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Archive for the ‘Our Columns’ Category

Waiting for Godot

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 6, 2008

Farquhar

Waiting for Godot

Farquhar comes earlier this week and takes a look at the state of the opposition parties on the second anniversary of Polling Day – May 6 2006.

The Opposition is in danger of missing the chance to build on its gains of 2006

Both Acts of Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” end in the same lamentable fashion. The two protagonists, having wasted an entire day in a series of pointless diversions (one of which was a laughable attempt to commit suicide) while waiting for an acquaintance that never shows, finally agree to depart the scene. But then they put that off as well and remain where they are at the close of the Act, consigned to repeating the same routine in perpetuity.

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Rice, Rice Everywhere

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 2, 2008

Farquhar

Rice, Rice Everywhere

Poorer Singaporeans get left behind in affluent Singapore

It was the curse of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner to wander the high seas, tormented by the sight of water everywhere, yet finding himself unable to quench his aching thirst.

The analogy of want even amidst a situation of plenty would be familiar to not so well-off Singaporeans, given the recent squeeze on the price of basic commodities – of which the spiralling cost of rice is the most talked about – that has arisen in spite of the economic boom that the country is experiencing.

While the price and apparent scarcity of rice have now assumed an importance of national proportions, dominating local media headlines as well as the concerns of politicians, the government’s initial instinct was actually to deny the severity of the problem as it first started coming to light.

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Farquhar

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 25, 2008

Farquhar

The Government’s Great Getaway

The government’s mishandling of the Mas Selamat case reveals a worrying lack of political acumen

The release of the key findings of the Committee of Inquiry’s (COI) report into the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah member and alleged terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari on 21st April 2008 was awaited in Singapore with the kind of anticipation normally reserved only for major football matches.

Thus it comes as no surprise that many people – outside of the mainstream news media, of course – were disappointed by the report as well as the subsequent speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the matter.

The report showed up some real complacency and systemic failures in Singapore’s security agencies. Yet this was partly overlooked as the mainstream media elevated the question of whether Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng should stay in his job into a saga about the government’s stoic determination to stand firm against a mob which it imagined was baying for blood.

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Farquhar

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 4, 2008

Farquhar

Kind Hearts Are More Than Coronets

The 1949 film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” is perhaps best remembered for the late Sir Alec Guinness’ portrayal of the dysfunctional D’Ascoyne family.

All eight different family members, with ages spanning six-decades and including both genders, were played by the remarkable Sir Alec, who employed delicate variations in mannerism, posture and makeup to create some distinctly memorable characters. Nevertheless, what underpinned each character was the same measured, studied and professional performance from a Sir Alec at the height of his powers.

The same impression comes to mind when one surveys Singapore‘s Cabinet line-up, where the ruling cabal’s emphasis on the communalism finds its most distinct manifestation.

Almost four years after the ascension of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the Cabinet still comes across as a blend of amalgamated anonymity, its characters and policies driven by one source – the extraordinarily outsized personality of elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew.

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Farquhar

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 28, 2008

Farquhar

A Freak Result

Not too long ago, in what might have been one of his less inspiring moments, Singapore’s elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew told the press that the military would have to intervene in the event of a “freak (election) result” – defined as a disagreeable outcome where the incumbent People’s Action Party loses power – to prevent a rapacious Opposition government from squandering the country’s vast monetary reserves.

It is quite likely that the phrase would have crossed Mr Lee’s mind, as well as many other Singaporean watchers, as they ponder the aftermath of Malaysia‘s 12th General Elections which were held on 8 March 2008. In a sweeping rebuke to the incumbents, Malaysian voters handed the ruling National Front (BN) coalition the worst electoral result in its history.

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Farquhar

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 21, 2008

TOC is introducing a weekly commentary on Singapore. Named after one of colonial Singapore‘s early pioneers and its first Resident, William Farquhar, the column will mix theme and personality to better (we hope) guide our readers through the opaque state of affairs in Singapore. It’s a local take on the British publication The Economist’s commentary pages. You can find the full introduction here.

Farquhar

Death and Taxes

It was Benjamin Franklin who coined that phrase about the inevitability of taxes on the living. Yet, as one of the leading lights of a republic founded on a tax revolt, he might have been quite appalled that America would emulate its ex-British overlords in taxing a rich fellow simply for dying. Indeed, the establishment of the death tax (or estate tax) in the late 19th century has remained controversial in both these countries.

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