Books to Read - My 2022 Reading List

 It is the new year and Covid has definitely given us lots of opportunities to stay home and indulge ourselves in hobbies such as reading.

Here is my list of books that I intend to read in 2022.

1. Atomic Habits 

This is a New York Times #1 Bestseller by James Clear.  Packed with different self-improvement strategies, the book is meant to bring about changes in your life through tiny changes that you can make.  

Amazon is having an offer right now and you can get the book through this link: Atomic Habits: The life-changing million copy bestseller

2. Genghis Khan: And the Making of the Modern World

Highly recommended by various people, this book is an epic tale of how Genghis Khan rises from a small tribe to become ruler of a vast empire, conquering more lands than the Romans did in a much shorter time.  This revisionist history depicts Genghis Khan as a progressive, tolerant leader who abolished torture, and provided almost universal religious freedom.  In fact, many of the Mongols were either Christian, Muslims or Buddhists.

Get your copy from Amazon here:
Genghis Khan: And the Making of the Modern World 

3.  Klara and the Sun

Kazuo Ishiguro is probably one of my favorite authors and have read almost every single book of his.  Unfortunately, have yet to read this book of his.

4. Has China Won?

The title of this book is intriguing enough.  And it is written by Kishore Mahbubani who wrote Can Asians Think?  Having read his earlier books, I think this will make for an interesting read given his previous experience in Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He actually rose to the rank of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is actually the highest ranking civil servant just below the minister.  So his knowledge of the issues at hand are definitely worth a read.

Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy

5.  The Audacity of Hope

Well, it has been quite a few years since Barack Obama has stepped down as President of the United States of America.  And this book which became the best seller in 2006 has been on my reading list.  But this year, I intend to complete it. I am currently at Chapter 2 of the book.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

[This post to be continued...]

Starting Pay in Civil Service and Yearly Bonuses

Many young graduates who are seriously considering joining the civil service are likely curious to find out what is the starting pay or salary in one of the Ministries.

Reading in some forums, there are anonymous people who claim that they are receiving $4k starting salary.  In one of the forums, a female with first class honours claims that her starting pay when she joined was around $3400.

Just for a more accurate picture, im a female, almost 2 years in CS, NTU FCH, in a ministry not listed above.
2015 Sep - MX13 $34XX
2016 Sep - MX13 $36XX
2017 Apr - MX13 $37XX (after Apr increment), will likely be promoted to MX12 after i hit my 2 year mark.

The civil service has a salary range for the various grades.  A fresh graduate will enter at the grade known as MX13.  The common standard is for them to stay at this grade for 1-2 years before they are promoted to MX12.  To take care of merit increment for these people who have been in the job grade for a few years, the salary range of MX13 thus varies.  

Depending on whether one has completed NS obligations or not (Singapore males), the starting pay will then be adjusted accordingly.

Few years back, I posted on the starting pay for a fresh graduate.  The median salary was around $3400 for a fresh university graduate in Singapore.  The civil service often tries to pay a competitive salary so it will not be an anomaly for a fresh graduate to earn a starting pay around that region.

Back in 2011, I also published what was salary range for civil servants.  The starting salary range was $2800 for MX13 and that was 10 years back.  Right now, one can expect the starting salary to be much higher. So the starting salary for a fresh graduate will be minimally $3000 based on current estimates.

And how much bonuses does a civil servant get? Well, the pay structure is quite complicated.  But based on open source information, there are the following bonuses paid out:

  1.   Mid-year bonus (Annual Variable Component) = Usually 0.5 month bonus
  2.   Year-end bonus (Annual Variable Component) = A range from 0.25 to 0.75 months
  3.   Year-end 13th month bonus (Non Pensionable Annual Allowance) = Standard of 1 month bonus
  4.   Once off bonuses = Varies
  5.  Performance bonus = ranges from 2-3 months depending on performance grade and job grade 

13th month bonus is guaranteed.  So everyone will definitely get 1 month bonus.  

