Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Were the Coldstore detainees communists, progressives or leftists?

In Uncategorized on 28/02/2014 at 4:31 am

The publication of a book on the 50th anniversary and the MediaCorp documentary (funded by MDA) got TOC activists pretty emotional about whether we were told to the truth about these two events.

They were not the only ones. When TRE republished my piece on Dr Lee Siew Choh, this post appeared

Lim Chin Siong:

with so many books and videos banned, Sporeans not getting the true history of Spore, I hope somehow, TRE or any social media can dedicate a section of their website to tell the true story of Spore.
I am sick and tired of watching NDP after NDP depicting the same story of how Spore turned to a modern city (by the monkeys in white) from an island with a lion spotted a certain man!
I searched and nothing much was told about the man Lim Chin Siong, who was accused as a communist but never proven!

“What is the truth?” and “What is history?”. These are eternal questions for philosophers not for mere mortals.  So what about settling for a narrative of Lim Chin Siong and allies that is objective, balanced, non-judgemental and entertaining?

There is a book, that though, published by a govt agency (National Museum), that does these things: “S’pore: A Biography”*

The writers avoid the term “communists” in describing Lim Chin Siong and friends. When they are called “communists”, it’s LKY, the British etc who are using the term. Lim Chin Siong’s denials are given extensive coverage. Unlike  TOC’s favourite “historian”  Dr Ping Tjin Thum (P.J. Thum), there is no romaticising of Lim and friends by calling them “progressives’. They are described as “radical anti-colonialist leftists”. This, I think, is a pretty fair, neutral description that avoids the emotional laden terms used by LKY or Dr Thum.

The authors go on to say that they got the impression (based on Fong Swee Suan’s recollections)  that the views of people like Lim and Fong on the best political model for S’pore (and Malaya) were evolving, they were “experimenting, weighing up the options”. They tell us that Lim said he was “not [yey] anti-communist”.

They also give the context within which the words and actions of Lim and Fong were viewed. There were demonstrations, violence (girls from Nanyang Girls’ School threw acid at their principal’s face), and the memory of the Malayan Emergency was ever-present. These are things that Dr Thum glides over when he talks of the Malayan Communist Party saying it had given up violence in liberating S’pore (google him up or search the TOC website for articles containing his tots). These were things my parents talked about when they told me of the period (I was born in 1955).

BTW, one of these days I’ll muse about the three narratives of Coldstore: the Hard Truth version propagated by the constructive, nation-buildingl media, Dr Thum’s version propagated by TOC, and the conventional academic narrative (which I largely accept), and which sadly not propagated by anyone, even though this narrative is not banned by the govt. History may be written by the victors, but thank god for academics who poke holes in the official narrative.


*The authors, Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow (a name that itself would seem to encapsulate much of Singapore’s history) have carefully tread a narrow path between a definitive (i.e. worthy but dull) history and a popular (i.e. readable but light) treatment of Asia’s only city-state…. But Frost and Balasingamchow have, through a judicious selection of anecdote and primary sources, tied together with just the right amount of analysis and a judicious application of drama, teased out a narrative that both interests and flows, complemented by beautifully-rendered and a propos illustrations.!

Update at 5.05am: Another link describing the book

What does S’pore have in common with US, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Philippines,?

In Uncategorized on 23/02/2014 at 4:24 am

The only countries that have laws against jaywalking is the answer.

This BBC Online article on jaywalking in the US reminded me that when I went to study in London, I waz surprised that I could jaywalk. I had tot that jaywalking was a British inheritance and the absence of penalties in M’sia was ’cause it was M’sia leh where laws are never enforced. Article says: “Even in Singapore, where repeated jaywalking offences can lead to a $1,000 fine or a six month jail term, rules are routinely flouted.”. Glad to read that the usual suspects who compare us to the sheep of Animal Farm are wrong: some of the time perhaps?

In the US, [C]ar lobby groups also started taking over school safety education, stressing that “streets are for cars and children need to stay out of them”. Anti-jaywalking laws were adopted in many cities in the late 1920s, and became the norm by the 1930s.


*Juz before going to London, I had been caught jaywalking at Hill St by a Vigilante Corps officer.  No action was taken against me because I told his superior that the light had already turned red, stopping traffic, when I crossed the street. Was I expected to walk to the crossing, then wait for the light to turn red again?  It was a one-way street and there was no traffic because of the red light. He saw my point.

Useful articles from S’pore Biz Review

In Uncategorized on 16/02/2014 at 4:23 am

Analysts views on Reits in Nay Yr

Charts on banks’ loans etc

“Dissident Voices”

In Uncategorized on 14/02/2014 at 4:43 am

When I opened a copy of my friend’s latest book “Dissident Voices”, and saw the dissidents featured (Lim Chin Siong, Catherine Lim, Ong Eng Guan, David Marshall, Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew, Said Zahari, Tan Wah Piow, Francis Seow and Vincent Cheng Lim), I tot how come no JBJ* and Lee Siew Choh? After all, they too stood firm on their convictions despite the odds. And they too paid a heavy toll for their beliefs … But they never broke. In fact, Catherine Lim is a nobody when compared to those giants, JBJ and Lee.

When we met, he explained to me that he and Marshall Cavendish (the publisher) had agreed a tentative list of names. More than one book was needed to do justice to the names on the list.. The author thought the subjects he chose for the book “S’pore Dissidents” would resonate more with readers who wanted to know more about personalities who dared to be different – and paid a price. There are plans for another volume to cover JBJ and Lee Siew Choh for sure. Other names that could appear are: Alfian Saat, Martyn See, Ng Ho, Low Thia Khiang, Ong Teng Cheong, Devan Nair, Chee Soon Juan, Ho Kwong Ping and Teo Soh Lung.

If he included co-driver Low and Mad Dog (or is it  Coyote?) Chee, what about Chiam? As said, the list is being worked out, so don’t get worked up if your hero is left out. Just tell me and I’ll tell the author. BTW, Ng Ho is the father of another friend. Both father and son were detained under ISA. Despite being detained, my friend is a true-blue S’porean patriot and a poster boy for the meritocracy preached and practiced by the PAP Old Guard: example all his grandchildren are now in elite schools despite him being poor when young.

Whatever it is, the proposed list doesn’t do justice to the contemporary scene of voices. Voices like TOC, TRE and Alex Au. Maybe a third volume is needed? Watch and wait. Let volume II come out first.

Coming back to “Dissident Voices”, it’s written in straight-forward prose. ST’s style of writing at its best.

People of around my generation should read it to refresh or correct their memories, impressions of the late 50s and early 60s because the book covers Lim Chin Siong, Ong Eng Guan, David Marshall, Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew and Said Zahari. The other four are “dissidents” from other more recent periods.

Younger S’poreans should read it because it tells them a bit of the history of S’pore: about S’poreans who stood firm on their convictions despite the odds. And all but Marshall and Catherine Lim paid a heavy toll for their beliefs – deprivations, long prison terms, lonely lives in self-imposed exile. But they never broke.

They may learn of a time (late 50s, early 60s) when being called a “socialist” was not a sneer or an insult: even one LKY was proud to identify himself as a “socialist”. They may also learn that leaders can come from any level of society, and that it wasn’t necessary to have good academic results to be a leader: the ability to sway the masses was what counted. They may start to understand the background of today’s SAP schools, and why there are older S’poreans who decry the schools’ as an insult to local Chinese culture and traditions.

Readers of this blog like Jack, AuntieLucia etc should encourage their younger relations to read the book. Maybe even buy copies as birthday presents or rewards. Its prose is simple enough for secondary school kids who can learn that once upon a time life was hard, really hard and when S’poreans could not be called apathetic. Related posts:

More about the author’s background:


- Publisher’s media release



One of the first of its kind–this book

Introduces ten unique individuals who stood

by their beliefs and the ultimate price they

paid for that legacy.

The personalities featured are:

Lim Chin Siong, Catherine Lim,

Ong Eng Guan, David Marshall,

Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew,

Said Zahari, Tan Wah Piow, Francis Seow and

Vincent Cheng


They stood firm on their convictions despite the odds. Some paid a heavy toll for

their beliefs – deprivations, long prison terms, lonely lives in self-imposed exile. But

they never broke. Some will say the unflinching attitude of these dissidents against

what they perceived as coercive authority has been an exercise in futility. Yet other

say the course of Singapore’s history might have been altered if their will had


Their stories need to be told. The first of it’s kind, this book will inform and educate

rather than to glorify their tough stance. These short memoirs are a record of

human endurance, exemplifying the extremes sacrifices some people will make in

pursuit of their ideals.

Written by veteran journalist and author Clement Mesenas, this book chronicles the

lives of ten leading dissidents.


Clement Mesenas started his career in The Straits Times in 1968, cutting his teeth in

journalism as a young crime reporter before moving on to the sub-editors desk and

then to the field of magazine publishing. He left Singapore in 1979 to become

managing editor of the Kuwait Times for a decade before moving to the Gulf News in

Dubai, where he was deputy editor for another decade. He returned to Singapore in

2000 to join MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper as one of its pioneering editors, before

he retired in 2011. He now publishes a number of community publications and is

working towards establishing a global network through digital media platforms.


*Didn’t expect Chiam or Dr Chee to appear as they are still active politicians. As to Low, bet you he’d sue if he was called a dissident. He is the PAP’s self-appointed co-driver, a courtier who accepts the PAP’s hegemony. BTW, seems the co-driver and courtier needs a good accountant. Wonder what my friend Eric Tan is doing now? Smiling?

The problem with universal benefits

In Uncategorized on 09/02/2014 at 4:39 am

When I read the u/m from BBC Online, I could help but think about the criticism of the S’pore govt’s policy of mean-testing welfare, healthcare etc.

Mail, columnist Tom Utley wonders at the “bonkers” thinking that awarded him a 60+ Oyster Freedom Pass to travel in London free-of-charge, saving him £15,000 to spend on booze and fags when he’s “financially better off at 60 than I’ve ever been before”.

There are issues with mean-testing and universal benefits. It all depend on one’s objectives. And it isn’t always true that means testing saves tax-payers money. Systems, processes and people are needed to means test. They too cost money. Note that even our travel concessions for the elderly are not means tested.

Raffles Place, Padang area in an alternate universe?

In Uncategorized on 11/01/2014 at 4:41 am

A glimpse of a S’pore if the present lot of SAF generals and admirals in the cabinet (and BG Yeo) had been in charge of S’pore in the early 60s instead of LKY, Dr Goh etc. Going by the performance of LHL, Teo, Lui, kee Chui and Tan (and BG Yeo) over the last few yrs, Raffles Place and the Padang would be like the biz and administrative hubs of Yangon shown in the video in

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin.

No other Asean round-up news this week. Keep an eye on Thailand, the problems there are a gd ad and PR for the PAP

11 finance” movies worth watching over hols

In Uncategorized on 25/12/2013 at 4:49 am
 ‘Wolf’ Martin Scorsese’s film about Jordan Belfort is set join a long list of Wall Street movies that are focused more on frat-boy antics than financial wizardry.

The caricatures personified by Mr. Belfort, Gordon Gekko and the brokers in “Boiler Room” are well-known. “Boiler Room” even includes a long scene with the characters quoting from “Wall Street.”

Here are options for 10 very good (and some so bad they’re great) movies on finance that we’d rather see instead of spending time with our family this holiday.

