Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Watz Buzzing - 11 Sep 2102

PM Lee Hsien Loong expressed support for Philippines in South China Sea Dispute

Manila Bulletin, 8 Sep 2012
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday expressed support to the Philippines’ efforts for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (SouthChina Sea).

The two leaders “also expressed the need for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to strengthen its solidarity and its centrality in being able to reinforce the importance of ASEAN being an entity that would promote peace and stability in the region,” del Rosario said.

He said Aquino thanked Lee “for the very strong support that Singapore has given the Philippines in terms of its position in the West Philippine Sea. Full Story

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Malay Singaporeans are a marginal community but they are not marginalized: SDP Forum

Mr Walid Jumblatt, Mr Abdul Halim bin Kader, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, Mr Maarof Salleh, Mr Mohd Jufrie Mahmood

In a rare show of solidarity, a grassroots member of the ruling elite had a “conversation” at the SDP’s Malay forum to address the issues facing the Malay community in Singapore. While Minister Heng Swee Kiat has deployed thousands of people into his national conversation project; a two man team of Mr. Jufrie Mahmood and Dr Vincent Wijeysingha were having their own “national conversation,” starting off with the Malay community.

Dato Abdul Halim Kader, PBM and PAP-Malay grassroots leader spoke about how the Malays have made drastic improvements in all walks of life in the last 20 years. He spoke passionately and intensely about Malay issues and said that there are currently about 30,000 tertiary students in the various varsities in Singapore. He also warned that it was pointless throwing rhetoric and criticisms at the ruling elite if basic economic needs of the community were not met.

In a sharp rebuttal, Mr Walid Jumblatt said that aggregate numbers distort reality and that the improvement in the last 20 years for Malays entering universities has been just a mere 3%. Echoing the same sentiments, Mr Maarof Salleh said the only way to be heard was to "speak at the ballot box."

Malay issues are national issues: SDP forum

For the longest time, Singaporeans were told to either be “very careful” when they talk about minority issues, in particular issues affecting the Malay community, or to not talk about them at all. These are “sensitive issues” and are best 

Discussed and resolved by the community itself. Singapore’s past history of communal riots have often been cited as one of the reasons why such issues are best spoken in hushed tones behind closed doors, if at all.

But Singapore (and Singaporeans) has come a long way from the riots and violence of earlier days. If there were any doubts that Singaporeans are incapable of discussing these matters openly, honestly, and even robustly, they were demolished at a forum organised by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday.

The forum, titled “The future of Singapore – Do Malays have a part?”, saw a turn-out of more than 100 which packed the room at Bras Basah Complex. The SDP described the event as “historic” in its pre-forum article on its website. And in many ways, it is. It has been a while since such an event was held on such “sensitive” matters.

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SDP organizes Malay forum to discuss social and economic issues on Saturday 8 Sept

The historic Malay forum that the SDP is organising tomorrow afternoon has created a buzz online. It has energised many in our Malay community who have said that they want to speak up and be part of the national conversation.

Many questions confront our society: Why do Malays lag behind economically? Does the present education system help or hinder Malays moving up the socio-economic ladder? Have PAP policies created a united Singapore or fomented disunity? Full story

National Conversation – Chicken and Duck talk

When the Prime Minister announced that there should be national dialogue to build a consensus, the reaction was mixed.

The moderates and pro-establishment will go along with whatever the government proposes, dialogue or not. The fence-sitters, well dialogue or not they are happy to be boiled like a frog.

The cynical portion of the population will regard with disdain and the rippling suspicion that is flowering over the cyberspace is not a sight that our political leadership would like to see.

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Open letter to PM Lee from former PAP MP Maidin Packer

EITHER SINGAPOREANS PRODUCE MORE KIDS OR WE MUST BRING IN MORE OUTSIDERS TO BECOME CITIZENS need not be the only options available to us. As the Government invite the people to think deeper into this and other issues raised at the PM’s National Day Rally, we should also look into other possibilities.

