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’
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′
Several things in the Population White Paper annoy me. Many of them are in the form of unexamined assumptions. The purpose of this article is to take a closer look at one of them.
I feel it is important to take the White Paper apart element by element. As it is, the outrage we see in social media is over the top-line figure of 6.9 million on this island by 2030. However, unless we pick apart the assumptions that the White paper uses, we can’t analytically say what’s so flawed about the 6.9 figure; we can only say we don’t want it.
The element I wish to examine in this essay is the old-age dependency ratio. Continue reading ‘Population: Elemental considerations 1′
All projections into the future depend on assumptions. The same is true of the Population White Paper just released. It is one that has provoked a huge outcry with its estimate that Singapore will have as many as 6.9 million on this island by 2030, just 17 years away.
However, among the many assumptions used, one stood out to my eyes. It is there in the executive summary, speaking of getting “3% to 5% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth on average” between now and 2020, and 2% to 3% thereafter. Strictly speaking, these were not assumptions. They were arbitrarily laid down targets, but once laid down, they effectively determined the result — which is that population has to rise to as many as 6.9 million. Continue reading ‘Population White Paper should be about children, not about GDP’
Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong wasn’t given his moniker ‘kayu’ for nothing. ‘Kayu’ is Malay for ‘wood’. Despite decades in public life, he is still very wooden when it comes to public speaking.
So, when he was ambushed by Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church, making a demand to keep Section 377A of the Penal Code, all Goh could gurgle out was “You stand by your belief, and you’ll be fine.” Perhaps he meant to say you’re entitled to your beliefs, but in typical Goh clumsiness, he ended up saying something that sounded like endorsement. Continue reading ‘Pastor ambushes Goh Chok Tong with demand to defend 377A’
In the bad old days, whenever a mainstream newspaper had any report about homosexuality in Singapore, reporters would be obliged by their editors to run to the nearest self-appointed guardians of ‘morality’ for some choice quotes about how terrible the ‘affliction’ was. Some such guardians could be relied on to say that all these ‘perverts’ should go for counselling and be cured. Those bad old days weren’t so long ago. I remember a case from May 2000 and from the ‘gay civil servants’ controversy of 2003. Continue reading ‘Singapore creeps towards more acceptance of gay people’
Published 22 December 2012
society and culture
The flight back from Bali was full. And full of Singaporeans, with many dragging behind them the biggest cabin bag they can get away with. Some had two, despite the one-bag rule. You’d think that this airline does not provide a checked luggage service.
As the last ten passengers boarded, a steward was heard telling another, “Cannot. No more space in overhead bins. We have to offload.”
And with that began a delay, as the last passengers were told to exit and check in their cabin bags.
A woman seated not far from me said to her companion, “Wah, lucky we boarded first. If not, like these people, have to check in our bags. Jialak.” Continue reading ‘Singaporeans stressed out by strangers’ smiles’
I dragged myself, Saturday morning, to a session of the Singapore Conversation, my thoughts swinging between This is stupid, I’ll be wasting my time and I should at least see what one is like.
It was a Stage 2 event, meaning that it was to build upon the conversations of the previous month or two. From those sessions, the organisers had distilled the sentiments expressed into the following themes, and an introductory paper was passed around stating them:
I would like to see a Singapore . . .
- With more kampong spirit
- With strong families
- Where life feels more fulfilling
- With a strong Singaporean core
- That is affordable
- With many definitions of success
- Where we can grow old with dignity
- Where we take better care of the less fortunate
- Where government does less and society does more Continue reading ‘The Conversation isn’t getting very far’
I needed a new pair of shoes; the old pair didn’t survive Bali.
The sales assistant at Famous Brands saw me take an interest in a sample shoe on the shelf. I was flexing it to check its suppleness, scrutinising its sole, but still a little doubtful about the colour. She said, in Chinese, “It’s a good brand.”
“Why are you speaking Chinese to me?” I asked. “Would you speak English to me please?”
“Yes,” she replied (in English), followed two seconds later with another sentence in Chinese extolling the virtues of the shoe. Continue reading ‘Shoes and the public’
“Controversial — that word has been used a lot,” says Kenneth Teng of his friends’ and peers’ somewhat nervous response to news that sexuality would be the theme for this year’s Perspectives Film Festival.
“Another term used was ‘sensitive topic’,” he recalled. Clearly, it is a subject that Singaporeans are uncomfortable with.
It was especially interesting to hear of these responses from Kenneth and Sophial Foo, joint Festival Directors, because both are still students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The cohort they are referring to are people roughly their age; young people whose internet-rich environment is filled with tremendous sexual diversity, or so one might have thought. Continue reading ‘Perspectives Film Festival hopes to spark a better discussion of sexuality’