Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lee Kuan Yew, apologise unreservedly to this nation and its people

Mr Lee, apologise
Source: Singapore Democrats

Mr Lee Kuan Yew says that if Singaporeans fall behind to foreigners in our own society, we have only ourselves to blame. The remark is contemptible. The Singapore Democrats call on Mr Lee to apologise unreservedly to this nation and its people.

Does Mr Lee not know that Singaporeans have been slogging all these years just so that his Government can brag about GDP growth and his ministers can use it as an excuse to add all those zeroes to their salaries?

Does he not know that it was his draconian Stop-At-Two policy that caused the precipitous drop in the population’s birthrate so much so that we cannot reproduce fast enough to replace ourselves?

Does he not know that it is the stifling political climate, including his Chinese-learning policy, that has caused, and is still causing, the exodus of Singaporeans?

Does he not know that Singaporeans cannot survive on the low wages that foreign workers can?

Of course, he does. The salient question is: Does he care? With no one around him honest enough to tell him that he is wrong and with the election system and the media under his control, why should Mr Lee bother with what the people think?

The reality, if Singaporeans haven’t figured it out already, is that Mr Lee, and more importantly the PAP, cannot be held accountable. The party says and does as it pleases.

There is no mistaking that the foreign talent policy is here to stay, no matter how much it hurts the economy, society and, most of all, the people who have worked and sacrificed so much to make Singapore what it is today.

If it takes sacrificing the standard of living of Singaporeans at the hands of foreigners just to inflate the GDP by a few more percentage points, then Mr Lee and his ministers will do it for the PAP’s sake.

But this is not news. We have long ago traded our political rights for economic gain. Now that we have lost the former, we don’t have leverage over the PAP to protect the latter. We issued the cheque blank, now the PAP is cashing it in.

Importantly, does Mr Lee Hsien Loong agree with his father? If yes, he should come out and say it. If no, he must refute and admonish the MM. After all, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a minister in his cabinet – Mentor or not. The Prime Minister is still the Prime Minister – son or not.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

Over time, the MM says, Singaporeans have become “less hard-driving and hard-striving.” This is why it is a good thing, the MM says, that the nation has welcomed so many Chinese immigrants (25 percent of the population is now foreign-born). He is aware that many Singaporeans are unhappy with the influx of immigrants, especially those educated newcomers prepared to fight for higher paying jobs. But taking a typically Darwinian stance, the MM describes the country’s new subjects as “hungry,” with parents who “pushed the children very hard.” If native Singaporeans are falling behind because “the spurs are not stuck into the hide,” that is their problem. – Excerpt from the National Geographic Magazine article


Also read:
From PAP to Singaporeans: "You die, your business!" (Temasek Review)
MM Lee’s interview with NatGeo – transcript (The Online Citizen)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bloggers are urged to reproduce 'Complaint against TOC made to S’pore Police'

Seelan: The following letter was sent to the Singapore Police Force complaining against The Online Citizen for 'publicly defaming our leaders'. I reproduce the letter on my blog and urge other bloggers to do the same. Is Ms Janet Wee going to report on all of us?

Complaint against TOC made to S’pore Police
Monday, 28 December 2009, 12:36 pm | 2,910 views

The following is an email by a certain “Janet Wee’ which was sent to the Singapore Police Force and copied to The Online Citizen. Her email is also addressed to several other people, including MM Lee Kuan Yew, the Attorney-General, Mr Jeremy Au Yeong of the Straits Times, Google, among others.

We publish Ms Wee’s email in full here without edit.

Hi Singapore Police Force,

I will like to bring to your attention a seditious article by a well-known anti-government blog – The Online Citizen published yesterday which was aggregated on Google News:

http://theonlinecitizen.com/2009/12/lee-kuan-yew-had-suggested-instigating-riots-and-disorder-to-crush-opposition/

The title of the article is: “Lee Kuan Yew had suggested “instigating riots and disorder” to crush
opposition”

The article contains seditious remarks about Mr Lee which are unproven and accuse Mr Lee of creating social unrest in Singapore in order to achieve his political motives.

