Reaffirmation of bilingual policy must include all languages, not just Chinese

December 30, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics wishes all readers a happy New Year!

Written by Ng E-Jay
30 December 2009

Education Minister Ng Eng Hen has spent considerable effort reaffirming Singapore’s bilingual policy, especially the teaching of the Chinese language, but he neglected to pay due consideration to Malay and Tamil, which have been neglected by the mainstream media and the Government in the recent debates surrounding our education policy.

While Mr Ng Eng Hen has stressed that our bilingual policy remains relevant for economic and cultural reasons, it is obvious that in the mind of the Government, economic factors outweigh all others. Why else would the mainstream press devote ample space towards discussing the growing economic role of China and its economic links with Singapore at the same time while discussing our bilingual policy?

Malay and Tamil are also of vital importance to Singapore, and not just for economic reasons, but also for cultural and historical reasons.

Why should we trust the Minister Mentor when he says Singapore “must not be a satellite of any nation” (ST, 30 Dec 09), when the recent debate of language education all centers around Chinese and neglects the other two mother tongue languages?

Read more

Why the late J.B. Jeyaretnam is revered by opposition supporters

December 28, 2009 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

The late J.B. Jeyaretnam scored electoral victories not by pandering to the establishment or molly-coddling the masses, but by exciting and inspiring the masses, and challenging the establishment with credibility and force of character.

Short Notes from the Editor
28 December 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.

Despite having unjustly lost his Anson seat soon after the 1984 general elections due to a high court conviction for falsifying party accounts that was subsequently overturned by a late 1980s Privy Council judgment, and despite being subject to ad hominems like being called a “mangy dog” by Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament, J.B. Jeyaretnam soldered on with the opposition cause. He served the Worker’s Party with even greater vigour than before, and he played a very significant role in helping Low Thia Khiang win the Hougang seat in 1991, a seat that the latter has retained to this day.

Read more

Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s response to TOC lacked composure and calm befitting a prominent politician

December 24, 2009 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Archives wishes all readers a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Written by Ng E-Jay
24 December 2009

A heated debate has broken out between The Online Citizen and its critics, with none other than Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the Secretary-General of the Reform Party, joining the fray in an attempt, in his own words, to defend not only his late father but also the concept of opposition and democracy.

While Mr Jeyaretnam has every right to respond forcefully to what he perceived (no matter rightly or wrongly) to be a smear campaign directed at the late Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (JBJ), and by association, the Reform Party, his response lacked the composure and calm befitting a politician of his stature. He is, after all, the Sec-Gen of a political party that has gradually gained prominence in Singapore, and his conduct should at all times reflect the weight and dignity associated with the post.

The outcry began when Terence Lee, a writer at The Online Citizen (TOC) website, published an article “Milder but more credible” on Sunday 20 Dec in which he suggested that the late JBJ had practised “rabble-rousing” politics and had engaged in “rambunctious” attacks on the People’s Action Party (PAP). Terence also said that the present day Worker’s Party is “set on treading the careful path” and seems adamant about avoiding the bevy of defamation suits suffered by its former Sec-Gen.

Read more

Loosen stranglehold before providing political education

December 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Archives 

(This article originally appeared in The Online Citizen)

Written by Ng E-Jay, for TOC
20 Dec 2009

with inputs from Andrew Loh

In the latest edition of Petir, the People’s Action Party’s bi-monthly party magazine, Law Minister K Shanmugam warned party members that younger voters could erode the PAP’s political dominance if they are not convinced that Singapore needs strong political leadership capable of making effective and speedy decisions.

On one hand, Mr Shanmugam is acknowledging that younger voters seem more ready to vote the opposition. On the other hand, he is also asserting that if one believes in having effective and efficient government, then the PAP must be the right choice. Implicit in his statement is the assumption that the opposition will not provide the strong political leadership that our country needs. This is an example of arrogant, presumptuous thinking that supporters of multi-party democracy must refute.

Read more

Ministry of Law contradicts District Judge over whether political criticism in Singapore is a crime

December 19, 2009 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Archives 

Written by Ng E-Jay
19 December 2009

The Ministry of Law has issued a statement which contradicts a recent judgment made by District Judge Ch’ng Lye Beng who presided over the case of 3 SDP CEC members charged with illegally distributing pamphlets at Raffles City Shopping Centre on 10 Sep 2006.

In her letter to the Straits Times “Political criticism not a crime here” dated 19 Dec 09, Ms Chong Wan Yieng, Press Secretary to Minister for Law, stated that “engaging in robust criticism per se is not and has never been a crime or libellous in Singapore“, and that “there can be, and there is, vigorous debate on public policies“.

