28 Feb 2005

You will now be creative!

The quotations below are from an article in the Telegraph's art section from London. It refers to the Singapore Arts invasion of Britain, which has been widely advertised and receiving favourable reviews. Singapore Dance Theatre is singled out for notable praise as well as a few other acts. I have only praise for the Singapore Dance Theatre which I have seen perform on numerous occassions after having been reluctantly dragged along to a performance.

The rest of the article places the cultural projects that are currently taking place in the wider context of altering Singapore's image and hopefully resulting in more tourists and ex-pat businesses.

Art for arts sake?

(Filed: 26/02/2005)

Singapore has pumped billions into new cultural projects - but can art be made in a test tube? By Peter Culshaw
Could you name a famous Singapore artist or musician? Neither could I, until I spent a few days in the city state recently. Despite a push for the arts that began a decade ago, it is still seen as a country that has had great economic success, but is rather dull and authoritarian. This is the place that famously banned chewing gum, where it is illegal to be gay, where freedom of expression is limited and there is strict censorship. Good for shopping, but not promising as a new global centre of the arts. The writer William Gibson called it "Disneyland with the death penalty".

Eminently exportable: Singapore Dance Theatre

Eminently exportable: Singapore Dance Theatre

There are several reasons for all this activity in the arts. One is that Singapore's dull image was bad for tourism and for ex-pat businesses choosing where to base themselves. More significantly, an economy that was less dependent on manufacturing and more on information and software had to encourage innovation and creativity. However, there is a sense in Singapore of the development being a top-down phenomenon. One has the impression of officials giving directives: "You will now be creative! The country needs it!"

It was hard to gauge from a brief visit how repressive the country really is. Although homosexuality is illegal, there have been many plays with gay themes, and there are a lot of gay bars. Few plays have actually been banned, although writing that could inflame racial tension is seen as especially sensitive. But there does seem to be a lot of self-censorship going on. Several times when we visited arts groups, artists looked anxiously at the omnipresent representative of the National Arts Council if awkward subjects were raised. It reminded me of visiting Cuba in the '80s on an official visit when there was a Communist Party member with journalists at all times.

As the poet DJ Enright put it when he was a lecturer in Singapore, "Art does not begin in a test tube." Singapore may have the energy and resources to achieve its ambition to become a global arts centre, but there remains a sense if not exactly of fear, then of terminal uptightness.

Still, there were fascinating and strange collisions of music to be heard in nightclubs. And moments when I felt a real flash of the future, of what could emerge from this Blade Runner-ish fusion of technology and ancient culture. The highlight was an art installation, Andy Forever, which featured the Hong Kong action actor Andy Leow, showing death scenes from 120 of his films. The result was an evocative, poetic meditation on modern media and mortality. Just imagine what they might come up with now they can chew gum…

Singapore Season, at various venues until April 5.


25 Feb 2005

Remember Nguyen Tuong Van?

Nguyen Tuong Van faces the death penalty

I just stumbled across your blog and I thought you maybe interested in the following article. Feel free to use it as you feel is appropriate.

Gary Meyerhoff


Remember Nguyen Tuong Van?

By Gary Meyerhoff, 25th February 2005

Days to execution: Unknown

As far as I know, 24-year-old Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van is still in a cell at Singapore’s Changi Prison facing execution. He will be given less than 24 hours notice of his hanging; and we won’t be told until it is done. The Australian Government and our media are failing him miserably. After ten months on death row, Nguyen Tuong Van should be a household name.

I remember back when I was eleven years old. I was at a friend’s place and like most Australian homes the television was blaring constantly in the background. I vividly remember stopping to watch a report that Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers had been executed and I remember a horrible feeling as I tried to make sense of what had just happened.

Barlow and Chambers were hanged in Malaysia on July 07, 1986 for the alleged trafficking of 141.9 grams of heroin. Back then, I didn’t really know what heroin was, but I knew who Barlow and Chambers were.

The Australian media lapped up the Barlow and Chambers case, using it to sell more and more newspapers and to increase the ratings on their news and current affairs
programs. Australia’s press gallery went into a frenzy in an attempt to save the men.

For political reasons, this media pressure backfired. Rajendran Kuppusamy, the Malaysian hangman who performed the executions, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper in 1996 that the case was rushed through the Malaysian legal system.

"The Attorney-General wanted us to make it fast, he didn't want to delay the case," said Kuppusamy. "It was really fast because they were getting pressure from all over."

Facing an election, Malaysian President Dr Mahathir Mohamad was under immense pressure to show that he was the man prepared to stand-up against the West - against White people.

Once the executions had happened the Australian news barons dropped the story as quickly as the two young Australians had dropped through the trapdoor in Pudu Prison.

The journalists returned to their usual mundanereporting and the issue was dead. They might havefailed to prevent the executions, and possibly even contributed to the executions being rushed, but Australia’s press gallery had succeeded in imprinting the names Barlow and Chambers firmly in the Australian psyche.

Almost twenty years after the deaths of Barlow and Chambers, Nguyen Tuong Van, on his first trip overseas from Australia, was arrested at Singapore airport. Police alleged that Nguyen was in possession of 400g of heroin. A Singapore court sentenced him to death for this crime in March 2004.

In stark contrast to events in 1986, Nguyen Tuong Van has been virtually ignored by the Australian Government and the media. Michael Fay, the white American kid who damaged a car or two and was flogged by the Singapore Government with the rattan cane, received more attention from the Australian media than this young Aussie from Melbourne. Nguyen Tuong Van is definitely not a household name!

Why are the media ignoring Nguyen? Is it because they can’t pronounce his name or is the real reason a little more insidious than that? I mean, Schapelle Corby doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and she has been turned into a media celebrity, not to mention the millionaire Aussie yachtsman Chris Packer, recently released from an Indonesian jail after serving three months for failing to declare firearms.

I don’t want to take away from the seriousness of Schapelle’s situation. This young woman may also face the death penalty if she is found guilty of her alleged crime. Her trial has even been invaded by an Indonesian anti-drugs group demanding her execution.

With regards to media reporting though, there is obviously some sort of double standard happening.

Brian Chambers, Kevin Barlow, Schapelle Corby and Chris Packer all have one thing in common. They are all white Australians. Nguyen Tuong Van’s crime is that he is an Australian of Vietnamese origin. Australia’s predominantly white journalists (and our
white Prime Minister) have written him off as just another Viet boy dealing smack, just like they write off the residents of the Block in Redfern and Cabramatta in Sydney.

Like Singapore’s judiciary, they ignore Nguyen’s claims that he was only carrying the drugs in a desperate bid to pay off legal fees owed by his twin brother to a Sydney-based drugs syndicate. During a recent visit to Singapore, Australian Prime
Minister John Howard held a meeting with his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong where he put forward a half-hearted request for clemency. Mr Howard told the Melbourne Age; "I believe there's a very good case for clemency but people must understand that the laws of Singapore are well known and I think we'll leave it at
that." Responding to the Age reporters question on whether the execution of Nguyen would have an impact on bilateral relations between the two countries, Howard said: "Look, I think we have to keep a balance here." What he is saying is that Australia’s military relationship with Singapore is worth more to us economically than Nguyen Tuong Van. The Republic of Singapore Air Force has aircraft and personnel
permanently stationed at the Pearce air force base north of Perth and Singaporean fighter jets and naval vessels are regularly in and out of the Northern Australian city of Darwin. Australian military personnel provide ongoing training to Singapore’s
soldiers, sailors and airmen and Australian naval vessels are often in Singapore undergoing repairs that would cost ten times as much back home. Our military alliance and the subsequent boost to the Australian economy is not the only reason Howard is dragging his feet on this case. Singapore isn’t in the midst of an election and there doesn’t seem to be too much pressure from Singaporeans for Nguyen to be put to death. Sadly it looks like race is a factor in Howard’s laissez faire approach to Nguyen’s pending execution. Surely little Johnny wouldn’t let a white
boy hang so easily? If Nguyen was called Barry and he was from Vaucluse or Sydney’s North Shore, Howard would be doing everything in his power to stop the hanging. The Australian Prime Minister is acutely aware that the island nation has executed more than four hundred people since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving Singapore the dubious distinction of having the highest execution rate in the world relative to
population. If Nguyen hangs, Howard will have the dubious distinction of being the Prime Minister who sat by while a young Australian went to the gallows, just like he sat by while 353 asylum seekers drowned in the SievX disaster. Nguyen awaits the results of John Howard’s request for clemency. We can only hope and pray that 81-year-old Singaporean President, Sellapan Ramanathan Nathan, will find it in his heart to call off the execution. In the meantime, you might want to contact your localmedia and ask them one question; do they rememberNguyen Tuong Van?

