Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Of Wild Goats and New Citizens- Not a fairy tale

The Goatherd and the Wild Goats (An Aesop’s Fable)

A Goatherd, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide, found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut them up together with his own for the night. The next day it snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold.

He gave his own goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the Wild Goats scampered away as fast as they could to the mountains.

The Goatherd scolded them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he had taken more care of them than of his own herd.

One of them, turning about, said to him: "That is the very reason why we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves."

Moral of the story: Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new ones.


In my profession, Singapore's decreasing birth-rate has been a reality for some time.

My paediatrician (baby specialist) colleagues have been complaining of decreasing workload for more than half a decade. This is worsened by perceived competition from government hospitals for an already shrinking “pie”.

Seah Chiang Nee, a veteran columnist and Singapore-watcher, who was once an editor of the now defunct Singapore Monitor, made these observations in a recent article:

Declining births for the past 30 years are threatening Singapore's long-term survival as a nation. Last year 36,000 babies were delivered, far short of the 60,000 needed to replace the population.
Economists fear that at this rate Singapore could - like Japan - one day become extinct.
To make matters worse, Singaporeans are ageing rapidly, which would require more young people to support retirees, and that, of course, is not happening.
At the same time, many of its own citizens are migrating to the West for a better life
. “

This anxiety is worsened by well-publicised hiccups (albeit paper losses) involving Singapore’s investments in Shin Corp and Standard Chartered Bank.

Procreation policies have been failures

It is widely recognized that the policies to reverse the damage originating from our “Stop at Two” campaigns have been dismal failures. Thrasymachus of is one of many commentators who concur with me. In fact he felt that Minister Lim Hng Kiang’s goals were not realistic and his task “suicidal”.

Now that the government has concluded that for some strange reasons, Singaporeans do not like to make babies, what is next?

To resort to this drastic measure of opening the gates widely for more migrants is in itself a tacit admission that the previous policies had failed.

Henceforth the government would concentrate on “picking and choosing” Singapore’s future gene pool from around the region, with the bulk coming from China and the Indian subcontinent. In some ways, they probably have given up on trying to prevent further brain drain and to a lesser extent on increasing birth-rates.

About the Goats…

Although there are some who will remain vehemently opposed to this more generous immigration policy, most of us could probably be persuaded to accept it (albeit reluctantly) if we feel that it is done for the long term benefit of our society.

Most of us are peeved (or some say pissed) that the government seems to go to extra-ordinary lengths to please these potential immigrants. Even to the extent of treating them better than her own citizens. How else can one explain away the facts that money is being spent on scholarships for non-Singaporeans and that new male citizens do not need to serve National Service? It is no wonder that this Aesop’s fable will strike a chord with many.

National Service is good for all.. isn’t it?

In the case of a brilliant high school student and potential citizen, let him/her serve his/her new country –either in National Service or in equivalent capacity if female, convert to a pink IC, then they can proudly go to Stanford or Cambridge with all our blessings. By then,how can we not welcome them with open arms as they will be Singaporeans, no matter their origins ?

For the mature new citizen, the logistics is more complex but not impossible. The younger ones, say less than 30 years, can be inducted into normal National Service ( or modified NS) and the older ones ( up to say 40 years) can be made to contribute either pro-rata or on a part-time basis. There is much that these new citizens can teach us and vice versa. There will then be no doubt about where their loyalties will lie when the clarion call sounds.

National Service, to most of us, is a rite of passage and an opportunity for all races and all social classes to be treated as one (notwithstanding the hilarious White Horse anomaly).

I am not advocating equal misery but proposing an equal opportunity for all to gel together to serve a common cause. To this day, I feel that my days in Officer Cadet School (after A levels) and then as a Medical Officer in various units, had been purposeful and definitely not a “waste of time”.

Let the government not be inconsistent. If National Service is good, then it is good for all- old or new citizens alike. If such a requirement deters some from trading in their old passports, so be it!

What makes the government think that if these same new citizens will not serve NS now, that their children will?

The logistical challenges for such a new policy are not insurmountable, as there are so many brilliant scholars and highly paid civil servants just waiting to prove their worth.


Don’t let this old goat say, "I told you so.The wild goats were just taking you for the ride…!!


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Singapore Identity- Comedian Ruby Pan helps us find it

Hilarious stand-up comedian- Ruby Pan from Indignation 2006


Enjoy this hilarious video! Now I know that Singaporeans can laugh at ourselves- contrary to common opinion.

