28 Feb 2006


Dr Gillian Koh
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

James Gomez
Assistant Secretary-General (2nd), Workers' Party

Viswa Sadasivan
Chairman, The Right Angle Group

Chandra Mohan
Advocate & Solicitor, Tan Rajah & Cheah and former Nominated Member of Parliament

Dr Geh Min
Nominated Member of Parliament and President of Nature Society Singapore)

Prof Kirpal Singh
Associate Professor of Literature & Creative Thinking, Singapore Management University
Saturday, 25 February 2006 08:30:00 AM

Lecture Theatre 8, NUS

Go here and click on the gif link at the bottom.

The Singapore Pornosphere?

What the hell is going on...

Last 20 Searchengine Queries Unique Visitors

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Will everyone just get back to work please. Oh and the lady in question is rumoured to be under 18 years of age and in some countries downloading child pornography will result in a visit from the authorities and a cosy stay in a secure prison.

Arrested Singaporeans had triad connections

This is probably the first time I have ever heard of Singaporeans having triad connections since the time I moved to Singapore in 1999. Just how deep are these connections and what is the size of the black economy in Singapore, surely a few economists out there could take a well educated guess.

The two Singaporeans arrested on Saturday in a pre-dawn police raid were not hired killers but triad society members.

One of them, identified as Tan Chor Jin, is believed to be the leader of triad society, ‘Ang Soon Tong’ or ‘21 Gang’ in the republic.

The 39-year-old bespectacled Tan who goes by the alias Tony Kia, is also nicknamed ‘One- Eyed Dragon’ because he is blind in the right eye.

In underworld circles, he was known to be a bookie collecting bets for illegal horse racing and football at a Balestier coffee shop in Singapore.

Despite his criminal connections, Tan’s favourite pastime was playing Chinese chess.

The Malay Mail learnt that while serving five years at Changi Prison in the 1980s for gang-related activities, including rioting and fighting, he spent most of his time studying.

"During his time in prison, Tan kept mostly to himself and chose to study, instead of carrying out chores.

"It is uncertain whether he eventually sat for any examination," a source told The Malay Mail, adding that there was speculation that Tan was blinded in the right eye following a fight.

Tan is allegedly linked to the murder of Lim Hock Soon, the owner of the Las Vegas Nightclub in Haveclock Road, Singapore on Feb 15, after what is believed to have been a fallout between the business partners.

It is learnt that Tan had accused Lim of cheating him of his share of bets placed in illegal horse-racing and football, and in the week that followed, the duo became bitter enemies.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mustafa Abdullah said three police officers from the republic were in the city to assist in investigations.

"We are trying to determine whether the two suspects were involved in crimes in Malaysia.

"After our investigations, we will refer the matter to the Attorney-General for action."

The source said that in the past one year in Singapore, Tan moved from one place to another to avoid police detection, having resided in Punggol, Clementi, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio and Hougang.

His last-known address was a three-room flat in Hougang Avenue 3.

Tan is married to a Malaysian who does not live with him.

27 Feb 2006

Ex-political detainees break silence at forum

Said's experience as victim reaffirms however that the indomitable human spirit can rise above tragedy to reclaim a fundamental, human dignity and integrity

Tan Jing Hwee
Introduction to Dark Clouds At Dawn
A Political Memoir.

Though Said Zahari, a famous ex political detainee for 17 years, and supposedly one of the panelist was absent from the forum due to his health condition, the event attracted more than 100 participants, amongst them journalists, students, young and old Singaporeans.

The facilitator of the forum, Tan Chong Kee, mapped out the structure of the talk by explaining its aims, which includes providing a brief history of the tumultuous 50s and 60s and revealing the personal struggles and reflections of the detainees and their immediate families.

The first speaker, Tan Jing Hwee related his story by describing vividly the night of the arrest. He had just arrived home from a rally with the other election candidates when they noticed the commotion from the police vehicles outside their home. They would be taken away in this second wave of arrest on October 1963. Prior to that, Operation Cold Store in February 1963, had already crippled the opposition significantly by removing a proportion of the left wing leadership.

He went on to describe the fundamental differences between a criminal offender and a political detainee. The latter has no recourse to a fair trial, date of release and underwent a period of solitary confinement followed by “normal” detention. He described the small cell in which he underwent his confinement - a mattress with a light bulb in the centre of the room and the horrid living conditions.

Michael Fernandez who was born in India and arrested in 1964 was an activist heavily involved with the Naval Base Labour Union. He believed the government's objective of the arrests were to “isolate active life and break us down mentally and physically, through long periods of solitary confinement, depriving us of reading materials, food and communications with the outside world, depriving us of our legal counsel.”

He also described the hunger strike in the Mooncrescent Centre in 1970s in which food supplies were not only reduced, but detainees were also forced into manual labour. Though about 200 detainees went on strike for about 135 days, they were force fed with either milk or thin porridge.

Playwright Robert Yeo read an excerpt of Changi, the last of a trilogy, that was loosely based on Fernandez' detention. He was inspired to write his political plays stemming from a desire to depict the lives of the political detainees. He talked about the censorship hurdles he faced while submitting his plays for production.

When asked by the audience if the detainees have undergone “healing”, Fernandez replied that political healing has yet to take place as the politicians who have inflicted these wounds have yet to be accounted for.

Jing Hwee opined that he had no personal grudges but that there is a need to “demarginalize” the generation that has been politically detained; and of whom could have contributed to the progress of democracy in the country. He believed that Singapore history has to accommodate the complex social and political factors of the 50s and 60s rather than the current version which is written solely from the views of the “victors”.


Read an interview of Salamah bte Abdul Wahab, wife of political detainee Said Zahari, on how she struggled to raise her family, in the absence of her husband and father of her four children, for 17 years.

26 Feb 2006

Democrats chase ghosts in S’pore

The Nation, Thailand from Singapore WindowFebruary 14, 2006

THE paper company set up by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 1999, Ample Rich Investments Ltd, has not only been involved in questionable stock transactions, its address in Singapore is also a source of mystery.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and fellow MP Sirichoke Sopha flew to Singapore over the weekend to visit the address of Ample Rich. They suspected that there could be two firms named Ample Rich, one incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven, and another described in Thai documents as having an “English” identity.

However, the opposition MPs could find no sign of either Ample Rich at their declared Singapore addresses.

At a news conference yesterday, Sirichoke displayed pictures of the building supposed to house Ample Rich at 185A Goldhill Centre at 51 Thomson Road in Singapore.

The address is occupied by a firm called Kimberly Global and its staff knew nothing about Ample Rich, he said.

“The Commerce Ministry must investigate why Ample Rich has failed to use a real address,” the Democrat executive committee member said.

“Now it is clear that 185A Goldhill Centre is not the address of Ample Rich. Let me ask the prime minister: What have you been doing? Does this company really exist? Or it is just an address submitted to the Commerce Ministry?

“This is something the Commerce Ministry must investigate because Ample Rich might not exist in Singapore. Is this another attempt to conceal the stocks [of Shin Corp]?”

On January 23, Karnjanapha Honghern, a secretary of the premier’s wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, submitted a 246-2 form to the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of Ample Rich informing the watchdog of the company’s intention to sell 329.2 million shares (about 10 per cent) of Shin Corp.

She gave Ample Rich’s address as 185A Goldhill Centre, 51 Thomson Road, Singapore 307629. (The Nation’s correspondent in Singapore also failed to find any sign of Ample Rich at this address.)

At the same time Karnjanapha was acting on behalf of Ample Rich she notified authorities that two of the premier’s children would acquire 329.2 million shares of Shin Corp at Bt1 apiece. On that same day, Thaksin’s son Panthongtae and daughter Pinthongta sold the Shin shares for Bt49.25 apiece to Temasek Holdings as part of the Singaporean firm’s Bt73-billion takeover of the conglomerate.

The transactions shocked Thailand and sparked an investigation of Ample Rich by the opposition Democrats.

Ample Rich, owned by Panthongtae and Pinthongta, held 10 per cent of the shares of Shin Corp on the foreign board of the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The Shinawatra and Damapong families held a combined 39 per cent of Shin’s shares on the main board. Together, they held about 1.4 billion shares, or almost 50 per cent of Shin Corp before the sell-off.

Korbsak Sabhavasu, a former Democrat MP, has found evidence that suggests there were two firms named Ample Rich, one incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and another described as having an “English” identity in Thai documents.

He displays a document on his website, www.korbsak.com, showing that as of April 30, 2001, the Ample Rich incorporated in the British Virgin Islands held 22.92 million shares of Shin Corp (before a share split). Its address is listed as 57 Ubi Avenue 1 #07-03, Singapore 408936.

The Ample Rich referred to as “English” in a Thai document held 10 million Shin shares (before the share split) and was located at 185A Goldhill Centre, 51 Thomson Road, Singapore 307629.

The firm incorporated in the British Virgin Islands reduced its stake by 10 million shares, or 100 million after the share split. Ample Rich (“English”) traded the Shin stock for a profit then disappeared without a trace.

