30 May 2008

The second Burmese conversation

Six months after I met with a group of Burmese to explore their feelings about the snuffed-out monks' protests last September and October, much has happened in their country, not least Cyclone Nargis and the generals' preoccupation with a referendum. What were their feelings now? Full essay.

The displacement of reason

On 15 May 2008, I spoke at a Catholic forum titled, "What's wrong with homosexual acts? Viewpoints from psychology and societal implications". You shouldn't be surprised at the theme. Religious forums tend to be like that - not so much an open-ended enquiry to search for answers, but an exercise in shoring up the faith. Here, for the record, is the (long) full text of the talk. Complete text.

27 May 2008

Seminar on Internet regulatory reform

Organised by the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University

"The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open" -- Gunter Grass

Are Singaporeans satisfied with the state of internet regulation as existing? If not, what changes do we wish to see and how can a bottom-up desire for reform translate into policy review?

Can Singapore afford the political and social costs of free speech? Is there a contradiction between wanting freedom for political speech and controls over social speech?

Is technology really in the driver’s seat? Are governments powerless in the face of a global internet?

  • Guest speaker: Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Dep. Dir. Institute of Policy Studies
  • Presentations by members of the Bloggers’ Group for Internet Deregulation
  • Chaired by Asst Prof Cherian George, Wee Kim Wee School, NTU

Date: Saturday, 21 June 2008
Time: 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Venue: URA Centre, Maxell Rd, Function Hall, Level 5 (See map below)
Admission: Free
Media: Open to reporting

To register, please send an empty email to irr-singapore-subscribe@googlegroups.com

You will get an email response asking you to confirm your subscription to the Googlegroup. Please do so; this will allow us to compile a registration list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by sending an email to irr-singapore-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com . In any case, you will not get mail from the Googlegroup unless there are urgent notices regarding the seminar.

26 May 2008

From Azerbaijan with camp

The wonders of singing competitions: Eurovision 2008 and American Idol Season 7. Full essay.

24 May 2008

Where are we now with stem cell research?

Private funding has dried up. The whole project is now virtually all government-funded, with great dollops of cash. Payback is at best decades away. Here's another long-term investment with public money, but also one with not much accountability. Full essay.

23 May 2008

We're prepared to listen, says government

Vivian Balakrishnan says the government is open to contrarian views... but follows that with a list of ifs and buts. Meanwhile, other news reports reinforce the common view of a heavy-handed government. Full essay.

Cuba holds anti-homophobia event

The communist government in Havana backs a campaign for gay equality despite the lingering influences from Catholicism. In Singapore however, a Catholic forum saw a rather frenzied attempt to prove homosexuality an illness. Full essay.

22 May 2008

The unnatural afterlife of the Section 377A debate

In August last year, Prof Douglas Sanders was banned from giving a public lecture in Singapore about anti-gay laws throughout former British colonies. This week, he is here, giving the exact same talk at the National University of Singapore. Full essay.

20 May 2008

Long term investments or long shots?

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, the GIC, invests for the very long term, but the news in the short term can be quite unnerving. On Citigroup and the Old Lane hedge fund, and on Shincorp. Full essay.

18 May 2008

Burma should be suspended from Asean

With such callous disregard for the humantarian crisis following cyclone Nargis, are the Burmese generals committing a crime against humanity? Since Asean has no influence on them anyway, we should signal our moral outrage and suspend them from the organisation. Full essay.

16 May 2008

Gay marriage victory in California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples. The state thus becomes the second in the US to offer same-sex marriage after Massachusetts. Full essay.

12 May 2008

Stop demolishing, start integrating

Tan Mingjuan calls for a rethink of urban planning policies in Singapore. What kind of city do we - and the new talent we hope to attract - want to live in? Guest essay.

11 May 2008

Hong Kong broadcasting regulator's decision overturned by court

While our Media Development Authority runs amok imposing fine after fine on TV stations for the slightest trace of homosexuality, in Hong Kong, when their broadcasting regulator tried to do the same, they were slapped by the court. Full essay.

09 May 2008

Here's proof: Section 377A being enforced

A man has just been charged under Section 377A, our anti-gay law. This, barely months after the prime minister suggested that gay citizens have nothing to fear from the law. Full essay.

08 May 2008

In the eye of the cyclone stands immobile the junta

Two kinds of shocking news are coming out of Burma: the scale of the disaster in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, and the slowness and resistance of the military regime to outside help. Full essay.

IDAHO - International Day Against Homophobia, 17 May 2008

MICA acknowledges the internet proposals submitted

K Bhavani, the Press Secretary for Lee Boon Yang, the Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, sent an email in reply to the group of bloggers who had submitted a set of proposals for internet deregulation, on 5 May 2008. She said:

Dear Mr Au

My Minister would like to thank you and your blogger friends for the effort in putting up the proposals for Internet deregulation which you had emailed to him on 20 April 2008.

MICA is well aware of the fact that Internet and new media technology have evolved by leaps and bounds since we introduced our light-touch approach in 1996. Back then, MICA had recognised the potential growth and impact of the Internet, and the tremendous opportunities and benefits that it will bring to all of us. We were also wary of its negative aspects. Hence, our response to the Internet was to take a balanced light-touch approach. Our intent with this light-touch approach was to foster the growth of the Internet and to enable us to exploit its vast potential while safeguarding our society from its undesirable aspects. That 79% of our households subscribe to broadband and many Singaporeans especially the younger citizens own a blog or participate in some form of new media clearly show that the light-touch approach had not been without merit.

To keep up with the fast-evolving new media landscape, we have been reviewing our light-touch approach and are considering how we could take a lighter touch approach. We have appointed the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) in April last year to study the new media and how best to refine our regulatory framework.

We will consider the views expressed in your proposal and other feedback in our review.

Yours sincerely

Press Secretary
to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts

06 May 2008

The pigeons are among us already

What is the point of having rules and penalties governing internet speech relating to race, religion and sex, when the technology is borderless? In any case, why SHOULD there be all these rules? The case for more free speech. Full essay.

04 May 2008

Guilty until proven innocent: the case of William Ding

Characterising the prosecution's case as "fraught with serious internal inconsistencies and irreconcilable material contradictions" an appeal judge acquitted William Ding of molesting 2 teenagers. But why was such a weak case even launched, dragging on for 3 years? Full essay.

03 May 2008

Packable politics and its press

On command, the issue of the alleged terrorist's escape was packed away from the mainstream media. This ability of a government to manipulate headlines leads to great risks for the country. Consider, for example, the question of Singapore's 11 billion Swiss Franc investment in UBS.... Full essay.

01 May 2008

HIV hits new high. Solution: punish

Singapore's HIV rates are high compared to neighbouring countries with similar standards of living. Even as infection rates climb, the government has no new ideas. Full essay.