Sunday, October 07, 2018

Silly hope that ST will not be like China Daily, Pravda or KCNA.

Yesterday was the last time I will be reading from a subscribed Singapore newspaper.

No right thinking person will read the China Daily expecting anything other than partial news that support the official line of the Chinese government. Ditto for Pravda ( Russian Federation) or KCNA ( North Korea).

The only reason we will feel angry when our only English newspaper appears biased and partisan towards the government ( which incidentally owns it in a not too complex shareholding structure) is that deep down somewhere in our hearts ( or brains) is that we thought that somehow the Journalists could be allowed to act and write as professional fair-minded Singaporeans (or maybe PRs).

I ( now I am getting personal) thought, naively now its clear, that the senior people that run the Straits Times ( now I have named the paper) have a conscience to do what is right for us. That they cannot be so blatantly biased or else I and others will get disgusted and not read their paper anymore. Well I was wrong and they were right.

They could and were and will be blatant and yet people like me , till yesterday, would buy and read with a glimmer of hope that is totally unwarranted. Hope that they will do the right thing. It wont happen anytime soon.

I have unsubscribed to the Straits Times. In investment terms we call this “cutting loss”.

Writing to the Forum Page ( and why I write) is also a rather unusual thought process. That is the subject of another post.

We live in difficult but exciting times.

Best wishes

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Referendum for 377A repeal

Dear Friends,

We are told that repeal of Section 377A of the Penal code has the potential to divide Singapore and split us into 2 irreconcilable camps.

However keeping it unchanged is deemed a violation of the rights of a not insignificant percentage of Singaporeans. Repealing it, unfortunately, would offend conservative citizens who claim guidance from their ancient scriptures.

It was not too long ago when women could not vote and humans of colour had to make themselves invisible and use separate toilets, buses and their children attend inferior schools all in the name of these same conservative values.

These societal crossroads are now in the distant past.

And yet we are told and many believe that Singaporeans are mainly conservative and demand that the 377A remains on the legal statutes.

Is this even true? Has there been any real poll to confirm this?

Or is this potentially fake news?

There is one simple way to know if Singaporeans want to retain 377A as it is.

I suggest that the Singapore government carries out a referendum or plebiscite to  decide what Singaporeans want to do about 377A. This should be a non-binding vote carried out according to similar rules familiar to the Department of Elections ( eg compulsory etc) .

If the vote for pro-repeal wins or is close eg less than 10% difference then Parliament would be deemed to have the moral duty to do more than sit on its hands ( and tweedle its thumbs) and should start work on amending or repealing 377A.

However, it the vote is decisively  for retention, then the repeal camp must agree not to have any referendum till at least 10 years later. This allows the government of the day to carry out its mandate for the majority without upsetting the status quo..

If the government is not ready to take this risk, then a respectable NGO, or even the Workers’ Party ( which has been neutral on this) can take up the mettle on Singapore’s behalf.

I know there will some who argue against this as an example of “Ruling by Referendum” but don’t Singaporeans want to know how middle Singapore feels about this? I sure do!

Best wishes

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Amended letter published in Straits Times Forum

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Is this what Mediocrity looks like?

Dear friends,

The recent debate about Minister’s pay and mediocrity ( ref GCT speech  has made me realise that our present social political system, if not tweaked, could have drastic consequences.

1.About National Day songs
We have not had any new songs for our National Day celebrations for the longest time. The songs of old like Dick Lee’s “Home” or Hugh Harrison's  “Stand up for Singapore" were memorable and iconic but why are new songs from new songwriters deemed not deserving of an airing on the national stage on our National Days? Is there a defeatist attitude by the organising committee who is  afraid that any new songs will not stand up to public scrutiny. When will this change?

2.About Microsoft and competition
Does anyone remember when Microsoft was a near monopoly and regulators were trying to make the playing field fairer? I was amongst many who were saying that  “Microsoft Office Suite” was already so good and affordable, why should we not it monopoly power? But after the regulators had done their jobs we were pleasantly surprised with a plethora of applications and software  eg Linux Open Office / Google etc, which were more innovative providing better communications for all.

3.About Grab and free market
If our regulators eg LTA was short sighted and disallowed “Grab” from entering the market, we would still be complaining about misbehaving taxi drivers instead of enjoying benefits of private rental cars . Of course, not everything is easy to control eg bicycle rental schemes. Frequent tweakings are often needed.

4. About Salaries and motivation
Has high salaries of public officials ( including politicians) ring fenced and allowed them to innovate, avoiding short term criticisms or has it ironically make such remuneration. an “iron rice bowl” so coveted that these talented officials will ( perhaps subconsciously) do what is safe to avoid perceptions of failure ?

Is this what Mediocrity looks like?


Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan