Sunday, 3 June 2012

Watz Buzzing - 3 June 2012

Ex-Election Returning Officer: Current voting process unfair

I’ve read some comments on this site with regard to whether our votes are indeed secret. I had been a Returning Officer in numerous GEs and can vouch that there is nothing for voters to worry – our votes are secret.

Notwithstanding, the current voting process is flawed in that it allows the ruling party to zoom-in and map out Voters’ support.

Example of Voting Process @ Polling Station:
  • Residents living between blocks 1 and 10, assigned to lane A1, drop the voting slips in box marked A1;
  • Residents living between blocks 11 and 20, assigned to lane A2, drop the voting slips in box marked A2;
  • Residents living between blocks 21 and 30, assigned to lane A3, drop the voting slips in box marked A3.
These marked boxes were then sent to the counting center to be counted in the exact same arrangement, box by box. Observers from contesting parties in the counting center should then be able to gauge the voting pattern in the respective boxes and thereby indirectly know how each zone voted. Now the parity ends here.

Before next GE, the election commission shall be tasked by the PMO (which it reports to) to undertake a review of the electoral boundaries and mark out the constituencies. It is obvious then that statistics of voting patterns from the previous GE would likely be used as critical inputs to align electoral boundaries in accordance to voters support for the ruling party.

Think about Serangoon Central being subsumed into Marine Parade GRC and part of Hougang into Ang Mo Kio GRC. Such gerrymandering of electoral boundaries prior to every GE serve an unfair advantage to the ruling party even before voting begins.

Voting should not only be secret but the process must be fair to all contesting parties.

All voting slips should be mixed up prior to counting.

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An Open Letter to the President of Singapore

1st June 2012

His Excellency Tony Tan Keng Yam

Office of the President of the Republic of Singapore
Orchard Road, Singapore 238823

Dear President,

Firstly I would like to thank you for your gracious response to our invitation to the JBJ Memorial event last year, even though you were unable to attend due to a prior engagement.

On 29th May I wrote to the Finance Minister asking whether Parliamentary approval had been obtained for our republic’s recent loan commitment of S$5 billion to the IMF. I asked also whether Presidential approval had been obtained as would appear to be required under Article 144(1) of our Constitution. I enclose a copy of my letter to the Finance Minister for your reference.

As I have not received a reply from the Finance Minister I am writing to you to ask whether you would kindly enlighten me as to whether Presidential approval was ever sought or given for this loan commitment.

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Singapore budget not set out according to the IMF framework?

Dear Minister,

I wrote to you on the 29th May raising concerns about our republic’s recent loan commitment to the IMF. I have yet to receive a reply to that letter or an acknowledgement that it was received.

I am writing to you for a second time today, to raise legitimate questions about the way the Budget is presented to Parliament. I believe these are legitimate questions and I believe we have the right to ask them and receive a reply. I don’t see any reason that the Ministry of Finance would not want to be seen answering them swiftly and transparently.

I originally raised these questions in our Party’s official response to Budget 2012 in an open press release published over three months ago on February 23rd 2012. I stated in that release,

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Singaporeans reawaken the "Marxist Conspiracy"

Twenty-five years later, a handful of people seek to redress an old wrong

Last weekend, about 400 Singaporeans gathered in a local park to call attention to a notorious 25-year-old raid called Operation Spectrum, when Singapore’s Special Branch swooped down on 16 activists and community workers and charged them with being involved in a Marxist conspiracy to overthrow the government. Eventually six more were arrested, bringing the total to 22.

To this day, no one is really sure what it was about. The 22 were mostly young Catholics who were forced to “confess” on television such sins as sending books to China, which might have made a good deal more sense if instead they had been receiving books from China, which was then still a putatively Marxist dictatorship. The detainees didn’t fit any stereotypes as agitators, such as those who rattled the island republic during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s. They were actors, social workers, lawyers and students.

The fact that 400 Singaporeans could assemble in a public park to discuss the 25-year-old events and demand that the government do away with its harsh Internal Security Act without seeing their leaders carted off to jail may be an indication that despite the country’s reputation for draconian punishment for anyone contradicting the government, some things may have indeed changed.

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Over 400 people mark 25th anniversary of ISA arrests

More than 400 people gathered at Hong Lim Park's Speakers' Corner on Saturday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first arrests and detentions in Singapore of alleged Marxist conspirators.

