Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Not So Easily Forgotten

Today, 30 June 2015, marks the 100th day since the horrible person finally left this world for a better place where there is no COE, ERP, GST and Medishield Life premiums. For the record, champagne glasses across the island were clinked in rejoice on 23 March 2015. Just to prove that the daft are still around, some chose to commemorate the 100th day of his passing on the 28th - these folks can't even read a calendar.

Others choose 29 March 2015 as a significant date. That was the Sunday when the skies opened up to rain on their parade, and avoid the embarrassing semblance of a North Korean style mass send off. It was also the same day that 8 plain clothes police officers converged on a housing block flat unit to arrest a 16 year old boy. Since then, the child has been cuffed and shackled, strapped to an iron bed in a medical ward, deprived of sleep and, as we type, being probed vicariously in a mental institution.

There are those who prefer to turn a blind eye to the humna rights abuse in progress, but Penang civil society groups are not among them. To remind the Singapore authorities of the obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), they are assembling on 1 July 2015 (Wednesday) at their Penang Speakers' Square (Esplanade) to protest vociferously. Check the online coverage, the local media will be shunting it like a plague.

Another show of support from the international community comes from the Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU), who is organising a petition  “to demand the Singaporean government to release Amos Yee and stop any sentence due to one’s speech.” HKUSU made it clear in their statement, “Any act of trampling human rights and manipulating the freedom of thought must be condemned.” “Please, please,” begged prominent Hong Kong acitvist James Hon, referring to Singapore’s Prime Minister, “do not follow your father’s footsteps. Do not become another horrible person.”

Gad, what a horrible thought.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Shielding The Truth

The horrible person thought that by banning the private use of satellite dishes, he could maintain a sanitized version of world events. Thanks to the internet, we know there more important news than the rehash of the Phey Yew Kok blooper, whose train ride to freedom 35 years ago hardly raises an eyebrow. After all, he was the favoured trade union child of the day. A frustrated Dr Lee Siew Choh once pressed Jayakumar, then Home Affairs and Law Minister, for the amount spent on surveillance of Francis Seow in the United States when investigating officers only ventured out to Bangkok to hunt for Phey.

You'll never read about it in the 153rd ranked newspaper, but Taipei Times reported that on 26 June - International Day in Support of Victims of Torture - groups including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), the Human Rights Covenants and Conventions Watch (CCW), the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare and the Judicial Reform Foundation marched on Singapore’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, and called on the government to observe the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that it has ratified and free Amos Yee immediately.

Wu Yi-cheng (吳易澄), head of Taiwan's Mackay Memorial Hospital’s department of psychiatry, said the misinformation dished out by the Singaporean government and the media about psychiatric disorders is “different from the psychiatry treatment guidelines we’re following now,” according to which patients “recover” rather than being “cured.”
“There are two sides to the [Singaporean government’s] deployment of psychiatry in this case,” Wu said. “On the one hand it seems humane to have those with mental illness receive proper treatment and maintain that they could thereby obtain lighter sentences; however, the [medical claim] could also be subjected to political machination and lose its altruistic essence.”

BTW, don't believe everything they are writing about Phey either. A "media consultant" by the name of George Joseph, is quoted saying "a riot took place at the PIEU office in 1974 when a university student and workers fought with union officers over failed union talks". Even judge T S Sinnathuray had stated in court proceedings that Tan Wah Piow was nowhere inside the room with overturned furniture ("You were standing across the road that day", AWAKENING, 1974, issue 19). It's a perversion of the "a person inside a polling station cannot be said to be within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station" illogic. No wonder the Straits Times is attempting a major rehash of their format this coming week.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Famous Last Words

Stalin was not the only one with a predilection for sending folks to the headshrinkers. It's just their horrible style of putting people down. And covering up their own foibles.
(With apologises to Morgan Chua, illustration from his book "Political Cartoons")

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Prodigal Son Comes Home

Will wonders never cease! Former chairman of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and People's Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament for Boon Teck (1972 - 1979) Phey Yew Kok popped up in court on Wednesday 24 June, after being on the lam for almost 36 straight years.

