31 December 2007

Blogging is a criminal hobby, part 1

There are so many laws and regulations, the average blogger must surely be violating one or more of them. And they are vague too, so you can never be sure. Full essay.

27 December 2007

Happy to eat apart

Have you noticed that at some food courts, there are no more halal-certified stalls? Full essay.

25 December 2007

Supreme Court victory in Nepal

A gay group in Nepal obtained a favourable ruling from the country's Supreme Court, but what effect will it have? Full essay.

DIY self-portraits, part 2

Why it is important to zoom in, and why the camera shouldn't be closer than 2.5 or 3 metres. Full essay.

Tips for the vision-impaired

How to enlarge text and graphics to make it easier for yourself. Full essay.

23 December 2007

My mother's Christmas

Earlier this week, my mother was rushed, again, to hospital. I was prepared for the worst. Full essay.

20 December 2007

Futsal on International Migrants Day

A number of non-governmental organisations organised a friendly futsal competition for foreign workers and Singaporeans. Photo essay.

New highs in ministerial salaries, new lows in media credibility

The second phase of salary increases for ministers and top civil servants kicks in next month. What a relief it's finally done, says a letter writer to the Straits Times Forum. Full essay.

18 December 2007

After 24 years, passing through, speaking up

A former expatriate who helped grow the Singapore Arts Festival 24 years ago, came back for a visit while the gay debate was in progress. Guest essay.

Christopher de Souza's four rebuttals

Even though the parliamentary debate about Section 377A is over, it is necessary, for the record, to point out how poor are the arguments some MPs made, starting with Christopher de Souza. Full essay.

17 December 2007

Hady did Singapore proud, part 2

Interesting political angles from Hady Mirza's Asian Idol victory. Full essay.

16 December 2007

Hady did Singapore proud

Hady Mirza represented Singapore at the inaugural Asian Idol contest in Jakarta. With our small population, his chances may well be the slimmest, but he performed admirably. Full essay.

13 December 2007

DIY self-portraits

How to take some nice pictures of yourself, entirely by yourself, with an inexpensive camera. Full essay.

08 December 2007

What lurks beyond globalisation and capitalism

Driven by higher pay for the already well-off and flatter taxation, the income gap has widened across the world. Will this trend continue without end? Full essay.

06 December 2007

A skipped floor

Some years ago, I met this guy at a convention. His room was 2 floors below mine in the same hotel... Full essay.

03 December 2007

Who shall watch the Watchmen?

A young man is killed in a hate crime. But how is a hate crime (as distinguished from hate speech) defined? Does Singapore have a law against hate crime? Full essay.

02 December 2007

Migrants should be required to take English courses

After 40 years of getting Singaporeans to accept English as a neutral inter-ethnic link language, this achievement is under threat from new migrants from China. Singapore's majority Chinese need to understand how alienating this is to our ethnic-minority fellow citizens. Full essay.

30 November 2007

China's trade surpluses: disequilibrium and accommodation

China's trade surpluses are humongous, with both the US and the EU. Yet the solution is quite obvious, only difficult to implement. Full essay.

26 November 2007

Asean still toothless after 40 years

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations did its already crumbling reputation no favor by stiffing UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari at the last minute after he was invited to brief the 10-nation group on his mission to Myanmar. Though the 40th anniversary summit did make a big show of unity and ballyhooing its new (ineffective) charter, it was clear that by kowtowing to Myanmar's junta it is likely to remain a paper tiger for many years to come. Asia Times article.

Fees or fines, we make it all the easier

The MDA is a blundering fool in making its rap video, but is also a sinister force in its attempts to massage the news. Full essay.

25 November 2007

Enforcing racial and religious harmony

What are the laws in Singapore that can apply to inciteful speech related to race and religion? Do they have clarity? Full essay.

23 November 2007

Taxi problem the result of 3 deadly sins

Why is the taxi problem so persistent? Why do passengers complain there aren't enough taxis, and taxi drivers complain there aren't even passengers to make a decent living? Full essay.

