorized to speak on its behalf could be an employee, but is still regarded in such context as an agent of the company.

Similarly, an executive committee of a church entrusted to handle the church's funds should also be regarded as an agent of the church in the handling of such funds.

Second, the court said there was no personal gain by the accused. Whilst it is factually correct that the accused did not personally pocket the money, a finding that this is a mitigating factor is again overly narrow.

The law of contracts used to state that third parties to a contract may not enforce the contract, since they provided no consideration for it. This has since evolved such that third parties may now enforce contracts that benefit them in some way.

This recognized the principle (and reality) that people sometimes do things not to benefit themselves but a third party. If so, people who defraud to benefit a third party (such as their friends, leaders, pastors, pastors' wives) should also be just as culpable as people who defraud to benefit themselves.

Most importantly, the court said the accused acted in what they "genuinely believed" to be the best interests of the church.

And that "their fault lies in adopting the wrong means".

In other words, the accused had good intentions and did what they did in the name of and for the glory of their religion. They had simply used the wrong methods.

As CHC supporters believe, the accused may have violated the laws of man, but they did not violate the laws of God. And that is what matters.

This is dangerous.

And it underscores a deeper, perennial problem with blinded religious extremism and devotion in society.

You may believe that God is supreme. But just because something is done by a person with the best of intentions in the name of God doesn't thereby make it right.

A religious zealot harming innocents via holy wars, suicide bomb attacks and passenger plane missiles also says he does it with a pure motive for his God. Why would you condemn the said zealot and his reasoning, but yet apply that same reasoning to excuse others who harm people by falsifying accounts, cheating and defrauding, also in the name of their God?

This is not some minor infraction of some technical or procedural law we are dealing with here. It's criminal. Once we start excusing or justifying what people do and the harm that society suffers in the name of faith, we start walking down this very dangerous, very slippery slope.

Support the accused as friends, people or fellow Christians who have gone astray if you must. But don't ever mitigate or excuse what they did because (they say) they did it in the name of God.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is considering whether it is possible to take further steps in the City Harvest case and once they decide, they will announce next week, Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Saturday (Apr 8). "The matter is not over yet," he said.

Speaking to the media a day after the jail terms of six City Harvest Church leaders were more or less halved following an appeal, he said the AGC believed that the sentences given out earlier at a lower court should have been higher, including the eight-year sentence for church founder Kong Hee. The six had been found guilty of misappropriating S$50 million of church funds.

Mr Shanmugam said of the AGC: “They told the Government they were appealing and they gave their reasons – and why the sentence was low. And the Government believed that the original sentences were too low as well."

He noted that the High Court disagreed with the AGC and that two judges looking at the appeal said directors are not agents and therefore submitted a lower charge of Criminal Breach of Trust, that resulted in a reduced sentence.

“Now from the Government's point of view, this legal reasoning has serious implications, including corruption cases. We will have to consider, as a matter of policy, what other steps to take because we cannot relax our stand on that ... so I have asked AGC for advice whether we need to do anything," Mr Shanmugam said.

Acknowledging that there are differing views on the judgment, he said: “Judgments can be discussed, criticised. People have the right to have their views on the judgment. But I think we should be careful about abusing the judges personally, or suggesting improper ulterior motives for judgments … And from a Government’s point of view, if we disagree then we always consider what we do. If necessary, we will legislate through Parliament.”

He said he noted the High Court’s comments on the way the case was conducted by the prosecution and has asked the new Attorney-General and Deputy Attorneys-General to look into this.

“It may take time, but we have good people at the top, and they should be able to deal with it," he said.

 "The matter is not over yet," he reiterated.

UPDATE (1).

Today (10/4/2017), the prosecution in the City Harvest Church (CHC) case has filed a Criminal Reference to the Court of Appeal.

The statement added: "If the Court of Appeal answers the questions referred in accordance with the Prosecution's submissions, the Prosecution intends to request that the Court of Appeal exercises its powers under section 397(5) to reinstate the appellants' original convictions under section 409 of the Penal Code and make necessary and consequential orders in relation to the sentences given.
The prosecution in the City Harvest Church (CHC) case has filed a Criminal Reference today to the Court of Appeal. - See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/city-harvest-verdict-agc-applies-take-case-court-appeal?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&link_time=1491818207#xtor=CS1-2

Monday, 27 June 2016

Why I left City Harvest Church




I reproduce below a worthy comment from "Annoymous" on my post "God & City Harvest Church"   (Link) for your reading pleasure:

"Hi Uncle,

I've just left CHC and in fact I never regret making this decision to leave CHC for these reasons:

- Prosperity Gospel

- Mismanagement of funds & the mismatch of the church's report on how the funds were being misused & the media, which is based on the evidence presented in the court.