On April 23 last year, the firm incorporated in the British Virgin Islands reported that it held 229.2 million Shin shares, Korbsak said.

But as of August 26, 2005, UBS AG, Singapore Branch held 329.2 million Shin shares in an account for Ample Rich.

The amount is equal to what Thaksin moved from the main board to the foreign board in 1999.

Korbsak asked whether Ample Rich had been involved in insider trading because it bought 100 million Shin shares to rebuild its portfolio to the original 329.2 million shares about five months before the Temasek deal.

However, Suvarn Valaisathien, the lawyer representing the Shinawatra family, had insisted there was only one Ample Rich, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and that this company never traded its Shin stocks.

Thaksin, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, also denied he had set up twin Ample Riches. There is only one and it was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, he insisted.

He transferred ownership of Ample Rich to Panthongtae in 2000 and his son has relied on professional fund managers to look after the company since them, Thaksin said.

Sirichoke said he also visited the second address given for Ample Rich. But no one in the neighbourhood of 57 Ubi Avenue 1 had heard of the firm, but because it was a holiday he could not verify whether or not an Ample Rich was located there.

“If I have time I’ll go to Singapore again to conduct another investigation,” he said.

Abhisit had been invited to Singapore to speak to the media there about the city-state’s image in Thailand following Temasek’s takeover of Shin Corp.

He also met Lee Hsien Yang, CEO of Singapore Telecommunications, which holds a 20-per-cent stake in Shin subsidiary Advanced Info Service

The shift intensifies


Only 45,000 more Singaporean voters in last 5 years, lowest rise in modern history, thanks to globalisation. By Seah Chiang Nee.
Feb 26, 2006

The newly released registration of voters, in advance of the coming general election, has revealed the significant extent of Singapore's demographic shift.

It shows the number of new registered voters in the past five years has increased by a paltry 45,000 - or just 9,000 a year - despite a rising population.

The new voters are people who had reached 21 years old as well as foreigners who got citizenship during the period.

This is surprisingly low considering Singapore's birthrate two decades ago when this cohort of voters was born was around 45,000 to 50,000 a year.

By extension - all else being equal - the increase in new voters should have been around 220,000 (subtracting deaths) - not just 45,000 - over the past five years, so where are the missing Singaporeans?

At the peak, the number of new voters rose from 1.192 million in the 1976 election to 1.424 million in 1980, a four-year increase of 231,900.

This was a rise of 58,000 a year - six times more than at present.

Since then, the statistics had been mixed, some years better than others, but generally the trend had been downward.

The current rise of 9,000 new voters a year is about the lowest in modern history.

Since 1998, the number of new voters had been growing by less than 10,000 a year, a pale comparison of the past pre-global years.

The table (official statistics) shows the general decline between elections since 1968, when independent Singapore held its first election.

This figure is not new but it merely reflects a trend that dates back about 10 years, especially since Asia's financial crisis in 1997.

It also means the growth in new voters has been dropping even as the population is rising.

The reasons? Broadly speaking, it is due to more Singaporeans migrating or moving overseas to work, study or do business, some bringing along their families.

With the exception of some 800 people, they are non-voters.

(Voting is compulsory, and anyone who doesn't do so has to re-register by proving they were out of the country. The lower figure could also include some people who have failed to re-register.)

At the same time, some 30,000 foreigners are taking up PR - permanent residency - a year, inflating the population but who are not eligible to vote.

The real reason, however, lies in economic globalisation and China's opening up. They eliminate jobs in some countries, while creating new opportunities in others.

This has resulted in a great trans-national movement of business and talent worldwide as skilled workers move freely in search of opportunities.

It has affected Singapore more because of its small size.

The exact number of Singaporeans who are living abroad is not known, but various official sources have put it at between 100,000 and 150,000.

A head count is hard to do. The future intention of many overseas Singaporeans remains uncertain.

An increasing number of better-educated citizens take up PR, but not citizenship, in their host countries. This indicates they still keep one foot at home for a possible return.

Those who emigrated in the past decade generally found Singapore too small or restrictive and have opted for a more relaxed lifestyle in larger countries like Australia, the United States, Canada and Britain.

Some may decide to settle down in their new homes, while others will eventually return when opportunities improve.

Numbering thousands every year, the exodus has long caused heartache to Singaporean leaders who have worked for decades building up the republic from a Third to a First World state.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew once shed tears over the exodus of professionals, and Goh Chok Tong, the Senior Minister, called the emigrants "quitters".

The current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also emotionally recalled the tough qualities of older Singaporeans, who stood in the heavy rains to celebrate National Day in 1968.

Since then, however, the leadership has accepted the inevitable.

As more tertiary-trained youths leave to work abroad, it encourages them to explore opportunities overseas but maintain their links with home.

Singapore is likened to a capital without a country, so the current strategy is to regard the world as its hinterland.

It has been investing in strategic businesses throughout the region, requiring more citizens to work overseas.

As a result, the country is undergoing vast demographic changes, as shown by the declining number of new voters.

Its own birth rates are in sharp decline. Last year only 37,600 babies were born, one of the world's lowest. The future lies in inward immigration.

This has been stepped up drastically in the past decade, steadily pushing up the population. In fact, the influx of foreign PRs has outweighed the outflow of citizens by several times.

They are believed to be more than the number of babies born, which would lead to a long-term dilution of the local content of the population.

The population rose from 4.24 million in 2004 to 4.35 million last year, an increase of about 111,000, some 80% of which were said to be foreign immigrants.

Only some 30% of PRs eventually take up citizenship.

The blueprint is for a population of six to seven million by 2020. Many locals are angry about losing jobs to foreigners but officials say the end result will be a more vibrant global city.

(This article was published in The Sunday Star on Feb 26, 2006)

25 Feb 2006

Integrated Queeresorts

This is a duplicate article of the one posted in blog.sayoni.com

What would happen if our beloved government one day decided to legalise gay marriage? Pleinelune, the resident satirist, takes a hike through her imaginatio

In 20 years, we would have exhausted every hub possibility we can think of: life science lah, tourism lah, arts lah… we are losing our edge! There is nothing we are “superior” to other countries in! Our economy is in grave danger!

Then, someone would suggest that we legalise gay marriage. We can be the new gay Hub in Asia! Which would bring in lots of money in tourism, as clearly, gay people are rich brats rolling around in money, just waiting to blow it on their wedding.

Which would of course, cause a huge hue and cry. There would be a heated parliamentary debate about this. The liberals would keep stressing how much money we would gain, how many jobs it would create… and the conservatives would respond with how gay marriages are going to destabilise society and bring in “undesirable” elements. It would cause an erosion of morals!

Then the debate embroils the whole country. People are discussing it everywhere: online discussion boards, schools, at the water-coolers… it is a hot topic! Stickers would be created which go “Gay? No!”. The country is essentially divided on the issue.

Then, just at the convenient time, a scandal would erupt, concerning someone on the death row, diverting everyone’s attention, during which, the final proposals for legalising gay marriage would be submitted to the parliament. After taking a not-so-random poll, the government would declare that majority of the country is okay with it, and having considered the benefits, it was going to go ahead and build not one, but TWO Registries of Marriage exclusively for gay people, complete with saunas, pubs and clubs. They would not be called gay marriage bureaus, but Integrated Queeresorts.

Over the next few months, several articles would appear in the newspaper about how much benefit the Integrated Queeresorts (IQ) would be to the economy. Then the government would announce several “preventive measures” to stop ordinary citizens from falling prey to the evils of gay marriage. For example, queer citizens would have to pay $100 extra for the services provided at the IQ. Also, people would be advised to report their relatives to the IQ, if they suspect that they are addicted to homosexuality, so that the IQ can refuse them entry. “Inspiring” articles would appear in the newspaper about people who recovered from their addiction to homosexuality. The IQ is for rich ang mohs: ordinary citizens better get married to a person of the opposite sex.

And don’t forget, make exactly 2.1 babies.

24 Feb 2006

Embarrassing for Who?

From Global Voices...

All over the Singapore blogosphere are commentaries on an unfortunate high school cheerleader, nicknamed “Tammy NYP,” whose cellphone was allegedly stolen by a jealous classmate and whose sex video recorded on that phone is now spreading across the Internet. A post by Book of Aletheia on the topic now has over 150 comments. Tinker, Tailor has a few words on the scorn heaped on the poor girl but not on her male partner. Xialanxue has been following the story, communicating with the victim, trying to persuade a blogger to remove pictures posted from the video, and reflecting on the ethics of the traditional media’s reporting on a deeply embarrassing story.

Singapore Govt angry over air route decision

I have temporarily disabled the anonymous comment facility for a few days - if you don't know why don't ask.

Handbags at Ten Paces...

This is a transcript from PM. The program is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio.

You can also listen to the story in REAL AUDIO and WINDOWS MEDIA and MP3 formats.

PM - Wednesday, 22 February , 2006 18:36:00

Reporter: Catherine McGrath
MARK COLVIN: The Australian Government's decision to lock Singapore Airlines out of the trans-Pacific air route has brought an angry response from the Singapore Government.

