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.

31 March 2017

Tough Questions with Tan Cheng Bock

Image by Shawn Byron Danker
Copyright 2017 by Laevateinn Strategic Enterprises
On the morning of 31 March 2017, Dr Tan Cheng Bock held a press conference on the upcoming presidential election. During this conference, the good doctor read out the text of his media release (which is also helpfully reproduced on facebook and streamed by The Online Citizen).

As usual, we at Illusio will hold your hand and help you read between the lines.

22 March 2017

Playing politics with diasporic communities: Southeast Asia's lessons for the EU

Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make Turkey great again!
Mr Recep Erdogan has been organising, in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, an unprecedented series of campaign rallies for the upcoming Turkish national referendum to confer unprecedented powers in the presidency.

And even though the European Union has a thing for suicide pacts (yes to unlimited immigration, yes to no checks on refugees, yes to imposing debt bondage on the PIGS, yes to an illogical currency union!), European leaders are mostly not amused. Erdogan's rallies have been completely banned in Austria, cancelled in Germany, and created a victory for the right in the recent Dutch elections (which the media has spun as a loss for the far-right because Geert Wilders didn't win big).

Erdogan is not amused either. So much for EU-Turkey relations (Germany's secret deals notwithstanding), and so much for Turkey's EU membership ambitions? Not quite.

03 March 2017

Hard Talk with the Prime Minister: Singapore loses the plot

HARDTalk interviews are hardly a fireside chat

Did prime minister Lee Hsien Loong "do us proud" yesterday, or did he stutter, freeze, and turn all defensive? It is unlikely that PM Lee thought his BBC HARDTalk interview with Stephen Sackur would be a walk in the park, much less a fireside chat. His father had appeared on the same show several years ago and turned in a feisty performance.

It is far likely that Lee's media team is aware of the performative aspects of an international interview, given the pre-approved trailer showing Lee throw out a combative line: "I would not presume to tell you how your press council should operate, why would you presume to tell me my country should run?"

But if we are to judge if that's a winning line or a defensive cover, we cannot take that line out of context.

24 February 2017

We need to reconsider how Singapore remembers WW2

Yes, the Syonan Gallery has been renamed to the less offensive and traumatising "Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies". But have the professionals behind the formulating, marketing, chronicalising, and critiquing of Singapore history learnt from this episode? Should they seriously reconsider an approach and narrative that is not just stale, not just failed, but poisoning the Singapore identity?

Historical facts are always already mediated.
No historical narrative corresponds to the sum total of historical facts.

17 February 2017

The Syonan Gallery Clown Show


The Omnishambles so far...

On 10 February 2017, Singapore's National Library Board (NLB) unveiled the new name for the Old Ford Factory WW2 history museum. It would be called the Syonan Gallery, in memory of the name Singapore was administered as during the Japanese Occupation.

Tempers flared. According to the rising ire of detractors, the name Syonan (昭南 or "Light of the South") was an affront to survivors of the occupation. It glorified the imperialist project of the Japanese. The minister in charge of culture disagreed. Syonan is the most appropriate name to remind ourselves never again.

Of course there isn't a doubt that Syonan Gallery was a mistake. It's a mistake that hasn't been seen before in the field of cultural and historical production. To my knowledge, there isn't a Sudentenland Museum in the Czech Republic, or a Lebensraum Museum or a Heims in Reich Museum in Poland - because competent historians and curators elsewhere know better than to name a war museum using the frame of reference of the historical villains.