30 Apr 2005

Young Mother Starts Hunger Strike in Response to Unfair Treatment by Singapore Authorities

 Posted by Hello

By Li Qun
The Epoch Times
Apr 29, 2005

Attorney Alfred Dodwell (right) with Huang and Cheng, the two female Falun Gong practitioners. (Epoch Times)

Cheng Lujin is one of two female Falun Gong practitioners who were unfairly arrested and imprisoned charged by the Singapore authorities. To protest this unfair treatment, Cheng has started a hunger strike.
Cheng Lujin began to fast immediately after she was sent to prison. Her husband was called by the jail to urge her to eat food.

The two Singapore Falun Gong practitioners Hua Caihua and Cheng Lujin were arrested for practicing the Falun Gong exercises at Binhai Park and mailing truth-clarifying video discs to the police. Although Falun Gong is legal in Singapore, authorities found the video discs objectionable, probably because the discs contained information critical of the Chinese Communist regime, which has a six-year history of torturing and murdering Falun Gong practitioners.

Around 4:30 p.m. on April 27, they were judged guilty and fined by the Singapore court. The two practitioners found the ruling unfair and refused to accept the verdict. Around 6 p.m., authorities sent them to Zhangyi Women’s Prison.

Before being sent to Zhangyi Women’s Prison, Cheng Lujin expressed the wish to take her six-month-old baby with her. Cheng Lujin came from Mainland China, and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, their six-year-old son and six-month-old daughter. During her imprisonment, her husband will have difficulty caring for both children alone.

Singapore Falun Gong spokesperson Dr. Wang Yuyi said, “The judge simply refused to listen to the defense attorney who provided the statement based on the constitution and human rights, and defied the fact pointed out by the attorney that many charges are not at all supported by any effective evidence. Instead, the judge insisted on punishing the two Falun Gong practitioners with severe fines. In actuality, this is already participating in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.”

The Epoch Times will continue to follow this story as it develops.

29 Apr 2005

Singapore Blogosphere to Become Global Blogopolis

Is this for real. I found it at THE KENTANG. And after almost needing a cardiac ambulance, was informed that it's a joke. With tongue very firmly lodged in cheek....

Following comments on the prominent blog "Singabloodypore", the Singapore Government has decided to step in by forming the SBDC - Singapore Blogosphere Development Council, with Ms. Regina Juggs as its newly appointed chairperson.

"What many Singaporeans do not realise," says Ms. Juggs, "is that their blogs are on the World Wide Web and are thus not only subject to local scrutiny and surveillance, but potentially connect to the rest of the world. The SBDC has been formed to ensure that the content, language and style of Singaporean Blogs reflects a mature, healthy identity that is both Uniquely Singaporean and firmly rooted in Asian Values, while acknowledging and conforming to the New Global Economy.

"Mr Mc Dermott's post revealed a worrying trend in Singapore Blogs to celebrate frivolousity and infantilism, topics summed up brilliantly in one of the comments as 'shoes, coffee, toilet paper, catching mosquitoes, or whatever'. One only has to look hard and long at blogs such as Xiaxue to realise that something is very wrong in our community. However, serious social cancers are not our concern. SBDC's concern is solely to clean up the image we present to the rest of the world, in order to maintain global competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors.

"Thus, the first initiative of the SBDC will be the 'Blog Good English' campaign, similar to the 'Speak Good English' campaign introduced in recent times. We will send email to the authors of blogs that use excessive Singlish, advising them to revise or delete their posts, and if they do not comply, encourage them to take remedial lessons in English, subsidised by our council. Further campaigns will focus on the content of local blogs, aiming to make them more mature and sophisticated and provide insightful information on elements in our local culture: Food Guides, Examinations (PSLE and GCEs), Issues on Procreation and Marriage, and Reports from 'The New Paper', and politics"

When asked to elaborate on the last element, Ms. Juggs Said "Foreigners have perpetuated the belief that Political Discussion is totally non-existent in Singapore. This is merely another example of the misconceptions that Westerners have towards Asians. In Singapore, Political Discussion takes place, but is considered a private affair, usually confined to the bedroom or taxis, at most within an intimate gathering of Uncles at a Coffeeshop. However, since blogs tend towards the personal, political discussion will leak out into cyberspace and we will continue to monitor the situation to continue the current perception of political blogs as dense and of an intellectual bent; in general, boring and irrelevant to local life. We also plan to encourage such political blog owners to have a petty and implausible outburst at stipulated times, to allow the negative view of their personality to completely out shadow any merits within their arguments. Failure to do so may result in threat of removal. This is consistent with our strategy outside Cyberspace."

How is Singapore Science Really Doing?

By Acidflask...
 Posted by Hello

The Singapore government has been lauding Singapore as a technologically advanced nation and a world-class leader in research and development, especially in recent years with the earmarking of billions of dollars of taxpayers' funding for encouraging scientific research, particularly in the life sciences. Yet a closer inspection at scientific statistics tells a different tale from the official party line.

The statistics in question are Thomson ISI 's Essential Science Indicators. ISI publishes the Web of Knowledge , one of the world's most important citation databases. (One can think of it as a giant database of academic trackbacks.) Many scientific journals that are deemed of suitable quality for inclusion are indexed back to 1945, the year after WWII that saw a surge in research ouput. Conventional wisdom claims a strong correlation between the number of citations and the relative importance of a paper in that particular field, particularly when compared to the field's average. Hence in academia, where collaboration and building upon the work of predecessors (and the "shoulders of giants ") is critical for progress, citations are one of the most powerful forms of evaluation in terms of what peers think of one's work. ISI's database, being the largest, is therefore arguably one of the most reliable sources of information.

In terms of ISI's citation statistics, Singaporean academia sucks big time. In the years 1999-2003, Singapore scored below average in terms of impact factors in 19 out of 21 fields tracked by Thomson ISI. The only above-average disciplines were mathematics (10% above the global average) and oddly enough, agricultural sciences ( +48 ). In contrast, engineering and physical sciences, which Singapore boasts as its strengths, perform miserably: materials science ( -5 ), chemistry ( -11 ), computer science( -18 ), engineering ( -18 ), physics ( -38 ), and geosciences ( -52 ) were all below average. This contrasts with statistics suggesting prolific scientific output in computer science, engineering, materials science, physics, and mathematics in particular, in terms of sheer numbers of papers published.

Even in the life sciences, the skew toward trendy disciplines is obvious. Consider these two categories and judge for yourself:
hot: agricultural sciences ( +48 ), plant and animal sciences ( -2 ), microbiology ( -5 ), biology and biochemistry ( -14 ), molecular biology ( -19 )
cold: immunology ( -33 ), neurosciences (-36), clinical medicine ( -36 ), ecology/environmental ( -37 ), pharmacology ( -40 ), psychology/psychiatry ( -50 )

Although I am no expert in the life sciences, the preceding dichotomy suggests that pumping money into the life sciences has developed a chasm between the "hot" (easily commercializable) life sciences and the "cold" (traditional and/or non-commercializable) life sciences.

One comment on the methodology: scientific contributions are attributed to Singapore if at least one author's address is reported to be in Singapore. Thus the data do not discriminate between the output of true-blue Singaporean researchers and the output of luminaries who were encouraged financially to grace Singapore with their presence but otherwise have no interests in Singapore as a nation-state. Note also that money is being pumped preferentially into disciplines that happen to have the highest average citations in the field, in particular molecular biology. Considering the bureaucrat's affinity for numbers, is there some statistical gerrymandering to pull up Singapore's ranking in citations statistics?

Most worryingly, clinical medicine ( -36 ) and education ( -54 ) both fare extremely badly in the citations game. Most academics believe that good teaching goes hand-in-hand with good research, because only a good educator will be able to practice what he preaches and only a good researcher, current with the latest happenings in the field, will be able to provide the most relevant education. The connection between good researcher and good doctor is even more obvious. So given the absymal relative lack of research, how is it possible to maintain our "world-class" education and health-care systems? Or unless one is willing to stretch the idea of being "world-class" to include even being far below the world average, were they even "world-class" to begin with?

The conclusion is crystal-clear: we are very good at producing unstimulating scientific research. In other words, we are good at wasting trees. A conclusion that is bolstered by considering that in the years 1993 - 2003, Singapore was ranked 36th in prolificity (i.e. number of papers published in all disciplines) out of 145 countries, but only 92nd in terms of relative impact (citations per paper).

