Monday, 3 September 2012

Watz Buzzing - 3 Sep 2012

Reasons for anonymity on the Internet

Why are there so many people expressing rational reasonable views anonymously? In many other countries people will proudly put their real names and identities down.

You look around at the people blogging with their real identities, many are retired others run their own business with little dealing with the govt. Suppose you're an intelligent guy working for or running a small company dependent on one of the GLCs (e.g SingTel), will you feel safe being identified a blog full of alternative competing views?

In the current political environment, given the level of fear, the level of dominance, and the position of free is unpredictable what kind of actions people will take if you are found out.

At the end of the day does anonymity really matters?

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Talking to each other at the Istana

But the main worry or concern he has about social media, from what I gathered, was the tone of discourse, and in particular the issue of anonymity. “Andrew, what do you think?” the PM asked me, referring to whether I felt anonymity should be allowed. I replied that it is hard to monitor if anyone was a real person, or to verify their identity even if they provided their names and email addresses.

“These too can be faked,” I said. The PM didn’t take that as an answer and probed, “But do you think it is desirable to not have anonymity?” (I can’t recall the exact words he used but it was along this line.) “I am not sure, to be honest,” I said. I had in mind instances where I had been approached by well meaning people who have genuine views, intelligent views, to share but who would not want to be identified. There have also been cases where information given to me would not see the light of day if the person who gave it to me were required to be identified. Anonymity is not all a bad thing, although I also understand that some have used this for more sinister ends.

“Even if you have a law which requires everyone to put down their real names and email addresses, you will still have those who would act in unbecoming ways,” I said to PM Lee. “Yes, you will still have those,” he agreed. So, I do not think it is a simple matter of requiring people to adopt real identities when posting online.

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PAP MP invited to bloggers' forum on press freedom; why no opposition politicians?, 31 Aug 2012
The issue of press freedom in 21st-century Singapore was the topic at a forum organised by bloggers on 26 August.

Member of Parliament Baey Yam Keng, who is also the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Information, Communication and the Arts, joined a panel of speakers to discuss this issue at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The speakers comprised Associate Professor Cherian George from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Ms Elaine Ee, editor from socio-political site Public House, Mr Richard Wan, editor from alternative news site TR Emeritus, writer-blogger-activist Kirsten Han, and Mr Leon Perera from human rights group Maruah. Full story

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How stupid does the PAP think we are?

Something is stirring within the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore. On 30 August 2012, the Straits Times reported that the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) had been discussing the idea of setting up a new forum to "engage a national, inter-ethnic, issue-oriented agenda".

This happened during one of its conventions in June this year. It set off alarm bells within the PAP Government which resulted in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stepping in and cautioning AMP against the initiative. The organisation promptly dropped the idea.

One day later, the Straits Times reported Mr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Muslim Affairs, announcing that a new "independent" committee would be formed to "increase engagement within the Malay-Muslim community."

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Hear it from a Muslim woman herself, why she keeps herself covered

Before I introduce you to a Muslim woman who tells the world why she covers herself, allow me to yak a little about my discussion on the topic of hijab (and burqa) with Feminists around the world.

I have discussed with Feminists (both local and foreigners) why there is a double standard, on the part of Feminists when it comes to the hijab (headscarf) or the burqa (full body cloak) for Muslim women. The usual Feminist contention is that the hijab and/or burqa is a patriarchal practice that oppresses women. My counter argument is that if you consider the forcing of the hijab or burqa on a woman as oppressive, won't the forcing of the hijab or burqa off her is also oppressive?

Somehow, during the course of discussion, many of these Feminists just can't accept that there are Muslim women who truly are want to have the hijab, and in places like Saudi or Afghanistan, even the full burqa on. At the same time, when the hijab or burqa is forced off, like in France and other European countries, these same Feminists get their knees all wobbly, unable to stand for Women's Rights (to be covered). Suddenly all their vehement cries about forcing the hijab/burqa on, turns into just meek whimpers when that same hijab/burqa is forced off.

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Softening a top-down legacy

A new government tone emerges that differs from the “we-know-best” voice of the Lee Kuan Yew era).

When talking to its citizens these days, Singapore’s top-down leadership is increasingly using a term not often heard since independence.

The phrase “national conversation” is being uttered almost every day by Cabinet ministers to get Singaporeans to take part in formulating policies for the country’s future.

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Auditor General: MOF breached Constitution Article 144 in January 2012

The Auditor General’s Report for the financial year 2011/12. arrived in the President’s in- tray in July of this year and is now publicly available. The objective of the report is stated clearly in the mission statement that precedes it.

“MISSION: To audit and report to the President and Parliament, in accordance with the law, on the proper accounting of public moneys (sic) and use of public resources so as to enhance public accountability.”

It’s a long report almost all of it vital and essential but my attention was drawn in particular to Part 1B which is an audit of Government Ministries, Organs of State and Government Funds. Astonishingly the AGO observes that the MOF breached Article 144 of the Constitution.

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"French chef" Tan Yong Soon to retire from Administrative Service, 1 Sep 2012
Mr Tan Yong Soon, 57, Permanent Secretary (National Climate Change), Prime Minister's Office, will retire from the Administrative Service on 1 October 2012 after 35 years of service in the public sector.

Mr Niam Chiang Meng, Permanent Secretary (National Population and Talent Division), Prime Minister's Office will be appointed Permanent Secretary (National Climate Change) with effect from the same date. This will be concurrent with his NPTD appointment. Link

Related:Bureaucrat's cooking trip sparks outcry - Reuters
The Tan Yong Soon cooking fiasco: what lessons it hold for both the government and blogosphere - TR Emeritus

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Expats in Singapore arm children for Chinese century

Yahoo! News New Zealand, 1 Sep 2012
SINGAPORE (AFP) - As far back as 25 years ago, US investor Jim Rogers already believed China would be the next economic superpower and young people the world over should prepare for the future by learning Mandarin.

"Singapore has the best education in the world, the best healthcare, the best everything. I think that the best gift that I can give two children born in 2003 and 2008 is to know Asia and to speak Mandarin," Rogers told AFP.

Despite the effusive praise from Rogers, not all expatriates are convinced of the Singapore way.

There is also a growing clamour from Singaporean parents to reform the education system towards greater creativity, with less emphasis on rote learning and exam marks.
American-born expatriate Rachel Kraut, 49, moved her four children from public schools to the German school in Singapore after several unpleasant encounters. Full story

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M Ravi seeks court order to "expel" Law Soc Council members

Lawyer M Ravi has taken out an application in the courts to “expel” all council members of the Law Society. Mr Ravi, who filed the application on Friday, said of the society, "I am of the view that the Respondent - which is the governing statutory body of amongst other [sic], all practising advocates and solicitors in Singapore - has pursued various judicial and extra-judicial actions against me with malice, bad faith, recklessness and negligence, in breach of statutory and common law duties owed to me as a practising member of the Bar."

He is also asking the courts to order that "elections be called to replace the expelled said current Council members" within 30 days.

Mr Ravi’s actions follow earlier controversial behaviour by the Law Society on 15 July. Mr Wong Siew Hong, chairman of the Law Society’s Member Care Committee, received a letter from psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones, who had seen and assessed Mr Ravi’s state of mind on 14 July. In his letter, which was addressed to the “Law Society”, Dr Fones said Mr Ravi was “having a manic relapse of his bipolar disorder” and added that Mr Ravi “is currently unfit to practice law and his illness is likely to affect his professional capacity."

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President Tony Tan: I had ‘served’ Singaporeans with ‘all my heart’


Singapore President Tony Tan is enjoying the ‘golden period’ of his life in the past one year ‘serving’ Singaporeans, it seems, judging from a posting on his Facebook this morning.

The well-loved people’s President is marking his one-year anniversary in office by launching the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive and joining the Lions Befrienders to visit vulnerable seniors living in Bendemeer.

In the Facebook posting, Dr Tan said a year ago, he had pledged to serve Singaporeans with all his ability, energy, and heart:
“A year ago, I pledged to serve all Singaporeans with all my ability, with all my energy, and with all my heart. The past twelve months have been the most fulfilling and inspiring of my professional life.”

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Departing PRC ‘FT’s last words for Singapore: You make me complete!

One PRC ‘FT’ has decided to leave Singapore for good after spending his the best years of his youth here.

In a comment posted on his Facebook, he thanked Singapore for giving him the courage and confident to enrich himself and to start life completely afresh:“I love you Singapore, you made me complete!”

In an interview with National Geographic magazine in 2009, Singapore’s Supreme Leader Lee Kuan Yew quipped that it is a ‘good thing’ that Singapore is welcoming so many Chinese immigrants from China as they are ‘harder-driving’ and ‘harder-striving’ than local. He will be bitterly disappointed that one of his favorite foreign ‘pets’ has decided not to take up Singapore citizenship in his ‘paradise’.

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Reliability of Indian government data under scrutiny after sharp GDP revision

Yahoo! Finance India, 31 Aug 2012
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has sharply revised its GDP data to show a much worse economic performance than originally thought in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, putting renewed scrutiny on the reliability of government data.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has revised GDP growth to 3.5 percent from earlier estimates of 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008/09. On the flip side, it also showed the fourth quarter growth estimate for 2009/10 was better than first thought - 11.2 percent rather than 9.4 percent.

Questions over the reliability of Indian data are not new. Economists have previously challenged the accuracy of other indicators such as industrial production and exports. Faulty data makes it potentially trickier for policymakers to take decisions on matters like interest rates. Full story

Temasek ignores downgrades, is optimistic on India story -
Singapore's GIC eye scale-up in India exposure - The Hindu Business Line
GDP growth languishes near 3-yr low in first quarter - Hindustan Times

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Tan Chuan-Jin worries about foreign students having difficulties finding jobs in Singapore after graduation - report

The Temasek Times, 30 Aug 2012
While Singaporean graduates have to struggle to find jobs after graduation, foreign students studying in Singapore on scholarship appear to have an easier time as they need to serve a three year bond in Singapore, and yet they too are complaining about the tight labor market.

During a forum held at the Singapore Management University on Tuesday night, Acting Manpower Minister was peppered with complaints from foreign students about difficulties in finding jobs after graduation - they need to serve three-year bonds here and cannot work part-time, yet some companies are only hiring Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. 

In response, Mr Tan said he sympathized with the problems faced by foreign students and promised to look further into the matter. Link

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Japanese AV company filmed porn in Singapore resembling a tourism promotion video

The 2 hour and 40 minute long film depicted a Japanese couple having their holiday in Singapore. The couple was shown having hot sex in various positions in their hotel room with Singapore’s CBD skyline in the background.

After having sex, the couple went to Bugis, Shenton Way and Chinatown and was filmed eating a few famous Singaporean delicacies such as Laksa and prawn noodles.

The film was downloaded by Singapore netizens who expressed concerns that it may be mistaken as a tourism promotional film.

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China and Russia : The Growing Alliance that won't be intimidated by US Global Aspirations.

The U.S. government lurches from one war to another and nothing really changes. After a succession of totally misguided wars with relatively small nations, none of which it has "won", the U.S. has now decided that China, a giant among all other nations, is to be its next target. The question is; Have those currently in charge of this government taken leave of their senses since China is the one nation on the face of the earth that, because of its economic and military power, will not be intimidated by the U.S? 

The U.S. has made it known that it is proceeding with a new strategy by which to establish control of the Asia-Pacific region, including the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. This is an area over which China has maintained a significant influence for many years; we might call it China's backyard.

To think that China will allow the U.S. to move into this region and take control is delusional thinking. China will not accept such an encroachment into its territory without finding some way to oppose it and that could result in a very dangerous military confrontation.

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