Monday, December 29, 2008

Tribute to Emeritus Professor Wong Hock Boon

Hi Friends,

I sent the following letter to the forum page and ST has confirmed that it will be published:

Tribute to Emeritus Professor Wong Hock Boon

The passing on of Emeritus Professor Wong Hock Boon has saddened Singapore’s closely-knit medical community.

Professor Wong Hock Boon was without a doubt the father of Paediatric Medicine in Singapore and had almost single-handedly influenced the lives of thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate students and doctors who had the fortune of being taught by him during his famous didactic lectures and the grand ward rounds. The latter were held 365 days a year!

Prof Wong’s academic credential is world renown but he is also remembered by patients and friends for his humility and humanity. As Prof. Wong’s wife Lily commented recently, he shunned media attention and would rather focus his energy on his research and patients.

Even though his daughter Julia, also a paediatrician (what else?), had to “wrestle” with scores of doctors for a share of her father’s love and affection, she must be immensely proud that her father is one of Singapore’s greatest sons and that he will be greatly missed by all of us.

Young doctors in Singapore, have lost a role model- one that I can safely vouch, will not be seen again in my lifetime.

The authorities should honor Professor Wong in a way befitting his immeasurable contributions to our nation.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
PS:I was Julia's classmate in Medical school and schoolmate in JC

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Action from UN needed for Burma and Zimbabwe!

Hi Friends,

Burma’s xenophobic dictators do not deserve to be treated with any civility.

ASEAN has tried and failed miserably when it gave the junta “face” by accepting it as a member of this regional grouping. Since then, Burma has been nothing but an embarrassment for ASEAN.

Other than its being in South-east Asia, the junta has nothing else in common with the other governments of ASEAN.

These despots think nothing of killing its own citizens, keeping its opponents in prison for decades and has notoriously kept its most famous citizen, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for most part of the last 20 years!

Having seen how passive actions such as economic sanctions have failed in extracting any ounce of humanity from these despots , perhaps it is time for an activist United Nations! Time for leaders to do as they please to their own people in the name of "sovereignty" and "principle of non-interference" is over.

Such rights do not apply to inhuman monsters!

Only then will thugs like Zimbabwe’s Mugabe come to their senses and leave the political scene for the good of their own people.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

WASHINGTON: More than 100 former government leaders wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday asking him to travel to military-ruled Myanmar to secure the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

The prominent figures behind the letter include ex-US presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-Australian premier John Howard, former French prime minister Lionel Jospin, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and ex-Philippine leaders Fidel Ramos and Corazon Aquino.

"This is an unprecedented outpouring of global support for the people of Burma (Myanmar), and I am pleased that so many have joined me in spotlighting this important issue," said Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Norwegian Prime Minister.

"Today we unite to call on the United Nations to take action - the first step towards achieving national reconciliation in Burma is creating a firm deadline for the release of all political prisoners," said Bondevik, now president of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, which together with US-based rights group Freedom Now led the initiative.

The former leaders from more than 50 nations urged Ban to personally travel to Myanmar before the end of the year to secure the release of the military junta's 2,100 political prisoners.

"This is a historic letter from leaders representing every continent and asking the UN chief to personally intervene," Freedom Now's president Jared Genser told AFP.

Last month, more than 100 activists, including members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and relief workers, journalists, monks and lawyers, were each given harsh sentences of up to 68 years in prison.

Their jailing came in the wake of a crackdown on those involved in protests in mid-2007 that were brutally crushed by the military government.

The letter by the former world leaders recalled that the UN Security Council had on October 11 last year issued a presidential statement urging the early release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.

The United Nations also had set the release of all political prisoners as one of its benchmark goals for 2008.

However, in direct defiance of these demands, the military junta has instead increased the number of political prisoners from 1,200 in June 2007 to over 2,100, the letter stated.

"The Burmese people are counting on the United Nations to take the required action to achieve the breakthrough they desperately need to both restore democracy to their country and address the serious humanitarian and human rights challenges that they face," it said.

It further urged Ban to encourage the Security Council to take "concrete action" if these efforts are not successful by the end of December 2008.

Ban's special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has made four visits to Myanmar since a bloody uprising a year ago but failed to revive a dialogue between detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta.

Ministers from permanent Security Council member states Britain, the United States, France, Russia and China as well as other countries including Myanmar's ASEAN neighbours Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam met at the sidelines of the UN summit in September and called on the junta to make "tangible" progress on political reforms ahead of any visit by Ban before year-end.

Ban had made a lightning visit to Myanmar in May after the military rulers came under international fire for not allowing foreign aid into the country following a cyclone that left 138,000 people dead or missing.

The junta relented at the end after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said it would act as an aid channel. - AFP/de

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Burma continues crackdown while the world looks the other way

Hi friends,

Burma’s military dictatorship has finally shown its hand.

After cracking down and arresting thousands of protestors involved in the 2007 “Saffron revolution”, it is now locking them up – some of them for as long as 65 years .

The junta knows that the West, who is its worst critic, is now focused on its own problems brought on by the Financial tsunami and does not have Burma on its radar screen now.

Most of the East – especially India and China, are their partners as the latter two covets its oil and gas.

Asia ex-China & India such as ASEAN are toothless or are actually complicit with these junta leaders and are guilty of looking the other way.

Singaporeans on the whole, including bloggers like me, are not innocent either.

The news of yet another arrest or a jail term does not even elicit a raised eye brow from us.

Perhaps we are numb and just cannot believe how any government can be so cruel to its own people.

We fail to realise that this is self-preservation at its worst!

The junta knows that if the truth ever came out and the rightful rulers took its place, they will be put behind bars or even be at the end of very short ropes.

Singapore, even as we continue with our own little struggle, let us not forget our ASEAN brethren fighting a life and death struggle a very short flight away.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Myanmar activist follows dad, grandfather to jail

AP - Thursday, November 20

YANGON, Myanmar - A court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced a student activist to 6 1/2 years in jail on Wednesday, a week after his father received a 65-year prison term for his own political activities and a decade after his grandfather died in custody.

Colleagues said Di Nyein Lin was one of three student activists sentenced by a court in a suburb of Yangon for various offenses, including causing public alarm and insulting religion. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

In an intensive crackdown on the country's pro-democracy movement, at least 70 activists have received prison sentences in the past two weeks, many after being held for more than a year before being tried.

The courts' actions _ which would keep many of the activists in jail long past a general election set by the ruling junta for 2010 _ have received worldwide condemnation.

Di Nyein Lin's father, Zaw Zaw Min, was one of 23 members of the 88 Generation Students group who were each given 65-year sentences last week. Many members of the group were at the forefront of a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was smashed by the military.

Di Nyein Lin's grandfather, Saw Win, was a member of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, and died in prison about 10 years ago.

Di Nyein Lin is a leader of the outlawed All Burma Federation of Students Union, to which several of the 88 Generation Students' members belonged in 1988.

Most of the 88 Generation members were arrested on Aug. 21, 2007, for protesting a fuel-price hike. Others were arrested after the government violently suppressed rallies in September of that year that followed the fuel protests and were led by Buddhist monks.

They were sentenced under various charges, including a law calling for a prison term of up to 20 years for anyone who demonstrates, makes speeches or writes statements undermining government stability, and for having links to illegal groups and violating restrictions on foreign currency, video and electronic communications.

The other student activists sentenced Wednesday were Kyaw Swa Htay, who received a five-year sentence, and Kyaw Hsan, sentenced to four years in jail.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups say the junta holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, up sharply from nearly 1,200 in June 2007 _ before last year's pro-democracy demonstrations.

The prisoners include Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, as she has been on and off since 1989.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PAP politics- still stuck in a spoilt repeating groove

Dear friends,

The political leadership has decided to take out its old gramophone records, blow off the dust and play it for all to hear.

However, for the more discernable, the crackles and hisses are all too apparent as the analogue technology is so obviously out of date and anachronistic in the digital age.

Like a broken record stuck in a repeating groove, these messages are played out (again and again):

Singapore cannot accept a non-Chinese PM”

For younger Singaporeans this could be a new and novel experience.

But for the rest of us, this is just more of the same.

Coincidentally, one of my letters published in 2006 on the online ST forum page dealt with this matter and as it is just as relevant now, I will just attach it below.

Entitled “Beware the pitfalls of a one-party Parliament” it was written in the context of the previous General Election which was held soon after that.

Gilbert Goh has also sent in a forum letter about this here.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Beware the pitfalls of a one-party Parliament

April 4, 2006

Online Forum page of The Straits Times

As the general election looms, I am heartened to note that there is an apparent increase in the variety of opinions being represented in our print media.

This is in stark contrast to the not-so-distant past when so-called "dissident" discussions were confined to coffee shops and office tea-rooms.

An old theme has also resurfaced. This is that it might not necessarily be bad if the PAP had a clean sweep. Implicit in this thought is that the Non-constituency MPs and Nominated MPs have made the opposition MP's election redundant.

Attractive as this argument may seem, there are serious flaws. The main one is that a monopoly would be detrimental to all in the long run. Any economics student will tell you that a monopoly is a "market failure" as demand and supply are not invoked and the consumer pays more than he should. Most of us will no doubt remember how much more goods and services cost before market liberalisation.

The short term benefits of speedier passage of legislation and less need for meddlesome scrutiny in Parliament will be negated by complacency and its effects in the long term.

The latter would inevitably creep in as few MPs would be willing to think out of the box for innovative solutions which go against conventional wisdom.

If the cabinet or senior party leaders espouse a certain cause, would any PAP MP be foolhardy enough to object strongly to it?

After a clean sweep in the elections, it is not inconceivable to imagine Parliament becoming like a tidy jig-saw puzzle with every piece snugly in place but immovable.

Whoever tries to move and advocate change will be labelled a maverick who rocks the boat unnecessarily and a spoiler out to win glory for himself. He will be reminded that we are already the envy of the world. What is there to improve? Group think will become the norm.

The effect on the people will be no less drastic. Cynicism will again rear its ugly head and despondency turn into apathy and self-interest. The more affected will vote with their feet and succumb to the brain drain benefitting only the developed economies.

The opposition parties will revert to taking non-constructive pot-shots from time to time as they are unable to attract able, idealistic men and women who by now know the score and feel that the rules of the game are not playable.

We can only hope that the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy will be entrenched here and that the playing field continues to be levelled.

Only the cut and thrust of politics will ensure that the best gets to represent the people. Unsuitable and undesirable people will be found out and the more deserving ones be chosen to replace them. The people will then be the ultimate winner. That is what counts.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Thursday, November 06, 2008

America dares to dream - we prefer half-truths

Hi Friends,

I was just as skeptical as the next guy that Barrack Obama could actually do it.

Despite polls that showed him miles ahead, there was always the niggling feeling that race would be such an overriding factor and that somehow, when the white voter ( who forms the majority) faced the ballot paper alone behind the curtain, his deep-seated prejudices would resurface and the 44th POTUS (President of the US) would be white and not black.

However, America has confirmed to me that it is truly a Land of Opportunity- a country where dreams do come true.

America is by no means a perfect nation- the poor sometimes cannot afford basic healthcare whilst the rich live in their own world of yachts and private jets.

Critics will continue to say that its politics is too divisive and that it takes too long and requires too much money to find her elected leaders; but Obama’s election shows to the world the real meaning of democracy.

In the Land of the Free, anyone can be at the pinnacle. So long as he (or she) is able to infect others with his ideas and enthusiasm. Able to galvanize ordinary folks and convince them that change is not to be feared but is inevitable and to be grasped by the horns.

I am happy for America but have mixed feelings about my Singapore.

We are told (and many believe) that Singapore is not ready to accept a minority-race Prime Minister. That deep inside each one of us dwells a racist who cannot see beyond the colour of the skin.

We are told (and many believe) that Singapore is not ready for change. That the status quo is best. That deep inside each of us dwells an apathetic and contented citizen too lazy to consider better ways of doing things and to break out from our comfort zones.

But the late David Saul Marshall, a Jew, was Singapore’s first Chief Minister.

And Barrack Obama, an African-American who had the audacity to dream and hope, has become the next President of the United States.
Whilst we continue to believe half-truths.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Monday, October 13, 2008

Singapore's Distraught Investors of Structured Products Need Help Now! (Forum Letter)

Addendum (16.10.08): A second version of this was printed by My Paper on 16.10.08 ( see below in italics)

October 12, 2008

Dear Editor,

I applaud Mr. Tan Kin Lian, the ex-CEO of NTUC Income, for helping to organize the obviously distraught holders of the many structured financial products. (see link here) These credit linked securities are now in real danger of vanishing into thin air.

Thousands of Singaporeans, many of whom are retirees, had sunk their complete life savings into the Lehman Minibonds, DBS High Notes, Morgan Stanley Pinnacle Notes and Merrill Lynch Jubilee Notes. They are justified in being upset that they may see little or none of their monies again. ( see links here & here)

Their frustrations are multiplied when these investors hear reports that DBS Hong Kong might pay full compensation to Lehman Minibond investors there if they can prove they were misled during the sales process. It is natural that they expect DBS to act likewise in Singapore, its home base.

For the sake of these people, let us get beyond the blame game about why they are in such dire straits as a result of buying products that they were not 100% certain about. Buzzwords like “caveat emptor”- buyer aware, are meaningless to them now when they face a bleak future without any financial resource. They need real help- not just words.

How is the government or its elected representatives going to help these Singaporeans?

Doing nothing is hardly an option.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: Since submission of this letter to the forum editor, DBS has finally come out to take responsibility if there is any evidence of mis-selling here in Singapore. It will be on a case-by-case basis. This letter was not published.

16.10.08 :Second version of this letter (Published in My Paper 16.10.08) ( just for the records)

Dear Editor,

I applaud Mr. Tan Kin Lian, the ex-CEO of NTUC Income, for stepping forward to champion the cause of desperate holders of the many structured financial products.

Thousands of Singaporeans, many of whom are retirees, had sunk their complete life savings into the Lehman Minibonds, DBS High Notes, Morgan Stanley Pinnacle Notes and Merrill Lynch Jubilee Notes. Their desperation is understandable as these credit linked securities are now in imminent danger of vanishing into thin air.

Furthermore these investors feel that they have been neglected by the authorities. The banks who sold these products to them, were also deemed extremely slow in initiating help. How could investors think otherwise when it was many days after DBS Hong Kong had offered to pay full compensation to Lehman Minibond investors there (if they could prove there was mis-selling) before DBS Singapore offered the same here? Are Singaporeans less worthy of help? Is this just poor PR or a case of double standards?

For those of us who are fortunate not to have invested in these products, let us not be smug and judgmental. Let us get beyond the blame game about why they are in such dire straits as a result of buying products that they were not 100% certain about. Buzzwords like “caveat emptor”- buyer aware, are meaningless to them now when they face a bleak future without any financial resource. They need real help- not just words.

How is the government and its elected representatives going to help these Singaporeans?

Doing nothing is not an option.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mr. JB Jeyaratnam: R.I.P.

Dear Friends,

The passing on of Mr. JB Jeyaratnam is a sad day for all Singaporeans.

JBJ, as he is affectionately known, is one man who believes in sticking resolutely to his principles to the very end.

To JBJ, the Westminster model of Parliamentary democracy is the only one worth emulating.

To JBJ, the many tweakings of our political model are at best compromises, at worse these are serious attempts to unfairly entrench the ruling party.

To some JBJ is a hero, to others a failure. There are yet others who feel that he could have played a greater role in the history of this proud little red dot, called Singapore. If only he would yield a little.

History will be the ultimate judge.

Mr. JB Jeyaratnam, May you rest in peace.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

NB: Above letter printed in ST Forum (1st Oct 2008)
Former opposition MP JB Jeyaretnam dies of heart failure

By Lee Foong Ming, Channel NewsAsia

Posted: 30 September 2008 0814 hrs

SINGAPORE: Former opposition MP and former Secretary-General of the Workers' Party, Mr JB Jeyaretnam died early Tuesday morning due to heart failure.

He was 82.

His son Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam told Channel NewsAsia that Mr Jeyaretnam, who had a pre-existing heart condition, had complained of breathing difficulties at about 1.30am.

He was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital but doctors were unable to revive him.

He passed away with his family by his side.

A lawyer, Mr Jeyaretnam was the first opposition member to win a Parliamentary seat in 15 years when he defeated the People's Action Party's Pang Kim Hin and the United People's Front's Harbans Singh in the Anson By-Election in 1981.

He left the Workers' Party in 2001, and in July this year, had launched a new party called the Reform Party.

Mr Jeyaretnam leaves behind two sons.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

On Naked Short-selling ( Letter to Forum)

September 24, 2008

Dear Editor,

I applaud Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) latest ban on “naked” short-selling of shares.

This unreal practice has been tolerated for too long and this restriction, which is long overdue, will help to weed out unhealthy speculating.

“Naked” short-selling occurs when one sells a stock that one does not own in the hope of pocketing a profit when the stock is bought back after its price has fallen.

In the real world, you and I do not sell a car nor a house that we do not own, do we?

For those caught with their pants down, I hope that this serves as a reality check.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Village's Valuable Valets eVicted (Letter to Forum)

September 14, 2008

Dear Editor,


The iconic Holland Village faces a car-park space crunch.

This is unfortunate as Holland V, as it is affectionately known, has become something of a tourist attraction boasting a myriad of global cuisines and is popular for its alfresco dining.

For reasons known only to Providence and our omniscient government, the restaurant owners are made to suffer one misfortune after another.

Holland V’s list of misfortunes

First came 9-11 seven years ago when as an anti-terrorist measure, part of the main street was closed to vehicular traffic and car-parking curtailed.

Then came the Circle Line MRT station construction (2004) when much-needed carpark lots disappeared.

Just when the entrepreneurial business owners thought they had found an innovative solution by having valets park their patrons’ cars, the HDB, almost predictably, appeared to shove a spanner in the works.

Valet parking is efficient use of resources

From my personal experience, valet parking is an extremely efficient use of limited resources. All hospitals (private and public), many major eateries and all hotels use them. Valets can squeeze in many more cars into a limited space then ever thought possible. No machines can ever replace the ingenuity of the human brain.

HDB,Consider this win-win solution

HDB, please don’t be silly. Have a heart and please consider the following win-win solution.

1. Proceed with the Electronic Parking system (EPS). With this, there is no question of HDB being deprived of its revenue. Valet parking will be in addition to and not a substitute for payment for carparks.

2. Let the valets continue, but only under close scrutiny. Residents and patrons who are self-parkng must not be harassed nor inconvenienced. Fine the valets for infringements, if you have to.

In this difficult economic climate, government bodies such as the HDB should consider themselves partners of private enterprise, helping small businesses survive.

What say you, HDB?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

cc: HDB

Links:1.ST Discussion Forum & 2. ST Report

NB: This letter printed in 2 newspapers

Thursday, September 11, 2008

TOC event at Speakers' Corner 13th Sept 08 5 pm

Hi Friends,
The Online Citizen (TOC) will be holding a public event at the "until-now" under-utilised Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park.
Just in case you did not know ( where have you been?), it is now legal to assemble for peaceful demonstrations- but only at Hong Lim.
If you want to show that Singapore's Public Transport still has some room for improvement ( or even to tell TOC that the trains/buses are wonderful the way they are), come join in and participate.
See you there!
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ho Kwon Ping speaks out ! More prominent Singaporeans should follow lead

Dear Friends,

I am glad that establishment-type leaders like Ho Kwon Ping are starting to make their views heard publicly ( esply if these views do not agree with the officially-sanctioned ones).

I hope that others like Tommy Koh (whom I greatly admire and would like to be the next President) will make public their alternative views about how Singapore should be like moving forward.

There is hope yet as I saw Tommy Koh’s comments agreeing with a recent article about how Malays are feeling like least favorite children in Singapore with respect to National Service.

It is not enough that people like me speak up. Officialdom will just roll-up their eyes and sigh, “ That mad doc again? His bark is louder than his bite-Ignore him! “ . But if people like Ho and Koh and others who have daily breakfasts and lunches with the Lees write something in the papers, bureaucrats cannot ignore and not respond.

Good on you, Ho Kwon Ping.

By the way, I wrote on this same topic (Non-repeal of 377A: Remember Rosa Parks and Don't Give Up!) and got flamed by homophobes and their merry (not gay) friends.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: Ho Kwon Ping's take on the non-repeal of Section 377A below

The Today Article:

Stop making A mockery of rule of law: Let’s accept gays

Why keep such an archaic statute when there’s no intention to prosecute?
Monday • September 8, 2008


SINGAPORE is known to be economically liberal, but socially conservative. It is a rules-governed society with clear parameters for behaviour, whether political, economic, or social. And within the “OB markers” (out-of-bounds markers) of these do’s and don’ts, it is a transparent and fair social order, with no favouritism for anyone operating outside the parameters.

This state of affairs governed the issue of homosexuality in Singapore for many years. Not only was gay sex illegal, but every manifestation was openly discouraged — some would say suppressed — and discrimination against gays in the public domain (the civil service, the military, the police, schools, and so on) was commonly accepted. Indeed, because it was public policy to promote heterosexual family life as the only norm, any other lifestyle was considered deviant and handled accordingly. Repressive though it certainly was to gays, it was at least very predictable.

Today, official attitudes towards homosexuality in Singapore are quite different. They are certainly ambivalent and ambiguous — some would even say, schizophrenic. On the one hand, many gay Singaporeans are feted and lauded for their creative contributions to Singapore, and warmly accepted by even senior figures of the establishment. On the other hand, gay sex remains a criminal activity, even after much public debate on the issue, and any kind of activity which is seen to promote a gay lifestyle remains off-limits.

To those who believe that the non-persecution of gays is already something to be grateful for, one could argue that allowing a black person to sit in the front of the bus while legally forbidding it, is something to be grateful for. Or, in an analogy closer to home for the supposedly homophobic heartlanders, should a Chinese person be grateful if the edict forbidding Chinese and dogs to enter parks in Shanghai in the ’20s were relaxed in reality, but maintained in the law?

At another level, my gay friends argue cogently that non-prosecution (or non-persecution, for that matter) signals, at the most, simple tolerance of them, and nothing more. There is a difference between being tolerated because gays are seen to be at the leading edge of the “creative class” — which Singapore is trying to develop as part of its new knowledge-based, creativity-oriented economy — and being accepted because of the recognition that fundamental human rights and the dignity of the individual extends to gays as much as to anyone else.

The somewhat schizophrenic decision to not prosecute an illegal activity has ramifications beyond the gay community, and has disturbed some sections of the larger community, which is not particularly interested in gay issues.

To many thoughtful citizens, Singapore has always openly claimed that the Rule of Law, possibly even more than the formal mechanisms of democracy, is a vital component of good governance. Yet, to criminalise gay sex and, in the same breath, state that anyone breaching this law will not be prosecuted, makes a mockery of the Rule of Law.

Minor though this violation of the principle may be, the proponents of the concept that the Rule of Law is a sacrosanct pillar of the Singapore ethos lament that the Government did not take the bold step to simply decriminalise something which the rest of the developed world has long decriminalised; which most Singaporeans (except, perhaps, the most fervently fundamentalist Christians or Muslims) don’t care that much about one way or the other; which the police, courts, and legal community would welcome simply to remove an archaic, Victorian-era statute; and finally, which the gay community would embrace as an important signal that their right to privacy — a fundamental human right — is considered to be more important than the right of anti-gay groups to proselytise about morality.

Optimists hope that the decriminalisation of gay sex — a yawn to anyone except the homophobic and the gays themselves — will eventually occur. In reality, rather than in law, gays in Singapore today have never had it so good, and should within a short time, become fully-accepted — not just tolerated — members of an increasingly diverse, and therefore vibrant, Singapore community.

But if we pat ourselves on the back for being so “bold” as to accept casinos and Formula 1 events into staid Singapore, why can’t the boldness extend to a simple act to enable gays to realise their dream — indeed, their simple right — to be normal Singaporeans like anyone else, no more and no less.

The writer is chairman ofSingapore Management University,executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings and chairman of MediaCorp.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Response to my posts on National Service

Dear Dr. Huang,

You have a very sensible viewpoint on bona fide cases who aren't wilful NS evaders. Unlike most Singaporeans who wish to crucify NS evaders more than they deserve, your words are compassionate and seek to resolve the conflicting needs of two people groups. In asking for equality for Singaporeans who lived in Singapore and serve NS, justices must also be delivered for those innocent lives who are affected by NS obligations and did not do any wrong. Those babies did not choose to be born in Singapore. Neither, did they live overseas out of their own choice. As human beings they grow up where they are brought to live and then they love it more than returning to Singapore. Why are they punish for what they did not choose in the first place and when they are old enough they are forced to obey Singapore laws when they actually do not want to live in it? Aren't laws legislated taking into account moral considerations and for the government to exercise law using their human conscience to be the guiding principle of right and wrong?

Why can't they renounce their citizenship at age 18 and therefore not serve NS. The Singapore law says it has to be 21. Why 21? Is it some magical number that deemed them to be mature enough to make choices? Yet, such a minor with the same immature mind is push to carry guns and to fight when a real war breaks out and to pledge allegiance to the Singapore Army? Why is the age of conscription younger than the legal age? Will an 18 year old making the oath of allegiance to Singapore during his NS Service be equally capable to renounce his Singapore Citizenship? Most countries have 18 as their legal age and why not Singapore? Did the government intended to have this Catch 22 situation in the first place to hold young males hostage so they must serve their NS?

I am no lawyer but I read through the Enlistment Act 1970. PartVII Under the Miscellaneous Provisions, it covered the issue on Postponement. Para 28 states" The Proper authority may by notice postpone for such period as it may consider appropriate all or any part of the liability of any person under this Act". Para 29. The proper authority may by notice exempt any person from all or any part of the liability of that person under this Act. Para 37 (1) and (2) also empowers "the minister to make such regulations as may be necessary or expedient to carry out the provisions of this Act". It did provide a broad framework for the authority to make the practice of law relevant in today's world which is to defer NS to age 21 for victims of circumstance and renounce without NS or to serve NS and remain Singapore citizens. It is perfectly legitimate to make laws that are reasonable.

In a globalized world, it is common to have Singaporeans married foreigners and give birth to their sons in Singapore. When the spouse leaves for better jobs overseas, the entire family moved. For those families who are settled overseas for a number of years and choose not to return, they are indeed permanently out of Singapore. Why are these boys considered to have evaded NS? To serve NS and then renounce citizenship at age 21 is an irrational behavior. It is asking a person to pay for something that he is not going to own. Yes, that's law all Singapore citizens think they have to obey. Boys who grew up in America are taught the US constitution. They firmly believe in human choice as a God given right. When they are cornered, they will not fear, they will fight for their rights and will exercise civil disobedience as their last option. Nothing can change the way they are inside even if they happen to be born Singapore citizens. They have a backbone made of steel. They are alienated by unjust Singapore laws which did not respect them as human beings going about their normal lives. Who are they protecting when their immediate family are not in Singapore? 2 years in the army is equivalent to two years jail sentence.

There is less talk and anger when Singapore Permanent Residence can renounce and not serve NS. NS laws are not enforceable on them if they choose to renounce their PR before they are enlisted. And they do not have to be 21 to do so. Why are Singapore citizens worse off than Singapore Permanent Residence? Ironically, SPR are the ones who make use of the loophole to live and study in Singapore and leave as soon as they are 16 after exploiting the benefits to the fullest. I met a Singapore lady who gave birth to her son in Los Angeles and has chosen not to register his birth in Singapore. If the system is more accommodating and the law provides for freedom of choice at age 21, she would have chosen to register his birth in Singapore. Such strict enforcement of NS laws are double aged swords. One child decides for this family of 3 that it is not worth returning. The brain drain is getting worse.

There was no internet years ago, information about NS is not easily accessible. Mindef does not publicize their laws and the media reports are skewed mentioning how NS evaders are punished and not the complete picture of the law. Call and ask Mindef. From what I know, they are evasive and do not really give complete answers. How can ill informed parents make the best choice for their children? Can we really blame the parents?

In my 10 years stay in Los Angeles, I have witnessed only less than 25% of Singapore citizens returning to serve and a number of NS evaders I know go to top US colleges. Why did overseas Singapore families not return? If their sons are made fugitives or going to be fugitives, does it make any sense to reconsider making Singapore their home. Having their sons who are fugitives is painful enough and definitely the harsh words from judgmental Singaporeans further rubbed salt into their wounds.

The law should punish those who are truly guilty. The authority and Singaporeans who serve or have to serve NS must understand our life is not predictable and families move away. Not everything can be planned and it is ridiculous for those to suggest that parents should have known. Do we know who we will marry ahead of time? Do we know where we will work for the rest of our lives? At every stage, we make decisions based on weighing out options for that stage only. In fact, Singaporeans are thinking too much and therefore they aren't having babies. The Singapore government are talking again about having more Singapore babies. There are so many outside of Singapore they don't wish to embrace. Strict laws and punishments instill fear. Humanity wins. (Taiwan has done it differently and enjoy influx of returning Taiwanese).

I hope a group of prominent bloggers could make sense of this NS law and resolve the root problem of brain drain. I have forwarded this email to Mr. Wang, The online citizen and Mr. Seah to shed more light on this matter. Thank you for making your email available. You have my respect for speaking up even when you are not personally affected.

Warmest Regards,

Xiu Xian

PS This email is dedicated to every innocent boy in the last 40 years who became a fugitive.

PS: Dr Huang (8.9.08)- My letter "Rethink needed..." has been published in ST and My Paper so far.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rethink needed on National Service for soon-to-be ex-Singaporeans aka Bugge Bros Part 2 (Letter to Forum)

Dear editor

Introduction- The Bugge brothers saga

The plight of the Norwegian Bugge brothers was highlighted in the Straits Times (Give up citizenship? Brothers must do NS first) and Mr. Bugge (the father) has even written an account of his family’s predicament in an online forum. ( see
The Bugge siblings were sons of a Norwegian father and Singaporean mother and automatically became Singaporean citizens when born here as per the law then.
They spent much of their early childhood and adolescence in Norway and came back to Singapore after being away for 10 years. They then left again for good after their O Levels and have been in Norway since.
They served a 19-month long National Service in Norway and two of them subsequently became professional soldiers.
Catch-22 situation –Renounce citizenship at 21 – but serve NS first
Singapore’s Enlistment Act and immigration laws have put the siblings in an awkward Catch-22 situation. Although they had always intended to renounce Singapore citizenship, they were unable to do so until they are 21 years old and only after enlisting for Singapore’s National Service when they turned 16 ½ years. They risk arrest if they visit their parents here.
Beside the Bugge brothers, there are other bon fide cases where the whole family unit has already migrated but the male children had to stay back to serve their NS only to renounce their Singaporean citizenship when they turn 21.
I personally believe in the necessity of National Service – but only for Singaporeans and for Permanent Residents who consider Singapore home.
Way-out for bona-fide cases
For those caught in the bureaucratic web like the Bugge brothers, may I suggest the following:-
Bona fide cases with clear evidence that the family has already uprooted themselves from Singapore or in complicated cases like the Bugge brothers, a bond eg $75K or half of combined income of parents- whichever is higher, should be paid the moment the boy reaches enlistment age of 16 ½ years. He will not serve NS and when he renounces his citizenship at 21 and has left for his new country, the money is returned and we have gained a friend.
However, if on reaching 21, he changes his mind about renunciation, the bond is forfeited and he still has to serve NS like everyone else.
National Service should be the proud duty of every Singaporean man, not a form of slavery for a soon-to-be ex-Singaporean.
PS: $75K or half of parents’ income, was the amount paid as bond for pre-enlistees who were allowed to complete their university course overseas before NS. This is no longer allowed.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
PS: This letter published in ST and My Paper forum page so far (8.9.08)
Addendum (9.9.8) Bugge Sr's comments on online forum in response to my letter :


Posts: 33
Join Date: Aug 2008

Yesterday, 10:42 PM
#8 Coolbeagle: Let me add a clarification to my correction. (This is becoming a saga in the good old Nordic mould)
We arrive back in Singapore in late November 1990, not as highly paid Expats with free house, free car and free schooling for our kids, but to set up a Marine business in a VERY competitive market. With the rate the International Schools charged we had no choice but to look at local schools, which required the boys to have Student Passes, which again required that I had an Employment Pass. For those who remember those days, this was NOT done over night.
When the school started in early Jan.-91 we had not managed to obtain any of the above. When we eventually was informed that they had the right to hold dual citizenship, and thus did NOT require Student Pass, it was too late for the boys to enroll in any local schools. As said in my last, this did not require them to give up their Norwegian citizenship or passport, they only got a chop in their Norwegian passport. Neither did they relinquish their right to choose at 21, as stated in the Constitution. We did NOT know at that time that MINDEF was more powerful then the Constitution.
The pink I/C came about some time later. They were offered and, in our ignorance, we thought that this had to do with the acceptance that they had a right to both Singapore and Norwegian citizenship, not that it would cause us 15 years of agony, so far.
Please understand that we had deliberately groomed these three boys to be independent minded and prepared them for the day when they were allowed to make up their own mind where they wanted to call home. Consequently were they would have to serve NS.
When kids are 18 he/she is allowed - and encouraged -to stand on their own two feet and to make his own decisions. This may not be according to Confucian philosophy, but it is the way of the Vikings.
When the oldest son decided to return to Norway to study, it was not at all clear which nationality he would choose, hence the request for deferment from NS in Singapore.
If he, and his brothers had chosen to stay in Singapore, whether as Citizens or PR, they would have served NS here, that is not disputed.
As they did not, the dispute is about their obligation to serve the country of which they ARE citizens, and their right not to forced into holding dual citizenship against their will, and against the Law.
They DO NOT seek to come back and "enjoy the benefits of Singapore", only to be allowed to travel to, and via, Singapore like any other Norwegian citizens. They have a large family her, including Grand Parents who are not able to travel to Norway, or even to JB or Bali, to see them.
Is that a crime, punishable with 15 years of agony + 3 years in jail and S$ 10,000 in fine?
Over the last week I have realised that there are hundreds, if not thousands of boys who is, or will become, in the same predicament. Some does not even know they are seen as NS defaulters by MINDEF.
One of these days a major diplomatic crisis will develop around this.
Let's say that two of our sons came through Singapore on the way to some trouble spot in Asia on official UN assignment and as part of a Norwegian contingent. If they should be arrested and put in jail as NS defaulters it could cause quite an incident, especially if foreign press, not too friendly towards Singapore, should be present at the time.
Time for Singapore to "grow up" and not treat everything to do with male citizenship as if it is a NS question. It is not, it is a question of the right and OBLIGATION of dual citizens by birth to choose one and serve that country, with their life, if necessary.

Monday, September 01, 2008

National Service- Letter from father of Bugge brothers

Hi friends,

There has been much written about the predicament of the Bugge brothers. (Read here for original ST article- Give up citizenship? Brothers must do NS first!)

Whether one feels that they should be made to serve National Service in Singapore or not, I think that Mr. Bugge senior should get a fair hearing from us before we judge his sons either way.

In an online comment to Brian Premchand ( or Premchand Brian as the author himself claims as how his name should be) who wrote to the ST Forum ( Laws on NS not all that draconian) , Mr. Bugge writes passionately about his family’s peculiar situation.

Read for yourself and ponder what if anything should to be done about our Enlistment Act and if the Bugge brothers have any defence for their actions. Should the Bugge brothers be made to do National Service twice?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Mr. Bugge's comments:

I am the Father of these three young men. Please let me clarify some facts that did not appear in the original article in S.T., or appear to have registered by most posters.

The case of my sons is NOT first and foremost about whether they should serve NS, and where, it is about the right of those born in Singapore with one parent Singaporean and the other foreign, and there are more and more of them.

In our case our three sons were born here in 1975, 1977 and 1978. They became Norwegian Citizens upon birth as they had to follow Father's Passport under the immigration rules then, at the peak of the "Stop at two / Two is enough" campaign. They have always held Norwegian Passport and chose to retain that at the age of 21. They are residents of Norway and all three has done their NS in Norway, as is their obligation under Norwegian Law.

They were effectively Dual Citizens until they reach the legal age of 21, upon which they HAD to chose one and renounce the other, before they reach the age of 22. Norway and Singapore does not allow dual citizenship after that age unless in special cirumstances. This is per Singapore's Constitution and according to UN Human Rights Charter, and is not disputed.

Today two of them are professional soldiers and are still serving in the Norwegian Army's "Rapid Deployment Battalion", ready to go anywhere their country elect to send them on short notice.

The oldest is a 12 year veteran and Second Lieutenant, the youngest has abt. 10 years service and is now Sargent. They have been in active peace keeping service in Bosnia, Lebanon, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Both are due back in Afghanistan soon, for the 3rd and 4th time respectively. This time to train the Afghan Army.

Are these your typical "defaulters"? No, they are three young men that has been caught up in a web of draconian NS rules that does not take into account the rights dual citizens have to chose, and the obligations they have to their the country who's citizenship they hold. If they had chosen to become Singapore Citizen at 21, they would have done their NS her without fail and may have enrolled in the Army here, who knows.

In case they should come back her, serve their NS and still want to retain their Norwegian Citizenship at the end of it, would they be allowed to do so? No, they would they be stripped of their Singapore Citizenship and possibly deported as "non-desirables". Even punished for having held dual citizenship after the age of 22?

You can say that the NS rules are not draconian, but it affects these three young men adversely in all ways. They are unable to travel to Singapore for a family visit, although they hold only Norwegian passport, and have always done so. If they should seek a job that involves travel to these parts, they may not be able to do so as they risk arrest, if they should land in Singapore.How would this look on a job application? "I can travel to any country in the world, but not to Singapore, because I would be arrested on arrival because I happened to have been born there".

With the present discussion of the negative "brain drain" from Singapore and how to get overseas Singaporeans to return, the first place to look is at the NS "problems" that keeps more and more from returning, especially mixed couples with young sons who are, or will come, in the same situation as our three sons.

But NS is NOT the issue here. The issue is the rights of individuals to chose their own destiny. Any dual citizen who intend to remain in Singapore after the age of 21 would be eligible for the draft, whether he holds Singapore passport or not. If he is residing outside Singapore and does not hold Singapore passport at that age, he should be allowed to return and serve, or renounce his right to a Singapore passport and be free of any NS obligations.To "punish" young men for being born here serves no purpose and is not according to UN Human Rights Charter, or indeed according to the Singapore Constitution, which allow freedom of choice at/after 21 years of age.

I have called Singapore home for about 40 years and understand the need for a strong defense, and the draft to ensure the necessary manpower, with strict Laws and enforcement to ensure that. But the way it is being done now does not serve the purpose. To force reluctant foreign nationals into service is not productive as they may not be around if the need should arise to defend the country, or indeed be willing to.

As for our three sons, they would probably try to get back here and volunteer, if Singapore should be attacked. That is in their character and they are well trained for the task.

Signed off as Captombugge at Mon Sep 01 11.06 SGT 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

No by-election no matter what! Politics Singapore Style!

What People of Bukit Batok say
By Arul John (The New Paper)
Aug 29,2008

THE majority of parliamentarians voted one way, and heartlanders the other.

Do Bukit Batok residents feel the need for a by-election to fill the seat vacated by the late Jurong GRC MP Dr Ong Chit Chung?

Yes, said the majority of 150 who had a clear opinion.

The New Paper asked 150 people in Bukit Batok what they thought. And their views, depending on which side of the parliamentary debate you were on, would either be a vindication or a surprise.

While less than 10 per cent of Parliament felt a by-election was necessary, more than two-thirds of those we polled who were clear in their opinion felt they wanted a by-election (70 out of 100).
The rest - 50 - were not concerned either way.

They were either undecided or did not care.

Retiree S K Koh, who is in his 60s, said: 'If Malaysia could have a by-election, why can't we? Besides, it would show the democratic process here.'

Lecturer David Koh, 48, was one of those who felt the need for someone to focus on the constituency's needs. 'In the coming years, the future will be uncertain.

'We need a dedicated MP for Bukit Batok.'

Engineering student Alvin Tan, 30, said: 'Currently, Parliament is short of one seat. And without Dr Ong, the other four MPs have to share the workload.

'It's better to have somebody take over properly, and it would be even better if it's someone who has been working closely with Dr Ong and knows the area better.'

Among those who felt they could do without a by-election was student Muhammad Afiq, 18. 'Having a by-election and all that campaigning will be a waste of time and resources.

'It would be better if Parliament or the Cabinet chooses a replacement for DrOng.'

Housewife Madam Jay Norman, 61, said: 'One of the other MPs in the GRC can be the MP for Bukit Batok as he or she knows the constituency well already.'

Entrepreneur David Foo, 58, summed up the views of those who felt it wasn't a priority. 'It does not matter whether we have a by-election or not. We lost a good MP when Dr Ong died and we miss him but life still goes on.

'What is important is that Bukit Batok is still well-managed.'

Housewife Madam S K Tan, 48, said: 'I did not know the late MP well, so I have no opinions about a by-election.'

Additional reporting by Melissa Tan, newsroom intern and Catherine Lim, teacher on attachment

My comments:

Hi Friends,

TOC (The has said it.

Now one of MSM’s papers, The New Paper has also said it too.

That a significant number of people in Bukit Batok think that it is in their best interest to have a by-election.

The point about the two polls is...

Of course, any student who has done Statistics 101 will know that these two simple polls will not stand the scrutiny of statistical analysis as the design of the surveys leaves much to be desired.

But the point is that it is not as cut and dry as suggested by Mdm Halimah (Jurong GRC MP) who said that she was assured by her grassroot leaders that no resident in Bukit Batok has asked about a by-election. Really?

Grassroot organizations not acting as credible “eyes and ears” of government?

Why am I not surprised by these grassroot leaders' reactions? If simple polls like these show up not insignificant (sorry to use statistics phraseology) proportions of populations wanting by-elections but grassroot leaders saying otherwise- does it not just show how far removed these “eyes and ears” of the government are from the ground? Or do they just tell the PAP MP's what the latter want to hear?

Persuasive PM does not move me..

PM managed to move a Nominated MP (Bannerjee) into changing his vote. PM’s argument is that Singapore’s election system has changed ( some say "bastardised") from the Westminster system – which according to PM is MP-centric , to ours which is party-centric.

If that is the case, what say him that we just change to a system of party list where parties just draw up lists (according to party seniority) and the number of seats won would be according to percentage of votes obtained This would be in effect the Proportional Representation (PR) which the PAP so dreaded.

The parties can then allocate number of MP’s according to their own internal agenda. ( eg PAP No. 1 MM Lee (I don't know who No.2 is) etc and WP No.1 LTK, No2. Sylvia Lim etc). Those constituencies who vote majority for a certain party will get that party’s MP(s) and the winning party then gets to decide who seats where. (Bukit Batok would not need an MP as the present situation has already proven that there is actually an excess to requirement!).

My deep concern

I am gravely concerned that even a very reasonable motion by NMP’s Prof Thio and Dr. Loo was categorically dismissed. Even if more than half of a GRC’s MP’s have quit or if the only minority GRC MP has left – the PAP “die die” also will not have a by-election? So minority representation is not a big deal after all?

So does being party-centric mean that as PAP had won the majority of votes for Singapore, it has heaven’s mandate to do as it pleases? Really?

Why do I get the impression that PAP just cares about control and power?

I am feeling more than a bit disgusted!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Table Tennis: STTA president's puzzling action

S'pore's table tennis team manager told to leave ( Sun, Aug 24, 2008The Straits Times)
Fate of head coach hangs in balance.

In a shock announcement, Singapore Table Tennis Association president Lee Bee Wah told The Sunday Times yesterday that the services of team manager Antony Lee are not needed anymore.

Some view as not only too rash but also harsh, is sure to put a dampener on the team's scheduled celebrations when they arrive back in Singapore tomorrow.

Ms Lee, who took over as STTA president, her first foray into sports, said: 'I have a new team and will have a new CEO and technical director. It is best that the manager is chosen by them. Antony is welcome to apply for the position when we ask for applications.' But a clearly upset Mr Lee, 39, did not take kindly to the news.

Dear Friends,

Another STTA president- another controversy!

I have written the following to Forum page editors

To the editor:

Dear Editor,

Many in Singapore are shocked at this seemingly rash act by the new Singapore Table Tennis Association president Lee Bee Wah.

Ms Lee, who according to the mainstream media, was just appointed last month in “her first foray into sports” is also a PAP MP.

Singapore just won second Olympic medal in 48 years

Singapore has just won its long overdue second Olympics medal after a hiatus of 48 years. This medal was the culmination of calculated government and STTA policies as well as the hard work of players and support staff, which included team manager Antony Lee and head coach Liu Guodong.

All of Singapore was looking forward to welcoming back these heroes and heroines.

Is STTA president’s action justified?

Notwithstanding the “Gao Ning incident” where no coach was present at Gao Ning’s match, is Ms Lee’s action justified?

We wait with bated breath to hear for ourselves why such drastic action has to be taken that could not even wait for a proper inquiry in Singapore. The alleged infraction must have been extremely grave to warrant immediate dismissal in Beijing!

Project 0812 chairman Ng Ser Miang is not the only person puzzled- the whole of Singapore is too!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My thoughts on that Olympic Silver and that Political Liberalization Speech.

Hi Friends,

Just touched down from Down Under.

I only got to know that our girls were in the Table Tennis final match on Sunday itself!

I have no excuse at all not knowing as there was internet at the hotel’s business-centre and even if I did not want to spend the Aus $5 / half hour, there was always the internet cafĂ© 100 metres down the street.

However after vineyard-hopping around the Barossa countryside, we were pleasantly surprised that the whole China-Singapore match was shown on TV. So there we were, in a quaint and cozy Tanunda cottage, cheering for Singapore and wondering if we had too much of the Wolf Blass reisling or Peter Lehmann’s shiraz.

That Table Tennis Olympic Silver

The Germans have done it- so have the Americans. Almost everyone is using athletes that are not home-born.

Before the diaspora of China’s ping pong talents to the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania, there was Martina and Monica.

Martina Navratilova was born Czechoslovakian but later became an American tennis icon. Monica “grunter” Seles, was from Yugoslovakia but represented USA when she migrated there. The reasons for migration for each of these athletes are varied and different and ranges from cold war political asylum to economic pragmatism where Chinese athletes who feel that they do not have any realistic chance of being on the China’s A team left for places like Singapore in search of greener pastures.

In my mind, so long as a foreign athlete has taken Singaporean citizenship, I will root for him/her to bring honours to Singapore. It matters not if this is ex-Briton Bennett of our football team or China's Li Jia Wei of ping pong. They will be deemed worthy of my cheer.

It also matters not if the athlete came 10 years ago or 10 days ago, so long as he/she has fulfilled the conditions for national representation, it is not an issue with me.

Ex- Brazilian Alex in Japan’s football team? Ex-Kenyan wearing Danish colours? No worries- Let the Games begin!

That National Day Rally speech by PM Lee

I welcome further political liberalization as announced by PM, although they are mere baby-steps. Political videos on the net and the right to demonstrate are bugbears of many a civil and political activist.

We should see this as a small victory won and look forward to further and more important victories eg dismantling of GRC’s and bringing down to earth the stratospheric Ministers’ salaries!

How will opposition parties respond?

If they still insist that demonstrating anytime and anywhere is their God-given right and ignore this opportunity given them at Hong Lim Park, neutral observers would be justified to think that these political activists are not really quibbling about the right to demonstrate but just want to break the law ( or worse-they just want to make trouble).

This does not prevent anyone from using Hong Lim as a platform for even further liberalisations.

So the ball is in our courts now.

Want to show commitment to your favourite political cause and get some publicity? See you at Hong Lim!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

NB: Amongst teams beaten by China and Singapore's women teams enroute to the final match, the following other teams had players with Chinese names:

USA: Gao Jun;Wang Chen;Huang Xi
Netherlands:Li Jiao;Li Jie
South Korea: Dang Ye Seo
Dominican Republic:Qian Lian;Wu Xue
Austria:Li Qingbing;Liu Jia
Hong Kong:Tie Yana;Lin Ling;Lau Sui Fei

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Happy 43rd National Day!

Dear Singaporeans and friends,

I am proud to be a Singaporean.

May Singapore continue to advance in all spheres of its national life.

It may be in small baby-steps or in leaps and bounds.

I am there to see that it continues.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My response to Shriniwas Rai's letter about the need for political changes

How we are governed: Let's consider changes (ST Forum 5 Aug 08)

THE recent discussion in the press on democracy and the system of government in Singapore has generated some public interest. It is encouraging that the political leadership is prepared to accept some changes, in particular comments by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at National Day celebrations in Hougang. I appeal to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues to consider some of them.

The Westminster form of government is well established in Singapore, but to suit local needs it may have to go through changes. We have made some changes, such as giving the President power over reserves.

Although nearly one-quarter of the population votes for the opposition at each general election, the opposition failed to achieve any significant presence in Parliament. Granted that proportional representation is not ideal, we can marry the Westminster and proportional representation system in Singapore. Opposition parties that secure more than 15 per cent of votes in the general election could be given non-constituency members' seats. The maximum could be set at nine.

The Nominated MP (NMP) system has to be adopted by every new parliament after the general election. This was done by SM Goh to accommodate criticism of the NMP system. The time has come for Parliament to decide whether the system should become permanent. We should modify and allow a full term of five years instead of the present 2-1/2 years. A proviso that
NMPs should not serve more than one term should be entrenched.

Group representation constituencies (GRCs) were introduced to bring about multiracialism and minority representation in Parliament. The system began with a small GRC but now more half of Singapore is under GRCs. From three-member GRCs, we now have six-member GRCs. We should look into this and introduce two-member GRCs. This will ensure multiracialism.
We should also amend the law to reduce the voting age to 18, which is the practice in many other countries. I would like to believe our young are more mature and responsible than was the case 50 years ago.

We have a clean system of government, but we cannot ensure this will remain in years to come. In many other countries, popular mandates have been used to undermine the political system. It is therefore suggested that an independent election commission be set up.
Finally, constitutions are not written in stone. They are living institutions with their own strengths and weaknesses. We should be prepared for change, if it will improve the system.

Shriniwas Rai

My response:

Hi friends,

Mr. Shriniwas Rai is a well-known lawyer and an ex-Nominated MP and his letter today is much welcomed.

Although his letter to the forum contains much substance it is couched in mild and diplomatic phrases. Maybe it is just the cut of the editor’s scissors?

My response is as follows:

1.I am not as optimistic that what SM Goh has in mind is further liberalization. More likely SM Goh wants to enlarge GRC’s rather than reduce it. He has also confirmed that grassroot organizations under the People’s Association are part of the PAP’s tentacles and are definitely not apolitical.

2. I am for redressing the discrepancy between the amount of support that opposition parties get at the polls and the number of seats actually awarded to them. Yes some kind of hybrid of First-past-the-post and Proportional Representation (PR) can be considered. I am against total PR as this works for unstable governments. All of us know that smart money of capitalists (which we still depend on) loves stability ( yes including the PAP’s monopoly- they love monopolies!)

3.I prefer the abolition of GRC’s but will rather have 2-member GRC’s than 10-member GRC’s anytime! Let us just abolish GRC’s and not be satisfied with half measures. About the issue of minority MP’s- If on election night there are less than the desired X number of minorities, the best losing minority candidates would be considered duly elected.

4.Nominated MP’s should not be allowed to just walk into parliament. They should be elected as Independent MP’s on election day ( with no geographical constituency).

5.I totally agree on the need for an independent Election Commission. The government of the day should not just be fair but be “seen to be fair”. What better way than to have a Election Commission under Presidential purview headed by a prominent non-partisan Singaporean. This will once and for all remove all allegations of gerry-mandering and of pork-belly politics.

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

Friday, August 01, 2008

Our Nurses- Singapore's Unsung Heroes

IN SINGAPORE’S quest to be a regional medical hub, we often overlook and underestimate the
contribution of a vital part of the health-care industry – nurses.

As we celebrate Nurses’ Day today, I would like to thank our men and women nurses working in
our hospitals and clinics.

They toil day and night –often missing meals – and frequently have to tolerate abuse from patients and their relatives, as well as (I am ashamed to say this) their doctor colleagues sometimes.

No matter whether you come from an ASEAN country or from afar, we thank you for looking after our loved ones and our countrymen.

All of you , including my mother, who is a retired nurse, are worthy successors of Florence Nightingale- the Lady of the Lamp.

Happy Nurses’ Day!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: This letter was published in My Paper

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why Bukit Batok needs a by-election: Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

We extend our condolences to the family of the late Dr. Ong Chit Chung. He has served his constituency of Bukit Batok diligently and with honor.

However the untimely demise of Dr. Ong has left a vacuum in the office of the MP of Bukit Batok-one that his successor will find difficult to fill.

Like Dr. Ong, the next MP of Bukit Batok must have the mandate of the constituents or else his or her work would lack legitimacy. Legitimacy is absolutely crucial in a challenging economic climate where tough but necessary decisions need be taken even at the ward level. An elected MP’s moral authority would more likely than not help him shepherd his residents through the stormy days ahead. An unelected political appointee would have to answer residents who say, “ Why must I listen to you? Did I elect you?”

To leave the seat vacant and to share Dr. Ong’s present responsibilities amongst the neighboring PAP MP’s would also be a mistake. It belittles Dr. Ong’s hard work and sends the unintended message that his work is not important and that life carries on even without an MP at Bukit Batok!

For the sake of the residents of Bukit Batok, a by-election should be held soon!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Link: 1. Article 14's post
2. Lush garden's post

PS: Published in Straits Times and My Paper

Monday, July 14, 2008

Response to Minister Gan on the Lowly-waged worker- A letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

Response to Acting MOM Minister Gan

I would like to respond to what Acting Manpower Minister has said in a recent interview with the local media (Growth slowing, but there will still be new jobs-ST July 10 2008) about the plight of the low-wage workers.

As he rightly said, job creation is “not just a numbers game”.

Let me suggest that it is about helping real Singaporeans find real jobs that can enable them make ends meet without having to work multiple part-time jobs or working a full-time job and yet having to ask for government handouts.

Wages at the bottom remained stagnant for past 10 years

It is clear that the present system is not working out for the Singaporean lowly-educated low-waged worker as a recent media report (Wages rose but not for those at the bottom ST 1 July 08) showed that the wages for this group had remained stagnant for the past 10 years! The lowly-skilled wages have entered a race to the bottom and if left alone will lead to further hopelessness and despondency for these Singaporeans.

These workers have the unenviable task of competing for lowly-skilled jobs with other lowly-skilled foreign workers. However these foreigners have the advantage of youth (and many of our lowly-skilled are middle-aged or older) and a currency exchange that is favorable to them. They can “bite the bullet” for a few years, earn $600-800/month, share a flat with many others and yet be able to repatriate reasonable amounts of money home making their journey here economically worthwhile.

Foreigners are positive for Singapore but…

I am not against foreigners. We are an immigrant people and I believe that having foreigners here has added diversity and vibrancy to many sectors of our society. I am happier still when they decide to permanently sink their roots here by taking up Singapore citizenship and help us make Singapore a better place.

Responsibility of government and my suggestions

However, it is the job of every government to take care of its own citizens first, especially those of the lower income strata.

May I humbly suggest:

1. Stricter enforcement of the local-foreign worker ratio to ensure that companies are not cheating?

2. Consider a Minimal Wage for certain sectors where locals may conceivably work in eg Service industry / F&B. We know Singaporeans will not work in construction.

3. Increase handouts for these Singaporeans in the forms of actual cash and not just into their CPF.

I know there is no perfect solution and each option has its problems, eg Minimal wages may sometimes lead to unemployment or inflation, but these Singaporeans need help and need it fast.

Singapore’s present success is built in no small measure on the backs of the Singaporean blue-collar worker. It is time they expect something in return. Singapore must help them, perhaps even at the expense of the economy.

We must leave no man behind!

Sincerely yours,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Link: MrBiao has written on this also (Singapore policy makers living in the clouds)

NB: Can some kind soul show me where to get the digital copy of Minister Gan's interview? I don't subscribe to the ST online. I will append it to the post and it will be more meaningful esply for those readers who have not read the interview.

PS: Not published

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Questions for the Workers' Party

11.7.08 The Workers' Party's response

Hi Dr Huang,

Thank you for your email and our apology for the late response. We hope our terse reply does address some of your concerns. The questions you highlighted are interesting food for thought. We hope that you can join us someday when such topics are raised again at one of our public conferences.

On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 8:40 PM, S C Huang wrote:

1. In your Manifesto , it is stated in Section 1 Government & Civil Liberties:Item D. 4. Peaceful demonstrations shall be allowed subject to prior notification to the police to ensure minimum disruption to traffic and public converuence (typo ?convenience).

My question: Do you sanction/advocate civil disobedience by participation of peaceful demonstrations if the Home Ministry continues its recalcitrant action of never ever allowing any peaceful gatherings of more than 4 persons? Should unjust laws be ever broken?

Civil disobedience is just one of the ways to challenge unjust laws. The Workers' Party (WP) believes the best method to challenge unjust laws in this society is through the ballot.We view any significant inroad made by WP in an election as a brave act of 'civil disobedience' by the people against a government they thought has enacted one too many unjust laws.

2. In Section 1 E, it is also stated :1. Ministers should be rewarded fairly and equitably for their contribution to the country.2. Ministers' remuneration should be benchmarked internationally against the political office of developed countries. Their remuneration should also take into account all associated benefits (e.g. benefits-in-kind) under the total remuneration or total employment costs ("TEC").

My question: In WP's opinion, what is fair and equitable as far as Ministers' remuneration is concerned ? (Please be specific)

We do not have a specific answer to your question but at the last GE, WP suggested a formula to peg the Ministers' salary increments to the lowest 20% of the workforce with a multiple of 80 or 100 times. That way, when the salaries of the low wage earners move up, the salaries of the Ministers will move in tandem.If you are interested to read the debate in Parliament over this issue, please click the link below:-

Josephine Teo's response:,SALARI&hlWords=%20bottom%20lowest%2020%20&hlTitle=&queryOption=1&ref=


Koh Choong Yong, Webmaster, WP

Png Eng Huat, Deputy Webmaster, WP

My Original post on 2.7.08

Hi Friends,

I remember one of the government Ministers (?Dr. Ng Eng Hen) chiding a Workers’ Party MP ( ?Sylvia Lim) for taking the easy way out whenever she was questioned about her party’s stand on certain public issues.

She would say ,” It is written in the WP’s Manifesto” or something to that effect. She probably wanted to also say, “ You go and read it yourself, you lazy man, you” but because it was unparliamentary to call another member of the august chamber “lazy”, she did not. ( I am just trying to read her complex mind- I am be wrong). She could have wanted to say something worse.

Anyway, the election of WP’s latest Central Executive Committee yesterday, somehow attracted me to their website.

I normally do not go to WP’s website as it is seldom updated and also terribly dry and unexciting. Unlike SDP’s website, which is always full of “brimstone and fire” kind of speeches and articles, and sometimes even almost move me to tears.

Before I digress further and turn off even more of my already dwindling readership, let me just say that I think I know why Sylvia Lim (SL) finds it convenient to tell the Minister to go and read the Manifesto himself! Because there is actually quite a lot of well-thought material in the Manifesto! And written in plain non-legalese English too! My only criticism is that much of the stuff is rather generic and lacks specifics. Also 2 years have passed and the Manifesto is becoming rather dated. Click here for the Workers' Party Manifesto 2006

However, for the purpose of public education, I shall ask the WP some questions pertaining to the Manifesto 2006.