Mid-year bonus and year-end bonus can vary quite a bit.  Have compiled the bonuses that was paid out by the civil service for the past few years.  Do note that the bonuses paid out at year end includes at least the 13th month bonus (standard minimum of 1 month of salary) and a AVC bonus that varies.  The AVC bonus is paid out in July (what is commonly called the mid-year bonus) and in December (together with the 13th month bonus, what is commonly called the year-end bonus).

At times there are minimum caps to the AVC bonus so that a minimum quantum is paid out for lower wage civil servants.  For fresh graduates, this is probably not relevant since their AVC bonus will usually be higher than the minimum quantum set.


Mid-year bonus = 0.5 months + $250 cash quantum
Year-end bonus+ 13 month = 1.75

Total for 2011 = 2.25 months + $250 cash quantum


Mid-year bonus = 0.3 months
Year-end bonus + 13 month = 1.7

Total for 2012 = 2 months bonus


Mid-year bonus = 0.4 months
Year-end bonus + 13 month = 2.1 months

Total for 2013 = 2.5 months


Mid-year bonus - 0.5 months
Year-end bonus + 13 month = 1.8 months

Total for 2014 = 2.3 months


Mid-year bonus = 0.5 months
Year end bonus + 13 month = 1.65 months

Total for 2015 = 2.15 months


Mid-year bonus = 0.45 months
Year end bonus + 13 month = 1.5 months

Total for 2016 = 1.95 months


Mid-year bonus = 0.5 months
Year end bonus + 13 month = 2 months

Total for 2017 = 2.5 months


Mid-year bonus = 0.5 months + $300 ($500 for lower wage)
Year end bonus + 13 month = 2 months

Total for 2018 = 2.5 months + $300

2019 (Bad year due to economic downturn)

Mid-year bonus = 0.45 months
Year end bonus + 13 month = 1.1 months + once-off payment of $250 to $1,500
Total for 2019 = 1.55 months + once-off payment of $250 to $1,500

2020 (Worst year ever due to Covid 19)

Mid-year bonus = None paid out
Year end bonus + 13 month = 1 month + once-off payment of $1,200 (lump sum only for low wage civil servants)

Total for 2020 = 1 month 

Well, not to fret for fresh graduates.  There is still a performance bonus that is paid out every year too.  This usually ranges and an average performer at MX13 can expect around 2 months bonus.   Note that there are civil servants (high potential or scholars) that do get additional bonuses too.  Fresh graduates probably don't qualify for these.

Natural Language Processing Using Python - Trump Speeches

Again, just having fun on the very first day of 2021.  Passing Trump's speeches into a markov algorithm to churn out random sentences.

Note that Trump of course did not say these sentences.  It is just generated by a computer algo.

Sentences I like are in underlined bold.  It is almost good to pass off as one of Trump's own sayings.

  1. We’ve been thinking about that now for a little while but I want 10%, 15%. Because the truth is that the establishment can’t believe it because it’s so bucolic, so beautiful.
  2. But that’s the statement of an inexperienced man…About we have to be able to get along with everybody.
  3. We have to be smart enough to stop it, folks.
  4. Of course if you listen to the pundits, we weren’t expected to win it; Jeb was expected to come in legally.
  5. But the whole point is that it brings us all together.
  6. One of the best-selling, all-time, and I mean this so, so strongly – the veterans hospitals – obviously they have problems.
  7. You can be tough, you’ve got to lead these men.
  8. I’m a little bit foolish.
  9. And I’m not knocking it.
  11. But you know, you look at our roadways where they're crumbling.
  12. We have people – bureaucrats in Washington telling them how to educate their kids.
  13. I’m not watching any of them in the next week.
  14. Did you ever see what they do is they convince people like me not to do it right from here and from here.
  15. But it’s still the New York Times is a big problem, Russia’s a problem, China’s a problem.
  16. We want trade deals that Bernie was so vehemently against and he’s right on that – it’s such misrepresentation.
  17. I have many of these people that are morally corrupt.
  18. But if I’m forced to fight for the Second Amendment.
  19. They pay them hundreds of thousands of people and move to another location.
  20. But we are going to make our own products.
  21. And this is not a good sign.
  22. When I have somebody that’s going to be our president.
  23. Actually though what I got was worse than credit because they were the first victory I had.
  24. I mean, you look at Atlantic City.
  25. Look, Club for Growth – you ever watch the McLaughlin Report?
  26. Just take a look at your security, take a look at what's happening with the devaluations of so many countries.
  27. ...A poll came out and some of the Super PACs have total control over the people running for office.
  28. This is a wall too.

