Friday, November 30, 2012

Strike Three - You're Out!

The four bus drivers from China who stood up to the discriminating practices of SMRT management were hauled up to court by the police yesterday and charged with instigating an illegal strike on Monday and Tuesday.

Problem is, since the strike was recognised only on Tuesday, Monday's activity being vicariously labelled as sit-down, refusal to show up for work and other euphemisms, the charge is wrongly framed. One of the Fantastic Four faces another charge of inciting workers to strike in relation to a statement posted on Chinese website Baidu. The words "instigating" and "inciting" are probably plucked from the same dictionary which, at least on Monday, did not list "strike".  It is very possible that the freedom of expression was misconstrued by the authorities, thanks to their corrupted lexicon. J B Jeyaratnam once waved a copy of a police report at a election rally, and he was promptly sued for libel.

Read the "incriminating" extract and try to find the "instigating" and "inciting" elements:
"But why don't we think of it the other way round, if a few hundred Chinese nationals take the lead, I am afraid the management of SMRT will fired instead. Not that we do not know the traffic situation in Singapore, a few hundred bus drivers do not report for work  for a few days, there will be public outcry in Singapore. Lianhe Zaoba, My Paper and the English papers will all wait on us, trying to find out the reasons for the action.  Land Transport Authority will have to start questioning the SMRT."

If the well meaning ("They were just asking for better pay and living conditions", an anonymous source who braved the SMRT forbidding the Chinese drivers from talking to the media) were intent on inciting anything, it was to nudge the mainstream media and LTA to do their bloody job in the first place. The last public outcry about the mismanagement at SMRT was initiated by a train stuck in a dark tunnel. Which is a preferable incubator of public outcry, a sit-down at a dormitory, or commuters seated in an airless, unlitted train coach?

Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor enthusiastically "welcomed the swift action of the police" but downplayed the lethargy of the SMRT management, best exemplified by the newly appointed CEO who is still conveniently out of town, mobile phone presumably switched off. The caped crusader buffoon, that defacto defender of industrial workers, is still MIA. Meanwhile the loser at Hougang, deputy executive secretary of the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) Desmond Choo, surfaced suddenly as the one "who helped to mediate at the strike". Or rather, the one who failed miserably at the mediation, resulting in the brutal police response. He admitted his personal failure in getting the SMRT bus drivers to join his union, leaving them with no recourse except to exercise their human rights to protest.

China, who has been observing Singapore's model of governance, was quick to learn from the use of force. Taking a cue from Amy Khor's praise of swift police action,  it is empowering its border police to take tougher action against foreign ships entering contested waters in the South China Sea, specifically "to board, seize and expel foreign ships illegally entering the province's sea areas." It remains to be seen if the boys in blue will next board the dormitories, seize and expel the foreigners. More likely they will park their shiny new red vans nearby and await political motivation.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Country For Old Men

For moment, it read like Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong finally got the message. In the context of the disruption 117 bus drivers can inflict on our public transportation, anyone else would experience an epiphany of sorts.

Instead, he was was using Bloomberg's editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler to peddle his "population growth is connected to immigration and economic growth" poison. Winkler had asked if there was anything Lee would have done differently since he took charge of the Government in 2004. His answer - should have addressed the ageing population issues earlier. Somehow he missed out on the other developments in the human race. People also get married, have kids, grandchildren, all in the natural order of things. Except when the cycle of life is disrupted by unnatural eugenic theories of social engineering that turn a nation on its head.

First we were told the foreigners were transient workers, they would go home after the infrastructure was built. Unknown to us, foreigners were encouraged to take up citizenships, straining the existing capacities of housing and transportation systems. All too soon, one out of three walking on our streets is an alien face.

Something is more frightening than Singapore turning into "a retirement home and not a vibrant city". The palpable fear is that our birthright, the stake holding in our land which young men in uniform have sworn to protect, is being diluted by the outsiders. The Joel and Ethan Coen movie "No Country For Old Men" must have been made with Singapore in mind.

Putting economic growth ahead of the concerns of the indigenous population could result in a Dubai, where 71% of the population consists of foreigners and expatriates. The expatriate population in the entire UAE makes up 91.5% of the working population. Already Singapore is marketed like Dubai, an exciting destination both for travelers seeking thrills and adventure and for expatriates seeking a healthy employment climate and a tax free lifestyle.

Emigrates in Dubai mostly include Asians, mainly from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Filipino. 16% of the population is not being identified either by ethnicity or by nationality but believed to be chiefly Asians. They are not identified by nationals mainly because they live in combined labor accommodation, not unlike the Woodlands Dormitory housing the bus drivers from China. The average age of total Dubai population is about 27 years. Is this what the government has in mind?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strike Two

It's official. For the second day running, the strike is on. After SMRT's packet of lies (the strikers on Monday numbered 171, not 102), 88 drivers from China stood their ground for their right of protest.

While the ex-army officer (Desmond Kuek was the 6th Chief of Defence Force of the Singapore Armed Forces) they hired to run SMRT is taking cover in his bunker, another ex-general tried to explain why it took him so long to understand the meaning of the word "strike".  He probably had to ask permission from the boss first. "Sir! Permission to think, Sir!"

Brigadier General and Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said it took a whole day for the Government to call the protest a strike because, "The labelling of industrial action such as this is not trivial.. it would then open up  a series of actions that would follow thereafter." Right, a post on the Tianya forum reminded the military men that China successfully landed a jet on their new aircraft carrier Liaoning, "That is why we need to build more aircraft carriers and send them to Singapore's footsteps." But what must really get Tan's knickers in a twist was the Chinese Embassy calling on his Ministry of Manpower to safeguard the rights and interests of Chinese workers according to local laws. (China News Service (CNS) said the embassy was monitoring the situation closely and had sent officials to take part in the mediation).

Rights and interests of workers that even Singaporeans are not aware of. Like, strikes are legal if rules are followed as stipulated in the Trade Unions Act and Trade Disputes Act. Workers can go on strike, but they must follow rules such as giving their employer 14 days of notice. Rules which are rubbished for "essential services such as transport and postal services" by the tougher provisions of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act. We know what happened in 2002 when Singapore Airlines pilots planned their strike. Brass knuckles were brought out in a hurry.

