Soh Rui Yong vs Ashley Liew

May 29, 2021

I refer to the Singapore High Court Grounds of Decision document on the case between Soh Rui Yong and Liew Wei Yen Ashley (https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/docs/default-source/module-document/judgement/-2021-sghc-96-pdf.pdf).

The following is some of what Singapore High Court deems to be the factual context of the case:

During the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) games marathon event, the leading runners failed to make a u-turn at the 5.5 km mark due to darkness while Mr Ashley Liew who was behind, took the correct u-turn and found himself 50 m in front of the leading pact.  Ashley supposedly slowed down to let his fellow contestants catch up and subsequently won the International Fair Play Committee’s Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy.  The award citation postulated that Ashley’s supposed act of slowing down cost him a medal as he ended up finishing 8th place in a time of 2 hr 44 min 2 sec whereas his personal best was 2 hr 32 min 12 sec.

Ashley claimed that he returned to normal pace 2.5 minutes after the u-turn.  Soh Rui Yong claimed he took 7 minutes to catch up with Mr Liew.  Ashley, upon cross-examination, declared he was about 700 m from the u-turn when he returned to normal pace.

Ashley stopped twice during the race

The International Fair Play Committee may have been wrong to think that it was only because of Ashley’s supposed slowing down that he failed to clock his personal best time at the 2015 SEA games marathon.

According to this website: https://www.justrunlah.com/2015/06/10/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-ashley-liews-race-last-sunday/:

“Ashley suffered a pull on both his hamstring at 2 separate times in the race so was forced to stop twice. He fought on to finish the race in 2hrs 44min 02secs.”

Thus, Ashley not just slowed down but actually stopped, not once but twice during the race because of hamstring pull.  So how can International Fair Play Committee be so sure that Ashley failed to clock his personal best due to the supposed slowing down for others to catch up and not due to the two times when he actually stopped running due to hamstring pull?

Here is another piece of evidence (https://singaporemotherhood.com/articles/2015/07/catching-up-with-ashley-liew/):

Q: You never gave up during the marathon, despite two hamstring injuries. What made you go on?

A: It wasn’t so much pain – it was one of those pulls which just don’t let you move. I was able to start walking after a few minutes.

Thus, Ashley himself admitted that it was a few minutes before he could start walking again after pulling his hamstring.  Thus, not only did he stop completely, he also walked after that.

Surely, the International Fair Play Committee should have considered that Ashley’s stopping for a few minutes due to hamstring pull and walking afterwards slowed him down more than his supposed 2.5 min slow down to let others catch up?

Ashley’s personal best was clocked in cool USA climate, not hot humid Singapore

When citing Ashley’s personal best time of 2:32:12, International Fair Play Committee failed to consider that this was clocked at New Orleans RnR Marathon, not in hot, humid Singapore.  All else being the same, marathoners always clock a slower time in hot, humid Singapore compared to other cities with more temperate climate.

Participants at the 2015 New Orleans RnR Marathon gave evidence that the weather was indeed cooling (http://www.marathonguide.com/races/racedetails.cfm?MIDD=483200209):

Wayne Wright from Palmdale, California shared that the temperature was 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) or 10 degrees Celsius at the start of the race and 60 degrees (Fahrenheit)  or 15 degrees Celcius at the end of the race.  So the New Orleans RnR Marathon race was indeed conducted in very cool conditions compared to hot humid Singapore.

According to our weather report (http://www.weather.gov.sg/climate-historical-daily/ ), Singapore’s (Marina Barrage) temperature on 7 Jun 2015 marathon day was between 26 degrees celcius and 31 degrees celcius, far hotter than it was at the New Orleans RnR Marathon.

Importance of cool weather

The importance of cool weather for optimum marathon performance is well understood amongst marathoners. Singapore’s ex-marathon champion had this to say about cool weather (https://www.redsports.sg/2013/12/22/mok-ying-ren-sea-games-marathon-gold/):

Myanmar, Monday, December 16, 2013 … I was pleased with the temperature – a pretty low 17 degrees sounded pretty much ideal for me though I could have appreciated even colder temperatures.”

Past Singapore marathon winners have better personal bests than their Singapore times

The table below shows that past Singapore marathon winners, if they had also competed in cooler climates, have always registered better timings in cooler climates compared to in Singapore:

YearMen’s winnerNationalitySingapore timePersonal best or season best or progression
2019Joshua Kipkorir Kenya2:19:1420192:09:50Gyeongju (KOR)
2018Joshua Kipkorir Kenya2:12:1820182:10:30Mumbai (IND)
2017Cosmas Kimutai Kenya2:22:4820102:09:25Eindhoven (NED)
2016Felix Kirwa Kenya2:17:1820172:06:13Eindhoven (NED)
2015Julius Maisei Kenya2:17:2620122:08:13Hengshui (CHN)
2014Kenneth Mungara Kenya2:16:4220112:07:36Praha (CZE)

Thus, International Fair Play Committee cannot insist that just because Ashley clocked a personal best in cool weather USA, he will clock the same time in hot, humid Singapore.

