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Posts Tagged ‘Netizens’

A possible SDP reply to WP

In News Reports, Politics on January 16, 2013 at 1:42 am

Following the earlier post from Mr Low to Dr Chee. Here is Dr Chee’s reply. Totally fictitious. Apologies to both men.

Dear Mr Low,
Thank you for your letter explaining why you rebuffed our perfectly sensible idea to put forth a unity candidate. I concede defeat and as, you may have read, I have decided that the SDP should pull out of the by-election. (I warn you though that I still have a couple of hours to change my mind.)

Nevertheless, I have decided to heed the growing calls for SDP to pull out of the by-election. I am doing so in the interest of opposition unity. You have forced my hand, and by your silence, you’ve succeeded in making me a pariah of the opposition. Even the netizens whom I believe are my most fervent supporters have turned against me.
I am getting some plaudits now for the withdrawal. Yet there are others who complaining about my lack of determination (I have plenty! ) and botched strategy (which I maintain is correct). My past words are being misinterpreted (again!) and my past moves are being misconstrued (again!). I am Singapore’s most misunderstood politician. Nevertheless I will survive. I will prevail. I am a son of Singapore!

I am now toting up the cost of the preparations for this election. As you can see, I prepared two sets of posters – for both Vincent and Paul. Naturally, they are upset. As are my party members. I would have to do my utmost now to keep them in line, and to stay within the fold till the next GE. As usual, I would have to deploy my usual charisma and charm. They will understand that the SDP has a noble cause, even if the leadership, namely me, is fallible (which I’m not).
By the way, if I was eligible to stand, I am almost certain that the people will be on my side. Chee Soon Juan versus your Lee Li Lian? That’s hardly a contest (pardon my ego). I would have gone to the Nomination Centre, guns blazing. The PAP would have been cowed by my presence. Of course, it will also be looking closely to see if I broke any law in the hope of having me disqualified. You know I started distributing my fliers after the writ of election was called… Some people say I was flouting the campaigning rules. Well, even if I have done so, there is no reason to persecute/prosecute me now since the SDP is out of the fray. From now I intend to keep my nose clean for the next electoral fight. Perhaps, between now and then, we can sit down for a cup of coffee. By the way, you still haven’t given me your handphone number.

My only consolation today is that I made it to the front page of The Straits Times. Not a flattering picture. As usual photographers never manage to capture my good side.

Now that SDP is out of the fray, we are in the midst of intense discussions about whether we should help you with your campaign. Or help SDA’s Desmond Lim. Or Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam. I envisage being a king-maker, or power broker of sorts. Time for the rest of you to court me. I have the resources, the manpower. I am also an orator. Would you like me to speak at your rally?

It remains for me now to do the polite thing and wish you and your party the best in this by-election.
Sincerely,
Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

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News headlines of the future

In News Reports, Politics, Society on October 16, 2012 at 1:49 am

I thought that first Singapore Conversation session threw up an interesting way of looking at what sort of country we want: by putting up newspaper headlines people would like to see. That’s good because a headline is a “bottomline’’, the chief point that encapsulates what the article is about. So rather than having to articulate the problem in our inarticulate way, discuss a million solutions and get tangled up in the whys and wherefores, let’s just get to the point of what we want.
So here’s my non-exhaustive list of headlines of the future with a brief a summary of what the news is about, with tongue only half in cheek.
HD: ITE student is President’s Scholar
Chin Jia Gou, 19, hails from the Normal (Technical) stream of Kampung Kana Secondary School, didn’t take his O levels but went on to ace the electrical and mechanical engineering examinations of the Institute of Technical Education. The only son of duck rice stall owner Chin Jia Cham is also an under-18 national soccer player who led the team into the World Cup finals for juniors. He credits his secondary school discipline master for getting him to knuckle down to study. “He shaved my head bald when I turned up for exams with tinted hair,’’ said Jia Gou who will also make history as the first President’s Scholar to opt for study at a local university. “My parents saved on a haircut but I was so psychologically scarred that I stayed at home and started studying.’’
HD: Repealed: Maintenance of Parents Act
Parliament has decided to do away with legislation that compels children to pay for their parents’ upkeep, after the watchdog tribunal reported zero applications over the past three years. MPs on both sides of the House supported the move, long considered a blot on the nation’s conscience. Minister How Hai Zhi said that the tribunal would now turn its attention to dealing with errant parents who pressure their children unreasonably to do well in school. “Too many tuition classes, enrichment programmes will rob the children of their childhood,’’ he said as he gave details of how children from the age of five can apply to have their parents reprimanded. “Caning is being considered,’’ he added.