A breath of fresh air!

I apologise to readers who are alien to Singaporean culture - only because you may not understand what this is all about.

You see, Singapore is still searching for her own Identity ( and some say for her soul too).


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: Whoops! I forgot to mention that this video and others from Hossan Leong, Woo Yen Yen, Alex Au, Mr Brown & Mr Miyagi are lifted from who were at Indignation 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

National Day Rally Speech informative but...

National Day Rally speech informative and entertaining, but the post-rally media-blitz….

About National Day Rally Speech

Our Prime Minister Lee’s speech last weekend was informative and in parts entertaining. I do not regret watching the whole speech as it included various topics of crucial importance, eg population policies, that all of us have to ponder on.

To me, whether the PM’s mee-siam should contain “harm” (vernacular term for cockles), is a personal choice and I will not dwell unnecessarily on it.

About Post-rally media-blitz

The MainStream Media (henceforth called MSM) seems to have gone on a frantic post-rally blitzkrieg, the likes of which has not been seen since the May elections. I am not the only one who has noticed this phenomenon ( refer

Most independent observers could easily have mistaken all these media activities as “hard-sell” tactics more suitable for the market place. Apparently, the MSM does not know the word “subtle”.

There is only so much that even the most fervent enthusiasts can take. Is there a need to serialize the speech day after day? In this day of the internet, anyone can download the complete speech in various websites (click here-

Or even watch the unabridged and uncensored video here

Diversity of views may help dispel skeptics

From the MSM (from reading/seeing/hearing) ,it seems that PM has carried the ground so well and his arguments so convincing that there is near unanimity about all the important and often controversial policies. Do all the academics/NGO’s/thinktanks/ ordinary folks have no views which are at odds with the official line?

The skeptics will suggest that alternative views have been omitted in this over-enthusiastic attempt by the media “bosses” to depict a semblance of unequivocal support for the government's position.This is not necessarily healthy in the long run.

Diversity of views is vital for our nation’s development. Does it not make sense that only when differing views are exchanged freely then some true consensus can perhaps emerge?

The danger would be that if the only feedback received by the leadership are ones favorable to itself, they might start to believe all these as the truth. They might as well surround themselves with “yes men”.And the day may come ( in the future, perhaps under a different leadership) when no one would bother to stand up to say, “The emperor does not wear clothes”- if the leader then is indeed not wearing clothes.

Of course the “The emperor’s clothes” is a tale every child has learnt in school and is just a metaphor not to be taken literally.

From what I have seen these past few days,the MSM is doing all of us a disservice.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


For the convenience of lazy surfers, I have linked some bloggers' views about the NDR 2006 , for your perusal.

Needless to say, by listing the links, it does not imply that I endorse their views.

As we say here, it's their own "pasar" ( meaning.. those guys are on their own..)

1. Sgpatriot (Gerald Giam)
2. ( Seah Chiang Nee's site)
3. Mr.Wang Bakes Good Karma (Mr.Wang.. who else (sheesh.. eyes rolling up!!))
4. ( Alex Au- so famous he does not need introducing)
5. Xenoboy ( I really don't know who he/she is.. honest! ... but he is very sharp)


Sunday, August 20, 2006

PM Lee National Day Rally Speech 20.8.06

PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally Speech (20.8.06)
(Channelnewsasia website)

Singapore – Our Future, Our Home

A.1 Text of Speech(from Channelnewsasia) :


1. Introduction
2. The Economy – sustaining growth, creating jobs
3. The Region – challenges and opportunities
4. Our Population – gathering talent in every field
5. The Digital Age – reaping benefits, managing risks
6. Singapore Heartware – commitment to our nation
7. Conclusion

A.2 Text of Speech transcribed from audio files ( from

B. Video of Speech


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Retreat from Power: Who will lead us?


Russell Heng has written an excellent article entitled “Retreat from Power: Why should Singapore's PAP oblige?” where he postulates that our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong could possibly be the one to lead the People's Action Party (PAP) towards the politics of retreat. Heng’s hypothesis is a must-read for all serious Singapore-watchers. ( Also if you don’t, you won’t know what the h*ck I am talking about).

Are Russell Heng’s expectations rational?

Russell Heng may be overly optimistic if he is hoping that this government will retreat from power.

Although speeches delivered by our PM in the recent past seemed to suggest to some that he could conceivably be a “closet” reformer or maybe an “agent of change”, the words and actions of senior PAP leaders quickly brought all of us back to reality.

