Workers’ party a bunch of arrogant nomads

From ‘Opposition parties come and go like nomads: ESM Goh’, 27 Aug 2015, article in CNA

…OPPOSITION ARE LIKE “NOMADS”

“Opposition parties come and go like nomads. Nomads will not have an interest in the people’s welfare. A new tribe is coming – do they really have interest in Marine Parade’s welfare?

“Having spent forty years there, the residents know me. I will leave it to them to decide whether I’ve done a good job or not.

“The opposition will be there just throwing all kinds of distractions.

“You know the fable of the rooster that crows when the sunrises? The rooster goes around claiming that it’s the crow causing the sun to rise. So that’s what they’re doing.”

“A CERTAIN ARROGANCE” ABOUT WP

“Strength is relative. They (WP) are stronger than NSP (National Solidarity Party) – there’s no doubt about it – but there is a certain arrogance about them.

“With that arrogance will they be able to replace me and my team? Let them try. “Are we worried that WP is coming to MP? Look at the way they run their Town Council’s finances and look at the way we run (ours).

“You decide – who do you want to manage your town council?”

There’s a fine line between being arrogant and being confident, and you would expect one to swing to another in politics when showboating is necessary to get people to listen. When ESM Goh says WP are being ‘arrogant’ when they decided to send a team to challenge the MParader himself, he really means ‘You have the ‘cheek’ to challenge my 40 year old legacy.’ He also said that the PAP Government was ‘its own check’, without the need for Opposition ‘distractions’. This isn’t cock-sure confidence or boasting, it’s plain delusional. It’s like a drunkard saying he’s ‘not drunk’. This lecture on arrogance coming from someone who previously mocked the NSP as a ‘No Substance Party‘ during the last election. Someone who’s, obviously, no ‘spring chicken’ anymore.

If the WP were roaming nomads without a home to call their own, such talk makes the MParader himself sound more like an old man of the mountain, living in his ivory tower watching his subjects collect and transport cardboard for entertainment. With such lofty self-assurance, surely there’s no need for the Audit-General, the President, or even the need for public feedback because the PAP has been doing so well ‘checking themselves’, anal warts and all. Where’s the check when ex-MP Phey Yew Kok disappeared for almost 40 years after being charged for corruption? Did it wander off somewhere like a nomad?

If there’s anyone accused of arrogance it’s usually the ruling party itself, even ever since its inception. In 1959, Minister of Culture S Rajaratnam launched a scathing insult at the Opposition, calling them ‘comic opera parties‘, and that they belong to the ‘ice age’ of Singapore politics. Not a very ‘cultured’ remark, perhaps. Goh Keng Swee was also guilty of it, haranguing the English press for smearing the PAP.  LKY was also labelled as the ‘master of arrogance’.  You could say arrogance was built into the party’s DNA, at a time when hard knocks called for a hard head, that such blatant display of cockiness was, well, earned.

Nonetheless LKY and his ‘Old Guard’ were still well regarded by old folk in the 80’s and up till today, who yearned for the founding members’ never-say-die attitude instead of that displayed by their ‘arrogant’ younger successors. This generation includes types who make fun of another politician’s hearing disability, (Lim Wee Kiak on Low Thia Khiang), those who compensate for their not doing NS by invoking superhero nobility  (I spent the last 10 years saving kids’ lives – Janil Puthucheary) and those who brag about how politics is really a calling and how bad their pay cut was (Grace Fu – When I made the decision…).

Even PAP MPs themselves are aware of their own bloated sense of self-worth. In 2006, Indranee Rajah urged the PAP to ‘overhaul its arrogant image’. To be fair, the PAP by and large has softened since the 2011 GE, perhaps now fully aware that the people will not stand for strong-arm tactics and a holier-than-thou attitude much longer. Retired generals act like your everyman on the street, swapping their rugged camouflage kits for the squeaky clean all-whites. Lawyers dabble in Singlish and eat hawker food. Doctors like ‘nomadic’ candidate Koh Poh Khoon pick up leaf litter from drains. Baey Yam Keng and Tin Peiling handle sanitary pads and soiled diapers. They literally had their hands and feet on the ground. This could herald the new era of PAP MPs who you could actually relate to, while the old elitist breed stomp grudgingly into their twilight years, refusing to give up their knuckle-dusters and continue to bang on the Opposition, seething behind their wobbly dentures till their dying breath.

It’s interesting how ESM Goh mentioned the analogy of a poultry here, because while one kampong chicken claims credit for the sun rising, another prized specimen struts around thinking it owns the coop, unaware of the farmer sharpening his cleaver. Or in this case, a sturdy hammer.