As Google News has a wide readership, the damage done to Mr Lee’s image and reputation is great.

I have already written to Google News to take down the article, but they have refused to do so. Hence I have no choice but to lodge a complaint to you.

The Online Citizen is hosted by a web server company in Utah, Bluehost.com. You can write in to them to take down the site for infringing the terms of service.

The Managing Editor of The Online Citizen is Mr Leong Sze Hian, a Financial advisor known to be very critical of the Singapore government. Another opposition leader involved are Mr Tan Kin Lian and
Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party.

Please investigate the matter as we cannot allow our leaders to be defamed publicly by these bloggers.

This email has been forwarded to Mr Lee and the AG Chambers for their attention.

Yours Sincerely,

Janet Wee

Souce: http://theonlinecitizen.com/2009/12/complaint-against-toc-made-to-spore-police

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

SDP's Christmas Message 2009

Source: Singapore Democrats

Assistant Secretary-General John Tan gives the SDP's Christmas message. Mr Tan was a Bible scholar and a missionary intern. He is currently a social psychologist.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

“Milder but more credible”…for whom? (My response to an article on the WP Youth Wing)

My letter as featured on The Online Citizen.

Seelan Palay

A lead article on The Online Citizen portal a couple of days ago described the Youth Wing of the Workers’ Party as “milder but more credible”. But what this headline means has become a subject of controversy, going by the comments that the article has attracted.

However, my focus is on something else.

The first two paragraphs of the write-up are an unbridled attack on WP’s former secretary-general, the late Mr J B Jeyaretnam who had led the party for three decades until 2001.

The late JBJ, as he was popularly known, was accused of “unrestrained election rally speeches and rambunctious attacks on the PAP government“.

This is exactly the same allegation that the ruling PAP, through its controlled media, was accusing JBJ of doing during his political life. What is most disturbing is the fact that such an allegation has found resonance, of all places in the new leadership of WP.

It was through his resolve and determination that JBJ was able to break 15 years of PAP’s total domination of Parliament by winning the Anson seat in a by-election in 1981. Again, he was elected with an increased majority in the same constituency in 1984 when all electoral wards in Singapore remained Single Member Constituencies.

Soon after, the MP for Anson was found guilty by a high court judge for “having falsified” the party accounts, together with its chairman. Both were fined and jailed, depriving JBJ of his Anson seat and thus frustrating the constituents of their elected MP. But in 1991, when he remained disqualified from contesting, JBJ worked relentlessly to make sure Mr Low Thia Khiang, an unknown WP candidate then, got elected in Hougang. If not for JBJ’s leadership of WP and his election rally speeches, the Hougang single seat would not have been won.

Despite the constant attacks from the PAP, including name calling such as “mangy dog” by Lee Kuan Yew, JBJ’s tenacity paid off in the form of a Privy Council judgment in the late 1980s when the Law Lords ruled that the MP for Anson and his co-defendant (WP chairman) were subjected to “a series of mistrials for offences which they did not commit”. The Privy Council in London was then the highest court of law of the county due to Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s insistence that an outside body provided the “litmus test” of Singapore’s judicial independence.

This damning indictment by the Privy Council sealed the fate of the so-called litmus test Lee Kuan Yew often boasted about. Soon after, appeals to Privy Council were scrapped.

And yet the WP and its Youth Wing now seem “adamant about avoiding the bevy of defamation suits suffered by its former Secretary-General“.

What an irony. Instead of blaming the perpetrators of the crime, the victim remains condemned.

I suppose that is the price one has to pay to earn the accolade “milder and more credible” from an authoritarian regime intolerant of dissent.

With this kind of opposition or alternative party, Singapore will continue to be under the PAP for another half-a-century, giving firm assurance to the obvious desire of Law Minister K Shanmugam for the ruling party to continue with the status quo.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More graduates being laid off

Seelan: I don't know whether the recession is really over, but I find this a worthwhile article to share.

Source: iseeithinkiblog

http://www.asiaone.com/a1media/business/03Mar09/images/20090330.110702_retrench.jpgThough the recession is over and the economy appears to be picking up, Singapore university graduates still find themselves at the losing end in an employer’s job market flooded with cheap and readily available foreigners.

