money money money.

leong-sze-hian(TOC resident statistician Leong Sze Hian speaking at Hong Lim Park Speakers Corner against CPF policies. Screen capture: Youtube)

The Online Citizen has recently submitted the necessary forms to MDA as required under the Broadcasting Act to undertake not to receive foreign funding as part of the management of the site.

TOC is the latest socio-political site after The Independent Singapore, Mothership.sg, and Yahoo Singapore to register itself in order to remain online. Now-defunct Breakfast Network Continue reading money money money.

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Workers’ Party will stand firm despite criticism

sdp_members(Photo: Internet. SDP unveiled its candidates in GE 2011. L-R: Vincent Wijeysingha, John Tan, Teo Soh Lung,  Michelle Lee, Jarrod Luo, James Gomez )

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Teo Soh Lung who contested in General Elections 2011 under Yuhua Single Member Constituency has posted a note to express her disappointment with opposition political parties as they did not express support for activists who got into trouble with the law (The note is appended at the end of this post).

Teo is referring to CPF activists Han Hui Hui & Roy Ngerng, human rights activist-cum-lawyer M Ravi and gay rights activist Alex Au. She wrote that opposition political parties fail to speak up when civil society “is under attack”. Continue reading Workers’ Party will stand firm despite criticism

PAP supporters don’t understand internet

lee-kuan-yew-radio-talk

(Photo: Channel NewsAsia – Lee Kuan Yew gave a series of talks on radio in 1961 to explain the Communist threat)

I am amused by the number of posts and Facebook pages created by PAP supporters on the internet, specifically Fabrications About the PAP, Fabrications Led by Opposition Parties, and Shut Down TRS.

All of them revolve around rallying for public support to shut down alternative media websites such as The Real Singapore, All Singapore Stuff, TR Emeritus and The Online Citizen.

Pro-establishment supporters are not familiar Continue reading PAP supporters don’t understand internet

Do Muslims in Singapore condemn ISIS?

RsafF15e

(Photo: The Straits Times)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke in Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan last week and affirmed Singapore’s intention of becoming a partner in a global coalition in countering the escalating threat of ISIS.

Lee specifically mentioned this is a battle against terrorism and a long haul strategy to secure the safety of Singapore and her citizens as ISIS ideology and recruitment methods are very effective in attracting foreign fighters to join its ranks, ironically, by using the media tools invented by the West.  The Singapore authorities have already detected Singaporean extremists who are fighting for ISIS. I doubt we need these extremists Muslims back in Singapore to spread their wayward views.

Lee did not lay out detailed plans about Singapore’s potential involvement. His speech was simply an assurance to the world that Singapore does not condone terrorism. The theme of the Asia-Europe Summit was “Responsible Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Security” and it is politically correct for Lee to express intentions that is beneficial to Singapore and her global partners.

Despite the lack of details,  Muslim Singaporeans in “I am Against Pinkdot” Facebook group have already jumped the gun and assumed that Singapore will send her F15SG fighter jets to bombard their ISIS “Muslim brothers” and ranted about American imperialism & their military industrial complex.  Syed Daniel even said that the coalition are cowards who dare not send in group troops.

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(Screen captures: Syed Daniel’s Facebook page)

He went on to explain the “difference between not supporting ISIS and supporting the coalition to bomb Iraq and Syria” because he is concerned about the health ill-effects the bombardment could bring to the civilians in Iraq & Syria. But in his carefully worded emotional appeals, he has never once condemn the atrocities of ISIS but instead chose to highlight that Singapore may be a focal point for terrorism and the cons for joining the coalition. He has also omitted the fact that ISIS fighters are hiding within civilian compounds.

In my earlier post, I wrote that the Singapore Armed Forces appear to have a distrust towards Singaporean Malays but postings by Syed Daniel justifies SAF’s manpower policies. Singaporeans in the past have expressed discontent over the suppression of discussion that is deemed religiously or racially insensitive in nature but the free flow of information also help Singaporeans to understand the underlying reasons for certain policies.

If Singaporeans such as Syed Daniel do not condemn ISIS, then I am curious what are their views of ISIS. Some even went on to the extend to suggest that the beheading videos by ISIS were staged by the CIA.