Unfair treatment of single mums a deterrent to unwanted pregnancies

From ‘Unequal benefits for single unwed mums a matter of deterrence’, 3 Aug 15, Voices, Today

(Sum Siew Kee): I agree with the writer of “Unwed mums did make choices that led to their situation” (Aug 1), and I wish to add a point. Some people argue for more benefits on the grounds that the child is innocent. While this is true, the child is also the parents’ responsibility.

For something to be a strong disincentive, it often must go beyond affecting the person himself. Nothing is more motivating than preventing harm from coming to the people one loves. For example, jail terms are a deterrent not only because of the unpleasant confinement, but also the loss of income, which may create hardship for the offender’s family.

Likewise, loan sharks ask for their client’s address because they can incentivise their clients to pay their debt by inflicting some pain on their family. Kidnapping a person and asking for ransom would work better than torturing him directly. Terrorists, criminals and the justice system understand this principle.

In the case of benefits for single mothers, if we intend to deter people from unwanted pregnancies, we must make good on the threat of inadequate support for a child born out of wedlock, otherwise the deterrent will not work. In conclusion, the matter is a balance between social justice and setting the right incentives.

The writer sounds like he holds a Masters in Criminal Psychology, using hard economics to justify why not treating single moms as we would typical parents is a form of ‘social justice’. What’s missing from this simplistic view of an ancient human predicament is the apparent failure to appreciate the emotional aspects of unwed motherhood. It’s such gnawing stigma about how single moms ‘asked for it’ that drives some to give their kids up for adoption, or worse, abort the baby before it has the chance to grow into a curious toddler asking Mommy ‘Why don’t I have a Daddy like my friends in school?’.

We leave those who choose to discard their foetuses alone, but when a mother decides to rear a child herself, we shake our heads, wag fingers and think ‘shotgun’. In the case of this Mr Sum, he uses the yardstick of kidnapping ransom and incarceration to make the disconcerting point that some form of ‘soft punishment’ of this bastard child of an illicit union not sanctioned by thy Heavenly Father must exist. Remove the scarlet ‘A’, and we’ll have fatherless babies crawling all over the place.

There are other ways to deter unwanted pregnancies besides the ‘threat of inadequate support’ of course. Sex education and knowledge of the various contraceptive measures available, for example. Or slapping charges on fathers who run away from personal responsibility. If unwed parenthood isn’t in your opinion socially acceptable as a ‘lifestyle’ and those who embrace it should not be granted equal parental rights, it follows that we shouldn’t make life easy for ex-convicts, divorcees, gamblers, morbidly obese people, prostitutes, smokers or people who are HIV positive either. All these folks ‘made their choice’. It’s our choice if we want to be humane or not.

Of all the conservative folk who frown on single motherhood, the worst culprits are policy-makers. In 1984, then Trade and Industry Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore was still a fairly conservative society and ‘would not welcome’ unmarried mothers. 10 years later, we remain just as conservative, with PM Goh Chok Tong declaring that the acceptance of unmarried motherhood as a ‘respectable’ part of society was WRONG. Echoing the letter writer’s incentive theory above, he went on to say that ‘removing the stigma’ may encourage more women to have more babies out of the wedlock. In other words, the shame of being an unwed parent, and omiting them from housing policies, is necessary so that others won’t think it ‘fashionable’ to bear the child of some dark and handsome stranger after a torrid one night stand. Like Terence Cao for instance.

So much for an inclusive society. Incidentally, the 90’s saw the release of a ‘single mother’ anthem, Heart’s ‘All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You’, which tells the tale of a woman conceiving with a stranger after a rainy night of ‘magic’ and giving birth to a child with ‘his own eyes’. Damn these Western soft-rock bands and their illegitimate love-child fantasies. 20 years on and they continue to threaten our ‘Asian values’.

Stray chickens spotted in Singapore

From ‘Stray chickens spotted wandering around several parts of Singapore’, 22 July 2015, article by Lee Min Kok, ST

Singapore may strike some as a concrete city, but stray chickens have been seen wandering around various parts of the island in recent months.

A concerned member of the public living in the Stirling View and Mei Ling Road neighbourhood in Queenstown had wrote in to Stomp recently to report several sightings of chickens in the neighbourhood.

She had highlighted the issue to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the town council, but attempts to catch the birds were reportedly not successful. Stray chickens also appear to be thriving in the Fort Canning area.

According to Mr B. L. Koh, who goes on regular jogs in the vicinity, stray chickens can be spotted at three locations – near the Fort Canning Hotel, the Central Fire Station on Hill Street and the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple along Tank Road.

