Vanessa Ho speaking at Hong Lim Park, 24 August 2013
Guest essay by Vanessa Ho
Foreword by Yawning Bread: As in all LGBT communities around the world, there is a tension between those who would adopt the language and styles of the mainstream to advance the cause of gay equality, and those who argue that such “progress” is meaningless unless we also help protect those who are more disenfranchised and voiceless than us. This is often oversimplified into “mainstream gays versus radical gays” — a caricature that does the complex debate a disservice. Setting aside that oversimplification, I have always wanted to have a voice for radicalism on this site, and am pleased that Vanessa has taken up my offer.
Yet, as she concludes, what appears at first as radicalism may in fact be a lot more beneficial to a wider scope of people, including those who aren’t sexual minorities.
Singapore’s LGBT community should shift away from talk about marriage equality. I am not saying that we should *not* fight for marriage equality, but that there should be a much stronger emphasis on fighting for anti-discrimination legislation. Marriage equality is great for people who believe in monogamy, who believe in the significance of marriage, and who are in monogamous long term relationships. But this is not the case for everyone. Not to mention that some within our community may not have the good fortune to meet “Mr/Mrs Right” and thus do not get to enjoy the opportunity to get married. Continue reading ‘The case for anti-discrimination legislation — from an unexpected quarter’
The title of the film left my friends perplexed. “I have no idea what it’s about,” said one. “Is it about transgenders?” ventured another.
“I hope it’s not a celluloid version of a circus freak show,” hazarded a third, with extreme wariness. Continue reading ‘Cinema: Menstrual Man’
The comment that caught my eye was one by an Eric Lim: “This is not even half-hearted…” he wrote.
It was exactly my feeling as I read the news story preceding it in Today newspaper, 3 June 2013. Headlined “Wage recommendations have to gain traction: Labour MP“, it reported Member of Parliament Zainal Sapari (PAP, Pasir Ris-Punggol) saying that the National Wages Council’s (NWC) recommendation that wages for workers earning up to S$1,000 a month be raised by a minimum of S$60 needs to gain acceptance by employers before more can be done to help them.
The recommendation has to “gain traction with employers first before we even consider recommending a larger amount,” the newspaper reported him as saying, while revealing that last year’s recommendation of a S$50 built-in quantum saw only a 30 percent adoption rate among non-unionised companies. Continue reading ‘Town councils should write minimum wage into cleaning contracts’
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’
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′
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”’
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’
Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said the recent SMRT bus drivers’ strike was a “wake-up call” to employers, asking them to reflect on their own human resource and feedback systems.
Are there avenues for complaints and so on available? Are they working the way they are supposed to and so on?
— Today, 4 December 2012, SMRT drivers’ illegal strike a wake-up call for companies: Tan Chuan-Jin
He should start with his own ministry. Are there effective avenues for complaints and satisfactory resolution for workers at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)? Are they working the way they are supposed to? Continue reading ‘Who chases workers up cranes?’
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’
Published 1 December 2012
business and employment , media
I have three points to make about the industrial action undertaken by bus drivers of SMRT Corp earlier this week. 171 of them, all recruited from China, failed to show up for work last Monday; 88 were absent the following day (Source: Straits Times, 1 Dec 2012, SMRT has deep-seated issues: CEO).
My 3 points are:
1. There should be equal pay for equal work;
2. The government is shooting itself in its own foot by abandoning principle #1 above;
3. The government pretends there is a process for labour justice, but there isn’t and its absence sows the seed for future instability. Continue reading ‘As bus drivers strike, government messaging goes into overdrive.’