Monthly Archives: August 2009

Why read between the lines?

I read this letter, which was written by a Temasek Junior College student. The author named the letter: Violation of Secularism in a Singapore JC . Here is the full letter:

To whom it may concern,
 
I have wanted to send this email a long time ago. However, I felt that the time was not ripe. Following PM’s National Day rally 2009, I feel that it is the right time to inquire about secularism.
 
I am a JC2 student in Temasek Junior College, having previously attended St. Joseph’s Institution. I am an atheist by convert, having this (lack of) faith since secondary school.
 
I am quite grateful and inspired by the PM, raising of issue of secularism in schools. Despite being an atheist, I have always been comfortable in SJI as the institution is especially considerate for students having a different faith other than catholicism. The same cannot be say for TJC.
 
I feel uncomfortable in TJC because I witnessed a violation of secularism in TJC.
 
A few months ago, around May, the 32nd Student Council of TJC stood down and hand over to the 33rd SC. On the day, the President of the 32nd Student Council addressed the cohort. At the end of her address, she close with the phrase of “God Bless”
 
I feel that this is rather inconsiderate as it means that the individual is assuming that everyone believe in the same god. The individual failed to consider that some might believe in another religion (or no god at all in the first place). I am surprise that one can actually make such a provocative statement in a secular school. I would have accepted this phrase in SJI, but I cannot accept a secular school actually condone the action of ’blessing’ with a religion tone
 
The ministry might think that the fault lies in the individual. But I am very surprise that the college did not make any clarification to the address. which I take it as they agree with the phrase. When the speech included the phrase “God Bless”, I believed that a Secular school like TJC would have clarified without any one complaing or enquring in the first place. But the lack of action of TJC with regards to this violation of secularism in school is rather shocking.
 
I only write this email today because I believe that the government had clarified its stand through PM’s rally. I hope that the Ministry would look into issues of violation of secularism in school as secularism is one of the key principle of Singapore formation and education, whereby religion can co-exist peacefully because not one side is favoured. I hope that the Ministry will look into the matter and inquired into it further. Secularism must be preserved in our schools to ensure harmony.
 
I look forward to the response by the Ministry
 
Thank you

I find this letter very ridiculous. I mean, come on, its just ”God Bless’?!. Why the need to read so much in to this term and kick up a big fuss?. I disagree with this statement: ‘The individual failed to consider that some might believe in another religion’ If I was a Muslim, and I hear ‘God Bless’, I just take it as Allah. Simple as that.

Provocative statement?. Guess what?. I don’t think ‘God Bless’ was ‘Provocative’, I think that the letter is ‘Provocative’. The author read too much in to this statement. And by writing this letter, it goes to show that the author is trying to gain some kind of attention by stirring up some kind of dissent among the major religions.

If the author is really unhappy, why not take it up with his school and his teachers before writing this letter?. Trying to gain attention?. You be the judge.

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A 15-years-old’s vision.

This was written by, Crystal Ong Min Ning, 15, from Raffles Girls’ School for a Worker’s Party essay competition. Despite her tender age, I’m very impressed with her writing. Its a short essay, but a very emotional and straight to the point essay. Enjoy 🙂
My ideal Singapore is a work in progress.

In the island of my dreams, we will strive, not pretend towards multiracialism. We will teach children to love each other, to accept that we’re same yet different, to see into each other’s hearts and say “I love you because you’re the best friend I can ever have” instead of “I love you because Teacher says we must befriend those of other races”.

We will accept criticism with humility and grace and learn to improve from it. Our airport doesn’t have to be the highest ranked in the world. It can be the most people-centred, the one place where smiles are genuine and not merely products of overzealous campaigns. (Or it can just stick to what it does best: make Singaporeans returning home cry silently as they catch their first glimpse of Changi in years through a tiny plane window.)

Parents will teach their children to make the best of the talents they have, not force-fit them into a mould. Schools will do more than teach our children the limitations of the real world – they will teach them to defy the status quo, to challenge stereotypes and break new ground. The new generation of Singaporeans won’t just conform to expectations – they will learn to think and fend for themselves. We won’t be a nation of complainers, but of doers.

We won’t bother to try manufacturing patriotism, because we don’t need to. Let us root ourselves here in family, culture and shared values. Patriotism should grow by itself, watered by pride and nourished by a true sense of belonging. We can love an imperfect Singapore perfectly.

My ideal Singapore won’t just be a country or a city. It will be home. It doesn’t have to be the best yet, but we will be humble enough to admit that we aren’t all there, yes, but we won’t rest on our laurels either.

We don’t have to try too hard to appear to be what we aren’t – we can set high standards and work towards them. If we don’t content ourselves with reaching the top, one day we just might touch the sky. (:

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We all need a reminder once in a while.

