Monday, March 27, 2017

I believe in free speech*

"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."

Today, I came across two Facebook updates by Andrew Loh (here and here) where he asked: 

I don't normally post elaborate responses to Facebook conversations but this time I felt compelled to because:

1. I find it surprising that having suffered at the hands of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), Andrew does not realise the irony of what he is trying to propose.

2. The arguments put forth by some against "absolute free speech" were getting ridiculous.

You either believe in free speech or you don't. There are no two ways about it. You can't say that you believe in free speech, but then put a big asterisk next to it with a fine print about the conditions when speech is not free. Can you see how ridiculous it is?

It's like one of those promotions that says "FREE!*" Who the fuck believes that?

Ok, I guess I have offended some people with that irresponsible speech. But guess what? Alvin Phua rightly pointed out:

And then there are those who use the age-old fire-in-the-theatre argument to justify the boundaries for free speech:

To which, without going into a long-drawn philosophical debate, Christine Sng Mechtler summed up the difference best with these three choice words:

Andrew and several others mentioned somewhere (can't remember where I saw the comments as it became difficult to track the conversations) that if we impose limits to free speech, it will have to apply fairly to everyone, including that obnoxious IB, Jason Chua. Problem is, if the law of the day ruled that what Jason the cockroach says is well within the legal framework of "free speech", do you just go lppl?

Once you advocate that a higher authority has the right to determine what is ok within the context of free speech, you basically cede your rights to any form of free speech.

There are also some who tried to tout "responsible speech" as a substitute for "free speech". What the fuck is "responsible speech"? Who decides what's responsible, and responsible to whom? Once you go down this slippery road, you will risk having one party dictating to another what constitutes "responsible speech". And the outcome is already quite obvious. Censorship.

What I believe is that free speech should be guided only by your own moral and ethical principles, and if your principles happen to be immoral/unethical, expect people to challenge them. Or walk away (hey, that's a valid option too!).

What irks me is when people resort to straw man argument to state their case against free speech, as Jolene Tan rightly observed:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Money Saving Hack: CNY goodies

Here's a simple hack that will save you a couple of dollars here and there, even if you only do it once a year.

During the Chinese New Year festive period, retailers have a habit of jacking up prices of everything because (and here's where you hear the common refrain) "一年一次啦!". So poor consumers cave in and buy stuff at a premium. But there's really no reason why you should continue to fall into this trap, especially when times are bad.

Take for instance those CNY goodies like pineapple tarts, peanut cookies and what not. $10 (or more) for a small tub may not be much, but if you buy a few, it could blow your grocery budget apart.

So here's what I did for a change. I bought this 300g of cookies from Sheng Siong, which set me back only $2.30. Nothing fancy.

All you need to do to spice things up is to put the cookies into those red-top containers for Chinese New Year and viola! You have something presentable (and equally tasty) at a fraction of the cost.

Better still if you have one of those pretty tin cans like this:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Will the wind of change ever blow our way?

In the aftermath of GE2105, there have been numerous rationalisations/justifications on why Singaporeans voted for suicide.

No credible opposition. Election carrots. Last-minute jitters. Sympathy votes for a dead dictator. Take your pick.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert and offer a detailed analysis of voting patterns because I don't want to be accused of trying to "chut pattern".

Rather than put the blame for the opposition's dismal showing at the polls on swing voters in the form of new citizens*, I am going to show you that all those reasons outlined above are just lame ass excuses for an act of cowardice.

(*New citizens are here for the pre-existing conditions, so to expect them to vote for change you would have to be either very optimistic or extremely foolish.)

Let's take the example of "no credible opposition". Without going into the specifics, let me ask you just one question: is the #PartyAgainstPeople credible? Don't ask me for evidence to prove otherwise. Do your own research and draw your own conclusion. If you are oblivious to the writing on the wall, nothing I say will convince you.

The bottom line is:

You had the chance to vote for change, but you voted against it.

You had the chance to empower yourself, but you voted against it.

You had the chance to put your voice in parliament, but you voted against it.

You had the chance to vote for transparency and accountability, but you voted against it.

So tell me, what exactly did you vote for? More of the same?

Don't tell me hazy stuff like "with you, for you, for Singapore".

On the other hand...

You had the chance to vote against opening the floodgates to foreigners, but you didn't.

You had the chance to vote against gerrymandering by the #PartyAgainstPeople, but you didn't.

You had the chance to vote against pork barrel politics, but you didn't.

You had the chance to vote against marginalisation of your fellow Singaporeans, but you didn't.

You had the chance to vote against incompetent and dishonest MPs (examples: here here here here here here), but you didn't.

You had the chance to vote against cronyism and nepotism, but you didn't.

So tell me again, what the fuck did you vote for?

Your last line of defence is probably to say that one should not protest for the sake of protesting.

It is a testament to the amount of brainwashing Singaporeans have gone through that a protest vote is inherently perceived as negative and politically incorrect.

