Category Archives: Singapore

What Is The Big Deal About A Pastor’s Big Salary?

And so it begins… again.

After a rubbish report on Pastor Prince in a top ten richest pastors list, criticisms on his alleged (former) salary of $700,000 (as reported by  Yahoo Singapore) have surfaced from all manner of people all over the internet… just like in 2009.

Yes, the same circus had happened in 2009 when it was reported in our local newspapers that Pastor Prince’s annual salary then was estimated to be around $500,000 in 2008. 5 years later, even though Pastor Prince is no longer on the church’s payroll since 2009, Yahoo Singapore in their news report has raised Pastor Prince’s salary to $700,000. Regardless, whether $500,000 or $700,000,  considering that the median household annual income in 2013 in Singapore is about $95,000 (monthly$7,870), that level of income is considered very high, even more so when it is a pastor’s salary as there is a general expectation (misconceived or otherwise) that pastors should be modestly paid and lead a frugal lifestyle.

So what is the big deal about a pastor’s big salary? Let us examine the following:

1. What level of salary should a pastor receive? On what basis?

Many Christians feel that they are paying the pastor’s salary through their tithes and offerings; hence they feel resentful when they discover that the pastor is earning many more times than they. So what level of salary should the church pay the pastor? What is the basis?

You ask 100 Christians this question and in all probability, you will get 100 different answers. This all boils down to an individual’s own perception of values and the worth of that pastor. However, as an analogy, let me use the example of teachers’ salary in Singapore as a pastor is in a way a spiritual teacher.

Teachers in Singapore are paid according to the salary scale of their respective civil service grade, so teachers within the same grade are paid around a narrow band. I’m sure during your schooling days, you would have encountered different subject teachers of varying teaching capabilities, yet they are all paid around the same salary regardless of their level of competence if they are in the civil service grade.

Is that fair? Shouldn’t more capable teachers be rewarded much more? However, this system can’t do that as there’s a narrow band of salary to adhere unless that teacher is promoted to a higher grade. However, the same situation will still surface within that higher grade. How about scrapping the grades and salary bands altogether? Well, this is for the Ministry of Education to decide.

Similarly, should all pastors be expected to receive a salary within a narrow scale on a low service grade? Every church has its own council or board of trustees which will have to decide for themselves.

How about the individual Christian? What can you do? Well, you can walk out! Find another church which pays the pastor peanuts! Before you do that, maybe you should spend two minutes to read this blog post which I wrote 5 years ago during the same circus then:

A Family Dinner 

Last night, to celebrate April Fool’s Day, I took my family out for dinner at a very nice restaurant in the city. The waitress led us to a table and we sat down and waited for her to hand us the menu. However after some time, we still did not receive the menu. I managed to catch the attention of the waitress and asked her for the menu. She replied,”I am sorry, sir. In honour of April Fool’s Day, our restaurant is serving only the Chef’s Special Set Dinner today. Your dinner will be served shortly.” 

True enough, while the waitress was still explaining to us, the first dish arrived. All in all, we were served a seven course dinner plus dessert (mango pudding). Man, was the dinner good! We thoroughly enjoyed the food and my kids were pestering me to come again soon, even though we still haven’t left the restaurant yet! 

Then suddenly, something caught my mind: I had not asked about the price of the dinner! I quickly signaled to the waitress for the bill and crossed my fingers that I have enough money in my wallet to pay for it. To my surprise, the waitress walked over empty-handed and said,”We have no fixed price for our set dinner, sir. You just pay us whatever you want.” 

My surprise turned into shock. I thought this was too good to be true. Could this be an April Fool’s Day joke? I asked,”Is it ok even if I pay $2?” “Yes, sir. Any amount you pay is fine with us.” came the smiling reply. Of course, I didn’t pay $2 but I did give what I thought was an appropriate amount. 

I asked the waitress,”I am curious. Since the customer can pay any amount he wants, how much does your chef actually earn a year?” She replied, “$500,000”. I was flabbergasted; “What? $500,000 just to cook food? This is too much! I am never coming to this restaurant again!” 

My dear wife (God bless her) said to me,”Darling, we really enjoyed the dinner just now, didn’t we? How much did you pay for it? Just $20, not $500,000! For a seven course dinner plus dessert! Why should you be concerned about how much the chef earns?”

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2. Can a pastor be rich?

Many Christians cannot accept a pastor with a huge salary because they feel that he is getting rich at their expense. I can understand that kind of sentiment, it’s just human nature. However, can those same Christians accept a pastor who is rich without receiving a single cent of salary from the church?

Pastor Prince has not been on the church’s payroll since 2009; his main source of income is from the intellectual property rights of his books and sermon CDs and DVDs (I have heard from a reliable source that the royalty income from his sermon CDs and DVDs are channeled to a non profit organization to purchase TV airtime, some of which is donated to other grace preachers).