As for Schapelle, we train Indonesia’s troops too. This could be a sticky one for the Australian PrimeMinister. Let’s just hope that she gets a fair trial and that some sanity prevails in Bali.

[End article]

Gary Meyerhoff is a freelance journalist and an active member of the Darwin-based drug law-reform group the Network Against Prohibition (http://www.napnt.org).

This article was published in the NAPNT email digeston the 25th of February 2005. If you would like toreceive the full NAP newsletter you can subscribe to the NAPNT yahoogroup at the following link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/napnt.

More resources on Nguyen Tuong Van:
A plea to Singapore President

Article on Barlow and Chambers

Singapore upholds death penalty for Australian

Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty

Wikipedia article on Singapore’s President Sellapan

Wikipedia article on Singapore

For more info on SievX seehttp://sievx.com/

This article on the NAP website (with some more media

24 Feb 2005

Poll Results

The name Singabloodypore is offensive.
Yes, strongly agree. 24.78%
Yes, I agree. 11.06%
Don't know. 2.65%
No, I disagree. 21.68%
No, Strongly disagree. 39.82%

Total votes : 226

So the majority voice wins with a significant lead.

Strict Censorship and Tame Press

Everythings FINE Here

The following article was rejected by ST Forums, TODAY and SPH.

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003 06:24:51 +0100 (BST)
Mellanie Hewlitt
To: news@newstoday.com.sg, stforum@sph.com.sg
Subject: Backman's got it Right - Strict Censorship and Tame Press

To: ST Forums
Singapore Press Holdings

Dear Sir

I refer to the letter from K Bhavani (Ms), Press Secretary to the Minister for
Information, Communications and the Arts in the 13 Oct 2003 issue of TODAY. Ms Bhavani stated (amongst other things) that:

"Singaporeans have access to 10 daily local newspapers, over 5,500 foreign publications and newspapers, seven free-to-air TV channels, numerous radio
channels and 37 subscription TV channels, including BBC World and CNN"

Ms Bhavani's letter and statements should be read with the following qualifications in mind;

1. STATE CONTROL OF THE MEDIA IN SINGAPORE IS SO COMPLETE that few dare challenge the system and there is no longer much need for the ruling party to arrest or harass journalists. Even foreign correspondents have learned to be cautious when reporting on Singapore, since the government has frequently hauled the international press into court to face lengthy and expensive libel suits.

2. The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) controls most local media, through its close ties with Singapore Press Holdings, whose newspaper monopoly ended only in 2000, and through state ownership of most broadcast media. Strict press licensing requirements make it impossible for independent newspapers to emerge, and journalists have been taught to think of themselves not as critics but as partners of the state in "nation-building."

3. Satellite television dishes are banned for all but a handful of users, and cable television is a state monopoly. While the Internet has been censored onlyhalf-heartedly, the government has been aggressive in promoting its own sites to disseminate information about state policies and procedures. "Alternative New Groups" like Singapore Review, The Optical etc are often victimised and subject to harassment and persecution under local laws.

4. In response to calls for more diverse media voices in the country, a handful of new free tabloid newspapers were launched (TODAY, STREATS, NEWPAPER to name a few). These publications, which look but do not read like free alternative newspapers in the United,States, were are controlled by corporations affiliated with the government. Singapore Press Holdings (in which Temasek Holdings retains a stake) owns and manages all the local newspapers circulated in Singapore (including the chinese and tamil editions).

5. In an apparent effort to create the illusion of free competition, Singapore
Press Holdings received permission to run TV and radio stations. This was hardly a risky move for the government, since the company's chief executive used to head the Singapore internal security agency, and its board chairman was an ex-cabinet minister and close confidant of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Meanwhile, the state-owned broadcasting giant Media Corporation of Singapore, was awarded a license to publish one of the free newspapers, Today. In August, The Straits Times, Singapore's leading daily, described this shuffling of a stacked deck as a "newspaper war."

6. Previously, public speaking without a license was banned everywhere in the country. In September, authorities allowed a Hyde Park-style Speaker's Corner to open in a local park. There seemed to be little public interest in the handful of eager speakers at the new venue, however. In fact, it is a revelation that it is still illegal to assemble in groups of more then 5 in apublic place without a permit.

7. Singapore is a country which has adoted the FORM of a written constitution, but has not applied the actual spirit of a the written constitution into daily practise in the course of state administration. Mere lip service is given to public policies which are meant to showcase to the world the existence of a free press/free speech social-political environment in Singapore.

8. Singapore also has the dubious honour of being on the black list of several free-speech/free press organisations like CPJ (Committee To Protect Journalists) as well as Amnesty International. Please feel free to visit their websites below.



9. Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of what many critics have called Singapore's "nanny state," remained the object of fawning praise in local media. In a volume of memoirs published in October, Lee argued that the authoritarian system he created, which closed independent newspapers and jailed some journalists after independence in 1959, was more responsive to the needs of his people than the flawed democracies in other Asian countries.

"I said I did not accept that a newspaper owner had the right to print whatever he liked," Lee wrote of a 1971 appearance at the International Press Institute's annual assembly in Helsinki. "Unlike Singapore's ministers, he and his journalists were not elected. My final words to the conference were: 'Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government.'"

In 2003, this unfortunate view continued to guide Singapore's media
policy. Strict censorship and a tame press continue to characterize the press freedom climate in the city-state, which promulgated regulations designed to keep a range of prohibited information from reaching its citizens by the Internet. Using the threat of costly lawsuits, harsh national security legislation, and decades of indoctrination, Singapore's ruling People's Action Party, which has been in power since independence in 1959, has fashioned a predictably bland media culture.

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., a private corporation with close ties to the government, controls all general-circulation newspapers. The government-linked Singapore International Media PTE Ltd. has a virtual monopoly on broadcasting. Satellite dishes are banned with few exceptions. The government has successfully prosecuted numerous domestic and foreign journalists in the past, and as a result of previous run-ins with the government, many foreign publications have their circulation strictly controlled by the government. Such is the case with The Asian Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and Asia Week, the three leading regional news publications.

The Internet regulations allow unhindered access for commercial users while preventing private users from having access to a wide range of sites. The Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) requires Internet service providers to block sites the government identifies as taboo because of their political or sexual content. The SBA also requires political and religious societies to register their Singapore-based websites. Singapore's government has set a goal of becoming a regional center for both on-line commerce and Internet-control technology. The government considers its Internet controls to be a success and an example to other nations in the region, but the tightly regulated environment for the press at all levels in Singapore is anathema to the promise of unhindered information flow promised by the Internet.

Perhaps you may care to shed further light on the above. My final word is that the government's stand on free press issues (which is echoed by your respective papers) is reflected by the fact that this letter will never see publication in any SPH paper in its original unedited form.

Yours faithfully

Mellanie Hewlitt
Singapore Review

23 Feb 2005

Feeling Paranoid Yet?

Big Brother

Couple the recently introduced 'infrastructure' outlined below with the following quote from Garry Rodan (1997):

A central feature of the Singapore strategy on Internet control is the attempt to bring this medium under the same tight regimen as other electronic and non-electronic media. Penalties are applied at various levels of information provision or newsgroup hosting. These combine with legislation, open to wide interpretation, outlawing "interference in domestic politics" (as in the case of international press) or content which "brings the government into hatred or contempt" (as in the internet). When the political will to obstruct certain information and views is coupled with such variables as an efficient and technically competent bureaucracy, an established regime of political intimidation and surveillance, and embedded corporatist structures facilitating cooperation between state officials and administrators across public and private sectors, you have a formidable mix.


SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is to spend $23 million over three years to battle online hackers and other forms of "cyber-terrorism" in one of the world's most connected countries, government officials said Tuesday.

Describing the infrastructure behind the Internet as a "nerve system" in Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said a new National Cyber-Threat Monitoring Center would maintain round-the-clock detection and analysis of computer virus threats.

"We cannot afford to treat the threats from cyber terrorists, cyber criminals and irresponsible hackers lightly," Tan said in a speech while unveiling an information-technology security "master plan" in the tech-savvy city-state.

"Infocomm security is as important in protecting Singapore as is physical security at our borders," added Tan, who is also Coordinating Minister for Security and Defense.

Singapore has one of the world's highest Internet penetration rates, with 50-60 percent of its 4.2 million people living in homes wired to the Internet.

The affluent, predominantly ethnic Chinese island has also steadily tightened security since the September 2001 attacks on the United States, from patrols of heavily armed police in busy shopping districts to tighter security at border points.

In 2003, Singapore passed strict legislation to allow monitoring of all computer activity and for police to take pre-emptive action to protect state computers from cyber attack.

Tan said the money would also be used to help businesses tighten security for online financial transactions while guiding them to work with the government in maintaining cyber security.

