Tag Archive | "Belmont Lay"

9 ways PAP can engage people online

9 ways PAP can engage people online

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The Government can manage a $200-billion-a-year economy, but keeps getting owned online. NewNation.sg shows the noobs how to do it right.

By Belmont Lay

Even Kim the meme gets in on The Internet

If you recall, at the opening of the 12th Parliament a couple of weeks ago, President Tony Tan was flummoxed in his maiden speech (which is actually written by the Government and read on behalf by the president) about how to go about using “the new media constructively“.

Note how lost the ruling elites really are when it comes to anything online: The moment Tony referred to “new media” as “the new media”, like how really old and out-of-touch people tend to refer to new, modern, contemporary things using the definite article as in “The Blackberry”, “The Facebook”, “The Zouk”, you know at once he and the potentate are clueless about what they are talking about. Read the full story

Thanks Trinetta, for not standing on ceremony!

Thanks Trinetta, for not standing on ceremony!

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Valedictorians have a lot to live up to. You just upped the ante.

By Belmont Lay

The view from the stage is surprisingly good. You can tell who is actually sleeping or iPhoning.

Hello Trinetta, you seriously did a John Cleese!

With just one word, you managed to turn cultured, sterile and dreary pomposity on its head.

And provided a spot of fun and spontaneity to the proceedings.

I should know because three weeks ago, I was invited back to NUS (my alma mater) to sit on stage and watch this year’s commencement ceremony.

Despite me being a dunce, the organisers made me wear a Zorro-meets-burrito-seller hat and shoulder-padded blue graduation gown, which was what the rest of the uberacademics and professors were wearing (in some form or another).

Sharing the dubious and undeserved honour of being on stage with all these beautiful minds made it fun and novel for me!

But can I say everyone else in that auditorium being a graduand or watching the commencement was having a ball of a time as well?

Certainly not!

From where I was seated on stage, I could see the audience in various states of concussion, with many others passing in and out of consciousness.

And this was only after the first invited speaker took over the microphone!

Many others were madly molesting their iPhones, obviously Angry Birding.

Still more others were in a state of fantasy, while several were displaying classic signs of incontinence: Fidgety, crossing their legs and trying not to grimace.

Last but not least, I could tell from the faces of some who were trying to will themselves to die or for the ceiling to collapse. So they could find an excuse to leave.

But because of valedictorians like you, you turned uneventful into memorable.

I remember two years ago when I was attending my commencement ceremony, the valedictorian from my batch executed a sleight of hand.

He had submitted his pre-written speech for vetting to whoever gets paid in the university to vet stuff, abiding by the standard protocol.

But being the cheeky bastard he is, he did the classic switcheroo: He pulled another script from his pants on the actual day of commencement and went on stage to give a speech that was completely different from what had been pre-written and approved. (Now I’m seriously thinking this kind of thing happens more often than people realise.)

The point is that he knew he could get away with it, saying what was not pre-arranged, veering away from the beaten path of approved boringness.

And there was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it.

Think about it: When given the chance to amaze, bamboozle, showboat and wow the bejesus out of your audience, why would anyone play it THAT safe?

What was the Dean to do? Withhold his degree? Call the police? Radio campus security?

Think about it: When given the chance to amaze, bamboozle, showboat and wow the bejesus out of your audience, why would anyone play it THAT safe?

Isn’t it worse to bore your listeners to death? Isn’t that a greater disservice?

Boredom is offensive to people, especially those like me, you know.

Boredom is the most intolerable form of death besides being burnt at the stake.

If I had to choose between death by boredom or castration, I’m inclined to pick the latter.

Even better still: Lock me in a room facing a wall for 24 hours with only bread and a dish of water as accompaniment.

And if you dare let me out: I’ll cave in and admit with gay abundance to all 17 counts of unsolved homosexual rape in the last five years.

Simply because I hate catching a case of boredom. It’s more deplorable than Ebola.

Therefore, what’s wrong with pushing the envelope and being spontaneous?

Some people, like this Bennie Cheok guy find time in their day to be professionally displeased enough to write to The Straits Times forum page decrying how using an expletive is “unnecessary”.

I believe Siew Kum Hong said the same too when interviewed by The New Paper.

Whether it is “necessary” or not is besides the point!

Come on! How many things in life are truly necessary besides breathing, drinking and eating?

I say: Blurting out what traditionally shouldn’t be said or done should be the new tradition set by valedictorians.

If you can’t or wouldn’t do it, you shall be roundly booed off stage by your peers.

So here’s the point of today’s missive: You just got to know when to break the rules some times.

So Trinetta, all I can say is that you got it refreshingly right (Which is why you got that rapturous applause!).

For that, thank you fucking very much.

Bye bye, Tan Kin Lian?

Bye bye, Tan Kin Lian?

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Why Singapore presidential hopeful Tan Kin Lian isn’t an automatic shoo-in.

By Belmont Lay

NTUC not company meh?

TAN Kin Lian might, after all, not be eligible to be president of Singapore based on a technicality.

Here’s why: Tan was the CEO of NTUC Income, a “co-operative insurance society” registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, which although strives for “commercial leadership” in its “business“, is actually structured differently from a company registered under the Companies Act.

So, in English, this means that Tan was NOT AND NEVER WAS the CEO of a company incorporated or registered under the Companies Act.

And if you check out the Singapore Elections Department list of Qualifications for Candidates seeking to become president, it is stated in no uncertain terms that one of the essential criteria for presidential aspirants is that they must have served as CEO (or as chairman of the board of directors) of a company incorporated or registered under the Companies Act.

Still not convinced? Here’s more.

When you google “Tan Kin Lian”, you will most likely find displayed among the top three results, his Wikipedia entry.

