28 May 2009

Switching from this site to Sampler Two

I am ceasing this site (Yawning Bread Sampler One), though it will be kept alive. All future abstracts will be put onto Yawning Bread Sampler Two, a wordpress site.

Wordpress has a few more functionalities than blogspot.

Otherwise, readers will hardly notice any difference; the rather strange style and structure of Yawning Bread continues.

27 May 2009

An ill-judged and irresponsible scoop

Sometimes, the mainstream media can do a better job in getting the government's attention than the online media. When there is a social problem wherein one group of people are suffering, website owners should think twice before they snatch the story out of consideration for the best interest of the victims. Full essay.

25 May 2009

Winning over conservatives

What do conservatives want to conserve and why? Why are they impervious to reasoned arguments? If they can't be convinced by facts and logic, what will move them? Full essay.

23 May 2009

Shoes take me places

I bought a pair of cheap shoes today. Adapting to a rapidly industrialising China. Do people even realise we have to adapt, and what has halal food got to do with it? Full essay.

22 May 2009

What 'secular state' should mean

Beyond saying "Keep religion out of politics", few Singaporeans can flesh out what the concept of a secular state should be. Without being true to secular humanism, the Singapore state will always be lurching between religious pressure groups. Full essay.

20 May 2009

Detainees' poetry launched in Kuala Lumpur

A book of poetry and prose by Singaporeans detained without trial or in exile had its Malaysian launch last weekend. Unfortunately, they didn't make much political capital of it. Someone also forgot to update them about Singapore's national flower. Full essay.

19 May 2009

Libel is an enemy of free speech and civilised society

Nominated Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong has made a police report about the injurious allegations made against him in various online comments. He is right to do so. Full essay.

13 May 2009

Parliament now faces "gay test"

A new set of Nominated Members of Parliament are to be selected. Will Siew Kum Hong get a second term after submitting the "Repeal 377A" petition in 2007? Will there be gay NMPs? Full essay.

12 May 2009

AWARE, steeplejackers and pink durians

There's a long history of church groups seizing other organisations, and the anti-gay rhetoric we hear today is merely a tool for these people in their quest for power, argues guest writer MS05L. Guest essay.

11 May 2009

Archiving J B Jeyaretnam's papers for posterity

JBJ was an important figure in Singapore's political history. Now that he's gone, what will become of his papers? Should they be in our National Archives? Full essay.

10 May 2009

A great city? Making it, failing it

Has Singapore what it takes to be one of the world's great cities? From what I heard and saw on a Friday night out on the town, the answer was mixed. Full essay.

08 May 2009

Pink dot, 16 May 2009, 4:30 pm

Hong Lim Park has seen election rallies, angry investors and a stand-off between opposition leaders and the police. Time for something different: love and fun! Join in to help make a human pink dot. Advertorial.

07 May 2009

Education Ministry suspends AWARE's sexuality education program

Now alleging that AWARE's Comprehensive Sexuality Education program violates the ministry's guidelines in "promoting homosexuality", the government suspends AWARE's CSE is suspended. This is just wallowing in ignorance and muddled thinking. Full essay.

04 May 2009

Lessons for the PAP from the Aware EOGM

Three observations I made of the Aware EOGM were: what kind of electorate; appeal to legalistic authority; and the choice of measures of success. All are issues relevant to a broader political canvas. Full essay.

The rosary woman and other head-shaking tales

Movie star Jackie Chan said Singaporeans have no self-respect, that's why social graces, courtesy and consideration are so lacking in Singapore. Full essay.

03 May 2009

Fundie exco booted out of AWARE

A marathon extraordinary general meeting held on 2 May 2009 saw progressive and secular-minded women take back the Association of Women for Action and Research from a clutch of conservative Christians, who had wanted to turn the feminist group into an anti-gay vehicle.

1414 members voted for the motion expressing no confidence in the executive committee that seized power only a month before on 28 March 2009. 761 members supported the exco.

Proceedings were heated with many members wanting to speak, expressing their suspicions of the 28 March exco's motives and outrage at their stormtrooper behaviour since coming into power.

At various points in the meeting, society president Josie Lau and one other exco member said "Shut up" to the audience of about 3,000, and asked security guards to evict members from the room.

Here is Thio Su Mien, the one who orchestrated the take-over, trying to convince the crowd that she was a hero - "I'm on page 73"; "Respect your elders".

It was also revealed that the 28 March exco spent S$90,000 when the constitution required them to seek members' approval before spending above S$20,000.

After the no confidence vote, the 28 March exco disappeared from the hall. Members voted in a new exco headed by Dana Lam as president.

Flyers and flying laws

Ignored by the media, the trial of Chee Soon Juan and other Singapore Democratic Party leaders continued in the third week of April. They are accused of doing something which hundreds of people do openly every day. Full essay.