In fact, if you factor out the two occasions in 2014 and 2015 when Ashley ran in cool weather USA, his Singapore timings have never gone better than 2:42:55

2013Sea Games2:42:55
2014Chicago Marathon2:35:39
2015New Orleans RnR Marathon2:32:12
2015Sea Games2:44:02
2016Singapore Marathon2:49:46
2017Singapore Marathon2:50:28
2018Singapore Marathon3:09:59

Ashley’s 2:44:02 effort at the 2015 Sea Games is only 1 min 7 sec slower than his Singapore personal best time.  Factor in the fact that Ashley himself admitted that he stopped for a few minutes due to hamstring pull, it means Ashley didn’t slow down for others over and above his Singapore personal best time.

Conclusion

From all evidences, it is clear that any purported slow down by Ashley during the 2015 SEA games marathon is either insignificant or non-existent.

Yet, Ashley is now suing Soh Rui Yong.  Going by court proceedings, Soh Rui Yong seems to be losing the case and may have to pay Ashley $250,000 in damages for merely speaking the obvious truth.

There is every indication that this is going to be another case of injustice in Singapore.

Remarks on judicial document

The judicial document wrote:

“Hence the DJ explained in her judgment that when she interposed she was just reminding counsel that the figures were estimates.

On the second day, defence counsel repeatedly used the figures of 700m and two and a half minutes for various other lines of questioning throughout the morning, without any clear point coming across.  Just before the DJ’s interruption, he was cross-examining Mr Liew on why he had not clarified with the media the various reports that they had made about him.  Thus, when the DJ interrupted, it was in this context of a protracted line of questioning that was not directly relevant.”

It appears we have a judge who doesn’t understand marathon and hence may not be fit to judge matters concerning a marathon.  These are not casual marathoners but athletes competing at the highest levels where split times and strategic pacing are meticulously adhered to.  Marathoners would know 700 m and 2.5 min are key parameters to establishing the truth.

Ashley’s 2 hr 44 min 2 sec effort over the 42.195 km race translates to 2 min 43 sec over 700 m.  Thus according to Ashley’s own words, his so-called slow down pace of 2.5 min over 700 m is extremely close to his overall marathon pace of 2 min 43 sec over 700 m.  It proves that Ashley didn’t actually slow down at all or the amount of slow down was negligible or close to non-existent.

The only way to conclusively establish whether or not Ashley slowed down is to examine the timings and the distances.  If the judge cannot even understand this, then he or she is not fit to judge this case.  The judge cannot pretend that he or she can brush away the timings and distances and still be able to make a proper judgment in this case.

Don’t obfuscate Covid issue

May 24, 2021

I refer to the 24 May 2021 Today article “Covid-19: Don’t confuse debate on merits of FTAs such as Ceca with S’pore’s obligations to let in foreigners” by Mr Benjamin Joshua Ong, assistant professor of law, Singapore Management University.

Prof Ong claimed that “Some have sought to blame the spread of the B1617 strain of Covid-19 in Singapore on the arrival of persons from South Asian countries, including India.”

But when it came to commenting on this ‘blame’, he somehow linked it to “confusion over Singapore’s obligations under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca).”.

He went on to say “the rights of Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) to enter Singapore from anywhere in the world, including India, have nothing to do with Ceca or any other free-trade agreement (FTA)”

Prof Ong doesn’t seem to realise that his comments (don’t confuse Ceca with the rights of citizens and PRs returning to Singapore) doesn’t address the issue he raised (blaming the current Covid spread on arrivals from the Indian subcontinent).

If the issue is “people blame Indian arrivals for the current Covid spread”, then the follow up comment should be “people should or should not blame Indian arrivals for the current Covid spread because …”

On the other hand, if the follow up comment is “people who blame the current Covid spread on Indian arrivals should not link it to Ceca”, then the issue should have been “people who blame the current Covid spread on Indian arrivals have mistakenly linked it to Ceca”

In any debate, the moment the debater fails to address the issue raised by the opposite party, the debater automatically loses the argument. What is worse here is that Prof Ong failed to even address the issue raised by himself.

Such slipshod logic reflects poorly on Prof Ong and the Singapore Management University that he represents.

In this case, there are actually two separate issues:

1) People blaming Indian arrivals for the current Covid spread

2) Some who blame the current Covid spread on Indian arrivals have also attributed or linked it to Ceca

Prof Ong raised issue (1) but totally failed to address it as he went on to blabber about issue (2) pretending it addresses issue (1).

(1) Blaming Indian arrivals on current Covid spread

This was the original issue Prof Ong raised. From all the Whatsapp messages I received, none placed the blame squarely on Indian arrivals per say. Instead, all put blame on the government for not stopping arrivals from the Indian subcontinent until it was too late. It is therefore bewildering how Prof Ong came to conclude that people are primarily blaming Indian arrivals rather than blaming the government instead.

(2) Linking the blame of current Covid spread to Ceca

We can google “ceca virus” (restricted to the past month) to see how prevalent the link between the two separate issues is.

After scrawling through 5 pages of Google search results, only one instance of ceca and virus being linked together could be found in Singapore (https://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/threads/its-confirmed-we-have-the-most-voracious-indian-import-the-ceca-virus.6508793/)

Hence, the second issue of virus blame being linked to Ceca isn’t that prevalent after all.

