Tag Archive | "politics"

S’pore’s politics must remain above race, religion but not extra-marital affairs

S’pore’s politics must remain above race, religion but not extra-marital affairs

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Some things are just harder than others.


Singaporeans from all walks of life, who agree to a wide range of platitudes, said they fully support the statement that Singapore’s politics must remain above race and religion.

This after it was reported that it is wrong for those who are aiming for a position of power in politics to make divisive comments about race and religion, in reference to the US presidential election.

One Singaporean, Bee Jiao Hao, said she concurs: “Singapore politics is very special and different one. We are not afflicted like other countries.”

“We must remain above race and religion, and must wear a halo and be different and untainted.”

However, other Singaporeans said being above race and religion is a good thing, but not the most ideal.

One other local, Bao Kah Leow, said: “Why stop at being above race and religion? Why not be above everything else?”

“Singapore’s politics must remain above race, religion, science, geography, mathematical certainty, biology, home economics, literature, Cubism, international relations, spirituality and entertainment.”

“However, if we asked David Ong if Singapore politics can be above extra-martial affairs, he would say ‘No’.”







S’poreans look forward to voting in leaders to rule & ruin their lives for next 5 years

S’poreans look forward to voting in leaders to rule & ruin their lives for next 5 years

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How can anyone not be excited about who to destroy your life next?


Singaporeans from all walks of life, who like to carry out their democratic duty as citizens, said they are excited at the prospect of voting in this coming General Election 2015 on Sept. 11.

This after the election is here again barely four years after GE2011, where voters got to pick and choose from a limited pool of talent and had to decide which not entirely selfless individuals they would want to vote into power so as to let them rule and ruin the lives of everyone else.

One Singaporean, Rao Le Wo, said: “I don’t see how anyone cannot be excited about picking from a bunch of strangers who congregate in political parties.”

“And it is not hard to see how those who like to shake hands and carry babies must be qualified enough to make policy and pass legislation on behalf of everyone else eventually.”

However, not all locals are so enthusiastic. There are others who are simply ecstatic they get to pick a party they aren’t even sure what’s going on with them.

Mei Ting Guo, another local, said: “I can’t wait to be part of this process where I get to choose someone who is not even entirely to my liking and who I will end up bitching about for the next five years till the next General Election comes around and get to do it all over again.”

“The merit of democracy is that I always get to pick between the party I vaguely know of and the other party I have yet to pretend I heard about to become my representative.”

“It is a great way for society to function and as we all pretend there are hardly any flaws to this whole thing.”

At press time, other Singaporeans are rejoicing they are getting Friday Sept. 11 off as it gives them one full free day to think about how badly the next five years will go and how much their lives will be made worse before voting again.






S’poreans react to 32-year-old Uber driver Shirwin Eu who plans to contest in Bukit Panjang SMC

S’poreans react to 32-year-old Uber driver Shirwin Eu who plans to contest in Bukit Panjang SMC

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Three thoughts that must have went past your mind at some point.



HAPPENING NOW: 32-year-old Uber driver Shirwin Eu, who plans to contest in Bukit Panjang SMC, says his strength is in policies.Follow our Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/STcom) and live blog here: str.sg/Z7hm

Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, August 25, 2015


A 32-year-old Uber driver Shirwin Eu, has picked up a nomination form at the Elections Department in a bid to contest in this coming General Election 2015.

He said he plans to run in Bukit Panjang SMC as an independent candidate and said his strength is in policies.

Here are three thoughts Singaporeans have:


sian-half-auntie “This really proves that Uber needs to make their screening process for drivers a lot stricter.”
Bu An Quan, 43-year-old workplace safety manager


sian-half-uncle “I believe his actions is due to him having a misplaced trust in the concept of meritocracy and social mobility.”
Bulao Er Huo, 67-year-old ex-delivery driver


happy-bird-girl “If a guy like this asked me to be his girlfriend, it will be a natural instinct to call the police immediately.”
Wa Mai La, 17-year-old student










Feminists alert AWARE that politics & religion in S’pore dominated by men

Feminists alert AWARE that politics & religion in S’pore dominated by men

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Where are the women, they demand to know.

Photo stolen from Teo Chee Hean

Photo stolen from Teo Chee Hean

Feminists from all walks of life, who oppose the hidden normalised structures of patriarchy, have written formally to women’s organisation AWARE Singapore.

This after the feminists spotted a photo online showing as clear as day that politics and religion in Singapore are dominated by men.