Apologists for the current régime are quick to invoke the usual arguments that Singapore has limited human resources and no natural resources, and is also starting relatively late in the game, and hence such comparisons are biased against Singapore and should not be taken seriously. But comparing Singapore's statistics with other countries quickly debunks such entrenched self-pitying beliefs. Israel, for example, has a population of slightly over 6 million people. It has arguably the fewest natural resources of any Middle-Eastern country, and on top of that has been embroiled in strife and violence since time immemorial. By the preceding arguments, Israel should be one of the world's most ill-developed countries technologically, if for nothing else for having to spend huge gobs of resources just to survive, yet it is not. The citation statistics back up Israel's reputation for high technology: it is ranked 16th in productiveness and 24th in relative impact. South Korea is now by far the most scientifically prolific of the Five Asian Tigers. Belgium , a relatively small country with only 10 million people, has 9.5 papers per 1000 capita and 9.43 citations per paper (ranked 19th). In comparison, Singapore's statistics are 8.6 papers per 1000 capita and 4.58 citations per paper. Even Lebanon , still recuperating from a 16-year civil war that only ended in 1991, managed to beat Singapore in terms of relative impact of papers in computer science (1.12 v. 1.03), a field which Singapore considers among its greatest strengths. The consensus across various statistics speaks for itself.

In conclusion, Singapore's quest for world domination in the scientific sphere must address the grim reality painted by this (admittedly limited) analysis:
That the top 20 countries are leaps and bounds ahead of Singapore, if for nothing else for the sheer availability of resources. So by definition it will be very difficult for Singapore to match up against these truly world-class countries.
We can write many papers, but obviously not many people care about them.
Singapore is not a major contributor to the physical sciences, even in per capita and per paper terms. Even in the life sciences, she is not doing well consistently across the board.
Comparisons with similarly-sized countries show that we are simply not holding the fort even in our own middleweight class.

If this is what a quick look at a few numbers can reveal, how many more ugly truths need to be dug up from more in-depth analyses before Singapore will heed this sobering wake-up call?

Student forced to shut down blog after libel threat

Reporters Without Borders today expressed support for a student in Singapore forced to shut down his blog on 26 April for fear of a libel action by the head of a government body and warned that "such intimidation could make the country's blogs as timid and obedient as the traditional media."

"Threatening a libel suit is an effective way to silence criticism and this case highlights the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in our worldwide press freedom index," it said. "We especially support bloggers because they often exercise a freedom not seen in the rest of a country's media.

The threat of prosecution came from Philip Yeo, chairman of the government's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), which grants research scholarships, who claimed it was libelled in a blog (www.scs.uiuc.edu/~chen6/blog) by Jiahao Chen, a Singapore student finishing his studies in the United States. Writing under the pseudonym of Acid Flask, he criticised Yeo and the A*STAR scholarship system. He also agreed to his remarks being reproduced in the online Electric New Paper (http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg). Yeo sent him several e-mails demanding that he delete all blogs mentioning him or A*STAR and threatening legal action if he did not.

A few days later, Acid Flask shut down the blog and posted a message of apology to Yeo in its place. Other Singapore blogs that had reproduced the remarks quickly afterwards posted apologies or themselves closed down.


28 Apr 2005

How to be An Anonymous Blogger

Click the link to go to a guide that I found on Global Voices.

Good Luck.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted an excellent guide to safe blogging a few days back. While the guide is quite rich in tips to ensure you don’t reveal too much personal information while blogging, it doesn’t look very closely at the technical issues associated with keeping a blog private. I decided to write a quick technical guide to anonymous blogging, trying to approach the problem from the perspective of a government whistleblower in a country with a less-than-transparent government. What follows is a first draft - I’ll be posting it on the wiki as well (in a day or two) and will be grateful for comments, corrections and input.


Sarah works in a government office as an accountant. She becomes aware that her boss, the deputy minister, is stealing large amounts of money from the government. She wants to let the world know that a crime is taking place, but she’s worried about losing her job. If she reports the matter to the Minister (if she could ever get an appointment!), she might get fired. She calls a reporter at the local newspaper, but he says he can’t run a story without lots more information and documents proving her claims.

So Sarah decides to put up a weblog to tell the world what she knows about what’s happening in the ministry. To protect herself, she wants to make sure no one can find out who she is based on her blog posts - she needs to blog anonymously.

To read on click here...

Blog Down Blog Down!

 Posted by Hello

Thanks to S.T. for the heads-up.

Goodbye everyone. It was short, but it was fun.

Why am I closing down SLMJD? No, I have not received any threat of legal action from any head of any statutory board or from any business tycoon.

Earlier I had promised that I would write a post providing practical tips on how bloggers can minimise their risks of defamation lawsuits. Last night, while thinking about what practical advice I should give, I realise that I have failed, in SLMJD, to apply a key piece of my own wisdom.

This piece of wisdom is, of course, anonymity. No one can sue you if they don't know who you are.

Well, I've made my real identity known in this blog. It's probably a fairly serious error. In the future, this error will probably hamper me from saying what I really want to say, on current affairs and issues in Singapore.

26 Apr 2005

Sex trafficking growing in S.E.Asia

By Fayen Wong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Human rights activists called on Southeast Asian governments on Tuesday to crack down on sex tourism and child trafficking, saying the problem was becoming more rampant.

Experts and rights workers said more women and children in Southeast Asia were being trafficked to feed the appetite of sex tourists.

"There must be a co-ordinated and co-operative effort if we are to succeed in eradicating human trafficking, especially child sex trafficking from this region," said Vitit Muntarbhorn, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on child prostitution.

"It is most timely for ASEAN countries to tackle the issue in view of its recent declaration against trafficking," Muntarbhorn told Reuters.

ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ECPAT, an international non-governmental organisation working to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children, said there were more than 1 million child prostitutes involved in sex tourism in Asia, of which 300,000 were in Thailand, 100,000 in the Philippines and Taiwan and 40,000 in Vietnam.

"Many of them are tricked into the trade, it is easy to do so because the women and children are young, illiterate, vulnerable and gullible," Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation fighting against human trafficking, told Reuters.

to continue reading this article click here...
Trafficking in Persons Report: Singapore


Take cover, in coming!!!
If you aren't feeling paranoid yet, maybe you are delusional.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. – Wendell Phillips

Unfortunately in recent days, the price of maintaining the content which used to be accessible at this URL has become too high for the author to afford. AcidFlask thanks readers for their past support and regrets the inconvenience caused.

AcidFlask would like to apologize in particular to Mr. Philip Yeo, Chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, for having hosted or made remarks which Mr. Yeo felt were defamatory to him and the agency that he leads. AcidFlask promises to not make such remarks again on this website.

I have been able to find a link at convexset, which I believe is an apology for publishing an earlier article. I believe that Acidflask had then commented on the initial article. Acidflask's site has been removed until the owner feels willing and able to start it up somewhere else.

Also resulted in this 赤虫 site being removed by the owner out of fear of falling within the rather long reach of the arm of the law.

Related Articles:
Committee to Protect Bloggers
The New Zealand Herald
Reporters Without Borders
Index of Freedom of Expression
Chen Jihao's comments about the bond system of student loans.
Acidflask's view on ineffective investment in academic research.
Acidflask's blog 'obituary' by a fellow Singaporean blogger.
Fellow blogger Gilbert Koh considers Singapore's defamation law.
Another take on Singapore's (British-born) defamation legislation.

25 Apr 2005

Dearth of the practice of good journalism ethics

Below is an email I received after the post regarding the large number ofinfantile blogs in Singapore. It is quoted in full with name and email address removed.

Dear Mr. McDermott

I think you have touched a raw nerve with your post / rant, which garnered the attention it did and did not deserve. I have been following the entries on your site for a while and to give you all the credit, Singabloodypore stands as one of my must-visit blog of the day. At the same time and rate, I visit Mr. Brown's much lauded site just to get my dose of mild political satire and the personal anecdotes. I have an unhealthy disregard for Miss Xiaxue's site and to me, it is the epitome of all things associated with Singapore's future.

No, this is not an useless email to tell you about my like or dislike with regards to arguably Singapore's most popular blogs (their readerships are in the thousands). My email is simply an almost knee-jerk reaction to the comments you spewed about my country's blogosphere as well as the intellectual and not-so-intellectual discussions that came out of it.

I would have thrown in my two cents' worth on this. In fact, if not for restrictions or my paranoia, I would have set up a blog dedicated to the media howlers from Singapore's national rags, and the many about-turns spewed by our political masters in the media. Back in 2001, when blogs were not embraced by masses here, I lamented the lack of mature blogs which aimed to bring about stimulating intellectual discussions on the state of affairs on this island. However, as the local blogosphere was still in its infancy and that there were so many possibilities for growth, I thought patience was the key in waiting for the local scene to develop or mature.

Four years on and many blog awards handed out later, the popularity of superficial blogs (I prefer the word "superficial" to "infantile" to describe majority of blogs by Singaporeans) is there for all to see. The blog scene just has not grown or matured during these four years. While there is a time and place for superficiality, the serious and intellectual aspect of blogging just has not grown. Throughout the
four years I have been around (on the peripheral, I must say), I see many serious bloggers, who wanted to make a difference, die off because of the lack of readership (which stands as a form of support, like it or not). It is very disheartening to see one's efforts at improving the local blogosphere go down the drain as more flock to sites which promises senseless humour and superficial observations on things all around. So, they shake their heads, close their blogs and go the way of the dodo.

