Still chewing over the population debate

Still chewing over the population debate

I’m guessing Grace Fu hasn’t read the Institute of Policy Studies’ commentary  by the four economists from the Economic Society of Singapore, despite the Today paper finally giving it coverage two weeks after it was first published on 8 February and widely shared on social media. One of the writers, Donald Low of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, had earlier condemned the Population White Paper for its lack of scholarship rigour, adding that, if it were a term paper, he would have absolutely no qualms failing it. Or perhaps the civil servants under Ms Fu are unwilling…

Pawn Shop

Pawn alley at Clementi Central

I am back in London after spending the last two and a half weeks in Singapore. It’s been pretty hectic catching up with friends and families and sorting out other matters in the short time I had, which explains the lack of postings here! During my time back, I was at Clementi Central on an almost daily basis, either to eat at the hawker centre there, to pick up some necessities from the odds-and-ends shops, or simply to visit the local Singapore Pools outlet for my ticket to eternal financial well-being and material happiness via the $10 Million Hong Bao…

Ten Sticks and One Rice

Ten Sticks and One Rice – A Singaporean graphic novel

We had a lot of talk last week in parliament on what makes a true Singaporean core. Well, nothing beats a picture that paints a thousand words, and all the better when you have an entire book of them and a good story that goes along with it. I would like to recommend this local Singaporean-written, drawn and published graphic novel Ten Sticks and One Rice, which tells the story of a man’s journey from a fast growing local society in the 1970s through to present day Singapore. Ten Sticks and One Rice is the life account of a man…

Hokkien Me

The last of the Tans, Ongs and Lims

I am in Singapore these two weeks to spend Chinese New Year with our families and to meet up with friends, and right now I’m writing this at 5 am in the morning. I’ve been here a few days already and I’m still jet lagged. It has never been this bad before on my return trips from the UK — so I must put this down to age! Over dinner with my family the other day, I had a minor shock when my brother told us that his baby son is registered with a Hanyu Pinyin surname. There is no trace at all on his record of…

You better work (to support our old)

How to reduce the need for 6.9 million population

Besides encouraging Singaporeans to have more babies, we should also look into ways to cope with a low old-age support ratio. Here are some suggestions to increase the workforce from within the core group of citizens and lessen our dependency on foreign care workers. Some of these ideas are not new and have been discussed by others. Reducing National Service length — Imagine if NS is cut by one year, which would translate into a whole cohort of male Singaporeans entering the workforce earlier by a year. Promoting apprenticeships in place of university studies — An university education is important…

Population White Paper is unpopular and unsustainable

Population White Paper is unpopular and unsustainable

I have yet to read an online commentary that is receptive to the Population White Paper. Most don’t even get past the dreadful 6.9 million figure. While the government tries to convince us of this need for further population explosion and explain how this can be managed with an expanded rail network, new housing estates and more green spaces, nobody is listening because we lapse into an uncontrollable fit when any mention of an increase is brought up. Our leaders may regard the negativity as irrational and what they are proposing as inconvenient but unavoidable, but we should ask if…

Hail the victor

Punggol East sends signal of zero tolerance to PAP in by-election

Huat ah! Congratulations to Lee Li Lian and what a victory this is for the Workers’ Party in the Punggol East by-election. Chua Mui Hoong calls this a tipping point in the political landscape and a harbinger of more to come, but some may argue that the tipping point is already reached at General Election 2011 with WP’s victory in Aljunied GRC. But she is right that Punggol East has a demographic profile of the future, and the ruling People’s Action Party relies heavily on support from the baby boomer generation that can only diminish in coming years. Indeed, this by-election result is one…

Section 377A: A lesson from history?

Section 377A: A lesson from history?

As we head into a by-election to start off the year 2013, it is fitting to remind ourselves that exactly a hundred years ago, women were still fighting for their right to vote. The women’s suffrage movement lasted many years, and was at its peak in the 1910s. Eventually, the UK finally granted women partial rights in 1918, followed by full rights in 1928. The US had the Nineteen Amendment ratified in 1921. Today, nobody in his sound mind would dare proclaim that it is wrong to allow women to vote. Yet, back then, opposition against this right was very…

Ingredients to more babies

I got you babe, in our marriage & parenthood package

The recent flurry of announcements from the government, ranging from property stability policies and new MRT lines to birth rate boosting measures, shows why we care so much about elections, even if it’s in a constituency with only 31,649 voters. When PAP starts dishing out carrots on a national scale, despite insisting that local issues are what concern Punggol East voters, it is every Singaporean who stands to benefit. On the whole, the freshly announced marriage and parenthood package is a good move on a wide-ranging scale. It won’t do miracles to our abysmal birth rate, but is a step…

Punggol East candidate says: Let them eat bak kwa!

Punggol East candidate says: Let them eat bak kwa!

[Warning: This is pure satire] SINGAPORE: The four candidates vying for the Punggol East parliamentary seat will be campaigning hard over the next nine days to capture votes from some 31,600 residents. The four are: Dr Koh Poh Koon from the People’s Action Party (PAP), Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam from the Reform Party (RP), Mr Desmond Lim from the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and Ms Lee Li Lian from the Workers’ Party (WP). Already, residents recounted the drama today at Rivervale Plaza, a hotspot for campaign activities where Mr Lim was the first to arrive this morning. “Dearest residents of Punggol…

Spoilers Alert

What’s the frequency, Kenneth and Desmond?

It’s confirmed then that Kenneth Jeyaretnam and Desmond Lim are set to spoil the fun that we are all hoping for: a straight fight between PAP and WP in the Punggol East by-election. I never understood the frequency These two men are clearly on different wavelengths from the electorate. Mr Jeyaretnam claimed that “an overwhelming proportion of people welcomed us to Punggol East, and they knew us and they were glad to see us contesting”, yet it is obvious from social media and online forums that supporters of the opposition cause are overwhelmingly against either of them running for the…

Come together, right now

I echo the words of many by saying “Well done!” to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Dr Chee Soon Juan. I have great hopes for SDP in future elections, but as clear to all, the Punggol East by-election is simply not their time. Frankly, I was really worried that they will lose it (not the election, but their mind) again, which was why I urged Workers’ Party (WP) to quickly announce their candidate in my previous post to show SDP that WP won’t entertain any nonsense from them. It doesn’t matter if this was SDP’s intention all along and if the…