The photo, showing 14 men of various shapes and sizes standing side-by-side without any effort to introduce a token female species into the mix, was taken at the Inter-Religious Organisation event held at the Istana.

One feminist, Nu Qiang Ren, said: “Feminists have always been accused of over-thinking things and analysing power structures that supposedly do not even exist, but now what we have here before us is incontrovertible proof that society is owned and managed by a patriarchal system that has firmly embedded itself in two major pillars in society: Politics and religion.”

“The lack of women in these domains might not sound appalling to you because we’ve all been normalised to think that this is the status quo and this is the norm and anything other than this cannot exist.”

“But imagine for a second if we substituted all the men in the picture with women and said it was fair. Wouldn’t you be equally alarmed?”

At press time, speculation is rife that next year’s event will have token female representation, especially from minority groups, to avoid any accusations of bias and to continue to fabricate the illusion that patriarchy is dead.


Surviving Bukit Batok rats believe attack on their community was politically motivated

Surviving Bukit Batok rats believe attack on their community was politically motivated

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They will be holding a memorial service for comrades killed during Thursday’s massacre.


Bukit Batok slope rats who survived violent clashes with humans that erupted on Thursday are holding a memorial service for fallen comrades who were killed during the surprise attack.

The attack had left the rat population decimated, with fatalities of up to 85 percent of the total number of inhabitants which originally numbered about 60 or so.

The massacre was particularly brutal as it was unexpected and the sudden assault caught the rats off-guard.

One of the rats who survived the onslaught, said he believes the killing was unnecessary as both rat and human factions have been living in harmony for a long time without much friction.

Lao Shu, one of the surviving rats who suffered minor injuries and who lived to tell his story, said: “This attack on us is politically motivated. It is an attempt to galvanise support among the people belonging to the perpetrators of this violence. We the rats are nothing but a pawn in this system.”

“This attack on us is nothing short of an act of pure terrorism sanctioned by the state against minorities. We are nothing more than a minor collateral damage in the upcoming electoral battle.”

The spokesrat also highlighted that the assault on their community was a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, as there had been no formal declaration of war.

As such, they will be filing a complaint with the United Nations.

The surviving rats are, in turn, not going to let this episode slide, as they indicated that their planned memorial service for their fallen comrades will be to force start a period of peace and reconciliation.

Speaking to reporters at a hastily assembled press conference, the spokesrat said: “This memorial is a first step towards healing. Our next step, is to push for a tribunal to be convened and to demand for the perpetrators of this act of violence to be brought to justice.”

“This will aid in the reconciliation efforts. We are also hoping for information and intelligence gathered that prompted this senseless killing to be declassified and for the truth to be laid bare.”

“Or else it will be a stain on Singapore’s conscience.”


In other animal news:

Conservative S’poreans demand S’pore Zoo investigate if they possess gay animals










New Korean citizen PM Lee Hsien Loong to move 6-member GRC from AMK to Seoul in classic gerrymandering move

New Korean citizen PM Lee Hsien Loong to move 6-member GRC from AMK to Seoul in classic gerrymandering move

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This will make it harder for the opposition to form a GRC team to contest there in the next election.



In what is perhaps the next best classic political move of his career, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be redrawing the electoral boundaries by moving his six-member GRC from Ang Mo Kio to Seoul, Korea.

This after it was announced on Dec. 11, 2014 that PM Lee has been made an honorary citizen of Seoul by its Mayor Park Won Soon.

Professional political observers who heard this news said they were not surprised as gerrymandering has long been common in Singapore politics for decades.

They also said it was a matter of time before the electoral boundaries get cut up and merged across transnational boundaries, which is to the detriment of opposition political parties.

One such observer, Lim Koh Pee, a retired local who goes to the coffee shop everyday with his pet bird in a cage, said: “This will definitely make it more difficult for the opposition political parties to gather their resources and mobilise their volunteers and candidates, as they don’t even have a base in Seoul, Korea.”

Once the relocation of the GRC is completed, the current constituents of Ang Mo Kio will not be able to vote in the next general election as they will no longer be represented by any political party.

This will continue to strengthen the PAP’s grip.

Self-styled political pundit, Eric de Yaya, said: “This is a strategic move that will pay dividends in the long run.”

“It will be harder for Workers’ Party to form the next government because they cannot do so by toppling one GRC after another domestically, as the rest of the GRCs and SMCs will be relocated all over the world in a few years’ time.”


