Archive for the 'politics and government' Category

Asean single market and the free movement of skilled labour

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In a recent blogpost, Kenneth Jeyaretnam highlighted the imminent implementation of the Asean Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons (MNP). He wrote:

While permanent rights to work in other member countries are excluded the fact that free movement is extended to Contractual Service Suppliers and Intra-Corporate Transferees means that the bar to stop businesses bringing in cheaper PMETs from other ASEAN countries is set very low.

The main text of this Agreement is not hard to find from the Asean website (but a key annex is missing). In its preamble, it gives a nod to “the mandate of the Asean Economic Community Blueprint” dating from 20 November 2007 wherein the “free flow of skilled labour is one of the core elements of an Asean single market and production base.” Continue reading ‘Asean single market and the free movement of skilled labour’

Different because some people want us always to be the same

I have nothing new to say, because it is being said by — I am sure — thousands of people in Singapore. But I want to just add my voice to the chorus of boos.

Boo!

Gaystarnews reported that  Jolin Tsai’s song We’re All Different, Yet The Same has been banned from the mainstream airwaves. “Singapore’s censorship board, the Media Development Authority, recently issued a document to all TV and radio stations banning the broadcast of the song, which it said promoted gay marriage and therefore contravened Singaporean law,” Gaystarnews wrote in its story dated 22 May 2015. Continue reading ‘Different because some people want us always to be the same’

Great Scott! This is what first-past-the-post does

pic_201505_10“SNP landslide” screamed the headlines the morning after the UK general election, held on 7 May 2015. Indeed, the Scottish National Party took 56 out of 59 Scottish seats. In the previous general election (2010) the SNP won just 6 seats.

The biggest loser was Labour. They had 41 of the 59 seats in the outgoing Parliament; it crashed to just one seat, retaining only Edinburgh South (red in the map). The Lib-Dems also crashed from 11 seats to one, holding only Orkney and Shetland (orange in the map). The Conservatives neither gained nor lost, keeping their one seat from 2010: Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (blue). Continue reading ‘Great Scott! This is what first-past-the-post does’

Rohingya refugee crisis: sea camps and economic sanctions needed

Screen grab from BBC video and story of 17 May 2015

Screen grab from BBC video and story of 17 May 2015

Unless Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have a change of mind, over the next few days as many as 8,000 people, adrift on boats in the Andaman Sea, will die. They are a mix of Rohingyas from Burma fleeing persecution and economic migrants from Bangladesh. They’ve been put on boats by human traffickers, but when Thailand started cracking down  — after discovering mass graves in Songkhla province — the traffickers have left the people en route on the water to fend for themselves.

There is no easy solution to refugee crises. But what is stopping Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia from doing the humanitarian thing — saving those on the high seas — is that governments seem unable to imagine even hard ones. I suspect they see no comprehensive solution that they can implement, and in the absence of that they are loath to encourage even more to come across the water by being kind to those who are now in peril. Continue reading ‘Rohingya refugee crisis: sea camps and economic sanctions needed’

Behind the brat looms an oppressor still

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It’s a terrible pity that Amos Yee’s thoughtless, groundless and hurtful accusation against Vincent Law has taken centre-stage. Vincent had extended a magnanimous gesture of support when Amos needed a bailor. For the boy to make false accusations against him is completely inexcusable.

It’s a terrible pity because it distracts us from examining the political implications of the state laying charges against Amos in the first place. However, even though he has soiled whatever sympathy he deserved (from being a victim of the government’s panicked rush to slay him), we should still be able to put it aside and focus on what happened at the beginning.  Continue reading ‘Behind the brat looms an oppressor still’

In the real Singapore, MDA is the greater evil

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The 3 May 2015 statement by the Media Development Authority (MDA) regarding the website http://www.therealsingapore.com (“TRS”) liberally uses words like “fabricated”, “false” and “deceiving readers” without providing any evidence what these instances were. It also accused the editors of “doctoring articles”. I’m not sure what this means. In fact, I am very concerned that any kind of editing could be cast as “doctoring” if the MDA so wishes.  Continue reading ‘In the real Singapore, MDA is the greater evil’

The reporters who wouldn’t let me ignore the Funeral

Enough time has passed since the Funeral for me to write about the whirlwind of media enquiries during that period. Virtually all the enquiries came from Western media, though a Hong Kong newspaper was an exception.

The initial thrust of questions posed to me was somewhat dismaying. Largely, they took this form: Now that Lee Kuan Yew is dead, what are the prospects of liberalisation in Singapore? It was dismaying because it revealed a tendency to see Singapore politics through just one personality. No doubt he was a dominant personality in the 1970s and 1980s, but he had gradually receded, and after the rebuff by Aljunied voters in the 2011 election – when despite his threats, they voted out the People’s Action Party candidates – he seemed to have gone into a sour sulk. Continue reading ‘The reporters who wouldn’t let me ignore the Funeral’

A second republic

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Right up to the last moment, I wasn’t sure if I should use the preamble I had prepared. The point I wanted to make in the preamble was that I believed Singaporeans were going to be instinctively resistant to the idea of constitutional redrafting. Our aversion to taking risks, our long indoctrination in the idea that political experimentation would be extremely dangerous for a small, vulnerable city-state with no natural resources or strategic depth to rely on (yes, a habit of mind formulated by the ruling People’s Action Party, but today espoused by many as almost biblical truth), would likely mean that the idea I was about to float would be dismissed as a foolish, hazardous pipe-dream. Continue reading ‘A second republic’

Haram to speak of ham

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In a rare smackdown of a reader, the Straits Times dismissed a reader’s demand (link) that it tailor its editorial content to suit his sensibilities. The incident flashed across social media for a day or two, with approving comments, then disappeared.

This is what the reader, Idris, wrote:

I think it’s worthy to note that there are many Muslims who are readers of The Sunday Times. I was quite disturbed by the fact that the paper’s edition on Oct 5 which falls on Hari Raya Haji featured a distasteful article in the Sunday Life! section (“Cheat Sheet: Ham”). The Sunday Life! food critics could have been more sensitive to the events that unfolded for some Muslims on this religiously auspicious occasion such as the sacrifice of cows or sheep. They could have chosen a food-related theme and perhaps discussed lamb cuts. At the very least, avoid discussing non-halal food (food that Islam sanctions against consumption such as ham). Local journalists should practise more sensitivity and respect local cultures, at least for the most important races in Singapore.

Continue reading ‘Haram to speak of ham’

In our circus, few understand what ‘equal protection of the law’ means

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Andrew Loh posted a ‘scratch head’ article recently about the contradiction between what then-Minister of State Halimah Yaacob said in 2011 at a CEDAW conference in New York and the Court of Appeal affirming Section 377A to be constitutional. In A difference of opinion between the gov’t and the Court of Appeal?, he quoted Halimah as telling delegates at that UN conference that

The principle of equality of all persons before the law is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, regardless of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. All persons in Singapore are entitled to the equal protection of the law, and have equal access to basic resources such as education, housing and health care. Like heterosexuals, homosexuals are free to lead their lives and pursue their social activities.

But just a month ago, the Court of Appeal ruled differently. Continue reading ‘In our circus, few understand what ‘equal protection of the law’ means’


For an update of the case against me, please see AGC versus me, the 2013 round.

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