Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Singapore: We must get behind our activists and alternative newsites

Singapore Democrats

As the next election draws nearer, government-controlled sources of information will increasingly push out commentary praising the PAP regardless of the difficulties and frustration that Singaporeans face.

But while this may have worked well for the ruling party in years past, circumstances have altered considerably with the expansion of the Internet.

No longer is it easy for the PAP to play fast and loose with the facts as bloggers, with the ability to retrieve information at a moment's notice, are able to call out the authorities' bluster and disingenuity.

This is why, if Singapore is going to mature into a thinking society where we are able to distinguish between news and propaganda, we must value our activists.

Alternative newsites such the Temasek Review Emeritus (which has recently called for financial support), The Real Singapore, The Online Citizen, Redwire Times, etc., as well as the myriad of blogs provide an invaluable service in our effort to develop a democracy.

Coupled with a fast-developing civil society sector where activists, once non-existent, are now making themselves heard on a variety of issues, the scene is set for citizens to take on a more meaningful role in shaping public policy.

This is the reason the SDP fought for democracy and the rights of our fellow Singaporeans.

Not only did we believe (and still do) that freedom, in and of itself, is worth defending, but we also knew that without our political rights, we could not fight for our social and economic interests – interests like curbing the excessively liberal immigration policy or protesting against the retention of our CPF money.

The exercise of our fundamental rights of speech, assemble and association – exemplified by the gatherings at Hong Lim Park organised by our activists – have enabled the blogosphere to keep the people informed of the damage done by PAP's policies.

If Singapore is going to develop into a truly First World society, a robust civil society, of which the Internet community plays an integral part, is indispensable.

PM Lee Hsien Loong recently disparaged the Internet as a medium that has “led to divisions and all kinds of different ideas being able to take root and germinate.”

It is unfortunate that the leader of a government that professes to champion a knowledge-based economy cannot see that it is “all kinds of ideas” that has led to progress and the advancement of human civilisation.

Like everything else, modern communication tools can be a force for good or it can be abused to degrade humanity. It does not portend well for our nation that the PAP cannot inspire our people to achieve great things and aspire to noble ends.

But we must not despair. We must, instead, encourage “all kinds of ideas” to be articulated and have faith in our people that the good ones will be cultivated and the bad ones discarded.

This means supporting the endeavours of our online community and civil society.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BANNED: Tan Pin Pin's film 'To Singapore, With Love' not to be shown in public

The Media Development Authority (MDA) says the film is not allowed for all ratings as contents undermine national security. Source: CNA

SINGAPORE: The Media Development Authority of Singapore on Wednesday (Sep 10) decided that local film director Tan Pin Pin's work To Singapore, With Love will be classified as "Not Allowed for All Ratings".

In its statement on Wednesday (Sep 10), MDA said it had assessed the contents of the film, and decided that it undermined national security. It added that legitimate actions taken by security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.

"The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore," the MDA stated. "A number of these self-professed 'exiles' were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM)."

The documentary depicted different generations of Singaporean political exiles who have not been able to come home. Some have not returned for 50 years. Ms Tan sought to show how these exiles have lived their lives away and how they still viewed Singapore, according to the film's website.

Under the Film Classification Guidelines, films that are assessed to undermine national security will be given an NAR rating. This means the film is not for exhibition or distribution in Singapore.


Commenting on MDA's ruling, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said he had read the reasons for the decision and "agree and support their assessment".

"The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they left Singapore and claimed that they were unfairly denied their right to return to Singapore," said Dr Yaacob.

"The truth of the matter was that many of them, by their own admission, were members or supporters of the Communist Party of Malaya which sought to overthrow the legitimate elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia through armed struggle and subversion, and replace them with a communist regime," he added.

The minister said it is "not surprising" that ex-CPM members and sympathisers wish now to give their own accounts of historical episodes they were involved in.

"But individuals who have chosen to leave and remain outside Singapore, and refused to account for their past actions, should not enjoy a public platform to purvey distorted and untruthful accounts to mislead the public, absolve themselves or deny their past actions," Dr Yaacob stated.

For ex-CPM members and supporters who have returned to Singapore, acknowledge their actions and renounced Communism and violence, they and their families continued to live here and contribute to building Singapore, he added.

- CNA/kk

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Leo Tolstoy!

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back."

Friday, August 8, 2014

Engkau Laksana Bulan

My idol P. Ramlee performing the song 'Engkau Laksana Bulan' from his first directed film, 'Penarek Beca'.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alumni barred from school for being “politically active”?

July 31 2014, The Online Citizen

By Terry Xu
Like the year before, graduate of First Toa Payoh Secondary, Ariffin Sha was preparing to return to his former school to help out with its involvement in the National Day celebrations. He was former parade commander and also vice president of the student council.
This year was different, as his teacher told him that he need not come to help because the parade will be on a smaller scale.
This sounds fairly normal, until Ariffin started to hear other opinions about why his alma mater no longer needed his help.
image from lenneyHe was told by his former teacher that he can no longer enter the school premises without the approval of the principal.
And soon after, he got to know from about eight other friends who were still studying at the school that they have been asked about their relationship with him and whether he has ever spoken to them on political issues.
They were asked questions such as, “Are you close to Ariffin?”, or “Did Ariffin talk about politics to you guys?”
Ariffin had recently been active in the social political arena, voicing out on social issues online and speaking at events in Hong Lim Park. His views dealt mostly with government policies.
His friends said they did not know why the school had to ask such questions, and  were very puzzled about why Ariffin should be treated in such a manner.
Two friends from the group of students had also volunteered with him for his community project and were also questioned about their voluntary work with Ariffin. They said that they understood where the school was coming from in terms of safety and responsibility of the students, even though they volunteered in their personal capacity. But they could not understand why they were asked questions about Ariffin himself.
According to Ariffin, no other fellow Alumni members were told that their services at the school were no longer required.
The school principal, Mr Lim Kok Hwa, arranged for a meeting with Ariffin on a Saturday to address his concerns over the issue. Ariffin had informed his principal that the contents of the meeting would not be private and confidential.
During the meeting, the principal assured him that he was not being barred from the school compound. He explained that the school was merely exercising security measures due to the recent spate of sex-for-grades cases. He also said that the teacher who told Ariffin he would require the principal’s approval before he can enter the school misunderstood what he said.
However, Mr Lim did not address the issue of why Ariffin’s friends were questioned about their relationship with him and whether he spoke to them on political matters.
TOC sent queries to First Toa Payoh Secondary School and the Ministry of Education last week, to confirm if Ariffin has indeed been denied entry to the school compound as alumni, or if other alumni members have also been treated similarl. We have yet to receive a response from the school or MOE, and will include their response in this report when they reply.
Ariffin said that he hopes what happened to him will not continue, because quite a number of secondary school students have expressed to him their interests in political involvement.
Questions remain about whether Ariffin was indeed ostracised by his school for his contrarian views on national policies, as his fellow students are now left wondering if they would be treated the same way should they do likewise. Would it have a chilling effect on active citizenry among those he know?
Images of Ariffin volunteering with the Extend the Feast community project organised by the Happy People Helping People Foundation. Ariffin was the organiser for the Toa Payoh area for the distribution of food.

UN Official Breaks Down On Air After Gaza School Bombing

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why is PM Lee paid times more than Obama?

Jokowi's future salary as compared to other world leaders. Note how Singapore's PM Lee still earns 3 times more than Obama, does he have more work to do than the President of the United States?

Image from this article.