Operation Spectrum open forum: a good start

June 29, 2009 by · 1 Comment
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By the Singapore Democrats
28 June 2009

Original link

After 22 years, we are beginning to see more public events that address the Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions in 1987.

In May a group of five activists came together to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Marxist arrests. Led by Seelan Palay, the group got together at Hong Lim Park and called for the for the abolishment of ISA. (See here and here.)

On Sunday afternoon, Martyn See organised discussion forum about the 22 arrests. The indoor event was supposed to have taken place last Saturday. However, about before that, the owner of the venue called Martyn to inform him that he had to cancel the booking to to an ongoing CID investigation (see here.)

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Is Marina Barrage the reason for unhealthy water conditions?

June 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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ST letter (online) by Mr Goh Shi Hai, 23 June 2009

ST link

FOR the past few months, dead fish have been seen floating at the shoreline of Marina Reservoir, near Kallang Basin.

Many dragonboat rowers who use the reservoir have also been suffering skin infections. Even with small cuts and abrasions, recovery is complicated, often developing into badly infected wounds that, in some cases, even required surgery.

Previously, dragonboat trainees hardly suffered from such conditions. Is the construction of the Marina Barrage the reason for the contamination of the water?

Could it be because the Barrage blocks the flow of the water from the area to the open sea? Is the problem exacerbated by the decomposing marine life dotting the shoreline?

Can the relevant authorities advise on the current water conditions as well as the measures in place to ensure that the water remains safe and fit for rowers?

Goh Shi Hai

Standing up for the people on bended knees

June 23, 2009 by · 22 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
23 June 2009

In his no-holes-barred masterpiece Requiem for an unbending Singaporean, former President C.V. Devan Nair recounted how, after J.B. Jeyaretnam had won the 1981 Anson by-election, the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said that he would make him “crawl on his bended knees, and beg for mercy“.

But the former Worker’s Party leader was made of far sterner stuff, and in Devan Nair’s own words, “he never did crawl on bended knees, or ever begged for mercy, and it is to Lee Kuan Yew’s eternal shame that Jeyaretnam will leave the political scene with his head held high, enjoying a martyrdom conferred on him by Lee.

Today, it still remains to be seen whether the Worker’s Party is able to live up to J.B. Jeyaretnam’s principles and embody the same kind of moral rectitude and courage so consistently displayed by its former stalwart.

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A nation of foreigners in 11 years

June 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment
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Ng E-Jay / Current Affairs Desk, The Online Citizen
22 June 2009

THE NATIONAL Population Secretariat announced on Wednesday that Singapore’s total population grew to 4.84 million in 2008, with the proportion of foreigners increasing to 25 percent.

Noting the challenges faced by families during the current downturn, the Secretariat reiterated the need to encourage marriage and parenthood, attract foreigners, and foster naturalisation and integration of new immigrants.

The challenges faced by Singapore in integrating foreigners into the local community is by no means unique, but the fact remains that the large influx of foreigners in recent years have the potential to cause many social problems. Foreigners have been blamed for depressing wages and making it harder for citizens to secure employment — factors that are exacerbated during an economic crisis.

If the growth in the number of foreigners continues on its present trajectory, the proportion of foreigners in our midst will continue to grow every year, and might hit one-third of the total population when the Government achieves the target population of 6 million.

Assuming that there is no limit placed on population growth and policies remain the same, in slightly over a decade, foreigners could account for half our population. This would spell dire consequences for our social fabric and national identity.

Read the full article at TOC: A nation of foreigners in 11 years

Your flame will always shine, Anthony

June 21, 2009 by · 3 Comments
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By the Singapore Democrats
21 June 2009

Original Link

It is with very heavy hearts that the Singapore Democrat and Friends write this about Anthony Yeo. Anthony passed on last evening due to complications that arose from the cancer that he had been suffering from.

In this very difficult time, we can only hope and pray that his family is encouraged and comforted by all the love that is pouring in from those who knew this wonderful man.

Anthony has a very special place in the hearts of those of us in the SDP. He was a friend whom we never hesitated to invite to our functions and events and one whom we could readily call on if we needed his help.

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Birth rate continues its downward trend, a fresh look at our population problem is needed

June 18, 2009 by · 12 Comments
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Quick Snippets from the Editor
18 June 2009

It was reported in the Straits Times that Singapore’s birth rate dipped slightly to 1.28 last year, down a notch from 1.29 the previous year.

