28 September 2005

Dear Singapore: While you were sleeping...

Chua Enlai stars in Separation 40, a play written by Jit Murad and Haresh Sharma, about the fiercely competitive twin nations of Malaysia and Singapore, whose leaders use identical political means to suppress dissent in their citizens. The play will be staged in Kuala Lumpur from 29 September to 2 October at KLPac.

Now, there's a danger in going too far with the "Singapore and Malaysia aren't at all different" routine. According to Bernama News and Xinhua Agency, Malaysia has one thing Singapore doesn't: A nuclear power plant. And soon, another nuclear power plant.

Yes, while Singapore was sleeping, Malaysia built the 1 MW TRIGA Mark II nuclear power plant in Bangi, Selangor, for research purposes for 5 mil. Ringgit in 1985, and is due to build a 1000 MW nuclear plant within the next 15 years. This means Malaysia has nuclear scientists!

Meanwhile, Singapore's biotech scientists are busy crowing about their pee-powered batteries. Go, Singapore!

27 September 2005

Meanwhile in Eye-rack...

Readers will know that my coverage of US affairs have steadily declined, especially this year. It's pretty simple: look at my blogroll. There's the best source of news and debate for American and European interests, as well as Singapore.

Hence, my silence on Katrina or the tsunami.

However, there are times when issues I'm interested in aren't covered by the links on my blogroll. This is one of them (ironically, Iraq! War abuses! Torture!).

The Porn of War

On November 15, 2004, a report on CNN.com briefly described a clash in the Iraqi city of Baquba, including an insurgent attack with rocket-propelled grenades on members of the First Infantry Division, in which four American soldiers were wounded. CNN did not post any images of the battle, and the incident wasn't given much attention in other media.

But visitors to the amateur porn website nowthatsfuckedup.com were given a much closer view of the action. Originally created as a site for men to share images of their sexual partners, this site has taken the concept of user-created content to a grim new low: US troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are invited to display graphic battlefield photos apparently taken with their personal digital cameras.

Go. Read. It.

24 September 2005

Tharman's Grand Vision

Amidst all the talk about the great educational reforms of Tharman, as promised in Minilee's speech, we have here a prime exhibit of how well things are moving on the ground.

Exhibit A: In a prominent primary school in the west of Singapore, an 11-year-old student draws a rendition of a classic painting. Instead of counselling the kid, his parents, or his teacher, school authorities fall in love with his artistry and frame the painting in the student gallery.

I bet they'll make tonnes of moneh when the kid kills himself in a few years. Singapore, education and arts hub of Asia.

21 September 2005

Banned in Singapore

Via Chris Loup:

Banned in Singapore: DVDs too hot for Singapore

As the site author of Banned in Singapore explains,
Singapore has banned movies for sexual content, extreme violence, excesive drug use, and extreme religious views that may encourage violence. The list are movies that can be purchased at amazon.com. I've learned of the extent Singapore bans films via my position as a Customer Service Liaison.

One task is processing returns that have incomplete information and the Media Development Authority sends back just enough information for me to process the undeliverable shipments for the confused customer who only gets part of their order.

Sometimes we receive keepers. That's when the the viewer thinks the DVD is so nefarious that it must be kept in Singapore for further inspection. As of late there have been fewer keepers and some aren't even inspected just refused.

I note that the DVDs too hot or sensitive to order into Singapore include:

The Ten Commandments
Madame Butterfly
American Beauty
American Pie 1/2
Basic Instinct
Monty Python's Flying Circus (they showed half a season on TV here 3 years ago?!)
Samurai X (ANIME - shown on artscentral)
Princess Mononoke (Anime - shown in cinemas here)
Bubblegum Crisis
Terminator 1-3
Vampire Hunter D

Oh, forget it.

As Amy Chua, the head of the MDA's said last year, "the Board of Film Censors, which I supervise, does not function as society's moral guardian, or arbiters of taste and decency, and has never set out to do so. It can only reflect, at best, community standards and what society considers to be generally acceptable."

This is the only appropriate response to the jackasses and prigs at Singapore's customs and MDA, who have driven many a sane Singaporean shrill, through their sheer incompetence, malevolence, and mendacity!

18 September 2005


or, what the blogosphere missed.

