Let us continue to work together and keep our democracy healthy – Mr Lawrence Wong

I’ve been watching incidents unfold on the internet over the past few weeks with some heaviness in my heart.

When the British royal couple came to visit, PA and HDB organised an event at Queenstown to give them a glimpse of the diverse activities in our heartlands. Singaporeans young and old volunteered readily to be part of this event. Yet, they were mocked online for taking part in a “wayang” show.

When Mediacorp organized a TV forum with the PM, they invited a group of 50 people from all walks of life. Some had participated previously in Mediacorp’s TV programmes. Several were nominated by the unions and schools. Others came from a range of professional, voluntary and self-help groups.

No one was invited because of his or her political affiliation. But it so happens that among the group of 50, a handful were PAP members. They were a small minority. But on the internet, there was a campaign targeted against these PAP members, with their names being singled out and attacked, and their phone numbers publicised online.

The PAP has done a lot for Singaporeans over the past decades. But it is not perfect – no party is. We need to listen to criticisms and improve as a party, to serve our people even better.

This is why I and many others joined the PAP – because we appreciate what the party has done, we believe in the cause the party stands for, and we want to help the party do more to serve the interests of Singapore and our fellow Singaporeans.

I understand that not everyone will feel the same way about the PAP. Each of us is free to support any political party and choose the government we want. Indeed, the critics online clearly have their own political affiliations too, even though many have chosen to stay silent on this, or to hide their real identities behind anonymous online profiles.

Politics is important. But surely we do not want to end up in a situation where every activity or conversation in this country becomes politicised, where our people are polarized by political beliefs, where Singaporeans are set against Singaporeans based on creed or political affiliation.

More importantly, when decent people step forward to be part of a genuine national effort to welcome our overseas guests, or volunteer their time to be part of a national TV forum with the PM, and yet get vilified by their fellow citizens, then we really should pause and reflect, and ask ourselves whether this is the kind of society we want.

Politics can drive a wedge between us and divide our society. Or it can be a force for good, to bring our people together, and to build a stronger and better Singapore.

Look at what we have achieved together over the years. Our public housing, our schools and institutions of higher learning, our parks and museums, our container port and airport, and even the Pledge – these are national institutions that the PAP government has worked hard to put in place, with the support and contributions of all Singaporeans.

Let us continue to work together and keep our democracy healthy – by maintaining a basic level of civility in our public discourse, by treating all with dignity and respect, and by finding ways to bridge our differences and forge a common future together.

  Lawrence Wong

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Tan Chuan-Jin

Robust debates are important because we will be poorer as a nation without it. How we agree or disagree, the manner in which we do so, is as important because it shapes the society that we call our own.

We choose the way to engage in dialogue and whatever our political ilk, there is no reason why we cannot be firm, robust and yet dignified.

These days, one gets mocked and vilified online for standing up for what one believes in.

Well, I ask our fellow Singaporeans to stand up and be counted. Stand up for a Singapore we can be proud of.This is our home. My home. This is where my friends are, and my family is.
And I for one, am proud to stand up and serve.

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image source from the Net

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Freedom of Speech though good, but bear in mind, it is as sneaky as a serpent….

I think, the immediacy of the issue is that the government of the day must REACT to the situation and arrest the spread of this “wild fire”. But an official RESPOND should come thereafter.

The government may fault on technicality of “freedom of speech” but one cannot imagine or leave to imagination what can actually perspire in our streets. Can you, do you?

I rather the government err on being paternal than to stay “faithful” to celestial ideals of “Freedom of Speech” whereby, no one can guarantees no innocent lives would be harmed.

An irresponsible vitriol video that seeks to destroy peacecan only be halted through immediate determined deterrent actions which is exactly what the Singapore Government did.“Freedom of Speech” do not entitle anyone for that matter to place a dager at anyone’s throat and get away with it. It’s not “freedom of speech”, it’s CRIMINAL.

By the way, I can say with much authority and factually – “Feelings” of the Muslim community is just as important as “Facts”. Just look at most if not all the reactions or responses of Muslim intellectuals or leaders, words like “Feel”, “hurt”, and other emotive verbs were used.