Even so, it is not entirely unfair to link Ceca to the current Covid spread by visitors from the Indian subcontinent. Because of Ceca, we have more than our fair share of Indian workers compared to workers from other countries. This large number of Indian workers, PR or otherwise, meant that there were many of them here trying their best to get their relatives to come over. Many succeeded and brought the Indian variant of the Covid virus to us.

Herein lies the problem with Ceca or the over-reliance on one country for the supply of our workers. These countries can hold us to ransom and become a source of liability instead.

The lesson to be learnt here is that we must diversify the sources of our foreign workers so that we do not become beholden to any one foreigner nation to such an extent that an epidemic in that country can severely impact the economic development of our nation.

We must also build up an adequate pool of our own indigenous work force in every major field so that in times of crisis like now, we can still carry on on our own without exposing ourselves to unnecessary risks.

Issue is with short term visitors, not PRs or citizens

The biggest problem with Prof Ong’s comments is that it completely missed the big picture. The biggest contention people have isn’t with Prof Ong’s so-called Singapore citizens or permanent residents returning from the Indian subcontinent but with dependents of PRs coming here on short term visits.

Conclusion

Prof Ong’s comments lack substance and are not befitting of the work of an assistant professor of law in SMU.

Singapore anxiety seen through Kishore lens

May 22, 2021

I refer to the 22 May 2021 Straits Times opinion piece by Mr Kishore Mahbubani.

Singaporean identity

Mr Mahbubani says “I am still not sure what a Singaporean identity is” even though he says “I can always recognise a fellow member of the exclusive Singapore tribe, especially when we meet on foreign shores.”

So it is the same with people from other multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nations. They too can instinctively tell their fellow countrymen apart without necessarily being able to precisely pinpoint what criteria was used to make that distinction. But other nations aren’t as obsessed as our government with finding a definition for that unique national identity.

This unique Singapore government obsession with finding a national identity can be attributed to the fact that it is converting foreigners to citizens at a rate much higher than those in other nations. Whereas in other nations, multi-ethnicity and multi culturalism is moulded over centuries, ours is one where a single decade can make a vast difference in the population make up, not necessarily between races but within each race itself. The PRC converted Singaporean, especially if the PRC arrived as an adult, will always speak with an accent closer to a PRC than to, for lack of a better term, a native Chinese Singaporean. Similarly, recent immigrants from Northern India also have subtle yet fundamental differences from their more rooted Tamil cousins.

This is not to say that we reject immigration. Far from it. We have relatives, friends and colleagues who have proven to be wonderful individuals never mind they weren’t born or bred here. But some of these new immigrants are living proof that Mr Mahbubani’s so called easy recognition of a fellow Singaporean is becoming less and less true. Can Mr Mahbubani honestly say he can readily distinguish a new immigrant Singaporean sprouting heavily PRC accented English from another PRC in Beijing?

Chinese human development

Mr Mahbubani says “The Chinese people have experienced – in terms of human development – the best 40 years in 4,000 years of Chinese history” as though this isn’t true of other nations. Is today’s Tesla not better than the American car of 40 years ago? Is today’s Microsoft, Google, Apple not better than whatever America had 40 years ago? Is today’s Disney animation not better than Disney animations 40 years ago?

So there is nothing special about the statement that China has had its best years over the last 40 years. So too has many other nations because apart from the Dark Ages and periods of war and calamity, human civilisations all over the world have always moved forward in human development. So it wouldn’t be just the Chinese but also the Americans, Europeans and so on who will continue to experience greater human development in the next 40 years and beyond. To borrow the phrase from ACS, the best is yet to be.

European existential angst over African demographic explosion

Mr Mahbubani says “Europeans feel deep existential angst about the demographic explosion in Africa which will eventually spill over into Europe” but somehow doesn’t consider Singaporeans’ deep existential angst about the demographic explosion in India spilling over into Singapore. Selective argument is no argument at all.

Third World economic survival

Mr Mahbubani says “Billions of people in South Asia, Africa and Latin America have to deal daily with hard issues of physical or economic survival. Against this global backdrop, any interplanetary observer visiting earth would be puzzled that among the unhappiest people on our planet are Singaporeans.”

Mr Mahbubani should send this powerful message to our ministers and tell them there is no need to pursue growth at all costs. No need to worry about good GDP numbers. No need to worry about growth. No need for investments. No need for mass immigration to prop up numbers. Just let the numbers drop year after year. Never mind Singapore declines. All we have to do is look at the poor in South Asia (and ignore the wealthy Indian conglomerates) and the poor in Africa and Latin America and we will be contented and happy no matter how much Singapore falls as long as we remain better than the worst of the worst. Sinking to the level of Malaysia and Indonesia is happiness still because it is still happier than the sorry state of Africa or Latin America. That is Mahbubani logic.

Singapore cannot afford to close up

Mr Mahbubani says “We could have stopped travellers from South Asia earlier. But the hard truth is that there are trade-offs for Singapore closing up: we cannot be like Australia and New Zealand and cut ourselves off from the world. They can grow their own food. We can’t.”

Don’t be silly please, Mr Mahbubani. Does the request to stop travellers from South Asia equate to stopping food coming from all over the world? Why would stopping South Asian travellers stop rice from Thailand or salmon from Norway or milk from Australia or durians from Malaysia?