"But what is very important is to remind all my friends that you have a voice, and that you should use it any chance you have--to point out the wrongdoings, to check the abuses of power, to always bring attention to the marginalised and the oppressed." ~ Alfian Sa'at

So just come clean and admit that you lack the guts to make real change. Nor do you have the compassion to do so.

“I guess Singaporeans get the government they deserve, so I don’t want to hear any more complaints.” ~ Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Reform Party

In an attempt to placate voters, the #PartyAgainstPeople preached about the Singapore core during GE2015. It knew about Singaporeans being displaced by new citizens, yet it is trying to accelerate the process. No prize for guessing why. It goes to show that the #PartyAgainstPeople will do whatever it takes to stay in power, Singaporeans be damned. That is the shameless party you've voted for.

So the short answer to the question: No way. Because we have reached the point of no return.

With that, I shall leave you with this:

Singaporean (August 9, 1965 ~ September 11, 2015) ‪#‎RIP‬

Stories referenced in this post:

5 Reasons Why All Singaporeans Must Reject 6.9 million Population Target
Why GE2015 will go down in history as the biggest fluke election ever
Fear of being fixed: The impact of the climate of fear on the 2015 Singapore General Election
That makeshift cubicle at the void deck
Liar, Liar, Bum On Fire
Vivian Balakrishnan: FAILED as a minister
Massive breakdown – Govt’s claim of accountability put to the test
MND skirting around concerns about the Sengkang columbarium tender
AIM saga - MND's failure to distinguish politics from policies
States Times Review apologise to PAP MP Lee Bee Wah
Why it might be difficult for the government to withdraw from business
All in the FamiLee
New Citizen Voters decided this Election and Will Decide all future Elections

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Vote For Change 2015

Sep 11 may be your last chance to #VoteForChange and say "No!" to cronyism and greed (whether it's the MIW's or your own).

I will not be surprised if the #PartyAgainstPeople stoops to a lower level than #gerrymandering to retain its parliamentary majority in the next election. #Blackout on polling day, anyone?

The #PartyAgainstPeople has repeatedly emphasised that Singaporeans should vote for their self interests (enlightened or otherwise).


In that case, there are even more compelling reasons to vote in the opposition.

You may feel secure in your employment/career right now.

You may be healthy.

Your assets may have appreciated.

But these could change if you give a blank cheque to the #PartyAgainstPeople.

The CPF minimum sum withdrawal age may be raised further to 80, provided you live long enough to see that day.

GST may be increased.

The population target (sorry, planning parameter) may be revised to 10 million.

Your children may need to pay $1 million to buy a 3-room HDB flat.

Sounds like fear mongering, right? Well, who says scare tactics are the exclusive domain of the PAP IBs and supporters? It's time to beat them at their own game.

It is thus precisely for the sake of your own interests (and your children's) that you should not give the #PartyAgainstPeople the mandate it has requested to do as they please.

So ask yourself: if you don't vote for change this time round, will you get another chance to make it right the next time?

I doubt.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Election Strategies 2015

I was quite hesitant to write an update for the coming election because the last election was supposed to be a watershed event. But nothing was shedded by the #PartyAgainstPeople except for a GRC, and the PM was back to his old ways fixing the opposition soon after.

Pundits are now saying that this will be another watershed election. I hope they are right or else we can expect more fixing to come.

I have my doubts though. Many daft Singaporeans, as far as I observed, are simply not ready to get off their sorry asses and overcome their fears to fight for their rights. Mind you, even though a dead dictator once called Singaporeans daft, I think most are pretty smart as they vote primarily based on a twisted form of "enlightened self-interest". Otherwise, how can one reconcile the belief in the "fishing village" revisionist history despite evidence pointing to the contrary?

"A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights." ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

But I digress. Let's get back to my two cents on what the opposition could do in the coming general election.

Loosely translated as "capture the ringleader first in order to capture all his followers". And the biggest ringleader of all is none other than Pinky himself.

Given the resignations/retirements all around (not just in AMK GRC), the #PartyAgainstPeople is facing a manpower crunch (I wouldn't call them "talent" as they fall far short of it). Suddenly, even the seemingly impregnable AMK GRC looks vulnerable.

I think the opposition should not miss this golden opportunity to effect change. Yes, for the sake of unity, only one opposition party will presumably contest in AMK GRC (we never know until Nomination Day comes along), but that doesn't mean the other parties cannot render their help to campaign for the opposition cause. In fact, I think they should band together to help the team contesting in AMK GRC to cover more ground. And there are ways to do it - read the second point below.

The biggest prize if the opposition succeeds in capturing AMK GRC is of course the PM himself. In the process, you will also deny the self-proclaimed "son of Punggol" the pleasure of a back-door entry (ahem!).

Son of Punggol attempts backdoor entry to Parliament. What do you call such a person? An asshole.

