Archive for April, 2014

Avoid wrong label of ‘anti-foreigner’

April 30, 2014

I refer to the 25 Apr 2014 Straits Times letter “avoid anti-foreigner route” by Elgar Lee.

Mr Lee uses the online backlash against the Philippine Independence Day event as warning against anti-foreigner sentiments. Mr Lee is mistaken; the online backlash isn’t anti-foreigner but pro-Singapore sovereignty. Speaking up for our country’s sovereignty should not be begrudged as being anti-foreigner but should be encouraged as being patriotic instead.

Mr Lee claims that the frustration with the influx of immigrants is worsened by the coincidental strain on infrastructure, inflation and rising income inequality. Mr Lee might want to add the coincidental incompetence and failure of our government to use common sense (not foresight) to plan for the influx and their coincidental blame on the lack of 20-20 vision despite the coincidental warning by the people about problems with housing, inflation and rising income for as long as these problems have existed but who have been coincidentally brushed aside as champion gripers, grumblers and cow peh cow booers.

Mr Lee insists that Singaporeans accept his philosophy that without immigrant contributions, Singapore the city state would not survive this globalised economy and claims that every country that has experienced backlash against immigrants has declined. Singapore was forced to embrace the global economy in 1965 when it was separated from its Malaysian hinterland. Yet, between 1965 and 1980, Singapore imposed the strictest immigration control ever while our economy continued to grow steadily. The notion that Singapore would not survive the global economy without immigration is simply hogwash. European economies like Switzerland and Germany have experienced immigration backlash without experiencing economic decline.

Mr Lee is right on one thing, blaming immigrants is not the answer to our problems, blaming the government is.

A declining birthrate may be worsened by massive immigration causing living conditions to deteriorate even further and encouraging even more Singaporeans to quit Singapore.

Singaporeans not racist in opposing pinoy I-Day

April 29, 2014

I refer to the 23 Apr 2014 TR Emeritus article “Opposing pinoy I-Day event isn’t xenophobic, it’s racist!” by Susu Besar.

Mr Besar used the examples of the public celebration of Mexican National Day in US, Italian flags supposedly flown ‘everywhere’ in New York’s Little Italy and the public display of the Taiwan KMT flag in New York to justify the public celebration of the Philippines Independence Day in Singapore.

The following are examples of Mexican National Day celebrations around the world:
• 2006, Jamaica New Kingston Knutsford Boulevard, Hilton Kingston Hotel
• 2008, Vietnam Hanoi, Melia Hotel
• 2008, Indonesia Jakarta, Four Seasons Hotel
• 2011, New Zealand Wellington, Te Papa Museum
• 2011, India, Hotel Lalit
• 2011, South Africa Pretoria, Embassy of Mexico in South Africa
• 2011, Indonesia Jakarta, Pacific Restaurant & Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton
• 2012, Indonesia Jakarta, Mutiara Ballroom Gran Melia
• 2012, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, Renaissance Hotel
• 2013, Ireland Dublin, Clade Court Hotel
• 2013, Kenya, Zapata Restaurant

Not one of them was held in public. Can Mr Besar explain why Singaporeans should adhere to his one and only example of public celebration but not countless other examples of celebration in private? The fact remains that most national day celebrations in foreign lands are held in private, not in public.

There are so many Little Italies around the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Italy), has Mr Besar been to all of them? Does one Little Italy having Italian flags ‘everywhere’ (even if it is true), means all Little Italies must have Italian flags ‘everywhere’? Does Mr Besar also recommend having Indian flags flown ‘everywhere’ in our Little India, Chinese flags in Chinatown, Arab flags in Arab Street, Dutch flags in Holland Village and so on?

Is Mr Besar also recommending that the Taiwan KMT flag be flown in Singapore? How about the American Democratic and Republican flags or the Malaysian UMNO flag? Nobody gives a damn about Taiwan KMT flag in America so nobody should give a damn about Taiwan KMT flag in Singapore? But a Taiwan KMT flag in Singapore contravenes the Singapore law. So how not to give a damn?

Mr Besar also accused Singaporeans of being racist because we didn’t make noise when the Irish celebrate St Patrick’s Day at Clarke Quay or when the French celebrate Diner En Blanc (in public) or when the Japanese celebrate their Emperor’s birthday at Orchard but we make noise when Filipinos want to celebrate at Orchard.

