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5/31/2009

9 NCMPs up for grabs!

This is the carrot that the govt is waving at the opposition parties. They know that the opposition candidates will not win an election except for Chiam and Low. And Chiam is fading away with age. The opposition may be left with Low alone unless Chiam can find a worthy successor to replace him. So far none in sight. Chaim should consider Sylvia Lim if all else failed. But not all is lost. The opposition can now hope to contest for the 9 NCMP seats available. This is their best bet. Don't forget, we have yet to hear anything about ensuring better quality MPs, indirectly saying that the barrier could be raised. If that be the case, the opposition will have to scratch their heads botak to find better candidates to stand. They can approach Siew Kum Hong as a possible. Not to be distracted, let's return to this happy proposition that opposition parties should be gunning to be NCMPs. The govt can make this more attractive by increasing the allowance for NCMPs. Then perhaps the opposition can serious go for it. And perhaps the opposition can table a counter proposal in Parliament to have 50% of the contested wards be offered NCMP seats. That will ensure a greater presence of opposition MPs in Parliament, a livelier debate and maybe a better govt. And the ruling govt can continue to be the govt forever and ever.

Good MP, Good Govt and Good Debate

This is the heading of an article by Jeremy Au Yong that screamed across the ST yesterday. He was reporting on Swee Say's assessment on the new changes to the electoral system, that it will bring about these results. How many of you agree with this conclusion? We have good govt for many years and people are getting wealthier, buying million dollar homes without battling an eyelid. Singaporeans are very rich and and living very well. Will we be getting better govt with the changes? Will the people be better off than they were now? Some will and some will remain losers all their lives. Making any one sentence or one paragraph conclusion on this will be too simplistic as the answer can only be found across the whole population. Good MPs? According to who and to who standard of assessment? Slipper MPs are bad, that's quite obvious. What else, must be highly qualified, must be successful, must be rich, must have rich parents, must come from top schools, must have straight As? Would these be the criteria to determine good MPs? Or without these, the quality of MPs will be poor, the barrier to entry if too low will be bad? I am still pondering what is a good MP? Good debate? Do we have good debates, great debates? With 15 minutes of coverage on the TV, one can hardly form any conclusion about the quality of debate, if there was a debate at all. Most often it was either govt MPs praising the govt or govt MPs talking down to the 3 opposition MPs. The provision of more NCMPs is just a side show. Nice to have but mostly inconsequential. What the Parliament needs are MPs of the people's choice, elected by the people under a system that is fair and equitable to all parties. Go back to the single ward representation of the past, and lower the financial barriers to entry. Let the potential MPs stand out and present themselves to the people first, convince the people that they are worthy to be an MP and get voted into the Parliament. Only then will we have a real Parliament of the people, by the people and for the people. Only then can we have MPs defending the rights of the people and not defending the interests of their parties. Retain a few 3 member GRCs to ensure minority representation and the rest can go straight to the people and let the people decide what they think is good for them. The electorate is well educated and mature today. On the other hand, let me offer a simplistic view here, good debates do not guarantee good govt. So it is better to have a business like govt and a not so good debate in Parliament. To have good MPs, good debates and good govt, is like having the cake and eats it. Too good to be true.

5/30/2009

MP, NMP and NCMP

The new changes to the electoral system and membership of parliament are going to be met with a dosage of cynicism. What would these terms MP, NMP and NCMP mean now? Members of Parliament, Non Members of Parliament and Not Counted Members of Parliament? In a way they could literally mean these. The Nominated MPs are nominated, not elected and have limited rights. So are the Non Constituency MPs. They are MPs but not MPs. What many have missed is Low Thia Kiang's point that the Parliament is a sitting of elected MPs. The MPs must be elected by the people to represent them. By all these tweakings, would our Parliament become a Parliament dominated by MPs that are not elected by the people? And they can talk until the cows come home, but they are inconsequential when come to voting for bills to be passed by Parliament. So to call the NMPs and NCMPs as Non MPs and Not Counted MPs are not too far off. Just another way of looking at things.

The Straits Times explained

After the censure and comments in Parliament, Han Fook Kwang reluctantly explained the position of the ST's coverage of the Aware saga. He would not want to, for his view is that the ST only reports factually and correctly and the readers are left to their own conclusion. Then why were there accusations that the ST coverage was biased? Why would a non partisan reader like me found the ST coverage more on a single factor, the religious encroachment into a secular organisation and the skimming through of another major issue, the CSE curriculum that Aware was teaching to the children? Sure the ST did reported on this. But Han Fook Kwang also admitted that the coverage could have been better on this. The question is that the ST, the reporters and editors, are all professionals. Didn't they see or know that their coverage was lob sided until the public had to point it out? Lob sided articles are fair game in cyberspace where objectivity and professionalism are not the hallmark of netizens. Netizens mostly do not care a dime about being professional or being objective, being fair. Many do not claim to be. In the case of the professionals, such traits and approach are their bread and butter and cannot be lightly dismissed as another case of irrational exuberance. Did they got carried away by the event? Han Fook Kwang's letter in the ST claimed that 'Our job is to report accurately and fairly what is happening and to make sense of it for our readers so they can draw their own conclusions.' He also said this, 'We have also carried out our own internal review of our coverage and have found that we could have done better in several respects.' And he stands by the professionalism of his reporters. "The Straits Times has no hidden agenda to push this line or that, or to favour one group against another.' This is most assuring.

5/29/2009

Of mollycoddled and mollycoddling

Why are Singaporeans taking issue with Sam Tan about them being mollycoddled by the govt? Singaporeans, especially the losers are quite sick actually. When they face a little difficulty they called for the govt to help, for free handouts. Why don't they stand up for themselves, tighten their belts, work doubly hard and create opportunities for themselves to make more money? There are so many successful people here, many earning millions and have millions in their saving accounts. The losers should learn from these successful people and stop expecting help from the govt. They must help themselves, be self reliant. If I only have a few millions in my savings account, I too will talk like that. And tell the losers off. Unfortunately I can't.

Say a word for the little people

Many Singaporeans are involved in the stock market. Some have fallen victims to the harsh and excessive penalties imposed by the SGX for small mistakes that they made while trading, ie, selling shares that they did not own. To err is human. A slight mistake like this will cause the small investors a $1000 fine! This may be chicken feed to the big boys in SGX who only know money in the millions and millions. So setting a $1000 penalty for a minor mistake may be very kind in their eyes, but it is a big sum of money to many people. The SGX’s justification is to curb short selling that will affect the market, or cause more work to buy in for their staff. What utter rubbish. The 5 lots or 20 lots that a small investor sold by mistake, intentional or otherwise, will have minimal or no impact on the price of the shares. It is the big boys that short sell in hundreds of thousands, or millions, that will distort the market in their favour. They should be the one that needs to be hauled up and punished. The second reason is more unreasonable. Buying in is the job of the SGX. They cannot penalize small investors with a sledgehammer because they did not like to do it, too many buy ins too troublesome. The more freaking thing is that the small investors are the customers of the SGX. And when they make mistakes, instead of helping them, they got slammed with a sledghammer. How's that for taking good care of your customers? What kind of attitude is this? Small investors tremble in fear when they make such a mistake and pay heavily for it. And they are not commiting a crime against anyone. I think in the courts of law, many more serious crimes could be fined for less than a $1000. Here we are talking about a human error. Now, while Parliament is in session, I can only hope that some MPs would raise this issue for the sake of the small investors. The small investors are simply helpless in the face of such unreasonable, disproportionate and costly penalty. Or maybe the sum of $1000 is also too small in the eyes of the MPs and no one thinks that this is an issue.