It's the principle, stupid

Guest writer John Toh ruminates on marriage and the values we imbue it with. Why adhere to traditional forms of marriage when we have the capacity to think? Guest essay.

19 November 2007

Parliamentarians with nothing to say

Singapore boasts about being ahead in information technology. Funny, then, how few members of parliament maintain an active blog. Full essay.

18 November 2007

Open call for a bloggers' meeting

A government-linked body is conducting a review of internet regulations. Word from those who have participated suggest that liberalisation doesn't seem to be its aim.

This is an open call for bloggers to come together to discuss this issue and organise a submission representing their views.

There will be a brainstorming meeting on Tues, 4 Dec, and a drafting meeting on Tues, 11 Dec, at the Substation, Armenian Street. Both meetings start at 7 pm.

For more information, see here. Please come. And help pass the word out.

When the wind blows, thank the government

Is there anyone left in Singapore who still feels that free speech is a fundamental right? Three examples of censorship, each fortunately reversed. Full essay.

17 November 2007

A Rumsfeldian future

Singapore coasts along with a one party system. Our opposition parties have insignificant roles to play, and going by present efforts, won't be growing anytime soon. What if some unknown hit us in the future, and the government proves incompetent, or the unknown hits the government, paralysing it? Full essay.

13 November 2007

Flat jokes and dumb remarks

The Prime Minister says, to his audience's delight, that some opposition party candidates have gone "Awol". Another minister says we shouldn't "dumb down" our political system. Full essay.

12 November 2007

Minorities and state protection

How do we decide which group should receive state protection, or minority rights? And in any debate over this, what's wrong with identity politics? Full essay.

11 November 2007

Towards a human rights mechanism, part 2

On human rights, the Asean Charter contains motherhood statements and a joke of a monitoring or enforcement body. Full essay.

09 November 2007

Nasal straws in the wind

What does the threat letter to Thio Li-Ann really represent? What's the significance of 2 recent articles - in the Straits Times and Zaobao respectively? Full essay.

Too proud of our noose

Prof Michael Hor (NUS Law faculty) recently gave a talk, speaking out against the way Singapore uses the death penalty. Full essay.

02 November 2007

Dispelling heat, light and smoke

A guest essay by Kyle the vampire slayer, in response to Thio Li-Ann's parliamentary speech on Section 377A of the Penal Code. Guest essay.

Ake Green and the freedom to monger hate

When preachers and like-minded religionists say gay people are out to muzzle religion, the case of Ake Green is one of the examples they have in mind. Full essay.

29 October 2007

Robo Chan's short-lived happiness

Modern news is full of numbers and we are easily lulled into taking them at face value. Full essay.

27 October 2007

The limits of civility

Who was the mystery guy who wanted to desecrate Thio Li-Ann's grave? Full essay.

Stockholm and Gothenburg

Oh no, not holiday pictures! Well, not, since I wasn't holidaying there. But just a few photos with tales behind them. Photo essay.

26 October 2007

Non-repeal of 377A : Was it all a blunder?

The government hates having to wrestle with contentious issues, especially ones with religious undercurrents, yet it stumbled into a hot debate about Section 377A. Full essay.

21 October 2007

The loonies are marching

The anti-gay lobby has set up not one, not two, but 3 different websites calling for action over 377A. The third summons the faithful to a march. Full essay.

20 October 2007

Newspapers should beware of being shunned by the intelligent

Just looking at the stuff about 377A in the newspapers and the blogosphere, a trend becomes noticeable, and it's not an auspicious one for the mainstream print media. Full essay.

19 October 2007

Wednesday's little things

We make countless observations as we go about our daily business, but because we tend to mind our own business, we don't give much thought to what we see. Yet, little things can point to larger social trends. Full essay.

Singapore squirms as Burmese protest

This is a piece I wrote recently for The Asia Times, on how the expatriate Burmese community in Singapore and their local sympathisers experience the Singapore government's heavy hand. External story.

17 October 2007

When warnings go unheeded

It's getting harder for the government to ban public protests. People are increasingly likely to defy or circumvent warnings, and the cost of a crackdown is rising. Full essay.