When David Horowitz asked a Muslim student in University of California San Diego pointedly whether she condemn Hamas, he got a non-committed response possibly due to fears of reprisal from her own Muslim community. Is that what Singaporean Muslims fear as well?

admin-we-are-against-pinkdot(Syed Daniel is the Administrator of “We are Against Pinkdot” Facebook group, an anti-LGBT group.)

I believe moderate Singaporean Muslims need not have the fear of speaking out against ISIS and extremism groups because their practice of moderate Islam is different from the hate that extremism groups are preaching (unless they think otherwise).  I still have faith that moderate Singaporean Muslims do not regard ISIS fighters as their Muslim brothers.

 

SAF volunteer corps – The divide deepens

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(Photo: The Singapore Army Facebook Page)

The SAF has introduced the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) for new citizens, permanent residents to contribute their time and sweat to Singapore’s national defence, regardless of their gender.

On first glance it look like the government is eager to build up national cohesiveness thanks to the liberal open door policy that led to the divide between Singaporeans and new Singaporeans with the latter taking advantage of the benefits of PR for several years before taking up citizenship.

But the setup of SAFVC is going to undo what the government has been trying to do. The government has always viewed conscription as a privilege to defend the nation, in contrary to what most Singaporeans think.

The SAFVC is effectively extending this privilege to new citizens. The Straits Times gave an overview of SAFVC on 12 October 2014 and I’m sure it shocked many that VC recruits are only required to undergo 4 weeks of training. But it is presumably that SAFVC is going to allow new citizens with the necessary experience to boost the support capabilities of SAF hence the 4 weeks of training is to simply induct the new citizens.

The ST report has given a good overview of the vocations that are available for SAFVC for now.

(Infographic: The Straits Times)

The choice of vocations available for SAFVC is contentious. It is an unspoken rule that Singaporeans of a certain race & faith are barred from certain sensitive vocations (because they put their religious belief above the state). But SAFVC has opened up C4 Expertise vocation and Naval Combat Engineering vocation for new citizens. So a former PRC national who has been a new Singapore citizen for one year is more trustworthy than a born-and-bred Singaporean who has lived here all his life?

What about the rank hierarchy? Will Singaporean regular soldiers or conscripts be pleased if they know a SAFVC soldier who has been through only 4 weeks of training has the authority to mete punishments? What is the highest appointment a SAFVC soldier can be appointed to? What is their rank equivalent to regular ranks?

Has the SAF created a problem to solve a problem?

The Hong Lim Park protesters were lucky

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(Photo: The Straits Times)

Last Saturday (27/09/2014), Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngerng continued their series of protest against the PAP governance of the CPF system, a social safeguard which has received some praises worldwide.

I think the main grouses with CPF system are the lack of control over ones’ hard earn monies and the increasing minimum sum that left some elder Singaporeans disillusioned. Seasoned financial professional and TOC veteran editor Leong Sze Hian has tried to dissect and critic the CPF system but he has hit a black box.  His protege Roy Ngerng tried but became a martyr after a blog post he wrote that criticized the CPF system crossed the line and alluded that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was corrupted.

Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngerng then began a series of Hong Lim Park rallies to gather support for Roy’s legal defense against Lee Hsien Loong and increase awareness of the alleged opaque CPF system. Together with other protest movements that are held regularly at Hong Lim Park, #ReturnOurCPF protests have become ordinary and it has lost its novelty. It is not surprising that interests have waned.

Just when you thought that the protest on 27/9 is going to be another ear-piercing shouting match, Han and Roy have shocked Singaporeans by hijacking a YMCA charity event meant for the disadvantaged and special needs children at an adjacent lawn . Several short video clips have surfaced which showed the protest organisers’ incivility but these clips may have portrayed an inaccurate picture of what had happened on that day.

The bombshell landed when a 17 minute video surfaced which showed Roy and Han have marched towards the YMCA stage three times and disrupted the performance on stage with their unruly behaviour. PAP junior Minister Teo Ser Luck who was the VIP for the YMCA event has become the target of Roy & Han when they screamed into the loudhailers demanding him to “Return Our CPF”. Some of the supporters of Roy & Han have even gotten physically close to Teo and displayed signs of aggression.

aggressive-1
aggressive-2

Were these supporters a physical threat to Teo? If they were, did Teo’s bodyguard fail in their duties by allowing these aggressive protesters to congregate near Teo? Isn’t the role of the bodyguards is to ensure the safety of the junior Minister? What are the security implications?

