Individuals can discuss Elections online on Cooling Off Day according to Govt’s rules

There’s no need to gag yourself even though many Singaporeans are self-censoring, frightened by the Cooling Off Day. Read the press release issued by the Govt on this matter.  From the release it looks clear that the cooling off is for campaign activities and not to gag individuals. So it is safe to go ahead and discuss as we well should as it is about our country’s elections.

Confirm it for yourself by reading the latest ELD press release here

Extracted from ELD rules on Cooling off day and Polling Day. Refer to point “F”.

“There are some exceptions to the prohibitions of knowingly publishing or displaying election advertising on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day:

a)Reports in the newspapers, on radio and television relating to election matters;

b)Party Political Broadcasts scheduled from 9pm onwards on Cooling-off Day

c)Approved posters/banners lawfully displayed before the start of Cooling-off Day;

d)Election advertising that was lawfully displayed or published before the start of Cooling-off Day on the Internet and that was not changed after its publication or display 2; However, programmatic advertising, i.e. using technology to automatically deliver digital ads online and on social media platforms, should not be conducted on Cooling-off D ay and Polling Day.

e) Distribution or promotion of the sale of any book if the book was scheduled for publication independent of the election and the
book is not sold at less than its commercial value;

f) The transmission of personal political views by individuals to other individuals, on a non-commercial basis, using the Internet, telephone or electronic means;

g)The wearing by candidates, of a badge indicating affiliation with a political party or replica of the symbol allotted to them.

So discuss all you want as individuals as it is our right. It would be just too ridiculous if we can’t even talk or chat online about our country’s elections right?

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Don’ts and Dos of Marking Ballots, Don’t Waste Your Vote!

Did you know that you could end up giving your precious vote to the party you dislike or end up spoiling your vote if you drew or wrote something rude in the box next to their logo on your ballot paper? You may think you are being funny but such actions could make the difference between a Win and a Loss in closely contested constituencies such as in East Coast, Marine Parade and Holland-Bukit Timah GRCs.

Every vote counts so take care not to end up spoiling your vote or giving your vote to the wrong party by mistake. Resist the temptation to draw or write something rude.The temptation will be MAGNIFIED this year as the Government will be printing the photos of all candidates on all ballot papers.sample

An example of the new look ballot paper with candidates photos

Examples of the new look ballot paper with candidates photos

Yes, horns will look lovely on your “favourite” target but please exercise restraint and DO NOT draw or write on the photos of the candidates nor on the party logo! No horns, no moustaches, no “FU”. Period.

Many of us know that we should mark a cross X next to the party that we want to vote for. Sounds simple enough? But few know that there are many ways to unwittingly end up spoiling your vote or, worse, giving the wrong party your vote. Take a look at this.

Image from Nicole L's FB page

Image from Nicole L’s FB page

The image on the right was taken off a Facebook post. The negative messages are clear but that does not matter as there are rules to be followed and PAP may get the vote if their appointed counting agents are able to argue a case for the vote.  And believe me, they WILL. And so they should, just as all counting agents for the opposition parties should fight for every ambiguous vote that is up for adjudication.

As a backgrounder, each counting place that counts the ballots will have counting agents  representing each political party and government officers to do the counting. There are Assistant Returning Officers at each counting place and they will adjudicate unclear votes and their decision is final.

Read these two blog posts by blogger Yawningbread to know more about the process and to see more images showing examples of valid votes and spoilt votes. One of the images below shows votes that were apparently considered acceptable at a counting centre during GE 2011.

Images extracted from Yawningbread bloggers post

Images extracted from Yawningbread bloggers post

These 2 oddly marked ballots were accepted as valid at one counting place in GE2011 (Image from Yawingbread blog)

These 2 oddly marked ballots were accepted as valid at one counting place in GE2011 (Image from Yawingbread blog)

Surprised by how ambiguous or questionable markings can count as a valid vote? Me too.  Blame it on a badly drafted rule issued by the Singapore Elections Department (ELD) that gives rise to many grey areas as to when a marked ballot can be rejected or accepted.

In the ELD 2015 guide for Counting Agents, there is this grey clause 5.12 under “Counting Process” that states:

“But a ballot paper on which the vote is marked elsewhere than in the proper place, otherwise than by means of a cross or by more than one marking will not be treated as void if the intention of the voter as to which candidate he/she wishes to give the vote to is clear, and the way the paper is marked does not in itself identify the voter.”

Basically, this says the vote can count so long as it can be argued that the voter’s intention was to vote for the party which contains a marking in the box next to (or on) the party on the ballot paper.

This vague rule gives too much room for what is considered an acceptable marking which could trigger adjudication. As there is no clear guidance on how to adjudicate some of the ballots that are marked in odd ways,  except that of determining voter intention (which is like trying to read a crystal ball in some cases), there will be inconsistency in interpretation across the counting centres.

According to counting agents who have witnessed the counting of votes in the past, even drawings of a turtle, a squiggle or an “FU” can count as a spoilt vote or a valid vote depending how hard a party counting agent argued and the decisions of the AROs at the counting centres. And at the same time, there are eyewitness accounts of votes where the X was marked faintly for the opposition party and yet were rejected by the RO at the counting centre despite protests by that party’s counting agents.  Obviously, the ELD needs to redraft the law to make it fairer and clearer for the counting officers and voters.

But until then what is ELD’s guideline on what counts as a spoilt or rejected vote?  Ballot papers that are rejected:

(a) a ballot paper which does not bear the complete official mark for the authentication of ballot papers;
(b) a ballot paper on which votes are given for more than one candidate;
(c) a ballot paper on which anything is written or marked by which the voter can be identified (e.g. a voter signs or writes his name or NRIC number);
(d) a ballot paper which is unmarked; and
(e) a ballot paper which is void for uncertainty.

