Monday, May 25, 2015

World Heritage Site Aspirations

Cappadocia (/kæpəˈdoʊʃə/; also Capadocia; Turkish: Kapadokya) is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely covering the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey.

Cappadocia is real old. The earliest record of the name of Cappadocia dates from the late 6th century BC. It appears in the biblical account given in the book of Acts 2:9. The Cappadocians were named as one group hearing the Gospel account from Galileans in their own language on the day of Pentecost.

Cappadocia is big. The relief consists of a high plateau exceeding 1000 m in altitude, an area approximately 400 km east–west and 250 km north–south. It is pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) being the tallest at 3916 m.

Cappadocia is awesome. Sedimentary rocks formed in lakes and streams and ignimbrite deposits that erupted from ancient volcanoes eroded into a fairy tale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys. People have long utilised the region's soft stone, seeking shelter underground and carving out living quarters, places of worship, stables, and storehouses.

Cappadocia is famous. The region was used for the 1989 science fiction film "Slipstream" to depict a cult of wind worshippers. In 2010 and early 2011, the film "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" was also filmed in the Cappadocia region. The panoramas of Cappadocia are featured prominently in the cinematography of "Winter Sleep" (Turkish: Kış Uykusu), the 2014 film directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes film festival.

Cappadocia is a world heritage site. The Singappore Botanic Gardens, the picnic grounds of filipino domestics, also wants to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Liddat how to compete?

The best way to take in the spectacular panorama of Cappadocia is to go up in a hot air balloon. The only bitch is that wifi is not available at that altitude. Hence, blogging will have to take a backseat in the coming days.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Please Let Them Go

It has to be clearest signal to date that the rare sighting of a member of parliament walking in your neighborhood is imminent. Health Minister and Minister-in-charge of Ageing Issues Gan Kim Yong announced yesterday (Friday 22 May) that more than 700,000 senior Singaporeans will receive a SG50 Seniors Package.

In line with party philosophy that trampolines are preferred to safety nets, even Ah Kong strickened with dementia has to solve the Cheryl type mathematical problem to earn the freebies.
  • Complimentary admission to Gardens By The Bay is good only from June to August;
  • Complementary admission to Jurong Bird Park good only for month of June;
  • Discount for selected performances at the Esplanade good only from August to November.
  • When will the General Elections be held?

Last night Lea Salonga performed beautifully to a sell out crowd. Mostly filipino fans. Even if you were one of the outnumbered Singaporeans lost in the spectacular sneak preview of People Power - it was as if the Esplanade was teleported to the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) - you are unlikely to enjoy a discount for the two night engagement.

Unless Salonga comes back again - in August to November window - to sing what she called the "ubiquitous song of 2014". She invited the rapturous audience to join in an impromptu karaoke session. The lyrics of the Frozen princess sing-a-long are all too familiar, but we thought it sounded awfully like:

Let them go, let them go
Can't tahan them anymore

Let them go, let them go
Turn away and slam the door
We don't care
what they're going to say
Enough of the wayang already.
We're determined to VTO anyway

with apologies to Lea

Friday, May 22, 2015

Think About It

The first generation leaders were not afraid of contrarian ideas, and sparring with intellectual equals. For instance Toh Chin Chye, although over ruled, always maintained that health care should be free. What we have today is the perversion of preaching to the choir, preferably with a select audience with double digit IQs. "Let's Think About It - Episode 2" opens up with a million dollar minister driving a small Japanese make. Maybe the Mrs has the other car, or COE has breached the stratosphere. Whatever, it really sets the stage for the credibility level.

This guy pays $1,800 for "professionals" and expects daft Singaporeans to respond in droves. Are we even on the same planet?

"Salaries are being compressed" - right on, brother. He may not be invited on another panel but truth, expressed with rare honesty, is always refreshing.

"To hire a foreigner is not cheap" - so why descriminate against home grown? Clue: predilection for aliens, even married one.

30% to 40% of his nursing staff are foreigners - and he wants more. He is probably tired of scolding Singaporeans for their “poor upbringing” just because some patrons did return their trays after dining at hawker centres.

