1 million kg challenge winner getting a Suzuki Swift

From ‘Engineer loses more than 5kg, wins Suzuki Swift car’, 26 Oct 2014, article by Samantha Boh, Sunday Times

Accountant Dawn Hoe had always been on the big side. But when she ballooned by almost 10kg after giving birth, the 37-year-old mother of two tried all sorts of ways to lose weight, including going to a slimming centre. But these did not work….Tired of her lethargy and having to field questions from relatives about her size, she joined the Health Promotion Board’s Lose to Win campaign in March, which got her going with exercise classes, before signing up for the One Million KG Challenge.

…Organised by the HPB, the challenge is the country’s first national incentive-based weight management programme. It launched its second season yesterday, but not before a grand draw for 10 finalists, including Ms Hoe, randomly chosen from participants who have lost at least 3kg over six months since March.

The winner of the top prize, a Suzuki Swift car, said she signed up for the challenge thinking that it was a compulsory part of another weight loss programme she was already enrolled in. But the mistake helped 44-year-old engineer Ting Yit Lai to lose more than 5kg along the way.

A car as top prize is a bewildering choice for a weight-loss campaign, one that I would expect to promote walking, jogging or cycling  as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Losing weight, like kindness to strangers, should be its own reward, and if you’re doing it for a new car or a trip to Australia, I would be surprised if you could maintain a healthy BMI after a week of celebrating and wine-and-dine, not to mention in the long run. How about a free lifetime gym membership? Or a year’s supply of fat-free yogurt? At least an electric kick-scooter which would require some lower limb power perhaps?

In the reality-TV series Biggest Loser Asia season 2, local boy Raj lost a staggering 67kg to clinch the top prize of USD $100,000. He may have lost his fat but gained some foes during the show because of his ‘manipulative game play’. But if acting like a bastard on public television isn’t bad enough, Raj soon ‘gained back 9kg’ in a matter of days post-season while celebrating his victory, according to his ambassadorial testimonial for Fitness First. I wonder how the former plus-sized heavyweight is doing now. Earlier this year, some NTU students launched the similarly named ‘FIT TO WIN’, where contestants stood to win cold hard cash from a pot if they lose 5% of their body weight. The top prize is a 1 year gym membership, though I believe most people, myself included, would refrain from trying too hard just to win consolation money. Which I would splurge on a buffet as reward for subjecting myself to 8 weeks of zumba.

Very rarely, such weight loss challenges may lead to death if you overdo it, and the weight reduction may not even be as drastic as 5kg. In 2011, a 54 year old man with a history of coronary bypass collapsed after a 2km brisk walk. It was his second Lose to Win attempt and he lost just 2kg, weighing around 70kg when he died. If you find yourself failing to attain any results, you may even be tempted to cheat your way to the Suzuki, like the ‘doping’ scandal that happened on the US version of the Biggest Loser 2013. Interestingly, Duke-NUS have even embarked on a study to see if people are motivated by money to lose weight, except unlike a contest dangling prize money as a carrot, the researchers make you PAY a sum first as a deposit (refundable if you meet targets) to keep you committed. It’s like signing up for gym membership, without the motivation of eye-candy.

HPB has good intentions, no doubt, but using material incentives, which have nothing to do with healthy living, to spur contestants on is questionable, especially for the long haul. The whole contest is also fixated on losing kgs, not ‘getting healthier’ or ‘lowering your risk of myocaridal infarction’, nor are they telling people that it’s OK if you’re overweight but continue to exercise and eat well, even if it means not losing (or gaining) any kilos at all. People should keep fit for themselves and because they enjoy it for its own sake, not for fame, the attention, defeating the ‘competition’, ‘visible results’ or a brand new Suzuki car which they’ll take on joy rides and give up public transportation forever.