Even if Pastor Prince is truly a very rich man, maybe the tenth richest pastor in the world, is there anything wrong with earning a good honest income from writing books and preaching life changing sermons? Has anyone condemned JK Rowling for earning millions of dollars from her Harry Potter series? Has anyone condemned Nick Vujicic for earning his keep from his motivational books and talks?

Is every book writer automatically rich? Of course not! Therefore, do not begrudge the success of those who managed to write books which people love to read for whatever personal reasons.

Do you, for whatever peculiar reason you might have, believe that a pastor is not allowed to be rich, full stop? I thank God you are not God!

Psalm 35:27 (AMP)

27 Let those who favor my righteous cause and have pleasure in my uprightness shout for joy and be glad and say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, Who takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.

(For those scornful of my views because I attend NCC, may I recommend another article on Pastor Prince’s salary by a Christian who is not attending NCC – “Working With Grace“)

 

​Stanley Wong

*The author blogs at http://thelogicalchristian.blogspot.sg/

 

PAP loss of power more likely comes from internal split

I applaud Mr Ho Kwon Ping’s bold and frank analysis of the future of Singapore (“The next 50 years in Singapore politics”; Tuesday).

In particular, he painted a scenario of a split in the ruling party within the next 50 years. No one has broached this subject before.

While I agree with his other observations, I disagree with his argument that the most likely cause of a People’s Action Party (PAP) loss of power would be a freak election result. I would think that an internal split would be the more likely cause.

As we ponder over the post-Lee Kuan Yew era, the possibility of a split in the PAP is very real. Our founding father was a strong leader with a firm grip on incorruptible power. By his own admission, the PAP would eventually lose an election. History has shown that no single party can govern forever.

With the PAP’s rigid selection process, talented new leaders will emerge. Younger leaders are better educated and brought up in an environment very different from that of their forefathers. Theirs is not a collective fight to rid Singapore of communist elements, or for survival as a country.

As a result, different ideologies would form on how to govern Singapore as it moves forward as a First World country.

A split may not be all doom and gloom. It could create a new and credible opposition party. A new generation of voters would then have to decide if it should be given the chance to govern, or perhaps even form a coalition with the PAP.

Mr Ho rightly pointed out that as long as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remains in control, there will be unity and cohesiveness in governance.

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Without the emergence of another strong leader to take over the helm, the PAP could lose its dominance.

Much as I would like to, I may not be around to see the change.

 

Lin Howard

* Letter first appeared in ST Forum (23 Oct)

Police Powers of Arrest and Investigation

Ex ISD detainee Teo Soh Lung issued a note on what to do when hauled up for investigations by the police:
 
 
I do not want to get into a debate with Ms Teo regarding this, but one must note that few investigations are the same and the role of each witness or potential suspect, even the ingredients of an offence are very rarely the same. Ms Teo was of course detained under the Internal Security Act by the ISD which provides for detention without trial. That’s quite a different cup of tea from a normal police investigation into a criminal matter, which Ms Teo issued the note for, –  in this case the investigation of ‘an unlawful assembly’ by Ms Han Hui Hui, Roy Ngerng and others, under Sec 143 of the Penal Code. Therefore I thought it prudent to write a post about police powers of arrest and investigations in relation to their actions. Clearly the actions of Ms Han and others showed a lack of understanding of the laws and powers of the police. But I must add a caveat, this is only my opinion, you are advised to seek legal advise if you’re subject to a criminal investigation. But even in that you must be careful – a lawyer’s opinion or advise is normally just that – it’s not a judgment or a definitive legal interpretation. Only a judge sitting in a court can make that interpretation. But obviously some things are so obvious that it can be taken as facts.
 
Retired lawyer Teo Soh Lung issued a note for activists on what to do when being called up by the Police.
 
  
 
1) The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) Chapter 68
 
This is by far the most important Law in so far as investigation and powers go. It provides the procedure and enabling power that the Police must use in investigations and prescribes their powers of arrest. Basically the power of arrest boils down to 2 scenarios:
 
1) a seizable or arrestable offence
2) a non seizable offence.
 
As it suggests, a seizable offence means the police can arrest without a warrant from a court. The vast majority of offences are seizable. Non seizable offences means the police must get permission from a magistrate (or higher) to begin investigations or to compel the attendance of a suspect. However please note that the Police can arrest you for a non-seizable offence if you refuse to furnish your particulars or give those they believe to be false. The best way is to produce your NRIC or passport. Since this post relates to the alleged offences by Ms Han and others, I’ll touch on seizable cases.
 
The CPC states that when a police officer receives information that a seizable offence is committed in any place, he (or another officer) shall:
 
17 (1) investigate the circumstances of the case.
17 (2) find or arrest the offender.
 
But it also allows him not to proceed further if the case is not of a serious nature. That’s why sometimes when you make a complaint, the investigation doesn’t proceed or proceeds at a snail’s pace. Eg: Someone shouting at the top of his voice under you block. That could be disorderly behaviour – a seizable offence, but the police on arrival may decide not to arrest him or investigate further after issuing a warning.
 
Section 19 details that an investigator must record every aspect of his investigation, including the places he visited. So when Ms Han stated the police visited her at midnight, the officer issuing the notice would have recorded the time.
 