Many countries, including the middle east, have been employing foreigners for decades now, and yet all or most of them remain foreigners on work passes. In some countries, the foreigners far outnumber the locals. They are there strictly for professional and economic reasons.

As they grow older, these workers (from cleaners to construction workers to executives, engineers, bankers & more), will go back to their respective countries. They are then replaced by newer workers. And life goes on. Almost no foreigners became localised or given citizenships because it carries certain responsibilities, rights & benefits AND THESE ARE RESERVED FOR LOCALS ONLY. 

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Resolve unfairness felt by Singaporeans first before talking about integrating foreigners

Although our government is right in calling upon Singaporeans to be more big-hearted and less narrow-minded in accepting foreigners, this sensible message is not going to go down well with Singaporeans unless the government accepts its fair share of blame for its terrible execution of the immigration policy. My subsequent paragraphs will sound critical to the government but I am not criticizing for the sake of letting off steam. I sincerely feel Singaporeans' support for the government's sensible messages is vital to solve the foreigner problem.

However, the government has to earn back our trust and the admission of their own mistakes is a first step to doing that.

The massive excessive influx of foreigners in a short time has created serious social divides within the Chinese and Indian segments of the population. The Malays feel alienated or even threatened as their numbers become fewer due to the influx. The Chinese segment is now divided between native Chinese Singaporeans and PRC foreigners/new citizens/PRs. The Indian segment is now divided between native Tamil Singaporeans and the non-Tamil non-native Indians. The problem may be worse for the Indians as some fair-skinned Indian foreigners may not have totally shed ancient notions of the Caste system and still carry a sense of superiority over our darker-skinned fellow Tamil Singaporeans

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A muted conversation

I think the national conversation is getting off to a bad start. First, did Mr Heng Swee Keat mis-speak when he said, with utmost irony if unintended, that bloggers and Opposition politicians aren’t included in his committee because it was NOT a partisan exercise? And did fellow minister Tan Chuan Jin really clear the air when he told TOC that Mr Heng meant the opposite, implying that his quote was taken out of context? Seems to me that the list of members of the committee is a fact, and Mr Heng himself should do the clarification in the mainstream media where he was reported saying those strange words.

Second, we’re not just hearing from Mr Heng but the PM as well on how the national conversation is not about culling sacred cows. Seems a climb down from what Mr Heng had said earlier. (See earlier blog post on Cows to the slaughter). It certainly seems “prudent’’ for the G to do so, or it might as well be stationed in an abattoir…The problem is, the box, once opened, can’t be shut simply because someone says so. Especially when Mr Heng’s committee isn’t pre-determining the agenda for the moment. This DOES mean cows will be offered up for sacrifice because that will be nature of the conversation – at least in the beginning.

I take to heart what PM said about lifting stones and putting them back in place if they fit better there. So no stone left unturned – I take it to mean that we can at least TALK about cows and bulls – and there won’t be an attempt to restrict the conversation. After all, if the national conversation is for slaying a couple of cows, I don’t see why the G should say no. This is a political exercise; a fight for the best ideas. If the G cannot persuade the majority to its point of view – and keep the cow – then the cow should be killed. To not do so would be to hold the national conversation in contempt. Or to think that superior ideas or values belong only to the realm of the elected (oops, sorry! Opp MPs not counted) and not the electors.

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Chan Chun Sing: We cannot shield Singaporeans from global competition

Global competition’ is a useful excuse to be blamed for Singapore’s many woes including the influx of foreigners, rampant inflation and stagnant wages and there is nothing the government can do to protect Singaporeans, we are used to be told by PAP leaders, the latest exhortation coming from Acting Minister Chan Chun Sing.

Speaking at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy’s eighth anniversary public lecture on Friday, Mr Chan reminded Singaporeans yet again they are expected to compete with the world’s ‘talents’ on their own: 

“While we cannot shield our people entirely from the intense global competition, we can and will certainly prepare them to stand up to it.” 

