Letter to Chairman Kim Jong Un

His Excellency
Kim Jong Un
Chairman of State Affairs Commission of the Democratic Republic of Korea
Pyongyang

Dear Mr. Chairman,

We greatly appreciate your time, patience and effort in wanting to ease tensions between DPRK and Republic of Korea, or what many refers to as the ‘Evil’ and ‘Good’ Korea. In all due respect, it might be because that you look just like a bubbly evil character out of a fairy tale. In fact, the World, and the United States in particular, believes strongly that you are living in a utopia created by your grandfather.

Nevertheless, I applaud you for all the gesture of goodwill you’ve done, from introducing the world to the VX nerve agent demolishing the Punggye-Ri Nuclear Test Site, sharing a gay moment with meeting South’s leader Moon Jae-In at the DMZ to crossing fires negotiating with erratic US leader Donald Trump.

It is a disappointment that the scheduled summit between you and Trump three weeks later in Singapore will not be happening. At least that’s what that orange man said for now. Oh and please, Chairman, if you ever get to meet this old man, please advice him on the kind of hairstyle that suits him more than his current one. Your state has the record of offering a much more acceptable hairstyle than the rest of the world could offer.

STYLE ADVISOR: Maybe you should bring this as a gift for Trump. (Image: NK News)

As what Trump has written in his letter to you – although I doubt he was the one who pens it, it looks more like what a spoilt bret wrote when his peers refuses to play with him, the way he wants it –  that “the world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth”. In his defence, it was not an easy decision he has made. I am sure that he has contemplated about the any plausible outcome, but fret not, this is not the first time he has been being uncertain. He is on and off, and on and off, and on and off and… You get me. No rewards for guessing how he is a two-time divorcee.

I guess it will be inappropriate for me to carry on with this topic. It is a shame we wouldn’t get to see you making a cameo appearance in the latest episode of the Fox News reality series ‘Trumps in the White House’. I thought it will be nice to have two humpy dumpys heavyweight world leaders walking down the foyer of Shangri-La, snapped by hundreds of camera sets and swarmed by thousands of journalists from all over the world. The world lost the opportunity.

Despite that, I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, to visit Singapore despite the cancellation of the summit. There are many case studies in which you and your delegation would be very much interested in.

First, allow me to introduce Singapore. Singapore is an island-state located in the southern-most tip of the Malay Peninsular. No, we are no where near your favourite ally China although you can still see much of their people around – with their distinctive style of speaking as compare to the locals. No, we are no where near the country where their leader idolises you, although you could find them serving in most of the service-related positions. And no, we are no where near the country you hated the most despite American wannabes tried their best to put on that accent. We always consider ourselves ‘neutral and principled‘.

We have a political system that you would find familiar. In North Korea, I understand that the Chairmanship is hereditary. In Singapore, we are about the same – or at least we’ve accustomed to the fact that the Prime Ministership will somehow be delegated to someone belonging to the same family as if it was a family business. While your system invites scrutiny from the international community, especially the west, for being an absolute dictatorship (mind my language), we did it via proper channel, something called elections (the westerners loved it a lot, I can assure you). We could advice you on how to throw in some ‘democracy’ and ‘meritocracy’ to make all your political doings as legitimate.

KEEP YOUR ALLIES CLOSE, YOUR FAMILY CLOSER: We build a family country, in the name of meritocracy. (Image: Jess C Scott)

I understand that the West has been pressurising you to open up to freedom of expression within your borders. In Singapore, we give people freedom of expression. We are such an advocate of it that we even designate a place in our land-scarce island for our citizens to express themselves – whether it is about their displeasure towards government policies or to disrupt a charity event for special needs children. Yet, the famous and biggest event held there was an annual carnival for love and sex equality. North Korea might like to adopt this idea and build your own variant of a ‘protest’ site back in Pyongyang. I am sure this will help reduce tensions between your countries and the rest of the human rights-loving international community. We would be glad to offer advice on how your government can go about with the terms and conditions of using the designated site.

FREE THE VOICES: North Korea could build their own Hong Lim Park back at home. (Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

I heard you have a metro system right at the heart of Pyongyang. We have a metro system too, only that we expanded it too frequent and too much to the point that a few stations are within walkable distance from each other. Minister of Railways Jang Hyok would be very much interested in getting introduced to the fastest way to transport your citizens yet slow enough to prevent them from thinking of escaping out of your country. You can probably learn how to promote your military generals to head the metro system.

Another reason for you to visit Singapore is that we will not rush you towards denuclearisation. In fact, we will never rush anyone into anything unless we are talking about CPF or anything bill related. One reason is that, unlike the US, we do not possess any nuclear weapons ‘so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used’. The only time ‘nuclear power’ was brought up was on the Opinion section of the Straits Times – something like your Rodong Sinmun, but more satirical to the public.

While you are on the visit to our beautiful island, it might be able to invite you to a rehearsal for our annual National Day Parade. It looks exactly like the parade you have back home during the Day of the Foundation of the Republic, just without the nuclear weapons. Maybe we can exchange a few tips on how to enhance the attendees’ experience of our respective parades.

Looking forward to your visit. I am sure you will feel at home here.

Sincerely Yours (definitely more sincere than your previous letters),
-insert illegible scribblings-
Eddy Chua
Your Unofficial Guide to Singapore

The ‘Reserved’ Road To Istana: A Quick Guide

Singaporeans will go to the polls on 23 September to elect their 8th President and 4th Elected President.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has issued the writ of election on 28 August and has also scheduled the Nomination Day for 13 September, the Elections Department said in a statement.

The auditorium in the People’s Association HQ at King George Avenue has been listed as the nomination centre.

Incumbent President Tony Tan will end his term on the 31 August and after which, the chairman of the Council of the Presidential Advisors (CPA), J. Y. Pillay, will be appointed as the Acting President.

With less than a month to go, it is crucial for new voters or voters who have not been following the news and controversy surrounding this upcoming election to stay informed. So here’s a Quick Guide.

1. The Role of the Elected President

Tony Tan in parliament
(Image: Mothership)

Like many countries who were previously a British colony, Singapore practices a parliamentary system of government. Such system is relatively distinct from the presidential system of government, as practised in the US, Mexico and Russia, etc.

In the presidential system, the President acts as both the Head of Government and the Head of State. The Executive President is elected independently from the legislature (eg. the Congress), usually by the electorates. Although he/she has the power to veto the decision by the legislature, he/she is not accountable to the legislature and does not have the power to dismiss it either.

In a parliamentary system, the leader of the legislature (i.e. Prime Minister) is the Head of Government while the President is the Head of State. The Head of Government is the one who leads the government and oversees and execute the daily activities in the country while the Head of State is usually a figurehead and does not hold any type of legislative or executive role.

The Head of State, however, hold ceremonial roles and represents every citizen. He/she has the power to dissolve the legislature.

The office of the President in Singapore was created in 1965 upon independence. It was previously known as the Yang di-Pertuan Negara when Singapore was granted limited self-government in 1959. The role remained when Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963.

The President has a part to play in foreign relations by hosting and engaging visiting dignitaries and making State Visits overseas.

On top of that, all foreign ambassadors-designate and high commissioners-designate will present their credentials to the President before assuming office in Singapore. The President also presents letters of credence to ambassadors-designate and high commissioners-designate of Singapore before they leave to assume office overseas.

The President will also have to deliver a Presidential address during the opening of each Parliament session. He/she will lay out the key challenges for each term of government.

The President’s other key ceremonial duties also include:

  • officiating at swearing-in ceremonies of key appointment-holders such as the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court;
  • officiating the National Day Parade; and
  • confers awards, such as the National Day Awards, on the advice of the Cabinet.

The President also has a community role where he may use the influence of his position to support charitable and social causes. He/she can also play a unifying role by encouraging, articulating and representing those values that unite Singaporeans as a nation.

The Presidency was initially indirectly elected by the Parliament. It was until 3 January 1991 when the Parliament passed the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Act 1991 before an elected presidency is enacted.

When the amendment officially came into effect on 30 November 1991, the President was given additional custodial role in having the discretionary powers relating to the safeguarding of national reserves and the appointment of key personnel in the public sector and certain Government companies.

