Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love and Biology

This is a short entry I found in my journal archives back in my journalism days:

I was doing some research for a story about the science of love and attraction, I realised something: the scientific community here is not quite interested in Romantic Love.

I was not able to get a scientist (apart from the social sciences) or a neurologist in Singapore to comment on what goes on in the brain and the body when a person is in love.

Perhaps I did not search hard enough, but if I had to spend more than a week to find such a person in Singapore, it would also indicate the amount of importance the research community gives to the study of romantic love.

In Singapore, we seem to be more interested in 'fertility' more than the stuff that leads to fertility. Young couples seemed to be more concerned with missing the biological boat than getting on the boat together with the love of their lives and enjoying the ride.

Have we as a society become too occupied with the practicalities of love that we have forgotten that it is a process and experience that is meant to be savoured, relished and, yes, sustained?

We always seem to be in a rush. We rush to get a job after graduating. Then we rush to get married. And then rush to have kids. We almost forget what the rush is for.

Social scientists often argue that social pressures should be reckoned with in the human psyche. Perhaps it is time we recognise that biology is crying out for us to let some love into society.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cancun COP16: Deal or No Deal?

So if the reports say that a deal was made in Cancun, but Bolivia has objected to it, and the UN mandates that ALL countries must agree to the text in order for the agreement to be sealed, how can it be called a deal?

Why is Bolivia so adamant about rich countries agreeing on a post-kyoto agreement anyway? That agreement is flawed in so many ways. Emissions have continued to rise throughout the Kyoto protocal period and it has failed to bring in the kinds of green technology that developing countries need most. Their CDM system is so complicated that even carbon consultants are themselves confused, much less the locals who don't speak English, and worse, techno-bureaucratic language.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Climate Change is not just about Carbon Emissions

Saw this pretty sweet short and concise video on which sums up pretty well, the other more pressing environmental issues in our region.

The problem with the current climate change discourse is that it is far too focus on carbon emissions. The Kyoto Protocal only addresses the problem of emissions. But climate change is so much more than that. It's about rising sea levels, water pollution, poor sanitation, basic utilities and a whole slew of other human development issues.

[Trailer] Children of Mekong - Asia's Water Woes from Logue on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rave Church: Getting High on Stupidity

Even the old man on the right is totally getting into the techno...walking stick and all...hahah!

Hilarious...21st Century Christianity for you.

<a href=";vid=079b2e78-efaa-463f-835f-60345aca9e0d&amp;from=en-sg&amp;fg=dest" target="_new" title="Techno Church Rave">Video: Techno Church Rave</a>

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chance Favours the Connected Mind

This is a brilliant lecture by Steven Johnson about where ideas come from: "the architecture of space where ideas can have sex"

Our offices should be designed based on this fundamental philosophy! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Generation Plasticine in Singapore

So the Flying Dutchman and his co-host were discussing on CNA Blog TV tonight whether Generation Plasticine has arrived in Singapore.

Generation plasticine is used to describe the new generation of youth that have emerged completely jaded, without passion and no drive to live life, be creative and pursue their dreams.

I have to say it was a little painful listening to the four youths they brought on set to debate for and against this notion. Granted, they are young - one still in uni, one just started working for the government barely 6 months ago, and the other two young entrepreneurs of sorts - and hence a little idealistic, but they clearly have no idea about the realities of pursuing one's passion in life and pursuing "dreams".

Living with passion sounds noble, courageous and romantic. But the reality of it is pursuing ones passion in life means lots of sacrifice; it means disappointing your parents because you won't settle for a "respectable job", buy a house and settle down; it means you will never have a stable relationship and possibly never find a life partner willing to share your nomadic life, much less your passion in life; it means you will lose friends along the way; and it means, most of all, that at the end of the day, you may fail and realise that your passion has been misled by romanticised notions of what your dream was suppose to be.

It is a lonely journey and the stories of people living out their passions in the media tell only 10 percent of the whole story where the success happens. It doesn't illustrate the full extent of struggle to get there. And the thing is, you're never really there either. Cos' by the time you do get there, you become a changed person. And when you do achieve some measure of success, you realise how far short you are of really achieving your dream in its true sense.