  1. Trading Places” Money quote: “The people who own the pork belly contracts are saying, ‘Hey, we’re losing all our damn money, and Christmas is around the corner, and I ain’t gonna have no money to buy my son the G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip!'”
  2. Floored” Money quote: Almost every quote in this documentary on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is unprintable.
  3. Barbarians at the Gate” Money quote: “Kravis will eat you alive if you let him in.”
  4. The Secret of My Success” Money quote: “That was the best damn memo I ever read.”
  5. Other People’s Money” Money quote: “I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company?”
  6. Working Girl” Money quote: “I have a head for business and a bod for sin. Is there anything wrong with that?”
  7. Rogue Trader” Money quote: “One of our traders in Singapore got drunk the other night and pulled a moon.”
  8. American Psycho” Money quote: “I can’t believe that Bryce prefers Van Patton’s card to mine.”
  9. Too Big to Fail” Money quote: “We don’t do this now, we won’t have an economy on Monday.”
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life.” Money quote: “Look, we’re still in business, we’ve got two bucks left!” This 1946 film may be the last time a banker was portrayed on film as a decent person.       From NYT’s DealBook

Pisa’s defects as the benchmark of educational excellence

In Uncategorized on 16/12/2013 at 4:40 am

Yes, I’m making a conscious effort to sit down and shut up on the two topical issues of the day: the riot and Breakfast Network’s suicide. Both issues have had some netizens talking sense, but more often than not rubbish.

The Pisa league table which ranks test results of students from 65 countries is taken very seriously b y the govt and media here because S’pore’s educatio system does very well on the results. They can throw this ranking at the face of pushy, aggressive parents whose kids can’t get into RI, St Nick or SCGS, or at the kay pohs who believe that ang mohs are tua kees (ang mohs do badly relative to the slit eyes of East Asia).

Maths scores

But do realise that S’pore is being compared to entire countries

Are regions a better way of measuring results?

The headline results for these tests are about the performance of countries or at least big Chinese regional education systems that are as big as countries, such as Shanghai or Hong Kong.

But this year’s results show much more local detail. And it often entirely contradicts the national picture.

For instance, the education system in the United States has been seen as one of the great under-performers, struggling among the below-average stragglers.

Go down to state level and it can be an entirely different story. Massachusetts would be a match for the best European systems. There are similar examples in Italy and Spain. Wales is a long way behind the other parts of the UK.

What this means, the OECD says, is that there are often bigger differences within countries than between countries. And if one region can perform so well, why not the rest of the country?

This aside, there are things that are wrong other than the fact that only the Chinese provide their own, unverifiable data.

– Different questions

About 4,000 children in each of the 65 countries are subjected to the test, which lasts for two hours.

But only a small number of pupils in each school answer the same set of questions.

The reason for this is that Pisa wants to measure a comprehensive set of skills and abilities, so it draws up more questions than a single child could answer (about four-and-a-half hours’ worth) and distributes them between different exam papers.

Pisa then uses a statistical model, called the Rasch model, to estimate each student’s latent ability. They also extrapolate from each student’s answers how they would have fared if they had answered all the other questions, had they been given them.

This approach has its critics. One is quoted below.

David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University, says this practice raises its own questions.

“They are predicted conditional on knowing the difficulties of the questions – as if these are fixed constants,” he says.

But he thinks there is actually “considerable uncertainty” about this.

Furthermore, a question that is easy for children brought up in one culture may not be as easy for those brought up in another, Spiegelhalter says. “Assuming the difficulty is the same for all students around the whole world” is a mistake, he argues.

So when you see the league table of countries, the first thing to understand is that each country has been ranked according to an estimate of national performance.

– Educational attainment against well-being

South Korea might have come near the top of the educational rankings, but they come bottom in the rankings of happiness at school, Spiegelhalter notes – and Finland is only just above Korea.

– Drop-out rates matter:

But Mr Bodewig adds that the score may be impressive in part because so many poor and disadvantaged Vietnamese students drop out of school. The World Bank reports that in 2010 the gross enrolment rate at upper-secondary schools in Vietnam was just 65%, compared with 89% and 98% in America and Britain, respectively. South Korea’s rate was 95%.

Are TI students included in S’pore’s students that are tested? I assume normal stream students are? If not …

– Tuition helps:

Finally, I hope netizens stop pushing the Finnish model: it’s now crap

Seekers after educational excellence once used to head pilgrim-like towards Finland. This was the most quoted example of a high performing school system, even though in many ways it was a very distinctive and individual system. Scandinavia was the education world’s sensible successful neighbour.

But Finland has slipped downwards and the gloom has spread across Nordic countries, with Sweden among the biggest fallers. Norway and Denmark are absent from the top end of the tables. Their sluggish performances has been overtaken by countries such as Estonia, Poland and Ireland.

Mandela’s economic and sporting legacies

In Uncategorized on 15/12/2013 at 8:33 am

On the economy, his legacy is mixed. In sport, he used rugby to unite a nation, especially getting the Boers to accept black rule by getting the blacks to accept the ‘Boks.

No Keynesian he

Nelson Mandela, who has died aged 95, was a rare and brave leader. But economically he was, ironically enough, too timid. He set post-apartheid South Africa on course toward a mostly free market economy with stable finances, avoiding the errors of others like neighboring Zimbabwe. But he left the country slow-growing and still suffering from inequality.

Mandela was an orthodox follower, reining in government spending so that public debt gradually declined as a percentage of GDP while pursuing a government-directed industrial strategy that encouraged the development of major black-controlled industrial groups. Foreign investment by multinationals was tolerated, provided the government and favored domestic groups were involved.

n some senses, Mr Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) inherited an economy that was heading for bankruptcy.

So, it was to prove a difficult task to create a silk purse of an economy from the pig’s ear that Apartheid had left behind. However, many analysts point out that great strides were made in delivering some of the Freedom Charter aspirations in the early years of the new South Africa.

Dawie Roodt, chief economist at the Efficient Group, says: “Many millions of people got running water, electricity, etc.

“But the infrastructure was neglected, and slowly state inefficiency and corruption became serious problems.”

A good start but efforts faltered esp after he left office

On the surface, at least, things looked good at the start. Inflation, which was running at 14% before 1994, fell to 5% within 10 years.

South Africa’s budget deficit, which was 8% in 1997, fell to 1.5% in 2004. Interest rates dropped from 16% to under 9% in the first decade of the ANC government.

Once sanctions were dropped, South African exports blossomed. Before Mr Mandela took the oath of office, just 10% of the country’s goods were earmarked for export. By the turn of the century nearly a quarter of them were.

It wasn’t just economic numbers on sheets of paper. In the 14 years after 1996, the proportion of South Africans living on $2 (£1.22) a day fell from 12% to 5%.

Annabel Bishop, group economist at Investec, says South Africa’s economy has “essentially doubled in real terms” since the fall of apartheid, growing at an average of 3.2% a year since 1994, as opposed to only 1.6% per annum for the 18 years prior to the end of white minority rule.

She also points out that the real tax revenues have effectively doubled since 1994, which has enabled the government to expand social welfare.

“The state provision of basic services has been extensive,” she says.

But the early years still had to contend with huge problems. Apartheid had created rampant unemployment among the black population, an albatross that continues to hang around the economy’s neck almost two decades later.

South Africa’s official unemployment rate has hovered around 25% for years, and youth unemployment is much higher. By some measures half of those under 25 are out of work.

Nelson Mandela with Francois Pienaar

Nelson Mandela may have been the first global leader to use sport as a tool to unite people and to redefine a country’s international image.

And even before he was released from prison, Mandela had identified sport as a way of achieving a multi-racial country.

It’s hard to believe now but at the time the green and gold shirt was still deeply associated with the racial struggle in South Africa.

Mandela defied his advisers to wear it, knowing in an instant how the gesture could do more for harmony and equality than years of talks.

Pienaar, like most young white men in the country, had grown up believing Mandela was a terrorist. And the Springboks captain had to convince his team to learn the words to the country’s new national anthem, previously a song of black protest.

And yet after meeting him in the dressing room before the final and that presentation on the pitch at Ellis Park, Pienaar described him as the “symbol of everything that is good about humanity.”

“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers,” Mandela.

Why S’poreans are materialistic, impatient?

In Uncategorized on 08/12/2013 at 4:27 am

Blame the fact that S’pore is a city? Not ’cause of PAP or LKY.

Mark van Vugt, of VU University in Amsterdam, and his colleagues found that country scenery … inspires people to think about the future; concrete cityscapes encourage quick decisions aimed at immediate rewards.

What, then, is it about brooks and meadows that propels thoughts of the beyond? Dr van Vugt speculates that competition—for jobs, attractive partners and large bank accounts—is concentrated within cities, rendering them unpredictable. Unpredictability may in turn shunt people onto the fast lane. He admits, however, that the study does not determine whether cities spur impulsive behaviour, or whether the countryside inspires patience.

Alex Au doing a Dr Chee?

In Uncategorized on 29/11/2013 at 5:12 am

Alex Au’s at it again. No I’m not referring to the allegations of contempt by the AG against him yet again. That’s par for the course, and not really news anymore; anymore than that he is a gay rights activist and internet tua kee.

No, I referring to being so subtle so as to be misunderstood yet again by other netizens (self excluded). Remember, I defended him against charges by his fellow tua kee bloggers and lesser lights, and PAP stooges like an ex-NMP that he was advocating violence against the state?

This time a figure no less than the hubbie of ST’s editor misunderstood his latest mischief: If Au – one of Singapore’s most conscientious and civic-minded bloggers – cannot avoid the contempt minefield, then perhaps the problem is actually with the law. Is it getting in the way of intelligent critique of important issues?

The rejoinder would probably be that there are ways to comment without scandalising the court. In theory, perhaps. But again, I would have to ask, if even Alex Au cannot find the path through that minefield, perhaps the fault is with the treacherous terrain?

Au is a meticulous and gifted writer. If he is charged with contempt, there would be a significant chilling effect on other citizens who do not consider themselves anywhere near as polished in their use of words. 

( The writer is Associate Professor Cherian George described on Facebook by someone whose views I respect as “one of Singapore’s most accomplished and civic minded media commentators”.)

Sorry, but I have to disagree with Cherian whose views are always worth a reading, at the very least.

It is precisely because Au is a meticulous and gifted writer that we should discount the so-called chilling effect. on other citizens who do not consider themselves anywhere near as polished in their use of words.

This is not a case of someone not knowing the law. In my view, Alex Au is deliberately baiting the AG.

A Facebook poster put it better than I can (though I wish he’d not use exclamation marks), “[H]e is in the business of pushing boundaries, he choose to explore the “treacherous edge”. That business of his carries well-understood risk. He wasn’t out of words, he chose them carefully from abundance. In short, he is asking for it!!”. A PAPpy wants him in jail, “If guilty, he should spend a couple of months in prison so that he will know that there are consequences for his actions.”

As to why “he is asking for it”, I can only speculate.

Maybe, it is a follow-on from the recent pieces that were mischaracterised, misunderstood or misrepresented as a call for violence against the state. He wrote“[I]f the king has made something a criminal offence, then no one should ever try to flout it, no matter how horrible you think the king is?. On this I commented, “Shades of Thomas Aquinas, Locke etc. Look up these names if you don’t recognise them, or have forgotten their arguments on the nature of justice, among other things.”

He could be doing, something other than talking the talk of disobedience. He could be doing what Dr Chee and gang were doing earlier this decade, before the RI doctors put him on medication (anti-mad dog pills and “Think Economics, not HR”if you must know): civil disobedience, Gandhi-style.

Let me be very clear, I’m not commenting or taking sides on whether Alex Au is right or wrong in taking on the AG, or the rights and wrongs of civil disobedience.

I’m simply observing that given his skills as a is a meticulous and gifted writer who has recently written,” [I]f the king has made something a criminal offence, then no one should ever try to flout it, no matter how horrible you think the king is?”, and his history of social , activism, I think he is following in the footsteps of Dr Chee and Gandhi.  I could be wrong. He could be clumsy in his use of language when it comes to issues on the judiciary, though I suspect that pigs would fly first, or VivianB apologises to the elderly poor for his sneers.

