Special Employment Credit


During this year’s budget report, when Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam touched on Special Employment Credit (SEC) and he mentioned about the enhancements, I was heartened to learn of the changes.

When I became the accidental boss, I had hoped to create a wonderful working conditions and environment for my staff. I mean, we spent most of our life working, if we don’t enjoy working, it would mean most of our life will be spent living miserably. Things I’ve introduced to make working more enjoyable: flexi hours, choice of working from home, off days on birthdays, child’s birthday, wedding anniversary etc. I also give my staff a lot of autonomy in the day-to-day operations.

All along, I’ve known my company’s operations are such that it is suitable for certain candidates who are graduates of special education. And fate would have it, I’ve employed a staff who graduated from special education.  It was all coincidental. The employment was simply based on the candidate’s technical knowledge and experience. That was all. I look past the candidate’s special education and was evaluated as I would any others. And my staff in fact, at times, performed above my expectations.

Sorry for the digression.

Anyway, this year, the SEC enhancements made were such that the SEC has been extended to cover younger workers (aged 50 years and below) who are graduates of the special education schools. The government’s objective was to encourage employers to hire them, so that more of them will be able to enter the workforce and remain independent.

I applaud the government’s effort and direction in making Singapore a more inclusive society. I’ve employed my staff as equals and I’ve already budgeted for their current salary. I did not employ my staff because of the SEC so I’ve decided to pass the company’s savings (SEC) to my staff instead.

Extension of Special Employment Credit (SEC)

To support employment of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) who have graduated from VWO-run Special Education (SPED) schools, the SEC will be extended to employers who hire these graduates. The SEC for PWDs will be set at 16% of the employee’s monthly income, up to $240 per month.

-Singapore Budget 2012

I hope more companies will do the same too. It is the combined effort of the government, employers and citizens to make our Singapore a more inclusive society.

Quietly, We Are 12

On one late night, while working and typing away on the PC, I suddenly realised that the birthday of SingaporeBrides.com went past without notice.  In fact, I’ve cleanly forgotten about it. SingaporeBrides.com was launched 12 years ago, on 1st of April. With such date, I thought it would be easy to be reminded. Someone pulls a prank on me and I would suddenly, “Aha! Today is SingaporeBrides.com’s birthday!”

Apparently, reality is weirder than fiction. :p

I sent an email to all my 12 staff and letting them know that we had become 12. (Yes, for those who noticed, we had added one more staff this year too.)

I forgot about the birthday not because I no longer view it as a milestone. No, it is still an important date. A year forward, is a year survived and I’ll always count my blessings. A year survived, is another year the company had provided for myself, my family, my staff and their family.  It is especially gratifying as it was a tumultuous 2011 and winter is coming.

Running a company is not easy and it is only going to get worse.  If you’ve noticed, the technological cycle and change have gotten quicker and shorter.  In two short years, with the introduction of the iPad, the netbook category was totally decimated by Apple. Similarly, the Wintel PC companies have no response to the market share gain by iPad and the sales of Wintel PC and laptops have languished. In two short years, giants like HP and Dell have been chopped off at the knee by the Apple sword in one clean strike.

These are the worries that keep me awake at night. For my company’s sake, I always have to be vigilant. I can’t allow my company to fall during my watch. I am responsible for my staff.

I forgot the birthday simply because we were all too busy. We had a company offsite meeting at the end of last year. We have been very focus in implementing the ideas and plans that we had from the meeting.

We became a GST registered company in 2010, not by choice but was mandatory by law. That’s because our company revenue had crept past the one million dollar mark.  In 2011, even under tough environment, we managed to keep our revenue passing the magical one million dollar mark.

I guess, from a one man show started 12 years ago to the current company with 12 staff, we do have much to cheer.

Happy Birthday, SingaporeBrides.com.

