Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why PAP will win the 2016 General Election

There are so many online posts questioning the current PAP governments views across a whole wide variety of topics and issues. And as you read through them, and the many comments people have written, you are left with the sense that here in Singapore there is an strong under current of opposition supporters. Indeed many of the online comments are quiet vocal in NOT voting PAP for the 2016 election.

So how does that impact the current PAP government?

To be honest it doesn’t impact them very much. Probably just sounds like a few mosquitos buzzing around, annoying if anything, but no real world damage.

And that’s pretty much why I am convinced that the PAP will win the next general election in 2016.

Because despite all of this online chatter, as long as it remains online and does not translate into open support for the opposition in the real world then it will have no impact. People need to get off their cyber soap box and contact the opposition party in their GRC to find out how they can help and support them in the run up to the next general election. People need to challenge the opposition to explain their polices and how they would run the country if they were elected. People need to stand up and find their real voice, because it’s only that real voice in the real world that will make a difference. How many have talked to their parents, friends, relatives about voting for the opposition and convinced them of the argument of a need for change.  How many opposition supporters have converted others to be the same. Great that everyone comments and shows that support online, but so what.

Lets be real here. If people are not doing that then no matter how much noise people make online it will have very little effect. In the last general election people voted for the PAP because “better the devil you know” and the change would bring a lot of problems.

Yes, a change in government is going to bring a huge upheaval to Singapore, any transition of power between parties will not be smooth. Any government that replaces the PAP will have it’s work cut out for it in trying to understand the PAP legacy. And for at least 2 years it’s going to be damn messy. BUT in the end if Singapore emerges stronger for that then it is so going to be worth it. And you can expect during that time the PAP will be reminding everyone of how while they were in power everything was so much better.

So, if people really don’t want a PAP government in 2016 then get out in the real world and start making a difference by working with and supporting your opposition parties. And if you are not prepared to do that then you might as well stay silent on the issue because all of those comments online are just noise without substance and useless in forming a new government in 2016.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Phone Zombies

I have a new hate, and it's something so annoying that I'm sure it's on everyone's list as well. What is is, well may you ask, it's the Phone Zombie. And what is a Phone Zombie, well its someone who walks aimlessly in public while busy staring intently at their phone, SMSing, face booking or who the hell knows what.

They are clueless about where they're going, who they're blocking, that they are getting in everyone's way or even how stupid they look. I mean seriously get a life.They are on auto-pilot with no clue that everyone is having to step out of their way to avoid the imminent collision.

Yes these are the Phone Zombies, the people who can't wait until they are actually standing still and out of everyone else's way before they whip out their phone. No way, for this special breed of idiots the phone never leases their sight. It is a permanent fixture as though surgically attached to their hand.

You can spot them a mile away of course, the group at the restaurant who are all sitting together while busy messaging each other at the same table, or the group at the bar all having a drink together while they are busy uploading selfies and totally ignoring the person beside them. Yes the Phone Zombie is often found in packs despite the fact that they have no social skills whatsoever.

These are the Phone Zombies, and their numbers are growing.

You have been warned!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hollywood Remakes

Dear Hollywood,

I've written before about abandoning the "lost film" footage movie format which is probably the worst movie format ever invented and totally unwatchable. Unfortunately it seems it still persists with more of these absolutely annoying movies being produced. Obviously some people didn't get the memo.

Anyway, I was wondering if I could add a couple more things to the list of not to do's while I was writting afresh so to speak.

Could I ask you to stop making remakes of a remake. I mean the orignal can always be improved upon it's true in many cases, but the remake of the remake (and is some cases of the remake again) just becomes too much.

Lets take the recent Godzilla movie as an example. While I can applud the CGI and special effects, that alone does not make a movie. The MOTU seemed to be based on the creatures from the movie "The Dark Crystal" and just looked stupid. I mean really stupid. And the sound track rather than adding to the tension and building up was nothing short of annoying. Lastly of course parts of the movie were so dark it was almost impossible to see what the hell was going on on the screen. What was the purpose of that, to show the distruction that two huge monsters can make? To make it more real even though it couldn't possibly EVER be real. I mean it was a total fail. Miserable, pathetic.

