Monday, November 28, 2016

Is China flexing its muscles against Singapore?

It was just a matter of time for the precarious honeymoon between China and Singapore to come to a head. It was done by China with such finesse that it came as a severe jolt to the disoriented PAP leadership, especially the day-dreaming PM Lee Hsien Loong. It was the Hong Kong Customs, no doubt under instructions from China, which detained nine Singapore-bound Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles although the Japanese-owned container ship APL which carried the armoured vehicles had passed through a Chinese province earlier. It was a shrewd Chinese move to avoid direct intricate dealing with Singapore which has willy nilly to deal with a less authoritative and unenthusiastic Hong Kong. The ostensible reason for detaining the armoured vehicles was that they were suspected to carry ammunition and sensitive equipment and the ship's cargo manifest was not in order. This has become a complex problem and may need an infinite time frame to be resolved, provided it gets the condescending consent from China.

The China spokesman has finally emerged to castigate Singapore, which is helmed by the jocular PM Lee Hsien Loong, for its role in undermining China's one-China policy on Taiwan. If this is not a direct slap on PM Lee  Hsien Loong, then PM Lee will still be under the illusion that he is still a trusted equal of President Xi JinPing. The nauseating antics of PM Lee in ingratiating with US President Barrack Obama have not gone unnoticed by the astute China President Xi who viewed them with humour and patience waiting for the day to teach this monkey a lesson.

It will be an interesting exercise to guage the reaction of Singaporeans, especially the ethnic Chinese, to the show of animosity by China towards Singapore by detaining the nine armoured vehicles in Hong Kong and the timing for this so-called show down. Will it be reasonable to say that the Chinese Singaporeans are first taken aback, like the rest of Singaporeans, but think that China is right in jolting the PAP day-dreamers, especially the US-inclined PM Lee, from their fantasy of bringing Singapore dangerously close to the US axis? They could not have been oblivious to the antics of PM Lee in usurping the role of the Chairman of the APEC meeting in Peru in his desperation of a last-ditch effort in salvaging the pro-US Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the amusement of President Xi of China.

If the day-dreaming PM Lee Hsien Loong has not learned a lesson from the armoured vehicles detention in Hong Kong and persists in his antics of ingratiating himself with the US at the expense of China, the day will come when an exasperated President Xi will candidly say "enough is enough".

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The conundrum of online gambling

It has now become a comic opera with the introduction of the Remote Gambling Act (RGA) to curb online gambling and the PAP flummoxing act of granting exemption to the Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club from the RGA to operate online gambling legally. As the National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS) has voiced its concern  that the move is sending "confusing and conflicting signals" given that the RGA, which kicked in last year in February, banned all other forms of online betting, it's quite significant that the Minister for Social & Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin went to great length trying to vindicate the PAP Government untenable action which the public could find hard to accept while avoiding answering directly to the NCCS concern. This is because the PAP Government is not comfortable in denying that it is sending "confusing and conflicting signals".

That the problem of online gambling is actively engaging the mind of the public for the social ill-effects that it will bring in its wake can in a way be reflected by the intense debate in Parliament by mainly PAP lawmakers. One pertinent question asked is whether allowing the two operators to launch online gambling services is not tantamount to encouraging more people to go online to gamble by making it legitimate. Again Minister Tan Chuan-Jin could only give a non-committal answer. Hongkong and the United Kingdom were quoted to show their relentless efforts in curbing online gambling.

The fact remains that Singapore is neither Hongkong nor the United Kingdom and our illegal online punters are quite a determined and elusive category on whom neither the RGA nor the legalised operators could make a dent..The two legalised operators have not begun their operation and it is still early to assess their effectiveness in curbing illegal online gambling. With the restrictions that they are required to impose on prospective online punters, would it not be reasonable to expect those who are disqualified by the restrictions to resort to illegal online betting?

