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.

05 March 2009

One thousand

I am a liberal. What does that mean? What has that got to do with Yawning Bread and its readers? Full essay.

04 March 2009

Matt Alber: End of the World

Taking gay America by storm is what AfterElton.com calls the "insanely popular" music video by gay crooner Matt Alber, "End of the World", from his "Hide Nothing" album.

Here it is:

I thought he had an unusual way with his stressed high notes, and then found the reason why. He's apparently a trained classical singer, and not just a singer, but that rare breed called a countertenor. Here he is with an aria from Handel's Messiah:

What really happens when gay boys get intimate with men

We tend to see sex between gay boys and men through the filter of man-and-girl sex. We assume that the encounter has analogous characteristics, of exploitation or intimidation. That there's clearly a predator and a victim. Here's a scientific study by Bruce Rind. Full essay.

Jail as a solution for age-discrepant sex

Sentencing a woman to 10 months' imprisonment for an affair with a 15-year-old boy looks excessive, especially as the boy seemed to know what he was doing, and in fact wanted to continue the relationship even when she wanted to break it off. Full essay.

02 March 2009

Little green dot

Goh ZhiQian, in this guest essay, argues for Singapore to adopt a more environmentally sustainable approach to development. There are measures we can use to track performance. Guest essay.

Confess or we'll throw 377A at you

Even though the government has promised not to use Section 377A of the Penal Code in situations involving consenting adults, how many people know this? The police continue to threaten accused persons with 377A. Why do they do this? Full essay.

Seven months' jail for a kiss and a lick

ZQ was charged with four counts of sexual exploitation (Section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act). Here are the key details of this case. Was the sentence for the first count right? Full essay.

Beautiful, wonderful creatures make disappearing act, part 2

A Pamela Koh wrote to the Straits Times to complain about the cuts made to Sean Penn's and Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speeches at the Oscars. Mediacorp replied. Star TV also made cuts. Full essay.