His/her veto powers also extended to detentions without trial, corruption investigations and restraining orders in order to maintain racial and religious harmony.

However, the Elected President cannot publicly challenge the government without acting against the Constitution and cannot weigh in publicly with social and political views. In other words, he/she are unable to initiate policies or make executive decisions.

2. PE 2017 is a ‘reserved’ election for candidates of the Malay community

On November 9 last year, the Parliament voted 77 to 6 to pass the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill. The idea was first brought up by the Prime Minister during the debate of the Presidential Address on 27 January 2016.

He mentioned that being the head of state, the President represents all Singaporeans in a multi-racial society.

He went on to point out that Singapore has not had a president from the Malay community since elected presidency was introduced. He cited an example where apart from the two uncontested Presidential Elections (1999 and 2005), where the late S R Nathan was the sole eligible candidates, the rest of elections were won by a Chinese.

He warned, “But in future, when Presidential Elections are more likely to be contested, even hotly contested, I believe it will become much harder for a minority President to get elected. It is the same problem with Parliamentary Elections which led us to create GRCs, to ensure a minimum representation of minority race MPs in Parliament. We should consider a similar mechanism for Presidential Elections, to ensure that minorities can be periodically elected if we have not had a particular minority as President for some time.”

This was reiterated during PM Lee’s National Day Rally the same year. He mentioned that despite the process the country has made regarding racial cohesion, we are not a homogenous society.

He cited a survey done by CNA and Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), “When it comes to personal choices for example whom you marry, whom your best friends are, who your business partners are – race still matters… Thus it is not surprising that in elections, race is still a factor and other things being equal, a minority candidate is at a disadvantage.”

A 9-member Constitutional Commission was therefore appointed on 10 February 2016, with Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the helm. After receiving more than 100 public submissions and public hearings, a report was submitted to PM Lee on 17 August 2016. The initial recommendations from the commission include:

  • To reserve the Presidential Election for a racial group if it is not being represented for 5 terms, according to a hiatus-triggered model.
  • Limiting eligibility of candidates to individuals who are/have been in the most senior executive positions in companies with at least S$500 million in shareholder’s equity. (An upgrade from individuals who are/have been a Chairman/CEO in companies with at least S$100 million in paid-up capital)
  • Introduction of a ‘look-back’ duration to ensure the currency of an applicant’s experience: The entire qualifying tenure of the applicant’s experience must fall within the 15-year period immediately preceding the relevant Nomination Day.
  • Two (2) additional members to be appointed to the CPA, increasing the total number of CPA members to 10.
  • The President has to consult the CPA for all monetary issues related to reserves and all key public service appointments. Parliament can override the President’s veto if he acted against the advice of the CPA. (The President previously consults the CPA only on some matters relating to past reserves and key public service appointments.)
  • President should be appointed by the Parliament.

On 15 September, the government released a white paper to define its position on the issue. While accepting most of the suggestions laid out by the commission, the advice for the appointment to be made only via the Parliament were among some of the recommendations rejected. The ‘look-back’ duration was extended to 20 years, instead of the 15 years as recommended.

The proposed bill was eventually tabled in Parliament on 10 October by Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean.

During the debate on 8 November, PM Lee announced that the next PE will be reserved for a Malay candidate, based on the hiatus-triggered model.

A hiatus-triggered model means that the election will be open to all but if there is no President from a certain community after 5 terms, the next election will be reserved for that community. However, if there’s no eligible candidate from that community during that election, the criteria will be postponed to the subsequent elections until a candidate from that community is elected.

The government adopted the recommendations from the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) that calculation will commence from the term of the 4th President Wee Kim Wee, who served between 1985 to 1992.

According to the AGC, President Wee was the first President to exercise the new functions when the Constitution was amended in 1991.

A Malay community sub-committee under the Presidential Elections Committee will be tasked to assess if the prospective candidates belong to the Malay community. The 5-member panel will be led by Imran Mohamed, the former chairman of the Association of Malay Professionals.

Potential candidates will have to submit a community declaration form on top of the other nomination forms to the sub-committee. The sub-committee will then issue the candidates with a Community Certificate if they recognise them to be from a certain community.

But in future, when Presidential Elections are more likely to be contested, even hotly contested, I believe it will become much harder for a minority President to get elected.

3. The Controversy

Tan Cheng Bock at a press conference.
(Image: Yahoo! News)

Despite the government’s narrative that the changes to the constitution were to safeguard racial harmony in Singapore, critics are quick to play down the benefits behind such amendments.

Some pointed out that a reserved election will defeat the idea of meritocracy that the government has been preaching for years.

Eugene Tan, an Associate Professor at the Singapore Management University (SMU) has warned that the amendments will, in turn, result in an allegation of tokenism towards the President.

He said, “This could even mean in which you say that, in certain years, the Presidential Election will only be open to minority candidates, because that undercuts the whole meritocratic ethos, it undercuts the multiracial ethos as well, because people could criticise the minority race President for being in office only because of his race.”

Nominated MP (NMP) Kok Keng Leun highlighted during the debates of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill that the move to minority representation in the Presidency may exacerbate, instead of address issues of equality.

He said, “In fact, such a provision may exacerbate the issue, in that it provides a convenient argument for the majority to say this special provision already allows for a Malay, Indian, or Eurasian President, negating the need to really reach out, understand, appreciate, and support the best candidate regardless of race, language, or religion.”

Others are sceptical over the motivations behind the changes.

Former Presidential hopeful Dr. Tan Cheng Bock has initially announced that he will be running for the upcoming Presidential Election last March when the Constitution Commission were still working on their task.

When the recommendations were released, Dr. Tan’s eligibility was in doubt.

His eligibility became out of the question when the Government accepted the ACG’s recommendation to start the calculation for the hiatus-trigger model from the term of Wee Kim Wee.

He argues that although President Wee was the first President to exercise the rights under the 1991 amendments, it was President Ong Teng Cheong who was the first to be elected by the public to exercise such rights.

Dr. Tan previously contested in the 2011 PE, garnering 738,311 votes, just a mere 7,382 votes fewer than incumbent President Tony Tan. To put it in percentage, he lost narrowly with a 0.34% margin.

Dr. Tan remarked that, “But if the government simply accepts AGC’s advice without explaining why they accepted the accuracy of the opinion, I am concerned that our Elected Presidency will always be tainted with the suspicion that the reserved election of 2017, was introduced to prevent my candidacy.”

His concerns resonated with the Workers’ Party (WP) MP for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim.

Ms Lim, also WP’s Chairman, commented during the debates that if calculations started from President Ong’s term, only four terms would have passed by the next election.

She enquired, “Why not count from the first elected president, Mr Ong Teng Cheong? Is it because if President Ong was the first one to be counted, we would have to go through this year’s election as an open election and risk the contest by Chinese or Indian candidates who may not be to the government’s liking?

Minister in the PMO Chan Chun Sing responded that the amendments to the Bill were not for any short-term political gain, explaining that the “moving of this Bill carry with it high political risk with some political cost”.

He said, “We are here to build systems for Singapore for the long haul. Not for short-term political advantage, not for the political advantage of any particular parties. We are but stewards for our nation.”

In May this year, Dr. Tan took the Government to court over the issue. He submitted an application to seek the Court’s determination on whether a piece of legislation counting President Wee Kim Wee as the first elected president for the purposes of the upcoming reserved election was consistent with the Constitution.

After his application was dismissed by the High Court on July 7, Dr Tan lodged an appeal against the dismissal on Jul 12, taking the case to Singapore’s highest court – the Court of Appeal.

The appeal was dismissed on 23 August. The judges stated that: “Even though it is true that the office changed quite dramatically in the midst of his last term, there is simply no doubt at all that he continued to hold the office with the enhanced powers and functions under the framework of the Elected Presidency introduced by the 1991 Amendment.”

Dr. Tan admitted defeat.

However, on August 28, before the writ of election was issued, the WP filed a parliamentary adjournment motion. They are looking to seek clarity on the basis for which the upcoming Presidential Election was declared reserved for Malays.