According to revised figures from the Manpower Ministry, more of them are without jobs and taking longer to land a job. The number of unemployed graduates increase from 1,600 to 4700. Of those who are employed, a significant portion are on contract jobs.

Graduates also form more than one third of workers who are either retrenched or unemployed. The re-empolyment rates for graduates remains the lowest at 44.4 per cent.

PAP MP Josephine Teo seemed to attribute the blame to graduates during an interview with the state media when she said that “part of the reason is that they often tend to seek jobs that pay close to what they used to earn.”

The same report revealed that more residents are taking more six months to get a job. Known technically as the long-term unemployed, their numbers have ballooned from 9,600 last year to 18,400 this year.

For some strange reasons, MOM prefers to lump citizens and PRs together in the same category as “residents”. The exact figures for the unemployment rates among Singapore citizens remain a mystery.

The starting pay for graduates has remained more or less the same for the last few years while cost of living has increased, especially that of public housing.

Burdened with a hefty study loan, graduates are encountering difficulties supporting themselves and families with their meager salaries let alone start a family of their own which may account for the declining birth rates among locals.

http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIMEDIA/image/20081114/home-lss-np.jpgInstead of doing more to help them, the ruling party chose to open the flood gates to allow the influx of mid-level and semi-skilled professionals into Singapore to compete with local graduates directly for jobs.

There are no independent trade unions in Singapore to represent the interests of Singapore workers. The largest trade union is NTUC, a quasi-government organization which is headed by a PAP minister.

Neither is there a free media for workers to air their grievance. The Singapore media is tightly controlled by the ruling party via the Singapore Press Holdings, headed by a former PAP minister.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Who says that Racial Discrimination does not exist in Singapore?

Extracted from a Facebook note and another blogpost. Pictures added by Seelan Palay.

Should Section 152 Be Scrapped From The Singapore Constitution?
By Alfian Sa’at (poet, playwright & fictionist)

http://www.mfa.gov.sg/img/sections/aboutsg/pht_multi.jpgThe event was a screening of Singapore short films. During the Question & Answer session at the end, a member of the audience, a Korean man, offered an observation: ‘Despite the fact that Singapore is a multiracial country, why are the films shown tonight all in Chinese?’

His query provoked an immediate response from a lady in the audience. Before the microphone could be passed to her, she had shouted out, almost defensively, ‘Majority, what!’

There is of course a certain undeniable logic to the woman’s outburst. The Chinese are an overwhelming 75% of Singapore’s population. If there were more media representations of the Chinese than the other races in Singapore, it was a matter of simple arithmetic.

But what was the woman actually saying with that phrase? Was she peeved that this ‘foreigner’ dared to suggest that Singapore’s ‘multi-racial’ ethos was superficial, even fraudulent? At the same time, I couldn’t help but be struck by a glib sense of entitlement that accompanied her response.

*********

Recently, the Straits Times ran a feature article asking whether minorities in Singapore deserve a ‘special position’. What the article failed to recognize, however, was the ‘special position’ enjoyed by Chinese Singaporeans.

Simply put, these are the privileges that come from being members of the majority race.

http://www.reddotinc.com/images/p_mosc.jpgWhen I was younger, I used to question why local advertisements rarely featured non-Chinese faces (bank and credit card companies were notorious for projecting images of well-heeled Chinese yuppies). I wondered why TVMobile showed Chinese programmes, which only served to marginalize those of us sitting in the bus who didn’t understand the language. But I came to realize that equal representation was simply not possible in a country where one particular ethnic community formed the bulk of the target market.

It’s not simply economic supremacy that the majority enjoys, but also political hegemony. Singapore practices a form of electoral democracy, which by its definition establishes rule by a majority. Because of the HDB quota system, which mandates that the ethnic composition in each estate should mirror that of the nation as a whole, minority communities do not form any significant electoral bloc.

