Singapore Meeting: Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre, Saturday 31 March

Singapore Government Promotes Obscentity

From Yawning Bread of course.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shed figurative tears last week, saying that he and his ministers are underpaid: the floor rate for a minister should be S$2.2 million, but currently they’re only getting S$1.2 million. Adjustments will be made soon, he said.

Singaporeans hurled abuse at the whole idea.

Lee justified his notion of appropriate salaries with reference to the benchmarking model established in 1994. But however they are calculated, to the public, the key issue is that the outcome is one of obscene levels of remuneration. There must be something wrong with the model. No use referencing it when it produces such results.

What is wrong with the model? Let me try to pick it apart.

But first, I had to force myself — it made me sick to my stomach — to read the 4 broadsheet pages of the Straits Times, 23 March 2007, devoted to apologia for the salary increase.

Having (in)digested that, this critique will comes in 4 parts, discussing various points that came to my mind.

The conflation of civil service and ministerial salaries
The MR4 benchmark
The SR9 benchmark
Increase in benchmarks since 2000

The conflation of civil service and ministerial service

It strikes me as unproven why Singapore has to have a salary scale where political officers are lumped together with career civil service officers. In most other countries, they are on quite separate scales, enacted separately.

to continue reading Yawning Breads detailed breakdown of the recent pay increase click here.

You can also go to numerous other blog sites, forums, chatrooms and continue to discuss the pros and cons of the recent pay raise.

Or you could get up out of you defeatest comfort zone and actually do something.

Go down to Orchard Road at Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre this Saturday, 31 March, starting from 12 noon to about 3 pm

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AUSTRALIA: Controversial visit by Singapore’s founding father

Last Updated 29/03/2007 2:44:38 PM

Singapore’s founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew, says Australia has outgrown the dark future he once predicted, that Australians would be the “poor white trash of Asia”. Mr Lee was speaking in Canberra after receiving an honorary law doctorate from the Australian National University.

Listen | Audio Help

Presenter/Interviewer: Graeme Dobell
Speakers: Singapore’s founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew

DOBELL: Lee Kuan Yew is 83, but he still knows how to throw a political punch, at protesters or questioning journalists.

LEE: I’m quite accustomed to a hostile group of questions, it’s not going to change me and I’m not going to change you. We are going to prosper, you are going to prosper. But if I allow you to run my country it will spiral downwards and will hit rockbottom.

DOBELL: The protests from university staff and students were about Singapore’s human rights record and whether Lee Kuan Yew should be honoured. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has acknowledged some concerns about Singapore’s record, but emphasised Mr Lee’s role as what he calls a great regional leader. The citation for the honorary doctor of laws describes Mr Lee as the father of modern Singapore, a statesman of unique standing in the Asia Pacific and an honest friend of Australia.

After the receiving the award, Mr Lee gave was asked about the protesters, outside the hall, who described him as a dictator. He replies that Singapore meets every governance standard as set by the World Economic Forum in its global competitiveness report.

LEE: Run through every single item, rule of law, transparency, integrity of the system, efficiency of the civil service, confidence of the courts both domestically and internationally.

JOURNO: Would you have allowed a similar protest when you were prime minister to occur in your country?

LEE: Well you know I have protests of about 100 to 100-thousand people, communist-led, and in the 1950s and 60s if I didn’t have the kind of robust energy to counter them in a huge heckling exchange I wouldn’t be here today.

DOBELL: The university citation describes Singapore’s founding leader as a long standing and candid friend of Australia, who hasn’t hesitated to tell Australia when it’s in error. Most famously, nearly 40 years ago, Lee Kuan Yew warned Australians that they could become the poor white trash of Asia. Today, he says, Australia is different.

LEE: No you have changed, I mean the Australia I came to in 1965 was a very different Australia, you were a white Australia, there was the Asian exclusion act, and in 1960s the US changed their rules and in 1967 or 68 you changed yours, and Canadians followed suit and we lost a lot of talent. And today we’ve not only lost Malaysians and others who used to come to Singapore, in your last census there were 50-thousand Singapore born persons now in Australia, and more will come over time because they find when they can’t make the top jobs and it’s easier living here.

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Let’s not get mad, let’s get busy

From the Singapore Democrats site
29 Mar 07

Dear fellow Singaporeans,

The Internet has been seething with anger over the latest round of salary increase for our ministers. I don’t need to go into the figures for you already know them.

Not only have the ministers lavished on themselves quite obscene salaries but they have also, through their remarks, shown complete and utter contempt for the feelings of Singaporeans. Which prime minister would say that he and his colleagues should not be expected to make ‘unnecessary financial sacrifices’ when even a minister is paid more than the president of the United States?

What’s more, this comes on the heel of a GST hike amidst data showing that lower-income earners continue to see their wages shrink. And then the Prime Minister tells us that it does this in order to help the poor.

Enough of blogging. Enough of posting your frustrations online. Enough of complains. We’ve been doing that ever since the scheme of pegging ministerial pay to the most lucrative professional salaries started in the mid-1990s.

We need to stop talking and start exercising our rights – no, our solemn duty – to speak up for our nation. We need to let the PAP know that it cannot treat us like doormats.

I know many of you are still fearful. But you must act in spite of your fears. When you do, you’ll discover the power of your courage you never thought you had. When enough of us overcome that fear, the PAP will listen.

Let not our fear freeze us into inaction. And let it not be remarked that, like Nero, we fiddled while Rome burned.

What can you do? For starters, go down to Orchard Road at Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre this Saturday, 31 March, starting from 12 noon to about 3 pm where my colleagues and I will be selling the book The Power of Courage. Come by to say hello and leave us your contact. If you have children, bring them along. My kids will be there.

We will need your assistance in the planning of a series of activities leading up to May Day in a month’s time. Here’s your opportunity to do something constructive and to really stand up for Singapore.

Remember my fellow Singaporeans, we are citizens, not slaves! Citizens have rights and we need to exercise those rights. I leave you with this thought: Aeroplanes are safer on the ground, but that was not what aeroplanes are made for.

See you on Saturday!

Chee Soon Juan

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Talkr: Instant Voice Conferencing

Refers to singabloodypore.rsfblog.org site

Thought I should say a few words about the latest widgets added to the left side bar. The top image will take you to an rss feed that enables you to listen to Singabloodypore on your ipod or simply listen online to the posts via itunes or yahoo podcast facilities. You may also have noticed that each post on this page now contains a ‘Listen to this article’ tag. By clicking on it a new window should open and an mp3 file will launch. The voice is not my own. So you can now listen to the posts and continue to surf this site or others. Give it a go by clicking on ‘Listen to this article’ just under the top of this post.

The intelligent among you may also have noticed the large widget containing a large green arrow. Click on this to start the Instant Voice Conferencing facility. If it is working properly you should here a voice informing you that you are listening to blah blah. The widget is a new development from Talkr and LiveOnTheNet. This widget is in the very early days of development and so there may still be a few bugs but I suggest, if you are a blogger that you get your own widget soon. They intend to make money and share it with those who host it on their sites.

If you are not currently seeing the large green arrow in the left hand corner you need to upgrade your Java,
, I ‘ll say it again ‘update your Java’… this is a painless process that you can find at:

http://www.java.com/en/

To talk you will need a headphone set with microphone.

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Singaporean rights activist criticises ANU over Honour

Wednesday, 28 March 2007. 18:33 (AEDT)

Pictures from New Mandala
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A leading Singaporean civil rights activist says the Australian National University’s decision to honour former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is baffling.

Dr Chee Soon Juan is the secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party.

He has been imprisoned several times for speaking in public without a license and alleges mistreatment while in custody, including food poisoning.

Dr Chee has criticised Mr Lee’s civil rights record many times and is surprised by today’s awards ceremony.

“It’s just very baffling, given the track record of Singapore,” he said.

Dr Chee says the legal honour for Mr Lee is inappropriate, given the erosion of civil rights under his government.
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“Lee has used laws very cleverly to make sure that democratic activities, political activities are kept to a bare minimum,” he said.

He says the award for the visitor is sending the wrong message.

