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Of the YPAP Blog July 31, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

Ned was hoping to be able to take a hiatus to relax; however what he saw in Aaron’s and The Legal Janitor’s recent posts made him come out of his hiatus. It appears that the some YPAP bloggers have done it again.

The YPAP blog has been the site of many furious comments precisely because some of their posts defy logic or common sense. The latest by Nicholas Lazarus is particularly shocking, notwithstanding his profession his argument seems to be no different than that often employed by those homophobes who have been rearing their heads in the public sphere. And this is the same Nicholas Lazarus who employed one of the worst arguments for the ministerial salary hikes.

Now he believes that 377A must stay because:

1) Men will be walking down orchard road fondling and kissing.

But aren’t men and women also doing that?

2) Teacher’s have to deal with boy boy relationships.

Well while I may not be a homosexual I see no difference between BBR and BGR. And a commentor did mention that there are in fact GGRs. So why GGR can and BBR cannot? Sexist isit ūüėõ

3) Homosexuals will descend upon Singapore.

This is similar to the argument that removal of 377A will result in the end of marriage, the end of society, the next apocalypse; thus flying in the face of the historical precedent of Ancient Greece and other civilizations. Furthermore, this argument suffers from the flaw known as the Slippery Slope. Anyway, what is wrong with them coming to Singapore? As long as they follow the law, things should be fine. In fact they can also help the economy!

Ah, but ridiculous reasoning notwithstanding, one must applaud him for trying to defend his views. Unfortunately it appears that he is digging a deeper hole:

1. They threaten the social fabric of the nation. Their ways represent an alternative for which we should not accept as being mainstream.

Oh dear, another vision of the apocalypse. Notwithstanding that concepts like democracy, and the various schools of philosophy were all products of societies which did not frown on homosexuality. And do not get me started on the slippery slope.
2. They cannot procreate and thus cannot produce offspring for our nation.

This reminds me of the JC student who said that he has to study hard so as to contribute to the economy. It appears that Nicholas believes that Singaporeans exist to reproduce for the nation. To extrapolate things further it appears that we must do everything for King and Country. Our lives are suborned to the state. Then bachelors, spinsters, people who take a vow of celibacy for religious reasons are by default traitors because they do not reproduce. So since Ned does not mind being a bachelor Ned is a traitor and must hang. Bollocks

3. They cannot serve as soldiers because instead of serving alongside our men in green, they are more keen to sodomise them.

Well there are homosexuals in the army but I daresay I have heard little of homosexuals sodomising other men. And given the way stories are passed in the army any case of sodomy would probably be known. Furthermore as Aaron pointed out by his logic women should not be in the army because heteros like Ned will want to rape them.

Ned must say he has seen the darndest things in the blogosphere and some of the posts on the YPAP do come under that category. In fact as per what Dan E, Han and Ben have said in the Legal Janitor’s comments, Ned is concerned of the ramificaions to society if such bigotry does make its way to the top echelons. As said elsewhere, such a situation would merely encourage the bigots and increase the level of prejudice in society; it does not bode well for Singapore’s aspirations of being a gracious society (however this aspiration may not exist, Singapore seems to be more concerned about being a hub of…everything).

That said, if such homophobia was checked, then Ned would have found the post humorous. Unfortunately this is not the case and thus there is cause for concern.

* Ned just had a talk with some friends. While they personally did not approve of homosexuality, they however believed that Section 377A was wrong.

** Ned just remembered abit of history. This in addendum to the point that homosexuals should not be in the military. Well now I shall present to you the Sacred Band of Thebes, the elite fighting force of the Greek City State of Thebes, which consisted of 150 Homosexual couples. Now who says homosexuals cannot make good soldiers? In fact Alexander the Great and Richard I the Lionhearted were both said to be homosexual.


For Every Baby Step Forward there is… July 26, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

3 steps backwards! After reading the article Today and feeling abit optimistic about the future relationship between New Media and Mainstream Media, I must say I am bitterly disappointed to see the following article which was on the Straits Times. And I am even more disappointed to read from Gerald’s blog that though he was asked for his views, the ST article did not even mention it. And here Ned thought that the Today Article was a harbinger of better things to come.