NUS assistant professor faking academic credentials

From ‘NUS probing work of ex-medicine faculty member’, 14 Sept 2014, article by Linette Lai, Sunday  Times

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has opened an investigation after reports that former faculty member Anoop Shankar had faked his academic credentials. “In view of the media reports on Anoop Shankar, NUS has initiated an internal investigation into his research publications when he was at NUS,” a university spokesman said yesterday.

According to his resume, the former assistant professor at NUS graduated from India’s top medical school when he was 21 and had a doctorate in epidemiology. However, a review of his work by West Virginia University in the United States found that Mr Shankar had only a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and did not graduate from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

In addition, some publications listed on his resume were either authored by someone else, or did not exist.

Mr Shankar was at NUS’ Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine from 2005 to 2008, where he was part of the department of community, occupational and family medicine. There, he wrote several papers on topics such as diabetes, and was also part of a research programme looking into eye diseases in Singapore.

Dr. Anoop Shankar, if that is in fact his real name, was part of a team of researchers involved in the epidemiology of eye diseases in Singapore, according to the 2004 Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine annual research report. Ironically, it is NUS senior management who were too BLIND to realise they have been supporting a fraudster’s work with research funding all this time. Some of his outlandish claims can be easily refuted with random background checks or maybe a few calls (courtesy of NBC news):

1. He was never a member of the Royal College of Physicians.

2. He supposedly wrote a paper in 1976 (the year after he was born), not 1996 as claimed in his resume. It turned out that none of the papers listed were actually written by him.

3. He wasn’t among the top 3 graduates of the All India Institute of Medicine in Delhi.

4. The university where he claimed he got his doctorate in epidemiology from doesn’t even have a department of epidemiology.

5. He had photos online pointing to him being a graduate of Kottayam Medical College, not the ‘Harvard’ of India.

It all seems like a sloppy yet preposterous act of forgery to me, and ever since he charmed his NUS employers into hiring him despite the phantom qualifications, not a squeak of suspicion emerged from 4 years in the university. Some of his latest work with VWU were not even directly related to his ‘specialty’ in NUS. In 2013, he suggested a link between a chemical in popcorn and heart disease. This guy is either incredibly charismatic or has a knack for spinning scientific yarn, the academia equivalent of conman Frank Abagnale (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) in the film Catch Me if you Can.

But it’s not the first time that we let a liar boasting illustrious credentials weasel his way into a senior position in the NUMBER ONE university in Asia, and then only wait for someone else to ferret him out. In 2011, former NUS don Dr Alirio Melendez was hauled up by the University of London for research fraud, when his paper published in the Nature Immunology journal was retracted due to ‘inconsistencies’. NUS soon launched their own battery of investigations, uncovering more than 20 cases of alleged fabrications and plagiarism. He was found guilty earlier this year.  Prior to the fiasco he had been working with a team on a new potential drug which may treat septic shock. I thought this discovery would have been sufficiently ‘shocking’ for NUS to tighten their employee screening and audit processes, yet no one in NUS bothered to snoop on Anoop. How many more ‘world experts’ like these have slipped through the cracks? How many bogus articles are floating out there in scientific publication universe? Quite a few apparently. Some folks have even done it as a PRANK.

Fake professors writing fake articles don’t just waste research funds which could have been put to better use. Imagine if Shankar had fabricated his way into establishing a causal link between popcorn and blindness, and a ‘respected’ medical journal is taken in by this doyen of epidemiology’s gobbledegook and made it the health scare of the century, we’d all be stuck with soggy nachos at the movies, while hailing the man as the hero who saved humanity from poison pop corn.

Lui Tuck Yew disappointed with train disruptions

From ‘Transport Minister Lui disappointed with train disruptions’, 23 Jan 2014, article in CNA

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew expressed his concern and disappointment with the recent spate of disruptions on the SMRT rail network during a meeting with the operator’s CEO and senior management on Thursday.

