Tag Archive | "Mas Selamat"

S’poreans find closure as Wong Kan Seng steps down 7 years after Mas Selamat escape

S’poreans find closure as Wong Kan Seng steps down 7 years after Mas Selamat escape

Tags: , ,


This has brought an end to an unsavoury chapter in many Singaporeans’ lives.

wong-kan-seng

Singaporeans from all walks of life closed their eyes briefly, held hands on the streets with strangers and uttered the words “It’s finally over” repeatedly under their breath this afternoon, as many others wept uncontrollably as they visibly tried to hold back their emotions.

This after they heard today that ex-deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng announced he is stepping down from political office and will effectively retire, putting an end to what has been an unsavoury chapter in Singapore’s history.

His announcement comes seven years after alleged terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in Onraet Road on Feb. 27, 2008.

At that time, Wong was the then Minister for Home Affairs and did not step down despite the public opprobrium and demands that he did, because his skin is quite thick.

Like a gangrenous pus-filled scar that refused to heal but continue to fester with maggots, that incident was left unsettled, even though Mas Selamat was recaptured in Johor Bahru over a year later.

For many Singaporeans, the memory of that painful incident has been etched into their consciousness and would not go away, like a purple dinosaur doing the boogie-woogie while laughing hysterically and eating cream filled pies.

One Singaporean, Tui Xiu, said she is finally able to move on with her life now that Wong is out of politics for good: “Since that day Feb. 27, 2008, my heart has been heavy and I have carried this burden with me for so long.”

“How could Singapore even let a person who could be a dangerous terrorist escape? And worse, no one actually took responsibility for it?”

“I hope Wong Kan Seng can have a short chat with Minister Khaw Boon Wan, to talk about the benefits of practising hara-kiri.”

Other Singaporeans said finding closure has always been their sole purpose and with this announcement that Wong is done for, it will greatly help bring reconciliation while hastening the period of healing to begin in earnest.

Another Singaporean, Zhen Zha, said: “The period of healing and getting back on our feet has begun.”

“The last seven years were dark ones for this country as Wong Kan Seng’s persistent presence has been a reminder of our national security failure.”

“Even throughout the SG50 Aug. 9 national day celebration, there was an ominous pall that could not be lifted.”

“However, now it’s gone.”

At press time, Singaporeans are proposing having another SG50 National Day celebration to mark the true start of Singapore’s new beginning and progress.

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans find closure as ex-DPM Wong Kan Seng steps down 7 years after Mas Selamat escape

S’poreans find closure as ex-DPM Wong Kan Seng steps down 7 years after Mas Selamat escape

Tags: , ,


This has brought an end to an unsavoury chapter in many Singaporeans’ lives.

wong-kan-seng

Singaporeans from all walks of life closed their eyes briefly, held hands on the streets with strangers and uttered the words “It’s finally over” repeatedly under their breath this afternoon, as many others wept uncontrollably as they visibly tried to hold back their emotions.

This after they heard today that ex-deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng announced he is stepping down from political office and will effectively retire, putting an end to what has been an unsavoury chapter in Singapore’s history.

His announcement comes seven years after alleged terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in Onraet Road on Feb. 27, 2008.

At that time, Wong was the then Minister for Home Affairs and did not step down despite the public opprobrium and demands that he did, because his skin is quite thick.

Like a gangrenous pus-filled scar that refused to heal but continue to fester with maggots, that incident was left unsettled, even though Mas Selamat was recaptured in Johor Bahru over a year later.

For many Singaporeans, the memory of that painful incident has been etched into their consciousness and would not go away, like a purple dinosaur doing the boogie-woogie while laughing hysterically and eating cream filled pies.

One Singaporean, Tui Xiu, said she is finally able to move on with her life now that Wong is out of politics for good: “Since that day Feb. 27, 2008, my heart has been heavy and I have carried this burden with me for so long.”

“How could Singapore even let a person who could be a dangerous terrorist escape? And worse, no one actually took responsibility for it?”

“I hope Wong Kan Seng can have a short chat with Minister Khaw Boon Wan, to talk about the benefits of practising hara-kiri.”