Thus when one reads the article one would be forgiven if one leaves with the impression that the bloggers are a bunch of bungling jokers who are always sticking their hands into the fire and spreading gossip and misinformation. Since Ned has said much of it before (I think its all pure bollocks) Ned will try his best to restrain his comments to those raised in the article:

1) The article uses the example of the Lee Hong Yi incident, ostensibly to show case the lack of discretion of bloggers. The following quote by MP Charles Chong is particularly telling, especially when he goes on to say that he receives letters which are CCed to people of all positions, including but not limited to the President, the PM and MPs and so on. Firstly, with regards to the former, the Lee Hong Yi incident was indeed a cause of public concern for it highlighted salient facts about the military system which affects the lives of a very large proportion of Singapore male citizens (not those newly converted kind); in fact some males too have lost their lives or livelihoods due to the system. Thus Ned fails to see why there is a need to sweep everything under the carpet. And this incident does benefit society as a whole.

Secondly, with regards to Singaporeans broadcasting complaints beyond relevant recipients, perhaps we should go back to the aforementioned case of Lee Hong Yi. Assuming that his actions were commensurate with one who wanted to create greater awareness among the Army, the same can also be said of the youth who CC practically everyone under the sun. True, it gets tiring, but then again better a foolish idealist than an apathetic opportunist eh?

2. With regards to Dr Cherian George’s point, it is valid in so far as persuasion is concerned. However the question is, who¬†is the person trying to persuade?¬† And will persuastion work in all cases?¬†Just take a look at the current debate on homosexuality, it is evidently clear that unless the government takes the step of repealing the law the homophobes will never step down.¬†To borrow one of Mr¬†Wang’s phrases (though he was using it in the context of TAR), you can bring the donkey to the water but¬†you cannot force it to drink.¬†Furthermore the burden cannot always be on bloggers to act¬†like moderates, the people need to learn to think for themselves by comparing the various views on the Net. Perhaps the Dr Cherian’s sentence was predicated on the fact that bloggers are generally ranting lunatics who¬†are out to smear the establishment. As said time and again, that is a¬†misconception.¬†

3) The use of Wee Shu Min and the blogger featured in the first paragraph could paint a negative picture of the blogosphere in general.¬†To recap,¬†the Wee Shu Min incident highlighted a rather disturbing lack of empathy which could have been prevalent among those from top schools thus making it an issue of public interest. Furtheremore several bloggers did step up to the bat in this instance, condemning her views but refraining from making smear attacks; a fact whith the ST has not highlighted, rather they chose to quote Wee Siew Kim’s lament that his daughter was misquoted (though I fail to see how she was misqouted, but then Ned is no MP and thus does not have the helicopter vision).

4) The use of Goh Meng Seng. While Ned does not know what comments Goh Meng Seng made online, the fact is Goh Meng Seng was from a political party and thus has to be even more careful given the public stance of his party. Many bloggers do not belong to political parties and thus are able to express their personal views. Of course that does not mean that we shoot our mouth for no reason what so far. And that we do not exercise discretion. In fact a perusal of the posts of bloggers would allow us to see that bloggers generally exercise discretion and are willing to acknowledge mistakes made during posting.

But notwithstanding that, Ned agrees with the conclusion of the article. There is no need to be fearful or anything of the Net for there is no doubt that the Net is here to stay. People should not abdicate their personal responsibilty to think for themselves and parents should likewise teach their kids to think critically.

* Singapore Angle has also done an interesting write up on this.

Another Exercise in Irony July 26, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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It is a common trend that a letter in the ST forum remotely or otherwise critical of Singapore would attract several rebuttals, kind of like how Sylvia Lim got rebutted by all those PAP MPs during the debate on the Constitutional Amendments allowing the Prime Minister to appoint two more people into the Legal Service Commission. And thus in response to  a previous letter which said that Singapore is not First world, this writer has decided to say her piece and has even gone on to say that Singapore is on the right track (though what is the right track and what is not is purely debatable).

Perhaps indeed she feels that Singaporeans are becoming gracious and Singaporean staff are becoming more courteous. Perhaps those nasty drivers Ned wrote of previously are in the minority or at worst are a figment of Ned’s hyperactive imagination. Perhaps.

But then if you look at the Straits Times Online Forum this is what you will see:

Decriminalising Homosexuality: At Stake is Public Morality, not Pragmatism

Tolerance Does Not Mean We Tolerate what is wrong!

Govt should consider blah blah….

And these letters are merely the tip of the iceberg for there have been and there certainly will be more of this sort of homophobic rantings and demeaning of fellow human beings who just have an orientation towards people of the same sex. I do not know about Ms Williams (author of the letter not to shortchange ourselves) but such self righteous condemnation of fellow human beings without any acknowledgement of the many shortcomings in logic in their point of view bespeak of an irrational prejudice and a total disregard for the feelings of others. How would you feel if someone comes up to you and insinuates that you are criminal just by virtue of your sexual orientation? Perhaps, it is prudent to once again look at Ian Mckellen’s views on the matter (Ian Mckellen, catch no ball? Try Magneto or Gandalf).

Intolerance of homosexuals is merely one of the many intolerances or prejudices that plague Singapore Society. Therefore Ned humbly submits that it is too premature to actually accuse critics of shortchanging Singapore. As said earlier not all critics are blind to the good points of Singapore, it is just that there is no purpose in resting on our laurels and allowing underlying issues to be buried in the avalanche of good news. And the fact that in the same webpage you can find letters from Singaporeans betraying a distinct irrational prejudice does tend to cast doubt on Ms William’s letter and truly it can be said to be an exercise in irony.

A Positive Development July 25, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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The New Media has often been derided and underrated in Singapore society; this is known as a fact as seen in many of my older articles. The MSM rarely seems to have any thing good to say about the New Media, until today.

This was published in today’s Today regarding a mistake made by the Straits Times which had been highlighted by Mr Alex Au in his blog. While of course there are certain issues, like why is the article only published in Today and not Straits Times (since they were the ones who made the mistake), why did ST accept ERA’s figures without further verification and whether they did indeed perform independent verification rather than just relying on government stats, given the fact that government has been known to make mistakes, a fact which surfaced not too long ago, Ned sees the article as a positive development for the New Media and the relationship between the New Media and Mainstream Media as a whole for several reasons.

Firstly, this dispels the notion that the New Media is a hive of misinformation and anti establishment content. As can be seen, Mr Au’s “self journalism” has highlighted a mistake which has ramifications regarding the crazy property market. And in this instance, it has been shown that the MSM is the one who made a mistake and not the New Media.

Secondly, this proves that a lack of resources may not necessarily hamper bloggers, in fact the absence of any support apparatus could give a level of flexibility to the blogger. ST reporters may not have the flexibility to do as Alex did in this instance, namely to just get the camera and head for the scene. The reporters could be constrained by higher authority.

Thirdly, let us take a look at Alex’s comments at the end of the article:

The latest episode goes to show how the mainstream media and the blogosphere could complement each other in revealing “the truth”, he added. “Working together in a more active media scene benefits everybody.”

Essentially this words do in part, dispel the notion that the blogosphere is full of radicals out to flame anything to do with the establishment and the newspapers. In fact Alex suggestion that the “two Medias” can work together could herald the start of a relationship whereby both sides work together to the benefit of society as a whole, rather than launching pot shots at each other. This is because both Media’s actually complement each other. And this is happening even now. Take for example the “commentor” kind of blogger. Don’t they get the “raw material” from the Mainstream Media? And on the other hand, the MSM has been known to quote information from the New Media (It is possible that Aaron was quoted in the past). And while the situation whereby both the¬†New Media and MSM launch potshots at each other is akin to the adversarial legal system (both parties fight it out so that¬†the “truth” will emerge),¬†it is better for both sides if things were less acrimonious. Thus¬†Today’s article could be said to be a¬†positive step in, hopefully, better relations between the two Medias and a sign of¬†future cooperation.¬†

Driving: Microcosm of Society July 24, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

There are times when the ST Forum would feature some letters with regards to driving in Singapore, be it letters which bemoan the horrible state of driving in Singapore, letters which talk about how pedestrians and cyclists make driving hell, how other drivers make driving hell among other things.

Having driven in Singapore, Ned must say that indeed there is some truth to the assertions that Singaporeans are horrible drivers, both in terms of skill and in terms of courtesy. However this is not a rant about driving, rather it is an attempt to portray driving as a microcosm of Singapore society. And I must say its a rather interesting and accurate portrayal.

Sense of Entitlement

It has oft been said that Singaporeans do exhibit a sense of entitlement. Be it in Education, in terms of shopping to name a few Singaporeans often expect certain levels of service or rewards or remuneration for jobs done (be it as lawyers or…ahem…public servants?). However before moving on it must be made crystal clear that a sense of entitlement need not always be a bad thing; for example, the sense that being a Singapore citizens makes you entitled to something which foreignors are not entitled to.

Now what has this sense of entitlement got to do with driving? Witness how pedestrians dash across the road or stand in the middle despite the clear and present risk to their own lives. And why so? Because simply put, according to driving theory, drivers are the ones who have to yield the right of way to pedestrians. It is entirely possible that¬†the fact that the law imposes the liability of pedestrian-motor accidents on drivers causes pedestrians to act in a bolder and more foolhardy manner. Of course, pedestrians are not the only ones who exhibit the aforesaid sense of entitlement, cyclists often do the same, cycling without caring if they drift into the centre of the left lane or not. Drivers¬†too exhibit it. Of course that in itself leads Ned to his next point on…

Lack of Courtesy

It has oft been said, in MSM and in the New Media, that Singaporeans doth lack courtesy. Common examples include but are not limited to; not giving up seats to elderly or pregnant women on public transports, cutting queues for no good reason, not bothering to hold open the lift notwithstanding that the buttons are just before you, rushing into the MRT before people actually alight and blocking the escalator.

The same is seen in driving. Rare it is that a driver choose to give way to a fellow driver who needs to change lane. Thus it is hardly unsurprsing that there are accidents caused by drivers who were trying to change lane. In fact Ned once saw two cars in the same lane. Of course there are also instances of drivers who change lane for no reason whatsoever, forcing people to make way for them. However there are times when doing that is necessary; for example during traffic jams; especially in expressways where not changing lane could result in missing the exit and exiting a totally different place. Of course such the success of such attempts are entirely contingent upon the goodwill of your fellow drivers and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that that is sorely lacking. A possible culprit could be the sense of entitlement mentality, where drivers believe that they have the right of way and thus have no reason whatsoever to give way to someone else for ANY PARTICULAR reason.

Another interesting phenomena can be seen when one signals to indicate to his fellow drivers his intention to switch lane. Through personal experiences it never fails to amaze me when, the instant one signals his intention, the car at the other lane will suddenly speed up, in effect preventing the driver from switching. Perhaps this could explain in part why more experienced drivers choose to switch lane instantly without signaling. And it also brings to mind an incident where the instant the driver signaled his intention to go to the left, the car on the left suddenly went so close to the car in front such that he was, in effect, tail gating. And do not get me started on probational drivers. It appears that hanging the twin triangles is tantamount to hanging a noticeboard asking people to horn at you for no apparent reason. Clearly a disgraceful lack of courtesy.

Miscellaneous stuff

The above was merely the tip of the iceberg. I am sure that others can come up with a litany of things seen when driving and correlate them to Singapore society as a whole. Whether this state of affairs is a symptom of a society too engrossed in things material or for whatever reason has not been touched here as it is not the purpose of the post. Furthermore Ned has used the word driver rather loosely; meaning that driver could mean a lorry driver, a taxi driver, a normal driver or bus driver, as Ned believes that no one group of driver is more prone to such actions vis a vis other groups (There have been taxi drivers who, contrary to popular belief, have been courteous to Ned). To stereotype would only perpetuate a common ailment in Singapore society.

Lastly, all events based in this post are purely anecdotal evidence from various drivers including but not limited to myself. Ned does not have any statistics or parliamentary reports or press secretaries to prepare them and thus it is fine if anyone objects in particular to anything that is said within.

RE Clarifications on University Admission July 18, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

The Minister of State for Education Mr Gan Kim Yong has recently attempted to reassure locals that locals do not lose out when it comes to University Education. This comes on the heels of a certain dissatisfaction from the ground regarding admission into university. However while all appears well on the surface, Ned feels that there are certain issues which regretably have not been discussed. (Perhaps they were too busy trying to hantam Sylvia Lim?)

Lucky Tan and Sze Hian have both analysed the proportion of foreigners in the local universities and from their posts it can be seen that there is evidently a certain discrepancy. If only 4.3 percent of the foreigners who applied are given places than how can they constitute 20 percent of the student population? Of course if one looks at the statement:

Half of them – 14,000 – were offered places. In contrast, out of 23,000 foreigners who applied, only 987 – or 4 per cent – got the nod.

It can be inferred that this 4 percent refers only to the undergraduates and makes no mention of postgraduate students. And of course there is the question, did giving 987 places to these foreign students result in the loss of place to a Singaporean student of equal calibre but was admitted on a different criteria? Furthermore what is the definition of the applicants? Are foreign scholars considered applicants?

Furthermore, this question of foreigners begets a host of issues which none of the powers that be has addressed, that of foreigners using Singapore as a stepping stone, a carpark. Bear in mind that it is known for a fact that the government does provide subsidies which essentially demolishes any financial barrier to studying in Singapore. While most locals have to rely on bank loans, and then spend some time paying back the loans (and notwithstanding the use of the term interest free the loans are only interest in so far as the person is a student, the instant the person graduates it aint interest free any more), the foreigners, need not worry. Oh and while it is undeniably true that foreigners are required to work in Singapore, firstly they could work and then run away, or they could run away without even working in the first place. Thus the money, for lack of a better word, invested in them is kinda wasted.

Of course Ned must restate again, he is not against foreigners studying in the university. He is however concerned at the apparent generosity of the government towards them vis a vis the locals. I daresay that many Singaporeans who were accepted but did not at the end take up studies in overseas universities do wish that the overseas countries would take a leaf out of the Singapore government’s book and be kinder to them; I know, because I was one of them.¬†If UK and US universities can continue to draw students from all over the globe¬†despite their governments not being generous to foreignors¬†then why can’t our local universities do the same? Are the local universities in anyway inferior? I sure hope not, given the fact that our universities are said to be first class.

Besides that, there is also the issue of differing standards in university application, whether foreigners do get it easier than locals or not. Which is rather sad if the above is true, I guess it could be added under one of my old posts entitled The Irony that is this Country, where foreigners are well treated by the government while locals¬†despite having¬†to sacrifice career time and the prime time of their youth to defend the country are decried as whiners and told to bugger off. But of course it could be a nonsensical conspiracy and Ned does not wish to be hounded for propagating “conspiracy theories” so he will not say further on this issue.

 * With regards to the Constitutional Amendment, I was rather disappointed, but unsurprised by the way Sylvia was hantamed. But Molly Meek has done an excellent write up on the issue and thus there is nothing else to say, in my opinion.

**Apparently Mr Gan Kim Yong made a mistake. Foreignors do make up 20 percent of the intake in our universities.

Of a Paragraph in Digital Life (17th July 2007) July 17, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

Today, the Digital Life ran some articles on the blogosphere which took up two pages; a rare achievement considering that the MSM has not been well disposed to the blogosphere in previous articles, preferring to echo the government line that we bloggers are dangerous insurgents who are mindless anti establishmentarians, a claim which shows a distinct lack of understanding of the dyanamics of the blogosphere. Thus the articles on Digital life do give Ned some hope that perhaps the tactic of  engaging the New Media with hatchets is history.

While the article was quite fairly written, the last line did give me some pause, it shall be reproduced below (since Ned does not subscribe to ST online and thus must rely on the primitive method of copying the entire passage:

Others, however, still rely mainly on newspapers for their information. Like 42 year old taxi driver Bala Jaganathan.

He said:” These sites are good, but they lack resources newspapers have, like access to information and full-time writers.

So, right now, I think they’re playing catch up with the mainstream media, although they might be better at exploring less well-known topics”

Granted, most of us have daily routines, be they jobs, studies, looking after the little kid or trying to earn money to beat the rising costs in Singapore. Granted we may not have an army of informants to do our work for us. However to conclude that the New Media is indeed playing catch up because of the above is to ignore certain points.

With regards to resources, they will be important insofar as reporting is concerned. However that is based on the premise that bloggers are akin to reporters. The truth is most bloggers, self included, are more of commentators, the ST equivalent would be those editors like Janadas and Andy Ho. Thus access to the MSM is more than sufficient for that purpose. Bloggers like Lucky Tan, Dr Huang, Mr Wang, Aaron Ng and others are examples of those who comment on issues raised in the MSM. At times they  comment on issues not raised in MSM but based on anecdotal evidence or personal experiences. I hardly think that a bundle of authorities are needed if I am merely indulging in some rambling albeit online.

Of course there are also bloggers who do research. Granted they probably do not have the resources of the MSM, but that has not in anyway adversely affected the quality of their posts. (indeed I believe they deserve to be commended for delivering quality notwithstanding all that constraints they face:P) Some examples will be Bernard and his gang at Singapore Angle, the personal blogs of Bernard and gang again, and of course veteran blogger Mr Alex Au. Unlike the commentor kind of bloggers, these bloggers often do their own research before posting.

Then there are the aggregators: intelligent singaporean, theonline citizen, Singapore Surf and tomorrow.sg . Given their scope as aggregators I believe all that is required is the determination to trawl the internet for noteworthy articles and a computer with internet  connection to do the above. There is no need for an army of informants.

Thus in view of the above I would respectfully beg to differ on the point that the New Media has catching up to do. In fact given the constraints the Netizens have it is rather amazing that the blogosphere has come this far. (In fact people like Inspired, the folk of TOC, Tomorrow Sg and Mr Heng of Singapore surf should be commended for their work in the blogosphere.) The New Media, be it in the incident of the Ministerial Salary debates, the Wee Shu Min Incident and the Lee Hong Yi incident, has risen to the occasion and I daresay has surpassed the one sided reporting/commentary that is often found in the ST. Oh and not to forget the GE 2006 elections; while the ST was full of reports on how PAP rebutted its opponents and how the Gomez was a liar, the blogosphere provided the counter, including and not limited to the publishing of a picture showing an extremely high turn out during¬†a Worker’s party rally, thus rebutting the veiled assertions that the opposition was a dying force in Singapore. And before Ned turns calls it a night, Ned would like to state that it is wrong to say that the New Media is better at exploring unknown topics. I hardly call Ministerial Salaries an unknown topic. One of the key advantages, at present, is that bloggers are not constrained by any loyalties to any party whatsoever. This in effect puts us one up over the MSM when coming to commentary, in so far as we stay clear of defamation or sedition. The ST fellas do not have the luxury of writing what they want by virtue of the fact that the ST’s purpose seems to be to propagate the government stand.

Anyway, to add some more stuff on the issue of homosexuality, i now present to you the comments of Sir Ian Mckellen, in view of the fact that his comments may not appear in the MSM.