Therefore we cannot allow an intellectual meaningful discourse to take precedent over the FEELINGS of our muslim comrades. Only by respecting the “feelings” can we bridge the intellectual differences with our muslim comrades, not the other way round.

With due respect, I think, the government was right that the action protected the “Feelings” of our muslim comrades. But I think the intellectual community needs an intelligent respond from the officials which is currently not forthcoming. Hence the conflict of agreement on the action taken.

I am not saying our Singaporean Muslims would take to the streets exactly BUT I am saying their FEELINGS are a very important component in keeping the social fabric of Singapore.

  • The need to continue to maintain the “orang Asli” rights in our constitution or the Special Rights of Malays etc.
  • The need to keep our National Language as “Malay” etc.

These are not JUST FOR SHOW. I think there is an intense NEED to understand the context of our situation being situated in the centre of Malay Countries in this region. The need to sent an equally strong message not just to Singaporean Malays but Malays in our region that SINGAPORE is not CHAUVINISTIC in any ways or hide behind intellectual notion of “we respect or honor Freedom of Speech”.What is “freedom of speech” may I ask you if the countries around us burn our national flags because we allow the hateful film to circulate in Singapore?

BEYOND celestial ideals of FREEDOM of SPEECH, context and background of which it is practice should be observed. Freedom of Speech is not a singular language we all share by the way. Tell it to the Bruneians, tell it to the tribal people living in the jungles, tell it to the Sultans in Malaysia.

What is FREEDOM of SPEECH may I ask if it causes my fellow brothers to fall into mistrust with me?

What is Freedom of Speech if my brothers are offended in quiet and I do not speak up for him?

Freedom of Speech though good, but bear in mind, it is as sneaky as a serpent, and in its name, many were harmed, killed or accused. 

I am not sure. I am not ready to espouse the notion and purity of “Freedom of Speech” more than the need to love above all else.

by wh
In response to “SINGAPORE’S BANNING OF THAT ANTI-ISLAM VIDEO: WHY IT WAS A MISTAKE” – by by CHERIAN GEORGE

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  • The sensitivity and feelings of Muslims here must be the top priority and considerations. Others are just ‘chaff’. I rather the government errs on the safe side than waiting to see incident happens before reacting.
  • This sort of issues action-counter action should be standardized. Harmony should be placed above the so-called free speech or expression…any controversial publications that denigrate other religious belief or culture should be curtailed….it takes one matchstick to burn down a forest…how free are our people mind to tolerate all this… Not everyone I’m sure.
  • “In my previous post, I argued that the way the move was defended sent the wrong signal to the world and to ourselves – that our public cannot be trusted to behave rationally in the face of religious provocation, and that the government lacks the capacity and moral authority to preserve order.”
    This is a complete bullshit. it is exactly that the government has “the capacity and moral authority to preserve order.” that it acted pre-emptively.
    And it is because the “public CAN be trusted to behave rationally in the face of religious provocation” that we support the pre-emptive censoring of the video.
  •  All that anyone who harbor the thought of propagating their version of “speech freedom” need to do is to take an opened-wide eye view of all that transpired in USA n France. If their Govt had the resolve to bring the perpetrator to task for inciting unrest, no violence would have erupted. Cherian George must be not thinking too clearly, having wishful thoughts and not being pragmatic.
  • The fact that so many were killed and thousands injured aren’t enough to prove what this anti- Islam film might cause? We do not need chaos and or bloodshed to prove that banning the film is the correct move.
  •  I’m really beginning to believe “freedom if speech” is a dirty word… In its name many atrocities were committed.
  • Like many have said, freedom of speech comes with responsibility and not shooting off from the arse. It stinks.
  •  And these professors think that The world is their laboratories where test results can be manipulated or corrected by mere changing of chemicals.
  •  George Cherian deleting EVERYTHING with regards to disagreement with him?! 
    He expects government not to practise censorship but reserve the rights for himself.
    He expects the government to approve the downloading of provocative video but delete comments he deemed provocative!
    This professor is a hypocrite!
    Freedom of Speech then in this case is just his academic pursue in line with his field and job. In life and actions, George Cherian do not believe in freedom of speech especially those that spoke unkind about him. 
    What’s the government doing paying stipends of such hypocrites? Where I graduate, my lecturers all Phd from either the Ivy League or Cambridge university, expect us to always put up robust arguments even when we disagree with them. We are equalled in tutorials, no lecturers or students. Guess George Cherian is not much of a professor in substance and essence.