The re-affirmation of policies such as GRC and upgrading first for PAP wards dispelled any doubts that the political status quo will remain. To still believe that our PM is keen on significant liberalizations is to postulate that the leadership is fractured and the PAP not united.

Examples of “Retreat from Power”

In Asia’s past, the regimes that exercised retreat from power were coincidentally military dictatorships. The most significant ones that readily come to my mind include President Chiang Ching Kuo (Republic of China -Taiwan)

and President Chun Doo-Hwan (Republic of Korea ie South Korea)

1.President Chiang Ching Kuo

President Chiang Ching Kuo is the son of Chiang Kai Shek. In 1987 Chiang Ching Kuok ended martial law and his administration saw a gradual loosening of political controls. Opponents of the Nationalists were no longer forbidden to hold meetings or publish papers and Opposition political parties, though still illegal, were allowed to form.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind now that Taiwan’s democracy is fully entrenched and irreversible.

2. President Chun Doo-Hwan

President Chun Doo-Hwan’s role in opening up South Korea is a lot more controversial and mired with senseless bloodshed amidst national turmoil.He grabbed power in a coup d’etat in 1979( a not uncommon route to the top job those days). His power-grab was legitimised when Chun was elected president under a revised constitution, having resigned from the army after promoting himself to four-star general.

During the martial law regime under Chun, Kim Dae-jung, a dissident oppositionist was sentenced to death. This was later commuted due to foreign pressure.

When Kim Dae-jung was elected President of Korea in 1997, among Kim’s early acts as chief executive was the release from prison of his presidential predecessors (Chun and Roh Tae-woo, both convicted in 1996 for corruption, treason and mutiny) and their inclusion on his inaugural platform.

For his magnanimity towards his enemies, Kim has remained one of my heroes. He was also instrumental in the “Sunshine policy” towards North Korea when he attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to engage the xenophobic North.

3.President FW De Klerk
My other hero is Nelson Mandela the first President of a non-apartheid South Africa. He was just as forgiving towards his predecessor F W de Klerk. De Klerk is himself also an agent of change who brought about the demise of racist apartheid in his retreat from power.

My hopes and expectations

I will be the happiest person on this little red-dot if it turns out that I had been too harsh on the government and that there are plans afoot for real change.

However, the phrase,” The more they change, the more they remain the same,” has oft been used, ad nauseam, to describe the PAP and very few can argue about its "appropriate-ness" .

I do concede that if anyone can bring about long-term change (even via politics of retreat ), it would be our present PM. He has genuine support from a sizeable majority.

PM Lee’s ability to implement change is never in doubt, only his willingness to take a calculated risk by embarking on a different path is.

Our children’s generation may not be as trusting as our fathers’.

I await his National Day Rally speech with bated breath.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hail Theresa Goh! My heroine

Addendum: Mr. Bernard Goh's ( Theresa's father) response (24.8.06):

Dear Dr Huang,
This is Bernard, Theresa's father. First, on behalf of the Goh Family, I must thank you for posting such kind words about Theresa and your positive view of the disabled community at large.We were directed to your blog by Kelly from the Singapore Disability Sports Council and I must tell you that my wife & I were very very touched when we read your comments. Not sure if you are a parent yourself, but if you were, you would understand how elated we are to hear others sing praises of our Theresa's acheivements. Once again, thank you!

TODAY • Tuesday • August 15, 2006


ON SUNDAY afternoon, Rose Goh received an SMS.

It was from her eldest daughter and top Singapore paralympic swimmer, Theresa, informing her she had just become a world record holder.

Still sceptical, Rose logged on to the website of the US Paralympic National Swimming Championships, which was held from Aug 10-12 in Texas. It quashed any lingering doubts.

Last Saturday (Sunday afternoon, Singapore time), the 19-year-old became the world 200m breaststroke record holder (SB4 classification), her winning time of 4 min 30.67 sec shaving nearly 39 seconds off the previous mark of 5:09.63s set by American Kara Sheridan in 2003.

SB4-classified athletes are those will full use of their arms and hands, but not their leg or trunk muscles.

“We were just speechless!” her father Bernard, a 49-year-old general manager at Asiatic Engineering Pte Ltd, said yesterday. Rose added: “As always, we just expected her to do her personal best, but never in our wildest dreams we’d expect her to achieve this, especially since she had also brought her school work there to do. It’s a mile-
stone in Singapore sports.”

