Any intrusion by religion into secular space is alarming

May 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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ST letter (online) by Ms Alicia Wong
30 May 2009

ST link

I REFER to Wednesday’s report, ‘No ‘bright line’ between religion and politics’. I disagree that religion and politics are not clearly separated in Singapore.

The Singapore brand of secularism is not anti-religious. There is, however, a great difference between allowing, supporting and ensuring a fair representation of religion in social contexts and allowing religious participation in Parliament. Therein lies the separation between religion and politics in Singapore. It is in this context that policy decisions on topics such as abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, homosexuality and sex education are decided by a non-partisan government, to ensure a pluralistic and tolerant society where individual rights and diverse views are respected.

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The Real Political Change That Singapore Needs

By Dr Wong Wee Nam
29 May 2009

When the President opened the new session of the 11th Parliament last week, he said, “Our political system is not set in stone. Singapore politics must evolve over time, as the world and our society change. It must respond to new circumstances and goals and continue to deliver good government to Singapore.”

For the optimists, this statement gave a glimmer of hope that our political system is evolving for the better.

A few days later, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong gave a glimpse of what is to come when he outlined three principles that will guide the changes to be made to the political system. One, they must be fair to all political parties. Secondly, they should result in a strong and effective Government after an election; and thirdly, they must ensure that diverse views are represented in Parliament. Without the details, all these sounded reasonable.

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Parliamentary roundup: Make no mistake, the ruling party has no intention of restoring democracy

May 29, 2009 by · 5 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
29 May 2009

Lamenting the fact that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) currently dominates the House, can amend the Constitution freely, and controls key levers of power in the country, Worker’s Party chief Low Thia Khiang told Parliament on Monday that only an elected opposition can provide effective checks and balances.

He was commenting on the opening speech made by President SR Nathan last Monday as well as remarks made by other PAP MPs on how Singapore politics had to evolve over time to accommodate the changing aspirations of the electorate.

Mr Low however hastened to add that “we cannot blame the ruling party” for its “winner takes all, loser is a bandit” mindset, because the electorate had given it a clear mandate at every election.

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Just make elections free and fair, no need for wayang

May 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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By the Singapore Democrats
28 May 2009

Original link

If there is any indication that the Government is nervous about the unhappiness of the people, it is the latest increase in the number of NCMP and NMP seats.

Anxious to avoid facing an angry electorate, the PAP is desperately trying to divert the attention of the voters by telling them that they don’t have to vote for the opposition because seats will be allocated to opposing voices.

In the first place, Parliamentary seats are not for the Government to give out. They are legislative positions to be earned by competing parties and candidates whose power is derived from the voters.

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Changes to Parliamentary system: Don’t be lulled into the political “mind trap” set by the PAP

May 28, 2009 by · 8 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
28 May 2009

Changes to the Parliamentary system were announced by PM Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday. They include:

  1. Amending the Constitution to allow for up to nine Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs);
  2. Amending the Parliamentary Elections Act to increase the stipulated minimum number of opposition MPs, including NCMPs, to nine;
  3. Amending the Parliamentary Elections Act to set a cap of 2 NCMPs to come from any one GRC, so as to spread out the NCMPs more evenly;
  4. Fine-tuning the NMP scheme to broaden representation of various interest groups;
  5. Fine-tuning the implementation of the GRC and SMC scheme to allow for fewer 6-member GRCs, and at least 12 SMCs up from the current 9.

According to PM Lee, the reason for the changes to the Parliamentary system was to “encourage a wider range of views in Parliament, including opposition and non-Government views“, because Singapore faces more complex policy choices and Singaporeans want national issues to be more fully debated.

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Medieval attitudes towards sex and sexuality, rather than tolerance of alternative lifestyles, undermine the social fabric

May 27, 2009 by · 6 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
27 May 2009

I read with absolute shock and dismay Mr Steven Tan’s ST forum (online) letter “Useful programme except for condom excerpt” published on 20 May, in which the writer criticized the school educational programme Breaking Down Barriers conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) for teaching students how to use a condom.

