Friday, June 22, 2007

We can change the nation

Change has to start with the individual doesn't it? If everyone waits for everyone else to start a momentum of change, will change eventually happen?

Do the people of Singapore actually want change? And if change does happen, there will be people advocating and triggering that change right? If if you feel that Singapore needs some change, will you be that person, one among many like minded people, contributing to that momentum of change? Or are Singaporeans narcissistic or apathetic by nature? Have many of us Singaporeans "learned to be helpless"?

Learned Helplessness
Martin E. P. Seligman together with his colleagues discovered this phenomenon in 1965.

If ringing bell or tone is repeatedly paired with this presentation of food, a dog salivates. Later, all you have to do is ring the bell and the dog salivates. However, in Seligman's experiment, instead of pairing the tone with food, he paired it with a harmless shock, restraining the dog in a hammock during the learning phase. The idea, then, was that after the dog learned this, the dog would feel fear on the presentation of a tone, and would then run away or do some other behavior.

Next, they put the conditioned dog into a shuttlebox, which consists of a low fence dividing the box into two compartments. The dog can easily see over the fence, and jump over if it wishes. So they rang the bell. Surprisingly, nothing happened! (They were expecting the dog to jump over the fence.) Then, they decided to shock the conditioned dog, and again nothing happened! The dog just pathetically laid there! When they put a normal dog into the shuttlebox, who never experienced inescapable shock, the dog, as expected, immediately jumped over the fence to the other side. Apparently, what the conditioned dog learned in the hammock, was that trying to escape from the shocks is futile.

Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which an animal has learned to believe that it is helpless. It has come to believe that it has no control over its situation and that whatever it does is futile. As a result, the animal will stay passive in the face of an unpleasant, harmful or damaging situation, even when it does actually have the power to change its circumstances.

people in a state of learned helplessness view problems as personal, pervasive, or permanent. That is,
* Personal - They may see themselves as the problem; that is, they have internalized the problem.
* Pervasive - They may see the problem as affecting all aspects of life.
* Permanent - They may see the problem as unchangeable.

So have many of the apathetic Singaporeans learned to be helpless? Have Singaporeans been conditioned just like the dog in the above paragraph?
"aiyah what can we do, just follow gahmen loh" A common line used by many Singaporeans, even if they are unhappy with the polices made by the ruling party.

What is learned can be unlearned and we as Singaporeans need to unlearn this form of helplessness or helpless mentality.

“Peasants don’t care for much else except a bowl of rice on the table, a roof over their heads, and the chance to go out to the rice fields to do the daily back-breaking chores day in day out.”

If you are voting with only your rice bowl occupying your thoughts, does that make you a peasant? Understandable mindset for a developing country, but for a government that claims to be first world, shouldn't the people be thinking citizens with 1st world mentalities?

If we are a first world nation, should the prevailing standard of living be on par with other 1st world nations if not better?

SDP: Give us back our CPF savings

Something from the SDP that I totally agree with, hence I'm pasting it here.

"Media Release: Give us back our CPF savings

21 Jun 07

And the scheming continues.

The raising of the CPF withdrawal age to 65 is nothing more than another ploy to delay returning the people’s hard-earned savings.

The reason advanced for the change, that Singaporeans are living longer than before, is as lame as it is ludicrous.

When workers retire and need a source of income, telling them that they cannot use their savings because they are living longer makes as much sense as telling a man dying of thirst that he can’t drink his water because he’ll need it later.

Whether they are in their 60s, 70s or 80s senior citizens need their retirement savings. How they budget their funds to last them through their remaining years is none of the PAP’s business.

Worse, with the way the political system is what's to stop the PAP from raising the withdrawal age to 70 and beyond?

Think about it: The elderly are told that they have to continue to work – and for less pay, the GST is raised to 7 percent, hospitals and polyclinics raise their charges and now the withdrawal of the CPF savings is further pushed back.

With a government like this, who needs robbers?

This continual change of the withdrawal age coupled with the Minimum Sum Scheme, which allows the Government to return the savings to retirees in small monthly instalments, effectively means that Singaporeans will never fully get back their savings.

This has a pernicious side-effect. Seeing that the Government has no intention of returning their CPF savings, Singaporeans will resort to using whatever funds they have in their Ordinary CPF Accounts to pay for their HDB mortgages.

In other words, the sizes of their flats they buy will depend on the size of the monthly CPF contributions, not on whether they can afford it.

As it is Singaporeans are already putting in a worryingly high percentage of their income into housing, not by choice it should be added, compared to people in other countries. This leaves them little or no savings for retirement.

Of course the Government loves such an arrangement, it further engorges the its already corpulent pockets.

A recent survey conducted by the AXA Insurance Group revealed that while Singaporeans are the world’s biggest savers, they have the least amount of funds for retirement. Now we know where all the money is going to.