I was trained in journalism in Australia during my undergraduate days.\ I was lectured about how journalists had to follow a code of ethics. I was drilled in on the important tenets of being objective. One of the biggest reasons why I have constantly refused to join the local media industry is the dearth of the practice of good journalism ethics. When I have enjoyed all those investigative reporting I did
during those days, why would I want to subject myself to censoring things that I believe I should say and people must know just to please my masters? Then again, the need to earn a living on this island where I feel more like a third-class citizen than a born-and-bred bona fide Singaporean, landed me a job which I hated and effectively denied me the opportunity to be more critical of how the local media scene has made a mockery of what pure journalism is about.

In all, I just want to say that you have done a good job in digging out interesting news stories which possibly would never have made it into the mainstream media. Perhaps this post of yours will draw enough attention for less informed Singaporeans who have been subjected to the shoddy journalism practised by most mainstream reporters and give them more than one perspective on how things are in this little nation.

There must be a need for people to be more well-informed.

Keep up the good work, mate.

Yours sincerely

(Name removed)

Corporate Culture Revisited

The following is copied and pasted from a paper on Management. It is in the same area, generally speaking, of research that I have an interest in. A recent post here on blogs being infantile may be placed in a better context if you read the following extract. Yes I know the paragraphs below are out of context. I am exploring... The idea that if Eric Ellis' claim is correct, that Singapore is run like a large corporation...

"The system functions like a big corporation, designed to maximise profit. The Government maintains an upbeat information department, frequently holding press briefings lauding economic achievements but rarely or publicly discusses substantive matters of policy and politics." by Eric Ellis

...and coupled with the following article and references to 'infantilism' being the result, then is this the case in Singapore? Are Singaporean bloggers willing to accept the label and argue that they have in some way accepted the corporate culture, or do they reject the label but behave childishly? It's an idea, that's all...

This is not the place to review the myriad of ways in which corporate culturist thinking has seeped into contemporary prescriptions for management. Increasingly, there is a requirement that employees, at all levels, are “team players”—which effectively means demonstrating a willingness to play the game according to managerially favoured values and norms. In its most extreme, doublethink form, this thinking commends and anticipates the very demise of management. Here I will consider one, comparatively articulate example of such thinking: Cloke and Goldsmith’s The End of Management and the Rise of Organizational Democracy (2002). «Management», Cloke and Goldsmith (2002: 3-4) argue, is becoming redundant as «organizational democracy» (note the relevance here of Orwellian “newspeak”) ostensibly supersedes its historical function; «Managers are the dinosaurs of our modern organizational ecology. The Age of Management is finally coming to a close… Autocracy, hierarchy, bureaucracy and management are gradually being replaced by democracy, heterarchy, collaboration and self-managing teams… This is not just wishful thinking but a reality in many organizations, where strategic associations of selfmanaging employee teams are collaborating as members of complex, matrixed, high-performance networks…».

The claim, repeated by a number of other advocates of management’s demise (e.g., Koch and Godden, 1996; Purser and Cabana, 1998), is that organizations are evolving from an outmoded bureaucratic form— in which managers exist and operate as «overseers, surrogate parents, scolds, monitors, functionaries, disciplinarians» (Cloke and Goldsmith, 2002: 3)—to a more mature, less infantile form where «responsibility is a prerequisite for growing up» (Cloke and Goldsmith, 2002: 5). On this account, the existence of management as a top-down, coercive function is irrational and anachronistic as: «All forms of managing other people’s work hinder their responsibility, creativity, flexibility, responsibility, effectiveness, and growth, even in small, subtle ways. They prevent employees from being deeply connected and passionate about their work and keep them in a state of childlike dependence»
(Cloke and Goldsmith, 2002: 17, emphasis added).

What Cloke and Goldsmith characterise as “managing” and “management”, I submit, very closely resembles what Peters and Waterman (1982) mean by, the rational model of management (Ch. 3) which, they argue, «causes us to denigrate the importance of values» (Peters and Waterman, 1982: 51, emphases omitted), and for which a very similar remedy is prescribed.Cloke and Goldsmith (2002: 122) follow Peters and Waterman in stressing the centrality of values, arguing that «values, ethics, and integrity play a defining role in every aspect of organizational life». But, in addition, their advocacy of “organizational democracy” emphasises the importance of employees’ active participation and consent in the choice of values. They retain Peters and Waterman’s basic thesis that maximising the performance of employees can be most effectively accomplished through the development of an appropriate culture but Cloke and Goldsmith move beyond Peters and Waterman’s top down specification of the normative framework by stressing that employee value commitment involves complex and paradoxical social processes; and that gaining commitment necessitates active employee involvement in the process of choosing values.

Accordingly, Cloke and Goldsmith reject the (simplistic) view that values can be readily imposed or imprinted from above. «Any effort to manage values [recall here Cloke and Goldsmith’s restrictive and pejorative conception of “manage” and “management”] will quickly become counterproductive», they argue (Cloke and Goldsmith, 2002: 117), as it will elicit the kinds of infantilism. Contra Peters and Waterman, winning hearts and minds is understood to involve more than identifying and institutionalising a set of values that managers believe will be attractive to employees, as well as effective in improving performance. Cloke and Goldsmith (2002: 125) advocate a more subtle, seemingly dialogical approach to the development of culture in which «consensus on shared values» is accomplished through a process of constructive debate: «We need to stop trying to manage values through coerced uniformity and instead encourage employees to take responsibility for defining and implementing their own values in concert with others» (Cloke and Goldsmith, 2002: 117, emphasis added). Cloke and Goldsmith are responsive to the criticism that the imposition of a managerially specified organizational (mono)culture—the approach commended by Peters and Waterman—tends to impede the creativity, flexibility, etc. deemed essential for securing and maintaining innovation and competitiveness. For them, the nurturing of «diversity, autonomy, and a respect for individuality [is directly connected to] the idea that employees need to develop their own values» (Cloke and Goldsmith, 2002: 117). Yet, at the same time, we are told that «[Organizations] can bolster value-based relationships by recognising and encouraging the behaviours that uphold their values and discouraging and eliminating those that undermine them» (Cloke and Goldsmith,
2002: 125).

M@n@gement, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2003, 73-87
Hugh C. Willmott

To read the entire article click here.

Machiavelli's Tiger: Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore's Authoritarian Regime

By Uri Gordon

"Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right.
If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless."
Lee Kuan Yew, 6.10.1997


‘History’, observes Adorno, ‘is the unity of continuity and discontinuity’. Even a basic awareness to this reality should be enough to prevent anyone – especially the new sojourner into the realm of political science – from making coarse comparisons between past and present. And yet, sometimes the picture is so compelling, so painfully clear, that it simply cannot be ignored. Faced with it, all one can do is carefully explore the contours of the ancient and the new, hoping to retain enough responsibility to open his eyes to the differences when they manifest themselves.

This is what the current paper sets out to do. Though hundreds of years and thousands of miles stand between 16th century Italy and 20th century Singapore, between the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli and the statecraft of Lee Kuan Yew, the similarities are extraordinary. This paper will argue that the political views and actions of Singapore’s ruling elite – more precisely, those of the country’s 'founding father' Lee Kuan Yew – can be powerfully interpreted through an application of Machiavellian principles. This interpretation takes place on two levels. First, the political actions of Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) can be shown to consistently reflect Machiavelli’s prescriptions for maintaining an authoritarian regime, diffusing discontent and crushing opposition. Singapore is a country where human rights have come to be seen as nonessential in the race towards national economic excellence. Riding on the wave of modernity and capitalism, the government provides its citizens with welfare at the cost of chaining their lives and minds. The opposition has been reduced to dust by political imprisonment, structural control of the election process, and governmental defamation lawsuits that turn any utterance against the authorities into an act of political suicide. Subduing the population to a comfortable life of self-censorship, Lee and his aides can be seen as devout disciples of the Florentine.

But the comparison goes deeper than that. It can be argued that Lee’s leading ideology of ‘Asian values’ – which underlies the PAP’s policies – is a form of Machiavellian Virtù, seen as creating a healthy and dynamic community which can grow and prosper. Just as Machiavelli, in Isaiah Berlin’s view (1972:288-9), set Roman Virtù in opposition to his contemporary Christian morality – thus Lee can be seen as having chosen Asian values for Singapore as an alternative to the West’s liberal democracy. Lee himself, in this sense, can be seen as assuming the role of the Machiavellian ‘lawgiver’, anointed by his virtuous character to overcome Fortune and the difficulties imposed by its blind whim. Also of note in this context is Lee’s selective use of the Confucian religion to justify his worldview.

These two layers of convergence will be explored in the following pages. I will conclude by examining the prospects for democracy in Singapore, through an interpretation of Machiavelli that emphasises his exceptionalist position.