For Rose and her husband, it made up for the years they had to endure stares, finger-pointing and curious looks whenever they were in public with Theresa.

“Many years ago, a parent saw Theresa in her wheelchair and explained to her children that jie jie (big sister in Mandarin) is in a wheelchair because she was naughty,” said Rose. “And once, she had diarrhoea while in kindergarten, but none of the teachers dared to handle her because they thought disabled people are very fragile.

“It wasn’t nice, but we believe it was due to ignorance, not malice. “Fortunately, the public is much more aware and understanding now.” Theresa was born with spina fida,a birth defect whereby a part of the spine was not formed properly.

She is already one of Singapore’s best known paralympic athletes, who only took up swimming at the age of 11 after watching a Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) swimming event.

It is the second time Theresa has held a world record, having briefly held the 50m breaststroke record in 2001. In April this year, she missed re-claiming that record — currently held by Ukraine’s Olena Akopyan — by 0.05s at the South Africa National Championships.

Theresa was also Singapore’s most bemedalled athlete at last December’s 3rd Asean Para Games in Manila, winning three gold medals (100m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m butterfly).

Out of the pool, Theresa, like many teenagers, enjoys shopping, watching television and surfing the Internet, and admires actress Angelina Jolie and footballer David Beckham.
She is also interested in a career in design or animation.

The spritely teenager was also named Her World Magazine’s Young Woman Achiever for 2005 to add to her Singapore Youth Award last year and the Singapore Disability Sports Council’s Sportswoman of the Year 2004.

Her next major assignment is November’s International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships, a 2008 Beijing Paralympics qualifier.

Last night, Theresa and Lim Keng Joo — Singapore’s other representative at the meet — as well as their coach, Ang Peng Siong, were welcomed back at Changi Airport by
Teo Ser Luck, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Theresa trains six times a week at Farrer Park Swimming Complex under Ang’s supervision.

She also attends psychology classes at Path Education Group — a private school — thrice weekly, and does part-time work at Standard Chartered Bank twice weekly under its Programme for Elite Athletes’ Career programme.

Theresa has two siblings, Marisa, 18, and Nicholas, 15.Nicholas turns 16 today, and the Gohs will have a quiet celebration. Theresa’s parents say she likes to keep a low-profile.

“She is very outgoing, but she’s not very comfortable in the limelight,” said Dad Bernard.

Rose added: “She also feels pressurised by growing public expectation of her to do well. But she’s coping with it steadily.”

My comments:

Hi Friends,

If we are on the lookout for world-class heroes and national icons, look no further.

Theresa is an example of someone who has beaten the odds, taken on the chin what life has dished out to her and made the best of it.

In fact, she has done much more than that. She has achieved what almost all Singaporeans will never achieve in a thousand lifetimes. She is a world record holder!

I do not know Theresa nor her family, but I can imagine the elation they feel now.

The pain and suffering that they felt in the past must now seem almost worth the while.

However, Singapore -not just the government but Singapore, the society, still has a long way to go to get rid of prejudices against those deemed dis-similar to the majority.
Be it physical ability or other racial-cultural attributes.

All of us should look beyond these differences and not just see but truly accept each other as a part of the whole.

In an extended way, outside our national borders, each human being, regardless of nationality or language, should see each homo-sapien as part of humanity.

Actually, the surest way for all of us to unite would be when aliens, be they, Klingons,Romulans,Vulcans or even Ferenghis ( yes even Ferenghis) attack our planet.
I know, most of you are sure by now that I have lost the plot and have watched too much Star Trek, but…

Anyway, before my credibility is lost completely, Congratulations Theresa and the Goh family!

Hail Theresa, my Heroine!


Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: If any readers know the Goh family, please convey to them my heart-felt wishes.

Addendum: Jerry Siah the organising chairman has requested for support for a forthcoming concert which all of us ( bar none) should support.
It is called A Nation in Concert. Please support!!! (click on link)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Some laughs ( for a change)

Family guy clips

Hi Friends,

I thought since we have already embarked on conspiracy theories and other quasi-entertainment, might as well go the whole hog!

My kids and I love cartoons.

Our favourite now is:

Family Guy:

Characters : Peter Griffin(dumb Dad)
Louis (responsible and self-sacrificing Mum)
Chris (naive and severely emotionally-challenged son)
Meg (drama queen)
Stewie (looks like a baby but is a scheming control-freak who hates Louis and is destined to be future megalomaniac)
Brian (family dog who is really smarter than all except Stewie).

