Short Takes (March ~ May 2013)

There’s quite a bit of things happening in the past two months since my last “random discourse” post on Hate-The-Chua… erm, I mean Heather Chua. I simply am too lazy to put them down in words as I am either lazing at home or walking around parts of Singapore playing Ingress. I have finally gotten my lazy ass to write down my thoughts on some of the recent events.

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May Day Protest on the Population White Paper

Unlike the one on February 16, I gave this one a miss. Not that I have lost interest but rather I personally felt there is no meaning whatsoever to keep nagging at the same thing again and again. To be frank, back in 2006 when my friend Jon asked me what I think about a larger population in Singapore, I said it wasn’t a bad idea as it might create more opportunities in Singapore, as an increase in domestic demand may allow some people to run their own business and provide services and goods. It might actually allow some Singaporeans to be bosses of their own, though not necessarily millionaires, and seek their own future without needing to worry about employment or the lack of paper qualifications. I hadn’t at that time consider the problems that is associated with population growth – i.e. demand in housing, over crowding, strain on the public transport etc.

What is the point I am trying to make here? The point is that I personally felt all the unhappiness isn’t so much about the 6.9 million population figure itself, but has a lot to do with how we felt about the here and now. That is why back in 2006 I was for growing the population but I will not be singing the same tune today. Nevertheless, I am not surprised that a lot of that unhappiness may simply evaporate if the outcome we desired is achieve. That primarily includes fixing the following:

  • Public Transportation – easing the congestion and eliminating (not just reducing) the breakdowns;
  • Housing – doing something about the housing supply and its affordability, and also the perception of diminishing personal space;
  • Employment – taking a serious look at the competition at the PMET level (and not the cheap labour) and also do something about the unfairness and discrimination against Singaporeans (real or perceived) in employment;
  • City Redevelopment – looking at how the rapid development has impacted the drainage system and stop blaming it on nature (e.g. climate change) for the flooding; and
  • Income growth – all of us accepts that inflation is an inescapable evil, but resentment grows when income cannot keep pace with paying for the same necessities

We may all argue about how we want to achieve that outcome we desired, as long as that outcome is beneficial to Singapore. However, we must also accept that not everyone has something meaningful or sensible to say to take our country down a better path even though we feel all of us should all be given a say in deciding on how to work towards that outcome. Unfortunately, the ruling party does not seem to be doing very well in listening to as many people as possible to have a better idea how that outcome can be achieved. Resentment thus continue to build because we cannot agree on the steps it is taking to achieve it, or even worse, perceived that they are doing nothing to change the statues quo.

So the question now is, what are we going to do about it and whether what we do is going to be effective in achieving the outcome we desired. I personally felt there is no longer any reason to waste more time in protesting at Hong Lim and listening to some speakers there who may have agendas of their own.

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Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew arrested for alleged sedition

Let me just categorically say, I think the Leslie Chew (aka Demoncratic) comics stinks.

I often see these comics reposted and I generally ignored them. I also keep my opinion of them to myself even though my gut feel is that he is heading down a path of confrontation with the authorities. Whether it was for martyrdom, or to raise his profile even further, the authorities would simply bring more awareness to his garbage by taking him to task. The best action the authorities could take may actually be to ignore him. Sadly, the preemptive stand taken here by the law enforcers is not universal. A lady friend who was harassed repeatedly online made a police report was told they can’t take anything action until she is harmed. I would clearly love to see the police to be more proactive in protecting individual citizens instead of swatting flies like these.

The Demoncratic comics are popular among those leaning towards the opposition because they say some of the things that perhaps some of us only discuss privately among our friends, or even express some of our most angry thoughts. Other than that, it is nothing new or inspiring. It does nothing in encouraging us into thinking about how to achieve a different outcome from what is portrayed. At best, it only increase the anger we already felt about certain matters. Perhaps, the author felt this is a way to fan the stove so that the fire of anger and resentment doesn’t burn out before the next general elections.

Anyway, I have no clue whether this Leslie Chew person is Singaporean, or Malaysian since at times I see on his comics his need to go back to Malaysia. Regardless whether he was an ex-Malaysian or now naturalised, at times I can’t help but felt he is a foreign agent provocateur. (That does not mean I agree with sticking sedition charges on Leslie Chew, however!)