Other Singaporeans said finding closure has always been their sole purpose and with this announcement that Wong is done for, it will greatly help bring reconciliation while hastening the period of healing to begin in earnest.

Another Singaporean, Zhen Zha, said: “The period of healing and getting back on our feet has begun.”

“The last seven years were dark ones for this country as Wong Kan Seng’s persistent presence has been a reminder of our national security failure.”

“Even throughout the SG50 Aug. 9 national day celebration, there was an ominous pall that could not be lifted.”

“However, now it’s gone.”

At press time, Singaporeans are proposing having another SG50 National Day celebration to mark the true start of Singapore’s new beginning and progress.

 

 

 

 

 











A personal history of 9/11

A personal history of 9/11

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


It’s been 10 years since the world was introduced to the term ‘9/11′ but the legacy of the fallen twin towers still lives on. By Fang Shihan

Courtesy: ibtimes.com

You don’t really give a shit about things when you’re 15.

I know I was having a nap during English class when I first heard about the World Trade Centre attack in New York.

In fact I was probably a little confused because when Ms. C our teacher asked us if we knew what the place was, I immediately thought about cable cars and the yearly family trip to Sentosa.

I really didn’t care – not even when a classmate watched an online video of a plane crashing into one of the twin towers, and not even when another classmate related a probably made-up story of her friend making a phone call to her saying that the plane just flew past her office window.

The O Levels then came and went in 2002 with almost no mention about Osama bin Laden or Islamicism. I probably knew the text of Julius Caesar better than the causes of the 9/11 attack or the implications it had on the global economy.

It was only in 2003 that I starting taking note of the legacy it made in the world. And it all started with a television broadcast of the war in Afghanistan.

After a long hike through Tioman island, a bunch of us JC kids (including pre-NS weapons enthusiasts) decided to sit down for dinner at a restaurant which happened to have a TV set tuned in to the evening news.

I didn’t understand a word of Bahasa, but I did understand the footage. In a dusty city somewhere in the Middle East, U.S. troops were driving though town squares in heavily armored vehicles, flashing their machine guns while civilians were being killed every minute. No war is without collateral. At that time my only point of reference was World War II and we all know WWII, in a nutshell, sucked.

Fast forward to university. After going through various texts and theories of war, international relations and exhaustive arguments with culture relativists, I decided to pick up religious studies as a minor because

1) I didn’t understand why people would pick on a religion that when translated, literally meant ‘peace’
2) why terrorists would terrorise for the promise of 72 virgins
3) why some Muslims were so hard up on a bunch of Danish cartoons when the rest of the world lampoons Christian nutters with little resistance
4) why people would wuss out on talking about the problem of obviously conflicting opinions, choosing instead to say “Oh everyone has a right to an opinion.”

Obviously everyone has a right to be nuts, but there had to be a reason why some opinions are considered more nutty than others.

And that was also when I decided that being in the news industry was pretty cool. Different aces report on the very same issues so differently, with so many consequences.

And we have no way of drawing any proverbial line on the black/white, right/wrong, objective/ subjective. Is Al Jazeera wrong for publishing shit about everyone else in the middle east except its pay masters, the Qatar royalty? Is Fox News being unobjective for slamming the liberals and having a Christian undertone when the liberal outlets have their own slant too?

So a decade down the road since 9/11, here i am at New Nation, where we write about stuff that happens everyday. It’s been a long time since the first image of the twin towers collapsing was etched deep into my memory but in truth, 9/11 has really stuck.

So what if Osama’s dead. Obama’s still getting flak for having a Muslim middle name, people are still making money talking about Islamic security threats (real or imagined) in the region, and Muslims are still being detained in Singapre by Internal Security for being terrorist threats.

The truth is, 9/11 just gave the developed world an excuse to pick on something else after the Cold War. And until we find that something else to demonise, there can be no closure to the event that will shaped the histories of Muslims, Americans, Singaporeans and the like, for better or for worse.

Prime Minister apologises, but nothing has changed

Prime Minister apologises, but nothing has changed

Tags: , , , , , , ,


He issues a long overdue apology for mistakes in the past 5 years, but his fundamental political beliefs have not shifted.