A vote is supposed to be considered spoilt and thus not counted if both boxes (or more if there are more than two parties contesting in that constituency) are clearly marked. One box may contain the legit X for the voter’s chosen party but whether that that vote would be valid or rejected is debatable even if the voter had made other markings in the box next to the party you are not voting for.  All very, very grey no thanks to clause 5.12 as stated above.

By now I hope you understand the perils of trying to be funny or unclear when marking your ballot paper. Play it safe and do nothing more than mark a X next to the party of your choice. Explain and emphasise this to your family and your friends.

When you cast your vote this Friday – please vote with your conscience for a party/candidates with ability and integrity and vote properly with an X.

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9/11 – Vote with your Conscience for people of integrity

Much has been said by the PAP candidates about honesty, integrity and character in the heat of elections campaigning. PM Lee Hsien Loong has also declared: “If good men can’t get elected…then we have a problem.” I agree.  But are the PAP leaders really good men and women with integrity and good character?

Before I go on, let me state that I believe that many of the PAP MPs are decent people in their personal lives. However, they appear to have shelved their conscience when it comes to their political roles. By partaking in the wrongdoings by the government, they are party to the deceit and this reflects poorly on their character and it shows a real lack of integrity.

Is this the sort of people we want to vote for to be our future leaders and role models to our children and youths?

Just today, I saw a posting on Facebook of a note posted on the door of a flat in Tanjong Pagar. It warned the PAP not to knock on their door and it explained that the occupants of that flat “cannot support a party that bullies, intimidates and mud-slings its way into Parliament”.  For good measure the writer added “since from back in school, we have never voted for bullies to be prefects”.letter

Seeing such reactions from Singaporeans gives me hope that people are disturbed by the PAP’s despicable behaviour and that they want to vote in people with integrity to lead our country.

Indeed, voters must go beyond bread and butter issues and examine closely the character and integrity of  the PAP which is the dominant party (and other political parties of course) before they decide on who to vote for. This GE, there are many excellent quality candidates in the opposition parties with many hailing from prestigious universities and from professional or corporate backgrounds including lawyers and doctors.

What then should the deciding factors be when choosing who to vote for when we have such a wide choice across the parties? For me, it is the integrity and character of the party leaders and the candidates.

For far too long, too many Singaporeans have closed their eyes to the abuse of power by the PAP-dominated government which has run the country with much deception and hypocrisy. I worry that if this continues, our people will become inured to the wrongdoings so much so that even the children and youths may come to believe that PAP’s way of doing things – the ends justify the means – is the right way when it is not.

It is high time that voters, young and old open their eyes and start voting with their conscience in addition to their head for the sake of our people and our future.  If the online comments and the letter by the TP GRC resident is anything to go by, it appears that more Singaporeans are voicing their anger over the hypocrisy and double standards of the PAP leaders.

So what has the PAP-Government done to incur the people’s wrath?  The list is long as it spans 50 years but let me highlight eight key ones.

  1. Manipulating and lying about our country’s history
  2. Abusing power such as through blatant gerrymandering
  3. Creating and nurturing a culture of fear in the people of the Government
  4. Conflict of interest and double standards in the application of laws and rules.
  5. Misusing our state-funded resources notably the People’s Association
  6. Using outrageously dirty tricks to fix the opposition and vocal critics
  7. Creating repressive laws to suppress our civil rights and to control the people
  8. Their total denial of any wrongdoing and shameless hypocrisy

Let’s start with the manipulation of our country’s history. It is one thing to hurl mud at opposition parties and it is another for the PAP to exploit and denigrate our country’s proud history by twisting the historical facts for their political advantage. What kind of First World politicians would do this? Are the PAP leaders truly proud Singaporeans as they claim?

The tragedy of all this propaganda is that many Singaporeans, including well-educated youths, are blindly parroting these completely wrong narratives which is a great insult to our country’s illustrious history and heritage. It is not uncommon to hear intelligent young adults claiming mindlessly that LKY founded and even named our country which they blindly believe was a mere fishing village 50 years ago!

For years now, the PAP has been blasting false propaganda such as telling people that Singapore was nothing but a kampong/fishing village/swamp 50 years ago.  By downplaying our history, they aim to reinforce a political narrative that they had transformed our country from nothing to a metropolis.

Fact is 50 years ago, in 1965, Singapore was already pretty developed with a financial centre, busy port, many modern buildings, hotels, good schools, bustling shops and restaurants and a strong civil service. Many of us who are old enough to remember the good old days can attest to this. Yes, we had kampongs and some swamps in parts of our lush tropical forests but to claim the entire country was a fishing village and swampland? Comon’ does one call Malaysia a fishing village just because they still have many villages? Of course not!

Our island, by virtue of its excellent geographical location, was already an important and

Raffles City in the 1920s

Raffles City in the 1920s

thriving trade hub centuries ago. By the early 1900s, Singapore was a prosperous city, one of the most modern in Southeast Asia, and it had one of the world’s busiest ports.

I urge Singaporeans, new citizens and PRs living here to make an effort to learn about our real history and to watch YouTube videos of Singapore taken in the 1900s. For more information, you can click on this link  – a blog post I wrote on why Singapore was not a barren island 50 years ago.

Moving on, let’s look at how this government has abused its power. For starters, why is the Elections Department headed by PM Lee Hsien Loong when there is clearly a conflict of interest? For years now, we have been facing flagrant gerrymandering by the PAP-G which redraws the boundaries of constituencies at every General Elections for its political advantage. Why are places like Holland Road and Orchard under Tanjong Pagar GRC and parts of Serangoon under Marine Parade GRC?! LHL-poster-1-484x650And why are posters with Lee Hsien Loong’s picture placed all over Singapore when it clearly contravenes one of the elections statutes that states candidates can only place their posters within the constituency that they are contesting?

