Men In White — Another example of PAP’s “managed dissent” strategy

September 17, 2009 by · 10 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
17 Sept 2009

The mainstream media, notably the Straits Times, spent a full week earlier this month aggressively promoting Men In White, touted to be a definitive and objective account of the history of Singapore’s ruling political party.

Commissioned and published by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), and officially launched on Sept 8, Men In White seeks to fill a void in Singapore history and unravel many of the mysteries, puzzles and questions surrounding the PAP story, or so we are told by none other than the official mouthpiece of the Government.

Men in White was written by three Straits Times journalists: Sonny Yap, Richard Lim and Leong Weng Kam, and supported by a seven-person project team headed by former SPH editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng, and subsequently, after Mr Cheong’s retirement, by Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew penned the forward to the book, in which he said: “This is an SPH endeavour to muster all sources and cover the views of all who opposed the PAP.

But glancing through the 692-page book and reading the endorsements printed on its back cover by Barisan Socialis leaders like Fong Swee Suan and Lim Chin Joo (the brother of Lim Chin Siong), both of whom had suffered many long years of detention by the PAP under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), I cannot help but wonder if this monumental work is yet another milestone in PAP’s “managed dissent” strategy.

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Root Cause of Sky-High HDB Flat Prices

September 16, 2009 by · 3 Comments
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by See Leong Kit (61-year old S’pore Citizen)

Original Text of my letter to TODAY Voices forum.
Letter was published in its 16 Sep 09 edition but with last two paragraphs edited out.

Sky-high prices of HDB flats will naturally push up private property prices. Thus this issue affects all Singaporeans, even those aspiring to own private property.

Its root cause was not covered in the anti-speculation measures just announced.

Following our 1996 property bull run, the HDB had switched from a “cost-based” to a “market-based” pricing approach. The selling price for a new flat is pegged not to its cost but to the prevailing market price of a similar resale flat.

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Single mothers should be given Baby Bonuses and other benefits

September 16, 2009 by · 30 Comments
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Quick Snippets from the Editor
16 Sept 2009

Ms Peck Chai Hong’s Straits Times forum letter “Don’t deny single mothers Baby Bonus and other benefits” (14 Sept) made for a very sobering read.

This unwed mother wrote that she decided to keep her unborn child rather than go for an abortion despite knowing that as a single parent, she would not be eligible for Baby Bonuses, four-month maternity leave, six days of childcare leave, and other benefits. To raise her new baby, she had to resort to borrowing from others.

This is yet another example of our Government leaving citizens in the lurch just when they need help most.

It is unconsciable for our Government to claim to encourage procreation and yet deny single mothers benefits enjoyed by married couples simply because they are not part of a traditional family unit comprising both husband and wife.

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Lui Tuck Yew should take his head out of the sand

September 11, 2009 by · 15 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
11 Sept 2009

During a dialogue session with some 200 members of the Singapore Press Club on Wednesday, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew said that the mainstream media can meet the Internet challenge by continuing to provide accurate and balanced coverage.

Accurate and balanced coverage??

What do you call TODAY reporter Mr Loh Chee Kong unceremoniously raking up old wounds between Mr Chiam See Tong and Dr Chee Soon Juan in an attempt at portraying the Opposition in Singapore as being disunited? (See here, here, here and here.)

What do you call ex-ISD officer and current Straits Times Political Editor Ms Chua Lee Hoong launching a full scale propaganda campaign against Dr Chee Soon Juan which even went to the extent of attacking his Christian beliefs and accusing him of having anti-social personality disorder? (See here.)

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Preposterous to suggest that Temasek Holdings does not manage citizens’ earnings

September 10, 2009 by · 8 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
10 Sept 2009

In its letter to the Wall Street Journal “Correcting Temasek Misperceptions” (08 Sept), Temasek Holdings stated that they “do not manage Singapore citizens’ earnings“, and that it is factually wrong (for the WSJ) to imply that Singaporeans have no choice but to keep their money with the fund.