The Cyber-Threat Monitoring Center will link up with companies that provide anti-virus systems and governments running similar centers, including the United States and Australia. It is expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2006.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

22 Feb 2005

Singapore girls - a challenge to love

Yet again the finger of patriarchy points at the female...

Star, Malaysia
February 13, 2005

Insight Down South By Seah Chiang Nee

EDUCATED and financially independent, the new Singaporean woman is running into a wall of male traditions that is leaving some holes in their relationship, including marriage.
The trend had been building up over a couple of decades. In few other countries have women made larger strides in education and careers than in Singapore.

During the past few decades they have caught up with, and even overtaken, men in fields they had once dominated.

In university, women still outnumber men 55-45 with many moving strongly into subjects like media, mathematics, law and engineering, among others.

Recently girls won seven of the top 11 awards for A-level Physics, which had long been a boys’ domain.

Island-wide, women have moved into the highest ranks of the corporate world and commanded artillery units or police divisions, as well as trained jetfighter pilots. Ten women, aged 20-40, are planning to climb Mount Everest.

In short, the new female is able, confident and more than holding up half the heavens, but not getting equal success in their relationship with men.

This is running smack into a traditional male value of wanting to be seen wearing the pants, causing a growing “incompatibility”.

To continue reading...

More join unions in strike-free republic

Star, Malaysia
February 20, 2005

Insight Down South By Seah Chiang Nee

SOME 40 workers of a small company making industrial fans decided to form a trade union since it was, for the first time in years, turning in a small profit.
For the past few years, their firm was losing money or breaking even and their salaries had remained stagnant. Now that it was making a small profit, the workers wanted a pay rise.

When they raised the union idea, the management warned them to temper any demand for pay hikes because business conditions were still fragile.

“I advise them to stay their hand on this demand,” an executive later told me. He explained the company was considering moving the operation to Malaysia to reduce costs.

“I told them if their proposed union pushed it, the company would be forced to make the move earlier.”

To read on click the link below.
First seen at Singapore Window


I have seen this enneagram test on a number of sites, and having a few spare minutes thought I'd take the quick 36 question free test. Kinda freaky in terms of the healthy and I agree to a point with some of the average and unhealthy aspects. I am aware of my own weaknesses.

Give it a go yourself, it takes 5 minutes.

free enneagram test

21 Feb 2005

Education for the Youth

For a long time now in Singapore there has been a consistent call for the youth of Singapore to become less apathetic towards politics. The argument at times seems to misuse the terms 'civil' and 'civic' society. A civil society is one that grows out of autonomous groups organising themselves independently of the government and a civic society is one that is fostered and encouraged, facilitated by the government. I feel that The Police State buts this argument better than I can.

The point here to make is that the education that is being instructed here, is by no means intended to facilitate understanding of youth culture. Previously, youth groups that have been antagonistic to dominant national ideology have been rooted out (I understand that references are needed for such a claim, but I think we can safely assume youth punk rock groups are not seen as a "friend" of any government position). The education that the national press endorses is conformity to the national government, and for better or worse, thats not political apathy, thats political parochiliasm thats being fostered. The nurturance of a political conscience is not developed by simplying linking with a state ideology but to encourage independent thought and inquiry into social matters. There might even be a backlash as youths expect governmental consent before embarking on their own activities and this would only result, what seems more plausible, in engendering the expression of creative or political voices through a bueaucractic system of thought. This is hardly what any sensible person would call "empowerment".

the survey

Dear SG_Reviewers,

my name is Alex, I am a young Ph.D. candidate from Germany.

For more than two years I have been analysing the flow of news in Southeast Asia with focus on Singapore. I have already interviewed several highly reputated academics, politicians and professionals about the development of media in Singapore. But their perception must not necesarily represent the view of ordinary citizens. Therefore, I have set up a small survey.

What do you think about the development of the media in Singapore? Are you confident with today's media system in Singapore? What could be better?

Please participate at the survey and express your opinion:
Thank you very much for your kind support.

With best wishes,

P.S. A few weeks ago the Asia-Europe Journal published an article by me titled: "Should Singapore rejoin UNESCO?". Therein, I analyse why Singapore withdrew from the international organisation and has still not rejoined. You can find this article at:
(Acrobat Reader required).

Alexander Haentzschel
Ph.D. Candidate
Humboldt-University of Berlin
Carl-Herz-Ufer 23
10961 Berlin
Germany / Europe
Tel./Fax: +49-30-6940-1944

18 Feb 2005

Singapore and a Genuine Civil Society

For about 5 years now I have been reading the work of another ang moh living outside Singapore. Thought I should introduce my readers to him.

How dare he be interested in Singapore. The nerve of some people, I am sure you are suitably outraged.

Professor Garry Rodan

Embracing electronic media but suppressing civil society: authoritarian consolidation in Singapore

Professor Garry Rodan

Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, Australia

In contrast with some other parts of Southeast Asia, challenges to media controls in Singapore have been limited and ineffectual. Lately the government has been refining legislation to try and keep it that way. But this strategy is not principally based on the unrealistic objective of direct information control. Rather, preventing the emergence of organized social and political forces that could lead to a genuine civil society lies at the heart of the strategy. One of the factors that serves to reinforce the government's agenda here is the high degree of direct and indirect dependence on the state by Singaporeans for social and economic resources. This translates into vulnerability to political persecution and caution by social and ­political actors. Meanwhile, the promotion of Singapore as an 'infocommunication hub' has met with a positive response from global media organizations. New ­electronic media businesses appear just as capable of being reconciled with the authoritarian regime as more established media have proven to be.


17 Feb 2005

And This SingaBloodyPorean Has a Complaint

See, look and learn. Some people actually have nice things to say about Singabloodypore.
The article in question was received by me from Mellanie Hewitt of SgReview.

I have also previously posted articles here that are not of the Michael Moore variety. Read the following calling for the PAP to inject a little bit of Adam Smith into the lion city.

And This SingaBloodyPorean Has a Complaint ... brought to you today by the letter 'E'
The good Mr. Steven McDermott, puts up an impassioned voice which I just discovered mere moments ago, as a client screamed three quarter of his tonsils into my ear.

"These bloody blogs, they are ... they are ... crazy." said he, seemingly at loss for words.
Blogging myself, I too, for once was at a loss for words.

Client confidentiality binding, I shall now get to the point of this blog entry. Mr. McDermott here seems to think that Temasek, Singapore's state investment arm, has to be more transparent and fears that 'who's who in Singapore's incestous political circles and GLCs/TLCs' might be profiting from the state's coffers.

I see.

For the uninitiated, Temasek has controlling stakes in some of the best run companies in the world. They have taken the leap into an opportunity window with Microsoft and stayed steadfastly erect with their investments in Pfizer to call in huge profits on both.

The SSD (SingTel, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank) cluster represents the definition of world class management and writes new standards in the book of customer management, innovative strategies and a leader in value based management practice.

Heck, I wrote countless case studies on Singapore Airlines alone to persuade other carriers like Emirates and Royal Jordanian to invoke a RPK (revenue per kilometre) based sub compartmentalised yield management system based on different fare structures, so as not to fall prey to pricing battles. This approach is used to extremely good effect by Mr. Tony Fernandez of Air Asia, incidentally not the best friend of Singapore at the moment.

I am sure many consultants have used Singaporean companies as a yardstick when evaluating the deployment of various strategies within their engagements in this region, noting the cultural similarities.

Mr. McDermott, considering your article, I am inclined to look on with a tad envy at your complaints. You have brass ones between your legs, that I have to give you and as a tribute, you are the subject of my Sesame Street post, brought to you by the letter 'E'.

The defining word today would be 'Eerie', to describe what came over me as I read your post.

Why are we so afraid of the 'R' words?

First seen on NewSintercom
ST Forum
Feb 17, 2005
By Jamie Han Li Chou

AS SINGAPOREANS of all races and religions enjoy the Chinese New Year festivities, we are again reminded of the multiracial and multi-religious make-up of our society.

I have always taken for granted the many advantages of living in such a society, such as being exposed to different ideas and values, being more sensitised to the cultures of others, not to mention the many public holidays!

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's message during the recent Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum about not taking the stability we enjoy for granted thus came as a timely reminder for me.

Having looked at racial and religious conflicts in other countries, I have grown to appreciate our Government's enlightened policy of promoting racial and religious harmony through education, and encouraging dialogue between different religious and race-based communities.

However, this does not mean more cannot be done to promote unity in our society. One way to do so would be to allow people more freedom to express religious and racial views in public.

I have to admit that The Straits Times has opened up more in recent years, as can be seen by the increase in the number of articles about race and religion in Singapore. Still, the fact that it is the only major English newspaper in Singapore means that there is limited publishing space for people to air their views.

Some would argue that the reading public here is too small to support more than one major newspaper. This may be true. But we must also take into account the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, which gives the Government the authority to grant licences to publishing firms.