Mr Mahbubani also says “More importantly, our total trade is three times the size of our GNP. If we stop flows of trade through our port and airport, our economy would shrivel.”. But the same is true of Australia and New Zealand whose trade share of GDP stands at 46% and 56% respectively. If trade stops for Australia and New Zealand, they too would find their economy shrivel. As it is, China’s banning of Australian coal is already causing massive haemorrage to the Australian economy.

Singapore has formidable resources

Mr Mahbubani says “we also have formidable resources. Few governments in the world could have deployed $100 billion in one year to keep the economy going.”

The government’s blind administration of our precious $100 billion meant that much of it was money down the drain with little ending up in the hands of those who need it. Anecdotal evidences exist of companies repatriating government covid money overseas as profit from Singapore office. Anecdotal evidences also exist of company CEOs paying themselves millions in bonuses despite massive company losses during covid year. Since the company made massive losses, where did it find the millions to pay their CEOs other than government covid money?

Singapore Covid fatalities amongst the best

Mr Mahbubani says “Singapore is among the best: the percentage of fatalities of Covid-19 patients. Our number is 0.1 per cent, compared with …”

Mr Mahbubani is probably referring to fatality as a percentage of infected. But this number is highly flawed as it depends greatly on the testing rate. More vigorous testing reveals more infected cases which leads to a higher value for the denominator and a smaller percentage consequently. It is not an apple to apple comparison unless all nations are subjected to the same extent of testing.

Far better to compare fatality as a percentage of population which is relatively stable even for the many deaths in India. Referring to the John Hopkins data on fatality as fraction of 100,000 population (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality), we still find Singapore in a very good position but not No.1 as Mr Mahbubani’s flawed comparison suggests. Selected results shown below:

RankCountryDeaths / 100,000
1)Vietnam0.04
4)Taiwan0.06
6)China0.35
8)New Zealand0.53
9)Singapore0.56
21)Thailand1.06
40)Australia3.59
42)South Korea3.72
51)Malaysia6.73
61)Iceland8.03
65)Japan9.6

Does Japan languishing at position 65 with a death rate almost 20 times ours makes it look as though our medical system is 20 times as good as Japan’s?

Quite clearly, there is more than meets the eye. Japan’s population is much more aged than ours. Since covid fatality amongst the old is much higher than amongst the younger and stronger, the results are not meaningful unless adjusted for age.

Conclusion

Mr Mahbubani is back at his best writing nonsense fit only for printing on toilet paper.

Wah Khaw, Singapore as a society is not young at all

May 10, 2021

I refer to the 11 May 2021 Straits Times report “Khaw to be chairman of new SPH media entity”

Khaw Boon Wan reportedly said: “I cannot allow a Singapore institution to go into decline”

He also said: “We will refocus on our primary mission of providing quality journalism to help build this young nation”

Mr Khaw ought to know that some of the newspapers in SPH like Straits Times was founded in 1845 and is now 176 years old.

Many of the pillars in our society like trade, commerce, Tan Tock Seng, SGH, civil service, police force, our laws, schools like Raffles Institution were all founded in colonial times. The basic trappings of our nationhood were already clearly established during colonial years.

In other words, the Singapore society today, has already quite a long history since 1819. This often repeated phrase about us being a young nation is therefore irrelevant.

The Chinese communist nation today was founded in 1949 and is therefore quite as ‘young’ as us. But China never refers to itself as a young nation. The young age of China’s current nationhood doesn’t change the fact that it is a civilisation 5,000 year old.

In the same token, we should not view Singapore primarily as a young nation for this ‘young nation’ has had more than 200 years of continuous development since its founding in 1819 (except for 1942 to 1945)

S’pore’s race relations excellent since colonial times

April 22, 2021

I refer to the 22 Apr 2021 Straits Times report of Lawrence Wong’s speech “S’pore’s race relations – the unending effort to maintain a dynamic balance”.

Wong claim 1

Mr Wong said “Harmony in Singapore did not arise naturally between our different ethnic groups. Our founding leaders were determined to confront the dangers of communal strife and to forge a common culture as part of nation building”.

The two sentences, taken together, suggest that Singapore’s racial harmony was forged post independence and did not blossom naturally. That is not true. Many evidences [1] point to the contrary, that Singapore’s racial harmony has already blossomed during colonial times and if credit has to be given, should be given to the British system of justice and administration which we inherited post independence [1].

It is also erroneous to refer to LKY and colleagues as our founding leaders as 1965 wasn’t the founding of Singapore in any sense of the word [2].

Wong claim 2

Mr Wong quoted LKY saying “This is not a Malay nation; this is not a Chinese nation; this is not an Indian nation. Everyone will have his place, equal: language, culture, religion”

Having said that, Mr Wong went on to say “… we have … Malay as our national language, not Chinese”

Mr Wong can’t seem to see that he is contradicting himself. Having stated the equality between Malay and Chinese and Indian, why Malay as national language, not Chinese or Indian?

Clearly Malay as national language has nothing to do with equality but everything to do with LKY’s overriding concern back then to merge Singapore into Malaya and thus reduce us to Malaysian subjects speaking Malay as the national language [3], [4].

Wong claim 3

Mr Wong said “if you look at where we are today compared with say 50 years ago, we have made great progress … we are one of the few places where people of different races and faiths have been able to live peacefully and closely together for more than half a century”.