15 October 2007

Straight thoughts on 377A

Sam, a university student, asks his friends to sign the petition to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code. Guest essay.

13 October 2007

Is there really a race called 'Malays'?

This guest piece by Michael from Malaysia looks at the inconsistent use of the term 'Malay', and how it is contested by the very people often classified as 'Malay'. Guest essay.

Southeast Asian royal families and West Asian links

A guest piece by Dreamhunter throws light into how, centuries ago, princes and mercenaries from West Asia found their way into the early royal houses of some Southeast Asian states. Guest essay.

11 October 2007

Black and blue

The New Zealand rugby team does a Maori haka before each match. What do the words mean? Full essay.

10 October 2007

Petition to the prime minister: repeal 377A now

An online petition is open until 19 October to ask the government to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code forthwith. Alas, too many signatories have chosen to use pseudonyms. Full essay.

Burma: don't rule out sanctions

If UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari is to have any influence, he must be backed by the possibility of economic sanctions. Asean must not shirk its responsibility in helping to make this threat meaningful. Full essay.

16 September 2007

On Otto, part 2

The mainstream press was a little slow to respond to the Otto Fong story. And when they did, they each took quite different positions. Full essay.

On Otto, part 1

Otto Fong, a science teacher at premier school Raffles Institution, writes an open letter on his blog saying he's gay. At once, the school and the Ministry of Education swing into damage control mode. But what damage? Full essay.

09 September 2007

Fun with FOI

Living in this political cocoon that is Singapore, not many people have heard of a concept called a Freedom of Information Act. Here are three examples of citizens in other countries attempting to use it to effect, not that they always succeed. Full essay.

06 September 2007

Rock, jazz and songbirds silenced

Singapore's cityscape is one of the most changeable in the world. We demolish and rebuild all the time. Sometimes protests are made when historical buildings are demolished, but more often, small things that don't seem that important, or are part of our everyday lives are lost too. Full essay.

04 September 2007

"It's a matter of time," says Lee Kuan Yew

In the latest interview with the International Herald Tribune, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew brings up the subject of homosexuality once again. Meanwhile a pastor fulminates against gay people. Full essay.

02 September 2007

Towards a human rights mechanism

There have been sketchy reports about Asean setting up a human rights commission. Will Singaporeans benefit from it? How can we ensure that? Full essay.

01 September 2007

Why would anyone rescue Singapore?

Lee Kuan Yew said our armed forces can withstand an attack for 2 - 3 weeks, but not a siege. Our survival depends on "an international environment which says that borders are sacrosanct and there is the rule of law." Meaning: we hope a powerful country would rescue us. Full essay.

30 August 2007

The Good News Times strikes again

The poor suffer more inflation than the rich, but you won't know this if you read a certain newspaper without examining the numbers closely. Full essay.

Religious affiliation of MPs

Here's a table showing the religious affiliation of members of parliament. While it may be interesting, by itself it shouldn't be read as meaning very much. Use with care. Full essay.

29 August 2007

Teacher's termination still unaccounted for

Two junior ministers beat around the bush when faced with questions in Parliament regarding the termination of a relief teacher and a ban on an opposition party's cycling event. Full essay.

27 August 2007

CPF and its creaky assumptions

As Singapore's economy changes, with structural unemployment and widening wage differentials, is the Central Provident Fund scheme still able to provide all the answers? Full essay.

23 August 2007

Cinema: Jesus camp

A documentary taking an inside look into an evangelical Christian summer camp for kids, where they are trained to be soldiers in "God's army". This film was a 2006 Academy Award nominee. Full essay.

19 August 2007

Singapore second last in Asia democracy index

The survey was conducted in 2005, but I've only just seen the book. This article fills you in on some of the details. Full essay.

18 August 2007

Race, religion and Negarakuku

A controversy in Malaysia over a Youtube music video raises a number of questions which Singaporeans too should think about. Full essay.

2 by 6

A couple was caught for absent-mindedly bringing in pornographic VCDs through the Tuas checkpoint. The VCDs weren't just seized. They had to spend a night in a police lock-up. Guest essay by Mitch Oldman.