Looney Fringe Han Hui Hui’s ignorance and refusal to follow the Law has brought a whole lot of trouble to a number of persons and herself.
 
 
Next we go to Section 21 – the notice issued to Ms Han and others. They were asked to attend Central Division as ‘witnesses.’ Let’s look at the timeline again and the options open to the Police.
 
1) The NParks issues a permit with conditions to Ms Han and the Looney Fringe.
2) The permit comes with clear conditions:
 
 
Clearly the permit states there are conditions and a requirement to comply with the respective sections and regulations under the Parks and Trees Act (Chap 216) and any such terms as the Commissioner of Parks (CoP) may impose. It also states that Hong Lim Park is NOT exclusive to just 1 permit holder and that the CoP may cancel or revoke any permit at ANY time without giving prior notice for any breach or non-compliance, or if in his opinion the activities of the permit holder or person(s) cause discomfort or inconvenience to other park users. Now tell me in any normal layman’s terms did the actions of the Looney Fringe cause inconvenience or discomfort to the organisers and persons attending the YMCA event? Ms Han wanted ‘exclusive’ use of the whole park and was disallowed by Mr Chia and he did tell her she was in breach of the conditions and he would revoke the permit if she persisted. So to carry on:
 
3) The permit was revoked or cancelled and Ms Han warned accordingly
4) She ignores and causes discomfort to the YMCA attendees.
5) NParks investigates and notifies the Police.
6) It’s open to the Police under what sections they want to investigate/classify this report. They chose Section 141 of the Penal Code – Unlawful Assembly and punishable under Section 143. This is a seizable offence.
7) Under the CPC, the Police could arrest Ms Han and others, but instead chose to request their attendance as ‘witnesses’ to the incident and to provide their statements.
8) Section 22 of the CPC states the person is obliged to answer questions whether or not he/she will be charged for it
9) After taking statements and reviewing the evidence, the Police will refer the case to the DPP
10) Either on their own or in most cases with the approval of the DPP, decide to either proceed on the original classification or on a different charge or drop the matter.
11) Enforce the decision by arresting the accused and charging him with the offence. Or issue a warning and not charge him in court. 
 
Powers of Arrest
 
Let’s say Ms Han foolishly decided to play hardball and refused to attend the station as a witness. Based on the statements of others and the evidence gathered – the police who also have their own videos, may decide to invoke Section 17 and arrest her and others. Section 64 provides the police to arrest without a warrant a list of offences, in her case the following subsections apply:
 
a) has been concerned, reasonably suspected or credible information given of being involved in an arrestable offence.
j) commits a breach of peace in the presence of a police officer.
 
Courts can issue arrest warrants, but usually such warrants are issued when an accused person fails to attend court (absconds). That warrant is for the failure to attend court, that is separate to charge you are facing. You can be ‘wanted by the police’ for a seizable case, they don’t need an arrest warrant by court to arrest you for that. Your name will be entered into the Police Gazette and listed in the ‘stop and detain list’ of police computers.
 
Power of Search to Arrest Persons and Powers of Search generally
 

Alex Tan Zhixiang is an associate member of the Looney Fringe. He ‘flips’ his positions more than a prata-man. 1 moment he wanted to be fielded by the SPP, then he joined the Reform Party. He said he’ll quit politics and go to New Zealand. Well that failed and now he’s back and claims he wants to be an MP and PM. He claims to know the solution to every problem in Singapore, but cannot speak properly, cannot accept differing views and has illusions of self-grandeur. He thinks he’s above the law and can ignore a lawful request by a police officer investigating a seizable offence. Well let him try some Looney Fringe antics and see if he can get away with it.

 
 
I came across a Facebook post by another member of the Looney Fringe – Alex Tan Zhixiang (who stood as a Reform Party (RP) candidate) who has illusions of grandeur of his own self-importance (he thinks he knows everything and wants to become Prime Minister). He claimed he had installed video cameras outside his flat and would not allow a police officer entry to arrest him without a warrant or search warrant. Well I got news for Alex – he needs to look up Section 77 of the CPC which states:
 
1) If a Police Officer has authority to arrest (sec 17 provides this) and/or if a person (other law enforcement officers) has a warrant, and believes the wanted person is inside any premises, they can demand entry to the premises.
 
4) After stating his authority and purpose, the police officer with authority is not given entry, he can break any door, window or use any reasonable means to gain entry to effect the arrest. 
 

CNB officers making an arrest for drugs. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act (Chap 185), they have ‘carte blanche powers’ to enter any premises to search and effect an arrest.

 
 
There are several overlapping Laws and other Acts that provide the police and other officers this power. For example all CNB Officers are ‘walking warrants.’ They can enter any premises they believe drug activity is taking place or if an offender is therein. In most Acts, the Law provides this ‘walking warrant’ authority to a ‘gazetted or authorised Police Officer’ – an Assistant Superintendent (ASP) or higher. The most common ones are the Arms Offences Act, Immigration, Gambling and Kidnapping Acts. Some Laws empower the ASP or Director (of other enforcement agencies) to issue a ‘warrant’ and designate a junior officer to proceed to make the arrest.
 

A Police Asst Superintendent (a) or higher are gazetted officers. Meaning their appointments are gazetted in the Govt Gazette. In several laws they possess the powers to enter premises without a warrant both for search and arrest.

 
 
Section 78 also provides the Police the power to search the premises of a person detained and to seize evidence. If a search is to be made on a premises not resided by an accused person, there are relevant laws in place that grant police officers this power. A search warrant can be issued by a court or by the Commissioner of Police as the case may be, or by an investigator in arrestable offence – Section 34. Other Laws also empower police officers usually an ASP to lead such a search, based on information received.
 
What Should You Do?
 
Ms Teo gives some advise on what to do when faced with the kind of circumstances that befell Ms Han. Well you are free to take her advise, some of which is sound, but others you must tread more carefully. For example she says:
 
1) Letters need not be physically delivered.
 
Indeed. Many will receive it via snail mail. However you must ask yourself why will the police come and deliver? They will not do so if you’re only a witness. They might just give you a call. The more serious the case or the more serious your involvement in a seizable offence, the more serious they will take it. I mean if you’re a witness to a shoplifting, a witness to an armed robbery, a stabbing or if you’re the shoplifting suspect, you can expect different degrees of police interaction with you.
 
2) If you are only a witness with no real involvement in the offence you can expect different degrees of treatment. As Ms Teo says, you can postpone the date, ask for a more convenient time or at a place of your choosing. And of course you can make noise if they come at midnight and refuse to open the door.
 
3) However if you’re the potential accused or prime suspect, that’s something altogether different. Let’s face it, only you will know the degree of your involvement. If you’re a suspect in a seizable offence, don’t expect the ‘royal treatment.’ They can come at any time usually in the middle of the night when you are at your most vulnerable mentally. And you can close your doors all you want, but if it’s a serious case, they will invoke the Law and can demand entry as I referred to above. Don’t expect the ‘softly softly’ approach if this is a case of murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking, arm offences or rioting. They’ll be coming to break down the door and use force if need be.
 
4) As for interviews during investigations, you of course have certain rights as Ms Teo suggests. You can ask for a warmer room, refreshments and breaks.
 
5) You can bring a friend or keep them updated. However do note that the Law allows the Police to examine evidence they think is connected to the case, including your handphone, computer or in Ms Han’s case – notebook.
 
6) Almost always you will not be allowed copies of your statement. Even your lawyer cannot access it unless the prosecution intends to tender it as part of their case. However there’s a section (23) which deals with cautioned statements – this is when the police intend to formally charge you with the offence. You will be cautioned and have the charge read to you (or you can read it). You will be told to state your defense in relation to the charge. Here you must ordinarily state what defense you intend to offer, or it will be less likely to be believed in court. A copy will be given to you and anything you say here can and will be used against you in court.
 
7) Ms Teo suggests you don’t sign if no copies will be provided. This is immaterial, Section 22 of the CPC states you must sign. If you don’t, it will be still taken as given by you. However do note this your statement, you are entitled to make any amendments or change portions of it by cancelling and signing over it. You can refuse to answer questions, but it will be noted down.
 

Police Sergeants have the power under law to record caution statements and other powers in investigations. Any admission to a Sgt or above, be it oral or written are usually admissible as evidence in Court, unless you can prove he’s lying or acting with malice. Easier said than done.

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8) I’ll touch a bit on evidence – oral admission can be used against you in court. Of course there’s a degree of weight that a judge will apply to it. Any admission to a criminal offence given to a police officer of the rank of sergeant and above is admissible in court. For traffic offences – all admissions to any police officer is admissible. Eg: You are drunk and run a road block – a Police Corporal stops you later outside the vehicle and asks you if you are the driver – you say – Yes. That’s admissible. If you are stopped for shoplifting by the shop detective and a Police Sergeant comes to attend the case and asks you if you did it? You say -‘Sorry sir’ in a symbolic act of admission. In these 2 cases if the officer reduces in writing your actions and words and goes to court and testifies, that is admissible evidence, unless you can prove he’s lying or acting in bad faith.
 
9) False evidence. There’s a mistaken belief that you can be charged for giving a false statement as an accused person. Section 22 allows you not to incriminate yourself. You can refuse to give a statement incriminating yourself – that duty is for the police and prosecutor to prove in court. You are not obliged to admit your actions. However if you’re not the accused, only a witness and you give a false statement incriminating someone else wrongly and they are subject to arrest and investigation, you can be charged.
 
Conclusion
 
Of course you can refuse to cooperate with the police, but it depends on your involvement in the offence they are investigating. Be sensible, you will know more or less your degree of involvement, whether it’s you they are after or someone else. You must think carefully and wisely here. If you are a witness, you have no real worries. Normally the police will not go all out after your statement if it’s not such a serious case. But if it’s a serious matter they’ll use the law to compel your attendance.
 