Her half of Singaporeans won't slave long hours like her half of Vietnamese staff - Saigon has been renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Why not rename Singapore as Little Red Saigon?

"When was the last time we had a serious recession" - how the hell does he know? This fellow had a kevlar plated iron rice bowl since day one. Maybe when he is kicked out like George Yeo's GRC team, he will appreciate what it feels like to be displaced by foreign talents, armed with a resume padded with degree mill certificates.

"I foresee a day when Singaporeans may have to adjust" - not contented to play the movie role of a horrible person, this character starts to behave like one, talking down to a fellow Singaporean who dare justify hiring a domestic help to look after grandparents, parents and the kids while husband and wife slough it out in the workplace to make sure the Medishield Life premiums will be paid on time.

Fortunately, it's Friday and we don't have to put up with any more crap for the week. Instead, we can sit back and listen to Lea Salonga singing for her supper, with well-loved favourites from Miss Saigon, Les Misérables and Frozen. That's the way it should be, foreigners performing for us, not the other way round.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Betting The Future

Astrologer Joan Quigley claimed in her memoir titled "What Does Joan Say?" that it was a question that the former president habitually asked Mrs Ronald Reagan. In an interview with “CBS Evening News” in 1989, after Reagan left office, Miss Quigley said that after reading the horoscope of the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, she concluded that he was intelligent and open to new ideas and persuaded Mrs Reagan to press her husband to abandon his view of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” If Nancy Reagan employing the services of a professional astrologer sounds a bit weird, she's not alone.

Someone else seems to be putting much faith in a third party researcher to shape the future of our country. Blackbox Research's "YouKnowAnot" bulletin of April 2015 has been quoted as saying, "Our survey findings indicate that current community sentiment points to much greater prospects for an early election."

The interesting factoid is that Blackbox reported that "overall satisfaction with the Government has risen eight points from a year ago." While not exactly annus horribilis, the past year has hardly been smooth sailing, so that finding has to be debatable.

Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah seems less optimistic, sharing that “I don’t speculate on outcomes and things like that. As you can see in the British elections, one should not really try to second guess what will happen."

Whatever happens, the prime minister has told the media that, apropos of speculation about timing of the General Election that must be held before January 2017, "the baby has already been conceived earlier on." If the choice of analogy is accurate, the nine month clock has started ticking. As any mother knows, the outcome can be a successful birth or end in tragedy, such as a spontaneous expulsion of the fetus due to unforeseen developments. Even Nostradamus would hesitate to bet on a blackbox.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hard Talks About Singapore

...your system is coming to a crossroads or a turning point...
It was not the kind of soft balls lobbed by a compliant press that Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was accustomed to. At the "An Investigative Interview: Singapore 50 years After Independence" segment of the 45th Gallen Symposium, host BBC HARDtalk presenter Stephen Sackur was pulling no punches.
  • Do believe in Singapore exceptionalism?
  • You know what, Singapore's gone as far as it can go, there are other places we can put our money and see it bear fruit better than Singapore in the future.
  • And being constant, does that mean that Lee Kuan Yew's family will always be in charge?
Taking in the cue that Sackur might not be slammed with the Protection from Harassment Act - the weapon of choice these days - others joined in the feeding frenzy. A member from Mexico steered straight into the hornets' nest:
Given your determination to control immigration, could that run into a clash with your desire to see foreign companies headquartered in Singapore, developing their operations in Singapore, because one might run against the other?

A member from Uganda invoked the spirit of Harry Truman,  admired for his plainspoken common sense, his zero tolerance policy for bullshit, his sharp wit, and blunt honesty:
Does Singapore today consider itself a developed country in the Harry Truman sense of "developed" and "development"?

The member from Armenia probably heard stories about our civil servants veering on the side of the political wind:
Is it (Singapore development) thanks to the political will, or did it start from the bottom civil or economic level? And what is the level of democracy between the political right and the economic right?

