Monday, January 31, 2011

Tourists to Singapore beware: Singapore's Sim Lim Square is a den of scammers.

Singapore's Sim Lim Square is a den of scammers. And United Square Cam, with a foul-mouthed salesman, is amongst them.

Read about it here (YouTube here) and here.

More horror stories from the scam victims here.

You can find scams and tricks employed by the Sim Lim Square scoundrels collected here.

The web is where the scammers and fraudsters can now be permanently named and shamed in front of the entire world.

This is the power of the web and global communication in action, and I am using it.


ps. JW World Pte Ltd,  #01-42 Sim Lim Square,  is apparently another scumbag, as evidenced by the following incident (source):




Customer Service
Apple Pty Ltd

Re: JW World Pte Ltd - #01-42 Sim Lim Square Singapore
- Reseller of Apple Products

 Dear Sir/Madam:

On 30th April 2012, we went to Sim Lim Square to buy a Mac Air and Ipad 3.

We bought the Mac Air from an Apple authorised reseller and the service was excellent.

Unfortunately they don’t have Ipad 3 so we went to a few stores to compare prices. JW World Pte Ltd quoted us SG$ 535 for a 16 GB Wifi Ipad 3. We asked why are they cheaper from the shop next door who quoted a SG$658 price with international warranty. They said they are a wholesaler. We asked if it covers international warranty and were told that it will cost SG$49. At this stage, there was no mention of the SG$49 being for one month warranty only. He then filled up a form with SG$49 on the form where it says “Registration/International Warranty”. The shop attendant asked my cousins (Edna/Raul Mariano) to sign the form which Raul did. We agreed with the price and he asked for the payment of the Ipad 3 so we gave them SG$535. He then opened the box and we were advised that he will do the activation but it will cost another SG$19. We were becoming a bit suspicious but we gave them the benefit of the doubt that we are not being conned. One of the shop attendant then opened the box and turned on the Ipad 3. He then said, he has to go out of the shop to register the international warranty.

My cousins and I were looking at each other as our instincts are telling us something is not right. Since the shop attendant already took the SG$535, we were a bit uneasy. He then came back and took the form that my cousin signed and then wrote the amount of SG$588 and told us that we need to pay additional SG$588 for the 12 months warranty. We were shocked and that is when it dawned on us this is a set up. We told them that no way we are paying that much for warranty for a gadget which is only SG$535. We told them that we don’t want the warranty anymore. They said, they cannot cancel the registration of international warranty as it has been upload in the “server”. Me and my cousins are in our 50’s and we are not very technical in regard to new gadgets. We argued and argued for almost 3 hours and they refused to give us the money back nor the Ipad 3 untill we pay the SG$588.

While my cousins were arguing, I rang Apple Singapore Customer Service and advised them of our dilemma. The Apple Customer Service guy asked me to give the Serial Number of the Ipad 3 to check or authenticate the unit. While reading the serial number, the shop attendant suddenly took the box from me but I still managed to give the serial number. The Apple guy confirmed the serial number from the system. I was also advised that it is covered with 12 months international warranty already. I asked the Apple guy to talk to the shop attendant but the shop attendant was not interested in talking to him and he kept saying the line is dropping. During this time, the manager of the shop came and started to argue more that they will reduce the warranty from 12 months to 3 months, so we have to pay SG$210 extra for them to release the unit. He then told us that when the 3 month warranty expires, some of the applications will not work e.g. Safari, You Tube, App Store, etc. So my cousins said, we will take the risk as we just want to get the unit we paid for. The shop manager then took the Ipad 3, turned it on and did something, which we were not able to see what he was doing on the unit.

We went back to our hotel after almost over 3 hours and we were really exhausted. My niece opened the Ipad 3 to try and test the unit. Lo and behold the following apps are missing:
Safari, YouTube, Clock, Stocks, Utilities, App Store, Itunes, etc.

The shop manager deleted all the foregoing applications. It was just a shocker. This was a gift for her by her mother and we went through so much. We rang Apple Customer Service again and was advised to go to Apple Centre when we get back to the Philippines.
I took a photo of the shop (as per ABOVE). The two figures on the right are my cousins who were very exhausted with this unfortunate experience.