Human rights non-governmental organisation MARUAH and Function 8, a citizen-led move to facilitate civic discussions, remembered those who had been arrested in "Operation Spectrum" between 1987 and 1988 for their alleged involvement in a "Marxist conspiracy" to topple the government. Full story

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In Memory of 1987

On Saturday 2 June 2012, MARUAH and Function 8 organized an event called "That We May Dream Again" to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Operation Spectrum. I spoke at this event as Vice-President of MARUAH.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues, thank you for coming here today. My name is Siew Kum Hong. I speak today in my capacity of Vice-President of MARUAH. And I am very honoured to speak here today.

The U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Looking at all of you here today, I am heartened to know that so many Singaporeans are no longer afraid of the Internal Security Act, or of the 1987 detentions.

And fear is the currency of the ISA. Its scope is notoriously broad, its wording infamously vague. I personally believe that this is deliberately so, to keep the population in line. 

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An open letter to PAP : Torture and the abuse of ISA

Hundreds turn up at rally against arbitrary detention
Singaporeans commemorate the ‘Marxist Conspiracy’
That We May Dream Again -- marking the 25th anniversary of the 'Marxist conspiracy'
Blue or red pill? by Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss
In Memory of 1987 by Siew Kum Hong
The ISA is an impediment to building an inclusive society by Ravi Philemon
Singapore: A Place Where Wealth and Status is Preferred to Kindness and Humanity.
Photos by Lawrence Chong (requires logging into Facebook)
Photos by Yahoo!
That We May Dream Again - Video Highlights

Dear friends, if you are a member of the PAP, if you have voted for the PAP, if you are an admirer of Lee Kuan Yew or the PAP, you are endorsing and indirectly responsible for the following:

Firstly, you are endorsing the abuse of the law, particularly the ISA. The ISA have been used to arrest and detain without trial thousands of citizens who had posed no threat to the security to the State, except to the security of one political party - the PAP. The ISD and its network of informants and goons have quietly terrorized and intimidated two generations of Singaporeans into political submission.

It has a created a nation where its citizens are afraid to participate in politics. It has a created a democracy where until the last general elections, about half of the electorate have never voted because the opposition could not find candidates to contest in the general elections. This has allowed the PAP to rule uninterrupted for more than 50 years, implementing policies that has increased the widening of the income gap and forced many of our senior citizens to work until their death.

Secondly, if you a member of the PAP, I would hold you responsible for endorsing the use of torture against prisoners detained under the ISA. Some of the methods used to extract false confessions include sleep deprivation, prolonged interrogation in cold rooms, solitary confinement, physical beatings and electric shocks. The following are excerpts of torture documented by Amnesty International.

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Move on and re-make Hougang together

Think Centre (TC), Singapore's pioneering political association, extends its warmest congratulations to Hougang voters, the Workers' Party (WP) and its MP-elect Png Eng Huat for its by-election victory. The 62.09% electoral win is not only a resounding mandate for Mr Png and WP after a year of contingencies that beset Hougang SMC, but also a political expression of Hougang voters on dissatisfaction with both local and national policies of the ruling Peoples' Action Party (PAP).

As much as we thank the losing candidate Desmond Choo for offering an alternative and a clean electoral contest, TC expresses its disappointment with the PAP leadership for engaging in petty politics, needless character attacks and deliberate skirting of policy debates. Such a guileless strategy has demonstrated the PAP's disregard for the needs of Hougang voters and cast aspersions on its promise to listen more to the people.

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Pre-U Sem Reflections- **** You, DPM Teo

So on the first real day of PUS, DPM Teo Chee Hean came to have a “conversation” with the participants. Simply put, any little respect I have for him before is now lost. Essentially, he skipped over vital topics the youth are interested in and essentially explained the PAP manifesto- the the audience was visibly and audibly annoyed.

You can find a censored version on RazorTV, but it was essentially a roast of DPM Teo. For those not familiar with roasts, Comedy Central occasionally get controversial people to sit in the middle of a stage while comedians rip him apart, all in good fun.

Except hear, there is no good fun. The participants made it extremely clear they were dissatisfied with DPM Teo- and when we asked about our concerns which we do not know what can be done to solved, he will give the f*cking ridiculous reply “What do you think (can be done)?”.

