Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The art of the subtle insult

This is a follow-on from a previous rant post. You can go back and read it to add color to this post, but I wouldn't recommend it. I re-read what I wrote and even I found it too rambling. But I digress.

Anyways, the abbreviated background to this post is that I was, and still am, quite miffed at someone I had to deal with in the course of work. Not a co-worker btw. Unfortunately for me, I still have to continue interacting with this odiousoid on a continuing basis.

Which brings us to today's post. How do you react when you get an email containing an important attachment which had to be forwarded to you by your boss because the sender, this irritant, "forgot" your name despite just having the corresponding discussion the previous afternoon? And it says so right there in the email, this questionable claim of "not [being] sure of his [my] full name" and asking my boss to resend the mail.

Did I mention that this is the third meeting between us? Or that there have been countless emails between our two offices prior to this meeting? You know, the kind with thousands of names on the CC list (including mine) and it being a simple matter of plucking the relevant email address from the CC field. 

Oh, and there was one person (my co-worker) who was there meeting the email sender for the very first time too. Said sender may have had Sudden Onset Alzheimer's when recalling my name, but had no problems remembering my co-worker's name though.


I sooo need to master the art of the subtle insult asap. Something obvious enough to grate, but subtle enough not to be called on it. If nothing else, I'll get some moral satisfaction out of it. Perhaps this is a heaven-sent opportunity for me to hone those valuable office skills that all those fluffy soft skill courses always neglect to teach. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

So THAT"S why it's 12%!

OK, despite being a little too fond of thinking of myself as being more astute than the average person, I have to admit that it didn't occur to me initially why the Jobs Credit Scheme was set at 12%. I wondered why that particular number was picked, thinking it seemed arbitrary, but now I know why.

There was a local news report on "phantom workers" a few days ago. The transcript is available here.

Since the CPF employer contribution rate is set at 13% of an employee's salary, it's immediately obvious why the Jobs Credit Scheme cannot credit more than 13%. Otherwise, companies could use phantom workers to make money off the spread between the CPF employer contribution rate and the Jobs Credit rate. Ergo, the Jobs Credit rate is set just shy of 13%, i.e. 12%.

It just goes to show that the average coffeeshop owner has more business acumen in gaming the system than me, the postgraduate trained engineer. Sighz.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Urban Composting: A New Can of Worms"

From The New York Times
Published: February 18, 2009

ON a recent Saturday afternoon, Stephanie Stern and her husband poured 1,000 wriggling red worms from a brown bag into a plastic bin outside their bathroom, looked down and hoped for the best. 

If things went well, the worms, already burrowing into their bed of shredded newspapers, would soon be eating three pounds of food scraps a week, reducing the couple’s trash and producing fertilizer for their plants.

If not, the bin would stink up their one-bedroom apartment in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and attract clouds of fruit flies.

“I’m a little nervous because I’ve heard the stories,” said Ms. Stern, 32, a museum educator. 

Composting in New York City is not for the faint of heart. It requires commitment, space and sharing tight quarters with rotting matter and two-inch-long wiggler worms that look like pulsing vermicelli.

But an increasing number of New Yorkers have been taking up the challenge, turning their fruit skins and eggshells into nutritious crumbly soil in an effort they regard as the natural next step to recycling paper, bottles and cans. Food accounts for about 13 percent of the nation’s trash — it is the third largest component after paper and yard trimmings — and about 16 percent of New York’s. 

“There’s a growing awareness of its value,” said Elizabeth Royte, the author of “Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash.” “We had a recycling revolution, now we need a composting revolution.”

Nationwide surveys by BioCycle, a monthly magazine that advocates the recycling of organic waste, have found that large-scale food composting projects among municipalities, colleges and farms nearly doubled between 2000 and 2007, to 267 from 138. Individual efforts are harder to measure, but appear to be on the rise, particularly in areas like New York City, where municipal programs are rare or nonexistent. Although some cities, like San Francisco and Seattle, offer residents regular curbside collection of food waste, large-scale composting presents challenges that may make it hard to catch on, waste-management experts say. The City of New York, which runs two compost facilities for backyard waste, has no similar program for food. 

That leaves food-waste composting up to community programs and gardens that accept donations of food scraps, and to people like Ms. Stern and her husband, Chris De Pasquale, 34. 

