Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing ruled out having an official poverty line. He was speaking in reply to Non-constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong (Workers’ Party). Chan said it would not fully reflect the severity and complexity of issues faced by the poor, and may also lead to needy persons who happen to be above the line missing out on assistance. The full text of the question and written parliamentary reply is as follows: Continue reading ‘One quarter of Singapore households below poverty line’
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I love speaking with bright young people. Tonight, a student at Yale-NUS College asked me a question — one that I don’t think anybody else has ever asked me in all my long years. She asked my opinion whether every young person should do art. I’m not sure if she meant art as a subject in school or as a hobby. Doesn’t matter though.
Without hesitation I said Yes. Very much a Yes. Continue reading ‘Knowledge economy? Then value art’
I wonder when we’ll see the emergence of an anti-immigration political party. Most democracies with high levels of immigration and social stress have such beasts — usually referred to as “far-right” parties. It is undeniable that Singapore has high levels of immigration and social stress. The only thing that may forestall the emergence of such parties is that we are not a democracy. Any such party may be shut down and its leaders imprisoned (without trial) before it gets off the ground. Continue reading ‘A richer Singapore is one full of ghettoes populated with identity-hoppers’
I would hate to see the suit by Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) succeed, for its success would mean a major expansion of the meaning of “freedom of religion”. At the same time, I am quite sympathetic to the church’s decision to sack an employee — which started this whole controversy. Based on the limited information revealed publicly so far, I feel it should have the right to sack her, but not on the grounds claimed in its application for judicial review. This is why I think the suit should fail. Continue reading ‘Church sacks employee and sues government — on one ground right, on another ground wrong’
April 2013 in Natal saw South Africa’s first gay wedding conducted according to traditional Zulu rites. Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since December 2006.
I understand that the Attorney-General has alleged that this article is in contempt of court (scandalising the judiciary). My lawyers have advised that this article be taken down while the case is ongoing. See AGC versus me, the 2013 round.
Today newspaper’s story about the prosecution of the officer behind NParks’ Brompton folding bikes purchase merely hinted at the origins to the case. It said that there had been “questions over whether the agency got value for its purchases.” By comparison, the news story carried more words about National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan ordering an audit last year, and how the ministry “said it had uncovered some discrepancies suggesting the possibility of bias in the procurement”.
Reading it, I became concerned that the real history of the case was being erased in preference to a new version that gave more credit to Khaw’s alertness and intervention and to the ministry’s internal rigour, than was deserved. Continue reading ‘Brompton bikes, before the real story gets erased’
I discontinued my online subscription to the Straits Times earlier this year. The habit wasn’t easy to break. At first I found myself buying the print version about twice a week. Weekends, I often bought the Sunday Times — mostly for its Sudoku and two or three comic strips that I liked (most I didn’t). But lately, I’ve gone for perhaps two months without missing it.
Then a few weeks ago, I happened to leaf through a copy of the Sunday Times at a cafe and discovered that they had halved the Sunday comic strips. Sherman’s Lagoon was gone.
Well, that’s that, then.
It is early days yet, but it may be possible to glean a gradual, reluctant retreat from dogma on the part of the Singapore government. This pattern is hardly discernible across the board; we only see these small changes in what might be termed the ‘bread and butter’ issues.
Notable straight away is Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan’s pledge that about 2,500 two-room flats will be launched for sale this year, and another 5,000 in 2014. Khaw revealed that the launch of 519 two-room flats July 2013, which for the first time allowed purchases by singles — i.e. unmarried, divorced or widowed persons without a “family nucleus” (based on the Housing Development Board’s definition) — attracted applications from 8,800 interested singles. “We expect to see such huge oversubscription for many more [Build-to-Order] exercises,” he said. Continue reading ‘Penalising the voiceless is cheaper than doing the right thing’
Last Sunday, I was about to leave for a family dinner when the phone rang. It was a Bangladeshi worker on the line, someone I had worked with for the past two years over his employment problems. His present job is “OK”, he said. However, he wanted to bring a friend to meet me later the same evening.
“My friend, he have problem,” said Alamin.
I tried to shift the date and time, but it was near-impossible. Alamin works seven days a week and most evenings. He’s only free Saturday and Sunday evenings. Reluctantly, I agreed to see him and his friend at 9:30 pm, cutting short my family dinner. Continue reading ‘Human trafficking and shadow boxing’
It is dismaying that a former Chief Justice has such a narrow conception of the rule of law. It is not altogether surprising, since the formulation he hinted at by his threadbare reply has been observed to be practised here for a very long time, and it accounts in large part for the erosion of true rule of law. The institutions that are charged with delivering justice fail us because the concept has been debased.
Choo Zheng Xi drew my attention through a Facebook post to an article in Today newspaper:
Prof [Tommy] Koh cited some Singaporeans’ view of the [Internal Security Act] ISA — which allows for detention without trial of individuals whose acts threaten national security — as example that Singapore had “rule by law, rather than rule of law”.
Rejecting the contention, Mr Chan said that the standard definition of rule by law was that the government is subject to the law and accepts so.
– Today, 17 September 2013, Panellists discuss LKY’s use of defamation suits and ISA Continue reading ‘“Rule of law” in Singapore is so thin, it holds no more meaning’