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image source from the net

Keep religion and politics separate

ARCHBISHOP Nicholas Chia has shown leadership as the head of the Catholic Church (“Group seeking to use church for political aims: Govt”; yesterday).

Catholics must rally round to support him and not let organisations or individuals show a lack of propriety towards him.

The Archbishop has every right to decide on his actions.

I am encouraged by his affirmation that religion and politics should be, and will be, kept separate.

As a Catholic, I will always accept the Archbishop’s decree on the Church’s teachings, even if I may not be comfortable with it.

But no religious leader can claim to represent the political views of his flock.

We all have diverse views and support different political groups; it does not matter what political orientation the Archbishop or any religious leader has.

It is only wrong when they take it to the pulpit or claim that it represents the political views of their followers.

As a Catholic, my view of my beloved Church is that we must close ranks, and not let the Church be hijacked for political motives.

Gerard Ee Hock Kim

Sep 22, 2012, theSundaytimes
Source : Keep religion and politics separate

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Received this in a email:

There is much talk about the exchange between Blogger’s Alex Au and the Archbishop.

Who is Alex Au?

Alex works in TWC2 and was an election agent for SDP. He advocates gay rights in Singapore.

Alex freely admits that he was very happy when Govt got the Anglican bishop to back off in Aware case. He welcomes it when the church and the govt come into conflict so long as it benefits his pro-gay agenda. In the Function 8 and Maruah case, he is unhappy that there was no conflict between church and the govt. So he leaks a deliberately distorted version of what happened to create conflict between church and state. Function 8, Maruah and Alex Au are clearly keen on instigating this. 

Reading Alex’s posts, it’s all fun and games. Showing off his intellect, he doesn’t care about what happens to our multi-religious society like Singapore. He only cares about his views, gay rights and his foreign workers. There are those who put him up on a pedestal. Refer to the following link: http://remembering1987.wordpress.com/.

Some of his supporters inlcude:
Siew Kum Hong (Vice-President of Maruah, TOC),
Vincent Wijeysingha (SDP),
Braema Mathi (President MARUAH),
Jeanette Chong Aruldross (NSP),
Martyn See (SDP),
Jolovan Wham,
William Yap (ex-isa detainee, F8)
Ravi Philemon (ex TOC Chief Editor),
Alfian Sa’at

Alex Au, Maruah and Function 8 members betrayed the trust and distorted the words of a 74 year old man who has given his entire life to the service of God and man.

These are the people shaping the minds of our young Singaporeans. These are the people who want a change in Singapore? What change is this – a change that benefits them or a change that benefits Singaporeans. Do we stand by and do nothing?

shared from Fabrications About The PAP

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Vincent Cheng is now vice chairman of SDP and Associate Member of the group Function 8.

Overthrowing the government by agitating the masses, creating turmoil and creating instability. Is this still the hidden agenda? Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) the expert in selling the politics of resentment.


Article :  10 June 1987, The Straits Times : Vincent Cheng: What I Did for Wah Piow

The Straits Times, 10 June 1987

Singaporeans last night heard Vincent Cheng describe Tan Wah Piow’s plan to overthrow the Government in 10 to 15 years’ time – and his pivotal role in the plot.The plan was ‘a sensible strategy for Singapore’, said Cheng, the key person in the Marxist plot uncovered bythe Government two weeks ago.He also admitted in his interview with four journalists telecast over Channel 5 that:
  • He and Tan shared the ultimate goal of establishing ‘a classless society’ in Singapore.
  • Their strategy was to establish a broad base of groups to oppose the Government, using violent means ‘if peaceful means don’t workout’.
  • He used the Church because it provided ‘ready cover’ for his activities and goals.