By Fang Shihan

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in a prelude to PM Lee’s apology, gave a dire warning. He said that Singapore, like the rest of the world, was “one shock away from another recession.” The world has not recovered from the recession he said, but because the government has done a good job, the median worker has seen incomes rise by 10% over the past 10 years, after accounting for inflation.

And with the figurative red carpet rolled out, PM Lee stepped forward, staff in hand, crown placed nicely, and… said sorry.

The economy was doing great, he said, growing at 14.5% last year because the PAP made good decisions when the opportunities arose. But this came at the expense of the people.

“[Overcrowding and limited public transport capacity] are real problems, we will tackle them. but I hope you will understand that when these problems vex you or disturb you or upset your lives, please bear with us. We are trying our best on your behalf. And if we didn’t get it quite right. I’m sorry, but we will try to do better the next time.”

And it gets better.

“We made a mistake when we let Mas Selamat run away. We made a mistake when Orchard road got flooded. And there are other mistakes which we have made from time to time and I’m sure will occasionally happen again. I hope not too often. But when it happens, we should acknowledge it. We should apologise, take responsibility, put things right. If we have to discipline somebody, we will do that. And we must learn from our lessons and never make the same mistake again.”

Eh? You got discipline Wong Kan Seng meh? If I recall correctly, he turned the situation around and accused Singaporeans of being complacent about security. But never mind, onward with the next apology:

“There are two examples where things didn’t turn out like we hoped. HDB flats: we had a sharp recession just 3 years ago. We had a surplus of flats. We didn’t expect that in the middle of 2009, after this sharp downturn, things would pick up suddenly, strongly, the wind would catch us, and suddenly the demand would press flat prices up. If we could have predicted this I think we would have ramped up our building plan earlier, built more flats earlier and we would have saved many singaporeans some angst.

Similarly with our public transport, we enjoyed high growth, higher than we expected. But with high growth, we had more population increase than we expected because we had more foreign workers come in and we had to accept them because we wanted them to fill the jobs to support the investments, the projects that were coming in. As a result we have more congestion.

We’re sorry we didn’t get it exactly right. But I hope you will understand and bear with us. Because we are trying our best to fix the problems. We’re building 22,000 flats this year. Opening one new MRT line or extension line every year for the next 7 years. Investing in our people and in our future.”

And so he begs for forgiveness, pleads for the people’s mandate so he can run the government properly and dangles some awfully yummy looking carrots in front.

One MRT line every year? Seriously? To quote Irene Ang: “Singapore got so much space to dig ar?”

I understand though, and I appreciate the apology after three long years. Better late then never. Shows the humble side of the man who’s the son of the most powerful man on the island.

But if you think that’s any indication of a sharp U-turn in policy, you’re going to be disappointed.

Even if PM Lee proclaims proudly, about the free and fair electoral system, where anyone and everyone could contest and even switch parties if they wanted to, he’s still very much the old-school guy who believes in a one-party dominant system. Having an opposition gets in the way. Period.

“[The opposition] will help the PAP to make a mess, so they will take over from the PAP. It’s quite understandable. They’re entitled to do that. we’ve asked them to admit it. Some do, like the Reform Party. Others like the Worker’s Party hem and haw but they stop short of saying that. They want to get your vote speaking softly. But is it good to have government and opposition fighting each other all the time in parliament?”

“When the Worker’s party says First World Parliament, so we ask them where’s your first world? They say ‘don’t have but its First World’. Because when you ask for the real samples, you see the sample, you know you don’t want to buy this merchandise. This is bad merchandise.”

To PM Lee, the electoral system is nothing more than a controlled theatre for the kids to watch once every five years. It’s all a performance and the best actors get to continue performing (but not participating) in parliament for the next half a decade.

To PM Lee, only the PAP are fit to govern. And boy does he work hard to make sure he hand picks the right people for the party.

“You’ve seen some of them, you’ve heard some of them. In fact several of them were here this afternoon, speaking to you. Getting practice talking to Singaporeans. I believe that they are good, and they will get better. By 2020, they must be ready to lead Singapore when my generation retires.”