At present, the criteria for approval is not transparent. Applications can be rejected without the need to give explanations. The Government may also choose not to renew the licence the following year without any justification.

Any honest person would admit that the Act has a part to play in the dearth of newspapers in Singapore.

The Government justifies the Act on the grounds that it prevents people from using the press to raise sensitive racial and religious issues that may shatter the fragile unity of our society.

If we are to accept this justification, then we must also accept the two main implications that can be drawn from it.

First, that Singapore as a society has progressed so little since the chaotic days of the 1960s racial riots that we still need laws such as the above-mentioned one in order to maintain a veneer of unity.

Second, that our citizens are so immature and uncritical that they would readily lap up any racist or religious propaganda that surfaces should the Act be removed or revised.

If we are to accept these implications, then we have to acknowledge the immaturity of our society.

Before people label me as an arm-chair critic, let me propose a way in which we can have more press freedom without running the risk of encouraging racial and religious conflicts.

Instead of focusing on controlling who can or cannot publish newspapers, we can instead focus on making people responsible for what they say or publish in public. An example would be the laws already in place that allow people to sue those who slander them in public.

By doing so, only people with views that stand on strong foundations not based on racial or religious prejudices, but on the firm ground of reason, would air them in public. Fanatics and demagogues would not get away with irresponsible use of free speech in such a system.

A free press need not necessarily imply an irresponsible one.

As much as we would like to think otherwise, racism and religious differences exist in our society, just like in any other. To censure open discussion of such issues is like burying one's head in the sand and wishing that the problem would go away.

It would be a shame if Singaporeans do not make full use of the stability we are enjoying now to bring out such sensitive issues into the open. Do we really want to wait until times of crisis before tackling such issues?

The Government can help encourage such discussion by relaxing the publishing laws so that more avenues would be made available for people to discuss these and other important issues that affect our society.

Is there no right to offend?

Myanmar's gas riches entice Asian investors

The lack of an 'open' society in a few countries in South East Asia, merely reinforces the rhetoric of other more extreme regimes. Companies and governments continue to ignore calls for an end to suppression of freedom and go after the oil and natural resources. This is nothing new and by no means unique to anyone particular country or company.

A number of 'western' companies have started to bend and allign their actions with the wishes of their informed shareholders. Shareholders who are politically aware, and try to be politically responsible.

Does this mean that shareholders in South East Asia, are uninformed or lack political conviction? Or is there another interpretation? TO look at the wider debate go to the BBC link to Burma.

Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:52 PM ET

By Chen Aizhu of Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Politically and economically isolated for more than a decade, Myanmar is being thrown a lifeline by its Asian neighbours, which are jostling to spend billions of dollars to tap the country's energy resources.

Slightly smaller than the U.S. oil state Texas and bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, little explored Myanmar is estimated to hold 13-15 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, 7 percent of total proven reserves in Southeast Asia.

Aggressive state companies from China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, undaunted by U.S. and European sanctions, are looking to invest their big cash piles to develop Myanmar's gas fields and build pipelines and hydropower dams.

"Non-western majors are now able to take significant positions than they might have a decade or more ago as they become more professional and have more financial muscle," said Andrew Symmons, research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

The influx of Asian players picked up steam in 2004 and threatens to eclipse long-standing investments by a handful of Western companies, predominantly France's Total SA and U.S. independent Unocal Corp.

Few Western firms have the stomach to invest in the country formerly known as Burma, worried by government and shareholder pressure to steer clear of the military-ruled nation shunned for its human rights record and suppression of political opponents.

Asian firms have no such qualms.

"Myanmar is cocooned by the support of regional powers that actually protect it from the sanctions the U.S. wants to apply," Derek Tonkin, former British ambassador to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam told Reuters.

Oil and gas is a key source of revenue and one of the few growth areas for Myanmar's economy. Decades of poor policies and more recently Western sanctions have left the once wealthy former British colony far behind prospering neighbours such as Thailand.

Myanmar supplies a quarter of Thailand's gas consumption with exports worth roughly $1 billion, or about 12 percent of gross domestic product.

"Growth is likely to come from the oil and gas sector as the global demand for energy increases. Additional gas reserves were found early in the year (2004), raising prospects for exports and increased foreign direct investment," the Asian Development Bank said in its 2004 Asia Economic Monitor.

16 Feb 2005

Radio Free Nepal

I usually focus solely on Singapore but the following is important. And if you run a blog can you pass it on please.

King Gyandendra of Nepal has issued a ban on independent news broadcasts and has threatened to punish newspapers for reports that run counter to the official monarchist line. Given that any person in Nepal publishing reports critical of "the spirit of the royal proclamation" is subject to punishment and/or imprisonment, contributors to this blog will publish their reports from Nepal anonymously.

Please help tell the world about what has happened in Nepal. Do not forget us. We want our democracy back! If you have questions or would like to help spread the word e-mail us. For media please send questions via e-mail and we will do our best to get good answers for you.


Net Gains

Yet another article linked to via this site. Thought it was important as it shows the power of the internet in America atleast. A power yet to be fully harnessed in Singapore.

A top executive at CNN has been forced to resign as a result of pressure from campaigning bloggers. Has the new media now become more powerful than the old, asks Gary Younge

This is not a left- or rightwing phenomenon," wrote Abovitz yesterday. "The story is much, much bigger than Eason Jordan. This is John Lennon's Power to the People, but turbo-charged and amplified. The people want a voice, and now they really have it. Their own voice, unedited, and unfiltered. It is not pretty. The people are quite irritated, mad, and upset."

Where the internet was once regarded as providing a potential check on the mainstream media it has now in some cases, usurped it - being free from the restraints of editorial meetings, ethical codes, deadlines, schedules and production costs.In the words of one blogger:

"Mr Jordan; I'd like you to meet my friend the internet.

"Mr Internet this is Mr Jordan. I'll leave you to chat for a while. Have fun, and be careful. Internet remembers everything and he's a real blabbermouth."

To read the entire US focused article click here.

15 Feb 2005

The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited

The Media Enthralled

Book Review, by James Gomez

The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited is a review of how Lee Kuan Yew of the People’s Action Party (PAP) brought the press under total control. It is a rich and colourful account media of suppression that is not available in other studies of the media in Singapore.

Tuesday, 08 February 2005

by James Gomez

As a book it is useful as it provides a chronological account of the evolution of the press law and the political considerations that drove such changes. The reader can therefore understand why at present times, news papers from Malaysia are banned from circulating in Singapore, why foreign ownership is restricted, why the limit to the amount of shares local shareholders can have in local media organizations.

The reader is also given an insight into the use of ISA to detain journalists in the period between 70s and 80s. Often the use of the ISA is omitted or gleaned over by other studies when they discuss how the press in Singapore was brought under control. The use of other tactics, such as denying or terminating the working visas of foreign journalists, is also highlighted. This technique is still used to day.

We are also a given a glimpse into the inner workings of censorship within The Strait Times. Scattered in several parts of the book references are made to Peter Lim and his move from the Straits Times to the New Paper and eventually out of local journalism altogether. His case demonstrates that censorship of journalists in Singapore takes place by either moving “errant” journalist to sections where they do not write or out of the journalism industry altogether. We are also told of how in the 70s and 80s, especially, PAP ministers instructed local journalist what to write and even how to write their stories! Other snippets include the presence of media monitoring teams within various ministries.

The book is useful in that it gives an insight into the world of press advocacy organizations that took a critical view to how the free media in Singapore was under threat by Lee Kuan Yew. Although not in a structured way, we are provided glimpses of how international press organizations and advocacy groups were voicing their concerns about the increasing difficult media situation in Singapore at the height of suppression in the 70s and 80s. Organisations such Amnesty International and International Press Institute were among the principal advocates who before the time of the internet used cable as means of communication and coordination of their free media campaign.

The role of Article 19, a freedom of expression advocacy organization based in London, in commissioning this project is hence important. The book grew out of an initial request by Article 19 to Francis Seow to write an account of “the history, current laws and impact of Lee Kuan Yew’s increasing restrictions on freedom of expression in Singapore.” This example shows the importance of such institutions in supporting critical studies of the media. Such a similarly critical study has yet to emerge from the auspicious of Singapore tertiary institutions and funding.

It is also one of the first books to give a brief insight to the world of political party publications. There is a rare but short review of the publications of Barisan Sosialis and additional discussion of the Workers’ Party and Singapore Democratic Party publications. From the discussion we can know why the law was amended for political party publications requiring all committee members to jointly apply for license and to declare their assets. In doing, the entire committee can be held accountability what is published in the party newsletters.