While areas such as Kampong Kembangan, Geylang Serai and the Southern Islands used to be Malay-dominated strongholds, this has been diluted over time. We can contrast this, for example, with the state of Pulau Pinang in Malaysia, where the Chinese actually form the majority. Ironically, the attempt to prevent certain neighborhoods from becoming Malay or Indian enclaves has actually resulted in each ward becoming a Chinese enclave.

However, it is the privilege of the majority to be exempted from accusations of forming ‘enclaves’ (or for that matter, ‘ghettoes’) in areas where they are concentrated, simply because those words are inextricably linked with minorities.

*********

http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIMEDIA/image/20090317/sg-mm.jpgThus it was with a sense of bewilderment that I read Minister Mentor’s agitated rebuttal to NMP Viswa Sadasivan’s speech in Parliament, where the latter spoke of the ideal of racial equality enshrined in our National Pledge. According to Lee, “Our Constitution states expressly that it is a duty of the Government not to treat everybody as equal.” He made particular reference to Section 152 of the Singapore Constitution, which reads as such:

‘Minorities and special position of Malays
152. —(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Government constantly to care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore.

(2) The Government shall exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language.’

The implication is that the ‘special position’ accorded to Malays in Singapore is an obstacle to true racial equality. This was Lee’s argument to supposedly bring the house ‘back to earth’ and demolish Viswa’s ‘highfalutin’ ideals. But it seems as if Lee has got the whole thing backwards.

The fact is that inequalities already exist in any society where there is a dominant ethnic majority. In other words, instead of sabotaging the idea of racial equality, this remedial clause actually tries to promote it—by recognizing that minorities do not enjoy the economic and political clout of the majority, and would require special attention and assistance. Lee has labeled Viswa’s speech as ‘false and flawed’. The same should actually be said for his rebuttal.

*********

A concrete example of this ‘remedial clause’ can be found in the television industry. In Singapore, there are dedicated channels for ethnic minorities, namely the Suria channel for Malays and Vasantham channel for Indians. It would be extremely difficult for these channels to survive on revenue from advertising alone. Not only do they suffer from lower viewership than say, Channel 8 and Channel U (the dedicated Mandarin channels), but advertisers would also recognize that the demographic profile of their viewers is hardly appealing.

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/8ItjB_E2JP8/0.jpgThus, much of the budget for programming on Suria and Vasantham is derived from television licensing fees. This is a practice commonly known as public service broadcasting, acknowledged on the website of the Media Development Authority: “These (licensing) fees are essential in helping with the production of public service programmes as they are less commercially viable and require funding support.”

Without constitutional safeguards for minorities, a multiracial country like Singapore risks sliding into majoritarianism. Sri Lanka is a prime example of a country whose tragic history is a direct result of majoritarian trends. In 1956, 8 years after Independence, the Sinhalese majority (74%) passed an act to recognize Sinhala as the only official language, effectively sidelining the Tamil minority. A new constitution enshrined Buddhism as the state religion, and pro-Sinhalese preferential policies in education and employment were instituted. The result was a protracted civil war that has claimed thousands of lives.

*********

It is enlightening to revisit the part in Viswa’s speech which addressed the tenet in the pledge which reads as “a united people, regardless of race, language or religion”:

“…We, as a society, need to address apparent contradictions and mixed signals. Examples are the issue of Malay-Muslims in the SAF, SAP schools and cultural elitism, the need for ethnic based self help groups, the need for us to maintain the current racial distribution in society, and whether Singapore is ready for an ethnic minority Prime Minister.”

With the exception of ‘ethnic based self-help groups’, all the examples he listed represented the dangers of majoritarian impulses in Singapore. And out of this entire list, the Minister Mentor, in his rebuttal, chose only to respond to the issue of—ethnic based self-help groups.