Opposition MPs deserved to be respected

Was it a coincidence, or Media Corp read what I posted about the lack of coverage on opposition MPs in the Parliament report? Both were unlikely. It was probably their way of scheduling whose turn to appear on TV, and last night I saw Sylvia Lim, Low Thia Kiang and even Chiam See Tong’s face on the news. So strange. For quite a while, opposition MPs were somehow treated in a less friendly way by the media and also in Parliament. They were kind of like the enemies of the people, out to subvert the govt, to do the country in. They were like thugs or gangsters, probably carrying guns and acid into Parliament. In short they were up to no good and should be kept at a dismissive distance. Actually the opposition MPs are also the people’s elected representatives to Parliament. They deserve to be respected and treated with some decency and decorum. Treating them otherwise, humiliating them, spitting at them, mocking at them, etc is as good as showing no respect to the people who elected them and whom the MPs were representing. By adopting such a negative stance, it will only accentuate a deep divide among parliamentarians in the highest house of the land. We do not want our parliamentarians to drift down to a state when they hurl shoes or throw chairs at one another. The parliament is a place to contest ideas in a honourable and respectful way. It is not a place to run down one another at the slightest opportunity, right or wrong, like little boys and girls do, to look smug. Our Parliament can be a model parliament where debates and issues are discussed seriously, vehemously, and logically, where parliamentarians fight vigorously over issues instead of taking snipe attacks at one another. We are a mature first world country and our parliamentarians should behave likewise, with great honour, graciousness and humility, while pursuing their political objectives and championing the cause of the people. Chok Tong has fired the first salvo to be fairer to the opposition, to listen to their views. Let’s make this real for once. We need to grow up and behave like adults.

5/28/2009

Thank you Malaysia

Malaysia is keeping Mas Selamat for two years. This is the best favour that Malaysia can do for us. Now we don't have to house him in an expensive landed property in one of the choices part of the island. And we don't have to feed him, cloth him, make sure he is well. The best part is not having to worry that he will run away again. This will now be Malaysia's problem. For the next two years, it is unlikely that Mas Selamat will be able to escape from the Malaysian detention camp. He can only be free if Malaysia agrees to let him go, in two years time. The worry will start only then.

Changes to electoral system counter productive

The changes as announced will ensure more alternative views from NMPs. That is ok. As for the possibility of more opposition MPs or NCMPs, that may not be a good thing given that opposition MPs are mostly very simplistic in their views, of no substance and only opposed for opposition's sake. And by looking at the Parliamentary proceedings, it is clear that when NMPs talked, they will be listened to without much rebutting. But when simplistic opposition MPs talked, you can expect immediate rebuttals. Their views are just not worth anything. So the new changes may be a contradiction. The offering of more single seat wards may not see more than the current two opposition MPs. The better qualified and talented MPs that were selected through a thorough system of screening will definitely won in SMCs if they are contested. And they must all be very eager to take on the less talented opposition candidates. Let's see who is going to take on Low Thia Kiang and Chaim See Tong and win. If they can beat these two, then maybe they are really something. It will be quite embarrassing if they can't even beat MPs that are simplistic and say things that are not worth listening to.

5/27/2009

Low Thia Kiang simplistic

Indranee Rajah said Low Thia Kiang was simplistic when the latter called for a stronger opposition to prevent and check a govt from becoming corrupt. The equally simplistic view is to believe that a strong govt will never be corrupt. Both views are equally simplistic without elaboration and qualification. By the way, what is the definition of corruption? Corrupt or not corrupt according to who? Yesterday in parliament I think most will agree that Low Thia Kiang was simplistic simply because when put to a vote, it is likely that there will be 82 MPs voting that it is so. So it is a numerical fact, a numerical truth. So a person can become simplistic in a situation when the majority point a finger at him and said, yes he is simplistic. The majority is right. Using the same logic, if we were to put it to a vote in cyberspace and the majority view will prevail, which view will be called simplistic? Low Thia Kiang's or Indranee Rajah's? Shall we have a vote on this? I think with the change that Chok Tong is calling for, maybe there will be less dismissive statements levelled at the opposition members. By being inclusive and willing to hear alternative views, maybe there will be more chances of opposition views being listened to and pondered over with without being brushed off immeidiately as superficial. Personally I don’t think Low Thia Kiang is being simplistic by making that remark. I think there is a lot of wisdom in his statement. Oh dear, now I will also be branded as another one with simplistic views. Pai seh man. Is our system beyond reproach for corruption? So far the most often spoken view in public is that our system is free of corruption. I am sure all Singaporeans will swear that this is the truth if they were asked to state their views. I too will swear that this is true. We should pat ourselves on our back to be able to tell the world that this is the pride of all Singaporeans. Would this view be changed some day?

5/26/2009

How much did GIC lose?

The amount lost by Temasek, 31% or about $58 BILLION has been well reported. In Parliament yesterday, this amount was again confirmed, from S$185b to S$127b. How much did GIC lose? The figure quoted in Parliament was 25%. 25% of what? How much was GIC managing? S$100b, $200b or $500b? Presumably GIC was managing more than Temasek. At $200b, 25% is $50 BILLION. At $500b, 25% will be $125 BILLION. So what is the actual amount lost by GIC? The MPs were asking for more transparency. Will more be made known given the changing mindset towards a more transparent and more accountable system? The leader of the opposition, Inderjit Singh, was speaking in his usual role and supported by several MPs on this issue.

Where are the opposition MPs?

I watched the Parliament report on Channel 5 last night hoping to see Chiam See Tong or Low Thia Kiang speaking in Parliament. No clips on them and Sylvia Lim either. I saw a lot of Siew Kum Hong. But yesterday's Parliament appeared to be hosted by Amy Khor. She was everywhere. So the opposition MPs must all be sleeping. Then I turned on the ST today. Oh, Low Thia Kiang did make a pretty long speech. At least the ST was generous enough to offer him some space, but no picture still. Can Channel 5 be generous enough to give a little coverage to the opposition MPs? If not, if they are not seen, people may think that they are all sleeping.

5/25/2009

Vote the LGBTs to Parliament

I was reading Yawning Bread and the author lamenting why the conservatives could not be persuaded by reasons and wanted their conservative way of life. I would like to suggest to the LGBTs to form a political party, get themselves into Parliament and amend the laws for a more liberal lifestyle, more alternative choices for the future. That will settle once and for all the angst that they are feeling from the pressure and pain inflicted on them by the conservatives. If the LGBTs feel strongly that this is the direction for the new world, be brave and passionate, go forth and push their agenda in Parliament.

Change must be fair, says Chok Tong

Chok Tong has spelt out three fundamental principles for change in the political system. First, 'they must be fair to all contesting parties and "not be biased in favour of one party or the other".' Second, 'they must result in a strong, effective Govt.' And third, they must 'facilitate representation for diverse views in parliament, including views of Opposition parties.' For Chok Tong to talk about a fairer system and the representation of diverse views, including opposition views, is a sign that there is an opening up, a change in the PAP's dominant ideology. Before this, the PAP's position is to win all the seats at all costs, be there opposition in Parliament or otherwise. Perhaps PAP has become wiser, knowing that there are values to have real alternative views, and that they really do not have the monopoly of talent and wisdom. Perhaps they also realised that a time has come when the people forming the opposition parties are decent and respectable people that will contest the election fairly and not to do Singapore in. And many could have very similar values with the PAP except with some differences here and there. Now we will have to see what are the changes and whether they conform to this new paradigm shift, to be more inclusive, more willing to listen and accept opposition as part and parcel of a mature political system. In the first principle above, it wil be interesting to see how this could be done to be seen as being fair by the opposition parties and not fair according to what PAP thinks is fair. The third principle is much easier to attain by working out some formula for greater participation in Parliament. The most tricky part is the second principle. How could a system ensure that there will be 'a strong, effective Govt?' Strong means a big majority. Effective means the candidates must be straight As material. To make these compatible with the second principle will not be easy. We will wait and see the details.