In his entry, it is stated that Tan is the “former CEO of NTUC Income”.

Next, follow the NTUC Income link at the footnote and you’ll arrive at its official website and click on its About Us page where it is stated in black and white that “NTUC Income, a co-operative insurance society formed in 1970″, was initiated by Goh Keng Swee (bless his soul).

So are we really splitting hairs when we try to make heads or tails of a co-operative and a company?

Sure as hell!

Therefore, to dig further, simply google “co-operative vs company singapore” because you want to find out what’s the difference between them and you will most likely find your query answered by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation’s FAQ page, which should be displayed as one of the top three results.

In it, transmitted through the ones-and-noughts of the supreme Internet, are three ways a co-operative is different from a company.

Primo: Voting in a co-operative is determined by one-member-one-vote policy but voting in a company is determined by type and number of shares held. (Think Singapore Press Holdings where there exists ordinary shares for mortals and not-so-ordinary-200-times-voting-power management shares if you’re part of the potentate.)

Secundo: A co-operative is an association of members while a company is an association of capital (an association I actually find damn sexy).

Tertio: The objective of a co-operative is to serve members’ needs while a company is to maximise profits for its shareholders. (Think SPH again!)

And to bludgeon the nail and seal the lid on the coffin, do spend four seconds to read the PDF document stating the by-laws of NTUC Income.

It states in page one that NTUC Income is registered under the Co-operative Societies Act.

So here’s the point of today’s missive: I stated before that Tan Cheng Bock must be bonkers if he honestly (or rather naively) thinks that his take on the 1987 so-called Marxist conspiracy can be buried and hidden from public scrutiny.

Sure, Tan Kin Lian might have been CEO for 30 years with a business that manages capital of $20 billion and beyond, but I just hope he will not join the club for the bonkers if he thinks that the Presidential Elections Committee will lay the red carpet out for him.

Because I hate false hope. Likewise for the multitudes out there who are counting on him.

Editor’s note:

This article was edited on July 5, at 5.25pm after it was first published for the following reason:

While Tan Kin Lian isn’t the CEO of a company, he may still qualify on the basis that he is “in any other similar or comparable position of seniority and responsibility in any other organization or department of equivalent size or complexity in the public or private sector which, in the opinion of the Presidential Elections Committee, has given him such experience and ability in administering and managing financial affairs as to enable him to carry out effectively the functions and duties of the office of President.”

We thank Wong Chun Han for pointing this out.

What this means is that whether Tan Kin Lian contests is still the decision of the Presidential Elections Committee. It’s no longer obvious that he will stand for elections.

Global niches

Global niches

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Solely focusing on hyperlocal content, in some cases, is the sure way to journalism hell.

Terence Lee

When New Nation first began, we envisioned it as a hyperlocal website — much in the vein of established Singapore players like The Online Citizen, Temasek Review, and Yawning Bread.

Heck, Shihan and I graduated from TOC, which is pretty much the most recognised independent current affairs group blog around today. Belmont had online journalism experience too, serving in an online campus paper where he met the love of his life.

With such a crowded field (since then many others — Satay Club, VFC etc — have spawned), we needed to differentiate ourselves, so we decided to go with an off-beat, tongue-in-cheek, rude and raunchy style — current affairs for the not-so-interested, the apathetic, and restless. We decided also to feature more lifestyle and finance content.

Well, we got flamed for it — by the folks at TOC no less. But that’s not the important point. For us, it was a matter of necessity: Being a TOC clone was a sure way to hell. In a crowded pond, the surest way to draw attention is to be different.

Fast forward to today. Our readership is almost double now post General Election than pre, although growth is slow.

And something else dawned upon me: Hyperlocal no longer seemed to make sense.

Hyperlocal works if you are the first-mover, a pioneer in a community underserved (or, if you have shitloads of money, like Yahoo!). When TOC went online, it was a wide open field: All the other fish had died or were still eggs. Now, there are too many publications and too little time: People have only 24 hours to spare.

When Shihan gamely approached Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, for advice on whether New Nation will work, he said no.

Reason? Singapore is too small a market. Amen to that. Of course, he said other things too, but that is for us to know.

I think Sivers made a very good point. Before the Internet existed, publications were limited by geographical boundaries. To be trans-national, you had to be rich enough to pay for shipping to get magazine into newsstands worldwide.

Today, the cost of starting and distributing content is much cheaper: You can even do it at zero monetary cost.

While this creates the problem of a long tail of Internet content that varies in quality, it creates another opportunity: The ability to distribute content to previously untapped niche areas that are unbounded by geographical limits.

They are what I call ‘global niches’.

Think goth culture. Or cosplayers. Or Little Monsters. These subcultures transcend nationality, because what they represent are values, ideas, and personalities, things which are easily transferable from one country to another.

Globalisation creates two phenomena: Homogenisation, where cultures melt into one, and heterogenisation, where cultures absorb elements from other cultures to form new ones. Both are happening at the same time.

And I believe this presents an untapped potential for publishers and content producers like ourselves: It is possible for a Singaporean to write something with global appeal without losing his/her local audience.

I suggested this to my fellow editors. I think broadly speaking, we embrace the idea of going international. But ideas are free, what matters is how we execute it. There are many challenges: How many global niches should we aim for, without losing ourselves? How do we retain reader loyalty with such a diverse crowd? How do we ensure our content gets picked up by the people we want to reach?

As a baseline, we still hope to reach out to Singaporean readers. We have amazing content planned that will continue to appeal to them. But starring at our naval isn’t going to get us anywhere in terms of readership and ultimately revenue. We need to aim higher.

