Thursday, July 27, 2006


In an increasing secular, technologically advanced world, there exists a bunch of archaic, bigoted group of imbecilical creatures, who are hell-bent (literally) on imposing their faiths on just about every aspect of secular life.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I am writing about this very unique species of homo sapiens.....the religious fundamentalists, or fundies for short.

These religious nutters come in all shapes and sizes: From the turban wearing terrorists of Osama and his merry gang, to the hatred, gay-hating morons of Pat Robertson, these religious fanatics have only one aim in mind:

To create a New World Order, whereby or other creeds and faiths are either subjugated to the point of oblivion, or at worse, annihiliated.


Few would imagine that, in democratic, civilized societies, people would actually feel threatened, or coerced, to limit freedom of speech in the name of respect.

Inevitably, though, conflict arises between members of secular free press and the respective religious authorities, and from time to time, such conflicts may lead to sacrilegous outrage, the likes of which may lead to calls ranging from minor restrictions to freedom of the press and speech (Think book burning), or at the extreme end of the spectrum, calling for the heads of the purported perpetrators of the perceived blasphemy.



One of the most publicized, if not notorious, incident, involved a certain writer of Indian origin, Salman Rushdie.

In Sep 1988, publications of his controversial work, The Satanic Verses, which, amongst other things, was a direct impliance to a little-known fact of the Islamic religion, that of the three pagan goddesses, which was written, according to an Arab historican, Ibn Ishaq (Approx. A.D 700), by Muhammad and incorporated with the Islamic religion. Muhammad himself later revoked the goddesses, claiming he was under the influence of the Devil.

This inference, it seemed, was deemed too blasphemous by the Muslims world, and subsequent violent protests erupted in many parts of the world. India, Rushdie's homeland, became the first to ban the book. Iran's Ayatollah at that time, Khomeini, issued a fatwa (death edict) and issued a bounty for his life. The book's Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was assassinated, stabbed to death at his university. Others, such as Italian translator Ettore Capriolo and publisher William Nygaard, survived assassination attempts.

Following the footsteps of India, many bookshops refused to sell Rusdie's book. Religion, it seems, has enforced its own standards on secular freethought: Respect, it seems, can only be earned through death threats, bloodshed and cold-blooded murder.



Fundies from the Christian world, it seems, have caught on with this wave of self-censorship.

Of course, who would forget the ignominy of the widespread riots, protests, and blood-cuddling cries for the heads of the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, for a series of cartoons mocking the figurehead and founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad? First published in September 2005, the cartoons were a relative unknown, till some disgruntled Danish muslims decided to raise a ruckus, and the subsequent violence and riots that ensued made CNN headliines in Feb 2006 (link to my article on the cartoon fracas here).


While no riots broke out in Singapore, incidents of bloggers being arrested under the bogus crime of "sedition", such as making "racist" remarks, and drawing cartoons depicting Jesus as a evil, baby-eating zombie, did make headlines.

Clearly, religious fundamentalists have stoked the flames of religious bigotry: As long as you insult someone's religion, be prepared to live under the shroud of fear. Pure, unadulterated, religious fear.



One would admit, of course, that Christianity is one of the major, bitter rivals of the Islamic sect. However, this has not prevented Christian fundamentalist baffoons from drawing a leaf from her enemy's books: Decrying the works of Dan Brown as sacrilegous, falsification and distortion of "factual" history (as if the bible was "factual" in the first place), many Christians have cried hue over the subsequent released movie of the novel, and demanding it to be banned. It seems that, Dan Brown's works are a threat to the faiths of a couple of billion Christians around the world.

Well, they did succeed in getting it banned in Manila, and parts of India, but the underlying, disturbing issue is this: Why such outbursts of rage?

Da Vinci code was written as a novel. "Factualization" is not a must for any novel, even if the book proclaims to be "based on a true story". Besides, if a mere novel-cum-movie has the impact of affecting the faiths of people, what does that say about Christianity and its inherents? As fragile as a deck of cards?


In sum, these fools are demanding that, art, in any shape and form, should respect people's feelings and beliefs.

Demanding respect? Let me see.......

How does Christianity demand respect when:

1. Numerous priests of the Catholic Church have yet been committed of paedophiliac crimes against altar boys, thanks to the massive cover-up by the Catholic Church?

2. The majority of the Christian fraternity has yet to convince their leaderships that gender equality is no longer sacrilegous?