I shall just confine my questions to Section 1 Government & Civil Liberties. Perhaps some other bloke will do the next section ( or I will ).

Here goes,

Hi WP,

1. In your Manifesto , it is stated in Section 1 Government & Civil Liberties:

Item D. 4. Peaceful demonstrations shall be allowed subject to prior notification to the police to ensure minimum disruption to traffic and public converuence (typo ?convenience).

My question: Do you sanction/advocate civil disobedience by participation of peaceful demonstrations if the Home Ministry continues its recalcitrant action of never ever allowing any peaceful gatherings of more than 4 persons? Should unjust laws be ever broken?

2. In Section 1 E, it is also stated :

1. Ministers should be rewarded fairly and equitably for their contribution to the country.

2. Ministers' remuneration should be benchmarked internationally against the political office of developed countries. Their remuneration should also take into account all associated benefits (e.g. benefits-in-kind) under the total remuneration or total employment costs ("TEC").

My question: In WP’s opinion, what is fair and equitable as far as Ministers’ remuneration is concerned ? (Please be specific)

Thank you for your indulgence,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

cc: Workers' Party's Website

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Leaving no one behind!

Hi Friends,

The statement below should not surprise anyone.

It says,” But for the lowest-paid group of cleaners, labourers and related workers, the picture is bleak.

Their wages have remained stagnant for 10 years, unlike other groups such as …”

Being in a privileged profession, I am almost insulated from the sufferings of the lowest strata of our society.

Try as I might, I do not think that I truly understand the predicament of the fellow citizens whose daily life is a struggle of looking for permanent jobs that help them pay their rents/mortgages, pay for their children’s education as well as leaving some surplus for some small luxuries.

1.Will minimum wages help?

2.For the lower income jobs ( eg less than $1500/mth), will it help if MOM applies a more stringent local-foreigner ratio? Or even allow foreigners in only for higher value-added jobs where there is shortage of such skilled workers in Singaporeans?

3. Or should we pressurize the government to give more hand-outs for these poorer and less-employable Singaporeans? How to discourage free-loaders and “crutch” mentality?

Singaporeans, we are in this boat together. At this moment, the PAP is steering the boat. How do we ensure that it is going in the direction that we want to go? And that all of us will arrive in one piece- preferably better off than when we first left?

And that no man is left behind?

Tough questions demand tough solutions!


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Wages rose but not for those at the bottom (Straits Times 1 July 08)

3.8% growth last year after inflation widens income gap
By Clarissa Oon

THE strong economy and tight labour market have boosted the pay of Singapore workers - but only barely, owing to higher inflation.

Wages rose last year by 5.9 per cent - a seven-year high - from 4.5 per cent in 2006.
However, after adjusting for inflation, the increase was 3.8 per cent, said the Manpower Ministry's annual report on wages released yesterday.

But for the lowest-paid group of cleaners, labourers and related workers, the picture is bleak.
Their wages have remained stagnant for 10 years, unlike other groups
such as managers, professionals, sales and service workers, as well as plant and machine operators.

Last year, managers - the best-paid group - earned 4.86 times more than cleaners and labourers. The gap has widened in 10 years. It was 4.13 times in 1997.

Following the service sector's buoyant growth, sales and service workers are the best-paid among lower-skilled and blue-collar groups. Their pay is double that of cleaners and labourers.
The ministry's Report On Wages In Singapore surveyed 216,270 full-time workers in 2,909 companies.

The findings show the top earners are specialised surgeons ($22,196), followed by managing directors ($15,200) and general surgeons ($13,781).

Occupations in the bottom 10 per cent include private security guards ($1,278) and hospital attendants ($1,260), while cleaners, food and drink stall assistants as well as labourers were paid around $750 to $800.

Apart from the widening wage gap, the other piece of bad news is the decline in the productivity of workers. It fell 0.9 per cent last year after experiencing slowing growth in the previous two years.

From the viewpoint of companies, this means 'labour costs are growing faster than productivity', said Mr Kwan Chee Wei, chief human resources officer of logistics and shipping company IMC Corp.

Labour analysts and economists blamed the slide on employers stepping up their hiring of cheaper foreign workers, instead of spending money on retraining staff.

'It's an easy way out to keep costs down. We see it especially in the lower-skilled segment of the workforce,' said Mr Chua Hak Bin, strategist for Deutsche Bank's private wealth management.

He said the stagnant wages of the poorest among the lower-skilled are 'unlikely to go away anytime soon'.

The wage gap is even more acute among older workers.

Managers in their 40s appear to be making top dollar. Those aged between 40 and 44 made nearly twice that of managers aged 25 to 29.

However, growing older seems to work against lower-skilled and blue-collar workers owing to the physical nature of their jobs. Their wages rose only slightly and peaked early in their 30s.
To ease the pain for low-wage workers above age 35, the Government has been giving them payouts under the Workfare Income Supplement scheme.

Companies were also urged by the National Wages Council to give a one-off inflation bonus amid rising prices. Inflation is running at a 26-year high of 6.6 per cent.

However, analysts are not optimistic that the real earnings of low-wage workers can keep up.
'At the lower end (of the job market), increments are just going to be slightly ahead of inflation,' said Mr Kwan.

He added that 'the upper end is where competition for talent will drive up salaries, especially in growth sectors like hospitality and leisure'.

Economists say the Government is now juggling the twin challenges of growing the economy while trying to improve the average Singaporean's standard of living.

'It is going to have to balance the need for foreign workers - to cope with increasing labour demand - and the resulting downward pressure on residents' wages,' said Mr Chua.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Organ trading: Peril of Slippery Slope and Ethics Committee's Impossible Tasks

Hi Friends,

I wrote the following letter to the forum pages of our MSM (Mainstream Media).

Addendum (1.7.08): The letter has been printed in all the 3 papers that I sent to. But in one of them, the letter is almost unrecognizable ( but better than nothing).It is mostly unedited in the other two (Actually totally unedited in Today's version).

Let me state that I am active in my hospital's committees- including the Medical Advisory Board ( elected) but I am not on the Ethics Committee of my hospital.

I have written some posts on Organ Trading and HOTA (Human Organ Trading Act) :

1. Organ trading- What next? Is there nothing sacrosanct?
2. Brain death case at SGH (HOTA)
3. Mystery of crooked undertakers and Alistair Cooke



June 29, 2008

Dear editor,

I wish to make two points about Organ Trading.

1.Organ trading is dehumanising and problem of the “slippery slope”

I am opposed in principle to Organ Trading as to legalize the sale of human organs will inevitably put Singapore’s healthcare system on the slippery slope down to a level where we become less human. There are already some who argue that so long as there is a willing seller and willing buyer, the market should be left to sort itself out.

Although narcotics and other illegal drugs also have such a scenario, we do not seek to decriminalise them nor campaign to allow narcotics trading do we?

The “slippery slope” arguments also forces us to consider a scenario where we may start with trading of kidneys and livers now but will then slide down to include hearts and brains in the future. Although the sale of a human heart will entail the death of the donor, public consensus may by then be that as different people have different usefulness for society, it is then not immoral that the less economically productive should make the ultimate sacrifice ( with or even without payment).

It may seem unthinkable now but once we accept that the human being and his organs are mere commodities to be traded like meat in the market, it becomes less difficult to imagine Singapore in the future as a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where “Alpha humans” are treasured and “Epsilon humans” are expendable.

2. Ethics committees’ impossible job- MOH should take over policing of organ trading

In my opinion, any organ donation other than by a close family member (spouse/parent/children) should always be suspect. Why should any distant relative be so altruistic as to donate his kidney at great surgical risk to himself if there is no financial gain? I have even heard of a military general claiming that his humble private soldier is willing to voluntarily donate his kidney out of respect for the general!

The committee members are volunteers and are not professional sleuths. The two doctors and one layman can only trust their instincts whether to accept the accounts told to them by the donor and organ recipient. If these latter two are well coached and well-armed with affidavits and diagrams of family trees, short of going to remote towns and villages in South Asia or Indonesia, the ethics committee would just have to clear the transplant!

I suggest that the responsibility of detecting organ trading is too onerous for the hospital’s ethics committee. MOH itself should take over this function as it has more resources at its disposal and only after organ trading has been excluded by MOH’s committee should the hospital’s ethics committee convene and then only to do what these doctors have been trained to do- to vet the medical indications for transplant and other such medical-related issues.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

cc: Ministry of Health

PS: Published in Straits Times; Today; My Paper. No reply from MOH