I beg you to give yourself a chance.

Watch it at least once before you dismiss me as childish!

Better still buy the whole season of DVD's ( but of course not the bootleg version from Shanghai's Xianyang market/Bangkok's Plantip Plaza or KL's Impian Plaza!)

I will post other cartoons ( or other more serious stuff) when I find them.

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Conspiracy Theory- 9/11 ( from Loose Change Part 2-

September 11 9/11 Loose Change Part 2

Hi friends,
This Part 2 should be viewed after Part 1 (obviously).
Enjoy! (I am still trying to sort out the gremlins)

Addendum: Just to convince you that I am no whacko, here is a link to detractors and site debunking conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy Theory-9/11 from (Loose Change Pt 1)

September 11 9/11 Loose Change Part 1

Conspiracy Theory: Believe it or not?

Hi Friends,
"Anthony" commented on my post "PM Lee's National Day Speech 2006" that there is growing belief in the USA that the 9-11 is a conspiracy.

In fact , he said ( & I append here - without his permission):

"Greetings Doc !

Do you really think that Singapore will one day be a target for terrorists? Honestly, I have my doubts about that. Why such a pessimistic view? Somehow, I can never swallow the high sounding bunkum that the mainstream media dishes out about terrorists, “they hate us because we are free” and all that shit. Is something true just because the official media says it is so?

Mind you, I don’t wish to sound like a whacky conspiracy theorist, but more and more Americans are now convinced that 9/11 was an inside job. No matter how little we know, I think we know enough to realise that there’s something dreadfully wrong with the official picture of 9/11 and the subsequent “war on terrorism”. It seems like one big campaign to keep us in a perpetual state of fear. The more one fears, the more easily one is controlled and manipulated. Isn’t that so?

By the way, a recent poll indicates that more than 30 p.c. of Americans can no longer recall the year in which 9/11 took place!!! Wow! Talk about the public having short memories! And then this new incident comes along as if to remind us that the “terrorists” are alive and well. Weird, isn’t it? " ( end of comment)

I am also not a whacky conspiracy theorist. I am usually a rational rationalist! I am sceptical even of sceptics and I think most things have common sense logical explanations!

But these 2 videos are intriguing! Conspiracy theories will come and go. Roswell, JFK and what have you...

Judge for yourselves. Take it with a bucket of salt ( if you want). Enjoy!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Monday, August 14, 2006

Malaysia- Serious wayang happening!

(Wayang- Indonesian/Malay for "show" or "play")

From: (Ex-journalist Mr. Seah Chiang Nee's website)

Mahathir cheered

He's given hero's welcome when he strikes at the seat of Abdullah Badawi's power.

Reuters.Aug 13, 2006

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad took his attack against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the seat of power, the ruling party, yesterday - and found plenty of support for his criticisms.

Members of UMNO, which dominates government and can make or break prime ministers, gave Mahathir a hero's welcome as he arrived to speak at a divisional party meeting at a golf club outside Kuala Lumpur.

More than 100 of the party faithful chanted "Hidup Mahathir" (Long live Mahathir) in Malay as the 80-year-old arrived for the meeting behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne sports utility with his driver in the passenger seat.

"For two years I've been quiet," Mahathir told the UMNO division, which had gone ahead and invited him to speak despite veiled warnings by the party's leadership not to do so.

"Now let me speak, a small chance to be heard. If you don't want to listen, you can always close your ears," he added before going on to recite his various criticisms of the government.

Mahathir, who stepped down after 22 years of power in late 2003, feels betrayed by his hand-chosen successor, Abdullah, because the latter has shelved several major projects that Mahathir had hoped would continue into his retirement.

Mahathir has accused the government of lacking "guts" and of selling out Malaysian sovereignty over a recent decision to scrap Mahathir's plan to build a bridge to neighbouring Singapore.
It was clear that many of the party rank-and-file who turned up to hear Mahathir were also not happy with the government.

"I don't believe in him any more," said elderly UMNO party member Noor Azmi, brandishing a photo of him with Abdullah. He said he was a distant uncle of the premier.

"Not only me, but the majority of the rakyat (common people) too. UMNO is more than just blood. It's about Islam, the Malay race and the country."

Mahathir's decision to take his criticisms into the heart of UMNO threatens to sow dissent and division within the ruling party at a time when Abdullah is widely expected to be gearing up for an early election, perhaps in the second half of next year.

