When my son was in primary school, the school would send notifications to parents printed on A4 paper tucked into the student’s communication handbook. Then, they decided to “go green”. No more printed papers. We had to check some app to see the notifications. I didn’t find it particularly irksome until we had to sign consent forms. The app was not designed with a function that allowed us to sign digitally. We had to print out the forms ourselves, sign and return to the school. The school had gone green and “paperless” at our expense.
Fast forward to the present. From Bloomberg:
Major supermarket chains in Singapore have started charging for plastic bags, a government move designed to encourage shoppers to use reusable totes that is years behind countries including South Korea and Japan.
Beginning Monday, around 400 outlets — or two-thirds of all supermarkets in Singapore — are required to charge shoppers at least S$0.05 ($0.04) for each disposable bag. The fee applies to bags of any material type, though plastic is by far the most commonly used material at major grocery stores such as FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Cold Storage.
“Whether they are made of paper, plastics, or biodegradable materials, disposables have an impact on our environment during their production, transportation, and disposal,” Singapore’s National Environment Agency said on its website. Consumption of disposables will generate waste and carbon emissions, worsening the climate crisis, it said.
Under its Zero Waste Masterplan, Singapore aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to its only landfill each day by 30% by 2030. But compared with other Asian countries, Singapore has been a laggard when it comes to slowing down plastic consumption in stores. In Japan, a mandatory charge on plastic bags in all retail shops was put in place in 2020, while South Korea banned single-used plastic bags at major supermarkets in 2019. Thailand also banned single-use plastic bags at major stores in 2020.
I have written on the issue of reusable grocery bags versus plastic bags some time ago. Studies have shown that they are not as environment friendly as previously thought. The thing that many policy makers (who probably never need to take the trash out) don’t realise, is that our disposable grocery bags are not really single-use. We reuse them to bag our trash before we throw it down the rubbish chute. This latest exercise of not providing bags for free is not different from my son’s school’s “paperless” scheme. When trash bags need to be use, the consumer ends up paying for it. I’m sure many of you, like me, are running out of trash bags. What do we do?
$0.05 is a lot to pay for a plastic carrier bag. It’s much cheaper to buy from Shopee, bring for shopping, then bring bag to bag refuse.
Oblivious to how the 老百姓 go about their daily lives or pretending not to know, the policy makers have effectively implemented a policy that will pass the cost of bagging our refuse to the us, the 老百姓 without really cutting down the use of plastic bags.
When this issue was brought up in Parliament, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment had the following to say:
Yao mo gao chor ah? I don’t know about you, but cooking at home, my trash gets bagged and emptied about 2-3 times a day. How long does Dr Khor take to finish a bag of rice? How long does she take to finish one bag of toilet rolls?
A PLP friend once said to me: “PAP candidates have to undergo a very stringent selection process. They are simply the best of the best in Singapore. It’s impossible that they are as stupid as you imagine.”
Just like Kong Hee’s or Mao Zedong’s followers. Blind faith in someone or some institution they regard as their saviour. To make the school’s notifications to parents truly paperless, they should have come up with an app that allowed digital signatures. To cut down the use of plastic bag, the policy makers should have come up with a revolutionary system for the disposal of perishable waste – like a high power flushing system for fish/chicken bones, leftovers, used teabags, egg shells etc. It’s incredibly inconsiderate to deny us free plastic bags for grocery purchases while we are still expected to bag our trash with plastic bags.
Two prominent Singaporeans died last week on 8 July 2023. Professor Lim Chong Yah, an eminent economist who led a body forging wage consensus for Singaporean workers for nearly three decades had passed away. You can read more about him over here. Prof Lim is the father of Lee (Lim) Suet Fern. Will Lee Hsien Yang and his wife return to Singapore to attend the funeral? It’s going to be awkward.
Then, Law Society president Adrian Tan, who wrote the bestselling books “The Teenage Textbook” and “The Teenage Workbook” in the late 1980s, passed away on 8 July 2023 at age 57. You can read more about him over here.
I remember Adrian for the things he said. At the height of West-bashing during the early 1990s when Singapore first recognised the PRC, he spoke on TV, saying that it’s OK that we take on Asian immigrants who share our culture and not Westerners.
Then recently, he argued strongly in favour of the death penalty for drug mules. 57 is not quite the median lifespan for the average Singapore In some ways, Adrian himself had received the death penalty from Mother Nature. As I’ve always said, 得饶人处且饶人。We should never be too eager to take away someone’s life. Unfortunate things can happen to anyone. If you want my autograph, do get it before I’m gone.
A TikTok post by local actress Kimberly Chia’s husband Vincent Yeo recently gained attention after he defended her against trolls.
In May, the 35-year-old businessman posted a video on the platform, listing three things he has never seen before. “One, alien Transformers. Two, dinosaur Transformers. Three, a girl more beautiful than you,” Yeo wrote, referring to Kimberly as she walks shyly towards the camera in the video clip.
As expected, Mr Yeo received some mean remarks. Someone said he had stamps over his eyes. Someone says Kimberly is just a plain Jane. Someone said that he ought to meet more people. Well, this is what I have to say.
The public has gotten a bit smarter nowadays. They know that fabulous things they see from influencers on social media are not as good as they appear in reality. Everything is filtered or 摆拍. Influencers will never show their ugly side. The smarter followers know that but manage to hold their peace and enjoy the wayang. But the moment the influencers go overboard and brag about their “perfect life”, someone in the crowd will have something to say.
As for the plastic bag crisis, I have the solution but not the power to implement. Our government may have its own solution but it shouldn’t be one that doesn’t really reduce the use of plastic bags; merely passing the cost of those plastic bags to us 老百姓.