Ms. Stern had plenty of company, a few hours before the couple welcomed their 1,000 new roommates, at a workshop run by the Lower East Side Ecology Center at a library in the West Village, where a capacity crowd of about 70 people listened raptly to descriptions of how to set up and feed a “worm condo.” 

The workshop covered the indoor composting method known as vermicomposting, in which worms are enlisted to speed up the decomposition of organic material, eating through scraps of it and excreting the “castings” that make up compost. (There are also commercial composters like the NatureMill, shown in the article below.) The “condo” where this should take place is a 16 1/2-inch-wide, one-foot-tall bin with air holes in which shredded newspaper sits atop green trash like the ends of carrots. Despite the enthusiasm of the audience, particularly the children, as containers of compost and worms were passed around, some of its members seemed to have misgivings. “Will the compost bin attract roaches?” one asked. (Not if you don’t let the covered bin get smelly, he was told.) “What happens when you go on vacation?” (The bin can stay unattended for up to three weeks.)

A few were trying again after unhappy first experiences.

“Everything got disgusting in there,” said Rachel Franz, 25, who tried composting in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2006, following instructions from friends. “The worms started dying, and it got really moldy,” she said. “When I opened it, the worms were trying to escape.”

If the worms want out, said Carey Pulverman, the workshop’s instructor and the project manager at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, “something is wrong.”

Happy worms eat about half their body weight in a day, and the compost is ready for harvesting in about four and half months, Ms. Pulverman said.

But if the paper is too wet, she continued, seepage or smell ensues. Certain food and organic matter is bad for indoor bins because it smells while decomposing (meat and dairy), attracts mold (bread) or may introduce insects to the bin (dry leaves).

None of this deterred Ms. Franz, the failed composter, who this time around planned to set up her bin under the kitchen sink of her father’s three-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, where she lives part of the time. Her father, she said, was resisting.

“He thinks it’s going to be a lot of work for him,” said Ms. Franz, who studied environmental science and is currently looking for work.

Experienced composters said that saving food scraps soon becomes part of a daily routine, and that the payoff is worth the extra work. 

“To be actually able to reuse your food is amazing,” said Ben Stein, 30, a computer programmer who, along with his wife, Arin Kramer, 29, a nurse practitioner, composted for six years in their apartment on the Lower East Side before they moved to a brownstone in Brooklyn last year.

In Manhattan, they kept the bin under the bed, which Mr. Stein said led friends to think, “it’s disgusting, and you’re absolutely crazy.” In Boerum Hill, they can compost in their backyard (where microbial activity and decomposition slow down or stop in the winter, but pick up in the spring). 

One friend recently surprised the couple by taking them up on their offer to compost his “veggie waste” for him.

“He delivered a bag of cuttings and scraps that took up half his freezer,” Mr. Stein said.

Is all this effort doing the planet good?

Composting does not have as big an environmental effect as recycling, Environmental Protection Agency figures show: recycling one ton of mixed paper is four times as effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as producing the same amount of compost. 

But keeping food discards out of landfills does more than twice the good of keeping mixed paper out, E.P.A. officials said, because decomposing food that is buried and cut off from air releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, at higher rates than paper. (The ventilation in composting prevents methane creation.) 

The real environmental benefits, of course, come when composting is done on a large scale. Robert Lange, the recycling director at New York’s Department of Sanitation, said the city investigated this route a few years ago, testing food scrap collection in some neighborhoods but finding it a tougher sell than recycling.

“Most people will not store food waste in their apartment,” Mr. Lange said, adding that many worried about odors and vermin.

Still, groups that operate food scrap collection services say they have seen a marked jump in participation over the last year. The Lower East Side Ecology Center, which collects scraps at two Manhattan locations and runs its own food composting facility at East River Park, said that Saturday drop-offs to its Union Square Greenmarket location have nearly doubled, to almost 500 gallons.

But reducing the amount of trash produced in the first place should be the highest priority, experts say. And some note people would also do better to consider what they eat and to switch away from foods like beef, the production of which is associated with high emissions of carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas. 

Still, Mr. De Pasquale and Ms. Stern — who also get renewable power from ConEdison Solutions, a subsidiary of Con Edison that provides wind energy — are convinced they are making a difference with their at-home composting.