But if your involvement is on the borderline between witness and suspect, ask yourself whether it’s beneficial to play hardball? You may choose to do so, but the police have the right to arrest you based on information and evidence gathered. If you are evasive and unhelpful and it’s later established that you were involved in some way, don’t expect them to play nice. They may decide they don’t need you as a witness and instead decide to charge you.
 

Samantha Lo who affixed stickers and sprayed graffiti on a sidewalk, escaped with a mild sentence because she cooperated with investigations and took responsibility early on.

 
 
Finally if you’re the one they are after and it’s a seizable case, they have every right to arrest you. Ms Han may complain about the 8 hours, but if they arrested her they can hold her for 48 hours. In such cases where you’re the prime suspect, you must consider you options carefully. If you just clam up as you have a right to, they may already have a solid case and throw the book at you preferring the highest charge. But like Samantha Lo (the sidewalk graffiti case), you cooperate and show regret and remorse, they may prefer a lighter charge or give you a warning.  
 

A Notice under Sec 21 (1) of the CPC issued to Roy Ngerng to attend Central Division today. Will follow Ms Han’s suit and lead us with a song and dance about the ‘horrors’ of his interview? Or will he man up, take responsibility and cooperate fully, exonerating others and hope for some leniency with his cooperation?

 
 
So in essence it boils down to which scenario you fit. There are around 8 persons called up for investigations in the ‘Hecklegate Affair’ I believe. Whether the Police or DPP intends to proceed with ‘Unlawful Assembly’ it remains to be seen. They might lower the charge, however for this offence they would prosecute at least 5 persons. 5 persons acting illegally would constitute an unlawful assembly. So of the 8 or more called up, some played a minor role or did not take an active part. It would be wise for these persons to cooperate and be witnesses, especially those on the borderline between witness and accused.
 
For the rest who might end up charged, it’s better to think wisely now and decide if following the Looney Fringe is beneficial or right. Playing hardball all the way might see you with a criminal conviction. If that can’t be avoided then you have to choose between a long drawn legal case which will cost a lot of money, which could possibly result in imprisonment and a plea bargain on a lighter charge or sentence.The time for serious thinking is now. For others who are enthralled by the Looney Fringe’s antics but avoided this fate, please bear in mind the law and the extensive powers given to the police before you join them in their antics. Remember ignorance of the Law is not a defense and you cannot complain if you end up on the wrong side of it.
 
Of course I must also add, if you are innocent of the charge (you obviously will know this), then by all means contest it. Admit nothing. The onus is always on the police and prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If there’s insufficient evidence you’ll be acquitted or might not be charged. But then again if you’re truly innocent, surely it would be logical that you would cooperate with the investigations and show evidence of  your innocence? I mean who wouldn’t want to cooperate in order to exonerate themselves rather than play hardball, face a court case where you’d have to spend thousands on legal fees to prove your innocence? Unless of course you’re part of the Looney Fringe. However in this case revolving around the incident at Hong Lim Park, I believe they have broken the Law, whether the law broken is ‘unlawful assembly’ or something lesser remains to be seen. But I also believe the Police are on solid ground with their investigations thus far and have operated within the confines of the relevant Laws.
 
 
 
Sir Nelspruit
*The author blogs at http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.sg
 

Singapore Sports Hub cancels my Mariah Carey concert without telling me why

I HAVE supported and participated in various activities held at the Sports Hub since its opening.

I booked tickets to watch the Stefanie Sun concert in July, and found out that some people booked tickets much later than I did and at lower prices, yet got better seats. I gave feedback to the ticketing agent, which acknowledged the problem.

My experience with booking tickets for the Mariah Carey concert on Friday was even worse. There was a problem with the Sports Hub’s ticketing platform, so I had to call an agent to book the tickets for me.

Then, just days before the concert, the ticketing agent told me there was a change in the seating configuration and my seats were no longer available.

No explanation was given and I later found out from news reports that it was because the stage had to be re-positioned to avoid further damage to the pitch ahead of the Suzuki Cup.

This is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul. To solve the pitch problem, the Sports Hub management created another issue for fans of Mariah Carey and Jay Chou (his concert was postponed).

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A new block of seats was set up and I was given an option of being “nearer to the stage”, though in reality the seats were too far to the side. I rejected the offer and had to consider a second tier of seats farther away from the stage.

The Sports Hub management does not seem to know how a world-class facility should be run.

 

​Tan Chin Aik

*Article first appeared on ST Forums (23 Oct 2014)

 

Pastor Joseph Prince’s reported “S$700,000″ Salary – How Much Should A Pastor Earn?

This article from Yahoo! News (here) has been all over my Facebook feed today. So, Pastor Joseph Prince has a reported net worth of S$6.3million?! It definitely raised many eyebrows, including mine. But come to think of it, he heads a mega church, and why shouldn’t his net worth be in the ‘mega’ category as well?

If I run a company with over 30,000 employees, what sort of salary should I reasonably be expected to draw?