“I think it’s a big slap, I think Australia is sending this signal that, look come here, we want your dollars, we really don’t care how society functions for you,” he said.

Mr Lee has defended himself, saying that Singapore topped reports by the World Economic Forum.

“Rule of law, transparency, integrity of the system, efficiency of the civil service, confidence of the courts both domestically and internationally, it’s at the top,” he said.
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But Dr Chee disagrees.

“There is no rule of law in Singapore,” he said.

“The Government of Singapore use laws to run the country the way that it sees fit.”

Mr Lee is currently the Singaporean Minister Mentor to his son’s Government.

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Son of TIA: Pentagon Surveillance System Is Reborn in Singapore

From Wired but first spotted on Bruce Schneier’s blog.
Sharon Weinberger 03.22.07 | 12:00 PM

Nearly four years after Congress pulled the plug on what critics assailed as an Orwellian scheme to spy on private citizens, Singapore is set to launch an even more ambitious incarnation of the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness program — an effort to collect and mine data across all government agencies in the hopes of pinpointing threats to national security.

The Singapore prototype of the system — dubbed Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning, or RAHS — was rolled out early this week at a conference in the Southeast Asia city-state. Retired U.S. Adm. John Poindexter, the architect of the original Pentagon program, traveled to Singapore to deliver a speech at the unveiling, while backers have already begun quietly touting the system to U.S. intelligence officials.

In 2003, plans for Total Information Awareness, or TIA, sparked outrage among privacy advocates. TIA was one of several programs run out of the Information Awareness Office at Darpa, the Pentagon’s advanced research projects agency. Fueling public indignation was news that Poindexter, President Reagan’s national security adviser and a key figure in the ’80s Iran-Contra scandal, was in charge of the office.

Facing an avalanche of bad publicity, Poindexter resigned in August 2003. Congress pulled funding for the program, and TIA and related programs were either terminated or moved to other agencies. The Information Awareness Office was closed.

But Poindexter’s vision never lost currency among advocates of data mining, particularly in Singapore, a country that mixes elements of democratic governance with authoritarian rule.

Related Links:
Beware of Total Information Awareness

John Poindexter, head of the Pentagon’s Office of Information Awareness, is developing a vast surveillance database to track terror suspects. The Total Information Awareness (TIA) system will, according to Poindexter, “break down the stovepipes” that separate commercial and government databases, allowing OIA access to citizens’ credit card purchases, travel itineraries, telephone calling records, email, medical histories and financial information. It would give government the power to generate a comprehensive data profile on any U.S. citizen.

A Spy Machine of DARPA’s Dreams

It’s a memory aid! A robotic assistant! An epidemic detector! An all-seeing, ultra-intrusive spying program!

The Pentagon is about to embark on a stunningly ambitious research project designed to gather every conceivable bit of information about a person’s life, index all the information and make it searchable.

What national security experts and civil libertarians want to know is, why would the Defense Department want to do such a thing?

The embryonic LifeLog program would dump everything an individual does into a giant database: every e-mail sent or received, every picture taken, every Web page surfed, every phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read.

Total Information Awareness Lives On Inside the National Security Agency

“Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’

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Singapore’s Lee to face student protest

The Age
March 27, 2007 – 7:29PM

Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew will face protests when he is awarded an honorary doctorate at Canberra’s Australian National University on Wednesday.

Mr Lee’s award has angered some ANU academics who accuse him of running an authoritarian regime.

He will be awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Laws at a ceremony on Wednesday morning.

ANU’s branch of Young Labor Left is organising a protest against the award, saying it will draw members of all ANU colleges and a large number of staff, students and organisations on campus.

The rally is due to begin at University House at 10.30am (AEST).

A motion condemning the decision will be debated at the ANU Student’s Association’s ordinary general meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Monday acknowledged there had been international concern about human rights issues in Singapore but praised Mr Lee as a “great regional leader”.

“The fact is in the overall sense, Singapore has been a spectacular success,” Mr Downer said.

Mr Lee will receive the doctorate from ANU Chancellor Allan Hawke at 11am (AEST).

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