Phey was the key instigator behind the American Marine incident, wherein Tan Wah Piow was fixed for allegedly inciting a riot inside the premises of the Pioneer Industries Employees' Union (PIEU). It mattered not to judge TS Sinnathuray that Tan was not anywhere within the vicinity of the frame-up. When the political winds changed direction, Phey was nabbed for 4 counts of criminal breach of trust involving a total sum of $83,000, and 2 counts under the Trade Unions Act for investing $18,000 of trade-union money in a private supermarket without the approval of the minister.

Although released on bail, Phey was conveniently allowed to hang on to his passport. Even in those pre-internet days, rumours were rife about powerful friends who facilitated his flight from justice. Devan Nair actually believed in his innocence, and pressurised the CPIB to review the case. When shown the dossier compiled, Nair decided otherwise about supporting the crooked man. SR Nathan makes mention of Phey in his book as some sort of trade union protege. In his heyday, Phey was a powerful union leader credited with convincing Chinese unions to join the NTUC during the 1970s.

Mysterious sightings subsequently placed him eking out a miserable existence as a fugitive in Thailand, while others claimed he was living it up as a kingpin operating a transport company in Taiwan. Authorities are telling us Phey had simply left Singapore for Kuala Lumpur by train on Dec 31, 1979. Well, at least that's more credible than Mas Selamat bin Kastari floating across the Johore Straits on a rubber ducky.

It is not clear why Phey surrendered himself at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok on Monday. Maybe he was seduced by the promises of the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) and goodies in the SG50 Seniors Package. Man, is he in for a surprise!

Also not clear was why, in response to media queries, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "He has been charged in court, and the law will have to take its course." Note that the media never queries the prime minister about the saga of Amos Yee.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Caught Between A Rock And a Very Hard Place

On 2 June Amos Yee was sent back into remand for an additional 3 weeks because District Judge Jasvender Kaur wanted more time to contemplate his suitability for the Reformative Training Centre (RTC). While she was thinking, the boy was cuffed spread eagle to an iron bed. Well, come Tuesday 23 June, the report is in, and it says the kid is physically and mentally suitable for reformative training. The monkey wrench in the works is that on Monday 22 June, the United Nations Human Rights Office had asked Singapore courts to "drop the demand for sentencing (Yee) to the RTC" and called for the "immediate release of (Yee) in line with (Singapore's) commitment under the UN Convention on the Rights of Child".

So a Dr Munidasa Winslow suddenly pops up to suggest that Yee may be suffering from autism-spectrum disorder (ASD). Now ASD is a complex disorder of the central nervous system, which often first appears as delayed speech in children around 18 months of age. Anybody who has seen and heard the articulate boy pontificating on his YouTube videos, including the one about the horrible dead guy who kicked the bucket, will wonder if Winslow has his head screwed on right. More important, the SingHealth website openly declares that there is no known cure for autism. Therapies do NOT cure autism, although they MAY bring about marked improvement.

This Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) which the learned judge is juggling with is merely an option that could be meted out in lieu of imprisonment. Introduced as part of a series of community-based sentencing (CBS) options implemented since January 2011, the positive experience of this route - how we hate this phrase - is that the criminal record will be rendered spent, and the offender deemed to have no record of a conviction whatsoever. In other words, the child is no longer a criminal under the infamous Singapore system of justice, and the United Nations can call off their intervention force with the famous blue helmets.

But that does not change an iota about Madam Mary Toh's precocious son having to spend 3 + 3 + 2 weeks in a lock-up - the last sojourn in a mental institution with electroshock therapy options. Judge Kaur has painted herself in a corner, and a notorious niche in the international hall of shame. Bet you she's willing to forgo her SG50 $500 bonus and have someone else assigned to the case.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Turning The Tables

Even a hustler has lessons to learn
It started when Hollywood studio Voltage Pictures - in the person of Samuel Seow Law Corporation in Singapore - sent out threatening letters of demand to local Internet users for illegally sharing its film "Dallas Buyers Club": pay up or run the risk of being sued. By hinting at the possibility of criminal sanction, apparently the lawyers ran afoul of the Law Society's Practice Directions and Rulings 1989 which state: "It is improper for a solicitor to communicate in writing or otherwise a threat of criminal proceedings in order to achieve a stated objective in any circumstance."

Without going into the intricacies arguing that a case cannot even be made to say that a identified internet protocol (IP) address is proof one has actually downloaded one complete copy of a movie, the stinker here is that the whole exercise is a scare tactic and a copyright troll. Michael Wickstrom, vice-president of Voltage Pictures, has said that a letter from a rights holder is a “good deterrent” to further piracy, admitting,  “All I request is that our local attorneys send a warning, because I don’t anticipate a settlement from them except a warning.” Worse, his company has a notorious history of using tracking software to bait victims by mimicking a user of a peer-to-peer network and to offer a file for download to other file sharers.

Plenty of grounds for Internet Society (Singapore)’s president, Harish Pillay, to complain to the Law Society, accusing the firm of engaging in a “bad bullying tactic”. The parties named are Robert Raj Joseph, director, and Lee Heng Eam, associate, from Samuel Seow Law Corp’s litigation and dispute resolution practice group. Raj, who issued the letters of demand, is reported to be leaving the company and has been placed on "gardening" leave, a fancy term for an employee's suspension from work on full pay for the duration of a notice period, typically to prevent them from having any further influence on the organization or from accessing confidential information. Samuel Seow said that Raj’s departure is not related to the handling of the case, suggesting he might also be naughty in other fields of pursuit.

The positive outcome of this nasty episode is that it has rekindled revival of interest in virtual private networks (VPN) - unblock any sites, protect your privacy and surf anonymously with a free proxy. Have you installed yours yet?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Man Shoots Cop

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said the use of any firearm is taken very seriously, and that police are investigating. Nope, he is not referring to the shoot out at Shangri-La when a panicky gunman shot dead a motorist who was afraid of being caught without a driver's licence. The latter alibi cannot be established in a court of inquiry, since dead men tell no tales. Plus, the police shooter got away clean. Even Jason Tan, the avowed child mutilator, was slapped with a "stern warning in lieu of prosecution”.

The one-way exchange of gunfire at Ardmore Park was the first in 7 years that police was reported to discharge firearms in a non-combatant zone. The last incident involved a knife-wielding man who advanced on an officer at Outram Park MRT station in 2008. It must be a very scary blade that prompted the policeman to fire at point blank in a very crowded place. And probably messed up his underwear as well.

Holstered and secure
Teo was talking about the 24 year old who, while under arrest and armed escort at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), managed to grab hold of a police officer's firearm and wounded him in the thumb and foot. Apparently they only hand cuff and leg shackle 16 year olds. 6 year olds are hand cuffed only, since their little legs can carry them only so far.

Since the focus of the investigation is most likely on the man who attempted to escape, we'll never get to know other important details. Such as why the holstered revolver's retention device - the thumb-snap that must be unclipped in order to draw the weapon - was not secured, and why the safety catch was not activated. It took three rounds to rouse the surprised cop from his revelry, probably day dreaming about the Kate Spade he could buy his girl friend with the free $500 already in the bag. Maybe he should ask for a transfer to ticketing funeral buses parked illegally.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Free Money

One has to be blind to miss the sweet young thing (SYT) stationed at the ticketing terminal to help the senior citizen (SC) redeem the $50 Public Transport Voucher.
SC: Can you tap the card twice to credit $100?
SYT: Cannot lah, government very clever one.
SC: Okay, lor. BTW, congrats on your $500 bonus.
SYT: What $500 bonus?
SC: Didn't you get the memo? It's in all the newspapers.
SYT: Aiyah, that's for full time staff only.
SC: But you are also serving the public, what!
SYT: !!!????!!!

The Public Service Division (PSD) justified the one-off bonanza by explaining that the Singapore economy grew by 2.6% on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2015, faster than the 2.1% growth in the preceding quarter. You don't need Accounting 101 to appreciate that the civil service is a cost center, not a profit center. Surely the productive elements in the private sector - whither in construction, manufacturing or sales - deserve the ex-gratia pay-off more. After all, the windfall is tapped from their income taxes and other monetary contributions to the economy.