Some important and detailed discussions include that of the consolidation of the Chinese Press in Singapore, the Singapore Herald saga and the strategies and amendments to legislation targeted specifically at the foreign media. In particular we are brought to understand why foreign publications were gazetted, visa of foreign journalists not renewed or denied altogether, placing limitations on their circulation, requiring a bond and the appointment of local legal agent to received legal summons.

The book is wide spanning and on occasion it tends to go off in a tangent. This feature not withstanding, the book includes a lot of information that attempts in its own way to give a more complete picture of the media scene in Singapore. Because Francis Seow was in some ways an insider within the Singapore elite he has the ability to give a perspective not usually available to outside commentators.

On occasions I have heard Singapore based media commentators say that The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited in not a “good” book. Perhaps the writing style may not be to the liking of the academic purists. But I doubt they would have the gumption to write a tell-it-all kind of book on the Singapore media, especially if they had access to information as an insider.

14 Feb 2005

Singaporeans seek chaste Valentine's Day

Below is an article from Reuters, which is clearly attacking all Singaporeans.[Sarcasm]Even though it clearly points the finger at, "Focus on Family', it is an insult to the nation as awhole.

Reuters should provide all the evidence they have that this is occurring.

In a country with the lowest sexually active title, surely the campaign is redundant. What Singapore needs are groups organising themselves and handing out free condoms, and wrist bands that proclaim that you are sexually active and 'standing-up' for Singapore could be a nice motto.

Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:55 AM GMT

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - As Valentine's Day stoked the embers of romance worldwide, a group of Singaporeans began a campaign urging couples to curb their ardour and abstain from sex.

A Christian group launched on Monday a week-long Abstinence Awareness Campaign on the island, which has one of Asia's lowest birth rates and has ranked for three straight years near the bottom of condom-maker Durex's survey of sexually active nations.

Nearly 200 volunteers from the Christian "Focus on The Family" group fanned out across the city-state, selling wristbands bearing the message "Worth Waiting For" and collecting pledges from teenagers to stay chaste until marriage.

"We hope that the street sales will raise awareness about abstaining from sexual acts and tell young people that they have what it takes to save themselves until they are married," said one organiser Joanna Koh-Hoe.

"We want to let them know that it is cool to save themselves for marriage," she said.

The campaign follows a rise in teenage abortions and an increase in HIV-AIDS infections among youths.

But some youth doubted the tactic will work even in a society as strait-laced as Singapore, whose government maintains strict censorship controls, including bans on magazines such as "Playboy" and where oral sex between men is a crime.

"I really doubt the effectiveness of this campaign," said 25-year-old Phillip Ng. "To have premarital sex or not is a lifestyle decision and wearing a band on your wrist for a day is not going to lead to a change in your mindset."

About 6,000 chastity bands have been sold at S$2 each and the proceeds will help fund the group's activities, such as a "No Apologies" workshop -- a four-hour course which urges youths between the ages of 13-20 to remain virgins.

Organisers said over 15,000 teenagers have attended the workshop and nearly 80 percent have signed a pledge not to have premarital sex.

12 Feb 2005

Democracy is not a tea party

If you haven't read it yet, read it now.

The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted is absurd. So too is the notion that people should have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted. A fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other’s positions. (But they don’t shoot.)Salman Rushdie

More GLC scams by Sinktel/Starhub

Mellanie Hewlitt
12 Feb 2005

Singapore Review

More GLC atrocities revealed. Both Singtel and Starhub remain government owned and government controlled entities. If there is any competition it is purely an illusion.

It is a fact that the technology for high-speed bandwidth has been around for decades. So the nice people at Starhub did not wake-up one morning and suddenly discover a way to increase bandwidth to 6.5mbps using existing connections. Both GLCs already had this capability decades back.

Instead of allowing consumers to have the full benefits of true high speed internet connectivity, both GLCs incurred added costs to place a tap on the connection to physically restrict bandwidth availability to consumers. The whole idea was to milk the end user. This collusion between both GLCs was worth the effort and costs as they could create segments in the market and basically sell the same product for a much higher price (at the expense of the end user of cause).

The crucial point here is that in a market where there are bona fide independently owned and runned [sic] Internet Service Providers competing with each other, this kind of collusion and exploitation would never have occured. It is only in the incestous world of Singapore's GLCs that scams like this can be co-ordinated between two government owned and controlled Internet Service Providers. To find out more about the incestous world of Singapore's GLCs see:

But the deception does not end there. What the Govt GLCs do not tell you is that you will only get the full benefits of increased bandwidth (of a 6.5 mbps line) if you are downloading data from another 6.5mbps user. Given the dismal content of local websites (which are subject to stringent local internet controls) over 90% of Singapore surfers rely heavily on overseas websites. And the majority of these overseas websites and servers do not have 6.5mbps bandwidth.

So if you are downloading a file from an overseas source that is using a 1.5mbps bandwidth, it does not matter if your own bandwidth is 6.5mbps as your download speed is restricted to the bandwidth of the source from which you are downloading your data.

Is it morally and ethically right for cash rich Government Linked Companies like Singtel and Starhub to exploit the customer in this fashion? Read on and find out more about the Singtel/Starhub scam.

You can view it in the context of the entire discussion by going to:

Speak up, Tharman tells youths

I first saw this article originally from The Straits Jacket, at Singaporerebel. Its put here for my own records as I have stopped visitng the Straits Jacket now that it requires us to sign in and all that other stuff.

Jan 27, 2005
Speak up, Tharman tells youths.
He says there is nothing to fear from pushing the boundaries

By Ho Ai Li

ASK not what you can or cannot do, but do something to make a difference instead.

That was the message from Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to students at a youth and media conference yesterday.

And that was what the minister, a former student activist, did himself.

Mr Tharman, who was once questioned by the Internal Security Department over his leftist views, said he was driven by the need to 'do something' about things he was dissatisfied with.

'And I did something about it, with friends, with groups of people, writing articles, selling them, sometimes surreptitiously,' he recalled.

One does not develop a conviction and commitment to a society without first questioning and pushing the boundaries, he said.

He welcomes restlessness in young people as it feeds idealism and helps society move forward.

Censorship was the key theme during a lively question-and-answer session at the event organised by film and media studies students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Students, taking up the theme of youth, media and political involvement, grilled Mr Tharman and the three other panellists about overstepping the out-of-bounds markers around sensitive issues.

Mr Tharman assured the more than 1,000 youths present that nothing will happen even if one breaches an OB marker. One simply learns to steel oneself and be more adroit.

Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang said that fears of repercussions should they say something the Government did not like were exaggerated and might stem from past incidents such as the Government's rebuttal of novelist Catherine Lim and opposition politicians.

Mr Tharman noted that Ms Lim is now more famous than ever and still speaks out with relish.

Nanyang Technological University's Associate Professor Ang Peng Hwa gave more encouragement, saying they can plead the ignorance of youth if any flak ensues.

In his address, Mr Tharman warned that social and political apathy among the young posed long-term risks to community cohesion.

Mr Han said the media had an important role in helping readers understand what was happening around them, especially now that Singapore as a nation was re-examining the way things have been done.

He noted that despite a slide in the percentage of youths who read newspapers in countries such as the United States, World Association of Newspapers figures showed that 92 per cent of young people here read them - more than anywhere else.

For MediaCorp group managing director Shaun Seow, the key to engaging youths lies in the packaging of political content.

He pointed to how wacky political websites and show business figures such as film-maker Michael Moore led the way in encouraging turnout among young voters during last year's US presidential elections.

11 Feb 2005

Singapore Men Jump on Metrosexual Express

(February 10, '05, 9:04 Albert Robinson)

Professional young Singaporean men are racing to catch up with their metrosexual colleagues in other parts of the world as they latch onto the trend of unashamedly buying themselves diamond jewelry, according to reports from jewelers in the city.

There has been a noticeable rise in the number of men treating themselves to jewelry, particularly ear studs, although pendants, bracelets and rings costing many thousands of dollars are also becoming popular.

These new customers are usually in the 20s and self-employed.

The new trend could be a backlash against the authoritarian rule of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who led Singapore to independence and served as Prime Minister from 1959-1990.

Known for instituting extremely tough rules for personal behavior which have continued, Lee Kuan Yew outlawed chewing gum and promoted corporal punishment, such as flogging, for petty offenders.

And it seems the atmosphere of strict discipline that Lee Kuan Yew promoted continues to have a strong influence since many of today's fashion-conscious men are said to only wear their ear studs in after work hours and at the weekend.

This article has really left me perplexed. Is the wearing of an ear ring by a male Singaporean a sign of defiance? Maybe it could be a secret sign to others? What is going on guys?

Defend the right to be offended

The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it’s a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible. Salman Rushdie

to read more at OpenDemocracy click here.

