On Lee Kuan Yew and what he said

On Lee Kuan Yew and what he said

A few loose thoughts on Lee Kuan Yew, who found himself in the spotlight again as National Day came around. Just to be clear, I haven’t read his new book, but have read snippets of it online. 1. First off, I find it odd that Channel NewsAsia/TODAYonline uses the title “former Minister Mentor” to address Mr Lee, while The Straits Times and foreign media use “former Prime Minister”. The latter is more appropriate because it recognises the fact that he was once the leader of the country (not to mention the longest serving). What his last cabinet position was is secondary….

Free My Internet

In support of #FreeMyInternet

As you are well aware by now, various members of the Singapore blogging community have organised themselves as #FreeMyInternet to protest and petition against Media Development Authority’s new licensing regime for news websites. While not part of the group, I have signed the petition in support. There will also be a symbolic ‘blackout’ (assuming it works on your device) on this blog on 6 June, but you can still access the contents. Personally, I won’t go as far as to suggest that the government is looking to clamp down on websites such as The Online Citizen (TOC) and TR Emeritus…

fill in the blanks

A gangster asking for protection money

There was such a huge outcry when the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced the licensing regulations for news websites that you would think they are shutting down the Internet entirely. But everyone is justifiably worried. The new rules are not only broad-based, they are also vague, arbitrary and potentially limitless. Why 50,000 unique IPs? Why $50,000? Why these ten websites but not others? It looks like a bunch of civil servants got together in a meeting room and pluck some numbers out of thin air. They might as well charge $49,999 and tell us it’s a half-price early bird discount….

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…

Low budget production

Statement on AIM (Ho Pin gag’em style)

The most eagerly anticipated PAP statement of the year—okay we are just two days into it—is finally out. Like a true star worthy of a Psy tribute band, Dr Teo Ho Pin has kept us waiting, clamouring, salivating over the festive holiday weekend at what juicy details he has to offer on the AIM transaction. Without going into a hair-splitting operative, I don’t find anything glaringly dubious in the numbers presented in the statement; perhaps more astute readers will. A missing piece of the puzzle was what AIM gets paid after the initial one year period, and the answer is…

Vox populi and the vocal online community

Vox populi and the vocal online community

This is a strange one from Mr Leslie Koh of The Straits Times (Online voices = vox populi?). But, you know, stranger things have been written in this newspaper. Perhaps it was a slow news day in the holiday season. The only part that I do agree with Mr Koh is that social media does not represent the voice of the majority, nor do I believe it claims to be. As he rightly pointed out, the number of Singaporeans who are active on political and social forums is very, very small. I doubt even 10% of Singaporeans regularly visit websites…

"How do I account for all these?"

Muddy Waters vs Olam + Temasek: An issue that warrants a look

As a writer, I relish the many ways I can pun the headline when commenting on an issue such as this. As a Singaporean, I’m not sure this is the time to get all nationalistic about it. Here’s a summary if you haven’t been following the saga. It started on November 19 when California-based research firm Muddy Waters and its owner Carson Block raised serious questions at a London investment conference about the accounting practices of Singapore-listed commodities trader Olam. Likening it to Enron, Muddy Waters accuses Olam of accounting gaffes and running a high risk of failure, and is adamant that…

Gotcha indeed

Headlines and defamation suits

This is a week where headlines themselves become the subject of headlines. In this latest article in a series with Yahoo!, Law Minister Shanmugam clarified on what the government will or will not sue on. I don’t remember anyone from the PAP being so up front about this, so it was quite refreshing to read what he has to say about it. Most reassuring of all, he confirmed that it’s perfectly fine to called the PAP a bunch of incompetent, anti-Singaporeans idiots, because that’s just an opinion. Yes, go ahead and knock yourselves out. It’s not okay, on the other hand,…

Not akan datang

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues — Ban and blame (ourselves)

I fully agree with Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim that the ban on Sex.Violence.FamilyValues is “not a step backwards”. After all, was there any step forward to begin with? A play-safe mentality has always been the MDA’s trademark. Notwithstanding that, it still surprised me that 20 out of 24 members in the Films Consultative Panel (FCP), which the MDA had consulted on, felt the film should be banned. The remaining four thought a R21 rating as appropriate. This panel purportedly comprises “members of the public, representing different age groups, races, religions and professions, including those with knowledge about the film industry”. Yet,…

Quest for responsible journalism

Maria Almenoar and the $7,000 hole she dug

I thought this $7,000 cabby episode was overblown but short-lived. Now it looks like things have taken a new twist and the ‘journalist’ who wrote the first report has dug herself a deeper hole. To begin with, we must be more discerning and never take such news reports too seriously. A big dose of salt at hand, if you will, when reading about how much money some people boast of making. For as long as I remember, The Sunday Times has this series on the money management habits of some random, apparently successful people they interviewed. Investing and money making…

The joke's on us

Chong Pang cat programme? You’re having us!

Our local papers may be controlled by the government, as we saw in an earlier post on the release of the tell-all book by former ST Editor Cheong Yip Seng, but that hasn’t stopped our fine journalists from exercising creativity in manoeuvring around the OB markers and even expressing their great sense of humour. Imagine my delight at spotting this wonderful piece of satire on TODAYonline about the introduction of a pilot cat programme in Chong Pang. Hilarious stuff — and it’s not even April Fools! Mr Cheong must be proud. Chong Pang residents can own one cat per flat Good news for feline…

Permission to speak, sir!

Permission to speak, sir!

Singaporeans live in a controlled environment. Most of us go about minding our own business without thinking much of it. Spare a thought, however, for our civil servants and journalists dying to speak out, especially those who endured a 30-40 year career to do so. New guidelines from a Public Service Division circular last week have lifted the gag order on civil servants so that they can take part in the national conversation. The PSD said this is “in the spirit of the (Our SG Conversation)”, so that civil servants can “engage in meaningful discussions on most government policies and share their…