Where’s my childhood?

Straits Times Forum Page, 26 March 2012

When I was a kid, I didn’t care very much for school. My sole reason for getting up in the morning was so I could join my friends, before class started, to play football. And we did – before class, during recess, and after school. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it and I have very fond memories of kicking a ball around with my friends, even today.

Sure, my grades suffered but that wasn’t entirely due to time spent on the field. It was more because I really didn’t like opening a book and cramming facts and figures into my head.

Anyway, years later, sometimes I do wonder how I would have done – academically – if I’d applied myself to my studies more seriously. But that’s water under the bridge.

Back to the present.  Continue reading “Where’s my childhood?”

Capital offence. 26 charges. All dropped. Why?

The question of prosecutorial discretion, exercised by the Attorney General, has been in the news lately. For those who may not know what it is about, basically it means this: the AG has power to decide whether to charge someone involved in a crime, and what charge to administer to the person. It seems rather straightforward – but in recent times, his powers have been called into question. Or more accurately, the way the AG exercises this power is being called into question.

To delve into the legality of it would be a very technical exercise. So, I’ll spare readers this. But here’s a simple illustration: Continue reading “Capital offence. 26 charges. All dropped. Why?”

The irony in MOE’s good intentions

“If your child shows leadership and excels in non-academic areas, he is eligible for the Edusave Award for Achievement, Good Leadership and Service. The award is given based on his achievement in co-curricular activities and contribution to community services over a one-year period.” – Ministry of Education (MOE) website.

My Paper reported:

“The award will range from $200 to $500, depending on the student’s level of education. It will benefit up to 10,000 Singaporean students from early next year.

‘As we place more emphasis on holistic education and character development”, it is time for us to realign “our recognition framework,’ said Mr Heng [Swee Keat, Minister for Education].

Virtues such as resilience, tenacity, integrity, care and respect are among the values he highlighted during the debate.”

The award has been criticised in some areas for eroding the very values which the ministry is trying to inculcate in our students. The gripe perhaps, in particular, centers on presenting monetary rewards to students who show “care and concern” for others. In short, critics say this is perverting these values themselves. Continue reading “The irony in MOE’s good intentions”

I am volunteering for this. Will you?

“Sir, while we will do our best to ensure that the social safety net can provide help to the low-income, the elderly and the children, the government’s efforts alone will not be sufficient. We will need the involvement of the community. I cannot emphasise this enough. They can help to identify gaps in the system so that together, we can help plug it [sic].” – Minister of State (MOS) for MCYS, Mdm Halimah Yacob. Parliament, 9 March 2012.

Often, Singaporeans look to the government with accusing fingers, that it is not doing enough to help the needy. But if one goes through the new initiatives and improvements to various help schemes announced and explained by both the Minister for MCYS and his MOS, it is clear that the ministry has taken a comprehensive approach to handing out aid. And this is to be applauded.

Do read Mdm Halimah’s speech in full to see what her ministry is planning to do, going forward.

This article is not going to focus on what the government is going to do or can do. Instead, it is to ask ourselves – Singaporeans who care for the needy or who get upset that the government is not doing enough – what we ourselves can do and should do. Continue reading “I am volunteering for this. Will you?”

The 10-year old GEP boy who wants to be a gangster

I spent some time yesterday afternoon speaking with a 10-year old boy. He’s in primary 4 and is in the Gifted Education Programme (GEP). He loves to read and could bury himself in the library for hours. And mind you, he reads stuff like World War 2 (his favourite topic), history, science, etc. He would ask me about politics, about the Gov’t, opposition parties, why things are like that, why they’re not like this, etc.

He is a very smart kid, indeed. His thought process is very logical and rational – except that he seems more prone to wanting to subjucate others under his control. A mean streak, sort of. This has led to some problems in school for him – he doesn’t wanna do homework, hates quite a few people around him, and wants to be a bully or, in his words, “a gangster”. Continue reading “The 10-year old GEP boy who wants to be a gangster”

The authoritarianism of the Internet?

“Let’s face it, many of us in our lifetime will never achieve what Tin Pei Ling will do in her one-term as a Member-of-Parliament. Certainly not armchair critics who rant and rave but do nothing to help the less fortunate in society.”

On the Internet, it is anathema to say what the author above, Terence Lee, says, especially about one such as Ms Tin Pei Ling, PAP MP for Marine Parade GRC – and lightning rod for all and sundry during last year’s elections, and even now.

To praise her with such apparently unbridled enthusiasm exposes one to being flamed alive by netizens.

Similarly, I also wrote a report, in February, on Ms Tin’s MacPherson Cares fund scheme to help the needy. (Ms Tin is MP for the MacPherson precinct.) Shortly after, I received feedback from some who chided me for the report – for giving her undue and undeserved publicity, even though I explained that the scheme was one worthy of support. I mean, she is helping the elderly and the needy and I could not, for the life of me, figure out what could be so wrong with that. Continue reading “The authoritarianism of the Internet?”

Leave the Internet be

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim suggests two ways to ensure a “safe online environment for Singaporeans.” These are: encourage the online community to help develop an Internet code of conduct; and to promote through public education responsible behaviour on the Internet, targeting young people in particular.

On the surface, these sound good. After all, what is wrong in wanting a “safe environment”? And what is wrong with wanting young people to adopt “responsible behaviour” on the Internet? Nothing – except the methods which would be used and the reasons for wanting to do these.

I am not one for such coercion or control of people’s expression. I do recognise that there are those (people and instances) who do go overboard with criticisms and their actions online. I myself have been on the receiving end of these. Still, I am not in favour of having the online community devise a code of conduct. This is because such a code will be a meaningless endeavour and a waste of time and effort. It will be unenforceable, and ineffective.  Continue reading “Leave the Internet be”