Ignoring the query that SMRT management may have fallen short - them generals sure know how to cover each other's backside - Tan still refused to call a spade a spade, saying it would be "inappropriate at this stage for us to make any definitive proclamations(sic) either way." So when would be an appropriate time, when the strike force from Liaoning is on the way?
Gerrymander this:  J-15 landing on the Liaoning

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

First Strike

Lessons imported from China: Protest 101
First, the latest details available on the development. The industrial action began at the crack of dawn when 103 disgruntled SMRT bus drivers congregated illegally at their Woodlands Depot dormitory on Monday at 4 am. Lest we forget, the amended Singapore law determines that one lone standing person can constitute an illegal assembly. They steadfastly refused to board the buses provided by their employer to ferry them to their contractual work obligations. Instead of being arrested for their audacious affront to authority they were merely "given until noon by SMRT to return to work". Another 60 SMRT workers from the Serangoon dormitory arrived to join the picket, which could explain the earlier report of 200 belligerent Chinese nationals on site. The "talks" ended at 6 pm, with no agreement reached. Zorro, with or without mask or cape, was nowhere in sight.

"We're not comparing our salaries with the Singaporeans. We just wanted to be treated fairly like all the other foreigners," was the quote attributed to one of the strikers. One PRC national from Jiangsu Province told Chinese media Zaobao that the bus captains from China are paid less than those from Singapore and Malaysia.

The Straits Times initially reported the story with the heading, "200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issue". The English word for that descriptive is strike, defined in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press as "when workers refuse to continue working because of an argument with an employer about working conditions, pay levels or job losses". The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English explains: if a group of workers strike, they stop working as a protest against something relating to their work, for example how much they are paid, bad working conditions.

So why was the "s" word so studiously avoided? Simply put, there are no strikes in Singapore, period. Flooding is also a thing of the past, the politically correct term is "ponding". Both Kishore Mahbubani and Lee Kuan Yew have, on different occasions, boasted to the world that there are no beggars on Singapore streets either. The auntie asking you for a dollar for a packet of tissues is not begging, she's part of the nation's entrepreneurial force, advancing the country's GDP for the better good of all. So long as you are on the Matrix blue pill, housing is affordable and health care is subsidised.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Mother Of Gag Orders

"Minister says cannot say", was how one Nanyang pupil presented it.

It is still amazing that 51 adults have had their lives ruined, some sent to jail, others with careers hanging in limbo, and yet not a single soul has dared leak the identity of the under aged slut who caused so much pain. The school kids are not guarding anything similar, just the name of the top scorer for this year's Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results. It must be real stressful for a youngster to be placed with so great a responsibility. Ironically, the 48,333 Dragon Year born students who took the test aren't acting very dragonish.

The adults, especially those running the lucrative private tuition business, are taking the gag order more seriously.  The last thing they need is to be black balled by the Ministry of Education.  They probably have to whisper the information to enquiring parents on a need to know basis, they can tell you, but they will have to shoot you aftwards.

"We don't want to be seen going against the ministry's direction," was how school staffers explained their fait accompli. After all the teachers did have a surprise 8 percent increment recently, more than sufficient to ensure their compliance. And buy their silence. The odd principal may be busting with pride the hard work yielded results, but he/she knows too well what the Minister giveth, the Minister can taketh away.

So what's so scary about the Education Minister that his very utterance can strike fear into the hearts of the young and the old? Perhaps it is the unspoken atmosphere of oppression that is pervasive in our society.  Try to get too emotional, and you risk someone throwing everything at you, drag out the case, throw everything in the mud... and exposed to (adverse) media publicity.

What is approved for public dissemination is that 63.1 percent of the school leavers qualified for the Express stream, a slight improvement over last year's performance. An express ride to a society of muted adults where it is perfectly normal to be kia-su, kia-si and kia-cheng hu.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Other Woman

If they had intended to drag out the case all along, they surely have achieved it. Come December, the sorry saga of the ex-Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) director would have been played out for one whole year. Has anybody imagined what it must be like for Mrs Ng Boon Gay?

Hillary was praised for her stoic stance and demeanor throughout the shameful Lewinksy episode. Her detractors claimed she stood by her husband because, he was the President, and she had harboured personal presidential ambitions. Maybe that helped with the fortitude when Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr sunk into unprecedented lows to indulge in salacious details like which part of the female anatomy the President had inserted a cigar tube. Is this how public prosecutors get their kicks? Where in a corruption case do we need to know whether the parties in oral engagement quiz each other, "was it good for you too?"

While Clinton maintained "I did not have sexual relations with that woman", Ng was more forthright about his infidelity. For a woman and faithful wife of so many years, that must really hurt. The Gallup survey couldn't have included her in their sample to buttress their finding that Singapore is the world's most emotionless society. Gallup had polled 1,000 people aged 15 and older from 150 countries and asked questions like "Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?" The people they asked must have been sick with worry about making the house payments, having enough for retirement without resorting to "imputed rent" as a source of income, and praying they never ever have to be admitted to a public hospital.

We don't know what Mrs Petraeus, spouse of 37 years, is going through right now. Not everyone can do a Kathy Holmes, and sign away a pre-nuptial agreement that excluded her from Tom Cruise's US$250 million fortune. We would like to believe that Mrs Ng forgave her husband's indiscretion for reasons more basic, like the marriage vow "to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." Some things in this world are still worthwhile to cherish.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Military Spending

Jim Sleeper's article ("Blame the Latest Israel-Arab War on… Singapore?") created a lot of angst, although what he intended to highlight was the observation that Israel's actions since 1967 have prompted reactions and conditions which set the nation on a tragic course. In like vein, he infers Yale’s misadventure in Singapore can only have dire consequences further down the slippery road. My Hongkong friend has a Cantonese expression which says that when you draw a cartoon, you don't need to sketch in the intestines. But for some folks, we really have to keep it simple enough for a 4 year old to understand, with lots of pictures to illustrate.

