A troubling question

After days of being criticised for not issuing any Stop-Work Orders for construction workers, especially foreign workers, two ministers – Ng Eng Hen, the head of the Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee, and Tan Chuan Jin, Acting Manpower Minister, together with the deputy secretary general of the NTUC, Heng Chee How – paid a visit to a construction site on Monday.

It is reported here on TODAY:


[Incidentally, interesting to note that the headlines say “ministries planning for worst-case scenario”. The original Haze Task Force was formed in 1994 and has thus been around for almost 20 years. One would think that “planning” for worst-case scenarios would have been done by now.]

The ministers had also conducted a press conference on the same day. The Acting Manpower Minister outlined what employers and employees should do if conditions should deteriorate and the haze returns. You can read the report on these in TODAY and the Straits Times. Continue reading “A troubling question”

Joseph Ong vs Warren Fernandez – one arrested, the other not. Why?

The news reported today that the police has issued a “stern warning” to the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and the Straits Times’ editor, Warren Fernandez.

The warning is the result of a 5-month investigation by the police into the conduct of an election poll by the Straits Times during the Punggol East by-election in January this year which is against election laws in Singapore.

In 2011, blogger Joseph Ong from the Temasek Review blog asked readers to post their vote choices on the Facebook page of the blog on Polling Day during the general election that year. Ong was arrested 3 months later and eventually was also given a warning by the police.

The outcomes of the two apparently similar cases – both given warnings – are perhaps no surprise.

What is worth noting is, however, the fact that one was arrested while the other was not.


At the time of writing, the Attorney General Chamber’s website has not uploaded the warning letter it had given to Warren Fernandez. When the AGC similarly warned filmmaker Lynn Lee for “having committed contempt of court” in another case, it published a write-up about the matter. (See here.) Continue reading “Joseph Ong vs Warren Fernandez – one arrested, the other not. Why?”

Sorry, Attorney General, but Lynn Lee is not guilty of contempt of court

“The Attorney-General’s Chambers (“AGC”) has today issued a letter of warning to Ms Lee Seng Lynn (“Ms Lee”), through her counsel, for her having committed contempt of court,” the statement from the Attorney General, released on 14 June, said.

The AGC went on:

“AGC has completed its review of Ms Lee’s conduct and has assessed that Ms Lee’s conduct amounted to contempt of court by creating a real risk of prejudice to the criminal proceedings which were pending then.”

I am no lawyer but I know that a person can only be guilty of an offence, or a crime, if he is found guilty by the courts.

A person is not guilty of an offence or a crime just because someone else – even if he is the Attorney General – says so.

For the AGC to state so unequivocally that “Ms Lee’s conduct amounted to contempt of court” and to conclusively say there was indeed “contempt committed” is puzzling. Surely, the AGC itself should be aware that a person can only be found guilty by a court of law, and not by the AGC.

So, perhaps the AGC would like to explain further how Lynn Lee is guilty without her being charged, without being allowed to defend herself in court, and without the court finding her guilty. Continue reading “Sorry, Attorney General, but Lynn Lee is not guilty of contempt of court”

Instead of scoring political points, Vivian scores own goal

cartoon110 June 2013

Pritam Singh, vice-chairman, Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC):

“We invite the Minister to a dialogue with the elected members of AHPETC to settle any outstanding matters, on this or any other matter in future, should he wish to do so.”

11 June 2013:

Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources (MEWR):

“At this point in time, my advice to the Workers’ Party would be to clean up the place, apologise to the hawkers. After the place is clean, NEA and myself will be inspecting the quality of work. At that point, I’d be happy to invite Mr Low Thia Khiang to have a cup of coffee with me.”

I will not delve into the nitty gritty of the quarrel between the 2 sides on the matter of the cleaning of the Bedok hawker centre. I think it is a sorry state of affairs to see our parliamentarians engage in such petty quarrels over municipal matters. And there is a high likelihood that things were raised (by the Hawkers’ Association and the minister) to score political points against the Workers’ Party. Continue reading “Instead of scoring political points, Vivian scores own goal”

#FreeMyInternet – Internet regulations saga takes bizarre turn

In what is a bizarre turn of events, it now appears that the Acting Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin, will hold fort on Tuesday night’s Talking Point programme on Internet regulations.

On Saturday, Talking Point had announced that the CEO of the Media Development Authority (MDA), Koh Lin-Net, would be the guest.


On Monday night, however, Ms Koh was replaced by Mr Tan.


Some have explained that it is right for a minister to take the hot seat, as it were, because civil servants should not be put in the front line of policies made by politicians. There is some truth in that, certainly. Elected members must be held accountable. Continue reading “#FreeMyInternet – Internet regulations saga takes bizarre turn”

#FreeMyInternet – What will happen to the stories of the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed, the foreign workers, etc?


It has been a long while since I was so worked up about a government policy or a piece of legislation. I mean, really pissed. The last time I was so viscerally angry was perhaps 7 years ago – in 2006 when the local media’s reporting of the general election in May that year was one of the most atrocious state-managed media campaign against the opposition.

It was the main reason why a few friends and I started The Online Citizen (TOC) – which went ‘live’ on 1 December 2006.

7 years on, TOC has come a long – very long – way. It has gone through much struggle – both internally and externally – but has managed to survive. And it is for only one reason that it did – the selfless volunteer citizen journalists which believed in a cause.

And that cause is the right to speak, write, and express oneself freely. And this means a free media platform to tell stories which the mainstream media, shackled as it is like a lap dog to a pole by the Government, could not tell. Continue reading “#FreeMyInternet – What will happen to the stories of the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed, the foreign workers, etc?”

#FreeMyInternet – Don’t let unelected bureaucrats take away your voice




The blogging community will be organising a protest and online blackout next week against the new licensing requirements imposed by the Media Development Authority, which requires “online news sites” to put up a “performance bond” of $50,000 and “comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards”.

We encourage all Singaporeans who are concerned about our future and our ability to participate in everyday online activities and discussions, and to seek out alternative news and analysis,  to take a strong stand against the licensing regime which can impede on your independence. Continue reading “#FreeMyInternet – Don’t let unelected bureaucrats take away your voice”