Unlike other flying birds like pigeons, crows and mynahs, chickens don’t shit on our cars or heads, and neither are they legally considered ‘pests’ that need to be culled. In fact, one particular species with a glorious flaming red comb is known as the Red Junglefowl, an endangered species. If there’s any ‘concern’ by the complainant it’s probably paranoia over bird flu, in which case, he or she should also sound the alarm on every flock of pecking pigeon that you can find in almost every neighbourhood. ESPECIALLY WITH LITTLE CHILDREN CHASING THEM ABOUT OH DEAR GOD!

In 1983, an ST forum writer lamented about his missing cockerel in the Chip Bee estate, whose ‘strident’ morning cry would bring some ‘kampung’ vibe to an otherwise staid concrete jungle, Mother Nature’s alarm clock that would make you arise with a smile rather than stumble about shit-faced grumpily reaching for the snooze button. The cock’s crow was welcomed as the ‘sweetest of nature’s melodies’, a sound that’s all but extinct today. Without cocks, we’d have to settle for the shrill buzz of crickets and lizard chirps, a creepy-crawlie orchestra to soothe our senses against the barrage of chugging engines, MRT trains and neighbours banging goddamn cutlery early in the morning.

Others didn’t take too kindly to the constant crowing, though. Still, it’s not like these chickens are grazing around HDB flats to the annoyance of humans. They’re not bothering anyone, not picking at leftovers in a hawker centre, or charging at little children, not attacking your Sheng Shiong plastic bag of groceries, so why the fowl mood? Aren’t we supposed to be a ‘City in a Garden’, where you can find the occasional otter family, monitor lizards, Lyssa zampas or even an owl in the Istana?

That video of chickens frolicking about on a grass patch was strangely therapeutic, and pity that some people fail to appreciate the simple joy of animals running wild, and complain to the authorities with a cock-and-bull story that we’re facing a chicken epidemic. Imagine an AVA officer chasing a squawking bird and failing miserably. Now that will go viral – I’m cocksure of it.

SAF getting first female Brigadier General

From ‘SAF promotes first female to Brigadier General’, 26 June 2015, article by Chan Luo Er, CNA

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) now has their first female Brigadier-General (BG). Col Gan Siow Huang was one of seven Colonels promoted to the rank of BG and RADM (One -Star) at the annual SAF promotion ceremony on Friday (Jun 26). She will assume her rank on Jul 1.

She was among the first four women to receive the SAF merit scholarship in 1993, and she now heads the Joint Manpower Department. In recent years, she has been making calls for more women to choose the SAF as a career. Currently, close to 1,500 women hold combat jobs in the SAF, less than 10 per cent of SAF regular personnel. Every year, about 60 women join the army.

As women make progress in the armed forces, Singapore continues to lag in terms of female presence in boardroom positions (9% of board seats). This despite instances of negative gender stereotypes in army recruitment ads, such as the ‘Shades of Green‘ campaign that suggested that there’s still a little vain princess in every woman looking at a career in SAF, rather than a GI Jane. It’s probably a matter of time before we get a female Chief of Army, and this is likely to be even before we get our first female Prime Minister.

Here’s a timeline of achievements by women in uniform in an organisation that is traditionally helmed by men with moustaches. As expected, those in the honour roll who are also mothers are lauded for their ability to ‘balance work and family commitments’, and talk about how their husbands are always ‘supportive’ and OK with the fact that their spouses have more balls than they do.

1967: First deployed doing clerical and logistics work.
1971: First military car drivers.
1987: First Senior Warrant Officer (SWO).
1987: First combat instructors. In this article, the now derogratory phrase ‘fairer sex’ was used.
1999: First Lieutenant Colonels (LTC) (High-flying women, 30 June 1999, ST)
2000: First Commanding Officer (CO) of an an army combat unit
2005: First colonel. Like BG Gan, Karen Tan (now retired from SAF) is a working mother.
2006: First Regimental Sergeant Major
2007 (?): First F-16 fighter pilot
2014: First Apache helicopter pilot. Captain Joyce Xie was formally trained in molecular and cell biology.
2015: First BG.

As you can see, women in uniform have achieved more in 15 years than their counterparts in Parliament. Our Cabinet is still predominantly male. Maybe Jack Neo, currently bleeding the Ah Boys franchise dry, may want to consider an ‘Ah Girls to Generals’ movie trilogy.

Kopitiam staff sacked for washing shoes in sink

From ‘NEA to take action against Kopitiam after employee was caught washing shoes in sink’, 23 June 2015, article by Lee Min Kok, ST

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it will take action against food court operator Kopitiam after one of its employees was caught on camera washing her shoes in a sink at an outlet in the National University Hospital (NUH). The employee has been sacked after the incident was highlighted on social media.