Other news on how international news affects Singapore politics:

Scotland referendum to become independent country provides learning points for Hougang SMC

Pastor Lawrence Khong mistaking church for political party

Pastor Lawrence Khong mistaking church for political party

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Singaporeans say only people in a political party need to take responsibility for porking another man or woman who is not a spouse.

Lawrence Khong is a local pastor. Is.

Lawrence Khong is a local pastor. Is.

Singaporeans from all walks of life and with varying levels of secularism are baffled by the actions of Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church.

This after the pastor wanted a female church employee who got porked and impregnated by a man who is not her husband to take responsibility for her actions by quitting. This was in September last year.

When she didn’t, he fired her.

However, this has caused Singaporeans to be confused as they believe Pastor Lawrence Khong is mistaking church for political party.

Fu Zhe Ren, a Singaporean who alluded to ex-PAP MP Michael Palmer who quit after he was caught porking another woman who is not his wife in December 2012, said: “Only in a political party if you pork another woman who is not your wife, then you need to resign and take responsibility.”

“Other than that, it’s ok. Because as politicians, you need to wear all white. As pastors, can wear leather and chains also never mind.”





Event Review: Do Asians believe in the rise of Asia? – Kishore Mahbubani

Event Review: Do Asians believe in the rise of Asia? – Kishore Mahbubani

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At the most recent [email protected]! event, Kishore gives a great flashback to the good ol’ 90s when the West was still Goliath, Asian diplomats were David and political rebellion was sexy.

By Fang Shihan

A younger Kishore at the 2008 World Economic Forum. Photo: WEF / Creative Commons

THE auditorium slowly turned sepia as Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, reminisced about his past as a rebel. Both in school while he was a writer for the school paper, and then as a diplomat – slash – spokesperson for tiny downtrodden nations bullied by the West.

But take away the tint and all that’s left is a rather wizened old man stuck in a time warp.

This, is perhaps, unfair criticism for a man whose opinions are sought the world over, from Bloomberg, to the World Economic Forum-East Asia 2011, to BBC, CNN and the list goes on. But as they say, same shit different day – once you’ve heard Mahbubani once, the rest is pretty much predictable.

Do Asians believe in the rise of Asia? The man says no. Asians still suffer from a post-colonial hangup that they did since his first book was published in 1998.

Great thesis, but a tough sell in this current geopolitical situation. Like a trusty old Sony discman, the thesis is enduring – some Asians still have trouble grasping the dominance of Asia. But more Asians now not only own iPods instead of discmans, they’re worried about the unsteady, uncertain rise of various Asian superpowers. Times have changed, hot button topics have changed as well.

Consider for instance, that HSBC will slash 30,000 jobs in Europe and the U.S. to cut costs while expansion plans are still set in Asia and Latin America. On the fiscal end, the U.S. is set to reduce its spending by US$2.5 trillion while Moody’s has just reduced Portugal’s credit rating to junk status, together with Greece. On the other hand, new coverage of China’s manufacturing slowdown shows a rather positive global attitude towards the newly risen power; China, according to analysts, isn’t contracting, it’s merely stablising from breakneck growth.

If Asians do not believe in the rise of Asia, it may be because these particular Asians don’t read the news.

But to give him the benefit of the doubt, Mahbubani could be referring to a cultural inertia of Asians, long bullied by colonial powers and indoctrinated with an inferiority complex. You see it happening every now and then at country clubs, when white men wearing khakis are allowed to enter but not locals wearing roughly the same garb.

“And I actually believe, if we can encourage greater acts of rebellion, especially among the younger NUS students, that will actually be a good thing.” — Kishore Mahbubani

Yet for every one deferent ‘Asian’, there will be an Indian, extremely proud of his rich history or a Chinese expressing his nationalistic fervour over weibo.com. And these voices have gained increasing prominence as their respective economic giants grow. Mahbubani’s Asians, while they exist, are not representative of Asia as a whole.

Equally significant was perhaps a glimpse into Mahbubani’s past as a rebellious student. As an editor for the school newspaper, The Undergrad in 1969, he had published a scathing article of then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s behaviour during a forum:

“Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s answers at the forum often consisted only of personal slurs and pinpointing of trivial mistakes and other points degenerated to crude Machiavellian answers. He was asked in point, whether he would push through the abortion bill despite opposition on humanitarian grounds. his answer was crude and short – as long as he was in power, he would do so. If anybody objected to it, he or she could fight him in the polls: ‘Singapore is a democratic country'”

Mahbubani then went on to castigate the state of democracy, the media and the lack of transparency in Singapore, in a narrative not unfamiliar to local socio-political bloggers today.