I could of course just keep going, but there's no point. If you haven't gotten the picture by now then you never will.

So what is it with Hollywood. Why are there so many remakes of a remake?. There are plenty of novels and stories out there that would make an exciting and interesting new movie. But no, instead of people having an original idea, God forbid, we are continually served a remake of the remake. Godzilla, Superman, Spiderman and so on.

I mean get a grip!

It's rediculous.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

NLB Refuses to Tango

The National Library Board (NLB) has come under intense fire from netizens after it decided to pull three children’s book titles off its shelves.

The books were removed after the board received complaints from a member of the public stating that the titles "And Tango Makes Three", "The White Swan Express" and "All About Our Families" were not in line with traditional family values. The first book depicts two male penguins acting like a couple raising a young penguin, the second talks about a single mother, adoption and a lesbian couple while the third features various family structures.

The NLB removed the books citing that they did not align to it's "Pro-Family" stance and despite petitions and feedback from local authors, who have since opted out of a number of NLB events in protest, as well as a wave of online criticism from citizens the NLB made the decision that it would  proceed to pulp the books in question.

Of course the "Pro-Family" stance is one that is being pursued by the Government in Singapore in an attempt to raise the declining birth rate. This on the whole makes the reaction of the NLB even more troubling because it's not policy they are reacting too (which could almost be forgiving since no one could blame them if that was the case). In fact the books in question are not even banned in Singapore and are available for purchases through a number of outlets over the counter already which makes the NLB’s reaction even more extreme not to mention unreasonable.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim is reported to have written on his Facebook that "NLB’s decision was guided by community norms. Public libraries serve the community and it is right that they give consideration to community norms. The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about. This approach is shared between all public agencies dealing with the education and care of young Singaporeans"

In my view while one cannot argue community norms, it is the people in power, the government, that should be ensuring that those same community norms cover all of the community and that there is no discrimination on any basis. For any member of the government or indeed any public figure to hide behind the phrase “community norm” is no longer acceptable. The term "Pro-Family" could be a very positive and powerful statement when it's all inclusive. And if we intend to continue to build a society based on "Equality" then it needs to be.

Doing nothing leaves the door’s open for those radical elements of society who can use those same unchallenged “community norms” to push their own agenda. It's no secret that those same camps are extremely anti-homosexual and have actively been pursing an agenda of discrimination continually striving to have their views (which are based on religious belief) accepted as the only community norm. They succeeded in having these books removed from the NLB, and as disturbing as the NLB removing and pulping the books in question may be, that is even more terrifying.

We are suppose to live in a secular state with a separation of state and religion but it seems to me lately that the lines are getting very blurred.

In the meantime here's one of the authors responses to recent events.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim has instructed the National Library Board to place controversial children's books in its adult section, instead of pulping them. He went on to state that "The decision on what books children can or cannot read remains with their parents. Parents who wish to borrow these books to read with their children will have the option to do so." This is an excellent result and what the NLB should have done to begin with. Thank you minister for stepping in and doing what was right.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Singapore CPF Challenges

One has to wonder what the rest of the world is thinking as they look to Singapore and see it's Prime Minister (one of the most highly paid Prime Ministers in the world) sue one it's citizens for damages. 

Well known blogger Roy Ngerng went a tad too far in one of his recent postings on the woes of the CPF system here in Singapore which implied that Prime Minster was criminally misappropriating CPF funds. I can't argue with the smack on the wrist he received for the post which has subsequently removed and an appology issued for, however in addition the Prime Minister is also seeking financial damages with respect to the impact to his reputation.

Personally, I think that a Prime Minster suing a citizen for financial damages for a blog post is going to do more damage to his reputation than the post itself could ever have done. Net citizens are seemingly outraged by this what some are refering to as "bullying tactic" and while Roy Ngerng may have been misguided with respect to his implications about the Prime Minister, his post about the lack of transparancy into the investment strategy of the CPF was nevertheless an interesting read.

Meanwhile Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has pointed out that citizens are free to criticise the government but they must back up any criticisms with facts. I think the good minister needs to understand the definition of the word criticise, it is a word defined as "to find fault with or indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way". I'm not sure why you would need facts to do that since by definiton it is not an acqusation meerly an opinion. Although that said, how any member of the public is suppose to get their hands on such facts wasn't mentioned.

Tan Chuan-Jin has also reportedly blogged about the CPF although it still doesn't seem to address many of the points raised by Roy Ngerng (and others). For example, in relation to the rate of interest earned by the CPF Tan Chuan-Jin reportedly says "We then make sure this CPF account grows at a reasonable interest rate without risk", the point on transparency of how CBF money is invested and used missed it would seem.

The CPF is a good system, I don't think anyone can deny that and I don't think anyone is calling for it to be scrapped. But even as Tan Chuan-Jin reportedly posts in his own blog "CPF is your money" then the question of what the government is doing with it is still an important one to ask, just as the question on how the CPF can be improved is equally important. 

Many citizens opinion's seem to be changing with respect to what they want from their government with this latest flurry of activity around the topic of CPF not doing much to help. There seems to be a lot more mummerings of disapproval recently, understandably so it has to be said. 

I also think that much of Roy Ngerng post and subsequent video etc on this issue (as well as others) needs to be addressed. In my opinion he made many valid points that so far have gone unanswered as the focus shifts from those points to the story of the Prime Minister suing him for the implications made in his original story. 

Indeed since the original request PM Lee's lawyer has asked Roy Ngerng to remove 4 more additional articles that he had written and a video seemingly for no other reason than the articles in question (all related to CPF it would seem) would “aggravate the injury and distress to their client”.

It's a shame. I believe that PM Lee could have handled this in a much different manner but instead seems intent on alienating himself and his party just a little futher from the people it's there to serve. I don't think there is anyone I have talked to on this subject that has been impressed.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Brunei and Stoning

I have to admit to being impressed with the acts of some well known personalities, Stephen Fry and Ellen DeGeneres to name two, who have taken to boycotting the Dorchester Collection hotels, owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Sharon Osbourne has also reached out urging her fans to boycott the hotels as well. Even Richard Branson has announced that Virgin is boycotting the hotel chain.

The reason for these boycots is of course as a result of the Sultan passing a change to the penal code, calling for gays to be stoned to death. Indeed, even OutGiving, an LGBT equality-focussed conference for rich philanthropists (and I do not use the word rich lightly either) has also been pulled from the chain. Kirk Fordham, executive director of Gill Action, is reported to have told the Washington Blade: “In light of the horrific anti-gay policy approved by the Government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision earlier today to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property. We are seeking a return of all deposits.”

The Sultan of Brunei has announced that those committing same sex relations could be stoned to death. The draconian law has brought condemnation from the UN, with the tiny Asian oil rich nation having a virtual moratorium on the death penalty since 1957.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned Brunei’s new penal code earlier this week. He reportedly said: “Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law.”

It is heartening to see public figures take a stand and I only wish that major corporations and governments could learn a lesson from their actions. It is of course a wish that will never come to pass given that would mean an impact to the bottom line, and lets face it there's oil involved too, but I have to ask what price is a person's life worth.

If even one person is stoned to death under this law, then those same major companies and governments that have done nothing and continue to shake hands with Brunei across the table are as guilty as if they had thrown the stones themselves. It saddens me when I see so much potential in this world and see so many countries taking steps backwards with impunity.

Stoning is a barbaric, cruel, inhuman tortue that no civilised society should endorse. There is simply no justification for it, absolutely none.

The world is no longer a big place, and unless the people of the world raise up their voices as some have already done nothing will change for the better. And if not then we all better be prepared for the consqeuences of our own inaction.

In the meantime, here's a list of the Dorcester luxury Hotel Collection owned by the Sultan of Brunei that you might think about avoiding (not that they are in many people's price range to begin with).

Beverly Hills Hotel (Beverly Hills): Possibly the Dorchester's most famous property, the "Pink Palace" was instrumental in the establishment of Beverly Hills a century ago and continues to play an outsize role in Hollywood wheeling and dealing, especially at its restaurant, the Polo Lounge. Don't expect to see Ellen there, though.

Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles): Not as renown as is sister property, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air is still one of L.A.'s most prestigious hotels. It features a presidential suite with its own pool.
The Dorcester (London): One of the world's, and certainly London's, most luxurious hotels, this property in Mayfair features 250 rooms and 49 suits. It opened in 1931.

45 Park Lane (London): Another Mayfair hotel, 45 Park Lane is known for its striking architecture and younger, hipper feel (at least compared to the hopelessly stuffy Dorcester).

Coworth Park (Berkshire, U.K.): This late 18th-century country house was turned into a Dorcester Collection hotel-spa four years ago. Actor-writer Stephen Fry just canceled a stay there over the property's connection to the sultan.

Le Meurice (Paris): This five-star hotel in Paris's 1st Arrondissement is close to the Louvre. It opened in the late 18th-century.

Hotel Plaza Athenee (Paris): Another fancy Parisian palace, this hotel is near the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees and opened over a century ago. It had a cameo in the last season of Sex and the City.

Le Richemond (Geneva): This hotel, located on the banks of Lake Geneva, boats one of the most expensive suites in the world and first opened in 1875.

Hotel Principe di Savoia (Milan): A cosmopolitan gathering place since the 1920s, this property is considered a Milanese landmark by many.

Hotel Eden (Rome): The Dorchester's second Italian property is in Rome's Old City, which features 121 rooms and over-the-top food like foie gras and smoked lobster.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The End of the World - Again!

I'm sure some of you will remember Harold Camping, the evangelist who predicted the end of the world (no doubt he was a tad surprised when it didn't happen on schedule, more than once). Well since his unfortunate demise (one he missed predicting as chance would have it) it would seem that someone else has stepped into his well worn shoes.

Yes, now a popular televangelist from San Antonio named John Hagee has stated that the four lunar eclipses scheduled to begin this month (April 2014) — also known as "blood moons" — are a sign that biblical prophecies are about to come true, as detailed in his book, "Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change"

The lunar eclipse that occurred on April 15 was the first of four consecutive eclipses that Hagee claims are a "world-shaking event," according to the New York Daily News. Astronomers refer to a series of eclipses such as this as a tetrad. While a tetrad isn't a common occurrence, they have happened in the recent past. The last such series happened in 2003 and 2004, and seven more will occur this century. But the fact that tetrads and lunar eclipses are natural occurrences doesn't faze Hagee in the least.

Apparently "God is controlling the sun, the moon and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen" Hagee writes in his book, as quoted in the Daily News. Yes he has a whole book on the subject which lucky for him he had the time to write.

And what is the big predication I'm sure you are all wondering, well ... wait for it ... because it's a prediction of earth shaking consequences that once you read it your life will never be the same again. Here it is, in all it's glory

"Something big is going to happen"

Yes, that's it people, an astounding revelation of epic and controversial proportions as I'm sure you'll agree.

Of course Hagee is no stranger to controversies. In 2008, Hagee was criticised for blaming Hurricane Katrina on a New Orleans gay and lesbian rally. "There was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades," Hagee said on NPR. "And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."

I have no idea why there are so many people in the world that listen to these self proclaimed evangelists, it doesn't take a sane rationale human being more than one look to recognise bullshit when they hear it.