To continue reading the pdf file click here.

24 Apr 2005

Convexset Threatened or What?

Not too certain as to what is actually going on at convexset but if he was threatened with legal action over an article he wrote, then let that be a warning to everyone else.

the legality of the material which has been commented out in this post has been disputed. the plaintiff alleges that all copies of this post must be removed from blogs which have copied this material.

many bloggers and blogreaders (bloggees?) may have not realized this, but a quiet moment in the history of the singaporean blogosphere was marked last week. as far as i know, convexset is the first person who has retracted a statement made by him about one of his superiors at work. in the wake of calls to dooce the unfortunate cz, this event marks a watershed in singapore blog history.

the question of whether convexset had to write that apology, or whether he did so willingly, or volunteered to do so from his own free will, is really secondary here. what matters is that he recognized that he had (unwittingly or otherwise) crossed over a hidden boundary in an angry mood and triggered a response from the big boss himself (convexset was thinking of becoming one of His scholars), and convinced him that he had written a post based on incorrect premises, and that he had written an apology and retraction. work and blog touched base and for the first time that i know of in the singapore blogosphere, provoked a less than enthusiatic response from the workplace.

Saw this issue raised at Acidflask initally. And is mentioned at, trompeloeil.

Climate control in the Singapore Press

 Posted by Hello

I'm sitting in the tiny office of Cheong Yip Seng, editor-in-chief of Singapore's The Straits Times. And he's waxing lyrical about the paper and its contribution to the tiny South-East Asian nation that he's seen leap from Third World slum to First World wonder.

Cheong, 57, has been with the paper since 1963. He's proud of the paper and its contribution to modern Singapore. And he's proud, too, of the former intelligence operatives in his newsroom.

There's Chua Lee Hoong, the ST's most prominent political columnist. She might be Singapore's Maureen Dowd, except The New York Times's Dowd didn't work with the secret police for nine years. There's Irene Ho on the foreign desk. She was also an "analyst" with Singapore's intelligence services. So, says Cheong, was Susan Sim, his Jakarta correspondent.

And there's Cheong's boss, Tjong Yik Min. From 1986 to 1993, Tjong was Singapore's most senior secret policeman, running the much feared Internal Security Department, a relic of colonial Britain's insecurities about communism in its Asian empire. Now Tjong is a media mogul, the executive president of SPH, Singapore's virtual print media giant, which controls all but one of the country's newspapers.
I ask the affable Cheong, as the "journalist's journalist" he says he is, if he's comfortable having such people in powerful positions on his editorial staff and, indeed, running the company. "Why not?" he beams. "These guys have good analytical minds . . . they are all kindred spirits."

What's wrong with this picture? For many Singaporeans, nothing. After 42 years of comfortable living in a near one-party state, and a wealthy one at that, it's what you've come to expect.

Walls may not have ears in Singapore, but many locals aren't fully convinced they don't. And so they've affected this curious idiosyncrasy, which I call the Singapore Swivel.

to continue reading this article written in 2001 click here...

23 Apr 2005

No end in sight to PAP's arrogance

Press statement by J B Jeyaretnam, 20 Apr 2005

There appears to be no end in sight to the PAP government's arrogance.

The latest is the statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs that "Singapore does not require a foreignerto tell Singapore and Singaporeans how our criminaljustice should function" (ST April 17).

The statement makes clear that the PAP will only accept praise and not any criticism from anyone outside Singapore. It is like the ostrich burying its head in the sand.
I said at the forum that our criminal justice system was taking a calculated risk of sending innocentpeople to death and to incarceration in the prisonfor long terms. If the PAP government is seriousabout its claim of the quality of Singapore justicein Singapore, the least the PAP government shouldtry and do is to answer my criticisms.

My previous calls to this government to debate have all been ignored. If the government continues toremain silent, then it must be deemed to accept mycriticism that our system of criminal justice may besending innocent people to death and to prison.

J B Jeyaretnam
20 April 2005

It is slowly beginning to look like a personality type after some but not all of the 'love letters' I have been receiving in the comments section.

I once had a discussion with a Singaporean social worker who argued that the inability to take criticism had something to do with an inferiority complex.

So now everyone can pick up on the phrase 'inferiority complex' mis-hear, mis-read and mis-interpret it out of context.

Filling the civil society gap in Singapore

From James Gomez...

Filling the civil society gap in Singapore: The role and impact of external human rights and media advocacy organizations

This paper looks at the role and impact of international and regional human rights and media advocacy alerts, reports and rankings in highlighting freedom of expression and media freedom issues in Singapore. It argues that since the mid nineties the internet has increased accessibility to such information generated by such external organisations. In some ways, this has spurred the development, growth and frequency of such alerts and reports thereby creating greater global and local awareness of "freedom" concerns in Singapore. The fact that on numerous occasions the Singapore government under the PAP has taken issue with such reports shows that the work of these external organizations does have an impact. Given that there is presently no consolidated local media watch initiative, these external advocacy groups play an important role in filling one gap in the local civil society landscape. However, the internet and external input do not replace the need to have real local actors to move the media watch agenda forward in Singapore. Tuesday, 12 April 2005


When Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) released their annual worldwide Press Freedom Index in 2004, putting Singapore near the bottom of the rung at 147 out of 167 countries, it made local news. Why? Because, the PAP government rebutted the report by saying that 'outsiders should't equate freedom with criticizing the government(Star 17 November 2004). The Information Minister said RSF's index imposes a standard that fails to take into account special circumstances in Singapore, where "journalists contribute to the nation's development and are not necessarily adversarial". He added that the index is "based largely on a different media model which favours the advocacy and adversarial role of the press". Download the full article here:

Quote of the hour

Anonymous said...
Maybe one of the reasons why the Singaporeans are so annoyed with the term 'infantile' is because they unconsciously agree that they are being infantile but there is nothing they can do to move away from it.

Being angry, annoyed, etc. with the term 'infantile' is so minute. This term can be interpreted in different ways by different people yet, most of the comments posted here seem to concentrate on the negative aspect of this term. Probably because this is posted by a non-Singaporean. If this were to be posted by Mr Brown for example, would the comments be different? Would the article be considered as funny and cute?

Probably the ‘infantilism’ that persist in the majority of Singaporeans is because the education system is designed in such a way to mould the Singaporean to not think beyond their basic needs.

22 Apr 2005

Individualism is a kind of infantilism

The postmodern free-floating individualism is a kind of infantilism.

Blogs are very diverse and individualistic globally, is there a higher level of individually focused blogs in Singapore? More than other countries?

Edward Said would have argued that the use of the term infantilism as an image of the reified Singaporean implicitly characterised as a 'hot' yet passive female, see [picture of Xiaxue]. However the image of Xiaxue is hot-passive, but her blog and her style is contrary to this. Do other bloggers see it as so?

All cultures tend to make representations of foreign cultures in order to master them. The use of the term infantilism is one of many possible representations of Singaporean culture. But representations are also made within Singapore. Is the representation within Singapore mirroring the western assertion of 'infantilism'?

Do Singaporean bloggers get annoyed, upset or deny the 'infantile' representation?

21 Apr 2005

The Infantile Blogosphere

After reading the comments left over the last few days I have re-read the article and it appears to me that Singapore hasn't changed.

Yes I am aware of some very mature blogs written by anonymous bloggers, to name just two, the likes of Wannabe Lawyer, Singapore Commentator stand out but go read the likes of MrBrown, Xiaxue and other certain blogs that shall not be named, and it is full of infantile sub intelligentia nonesense. I am very sorry for leaving Mr Miyagi out of the list.

My god have I touched a very raw nerve or what?

I am planning on doing research into Singaporean attitudes on certain contemporary issues and I am starting to think that because of the high readership of the two blogs mentioned above, and the very small number of 'mature' blogs that my source of data is definitely skewed towards 'infantilism'. So there is the possibilty that the 'infantile' label is simply my bias. I am aware of this 'bias', but currently have little empirical data to refute it.

Please point me towards blogs that are not infantile and currently do not appear on my Singapore Blog list.

The Power of Nightmares

The Power of Nightmares

The threat of the evil-doers is now being used to invade schools and remove civil liberties from Singaporeans. Cameras in lecture halls, sounds like someone is frightened of what may be said in those rooms. The threat from 'terrorism' is the fear of an idea. When will the cameras be removed? Is there a timeline for installation and 'removal'?

Who will protect Singaporeans from their so called protectors?

The press became accustomed to publishing scare stories and not retracting them; politicians became accustomed to responding to supposed threats rather than questioning them; the public became accustomed to the idea that some sort of apocalypse might be just around the corner. "Insecurity is the key driving concept of our times," says Durodie. "Politicians have packaged themselves as risk managers. There is also a demand from below for protection." The real reason for this insecurity, he argues, is the decay of the 20th century's political belief systems and social structures: people have been left "disconnected" and "fearful".