Lee’s explication of the second part of Section 152 is similarly notable for its selective omissions. Lily Zubaidah’s ‘The Singapore Dilemma’ provides an excellent analysis on the Singapore government’s ‘minimalist’, rather than ‘interventionist’ approach to Section 152. While the section calls for the government to exercise pro-active measures with regards to the Malay community, it does not detail what these measures should be.

http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r19/theonlinecitizen/Community/painting3.jpgThus the government has elected to interpret the clause in narrow terms, restricting this to providing free tertiary education for the Malay minority. In some instances, one can even argue that the government has acted in violation of Section 152. In the year 2000, the expropriation of Istana Kampong Glam, a symbol of Malay sovereignty on the island, surely did not demonstrate the political will to ‘safeguard (Malay) cultural interests’. The banning of the tudung in national schools in 2002 cannot be considered an act that ‘fosters (Malay) religious interests’. And the fact that the madrasahs in Singapore do not receive adequate funding from the Ministry of Education contravenes an obligation to ‘support (Malay) educational interests’.

As such, one wonders about the actual constitutional force of Section 152. Lee has raised Section 152 as some kind of stumbling block to equality. Yet the section itself has been subjected to unequal and arbitrary application in state policies.

*********

I often find myself wondering why it is so difficult for someone in the majority to appreciate his or her privileged status in Singapore. How is it possible for someone to yell out ‘Majority, what!’, in the same breath unapologetically disclaiming any responsibilities towards fellow citizens who are minorities?

I believe there are two factors that can explain this lack of majority-consciousness among Chinese Singaporeans. The first is the fact that the Chinese did not come to the region as colonial settlers. Their arrival was facilitated by colonial capitalism, which often relied on indentured labour. Thus the Chinese do not see themselves as responsible for dispossessing native populations of their status and territories, and exploiting indigenous resources. As such, they do not carry the baggage of what has often been referred to as post-colonial guilt.

http://www.nuffnang.com.au/wp-content/themes/nuffnang-2.0.1/uploadedstuff/2009/11/chinatown-heritage.jpgSecondly, there are some who believe that the Chinese-educated community has itself been marginalized, a phenomenon that has led sociologist Chua Beng Huat to coin the term ‘the minoritisation of the Chinese community’. I do have sympathy for such sentiments, although sometimes I wonder if a distinction needs to be made between government subjugation of communist activities (which tended to be associated with the Chinese-educated) and an actual repression of Chinese culture. Nevertheless, this sense of ‘minoritisation’ has led to a certain attitude in majority-minority relations: ‘how can the Chinese, who are themselves oppressed, be seen as the oppressors?’

No matter what the Chinese here feel about their status as the majority, the fact remains that this is a status that is not likely to change. Lee Kuan Yew himself has hinted at the need to maintain this ‘racial balance’ in a speech given in mid-August: “By race, the fertility rate is 1.91 for Malays, 1.19 for Indians and 1.14 for Chinese. If we continue this way without the new immigrants and PRs and their children doing national service, the composition of our SAF will change. So please remember that”.

The tendency of any majority, if left unchecked, is towards tyranny. The tendency of any minority, if left unattended, is towards alienation. The presence of Section 152, a constitutional guarantee of minority protection, goes a long way towards alleviating the damaging forces of such vectors in our society. Far from undermining equality, Section 152 is an attempt to rectify asymmetries of power, to achieve parity, among those who are not born equal. It takes a particular form of genius to observe the reverse.

Monday, December 14, 2009

In praise of M. Ravi

I'd like to dedicate this blogpost to M. Ravi, the leading Human Rights lawyer in Singapore.

Other than social and political issues, Ravi and I have other similar interests like theatre. It may be a little known fact in the Singapore blogosphere that Ravi is a prominent actor in local Tamil television programs and plays, with his most recent leading role in Vadi PVSS's 'Thondan', a Tamil adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Titus'.

The performance took place over 3 days at the Esplanade to sell-out crowds. I attended one of the weekend shows with my Mother, who also greatly enjoyed the production. She commented that she never expected Ravi to be such a talented artist.

Ravi, like myself, is also a firm believer in animal rights and vegetarianism. We've had many splendid dinners together with friends discussing everything from the Death Penalty to the SPCA's methods of culling stray cats. Ravi also does excellent impersonations of local political figures that never fails to leave all at the table thoroughly entertained.

It's been a number of years now, and I still see Ravi as one of the local champions of Human Rights. He serves as an inspiration to Singaporeans young and old - lawyers, activists and artists alike.