17 August 2007

Police declare joggers an "illegal assembly"

The Pink Run had to be cancelled because the police turned out in force, declaring it a crime under the law. Full essay.

16 August 2007

Time travel via our roads

What's a landmark to one may mean nothing to another. We read our city in different ways. Full essay.

14 August 2007

Spirits from our past

For some people, observing the religious customs of the Seventh Month is important. Meanwhile, Royston Tan's new film '881' celebrates the getai culture. Full essay.

10 August 2007

Pity the heliconias

We speak of a 'Garden City' yet sacrifice our plants and flowers for a temporary night market. We speak of a 'City of Possibilities' while banning this and that. Full essay.

Death by numbers, part 2

The Straits Times required a letter-writer to eviscerate her letter before they would publish it, showing disrespect to accuracy and research citations. Full essay.

09 August 2007

Death by numbers

Alan Chin once more goes on his crusade against the "gay lifestyle" with pseudo-scientific aplomb. Full essay.

08 August 2007

Picking on a picnic

A "member of the public" alerted the Botanic Gardens to an 'insurrection' likely to erupt among its orchids, and a gay picnic was banned. Full essay.

07 August 2007

Public transport model needs a rethink

The Public Transport Council will require the bus companies to increase frequencies during peak hours. But instead of imposing new demands on existing operators, what about inviting new ones in? Full essay.

04 August 2007

Bark and crumble

The government banned the lecture I was organising for Prof Douglas Sanders on the topic of "Sexual orientation in international law: the case of Asia". But the real story is nothing at all like what their press release says. Full essay.

Letter to the people of Singapore

A gay Singaporean explains why he left. He also takes issue with the way the Methodist Church obsesses with homosexuality. Guest essay by John Toh.

03 August 2007

My kissing project, part 4

News of the ban went into the International Herald Tribune 2 days in a row and travelled around the world. Full essay.

02 August 2007

Lee Low Tar

Another work has been banned by the Media Development Authority. Lee Low Tar is a fictional metatextual romp by young writer Ng Yi-Sheng about an unnamed country's gerontophilia (the love of old men). Read it here.

Where to draw the line on marriage?

William B Kelley critiques the article by Tan Seow Hon in the Straits Times (30 July 2007). If the State permitted same-sex marriage, would it be imposing a certain morality on its citizens, or just being morally neutral? Guest essay.

01 August 2007

My kissing project, part 3

48 hours before the photo exhibition is scheduled to start, the Media Development Authority finally responds - by banning it. Come anyway. Full essay.

28 July 2007

Ian McKellen supports Indignation

Actor Ian McKellen leaves a video message for the gay community of Singapore, in which he expresses support for Indignation. Full transcript.

My kissing project, part 2

A photo exhibition needs a licence from the MDA. After 5 weeks, I still haven't heard from them, and the exhibition is due to start next week. Full essay.

27 July 2007

Homosexuality and the moral imperative

There is an important distinction to be made between morality and moralism, and one side of the debate is the moral one. Full essay.

26 July 2007

A more complex history of 'Malay'

Which was the first Malay kingdom? There were multiple Malay or quasi-Malay states a thousand years ago, and earlier still, Malay peoples could have covered most of Indochina. Guest article by Dreamhunter.

25 July 2007

Entertainment news: Ian McKellen

We follow him around as he spends his free time in Singapore, but the details aren't just drivel. It's a case study of how bad press about Singapore is generated. Full essay.

24 July 2007

Racial Harmony day

Racial harmony is important, but do we know how to foster it? Aren't we reinforcing ethnic identity and separateness in so many other things that we do? Full essay.

22 July 2007

$2,500 to rent a 3-room flat?

Such a transaction was cited by the Straits Times in its report, 'HDB rents at 10-year high'. But does it look credible? Full essay.

21 July 2007

Hong Kong court finds public sodomy law discriminatory

The territory's highest court struck down the law because it only applied to homosexual men. Sounds like our Section 377A doesn't it? For that one, our government has promised they wouldn't "pro-actively" enforce it. But how would our legal system wrangle with such a promise? Full essay.

