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 ( ..eh 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 http://comment.straitstimes.com/showthread.php?t=13302)
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