5/24/2009

Shambolical sagas awaiting closures

The two sticky sagas that were the preoccupations of Singaporeans for all the wrong reasons are still alive and awaiting a proper closure. The avoidance of giving each of them a decent burial is unacceptable and shows an arrogance of power or an escapism, that given time they will fade away and forgotten. I am referring to the way the national table tennis coach was given a miss from the Coach of the Year Award that many feel he rightly deserved and the role of educating children on sexuality. In the Liu Guodong case, a little grace and magnanimity, a little humbleness, would have gone a long way. What happened and dragging the issue for so long is pride, personal pride and pride of an organisation. For such a happy event, the winning of an Olympic silver medal to become a political tussle and the victim, as seen in the eyes of the public, was Liu Guodong, is regrettable. This impression will not go away by keeping quiet and not facing the issue. If from the beginning there was a little graciousness, a little forgiveness, there could have been a happy ending despite the little mishaps along the way. It may be a little late now, but still not impossible to have a good closure. Until then, officialdom appears to have won, but in contempt of public feelings. Why is there no proper closing of the sexuality education saga? Until today, some sectors of the population, some organisations, still think that they have the right to invade into the role of parenting. And they think that whatever values that are good in their eyes should be taught to other people's children. And yes, they think they are the guardians, the beacons of light for the education of the young in controversial values like pre marital sex and homosexuality. And parents should shut up and leave it to them to do the job, to bring up their children. And none of them has expressed any remorse in overstepping their roles and violating into an area that is not theirs in the first place. To some parents, this intrusion is unwelcome and offensive. Your lifestyle is your lifestyle, your own choosing. What is good, what makes you happy, is based on your own subjective morals of the good life. Other people have their own versions of the good or normal life and patronising them or chastising them that they are wrong smacks of sheer arrogance. Parents, working with the MOE, should reclaim this right to educate their children in the values that they believed in. No group is superior and have the superior values to think that they should be the right people to do this job. This message must be made loud and clear. The MOE should also put in place a system that will not allow individuals or groups to hijack the education programme to push through their private agendas, to implant a new set of values to the young in violation of the official objectives. So far no one seems to have done this and the cane has not been used. Would there be an inquiry on how it could have happened? We need a closure on this.

5/23/2009

The warming up after the thaw

Singapore's relationship with Malaysia was mended and set in order during the premiership of Badawi. After several decades of Mahathirism, when relationship between the two states went on a roller coastal ride, of extreme highs and lows, but mostly lows, it took Badawi several years to thaw the thick ice built by his predecessor. The last few days we have played host to Najib in a much friendlier atmosphere with great promises of more cooperation and cosying up to each other in economic and international affairs. Badawi took a brave stand to dismantle the crooked bridge that was more a hindrance than an improvement in facilitating communication of goods and people through the causeway. If it was allowed to replace the causeway, it would become a major obstacle course for the people trying to cross the Straits of Johore. It is near impossible to think of walking across as conveniently as what they are doing now. Najib has more or less driven the last nail to this bizarre concept of a crooked bridge. The possibility of a widen causeway, the most logical and economical option, is now on the table. But a bridge still must be built and Najib offers a more logical and sensible proposal, a new bridge to the east of the causeway to facilitate and promote economic development and growth to a neglected region. The south eastern corner of Johore offers huge potential for development and tourism. Both the widening of the causeway, a new bridge in the east, are practical proposals that will surely be met with equal enthusiasm from the Singapore side. Throughout Najib's visit, the undertone of the message coming through is one of a very careful and pragmatic man wanting better cooperation and relations that will benefit the people of both countries. Najib is looking into a new future, taking off from a stronger foundation laid by Badawi instead of going back in time to a creaking structure of Mahathir. From the reactions of the Singapore side, my assessment is that Najib will be a welcomed PM to build better ties, and his proposals will be taken up seriously. He is the best bet to continue the work of Badawi and for the two countries to mend ties and move forward together. The question is whether the Mahathirism that is still alive in many of his cabinet members and in Johore will allow Najib to open up a new era of cooperation and mutual prosperity between the two countries. Have the bad blood been cleansed? If not, Najib would need a major blood transfusion exercise to clear his administration before he can move forward with his new vision and style of govt. The future of better ties is much more brighter. The thaw is now warming up. This is a great moment to seize for both Hsien Loong and Najib to quickly move forward and dismiss the past to history.

5/22/2009

A brilliant strategy gone awry

The concept and strategy to invest in some of the biggest financial institutions by GIC and Temasek were a brilliant move. These financial institutions are the strategic centres in the movement of funds across the world, and proxies to the world economy. Having an interest in them, a controlling stake, is akin to the days of the British Empire when they controlled all the strategic sea ports. If GIC and Temasek were successful in this endeavour, we would have transformed ourselves as the controller and master of the world financial system. Unfortunately things did not turn out as planned. I can superficially see three possible reasons for the disastrous loss of billions of our savings. 1, it could be professional incompetence. But this is unlikely to be acknowledged as everyone involved in the plans are professional trained and experts in their fields. And they must have done their due diligence. 2, and very obvious, is the blinded trust of the American system and corporate chiefs. We looked like bright eyed little children in awe of the Americans, and believing in everything they said and did, thinking that what we see would be what we get. And we bought cart loads of rotten eggs. Then when the smell came forth, the Americans came with more baskets of rotten eggs, and we bought again, trusting them completely. Now we knew that the system was rotten and the salesmen were crooks, selling rotten eggs without telling us so. 3. The third reason is providence. When the mandate of heaven is passe, no matter how brilliant and able our people are, things will go wrong, and go disastrously wrong. Man proposes, heaven disposes. Having said that, the concept and strategy are still sound and should not be forsaken just because of the failure. With the experience of all the bunglings, we could be wiser in making our next move. Of course, hoping at the same time that providence is kinder and in our favour.

So, it is Aware's fault?

Eng Hen has spoken and that Aware's programme can only be reintroduced after it has regained the public's trust. That settles one part of the issue. The second part is how the Aware programme was allowed to be taught in the way it did for so long, and actually accepted as normal without anyone from the MOE raising an eyebrow? In fact the initial reaction from MOE official is that there were no complaints or the noises put up were groundless, unjustified emotions. Who gave the go ahead or why was there no ongoing assessment and auditing to make sure that the content was safe or acceptable? If not for the hooha, the programme would still be taught to the children without anyone getting wiser. Would there be a review and an explanation on this second part of the issue? Are the confidence and trust in MOE affected by this slip? Or MOE is totally free of blame, nothing to do with it?

5/21/2009

HDB to build more 2 and 3 rm flats

Is this progress or regress? Or are we telling the Singaporeans that My endearing home is a 2 or 3 rm flat? Of course not. My endearing home is a freehold landed property, 20,000 sq ft, in district 10 or Sentosa. 2 and 3 rm flats are for the losers. In fact all public flats are for losers. the 2 and 3 rm flats are for those who can't even buy a 4rm flat. How many can afford to buy a 4 rm flat these days when the price is $300k to $400k or more? In my time, a single income family, a young graduate with 3 or 4 years working experience could even buy a 5 rm flat. Today, with 2 incomes, two graduates would have problems buying a 4 rm flat. Is the life of Singaporeans getting better? Of course, depending on who you are asking.

My bizarre interpretation of the 36 injuries

The coroner's report is out and it confirmed that David Widjaja died from falling. But how to explain the 36 injuries on his bodies and trunks, and a bruise on his neck. Let me to emplain, assuming that he died from the fall. David must be one of those kids that like to cut themselves. So all the wounds and lacerations must be self inflicted, cutting left, cutting right, change hand, cut and cut, all 36 times. With so many cuts, blood must be dripping all over his body and the places he walked through. As for the bruise on his neck, a karate expert chop would probably kill him or broke his neck, and leaving behind a big bruise. But if the chopper is not a karate expert, then the bruise may not kill him and will be lighter. And for the many other bruises and abrasions, he must have rolled and rolled as he landed from his fall, like a judoka trying to break his fall. My interpretation is not meant to be true. Just bizarre.