To pursue your passion means to abandon other things that you hold dear - your family, your friends (though new ones will come along), financial stability, physical comforts etc. Not everyone will respect you for what you do or the sacrifices you make. Some will even mock you or question you. It is not glamourous like Angelina Jolie going to Africa or Bono in Ethiopia.

It is a whole lot of hard work and lonely work. Many will come up to you, pat you on the back and say "you're doing great work. Let me know if you ever need anything." and never deliver on that promise. But out of the 10 people who do that, there will be the one who will keep their promise and go to Helms Deep to get you the help that you need. And those are the people that keep you going. At the end of the day, it may not even be the passion that drives life, but these people - people who give you as much hope as you give them - that drives life.

I read somewhere that the ancient Greeks will ask when a person dies if he lived with passion.

Passion is no driver for life because the goal gets rather hazy along the way. I only hope that when I die, I would have touched more lives than I have hurt; that I will be remembered for the little good that I have contributed to this world and forgiven the bad that I have done.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hey World (Don't Give Up)

What a lovely song by Michael Franti...Like his style!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index | Video on

This is a brilliant lecture. Some highlights:

Our national accounting system became fixated on how much we can produce. But "GNP measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile" - Kennedy

People all around the world want, money, health are not nearly as important as Happiness

Costa Rica has a life expectancy of more than 78 years; higher than US. 99% of their electricity is from renewables; they abolished the army in 1949; and they have one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Malaysia going Nuclear

So it's official. Malaysia, along with many of its Southeast Asian neighbours are going nuclear - what they consider to be part of the "green energy" family.

The New Straits Times reported today that the government has identified several sites, including one or two currently uninhabited islands, to locate Malaysia’s nuclear power plant.

Why are we investing so much money and expertise in a fuel that will 1) produce so much heat it will require a lot more water to cool, further adding to the lack of water for agriculture and basic utilities esp for the urban poor 2) produce a whole lot of toxic waste that we still don't know how to dispose of without poisoning our land and our people?

How nuclear power came to be regarded as a 'clean energy' is even more confounding.

And let me guess...the report says that these islands where the nuclear plants are going to be built, they're uninhabited, which means the natural life and biodiversity is pretty well preserved there. So we are once again going to deforest the land, kill off the life there, so we can built a "clean energy" plant that's going to poison us and the land even more...and for what? So that our factories can continue to increase production and present nice growth figures for the structurally poor to admire and hope to one day enjoy the fruits there of?

Oh please...give me a break! The idiocy is simply unfathomable.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Party Against Poverty III @ Timbre @ The Substation

Hi guys!!

I'm organising a third fundraiser party next Wed (28 July) for a
Medical and Nutrition Project for Burmese Street Kids in Thailand I started with some friends.

You can find out more about our project on facebook (join us here).

10% of all food and beverage sales from the night will go to our project, so just by being there you'll already be contributing to the kids.

Details of the fundraiser are:

Venue: Timbre @ The Substation [45 Armenian Street]

Date: 28 July (Wed)

Time: 6:30pm onwards


Our home grown local talents, Jack and Rai will be doing a special 30 min acoustic set from 8.15-8.45pm before their usual set just to support this project, so COME EARLY!!

After that, the full band will play another set from 9.15-10pm where they will do “DONATIONS BY REQUEST”. This means you can get song donation coupons from us in exchange for a donation to the project, and the band will play your song request. Our guys will be going around with the coupons and donation boxes.

10% of all food and beverage sales between 6-10pm from that night will go to our Medical and Nutrition project, so come ready to eat and drink loads!!!

Bring friends, spread the word and hope to see you there!


Carpe Diem

P.s. When you arrive just say that you're there for Party Against Poverty and they'll direct you to the reserved sitting area :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How about wakeboarding in Orchard Road

Wonder what will happen if we tried this in Orchard Road or Bukit Timah...heeeheee...

