Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Change of Address

Those who have followed my blog would know that I had spent a month from July-Aug'06 experimenting over at Wordpress.com before returning to Blogger. I was still fiddling with my Wordpress blog while I was blogging over here. I guess I couldn't get it off my system. I've decided to go back to my Wordpress blog to give it another go. ;-)

Please point your links & feeds to this URL: http://pseudonymity.wordpress.com/

At present I've not updated my Wordpress blog with new posts but I will be doing so very soon. I'm just doing some cleaning-up & updating over there.

I would like to thank the people who have "switched" back & forth with me for their understanding & patience. Sorry for any inconvenience caused okay people!! And welcome to future readers who stumble upon or get referred to my blog. :-)

25 Nov@7.52pm update: Heads-up folks!! I've started blogging over at my wordpress blog. I've started over there with a bit of sex in the city and a video message by Chee Soon Juan from prison. ;-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Light a candle for innocent victims of online child pornography

There's a 4yr old girl in my block whom I see almost everyday. She plays in the corridor. She's chubby, cute and very friendly. Whenever she sees me she'll give a smile that can warm any heart.

One day I saw her sitting on the steps looking dejected. I sat next to her and asked why she looked so unhappy. And she told me, Blossom had left the Powerpuff Girls. She was obviously distressed. So I told her to watch the next episode 'cos I believed Blossom will get back with Bubbles & Buttercup. She felt a bit better after that.

But I was also very worried and concerned for her 'cos whenever I see her she's playing alone outside her house. Out of sight from her mom. I found that very disturbing as it only takes a blink of an eye for a kid to disappear either on his/her own or taken by somebody else. So whenever I see her I tell her to be very careful and not stray far from her house.

I thought about this incident when I came across this campaign for innocent victims of online child pornography. Click the banner below.........................

Watch CNN report on LEEs vs FEER

I didn't catch this CNN report recently so my thanx to t3htarik who posted this on YouTube. Its about the defamation lawsuit brought against the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) by Singapore's first & current Prime Ministers, father & son, Lee Kuan Yew & Lee Hsien Loong. Refer to FEER Saga in the sidebar on your right about this case. For now here's the CNN report.........

Thursday, November 16, 2006

S'pore ranks 105th in the world in terms of income equality

Singapore's tax proposals add to worries over its great divide
By John Burton in Singapore, Financial Times
Published: November 15 2006

Plans by Singapore to raise its sales tax while lowering corporate taxes have added fuel to a debate over an income gap that is becoming the city-state's biggest economic and political problem.

Although Singapore is Asia's richest country after Japan on a per capita basis, it ranks 105th in the world in terms of income equality, based on United Nations data.

The income disparity poses a political threat to the long-ruling government of the People's Action party, which lost votes in the last election in May over the issue.

Singapore has long resisted introducing a full-scale social welfare system, saying it would sap workers of initiative. "But it has got to the stage where they realise that they need to build a secure social welfare net. That's a breakthrough," said Manu Bhaskaran of the Centennial Group, an economic consultancy.

Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister, this week said Singapore would increase its sales tax from 5 per cent to7 per cent to help finance more government spending for the poor while suggesting corporate tax rates would be cut to enhance the country's competitiveness in attracting foreign investment.

The proposals have not gone down well with the public, judging by postings on the internet, the main forum of local debate given Singapore's state-controlled media. A frequent complaint is that an increased sales tax would hit low-income groups the hardest.

"A consumption tax is regressive," said Song Seng Wun, regional economist with CIMB-GK Research in Singapore. "Inflation is higher for the bottom 20 per cent of the population, at 2.2 per cent against the Singapore average of 0.5 per cent."

But Mr Bhaskaran believes that the government might try to tailor social welfare spending to minimise the impact of the tax on the poor. "It depends on what offsets the government offers," he said.

Mr Lee said the government would "tilt the playing field in favour of low-income groups" by offering education and housing grants, and wage subsidies.

The government blames the growing income disparity on the effects of globalisation affecting its open economy. The income gap is now at its widest since independence in 1965, with a noticeable deterioration since the late 1980s. There are worries the gap could widen further due to an ageing population and Singapore's low birth rate.

Pay for low-skilled workers has fallen. Singapore does not have a minimum wage or comprehensive unemployment insurance and a large influx of temporary foreign workers has put downward pressure on wages. The government says its stance is necessary to keep Singapore competitive against low-cost countries in the region.

Most welfare costs are taken care of by a mandatory savings scheme that pays for mortgages and healthcare as well as pensions. But workers who contributed to the system when wages were low are finding it difficult to survive in retirement as living costs have risen sharply.