There are no moves inside the party to dethrone Abdullah, but any grass-roots support for Mahathir's criticisms could pressure the prime minister to alter the course of fiscal policy and return to the Mahathir era of major state projects. (Reuters)

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak reiterated his full backing for PM Abdullah yesterday, saying "I will not abandon ship."

He said he was amazed by the attitude of the prime minister and expressed his undivided support for Abdullah.

"I will be the best deputy possible as well as the best supporter of the prime minister," he said during a public function. "I will stand by him and weather the storm together until the end.

"Just because there is a storm brewing, don't think I will abandon the ship."

In other developments reported in malaysiakini: -
* Mahathir asked government leaders to swear on the Quran together with him on whether the Malaysian government had made the offer of sand and airspace to Singapore.
* Mahathir also said he had no plan to form a splinter group of the party but would continue to pick on leaders who had gone astray.
* Former DPM Anwar Ibrahim said Mahathir's credibility was at stake if he did not name those cabinet ministers whom he claimed to be corrupt.Aug 13, 2006

My comments:

Hi friends,

Not a day passes without some news about Mahathir. Mahathir this, Mahathir that!

I feel like an eavesdropper. Forced to listen to the domestic spats of quarrelsome neighbours.

The "shouting matches" and clanging of "broken dishes" are becoming terribly annoying! And the plot thickens each day. It's akin to an international version of our own Everitt Road soap opera. (Everitt Rd Saga: A long-running domestic quarrel between some neighbours which is severely testing the patience of our courts' judges)

Who wants to hear about the skeletons in the cupboards and who needs to see all the dirty linen being exposed to the whole wide world! If I had my druthers, I'll rather mind my own business!

But then, Malaysia is no ordinary neighbour. What happens there may have repercussions for us! So I just keep my ears and eyes open!

The possible outcomes seem predictable.

1.Mahathir wins and Abdullah Badawi loses. Inconvenient for us.
2.Abdullah Badawi wins and Mahathir is kept somewhere where he can cause less harm. Malaysia and the region gains from political stability. We are not unhappy.
3.Everybody loses- endless quarreling and no one knows who is really in charge. Bad, very bad.
4. Everybody wins- kiss and make up (again). Deja vu? Vaguely familiar- read this story before.

Anyway, I am an outsider. So, I should just shut up! ( but keep ears open)


Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan (the kaypoh)

Re: My previous post on Sg-Malaysian relations

Addendum (16.8.06) Mahathir vs Abdullah: The battle heats up
I have linked this article from S'pore Institute of International Affairs which some of you may find interesting.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

PM Lee's National Day Speech 2006

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2006

My fellow Singaporeans,

1. After the past few years upgrading and restructuring our economy, Singapore is in a much stronger position than before. Our strategies are working, and our economy is growing and creating jobs.

2. For the first half of this year, growth was 9.4 percent. For the full year, MTI has raised our growth forecast to between 6.5 and 7.5 percent. The strong economy has generated 81,500 jobs in the first half - the highest number in a decade. More than half of these jobs have been taken up by residents. Our efforts to re-design jobs and re-skill workers are also helping more older and lower-skilled Singaporeans to upgrade themselves and earn more.

Global Outlook and Risks

3. The global economic outlook remains positive. The US economy is slowing down. However, this moderation is balanced by stronger growth in Japan, and gradual improvements in several European countries, especially Germany.

4. In Asia, the strong momentum of China and India continues to fuel the dynamism and optimism of the entire region. Southeast Asia is benefiting from this, although several countries face political problems which could affect confidence and growth.

5. While the overall outlook is favourable, we must continue to track and anticipate developments around us, especially potential threats to our growth and security.

6. The Middle East is in upheaval. Iran's nuclear programme is raising grave international concerns. Iraq is almost in a state of civil war. The fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah and Hamas continues. Singapore hopes that the senseless cycle of violence in the Middle East will be stopped. But if the crisis worsens and disrupts world oil supplies, energy prices will shoot up even higher, and trigger a global recession.

7. The WTO Doha Round negotiations have stalled. If the trade talks fail, protectionism will grow. As an open economy which depends on free flow of trade and investments, Singapore will be very vulnerable, but our free trade agreements will protect us and safeguard our access to important markets.

8. Bird flu is a real concern. It is a serious problem in Indonesia. Should the virus mutate to spread from human to human across the world, tens of millions may die. We have contingency plans to deal with such a pandemic, but no plan can cover every eventuality.9. Extremist terrorism remains a threat. Terrorist networks have been disrupted in Malaysia and Indonesia, but some dangerous terrorists are still on the loose and Singa­pore is one of their targets.

