SINGAPORE FORUM ON POLITICS 2006

SINGAPORE FORUM ON POLITICS 2006: THE (IN)SIGNIFICANCE OF POLITICAL ELECTIONS IN SINGAPORE

Dr Gillian Koh
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

James Gomez
Assistant Secretary-General (2nd), Workers’ Party

Viswa Sadasivan
Chairman, The Right Angle Group

Chandra Mohan
Advocate & Solicitor, Tan Rajah & Cheah and former Nominated Member of Parliament

Dr Geh Min
Nominated Member of Parliament and President of Nature Society Singapore)

Prof Kirpal Singh
Associate Professor of Literature & Creative Thinking, Singapore Management University
Saturday, 25 February 2006 08:30:00 AM

Lecture Theatre 8, NUS

Go here and click on the gif link at the bottom.

The Singapore Pornosphere?

What the hell is going on…

Last 20 Searchengine Queries Unique Visitors

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Will everyone just get back to work please. Oh and the lady in question is rumoured to be under 18 years of age and in some countries downloading child pornography will result in a visit from the authorities and a cosy stay in a secure prison.

Arrested Singaporeans had triad connections

This is probably the first time I have ever heard of Singaporeans having triad connections since the time I moved to Singapore in 1999. Just how deep are these connections and what is the size of the black economy in Singapore, surely a few economists out there could take a well educated guess.
FADHAL ILAHI ABD GHANI
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28

The two Singaporeans arrested on Saturday in a pre-dawn police raid were not hired killers but triad society members.

One of them, identified as Tan Chor Jin, is believed to be the leader of triad society, ‘Ang Soon Tong’ or ‘21 Gang’ in the republic.

The 39-year-old bespectacled Tan who goes by the alias Tony Kia, is also nicknamed ‘One- Eyed Dragon’ because he is blind in the right eye.

In underworld circles, he was known to be a bookie collecting bets for illegal horse racing and football at a Balestier coffee shop in Singapore.

Despite his criminal connections, Tan’s favourite pastime was playing Chinese chess.

The Malay Mail learnt that while serving five years at Changi Prison in the 1980s for gang-related activities, including rioting and fighting, he spent most of his time studying.

“During his time in prison, Tan kept mostly to himself and chose to study, instead of carrying out chores.

“It is uncertain whether he eventually sat for any examination,” a source told The Malay Mail, adding that there was speculation that Tan was blinded in the right eye following a fight.

Tan is allegedly linked to the murder of Lim Hock Soon, the owner of the Las Vegas Nightclub in Haveclock Road, Singapore on Feb 15, after what is believed to have been a fallout between the business partners.

It is learnt that Tan had accused Lim of cheating him of his share of bets placed in illegal horse-racing and football, and in the week that followed, the duo became bitter enemies.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mustafa Abdullah said three police officers from the republic were in the city to assist in investigations.

“We are trying to determine whether the two suspects were involved in crimes in Malaysia.

“After our investigations, we will refer the matter to the Attorney-General for action.”

The source said that in the past one year in Singapore, Tan moved from one place to another to avoid police detection, having resided in Punggol, Clementi, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio and Hougang.

His last-known address was a three-room flat in Hougang Avenue 3.

Tan is married to a Malaysian who does not live with him.

Ex-political detainees break silence at forum

Said’s experience as victim reaffirms however that the indomitable human spirit can rise above tragedy to reclaim a fundamental, human dignity and integrity

Tan Jing Hwee
Introduction to Dark Clouds At Dawn
A Political Memoir.

Though Said Zahari, a famous ex political detainee for 17 years, and supposedly one of the panelist was absent from the forum due to his health condition, the event attracted more than 100 participants, amongst them journalists, students, young and old Singaporeans.

The facilitator of the forum, Tan Chong Kee, mapped out the structure of the talk by explaining its aims, which includes providing a brief history of the tumultuous 50s and 60s and revealing the personal struggles and reflections of the detainees and their immediate families.

The first speaker, Tan Jing Hwee related his story by describing vividly the night of the arrest. He had just arrived home from a rally with the other election candidates when they noticed the commotion from the police vehicles outside their home. They would be taken away in this second wave of arrest on October 1963. Prior to that, Operation Cold Store in February 1963, had already crippled the opposition significantly by removing a proportion of the left wing leadership.