5/20/2009

Brutal attack on a 3 year old

Anyone read the brutal and cruel attack on a 3 year old child by the mother's lover in the paper today? He punched the child's face, slammed his head against the wall, bit his penis and scrotum etc. These went on and on for months. The poor child eventually died. The punishment was seven years imprisonment and 12 strokes of rotan. The guy who kissed and suckled another boy's organ, without causing hurt got 12 years imprisonment and 12 strokes of rotan. Which is a more severe crime? Why was the mother not punished for letting the brute attacked her child in such a vicious and deadly way?

The Presidential Address

Nathan was a key administrator in his younger days, holding very important appointments in the govt that no fools will be allowed to get near to by the miles. To be in those positions, he must have proven to be a man of great intellect and brilliance. His writing skills is on par with that of Devan Nair. His understanding of social and political issues of the land is as good as any politician worthy of his salt. We heard the Presidential address. It was very mechanical in the delivery. There was no flair, no passion, nothing that gets it near to what Nathan would have written it. No ohmm! It was just a prim and proper motherhood statement. Maybe that is what one can expect from a President's Address. Obama would not have it that way. How different would it be if Nathan would to write his own speech, use his own style, speak on issues that were close to his hearts, and deliver it the way he knows best, the style of Nathan. I am presuming that the President's speech was prepared for him by his staff. And I stand to be corrected on this. I still feel that Nathan would be able to make a more punchy and lively speech if he were to be himself and set aside the protocol of what a President should be.

5/19/2009

New session in Parliament

What impresses me most during the keynote speech by the President is Nathan's health. He seemed to be getting more youthful by the day. He was so radiant, relaxed, well fed, and looked like he will live for another 50 years. The fountain of youth must be somewhere in the Istana. His motherhood speech was comprehensive and covered everything that needed to be said. Now comes the implementation part which the ministries are expected to do the due diligence. One recommendation I have in mind is to raise property prices, both private and public. This is the best strategy 'in helping companies stay viable and continue to employ workers.' It will 'strengthen our revenue base', and the excess profits can be accumulated as reserves for a rainy day. With higher prices of properties, the private developers can make more profits, provide better jobs and pay their employees very well. In the public housing sector, the profits can be used to help those who needed help. Never mind if the buyers would have to pay a lifetime for the little space they bought. They can feel good to live in a half a million or one million dollar flats. Compare to Hongkong, our flats are still very cheap and very luxurious, endearing homes. In Hongkong one will have to pay a fortune for a 90 sq m. Here it is so affordable. Our 3 rm flat is like a mansion! So liveable. Our standard of living (and cost of living) is improving by the day.

5/18/2009

The new 9 tier hospital bill system

It guarantees smaller bills. The subsidy ranges from 10% to 75%. A family with an income of $5,600 will still get a 10% income. Great, finally someone realises that a family income of $5,600 is nothing and bearly sufficient if spread across several adults with such a high cost of living. The question is whether a family income of $5,600 would translate into some money to be set aside to pay for hospital bills of $5k, $10k or $50k if the family is so 'sway' to be hit by a major illness. The article in the Today paper by Neo Chai Chin also includes an example of a Mrs Wong, 65, 28 days in a 8 bedded ward and a family income of $4000. Her bill of $2,500 today will become $2000 with a 40% subsidy in July 1. The best part is that she does not need to pay any cash. Wow, my mother will say 'free ah, no need to pay ah, govt so good!' In Mrs Wong case, $800 will be paid by MediShield and $1200 by Medisave. See, not only smaller bills, but no bills actually. Go in and stay and all paid for. Where on earth could one be so fortunate to stay in a world class hospital and literally for free? Only in paradise. For those with bigger income, they will have to stay in more expensive wards and a comparatively more expensive bills. Whatever the ward they choose, if income is above $5600, no subsidy. But they should thank god that they have bigger incomes to pay the bills. Lucky fellows.

Parliament in session

Parliament will reconvene again this week and there were expectations of change in view of the global economic crisis and its severity on the life of the average Singaporeans. This group in my definition will be those living in 4 and 5 room flats. The 3 roomers and smaller flat owners were obviously hit more. And the middle income, even in the lower end of the private housing sector were also not spared as well. I have only one wish for a change. The Ministry of Housing and Development needs a new minister and a new set of policy that is pro Singaporeans, does not eat up every cent of a Singaporean's income and then ask why Singaporeans do not have enough savings for old age. The grotesque profits as seen in Duxton Pinnacle do not go down well with a govt that is caring and wanting to give every Singaporean a decent home and stake in this country. Unless some jokers think that a decent home in Singapore is a 3 room flat. My endearing home to Singaporeans must mean better and afforable homes relative to their income. Singaporeans used to aspire to a 5 rm flat or better. At the rate that prices of public housing are being pushed upwards, many could only be contented with just a 3 rm or 4 rm flat. Maybe that is the reason why HDB is building more smaller flats for the people. My endearing home of bigger flats, private properties should be a message for the rich foreigners being invited here with red carpets. Singaporeans should count themselves lucky to have a 3 rm or 4rm flat as their endearing homes if this is the way things are moving.

5/17/2009

I missed the pinkdot party

Oh dear, I was caught up with running an errant and missed the party altogether. I would love to share the pictures if I were there. About a thousand people were there. Anyway, the pics at TOC and a few other blogs were marvelous. Now I am kicking myself for not being there. The message is simple and clear, from the pics. The pink people are a happy lot, and beautiful too. If only we have more pinks among us, we will definitely be a happier place. Make love, not war. The same message from the sixties. Congrats to the authorities for approving the event. Definitely no violence or social security problems to be expected. The pink people shall also be happy that the non pinks were not there to jeer at them or pick a fight. It is inclusiveness and acceptance.

Mas Selamat's beard and....

The privilege of owning a blog is that one can write anything one likes, the most trivial, and paste it as the main news. You can't do it in the major media when readers paid for what they read. So here I am, on a Sunday morning, writing about the beard of Supermas. There are many angles I can approach this serious topic. I can compare how long it has grown since his escape, measurement can be in inches or centimetres. I can also talk about how handsome he looks, with or without his beard. I can also talk about his barber or hairdresser. He could have received a cut from a famous one in Orchard Road or Scudai. But this must be kept as a secret or his hairdresser will become as popular as Supermas overnight. Maybe he is already thinking of a poster or putting up an advertisement in the paper of his famous client. Should I go one step further and spin a theory that he cut his own beard and hair? Would anyone want to prove that this can be done? I am still waiting for the Mas Selamat look to become a fad. If that happens, you will see the images of Supermas all over the streets, in Singapore, JB and Batam. They may even hold swimming contest or Selamat look alike contest, or competition on overcoming the obstacles that Supermas had to go through in his escape. Now thie latter should be a good TV live serial. Contestants can compete with each other to see who can complete the obstacle course first. The first obstacle must be climbing out of a toilet window. Next, dashing to the fence. This should be followed by climbing over barbwire fence. I presume that security fence should have barbwires. Next, a 26 km limping run to the woodlands. The grand finale should be the river crossing with a choice of flotation devices. Contestants can choose whichever is suitable for themselves. And for this grand finale, there will be spotlights shining across the river, police patrol boats and civilian boats that can hit or crush the contestants to knock them out. Would that be an interesting proposition? How handsome Supermas looks with his beard and moustache.

5/16/2009

Exploring and making red herrings real

It is so comical today, and everyday, to see people floating red herrings in the media, and you will have professionals trying so hard to make these red herrings look real, even experimenting with them, holding out trials to say, yes it can be done, it is the tooth. The sad part is that the more they try to prove the fallacy or incredibility, the more ridiculous they make themselves to look like one. The other sad part is that some section of the public would really be led or misled into believing them as the truth when they are obviously only the tooth. Guess the red herrings that we have read in the media? Unbelieveable to the point of insulting the intelligence of the public. I am also guilty of posting red herrings. But anyone reading my red herrings will know what they are, as they often came through with a big dosage of cynicism. My red herrings were never meant to convince the public that they were the truth, but to provoke thoughts of how ridiculous is the nature of things, unlike the commercial truth, the tooth that were fabricated to make the public believed. Thank god we have alternative media to separate the truth from the tooth.