But if the government simply accepts AGC’s advice without explaining why they accepted the accuracy of the opinion, I am concerned that our Elected Presidency will always be tainted with the suspicion that the reserved election of 2017, was introduced to prevent my candidacy.

4. The Potential Candidates

Potential candidates for Presidential Election 2017

Three individuals, if we do not include private hire driver Shirwin Eu (he does not even fit in any of the eligibility criteria anyway), have expressed their interest in contesting since the application for the Certificate of Eligibility and Community Certificate opened in June.

They are: Mohamad Salleh Marican, Farid Khan and Halimah Yacob.

Salleh Marican

Mohamed Salleh Marican
(Image: Ernst & Young)

The CEO of Singapore Exchange-listed Second Chance Properties is the first potential candidate to express his interest. He was the first to pick up the set of nomination forms and was also the first to submit the forms.

Second Chance Properties was listed on the main board of the SGX since 2004 and has amounted between S$254.3 million to S$263.25 million in shareholders’ equity over the past three years.

Despite the shareholders’ equity is half of what is required under the new Constitution, Mr. Salleh has strong confidence that he will get his nomination.

He said, “I feel there has been too much emphasis on the S$500 million criteria, to the point that people think that if you don’t have it, then you’re not eligible and should not waste your time.”

The Victoria School alumni has previously rejected both chances to enter politics. It was until recently that his mind changes. In his interview with Mothership, he explained that he sensed an opening this time, with some of the public feeling wary about voting for a candidate perceived to be the establishment’s choice.

He said, “This is what the people are thinking. It’s safer that the President is not someone from the ruling party. To them, that is what they mean by independent.”

Mr. Salleh was one of the first Muslim Naval Officers during his National Service years. To add on to his political portfolio, he was head-hunted by J B Jeyaratnam to join the WP slate in 1984 before the PAP knocked on his door ahead of the 1991 General Election.

Despite relating himself to the Malay community, he was under scrutiny when he struggled with his Bahasa Melayu when speaking to the Malay media outside the Elections Department (ELD) when he collected the forms on June 6.

He has submitted his nomination forms on 23 August.

Read more about him in his interviews with Today and Mothership.sg.

Farid Khan

Farid Khan
(Image: Yahoo! News)

The 62 year-old chairman of marine services provider Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific announced his intention to run at a press conference held at the Village Hotel Changi on 11 July.

He has been working for Bourbon Offshore for more than a decade, helping the French-based company to establish its Asia Pacific branch.

He left school at the age of 13 and had taken up several odd jobs, such as cleaning the toilet and cutting grass before ending up on a ship as its captain steward at age 21.

The father of two has unveiled his slogan ‘Together We Build Our Nation’, stating that he would like to step forward to “serve the nation” and “fulfil the people’s wish and trust”.

He has made five election promises:

  • Working closely with the Government and various organisations to deter the growing threats of radicalisation.
  • Strengthen the trust among the people regardless of race, language and religion.
  • Enhancing efforts to help the needy, including troubled youth.
  • Create more job opportunities, including in the maritime industry.
  • Strengthen families as building block of the society.

However, there would be some serious challenges that Mr. Farid has to overcome. Similar to Mr. Salleh’s Second Chance Properties, Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific does not have an average of S$500 million in stakeholders’ equity over the past three years. According to TODAY, the company’s stakeholders’ equity is above S$350 million.

Furthermore, he has admitted that he is of a Pakistani descent which casts doubts over his eligibility as a ‘Malay’ candidate. However, he sees himself as a Malay of Pakistani descent.

He said, “I was born in the Malay village in Geylang Serai, the heart of the Malay community. And I adopted the Malay language, and when I studied in school, my second language was Malay… So, I’m very confident that I can be qualified as a Malay.”

Mr. Farid has submitted his nomination forms on 24 August.

Read more about him in his interview with Mothership.sg and The Middle Ground.

Halimah Yacob

Halimah Yacob
(Image: The Straits Times)

This lady needs no introduction.

The former Speaker of Parliament entered the fray when she made clear her intention to run on August 6. She tendered her resignation as both the Speaker and from the PAP, hence vacating her MP seat in Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representative Constituency (GRC) as well.

Her 33 years experience with the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) has provided her with a boost to her campaign. Trade unions across the country are fast to throw their support behind her, with the labour movement the first to do so.

Mdm Halimah joined politics in 2001. She contested Jurong GRC under the PAP banner and was elected MP for the constituency.

After the 2011 General Election, she was appointed as a Minister of State (MoS) at the then-Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS). A cabinet reshuffle in 2012 saw her moving to the Ministry of Social & Family Development as MoS.

She succeeded Michael Palmer as Speaker of Parliament in 2013 after the latter resigned due to allegations of extra-marital affairs.

Mdm Halimah went on to contest in the newly-created Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in the 2015 GE and was successfully elected.

Speaking at her latest press conference in NTUC Center on 29 August, Mdm Halimah revealed her campaign slogan ‘Do Good, Do Together’.

There were speculations that she’ll be one of the potential candidates when it was announced that the upcoming PE will be reserved for the Malay community. There has been an instance when, during one of the debate sessions on the Presidential Election (Amendment) Bill, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Chan Chun Sing inadvertently addresses Mdm Halimah as ‘Mdm President’ instead of ‘Mdm Speaker’.

Like the other two candidates, her race has been subjected to debates. Her father was an Indian-Muslim and critics have doubted whether she can be counted as part of the Malay community.

Read more about her in her interview with Channel NewsAsia and Mothership.

5. No designated rally sites but more air time for candidates on national TV

Candidates participating in the televised debates during PE 2011.
WAR OF WORDS: Candidates participating in the televised debates during PE 2011.(Image: TODAY)

It was announced early this year that no rally sites will be designated during the campaign period for the upcoming PE.

Minister in the PMO Chan spoke during the second reading of the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill on 6 February that the decision comes after the government accepted the recommendations by the Constitutional Commission.

The Commission questioned the need for a rally as, unlike the General Elections, the PE has no policy agenda to advance.

Minister Chan said, “This is in line with the Government’s and the Constitutional Commission’s position not to encourage rallies, which by their nature and format, may be divisive and not congruent with the unifying role of the Elected Presidency”.

“Campaign methods for PEs must not inflame emotions and must be in keeping with the decorum and dignity of the office of the President, given the important unifying and custodial roles of the President,” he added.

However, candidates who are interested in holding a rally can still apply a permit from the Police, which will be assessed based on public order considerations.

On the other hand, the Government will encourage candidates to use various platforms, like the social media, to reach out to the voters on a national level. More air-time on television could also be adopted.

Hence, don’t be surprised if you see too much of the Presidential hopefuls’ face on TV (if you actually still watching them).

Furthermore, candidates cal also hold indoor private sessions to engage specific groups of voters.

Campaign methods for PEs must not inflame emotions and must be in keeping with the decorum and dignity of the office of the President, given the important unifying and custodial roles of the President.

6. eRegistration pilot introduced in several constituencies

Voters queuing up outside a polling station.
(Image: Tan Lam Song)

The ELD announced on August 25 that they will be piloting the electronic registration of voters at polling stations across three constituencies during the upcoming PE.

The constituencies are: Chua Chu Kang GRC, Tanjong Pagar GRC and Yuhua Single Member Constituency (SMC).

Traditionally, an election officer will have to manually search and strike-off the voters name on a hard-copy register. With the e-registration in place, voters will have to scan the NRIC electronically for registration.

“This decreases the waiting time for voters at polling stations and reduces the number of election officials required to serve the same number of voters at a polling station,” the ELD said in their press release.

The ELD will organise roadshows in 11 Community Centers (CC) in the three constituencies to familiarise voters with the new procedure.

The voting process remains unchanged.

For first time voters, you might want to familarise yourself with the entire voting procedure:


Just vote for who you think is best suited for the role, no one knows who you voted for because your vote is secret. (Unless you go about telling others who you voted for.)

Dear Mr Wickström, this is how Singapore hawkers work

There is apparently a letter that has been circulating since 8 July. An article by Alvinology reported that a foodie by the name Sebastian Wickström has lashed out at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle for ‘dirty business tactics’. He claimed that the local Michelin-starred hawker stall has given customers a false impression that there is a long queue.

You can check out his full rant HERE.