Had the VIP been a heavyweight minister such as Ng Eng Hen, or K Shanmugam, these aggressive protesters might have been pinned down, arrested and the situation would have turned chaotic.

Here is the full 17 minutes video:

Did the deputy public prosecutor even appeal?

According to Channel News Asia , three foreigners hatched an elaborate plan – enter Singapore in style illegally, abduct a child then leave Singapore. Diapers and passport for the abductee were prepared.

They entered Singapore without clearance in a catamaran and docked at Raffles Marina Pier. Its shockingly lax security clearance is only available from 9am to 5pm.

Adam Christopher Whittington was jailed 16 weeks, Todd Allan Wilson and the child’s mother was jailed 10 weeks each.

Whittington, who holds British and Australian passport is the director of NGO Child Abduction Recovery International, an organisation that specialises in recovering abducted children  and he has extensive military & law enforcement experience.

Photo of Adam Christopher Whittington From Facebook

[Photo of Whittington, from Child Abduction Recovery International Facebook page ]


[Photo: Allsingaporestuff.com]

I am sure many commoners such as myself who are not trained in law are  surprised that Whittington and Wilson have seemingly managed to escape lightly considering the severity of the offences .

Perhaps the security lapse at Raffles Marina Pier is a factor that contributed to the (light) sentences because the state has a role to play in the breach? Or because the state do not want to deal with another cane-an-angmoh since it now involves a British national?

Our local press seems to be very subdued in their reporting of the case as well.

[Photo: http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.com/ ] Singapore’s famous human rights lawyer M Ravi has argued that caning is inhumane. In this photo, M Ravi was seen with with a team of foreign lawyers

So many unanswered questions but who dares to press for answers?

 

 

Moderate Muslims in Singapore must speak up.

A Singapore company Al-Benyahya Enterprise hogged the media limelight recently for the sale of alleged ISIS flags. The owner has denied links to terrorism and lodged a police report to protect his reputation.


(Photo: Today)

The familiar black flag is often used by terrorist organisations and its afflicates for their propaganda campaigns. The flag is known to the west as the Black Standard. Due to heightened threat posed by ISIS, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameroon has declared the possession of the flag is illegal.


(Photo:Harianblogger.com)

Besides the flag, terrorists who appear in their own propaganda materials often have their right index finger raised, depicting the “number one” sign — the sign of unity of the Ummah, or the universal Muslim brotherhood.



(Photos: Hardwarezone Forums)

At a time of heightened uneasiness over radical Muslims who flew to Iraq to join the ISIS militants and the beheading of U.S journalist James Foley, Al-Benyahya Enterprise and its associates had openly sold the Black Standard Flag and posed with the flag without giving second thoughts about the impression that they are portraying.


(Photo: Facebook)

One of them, Zulfikar Shariff has praised Osama Bin Laden in 2002 in a media interview. He then fled to Australia citing fears of “political persecution” but returned recently and managed to stay out of trouble despite showing support towards ISIS terrorist group.


(Picture: AllSingaporeStuff.com)

Under such context, the Malay Muslim community in Singapore should unite and speak up to counter the image that ISIS and local extremists have portrayed on the whole Muslim community. Funnily, the local Muslim community were so vocally anti-Israel when the Jewish state launched ground offensive against Hamas with some even called for the boycott of McDonalds but the community were muted when it comes to ISIS and its local supporters.

The Malay Muslim community must take the initiatives to show Singaporeans that they can be entrusted with more responsibilities especially on defence matters.

Instead of preaching to the non-Muslims that the fear of putting a SAF Malay (Muslim) serviceman behind a machine gun is over, WP MP Pritam Singh should urge Malay Muslims Singaporeans to speak up against extremism instead.

If the Malay Muslim community do not take a clear and firm stand sooner, Singaporeans who have grown up in the social media age witnessing the brutality of ISIS will gratefully remember former Prime Minster Lee Kuan Yew’s gloomy views on Islam.

(Picture: Hardwarezone forums)

Is this year’s National Day Rally a reflection of pessimistic outlook for Singapore?

pmlee-ndr

(Photo: Yahoo Singapore)

In this year’s National Day Rally, PM Lee told Singaporeans that everyone should have equal opportunities in the workforce regardless of their academic qualifications. In his presentation, he singled out individuals who had rose through the ranks in the private sector despite their lack of paper qualifications.

