Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SDP articles now available in four languages

Seelan/சீலன்: தமிழில் மொழிபெயர்க்கப்பட்ட சிங்கப்பூர் ஜனநாயக கட்சியின் இதழ்களை இந்த இணையப்பக்கத்தில் காணலாம் - http://yoursdp.org/index.php/news/-tamil-language

It is now four languages
28 April 2009, Singapore Democrats

The Singapore Democrats celebrate our multi-ethnic make-up as we proudly announce the launch of our Chinese, Malay and Tamil sections of our website - http://yoursdp.org

The multi-lingual setup is yet another initiative to enhance the effectiveness of this portal and to expand our reach to Singaporeans. We will continue to develop the capability and power of our programme in cyberspace.

Such expansion is possible because our members and activists feel the passion for what we are doing. The fire in their bellies to promote the cause of freedom and justice in our nation is what drives the party forward.

They ask not "What's in it for us" but rather "What's in it for the future of Singapore".

Our ranks have grown over the last couple of years especially with the younger generation of Singaporeans. Together with this expansion came expertise and skills that the party needs but has hitherto not possessed.

And it is these skills that have enabled the Singapore Democrats and this website to grow.

This occurred because we have articulated our goals and policies in a clear and forthright manner. We have not shied away from taking a stand on the various issues that affect our society, unpopular ones included. We have also been at the forefront of Singapore's politics even during non-election years, working for reform and coming up with constructive ideas.

Singaporeans see this and many have stepped forward to become part of the SDP family.

But we are acutely aware that we need to do even more and to do it more proficiently. This website is but one example. In spite of the several measures we have taken, we will be launching even more initiatives in the coming weeks and months to enhance the site.

We invite you to be actively involved in the process. Without you and your support, the SDP will not grow. And if we don't grow, democracy will never become a reality in Singapore. But with you pitching in, we will grow even faster.

For a start please forward this message to your family and friends, especially those who read the three languages that we have put up. We will endeavour to update these sections on a fortnightly basis. Those of you who can help us translate material, please email us at speakup@yoursdp.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We pledge to continue to fight off forces that conspire so cursedly to extinguish the flame of democracy. Won't you come and help us not just to keep the flame alive but make it burn ever brighter for all Singaporeans.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chairman of Reform Party resigns, Kenneth Jeyaretnam is new Sec Gen

Source: The Online Citizen, Monday, 27 April 2009

TOC understands that Mr Ng Teck Siong called an emergency meeting yesterday at 11.30am at the Reform Party’s office, where a vote of no confidence in the chairman was tabled. TOC understands the vote was passed by a majority of the CEC.

Mr Ng tendered his resignation this morning.

Speaking to TOC, Mr Ng said he has also tendered to resign from the party completely.

Below is the press release from the party:

The Reform Party

18A Smith Street Singapore 058932 Tel: 6534 9641

The Reform Party is delighted to announce that following a meeting of its Central Executive Committee on Sunday April 26th the following resolutions were passed.

- A vote of no confidence in Ng Teck Siong as Chairperson of the party was passed by a majority vote of the CEC

- Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam was appointed to the position of Secretary General of The Reform Party by a majority vote of the CEC

- Mr Edmund Ng was appointed to the post of chairperson of the Reform Party (interim) by a majority vote of the CEC

- Mr Teo Kian Chye was appointed to the post of Treasurer of the Reform Party ( interim) by a majority vote of the CEC

Edmund Ng, formerly Organising Secretary of the Reform Party said, “I’m honoured to have been selected for this role and to be working with the new senior officers of the CEC. Our new SG brings a breath of fresh air to politics in Singapore and a balanced and qualified voice to the opposition. Since joining the RP Kenneth has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Party bringing energy, direction and cohesion. His professional background, his academic qualifications and his immersion in the political issues of Singapore from a very young age enable him to bring to the Party a depth of knowledge and experience not often seen in opposition in Singapore. “

Teo Kian Chye, also stated that he felt honoured in the trust shown in him by the CEC on appointing him to the role of Treasurer. About his new SG he said, “We must remember that Kenneth has rejected a potentially lucrative career path in order to serve the people of Singapore. He had many options and we are delighted that he chose to join the Reform Party. He has been an example to all of us and I hope that many others will follow the path he has chosen.”

Kenneth Jeyaretnam said how pleased he was to have been appointed to the role of SG. “After choosing to go into politics various offers were put to me but the stated philosophy of the Reform Party,( ‘ that every member of the society is born with fundamental rights and that it is the paramount duty of the society to promote the human dignity of every single member’ ) most closely matched my own philosophy. I was touched by the public response to the announcement in the Press when I joined the Reform Party and the outpouring of support shown to me since. We have a lot of work going forward and it is humbling that so many people have demonstrated this level of confidence in me. I look forward to serving them. “

On Monday April 27th 2009 Mr Ng Teck Siong tendered his resignation as Chairperson to the new SG, Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam. Under Article 5 (vii) of the Party constitution this resignation will only become effective upon the acknowledgement in writing of the resignation by the Secretary-General of the Party.

Related article:
“The door is always open to him,” says new Reform Party Chairman

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Parameswara's Weekly Round-Up (12th – 18th April 09)

Hi All – An incident happened this week that is worrying; at least to me and you should too. Reported in Reuters on 23rd April at 4.51 am, “An Iranian-flagged freight ship was aground on Thursday after colliding with a container ship in the busy shipping lanes off Singapore”. Fortunately no one was injured.

Reuters also reported that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said "It's in a stable condition -- it will have to be moved, adding that “the cause of the collision, the only one this year, was being investigated.”

It is not the incident that is worrying, especially when no lives were lost, and the ship owners and shippers have insurance anyway. It is the perception that Singapore seems to be decaying; the attitude of the highly paid people that are supposed to be responsible; the indifference of the media when it is not government propaganda.

Singapore was warned about this on 3rd April 2009 by the American Club, a shipping group. In fact it also alleged that collision had occurred (see report here). On 13th April SEATRADE carried this same report on its online edition.

The response from Singapore’s Maritime & Port Authority portmaster Lee Cheng Wee to Lloyd’s List queries on this matter: “Over recent months, the utilisation rate of our anchorages has been fairly stable. In other words, our anchorages have not become more crowded as a result of the economic downturn. Concerns over increasing congestion are hence unfounded.”

Does “stable utilization rate” mean no congestion? Why waffle? Address the issue directly – yes or no and do something positive if it is a “yes or even maybe" situation. Actually Mr. Lee need not even mention “economic downturn". The issue is: are the channels crowded or not; does it pose a danger or not.

In the same report, visual checks by Lloyd’s List confirmed the Eastern anchorages to look very crowded with a growing number of offshore support vessels adding to the larger ships at anchor.

Capt Lee responded: “While hundreds of ships are reported to be laid up across the globe, there are no vessels laid up in the Singapore port. Singapore does not encourage the laying up of vessels in our port waters, due to the limited sea space available.” However, he did note “an increase in the number of vessels at anchor for over 10 days to around 70 each month of which around 30 were awaiting orders; concerns over congestion and navigational safety are not warranted.”

The “We can do no wrong syndrome” seems to be a contagious disease in Singapore. At the end of the day, we are our biggest fear and enemy, not our neighbours.


Investigate this too:


14th April 2009 – 32 hurt in bus collision – by Carolyn Quek and Teh Joo lin

1. Are the bus drivers locals or foreigners, if foreigners, are they holding local driving licenses?

2. How many hours of driving both drivers had already clocked in before driving these buses?

3. How road worthy were the buses at this point in time?

4. What’s happening to the injured; is fair compensation ensured?


Other headlines:

PARA: MAYBE PREPARING FOR PROTESTS FROM THE UNEMPLOYED AND THE HUNGRY.

13TH April 2009 – Business Times - Singapore says new law will prevent meeting disruption

PARA: MINISTERS LOOKING INTO THIS?

13th April 2009 - Reuters - Singapore economy shrinks 11.5 pct y/y in Q1

14th April2009 - Bettina Wassener - Singapore Forecasts Even Worse 2009 for Its Economy

14th April 2009 – Financial Times - Singapore devalues currency as economy slows

14th April 2009 - AFP - Singapore dollar depreciated as contraction looms

PARA: BIG KAMPONG QUARREL – BOUND TO HAPPEN WHEN KAMPONG GETS TOO CROWDED

17TH April 2009 – Straits Times - DBS rebukes Aware president;Disregarded code twice; DBS holding an internal review over Josie Lau's conduct

17th April 2009 – Today - She did it not once, but twice

17th April – New Paper - What’s good for the goose ...Isn’t for the gander? DBS has other multi-taskers too, besides Aware’s president

17TH April 2009 – The Straits Times - DBS tells why it rebuked Josie Lau; Bank holding an internal review over her conduct

PARA: FIRST WORLD MAKE HEADLINES IN THIRD WORLD

16th APRIL2009 – Jakarta Post - City warns spread of flu from S’pore

16th APRIL 2009 – Jakarta Post - Workers stage protest rally outside Singapore embassy


Cheers

PARAMESWARA

Friday, April 24, 2009

Baby gloom haunts Lee & Why LKY should play SimCity

INSIGHT: DOWN SOUTH WITH SEAH CHIANG NEE
March 28, 2009, The Star

True-blue citizens may go the way of the Mohicans with the city-state’s falling marriage and birth rates.


THE rising number of reluctant brides, particularly among the highly educated, has again been highlighted by Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew.

In a recent dialogue with undergraduates, Minister Mentor Lee pointed to his own daughter as an example when he talked about the long-term impact of falling marriage and procreation rates.

His concern about Singapore’s population slide had been around for some 25 years, seeing it a threat to its long-term survival.

A newspaper headline just asked: “Will we be the last of the Mohicans (an American Red Indian tribe that became extinct)?”

In other words, the low fertility will lead to the extinction of the present 3.25 million true-blue Singaporeans.

The white-haired Lee says an increasing number of the better-educated women are choosing to remain single as a lifestyle choice, and happy with it.

Some 33% of men and women are single, according to Lee. And to prevent an eventual collapse, Singapore has to import foreigners.

Lee aimed his marriage-and-population message at the very people – university students – he wanted to reach.

When he first talked about the subject, it was a generation ago. The people then would have included some parents of the current audience.

At the time, the reaction was a surprise since the birth rates were not yet at crisis point.

Lee is 86 today. This year he enters a historic 50th year of state leadership to become the world’s longest serving leader.

He showed the students an uncharacteristic glimpse of his softer, fatherly figure, a divergence from his past combatant self. This time, he talked of his unmarried daughter to make a point.

She is Dr Lee Wei Ling, the bright 54-year-old director of the National institute of Neurological Sciences, who once lashed out at the “elitist attitude of some in our upper socio-economic class.”

Writing that she was neither anti-establishment nor “a government mouthpiece,” Dr Lee added: “I am capable of independent thought.”

Something dad probably agrees with. In his fatherly eyes, Dr Lee – however mature or brilliant – is still a child who needs looking after.

After saying that one-third of men and women in Singapore were single “and quite comfortable with their lives”, the Minister Mentor said: “My daughter is one of them. What can I do?”

Then in an unusually emotional mood, Lee told the young audience: “When she was in her early 30s, I told her, never mind all this.

“My wife and I used to tell her, what you want is a “Mrs” (to her name). She didn’t think it was funny. Now, she is 50-plus.

“I’m getting old. I’ve got a pacemaker. We’ve got this big house, everything is looked after now, but what happens when we are no longer there?

“Who’s going to run this place? Who’s going to make sure that the maids are doing the right thing and so on and so forth? That’s the price she (Dr Lee) will have to pay.

“She says, I’ll look after myself, but she has not been looking after herself all these years.

“She went abroad for her studies. And her cooking was just to take the salmon and put it in the microwave and heat it up. You can do it and then go to the canteen, but when you do that day after day ...

“It’s a choice she has made and a choice that 35% of our women are making.”

However, in the 21st Century, women are the key to population control, Lee said, but “you have to couple an educated woman with equal job opportunities”.

The ageing Lee is still not beyond putting down his opponents either in the courts or using the law and police. On this occasion he talked of his own mortality.

At any rate, he remains very active in the running of the country.

He no longer sounded like the pugnacious 35-year-old lawyer who became Singapore’s first prime minister in 1959 when it was a self-governing colony.

In talking about lifestyle choice, Lee may have left out other factors that is contributing to fewer Singaporeans marrying and producing babies.

One is the highly competitive life in a tiny Singapore that has few resources. From school to work to business, it is one test after another for the people.

Another is the high cost of living. The Economist Intelligence survey named Singapore the 10th most expensive country in the world, and the present crisis could make things tougher.

Last year inflation rose by 6.5%, the highest level in 28 years, with the poor being the hardest hit – not a formula for more babies.

During the past decade wages of the broad middle class stagnated, while that of the lower-income group actually declined.

Some young critics blame it on policies that Lee had instituted all these years, particularly giving priority to economic growth over individual needs.

This is the second time Lee has referred to his offsprings being affected by dramatic social changes.

Apart from his daughter, Lee had earlier said that Li Hongyi, his grandson (the son of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) had succumbed to the emigration trend. He has said he may remain in the United States after graduation.

A Singaporean wrote: “At least Lee now realises that no matter how tight he controls Singapore, there are things that are beyond him – like marriage, emigration and having children.”

His problem is amplified by a young lady, who wrote: “We don’t need men to take care of our needs. We can afford our every material whim and fancy.”

Related article: Why LKY should play SimCity to find out why Singaporeans dont care about making babies

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Govt retains ineffective ban on Zahari's 17 Years

Seelan: The PAP can ban it all it wants lah, but Zahari's 17 Years can be watched by all of you right here and now:



Govt retains ban on Zahari's 17 Years
Source:
Martyn See

The Government has retained the ban on Zahari's 17 Years.

In a letter hand-delivered to my home yesterday, the Board of Film Censors (BFC) said that the recent Films Act amendments did not cover Section 35 and that the Minister has not changed his position on the film.

The letter also stated that the Films (Amendment) Act is not yet in force and suggested that I resubmit Singapore Rebel after the Act comes into force.