‘Firstly, all groups must exercise tolerance and restraint. Secondly, religion must stay separate from politics. Thirdly, the government must remain secular and fourthly, the common space that all Singaporeans share – whether at mealtimes, at work or in school – must be preserved.’

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally 2009

I must applaud Mr Lee for making race and religion his main agenda in his rally speech. As what he lamented, ‘people usually shy around from these kind of topics, but its good to bring it out to talk once in a while’. To use this topic in a rally closely watched by the world, its very brave. A wrong word, or a wrong statement, will result in unrest in many quarters. Basically, he’s walking on a very very tight rope.

You probably haven’t heard about my views about the Aware saga. Here it is:

One thing that I stand by firmly is, religion should never enter the circular world. There is a line between religion and secular. Once we cross that, its too late to go back. Yes, Ms Josie Lau and her team are Christians. And as a Christian, I’m supposed to stand behind them and not let them ‘hang out to dry’. But I must ask this. So what if she’s a Christian?. She certainly didn’t take over Aware the right way. If she’s a Christian, as she claims to be, where was God’s guidance in her decision to take over Aware?. Was it her own decison or God’s?. Never mind the ‘Pro-Gay’ stance. I’m not going to go in to that, but like what PM Lee said, he said ‘Christians cannot expect Singapore to be a Christian society, ditto Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other groups.’

There is a saying which I hold dear to my heart: : ‘God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply’

The takeover was definitely not God’s work. This experience really show us that we cannot take religion into the secular. What we will achieve is nothing, but unhappiness and discontentment. What the team achieve was dragging their face and their own religion through the mud.

Singapore will always be a country where many religions live peacefully together. There will never be one religion. There should never be people coming out to say ‘Singapore is a Christian country’ or ‘Singapore is an Islamic republic’.

Yes. Religions should spread their messages. But we should never never ever force people to believe what we believe. That is tyranny.

This will happen again. Humans are forgetful. That’s why we need a reminder once in a while.

 

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English must be spoken well, with or without accent.

I’m troubled by the reason why a DJ was fired was because of her ‘lack of american accent’. If there’s an issue with ‘accents’, what’s with the government’s plans for more ‘Foreign Talents’? Won’t they influence our ‘accents” too? So we should try to speak chinese like a chinese man from China now?. Seriously, have we lost our identity?.

This is the letter from Chew Soowei:

Dear friends,

I wish I had told it to you in person but I wasn’t given the chance to.

My final show “Pillowfight with Soo” concluded Sat July 12 at 3.00am on 987fm.

Why? I’ve had a few people message me on Facebook asking me why I am not part of the new schedule out on 987FM. Let me give you the short version of the story.

The Monday after the July 12th episode of “Pillowfight With Soo”, first day of my annual leave, I received a phone call stating that I’d been taken off air and when I do come back from my leave I was coming back to a work situation where I was basically just “Helping Out/Subbing Others” around the office. The main reason as it was given to me for being taken off was that my English Language isn’t proficient enough and my hosting is and I quote “Just like I learnt it from the Outdoor emcees in Orchard Road”.

In the last year I was in and out of the office, been constantly told that there were really bad grammatical errors with my language and yet so many times when I asked for an example and help it couldn’t be produced. One of the few times it was produced, he had to call a fellow colleague to confirm the error because he didn’t know what was really truly wrong with me saying: “If only Shan sings as well as his cousin.” Out of these times, my favorite one would be an email stating that my diction was really bad and I should listen to American Radios Jocks and learn an American accent.

If my Spoken English is bad, people wouldn’t understand me. If people cannot understand me inevitably they wouldn’t tune in.

If so, how do I explain a steady increase in my listenership (bearing in mind I started on a shift that did not exist before I went on)? Why has my public profile increased in the last year? Why do I have more clients coming to me for public shows more than ever? And lastly, if my English is so bad, why did clients sponsor “Pillowfight With Soo” over and over again in a back-to-back fashion?

I have a long way to go with my spoken language and I am far from perfect. But Radio to me has always been about connecting with people. I chat with you… you chat with me. The rest of the world listens in on our conversation in a voyeuristic fashion. I’ve always done my shows with the idea that I am speaking to only one person and if that one person gets me… we’ve connected. I am who I am. If you bumped into me in the streets I will sound like how you hear me on Radio. No pretense, No announcer-ish bravado and certainly no fake American accent. As far as Radio is concerned, if you understood me on a human level, I’ve done my job. You might hear some poetic justifications on why I was removed or maybe how loved I was in the station or how much has been done to help me out…so I’m writing this note so you will get a glimpse of the truth rather speculate the situation. I hope you don’t think that I’m just venting my bitterness. There is none looking back at the great times I had with my 987 family. So with all that said… I am taking myself out of the “Equation” and my last day will be on 4th August 2009.