Flaming piece of bullshit. We are 17 year old with very little to no life experience and you want us to come up with policies for you? It is exactly because we don’t know what can be done we worry about the country. We seek your opinion. You gave us none. And when someone manned up and replied, “I am 17 years old, I don’t know what to do”, the crowd went berserk in applause.

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An Email Reply To Fifth Azure, Author Of “**** You, DPM Teo”

Thank you for penning your perspectives on the Pre-University Seminar (PUS), and for articulating your opinion about Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean’s performance during the dialogue session. As you might be aware, your commentary has been making its rounds around the Internet; furthermore, many individuals have praised you for your chutzpah (for good), and willingness to speak out poignantly to express an opinion – which, as you posit, is rather representative of general sentiments – of DPM Teo’s sharing.

I am cognisant of – and to a certain extent, agree with – your contentions and frustrations when it comes to interactions with parliamentarians or senior members of the administration. We appreciate opportunities like this to interact with our policy-makers (though I do question the general effectiveness of these huge settings), but feelings of annoyance or disappointment are inevitable if we feel that we are discoursing on dissimilar tangents.

I have had my fair share of experiences when forums felt more like pedantic lectures – probably the guests too were quick to jump to conclusions because of the age, not intellect of their audience – rather than platforms for meaningful exchanges on an assortment of socio-economic concerns.

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Hawker School– Yet Another Stupid Idea From Vivian B

So the noble Vivian B wants more Singaporeans to become hawkers. The Govt now even thinks that it can make hawking a noble profession by setting up hawker “schools“.

According to the Straits Times, “A new generation of Singapore hawkers will get training under a formal program that the government is keen to co-fund. The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has called for bids to set up a new hawker training center here, The Straits Times understands. If the proposals are feasible, it will shortlist candidates by July.

“In a tender exercise that opened in March and closed earlier this month, WDA highlighted the need to “build a pipeline of skilled hawkers in anticipation of the 10 new hawker centres to be built within the next decade.”

Of all the dumb ideas that have come out of this PAP Govt, this is by far the dumbest of the lot.

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MARUAH petition for Commission of Inquiry on alleged Marxist Conspiracy

Please click this link to view MARUAH’s petition to call for a Commission of Inquiry on the alleged Marxist Conspiracy. If you believe in it too, please provide your details and sign on to the petition!

Please also share the link on Facebook, email it to your friends or even tweet about it! We need 350,000 signatures and it’s not going to be possible without your help!

To email to your respective mailing lists, you may use the following text:

We need to call for a review of a dark episode in Singapore’s history.

It has been 25 years since Operation Spectrum, when 22 persons were detained for allegedly being “Marxist Conspirators”.

Even then, there were doubts about the accusations and whether these citizens should be detained without trial.

25 years later, these doubts continue to linger.

Let’s call for an independent Commission of Inquiry now!

Sign MARUAH’s petition to call for a Commission of Inquiry on the alleged Marxist Conspiracy at this link.

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The New Singaporean Social Classes Disorder

The current wave of anger and outrage by many Singaporeans, following the fatal Ferrari accident involving an immigrant PRC driver, has only added to the evidence to suggest a new social class order has emerged in Singapore and that there is a class warfare growing between the social classes.


One should visit the theories of Marx and Weber on social class conflicts only to find how the current circumstances in Singapore are consistent to both set of theories. Marx had asserted that social class divisions will be the most important source of social conflict. Weber’s analysis is similar to that of Marx but had used social stratification to explain it.


Two economic classes have emerged after 50 years of PAP rule. The affluent class include those who own plenty of private property and other assets. They fall into the top 10 or top 20 percentile of income bracket and the gap between them and the lowest 10 or lowest 20 percentile is the most severe in the world. This group is living in a totally different set of circumstances from the rest and see no reason for any change to status quo.

One can find that this class of people, if they should contribute money to any political party, do so only for PAP and not for any other opposition party. They are totally concerned about consolidating their social class dominance in society. All of the PAP MPs and Ministers also fall within this social class. They are also commonly referred to as the elitists.

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This has to be a joke - 1 in 6 S'poreans millionaires

If this cheap joke is to be believed, then out of every 6 Singaporean friends you have, one has to be a millionaire.