John Dorhauer on the steeplejacking of AWARE

Guest writer MS05L contacted Rev John Dorhauer on his views about the takeover of AWARE by a fundamentalist Christian group. Dorhauer is the co-author of the book "Steeplejacking", which details the war between mainstream religion and the right-wingnuts. Guest essay.

01 May 2009

Feminism is important for men too

Many men think that the issues surrounding the Christian fundies' take-over of AWARE, the women's group, have nothing to do with them. In this guest piece, Bryan Choong recalls how the progressive feminism of AWARE made a huge difference to him and his mother. Guest essay.

Church of Our Savior supports gay marriage

In a statement released to the media on 30 April 2009, the Church of Our Saviour (COOS) said "No homosexual should ever be deprived of any right enjoyed by every other Singaporean." It is splendid news indeed that this church believes that since heterosexuals have a right to marry someone they love, so should homosexual Singaporeans. As far as Yawning Bread can recall, no other local church has so publicly supported full equality for gay people across all rights.

COOS has been linked to the controversy surrounding the takeover of the women's organisation AWARE by its members. The self-declared "feminist mentor" behind the new executive committee (exco), Thio Su Mien - the one who told the media that homosexuality is a man's issue - is also a member of the church.

In the statement published on www.asiaone.com, COOS denied that they were behind the takeover: "Church of Our Saviour did not initiate or instigate any campaign to take over the leadership of AWARE."

To press home the point, it also said that it hoped people would not hold the "wrong assumption that the exco is a pawn of the church or that it has intentions to turn it into a religious organization as that is totally untrue." It is interesting how the church is so certain that the new exco, who are not its pawns, do not have such intentions. If the new exco is independent of the church, how does the church control its intentions? I guess I don't understand the nature of divine insight.

COOS loves homosexual people. "Church of Our Saviour does not have an agenda against homosexuals. We are not antihomosexual ... We believe homosexuals should be extended understanding, kindness and love like every other human being."

It doesn't love gay activists, however, for it "does have a stand against the agenda of activists promoting homosexuality as a normal alternative lifestyle. Just as much as the Bible commands us to love the homosexual person, it also states categorically that homosexual practice is wrong."

It sounds like a rather complicated position, but we shouldn't nitpick. So long as the church supports full equal rights for gay people, we should give them some leeway. It would have been better though if COOS explained how happily married gay couples could consummate their marriages which the church so bravely supports as an equal right.

29 April 2009

Identity mobilisation - a threat to society

We may be incredulous that Thio Su Mien and her sidekicks would engage in such blatant hyperbole about the threat of homosexuality, including the threat from those who call for a non-judgemental stance, but there is method in the madness. It's called identity mobilisation. Full essay.

Migrant worker problems must be tackled at roots

Another 200 workers from China demonstrated at the Manpower ministry on Monday. Our government's response is merely reactive and never addresses underlying problems; that's why they keep resurfacing. Singapore denies there's human trafficking here, but we're just toying with words. Full essay.

27 April 2009

Couldn't get past the pig

Worrying news from Mexico about a flu outbreak, at a time when the global economy is already so weak. Bureaucrats and reporters should try to be alert when they do their jobs. Full essay.

26 April 2009

Attempt at character assassination of Constance Singam?

I understand from good authority that there is an email going around imputing that Constance Singam, the former president of AWARE, has been less than transparent about skeletons in her closet, in that she had made AWARE "pro-gay" because her own brother is gay. This so-called brother was named as Clarence Singam, according to this website, as accessed on 26 April 2009 at 02:14h:

Constance is the sister of Clarence Singam, a preacher at Free Community Church, a pro-homosexuality congregation in Singapore.

That is erroneous. The fact is: the two are not related. I have suggested to Clarence and Constance to write to the webmaster to get the statement corrected. As for the senders of the emails, one has to wonder about their motives.

Bloggers' maturity demonstrated in Aware saga

Although the Aware controversy involved religion and sexual orientation, bloggers and their readers remained sober throughout, proving the government, which often accuses internet users of irresponsible speech, wrong. Netizens also shifted their opinions as facts emerged, disproving the imputation that internet users preferred lies and half-truths to facts. Full essay.

24 April 2009

Pirate mother ship appears on horizon, guns blazing

Thio Su Mien reveals herself as the mastermind behind the AWARE putsch, but initially wanted to hide behind her hachet-women. She also concedes that it was her anti-gay agenda that drove her to this frenzy. Full essay.

21 April 2009

Pirates ahoy! Gay netizens and the AWARE hijacking

Why are lesbian and gay netizens crying foul over the hijacking of AWARE? Was AWARE a pro-gay organisation? In their first TV interview, all the new guard could offer was more contradiction and evasion. Full essay.