In light of the situation, I’m writing you this letter to thank you for the wonderful magical times I’ve had on the show.

Staying up late was never an issue; I’m a creature of the night. Somehow, the world awakes to a different light after the stroke of midnight. It’s the conversations we had that I will miss most of all.

“Scandal anonymous”, this segment is the most fun a girl can have at night. In case, you wonder what the fuss is all about…the listeners call in with a nickname and share a deep dark secret or something embarrassing. I’m going to share some of my personal faves. By the way, the names I’m using below are merely nicknames, so as to protect the real identity of the listeners.

Sarah is a young and restless teenager working at a convenience store for some extra bucks, one day she was so bored…she started using needles to poke at condom boxes.
😛
Tim broke up with his perfect girlfriend of 10 years because he couldn’t bear the burden of the secret anymore. He couldn’t bear to lie to his parents and friends that his girlfriend used to be a man…and that they were from the same all-boys school together.

Peiling has been chatting online with this guy for the past 10 months now and the guy initiated a meeting with her. After all, they have fallen in love over the Net. The only problem is, Peiling has been lying about her physical appearance. She has been on a strict diet for the past 10 weeks and still kilos away from her virtual description.

I could go on forever about the dirty secret video tapes to foamy lovemaking sessions at Zoukout to a pregnant girl carrying her boyfriend’s best friend’s child to a mischievous boy peeing into a cup and trying to make his least fave uncle think it’s chrysanthemum tea etc etc. The drama is relentless every night and I loved every moment of it.

With all that fuss, it’s just good old telephone conversations and a connection between 2 complete strangers…I may not know you now but I’m getting closer to your life with every conversation. I love chatting with you. Thanks for opening up your heart to me late into the night and talking about your pet hamsters. Your stories, I will carry them in my heart. But I also have to be honest; sometimes I do get really frustrated, when you have little words but strange noises in between. Sometimes I get really scared as well, when you put on a demonic accent and say lewd things I cannot air.

It’s been a good fight.

If you‘ve been chronicling my life from an ambitious wide eyed driver wannabe to a licensed P plate maniac on the road, I hope you’ll look back and laugh at the stories of my great inability to parallel park or try to beat my 20 min struggle to reverse in a tight spot. For those who ever turn on the stove and tried to make a meal before, there are some videos of my experimental dishes tried by the Muttons. They are currently still alive. If you’ve been part of my life somehow, going through a tough time or a celebratory moment, thank you for sharing my life. If I’ve been part of your life, going through a break up or mad study night, thank you for having my voice in your ears.

I’ll be moving to a different, perhaps, more adventurous chapter of my life and I hope you’ll think of me fondly from time to time and always remember that if I ever have the chance again, I’ll pick up your call and have a good old friend’s heart to heart chat.

Till then,
Soldier on
Soo

I don’t know about you, but the few times that I have listened to her, I was impressed by her diction. Its not pefect, but its easy on the ear. I agree with this statement: ‘If my Spoken English is bad, people wouldn’t understand me. If people cannot understand me inevitably they wouldn’t tune in.’

Utimately, its not accent that is important when it comes to talking. English is a universal language. Accent is not. This is Singapore. While I don’t recommend Singlish, I believe we should speak like the normal Singaporean on the street. We need to have an identity. I think its a shame when Singaporeans try to spaek with an American or any other accent.

This shows that we have an identity crisis. We watch American shows, we learn British English but we speak Singlish. I feel what Mr Brown said is very good: ‘If I wanted to listen to an American DJ, I’d listen to an American program online. If I wanted a British accent, I’d listen to the BBC.’

Singaporeans DJs, and the normal Singaporean should just stick to speaking English the Singaporean way. With the lahs, lors, hor.

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Dancing is beautiful.

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The time for ‘talking’ has past.

This was taken from Trapper’s Swamp . The blog post was titled ‘Rise in Singapore teen sex, STI and abortion rates’.

For those of you who still think, for some reason, that abstinence-only sex education will work, the numbers will surprise you.

The number of statutory rape cases involving girls under 14 in Singapore jumped more than 70 per cent in 2009 when compared to 2008. Most of the cases were surprisingly consensual sex amongst casual friends and boyfriends, most of whom were about the same age.

STDs and abortion rates amongst teens in Singapore are also on the rise. Last year, 787 teens caught STDs, more than three times the 238 in 2002. Teenage abortions last year was 1,289.

These numbers prove that we need a more realistic approach in providing teens with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe. Perhaps more disturbingly is this:

The cases were mostly reported by girls’ parents or teachers once they found out.

And needless to say, there are more that were not caught in the act. Think about that.

