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Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Foreign Talent policy: of principle and practice

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 25, 2007

By Choo Zheng Xi

The government’s defense of its foreign talent policy follows a familiar pattern. The government rolls out a policy and frames it within unobjectionable truisms that few can disagree with. In the foreign talent debate, the truisms are ‘cosmopolitanism’ and the need for ‘healthy competition’.

When challenged on the specific implementation of its policies policy, the government often retreats back to broad principles to make critics look insular and anti-competitive.

We need to move the foreign talent debate beyond platitudes of principle and start asking hard questions about how it’s being implemented in practice.

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Posted in Choo Zheng Xi, Community, Current Affairs, Education | 17 Comments »

The Work Holiday Programme: an undergraduate’s concern

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 25, 2007

By Ned Stark

Singapore’s open door policy rolls on. The government’s stated goal is to bring Singapore’s population up to the 6.5 million mark. Unless we drastically increase our birth statistics, it is clear that many of these 6.5 million residents will be made up of foreigners.

Minister of Manpower Dr Ng Eng Hen’s recently announced increase in S passes for mid skilled manpower from 10-15%, coupled with the announcement of a Work Holiday Programme (WHP) for 2000 foreign students highlights some problems with our foreign talent policy.

First and foremost, there has to be a clear definition of “Foreign Talent”.

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Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Education, Ned Stark | 8 Comments »

The next step – “proactive blogging”?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 16, 2007

By Benjamin

Blogging is a medium of communication. Web logs were once little more than online diaries, for people to write about their daily lives. Now, even these personal blogs can gain international attention and recognition. Xiaxue is one. Other, more prolific, Internet readers and bloggers would be able to name more.

Ultimately, a blog is a tool for expression; through expression, one communicates ideas; through ideas, one influences actions.

Blogs, therefore, can be powerful tools for change.

There are currently quite a number of blogs out there that recognize this. They write on politics, social problems, current events, issues which capture the writer’s attention so intensely that he wants to tell the world what he or she thinks of the issue at hand.

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Posted in Benjamin Cheah, Community, Internet/Blogging | 23 Comments »

Decriminalising homosexuality in Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 3, 2007

By Koh Jie Kai

The purpose of this letter is to address two arguments which homophobes frequently make against decriminalising homosexuality in Singapore. Let’s take a typical example of a homophobic point of view, written by a Mr Jonathan Cheng and published in the Straits Times forum page on the 1st of May 2007. (“MM’s comments have me and family worried).

Odd that Mr Cheng should accuse homosexuals of being intolerant, given that his vision of Singapore society clearly places homosexuals as second class citizens, down there with thieves, murderers or the mentally ill. He clearly believes that it is abnormal for a gay person to teach a child that it is normal to be gay- presumably, it would be abnormal for a straight person to do so as well. But we can see that this letter essentially brings up two arguments: that homosexuals are “harmful” to society in the practical sense, and that in any case the majority in a society have the right to impose their vision of morality over the minority.

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Posted in Community, Koh Jie Kai | 18 Comments »

Public assistance for the elderly – where the ethics lie.

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 19, 2007

“There will always be arguments on whether a sum we’ve decided is enough or not and as I’ve said yesterday, frankly one limiting factor must be the sum that we give through public assistance cannot be so generous as to erode the work ethic.”

That said, Dr Balakrishnan stressed that despite a strict criteria on assistance schemes, no Singaporean needs to starve or be deprived of shelter.

– Channelnewsasia

The Minister of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS) announced in parliament recently that the amount of public assistance recipients receive will be increased from $260 to $290 – “for an elderly recipient living alone”, $30 more than the current $260.

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Posted in Community, The Poor | 2 Comments »

LSIRC Discussion Forum 2007

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 8, 2007

By Remy Choo





S-R 2-2

11 AM – 1 PM

LSIRC (Law Students’ International Relations Committee) cordially invites you to take part in our Discussion Forum, “Our Democratic Processes: An International Perspective”. This will be a great opportunity to discuss and debate issues with our guest speakers and with other students.

