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’
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’
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’
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’
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”’
Published 16 January 2013
politics and government
I think almost all who were sympathetic to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) heaved a huge sigh of relief when party leader Chee Soon Juan announced on 15 January 2013 — just the day before Nomination Day — that the party will sit out the Punggol East by-election. As it has turned out, there are enough other candidates, from the Reform Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance, to make this a four-cornered contest. The People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) had earlier announced their candidates and their intention to run.
But before I turn to the by-election campaigns by these four parties, I think it is important to assess how much repair work lies ahead for the SDP. In the short term, people aren’t going to forget this episode and it may hurt them, but its final decision, signifying flexibility and good sense, augurs well for its ability to learn and adjust. In my view, its medium-term prospects won’t be much damaged, and as I will argue in this article, it still has quite a credible route to parliament. Continue reading ‘SDP’s medium-term prospects not much damaged by fiasco’
Uzzal Kumar Mondal won his case at the ‘Labour Court’ and was awarded compensation totalling $69,838. A workplace accident left him virtually blind in his right eye. The compensation order was issued on 25 October 2012. His employer has stubbornly not paid despite being given a deadline of 21 days from the date of the court order. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is not lifting a finger to help him get what is due to him.
Quite the contrary. In the second week of January, an MOM officer called him back and interrogated him. For four hours, according to Uzzal, he was talked to constantly. The officer asked him all sorts of questions about the accident all over again, at one point saying something to the effect that if his details today did not coincide with his earlier statements, there would be “problems” for him.
What was meant by that?
Uzzal felt harassed throughout. He felt that the officer was intent on tripping him up, and fishing for ways to reverse the court order; perhaps even looking for a way to prosecute him for lying under oath. Continue reading ‘Injured worker awarded $69,000 in compensation, employer not paying’
Published 12 January 2013
politics and government
You can almost hear the boos. The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) proposal for “compromise” with the Workers’ Party over a joint candidate for the Punggol East by-election is so ridiculous, some may question whether they have a grasp of reality.
To quote the statement put up on SDP’s website (link):
In the spirit of compromise and cooperation, we would like to propose that our two parties run a joint campaign and field one candidate from the SDP. If victorious, the SDP candidate will enter Parliament and the WP will run the Punggol East Town Council.
– Press statement by SDP, 11 January 2013
Immediately, they got little else but online flak. Many characterised this idea as one where SDP will get the glory in parliament and WP do all the grunt work. Continue reading ‘SDP trips itself up even before Punggol East starting gun’
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’