Eh Wakeboarders in Singapore!!! Wake up your idea!!! Give us some urban action leh!!! Lookin forward to the next flood! :D

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Orchard Wave

Nice one by Mr. Brown. I say this beats the ridiculous Youth Olympic Song hands down. They should have just commissioned Mr Brown to write the song and save us the national embarrassment we have to endure for the next few weeks.

I think it's rather condescending for the government to straight out say Singaporeans should not expect a flood free Singapore when they've been boasting all these years about their impeccable drainage system and risk planning foresight. Singaporeans don't expect a perfect government, but we don't appreciate an arrogant one either. Just admit your shortcomings where they exist, work on it and move on...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Singapore cuts funds to theatre company

True to the government's lack of tolerance to alternative views and social and political critique, they've cut funds to local theatre company, Wild Rice, for daring to do what theatre is suppose to do...(read ST article below)

At least they didn't shut the company down entirely...

NAC cuts funds to company

THE National Arts Council (NAC) has cut the annual grant given to local theatre company Wild Rice. It will get $170,000 this year, down from $190,000 the year before.

It is the lowest annual grant that the company has received from the council. Artistic director Ivan Heng says the council told him funding was cut because its productions promoted alternative lifestyles, were critical of government policies and satirised political leaders.

In April last year, Wild Rice staged an all-male version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, which had a sold-out two-week run at the Drama Centre. It was given an advisory of '16 years and above' by the Media Development Authority because of its all-male cast.

It also organises the OCBC Singapore Theatre Festival, a biennial festival showcasing local scripts, some of which take on political issues in a cheeky way.

Heng, 47, tells Life! he is disappointed with the council's decision. 'Shouldn't NAC be funding people's experience of theatre? What does support of the arts mean? What does moving into a more progressive society entail?'

He says he will continue to create works that are true to his beliefs. 'This is what artists do. We question how we live our lives in Singapore.'

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Party Against Poverty

Hey guys,

Want to party for a cause? Some friends and I started a medical and nutrition project for Burmese street kids and orphans in Thailand.

So we're hosting a party at Handle Bar next Saturday, 17 April, from 6pm to 1am to raise funds for the project.

In short, the project aims to provide 200 children with one year's supply of food, multivitamins, crucial medication and sanitary items.

10% of all beer sales that night will go to the project, so come with your beer caps on. It'll also be a good chance for you to meet like-minded people, have good quality conversation, and enjoy one of the most unique bar settings in Singapore.

For more information on the event and to join us, click here.

For more information on the project and who we are, click here: Party Against Poverty

Look forward to seeing you there! :)

Carpe Diem

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nestle responds to forest degradation

US firm queries Indonesian palm oil supplier

Jakarta, 25 March - US food company Cargill has become the latest multinational to demand answers from Indonesian palm oil giant Sinar Mas about claims it is devastating forests rich in carbon and wildlife.

Sinar Mas rejects claims of environmental vandalism but has been hit hard by image-conscious buyers Unilever and Nestle deciding to drop the company as a supplier in recent months in response to protests by Greenpeace.

Cargill said it had asked Sinar Mas to respond to Greenpeace’s allegations and had sought an investigation by the industry body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Cargill is keenly aware about the allegations made in December 2009 by Greenpeace about illegal forest clearance and the Indonesian palm oil company, Sinar Mas,” it said on its website.

When we became aware of the Greenpeace report we contacted Sinar Mas?s senior management and we have communicated to them that we are looking to them to address the issues in the Greenpeace report.

Additionally, we urged the RSPO board to review this issue. We are pleased the RSPO Board has instructed the RSPO secretariat to get a response from Sinar Mas to the allegations in the Greenpeace report.”

It said it expected answers from the company “by the end of April, 2010”.

If the RSPO validates the allegations of improper land conversion or illegal planting in deep peat land as alleged in the Greenpeace report and Sinar Mas does not take corrective action, we will delist them as a supplier,” it added.

Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART) president director Daud Dharsono said the company was trying to “verify” Greenpeace’s report.