There are times when I really despair for the future of the human race.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Singapore Songkran Failure

I have to laugh when I heard that Singapore will hold its own “Celebrate Songkran 2014” festival at the Padang open field opposite Singapore’s City Hall. In my opinion it is nothing more than a blatant attempt to try to cash in on the festival itself by the Singapore Tourism Board. Songkran is a festival that welcomes in the Lunar New Year and is celebrated in many countries but famous in Thailand for the uninhibated celebrations with water a plenty.

Just as the Grinch stole Christma now Singapore is trying to steal Songkran, chasing visitors to attend its own version of the traditional Thai New Year water festival. No doubt the Singapore Tourism Board realised that at this time of year tourism figures go down as many people all over the world and even from Singapore head to Thailand during this period for the festivities. So they decided to jump onto the bandwagon in what has got to be the most dismal failure ever. So much so that I would advise the organisers to quietly quit their jobs to save themselves from further embrassment.

Yes, Singapore will celebrate Songkran but there will be no water pistol fights, celebrity dunk stations, or really, any kind of water fun at Singapore's first Songkran water festival on April 12 and 13. The organisers of Celebrate Songkran 2014 at the Padang have taken heed of the national campaign to conserve water and dropped the water-based activities.

Instead, (sic) they will host a Water Conservation and Water Heritage Exhibition in conjunction with national water agency PUB.

And so the very meaning of Songkran has been diltued (pun intended) before it's even got of the ground. You see the use of water isn't just a frivalious activity, no, it is meant as a blessing and a sign of respect. In fact it is the most fundemental element of the festival itself, so without it there can be no Songkran.

Local reaction in Thailand has been swift to the news that Singapore intends to hold its own Songkran festival at the same time as Thailand's traditional festival. Indeed the Culture Surveillance Bureau director Yupa Taweewattanakijbaworn is reported to have said "Singapore is using the festival to promote tourism, without acknowledging the value of the traditions behind Songkran". And it would seem given the distinct lack of water available at Singapore's small scale copycat version the words have proven to be true.

In my opinion Singapore simply cannot compete for this Thai festival and it's attempt to do so it quite frankly laughable. It will be the LAST place anyone with any interest in Songkran would want to be. You see Thailand doesn't celebrate Songkran in a tiny little field with no water, no, it's a Country wide celebration involving every member of the community because THAT is what Songkran is really about.

I have been to Songkran many times, and although I hadn't planned on going this year I might just change my mind in silent protest.

Shame on you Singapore.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

An Open Letter

An open letter sent to Faith Community Baptist Church, Nation Council of Churches in Singapore  and to The Real Singapore.

To whom it may concern

While I appreciate anyones right to follow the religion of their choice, that choice is between them and their God. Any beliefs they may hold as a result of that choice cannot be placed across the wider society as a whole, many of whom do not follow that same religion. With respect, while as an individual they are free to challenge any decisions the government may make with regards to the laws of the land, that challenge should not be one that is based solely on their religious belief. We are a secular country with a separation of religion and state and are striving to build a society based on “Justice” and “Equality” regardless of “Religion” as enshrined within our Nation’s pledge.

Any religion is free to advise it’s followers on how they should conduct their life in accordance with that religion’s morals, principals and/or beliefs. However, such advice should be limited to those individuals and in the correct forum. I did not, nor will I ever give anyone dominion over my beliefs.

In my personal view the Christian religion is clearly biased in relation to anything to do with LGBT and seeks every opportunity for that biased view, based on its religious beliefs, to be aired publically. I, like many others, do not support that same view. I will not challenge your religious beliefs in this area as I have no right too, but likewise you have no right to challenge mine or to try to impose your view on me or the wider society. If you feel that followers of your religion need to have such religious beliefs made law in order to adhere to them then there is a fundamental disconnect with your understanding of the role of religion in a secular state.