He was later co-opted into the very establishment he criticised and had a distinguished career as a diplomat.

Times have changed. Dissent is no longer condoned and dissenters have ceased to emerge from mainstream educational institutions.

Lifting the sepia again, all that’s left is a wizened old man from the establishment reminiscing on the times when rebellion was in fact, a good thing, and not dismissed as gibberish spouted by a “lunatic fringe”.

Listening to Mahbubani speak on a Wednesday evening seemed less of an insight into the mind of an established diplomat, than a sit-down session with Uncle Kishore rehashing his glory stories. Entertaining, not completely relevant and a glimpse into what seemed like a country’s past when people actually had political balls.

And like all men with good stories to tell, he does leave a very memorable anecdote:

“It is so much fun when you’re fighting against a much more powerful force. And even though I was beaten up, I was attacked, I was criticised, I found that that was what really kept me going. And I actually believe, if we can encourage greater acts of rebellion, especially among the younger NUS students, that will actually be a good thing.”

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.

Be thankful for 50 years of white

Be thankful for 50 years of white

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PAP rule has taken us where none of our neighbouring countries have ventured. And I’m grateful.

By Ng Zhong Ming

Majulah PAP! Majulah Singapura! Photo: TERENCE LEE

PRAISING the PAP seems unfashionable these days, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Look at how far a small island nation with no resources has come. And not just survived, but done terribly well economically.

Go ahead, scan today’s newpapers and headlines. Politicians talk about realism and pragmatism, their speeches peppered with practicality and gritty competitiveness.

This is because the global economy is in uncharted waters. Even European nations, with their generous welfare systems and enforced immigration policies, are in trouble.

Soul-searching is not reserved only for the PAP: The purported forefathers of democracy are struggling and have a lot to think about.

America is facing up with a resurgent China – a complacent giant that has awoken from its long slumber and realised that the ascendency of the West and Western ideas has been but a blip in the world’s long history.

Even India – the world’s largest democracy, is lagging further and further behind.

And why?

Because ideals, yes, even those that developed democracies depend on, ultimately don’t feed people. Doing what is necessary, to ensure survivability, doing what puts food on the table – feeds people.

Put it this way: In Singapore, ideals are for restless youths who will move into nice, air conditioned offices soon enough after getting a decent education. Beggars living day by day just don’t give a damn.

But idealism can only be sustained if and only if there are other people out there doing the grunt work of being industrious and holding the economic front.

And don’t forget, a decent education to begin with, is the result of the foundation laid for by the PAP, through more than 50 years of proven track record.

Yes, the PAP is not perfect. It even acknowledges that.

However, which government doesn’t make mistakes? And which other government in the world can make a small island state, expelled from a federation, punch way above its weight in regional and international affairs? And this is no hypothetical question.

Should we be voting for the opposition, for so-called democracy and for less tangible gains, while all over the world, democracies are also in trouble, and real competition is heating up?

Therefore, I don’t buy the argument that the presence of opposition enables constructive competition.

Sure, we don’t want to emulate those types of democracy where it is all a mess. But can it not be possible that the presence of PAP is the compromise between a democratic and authoritarian state?

Think about this: Is this the time to push for democratic change without any of the negative trade-offs? Can we afford this, when nations, particularly in our region, are becoming more practical, more competitive, when our immediate neighbours, with their natural resources and vast markets at command, are fast catching up?

It is economic growth that holds Singapore together, that ensures we have a say in ASEAN and beyond. In the dog-eat-dog world of international politics, poor beggars will be ripped to shreds.

Are we abandoning what is done, for what ought to be done? To this, Machiavelli had this to say: “He who abandons what is done for what should be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation”.

We should be mindful that Singapore’s economy is based on international trade and the free flow of capital. And international capital is easily spooked. Investor darling one day, pariah the next.

And increasingly, alternative options are multiplying in the investment horizon in emerging, growth markets.

We are sailing into uncharted seas, and to this, you need a single-minded determination – the captain that you can trust, the captain with the best proven track record.

We are all familiar by now about this driver/pilot analogy, but to be fair, let us hope that the co-navigator will attempt to provide constructive feedback and advice, instead of attempting to undermine the captain’s decisions at every chance, or God forbid, try to wrest the ship’s wheel.

Let us hope the opposition will be able to step up to the task, what more in a small, swift ship in a sea plied with much bigger vessels than ours, braving the storm, and some of these heeling.