And after more than three weeks, the couple’s worms seemed to be doing well in their dark corner near the bathroom. So far there have been no escapes and only a slight smell that Ms. Stern said she fixed with some dry newspaper. 

They plan to use the compost for their house plants and share any leftovers.

“I think it’d be a great holiday gift,” Ms. Stern said. 

Her husband agreed. “We can send it out to my parents in California.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

The right to vote redux

It’s actually quite a pleasure reading what the Law Minister speaks or writes about. Few of our ministers are as erudite or eloquent, but I suppose that comes with the territory of being a lawyer by training. 

Just this past Friday, the Law Minister answered Thio Li Ann’s question on whether voting in Singapore was a constitutional or statutory right.

The answer was that voting is indeed a constitutional right and it enjoys the highest possible legal protection, and this was also affirmed by the Attorney-General.

He also made the excellent point that guaranteeing the right to vote in a constitution, as North Korea and Myanmar do, may nonetheless have no meaning as seen in the practical realities of those two pariah states today. The Law Minister continued by stating that on voting, what was important was that the government was committed to the rule of law, an educated populace was aware of its rights and responsibilities, and that stable institutions exist that provide for a democratic polity. 

All very true, and I agree completely.

On hindsight, while the question on whether voting was a right protected by the highest law of the land still had to be asked (at least at some point), worrying about whether voting is a right that can ever be taken away from Singaporeans is probably unnecessary.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that no government in the world will overtly take away a pre-existing right to vote when the costs for doing so are extremely high (social unrest, international condemnation, trade sanctions etc.).

The second reason is a far more cynical one, and, a little disclaimer here, I’m not saying that this is a reason why we need never fear that the right to vote will be taken away from Singaporeans. Consider this a reason that applies to other countries and historical contexts.

As nations throughout history from South Africa to Zimbabwe to North Korea to Myanmar have shown, instead of taking away the right to vote and abrogating the democratic process entirely, it is far easier to rig an election or at least to unfairly influence its process, for instance, through gerrymandering or vote-buying.

Friday, February 13, 2009

"Tracking the Flight of Birds, With Tiny Backpacks"

From The New York Times
Published: February 12, 2009 

Birds are famous for airborne speed and endurance. Some have been clocked flying 60 miles per hour or more. Others make annual migrations from Alaska to New Zealand, nonstop. 

But for scientists, tracking birds as they perform those feats has been an intractable problem. Now researchers think they have cracked it with a novel device — a tiny bird backpack that contains sophisticated sensors and weighs less than a dime.

The new technology has opened up vast new possibilities for bird researchers. Already, it is yielding surprising findings — for example, that some birds fly even faster than previously thought. But its real importance, biologists say, is the opportunity to unlock mysteries of bird migration that could help preserve species threatened by habitat loss and climate change.

“We knew that purple martins went to Brazil and wood thrush went to Central America,” said Bridget J. M. Stutchbury, a biologist at York University in Toronto, who with colleagues fitted birds from the species with the sensors and mapped their migrations last year. “But the details of how an individual gets there, what routes they take, how fast they fly, how often they stop to rest — these are the kinds of details we have never been able to have.”

The research, reported Friday in the journal Science, involved 34 birds, but only 7 were recovered with their sensors. Still, the work “is an important step,” said David W. Winkler, an ornithologist at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, where he said researchers were developing similar techniques. “This represents a whole new level of accuracy,” Dr. Winkler said. 

The tracking system relies on instruments called solar geolocators that collect and store data on where the birds are in relation to the sun. Researchers remove the sensors, download the information and calculate where the birds were, and when they were there.

“If the bird were on a hillside you’d get a slightly wrong time,” Dr. Stutchbury said. “If it were a cloudy day you would get a slightly wrong time. But these devices are accurate enough, within 5 or 10 kilometers,” about 3 to 6 miles.

Bird migration is a subject of fascination for scientists and the public alike. Jacques Perrin’s 2003 film, “Winged Migration,” which used remote control gliders and ultralight aircraft to follow birds as they traveled the globe, attracted a large cult following. But while much is known about where birds nest and where they spend the winter, figuring out how they get from point A to point B has been a challenge that, over all, researchers have been unable to meet, especially for small species like songbirds.

Researchers have tried banding birds’ legs, tracking flocks with radar and even using satellites, all to little avail. The new system was developed by engineers at the British Antarctic Survey for use tracking wandering albatrosses, birds that inhabit the waters around Antarctica. 