To prove that they have been doing these to others, they issued a Cash Sale receipt without company details. When my cousin showed me the piece of paper, I went back to the shop and advised them that we need a proper Tax Invoice so we can get the GST refund from Singapore Customs at the airport. They were a bit hesitant to give us the Tax invoice but I showed them a GST refund receipt we got when we bought the Mac Air. That’s when he was forced to hand over the GST refund receipt with the proper Tax Invoice.

When my cousins went back to Manila, they took the Ipad 3 to iStudio-Authorised Apple reseller and was that the applications originally loaded have been deleted. — at JW WORLD @ SIM LIM SQUARE SINGAPORE.


More Sim Lim Square scam reports (source)


Sim Lim Square Scam Tactics (source)

Many shops in Sim Lim Square resort to scam tactics to reap higher profits. The unwary shopper might fall into the traps of unscrupulous sellers.

No pricetag scam

Products without a pricetag are subjected to varying quotes from the seller. The seller will judge how the buyer approaches them before quoting a price - usually higher than stores displaying pricetags. Sellers will also try to convince the buyer after a bargaining session that the price they offer are the best by making the conversation seem secretive.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) scam

In this scam, sellers would first quote potential buyers a price and then just before the buyer makes the payment they'd tell the buyer that they'll need to pay 7% GST on top of the quoted price. Most people would take this as something that they have no choice but to pay for. However, this is not true.

GST registration is not mandatory for all shops in Singapore; GST registration is only mandatory if the turnover of a business entity exceeds S$1m annually. A proper GST registered retailer is also required to quote prices inclusive of GST during a sale and at the same reflect their GST registration number prominently on the sales invoices along with the exact amount of GST paid.

Missing component scam

In this scam, the seller would quote the buyer a price that seemed either unbelievably cheap or very reasonable. After the buyer makes the purchase, the seller would then ask the buyer if he/she would like to purchase an accessory that would otherwise have been bundled with the product.

For example, if a buyer is making a purchase for an Apple iPod, a seller using this tactic may inform the buyer after a purchase transaction that they'd have to buy the USB data cable. Without the data cable, the buyer can neither charge nor sync the iPod and is thus forced to make the purchase.

Counterfeit scam

This largely applies for software, but also to hardware at times. Earlier this year, some SLS shops were busted by the police for selling counterfeit copies of Microsoft Windows.

Many stores are also selling counterfeit copies of the popular Apple iPod music players. They have the same packaging, material, shape and even colour choices. But what's inside of these chinese "MP4" players are nothing like a real iPod.

Top-up scam

In this scam, the seller would convince the buyer to purchase something that he/she would later find to be unsatisfactory (e.g. faulty) and then offer the buyer a top-up for a pricier product.
Note that SLS shops usually do not allow the buyer to test a brand new unit unless they commit to buy it.

Also, unlike large stores like Harvey Norman, most SLS stores do not have a refund policy. In fact, it is almost impossible for these small shops to honour a refund policy due to the way their business operates with cash stock. So before making payment, buyers should insist that they test the product. If it's a product that can't be tested (such as RAM or hard drive), make very sure that it's covered by a manufacturer's warranty, not the store's own warranty!

Bait-and-Switch scam

In this scam, the seller and buyer negotiate for one item, but the seller delivers another. For example, the buyer is seeking a 16GB memory card, but is handed an 8GB card. If the buyer doesn't notice the switch before the money is exchanged, or the switch is done after the money is exchanged, the buyer will pretend that the negotiation was always for the inferior product. Even if the buyer has not yet left the store, the seller will refuse a return or echange.


Sim Lim Square sets up complaint kiosk
23 June 2012 (source)

In the first six months of this year, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) received 113 complaints against Sim Lim Square retailers.

This compared with 183 complaints for the whole of 2011.

To better manage disputes between retailers and shoppers, the consumer watchdog and the shopping mall's management committee have set up a counter near the information booth on level one at Sim Lim Square.

From July, consumers who are unhappy with their shopping experience at Sim Lim Square can lodge their complaints to CASE online, with the help of the customer service officers who have been trained by CASE.

President of Consumers Association of Singapore Yeo Guat Kwang said: "Through this initiative, we hope to promote fair dealing practices at Sim Lim Square and weed out errant retailers who deceive or mislead consumers."