Singapore's Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong has accused Australia of taking the business relationship and the warmth of bilateral ties for granted.

Mr Yeo said protracted discussions had continued for 10 years, and during that time Singapore had been more than generous in helping Qantas fly through and beyond Singapore.

The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says he wants to sit down face to face with the Singapore Government and talk the issue through.

Catherine McGrath reports.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: With tension in the air, Alexander Downer doesn't want to add to it.

This afternoon he emphasised he wasn't going to get into a public debate with the Government of Singapore.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, we look forward to sitting down with the Singapore Government at the officials level fairly soon to talk about this issue. I mean, there are things they want from Australia, there are things we want from Singapore and we'll sit down and we'll have a good talk about those things in an appropriate and a private setting.

We're not getting into a public debate with them at this stage.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: But Singapore's words are strong.

Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong has declined our interview request, as has Singapore's newly installed High Commissioner to Canberra, Eddie Teo.

But in a statement, the Ministry of Transport said:

EXCERPT FROM MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT STATEMENT: The Australian Government's decision is extremely disappointing.


EXCERPT FROM MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT STATEMENT: The fact that the Open Skies Agreement continues to remain outstanding is indeed sad.

The decision is also inconsistent with the many signals from Australian leaders in past rounds of discussions that the issue would be resolved within a reasonable timeframe.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Singapore, if I may say so, does extraordinarily well out of Australia.

An enormous, there's an enormous amount of Singaporean investment here in this country which is very welcome and they make good profits in this country and we're delighted that they do. We have no problems with that.

No, Singapore is a country which benefits enormously from its good economic and political relationship with Australia and I don't see that changing.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: When he was asked about the decision, Treasurer Peter Costello denied that the execution of Australian drug trafficker, Van Nguyen, had anything to do with the Cabinet decision.

PETER COSTELLO: I can say to you that we don't link executions to aviation policy. Aviation policy stands and is considered on its merits. Our policy in relation to the death penalty stands and is considered on its merits.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: But it's also the length of time this has all taken that has angered the Singaporeans.

In his statement, Minister Yeo Cheow Tong says.

EXCERPT FROM YEO CHEOW TONG STATEMENT: I am naturally very disappointed with this decision, especially after 10 years of protracted discussions.

Singapore has also been more than generous in facilitating the growth of Australian carriers to and beyond Singapore.

It's disheartening to see that they have taken this and the warmth in our bilateral relationship for granted.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: With the Government only saying that the Singapore access issue is closed for now, there are still question marks over what the Government will do when the Canadians apply for access to the same route.

While suggestions from Transport Minister Warren Truss yesterday, that Singapore and Qantas consider merging, has been rejected by both carriers.

Labor leader Kim Beazley says the Government has failed to act.

KIM BEAZLEY: I don't think they made a decision. I think the truth is what they've decided is not to make a decision, and leave Qantas uncertain, leave Singapore Airlines uncertain.

The Commonwealth ought to make a decision on that. They ought to make it clear-cut.

MARK COLVIN: Kim Beazley, ending Catherine McGrath's report.

22 Feb 2006

Professor Noam Chomsky 22 March 2005

Professor Noam Chomsky 22 March 2005

On 22 March 2005, the renowned author, educator and linguist Professor Noam Chomsky delivered the third and final lecture of the 2004/2005 Gifford Lecture Series.

"Illegal but Legitimate: a Dubious Doctrine for the Times"

This event is available in two different video streaming formats:
[Approx: 1 hour 22 minutes]
Noam Chomsky Lecture [Windows Media]
Noam Chomsky Lecture [Real Player]
This event is also available as an audio stream for people on slower connections:

Noam Chomsky Lecture [Windows Media Audio]

Singapore Transport Min: Australia Takes Ties For Granted

Hmm... expect more aviation drama in time to come. Sounds more like a subtle warning doesn't it?
SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Singapore Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong has attacked Australia's decision to block Singapore Airlines Ltd. (S55.SG) from the Sydney-Los Angeles route, saying Canberra is taking warm bilateral ties with the city-state for granted.

The Australian government Tuesday rejected SIA's application to fly the lucrative route between Australia and the U.S. West Coast and signaled the decision will stand for several more years. SIA has been seeking access to the route, which is dominated by Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU), for a decade.

"I have always held Australia in high regard as a close bilateral partner. Thus, I am naturally very disappointed with this decision, especially after more than 10 years of protracted discussions," Yeo said in a statement released late Tuesday evening.

"Singapore has also been more than generous in facilitating the growth of Australian carriers to and beyond Singapore.

"It is disheartening to see that they have taken this and the warmth in our bilateral relationship for granted," he said.

Echoing Yeo's comments, the Ministry of Transport said the decision is inconsistent with many signals from Australian leaders in past discussions that the issue would be resolved within a reasonable timeframe.

The ministry said Singapore has "more than fulfilled" its commitment to open skies with Australia by granting fifth freedom traffic rights to Australian carriers.

Fifth freedom rights allow an airline to take passengers to one destination where more passengers can be picked up before flying on to another location.

Granting these rights has allowed Qantas to grow its operations in Singapore to be second only to its home base, while Jetstar Asia, which is part owned by Qantas, also operates out of Singapore in competition with local carriers, the ministry said.

"It would seem these benefits which Australia is enjoying have been taken for granted."

21 Feb 2006

Maid's kin suspect foul play in Singapore death

First posted 09:18pm (Mla time) Feb 20, 2006

CAUAYAN CITY--THE DREAM OF overseas Filipino worker Haidee de la Calzada was to build a decent house for her eight brothers and sisters and to help finance their schooling.

But that's gone now.

Haidee, 28, the third youngest among nine children of Raymundo and Susana de la Calzada, returned to Marabulig Dos here in a coffin on Feb. 11 after she reportedly committed suicide by jumping from the eighth floor of her employer's condominium in Singapore.

She was only on her fourth day of her two-year contract when she died. Her parents and relatives could not believe she committed suicide.

"It is impossible that her head is intact and she has no fractures, except for bruises and contusions [apparently inflicted by somebody]," her father Raymundo said. Her uncle, Francisco Ibujo, said there were "glaring inconsistencies" in the reports on her death from the Singaporean and Philippine embassies.

He asked the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the case. A few hours before her alleged suicide, Haidee sent text messages to her relatives in Cauayan City, reporting some "suspicious acts and advances" by her male employer, it was learned.

Some of the text messages, according to her relatives, included: "I found his actions strange. He tried to give me money but I refused."

She added: "Sorry, I panicked. My employer explained his side."

"I escaped. I didn't like to go back to my employer. He had evil motives against me."

Her sister, Lenny, said Haidee had reported that her employer "used psychological, mental, physical, and emotional methods of harassing her."

She said her sister's mobile phone went off after sending the text messages. A few hours later, a call from the Philippine Embassy said Haidee committed suicide. Manuela Pe–a, regional manager of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Cagayan Valley, said the victim's family would be given financial help.

Canberra snubs SIA lobbyists

The irresistable Temasek jugglenaut rolls on!

Canberra blow to Singapore access

Australia has denied Singapore Airlines access to the lucrative route between Sydney and Los Angeles, despite extensive lobbying from Singapore.

Transport Minister Warren Truss said having Singapore fly the trans-Pacific route would bring only minor benefits to the Australian tourist industry.

And it could also have a negative impact on the economy, he claimed.

At present the lucrative route is flown only by the Australian national carrier Qantas and United Airlines of the US.

'National interest'

Qantas controls 75% of the market share on the Australia-US route, from which it derives around 15% of its net profit.

Singapore Airlines has been asking for 10 years for access to the route.

But Mr Truss said that while Australia viewed an "open skies" policy as a national goal, and was willing to negotiate access to the Pacific route, this would only happen "when it is in the national interest".

"In terms of the Singapore Airlines' request for access, the government has decided not to grant them access at the present time," he said.

"If access is negotiated in the future, it will be limited and it will be phased."

Ownership cap

He said a lengthy government review of aviation policy found the policy settings introduced in 1999 were appropriate.

Mr Truss added that the government would continue to offer unlimited access for airlines to all Australian airports other than the four main hubs of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

And he said the cap on foreign ownership of Qantas would remain at 49%.

The history of the PAP

An interesting article on the history of PAP by Thrasymachus of singaporegovt.blogspot.com

Part 1: History and Founding of PAP

No “Singapore Politics” will be complete without the historical perspectives of PAP and Singapore’s Independence. In the first part, I hope to bring some history that is outside of our textbooks (or propaganda, depends on how you see it), and shed light on why PAP is the PAP we know today. Younger Singaporeans, like me, may not know of the insights on the founding of PAP and the true leaders (aside from the much-publicized Lee Kuan Yew) that made us from a British outpost to a country. But hopefully, in understand our past; we can derive thoughts to prepare us for the future. This first part will provide some interesting look (hopefully) into the history of PAP from 1955 to 1965. This will also serve as a starter to 6 leaders of Singapore, Dr Toh Chin Chye, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Lim Chin Siong, Devan Nair, S Rajaratnam and Lim Kim San.

