Friday, July 13, 2007

In support of Li Hongyi

Hi Friends,

After reading the complete account about Li Hongyi’s email (thanks to, I must say that I am in support of Li’s actions.

If we ignore the fact that he is PM’s son, what he had done was very idealistic though it may not be in line with established MINDEF procedure. About Mindef procedures... have we forgotten nebulous SAF laws such as “… conduct unbecoming of a SAF personnel.. etc” .

Anyone from a general to the recruit can be charged for having "conduct unbecoming of SAF... " and how many men had been thrown into the guard room on those charges? Uncountable! and no one can even tell us what "unbecoming conduct" actually meant ! How convenient.

(Dr.Huang (14.7.07 8pm)- I just remember the convenient catch-all law that the SAF uses to charge servicemen when more specific charges are not available. It is "conduct prejudicial to the SAF.. blah blah blah" Anyway, you get the idea.)

My personal opinion is that as we are already short of idealism, one more idealist is better than one less. ( Call me naïve or any other name you want).

I know I have my work cut out for me and will spend the next few days taking my foot out of my mouth as I get flames from fellow netizens, ... but that’s life.

Oh yes, I also sent another Dear Editor letter to the forum pages.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Letter to the editors of ST & Today

July 13, 2007

Dear Editor,

Re: About 2Lt Li’s whistle blowing

I disagree with Mindef’s reprimanding 2Lt Li Hongyi.

Li brought the matter of a derelict fellow officer up through the proper channels but was met with typical bureaucratic red tape and inaction.

Instead of tossing his hands up in defeat and become cynical like most, Li did what only an idealistic person would do. He doggedly pursued the matter further and now suffers the consequences for this.

I know a reprimand sounds like a tap on the knuckle but it is an official black mark nonetheless.

This official reprimand sends an erroneous signal to the citizens that if even the PM’s son cannot beat the system, it would be folly for lesser mortals to try.

It is only idealists who dare challenge age-old traditions and who will most likely be the ones to slaughter the venerated sacred cows.

This reminds me of a similar incident in my old reservist unit.

A fellow officer bypassed the proper channels and wrote a letter of complaint directly to the Defence Minister. As expected, the matter was looked into and resolved expeditiously, but not before many feathers were ruffled and boats rocked.

That whistle blower was unexpectedly and summarily promoted to the next higher rank and he is still the only instance in the Army Medical Corp’s recent history in which an officer had been promoted without attending an advanced officers’ course (a sort of battlefield promotion)!

2Lt Li deserves no less and not because he is the PM’s son, but because he did the right thing!

If there are more idealistic young people like Li, there is hope yet!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Waiter, this food tastes like paper!

Hi Friends,

I used to think that fellows who complained about their food were just overly fussy.

Being from a frugal family, I had been taught by my parents to eat whatever was laid on the table for if I did not, the rumour was that I would be punished with a pock-marked wife. I have insisted that my kids do the same. Till now, that is.

Now it turns out that whenever someone complains that the food tastes like paper, or “dung” or that the meat is a tad soggy, he may be literally meaning just that. Especially if the food is from China.

Card board “buns” are just the latest in the list of horrific stories coming out from this the newest and most-feared economic power. We already know about the slaves.

About the “dung”…in the last few weeks, farmers were found to have force-fed pigs with waste-water just before they were led to the slaughter at the abattoir. This last meal before their “execution” were to increase their weight which would ultimately translate to increased profits for the farmers.

In yet another case, water was injected into pigs’ carcasses (also to increase literally the “deadweight”).

If you are skeptical of these reports ( as I was) and attribute them to China’s economic rivals trying to sully her reputation in order to slow her economic progress, think again!

There is no smoke without fire!

Might not this be the end-result of crass materialism? If the almighty dollar is the “be all and end all” of our lives , I fear that we are not far behind China in becoming a soul-less society where “dog eat dog” and anything ( and I mean anything) is permissible so long as it helps us climb up the economic food chain!

Xiao Long Pao anyone?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Chinese food 'made from cardboard'
(CNN 12 July 07)

BEIJING, China (AP) -- Chopped cardboard, softened with an industrial chemical and flavored with fatty pork and powdered seasoning, is a main ingredient in batches of steamed buns sold in one Beijing neighborhood, state television said.

The report, aired late Wednesday on China Central Television, highlights the country's problems with food safety despite government efforts to improve the situation.

Countless small, often illegally run operations exist across China and make money cutting corners by using inexpensive ingredients or unsavory substitutes. They are almost impossible to regulate.