So what happens if the PM is voted out? (No, the world will not end and the opposition will not squander what you have.)

I've tried to research on this topic, but there seems to be nothing in our constitution that deals with this situation. If anyone is able to uncover some relevant information, please post in the comment section below.

I think there will be two possible scenarios if Pinky loses his seat and is unable to serve as PM:

1. The governing party (I'm assuming it's the #PartyAgainstPeople) selects a new prime minister. This could happen if the rumoured split within the #PartyAgainstPeople is real. 

2. The #PartyAgainstPeople asks a loyal MP to stand down and create a by-election for Pinky to contest. This is risky because of the hint of cronyism and the fact that Pinky may not win if he has to stand on his own.

If the #PartyAgainstPeople decides to plug some legal loopholes* to send Pinky back into Parliament, what the opposition parties need to do is to move a motion of no confidence in Parliament.

*One possible loophole: Roy Ngerng, who is expected to contest under the RP banner in AMK GRC, becomes bankrupted by the PM and is disqualified to hold office. I know, there are so many levels of irony here.

Population White Paper
To all opposition parties, there is no need to agonise over whether to campaign on local issues or national issues in #GE2015. Whatever your political differences, the population white paper presents the perfect opportunity for all opposition parties to campaign on a common platform without having to stand under the same political banner, because everyone can agree that this is the single biggest problem facing the nation since LKY.

The beauty of campaigning on the population white paper is that it encompasses issues both local and national due to its wide-ranging implications, such as social integration, infrastructure development, quality of living, cost of living, employment, CPF, housing, healthcare, education, etc. You can basically talk about everything that matters and relate it back to the population white paper.

These issues will resonate with people who care only about their enlightened self-interest, as well as those who can see the bigger picture ahead. No need to flog the democracy horse that few want to understand.

By collectively campaigning on the population white paper, the opposition can present a united front and cover the issues more comprehensively from different perspective, leaving no room for the #PartyAgainstPeople to defend the indefensible. How good is that?

Of all the opposition parties, I suspect the WP would be most disinclined to help out, which would be a shame since it has the most resources to do so. I hope I am wrong on this count.

MPs are lawmakers, not estate managers
Grasping at straws, the #PartyAgainstPeople is trying to turn a nationwide general election into a municipal contest, continually harping on AHPETC in a lame attempt to discredit the WP.

But as Dr Paul Tambyah from SDP rightly pointed out: 

"MPs are more than estate manager, someone who can lead the country, not clear the drain."

In one of my previous posts, I highlighted that the role of MPs is not to explain the government's policies to the people or to ensure that your neighbourhood precinct is the first to be upgraded. MPs, whether they are from the ruling party or opposition parties, are lawmakers, not estate managers. 

Unfortunately, the misguided souls in Singapore allowed the #PartyAgainstPeople to milk the illusion that the parliament and the ruling party are the same entity to their unfair advantage at the polls, which is how members of parliament from the #PartyAgainstPeople are able to indulge in their brand of pork barrel politics.

 That's why it is important to maintain the proverbial separation of the church and the state. Making this distinction may not yield immediate results for the opposition in this election, but if the electorate is not educated about the issue, voters will continue to vote based on how many carrots are at stake.

However, upgrading is now old news. And unsustainable in the long run. If you keep dangling carrots at the electorate every election, there will come a point when you run out of bribes, I mean, incentives for mercernaries to vote in your favour, and the "social contract" will be broken. Worse is if the #PartyAgainstPeople is forced to dig deeper into the cookie jar to fund a bigger incentive scheme.

Let democracy run its course
There has been a lot of talk about opposition unity since the election fever began. In the light of NSP's flip-flops, I'd say forget about the alliance. Let the best party represent the opposition cause in key battlegrounds, even if it means having a multi-cornered fight. Certainly, you don't want clowns like Khaw Boon Wan to be re-elected because the SDP gave way to a party that has lost its moral authority to compete.

And if the opposition is really serious about swallowing Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and show Big Nose the door, they need to either send in a stronger team or offer some assistance to the SDA.

Counter the spread of misinformation
Over the past couple of weeks, the notorious PAP Internet Brigades (IBs) have stepped up their intensity to spread FUDs about the opposition and various falsehoods. Their #PAPsmear tactics now extend to using fake accounts and fake stories to run down opposition parties.

Left unchecked, these could have an equally damaging effect as the daily propaganda dished out by the compliant media. The opposition needs to invest resources to counter the spread of misinformation online because this is the space that they at least have a level playing field.

Don't get me wrong. I like the IBs. Sometimes when I need to take my IQ down a couple of notches or when I need a reality check on the dismal state of humanity, they can be very "entertaining". But at the end of the day, nothing can be worse than another five years of greed and cronyism. So vote wisely! If you want to continue to give the #PartyAgainstPeople a blank cheque to govern, then you truly deserve the royal screwing you get.


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