I could also be wrong about Cherian. He could be juz trying to portray Alex Au juz as another ordinary S’porean, clumsy with words, like the tpical TRE poster, knowing full well that Alex is baiting the AG. I mean no disrespect to Cherian: he is no-detached ivory-tower observer. He too is a civil society activist. In fact, he was one before it became fashionable (and reasonably safe) to be one. And he has suffered for his sins.

One final tot. When people like Dr Chee and Au take on the state are they not accepting that the PAP govt isn’t that bad? Let me quote Orwell when he criticked Gandhi and his civil disobedience methods: The important point here is not so much that the British treated him forbearingly as that he was always able to command publicity. As can be seen from the phrase quoted above, he believed in “arousing the world”, which is only possible if the world gets a chance to hear what you are doing. It is difficult to see how Gandhi’s methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary. Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? The Russian masses could only practise civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference.

But then I could be wrong again. Orwell was writing in the pre-internet dark ages. We don’t have a free press and the right of assembly but the internet  and social media has got the govt terrified that S’poreans can voice their opinions publicly.

Still want to buy M’sian properties?

In India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Uncategorized on 23/11/2013 at 6:00 am

(Asean round-up)

KL property owners, an estimated 10-16 per cent of whom are foreigners, are facing sharply higher assessment payments of up to 300 per cent following the latest move by City Hall (DBKL) to boost its coffers.

But otherwise M’sia’s looking pretty gd

– ECONOMISTS have turned more bullish on the Malaysian economy as a result of its unexpectedly strong showing in the third quarter.

They have upgraded their forecasts, and one has even dismissed the second quarter’s sharply reduced current account surplus on the balance of payments as an “abnormal”, one-off glitch.

Malaysia’s growth accelerated to 5 per cent in the third quarter, above the street’s 4.7 per cent, and sharply higher than the 4.4 per cent posted in the second quarter. The expansion was largely driven by domestic demand and a turnaround in exports.

The figures suggest that, despite criticism from rating agencies such as Fitch and an uncertain global economy, the Malaysian economy remains resilient, and continues to maintain steady economic growth.

– THE ringgit is undervalued as it has underperformed its peers since Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Budget almost a month ago, a British bank said.

In a report yesterday, Barclays Bank said the currency’s underperformance stemmed from doubts over the country’s “fiscal credibility”. But it said any such doubt should now be “diminished” after international rating agency Moody’s raised Malaysia’s sovereign outlook to “positive” from “stable” in a report released on Wednesday.

The news should boost Mr Najib’s credibility as a finance minister; he has been flayed by critics who have accused him of going on a profligate spending spree to boost the Barisan Nasional coalition’s popularity. In the run-up to the May 5 general election, government debt had ballooned to more than 54 per cent of GDP, just a whisker away from the legally mandated debt ceiling. Although the BN won, it did so with a weaker mandate.

In July, global rating agency Fitch had affirmed Malaysia’s investment-grade sovereign rating but cut its outlook to “negative” from “stable”. That raised the level and intensity of the criticism against Mr Najib.

(Excerpts from BT)

But M’sia (like Thailand) is doing less than Indonesia to prepare for tapering: Indonesia has raised short-term interest rates and India has attracted deposits from its large diaspora. Both are now accumulating foreign-exchange reserves to help prepare them for the eventual end of quantitative easing. So are South Korea and Taiwan.

Malaysia and Thailand are not taking the same precautions. Neither country has managed to recoup the reserves it lost in August. That’s a worry, considering foreigners own 28 percent of Malaysia’s sovereign bond market. Pending the implementation of a goods and services tax from 2015, the country’s public finances remain shaky. At the peak of the summer turmoil, the cost of insuring against default on Malaysian government bonds was slightly higher than for Philippines debt, which carries a lower credit rating. The gap has widened since.

Finally, debt is soaring. In Thailand, bank loans to individuals have jumped 20 percent in the first nine months of the year, higher than last year’s 18 percent growth. Meanwhile, the Thai economy has lost momentum, the politics has become unstable, and the current account has tipped into a deficit. Instead of easing, Asia’s fear of the Fed is spreading wider.

Brainwashed, simple-minded paper tigers

In Uncategorized on 06/11/2013 at 4:57 am

Taz the conclusion I draw about many keyboard warriors from their reactions to the hack on a ST blog, which they should have treated as, at best a ripple, in a after-dinner Chinese-tea cup, and their reactions to Alex Au’s piece criticking their reactions to the said hack.

[H]ow many bloggers and social media participants took pains to distance themselves from the hacking: We don’t approve of such tactics, they kind-of say.

Then what are you saying? That even if you are victimised by a brutish government, you should go no further than respectful and polite conversation?

Get a grip. Hacking is not sui generis. It is one among a vast continuum of acts of resistance.

( There is a part 2)

BTW, make sure you read his replies to the howls of outrage his pieces provoked. Damned gd.

Alex is absolutely right in his disdain and scorn of the goody-two-shoes rushing to reassure the ISD and us that they are quai, even if he goes overboard at times. I felt a bit sick about the said responses to the hack: they were it seemed to me rushing to assure everyone that they didn’t approve of such an “atrocity”. They were rushing to condemn the hack as though it was some major atrocity like 9/11, 7/7 or the like. As he pointed out, it wasn’t even a disruption: Get a grip. Hacking is not sui generis. It is one among a vast continuum of acts of resistance.

I didn’t blog on how I felt because I had problems putting my tots into words (It would have sounded like Alex Tan at his foulest low). Thankfully Alex has done it for me, though for the record, I want to stress that for all its many faults (lack of compassion, muddle-headed tinking, lousy execution, bad PR, love of BS and jargon etc), the PAP govt is not “brutish”. BTW, I don’t think Alex was implying that our govt is “brutish”. But, it’s not for me to say what he thinks.

He has been accused of condoning disruption or violence, or trying to incite disruption, or, worse, violence. This is a very superficial reading, of the piece, if not intentional misrepresentation worthy of a defamation suit. It’s actually a chim piece on the nature and role of activism in any society: democratic, authoritarian or totalitarian.

The howls of “We quai chye” by said activists drew this response from Alex in part 2 of his piece, “[I]f the king has made something a criminal offence, then no one should ever try to flout it, no matter how horrible you think the king is?” Shades of Thomas Aquinas, Locke etc. Look up these names if you don’t recognise them, or have forgotten their arguments on the nature of justice, among other things.

More evidence that many of our cyber warriors are wannabe elitists who didn’t make the grade in our elite schools, or if they did, later in govt, stat boards, or GLCs. Juz expressing their frustrations by ranting and bitching against the PAP govt? Or as is more likely, they are intellectually, not very well-read. They have been too well-conditioned by the state’s schools and media?

87% of the Stompers showed up the pretensions of these paper tigers by feeling “shiok” about the hack.

Finally, something for these toothless paper tigers to chew on. Have they ever tot that the disruption to biz, transport and life, generally, that protests can caus,  play a big part in forcing a govt (democratic or authoritarian) to concede? Remember the credit default swaps fiasco here and in HK. The Hongkies got more of their money back because they were willing to inconvenience the public by regularly protesting on the streets. Singkies when to Hong Leong Green. Well DBS ended up paying Honkies, but not Singkies despite the S in its name standing for “Singapore”.

Think about it.

Alison McElwee: 3 bites = Tammy’s death?

In Uncategorized on 30/10/2013 at 4:48 am

(Update Update 17th February 2014:Sun T reported that peace broke out between the warring harridans with FT admitting that re-homing would have been better option. Tammy’s still dead. Implicitly she admits lying that she lied that other lady didn’t want to take dog back?)

Update on 20th November 2013: ST says Alison McElwee is British)

Ms Alison McElwee adopted a stray dog under the conditions that if there were any problems, she would be returned to the re-homer, Ada Ong.

She shortly thereafter put it down. ST reported:  A woman who had her seven- month-old mongrel Tammy put down for aggression has defended her decision, claiming the person she got it from did not want to take it back.

Ms Alison McElwee, who was criticised for ignoring the rehomer’s pleas to return it, said in a statement: “The rehomer suggested placing (Tammy) in a long- term boarding home” and “did not want to take (it) back”.

But ST wrote: “her [Alison McElwee's] text messages tell different story.”

This was double-confirmed by a minister, no less. Last Thurs I read that the Minister of Law (a dog and cat lover*) wrote on Facebook, Ada told me that she made clear to Tammy’s adopter in subsequent conversations that Ada was prepared to take back Tammy. Ada also showed me the SMS exchanges between the adopter and herself, which seems to bear out what Ada says. I have given Ada my views on the contract, and have suggested to her that she should get a lawyer to pursue this matter. She asked me for help and I have suggested a lawyer to her who will help her pro bono. There could be other fees, expenses – Louis ( from Acres) who was in the conversation, has said that the money will be raised if necessary.

What angers me is that she didn’t take advantage of the offer, preferring to spend money killing the dog. Could it be vengeance?

ST report, “She alleged that Tammy bit her four-year-old daughter and two adults.” She could have believed in an extreme variation of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

What further angered me is that she tot she could lie her way out of trouble.

If I were one of those so-called xenophobes, I should be ranting, “What now ang moh? Think you tua kee? Can suka suka kill a local dog with impunity? And lie about it? Think S’poreans no understand English and don’t know to store text messages?” “Home Team will be their usual ang moh tua kee and allow you to give S’poreans the bird.” Remember the Suntec case?

But I’m no xenophobe. There is the possibility that the alleged attacks caused severe wounds that indicated that Tammy was a dangerous puppy. There was a newspaper report that Tammy was pretty hostile at the vet, though one can understand why. Dogs know when they are in danger.

And she, like Tammy, could be a local. Names can be deceiving, especialli in multicultural S’pore. I tot GIC’s PR flack and Tony Tan’s campaign helper was ang moh. Turns out she’s local, a Eurasian: one of those whose families didn’t flee to Perth (and other ang moh places) when S’pore became self-governing, and then independent.. Nope, Alison McElwee is probably juz trash of the worse kind, white, black, brown, yellow, purple or green. Hopefully, Tammy will get her revenge, as God visits “the iniquity of the fathers mothers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth.”

BTW, I don’t think anyone should flame AVA, or the vets involved. They can’t be expected to vet every request of an owner to kill a dog. Owners too have rights and obligations. And sadly, vicious dogs have to be put down to protect humans.

I have strong views on adopting dogs. Once a dog is adopted by me, it becomes part of the family. It never gets “unadopted”. I even have problems with people who give away their dogs because the dogs are unruly. And I practice what I preach. One of my two dogs was “forced” on me (had to take both), and was problematic: uncivilised and suffering from ailments. Turned out to be sweet, gentle, unlike her hyper but handsome “brudder”.

Finally, this case like that of new citizen Raj (the guy who boasts that his son will avoid NS and still be a PR) gives bad PR to the govt’s policy of letting in the FTs. She (assuming she is a FT) and new citizen Raj don’t give a damn that they are saboing the S’pore govt. Now that’s gratitude! No, LKY, it’s not the voters of Aljunied who will repent. It will be the PAP who will repent that it favours foreigners, not S’poreans, and allows them to flood in with no or very little QC.

One final tot. How come no follow-up story, now that the law minister minister has spoken. Surely ST should be asking Alison McElwee for her response? As I said, maybe, juz maybe, Tammy was too vicious and dangerous, and Alison tot she had to protect us S’poreans against doggie do-gooders like Ada Ong (“Dogs always tua kee”). And, if she refused to comment, we should be told. Or is ST practicising constructive, nation-building censorship? Not wanting to stir S’poreans against FTs?

