Friday, May 06, 2011

Singapore GE 2011: Battle at Marine Parade

After all the publicity about Tin Pei Ling, the PAP quietly put her into cold storage and she is not be heard again during this campaign. Looking at the blogs and comments, I can see why. She turned out to be a bit light-headed and had too much negative deadweights such as having a penchant for brand name handbags, design clothes and expensive holidays, all revealed in her Facebook! Not surprisingly, after the initial announcement when she seemed headed for a seat on her own, the PAP decided to put her into a grouped constituency at Marine Parade with Goh Chok Tong where she could be carried over with his help.

The NSP (National Solidarity Party, a party that I had little knowledge of, but turn out to be the biggest contesting one with quite a few good candidates) was not going to let her off so easily. They put Nicole Seah in their group of candidates to contest Marine Parade. Though a few years younger and somewhat inferior in her diction, Seah has made an impact with her fiery speeches, so much so that everyone is now referring to NSP as Nicole Seah Party.

Politics in Singapore can wake up from the deep slumber every 5 years.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Indonesia as a model for others

Obama's visit to Indonesia created much publicity in Australia, especially his praises of the country as a model for diversity. Obama cannot help himself; like George W Bush, he expects others to view the world through the same eye glasses as the Americans.

The fact is, which may not be obvious to him, most Asians are unlikely to view Indonesia as a model for emulation. After all, its long history of institutionalised discrimination against its own ethnic Chinese had only recently been lifted, and it is unable to shake the entrenched corruption in its society.

Such an open endorsement by the US President will only reinforce the suspicion by many that his visit is only for winning support through their fear of China, and has little to do with principles.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Strange bedfellows

The proposal for SGX to takeover ASX has brought out howls of protests, perhaps unsurprisingly. It was strange though that Bob Brown and Bob Katter found themselves singing the same tune when they would normally preach from different ends of the political spectrum.

Singapore has been loudly derided, accused of various crimes of human rights abuse and dictatorial policies. The danger of this form of political purity is that it leaves no room for any deviation from the ideal state to cope with economic or social imperfections. The population may indeed come to the conclusion, should they feel the pure democracy had failed them, that the only alternative was a dictatorial ruler.

The Germans came to that conclusion in 1933.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not good enough for Macquarie

It was unfortunate that Macquarie University recently approached us for donation. Their misfortune, that is, for it gave me an opportunity to give them a piece of my mind.

Late last year Yvonne applied for a postgraduate course in Applied Finance. She innocently said, during an entrance interview, that she wanted to be able to manage Finance, hers and ours for a start. The interviewer told her that the University was more interested in training people who manage "billions for companies like BHP". She was told she was not good enough.

Yvonne went on to attend the course another university, a more modest one, but she was good enough to score High Distinctions and Distinctions.

I explained to the caller in no uncertain terms how unhappy we are with Macquarie University. We were certainly not contributing. They should approach their good pals, like BHP, for funds and not ordinary folks like us. Hope she will pass that on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hu's who?

When Rio's Stern Hu was first arrested, a chorus of protests came through the media many immediately and openly accusing China of using trumped up charges in retaliation for the Chinalco fiasco. More responsible reporters were cautious but still alluding to the accusation.

Hu was widely painted as impeccable when in reality few knew what the charges were.

Eggs rained on many of them when Hu admitted to bribery charges during the trial.

It does not take an expert to understand that if one wants to bypass the rules in China, then one should not rock the boat as well. Rio, and their executives, thought they could do both.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Singaporeans shun work

There is an ongoing discussion in the Straits Times about foreign workers taking jobs from Singaporeans. The standard response from the authorities has always been that foreign workers are used for jobs shunned by Singaporeans.

The latest article by Jeremy Au Yong "They're doing jobs Singaporeans shun" again took the official line claimed that Singaoreans reject $1,300 jobs which foreign workers are willing to do for $800. (Straits Times 18 Jan 2010

Au Yong seemed to have gone along with the authorities in ignoring the fact that Singaporeans cannot live on $1,300 while foreign workers can return to their country and live well on $800.

It seems that Singapore has to lower the standard of living if not the costs.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

From China to Chinese

China is not a popular country these days in the Australian media. Nearly every political article and opinion published over the past few years have been critical, denigrating or just down right condescending.

Yesterday, Michael Sainsbury brought the criticism to a new height (or was it new low?). (“For China, Burma is a thorny territory”, The Australian 8 Sep 2009,25197,26039367-7583,00.html) In commenting on the disturbances in Burma close to the Chinese border, he commented not just about China trading with Burma but extended his general comments to all Chinese living in the region.

If one takes Sainsbury’s comments literary, then all mining of Burmese jades and rubies are carried out by Burmese generals, Chinese are hated all over Southeast Asia, and Singapore is an enclave set up for Chinese like Israel was for the Jews.

Perhaps he will one day propose a new Final Solution for the Chinese?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Media support for Rebiya Kadeer

The Australian media has a romance with freedom fighters. Perhaps it descended from our worshopping of our folklore heroes such as Ned Kelly.

It explains easily, the fascination with Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer during her recent visit. When it comes to Kadeer versus China, a David and Goliath tussle, the media easily took on the side of David. Of course China is an easy target for criticisms; there are lots of issues that one could find fault with.

