Tuesday, March 20, 2007

China TV programmes

China, an authoritarian state not unlike SG, has a more liberal and progressive media that puts Mediacorpse and the MICA to shame.

Don't believe? Just watch the clips below taken from a talk show call '鲁豫有约' on Phoenix TV or 凤凰卫视. It is a heart warming story of a gay couple in China. Other than the taboo subject itself, the show displays great understanding of the universal human condition of love and yearning which applies to both gays and straight people. I think such shows are wonderful becos it reaches out to people and helps improve understanding of our fellow human being and remove prejudices.

Btw i find the female host 陈鲁豫 is quite cute and pretty leh hehehe...

Part One

Part Two

凤凰卫视 is available on Cable but i dunno whether this episode has ever been shown here. But for sure you will never see such programmes on our local channels. And that says a lot about the close mindedness of those people up there really.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What do you call such behaviour?

Today reports the following. It is the latest chapter in the rise and fall of PY. And I simply has to put the whole article here for my own keepsake hehe.

A loaded farewell
Philip Yeo uses MM Lee's name to assure scientists and put things on the record

Tan Hui Leng

SINGAPORE'S biomedical research champion Philip Yeo bid farewell to his yet-to-be-realised dream, but not without making clear that there is no change in the Government's thrust despite a high-profile debate sparked off by neurologist Lee Wei Ling.

That storm, as Mr Yeo described it, shocked not only local scholars but also the big-name scientists wooed, and sometimes cajoled, by the man himself to do research here.

He also invoked the stature and clout of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to send this message to the whales (brand-name scientists) and guppies (younger Singapore scientists).

"Let me quote Mr Lee: 'This issue has been deliberated over a period of several months in Cabinet and decided by Mr Goh Chok Tong and his Cabinet. The policy has been continued by Mr Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet. We have made significant investments in time and resources. We have to get the most out of what we have put in,'" said Mr Yeo, the outgoing chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in a thank-you lunch hosted by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang on Wednesday.
Mr Yeo — who was quoted as saying in December that he would have liked to continue with his A*Star mission for two more years — will step down as chairman at the end of this month to head Spring Singapore

That Mr Yeo chose to invoke the Minister Mentor's name to reassure the biomedical community was not surprising, a source close to A*Star told Today.

After all, when Dr Lee fired the first salvo in the big biomed debate in February, she told Reuters that she had raised her concerns about Singapore's biomedical policy with her father, Mr Lee.

And in a reply to a question on whether the Government was listening to her concerns that Singapore's biomedical sciences might be heading down the wrong road, Dr Lee told the news agency: "All I can say is that maybe they are having a rethink."

A*Star later said in a statement that "there is no rethink or change in the Government's biomedical sciences policy".

Still, the debate continued.

The source said: "The (Yeo-Lee) debate has spooked the top names who gave up their bright careers in their countries to come to Singapore. They were upset and uncertain.

"The use of Mr Lee's quote by Mr Philip Yeo has to be seen in this context. Who else can allay the fears of the 'whales' and bring this debate to a close?"

When asked to comment on Mr Yeo's latest remarks, Dr Lee, who is director of the National Neuroscience Institute, told Today: "I stand by my views ... Sometimes, the observer on the ground has a truer picture than the observer from the helicopter."

Apart from hoping to have the last word on the debate, Mr Yeo's speech was also notable for what he was trying to say in between the lines.

Lest Singaporeans forget, Mr Yeo, 60, reminded his audience that he had played a key role in developing Singapore's "second wing", which saw the development of the Batam Industrial Park and his "favourite", Bintan Beach International Resorts.

In 1998, he also had to put aside a joint industrial project with China in Wuxi to "assist in turning around the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park", which was not progressing as fast as its planners had initially hoped.

The source told Today: "I think Mr Yeo was using the occasion to put on record his achievements and possibly to show that if, for some reason, there is a departure from his thrust, then it was not his decision."