Already in Russia innocent people are being bullied, raped, mutilated, tortured and murdered simply because of who they are. In Uganda the same is happening now as a result of a change in the law there. In both cases these changes have been in part driven by religion. I cannot believe that any God would endorse this violence against individuals who have broken no law, who have committed no crime, who are worthy of our love and respect. And just as religion is in part to blame for this situation, religion must by association hold itself accountable for the direct suffering of these same people.

Recently a federal Judge has ordered Pastor Scott Lively to stand trial for crimes against humanity under international law for his alleged role in the persecution, arrest and murder of gay people in Uganda. The federal judge went on to say that ‘The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. ‘The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.’

Religious beliefs, like mankind must evolve and we have seen examples of this evolution already.  Gone are the days of drunken debauchery of its clergy and the mass murder of innocents through the inquisition and crusades and witch hunts. Gone are the days when a wife must be shriven for consummating her marriage, gone are the days when it was forbidden to handle the Eucharist and so on. History, if anything, shows us that change is possible.

I am saddened to the very core of my being as I write this knowing that it will do little to change anyone’s views today, and though I am not a Christian I pray that the Christian community see’s the light and love of the God they follow and come to understand that all of his creations are equal in his eyes and worthy of our love and respect and not our condemnation for simply being who God intended them to be.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Stand up for Equality

I have to admit to being extremely annoyed recently with the amount of negativity that has been directed at the original HPB FAQ on sexuality from the christian community. On top of that it then comes to light that there was a publication distributed with cut and paste scripts that gave tips on who and what to write titled “family.foundation.future SUPPORT 377A a simple guide to giving feedback” which is believed to be addressed to pastors and leaders under the LoveSingapore movement, urging the church to take action against the repeal of Section 377A.

While I have no issue with anyone's religion, or their religious beliefs, I am tired of having those same religious beliefs rammed down my throat at every opportunity, and equally tired of seeing challenges at attempts to build Singapore as an inclusive and progressive society simply because it does not aline to those same christian religious beliefs.

"We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation" SINGAPORE NATIONAL PLEDGE : 1996

As a citizen of Singapore each of us is familiar with the words of our national pledge a pledge many of us have spoken many times before. But there are elements within our society that seek to undermine it. They are intent on pushing their agenda based on their religious beliefs as the social norm, and intent on ensuring the inequalities in the law among Singapore citizens remain unchanged. As long as the majority of Singaporeans remain silent then their voice will be the only one heard.

We need to ensure that all of our voices are heard so that any debate that affects us as citizens of Singapore is not one sided. All of us should be concerned, not only with the moral future of Singapore, but with Justice and Equality for all citizens. We should not allow a religious minority to attempt to define a moral view that is based on their religious beliefs, especially one that affects all citizens of Singapore.

We must register our strongest unwavering support for the continued separation of state and religion to minimise the influence of these religious organisations so that all decisions made in relation to the laws that govern Singapore apply to all citizens of Singapore without any religious bias.

So I've taken a leaf from their book so to speak and edited and updated the publication I mentioned previously. My version is titled "Justice.Equality.Progress Supporting Our Nation's Pledge a simple guide to giving feedback".

You can read it, or download it by clicking on the image below. Feel free to share it around too!.

 Click to view, right click and select "save as" to download

                       Click to view, right click and select "save as" to download

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Spending with a Conscience

The goal of any company be it large or small is to make a profit and/or to satisfy it’s shareholders and ensure that analysts confidence remains high in that companies ability regardless of market trends to continue to make a profit. And each year those same companies are challenged to make even more than the year before. It’s an never ending cycle.

Many companies have ethical and corporate social responsibility polices and work within those boundaries in the countries they operate. Indeed, it has to be said that many do good work in those same countries as a result.

But is it enough?

I would love to see a trend where companies put those ethical and corporate social responsibilities above all else. While we can sign petitions and write letters to our MP’s etc urging countries that blatantly violate human rights to rethink their policy’s it’s never going to have any real or lasting impact. Not really.