One point came across without need of further clarification, Singapore and Israel top the list of the world’s most militarised nations, according to the latest Global Militarisation Index released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC):

The GMI defines the degree of militarization of a country by, amongst others, the comparison of military expenditures with its gross domestic product (GDP) or other indicators, such as health expenditure or number of physicians.

While it may be convenient for the politician generals to argue that too little militarisation carries its own risks, there's such a thing as going overboard with the extravagance on military toys - at the cost of housing, transport and healthcare needs. On the latest Index,  Singapore is a mere 70 points below Israel's 877, and has been number two for every year in this century, except for the three in which Eritrea was number one.

And there are the neighbours to consider. If escalation is too cheem (Hokkien dialect for something that is profound or deep or intellectual) a topic to understand, perhaps we should listen to how Commissioner Gordon explained it to Batman: "What about escalation?  We start carrying semiautomatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor-piercing rounds."
We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor-piercing rounds.
Most democratic countries have an independent committee to evaluate military purchases transparently. Our minister in charge seem to have a book of blank checks. Tom Burbage, general manager of the F-35 program, reported on Fri Nov 9, 2012 that Singapore is showing increased interest in buying Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Unbeknownst to most of us, Singapore and Israel both have already pledged to contribute about US$50 million to the F-35 development effort. 

With the volatile situation at the Gaza strip, conversation should steer clear of the rattling of sabers. Talk instead about why a 4-room flat at Ghim Moh should cost $450,000 (without grant) and $435,000 (with grant), when they keep harping on the $60,000 grant available.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Do You Think Reprised

It was Hri (MP, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) Kumar's version of "what do you think?" The questions he listed, for which he deigned to provide a single answer, covered two key failures in the present state of governance:

Housing (the shortage of at affordable prices):
- Should public housing be available to every Singaporean, regardless of financial circumstances? If not, what should the threshold for eligibility be?
- How should affordability be defined? MND uses the international benchmark of not spending more than 30% of salary to service your mortgage. If not that, then what? Currently, over 80% of HDB owners service their mortgages entirely from their CPF – in other words, no monthly cash outlay. Is that a good measure of affordability?
- Or is Government's role to ensure that everyone has a roof over their heads, whether owned or rented? If that is the KPI, it must follow that it is Government's responsibility to provide housing even for those who cannot live in their current homes because of conflicts with family members, or who cash out by selling their flats. These are two most common reasons given by my constituents who ask for rental flats. Should subsidised housing be provided to them on demand? If the answer is no, some will end up sleeping in public places. Do we accept that?

Transport (the government’s role to provide an efficient, affordable and extensive public transport and road network):
- Is it also Government’s role to make cars affordable to meet the aspirations of those who want to own one?
- If it is not, should it be concerned about the price of COEs for private cars or leave it to the market?
- If Government must keep COE prices low, what is “low”? And how should it determine who gets a COE?
- If Government should do away with COEs, how should it ensure smooth flowing traffic?

The simple response to this practising lawyer's line of questioning is a no-brainer: What the fish do you think we pay taxes for?

He was right on one point: "Unless we get into specifics, we will not get anywhere". That's why it is so irrritating each time the prime minister says, "My minister will provide the details" - that's when they start working on the housing options for singles.  The current crop of clowns don't seem to think through the issues before initiating the implementation of policies. Even Teo Chee Hean admitted as much when he said the Government recognises that population growth in recent years has outpaced the country's planned infrastructure capacity. So which fool let in the barbarian hordes without considering the havoc wreaked on housing and transportation? Probably all the fools - MND, LTA, HDB, SMRT - who pay themselves obscene salaries on account of their dubious claim on talent. Feel free to add to the list MINDEF (killing our young men with smoke grenades), MOH (mixing up babies with their natural mothers), MOE (denying PLSE top scorers their well earned recognition), etc, etc.

And when they run out of excuses, they rope in "experts" to put a spin on their debacles. Like the two nutty professors who, when they realised that OECD (2012) reports that the gross IRR for Singapore is only 13% for a working career of 40 years and 9.3% for a shorter career of 30 years, they resorted to inventing "Imputed Rent" to paint a rosier picture. In plain English that means, after paying the last installment of a 30-35 year loan, one has to move out of the house to generate a stream of rental income to supplement the CPF LIFE payouts. Or die starving in the pigeon hole in the sky.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quotable Quotes

Don't bother about setting off for the morning or evening jog to exercise your heart as the good doctor recommended.  These recent utterances are surefire triggers to set it pumping furiously, and raise your blood pressure for good measure.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew:
"... for those who want to have a smoother ride home, they can pay the dollar, use it before 8pm. For others who choose not to do so, they can ride after 8pm."

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan:
"... the arrangement between EM Services and RWS is a commercial one. In other words, it has nothing to do with the Government".

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim:
“The strength of our media in Singapore lies in being credible, fair and objective in their reporting."

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen:
“SAF trains rigorously and realistically. Obviously to ensure the safety of our soldiers and our men, we have strict safety protocols."

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew:
"This was the plan which we had from the very beginning, to give everybody a home at cost or below cost."

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin:
"Based on reports by TODAY and Lianhe Zaobao on 10th Nov 2012, the two Integrated Resorts (IRs) directly employ more than 22,000 staff, of which about 70% are locals. MBS hires over 9,400 full time employees, of which 60% are Singaporeans."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Paying The Price For Safety

Quite a few years back, we were evaluating the Dalian shipyard in China for a VLCC newbuilding project when we ran into the representative from DNV (Det Norske Veritas), a leading international provider of services for managing safeguarding of life, property and the environment. How's the worker attitude towards safety, we asked him. The Norwegian rolled his eyes, and suggested we give them another five years to catch up. This was before the world heard of baby food adulterated with melamine. Safety is so intertwined with quality of life and environment issues that the discipline is now covered by HSEQA (Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Assurance).

You would roll your eyes too as the Assistant Political Writer of the Sunday Times shared similar disdain for safe practices. If you believe him, it's perfectly acceptable to ignore the seat belt at the back of the taxi, use the smartphone while driving, or dash across the road instead of walking the couple of metres to a pedestrian crossing. Just because it's done here.