Will the name New Nation continue to be relevant? When we began, I took the word ‘nation’ in its 20th Century meaning, that of a ‘nation-state’. We took the name from an old Singapore newspaper that no longer existed. That newspaper went defunct before the age of the Internet.

But perhaps our usage of the word has to evolve as well.

Does race, language, geographical distance, still matter today?

Yes, certainly. But their significance is diminishing.

Perhaps ‘New Nation’ can be a rallying call, a vision of an ideal future governed less by the colour of one’s skin than by the beliefs one holds.

In a connected world, that is certainly possible.

Lee Kuan Yew: Not easily ditched

Lee Kuan Yew: Not easily ditched

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As much as The Cabinet wants to maintain a distance, His Leeness could still spring a surprise at an inopportune moment.

By Belmont Lay

It's about time for His Leeness to leave The Cabinet.

SO, what does it REALLY mean for His Leeness and SM Goh Chok Tong to leave The Cabinet?

Honestly, I don’t know and I won’t pretend like I do.

But I’m game enough to hazard a guess.

And truth be told, anyone’s guess is just as good because quite apparently, no one knows what on Earth stepping down entails (because it has never happened before, and hence, shows you the extent of the problem in the first place), although it is driving everyone into a tizzy.

But before we move on with the topic, let’s do everyone a favour and recap who said what.

First in line, Chiam See Tong (bless his soul) claims to be “surprised”. So, he doesn’t exactly know what happens next but his sentiment is shared by 2 million other Singaporeans.

Just so he is famous, his natural reaction becomes news. But that’s ok.

Nothing new here.

Moving along, PAP’s Halimah Yacob says that Singapore is ready to surge ahead without the two ex-Prime Ministers.

Ok, sounds about right, because maybe she knows something we don’t.

Then again, not. This sentiment is probably shared by one million other Singaporeans, especially those who have felt this way since 1959 and who have voted for the Opposition for as long as there were elections (or opposition candidates).

Nothing new here either. So maybe we should check up on the younger folks from the incumbent.

In the all-white corner, Baey Yam Keng feels that rookie MPs like him will finally get a chance to speak out against policies that were implemented during the two ex-rulers’ regime.

Because since they are now gone from The Cabinet, His Leeness and Goh can’t give him a tongue-lashing of a rebuttal.

But sadly, no one agrees with him on this one because everyone knows that wearing all-white means there can be no disagreement.

Because if you were to ask all the PAP MPs if there is groupthink, they will all say “No!” – in unison.

Therefore, never mind that Baey is in the business of public relations. And never mind about the groupthink. And never mind about the irony.

We have the son of a firebrand calling his bluff: Kenneth Jeyaratnam thinks stepping down now is a public relations exercise and all hogwash.

And this view is probably only shared by one thousand other Singaporeans – those who still believe that Kenneth is channeling Joshua Benjamin, his father.

So never mind Kenneth too, because we need someone astute who can give us something piercingly insightful.

And on comes Dr Vincent Wijeysingha (who is awesome) as he welcomes the news of the retirement from The Cabinet as long as such steps to relinquish power is not cosmetic and more widespread, especially in government-linked sectors.

His thinking is so brilliant and so far ahead, I actually thought it is the most enlightening thought of all.

And his running mate, Tan Jee Say, even suggested calling for by-elections in Tanjong Pagar and Marine Parade GRC, because voters voted PAP on the assumption that His Leeness and SM Goh will live as long as there is a Singapore left to serve the constiuents.

Amen.

Finally, there is even a bear that reckons stepping down is really all arsed.

He can be inside or outside The Cabinet, it doesn’t really matter. His Leeness can easily ditch the title and the salary. But can The Cabinet easily ditch him?

So, to re-iterate, what can any sane Singaporean with an average IQ, take away from all these?

As you can tell by now, the answer is nowhere in between: It is all over the place.

But, well, one can always take a cue from the most quotable quote that sears right into the brain without having to exercise any critical faculties.

We shall bring on Halimah Yacob again.

The Jurong GRC MP said it best with her description of His Leeness: “Singapore is Him and He is Singapore.”

Wow.

Even though I’m here pulling faces, I kind of feel that she might just be right.

His Leeness might have been taken out of The Cabinet. But surely, there is no way The Cabinet can be taken out of His Leeness.

Simply put, as Halimah has mentioned, He is essentially Singapore.

The fact is that His Leeness is influential, omnipotent and omnipresent. And will be for as long as he is alive and kicking.

He can be inside or outside The Cabinet, it doesn’t really matter.

His Leeness can easily ditch the title and the salary.

But can The Cabinet easily ditch him?

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: His Leeness gives the phrase “old age creeping up on you” a whole new different meaning.

Literally. All 88 years of it.

When you least expect it, he might just sneak up from behind and beat you over the head with a stick.

Just ask George Yeo.

But just don’t ask if the blunt force trauma was intentional or unintentional.

Because uncertainty is the mother of all warnings.

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Our views on MM Lee and SM Goh’s exit

Our views on MM Lee and SM Goh’s exit

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Let’s be frank: We’re skeptical about their departure from The Cabinet.

By the editors of New Nation

Lovingly captioned from www.news.gov.sg

MM Lee Kuan Yew and SM Goh Chok Tong called it a day as cabinet ministers on 14th May, 2011.

This is a momentous day, no? Honestly, we don’t know and we have yet to find out.

So does this mean both ex-PMs can no longer go around beating the other parliamentarians over their heads anymore? Or can they?

We can only wait to find out.

We have heard quite a bit from the mainstream media about what old, stuffy foggies have to say about this occasion.

Here at New Nation, the three editors with a combined age of 77 years old (which is only 10 years older than an average Straits Times reader), pick each others’ brains for the answer.

