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Archive for the ‘TOC Feature’ Category

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 »

The Mas Selamat Scandal: Its Impact on the Government-People Relationship

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 25, 2008

The following piece is by writer Catherine Lim. We thank Ms Lim for allowing us to reproduce it here.

Do visit her website for more of her writings.

Catherine Lim

The following article, like previous ones, was turned down for publication by the Straits Times. It looks like I should stop being thick-skinned and give up sending my commentaries to them!

‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.’ Something could get rotten in the state of Singapore as a result of the very unfortunate Mas Selamat scandal.

Scandal it is, in terms not only of its shocking nature—the most dangerous political prisoner and terrorist operative in Singapore makes a laughably easy escape in a super efficient, technologically advanced city state—but also of the serious doubts it is raising in the public’s perception of government accountability, and the damage that these doubts could do to the government-people relationship.

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Posted in Current Affairs, TOC Feature | 80 Comments »

TOC Feature: No female full Minister in Cabinet

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 31, 2008

Is something wrong with the process, the people, or the PAP?

Choo Zheng Xi

The government’s decision not to appoint a female full Minister has disappointed both male and female Singaporeans.

In a surprise move on Saturday, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government failed to break the 42-year female dry spell in the highest echelons of government. Prior to the reshuffle, many observers were expecting Ministers of State Mrs Lim Hwee Hua or Ms Grace Fu to be appointed full Minister.

Instead, Lim Hwee Hua is the new Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport and Grace Fu is to be the new Senior Minister of State for Education, while continuing her present appointment as the Minister of State for National Development.

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Posted in Choo Zheng Xi, Current Affairs, TOC Feature, TOC's Writers | 37 Comments »

TOC Feature: If one were Dr Choong…

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 20, 2008

By Dharmendra Yadav

The past three weeks have been unprecedented for Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng.

First, Wong had to apologise for alleged terrorist leader Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape from detention.

Then, he had to restore the flailing record of his Home Team, who were criticised for their complacency by no less than the respected founding father of independent Singapore, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Now, Wong finds himself at the edge of a storm having to defend the independence of a Committee of Inquiry (COI) that he appointed to investigate the escape of Mas Selamat; of particular concern is the impartiality of a member of the Committee – a subordinate at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Dr Choong May Ling.

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Posted in Current Affairs, TOC Feature | 15 Comments »

TOC Policy Feature: Improving Singapore’s Public Transport System – A Commuter’s Perspective

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 4, 2008

By Gerald Giam, Selene Cheng, et al.


This paper seeks to highlight problems and provide suggestions for improving the public transport system in Singapore. It is based on the author’s own experiences as a middle-income commuter who relies almost exclusively on public transport, with input received from fellow commuters.

Land transport a key focus for 2008

In his New Year’s Day message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that a key focus for 2008 for the government is to improve our public transport system, so that more Singaporeans will take buses and trains instead of driving cars. He acknowledged that the government “can do more to make public transport a choice mode of travel”.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC Feature | 40 Comments »

TOC Feature: Social work – a human rights framework

Posted by theonlinecitizen on November 7, 2007

By Jolovan Wham

Social workers are concerned with social problems, their causes, their solutions and their impact on society.

We work with individuals, families, groups and organizations, as members of a profession who are committed to the well being of the people. We can be found in a variety of settings: family service centres, different interest groups such as disabled, elderly, youth, children, in schools and in hospitals.

As such, social workers can and should play an important role in engaging the public and the state on human rights issues.

What does taking a human rights perspective mean for social work? The paradox of the profession is that even though human rights are inherent in our mission, few social workers use this phrase in our practice vocabulary.

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

TOC Open Thread: Multiculturalism, Indian style

Posted by theonlinecitizen on November 6, 2007

TOC writer Kamal Mamat featured this on his personal blog here .

Below is a video of Indian Idol contestant Meiyang Chang, third generation Indian citizen fluent in Hindi.

Posted in Community, Current Affairs, TOC Feature | 1 Comment »

TOC Feature: The Workers’ Party – 50 years of Singapore politics

Posted by theonlinecitizen on November 3, 2007

“TOC Features” are articles written by practitioners in their fields of work or expertise.

By Bernard Chen

This article acknowledges the rich historical heritage of the Workers’ Party; the various challenges it had faced and overcame and the contributions of simple Singaporeans who have stood by the Party, openly or discreetly over the last half a century.

50 years. Half a century of involvment in Singapore politics. The survival of the Workers’ Party in these fifty years of a difficult political climate is in itself worth commemorating.

A look at the key cornerstones in the history of the Workers’ Party over the last 50 years tells us a lot about the resilience, commitment and determination of the various individuals in the party to do something for the people of Singapore.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers, TOC Feature | 6 Comments »

Section 377A is inconsistent : PAP MP Hri Kumar

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 23, 2007

Transcript of the Parliamentary speech by PAP MP Hri Kumar on the debate over Section 377A.

I rise to support the Bill. A major overhaul of the Penal Code was timely and the Ministry of Home Affairs has obviously put in much effort and thought to the amendments. I particularly commend the new laws to protect minors from sexual predators whether here or abroad and I support the amendments fully.

Let me touch briefly on the issue of Section 377A. As Professor Ho Peng Kee pointed out, this is one debate which will not see people switching sides easily. Both proponents and opponents of the law have deeply entrenched views on the subject and that is unlikely to change for some time.

I have personally asked many people, both young and old what they think of this issue. And the almost common consensus is that they do not want this law to be repealed. And that is consistent with the feedback the Government has received.

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Posted in Current Affairs, TOC Feature | 9 Comments »

377A serves public morality : NMP Thio Li-Ann

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 23, 2007

Below is the full transcript of NMP Professor Thio Li-Ann’s speech in Parliament.

Two camps championing two distinct criminal law philosophies are polarised over whether to retain or repeal s377A which criminalizes public or private acts of gross indecency between two men, such as sodomy.

The ‘liberal’ camp wants 377A repealed. They offer an ‘argument from consent’ –government should not police the private sexual behaviour of consenting adults. They opine this violates their liberty or ‘privacy’. They ask, ‘Why criminalize something which does not “harm” anyone; if homosexuals are “born that way”, isn’t it unkind to ‘discriminate’ against their sexual practices?

These flawed arguments are marinated with distracting fallacies which obscure what is at stake – repealing 377A is the first step of a radical, political agenda which will subvert social morality, the common good and undermine our liberties.

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Posted in Current Affairs, TOC Feature, TOC Reports | 108 Comments »

NMP Siew Kum Hong: Turn our backs on prejudice, discrimination, intolerance and hatred

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 23, 2007

Below is the full transcript of NMP Siew Kum Hong‘s speech in Parliament on the amendments to the Penal Code. TOC would like to thank Mr Siew for providing us with the transcript.

Mr Speaker Sir, I rise to speak on the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, and on the petition I had presented to Parliament earlier. I will first speak on two aspects of the amendment bill not related to Section 377A, and then on Section 377A and the petition.

The Penal Code is one of the most important statutes that we have, because the criminal law touches so many people so intimately. This bill represents the first review of the Penal Code in 22 years. It seeks to do a lot, and yet it leaves so much undone.

The bill introduces some positive changes. For instance, there is a new offence of sexual grooming. Going by the experience in the UK, this could well become an important weapon in the arsenal against sexual predators, especially those on the Internet.

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Posted in Current Affairs, TOC Feature | 13 Comments »