And if I run a church with over 30,000 tithing members (and not employees whom I have to pay), what sort of salary should I reasonably be expected to receive?

And ok, the Pastor might have stopped drawing a salary from some time back, but it is of no surprise that his net worth should be at a certain level based on sales of items like books (which made it to the New York Times’ bestseller list), DVDs, CDs, etc.

Is There A Limit As To How Much A Pastor Should Prosper?

In the Bible, it is stated that “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So why is it that when a pastor prospers, man makes noise?

I guess that as a nation, we have not only been let down by various charities and “leaders” who have sought to enrich themselves at the expense of their trusting followers, but also become wary of people who earn ‘obscene’ amounts of money.

I’ve read some comments on Facebook, including DJ Rosalyn Lee’s take:

Pastor Joseph Prince

It seems that there is a certain threshold that high income earners should be careful not to cross if they don’t want to get some backlash from the public. In the pastor’s case, it would be S$100,000.

I wonder though – if I have a pastor who earns more than any other pastor in this country (or region), does this not mean that he is truly a man of God and favored more than any other? Hmm… [Just to be clear on this point: I am not a member of his church and have not visited his church before either]

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Pastors and Money

I guess we expect A LOT from religious folk. Even in modern society, we expect them to denounce certain things, with materialism and “obscene” amounts of money topping the list.

I guess it is why a book with a title like ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ would be most intriguing to many. We do not expect religious people to endorse these trappings of wealth.

Is it our own insecurity (tantamount to admittance to failure) about not being able to earn THIS MUCH that makes us want to ‘slam’ those who do? [Nope, don’t tell me your answer. Just think about it]

And one other important question we have not asked is what he has done with all that money he has earned?

Has he given a portion away?

Has he reinvested this in the church?

Has he bought a Ferrari? Or two?

What is his lifestyle like?

It would be premature to slam a person based on a media report on how much he earns, or is worth without asking more questions first.

But I guess that if you are worth that much, and earn that much, you wouldn’t give two hoots about what people think either.

All I’m saying is that there’s no point being upset. If you want to be in his position and earn that much too, then go run a mega church and write best-selling books and what not.

Also, I can only imagine how much money it requires to upkeep his image. In photographs, he looks more like a pop idol or superstar than my notion of what a pastor looks like. In his shoes, you and I would probably need some work done to our faces, an expensive hairstylist, and swanky outfits. And all of these cost money. So there. Chill.

Money and the Church

I had a pretty bad experience as a kid in church. I remember vividly a day when a pastor asked for donations (perhaps for a building fund or something, I don’t remember). And when the takings fell short of the amount requested, he asked helpers to shut the doors and not allow people out while the bags were passed round again.

There was a mother who wanted to get out so she could secure some hot water for making milk for her infant. But she was told to stay inside till the collection was done.

As a young kid, I knew there was something not right about this. But I didn’t offer to stand up to the “bouncer” at the door.

Now I know that it is actually illegal to force someone to stay indoors against his/her will.

So, really, I don’t care how much pastors earn. If his books are really helpful to the people who buy them, and therefore make the bestseller lists, and earn him a sh*tload of money, good for him. He deserves every penny of it! If YOU think that you can write an equally good (if not better) book, and make the bestseller list too, then DO IT. I’ll be equally happy for you!

If people buy his CDs and DVDs because they are truly inspiring or motivational, and bring about changes and breakthroughs in their lives, then he deserves every cent he makes too! It cannot be that an ordinary singer can make it big and sell tonnes of CDs, and people still support her as a local songbird, but when a pastor does the same, he is condemned!

As long as the congregation is not forced (or encouraged) to buy a CD just to support a church leader (while not really liking any Cheeena Wine sort of songs*), and all is based on free will, then so be it.

*Disclaimer: No reference to any persons living or dead is intended.

If the pastor does indeed earn S$700,000 a year, or more, it is none of your business nor mine. Whether he earns this much or not has no impact on how much you and I earn. 😉If you’d like to earn a similar figure, you can consider doing what he does, or tell your child to aspire to be a pastor, maybe? After all, children are already being told to study law, medicine or accountancy as these careers pay well, aren’t they? Why not add ‘pastor’ to the list? At least we offer them more choices.

 

Working With Grace

*The author blogs at http://workingwithgrace.wordpress.com

 

33 Singaporeans Involved In Tour Bus Crash in Hokkaido Japan Which Killed 2

A bus carrying 33 Singaporean tourists and a Japanese tour guide was involved in a head-on crash with a truck in Hokkaido in Japan on Thursday morning.

The driver of the bus and the truck were both killed in the accident and several of the Singaporean tourists were also injured.

The accident happened at 9:40am on National Highway Number 5 on a two lane road while in Naneo town.

It is understood that the Truck had veered into the opposite lane, coming into the road where the bus was travelling and this caused the crash.

 

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NUS, NTU Executive MBA Graduates Earn Up to 9 Times More Than Average S’poreans

[photo credit: Today]

Singapore universities rank among the top 10 in the Financial Times’s Executive MBA (EMBA) Ranking this year (2014).