He was also briefed on the status of the ongoing investigations and SMRT’s preliminary findings on these incidents. Mr Lui said: “I share the frustrations of train commuters affected by these incidents, and I empathise with them on the anxiety and uncertainty that they may experience.

“I am also very concerned about SMRT’s service recovery efforts, particularly in reaching out to affected commuters promptly and keeping them updated during these incidents.”

Minister Lui has been ‘concerned’ and ‘disappointed’ before. In 2011 he expressed the same emotions about the N-S line breakdown which had someone resorting to breaking a window with a fire extinguisher. He told SMRT chairman Koh Yong Guan that he held the board and the management team ‘responsible for making it right’. 3 years later, it looks like disappointment alone won’t cut it anymore. Koh Yong Guan is STILL board chairman, and unless our minister has forgotten all about the pledge to uncover the ‘root cause’ in 2011, perhaps it’s time ultimatums are issued instead of second chances and tame euphemisms for ‘pissed off’.

Disappointment is shaking your head and walking away, and it has been a favourite tone adopted by some our ministers whenever someone upsets them. Lim Swee Say, for instance, was disappointed when DBS retrenched workers in 2008. S Jayakumar was surprised and ‘disappointed’ with accusations by Malaysian officials over the Pedra Blanca incident a year earlier. Disappointment is a mother telling her kid nicely that he’s an utter failure, but still loves him anyway. It’s time to slam your fists and up the ante, Lui Tuck Yew. Even your name rhymes with a classic expression that should have been thrown at SMRT a long time ago. They’ve had their chance to redeem themselves, but not only have they struggled to set things right, they even managed to convince the PTC that they deserve their fare hike.

There’s no shame in telling SMRT how you really feel to show Singaporeans that you mean business. Try DPM Teo’s expression of ‘deep dissatisfaction’ with the ICA checkpoint lapse and MFA trespass. Or DPM Wong Kan Seng being ‘totally appalled and flabbergasted’ following the ICA passport mix up in 2008. K Shanmugam recently revealed that he was ‘terribly upset and offended’ by what Anton Casey posted on Facebook. If you want SMRT to wake the Tuck up, you have to take it on a personal level beyond tepid ‘disappointment’, that you’re upset, furious, bloody disgusted and that such breakdowns are totally UNACCEPTABLE. It will even help you score brownie points for the next election, even if chances are nothing’s going to happen to the SMRT board anyway.

Sumiko Tan cheating at Candy Crush

From ‘Candy crushed’, 15 Sept 2013, article by Sumiko Tan, Lifestyle, ST

In the universe I inhabit before I go to sleep every night, I am already in 2014. To be exact, Jan 18, 2014, as of last night. That’s because I am a Candy Crush cheat.

…Googling Candy Crush, I discovered that I could actually get “lives” without waiting. All I had to do was set the clock on my iPad ahead by two hours. Sometimes, though, the clock goes haywire and I’d still be locked out. I then discovered an easier option to get as many lives as I want – setting the clock ahead by days instead of hours.

…At an average of one hour a weekday and two on weekends, I’ve devoted about 180 hours to Candy Crush so far, or nearly eight days of my life. I’m also a little poorer because I’ve had no choice but to pay to gain entry to new levels. I’ve never been a fan of games. The only other online game I was keen on was the wordgame Scramble, but that at least was educational. I learnt new words.

Candy Crush, on the other hand, is utterly meaningless.

…I rather play Candy Crush than talk to my husband. I rather play Candy Crush than go to sleep. Even when I’m sleepy, I feel compelled to play on because I am desperate to get to the next level. And because I’ve discovered the trick to getting unlimited lives, I can play on forever.

…If you have overcome your Candy Crush addiction, pray share how you did it.

I need help.

I can understand Internet addiction, whether it’s surfing, blogging, Facebooking or playing Candy Crush. Fortunately I have observed enough human beings being boggled by the game to NOT get started. Those aren’t jelly beans, they’re parasitic alien worms that burrow into your consciousness and take control of your nervous system like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  This may not be helpful advice to a close-to-50 year old woman, but in the case of CC, prevention is far better than cure. If all else fails, there’s always IMH to render medical assistance.