Here are our responses to four basic questions:

1. Where was I when I heard the news?
2. What does it mean to me?
3. Why now?
4. Is there an alternative meaning?

Lovingly captioned from www.asiaone.com

Terence’s response:

1. I was at home minding my own business. The first thing I remember doing after hearing the news was telling my dad about it.

2. I hope the move is just the first of many changes they’ll make. I think it’s an effective move, a sure crowd-pleaser for a population hungry for change. But the PAP cannot stop there; they need to dig deeper into existing policies and address issues Singaporeans are concerned about. Like skyrocketing HDB prices. Otherwise Singaporeans will move to JB.

3. I don’t find the timing at all surprising. The move is an admission that the two giants have lost touch with the ground. It’s just a pity they didn’t recognise this earlier; it’s like they have finally woken up from their slumber after being bitch slapped by a legion of Singaporeans.

4. The pressure is now on our Prime Minister to deliver change. Tactically, the move by the two Guardians of Singapura would force the government in a different direction. That’s because if Xiao Lee doesn’t deliver, the dramatic gesture would then look like mere tokenism, which wouldn’t sit well with the electorate. This is a moment that could define his legacy.

Belmont’s response:

1. I was in the car when my girlfriend got on and alerted me about it. That was about 630 p.m. (a bit late, I know) because I am usually woefully ignorant of anything earth-shattering as I still refuse to carry a smartphone.

2. The surprise of the announcement turned into skepticism in about three seconds. Why now? That’s the major question still bugging me since Saturday! Because does it really make a difference if both ex-PMs operated from outside the Cabinet? If Hu Jintao showed up next week bringing tea looking for His Leeness, it will still be official but in an unofficial manner, no? Business as usual in all aspects but title, right? Up till now, I’m still considering the shrewdness of such a move. This is politics so no one can ever take anything at face value.

3. The timing of such moves are always suspect because almost nothing in politics is not deliberate. Yes, the ground sentiment towards the PAP has turned foul in recent years, but both men could have ride it out, no? Reading the speculations online and the official explanation from the joint press statement released by both ex-PMs did not do much in sensing something else is brewing. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

4. I feel that His Leeness simply cannot exit this life holding onto the title of Minister Mentor because it just does not look good in his biography. What would historians say? They’ll say he is a tyrant. Or something like that.

Instead of controlling his people, SM Goh can now focus on controlling his weight.

Shihan’s response:

1. I stepped out of the shower and was watching a Taiwanese variety show while letting my hair dry. Partner’s mum broke the news to me and compared MM Lee stepping down to Japanese Ministers quitting after something goes wrong.

2. It means leadership renewal. Like really, instead of merely paying lip service. It also means that the PAP is finally taking voter sentiment seriously. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean anything much in terms of concrete change because the two fellas will still be serving as MPs, and will still command a sense of influence within the echelons of the elite. But a symbolic change is still better than no change at all.

3. Nao, because GE is just over and change just gave the PAP a big tight slap in the face. They have finally woken up their idea after a shocking 60% win and they’ve realised they somehow need to appease the masses. The online media has been building up MM Lee as demon without par so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s the first sacrifice. Also probably because he’s been making inchoate remarks to the international press the past few years and the foreign ministry’s tired of cleaning up his piss.

4. An alternative meaning to the retirement of MM Lee and SM Goh? Maybe MM Lee just wanted to retire and the cabinet didn’t want SM Goh to be promoted to MM. Might as well retire the both at once.

What are your thoughts on their exit from The Cabinet? Do share with us!

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PAP, be warned

PAP, be warned

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Eff around with the people again, and you can be sure we will do another George Yeo on you.

By Belmont Lay

What do Tin Pei Ling and Annoying Orange have in common?

THERE’S no other polite way I can put this: 7th May, 2011 will go down in history as the day when close to one million Singaporeans tore the PAP a new asshole.

For the ruling party to have won only 60.01 percent of all valid votes this General Election, is a very pathetic showing.

It’s akin to Man U beating Swansea City 1-0. And only because Man U played Swansea on the condition that Man U uses a futsal goal post.

And the Swansea goalkeeper must be a Paralympian.

Simply put, this result is telling. It is an indication of the beginning of a new era where Singaporeans, which includes Yours Truly, refuse to take any crap from anyone, less so from the ruling elite.

And truth be told, the supposedly biggest and most powerful machinery is not delivering the goods to the people who are increasingly empowered to hold it accountable.

To start this discussion proper, let me give you vivid examples instead of harping on trite analogies.

The PAP’s Marine Parade GRC team led by the lanky titan Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who still appears a bit gormless to me, scored a mere 56.6% win against a new NSP team led by Spencer Ng (Hey bro! Sup man?!).

But looking only at the figures for valid votes is half the story. Let’s also look at the number of votes that were not cast.

For the record, 8.6 percent of the 154,451 voters (or 13,282 residents) in Marine Parade GRC decided they were going to stay home to make love or clean out the cardboard or pat the dog or cook pasta or go to JB or do dirty dancing for the rest of Polling Day. This makes the Marine Parade GRC the holder of the title for the lowest voter turnout.

To put this no-show number in perspective, the Workers’ Party led by God Himself, won Aljunied GRC by 12,433 votes.

And this no-show is serious.

Voters would rather abscond with the poll card than bother to show up to spoil the vote. And they would rather run the risk of being struck off the electoral list the next time round for being absent this GE than having to choose between NSP and PAP.

And I know why.

The no-shows of Marine Parade GRC didn’t want to vote for the NSP team led by Spencer (You the man, bro!) because he might be relatively inexperienced. And also partly because the NSP team showed up two weeks before Nomination Day and their quality was hard to judge.

