Monthly Archives: July 2010

Off to serve the nation!

As with a Singaporean males who have to go through the ‘rites of passage’, which is doing National Service, it is my turn tomorrow. Which also means I won’t be blogging much. But do not worry, my readers, for I have my trusty Moleskine notebook which a very good friend got for me to encourage me to keep writing. So from time to time, I will write something and post it up.

So watch this space, for the changes I plan for my blog and a more mature me who will be writing to engage you and your thoughts in about 2 years time 🙂

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Filed under National Service, Singapore

Is the Marina Barrage really working?

Its time for government officials to tell us the truth.

In a TODAY interview on 12th of July, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor said:

The Marina Barrage reservoir did help in preventing a bigger disaster during the recent flash floods…The Government has spent at least $2 billion to improve the drainage system and will continue to review the current system, she said.

As for the impact of climate change on rainfall patterns, Dr Khor said that the Government had undertaken a vulnerability study but rainfall patterns were difficult to predict and there was a need to wait for new inputs on improving forecasting method.

Oh really? Then how is that there are 3 floods in a month?

Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim then said that the first flood in Orchard Road was caused by debris, but then change his tune in Parliament, saying that the Stamford Canal was actually ‘not adequate and could not drain quickly enough’

So which is which? And my question to both Dr Khor and Dr Ibrahim is: Is the Marina Barrage actually doing it’s job?

I like what Siew Kum Hong wrote in his post, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’:

Nevermind that the original reason given by Dr Yaacob for the first Orchard flood was that the Stamford Canal was blocked, but otherwise it was adequate — but now actually it was not adequate and could not drain quickly enough (front page news today). Nevermind that it took three, yes three, floods in two months before our million-dollar salarymen could figure out that it might be a good idea to issue public warnings about potential flooding (and even now that’s still not been decided.

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Filed under Flood, Politics, Singapore

11 Singapore socio-political blogs you should be reading

Recently, I decided to use Google Reader (yes, I know I’m slow), to keep up with the socio-political blogs that I love to read. After compiling a list, I decided it would be a great to share the the good stuff I take away from this blogs with my readers. As we all know, many Singaporeans rely on their forever ‘politically correct’ mainstream media (MSM) for news. It’s time that our socio-political blogs take the limelight. For reporting news which the MSM chooses to ignore. Please note that the blogs are not listed in any particular order.

Kristen Han: Funny little world

A writer’s ability to provoke your thoughts makes him/her a very inspiring writer. Kristen is one of them. Her no-holds-barred, straight-from-the-heart opinions is what makes this girl special. Judging from the influx of comments she receives each time after writing a post, it seems that many readers agree with me.

Alex Au: Yawning Bread

A veteran blogger who has been in Singapore’s socio-political blogging scene for a very long time, Alex is such a great writer that people often mistake him to be a journalist or academia. Not afraid to admit that he’s gay, Alex fiercely stands up for the rights of homosexuals. Whether they care to admit it or not, many journalists who work in the mainstream media read Alex’s blog regularly. That is a testament to how good this guy is.

Lucky Tan: Diary of A Singaporean Mind

Another veteran writer who has a very deep understanding of the political situation in Singapore. This is my favourite blog because Lucky has a knack of looking beyond what the general public are saying about any controversial issues and ask very important questions.

Gerald Giam: geraldgiam.sg

The often touted poster boy for young and educated graduates who are joining the opposition. Gerald made waves when he left his job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to join the Workers’ Party. An important voice for the opposition, Gerald doesn’t slam or critique the PAP whenever he has a chance to do so, but quietly goes about writing about what the Workers’ Party are doing on the ground, something which the MSM doesn’t always report about. Gerald is also an author.

Callan Tham: Trapper’s Swamp

A blog which I stumbled upon when I was looking for a source to follow during the AWARE saga. Callan is not your typical writer. Politics is serious stuff. But this guy ability to break down the serious stuff, simple enough for the layman to understand, is a valuable asset. His in-depth knowledge of United States’ politics is also something to take note of. It is no wonder ‘Politics’ and ‘United States’ are the top two topics in his blog.

Sam Ho: Sam’s thoughts

Winner of the ‘Most Insightful Blog’ award in the 2009 OMY Singapore Blog Awards, Sam fully deserves his award. A very strong critique of the MSM, most of his replies to letters published by The Straits Times (ST), which he also kindly put up in his blog, are rejected and not published. And when you read his letters, you will agree with his criticism of the MSM.

Rachel Zeng: Rachel Zeng’s blog

Rachel is more of an activist than a blogger, but nevertheless, a great writer. If you are against the Mandatory Death Penalty and you don’t know who is Yong Vui Kong, blame the MSM. Everything in Rachel’s blog should have been published by the MSM.

Goh Meng Seng: Singapore Alternatives

If you want to know about the struggle of an opposition leader in Singapore, Goh’s blog is a must-read.

Andrew Loh: The Online Citizen

The Online Citizen (TOC) is the online equivalent to ST, but does what ST doesn’t do. That is, report the truth and nothing but the truth. Reporting nothing but the truth has pissed off a certain Minister, who raged that TOC is an ‘irresponsible website’. With Andrew at it’s helm, TOC doesn’t do PAP-bashing but focuses more on issues like homelessness in Singapore.