Diner En Blanc may have been started by a French 25 years ago but it is certainly not a celebration of French independence or sovereignty. It is a celebration in white, not a celebration in red, white and blue.

The following are the locations of the celebrations of the Japanese Emperor’s birthday by the Embassy of Japan in Singapore:
• 2007, The Fullerton Hotel
• 2011, 78th birthday, The Fullerton Hotel
• 2013, 80th birthday, The Fullerton Hotel

Unless Mr Besar has evidence to the contrary, based on the three examples above (would have listed more if I could find more), the Japanese do not celebrate their Emperor’s birthday in public in Singapore.

Finally, the Irish St Patrick’s Day is a celebration of St Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland. It is a celebration of Irish Christianity, not a celebration of Irish nationality or independence. Nevertheless, there are two photographs showing the Irish flag being displayed in public during St Patrick’s Day celebration in Singapore:

Irish flag 2

https://www.facebook.com/stpatsdaySG/photos/a.419490098137863.101011.416788055074734/592867130800158/?type=1&theater

Irish flag 1

http://blog.dk.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/IMG_0227.jpg

Going by the letter of the Singapore law, these should amount to infringements on our sovereignty. Nevertheless, our minister has the power to waive such transgresses so you wonder why have a law that upholds our sovereignty yet include a provision to waive its use?

S’poreans not uptight but upright about Pinoy I-Day event

April 28, 2014

I refer to the 21 Apr 2014 TR article “Pinoy I-Day event: Why are S’poreans so uptight?” by Mr Be Happy.

Mr Happy posted a video of the 115th Philippine Independence Day celebration in Hong Kong last year to show the broadmindedness of the Hong Kong people and to shame and to disgrace Singaporeans.

The video clearly shows several Philippine flags raised and a march past by people wearing military uniform. All these are to be expected of an Independence Day celebration. However, the raising of the Philippine flag in public contravenes Singapore’s National Emblems (Control of Display) Act Chapter 196 which states that:

• No person shall display in public or at or within any school any national emblem.

• An emblem shall be deemed to be displayed in public if it is displayed in any road, street, bridge, passage, footway or place over which the public or any class of the public has a right of way or to which the public has access, whether on payment or otherwise, or if it is displayed in such manner as to be visible from any such road, street, bridge, passage, footway or place by any member of the public using the same or being therein.

Nevertheless, the act provides for the following exceptions:

• any person duly accredited as a diplomatic representative of a foreign power or as a consular representative of a foreign power to Singapore to whom an exequatur or provisional or other authorisation has been granted by the Government

• any person in the service of a Commonwealth Government or the government of any British dependency or possession or of the Republic of Ireland and officially recognised as representing that government in Singapore

• any person upon whom the immunities and privileges referred to in Part II or Part III of the Schedule to the International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) Act (Cap. 145) have been conferred under that Act

• the display of any national emblem on any ship or aircraft.

If the organizers are neither diplomats nor representatives of Commonwealth governments nor granted international immunities, they would necessarily contravene the Singapore law with any such activity. The law clearly serves to uphold Singapore sovereignty in our own land. To contravene this law is to disregard Singapore sovereignty. Singaporeans are not being uptight but upright in pushing to uphold our sovereignty.

Nevertheless, the act also provides for the following exemptions:

• The Minister may, by order published in the Gazette or by a permit in writing, exempt from section 3 the display of any national emblem specified in the order or permit, and that order or permit may regulate the manner of that display and the period during which that display may be permitted.

The government can thus legalise this celebration with or without the blessings of Singaporeans. It can override laws guaranteeing our sovereignty and institute a level of sovereignty lower than desired by Singaporeans.

Finally, Hong Kong doesn’t possess its own sovereignty whereas Singapore does. Hong Kong doesn’t own itself, Hong Kong is owned by China. Singapore used to be owned by Britain and then Malaysia. But now Singapore owns itself. That is an important distinction Mr Happy should be aware of.

Economic growth itself has many ways

April 23, 2014

I refer to the 23 Apr 2014 Straits Times letter “economic growth is the only way forward” by Dr George Wong Seow Choon.

Dr Wong claims that since we have no natural resources, our growth has to depend entirely on manpower. But almost all First World nations have little or no natural resources, why is their growth so different from ours? If they can grow their economies with their existing people, why can’t we? Is it because the leadership of this country is incapable of leading the country’s growth through innovation and creativity that it must resort to importing large numbers of foreign labour instead? What is so rocket science about mass import of foreign labour? It makes no sense paying top dollar to PAP for what any Tom, Dick or Harry can do.