But neither did they want to vote for a drooling vegetable known as Tin Pei Ling, who also happens to look and sound like Annoying Orange.

More importantly, Goh Chok Tong, Fatimah Lateef (who has teapot ears), Seah Teh Peng and ex-SAF regular Tan Chuan-Jin are not attractive enough, especially not so because they were coercing people to choose Annoying Orange too.

And let’s look at the other stats: The Workers’ Party secured 45.2 percent of votes in East Coast GRC.

The Singapore People’s Party managed 43.1 percent in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC against PAP led by Wong Kan Seng (who also has teapot ears).

The National Solidarity Party scored 42.8 percent against Affordable Mah in Tampines GRC.

In other words, PAP almost lost four GRCs overnight.

Now that the report card is out, there is talk that PAP is doing some soul-searching to find out what caused the overall slump.

Why not consult me? I am a true blue Singaporean. I can tell you what went wrong having spent my whole life under the PAP regime.

Simply put, the politics of misdirection, arrogance, entitlement and double standards must stop if the PAP wants to woo the younger voters and not look like ingrates and turd-like in the eyes of older ones.

1. Misdirection: When WP came out with their manifesto about wanting to move towards a First World Parliament, what happened? As WP chief Low Thia Khiang put it, His Leeness was “jumping up and down” and getting livid over WP’s show hand gamble and harping on Aljunied GRC’s property prices.

Singaporeans no longer appreciate this kind of politics of misdirection. Address the issue directly, especially about a First World Parliament, rather than trying to beat us over our heads with a stick.

Graphic: CARTOON PRESS

2. Arrogance: Never, ever promise the electorate you can provide them with everything. Never only say sorry three days before Polling Day and never force the electorate to accept another Annoying Orange.

The method of picking candidates has to change. No more tea sessions that obviously don’t work because it cannot even spot God Himself from a mile away and the psychological testing should go the way of the typewriter.

3. Entitlement: Trying to justify why ministers make so much money is going to blunt PAP’s appeal to anyone who makes less than $30,000 a year.

Having front page say in the national newspaper is not helping either because it makes you all seem more powerful than you really are and having the mandate of Heaven to be featured ad nauseam.

For PAP to be able to pick and choose which candidates stay and which should be pawned in GRCs would give us not much choice except more Tin Pei Lings and less George Yeos.

Shouldn’t the people who are voting be entitled to choose instead? More SMC contests anyone?

4. Double standards: Vivian Balakrishnan, who annoys the hell out of a lot of people, straight or gay, got a direct answer from Chee Soon Juan when he wanted to know if the SDP had a gay agenda (Which is utterly nonsensical because there is no such thing as a “gay agenda” to begin with).

And when Vivian, who has a girl’s name, is asked to reveal the accounts for YOG, he hams and haws and acts like $300 million spent is all worthwhile.

Plus, for all the PAP talk about scrutinising opposition candidates for this GE, they couldn’t practise a little introspection.

Annoying Orange flouted campaigning rules at least twice, once before Nomination Day and then during Cooling Off Day as well, and then what happens?

Nothing. Precisely.

The Elections Department claims to be unable to deal with it, so they can take their rules and shove it.

So, that’s the round-up. But there’s more.

Yam Ah Mee, who is the new sex, has his stellar announcements to thank when more women (and some men) approach to bed him.

And this annoys the hell out of a lot of people as well because Ah Mee kept announcing PAP the winner for every GRC even when they only received 60.14 percent of the valid votes.

So, herein lies the point of today’s missive: 81-6 annoys a lot of people.

But that’s okay for now because the journey Towards A First World Parliament means more PAP candidates will be George Yeo-ed in 2016.

I can’t wait.

Caveat: Author is the boyfriend of Nicole Seah and her election agent for GE2011. Read with discretion.

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Vote responsibly, say ‘No’ to arrogance

Vote responsibly, say ‘No’ to arrogance

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I am 27 years old and I am voting for the second time in my life. What do I want out of my vote?

By Belmont Lay

Lee Kuan Yew

Young peepur..I dare you to vote opposition...go...vote...vote...see what happen..

THE PAP mantra is to be everything and anything to Singaporeans, even when it amounts to nothing logical.

They are determined to give you both the ruling and opposition voice; a Swiss standard of living even though your hard earned cash is locked up in your HDB flat; plus, carrots and sticks to treat and beat you over your head with once every GE. 

They’re so good they give you all the problems and solutions so you will never run out of either.

Not only that, I also realised the PAP can give you the question and answer – all in the same day – if you happen to read the local papers.

In Today on April 30, there is an article where Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam asked: Dear opposition, come up with concrete examples where PAP have been arrogant or else what you’re saying is hot air.

Shanmugam’s assertion is that there are no such instances (because you see, rather ironically, PAP is very humble in making such a strong assertion in the first place) and the opposition are just mudslinging, especially during the rallies.

By a stroke of luck, in the same day’s copy of The Straits Times, I found that concrete example.

Lee Kuan Yew said: “If they (the Aljunied constituents) choose the opposition, then I say, good luck to them. They have five years to ruminate and to regret what they did. And I have no doubts they will regret it.”

Paraphrasing, Lee basically said: “Young peepur… You vote lah… vote…I dare you to vote…go…go….later you regret don’t say I never tell you..go…”

Solid? His Leeness’ point is that property prices in Aljunied GRC will go tits up simply because… well, I really don’t understand how but he insists it will because he thinks he is god (which is stupid because everyone knows Chen Show Mao is God and the property market has many interlinkages that will not be easily affected due to the imposition of some piss-headed artificial boundary scheme called the GRC.)