The moral malaise, we read, is already endemic in the National Service training grounds: "the army seems to revolve around breaking the rules".  And he wasn't talking about the President's son evading dangerous field exercises by seeking refuge in a laboratory. Motorbike riders without licences, safe distances for firing blanks ignored, sleeping under army trucks. Because the first rule of this fight club is "Just don't get caught".  Remember the Motor Transport Officer who was run over by a Land Rover (July 2009) and the Lance Corporal rear ended by a truck (January 2011)? The former apparently told everybody to step up on the curb, but he remained in harm's way, foolishly thinking his rank would protect him from being converted into road kill.

This cannot be true. Just because 18 year olds are being trained to be "shoot, maim and injure" doesn't mean life should be cheap.  Perhaps the writer was straining at straws to allay the weight of responsibility from the people in charge of the killing fields fast associated with our military training venues. This type of palliative will not endure. Even if only 39.9 percent has a healthy respect for safety for preservation of self and our loved ones, we can look forward to a better society than the current status quo.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Income Replacement Rate Revisited

According to above table, after working 30 long years, the male guy earning $1,820 can expect a future income of only $2,340.  Even if the poor bloke had a guaranteed salary increment of 1 percent  each year, he should be looking forward to earning $2,428 or more. Do the math.  Discounted backwards, that kind of pay is not enough to cover the ravage of annual inflation at 2 percent. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) core inflation measure, which excludes costs for accommodation and private road transport, was moderated to 2.7 per cent in the April-to-June quarter. Official figures showed Singapore's Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate rose to 5.3 per cent year-on-year in June 2012 from 5.0 per cent of the previous month.

So why did the professors use the number $2,340? Probably because it best fits Tharman's projected Income Replacement Rate (IRR) figure of $1,330 at age 65. Think of the tabulation as answers hashed to fit the question. However you look at it, the future is pretty bleak.

Professors Chia Ngee Choon and Albert Tsui of the National University of Singapore crafted their 27-page study using ministry wage data growth for the past 10 years, highly secretive numbers previously unavailable to the public or researchers. Which makes it difficult for anybody else on planet earth to challenge their computation. They argue that a 25-year old male who starts work at a median monthly pay of $2,500 will be able to build up sufficient CPF savings over 40 years, and retire at 65 with 70 percent of his pre-retirement income pegged at age 55. It would appear the objective of the exercise is to debunk the report by Professor Hui Weng Tat of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, which had warned that young Singaporean graduates may not have enough CPF savings for retirement.

Prof Hui may not have access to the top secret data conveniently made available to the NUS dons, but the numbers may not withstand close scrutiny. Note that the starting pay for the 70th percentile (upper middle income, male) is indicated as $3,300. That means the $15,000 compensation for members of parliament, who also draws pay from their day job, must be categorised as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. And the descriptive for the minister's pay check will surely be beyond this universe.

The NUS study also claims that the "Workfare safety net" provides a significant boost for the low-wage workers, rocketing their IRR from 80 percent to 92 percent. At those rates, even pigs will fly.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why Was My Son There?

This is one post that has to be simple, in case someone misses the point. Private Dominique Sarron Lee was put in harm's way unnecessarily, and he died. Let's make it clearer, he was killed.

Dominique's pre-enlistment medical screening record clearly showed a history of asthma, yet the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) deemed his medical certification suitable for a vocational assignment that involves close proximity to toxic smoke. Dominque's life was snuffed out in a barrage of six smoke grenades, when the safety recommendations stipulated no more than two, thrown at least 20 metres apart, and at least 10 metres away form the closest troops.

Platoon commander Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal was there, so was Chief Safety Officer Captain Chia Thye Siong. They were aware of the Training Safety Regulations (TSR). They knew it, they broke it. Dominique's mother had to ask, "Why was my son there?" Mindef made a pathetic attempt to deflect responsibility by saying Domnique had been on field training where smoke grenades were used and "did not display any adverse reactions to the smoke during training". In other words, Dominique was exposed to a similar life threatening situation before. That he survived the earlier attempt on his life is no excuse for Mindef's lip service to safety for our young men.

Worse, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, a medical doctor by earlier profession, sounded pretty cavalier about the statistical average of two training deaths a year for the last 10 years. That's two sons, brothers or male relatives. More disturbing, Professor Lim Tow Keang who chaired the Committee of Inquiry said: "We're quite sure asthma is not the cause of death." In other words, the inhalation of zinc chloride fumes from six smoke grenades could have killed any other healthy son, brother or male relative. If you believe the Prof, there is no way to check possible allergy to zinc chloride, and the smoke alone could have caused the asphyxiation.

There is one more disturbing question: Why did Dominique have to die? To protect a country which is one third occupied by foreigners?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Perverse Outcome

One of Glenn Knight's many war stories highlighted that in the early days after the Misuse of Drugs Act was first passed in 1972, the Crime Division of the Attorney-General's Chambers thought that a presumption in the law allowed  them to charge a man with drug trafficking if he was found in possession of more than a specific amount a controlled drug. He explained that the law was borrowed from a Canadian stature, but the law makers forgot to render the act of possession of the drug to be equal to the act of trafficking - sale, transport or delivery - of the drug. It was David Marshal who rightly pointed out that possession, in itself, was not sufficient to prove the act of selling or transporting the drug. That didn't stop Knight, wearing the hat of Deputy Public Prosecutor, from pressing for the kill, by arguing that in murder charges, they did not have to prove the elements of the charges, and all they needed to do was to prove the act of murder.

This was during the bad old days before, per earlier post, Knight had observed, "Nowadays, the law has become more important than the facts."

Problem is, the law hasn't improved much hence. Ms Sylvia Lim rightly pointed out that meting out harsher punishment for those in the lower rungs of drug syndicates - small fries with no access to the inner workings of the syndicate - is a perverse outcome of the "substantive assistance" requirement to escape the gallows.