9 Feb 2005

National Service is a miserable failure

The following article is from Deus Ex Machina

I realise that this is my second post about this topic but it is a great source of interesting material. The last week was quite a reflective one too. You know how the government always says that NS will instil patriotism, right? Well, it has failed terribly. Before NS, I actually used to like Singapore. Our standard of living is decent; the education system actually suits me etc. This has totally changed within 3 weeks of serving the country.

It's quite foolish to think that NS will instil patriotism. It all comes down to whether you enjoy the experience or not. The majority of my squadmates and me pretty much hate it. It's a freaking waste of time. Sure, shooting and Law lessons are fun as hell, but I will rather not go for it at all, my freedom is too valuable. Think about it: If a man comes into your house and slaps you a few times, then tells you that the slapping will make you like him, will you call bullshit on him? It's the same concept; no one will like a country more when said country is forcing him to do things he doesn't like to. The country becomes associated with suffering, loss of freedom and oppression. Definitely not good for making patriots.

In NS, I met the first true patriot in my life.

to read on and read some strong language click here..

8 Feb 2005

Traditional Role of Family

The extended family in Singapore is a myth. (Stella Quah)And printed below is my continuing counter-argument, to constantly promoting the 'traditional family'. Every year the same tired speech is rolled out.

Singapore PM stresses traditional role of family

www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-08 12:34:36

SINGAPORE, Feb. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday underscored in his Chinese New Year message the important role the traditional extended family has been playing in Singaporeans' lives.

"To be a resilient society, we need strong and close families. Ultimately, helping out relatives who are in need, and bringing upchildren into upright, productive adults, are acts motivated by kinship bonds and emotional ties," Lee said.

He encouraged young couples to have more children as birth figures in the city state have been declining since 1990, which threatens the country's population replacement.

He noted that to keep up with changing circumstances such as the prevailing nuclear families and globalization, the government is taking pro-family measures and strengthening social safety netsto make Singapore a great place for families.

Satisfied with the country's economic performance in the past year, Lee wished all Singaporeans a prosperous Year of the Roosterahead.

Smash Patriarchy

The word on the street is that our recently enrolled eugenically engineered clone is going to turn its attention to the falling birth rate. And the usual approach to fixing this problem will be applied. No. 1 assume that it is the females job to look after children, so increase maternity leave, ommitting paternity leave. No.2 Throw some more money at the problem. This tactic of viewing child-rearing as the Sinagaporean females national service has not worked, even with the introduction of the Singapore Development Unit in 1984.

My argument is simple. If you remove the emotional connection and see it in instrumentalist terms. For a long long time the male has dominated life in Singapore, hell he can even go to Bintan to wife number 2, Gaylang if he feels like being unfaithful.

If a company had failed to be productive for the last 16 years and you owned that company what would you do to the employees. You could sack every employee or you could change the management. Put the female in charge, empower women.

There is a silent revolution going on in Singapore.

Read a previously published article... from the last time this same old problem arose and they threw the same tired solution at it...

The Battle of Sexuality in Singapore
Recent debates in the national media and newspapers are attempting to defend male domination in Singapore, (patriarchalism). Whether it is a debate focusing on the birth-rate, homosexuality, (gay and lesbian) or oral sex legislation I feel that the following section from a well known and highly regarded sociologist seems to place Singapore's 'problems' in a wider global issue. The statistics referred to in the article are American, but finding statistics on this area in Singapore is not possible. However, survey conducted by Durex concluded that Singaporeans have the least sex in the world. I wonder if that survey questioned the frequency of other sexual activity. How would Singaporeans have been ranked if the "perverse" pleasures had been assessed?

In the TODAY newspaper (long time ago)there [was] a letter from someone condemning 'oral sex'. Here is my rebuttal. What follows are not my own words but those of Manuel Castells.

"[C]onsumerist sexuality" appears to be on the rise, although the indications here are rather direct. Laumann et al. analyze their sample in terms of sexual normative orientations following the classic distinction between sexuality (procreational), relational (companionship), and recreational (orientated towards sexual enjoyment). They also isolate a "libertarian-recreational" type that seems closer to the images of pop-sexual liberation or, in Giddens terms, "plastic sexuality." When analysing their sample by major regions in America, they found that 25.5 percent of their sample in New England, and 22,2 percent in the Pacific region, could be included under such a "libertarian-recreational" category: this is about one-quarter of the population in some of the most culturally trend-setting areas of America.

A meaningful indicator of increasing sexual autonomy, as a pleasure-orientated activity, is the practice of oral sex which, I remind you is catalogued as sodomy, and explicitly prohibited by law in 24 American states, albeit under conditions of doubtful enforcement. Laumann et al., (1994) commenting on these findings, assert that:

The overall trend reveals what we might call a rapid change in sexual techniques if not a revolution. The difference in lifetime experience of oral sex between respondents born between 1933 and 1942 and those born after 1943 is dramatic. The proportion of men experiencing oral sex in their lifetime increases from 62 percent of those born between 1933-37 to 90 percent of those born between 1948-52. The timing of sexual techniques appears to have been responsive to cultural changes in the late 1950s, changes that peaked in the mid to late 1960s, when they approached saturation level of the population. The lower rates among the youngest groups in our survey are not evidence of decline in oral sex; these groups simply have not yet engaged in sexual relationships in which oral sex has become likely if not normative. [Laumann et al., (1994)]

Incidentally, between 75 and 80 percent of women in the latest cohort also experienced oral sex, and in the younger groups their occurrence is higher than for men. Laumann et al. Also report widespread incidence of auto-eroticism (associated with high levels of partnered sexual activity), and of masturbation, hardly a novel technique, but that seems to involve two-thirds of men, and over 40 percent of women.

Thus, if instead of reading sexual behaviour under the norm of heterosexual, repetitive partnership, we take a more "perverse" approach to it, the data reveals a different story, a story of consumerism, experimentation, and eroticism in the process of deserting conjugal bedrooms, and still searching for the new modes of expression, while watching out for AIDS. Since these new patterns of behaviour are more visible among younger groups, and in trend-setting cities, I feel safe to predict that, if, when, and where the AIDS epidemic comes under control, there will be one, two, three many Sodoms, emerging from fantasies freed by the crisis of patriarchialism, and excited by the culture of narcissism. Under such conditions, as Giddens proposes, sexuality becomes the property of the individual.(Giddens, 1992) Where Foucault saw the extension of apparatuses of power into sexuality constructed/construed subject, Giddens sees, and I concur, the fight between power and identity in the battleground of the body.

Click here to learn more.
Castells, M., (2004), The Power of Identity, Second Edition.

Singapore is a patriarchal society in the midst of a quiet revolution, led primarily by females and declining marriage rates and birth rates are the front line. The old male guard will not even admit that there is a battle between the sexes centering on female ownership of their own bodies but also sexuality in general.

Lee-wise democracy


[ SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2005 11:11:39 PM ]

Voting has almost nothing to do with being a democracy. It's only one of the necessary conditions. Singapore votes regularly, but catch any serious political analyst listing the rich Asian city-state as a free democracy.

Elections are held regularly in Malaysia too. But Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and Malyasia's Mahathir Mohammad have railed regularly against Western notions of democracy. The Lee school of thought offers authoritarian rulers legitimacy to keep opponents in jail, curb political dissent and share the spoils with the pliable. Both Lee and Mahathir, who have relinquished office but wield power, have argued that Asian values don't translate to unfettered political freedoms.

There has to be respect for the state, elders and hierarchy. Besides, too much democracy can hinder economic growth.

Functioning cacophony

India, in sharp contrast, now proves there isn't any contradiction between a healthy economy and a flourishing democracy. Read more...

The Straits Times Have Done It Again

The following is from NewSinter.com site.

Today, I came across a Straits Times article on the fabled exchange at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum between MM Lee and Jamie Han. The Straits Times Article published excerpts of the proceedings without indicating what was omitted, as shown in the segment below. I would like to reproduce the actual exchange so it becomes clear that to a large extent, the Straits Times obfuscates the truth and twists it according to the whims of its masters.

ST: Lively Exchanges
Paper: The Straits Times
Section: Singapore
Date published: Wednesday, February 2, 2005
---- [Segment] ----
Student: My name is Jamie Han, history honours student.

I'm not questioning your decisions in the past, I'm sure at those times, there was a need for consensus and stability. But I think we have come to the stage where stability is already here and that, in order to progress, the minority viewpoints have to be heard.

And I'm not saying that the People's Action Party is corrupt or anything now.

The truth of the matter is this: No matter how enlightened a despot is, ultimately, he'll turn into a tyrant if there are no checks and balances in place.

MM Lee: There's nothing to prevent you from advocating that, pushing that strenuously and finally getting a political party to adopt your platform, and we will put it to the vote. That's the democratic way of doing it.
---- [End Segment] ----

Now, I would like to reproduce the actual exchange in full

---- [Actual Exchange] ----
Good evening Mr Lee. My name is Jamie Han, and I’m a history honours student at NUS.