And then there was the surprising lesson from China. Their representative, despite not having visited the country, saw through the smokescreen - one haze issue we can't pin blame on the Indonesians - mouthed the Amos Yee question:
But you mentioned something like you would actually make life harder for people who are not willing to work in Singapore...  you know if your society works this way, won't you deprive the freedom of people who just want to be wild and anti-establishment?

Sackur must have been losing patience with the "official lines" that Tharman was obviously regurgitating, especially when his pointed question about a social safety net was parried with another "clever" one-liner. Sackur, at wits' end:
I believe in the sometimes simplicity of yes-or-no answers. What about this this idea of a safety net? Does Singapore believe in the notion of a safety net for those who fall between the cracks of a successful economy?

Tharman's answer ("I believe in the notion of a trampoline.") has to those heartless responses that is worthy of 3 weeks' jail for a tight smack. So what happens to those who are physically or mentally unable to climb onto the trampoline without assistance, and can't possibly survive a leap into the air without incurring further damage to the body or mind? Sackur surmises it best: "You mean you're a bit more ruthless. Is that what you're saying?"

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mocking God

Whilst a graduate student at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Jason Rosenhouse was surprised when his active Christian friends were uninterested in accompanying him to hear the famous evangelist Luis Palau preach. The incongruity of the outspoken unbeliever - Rousenhouse is a "nonreligious mathematician" and author of "Among the Creationists, Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line" -  trying to persuade his believing but reluctant friends to see a world-renown preacher in action was one for the books.

Rosenhouse wasn't impressed with the Bible-thumping sermon, and was surprised to see at least a dozen people going forward in response to the inevitable altar call at the ending. While he was wondering if something was wrong with himself for feeling unmoved, one of his Christian friends who did accompany him to the tent meeting said, "I hate this part, pressuring people to make a public display of faith."

Palau's histrionics were, for his friends, a caricature of Christianity, wrote Rosenhouse. Whereas he found the proceedings slightly silly, they found them offensive. It was his introduction to very different facets of modern American Christianity.

We have our own homegrown oddities, one who cajoled heartlanders to "give until they bleed", one who dabble in magic tricks to preach about real miracles, and one who perverted a good Samaritan role into a Dominatrix charade. The mother who believes that her son is "a fantastic child, perhaps born in the wrong country" should take heart that there is still a compassionate God. It's the misguided charlatans who give him a bad name.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Greying Prison Population

This is the kind of statistics that set you wondering. Of the convicted penal inmate population languishing in Singapore jails, some 27.7 percent are aged 51 and older as of 31 December 2014, a significant jump from the 16.8 percent of 2010. The figures for younger folk, of ages 50 and below, are lower, indicating a healthier downward decline. For sanity's sake, let's assume our youngsters are better behaved, and not that they can better afford clever lawyers.

The assistant director of the Prisons' building management department would only comment on the additional facilities required by elderly inmates, justifying the invitation to tender for grab-bars, hand-rails, self-closing taps and other senior citizen friendly enhancements to be installed in the jail cells. We are not told why more old folks are being locked up. Were they arrested for not having the prerequisite licence to collect cardboard from used cartons or selling tissue paper from table to table? Were they put away because they missed a town council tariff and lacked the cash for the fine? Here's a thought to keep you awake nights: are they preparing for a tsunami of silver haired inmates who are too destitute to afford the inflated Medishield Life premiums?

Instead of dwelling on the hardware aspects of the penal infrastructure, the associate director of one legal firm urged the authorities to allow for more "age- appropriate sentences" and early release for senior inmates with low risk of re-offending. Instead of locking up everyone at the slightest whim - the way they sweep up all the beggars and cart them to Pelangi Village to present the false facade of a youthful nation - they should ask themselves if prison is the right place to visit Ah Kong.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Colourful Language

We once had a colleague who never used a swear word in his whole 40 years on earth. When he got really angry, it was like, what the fish. For minor disasters, the strongest utterance was, "Oh, sugar!" I guess with the diaphanous demarcation drawn between vulgarity and obscenity, one has to be careful with choice Anglo Saxon words.