We are in touch with Cargill to assure them that we do not develop on high carbon stock and high conservation value areas,” he said.

Clearing for palm oil plantations is contributing to the rapid destruction of vast tracts of Indonesian jungle, making the country one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nestle contributing to deforestation

Have a break? from Greenpeace UK on Vimeo.

This is an excerpt from a Greenpeace website:

We all like a break, so it's time to give orang-utans one. Nestlé uses palm oil in Kit Kat and many other products which is bought from suppliers that destroy rainforests in Indonesia to grow their plantations.

As a result, threatened species like orangutans are being pushed into extinction and huge quantities of greenhouse gases are being released, accelerating climate change.

Despite suspending direct contracts with Sinar Mas, Nestle continues to be involved in the destruction of Indonesia's precious rainforests by using Sinar Mas palm oil via other suppliers such as Cargill. You've also said that you can't yet rule out being supplied paper products from their notorious subsidiary Asia Pulp & Paper via third parties.

Sinar Mas continues to destroy rainforests for palm plantations despite the negative impact on the people and wildlife that depend on it for their survival, and despite the fact that it is accelerating climate change.

You use over 320,000 tonnes of palm oil every year, which goes into a range of well-known products, including KitKat. In the last three years, your use of palm oil has almost doubled according to your own figures.

As the world's largest food and drink company, Nestle should be using its influence to insist on changes in its supply chain that would have a real benefit for the rainforests of Indonesia.

Other multinational brands like Kraft and Unilever are working to exclude Sinar Mas products from their entire supply chain and are calling for peatland protection and a halt to further rainforest destruction. Nestle must now do the same, which means insisting that your suppliers, like Cargill, stop trading with Sinar Mas.

Nestlé have so far refused to stop buying palm oil from the worst suppliers, so it's time to make them change their minds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Enough with the affairs

Ok so Tiger Woods and Jack Neo had multiple affairs. And before that, the hyper-conservative British politician in Northern Ireland cheated on her husband with a boy half her age.

It happens, and it happens a lot because people marry the wrong person, married on a whimp, married on social pressure, or they plain and simple changed (or didn't).

This is life and this is human nature. You marry with both eyes open, and after that you keep one closed if you want it to last.

A friend once told me that guys marry the woman hoping she doesn't change, and women marry men hoping they will. There in lies the root of disappointed expectations and inevitable failure in marriage.

But who am I to speak. I'm not married. I'm not close to it and I certainly am not going to.

What's with marriage anyway? It's like marking your territory in the eyes of the law. What has the law to do with my personal life? As it is it's invaded enough of my personal space. It's unnecessary pressure to make sure the relationship works, otherwise there will be FINANCIAL penalties, as if the emotional ones are not enough.

In the past I can understand why the law had to step in because women were financially dependent on men. But we live in different times. In fact I know of many women who use the law to milk their ex-husbands for money.

This of course is not to say there aren't genuine cases. But seriously, if you want to be with the person, then be. Why let something that's meant to be between 2 people, become the State's business...and for the unfortunate Woods and Jack, it's now the whole damn world's business.

Give 'em a break. There are bigger things happening in this world.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Upping productivity in S'pore is absurd

I find the latest obsession with raising efficiency in Singapore as a "new economic strategy" rather absurd.

Productivity is such an elusive concept, and can be used as an excuse to shed more labour in place of machinery (to "increase productivity"), or make people work longer hours (not shorter) because the spreadsheets need to show that the department can now do 5 projects in one month instead of just 3 in the previous month.

In the end the segment of society that will lose out most are (as usual) the working class, blue collared, less skilled workers (and now increasingly the middle class skilled workers too) because they've been made redundant by machines and technology. But that's the whole point, because the government says it wants to make Singapore a service and financial hub, right?

The government also says they have a solution for that, which is more training and reskilling. Hmmm...That'll work just perfectly because a machine operator can totally be "reskilled" to be a service personnel or financial adviser. And by the way, you will be paid as poorly as before, if not worse, cos you'll have to work longer hours, and you don't really have the relevant working experience. But you'll have a nicer title and get to work in an air-conditioned room.