Not an avid player of casual games myself, hacking gameplay is not something most people should be proud of, not least telling it to the world. Where’s the sense of achievement or satisfaction in that? Sumiko once claimed that she’s ‘OK with losing’ 2 years back, but doesn’t want to let go of her quest to attain higher levels in the game, even if she had to pay for it.

I’m lacking in the “must-win” gene – if there is such a thing. I’ve never felt any desire to be top in class or No. 1 in anything, and am happy if I’m somewhere in the upper half of any ranking. This lack of fighting spirit is also why I avoid games of any sort. I don’t play sporty games, or board games, or even video games. Competition both bores me and makes me queasy.

There’s something about CC that drives a woman who eschews ‘boring’ competition to ‘beat the odds’ just to progress in the game. Mental health experts may wish to explore CC as a training tool for people who lack any fighting spirit whatsoever. Side effects include boarding the wrong train or falling into sinkholes.

Although Sumiko labels the game ‘meaningless’ and ‘no fun anymore’ like how a chronic smoker says cigarettes are killing him while puffing 30 sticks a day, there are some benefits to playing instant gratification dopamine-boosting games like CC. It bonds mothers and daughters-in-laws, it hones your reflexes and by keeping your fingers busy it actually burns more calories than watching K drama on TV. It turns a dreary train carriage into a pachinko wonderland, and in those moments of crush ecstasy your universe is a Willy Wonka wet dream, where unicorns puke rainbow Skittles and anime imps shit eclairs. You’re enclosed in your personal magic bubble, immune to grotesque sights and smells of peak hour train crowding, immune to the grating nagging of the SMRT aunty telling people to ‘move to the centre’. You are even providing entertainment to the elderly man struggling to stand while you’re latched to the priority seat mesmerised and transported into your little slice of sugary heaven.

I’m not sure, though, of the effects of such sweet seduction on Sumiko’s very public marriage to a man known to us only as ‘H’. The game has been referenced in a couple of recent Sumiko articles. In ‘The 3 year itch‘ she admits that she ‘plays Candy Crush late into the night when she should be looking into his (H’s) eyes’. In the same article, she mentions the word ‘divorce’. In July this year she introduced the game to her stepdaughter, which is like a drug pusher tempting a child with cannabis, or in this case ‘CANDYbis’. I wonder how the kid is doing now. There have been anecdotes of children playing CC non-stop till they bleed strawberry syrup from their noses.

Here’s hoping Sumiko weans off her sweet addiction in exchange for candy kisses and honeyed hugs instead. Meanwhile, here’s a totally meaningless video of a kitten playing the same game that gets millions of intelligent adult human beings hooked.

PM Lee’s thick skin is flame-proof

From ‘PM:Two elements key to online resilence’, 23 Aug 2013, article by Rachel Chang, ST

…”First of all, you must not be ashamed of what you are doing,” he said. “If there are some naysayers, you must decide if you have the majority with you or not.”

He said that in cyberspace, “some generally disagree, some are just looking for things to disagree with you about”.

“But if you want to do something for Singapore, you should not be deterred because there are some nasty postings. In public life, you must learn to have thick skin at the right places, in the right times.”

While noting that it can be intimidating for those not in public life to be flamed online, he said: “I am in public life. You flame me, I’m flame-proof!”

It’s been more than 2 years since our PM started dabbling with social media, and I’m not sure if this assertion that he’s immune to flaming is a veiled warning to online critics, or a display of renewed tolerance to criticism. You can crack a childish joke about the prime minister, make him a ‘Mee Siam Mai Hum’ meme, or even satirise him as an incompetent leader in a cartoon strip, but he’s likely to turn a blind eye to it all. Having ‘thick skin’ is important if you need to make unpopular decisions as a leader, though on the flip side it also makes you pretty shameless when you have it at ‘the wrong time’, like taking home free toothpicks from Din Tai Fung for example.