Mr Yeo also gave his audience an insight into just how close he was to the Minister Mentor. More than once, Mr Yeo made a different career choice because of Mr Lee's intervention.

In the mid-1980s, for example, Mr Yeo said he would have joined Singapore Airlines if not for Mr Lee's advice for him to move to the Economic Development Board (EDB). In 2000, when he was mulling over a lucrative career as chairman of a Singapore-based holding company, it was again Mr Lee who asked him to stay on and "carry on with my life-sciences pursuit" at the EDB.

And last year, after Mr Yeo announced that he was leaving A*Star, Mr Lee "asked me to help out with international projects as Special Adviser for Economic Development at the Prime Minister's Office".

As Mr Yeo looked back at his years in the civil service, he seemed to have one regret: Not spending enough time with his family.

He quoted a "rebuke, albeit a respectful one" from his son, Gene, who sent him this message:

Daughter's doing great at Brandeis
Son's slogging at Salk
Both missing dad
Did not spend as much time with family.

"In this Year of the Pig, I intend to reserve some time for my family," Mr Yeo said as he ended his speech on a wistful note — so atypical of the hard-driving, hard-talking untouchable star.

Destination SIA?

At his farewell lunch, Mr Yeo wondered aloud if an offer made over 20 years ago for him to lead SIA was still valid.

In August 1985, Mr Goh Keng Swee, then the chairman of the Monetary Auth-ority of Singapore, had advised Mr Yeo not to join the EDB. But then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew told Mr Yeo that he should join the EDB "as I was needed there".

"Mr Lee also said that I could go to SIA at a later date. I wonder if the offer had an expiry date," Mr Yeo quipped.

As usual PY makes a lot of noise. Except this time it sounds like ITE – It's the End! Hahahaha!

1. The fact that PY is to leave sooner (end of this month) than the two more yrs he hoped for says a lot already. And joining the relatively obscure SPRING Singapore is a big step down and confirms the decline in his fortune.

2. Bringing out LKY’s name and throwing it around is quite shameful. It is not unlike the behaviour of a eunuch in an imperial court. The eunuch has lost power and is now bawling out loud trying to get as much attention as possible for himself from anyone who cares to listen.

3. Today calls it a loaded farewell. Very true! When no one bothers to listen to a eunuch anymore what does the eunuch do? That's right, go public and play to the gallery. Bringing out his son’s email is downright cringing and shameless. Actually it reminds me of TT Durai whose daughter wrote a letter that was read out in parliament. You know one’s time is up when they have nothing else more to say other than start talking about past glory and inconsequential family matters.

4. Today writes, "It is not often that a Singaporean civil servant uses a farewell lunch to talk about his successes. But then again, Mr Yeo is no normal civil servant." Today is being very polite. (Must be polite lah wait PY threaten to sue then how?) Certainly PY is no normal civil servant; he is an abnormally arrogant, ungracious civil servant who should have retired a long time ago.

5. Going on and on endlessly about Mr Lee this Mr Lee that sounds like the tune of a desparate sycophant. To top it off PY brings in the SIA offer (20 yrs ago) that has obviously lapsed a long long time ago. Oh my god this is getting so embarrassing. If I am Mr Lee I will be very put off and embarrassed... one of my eunuchs is begging in public using my name! Quick put it down before it turns rabid!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Preventive Detention

Other than the ISA, looks like there is this other law that allows for detention without trial in SG. A letter from the MHA appeared in the ST forum today which got me to go dig up the original letter to see what it was about. The original letter is below followed by MHA's reply.

In the original letter, Mr Daud asks two important questions which I have bolded out.

March 7, 2007
Ensure due process of law for accused persons

THE pilot project mentioned by Senior Minister of State (Home Affairs and Law) Ho Peng Kee to allow an accused to see his lawyer before investigations are over is a step towards ensuring fair prosecution and due process of law for all Singaporeans.

