SDP’s open letter to all opposition supporters

By the Singapore Democrats
29 Mar 2010

Written by Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General

The report in the Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao (29 Mar 10) quoted Ms Lina Loh (Mr Chiam See Tong’s wife) as saying that I was the one who ousted Mr Chiam from the SDP. The report also quoted her as making other remarks about me that were untrue.

In my interview with Lianhe Zaobao published on 28 Feb 10, I had said that several CEC members had repeatedly tried to persuade Mr Chiam not to resign as secretary-general of the party because we still saw him as the leader.

I added that even in the eyes of party leaders like Mr Ling How Doong, Mr Chiam’s position was never challenged but we just wished he could be more democratic.

This cannot be seen, by any stretch of the imagination, to be statements attacking Mr Chiam. I was relating what really took place, namely, that Mr Chiam’s colleagues persuaded him to return because we still wanted to see him continue on as leader.

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Minimum wage and productivity take centre stage at SDP forum

By the Singapore Democrats
28 March 2010

Economic concerns such as the issue of foreign workers, income inequality and falling productivity took centre stage today at the public forum organised by the SDP. A panel of five speakers comprising of Messrs John Tan, Jufrie Mahmood, Sylvester Lim and Gandhi Ambalam were on hand to present the SDP’s proposals in the various areas of our economy.

The audience repeatedly brought up these subjects during the discussion period and highlighted that the influx of foreign workers were causing wages to be depressed and that this had an adverse effect on productivity.

The forum was organised to discuss the Democrats’ alternative economic programme.

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Sheng Shiong’s extortionate increase — a failure of political representation

March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

(This article first appeared in The Online Citizen.)

Written by Ng E-Jay

From next month, supermarket chain Sheng Siong will increase the stall rentals by a whooping 30% at five of the wet markets it purchased last year.

The five wet markets are in Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Serangoon. The current monthly stall rental ranges from $2000 to $3000. Stallholders would likely have little choice but to pass on the cost to consumers, or risk going out of business.

Sheng Siong told Channel News Asia that it had no choice but to increase rental rates, as it had to pay bank interest fees, property tax and maintenance fees, after buying over the five wet markets for about S$25 million. [1]

Sheng Siong’s explanation unfortunately betrays the company as having engaged in predatory business tactics.

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Killing the Dying

March 24, 2010 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics, Dr Wong Wee Nam 

By Dr Wong Wee Nam
23rd March 2010

“You will not mistake my meaning or suppose that I depreciate one of the great humane studies if I say that we cannot learn law by learning law. If it is to be anything more than just a technique it is to be so much more than itself; a part of history, a part of economics and sociology, a part of ethics and a philosophy of life.”

— Lord Radcliffe, The Law and Its Compass

Writing in a recent issue of the Singapore Academy of Law Journal, a National University of Singapore law professor Stanley Yeo and DPP Toh Puay San had proposed that a terminally-ill patient be legally allowed to kill himself with the assistance of his doctor.

They even crafted a piece of draft legislation on this.

The article could have been just a piece of academic musing or it could have been a controversial kite flown to test the winds of public opinion. Whatever it is, a piece of legislation such as this would be an ill-conceived one.

Unlike strict liability, eg, traffic laws, where no moral issues are involved and hence do not need an input from society, the question of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is a very complex one. This is not just a medical problem but a moral and ethico-legal problem that has far-reaching effects on the moral fabric of society. Thus the question is: how much feedback have the authors received from the community before they penned the article?

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Has Singapore a Future?

March 19, 2010 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics, Dr Wong Wee Nam 

By Dr Wong Wee Nam
18th March 2010

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
— Bob Dylan

The young are the builders of tomorrow.

There was a time not very long ago when the young in Singapore were apathetic and too absorbed with material things and caring only about themselves. Indeed, many cared little for Singapore and quite a number, because they had the means, chose to migrate.

Who can blame them? For the last forty years a generation of Singaporeans has grown up in a stifling political climate. They have grown up on a staple diet fed by a controlled media and many aspects of their lives have been dictated by a lot of rules and regulations. They lived as if they were guests in a hotel and felt like children in a childcare centre supervised by a domineering nanny.