A summary of the ratings made by BFC on my recent submissions of six films. Read my earlier letter here.

1. Singapore Rebel (2009) No decision. To resubmit.
2. Zahari's 17 Years (2009) Banned retained.
3. Speakers Cornered (2009) No change. Passed NC16.
4. One Nation Under Lee No decision. To resubmit
5. Success Stories : Lee Kuan Yew No change. Passed PG.
6. Riding The Tiger No change. Exempted under section 40.

The Government's letter in full here

No change to status of six movies
Singapore News, April 18, 2009, ALICIA WONG

THERE will be no change, for now, to the status of the six films submitted by film-maker Martyn See to the Media Development Authority (MDA).

As a “test” of the liberalisation of the Films Act, Mr See had re-submitted three of his films and three from other film-makers to the MDA for re-classification, on March 31.

However, MDA’s written reply on Thursday said the “2009 amendments to the Films Acts are not yet in force”, and advised Mr See to “re-submit them after the amendments come into force”.

The disappointed film-maker said he had sent in his films “with the intention they would review them based on the new ruling”.

He will re-submit Singapore Rebel and One Nation Under Lee after the amendments come into effect, he said, and “hopefully it will be passed and legalised, and Singaporeans can judge and decide for themselves what to watch and what should not be allowed”.

However, Mr See will “not pursue” his bid to un-ban the film Zahari’s 17 Years, which is prohibited under Section 35(1) of the Films Act for being contrary to the public interest.

The MDA said in its letter, the upcoming amendments to the Act “do not relate to Section 35(1) and the Minister has not changed his opinion”.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Parameswara's Weekly Round-Up (5th – 11th April 09)

Hi all.

I think of all Singaporeans, we ordinary people of the street know how bad the economy really is, because we have to live in this real world. Every day we are bombarded left, right and center with bad news of our economy, and most of this bad news are from foreign media. Why are they like this to us?

Maybe these foreign media don’t like us. Did any of you guys out there offend them, or were too cocky or rude to them? If you have, tone it down ok, and maybe, just maybe, they will write friendly stuff about us. It really is very embarrassing, especially if you have to travel out of the country... by bus ok, and only to Malaysia, not many can fly these days, even on budget flight...

The top prize for economic news this week goes to The Straits Times who carried in their headline news (online version only, cannot afford the regular newspaper) Mr. Lim Boon Heng’s economic wisdom: “Bonus is not a dirty word”. And of course this week’s economic book prize goes to Mr. Lim. Perhaps he is our equivalent of Alan Greenspan, or Dick Cheney – “deficit is good”.


5th April 2009, Straits Times - “Bonus need not be a dirty word.”

Mr. Lim: “companies’ bonuses are part and parcel of the overall wage package“

Para: Is Mr. Lim living in a different world? Is he aware we are going into a deep recession, and even maybe a depression, and whose bonuses is he referring to?

Mr. Lim: “we now operate differently from the past”

Para: Ha-ha… Mr. Lim we had better operate differently from the past, because whatever way that matters were operated didn’t work isn’t it?

Mr. Lim: “should not get overexcited whenever we see the word ‘bonus’ being used“.

Para: Not excited, Mr. Lim, angry.

Mr. Lim: “people should not mistake a bonus as somebody getting something extra and undeserved and out of line with the current economic situation”.

Para: Mr. Lim needs English lessons. Synonyms for bonus are – extra, plus, benefits, additional windfall.

Mr. Lim: the uproar over bonuses paid by troubled firms like AIG was because the American public perceived these to have come from Government bailouts.

Para: Mr. Lim, Singaporeans are poorer, but they have got wiser, and they know that the uproar of AIG bonus is because it’s corruption and cronyism.

Parameswara is thinking, is Mr. Lim conditioning us to expect huge bonuses to be paid this year? I hope I can get some of it.

I think Mr. Lim should read some of the following articles. I have taken the trouble to highlight the headlines and the source for him for easy research. Perhaps bonuses nowadays are for gloom and doom.


6th April 2009, The Malaysian Insider - Sentosa (Singapore) dream gets hazy

It was supposed to be Asia’s answer to glitzy Monaco, but plans to remake Sentosa into an island playground where rich foreigners and locals live and play are going to take longer than expected to materialise.

  • Fewer than 1,000 homes are likely to be completed by the end of this year, and several developers are expected to delay their projects further.
  • City Developments, for example, has postponed its $580 million project comprising luxury apartments, shops and a five-star, 320-room Westin Hotel, originally slated to open this year.
  • Colliers’ data, based on caveats lodged, shows that only one non-landed residential unit in Sentosa was sold in Q4 2008. In the first three months of this year, the number rose slightly to eight.
  • This is a far cry from transaction volumes at the height of the property boom in 2007. In Q1 2007, some 279 non-landed homes were sold in Sentosa. In Q2 that year, the transaction volume was 243.

PARA: Our Switzerland of the east vision remains a vision 8 years after the target date. Will the same fate await – The Monte Carlo of the East?


14th April 2009, Bloomberg News - Singapore Forecasts Even Worse 2009 for Its Economy

  • Singapore said Tuesday that it expected its economy to contract by as much as 9 percent this year
  • On Tuesday, the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry revised its forecast for 2009 for the third time in less than five months, saying it now expected the economy to shrink by between 6 percent and 9 percent — making for what would be among the most severe contractions in the region
  • Badly hit by the collapse in overseas demand for items like electronics, precision engineering and pharmaceuticals. All three are key areas in Singapore’s manufacturing sector, where activity slumped 29 percent during the first quarter of 2009 from a year earlier.
  • Data on Tuesday showed Singapore’s overall economy had contracted in the first quarter by a record 11.5 percent from a year earlier, and by 19.7 percent from the previous quarter — much more severely than analysts had forecast.
  • “Falling demand in late 2008 and early 2009 has severely affected domestic manufacturing output,” Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement announcing its revised forecasts. “While there are tentative signs of some stabilization in the housing, financial and manufacturing sectors in the U.S., they do not point to a clear turnaround in economic activity.”

PARA: Does LKY still think stimulating the domestic economy is not the answer?


14th April 2009, Financial Times - Singapore devalues currency as economy slows

  • “MAS will therefore re-centre the exchange rate policy band to the prevailing level of the Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate.”

PARA: Where Para once came from (Indonesia), we devalue our currency every year. Is that going to be the case here too?


14 April 2009, AFP - Singapore dollar depreciated as contraction looms

  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country's de facto central bank, said in a statement it lowered the trading band for the Singapore dollar, which essentially allows the local currency to depreciate.
  • Singapore last eased its monetary policy in October 2008.

PARA: Does this means our cost of living is going up further? Or are we adjusting to accommodate the coming collapse of the US$, or both?


Other headlines of the week:
6th April 2009, Business Times - Fixing the faults with foreign listings
7th April 2009, Straits Times - SBS, SMRT Buses fined
7th April 2009, Straits Times – Grads flexible about pay
8th April 2009, Straits Times - Changi Airport looking to fill 400 job vacancies
10th April 2009, Asia One - Singaporeans say more medical choices in Johor Bahru


Until then,
PARAMESWARA

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chennai painting event to protest the war in Sri Lanka

Seelan: I'm sorry that the article is only available in Tamil, but luckily one of the strengths of art is that it can communicate ideas beyond the boundaries of language.