I doubt non-degree workers can rejoice as the system and values are too entrenched within the society so the very top who have studied hard in their teenage years will scoff at Lee’s attempt to placate the green-eye crowd. Neither should degree holders be too concerned that they were being placed on the same level of non-degree holders.

Ostensibly, Lee is trying to show appreciation for the non-degree holders and blue-collar workers who have the hands-on skills and helped to shape the Singapore economy with their sweat. Most are are drawing a much lower salary compared to the management executives.

Lee raised the concerns of degree gluts that is happening now in Taiwan, South Korea and China but he is careful not to highlight the potential issue of salary exceptions.

He has probably anticipated that Singapore is going to have difficulties keeping up with the salary expectations of new graduates.

Let’s take a look at the tuition fees for semester 2014/2015 for our three full-time unis: NUS, NTU and SMU.

  • SMU students are required to pay $11,000 of tuition fee annually.SMU FEES
  • NTU students are required to pay $7,850 annually.
  • NUS students are required to pay around ~$8,000 annually.

These numbers are inclusive of government subsidies and the amount varies depending on the course but those are base figures.

A full-time 4 years course with direct honours cost a Singaporean between $31,400 and $44,000 depending the institution he or she goes to.

This means most Singaporeans have to be burdened with study loans upon graduation and that requires them to secure a good paying job to service these loans. Assuming a SMU grad services $1,000 monthly, a very conservative calculation tells you it takes at least 3.5 years to redeem the loan.

With such burdens, our local grads cannot afford to take up $3,000 per month (or less) jobs in SMEs or start-up which are unable to provide good job security or dish out good bonuses.

It is more preferable for graduates to join government sector, MNC or financial institutions which have deep pockets to satisfy their aspirations and allows them to be relieved from the burden of study loans sooner.

I believe PM Lee is not confident that Singapore will have sufficient number of good paying jobs for our undergraduates who are going to join the work force a couple of years later with a heavy burden.

With an uncertain global outlook, it is better to make the non-grads and grads compete against one another now to benefit the economy as much as possible before the tsunami hits.

A Question of Loyalty?

Palestinian militants are trading rockets with Israel again. Israel retaliated by launching air strikes against Hamas military sites in Gaza and re-calling 40,000 military reserves. The latest skirmish was seemingly sparked off after 3 Israeli teenager hikers were found murdered in West Bank [Link]. Jewish extremists retaliated by burning a Palestinian teenager alive [Link]. I am trivializing their decades of bloodshed to say these murders are the causes of the latest military offensive.

It is curiously interesting to observe Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing statements [Link ] condemning the murder of the Israeli teens & calls for restrain on the escalation of violence [Link]. Singapore has avoided mentioning support for Israel publicly in the past. What is worrying are the responses of Malay Muslim netizens towards these press statements. They voiced out strongly to pledge support for Palestinians, condemn Israel and dissatisfied that Singapore had took sides with Israel [Link 1 , Link 2].

In Parliament this week, DPM Teo Chee Hean revealed there are Singaporean Muslims participating in the recent Syria conflict and there are plans by others to do so [Link]. Instead of distancing themselves from these wayward Singaporeans, the Malay community has shocked non-Malay Singaporeans by passing cynical remarks against Teo and expressing support for these Singaporeans in Syria [Link 1, Link 2].

These cynics have probably forgotten that a SAF officer Muhammad Ali bin Abd Al-Rahman who held the rank of Major had become a Islamic terrorist in Philippines. He was killed in an air-strike [Link].

It has become apparent that religious tie is the factor that invoked the sympathy of local Malay community towards conflicts that are distant from Singapore.

The Malay community has always griped of discrimination in the military – such as the lack of Malay Muslim soldiers in certain SAF vocations and SAF units. This contentious issue has been raised several times by politicians on internet [Link] and in parliament [Link]. I had served in sensitive vocations in the SAF, but my superiors never told me the reasons for not having Malay Muslims soldiers in my unit.

I had Indian mates, Chinese mates and Eurasian mates then but we did not ask that question. There seems to be an unspoken common understanding.

To be entrusted by SAF to serve in sensitive vocations means they have faith that you will place country above everything else. I guess it is up to different communities to prove it.

Perhaps I should get a copy of Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truth book.