The making of the terror myth

Singapore, 21 April (AKI) - Singapore is unlikely to experience a Bali-style attack, said Rohan Gunaratna, head of Singapore's International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. The recent discovery of a letter, written by a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiya (JI), said the group was planning an attack similar to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that left 202 people killed. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Gunaratna said Singapore is well protected against such violence but cautioned that Jemaah Islamiya's operations in the Philippines and Indonesia are still going strong.

"Singapore's law enforcement is very professional," said Gunaratna. "It is unlikely there will be an attack because of the effectiveness of the Singapore authorities who have totally dismantled the robust Jemaah Islamiya network." Gunaratna was referring to the three raids carried out by Singaporean authorities in December 2001, where JI operatives were arrested, and the steps Singapore has taken to help others in the region deal with terror cells.

However, the methods of JI have changed as well. Singapore's Home Minister Wong Kan Seng has said that the terror groups have begun to use Caucasions and converts to Islam who do not fit the terrorist profile and would be less easily identified.

"Within al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, counterprofiling is well developed, so that their techniques and styles are meant to operate below the radar profile," said Gunaratna who agreed with the observations of the Singaporean authorities. "They operate in such a way that they cannot be detected." For example,a few JI members are people of Chinese origin who have converted to Islam, said Gunaratna. He added that JI has close links to groups in North Africa and Muslim converts in Europe, who do not belong to the traditional profile of a JI operative.

To continue reading see here...

Fun City?

Andy Mukherjee is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.

Can Singapore Rediscover Itself as a Fun City?: Andy Mukherjee April 21 (Bloomberg)-

Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, described his island nation in parliament this week as ``a neat and tidy place with no chewing gum, no smoking in air- conditioned places, no this, no that -- not a fun place.''

Lee was explaining why he has decided to overcome personal misgivings about gambling in order to back his son and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's decision to scrap a four-decade- old ban on casinos in the city-state.

With China and India chipping away at Singapore's manufacturing and service businesses, the city-state can't remain a top draw in Asia for money and talent simply because it's "a healthy and wholesome society, safe and secure for everyone,"as the 81-year-old leader put it.

Lee's diagnosis is correct. Still, Singapore should concentrate on having casinos to fulfill a limited objective of attracting more tourists and creating more jobs. Any goal of creating ``urban buzz,'' which is the jargon often used in Singapore to describe what the city is lacking, is largely a serendipitous outcome. Even a government as efficient as Singapore's can't manufacture it.

To read on click here...

Press freedom remains poor under Lee:

Found at Singapore Windows

Agence France Presse
April 14, 2005

PRESS freedom in Singapore has not significantly improved under the rule of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with "archaic" laws still used to contain the media, Reporters Without Borders said here Thursday, April 14.

The international media watchdog, which last year released a survey placing Singapore 147th out of 167 countries on the issue of press freedom, called on Lee to "clean up" the city-state's laws and allow the press to flourish.

"We respectfully ask him to make some changes because he is from another generation," the Paris-based head of Reporters Without Borders' Asia Pacific desk, Vincent Brossel, said at a press conference.

"So we hope from Prime Minister Lee he can remove or clean up some laws that are very archaic and very authoritarian."

Brossel, who was making a short stop in Singapore after visiting the Philippines, said his organisation had placed the city-state so low on its world ranking largely because of its censorship laws.

He said there had been some "little improvements" for civic society under Lee, the son of Singapore's founding father and first premier Lee Kuan Yew who took over as prime minister in August last year.

"(But) in terms of continuity, he is doing his job," Brossel said.

Brossel also criticised leaders of the Southeast Asian city-state for filing defamation suits against political opponents and foreign news publications when for allegedly damaging their reputations.

"We feel that the way the local authorities have relations to people who are criticising them in the country is very disappointing," Brossel said.

"So this very bad habit in Singapore to fight a case or to fight a defamation case against political opponents, against civic society people or against journalists is very shameful."

Leading figures from People's Action Party, which has ruled since the country's independence in 1965, maintain the use of defamation laws are a legitimate tactic to protect their reputations from false accusations.

In his first major policy speech after becoming prime minister last year, Lee loosened some of the regulations governing free speech in Singapore.

These included removing the need to apply for a license from police to hold indoor seminars and meetings.

Video Recording of a Death Penalty Appeal in Singapore

"Singapore is believed to have the highest per capita rate of executions in the world. Official information about the use of the death penalty is shrouded in secrecy. There is virtually no public debate about the death penalty in Singapore."

- Amnesty International

On the afternoon of April 16 2005, a tiny conference room at the Asia Hotel in Singapore played host to a standing-room audience of about 100 people. They had come to participate in the island republic's first ever forum to address the issue of the death penalty in the country.

Six Singaporean activists spoke at the event, touching on topics such as the lack of safegurads in the judicial system, Singapore Government's investment in companies owned by Burmese druglord Lo Hsing Han and the need to provide social and emotional support to families of death-row prisoners. Also present on the panel but whom the Singapore Government did not allow to speak was a representative from Amnesty International.

Central to the forum was an urgent appeal for clemency by the mother and sons of 34 year old Shanmugum Murugesu, a citizen of Singapore, who has been convicted of trafficking in cannabis and is due to be hanged in the early weeks of May 2005. His only hope for life rests now on a clemency appeal to the President of Singapore.

This is a video documentation of the day's event and it contains scenes rarely seen and heard in Singapore.


The video has two segments. The running time for the first segment is about 60 minutes and the second about 15 minutes. There are both low-resolution and high-resolution files available for each of them. (It requires a longer time and more disk space to download the high-resolution files)

First, right-click on the link and 'Save Target As...' into your computer. After that, double-click on the saved item in order to play on RealPlayer.
RealPlayer - 10.3MBhere.
Or, RealPlayer - 9.56MBhere.

Death Penalty Forum (approx 60 minutes), Low Resolution, 33.4MB:

Death Penalty Forum (approx 60 minutes), High Resolution, 220.6MB:

Clemency Appeal at the Istana Presidential House (approx 15 minutes) Low Resolution, 23.0MB:

Clemency Appeal at the Istana Presidential House (approx 15 minutes) High Resolution, 87.2MB:

The webpage containing the links for the above video can also
be found here

If you view this before May 2005, please write, fax or email President SR Nathan of Singapore to plead for the clemency of Shanmugum Murugesu at

President SR Nathan
Istana, Orchard Road 238832
Republic of Singapore

Tel : 65-68355325
Fax : 65-67353135
Email : s_r_nathan@istana.gov.sg


Below are links to articles relating to the forum and to the appeal of Shanmugum Murugesu.

Twins campaign to free father from Singapore death row

Death-row detainee Shanmugam: 2 hanged and there are 8 more


A death-row man's plea

The silence about the death penalty is deafening

Letters of appeal for Shanmugam

Singapore bans human rights expert from speaking at public forum on death penalty

Singapore government defends judicial system

Home Affairs Ministry reply pathetic: OSC

Amnesty urges Singapore to halt executions

Burma-Singapore Axis: Globalising the Heroin Trade

Singapore's blood money
Hanging drug couriers but investing with their suppliers

19 Apr 2005

Home Affairs Ministry reply pathetic

Home Affairs Ministry reply pathetic: OSC
18 April 2005
Open Singapore Centre's Media Release

The Government's response to the denial of Amnesty International's (AI) Tim Parritt to speak on the death penalty in Singapore is so lame it beggars belief.

The Home Affairs Ministry says: "We do not require a foreigner to tell Singapore and Singaporeans how our criminal justice system should function," and then cites the Political Risk and Economic Risk Consultancy's (PERC) – an organization run by a US citizen based in Hong Kong – praise of the legal system here.

The truth of the matter is that the Government will make sure that whenever foreigners make positive remarks about Singapore, no matter how wrong they are, they always make the headlines. But when international organizations criticize the PAP, they are promptly prosecuted, sued, or accused of interfering in our domestic affairs.

No foreign interference? Our National Wages Council, a body that effective determines the wages of Singaporean workers, include three foreigners: representatives from the German, American and Japanese chambers of commerce. Do we interfere in other countries' affairs? The Singapore Government got a-hold of Boeing, Exxon-Mobil, and UPS to lobby the US Congress to approve the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement a couple of years ago.

The reality is that in this age of globalisation societies and their systems are becoming more interlinked. We are moving towards greater free trade and democracy. But while the PAP wants to talk about trade and commerce, it prevents criticism of its undemocratic ways. Unfortunately in this day and age, the countries that will move ahead fastest and remain most stable are the ones that are open in terms of economics and democratic in terms of politics.

Still this doesn't answer the question of why an organization like the PERC speaks so well of the PAP and its system. Remember, this is the same consultancy that showed that Singaporeans were more expensive than Americans, which was then so comically cited by Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan as justification for the further reductions of Singaporeans' wages. A closer look at PERC's set up reveals that the company's clients are businesspeople and corporations.