Imagine that one faithful day of reckoning, when the guys in white are marched up one by one to the guillotine, in the fashion of the French Revolution finale. Should the Minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister's office escape the chopping block because he has so many secret stories to tell, while sacrificing the neophyte  who rode into parliament on the coattails of someone senior as she stomps and screams "I don't know what to say" all the way to be the nasty end?

Nominated MP Laurean Lien reminded the House that "every human life is precious". He said, "It is not just about our criminal justice system, ... it is also about the type of society that we want to build - a society that values every person and every human life, and one that doesn't give up on its people." Those that gave up on us - housing, transportation, jobs, education, healthcare - will be getting their just deserts one day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Full Disclosure

Freedom House ranks each country with a scoring system based on a scale of 0 to 100, a combined score of 0-30=Free, 31-60=Partly Free, 61-100=Not Free. Their studies are premised on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.

According to the findings of "Freedom of the Press 2012: A Global Survey of Media Independence", the latest edition of an annual index published by Freedom House since 1980, Singapore is ranked 150. Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2011, including the new country of South Sudan, a total of 66 (33.5 percent) were rated Free, 72 (36.5 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 59 (30 percent) were rated Not Free.

Singapore is grouped in the last category. Our neighbours fared better: Malaysia /Cambodia (144), Thailand (132), Indonesia (97), and Hongkong (70). Countries with "Free" rating include United Kingdom/ Australia (31), USA (22), and Germany (16).

It is reported that press freedom continued to face obstacles and reversals in many parts of the world. China, reputedly the country with the world’s most sophisticated system of media repression, stepped up its drive to control both old and new sources of news and information through arrests and censorship. Other authoritarian powers—such as Russia, Iran, and Venezuela—resorted to a variety of techniques to maintain a tight grip on the media, detaining some press critics, closing down media outlets and blogs, and bringing libel or defamation suits against journalists. Been there, done that. The brass knuckles tactics used in our own country are well documented in Francis Seow's book, "The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited". For a recent reminder of the bad old days, author James Minchin was turned away at the Changi Airport on arrival. It is no coincidence that China is sending a team to study our methods of governance. Speaking at the Communist Party’s Central Party School in September, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the two governments had “shared experiences on managing the social media.”

Straits Times (ST)'s surprise disclosure about Alvin Tan being stripped of his scholarship - he did not have to pay a single cent, and he wasn't expelled - went against the flow of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat's stubborn support of the university management's "need to respect its policy of confidentiality." Quoting an anonymous source, the gutsy ST revelation must have been a desperate attempt to improve its World Press Freedom Index rating, which used to be 141 before dropping to 144 in 2008.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trouble With Foreigners

James Minchin on "Let's Talk" video in 2012 series

Not all foreigners are treated equal. You can cuss like a Frenchman ("Chinese f**cking animals" - Olivier Desbarres), bite the hand that feeds you ("I will NOT pay a SINGLE CENT to NUS if I am expelled and what can they do to me?" - Alvin Tan), but never, never, critique the judiciary.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has barred Australian clergyman James Blundell Minchin from entering Singapore as he allegedly "abused the social visit pass privileges previously extended to him while he was in Singapore by interfering in our domestic politics and mixing religion with politics". His cardinal sin, we are told, was commenting at a Function 8 forum in August 2011, where he supposedly "alleged that the rule of law was bypassed and corrupted in Singapore, and questioned the independence and integrity of the judiciary". For his troubles Minchin was locked up for 24 hours at a Changi Airport holding room.

Dr. Christopher Lingle was less fortunate. After he wrote a response to a previously published editorial comment that appeared in the International Herald Tribune, where he was alleged to infer that some regimes in East Asia are able to thwart criticism by relying on a compliant judiciary, he was sentenced him to jail in absentia and his property in Singapore was seized. High Court Judge Goh Joon Seng said in his ruling that the October 7, 1994 opinion article's reference to "intolerant regimes" and a "compliant judiciary" could only refer to Singapore, and therefore "scandalized the Singapore judiciary."

In March 1996, Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer urged the High Court of Singapore to order Lingle to pay substantially more than $300,000 in damages for libelling the Senior Minister. Dr. Lingle comments: "I am not surprised by the Singapore judge's ruling. I guess the courts didn't see the irony in the judgment against me. As far as I can see it, the judgement vindicates me and supports the criticism that Singapore's rulers use a compliant judiciary to bankrupt their critics .. whether they are the political opposition or news media or foreign nationals."

Minchin wrote in the introduction of his book, "No Man Is An Island: A study of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew":
In a mid-1984 issue of Singapore's Sunday's Times, Dr Yeo Ning Hong recalled his first meeting with the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet ministers: it filled him with an "immense sense of awe".
Even a foreigner like myself can testify that Lee Kuan Yew, whom I interviewed briefly in 1976, comes across as no ordinary human being. To be on the receiving end of his anger must be quite terrifying. Even when he is talking calmly, there are hints that the volcano remains active underground.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Aliens 1 Dogs 0

Barely a month ago, an ex-DJ had a row with his new neighbour because the latter's reconstructed house was taking too long and too disruptive to complete. Why the Ministry of Environment would permit noisy demolition work over an extensive period to be carried out within meters of occupied residences is a separate issue best addressed by the Minister in charge. The Indian house owner was not amused by the play on his name and the missive circulated by the ex-DJ and filed a police report.  Fortunately, the poorly phrased humour, as was claimed, did not cross the threshhold of racist slur.

Formerly of Credit Suisse, Olivier Desbarres was the head of Barclays FX strategy in Asia before he was sacked for trespassing into the Wimborne Road construction site on 20 October and hurling racist laden taunts at labourers for starting work 15 minutes earlier than the 9 a.m. timing he had demanded. For good measure he also hurled a zinc sheet at at the hapless Unison Construction staff.

The non-destructive tirade as transcribed by The Times:
“I’m gonna go after you. I’m gonna burn your f**cking house down,” he shouts in the video. “You have no respect. You know what? You’re f**cking animals. Chinese f**cking animals... I have a life. I have a family. You break that, I will find your f**cking family. I can find it very easily — I’m a man with resources.”