(via @theAsianparent)

The author, Callan Tham , hit home the point when he said: And needless to say, there are more that were not caught in the act. Think about that.’ There is an interesting argument going on in his blog. Please go and make your views heard. I bet he will appreciate that 🙂

This article was taken from the 6th August 2009 edition of The Straits Times , the headline is ‘Teens having sex earlier’

It is a sign of the times – More girls aged below 14 are having sex.

The police have now tabbed this as a worrying crime issue, and are trying to keep a lid on the problem.

Crime statistics issued on Wednesday for the first half of the year showed that the number of statutory rape cases involving girls under 14 jumped more than 70 per cent, to 37 cases, compared to the same period last year.

Consensual sex was often at the heart of the problem. Many of the girls had sex with casual friends and boyfriends, most of whom were about the same age.

But when the girls’ parents, or in some cases, teachers, found out, they were determined that action be taken, and reported the cases to the police, who took action.

When the cases go to court, a variety of punishments are dished out. If the culprits are youngsters themselves, they might be fined, sent for reformative training, given probation or even jailed, said Mr Patrick Tan, a lawyer in private practice.

In one case involving a 19-year-old youth and a 12-year-old girl, the teen was fined $8,000.

But if older men are involved, more severe sentences are handed down. For instance, one 32-year-old man who had sex with a 12-year-old girl he met through a friend was jailed seven years and ordered to be caned 18 times.

The girls involved in such cases are not punished, even if they initiate sex, lawyers said. But they are sometimes counselled, or sent to homes.

But beyond landing those involved in trouble with the law, teen sex also causes other problems. Many such trysts lead to unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and a rise in the number of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

Last year, 787 teens caught STIs, more than three times the 238 in 2002. For HIV, the figure rose from one in 2002 to nine in 2007. The total number of teenage abortions last year was 1,289.

Terrible news isn’t it?. Its horrifying to say the least. As I applaud the parents and teachers for reporting the cases instead of covering up, and the court for punishing the offenders, I emphasised once again that punishment is the way forward.

Yes, I agree, we should educate them. But education can only go so far. Trust me on this. Teens these days have ‘stopped listening and start doing’. So I say its time we ‘stop talking and start doing’ too.

I have a close friend of mine, she got pregnant at 14, the guy refuses to even visit the baby and now the baby is being passed around. Is this what we want to see happening in the near future?.

While I’m comforted that alot of people have started voicing their opinons as witnessed in this FB Note , I believe that our main focus should be looking at how to stop a teenage couple from having sexual intercourse. We stop the sex, we stop the diseases. Like Callan, I too, thought that I was the only one concerned about this issue.

This suggestion is just off the top of my head. Please don’t quote me on this.

As I said, punishment is the way forward. But what do we do after that?. Yes. Continue to educate them. This is where I believe AWARE and MOE can step in to help. MOE should give AWARE back their sexuality programmes while going through the process of how its done. I understand that AWARE is a NGO, so it can teach and spread the message to a certain extent but nothing is impossible.

If you disagree with me, I would like to hear you arguments 🙂

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Young and not so innocent? Part 3

This article was taken from the 6th August 2009 edition of The Straits Times . The headline was ‘Duo jailed for obscene act’. This is a continuation of my earlier post ‘Young and not so innocent?’ .

Two men who committed an obscene act on a 15-year-old boy on separate occasions were each jailed three months on Wednesday.

Victor Ng Yong You, 25, then a property agent, and Thomas Song Choong Chen, 36, a supervisor, had earlier pleaded guilty to their respective offences last month. They are the second and third persons to be dealt with in court.

Quek Hock Sing, 42, has since been dealt with for a similar offence against the teenager.

A district court heard that the victim, now 17, had been chatting with people on social networking websites since he was in Primary 3.

In 2004, he found out about an online chatroom popular with homosexual men, and started chatting with strangers.

In December 2006, desperate for money, he started posting messages on the site, ‘seeking paid fun’. He claimed he was 16 but would give his real age when he met or spoke to the other party on the phone.

In January 2007, the victim chatted with Ng online and asked if he could give him a lift to Wisma Atria to collect his phone. The victim offered his sexual service in exchange for Ng’s help.

After fetching the boy, Ng drove to an underground carpark in Bukit Merah where he committed the obscene act on the victim.

In Song’s case, the court heard that he went to the victim’s flat around early 2007 and paid him $50 for his sexual services.

The victim’s mother made a police report in May 2007 after someone called and told her about her son’s activities over the Internet.

Ng and Song could each have been fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to two years for the offence under the Children and Young Persons Act.

The cases against two others are pending while the court had called for a pre-sentence report on Muhammad Hafashah Mohd Aslam, 21, who admitted to having the victim perform oral sex on him on Aug 26.

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