Of Emails and the Chain of Command July 13, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Previously, I did state that I would be cautious about giving praise with regards to Li Hong Yi’s actions. At that point in time I had no knowledge of the exact contents of the email and was relying on what little has been said. However as stated in the last part knowing the contents of the email does change things. A lot.

And so if I¬† have given the impression previously that Ned is scornful of Li Hong Yi’s actions,¬†I must state that having seen what is purportedly the real email, it is clear that what Hong Yi was trying to do was to highlight a dangerous (but hardly unknown) trend in his unit and perhaps in emailing it to everyone he hoped to be able to do something. Of course I do not approve of his actions in shooting letters to the Minister of Defence. Perhaps it is true that the brashness of youth caused him to take such a course of action. Nevertheless I applaud his daring to actually raise the issue. In fact what is also praiseworthy is the fact that he even bothered to do his own investigations into the matter.

Hongyi’s email actually raises a host of issues which if I may put it boldly, are part and parcel in the SAF, including and not limited to the discrepancies in punishment between a regular and an NSF and to extrapolate it further the discrepancies in treatment between the enlisted personnel and the officer cohort. Furthermore as can be seen there are many things that are covered up in the SAF. And those coverups often involve regulars working in concert. I daresay I have seen my fair share of nonsense in the army and therefore have been very fortunate to serve with good people like the belowmentioned P and several others. I daresay that after perusing the email Hong Yi’s actions are not dissimilar to that of P.

The regretable thing is that such issues are rarely brought to light in the “public sphere” and the only time the public gets to see the sordid details is when someone dies as a result of the nonsense going on in the army. Which is rather frightening given the fact that our Defence budget totals 10.6 billion. Of course the official line is that there are avenues for NSF to seek redress, but as seen in this article they have to do so within the chain of command through proper channels. However having served in the force I daresay that most NSFs are very wary of the so called proper channels. This is because the danger of the respondent taking revenge on us is a clear and present danger and what worse is that the respondent could use military rules and regulations to oppress us. And the top brass may very well agree with his actions. Furthermore what actions are deemed to be unreasonable? There are instances of regulars indulging in unreasonable behaviour but technically they have not done any wrong because they have not contravened any regulations! Furthermore with regards to the chain of command looking Hong Yi’s email speaks for itself. If the higher up in the chan chooses not to do anything or worst, gangs up with the respondent, then the complainant is for lack of a better word, screwed. And if a serviceman calls the hotline, would’nt he be bypassing the chain of command and liable to charge?

Of course Hong Yi should be punished. But the punishment should be for the action of emailing just about the whole army world. And this punishment should be mitigated by virtue of the fact that he has exposed something rather wrong in the unit. And having said all that I now end of with what some bloggers think about the issue (those not featured anywhere in this post).

1. Elia Diodati

2. Dhamandra

3. Rockson (he has finally come out of retirement!)

4. For more info, check out this TOC link.

Hero or Zero? July 12, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

It is a rather common consensus that the SAF, in particular the army, is a place where injustice reigns. Ned served in the army and¬†has been on the receiving end of injustice at one time or another. Of course Ned has served with and served under good men who are not afraid to take a stand against the injustice that plagues the force. In Ned’s opinion that would make a person some kind of hero.

So what do I make of Li Hongyi’s actions? There are those who praise him for having the guts to say what needs to be said, there are those who have contend that he can say what he said by virtue of who his dad is (see lucky’s comment). Then there are those who view his actions not dissimilar to that of a spoilt person.

From a practical aspect, the reasons for his actions are irrelevant, what is important is that at least he did bother to speak up. However taking into account the whole picture, I would be cautious about giving praise. May I bring your attention to this paragraph;

2LT Lee Hong Yi, better known as PM Lee’s son, had fired off an e-mail within the military network lambasting the “quality of leadership” in the SAF to the top brass, including the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force.

He had done it after being punished for an error that was largely not his.

Having seen that, it would be rather premature to praise him for daring to speak out. What if he had not been punished? Would he have even bothered to speak up?

And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. This incident has raised a host of issues, for example , the fact that there appears to be a climate of fear, and the fact that there appears to be some double standard at work here; as has been pointed out, such an action would render one liable to a military charge. But notwithstanding all that it appears that this incident stemmed more from a sense of anger and desire to get back at someone rather than a sense of civic duty. Of course there will be those who will point a finger at me and say that I am letting myself get blinded by the fact that his surname is Lee.

To set the record straight, I will give praise where praise is due irregardless of surname ( I do respect Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for his contributions, though I do not like it when his contributions are hyped up and that of his peers are forgotten; fortunately there seems to be positive development with respect to that.) In this instance there is anything to suggest that his actions were not motivated by any sense of civic duty. In fact I will end of with a story of a former army comrade who, I opine, did what he did because of the said sense of civic duty:

P was one of the old men in the unit. He had numerous overseas exercises under his belt and his experience was even greater than some of the officers.

One fine day one of the Key Appointment Holders (KAH) decided to implement a slew of measures which adversely affected the noncoms and the enlisted personnel, including but not limited to moving forward the book in time. Naturally many people were unhappy and during a family day event some parent decided to write that down in the feedback form. Unfortunately KAH didnt take it in a positive light and reprimanded the unit. At that material time P was participating in an overseas exercise. When P got back he was so disgusted that he drafted a letter and passed it to OC and Sgt Major. OC was very helpful and helped us fight this case and eventually we won (though after I left the timing was changed again).

Of course from the above story, there seems to be nothing to distinguish P from Li. However before I get accused of double standards I will provide the last part of the story;

Months later P was nearing his ORD date. However at that time things were turning from bad to worse in the unit. Since P was clearing leave this changes had no effect on P whatsoever. However despite that P once again decided to draft a letter appealing to the powers that be, notwithstanding that it was no longer his business to do so. And of course P did not shoot letters to every single person involved, in every thign he did, P made sure that he minimised the, for lack of a better word, “exposure” by corresponding with the people in the Unit and company. And that it why Ned respects P for what he did, for his actions did not arise merely because he felt aggrieved.

* It appears that Hong Yi has been taken to task by the Army. I believe that credit should be given to MINDEF for such an action, although I have something to say with regards to this issue of proper channels of redress. But that is a post for another time.

** with regards to what Hong Yi did, I have read the email. While I do not agree with his action in shooting the email to everyone ( He could have just emailed the CO and if no action were forthcoming then he could call the hotline), I understand his frustration and can empathise with the probable reasons why he did what he did. Therefore I will daresay at the very least, he deserves praise for his action.

What the **** Happened? July 11, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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I normally don’t start my posts with a title which contains a vulgarity. However the recent news report of a mother who died during pregnancy has made me commit that particular sin.

The report is confusing to say the least. The family was told by staff that the blood supply was running low and that a request for more blood would have to be approved by higher authorities (sounds like the typical civil service/army kind of gooble dook). They were also required to donate blood themselves.¬†But then of course the hospital fellas claim that such an incident does not mean that the supply of blood is low. So what exactly is going on? And more importantly, how will the hospital react? Will they write a whole list of weird directives which in essence say nothing at all? Will they emulate Min Law by expressing “regret“? Or will the heads of some poor nurse roll?

¬†Well given the way things usually turn out, we could hear words like regret, honest mistake; we could also hear reports of how staff (who are mostly in no position of authority) have been fired and perhaps charged for negligence. While there will be those who argue that it may not be that way and Ned is nothing¬†but a pitiful populist ranter, I may highlight the recent case of our very well known friend TT Durai. In fact I would borrow Stressed Teacher’s passage;

When was the last time you saw a local big-wig take responsibility for his mistake? Even for TT Durai, he lost only because he was stupid enough to take on a media giant, and not because he got greedy. Study his downfall carefully again. When Durai stuck to suing small-timers for defaming him for his extravagant lifestyle, he won; more than once. I bet Durai is not sorry, only regretful.” Stressed Teacher

I guess the thing speaks for itself, doesn’t it?