But the wandering albatross is about the size of a large dog, Dr. Stutchbury said. For her research, she needed instruments small enough and light enough for a tiny songbird. Then, at a 2006 conference, the British researchers said they had miniaturized their sensors to 1.5 grams. “That for me was a magic number,” she said. “I could put it on a large songbird.” 

The instruments Dr. Stutchbury uses actually weigh even less and sit on a bird’s back, just where the hips are. Each sensor is about the size of the nail on a person’s pinkie. “There’s a little loop that goes around each leg,” she said. “It would be like you wearing a backpack.”

In the summer of 2007, the researchers used nets to trap birds in Pennsylvania and apply the sensors. They made sure the birds were flying, eating, caring for young and otherwise acting normally. Then they sat back and waited for the birds to head south — and then return. On April 25 last year, the first bird with a geolocator returned to Pennsylvania. “It seemed almost a miracle,” Dr. Stutchbury said.

Analyzing the sensor data, the researchers found that their birds flew two to six times faster going north than south — up to about 370 miles in a day, which she said was much faster than had been thought. A female martin flew almost 5,000 miles in 13 days, including 4 stopover days.

For these birds, the Yucatan Peninsula was an important stopover point, Dr. Stutchbury said. Identifying important migratory stopovers will be an important benefit of the technology, she and other experts said. 

She said she and her colleagues had tried not to draw too many conclusions because they had data from only seven birds. Still, she said, “that’s seven more than anybody else.” 

Last summer, she and her colleagues applied sensors to dozens of more birds. The work is important, she said, because songbird species are already in steep decline and climate change may threaten crucial habitat.

The right to vote

This is going to come as a real shocker to my non-Singaporean friends who read this blog.

In Singapore, voting is not a right guaranteed under the Singapore Constitution.

You can say what you want about Thio Li Ann (controversial is putting it lightly), but this question has long been in the asking. As a constitutional law "expert", it's only natural to expect her to ask this question at some point.

Based on our Constitution, the PAP's 82 out of 84 seat majority, and the solidarity of the PAP (which has an effective whip), it's not really an exaggeration to say that our current government can essentially alter the highest law of the land at will.

Yet it remains a curious anachronism that despite the years since independence and the supermajorities that the current ruling party has held in the intervening time, our government has not seen the need, nay, the moral imperative (seeing as how we are a democracy), to enshrine the right to vote in the Constitution, as opposed to leaving the right to vote in its rather ambiguous position today.

But then again, why bother? After all, the current party's supermajority, and by extension, ability to alter the Constitution, will persist for the foreseeable future almost indefinitely. Easy come, easy go...

"Shortage of Critical Commodities Seen Already"

I almost never reproduce investment or economic commentary even though I consume a lot of it in my own reading. This is mainly because I do not want anything on this blog to be misconstrued as investment advice. But this story is interesting and is far easier to relate to than the typical wonkish economics or finance story. But as I've said, I will not offer any advice or commentary of my own. Read into this story what you will.

The links to Wikipedia are a convenience I provide to readers. Enjoy.

From www.safehaven.com
Published: February 11, 2009
by Marygwen Dungan

Maybe you thought that less trade with China would mean fewer choices of lawn gnomes at Walmart this summer. And since you've recently sworn off, who cares anyway. Turns out China is also a leading provider of the raw materials used to make critical pharmaceutical drugs. We'll have fewer of those too and, in some cases, none at all.

What inspired me to write about this subject was the predicament of a friend in pain management. Last week a Wegmans pharmacy ran out of OxyContin® and several other prescription medicines. Customers were told that Wegmans' supplier did not have the ingredients to make several medicines and did not know when they would have them. Wegmans isn't a mom-and-pop corner store with no buying power. It's a 71-store chain on the east coast, is one of the largest private companies in the US and had sales of $4.8 billion in 2008. The active ingredient of OxyContin® is thebaine, an alkaloid compound distilled from opium. By law, it cannot be stored so each year's crop size is determined by expected sales. However, it's only February so the shortage in the US is not due to Asian exporters' supplies having run out.