- Lack of remorse from the church leaders as Kong Hee's apology in the church service days after the court verdict was released are not genuine.

- All 6 charged appealed for lighter sentence, which I find it absurd because if they are truly repentant, they should accept this punishment as a consequence for their actions as though God forgives them, but yet He wants them to accept their punishment as a consequences for their actions before moving on to walk right with Him.

- Obligating members to give tithes and offerings (as the church tithes and offerings envelope on the front side which looks like a corporate envelope, and on the back of the envelope, there is a form indicating to write your personal particulars and cell group name and cell group leader, and also with the option to pay tithes using credit card payment (which I find it intrusive especially when it is supposed to be privately between you/I and God)

- Crossover project, even if right now they did not proceed with that anymore, but their emphasis on "cultural mandate", which they termed it as, are tied and often they "justified" it as God's mandate over cultural mandate through the means of the crossover project, which I felt contradicted especially when a wife of a senior pastor (Sun Ho), sang secular pop songs and dress scandalously that it is too revealing and stumbles many for her so-called faith in Christ.

- Sun Ho's ordained as reverend pastor in CHC is indeed disturbing to me as well as mentioned in my previous point which has her name tarnished in 2007, and eight years later in 2015 she was being ordained as a reverend pastor is "total absurd" especially when her controversy has not waned due to the 5 year long CHC court trial.

Lastly, I agree with all the previous comments as basically this has to be warned as though CHC currently has 39.2% of Suntec shares, and I felt that members of CHC are still ultimately God's people, just that they are being steered into the wrong direction as they were mislead by their leaders, thanks to this fatal doctrine of prosperity gospel & their emphasis on materialism and status, which is contrary to God's standard of being wholehearted unto Him by fully focus on Him instead of these temporal things on earth, which these people have all failed, and that is that CHC members have failed to understand that their treasures and riches are all stored in heaven, and not on earth."

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Latest on Third-party Taxi Booking Apps and Drivers

Frankly, I wonder whether anyone is still reading my blog. Nevertheless, I reproduce in full the following two recent Channel News Asia articles on Third-party Taxi Booking Apps & Drivers to thoses who still does reads my blog and might find these articles informative and interesting.


There will be a new licensing framework for private-hire car drivers come the first half of 2017, and updates to the existing Taxi Driver Vocational Licence (TDVL), announced Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng on Tuesday (Apr 12).


Mr Ng, during his speech in the ministry's Committee of Supply debate in Parliament, noted that there was a rise in taxi drivers taking bookings via apps. For instance, the number of pre-booked taxi trips has increased by 50 per cent over the last three years, with the bulk of this increase coming from bookings via apps.


He noted that this increase is in part because taxi companies here have improved their own booking apps, with smarter algorithms to more quickly and efficiently match commuters with drivers. Third-party apps have also helped to "aggregate supply and demand" at the industry-level, he added. 


As a result, taxi drivers are earning more. On average, taxi drivers' nominal net earnings have increased continuously over the past three years, Mr Ng, who is also the Acting Education Minister, said. 


Commuters, too, have benefited as there an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 drivers providing chauffeured services during peak hours. "This has effectively increased the supply of point-to-point transport services by about a third during these hours," he said.


PDVL REGULATORY FRAMEWORK


However, while the growth of such services has benefited commuters, there have been some speed bumps. 
Mr Ng said the new competition has "understandably caused disquiet amongst some taxi drivers”. Thus, a new regulatory framework has to be in place to better protect commuters, and help the taxi industry adapt to the new environment. This led to a review of the private hire industry in October 2015, which he had spearheaded.


"With the growth of apps like Uber and Grab, some basic regulations are needed to ensure that the commuters' interests, particularly safety, are taken care of,” Mr Ng said.

"Hence, LTA will introduce a new Private Hire Car Driver Vocational Licencing (PDVL) framework. This framework ensures that drivers providing chauffeured services undergo sufficient training on safety and the regulations for providing such services."
 
Applicants will also undergo background screening, and be subject to a demerit point system - the Vocational Licence Points System - for errant conduct, like touting and soliciting street-hail jobs, he added.  


MEDICAL, BACKGROUND CHECKS NEEDED


Elaborating, Mr Ng said that to earn a PDVL, applicants must go through a medical examination. They must be employed either as a driver in a limousine company, or be a registered owner of a chauffeured services company. Singaporeans have to be sole-proprietors, or employees of a car rental or chauffeur company.