The Malayan Forum
The PAP’s origins can be traced to the Malayan Forum started by Dr Goh Keng Swee. The Forum comprised of a group of students who met in Malaya Hall, Bryanston Square, London. It united students from the Left and Right in the fight for independence of Malaya and Singapore. The Malacca-born Goh Keng Swee, who was at London School of Economics, was the first Chairman. He was succeeded by Toh Chin Chye, who was reading for doctorate in Physiology. Other members included John Eber, Lim Khean Chye, Tun Razak, Gazalie Shafie and Mohammad Sopiee, some of them became prominent in the independence of Malaya. However, the membership never exceeded 50. They considered themselves as socialism, a term that many confused with Communism, which purports to “benefit the people” according to Dr Toh Chin Chye.

Some of them, with the passion of Independence, took up the political cause and came back to Singapore in 1953. Later, Dr Goh, Kenny Byrne and Dr Toh formed the Council for Joint Action with Lee Kuan Yew as the legal advisor. That was how LKY got involved in union politics. During then, LKY was also the legal advisor to Samad Ismail (editor of Utusan Melayu and ex-detainee), Lim Chin Siong and Devan Nair. The newly returned graduates from Cambridge and London gathered fortnightly at the basement of LKY’s rambling Straits-Style bungalow in Oxley Road. It was coined as “The Underground”, suitably apt considering the risk of being arrested under Internal Security regulations that forbade such political meetings. The regulars in the meeting included LKY, Dr Toh, S. Rajaratnam, K. Byrne, Samad Ismail, Devan Nair, Kum Swee Yee, Goh Keng Swee, Chan Chiaw Thor and Lim Chin Siong.

With special attention from the “Special Branch” (old version of ISD), they would always be watched and risk being detained without trial. Thus Dr Toh suggested forming a political party and registering as a society to avoid such complications. That is how the “Action Party” was formed and later, they added the word “People” into it.

The New People’s Action Party
In the early years, recruitment amongst their English-speaking colleagues was not going well. Dr Goh Keng Swee introduced his chess partner, Dr Lee Siew Choh (later joined Barisan Socialis) and Dr Toh brought in Yong Nyuk Lin, who enjoyed a promising career in Overseas Assurance. Just a handful responded to the PAP’s Democratic Socialism, seen as dangerously Left-Wing. Thus it fell to Lim Chin Siong and his trade union colleagues: Fong Swee Suan, Devan Nair, James Puthucheary and Samad Ismail to bring in the masses: the trade unions, the workers and the Chinese school associations.

The Man Who Almost Became PM
It was a job which Lim Chin Siong did superbly. His rallies in Hokkien and Mandarin were masterful. His rallies were attended by some 40,000 people, each mesmerized by Lin Chin Siong’s oratory. “The British say you cannot stand on your own two feet,” he jeered. “Show them! Show them how you can stand!” And 40,000 people leapt up, shining with sweat, fist in the air, shouting “Merdeka!”

“You have to understand,” said Devan Nair, “the mood of the people at that time. There was bitter anti-colonialism. Massive unemployment. And to the masses, the Communist was the only heroes. Lim Chin Siong had the ground. Where the masses were concerned, Chinese trade union leaders and the Communist were the only leaders.”

Lim certainly had the respect of Lee Kuan Yew. David Marshall said, “Chin Siong was introduced to me by Lee Kuan Yew. Kuan Yew came to visit me in my little office underneath the stairs and said, “Meet the future Prime Minister of Singapore!” I looked at Lim Chin Siong and I laughed. LKY said, “Don’t laugh!” He is the finest Chinese orator in Singapore and he will be our next Prime Minister!”

David Marshall and Failure from Independence

David Marshall led the first Merdaka Mission to open negotiations with the British for Independence of Singapore. Constitutional discussions began in London in April 1956. On board, representing the PAP, were Lim Chin Siong and Lee Kuan Yew.

The mission returned in failure and their demands for independence were refused. The British felt that the Labour Front government was too weak and the Communist elements in Singapore too powerful. If there was to be independence, the British fears needed to be calmed. David Marshall resigned and Lim Yew Hock took over as Chief Minister. He had two objectives. Firstly, he had to prove to the British that Singapore was able to resist Communism. Secondly, he wanted to purge the trade unions, schools and political parties of pro-Communist and Left Wing Leaders who were beginning to threaten the rule of the moderate politicians such as himself and LKY. Thus began a series of arrests under the Public Security Ordinance. Lim Chin Siong, Devan Nair and Fong Swee Suan were some of the prominent politicians being detained. (This issue will be dealt with in further details under Lim Chin Siong and Devan Nair at Part III)

It was Lim Yew Hock who took both blame and credit for the waves of Internal Security arrest. But the PAP was undoubtedly the main beneficiary of his tough regime. Lim Yew Hock arrested five Left Wing PAP members, newly elected onto the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) in August 1957, delivering the PAP from what was effectively a Left Wing Coup. Shortly after, PAP introduced the “cadres system” (to be elaborated under Dr Toh Chin Chye section at Part II), which prevented any further Left Wing infiltration into the party’s inner core.

Independence from the British
The next Constitutional Mission to London in April 1958 was a success. Under the State of Singapore Act in August 1958, the colony became a self-governing state. Elections for the new 51 member Legislative Assembly were scheduled for May 1959. Lim Yew Hock was given a hero’s welcome on his return and a noisy motorcade from Kallang Airport.

The Dilemma and Shrewdness of LKY
In the run-up to 1959 elections, the PAP was in a dilemma. The Party was to be led into the elections by LKY and his Right Wong colleagues. But they needed the Left Wing leaders, who were in prison to attract the following of the masses.

“It was at that point that Kuan Yew played his political cards superbly,” remembers Devan Nair. “It was masterly. He is politically very, very shrewd. He came to the jail and told us, look, I’m not gong to stand for elections unless I am satisfied that you are really committed to the ideal of a free, democratic, socialist and non-communist Malaya. And you are committed to the policies of the PAP. So Chin Siong, Woodhull, Fong and so on, gave verbal assurances. We knew that if the PAP didn’t form the next government we would continue to be in the jug (aka jail). But if the PAP did win, in 1959 and if PAP formed the next government, then we would be released and we could start our union work again.”

“But Kuan Yew was too smart. He said, “No, put it down in writing.” And I (Devan Nair) told them, “Yes, if we are sincere, we ought to put it down in writing.” And the more important of which was The Ends and Means of Malayan Socialism”, said Devan. They all signed and committed themselves to the PAP. This enabled LKY to run for office on a platform which demanded their immediate release. The trade unions mobilized their mass muscles, putting the PAP into power by a landslide. The PAP formed the government with LKY as the Prime Minister.
Lim Chin Siong and his colleagues, released from jail amidst a flurry of doves, were tucked into obscurity as Political Secretaries in the Ministries.

Cracks and Split in PAP
As the PAP government settled into power, the uneasy union between the Left and Right continued. The first sign of trouble was Devan Nair’s resignation from the Education Ministry. “I went to Kuan Yew and told him, “Look, I meant every word of The Ends and Means of Malayan Socialism. But I am afraid that my friends are not sincere. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where I’ll be fighting with my friends. So I want to leave. I’m resigning.” He went to St Andrew’s School where he became a teacher there instead.

The next crack came when one of the most powerful members in PAP, Ong Eng Guan, the Minister of National Development and one of the three representatives on the Internal Security Council, published an attack on PAP. He accused the party leadership of being “undemocratic” and “dictatorial”. The Party responded by sacking him from the PAP and stripped of his seat in Hong Lim and all his other positions.

He defiantly stood as an Independent in the Hong Lim by-elections and gave the PAP candidate, Jek Yuen Thong, a sound beating. Ong was fluent in dialect and Mandarin; a rarity amongst the English educated. Despite the PAP sending the charismatic Lim Chin Siong to speak at the mass rally at Hong Lim, Ong Eng Guan still won.

This is not the end of the crisis for PAP. On June 1961, Lim Chin Siong wrote to Dr Toh, demanding the release of their Left Wing political colleagues. PAP could not agree to this with their prior agreements with the British. The beginning of the split between Left and Right was the Anson By-elections on July 1961. The Left demanded “internal democracy in the PAP” and the release of all political prisoners from detention. They were refused. The Left then threw their support to the rival candidate, David Marshall and he won.

The final split came just few days later in the Legislative Assembly. Thirteen Left Wing PAP Assemblymen abstained from voting with the party line. They were dismissed from the PAP. In August 1961, they formed a rival party, the Barisan Sosialis, led by Dr Lee Siew Choh and Lim Chin Siong. They took 35 branch committees, 19 of the 23 organizing secretaries and an estimated 80 percent of the membership. PAP under LKY was a mere shell, according to Dr Lee.

The Last Breathe of Hope for PAP
The Singapore government was on the verged of being toppled. Every session, the opposition would motion of no confidence. But across the shores, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tengku Abdul Rahman, watched the events and feared that Singapore was about to become a Communist State, a “second Cuba” and a danger to Malaya. Thus, this was the start of the intense and frantic, Battle for Merger.