I am appalled by the latest stand Temasek Holdings has taken, which seems to suggest that the assets they manage have nothing to do with the productive work of Singapore citizens and the wealth they have created for the nation over the past 5 decades.

Temasek Holdings was responding to an earlier WSJ editorial “Temasek’s Revised Charter” (31 Aug), which argued that Temasek’s latest charter “skirts the basic conflict of interest between the public interest of protecting citizens’ earnings and the private-market imperative of taking risks to seek returns“.

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Should we accord freedom of speech to those who do not embrace it?

September 9, 2009 by · 5 Comments
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Mr Kelvin Teo of Kent Ridge Common asks the question: Should we show tolerance to groups that advocate intolerance? My answer is that the truth should be allowed to speak for itself.

Quick Snippets from the Editor
09 Sept 2009

This is my response to the Kent Ridge Common article “The divide between religious extremism and free speech” (07 Sept) by Mr Kelvin Teo.

Mr Teo’s article tried to address the question whether groups that seek to injure the right of others to free speech should themselves be accorded that liberty. Special reference was made in the beginning of the article to the AWARE saga earlier this year which saw a group of Christians take over a secular organization in order to impose its own values on it and subvert the organization to its own agenda.

In the first paragraph of the article, it was stated that during the AWARE EOGM on May 2, “the crowd effectively drowned out the voices of Dr Thio Su Mien and her mentees“. I disagree with this assessment, which seems to imply that supporters of the AWARE Old Guard had tried to deny Dr Thio’s group the right to free speech through raucous behaviour.

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Urgent need to plug gaping holes in our healthcare system

September 3, 2009 by · 4 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
03 Sept 2009

As our population ages, there is an urgent need to plug gaping holes in our healthcare system in order to ensure that all citizens, especially our elderly who need it most, get access to decent and affordable healthcare.

An ST letter “Multiple tiers of protection for all” (2 Sept) penned by the Ministry of Health suggested that healthcare in Singapore is universal and no one is left behind. Unfortunately, the same letter also admitted that Medishield coverage stops at age 85, making our medical insurance system far from universal. The same goes for similar insurance schemes provided in the private sector.

Our elderly who are above 85 years of age are the ones who require healthcare the most as they are the group most susceptible to chronic ailments and terminal illnesses. If they are uninsurable, then the onus must fall on the Government to provide heavily subsidized healthcare to them so that they are not financially burdened in the final years of their lives and do not have to land their children heavily in debt as a result of financing their healthcare needs.

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Critical issues overlooked in HDB’s letter to Straits Times

September 1, 2009 by · 5 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
01 Sept 2009

The ST letter “How HDB keeps it affordable” (31 Aug 2009) penned by Mr Ignatius Lourdesamy, Deputy Director (Marketing & Projects) of HDB, overlooked several critical issues and failed miserably in its attempt to refute claims that public housing has become too expensive for Singaporeans.

Mr Lourdesamy was responding to earlier queries regarding the proliferation of housing agents and sellers demanding exorbitant “Cash Over Valuation” amounts that in effect corner an already tight property market and cause hardship to families purchashing resale HDB flats.

He was also trying to address issues raised by other ST readers who highlighted the fact that public housing has become too highly correlated with private property prices, as exemplified by the HDB resale price index which has surged 35% over the past two years despite the downturn and now stands at an all time high.

In particular, Mr Chew Kim Cheer argued in his ST letter “Squeezed even harder” (22 Aug 2009) that the Government needs to increase supply to prevent property prices from escalating out of control. Mr Chew also urged the Government to review the $8,000 household income ceiling as an eligibility criterion to qualify for subsidized public housing and a discounted HDB loan.

Many of these pertinent points however were sidestepped by Mr Lourdesamy of the HDB who offered little more than the usual platitutes that the HDB is steadily increasing the supply of new flats to meet demand and that HDB aims to make public housing affordable for eligible first-time households by providing them subsidies for new and resale flats.

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