Due process places requirements and limitations on legal proceedings to ensure fundamental fairness and justice.

It is based on the principle that the Government must respect its citizens' right to life, liberty and property and must make a substantial effort before these rights can be taken away.

Under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, if the Minister for Home Affairs is satisfied that a person has been associated with activities of a criminal nature and it is necessary that the person be detained in the interest of public safety, the minister may detain the person for any period not exceeding 12 months. The accused can also be detained for multiple consecutive periods of 12 months. This power of preventive detention seems to go against ensuring the right of every Singaporean to due process of law.

While Singaporeans trust the Government to prosecute fairly, must it be without checks? Why not ensure a full due process of the law as a check on this trust?

Do we want a system that might fail to prosecute some guilty persons or one that could wrongly prosecute an innocent person?

As the Act has to be renewed by Parliament every five years to remain law, I hope our elected leaders will deliberate if it is in the public interest to renew the Act or have a system to ensure every accused Singaporean his or her right to a fair prosecution.

If our leaders do renew the Act in 2009, I hope that they will explain the rationale.

Ahmad Firdaus Daud

The MHA’s reply.

March 14, 2007
Safeguards in criminal law Act prevent abuse

I REFER to the letter by Mr Ahmad Firdaus Daud, 'Ensure due process of law for accused persons' (ST, March 7).

While our law-enforcement agencies always endeavour to prosecute criminals in court, there are situations where this is not possible. This is the case when key witnesses fear to testify in open court for fear of reprisal against them or their loved ones.

The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act is then used, as a last resort, to place dangerous criminals under preventive detention to safeguard public safety and good order. The Act has enabled us to deal effectively with secret-society members, drug traffickers, and organised-crime and loan-shark syndicates. Other societies without similar powers face great difficulties dealing with such organised crime syndicates.

But this does not mean that there is no due process under the Act. Indeed, the Act sets out many safeguards to ensure that the powers that it provides are not abused. Hence, the Attorney-General's consent, in his capacity as the Public Prosecutor, is required before a case is sent to the Minister for Home Affairs for his decision on whether to issue a detention order.

The detainee is informed of the grounds for his detention and is given the opportunity to make representations. These representations, either made by him or his lawyers, are then put before an Advisory Committee - comprising prominent private citizens such as Justices of the Peace, senior lawyers and community leaders - which will study them as well as all the evidence before making its recommendations on the order to the President, who may confirm or cancel the order.

If detained, his continued detention is subject to the Advisory Committee's review on an annual basis.

The Act remains a temporary provision with a five-year sunset clause. This approach ensures that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in exercising powers under the Act, is mindful that preventive detention is a departure from the normal process of court prosecution and should be used sparingly. In Parliament, when seeking its renewal, MHA has to convince Parliament of the need for its continued use.

MHA will continue to judiciously use the Act to deal with dangerous criminals and to ensure that the crime and drug situation in Singapore remains under control.

Ong-Chew Peck Wan (Mrs)
Corporate Communications Division
for Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Home Affairs

From my lame understanding of law, due process means when a person gets accused of wrong doings the burden rests on the prosecution to prove guilt and conviction in court. Until that happens the accused is only a suspect and not a criminal.

The MHA person says that a due process (in this case a trial in court) is sometimes not possible because "key witnesses fear to testify in open court for fear of reprisal against them or their loved ones". She then goes on to justify the law saying that it is "a last resort, to place dangerous criminals under preventive detention to and good order."

This sounds logical at first, all the talk of safeguard public safety. But notice the use of the word 'criminals'. Now this is a big jump from being just a suspect or an accused. Becos how can an accused become a criminal especially since there is no court trial and conviction? So preventive detention is really on suspects and not on criminals. There is a big big distinction here. Hence Mr Daud’s point of the law infringing on human rights.