HD: Netizen, name thyself
One million members of Singapore’s internet community have signed a pledge to be “transparent and open’’ when they post comments online. This will start with posters giving their full names instead of relying on email handles like imsexy and cannotdoit. Ms Ai Am Mee, who is spearheading the move, said that netizens should stand up and be identified or sit down and shut up. “Why be such cowards?’’ she said. “You can still be as vulgar, extreme and as racist as you want. Nobody says you have to control what you say. You just have to give your name.’’ She said one idea was to also have netizens post their ages, addresses, occupations, race, language, religion, household income, housing type, marital status and sexual orientation but thought that this was too much personal detail that could be exploited by telemarketeers.
HD: 100,000 Singaporeans return home
Singaporeans the world over have heeded the call of home and are returning in droves to power the nation’s economy and raise citizen numbers. Sources say that half of the 200,000 living and working abroad are uprooting themselves to solve the chronic manpower shortage here and solve the social problems of having too many foreigners. Drawn by housing vouchers and priority school places, they are trading their big homes, cheap cars and relaxed lifestyle to live in studio apartments, squeeze into buses and trains and join the rat race for Singapore to be No. 1. One of them, Mr Goh Bak Ken, 42, an investment banker based in Darwin, Australia, said he was going home for the food. “I mean, have you tasted the Hokkien prawn mee here?’’
HD: Housing vouchers for all
The hot property market’s lukewarm response to cooling measures have prompted the Government to propose giving every Singaporean a housing voucher once they hit 25. This one-time voucher will be distributed to all regardless of whether they are married, to appease singles who clamour for the same treatment as married couples. It will also assuage those who claim they are forced into buying private property because they do not qualify under the income criteria. A Housing Board spokesman said singles can choose to combine the vouchers and apply for a flat jointly. Those who do not want to live in public housing can also choose to donate the vouchers to those who do. Mr Tie Koon Kin, 60, a property developer , said this move signalled the death knell of the private property market unless it was matched with offers such as free renovation, furnishings and a luxury car.
HD: PM is GOH at gay function
After years of being sidelined, the gay community was finally accepted as part of the mainstream community when the Prime Minister graced its fund raising dinner last night. The PM told reporters he was glad to be part of an effort to raise money for orphaned children, including Jia Jia and Kai Kai. Clad in a long-sleeved pink shirt, he said he did not adhere to the function’s dress code as he did not own a pink V-necked tee-shirt. It was also because he did not want to encourage too many people to come out of the cabinet, he added.