Here is Ravi's recent video interview on SDP's Let's Talk, which I recommend everyone to watch:


Thank you M. Ravi.

Join the 'We Support M. Ravi' facebook group.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Statement from the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)

We are very encouraged by the Court of Appeal’s grant of hearing and second stay of execution to Yong Vui Kong that was made on 8 Dec 2009. It is a heartening turn of events for us at the SADPC. We congratulate Yong and our co-campaigner M Ravi on their success.

Throughout our campaign for Yong, various groups of people came forward to lend their time and expertise. We are grateful to everyone now in close collaboration in our campaigning efforts, as well as those assisting Ravi in his legal work.

We wish to thank once again everyone who attended our event at Speakers’ Corner last Sunday, 6 December. We were greatly encouraged by the number of people who turned up in support of Yong at such short notice. (Read one report of the event by The Online Citizen here)

Your generous donations have gone a long way to provide financial assistance to Yong’s family and to help defray campaign costs. Without your contributions, Yong’s family could not have afforded filing fees (S$550 for an originating summons) and their stay in Singapore.

But our work is far from finished. Yong’s life still hangs in the balance and we seek your continued support to save his life.

We continue to appeal to the legal community to come forward and work with us. We also extend our call to lawyers dealing with capital offences to approach us so that we may render them any support that they need.

Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)
Our current working email address is sgantideathpenalty@gmail.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Young PAP member and P65 blogger Fredric Fanthome is a new citizen from India

Seelan: In the previous election, despite the fact that not all Singaporeans voted due to the numerous walkovers, the PAP only got '66.6%' of the vote.

If their studies and signs show that in the coming elections their votes from Singaporeans will further decline, then bringing in and promoting new citizens like this Fredric seems like a perfect insidious way to keep the PAP in power.

Source: Temasek Review

YPAP member and P65 blogger Fredric Fanthome who made a spirited defence of the “cooling-off” day proposed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the p65 blog turned out to be a new citizen from India!

With more new citizens like Mr Fredric becoming voters in future elections, the PAP can be assured of that their political hegemony will continue for many years to come.

Fredric graduated from the Indian Institute of Management in 2000 and is currently the head of Business Development at Clearing and Payment Services Pte Ltd, a Singapore SME.

In an article he wrote for Contact Singapore, an alliance of the Singapore Economic Development Board and Ministry of Manpower to attract global talent to work, invest and live in Singapore, he described Singapore as a place which “works”.

“The electricity never fails, the transport system works, the drainage system works. You can drink water from the tap without worrying about getting a tummy ache. And the air is clean, except when there are forest fires in Indonesia!”

Fredric did not reveal when he became a Singapore citizen, but it is pretty obvious that he is proud of his adopted country from his writings:

“I did not adapt to Singapore. I did not have to. Singapore was the kind of city I was always looking for……I don’t just live here. I am Singaporean. Singaporean by choice, and proud of it.”

[Source: A City which fits like a Charm from "The Singapore Experience" by Contact Singapore]

Being born and brought up in a developing country like India, it is little wonder that Fredric is in love with Singapore.

However, he must be financially secure to qualify for Singapore citizenship in the first place.

As an outsider not familiar with the political history of Singapore, Mr Fredric may be forgiven for speaking up in the defence of the PAP government who gave him the opportunity to start life afresh in Singapore.

Due to the PAP’s liberal immigration policies, Singapore’s population has hit the 5-million mark this year, out of which 36 per cent are foreigners, up from 14 per cent in 1990.

Of the remaining 64 per cent of the population who are citizens, it is not known how many are new citizens like Mr Fredric.

The PAP has been actively using courting new citizens by organizing events for them and giving them free goodies.

A 10-million dollar Community Integration Fund was launched lately by Minister of Community, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan to make the new citizens feel welcomed.

(However, he has no money to pay for the Singapore Sports Hub which has been hit be repeated delays)

New citizens and even PRs are recruited to serve as grassroots leaders in the community.

According to Dr Vivian himself, there are now 4,500 new citizens serving in various capacities in grassroots organizations which are under the control of the People’s Association headed by the Prime Minister himself.