Barisan Sosialis held sway in Singapore but it knew that in a wider Malaysia they would be crushed. On the other hand, PAP needed Malaysia to break the Barisan’s hold on the Singapore Electorate. Thus, they enlisted Malayan Tengku and the British as allies, playing on their long standing fear of Communism.

On July 1962, the Barisan Sosialis, led by David Marshall and Dr Lee Siew Choh, appealed against the merger in the United Nations in New York. The Merger Referendum, issued in 1962, was testimony to the murkiness of the Battle. It was deliberately ambiguous. It asked voters to choose what kind of merger they wanted, not whether indeed they wished for a merger. All spoilt votes were to be counted as votes in favour of merger. With this controversial tactic, the PAP won the Battle for Merger.

Tengku then decided to clean out the Communism with “Operation Cold Store”. Hundreds of arrest was made and effectively decapitated the Left Wing Barisan Sosialis. A snap elections was called, under the protection of the Malaysian Security Council, produced a clear PAP victory. The Barisan, with most of their leaders in prison, garnered only 13 out of 51 seats. On September 1963, the PAP government had won its battle against the Left.

Merger and Separation of Singapore
Singapore spent 1071 days in Malaysia. Perhaps the first Singapore Leader to despair was Goh Keng Swee (more details on Part II). The integration of the economies of Malaya and Singapore was scuppered by the competitive rather than complementary nature of the two countries. Malaya refused to drop her tariff walls to admit Singapore goods and Singapore refused to abandon her free-port tax regime. Things got ugly with “mud-slinging”, a steadily rising political and racial temperature.

The independence of Singapore on the 8th August 1965 came as a total shock to most of the country. They were informed by radio and over television, by a tearful Lee Kuan Yew. He was to retire (to seek solace), in despair, to a government bungalow in Changi. Dr Toh, with his colleagues, held the fort and provided the much needed stability when LKY was no where to be seen.

The author (singaporegovt.blogspot) of this article is not a regular contributor or member of Singabloodypore. His views and opinions do not reflect that of Singabloodypore, and vice versa. The sources of this article can be obtained from Melanie Chew (1996), "Leaders of Singapore" and Lam Peng Er's "Lee's Lieutenants : Singapore Old Guard". Photos are obtained from National Archives Board Public Domain. For the other parts of "History of Singapore and Leaders", please refer to www.singaporegovt.blogspot.

20 Feb 2006

No irresponsible behaviour on part of NKF regulators

It seems like no one is at fault with the NKF saga with the exception of T.T. Durai. A "I think I apologised" comment made me wonder what Mr Khaw meant. It seems once again that heads are not rolled and there are no calls for resignation...


Entire society mislead by a small group of people, says Khaw Boon Wan

By Li Xueying
Straits Times
18 February 2006

THERE was no deliberate or irresponsible behaviour on the part of officials whose task it was to regulate the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

While acknowledging that the problems at NKF might have been discovered earlier if auditors were more alert and regulators more persistent, he added:

"When you have a chief executive officer who was determined to cover up his unusual conduct and who was supported by a captured board, it would take some time for outsiders to uncover his deeds."

He was responding to Non-Constituency MP Steve Chia who asked about "sharp comments" made by auditors KPMG about those who were regulating the NKF.

KPMG, which was brought in to look into the NKF's past, issued a report last December. It was critical of regulators - The Health Ministry, the National Council of Social Services (NCSS), and the Commissioner of CHarities - for failing to uncover questionable practicies under NKF's old management helmed by former chief executive T.T. Durai.

When the details came to light, Mr Khaw said at a press conference at the time that the government "accepts KPMG's sharp comments on the regulators".

Yesterday, Mr Chia asked Mr Khaw what he had meant by that.

"Does it entail the Government issuing a public apology to the people?" Mr Chia asked.

Mr Khaw replied:" Accepting responsibility means we acknowledge the problems as identified by KPMG. There were problems of various kinds at different levels, and let's extract lessons from there."

He added:"At the press conference that Mr Steve Chia referred to, I think I apologised."

Mr Khaw had said that the Government would "take part of the blame for allowing this to thing to drag on for longer than necessary."

Yesterday. he said the regulator accepted the criticisms but added that "it is easy to criticise such shortcomings on hindsight".

He then added:"Were the regulators responsible for the NKF problem? Remember that the NKF was, and still is, a non-government organisation, a private company. Was there gross or wilful negligence on the part of the government officers who regulated the former NKF? Did they fail to take reasonable efforts to look into the former NKF under the prevailing regulatory framework?"

The crux of the matter, he said, is that "a small group of people deliberately, through varios means, misled, in a way, the entire society, including Mr Steve Chia and myself."

Mr Khaw also went through the three areas in which KPMG commented on the regulators.

First, that they could have coordinated their duties better.

"This we would do," he said, highlighting a proposed revision that included a proposed revision that included the Commissioner of Charities and six administrators with defined roles to oversee charities.

KPMG also said the appointment of a Health Ministry representative to NKF's executive committee in 2000 had not uncovered problems.

But Mr Khaw explained this was not the representative's mission. Her role was to help influence clinical policies regarding haemodialysis. But she withdrew after she found the committee did not discuss such policy matters.

Third, KPMG felt that when the NCSS transferred supervision of NKF to the Health Ministry in 2002, NCSS officers did not throughly convey their concerns over the NKF's use of funds.

They did, said Mr Khaw. The NCSS wondered if NKF's fund-raising expenses were unduly high though these complied with the 30 percent expense ratio rule.

He said that after taking over, the Health Ministry regularly checked on the NKF's compliance with regulations , by relying on audits by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and KPMG.

Mr Khaw said regulators will tighten rules where appropriate. But they could not guarantee that no "unscrupulous" individual or groups would try to abuse the system. "However such abuses will eventually still be found out and the wrongdoers punished in accordance with the law."

Grassroots worker wants out of politics

This letter appeared in the Saturday Straits Times Forum Page on 18 February. What we see is an interesting phenomenon whereby the aforementioned implied dominant political party in Singapore *need we mention names?* is going all out to recruit more members into its organisation.

In a situation whereby grassroots platforms are sinisterly converted into "recruitment and training grounds" for "potential" politicians, drawn along partisan lines, we need to perhaps pose the question of its legality. Besides that, can we read a trace of undue pressure or unnecessary harrassement?

It is a well-known fact that the PAP government has a symbiotic relationship with NTUC. Seemingly, grassroots are not spared from its web of infiltration.


I REFER to the letter "Choosing grassroot advisers:Forget politics" (ST, Feb 14) and the article "Aye to apolitical GROs" (ST, Feb 10).

In Singapore, joining a grassroots organisation (GRO) seems to be a sure way for one to be involved in politics, despite the belief that GROS are supposed to be independent on politics.

I volunteered in a GRO with the intention of serving the community, especially the lower strata of society, and getting engaged in activities which I have an interest in.

After serving in the GRO for a few years up till now, I have been approached a number of times by other grassroots members requesting me to be a member of the political party.

I do not see the need to be involved politically because my main purpose is to achieve the aims I mentioned above.

Getting involved in the political party does not seem to advance these aims in any way.

Moreover, getting affliated to the political party was not something I anticipated when I first joined the GRO.

Even if I want to be part of a political party eventually, I am still not ready to do so.

I hope the ambiguous line between GROs and political parties can be better defined.

Volunteers in GROs should not be put in a difficult position to decide whether to join a political party just because they want to serve the community.

With a politically-charged system where prospective grassroots leaders are "screened" on their backgrounds, those who are viewed as "undesirable" (for example, ex-offenders) but are sincere about contributing their share for the community are deprived of the opportunities to prove their worth.

Instead, there may be people who join the GROs to work for their own vested interests through politics without any real intention of contributing to society.

I hope the grassroots organisations can be autonomous and apolitical gradually so that volunteers can concentrate on serving the community.

Yee Kai Ling (Miss)

19 Feb 2006

Ex-PM's wife asks permission to go to Singapore

Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)
February 18, 2006
The wife of Burma's former prime minister, general Khin Nyunt, has applied for permission to have eye surgery in Singapore.

Khin Win Shwe requested permission to go to Singapore for treatment at the recommendation of her doctor, a source close to the former spy-chief said.

Military authorities are still considering the request but fear her trip may help former intelligence workers regroup and attack the government.

Khin Nyunt and his wife have been held under house arrest after a month's detention in Ye Kyi Aine special investigation camp since he was purged in October 2004.

Bloggers, podcasts online may be subject to Parliamentary Elections Act

By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia
SINGAPORE : Come election time, bloggers and podcasts online may be subject to the Parliamentary Elections Act.

The Media Development Authority has reminded Internet content providers to comply with Singapore's laws, including those relating to political content.

It says changes to the law, if necessary, will be announced at an appropriate time.

In the previous election in 2001, cyberspace was smaller and less active, and so was the Internet community. Podcasts and blogs were not common terms at that time, but things have changed over the past five years.