More NMPs needed

In our open and inclusive society, when organisation of 200 members deserved to be represented in Parliament, we can look forward for more NMPs to be in Parliament to represent their little corners of interests. Now we have arts rep, sports rep, academic rep, medical profession rep, foreign talent or new citizen rep, it is time to open up Parliament to be more inclusive. The first rep or NMP I have in mind is the LGBT. There are definitely more than 200 members out there, maybe 20,000 or more. Surely they deserve to have a NMP to speak up for them. Then there are many other groups and professions that were not represented in Parliament. I could simply rattle off a few here, the silver hair, parents group, the retirees or jobless, pasar malam hawkers, motorworkshop, insurance agents, housing agents, stockbroking agents, loanshark association or moneylenders, newton food centre, the infamous shopowners of Lucky Plaza and Sim Lim Square, oh, the bloggers, and the small and smart children who are worldly and well read, thanks to internet and want to decide what is good for themselves without their parents or anyone imposing their values on them. Now who else should deserve a place in parliament? Charity organisations, yes, there are plenty of them and managing huge sums of money. Then CPF members. They have been victims all these while with people deciding for them on how to spend their money and they completely have no say, helpless, and no MPs or NMPs speaking for them or their interests. We need more NMPs in Parliament for it to be more representatives and for the people to be really represented, to speak out and protect their own interests. The MPs are too busy, with so many commitments and hats to wear that it is only natural that they could not give off their best, their full attention and devotion to their constituents. They are the most hardworking group of people, and the people must understand, that they only have 24 hours a day. They just cannot be anywhere and everywhere at the same time. They are advisers to so many grassroots, sports and community organisations. Poor chaps, truly supermen and superwomen. The NMP shall have a nice job cut out for them, to fill the gaps that MPs could not cover.

5/15/2009

Sexual assault or tender loving care?

This guy hid in public toilets to wait for little boys to enter the toilet alone. When a lonely boy came, he would help the boy to remove his trousers and to pee. He would then fonder the boy and perform oral sex on the boy. Why is he charged for sexual assault? He was being nice to the boy, showing the boy some tender loving care. He didn't beat nor bit the boy. Isn't it unfair to him? He may be sentenced to imprisonment or given 12 strokes of the cane. Where is the inclusiveness? The guy was exercising his right to an alternative lifestyle.

The media tick off

After being unleashed for a few weeks to write partisan articles and comments on the Aware saga, Kan Seng has finally spoken to take the media to task for their less than proper reporting that were found wanting in some areas. It was so stark that the reporting was one sided, with journalists and reporters taking sides in the sorry and deplorable episode. Where was the professionalism to be impartial and objective? Why were they unleashed for so long to make those kinds of reports? Beats me. Someone behind the scene pushing some agenda? And no one knew that this was happening and everyone behaved like the 4 probervial monkeys! The impact was so fierce that the conservatives were in some way cowed to oblivion and afraid to make their stand on the issue of homosexuality. Or was it that the conservative views were not given a chance to be aired, not given any space in the media? Why was the media ending up like that, that it appeared to be serving the interests of some groups? I have read several letters of despair by the conservatives to the church and to Hsien Loong, calling for fairer and more objective reporting. And you can only read them in cyberspace, through emails and blogs. This highlighted how important cyberspace has become to provide a more balanced view of issues when TOM failed to do its job in impartiality. And look at the amount of postings on the NMP nominations! Again it is the netizens that are taking the lead to voice their concerns. This you cannot find in TOM. And TOM is now reporting the happenings and the numerous concerns of the netizens postings in blogs and in Reach. Why was there an absence of such letters of concerns in the TOM? The cyberspace and netizens are speaking out. Bloggers and netizens know that only in cyberspace can they expressed fully what their views were and be heard.

5/14/2009

Motor Insurance - Must be the govt's fault.

In a discussion on the high motor insurance course the workshop, lawyers and insurance companies all denied that it was their fault. So if all of them are not at fault, so it must be the govt's fault lah. Logical right? Everyone is so innocent. The govt must come down hard on the culprits to clear its name and help motorists from being fleeced. The best part is to hear recommendation that motorists should negotiate with insurance companies or go shopping for the best rate. Really, can do such thing meh? In a cartel like industry, and without insurance one cannot renew road tax or drive, who is calling the shot? The motorists deserve a fairer system, reasonable premium and the govt to step him since no one is owning up. Would the govt come in to help the motorists or is it a buyers beware and free market system? Should we tell the motorists that it is there problem?

SuperMas

How talented is Mas Selamat? He has outwitted the whole Home Team and literally walked away in broad daylight with thousands of men and women chasing him but without a clue where he was for a year. And he lived the life of a free man in Johore without the Malaysian police knowing that he was there. He must be a man of exceptional talent, easily better than 10 or 100 of our supertalents put together. How else could one compare him when two police forces, three, if we are to include the Indonesians, could let him slipped away and be out of sight for so long. It was just unfortunate that Mas Selamat was born in Indonesia. If he is a full blooded Singaporean, he would probably be shortlisted for the Gifted Programme. This would be followed by an educational path taking him through RI and RJC and a string of straight As. And being an exceptional brilliant minority, he would definitely be handpicked for an overseas scholarship, even a President’s Scholarship could come his way. And you know what that would lead to? A political career and a minister in time to come. Such is the wasted talent in Mas Selamat. He was not given that kind of opportunity a talented Singaporean like him will be given. And he had to find his opportunity in a terrorist organisation where his talent were given a free hand to blossom. He is now a celebrity and well respected by the elite Singaporeans. Another opportunity is now presented to Mas Selamat. Fame, wealth and glory are knocking at his door. Hollywood could easily offer him US$10 million for his story and the right for a book and a movie. With that kind of offer, Mas could buy a big landed property in district 10 or Orchard Road and live next to a minister. I am very sure he will be most welcomed in the company of supertalents. The IISS or LKY School of Public Policy can offer Mas Selamat a chair as Professor in International Terrorism and JI. Mas can go on a circuit giving talks on terrorism like Clinton and Al Gore and pocket a million per talk. In addition he can conduct courses on how to escape from detention to our men in uniform. I am getting my autograph book ready for him to sign.

5/13/2009

Who is responsible for educating our children on moral values?

Who is responsible for educating our children on moral values? Going to school for a secular education, to acquire knowledge in whatever fields, can be quite straight forward. Given the complexities of organized societies, the multiplicity of race and religion, and now sexual orientation and lifestyle choices, it is simply too obvious that what is right or wrong, what is good or bad, what is normal or abnormal, is not the same to different groups of people. Who shall be responsible to teach children the proper or normal values? Who should be authorized to impart their values to the children? Teaching about the birds and bees may look simple enough. What is not so simple is the morality and values ascribed to them. Who is arrogant enough to think that he/she, his or her organization, shall be the one to decide what to impart to the children as The right thing? Should Aware be authorized to do this part of a child’s education? Or, should any religious group be authorized to be the One to impart its values as the acceptable or right values? Or should there be a consolidation of agreed values by the various groups, a common set of values for all children? Or should each group or parents be the authority to impart their own values to the children? Who is responsible or ultimately be responsible for how these children will turn out eventually? Does the state have a set of values for the children? I think there is and parents do expect that these are the values that their children should be taught and not any other variants of it no matter which group thinks its values are superior or the best for the children. The MOE thus is responsible to ensure that the right values be taught in schools, not someone’s private agenda or values. Failing to ensure that this is done is unacceptable. The parents have certain expectations and they must have confidence that MOE shall deliver what it is expected to deliver.