DBS Bank's public hanging

Every day, companies have staff disciplinary issues. Yet, when DBS Bank had an issue with its vice-president in charge of the credit card division, it issued statements to the media. Why did DBS consider the case of Josie Lau and AWARE so serious? Full essay.

17 April 2009

Gay marriage: Sweden, Vermont and Iowa

In recent weeks, three jurisdictions started the process of legalising same-sex marriages. Sweden and Vermont did so through legislative action, while In Iowa, the the Supreme Court struck down the ban. Full essay.

Reinforcing containment

The Films Act has been tightened despite government claims to the contrary and the new Public Order Act gives police powers to stop even one-man protests. It's the government's response to the SDP's recent tactics and the rising use of video among increasing numbers of Singaporeans. Full essay.

15 April 2009

John Barrowman's The Making of Me

John Barrowman, an actor and dancer, tries to figure out why he's gay by talking to various researchers, in this BBC program The Making of Me.

Part 1 of 6

Part 2 of 6

Part 3 of 6

Part 4 of 6

Part 5 of 6

Part 6 of 6

14 April 2009

Running and lifting - two tales from the gender twilight zone

In Kuala Lumpur recently, I witnessed policemen chasing cross-dressers. Transgenders have big problems in Malaysia. In Thailand, one of them manned a hotel front desk so competently, the guest had problems! Full essay.

13 April 2009

Abhisit declares emergency in Bangkok over Red Shirts

The political situation in Bangkok is deteriorating rapidly, as different forces act in their own interest. The crucial test to come may well be the army rank and file's loyalties. Full essay.

12 April 2009

From now on, be wary of AWARE

The group that recently seized control of AWARE, the women's group, is believed to have a religious, anti-gay agenda. Perennially laid-back liberals may now have a fight on our hands. Full essay.

12 March 2009

A heady mix: homosexuality and net videos

Web 2.0 has provided new ways of gay expression. Here are 10 examples of people using net videos to effect. None are from Singapore. The question is whether technical knowhow is enough to kickstart the creative and innovative use of technology, or whether something else, as old as time, is needed - the passion and desire to even have an opinion, and to have something to say. Full essay.

10 March 2009

Why arrested persons shouldn't have lawyers

Despite calls by the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore, the government is not agreeable to telling arrested persons that they have a right to a lawyer. This is not the only shortcoming in police procedures. Why don't Singaporeans care about this issue? Are we too eager to condemn people as guilty the moment they are arrested and conclude that since he must be guilty, why should accused persons have rights? Full essay.

08 March 2009

Manifesto checklist

Ten things I would like to see in a party manifesto, in line with my political beliefs. But would there be any party offering these ideas? Even if there was, would that party have a candidate where I live? Full essay.

07 March 2009

Singapore retreats on bank secrecy laws

Singapore's tax shelter status will be taking a hit as the republic relaxes its bank secrecy laws. The Financial Times reported, 6 March 2009, in "Singapore acts on bank secrecy laws" that:

Singapore’s finance ministry said it would amend its bank secrecy laws in mid-2009 to take account of the OECD’s standards on exchange of information. “Once the legislative amendments are passed in parliament, Singapore is prepared to negotiate and conclude double taxation agreements that will enable us to provide further assistance for exchange of information.” It said: “The decision ... is in keeping with Singapore’s role as a trusted centre for finance and a responsible jurisdiction, with strong and consistent regulatory policies and a firm commitment to the rule of law.”

The promised changes will allow foreign tax authorities to request information about suspected tax evaders, although Singapore said “information fishing” would not be allowed and there would be confidentiality and privacy safeguards, as allowed under OECD rules. Even so, its announcement will be applauded by other offshore centres that have lost business to Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew, modern Singapore’s founding father, told bankers the city-state could not escape the pressure being applied to Switzerland. “We must move with the flow,” he said.

Switzerland is under intense pressure from the US and the EU to dismantle its bank secrecy laws, on accusations that it is acting a a tax haven. UBS, in which GIC,one of two Singapore sovereign wealth funds, has a significant stake, agreed to a US$780 million fine in February 2009, to end a US government investigation into whether it had helped US clients evade taxes. As part of the settlement, the bank agreed to release names of US account holders to Washington's Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS is said to be interested in 17,000 to 20,000 cross-border clients, though whether this number will be released is not yet known.

A legitimate question to ask is whether GIC's faith in UBS, prompting it to buy into the bank late 2007, is misplaced. Besides the subprime and related losses, the very model of Swiss banking may now have a bleak future, a model that Singapore had hoped to emulate.

Yet, as recently as May 2008, strongman Lee Kuan Yew told Bloomberg that UBS and Citi have "very good franchises" and that in the long term, Singapore's investment should prove profitable.