The National University of Singapore (NUS)’s joint-EMBA programme with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is ranked fourth this year, moving up one spot from last year.

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Nanyang Business School EMBA programme is ranked eighth, moving up 5 spots from 13th last year.

Another of NUS’s Business School’s Asia-Pacific EMBA programme is also ranked at 18th.

For the average salary three years after graduation (for the alumni graduating in 2010), UCLA-NUS EMBA received an annual salary of US$279,284 (S$355,900).

Graduates from the Nanyang EMBA earned US$221,672.

Interestingly, graduates from the 18th-ranked NUS Asia-Pacific EMBA earned a higher US$244,911 than their NTU counterparts.

This means that the UCLA-NUS and Nanyang EMBA graduates saw salary growths of 78% and 71% respectively.

In a press release from NTU, NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said, “This ranking reflects the strong commitment by NTU’s professors to continually improve the quality education our students receive, looking through a global lens, to provide training that is relevant to boosting careers globally.” 

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On average, business graduates in Singapore earn a higher salary, according to the Graduate Employment Survey 2013.

Global Cost of Talent Index showed that undergraduates in Singapore expect to earn one of the lowest salaries (US$2,743 per month) among the developed countries.

Also, the median income in Singapore, excluding employer CPF, is S$3,250. In contrast, NUS EMBA graduates are able to earn S$29,660, or 9 times more.

In comparison, the gap between a master’s degree graduate and non-master’s degree graduate holder in other developed countries is lower.

A master’s graduate in Singapore can expect to earn similarly to an American counterpart but American and Swiss undergraduates expect to receive salaries 1.5 and 2.5 times higher, respectively, than their Singaporean counterparts.

NTU’s press release also states that the students at NTU’s Nanyang EMBA also comes from an international mix where “International students from about 15 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, including China, France and Nigeria, make up about 70 per cent of the 70 to 80 participants that the Nanyang EMBA accepts each year. The programme, taught by internationally diverse faculty, is offered in either English for international students or Chinese language for Chinese students.”

Earlier this year, the Ministry for Education revealed that “tuition grants for international students total about $210 million per year”.

The Financial Times conduct the EMBA ranking every year to evaluate the EMBA programmes offered by the top 100 business schools from around the world. 

 

Tharman: We Must Always Fight Against Intolerance and Prejudice

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shangumaratnam said yesterday that Singaporeans must “fight the dark forces” of ignorance and bigotry.

He explained that we need to forge societies based on mutual understandings and openness.

He was writing a Deepavali facebook status from Beijing where he is currently attending the Apex Finance Ministers’ meeting.

Read the full status here:

A happy Deepavali to all Hindus, and everyone who appreciates and treasures Singapore’s diversity! I’m having to celebrate this year’s Deepavali in my mind – in Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, amidst a meeting of APEC Finance Ministers.

There are several Indian legends behind why Deepavali (or Diwali) is called the “Festival of Lights”. But the essential spirit behind it is universal. It is about the human spirit: the triumph of the light of learning and understanding over the darkness of ignorance and bigotry.

The winds are unfortunately blowing the other way. We are seeing a rise in religious and ethnic tensions and conflicts, almost everywhere in the world today.

The headlines are about the Middle-East – the growth of Islamist aggression against the Kurds, Christians and Yazidis, in defiance of the long history of Muslim civilisation that was in fact relatively free of the persecutions of people of other faiths and holocausts that marked other civilisations; the surge in Sunni-Shia rivalry within the Muslim world; and the denial of Palestinian rights to co-existence.

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But the problems are elsewhere too. In the continuing rise of the religious right in Christianity and Hinduism. And in the discrimination against minorities and rise of ethnic nationalism, in parts of Europe and Asia.

We cannot just hope for a better world. The problems are in fact likely to get worse, and over many years, before they get better. Fighting this requires leadership, internationally and in each of our societies, collective will, and everyday actions by all of us.

We must keep Singapore a place where tolerance is part of everyday life. And more than tolerance: we must be a society founded on open-mindedness, empathy and understanding of each other. Where there is some give and take, so we live easily with each other. Where every kid grows up with friends of other races and religions. There is more to be done. So that we remain a peaceful place, a place where the flame of human spirit stays alive against the winds of intolerance.

https://www.facebook.com/TharmanShanmugaratnam/photos/a.499542176741945….

 

Dutch pranksters trick Food Experts into thinking McDonald’s is gourmet food

You can tell your Maccy D’s from your Michelin star grub, right?

In further proof that you only need to mention the word ‘organic’ to get positive food reviews, a pair of reporters for Dutch media outlet Lifehunters have tricked foodies at a European food expo into believing that bog standard McDonald’s fare was actually fancy gourmet grub.

Sacha and Cedrique styled classic McDonald’s offerings such as burgers, chicken nuggets and muffins into bitesized canape style snacks on square white presentation plates with cocktail sticks, and watched in amazement as the compliments came flooding in.