3. That condoms, birth control pills and its inherents are not the products of the devil, but painstaking research by well-meaning practitioners of the medical field?

4. Recognizing the fact that gays and lesbians have every right to demand for civil liberties just like everyone else?

How does Islam demand respect when:

1. Most Islamic women in fundamentalist countries are subjugated by stifling laws and mandates that restricts their clothings and confine them to their homes?

2. Acts of terrorism being acted out in the name of Islam, but rarely have they been condemned by leading muslim clerics?

3. That instead of mass protests against American tyranny in the Guantanamo and other atrocities, that they take up issues as trivial as cartoons drawn by some Danish newspaper?

Folks, don't get me wrong. I respect people, and I respect the fact that the masses have a right to subscribe to their individual faiths and creeds.

But please do not expect me, and other infidels the likes of me, to respect your individual faiths.

I may respect the guy next to me, but I certainly wouldn't admire his dedication of flagellating himself in the name of some deity. Nor would I respect someone's ritual of praying five times a day in the direction of some obscure, desert city.

Respect is a reciprocative affair: One is only respected when one has achieved a certain status, or stature, to actually earn that respect for himself or herself.

Demanding respect through the use of violence, intimidation, and other scary tactics is definitely not my cup of tea, nor anyone else with a sane mind, for that matter.

"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
-- H. L. Mencken

Sunday, July 16, 2006


More often than not, the issue of upgrading has often been a forefront of political debate in Singapore, especially during the General Elections.

It has always been the bane for constituency wards who vote for opposition parties, that, as long as they continue to continue with their staunch support of opposition parties, chances are, their chances of seeing their flats being upgraded goes up in smoke.

Given the fact that HDB housing programs are an integral part of many Singaporeans' lives, it is no surprise that HDB schemes have remained as one of the chief concerns of many a heartlander.


For the most part, the real gist behind this upgrading issue has been the property of HDB flats.

As the supposed logic goes, the prices of flats escalates when flats are upgraded, possibly because of the additional balcony and lifts added, and a better aesthetic view (important for some of the older states).

Another issue that is linked with the upgrading project has to do with the aging population: As the population ages, it becomes imperative to provide access to lifts for every floor, since HDB flats typically towers 12 storeys and above (The latter-generation flats can reach up to 20 storeys).



The unbridled truth is, Singaporeans clamour for upgrading: Since the implementation of the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP) in 1992, the upgrading issue has become the focus of PAP's election agenda.

GE 2006 was no different: The ruling incumbent's agenda dished out assurances that wards which voted for their candidates would be eligible for the latest rounds of upgrading. This would, in fact, implicate the situation in the predominantly opposition-supporting wards, particularly Chiam See Tong's Potong Pasir.

How is it that a political party has enough political clout to influence a government institute and aschew a national housing program to the party's benefit?

The answer it seems, lies in the fact that at least 80% of Singapore's population live in HDB flats, and this is a fact that has not been lost to the ruling party, as National Development Minister, Mah Bow Tan, points out:


Upgrading for all wards, but PAP ones first

NATIONAL Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has come out to clear the air on the upgrading of opposition wards, saying that their lifts will be upgraded by 2015 at the latest, but PAP wards will still get priority.

After the election results on May 7, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the People's Action Party (PAP) would have to review its strategy in the opposition wards.

Mr Mah made it clear that this review would not affect the policy of giving lift upgrading priority to PAP wards. 'There is no change, that policy still remains. Giving PAP wards priority does not mean that the Government intends to deprive opposition wards of upgrading, he added.

The Government has pledged that by 2015, all HDB blocks, including those in opposition wards, will have lifts that stop on every floor, with the exception of a small number of blocks whose designs make such works too costly.

To select precincts for upgrading, the ministry uses three criteria: the age of the blocks, the geographical spread to ensure upgrading is not concentrated in only a few constituencies and support for the Government.

While acknowledging that many thought it unfair to link votes to upgrading, Mr Mah defended the policy as 'not unreasonable'.

He said the massive and costly upgrading programme was only possible because of the Government's policies, which generated economic growth and the Budget surpluses needed to fund it.

And these policies could only be implemented if the Government received the people's mandate.

'We really need to be fair to the people who voted for the PAP candidate. Upgrading has been a major election platform for the PAP and those who support the PAP candidate expect their MPs to deliver on their promises.'