If so, this wouldn’t be the first time. Remember the F1 SMRT driver, and another driver involved in a bad accident. S’poreans had to find out from social media that they were PRC FTs.

*I had tot that dog and cat lovers were the equivalents of bi-sexuals. But my friend Siow Kum Hong, he and his wife own both dogs and cats, assures me that such people are “not uncommon”.

Easy to avoid “xenophobe” label

In Humour, Uncategorized on 21/10/2013 at 4:47 am

I waz planning to grumble about (I assume unintentional) implications of: There are plenty of xenophobic people these days who rail unjustly against foreigners and cite them for alleged misconduct which they themselves might be guilty of at some other place and time. Whilst these people should be taken to task, it is equally unfair to use the “xenophobic” label to tar others who are merely speaking up against government policies and genuine grievances, but who may not phrase themselves with exactly the right amount of nuance and sensitivity.

It is very easy to be labelled as a xenophobe. All you have to do is to say “Singaporeans should come first”.(

But, in I’m sure, a different context context, Vincent Wijeysingha expressed my sentiments better than I ever could (I never faced racism when in the UK or Oz, maybe ’cause I waz in the “right” environment), and a lot faster too. See below for a longish quote from Vincent Wijeysingha and the link to his piece*.

So, I’ll confine myself to suggestions on how avoiding getting labelled a xenophobe when criticising the govt’s pro-FT stance. In this age of cut & paste, it’s easy for those who may not phrase themselves with exactly the right amount of nuance and sensitivity can use the words of Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Dr Chee to avoid the use the “xenophobic” label.

Remember Dr Tan’s slogan for the 2011 presidential election that he lost by a very short nose? “Think Singaporean first”. People could say, “The govt/ we should Think Singaporean first’…” or “Rather than its pro-FT policy, the govt should adopt Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s Think Singaporean first’ …”

Dr Chee’s, “A word of caution, I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”, can be simplified to “We disagree with the govt’s pro-FT policy, not the foreigners working here. We are unhappy with the “FTs first, citizens last” attitude of the govt because …”

I’m assuming that after using these phrases, users don’t talk of “molest” cases increasing because of the presence of FTs (Gilbert Goh), or linking violence and crime to the increasing number of FTs. These are no-go areas if one one’s to avoid the  “xenophobe” label. Talk about the suppression of the wages of local PMETs, stagnating real wage levels, overcrowded public transport and the increase in apartment rents and CoEs.

It’s easy to avoid the “xenophobe”, unless people really want to be called “xenophobes”, or are really xenophobes who pretend that their English lets them down. BTW, let’s bear in mind, that some PAPpies, on their own initiative, may be using “xenophobic” language deliberately to fix, tar S’poreans who criticise the govt’s pro-FT policy.


*”To those following events in the foreigner debate, you may have noticed that the temper is gradually deteriorating. People are beginning to take views that have no relationship to the real situation. The most preposterous racism is being aired. When I lived in the UK for many years, I noticed a similar trend. It resulted, in later years, in racist assaults and eventually killings. The feeling of being frightened for your safety because of escalating racism, frightened for your security and that of your family, is unpleasant, to say the least.

Those who are serious about contributing to the population debate must begin to take responsibility for what they say and do. The action against Ranstad was misguided and wrong because it made an accusation which was not justified and it stoked further the resentment of Singaporeans already so unhappy with how things are developing. More actions of this kind will, I have no doubt, result in far worse outcomes both for foreigners in Singapore as well as for Singaporeans themselves.”


Hear, Heat I say.

GG crashes: new Indian chief needed?

In Uncategorized on 11/10/2013 at 5:00 am

(Or “Dr Chee’s no mad dog, he’s coyote”)

Gilbert Goh (who showed up meritocracy S’pore style) like Icarus paid the price of flying too close to the sun after getting S’poreans fired-up about the population white paper. Too bad, we S’poreans too got burned by GG’s hubris.

As this cartoon shows, the PAP is celebrating

It and its running dogs in the media and new media are spinning this rally as a victory for the govt: S’poreans now want 6.9m people by 2030.

They can quote one GG: “The momentum from the protests earlier this year has gone off, and the anger and emotion among Singaporeans is maybe no longer there,” chief organiser Gilbert Goh told AFP.

Sadly for us citizens of Manor Farm, Animal Farm S’pore , the truth is more complex. For starters, S’poreans have cottoned on to Gilbert Goh’s dog whistle. And S’poreans don’t do intolerance. Dr Dr Chee has said, ” the tolerant people that we are …”

(Dog whistle is a type of strategy of communication that sends a message that the general population will take a certain meaning from, but a certain group that is “in the know” will take away the secret, intended message. Often involves code words. Urban Dictionary)

The anger and emotion is still there. What has changed since the first event  is that GG has been shown to be anti-foreigner by his words. Example: his call for the 5 October rally. My take on it.

Then there was his attempt to make his protest movement an anti-govt movement, calling for regime change, rather than juz a specific anti-policy movement. See above links.

Finally, there is the multitude of calls to rally after the govt announced some curbs on the FT explosion.

Given GG’s views on FTs, I was surprised that Dr Chee and friends attended the rally, and Dr Chee spoke.

My initial reaction was that Drs Paul A, Wee Nam and others had failed to make sure that he took his anti-mad dog pills, and that he had bitten other SDP members.

But on reflection, Dr Chee’s speech with his, “A word of caution, I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”*, was an attempt to channel the issue to its original root: unhappiness with the white paper on population, and the govt’s pro-FT policy.

Sadly, Dr Chee’s attempt wouldn’t work. What was so different about GG’s initial call to protest was that it cut across political allegiances. The white paper and the govt’s pro-FT policy, were something, like bad public transport, that affected everyone, and couldn’t be used by the PAP and its running dogs journalists as a test of “Are you with us, or against us?”.  Sadly, GG then made it into “Are you with us, or against us?”.

A new Indian chief is needed to remobilise the RODed, or AWOLed S’poreans.

P Ravi perhaps? He has to his credit the scalp of the previous SMRT CEO (Remember after a protest he organised calling for her resignation, she quit). Opps forgot he member of a small fringe, marginal opposition party, where he works out by climbing stairs, pounding the pavements and drinking teh-tarik. Said party doesn’t even bother to use his new media skills.

Vincent Wijeysingha then? He is a social worker and activist; has concerns about the white paper (he spoke at GG’s first rally) but doesn’t dog whistle that he hates FTs; is smart (even though he went to Victoria, not RI, but then dad was RI principal then and father and son ada class); and talks well. The only people that would hold his gayness against him would be pastor Khong and gang, and Berrie Bear, the Canadian, S’porean, Muslim bear. With enemies like these, who needs friends? And he has friends, including human rights kay pohs, who will add a bit of class to the movement. He can bridge the divide between the unhappy masses and “liberals” on the unhappiness with the population white paper and the govt’s pro-FT policy.  Both are unhappy, but cannot find common ground, as this article shows.

Take the poisoned chalice, Vincent? Or is it the holy grail? The holy grail was a poisoned chalice for those not worthy to sip from it.

*TOC and Yahoo versions added together

Formula E the new F1?/ Why can’t MSM report F1 event like this?

In Uncategorized on 22/09/2013 at 5:05 am

S’pore did the first Kiddie Games and overspent for no apparent gain.

Why not try Formula E?

There will be 10 teams and 20 drivers racing on roads – not racetracks – in 10 cities, with a preliminary line-up that includes Los Angeles, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, London, Buenos Aires and Beijing …

Jean Todt, president of the FIA, called Formula E “a vision of the future”. And this comes from a man who built his reputation in rally car racing and then as head of F1’s most famous competitor, Ferrari.

He told the BBC: “F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing, but there is plenty of space for other championships, from endurance racing to touring car, to karting – and definitely Formula E.”

He rejected claims that Formula E is simply a promotional exercise to improve motorsport’s image.

OK, we got to divert traffic etc, one more time a yr. But this is new and innovative.

BTW, I enjoyed reading about how Marina Bay is turned into a race track. Makes me proud to be a S’porean: We are the Prussians of the East.

Why can’t our constructive, nation building media report like this?

Or tell us why the race is so technically challenging for the drivers:

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is the second slowest 23-turn circuit on the calendar after Monaco, with an average speed of 172kph. Approximately 46% of the lap is taken at full throttle, compared with over 75% at Monza.

The twisting layout is hard on the brakes, while the gearboxes also take a beating, with around 80 gear changes per lap.

Drivers will complete 61 laps in the race – in 30C heat and 70% humidity – which takes a little under two hours to complete.

A change to the circuit this year is at turn 10 – dubbed the Singapore Sling. The original layout, a three-turn chicane, was seen as dangerous by drivers with Kimi Raikkonen crashing there in 2008 and Lewis Hamilton describing it as ‘the worst corner in Formula 1′.

This year, it has been turned into a single-apex left-hand bend and, without the chicane, lap times are expected to be lower.

This article told me more interesting facts about the skills needed to finish the course than all the drums coming from our MSM.

Where NS leads to successful high tech start-ups

In Uncategorized on 17/09/2013 at 4:48 am

In S’pore, NS is often seen (esp by those doing it) as a waste of time and a source of cheap labour for public events like National Day, F1 and the Kiddie Games.

In Israel, which is surrounded by hostiles threatening to destroy the nation, NS is seen as impt not only for the defence of nation and the Jewish tradition, but also as a training ground for budding high tech entrepreneurs:

Inside the HQ of the Mamram, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) technical support unit in nearby Ramat Gan, computer training course commander … says new recruits on a six-month intensive programming course study from dawn till night and are taught programming skills, teamwork, project management and – most importantly how to be creative. It’s like a school for start-ups.

“When you do a degree in computer science you study the technical things,” she says. “You study how to write a code, mathematics. We don’t focus on that. We focus on how to work in a team. How to understand what your client needs and make software that fits his demands. How to write good code that you will be able to de-bug and maintain.”

Tal Marian, founder of the TechLoft, a commercial shared workspace just off Rothschild, says the results of the military training are obvious. “Some of the military units work like a civilian organisation,” says Marian. “They encourage entrepreneurship, the feeling that if you come up with a good idea that answers a real need of that unit’s mission, you will get the funding and manpower and the time you need.”

After years of helping to solve the nation’s major security threats, the challenges of gaming and mobile apps pale by comparison, he adds.


“Entrepreneurs in Israel are unique,” he says. “Their approach to problems is different to others because the army is a huge incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship. The army gave us a few million dollars at the age of 18 and asked us to build technology and systems that address problems that only people 10 or 20 years older are dealing with in other parts of the world. That kind of pressure and challenge really brings a lot of things out of you.”

Tal skipped university to work at a start-up before launching his own, but another important driver of the tech scene is the fact that Israeli university students pay only about $3,100 (£2,000) a year in tuition fees. They emerge from military service and three years of studying with zero debt, eager to take a year off to pursue their dreams.

That youthful exuberance, combined with the rigorous military training in technology and project management, has found a natural home among cafes running down the centre of Rothschild.

When one Tony Tan was DPM a few yrs back, he visited Israel to learn the secrets of building a high tech entrepreneurial culture. Obviously he wasn’t brought to Rothschild Boulevard, or the IDF unit. Obviously, they must have been state secrets then. We know he visited Israeli research institutes and signed shume MOUs.


The IDF has already changed enormously in recent years. Its largest unit, 8200, is focused on cyber-warfare.

Parks: HK 67%, S’pore 8% of Land Use/ City in 2050

In Uncategorized on 01/09/2013 at 5:18 am

Remember this?

The Singapore government said it is committed to retain about a tenth of land for nature reserves and parks.

Acting Manpower Minister and Senior Minister of State for National Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, said this is significant for a highly urbanised city-state.

