Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Compelling Confessions of a Ex-CHC Ministry Member.

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


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. 


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.


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:

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.


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.  


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.


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.


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.

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

Monday, 8 February 2016

2016 Lunar New Year Greetings

Wishing All My Chinese Friends & Readers ...A Happy & Healthy 2016 Lunar New Year of the Monkey!......Huat,  Huat, Huat AH!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

What it takes to be a Grabcar or UberX driver.

From the driver's perspective, the main worry is whether there is enough business to make it worthwhile to be a Grabcar driver instead being a normal taxi driver. Remember, Grabcar drivers are allowed to ferry passengers only from call bookings and not street jobs.

I think the popularity of using private cars as taxis to travel will improve when LTA address and regulate the service, reliability and security issues of this new business. When stringent LTA regulations are implemented, commuters confidence in using private cars will rocket off.

Grabcar and Uber can send taxi operators into bankruptcy if they and their drivers offer a pricing to commuters that's impossible for them to resist. For example, if Grabcar and Uber charges $20 at non-peak hours from Changi airport to Jurong Point compared to a normal cab fare of $30, which commuter would be foolish to take a normal cab.

As had happened in other countries, I guess such a day (when normal taxi drivers switch to be "private car drivers") will come sooner than expected. I can always become a GrabCar or Uber driver when that day arrives.

Good riddance COMFORT!

An interesting read: Three years on, how has Uber impacted Singapore? (Link)

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Taxi Driver Lucky Draw

Hi James,

Thank you for sharing the interesting personal experiences as a Singaporean Taxi Driver  on your blog:

We would appreciate it if you could share an exclusive Taxi Driver Lucky Draw campaign for Singaporean Taxi Drivers only on your blog to help us but more so for the welfare of fellow taxi drivers.

Old Chang Kee is holding a SG 50 lucky draw campaign for our prestigious local taxi drivers, to appreciate their daily efforts.  For this, we are offering a bargain at our 10 Old Chang Kee petrol kiosk outlets, where taxi drivers can buy ANY 3 FOOD ITEM @ ONLY $4 by presenting their taxi license. This purchase entitles taxi drivers to participate in a weekly lucky draw where they all stand a chance to WIN $688 CASH PRIZE EVERY WEEK, for 26 WEEKS in a row.

We hope you would be able to share this taxi driver only bargain and lucky draw campaign to all your taxi driver readers. I have attached the lucky draw campaign poster and week 13 winner’s poster for your kind sharing.
Warmest Regards,
Ms. Ng Chee Yan | Marketing Communications Executive
Old Chang Kee Ltd.
c/o Ten & Han Trading Pte Ltd
2 Woodlands Terrace, Singapore 738427 
+65 90070357  |m

Monday, 22 June 2015

In-Taxi-Camera.......Good or Bad?

According to a recent blog post (Link) , the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has just announced that taxi drivers can now install in-taxi camera so as to deter potential troublemakers of both drivers and passengers. I'm not sure where they got the news from nor whether it's a confirmed fact.

Nonetheless, if it's true, to me, as a taxi driver, it's the best news of the day. I always believe that deterrence is the best form of prevention.

I think you have not forgotten how a cab driver was killed  by a Ferrari driven by a Chinese national, who beat a traffic light at high speed, another cab driver was slashed in an unprovoked attack in the early morning hours somewhere in Jurong, ........And another cab driver beaten unconscious by Korean male passenger who complained about his "lousy" taxi. All these incidents happened three years back. Lately, there were at least 4 cases of drunkard passengers beating taxi drivers up after refusing to pay their fares. In one of these latest assault case, a NUS assistant law professor Sundram Peter Soosay, was convicted for assaulting a 70-year-old cabby, Sun Chun Hua. He has been sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and ordered to compensate the victim $1,500.

There are many nasty taxi related incidents and assaults of taxi drivers that goes unreported in the main media. But in this facebook page "Stop Assaulting Our Taxi Drivers", you'll be horrified to read the many more horrendous stories of taxi driver assaults. Those reported incidents might give the impression that cab driving is a hazardous job in Singapore.  I don't think so. Why? Because at anytime, there are at least 15,000 taxi drivers on the road plying 200,000 passengers. Most passengers are normal, decent and law abiding human begins. Only a few are douche bags. When faced with a potentially difficult and aggressive passenger, I humbly retreat and let them be the winner of the moment. The rest I leave it to fate to decide my destiny. Having said that, I think any "measures" from the "G" to enhance the safety of both drivers and passengers or protect cabbies from attacks by aggressive passengers is a welcome gift, like this lifting the ban on in-taxi camera.

Previously, the LTA banned the in-taxi camera recordings citing the intrusion of privacy as a major concern. In Singapore, how much privacy do we have, anyway?. CCTV is omnipresent in many public places like shopping malls, bus stops, banks, schools, hospitals and also inside public transports like buses and MRT trains. Even unregulated private drones with telescopic lens are flying freely in housing estates.  Like it or not, "Big Brother is perpetually looking over our shoulders EVERYWHERE. So, where got privacy! ". 