Source: Extracted from ST 11 June 2006

Pretty heady stuff, I would say.

As Mr Mah Bow Tan pointed out, HDB upgrading for Singapore's various precincts is based on:

1. Age of the flats.

2. Even geographical spread for upgrading.

3. Support for government.

While I agree with the first two criteria, the third criteria seems pretty controversial, if not dodgy.

How does one equate "support for government" with the upgrading of flats? Would it be fair to demonize opposition wards, by saying: "Sorry folks, you didn't vote for us, so you have to wait just a while longer."?

The chief crux of this unfair policy is this: Does the HDB serve the people, or the ruling party? Perhaps I am mistaken, but if civil servants work for the HDB, shouldn't the people's interest come first, instead of the ruling parties?

After all, a civil servants are not deemed "servants" for nothing: They are servants to the civilian population, not the ruling elite. Otherwise they'd been known as government servants (or slaves, if you will).

In short, not only is a government institution bowing to every whim of a ruling party, the political party practically overlords government institutions.

It is interesting to note that, when issues of upgrading arises, we hear little, or next to nothing, from officials from the HDB itself, with regards to the upgrading issue. Which is rather strange, considering that they are supposed to be at the centre of this political maelstrom. Could it be that, the current chairwoman of the board, Aline Wong, has decided to toe the party line, given the fact that she was an ex-MP, and had held various appointments in parliament?

It is a pity that opposition wards have to wait till 2015 to get their flats upgraded. Not only is it unfair for the residents, particularly for those living in Potong Pasir (Hougang isn't so bad), it is almost a travesty to deny this privilege to the residents, who clearly do not deserve such an unbiased, cruel treatment, given the fact that Potong Pasir is an aging estate, and Hougang is not far behind.

It is improper for the HDB to act in favor of PAP wards, when its existence is to maintain and manage affordable, high-standard public housing for the masses.

Imagine what would happen then, if the Land Transport Authority decides to provide maintenance for roads that run through PAP wards alone? Or that the PUB decides to supply clean, drinkable water only to PAP wards? The end result would probably be disastrous, and anarchy will ensue.

It is high time our ruling incumbent realize that residents at opposition wards have the same fundamental right as those living in PAP-run wards: Funds and institutions meant for the upkeeping of a nation must never be manipulated for political gains and political favoritism.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


There has been an ongoing debate about the status and level of languages in Singapore recently and on the use of Chinglish.

I would like to get some facts right first. There is no such language as Chinese in a spoken form, only Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien etc. It would be more appropriate to call “Chinglish” “Mandglish” unless Hokkien or Cantonese also appears in that language. However I will refer to it as Chinglish here, as readers are generally more familiar with that term. “Chinese” will refer to the Chinese languages as a whole.

Secondly, it has been claimed that the profusion of languages in Singapore is the true cause of Singaporean’s inability to master 2 languages. This is utter rubbish. Unless Singaporeans’ general IQ levels are lower than say India or Continental Europe, this argument does not hold a single drop of water.

About Chinglish, some purists have been complaining about the erosion of both English and Mandarin, and their subsequent combination into Chinglish. This phenomenon however has been happening throughout history, notably in the language of our ex-colonial overlords.

The language of Shakespeare himself is a hybrid of Anglo-Saxon and Norman French, 2 languages belonging to 2 different language families. Thus now, English sounds like neither French or German, but its own distinctive sound, with its own grammar and a haphazard combination of Norman French and Anglo-Saxon vocabulary together with a sprinkling of Latin and Danish words.

So, for those lamenting the loss of language purity, please read up on your history before pontificating from culturally brainwashed minds.

As for language standards, it is important, at least from an economic point of view to be fluent in Mandarin and English at the very least. To call for Chinglish to be stamped out on cultural and linguistic reasons smacks of chauvinistic thinking. We should be promoting proper spoken English and Mandarin for the sole reason that the world should be able to understand us. The same argument can be said for Singlish.

Is our language policy a success? If the criterion is bilingualism, it can be said to be a qualified success. By and large most Singaporeans can get by in either Malay, Mandarin or Tamil and English. However, the collateral damage has been tremendous. For the majority of Chinese Singaporeans, our mother tongue has been lost, perhaps forever.

The question is, was it necessary to kill off our mother tongues only to achieve Chinglish? On a side note, the supplanting of our mother tongues by Mandarin has lead to the cultural colonization of Singapore by Taiwan.