Accordingly, their surveys often depend on corporate executives who have limited knowledge and understanding of the justice system in Singapore. It is highly unlikely that PERC surveyed judges and lawyers, journalists, academics who are familiar with Singapore's legal system. If it did, the results would be vastly different.
Chee Soon Juan
Open Singapore Centre
18 April 2005

Public Forum on Death Penalty

Open Singpaore Center held a Public Forum on Death Penalty & Rule of Law in Singapore
2-5PM, at Hotel Asia, this is the follow up information page

Moderator: Salbiah Ahmad


Mr. J B Jeyaretnam - OSC

Dr. Chee Soon Juan - SDP

Mr. Sinapan Samydorai - Think Centre

Mr. Anthony Yeo

Mr. M Ravi

2.5 Times larger audience than expected turned out!
hotel room was booked for 50 people including invided press, but about 120 people turned out at the event, and OSC is thankful to Hotel Asia for the last minute addition of 25 seats. We are sorry that many other paticipants were sitting on the carpet floor or standing in very tide squeezed space throughout the forum in the function room. We will cater for additional space allowance in the future.

Shocking Dirty Secrets Exposed!
Dr. Chee Soon Juan presented shocking details of Singapore Govt Investment Fund [MYANMAR FUND] having intimate business relationship with Myanmar drug lord LO HSING HAN family.

Singapore's Blood Money etc 12MB size Adobe PDF file
printed articles are scanned in high resolution 300dpi, you can zoom in to read in better details

more of the details to be included here

18 Apr 2005

Singapore defends its decision to bar Amnesty speaker

Surely this speaker needs to attend an English Comprehension class as soon as possible...Redrown thought something similar was going on too.

Monday, Apr 18, 2005,Page 5

Advertising Singapore's government on Sunday defended its decision to bar an Amnesty International researcher from speaking at a public forum about the death penalty in the city-state, saying it doesn't need a foreigner to lecture it on its criminal justice system.

Timothy Parritt from London-based Amnesty International -- which has frequently criticized Singapore authorities for their use of the death penalty and curbs on free speech -- attended the forum on Saturday but did not speak.

Instead, organizers read out a statement he issued, which expressed disappointment at not being allowed to speak and called on Singapore's government to place a moratorium on executions.

"Singapore has one of the most fair and transparent legal systems in the world. We do not require a foreigner to tell Singapore and Singaporeans how our criminal justice system should function," a Home Affairs Ministry spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity yesterday.

She also cited international surveys, such as one conducted last year by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, in which wealthy Singapore was named as having one of the best judicial systems in the region.

Amnesty says Singapore has the highest per capita rate of executions in the world. Singapore imposes a mandatory death penalty by hanging for anyone caught with more than 15g of heroin or more than 500g of marijuana. Singapore says it needs its strict laws to deter drug use.

Parritt's statement said the audience of about 100 people at the forum was a positive sign that public debate about the issue was growing.

The speaker would struggle to pass the IELTS.

2 hanged and there are 8 more

Breaking News
Death-row detainee Shanmugam: 2 hanged and there are 8 more
(Think Centre)

17 April 2005

According to Mr Shanmugam, two Malay prisoners were hanged last Friday, 8 April 2005 at 6 a.m. There are another eight prisoners waiting to be hanged.

Think Centre Calls for a moratorium on Death Penalty Think Centre calls on the government to declare a moratorium on death sentences. And urge the government to plan for gradual abolition of the death penalty and to seek alternatives to the death penalty. The death penalty is a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment." Think Centre calls to remove the mandatory capital punishment for simple possession of drugs. The mandatory death sentence must be removed. The laws have to be changed to permit judicial discretion and fairness for drug cases.


Please appeal to President S R Nathan to commute the death penalty to imprisonment.



Lawyer Mr M Ravi, who is acting for Mr Shanmugam s/o Murugesu, reports that the prisoner is extremely happy to find out that a campaign is going on against death penalty. Mr Shanmugam was convicted for attempting to bring cannabis into Singapore in 2003 and will be hanged in a few weeks for now.

Mr Shanmugam informs that two Malay prisoners were hanged last Friday, 8 April 2005 at 6 a.m. There are another eight prisoners waiting to be hanged.

Information about the date of hanging is not made known even to the families of the prisoners. Family members are informed after the execution is carried out and told to collect the body by noon that day. Otherwise, the corpse would be cremated.

Mr Shanmugam told his lawyer that he is prepared to die if not for his helpless and ailing mother who might get a stroke (she was recently hospitalized) or even lose her life from all the trauma surrounding her son's impending death. Mr Shanmugam says that he is afraid that the pressure on his mother will be too much for her to bear as he was especially close to her and was her only source of support as she was divorced from her husband.

Mr Shanmugam also has twin 14-year-old sons, Gopalan and Krishnan. He worries that their future would be jeopardized. Both the boys were out at Centrepoint Shopping Centre, handing out leaflets and pleading with passers-by tohelp them appeal to President Nathan to grant their father a pardon. Their motherleft them when they were young. With the execution of their father, they will beleft in the hands of their increasingly frail grandmother.

Mr Shanmugam says he regrets his mistake and asks why he is not given the opportunity to rehabilitate. He is remorseful about his deed and asks the State not to kill him in cold-blood.

He says he has cooperated fully with the police and supplied information about the person, a Mr Mok from Johor Baru, who had asked him to bring the drugs into Singapore. Mr Shanmugamhad even given contact details and a sketch of Mr Mok but the police have not shown interest in pursuing the real culprit and the ultimate

The death-row inmate asks President Nathan to recognise his contribution to Singapore; he had won a jet ski competition in the US and had served 8 years in the army.

As bleak as his own situation is, however, Mr Shanmugam is still able to think about others in the same plight. He pleads with fellow Singaporeans and the international community to stop all these hangings in secrecy. No one, he adds, knows the grief of these families and the dependents of those who are executed.

Urgent Appeals

“Please appeal to the President on my behalf,” Mr Shanmugam pleads to all Singaporeans.

There is not much time left. Mr Shanmugam will be executed in a couple of weeks.

Please appeal to President S R Nathan to commute death penalty to imprisonment.


15 Apr 2005

Casinos look set to invade Singapore

 Posted by Hello

Lee's People's Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965, is publicly split over the issue. Even founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew - the premier's father - has expressed his reservations.

No reliable polls exist on the public's support for a casino and the government has ruled out holding a referendum on the issue, but online and telephone polls by state-run broadcaster Channel NewsAsia show a slight tilt in the population against it.
"If the tourists fail to materialise, that is when things will turn ugly," said Chua of the National University. "I think the political cost will be huge. It is a huge gamble because there is quite serious opposition on the ground to it."

One group - "Families Against the Casino Threat in Singapore" - has gathered 29,413 signatures in an online petition to stop the casino on the Web site www.facts.com.sg .

The government will likely restrict access for locals through membership fees of S$100 ($62) per day or S$2,000 a year to reduce risks of gambling addicts, crime and other social ills.

Happy-face fascism

Yes I know it was first published in 1995 by 'Ann Tellman'[not a real name of course] and I know how much you like things to be all 'shiny and new'. But the following is so good I had to draw your attention to it. Has Singapore changed since 1995?

In a past article I posed the question, 'Is Singapore Fascist?' and of course was told off in a later comment for doing so. Very few agreed or even discussed it via the comments section. Well it looks like I might have been on to something...

It's not Big Brother but the Parent State that presides over official family values in Singapore, the technocrat's Utopia. Sue Ann Tellman reports on a place where no-one is supposed to grow up.

The caning for vandalism last year of the American teenager, Michael Fay, by the Singapore Government brought strong protests from the West. The punishment may have been cruel and inappropriate but the protests reeked of hypocrisy a high-profile diplomatic and media defence of one American teenager accompanied by the usual silence on the numerous world situations where every day millions face death, torture, hunger and forced migration.

The Singapore Government made much of this hypocrisy, helped by individual law-and-order Americans who praised Singapore for its harsh response to teenage vandalism. But the Fay caning represents just one element of a good metaphor for Singapore as a whole: parental authority institutionalized in a nation-state.

The rules sound familiar from childhood and adolescence: flush the toilet (public toilets are monitored and non-flushers fined); no gum allowed (it clogs the subway doors); cross at the stoplight (jaywalkers are resolutely fined); cut your hair (backpackers stay away); no sex (eroticism not encouraged unless it produces marriages between university graduates who will improve the stock); no drugs (mandatory death penalty, non-negotiable); above all, don't disagree with your parent (a one-party state, a controlled press, import of foreign publications restricted).

The punishments are typical of a dysfunctional family: beatings (the bamboo cane); large fines (for infractions of small rules); isolation (imprisonment of political dissidents); expulsion (for those who won’t live by the rules); and, in extreme situations, death.