Many households has CCTV at their front door too. Whether these household CCTV cameras are real or fake, most burglars would avoid such households that has one displayed. It, therefore, acts as a deterrent. So, the same principle of deterrent effect can be applied inside a taxi with a real or fake camera. Even a bold red sticker reading "CCTV On Board" might deter prospective criminals or aggressors of taxi drivers.           

If a real CCTV miniature camera is installed at a inconspicuous spot inside the taxi, the images or audio recording captured can be relayed through the GPS system to the taxi operator control center but not taxi driver who might use it for nefarious purposes. The facial images stored would certainly helps the police in any criminal investigations or provides audio evidence in case of driver/passenger disputes.

To allay commuters fear of invasion of privacy, only taxi company or the authorities can have access to the password-protected camera recordings. This visceral fear of taxi drivers is not surprising. Like elsewhere in the world, most Singaporean are wary of and don't trust lowly taxi drivers who scavenge for a living.

Now, regarding the in-taxi camera, the big question is whether taxi operator is willing to needlessly spend million of dollars to protect taxi drivers. Frankly, they are more concern of their bottom line than anything else. As long as rental is collected, they do not care how the drivers survive or care about their safety.

Everyone knows that airbags had save thousands of lives since their introduction in early 1980s. To cut cost and maximize profit, the most despicable thing some taxi companies had done was instructing their taxi manufacturers to dispense with and remove the airbags of all their taxis before they landed in Singapore. Cabby Cheng Teck Hock, 52 of the fatal Ferrari  accident might be alive today if COMFORT had not detached the airbag of his Sonata taxi. Is LTA aware of the evil and unscrupulous removal of taxis airbags or are they closing an eye while bedding GLC partners?. Toyota Wish taxis of Transcab and Prime Taxi has airbags but not COMFORT taxis. What about SMRT and Premier?. In case you are inside a COMFORT taxi, try to avoid being a front seat passenger and if you are a COMFORT taxi driver, GOD BLESS YOU!.

COMFORT has installed in-vehicle camera facing the road solely to protect their interest in case of a traffic accident cum insurance claim and certainly not for the safety of their drivers. If cost overrides the safety of their drivers, perhaps COMFORT could be persuaded to spend just a few hundred dollars on cheap "CCTV On Board" stickers instead of a real camera for the sake of their drivers.
Take my money. Don't kill me!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Thank you Uber, GrabTaxi, Hailo and EasyTaxi.

I was flabbergasted after reading a news article in yesterday Straits Times with a heading… “Cabbies cry foul over rival drivers”.

In the first place, the news article reported mainly the opinions of a single person, Mr. Ang Hin Kee, who is NOT a cabby but an adviser of the National Taxi Association (NTA) and a Ang Mo Kio GRC, Member of Parliament. Undoubtedly, his views cannot be depictive of Singaporean cabbies in general. To me, he seems more like a spokesman of COMFORT which Temasek has an interest than of Singaporean cabbies.  

As a cabby, I would like to share with you my views in respond to his statements.

1.   Mr. Ang said “These companies are “creaming off profits” without having to meet the stringent requirements and standards the taxi industry has to meet”.

I shall break this statement into two parts.

Firstly, these “companies” refer to Uber, GrabTaxi, Hailo and EasyTaxi, that are Taxi Booking Apps providers.  

I think Mr. Ang is essentially saying that COMFORT is the only taxi operator whose profits from taxi booking is now being "creamed off" by these companies because others taxi operators like Premier, Transcab, SMRT or Prime are not affected as they inherently have very few taxi booking jobs to begin with. Consequently, my heading for the news article would instead be “COMFORT cry foul over transport providers app”.

By the way, how much is COMFORT estimated earning from taxi bookings before competition?.

Assuming each COMFORT taxi driver does an average of 10 booking jobs a day (24 hours) and COMFORT deduct 30 cents per job from their driver. Therefore, COMFORT earns $3 per taxi per day.

COMFORT has the largest fleet of about 16,000 taxis. Assuming 80% of their taxis are active on the road, therefore, COMFORT earns $3 x 12,800 taxis = $38,400 per day. Multiply that with 365 days. Wow! $14 millions annually.

COMFORT is now losing about 25% of booking jobs to these app providers. i.e. about $3.5 million per year. And this lose will surely increase when 3rd party booking apps becomes more popular with commuters. This "threat" is real as COMFORT is now occasionally absorbing the 30 cents surcharge that they previously charge their drivers. In offering this minor incentive, they hope their drivers would concentrate on doing COMFORT call bookings instead of their rivals.

Is COMFORT cabbies earning affected by these companies?

Yes, but in a positive way. The 3rd party taxi booking apps has turned out to be the best things that ever happened to Singaporean cabbies. Opportunities and options to earn more are open to all taxi drivers. Many COMFORT cabbies are using the 3rd party apps to do more booking jobs and earn more especially when these companies enticed them with incentives. 

For example, Hailo is now giving an incentive of $160 for FIRST 40 jobs done between 1st.June to 15th June. And another $100 for every 20 jobs after the first 40. In a month, a driver can earn an extra $320 - $500.  Other transport app providers are also giving drivers incentives in various forms.

2. Mr. Ang's continuous statements:                   "It's an issue of a level playing......................thanks goodness, we've not had any major incident”.
 (His full statements are in a photo at the end of this post). 

Briefly, Mr. Ang is making lame excuses to kill off competitions from Uber and others. His various concerns and issues will soon be comprehensively addressed in LTA new rules and regulations for 3rd party taxis booking app and ride-matching services (LTA press release) .  

Now, to be fair to the reporter of this news article, Mr. Christopher Tan, he has pertinently highlighted an impending "tsunami" that will completely change the landscape of the taxi industry here.

The "tsunami" is the new breed of Uber drivers who use their own or rented private cars to ferry paying passengers through call bookings. Soon, Grabtaxi and other transport app providers will also be joining the fray. These innovative apps companies are effectively running a parallel taxi operation, albeit strictly through call booking only. They are not vying with cabbies as they are prohibited to pick-up flagging passengers from the streets.

Undeniably, they help to service "peak-hours or in " COMFORT's cabby-forsaken" landed estates areas like Bukit Timah, where people find it impossible to get taxis. They absolutely improve taxi availability for commuters island wide. Like hotel and travel agents booking app or online purchases portals, they are not parasites that lives on the hospitality of others but modern technological companies that provide a complimentary, convenience and useful service that consumers need. 

Nevertheless, licensed cabbies naturally felt their rice bowl are threatened as booking jobs that otherwise goes to them are now taken over by these "un-licensed" drivers. But in reality and practice, there are more booking jobs during rush hours than all drivers could cope. In any case, these "un-licensed" drivers do not compete with them for street flag-down jobs.

Presently, new rules and regulations are not in place yet to address safety and security issues of commuters using these alternative taxi services. Reliability and accountability of these transport app provider are also pending. However, once LTA's all-embracing controls are fully implemented, taxi commuters' confidence and trust in these companies will rocket. And like in a G.E., scare tactics to avoid Uber or others would not work.

In this situation, Uber will creates a foothold in the taxi community after its popularity with customers grows. Taxi operators like COMFORT are very worried because the Uber business model of getting a taxi or ride-matched car via an app is superior to having to call them for one on the phone and wait for it to show up, if it shows up at all. 

But taxi drivers are not worried. Why?  

Because taxi drivers are hirer of taxis not owner. Therefore, they can easily defect to Uber as their drivers or drives their own car using Uber app, if it makes economic sense to do so or for other reasons. Like room renter who disappear from their units in the middle of the night, the drivers can desert the taxi operator freely. And like the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them!".

Please allow me to make a simplistic comparison to check whether it makes economic sense to desert COMFORT to join Uber. 

COMFORT Sonata                    Uber Used Aries
Daily Rental: $106.00                            $55.00
Fuel Cost (250km): $30.00                    $30.00*
Misc Expenses: $4.00                            $  4.00
Total Cost: $140.00                                $89.00
Fare Collection: $230.00                        $230.00
Company commission: $00.00               -$  46.00                                                  (20% of Collection)
Nett Income: $90.00                              $95.00**
(* Cheaper fuel from JB.)           
(** Exclude Incentives)  
If my estimation is accurate, it means a driver can earn more with Uber/GrabCar. Needless to say, a Uber driver could earn much more if he use his own car as the rental cost is not in the equation.

This is a disaster scenario for taxi owners like COMFORT. It is an expensive operation to constantly keep a large fleet of taxis on the streets of Singapore. COMFORT's main source of revenue is what they receive from the rental fees of drivers, so if too many cabs stand empty for too long, COMFORT will not only had their profits "creamed off" but will face bankruptcy.

What does this all mean for the Singaporean cabbies?. It means hallelujah, leverage has arrived at last. It has arrived not through feeble threats of strikes or work stoppages, but through competition for the services of drivers. 

Now, for the first time ever, taxi operators will have to give serious consideration to how their actions affect the lives of their drivers. If they are wise, they should think of how to improve the working conditions of their drivers - like reducing the 250 km minimum mileage, high rental, indiscriminate sacking, repair costs and so on.

Hey, COMFORT, do you want your drivers to desert you ?. The days of your authoritarian, arrogant, uncaring and high-handed attitudes towards your drivers need to change. Remember, they are your partners not employees!

How about doing some surveys?

Find out what's really needed and wanted from the drivers.

And then give them some good reasons to stick with you or you prefer to sack them for frivolous reasons despite the fact that many of your drivers had been your royal partners for more than 20 years?.

A relevent quote from Nokia sad demise.

1. The advantage you have yesterday, will be replaced by the trends of tomorrow. You don’t have to do anything wrong, as long as your competitors catch the wave and do it RIGHT, you can lose out and fail.
  1. To change and improve yourself is giving yourself a second chance. To be forced by others to change, is like being discarded.
Those who refuse to learn & improve, will definitely one day become redundant & not relevant to the industry. They will learn the lesson in a hard & expensive way.

By the way, I am mulling to be a Uber-X driver as I prefer to drive less mileage and hours with hopefully a survival income.