ஈழத்தில் போர் நிறுத்தத்தினை வலியுறுத்தி சென்னையில் தூரிகைப் போராட்டம்
[ஞாயிற்றுக்கிழமை, 08 மார்ச் 2009, 07:23 பி.ப ஈழம்] [பூ.சிவமலர்]

சென்னையில் கருத்துரிமைக் களம் என்கிற அமைப்பு ஏற்பாடு செய்திருந்த 'தூரிகைகளின் துயரப்பதிவுகள்' என்னும் தூரிகைப் போராட்டத்தில் கலந்து கொண்ட நூற்றுக்கணக்கான ஓவியர்கள் போருக்கு எதிராக ஓவியங்களை வரைந்தார்கள்.

சென்னையில் நேற்று சனிக்கிழமை நடைபெற்ற இந்நிகழ்வில் பிரபல ஓவியர்கள், ஓவியக்கல்லூரி மாணவர்கள், பிரபல கேலிச்சித்திரம் வரைபவர்கள், காட்சி ஊடக மணவ மாணவிகள், எழுத்தாளர்கள், வழக்கறிஞர்கள், கவிஞர்கள் எனப் பலரும் கலந்து கொண்டனர்.

பிரபல கேலிச்சித்திரம் வரைவபரான மதன் நிகழ்வினை தொடக்கி வைக்க, சென்னை ஓவியக்கல்லூரி முதல்வரும் ஓவியருமான சந்துரு ஓவியம் வரைந்தார். பிரபல ஒவியர்களான வீரசந்தானம், மணியன் செல்வம், அரஸ், மாருதி, விஸ்வம், ஸ்யாம், மனோகர், நெடுஞ்செழியன், போன்ற பல பிரபல ஓவியர்களும் தங்கள் உணர்வுகளை ஓவியமாக வெளிப்படுத்தினார்கள்.





வரைந்து முடிந்த ஓவியங்களை பொதுமக்களின் பார்வைக்கு வைத்த போது பலரும் வந்து பார்த்து மனம் கலங்கிச் சென்றனர்.

இந்த ஓவியங்களை தியாகி முத்துக்குமார் நினைவோடு இணைத்து தமிழகம் எங்கும் பொதுமக்களின் பார்வைக்கு வைக்கவும் ஊர்வலமாக எடுத்துச் செல்லவும் ஏற்பாடுகள் செய்யப்படும் என தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

தூரிகைப் போராட்டத்தில் கலந்து கொண்டவர்களை வாழ்த்தி உரையாற்றிய போது திரைப்பட பாடலாசிரியர் தாமரை தெரிவித்துள்ளதாவது:

"இவ்வளவு எதிர்ப்புக்கள் இருந்தும் இன்னும் இந்தப் போரை இலங்கை பேரினவாதிகள் நடத்துகிறார்கள் என்றால் அது இந்தியா கொடுக்கிற ஆதரவில்தான்.

இந்த லட்சணத்தில் இந்திய இறையாண்மை தொடர்பாக வாய் கிழியப் பேசுகிறார்கள் இவர்கள். இந்திய இறையாண்மைக்கு மத்தியில் ஆளும் காங்கிரஸ் அரசு வேட்டு வைக்கின்றது அதுதான் உண்மை.





வன்னியில் இரண்டு லட்சம் மக்கள் இருக்கிறார்கள் என்று சொன்ன பேரினவாதிகள் இப்போது எழுபதாயிரம் மக்கள் மட்டுமே இருப்பதாகச் சொல்கிறார்கள். அப்படி என்றால் ஒரு லட்சம் மக்களை குண்டு வீசிக் கொல்லத் திட்டமிட்டிருக்கிறர்கள் என்று தானே பொருள்.

தமிழக மக்களுக்கு பதில் சொல்லும் காலம் இன்று வந்திருக்கிறது. ராஜீவ் கொலையால் 18 ஆண்டு காலம் நம்மை தண்டித்தார்கள். இதே 18 ஆண்டு காலம் நாம் காங்கிரசை தண்டிக்க வேண்டும். அதற்கான துருப்புச் சீட்டுதான் இப்போது நம்மிடம் இருக்கிறது" என்று உணர்வுபூர்வமாக உரையாற்றினார் கவிஞர் தாமரை.

கருத்துரிமைக் களத்தின் அமைப்பாளரும் திரைப்பட இயக்குநருமான புகழேந்தி கலந்து கொண்டு உணர்வுகளை வெளிப்படுத்திய ஓவியர்களுக்கு நன்றி தெரிவித்தார்.











Thursday, April 16, 2009

Public Order Act: A nervous Government lashes out

Singapore Democrats

The enactment of the Public Order Act signals the Government's desperation to ensure that that any popular dissension to its rule is snuffed out.

As the economy bites in and the PAP finds itself barren of solutions for the future, it is acutely aware that the people's disenchantment with its rule is on the rise.

Things will not be the same from here on out -- and the Government knows it. Even if the US economy recovers (on which our economy is highly dependent), we are not going to be able to sell to America like we have been all these decades.


Singapore's economy is undergoing a fundamental shift and things will be much tougher from here on out. Singaporeans are increasingly questioning the one-party state and will want more freedom and democracy for the country.

Knowing that it will have difficulty in distracting the people by continuing to promise them yet more materialistic gains, the Government is turning to outright suppression.

The Public Order Act is a naked attempt to completely remove the people's right to peaceful assembly -- yes, even if it's an assembly of one person. One would be hard-pressed to name a country that does not even allow one person to show his dissent in public. Have we sunk into the league of the North Koreas and Burmas?

The level of fear demonstrated by this Government would be amusing if the matter was not so serious. With this Act the PAP has completely stripped off its mask of democracy and exposed, beneath it, the hideous face of dictatorship.

To plug the last loophole, the regime is now moving to change the voting process by using computers to record and count votes. Such a move severely, if not fatally, compromises the integrity and security of the electoral system. It opens the doors to election fraud.

This two-pronged gambit of introducing the Public Order Act and electronic voting will kill off politics and political competition in Singapore.

It is also a signal that the Government is ill-at-ease with itself and with the people it rules. It is a nervous beast, and nervous beasts lash out at anything it perceives as a threat. Confident rulers seek the mandate of the people, nervous ones crush them.

A new darkness has descended upon Singapore. But if the PAP rejoices in this, it will be too soon. For Mahatma Gandhi once warned: "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall. Think of it -- always."

Related reading:
Singapore passes new Public Order Act (SGpolitics.net)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why the 'Speak Mandarin', 'Appreciate Chinese Culture' Campaign in Singapore is a monumental mistake

Source: Ed'sperience's Blog


Well, the government has started yet another push to elevate Chinese culture again over all ‘others’. The ‘Speak Mandarin’ and a ‘new nationwide initiative to deepen the appreciation of Chinese culture and increase the competency level of communication in Mandarin. The Chinese Challenge will begin on 30 March 2009.’ source

My question is, as it has always been, where does it leave the Malays and Indians? Why is it that one culture and language is promoted over others in such a blatant fashion? And it is most ironic that whilst their promotional video shows an African child, amongst others, speaking mandarin, Malays and Indians are forbidden to study the language in this country.