There you go, Shanmugam, your concrete example that PAP is arrogant.

His Leeness’ statement is reeking with so much overbearing hao lian-ness and hubris that I guarantee you, many young folks like myself are going to vote Workers’ Party in, or rather, vote George Yeo and company out, if given the chance.

Why am I so sure?

Because His Leeness has the cheek to say that property prices will go down if Low Thia Khiang and gang make it into parliament. Then you hire Mah Bow Tan to cool property prices for what? For fun?

While we’re at it, might as well ask voters to vote in more opposition to tame the property market as a whole. Firing Mah will save taxpayers some and he won’t be around to make a hash out of everything anymore.

But that’s not what’s getting my goat today.

What is really getting my goat is this talk about talent and how the PAP possesses every damn device to locate them.

You hear a lot about this PAP machinery churning out talent like nobody’s business. Going toe-to-toe with all else out there, they have what it takes to form the next leadership.

Right? Well, right my ass.

As far as I’m concerned, the only semi-proper account of how this talent-scouting works is given in His Leeness’ memoirs in which he talks about countless tea sessions doubled up as opportunities for character assessment and clinical psychological testing like those used to spot astronauts.

Okay. First major rebuttal: After countless rounds of tea and some testing, the PAP throws up a 27-year-old jackass?

What kind of herbal tea have they been drinking?

And second point of rebuttal: Hello? Nicole is in the National Solidarity Party… Oh wait. Even better still. Workers’ Party opened their doors and hearts one fine day and in walked God Himself.

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: I want more out of my vote. I want it to be a humbling experience.

And here’s another driver-vehicle analogy: I refuse to barrel down the street blind-folded in a school bus with my future children inside when the PAP is at the driver’s helm. It’s bad enough that Mah’s sitting in there with me; the PAP has to keep telling me it’s all nice and cosy (supposedly like a HDB flat Mah built) when I know I might turn turtle.

Look, I’m not going to trust anything you say simply because you think you have our mandate to say it.

And if you honestly think that you really do have the mandate, you are just being arrogant.

Again.

Caveat: Author is the election agent and boyfriend of Nicole Seah. Read with discretion.

Confessions of the Virgin Voters

Confessions of the Virgin Voters

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New Nation presents a unique way of covering the elections.

By Terence Lee

Here's our first Virgin Voter graphic - the Schoolgirl Virgin Voter! Put this up on Facebook and make your confession.

THIS year, I will be voting for the first time, and so will my fellow editors (except Belmont, who’s an old timer). There are about 100,000 people like us; maiden voters who are about to catch the excitement of the polls.

While one of our writers has said that voting is like having sex, I disagree.

Voting is better than sex. Or chocolate. Why? Because while an average person is likely to do the dance countless times, contingent on the fact that he or she has the EQ to get laid, that same person may reach 80 and never get a chance to vote. Ever.

That’s especially true if you live in a constituency where no opposition dare to tread.

For the luckier ones, assuming we live till a 100 and the elections happen once every five years, we’d get at most 16 shots at the voting booth.

If I were you, I’d be super invigorated.

Therefore, we folks at New Nation want to celebrate the fact that we’ll be Virgin Voters. From today onwards, you’ll be hearing from many first-timers about their thoughts towards the elections, the candidates, and the proceedings.

Some of us will even be providing coverage of our respective constituencies, speaking to MPs, candidates, and voters. We’ll be attending rallies and walkabouts, giving you our unique take on the elections, through the eyes and dirty minds of a virgin voter.

Now, as you know, it takes two to tango.

While, we, the editors and writers of this humble online magazine, are eager to get off the starting block, we are counting on you, the reader, to contribute with us. Whether you are a virgin voter or a second timer, it doesn’t matter. And if you’re 60 and doing it for the first time, there’s no shame in that.

And we don’t care whether you’re pro-PAP, or anti-PAP, lesbian or straight, passionate or blah. Here’s how you can help:

1) Write for us. Or help with photography and making videos. Share your thoughts about the elections, and we’ll publish them. If you’d like to take this one step further and cover the elections in your constituency, do let us know too. Email us at [email protected] if you’re interested.

2) Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and share the gospel of the Virgin Voters with your heathen friends.

3) Share the pride of being a Virgin Voter using one of our unique Facebook display pics. We will be launching new ones every week on our Facebook page. Don’t like them? Why not create your own, and share it with your friends, and us?

Together, let’s make our first time a less scary one!

Hey local journalist! Kishore says you no chutzpah

Hey local journalist! Kishore says you no chutzpah

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Tom Plate was charming, patronising and self-contradictory at the same time. What about Kishore Mahbubani? He was just condescending.

By Belmont Lay

ALRIGHT it’s official: Even though I think American journalist Tom Plate is a rotund, ruddy-faced hardcore media junkie and a somewhat perplexing character, he is great fun as an interviewee.

Tom – let’s just agree to first-name him for being such a jolly good fellow – besides being informal, relaxed and enjoys making wisecracks matter-of-factly, is verbose, organised, anecdotal and quotable, to say the least.

He makes for an interviewer’s wet dream because he takes on any question you throw at him. But beware, as he is also pretty slick at the art of evasively manoeuvering around the topic.

Naturally, this says nothing about being a good sport for not answering the question at all. But usually, and particularly so in Tom’s case, what is not said speaks louder than what is articulated. (Read rest of transcript of conversations with Tom Plate here.)

So when I went to his book launch talk on Feb. 24 at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), I was there baiting for a good quote or two.

Since Tom was presenting on how he had written both his books on conversations with Asian leaders abiding by journalistic standards of hard questioning, while borrowing liberally from Los Angeles screen writers practice of employing evocative prose in the present tense, I had to ask him this during the Q&A segment:

“Do you think that the style and methodology of your book would have worked if it was written by a local journalist? If not, what does it say about you, Lee Kuan Yew, Mahathir and the state of our media?”