Apple’s Numbers in a Nutshell


By now you’ve seen the numbers. Just in case, the keys:

Revenue: $39.2 billion

Profit: $11.6 billion

iPhones: 35.1 million

iPads: 11.8 million

Macs: 4 million

iPods: 7.7 million

The first stand-out number is the 35 million iPhones sold. Before last quarter’s insane 37 million sold, 20 million had been the previous record. Hard to fathom that Apple almost matched their record this quarter (which was a non-holiday quarter and a week shorter than last quarter).

But the real stand-out is the 47.4 percent gross margin Apple hit for the quarter. When they were at 44 percent last quarter, company executives went out of their way to note that they probably wouldn’t hit that type of margin again. Instead, they shot past it.

The reason is likely because the iPhone accounted for a larger portion of Apple’s revenues since the new iPad was only on sale for a couple of weeks last quarter (and older iPad sales dipped leading up to the new one). The iPad has a worse (but still very healthy) margin than the iPhone. 

In other words, it would be hard to imagine the margin continuing to rise. 50 percent sounds impossible. But then again, 47 percent sounded impossible. 

Apple’s Numbers in a Nutshell

The Beer Hawker: Clean up the cleaning agencies, please.

NEA created the problem, they jolly well solve it! How dare they chatise the hawkers? Just because they are hawkers, they think that they do not deserve respect?  They were the ones who made themselves looked bad! Not the papers, and definitely not the hawkers!

This made my blood boils!


Earlier this year, just before Chinese New Year, some of you may remember that I complained on Facebook that the cleaning situation in Chinatown Complex was in a mess. Apparently, the cleaning contractor had absconded with all the money that us stall owners had paid up for that month, and could…

The Beer Hawker: Clean up the cleaning agencies, please.

Father and Son.  In a page, it condenses all the complexities of a father and son relationship. (Batman and Robin #8, by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason)

Like Father, Like Son

It’s been 12 years since my father had passed away. We went to Choa Chu Kang Cemetery this morning to 扫墓 (grave-sweeping).  In the first few years, my mum, my sister, my wife and myself, we would cater a cab for about 2 hours and visit the cemetery to perform the traditional rituals.  I have since bought my own car and now I would drive the family (including my two sons) for the annual ritual. Many things have changed during these 12 years. 可是, 我思念的心, 依然依旧。

Like most Chinese father and son relationship, we seldom talked. I know he loves me but there were always a quiet distance between us, just because we are father and son.

I always remember the photo with my dad in his wheelchair, holding up his champagne glass and shouting “Yum Seng” with all the guests at my wedding. His facial expression was beaming with pride and happiness. And I’ll always remember my mum and myself catching him stealing a sip after the “Yum Seng” shouting session. I remember my mum quietly letting dad finish stealing his sip. It was a special day.

I also remember my last breakfast with dad just a few days before he passed away. It was a weekend and I had an appointment that morning. My mum had asked me to join dad for breakfast at a coffee shop near our block. I’m glad that I did. My father’s speech was slurred as that was the after-effect of surving a bad stroke but we chatted.

I also remember whispering into his ears about my aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur and decision to start my own business when he was lying in a coma in the hospital. A few days later, my dad passed away.

Today. I’ve a successful business. When I started my business, I actually wondered if I had what it takes to become a businessman like my father. Although my results are not as impressive as my dad’s yet but I intend to live up to it.

My dad works 7 days a week and seldom had vacations or rest days. He was always busy. I never understood why when I was a kid. Now, I work 7 days a week and seldom have rest days and I understand why. He had been working hard to provide for the family as I am now.

My dad’s only relaxation was watching TV after he reaches home around 8pm. He would watch TV till near midnight before he sleeps. Me, I also relaxes by watching the box with a slight improvement…. Sometimes I would rent streaming videos from iTunes through Apple TV to watch. Heh!

My father has a fiery temper. I’ve that too. Fortunately, I’ve learnt to control that.

After my dad passed away, I began to see many of my dad’s traits in me. I never realised I’m so much of my father’s son. The quiet distance between dad and myself has narrowed through the years.

Dad, I hope you are proud of me.

I miss you.