Basically, what this does is to elevate the value of one culture over others. The advertisements illustrate the global appreciation of Chinese language and culture. Those whom are Chinese in appearance, if exposed to this from youth, will tend to identify with the culture and learn to be Chinese and be proud of it given the exposure it receives over all ‘others’. It is sociologically and psychologically verifiable that the promotion of one culture over another will tend to render its practitioners or those whom identify with it to take what I term ‘counterpositional relative pride’ in it. That is, feeling proud of one’s culture and looking down on others since the others are not given such exposure. And this is further exacerbated by promotional videos such as the above that tends to present Chinese culture and language as being lauded the world over. In the past it was promoted as preferable and an 'advantage' over other local cultures. Now, it is promoted as laudable on a global scale. Not only will this induce cultural arrogance and enhance the feelings of self-efficacy amongst those identified as 'chinese', but it will induce the inverse amongst local 'others'. Anyway, what is singapore doing promoting Mandarin on a global stage and not others? Yet another attempt to render 'Singapore' synonymous with 'Chinese' perhaps? But, as always, it is not those who promote such campaigns that I take issue with, but the masses who fail to see anything amiss in such culturally vainglorious promotion. Shame on them.


If I was Prime Minister,

I would give equal prominence to ALL cultures despite the numbers of any population. Why?

Firstly, when we give all cultures prominence, their practitioners and those who identify with the culture will have their sense of personal and cultural self-efficacy enhanced. When this happens equitably, they will develop their cultural propensities even further and contribute the fruits of such development to the collective pool.

Secondly, we will enhance what I term, ‘collaborative non-counterpositional cultural pride’. That is, all races will view their own and the cultures of others as equals and hence value each other’s cultural perspectives and contribution. (right now, the Chinese, culturalised to be Chinese, tend to view Indians as people who talk too much, ask too many questions, and not unquestioningly do as they’re told. The critical faculty of the entire population is thus severely compromised.)

I would encourage the Chinese to study Tamil and Malay; the Malays to study Mandarin and Tamil; and the Indians to study Malay and Mandarin. Why?

Very simple actually.

Firstly,
people are generally more careful with culturally dissimilar others in business, amongst others, than similar others. For instance, the Chinese in China may be less culturally imposing toward non-Chinese from other countries than diasporic (derived from the word Diaspora) Chinese. Indians from India and Chinese from China may tend to view as inferior diasporic peoples since both nations are the ‘motherlands’.

Secondly, when a person of one ‘race’ encounters one from another race who speaks their language, they tend to feel gratified and become more amiable toward the other as a person. This is not the case when one encounters one of the same ‘race’ as cultural norms are imposed. Put this together in a situation between a ‘mainland’ Chinese in China and a diasporic Chinese, expectations and impositions are increased manifold. I’ve personally enjoyed positive reactions all my life with Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese and, especially, Chinese from China, when I speak Mandarin. I tend to get more favours and got things done quickly at work in the past.

Let me give you an example. In my late teens (2 decades ago), I worked for a short time as a labourer. One time, I had to deliver a heavy wheel-like item which had cables running around it. I approached the Chinese contractor at a construction site and told him in English that I was there to deliver it and where I ought to put it. He just nodded to a particular location up a slope. Then I broke out in Mandarin and asked him if he wanted it to be placed there at that moment. He immediately looked at me in surprise and said, ‘Wah, ni huay chiang hua yi ah?!’(wow! You know how to speak mandarin?!”). He immediately told me to stand aside and called his workers to do the job for me. In another situation, a Chinese boss had me promoted as a supervisor after 3 days of work due to my ability to speak Mandarin. I’m also popular with most of the China girls who serve drinks at the neighbourhood coffeeshop and get exceptional service. This was also the case when I was working for ‘Yellow Pages’ a decade ago. I was the pet of the Chinese female staff and this helped in getting things done quickly. Dealing with debtors on the phone, when they discovered that I was Indian, or when they came down to the office in a confrontational attitude, they would always tone down and be more amiable toward me when I broke out in Mandarin. Speaking Mandarin is not an advantage, but speaking it when you’re not Chinese is.

The lesson here is simple. Speaking any language is an advantage when you’re not supposed to be able to speak it.

Thirdly,
locally, when people learn to speak each other’s languages, not only does mutual validation and consideration take place; not only are people brought together despite ‘race’; but it will certainly help to forge a bond that will, over time, lead to a singular Singaporean identity that is not synonymous with just one race.

Finally,
being of one culture and being most open to other cultures – especially when one is not taught to discount other cultures by undue prominence being given to one over another – will develop in the individual what I term, multiangular thought. That is, we’ll bring to bear an arsenal of different perspectives in the appreciation and analysis of any phenomena. We will become acutely cognizant of detail; the tendency to discount information will decrease as we will have the trained propensity to ignore or discount that which is new weeded out of us; and we will tend to become more innovative, critical and inventive.

As I've said in other articles, to marginalise one race is to compromise the potentials of ALL. For the myriad perspectives that may be garnered from the development of ALL can never be compensated for by the development of just one. Sisters and brothers, let me tell you what the struggle for equality is all about. It is not the struggle for the elevation of the marginalised, but the struggle for the perspectival progress of all. For it is not the numbers of a people that matter, but the potential of even a single individual of another culture to add exponential value to the perspectives of all. The = symbol in a lengthy equation may just be 1 symbol amongst many. But without it, we will never have a conclusion that in turn serves as a stepping stone to further formulae.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Singaporeans can kiss elections goodbye

“Please do not assume that you can change governments. Young people don’t understand this”
- Lee Kuan Yew on the results of the 2006 election

Singapore Democrats


The SDP has been hoping that it will not come to pass. But it has. Singapore is set to purchase electronic voting machines from India. (See here). We might as well kiss elections goodbye. This is no melodrama and it is certainly no exaggeration. Here's why:

Years ago, the PAP Government was already toying with the idea using Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines. In a nutshell, these are machines that require voters to cast their ballots through touch-screen or push-button technology. The vote is then electronically recorded and tallied.

We don't have to spell it out for you how such a process is open to electronic tampering and rigging.

A New York Times editorial in October 2008 noted: "In the early days of electronic voting, critics who warned that it was unreliable were dismissed as alarmist. Now it seems that hardly an election goes by without reports of serious vulnerabilities or malfunctions."

CIA electronics expert Mr Steven Stigall warned that "wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen."

World renowned computer security and voting specialist, Dr Rebecca Mercuri, writes: "It is my strong recommendation that all election officials REFRAIN from procuring ANY system that does not provide an indisputable, voter verified paper ballot." (emphasis hers)

And all these are warnings in, and to, a democratic system like the US. Imagine the situation in Singapore.

In the days and weeks ahead, this website will publish more analysis of DRE systems and how vulnerable they are to manipulation. Only an idiot will believe that such systems can be made tamper-proof. And yes, we are talking about stand-alone machines, not Internet systems susceptible to hackers.

We will also analyse more about the PAP's proposed system for Singapore and draw attention to ways that the election system is further endangered.