If Mr Wong were to choose another time frame and compare Singapore today with say Singapore [1] in 1935, 1937, 1940, 1946, 1951 and so on, he would find our progress to be much less impressive. Singapore’s racial harmony was never forged by PAP over 50 odd years but was born from colonial times. So no Mr Wong, Singaporeans of different races and faiths were already living peacefully and closely together during colonial times. They didn’t just do so for half a century only after independence.

Wong claim 4

Mr Wong said “Our harmonious balance today is achieved through many decades of hard work and relationship-building. There is nothing organic or natural about this.”

He then related his own personal story: “My mother and her family grew up in Singapore: they used to live in Kampong Amber – a Malay kampung. They were among the handful of Chinese families living there. They enjoyed excellent relations with their Malay neighbours …”

This is the clearest evidence yet of the fundamental contradiction between the main thrust of Mr Wong’s argument and the truth itself which he can’t deny.

While insisting that our racial harmony today is due to PAP’s 55 years of hardwork post independence, he has the cheek to also relate his own mother’s experience of living harmoniously in a Malay kampung pre-independence where racial relations were deemed excellent.

Isn’t Mr Wong’s mother’s personal experiences organic and natural and not brought about by any PAP government hard work?

Wong claim 5

Mr Wong said “But it is very easy for racial tensions to flare up, for people to get worked up, and for our ethnic relations to come under severe strain. We have seen this in many places around the world where arguments and debates over racial issues eventually lead to exclusion and division …”

Mr Wong need not have looked around the world, he just have to look at Singapore. Our 1964 racial riots was due largely to the racial politics played by LKY and Tungku Abdul Rahman on both sides of the Causeway [5].

Conclusion

The 4G leaders continue the PAP tradition of twisting our historical narrative to suit their political narrative. Singapore’s racial harmony during colonial times is whitewashed in order for that credit to be claimed for themselves.

References

[1] https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/singapore-racial-harmony-during-colonial-times/

[2] https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/lee-kuan-yew-is-not-singapores-founder-or-founding-leader/

[3]

The Party believes that not only must Malay education in this country be developed beyond primary level as soon as possible but that it should also enjoy undisputed priority over any other language as the compulsory second language to be taught in all schols be they English, Chinese or Indian Schools … instead of a free choice of a second or third language, we wanted to state categorically that Malay should and must be the pre-dominant language in this country.

This was in line with the Party’s long-term objective of merger with the Federation. Most of the Party’s pronouncements on education at about this time implied and attempt at being compatible with Malayan education policy as far as Singapore’s ethnic distribution would permit. The PAP actually had to accomodate the expectations of the Federation which had an education and language policy aimed at bringing all races under a national system of education in which the main medium of instruction would be the national language and Malay will have become the comprehensive means of expression and communication in all fields of national life.

The PAP was quite specific about its intentions vis a vis the Federation and education: An important pre-condition for such a merge is that our own education policy in Singapore should approximate, as closely as possible in essentials, with that of the Federation of Malaya.

Another statement of aims that made it obvious in which direction language policy lay was made in an article in The Tasks Ahead in which there was promised a move in the direction of bilingualism with Malay as the lingua franca and increased aid for Malay school students …

[Language and Society in Singapore, edited by Evangelos A. Afendras, Eddie C. Y. Kuo, page 208]

[4]

In the early 1960s, it decided to have four official languages (Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English) with Malay as the national language. Singapore’s future was viewed in the context of a merger with Malaya, and non-Malays were encouraged to learn Malay. The Malays were also given special recognition as idigenous peoples, mostly symbolic, in the Constitution.

[The Spirit of Cities: Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age, Daniel A. Bell, Avner de-Shalit, page 92]

[5] https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/lee-kuan-yew-contributed-to-racial-riots/

S’pore racial progress originated in colonial times

April 18, 2021

I refer to the 18 Apr 2021 Sunday Times report “S’pore has made much progress on race issues: Lawrence Wong”.

Mr Wong reportedly said “If you look around the world, I think we can say, hand on heart, that we are one of the few places where people of different races and faiths have lived peacefully and closely together for more than half a century”.

Mr Wong was probably referring to Singapore’s racial peace post independence. But Singapore’s racial peace predated our independence and originated in colonial times as documented here: https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/singapore-racial-harmony-during-colonial-times

Mr Wong reportedly said “In schools, children learn together and grow up together, identifying themselves first as Singaporeans”.

But a substantial number of Malay children don’t attend MOE schools but attend Madrasah schools. Madrasah children don’t learn and grow together with children of other religions.

Mr Wong recounted his parents’ first hand stories on the 1964 racial riots [1].

Mr Wong should make it clear to Singaporeans that the root cause of the 1964 racial riots was none other than the racial politics played by both Lee Kuan Yew and Tungku Abdul Rahman as documented here: https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/lee-kuan-yew-contributed-to-racial-riots/

To conclude, Singapore’s racial progress dates back to colonial times.  Our independence in 1965 meant the political separation of  Lee Kuan Yew from Tunku Abdul Rahman and an end to the racial politics played by these two gentlemen.  Singapore then simply reverted to the racial harmony it has had since colonial times.

[1]
His father was from China but grew up in Malaysia, and experienced racial tensions there before he came to Singapore.

His mother and her family grew up in Kampong Amber, a Malay kampung. They were among the few Chinese families living there.

They enjoyed excellent relations with their Malay neighbours, said Mr Wong, but when the 1964 race riots broke out, the situation became very tense and they decided to move out.

“Hearing these stories first-hand when I was growing up, I can appreciate how difficult it must have been for everyone during that period of racial strife.”

Underlying reasons for the US-China trade war

February 22, 2021

I refer to this excellent analysis of the underlying reasons for the US-China trade war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2R9p7sFd8M

Here are my thoughts:

Nazism, Japanese militarism, power concentration

The argument that US wasn’t against Germany or Japan in WWII but was against Nazism and Japanese militarism instead is kind of correct on the surface but explains nothing. To use those examples to assert that the US is primarily against power concentration also needs re-examination.

Even today, Thailand is effectively under military rule while power in Saudi Arabia is concentrated in the hands of the sultan and his family. Yet this doesn’t prevent Thailand and Saudi Arabia from becoming close US allies. Turkey is also close to the US even though it is an autocracy.

So no. Power concentration in and of itself is not something the US will go to war against.

Japanese militarism from the setting up of Manchukuo in 1934 to the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 saw US do nothing. Japanese militarism in and of itself wasn’t why the US went to war with Japan in WWII.

The US fought Germany in WWI when nazism wasn’t even born yet. To say that US was against German militarism in WWI would also be problematic given that British militarism was so much bigger than German militarism then. The US also did not intervene when Fascist Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935.

The fact that the US put in a lot of resources to help both Germany and Japan rebuild may have less to do with the US being not against Germany or Japan but because these former enemies are now very much needed as important frontline partners in the new Cold War against Soviet communism. It is also not as though these resources came free. Germany had to repay its war debts all the way till 2010.

Anti-Chinese intentions means carving up or swallowing up China during WWII

The argument that if US had anti-Chinese intentions, it would have either:

1) joined in Japan’s 1937 attack on China and carved China out between Japan and itself or

2) swallowed up China near the end of WWII when Japan was on the brink of total defeat

is also problematic.

European nations carved out Africa and the developing world amongst themselves not because they were against them but because they wanted to exploit them. Similarly, Japan invaded China not because it was against China but because it wanted to exploit China.

US anti-communist by nature

The US-Bolshevik clash at the end of WWI was very limited in scope and did not snowball into anything significant. If anything, it merely serves to explain why despite US anti-communism, US-CCP antagonism wouldn’t amount to much.

Conclusion

The video’s fundamental conclusion – that US-China trade war is primarily US fight against CCP rather than US fight against an up and coming threat is problematic.

Although US is fundamentally against absolutism, absolutism in and of itself is not sufficient for the US to go to war. US allies like Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are ruled by absolutism or near absolutism. Hence, CCP’s absolutism in and of itself is not the issue.

There is some merit in saying that the US is fighting an up and coming threat. But that also may not be the primary reason. President Obama never had any issues with CCP even though CCP’s supposed land reclamation threat in the South China sea began under his watch.

US-China clash only began with president Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a businessman. He looks at dollars and cents. He is interested in making money for the US and that simply could be the most important reason for the US-China trade war. To create jobs and improve the economy for the US.

CCP exterminating all religions in China

The notion that the CCP is exterminating all religions in China is problematic. There are strong elements of taoist and buddhist religions in Chinese culture embraced by the 92% or 1.4 billion Chinese in mainland China. To say that the CCP is exterminating the religions of these 1.4 billion Chinese is quite hard to believe. It is better to say that CCP is exterminating all non-mainstream religions in China. That is more believable.

PM Lee vs Online Citizen Terry Xu

December 3, 2020

carte blanche

I refer to the 1 Dec 2020 Straits Times report “Not suing siblings does not mean carte blanche to defame me: PM”

PM Lee stated not suing his siblings did not mean “carte blanche” for anyone to use what they had said to defame him.

But without actually suing his siblings, does it not give the impression to the ordinary man on the street with no legal training that PM Lee’s siblings’ statements are reasonable, non-defamatory and non-suable?

PM Lee should not deny that to continue life without suing his siblings is tantamount to acknowledging that these statements, even if indeed defamatory, did not pose such grievous harm as to disable the continued good work of his premiership. In other words, the purported defamatory words caused no serious harm whatsover to his good name.

override Cabinet

I refer to the 2 Dec 2020 Straits Times report “No freedom of action to override Cabinet: PM Lee”

PM Lee said “As the prime minister, I have to put aside my family considerations ..”

PM Lee’s refusal to sue his siblings exactly disproves his own statement that he would put aside family considerations.

PM Lee said overriding the ministers based on his father’s wishes would be going against that oath and doing wrong by Singapore.

It’s bewildering to think that his ministers were hell bent on keeping Oxley Road against PM Lee’s wishes rather than in accordance to PM Lee’s wishes. The ministers have no relations, no business, no interests, no benefits whatsover in regards to Oxley Road. As such, any ordinary person would be inclined to think that the ministers couldn’t care less about Oxley Road. The only person with direct vested interests in Oxley road should be none other than PM Lee.

gazetting

I refer to the 2 Jan 2020 Straits Times article “Issue not about gazetting, but profiting from redevelopment”

PM Lee said “in the face of public demand that it be preserved and kept as a heritage site”

It is utterly other worldly for PM Lee to suggest that he has consideration for public demand. Many years ago, he pushed for casinos and got them despite public demand otherwise. He pushed for 30% water price hike despite public demand otherwise

Furthermore, there is an equally sizeable if not larger public demand to follow LKY’s wishes to have Oxley Road demolished. Why didn’t PM Lee consider this other segment of public demand instead?

keep his word

I refer to the 3 Dec Straits Times article “TOC’s Xu says he didn’t believe PM would keep to his word”

My Singh was wrong to assume that Terry Xu’s standing firm despite receiving an intimidating letter from PM Lee’s office automatically implies he was far from being intimidated. Bravery isn’t the absence of fear or intimidation but the overcoming of that fear or intimidation to come out strong. Thus in this case, it could also mean that Terry Xu overcame the fear and intimidation to stand steadfast instead. Thus, Mr Singh failed to prove what Terry explained in court were lies.

Even Justice Audrey Lim joined in the same silly line of questioning whether Terry Xu would only act upon a lawyer’s letter.

Several years ago when Roy Ngerng was served a lawyer’s letter, he panicked and admitted guilt. Had he known the penalty would still be as heavy, he might not have admitted guilt and put up a fight instead. With that precedent, Terry Xu’s actions should be perfectly understandable to Justice Audrey and Mr Singh that needed no questioning from either of them.

poison

I refer to the 3 Dec Straits Times article “Editor dipped pen in poison to attack PM Lee, says lawyer”

Justice Audrey Lim reportedly joined in the questioning of Terry Xu when she asked him where the irony is of Ho Ching’s post. One can’t help but feel there were two, not one lawyer cross examiming Terry. One would expect the judge to remain neutral at all times and not join in the attack on the defendent.

In any case, it is perfectly normal for one person to feel ironic about something but not another person.

Good man in the dock

October 8, 2020

I refer to the 7 Oct Straits Times report “PM Lee’s libel suit against Leong Sze Hian: Lawyer Lim Tean questions independence, credibility of expert who says fake news spreads faster” (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/pm-lees-libel-suit-lim-tean-questions-independence-credibility-of-expert-who-says)

Dr Phan Tuan Quang estimated that Mr Leong’s post would have appeared on 11,749 Facebook news feeds and that at the very minimum, about 200 to 400 Singaporeans would have clicked on the link to the article in the post.

Dr Phan’s evidence proves that Mr Leong’s shared post hardly put a dent to PM Lee’s reputation.

Since the alleged fake news relates to both Malaysian and Singaporean politicians, the 11,749 news feed appearances ought to have spanned across both Malysian and Singaporean facebook users.

Since Malaysian population is 6 times that of Singapore’s, potentially only 1 out of 7 of the figures provided by Dr Phan is applicable to Singapore.

It is understandable if PM Lee says his reputation is important in relation to the people that he governs.  It would be frivolous for him to also say that his reputation is also important in relation to Malaysians.  Malaysians don’t give a damn about PM Lee.

So 11,749 divided by 7 works out to be 1,678 Singaporean Facebook news feed appearances.

More importantly, when we divide 1,678 Singaporean Facebook news feed appearances by Singapore’s 5.7 million population, we arrive at 0.03% news reach which is quite infinitesimal indeed.

Similarly, the average 300 Singaporean Facebook clicks is only 0.007% of Singapore’s population, even more infinitesimal.

People look for certain information

Dr Phan further said “It’s been well studied that people who follow certain characters or personalities on social media are looking for certain information”.

Thus, Dr Phan gave further proof that Mr Leong’s post did little or no damage to PM Lee’s reputation.

What Dr Phan was effectively saying is this: People who have little regard for PM Lee to begin with were the ones who actively looked for this sort of fake news.  In other words, their disregard for PM Lee, was already a precondition, not a result of the fake news.  In the same token, those who have high regard for PM Lee, would not have bothered with such fake news or would simply have ignored it, hence the fake news would not have lessened their high regard for PM Lee.

Not independent

Dr Phan’s remark that academics commonly work with government bodies to do unbiased research doesn’t prove or show that such unbiased work in the first instance, wouldn’t eventually lead to a closer relationship that may, even if it is just a little, shape the specific evidences he has chosen to give.  To say otherwise would be to say that the plaintiff’s witness is standing apart from the plaintiff and bears no desire whatsoever to lend the plaintiff a helping hand.  This would be rather counterintuitive.

Mr Singh

Mr Singh claimed that PM Lee was unafraid to answer any questions and was ready to defend himself in court.  If PM Lee is indeed brave, would he dare submit himself and this entire case to the judicial process of any Western society?  Would Mr Singh also put his good name on the line to defend PM Lee in such a frivolous case in any Western court?

Mr Singh’s characterisation of Mr Leong as having turned and fled is akin to hitting someone under the belt.  It takes a person as tall and righteous as Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew, Poh Soo Kai and Zaid Zahari to stand tall and not flee.  There is nothing in Mr Singh’s resume that says he would not similarly flee with his tail between his legs if faced with the same situation.

Post election 2020 comments

July 15, 2020

There are many news reports attempting to explain the mere 10% PAP vote shift. No one looks the other way and asks, how come after all these national issues, the other 60% did not shift?

The bigger elephant in the room is the 60% for whom the PAP can do no evil and can always get away with murder. PAP’s multiple screw ups would have seen them lose power in any Western democracy. Yet, PAP not only retained power but continued to hold on to a super majority. The danger for Singapore is that the 60% will continue to vote for PAP all the way to Singapore’s utter ruin.

‘Silent majority’

In the lead up to the elections, a video was circulated of someone claiming to be the silent majority who has finally spoken up. To identify with the silent majority is to admit he has always been a PAP voter but is fed up this time. He is the perfect example of why the term silent majority is an over simplification of PAP voters.

The 10% vote swing suggests that only 10% of the silent majority aren’t blindly aligned with PAP or are capable of breaking free when a genuine need arises.

Limited reach of internet

The continued support of 60% of voters for PAP can be attributed in part to the limited reach of the Internet.

Straits Times dubbed this year as our first true internet election. Yet, opposition parties like People’s Voice that relied heavily on the internet did not see big results materialise for them. People’s Voice only polled 21.26% compared to similarly new or small parties like Reform Party 27.84%, SDA 23.67%, Red Dot United 25.38%, People’s Power 28.26% that did not go into the Internet in a very big way.

There are several reasons why the internet’s reach has its limits:

1) Many old folks aren’t connected to the internet

There is a general impression that younger voters have given more support to the opposition this time. Part of the reason is that our old folks have no access to the internet and so can’t avail themselves to so many good alternative arguments that exist on the internet.

For this group, there is no other way than walking the ground since PAP controls all mainstream media.

2) Too many videos and articles on the internet, competition for viewership is very intense

With so many alternate videos competing for attention, it is important for videos to be short and concise, perhaps no longer than 5 minutes. Opposition should only focus on at most 3 of the most important issues to discuss each day. If each issue requires 5 minutes to be of substance, then make 3 separate videos of 5 minutes each with links between videos.

3)Little overlap in personal relationships between the 60% and the 40%

There is a large group of Singaporeans who are comfortable with their lives and who are not personally affected by the issues going on around them. They are largely apolitical and apathetic. They won’t be scouring the internet to devour the latest videos on current social issues.

Quite often for these people, the only reason why they watch this video or that is because the links were sent to them via Whatsapp. But Whatsapp is between friends and close associates. If the overlap in personal relationships between the 60% and the 40% isn’t significant, then arguments from either side can’t flow to the other side. So the bulk of the 60% will predominantly receive PAP endorsed videos and arguments that reinforce their pre-existing viewpoints and vice versa.

If that is the situation, then again, no choice, the opposition has to walk the ground, knock door to door and sell their ideas one household at a time. They have 5 years to do so and will need 5 years to cover sufficient ground. One problem is that they can’t go into a condominium to sell ideas door to door.

Strong support for PAP amongst new citizens

It is no secret that new citizens is a big reason why PAP continues to hold a super majority. Opposition has to come up with very sensible reasons to convert these new citizens. For example, perhaps new citizens converted to Singapore citizenship to escape the social ills of say India. So we ask them back, if we keep importing Indians into Singapore, wouldn’t Singapore effectively become another India? What is the point of escaping India only to end up in another India disguised as Singapore?

Opposition quality

It is quite obvious that outstanding opposition candidates have a real chance of winning. In 2011, Chen Show Mao’s sterling academic credentials helped WP win Aljunied. This time, Jamus’ outstanding qualifications + oratorical skills helped WP win Seng Kang.

Opposition parties must set the benchmark really high for its candidates. No point fielding ordinary candidates only to discredit themselves. Personally, I support fielding candidates from all walks of life. No one should be discriminated against contesting in elections just because he or she is lowly educated or is of low income. But the sad reality is that our electorate doesn’t think highly of lowly educated candidates.

Opposition disunity

There isn’t sufficient ‘good quality’ opposition candidates to contest all constituencies in Singapore. Opposition parties should unite and field the best possible teams.

If Chee Soon Juan or Paul Tambyah had joined Tan Cheng Bock in Ayer Rajah, Dr Chee might be in parliament already as an NCMP.

The Live TV debate involves at most 3 opposition parties. I believe being on Live TV debate helped showcase the quality of opposition candidates in a way that no other platforms can. Because this important advantage is restricted to just 3 opposition parties, it is of little use to be the 4th or 5th largest opposition party.

Opposition parties should unite and come under three but preferably just two banners: WP or PSP

Conclusion

Strong internet presence alone is insufficient. It is no substitute for walking the ground.

There is an urgent need and an uphill battle to convert new citizens

There should be no more than 2 or 3 opposition parties

A final note: In Singapore, nearly everything we do requires a license. We need a license to drive. We even need a license in the form of the Basic Theory Test to learn to drive. We need a license in the form of the Basic Food Hygiene Course to become a hawker. One of the few things we don’t need a license for is voting.

If we design a rigorous test, not by PAP, on the the social, political and economic issues confronting Singapore today, how many percent will pass?

My guess is, approximately 60% will fail. That I think is the fundamental issue that not only afflicts Singapore but all First World nations as well. At least other First World nations have a free press to educate the electorate but we don’t.