There is no way the PAP Government can completely curb illegal online gambling and this will be a perennial headache for the PAP until some PAP smart Alec can come out with a panacea to the problem.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Perspective of the Elected President Scheme

The spectre of Dr. Tan Cheng Bock being elected President in the next Presidential Election had been haunting a diffident PM Lee Hsien Loong and his drolling Cabinet for a long time after the last EP election in 2011 when Dr. Tony Tan won by a miniscule 35.2 % with the PAP fearing and declining a run-off. Dr. Tan Cheng Bock, if elected, would not be a compliant President like Dr. TonyTan and the late SR Nathan. So the PAP caucus, under the so-called sagacious PM Lee Hsien Loong, had been racking their brains to try to find a solution to this vexing EP problem. Some bright spark in the Cabinet, probably PM Lee himself, came up with a life-saving solution of establishing a Constitutional Commission to review the EP Scheme which would set the eligibility criteria so high that Dr. Tan Cheng Bock would automatically be precluded from standing as a candidate for the EP. Indeed, Dr. Tan had earlier indicated that he would stand as a candidate for the next EP election and he was so popular with an overwhelming public response that it would be a cinch for him to become the next President which was seen to have sent a shiver of fear down the spine of the PAP caucus.

So when PM Lee Hsien Loong announced the establishment of the Constitutional Commission to review the EP Scheme, it sent an unmistakable message to the public that this was all a massive exercise at public expense just to preclude Dr. Tan Cheng Bock from standing for the next EP election. Notwithstanding all the blatant tongue-in-cheek talks by PAP leaders that this was not an exclusion exercise against any particular individual, no amount of glib talks by the PAP leaders would be able to convince the public that this was not against Dr. Tan Cheng Bock. In fact this had been the talk of the town. In the end the Commission Report has confirmed their greatest fear.

Dr. Tan Cheng Bock is a hardy politician and had been mentally prepared for such political adversity which he has to his credit gracefully accepted. He knows that he will never qualify to stand with the $500 million company equity requirement and will only be an exercise in futility to pursue it. The Commission Report with some slight modification has been incorporated in a Government
White Paper which will be debated in Parliament. It will just be an eyewash as with the Government's overwhelming majority in Parliament there is no question that it will not receive approval.

The minority Presidential concession is no doubt a subtle move to appease the minority Malay Community which would otherwise feel marginalised. It may be apparent that they may regard this as a gesture of tokenism.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A poignant tribute to ex-President Ong Teng Cheong

In the midst of all these flattering adulations on the ex-President SR Nathan following his demise on 22 August, perhaps it has not occurred to the mesmerised PM Lee Hsien Loong and his equally hypnotised Cabinet colleagues that there is still considerable anger among a significant section of Singaporeans on the disgraceful act of the PAP leaders in not according a State Funeral to ex-president Ong Teng Cheong upon his death. To add to the insult the PAP demagogues did not even have the decency to give a satisfactory explanation for the omission except from time to time they issued nonsensical statements that the Prime Minister and his spineless Cabinet colleagues have the final say on such matters. There is no quarrel about according a State Funeral to SR Nathan but that the wife of former PM Lee Kuan Yew (the mother of PM Lee Hsien Loong) was given a State Funeral upon her death is in the mind of discerning Singaporeans the extreme case of the abuse of political power. What locus standi could Mrs Lee Kuan Yew have to deserve such state honour? And how could she have been more qualified than ex-President Ong Teng Cheong for a State

Ex-President Ong Teng Cheong was known as the People's President during his tenure, a title which our ex-President SR Nathan would have like to be bestowed with but which had eluded him. This was the measure of the popularity of ex-President Ong Teng Cheong, especially among the Chinese. He incurred the displeasure of the PAP demagogues, especially ex-PM Lee Kuan Yew, for being too honest and straightforward in wanting to know about Singapore Reserves to the discomfort of the PAP wallahs. How the PAP demagogues could have felt so panicky about disclosing Singapore Reserves to the President may be enigmatic to the public but that they could have turned inimical to the President over this could be a million-dollar question to know. To take it further, they even showed their vindictive strain by not giving ex-President Ong Teng Cheong a State Funeral which he greatly deserved, at least more than Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, to the dismay of Singaporeans who watched the comic opera with abated breath.

Ex-President Ong Teng Cheong had brought immense progress to Singapore even before he became President as a PAP lawmaker and Minister. He was instrumental in making the mass rapid transit a reality in Singapore which has benefitted immensely the commuters. The question of the withholding of his State Funeral upon his death will not go away from the people's mind and will resurface from time to time to the discomfort of the PAP wallahs, especially PM Lee Hsien Loong.