1 in 6 Singapore households are millionaires: Report

Shoppers with shopping bags in Orchard Road during the Great Singapore Sale (GSS). Singapore leads the world in terms of the proportion of households classed as millionaires after the ranks of the wealth swelled again last year. -- ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

Singapore leads the world in terms of the proportion of households classed as millionaires after the ranks of the wealth swelled again last year.

A new study found that households with investable assets of US$1 million (S$1.24 million) or more jumped 14 per cent more to 188,000 last year.

That means 17.1 per cent of households - more than one in six - are millionaires.

The findings come from management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in its Global Wealth Report 2012.

In 2010, 165,000 households were classed as millionaires.
I really would like to know what is the criteria they used in their study. Even if you were to include your HDB flat and whatever savings you have, be it CPF or in your bank, 1 out of 6 is a millionaire is little far fetched and unbelievable.

Whatever this is, the Straits Times is splashing this news as propaganda. As always.

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One Year After A Watershed Election: Reading The Signs

One year after the watershed General Election of May 2011 (GE 2011), political observers, reading the signs being sent out by the government, must be wondering about when—or if—the changes that had then seemed an inevitable consequence of the election, would actually take place. For currently, the signs are mixed and ambiguous, leading to an anxious, cautious ‘wait-and-see’ attitude on the part of the people.

Back then, there was no ambiguity at all about the reactions of the three major players on the political stage. The PAP government, the Singaporean electorate and the opposition parties- had clearly emerged from the amazing election with their old selves so transformed (by pain or victory, as the case might be) that they all conveyed the same message: things would never again be the same. Some line had been crossed, some psychological barrier breached.

The government had conceded, even if only implicitly, that it would have to give up the old PAP authoritarian stance that had been its hallmark for half a century; the people, in a new mood of confidence, had signaled that they would never again be apathetic, timid and silent about issues that affected their lives; the opposition parties, encouraged by the new interest in them, had jubilantly cast off their old image as weak, disorganized groups not worth taking seriously.

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Indian E Pass holder walk-in looking for job

Today at my office, I had encountered an Indian man walking in my company office looking for a job. My company does not have any vacancy but I patronize him by asking about his back ground:
  • Foreign Indian man in his 30s
  • E Pass holder (Salary must be > $3000)
  • Retrenched due to company re-locating overseas
I was thinking this speaks with a strong Indian accent English, does not look professional, wears a haversack(of course nothing wrong wearing haversack), why he was a E Pass? But I did not ask for his resume and I can't judge him liked a book's cover. This Foreign Indian man also had taken a position that a local young man or jobseeker's may be able to fill.

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CPF min sum - making sure you work till you drop dead

The minimum sum that you need to have at 55 in your CPF keeps getting higher. Many won't see their money at 55. So you have to work till you drop dead.

CPF Minimum Sum to be raised to $139,000

Central Provident Fund (CPF) members turning 55 between July 1 this year and June 30 next year will have to leave at least $139,000 in their accounts for monthly payouts in their later years. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Central Provident Fund (CPF) members turning 55 between July 1 this year and June 30 next year will have to leave at least $139,000 in their accounts for monthly payouts in their later years.

This is $8,000 more than last year's Minimum Sum of $131,000.

The Minimum Sum Scheme was introduced to help ensure that CPF members, who can withdraw their CPF savings at 55, will have enough to meet their basic retirement after they turn 65.

So CPF members have to leave some money in their accounts beyond the age of 55. In 2003, the Goverment set this Minimum Sum at $120,000 and aimed to reach it in 10 years.
Govt cites the increased cost of living as the reason for the need to have a higher minimum sum. But the high cost of living is primarily caused by many of PAP's policies at home, rather than factors from outside driving our costs up.

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Bridging the rich-poor gap

The recent pay increases are seen by some Singaporeans as a step forward, but critics view them as tweaking, rather than resolving, a fundamental problem.

WHEN Cabinet ministers took turns to rebuff a proposal to push up salaries of lowly-paid workers, most Singaporeans viewed it as good as buried.

Given the strict way the government is run, the revolutionary idea raised by former state economic adviser Professor Lim Chong Yah might well have faced the death sentence.

His think-out-of-the-box way of narrowing the economic gap called for the salaries of low-level workers to be raised by 50% over three years, and those at the top-end be frozen for a similar period.

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