With a system as opaque and unaccountable as the one that presently exists, continuing to allow the PAP to retain our CPF savings is a dangerous arrangement. It is, however, one made in authoritarian heaven.

The people need to fight back.

Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party"

What happens to me when I come of that age, provided I do live that long. Will the age of CPF withdrawals be raised to 80 by then? I'll be 80 in 50 years, what happens then? Do I keep the faith that I will be well taken care of? And that me and my peers will be taken care of?

Do I stick around to find out or should I seek greener pastures? Or do I stay, and advocate change? Well, watch this space, in which I will post my next topic, advocating change in Singapore.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The more I try to love Singapore, the harder my heart aches.

Is this how some of you feel? Is that the reason why some of our fellow Singaporeans choose to leave for greener pastures? We work hard or even struggle to maintain a certain quality of life, to only realise that we have to work even harder, as the quality of the life we have attained begins to require more from us, as part of the national workforce? A government that continues to squeeze the only main resource this nation has? Its people?

Are the majority of Singaporeans living a life that revolves around working paying off for a HDB flat, paying off a car loan, paying off study loans for tertiary education? Where the same amount of effort, in another place or nation, could very well yield a life with a humble home, car, with healthcare and education for the kids taken care of. Are the majority of middle income earners in Singapore even home owners? In a nation where costs of living are beginning to go up across the board. Do we actually have something in this nation to live or strive for?

It has only been what 13 months since the last General elections. We have seen, public medical costs go up. Public transport rates going up. NETS cost due to be increase. Goods and Services Tax due to rise. Minister's getting super pay increases. Property prices going on a roller coaster ride. So how have the majority of Singaporeans(lower middle working class) benefited from this recovery of the economy?

Extracts from Wikipedia
"Patriotism denotes positive and supportive attitudes to a 'fatherland' (Latin patria <> Patriotism covers such attitudes as: pride in its achievements and culture, the desire to preserve its character and the basis of the culture, and identification with other members of the nation."

"Patriotism has ethical connotations: it implies that the 'fatherland' (however defined) is a moral standard or moral value in itself."

Love for the country, to preserve a way of life, but the way of life we seek to preserve, has been ever so gradually, shifting. Shifting away from a more balanced work life balance. The values of society have been slowly conforming to being part of PAPs GDP machinery. The influx of "Foreign Talent" isn't doing anything to help the job security of the average Singaporean either. What choice is there left to a Singaporean who is yearning for a better quality of life?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Singapore Justices Just?

Is there a problem with our legal system? Or the values of the Judges within the system? Its not about the PM having influence over the appointment of judges, or the executive having the power to appoint Judicial Commissioners.

Its about the values of behind the law of the land. The spirit in which the laws were made and enacted. The law created to protect the individual rights. Judges that do what is right, and not just follow the Law to the letter. Isn't the Law a consequence of the rights of an individual, created to protect those rights? Does the law in Singapore protect those rights or hold such values?

In 1995
Chief Justice Yong held that any Law which deprived a person of his life or personal liberty was valid and binding as long as it was validly passed by parliament. The courts, he said, 'is not concerned with whether it is also fair, just and reasonable as well.**

This is the Chief Justice that was appointed by the Executive who was a classmate if Lee Kuan Yew.

Most recently, in the case of Falungong detainees.

Excerpts from Epoch Times :

'The Prosecution Ignores Inconvenient Evidence

The defendants raised several points regarding the evidence presented, and also the evidence the prosecution chose to withhold.

The prosecution submitted a series of photographs, which it claimed supported the charge. However, there was no date- or timestamp on the photographs—they could have been taken at any time. Further, only one of the photographs showed definitively the location where it was taken; the rest of the photographs bore no signs identifying the scene, and could have been taken in a number of places.

None of the defendants appear in the one photo that was identifiably taken at the scene of the alleged violation. The prosecution submitted no photographic evidence placing the defendants at the scene when the alleged violation occurred.'

'Judge Tung said, "The accused say that if the video were shown in the courtroom, everyone would see how peaceful and harmonious the scene really was. This shows that the defendants were indeed at the scene.

"I agree with the prosecutor that you have done great things. But I am not here to judge whether you are right or wrong; my only concern whether you have permits. You committed an offence because you did not have permits."'

Judge Tung: "But I am not here to judge whether you are right or wrong"

So the law does not protect what is right or does it?

Chief Justice Yong "(The court) is not concerned with whether it is also fair, just and reasonable as well."

We have a Chief Justice that is not concerned whether the a law or Judgement is just?

The Definition of justice

1. The quality of being just; fairness.
2. The principle of moral rightness; equity.
3. Conformity to moral rightness in action or attitude; righteousness.
4. The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward.
5. Law The administration and procedure of law.
6. Conformity to truth, fact, or sound reason:

If you agree that with the above definitions of justice, do our courts then deliver justice when our judges words contradict most of the above definition of justice?