This productivity solution to Singapore's lack of competitiveness is a clear sign of the lack of innovation in policy thinking and an obsession with micromanaging the citizenry.

Now for my second gripe - the media.

I find it even more disgraceful that the papers went on for over a week, wasting page space singing the same government tune and reproducing the party line without giving alternative perspectives or any form of questioning whether this is what Singapore really needs.

It's not about criticising for the sake of criticism, but showing both sides of the coin like any good journalist would do. Where was the counter argument to this whole policy in the one and a half weeks of coverage? Who are the potential losers in this kind of policy and what do they have to say about it? What do the sociologists and political scientists have to say about it?

If the straits times wants to stop being seen as a government newsletter then it needs to stop acting like one. Or maybe that's just how it wants to be...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Homeless in Singapore - the real story

So while our dear mainstream newspapers went on about how much people have to pay for welfare housing last Sunday, they conveniently skirted about the bigger more pertinent question of why the hell there's been more homeless people in this country when the government's been boasting about fabulous growth rates.

The truth is, Singapore is one of the most unequal countries in the world! Our gini coefficient (the measure of inequality in the country) is even worse than China (reported in The Economist some months back)!!!

Anyway, The Temasek Review wrote a way more perceptive piece on the homeless situation in Singapore (attached below). Hopefully we will all be more informed about what's really happening in our society and not be so easily taken in by all the talk of "increasing productivity" and "securing healthy growth rates".

The Temasek Review, Singapore - 31 Jan 10

MCYS: Increase in number of homeless people in Singapore not linked to financial crisis

Written by Our Correspondent

More and more Singaporeans are becoming homeless, but there is no direct evidence to link this with the financial crisis, said the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

As of last year, 253 homeless people were picked up by MCYS officers, up from 123 in 2007 with more than half of them found sleeping in the void decks of HDB blocks. Most of them were sent to destitute homes where they get free shelter, food and clothes with curbs to their freedoms.

The actual number may be higher. Homeless Singaporeans, especially the elderly are ubiquitous throughout the HDB flats in Singapore.One need only take a tour at night to find them sleeping at the void decks, parks and even in the open:
The increase in the number of homeless people in Singaporeans coincided surprisingly with its high growth rate of between 5 to 8 per cent over the last decade which is fueled largely by the relentless influx of cheap foreign labor.

At the same time, the median wages of ordinary Singaporeans have remained stagnant at $2,600 monthly and the income gap between the rich and poor have widened. Singapore now has the highest income gap among the thirty most developed nations in the world.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, the ruling party’s liberal immigration policies have depressed the wages of ordinary Singaporeans, increased the cost of living, especially that of public housing, lowered labor productivity and led to an overall decline in the standard of living. (read article here )

While the poor has become poorer in Singapore, Singapore’s ministers have given themselves a big pay rise for their managing of the Singapore’s economy. A significant proportion of their multi-million dollar salary package is pegged to Singapore’s GDP growth – the higher the growth, the more money they take home.

When asked about the widening income gap in Singapore during a ministerial forum last year, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew dismissed it as an “inevitable” consequence of globalization and that it “matters little” so long the government continues to create jobs for Singaporeans.

Though Singapore is the second richest country in Asia after Japan and its two sovereign wealth funds Temasek Holdings and GIC can afford to lose millions of dollars overseaas, its citizens enjoy few social welfare benefits from the government.

Kishore Mahbubani, the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy wrote famously in 2001:

“There are no homeless, destitute or starving people in Singapore. Poverty has been eradicated, not through an entitlements program (there are virtually none) but through a unique partnership between the government, corporate citizens, self-help groups and voluntary initiatives. The state acts as the catalyst-matching financial support, sponsoring preventive and social care, and ensuring that basic needs are provided for.” (read here )

It is about time he retracts his statements and re-orientate himself to a new reality in Singapore.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Faces at the Border

Here some of the precious moments in Maesot I will always cherish. The children especially love the camera. It's the easiest way to get them to open up to you. When you whip out your camera, they will first be coy, then curious. They'll give you a side look, then inch closer to you and your lens, and finally they will smile and give a nice pose. And when you offer to show them a picture of themselves, their eyes light up, they'll run over to you and put their little eager fingers on your camera, and give you the best smile which you will never be able to capture on your camera.