Other than the occasional lawyer’s letter, maybe we should be thankful that at least we don’t live under the Thai King, where by rule of ‘lese-majeste’ you could be put in jail for up to 20 years for ‘flaming’ the monarchy. For all the vile chatter going online, I’m surprised that our government hasn’t imposed a ‘Lee-majeste’ to shut everyone up, or they simply delegated the dirty work to the MDA to discourage online naughtiness under the subtle guise of regulation.

The term ‘flaming’ has been in use since 2005 to describe students griping about and insulting their teachers on blogs. Today it encompasses all sorts of negative behaviour online, be it vengeful cursing, snide cynicism or playground taunting in the vein of ‘My dad is better than your dad’. In its more sinister forms, it can take the form of malicious Photoshopping, or using metaphors which the authorities would take literally as setting the target on fire. Ironically, despite PM Lee telling us that he’s flameproof, you’ll most likely get arrested and charged for inciting violence if you threaten to ‘burn him and the PAP’.

Infernal Flame

It took our PM 6 years to catch up with ‘flaming’ as Internet jargon, and ventured into the online universe which he used to call ‘cowboy towns‘ with an opening salvo containing this very term on a Facebook webchat in 2011 that many Singaporeans at the time deemed, well, CUTE.



No smiley face in the world will protect you from online vitriol, and maybe our PM realises by now that such humble requests are ineffective against naysayers, no matter how ‘newbie-ish’ you are, or how much you resemble a cute, clueless uncle who doesn’t know any keyboard shortcuts other than Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Unlike his father, PM Lee isn’t one to slam his fists on tables or point sharp accusing fingers at his opponents, but it remains to be seen if his genial, open-arms style will win the hearts of online critics who wouldn’t think twice about calling him a two-faced douchebag, flameproof or not.

Being flameproof doesn’t protect one from being ‘taken out of context’ however, as what happened to PM Lee’s comments on the Diaoyu islands being ‘distorted’ into a sensational headline in the Global Times news site. Other than the body armour, our PM has got the entire MFA as a backup weapon, ready to fire back at the pull of a trigger. He may be flameproof, but perhaps not yet DRUMS-proof.

MP quoting ‘Gang rape is democracy in action’ on Facebook

From ‘MP Zainudin draws flak for posting ‘offensive’ quote’, 9 May 2013, article in Sg Yahoo news.

Member of Parliament Zainudin Nordin has drawn flak for posting on his Facebook page a fantasy author’s quote equating gang rape to the exercise of democracy.  The MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC was criticised by people online for being rude, offensive and insensitive after he posted on Monday a quote from “Sword of Truth” fantasy series author Terry Goodkind with the line “Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action.”

The controversial statement prompted a flurry of over 140 comments, most of them expressing outrage. “Even if you did not say that yourself, it is still a very dangerous statement to quote. I simply do not understand why you chose to quote such a thing. Shame on you,” posted Facebook user Joel Yap.

Another Facebook comment by Pauline Leong called the quote “truly, highly offensive” and demanded an apology or explanation from Nordin, while Freya Cyen accused him of being “unable to differentiate democracy, human rights and freedom.”

Nominated Member of Parliament Lina Chiam of the Singapore People’s Party on Wednesday released a statement on the issue, asking Nordin to “retract his statement and apologise to women in Singapore.”