Initially, I wanted to put forward my case immediately after reading his letter. However, I decided to wait till a few days after that to actually organise my thoughts before I become as emotional. You can say I backside itchy, not my problem to meddle with but still trying to be a busybody.

Before I go on, I would like to clarify that I am not an employee of the aforementioned food establishment nor a spokesperson for every hawker outlet in Singapore. I am merely using my experience as a hawker stall assistant to debunk the allegations put forward by Mr. Wickström, and to bring about a clearer picture of how hawker stores operate in Singapore.

Dear Mr. Wickström,

On Queuing In Singapore

QUEUE UP OR GIVE UP: We just have that queuing habit. (Image: TripAdvisor)

In Singapore, we have a habit of queuing. We love to queue, whether it’s for food outlets with Michelin star, hipster food stalls at bazaars, mega sales or even for plushies at some fast food restaurants. There is an unexplained human behaviour instilled in most Singaporean: We just that willing to wait to get the full and authentic experience of the fanfare, nevermind the actual quality of the food.

Therefore, it is no surprise that food establishments like HKSSCRN have long queues. I waited in the queue before and I do admit that it felt like I could be waiting there forever. I personally love their soy sauce chicken – I tried it twice at the Chinatown Complex outlet and once at their franchise outlet a street away, hence I find that it is worth the wait.

There are some food establishments that despite all the fanfare, the food tasted meh. I am someone who dislikes queuing for food but I make it a point to check out whether the food actually worth all the waiting time. I consume food, but I don’t like my time to be consumed unnecessarily.

Yet, no one forced us to queue (unless it’s your job to queue if you are an employee of a certain delivery company or if you’ve lost a bet to your friends/colleagues). Come on, we are all willing parties. It’s not an ‘abuse of trust’. I think there ought to be such understanding established between both the operators as well as the consumers.

I am glad that you’ve got the understanding that “serving regular customers in a long but natural line with long waiting times is not necessarily bad and a lot of hawker stalls have long lines”. However, one thing you don’t understand is that whether queues are natural or whether they are not, by your definition, they still form the customer base.

When there’s demand, there’s supply. Small enterprises like hawker stalls work according to such principle.

Calling it a ‘dirty tactic’ is purely disrespectful

I get it, the owners of the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle must strive to keep the line long, it’s a great sales technique but I want people to be aware of their dirty business tactics and unfair treatment to their loyal customers.

– Sebastian Wickström

I understand Mr. Wickström’s frustration over having to wait for an unfairly long period of time for what he called “an illusion of exclusivity and superior product”. However, translating your anger to such allegation just gives others the reflection that you are sour, very very sour. You sounded like Neil Warnock alleging Rafa Benitez of corruption when the latter fielded a weakened side against your relegation rivals and then lost the game, resulting your team to be relegated.

SOUR GRAPES: Accept the fact that all actions have consequences. (Image: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

You wouldn’t have put yourself into such demise if you had played consistently good football throughout the season. Likewise, if you didn’t decide to jump on the bandwagon in the first place, you wouldn’t have put yourself into all these ‘disappointment’.

If this is considered a dirty tactic, I think many hawker owners across the country might have to feel guilty about this because most of them do not set an ordering quota for on-site ordering. That’s from whatever that I know.

You might argue that HKSSCRN is internationally recognised through its Michelin accolades, it has the ability to amass a consumer pool that can way exceed other establishments. Hence, they have more customers to take account for.

No. I have witnessed other food stalls having to respond to bulk orders as well. They ain’t Michelin rated stalls and there are actually quite a number of people waiting in the queue behind.

On on-the-spot catering orders

UNEXPECTED: There are times when you received on-the-spot bulk orders, but it’s rare. (Image: DishDash)

It is inevitable that there are occasions where an outlet will face on-the-spot bulk orders from time to time, more so if it’s famous. I mean, these are the kind of dishes that you can boast about having on your dining table when your family or kakis come over for a gathering right?

Handling on-the-spot bulk orders are not easy as well. There is no preparation for it and the food preparers will have to rush out the order. The stress that comes along with it can be comparable to trying to finish your 20 pages proposal within the stipulated duration on an hour. Many hawkers want to serve as many customers as they can – whether those who are queuing ‘virtually’ or ‘on-site’. I believe that they put in the effort to speed up the process so that everyone can get their food as fast as possible.

You can say that they can refuse bulk orders like these. But most hawkers are very down to earth people. It is not common for them to receive large orders and it is a big deal to them. They need the income to pay for their capital and for their families as well. These are opportunities and if it can make their life better, why not?

To be honest, I’ve queued for HKSSCRN twice. In both occasions, I did not once encounter bulk orders that held up queues like what Mr. Wickström mentioned. Although I can’t safely say that such orders aren’t an everyday routine for them, but I think it’s a matter of luck.

On food catering apps

SKIP THE QUEUE: Many people are now looking to 3rd-party delivery app to purchase their food. (Image: Hawker.today)

Another thing that is trending currently is the use of third-party delivery service. Many people are looking to these services to get their food without stepping out of their homes or offices. This is a business opportunity that no one – whether you are an SME (yes, I consider food stalls as SMEs as well) or large corporation – would not want to lose out on.

Giving your potential consumers the convenience of avoiding the inevitable queues and getting the delicacies delivered into the comfort of their homes/office, you will be attracting more businesses and that means more income.

Like I’ve mentioned, these hawkers have families to feed. You can’t blame them for jumping onto such opportunities. More orders mean more work and do you not know most of these hawkers developed health problems such as arthritis due to all the efforts put into those plates or bowls to delicacies on your dining table?

The Downside

Definitely, Mr. Wickström did in fact provided us with something to ponder about. Should queues be better managed? Are there other options that we can look into so that consumers need not wait in the queue for so long and to reduce the stress on the hawkers?

TAKE YOUR Q-NUMBER: Is it feasible to introduce queue number system to hawker stalls as well?

The implementation of queue numbers system could be one way of solving the issue right here. There are some stalls that have actually implemented it and there’s no sign of queue. Recently, there has been a rise in hawker stalls following the footsteps of the bigger F&B players by introducing the food buzzer system. Such system will notify customers through the buzzer provided to them without having to keep a constant lookout for the queue system display.

However, the cost of implementation has to be factored in as well. Whether or not these actually will increase efficiency and whether the stall owners want to embrace such technologies will be a total issue altogether. Yet, I think in order to keep the hawker culture well alive into the next decade, it will be good if stall owners could look into the field of technologies to better equip themselves.

Conclusion

I am not writing this to pick up an argument or whatsoever. As mentioned earlier, I just want to clarify a few things with regards to the hawker businesses. Your acrimonious allegations might not have gone down too well with me, but I thank you for providing something useful for us to think about.

You might not be the only one complaining about the queues and the inefficiencies. There might be flaws in our systems and it’s important that we can find ways to counter them to enhance local hawker experience.

Meanwhile, I extend my invitation to you to try out other famous hawker stalls not rated by Michelin (there are few lists available on Seth Lui, Miss Tam Chiak and The Smart Local for your references).

Hopefully, you won’t encounter bulk orders from anyone ahead of you when you are queuing up for your food again.

Of course if you don’t want to queue or think that it’s a waste of your time, there are plenty of third-party food delivery apps out there which you can download. Deliveroo, FoodPanda, UberEATS, WhyQ, yiHawker – just to name a few.

LEEgacy: A Tribute To Founding PM Lee Kuan Yew

LEE KUAN YEW
Founding Prime Minister, Singapore
(1923 – 2015)

Let us spare some time to commemorate the passing of the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. As the funeral procession is being carried out from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre, I would like to make use of this chance to dedicate this blog post to him, to reflect upon his legacy and to celebrate his life and achievements.

Mr. Lee passed away last Monday, 23 March 2015 at 3.18am.

It was a sad moment for all Singaporeans, Singaporeans from all walks of life, from every generation.

It has been 7 days since our state flag flew at half-mast as a respect to Mr. Lee.