However, if only the media would look deeper into Kadeer’s background, especially in relation to her claims that she was no separatist, a claim that the local media seemed to swallow so readily. For China, separatism is a threat akin to treason.

The respected New York Times had no reason to hide her background. It published a photo of her in her Washington office with the flag of East Turkistan Independence movement prominently displayed behind her (NYT, 9 July 2009). (
It also reported that according to Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on international terrorism, the ETIM is linked to the Al Qaida and had members fighting for them on both sides of the Chinese border. (

Gunaratna is no stranger to the local Australian media and yet when it comes to comments on Kadeer, they chose to ignore him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Defending China

It is amazing how common it is for one to set one standard for others and another for oneself. Gerald Henderson criticised Prof Don Russell ('No Need to be concerned about China's feelings" 25 Aug 09 for asserting, apparently without evidence, that China's arrest of Stern Hu was justifiable for he engaged in bribery.

Henderson conveniently forgets he was also asserting that China had arrested Hu without reasons.

Prof Russell can rest on his past records, can Henderson, knowing his past biases ?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aussies in Trouble

Once again an Australian is in trouble overseas, this time it’s Stern Hu in China. As had happened each time in the past, there is anger about the unfair treatment given to one of us and demands that the government immediately take actions to secure their release.

Why is it that there is always such a hue and cry when one of us runs into trouble with other countries’ laws? Is it just because the world is full of unjust systems? Or is it because we have ingrained in many of us an attitude of superiority we cannot accept that an Australian could possibly break any law anywhere?

Since we demand that only we should decide who comes to Australia and the circumstances under which they be allowed here, is it not only fair that the other countries demand the same?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Manly another Cronulla ?

The story about what happened in Manly had been largely kept out of front pages. There were denials by the local mayor that there was anything racist about groups of youths parading in Aussie flags and shouting slogans. Now it seems there were more than just youths shouting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi"

"Fuck off we're full" it said on their bare tummies. Even the Daily Telegraph was too embarrassed to spell it out.

An angry migrant might say that their tummies did not have enough space to finish the sentence . . .

Full of what ? Of S**t ?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Singapore's Growth

Singapore seems to be going round and round in a vicious circle of chasing growth and workers to service the growth. Last year the population growth was more than 5% which heavily heavily clogged the facilities, requiring even more expansion of the infrastructure and therefore more workers to build them.

When I posed the question, the answer is always there isn't enough workers and Singaporeans are not willing to do some of the jobs. Perhaps this is only partly true. It may be true of jobs requiring special skills but if Australians are willing to do labouring jobs at high pay, surely some Singaporeans will too. Neither would want to work for the money that the Bangladeshi workers get. So is the policy merely to get things done cheaply? Is Singapore boasting of high average income only because those hundreds of thousands earning low income are not counted ?

The next question is, how much growth does Singapore really need ?

Monday, September 29, 2008

A universal question

(Published in SMH 29 September 2008)

Mary-Anne Toy ( "Milked to the degree of danger", September 27-28)

asked a most relevant question about how a nation that can spend billions on a space venture such as the space walk cannot ensure the safety of milk powder for its vulnerable babies. Sadly this is a question that can be asked of many nations. Even the US, the most powerful nation on Earth, was unable to rescue its own citizens in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Closer to home, we should also question how we could allow so many Aborigines to live in such a parlous state of existence. If we cannot understand our own inability to fairly appropriate our resources, how can we comment on others?

Kin-Mun Kan

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Paul Keating on World Order (and China)

I am easily irritated by the constant whinge in the media about the failings of China. I have often said that one would appreciate China better if the rise of that nation is assessed in terms of its history, especially recent history.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is one person who has a great sense of history. And is reflected by what he wrote about China in his recent article (“Keating’s New World Order in The Age )
the relevant paragraphs of which are quote below :

. . . We can see with this the twenty ninth Olympiad, the questioning of China and the resentment at its pretensions about being one of us. Even, becoming one of us! The Western liberal press featured, generally in critical terms, the world-long torch relay, juxtaposing all that it represents and is good about it, with what it sees as China's democratic defects, viewing it almost exclusively through the prism of Tibet.

Saying, almost, that the aspirations of this massive nation, a quarter of humanity, a legatee of a century of misery, dragging itself from poverty, is somehow of questionable legitimacy, because its current government's attitude to political freedoms and in specific instances, human rights are not up to scratch. Ignoring the massive leaps in progress, of income growth, of shelter, of the alleviation of poverty, of dwindling infant mortality, of education, of, by any measure, the much better life now being experienced by the very great majority of Chinese.

In a Western and elitist way, we have viewed China's right to its Olympic Games, to its 'coming out', its moment of glory, with condescension and concessional tolerance.

The Western critic feeling the epicentre of the world changing but not at all liking it, seeks to put down these vast societies on the basis that their political and value systems don't match up to theirs. . . .

Good on you, Paul !

Sunday, August 17, 2008


When I told my friends about my recent trip to Brunei, I had expected, with all the hoo-hah about human rights in Tibet, that they would not be too impressed with the fact that the Sultan was an absolute monarch, one of a few left in the world.

No, none had expressed any disgust like they had done over China in Tibet. They couldn’t care less. But some cautiously mentioned that it was a Muslim country, hinting that it was something to be feared.

What annoyed most was it confirmed my suspicion that the issue over China and Tibet was not human rights. It was fear of the Chinese. The R word, R for racism.