I was frankly rather disappointed at your speech, because I thought you have dealt with the historical... Historiographical problems of history, but as a lawyer, I can see that you are not trained for that area. So anyway, my question is this:

You were talking of general principles in history of looking at the past, and you said that in Singapore, one of the general principles is unity. I do not disagree with you that in this multi-racial society we need unity, but what I am against is...

Are you fetishising unity at the cost of plurality? You said that, maybe it is not part of our culture that we need consensus building and stuff like that, but as the sociologists would tell you, culture is always being made. So...

I'm not questioning your decisions in the past, I'm sure at those times, there was a need for consensus and stability. But I think we have come to the stage where stability is already here and that, in order to progress, the minority viewpoints have to be heard.

And in anticipation of your counter argument that there are channels in which the minority can voice their viewpoints, we all know that in reality these channels are either directly or indirectly controlled by the government.

(MM Lee Laughs)

And I'm not saying that the People's Action Party is corrupt or anything now.

The truth of the matter is this: No matter how enlightened a despot is, ultimately, he'll turn into a tyrant if there are no checks and balances in place.

And so I strongly believe that oppressive acts like the printing act and the internal security act should be reviewed. Since, maybe they are no longer relevant, as we have already reached a stage where stability is here. Thank you.

MM Lee: There's nothing to prevent you from advocating that, pushing that strenuously and finally getting a political party to adopt that platform, and we will put it to the vote. That's the democratic way of doing it.
---- [End Actual Exchange] ----

To continue reading click here.

7 Feb 2005

Give Everyone Million Dollar Salaries

Two Singapore police officers charged with taking bribes

SINGAPORE (AP) - Two police officers were charged with taking bribes on Friday in a rare corruption case in Singapore.

The officers - V.N. Arasakumar and Mohamed Eusoff Seeni - appeared in court on charges they illegally received nearly 20,000 Singapore dollars (US$12,210; euro9,391.59), court officials said on customary condition of anonymity.

The local Straits Times newspaper said Friday that one of the men had received money from triad members to protect them from their enemies and to help stop bar fights.
The other officer is alleged to have failed to carry out his duties in investigating a bar owner with gang connections, the paper said. The men were with the Secret Societies Branch, a police unit that investigates organized crime. An officer from the Secret Societies Branch was convicted of taking bribes four years ago, the paper said. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Corruption cases are rare in Singapore, which prides itself on clean government. - AP

Some slam me for not being 'constructive'. Lets apply the same logic that ensures that Ministers earn very, very large sums of money to ensure they are not corrupt to police officers and anyone else who may feel the urge to take bribes, rob or steal.

Now who could argue with that? Or rather who would want to?


pro·voke ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pr-vk)
tr.v. pro·voked, pro·vok·ing, pro·vokes
To incite to anger or resentment.
To stir to action or feeling.
To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter.
To bring about deliberately; induce: provoke a fight.

[Middle English provoken, from Old French provoquer, from Latin prvocre, to challenge : pr-, forth; see pro-1 + vocre, to call; see wekw- in Indo-European Roots.]
Synonyms: provoke, incite, excite, stimulate, arouse, rouse, stir
1 These verbs mean to move a person to action or feeling or to summon something into being by so moving a person. Provoke often merely states the consequences produced: “Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath” (Shakespeare). “A situation which in the country would have provoked meetings” (John Galsworthy). To incite is to provoke and urge on: Members of the opposition incited the insurrection. Excite implies a strong or emotional reaction: The movie will fail; the plot excites little interest or curiosity. Stimulate suggests renewed vigor of action as if by spurring or goading: “Our vigilance was stimulated by our finding traces of a large... encampment” (Francis Parkman). To arouse means to awaken, as from inactivity or apathy; rouse means the same, but more strongly implies vigorous or emotional excitement: “In a democratic society like ours, relief must come through an aroused popular conscience that sears the conscience of the people's representatives” (Felix Frankfurter). “The oceangoing steamers... roused in him wild and painful longings” (Arnold Bennett). To stir is to cause activity, strong but usually agreeable feelings, trouble, or commotion: 'It was him as stirred up th' young woman to preach last night'(George Eliot). "I have seldom been so... stirred by any piece of writing"(Mark Twain).

Technology not a substitute to policy change for a freer Singapore media

Relying on technology alone may not be the best approach to adopt if one is interested in opening up the media landscape in Singapore. An effective media policy aimed at making changes to media law maybe a better option.

Tuesday, 24 August 2004

by James Gomez

Changes to the law

In this regard, for the tightly regulated media arena in Singapore to open up, the first step would be to introduce genuine competition into the local media sector by issuing more licenses to individuals and companies that want to provide print, broadcast or Internet service.

The licensing requirements should be enabling and work towards growing the media market by lowering or reducing entry barriers into the industry.

The second step is to ensure that government ownership ratio in local media is regulated. To this end amendments to the News Paper and Printing Act needs to be brought into effect to do away with the present 3% cap. Changes in the Broadcast Act, to ensure that free-to-air channels also receive competition, need to be considered.

Such ownership requirements should apply across the broad including Internet Service Providers.

Foreign media

A different approach also needs to be taken towards the foreign media. Under the PAP government’s scheme of things the foreign media does operate under very strict conditions.

The News Paper and Printing Act as well as the Broadcast Act need to be revised to ensure that a proper atmosphere is created for international journalism to operate in Singapore.

Further the terms of employment as well as visa requirements for foreign journalists should be made more transparent. There should also be a process of appeal where visa requirements and work permit related issues are involved.

Freedom of information Act

A crucial component to ensuring media freedom is to enact a Freedom of Information Act. Key components of the Act need to include clear options for extracting information from government including the declassification of historical information.

In particular there need to be clear time frames within which civil servants need to respond to queries from members of the public as well as the media.

Another component would be to include a statement of privacy to guard the individuals’ right to privacy in an increasing environment of high tech surveillance and storage of data traffic.

Presently there seem not be adequate balance between privacy and surveillance.

Dealing with self-censorship

Attempts need to be made to loosen up the atmosphere of self-censorship under which the local media and sometimes foreign media based in Singapore operate.

One way to do this is to mitigate the damages awarded in civil libel suits. This can be done by placing a cap by recommending that awards follow international insurance standards when payments are made for loss of life and limbs.

Another way to deal with self-censorship, compliance and harassment of the media is to encourage whistle-blowing and to offer protection to genuine whistle-blowers.

Under the present circumstances, working journalists do feel a certain amount of constrain over what they think is permissible especially when it comes to political reporting.

Media watch and ethics

A non-legalisative approach can also include an endowment fund to set up an independent Media Watch and Ethics institution.

This body can be made up of working and retired journalists to monitor the media and develop a code of conduct for working journalists.

This body may also conduct training for NGOs and activists on how to execute media advocacy campaigns on freedom of information, access to information, privacy and media watch activities.

Students studying journalism at tertiary institutions can also do work related internships with this institution.

This body should be self-regulating body and should seek to network with other similar institutions in the region and around the world.

Technology not the answer to policy making

Often the proliferation of new media technologies such as the Internet is cited as reasons why the media might open up in Singapore.

The low cost, its high diffusion among the population and its purported capacity to by pass censorship is said to enable this outcome.

Although technology can play at part, over reliance on it should be avoided. Instead effective policy making as suggested here in this article maybe a better way forward for a more open media environment in Singapore.

Its all good

Everythings FINE Here

Population : 4,183,000
Internet users : 2,100,000 (2002)
Average charge for 20 hours of connection : 9 euros
DAI* : 0.75
Situation** : difficult

The government is everywhere, censorship rules and civil society is weak in Singapore. Such state control does not however include the excesses or violence found in China or Cuba. The leaders of the city-state warn that economic prosperity has to be paid for with freedom. The Internet in Singapore is almost devoid of political discussion and dissent only occurs on websites and discussion forums run from outside the country.

"I'm often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yet, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn't be here today." This remark by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew sums up the policy of the country's longtime ruler - that civil liberties were never a priority and that a good citizen should remember the national interest is always more important. This has remained the government's attitude since Lee partly handed over power to his successors in 1990 after ruling for 31 years.

The Internet is censored along with the traditional media, but the government was one of the first in the world to realise its importance as a means of dissent by civil society. It began regulating Internet activity in 1999 and the 11 September 2001 attacks speeded up an already advanced process.

ISPs under control

The government pushed through two major computer and Internet laws in 1998. One, the Computer Misuse Act, gave police wide powers to intercept online messages and said the authorities could decode encrypted messages in the course of investigations and under supervision of a prosecutor. The other law, on e-commerce, allowed police to seize and search computers without a warrant to do so. The two measures added to a series of laws cracking down on individual freedom, especially the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Since the late 1990s, the Internet has been under the control of the Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA), which monitors website access and content and calls for observance of a charter defining "responsible" Internet activity.