The encore from the French frog after sighting the video recording equipment:
“You’re filming me? You think that’s good? Put your phone down so I can f**cking wait for you to come out of it take that phone and f**cking shove it up your  ass..”

Since construction site hires are dominated by Indian nationals, mostly from Bangladeshi labour pool and the like, it was curious that "Chinese f**cking animals" were targeted in the verbal volley.  The Straits Times (ST) report provided some clues.  The Incredible Hulk wannabe had been rattling the iron gate of a 60 year old neighbour because his dog barked. Another neighbor actually made two police reports against the foreign talent for threatening her family over, again, barking dogs. The Paris I visited was very nice to dogs, they even had "poo patrols" to clean up after the four legged animals. ST didn't enlighten on the anti-canine behavior, neither did they make mention of the rabid racism. Maybe they have to have a police report filed before calling in the race card. Viewed in the context of the special kid gloves treatment meted out to the perverse Asean scholar, one can only conclude that the pro-alien policies are still very much alive.
Action speaks louder than f**cking words!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Vagueness Of Law

The Confidential Information clause commonly found in a template contractual agreement defines what the parties deem to be proprietary and protected by the terms of the agreement. The clause usually defines what is, and what is not, confidential.

While the definition of the excluded items may be fairly consistent, the definition of the scope of information covered by the provisions tends to be highly variable. For instance the Microsoft non-disclosure agreement (NDA) defines Confidential Information as any non-public information that Microsoft designates as being confidential or which, under the circumstances surrounding disclosure ought to be treated as confidential by Recipient (italics mine). The clause may even attempt to cover anything the discloser wants to be treated as confidential, such as “ information that any Party desires to maintain as confidential or secret, which is supplied or provided to any other Party.” Whether this is too vague to be enforceable, it's for the lawyers to have their day in court. Of course, if a Minister deems it confidential - such as the terms for the Formula One Night Race extension - the conversation ends right there.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) decision to stonewall public demands for the details of the punishment meted out to Asean scholar and sex fiend Alvin Tan of Malaysia, we are given to understand, is protected by a confidential undertaking. For all we know, the contracting parties could be construed as the NUS, the dean of law, the sex blogger or even members of the public, if the latter's interest in the matter is even considered material at all.

What is not vague is that a precedent was set when provost Tan Eng Chye did detail the fine ($3,000) and community service obligation imposed on another scholarship holder without actually disclosing the name of the offender (spoiler alert: Sun Xu), thus maintaining the "confidentiality" agreement with that scallywag. He was simply referred to in the internal circular distributed to students as "an undergraduate at the Faculty of Engineering" who "posted offensive remarks about Singaporeans online".

The bar, for reasons best known to the faculty training the new batch of lawyers, has been raised (lowered?) for this rogue who NUS has admitted to be detrimental to its international reputation and dignity. By pushing the envelope of the vagueness of law, the confidence in NUS can only be shaken, if not (already) stirred.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Facts Of Law

The antepenultimate sentence in the last paragraph of Glenn Knight's autobiography ("The Prosecutor") is a curious statement: "Nowadays, the law has become more important that the facts." It makes one wonder how the rule of law in Singapore has changed since the first director of the Commercial Affairs Department started practice at the Singapore Legal Service in 1970.

Knight writes that the catalyst for the abolishment of jury trials was the case of the "Body in the Box" in which the accused was meted out a lower sentence because of "one obnoxious member who was pushing for the death penalty". The recording of Justice Choor Singh (presiding judge) in the Oral History Centre has it that the father of the victim complained to the newly minted Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who then told Justice Choor Singh steps would be taken to change the law (page 54).

In another instance of the determination of law by one man, Chief Justice Yong Pung How in 1996 concluded that Tan Koon Swan was wrongly convicted in the Pan-El insider debacle, over-riding the legal opinions of Justice Lai Kew Chai, Justice Frederick Arthur Chua, and Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin (page 163). Yong is remembered for the speed in which trials are conducted, leading some critics to accuse him of convicting indiscriminately, leaving the burden of proof to the accused. In the hour long defence of his appointment as Chief Justice in parliament, Lee disclosed that the loan of Yong's lecture notes enabled him to catch up with his studies at Cambridge. ("The Politics of Judicial Institutions in Singapore", Francis Seow)

When the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) came calling at his La Salle Street house, he had just been awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1990. Knight says a deputy in charge of the department admitted that they had nothing against him, but were investigating him for "misconduct". There were rumours though, unsubstantiated, that he was "investigating" Lee Kuan Yew's brother, Lee Kim Yew.

As in the recent revelation of the backroom deal offered by Deputy Director Teng Khee Fatt to ex-CNB chief Ng Boon Gay, the CPIB had asked Knight if he would "like to surrender and admit to any wrongdoings" (sic). At the end of day, Knight was never charged with corruption (page 188). But the system demanded satisfaction, as in the Shakespearean contract that Shylock may take a pound of Antonio's flesh from any part of his body Shylock chooses. Some things just never seem to change with the passage of time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Four More Years

Obama's re-election for a second term is sweet.

Recall that at a local conference in early February 2008, it was Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, no less, who labelled Obama as a “flash in the pan”. He continued to exhibit public disdain and lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate, right until the moment when the financial crisis hit corporate America in September 2008. The daughter-in-law had invested heavily in Bank Of America shares.

In stark contrast, Lee spoke effusively about John McCain in laudatory terms, lavishing public praise on the senator’s record and experience in government, all but endorsing him as Singapore’s choice for President of the United States. Even the Straits Times got in on the act, hosting a joint commentary authored by John  McCain and fellow senator Joe Lieberman on the subject  of the US’ commitment to Asia on the opening day of the 2008 Shangri-La dialogue, an annual gathering of defence ministers held in Singapore.

Today, even as the score card showed the electoral votes for the Democrats clear the 270 halfway mark, the ChannelNewsAsia team was still rooting for Obama's opponent. And, while Obama was delivering his powerful thank you speech, the CNA newsfeed scrolled that the US dollar tumbled against the Euro at the news of the historic re-election.