If Leslie Chew is an ex-Malaysian, I must say I felt a little ironical since the Singapore government brought this upon itself with its many years of liberal immigration policies. On the bright side, I will not only take comfort that not the support from new citizens is not that one-sided, but that Leslie Chew has more or less integrated into our society.

Click to see Full Size

From what I gathered, Leslie Chew was arrested for one particular comic he made which I have taken the liberty to repost here (the disclaimer which Leslie Chew uses allows me to do so without permission). Well, I personally felt there isn’t an issue for his comic to repeat what a politician has said because it would be factual. No one can disagree that the statements made against the Malay community – both implicit and explicit – harms whatever efforts we have made towards our social integration. But, it is another matter entirely when I labels that person and government as being racist and the problem arises when Leslie made those statements in the comic which I have marked out with red boxes. Regardless whether his allegations are true or not, can we really expect the government not to respond? Above which, is this comic made with a genuine interest or concern for our fellow Malays or simply to make them even more unhappy (if not angry)?

That said, no matter how much I disagree with the methods of Leslie Chew and how much I dislike his comics, I disagree with charging him for sedition. The government cannot and should not decide for us how to think. While I may feel this particular comic strip does somewhat incite anger against the government or a particular person – and as a non Malay I also feel somewhat uneasy – I still have enough confidence in my fellow Malay citizens not to over-react.

It’s high time the Singapore government allows the citizens to prove they have grown up.

~ * ~

MND review gave AIM deal all-clear:

Was anyone expecting a different outcome? I wasn’t. I was however thoroughly disappointed that no new crap to be cooked up to justify this. The only thing that was new was that there was “a different understanding” of the execution of the termination clause in 2011 by the then-Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Action Information Management (AIM). In short, it is all a misunderstanding.

It is clear to me the stand of the ruling party has not change a single bit from the day Teo Ho-Pin released his statement. It’s the same old crap that everything is above the board, no money’s been lost etc. To quote a friend of mine: ” Looks like the AIM to disregard integrity and ethics, so long as it is not illegal within the framework of law, has been achieved. “

The ruling party definitely knows as well as some of us the difference between “legal” and “right”. There are things which can be legal, but might not be right. There are things which are right, but not legal. But the perception it has given in this review is that as long as it is legal, then it must be right. Many are quick to accept that, and even go so far to say it is no different from what the Workers’ Party [WP] has done to appoint one of their own member-owned firm to manage their town councils (see below).

On the surface, yes. But the fact is that the FMSS (FM Solutions and Services Pte Ltd) has a website. Can we say the same about the shady, and even dodgy AIM whereby it declined to give details of its track record and business dealing according to the Straits Times?

Most of us would have a really hard time trying to find information about AIM on the Internet, not to mention even a rudimentary search online in directories like the Green Book or even the Yellow Pages revealed nothing. Regardless of whether FMSS was owned by a WP member, there is also the question whether FMSS was fully financed by the WP as compared to AIM. In truth, whatever that many felt was wrong with AIM has very little to do with it being a $2 company and that its directors are ex-PAP MPs, but the very fact that AIM itself also gave no confidence to anyone who even bothered to try and look at the entire matter objectively.

The reaction from this one person shows how easily some people are taken in by the concept of “legal equal right”. The ruling party clearly knows this as well, and it probably believe that the majority will be taken in to let this matter pass. It must be immensely pleased that some even turned it around to attack the WP.

Here’s some news for the ruling party. Not all of us are so daft, and the opinion that just because it is legal doesn’t make it right is not limited for the pro-opposition on social media. The silent majority is no longer necessarily on your side anymore. There used to be a time when I believe the Internet community does not represent general sentiments and that the opposition supporters are simply more vocal online. It is no longer so when I start hearing it from people whom I normally would avoid having a discussion about politics and current affairs now taking the initiative to not only talk to me about these things, but actually agreeing with some of my views.

Remember Mas Selamat. This matter will only return and bite even harder in the next election. Some of us are not that forgetful.

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