Few things annoy me as much as when our nation-building press gets carried away. Today’s front page of the Straits Times has a headline “Singapore posts surprise Q1 growth”, leading a story that speaks — as breathlessly as a teenage groupie — of “good news”.
It quotes unnamed economists saying that “the numbers point to the resilience of the Singapore economy”.
Then it gives the Star Award to the financial services sector, reporting — wrongly — that it grew “about 51 per cent over the previous quarter”, before discussing other sectors such as construction and manufacturing. Of the latter, it reported that it “contracted 4.7 per cent over the year.” Wrong again. It actually contracted by 10.4 percent when measured at current prices, and contracted 6.8 percent when measured in constant 2005 dollars. These are Greek-style plunges. Continue reading ‘Oh joy, our economy’s bubbling again, says our nation-building press’
The headline on the front page of the Straits Times (14 May 2013) said “Khaw: Town councils political by nature”.
It explains nothing.
A country’s government is also political by nature. It doesn’t mean that the government can sell the Finance Ministry’s tax-collection software to a party-owned vehicle.
That is the chief issue which the National Development Ministry’s review report on town councils and the debate in parliament (13 May 2013) failed to address.
The controversy dates to December 2012 when I highlighted the fact that town councils run by the People’s Action Party (PAP) sold the intellectual property rights to their management software to Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM), a company whose beneficial owner is none other than the PAP. Continue reading ‘Town council software review and minister in parliament provide no answer’
Wednesday, 6 March 2013, was the day Tan Eng Hong’s challenge to the constitutionality of Section 377A was heard in closed court. Section 377A of the Penal Code is the law that criminalises “gross indecency” between two men.
This follows quite soon after the court date for another challenge to the same law, mounted by Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee and reported in First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court.
In the Tan Eng Hong case, there are pages and pages of arguments, but my sense, on reading them, is that the issue is being distilled to a few crucial points. And these crucial points are not specific to the “gay issue”, but will prove important to any future constitutional challenge that is based on Article 12 (the equality provision) of our constitution. Continue reading ‘Second of two 377A challenges may have to wait a long time for a decision’
If you have time for just one chapter, read Chapter 3 on the Vandalism Act. You will not see Singapore law the same way again.
Most of us are happy that Singapore is a relatively graffiti-free city, but as law academic Jothie Rajah demonstrates through her unearthing of the parliamentary speeches surrounding the bill in 1966, the intention of this law was completely different. It was a bulldozer of a law designed to destroy an opposition party. Through this law, ‘vandalism’ was made a cipher for opposition politics (page 74) and the aim of the law was to extinguish the Barisan Sosialis’ messaging to the people. Caning was its chief instrument. Continue reading ‘Book: Authoritarian Rule of Law, by Jothie Rajah’
I see that many people on social media have pointed out the large discrepancies in reports of crowd size at yesterday’s protest against the Population White Paper. Variations in estimates always accompany any outdoor event unless it’s a ticketed one.
My earlier article quoted the organisers’ figure of 4,000 to 5,000, a figure they announced at least twice during the rally itself. My own calculations — which I completed only after publishing the earlier article indicate that 3,000 to 4,000 may be more accurate. Continue reading ‘Crowd numbers at population protest’
The protest held on Saturday, 16 February 2013, against the government’s 6.9 million population White Paper saw the second largest crowd ever at Hong Lim Park. Organisers estimated it to be 4,000 to 5,000, which puts it second only to Pink Dot 2012. Walking around and observing the density of the crowd myself, I more or less agree with the estimate. More might have come if not for the drizzly weather.
With that kind of crowd size, there will be plenty of reports on social media, but nonetheless, I don’t think anyone else is going to make the observation I made: the language of the rally explains the rally.
What do I mean by that? Continue reading ‘Five thousand gather to protest population White Paper’
The first of two cases challenging the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code was heard today in the High Court. Referred to here as Chee and Lim versus Attorney-General, the plaintiffs were Kenneth Chee Mun-leon and Lim Meng Suan. They were represented by Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi.
The court was not open to the public; it is not known who applied for the court to be closed. I only know that the plaintiffs did not.
I have not yet seen transcripts of the oral arguments, but can only rely on the written submissions. However, oral arguments tend to follow written submissions closely. The longish article below outlines the key arguments deployed. Continue reading ‘First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court’
Published 11 February 2013
politics and government
Should a non-People’s Action Party government take over, they are going to have a lot of problems with the ministries — this seems to be a common view expressed by many whenever I pose the question of transition.
The belief that the higher levels of the civil service have been thoroughly politicised is widespread. My friends speak of obstruction and covert undermining. “They won’t be able to trust the top two, three or four layers of the administration,” says one.
The senior civil servants “will block new initiatives, making the new government ineffective, waiting for the return of the PAP,” says another. Continue reading ‘More needs to be done to prepare for electoral change’
Barely a week after Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong cited opposition in France to gay marriage as a reason not to do anything about Singapore’s anti-gay law, he was shown up for his piss-scared views by the government of President François Hollande. The French National Assembly approved a key part of Hollande’s Reform Bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The French showed that controversy is no excuse for inaction.
With that, the bottom fell out of Lee’s argument.
Continue reading ‘Lee Hsien Loong’s French bottom falls out’
In the executive summary of the Population White Paper and on page 32, it says:
By 2030, the number of Singaporeans in Professional, Managerial, Executive and Technical (PMET) jobs is expected to rise by nearly 50% to about 1.25 million compared to 850,000 today, while the number in non-PMET jobs is expected to fall by over 20% to 650,000 compared to 850,000 today. Overall, two-thirds of Singaporeans will hold PMET jobs in 2030, compared to about half today.
This is followed by a graphic that reinforces the above: Continue reading ‘Population: Elemental considerations 2′