Who can blame them for lacking a sense of history?

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Cooling-off day may lead to heated confusion

March 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

(This article was originally written for The Online Citizen.)

Written by Ng E-Jay
16 March 2010

Three bills were tabled in Parliament last week to amend the Constitution as well as the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Acts. The proposed changes include raising the maximum number of Non-Constituency MPs from six to nine, making the Nominated MP scheme permanent, and introducing a cooling-off day prior to polling day in which no form of election campaigning is allowed except for party political broadcasts. [1] [2]

These bills will be debated by Parliament next month and are expected to become law.

The proposal to introduce a cooling-off day in particular is cause for grave concern. It has the potential to stifle legitimate political discourse by non-partisan players in cyberspace, and create an unfair playing field in which the mainstream media has a distinct advantage because it would be given free reign to express its views at a time when alternative voices might be silenced by law. Read more salutes Tak Boleh Tahan protesters

Written by Ng E-Jay
12 March 2010

On Thursday 11 March, the Tak Boleh Tahan protestors who congregated outside Parliament House almost exactly two years ago to call on the government to help the poor cope with escalating prices were convicted of assembly and procession without a permit.

The protesters conducted the event peacefully and did not on their own cause disruption to the public or to traffic flow, apart from attracting the interest of some on-lookers. Nonetheless they were still convicted under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Ms Chee Siok Chin, and Dr Chee were fined the maximum amount of $2,000 ($1,000 for each charge) and sentenced to 2 weeks’ jail in default. Seven others were each fined a total of $1,800 for the two charges and 12 days’ imprisonment in default.

The authorities have made it clear that no permit will be granted for outdoor political activities, rendering the permit system a white elephant that serves no purpose whatsoever. As clear as day too is the fact that certain laws in Singapore are used to stifle political dissent and prevent certain opposition voices from being heard publicly.

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Should treatment of chronic and terminal illnesses in Singapore enjoy better subsidies?

March 10, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

(This article was originally written for The Online Citizen.)

Written by Ng E-Jay
09 March 2010

French virologist Professor Francoise Barre-Sinoussi was one of the co-discoverers of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) some 27 years ago. Today, she has taken Singapore to task for failing to provide free treatment for HIV sufferers, who form one of the most stigmatized groups in our country.

Prof Barre-Sinoussi, who was at the Biopolis last week to share her latest research findings on Aids, said that although she was initially impressed by Singapore’s healthcare infrastructure, she found Singapore’s lack of free HIV treatment difficult to accept. [1]

In response, the Ministry of Health (MOH) pointed out that unlike France’s state-sponsored healthcare system which requires that a heavy tax burden be imposed on the population, Singapore’s approach of co-payments and subsidies allow for an affordable healthcare system without high taxes.

Read more condemns Gopalan Nair’s actions in the strongest possible terms

March 8, 2010 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
08 March 2010

On Sunday, former Singapore opposition politician turned Californian lawyer Gopalan Nair perpetrated an idiotic prank in which he alleged that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had suffered a heart attack and had been warded at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

But barely 24 hours later, he revealed that it had been a hoax and that he was gratified by the reaction that the blogosphere had provided him. In other words, he shamelessly wallowed in his own amusement at the expense of others.

I strongly condemn and denounce the despicable act of misinformation perpetrated by Gopalan Nair and call upon the blogosphere to similarly castigate and boycott his writings henceforth.

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Law enforcement nightmare at Geylang

March 8, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
08 March 2010

Is Singapore’s red-light district turning into a law enforcement nightmare for the authorities?

It was reported in one of the Chinese papers that in June 2007, a group of 200 gangsters harassed and assaulted four policemen during a late night raid on an illegal gambling den near Geylang Lorong 14 and 16.

Although the authorities have been actively clearing up scenes of illegal prostitution in Singapore’s famous red-light district, they have never been successful in disrupting the operations of illegal gambling syndicates which continue to flourish despite constant raids.

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