To Tom’s credit, and he denies it’s an ego thing, he had a good reason when he said no local journalist could have written those books about conversations with LKY and Dr. M.

And that’s because he wrote them as an outsider with new insights to showcase:

“Why would you bring some white guy with crazy hair from LA (to interview Dr. M in Kuala Lumpur)? The answer is that it is a silly idea, or the answer is that some outsider brings in some value-add precisely because they are an outsider.

“And the funny thing about an outsider? You ever had a situation you had a long-lost relative visit you for a long weekend? And you wind up telling them things you wouldn’t tell your next door neighbour? Because you know on Tuesday they’re gone, while the next door neighbour’s going to be there? There’s that: You are able to strike a measure of intimacy precisely by being an outsider.

“Do I think this format would have worked if a Malaysian journalist would have done it, or a Singaporean journalist would have done it? Honestly – and it has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with me, please, I don’t want to, as self-regarded as I am – I don’t think so. I don’t think it would work.

“Because in the media environment of Singapore and in KL, it is a certain specific environment and to write this kind of book you have to step out of it somehow. And I think that would be very hard to do. On the other hand, in a book done by Singaporeans, and there’s this book Hard Truths, which I reviewed but I don’t know if you saw on The Straits Times on Tuesday, I think it’s a brilliant book… but that book, I couldn’t have written. And I frankly don’t think anybody in that team could have written that book I did.”

Like I said, Tom is awesome at this business of being modest but honest and compelling at the same time.

And when he asked if he had answered my question, I said, “Sort of”.

When he became bent on answering what he might have missed, I prodded him:

“It’s just the impression that you were used to portray Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir through the eyes of a foreigner or Westerner to make them much softer than they really are.”

And this set him off in another direction and here’s where the contradiction surfaced when Tom said:

“Well, the fact of the matter is that I asked Lee Kuan Yew questions that I don’t think any Singaporean journalist has ever asked Lee. I was able to ask questions that were harder than local journalists might ask because I’m not a citizen here. I’m going back to Los Angeles because what’s he going to do? Take my citizenship away?”

Was Tom Plate suffering from superiority complex when he said no local journalist could have written his books? No, not really.

But was his self-contradiction about Hard Truths missed by those present? No, barely. I met at least three people who used this point to exchange pleasantries with me after the talk.

Because Tom has a point and that is also the point of today’s missive: Once you’re instilled with fear, journalism is screwed.

So what’s this nonsense about Tom Plate claiming that Hard Truths is a brilliant book in Tuesday’s newspaper review when even he himself says that Singaporean journalists cannot ask hard questions?

The double standard is, therefore, glaring.

Journalism, as practised by those in the West and abhored by members of the potentate such as LKYSPP dean Kishore Mahbubani, unless it is used to serve their own interest, has allowed scribes such as Tom to punch above his weight class.

While on the other hand, a hoard of local journalists in Singapore can barely punch above their collective weight because, as Tom was insinuating, they can never really ask hard questions.

But it was Mahbubani’s condescension one could sense a mile away.

Here is what Mahbubani, who was the moderator of the talk, said that really took the cake when he concluded with his own answer to my query:

“I think frankly, to be completely candid about this, it will be very difficult for a local journalist to, in a sense, have this kinds of conversations because both MM Lee and Dr Mahathir Mohamad are formidable personalities. And it requires someone with a lot of chutzpah (elicits a lot of laughs from crowd) who can actually ask these sorts of questions that need to be asked. And I think that is Tom’s huge contribution.”

“The second point I want to make is not just about having conversations. It is about capturing the richest parts of the conversations and distilling them to relatively tiny little books that you can learn a lot from.”

What can I add to all this?

Go on, read Hard Truths. It is for your own good. It is a really special book on par with many religious texts. It can purportedly give you difficult answers without necessarily having had any difficult questions asked in the first place.

Amen.

Is the Lee Kuan Yew = Nelson Mandela quote sinister or stupid?

Is the Lee Kuan Yew = Nelson Mandela quote sinister or stupid?

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Maybe both, because there is something really sinister and stupid about Nelson Mandela that I bet you didn’t know about.

By Belmont Lay

So if Lee Kuan Yew = Nelson Mandela, then Lee Kuan Yew should get a Nobel Peace Prize too. Picture: Belmont Lay

ALL IT takes these days is a quote blistering with fawning adoration for Lee Kuan Yew and everyone inside the Internet is riled – again.

“Lee Kuan Yew is the equivalent of Nelson Mandela to Singaporeans”, said Cheo Ming Shen, a 27-year-old co-founder of Internet start-up Netccentric, who was later exposed as YPAP Chairman of Toa Payoh East by netizens.

Cheo’s comment appeared in The Sunday Times (Jan. 16) and was about his admiration for Minister Mentor Lee who has a new book coming out that is in need of some flogging.

And netizens are miffed because some felt Cheo should have revealed his political affiliations. Others felt that Mandela was not in the same league as Lee.

While others are blaming the reporter, Elgin Toh, for not making Cheo’s YPAP affiliation clearer.

And I think all of these is a fuss over nothing, because obviously everyone is mistaken about who Mandela really is.

Especially so, when you find out about the kind of lunacy he actually got up to in his heyday and any form of comparison that is supposed to evoke admiration turns to crap.

Because if you thought Mandela is a saint who also happened to have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, you just bought one of the best stories the media ever sold.

So, besides acknowledging that Mandela is the world’s second-longest imprisoned person in the universe after Chia Thye Poh, what else do you know about him?