This month, the Christian rightwing finds 3 more villains

The gay issue rumbles on as more people speak out for repeal, stirring up the rightwing again and again. They may well win their pyrrhic victory. Full essay.

04 July 2007

Invisible histories of our city

Tan Pin Pin's latest film, Invisible City, takes a peek at people who struggle against the odds to document parts of our collective history. They are up against many different obstacles but what they do makes us wonder about what we think we know. Full essay.

01 July 2007

Unintended consequences

Singapore is obsessive about planning, but sometimes, the planning is faulty or things just don't go according to plan. For better or worse, it adds a bit of chaos to this city. Full essay.

29 June 2007

A world without objective, impartial newspapers

The government says that it is critically important for Singapore to have mainstream media that report the facts impartially. That's why the mainstream media are regulated more tightly than cyberspace. But is it sustainable? Do blogs have historical parallels than can help illuminate what the future may hold? Full essay.

The peace faction has got it wrong

They all sound the same - these articles that say Islam is a religion of peace. How convincing can they be? How effective in the battle against extremism? Full essay.

13 June 2007

Changing the information landscape

With a Freedom of Information Act, we can know how a government decision was made, but it still does not give us any way to correct its behaviour. Or does it? Full essay.

11 June 2007

Teacher unaccountably terminated

When pressed for a reason, the Ministry of Education provided a mouthful of gibberish. Opacity in government hides mistakes, abuses and even corruption. Power must be balanced by accountability. That's why we need a Freedom of Information Act. Full essay.

09 June 2007

Creationism - a dangerous beast

Believing in creationism is not just stubbornly illogical, its propagation is also a threat to the public good. But does it not have the immunities we grant to religion? Full essay.

05 June 2007

Lina Joy case holds lessons for Singapore

Look carefully at this celebrated Malaysian case and you'll see legal questions that resonate with our own experience of law and bureaucracy in Singapore too. Full essay.

03 June 2007

My kissing project, part 1

I am embarking on a project taking photographs, with the aim of putting them up in a small exhibition. But something tells me this is going to run into censorship problems wth the state. Full essay.

02 June 2007

Watch out for the big men

Veteran opposition politician J B Jeyaretnam wants to form a new party to push for reforming Singapore's political system. Are his chances of success good? Full essay.

26 May 2007

Why Section 377A is redundant

Looking at the cases unearthed by Mohan Gopalan showing how Section 377A has been used in the past, two things stand out: some should not have been prosecuted, while others could have been prosecuted under other laws. We never needed 377A. Full essay.

Heftier list of s.377A cases

A law student contributed this huge table listing the prosecutions made under Section 377A of the Penal Code (gross indecency between males) during the last 15 - 16 years. Guest contribution.

24 May 2007

UNSW follows Warwick University out

"One of the things we'd learnt... is that geography is really important," said Fred Hilmer, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales. What kind of geography? Full essay.

Harmless traits can be criminalised, says minister

Minister of State for Education Lui Tuck Yew told students that even if homosexual orientation is inborn, even if it causes no harm to others, it is still legitimate to criminalise its expression, since "a major segment of society is [not] ready to move." Dislike is enough to overturn equality and civil rights - goes his argument. Full essay.

21 May 2007

God, morality and Haidt

Chua Mui Hoong said that while religion can inform one's beliefs, God should not be brought in to the public debate about morals. But it hasn't, has it? Full essay.

20 May 2007

Mediacorp's survey on decriminalisation

62 percent of Singaporean "heartlanders" want to keep homosexuality illegal. Of those under 30, "four in ten" feel the same way. Full essay.

19 May 2007

From City Hall to the Gaza Strip and back

A committee chairman resists stepping aside even when others have pointed out potential conflict of interest. The slippery slope to corruption begins with such lack of rectitude. Full essay.

08 May 2007

Lost in a fog of fear

Amid the noise made by the fundamentalist fringe, has anyone noticed that the heartlander Chinese majority don't seem to care very much whether the anti-gay law stays or goes?

Go to the main Yawning Bread site (www.yawningbread.org) to read the full essay. There seems to be something wrong with Google-blogger - I'm unable to put in a hyperlink from here.