5/12/2009

Notable quote by Obama

'We cannot continue down the same dangerous road we've been travelling for so many years, with costs that are out of control.' Barack H Obama Obama was referring to the high medical cost in American and his health care plan to cut it by US$2 trillion. And we are happily plodding along the same path, with the US as our reference point. As long as we are cheaper than the US, we are ok. Our health care is affordable.

If there was no Thio Su Mien and Josie Lau...and gang

Yes, Thio Su Mien and Josie Lau and gang were booted out of Aware. Everyone clapped. Everyone happy. The majority have spoken. What if this event did not happen? Would the Aware CSE curriculum still be taught to the school children?

Year 2025 - A wedding

Now it is year 2025, and I am still alive. All my friends are still kicking around too, not mati yet. And I got a call from my anonymous friend. Hi Redbean, my son is getting married next Sat. You are invited. OH congrats. He must have found a beautiful bride. Ahem, not like that man. My son is the bride. And the groom is a tall and handsome Greek god, bronze in colour man. Wow, that must be exciting. So, you aren't planning to be a grandpa? Not really, they said they will adopt one from Kampuchea and one from Mamiya. So I will have two grandchildren. And I am truly happy to see them together. My son is so happy when he is with him. It is all about finding true happiness man. Great. So is the event formal or informal? Redbean, you are really 'swa koo'. This is year 2025, where got formal or informal. OK, then I will come in my tux top and jeans bottom. Would that be cool enough? Just come in whatever you like lah, as long as it is pink. Ok, no problem, I will just bleach one of my red shirt overnight. That shall do the trick. Oh, just for your info, the wedding is approved by the govt. How so? What has the govt got to do with the wedding. You son or son in law must be somebody important huh? It is like that lah, they are holding it at Hong Lim Park. Anything held there is approved by the govt. Oh, that's true huh. So clever. I am really looking forward to the wedding. I have been shooting orchids and dragonflies all my life. Now I have something real exciting to shoot at. Will be there. The above could be the reality of the future generations. Don't pray pray.

5/11/2009

What are MOE's and Aware's positions?

The MOE had investigated and had banned the Aware CSE programme for the time being and is reviewing the contents from all the service providers of these programmes. MOE has also made its stand clear, that it follows the govt's policies of promoting healthy lifestyle with the family as the basic building block of our society. What the MOE needs to do is to clarify how the CSE programme was given the go ahead to be taught to school children. Was it an oversight or was it approved initially as acceptable until parents complained? As an oversight, it can be corrected by doing more due diligence. What is worrisome is that MOE could actually support such contents. Parents need an assurance that it is not. And MOE owes the parents who don't approved of the undesirable contents an explanation on how it came about. What is the true position of MOE on this? Similarly, Aware needs to publicise its position on the teaching of such material to school children. The Aware's content promotes homosexuality, anal sex and pre marital sex as normal. Is sodomy normal? Would Aware clarify where it stands on these issues? Is it for, against or neutral?

Mas Selamat – The Superman

We have heard it over and over again, Mas Selamat is a Superman. Not only that he could slip out of a heavily guarded detention centre, right under the noses of officers and guards, in broad day light, and disappeared for more than a year, terrorist experts are heaping praises on him, that he is an expert in terrorist acts, in making bombs, a determined man, a highly intelligent operator and what ever you can make him out to be. Basically he is smarter and more intelligent than any of the security officers we have in service. He is Superman! His latest exploit was to swim across the Straits of Johore, using improvised flotation gear. From what we read in the media, it was very likely that he strung together a pile of plastic bottles, tied probably with raffia strings or lallangs, and swum across the strait that was heavily patrolled by the coastguards in search of him. Ok, swimming across the 1.2km strait is no problem as school children could also do it easily. I definitely can’t. In the case of Mas Selamat, his comrade disclosed that he was a bad swimmer. Added to that, he has a bad leg that limps. So how could he swim across with such disabilities and handicaps. The obvious answer is that he had the help of some kind of propulsion. I think all he needed was to fart all the way and for an hour or so. That would take him across the strait. The only precaution he needed was to ensure that his farting was not too loud to be heard.

5/10/2009

More transparency and less hostility

We have all heard calls for more inclusiveness and homosexuality is normal. It is also normal to teach children that homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle, and sexuality is normal, including pre marital sex. I have ventured into Catherine Lim's blog and read her article which suggested that parents should not imposed their values on their children. But is the Aware CSE programme imposing its values on children? The general impression I got is that many sophisticated adults, with many years of experience and widely read and travelled, assumed that children, in the early teens, are smart, well informed like them, and mature enough to make life choices on value loaded issues like sexuality, premarital sex, etc. And in her blog, there was one Beka who claimed to be a youth and very knowledgeable about such things, implying that all children are as knowledgeable and well informed as him/her. I asked him/her for his/her age as a 'youth'. From her post, I believe he/she will be a youth in her late 20s or 30s or older. There is no comparison to a child in her lower teens or pre teens. At those tender age, they are very vulnerable. Anyway, I got a few presumptious responses for my post in Catherine's blog that were clearly hostile and arrogant. Of course they called me presumptious, arrogant and ignorant. And I can clearly see where they are coming from. To be fair, to be transparent and open in our discussion over such 'normal issues' it is better that we know the background of the person speaking. I mean just the person's sexual orientation. This will help to make one understand why things were said in such a manner, and the values and experience that formed the basis of the positions taken. I am straight and hetero. I am normal. I do not feel ashame or any need to hide this information. And if the homosexuals do believe that they are normal, than they too should not feel ashamed to reveal their orientation. Then we can have a healthy discussion, with a better understanding of why the other is taking such a position. And this is a discussion between mature adults, not between arrogant and demanding individuals who only want others to see their points of view as the only right view. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are not something that we can ascribe right or wrong to them. Let's talk about them with some civility without getting emotional as if one who does not agree is an enemy and going after the other's lifestyle.

5/09/2009

The Aware Saga and homosexuality

I do not want to belabour this event to give it too much credit. But I just want to touch on one aspect that the media and the white shirts would not want the people to see. The issue that most people have come to remember this episode is a Christian group gate crashing into a secular organisation, taking control of it and tried to impose its Christian values on the organisation. Is this what it was all about? Many unthinking people will believe so. And they rallied to this message to fight the 'Christian Talibans'. I didn't coined this phrase. And the church also dissociated itself from this group of Christians. The rest is history. Is this the real story or is this the whole story? One major aspect of this struggle that was swept under the carpet is the issue of homosexuality. This was scantily mentioned or ignored completely by the media and even the church and all the religious organisations. What is the stand of the media on this? What is the stand of all the religious organisations and civil organisations on this? Silence....No one bothers to talk about it either. The religious organisations, especially the church, has no stand, no view or opinion on homosexuality and imparting such values to our children in schools. This was not an issue at stake and not an issue for discussion. Now that the 'Christian Talibans' have been removed, would this homosexual fad be a topic worthy of discussion in our media?

Mas Selamat - A staged escape?