Dr Wong claims we need more money for better public transport, infrastructure and housing. But we have more money. We generate millions and billions of surpluses almost every year and that does not include the high prices people pay for their HDB flats because those are hidden on paper behind high cost of land, land that has been acquired for as low as $1 per square foot.

Dr Wong warns Singaporeans against bankrupting the nation to help the disadvantaged as though paying millions for ministerial salaries, foreign student scholarships, hosting F1, up keeping Gardens by the Bay wont bankrupt the nation but helping the disadvantaged would.

Dr Wong stresses the need for our children to study hard to keep one step ahead of others but so what if children study hard, achieve good grades only to be replaced by foreigners with not so good grades?

Dr Wong emphasizes again that we have no natural resources and that we are also a little red dot and so we must work hard. But what is so hard work about mass importing labour? Just open the gates only right? Don’t even have to do anything to prepare for the incoming horde until people complain and when people complain just shoot them down as gripers, problem solved. Surely Dr Wong’s call for hard work applies to the government as it does to the people? Why is the government allowed to take the easy way while the people have to suffer the consequences of the government taking the easy way?

Dr Wong emphasizes that the only direction is towards growth. We’ve heard that many times. What we seldom hear from people like Dr Wong is how? Grow quality or grow quantity? If all that Dr Wong knows is grow quantity, then Dr Wong is as hopeless as the government is now.

Dr Wong claims that he belongs to the pioneer generation who tightened their belts and united behind LKY’s “no free lunch” mantra. Dr Wong must not forget that behind him are pioneers of pioneers who were the true pioneers that literally carved a city out of a jungle. Even though there was “no free lunch” during Dr Wong’s time, lunch then was relatively much cheaper than it is today.

If Dr Wong truly yearns for future generations to enjoy better lives, then he must not whitewash the problems that plague the present generation, problems that will continue to be exacerbated unless we face the truth squarely and not accommodate wrong doings through false arguments.

Fairness wrongly questioned

April 23, 2014

I refer to the 18 Apr 2014 Straits Times letter “a question of fairness” by Mr Jeffrey Law.

Mr Law claims that xenophobia has reared its ugly head when Singaporeans condemn the public celebration of the Philippines’ Independence. It is Mr Law who is mistaken; there is nothing xenophobic about the protection of Singapore’s sovereignty which is the sacred right and duty of every Singaporean including Mr Law. To absolve oneself of such duty and to denigrate it as being xenophobic is to display the utmost disrespect and betrayal to our nation and to Singaporeans.

We have a law that forbids flags of other nations from being flown in Singapore except in Embassies and the like. The reason is simple, the flag symbolizes sovereignty and the right to raise the flags of other nations symbolizes the sovereignty of other nations which correspondingly reduces the sovereignty of our own nation. The celebration of Independence Day cannot be anything but the celebration of a nation’s sovereignty. So the public celebration of a nation’s independence is the public celebration of a nation’s sovereignty which is like the flying of a nation’s flag in public. Unless Ngee Ann City has suddenly become the Philippines Embassy, allowing the public celebration of the Philippines National Day at Ngee Ann City is akin to recognizing Philippines sovereignty on Singapore soil. That would be the utmost betrayal to our nation.

The fact that we live in a cosmopolitan city doesn’t make us less of a country and doesn’t mean we should be accommodating to the point of giving up our sovereignty. Good ties with the Philippines cannot be founded upon us giving up our sovereignty to them.

Overseas Singaporeans are at liberty to celebrate National Day in private or at the Singapore Embassy but not in public. The Singapore Day is clearly not the Singapore National Day and its significance is nowhere near. Its purpose is to simply engage overseas Singaporeans and throughout its seven years of being held, was never held on National Day.

While we expect to be welcomed in other countries, we don’t expect to impose Singaporean sovereignty in other countries.

I refer too to the 18 Apr 2014 Straits Times letter “puzzling protest” by Ms Tan Say Yin.

Ms Tan’s puzzlement and questions over Singaporeans’ protest of the Philippines Independence Day on Orchard Road belies her lack of understanding of what it means to be patriotic. If Singaporeans had gathered in the thousands to sing Majulah Singapura on 9 August in front of Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka Square, what message would we be sending to our Malaysian neighbours? While we should be grateful to foreign workers whom we depend on to do the work that we would not do, the balance is lost when we allow our sovereignty to be compromised.