Cheng said that Tan, who fled Singapore in 1976 after evading national service, suggested the use of ‘united front’ tactics when the two met in London in 1981.These were tactics used by the Communist Party of Malaya in the 1950s and 1960s, where abroad base of grassroots organisations was formed to mount pressure on the Government through demonstrations, strikes and riots.

Cheng said the strategy was aimed
  • at ‘confronting the Government,
  • creating turmoil in the country,
  • agitating the masses,
  • so that in creating instability,
  • the government of the day can be overthrown’.

He thought that Tan was a person who would achieve his aim of overthrowing the Government,using violent means ‘if peaceful means don’t workout’.He revealed that Tan said the time would be ‘quite mature’ when the Prime Minister was ‘out of the scene’. Tan foresaw that the second echelon leadership wold make ‘political blunders and mistakes’

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Government launches websites to bust myths – www.gov.sg website called “Factually”.

Sep 22, 2012, The Straits Times

By Rachel Chang

IN A bid to cut through the swirl of rumour and distortion online, the Government has quietly launched a few “myth busting” initiatives.

The first is a new section on its www.gov.sg website called “Factually”. Since May, it has collected a series of primers on hot topics like the national reserves, certificates of entitlement and procurement processes.

They aim to give bite-sized answers to questions that have arisen over controversial decisions, such as the one in March to give $1.1 billion to bus operators to ramp up services.

Taking things one step further, the Housing Board (HDB) two weeks ago started a new website known as HDB Speaks.

A first for government agencies here, its sole purpose is to address topics of controversy, like the affordability of resale HDB flats. One was recently been sold for more than $1 million.

Replete with bright graphics and written in a conversational style, it is a far cry from HDB’s more sober main website, and aims to be a place where people can “get the facts on the myths about HDB” – its tagline.

Both initiatives are works-in- progress, said the agencies in charge.

A Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) spokesman said that Factually “is intended to be a convenient, central and credible platform” for a summary of key facts on certain policy decisions.

It is not meant to be a comprehensive source, and information on specific policies can be found on ministry or statutory board websites, he said.

There are currently only 14 primers in the Factually section. The first was posted in mid-May, and the latest two weeks ago.

The Straits Times understands that it takes considerable time for the relevant agencies to compile the information for Mica.

This is also why Factually has not gone fully “live” as a stand-alone website, like HDB Speaks, nor been widely publicised.

HDB Speaks, on the other hand, contains a wealth of talking point issues divided between “evergreen” ones, like why HDB cannot get rid of the cash-over-valuation practice, and “online buzz” ones that make the headlines, like whether or not flats have shrunk.

New media analysts said these were smart moves for the Government to make in an oft-hostile online space, but noted that success depends on how able they are to gain traction with online opinion leaders, and keep up with cyberspace’s fast pace.

Mr Aaron Ng, a new media and communications lecturer at the National University of Singapore, said that the half-truths and distortions circulating online come from “the lack of first-hand information”, which Factually and HDB Speaks attempt to correct.

But it must be timely, he warned. “There are fewer chances of things spiralling out of control if they are on-the-ball when clarifying with facts,” he noted. “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Singapore Management University social media specialist Michael Netzley said that “top-down” information provided by government agencies will not make much of a dent unless they are then picked up and used in online conversations.

“Peers listen to peers. People today are generally less interested in what you say about yourself and more interested in what others say about you.”

rchang@sph.com.sg

Photo: See the website here: http://www.gov.sg/government/web/content/govsg/classic/factually

Government launches websites to bust myths
Sep 22, 2012, The Straits Times

By Rachel Chang
IN A bid to cut through the swirl of rumour and distortion online, the Government has quietly launched a few "myth busting" initiatives.

The first is a new section on its www.gov.sg website called "Factually". Since May, it has collected a series of primers on hot topics like the national reserves, certificates of entitlement and procurement processes.