Adapting to Change

10. To deal with these and other challenges, we need able and dedicated leaders in every sector. We need a good and effective government to lead the country. And we need Singaporeans to work together to take our nation forward.

11. As a small country, we must accept the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. We must watch closely the changes around us, and respond promptly when opportunities or threats emerge. We stand out from our competitors precisely because we react faster and more effectively to new situations. We must also work with our neighbours to deepen our cooperation in ASEAN, and make Southeast Asia a vibrant region which investors cannot ignore. So while we focus on issues within Singapore, we must never take our eyes off what is happening around us, or be slow to react to them.

12. I know that this strategy demands a lot from Singaporeans. It means exploring new and risky approaches, instead of clinging to familiar arrangements. It needs trust and confidence between the people and the Government. It also requires us to help those less able to cope with the rapid changes. For example, when oil prices rise, electricity costs more to produce, and buses, taxis and trains cost more to run. We cannot keep electricity tariffs and public transportation fares fixed. But we can and will directly help those in need. This is what the Government has been doing through programmes like U-Save and the recent Progress Package.

A More Open and Diverse Society

13. One important strategy to cope with changes is to make our people more resilient, better able to tackle issues on their own instead of looking to the Government to solve every problem. We are building a more open society, and encouraging freer debate. The media are airing more diverse issues and perspectives. The public is more engaged in helping the Government to work out policies and solve problems. Civic groups are organising themselves, running special schools, protecting the tone of neighbourhoods, or promoting informed debate.

14. The internet is a tremendous tool which is changing the world. We should make full use of it to link up with the world, engage one another, and be a productive economy and vibrant society. But the internet creates new problems too. Not everything on the internet is reliable; it is not easy to tell apart fact from fiction in cyberspace; and instant communi­cations can cause people to over-react hastily and unthinkingly to events. Therefore we must learn how to live with this new medium, and adapt to it. This is a challenge to many societies, not just Singa­pore.

15. Going forward, we will continue to open up in a considered and progressive way. Singaporeans should express themselves freely but responsibly. We need to help solve problems and build our nation, not chip away at the pillars of our society. We will not always agree with one another, but we must stay cohesive and united in our common vision for Singapore.

16. The people's votes in May settled the team to lead Singa­pore, and the direction that Singa­pore should take, over the next five years. We should now focus on over­coming the problems ahead. At the end of the term, the Government will put its record before the people, for voters to judge whether their lives have improved. This way, by focussing on the future, we will stay on top of our challenges and ahead of the competition.

Strengthening our Core

17. Amidst all the changes, some things remain the same - we are still a small country in an uncertain world, other countries are larger and better endowed than we are, and we will still have to work harder and smarter than them. Therefore as we encourage diversity, we must also strengthen our core and stay together as one people.

18. This will be all the more important for the younger generation. They are growing up connected to the internet and the world, and this new landscape is a natural part of their lives. Young Singaporeans enjoy a first-class education. They have many opportunities to pursue their passions and fortunes both in Singapore and abroad. We must do more to engage our young, and strengthen their roots in Singapore. We must imbue in them the conviction that Singapore is a special and unique place that belongs to them, and that Singapore's future depends on them. They must develop an instinctive obligation to give back to society and enable many more Singa­poreans to enjoy the opportunities they do.

19. Many years ago, when Singa­pore was just a fishing village, our forefathers came here in search of a better life. In 1965, after a period of communist and communal strife, independence was thrust upon us. Suddenly we were on our own. But we worked hard and built modern Singapore from scratch. Let us uphold this spirit of self reliance, this openness to change, and this determination to succeed, as we build a brighter future for all.

20. I wish all Singaporeans a Happy National Day.

My comments:

Hi all

I am glad that official statistics indicate that our economy is heading in the right direction.

However,I will be not surprised if those most affected by the restructuring remain highly skeptical of these figures. The challenge is how to provide a buffer for those affected by the adverse effects associated with globalization. Not all these unemployed can be taxi-drivers or McDonald uncles and aunties. There is a strata of “chronically unemployed” who seem to be glossed over by the new economy. I am sure that not all of them are “choosy” or have unrealistic expectations.