Well HK, which most of us would consider overcrowded, 66.6% of Land Use in the territory is classified as nature reserves and parks versus 8% for S’pore (ST data: So 10% is “peanuts”, when a place with 7.2m people has more green space, a lot more.

If you’ve wondering how come HK has so much parks’ land, the answer is “Land Use”. HK is pretty hilly country and the sides of hills are included in the definition of “Land Use”. Even so in terms of territory, about 30% of HK’s territory is set aside for parks and conversation areas, still a lot more than S’pore’s 8% of “Land Use” or 9.8% of “non-development” land.  But the spin goes on

By 2030, 85 per cent or over eight in 10 residents will be living within a 10-minute walk to a park.

This figure will be up from the current 80 per cent, as mapped out by the Land Use Plan released on Thursday. The promise is that even as Singapore gears up for a population of up to 6.9 million, its urban landscape will still remain largely green.

BTW, 2 S’pore buildings shortlisted for World Architecture Festival 2013 Awards Both Included inside this

Now to the future

Have you ever wondered where you or your children may be living in 2050? Experts predict that by then three-quarters of the world’s population will live in cities. For part of its Tomorrow’s Cities season the BBC takes a look through the crystal ball to imagine what city life might be like in 40 years’ time.


Would you like to live in a circular city? Or a city where there are no parks but lots of greenery? Check out this highly commended audio slide show.

Another green idea for S’pore

In Uncategorized on 05/08/2013 at 5:11 pm

From the land of the common loon bird and Berrie Bear: skyscrapers made of wood

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has designed dozens of iconic skyscrapers, including the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago, the new World Trade Centre in New York and the current record holder, the 830-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai. All are made primarily from steel and concrete, the materials of choice for tall buildings for over a century. In its recent Timber Tower research project, however, SOM explored the possibility of recreating a 125-metre-tall reinforced concrete residential building in Chicago using a combination of timber columns, wooden panels and concrete beams and joints.

That the project concluded it was technically feasible, economically competitive with traditional building methods, and could reduce the building’s carbon footprint by up to 75% came as little surprise to Michael Green. The Canadian architect who kick-started the “tall wood” concept in 2012 is currently overseeing the construction of the world’s tallest wooden building in northern British Columbia. Expected to be completed next summer, when it will stand at a relatively modest 30 metres, it is a showcase for Canada’s wood products and building expertise.

The case for wooden high rises is rooted in their environmental benefits. While concrete emits nearly its own weight in carbon dioxide during production, the raw material for plyscrapers literally grows on trees, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere as it does so. Responsibly harvested wood is naturally renewing and, when a building is finally torn down, can be recycled or burned for energy.

And imagine roof gardens or farms on the top of wooden skyscrapers.Double the natural friendliness. Farms need not be the usual farms

But fish ponds in the sky  would be too heavy for plyscrapers.

Our flag: Did you know?

In Uncategorized on 04/08/2013 at 10:08 am

It’s that time of the year, when netizens flood the Internet with stories of S’poreans not flying the flag, or PAP grassroot leaders paying FTs to put up flags; and moan that the PAP has appropriated the flag*. This behaviour has become a ritual for late July, early August, mirroring the arrival of the flags.

So I tot I’d blog on some things about the flag that I believe are not well known.

I’m sure readers know the “official” meanings of the crescent and the stars on our flag. Google it up if you can’t remember.

But did you know how they got on the flag in the first place?

Well, when the British were designing the flag for S’pore, the Malay community leaders wanted on the flag a crescent moon, while the Chinese community leaders wanted five stars*.

The symbolism of the crescent is obvious: the crescent is a symbol of Islam, and being Muslim is part of the Malay identity.

I wondered about the significance of the five stars in Chinese culture that made the Chinese community leaders want them on the flag. I asked a scholar who studied in Catholic High in the days when it was a Chinese-language school. He could only think that the PRC flag has five stars. (Actually, I had always tot that the big star in the flag was supposed to symbolise the sun. Communists are “scientific” unlike the KMT: KMT flag has a “sun”, sort of.)

He also sent me the following: Zeng Liansong … wanted to create a flag design to express his patriotic enthusiasm for the new country … he sat down in his attic for multiple nights to come up with designs. His inspiration for the current design comes from the stars shining in the night sky. He thought of a Chinese proverb “longing for the stars, longing for the moon,” (盼星星盼月亮, Pàn xīngxīng pàn yuèliàng) which shows yearning. Later, he realized that the CPC was the great savior (大救星, Dà jiùxīng) of the Chinese people, being represented by a larger star. The idea of four small stars came from an article “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” written by Mao Zedong, which defined the Chinese people as consisting of four social classes. Yellow also implies that China belongs to the Chinese people, a “yellow race”.[5] After working out the details of the placement of the stars and their sizes (he had tried to put all of the stars in the center, but believed it would be too heavy and dull), he sent his “Five Stars on a Field of Red” (紅地五星旗, Hóng dì wǔxīng qí) design to the committee in the middle of August.[1][5]

Coming back to our flag, the British decided to keep the Malay and Chinese community leaders happy and adopted both proposals and came up with the official meanings to explain the combination.

Cunning buggers the Brits. And no, the British didn’t have red and white to placate the Indonesians, who as usual were trying to create trouble. These colours are common in many national flags because of the symbolism of red (blood, brotherhood etc) and white (purity, non-corruptibility,  truth etc).

I’m waiting for an ultra sensitive Indian (a Ravi perhaps?) to complain that I didn’t write about what the Indians wanted. The book doesn’t tell. Anyway, like today, in colonial times, the community punched above its weight in public service, politics (both PAP and opposition especially in the ranks of ministers , MPs and clowns), kay pohing (esp on human rights issues), commerce, media and the law, so why so sensitive leh? BTW today add rumour mongering blogging to the list of things Indians do well disproportionate to their numbers. They do it so well that P Ravi ( Politician, Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications & Insinuations) and the yet to start publishing, almost all Indian Independent have been “marked” by Yaacob the internet sheriff and his sidekick, the MDA.

*Given that the PAP has been in power (via the ballot box) since S’pore became self-governing, one could reasonably and credibility argue that their arrogance can be justified, just.

**Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962)

by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

Waz wrong with Pink Dot event becoming like Christmas?

In Uncategorized on 18/07/2013 at 5:18 am

I’m taking a break from blogging about the row in a expresso cup between the WP and the PAP, even though it’s one of the best comedy shows I’ve come across. Below is something on the Pink party and the ISA that I wrote earlier but didn’t post because of:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Now that kill-joy Low is trying stop this variant of the Punch and Judy show, I’ve got one more post on the matter  coming out next week. Will the the last until further facts become public, as they will, in the fullness of time, actually quite soon.

Now to the Pink Dot event, and the ISA. Skip right to footnote 2 for the bit on the ISA, and the PM’s latest goof.

Barrie, the hybrid bear from Singaland where no lions roam, and from Canada where bears roam freely and where gays can marry and otherwise live openly as gay without social , physical or legal retribution, wrote a few weeks ago:

As an observer* of Pink Dot celebration the last few years, I can say that Pink Dot has lost its original focus. Isn’t this event supposed to be an awareness programme to help Singaporeans accept that there are gay people? So what’s all this feel-good celebration that has nothing to do with the cause?

The above is like Christmas becoming so commercialised, many Christian conservatives are brooding on the fact that the real spirit of Christian Christmas is no longer around.

At the rate Pink Dot is going, in a few years’ time we would have about a hundred thousand people supporting the Pink Dot event, having a good time partying, but hardly anyone would give a thought or two that LGBTs are fighting for their rights.

Waz wrong with the event becoming fun and commercialised, and not being about fighting for rights?

I’m not privy to the strategy of the organisers, but I’m sure the party atmosphere is deliberate. It’s aimed at saying,”We too are human. We too love to have fun. We’re like you, straights.” What better way of showing the effectiveness of this strategy, then by attracting partying by people not like them: heterosexuals.

An “awareness programme” need not be made of long, boring sermons by earnest, serious activists (rifles, beards and glass eyes are options, as US preachers show). An American civil rights activist (I can’t remember his name) became a media mogul by entertaining black readers while educating them on what the Civil Rights movement was trying to achieve, and why the movement mattered.

He effectively commercialised civil rights, but so what?

Coming back to Pink Dot: the LGBT community here despite 377A** are now part of the community, accepted by most S’poreans (albeit with great reluctance by certain S’poreans and some sections of communities).Even those who are not willing to accept the community, recite, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.

Even ST reported it, albeit hide on page 16 (See my take***). TRE and TOC, as usual,  reported the Pink Dot party prominently.

Barrie Bear grumbles, “Note the feel-good, let’s-party, dance-till-we-drop atmosphere. Whatever happened to the theme gay rights activists are campaigning for like the repeal of S377A?”

If I were an organiser, I’d say to him,”We, S’poreans and FTs, straight or queer are partying because to quote you ‘for the majority of Singaporeans, it is a non-issue and a non-affair’. We are part of the community, not a marginalised minority stuck in a ghetto. For that God be praised.”

Cunning buggers these LGBT community leaders. By turning the event into a commercial event, like Christmas, they made LGBT activism, mainstream. Juz like the early Christians who “borrowed” a pagan event (which had orgies) and turned it into a religious, festive event, which only returned to its pagan roots via commercialisation.

*Actually he should also add “as a critic of the LGBT movement”

**I personally wish the members of the community stop bitching about 377A as though it were the ISA. Sure it would be better if 377A were abolished, but the movement keeps on thriving despite its existence. On the ISA, I think this is how it should be looked at irrelevant.

The state shot off both of its feet security-apparatus-and, giving a reason for its abolition. But then our PM is obsessed with the “right” politics and “right” way of thinking, not doing the right things.

***FTR, TRE came out with several articles on the party when it came online.

Asean round-up

In Uncategorized on 06/07/2013 at 6:42 am

Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is planning to buy a controlling stake in Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya.Japan’s biggest lender has agreed to buy a 75% stake in the Thai bank for up to US$5.6bn.

If the deal goes through (Thai regulatory approval is needed) it would be the biggest purchase in South East Asia by a Japanese bank. The deal would also see General Electric end its investment in Ayudhya, which goes back to 2007 when it bought a 33% stake in the bank.

Attracted by bright growth prospects (more lending to its corporate clients expanding into the region, and tapping the retail market of the new middle class), Japanese financial firms have been expanding in South East Asia.In May, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group’s bought a US$1.5bn stake in Indonesia’s Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional.

China’s Asean infrastructure fund{617206358-18071-7059834598}


The Real Petition Kings

In Uncategorized on 05/07/2013 at 7:09 am

Remember when our constructive, nation-building ST carried stories about one Tan Kin Lian, calling him the Petition King? He was fighting the good fight for those he tot were “cheated” by the banks who sold investors Minibonds, and DBS HN5, Pinnacle and Jubilee Notes. He helped them salvage something, a great achievement given that the govt and the babks were shouting, “Buyer Beware”.*

Sadly, he then went into politics, and despite not getting the 100,000 signatures asking him to stand as president, the self-styled “People’s Voice” stood and lost his deposit. And deprived S’poreans of giving the PAP govt a tight slap. Its preferred candidate, thanks to him, won by a very, very short nose.

Well this is the real deal. These guys started a petition and a president was ousted:

The group, whose name means “rebel” in Arabic, claims it has collected more than 22 million signatures for a petition demanding Mr Morsi step down and allow fresh presidential elections to be held.

BTW, the Chinese have updated the tradition petition system that has been in existence for thousands of yrs.

Interestingly in S’pore even netizens use petitions  It is so old-fashioned: as the BBC article points out the Chinese petition system is a continuation of a practice from “imperial times when the emperors would listen to the complaints of common people”.