The shortage of leucovorin, a generic used in the treatment of colon cancer, is so acute that many cancer patients are receiving lower-than-prescribed dosages or none at all. According to suppliers, the shortage is due to "manufacturing" delays. In an interview with Forbes, Michael Katz, chair of a committee of patients that advises the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), said, "I've never heard of anything like it," nor had any of the doctors in the group. There is a fear that shortages will occur more frequently with generic drugs because the margins are so thin. Leucovorin is also called folinic acid, which is derived from vitamin B and, like most vitamins, vitamin B comes from China.

There is also a worldwide shortage of acetonitrile, a critical chemical ingredient used in the purification of pharmaceutical compounds. Acetonitrile is a by-product of the automotive industry and is in short supply due to the worldwide slowdown in that industry, which, in turn, has caused chemical production facilities around the world to close.

Going forward, a number of factors will influence the availability of life-saving medicines and other critical commodities.

Supply disruptions: The majority of growers and producers of the raw materials for drugs are in Asia. You remember the cliff dive of the Baltic Dry Index last year. It was a reflection of severe disruptions in international trade, which, in large part, was caused by the unwillingness of banks to accept letters of credit. This could be the reason for the shortages of opium distillates, vitamins and other raw materials, which are showing up in US pharmacies now.

Profitability and production stoppages: Indian pharmaceutical companies have stopped manufacturing some unprofitable drugs and they threaten to cut back on more. Their profits have been eroded by the fall in value of the rupee, which has raised their procurement costs for both packaging materials and bulk purchases of raw materials from China.

Distribution: Trucking companies across the country are both cutting back on routes and closing due to less business and higher costs. This reached crisis proportions during the gas price spike last spring and summer and is continuing due to reduced demand for hauling. Bankruptcies were up more than 118% by the second half of 2008. In a Reuter's interview, industry consultant Fred Crawford said he expects the acceleration of bankruptcies seen in the second half of 2008 to continue this year.

If demand for medicine decreases in a depression, it's not because people aren't sick. In fact, more people are sick, but they can't afford medical care. If you've come across the crisis-preparedness list of 100 Things that Disappear First, you know that drugs are at the top of the list. Well, we are in a crisis, we are ill-prepared and, sure enough, medicines are disappearing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"IBM to laid-off: Want a job in India?"

From CNN.com

By Karina Frayter, CNN
Last Updated: February 5, 2009

NEW YORK (CNN) -- IBM employees being laid off in North America now have an alternative to joining the growing ranks of the unemployed - work for the company abroad.

Big Blue is offering its outgoing workers in the United States and Canada a chance to take an IBM job in India, Nigeria, Russia or other countries.

Through a program dubbed Project Match, IBM will help interested workers whose jobs are on the chopping block to "identify potential opportunities in growth markets and facilitate consideration by hiring managers in those markets," according to an internal company document obtained by CNN.

The company also will help with moving costs and provide visa assistance, it says.

Other countries with IBM opportunities include Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, according to the document.

Only "satisfactory performers" who are "willing to work on local terms and conditions" should pursue the jobs, the document says. IBM would not immediately confirm if it means that the workers would be paid local wages and would be subject to local labor laws.

A spokesman for Alliance@IBM, a workers' group that is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America but does not have official union status at IBM, slammed the initiative.

"IBM not only is offshoring its work to low-cost countries, now IBM wants employees to offshore themselves," spokesman Lee Conrad told CNN. "At a time of rising unemployment IBM should be looking to keep both the work and the workers in the United States."

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company has confirmed recent layoffs but has not provided any specifics on the number of people affected.

Conrad said IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) has laid off more than 4,000 workers in the United States since the beginning of the year, but called that "a conservative number."

"This is unacceptable to the Alliance and we are pursuing this by asking our members and all IBM employees to contact their political representatives to demand an accounting and transparency in job cuts and offshoring from IBM," Conrad said.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Email at Work

So recently, some issues with email developed at work. No, not technical issues, but interpersonal issues.

Warning: this is a long bitchy post. And a post like this highlights exactly why I do not disclose the URL of my blog to co-workers (except for perhaps 2 people that I inadvertently did so to). I do need my space to rant.

Now at work, after I had invited somebody (henceforth referred to as "X") to a meeting to discuss an item ("the Concept") tabled on the agenda, X proceeded to ask what exactly the Concept was about as apparently it was the first time he had heard of it.

Because the item on the agenda was something still in development and we were currently in the process of elucidating it, none of us attending the meeting really knew what the Concept was about. Indeed, the reason why I had been asked to arrange the meeting was to invite the stakeholders and possible collaborators in for a discussion session. 