Online political discussions have become more common, especially with the General Election due by the middle of next year.

One anonymous blogger called "SGRally" has even set up a website and asks for volunteers to record rally speeches and post them online.

"That site, whoever set it up, is trying to push the boundaries, the envelope a little bit by making people think about what these definitions are. It could present a problem, it could not. We will see how it pans out, and what type of videos that people actually end up sending in," said blogger Benjamin Lee, who is better known as 'Mr Miyagi'.

But is this blog allowed under the Parliamentary Elections Act?

"They can say that it contravenes the law in the sense that rallies are meant to persuade voters towards the speakers' cause. The aim is to influence people. So under existing regulations, it would seem as if it is covered," said Tan Tarn How, research fellow at IPS (Institute of Policy Studies, Singapore).

"There are several questions in this - first of all, whether people would really bother to put up the video tapes, transcripts of the speeches and rallies. Secondly, whether people would bother to go download the rallies and speeches."

Many also argue that while the Internet's influence is increasing, most Singaporeans will not be heading online.

"I don't think that the audience is very big for this kind of material, (though) they have been doing it for years. In the last GE, there were a lot of materials but not many went to the SDP and WP websites to download materials," said Tan.

"People are just not interested enough to put in the effort to look for information. Unless it's cast in a form that is closer to entertainment than politics."

Bloggers agree that not many out there want to listen to political podcasts.

"I'm sure there is room for listening to political podcasts. The only problem is that a lot of the stuff out there is dry and boring. So you are basically asking the man on the street, for 20 mins or half an hour of his time to tune into your programme. But if it's not interesting, I won't waste my time," said Lee.

But bloggers also point out that current laws aren't clear enough.

"Some things need to be defined, to make it clearer. There are a lot of laws covering online offline activities that didn't seem inadequate till the advent of blogging and podcasting. Right now, you have bloggers and podcasters wondering how often they will fall foul of the law," said Lee.

There are still many unanswered questions - like how to get bloggers to take responsibility for their actions especially with anonymous postings or if the website is hosted out of Singapore.

So it remains to be seen whether the law will change before the next General Election. But one thing's for sure, political watchers say it's still the heartlanders who will decide the outcome of the next election, not the online community.

- CNA /ls

General Election likely to be held in next 3 quarters: DPM Wong

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said the General Election was likely to be held in the next 3 quarters of this year.

Mr Wong said this at a community event held in Toa Payoh North-Central precinct on Sunday.

Mr Wong said: "It will happen in the next 3 quarters. We are always ready you know, as I have said in many occasions: The moment we win an election, we prepare for the next one."

As for what to expect in the coming elections, Mr Wong said there were details that still needed to be finalised.

He added: "It's possible that we have several more women MPs. How many, we can't tell you now. We have yet to finalise the group of MPs who will retire or the candidates who will join us. But you can be assured that at every election, we need to have an infusion of new people. Because even if an MP serves for 3-4 terms, or 5 terms, you would need to have 20-25 percent of turnover."

Mr Wong noted that 2 major challenges that Singaporeans had faced since the last elections were unemployment and the ongoing terrorist threat.

While the latest unemployment figures are the lowest in 4 years, he emphasised that more work needed to be done through the Community Engagement Programme to strengthen social cohesion and resilience.

Mr Wong's team had pledged S$300 million in 2001 to upgrade his GRC.

Besides the S$24.4 million Main Upgrading Project involving 10 blocks, 130 blocks in the estate have also had lift upgrading. - CNA/ch

More Singapore blogs, but bloggers aware of responsibilities

There has been an increasing number of blogs and podcasts in Singapore and with it a growing awareness say bloggers of their responsibilities and what constitutes as defamation.

This after 3 bloggers were charged in court last year for their racist online comments.

The podcast by bloggers known as mr brown and Mr Miyagi has been making waves in cyberspace.

Their most popular podcast last year ('Zhng my car') had more than 50,000 downloads which melted down their server at one point.

And they believe that blogging (and podcasting) is poised to take off in a big way here.

Lee Kin Mun, Blogger known as "mr brown", said: "It's a very easy thing to set up and do, it will probably become a powerful alternative media as people are getting comfortable to use this platform to self publish, to self express."

Now, you can set up your own blog online in 15 minutes thanks to technology.

And bloggers expect to see a proliferation of podcasting especially with more people taking to publishing and broadcasting on their own -once technology makes it even easier to set up podcasts - and this will make podcasting a major alternative publishing and broadcasting platform.

But many say this also throws up many legal questions such as regulation.

Lee Kin Mun said: "In some form or other, there will be a need to do that. It is, at the end of the day, publishing and broadcasting. How they do it is more interesting to explore whether they take a light touch to it or whether they going to legislate it in a very strict way. It's going to be hard to ignore, as it throws up lots of interesting aspects, issues of jurisdiction, legal aspects and all."

On defamation, bloggers and podcasters will be held liable if they publish or even air a defamatory statement.

Siraj Omar, Lawyer, said: "A blogger is responsible for what he puts online, be it for defamation or any other offence. It doesn't matter someone publishes comments in the newspaper or on the Internet via blogs or bulletin boards - your liability is the same. Just because a defamatory statement is on the internet does not absolve the maker of that statement from liability."

Many bloggers say they have become more aware of their responsibilities after 2 bloggers were jailed last year for posting racist comments on their blogs.

But bloggers say it will not stop them from online discussion.

Benjamin Lee, Blogger known as "Mr Miyagi", said: "It's not as if whatever you say, someone will come knocking down your door with a sledge-hammer. It's not quite a climate of fear. At the same time, it's not a freewheeling blogosphere."

And as more people take to technology and blogging, such discussions look set to grow in the future. - CNA/ch

In other words: watch what you say. Big Brother is watching.

18 Feb 2006

PA's charm offensive

It ropes in public relations firm to fix its image among yuppies

Tor Ching Li

THE People's Association (PA) is pumping some $500,000 this year into a public communications effort to reconnect with its target audience — the people of Singapore.

Public relations company Burson-Marsteller has been given the task to generate greater awareness and appreciation for the 46-year-old PA and its nine-year-old counterpart, the Community Development Councils (CDCs).

This could take the form of television commercials, bus and MRT advertisements or road shows at shopping centres.

Currently, Burson-Marsteller is conducting telephone surveys to find out how people perceive the PA and its role.

By year end, the PA hopes Singaporeans will have a better understanding of its role in the community.

It also hopes to attract more youth to join the grassroots, boost staff morale and develop a common vision and a set of key performance indicators for the five CDCs.

The PA has some 300,000 members that use its facilities and participate in courses, but its chief executive director Tan Boon Huat does not think this is enough. Ideally, he said, all Singaporeans should join the PA.

Formed as a statutory board in 1960, the role of the PA has been to promote active citizenship, multiracial harmony and community bonding.

But the option of country club memberships and the pursuit of narrower recreational interests have turned some Singaporeans away from Community Club (CC) activities, said Mr Tan.

Then there is the PA's "image problem". Recounted Mr Tan: "Once in a while, when you ask a yuppie type, young graduates if they have been to a CC, they say 'Ha? CC ah?' and from their tone of reply, they see CCs as a place where you only have ah sohs, ah lians, ah bengs and that kind of thing, which is not entirely true."

He added: "While it is essential to look after those who are less well-off, for the PA to do its job properly, it also needs a balanced portfolio of programmes and clientele as well."

As for the perception that the PA is synonymous with the ruling People's Action Party, Mr Tan — the Returning Officer for the past two General Elections and Presidential Elections and former Home Affairs Ministry deputy secretary — quipped: "That's a pity but it's not the PA's fault that we have the same party in power for so many years … Singaporeans have voted in the PAP for so many years, what's wrong with that anyway?"

So does the launch of the Community Engagement Programme — a nationwide, multi-ministry drive that has roped in groups such as businesses, schools and unions to foster social integration — indicate a failing in the PA's mission?

"No, no, certainly not," said Mr Tan. "The fact that we weathered Sars and Jemaah Islamiyah in recent times shows that the PA has not failed. I think if the PA had not been around, the results would have been very different.

"When an emergency arose, we were able to gather people together to have a frank discourse with the Government. The danger is if we let this diminish."

The PA's good internal and external network would serve to complement community engagement efforts, he added.

"The challenge is to make full use of the network so that we are able to deliver what is required even better."

It ropes in public relations firm to fix its image among yuppies.

The difference between PA and the PAP? Only the letter P.

Death to the Singaporean Prime Minister

Originally posted by akikonomu, but somehow the comment facility was removed. Although I have removed the earlier post, I did not remove the comment section from the post. The post and all earlier comments follow. If you want your comment to be removed please email me.

But the questions remain, who deleted the comment section, how did they get access and why?

Written by Tim Brunero
Friday, 06 January 2006

I went to Singapore a fortnight ago and it sucked so much that I’ve decided to condemn its Prime Minister to death. Here’s why…

1) The Beatings To Death

If you import heroin into Singapore, you get hanged. But if you torture then kick to death your Indonesian maid, you only get 18 years – as happened to one poor Singaporean master in 2002.

