Archive for the 'politics and government' Category

Butter in the balance


Even as signs of an election were building up in Singapore over the last few months, an incomparably absorbing story was unfolding to our north in Malaysia. However, the scandal at the sovereign wealth fund One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) speaks to our election too. It shows how the lack of sufficient checks and balances is a bread-and-butter issue. Continue reading ‘Butter in the balance’

Rich but feeling empty, exhausted and alienated


Wealth does not buy happiness. The state of Singapore society today is perhaps proof of this adage.

A newly-released joint study by Gallup and Healthways is a wake-up call to anyone who still thinks that prioritising economic growth is the master key to happiness. Especially coming, as it does in Singapore’s case, with a widening income gap and a shrinking space for self-actualisation (rights and freedoms) such prioritisation only increases tension, stress and conflict. Quality of life diminishes.

Out of 145 countries surveyed, Singapore ranked a miserable 97th. Continue reading ‘Rich but feeling empty, exhausted and alienated’

US Supreme Court demonstrates the vitality of America, shows up the weak DNA of Singapore


As news spread of the momentous decision by the US Supreme Court, ruling that marriage equality is a constitutional right, all over social media my friends made an unflattering comparison between the US and Singapore. I think it was Kirsten Han who pointed out that just weeks ago, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong displayed his total lack of awareness about a fast-developing court case by relying on the argument that gay marriage in America was a patchwork of Stop and Go, “state by state”. Continue reading ‘US Supreme Court demonstrates the vitality of America, shows up the weak DNA of Singapore’

Saint Lee

They are wrong. The government is not considering a lèse majesté law. The Asian Correspondent used this term in its headline of 26 May 2015  for Carlton Tan’s opinion piece (A lèse majesté law for Singapore’s king, long live Lee Kuan Yew); The Online Citizen used it too in Tan Wah Piow’s piece of 28 May 2015 (Lèse majesté Singapore-style – the ultimate betrayal of the Singapore constitution). Continue reading ‘Saint Lee’

Asean single market and the free movement of skilled labour


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.


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


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


The 3 May 2015 statement by the Media Development Authority (MDA) regarding the website (“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’

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




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