He ended apartheid? Ok, fair enough. I’ll give that to him.

Ok, yes, Mandela has become a bastion of democracy and symbol of hope for oppressed people everywhere.

And then what else?

Ask yourself this and be brutally honest: Do you even remotely know why Mandela went to jail in the first place?

Hint: In the early 1960s, as a communist, Mandela pushed the African National Congress (ANC) into armed conflict.

More hints: He and his co-conspirators from ANC and the South African Communist Party were caught with a stash of 48,000 Soviet-made mines and 210,000 hand grenades.

Mandela advocated terrorism and he has a jaundiced view of the world that is coloured by nothing but pronounced racial politics.

So, no, he wasn’t incarcerated for his political views. Mandela was imprisoned for 23 acts of sabotage and for conspiring to overthrow the government through armed conflict.

And you know what was his pet name? He was known as the Black Pimpernel.

Why? Because Mandela advocated terrorism and he has a jaundiced view of the world that is coloured by nothing but pronounced racial politics.

In as late as 2002, when giving his views about his opposition to the Iraq invasion, his far-out radical views about race were nothing but loud and clear when he explained why the US and Britain defied the United Nations and went ahead with the war.

Mandela said: “When there were white (UN) secretary generals you didn’t find this question of the United States and Britain going out of the United Nations. But now that you’ve had black secretary generals like Boutros Boutros Ghali, like Kofi Annan, they do not respect the United Nations. They have contempt for it…”

What Mandela essentially said was: White leaders are a threat to peace. More so, when the UN had a black leader.

Does that sound racist or what?

And guess what? He was deeply concerned for the plight of one of the Lockerbie bombers and has expressed support for Libyan’s Gadaffi and Cuba’s Castro

Saddam Hussein was also his friend.

He even singled out Cuba for its human rights and liberty. (What? Cuba? Human rights? Liberty?)

Not to mention, he shared a stage with three Puerto Rican terrorists who had shot and wounded five US congressmen in 1954. Mandela said he supported anyone who was fighting for self-determination.

And when did he make these views? In the 1970s? No… He made them during the 1990s.

Plus, his second wife, Winnie Mandela, was a self-confessed advocate of terrorism and violence and was even accused of murder.

In 1986, she told a Soviet Union communist party newspaper that anyone who opposed her would be “necklaced”.

You know what that is? It means being burned alive with hands and feet tied with a burning rubber tire sauced in petrol thrown around the neck of anyone who opposed her.

On top of all that, Winnie was a convicted fraudster and thief with a penchant for Pirelli necklaces.

So what does all these tell me?

Here’s the point of this missive: Cheo knows nothing about Mandela. Toh is just as clueless. The rest of the people inside the Internet getting riled should just stop it because they only know half the story most of the time.

The end.

Gazetting is not that serious, is it?

Gazetting is not that serious, is it?

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The Prime Minister’s Office’s intention of gazetting TOC is to… well, er, depending on who you ask.

By Belmont Lay

The Online Citizen celebrated its fourth anniversary last year. Recently, they got a belated birthday gift from the government.

NO, IT’S not like they were made to watch as their own scrota were set on fire.

And no, no one was forced to commit incest against their will.

And no again, I do not remember anyone being coerced to do line dancing in public.

Which is why I’m particularly puzzled as to why everyone in the cyber world is up in arms about The Online Citizen (TOC) being gazetted.

Is it that serious, really?

Yes, I agree, being gazetted actually means a few things on this island. You’ve done something noteworthy enough in this country to be noticed. You’ve got clout. You’re an opinion leader. And maybe, you might even be right sometimes.

And also, the elections are coming.

Plus, in the rare event Barack Obama decides to pop by for one of TOC events, I’m sorry, but he might no longer be able to add glamour with his attendance because he’s a foreigner.

True, the Gerald Giam advertisement on the website to purchase his book might have to go.

Reluctantly, the wealthy Hungarian-Jewish financier George Soros can never give TOC a million dollars of his spare change in donation through one of his tentacled institutes to promote media freedom and political openness in Singapore.

However, have no fear. As always, I’ve worked out the perfect solution: Put up a notice on TOC saying that it is indeed the end. Thank all the fans and contributors who have made this all worked out so well.

Because at the end of the day, TOC is finished. It is time to abandon it.

Then proceed to transfer all the old articles to another website called The Citizen Online (or Citizen Online The, if you are into that kind of humour) and stick up a URL and direct everyone there towards the new content and platform.

And you can still keep the gaudy colour scheme.

The Prime Minister’s Office would be exasperated at the sleight of hand, and it will take them another four years to have their successor gazetted.

With TOC no more and TCO or COT or whatever it’s called, free to do whatever it wants just like before, everyone inside the Internet will cheer and it’s a victory for the plebians.

But let’s say for the sake of argument, TOC registers as a political association. Then what?

We have for ourselves a Catch-22 situation: If TOC is no longer business-as-usual after the limitations are imposed as a result of the gazetting, the current incessant moaning, decrying and hullabaloo by netizens that the government is trying to quash dissent is justified.

If TOC does employ some wit and cunning and not be made worse off by the gazetting, they have withstood an attempt to squash it.

And if TOC can still maintain its regular reporting and analysis as before, being gazetted wasn’t such a big deal to begin with, was it?

So what is all the moaning, decrying and hullabaloo by netizens supposed to be about again?

As always, there is a point to all these rambling and here it is: In the parlance of the PMO, TOC is “gazetted”. In the lexicon of the virtual crowd, TOC are “victimised”. In TOC speak, they have been “martyred”.

My vocabulary suggests that they were merely “inconvenienced”.

Shrug. It. Off.

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