The Singapore Democrats will make this prediction: When the machines are first introduced, the opposition will make electoral gains. A couple of constituencies may fall to the opposition. The electorate will be encouraged that the electronic voting system is trustworthy. The media will make sure of this. (What better to convince the people than by letting the opposition win a couple more seats?)

When the people have been sufficiently disarmed and the sugar-coated poison has been completely swallowed, the PAP will never have to worry about elections again. Ever.

Already, questions about the present system abound. Even without electronic voting, the system is already stacked against the opposition: No independent election commission, no free media, initimidating voters through HDB upgrading, buying votes through shares, introducing the GRC system, and so on.

With the advent of the computer voting machines, we can forget about debates over issues like gerrymandering or the GRC system or the granting of citizenship to immigrants as tactics the PAP uses to win elections.

None of these will matter anymore.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The world according to Kishore Mahbubani

Source: Blowin' In The Wind

The New Asian Hemisphere by Kishore Mahbubani

Kishore-Mahbubani There is a difference between Western and Asian notions of the rule of law, according to Kishore Mahbubani, who served as Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations and is now dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He writes in The New Asian Hemisphere, published last year:

The Western notion of the rule of law, in which all human beings are to be treated equally under the law and all citizens subject to the same laws, goes against the grain in Asian minds. Most Asians throughout the ages have assumed that the ruling classes, especially members of royal families and the aristocracy, stand above the law. Indeed, in the minds of the ruling classes, the only function of the law was to enable them to discipline their subjects.

In traditional Chinese legal thought, the law was only a tool through which the government ruled the governed.

But China has started implementing Western-style rule of law since the 1982 Constitution, writes Mahbubani.

Book full of praise for China

Asia is becoming more like the West in its “March to Modernity”, he adds, but instead of welcoming this growing similarity, the West is trying to continue to dominate the world. But it can’t, says Mahbubani. The subtitle of his book is The Irresistible Shift Of Global Power To The East.

Ostensibly a book about the rise of Asia – there is quite a bit favourable to India – it is a long litany of complaints against America and a eulogy to China. While America is criticized on various issues from the Iraq war to the torture of prisoners, there is just one reference to Taiwan and none to Tibet; I checked the index.

Money=Merit

One can understand Mahbubani’s admiration for China, which is growing in both wealth and power.

For he seems to equate money with merit.

The Singapore civil service is the most meritocratic in the world, he says. But he mentions none of its achievements, only that its head can earn much more than the American president. Mahbubani writes:

The most meritocratic civil service in the world today is not found in any Western country but Singapore. The elite civil service ranks are filled by Administrative Service Officers (AOs). To get the best to serve as AOs, the Singapore government tries to pay the most senior AOs as much as the private sector. Under the new pay scales announced by the government in April 2007, the head of the civil service can earn as much as US$1.5 million a year, more than the American president (US$400,000 a year) and the British prime minister (US$350,717 a year) combined. It’s a small price to pay if a country wants to progress and succeed in a far more competitive environment.

There is a lot of useful data in this book. Mahbubani writes knowledgeably about the United Nations and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), of which Singapore is a member.

The power of Western media

But when he talks about the domination of the Western media, he should have asked himself who made it so. The fact is Asians read Western publications such as Time, Newsweek and the Economist and Asian newspapers use Western news agencies like Reuters and Bloomberg because Asian media coverage is either inadequate or not sufficiently informative.

Why, Mahbubani himself is more likely to contribute to Western publications such as Newsweek and the Economist – where he recently took part in an online debate and lost – than to the Straits Times in Singapore.

East and West

Mahbubani sees what he calls “the irresistible shift of global power to the East” as a reversion to the old order of things. Asia was far richer than the West until the early 19th century, he writes:

In the year 1000 CE, Western Europe’s share of global GDP was 8.5 percent. Asia’s, in contrast, was 70.3 percent. The balance began to shift with the Industrial Revolution. In 1820, Western Europe’s share had grown to 23.6 percent, while Asia’s had shrunk to 59.2 percent.

But what did Asia do with those riches? Where were the Asian Gutenbergs, Leonardo da Vincis, Shakespeares, Galileos?

Why did democracy develop in the West while despotism seemed to be the rule in the East?

Maybe those questions are for others to answer.

Mahbubani's focus is on power and prosperity.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Parameswara's Weekly Round-Up (29 March to 4 April 09)

Hi everyone, Parameswara here again on Seelan Palay's blog.

Even without the current financial tsunami which is affecting a lot of people, Singaporeans are kept busy. Some are holding two jobs, some three, while some have no jobs and try to survive whichever way they can, to feed themselves and/or their families.

As a result, many have lost track or are not in touch with what has been happening in Singapore, especially for those who have to hold two or three jobs to survive.

Parameswara will try to keep them updated through this blog as often as possible, and if possible on a weekly basis, unless I have to work extra long hours and maybe be made to be late in the posting.

Parameswara will sometimes add his comments on what is happening, readers may agree or disagree with the comments - but that’s what democracy is about. Readers are most welcome to add their comments too, so we can all learn and grow together. Let’s look at some of the headlines:

The 10 highest paid politicians in the world
1 April 2009 – Promotional Codes UK


1. Lee Hsien Loong - Singapore

Salary in dollars - $2.47 million

Salary in local currency - S$3.76 million

Parameswara (P): I think almost everybody will agree that the top news not welcome by Singaporeans is that LSL is the highest paid politician in the world.

Imagine a walloping – us$2.47 million or Sing$3.76 million a year. What the heck, that’s S$10, 301, 13/ per day, and that is not including bonuses, allowances, pensions. How many Singaporeans will ever in their lifetime ever smell this type of salary and let’s not even include the bonuses etc.

I remember many years ago David Marshall, Singapore’s first chief minister remarked “what are you going to do with all these monies”. Or something to that effect. He was of course referring to our ministers salaries.

For some who maybe be curious, why LHL is not in the pic, that’s because, this pic was taken during the G20 meeting, and Singapore was not invited, because G20 is for the top biggest economic nations in the world, and Singapore is too small.

The publication of LHL salary by the Times, prompted Singapore’s own bloggers’ brigade to react. Here are some of their postings:

My SingaporeNews, 3 April 2009 - On this small island lives the 30 best-paid politicians in the world, comments a blogger

The Wayang Party, 3 April 2009 - CORRECTION: The 10 highest paid politicians in the world are...

The list compiled is wrong unless the title is changed to "The 10 highest paid leaders in the world". Here's our corrected version of "The 10 highest paid politicians in the world":

Who are the 10 best paid politicians in the world?
2 April 2009 - SDP

Our Singapore ministers, of course!

For the record, the current Singapore’s ministers’ salaries are as follows;
(note: salaries quoted are an estimate only)
1. S R Nathan- Singapore Salary - S$3.1 million
2. Lee Hsien Loong – Singapore Salary - S$3.00 million
3. Lee Kuan Yew – Singapore Salary - S$3.00 million
4. Goh Chok Tong – Singapore Salary - S$3.00 million
5. S Jayakumar – Singapore Salary - S$3.00 million
6. Wong Kan Seng – Singapore Salary - S$2.5 million
7. Teo Chee Hean – Singapore Salary - S$2.50 million
8. Tharman Shanmugartan – Singapore Salary - S$1.50 million
9. K Shanmugan – Singapore Salary - S$1.50 million
10. Khaw Boon Wan – Singapore Salary - S$1.50 million

Do you think they are worth this much?