Inaccurate police force to resident ratio

April 8, 2014

I refer to the 26 Mar 2014 Straits Times report “1,000 more cops needed to boost police force: Police chief” [1].

The report stated that Singapore currently has 163 police officers for every 100,000 residents based on 8,784 police officers and a population of 5,400,000. This statistics is wrong because it excludes the 3,700 full time national service policemen who bear the exact same firearm and equipment as regular police officers and perform the exact same job for the same rank. Just as the Singapore armed forces strength includes national service soldiers, similarly the Singapore police force strength should also include national service policemen.

If full time national service policemen are included, our ratio becomes 231 police officers for every 100,000 residents instead. That will make the police commissioner Mr Ng Joo Hee’s statement that comparable cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and London typically operate with two or three times more police officers per resident than Singapore does inaccurate. The correct ratio should be 1.4 to 1.8 times.

[1] Straits Times, 1,000 more cops needed to boost police force: Police chief, 26 Mar 2014

Police strength per 100k population Singapore

TO BEEF up the anti-riot capability of the police while keeping Singapore safe, Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee wants to recruit 1,000 more officers.

The police chief made this passionate plea at the end of his testimony yesterday before the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Dec 8 riot.

The extra manpower will let him raise an additional tactical troop specialised in tackling riots and police hot spots, and increase the number of officers who patrol the streets and neighbourhoods. It would also allow the police to train its front-line officers better.

The COI, led by retired judge G. Pannir Selvam, had over the course of the public hearing, questioned why police patrolmen were not adequately trained to deal with the unrest.

The 47-year-old – who was testifying at the COI for the first time since it was convened – said that a move to train officers to deal with the “initial moments” of a riot more effectively is now being considered. But that will involve “large and persistent investments in manpower and in training”.

Already, front-line officers work a four-shift system lasting 12 hours each, leaving them with very little time for training of any sort. That is why Mr Ng feels that training these officers to fight riots under the current shift system is “quite impossible”.

“If we were a football team, we would be a team that spends most of our time playing matches and very little time training,” he said.

“And in my view, that is quite incredible and not a desirable situation… I think we have to rethink the system and we have to certainly get more resources if we want to do that.”

A key reason for the manpower crunch in the force, added Mr Ng, is because its ranks have not kept pace with Singapore’s population growth over the years.

In 1994, there were 222 officers for every 100,000 residents here. Now there are 163.

This also affects the size of anti-riot squads, better known as Police Tactical Troops (PTT) under the Special Operations Command.

The first time these specialised units were restructured was in 1983, when 12 troops of 63 men were cut to just eight troops, each with 46 men. In 2004, the number per troop was cut to 35.

As of last December, the Singapore Police Force has just under 8,800 regular officers, supported by about 3,700 full-time national servicemen and 2,000 volunteer policemen.

“If you look at cities of comparable sizes like Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London, you will find that they typically operate with two or three times more police officers than we do per resident in Singapore,” said Mr Ng.

“So there is some truth in the common refrain that one hardly comes across police officers on the streets of Singapore. But at the same time, we are able to deliver safety from crime that is still the envy of the world.”

Mr Ng told the COI that the way to “increase police robustness before the next disturbance comes around is to build up rather than to cut down on our contingency forces.

“My intention, if I have the resources, is to raise an additional PTT to be on standby at any one time. If we are able to do this, we can increase our rioting fighting capability by 50 per cent and create the ability to bring a far larger force to bear to an incident.”

In addition to augmenting the PTT, Mr Ng said it is critical to project a stronger police presence in areas where there is a congregation of foreign workers and that “pose a clear and present danger to public order”, aside from Little India. “Today, despite the riot in Little India, I worry more for Geylang,” he said. “If Singaporeans are irked by the littering, the noise and the jaywalking in Little India, they’ll certainly and quickly sense that there exists a hint of lawlessness in Geylang.”

A deployment of 300 pairs of boots on the ground should bring noticeable police visibility to both locations, added Mr Ng. But efforts to maintain law and order in Geylang and Little India have “already stretched police resources to near breaking point”.

“My planners tell me that police presence is defined as a police patrol passing a point once every 15 to 20 minutes… This is a useful benchmark, but one which we cannot come close to achieving in either Little India or Geylang on present levels of resourcing.”