It's quite in order to accord ex-President SR Nathan a fitting narrative to his memory but quite a lot of the adulations are repetitious and some of his so-called achievements were really given a bit of cosmetic treatment. In any case, may the soul of eminent SR Nathan rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Looking at Joseph Schooling's Gold Medal in perspective

The fantastic achievement of Joseph Schooling in winning a Gold Medal in the 100 metre butterfly swimming event at the Rio Olympics has brought a supreme reputation and prestige to Singapore in the history of the Olympics. Singapore, especially PM Lee Hsien Loong and his ministers, have shown superb gratitude in according Joseph Schooling the supreme honour that has never been given to any athlete or artist in the past. The whole of Singapore is in ecstatic celebration in his honour  and Joseph Schooling could not have been oblivious to all the adulations that have been poured on him. In all these frenzied exuberances would it not be prudent that a rational thought be given to the sensitivity of Joseph Schooling in having to face the future? He has been lifted so high on the pedestal of fame that we may be overdoing it so that there would be no consolation, but devastation, if he could not win any gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Of course, in the midst of all these celebrations, it could not have occurred in his mind.

True to their character, the PAP leaders are never slow in their haste to claim credit for the global honour  to Singapore that Joseph Schooling has brought. Apart from granting Joseph Schooling a deferment for national service to enable him to train for the Olympics, it was left entirely to the parents of Schooling to finance his training, especially his mother May Schooling.They had spent more than a million dollars for his training and the Singapore Government is not known to have made any financial contribution to it. In fact the people who should claim credit for Schooling's gold medal achievement should be his wonderful parents, his equally wonderful American trainers and the American Government.

Joseph Schooling is a genuine local born swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal for Singapore, unlike the mercenary women paddlers from China that the somnolent PAP Government brought in at great expense to the taxpayers with the hope that they would win gold medals for Singapore at the Olympics. They were all second-rate players trained by China who were only too happy to foist them on Singapore so that they could have an affluent livelihood with the easy money they get from the Singapore Government. It should not surprise the PAP leaders if they could not win any Olympic gold medal for they were more interested in acquiring wealth. Due to the PAP's lax policy, they became permanent residents (PR) over time and became eligible to purchase HDB flats which they sold in the lucrative re-sale market at great profits when they returned to China. With the exchange rate in China, they became affluent overnight.

The latest antic is the shameful defeat of the mercenary Singapore paddlers by an unflattering Japanese team at the Rio Olympics for a bronze medal. Do Singaporeans feel that they have been shortchanged by the PAP leaders?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Coroner's verdict on Benjamin Lim

This was the letter I emailed to the Right Honourable Law Minister K. Shanmugam on 1.7.16 on the subject:

Dear Mr. Shanmugam,

I seek your indulgence in writing to you as the Minister-in-charge on a matter of public interest.

Singaporeans have been following the coroner's inquiry on Benjamin Lim with keen interest. Benjamin Lim was the frail 14 year-old student who was hauled by five burly policemen in plainclothes from his school in January for alleged molestation of a girl to the police station for interrogation. He was arrested and released on bail. He went straight home after that and the tragic thing was that he was found dead at the bottom of his flat after he jumped out of the window.

The coroner's inquiry was not without controversies and threw up a complexing picture of questionable police procedures and the inadequacies of the school authorities in dealing with the case. As a result the coroner had to adjourn the inquiry to 8 June to give his verdict. But the puzzling thing is that there was a no-show of the coroner's verdict nor was there any announcement of postponement.

Almost a month has now passed since 8 June and would it not be time for the public to be advised as to the progress of the coroner's proceedings and when a verdict is to be expected? The verdict is important as it would show whether there is any culpability on the part of anybody, especially the police, in the tragic death of Benjamin Lim, who in the meantime may be making a poignant cry for justice.

With due respect and regards. Yoong Siew Wah

This must have come as a shock to Mr. Shanmugam but I am not too optimistic that the high and mighty Law Minister would have the humility to reply to a plebeian. My letter could have caused not a little ripple  as it brings to the public notice a disturbing and unusual situation in the administration of justice. The State Coroner was scheduled to give his verdict on the tragic death of Benjamin Lim on 8 June and quite inexplicably he gave a no-show without any announcement of any postponement. And this was to drag on with no explanation or announcement by the Minister of the reason of the no-show or the resumption of the inquiry. This unusual state of affair would have been allowed to continue indefinitely if this had not been brought up with the Minister.