Mr Lee said Singapore could not afford to adopt a Scandinavian-style welfare system because it would drive up costs and "no investments will come".

Instead, Singapore is expected to adhere to its current model of combining targeted government welfare support with efforts by private charities to provide additional aid to the needy.

The government believes continued economic growth will eventually benefit low-income groups. "I don't see the income gap widening forever," said Mr Lee.

But some economists ask whether a higher sales tax may harm efforts to attract more tourists, since prices tend to be higher already than neighbouring Malaysia or Thailand.

Opposition groups say Singapore can afford to spend more on its poor since the government's financial reserves are among the largest in the world when measured against gross domestic product.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Each day is a struggle

I've not been blogging much lately as much as I would like to. Not that there isn't anything to blog about. Man that would be the day!!! :-)

But I still keep up with the news and goings-on from several sources. Be it the Internet especially local blogs, et.al. and as usual I "cautiously" read and watch the local news. I say "cautiously" 'cos the local news media being what it is, in bed with the ruling party, and the bias stinks like shit especially its coverage of domestic politics, etc, etc.

I've mentioned before I'm an average joe....wait...make that a below average Singaporean trying to survive each day as best I can. I don't go out much. Heck, I haven't stepped into a cinema in ages!! Except for those obscenely highly paid ruling party ministers; the rich "elite" and those who generally have money to burn, most Singaporeans will agree that stepping out of the house can pretty quickly burn a hole in your pocket!! Unless of course you're just going to the park or beach or even downstairs your neighbourhood for a walk or something. Come to think of it, even then you still spend some money!! :( :)

With each day a struggle to get by, I'm just too exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Doesn't mean I'm gonna stop blogging or anything. Well, my apologies if this is too depressing a post but I thought of just sharing my thoughts. ;-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Web's love affair with blogging

Blogosphere sees healthy growth
BBC News Online
Nov 8, 2006

The web's love affair with blogging shows no signs of abating according to the latest report from blog tracking firm Technorati.

Every day 100,000 new blogs are created and 1.3 million posts are made, it found during its quarterly survey.

Postings intensify around significant events such as the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer.

There has also been an increase in the number of blogs being written in the Farsi language.

Farsi - a Persian language spoken in Iran and Afghanistan - has moved into the top ten languages of the blogosphere for the first time.

"It indicates that blogging continues to play a critical role in debates about the important issues of our time" said David Sifry, the founder of Technorati.

Technorati is now tracking more than 57 million blogs, of which it believes around 55% are 'active' - updated at least every three months.

While the daily figure of 100,000 new weblogs is down on the 160,000 total from June 2006 it does not indicate a slowdown in growth rates.

It just means that more spamblogs or splogs - fake blogs used for promotion of affiliated websites - are being filtered out of the index.

Technorati ranks blogs depending on how many sites link to it. The blogging elite - weblogs which have more than 500 other blogs linking to them - number about 4,000.

Many of these blogs have been in existence for several years and tend to have new posts at least twice a day.

"Some of these are fully-fledged professional enterprises that post many, many times per day and behave increasingly like our friends in the mainstream media. The impact of these bloggers on our cultures and democracies is increasingly dramatic," said Mr Sifry.

English and Japanese remain the two most popular languages in the blogosphere. Despite problems for bloggers in China, Chinese remains at number three.
While the above report is about the blogosphere as a whole, here's an abstract from a paper written by James Gomez about democracy and the Internet in Singapore.............
Although the issue of political expression by ordinary internet users in Singapore has received the attention of some scholars, very little has been specifically written on the impact of their use during general elections in the city-state.

Since the arrival of the internet in Singapore in 1995, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government has actively sought to control the supply of political content by internet users during election time.

This paper looks at how online political expression and the regulations to control it have shaped up during the last three general elections in 1997, 2001 and 2006. In absolute electoral terms there seems to have been no impact over the last three general elections.

However, as a supplementary medium for alternative information during elections, the internet has made some headway. It remains to be seen if this headway will have an impact on the absolute electoral results in future elections or become the target of more control.....continue reading

In his own words - WP member's resignation

Goh Meng Seng, who was part of the Workers' Party's Aljunied GRC team which contested in the 2006 General Election, has resigned from the party. The news of his resignation is not on the scale of Donald Rumsfeld's but nevertheless I was quite surprised.

What follows is Goh Meng Seng's reasons for his resignation in his own words. In his clarification, he refers to two reports by TODAY & Straits Times who are part of the pro-PAP govt news media. Nonetheless for the benefit of readers, I've re-produced both the reports below......