But imagine if a company decided that it would no longer allow its products to be sold in a country as a result of its poor track record in Human Rights. And now imagine if other companies decided to follow suit. Imagine if companies put the never ending drive to increase profits second to the broader picture.

Imagine if companies got together and formed a forum where they discussed and based on agreed criteria (which would take some trashing out I know) which countries they would no longer do business in, and that more and more companies joined that forum because “we” the consumer decided that “we” would only buy products from companies that put that ethical and corporate social responsibility first.

“We” as citizens of a global economy have a responsibility to ensure that our money is spent wisely. That it is not given to companies and corporations for the sole purpose of making a profit. That rather, every coin we spend is done so with the foresight of supporting this imaginary ethical and corporate social responsibility forum as though it was in fact real.

We are as guilty as anyone else of supporting human rights violations because we help to fuel the economy’s and companies that operate in those areas. Most times we look for bargains to get the most for our hard earned money, and no one can fault us for that. After all, money is not easily come by. And yet if that cheaper product is cheaper because its been made in a country that exploits child labour are we really doing the right thing?

As much as we shout out at politicians and those large corporates for them to do more we also have a part to play. And we often tend to forget, in the search for a bargain, that the power of our dollar and where we spend it will have a lot more impact than any protest or petition.

So, when you hear on the news more of those terrible stories of human rights violations and are outraged by them (as no doubt the majority of us will be), look to where you have spent your hard earned money and ask yourself the question … am I supporting that without even knowing it?

Each of us needs to make a decision on where we as individuals stand and what we stand for, and as much as we point the fingers at others to “do something” we also need to start doing something about it ourselves in one of the easiest ways possible, by spending with a conscience.

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” - Anna Lappe

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Applause for the HPB FAQ on sexuality

I’ve lived in Singapore for 17 years, the majority of my friends are Singaporeans and yes I am a new Citizen. In the past I tended to read the news in and around Singapore with a passing interest but lately it seems to becoming more and more important to me to understand what is going on since it now effects me directly.

The recent HPB flurry on the internet has left me a little speechless. Here was a government body doing what it is suppose to do, representing ALL of Singapore citizens and providing each and every one of them with avenues that they could peruse for issues that concerned them. It deserved to be applauded for that effort alone.

Instead so called Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church lashed out at the recent HPB FAQ on sexuality saying that the FAQ was "shocking and deeply upsetting". Why? because it mentioned homosexuality? He is reported to have labelled same sex relationships as "unnatural" emphasising that such relationships do not allow procreation and to have taking issue with organisations that are "LGBT-affirming". He is reported to have said that instead, other support groups such as Liberty League, who believe that they can 'cure' homosexuality, should have been suggested instead.

I’m sorry Pastor Lawrence Khong but in my opinion you are an idiot. It is clear that you have no concept of what you are talking about at all on this subject. Not only that, but with the suggested alternatives you mention you are actually quite harmful and I would even consider you a menace to society. You label same sex relationships as “unnatural” even though there is evidence of the same throughout nature itself and you mention “procreation” as though that is the sole purpose for any relationship. I’m sure there are many people in Singapore who will take exception with that view, and many Women who have far more to offer society than their ability to produce babies.

There are countless testimonies that so called “cures” for homosexuality DO NOT WORK. Even the people who pioneered it to begin with have already apologised to the LGBT community for the harm they have inflicted with their misguided perception that sexual orientation can be cured. It cannot. It is an intrinsic and fundamental part of any individual.

A similar stance was then apparently supported by Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan yesterday who hit out at one of the responses, which said homosexual and heterosexual relationships are not too different. Writing on his Facebook page, he said: “I cannot agree that ‘A same-sex relationship is not too different from a heterosexual relationship’. The two relationships are different and they go against the Government’s policy of promoting heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable nuclear and extended family units.