Barnyard Chorus: Barnyard Chorus

Cat in the cream, Magical Chicken, Farmer Plant’Alot, Badly Drawn Pig are some of the writers who write in this blog. While their names are not to be taken seriously, what they write should be. A refreshing blog if you are tired of the run-of-the-mill blogs.

Donaldson Tan: New Asia Republic

Formerly a writer for TOC, Donaldson left to start his own site for those who want to read about Singapore news and issues from a cosmopolitan angle, encompassing the liberalist-libertarian spectrum. New Asia Republic has an impressive stable of writers which include former CEO of NTUC Income, Tan Kin Lian and Gwee Li Sui, author and graphic artist.

Any Singapore socio-political blogs you think I missed out that people should read? Suggest them in the comments section below.

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Filed under Singapore

Singapore Government bans another political film which is ‘contrary to public interest’

The Singapore Government has banned this video recording of a speech by former political prisoner Dr Lim Hock Siew which was filmed by Martyn See . Dr Lim was Singapore’s second longest-held political prisoner.
The prohibition will take effect on Wednesday 14th July 2010. The Government has also asked Mr See to remove the video from YouTube.
In a press release, the Ministry of Informations, Communications and the Arts said:
The film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Dr Lim’s arrests and detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1963. The Singapore Government will not allow will not allow individuals who have posed a security threat to Singapore’s interests in the past, to use media platforms such as films to make baseless accusations against the authorities, give a false portrayal of their previous activities in order to exculpate their guilt and undermine public confidence in the Government in the process.
Martyn See’s first film, Singapore Rebel, filmed four years ago, was also banned by the Government. But the censors passed it with an M18 rating in September 2009. It became the first political film to be passed after the Films Act was amended in March to relax the rules on such films.
The press release which Dr Lim mentioned can be found here. Perhaps the Government banned this film because of the potential ramifications it will face by letting the public know it asked Dr Lim to ‘save Lee Kuan Yew’s face’ by saying he was justly detained
The highlight of the exchange between Special Branch and Dr Lim:
Special Branch – You must concede something so that Lee Kuan Yew would be in a position to explain to the public why you had been detained so long. Mr Lee Kuan Yew must also preserve his face. If you were to be released unconditionally, he will lose face.
Dr Lim Hock Siew – I am not interested in saving Lee Kuan Yew’s face. This is not a question of pride but one of principle. My detention is completely unjustifiable and I will not lift a single finger to help Lee Kuan Yew to justify the unjustifiable. In the light of what you say, is it not very clear that I have lost my freedom all these long and bitter years just to save Lee Kuan Yew’s face? Therefore the P.A.P. regime’s allegation that I am a security risk is a sham cover and a facade to detain me unjustifiably for over 9 years.
In his swearing in speech, Prime Minister Lee Hisen Loong said that Singapore is ‘an open society’. So is this what he meant by ‘an open society’? By banning this film and denying Singaporeans the truth? This poor man was declared a terrorist and thrown into prison without trial. As Lucky Tan puts it best:
Dr. Lim tells us that the authorities wanted to extract a ‘repentence’ from him as a condition for his release from detention. Dr. Lim does not need to repent…the people who locked him up for 19 years should be the ones repenting their atrocious inhumance actions.
Download the video before it’s banned. Here are the links:
(h/t: Thanks to Martyn for providing the video download links)

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Filed under Media, Politics, Singapore

SMRT CEO: I ‘push my way in to trains’ too

Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, CEO of SMRT Corp

In my previous post, I wondered if Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, CEO of SMRT Corp, ever took a MRT train during peak hour. Well, apparently she did.

In an interview she gave to Channel NewsAsia in respond to the uproar over the comment she made that ‘people can board train – it is whether they choose to’,  she was quoted as saying:

I am very aware it’s crowded. I take the trains all the time. I take the effort to go all the way to the northern towns to see how crowded it is during the morning peaks and I take the train with the people.
“It is crowded, but I push my way in. It is crowded, but when they are already running at 2-3 minutes (intervals), it’s the most that I can do. I cannot go faster than that without compromising safety and reliability
Noticed how many times she uses the word ‘crowded‘? And the highlighted comment which she says she ‘I push my way in‘?
I don’t know if her admission that the trains are crowded and that she is doing the same thing as her customers – pushing and squeezing in to packed trains, is music to the ears of the people her comment was directed at. I sure they are thinking: ‘Oh come on, Ms Saw, tell us something we don’t already know’.
For what it’s worth, I applaud Ms Saw for finally admitting the obvious – SMRT trains ARE crowded. But admitting the obvious isn’t what we, who take the train daily, want. What we want is a solution.
And for Pete’s sake, Ms Saw, you are the CEO. Please don’t tell us that running trains at 2-3 minutes interval is ‘the most you can do’. You are the one being paid a ridiculously high salary, so don’t expect us to fall for that line.

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Filed under Singapore, SMRT