This initiative is a three-month long pilot programme. CASE said it could be rolled out to other shopping malls in future if it's effective.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Suppressing dissent in Singapore: Human Rights Watch's World Report 2011

Quoting Human Rights Watch on Singapore in 2010:

In November 2010 British author and journalist Alan Shadrake (Wikipedia) was found guilty on charges of "scandalizing the judiciary" and sentenced to  six weeks in jail in addition to a fine and court costs. He claimed in his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock (reviewed here), that Singapore's mandatory death penalty for murder, treason, and some 20 drug trafficking-related offenses is not being applied as equitably as the government contends. Shadrake's book concludes that the judicial process is subject to political and economic pressures, including from the ruling party, and biased against the "weak," "poor," or "less-educated." During the trial, the prosecution warned media outlets that publicizing Shadrake's allegations could lead to charges against them.

Government authorities continue to closely regulate public meetings, demonstrations, and processions. In May 2010 Vincent Cheng (Wikipedia), held under the Internal Security Act in 1987 as the alleged leader of a Marxist conspiracy, agreed for the first time to speak publicly about his treatment in detention at a seminar, Singapore's History: Who Writes the Script, organized by students from the History Society of the National University of Singapore. The National Library Board, the venue's sponsor, however, rescinded the invitation and the event went ahead without Cheng's participation.

A lower court's 2009 acquittal of three leaders and two supporters of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) charged with conducting a procession without a permit became in 2010 yet another setback for free assembly when a high court reversed the decision on appeal. Siok Chin Chee, a member of the central committee of the SDP, was sentenced to five short jail terms in 2010 for distributing political flyers without a permit.

(Comments on Singapore's human rights)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Suppressing dissent in Singapore: First they came for the communists

First They came...       - Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Căluşari of Romania

The Căluşari (Romanian pronunciation: [kəluˈʃarʲ]) were the members of a Romanian fraternal secret society who practiced a ritual acrobatic dance known as the căluş.

Suppressing dissent in Singapore: Confucius confounded

From Confucius Confounded, by Francis Seow:

On Oct 4, 1956, Lee, very presciently, said: "Repression, sir, is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love -- it is always easier the second time!

"The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course, with constant repetition, you get more and more brazen in the attack.

"First the conscience is disturbed by a sense of guilt. You attack only those whom your Special Branch can definitely say are communists. They have no proof except what X told Z who told Alpha who told Beta who told the Special Branch.

"Then you attack those whom your Special Branch say are actively sympathising with and helping the communists, although they are not communists themselves.

"Then you attack those whom your Special Branch say although they are not communists or fellow travellers, yet, by their intransigent opposition to any collaboration with colonialism, they encourage the spirit of revolt and weaken constituted authority and thereby, according to the Special Branch, they are aiding the communists.

"Then, finally, since you have gone that far, you attack all those who oppose you..."
(Book review here.)

Chersonesus Aurea

Chersonesus Aurea on Ptolemy's world map (c. 150 CE):

Understanding Islam with Abdal Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter) of Cambridge University

Abdal Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter, born 1960) is a notable British scholar of Islam at Cambridge University.

On the difference between Sunni and Shia:

Understanding Islam: a series of eight lectures

1. The Five Pillars of Islam

2. Sunnah, Shari'ah, Sectarianism & Ijtihad

3. Scriptural Links: Judaism, Christianity and Islam

4. Muslim-Christian Views of One Another

5a. Muslim Theology and Islamic Mysticism - Part 1 of 2

5b. Muslim Theology and Islamic Mysticism - Part 2 of 2

6a. The Muslim Influence on Europe and the West - Part 1 of 2

6b, The Muslim Influence on Europe and the West  - Part 2 of 2

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Parallel histories of the Fatimids and the Abbasids

I recently learned about the striking parallel between the Fatimid Caliphate and the Abbasid Caliphate from an essay entitled "An Interpretation of Fatimid History" by Bernard Lewis, collected in his book, "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East".  The essay is also online here.

