07 August 2017

Is Track II Diplomacy Dead in Singapore?

According to industry analysts, Singapore is the worst place to be a property developer, the worst place to be a tech start-up, and the worst place to be a software programmer. Add to that growing list, the worst place to be a Track II diplomat or lobbyist.

Singapore has proscribed Dr Huang Jing, a US citizen and top professor at its Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP). He will be summarily expelled, his permanent resident status torn up, and his directorships in several state-linked companies dissolved if he doesn't resign from them voluntarily. The communique from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) adopts a security narrative: the professor was "an agent of influence of a foreign country", engaged in subversion and interference in Singapore's domestic politics.


Now let us tell you why this narrative is a giant fail and colossal joke, and what could be actually happening.

27 July 2017

The Apothesosis of Lee Kuan Yew VI

Can we remember Lee Kuan Yew without creating a cult?

A statue of Turkmenbashi, not a statue of Lee Kuan Yew

14 July 2017

Singapore's Speak Mandarin Campaign clown show moment


A funny thing happened on the launch of the 2017 edition of the Speak Mandarin Campaign. The poster, unveiled at the official launch by a minister on 12 July, promotes the 2017 slogan for the campaign, which should translate as "Listen, speak, read, write". Except that the third character 渎 isn't the one for "read" 读. The character 渎 actually means "diss" or "disrespect".

This is what COVFEFE looks like in Chinese. This is what sheer incompetence looks like in Singapore.

23 June 2017

Why the National Archives was no Friend of the Court

Earlier last year, we commented on the case of Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang vs Attorney-General that due to their specialist knowledge and unique mandates, the National Archives of Singapore, its fellow SARBICA member associations, or even the International Council of Archives should have submitted an amicae curiae brief to the court if they were not approached by either side to testify.

We argued that a community of archival experts could have provided their perspective on how archival institutions are mandated, given authority and institutional independence, and governed via a clear set of legal frameworks and strict operational and ethical guidelines to handle "secrets", "copyright", and "ownership".

At that time, we were confident that had the NAS or its fellow international archival bodies raised their voices on archival procedure and copyright, the case could've been settled differently, and we were perplexed on their no-show. That is, until today.

30 May 2017

Racism in Singapore comedy? Goodness gracious me!


Youtube influencer Shrey Bhargava attended an audition for the next installment in Hack Neo's "Ah Boys to Men" NSploitation comedy series. It went badly because the casting director requested Shrey to put on a funny Indian accent, and Shrey refused because it was insulting and racist.

Blogger influencer Xiaxue hit back hard, twice, at Shrey. So did his potential cast mates. All hell has broken loose.

Take it from us: This entire thing is a clown show. One that demands your attention.

And why should you listen to us? We actually have writing credits for The Noose. Made our own short films that were screened at The Substation when it was a cultural hub, as well as at the National Museum. And we've even written stand-up routines for local comedians. So let's begin, shall we?

15 May 2017

Date with High Court, Cha-cha with Cheng Bock

Dr Tan Cheng Bock, ready for makan!
Photo by Shawn Byron Danker
It was clear from Dr Tan Cheng Bock's press conference on 31 March 2017 that the good doctor would mount a challenge to the reserved presidential election to be held in Singapore before September 2017. It has been a week since Dr Tan broke the news that he had applied for "a clarification" from the High Court - an application which was accepted.

It is time for us to examine the principles that may guide the court when it makes that clarification for both Dr Tan and the Attorney-General's Chambers. We make no attempt to weigh the "correctness" of these principles or the likelihood that they will be accepted by the Court in its judgement.

24 April 2017

Beware the FAS scandal offside trap!

FIFA's 2015 reform package to improve transparency and accountability in the sport includes a call to remove government appointees from leadership of its regional and national administrative bodies. The reformation has seen a fallout in various countries, with political appointees exiting most unwillingly the national administration of their sport. In squeaky clean, corruption-free Singapore, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has to comply with FIFA and hold an unprecedented and contentious election for its leadership.

Following accusations of a "compulsory donation" to the FAS that was funnelled to the ASEAN Football Association (AFF), the FAS and three football clubs have been raided by Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), the clubs' chief, the former political appointee president and his right-hand man have been called in for interviews.

Instead of reading sensationalist reportage and hack pieces attacking Bill Ng and questioning how his profitable clubs have so many jackpot machines, we invite you to try our serious analysis on the real issues surrounding this case. Clue: It has nothing to do with legalised, highly regulated, ubiquitous jackpot machines in Singapore's football clubs.