Kancheong over Amy Cheong Part 3

In News Reports, Politics, Society on October 10, 2012 at 5:52 am

I repeat: Go buy TNP. It’s got Amy Cheong again. Except that it looks as though some deal has been struck with her to give her a platform for her side of the story. I wish the TNP would get tougher with her. It might actually do her some good because what she told the newspaper doesn’t do anything for her. It doesn’t excuse nor explain her intemperate words. In fact, her words don’t match her past actions.
She claims to be sensitive when there is a need to be. She claims to be open-minded after having been exposed to many different cultures. She says she sees everyone as the same, regardless of race colour.
I don’t understand then, why she said the things she did about Malays. If it’s just about noise, then there was no need to link Malay weddings to divorces. No need for that cheap shot about cheap weddings. She claims to be a private person but makes her feelings public and describes herself as outspoken. She wants to “make it clear’’ that she was speaking about “the situation and not about any racial group’’. Eh?
The only thing that made any sense was what she said about how everyone has, at one time or other, said things without thinking. I just think she should stop thinking and stop talking.
While it was good that TNP got an exclusive, it let her get away with words. There were just that, words. In fact, they were words that would irritate any reasonable person further.
Never mind all that then. What’s more important is this “witch hunt’’ for a certain Eve and a certain Ivy. For crying out, can we please stop this? Can we stop to think that the bigger problem is how people use social media? Not just that, but how people VIEW social media as well.
So there are plenty of unthinking people who spout whatever they want on the spur of the moment, revealing deep-rooted prejudices that had hitherto been concealed. And there are malicious people who hide behind funny names who deliberately stir trouble. The second type is worse than the first, I think. I would write off Amy as the first type who are plain stupid and careless. If she thinks that Malays hold “cheap’’ weddings and therefore have high divorce rates, there’s not much that can be done to change her mind – no matter how many Malays show her their wedding bill. I view the second type, however, as terribly dangerous and deserve to be shouted down and even locked up.
Then there is the question is how we manage our own reactions to those people who abuse social media. How much vitriol to pour on their heads? How to distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2? Do we really want to be the first to throw stones at others for thoughts that we too might be holding deep down inside? What line should we draw around what is politically acceptable and plain outrageous?
There are reports today about a local film that has had its film classification revoked because it was “demeaning and offensive to Indians’’. The interesting thing was that the G allowed the screening but a panel of members of the public said no. This, the panel says, is the “community standard’’ – no matter how well-intentioned the motives of the film-makers were, or how sharp and witty the script, or how many foreign accolades it has won.
Clearly, the panel was thinking about the sensitivities of a minority community. If a Malay castigates the Chinese and call them names, would the reaction be as bad? A majority community can afford to be magnimous. It’s like how we get angry when we think foreigners here are poking fun at us. It’s because we’re beginning feel like a minority community here…
Clearly, the people behind the film aren’t happy, especially with the late notice. But the film went through the usual process – a local process by locals here. The panel might have been ultra-cautious, but maybe it was right to be given how we can’t control our reactions to one Amy Cheong.
Time for that newly convened Media Literacy Council to do some work.

Kancheong over Amy Cheong Part 2

In News Reports, Politics, Society on October 9, 2012 at 1:22 am

Go buy TNP. It’s the only newspaper this morning with an interview with Amy Cheong. Seems she’s no spring chicken (she’s 37) and she’s flown the coop (to Perth). Seems also that she can’t understand the fuss – she was just irritated by the noise not just of Malay weddings but funerals, karaoke sessions and her neighbour’s drilling. Seems she had a hard day at work and wanted to rest when the din started. Seems she regrets not being better at Facebooking – she should have set her account to “private’’.
Seems she meant everything she said but expects everyone to understand that it was a mis-step borne out of noise irritation.
Oh dear.
I’m glad she left the country.
Face it. We all have stereotypes about community groups. When people look at me, they assume I studied at a convent school (I didn’t); I like partying (used to, but getting old now); I sing (I can’t, but my brother can); I can’t speak Mandarin (hey, it’s my mother’s tongue!); I can cook feng (peranakan dishes more my taste). So I do take offence when people presume to know me when they don’t. Doesn’t mean I mind the jokes: 1 Eurasian is a solo performance, 2 Eurasians is a band and 3 is a lawsuit. That came from a fellow Eurasian, by the way. I heard a tonne of jokes about Sikhs – from a Sikh undergraduate who tells me he’s allowed to tell me such jokes because he’s Sikh. Quite different coming from me, or a non-Sikh.
I’ve always loved this ability to laugh at ourselves.
Thing is, it’s laughing even though there might be a grain of “truth’’ in the jokes. Not disparaging. Not putting the other person down.
I suppose it’s too much to expect Amy Cheong to change her mind about her stereotypes about Malays, linking them to high divorce rates and “cheap’’ weddings. I wish TNP questioned her on this. As Law Minister K Shanmugam said, it’s not just racist but showed contempt for the less well-off and those who don’t wish to spend money. So it’s a class thing as well. So it’s a race thing coloured by class, or a class thing coloured by race?
Interesting that she doesn’t see her comments as racist. If she takes aim at the Chinese for holding funerals at void decks instead of a funeral parlour, would she be considered racist? I think people would start looking at it from a religion point of view. That she can’t understand Chinese traditions because she belongs to some church group. Hey, things could get really really bad…
Would it have been more acceptable if she just took pot shots about noise? Condemn both funerals and weddings of whichever ethnic group. Castigate RC block parties with loud karaoke sessions. Call for senior citizen’s corners and kindergartens to be moved because the old people and the kids are too noisy. I suppose that’s just being a bad neighbour – and not too bad. She might even have people flocking to her cause – can we have a void deck that is void please?
I am going to cut Amy Cheong some slack – and ask that others do so too. It’s good that the online community weighed in against her, but there’s really no need to go post pictures of her family online is there? And why be as foul-mouthed as she was? She has been sacked – and hounded out of the country. Being a national pariah is enough punishment I think, more than anything the legal system can mete out. Enough already. No need to exact pound of flesh.
I’m glad the Malay community has kept silent. Thank you for your tolerance.