Should not a small ship in turbulent seas be more pragmatic? Let us not forget that it is economic growth that holds Singapore together, that ensures we have a say in ASEAN and beyond. In the dog-eat-dog world of international politics, poor beggars will be ripped to shreds.

Detractors say that there is a need for “heartware”, beyond sheer hardware. This is another fair point.

But then again, take a look at today’s papers – not the Straits Times, for the skeptics – and you will notice countries with “soft power” reserves, which are enjoying life, are getting a massive reality check.

The Europeans are waking up to the fact that their lifestyle is not sustainable.

Even the Americans are facing up to the end of hegemony and a new, multi-polar, competitive world order.

Countries with “hard power” reserves and huge resources and markets are the ones delivering the goods. The era of small economies rapidly developing based on trade is over. From the old development “formula“ of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, now comes the aptly named BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and add to that, Indonesia.

The million dollar question remains – will the opposition ensure better governance, and better management? Let us hope so. To be fair, the debate about Singapore needing soulfulness is a perfectly good one, but above that, one is faced with the reality that continued economic performance and growth in a competitive world is what is needed to sustain this small island republic, and its already high living standards.

These are the issues that make an immediate impact on everyone’s daily lives.

Put simply, results feed people. This election, if nothing else, is a healthy injection of realpolitik.

Put simply, realistic politics.

Not the airy-fairy stuff that makes someone teary-eyed but nothing more.

Deliver the results; deliver us across these uncharted seas. For there be economic and political dragons, not ideological fancies. Let us hope the opposition does serve this function, if nothing else.

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Book Review: Miss Seetoh in the World

Book Review: Miss Seetoh in the World

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Margaret Chen, Founder and Editor of www.iCUBED.us wins a signed copy of Catherine Lim’s book.

Singaporean best-selling author Catherine Lim has come full-circle since her days of criticizing the ruling PAP in the government controlled newspaper Straits Times back in 2004, with the release of her new book MISS SEETOH IN THE WORLD.  Like her previous books, Ms Lim’s feminist liberalism comes through loud and clear in her namesake protagonist, modeled after Ms Lim herself.  Miss Seetoh is an accomplished English teacher with secret aspirations to be an unmarried authoress. 

As a political satire MISS SEETOH IN THE WORLD is noticeably Asian by being notably non-confrontational.  News reports of the situations alluded to in the story were much edgier than they have been presented in Ms Lim’s book, and the conclusions drawn at the end of this book amount to an endorsement of the government, for its performance on the whole.

Elements of Singapore’s history are thinly disguised, as we follow the story through the decade or so of Miss Seetoh’s adult working life and glimpse, in the circumstances of her disastrous marriage to an outwardly eligible, church-going, rule-following, fault-free yet humorless, smug, and vindictive husband, the vast and immovable gulf between persons who subscribe to vastly different world views.  The world-famous attempts of the Singaporean government at social engineering – eugenics and government sanctioned “traditional -conservative” attempts at matchmaking – have proven to be less successful than the government’s notable success at creating a unique, self-governing Asian nation from very humble beginnings. 

MISS SEETOH is an accurate social commentary about the gender differential that has happened around the modern world where women have been effectively emancipated from traditional roles without the attendant emancipation of men from their strict gender roles as “lord of the mansion”. Nor has there been a realistic review and appraisal of men and womens’ expectations from the institution of marriage, since women’s lib liberated women but left men living still with Victorian era mindsets.  In practice, women have “come a long way baby” but without consciously and formally acknowledging the changes that have taken place, and without remembering to adjust the views and roles of men to complement the redefined roles of working, thinking women.

Miss Seetoh’s female friends are stereotypes and caricatures, not convincingly drawn but somehow necessary to illustrate a point that recurs throughout the book — that of the unreliability of human nature, our limited understanding of things outside our experience, and our fallible reliance on superstitions, our lack of convictions and penchant for group-think (going along with the crowd) whether from laziness or lack of ability to be logical and analytical, but yet harboring a disturbing lack of self awareness.  There is no shortage of egotism in a few of Miss Seetoh’s suitors and friends, who lie to others and to themselves in an attempt to hide their inadequacies, including in the fictional person of the political challenger, Mr V.K. Pandy.

How does a government motivate, govern and lead a nation with no natural resources, surrounded on all sides by countries larger, more populous, better armed and with longer histories?  Is there time to waste listening to the dissenting voices of those with political ambitions intent on overthrowing a legitimate government working hard to build a nation worthy of respect? 