It boggles the mind as to why there as no-show by the State Coroner. He was scheduled to give a very important verdict on the tragic death of Benjamin Lim which could have serious repercussions on certain quarters like the police. Could there be a possibility, even if remote, for the State Coroner to have suddenly found himself to be in an unpardonable situation where he had to act against his own conscience and abstained from giving his verdict?

The inquiry has so far disclosed some disturbing features. The State Coroner might have found it bizarre that the police had to send five burly policemen in plainclothes to haul a frail-looking 14 year -old student from his school to the police station for interrogation. And the manner in which the confession was obtained from him left a very big question mark. Benjamin"s father tried to raise the question of the five policemen  in the inquiry but this was blocked by the State Counsel assisting the inquiry who was obviously anxious to shield the police from being shown as extremely stupid by sending such massive force to haul in a frail student. How can the police now say that they are understaffed? Then there is the doubtful evidence of the school supervisor on the reason for stopping Benjamin Lim from attending a school function the next day which the coroner found questionable. This was the reason for adjourning the inquiry to 8 June for a verdict as the coroner wanted to satisfy himself on the truthfulness of the supervisor's evidence.

A young innocent life has been sacrificed and the public has the right to know what caused his death and whether anyone is responsible for it. The distraught parents are left with no one to look after them in their old age. It cannot be more strongly emphasised that the coroner's inquiry must be resumed without delay to arrive at a verdict and the Law Minister must come out with an early announcement, if only to redeem his serious omission. Let this be a warning to an over-confident PM Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet, especially his Law Minister that there should not be any attempt at cover-up which will have dire consequences to the PAP.

A final word for the Workers' Party. An email was sent to Pritam Singh on 23.6.16 requesting him to enquire from the Law Minister but it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. The Workers' Party needs to buck up and it can redeem its omission by taking up this matter in Parliament.

Friday, July 1, 2016

An insight into Singapore's preparedness in counter-terrorism measures

Especially after the murderous terrorist attack on Istanbul in Turkey recently, it has been daily exercising the nimble mind of our so-called intrepid PAP leaders, especially the unusually alert PM Lee Hsien Loong and the pushy Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen almost to the point of insanity on means and ways of softening the public to an imminent terrorist attack of the scale of Paris and Istanbul. That Singapore may be targeted for terrorist attack may not be a myth anymore. It's a question of when and not if. That Singapore may be attracted as a terrorist target may also be attributable to the blustering accounts by PAP Ministers, especially Dr. Ng Eng Hen of the so-called formidable forces at their command to counter any terrorist attack.

The latest gimmick is the establishment of the so-called Army Deployment Force (ADF) of battalion size with a rapid response of ten minutes to a terrorist attack. All this is very well for local consumption but what do you think of the terrorist reaction to such a bluster? Would it not be a challenge to them to target Singapore for all its bluster even if there was no such intention initially? Who would suffer in such an attack? Not the ministers or the armed forces.There is a Chinese saying: If you are careful you can drive a ten-thousand year ship (小心駛得萬年船). There is nothing to prevent Dr. Ng Eng Hen from continuing his blustering way, but it would be at his peril.

It is therefore more prudent to assuage the public mind to our counter-terrorism measures in a less pushy manner so as not to incur the animosity of the terrorists. So far all these talks were about counter-terrorism measures. Has it not occurred to the high and mighty PAP leaders to lay out measures to deal with the aftermath of any terrorist attack? Are there no lessons to be learnt from the terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul? Conditions may well be so chaotic that it is difficult to distinguish terrorists from victims and it will be a time when it will require monumental effort to calm the public. Notwithstanding the so-called fool-proof immigration security system, if the terrorists are determined to smuggle themselves into Singapore, events in Paris and Istanbul had proved this can be achieved by the terrorists.They are suicide bombers and their whole aim is to smuggle themselves into Singapore to carry out their mission. They do not expect to leave Singapore alive.

Finally, has it ever occurred to our high-falutin PAP wallahs that the ordinary humble Singaporeans may be able to contribute some very good ideas to our counter-terrorism measures or the aftermath? Only that they have not been asked probably because they are not considered to have the requisite expertise.

May God bless Singapore?