The MHA person then goes on to stress that there is indeed due process. A detainee (the accused who has overnight becomes a criminal) "can make representations to an Advisory Committee... which will study them as well as all the evidence before making its recommendations on the order to the President, who may confirm or cancel the order." This again does not sound logical becos all of a sudden now we have 'evidence' - Evidence that earlier is not strong enough to stand in an open court but now strong enough to put a person away for detention! Now this is definitely a much weaker due process than a trial in court, becos I think making representations is a much simplified procedure that is not transparent. It is not the usual rigorous process where prosecution and defendant have the opportunity to openly engage in argument, cross examinations and fighting it out in court. Also the person now playing god is the president, someone who is neither a trained lawyer nor possess legal knowledge, and who furthermore is beholden to the executive and hardly independent.

So it seems the system is stacked heavily in the prosecution’s favour. It is almost like giving the prosecution a second chance. "Oh you know we don’t have enough evidence to go to court and we may lose, but hey we could resort to this to tekan him anyway, muahahaha!" *evil laugh* Why should the prosecution’s job be made easy and the defendants' so much harder? If the prosecution does not have enough evidence, then go out there work some more to get stronger evidence! Earn your bloody paycheck! Otherwise there is no ground for detention. And some more detention for 12 months? That's a long time and as good as destroying a person's life, becos once you are detained they will make sure your crime sticks and even if you are innocent you will still end up "guilty". (Re: Chia Tye Poh) Becos there is no way for them to admit making mistakes as they will lose face and face justice.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Foreigner backstabs SGian!!!

Yes let's increase foreigner population!
Total ownage...

Dispute between 2 staff at restaurant ends in death of 25-year-old
By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 10 March 2007 2257 hrs

SINGAPORE : A fight between two staff at the Soup Spoon restaurant at Raffles City Shopping Centre resulted in the death of one of them.

Police said they received a call at 7.05pm that a fight had taken place at the restaurant located at the basement of Raffles City.

When they arrived, they found a 25-year-old Singaporean lying face down on the kitchen floor, with a stab wound on his back.

A 43-year-old China national, also a staff of the restaurant, was arrested at the scene.

Police are currently investigating the incident. - CNA /ls

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Lives of Others

I just watched this German film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It has an interesting story. Without giving too much away the story is set in East Germany or GDR (German Democratic Republic) in the 1980s before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The totalitarian state routinely spies on its own citizens, encourages confessions for "crimes against the state", and jails people at will. Needless to say it was a dark period in Germany’s history.

An agent, Hauptmann (Left), working for the Stasi or East German secret police has been assigned to wiretap a playwright, Dreyman, to look for incriminating evidence that will put the artist away for the "good of the state". However as Hauptmann's mission progresses and he listens in to every intimate detail in Dreyman's life, he begins to empathise with the unsuspecting Dreyman...

What I liked about the movie is the depiction of hypocrisy of a dictatorship that calls itself a democratic republic. The ideals and values of socialism are perverted and abused by the rulers over the ruled. Suicide statistics are state secrets, and harmless jokes about the party chairman can jeopardize the career of civil servants. There is no freedom and human rights... in other words it is a sad and ridiculous state of affairs. At times I find myself with a knowing smile, I guess dictatorship comes in all forms but its traits are universal.

Early on in the movie there is this dialogue between the Cultural Minister and Dreyman where the Minister tells Dreyman to "write whatever he wants, bcos people's mind won't be changed so easily". He then promptly puts Dreyman under secret surveillance. Dreyman too believes that people won't be changed so easily, but his belief stems purely from having faith in humanity, almost naively if you ask me. The great sadness here is that they are both right. At one end the dictatorial state doesn't trust the people and believes in the worst possible, and they are not wrong – see how swiftly the wall crumbled overnight. At the other end those like Dreyman are too trusting... maybe bcos faith is the only thing they have got. Meanwhile the majority of the people in between just don’t care and this allows the dictatorship to carry on. People like Hauptmann, a kind of anti-hero, does not exist in real life. Most people are seduced too easily by money or material rewards, while people like Dreyman are just too few to make a difference. It is depressing if you think about it.