For more examples of double standards and power abuse, let’s look at how the they go to extreme lengths to fix the opposition parties.  Almost everyone here knows by now how they have been attacking the Workers’ Party over the ongoing Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council saga. ahpetc The PAP-Govt has wasted tax-payers money and used government agencies including the Ministry of National Development to try to bury the WP in their bid to wrest back Aljunied-Hougang GRC.  But despite their best efforts at mud-slinging over the past 10 months there has been no proof of corruption.

As a reminder, right after the WP won the Aljunied GRC in the 2011 elections, the government did something shocking.  It used the HDB to literally seize 26 plots of land from WP and leased them to the People’s Association instead.   This was obviously politically motivated as WP is the elected representatives of these two constituencies and no reason was given by the G for the decision. Subsequently, all community events at these sites had to be approved by the PA instead of WP’s town council and there was another scandal when it was leaked that community event organisers were told not to invite the WP members to their events!

This history of fixing the opposition goes back many decades with the G having sued, bankrupted, jailed and also exiled many of their most vocal opponents and critics.  Notable political events where many brave Singaporeans were persecuted by the PAP-government include Operations Cold Store and the Marxist Conspiracy.

Today, the fixing of their critics continues, albeit on a smaller scale. Actions du jour include filing police reports and suing citizens such as Lee Hsien Loong’s lawsuit against blogger Roy.  They have also created more laws such as the Protection from Harassment law, a law created supposedly to protect innocent citizens but which ironically has been used by the Government against their critics. The Amos Yee saga was an example of how this law was invoked when 32 supporters of the PAP filed police reports against the boy for his video mocking Lee Kuan Yew. It also showed how the Government can,  in its haste to protect its leaders and its party, even persecute a 16-year-old boy by placing him in remand/jail and even in a mental hospital for several weeks.

Such ridiculous persecutions have been reported by the global media and made us a laughing-stock. And it makes Singaporeans wonder if PAP is a Party Against its People?

The PAP-G constantly preaches integrity and good character when they behave like hypocritical tyrants without a conscience.  They can attack the WP over the AHPETC matter while downplaying the Auditor General Office (AGO)’s report on financial lapses committed by many government agencies, stat boards and Ministries every year.

The most damning finding in July found that 40 per cent of the 115 grassroots organisations it “test-checked” had financial irregularities, including the case of the chairman of the Admiralty Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) who was involved in approving awards of two contracts to a company in which he had an interest. In addition, he was also found to have approved “his own claims amounting to $114,767.”

The irregularities found by the AGO involving the PA amounted to a princely sum of more than $20 million. And this was based not on a thorough audit of all the grassroots organisations but on only 40%.

The G declared that the PA’s investigation (ownself check ownself??) of the Admiralty CCC chairman found “no evidence of dishonesty”. This was followed by the PA’s Deputy Chairman Lim Swee Say (also Manpower Minister) declaring that most of the lapses arose “out of good intentions” and not dishonesty.

Now if only the G could be as understanding with the Workers Party which faced daunting obstacles when they took over the running of the AHPETC – 26 sites were seized; the entire computer system in the town council was removed and sold to AIM a $2-company owned by PAP members; and not a single company dared to tender for the job of Managing Agent of the estate (likely out of fear of upsetting the mighty PAP-G)

Finally, how ethical can these PAP leaders be when they blatantly misuse the People’s Association network and state-funded resources to promote their party and their MPs? The entire grassroots network from the CCs to the RCs has been compromised to be partisan. It is a fact that numerous grassroots leaders have benefited from supporting the PAP such as gaining priority for their kids at schools and even getting to reserve the best units in unlaunched HDB projects.

I could go on and on about their litany of sins against Singapore and Singaporeans but that would make for unwieldy reading. For those interested to know more, click this link to read about their boundless hypocrisy, tab here to read about the AGO report on the G’s financial lapses, and click here for an example of repressive laws introduced to control alternative online news sites and its critics. You may also be interested to read how the PAP-G often does not walk the talk when it comes to practising meritocracy.

Despite growing condemnation of their unethical behaviour it is disturbing that the PAP leaders are impervious to the people’s laments. If anything, they are becoming more militant and defiant in their response. Do they truly believe the ends justify the means? Is economic success all that matters? Is no price too high to pay to retain their power even if it means denying their conscience? If they truly do believe this, they are taking us down the road, not to paradise, but to hell.

Fellow Singaporeans, you have a choice to sit back and let them to do so or take action to change to change the direction in which we are headed.

Come September 11 let it be the dawn of a fresh new beginning. Vote wisely. Vote with your conscience. Vote for a government that has both competence and integrity.

“Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it” – Albert Einstein

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Butter in the balance

Jentrified Citizen:

Why it matters that we should not have a dominant one party rule in Singapore. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely…..”Consider this: Malaysia’s UMNO-led coalition isn’t as dominant in that country’s political landscape as the PAP is in Singapore’s. UMNO and its Barisan Nasional partners do not even have a two-thirds majority in parliament; BN does not run all the state governments. There is a far more active civil society there than in Singapore. Malaysian sultans are not appointed by the government and have had a history of tension with it. Despite these handicaps, Najib has been able to block investigations, sack those who stood in his way, and issue the most asinine of ‘explanations’. We thus cannot naïvely assume that, should a future scandal brew under the surface in Singapore, where currently the government remains even more dominant than that in Malaysia, truth will out and wrongdoers punished.