My Resignation from Workers' Party

I did not expect to write this so soon as I wanted to wait until the present parliamentary sitting is over before I make any public statement on my resignation which I think is not news worthy at all, but may be a distraction to Sylvia Lim's maiden speech in parliament.

Anyway, for some reason, the ST reporter got to know about it sooner than I desire. I granted the interview with the view that it is better to make it clear right from the start rather than allowing the reporter to write with all sorts of speculations in mind.

The following are just some facts that I need to clarify:

1) I resigned from Workers' Party on the day when the misinformation of I threatening to sue an internet forummer was reported in Today. This is due to my private assessment on the damage done to WP's public image despite the fact that I have clarified the facts on the matter to the Today's reporter. I guess Today will never make any reports on misinformation about any PAP MPs or ministers with their clarifications put side by side. Well, this is life in Singapore.

2) For some reasons, ST chose not to report the specific reason I gave them about the damage done by the Today's report on the misinformation (though with my clarifications by the side).

3) Neverthless, damage has been done on WP's image. I have talked about the importance of accountability for all my adult life and I think in view of the situation then, I will have to practice what I preach. It is a matter of personal integrity to me. If I do not practice what I preach, on what moral grounds do I stand when I question the ruling party about accountability in their governance?

4) This is the reason that I resigned. The speculation proposed by the ST reporter that I quit because I am unhappy about the rules which are going to be implemented (over internet engagement) is totally unfounded. It is only healthy that people have diverse views about anything in a political party. The most important thing is that, at the end of the day, we will come to a consensus and move on from there. It would be a total disaster for a political party to have members agreeing 100% on everything everytime.

5) None of the CEC members have requested me to resign over this matter. In actual fact, some has tried in private to convince me to stay on. My heart felt thanks to them but I think it is an important political point to be made.

6) For those people who like to speculate all sorts of things and come up with all sorts of conspiracy theory, they will be very disappointed. This is a simple resignation over a simple reason.

The most common reaction from people is that I am quitting politics altogether. Some will be relieved and some will be disappointed to learn that this is definitely not the case. ;)

My political vision and dream is to work towards an alternative political system for Singapore, to initiate positive change or reform to Singapore's political system. Joining a political party to provide meaningful political competition to the ruling party is merely one of the many ways or possibilities in achieving this goal.

I have written in this blog about the delimma between the choices of partisan politics and NGO's role of creating more political awareness among the populace. In order for the reform to the political system to be successful, it will need the backing and support of Singaporeans. This could only achieve when the political consciousness and awareness of our citizens are raised to a certain level.

Beside exploring the idea of forming or joining NGO, I have even explored into the possibilities of forming an independent alternative private think tank for all alternative parties. Political parties need policy research capabilities in order to perform their duties effectively. PAP, as the ruling party, has the support of the government funded think tanks to provide them this policy research capabilities. Alternative parties are deprived of such much needed resources.

I could even help out any political parties in various areas so to help the system grows. There are so many other ways one could contribute to the ultimate aim of reforming the political system beside standing in the frontline as a candidate during GE.

Of course, I may not discount the possibility of joinging any political party again or even form my own political party in future, but I think there are so many options available for anybody who want to do their part in initiating changes to the political landscape!

Goh Meng Seng

An update: An intense debate & discussion is taking place here at Sammyboy.com.
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Workers' Party netiquette comes under fire

TODAY, Wednesday • October 25, 2006

Tor Ching Li
chingli@mediacorp.com.sg

SOME Workers' Party members have recently become entangled in an Internet forum "brawl", with mudslinging and name-calling aplenty — to the extent of sparking a thread on the Young People's Action Party online forum entitled "WP members being complained (sic) on internet forums". This has garnered more than 80 postings since Oct 14.

One netizen, Mohammad Razari — who claims to be a third-year Singapore Polytechnic electrical engineering student residing in Hougang Ave 1 and says he is a former participant in WP's outreach programmes — sent a complaint letter to WP chairman Sylvia Lim and secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, citing what he thought to be unacceptable online conduct by WP members such as party webmaster Goh Meng Seng.

He said Mr Goh, a computer retail businessman, was narrow-minded to have called a forum participant "scheming" and "lacking in integrity" after "losing an argument". He also thought Mr Goh had threatened to sue another forum participant for implying that Mr Goh visited the www.sggirls.com forum.

In general, WP members were accused of being "argumentative", attempting to "sow discord" between various party supporters and even of taking the guise of online "clones" — or posting replies under alternative usernames — to "influence perception".

These online rumblings are reflected on Sammyboy threads called "Complaint letter to WP Central Executive Committee" and "Any respond (sic), follow up from Sylvia and WP?" with more than 40 and nearly 200 postings respectively.