The White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington is ostensibly an evening when the president and the press can come together to let their hair down and exchange barbs. But even the president of the most powerful nation on the planet tries to avoid the odd expletive deleted. From the official White House transcript:
"After the midterm elections, my advisors asked me, "Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?" And I said, "Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.’" (Laughter and applause.)

Take executive action on immigration? Bucket. (Laughter.) New climate regulations? Bucket. It’s the right thing to do. (Laughter and applause.)"

Doesn't exactly carry the same panache, does it? Granted, it's not as gauche as the pork-chop soup on tap gaffe uttered by another dinner speaker from the Tropics, but we do know some blue noses will be upset if the more accurate term was deployed. Surely the man who can authorise drone strikes on the bad guys shouldn't have to cull his vocabulary. Maybe he does. All said and done, "Bucket, yay, LKY is dead" would make Shakespeare weep.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dumb Moves And Smart Moves

On April 23, 1985, the Coca-Cola Company took arguably the biggest risk in consumer goods history by announcing that it was changing the formula for the world's most popular soft drink. And spawned an avalanche of consumer scorn the likes of which no business has ever seen.

The company had intended to re-energize its Coca-Cola brand and the cola category in its largest market, the United States. In 1983, Coke’s market share had slipped to an all-time low of just under 24 per cent.

The firestorm ended with the return of the original formula, rebranded Coca-Cola classic, a few months later. The return of original formula Coca-Cola on July 11, 1985, put the cap on 79 days that revolutionized the soft-drink industry, and stands today as testimony to the power of taking intelligent risks, even when they don't quite work as intended.

Conspiracy theorists have gone so far as to say the whole thing had been planned as a deliberate marketing ploy to reaffirm public affection for Coca-Cola. After all, what better way to make someone appreciate the value of your global brand than to withdraw it completely?

"Some critics will say Coca-Cola made a marketing mistake, some cynics will say that we planned the whole thing," said chief operating officer Donald Keough at the time. "The truth is we are not that dumb, and we are not that smart."

We just had a wild two weeks - actually 18 days - when the world press was galvanised to see  a child shackled in chains for tarnishing the name of somebody's papa. Turns out the whole exercise was just to "protect the minds of vulnerable people from corrupting influences", and “avoid sexual experimentation”. That was the court ruling on obscenity. The religious hurt was a bit murky, but the learned judge wrote in paragraph 40, page 11 of 15 pages, "It does not require proof that the religious feelings were in fact wounded." So was it a smart move to skip the elephant in the room? Was the whole thing planned as a deliberate ploy to reaffirm public affection?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The End Game Is Near

The outside world may have awaited anxiously for the outcome of the court case yesterday - including The Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and International Business Times - but we who are born and bred here know that the result is a foregone conclusion.

Grace Fu, Singapore’s second minister for foreign affairs, was quoted by The Associated Press (AP) as saying she wasn’t concerned about the international response to the image of a teen shackled for speaking his mind online. This is one foreign minister who cares not an iota about our soiled reputation as a global city. Instead, she's more concerned "my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living"  if the drop in income "is tilted further in the future".
Not everyone is in the game for the money. Acting pro-bono, defence lawyer Alfred Dodwell enjoined out of conscience (?) in the David-Goliath face-off, except that in this version, the small boy gets to lose. Christians ought to be offended by this rewrite of the biblical story. From the detritus of the mock battle, all that's salvageable are some quotable quotes. :
  • “He is only 16 years old. Don’t make him out to be a demon.”
  • “I won’t say he’s a man of conviction, but he’s certainly a kid of conviction.”
  • “Amos is very positive; he believes there’s nothing wrong and stands by what he says and this is the very reason why he is in remand, because he refuses to be gagged.”
  • “We may not agree with him on what he has posted… (but) if it is a crime it has to be proven in the court of law.”
Well, the court has ruled, but the truth is still out there. When courts are seen to be unfair, we become more fearful and less able to trust each other. We end up divisive, spending more effort protecting our own turf because we don’t believe the system is there to back us up. Nation building requires more work than solving SuDoku puzzles, for which there are plenty of sites to download scripts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jail As A Positive Experience

