Archive for the 'politics and government' Category

The sickening sound of sucking up

Close-up of a billboard in Bukit Batok

Close-up of a billboard in Bukit Batok

Sometimes timber houses can look very solid from the outside, but a sharp eye may spot signs of rot in the wood. The excessive adulation of Lee Kuan Yew, on the first anniversary of his death, may be a sign of decay in the state apparatus.

Throughout last week, when social media collectively vomited in disgust at what looked like state-organised worship, I tried to check myself. Maybe it’s only the people active on social media who are feeling disgusted, I suggested to myself. Maybe there are indeed huge numbers of Singaporeans who think it entirely appropriate to prostrate themselves, light joss-sticks, perhaps even ululate in the streets (if they knew how), to mark the anniversary. Continue reading ‘The sickening sound of sucking up’

Signs of yes-men

pic_201603_16It struck many people as mindless: the notice banning the playing of chess in common areas of public housing at Block 11 Haig Road. How could playing chess in public areas be such a nuisance that it merits a heavy-handed ban? In any case, isn’t the sight of retirees playing chess in void decks a common sight all over Singapore? If they have never posed any problem, why now? Continue reading ‘Signs of yes-men’

State ancestor worship to be enforced

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The above is not a likeness of Lee Kwan Eeww.

 

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Here’s a thought experiment:

Say there is a Lee family in Malaysia which greatly admires this personage whose name Thou shalt not take in vain. They name their newborn child after the august personage. But the child grows up to be rather wayward, and one day he comes into Singapore and commits a grisly murder. How, I wonder, would the ever-respectful Straits Times report about the crime when that name, by law, must at each uttering be “accorded dignity and respect”?

P.S. regarding the proposal to erect a Founders’ Memorial somewhere downtown, I think it is a great idea. The day we get to celebrate liberty and true democracy, we will have something to topple, kick and demolish.

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White is a superior colour, all the rest is dirt

pic_201603_07Most of the comments I see on blogs and social media about the sudden resignation of PAP member of parliament David Ong have a tinge of schadenfreude. “Karma’s a bitch” is a popular phrase. It points out how the People’s Action Party’s 2012 hounding of the Workers’ Party for its then-MP Yaw Shin Leong’s extra-marital affair has boomeranged on themselves, not once but twice. In 2013, the PAP’s Michael Palmer fell from grace for the same reason, and now it is the turn of their MP for Bukit Batok, David Ong. Continue reading ‘White is a superior colour, all the rest is dirt’

Tesla: new technologies need new ways of thinking

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My mind wanders a lot. There have been idle moments when, presented with a slice of birthday cake on a plastic or paper plate, I have wondered about the environmental-friendliness of the plate. Reading about Joe Nguyen’s travails in getting his Tesla model S licensed in Singapore, I started to wonder about cake on disposable plate again.  Continue reading ‘Tesla: new technologies need new ways of thinking’

Benjamin Lim suicide: of video and subjudice

pic_201603_02In his statement to Parliament on the 26 January 2016 death by apparent suicide of Benjamin Lim, law minister K Shanmugam referred extensively to video evidence when he presented what he called the facts. He said that closed-circuit television (CCTV) had captured the teenager making a detour to another block in the neighbourhood when coming home from school, and following a girl into a lift. Then he mentioned that CCTV within the lift provided evidence “showing what happened” without elaborating what exactly it showed. Continue reading ‘Benjamin Lim suicide: of video and subjudice’

Benjamin Lim suicide: shadow puppetry begins

Whenever a politician goes on the attack, saying others have been trafficking in “falsehoods”, one has to be alert to the possibility that amidst the smoke and thunder, some more important questions are being avoided. This appears to be the case when the law minister K Shanmugam finally addressed the Benjamin Lim case.

The apparent suicide of 14-year-old Benjamin, hours after being hauled to a police station on 26 January 2016 and interrogated for three-and-a-half hours without lawyer or even parent present is, in itself, troubling enough. That it also shines a light on the lack of rights even if the accused were an adult is why this case is doubly significant. Continue reading ‘Benjamin Lim suicide: shadow puppetry begins’

Holy murder of freedom of expression

When Manny Pacquiao, reversing his apology, approvingly cited the Old Testament’s sanction for the killing of gay people, there followed considerable condemnation. But nowhere did I see anyone calling for him to be prosecuted or censored by the state, either for hate speech or for inciting murder.

When the Catholic Church voiced its discomfort with a performance by Madonna, the organisers quickly removed a song segment from the programme, no doubt with state censors leaning on them. Continue reading ‘Holy murder of freedom of expression’

Racialising the presidential race

Handy words for skin tones from joshroby.com

Handy words for skin tones from joshroby.com

This also sickens me: the use of the race bogeyman to justify changing the rules for electing a president. In its press release, 10 February 2016, the Prime Minister’s Office said the Constitutional Commission should, among other directives, make recommendations relating to “ensuring that minorities have the chance to be periodically elected to Presidential office.”

In Singapore’s political speak “minorities” always means racial minorities. It doesn’t mean religious, sexual, economic — or any other kind — of minorities. Even when it comes to racial minorities, this is largely seen through the grating that slices the picture into four politically-constructed races: “Chinese, Malay, Indian, Other” (CMIO).

I will explain here why this justification for complex political rules should be rejected. It is no more than a (deceptive) sweetener to help the bitter pill of further entrenching themselves in power go down better. Continue reading ‘Racialising the presidential race’

PAP control of the presidency: Singapore will pay the price

The dance has commenced. A Constitutional Commission has been set up to propose changes to the elected presidency. The exercise is an entirely transparent figleaf that does nothing to hide the vulgarity of the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) determination to monopolise power at any price.

Tan Cheng Bock speaking at Nomination Day 2011

Tan Cheng Bock speaking at Nomination Day 2011

Everybody knows what the commission is expected to deliver: a means to stop Tan Cheng Bock from winning the next presidential election. This former PAP stalwart, now rather more independent-minded, came within a whisker of winning in 2011. His 34.85 percent of the vote was less than half a percentage point away from the government’s chosen candidate Tony Tan (35.20 percent). Continue reading ‘PAP control of the presidency: Singapore will pay the price’



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