Signals from Singapolitics

In News Reports, Politics on September 3, 2012 at 2:33 am

For some reason, The Straits Times hasn’t made a big hooha over its Singapolitics page on its website. If it did, I missed it…and I couldn’t have because I know how ST can really blow its own trumpet since I’ve done it so many times before for the paper. I can only guess at the reasons:
1. It doesn’t quite know how to introduce the page in its print edition. I mean, what you do online, you can do in print no? So how to say this? Or is it a space problem, like why some Forum letters go online?
2. It thinks it will be less constrained online than in print, in terms of allowing less politically acceptable but still reasonable views to surface. In other words, testing OB markers might be easier here.
3. It wants to try to move away from the view that it is a Government mouthpiece by using another platform that is not so identified with its conservative print self. (Think STOMP – not very ST-like at all).
4. It wants to take away the space from bloggers and netizens who looked intent on owning political discussion in Singapore.
5. Too much publicity will tempt rabid netizens from descending on the page and tearing it apart before it has a chance to take off. (Hey, sooner or later, people will know lah)
In other words, the print version will remain its old self but online, it will adopt a slightly different, slightly younger, persona. So you can have Tan Cheng Bock and Opposition politicians etc have their say in the space. And if something it thinks is worthwhile (in whatever sense) is written online, it can always be published in print for the readers who do not trawl the Internet everyday. I wonder if that’s why the Saturday Insight pages seem to be anchored by outside writers these past few weeks. The regular journalists are too busy I suppose updating the online page…
Anyway, I think the page is a good idea. The online world needs a platform for moderate voices that are more centrist yet willing to challenge the norms. There is a “moderator’’ who edits out the immoderate comments and I am sure some people will take issue with this and the usual charges of censorship will arise. I have no problems with this, so long as moderation is of the light touch variety. In any case, those who claim to have been “moderated out’’ can always re-post their full unvarnished comments on other sites. Likewise I am sure conspiracy theorists will allege that this is a ploy to keep dissent under control. Some kind of subtle, nefarious, far-sighted agenda to “convert’’ the online space. (You know, some people think the same way about my blog…and I am so tickled every time I read this!)
Now it has called for readers to say what kind of Singapore they want to the PM. Feels like an Ask Me Anything – Obama-style. Except that the media remains the channel, the middleman. This is critical methinks given that politicians are reaching out to the people via online tools. The mainstream media risks being bypassed in any kind of conversation, national or not.
In fact, on a related point, I have mixed feelings about the media picking up from politicians’ Facebook and blog postings. Sometimes the MSM picks up wholesale, nary adding a thing to their article. It’s like printing a better written press release (since politicians are likely to use their own words, rather than bureaucratese). There’s like some kind of race among the media to make sure very little bit is picked up – whether it’s news worthy or not. Even politicians’ FB postings should be assessed – and questioned. Is Law Minister K Shanmugam merely floating a kite when he talks about a legal framework to settle neighbour disputes? Or is this going to be policy? Did the MSM need Shanmugam to write about bad road manners first, before doing a piece? Is Lawrence Wong’s comments about Singapore needing a big heart and the anecdotes he cites really so newsworthy? Journalists can just go to any Meet-the-People session and talk to people there to find out first-hand what they are saying to their MPs, rather than publish second-hand comments from MPs who decide to post on FB etc.
Anyway, I digress. Go read the Singapolitics page. At least, got first-hand material.