A year ago, no one could have imagined the crisis of confidence that has since engulfed Malaysia. The thing about rot is that it can remain invisible for a long time, only to be exposed and turn dangerous very late in the day.”

Originally posted on Yawning Bread:


Even as signs of an election were building up in Singapore over the last few months, an incomparably absorbing story was unfolding to our north in Malaysia. However, the scandal at the sovereign wealth fund One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) speaks to our election too. It shows how the lack of sufficient checks and balances is a bread-and-butter issue.

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Lee Kuan Yew is not Singapore’s founding father

Jentrified Citizen:

A very clear and factual explanation debunking the many myths and propaganda surrounding Lee Kuan Yew.

Originally posted on Yours Truly Singapore:

I refer to the 24 Mar 2015 Straits Times report “Singapore mourns: Thousands pay tribute to founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew”.

ST quoted PM Lee:

“The first of our founding fathers is no more. He inspired us, gave us courage, kept us together, and brought us here. He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him,” he said.

Lee Kuan Yew is not our founding father let alone the first because he never fought for our independence like George Washington or Gandhi did for their respective countries. Instead, Lee was the recipient of our independence and was on record to say that it was a moment of anguish for him. Isn’t it contradictory that Lee fought for our independence yet felt anguished when we became independent? Lee’s anguish at our independence confirms…

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The Good, the Bad and the Intolerant in the Amos Saga

A gaunt looking Amos Yee leaving the court yesterday.

A gaunt looking Amos Yee leaving the court yesterday.

It has been an eye-opener reading the flurry of online comments about the release of Amos Yee.  Most of the comments have been heated with much mud being slung both ways. The raging debate over Amos has clearly brought out the worst and the best of Singaporeans and, of greater concern, it has highlighted an ugly segment of militant people who are exceedingly intolerant of anyone behaving outside their notion of the social paradigm.

These extremists have hurled vitriol at Amos and even at those who campaigned for and supported his release from prison.  An example of their vitriol can be seen in the ridiculous allegations made in response to a comment I had made on TODAY FB page regarding the Amos Yee release.  Using my Facebook moniker Min Zheng I had written: “A very shameful period for our country. Shame on the state for bullying a child. And shame on those who wish the worst on this boy.”

This comment sparked a slew of angry responses. Many militant conservatives strongly defended the actions by the government and accused me of being anti-government, a paid foreign spy (ah if only I get paid for my writings), a political tool for just about every opposition party (and curiously even a tool for Han Hui Hui). Some sneered and said I should leave the country implying I am a traitor of sorts.

Presentation1 It was also disturbing reading the many callous comments about Amos with many saying he deserved being jailed and sent to the mental hospital and that he was faking it when he looked traumatised yesterday (these people should try staying in jail and a mental ward and see how they look after that). Some even attacked his mother for being a bad mum and criticised her for wearing a “I Support Amos” T-shirt on the day of his release.

The belligerent attacks continued with one smart-ass trying to assert that Amos at 16 is an adult and not a child and that the jail sentence is too short as he is a menace to society! Amazingly, some people went on to declare Amos had to be punished if we do not want to see racial riots in our country or become like Malaysia!

For the record, a teen at 16 is still a child not an adult according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which defines child as persons under age 18. If any adult disagrees, please ask yourself if you thought and and behaved like an adult when you were 16.

Frankly, even if Amos were an adult I would still say it was wrong to arrest someone for speaking his mind, albeit rudely, as what he said was not so earthshaking that it could cause even a dent on our social harmony. His rant and his name would most likely have have long been forgotten if the fanatical gang of 32 had not created a ruckus by filing police reports against him.

Next, what Amos said had nothing to do with race and what he said could not have caused  a mini riot much less sparked a descent into hell for our religious harmony which was built over many years (Singapore’s history harks back to the third century contrary to political propaganda that we are 50 years young).

Do note that not a single Christian group came forth to cry father cry mother about Amos’ video rant (which btw was about Lee Kuan Yew lest we forget and not about religion). Not a single one. On the contrary, there were many Christians who petitioned for his release. One pastor even took part in the recent Hong Lim Park rally, which campaigned for Amos’ release, and he said there was nothing to forgive when someone asked if he forgave Amos.

There is much hypocrisy among those loudly condemning Amos. The fact is many of these people are not really concerned about our religious equilibrium, their anger is actually fuelled by Amos insulting their idol by calling Lee Kuan Yew a “horrible person” and a dictator not long after his death.  Yet, these people are shamelessly using religion as a tool to hang Amos.

As for allegations of me being used as a political tool to topple the government, please lah don’t honour me with such importance when I do not have such power nor any political associations of any sort. All I have done and am still doing, like many other concerned citizens, is sharing my opinions and speaking up when I see injustice done against my fellowmen.

On the flip side, one could also accuse these zealots of being political tools or agents out to protect the PAP-govt by defending the abusive use of draconian laws to squash dissent. These defenders are also being hypocritical in ignoring the double standards in how the law on sedition and harassment has been applied over the decades by our government. In addition, the outspoken Lee Kuan Yew had said many hurtful things about women, Malays and had even insulted Singaporeans such as calling us dogs in the past. Yet, none of his supporters called him out for causing disharmony did they?

As I have mentioned, this whole saga has brought out the worst and the best of Singaporeans and it has brought to our attention the emergence of a highly intolerant group of Singaporeans whom I shall call the “Intolerants”. Their behaviour goes well beyond being conservative as they appear to be callous, swift to anger, fast to condemn and worse, have the tendency to push the authorities to punish those whom they find offensive.

This militant group’s arguments are often fallacious and strident to the point of telling those who disagree with their political views to leave the country. Why the hell should any Singaporean leave their country? What gives these arrogant “Intolerants” the right to tell their fellow citizens to leave the country in the first place? Such behaviour makes them look like fascists trying to purge the country of those who do not share their views and values.

