Archive | August 2011

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Threats of violence are unacceptable

“According to The Straits Times, 36-year-old Gary Yue Mun Yew allegedly posted a video clip of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s assassination to the Facebook page of socio-political website Temasek Review.

He is also believed to have called for a live version of the assassination to be re-enacted on the grandstand during the National Day parade. Yue is also accused of posting a doctored photograph of a Vietnamese soldier holding a gun to the head of then Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, whose head had been superimposed onto the original image, on his Facebook page. He was fired from his job last month.”

The above quote is from Asia One website.

Sadly, such postings are becoming more frequent on the Internet. This should raise the alarm bells for the authorities – and also for netizens. It is my fervent hope that such things will be unequivocally condemned by all. The danger is that some will actually support such calls to do harm, and worse, to defend and justify or rationalise away such behaviour.

I am no psychologist and I do not know what caused people like Gary Yue to express his apparent anger in such ways. But whatever his reasons, it is unacceptable. Period. Instigation to violence is a serious matter and should be dealt with firmly and conclusively.

Last I checked, Singapore is not a lawless country.

Also, last I checked, being angry does not give one the right to do or encourage violence, or to do harm to others. Read More…

At a REACH forum – for the first time

On Tuesday evening, I attended my first REACH forum. It was held at the Grassroots Club in Ang Mo Kio. A friend had invited me there.

The forum was to discuss Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech which he delivered on Sunday. DPM Teo Chee Hean was the guest for the night at this REACH forum. There were about, I don’t really know, maybe 200 people? But the auditorium was full.

So, what do I think of the event?

I have to say that it wasn’t what one might think it would be. Read More…

Xenophobia – where are the opposition parties and opinion leaders?

The episode about the so-called “curry incident” is the latest to surface where Singaporeans take umbrage at foreigners’ behaviour towards locals. The seething anger among Singaporeans whenever such incidents happen can be traced to their unhappiness towards the government’s immigration and foreign talent policies.

Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, is the latest to try and calm things down. (See CNA report here.)

Various ministers have also urged Singaporeans not to take out their anger on foreigners.

But the government’s exhortations continue to fall on deaf ears, especially when it is its policies which are seen to be at the root of the unhapinness. Read More…

Patching up holes as we go along

In what were termed “sweeping changes” by the local media following the General Election in May this year, 9 ministers stepped down and 11 given new appointments. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the changes “epochal”.

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and former Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, in a joint statement announcing their resignation from the Cabinet, said the “Prime Minister and his team of younger leaders should have a fresh clean slate” after a “watershed General Election” to “carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation.” (Channelnewsasia)

It was thus with great anticipation that this writer, and many Singaporeans too perhaps, looked forward to the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally speech almost 100 days after the results of the “watershed” elections.

While supporters of PM Lee’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) described the speech as “rousing” and “inspiring”, it was disappointing in that PM Lee did not chart new directions for Singapore as a whole – economically or politically. Read More…

Across the universe

Why does this song – by the Beatles – have such a hold on me?

Singaporean Deborah Lee

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this. Love the song…

It goes deeper than just aroma

Picture credit:

On 8 August, the Today newspaper reported the incident of a family from China, which had moved to Singapore recently, resorting to mediation by the Community Mediation Centre to stop its neighbour from cooking a popular local dish, curry.

Since the report, both online and ordinary Singaporeans have criticised the Chinese family’s actions and also the decision of the CMC to ask the neighbour – an Indian family – to “agree to cook curry only when the Chinese family was not home.”

Ms Frances Ong, in a letter to Today, said: “I feel strongly that it is inappropriate to ask the local family to only cook curry when the neighbour is not at home. It is equivalent to asking my neighbour not to burn paper offerings when my husband is home, which is a ridiculous request.”

