My struggle with Chinese

Hearing MM Lee Kuan Yew admit that his bilingual policy caused generations of students to pay a heavy price because of his “ignorance” made me feel somewhat vindicated, after the years of struggling with learning Chinese in school.

Hearing MM Lee Kuan Yew admit that his bilingual policy caused generations of students to pay a heavy price because of his “ignorance” made me feel somewhat vindicated, after the years of struggling with learning Chinese in school.

In his speech at the launch of the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language two days ago, MM Lee talked about how Singapore schools’ emphasis on reading and writing Chinese, instead of on listening and speaking, was the wrong approach. He singled out 默写 (memorising an entire Chinese passage and regurgitating it in a test) as “madness” (疯狂). I couldn’t agree more!

Continue reading “My struggle with Chinese”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Was our phenomenal GDP growth worth selling our soul for?

When I listen to the painful experiences of ex-political detainees like Dr Lim Hock Siew, I question whether our phenomenal GDP growth over the past 40 years was worth selling our soul for (if indeed the two were interchangeable). Would I settle for a less developed country that did not have such a shameful past? It’s a hard question to answer, even though the morally correct answer should be obvious.

Watch Martyn See’s recording of a speech by Dr Lim Hock Siew, Singapore’s second-longest detained political prisoner, who was imprisoned without trial from 1963 to 1982. This is the kind of stuff that needs to go into our national education curriculum and screened in Singapore Discovery Centre. Our young people need to know the sacrifices these opposition politicians made for the sake of their beliefs and their convictions on how to forge a better Singapore for all of us.

Continue reading “Was our phenomenal GDP growth worth selling our soul for?”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Lower voting age to 18 before next election

Singapore is part of a small and shrinking club of stragglers that still require their citizens to be 21 to vote. For the vast majority of democracies in the world, the voting age is 18. I hope the government can revisit this issue and do the right thing for Singapore by reducing the voting age to 18 before the next election.

During the Parliamentary debates in the UK House of Commons on 4 November 2009, a backbencher MP asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown if the British government would consider a proposal from the Youth Parliament to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. PM Brown replied that he was personally in favour of lowering it to 16.

The UK is not the only country that is considering lowering the voting age from 18 to 16. Austria and Brazil have already lowered their voting age to 16. For the vast majority of democracies in the world, the voting age is 18. Singapore is part of a small and shrinking club of stragglers that still require their citizens to be 21 to vote. These include Cameroon, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Gabon, Malaysia and Oman — all bastions of freedom and democracy!

Continue reading “Lower voting age to 18 before next election”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Pandas can be dangerous if provoked

It’s interesting that the behaviour of pandas quite accurately mimics their country of origin. China is ostensibly opposed to colonialism and interference in other countries’ domestic affairs, but hypersensitive and emotional when provoked.

China’s proposed loan of two pandas to Singapore has turned out to be quite a diplomatic coup for them — and probably a commercial coup for the Singapore Zoo. It has made it to the headlines in local media, invited a letter to the press from a Singaporean gushing over the communist state’s gesture, and one local was quoted in the papers as saying that her “liking for China definitely went up a few notches”.

While I agree that this was a nice gesture by the Chinese government and speaks well of the state of bilateral ties, it would also be prudent not to get completely bowled over by this.

Continue reading “Pandas can be dangerous if provoked”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Stop comparing Singapore with Third world countries

Why are we, a developed country, being compared with Third world countries all the time? Shouldn’t we compare ourselves with other First world countries like Taiwan, Korea, New Zealand, Denmark and Netherlands?

It never ceases to amaze me the kind of examples some people will use to drive home their point that the PAP is the one and only party capable of leading Singapore forever and ever.

In a letter to the Straits Times forum yesterday titled “PAP’s self-renewal a boon for the nation”, Jeffrey Law praised the PAP’s efforts at “self-renewal”, and in the process took a swipe — or rather three swipes — at neighbouring countries for their far-from-perfect political systems.

He started by saying: “It can be disquieting to know that some politicians in the region indulge in money politics and resort to buying votes.”

Was he referring to politics in other countries or in Singapore?

Continue reading “Stop comparing Singapore with Third world countries”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Measuring economic performance: Looking beyond GDP

While GDP is a broad measure of a country’s economic performance, it falls way short as a comprehensive measure of the economic health of a nation in more ways than one.

It is the highlight of every National Day Message from the Prime Minister[1]. No National Day Rally speech gets delivered without its mention. Economic statistics dished out by the government never fail to mention it. It is used as  the main measure of how well our nation is doing economically. Indeed, it is such an important statistic that the bonuses of all the Cabinet ministers and 60,000 civil servants are pegged to it.

I am talking, of course, about Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The GDP is the market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a year. Specifically, it is the sum of consumption, investment, government spending and exports, minus imports, in one year. Economists usually talk about GDP in terms of its year-on-year growth, measured as a percentage increase (or decrease) from the previous year. Also frequently quoted is the GDP per capita, which is the GDP divided by the total number of residents in the country.

GDP a poor measure of performance

While GDP is a broad measure of a country’s economic performance, it falls way short as a comprehensive measure of the economic health of a nation in more ways than one.

Continue reading “Measuring economic performance: Looking beyond GDP”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Balancing an emerging dragon

I think Lee Kuan Yew’s speech to the US-ASEAN Business Council in Washington on October 27th is an important read for any Singaporean who is going to live to see the next 30 to 40 years in this country.

He was basically appealing to American leaders to get more involved in East Asia than they have been in the recent past. He warned them against ignoring this region, because doing so would risk allowing China to replace them as the pre-eminent power in the region.

Continue reading “Balancing an emerging dragon”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Chinese leaders afraid of losing control: LKY

I would encourage my fellow citizens who have a heart for people and a passion to bring change for the better to Singapore, to count the costs, and then step out and be counted. If more of us step out and live out our passions in life, it is really the ruling party which has to fear losing the control they have over Singaporeans.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave an interview with Charlie Rose, which was broadcast on Bloomberg Television on October 22nd. The interview covered mainly the rise of China and India, and their relationship with the US.

While the discussion hardly touched on domestic Singapore politics, Mr Lee did reveal some of his thinking which has undoubtedly shaped the actions of the Singapore government.

Charlie Rose had asked how communications, technology and the flow of information will impact China. Mr Lee said that the Chinese leaders were “watching the Internet very carefully” and paying attention to what people think.

Continue reading “Chinese leaders afraid of losing control: LKY”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Straits Times questions Ministry’s stand on LUP

Straits Times article was reflective of the overwhelming sense of indignation felt by Singaporeans that the PAP’s antics in those two wards had crossed the line of common decency.

Straits Times political desk journalist Sue-Ann Chia expressed in today’s papers what any rational-minded Singaporean knew to be right: That the elected opposition MPs should be the ones managing the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) in their ward, not the PAP candidates who lost in the last election.

In her article headlined “‘Adviser over MP’ raises many questions”, Ms Chia questioned the flawed reasoning of the press secretary to the National Development minister, who said last week that town councils should not be considered a local government. She deftly pointed out that over the past 12 years, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Hsien Loong had all stated in one way or another that the town council were designed for voters to choose their local representative, not just MPs to the national Parliament.

Continue reading “Straits Times questions Ministry’s stand on LUP”

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

In support of humanitarian missions

As the most developed country in Southeast Asia, with the most technologically advanced and best trained military, I see it as our responsibility to make these contributions to our neighbours in times of need.

I congratulate and honour the teams from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Mercy Relief and SingHealth institutions who undertook missions to West Sumatra to assist with relief work following the devastating earthquakes there.

There were 80 personnel from the SAF, 42 from the SCDF and seven from Mercy Relief and SingHealth sent in separate missions over the past few weeks.

I strongly support humanitarian missions undertaken by our military and civil defence forces. They not only provide essential logistics, medical and organisational assistance to the victims on the ground, but also serve to cultivate better relations with the Indonesian military, which could prove to be invaluable in future. In addition, they also provide our men and women in green with some much needed operational experience.

Given the fact that we live in a disaster-prone neighbourhood, I hope to see the SAF and SCDF continue to build up their capabilities and readiness to take on more such missions in future. As the most developed country in Southeast Asia, with the most technologically advanced and best trained military, I see it as our responsibility to make these contributions to our neighbours in times of need.

Get my latest updates. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,