Let’s now see other headlines for the week in chronological order, along with my comments.

Executive hiring in Asia deteriorates - survey, 2 April 2009, Reuters

P: ..The survey covers four markets -- Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China (Beijing and Shanghai) -- all of which have seen exports plunge in recent as key markets in the West fell into recession.

Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are in recession and analysts say they are unlikely to rebound until the U.S. economy shows signs of recovery

Hiring expectations in Singapore, already low, fell less sharply than in previous quarters as 20 percent of employers said they would add staff, compared with 23 percent in the previous survey. However, 19 percent of respondents said they would reduce headcount, up from 12 percent in the previous survey.

What happened to all our planning ahead by the best brains in the country?

Travel agents’ boycott hits Singapore Airlines, 2 April 2009, MDFC

P: Top airline in the world…what happened?

StarHub wins Singapore broadband network bid, 3 April 2009, ST

P: Starhub wins? From who ?

China secures Myanmar energy route, 3 April 2009, Asia Times

P: What are our ministers’ answer to this ?...Not only will the oil from middle east and Burma flow directly to china from Burma, tankers do not have to come to Singapore anymore. Psa, bunkering and associated services will also be lost.

OECD names and shames tax havens, 3 April 2009, AFP

P: It listed another 38 territories as those that "have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard, but have not yet substantially implemented" the measures.

They included: Belgium, Brunei, Chile, the Dutch Antilles, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Singapore, Switzerland and Caribbean island nations including the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

…so Singapore is a Tax Haven after all…does this means more business will be lost, after having our reputation now tarnished ?

American Club warns of Singapore collision dangers, 3 April 2009, Marinelog News

P: The American P&I Club has alerted members of the collision dangers that laid-up ships can present to vessels sailing through, or anchoring in, the territorial waters of Singapore, including the eastern and western outer port limit (OPL) anchorages.

Efficient Singapore.

Virgin brides off the shelf, April 4 2009, The Star

P: Its reputation as a stable, affluent society and the close affinity in culture, skin colour and food has made Singapore a special choice of Vietnamese women.

MOVE OVER, China ladies; hello, Vietnam! In their dependency on foreign brides to correct a marriage imbalance, more Singaporean men are turning to Vietnamese women in recent years.

But this growing marriage bond has become mired in controversy and charges of exploitation that are earning Singapore’s image a black eye.

For years, the city-state has gone on a global binge on almost everything in life, including the institution of marriage.

Looks like our SDU didn’t work.

Singapore Airlines threatens to withdraw ticketing rights, 4 April 2009, Live Mint

P: Singapore Airlines had earlier said it will not pay any commission on tickets sold and agents should charge a transaction fee from customers.

Mumbai/Pune: The stand-off between India’s travel agents and Singapore Airlines Ltd has taken a new turn with the carrier threatening to withdraw ticketing rights.

SIA thinks it is Singapore.

Sentosa dream gets hazy, 6 April 2009, The Malaysia Insider

P: Remember all the hype…the Caribbean of the east…not forgetting...the Switzerland of the east too.

There you have it, the week that was. Hope you have been enlightened. See you at the next round up.

PARAMESWARA

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Son of Singapore's late opposition icon enters politics

10 April 2009, AFP

A son of Singapore's late opposition icon J B Jeyaretnam said today he had joined his father's pro-democracy party and may run for parliament in the next general elections.

British-trained economist Kenneth Jeyaretnam, 50, told AFP he had been approached to join other parties but decided going with the Reform Party was the right thing to do.

"This is examining my conscience. I should go with the Reform Party because it was set up by my father," Jeyaretnam said.

"I want to honour what he stood for, everything that he said, but I will be my own man,"he said.

Jeyaretnam's father, who died in September last year from a heart attack aged 82, suffered jail stints and libel suits in his lonely battle for greater political freedom in the wealthy city-state.

"My message to Singaporeans out there is don't be afraid,"said Jeyaretnam.

"I want to show that competition is vital in politics as it is in business, so it's not to be feared but to be embraced,"he said.

Related reports:
'Kenneth Jeyaretnam can bring much needed economics expertise to Reform Party'
JBJ’s son Kenneth joins Reform Party to keep his legacy alive
TOC Interview: Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s debut

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Nation Cheated warned about the S'pore model

Singapore Democrats
Wednesday, 08 April 2009

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that Singapore's “export-led economy is falling on its face” with the onset of the global financial crisis. The newspaper added that our economy would be more resilient if it were better balanced and this could be achieved by trimming back GLCs and allowing the domestic private economy to grow.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admitted as much in an interview where he acknowledged that Singapore might have to rethink its export-led growth strategy.


Way before the problem became dire, Dr Chee Soon Juan had already been warning that Singapore's over-reliance on foreign multinational companies to manufacture goods to be re-exported may not be sustainable.

In Dare To Change published in 1994, he wrote: “Have we become overly reliant on the MNCs and foreign capital?...For the long-term well-being of the economy, Singapore must pay more attention to its private sector." This idea was expanded in his latest publication A Nation Cheated, which continues to sell briskly at Kinokuniya and Select Books. The bookstores have placed yet another order despite the recession.

Perhaps, with the downturn, Singaporeans are waking up to the idea that things may not be quite the way the PAP has been telling them all these years. The excerpt below reveals how backward the PAP Government has been:

The truth of the matter is that Singapore cannot, or does not know how to, break free of its dependence on foreign investment. Analysts Walden Bello and Stephanie Rosenfeld summed up:

'Despite its seeming prosperity, Singapore in 1990 is trapped in the treadmill of the export-oriented economics that it once so enthusiastically embraced. Having so completely open itself up to the world market and the multinationals with the illusion that it could influence the former and manipulate the latter, the PAP technocrats now see that their policies have reduced Singapore's economy to a mere service economy, the fate of which is totally dependent on the calculations and whims of the multi-nationals.'

Singapore's reliance on MNCs has remained deep. The attempts made by the government to "restructure" the economy served only to attract a different category of industries to the country and did little to lessen the economy's dependence on external investments.

Even in 2001, economic analysts still point out that Singapore's problems are caused by its heavy dependence on foreign capital, because "strong competition for FDI [foreign direct investment] has mounted, with cheaper centres in the region already drawing away investments from Singapore."

The convenience of constructing an instant economy fed largely on foreign capital may have served the PAP's interests well. Whether this strategy has helped the welfare of workers, however, remains another matter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

China not following Singapore model: Bill Emmott

Source: Blowin' In The Wind

Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says China is learning from Singapore. “When you see Shanghai greening up like Singapore, you know they have studied us,” he told the National University of Singapore Society yesterday.

But former Economist editor Bill Emmott takes a different view. Little Singapore cannot be a model for a vast country like China, he says in his book, Rivals: How The Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade, published last year.

Discussing how the Chinese Communist Party could introduce “some form of democracy” and still retain power, he turns to Singapore.

