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’
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’
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’
Guest article by Poh Soo Kai, by invitation from Yawning Bread
Operation Cold Store was launched on 2 February 1963 by the British colonialists with the connivance of Lee Kuan Yew. Over a hundred left-wing activists, including myself, were arrested. In one fell swoop, the entire leadership of the Barisan Sosialis, the main opposition force in Singapore, was decimated. Continue reading ‘Democracy and human rights in deep freeze: the legacy of Operation Cold Store’
In Pastor ambushes Goh Chok Tong with demand to defend 377A, I said that Goh Chok Tong gave a wooden response. Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong seems determined to outdo Goh in maladroit replies.
At a forum on Monday, 28 January 2013, he was faced with a question on section 377A of the Penal Code, asked by Braema Mathi, the president of human rights group Maruah. Today newspaper reported the question, although it did not report her name. Continue reading ‘The prime minister needs to meet real people at concerts’
Published 27 January 2013
politics and government
It is true that by-elections put the governing party at a disadvantage. Voters are more likely to express their unhappiness without risk of toppling the government. Nevertheless, the 10.83% swing against the People’s Action Party in Punggol East (polling day: 26 January 2013) is one that must worry the PAP.
If we superimposed this swing on the results of the May 2011 general election, the PAP would lose its majority. It would find itself with only 42 seats in Parliament. Opposition parties would hold 45 seats. Continue reading ‘PAP suffers 10.83% swing in Punggol East by-election’
The Ministry of Manpower felt their integrity was impugned by “serious allegations” that are “entirely false” in my recent article “Injured worker awarded $69,000 in compensation, employer not paying”. They issued a media statement Friday, 18 January 2013. You can see the statement in full here.
My article raised three key issues: Continue reading ‘MOM confuses tough questions with “false allegations”’