However, this is also a very rich parent, one of the richest in Asia. It is a parent whose primary purpose seems to be to make money, the more the better. BMWs and Mercedes Benzes abound. Anything shabby has been torn down and replaced so far upscale that only the wealthy can enter. Economic growth is a matter of national security. In 1993 three economists were put on trial under Singapore’s Official Secrets Act for revealing the country’s economic growth rate in advance of the Government’s official announcement.

Rich families are often not happy families and Singapore is no exception. All the control makes for boredom, cultural sterility and a certain infantilism. Want to see good theatre or go to an exciting rock concert? Want to read incisive political satire or even a good Singapore novel? Want to have a stimulating discussion on culture, politics, economics, psychology or sociology? Forget it not in Singapore. Quite seriously, conversations are more open and stimulating in Rangoon or Pyongyang the capitals of notorious dictatorships. In Singapore idle chat could lead towards either of the Government’s two big enemie ‘communist conspiracy’ or 'Western liberalism'.

Instead, the Government promotes 'family value' to provide the social stability needed for continued economic growth. In the Singaporean context this means complete subservience to the state and its social dictates. And despite all the Government’s preaching of 'family values'social alienation and boredom increase with rising rates of divorce, teenage crime, single-parent families and drug abuse. One crucial element in addressing these developments a recognition of responsible human freedom is missing, identified as it is with 'Western liberalism'. Instead, the Government keeps lecturing away on family values while increasing the social control, denying unmarried mothers access to government housing as this would confer 'respectability' on them. And, of course, more canings and more executions.

One way the Singapore Government has tried to address its people's unhappiness has been, in the best fascist tradition, to impose happiness on them. A shiny Disneyland atmosphere abounds spotless fast-food and entertainment franchises (McDonalds, KFC, Hard Rock Café); theme parks (one of which is in a building that until recently housed a political prisoner for 26 years surely one of the most creative 'cruel and unusual punishments' ever devised); mini-rainforest eco-parks (next to weapons-testing ranges); controlled areas for stalls of traditional Chinese, Malay and Indian food; and shops, boutiques and shopping malls galore. Happiness is making money, spending it and helping Singapore flourish.

But the Disneyland atmosphere with its money and its happiness-message does not seem to produce very happy people. While family life continues to flourish among the poorer, less-educated minorities (the Indians and Malays who are not really a part of ‘the official family’), the next generation of leaders – the money-making young Chinese professionals – show remarkably little interest in sex, marriage and family life. With the best parental concern the Government has developed its own dating service for unmarried university graduates, the Social Development Unit, housed in the Ministry of Finance. State television has gone on a family-life-is-fun campaign with commercials showing a happy family playing together and singing "Fun, fun, fun, fun... Families are fun, fun, fun, fun."

Part of the problem is that with all this attention to money, many people do not know much about sex. Any public expression of it is commonly connected with demonic 'Western liberalism'. Singapore gynaecologists routinely report women coming to them complaining of barrenness only to be told they are virgins. Reports one doctor: 'So many just do'’t know where to put what'. For many men masturbation by a masseuse at the health centre in the shopping mall or a visit to the sex clubs of Bangkok is enough to keep the moneymaking juices flowing.

The growth of Christianity in Singapore, especially among Chinese professionals, can be seen as another sign of people’s unhappiness. Unhappy with simply making money, many Singaporeans seek transcendent meaning. The Christianity that develops is evangelical, charismatic or fundamentalist, providing ecstatic experience but also sanctifying the making of money. The names of a few of the churches give a sense of the otherworldly spirituality of Christianity in Singapore: Glory Joy Christian Church, Pearly Gates Christian Fellowship, Singapore Charismatic Church, World Revival Prayer Fellowship, Harvester Baptist Church, Praise Evangelical Church – the list goes on and on. The gospel of prosperity is common – if you are a faithful Christian, God will reward you with prosperity. The Government is uncomfortable with the notion that there may be a higher power than itself and has instituted a Religious Harmony Act which prohibits any preaching on social or political issues.

The patriarch of this large dysfunctional family, where free and autonomous adulthood is so elusive, is Lee Kuan Yew, leader of the People’s Action Party. Lee was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990 and is now Senior Minister advising Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Interviews with Lee portray an authoritarian, eccentric and, at times, quite angry Confucian patriarch laying down in minute detail family stability for the whole nation.

Singapore is keen to spread its brand of happiness elsewhere. In dealing with regimes in the region even more repressive than itself – like Burma – Singapore is an advocate of ‘constructive engagement’. Singapore companies continue to invest and make money while governments support one another. Recently a group of Singapore companies including Singapore Airlines set up the Singapore-Myanmar International Leisure Enterprise (SMILE an appropriate Singapore acronym), a consortium to develop tourism in Burma. Singapore, loaded with capital and management expertise but short on natural resources, is a prime candidate for the role of economic colonizer in the region.

It is easy enough from the outside to argue that people should be braver and openly criticize Singapore’s repressive policies. But the fear is all-pervasive. Even one political joke told in the wrong place can ruin a career. One Singaporean’s comments explain much: Boundaries have been drawn on our lives, governing everything from how to live our private lives to how extensively we can participate in the political arena. Through local newspapers, radio, television, the community centres, resident committees, People's Association and the People's Action Party itself, we have been told to have unquestioning faith in our leaders. Even if we don't, many of us will not dare to say so publicly. Those who have challenged the Government have faced imprisonment, torture, loss of all political rights or exile.

Singapore faces a clear choice of futures: continued control by an authoritarian parent producing citizens lacking autonomy and freedom but materially richer and richer or, if everything collapses, poorer and poorer. Or, in the context of continued economic planning and development, a new liberation in which free expression of human reason, faith and imagination becomes possible.
Sue Ann Tellman is the pseudonym for a writer who would still like to be able to get through Singapore immigration

14 Apr 2005

Singapore Rebel Trailer

The two links below will take you to a trailer of Singapore Rebel. The production quality of these wav. files is in no way representative of the high quality production that the entire documentary meets. This is only a very small trailer and is not the entire documentary. I have no intention of uploading the entire documentary.

The wav. files last approximately 1 minute and 16 seconds in length and you will need to turn up the volume on your PC.

Once you have been taken to the page, click the download options illustrated in this picture....

For those of you WITHOUT broadband click here.

For those of you WITH broadband click here

If you want to read up on the documentary read the article below which was posted on Singabloodypore before, also visit singaporerebel.blogspot.com to learn more..

Tuesday March 22, 2005

A film-maker has withdrawn his documentary about Singapore's leading opposition figure from the city-state's annual film festival, after the government warned him its political content could land him in jail.

Martyn See's short film focuses on Chee Soon Juan, a frequent government critic who was ordered to pay S$500,000 (£160,875) to Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and former leader Goh Chok Tong for defamation during the 2001 elections.

See decided to pull his movie from the Singapore international film festival after the country's censorship board warned him he could be jailed for up to two years or fined if his 26-minute film was screened.

Singapore's the Straits Times reports that the board had also advised festival organisers to remove See's documentary because it was a "party political film." Under Singaporean law, local films that "contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter" are banned, the paper added.

Despite its strictly controlled media, Singapore has been seeking to promote itself as a centre of Asian arts, with the international film festival one of its cultural highlights. Still, Singapore regularly bans movies, on the grounds that it needs to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the south-east Asian country of four million.
From the Guardian Newspaper

Well there goes the promotion of Singapore as a centre of Asian arts. And all despite the recent call for a Singaporean Michael Moore by youth and media conference .

"In attendance was Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam some speakers referred "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."

13 Apr 2005

Half inmates of Singapore jails are drug offenders

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -

Drug offenders make up more than half of Singapore's jail population, prison authorities said on Wednesday, underlining the affluent island's severe and toughly enforced drug laws.
Prison authorities said 55 percent of the Southeast Asian city-state's prison population had been convicted of drug offences. The Straits Times daily estimated the jail population at about 15,623 at the end of 2004, down from 18,213 in 2002.

Police routinely conduct islandwide raids on nightclubs and karaoke lounges. Even if they fail to turn up drugs, suspects can be arrested if a urine sample tests positive for a range of drugs -- from marijuana to cocaine and methamphetamines such as "ice".

Last week, police arrested 150 suspected drug offenders in a 24-hour sweep.

Anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 15 grams (0.5 ounce) of heroin, or 30 grams (1.1 ounces) of cocaine, 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of cannabis or 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of methamphetamines faces execution by hanging.

Several foreigners were arrested last October, including 35-year-old British-born magazine editor Nigel Bruce Simmonds and a Tunisian restaurant marketing manager, in a rare high-society drug scandal.

Authorities say Singapore's tough laws are reducing drug use.

Drug arrests fell for a second straight year in 2004, dropping 47 percent from 2003, following police campaigns targeting drugs popular at nightclubs, police said in February.