It requires ISPs to block any sites containing material that supposedly undermines public security, national defence, racial and religious harmony and public morality and more than 100 sites considered pornographic are thought to have been blocked. ISPs have to follow a code of conduct and must have an operating licence. They must also install filters on their systems, which block most pornographic material but are also used to bar access to political content, especially at election-time.

Employers are legally allowed to monitor the e-mail of their workers, who have no means of appeal if they are sacked as a result of an intercepted message.

Political and religious websites must be registered with the Media Development Authority (MDA), which was set up in 2002 through a merger of several media supervisory bodies and requires ISPs to block access to about 100 sites considered undesirable.

Open-ended power to monitor the Internet

An amendment to article 15 (a) of the Computer Misuse Act was passed by parliament in November 2003 to authorise complete surveillance of an Internet user through real-time software and the person's arrest before an offence is committed. Cyber-criminals can now be imprisoned for up to three years.

Member of parliament Ho Geok Choo said the amendment was "very much like the cyberspace equivalent" of the ISA, which was passed to fight classic crime. The ISA, which dates from the time of independence, has long been used by the regime to make arbitrary arrests of political dissidents.
Some MPs criticised the vague phrasing of the law and Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, said it was just an excuse for the government to control Internet activity.

The law does not say what kind of body or organisation the home affairs (interior) minister can authorise to monitor the Internet or what action the minister can take in the event of "imminent attacks." No independent body to review such decisions is mentioned.

Discussion forum under attack

The online forum Singapore Review, which carries criticism of the government, was hacked into on 6 October 2003 by someone who flooded the Yahoo-hosted site with up to 600 bogus messages an hour, driving 200 participants out of the forum.

The website, which calls itself "an alternative" to the country's "propaganda media," carries articles from the world press and reports by international human rights organisations. Its editor, who uses the pseudonym Melanie Hewlitt, encourages participants to speak their mind, which she says the country's media are incapable of doing.


The online forum Singapore Review

The Southeast Asia freedom of expression group Think Centre

Site of James Gomez, expert on freedom of expression issues in Singapore

The regulatory Media Development Authority

Reporters Without Borders

6 Feb 2005

Jamie Han

I kneel down before Jamie Han. This man has nerves of steel. I only hope that young men and women of Singapore take this as a call to argue and debate. Jamie Han, I throw myself in front of you, laid out on the floor.

Stability doesn't come easy

My name is Jamie Han, history honours student.

I'm not questioning your decisions in the past, I'm sure at those times, there was a need for consensus and stability. But I think we have come to the stage where stability is already here and that, in order to progress, the minority viewpoints have to be heard.

And I'm not saying that the People's Action Party is corrupt or anything now.

The truth of the matter is this: No matter how enlightened a despot is, ultimately, he'll turn into a tyrant if there are no checks and balances in place.

MM Lee: There's nothing to prevent you from advocating that, pushing that strenuously and finally getting a political party to adopt your platform, and we will put it to the vote. That's the democratic way of doing it.

I would beg to express my reservation that we have established unity and therefore all is well. You do not, maybe you do not realise how sensitive and how fragile some of this apparent unity could be...

(MM Lee talks about the 1964 race riots, the Jemaah Islamiah plot to blow up seven bombs in Singapore around 2001 which was disrupted, making the point that fault lines exist in Singapore society.)

Please do not assume that what you see as stability is something we can take for granted. It has to be worked for, looked after, nurtured and any incipient problem nipped in the bud...

Student: With all due respect, sir, I just wanted to say: One, that you are using the fear of the past in order to prevent progress; and second, you are picking examples of countries which suit your argument but I can raise a dozen others to counter with you.

But this is not a philosophical discussion, so thank you for your time.

I first saw this at ivan. Stand up Jamie and take a standing ovation.

5 Feb 2005

Yes, I know I (Steven) no longer live in Singapore. So please don't feel compelled to tell me. The following is provided by the ThinkCentre, and right here is a little link to take you to the full article. If you enjoy living in 'lah-lah' land please look away now.

I live in a country where the state makes its arguments too simple.

Such as: the PAP = the country.

Such as: democracy = protests = violence = disorder = national disaster.

Such as: human rights = confusing Western concept that our people don't need to learn very much about.

Such as: history = one man's story.

Such as: Chia Thye Poh = opposition = Marxist = dangerous = 32 years of imprisonment = non-existence in the authorised history.

I live in a country with a population that is constantly hit by men in white with invisible and visible sticks. I live in a country where it is hard to expect people to value anything more than protecting themselves from these big sticks, or getting their own stick and white uniform.

4 Feb 2005

Youbloodyfool Responds

My response to the learned guest writer is simple and to the point, it's about Equality...Autonomy...Respect... Communication...Non-violence

Its about ensuring an alternative interpretation is available to those who wish to read it. Maybe we should just give up and let the situation remain as it is, when sites like Singapore Review can be hacked on a number of occassions and no investigation follows.

Mellanie Hewlitt
3 Feb 2005
Normal Services Resumed

We apologize to our readers over the flood of junk mails that was
released from our Newsgroup earlier today. The exact cause of the incident
is still unknown and we have once again tightened security on daily
administration of the newsgroup.

I guess this really must be an elections year for Singapore. We hope
that latest attacks will not deter articles and subscription to this
newsgroup. So please lend us your continued support, keep reading and keep
sending us those articles.

Yours faithfully

Mellanie Hewlitt
Singapore Review

And by way of ensuring freedom of speech, published below is the letter I am responding to.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Guest editorial from BW:


There’s a certain person who has dedicated a whole site to criticize all things Singaporean -the students, the government, the way of life. The title of the site, although he argues that it is from another source (TV or whatever I don’t care) is meant to provoke and embarrass us. That is why this post has the title “you bloody fool”. I got this from a primary school *teacher* who used this phrase a lot. So in his style, I’m not calling anyone a bloody fool. I’m just alluding to what my primary school teacher said. Do you think anyone will really listen to what you have to say after you’ve called them “a bloody fool”?

Firstly, whether one’s criticism is correct, one should try to approach it from an angle that is constructive first. Maybe this is a question of taste but if it is, then to me, it is done in bad taste. I see pages after pages of bad-mouthing and using words like “repressive” loosely. Honestly, this gets to me and after seeing things like that, I feel deterred from extracting the main idea which may after all have some truth.( I would like to remind that person that he is after all a subject of the crown. Yes, in this day an age, in a land ruled by a monarch. )

After using loaded words like “corruption” and “nepotism” and “repressive regime” you would think that a fair critic, someone who is genuinely criticizing to enlighten us and persuade us, would not forget the historical circumstances of which some of our arcane policies are borne out of. Even most Singaporeans recognize that a lot of our flaws come about due to historical circumstances or because some of our strengths are derived from it. That does not mean that change is not necessary. But at least be fair and acknowledge it. Where it the balanced view?

The post about Singaporean students who don’t think could have been something worth pondering over if not for the fact that it was done in anecdotal fashion with the fake suggestion that one re-thought his/her career choice because of this particular student. Pretty disingenuous of you! How sly! I mean, erm, what a critical thinker! What about the Singaporean students who go for exchange and write such brilliant essays that the lecturers cannot but believe that they must have been plagiarized? What about the Singaporean students who win international science and mathematics competitions? What about the Angus Ross prize winners? Those add up to quite a number in tiny Singapore, you know. And presumably people who don’t win are not all brain-dead drones. Isn’t it funny if only those brilliant people can think and all of us can’t? I would love to see how smart his students from overseas are. Now let me ask: what was the meaning behind the suggestion that one would quit? Is it because it entered one’s mind? If so then I’m worried about both the educators and those being educated. I hope that other educators out there can take setbacks like that in good stride. Or is it because, and I say so because I think it’s possible, that one wanted an outpouring of sympathy? If so, oh you poor, poor, poor man. How could those students do that too you! The audacity!

Why does the guy do it? Even after leaving, he has nothing better to say and just has to carry on with that cheap sniping, daily, weekly, monthly. I would like to think that after being here for sometime, one would at least find something, anything that he likes.

I’m saying this against my better judgment. I’m not one who likes to make such harsh criticism about others. But I’m saying it anyway because I think there’s a difference between providing constructive criticism and being malicious. Now, if you’re reading this, show me how well you can take constructive criticisms. Or perhaps you can’t do it, as I see from hate-page that to you, the only way to react to anything, is to slam and condemn.


The views expressed in this guest editorial are the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views, ideas or opinions of Balderdash, its owner and main poster, Agagooga, or any of its team. Balderdash makes no representation concerning and does not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented.