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Archive for the ‘Guest Writers’ Category

Does Singapore deserve its press freedom ranking?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 13, 2008

Terence Lee

In a 2008 survey by Freedom House, Singapore has shown no improvement in its freedom of the press, despite the maturing of online media as a medium to air alternative views.

The latest results reveal nothing new: much has already been said about the deplorable state of press freedom in Singapore, ranked a lowly 153rd out of 195 countries, sharing the same ranking as Iraq. The idea that Singapore is first-world in economic competitiveness but third-world in press freedom and civil liberties has already become an over-sung tune.

A check with Freedom House’s past survey results revealed that Singapore has not only been stagnating, but has in fact deteriorated in terms of press freedom, increasing from a score of 60 (the lower the score, the freer the press) in 1994 to 69 in 2008.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 17 Comments »

Homophobia Part 2: Under attack from the police

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 3, 2008

Ng Yi-Sheng

In my last article, I mentioned that two things had happened recently that made me shocked and angry at the Singapore government. The first was MDA’s imposition of a fine on Mediacorp for showing a wholesome gay family on TV, a case credibly reported by official news sources. The second is a rather more sordid affair, receiving only underground coverage thus far.

Last Friday, 25 April 2008, there was a police raid at a gay sauna named One Seven. Though none of the clients were arrested, the 74 year-old owner, Sam was injured by the supervising officer and arrested and jailed overnight for allegedly having assaulted the officer, a charge that he denies. No explanation was given for the raid – on being asked, the officers refused to produce a warrant and simply repeated over and over again that they were conducting a “spot check”.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers, TOC Feature | 13 Comments »

Homophobia Part 1: The MDA censors the family

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 3, 2008

Ng Yi-Sheng

Homophobia is against Singaporean values. If I learned anything from all those years of National Day Parades and Hao Gong Ming textbooks, it’s that we’re supposed to value diversity, to respect each other’s differences.

The fact that we’ve managed to do this is what’s made me proud to be from this country: because no matter what our flaws are, we’ve got this important ideal of a workable multiculturalism that’s accommodated and continues to accommodate communities both old and new.

But it’s true, what Alfian Sa’at said. Love this country too much, and it’ll break your heart. Over the past week, two bigoted cases of state-sanctioned homophobia have left me shocked, disillusioned and angry. As they’re of pretty different natures, I’ll address them in separate articles.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers, TOC Feature | 7 Comments »

Islam in Singapore : Where to from here ?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 1, 2008

Syed Alwi

Singapore is an anomalous red dot in a green sea, being composed of mainly non-Muslim Chinese in a neighbourhood that is largely Malay-Muslim.

Within this already sensitive geopolitical setup is the Muslim community in Singapore, a minority within a society that is itself a minority.

In today’s post 9-11 world, Islam has become headline news everywhere – and not necessarily in a positive light. The escape of Mas Selamat Kastari, for example, has put the Singapore Muslim community under the microscope of many.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 14 Comments »

The upset that stunned Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 3, 2008

Dr Syed Alwi

What are we to make of the recent political upset in Malaysia? Is this political upheaval a signal that Malaysians have embraced a pluralist, multi-racial democracy? And perhaps more interestingly, can this tsunami be repeated in Singapore?

These are all valid and very interesting questions which we must ask ourselves. Yet questions like these – more than others – bother us the most because they force us to re-evaluate our own political consciousness.

Indeed – according to the late Tan Siew Sin, Singapore and Malaysia are Siamese twins. Intertwined and interdependent forever. A reflection of our own image. It never was and never will be a zero-sum game in this tale of two cities.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 29 Comments »

To all sports fans

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 25, 2008

Lea Yi-Long

This letter is written with regards to Singtel securing the broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League for the next three seasons.

Although details are yet to be released, it is quite obvious that football fans will be forced to subscribe to Mio TV, and in turn pay higher costs for watching their favourite football action.

Are we going to take it lying down and accept this endless increase in price? Or should we stand together and make our feelings known? Action speaks louder than words.

Just a year ago, StarHub outbid its rivals to secure the rights to broadcast the English Premier League for three seasons, at a reportedly staggering cost. Soon after, the monthly subscription rates for the sports group increased by a whopping 66.7%, to S$25.

Just five years ago, the sports group had cost just S$8 per month.

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Posted in Guest Writers, Letters To TOC | 38 Comments »

Malaysia boleh! Can Singapore boleh too?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 13, 2008

By guest writer “Labour Front”

This recent week saw a phenomenal demonstration of the Malaysian political system’s claim that it is a true democracy.

One of the fundamental characteristics of a democracy is that it allows political change. What happened this week is actually not totally new to Malaysia. In 1969 the country saw similar outcomes at the elections.

Over the decades we have seen whole Malaysian states, not mere seats alone, changing hands between political parties. An election ago, Malaysia saw the ruling PM gaining one of the strongest mandates seen thus far at the ballot box, and at the subsequent election, the one just past, we can see how his fortunes have changed.

At the next Malaysian election, the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) may very well repeat their past two-thirds majority, if they can prove to the electorate their worthiness to rule. All these trends and possibilities point to an obvious answer of “boleh” (“can”) to the question of whether change is possible in the Malaysian political system.

Unfortunately it is unclear or even “tak boleh” (“cannot”) in the Singapore context. Why?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 21 Comments »

Why a lapse of four hours before public was notified?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 29, 2008

This is a letter by student Lee Weijia sent to the Straits Times Forum Page.

TOC thanks Weijia for allowing us to publish it here.

Dear Sir,

The escape of Mas Selamat, and the subsequent response to the escape, has raised many queries. However, I would just like to touch on one sore point that struck me immediately upon hearing the news.

Why was there a lapse of 4 hours between his escape and the notification to the public? Remember the area is surrounded by houses and schools.

I would like to quote Mr. Wong Kan Seng. During parliament, Mr Wong replied: “Our security agencies assessed at the time of Mas Selamat’s escape there was no imminent danger to the public. The focus then was to lock down the Whitley Road Dention Centre and then start a systematic operation to find and arrest him. The priority is to arrest him. No efforts will be spared to track him down.”

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 39 Comments »

Homeless soon, thanks to HDB

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 25, 2008

By Selene Cheng

6.5 million people. That is the projected number of people our government believes Singapore can accommodate. Already, 80% of the population lives in subsidised housing, and with the development of estates in Sengkang and Punggol, no one will have to be a vagrant. No one will have to sleep under the void deck with aluminium cans for a pillow, or at the beach with the sky as their blanket.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Being homeless in Singapore is a real possibility, as theonlinecitizen (TOC) has found out, and you don’t even need to be old and dirt poor in order to have no roof over your head.

In this special feature on home ownership in Singapore, theonlinecitizen tells the story of Andrew, a 34-year old young man who will soon be out of a home in 3 months because of the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) lack of compassion and flexibility.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 85 Comments »

Reflections on Budget 2008

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 22, 2008

By Eric Tan Heng Chong

My parents taught me to be gracious when you receive a gift, and not to scrutinise it. This year Singaporeans received a ‘gift’ in the form of the Budget. There are many good things about the Budget for both individuals and corporations.

But despite what my parents taught me, I cannot help feeling that perhaps I must re-examine these gifts. My instincts tell me that the giver once took a lot from me and is now only returning some to me. I remember the increases in taxes and charges; these were permanent. The gifts to me now are one-off goodies.

I recognise that sometimes, for the greater good, I must suffer some loss. The taking, however, is becoming too much to bear, and the reasons given for it not good enough. It is time the government takes less and gives some back. I would suggest the following ways to do it:

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 15 Comments »

2007: The year virtual reality shaped reality – A review of the new media landscape in 2007

Posted by theonlinecitizen on January 6, 2008

By Terence Lee for theonlinecitizen

Who would have known that in a brightly-lit street along Clarke Quay, an old trishaw driver would attain near-celebrity status when he was bullied by three British tourists.

Certainly not the trishaw driver.

The video of the bullying incident was uploaded on YouTube by one of the three British men, which showed them cackling like vultures and hurling insults at the trishaw driver as he struggled in a futile attempt to bring the trishaw — with all three of them inside — up to speed.

The YouTube video, titled “the slowest taxi driver in SEAsia”, was condemned vehemently by Singaporeans in the forums and blogosphere community, and the incident was even splashed across the front page of The New Paper.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers, TOC Reports | 13 Comments »

Contrasting Tactics of Resistance: our own Aung San Suu Kyis and Bhuttos?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on December 26, 2007

By Travis Tan

If a top-ten list of 2007 buzz-phrases were to be compiled, somewhere between “rising costs” and “enbloc fever” you would find “military junta” and “pro-democracy movements”.

Thus, with our vocabulary extended and our eyes fixated on developments over the past year, this article explores the two most prominent and captivating pro-democracy movements of 2007; through the eyes of their disparate principle drivers.

This cursory exploration of contrasting styles of resistance, unveils some unexpected parallels with the current state of oppositional politics in Singapore. This leaves us to wonder: does Singapore have our own Aung San Suu Kyis and Benazir Bhuttos?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers | 4 Comments »