New citizens tend to be more supportive and appreciative of the government as epitomized by the example of Mr Fredric.

With more new citizens like Mr Fredric becoming voters in future elections, the PAP can be assured of that their political hegemony will continue for many years to come.

Also read:

YPAP P65 blogger supports “cooling-off” day and condemns netizens for spraying “venom” at govt

“Revamped” P65 blog turning out to be a YPAP blog by new citizens

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The PAP government is illegitimate (My comment to former ISA detainees)

On 14 November 2009, myself and 400 others attended the launch of 'The Fajar Generation', a book which recounts the incredible cruelty that was inflicted on political detainees by the PAP around the time of Singapore's independence. The book was sold out in minutes.

Speeches were made by the authors, former ISA detainees Dr Lim Hock Siew, Dr Poh Soo Kai, Tan Kok Fang, and Mr Tan Jing Quee. This is probably only the second time locally that Singaporeans got to hear them speak about their ordeals and the horror they had to go through during ISA detention.

This is the comment I made during the brief Q&A session:

My name is Seelan Palay. I'm a Singaporean activist of this generation. And I'd like to start off by speaking on behalf of my current generation of local activists, that we greatly respect and honour the men sitting in front of us and also the men and women who have suffered under the PAP regime, under the ISA.

I'd like to say that history is written by people who have won only because they have cheated, and if they want to call that a victory and feel proud of it then that's their business. But I find no honour in a victory that is won by cheating, through the abuse of power, through the abuse of the law, through the complete control of the media.

And that is why I reiterate that the current government in Singapore, the PAP government, is a illegitimate government. I'd like to say that the current generation of activists will bear in mind some of the ideas of people before us and I'd like to quote Dr Lim Hock Siew: "We will never concede. Bitter sacrifice strengthens bold resolve."

We are still colonized in Singapore, previously by white men, and now by men in white. - Endquote.

I say that the PAP government is illegitimate because if the countless numbers of Singaporean men and women were not detained under the ISA, bankrupted, or humiliated in the local media over the years - the PAP may very well not be the government today.

Here is the must-see video of Dr Lim Hock Siew's speech at the launch:



And here's a report on the event by the Singapore Democratic Party.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vui Kong, we care – a day for compassion

Source: The Online Citizen

Vui Kong's story from Lianain Films on Vimeo.

Rachel Zeng

On Sunday, 6 December 2009, a group of Singaporeans gathered at Speakers’ Corner to express their concern for Yong Vui Kong, a 21 year old Malaysian who is sitting on death row, and to demonstrate compassion for him.

The simple event, which was planned over the weekend, was to have pictures taken of Singaporeans who cared for Yong Vui Kong and to have them presented to his family as a sign of moral support.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Event: Vui Kong, We Care

http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/object2/270/49/n359701585172_2933.jpg

Come and join us at Speaker’s Corner at 4pm sharp this Sunday (Dec 6) for a show of compassion for Yong Vui Kong, a 21-year old Malaysian who is facing the death penalty in Singapore for drug trafficking.

There will be no speeches. We will gather briefly for a group photograph holding photos of Yong Vui Kong with a banner saying “Vui Kong, we care.”

The death penalty is irreversible. Vui Kong should be given a chance to repent and live.

NOTE: Please come dressed in a white top at 4pm sharp.

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=359701585172

Friday, December 4, 2009

Global hunger reaches record high of 1 billion

http://hempnewstv.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/hunger.jpg

For the first time in human history
, the number of people worldwide that are being affected by the world food crisis is exceeding 1 billion. It would be a little less heartbreaking if global hunger has remained at the same level despite all the programs, campaigns and concerts we've seen the past decade - but it's actually gotten worse and reached a record high.

The new data released in September 2009 by the The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) also announced that the amount of food aid currently available for the most needy is at a 20 year low, and the organization is currently facing a $4.1 billion budget shortfall.