State TV's undercover investigation features the shirtless, shorts-clad maker of the buns, called baozi, explaining the contents of the product sold in Beijing's sprawling Chaoyang district.

Baozi are a common snack in China, with an outer skin made from wheat or rice flour and and a filling of sliced pork. Cooked by steaming in immense bamboo baskets, they are similar to but usually much bigger than the dumplings found on dim sum menus familiar to many Americans.

The hidden camera follows the man, whose face is not shown, into a ramshackle building where steamers are filled with the fluffy white buns, traditionally stuffed with minced pork.

The surroundings are filthy, with water puddles and piles of old furniture and cardboard on the ground.

"What's in the recipe?" the reporter asks. "Six to four," the man says.

"You mean 60 percent cardboard? What is the other 40 percent?" asks the reporter. "Fatty meat," the man replies.

The bun maker and his assistants then give a demonstration on how the product is made.

Squares of cardboard picked from the ground are first soaked to a pulp in a plastic basin of caustic soda -- a chemical base commonly used in manufacturing paper and soap -- then chopped into tiny morsels with a cleaver.

Fatty pork and powdered seasoning are stirred in.

Soon, steaming servings of the buns appear on the screen. The reporter takes a bite.

"This baozi filling is kind of tough. Not much taste," he says. "Can other people taste the difference?"

"Most people can't. It fools the average person," the maker says. "I don't eat them myself."

The police eventually showed up and shut down the operation.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

BBC's Johnston freed but Hamas the Big Winner

Hi Friends,

Those of us who have been following the kidnapping saga of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston must be elated by this wonderful turn of events.

For once a kidnapping in the Middle-east does not end with the sordid beheading on some radical Islamic website.

Now I can edit out from my blog the logo for Johnston’s release. The tenacious campaign for Johnston's release was initiated by BBC and it included 200000 signatures ( mine included) and I had already commented how impressed I was for efforts that BBC had gone to secure his release. I am sure public pressure had some effect on Hamas and the kidnappers.

Hamas scores propaganda coup

It is obvious that Hamas now has added credibility. After all with its open split with Fatah ( and Hamas' sacking from the government) , Hamas was the sole de-facto government in Gaza and there is no one else to share the limelight ( and steal the thunder) in this event.

How significant is it that Hamas chose to engineer this release now:

1. In the early days of Gordon Brown’s stewardship of the British government. No matter what Brown says about there being no change in foreign affair posture with regards to Hamas, the British public must feel that Hamas is not as evil and unpredictable as they were made to believe.

2. Before Blair really could settle in as M-E envoy of the “Quartet” (ie USA/ EU/ Russia/ UN). This prevents Blair ( who is deemed too closely allied to Bush’s camp) from claiming any credit.

The next publicity coup for Hamas must surely be the release of Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.

I think with Gilad's freedom, even Israel’s attitude could be softened towards Hamas and then there may actually be a glimmer of hope for some lasting peace.

The only problem is, what sweetener can Hamas offer for the neo-con’s of Washington? Might these neo-con's be tempted to throw in a spanner in the works?

My guess is that all of us will just have to wait for the next US president before we see some significant engagement from the US.

So,the lesson to learn here is that …

We are all pawns in the game of life.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

1. BBC's Alan Johnston is released (BBC News 4 July 07)

BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been released by kidnappers in the Gaza Strip after 114 days in captivity.

Mr Johnston, 45, was handed over to armed men in Gaza City. He said his ordeal was like "being buried alive" but it was "fantastic" to be free.
Speaking live from Jerusalem later, he thanked those who had supported him, and vowed to return to "obscurity".

Rallies worldwide had called for Mr Johnston's release. An online petition was signed by some 200,000 people.

Mr Johnston's father Graham said he and his wife were "overjoyed" at their son's release.

"It's been 114 days of a living nightmare," he said.
Gordon Brown, in his first prime minister's questions session in the UK parliament, said: "The whole country will welcome the news that Alan Johnston, a fearless journalist whose voice was silenced for too long, is now free."
Mr Brown acknowledged the "crucial" role played by Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in securing Mr Johnston's release.

Read here for full report

2.BBCNews 4 July 07
There is no doubt that Hamas has scored a major propaganda victory with the release of the BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston.

The issue now is whether it can convert that victory into progress towards getting itself accepted as a recognised representative of the Palestinians internationally.

Currently, the outside world is concentrating its support on the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party which controls the West Bank.

It was no accident that Alan Johnston was taken to the home of the Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniya, who was sacked as Palestinian prime minister by Mr Abbas.

Read here for full report