Singing, voting and the unknowables

It's arguably the greatest voting exercise on earth, a huge experiment in popular democracy. But data about people's behaviour is scarce.

Go to the main Yawning Bread site (www.yawningbread.org) for the full essay. Google-blogger is wonky; I can't create a hyperlink from here directly to the article.

Rebutting Yvonne Lee, part 3

Caleb Yong writes in response to Yvonne Lee's May 4th article in the Straits Times: "It is unfortunate that she does not consider the citizenship of homosexuals".

Go to the main Yawning Bread site (www.yawningbread.org) for the full letter. Google-blogger somehow does not allow me to create a hyperlink from here.

The battle of St James - rebutting Istyana

Koh Jie Kai points out the even bigger flaws in Istyana Putri Ibrahim's letter published in the Straits Times on 3 May 2007, headlined 'Gay acts harm no one' argument flawed'.

Go to the main Yawning Bread site (www.yawningbread.org) for the full guest article. Google-blogger is currently, well, flawed - I can't create a hyperlink from here.

Rebutting Yvonne Lee, part 2

Ooi Jian Yong gives a rebuttal from legal perspectives to Yvonne Lee's article 'Decriminalising homosexual acts would be an error' which appeared in the Straits Times on 4 May 2007.

Go the main Yawning Bread site (www.yawningbread.org) to see the full piece. Google-Blogger is currently wonky and I cannot create a hyperlink from here.

Rebutting Yvonne Lee, part 1

Jireh Tan tried to engage Yvonne Lee in correspondence after the latter's article 'Decriminalising homosexual acts would be an error' appeared in the Straits Times, 4 May 2007.

Go to the main Yawning Bread site (www.yawningbread.org) for this guest contribution. Google-blogger seems to be wonky and I can't create a hyperlink from here!

05 May 2007

New scare tactic: religious strife

I noticed that the fundamentalist lobby is beginning to use the scare tactic of racial and religious conflict to argue their case for keeping the anti-gay law. Such nonsense must be nipped in the bud. Full essay.

04 May 2007

Queen to K6

A law lecturer steps into the fray. mouthing the usual long-discredited arguments against decriminalisation of gay sex, in an article in the Straits Times. Full essay.

Fall of the BP chief, parts 1 and 2

The Straits Times headline said "BP chief quits over gay affair". Ooh scandalous. Upright corporate titans shouldn't be gay, if caught out they must quit, right? But that headline notwithstanding, was that really why he quit? Plus further thoughts on freedom of speech, prostitution, etc. Full essay.

29 April 2007

Rage in safe Singapore

One man dead, another in a coma. A teenager in hospital with his face nearly unrecogniseable. Violence is a symptom of social breakdown. Are we paying attention? Full essay.

27 April 2007

Indiana billboard vandalised

The billboard had said, "Jesus affirmed a gay couple". Hmmm... is that really so? I asked myself. Guest essay.

Digging into foundations is mischief

The excavations at Sanxingdui are raising subversive questions about the linear narrative that tends to dominate Chinese history. Singapore too promotes a linear narrative. Anyone doing excavations of Singapore's political history? Full essay.

25 April 2007

Highly paid moral weasels

Lee Kuan Yew told Reuters that "eventually" the anti-gay law will have to be changed. Why "eventually"? Full essay.

23 April 2007

The oracle from St James

Lee Kuan Yew talks about homosexaulity and the "inevitable force of time and circumstance", but what exactly is he saying? Full essay.

Some get married, others get raped

Gay news from around the globe in the last 2 months includes the first gay civil union solemnised in Mexico City, but also kidnap and torture from the Third World. Full essay.

20 April 2007

Gobsmacking days

We are all prone to foolish associations and categorisations, but it's less forgiveable when corporations don't realise it, resulting in culturally biased questions. Full essay.

16 April 2007

How a traffic jam began

All because a bus driver wouldn't take responsibility for taking a detour that circumstances called for. The "cover-your arse" syndrome at work. Full essay.