All probably because one man claimed, and probably still claims to his dying day, Singapore is not ready for an Indian prime minister.

You bet Obama scares him. Especially when the man said what makes USA great is that the country welcomes dissenting views and voices. This is a guy who says it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, or what you look like, or where you loved. It doesn't matter if you are black or white, or hispanic or asian, or native american, or young or old, rich or poor, able or disabled, gay or straight..... we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions. But of course, Obama doesn't have to contend with a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system that was implemented because of one man's belief that votes are cast along racial lines.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Law In His Hands

To commemorate the retirement of the outgoing chief justice, the Singapore Academy of Law published a 828-page book entitled "The Law In His Hands: A Tribute To Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong". Chan, age 75, is reputed to be a prolific writer, having delivered 380 judgments in his 12 years on the Bench. One of his handiwork was produced in Parliament at the behest of then Law Minister S. Jayakumar:

21 July 1997

Prof S JayakumarMinister for Law


On 14 July l997, THE Workers' Party issued a press release expressing "amazement" that the public prosecutor had advised police that no offence was disclosed in the reports made by it leaders against the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and Dr S Vasoo that they had been present inside polling stations when they were not candidates for the relevant constituencies. The Workers' Party queried why such conduct was not an offence under paragraph (d) or (e) of section 82(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.

2. On 15 July 1997, the Singapore Democratic Party also called on the attorney general to explain his "truly befuddling" decision and to state clearly if it was an offence for unauthorised persons to enter polling stations.

3. You have asked me for my formal opinion on the question raised in these two statements. My opinion is set out below.

4. The question is whether it is an offence under the Parliamentary Elections Act for an unauthorised person to enter and be present in a polling station.

5. For this purpose, the authorised persons are the candidates, the polling agent or agents of each candidate, the Returning Officer, and persons authorised in writing by the returning officer, the police officers on duty and other persons officially employed at the polling station; see section 39 (4) of the Act (quoted below) Activities Outside Polling Stations

6. The relevant sections of the Parliamentary Elections Act to be considered are sections 82 (1)(d) and 82 (1)(e). These provisions were enacted m 1959 pursuant to the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Corrupt, Illegal or Undesirable Practices at Elections, Cmd 7 of 1968 (hereinafter called "the Elias Report)"

7. Section 82 (1)(d) provides that - "No person shall wait outside any polling station on polling day, except for the purpose of gaining entry to the polling station to cast his vote".

8. Plainly, persons found waiting inside the polling stations do not come within the ambit of this section. Similarly, those who enter or have entered the polling station cannot be said to be waiting outside it. Only those who wait outside the polling station commit an offence under this section unless they are waiting to enter the polling station to cast their votes.

9. Section 82 (1)(e) provides that -
"No person shall loiter in any street or public place within a radius of 200 metres of any polling station on polling day."

10. The relevant question is whether any person who is inside a polling station can be said to be "within a radius of 200 metres of any polling station". The answer to this question will also answer any question on loitering inside a polling station.

11. Plainly, a person inside a polling station cannot be said to be within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station. A polling station must have adequate space for the voting to be carried out. Any space has a perimeter. The words "within a radius of 200 metres" ' therefore mean "200 metres from the perimeter of" any polling station.

12. The above interpretation is fortified by the context of the provision. The polling station, as a place, is distinguished from a street or public place. It is not a street or a public place. Hence, being inside a polling station cannot amount to being in a street or in a public place. By parity of reasoning, loitering in a street or public place cannot possibly include loitering in the polling station itself and vice versa.

13. There is no ambiguity in section 82 (1)(e). If the legislature had intended to make it an offence for unauthorised persons to wait or loiter inside a polling station, it could have easily provided for it. It did not. The mischief that section 82 (1)(e) is intended to address is found in paragraph 99 of the Elias Report. It reads:

"In order to prevent voters being made subject to my form of undue influence or harassment at the approaches to polling stations, we recommend that it should be made an offence for any person to establish any desk or table near the entrance to any polling station, or to wait outside any polling station on polling day except for the purpose of gaining entry into the polling station to cast his vote; and that it should be an offence for any person to loiter in any street or public place within a radius of 200 yards of any polling station on polling day ."

14 . Paragraph 99 of the Elias Report appears under the heading "Activity OUTSIDE POLLING STATIONS". The Commission of Inquiry was addressing the possibility of voters being subject to undue influence and harassment as they approach the polling stations. There is therefore no doubt whatever that this provision was never intended to cover any activity inside the polling station as there would be officials and election agents in attendance.

15. The legislative history makes the provision so clear that it is not even necessary to consider the application of an established principle of interpretation that any ambiguity in a penal provision should, whenever possible, be resolved favour of the accused.

Activities Inside Polling Stations
16. Activities inside polling stations were made subject to a different regime under the Act. Section 39(4) provides that -
"the presiding officer shall keep order in his station and shall regulate the number of voters to be admitted a time, and shall exclude all other persons except the polling agent or agents of each candidate, the Returning Officer and persons authorised in writing by the Returning Officer, the police officers on duty and other persons officially employed at the polling station."

17. Under section 39(7), any person who misconducts himself in the polling station, or fails to obey the lawful orders of the presiding officer may be removed from the polling station by a police officer acting under the orders of the presiding officer. If an unauthorised person refuses to leave the polling station when told to do so by the public officer, he commits an offence under section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his duty.

18. There is a consistency in the rationales of the regulatory schemes governing activities inside and those outside polling stations on election day. Waiting outside a polling station is made an offence because it gives rise to opportunities to influence or intimidate voters: see paragraph 99 of the Elias Report. Hence, the Act has provided a safety zone which stretches outwards for 200 metres from the polling station. In contrast, the possibility of a person inside a polling station influencing or intimidating voters in the presence of the presiding officer and his officials, the polling agents etc was considered so remote that it was discounted by the Act.

19. I therefore confirm my opinion that the Parliamentary Elections Act does not provide for any offence of unauthorised entry into or presence within a polling station. Accordingly, those unauthorised persons who only wait or loiter inside a polling station on polling day do not commit any offence under the Act.

