30 June 2006

Homosexuality and the problem of scale

Too many people make efforts to screen homosexual orientation -- theirs and others -- from view. Others (scientists) don't even see homosexuality even when animals are doing it right before their eyes. But as gay invisibility among humans and animals start to fall away, there needs a rethink of the place of homosexuality in nature. Full essay.

The Straits Times as an educational tool

I point out a number of errors in an edition of the Straits Times, not because we should gloat about it, but to signal to ourselves how serious the language situation has become. It's a sad day when bad English creeps into the premier newspaper. It indicates that there is so much of it around us, all the filtering by editors still leaves a noticeable residue. Full essay.

28 June 2006

Keeping Singapore safe for families

Here's where we need to think critically for a moment about the sex industry. Why is this considered antithetical to "safe"? What images do we see in our minds when we raise the battlecry "families"? How much of our motivation is dogma, as opposed to real concern for real people? Full essay.

27 June 2006

Goh Chok Tong admits that GRCs are meant to skew

So that "capable" new candidates get an easy ride into office. GRCs are not only meant to ensure minority race representation but such distortions of fair elections are good for Singapore. Here is another attempt to paint true democracy as bad for us. Full essay.

25 June 2006

How George W Bush feeds Muslim cynicism

A survey in 15 countries found wide differences in perceptions and attitudes between Muslims and Westerners. Particularly notable was that a majority in 4 Muslim countries surveyed did not believe that Arabs carried out the September 11th al-Qaeda attacks. They just won't believe anything from the West. Yet the Bush administration feeds this high degree of cynicism by some of its own actions. Full essay.

23 June 2006

Religion in defence of male privilege

A woman head of a major church faces controversy. Why are most religious establishments closed to women? Nikah Misyar in Malaysia. How organised religions often resist social change, and how the state protects them from criticism. Full essay.

22 June 2006

Lee Hsien Loong not impressed by democracy in Australia

.... because they have a two-party system. Australian PM John Howard, says Lee, "spends all his time dealing with this party politics". Between Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, they come up with "policies that are detrimental to the nation." This is how our own Prime Minister goes about winning friends. Full essay.

21 June 2006

An appalling standard of English

There is a need to recruit teachers from abroad. In Singapore, we're surrounded by bad English; many teachers do not themselves speak the language well. The problem is compounded by how we teach English in schools as if it were the children's first language, when for most, the language needs to be taught as a second language. But how many teachers from abroad know how to teach English as a second language? Full essay.

18 June 2006

Stomping its way to.... where?

The Straits Times, like traditional print media in many countries, is losing readership. To "stay relevant" to younger readers, it has just launched a web portal called Stomp. But since there is no synergy between the Straits Times and Stomp, it's baffling how the portal can help reverse the newspaper's fortunes. Full essay.

17 June 2006

Football fan-dom, part 3

Survey respondents speak about over-commercialisation of sports with mass following, nationalism and cultural regimentation. And speaking of identity and loyalty, how do Singaporeans choose which teams to support anyway? Full essay.

Football fan-dom, part 2

Survey participants explain why following the World Cup matches is so much fun, especially if one is watching them amidst company. Full essay.

16 June 2006

Football fan-dom, part 1

During this World Cup season, it has been reported that as many as 1 in 5 men are taking leave to watch the games. Even outside of Cup season, many men follow sports, especially soccer, avidly. Why? And why is the following mostly male? Yawning Bread conducted a survey during the first 2 weeks of June, and here, I present a part of the results. Full essay.

13 June 2006

Courts must pay attention to the quality of justice

At what point does entrapment become illegitimate? The law on this has evolved considerably elsewhere, but do our courts even see this as an issue? In the same vein, why don't we compensate people who have been wrongly charged for criminal offences? Full essay.

Yet another exploitative story by the New Paper

Supposedly, the story was about a young doctor caught for possessing drugs, devoting 61 words to that court case. 745 more words were about gays, drugs, sex. This was just 3 months after an earlier New Paper story about gays, drugs, sex; and only 1 month after a story about gays, HIV, sex. Full essay.

09 June 2006

Signs of Singapore

In a city such as ours, we're surrounded by signs, promoting famous brand names, telling us there's a road detour ahead or asking us to donate generously to a charity. Among these are a few signs that are relatively unique to Singapore, either in terms of their message or the way they convey their information. These signs tell us we're not in any other city, but in Singapore. They're signs of our Singaporeanness. Photo essay.

07 June 2006

Interpreting the IPS voter survey

While I have my doubts about how representative the survey was, it nonetheless gave some useful findings. Relative to other concerns, many voters did think that having opposition parties represented in Parliament was among the most important of issues. Termed 'Pluralists' by researchers, these voters were more likely to be found among the middle and upper classes. What does this mean for opposition parties' programs and campaigning styles? Full essay.

05 June 2006

The propaganda of lies, the propaganda of spin

The 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, the dismissal of the 'Bak Chor Mee' podcast and George W Bush's latest campaign all draw our attention to different kinds of government propaganda, and why we should be alert to them. Full essay.

03 June 2006

From the electorate to the internet and back

BL's guest essay with his thoughts on the IPS post-election forum, held on 2 June 2006. In particular, he disucsses 'The evolving electorate' and 'The role of the internet', papers on which were presented at the event. Full essay.

IPS post-election forum, part 2

In the afternoon session of this forum, Derek da Cunha and representatives of 4 political parties gave their take on 'The future of the parties'. Terence Chong and Tan Tarn How discussed 'The changing nature of politics in Singapore'. Full Essay.

IPS post-election forum, part 1

In the morning half of the forum, Gillian Koh revealed results from a post-polling day attitudinal survey. Janadas Devan, Viswa Sadasivan and Ken Kwek discussed 'The future of the political system in Singapore'. Full Essay.

02 June 2006

The Mbeki Syndrome

South Africa has the highest HIV prevalance rate of any major country. It is said that its president is immobilised by denial. To admit the problem is to concede that black Africans are an irresponsible race. Crazy, right? But this kind of attitude can be found all over the world. In Singapore too? Full essay.