In the story of the political challenger, is the books’ satisfying denouement where the political underdog, returns literally from the dead, and then shows himself to be vengeful and underhanded and by his actions, loses the respect of one of his most ardent supporters – Miss Seetoh.  His story completes Miss Seetoh’s growth from a naive, idealist with liberal Western values living displaced in a conservative Asian context, to a mature woman with a clear sense of herself and her personal convictions. It is a happy ending for all, and Miss Seetoh is rewarded with her dream of self sufficiency and independence, due mostly to her hard-earned clarity of purpose, like the clarity of purpose of the determined and unwavering government policies she once questioned, but that in the end proved to be effective at providing economic prosperity for its citizens, herself included.

Editor’s note: New Nation Man gives a big thank you for all who wrote in and apologises that he won’t be able to publish all of them.

A virgin’s dream: When Lee Kuan Yew admits to loving Singapore, even the opposition

A virgin’s dream: When Lee Kuan Yew admits to loving Singapore, even the opposition

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Marvin Ng fantasises about an unlikely happy ending this elections.

THE Worker’s Party wins a GRC and a number of SMCs.  The next day, the Minister Mentor goes on TV and gives a national address.  He begins by congratulating the opposition and then Singaporeans.  Then he tells us that he is very happy to see that we, Singapore as a country, has matured.

He explains that the significant victory of the opposition, despite the sticks and carrots from the PAP, shows that we, Singaporeans, have a backbone.  And that it shows that we care more than ourselves, but also those around us.  At this point, he pauses and pulls out a disc.

He explains that he made the video on the disc a few years ago.  He continues… he knows that he is not getting any younger and is saddened to see his compatriots passing on, one by one.  These men, whom he has fought together, were exemplary Singaporeans who had spent their entire lives to uplift the lives of all Singaporeans.

Like them, he is worried about Singapore and whether we will be able to take care of ourselves when he is no longer with us.  He then explains that he has made the video so that it can be shown at the time of his passing… his final message to Singaporeans, one which he has hoped would spur us on.  He then plays the video…

We then see a slightly younger MM, perhaps in the early 2000s.  MM in the video explains that if we are seeing this, it probably means that he is no longer with us.  He explains that the video is his parting words to all Singaporeans, the people that he loved.  He apologises for being a bit too harsh on us and that his intention is good i.e. to make us stronger (more or less like Tiger Mom).  More importantly, towards the end of the video, he describes the ideal Singapore that he would have loved to see before he died.  A Singapore where people are cohesive, able to think critically and courageous enough to fight for the country.

He explains that fighting for the country includes taking the government to task if they think or feel that it is no longer doing a good job.  He adds that he has always been worried that the PAP will become too successful, so much so that it is able to brush the people’s will even when they screw up.  He was afraid that Singaporeans may never reach the level of maturity and have the gumption to do something about it when that happens.

Next, he also explains why he is so tough on the opposition.  He has set the bars high and created many obstacles for the opposition to overcome.  He believes that only when the opposition is able to overcome these obstacles and still be able to reach out and touch the people, will they be worthy to represent the people.  He wants opposition candidates that are of the same or better calibre than the PAP.  The video concludes with him lamenting how he wished he could be there in a point in the future when Singapore has reached this ideal state.

He ends with an optimistic note that Singapore will get there some day and he wishes us all well and thank us all for our support.  It ends with “I love Singapore and I love you all.”

Cut back to MM.  Wiping tears from his eyes, he explains that he can now go with peace in mind. He compliments various opposition leaders (the worthy ones, for example, Chiam See Tong, J.B Jeyaretnam, Low Thia Khiang), current and past, for their courage, commitment and passion to serve.  He again apologises to them for being tough on them and hopes that they can see through his “tough love” and be able to forgive him.

He encourages the current and future opposition leaders to strive harder and make sure to kick the PAP butt again should it falter, like this current election.  He acknowledges that the current team has failed in some aspects but hopes that together with these new opposition leaders, new ideas for ways forward can be devised.  He explains that no one in the current administration, including the Prime Minister, knows of his true feelings about this and the video.  He promises to have a good discussion with the PAP team (PM and his team going to get an earful).

Lee Kuan Yew now talks to the people.  He wants us to work hard for ourselves, our children, our family and for Singapore.  He wants us to put aside petty differences and always consider the good of the country and our fellow Singaporeans.  He hopes that one day, we will be a gracious society and one that has a strong sense of nationhood which transcends language, race and religion.  He wants us to give our full support to the government and yet be mindful and be ready to play our part should it falter.