Just because the government is promoting heterosexual married couples does not make a heterosexual and homosexual relationship different at any fundamental level other than the parties involved. What a stupid comment. Provided both are based on mutual respect, trust and love both have been proven to be equally sustainable. All of this family unit, married couple, procreation etc that’s being pushed down people’s throats, I just find it all so amusing.

Here are people up in arms over something like homosexuality in a city that has legalised prostitution and repealed the laws that make oral and anal sex a criminal offence between heterosexual couples. Almost everyday in the newspaper there’s one story or another of a heterosexual couple who have fallen by the wayside one way or another, from underage prostitution to sex for favours and I’m sure anyone reading this has already read more than a few examples.

In fact just recently PAP MP Lim Biow Chuan is reported to have said during Jack Neo's extramarital affair scandal that he showed support for Neo. He said: "Since he is remorseful over this incident, he should be forgiven. Actually, a man who has a good career development would find such scenarios unavoidable"


And then there’s the comments about how people aren’t ready to accept homosexuality is Singapore so we will go with the will of the people. Funny, people weren’t up for having their medisave payments increased or the CPF reduced or fare hikes or changes in ECP pricing. It’s amazing how the government decides to cherry pick which public opinion it will follow while discarding the rest into the “we know best” pile.

As a new citizen, I really am uncertain about the future of Singapore. It seems that Singapore is becoming a less inclusive society and that many natural Singapore citizens are left feeling marginalised with policy decisions that affect them directly.

The HPB deserves our resounding applause for the effort in put into creating an all inclusive FAQ, one that represented ALL CITIZENS of Singapore. And many of the politicians in Singapore can learn a lesson from that. Its a shame however that it will now no doubt amend it’s FAQ to avoid the spot light it finds itself under and Singapore will become a little less inclusive as a result.

Those that spoke out against the original HPB FAQ on sexuality should hang their heads in shame and shoulder the responsibility for that step backwards. I would remind them, and everyone, that the word “equality” is enshrined in our nations pledge and for me it remains a hope that it becomes more than just a word in this Singapore I call home.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Singapore a Police State?

Is Singapore at risk of becoming a police state? It’s a question I’ve been pondering on reading about the bill to enhance police powers at little India. This of course is in response to the recent riot there, the first to happen in Singapore in over 40 years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is introducing a temporary Bill that would provide Police with enhanced powers for one year to deal pre-emptively with potential threats to public order in Little India. No doubt this temporary measure is in lieu of something more permanent that still needs to be trashed out.

Under the enhanced powers, police officers would be allowed, for instance, to search a person for alcohol. Police officers holding the rank of sergeant and above would be empowered to raid any place within Little India, without a warrant, if the officer reasonably suspects an offence has been, is being, or likely to be committed. And while I’m sure there are enough regulations to ensure there is no abuse of these powers, the fact that they exist at all is a little scary.

Search on suspicion, raid without warrant on suspicion, and that’s just the beginning.

The Bill also proposes that the Commissioner or an authorised officer have the power to ban people from entering Little India for up to 30 days if their presence or actions are likely to threaten public order. Although how that would be enacted I’ve no idea given that I’ve no idea how a it will be deemed that a person’s presence or actions are likely to threaten public order. It’s very broad.

Other features of the Bill include a general prohibition against the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol within this area, with a permit regime to be introduced to allow such activities to be carried out under specific conditions. There will also be powers to allow the swift cancellation or suspension of any business licence of a licensee who commits or is reasonably suspected of contravening the law.

I’ve no issue with banning the consumption of alcohol in public places. In fact it’s a pretty good idea. And I’ve no idea (nor do I think anyone has at this stage) how much alcohol is responsible for the recent riot, no doubt there are other factors that we may never know about and no doubt it was probably a combination of them all that caused the problem.

What does concern me is that we have built an invisible wall around little India, with an invisible gate and an invisible border crossing system wherein different laws are being applied. And it looks like this is only the beginning.

What’s next I wonder?