How S’poreans got shoved


Fishfarm in the sky!

In Uncategorized on 01/07/2013 at 6:12 am

Here’s another idea for our City in a Garden

Other ideas:

Economy weak? Investors keep on Cheonging!

In Uncategorized on 27/06/2013 at 10:22 am

The Reason:

Now you might think the announcement that the US economy grew much slower than was originally thought in the first three months of the year – at a sluggish annual rate of 1.8%, compared with the initial peppy estimate of 2.4% – was bad news.

Not however for investors.

Share and bond prices in the US and Europe rose sharply.

And what in recent days has been pulling down share and bond prices has been the public musings of Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, that his alchemical creation of $85bn of new money every month might diminish later this year and terminate next year. (For more on this, see my previous blogs on Risks to financial system of interest rate rises and How the Fed bosses all.)

However, if the US economy is in fact weaker than Mr Bernanke and the Fed believe, then surely he will keep the cheap money tap gushing at full throttle for longer, or so investors reckon – which would then sustain the rising tide under stock and bond prices.

The point is that what has happened today confirms that there is a significant speculative element in stock and bond prices, disconnected from economic reality.

This will have been noted by central bankers, who will become more anxious about the dangers of keeping the price of financial assets pumped up on cheap-money dope.

The point is that the more that the price of these assets is dependent on this dope, the greater the risk of calamitous financial shock as and when the dope is withdrawn.


Haze: S’poreans who are trying to help others

In Uncategorized on 21/06/2013 at 5:45 am

SGHazeRescue is a community of Singaporeans offering air-conditioned spaces to individuals and families without such privileges. You can offer anything from a sleeping bag, couch, to a guesthouse.

Hey peeps, we have been receiving an overwhelming response from many who wish to volunteer. This is how you can contribute :)

1. Identify a vulnerable group in sg. Leave a message here on what block and street, to prevent duplication. (we are trying to solve this duplication problem via a real time tracking platform).

2. Form a team and head down to your nearest neighbourhood. Be creative, from identifying the needs of people to showing them love with a cup of barley tea.

3. Match your needs by tapping on the google docs sheet and contact fellow singaporeans directly (

Let’s go, for a more spontaneous, loving and inspiring community.

And the pot stirrers I grumble about are missing from this wall. The wall is smoke free, and the air is cool, not hot.

Made in US, not China

In Uncategorized on 19/06/2013 at 6:39 am

I’m sure you read that China has the fastest meanest, super computer, Tianhe-2,

But it’s largely made in the US, much of Tianhe-2’s gubbins, including many of its processors, come from Titan’s homeland. Only one in eight of its 3.2m processing cores is “made in China”, according to Jack Dongarra, an editor of TOP500, though that is a vast improvement from Tianhe-1, which carried no Chinese processors. Titan and its ilk may stand beneath the Milky Way. But without them, it seems, Tianhe would collapse.

Sifu slaps disciples for not caring

In Uncategorized on 19/06/2013 at 5:40 am

WP chief Low Thia Khiang has struck a conciliatory note, calling on all the parties embroiled in the AHPETC hawker centre cleaning dispute to move on and saying that the hawkers “need peace to do business”.

Mr Low said the WP-run AHPETC will continue to work with NEA “to solve problems on the ground and to address the issues”.

“We should move on from the current issue,” he told the media at his Meet-The-People Session in Aljunied GRC last night (12 Jun).

“I would expect the town council to continue to work with NEA for environmental issues on the ground, be it market hygiene, cleanliness, be it littering, be it the dengue fever issue, be it midges at Bedok Reservoir issues,” said Mr Low. (TRE).

As I see it, Low’s words are a rebuke (tight slap?) to Auntie and her favourite Indian man*, contrary to what most TRE readers think, that he was rebuking VivianB. His words echo that of VivianB: that the “hardworking” hawkers deserve better treatment**.

Did Auntie and her man ever show such concern? From a usually anti-PAP publication:

The hawkers’ comments (despite an attempt by a TRE reporter to educate them on the right facts) are not surprising. Those fair-minded and reasonable S’poreans that read what Singh and his Auntie Sylvia have been saying would have been struck that their emphasis was on that the WP town council was not at fault, and that NEA’s actions were all political. There wasn’t much (actually nothing) from Auntie and her man (juz read his or her media statements) about the plight of the hawkers***. They hadn’t yet arranged for the cleaning at the time of Low’s remarks. (And I for one have been avoiding hawker centres in the areas where the WP town council governs. I’ve even checked the boundary maps to make sure I eat in PAP areas.)

To show WP supporters that I’m not biased against Auntie and her man, I was going to do a summary of my understanding of the facts. Fortunately, I was saved by I agree with the summary, and interpretation of what was said , and the nasty but reasonable dig at PritamS, the SMU trained lawyer burok, Pritam Singh should have all his teeth knocked in and for the good of the WP, banned from future press events. That man has never failed to confound and obfuscate instead of clarify. Hear Hear. Maybe sewing his lips is more effective?

He could have added that Auntie’s man scored an own-goal with his lawyer buruk argument that the WP town council only needed to do ceiling-cleaning once a year.

And that Auntie’s. “the letter evidently shows MP Faisal’s awareness that it was not the policy of AHPETC not to clean the high areas of the market during annual cleaning, nor to collect any additional charges from the hawkers; otherwise, MP Faisal would not have written to AHPETC to look into Mr Chan Kheng Heng’s claim”, is the kind of language that trained lawyers use when they want to confuse matters (I speak as a trained lawyer.)

And this is the dog that didn’t bark, The WP TC’s property manager was aware of everything going on – he was CC-ed in emails and forwarded quotations. How could it have escaped him that everyone was pulling in different directions and essentially working against each other? Insidious or sloppy?

Auntie and PritamS have never explained his silence, or allowed him to speak to the public.

While there is no denying that the PAP took advantage of the situation to make the WP look bad (starting with the ST article****,: remember it?, it was PritamS’s response to the article that escalated the matter into a typhoon in an espresso cup. A typhoon that ended only when Sifu Low slapped stepped in. If only he had spoken like his Sifu later did about the hawkers.

Low got a lot of stick for saying WP wasn’t ready to form a govt. But going by what Auntie, Pritam and GG have been doing, he is being realistic. BTW, it’s interesting that it’s these three disciples who are alleged to be trying to get the WP to be a more aggressive co-driver, something I plan to explore in the near future. Watch this space.


*No not defamatory as there were several other Indians working hard in Aljunied, all trying hard to be the WP Indian candidate. Singh got it ’cause Auntie mentored him. It has been alleged that he made it clear that if he wasn’t chosen to stand in Aljunied, he wouldn’t stand elsewhere and would cut the time he spent on WP activities.

**Not that for a moment, do I think he cares about anyone “hardworking”, given his sneers about the elderly poor, while throwing serious money at the Kiddie Games?

***With enemies like these, VivianB doesn’t need friends.

****Whoever got the story into ST must be due for a merit bonus.

“Ugly prostitute”reported to police

In Uncategorized on 14/06/2013 at 5:39 am

West Midlands Police said the man had claimed he met the woman in a hotel car park.


“The caller claimed that the woman had made out she was better looking than she actually was and he wished to report her for breaching the Sale of Goods Act,” a spokesperson for the force said.


“When he raised this issue with the woman concerned, she allegedly took his car keys, ran away from the car and threw them back at him, prompting him to call police.” …

During the call, the man can be heard to say: “I’ve arranged a meeting with her, but beforehand I’ve asked her for an honest description, otherwise when I get there I’m not going to use her services.


“Basically she has misdescribed herself, misrepresented herself totally.


“She was angry because she obviously thinks I owe her a living or something.”

S’pore dissident and rebel suggests an easy, effective & lazy way of undermining PAP rule

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 12/06/2013 at 5:54 am

I had written that new media was like Lao Tzu’s description of water, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox:what is soft is strong.”

.Tan Wah Piow illustrates how the water analogy works (albeit without using the term).

This is how the real “S’pore Dissident* and “S’pore Rebel” defines what he calls “Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace (VMD)” : This force is far more radical, dynamic, reflective of the people’s mood, and certainly more threatening to the PAP than all the opposition parties combined … the “Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace (VMD)”

It is a movement without leaders, organisation, or membership. Yet it has a capacity to grow, and is already setting the political demands for change. The power of this virtual movement lies in its ability to synergise the individual desires for democratic changes in Singapore into real collective political actions. The energy within this virtual movement comes from the decades of pent up frustrations, as well as the feeling of betrayal of the Singapore cause … All of us are now part of this VMD.

It is this VMD which is now setting the political agenda in Singapore. The avalanche of criticisms against AIM, the Population White Paper, and now the control of the Internet are not led by any of the opposition party, but by the uncoordinated collective efforts of individuals in cyberspace. They include those who write articles, bloggers, those who make comments, those who distribute articles through facebook and social media. The VMD would not be a potent political force without a buoyant cyberspace. At the same time, the cyberspace in Singapore would be sterile without the VMD.

( I very strongly commend readers read it. It is the only piece from one of the “usual suspects” on Yaacob’s internet rules that is rational, unemotional, doesn’t tie itself up in contradictions; in short, no BS. The others are “noise”, cocks preening themselves for a Wayang.)

As usual, he calls for the PAP to be kicked out**. But, During the interim, we need more guerrilla-type bloggers and cyber-warriors to counter the current set of regulations. Each time we forward an article we like in cyberspace to our friends and acquaintances, we are actively undermining the legitimacy and dominance of the PAP.

Juz forward articles we like. So simple leh. But then the best strategies are often the simplest. Not the complicated ones.

So, while I don’t share his obsession with overthrowing the PAP (if the PAP does the right things by S’poreans, I’ll vote for it), I share his view on the Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace and how we can grow it the lazy way: juz forward articles we like.

No need to do blackouts or attend protests in the hot sun. Juz use the tools of the wired city-state that the PAP govt has created.

*No disrespect meant to Gopalan and Rajan Nair, the two self-styled S’pore Dissidents. I’m sure even they must concede that Tan has done more for the cause they and he believe in than their combined efforts, which objectively speaking amounts to little more than hot air.

**LKY’s disciple, Lim Kit Siang, had started calling for UMNO to be voted out at about the same time as Tan had started to call for the overthrow of the PAP: since the early 70s. UMNO and the PAP, like Johnnie Walker, are still going strong.

Spinning the attandance at “Free My Internet” rally

In Uncategorized on 08/06/2013 at 6:49 pm

(Opps I waz wrong about ST and MediaCorp, but maybe part of frame-up: see update)

As at 6.15pm, TOC posted, “Over 2000 are at Hong Lim Park for the protest.”

Bet you, SPH, MediaCorp will report, “Less than 500 turned up at Hong Lim protest.”

The issue is “How do they know”? Did anyone do a count? No, is the answer.

It’s a guess, a guess that depends on what the guesser wants others to perceive. Happens all over the world, juz read what the Turkish govt and protestors say about the crowds protesting in Istanbul.

Update on 9th June at 5.45 am: Wah man, pigs can fly! CNA reported “Some 2,000 Singaporeans …”, while ST reported that between 2,000 and 2500 people turned up.

Great to see PAP-stream media using TOC’s estimate. Err maybe cunning plot to turn TOC into a “news” site, not a “noise” commentary site.

Update Update: Reuters said,”More than 1ooo”, while Aljazeera wrote, “Close to 2,000″. Looking as though PAP-stream media out to fix TOC with “news” label.

Update Update Update: This is how Ravi Philemon described the counting method four people were placed at the four different entrances with people counters (device) to count the number of people streaming into the rally. The number from the four different people counters were tallied together at different times during the protest. According this people counters slightly over 2500 people attended the event, and at the peak, there were 2000 together at the rally.

TRE still in blackout mode

In Uncategorized on 07/06/2013 at 6:36 am

I juz visited TRE’s site (6.30am). The blackout sign is still there.

Let’s see how long the sign remains. Maybe a member of the PAP IB brigade managed to “fix” the site so that the PAP and allies and slaves can have a bit less noise for a bit longer

Or maybe TRE decided to remain in the shadows ’cause it joined the Dark Side?

Or techie forgot to remove the sign? Most likely.

Two cheers for today’s S’pore Blackout

In Uncategorized on 06/06/2013 at 8:52 am

Only two cheers because the MDA, ISD, police intelligence unit and local media are giving three cheers for the blackout, they don’t have to monitor the usual suspects. In fact, they are taking the day off and taking their kids for an outing. And ministers too are toasting the blackout: they don’t have to listen to the noise the MDA etc report. They can remove the ear plugs and listen to the sounds of nature.

It’s a gd day to be on the Dark Side.

Sadly for the Dark Side, it only lasts a day, not forever and a day. Normal levels of service (noise to them) will resume tomorrow.

Update at 9.54am: Barrie has got it dead right on the blackout:

Why I am not blacking out

Blacking out your own site because you are against the govt blacking you out is akin to inflicting self-injury because your adversary wants to cause you harm. You are playing into his plan. Isn’t the govt’s intention is to black out non-mainstream media in the first place?

Understanding M Ravi’s bi-polar disorder

In Uncategorized on 02/06/2013 at 5:50 am

We know that lawyer Ravi suffers from bi-polar disorder, a mental illness, and suffers relapses every few years.

I had tot that his relapses were always his fault because he has admitted, after the event, that he failed to take his medicine, when he went weird.

When I came across the u/m article article, I learnt that it isn’t that simple. Taking medicine is only part of the treatment. It’s tough being bi-polar.

Holidays are supposed to be a time for relaxation, but not for Charlotte Walker, a mother and blogger with bipolar disorder. She values the opportunity to spend time with her children, but fears that a change from her routine may mess up the mental stability she works hard to achieve.

And Ravi’s passion (or is it madness?) for justice and fair play doesn’t help.

Finally if you appreciate what he is doing, buy his book.

Peru’s Clown Day

In Uncategorized on 01/06/2013 at 10:49 am

These pics will bring a smile even to the most depressed netizen brought low by Yaacob’s alternative to Coc!

Pinoys been doing it legally for yrs, so why the rants now?

In Uncategorized on 26/05/2013 at 1:18 pm

There has been plenty of noise and rubbish posted online about the Filipinos’ plan to celebrate the 115th Philippine Independence Day at Hong Lim Park. There are those calling it illegal, cursing the Pinoys, and accusing the police of not doing anything to prevent it. Some of the rants veer toward xenophobia or sedition. All because TRE asked legitimate questions about whether the event was legal.

Why the rants only now when this event has been held for at least two years , if not longer, at Hong Lim*? Just google for that fact. So our police allow an illegal event? This is S’pore, not the Philippines, Thailand, M’sia or Indonesia where can suka suka party or riot anywhere, anytime. This is S’pore where Harry’s Law** is enforced.

I asked a police contact whether a permit was needed to stage it, and was told that a permit was needed. Another contact told me that every yr since it began, the Filipino embassy had applied, and been given permission, for the event to be held.

It is not like the Merlion riots demonstrations where garang, qua-lan, and lazy and cowardly (don’t want to go to JB) M’sian FTs working here, unhappy that Anwar lost the M’sian elections, broke the admittedly, very draconian and KS law on the staging of public events without a police permit.

The Filipinos played it by the book, so let them enjoy themselves***, just like other govts allow S’poreans to enjoy themselves on our National Day in their countries’ public spaces.

We may not like the PAP govt’s perceived pro-FT policy, that Pinoy HR managers in MNCs prefer to employ Pinoys, and that Pinoy (and Indian and M’sian and PRC) FT PMETs are taking away jobs or keeping salaries low here: but let’s not be like our constructive, nation-building media (example from Alex Au) or the Todds, who have lost all credibility because they talk rubbish.

Netizens should have a lot more sense than our local media or the Todds. Otherwise, netizens deserve our local media, and the PAP govt.


*When I pointed out to TRE that this event had been an on-going event and gave them the above link, so that TRE could give its readers the facts, the editor asked me to write about it. I don’t blame TRE for not googling before writing its piece because it is a two-person outfit. One man focuses on IT and the other on content. Both have full time jobs, and families. Worse, they have to spend their own money keeping TRE alive: tee-shirts and donations don’t cover the IT costs. And if TRE closes down because of a lack of funds, it’s netizens fault! Open yr wallets. Don’t juz post that you will donate or have donated, then do nothing.

**Everything is prohibited, unless allowed.

***Our NSmen need their Filipino (and SRi Lankan, Burmese and Indon) maids to carry their gear when our NSmen go on route marches.

This China man is doing what our A*STAR talked of doing

In Uncategorized on 26/05/2013 at 5:31 am

Remember the late 1990s and noughties when A*STAR was boasting of our coming prowess in genetics?

Not heard much recently.

Here’s one reason: BGI has grown from nothing a little more than a decade ago to become the world’s biggest genetic sequencing company. China now finds itself at the forefront of the important effort to find genetic components to things like autism and obesity, both projects that BGI is working on, for international clients.

But Wang Jian, one of the founders of BGI, is unhappy that BGI has to train staff, given the low quality graduates that the Chinese education system produces.

Yet, as I understand from uni academics, we are flooded with Chinese researchers.

No wonder A*STAR never made gd its boasts.Wrong FTs leh?

Would this ever happen in a local school?

In Uncategorized on 09/05/2013 at 11:13 am

Would a teacher allow it? Would any student think of it?

A teenager whose self-made Iron Man suit became an online hit has said the experience has inspired him to undertake a career in costume … “Last year my tech teacher said, ‘you come up with an idea’ and I didn’t really want to make a table, so I thought, ‘why not?

Archie Whitehead, 17, from Welwyn Garden City, spent 300 hours making the suit for his school project.

 He said he had received offers from US fans to buy his suit, but said his main aim was to go to university and improve his craft.

 “I would really love to do this as a career,” said the Iron Man fanatic.

 “I know the majority of the studios are based in America, so whether or not I could go there, we’ll see.” …

Alongside the offers to buy the suit, movie fans have also emailed him to see if he would make them bespoke Iron Man costumes – a decision, he said, he would make after his exams.

Wall St wants to party

In Uncategorized on 28/04/2013 at 6:45 am

The American economy grew at just a 2.5% annual pace in the first quarter, it was reported on Friday . While that is up from a 0.4% performance in the fourth quarter of 2012, it came in below expectations for growth at or just above 3%.

But the DJ was up marginally because of the  3.2% rise in consumer spending during the first quarter is the fastest rate since the fourth quarter of 2010.   Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity and  it grew at a pace of 1.8% in the fourth quarter of last year.

Home construction also rose further keeping the market focused on looking at the bright side and not on the industrial production and employment numbers that came out earlier in the month.

Related post:

More Nebula

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2013 at 5:05 am

EagleEagle Nebula (Esa)

Pillars of CreationEagle Nebula (Esa)

Proven e-ideas that the Opposition can use

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2013 at 4:56 am

In S’pore the PAP, and its co-driver, the WP, relies on volunteers or bodies (remember Palmer’s Laura Ong and Stag Yaw’s XXX) walking the ground to bring in the votes. The other opposition parties need an equaliser (juz like the Colt revolver supposedly equalised the balance in fights in the Wild West). They could try the following ideas.

The DAP is doing this in Penang (from a Dow Jones report): Acknowledging that the DAP has been heavily outspent by BN on its home turf, DAP’s Assistant National Publicity Secretary Zairil Khir Johari said on Tuesday that his party is counting on social media to narrow its financial disadvantage and court a critical segment of active voters.

“The DAP is at the forefront of Facebook penetration,” Mr Zairil said. “We’re talking about 12 million Facebook accounts in Malaysia, and pretty much every young adult has one. Not all of them watch television. So we’re targeting Facebook and we’re doing it aggressively.”

The Internet has been a critical fund-raising and canvassing resource for the opposition as a means of circumventing tight government controls over traditional news media.

The DAP says it does not have the resources to fund conventional ad space. But on Facebook, it has rolled out 17 videos, a series of online flyers and other advertisements to reinforce traditional walkabouts and “ceramahs”, a Malay term meaning campaign road-shows.

So far, its Internet presence eclipses that of the ruling party. As of Wednesday, the DAP had 319,251 Facebook “likes” versus the BN’s 52,968. On Twitter, the DAP counts 25,141 followers, while the BN had 14,745.

But the DAP is worried that this may not be enough. The party enjoyed a stealth advantage in 2008 because the BN did not expect to lose and was caught unprepared, Mr Zairil said. This time, it is visibly muscling up.

Well the SDP and NSP might as well try the above tactics given their lack of physical presence on the ground. But the NSP has to built up its on-line presence from near zero. And the co-driver might  want to try these tactics too as a force multiplier. But then it might prefer to be a co-driver, and hoping to share the goodies in a coalition (refer to Pritam’s comments).

Here’s something that one of the wannabe leaders without spear and shield carriers (like Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, s/o JBJ, Ben Pwee) might want to think about: A citizens’ movement mounting an increasingly serious challenge to the Italian political establishment has chosen its candidates for parliament in an unprecedented online vote.

Supporters of the Five Star Movement* made their selection from among 1,400 activists.

Each prospective candidate posted a campaign video in which they introduced themselves.

They set out what they stood for and what they would do if elected on behalf of the movement in polls that are scheduled for the spring.

It is believed to be the first time that a political organisation anywhere has conducted this kind of selection process entirely on the web.

At the very least, this would get some publicity.

Here’s something up TKL’s street (remember before he became the People’s Voice, he was called by ST the “petition king”::

Sites which allow citizens to draft e-petitions for their pet causes are mushrooming. Politicians in Germany created one of the earliest, in 2005, and dozens of countries have followed, most of them within the past three years. America’s “We the People” is perhaps the most successful. Since its launch in 2011 citizens have created nearly 180,000 petitions; since November the total number of signatures has tripled to almost 12m.

Finally here’s an idea the internet savvy SDP might want to play with e.g. testing its public housing and healthcare proposals.

About 1,500 cities, including Chicago and, last year, New York, have also enlisted the public in setting budgeting priorities. In 2012 around a million citizens took part in the annual budgeting process in Rio Grande do Sul, the Brazilian state which also hosted the first such event, in the town of Porto Alegre, in 1989.

In 2011 the state governor collected 1,300 ideas for improving local health care, and then let citizens vote for their 50 favourites; 120,000 people took part. The voting software presented ideas in pairs; users could pick the one they preferred.

Actually, the govt might want to use this idea for NatCon topics to gauge public sentiment.

(The last two examples came from

But For all the talk about new digital technology, the real secret was finding new ways to do something old-fashioned: to talk to voters. The trick was to use new techniques for helping volunteers to find people like them. Taz how Team Obama did it in the US.

At a meeting of Battleground Texas, a new grassroots organising effort started by the former national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign, Jeremy Bird, and run by the Ohio 2012 campaign boss, Jenn Brown. Addressing a packed union hall in Austin, Ms Brown told the crowd that the project ahead of them might take until 2020, and would involve registering, persuading and turning out millions of voters. But here is how we did it in Ohio, she explained. For all the talk about new digital technology, the real secret was finding new ways to do something old-fashioned: to talk to voters. The trick was to use new techniques for helping volunteers to find people like them.

The old way of organising involved hiring 250 field organisers. On a given day before an election they might knock on 50 doors each, meaning that they knocked on 12,500 doors. The new method refined and rolled out by Team Obama in 2012 involves one paid field organiser organising perhaps five neighbourhood team leaders. Each of those volunteer team leaders might then recruit eight volunteers, recruited from a particular neighbourhood. They might all be parents from a single school catchment area, or people with similar work backgrounds or interests.

Miss Brown then clicked on her next slide. With 250 such organisers, overseeing five neighbhourhood team leaders, marshalling eight volunteers each, you can knock on 500,000 doors. It is, she noted cheerfully, “unbelievably exponential”. Nor is this a theoretical finding. On each of the last four weekends before the 2012 election, Miss Brown’s Ohio campaigners “talked physically” to 100,000 voters. That is the same as President Barack Obama’s Ohio margin of victory.

Numbers alone do not win elections. None of this is to dismiss the importance of policies and candidates. But these are numbers that grab the attention.

(Extract from an otherwise irrelevant Economist blog)

*In Italy, the Five Star Movement holds the balance of power. As the BBC describes it “Led by its guiding star, the comedian-turned politician Beppe Grillo, it was born and bred on the internet.

But it emerged from the web and took its argument into town squares all over Italy.”

Horsehead Nebula

In Uncategorized on 21/04/2013 at 6:42 am

Horsehead NebulaHubble's new view of the Horsehead Nebula

The “wrong” or “mistake” that the STTA is trying to put right

In Uncategorized on 18/04/2013 at 5:20 am

When TRE republished this, there were the usual rants, comments against the PAP, govt and Lee Bee Wah.But this is a view worth thinking about

Scrap DSA:

Time to scrap DSA* to elitist top schools like RI.
Many parents use this loop-hole to get an elitist education, the elitist schools get to boast about their sporting achievement.
Once they hit uni, no more sports for them.
What have we achieve in decades of DSA—empty handed.
Still importing sports-persons from PRC.
Solution–huge expansion of sports school. Only those who wants to pursue sports-related career need apply.

[Note under this scheme, good athletes can use their prowess to get into elite schools despite lower academic grades: not a popular scheme for pushy parents of book-worms and the sports school.]

Still, trying to fix a malfunctioning system, doesn’t justify trying to load the dice in favour of weaker players: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Remember the 77 sway lang:

… I don’t know what connection that boy Edric Lim who was recently being nominated for the Asian Youth Games has with Ah Huay’s people but being beaten recently by a RI boy in the Inter-school competition, it’s obvious he’s not the best paddler.

And our money is wasted on full-time trainees who lose to part-timers, as these TRE readers point-out.

Sports School or Play School ?:

Don’t main main bring your Malaysian Bumiputra policy into Singapore Table Tennis ! Meritocracy means only the best players should be selected for competitions, with no special treatment for Sports School players. What’s so great about Sports School players ? They train day and night like full professionals, yet can’t beat RI whose players play table tennis just for ECA. Who has got more talent ?

Dick her mouth:

… If those players in the Sports School (who spend most of their time training, almost like professional layers) can’t even beat players in mainstream schools, what talent have they got ? Did they pay their way into the Sports school, under our pay and pay system ?

It’s a complex issue.

STTA and Lee Bee Wah (in particular) should try to change the system whereby good athletes can get points in lieu of less than sterling results to get into elite schools, at least for ping-pong. But then I suppose that that’s too tough for a mere MP.

Better to bully, push around pushy parents of good ping-pong players who aspire for academic excellence.

Maybe the solution is to encourage ping-pong players who can get into elite schools an incentive to opt for the Sports School? Provide special education facilities to help them excel in their studies?

People who deserve tax-payers’ help & those who don’t

In Uncategorized on 17/04/2013 at 6:09 am

Uncle Leong wrote this not all the poor medical students get help. Good point to counter govt spin on it helping less well-off S’poreans get a uni education.

But it’s a lousy example to use because once the doctors qualify dollars rain on them.

Remember, the losing PAP candidate at Punggol East? According to the constructive, nation-building media, he was a poor  Punggol boy made good via his medical studies. He makes so much $ that he forgot that a two-car family even among professionals is not that common. He tot it was the norm! Bet you he thinks a Mercedes SL and a Porsche SUV and a District 10 bungalow are standard for a professional couple.

And look at the staff car parks at S’pore General Hospital: full of BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes. Can’t be admin staff or nurses? While there are many issues for doctors to consider whether to remain in govt service, they can earn five figure salaries after a few yrs of service.

Poor medical students will have monetary problems (like all poor people), but once they become doctors, the world is their oyster.

What what about this chap? His daughter is going to make serious money, either here or abroad, when she qualifies: so why the sense of entitlement? This despite her lack of four As, but he demands that she shld get into  NUS medical school because it would mean he doesn’t have to sell his flat to finance her studies. I know of kids who have four As who can’t get in. Yet their parents don’t bitch. They get on with financing their kids.

But his sense of entitlement is nothing compared to this guy who bot his son a car for son’s use during NS He has plenty of money, so sit down and shut up.

The ones who need our sympathy and help are those caught in the cycle of despair like And the three examples here cited by SDP (no not ex-millionaire Fandi, or once well-off Terry*).

The cleaner and the three examples cited by the SDP are people who are unable to help themselves: they are like people who need wheel-chairs but don’t have them because they can’t afford them.

They need and deserve tax-payers’ funding to lead dignified but frugal lives because they are unable to help themselves.

Now back to those who don’t deserve tax-payers’ money. Fandi, Terry, the guy who can’t sell his car, the chap who invests in his daughter, and poor medical students are Singaporeans who are in a position to help themselves lead the good life: even a luxurious life.

The two wo guys financing their kids’ overseas studies seem to be bitching that they are entitled to gold and ivory, electrical-powered  wheel-chairs at the expense of other S’poreans. This seems to sum them up:

Chong Pei Lin:

People who are anti-PAP carry personal grievances. If their kids cannot get into a good school, it is the govt’s fault. They will never admit that their kids are not good enough for that school. If the MRT is crowded, it is the govt fault. They will never admit that trains in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai are crowded too during peak hours when everyone is going to work or knocking off from work all at the same time.

*They by all accounts still live well, certainly better than the three cases and the cleaner. And going by what they said, Terry and Fandi bitched to the constructive, nation-building media about the SDP story, ’cause the SDP didn’t give them any goodies for using their name in vain? They forget that the local media does that too, to sell newspapers. Yet they don’t mind. But when the SDP tries to explain its policies (and misguidedly used their names in a good cause), they are upset. and Fandi is consulting his lawyers with a view to suing the SDP.

What is the STTA afraid of? Losing face if its proteges lose?

In Uncategorized on 10/04/2013 at 5:39 am

The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) has changed its selection process* for the 2013 Asian Youth Games (AYG) and 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) following pushy parents’ and the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC)’s objections. The latter had queried the STTA on its nomination process, pointing out, according to ST, that there were other players who were ranked higher than the nominees in the International Table Tennis Federation’s under-18 rankings.

But, as I see it, STTA is still fixing the selection process to get what it wants: preference for its Sports School proteges. Five out of the nine places on the training squad for thesegames are reserved for students from this school. Twenty main stream students have to fight for the remaining four places.

Yet STTA President Lee Bee Wah had the brazen balls to say: “I want to show that the STTA is prepared to be open and transparent about the selection process, and will do so based on merit and have the best represent Singapore.”

“On merit”? Sounds like the M’sian way to me. Give favoured people special privileges. This is not meritocracy.

She went on: “At the same time, we want to emphasise the long-term investment in the Sports School and SWS as the preferred developmental pathway for locals who want to commit themselves and excel in the sport.” So its all about protecting STTA’s patronage interests, is it? Typical M’sian, PRC attitude.

She does on. “While it is true that this doesn’t guarantee success, those who choose the sports school have a better chance of success with an environment that is conducive for training and overseas tournaments.

‘We recognise that there are talented athletes in mainstream schools, and we also will help them pursue their aspirations. But there are practical constraints in that the curriculum of a mainstream school may not accommodate a rigorous training schedule for top-flight competition.”  Today

If STTA thinks that its rigorous training schedule is so impt to success, prove it: let those in the Sports School who can follow it compete with those who can’t. If STTA is right, gd for it. If not, back to the drawing board, albeit with loss of face. Let the results speak for themselves.

Seems STTA is afraid its “favoured’ players will lose, despite all the intensive training.

One can only hope the SNOC refuses to accept this farce of a selection process.

For those who oppose the PAP, the good thing, is that it shows the lie to the PAP claim that it believes in meritocracy., and that S’pore is a meritocracy. Here is a PAP FT MP who gives two fingers to “have the best represent Singapore.”

Related post:


*[T]he STTA said it has revised its selection process for both events. For the YOG, nine places in the squad will be open to six boys and three girls aged 13 to 17, but they must commit to a 30-hour weekly training regimen that includes sparring sessions with the national team twice a week, or a 20-and-a-half-hour programme.

Those who choose the shorter programme must commit for three years but will not be able to train with the national players due to scheduling conflicts.

While five spots will be reserved for SWS students, 20 national youth team paddlers will be invited for trials to fill the remaining four places (two boys, two girls). Today

These nine will then compete in a round-robin contest to determine the best boy and girl to represent Singapore at the AYG.

SDP lost the plot on Fandi Ahmad article

In Uncategorized on 07/04/2013 at 5:29 am

How come other ex-millionaires who face or go thru hard times because they screwed up or were plain unlucky (or both) don’t get the sympathy that this ex-millionaire gets from SDP?

SDP was trying to be too clever by half: Nowhere in the article, which can be read here, did we say – or give the impression – that Mr Fandi and Mr Pathmanathan had endorsed our policies. True up to a point. But this post on TRE gets it about right in its criticism of the SDP: I like SDP, really. but in this case I am very disappointed with their post relating to fandi.

It is lame excuse to say that they are not using fandi to pursue their political objective. Personally I like their alternative plan, but it is WRONG to make use of fandi’s name to propagate their views.

In life things go wrong all the time and people, including celebrities are not immune.

So if SDP’s line of excuse is allowed, than any advertiser of any product can simply quote, if xxxx had bought my product, this misfortune yyy would not happen…blah blah blah. Advertisers will just wait and see for yyy to happen and then jump in.

How can one be so dishonest as to borrow the fame of another person and take advantage of his misfortune in order to propagate a message?

The constructive, nation-building New Paper had got some things right in its criticism on SDP’s article.

Why English humour is tua kee

In Humour, Uncategorized on 04/04/2013 at 7:21 am

April Fools Day: 10 stories that look like pranks but aren’t

Justice in US?

In Uncategorized on 04/04/2013 at 6:57 am

(This posting went AWOL for a few weeks).

Interesting that a true blue S’porean co has to go to the US to seek damages for something done to it in S’pore.

Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean dismissed an application by the US investment bank to make permanent an interim injunction that it had secured against Hong Leong Finance … the Singapore company can proceed with its lawsuit to claw back from Morgan Stanley more than US$32 million paid out to compensate Pinnacle Notes investors.

BT understands that the investment bank has appealed the High Court’s decision and applied for the appeal to be heard on an expedited basis. Excerpt from BT

The Lone Ranger was black

In Uncategorized on 24/03/2013 at 1:42 pm

The Lone Ranger, for example, is believed to have been inspired by Bass Reeves, a black lawman who used disguises, had a Native American sidekick and went through his whole career without being shot.

But somehow John Ford got it right even though John Wayne was white.

The 1956 John Ford film The Searchers, based on Alan Le May’s novel, was partly inspired by the exploits of Brit Johnson, a black cowboy whose wife and children were captured by the Comanches in 1865. In the film, John Wayne plays as a Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his niece who has been abducted by Indians.


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