The big news in Singapore yesterday was not that a third blogger was charged with sedition; nor was it Minilee's vows to crack down on racist speech online, or his pathetic attempts to paint Singapore as a fragile Jenga block that would collapse from 3 bloggers few people have even read of; or even the somewhat promising but vague promises by Singapore's leaders to craft a more appropriate legislation for hate speech.

No. The big news was the report that Singapore's birth rate in 2004 was its lowest in history. Then, there is the revelation that 9 months after Minilee's "This is not just another baby bonus" parenthood package scheme (Harlow, you want upsize this?), the birth rates for May to July have increased by an earthshattering 3%.

Now, readers will know that I have little patience for people and bears of little brain, so do excuse my tone for the rest of the article.

1. Vivian Balakrishnan obviously knows more than we do. What on earth are citizen births, for instance, that he and the rest of the mainstream media continue to harp on? Singapore's Department of Statistics compiles figures for total live births and total live resident births.

2. Over the past 20 years, annual increase (when there was an actual increase) in births ranged from 15% (Dragon year effect) to 2%.

3. The 3% increase for May-July this year are hence insignificant and pathetic gains - contrary to Vivian Balakrishnan's attempt at brownnosing Minilee.

4. Our national propaganda press has been at it since last August, actually, reporting anecdotes of couples giving it a go after Minilee's 2004 NDRS, to surges in hospital visits by expecting parents. As with all Leninist states, reports of good news to the Dear Leader may be slightly exaggerated.

5. Note the figure for 1999-2001. Mr Peanut Goh's baby bonus plan was unveiled in 1999, causing an 8% spike in births (Minilee, this is the figure you MUST BEAT so that you won't lose your honour!). The downward trend resumed the very next year.

6. It's not this year's figures that we should be concerned about - stupid Singaporeans will breed because of the novelty of the parenthood scheme. It's next year and the following year that will give a clue to the effectiveness of Minilee's scheme.

7. Note this is the first year that the Malay birth rate has fallen below the replacement rate.

8. Note that the Malay proportion of the population has been falling even from 1990, despite their tremendously high birth rates then, compared to everyone else...

9. It is time for the government to cease recruiting, on a racial basis, immigrants from China and India, if they want to preserve the current racial fabric of Singapore.

10. At the time of independence, Malays counted at more than 30% of the population.

Sources: Singapore Hansard, Singapore Department of Statistics Population Trends 2005.

17 September 2005

Start them young!

Another primary school in Singapore. This time, the theme is propaganda of the North Korean variety... It's just a matter of time before Singapore has its own Youth Cadets for Minilee.

15 September 2005

In a school in Singapore...

What is Lenin's tomb doing in a school in Singapore???

Filed under: bad architecture, koi ponds, Leninist state

14 September 2005

And now, for something completely different

Taken the morning after the final day of the Hungry Ghost Festival, celebrated on the seventh month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Jogging tracks have multiple uses.

13 September 2005

Reason #54987985 why the gay rights movement in Singapore is infantile

Reports that 2 men have been separately charged on the same day, for making outrageous racist jokes on forums under the Sedition Law in Singapore has largely drawn murmurs of shock, horror, and consternation from all quarters.

(For more information, please follow the coverage of the issue by SingaporeInk, epursimuove, the Sprangle, and Chris Loup)

Yet on the vast internets, there are life forms who are cheering on the application of the Sedition Act. On Signel, the forum for Singapore's premiere gay intellectuals, Roy Tan notes with glee:

We should consider making use of the Sedition Act to stop any local online homophobia dead in its tracks. For once, we may have the police on our side.

Then, Yawning Bread, the mastermind of the premiere spokesgroup of Singapore's gay intelligentsia and some say the founding father of the Singaporean struggle for gay equality, follows up with a very earnest meditation, possibly formulating his latest plan of attack for gay equality:

"Would the same Sedition Act be applicable in cases of hate speech targeting gay people?

I think yes. Clause 3(1)(e), after all says, "feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore."

He also goes in for the kill, and suggests that the White Elephant affair at Buangkok be investigated under the Sedition Act.

The gay movement in Singapore should kill itself now, okay? It's just a total embarrassment to everyone fighting tooth and claw for a wider, stronger, civil society, for a smaller government, for free speech, for a country where the government doesn't clamp down on people using the most unexpected and draconian laws available.