At the same time, people in "1st world" countries are wasting more food. 39 percent of the American food supply is never consumed by human beings. Multiply the individual waste by 300 million Americans and you get enough to feed the people of the Philippines.

http://singabloodypore.rsfblog.org/media/01/01/293b4344f7404cf3b35d4ebaa709848a.jpgIn 2008 alone, an estimated 150 million people were added to the ranks of the chronically hungry while food prices increased dramatically around the world as a result of the recent financial crisis.

In Singapore, it was reported that queues for free food were getting longer than ever before:

Longer queues for free food in wealthy Singapore: charities (AFP)

The different faces of Singapore (The Star)

So now we know the problem continues to grow, but what is the solution?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My blog will disregard the "cooling-off" day election regulation

http://southeastasia.foreignpolicyblogs.com/files/2009/07/leeclan-300x210.jpg

So it appears that PM Lee Hsien Loong (son of ex-PM Lee Kuan Yew) has proposed a “24-hour cooling-off” period before Polling Day. During this period, campaigning such as mass rallies, door-to-door visits and display of party logos and symbols in public places will be banned. This is apparently is extended to cyberspace as well and will be tabled in parliament in early 2010.

Local websites like The Online Citizen, Temasek Review, SG Politics and the Singapore Democratic Party have written their respective analyses of the proposal, which I recommend reading.

While some are quick to mention that this "cooling-off" period is in practice in other countries like Australia, they are not as quick to mention that they observe it with several variations. For example, in Australia, there is a 3 day period before election day where electronic (TV & radio) advertising is not allowed. All other public campaigning continues and newspaper & online advertisements are allowed right through election day without restriction.

I will let everyone know right now that I will not only post news reports but also my political opinions on my blog on the day before, and on the "cooling-off" day itself. I will post images and logos of the political parties and figures that I support and will blog about who I voted for and why.

I urge all Singaporean bloggers to join me because we have a right to post and share our opinions, political or not, on our personal blogs at any time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The art of diversity

Source: TODAY Online

Letter from Audrey Wong Nominated Member of Parliament and Co-artistic Director, The Substation, Sep 17, 2009

http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIMEDIA/image/20090707/a4-audreym.jpgTHERE has been much talk about social and religious harmony lately, with the Prime Minister at the National Day Rally emphasising the importance of preserving common spaces for all Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion. Schools, workplaces, and sports are three such spaces - and, perhaps, arts and culture should be added to the list.

If we understand "culture" to mean a set of customs, values and practices that are shared or commonly understood among a group of people, as well as the intellectual and artistic aspects of human life, it's clear that the arts and culture generate shared social capital.

Singapore has articulated its official core values, but it takes more than slogans for values to be embodied in people's lives.

"Culture" and the "arts" - the expressions of culture in structured aesthetic form - help people to think through their identities, histories and memories. The enjoyment of many art forms - for instance, painting, music, dance - is not tied to a particular language. People from different ethnic and religious backgrounds have collaborated successfully in the artistic process. Yet, we don't always take full advantage of this diversity: it is rare to see a non-Chinese at a Chinese play, or a non-Malay at a Malay play, even with the provision of English surtitles. Yet, we happily listen to world music sung in unfamiliar languages.

But there is hope.

In contemporary theatre and visual art, it is common to see collaborations between artists from different backgrounds. Directors like Ong Keng Sen and Alvin Tan (in collaboration with playwright Haresh Sharma) are tapping into the rich vein of multiculturalism in Singapore, working with artists across social, cultural and language barriers, even beyond Singapore. The late dramatist Kuo Pao Kun was another pioneer, emphasising the importance of creating work that's rooted in local culture(s).

A recent work which received excellent reviews was the play, National Language Class, by theatre company spell#7, which was founded by a Singaporean and a Briton. Both live in Singapore. In this play, staged last year, a Chinese actress and Malay actor present a scene from a painting by Chua Mia Tee depicting a group of young Chinese learning Malay in a classroom in the late 1950s/early 1960s - a time when our people dreamt of becoming a new nation.

The play brought up questions such as whether we are defined by the language(s) we speak, how we articulate ourselves as a nation, and how we manage - or view - our differences.

Our diversity is seen in the arts, not because the artists deliberately set out to depict these themes, but simply because the artists live the Singapore experience, and live in these shared spaces.