He went on to describe the fundamental differences between a criminal offender and a political detainee. The latter has no recourse to a fair trial, date of release and underwent a period of solitary confinement followed by “normal” detention. He described the small cell in which he underwent his confinement – a mattress with a light bulb in the centre of the room and the horrid living conditions.

Michael Fernandez who was born in India and arrested in 1964 was an activist heavily involved with the Naval Base Labour Union. He believed the government’s objective of the arrests were to “isolate active life and break us down mentally and physically, through long periods of solitary confinement, depriving us of reading materials, food and communications with the outside world, depriving us of our legal counsel.”

He also described the hunger strike in the Mooncrescent Centre in 1970s in which food supplies were not only reduced, but detainees were also forced into manual labour. Though about 200 detainees went on strike for about 135 days, they were force fed with either milk or thin porridge.

Playwright Robert Yeo read an excerpt of Changi, the last of a trilogy, that was loosely based on Fernandez’ detention. He was inspired to write his political plays stemming from a desire to depict the lives of the political detainees. He talked about the censorship hurdles he faced while submitting his plays for production.

When asked by the audience if the detainees have undergone “healing”, Fernandez replied that political healing has yet to take place as the politicians who have inflicted these wounds have yet to be accounted for.

Jing Hwee opined that he had no personal grudges but that there is a need to “demarginalize” the generation that has been politically detained; and of whom could have contributed to the progress of democracy in the country. He believed that Singapore history has to accommodate the complex social and political factors of the 50s and 60s rather than the current version which is written solely from the views of the “victors”.

Read an interview of Salamah bte Abdul Wahab, wife of political detainee Said Zahari, on how she struggled to raise her family, in the absence of her husband and father of her four children, for 17 years.

Democrats chase ghosts in S’pore

The Nation, Thailand from Singapore WindowFebruary 14, 2006
Thailand

THE paper company set up by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 1999, Ample Rich Investments Ltd, has not only been involved in questionable stock transactions, its address in Singapore is also a source of mystery.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and fellow MP Sirichoke Sopha flew to Singapore over the weekend to visit the address of Ample Rich. They suspected that there could be two firms named Ample Rich, one incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven, and another described in Thai documents as having an “English” identity.

However, the opposition MPs could find no sign of either Ample Rich at their declared Singapore addresses.

At a news conference yesterday, Sirichoke displayed pictures of the building supposed to house Ample Rich at 185A Goldhill Centre at 51 Thomson Road in Singapore.

The address is occupied by a firm called Kimberly Global and its staff knew nothing about Ample Rich, he said.

“The Commerce Ministry must investigate why Ample Rich has failed to use a real address,” the Democrat executive committee member said.

“Now it is clear that 185A Goldhill Centre is not the address of Ample Rich. Let me ask the prime minister: What have you been doing? Does this company really exist? Or it is just an address submitted to the Commerce Ministry?

“This is something the Commerce Ministry must investigate because Ample Rich might not exist in Singapore. Is this another attempt to conceal the stocks [of Shin Corp]?”

On January 23, Karnjanapha Honghern, a secretary of the premier’s wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, submitted a 246-2 form to the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of Ample Rich informing the watchdog of the company’s intention to sell 329.2 million shares (about 10 per cent) of Shin Corp.

She gave Ample Rich’s address as 185A Goldhill Centre, 51 Thomson Road, Singapore 307629. (The Nation’s correspondent in Singapore also failed to find any sign of Ample Rich at this address.)

At the same time Karnjanapha was acting on behalf of Ample Rich she notified authorities that two of the premier’s children would acquire 329.2 million shares of Shin Corp at Bt1 apiece. On that same day, Thaksin’s son Panthongtae and daughter Pinthongta sold the Shin shares for Bt49.25 apiece to Temasek Holdings as part of the Singaporean firm’s Bt73-billion takeover of the conglomerate.

The transactions shocked Thailand and sparked an investigation of Ample Rich by the opposition Democrats.

Ample Rich, owned by Panthongtae and Pinthongta, held 10 per cent of the shares of Shin Corp on the foreign board of the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The Shinawatra and Damapong families held a combined 39 per cent of Shin’s shares on the main board. Together, they held about 1.4 billion shares, or almost 50 per cent of Shin Corp before the sell-off.

Korbsak Sabhavasu, a former Democrat MP, has found evidence that suggests there were two firms named Ample Rich, one incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and another described as having an “English” identity in Thai documents.