Our guest speakers:

SYLVIA LIM : Sylvia Lim is the Chairman of the Worker’s Party and the only Non-Constituency Member of Parliament. She is also an alumnus of the NUS Law Faculty and is currently a law lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic. She will be sharing her views and thoughts from her perspective as a key player in our democratic process.

PROFESSOR ARUN THIRUVENGADAM : Professor Arun Thiruvengadam obtained his formal legal education from the National Law School, Bangalore (B.A., LL.B (Hons.), 1995; LL.M, 2001) and New York University School of Law (LL.M, 2002, J.S.D., 2007). He currently teaches Public Law and has a strong interest in constitutional law. He will be sharing his expertise in constitutional law and democracy

ALFIAN SA’AT : Alfian Sa’at is a prolific local poet, playwright, writer and civil society activist. He will be sharing his views on the role civil society plays in nurturing a healthy democracy.

All interested please send email to:

Posted in Community | Leave a Comment »

The changing face of Singapore – integrating our people

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 3, 2007

According to the Department of Statistics (Ministry of Trade & Industry) Singapore’s total population in 2006 stands at 4,483,900.

Resident population (S’pore citizens & S’pore PRs) is 3.6 million.

The ethnic composition is:

Chinese = 2,713,200 (75%)

Malays = 490,500 (14%)

Indians = 319,100 (9%)

In the same report, the resident population grew by 1.8% annually – on average.

Non-residents’ growth is much higher at 9.7% annually – also on average.

Singapore has 875,500 non-residents in 2006.

The government announced that they have revised the Concept Plan of 2001 – which catered to a population of 5.5m, to one which would consider a population of 6.5m instead.

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Posted in Community, Current Affairs | 1 Comment »

The language of our forefathers – are we missing something?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 28, 2007

By Zyberzitizen

It’s been decades since we were urged to “Speak Mandarin” by the government, instead of speaking our dialects. I’ve never agreed with this policy. This is because I find our dialects fascinating and beautiful. But more than that, my dialect reflect my ‘origin’. It’s a bridge to where my parents and my grandparents came from.

Teochew has a special place in my heart. I remember when I was just a child, Dad would tell us stories in this dialect. The many idioms and phrases and folk songs which are peculiar to the Teochews always made me smile – and even cry.

My uncles are the ones who have really ‘mastered’ the language. Mom calls theirs ‘Pure Teochew’, which to me can be quite indiscernible because they are “so cheem”. But that is why it fascinates me. There is a certain melody or flow to the language and sometimes you do not really have to understand the words to get what is being said.

It is the same with the other dialects in our country – be it Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, or Hainanese.

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Posted in Citizen Speak, Community | 22 Comments »

The construction of noise – Singapore de-constructed

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 20, 2007

Singapore is in upheaval – literally.

I am sure that all of you have noticed it too – the many construction sites and construction activities going on around our little city-state. Building, re-building, knocking down, piling up, digging underground, tunneling through and so on. It seems as though we are in a big hurry to make ours an even more spanky city.

The Concept Plan of 1991 (revised in 2001) spells out the master plan for Singapore’s long term physical development – “for the next 40 to 50 years” – “to meet the needs of a projected long-term population of about 5.5 million.” (The government has perhaps revised this to 6.5 million?)

The URA website also states that “every square inch of our scarce land resources is optimized to stimulate Singapore’s economic growth and to improve the quality of life for all Singaporeans.”

It also seeks to enhance “Singapore’s sense of islandness”.

There is no doubt that it is a challenging plan and one which most of us would support – the dust and noise notwithstanding, of course.

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Posted in Community, Current Affairs, TOC Reports | 2 Comments »

Big Brother in cyberspace – anonymously

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 7, 2007

“He (Mr Brown) should come out from behind his pseudonym to defend his views openly.”

– Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, K BHAVANI in a letter to TODAY newspaper July 3 2006

“The identity is not important. It is the message that is important,”

– PAP MP Baey Yam Keng, Straits Times, Feb 3 2007

The above quotes from government officials perhaps sum up the dichotomy of approaches by the government to different media.

Ms Bhavani’s comments referred to “opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper” which “should meet higher standards.” Mr Baey’s comments, on the other hand, referred to the government’s stance on online communications.

What should one make of this seemingly confusing and contradictory message that the government is sending out to singaporeans? Perhaps a closer look at the issue will throw up some answers.

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Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Internet/Blogging | 44 Comments »

The poorest in our society

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 2, 2007

With the increasingly fast pace of life in Singapore, there perhaps is a tendency for us to forget those who are left behind, those who can’t run as fast as the rest of us – even if they want to.

The government, to its credit, has set up various help schemes and even organizations (such as the CDCs) whose roles include helping the less fortunate of our society. The many NGOs as well are doing a commendable job.

But even with all these channels, there still is a group of people whose predicament I would like to highlight.

This is the group of elderly people on public assistance schemes.

The reasons for their circumstances are varied – being abandoned by their children, or having no savings, or their children themselves being unable to help care for them, or physical or medical disabilities have incapacitated their ability to work.

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Posted in Community, The Poor | 10 Comments »

Bloggers question Tochi’s execution

Posted by theonlinecitizen on January 27, 2007

This is a summary of what some bloggers are saying about the execution of nigerian Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi.

Tochi was only 19 years old, with not much education. Was it safe to assume that he was familiar with the ways of the world, including the drug trade and the risks involved? Could he be expected to know that different countries view drugs with different degrees of severity? How many Singaporeans at 19, educated or not, would be familiar with other offences around the world, e.g. petrol smuggling, the arms trade, transporting seditious literature or pornography, and the risks involved?” – Alex Au

“I find myself overwhelmed by a sense of sadness and waste. I tell myself: he’s a stranger, and people die by the second, why should you care so much? And then the answer comes to me, again and again – I care because not enough do. We care because if we don’t, who will? Is it not a highest form of tragedy to pass unmourned, to be surrounded, in the last hours, days, weeks, months, years of your existence, by no one who cares? And then to slip away at dawn, the faintest wraith, and to have the world turn tomorrow without you.” – Gayle Goh

I’m absolutely speechless with anger at this! I can’t even see how PAP could do this to a young man.” – Singapore Election Watch

I have never opposed the death penalty in Singapore because I believe that it is a necessary evil at times. Unfortunately, I never imagined that it would be applied so mechanically. In fact, I think it has been so grossly abused. I have lost faith in the Singapore justice system. The taking of one’s life as punishment now appears to be nothing more than routine business.” – Aaron Ng

I’m switching off my pc and going for a very long walk” – Pseudonymity

When sentencing him, the Judge in charge of Tochi’s case admitted that there was not enough evidence to prove that Tochi knowingly brought the heroin into Singapore but because we have a mandatory death penalty, he had no choice but to sentence him to death. There are no words to describe how absurd and sickening such a situation is.” – For Sanity Sake

This is such a efficient but inhumane and unforgiving way in executing the law…. Charissa is feeling very upset right now and words are unable to describe her feelings. The least we can do is to pray to God that he would rest in peace.” – Charissa

‘Integrity’ I am going to have go and get my dictionary out and look that word up. Someone must have recently changed its meaning because I see no ‘integrity’ in hanging one man who, as the judge confirmed, had no idea what he was carrying and secretly executing another man without informing anyone.” – Singabloodypore


“Eventually the country may well pay for an attitude that is, to many of its immediate neighbours, cold and mercenary. Karmic consequences, after all, are an important facet of the Nigerian Iwuchukwu Tochi’s Igbo traditions. But if – or when – Singapore crumbles in the sunset of a hypothetical future it will likely be a death as swift and cold as Mr Tochi’s ever got.” – Two Steps From Twilight


Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Internet/Blogging | 2 Comments »