Not having worked a day in the public service, it's best to let someone else explain the anomaly:
"Do you know how government make decisions whether it's regarding what to teach, interest rates, defense, welfare all the stuff that impacts you? Middle management hears a [insert word for sound of odoriferous discharge from anal cavity] from a minister and tries to guess what he means. Doesn't want to ask in order not to look stupid. He doesn't know what to do, so he asks the most junior guy to write a paper. The junior guy does his best and the paper floats up to his head, it bounces back an forth a few times between them, then it bounces to a director then a few times with another higher up. There are many layers. By then, it is morph into something completely different and it gets implemented. A senior guy once told me that writing papers and second guessing your boss correctly is key to success. Practical experience, actual care for serving the interest of Singaporeans actually a detriment."
(Thanks, anon@6/18/2015 4:15 AM)

Sceptism aside, there has to be method to the madness. Those 82,000 beneficiaries could easily translate into votes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Kishore Mahbubani (former permanent representative to the UN who told the world "There are no homeless, destitute or starving people in Singapore. Poverty has been eradicated.") once wrote in his column in The Straits Times on December 13, 2014 that Singapore is not ready for a serious political cartoonist.
“Singapore is clearly not ready yet for a serious political cartoonist. However, we can try to encourage a culture of cartoonists by getting some of our leading citizens to allow themselves to be parodied. I am confident that some of our leading lights – like Tommy Koh and Chan Heng Chee, Ho Kwon Ping and Gerard Ee – would not object to being lampooned once in a while.”

Notice that Lim Chin Siong and the horrible person who cannot be named are not included. Which explains why Sonny Liew’s graphic novel "The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye" had to have a sticker plastered over the National Arts Council (NAC) logo in its first sold out 1,000 copies. Which should make the $34.90 Singapore variant of a manga a guaranteed collector's item.

Mr Khor Kok Wah (senior director, literary arts sector, National Arts Council) the Indian giver provided more graphic details for rescinding $6,400 of the $8,000 publication grant which had already been disbursed: “We had to withdraw the grant when the book The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye came out because its sensitive content, depicted in visuals and text, did not meet our funding conditions." Sensitive content meaning that when the 1987 Operation Spectrum, involving 16 young persons detained without trial allegedly over a Marxist conspiracy to overthrow the Government, is turned into a plot to replace all music in Singapore with the melodies of American singer Richard Marx, it's all too much for thin skinned folks who claim to be flame-proof. And found the kitchen getting too hot, so had to cool off in Hokkaido.

While waiting for the reprint which will be available in all good stores from 19 June, do browse the free book online by another cartoonist with sensitive content taking jibes at the nefarious Population White Paper whitewash. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Travel Advice

Putting our fate in dumb animals
A friend planning to visit Greece in July - no, he is not one of the ministers rumored to be clearing annual leave for fear of being ousted in the next GE - asked if it was safe to ascend the 300 steps from the port of call to the cliff top village of Oia, Santorini, to catch a glorious sunset. Unlike Fira, there is no cable car alternative. He had read many of the “don’t ride the donkey” online posts on TripAdvisor.com which keep harping on links to 5-year-old articles from The Daily Express about animal abuse.

The Greek lady selling the cruise package was a bit on the heavy side but looked stout enough. For all we know, she has lineage tracing all the way back to King Leonidas of Sparta. Going up is okay, she advised, but going down can be hairy. But even ascending was a nightmare, as the donkeys, prodded by their master in the rear to speed up, veered perilously close to the tiny brick wall on the left preventing us from going over the cliff, or towards the right to smash against the uneven cliff side. And there was this awful account:
"The men organising it were very abrupt and rude, but the danger was when we came to get off at the top and they started turning the donkeys round before we had a chance to get off! I ended up with one leg in the stirrup and one on the ground and then fell into someone else and we both dived into the side as the donkeys came running back down! The men just told us to hurry up and get out of the way!!"