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Time to stop depending on foreigners and put the trust back into Singaporeans

The tightening of immigration policies have come too late. Statistics have shown a remarkable and shocking demographic of the population. Do you know just how little pure local born Singaporeans make up the total percentage? Barring PRs who still laud their motherland, we are indeed a declining minority.

I don’t see how they are going to appease the locals’ call against the massive influx of immigration. Singapore has always appealed to the supply side of global economy, which worked well to propel our developing nation back then; we supplied top quality workers, to attract MNCs to invest in us. Singapore has and will always be that, even as a fishing village it served as a port of call for trade to take place. It is a doomed and inevitable destiny.

Just that, in today’s context, we are rapidly turning into the ‘Chinese sweat factories’ in order to boost our attractiveness globally. Take the depressed wages of the majority; high income earners are not the norm for locals. If you think you are high earning, there are multitudes of ‘talented PRs’ earning more than you.

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Australian shocked at comments made by Minister Grace Fu

One of the few only female ministers Grace Fu who holds the one of the key roles in the Prime Minister’s Office was giving her thoughts on the influx of foreigners into the tiny island of Singapore.
She recommended:

“More information can be given on where Permanent Residents come from, or what kind of employment or income status they have.”

Full information at :http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1224155/1/.html

She is walking on thin line on this sensitive issue. How would you feel when you walk into a supermarket and the store owner sticks a bar-code/RFID tag on you for the reason of tracking what you have touch or see within the supermarket.

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Our Singapore Conversation not about slaying sacred cows

From ‘Not out to look for sacred cows to slay’, 9 Sept 2012, article by Goh Chin Lian, Sunday Times

While the committee will take a fresh look at all policies, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat stressed that it will not set out to slaughter sacred cows. “It’s not a culling session,” he quipped yesterday when asked how he would manage expectations that more longstanding policies will come under the knife.

“I don’t think we should start our Singapore conversation on the basis of looking for sacred cows to slay… I don’t think that would be a constructive exercise,” he said.

Earlier in Aug, Senior Minister of State and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli remarked that EVERYTHING” should be reviewed and that ‘NONE of them are sacred cows’. 

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National conversation

Sep 8, 2012 7:15 PM

So who is on the national conversation committee?

The 26-member committee was announced on Saturday. There are a host of Ministers, MPs but also a 19-year-old student and a taxi driver.

Sep 8, 2012 6:46 PM

National conversation to reach out to thousands

Over the next year, the national conversation on Singapore's future will be held with thousands of Singaporeans directly through at least 30 citizen dialogues and a national survey involving 3,000 to 4,000 people.

Sep 7, 2012 6:26 PM

7 good questions from the NTU Ministerial Forum

University students lobbed a wide range of questions at DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a forum on Wednesday night. They ranged from topics like whether the main objective of promoting work-life balance was an increased birth-rate to whether the country should have a more liberalised mainstream 

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Pritam Cannot Take Criticism from Bloggers! Says Singapolitics.

WP Pritam Singh is a great orator during rallies. He can say anything clever or stupid, rhetoric or reason, and people would cheer.

But lately that spell has broken. Broken so much that WP lost confidence in him and Pritam is no more vice-chair of the WP media team in the recent CEC shake-up in that solid party. The first doubt in Pritam's media power was when Pritam was caught bluffing as his parliament speech was copied almost word for word from a blogger-friend without attribution

Or maybe he was really that anonymous blogger Ground Notes, but cannot admit he was that anonymous blogger, so there was no plagiarism really! LOL.

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WP MP and blogger patch up

There is nothing like a face to face meeting over a couple of drinks to make up over a heated argument online. Worker's Party MP Pritam Singh and blogger Andrew Loh met up this afternoon to talk about the online spat they had a few days ago.

The Facebook page for Public House, a website which Mr Loh runs, uploaded on Thursday evening a picture of the two of them having drinks at a hawker centre.

Both are smiling in the picture, and Mr Singh is seen giving a thumbs-up. 

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