Thailand as well as neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia are also confronting rising synthetic drug use -- from ecstasy to more toxic methamphetamines such as ice or ketamine, intended originally as a horse tranquilliser and often known just as "K".

Synthetic club drugs overtook heroin in 2003 as the drug of choice in the affluent city-state of 4.2 million people. In the same year, young ethnic Chinese outnumbered Malays as the biggest group of drug abusers for the first time in 15 years.

Singapore has executed about 400 people since 1991, giving it the highest execution rate in the world relative to population, according to rights group Amnesty International

Shanmugram Muguretsu

Thanks to Acidflask for the heads up. And thanks to Jose Raymond for highlighting the case in the national media...
Jose Raymond

WALK down Orchard Road at almost any time of the day and you are likely to be "accosted" by any number of people handing out flyers selling everything from shoes to timeshare properties.

But yesterday, people outside Centre-point Shopping Centre received flyers from two teenagers with a serious message — a plea to help them save their father, Shanmugam Murugesu, from being executed after he was convicted and sentenced to hang last April for drug trafficking.

Twins Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, 14, distributed more than 500 flyers detailing Shanmugam's plight yesterday on the advice of their father's lawyer.

Shanmugam, 38, was sentenced to death after being caught with more than a kilogramme of cannabis at the Tuas Checkpoint on Aug 29, 2003. He has asked the President for clemency after his appeal was dismissed.

On their lawyer's advice, the boys made their public appeal, hoping that members of the public would join their cause.

Said Krishnan, a Secondary 3 student: "My parents are divorced and my father has been looking after us. My mother remarried, lives somewhere else and doesn't see us anymore. If he is hanged ... we will become orphans."

The twins' grandmother, Mdm Letchumi Murugesu, has been looking after them since Shanmugam was imprisoned. According to the twins, Mdm Letchumi is unemployed and relies on handouts from the Singapore Indian Development Association to pay the bills.

Said Gopalan, also a student: "My grandmother will not be around for much longer to care for us. What's going to happen to us after that?

"We have taken our appeal to the streets to seek some compassion."

The boys are hoping that the public can write to President S R Nathan to help their cause. In the flyer, there is also mention of a public forum this weekend where members of the public can sign a petition, which will be delivered to the President.

Among the speakers scheduled for the forum are former Workers Party chief J B Jeyaretnam and Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan.

Shanmugam's lawyer, Mr M Ravi, who is working the case pro bono, stressed that he was not trying to politicise the situation.

He said: "Mr Jeyaretnam is only going to talk about the rule of law on the issue. It is rather hard to keep Dr Chee out of this because he is willing to go against the use of the death penalty.

"But there are other speakers who, like me, do not have any political inclinations and are only doing this because their consciences tell them to."

11 Apr 2005

Singapore economy performs poorly

 Posted by Hello

Guess the announcement of the election will have to wait a little longer...

11.04.05 1.40pm

From the New Zealand Herald...
Singapore's economy shrank at an annualised rate of 5.8 per cent in the first quarter, the weakest performance since a Sars health scare nearly two years ago and about seven times worse than market forecasts. The seasonally adjusted fall from the previous quarter reported by the government on Monday reflected a sharp slowdown in biomedical manufacturing in Singapore, which is a key Asian base for multinational drug firms such as Pfizer Inc. "It's clearly below expectations," said Wong Keng Siong, economist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. "Construction is still very disappointing. I think second quarter growth is going to be very weak. We have 2.4 per cent growth (year-on-year) in the first quarter, if manufacturing does not recover, the likelihood is for the second quarter to show very marginal growth."

Weak opposition eroding interest in poll

Forum: the Sammyboy.com's Alfresco Coffee Shop ™ Forum
Subject: Weak opposition eroding interest in poll
To: (ALL)
DateTime: 10/04/2005 09:57:35

"The government, however, says that the opposition’s weakness cannot be blamed on the government, adding that it is not its job to help it to become stronger."

In a true democracry, the opposition party is protected by the state. The state support the role of the loyal opposition and the govt is not to impede the functioning of the opposition party.

In tiny dot, the ruling party uses the apparatus of the state to put down the opposition and defines the election rules to tilt them to its favour. And there is nothing to stop them.

Weak opposition eroding interest in polls


THE strong domination of the People’s Action Party since independence 40 years ago has steadily eroded interest in the general elections among Singaporeans.

A sizeable number of people, especially youths, seem switched off when the subject of the forthcoming poll crops up.

Their view is that no matter what, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) will sweep the field again. It has done that in nine elections since independence in 1965.

In four of them, it won 100% of the seats; at no time did it ever lose more than three seats.

"Election has become a mere formality here, we already know the result," says an online writer, reflecting the general feeling in society.

One reason is that the PAP, with its track record, remains very strong, while the resources of the opposition are weak. And the environment doesn’t make it easy for the latter to grow.

The power was felt in the last election in 2001. Even in a serious economic downturn, the PAP won 82 of the 84 seats, cornering 75.2% of the popular vote.

The worrying feature, however, is the large number of walkovers.

Fifty-five of the 84 seats, or 65%, were uncontested; polling took place in only 29 wards. Roughly translated, two out of three voters did not have a chance to vote.

This had been the trend in the past with some years better than others.

While it may be good for the ruling party, the extensive non-voting for so many years is beneficial neither for the country nor for the process of democracy.

On average, only 55% of Singaporean voters actually got to cast a ballot during the past four decades. The other 45% stayed away because the opposition could not, or would not, field a candidate.

Under the PAP’S firm hand, Singapore has grown from a squatter colony to a first-world hub for banking, electronics, petrochemicals, shipping, pharmaceuticals and shopping, etc. This remains its entrenched strength today.

But the large number of non-voters in elections is coming under public debate as a national problem.

For those who live in “walkover” wards, generally considered by the opposition as “no hopers”, the general election has become an infrequent or a totally non-existent event, depending on age. Ironically, voting is compulsory in Singapore.

Why and what are the prospects of changes in a Restructured Singapore?

A fundamental cause is the reluctance of young Singaporeans to join politics or stand in an election. Most prefer to pursue careers or business.

It has made it hard for the financially weak opposition to recruit capable candidates.

The PAP had voiced the same complaints until salaries of ministers and other elected leaders were substantially raised.

The opposition has blamed Singapore’s voting lethargy on government policies and the election system, including:

·frequently redrawing electoral boundaries,

·devising multi-seat wards, some clustering up to six wards into a single group on a winner-take-all basis, and

·a government-linked press, which gives little coverage to the opposition.

Election deposits are set too high and donations to political parties are severely restricted. At S$13,000 per seat, parties contesting a six-seat ground face a big bill.

The leader of the opposition Workers’ Party, Low Thia Khiang, said these government actions had resulted “in many citizens not having the opportunity to vote at general elections”.

The PAP doesn’t appear too put off by foreign criticism of the way it governs Singapore. As long as the city remains stable and open for business, democracy has not been a major issue.

The government, however, says that the opposition’s weakness cannot be blamed on the government, adding that it is not its job to help it to become stronger.

A Western diplomat commented to Reuters: “Elections are run more like the board of a company or a major corporation. The board of directors puts up its slate of candidates and expects them to be elected almost in their entirety.”

“It will continue like this until it stops working. Nobody knows if it will stop working or how it might stop working.”

Will it happen one day? After all, nothing stands still. Singapore is in transition. As it undergoes restructuring, the ruling party is increasingly forced to eliminate “sacred cows” that are no longer useful.

Over the longer term, it will move according to the collective will of the governed. The most important change in a one-man-one-vote democracy is the electorate.

Observers have noted that after four decades, the new generation, which is better schooled, demanding and liberal, have not turned against the ruling party as it once feared.

The fear of “irresponsible” voting by “immature” youths once led Lee Kuan Yew to consider giving two votes to older voters with families to contribute to stability.

Every five years between elections, some 130,000 to 150,000 Singaporeans reach 21 and become voters, and Lee had feared many would vote "adventurously" for the opposition.

As it turned out, this did not materialise. In fact, the landslide 75.3% showed that many new young voters had followed their parents’ choice.

Exactly 21 years ago, PAP polled 64.8% of the votes. Over the next 17 years until 1997, the support votes in four elections were steady at 64.8%, 63.2%, 61% and 65%.

They included a significant change in favour of the young, a sign that the voting patterns have remained little changed.

But the future may be another matter. Many Singaporeans still vote according to their feelings for – or against – the ruling party. If they are contented, the PAP vote goes up; if unhappy, the opposition share rises.

However, a trickle of better-qualified recruits is beginning to flow into the opposition camp for the forthcoming election.

The Workers Party, founded in 1957, recently introduced several of them to the press. The opposition is already working the ground in preparation for polls.

Its strength could rise in the future, especially after Lee, feared and respected, has left the political scene.

That would likely result in more professionals challenging the government. Only then will it push up the number of able opposition candidates to rise and end the “no contest” voting era.