He displays a document on his website, www.korbsak.com, showing that as of April 30, 2001, the Ample Rich incorporated in the British Virgin Islands held 22.92 million shares of Shin Corp (before a share split). Its address is listed as 57 Ubi Avenue 1 #07-03, Singapore 408936.

The Ample Rich referred to as “English” in a Thai document held 10 million Shin shares (before the share split) and was located at 185A Goldhill Centre, 51 Thomson Road, Singapore 307629.

The firm incorporated in the British Virgin Islands reduced its stake by 10 million shares, or 100 million after the share split. Ample Rich (“English”) traded the Shin stock for a profit then disappeared without a trace.

On April 23 last year, the firm incorporated in the British Virgin Islands reported that it held 229.2 million Shin shares, Korbsak said.

But as of August 26, 2005, UBS AG, Singapore Branch held 329.2 million Shin shares in an account for Ample Rich.

The amount is equal to what Thaksin moved from the main board to the foreign board in 1999.

Korbsak asked whether Ample Rich had been involved in insider trading because it bought 100 million Shin shares to rebuild its portfolio to the original 329.2 million shares about five months before the Temasek deal.

However, Suvarn Valaisathien, the lawyer representing the Shinawatra family, had insisted there was only one Ample Rich, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and that this company never traded its Shin stocks.

Thaksin, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, also denied he had set up twin Ample Riches. There is only one and it was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, he insisted.

He transferred ownership of Ample Rich to Panthongtae in 2000 and his son has relied on professional fund managers to look after the company since them, Thaksin said.

Sirichoke said he also visited the second address given for Ample Rich. But no one in the neighbourhood of 57 Ubi Avenue 1 had heard of the firm, but because it was a holiday he could not verify whether or not an Ample Rich was located there.

“If I have time I’ll go to Singapore again to conduct another investigation,” he said.

Abhisit had been invited to Singapore to speak to the media there about the city-state’s image in Thailand following Temasek’s takeover of Shin Corp.

He also met Lee Hsien Yang, CEO of Singapore Telecommunications, which holds a 20-per-cent stake in Shin subsidiary Advanced Info Service

.

The shift intensifies

Population

Only 45,000 more Singaporean voters in last 5 years, lowest rise in modern history, thanks to globalisation. By Seah Chiang Nee.
Feb 26, 2006

The newly released registration of voters, in advance of the coming general election, has revealed the significant extent of Singapore’s demographic shift.

It shows the number of new registered voters in the past five years has increased by a paltry 45,000 – or just 9,000 a year – despite a rising population.

The new voters are people who had reached 21 years old as well as foreigners who got citizenship during the period.

This is surprisingly low considering Singapore’s birthrate two decades ago when this cohort of voters was born was around 45,000 to 50,000 a year.

By extension – all else being equal – the increase in new voters should have been around 220,000 (subtracting deaths) – not just 45,000 – over the past five years, so where are the missing Singaporeans?

At the peak, the number of new voters rose from 1.192 million in the 1976 election to 1.424 million in 1980, a four-year increase of 231,900.

This was a rise of 58,000 a year – six times more than at present.

Since then, the statistics had been mixed, some years better than others, but generally the trend had been downward.

The current rise of 9,000 new voters a year is about the lowest in modern history.

Since 1998, the number of new voters had been growing by less than 10,000 a year, a pale comparison of the past pre-global years.

The table (official statistics) shows the general decline between elections since 1968, when independent Singapore held its first election.

This figure is not new but it merely reflects a trend that dates back about 10 years, especially since Asia’s financial crisis in 1997.

It also means the growth in new voters has been dropping even as the population is rising.

The reasons? Broadly speaking, it is due to more Singaporeans migrating or moving overseas to work, study or do business, some bringing along their families.

With the exception of some 800 people, they are non-voters.

(Voting is compulsory, and anyone who doesn’t do so has to re-register by proving they were out of the country. The lower figure could also include some people who have failed to re-register.)

At the same time, some 30,000 foreigners are taking up PR – permanent residency – a year, inflating the population but who are not eligible to vote.

The real reason, however, lies in economic globalisation and China’s opening up. They eliminate jobs in some countries, while creating new opportunities in others.

This has resulted in a great trans-national movement of business and talent worldwide as skilled workers move freely in search of opportunities.

It has affected Singapore more because of its small size.

The exact number of Singaporeans who are living abroad is not known, but various official sources have put it at between 100,000 and 150,000.

A head count is hard to do. The future intention of many overseas Singaporeans remains uncertain.

An increasing number of better-educated citizens take up PR, but not citizenship, in their host countries. This indicates they still keep one foot at home for a possible return.

Those who emigrated in the past decade generally found Singapore too small or restrictive and have opted for a more relaxed lifestyle in larger countries like Australia, the United States, Canada and Britain.

Some may decide to settle down in their new homes, while others will eventually return when opportunities improve.

Numbering thousands every year, the exodus has long caused heartache to Singaporean leaders who have worked for decades building up the republic from a Third to a First World state.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew once shed tears over the exodus of professionals, and Goh Chok Tong, the Senior Minister, called the emigrants “quitters”.

The current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also emotionally recalled the tough qualities of older Singaporeans, who stood in the heavy rains to celebrate National Day in 1968.

Since then, however, the leadership has accepted the inevitable.

As more tertiary-trained youths leave to work abroad, it encourages them to explore opportunities overseas but maintain their links with home.

Singapore is likened to a capital without a country, so the current strategy is to regard the world as its hinterland.

It has been investing in strategic businesses throughout the region, requiring more citizens to work overseas.

As a result, the country is undergoing vast demographic changes, as shown by the declining number of new voters.

Its own birth rates are in sharp decline. Last year only 37,600 babies were born, one of the world’s lowest. The future lies in inward immigration.

This has been stepped up drastically in the past decade, steadily pushing up the population. In fact, the influx of foreign PRs has outweighed the outflow of citizens by several times.

They are believed to be more than the number of babies born, which would lead to a long-term dilution of the local content of the population.

The population rose from 4.24 million in 2004 to 4.35 million last year, an increase of about 111,000, some 80% of which were said to be foreign immigrants.

Only some 30% of PRs eventually take up citizenship.

The blueprint is for a population of six to seven million by 2020. Many locals are angry about losing jobs to foreigners but officials say the end result will be a more vibrant global city.

(This article was published in The Sunday Star on Feb 26, 2006)

Integrated Queeresorts

This is a duplicate article of the one posted in blog.sayoni.com


What would happen if our beloved government one day decided to legalise gay marriage? Pleinelune, the resident satirist, takes a hike through her imaginatio
n.

In 20 years, we would have exhausted every hub possibility we can think of: life science lah, tourism lah, arts lah… we are losing our edge! There is nothing we are “superior” to other countries in! Our economy is in grave danger!

Then, someone would suggest that we legalise gay marriage. We can be the new gay Hub in Asia! Which would bring in lots of money in tourism, as clearly, gay people are rich brats rolling around in money, just waiting to blow it on their wedding.

Which would of course, cause a huge hue and cry. There would be a heated parliamentary debate about this. The liberals would keep stressing how much money we would gain, how many jobs it would create… and the conservatives would respond with how gay marriages are going to destabilise society and bring in “undesirable” elements. It would cause an erosion of morals!

Then the debate embroils the whole country. People are discussing it everywhere: online discussion boards, schools, at the water-coolers… it is a hot topic! Stickers would be created which go “Gay? No!”. The country is essentially divided on the issue.

Then, just at the convenient time, a scandal would erupt, concerning someone on the death row, diverting everyone’s attention, during which, the final proposals for legalising gay marriage would be submitted to the parliament. After taking a not-so-random poll, the government would declare that majority of the country is okay with it, and having considered the benefits, it was going to go ahead and build not one, but TWO Registries of Marriage exclusively for gay people, complete with saunas, pubs and clubs. They would not be called gay marriage bureaus, but Integrated Queeresorts.

Over the next few months, several articles would appear in the newspaper about how much benefit the Integrated Queeresorts (IQ) would be to the economy. Then the government would announce several “preventive measures” to stop ordinary citizens from falling prey to the evils of gay marriage. For example, queer citizens would have to pay $100 extra for the services provided at the IQ. Also, people would be advised to report their relatives to the IQ, if they suspect that they are addicted to homosexuality, so that the IQ can refuse them entry. “Inspiring” articles would appear in the newspaper about people who recovered from their addiction to homosexuality. The IQ is for rich ang mohs: ordinary citizens better get married to a person of the opposite sex.

And don’t forget, make exactly 2.1 babies.