Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Roy Ngerng Defamation Suit: What it really means ....

Roy Ngerng court case PM Lee

In 2 day's time, on 1 July 2015, CPF activist Roy Ngerng will have his day in court. In accordance with Singapore law, Roy will be given the opportunity to question Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over the PM's defamation suit of him. Opposition supporters will definitely cheer this as a win for Roy but, on the contrary, it is a loss. Allow me to explain why ...

#1: Free and Transparent Government. The fact that a normal citizen can face his accuser (who happens to be the Prime Minister of the day) demonstrates that no one is above the law. No one, not even the Prime Minister, can ignore the law of the land and due process will be served. If this is not a free and transparent Government, I don't know what is. Even in the United States, the bastion of democracy, ex-President Bill Clinton did not stand trial for his alleged indiscretions with regards to Monica Lewinsky.

#2: Defamation Suits are "standard practice" to protect one's reputation. PM Lee and the Ministers are not the only ones to use defamation suits, or the threat of suits, to defend their name and reputation. In recent months, opposition activists like Ravi Philemon, Goh Meng Seng and even Vincent Law have in one form or another used the threat of legal actions to get clear their name. If free speech indeed comes with no limits, how do these opposition activists justify their own use of the law for such purposes?

#3: Abuse of process for self-promotion. As Roy Ngerng has already been found guilty by the Court for defamation, Roy's decision to question PM Lee Hsien Loong is clearly a ploy for his own self-promotion. After all, which political activists in Singapore can claim to have questioned the Prime Minister. In our assessment, Roy is desperately hoping to regain loss support after his heckling of special needs children at Hong Lim Park. Since that incident, many Singaporeans have seen Roy for the true person that he is and have stopped supporting him. In fact, despite promises, Roy Ngerng has to date not given a full accounting of the crowd sourced defence fund he has raised.

In short, we feel that while 1st July 2015 is a sad day for Singapore as the Prime Minister will need to face a misguided activist, we are hopeful that this Court hearing will demonstrate to all Singaporeans and political observers that Singapore is a true democracy.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Amos Yee, Free Speech and Singapore's Sovereignty

Besides the concept of free speech, the on-going court case Amos Yee has also surfaced the issue of Singapore's sovereignty.

Amos Yee Singapore General Election 2015

Outsiders like the United Nations and International Human Rights Groups based overseas have started to lobby for Amos' release. What many have failed to realize, or choose to ignore, is that Amos' predicament is a direct result of his own actions. The court was willing to deal with Amos as a child and offer him probation, but Amos himself rejected the offer of probation and proceeded to deliberately challenge the judiciary. As a system, no Court (in any country) can allow an individual to challenge it without consequences, as allowing an individual to openly defy court orders would lead to anarchy.

As for the issue of sovereignty, we find it disappointing that Singaporeans would tell our Government to cave in to the demands of the UN. Singapore is a sovereign country and we cannot allow our laws to be determined by others. If we bowed to outside pressure to change our way of life to what others think is the "correct" way of life, where do we draw the line. How do we know that the actions of these organizations is done in the best interest of Singapore or Singaporeans? At the end of the day, Singaporeans must decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. Whatever we decide, we must then answer for it as a country.

Government has repeatedly toed the line that Singaporeans determine their own future. The fact that Singaporeans like Chee Soon Juan and Roy Ngerng are free to go overseas to critize Singapore is proof that the Government allows Singaporeans to do this. We always find it ironic that Roy Ngerng would claim that there is no freedom of speech in Singapore, and yet he repeatedly says this in public. If indeed there was no freedom of speech, why is Roy free and able to continue saying what he is saying?

The Singapore General Election 2016 is just around the corner. If Singaporeans truly believe that this is not the Government they want, then that is when they can exercise their right. Until then, we believe that Singaporeans need to rally around their own Government and tell outsiders to stop interfering in our domestic affairs.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Top 3 Dirty Tricks of Opposition Supporters

As the battle for hearts and minds heat up in the run-up to General Elections 2016, Singapore opposition supporters are waging "guerrilla warfare" against the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP).