Singapore’s ruling "People’s Action Party has won all the elections held since 1959 by a landslide", he says, just as the Communists have ruled China since 1949 – but there are differences, he adds:

But a city state of just 4.4 million people can hardly be a model for a China of 1.3 billion people, and Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father both of Singapore and the PAP, also does not fit the Communist Party’s current pattern: he has founded a political dynasty, with his son now as prime minister, which the Chinese party has shown no signs of doing.

The better model is probably to China’s northeast, in the land of its traditional enemy, Japan...

After a few hiccups in the early 1950s, Japan was a one-party state from 1953 until 1993, when the Liberal Democratic Party briefly lost power.

A decade and a half later, despite wrenching economic times, the LDP is still in power. It is quite impressive, really.

Bill Emmott's book at Harcourt Publishers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Travel agents claim SQ is losing US$1 million a day in standoff

Tuesday, 07 April 2009
e-Travel Blackboard

Indian travel agent associations are claiming that Singapore Airlines is currently losing some US$1 million a day in the current stalemate on zero commissions, despite some agencies still selling their tickets.

One of the associations participating in the boycott against the airline, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has said publicly that it estimates that Singapore has lost INR5 billion (US$100 million) since the standoff began three months ago.

“They managed to sell some tickets because of certain blacksheep in the industry who continue to sell the carrier’s tickets for zero commission,” Harkripal Singh, TAAI spokesperson was quoted as saying in the local paper Financial Chronicle.

“The losses will increase if the agitation continues,” he warns.

The six associations of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI), Association of Domestic Tour Operators in India (ADTOI), Enterprising Travel Association of India (ETAA), and TAAI, have boycotted Singapore Airlines since the end of December last year.

From the end of January this year, the associations pledged that they would stop promoting Singapore as a travel destination in order to pressure the government to act on Singapore Airlines.

The moves to boycott Singapore Airlines sales came after a three week boycott of domestic carrier Jet Airways for its zero commission policy, which resulted in the reinstatement of a 3% commission rate for agents.

Singapore Airlines has only offered a 1% commission for Indian agents, but there is a time restriction of 6 months, after which it would revert back to the zero commission level.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hindraf duo and 11 others set free

Malaysiakini.com, April 5 2009

Two Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders V Ganabatirau and R Kenghadharan were today released from the Kamunting Detention Camp in Perak at about 1.20pm.

They were immediately met by their families and driven back home in police patrol cars, which followed cars belonging to their respective family members in a convoy to Kuala Lumpur.

The duo were among five Hindraf leaders held in detention for 15 months after organising a mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur in 2007, accusing the government of marginalising the Indian community in the country.

They were detained under the Internal Security Act - which provides for detention without trial - in late December 2007.

"This is the moment that the whole family is waiting for but I hope the new prime minister will hear the Indian community's plea to release the three others Hindraf leaders as well," Ganabatirau's brother, V Papparaidu, told AFP.

A Kannappan, a 56-year-old businessman who managed to shake hands with the Hindraf duo outside the detention centre as they left, said they "look healthy and were smiling".

Another eight detainees were released including one from Jemaah Islamiah and six from Darul Islam Sabah.

Earlier, at about 10.45am, three foreigners were also released and were taken away in an Immigration Department vehicle.

Kenghadharan, on reaching his Kelana Jaya condominium at 1.20pm, immediately hugged his son and was greeted by family members and friends (right).

Free the other three, Najib urged

He thanked Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for his release but urged the new premier to also free his Hindraf colleagues - P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan and T Vasanthakumar - who are still incarcerated in Kamunting.“I appeal to the PM to release the other three Hindraf members soon. Set them free for they have suffered enough.”He stressed that the ISA should be abolished and all detainees set free.

According to Kenghadharan, he would return to his legal practise and continue his effort to “create a better Malaysia”.His wife, M Kalaiwany, had earlier gone to the Kamunting Detention Centre at 10.30am where an officer confirmed that Kenghadharan would be out soon. Kalaiwany said Kenghadharan emerged from the camp at 1.30pm, and they both return to Kuala Lumpur in two separate cars.On reaching the Subang Jaya toll booth, her husband’s car “suddenly disappeared” and she got a little worried.However, Kalaiwany later found out that Kenghaharan was driven to the police station to complete some paper work before he was escorted home by the police.It is learnt that the two detainees were released with a number of conditions.

Meanwhile, Ganabatirau was also mobbed by family members and well-wishers on returning to his home in Shah Alam this afternoon.

Former PM lauds move

On Friday, Najib in his first address to the nation as prime minister announced that the 13 ISA detainess would be released.

He also pledged to conduct a comprehensive review of the draconian legislation.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi lauded his successor’s move to release the 13."It is good decision. A good move. I am sure the time has come for them to be released, so he released them," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Rights group have welcomed the move, but urged the government to free the remaining 27 people, mainly suspected Islamic militants, held under the ISA or charge them in court.

"There are people who have been held more than seven years without trial and most of them were facing the same kind of allegations as those who were released today," said Abolish ISA Movement spokesman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Travel agents’ boycott hits Singapore Airlines

Parul Chhaparia
Financial Chronicle


Airline has lost Rs 500cr in the past 94 days, says TAAI

The tussle between Singapore Airlines and travel agents on the issue of commission has cost Rs 500 crore to the largest foreign airline operating from India.

According to the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), the airline has lost Rs 500 crore in the past 94 days since travel agents decided to boycott it after a zero-commission regime was proposed. “They managed to sell some tickets because of certain blacksheep in the industry who continue to sell the carrier’s tickets for zero commission. The losses will increase if the agitation continues,” Harkripal Singh, chief representative of TAAI told Financial Chronicle.

While industry sources said that the loss figures may not be realistic, the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) supported TAAI’s views. “The loss is possible for the simple reason that travel agents sell about 85 per cent tickets of the airline. So, even if some agents are still selling Singapore Airlines tickets, it still amounts to a huge loss for the company,” Vasuki Sundaram, secretary (western region), TAFI said.

The ongoing war between the travel agents and the airlines started when the airlines proposed a zero-commission regime. Travel agents, who were getting a 5 per cent commission on the sale of each ticket, refused to accept the move saying that it will put them out of business.

Even as the travel associations held a meeting on Thursday to take decisions, they said there was no possibility of withdrawing the agitation. “We will not withdraw until the airline stops victimising us. We are asking for our share as their distributors,” said Sundaram, who attended the meeting.

Singapore Airlines, however, seemed undisturbed by any such move. The airline said that it was committed and open to continuing the dialogue process with the travel agents to work toward a mutually beneficial solution. “Various meetings have been held to resolve the situation, with the most recent one on March 16, where we put forth a proposal incorporating feedback from agents. The associations, however, persist in adopting tactics that are not in the spirit of cooperation and dialogue,” CW Foo, general manager (India), Singapore Airlines said.

Singapore Airlines flies to eight destinations in India. The tussle with travel agents has come as an additional burden on the carrier, which has been struggling with its passenger traffic across the globe. The airline registered a 20.2 per cent decline in the number of passengers carried during February 2009, against the same month last year. In January, too, the total number of passengers it carried was down by 10.4 per cent compared with corresponding month last year.