Here are some of the best reactions…

Pure. He thinks it’s pure

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

And she totally agrees

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

Mr fancy glasses man felt the ‘warmth’ in his mouth *sniggers*

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

While Mr fancy glasses man no. 2 compares Maccy D’s to fine wine

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

This guy likes that it’s ‘firm’

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

MOIST. She actually said said moist

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

Oh no, you wouldn’t want it too sticky

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

So, in summary, we’ll leave you with the wise words of Professor Mustache*

*Possibly not his real name

MacDonald's, MacDonald's video, People trick food snobs into thinking MacDonald's is gourmet food, People tricked into think MacDonald's is organic, Lifehunters TV, Life Hunters

(Picture: Youtube/ Lifehunterstv)

Check out the full video here…

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[Via: Metro UK]

NSP: Establish a Public Interest Declassification Board

BELOW IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY ON 23 OCTOBER 2014:

A clear understanding of our nation’s history is key to building a strong, unified nation.  A Public Interest Declassification Board will serve to plug the gaps in our collective social memory, thus playing a vital role in nation-building. 

Earlier this month, the PAP Government launched a reprint of ‘The Battle for Merger’, a compilation of speeches made by Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1961 and originally published in 1962.

In his speech at the book’s launch, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that book would “provide a reality check” to attempts by some historians to recast the role played by communists and their supporters on the issue.

They portray the fight as merely a peaceful and democratic disagreement over the type of merger. They ignore the more fundamental agenda of the communists to seize power by subversion and armed revolution,” he said. [1]

The PAP Government’s re-publication comes as it classified a documentary by Singaporean filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, ‘To Singapore with Love’ as ‘Not allowed for all ratings’, which means it cannot be screened in public or distributed within Singapore.

According to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the film is “a self-serving personal account, conveniently inaccurate in places, glossing over facts in others“.[2]

Ironically, at least one academic has made similar allegations about “The ‘Battle for Merger’ – i.e. that it is “self-serving”.[3]

Another academic,  Dr Hong Lysa, commenting on ‘Operation Coldstore’ (another security operation launched in Singapore on 2 February 1963 in which about 111 anti-merger activists were arrested and detained) says in her blog entry[4]that “revisionist history” challenges the PAP Story and tells of the “struggle between the ‘pseudo-anticolonialist right-wing’ and the ‘genuine socialist anti-colonialists’.

While the Media Development Board has classified Tan Pin Pin’s film ‘Not rated for public viewing”, it has not banned the film.  The general public are entitled to view the film privately.  In any case, hundreds of Singaporeans have already crossed the border to watch the film in Malaysia when it was screened as part of a film festival there.

By now, most informed citizens would have heard the Government’s narrative of the events leading to our independence. They would also have access to the various ‘revisionist histories’.

declassified

How do these citizens decide for themselves which one they should believe?  If we accept the axiom “History is written by the victors” then the scepticism that a considerable number of such citizens would have regarding the official narrative is understandable.

As our 50th anniversary of independence draws near, there is considerable public interest in the history of modern Singapore.  At the same time, there seems to be huge gap in our collective social memory.

In March this year, a call was made for the Government to bridge this gap by legislating a thirty-year rule Declassification Act, where Cabinet papers are released to the public domain after a thirty-year period.  The Government responded that it would not be not prepared to enact such a legislation.  It said that it would release information only to encourage good governance[5].

This discretion that the Government exercises as to which information it should release and which it should not, is not in the interest of the general public. The Government had previously clarified in Parliament that public interest is “not sufficient reason to disclose information[6].

The Government’s reluctance to declassify some of these documents is understandable when the classified papers relate to national defence, foreign relations and internal security.  The Government should have regard to public interest – especially when it is on the issue of collective social memory, for it is only with such a memory that we can build a strong, unified nation.

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It is for this reason that the National Solidarity Party calls for the Government to establish a Public Interest Declassification Board – an advisory committee with the mandate to promote the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of extraordinary public interest. The members of this Board should comprise of elected Members of Parliament from the different political parties, reputable members of civil society and academics.

It is unreasonable for the Governing Party to assuage the general public to trust its discretion in such matters especially when the same Party has been the Government for over 50 years.  Clearly, there are chances that such discretion may be exercised in a self-serving manner.

Especially when Singapore does not have legislation like the Freedom of Information Act or the Declassification Act, the establishment of Public Interest Declassification Board will demonstrate to the general public that matters of public interest are important to the Government, and that it is prepared to release classified papers provided they do not compromise matters of security and/or sensitive matters of bilateral relationship with other countries.

Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, Secretary-General
On behalf of the 15th Central Executive Committee
of the NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY

[3] “Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-building Project” By Michael D. Barr at Page 28

[6] Parliamentary Debates on “CEO-DESIGNATE OF TEMASEK HOLDINGS (Resignation)” 18-08-2009 at Column: 936 found at this link: http://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/topic.jsp?currentTopicID=00003510-WA&curr…

 

Source: http://nsp.sg