Please lah. Gay people here complain that the charging of homosexuals under the outrage of modesty, obscenity, and public order and nuisance acts is heavy-handed and inappropriate, and even believe the sodomy law is wrong. And then they go shoot themselves in the head with this kind of "GOSH we can use the Sedition Act against homophobia!" nonsense.

Note to civil society: when Singapore liberalises, continue to withhold gay rights from the homosexual lobby, while letting lesbians have equal rights. They fully deserve this.

In case you missed reason #54987984 why the gay rights movement in Singapore is infantile, here it is.

12 September 2005

Poets Without Irony

Chinatown train station, at the waiting bays.

A moving poem lionising the Chinese immigrants who came to Singapore in the 19th century. Yet the choice of words in the second stanza suggests a glorious lack of irony or self-awareness of the present.

They are destined to live and die on this small island.

I'm sure Tan Shie Hwee has won some dubious poetry award for this.

11 September 2005

Reason #54987984 why the gay rights movement in Singapore is infantile

Photos taken from the official website for IndigNation, a festival in August organised by members of PLU, Singapore's unofficial gay advocacy group premiere spokesgroup of Singapore's gay intelligentsia.

The "Quarterly" was held on 23 August as a forum for queer and straight people to discuss "nationhood, our society and the world".

My heart just sinks bounds with joy, looking at the pathetic obsequiousness patriotism in these pictures and their actual captions.

Patriotic PLU members singing the National Anthem, "Majulah Singapura".

Members of the audience dutifully complying with the request to stand and sing the National Anthem.

The gay movement in Singapore should kill itself now, okay? It's just a total embarrassment to everyone fighting tooth and claw for a wider, stronger, civil society, for a smaller government, for a country where fair comment and criticism can be levelled by any member of the public without them having to preface their statements with "As a patriotic Singaporean" and close with "I wish to thank our gracious government for letting me have the chance to air my views".

Does AWARE have to sing the National Anthem and recite the patriotic pledge at the end of any public meeting held in August? Wouldn't we bat an eyelid if the Nature Conservation Society had to affirm its good moral character by urging members and the audience to sing the national anthem at the closing of its meetings?

I won't be surprised if lesbians get equal rights first in Singapore.

And by the way, so much for the inclusiveness of the gay rights movement. Note the audience is overwhelmingly male.

10 September 2005

Separation of Church and State

I'm surprised at myself. Usually August is the month where I go slightly batty with all the stupid propaganda patriotic displays by the island's citizens, civil servants, and leaders. Imagine, if you will, Singapore flags flying everywhere - not because citizens hang them up themselves, but the town council and "grassroots leaders" feel they have to show that their housing project is celebrating National Day. And then the town councils forget to take down the flags even when September has come.

At times, it gets a little ridiculous. I take the train to work every morning on the East-West line, and somewhere between Commonwealth and Queenstown is a multistorey carpark draped in flags ALL OVER. Singapore: Where even carparks must show their patriotism.

And then, there is the sublime.

This image fascinates me in its simplicity. There's a subject, an object, and a verb: Sheng Hong Temple salutes Singapore. Yet the visuals trump the text, add an indeterminacy to the message, reverses the relation, and finally melds the subject and object into one cacophonious whole.

Sheng Hong Temple. Salutes. Singapore.

But in the picture, who is doing the saluting? We have a boy scout, a soldier, police officer, SCDF officer, and various uniformed people, of different races. They can only be read as a representation of Singapore. To be precise, a fascist fetish of Singapore.

Yet if Singapore is saluting, who are they saluting? In the infinite distance, in perpetual deferment, the hidden object. There is only Singapore and Sheng Hong Temple. Singapore then salutes Sheng Hong Temple. The Singapore lion crest salutes the Merlion.

Yet the text says "Sheng Hong Temple salutes..." It insists the persons performing the action are Sheng Hong Temple. Who are doing the saluting? Through careful semiotic slippage, Sheng Hong Temple has become Singapore...

The very fact that this banner exists and is displayed in a prominent place (outside Pandan Primary School at Jurong East), also signifies that Singapore's grassroots leaders and the various layers of bureaucracy in the town councils approved of this poster. Sheng Hong Temple, it appears, has the ear of Singapore and the sanction to impose its image in the holiest of Singapore's secular calendar.

Separation of church and state in Singapore: nonexistent.