We should worry for our country’s future if such people are in community leader positions and in the PAP-government.

IMO, such extreme intolerance should not be allowed to proliferate as they will end up polarising our society and cause more cracks and unhappiness. Our Government leaders need to be more careful and discerning when listening to such people’s complaints and advice if they truly want to have peace and harmony among our people.

Yes, there will always be differences in any society but being militant in saying “It’s my way or the highway” is simply not the way to build a cohesive and happy community in today’s day and age. We should be able to discuss, argue and debate in a civil manner without resorting to hysterical vitriol and to using the law in an abusive manner.

As society progresses and becomes more complex,  we will need to become more understanding and accommodating of different views and beliefs; we will need to have more empathy; and we should be more open-minded and less judgmental.

One final comment on Amos. Whether one loathes or love him, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that the people and our authorities treat the boy right – with universal values of compassion, fairness and justice. To his haters, I say you have the choice to stay angry or to ignore his future postings (which I am certain will resurface) and please stop cursing and condemning him. To his fans – don’t make him into some sort of idol and stop egging him on to do things that you wouldn’t even think of doing.

Amos is just a 16-year-old boy. Let him be. Let live his life.

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Is Singapore becoming a shamelessly hypocritical society?

If you don't walk the talk, it is best you don't talk the talk.

If you don’t walk the talk, it is best you don’t talk the talk.

Reflecting on recent national issues that have happened here, it is sad to see how increasingly hypocritical our Singapore society is becoming. Let’s review some of the more noteworthy hypocrisy:

  • Our government has launched Character and Citizenship courses for students purportedly to teach them moral values (and values aligned with the PAP). Yet the government leaders have time and again shown their own lack of integrity by twisting facts and telling half-truths and even lies just to make themselves look good (One big lie is calling Lee Kuan Yew our country’s Founder when Singapore was founded centuries before he was born).  The G has even formed a committee to create a Founders’ Memorial, to basically honour the PAP pioneers, but curiously there is no historian in the committee.  All these lies and perversion of our proud history have been justified by them in the false name of protecting the country when all they are doing is protecting their party.
  • Along the same vein, our govt exhorts us to embrace Asian values yet these same people embrace the litigious nature of the West, eagerly suing vocal critics and ordinary citizens over the past few decades. Double standards much?
  • Our govt preaches a zero-corruption system while practising unethical cronyism such as blatantly rewarding and placing their own inexperienced “loyal soldiers” in well-paid top dog positions in the govt and in Govt-linked companies.  At the grassroots level,  loyal PAP/PA grassroots supporters  are rewarded with juicy benefits such as reserving the best units in unlaunched new HDB flat projects. And more recently, there was a public uproar over the People’s Association unfair act of reserving places for their own people at the Aussie government-sponsored BBQ.  Ironically, a Resident Committee chairman had the gall to write to the Straits Times to defend this unfair move. When one is in power, one is blind to one’s faults and defiant to the very end?
  • The ultra conservatives in Singapore are loudly against the LGBT, to the ridiculous point of getting some children’s books like “And Tango Makes Three” removed from state-run libraries. Yet the moral police has long been oddly quiet on the rampant cheating and adultery committed by many people across religions. Hello, the Bible also says Thou shalt not commit adultery ok?
  • An increasingly extremist self-righteous group here is pushing to curb drinking and  smoking in public. Some justify it by claiming their rights not to inhale secondary smoke. Yet, some of these people are likely committing worse “sins” such as polluting the air with the vehicles they drive and destroying the environment with the rubbish they throw and do not bother to recycle, and note the numerous plastic bags and Styrofoam boxes they use without any concern for the world.
  • A strident and intolerant group of Singaporeans (many of whom appear to be fanatical [and opportunistic?] MIW supporters) like to file police reports over the slightest thing that they claim will endanger our racial/religious/country’s harmony and peace when many of these hypocrites secretly harbour racist views and are highly intolerant of alternative views. Many of them including some PAP grassroots leaders behave in a shocking lynch-mob manner wishing for the worst to befall upon 16-year-old Amos Yee – from threatening to cut off his dick to wishing he gets raped in prison. Harmony? What harmony? What peace?
Amos was brutally slapped by a man outside of court and many cheered the assailant's assault

Amos was brutally slapped by a man outside of court and many cheered the assailant’s assault

With so many mixed messages being sent out by the government and community leaders, who should be good role models to our young, what are Singaporeans to think and make of all that is going on? I wouldn’t be surprised if, looking at how our leaders behave, many of our young will think it is perfectly ok to lie, twist the facts and use every opportunity to advance one’s agenda regardless of ethics and fairness.

The cynics will say hypocrisy is everywhere. That may be true but as citizens of our country, we have every right to reflect and ask what kind of society we want Singapore to become. Is it a society that is shamelessly hypocritical and which believes the ends justify the means or a society that believes in good universal values of behaving with integrity and compassion?  Think about it. It’s your country, your home, your future.
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MARUAH’s Statement on Defamation Law and the Case Against Mr Roy Ngerng

Jentrified Citizen:

Fully agree. It is shameful to have such a prime minister who is probably the only one in the world to sue a citizen for defamation.

Originally posted on Maruah Singapore:

MARUAH, a Human Rights Non-Governmental Organisation, objects to government leaders using the Defamation Law to institute defamation lawsuits against its critics, regardless of whether the offending statement is defamatory or not.

We make these remarks as the court assesses the damages that Mr Roy Ngerng has to pay for the remarks made against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In May 2014 Mr Ngerng, a blogger, was sued by Mr Lee Hsien Loong, whom we assume is acting in his private capacity and not as the Prime Minister. Mr Lee’s lawyers demanded that Mr Ngerng remove the article in question, issue an apology on his blog, and offer compensation to Mr Lee. Mr Ngerng acceded to all the demands, including removing four other articles, and made an offer of S$5,000 as compensation to Mr Lee. Mr Lee’s lawyers, however, dismissed the amount as ‘derisory’, and commenced legal action on 30 May…

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Much Ado over One little Amos Yee

bbfbb7c3eaa1b82ec753b14ea839f5cfIt’s been 40 days since Amos Yee was arrested and he has spent some 15 days in remand since then. Following the 2-day trial which ended yesterday, this 16-year-old boy is currently languishing in a Changi Prison cell awaiting the court verdict which is expected  next Tuesday.  One can only imagine how he must be feeling and how surprised he must be that his 8-min video rant against Lee Kuan Yew has exploded in such an unimaginable way that has brought out the worst and the best in Singaporeans and even drawn international attention to how intolerant a society we have become and how insensitive our system is in the treatment of a child.

Yes, lest some forget, he is still a child not an adult according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which defines child as persons under age 18. If any adult disagrees, please ask yourself if you truly felt like an adult when you were 16.

Over the past month we have witnessed a shocking level of intolerance and vindictiveness in the overblown response to the video.  Yes the timing of his video soon after LKY died was bad, yes he did say things that were rude in his rant against LKY and this offended SOME fervent fans of LKY and SOME Christians. But many, including Christians and Catholics, have also spoken up to say they were not offended. Yet, for this one short video, which he did to get people thinking about political issues, Amos and his family have been subjected to all sorts of indignities and sufferings including online abuse by adults who should know better.

Ironically, Amos had said in an opening line in his video that “Lee Kuan Yew is a horrible person because everyone is scared, everyone is afraid that if they say something like that they will get into trouble which, to give Lee Kuan Yew his credit, that was primarily the impact of his legacy”.  All that has happened to Amos since then is reinforcing this view as zealous supporters of LKY seem hellbent on continuing this oppressive legacy.

Let me now list the trials and tribulations that the kid and his family have suffered since he his video posting on March 29:

1) Amos has been mob-lynched online by numerous adults with many making inappropriate filthy sexual threats including some wishing that he gets buttxxxx (raped) in prison and a PAP grassroots leader even wrote that he wants to cut Amos dick and stuff it into his mouth.

2) Thirty two, yes 32, police reports were filed against him including by well-known diehard grassroots supporters of the PAP.  None of these people have appeared as witnesses in court.

3) Amos was arrested on March 30 within a day of his video posting and was handcuffed and shackled in the presence of his grandparents. At least 8 police officers went to his house to arrest this boy. Why so many? Why was he treated like a felon?

4) He was given what his lawyers have argued as  unreasonable and disproportionate bail terms which include a total ban on him posting anything on social media (though the AGC sniped that he can still shop online) and an initial bail amount of $20,000 (which btw is half of the bail amount imposed on Filipino Ello who had made seditious insults against Singaporeans). The amount was upped to $30,000 after Amos broke bail terms by posting comments online protesting against the bail conditions

5) He was assaulted by an adult male outside of court with a heavy strike to his face which caused his eye to be swollen.  Despite being arrested a week ago, the assailant’s identity and photo has NOT been publicly disclosed.  Shockingly, many Singaporeans cheered the repulsive attack including establishment types like grassroots leaders and well-known bloggers. Their rationale for cheering? He deserved it. Yet, would any of these people allow strangers to slap or hit their child even if their child had misbehaved obnoxiously in public? Not at all.


Struck by a man in front of court and the assailant’s identity has still not been disclosed even though he has been arrested

6) And at the public court hearing over the past two days (May 7 and 8), a pale and skinny Amos shuffled in with hands cuffed, legs shackled in heavy chains while wearing a shirt with the word PRISONER emblazoned on the back, shocking those seated in the public gallery.  The shackling and cuffing, I understand, is a police protocol for all those held in prison even if in remand. Isn’t it time to review this SOP for children and the frail elderly?

7) To add insult to injury, the media including The Straits Times have misreported several facts and tried to paint Amos’ mum as uncaring and the boy as a psychopath with mischievous and misleading headlines that screamed “Loonie!” just because the court had wanted him to undergo psychiatric counselling in exchange for reviewing the bail terms.  For the record, Amos’ mum Mdm Toh said she had taken Amos for counselling to understand why he seemed “too daring” and feared nothing, and not to find out if he was insane. The boy is brilliant and cocky but he is no psychopath. As his lawyer Alfred Dowell reminded the public – he is just a boy, don’t demonise him!

A shit-stirring headline by Straits Times

A shit-stirring headline by Straits Times

8) Just yesterday, TODAY newspaper ran a terribly misleading and wrong headline that added to the family’s humiliation when it claimed falsely that Amos was asked by his church to leave. The truth is he gave up practising his faith as a Catholic when he chose to be an atheist.

a completely wrong headline

a completely false headline

9)Since he was charged on March 31, Amos would have spent a total of 18 days in jail by the time he is brought out in chains again to hear the court verdict next Tuesday. This includes the time he spent in prison before he was bailed out by the kind soul Vincent Law (who said he had absolutely no regrets doing so) and the time that he went back to remand after breaking the bail terms by posting comments online.

Yes all the above, and more, has happened to Amos. And he is just a 16-year-old boy.

Amos has been charged with making offensive remarks about Christians and circulating an obscene image. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges against him.  Initially, he faced a third charge for making comments about the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew that were deemed likely to cause distress to Singaporeans, but this was stood down although the prosecution can still charge him for it in future if they so decide.

I understand that some people were upset by the video made by Amos.  But as his defence lawyers argued in court, there is no proof that Christians were hurt by what Amos said. Some were upset but many more were not.

As for the supposedly obscene line drawing of LKY and Margaret Thatcher, Amos’ lawyers raised the point that one must consider if there was an intent to deprave and corrupt such as causing titillation for the image to be considered obscene. IMHO, no one looking at that drawing will be titillated.

Everything that has happened to Amos would be very considered traumatising even for adults so what more for a child? Even though his lawyer has claimed Amos is in high spirits, even though many people admire the boy’s seeming resilience in the face of such adversity, no one knows how he really feels beneath the stoic facade.  There may be major longer-term repercussions as this draining saga may affect Amos’ mental development and physical health, destroy his future in Singapore and wreck his family and social relations.

The crux here is – there has been a dramatic overkill in response to what Amos did.  Why should Amos and his family be traumatised in such a manner? Did he something that was so terrible and evil to warrant all that has happened to him? Online lynching, cheering when he was assaulted, 32 police reports, jail time? Seriously??! Would any of his haters feel the same way if all this happened to their child?

Yes, he was disrespectful in his comments on LKY and on Christianity but surely any  rational person can see that such comments from a child will not wreak LKY’s reputation nor destroy the strong religious harmony which has been built over many decades in Singapore? There are many much, much worse comments made online about LKY and religion over the years and yet both survived unscathed.

While I am saddened by the pettiness and vindictiveness, I am also heartened to see many people speaking up for Amos.  Many have expressed shock at the lynching and jeering. I too was taken aback when some friends, who are normally compassionate and kind, rejoiced gleefully when Amos was assaulted.  Whatever happened to their compassionate and understanding heart? Where is the universal principle of love, forgiveness and kindness preached by their religions? Isn’t their reaction completely at odds with what they preach?

If one teenager’s online rant can draw this kind of rabid response, and if nothing is done to temper the mindset of such people, Amos’ case could well set a precedence. It may embolden the ultra conservative and ultra sensitive to take even more atrocious actions against any and every person/website/blog who/that posts anything that may be deemed offensive to them. Some may want to take personal/political/religious advantage of the very grey and broad Protection from Harassment Act and sedition laws.

Having drawn blood from getting Amos arrested and charged, will the self-righteous group become even more intolerant? Is this the kind of Singapore we want? Is this the kind of intolerant and uncompromising society we desire for us and our children? Will this not fracture our fragile harmony as one people?

So much has been said by our Government about the need to be a kind, tolerant and gracious society. We are exhorted to be gracious and accepting of all different races, religions and nationalities.  Yet, how are we treating a child who is somewhat different from the norm here? What are we seeing in the treatment of Amos?

I worry for our country if this sort of mob mentality and intolerance takes root. I hope good sense will prevail and that our Government leaders will do the right thing to rein in any zealous and unjustified mob lynching and work on building a more tolerant and open-minded society.

Let’s now put things in context. Amos is not a bad kid, not by a long shot. He did well in his studies, he has won awards for his creative work, he does not smoke, drink or do drugs and he has never committed a crime. His only “sin” that seems to offend some people is that he is very different from the norm as defined by society here. He speaks his mind bluntly, he has an unusually deep interest on socio-political issues for one so young and he has an exceptional brilliance and an ability to think critically that could make some adults uncomfortable. What he lacks for now is maturity and the ability to think strategically to survive in this world.

Amos and his family have already paid a heavy price for his one video rant. The boy needs time to grow up and understand life. He needs guidance and counselling to become wiser and to learn how to navigate this complex world in a mature way. What he does not need is vindictive abuse and immature jeering from adults who should know better. He also does not deserve to be broken and destroyed all because he made one video that pissed off some overly sensitive people.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than in the way which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

Published by Jentrified Citizen, 9 May 2015







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50 Shades of White, PAP-Govt’s House Needs Cleaning

Khaw's words while leading the coordinated attacking on WP in Parliament.

Khaw’s words while leading the coordinated attack on WP in Parliament.

There has been a firestorm in Parliament this past week with the ruling party lashing out at the Workers Party with exceptional venom and shockingly slanderous accusations. I am not going to add to the debate over the AHPETC town council matter as this has been covered in-depth online and it has been reported extensively by the mainstream media which devoted reams of pages to this over several days.

Instead, I am wondering about the sense of perspective over AHPETC, or rather the loss of perspective, by the ruling party and the MSM for them to have devoted so much time, energy, public resources and news space to it when there are many other bigger issues of concern to the citizens.

Let’s start with the 2013/2014 report by the Auditor-General (AGO) on the transgressions by the government. The contents list of this 64-page report was an eye-opener as it listed the numerous financial lapses and irregularities found to have been committed by EVERY Ministry in FY2013/2014.

The puzzling question is – Why didn’t the Ministers and MPs openly address in Parliament some of the major lapses (some repeated) committed by their agencies if they truly care about integrity, transparency and doing what is in the best interest of Singaporeans? Instead, the PAP MPS and several heavyweight Ministers like Khaw Boon Wan and Shanmugam spent a great deal of the entire Parliament time this past week harping on ONE lapse by the Workers Party – the management of AHPETC. Is it because the ruling party is gearing up for the looming General Elections which may take place this year?

Even though there were lapses in the management of AHPETC, one would have expected the MPs to at least allocate balanced time to the matter while spending precious Parliament time and resources debating and addressing other areas of great concern. This is what tax-payers expect their MPs to do and not to waste resources bombarding the opposition in Parliament in an astoundingly undignified manner.

It was shocking indeed to hear Khaw Boon Wan use the example of  Japanese senior management who would resign and even commit hara-kiri (suicide) over wrongdoings. I doubt he was actually asking the WP MPs to kill themselves over AHPETC but Khaw was certainly playing to the gallery to exaggerate and  sensationalise the lapses committed by WP during its learning curve of managing its first GRC.

Those who live in glass houses should be sure their homes are clean of filth before they lob accusations at others for not doing proper housekeeping.  In the 2013/2014 report by the AGO, irregularities were found in various agencies under the Ministry of National Development headed by Minister Khaw who has been spearheading the Parliamentary attacks on WP.

The report said the National Parks Board’s transgressions included creating and backdating some documents relating to the development of Gardens by the Bay to give the impression that they existed at the time when the relevant transactions took place. The AGO said “creating and backdating documents to satisfy audit queries is a serious irregularity. It also casts doubts on the authenticity of other documents and information provided to AGO.”

Although MND conducted an inquiry into this, shouldn’t it still account openly to the people as to how such a lapse could have happened in the name of transparency and assure the public that such lapses will not happen again to any agency under its control? Instead it appears that its big chief has been busy expending energy on pontificating about his righteousness and taking WP to task over AHPETC.

Over at the the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). which is also under the MND, the AGO found had grossly underutilized land, buildings and facilities at several places which is to quote the AGO “tantamount to a waste of public resources”. As an example, AGO found that of the 41 buildings at the Sembawang site, 15 buildings were left vacant for periods between 2 and 14 years. Another three buildings were partially occupied for periods between 8 and 11 years. The vacant areas in these 18 buildings formed 28.4 per cent of the gross floor area of all the 41 buildings.

AGO also noted that 112,294 m or 78.0 per cent of the site was vacant land. AGO also observed during its site visit that some of the vacant buildings were poorly maintained. For example, there were termites in one building and condemned furniture and other discarded items in other buildings, which could pose pest and fire hazard problems.

And at the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the AGO found serious lapses in the National Council of Social Service which repeatedly violated procurement procedures such as by not getting the mandatory three quotes and although NCSS implemented a set of improved procedures in April 2013, the procedures did not prohibit the same officer from being both the payment approving authority and the quotation approving authority.

NCSS procedures were also lacking in requirements for ensuring proper negotiations, such as having ample representation during the negotiations and keeping proper records of the negotiation meetings. AGO’s test checks of 45 purchases made directly from the vendors or where only one or a few selected vendors were invited to bid revealed that for 32 purchases (71.1 per cent) totalling $1.72 million, NCSS gave lame reasons for not procuring through open competition.

AGO also found that for 15 of these 32 cases at NCSS, the suppliers were awarded the contracts without competition for three or more consecutive years, and for one case, for 20 years.

Over at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the AGO’s test checks of 46 payments at the Singapore Civil Defence Force(SCDF) revealed lapses in financial control and instances where officers had approved purchases and contracts or certified invoices when they did not have the authority to do so.

Specifically, the SCDF approved two payments in March 2012 amounting to $217,100 for the maintenance of two IT systems before services were fully performed.

There are many more such appalling lapses where proper procedures were blatantly ignored, money was lost and public resources had been wasted.  One need only read the contents page in the report to see the scale of the transgressions by the government bodies.

All these are matters involving public funds, trust and integrity and the Government must account to the people for the lapses and explain why some of these lapses have continued to recur despite them having been flagged by the AGO previously.

My point here is that there are many national issues of great importance and the MPs, who are elected and paid by the people to do a proper job, should not waste precious Parliament time fixated on slanderous attacks to fix opposition parties.

Read the full report by the AGO here

The contents summary of AGO’s report:

Lapses in the Licensing of Land
Lapses in Administration and Maintenance of Land
Control Weaknesses in Processing of Housing Allowance Payments
Late or Non-recovery of Salaries and Related Costs of Seconded Staff
Lapses in Tender Evaluation and Contract Management
Contracts Made Outside Singapore Not Signed by Authorised
Financial Assistance Not Ceased for Deceased Persons
Singapore Civil Defence Force
Lapses in Controls over Financial Commitments and Payments
Misuse of Funds Stored in Cash Cards
Prior Approval Not Sought for Changes in Procurement Requirements

Media Development Authority
Lapses in Administration of Grants
Lapses in Evaluation of Projects for Funding
National Library Board
Lapses in Procurement of Library Materials
National Heritage Board
Irregularities in Management of Variation Works
Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board
Lapses in Appointment and Monitoring of Former Staff Engaged
for Projects
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
Lapses in Administration of Goods and Services Tax Refunds
under Tourist Refund Scheme
Singapore Totalisator Board
Gaps in Controls over Administration of Social Enterprise Hub
Health Sciences Authority
Lax Control over Approval of Applications for Import of
Medicinal Products
Weak Controls over Seized Items
Contracts Awarded to Incumbent Contractors that Did Not
Meet Tender Requirements

Central Provident Fund Board
Lapses in Managing Waiver of Competition, Purchases and
Approval of Ad Hoc Works
Wrong CPF Contributions for Employees Performing
Operationally Ready National Service
Lapses in Monitoring and Following Up of Erroneous Medisave
Incomplete Data for Assessing Eligibility for Workfare Income
Supplement Benefits
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority
Under-utilisation of Land, Buildings and Facilities
Assets Under-utilised or Left Unused
Weaknesses in Evaluation of Research Projects
National Parks Board
Creating and Backdating of Documents Furnished for Audit
National Council of Social Service
Irregularities at Various Stages of Procurement
National Environment Agency
Inadequate Follow-up on Possible Breaches of Tenancy Conditions
Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board
Lapses in Procurement of Services to Administer an Award


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