20. You are at liberty to publish this opinion.

Chan Sek Keong
Attorney General

At the farewell festivities, Chan said his only contribution for the book was the title. Keeping in character with his judicial mindset, he was careful to qualify the choice of words, "The title does not mean taking the law into my hands."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Catch The Litterbugs

Are we such incorrigible litterbugs that government officials should slime us to no end? Talk about giving a dog a bad name and hanging him.

It was not so many years ago when our Taiwan agent told us about his Singaporean visitor sight-seeing at Huaxi Street Night Market (Chinese: 華西街夜市; Hwahsi Jie), and looking for a trash bin to dump his sweet wrapper. It was a fruitless endeavor in the streets of Taipei and, according to the admiring Taiwanese, our compatriot finally kept it in his pocket until he could deposit it at the litter basket of his hotel room.

Then there was the experience of visiting North Western University campus for the first time, and discovering that the walkways were so clean that you could literally eat off the pavement. Suddenly it dawned that when the Ang Mohs waxed lyrical about Singapore being so clean and green, they actually meant it was cleaner than expected, compared to the congested Asian capitals of Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur or Manila. Quite obviously, sparsely populated suburban areas are less polluted by the human debris associated with overcrowded cities. The "windy city" of Chicago had natural elements to sweep the pathways clear, not cleaners from Bangladesh.

At the CGS Carnival at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, Tharman repeated the recent NEA survey claim that about one-third of Singaporeans said they would litter if they can get away with it. This could have been the same survey that was quoted to justify MP (Nee Soon GRC) Lee Bee Wah's Facebook rant, “Can we use the strength and power of the 60% good Singaporeans and residents who do not litter to put pressure and change the bad habit of the other 40% litterbugs?” Except that the percentage had been tweaked to blunt the innuendo, what Chinese would term "There is bones in her speech".

With so many foreign elements crowding out our law abiding citizens, most of whom have put in two years of military service to ensure our property is protected, are the wagging fingers pointed in the right direction? Maybe the vigilantes proposed by Vivian Balakrishnan should be unleashed, just to clear the air about recalcitrant litterbugs. Some of whom may not have acted intentionally to dirty the living space, but to spite the authorities for mismanagement in the first place.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fitting The Bell Curve

It used to be easy to spot an educated person, the way he carries himself (with dignity) and behaves in front of elders (respectfully). The mark of erudition was not in the paper qualification, but the humble acknowledgement that he always has more to learn. Those were the days when only 5% made it to university. Then, scholars were not closeted pedophiles or exhibitionistic perverts.

Then came the bell curve, the graphical representation of the probability density of the normal distribution (also called the Gaussian distribution), and a statistical method of assigning grades designed to yield a pre-determined distribution of grades among the students in a cohort. National Institute of Education's Assistant Professor Kelvin Tan tells us it's the wretched T-score that matters, that determines whether one gains entrance to a brand name school. The teachers couldn't be bothered whether the youngster acquired the necessary learning to put him in good stead for a meaningful life.  It's all about fitting a finite number into finite schools, places which are continually reduced to accommodate foreign students, brought in at our expense, to dig spurs into our own.

His analogy of a doctored Olympics bears repeating:
"Imagine a new kind of technlogy for the next Olympics, where there is no bar to jump over. The high jumpers just keep jumping, higher and higher.
At the end of the competition, they are not told the actual height that they have jumped, but who comes first, second and third. This meets the purpose of the Olympics in determining who jumped the highest.
But the actual height is not made known to anyone."

Dr Tan explains that the T-score itself doesn't actually tell the student how well he has performed in each subject or across the subjects. In effect, it is just a queue number.

With such an introduction to the rat race, it's no wonder the end product is an embarrassing parade of miscreants. Lawyers who barge into court proceedings uninvited, doctors who lie and scheme to avoid a traffic ticket, and professors who barter gifts for grades.  It makes one wonder what they learn in the universities. The tragedy here is that our system of meritocracy is protective of the charmed lives of those fortunate to be anointed "scholars". Even when they fail spectacularly in the duties assigned - witness the numbers who hold high office without the relevant qualification or track record - they are moved laterally into another well compensated appointment. No wonder parents go through extremes and jump silly hoops to make sure their charges ace the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). One end of the bell curve promises riches in millions, the other spells "It's The End" (ITE).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CPIB Questioned

District Judge Siva Shanmugam and Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Ken Hwee were understandably miffed when the court heard that the Deputy Director of Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) Teng Khee Fatt may have his own agenda in the case against former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) chief Ng Boon Gay. Latter's defense counsel Tan Chee Meng was accused of "casting aspersion" on the integrity of the CPIB, specifically by mentioning that somebody was "bent on proving charges" against Ng. All these guys (save the lawyer in private practice) are civil servants of the same cloth.  Watching them go at each other like fighting cocks engaged in illegal blood sport is such sweet theater. Will the CPIB ever be investigated for corrupt practices?
Deputy  Director Teng's personalised treatment for witness questioned
CPIB's Teng could simply stop filing investigation details when he felt like it, even though there's a law mandating police officers to do so. Maybe that law applies only to the rank and file members, not Deputy Directors. Challenged about  an entry concerning a witness being willing to take a polygraph test, Teng's dismissed the incongruence with: "I left out the 'not'." Leaving us to believe it was just another honest mistake in the everyday life of a law enforcement officer. The court should make Teng take the polygraph test on this.

What is real maddening is the deal making that goes on in his office. Teng confirms this (see left clipping). Worse, Teng seems emboldened to change the course of justice to suit his personal predilection, or maybe that's the new normal in our judicial system. But who would have known that the CPIB has the authority to direct how the mainstream media should put the spin on this major case of corruption in the upper echelons of civil service?

A friend was once interviewed for some minor infringement, and the investigating officer assured him he would be given a warning letter. Imagine the shock when same officer informed him later that his superior overruled the official recommendation and insisted on a charge. After months, and lots of lawyer monies, the charge was dropped. All because somebody wanted to play God. That's why sometimes boys in blue are as odious as men in white.