Quoting from the essay, the following is fascinating:

With the coming of the Fatimids in 358/969, the role of Egypt in the Islamic world was vastly increased and totally transformed. The new masters of Egypt were moved by more than personal or dynastic ambition. They were the heads of a great religious movement, which aimed at nothing less than the transformation and renewal of all Islam. As Isma'ili Shi'ites, they refused to offer even token submission to the Abbasid Caliphs, whom they denounced as wrongdoers and usurpers; they and they alone were the true Imams, by descent and by God's choice the sole rightful heads of the whole Islamic community. The Caliphate was therefore theirs by right, and they would take it from the Abbasids as the Abbasids had taken it from the Umayyad.
In preparing the accomplishment of this plan, the Fatimids followed very closely on the pattern set by the Abbasids. Like the Abbasids in their early days, they appealed to all those who felt that the community of Islam had taken a wrong path, and they argued that only an Imam of the house of the Prophet could restore it to the true one. Like the Abbasids again, they created a secret mission, to preach their cause and to organize those who adhered to it. The Abbasids had begun by establishing themselves in the remote province of Khurasan, on the eastern borders of the Empire; the Fatimids, using the same tactics, concentrated their missionary and political effort first in the Yemen, and then in North Africa. The Abbasids had harnessed the warlike Khurasanis to their purposes; the Fatimids mobilized the Berbers. The Abbasids, sweeping westwards from Khurasan, chose a new central province, Iraq, and built themselves a new capital in Baghdad. The Fatimids, advancing eastwards from Tunisia, moved the center to Egypt, and, near the camps and cantonments of Fustat and al-Qata'i', founded a great new imperial metropolis, the city of Cairo. The poet Ibn Hani', in celebrating the victories of al-Mu'izz in Egypt, looks forward in poetic vision to the next and final stages-the invasion of Iraq, the capture of Baghdad, the advance on the ancient highway to the East.

   At this point, however, the resemblance ceases, for the vision was not fulfilled. The Abbasid triumph was complete, that of the Fatimids only partial. Except for the distant and isolated province of Spain, all Islam submitted to the 'Abbasids, and even in Spain the Umayyad survivors did not seriously challenge their Caliphate. The Fatimids won great victories, and at the time it must have seemed that they were about to engulf the whole world of Islam. But they did not. The Abbasids, defeated and weakened, themselves under the domination of a Shi'ite though not Ismaili dynasty of mayors of the palace, nevertheless managed to hold on in their old capital, and served as a rallying point for all forces of Sunni Islam. In the following century, those forces were immensely strengthened by the advent of the Seljuk Turks and the creation of a new and powerful military empire in the East, the great Sultanate. The reinforcement was religious as well as political. The Seljuk Sultans were devout Sunnis. True, they dominated the Caliphate, but unlike the Sh'ite Buyids whom they replaced, they treated the Caliphs with honor and respect as the supreme religious authority in Sunni Islam, and their advent greatly increased the prestige and influence of the Abbasid house. The containment of the Fatimid danger was not achieved by military and political means alone, though these were essential and in large measure successful. In the madrasa, Sunni Islam created a new and crucial weapon in the struggle for religious unity. In these great colleges, spreading all over the East, the scholars and theologians of the Sunna devised and taught the orthodox answer to the Isma'ili intellectual challenge.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The moronic brownnose of Singapore: Cheo Ming Shen

Cheo Ming Shen, the moronic brownnose of Singapore

Quoting The Online Citizen (source):

In the Sunday Times’ article (‘Young S’poreans keen to hear MM Lee’s views’; Jan 16), it was reported that 27 year-old young entrepreneur, Cheo Ming Shen (above), paid $10,000 for MM Lee’s book, ‘Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going’ during a pre-launch on 14 Jan.
He was quoted as saying that the Minister Mentor was “the equivalent of Nelson Mandela in Singapore.”
Within a day after the report was out, it was revealed by netizens that Cheo was in fact the YPAP Chairman of Toa Payoh East, and serves under MP Josephine Teo.
The equivalent of Nelson Mandela in Singapore? Chia Thye Poh perhaps.

To say that Chia's jailer is the equivalent of Nelson Mandela in Singapore is idiotic, and an insult to Nelson Mandela.

What a moronic brownnose.

Read more, especially the readers' responses,  from The Temasek Review.

ps. Cheo Ming Shen, the moronic brownnose of Singapore and YPAP Chairman of Toa Payoh East, swears in Hokkien and English, and threatens like a street thug: see this.

pps. "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." (source uncertain, popularly attributed to Abraham Lincoln: see this and this)

                    The moronic brownnose of Singapore: Cheo Ming Shen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The other 李登辉 (Li Denghui), Singapore-educated founding President of Fudan University (复旦大学)

In August of 1976 in Oxford, I bought a secondhand book entitled "Vital Factors in China's Problems" (1971 reprint, first edition was Shanghai,1927), edited by Lee Teng-Hwee, Litt.D. This was eleven years before Lee Teng-hui (李登輝, born Jan 15, 1923; PhD in Agricultural Economics, Cornell 1968) became the President of Taiwan in January 1988.