And if you order your maid out a window to hang washing and they selfishly fall to their death, they could cost you as much as three months jail or a $150 fine.

At least 147 maids have died since 1999. At least in Australia we have the decency to lock up our desperate migrants for years in the desert.

2) The Barbarism

When you flick on the TV over breakfast, you don’t expect to see a heated debate on whether rapists should be castrated or simply jailed and whipped. But that’s what you get in Singapore. Kochie would be appalled to see such an unvacuous discussion taking place before 9am.

A phone poll of viewers found 69% favoured castration after considering the issue over their Weet-Bix, while 20% opted for the soft option of jailing and whipping.

3) The Embarrassing Patheticness

The place is a teacher’s pet’s paradise. While I was there, the government issued a new order for the police to pull over more cars. Nothing unusual about that, you might think, given what we know about the Singaporean police state. Except they were pulling people up to give them “courtesy tickets” for good road behaviour. It’s hard to imagine anything more embarrassing.

4) The Exploitation

The enormous wealth of Singapore is built on its huge pool of exploited foreign labourers. Foreign maids, for example, are specifically exempted from the Employment Act which provides minimum days off and maximum weekly hours. In fact, last month a huge debate exploded over whether maids should be entitled to one day off a month. Some maids are not even paid. But on the good side, at least we know where Howard got his latest workplace changes from.

5) The Bullying and Rudeness

The first thing you notice in Singapore is that everyone wants to order you around. I got busted surreptitously eating a nut on a train when a plain-clothes inspector stepped out from among commuters. And there are bossy signs everywhere. I decided to photograph them.

According to rumour, the Holy Grail of bossy Singaporean signs is the one that tells you the penalty for not flushing the toilet. I couldn’t find one, though because even in the cruddiest places the problem has been solved: Singaporean toilets flush themselves, and without warning – often giving your genitals a soaking. And it seems many individuals have adopted the state’s arrogance. Things are rudely put to you as a fait accompli, in much the same manner as a mandatory death sentence. If you speak to a manager, you simply cop more passive aggression where you are told exactly the same thing, but with a contemptuous grin.

6) The Conmen

Thieves, charlatans and conmen are the employees of choice in many shops. Getting their attention and even the most basic information on products is the first challenge. When you finally do, you are given an elaborate theatrical display with calculators and false ledger books. While waving a carbon copy of a receipt in my face, one guy showed me how the camera he was offering for $400 was a bargain because he’d just sold one for $1600. I didn’t believe it was real, but if I did, was I supposed to be more at ease because he’d just ripped someone else off?

And when you pull your wallet out the price suddenly starts rising – with this tax and that levy. Then, when you get fed up with the snide abuse, the pressure selling starts. One guy dropped an iPod price from $375 to $300 because I walked out of the shop – but insisted on cash. When I returned with the money, the price had suddenly leapt to $345. He’d tried to get me committed by withdrawing cash – and then couldn’t even look me in the eye.

Sure, in Australia we encounter the same kind of people when we buy a house or car – but at least you can let your guard down in Harvey Norman and Woolworths.

7) The Philistines

Singapore is a cross between a hospital, a workplace and a shopping centre. The place has no soul – it’s like Canberra, but even more sterile. There is a monied middle class, but nothing that usually goes with it in the modern world. Singapore is like medieval England with more gadgets.

There is no culture, no spontaneity, no organic grit, no sophistication, no cosmopolitanism, no body politic, and no alternative ideas. But it gave me an excellent taste of what 1950’s Australia was like.

8) The Fourth Estate

Singaporean papers never get stuck into the government. When I arrived, the front page lead story in the country’s leading newspaper, The Straits Times, was about how a disgruntled taxi patron had asked for a $10 refund. The rest of the paper was full of nonsense about crime and celebrities – in other words, a lot like the Murdoch press.

The degree of censorship is so absurd that even a book for quadriplegics called Fun In Bed was banned.

9) The State Racism?

I hate to get back to the maids. But another interesting fact is that only maids from certain countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are permitted to take those jobs. Chinese (the ethnic majority in Singapore) aren’t. It seems that only darker-skinned people are deemed worthy of this demeaning work. I’m sure they’d even get a better deal working for middle-class families here in Australia – perhaps in places like Cronulla?

So what’s the conclusion for Singapore? Well it’s clean, but morally and culturally it's filthy. The virtual dictatorship that has brainwashed and stifled the people and built the country on exploitation is to blame. And those responsible – the ruling party and their cronies – should be held accountable using methods they’ll understand. They all deserve the noose.

Earlier comments:

you should post a link to where Tim posted his entry to, or a source so we can get back to him directly.


"Singapore is a paradise for teachers' pets.."

"Singapore is like medieval England but with more gadgets.."

antipathy, the Title is the link to where the article was published, I have also added a link to www.timbrunero.com.

The fun bit is: isn't that the country where John Howard was re-elected several times?

Ahahahahah...I love this guy. Who is he? Aussie journalist??

like the way he espouses the solution to solve the problem of our "barbarianism" where we talk about castration of rapists on National TV. He recommends the noose and condemns the PM to death.
The Australians are seemingly more and more similarly to the scarecrow in Oz. Searching for a brain.

Anyway, i didn't see the aforementioned incident on TV so don't quote me on its veracity.

And all this from a country that used to recently kidnap their "black aborogines" children and foster them becauses blacks were inferior and didn't deserve to raise kids. And they still ignore the problems they have as long as it is not on the East or West Coast.

hi, honestly we dun like cohooting with druggies, rapist cause we are not a penal colony like

hello, tell me how to build the world biggest reserve using only maids??? then how come the maids exporting countries are dumb enuff to let of such resources.

as for all those signs, i personally dun give a flying fuck, if you are dumb enuff to care, go ahead.

well you are rite, we hav no soul, we sold it to a guy call lee. we still dunno who got the better deal.

you are rite, The Straits Times WILL keep me sedated for a long time

as for censorship, i say only a few bks of relevance are banned.

chinese doesnt equal singaporean
we are allow to hav a chinese, malay or indian maid, but no self respecting singaporean will want to be a maid

culturally it's filthy. there is no culture, its a clean slate. blank, null nuthingness

hi, honestly we dun like cohooting with druggies, rapist cause we are not a penal colony like YOU, we arent decended frm criminals like YOU. ur great great great grand dad some really low life, so guess you can sympathise.

BTW u filty aussies trrops together wif you colonial brit master sold SIngapore and our souls to lee in the 60s, i should bitch more bout youy

Anonymous posted here but related
hi can i ask where is the newspaper reprt by the aussie rapist cum drug dealer

Anonymous posted here but related
hi i post 2 comment bout the australia being a land of criminals. can you tell where iit is now as i want to email it to the writer

It hurts, but we've to put up with it

From The Electric Paper.

Father of convicted killer Took Leng How on being abused by people he approaches to help save his son from the gallows...

Sign the Petition HERE.

By Dawn Chia
15 February 2006

FOR about three hours, he put up with harsh words and anger.

It's a price that Mr Took Long Lai, the father of convicted murderer Took Leng How, is willing to pay.

He's pinning his hopes of saving his som from the gallows on public support for his clemency petition to the President.

Took was sentenced to death last August for killing Huang Na, 8, in October 2004. (See report on facing page.)

Tired and weary, his father stood at the entrance of Admiralty MRT station, pleading with anyone who would listen:

'Please, my son Ah Hao is innocent. Will you please help us by signing this petition if you think that he is innocent?

'If not, then thank you very much for your time.'

More often than not, the reply was no.

Many shunned his soft pleas and cast disdainful looks in his direction.


Some went further. They hurled abuse at Mr Took, who was accompanied by his wife, daughter-in-law Yuli and grandson Shun Wang, yesterday afternoon.

Mr Took told The New Paper in Mandarin: 'Out of 10 people, six will scold us.

'They tell us off very rudely to stop what we're doing and a few even said we should go and die with him since he is guilty.

'It is very hurtful, but we have to put up with it. We can only cry inside.'

The 53-year-old coffee-shop owner from Penang did not want to say what other verbal abuse he got from passers-by. All he would say was that he was grateful to those who signed the petition.

He said: 'We cannot and will not scold those who hurl abuse at us. We can't force people to sign.

'All we can do is ask for the public's help and beg those who think that Ah Hao is innocent to put their names on our forms.

The family had come up with the idea together.

Mr Took declined to say how many signatures had been collected as the final tally is not in yet.

He will be in Singapore till Friday with his daughter-in-law and grandson. His wife left last night.

He is likely to continue gathering signatures until he returns to Penang.

He and his family took turns to hold out stacks of forms to the crowd.


When the rush-hour crowd started to pour out of the MRT station, the family perked up and looked for friendly faces whom they could approach.

All they saw were tired faces of commuters rushing home from work or school.

Not many stopped to listen to them or even cast a glance in their direction.

Those who paused to hear what Mr Took had to say quickly shook their heads and walked away.

A few were sympathetic.