Natural Language Processing Using Python - Trump speeches

Got a Python code from Github that uses Markov algo to churn out random sentences using Trump's speeches as a database.

Check out some of the random sentences I got below:

Immigration is a privilege, and we should have kept 20,00 troops or something, we give Iraq.


We have 93 million people that are incompetent.

When Ford moves to Mexico, I’m going to stop drugs from coming into New Hampshire.

When Carrier Air Conditioners, as you know, Afghanistan for $43 million – can you imagine we are ranked number 28 which is way down at the negotiating table without pre-conditions for years.

In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.

He mentions it but I want them to invest in our country.

Why do they have to do that, you know, I said bomb the oil, right?

And again, we have a situation in Afghanistan; we're spending tremendous amounts of money were spent – millions and millions of votes more.

So I told these political pros, you know, I hate to say 40 but I won’t even say.

We will someday in the not too distant future.

Again, many Americans must wonder why we get the crowds, you wonder why you get yourself in trouble.

Don’t forget, I didn’t want the credit for that.

I mean, they have no documentation and we don’t win very much.

I’d get along with him.

And I believe we’re going to be incredible.

Rwanda - Becoming Africa's Singapore

Whenever anyone hears about Rwanda, images and thoughts of the horrible 1994 genocide surfaces to the mind.  Back in 1994, the majority Hutu massacred an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi.  More than 2 million people fled the country into neighboring countries until order was restored.

It is therefore hard for anyone to imagine that economic transformation is under way after more than 25 years since the horrible incident.  But Rwanda has taken long strides since then. Under the leadership of ex-military strongman, Paul Kagame, the country seems to have picked itself up since 2000 is making steady progress towards becoming Africa's Singapore.

Under Paul Kagame, a Vision 2020 was set to develop Rwanda into a knowledge-based middle class country by 2020.  Kagame sought extensive advice from various experts outside of his country.  And it seems like good progress is being made.

Amongst the reforms that have been brought about, one of them includes keeping Rwanda clean.  It is illegal to use plastic bags in Rwanda and bringing in plastic bags is an offence.  Talk about dedication to sustainability efforts!  Rwanda

Here is a good informative video on Rwanda.  The Singapore of Africa perhaps?

Any Rwandans reading this post?  Please leave a comment below.  Will definitely want to hear more.

Read More Links Don't Work After Migrating to New Template

 This blog post is a test.  

After migrating to a new template,  most of the links in both featured post and blog post do not work. 

Testing to see if the same issue occurs for a brand new post under the new template. 

Hopefully,  this works. 

Car Ownership Cost in Singapore - Parking

Of the many car ownership costs in Singapore, the cost of parking probably varies the most.

How much does parking cost in Singapore? Well it really depends. 

Firstly, it depends on where you are staying. If you are staying in  landed property, there is zero parking costs involved. If you are stay in a condo/private apartment, probably no parking costs incurred too (if you keep within the limits of the number of cars).  

Featured Post

Books to Read - My 2022 Reading List

 It is the new year and Covid has definitely given us lots of opportunities to stay home and indulge ourselves in hobbies such as reading. H...