15 April 2007

Beware being caught out when the tide turns

Opposition parties risk being left behind as public opinion on Section 377A of the Penal Code (the part criminalising gay sex) changes, writes Charles Tan. Guest essay.

Defending the national scripture

Another of Martyn See's films is banned. In the latest one, an ex-political detainee, Said Zahari, protested that he had not been a communist in 1963 when he was arrested, but why must a historical question be subject to bans? Full essay.

05 April 2007

Cinema: Two stories from the slums

The blossoming of Maximo Oliveros by Aureus Solito from the Philippines is an accessible family drama that warms the heart. I don't want to sleep alone by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang is his usual bleak and spare art film, with a surprisingly tender core. Full essay.

03 April 2007

Ministers get pensions too

... in addition to their high salaries, and in a way that may well be "uniquely Singapore". Full essay.

01 April 2007

Lights, action..... and cut

More examples of petty censorship in action by MDA as well as self-censorship by Mediacorp. Some clauses in the MDA's Free-to-air TV Program Code you might not have noticed. Full essay.

29 March 2007

Singapore government promotes obscenity

How else would one describe the proposal to raise already high ministerial salaries by a further 55 percent? Full essay.

27 March 2007

Compensating for a frustrating neighbourhood

Asean's going nowhere. The barrier-free common market remains a distant dream. Can Singapore remain a prosperous place in an unco-operative neighbourhood? Full essay.

25 March 2007

Bye bye, musical fountain

Sentosa's musical fountain has to make way for a casino and integrated resort. Some pictures before it goes into history. Photo essay.

23 March 2007

Don't infect the state with religion

Gregory Paul, in a 2005 study, suggested a correlation between a society's religiosity and social ills. Looking at our Malay community. How secular should a 'secular state' be? Full essay.

20 March 2007

Life in construction

Uncaring supervisors at construction sites put workers in danger. But sometimes, supervisors get laid off too. Full essay.

17 March 2007

The good ol' days of jail and caning for immorality

We forget easily. It wasn't that long ago when the police routinely went out to entrap gay men. Three news stories from 1990 - 1993. Full essay.

16 March 2007

Will ours be an overcrowded city?

Many people are concerned about overcrowding should Singapore's population hit 6.5 million. Should they be? What can be done to mitigate any reduction in the quality of life? Full essay.

14 March 2007

Sandstorm masks politics of diversion

Indonesia has banned the export of sand to Singapore, dealing a blow to our construction industry. Was it really for environmental reasons, or, as some officials have said, to pressure us over the extradition treaty? Full essay.

13 March 2007

Criminalise lesbianism, say Church leaders

The National Council of Churches wants the government to be consistent. Since homosexual acts are "sinful and abhorrent" according to their faith, so not only gay males sex but lesbian sex too should be a crime. Anal sex by heterosexuals is OK, though. Full essay.

11 March 2007

Forgotten markers of history

Various periods of our past have left marks on the land from big holes in the ground to statues above ground. Here are five, each telling a little story about Singapore's history. Photo essay.

07 March 2007

Race, religion and the sinicisation of Singlish

Singlish as a used language evolves all the time, but the more recent changes are often influenced by Chinese, not Malay. To discuss this leads to a discussion about race. But why should race (and religion) be taboo subjects, as some figures in authority suggest? Full essay.

04 March 2007

Gays should support censorship, says Andy Ho

The Straits Times writer strains to make a case why gay men should support the ban on Leslie Kee's book SuperStars. Full essay.

01 March 2007

Incredible wife makes disappearing act

Oscar winner Melissa Etheridge's words were edited out by Mediacorp's Channel 5. Perhaps they were too 'global' for our provincial minds? Full essay.

26 February 2007

6.5 million will make a different Singapore

Expecting 2 million more immigrants, should Singaporeans be fearful for their jobs? Are Singaporeans able to adapt to the social changes to come? Full essay.

17 February 2007

Breeding intolerance

Between law and religion, people find cause to behave badly. Full essay.

15 February 2007

Research controversy risks Singapore's credibility

Biomedical research has to be a long term investment. To change course so soon after persuading scientists to relocate here, and even before our own PhD candidates sent abroad have returned, will signal an unacceptable degree of fickleness. Full essay.