They aim to give bite-sized answers to questions that have arisen over controversial decisions, such as the one in March to give $1.1 billion to bus operators to ramp up services.

Taking things one step further, the Housing Board (HDB) two weeks ago started a new website known as HDB Speaks.

A first for government agencies here, its sole purpose is to address topics of controversy, like the affordability of resale HDB flats. One was recently been sold for more than $1 million.

Replete with bright graphics and written in a conversational style, it is a far cry from HDB's more sober main website, and aims to be a place where people can "get the facts on the myths about HDB" - its tagline.

Both initiatives are works-in- progress, said the agencies in charge.

A Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) spokesman said that Factually "is intended to be a convenient, central and credible platform" for a summary of key facts on certain policy decisions.

It is not meant to be a comprehensive source, and information on specific policies can be found on ministry or statutory board websites, he said.

There are currently only 14 primers in the Factually section. The first was posted in mid-May, and the latest two weeks ago.

The Straits Times understands that it takes considerable time for the relevant agencies to compile the information for Mica.

This is also why Factually has not gone fully "live" as a stand-alone website, like HDB Speaks, nor been widely publicised.

HDB Speaks, on the other hand, contains a wealth of talking point issues divided between "evergreen" ones, like why HDB cannot get rid of the cash-over-valuation practice, and "online buzz" ones that make the headlines, like whether or not flats have shrunk.

New media analysts said these were smart moves for the Government to make in an oft-hostile online space, but noted that success depends on how able they are to gain traction with online opinion leaders, and keep up with cyberspace's fast pace.

Mr Aaron Ng, a new media and communications lecturer at the National University of Singapore, said that the half-truths and distortions circulating online come from "the lack of first-hand information", which Factually and HDB Speaks attempt to correct.

But it must be timely, he warned. "There are fewer chances of things spiralling out of control if they are on-the-ball when clarifying with facts," he noted. "A stitch in time saves nine."

Singapore Management University social media specialist Michael Netzley said that "top-down" information provided by government agencies will not make much of a dent unless they are then picked up and used in online conversations.

"Peers listen to peers. People today are generally less interested in what you say about yourself and more interested in what others say about you."

rchang@sph.com.sg

We would like Singaporeans to not only chat with us but with each other. And to hear what others feel about concerns that matter to them. – by Mr Tan Chuan Jin

By Tan Chuan-Jin

Some of you have been wondering about the direction and form of our conversation. I’ve discussed this via private messages with you and thought I might share some of my perspectives here.

We have been meeting many Singaporeans via various platforms. Whether in person when we visit our residents, in focus groups discussing specific issues, or broader talks and dialogues; or via the social media space. For me, there has been a wide range of opportunities as well, whether over lunch at MOM or at my local bak chor mee stall near my place! I have found it useful as the inputs have had an impact on our policy thinking and making. I know that my work in both Ministries have been shaped by views and ideas surfaced via these conversations. It gives me a good sense of the competing ideas and tensions.

Work is ongoing. Where there are things to be fixed, we have begun the process. Where Singaporeans felt that adjustments could be made, we have reviewed and changed where needed. But where we need to strengthen existing processes, we have. We do not start from a blank sheet and there are views and ideas that we have going forward.

For this conversation, we felt that it was important at the start to leave things as open as possible so that we can see what are the issues that Singaporeans feel and care for. We would like Singaporeans to not only chat with us but with each other. And to hear what others feel about concerns that matter to them.

This process will take the better part of half a year to a year. In fact, I hope that the platform can take on a life of its own and continue as a place where Singaporeans converse with each other.

Some are dismayed that certain topics have not been surfaced Some felt that there are obvious issues to grapple with and we should not waste time with this process. “Haven’t we gone through this before?!” was one refrain. I think if we had scoped it, the criticism would be about not coming in with an open mind! Some of us may have taken part in previous reviews but many have not. Let us respect their space as well and let them discuss and speak.