While Mr Tan praised the programme for providing accurate facts about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and imparting useful skills such as strategies on how not to succumb to persuasion, he said that teaching students how to use a condom “gives a mixed and confusing message“, that “students are not likely to heed or remember to practise safe sex just because they have attended a lesson on condom use“, and that students are unlikely, in the heat of the moment, to “remember or follow the steps to use a condom correctly”.

He also says that teaching students how to use a condom “contradicts and compromises the good advice to avoid pre-marital sex as the only foolproof protection against STIs and AIDS“.

I cannot even begin to describe how illogical and abhorrent this viewpoint is.

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Singapore lawyer challenges “law” that violates democracy, freedom

May 26, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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By the Singapore Democrats
26 May 2009

Original Link

Lawyer Chia Ti Lik stood his ground today when he told a district judge that “as a citizen of this country, I have to stand up against the law that violates the principles of democracy and freedom”.

Mr Chia made the defiant statement when he was asked by Judge James Leong if he had anything to say before sentence was passed.

Earlier, Mr Chia, one of the Tak Boleh Tahan protesters, had pleaded guilty to two charges of “illegal assembly and procession” in front of Parliament House to mark World Consumers Day on 15 March 2008 where nearly 30 people had gathered to protest against the escalating cost of living.

This afternoon, Mr Chia pleaded guilty to the charges due to work commitments.

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Public order concerns: Look who’s talking

May 25, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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By the Singapore Democrats
24 May 2009

Original link

Much has been made about the apathy of Singaporeans towards politics and political issues. Is such a “tidak apa” attitude a result of the fact that Singaporeans are a contented lot or is it because the authoritarian system has instilled fear into the minds of the people by criminalising political activities through the decades?

The former explanation cannot be true going by the recent flurry of activities held at Hong Lim Park. Political and social activists of all persuasions and interests have conducted numerous protests and commemorations at Speakers’ Corner.

Just in the last eight days, four events were staged at the park. Last Saturday, the gay and lesbian group came together for the “pink dot” event to encourage tolerance of homosexuality.

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Other countries are light years ahead of us in providing public transport subsidies for disabled

May 25, 2009 by · 5 Comments
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(Some pictures of the event are attached with this article)

Written by Ng E-Jay
25 May 2009

Carrying placards that read “Hear Our Plea“, “Support Our Subsidy” and “Give Us Dignity“, some disabled members of our society assembled at Hong Lim Park last Saturday to make a strong pitch for public transport subsidies.

A total of four speakers addressed the audience of around 30 that had gathered at around 5pm to hear the rally, including the visually handicapped as well as a deaf speaker who used sign language.

One speaker, Reena Rajasvari, had been calling for the Government to grant disabled people public transport subsides for 10 years, including approaching her Member of Parliament for help, but to no avail.

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Rejected ST letter: ONE SIMPLE WAY to avoid Swine Flu

May 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Rejected ST letter written by Mr David See Leong Kit

EDITOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank Mr David See for his kind permission in allowing me to publish his letter.

ONE SIMPLE WAY to avoid Swine Flu

by See Leong Kit

[ My contributed letter which was rejected for publication by ST Forum Editor Yap Koon Hong -- who somehow could devote considerable prominent space in its Print Edition for a letter on the airy-fairy topic of "Durian warning and happy pickings at park"! ]

I refer to your editorial “Laid low again by a microbe” (Apr 28) and Mr Lucas Png’s timely letter “Small precautions make a big difference” (May 2).

A pandemic on top of the global recession could decimate our already ailing economy and lead to even more jobless Singaporeans.

However, before asking Singaporeans to do their part, our Government must first educate them on how to tackle disease threats, such as the current Swine Flu worldwide outbreak.

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