I am pondering over this theory, that the whole thing was staged. Ah, unbelieveable, far fetched? It is just a theory and let me piece the facts together including some possible reasons that this could be the biggest, carefully managed escape of our history. When Mas escaped, there was a confluence of mistakes or events to facilitate his disappearance. The gurkha soldier and the ISD officer appeared to be like school prefects, so amateurish to the point of being clumsy and inept. I would have very strong reservation to place my trust on these people to look after our security. They are professionals and professionally trained. So on these points, I don't believe that they were what they were made to look like. Secondly, the detention centre is not a school compound without any security or security officers guarding them. The so called slips and a CCTV system that was not functioning at the precise moment left much to wonder. The search after the escape was another laughable episode. I think officially they only found out that Mas had escaped long after he was gone. And mounting the search party was also long after he was gone. The search party arrived to search the wrong area, in the residential area and left out the MacRitchie Reservoir corridor completely. No tracker dog was deployed. So much for all the misses that could put a big dent on the credibility, capability and intelligence of our security personnel. I too don't believe that our security people are so silly. So something must be missing here. And the damages, the credibility of ISD and the reputation of Kan Seng were at stake. Were these a good price to pay for to stage such an escape? What could possibly happen? A chip was planted in Mas Selamat. So he could go no where and could be brought back at our pleasure, time and place of our own choosing. The benefits, to test how efficient such a chip works, and all the movements and contacts Mas could lead our security people to. Imagine watching him and his JI members in action like watching mice in a controlled lab environment! Then there were exercises that could be mounted, mobilising the people and security personnel in a situation that was as real as it could get. The gains of staging such an escape are tremendous. Now after more than a year watching him and seeing how he operated, and before he gets too dangerous, and with his contacts exposed, it is time to bring him back. By now, the whole JI operations could be an open book to the security people of Malaysia, Indonesia and us. Worth it isn't it? There are many clues that this could be staged. The April 1 arrest of Mas Selamat screamed April Fool. Possible? Just allowing my imagination to go wild. Let's wait to hear Mas Selamat's story.

5/08/2009

Mas Selamat Arrested!

This is the front page media news today. Finally Mas is back. Finally we can put to rest all the speculations that he was dead. Now, with him back, can we have Selamat's version of his escape? This is first class Hollywood material! We can now confirm if the toilet rolls were placed there to break his fall and what the gurkha soldier did while he was in climbing out of the toilet window. We will also know if his escape was a one man act caused by a confluence of mistakes or a congregation of accomplices. We will know which route he took and how he got out of Singapore. The public must be very hungry and eager to know the tooth. Oops, I mean the truth.

From tolerance to acceptance

As we slide down the scale between black and white, the black will first turn to dark grey, grey then to light grey before becoming white. An instant switch from black to white is too harsh and unacceptable. But if we slide it down bit by bit, over time, no one will know the difference or how the change took place when black is being accepted as white. The recent debate on whether homosexuality is neutral is akin to such a slide. In the past, there was no two ways. Homosexuals were not accepted in society. The effiminate males may be tolerated, but not the men who lusted for another men, or women for women. Today we have come to a stage when the general public have accepted these anomallies and accommodated their existence as just another human bean. Even then, explicit or overt homosexual acts are not accepted and still forbidden by laws. There is another section of the population that is very active in pushing for homosexuality to be accepted as normal, as an alternative way of life. If this quest is to be successful, we will eventually see boys dating boys, marrying boys and having sex among themselves. And the girls will do likewise. It could become a fad, a trend, something to be cool about. And the loud and trendy will set the mood and trend. What will happen to the boys dating girls or vice versa? Being impressionable and weak to peer pressure or so call fads and fashion, would these normal boys and girls succumb and feel that they are queer? Would they be ostracised by the homosexual boys and girls and bend backwards, to cease dating the opposite sexes just to be in the in group? Should such a day arrive, the normal will become abnormal, the heterosexuals will become the queer and the homosexuals the straight. We are seeing some of the silent majority speaking our in the letters to the media. If they do not, their reticent will be seen as consent just like what had happened in Suntec City last weekend, when 1414 women set the tone and direction of Aware. Is this what the majority wants? The MOE was very sure about the CSE programme but has now back tracked after some protests from the parents. If there were no protest, no complaints, the CSE programme would still be taught to the children as normal and appropriate. The majority must speak up for their own interests, fast. Failure to do so may turn their normal hetero children into queers for being hetero in the future.

5/07/2009

Oh my god, MOE suspends Aware's CSE programme

'Our aim has always been to help students make informed and responsible decisions about their sexuality in the context of values taught by their parents.' This is a response from an Aware spokesman. Then how could MOE suspend their CSE programme? And MOE found some information in the instructor guide inappropriate but 'Aware spokesman said: "We stand by our CSE programme." She emphasised that the guide is "a confidential document used strictly during the training of the CSE instructors".' Oh my god! Does it mean that no one is supposed to know its content because it is confidential but could be taught to students? Oh my god, MOE suspends the CSE programme in less than a week after investigation when it was officially deemed that the programme was acceptable a week ago, no complaints, fine. What is happening huh? You mean all this while some of the CSE programme were too explicit, inappropriate and promoting alternative lifestyle, were used to educate our young children and only with vehement complaints and an Aware saga that this was found out? Are we looking at the relevant facts or it was just an emotional response without facts? Oh my god, oh my god!

5/06/2009

In praise of homosexuality education

I read several letters in the forum praising Aware for teaching homosexuality in schools. I agree that this is a subject that cannot be swept under the carpet. What I hope the MOE will make certain is the credentials of the instructors and be mindful of those with wrongful intentions that may lead the children down the wrong path, or even harbouring homosexual intent on the children they are teaching. A thorough vetting must be carried out to ensure that instructors are carefully screened. Not that I have anything against homosexuals, but I think gays and lesbians should be banned from teaching sexual education. Let the straight teachers do this job. I know that some may argue that homosexuals should be the best people to teach homosexuality because of their personal experiences on the subject. I choose to defer. Anyone got any views on this?

Was David Widjaja murdered?

This is a very serious question to ask. The family of David is protesting at the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta claiming that he was murdered. This is a big shift from the position first made known in our local media that he committed suicide by jumping down the building. How could his family be so certain when our professionals covering the case, they must be equally certain, that he committed suicide? Even the statements made by all the important people concerned pointed to the suicide road. What would be the truth? A suicide or murder cannot be so vague and grey that two parties are so certain of their opposing positions. Our forensic experts must be able to pin point the cause of death in this case with a high level of certainty. I certainly hope the truth will see the light to vindicate that justice and the rule of law are what our system stands for. And for David to rest in peace and his family appeased.

5/05/2009

Abusing professional integrity

Yeo Toon Joo, an ex senior journalist, wrote a passionate article on the role of journalists and the media during the recent national crisis when two women groups fought for leadership in Aware. Details are in www.littlespeck.com. I can understand his disgust and anger over the state of journalism here. We have perhaps the best crop of talented reporters and journalists schooled in the best universities and returned with first class honours degrees. With such able and capable talents, it is a big waste if they are not assigned to cover more meaty and worthy news than the Aware catfight. OK, I accept that this catfight may be an issue of national proportion to some. But I have my reservation on the importance of this, as Vivian has described it most appropriately, 'petty politics'. Looking across the professions, such abuses of professionalism are quite prevalent and did great harm to the professions as well as the integrity and self worth of the professionals. Many could even compromise their moral principles to deal with things that they should not be doing as an honourable individual. I don't see any pride if the whole system and machinery are harnessed to chase children wearing T shirts screaming, 'Shut up and sit down'. I don't find it funny if senior management were to take buses just to prove that the transport claim put up by his/her subordinate is $1.10 and not $1.20. I don't find it funny if nonsensical reasons were given to justify nonsensical decisions. We have not gone down this road yet. But it will be a very sad day if such things happened. I feel terribly sorry for the professionals if they were to compromise themselves and their professional integrity to do the unsavoury. I am waiting for the day when talented journalists and reporters were assigned to write about gossips of aunties and uncles, about who is sleeping with who, who wears what and eats what, or who did not brush teeth. Would that day come? If it does, it would be the reason why our journalists are unable to excel in what they do, unable to optimise their talents in creative and investigative writings on real substance and issues of great importance. But I may be wrong, as what is important or not is just a subjective personal interpretation.

5/04/2009

Just a thought

If a deviant sect that is banned or not accepted by society to form its own organisation officially, would it be nice to sneak into another organisation and make that organisation its front organisation? By quietly getting all its members to join an organisation, in no time, that organisation will, unconsciously become the official organisation of that sect. This is a thought that just came to me after meditating for hours on the unfolding of recent events. It can happen right? This is not much different from money laundering.

I asked 'Who won?'