Education wise, we should be stressing the importance of grammar in the case of English, and vocabulary in the case of Mandarin. Our education system should focus on these two aspects, instead of creative writing or other ideas.

The main problem Singaporeans have with English is not in vocabulary, but in grammar. Conversely, for Mandarin the problem lies more in vocabulary as Chinese grammar is relatively simpler.

The idea of encouraging students to take literature is a useful one, but while an increased knowledge of literature would improve English standards, it does not address the core problem of the declining English standard. Secondly, if literature is to be encouraged, which subject would be made to give way? Chemistry? Additional Mathematics?

The purpose of language education is to equip people with the means to express their ideas, not the expression of ideas per se.

Many of the arguments about language use and standards in Singapore are either irrelevant or inaccurate. For the future of our nation, lets get our focus, priorities and language use right.

Written by Milli Vanilli
Edited by at82


The recent fracas involving Mr Brown's suspension of his column at Today's newspaper merely confirms my suspicions:

That our local media are merely slaves to the archaic ways of the government.

Our ruling incumbent, PAP, is a powerful juggernaut, having been installed by the masses (Through the use of bribery, forced coercion through withdrawing upgrading HDB flats, and other degrading nonsense) over a span of more than four decades.

It is laughable that, in an age of broadband and high technology, that our government still insists on archaic, age-old "sticks and carrots" methodology to crack down on dissent, however minor it may be.

Just maybe, I guess, our PM has perhaps honoured part of his elections promise to "fix" the opposition.

Our thing is, this time round, he chooses to tackle a blogger, not Low Thia Kiang and his band of "riff-raffs".

As you read this article, folks, spare a thought for Mr Brown, who has done absolutely nothing to incur the wrath of the vengeful tyrants. All he ever did was to voice out his bitterness towards rising, spiralling costs, which, to his detriment, got his column banned by Today's. And it wasn't even "seditious" (Whatever that looney word means) to begin with.

Damn the thought police.

Thinkers and Ostriches

Well it appears that TODAY has succumbed to the pressure from authorities to “suspend” Mr Brown’s column. Bullshit.

If one stops to ponder the implications of the Government’s actions, our country is going down the drain. The government has put its safety and comfort over our society. Is this what we want our society and country to become?

The government’s position is if you do not have a solution to a particular problem, please keep your mouth shut.

The effective banning of alternative “non-constructive” opinions in the mainstream press has only one effect. In the long run, this is encourages Singaporeans to turn into ostriches who bury their heads in the sand whenever a problem crops up and hope someone solves their problem. If Singaporeans are discouraged from pointing out problems if they have no solution at hand, who is going to point out the problems?

In fact, there is a group of people in Singapore who are supposed to do exactly that. This is our governing elite, they may or may not be in government itself, but they are in the higher echelons of business organizations.

This incident hints at a deeper dichotomy in Singaporean society. It appears that the Government by using scholars sent to the best universities of the world is grooming the future thinking elite, the ones who would make the decisions for the rest of us. This is obvious enough, but what it implies is that the rest of Singaporeans should have minimal say over the decision making process. They should focus instead on their employability and families, in short satisfying Maslow’s lower hierarchy of needs first.

Any dissent among the elites is made within close doors and they are kept in their place by their massive remuneration. This is not to say that elites in Singapore are cowed into submission, on the contrary they are expected to take an active role in government and politics.

The mainstream newspapers are for the non-elites, hence any opinion piece that provokes unwanted thought and doubt in the minds of ordinary Singaporeans will not see the light of day. Creating a culture of cynicism and despondency, and pointing out obvious coincidences in government policy are both different interpretations of what Mr Brown wrote.

If the government is serious about encouraging active citizenship, it should be rebutting Mr Brown’s points, and not simply accuse Mr Brown of belittling the Government’s efforts to help the lower income group. If the Government aims to restrict serious and informed discussion about the pros and cons of Government policy to certain groups, our society will become polarized, as is already happening now.

For all our nation-building efforts, it increasingly appears that for every step we take forward, we are taking 2 steps back. The future of our country is at stake here, for it is society, even more so than economics or war, which make or break a nation. Forget about lack of reading culture, western consumerism or even the controlled media.

This is the true cause of Singapore’s apathy.

Written by Milli Vanilli
Edited by at82

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