In 1961, Nelson Mandela realized that non-violent measures in protest of the South African government’s policy of apartheid would not be successful, and formed Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a militant wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

A raid on the ANC hideout of Lilliesleaf farm in Rivonia produced documents describing MK’s plans for attacks and guerilla warfare. The government charged 11 ANC leaders, including Mandela, with crimes under the 1962 Sabotage Act. In court, Mandela chose not to take the witness stand. Instead, from the dock, he admitted to many of the charges against him and defended his use of violence:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

If anyone attempted to make a mockery of a defence for violence, it has to be the misguided sycophant who told the court on Monday that he wanted to teach his victim “a lesson” for disrespecting Singapore’s former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew:
"This child is so disobedient that even the elders, parents, police, the court and the society will not have any impact on him.... I remember how arrogant he was…That’s why I thought by giving him one slap would instill fear in him, and also let him know what are the ways of the world.”

Whatever the aberrations of the case, he got one part right. It was never about religion or obscenity. The three weeks in jail meted to him for a slap that was probably heard around the world will pass quickly, but the on-going lessons to be learned will be forever embedded in our history books.

It has been said that Robben Island became the crucible which transformed Mandela. He emerged from it the mature leader who would fight and win the great political battles that created a new democratic South Africa. Let's hope that Changi Prison will also be a transforming experience.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Flavours Of Justice In Singapore

The 49-year-old slapper who was finally charged in court after 2 whole weeks - the equivalent of light years in internet time - said he “wanted the assault to be publicised so that the world at large would know." He should have learnt from his young victim that a less painful way to achieve instant fame is to post a YouTube video.

Whatever his motivations, the man pleaded to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt by forcefully slapping the left side of the teenager’s face, causing him to suffer pain. The arresting authorities must have assumed physical pain, evidenced by the red swelling obvious in the widely circulated photo images. Psychological trauma, due to being shackled in cuffs and chains, matter not to these sadistic types. The legal issue worthy of note here is that voluntarily causing hurt is a non-arrestable offence in Singapore.

Upon arrival at the scene, the police is supposed to assess the situation and determine whether the fracas involving a crime is categorised as an arrestable offence under the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code. Which explains why many taxi drivers at the receiving end of a drunken passenger's fist often wonder if being a punching bag is written into their job description.

The following are some examples of arrestable offences:
  1. Unlawful assemblies or rioting
  2. Impersonation of a public servant
  3. Obstructing a public servant in his duties, or threatening a public servant
  4. Affray (Fighting in public places)
  5. Fouling the water of a public spring or reservoir
  6. Driving rashly or negligently
  7. Obscene acts in public
  8. Rape
  9. Theft and robbery
  10. Criminal trespass
  11. Assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty (molest)
  12. Acts or attempts that cause or can cause death, including suicide, murder, or other rash acts
  13. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
  14. Voluntarily causing hurt with a dangerous weapon
Maybe it was grievous hurt (item 13) that prompted the police to take action. More likely it has to be the potential political fallout following should the assailant be let off easy. But that would make it hard to explain why a decorated grassroots leader is permitted to make well publicised threats of physical violence without losing sleep. Almost as hard as explaining why Yaacob Ibrahim is saying the evidence for shutting down a website is in hand when the court case has yet to be convened.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Shackled By The Law

Concerns about the use of shackles on juveniles in court first prompted two U.S. lawmakers, Rep. Bruce Morris of Norwalk and Rep. Toni Walker of New Haven, to introduce legislation to limit the use of restraints. Thanks to their perseverance, effective 5 April 2015, an administrative order from Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield now require individual judges to make case-by-case determinations. If a judge decides restraints are necessary — reasons could include being disruptive or noncompliant or posing a risk — there must be a written finding of fact.

The Washington Post first wrote about the efforts of defense attorneys to have the shackles removed from their clients last year. Court officials and judges have repeatedly fought against removing the shackles, claiming that restraints ensure safety. Routine shackling of youthful offenders has been abandoned by many jurisdictions as unnecessary, demeaning and counter to the juvenile justice system’s aim of rehabilitating, not punishing, youth.