He ends… “me and my colleagues can only do so much… the future is up to you and children and your children’s children.  Make us proud…”

Nicole Seah: Ground is sweet, looking forward to competition

Nicole Seah: Ground is sweet, looking forward to competition

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Enthusiastic crowd and international media greets National Solidarity Party Marine Parade GRC team at Aljunied and Serangoon walkabouts.

A New Nation exclusive.

Little Nonya shakes some hands at a hawker centre

The hottest thing in Singapore right now, besides the darn weather and Chen Show Mao (who is God-like), is Nicole Seah.

Nicole, an advertising executive, is going toe-to-toe with Goh Chok Tong (not Tin Pei Ling, mind you) as one of five candidates for the National Solidarity Party in Marine Parade GRC.

Who would have thought, right?

What began as an unassuming informal introduction on Tuesday to announce her candidacy, Nicole’s Public Figure profile page on Facebook has since turned into a socialsphere fiesta with 15,000-plus fans and counting. (In contrast, New Nation, has about 333 fans in five months. Nicole took like what? Fourteen minutes after her FB page went “live” to surpass that number?)

She is still trending on Google, trending on Twitter and she even has her own Wikipedia entry.

Best of all, she might just make one of our editors eat his own words for stating rather prematurely that “social media would have limited influence on this General Election“.

Here’s the Little Nyonya, as netizens have dubbed her, in her own words, after today’s Sunday morning walkabout at Aljunied market and Serangoon central where about 50 party members and volunteers turned up to show their, erm, solidarity.

By the way, Nicole (who is goddess-like), is only 24 years old. And she speaks better than Chan Chun Sing, an ex-SAF regular and PAP candidate to be potentially fielded in Tanjong Pagar GRC.


Question: There was a huge turnout at today’s walkabout at Aljunied market. What do you think about it?

Nicole: We expected a crowd as this walkabout had been publicised over Facebook. The response was really warm and encouraging. For the past 19 years, Marine Parade GRC residents did not get a chance to exercise their vote so we as the opposition don’t know how it would turn out and neither does the incumbent know what to expect. But I think the ground is sweet this time at Marine Parade.

How is the ground sweet?

I’m quite sure some of those who turned up found out about the walkabout online. They were really friendly and supportive and we chatted a bit. But there was a large number of those at the market who had no idea we were turning up. And they were happy to see us there.

And CNN turned up too, no?

Yes, there was a video interview but this is not something to be unexpected. Things are changing, the local media senses it, the people on the ground can sense it and the international media too. And if you saw what the people on the ground had to say, I mean, I’ll describe a lot of them to be “relieved”. Relieved that there is going to be some form of competition this time round.

So what is one issue you noticed in Marine Parade GRC that is of concern to you?

Even as you look at how developed the place is, there are clusters of lower income households and young people who are struggling. The policies that have been implemented in recent years have also affected the middle class to a large extent, with many factors such as rising property prices, rising goods and services taxes, and the depression of local wages due to competition from a liberal immigrant policy. You can see it for yourselves on the ground. If this country wants to focus on economic growth and success, I’m sure many people would not disagree. But what is the point of all these development when you can’t raise the base?

You will also notice that many of the issues specific to the constituents of Marine Parade GRC has expanded to a nationwide scale. What has happened is that the use of GDP growth as a KPI (Key Performance Index) has given many in the public sector, especially officeholders, fat bonuses, while the man in the street continues to feel the pinch from ever-rising costs and stagnant wages. The NSP is pushing for a national focus on wage growth and abolishing taxes on basic necessities such as food staples, so that no Singaporean is deprived of their basic necessities because of the lack of money.

What about your Serangoon walkabout? How did that go?

The funny thing was people in Serangoon didn’t even know which GRC or SMC they belong too. Some were confused that they fall under Marine Parade (GRC). And there was this lady who is well-travelled and calls herself a heartlander, she approached the NSP candidates, shook our hands and even went in front of the media cameras and spoke her heart about what ails her. She said she doesn’t understand what this country has come to. And she was just passing by on her way home.

What is one message you have for the young volunteers here today?

Always remember what you are doing this for. This is not for ourselves, but for our country, for the people who cannot speak up for themselves. We may not see the fruits of our labour in the immediate future, but let that not deter us from putting forward our best shot to make this a Singapore that we can truly call home.

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Do youths care about politics? Should they?

Do youths care about politics? Should they?

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Judging by the 70-odd youthful folks who showed up at a policy forum, youths do care. But maybe they’re just shy.