The clip, which lasts almost two minutes, shows the woman scrubbing both her shoes with a brush under a running tap within the cold desserts section of the food court. She then appeared to return the brush to a container which held other kitchen utensils.

…Kopitiam, known for its chain of food courts in Singapore, has since apologised for the incident. In a post on Facebook on Tuesday morning, it assured customers that the washing equipment used by the employee had been replaced and the sink disinfected.

You may not be a frequent visitor to NUH Kopitiam, but patients from the wards are. Imagine if you were hospitalised for a severe bout of food poisoning and you decide to give yourself an icy treat near recovery, only to spend another few nights retching away because your Ice Kachang comes with ‘extra toppings’: Someone’s inner sole leather shavings.

Food courts in hospitals should be held to a more stringent hygiene standard than the ones in your average shopping mall. For an environment already teeming with bugs, the last thing you need is someone introducing ‘foot-borne’ ones into your meal. Rival food chain Koufu was once flanked by an army of cockroaches, and a kid lost his life after eating tainted Nasi Padang in Northpoint’s Kopitiam branch.  Yet, despite all these horrific lapses in hygiene, Singaporeans still flock to these places because they’re willing to eat mediocre, sometimes atrocious, food as long as there’s air-con and staff discounts.

The rest of us with more discerning stomachs but on an equally tight lunch budget often turn a blind eye to the filthy practices at hawker centres, nor do we stand by and film elderly cleaners using the same piece of cloth to wipe tables, plates and trays and cost them their jobs after posting videos on Stomp.

There are worse things than giving your shoes a rinse-over in the sink, though. Here are some real-life tummy-churners:

1) Cleaners washing glasses in a pail of dirty water.

2) Washing raw food with rainwater from the roof.
4) Putting raw chicken on the floor.
5) Smoking while flipping prata.

Seriously, most of us are too hungry to scrutinise a hawker’s fingernails, how he handles our money, where he wipes his sweat, or how the dishwashing is done behind the scenes. Let this be a wake-up call not just for kopitiam vendors, but anyone with a licence to sell food, that whenever public health is compromised by a gross act of negligence, someone will be watching, complaining and NEA will step in and not hesitate to give the offender, well, the BOOT.

Policeman shot in Khoo Teck Puat hospital

From ‘Shooting case at hospital:Man could face death penalty’, 22 June 2015, Today

The police have classified Saturday’s incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where a police officer was shot, as an unlawful discharge of firearms under the Arms Offences Act, an offence that carries the death penalty. The suspect, a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was arrested for motor vehicle theft on Friday, will be hauled to court this afternoon on this holding charge

…The suspect, who was under remand for further investigations into his alleged motor vehicle theft, had complained of chest pains on Saturday and was escorted by police officers to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to seek medical attention.

At about 7.05pm, while inside one of the hospital’s examination rooms, which are not accessible to the public, the suspect attempted to escape and struggled with one of the officers. TODAY understands that the suspect had attacked the 31-year-old officer while his colleague stepped out of the room. The suspect is believed to have taken hold of the officer’s baton and used it to beat the latter.

He then snatched the officer’s revolver and discharged three rounds, before he was subdued and the situation was brought under control. The accused sustained superficial injuries.

The death penalty for using a gun on another person, even with just the intention to cause hurt,  came into force in 1974, signed off by then President Benjamin Sheares. ‘Firearms’ also includes air pistols, air guns and even flamethrowers, according to the Arms Offences Act. In fact, you don’t even need to aim your weapon at a living thing to get convicted with a possible death sentence. The law states:

“…any person who uses or attempts to use any arm shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have used or attempted to use the arm with the intention to cause physical injury to any person or property.”

The lesson here then, is unless you’re a soldier or a cop, hands off anything that fires pellets, missiles or bullets. Even threatening people with a toy gun, or what the law describes as an ‘imitation arm’, can land you 10 years in jail and 3 strokes of the rotan. What’s not clear is whether you’ll still get death if your gun is not loaded and you’re using it just to scare your target like an imitation arm. What will happen to you if you shot people in the knee with a bow and arrow, or a catapult at close range for that matter? Or what if you managed to disarm a robber of his pistol and was forced to fire it near his feet to scare him away? As Mr Bean taught us, you could create havoc just using your bare hand as an ‘imitation arm’.

The first death sentence for such a crime was doled out to Sha Bakar Dawood in 1976, who wounded 3 people in a brothel and fired at the police. A year earlier, an accomplice to an armed robbery was sent to the gallows as well, despite him voluntarily surrendering to the police. For decades our strict gun control laws kept us safe from gang robberies and mass slaughters, that is until 2005 when Chestnut Drive Secondary School was mysteriously attacked by a suspected sniper with an air-gun. Not sure if the culprit was ever caught, though thankfully no one was hurt during the onslaught.