While some say the restraints keep defendants and observers safe in situations that can become tense, opponents pointed out that adult defendants in the same courthouse, even those who have been convicted of violent crimes, can have their restraints removed in court.

Social workers at the detention centers are responsible for screening children for risk of escape or dangerous behavior. “We did not want solely a custodial person — whose frame of reference is security — to make that decision,” but to have the assessment informed by social science, said Stephen Grant, the executive director of court support services for the judicial branch. “We’re very sensitive to not further traumatizing a kid whose life is in chaos. It’s a balance.”

That's the difference between the United States and Singapore.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nathan Had A Close Shave

"And so I entered the employment of the Japanese civilian police (Keimubu), in which I stayed for the rest of the war, until the Japanese surrender," wrote S R Nathan in his book, "An Unexpected Journey, Path to the Presidency". His loyal service with the Nips would see him go through three inspector-generals of police (IGP).

At the police headquarters in Johore Bahru, a report was received stating that the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) had attacked and occupied Segamat town for a few hours.

In late 1944, Nathan was asked by the IGP to accompany him on an inspection visit to a police post deep in the Kota Tinggi-Kluang triangle. Escorted by a platoon from the Special Police force, the Tokubetsu Keisatsu Tai, they arrived at the operational headquarters of the MPAJA Independent Regiment only to find it had been vacated earlier. On the return trip, there was an exchange of gunfire near Kangkar Sisir, the designated launch pick-up point. While washing up with the river water, Nathan thought the sting on his neck was an insect bite.

It was at the Johore Bahru General Hospital a few days later, where he had sought medication for a cold, that the examining doctor told him the "bite" was a gunfire wound: "My boy, you are damned lucky. Had it been half-an-inch different you would have been dead." Three bullets had grazed his neck.

Informed, the IGP said he must have been the intended target, as Nathan was standing just behind him. As compensation, he was rewarded with an envelope of money and cartons of cigarettes which, said Nathan, fetched more than a month's salary in the black market. Decades later, the man would only accept hard cash, in the order of taxpayer millions.
In white shirt, third from left, cuddling puppy

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Difference Of Perspective

It was Lee Hsien Loong who asked a student at a NUS ministerial forum in 2011: "Do you believe everything you read in the Straits Times?"

Not if ST is determined to sink lower than the murky depths of the 153rd position, a drop of 3 places from last year's ranking of 150, out of a total of 180 countries and territories. The 2015 ranking of 153 is the lowest-ever ranking the Republic has been given by watchdog group Reporters Without Borders in its annual evaluation.

In the same mean spirit of the other slanted ST report that gave the impression Amos' mother filed a police report to have her son arrested, this time the story telling nuanced that Mr Vincent Law, a family counselor and faithful Christian, had refused to bail Amos out a second time and had given up on his lost cause.

An interview with a more credible online source revealed that Mr Law did extended an offer to bail him out again. It was Amos himself who declined the act of Christian charity, on grounds of refusal to abide by the onerous bail conditions, as he had no wish to be gagged by anyone. Something along the lines of give me liberty, or give me death, but less dramatic.

Cognizant of the youth's stand on principles, Mr Law had no recourse but to discharge himself as the bailor.

We are told that on the first occasion of the bail fiasco, Mr Law made it clear that he is of Christian persuasion and asked if Amos had any problems with that. After all, the boy had said that some Christians crave for power while giving the impression of being compassionate. Sets you thinking about Kong Hee building a mega singing career for his wife, and Lawrence Khong kicking his daughter out of the house while she was heavy with child.

“No, no, its fine,” Mr Law recalled Amos saying in response to his declaration. Once again, the boy demonstrated he is more mature than his years, “Just like, as much as I may not agree with Lee Kuan Yew’s policies but we can still have a dip in the same swimming pool.”

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Height Of Fabrication

"Town council dispute not political, says MND" is the new standard set of fabrications now foisted on us as gospel truth by the mainstream media. In like vein, a website has been shut down not because it has been accused of inciting anti-foreigner sentiments, but because "they chose to take their site offline". If that's not the height of ridicule, the subject of a Protection Order lodged by a certain pink blogger is joining in the chorus, "This wasn't a politically motivated action. We see it as a signal by the MDA to get online media to practice responsible journalism." This coming from the "satirical" group who published, "Dear XX, if you have high fever, will your plastic nose melt?"