For the past 7 days, especially during the times when Mr. Lee lies in state at the Parliament House from Wednesday to Saturday, it had showcased the effects and influences Mr. Lee has on the people. As of statistics reported on Channel NewsAsia at 1.48am on Sunday (29 March), nearly 1.5 million people turned up at the Padang and various Community sites to pay tribute to the late founding father. Out of which, 442, 297 people has visited the Parliament House.

(Image: bondingtool)

(Image: BBC)
(Image: Chron)
(Image: DailyMail)
(Image: Straits Times)
Everyone understands the fact that for without the contributions and sacrifices of Mr. Lee over his political years, there will be no Singapore we know and are staying in today.
There’s no need for me to reiterate what Mr. Lee has done for the country and for the people. Everyone knows it, deep within their own hearts and minds.
I myself was also present at both the Teck Ghee CC tribute site, SGH tribute site and the Parliament House to pay respect.

While I went to pay my tributes with BPang, Junwei and Hong Kiat at Teck Ghee CC, I stood in front of his portrait with my eyes closed.
I reflected upon his contributions he offered to the nation. It had not been an easy path. Economic prosperity, education opportunity, inter-racial harmony and happiness among the people. These have been taken for granted easier, especially by the citizens of my generation. Such successes are definitely not acts of coincidences.
In the lyrics of ‘We Are Singapore’,

There was a time, when people said that Singapore won’t make it, but we did. There was a time, when troubles seemed too much for us to take, but we did. We built a nation strong and free, reaching out together, for peace and harmony.

As this moment, it came to my enlightenment that the sake of the future of our nation and the future generation, we cannot afford to be complacent.

In the words of the late Mr. Lee,

“What I fear is complacency. When things always become better, people tend to want more for less work.”

We have to continue the mindset of determination and assiduous, left behind by Mr. Lee and the pioneer generation of citizens.

It is this mindset that shaped the country, from a ‘back alley’ of the British colony in South-east Asia to the front runner in international affairs, both politically and economically. Being the only country capable of turning its own fortune around, his passing reminds us that that’s not the end of progression. It means, a new chapter begins, today and from this moment onwards.

As I opened my eyes again, Mr. Lee’s face reemerged in my vision again.

I knew, I couldn’t let him down, let alone the previous generations of Singaporeans who had helped build the country.

I bowed thrice.

The first bow: represents my promise to the pioneer generation and Mr. Lee to continue their legacy and to carry forward the status of prosperity and stability of this country. We CANNOT afford to fall backwards. There’s only one direction for us to head, and that is, forward.

The second bow: represents my promise to my generation. We will all work hard, hand in hand, in our respective industries to bring the status of the country higher than it is now. We will all safeguard our national interest at all times, pushing aside personal gains for the progression of the nation.

The third bow: represents my promise to the future generation of Singaporeans. We will protect the nation and to hand the country to our children and grandchildren in the same state as when we are being handled or even better. Keep the country going and allow the future generations to benefit as more, if not, more than we did.

As I raised up from my final bow, I took a deep breathe, trying to contain my emotions.

I gave him a salute, signifying my highest form of respect given to an individual.

(Image: CNA)
I left, with many thoughts. Thoughts that are provoking yet inspirational. 
Despite the demise of Mr. Lee, he brought the country in unity for one last time.
News and ground reports over the past few days depicted many heartbroken and also touching moments where Singaporeans helped one another and showing care to each other. 
This is the real Singaporean Spirit.
Students giving out umbrellas at Padang when rain seems imminent during the state wake.
(Image: CNA)
Army helping to set up the tents and then to help to clear the venue.
(Image: CNA)
Volunteers, including kids, helped to clear the litters after the queue was closed at 8PM on Saturday.
(Image: CNA)
Politicians managed to set aside political differences to pay last respect to Mr. Lee.
(Image: CNA)
Children buying food and sharing it with the crowds.
Unnamed Minister bought food for those who were awaiting to pay tribute.
The resilience of the people being portrayed. 
(Image: CNA)
It is impossible not to not undermine the impact of Mr. Lee had on everyone of us. He brought us together and we must continue to stay together, like how we portrayed over the past few days.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Lee.

Thank you for all your contributions and do not worry, we will continue your legacy and bring Singapore to a greater heights.

Let us all stand together, regardless of where you are, in silence later at 4pm today to reflect and celebrate his life and successes.

Bendgate And How The Other Companies Rub Salt Into Apple’s Wound

By now, many of you would have know about the Bendgate incident which brought Apple’s newest product, the IPhone 6 into shame. For those of you who didn’t manage to catch up with the latest news (even though this incident is not that new anyway), here’s a short description. The Bendgate incident happened when users who, well, kiasu enough to queue up front to be one of the firsts to get their hands on the most ‘in’ product from one of the highest grossing electronic company in the world, realised that they can actually bend their IPhone 6.

I guess the bendy phone only adds to the misery of this guy.

(Image: newsfirst.lk)

Many in Perth were still glad that he dropped the IPhone, not the legendary Nokia phone. Probably he got home to realise that he’s probably not the luckiest person on Earth.

Meanwhile, the bendgate incident took a storm in the twittersphere and of course anywhere else on the World Wide Web. The moment it was reported, the world just went crazy.

And here, this blog post is going to collate some of the most satirical advertisement and parodies done by netizens and of course, major corporates.

. @vladsavov @verge I went to check, the bent iPhone 6 poster in Berlin is real an hilarious pic.twitter.com/6lRSbXWVtn
— Tom (@taknil) October 1, 2014

Someone’s Going To Pay For This
The person who’s in charge of this ad board in Berlin, Germany must have been fired from his company for making things for awkward and embarrassing for his client. But well, it seems like they are being honest in their advertising. At least, that’s something we should applause about.

This is freaking hilarious. From the Straits Times. #BendGate pic.twitter.com/CC5ubDmq0A
— Tan Jiawei (@Bananasian) September 29, 2014

Taylor Swift’s Version’s A Guarantee 
A comic drawn in The Straits Times, Singapore. Apparently, there are 3 different versions to the IPhone 6 Plus. And… I guess everyone’s going to get the Taylar Swift’s version? Is there a red colour one?

— breen (@mehreenrana) September 29, 2014

iRolling On The Floor Laughing
In this technologically advanced era, there’s no need for a stylus. All you need is this iRoll though. It can help you to make your phone looks flatter than ever before. Any Michelin chef interested in investing in one?

Five reasons why @KitKat got 28,000 shares on a single tweet: http://t.co/fpIV5mgyYZ #bendgate pic.twitter.com/qmskXFwtdM
— Nestlé (@Nestle) September 29, 2014

Have A Bend Break, Have A KitKat
I’d guess Apple should just take a break and we should all give them one. Here, have a KitKat. Oops, I bend, I mean I broke it into half.

LOOOOOL FAM #bendgate pic.twitter.com/eCEIkNiJ9f
— Mickey Goom™ (@Beatsbymichael) September 28, 2014

Bend It Like Beckham
I guess Becks will be the best candidate for brand ambassador., but at least goals are scored with Becks’ bend.

Bends rule! #bendgate #hyperbolicparabaloid pic.twitter.com/AlreYLQ6D1
— Pringles (@Pringles) September 25, 2014

We Need Some Sauce
Pringles’ potato chips have the curve. So do the IPhone 6 Plus. Not sure if we should trying eating the IPhone, but we surely need some sauce to dip into. Is there any sauce available at the App Store?

Our phone doesn’t bend, it flexes…on purpose. #bendgate pic.twitter.com/d1DudxDQgf
— LG USA Mobile (@LGUSAMobile) September 24, 2014

It Flexes… On Purpose
A response to the Bendgate incident from one of Apple’s rivals (They sure have lots of rivals I must emphasise). It is just as brilliant, at least they’ve got a reason for their flexes. Apple might have sued them for infringing copyrights, you know?

@iarjunrk: Let the Apple #Bendgate trolling begin . Will it bend? @Nokia pic.twitter.com/5O2GtTGkgu” HAHAHAHAHAHA iTROLL
— Ali Elnour (@itsALi01) September 27, 2014

No, Don’t Even Try
The legendary Nokia phone has something to say. Don’t even bother trying to bend that legendary phone. You don’t want to break the bones in your hands.