So is spray painting ‘Democracy’ on the Cenotaph. What the quoted writer intended was that no nation should be so ‘democratic’ that your right to free speech or thought turns into action that transgresses basic human rights. In fact, some of the world’s self-proclaimed ‘democracies’ are far from utopian societies. North Korea is the DEMOCRATIC People’s Republic of Korea. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the WORST place to be a mother. The world’s largest democracy India has her recent string of high profile raping, and both Congo and democratic South Africa have been termed ‘rape capitals’ of the world. It may be more accurate, however, to connect gang-raping with Anarchy than democracy, though the vandal who decided to exercise his free will to deface a war memorial clearly mistook one for the other. We may not have people raping others in huddles here, but we do get glimpses of unhinged anarchy at NATAS fairs and K-pop concerts.

But before we decide to ignore Zainudin’s Facebook post because he simply quoted someone else’s provocative analogy and people decided to zoom in on it because ‘rape’ and ‘democracy’ were in the same sentence, there have been people investigated by the POLICE for ‘quoting’ other people on their timelines, except that these were the kind of stuff that our government believes would incite race riots over the island and tarnish this whole ‘democracy’ thing. In 2011, NSman Christian Eliab Ratnam quoted Roy Egan on how ‘Islam is a cxxt that glorifies death’, while another blogger in the same year ‘shared’ a picture of a pig on the Kaaba. Would the police investigate an MP for equating the supposed pinnacle of political systems to the most despicable of crimes against humanity? That’s as likely as me being sodomised in an alley by a bunch of expat louts with a shisha pipe.

Terry Goodkind isn’t the first to allude democracy to gangs and violence. Here are some similar ones from the Quotes About Democracy website:

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The terrible tyranny of the majority” – Ray Bradbury

So perhaps using gang-rape as an example is simply a stark exaggeration of the beloved ‘majority wins’ rule, or what our PAP would call the MANDATE of the people. There are plenty of activities that can pass off as ‘democracy in action’ and yet flout all moral codes and decency known to man. Spitting in public, squatting on a toilet seat with dirty shoes, having the whole bus seat to yourself and ‘gang-raping’ your Facebook friends’ news feeds with daily updates on how many km you ran and calories you burnt, for example. Yet we remain cocksure of our ‘democratic’ aspirations, and we cherish those rare moments when we get to protest like a virgin landing a threesome on his first date, all this coming from a country languishing in the 149th place in press freedom,

Postscript 11 May 13: Zainudin soon apologised for offending anyone with Goodkind’s quote, though he’s not taking too kindly to a certain ‘Ganga’ who posted his photo with the controversial line next to his face, slamming the blogger for being ‘mischievous’ and selective in his abstraction of the quote. His latest FB post as of 11 May was:

Yesterday, I played football with our NYP colleagues for the ITIS-NUSS Staff Tournament. I played one half and managed to score a goal. We won 4-1 against TP. Congrats to our NYP Staff team.

No mention by the MP if it was in fact an OWN GOAL.

Police investigating Straits Times’ Punggol East by-election poll

From ‘Police looking into ST publication of by-election poll’, 13 Jan 2013, article in Today online.

The police is looking into the Straits Times’ publication of the findings of a poll on the Punggol East by-election, said the Elections Department today. The article, published on Jan 10, polled 50 Punggol East residents on which party they were rooting for in the by-election.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, publishing the results of any election survey from the day the writ of election is issued until the close of all polling stations on polling day is not allowed. The writ of election was issued on Jan 9. In a statement today, the Elections Department said: “In response to media queries about the poll on the Punggol East By-Election published in the Straits Times on 10 January 2013, the case is currently being looked into by the Police.”

Since the article was published, netizens have questioned the legality of the report in online forums and social media.

Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 9.33.09 PM

The Jan 10 article in question was titled ‘ST poll: More rooting for PAP’, which is misleading because out of the 50 Punggol residents surveyed, 19 supported PAP vs 10 for Opposition, and the remainder were ‘UNDECIDED’. It seems rather premature to say anything about the Punggol sentiment on the ground from such results, in particular something like ‘the EDGE that the ruling party appears to hold may be a reflection of  the incumbency advantage it has always held in a middle-class, traditionally PAP-leaning ward’. No details were given from the article on how the poll was conducted, but it appears that it was done through interviews of random residents. ST Editor Warren Fernandez confirmed my suspicions:

“Our reporters spoke with residents in Punggol East to get their comments and a sense of the ground for our election reports. This was not a full-scale survey, or scientific poll, by any means.