At the same time, the proportion of elderly folk aged 65 and above rose to 8.7 per cent last year, up from 6.8 per cent a decade ago.

These twin trends of low fertility and an ageing population were updates provided on Wednesday by the Government’s National Population Secretariat, which explained the need to continue working on long-term strategies to boost the population, including getting more Singaporeans to marry and procreate, and attracting foreigners here and helping them integrate into the society.

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New policies, not new parks, needed for social harmony

June 16, 2009 by · 6 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
16 June 2009

It was reported in Monday’s edition of the Straits Times that a new park in Bishan, called the Bishan Harmony Park, has been created to allow residents to mingle with each other. The park includes an inline skating court, skateboarding ramps, a skating bowl, a garden maze, fitness corners, and barbecue pits.

In his speech to residents, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, said that as their community grows, they can expect to see more new neighbours, local and foreign, hence the creation of the park to forge neighbourliness.

My contention, however, is that if the Government is truly serious about promoting and preserving social harmony, it is new policies, rather than new parks, that are needed.

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Sending Ah Gong back to the children

June 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Ng E-Jay / Current Affairs Desk, The Online Citizen
15 June 2009

With contributions from Gerald Giam and Ravi Philemon

Recent proposals to amend the Maintenance of Parents Act suggests an act by the government to pass the buck of caring for the elderly to their children, but this puts an inconsiderable strain especially on lower-income groups.

PROGRESSIVELY encroaching on the private lives of citizens under the umbrella of public interest is a constant refrain of our paternalistic Government.

The recent proposal to amend the Maintenance of Parents Act to allow third parties to invoke it is a case in point.

Granted, all children do have a serious moral responsibility of caring for their aged parents. But the law is an extremely blunt instrument to use in what is primarily a family issue. Family members interact with each other not just at the economic level, but more importantly, emotionally as well.

Resorting to the law to settle family disputes, especially one over financial matters, is not just a rude intrusion into what is primarily private space, but also easily lends itself to abuse.

Read the full article: Sending Ah Gong back to the children

PM Lee displayed false humility

June 11, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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The Online Citizen
11 June 2009

Ng E-Jay and Leong Sze Hian / Current Affairs Desk

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s uncharacteristic comments about flying economy class as a way of leading by example cannot be taken seriously. The only way for him and his senior ministers to gain greater respect would be to lower their own salaries to more acceptable standards.

A SOUTH Korean official got it all wrong when he called Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s decision to fly economy class “praiseworthy” and “pragmatic”.

The Chosun Ilbo, a leading South Korean newspaper, reported that when Finance Minister Yoon Jeung Hyun asked Mr Lee “why the leader of an affluent country (doesn’t) use a private or charter jet”, Mr Lee responded by saying that he did not think Singapore was an affluent country.

Mr Lee also reportedly said: “Besides, as a government official, I have to lead by example. Singapore’s senior officials fly economy class, not first class, for flights under six hours.”

The entire exchange, as well as the Chosun Ilbo’s coverage of it, was reported in the Straits Times.  Both leaders spoke after attending the Asean-South Korea Commemorative Summit in South Korea.

When politicians start making statements that display a false sense of humility, one cannot help but question the premise of those statements as well as the issues that those statements obscure.

Read the full article: PM Lee displayed false humility

Confusion over issues relating to transgenderism

June 11, 2009 by · 4 Comments
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an old article I wrote concerning some issues relating to transgenderism. It was first posted on my personal blog last year.

Written by Ng E-Jay
20 July 2008

In a society like Thailand where attitudes towards transgendered people are supposedly amongst the most liberal in the world, confusion over basic issues like orchiectomy (castration) is still prevalent.

In a Straits Times article entitled “Thai teens seeking sex changes grapple with new rule” published on 20 July 08, it is mentioned that health authorities have become alarmed by stories and the subsequent public debate about underage boys seeking and receiving castrations as the first step toward gender reassignment surgery (GRS). This concern has prompted the Thai authorities to introduce new regulation requiring people seeking GRS to be 18 or older.

To quote the ST article: “Some gay activists and parents worried about potential side effects of the operation on bodies that are still growing believe the age at which youths can independently make the decision to be castrated should be raised to 20.

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