The AIM of serving the public’s interests

tpi

Looks like the CPIB did the trick. More accurately, the mention of the “CPIB” did the trick.

The childish bickering between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) was becoming a national embarrassment. It was not unlike quarrelling children at a playground pointing fingers and making funny faces at each other.

So, it was good that Ms Lim stopped the unbecoming behaviour in its aimless track when she challenged the PAP to report the WP to the CPIB for any transgressions the PAP might think the WP was guilty of. The PAP has since not said a word in reply. In fact, the PAP has not responded at all. Continue reading “The AIM of serving the public’s interests”

Government’s silence on ethnic group’s involvement in politics

hokawei

In April, the Government accused Mr Nizam Ismail, the former chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals, of allegedly “[pushing] for racial politics”.

In a letter to the Straits Times forum page, Mr Ho Ka Wei, the Director of Corporate Communications, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), explained the danger in this:

“If any ethnic community were to organise itself politically, other communities would respond in kind. This would pull our different communities apart and destroy our racial harmony.” Continue reading “Government’s silence on ethnic group’s involvement in politics”

My email to MOM Minister about accusation on MOM’s blog

hiddenslums

In April, I informed the Ministry for Manpower (MOM) about several dormitories at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace which housed some foreign workers, in rather deplorable conditions. On 14 May, the MOM published a blog post about this, and made some accusations about me.

The following is my email to the Acting Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin, sent to him on 15 May 2013, in response to that MOM blog article.

It is copied to Ms Farah Abdul Rahim (Press Secretary, MOM) and Ms Chin Yen Eu (Customer Service Officer).

Dear Minister,

I would like to commend MOM and its officers for investigating the conditions in which some of the foreign workers at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace lived in, and for instructing their employers “to move their workers to proper housing within the next two to four weeks.”

I am, however, puzzled by the article by “Yusri” on the MOM blog, titled: “Behind-the-Scenes of Operation ‘K‘”. In particular, this part where he wrote:

“Recently, a blogger who had highlighted some possible dormitory violations publicly questioned why we needed such specific information. When asked to give more information, the blogger asked us to refer to his earlier blog post. However, the blog post only had the name of the street, where other dormitories and residential premises could be found. Without specific addresses, it would be time consuming and unproductive for MOM officers to expend resources to check every residence or unit along the same street. The blogger knew the details but chose not to share it. And when he eventually did, he chose to publicly mock the process. It was unfortunate, but we appreciate the fact that the information was finally shared with us.”

“Yusri” did not name the blogger in question. I presume that he is referring to me, and thus my response which follows is based on this presumption. Neither did he name where the “possible dormitory violations” were. I presume that he is referring to those at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace. Continue reading “My email to MOM Minister about accusation on MOM’s blog”

Indranee’s curious claims

TODAY, 13 May 2013
TODAY, 13 May 2013

“Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah said the priority system for children going through Primary One registration is not linked to the government.”TODAY, 13 May 2013.

The Senior Minister was responding to a suggestion by Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Lina Chiam, to abolish the primary school registration priority scheme for community leaders which she says is linked with the government.

Ms Indranee added that community leaders who get priority include those serving the Residents’ Committee, Neighbourhood Committee, Citizen’s Consultative Committee, Community Club Management Committee and the Community Development Council.

Ms Indranee’s statement that this is not linked to the government is a curious one for several reasons.

All the organisations she mentioned fall under the purview of the People’s Association (PA). You can view them here on the PA website. The PA, in turn, falls under the purview of the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), as mentioned here in the Straits Times in December 2012:

“THE board of management of the People’s Association (PA) has been reappointed for another three-year term, with Mr Lawrence Wong replacing Mr Chan Chun Sing following the restructuring of their ministries last month.

“Mr Wong is the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, whose ministry oversees the organisation tasked to promote racial harmony and social cohesion in Singapore.”

The Board of the PA includes 5 ministers (including PM Lee as its chairman), one former minister as its advisor, and one current PAP MP. Continue reading “Indranee’s curious claims”

Dear police, keep the cameras to yourself

A pair of policemen with videocam trailing Alfian all night
A pair of policemen with videocam trailing Alfian all night

The last time I saw so many police officers at a Hong Lim Park event must have been some time back involving the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). You know how paranoid the police are when it comes to the SDP. So I was a little surprised to see them turn up in numbers – I counted at least 20 of them, in plainclothes – at Speakers’ Corner on Sunday where Jolovan Wham had organised a solidarity with M’sians event. The only other speaker besides Jolovan was Alfian Sa’at. Continue reading “Dear police, keep the cameras to yourself”

Giving us a voice

gilbertThe past one month had been a tough one for Gilbert Goh. I’d meet with him occasionally to chat about the May Day protest at Hong Lim Park because I wanted to give him my personal support and encouragement. I know personally that organising such an event takes a huge amount of work – and you also have to deal with high expectations from the public. This is especially so, following the very successful first event.

We both didn’t quite know what to expect, really. We were talking of – at the most – perhaps a thousand people turning up for this second protest. So, you can imagine our surprise when some 5,000 or so showed up on Wednesday.

I am personally very happy for Gilbert because he went through quite a bit before the event.

First, there were the criticisms, even from some in civil society, of him being supposedly xenophobic. This particularly disappointed and saddened me because I’ve always felt that we in civil society should stand together in such times, seeing how hard it is for each of us as it is to try and do what we do. In any case, I think that accusation of xenophbia should now be put to rest.

Gilbert also faced extra pressure from Nparks which, quite inexplicably, insisted on him applying for a police permit for the event because, Nparks said, a permit was needed if foreigners were involved. And even after Gilbert told them that no foreigners would be involved, Nparks still insisted on him applying for a permit. In the end, Gilbert decided not to comply. And he is right not to as the rules of Speakers’ Corner do not require him to. Continue reading “Giving us a voice”

Personal capacity, no?

The chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals said about Nizam Ismail, its former director, that “it was difficult for Mr Nizam to separate what he did in his personal capacity from what he did as an AMP director.”

He was referring to Mr Nizam’s participation as a speaker in the population White Paper protest in February at Speakers’ Corner, and also for speaking at a Workers’ Party forum several weeks ago.

Can anyone who holds a position such as Mr Nizam’s also be able to speak in his personal capacity? Apparently, he can, in fact – going by the disclaimers which PAP ministers and MPs themselves use when they indeed speak in their personal capacities at public events.

So, the obvious question is: where is the distinction between personal and not-personal? PAP ministers and MPs, from time to time, have claimed to be speaking only in their personal capacities – “my personal view” – even when they speak about national issues or issues which would affect a large portion of Singaporeans.

Here are three examples:

Khaw Boon Wan, 2006 (on nursing homes for elderly):

“My personal view is, our land is expensive. But we have nearby neighbours in Johore, Batam and Bintan. The elderly want to reach their doctors within half to one hour…”

K Shanmugam, 2002 (on race relations):

“I would add that these are only my personal views, and others may well disagree….”

Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, 2012:

“Comrades, my personal belief is that the middle class plays a crucial role in driving the heart of our nation’s social, economic and political processes.”

So, PAP members can speak in their personal capacities while others cannot?