11 February 2007

Mismeasuring the press

Kishore Mahbubani said even in the West, there are OB markers and limits to press freedom, thus suggesting that press freedom rankings are meaningless. Full essay.

09 February 2007

Workers' Party shies away from the gay issue

At a forum on 3 February, the Chairperson of the party was asked what its stand was regarding the retention of Section 377A in the Penal Code. Full essay.

07 February 2007

Love Airways flies nowhere, Shortbus may not arrive

A locally-produced magazine that is sold within a plastic wrap turns out to be incredibly tame. On sex censorship, Singapore is so behind. Full essay.

04 February 2007

Perspectival shift and capital punishment

Recently, quite a few bloggers have laid out their arguments for and against capital punishment, and the appropriate extent of its deployment, but to what degree do logical arguments move people to form/change their opinions? Full essay.

02 February 2007

Après nous, les militaires

It's been suggested that should the People's Action Party rot from within and fail to provide good government, the most likely outcome would be a military coup. Is this a better prospect than having an opposition party take over? Full essay.

01 February 2007

The republic of endless malls

Jon Harris spent 6 weeks in Singapore late 2006. Here are his chief impressions of our city-state. Guest essay.

27 January 2007

Performing law

The conveyor belt takes Tochi to the noose. Is the claim that the death penalty is a deterrent meaningful? Full essay.

26 January 2007

Renckens' wrenching idea

A Catholic priest in Singapore wrote an article suggesting a rethink of the Church's position on homosexuality. A flood of negative responses ensued. What do they show about the respondents' state of mind? Full essay.

25 January 2007

Catholic adoption agencies demand exemption from serving gay couples

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in the UK wrote to PM Tony Blair over the Equality Act, threatening to close Catholic adoption agencies rather than serve gay couples as required by the non-discrimination provisions of the new law. Full essay.

22 January 2007

Half of younger Singaporeans consider homosexuality "acceptable"

From their survey of 800 people under 30 years of age, the Singapore Polytechnic found that 50% said homosexuality was acceptable. How did it get that way? Full essay.

20 January 2007

Saint Jack slays two myths

This 1978 film is valuable to us, adding to Singapore's cultural capital. The saga of this film is also instructive. Full essay.

17 January 2007

The youthful and the idealistic: The University of Malaya Socialist Club in history

In this guest article, Loh Kah Seng recounts the significance of an example of student activism in Singapore. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Socialist Club played an invaluable role in raising political consciousness, at a time when Singapore's political future was in flux. Guest essay.

Sir, may I have the can please?

Economists at a recent conference pointed out that Singapore seems to have a dual economy, with the domestic sector much more sluggish than the globally-oriented one. They warned of social instability to come. Two recent encounters with the destitute suggest that society may already be fraying at the edges. Full essay.

16 January 2007

Why non-violence is not mischief

Charles Tan looks at the way others have used non-violent civil action to press their points of view, and wonders why Singaporeans dismiss this strategy. Guest essay.

12 January 2007

Temasek Holdings stews in familiar juice

Temasek Holdings appears to be caught in difficulties arising from Thailand having a law that wasn't enforced for convenience until politics changed the game, but the Singapore government has no right to complain as it is just as keen on such fudges. Full essay.

07 January 2007

The eye that popped up from nowhere

Virtually out of the blue, a giant ferris wheel was set up and inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur, giving Malaysia a headstart over the Singapore Flyer. Full essay.

06 January 2007

Man at faregate refutes creationism

Three incidents relating to metro transport illustrate how humans think. Unfortunately, the process sometimes does not yield workable results. Full essay.

03 January 2007

We are all collaborators now

There is a common link between the relatively tiny problem of how to enforce a smoking ban on eating places and a key mechanism of totalitarianism, which is to get ordinary citizens to exercise control over each other on behalf of the government. Full essay.

02 January 2007

New Year fireworks

Fireworks are always an enjoyable challenge to photography enthusiasts. Last year's attempt didn't turn out well. This year? Photo essay.