Malaysia

I have spent the last few weeks in Malaysia doing research, so I suppose it’s only apt that I write a bit about this wonderful country.

I am now certain that food in Malaysia is better than in Singapore. I used to always tell people that the food is the same in both countries. But now my mind is made up. And it’s not simply a function of better/ fresher ingredients. There is more variety, they are more adventurous, they are more innovative.

Traffic in KL is horrendous. Taxis drivers are underpaid and hence lack motivation. In some situations, it is impossible to move if you do not have your own car. It reminds me of LA. And, IMHO, the same developmental blunder is at the root of their misery – a strong lobby that wanted to put a car in the hands of every citizen. For Ford, read Proton. Cheap cars, low investment in public transport, horrible traffic jams.
(Please try to digest the above para with Singapore lenses…i.e. if you’re coming from Bangkok, you may not find KL’s traffic that bad)

KL-ites are not punctual. And traffic is often cited as justification for this sloppiness. How to argue? So, always call before leaving for a meeting – three times (out of 8 meetings) the person cancelled at the last minute. Second, expect other party to be about 30 minutes late.

Hmm, nevertheless, I learned how to relax a bit more, and then I got into the swing of things…quite a merry pace of life.

and super food.

a Singaporean dilemma?

I reproduce the below correspondence between an old Junior College classmate and myself, only to show the struggle that many of my contemporaries may currently face…

This was in response to me telling him that I was, for the foolish moment, trying to make it as a full-time writer in Singapore.

“I am probably coming home in late june/july for a month or so.
In any case, continue to do whatever it is you do, biographies,
writing, etc. It is truly a relief and a welcome change from the rest
of us who have to hold down regular jobs. I like my job (it’s sort of
non-hierarchical and erm, own time own target) but I am glad you are
trying to do what I would never dare to even attempt.
It’s this idea of responsibility and respectability tied to a
conventional job (most preferably a professional one, lawyer, banker
etc) that’s so deeply embedded that even when I recognize it as a
facade for us to hide behind, i cannot abandon it.
It’s such a vicious cycle too. I get job, I pretend I am a
professional, to extend the pretensions I need to buy a house, a car
and all the other accoutrements that come with professional life, and
therefore i need money which means I need the job.(usually more than
the job needs me).

ah well, i can ramble on. but i’ll save for when i get home next month or so.
i do wish for the old jc days when things were simpler. i hope to see you soon. ”

Courts in Singapore come under scrutiny

That’s the title of a great piece in last Tuesday’s International Herald Tribune. Do read it, a landmark case where a Canadian Court of Appeal is set to determine the fairness and impartiality of Singapore’s judicial system.

Stay tuned, what they unearth during the entire trial will be quite interesting.

Besides, we Singaporeans generally only respond to economic incentives, pressures or impulses. This commercial dispute – between Canadian and Singaporean companies – will strengthen the integrity and independence of our judiciary.

If need be, that is.

Singapore Elections Key Points

The People’s Action Party (PAP) will form our Government with 66.6% of the vote.

The opposition won 33.3% of the vote. i.e. they have the support of 1 in 3 Singaporeans.
However, our first past the post voting system ensures that 1/3 of the vote only garners them 2 out of 84 seats in Parliament, or 2.38%.
This is a huge disjoint between popular support and parliamentary representation.

I have much respect for the residents of Hougang and Potong Pasir, the two wards with incumbent opposition candidates. In the run-up to the election, the PAP promised them S$100 million and S$80 million respectively – in the form of estate upgrading plans – if they voted them in. Despite the dangling carrot, the residents once again chose the charming Mr. Low Thia Kiang and the indefatigable Mr. Chiam See Tong to represent them.

The next time somebody says that Singaporeans are all materialistic and lacking in ideals, tell them to go visit Hougang and Potong Pasir. (It is a claim that this blogger often makes..:( I am surely guilty of generalizing)

So, the ruling party is back in power. It’s actually all well and good, nobody else can possibly run this country now. But kudos to the opposition, most of all, for awakening thousands of Singaporeans out of political apathy.

The people are engaged.