Two delightfully mischievous boys from the Agape Boarding House, which is partly supported by an NGO called Room to Grow

Many of the children adopted at Agape are street kids. Some are orphans, while others were abandoned by their parents.

Young boys collect garbage for recycling and earn about 20 Baht a day - enough financial incentive to keep them out of school.

Just some men sitting at a promenade by the River Moie delineates the Thai-Burma border

Children playing at the playground in the refugee camp where I visited. This one had the sweetest smile ever.

Children in the refugee camp leaving their classrooms after school

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What good is being knowledgable if you're Stateless?

I have just returned from a trip to Mae Sot, a Thai-Burma border town where many illegal migrants from Burma live and work. Mae Sot is also full of foreigners working for various NGOs supporting these illegal migrant communities as well as the refugee camps in the surrounding areas.

I spent a couple of days in one of the camps and what I saw there, simply blew my mind away. Coming from Singapore, I had a certain perception of what refugee camps are like - dirty, unsafe, and full of idle people sitting around waiting to be resettled in the U.S. or waiting for handouts.

Nothing could be further from that. The camp was bustling with life. There were schools for the children and everywhere you go, you hear the sound of children reciting something in the classroom, or laughing and playing when the teacher's not in class.

There streets with little shops selling food, meat, veggies, nick nacks, CDs, DVDs (!!!) etc. There were tea shops that served the most amazing Yu Tiao (YES! They had yu tiao in a muslim tea shop!!) and teh tarik (though it was on the sweet side).

The camps were divided into zones and then districts and each district had a leader, and all the leaders would gather every month or more frequently to discuss problems and issues, sort out logistics and even disciplinary cases, and vote on the decisions to be made.

The whole camp was a fully functioning eco-system of trade, economy, eduction, recreation and social ordering. It was simply amazing.

The youth I met and spoke to were very well read. They had read about Lee Kuan Yew and they could tell me how great he was making Singapore a great nation out of nothing, especially when it comes to water. They knew very well what was happening in the world outside the camp, in the U.S., in Europe etc.

The basket ball courts and takraw courts you see around the camp were projects created, managed and funded by the refugees themselves. They even organise talent competitions, sporting events etc. These were highly motivated individuals, with a drive to make life as normal as possible in a situation that is far from normal.

My translator told me one evening over dinner that what I saw while in camp - the smiles, the positive energy, the optimism - all of that was a mask for a deeper internal frustration that many of them suffered because they are Stateless.

"Mentally, they are destroyed. Our morale is destroyed. Because we know we are nothing. We have no country. We cannot get proper jobs with no papers and no identity. Everything is no to us. We are just pawns in a big political game," he told me.

I couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt somehow. Here I was, a girl from a developed country, 10 years younger than him, earning 10 times more than him, buying him a dinner at a seafood restaurant that would have cost him an entire month's salary, and talking to him about how amazing I found life was in camp.

The few days in camp, was for me a novelty, a cultural capital that I accumulate through the stories I bring home and the photos I show off to my friends. It was part of my personal desire for adventure and out-of-the-norm type of traveling experience.

But for people like my translator, and all the kids I met in camp, that is their reality. That is their jail.

What did I have to offer them? Nothing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Loneliness is easier than Love

I have recently come to realise that loneliness is so much easier to deal with than love.

I'm quite happy to be sitting at a cafe by myself with a coffee and a book; or have a meal at the hawker centre on my own and chat up friendly old couples who are ever so happy to chat to youngsters (relatively speaking) like me.

I look at them and I wonder: how on earth did you guys stick together? And how on earth do you still look so happy together after so many decades together when I have friends who are barely married for 2 years and thinking they would die if they had to live another day with their husband/wife?

