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Army Daze: Ramblings on Regulars June 28, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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In some time in the past Ned had to sacrifice the prime years of his life for King and Country. In fact, Ned is still compelled to sacrifice his career time for King and Country. And nothing galls him more to see instances of retardness in the army.

I refer of course to Gerald’s post and the recent ST forum letter ( to which Col Benedict Lim has yet to reply to)which highlighted the crankiness of certain regulars. Such incidents really make an oxymoron out of the term military intelligence.

Unfortunately besides writing letters to the forum and blogging about such ludicrous acts, there is precious little recourse for even NS men. And that is a pity given the fact that a majority of the NS Men (those fellas who did not keng their way through army by declaring all sorts of problems) have given the prime of their youth in service to King and Country; and it is possible that they had been under the command of the same bunch of retards who now go on to make life difficult for the NS men.

Having said that, I must state that I am not against regulars per se; in fact I hold in high regard several regulars, both noncoms and commissioned officers. Rather than go around making mountain’s out of mole hills and engaging in fault finding missions just to get their coveted premium plans (premium plans allow a regular to extend his time in service and go on to higher ranks, more for noncoms), these regulars are willing to befriend young clueless NSFs and some do not mind being acknowledged on a first name basis. They will stand side by side with the NSFs That is not to say that these people encourage sloth; in fact far from it.  Unfortunately it appears that there are more black sheep than white sheep in the flock, and based on anecdotal evidence nowadays i appears that the “nice” regulars are losing out to those faultfinders in terms of career advancement. In fact regular contact with my regular friends (who obviously fall in the “good regular” category) has allowed me to discover the following facts;

1. Most have already left the army and have taken up jobs in the “civilian world”

2. Those who are still in the army have either just signed up or do not intend to stay in the army any longer due to the various degrees of “intelligence” (or lack thereof) among other things.

3. Of course there are those who have stayed there for long and have earned the respect of the men; ie even if one is punished by the person one will not be bitter and will willingly accept it. However such regulars are rare.

So if that is a common trend in the SAF, guess what NSFs will be left with? Definitely a bunch of regulars who exhibit the characteristies of fault finders! And girls wonder why guys like to complain about NS so much. There are times when one should heed Atticus’ lesson to Scout,

You will never understand another person until you see things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Now the next part will be even more provocative, given the fact that many low ranking NS men have wonderful careers outside (though not so wonderful such that their ICT can be deferred), it is entirely possible that those regulars who are particularly nasty are suffering from envy pangs, thus when given a mandate from the powers that be, they will naturally make use of all sorts of rules and regulations to oppress and, to put it bluntly, bully these NS men. And to indulge in a little slippery slope reasoning, it could be possible that these jokers are still in the military because THEY DO NOT HAVE ANYWHERE ELSE TO GO! Essentially what I opine is that these fellows are unable to survive in the real world competition, thus they will continue to stay in an environment whereby they are protected by their rank! And so in a manner of speaking this small men are merely taking every opportunity to bully and belittle NS men who may be more successful than these jokers ever will be! And that is why you have some jokers shouting their heads of in public areas during Army Half Marathons and National Day Parade Rehearsals as a form of self validation, for the sake of their petty pride and self esteem. That is why you have some Warrant Officers forcing NS men to shave their heads. That is why you have Warrant Officers shouting at NS men just because of some minor thing. It all boils down to the ego, or as the army likes to call it, PRIDE.

And at times, incompetence makes such people even worse than normal… 

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The Issue of Orientation June 27, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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The title of course refers to the debate on homosexuality, ranging from the repeal of Section 377A, whether homosexuality is scientific, whether its immoral, whether homosexuals are being systematically discriminated in the civil service, etc. Much has been said about this issue and it has gotten very very acrimonious at times; with  an NUS Law Prof, a Minister of State and even the Minister Mentor himself joining the fray.