Dear Apple… #BendGate pic.twitter.com/XJ8zVEUog9
— Heineken NL (@Heineken_NL) September 25, 2014

Bend It Out
A message directed at Apple from the… erm… alcohol manufacturer. Not sure if they are feeling high right now.

Curved. Not bent. #GALAXYNoteEdge pic.twitter.com/OTPIYlI07f
— Samsung Mobile (@SamsungMobile) September 25, 2014

Curved
This tweet is an obvious evident on how intense the rivalry between the 2 of the world’s biggest smartphone makers. As much as Apple dislikes Samsung, Samsung dislikes Apple too. You’ll never see the end of the drama involving these two, it’s like Cold War, but this time between the West and
Asia. And I heard there’ll be a GapGate thing coming out, and we might see Apple taking its revenge soon.

A Personal Comparison Between JC & Poly Education

And so, I’ve received my results for my first semester in Chinese Media & Communication (CMC) yesterday. It has been like so long since I’ve seen such a decent result being shown on any of my own result slip. In fact, I’ve waited for this moment for about a year and 8 months

A year and 8 months. You didn’t see it wrong.

Definitely, I am not counting my A’ Level Project Work results — which is pretty much decent in my own definition. But too bad, it’s just a single subject and I doubt it’s of any value to me since the moment I decided to give up on the so-called ‘direct path’ to the University.

Ever since I received my O’ Level results in January 2013, my results have never go back to its glorious days. My year in Serangoon JC goes down in history as the most disastrous academic year for me to date. It started with an aspiration, then desperation comes into place and then depression. It eventually ends with devastation.

Well, I guess I need to blame most of it to my refusal to adapt to the sudden change in the academic environment. And my disability to absorb anything that seems just too difficult for me to even understand. Maybe, I lost interest in what I wanted to study — Econs, History, Chinese Lit. I just couldn’t cope with the fast pace of work in the JC.

I failed. Terribly.

At the same time, I need to make a confession here, I even make unnecessary inglorious record in the history of the school.

I decided, at the moment I received my last paper back from marking, I had to leave.

JC education is not the only route one can take when one heads into tertiary education in Singapore. I am sure there are definitely some adults, be it your parents or your relatives, who will encourage you to enter JC in order to have an ‘upper-hand’ when applying for the University.

Here, I need to give those of you who are taking O’ Levels this year or those who will be taking O’ Levels a warning. It appears to be true that you will have an upper-hand when entering your preferred University and your desired course in the future. BUT IT IS ONLY PROVIDED THAT YOU SCORE WELL IN YOUR A LEVELS.

BUT BEFORE THAT YOU HAVE TO GAIN PROMOTION BY OBTAINING THE MINIMUM RANK POINT THAT YOUR COLLEGE REQUIRES.

For those who are good in your academics throughout your secondary school years (esp. during Sec 3 and 4), good for you. JC might just well be the route for you.

For those who are very disciplined and take full ownership of your own work, good for you too. You have the potential to succeed in JC.

If you don’t meet the above two criterias I’ve listed, you have to be warned. JC education is not a stroll in the park. It’s not like secondary school education. The pace, like I’ve mentioned earlier on, it’s very very fast. Try to slacken just a bit, and you will find yourself lagging way behind in lectures and tutorials. People might not agree with me, but I need to say it here, you need to learn to study smart — something that I failed to do in my one year.

I am not saying Polytechnic education does not require self-discipline or good academics, it is equally important. However, for those of you who are complaining that ‘Those who say Poly are easier and fun, please think again’, I need to tell you the hard truth, what you are experiencing now, in terms of stress level and the level of coping, you are in fact having a better life.

Trust me, for a person who experienced both kind of tertiary education, I know just a little bit more. I might be wrong but I am just more accurate.

Let me ask you, do you need to return to school for academic purposes for at least 30% of your designated holidays?

Do you find yourself having to study even quite a bit during your long holiday (Referring to JC’s 1 month holiday and Poly’s 2 months holiday)?

Do you find that you actually have more time to participate in more extra-curriculum activities (eg. working, volunteering for events like NDP or Asian Games) compared to your friends in JC?

Ask yourself.

You might want to rebut that Polytechnic education covers a span of three years compared to the two years of normal JC. But do you know that you are going to study the same thing for examination for just one semester (let just take it as 4-5 months) and then you are free from the pressure of exam for that particular module. I need to be frank and say that you definitely cannot throw most of your knowledge away because it may come in useful for your other modules.

On the other hand, JC students have to deal with the same thing for 2 Years or even more (for MI students and those who are retained) and they have to add on to their knowledge weeks after weeks, not forgetting to add in the pressure of examination.

If you are saying they have 2 long years to study and get their results on track, try studying 2x (or even more) of your O’ Level syllabus in the 2 years.

It’s not easy.

And guess what? If you fail your Promos in Year 1, you will be retained. It’s definitely good if you managed to pull up your socks and achieve the promotion criteria in the next year. But if you fail to promote again, you will be superannuated.

Then where can you go? You have to spend three years in Polytechnic again in order to at least get a qualified academic certificate. That means you are going to spend 5 years in tertiary education.

What if you fail your Promos in your first year, pass it in your 2nd year, and then screw up your high-stake examination of the A-Level? You don’t have another chance anymore. Your route to university will just become longer.

What I want to say is that the danger of JC is that you have to do it extremely excellent in your A-Level in order to even be considered for your desired course and university.

Of course, Polytechnic education is not very easy either. Rushing project deadlines, working with people and being consistent in your work etc etc. These are also factors of stress. I mean in Singapore, how can you not feel a little bit of stress? You might even have to retake a certain a certain module if you failed it.

In conclusion, in my own opinion, it is advisable for people who are doing good or great in their O’ Level to consider the route of JC education and the rest, to opt for the Polytechnic education route. Well, I am not saying you can’t try otherwise, there are definitely people who succeed in A Levels even though they didn’t do very well prior to that.

Afterall, results doesn’t mean anything, it’s how much effort you want to put in to succeed. But it is important that you choose the route that suits you best.

Take me for a good example, I chose a path that I am not suitable of and I suffered. I left, in search for another path, and here I am now, feeling more sense of accomplishment. 🙂

PS: This is just my two-cents worth, you may agree or disagree with me but I don’t intent to offend anyone through this post. Cheers 🙂

Homophobia & the Society

Recently, there were many disputes and controversy surrounding the issue of homosexuality. And I decided to touch on that in one of my Social Psychology assignment. It was suppose to be a letter to media, but here I am, sharing with you all an extract of my work.  

(Image: dw.de)

“I am Eddy Chua, a student currently studying in a local polytechnic. I am writing in with the purpose of discussing one of the most important and critical problem that still in existence in a first-world nation, a status claimed by many (Furland, 2008). That is, the discrimination of homosexuality.
Despite the success of the ‘Pink Dot SG’ event, which saw an unprecedented 26000 people attending to rally for the rights of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders (LGBT) community (Pink Dot SG, 2014), the discrimination against homosexuality is still significant in local society (Alviar-Martin & Ho, 2010). A recent study has shown that Singapore is still a conservative society in regards to such issue with 78.2 per cent of the respondents finding it wrong and 72.9 per cent finds gay marriage unacceptable (Tham & Mokhtar, 2014). The current judiciary does not make things better by suppressing the rights of the LGBT community. Under the infamous Section 377A of the Penal Code, it criminalized homosexual acts with a jail term of up to two years. It is no stranger to locals that there have been law suits surrounding this law, with the most famous ones being Tan Eng Hong v. Attorney General (2012) and Lim Meng Suang and another v. Attorney General (2013). Both the suits challenged the act for being unconstitutional and a form of inequality but were eventually dismissed (Channel News Asia, 2013). Such inequality can be regarded as a form of discrimination. The LGBT community is discriminated because they are not doing things that are considered ‘mainstream’ and therefore, people thinks that they do not entitled the similar basic rights as other ‘normal’ human being (Donnelly, 1999). On the week leading up to this year’s Pink Dot’s event, some Christians and Muslim groups urges their followers to wear white in protest of the ‘normalisation of homosexuality’ (Reuters, 2014). Following that, two children books, “And Tango Makes Three” and “The White Swan Express”, were removed from the National Libraries after a feedback from a member of the public that the books contained LGBT contents and ‘does not promote family values’ (Channel News Asia, 2014). Such stigmatization may results in two main problems: one being stimulation of hostile reactions towards the LGBT community with little obvious motivations other than hatred (Adams, Wright, & Lohr, 1996)and second being the arosement of minority stress (Glassgold, et al., 2009). Homophobic hostilities might be imminent as long as a significant proportion of the public refused to acknowledge such kind of alternate lifestyle, which in turn might results in social unrest. For example in Russia, the anti-gay laws inspired extremists to throw verbal and physical abuses onto gays (Luhn, 2013) and fightings among the two groups were even witnessed (The Huffington Post, 2014). Such anti-gays sentiments will also increase the chance of having mental disorders among the LGBT community (Meyer, 2003), which is not idealistic to the overall mental health of the community.