I've been lonely for the last 3 years. There have been times when I did wish I had someone to hold my hand, give me a hug and be my pillar of strength and wisdom. But I always had my girlfriends. Though it's not the same, they'd nonetheless hold my hand, give me a nice big hug, smack me across the head and tell me to quit whining.

When I compare the pain of loneliness to the pain of losing love or giving up a love that's not meant to be, I think I'll take loneliness any day.

Even the worst bout of loneliness can never be worse than the sick, twisted pang in your stomach when you see him walk by and not be able to talk to him; the feeling of words choking your breath you want to throw up; the oppression of just being in the same room as him even though you don't see him.

Give me loneliness any day. At least with loneliness, you can control it with your head. Emotions are their own master. They just make fools of us all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Responses to MM Lee's NatGeo Interview

Something I chanced upon...


The Temasek Review, Singapore - 1 Jan 10
CNA’s spin on MM Lee’s NatGeo interview, minus the “hide” remarks

Written by Our Correspondent

Stung by the massive outcry in cyberspace over MM Lee Kuan Yew’s disparaging remarks about Singaporeans, the state media moves into a damage control mode in a lame attempt to limit the fallout from the PR disaster by omitting the actual words used by Lee in the interview with National Geographic magazine in July 2009.

Though NatGeo journalist Mark Jacobson’s article which was based largely on the interview first appeared in the online version of the National Geographic magazine on 20 December 2009, it made the headlines only after The Temasek Review had highlighted Lee’s words 5 days later.
In an article titled “Social cohesion key to keeping Singapore going: MM Lee” published on CNA yesterday, Imelda Saad tried to lessen the negative publicity surrounding Lee’s message with a toned-down version:

“Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has expressed concerns over how the younger generation may be less driven compared to the growing number of foreigners in the country…..Mr Lee noted that if Singaporeans do not work hard, they may lose out.”

[Source: Channel News Asia ]

Channel News Asia is owned by MediaCorp, the sole broadcasting company in Singapore. It is in turn controlled by Temasek Holdings whose CEO is Ho Ching, the daughter-in-law of Lee.

Contrast this to Mark Jacobson’s passage in his article “The Singapore Solution”:

Over time, the MM says, Singaporeans have become “less hard-driving and hard-striving.” This is why it is a good thing, the MM says, that the nation has welcomed so many Chinese immigrants (25 percent of the population is now foreign-born).

He is aware that many Singaporeans are unhappy with the influx of immigrants, especially those educated newcomers prepared to fight for higher paying jobs. But taking a typically Darwinian stance, the MM describes the country’s new subjects as “hungry,” with parents who “pushed the children very hard.” If native Singaporeans are falling behind because “the spurs are not stuck into the hide,” that is their problem .”

[Source: National Geographic ]

Nowhere did Lee express his concerns about the younger generation. In fact, he said plainly that it is their “problem” if they are falling behind the Chinese immigrants.

If Mark Jacobson had misquoted Lee in anyway, he would have been sued for defamation a long time ago. Since Lee has not taken legal action against him, we can safely assume that Lee had meant what he said and the article is a fairly accurate reflection of Lee’s thoughts about Singaporeans and the new Chinese immigrants.

Furthermore, the words “less hard-driving and hard-striving” and “the spurs are not stuck in the hide” were indeed mentioned by Lee as recorded in the full transcript of the media interview as well.

It is unbecoming of Channel News Asia to deliberately distort the words of Lee in order to lessen their impact. Perhaps Lee had wanted to send a wake-up call to young Singaporeans who are getting “complacent”?

CNA should interview Lee and asked him to clarify what he has meant exactly in the interview instead of trying ways and means to twist and turn his words in order to salvage his embattled image.

In the past, Lee’s words would have gone unnoticed if the state media did not report on it. With the continued growth of the new media and socio-political news sites with a large readership like The Temasek Review, it is foolhardy to continue to practice self-censorship to pull a wool over the eyes of the people.

Note - the bold red words by Temasek Review