One of the views that is being floated by them homophobes is that decriminalisation will result in a situation whereby homosexuals begin influencing “young impressionable youths” to embrace a “homosexual lifestyle”. Such a view is premature given the fact that there is some scientific evidence to supporting the premise that it is in the genes. And even if it is not, unless you get buggered, why should you be so bothered?

Furthermore the above premise is predicated on the assumption that homosexuals will aggresively promote “homosexual behaviour”, much like them Christian Fundies who go around saying he who doth not believe in Christ will go to hell notwithstanding if he is a good man. Some jokers have even gone so far to comment that homosexuals are aggressively promoting their “lifestyle” on the net! Well I will now direct your attention to two websites, Mr Alex Au’s and SaltWet Fish. And now may I direct you to our very own Inquisitor. Who is the one “aggressively” promoting his “lifestyle” now?

 Homosexuals are as human as heterosexuals, albeit with a difference in orientation, AMONG OTHER THINGS (Are not all humans different?) They are not utilising the Net to launch a Crusade to kill all heterosexuals or establish a homosexual society; all they are crying out for is to be treated as human beings, as real people with families, dreams and aspirations. They care nothing if bigots continue to run around like headless chickens spewing vitriol in the name of the Prince of Peace or any other divinity; the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when people in power start to, advertently or inadvertently, take the side of the bigots by refusing the repeal of law which puts homosexuals on the same standing as rapists.

Here we go…Again June 26, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Just recently there was an uproar in the blogosphere regarding Alfian’s Saat dismissal from his position as a relief teacher in a secondary school. Basically there were three possibilities with regards to his dismissal:

 1) Alfian’s sexual orientation

2) Alfian’s political tendencies

3) All of the above

Of course since MOE was rather obscure in their reply it was difficult to conclude which of the above was applicable to the situation. However a recent incident could shed light on the matter; I refer to TOC’s latest post regarding the rejection of a homosexual by, surprise surprise the MOE!

While I do not  have the specific documents now, I believe that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong did make an announcement, during NDP 2003 or thereabouts that the civil service was open to homosexuals. However it appears that such is not the case given the anecdotal evidence from both Alfian and now Francis’ situation. What is even more regretable is the fact that Francis may start university one year later due as the admissions have closed. And his situation is different from those dragon girls who did not get a place this year.

The sad thing is that the extent of such discrimination on the basis of orientation is relatively unknown. Is such discrimination merely isolated incidents or do the incidents bespeak the general intolerance for homosexuals and, extrapolating it further, the intolerance of people who do not conform to the societal norms, the so-called Asian Values or any other line which is espoused by the establishment?

Unfortunately the fact that the legislature’s refusal to repeal the infamous Section 377A does not help matters at all. In fact the retention of that ridiculous law  has emboldened some homophobes to begin ranting against homosexuals, on one hand saying that they are not against the people while at the same time making declarations that such people are immoral and anathema to society; in essence, dehumanising real people in the name of Divinity (a side note, I really wonder what Jesus or Buddha would have thought of such rantings in their name. But that could be bothering on the sedition act. )

By criminalising homosexual acts, the legislature is essentially taking an anti homosexual stance which would lead to such incidents as aforesaid. While it would be unreasonable to expect people’s beliefs to change, there is no compelling reason for the legislature to pander to the whims of bigotted homophobes. Unless they also share such views then it is an entirely different matter.

That said, Ned Stark is not a homosexual. However Ned has a few friends who are homosexual who are not the wanton sexual predators or sexual animals, contrary to the belief of some crazy homophobes (it is known however that there are a number of heterosexual men who visit Batam at times). Ned strongly believes in allowing people to do their own thing as long as there is no harm done to any party; in this instance as long as no one buggers Ned should he drop the soap while bathing.

*According to Mr Anon the current rape under the Penal Code does not deal with the rape of a male and that consent is not required in 377A. Nevertheless I still stand for the repeal of 377A; the law on rape should then be amended to give provision to the situation where a poor NSF is buggered after dropping his soap. In fact if what Anon says its true I find it rather weird that 377A lumps both consent and non-consent together. There is a distinction between rape and consensual sex and therefore equating to consensual homosexual sex with rape only serves to send the signal that such an act is wrong and immoral, which patently cannot be the case.

An Amusing Comment June 22, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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I believe that some of the bravest & most outstanding warriors in history had long flowing hair, like the Red Indians (Cherokee, Cheyenne, Navaho etc), Vikings & Huns. Their shoulder length hair never impeded their accuracy with the bow & arrow or spear.

I doubt if our accuracy with semi-automatic assault rifles will be compromised with slightly longer or tinted hair.

My message to RSMs is “Not everyone wants to have close cropped conformist haircuts like yours. We are a citizen army, who report back for about 2 weeks a year. To each his own. You keep your hair shaven close to your head & we have ours tinted, styled & combed to make us look well-groomed & attractive in the civilian world!”

If i remember correctly, the Ancient Greek Hoplites and Macedonians had long hair, the Persian Immortals to had long hair. And let us not forget our favourite Greek Warriors, the Spartans of 300 fame. (In fact before  the Battle of Thermopylae the Persians were surprised to find the Spartan warriors grooming their hair)

The NS man’s case… June 21, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Can be found here. Stay tuned for the reply of everyone’s favourite spokesman, Benedict Lim (Col).

Artificial Dynamism Reloaded June 21, 2007

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My learned friend Aaron has told me to go easy and stop churning out posts lest I burn myself out. In fact I share the same thought as him. However with funny articles and issues cropping out the temptation to type is too strong to resist.

For those who do not know, Ned has always been a firm proponent of the idea that the current so called opening up of society is mostly artificial and that such artificiality do not  a vibrant sociey make. However it appears that there are people who do not share this view.

In the aforesaid CNA article, Stanford University professor Paul Saffo has this to say regarding creativity in Singapore:

Asked if restrictions on political expression would impede the development of a creative culture and Singapore’s aspirations to become a global media hub, Stanford University professor Paul Saffo said on Wednesday: “Singapore will continue to be hard on itself and keep asking searching questions like: ‘Are we creative?’ Of course, you are.

“There are lots of new media products, there’s lots more money in the industry,” he added.

From the above, it can be seen that the good professor is saying that curbs on “political expression” do not result in a lack of creativity in the media arena. I do agree with his statement. Political expression has little to do with creativity in the media; however the same cannot be said for the fostering of creativity through the education system! Whether there is creativity will depend very much on whether the society is willing to be open to alternative ideas (which need not be political), the education system (which is currently too focussed on rotelearning, though to be fair to Mr Tharman there have been attempts made to deal with the issue) and so on.  Furthermore, observe the question that was put to Professor Paul. In lawyer speak, it could be a leading question for there could only be one answer given that political expression has nothing to do with creativity IN THE FIELD OF MEDIA.

The later part of the article is suggesting that curbs of expression notwithstanding, Singapore can still become an arts hubs and that the arts in Singapore will flourish in the future. But then lets take a look at the background of the person who said it.

MDA chairman Tan Chin Nam, who heads the panel, said it was a “stereotypical view that there is no creativity and expression here”. In fact, a ” renaissance” has been taking place in the arts scene over the last five years, said Dr Tan, who is also the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts.

“We are seeing a very vibrant arts sector. With the establishment of the Esplanade, we are seeing a lot of new spaces being provided for creative talents to express themselves.”

And with increased Government investment and new infrastructure such as the integrated resorts coming up, there would be an “explosion of entertainment activities and creativity”, he said.

Added MDA CEO Christopher Chia: “‘Creative’ is as good as how you apply it to objects you can do something with.”

The bold portions speak for themselves. It is inconceivable that people who hold such positions will gainsay the official line and that is what is happening here. And just to burst the bubble, wasn’t Crazy Horse supposed to help the Arts flourish in Singapore too? And pray tell where is Crazy Horse now? And with the point about more spaces seems to be non sequitor for having a physical space does not necessarily result in more space for talents to express themselves unless there is relatively freedom of expression of different schools of thought in society.

 Furthermore, this line is particularly noteworthy:

Acknowledging that “technology would come to terms with the environment”, Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who lives in Europe, nevertheless said that it “works the other way round too”, with new media influencing political culture.

So the New Media has the potential to influence the political culture. And what is one component of the New Media? It is the internet. It is a known fact that the internet so far has managed to escape the iron blow of censorship from the authorities. Therefore it would not be wrong to say that the internet is relatively free from “restrictions on political expression” and therefore one cannot take what Mr Kapur has said to conclude that creativity is independent from restrictions on expression.

Therefore, it appears that the viewpoint espoused in “Artificial dynamism” is still valid. And there is historical precedent to show that free expression does result in a flourishing of the arts and a curb of expression results in stagnation. But that will be a story for another day.

Much Ado about the “New Media” June 20, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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The recent arrest of Abdul Basheer, a well educated law graduate, under the ISA has once again put the New Media under scrutiny by the Old MSM.  There also appears to have been mistaken information with regards to Basheer’s race; for he is an Indian Muslim and not a Malay. Unfortunately it appears that MSM (and since MSM is known to be a mouth piece of the government then it would be fair to say the government) has placed too much emphasis on the so called impact on the New Media on Basheer’s fanatacism. Of course Gerald and Bernard have both said their piece on this matter and to therefore say that the Internet can produce homeground terrorists is to oversimplify the underlying issues of terrorism and make one look like a silly in a circle of academics.

It is a trite knowledge that everytime the government mentions the New Media, it is either with scorn or derision loaded with veiled threats on how there should be some form of control or “ceremonial censorship“. The recent CNA article is no exception.

 And as for governments, the challenge is to manage dangers which include self-radicalisation through the internet.

Yeah, and we bloggers are deemed to be insurgents and radicals who are all too ready to start a guerilla. Bollocks.

The advent of the “New Media” has resulted in a more efficient way of collecting information. In the past one had to thumb through old books to find what one wanted, now all you need is a google search to find the same information. Of course because the New Media is relatively free from the clumsy attempts at censorship, you get all sorts of information which some people tend to find objectionable; namely, porn, videos of violence, ideas which the powers that be do not agree with and so on. Therefore it is unexpected that people are blaming the New Media for all sorts of acts, addiction to porn, acts of violence and in Singapore’s case, self radicalisation and the so called “antiestablishment” stuff on the net.

However, such accusations seem to be mere attempts to abdicate the responsibility to educate; to teach people to think critically and to be more discerning. And that is what is lacking in Singapore. Observe the letters to our wonder ST forum, how people tend to blame this and that and everything else but themselves. The truth however is often damning, that people (including the authorities in Singapore) tend to throw the ball, in this case, to the New Media. 
But there is proof to show that the New Media is unlike the immoral radical insurgent that is often portrayed by her half brother the MSM. While it is undeniable that there are those sites which do incite hatred, the truth is that the landscape is quite varied and you have a different range of perspectives found here that till date has yet to make a debut in the ST. Furthermore aggregators like Intelligent Singaporean, The Online Citizen, Singapore Surf to name a few have covered more ground in issues like the Wee Shu Min incident, the Pay Hike, Alfian’s dissmissal and so on. Even the recent arrest of Basheer has been analysed by the hardworking netizens.

And bear in mind that most netizens are either schooling, wearing green or working and may not even have journalism experience! I believe something other than the usual scorn and derision is required…

Of National Education June 19, 2007

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Recently Stressed Teacher did a post regarding the issue of National Education. From his post, he is of  the opinion that NE in general is a big flop. I concur.

 In 2001, Secondary 3 students were forced to take a compulsory subject named social studies. In fact they still take it today and it appears that little has changed in the textbook.

I believe that it is fine for Singapore history to be taught in schools. In fact it is ridiculous if Singaporens do not know anything about their history. Unfortunately what is happening now is that there are Singaporeans who do not know salient facts regarding the history of Singapore. And current policy is not helping much either.

The present curriculum regarding social studies leave much to be desired. In fact a person who only reads the present text would be forgiven if he goes around with the impression that Mr Lee Kuan Yew singlehandedly “crushed” the Western Educated radicals, the Communists and Marxists and that those who fall under that category are little more than scum to be detained and packed off to Sentosa; that Mr Lee singlehandedly led Singapore to its current state. Rather than give a chance for individuals to reflect on issues regarding citizenship, among other things, people are TOLD WHAT to think.

Even people who stood side by side Mr Lee Kuan Yew are given little mention in the current NE. This is rather disappointing; if they wanted to do something dedicated to PAP the least they could do would be to do it properly. Of course if teachers take it upon themselves to go beyond the limited scope of NE and teach students to think critically then something could be salvaged; however that could cost them their job.

Furthermore, it is inconceivable that the Constitution, which theoretically plays a large part in a country’s society, is rarely, if ever, discussed during NE. System of government too is given short shrift. Therefore what is left of NE is a glorified account of how the ruling party saved Singapore from sinking into the South China Sea and so on. Thus it is unsurprising that when one thinks of NE, the p word “propaganda” is never far behind.

So how to salvage such a situation? Regretably the solution requires there to be a paradigm shift in the way the government does things; namely acknowledgement of those who had contributed to the country albeit under a different banner from the lightning bolt, more tolerance for films which show the story from another point of view (referring to Martyn See’s films, both of which were banned). However it is highly unlikely such a situation will come to pass in the near future, so the rule NE= Propaganda will still remain.

Taiwan: The Big Red Herring June 19, 2007

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First and foremost, this has nothing to do with the insult hurled at Singapore by a Taiwanese minister in the distant past. This is also not one of the MSM’s usual attempts to deride Taiwan.

That said and done, Taiwan has always been the whipping boy everytime democracy is mentioned. Everytime someone asks the question, “Why can’t we be more open and more democratoc?”, they will say, “We are unique! We cannot be like the West! DO YOU WANT TO BE LIKE TAIWAN?”

There is no doubt that they are referring to Taiwanese politics, whereby their politicians superglue the doors to parliament house and engage in all sorts of stunts. Of course there is no doubt that Taiwan is rather chaotic and no doubt that their politicians are clowns. (Though their populace seems to be rather considerate and courteous). However what the MSM editors failed to do is discuss the root cause of all this happenings in Taiwan. And the root cause is not democracy, but history.

The are currently two main factions in Taiwan, the KMT and the Pro independance people. These two groups have fundamantal differences in their views with regards to Taiwan’s sovereignity. And its all because of history.

The island of Taiwan was ceded by Qing China to Japan during the Treaty of Shimonoseki, after Qing China got her butt kicked by Japan during the First Sino Japanese War (1894-1895). The Japanese, hoping to show the skeptical West that they could govern a colony, put in much effort to develop Taiwan. The relationship between the Japs and the taiwanese was relatively cordiale, as compared to how the Japs were feared in South East Asia. During World War II, Taiwanese did fight in the Imperial Army(Lee Teng Hui’s brother died during service in the Japanese Navy).  These local Taiwanese, thus did not mind the JAps as much as the guys from China did.

Then came the Nationalists. Led by Chen Yi, the Nationalists plundered Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War, resulting in discontent against the KMT. Eventually KMT was kicked out of the Mainland and Chiang Kai Shek was forced to set up shop in Taiwan. These group of people who were forced out of the Mainland were people who had experienced the cruelty of the Japs during World War II, and also saw themselves as Chinese. In fact Chiang Kai Shek never intended to set shop permanently in Taiwan; he intended to use it as a base and stepping stone whereby he could retake the mainland.

Thus in Taiwan u have two groups of different people coming from different points in history. With this historical baggage it is no wonder that their democracy has often been heated and seen to be ineffectual as both sides do not want to come to a common consensus. The KMT group, seeing themselves as Chinaman, are inclined towards reunification; while on the other hand, the pro-independent group see themselves as Taiwanese and dun want anything to do with the Chinaman. In Singapore, despite all the gripes about the system and all, there is no group who advocates reunification with Malaysia. The races in Singapore do not consider themselves as Chinaman, Indian, so on. Even Chee Soon Juan would balk at that suggestion. So at the end of the day everyone works towards Singapore’s interest, albeit in different ways.

The Enbloc Story June 17, 2007

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Yesterday the ST devoted two articles to this matter.

Now after reading the articles, one would most probably come to the conclusion that most of the people who are fighting against enbloc are doing it for the sake of the money. Notice how a large portion of the article keeps talking about the crazy movements in the property market and the fact that most of the people quoted, be they property agents, lawyers or lay people are all harping on the issue of money. Therefore, the ST has simplified the issue of Enbloc into one of dollars and cents.

Such a law is indeed “Uniquely Singapore”; no where in the world would there be such a law which forces people out of their homes just because 80% of your neighbours vote to do so. As can be seen, this is a clear cut example of the “Tyranny of the Majority”. The rational for such a draconian law is this; cold hearted pragmatism. To free up land for development, such a law is passed to allow the big players to acquire estates and eventually develop them into a more profitable one. So once again the rights of the individual, namely the right to own a home, is put in jeopardy, all in the name of Economic progress. 

Therefore in such instances, it is of no surprise that there will be people objecting to the sale of their homes, especially if they have no intention to move out or downgrade in the first place.  As one person said,

‘When you look at it, we made a lot of money,’ she said. ‘But it’s a roof over your head. You can’t just look at it in terms of profit.’

Regretably, such information has been buried in the report by all that talk about people being unhappy with the money.  However given ST’s track record, it is not inconceivable that such a situation has taken place. It is trite knowledge the ST reports are an indication of the government’s stand on issues and as the government is for such legislation it is not unexpected that ST will try to paint the issue in terms of $.

Furthermore, buried in a part of the article is a piece of information which is particularly worrying;

Overshadowing all this is his unhappiness about the way in which his parents were badgered into signing up for the collective sale.

‘Both my parents are hawkers and don’t have much education. The sales committee came down to talk to them when they were working at the busiest time and chased them to sign,’ he said.

‘We were not even given the full details until after we signed.’

 There are some implications with regards to the above. First you have a draconian law which forces you out of your home; then you have a situation by which the law has been abused! Furthermore as the law now stands, those who feel that they have been misled into the agreement will have no recourse before the Strata Title Board, which approves the sale. There is little or no safeguard protecting the rights of even the majority! Thus it is entirely possible that there could be a situation whereby lay people sign the Collective Sale Agreement without knowing any better given the fact that they have no idea about the legal mumbo jumbo, and having done that even should they realise that something is amiss they have no avenue of recourse that will not expose them to a law suit (since they can be sued for backing out of a contract). To put it in stronger terms, once you are “conned” into signing there is precious little recourse for you. Oh there is still a recourse; you could go to the court, as long as you have the money to do so. Most people tend to be fatalistic or cash strapped; much akin to the situation faced by the two people who paid Durai damages rather than fight the fella in court. Furthermore, a look at the recent Enbloc disputes (Horizon Towers, etc) show that the big names are often supported big law firms; thus increasing the financial barrier should one decide to seek recourse.

Therefore, while it is heartening that there is an attempt by parliament to tighten the laws, it still does not change the fact that this particular legislation is rather draconian due to the fact that it forces people out of their homes.  I daresay if such an enbloc legislation was widened to include HDB flats there will be a greater uproar over this issue. And given the fact that Singapore is land scarce it is entirely possible that one day such a situation could happen. A precedent has been set. For all you know, even entire streets could be enbloced!