**Introduction to Singapore's Constitution - Kevin Y.L. Tan

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sure or not Mr Lee?

"You can get anything you want in Singapore. You can travel, you can bring it in. You can - you can organize what you want. You can say anything you want, and all sorts of things are said and debated in Singapore."
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, interview with Charlie Rose, Aug 2005

Ok so the PM can say something like this, in another country. Right here at home we get protesters being called in for questioning by the police force for a non-violent protest. Furthermore, the police were right there at the protests, they were witnesses to everything that transpired at those 2 events. Is there even a need to haul them in for questioning? Its bloody ludicrous. If actions speak louder than words, then words of our PM will then be worth not more than Bullcrap.

Salute to CSJ and company

Kudos, to Chee and friends.

Over the past few weeks, about 15 human rights activists were called in by the Singapore Police Force for questioning. They are under investigation regarding protests conducted on 2 separate occasions.

One on IMF world bank meeting in Sept 06, when seven activists participated in a protest at Hong Lim Park, calling for freedom speech and expression. The police came down on them, and the protest subsequently became a standoff with the police, that lasted 72 hours.

The other on human rights day on 10 Dec 06. Several activists conducted a freedom march along orchard road to commemorate Human Rights Day.

The police are investigating them for some rather ludicrous allegations, like "counseling disobedience to the law", "holding an assembly and procession without a permit", and "incitement to violence". Amazing really. As far as I know, Chee SJ vehemently promotes non-violence-even when faced with violence from authorities.

The courage and resolve of these patriotic Singaporeans are unmatched at this point. Steadfast in their beliefs, who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. They have called upon all Singaporeans to do their part in upholding the Singapore Pledge. Especially this line: "To build and democratic society based on justice and equality".

In the past, just the threat of a law suit or legal charges would cause a dissident party or organisation to capitulate. Not this time, these brave Singaporeans have stood fast and firm, held their ground, and perhaps even placed the ruling party in a spot.

These people are not professional politicians with the exception of Chee. They are ordinary people you see everyday on the street, just like you and I. Again, I salute all of you.

Show your support =), write a message of encouragement to these brave people.


It is our duty to speak up

We, the undersigned, are being questioned by the police for taking part in political activities on 16 September 2006 and 10 December 2006.

We are Singaporeans exercising our sacred rights and speaking up for the rights of our fellow citizens.

We object to being harassed by the Singapore Government and reiterated our stand that as citizens its is our duty and responsibility to speak up and hold our Government accountable. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We oppose the repressive measures of the ruling Peoples’ Action Party which continues to use laws to prosecute citizens for exercising our freedoms of speech and assembly.

We call on democracy defenders to denounce the anti-democratic stance of the Singapore Government and to support the cause of democracy in Singapore.


Gandhi Ambalam
Chee Siok Chin (Ms)
Chee Soon Juan
Chong Kaixiong
Jeffrey George
Johnny Hoe
IsrizalKirat Kaur (Ms)
Monica Kumar (Ms)
Priveen Suraj
Gerald Sng
Charles Tan
Tan Cheng Poh
Teoh Tian Jing
Yap Keng Ho
Francis Yong

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Independent Judicary? In Singapore?

Extracted from our Constitution

Article 94 Constitution of Supreme Court

(2) The office of a Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be abolished during his continuance in office.

(4) In order to facilitate the disposal of business in the Supreme Court, the President, if he, acting in his discretion, concurs with the advice of the Prime Minister, may appoint a person qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court to be a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court in accordance with Article 95 for such period or periods as the President thinks fit; and a Judicial Commissioner so appointed may, in respect of such class or classes of cases as the Chief Justice may specify, exercise the powers and perform the functions of a Judge of the High Court. Anything done by a Judicial Commissioner when acting in accordance with the terms of his appointment shall have the same validity and effect as if done by a Judge of that Court and, in respect thereof, he shall have the same powers and enjoy the same immunities as if he had been a Judge of that Court.

(5) For the purposes of Clause (4), the President may appoint a person qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court to be a Judicial Commissioner to hear and determine a specified case only.

So the PM has the power to appoint or rather, influence the appointment of Judicial Commissioners who have the full authority of Judges but the tenure is limited to the period that the President "deems fit". Hence also the giving power to the Executive to remove the Judicial Commissioner when he "deems fit" to do so.

Article 4 can easily be used to circumvent article 2, and put judges' appointments at the mercy of the PM. Maybe to ensure their obedience? Anyone knows for sure, how many of our judges are judicial commissioners at the moment? I heard the Chief Justice is or was a judicial commissioner, can anyone confirm this?