The double standard gets more devious. On Thursday the court will deliberate on whether a child made offensive remarks against religion and circulated obscene images. Never mind if the world press knows better, that the real transgression was fleshing out the true horror story. As for the obscene image, singular, it was just vivid imagery of Margaret Thatcher's own wet dream, the lady who unashamedly declared, "He was never wrong," lying back and thinking of England Singapore. Compare that to a more wicked photoshop fail circulating online, a recognisable chap in a judge's wig buggering an under aged child. That's more than SG50 shades of undermining the judicial system, alleged pedophilia, and blemish of a cult figure in one go.

Before the advent of the internet, the former editor-in-chief of the The Straits Times (ST) Cheong Yip Seng had already faced the challenge of fabrications. In "OB Markers: My Straits Times Story" he defines "Out of Bounds" markers as the shifting line between which issues are 'sensitive' and which are not. "I will break your neck," Cheong describes Lee as telling him when a rookie reporter tried to make a case for not imposing an embargo on a nasty speech the Prime Minister had made. Now that the news is in the iClouds, watch out for falling bones.

Monday, May 4, 2015

From First World To Banana Republic

His son has called for further reflection on how best to remember the late "papa and yeye", whose demise boosted champagne sales in some quarters, saying that any decision must "stand the test of time". The deceased, when not connected to an artificial ventilator, had refused to allow statues of himself and rarely lent his name to institutions, despite dominating politics for half a century.

Still, some have managed to work around his expressed wishes, the most notable being the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Before things get carried away, the boot-lickers should realise there is a fine line between hero worship and sick humour. Imprinting his image on Singapore's currency will bring back horrible memories of the banana notes when Singapore was Syonan-to (昭南島 Shōnan-tō). And that quip of Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, at the Bandung Conference in 1955, “Lee is like a banana – yellow of skin, white underneath.”

The late Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (Tamil: லக்ஷமன் கதிர்காமர், Sinhalese: ලක්ශමන් කදිර්ගාමර් ) had a fine and refined sense of humour.  At an after-dinner speech to congratulate the Sri Lankan cricket team in London, shortly before he was assassinated by a LTTE sniper in Colombo, he recounted the story of how the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had once wanted to change the name of his country to "Idi".

Amin instructed his foreign minister to canvas world opinion and return in two weeks. When he did not do so, he was summoned before the megalomaniac to explain.

The Ugandan foreign minister said: "Mr President, I have been informed that there is a country called Cyprus. Its citizens are called Cypriots. If we change the name of our country to 'Idi', our citizens would be called 'Idiots'."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Singapore No Longer Safe

One may fault the female A*STAR researcher for walking a dimly lit path unescorted, but nobody could imagine a child would be assaulted in front of the Family Justice Courts building. In broad daylight, in the vicinity of the subordinate courts complex where uniformed policemen are usually milling around. And then there're the scum bags who give paparazzi a bad name, neither rendering assistance to the victim or giving chase after the assailant.

Cookie monsters galore
From whence did law and order descend to such a hellish state in safe haven of Singapore? Some may trace it all the way back to when a heavy hand was laid on the cheek of Dhanabalan, the gory account of which is found on page 150 of Ross Worthington's book, "Governance in Singapore", available at the Lee Kong Chian reference library. Others may point towards the lack of action from the Singapore Police Force, despite multiple reports already filed against one Jason Tan, the politically protected advocate of child abuse. And it looks like he's getting away with his brand of violence too.

Even the taciturn Minister of Law had to draw a line on the brazen attack.
"Amos Yee was assaulted as he was going to court today. That is quite unacceptable.
Rule of Law means respecting the legal process. If everyone starts taking the law into his or her own hands, then we will no longer be a civilised society."

The prime minister may make political mileage out of advocating stronger action against the ISIS at the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, but the real terror is already in town.