The recent arrests of potential terrorists in the UK reinforce the reality that we live in a different world post- 911. It is futile to argue over who is to blame for this “clash of the civilizations”. The fact is that there are some out there who feel so aggrieved by the actions of the Western world (personified by the George Bush’s USA ) and they feel that jihad against these western symbols are justified even if innocent lives are sacrificed.

According to some sources,Singapore is a target of these jihadists (partly due to its links with the West) and it is fortunate that we have so far been spared any successful terror attack. Our social fabric and our much treasured multi-racial harmony will be severely tested when ( and not if) these terrorists strike.

To be honest, although I count myself a liberal (and hence open to various viewpoints) and look forward to the day when all of us are persuaded by the strengths of our arguments in any intellectual debate, I am most troubled by the amount of racism and bigotry in some internet forums.If you are the victim of racial abuse, don't you feel upset by derogatory terms used by some irresponsible posters? Perhaps we should just excuse these as excesses of immature teenagers?

I do accept that with freedom, there will inevitably be some chaos and that somehow, self-regulation by other more enlightened netizens will ensure that the more unacceptable expressions will be frowned upon by the rest and with time, these will remain in the fringe and stay there. Anyway, these are meant to be like idle "kopi-tiam"(vernacular term for coffee-shop) talk and not to be taken seriously right?

The jury is still out on whether Singapore is becoming a Nation. (read my post on this) My impression is that Singaporeans will continue to emigrate to more developed economies and that new immigrants (mostly from China,India and of course Malaysia) will play an increasingly important role in our society. As some ministers have already admitted, this policy is “necessary” as our population has not been replacing itself.

I guess all of us will just have to accept this reality that there will be stiff competition for all resources including jobs, places in educational institutions etc. In any case, all of our forebears were migrants too.

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Violin Prodigy Ike See's case: Common Sense Prevails

Ike See's move to opt for 2-year programme at
Curtis Institute clears way for him (Straits Times 5th Aug 2006)


VIOLIN prodigy Ike See, 17,will get to study at the prestigious
Curtis Institute of Music in the United States after all.

The talented youngster, who was twice turned down by the Defence Ministry when he applied to defer national service training to pursue a three-year course has opted for a two-year diploma programme instead.

He will leave for Philadelphia late this month to make it in time for the institute's placement examinations, which decide which classes he will attend.

His studies are fully paid for by a Curtis scholarship, but his family will have to post a bond of over $75,000 for the NS deferment.

Ike's music career was the subject of much debate in May, when Mindef rejected an appeal to defer his military training until after his university studies.

Mindef's position was that it allowed students to attain educational qualifications up to A levels, polytechnic diplomas, or their equivalent before requiring them to do national service.

Deferments to pursue university studies were granted only under very exceptional circumstances, and such cases were rare and could only be considered for “exceptionally strong reasons''.

Mindef maintained that allowing Ike to defer his NS would have been unfair to others who put their personal aspirations and goals on hold to serve NS. There is no change in this position.

Colonel Benedict Lim, Mindef's director of public affairs, explained yesterday that in the latest appeal, Ike had sought deferment for a two - y e ar diploma programme which Mindef had assessed to be a non-degree course that is equivalent to GCE A levels or a polytechnic diploma.

The family was informed of the decision about a week ago. Ike's mother, Mrs I.S. See, 55, a retired teacher said: “Our family is just so grateful to all the people who rallied round and gave their support."

Among them was the chairman of the management board of the Singapore National Youth orchestra, Dr Kee Kirk Chin, with which Ike is the concert master, or the leader of the orchestra.
Said Dr Kee," I am very heartened. Curtis is like the Oxbridge or Stanford of the music world. You have to compete with people from around the world for a place there."

Ike, who started playing the violin at 3 ½ also received acceptances from other prestigious schools such as Juilliard and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

My comments:
I am glad that common sense has finally prevailed.

On a technicality, Mindef has decided to allow Ike See to defer his National Service to take up the prestigious Curtis scholarship.

I guess this formula allows Mindef not to lose face and at the same time appear to be compassionate and reasonable.

Well, whatever it is, I am elated that a rare opportunity has not been lost for an even rarer talent like Ike.

If Mindef had continued on its bureacratic and obstinate way, what are the chances that rare gems like Ike would decide that (after his National Service obligations) since his own nation does not treasure him, he might as well look elsewhere for his long term future! ( I am talking about emigration!)

Now, at least there will be a modicum of hope that after his 2 year stint in Curtis, he may feel (rightly or wrongly) that Singapore is not too bad a place to stay in after all.

Good Luck Ike! Go for it!

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan