As in 2009, this time, too, President Barack Obama will be sworn in twice. In 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr fumbled while administering the oath of office during the inauguration ceremony, so Obama had to take the oath again. January 20 – the day the president has to be sworn in, according to the US Constitution – was a Sunday this year, so there could be no public ceremony. Obama took the oath of office in a private ceremony at the White House. Justice Roberts made no mistake this time. The ceremony went off without a hitch. The public ceremony follows today when up to 800,000 people are expected to gather on the National Mall for the inaugural festivities. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower in 1957 and Ronald Reagan in 1985 also had to be sworn in twice when their second terms commenced, a private oath-taking ceremony on a Sunday followed by a public inaugural the next day.
“Even with the 36% pay cut, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will still be one of the highest-paid political leaders in the world with S$2.2 million ($1.7 million, £1.08 million) a year, reports the BBC.
The fact is, not just PM Lee, all Singapore ministers and President Tony Tan will continue to be among the highest paid leaders in the world.
Even an entry-level Singapore minister, after the proposed pay cut, will continue to be paid more than US President Barack Obama.Continue Reading
Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew turned 87 today. "I know if I rest, I'll slide downhill fast," he said in an interview which appeared in the New York Times last week, and now he is visiting Moscow and Paris.
An election seems round the corner with the government listening to the people, tightening immigration, offering more Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats.
So, I have been wondering today, will MM Lee stand in the next election?
He will be in his 90s when the next parliament is dissolved.
Even then he won't be the oldest lawmaker on record.
That honour goes to Strom Thurmond, who was a senator representing North Carolina when he died at the age of 100 in 2003. He had been a senator since 1956.
The oldest US senator now is Robert Byrd, in his 90s, who has been representing West Virginia since 1959.
Born in November 1917, he is five years older than MM Lee.
MM Lee was only 35 when he was elected prime minister in 1959, much younger than Obama, who became president at 47 in January 2009.
Is the English language being "dumbed down" as it goes global? Not necessarily. Newspapers and magazines have always tried to be reader-friendly, to their particular readers, at least. So an article by HL Mencken, a famous American journalist from the early 20th century, contains fewer long words than a New York Times column by William Safire, who began his career in the mid-1950s.
But first let's look at some newspapers and magazines. This is how The Straits Times, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker and The Economist fared in the reading test.
You can calculate the readability of any website by typing in the URL on this page: http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php
It breaks down the words by the number of syllables, shows the average number of words in a sentence, and gives the Flesch Reading Ease score and the Gunning Fog Index score. The higher the reading ease score, the easier it is to read, and the higher the "fog index" score, the harder it is to understand. You can see more on the tests on the Juicy Studio page and in Wikipedia.
Lee Kuan Yew, Manmohan Singh, Amartya Sen, Sachin Tendulkar among world’s most influential people: Time
Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is on the 2010 Time 100 List — not as a leader but as a thinker."There is no better strategic thinker in the world today," says former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Time entry on him. Wow!
Asians who make the Time list as leaders are Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatayama, United Arab Emirates President and ruler of Dubai Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Baidu founder Robin Li, Acer Group chairman JT Wang and Bo Xilai, boss of the city of Chongqing in China.
On the Time list of thinkers are the Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen and social worker Sanjit "Bunker" Roy, both from India.
Among other Indians on the list are cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, writer Chetan Bhagat, eye surgeon Perumalsamy Namperumalsamy and Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. Here's the full list with links to Time entries on these movers and shakers.
This is what change looks like — President Barack Obama speaking after the historic healthcare reform bill was passed:
Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America's families and America's small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve. ( Full text here posted by the White House.)
Eloquent as ever, Obama has now achieved what he set out to do — bringing universal health care to America, one year, two months and one day after being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
Here is a flashback to that day, January 20, 2009: Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing This Land Is Your Land at Obama's inauguration — and Obama smiling during his swearing-in ceremony when Chief Justice John Roberts was the first to say: "Congratulations, Mr President!"
Joseph Nye mentions Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his book, The Powers to Lead. He writes:
Setting the right example is another crucial form of communication for leaders. Anticipating a sceptical public reaction when Singapore raised the salaries of government officials in 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that he would forgo the raise for himself.
I read that on the day the Straits Times reported how the Prime Minister had praised the people for their resilience during the recession.
While the government protected jobs by helping employers pay their workers, those looking for work had accepted whatever they could find.
And that, he said, had kept unemployment low — only 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Thailand's was even lower, at 1.8 per cent during the second quarter of last year, according to the International Labour Organization. (It did not give later figures for Thailand.) Workers who had lost their jobs in Thailand, Indonesia and much of Southeast Asia were starting their own little businesses in the informal sector, said the ILO's Global Employment Trends report.
But in Singapore the job supply increased.
More people were working by the end of last year than at any other time in the past decade, I noted last Friday when the Ministry of Manpower released its fourth quarter estimate.
So how has the Singapore government done compared with others if leaders are evaluated like workers — with performance indexed to pay?
Let's look at the world's 10 highest paid leaders and see how their economies have performed.
As you can see from the table, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is the only one who can say he has kept his economy from shrinking.
Here's the full text of US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. In this video clip, Obama says:
I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.
I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.
Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.
The Singapore government can pat itself on the back for keeping Singapore free from the racial and religious tensions that flare up in Malaysia. But, while the government encourages religious harmony, could there be another reason why Singapore is unlike Malaysia? Look at the ethnic makeup of the two countries.
Singapore is overwhelmingly Chinese: 74.7% of the population is Chinese, 13.6% Malay, 8.9% Indian, while others make up 2.8%, according to Singapore in Figures 2009 by the Singapore Department of Statistics.
Malaysia is not so overwhelmingly Malay: 53% of the population is Malay, 26% Chinese, 8% Indian, while the indigenous people make up 12%, according to the Financial Times article, "Allah" spat marks ethnic Malays' insecurity, published last week.
Countries and regions where ethnic groups are more evenly split can be prone to racial tensions. Look at Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Northern Ireland. The state of Assam in northeastern Indian provides a parallel to Malaysia. Assam also has ethnic-based political parties like Malaysia's Umno, born out of the indigenes' resentment against other ethnic groups.
Singapore might have simmered with similar tensions, too, if the ethnic groups had been more evenly balanced.
What makes me think so?
Because of the widespread resentment against foreigners in Singapore. Singaporeans naturally don't like having to compete with foreigners for jobs and housing. And they see foreigners everywhere. As this chart shows, Singaporeans make up just 64 per cent of the population in Singapore: 3.2 million of the 4.98 million population are Singapore citizens, 533,200 are permanent residents and the rest are foreigners, according to Statistics Singapore.