But it is only a movie, and quite a good one too. I recommend it!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Another MRT "accident"!

This afternoon! Confirmed plus chop! At either Kranji or Woodlands station!

NS discriminates SG Males

A while ago I chanced upon this blog. The blogger is a nominated Member of Parliament. He shared with me his brief and generally sitting-on-the-fence views when I posted a few questions about NS and reservist to him.

A fellow male SGian saw his reply and wrote back to him. You can follow this link but I have pasted the reply here.

I disagree with your [i.e. Siew’s] views about NS call-up. I was with IBM (prettyenlighten MNC) some years ago. As consultant, part of our performance indicator was the "Billable hours" we clocked.

120 hrs lost a year (ICT) shows up clearly on graphs & charts, especially when 60% of the group were non-Singaporean. We were band in the lower percentile and not only loose out in increment, bonuses, but also in promotion opportunities.

In order to minimise that, some of us choose to take long overseas projects to stay ahead of competition and avoided ICT (not always successful).

Now that I'm making hiring decision, I realised it's cheaper to hire Indian consultants even when they are asking for the same pay as Singaporeans just because of the employer CPF contribution. I'm referring to pretty entry level job, when a local fresh grad is asking for the same salary as an imported Indians with a 3-4 yrs of experience, a MBA or Master in IT and no ICT liability.

Why should any truly enlighten employer give chance to locals when they can get better employees at the same price? Shouldn't an enlighten individual threat everybody the same and give equal opportunity to the best talents?

Deprived of the experience, the local fresh grads will loose out in the long run (not talking about the top 25% of each class who should not have problem landing on good jobs). When these imported talents decides to return home or find better opportunities in US, the cumulated knowledge goes with them and Singapore loose out. It's a lost-lost to both Singapore companies as well as citizens.

Think about it. Most of our Ministers are too short-term minded. You cannot govern just looking and numbers.

Siew disagrees with the above and responds saying that

"An enlightened employer is one who will recognise that NS is an obligation imposed on all Singaporean males, and that an employer located in Singapore should support that. This is especially so when the decision-maker is Singaporean himself.

It is a short-sighted, dollars-and-cents kind of guy who just looks at numbers, who would give a job to a foreigner simply because he does not have NS liability and is cheaper since employers' CPF contribution is not payable. And what is particularly disappointing is that Kevin, after having been at the receiving end of discrimination due to NS, turns around and discriminates against locals due to CPF."

Actually I dunno what Siew is trying to say. Words like "recognise" and "support NS" are the usual rah rah sounding and politically correct things to say. But they don't address the specifics of the problem at all. Siew says that it is short sighted if an employer just looks at numbers. That may be well and true. But the undeniable fact is that everything being equal, i.e. same asking salary, same qualification, same expertise, a male Sgian having reservist liabilities is straight away crippled compared to a foreigner or PR who does not cause such disruptive problems to his employer. And if it is a foreigner, lagi better bcos for foreigner the employer does not have to contribute to his CPF! Siew says there are other factors to consider. But with due respect to him, there isn't any point going into other blah blah factors when one is already crippled at the start by this basic fundamental disadvantage.

Another blogger Molly Meek wrote a wonderful response to Siew on her blog. Considering Molly is a female and doesn't need to do NS and reservist I would say she sees the whole issue a lot clearer than Siew. 'Institutionalised Disadvantage' is what it is but the gahment in ivory tower just turns a blind eye and does not listen. As much as I love my country, and try very hard to find something likeable about it. I can no longer find any reason to. Is it therefore any wonder that a recent survey finds 37 percent of Singaporean youths say they are not patriotic and more than half want to migrate overseas if given a chance?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Scrap Reservist Training!

Fellow reservist Abdul Salim suggests doing away with NS and implement voluntary reservist instead. And i agree with him 1000%!

His blog is here.

Another post about No Action Talk Only and broken promises...