(Image: thejournal.ie

With all the possible social problems that may occur, it is important that we as a society works together to improve the social cohesion of the country. I hereby suggest a couple of recommendations to improve the current situation. First, the LGBT population should start coming out of the closet if they have yet to. By not coming out, it gives others the impression that you are doubting even at your own beliefs. As soon as people recognise the LGBT population, the government and community leaders can help integrate them into the society, like what they did with the new immigrants. It is expected that heterosexuals who have more interactions with the LGBT community tend to be more accepting compared to those without interactions (Herek, 1996). By allowing more people to interact with the LGBT community, it helps to improve their relationship towards each other, hence resulting in a certain degree of mutual respect. Second, despite numerous failed attempts for the repealation of the infamous Section 377A act, I still believe that it is important that the legislation repeal an act which contains an obvious hint of discrimination. The act itself sets a social devider between the homosexuals and the heterosexuals (Singh, 2012). The government needs to show its support for a ‘strong and cohesive society’, a term which was mentioned in the Population White Paper (National Population and Talent Division, 2013). As long as the government voices their support, it would be a matter of time when the majority of the local population will be able to accept the LGBT community without the thinking that they are morally and lawfully “wrong”.


Bibliography

Adams, H. E., Wright, L. W., & Lohr, B. A. (1996). Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? University of Georgia. Georgia: American Psychological Association.
Alviar-Martin, T., & Ho, L.-C. (2010). “So, Where Do They Fit In?” Teachers’ Perspectives of Multi-Cultural Education and Diversity in Singapore. Nanyang Technological University, National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Channel News Asia. (2013, April 9). Singapore High Court Upholds Criminalisation of Homosexuality. Singapore. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-high-court/633188.html#
Channel News Asia. (2014, July 9). NLB Pulls Two Children’s Books That ‘Don’t Promote Family Values’. Retrieved July 10, 2014, from Channel News Asia: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/nlb-pulls-two-children-s/1247832.html
Donnelly, J. (1999). Non-Discrimination and Sexual Orientation: Making a Place for Sexual Minorities in the Global Human Rights Regime. University of Denver, Graduate School of International Studies, Denver.
Furland, E. B. (2008). Singapore, From Third To First World Country: The Effect Of Development In Little India and Chinatown . Norwegian University of Technology & Science , Department of Geography, Trondheim.
Glassgold, J. M., Beckstead, L., Drescher, J., Greene, B., Lin Miller, R., & Worthington, R. L. (2009). Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C.
Herek, G. M. (1996). Heterosexuals’ Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men: Does Coming Out Make A Difference? University of California at Davis, Department of Psychology, California.
Lim Meng Suang and another v. Attorney General, Originating Summons No 1135 of 2012 (April 9, 2013).
Luhn, A. (2013, September 1). Russian Anti-Gay Law Prompts Rise in Homophobic Violence. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/01/russia-rise-homophobic-violence
Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, Social Stress, and Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: Conceptual Issues and Research Evidence. Mailman School, Columbia University, Department of Sociomedical Sciences. New York: Psychological Bulletin.
National Population and Talent Division. (2013). A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore. National Population and Talent Division, Singapore.
Pink Dot SG. (2014, June 29). Unprecedented 26,000 Celebrate Family, Friends, and Love at Pink Dot 2014. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from PinkDot.sg: http://pinkdot.sg/unprecedented-26000-celebrate-family-friends-and-love-at-pink-dot-2014/
Reuters. (2014, June 23). Wear white to protest Singapore pink gay rally, religious groups say. Singapore. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/23/us-singapore-protests-idUSKBN0EY0SB20140623
Singh, G. (2012, February 23). Government Needs to Take Clear Stand on Homosexuality Law. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from The Mail Online India: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2105157/Government-needs-clear-stand-homosexuality-law.html
Tan Eng Hong v. Attorney General, Civil Appeal No 50 of 2011 (Court of Appeal August 21, 2012).
Tham, Y.-C., & Mokhtar, M. (2014, January 28). Singaporeans Still Largely Conservative, IPS Survey Finds. The Straits Times.
The Huffington Post. (2014, March 24). Russian ‘Thugs’ Mistake St. Patrick’s Day Flashmob For Gay Rights Group And Violently Attack. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from Huffpost Gay Voices: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/24/russia-st-patricks-day-attack-_n_5022961.html

Make Everyone Understands

(Image: memeshare)

They finally understand.

Okay. Chill down, me ain’t no taking about Minesweeper. Ignore that word in that photo up there.

Our dear gahmen finally understand the need of using dialects. I mean they finally understand how to convey important messages to the senior citizens through the use of dialects. Ever since the introduction of the Speak Mandarin Campaign in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, we have seen the prominent success of the government campaign. However, if you tend to take a look at it at another angle, it also meant that the number of dialect speakers in this country is decreasing drastically. Go out on the streets one day, pick out 10 random youths you see and ask them which dialect group they are from. Maybe, 6 to 7 of them can answer you. Now, challenge them to see if they can speak their own dialects.

Maybe only one of them could speak fluently in his/her dialect. (Look, even President Obama is sad with that. Er.. Wait. What does he got to do with this? Haha.)

(Image: troll.me)

Although that is my assumption, but that is still accurate since it is based on the groups of friends I have. That’s a relatively sad truth we have to face.

As from a quote from former PM Lee Kuan Yew, who somehow masterminded the campaign, during his speech at the Speak Mandarin Campaign’s 30th Anniversary Launch:

To effectively promote Mandarin, we closed down all dialect programs on radio and TV from 1979. Also, I was setting a bad example making speeches in Hokkien in the 1960s and ‘70s to reach the largest number of Chinese. From 1979, some 30 years ago, I decided to stop speaking in Hokkien and switched to Mandarin. Had I not done this, Hokkien/Teochew will be the predominant common language for the Chinese in Singapore, not Mandarin.”

This is how the government massacred the use of dialects. They started from controlling what you are watching and cut off your ties with dialects. Other than the older generations who were not affected because they could still converse with each other in their respective dialects. The so-called ‘success’ of the entire campaign came for Singaporeans who were born after the late 1980s. They were mainly brought up speaking Mandarin, listening to Mandarin. That’s still good compared to people who were brought up speaking English, listening to English, and were incompetence in the language in which their ancestors have been speaking and writing for at least a thousand years.

Well. At least most of them understands Chinese. It’s a kind of consolation to our ancestors.

However, don’t you realise the missing-in-action of dialects resulted in the wider generation gap between this generation and the older generations (not including the generation of their parents)? I mean, don’t you think it lack the kind of familiarity and friendliness?

I’ve been taught Teochew since young because my father is Teochew and grew up speaking that language at home. I also speaks and understand Hokkien because my mum is a Hokkien (plus I always watch Taiwanese dramas). I am glad I grew up in such condition because it makes it easier for me when I am conversing with those older people in my neighbourhood. They will be very happy to talk to you and want to talk to you more because you make it easy for them to express themselves through the use of dialects.

Some quotes from former PM Lee again, same speech, same event:

The value of a language is its usefulness, not just in Singapore, but also in the wider world. If you speak Hokkien or Cantonese, you reach some 60 million in Fujian and Taiwan, or about 100 million in Guangdong and Hong Kong. With Mandarin, you can speak to 1,300 million Chinese from all provinces in China. Now, overseas Chinese and foreigners are learning Mandarin, not Chinese dialects. China is setting up 500 Confucius Institutes in different countries to teach Mandarin to many millions of people around the world.”