The Ministry of Law was responding to an excerpt from British author John Kampfner’s book, Freedom For Sale, which was recently quoted by the Straits Times. Mr Kampfner had asserted that any politician or journalist in Singapore who says anything controversial is open to arrest and the subsequent charge of defamation.

Read more

Have wages kept up with soaring HDB flat prices?

December 18, 2009 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Archives 

Any readers who can provide me with Singapore’s average household income since 1960’s or 1970’s, please email me: [email protected]

Written by Ng E-Jay
18 December 2009

An interesting statistic was revealed by the Straits Times in its article “Flat prices will rise but still be affordable” on Monday, 14 Dec.

As an example of how HDB flat prices have soared, a three-room flat in Queenstown in 1964 cost $6,200, but would fetch at least $200,000 today. This translates into a 32.3 times gain over a 45 year period, or around 8 percent compounded annually.

But have wages risen 8 percent annually over the same period?

Read more

The banana and your HDB flat

December 17, 2009 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Archives 

By the Singapore Democrats
10 Dec 2009

One stall sells bananas for 50 cents each. Another prices them at $1 but posts a sign: “Buy One Get One Free!” Who do you buy from? Unfortunately many shoppers are attracted to the latter.

It is this psychology that the PAP preys on when it says that HDB flats are subsidized: Jack up the price of the flats and then sell them at a “discount”. This way, the Government calculates, Singaporeans will be eternally grateful for the make-believe assistance.

Here’s how things work in reality. The Government owns most of the island. From time to time it puts out parcels of land for sale and invites private developers to bid for them. (“Private” is used very loosely here as some of these real estate companies are GLCs).

The Government then sells land earmarked for HDB flats to the HDB at a lower price (say, 60 percent) of whatever amount the successful private bid comes to. In other words, the PAP claims, HDB land is subsidized (by up to 40 percent).

Read more

HDB flat prices: Affordable to who?

December 16, 2009 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Archives 

Written by Ng E-Jay
16 December 2009

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said at the [email protected] handover ceremony last Sunday that HDB flat prices can be expected to keep on rising as long as the economy continues to grow.

He also said that the “HDB will continue to build affordable homes of good quality, so that each generation of Singaporeans will continue to have a stake in the nation“, which is somewhat of an irony given that the [email protected] flats are the priciest in the whole of Singapore, fetching up to $650,000 (source).

In his address, MM Lee said that the movement towards a market-based pricing system for HDB flats has allowed HDB prices to move in tandem with the economy, thus unlocking the value of HDB flats and allowing citizens to share in the fruits of the nation’s growth.

Read more

Polling day cooling off period is just another distraction

December 3, 2009 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Archives 

Written by Ng E-Jay
03 December 2009

In yet another move to distract voters from the critical issues at hand, PM Lee has proposed an extra day of non-campaigning as a cooling-off period just before Polling Day, to be implemented at the next General Election due in 2012.

He made this announcement after attending a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago (Capital: Port of Spain) earlier this week.

Under the new proposal, all campaigning will be disallowed 24 hours before Polling Day, including mass rallies, door-to-door visits, and the display of party logos and symbols. The only exceptions will be party political broadcasts which are televised on the eve of the polls, as well mainstream media reports on the election.

The Straits Times listed countries like Australia, Indonesia, Italy and Mexico as all having some variation of this feature in their electoral systems, with anything from one to three days of campaign silence before the final vote. The ironical thing about the Straits Times listing however is that with the exception of Mexico, the other countries have a free and independent press.

Read more

There is a productivity revolution sweeping the world and Singapore is not part of it: WHY?

December 1, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Archives 

Written by Ng E-Jay
01 Dec 2009

There is a productivity revolution sweeping the world, but Singapore apparently is not part of it. Since the bust of the dot-com bubble in the early part of this decade, labour productivity in Singapore has been on the decline, in contrast with other developed economies around the world.

What is this productivity revolution that has taken the world by storm? It is the technological revolution brought about by rapid advances in information technology and the internet. Breath-taking innovations in the telecommunications and internet space have allowed individuals and businesses to connect and synergize their activities in ways that could not have been imagined 30 years or even 20 years ago. Entire new industries have been built up on this technological revolution that is still on-going today, and which will progress even more rapidly for the foreseeable future.

This technological revolution has enabled vast increases in productivity in the global economy, Coupled with rapid globalization and an increasingly mobile global workforce, this has brought great prosperity to many Asian and G7 economies. Singapore’s stock market however is still currently languishing barely 10% above the level it was trading at in 1994, essentially going nowhere in the last 15 years.

Read more