Obviously the red shirts lost. And it is easy to think that the white shirts won. Let me take a different look. What do you get when you mix red and white together? Pink of course: ) There are good things and bad things coming out of this episode. For one, Singaporeans are not prone to riotings and burning down buildings today. Singaporeans are sensible and responsible people that will abide by the rule of law and settle their big differences over tea. The women have proven that all the fears of granting permits to Singaporeans to hold parties are unfounded, or at least need to be re examine. I still think that all the education and prosperity did not go to waste, that we have progressed as a people, no longer third world mentality and prone to violence. Can we then examine our heads and ask whether we still need all the controls, and to release freedom of expression in drips and draps to be safe? I was there to take a look, with my camera ready, in case violence broke out. I was disappointed. And I hardly see the presence of the police except for the Cisco guards inside the conference hall. The women have vindicated that Singaporeans are civilised.

5/03/2009

The Aware Battle - Who won?

From an obscure little association of 300 members, it's membership has swelled to over 3000 in a matter of weeks. The association must be the biggest winner in this battle. The old Exco has been returned to power and the new Exco booted out. The new Exco did not stand a chance the moment the church cuts off its support from the group. Otherwise, what is 3000 members, they could get 30,000 or more if they were together. And the voting was all about the composition of the new Exco, that it does not reflect the racial and religious realities of the country. They were seen as being too Christian and too Chinese for a secular organisation. The homosexual agenda was a non issue. Is it that it was a non issue or it was swept away by the forces to remove the new Exco for the way they invited themselves to a party? Apparently, from the lack of interest in discussing the homosexual issue, one can interpret that homosexuals are now an accepted and welcome reality in our society. Their presence was greatly felt in the EGM in great numbers. The homosexuals should take some comfort that they have been accepted by all as part and parcel of our way of life, not queers. They no longer need to feel paranoid about themselves and hide in the closet. In fact, other than a few small groups that have very strong views of homosexuality, no one bothers about whether one is straight or queer. With this issue settled, will the curriculum of the CSE need to be revised, or should the investigation by MOE continue? The EGM has in a way confirmed that what Aware has been doing is what the Aware members want, or what the supporters of the old Exco want. A new chapter of the Aware movement has begun. Or the old chapter will continue to be written the way it was written.

5/02/2009

CSE - No complains means OK?

Minister of State for Education, Iswaran, told the public to get the facts right on sex education in school. 'Get your facts right on what is happening in Singapore schools when it comes to sex education, and do not base comments on "innuendo or information receive on the fly". The schools' sex education programme is based on "the guiding principle that the family is the basic building block of society". 'In a letter, the MOE said the schools "found that the content and messages of the sessions(CSE) were appropriate for their students and adhered to guidelines to respect the values of different religious groups'. And there has been no complaints against the programme, so far. So the MOE has done the necessary vetting and the parents are happy as they are not complaining. I presume that MOE must have consulted the various religious bodies or have religious representatives saying that the programme is acceptable. The latest is that some parents have started to complain about the CSE and MOE is starting an investigation. What is interesting is that though the content of the CSE is posted everywhere, no religious body is coming out to comment on its appropriateness. All adopting a politically correct stance. And a bishop has spoken to distance the church from the new Aware Exco. But where does the church stands on homosexuality? To stand at a distance on the ground that the new Exco is mainly a Christian group gatecrashing into a secular organisation is one thing. Taking a stand on homosexuality and sexual conduct is another. One wrong does not make the other wrong. It will be interesting to see the facts of the MOE investigation and the comments of the NCCS. They are going to be very embarrassing for sure.

5/01/2009

Understand the important issues at stake

My fear of the mindless and unthinking hoards descending onto the Aware EGM is beginning to crystallise. I have scanned through several of the blogs and read the comments of the pro and anti factions to the Aware episode and what came through is that the moral issues were ignored or escaped the interests of the commentators. The issue is now of a Christian group taking over aware in a high handed manner, and this is found offensive. I can only hope that these comments were actually posted by the activitists who have their own private agenda to push and not simply by innocent people taking sides without understanding what the real issues were. There is nothing wrong with a group of activists taking over an organisation within the rules of engagement as long as their intent is honourable. The new exco won the election fairly, or unfairly to some, but this is due to the complacency of the incumbents. No fault of the new exco. They played within the rules and this should not be an issue of contention. The ousted exco can always fight back in the next AGM in the same way, legitimately. By crying foul and bitching around on other issues only reflect badly on themselves. There is no justification whatsoever for the new Exco to resign from their posts. The second issue is that it was a Christian takeover. For those who are less favourable of the religious connotation or have misgivings of Christian groups, this may be offensive and unacceptable. If we are prepared to set this aside, taking the Christian background of the new exco as incidental, and look at what they are standing for, there is another picture to consider. The new exco is awared of their Christian background but has failed to distinguish this from the issues at stake. They should make it categorically clear that it is the issues, secular issues and not Christianity in question, and that they are not there to push a Chrisitian agenda or Christian values but simple human values that transcend all culures, race and religion. What are the issues? Sexual promiscuity and the promotion of certain sexual behaviours and preferences as being normal and healthy. interested parties must look at the content of the Aware CSE curriculum that was taught and adovocated to school children and ask themselves if these are values and behaviours that they are comfortable with, that this is where we should be heading. Some of the things that are taught as normal behaviours are homosexuality, pre marital sex, anal sex, virginity etc. We are a liberal society and many old practices and values relating to sexual conduct and relationship have changed with time. Many things that were forbidden in the past are no longer so. The question is how far are we willing to go as we walk down this path of moral misconduct? Do we want to encourage our children to change the values and all their thinkings and accept the new way of life? Or do we want them to still observe or retain some of these things, or be more discreet about them? To be a little conservative or to be totally liberal about such things is not an issue of absolute right and wrong. And there are preferences by different interest groups and individuals on how far they want to go. What is at stake is, as a society, how far do we want to promote sexual freedom, freedom to choose sexual partners of the same sex, as something normal and acceptable? These are the issues at stake, not how one group took over another group in an association or the colour and creed of the the group. What is important is the agenda and whether the new Exco is promoting their religious righteousness or just some common and universal values. I declare that I am not a Christian or practitioner of any faith. And I am just a normal healthy person.

The power of women

This catfight has hijacked every single issue that we have been discussing. Even the Swine Flu has to play second fiddle to the women and their agenda. See how powerful they are? And everyone, like it or not, interested or not, have been lambasted with this Aware fight. The govt said they did nott want to be involved, but they are involved with the comments of several ministers. The church too is involved indirectly when a Bishop has to come out to make a stand. While the issue is simmering and the pressure building, let's recollect what were the hot issues before this thing erupted. Oh, there was a series of write ups on all the great salary earners, all earning millions as employees. I was wondering what was the agenda, to tell people that it is acceptable and admirable to earn that kind of money? Or to tell people that something is fundamentally wrong, that earning that kind of money as pay is simply atrocious? Or is it paving the ground for more people to ask for more and bigger pay packages? Or is it to say that we are still earning peanuts compare to those big earners in Wall Streets? What is the moral behind the high pay stories? What else were hot? The high HDB prices priced according to the market demand. Now that the private housing prices are tumbling, are we seeing any sign of HDB lowering their prices? No. HDB is not price takers or price followers. HDB is the real market price maker. It determines the prices of public and private housing for the masses, at least 80% of flat owners. HDB is the one that determines the price of public flats and the lower level private flats. All the crap talks about HDB pricing its flats according to the market and private sector is all bull. It is time for HDB to return to its past policies of building affordable flats for the people. Affordable should be defined using the premises of the past, not the current premises when one needs two pay packets and a life time to pay up the mortgages, and for smaller flats. The people shall not be made to pay for a small little space in the air with a big chunk of their income. This is not quality living. In fact the quality of life is declining in terms of space for the family for the money they can buy. The money can be better spent in other areas. Will we see a change in the policies for public housing? Will the people make their feelings on this issue felt in the next General Election?