“To keep a language alive, you have to speak and read it frequently. The more you use one language, the less you use other languages. So the more languages you learn, the greater the difficulties of retaining them at a high level of fluency. “

For many who knows me, they know I am a dialect-speaker at home, but they also know how good I am with my written Chinese and my spoken Mandarin. And I write in English, like what I do on my blog and I make videos, act and even give speeches in English. If we want to, we can master our dialect, Mandarin and English together. Dialects with the elders/at home, Mandarin and English in schools and with friends. How is that difficult?

Anyway, why did I suddenly have the intention to write this blog? It was after when I saw this video:

This is the government’s effort in explaining the Pioneer Generation Package to our pioneer generation. And they finally realised that they have to make sure everyone of them understands what goodies they will be entitled to. They know that conversing with them in Hokkien is inevitable.
But then, why on earth are you putting that only on the Internet. 
(Image: memegen)
It is widely assumed that many of our seniors doesn’t use the internet, let alone surfing on YouTube to listen to what you have to offer. Just remove Part 13.4 of the MDA’s Free-to-Air Television Programme Code and put that up on Channel 8 or maybe, Channel NewsAsia. I think that will be more ‘targeting your audience’, right?
For those of you who wants to be more convinced on the reintroduction of dialects, you can read these two well-written articles: Here and Here.
P.S. Not sure why when I read former PM Lee Kuan Yew’s speech during the Speak Mandarin Campaign ‘s 30th Anniversary Launch back in 2009 for research to write this post, I feel like he was in the wrong event. He should be at Speak Good English Campaign instead. I am confused.

Dear Mandela

 

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013
 
On the morning of 6 December, Singapore time, I received one of the shocking news ever through the internet. Yes, one of the greatest political figure ever lived, Mr. Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95.
 

It was really saddening, not only to the people of South Africa, not only to the inhabitants of the African continents, but to the entire human race. Mandela had dedicated almost his entire lifetime into helping his own people to find liberation in their own land.

As tributes are flowing into the South African city of Johannesburg while I am writing this blog post, let us recap how this man brought about a revolution to his own country.

Born in 18 July 1918 in Mveso, Transkei, South Africa, to a Thembu royal family. He was given a forename of Rolihlahla, which was commonly translated as ‘troublemaker’. However, he was later known by his clan name, Madiba. His father was supposed to be the chief of the clan. He served as a councilor to the tribal chiefs for several years before losing both his title and fortune over a dispute with the local colonial magistrate. When Mandela was 9 year-old, his father died of lung disease. His life changed completely this point of time. He was adopted by the acting regent of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. 

He studied in a one-room school beside the palace, where he was exposed to African history, in which he developed an interest towards. He learned how the African people had lived in relative peace until the coming of the white people. According to the elders, the children of South Africa had previously lived as brothers, but white men had shattered this fellowship. While black men shared their land, air and water with whites, white men took all of these things for themselves. 

As a Thembu royalty, Mandela attended a Wesleyan mission school, the Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Wesleyan College, where, he would later state, he achieved academic success through “plain hard work.”  In 1939, Mandela enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare, the only residential center of higher learning for blacks in South Africa at the time. Fort Hare was considered Africa’s equivalent of the University of Oxford or Harvard University, drawing scholars from all parts of sub-Sahara Africa. In his first year at the university, Mandela took the required courses, but focused on Roman Dutch law to prepare for a career in civil service as an interpreter or clerk—regarded as the best profession that a black man could obtain at the time.

Young Mandela, c. 1937. (Image: Wiki Commons)


While he was at Fort Hare, Mandela was elected into the Student Representative Council. However, in alignment with the rest of the population who threatened to boycott the election due to their dissatisfaction about food and lack of power held by the council, Mandela resigned from the Council. He was subsequently expelled from the school. When he returned home, Regent Jongintaba announced that he had arranged a marriage for him. Upon hearing this, Mandela decided to run away from home and eventually settled in Johannesburg. While in Johannesburg, Mandela worked a variety of jobs and at the same time, completing his bachelor’s degree via correspondent courses. He enrolled into the University of Witwatersrand after that in order to pursue law.

Mandela soon become actively involved in anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942. For the subsequent 20 years, Mandela directed peaceful, non-violent acts of defiance against the then South African government and its racist policies. These include the Defiance Campaign in 1952 and the Congress of the People in 1955. The law firm, Mandela & Tambo, he founded with Oliver Tambo provided free and low-cost legal counsel to unrepresented blacks. However, in 1956, Mandela and 150 over other activists were arrested for treason and were all acquitted of the crime subsequently.

In 1961, Mandela, previously committed to non-violence struggle against the government, began to believe that armed struggle was the only way to achieve their aim. He co-founded the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which is an armed wing of the ANC dedicated to sabotage and guerrilla war tactic to end apartheid. 

In 1961, Mandela orchestrated a three-day national workers’ strike. He was arrested for leading the strike the following year, and was sentenced to five years in prison.

In 1963, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years in prison. During this time, he contracted tuberculosis and, as a black political prisoner, received the lowest level of treatment from prison workers. However, while incarcerated, Mandela was able to earn a Bachelor of Law degree through a University of London correspondence program.Mandela was brought to trial again. This time, he and 10 other ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment for political offenses, including sabotage.

A 1981 memoir by South African intelligence agent Gordon Winter described a plot by the South African government to arrange for Mandela’s escape so as to shoot him during the recapture; the plot was foiled by British intelligence. Mandela continued to be such a potent symbol of black resistance that a coordinated international campaign for his release was launched, and this international groundswell of support exemplified the power and esteem that Mandela had in the global political community.

In 1982, Mandela and other ANC leaders were moved to Pollsmoor Prison, allegedly to enable contact between them and the South African government. 

On February 11, 1990, Mandela was officially released.  The South African government then unbanned the ANC, removed restrictions on political groups and suspended executions. 

That same year, Mandela was elected president of the ANC and continued to negotiate with the South African government (led by State President Frederik Williem de Klerk) towards the country’s first multiracial election.

In 1993, Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.

Mandela & de Klerk receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, 1993 (Image: SABC)

        

The negotiation eventually turned out to be a success. South Africa held its first democratic elections. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy.
(Image: Blackpast)
Mandela swearing-in, 1994 (Image: BBC)
Also in 1994, Mandela published an autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, much of which he had secretly written while in prison. The following year, he was awarded the Order of Merit.
Cover, Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela (Image: eBay)
From 1994 until June 1999, Mandela worked to bring about the transition from minority rule and apartheid to black majority rule. He used the nation’s enthusiasm for sports as a pivot point to promote reconciliation between whites and blacks, encouraging black South Africans to support the once-hated national rugby team. In 1995, South Africa came to the world stage by hosting the Rugby World Cup, which brought further recognition and prestige to the young republic.
Mandela also worked to protect South Africa’s economy from collapse during his presidency. Through his Reconstruction and Development Plan, the South African government funded the creation of jobs, housing and basic health care. In 1996, Mandela signed into law a new constitution for the nation, establishing a strong central government based on majority rule, and guaranteeing both the rights of minorities and the freedom of expression.

Freedom for the blacks in South African is finally being achieved.

(Special Credits to biography.com)
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Yes, Mandela has done a lot to the South African community. However, not only that, his action also affected the rest of the world, leading to anti-racism campaign everywhere. I am a person who don’t really know how to craft a really emotional script but here’s what I want to say to Mandela:

Dear Mandela,

Thank you for all your hardwork that you’ve put in for the blacks. Thank you for showing the world that how important it is to build a multi-racial society away from racist policies and that racist politics has no right to be existing in this world. You are a leader. A legendary revolutionary figure. Your influence does not end within the borders of South Africa, neither it ends within the borders of the African continent, in face, your influence is of no limit. You did not only change Africa, but the world too.

After 1994, everyone learnt that there can actually be equality of rights among the whites and the blacks, the yellows and the browns. In fact, because of your influence, skin colours have already made no difference in world politics: everyone is regarded as equal.

Thank You for your existence. May you be in peace.