They signed the forms and received grateful smiles from the family, together with warm handshakes and words of thanks.

A woman even bought the family some biscuits, which they accepted after much coaxing.

The tightly-knit family have not wavered in their belief that Took is innocent.

Whenever his family visited him in prison, Took had maintained that he did not kill Huang Na.

His adamant stance drove the family to hit the streets in what Mr Took terms 'our last desperate attempt to help our son'.

'Right now, we have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to but the President for help.
[Madam Yuli and her son Shun Wang at Admiralty MRT station asking the public's support for the petition father, Mr Took Long Lai, kept requesting the people to sign in his soft voice despite being abused by many.]

'Our only hope is for Singaporeans to help us.'

Mr Took declined to say how much printing the petitions cost him - 'that's not important... what's important is my son's life'.
Sign the Petition HERE.

The petition is also being circulated in Malaysia to gather more signatures to back their plea.

It is an arduous task, but Mr Took and his family had not one word of complaint.

As they looked for support, each took turns to care of 2 1/2-year-old Shun Wang, who pranced about, oblivious to his father's fate.

The lively toddler, who speaks a mixture of Mandarin and Hokkien, was able to tell us: 'Papa is in Singapore. His name is Ah Hao.

Took's great-aunt, who lives in Singapore, said Shun Wang had been asking when his father would return home.

The family arrived in Singapore at around 7am yesterday and are staying with relatives.

After a quick breakfast, Took's mother, wife and son and great-aunt spent about an hour at Changi Prison with him.

The meeting was emotional. Took's mother, who broke down after the visit, had bought a new beige Polo T-shirt with blue stripes for him.

It is her hope that he would have a chance to wear it one day. But Took himself appears to have lost hope.

His mother said: 'When we told him that we're trying to appeal for the President's clemency, he told us that it was a futile attempt.

'He seems to have fallen into despair.'

Mr Took, who visited his son without fail whenever he's in Singapore, decided to stay away yesterday.

He said: 'My heart breaks every time I see him.

'I was the one who persuaded him to give himself up when he was on the run because he has a young son and should not spend the rest of his life in hiding.

'He listened to me and now that he's sentenced to death, I regret asking him to do so.

Sign the Petition HERE.



MALAYSIAN vegetable-packer Took Leng How, 24, was found guilty last August of murdering Huang Na, 8, in a storeroom at the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

Huang Na went missing on 10 Oct 2004, while her mother was away in China.

Her disappearance sparked a search that eventually spread across the Causeway, when Took, who had been assisting the police, fled the country.

He eventually gave himself up to the Malaysian police on 30 Oct.

The next morning, back in Singapore, he led officers to Huang Na's body.

Took appealed against the conviction and death sentence, but it was overturned last month by the Court of Appeal.

His only chance now is for the President to grant him clemency.

S'pore to boost defence spending to about $10 billion

Weekend • February 18, 2006

Singapore will increase its defence expenditure by 8.5 per cent this year as the nation boosts its security to protect from terrorist attacks.

The Government will spend $10.05 billion, or 32.8 per cent of total expenditure, on defence in the year starting April 1, the Ministry of Finance said in a Budget report on Friday.

Singapore, which has said terrorism is the gravest threat to the security of its economy, spent $9.3 billion on defence last year.

Singapore has been modernising its defence forces amid the global threat of terrorism. On Dec 12, the Ministry of Defence signed an agreement with Boeing Company, the second-largest US military contractor, to deliver 12 F-15 fighter planes in the next three to four years. The agreement also includes an option for Singapore to buy another eight aircraft at a future date.

In July, former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said Singapore was an "iconic target'" for terrorists and was "very high" on a list of potential targets. The island sits alongside shipping lanes that carry half of the world's oil and a third of global trade.

Mock terrorist attacks were conducted on the public transport system on Jan 8, its biggest civil emergency exercise ever, to test preparedness after bombs ripped through London's subway last year and Madrid trains in 2004. On Monday, the Government said such events will become a regular part of city life in order to increase readiness.

Singapore arrested suspected terrorists with ties to Jemaah Islamiyah, after the 911 attacks in the United States. — Bloomberg

Some questions that pop into my mind while reading the two articles I posted about our Budget: a) Do we really need to spend so much on defence? Is it justified and is 32.8 % of the budget a large percentage (as compared to other countries)? b) Are the new budget handouts such as the 'Progress Package', 'workfare system' and the proposed negative income tax systems really applicable/effective in Singapore? Interestingly, in the previous article that I posted, it mentioned that 45 percent of the population fall into the category of 'low wage worker' who will benefit from the handouts.

Windfall For All

Budget wows with bigger-than-expected cash handouts to older and low-wage workers
Weekend • February 18, 2006
Christie Loh

Every Singaporean gets to dip into last year's harvest but the sweetest fruits will go to the truly needy. This was at the core of the Government's 2006 Budget statement on Friday when Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lee Hsien Loong unwrapped $3.6 billion worth of goodies for individuals and companies.

Taking centre-stage during his two-hour outline of the Budget for the fiscal year starting April 1 was a $2.6-billion "Progress Package" that included cold, hard cash for all Singaporeans and extra handouts for workers earning below $1,500 a month.

"Everyone contributed to our economic restructuring efforts and should now share in the fruits of growth. However I will weigh it more towards the lower-income groups, in line with our philosophy that we should progress together as one people," Mr Lee addressed Parliament in a speech titled "Building on our strengths, creating our best home".

So on May 1, all adult citizens will get a one-time 'Growth Dividend' of between $200 and $800 that can be instantly encashed upon allotment.

But the maximum sum will go to the low-wage worker. That is the Singaporean who, besides earning $24,000 or less annually, lives in a flat with an "annual value" of no more than $6,000 – a classification that includes 1, 2, 3 and most 4-room HDB flats. Falling under this category is 45 per cent of the population including lower-middle income earners who often "miss out on our social safety nets", said Mr Lee who expects the Growth Dividends to cost the Government $1.4 billion.

Low-wage workers aged 40 and above will also get a 'Workfare Bonus' ranging from $150 to $1,200 per person "as a reward for regular and productive work", said Mr Lee, who decided to be more generous than what a ministerial panel recommended recently. Instead of handing out cash only to those who earned no more than $1,200 a month, the Government will reach out to those with monthly incomes of up to $1,500 as long as they live in a property with an annual value not exceeding $10,000.

Up to 400,000 Singaporeans are expected to benefit from the Workfare Bonus totalling $400 million. Another $75 million will go to low-wage workers' Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts as an extra housing grant if they wished to buy their first homes.

Mr Lee explained that this Budget was "more targeted" in sharing surpluses with needy groups compared to the broad-based approach adopted in previous years when schemes such as rental and utilities rebates were used. Such well-worn measures, however, retained their place in this year's Budget.

The Government will waive rentals for those living in 1- and 2-room HDB flats, and dish out rebates for utilities ($60 million) and Service & Conservancy Charges ($50 million).

Besides handouts, the Government adopted ministerial suggestions to help the elderly and low-wage earners stay employable by re-creating jobs and providing incentives for firms to hire older workers.

Also part of the surplus-sharing exercise were National Service men who got one-off bonuses, and Singaporeans aged 50 and above who will get CPF top-ups for their retirement and healthcare needs.

In the area of education, all schools will get a sum of money for providing more enrichment activities, with neighbourhood schools getting double the grant per capita compared to independent and autonomous schools.

But on the corporate front, companies had received less attention, said Mr Zulkifli Baharudin, chairman of Mercy Relief and former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP).

Corporate measures were "geared towards fine-tuning the economy" and enhancing competitiveness through a $5-billion Research and Development Trust Fund and an upgraded national broadband network, said United Overseas Bank economist Ho Woei Chen who felt that specific industries including maritime, logistics and financial services were given boosters from an array of tax measures.

Overall, this is a 'people's Budget' that was more generous than expected, said Ms Ho.

Other observers noted that the so-called "sin taxes" levied on cigarettes and alcohol were not raised – unlike in previous Budgets – a move that is bound to cheer related industries and the man in the street.

Could the Government's remarkably-outstretched arm be a vote-buying tactic for the People's Action Party in the upcoming elections?

Not necessarily, said OCBC Investment Research economist Suan Teck Kin: "Even without the elections, the Government would probably still give handouts to the low-income groups because these people have been left behind. But the elections could be a catalyst for PM to be even more aggressive."

Added Mr Zulkifli: "Regardless of election talk, one thing we cannot ignore is, here could be a man who really has a heart for social issues."

Because of the Government's generosity, 2006's balance sheet is expected to see a deficit of $2.86 billion, the bulk of which would be funded by projected Net Investment Income (NII) of $2.39 billion, which comes from investing past reserves.

The rest of the deficit will be financed by funds accumulated in the Government's current term, said Prime Minister Lee.

But Mr Steve Chia, secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party, was glad to see surplus being returned to the people even though he felt that the Opposition would have to fight even harder during the elections.

"The low-income will definitely be more appreciative. That would translate into less anger against the Government and therefore their votes," he told TODAY.

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