One would question the bias inherent in such straw polls where participants have to respond to a team of ST reporters who’re more than happy to publish your name and your OPINION for the whole country to see. It would be interesting, if it weren’t illegal, to see instead how Punggol residents would vote anonymously, through an online poll rather than having someone from a government-endorsed national paper approach you with a notepad and stuffing an audio recorder in your face. Maybe the 21 people weren’t ‘undecided’. They just didn’t feel comfortable, or afraid even. It’s as scientific as having Ah Long San going around asking what you think of graffiti. But that’s not quite the point is it? Does a straw poll have to be ‘full-scale’ and statistically rigorous before it is considered illegal? Here’s see what the Law says:

Blackout period for election survey results 78C.

—(1)  No person shall publish or permit or cause to be published the results of any election survey during the period beginning with the day the writ of election is issued for an election and ending with the close of all polling stations on polling day at the election.

(2)  Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
[31/2001; 10/2010]

(2A)  The offence under subsection (2) shall be an arrestable offence within the meaning of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010.


(3)  In this section, “election survey” means an opinion survey of how electors will vote at an election or of the preferences of electors respecting any candidate or group of candidates or any political party or issue with which an identifiable candidate or group of candidates is associated at an election.

Nowhere in this section of the Parliamentary Elections Act does it specify how thorough a survey must be before it’s allowed. But if you generate absolute numbers as to how many ‘rooted’ for PAP or Opposition, that sounds more than just an ‘opinion’ to me. You’re saying 19 people will vote PAP vs 10 for anyone else, clearly a statement of voter preference.

Such tightening of election laws was imposed in 2001 by Minister of Information and the Arts Lee Yock Suan, in response to the Internet facilitating such polls and this ‘crystal ball gazing’ having the potential to ‘sway voters’ or even influence election results.  In the last GE, Temasek Review’s Dr Ong Chor Teck was ARRESTED for conducting an exit poll on Polling Day. No idea what happened to him since. I doubt this was a ‘full scale’ or ‘scientific’ poll either, but I wonder what would have happened if he wasn’t behind a ‘socio-political’ PAP-bashing website, but from ST or Mediacorp instead.

What exactly is so dangerous or subversive about publishing pre-election polls? How is this more illegal than posting a personal opinion or how you voted on your Facebook page or blog, especially if you’re someone influential with a large following, a celebrity for example? Xiaxue is an unabashed PAP supporter, should we allow her to gush about her favourite political party during and after elections? So what if the ST thinks the PAP has an ‘advantage’ based on a crappy survey; don’t we ALL know that already? Not only is a ST pre-election poll illegal, it is also redundant in my opinion. If I want to know what Punggol residents think of the rising ‘son of Punggol’ or ‘unity candidates’, I’d access forums or eavesdrop on uncles at kopitiams, not scour the ST for anything remotely insightful. If the ST were let off with a mere warning on a technicality of ‘scientific rigour’, imagine the floodgates opening for the online random polls that would follow. If the premier mainstream paper can get away with it, what’s stopping me from publishing an informal poll on my Facebook, this blog, or via email to family and friends?

There were a trio of reporters responsible behind the article, a team consisting of Elgin Toh (who also wrote a breaking follow up ST article hours after this titled ‘Elections Department says police looking into ST report‘), Lim Yi Han and Chia Yi Min. But it’s senior management who needs to step into the firing line ( if anything even comes out of this) for allowing it to go to print. In the spirit of colorectal surgeon butt jokes, may the police PROBE sufficiently into this poll so that justice is served, and let’s hope some otherwise decent journalists don’t get their asses fried over this fiasco.