GE2020: Why the PAP needs a strong mandate in parliament

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has told us it needs a strong mandate. Yet it is intentionally unclear about what “a strong mandate” means and why it needs it. So, let’s assume that “strong mandate” refers to a supermajority in parliament, i.e. at least two-thirds of seats. I’m sure most of the PAP means something much stronger, like 100% of the seats, which is … Continue reading GE2020: Why the PAP needs a strong mandate in parliament

What immigration rate is Heng Swee Keat targeting for Singapore? Voters deserve to know.

Last year Heng Swee Keat’s office got in touch because it objected to a published line of mine: “With Singapore’s prime-minister-in-waiting eager to again double the city’s population to ten million…”

I had based this comment off a Straits Times article that reported:

“Singapore’s population density is not excessive, he [HSK] said, noting that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of liveable space. He cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.”

This was my thinking. If you ask somebody a question, and they cite somebody else as an answer, a reasonable person would conclude that HSK concurs with Liu.

It’s like if you ask me what my favourite TV series this year is and instead of giving you a direct answer, I say: “Well critics consider Crash Landing on You to be the best.” Continue reading “What immigration rate is Heng Swee Keat targeting for Singapore? Voters deserve to know.”

Are Singapore’s politicians moderating or inflaming ethnic tensions?

Recent support by K Shanmugam, law minister, for a commentary by Tan Wu Meng, a fellow politician with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), begs the question of whether Singapore’s leaders possess the requisite broad-mindedness and maturity to moderate racial harmony in today’s prickly, post-George Floyd, “Black Lives Matter” world. Tan, an ethnic Chinese, used the party’s online platform to attack Pritam Singh, the ethnic … Continue reading Are Singapore’s politicians moderating or inflaming ethnic tensions?

Pandemic politicking: an open letter to a minister

PAP politicians Sun Xueling and Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim handing out reusable masks to the homeless in Potong Pasir on April 29th 2020, during Singapore’s circuit breaker (effective lockdown) and more than two weeks after the party officially stopped all ground activities.  Dear friends in Singapore, below is the last piece I intend to write on pandemic politicking. It is an open letter that I have … Continue reading Pandemic politicking: an open letter to a minister

Have politicians been setting a good example? A pandemic timeline.

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On Sunday April 12, five days after Singapore’s effective lockdown (known as circuit breaker) began, Chia Shi-Lu, a politician with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), visited the Alexandra Village Food Centre.

“We were not doing a walkabout, we were there to tell people to wear masks when serving and please wear masks, it was more an education thing,” was Chia’s response.

Strange, then, that Chia, a medical doctor, chose to perform this selfless act accompanied by an entourage, including a prospective political candidate and a photo journalist from Lianhe Zaobao, a government-controlled Chinese newspaper.

Continue reading “Have politicians been setting a good example? A pandemic timeline.”

Some recent corona-related writing

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Photo by Rob O’Brien/Flickr

Dear reader, if you follow me on Facebook you might find the below repetitive. This is mostly for the benefit of those who don’t.

It’s been a busy month, as many of us have felt the need to speak up about the horrible COVID-19 crisis at Singapore’s migrant worker dormitories—what I have called “independent Singapore’s biggest ever humanitarian crisis”, a phrase that has been picked up. Good.

There has also been a lot associated racism and xenophobia.

Writing has been especially taxing because assorted censors have sprung up all around society, seeking to shut us up. My posts below, some satire, touch on these aspects.

Thankfully there has also been a lot of support from readers. Much appreciated!

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Singapore: Let’s not ignore the downtrodden; nor those who speak up for them

On April 9th I published a commentary in New Naratif about the migrant worker crisis. First few paragraphs here:

Singapore has rightly won plaudits for its pandemic response thus far. Yet the recent emergence of clusters of infections at four foreign-worker dormitories shows that complacency is creeping in. What can we learn from this episode?

Continue reading “Some recent corona-related writing”

Why I have yet to install TraceTogether, Singapore’s COVID-19 contact tracing app

In a perfect world with complete trust in Government, every Singaporean would download the TraceTogether App to assist in national COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. Thus it is unfortunate that some of us do not yet have the requisite level of trust. Unfortunate firstly because it seems like our brilliant techies engineered an app that has sufficient safeguards for those concerned about government surveillance. The location … Continue reading Why I have yet to install TraceTogether, Singapore’s COVID-19 contact tracing app

Chan Chun Sing, our beng?

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Everybody I know who knows Chan Chun Sing likes him.

Smart, folksy, straight-talker, authentic, humble beginnings, frugal, hard worker who tirelessly works the ground, all well known attributes. I like his accent and liberal use of colloquialisms.

I have enjoyed stories about how he likes driving his security detail around (rather than being driven) and how, in conversations with elite civil servants, he has championed the need to cultivate closer ties with our immediate neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, an issue close to my heart.

All that gives me reason for pause when critiquing CCS. In the ivory tower that writers sometimes appear to occupy, one invariably wonders about the image of a person that the media projects. CCS is not the bumbling buffoon caricatured by his kee chiu antics, something I’ve heard many times.

Yet, as with most things, Continue reading “Chan Chun Sing, our beng?”

The day Singapore’s education minister lost some credibility

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Last Monday was a dark day for Singapore’s parliament. Ong Ye Kung, our education minister, presided over a shameful, horrid witch-hunt, using language that might have impressed the Puritans of 17th century colonial Massachusetts.

The primary target was Alfian Sa’at, a local playwright. Continue reading “The day Singapore’s education minister lost some credibility”

a conversation this Friday about ghosts & politics

dear friends in Singapore, this Friday BooksActually, our favourite indie bookstore in Tiong Bahru, will be open for 24 hours (see the Facebook event page). Kenny Leck and team have scheduled an interesting series of talk cock sessions and performances. At 8pm June 21st I will be on a panel alongside Kokila Annamalai and Sufian Hakim. We will explore the topic of “Ghosts & politics”. … Continue reading a conversation this Friday about ghosts & politics