So, seeing as how X wanted to know more about the Concept before deciding whether or not to attend the meeting, I wrote a short description of what I thought the Concept was about to give X more than just a snazzy name (don't they all have these high-falutin' fancy names?) to go on.

Whereupon, I got a reply from X prefaced with the dismissive lines "I will not pretend to understand" and "I am not a Concept expert", which made it sound like I was writing in Greek or High Latin and talking down to everyone on the cc list (which of course, included everyone and their great grandmother).

Worse yet, this "I will not pretend to understand and I am not an expert" line, which far from being a modest statement of professing ignorance in Great Matters, was  ironically followed by a brief rant on the problems that X had with the Concept as outlined by me, even though I really only intended to give X a rough sense of what we were supposed to discuss at the meeting itself.

X wrote the problems he had with my outline of the Concept in his email reply and proceeded to cite references in the email, despite him being self-professedly "not an expert". And X asked, rhetorically of course and in about as obnoxious a manner as possible, whether anyone had read another august publication that contradicted these references.

"Not an expert" who happens to be brimming full of criticism.

Passive-aggressive ass.

To top it off, while X indicated that he would attend the meeting, he did not see how he would be able to contribute meaningfully to the discussion at this juncture.

Now naturally, I wasn't going to let that slide. I might be fairly junior in my company, but you don't go disrespectin' me like that and get away with it!

I dashed off a quick reply to X and cc'ed everyone on the list. Very briefly, I stated that I wasn't the originator of the Concept (someone very high up was), and that since he had no previous encounter with the Concept (and he had asked about it), I had thought it helpful to supply him with my perspective on it, purely for his edification. My opinion of the Concept was "certainly not the last word on it", as I eloquently put it. I then proceeded to thank him for his reply and assured him that his presence at our discussion was valued and sought after.

All this in very polite, very formal ... and very frosty tones.

I thought that this would be the end of it, but X came back with a reply shortly after.

No, it wasn't an apology (you wish!). It was more along the lines of: oh dear, here we are getting off the wrong foot, what a misunderstanding this is, and this is the reason why I don't like email and prefer face-to-face communication.

Oh really? Well, I guess that's excusable, seeing as how email has only been around for what, more than a decade, and it's sooo unreasonable to expect that most everyone should know that email is extremely poor at conveying non-verbal cues and as such, a neutral tone should be adopted at all times.

And while you're at it, no need to apologise at all for your email that started the "misunderstanding". And sure, by not apologising, make me look like the touchy, defensive twerp  who can't take a little criticism. CC it to my boss too, will ya?

Like I said, passive-aggressive ass.

PS: He eventually cancelled on us saying he had some other urgent matters to attend to.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Evidence-based Policy Making

While there has been ongoing "debate" in Parliament in Singapore on the Jobs Credit Scheme, I have just a few thoughts.

The local media engine has gone into overdrive in promoting the jobs credit scheme and how it purportedly saves jobs. We all know this from the incessant pages of coverage each and every day in the Straits Times, several spin-doctoring columns by Chua Mui Hoong (which I automatically flip past, since I have a policy against reading crap), and regular chime-ins by the various PAP politicians.

None of us really know how the ongoing economic crisis will continue develop, and whether counter-cyclical measures undertaken so far will "work". While I think we should give some credit (no pun intended) to the Government for being quick and responsive, it's way to early for the government to pat themselves on their collective backs and presume that measures like the Jobs Credit Scheme will be "successful" (I wonder what their KPIs are in this case). 

I believe in an evidence-based approach, acknowledging my bias as a researcher. And it seems that the Jobs Credit Scheme is an original idea, rather than following some other model approach that some other countries have tried. If it is based on the experiences of other countries, then the government should clearly indicate which model they are following.

If I'm charitable, I would say that while it's ok to try something original rather than hew to a previously used formulaic approach, it seems premature to conclude that the Jobs Credit Scheme is superior to other policies and that it is exactly what Singapore needs. How well the policy works will only become evident in the months to years ahead.

If I'm less than charitable and just being my regular hard-nosed self, I'd say that government is being fatuous in praising itself for what it considers to be a job well done, and is just managing sentiment on the ground by putting the best possible spin on its policy work.