Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wake up to the new media

Read this online (link here).
New faces flamed online
But they say they will focus on working the ground for elections
By Rachel Chang & Robin Chan 
NEW People's Action Party (PAP) candidates may have been prepared beforehand for a frosty reception in cyberspace, but the speed and malice with which some of them are being picked apart online have come as a shock.
Within days and sometimes hours of their introduction to the media as PAP candidates, private pictures and even court documents have been dug up and disseminated online, and forums lit up with debate and speculation.
Although the new candidates admit that the sound and fury of cyberspace has taken them aback, they say they are trying to tune out the most vicious comments and focus on working the ground for the coming general election.
The two female candidates introduced thus far have been the subject of the most intense scrutiny online.
Pictures from the Facebook account of the PAP's youngest female candidate, 27-year-old business consultant Tin Pei Ling, showing her posing with a Kate Spade shopping bag or with her husband on holiday, were posted on various websites and blogs.
Netizens have also raged over her young age, and alleged that her being fielded was due to her husband's position as principal private secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In the case of Ms Foo Mee Har, the Standard Chartered banker, an application for a bankruptcy order against a Mr Bernard Chan, who netizens claim is her husband, has spread to various forums.
The fact that she became a Singaporean only in 2008 has also come under heavy fire online.
When I carefully read the ST article, I came to a few observations and conclusions:
  1. Unprepared for the backlash and online flames
    The PAP came nowhere close to being prepared online - frosty or flame-grilled, steamed or stir-fried. Else the article would have been titled "New faces flamed online but we are prepared", and it would not follow "But they say they will focus on working the ground for elections".

    This is a typical response when one is 'caught when pants down' but choose to be nonchalant. In order words "Let's move on".
  2. Monkey see, monkey do
    Let's be frank, the ruling party has time and again used the main stream media (MSM) to publicise its good image and propaganda works, eg abolone porridge. And the same medium is used to smear opposition parties and candidates.

    I would not forget Tan Lead Shake the slipper-man and the James Gomez saga. Oh I'd thrown in the scrutiny pressure of Presidential candidate Andrew Kuan, and the heaps of scorn and 'insanity' of Dr Chee Soon Juan. In addition the recent fallouts between Desmond Lim and SDA, and the 'disintegration' of the Reform Party.

    Pot call the kettle black, eh?
  3. Newbies and rookies
    Allow me get this straight - I have nothing against young MPs. But seriously why don't you put these rookies or 'newbies' into a single-ward member constituency contest?

    If they win, hey it's the people's choice! A soaring phoenix emerges strong from the baptism of fire. They are worth their salt and dollars paid! However I reckon these newbies (a derogatory remark termed specially by ST for new opposition candidates but called new PAP candidates - new faces) will hide behind the coat-tails of their heavy weight masters in GRCs.

    Don't be surprised when the online community provide them their own version of the baptism of fire.

    I pondered - what does this 27-year-old candidate Miss Tin know about raising a family, life's hardship and 'bread and butter' issues? Life's journey often do not come from books or teachings. Principles that I adhere to strongly 10 years ago are no longer relevant to me now. But some of them came at a high price, or steep learning curve.

    Rookie? You bet. In my view being married to the principal private secretary of the PM keenly puts a wedge of divide between the people and the eliteness of the candidate. Nothing personal, I hope :P

    The other candidate Ms Foo may be someone more suitable. However she might have arrived at a wrong time when foreign talent/labour uproar and new citizen issues are heated topics. Just like a boiling soup spilling over. Locals have criticised that they felt sorely disadvantaged with National Service, missed opportunities and jobs lost but taken by these foreigners. Add in spicy ingredients like foreign talents who treat the Singapore passports like trash - they take it up only to give it up again at a blink of an eye.

    So there we have it - hot, spicy curry soup with wasabi-flavour. Yucks!
  4. Truth be told
    Whatever letters we write (at least I do but never got published) to the ST have been edited and often the contents or intents changed. Whatever government forums we feedback to tend to be lost in translation. So this new media has become a platform to vent unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

    Purely because you, PAP, has turned a deaf ear to our words.

