Defending our youths from Mahbubani’s paranoia

ideal2“Many young Singaporeans are too wrapped up in their own interests and careers to play or even consider active roles in society and country,” said Bangkok-based The Nation newspaper in March 2001.

The report, titled “PM Goh scolds self-centred youths”, quoted how the then Singapore prime minister chided its younger members for being apathetic, a result of the youths never having known “a hostile environment.”

“They have thus never had to consider seriously how their society could be improved so that their own lives could be better,” said Mr Goh, who remains as Emeritus Senior Minister in the present government.

Indeed, the perceived lack of idealism among our youths has been a recurring concern of the government for a long time.

Three years after Mr Goh’s remarks, it was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s turn to exhort the youths to get involved. Continue reading “Defending our youths from Mahbubani’s paranoia”

Playing with semantics is not wise, NTUC Income

So, here’s the thing: while Rebecca Lim is being (rightly) castigated for the publicity stunt gone awry and refusing to apologise for her part in it, along comes the company behind it, with PR goons in tow, to try and explain away the awful thinking behind the ill-conceived mess.

First, there’s the NTUC Income’s chief marketing officer, Mr Marcus Chew, 41, who said the following:

“We did not set out to mislead anyone. We regret upsetting anyone over the weekend.”

Note: “We regret…” is not exactly an apology. But that’s another matter.

Pay attention to their first claim: “We did not set out to mislead anyone.” We’ll come to that in a moment.

What grates your insides is what NTUC Income’s head of strategic communications, Ms Shannen Fong, 39, said, when it was pointed out that most people would read Ms Lim’s original facebook post (which gave rise to the whole sham) as Ms Lim announcing her retirement from acting. Continue reading “Playing with semantics is not wise, NTUC Income”

Poverty simulation – nothing wrong with it

Poster from SICC website
Poster from SICC website

The reaction of some people online when news first broke that the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) was going to hold a poverty simulation exercise for its members was one of incredulity.

“How could one even simulate poverty?”, some asked. Others were aghast at how the exercise shows the chasm between the rich and poor, so much so that poverty had to be simulated for the well-off to understand.

But let’s hold the horses. Woah!

I think first of all, do we even know what “poverty simulation” is exactly? I suspect those who criticised it within minutes of the news reporting the event were just knee-jerking their reaction on social media.

Ok, so here are some facts about the poverty simulation exercise or – I’d prefer – programme. Continue reading “Poverty simulation – nothing wrong with it”

Recent court rulings & police shortcomings show system needs changes


In recent years, the actions of the enforcement agencies in Singapore have been called into question not just by the public, but also by the courts.

Such intervention by judges is welcome and is necessary to rein in the authorities’ sometimes over-enthusiastic application of the law.

Calls for the government to relook some of these legal provisions have been made consistently over the years, and in light of the courts’ recent decisions, it is worth looking at these again, and reiterate the need (and urgency) of putting them under the microscope of review. Continue reading “Recent court rulings & police shortcomings show system needs changes”

Boy’s death – a police review of procedures not enough

courtThe death of a 14-year old boy now puts the question of access to lawyers for an accused at the doorstep of Parliament.

The boy, a secondary three student, had apparently committed suicide after being interviewed by the police for an alleged offence of “molestation”. That was the offence he is deemed to have committed, according to the police statement released on 1 February 2016. (See here.)

The police also said that it “will review and address” the issue of whether “to allow an appropriate adult to be present when a young person is interviewed.”

First, let us be clear about one thing: no one knows exactly why the boy took his own life. Any suggestions on the reasons are at best speculation at this point in time, given that police investigations are still ongoing; and that eventually the coroner would also have to weigh in on the matter.

So, let us hold off on the finger pointing, especially that directed at the police. It would be most unfair to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the police officers involved. Continue reading “Boy’s death – a police review of procedures not enough”