PM, you’re assuming they’ll last until 2020 issit? There’s still one more election in between and we can vote them out you know? Again, we have free and fair elections, anyone can contest, but PM is able to predict that one whole generation of PAP politicians will be able to lead (even as they’re still practicing their speeches during the elections).

But if that’s not enough, PM had to pull the generation card.

“Your approach to the GE will be different from the older generation. From your parents. Because for your parents this is the 7th or 10th GE and they will vote based on gut instinct and loyalty. And long experience on what they have known, works in Singapore. And they know what can happen if you have a bad government in Singapore.”

Sir, I believe 43.4% of the voting population were in walkover wards in 2006 and if you look hard enough, there will be people your age who’re voting for the first time in 2011. And if they had grown up during Singapore’s boomtime, they really wouldn’t know what could happen with a bad government could they?

And he ends it off with the final gong.

“After this GE, we will have the mandate to take Singapore forward for the next 5 years.”

Assumptions sir, assumptions. So yes he apologised, yes I feel shiok, but don’t be mistaken. Nothing about him has changed one bit.

MediaCorp produces Matrix prequel

MediaCorp produces Matrix prequel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


ICA officer dodges bullet in new action-drama Point of Entry.

By Terence Lee

BY NOW, you would have known (or maybe not) that Channel 5 is screening a new locally-produced crime drama called Point of Entry, now in its third episode.

What you may not have heard is that the drama is actually MediaCorp’s gallant attempt at resurrecting the deadish Matrix franchise. While the final movie of the trilogy may have tanked, you can count on the wonderfully original scriptwriters to breathe new life into it.

So, instead of having super-agents in cool black garb and designer sunglasses, they threw in chic Immigration Checkpoint Authority (ICA) jackets. And rather than having omnipotent bad guys with kick-ass wirefu skills, they were armed with toy sniper rifles loaded with fake-looking CGI bullets.

Yes, bullet time is back in vogue, half a decade after it died. In the first episode featuring stilted action sequences, Vivian de Cruz (played by Pamelyn Chee), an ICA agent, leans back awkwardly to dodge a slo-mo sniper bullet, and then springs back up and starts talking to an approaching colleague as if nothing happened. What flexible spine!

I swear that scene is forever seared in my mind, and will haunt me in my sleep.

The drama claims at the beginning to be “inspired” by real events, but contradicts itself by later saying that any similarities to people or incidents is purely coincidental. It doesn’t know what it wants to be.

If the scriptwriters and producers want to do campy, I’d say milk it for all its worth and produce an action-drama parody. Instead, Point of Entry represents a failed attempt at being serious, leaving the audience in stitches for the wrong reasons.

While the acting is decent, the dialogue and plot are so cliché that viewers wonder where they’ve seen it before: Tough guy Glenn Chua (played by Carl Ng) is the new boss with a perpetual scowl, who comes in to replace a well-loved dead colleague. Taking no heed to the emotional trauma felt by team Epsilon, he barks orders and throws his weight around. Can anyone, even the stereotypical scholarly types, have such low EQ?

It’s a pity really: The series actually has a decent cast and plenty of potential, not to mention eye candy for both ladies and men. The scriptwriters might have succeeded if they did not work beyond their means (and meagre budget) and just focus on the drama.

The series will last 20 episodes, six more than VR Man, the superhero horror show of 1994 that starred James Lye as the good guy with burping – I mean ‘virping’ – as his superpower. And let’s not forget the intimidating sounding Click Click Man, played by Mark Richmond with a fake scar across his face.

Okay, maybe Point of Entry doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

But I wish MediaCorp would actually pour more money into decent shows like The Pupil, a gem of a legal drama that was actually engaging, witty, and well-researched. And it won an award too. Maybe it’s time I start clamouring for a second season to that wonderful series, and demand that Adrian Pang resumes his role as a wisecracking lawyer.

Perhaps I have been too harsh on MediaCorp, and I really am pining for subsequent episodes to dramatically improve (Editor’s note: Episide two, on youth violence, fares slightly better, although it’s overly preachy). Let’s hope that is not wishful thinking, just like how we’ve come to expect ICA agents to possess superpowers. If that were true, then Mas Selamat would never have escaped Singapore.