When approached by Today for a response, Mr Goh clarified he had "categorically said (he) will not sue" the forum participant for his misinformed statement. He explained the SG Girls forum shared the same database as www.sgforums.com, and that he does not frequent the former site.

As for his harsh words used on the forum participant, Mr Goh said: "What I said could have been harsh but you have to look at it in context. People who argue with me will find me argumentative. But since his agenda is questionable, I am not going to engage him in discussions any more."

Mr Goh, who has been active in the forum scene since 2003, said he still thinks Internet forums are a good venue to answer critics and eventually win them over. Nevertheless, he added that postings on such freewheeling forums "have to be taken with a pinch of salt".

As with all things online, not every posting can be taken at face value. WP Youth Wing president Perry Tong recently filed a police report after someone impersonated his identity on the Sammyboy online forums — also on Oct 14, coincidentally.

In the impersonated posting, "Perry Tong" sent WP member "Melvin Tan" a message that read: "We must keep 'forumers' here constantly updated about WP activities. Keep clear of mudslinging and personal attacks. I have already instructed Meng Seng and Andrew to stop."

In an email response to Today, WP chairman Ms Lim said: "We are aware that there is activity in the Sammyboy forums involving WP members. Such communications are engaged in the personal capacity of the members concerned as we have not appointed any official spokesman for Internet communications. The official position of the party is to be found on our website and official statements issued."

Ms Lim added the party is reviewing some existing "general guidelines" for office bearers regarding Internet communications, "with a view to issuing some guidelines to all members".

In view of the online backlash to WP's presence, Internet observer Siew Kum Hong said: "One really has to be very disciplined and restrained when participating in such forums. If one engages long enough in such a medium, it is inevitable there will be a backlash from the community. It's then a question of how one deals with it. This is probably why you don't see the PAP MPs engaging in such Internet forums."

In channels such as blogs or websites — which are employed by PAP MPs, such as the www.p65.sg site — one can control one's message and how one chooses to engage the public, he said.

Nanyang Technological University Associate Professor in Political Science, Prof Ho Khai Leong believes both extremes — that of the MPs' aim to "reach, teach and preach" and the netizens' mission to "analyse, scrutinise and criticise" — will help mould cyberspace.

He said: "Both these approaches, in their extreme forms, will no doubt invite criticisms, which I think is healthy. As political blogs and bloggers and forumers mature and become more mundane — as we are seeing in many blogs — the more serious and thoughtful blogs and forums will make the more absurd and outlandish ones irrelevant in our everyday discourse of politics in cyberspace."
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Senior WP member quits over Net fracas

Senior Workers' Party member Goh Meng Seng takes responsibility for tarnishing the party's reputation by making critical remarks against online forum participant

Straits Times, Wednesday, November 8, 2006

By Peh Shing Huei & Ken Kwek

Senior Workers' Party member Goh Meng Seng has quit the party, taking responsibility for Internet postings he said had tarnished the WP's reputation.

"I need to be accountable for it," said the 36-year-old, who was part of the WP's Aljunied team in the last polls.

However, sources say he was also unhappy with impending party guidelines to curtail members' postings on the Internet, a claim he denied.

Mr Goh, an active netizen, had attracted brickbats recently on online forums for harsh language, calling a forum participant "scheming" and "lacking in integrity."

A netizen even fired a letter to party chairman Sylvia Lim, complaining about WP members' online behaviour.

Mr Goh told The Straits Times yesterday: "It has created a bad image for the party and the party must come first. Someone must be accountable."

He stressed that he was not pushed out of the party and that his comrades had asked him to stay.

His resignation two weeks ago came as a shock to party members. He was a central executive committee (CEC) member and part of the WP's "A team" led by Ms Lim, which claimed 43.9 per cent of the valid votes in Aljunied GRC during May's General Election.

Mr Goh, who joined the WP in 2001, said it was not an easy decision to quit. "I may not be a veteran who has been with the party for over 40 years. But there is still an emotional attachment," he said.

"I have no regrets," he said repeatedly, adding in Mandarin: "Tian xia mei you bu san zhi yan xi." The Chinese proverb he quoted states that there is no banquet in this world that lasts forever.

He said he has not thought of joining another opposition party and will still help out with WP activities.

Ms Lim told The Straits Times last night the party is "always sad to lose people."

Added WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang: "I have to respect his choice. I respect the individual's choice, and he has made his contributions to the party in the past." He did not want to elaborate on the reasons behind Mr Goh's departure.

On the party's Internet guidelines, he said: 'There was some feedback from younger members of the party who are active on the Internet, that perhaps we should have certain "netiquette."

"Since it's something from the ground that younger members would like to see, the CEC will take it up and see what is the best we can come up with."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Defendants boycott trial in kangaroo court

Media Release: Defendants boycott trial
SDP
8 Nov 2006

This statement was read out by Mr Gandhi Ambalam in court today.

We, the Defendants, wish to make the following statement:

Under Article 12 of Republic of Singapore Constitution, citizens are entitled to a fair trial and equal treatment under the law. In this trial you, Judge Eddy Tham, have ruled on dozens of occasions that our questions to Prosecution witnesses irrelevant. This has prevented us from adducing evidence to establish our defence on two fronts:

One, that the police have acted at the behest of the PAP to victimize us for our election activity on 22 April 2006. By preventing us from cross-examining the police witnesses on this matter, we are unable to show that we have been discriminated against and victimized by the PAP.

Two, that the police have no intention to grant a permit on any occasion for outdoors political speeches. Thus we cannot be accused of not having a permit. By disallowing our questions to elicit information from the police about this matter, the Judge has effectively undermined our defence and passed a guilty verdict.

These and other decisions and actions by Judge Eddy Tham clearly show that we are not receiving a fair trial. We have no reason to expect that an appeal will make any difference.

In the circumstances, we are left with no choice but to boycott the rest of the trial. We will therefore not participate in the remainder of the proceedings and will remain silent to protest our treatment in this Court.

Signed,
Gandhi Ambalam
Chee Soon Juan
Yap Keng Ho

8 November 2006

Depeche Mode: Going strong after more then 25 years

It was the beginning of the 1980s when I first heard the music of Depeche Mode. I've been hooked ever since!! They've been around now for more then 25 years. Back then not many people thought they'll last this long. But they did. And thank god for that!! ;-)

Recently, Depeche Mode won Best Group at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006. Here are a selection of their music videos I would like to share with current & new fans-in-the-making. You can view many others over at YouTube.

The first song is a live version of Everything Counts which introduced me to DM. Its followed by A Question of Time; Personal Jesus; and I Feel You...







Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Police Sergeant says there's no difference between the PAP and Government

Police shocker: No difference between PAP and Government
SDP
6 Nov 2006

Sergeant Kenny Quek raised eyebrows in court today when he told the Judge that there was no difference between the PAP and the Government.

This comment was made under questioning from Mr Gandhi Ambalam who, together with Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Yap Keng Ho, are charged with speaking in public without a licence on 22 Apr 06 during the 2006 general elections in May.

Sgt Quek said that he saw the Defendants "conveying a message to listeners for a period of time" on the said morning and decided to warn the Defendants for committing an offence.

He added that he also heard Mr Ambalam say that he was not going to "apologise to the Government" over the NKF article published in The New Democrat, the SDP's newspaper.

(This was obviously not true as the Government had not demanded any apology from the SDP over the said article. It was PAP leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who had sued the SDP, not the Singapore Government).

Mr Ambalam then asked the police witness whether he knew the difference between the PAP and the Government, to which the officer replied that there was none. This drew an audible chuckle from those present in the courtroom.

"That's the kind of education system we have here," Mr Ambalam lamented.

Dr Chee then picked up the point during his cross-examination and told Sgt Quek that since the witness was a police officer, he was also a Government servant. By extension, Sgt Quek would see himself as a PAP servant since he saw no difference between the Government and PAP.

The witness then quickly retracted his statement and corrected himself, insisting that the PAP and the Government "were two different matters."

Even the Judge had to ask the witness to clarify his statement as he had recorded earlier that the witness had said that the two entities were one and the same.

Based on this Dr Chee then proceeded to question the witness on whether the police would have taken action if it had been someone else instead of SDP members who carried out the activity on 22 Apr.

The Judge repeatedly ruled the question irrelevant and refused to allow Dr Chee to adduce evidence that the police had acted in a discriminatory fashion.

"This is especially significant given the fact that Sgt Quek felt that the PAP and the Government are the same political entity," Dr Chee argued.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the police, under the instructions of the PAP, decided to take action against the SDP in order to cripple its election effort, Dr Chee pointed.

Under the Constitution, he continued, citizens should all be treated equally under the law and the police had an obligation to be even-handed.

The event had taken place with the elections as a backdrop and that the SDP had wanted to campaign on the sensitive NKF scandal.

The Judge, however, remained adamant in refusing to allow Dr Chee to pursue this line of questioning.

"If that's the case, then I have no further questions," Dr Chee concluded.

An update on Nov 8@1420hrs: A little fish finding her way in the world has two posts about the differences between government and a political party: What is in a government? and Speechless.