It’s a terrible idea to try to snatch a policeman’s revolver, not only because you risk being sent to the hangman’s, but you may get shot or even killed before your execution in the ensuing struggle. In the mid 80’s, a motorcycle thief was shot in the abdomen in failed attempt. 2 men died within the span of 20 days in 1984 while playing tug-of-war with armed police. In 1985, a 19 year old was hit in the chest and died after trying to grab a PC’s revolver. In his defence, PC Tay Kok Thong had just wanted to fire a shot to ‘scare him away’. In the same year, an escaping burglar was fatally shot in the neck.  In the KTPH case, the policeman had it worse off, but would the accused still get the death penalty even if he was shot in the face at the same time that the cop got his hand blown off, and survived?

I trust that our police are drilled in dealing with gun-snatch situations without the trigger being pulled and accidentally killing someone. Still, if you’re a revolver thief, you may try sneaking up on a detective while he’s fooling around with his girl in a park, or grab his bag while he’s swimming, instead of trying to yank it out of his holster. For the moment, there is no punishable-by-death law against the ‘unlawful wielding of a knife or equivalent sharp object’, even though you can just as well kill someone at close range with a stabbing weapon. Such a law, however, could probably put an end to secret society gangfights and domestic kitchen disputes once and for all.

Singapore swimmers dropping the name ‘Red Lions’

From ‘MINDEF welcomes SSA’s decision to drop Red Lions name’, 18 March 2015, article in CNA

The Ministry of Defence said it welcomes the Singapore Swimming Association’s decision to not use the name ‘Red Lions’. This comes just days after Manpower Minister and Singapore National Olympic Council President Tan Chuan-Jin announced that Singapore’s aquatic athletes will be collectively known as “The Red Lions”, in a bid to provide a common identity for the sport.

The Red Lions tag was meant to unite the five disciplines – diving, swimming, synchronised swimming, waterpolo and open water swimming. However, the name is already used for the Singapore Armed Forces’ parachute team.

In response to media queries, Chief Commando Officer COL Simon Lim said: “We welcome Singapore Swimming Association’s move to drop the use of ‘Red Lions’. The SAF Red Lions and our national aquatic teams are sources of national pride for Singaporeans. We are supportive of our aquatic athletes and are cheering them on as they fly the Singapore flag high at the upcoming Southeast Asian Games.”

SAF came up with the ‘Red Lions’ in 1995, and when the SSA decided to adopt the tag for our swimming team, commandos cried foul. Granted, it’s awkward to name a swim team after a land mammal, likewise an elite group of flying commandos, but this ruckus over a name supposedly synonymous with the NDP parachuters smacks of poor, well, sportsmanship. These are our own countrymen fighting tooth and nail for national glory for goodness sake.

MINDEF itself has been accused of stealing other people’s ideas, namely a mobile medical station. ‘Lions’, in fact, has been used to identify sport teams way before the commandos decided to add a national colour to it and claim ownership. Here’s a rundown:

1) The Singapore Lions, polo (1920’s). I suppose the one with horses.

2) Our national soccer team (1970’s till now), with the developmental ‘Young Lions’ under their wing.

3) The Dunearn Lions, rugby (1970’s)

4) The ‘Police Lions‘, a squash team (1980)

5) Amazingly, a tennis squad called the Brylcreem Lions (1970s). I’m sure they gel very well as a team.

6) TaeKwanDo Lions(1980s), which in my opinion, is the most befitting of the king of the jungle, a sport which involves you striking and mauling your opponent. Sometimes you also roar.

Of course these days we have teams adopting the ‘Singapore Lions’ tag without our football team making a hissy fit about it, like this cheerleading squad for example. I could form a competitive chess team and call ourselves Singapore Lions without anyone accusing me of identity theft. Like the sky-jumpers, our footballers also deserve to be called ‘a group who have dedicated their lives and put themselves through HIGH RISKS to capture people’s imagination’. But that doesn’t necessarily grant you exclusivity to the name, especially one that pays tribute to a national symbol. 

If there’s any good out of this, it gives the SSA a chance to choose a far superior name, something closer to the aquatic nature of the sport. The ST reported that other choices included the Red Singas, Red Merlions or, strangely enough, Aquamen, the latter possibly getting you in trouble with DC comics. Or AWARE since there are women in the team.  How about the Red Tomans perhaps, unless MINDEF decides to shoot the SSA down again for choosing the same colour.

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