By now we know that the Mount Kinabalu trek is not without its dangers, earthquakes notwithstanding. The Ministry of Education (MOE) must have swallowed their travel advisor's pitch, hook, line and sinker, when they claimed that it is not a challenging climb. Even for 12 year olds, hanging on for hours to a rope diameter designed for larger hands. The positive experience, to borrow the insensitive phrase of some horrible person, is that parents are now more aware of what risks they are signing off on the indemnity form. No parent should have to see their offspring crushed by falling rocks (Warning: Do not click on the link if you are faint hearted).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Time For Celebration

Peak season in Hokkaido is usually during February for the snow festival and July autumn for the lavender season. So why did the prime minister decide to go to Japan in summer when Tokyo temperatures are in the 40s? Even in Hokkaido, we are talking about 28 degrees - warmer than a cool night in Singapore.

The bigger question is why he planned to give the spectacular 28th Southeast Asia Games closing ceremonies a miss? Tickets for the $40/$20/$12 climatic closing show, featuring giant floats and aerial displays set in a festive party atmosphere with live music, have already been sold out. Was he afraid that the organiser would run a last minute repeat of the Balakrishnan request to "revise" the $104 million YOG budget to $387 million? The Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) had announced that they will spend not a cent more than $324.5 million. To match the YOG scale of debacle would mean easily a billion flushed down the drain.

Lim Teck Yin, chairman of Singsoc's executive committee, had boasted, "This is a special year for all Singaporeans, and Singsoc will strive to deliver a Games that will bring people together in a fitting and memorable celebration." He probably did not count on the fact that someone would rather not be included in the people defined. Never mind that the gold medal tally for Team Singapore has already breached 83, second only to Thailand's 93.

SMRT has announced that train services and selected bus services will be extended for the Closing Ceremony on today Tuesday (Jun 16) and roads in and around the Singapore Sports Hub will be closed or have restricted access for vehicles. Lots of Singaporeans will be in a partying mood - surely not because the horrible people, one by one, are exiting the country?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Special Treatment

When Francis Seow was incarcerated at the Whitley Detention Centre in 1988- at the pleasure of the horrible man - the doctor's concern about his weight prompted his jailer to inquire about his choice of meal for dinner. Seow indicated "a yen for a grilled country-killed spring chicken from the Goodwood Park Hotel" . Someone was actually sent out to buy it but it was not available, not even in the deluxe Royal Holiday Inn across the road. So he had to settle for Penang-style fried chicken from the nearby family-size Sloanne Court Hotel (page 155, "To Catch A Tartar, A Dissident In Lee Kuan Yew's Prison").

When the 16 year old - birthdate 31 October 1988 1998- confided to his doctor that he was entertaining suicidal thoughts, the prison pyschiatrists had him forceably strapped, arms and legs all, to a bed, and expected to discharge his bodily fluids into a jar. Well, if Amos was not actually suicidal, that kind of child abuse will definitely drive him into full fledged sudicidal mode.

The Hippocratic Oath is supposed to be all about "First do no harm" (Latin: Primum non nocere). It would appear that the hypocrites in charge are all out to extract their pound of flesh, anything short of a lobotomy to preserve the saccharine sweet memories of their departed dear leader. It is obvious that the thugs who did Dinesh Raman in are still gainfully employed at Changi Prison.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Far From The Maddening Crowd

“The most the police can do is give chase and try to bring (suspects) into custody. Use of deadly force or opening fire is not an option in (roadblock breaches),” a former officer of the Singapore Police Force was quoted. Which makes it kind it hard to explain why Mohamed Taufik Zahar was shot dead by trigger happy gunmen wearing a blue uniform. Opening fire at a suspect is NOT part of police protocol for roadblocks.

Meanwhile, 16 going on 17 youth Amos Yee is remanded for 3 weeks because some judicial officer is unable to assess whether he is suitable to serve reformative training.  Yee was initially due to be sentenced on today (Tuesday), based on a pre-sentence report for an earlier request by prosecutors to explore the possibility of probation. Which makes it kind of hard to explain what kind of civilised country Singapore is.

Best response to the curious Europeans in this part of the globe with a history tracing back to the Ottoman empire is "me no speakee English".