    Frankly I sense the newspapers trying to play the candidates as cornered puppies while making the netizens look bad and petty. I'd thought these media would have jumped at the chance to broadcast such articles. Hey seriously even baby-faced Kevin Rudd was not spared. I am certain their readership will soar and profit-takings increased with this election coverage! Alas no.
Will the newspapers publish my article? Heh, wake up to the new media... and smell the coffee.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

About time for a change

You know you need a new political climate change when you smile while watching it. This classy video took a dig at the so-called 'clean, white' image of the PAP. The intended pun was subtle yet it drove a strong message.

This is way better than the usual 'I have been around for the past 20 years' slogan that every PAP candidate and member had been practicing and regurgitating... like a pathetic broken record.

Looks like this GE is gonna pose a real challenge to the PAP with this kind of campaigning. About time for a change, don't you think?

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

We were in Japan when the earthquake hit!

There are two parts to this post - the first one is my personal account experiencing the earthquake in Japan. The other is a reflection of how the earthquake experience surfaced my true loyalty for my country.

----- Earthquake experience in Japan -----
I am still in Japan, Kyoto. My family is with me. This is our ninth day of our first holiday trip to Japan. I had more than I bargained for.

We experienced the effects of the earthquake on our first day. Having touched down at Narita Airport, we took the Narita Express train to Tokyo. We felt our first tremours when the train stopped at Chiba station, 45 mins away from Narita Airport.

The carriage we were in rattled quite violently. I seriously thought that we were changing lines but it became clear when I looked out the windows and saw lamp posts swaying to and fro! People we all scrambling out of the buildings nearby and there were loud siren sounds.

It was initially exhilarating but we soon realised the severity of the situation. After two hours of waiting in the train, it dawned on the passengers that we were not going anywhere that night. A passenger having mobile access on his laptop shared the news with us.

8.9 magnitude of earthquake had just struck Japan off the coast! Counting back, it was about the time we touched down the airport. Imagine the earthquake hitting Japan while my plane was touching down. Truly thankful to God!

All train services in Japan were suspended and the railway lines disrupted. The good news is that we had heating in the train and we slept on cushioned chairs. Other commuters in Chiba station had to sleep on the floor because they could not get home. It was freezing cold. One of my colleague working in Japan walked 4 hours back home from Tokyo.

The second night was in a guest house. I experienced another bout of tremours when the room started shaking. This happened in the middle of the night. As usual only I was awake. Rachel and missus were rocking in their sleep... snoring. In such situations I know God is with us and I thank Him that we were away from the coastal regions when it hit. Our hearts are with those who had lost their homes and loved ones.

I was told that Japan experiences more than 1000 a year. That is a hefty number but everybody still goes about their daily living as if part and parcel of life.

In spite of this adverse and catastrophic event, the Japanese people were orderly and calm. There were anxious faces but I truly admire their courage and resilient spirit. There was no looting reported or chaotic reactions. Truly organised. And heart-warming too when I heard local citizens offering free lodging to these stricken families. By the way a big BOO to Channel News Asia (CNA) for profiteering on the demise of others. Shame on you!

----- Personal reflection of the earthquake -----
I read the news of foreigners fleeing the country. I can understand their flight. They have nothing to gain out of this calamity. I can also comprehend the Japanese sticking their necks out for their homeland. Especially the 50 Fukushima heroes.

Unfortunately I can imagine how Singaporeans will react in the face of such calamity.

I can imagine a widespread panic. I can imagine my government-welcomed foreigners leaving the country in droves. I can imagine having a national crisis because a lot of these critical jobs had been taken up by foreigners, eg nurses are now leaving the country. I can imagine my ministers telling us to remain calm yet sending their loved ones on the first plane out of the country. I can even imagine looting happening. Interestingly I did not hear any news of looting in Japan.

Sadly I can imagine myself among the throngs of people heading to Changi Airport and lining up at an airline counter.

Before anyone starts a 'higher-than-thou' flamewar on my blog, all I can say is these are my heartfelt words. No use hiding behind a fake loyalty and noble chivalry. We, Singaporeans, are a pragmatic lot... a saying often heard.

Since I am in a reflective mood, I will pen down my honest feelings. I do not know what I am defending as Lim Zi Rui had honestly pointed out.

My Singapore. More than 30% are foreigners in my homeland. I am not sure if the 'kampong spirit' still lives within her shores. Meritocracy rules the day, and a mercenary-spirit lives amongst us. The fittest survive, the goals outweigh the journey. It does not matter if my table-tennis batters are China Chinese as long as we get the gold medals and put our country in the international sports arena.

We employ foreigners where locals could have filled those positions. We pay exorbitant salaries to these foreign talents when we could have fed two to three Singaporean families with the same amount. My president is going to get a hefty pay increase of close to a million and my ministers are looking forward to a huge increase/bonus. My fellow citizens meanwhile have to erk out a living under high inflation and wait for a 30% increase of their wage over the next ten years.

I am told the ministers need to be paid millions and MPs given good money to keep their talents. Yet many of  these people have never contested in any elections and represent us by means of walkovers. These people do not need to be challenged with natural disasters, large land mass area of a country spotted with large cities larger than Singapore herself and far between each other. I am told that Singapore is always in a precarious position because she does not have natural resources. Perhaps that itself is a blessing in disguise because these ministers do not need to wreck their brains during such catastrophic events. Pffft, they hardly even know how to deal with a once-in-fifty-year flood in Orchard Road!

I don't know how the Japanese are managing and coping with calamity after calamity. But having visited their country and observing their undaunted spirits, I am convince they will emerge stronger.

In the case of Singapore, I still don't know what I am defending.
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I think I cracked a toenail

The Straits Times reported (link here):
PM: Lower hurdle for opposition parties
Smaller GRCs and more single-seat wards offer more scope for contest
By Elgin Toh and Li Xueying
POLITICAL parties planning to contest the next election have to clear a lower hurdle than at previous polls, the Prime Minister declared on Friday in his first comments on the new electoral map.
He pointed to key changes in the way electoral boundaries are demarcated this time round, in line with guidelines he announced in Parliament in May 2009.
As a result, the average number of MPs per group representation constituency (GRC) has come down from 5.4 to five. The number of six-member GRCs has been whittled down from five to two, while that of single-member constituencies (SMCs) goes up from nine to 12.
'This should lower the hurdle for parties intending to contest the elections,' Mr Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday in comments to the media.
The boundary changes unveiled on Thursday also affect many incumbent MPs, he said. In other words, the changes hit People's Action Party MPs too.
The new boundaries leave the two opposition-held SMCs of Hougang and Potong Pasir intact, but sweeping changes have hit most of the other nine SMCs. Five have been absorbed into GRCs, while eight new ones have been created.
Are we for real? I'd reckon a better man will be silent and take the quiet victory rather than 'whitewash' it and try to look magnanimous. Sheesh... I have never known a political party in power to 'make way' for the opposition. You must have been the first.

Do you think we are daft? But I daresay, your daddy might be right. There will always be daft people who will believe anything.

I wonder aloud after so many hours/days/months spent in dialogged discussions, detailed planning and risk takings, to the final adjustment of the electoral boundaries by the elusive, invisible and the 'I-know-whom-but-you-don't' members of the Electoral Commission...

...the purpose of the redrawing is really to benefit the opposition, or in your own words "to lower the hurdles for contesting parties". Really? *eyebrows raised*

Truth be told - there is nothing much to lower. It took a rock bottom hit when opposition parties' hands are tied and their mouths silenced with defamation. Throw in GRC and gerrymandering and nothing else matters.

From the same mouth who said "the redrawing is to help the opposition parties" bespoke "GST is to help the poor".

Can I believe you? I bet the yes-men will believe anything. They might even agree that 'air coming out from your posterior end' smells like perfume too.

I seriously want to believe you. But my toes are laughing so hard. I think I cracked a toenail.
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