Only in the new millennium did I notice the similarity of the names, Lee Teng-Hwee and Lee Teng-hui. Clearly, from chronology, they are different people. But who is Lee Teng-Hwee?

Google, Wikipedia and WWW have answered my question two years ago. Lee Teng-Hwee and Lee Teng-hui share the identical Chinese name, 李登輝. They are both remarkable figures.

Lee Teng-Hwee (Li Denghui, 1873-1947) (English Wikipedia article, Chinese Wikipedia article) was born in West Java, educated at the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore in 1888-1891, and graduated with BA from Yale University in 1899. He was the founding President (1917-1937) of the prominent Fudan University (复旦大学)  in Shanghai.

For more details, see this article on Li Denghui, by Earnest Lau, the archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore (and this similar article).

For greater depth, read (in Chinese) "过去的大学" (武汉长江文艺出版社,2005年12月), 钟叔河,朱纯编, p247-260.  (ISBN 7-5354-3142-9)

ps. Another prominent scholar (in sociology and history) and educator in China with a Singapore background is Chen Xujing (陈序经,1903–1967). (English Wikipedia, Chinese Wikipedia, Chinese Baidu). He was a student at the Primary Section (育英小学), Yock Eng High School (now Yuying Secondary School) (1913?-1918?) and, for only days, The Chinese High School (华侨中学) in Singapore, and earned a PhD in Political Science, with a dissertation on sovereignty, at the University of Illinois in 1928. He was the president or vice president at several universities in China.

A brief biography in Chinese:

陈序经(1903-1967),广东(今海南)文昌县人,现代著名的社会文化学大师,社会历史学家、教育家。他出生于华侨商人家庭,早年先后就学于海南文昌致远小学、新加坡育英小学、广东岭南中学、上海沪江大学生物系和复旦大学社会学系。1925年发表《读志随笔》,同年赴美国伊利诺大学攻读政治学和社会学,1926年获硕士学位,1927年获博士学位,博士论文是:“Recent Theories of Sovereignty”(《现代主权论》)。1928年学成回国任教于广州岭南大学社会学系。1929年与岭南大学教育学系毕业班学生黄素芬女士在新加坡结婚,后同赴德国继续深造,先在柏林大学研究政治学、主权论及社会学,后转到基尔大学世界经济研究院研究国际公法。为了便于广泛的搜集资料,深入开展研究工作,除已精通的英文外,这期间又学习掌握了德文、法文和拉丁文。原计划在德国的研究工作告一段落以后,继续到英国、法国及其他欧洲国家学习考察,因1913年父亲病重,放弃在欧洲的研究考察工作,回国继续任教于岭南大学,兼领中山大学的教席。 陈序经1934年接受南开大学经济研究所的聘请,任研究教授主持该所研究部工作。抗日战争爆发后,先参与筹建北大、清华、南开联合建立的长沙临时大学,不久又随校到昆明任西南联合大学教授兼法商学院院长,同时还兼领已内迁到达重庆北碚的南开经济研究所的研究工作,直到1946年8月联大结束,北大、清华、南开三校复校为止。其间1944年8月到1945年8月应邀赴美讲学一年,前半年到美国各地讲中美关系和国共合作,后半年在耶鲁大学主将主权论。1946年8月,返回天津任南开大学教务长兼经济学院院长及经济研究所研究主任,主持复校后的教学与研究工作。1948年8月出任岭南大学校长。但每年仍回南开从事三四个月的研究工作。 1952年院系调整时,岭南大学与中山大学合并,陈序经任中山大学筹委会主任。1954年任中山大学历史系教授,主持筹建中山大学东南亚研究室,1956年被任命为中山大学副校长,1962年暨南大学在广州复校后兼任该校校长。1964年8月调任南开大学副校长。1967年2月19日因心脏病突发在南开大学逝世,享年64岁。

pps. Gu Hongming (辜鴻銘, July 18, 1857 - April 30, 1928) is also noteworthy.