These drivers must also have driven for at least two years, and must hold a Class 3/3A driving licence for at least two years prior to applying for a PDVL.


Applicants must attend and pass a 10-hour PDVL course, and go for a three-hour refresher course once every six years. Active drivers with no demerit points will be exempted, and so will drivers employed by limousine companies, if the companies' training programmes meet LTA's requirements.


Besides the PDVL, Mr Ng said that private hire cars must now be registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Drivers must also display their PDVLs and a tamper-evident decal which cannot be re-used once it has been removed.


The Transport Ministry said this will assure commuters that the cars are indeed registered with LTA, and to strengthen enforcement efforts.


CHANGES TO TDVL TO REFLECT CHANGING LANDSCAPE


Mr Ng also said that most taxi drivers feel that the training curriculum for the existing TDVL should be updated. That is why the ministry is making changes to reflect changing industry practices and technology.


In the revised TDVL course, taxi drivers will be taught how to use tools such the Global Positioning System (GPS) and not just the traditional hardcopy street directory. The course will also be shortened - from 60 hours to 25 hours - and there are plans for more training to be taught online rather than in classrooms.


As for the refresher course taxi drivers must attend every six years, Mr Ng said this will be shortened to three and five hours, from the six- and nine-hour sessions. Good drivers who do not have any demerit points will also be exempted from having to attend the refresher course, he said.


"I hope this incentive can lead to better services which would ultimately benefit commuters," he added.
For those who wish to convert their TDVL to a PDVL, Mr Ng said a two-hour briefing is needed.


"The TDVL curriculum covers a substantial part of the PDVL curriculum,” he said. “Hence, we will make it easy for taxi drivers to convert their TDVL to a dual TDVL-PDVL licence. They will only need to undergo a short briefing on the chauffeured services industry and regulations unique to the industry. This will allow them to easily switch between taxi driving and providing chauffeured services using private hire cars."
 
The new TDVL course will be updated from May 2016, he said.



UBER REVISED TAXI FARE.


Ride-hailing app Uber announced a fare cut for its private car service, uberX, on Wednesday (Apr 13). 

The base fare for uberX has been revised to S$3 instead of S$3.50, lower than the cheapest flag-down fare of S$3.20 for local taxi companies. The subsequent per kilometre and per minute charges for uberX have also been revised downwards by S$0.05, to S$0.45 and S$0.20 respectively. 


Competitor Grab's GrabCar Economy service has a base fare of S$3.50 and subsequent charge of S$0.90 per kilometre. It has no per minute charge.

Uber's announcement of its fare revision comes just a day after authorities announced new regulations for the private hire industry that will make it a must for private hire cars to be registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA). A Private Hire Car Driver Vocational Licencing framework will also be introduced to ensure that drivers providing chauffeured services undergo background screening and have sufficient training on safety. 

They will also be subject to a demerit point system for errant conduct such as touting.

UPDATED TO 18TH. APRIL 2016
 
Ride-hailing app Grab reduced base fares and per kilometre charges for its private car service GrabCar on Monday (Apr 18). 

The move, which took effect at 11am, comes days after competitor Uber announced a 15 per cent price cut for its private car service uberX. 

The base fare for GrabCar passengers is now S$3, down from S$3.50, while per kilometre charges have been reduced from S$0.90 to S$0.80. With this new structure, fares can start as low as S$4 instead of S$8, the company said in a media release. GrabCar does not impose per-minute or other time-based charges.




Wake up, Uncle!. They are taking private car taxis. Time for you to jump boat.


Typical of a PAP MP instilling fear into gullible Singaporean when he cautions taxi commuters against taking Uber/GrabCar when he asked this stupid question in The Shit Times...that obediently published such shit.

"Who do the commuters look for..Uber, GrabCar, the drivers, or the leasing firms?@ (in case of accident)

It's common knowledge that every vehicle on Singapore road has a compulsory motor insurance policy, irrespective whether the vehcile is individually or company owned. In a claim, the insurer of the vehicles will settle the claims of the aggravated parties. In a accident, report to police with all the vehicle licence plates and soon specialist lawyers will be knocking at your door to represent you.

Slyly, Mr Ang is asking for level playing field. Do PAP consider this when contesting with opposition? Is level playing field in his volcabury?
Mr. Ang Hin Kee plays the fiddler of PAP and is not fit be an advisor to NTA