Cheers to PM Lee and Khaw Boon Wan – for now

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement that singles may be allowed to buy HDB flats directly from the HDB is something which I am particularly happy about. And many other singles would too, I suspect. (I had brought up this issue with a minister several weeks ago and he had said yes, the MND is taking a look at it.)

For the longest time, we singles have felt marginalised, discriminated against – all because we do not conform to what the state deems fit to qualify for a flat. We felt like we were being treated no better than even permanent residents. (By the way, two PR siblings can also buy a resale HDB flat, I am told. But I can’t find any confirmation of this. If you know where I can find such stipulations, please let me know.)

Of course, we could buy from the resale market – but only if you’re 35 and above. (See HDB rules for singles here.) In any case, with the mad escalation of resale prices in the last few years, purchasing from the open market is beyond us. So, we’re left to live with parents, or to rent a room which itself is costly.  Continue reading “Cheers to PM Lee and Khaw Boon Wan – for now”

Whatever we decide is what we will leave our children

“Most Singaporeans understand the need of immigrants and foreign workers, and accept them… many have concerns because the influx has caused real problems and I completely understand this. But I am worried by some of the nasty views expressed, especially online, and anonymously.” – PM Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally speech 2012.

MP Irene Ng posted the following on her Facebook page shortly after:

“As Singaporeans, what kind of people do we want to become? Decent, generous and warm, or angry, ugly and hateful? The choice is for us to make. Ultimately it is up to us how big-hearted Singapore will be.” Continue reading “Whatever we decide is what we will leave our children”

An eventful year

Come 1 September, publichouse.sg (PH) will be one year old. For me personally it has been a very eventful year – one where we made a small difference, and one which took me to many different places in Singapore and allowed me to meet with various groups of people. 2012 also opened up doors for me and gave me new opportunities.

It has been a year when I met the poor in rental flats, reported on court cases, participated in forums (as a panelist for the first time), got nominated for an award, engaged young students in the schools, covered an election, helped get a provision in law struck off, got a job handling http://ipscommons.sg, started http://publichouse.sg with several friends, got involved in an ongoing forum, met with ministers and MPs, participate in the campaign to remove the mandatory death penalty, writing for Yahoo Singapore and InSing, and currently working on some new projects as well.

It has been, in all honesty, the most fruitful and fulfilling year of my life. Continue reading “An eventful year”

Time to stop cheering and step up to assist M Ravi

“Further, we also find that there is an arguable case on the constitutionality of s377A that ought to be heard in the High Court. We emphasise that our finding of the existence of a real controversy to be determined in this case arises from a combination of two factors. Firstly, Tan was at the outset arrested, investigated, detained and charged exclusively under s377A. This squarely raises the issue as to whether Tan’s initial detention and prosecution were “in accordance with law” within the meaning of Art 9(1) as s377A was the only provision relied on by the investigators and the Prosection at all material times prior to the substitution of the s377A charge with the s294(a) charge. The subsequent substitution of the s377A charge only after the Application was filed could not excise any earlier “wrong” which might have been committeed vis-a-vis Tan.

“Secondly, there is a real and credible threat of prosecution under s377A. Our finding that there is a real controversy to be adjudicated in this case removes the anomaly referred to at [15] above as now, Tan, an applicant who has locus standi based on a finding of an arguable violation of his constitutional rights, will be allowed to vindicate his rights before the courts.

“The principle of access to justice calls for nothing less.”

– Court of Appeal, 21 August 2012.

The judgement by the Court of Appeal is a significant one, in case you’re wondering. I am sure many will be writing about it. In fact, some already have. (See here and here.) So, I will not go into that. Suffice it to say that I hope whoever the High Court judge is who will be hearing the case will have the courage to do what is right. This article, instead, will make a plea – a plea for a friend. He is the man who has been fighting for Singaporeans’ rights for 10 years now. He is the lawyer behind the recent by-election case, the mandatory death penalty case, and the same lawyer behind this s377A one as well. Continue reading “Time to stop cheering and step up to assist M Ravi”

The expendable foreign worker

 

The above news story, which you can read in full here, is how perhaps most of us view the lower-skilled, lower-paid foreign worker – they are expendable. And I mean, literally so – as the above case shows. It is no wonder then that non-governmental organisations are and have been calling for tougher laws and serious enforcement of existing laws to protect these workers.

The Government recently announced some changes in law to mete out tougher sentences for those who flout the rules.

But, as activists say, this is not enough – and the example of the above story proves this. What really needs to be done is enforcement which at times is severely lacking. It is a point raised by Straits Times writer, Radha Basu, a few days ago. Continue reading “The expendable foreign worker”

Damn those sacred cows

So, here’s the thing. The Senior Minister of State for Education, Lawrence Wong, is speaking the same language Dr Vivian Balakrishnan did 10 years ago. Mr Wong is even using the exact same terms Dr Balakrishnan, who chaired the Remaking Singapore committee in 2002, did.

“There will be no sacred cows…there will have to be a systematic willingness to go through all policies and programmes we’re about to embark on.” – Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on Remaking Singapore, Straits Times Feb 15 2002.

“Certainly when we look at policies, there should not be OB markers or sacred cows. We are prepared to look at a broad range of policies, depending on what’s important to Singaporeans,” Mr Wong, who is part of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat’s new “committee of younger ministers tasked to take a fresh look at current policies”, was reported to have said. Continue reading “Damn those sacred cows”

Beautiful places in Singapore #1

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Singapore has been on a fast-paced development curve in the last few decades. In the last one especially, our city seems to be on an unrelenting race to build up towards the sky. Have you notice that you hardly are able to see the sky when you are in the heartlands?

But I am glad that there are developments of the parks – such as Bishan Park and the Punggol Waterway Park, which are quite lovely. Do pay a visit if you have time. They well worth it. Continue reading “Beautiful places in Singapore #1”