Swee Keat was right when he said that we should not go in with the view to slay sacred cows. Just because we have not surfaced particular themes at this stage do not mean that our positions are closed. It is about keeping an open mind for now. If and when the cows come up for slaughter, then we’d do the necessary if it makes sense. I’ve learnt from Sim Ann…I think I’d leave the cows un-named for now!

Let the many and varied voices surface. There are many who do not have obvious platforms. Let’s listen.

Themes are already emerging. Not surprising perhaps, but let Singaporeans surface them. We can then move on to more focused conversations after that. There will be areas where we can agree and find common space, and there will be areas where we would not be able to do so.

But even as we disagree, I believe that the way we do so will define us as a society.

OurSGConversation

OurSGConversation

World’s 10 Most Beautiful Airport Terminals

1 of 13
Terminal 3 in Changi International Airport, Singapore.

Uplifting Arrivals

By Sascha Segan

Airport terminals aren’t generally viewed as architectural wonders. The concrete boxes of the 1960s and ’70s generally gave way to glass boxes in the ’90s and ’00s, with the best terminals making a vague stab at incorporating ideas of “light” and “air” — or at least offering decent food that isn’t a mile’s walk from the gates.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and one person’s perfect terminal is another’s endless walkway of sorrows. Luckily, these ten airport terminals combine personality, functionality, and uniqueness to offer a great travel experience that starts the moment you get off the plane.

Photo Caption: Terminal 3 in Changi International Airport, Singapore.

Photo by Steel Wool/Flickr.com
Source : World’s 10 Most Beautiful Airport Terminals

* Related Article * – The 10 Worst Airport Terminals

Singapore’s survival depends on nation living the Global-Asia story: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the inaugural Singapore Summit 2012.

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said Singapore’s survival depends on how its people connect with Asia and the world.

In his keynote speech at the inaugural Singapore Summit on Friday evening, Mr Lee stressed the importance of living what he called the Global-Asia story.

The gathering of thinkers and policymakers at the Singapore Summit says a lot about Singapore’s links with Asia and the world.

Mr Lee said that with Asia, Singapore is closely linked to key markets – China, India and ASEAN – while many multi-national corporations are in Singapore.

“Global and Asian forces are constantly at play here, and the country’s survival depends on the Global-Asia story,” said Mr Lee.

Even though the last two decades have been a time of tremendous change, excitement and opportunities both in Asia and the world, Mr Lee cautioned that the world faces some risks revolving around the economic troubles in Europe and the US, the trend of rising nationalism and the shift in the strategic balance as China grows stronger.

If these risks materialised, the world will be in for a rough ride, said PM Lee.

“We have to prepare for the risk scenarios just in case they materialise. We need an economy which is resilient, able to cope with a protracted global downturn. We need a strong armed forces and home team of security and police to protect ourselves against security threats and dangers. We need to build social cohesion to strengthen our sense of togetherness.

“While we prepare for this, we also hope that the risks will be successfully contained and on balance I believe this is likely. Therefore we should not neglect to prepare ourselves for a good outcome, that is, for a challenging but bright future.”

To prepare for a challenging but bright future, Singapore has to harness and ride on what Mr Lee called the “Global-Asia Confluence”.

Singapore can become a springboard for companies venturing into and out of Asia; embrace globalisation but at the same time strengthen itself to cope with the risks.

Singapore also has to build up foreign reserves and strengthen the social safety nets to cope with volatility and uncertainty.

Mr Lee also said the key to meet the challenges is mastering technology to transform Singapore into a Smart City.

At the same time, it has to adapt to the rapid social changes brought about by social media.

PM Lee said: “We are especially affected by this because we are small, we are open, completely English-educated. You don’t even need Google to translate the web for you to understand. We are fully wired up and totally wirelessly accessible. There is no magic formula or handbook for doing this. Nobody has an answer, all are looking for the way forward. We have to exploit fully the Internet and the social media but institute safeguards against its misuse.”

If all these can be achieved, Singapore will be a special place to live, work and play at the crossroads of Asia and the world.

By S Ramesh 
– CNA/ck/ir

Source : Singapore’s survival depends on nation living the Global-Asia story: PM Lee