By Visakan Veerasamy

Fun fact: Indranee picked up Salsa in 2000, but gave it up because of work commitments. Photo: CYBERPIONEER

THE cosy policy forum, attended by 70-odd non-old people was set at Sinema, a decidedly ‘youthful’ venue atop Mount Sophia. The session, titled “Do youths care” featured Member-of-Parliament Indranee Rajah, NTU don Dr Cherian George and Vice-President of NUS’s Political Association, Jason Su.

All young or young at heart. So far so good.

The opening statements essentially schmoozed about how the youth of Singapore are active, involved and interested in politics – interested enough at least, to send some questions via SMS.

One can only presume that if thumb power was required, even in a venue that was supposed to encourage intimate conversation, it only shows that we haven’t transcended the elemental fear many Singaporeans have, of being persecuted for their views.

I popped the first question- while it’s great to see people involved, how can we take the response of a specific group of University students and extend that to represent all of Singaporean youth? What about Poly and ITE students?

The response was bland neutral: Cherian acknowledged that it’s easy for University students to forget that they are actually a minority and not representative of all of Singapore. Indranee and Jason focused on talking about how the people organising the forum were doing a good job. No, actually their response merely stated the obvious. I was disappointed with the response to say the least.

Abdillah Zamzuri, a fellow blogger, observed before that Malay youths were underrepresented at the forum, which is consistent with my intuitive assessment that most Malay youth could be described as politically apathetic. In response, Indranee described why apathy was more prevalent in good times. However, the public does respond (un-apathetically) on occasion. During the NKF saga for instance, Singaporeans were riled up because almost everybody would have donated some money before, and thus, they feel that they have a stake in it. Furthermore, nobody likes the idea of being cheated.

My response to that would be: How do we get more Singaporeans to feel like they have a stake in public affairs at large? How do we get them to be less complacent and ignorant, to feel a sense of ownership (essentially, to be less apathetic) with regards to all of Singapore, not just the NKF, and to be wary in case they get accidentally “cheated” out of a desirable outcome for themselves and each other?

But I wasn’t allowed to grab the mike stand again. And so I was to accept her response and move on.

Apathetic is probably too strong a term for an audience that’s probably just shy. Part of the ‘apathy’ stems from the PAP’s proven dis-ability to engage the youth, even in a cosy forum in a happening venue on top of Sophia hill.

When I did get to the mike again however, I asked in response to her claim that she signed up to be an MP not knowing about the whopping allowance of $14,000 a month:

“Why not have more transparency? Why not share with Singaporeans where every one of their tax money is going? Surely that would boost the image of MPs as trustworthy and honest, and it would improve their standing with the Singaporean public?”

I found her response to that lacking, something along the lines of how it’s entirely up to each individual MP how they’d like to spend their allowance. This, is why youth are apathetic. Because we never get proper’s answers to our questions and soon, most realize that participation was merely a futile process and a waste of time.

Considering that she’s a member of Senior Counsel, a Director at Drew & Napier, and president of Sinda amongst other things, I’d expected Indranee to be far more sophisticated. Drew & Napier describes her as being able to “unravel the complexities of intractable legal problems, distill the essence of the disputes and find a resolution”.

I found none of that in her. Not especially when she side-stepped a complaint about new PAP candidate and new Singapore citizen Janil Puthucheary, by asking why we didn’t’ complain about Worker’s Party’s Chen Show Mao as well. On hindsight, it sounded more like a group of children fighting in a playground – “Why you scold me, why you never scold him also?” rather than an MP answer a question.

That said, I must confess that I developed a liking for Indranee, despite finding it hard to see eye to eye with her. She comes across as a sincere, genuine and empathetic person- outside of her arguments, at least. After the forum was over, she approached me, asked me how I was doing and what I was up to, and patiently listened to me blurt out all my iconoclastic fantasies.

Quite a feat considering the disparity in our statuses – I, a young hotheaded ‘youth’ and she, a seasoned MP. I appreciated the time she took to understand the issues that I was facing.

The takeaway message? Apathetic is probably too strong a term for an audience that’s probably just shy. Part of the ‘apathy’ stems from the PAP’s proven dis-ability to engage the youth, even in a cosy forum in a happening venue on top of Sophia hill. Yet things are changing. Thumbing an SMS to communicate with your MP is a start, but as I’ve found out, speaking face to face to engage politicians is the best way to understand them, and to have them understand you.

Visit Visakan’s blog here.

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