I agree – but I also feel that the issue is one which goes deeper and provides a glimpse into the undercurrents of Singapore society which I hope the government will pay attention to. Read More…

The danger in clan endorsement of presidential candidates

Straits Times, 8 August 2011

The Singapore media reported, on 8 August 2011, that the Federation of the Tan Clan Associations has thrown its support behind one of the presidential hopefuls, former DPM Tony Tan. Dr Tan was apparently invited to a dialogue with the Federation’s members on Sunday where the endorsement was announced.

The Federation said it has “no plans” to invite the other three potential candidates who are also named Tan to any dialogues or to speak with its members. (The other three Tans are Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Mr Tan Kin Lian and Mr Tan Jee Say.) Read More…

Commuters are not selfish

Following my last blog article (see here), I decided to keep an eye out and see how commuters in our trains – particularly younger ones – behave towards those who are elderly and those with small children. Often, it is the inconsiderate commuters who get highlighted – especially online on websites like STOMP – and this leads us to think that most commuters are selfish and lack civic consciousness.

However, my experience over two days this week tells a different story. I am happy to report that from my observations and encounters, commuters are quite considerate and courteous when they see older folks. On Friday and Saturday – weekend days when the trains are more crowded – I encountered 10 incidences where younger commuters gave up their seats to older ones without hesitation.

The first incident happened at about 11.30am on Friday on my way from Hougang to Chinatown on the North-east Line (NEL). Two separate occasions where younger commuters immediately gave up their seats when elderly folks boarded the train. A few minutes after these, a third incident happened – a young lady offered her seat to an elderly man. Read More…

The simple things are free

“Fares for senior concession card holders will increase by one cent per journey. But concession hours for senior citizens will be extended to the full-day throughout the week. Their fares on the North East Line and Circle Line will also be adjusted downwards.” – (Channelnewsasia, on the public transport fare hike announced by the Public Transport Council – PTC – on 5 August 2011.)

While undoubtedly and understandably most Singaporeans will be disapppointed and even appalled at the PTC giving in to the public transport operators’ application for fares to be raised, I nonetheless applaud the PTC for extending concessionary fares to all hours throughout the week for elderly folks.

This is something which some have called for and which should have been done long ago. Still, better late than never.

Incidentally, the Workers’ Party had called for such concessions to be given to the elderly in its election manifesto. See here, under “Transport”.

Now that the elderly are able to travel at any time during the day and week, I would like to encourage younger and more able-bodied Singaporeans and commuters to give consideration to these older commuters if and when they should see them on the train or on the buses.

While some may say that elderly folks do not and may not travel at these “new times” simply because there are concessions, I have come across elderly folks who told me they would if there were concessions. In any case, many elderly folks work nowadays and indeed whether there are concessions or not, they would have to use public transport. This doesn’t take away from the necessity to show kindness and consideration towards them.

It would be easy – and depressing – to only and always highlight the occasions where younger commuters are inconsiderate and use these as proof that the general public is a selfish lot. It would instead be better if we could all do our little individual parts to show that it does not take a lot on our parts but it could mean a whole lot to the elderly. Especially those who have ailments or disability or who are physically weak and may not be able to withstand the crowds and long journeys.

Give up your seat if you see the elderly. Lend them a hand if they should be caught off-guard by the train’s sudden starts and stops. Ask if they need help if they’re carrying heavy items. Enquire after them if they should look tired or not so well.

These are small things we can do.

Just today, I witnessed 3 incidents which put a smile on my face and gladness in my heart. In the first two instances, two young commuters – one a lady and the other a guy – gave their seats up to two elderly folks the moment these folks entered the train. The third incident saw a young lady give up her seat to an elderly gentleman on the train to Chinatown station.

These are not the only incidences I have witnessed in the last few weeks.

Of course, there are the other less considerate younger commuters who would not bat an eyelid when they see those who would need the seats more. But I’d rather not focus on them but instead speak of the ones who – because of their kindness – are worth more of a mention than these.

Singapore is a furious-paced society. We walk so fast, always with a destination to reach, an appointment not to be late for. We have lots on our mind every moment of the day. It is at these times that we forget the little things, the simple things.

And these simple things are free. ;)


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