15 May 2019

How will Singapore's leaders use its new Fake News law?

On 8 May 2019, the Singapore parliament passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulations bill into law. As of the time of the publication of this blog post, either the president has not given her assent or the minister has not made the decision to commence the law in the Gazette.

We noted earlier that even though the ruling People's Action Party has a supermajority which ensures the passage of any bill proposed by the cabinet, the key issues have always been whether the cabinet can gain the confidence of stakeholders and industry interests in the bill, whether there will be corrections or clarifications of the more unsettling portions of the bill, and whether the bill passed would satisfy that audience.

Power is power, or is it? The power to pass laws is absolute power, or is it?
A snapshot of attitudes, comments, and actions from stakeholders and members of the industry in the run-up to the debate suggest that clarifications at the very least had to be made and made convincingly, especially if no corrections or U-turns could be afforded by the cabinet on the bill.

So did the parliamentary debate provide suitable clarification to gain the confidence of industry interests and stakeholders?

16 February 2019

Does Singapore's Ministry of Health deserve immunity for data breach?

Singapore's largest data breach happened in July 2018 when a government hospital became the target of cyber-hackers. It is believed the hackers were after the medical data of Singapore's prime minister and cabinet colleagues. There was an inquiry and the local privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) fined the hospital and its technology vendor a total of S$1 million.

Proving Karl Marx's dictum about history repeating itself as a farce, Singapore's second largest data breach happened in 2016 when the ministry's very own HIV registry data was downloaded by Mikhy Farrera Brochez, the same-sex paramour of Ler Teck Siang, the head of its National Public Health Unit, but was only disclosed last week.

Why wasn't the public and the patients on the HIV registry informed in 2016? Why is the public and the patients on the HIV registry informed only now? The minister of health, Gan Kim Yong, explained in parliament the ministry made the right call because in 2016 the police thought they had deleted all copies of the HIV registry data from his devices. Since there was no evidence the data had been published, there was no need to inform those affected because informing them would cause distress and emotional harm.

Surprisingly, the minister suggested affected PLHIV could sue the ministry if they felt it made the wrong call.

Now that's a ministry of health clown show

29 January 2019

Should heads roll for Singapore army's training deaths?

Barely months after making reassuring noises in parliament about how safety is a top priority of training in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), defense minister Ng Eng Heng had far less to say following the death of Aloysius Pang. Pang, a former television actor turned entrepreneur, suffered fatal injuries when he was crushed by a Howitzer barrel during reservist training in New Zealand.

A military funeral at Mandai in 2017
for another reservist killed in another training incident in New Zealand
If you've been keeping count like concerned netizen Arrifin Sha, this is the 8th casualty in the past 1.5 years for the SAF. Yes, this is a significant figure. Yes, we have previously pointed out the toxic and vile culture in the Singapore army. But does this one additional statistic justify calls to remove an incompetent and uncaring minister or the chief of army from their posts? Or should Singaporeans rally together to protect the sacred institution that protects Singapore from shrill activists and political opportunists?

05 November 2018

Should permanent residents and dual citizens serve national service in Singapore?

Minister of Defence Ng Eg Hen previously made nice comforting noises (otherwise known as motherhood statements) in parliament about how safety is a top priority of army training, in light of a recent escalation in fatal training incidents. But isn't 1 reported accident every 3.5 months statistically significant for an armed forces that has only 35,000 conscripts at any time? Doesn't this statistic indicate the presence of serious and pervasive systematic failings in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)?

Liu Kai, the victim in the latest SAF fatal training accident and possibly SAF's fatally compromised culture was a permanent resident. Kok Yuen Chin, the victim in the previous SCDF fatal training accident was also a permanent resident. Many Singapore PRs and dual citizens who are legally obligated to serve national service at the age of 16 have every right to ask to ask the question: Should they just say no to their NS obligations and give up their permanent residence or Singapore citizenship?

Soldiers are meant to die heroically in battle.
Which is why every accidental training death must be investigated.

25 September 2018

Will Dr Thum Ping Tjin ever wish Singaporeans a Happy National Day?

Almost a month ago, Singapore celebrity historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin met Dr Mahathir with his fellow New Narratif founders Kirsten Han and Sonny Liew, fellow activist Jolovan Wham, and potentially fellow exiles Tan Wah Piow and Hishamuddin Rais. Did Dr Thum invite Dr Mahathir to interfere with the politics of Singapore? We at Illusio think that Dr Thum had made an ill-considered publicity stunt which was repaid in full by law minister Shanmugam and member of parliament Mr Seah.

On 31 August, Dr Thum fanned the flames further by wishing Singaporeans a "Selamat Hari Merdeka". And 3 days after our previous post examining Seah's allegations of treachery, Dr Thum doubled down and wished Singaporeans a "Happy Malaysia Day" Was this is another ill-advised publicity stunt by Dr Thum? Or is this the smoking gun?

Does this provide ammunition, if not a smoking gun, for a select committee that has already branded the Good Doctor a liar and a perjurer? Or is this just another publicity attempt gone sideways? Is Dr Thum a celebrity academic mugging for an audience or a public intellectual educating the public?

12 September 2018

Is Dr Thum Ping Tjin a traitor to Singapore?

Almost two weeks ago, Singapore historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin, together with Sonny Liew, Kirsten Han, and Jolovan Wham, met with Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir in Kuala Lumpur. His Facebook photo and description of the meeting and subsequent exchanges with law minister K Shanmugam and MP Seah Kian Peng have resulted in very serious accusations that the good Doctor is a traitor.

Did Dr Thum invite Mahathir to interfere in Singapore's domestic politics, as minister Shanmugam alleged? Does Dr Thum wish ill on Singapore, as Mr Seah suggested? Does Dr Thum have an agenda, however nostalgic, misguided, or delusional, for a Malayan union? Is this treason? Or are the minister and MP irresponsible and inflammatory, as Thum accuses?

A typical election pamphlet in Victorian England