general elections 2016

Leveraging on the electorate's short memory, the use of headline messaging and hot button issues, opposition supporters are seeking to undermine the Government by portraying them as out of touch, high-handed and incompetent. To do this, opposition supporters use one or a combination of the following three tactics:
#1 Rehash Old News. Whenever there is no "bad news" about the Government, opposition supportes will dig-up old news and rehash them as "breaking news". As most readers on social media only read the headlines, the fact that the incident happened several years ago oftern goes unnoticed. If a particularly emotive topic is chosen, this old news will be shared and will go viral. In this instance, while the Government has done no wrong, the perception that they have is perpetuated.
#2: Tell Half-Truths. A second tactic of opposition supporters is to tell half-truths. In this instance, opposition supporters will tell selective parts of an incident so as to let the reader believe that the Government is incompetent. One common half-truth that the opposition is stilll perpetuating is that the Temasek Holding lost $40 billion in 2009. What they fail to tell you is that that was during the global financial crisis where every company lost money. More importantly, they leave out the fact that Temasek Holdings has since recovered from the loss and gone on to make substantial profits.
#3 Spread Lie. The third tactic of the opposition supporters is to tell lies to make the Government look bad. One recent incident was related to the Government's SG50 initiative to give Singapore Seniors a $50 top-up of the EZ-Link card. While it was widely publicized that the top-up would begin on 12 June 2015 and that Seniors had up to one and a half years to redeem the top-up, opposition supporters deliberately started a SMS campaign on 9 June 2015 telling Seniors that they had only one day to top-up their cards. Senior were told to rush down today or else they would not get the top-up.
Sadly, to the less informed, these top three dirty tricks used by opposition supporters work. In today's environment where Singaporeans are overloaded with information, people only glance at the headlines and jump to conclusions. We hope that by educating Singaporeans on the tricks used by opposition supporters, Singaporeans will not fall prey to these misinformation and will vote wisely at GE2016

Friday, 19 June 2015

Why Worker’s Party MPs Cannot be Grassroots Advisors

Why Members of the Worker’s Party Cannot be Grassroots Advisors
why opposition mps are not grassroot advisors

As Singapore celebrates S50, the distribution of the NDP Funpack via the Grassroots Organizations and their appointed Grassroots Advisors have been played up by the opposition for the apparent inconsistency.
Opposition supporters are arguing that the elected Member of Parliament (in this case the Worker’s Party) should be the one distributing the Funpacks and not the Government appointed Grassroots Advisors.
To understand the issue better, we need to understand the 3 reasons opposition parties cannot logically be appointed Grassroots Advisors:
1. Members of Parliament (MP) are elected to represent the people to the Government. Not the other way around. Hence, the distribution of Government benefits like the NDP Funpack, public transport subsidies, pioneer generation subsidies is not the role of the MP.
2. Fundamental to the issue, is that opposition MPs were elected on a platform where they disagree with Government policies (to a greater or lesser extent). It is therefore inconsistent to appoint them (or for them to agree to be appointed as Advisors to local grassroots organizations) to carry out and help implement the Government’s policies.
3. The People’s Association is part of the civil service and, like their counterparts in Ministries or statutory boards like MND, do not serve any party. These civil servants are however duty bound to carry out the implementation of Government policies. The PA’s role includes communicating Government policies to residents, encouraging volunteerism, delivering selected services and helping the less privileged to name a few. These are all Government functions, and PA has full time personnel and also works with volunteers. To ensure that the Government’s messages and policies are properly communicated and implemented, the Government of the day appoints volunteers to be Advisors for these functions. The Advisor must therefore be someone the Government knows will help in communicating and implementing the Government’s policies. Each elected govt has the task of doing so.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Hypocrisy of TOC and the Worker's Party

The Hypocrisy of TOC by Dennis Theseira

The TOC has made it clear that it is a mouthpiece for the WP. It has established its bias towards the men in blue to the extent that it is no longer objective or rational in its reportage.

For instance, TOC published an article <http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2011/05/a-conflict-of-interest/>  on May 13 2011 that raised the issue of then-PAP run Aljunied Town Council’s General Manager Mr Jeffrey Chua and his concurrent Managing Directorship of CPG Facilities Management, which was the managing agent for the town council then.

He raises these questions.

“Suppose Mr Chua, the Managing Director of CPG Facilities Management asked for a higher management fee, in order to deal with the rise in the foreign workers’ levy,  would Mr Chua the general manager of Aljunied Town Council grant that request?

If the town upkeep is poor, and HDB blocks are dirty, would Mr Chua the general manager of Aljunied Town Council replace himself as the managing agent?

It appears that there is a conflict of interest in Mr Chua’s roles.  If he receives a stipend or salary from both organizations, on whose behalf would he act?  If he only receives a salary from CPG Facilities Management, how can he then act in the interest of the residents of Aljunied GRC?”

All these were largely hypothetical questions for the PAP town council – the finances were clear, accounts audited, and estate upkeep satisfactory. But the recent AHPETC debacle shows that the questions occur in real life and more severely for the WP-run town council.

1.       AHPETC is run by husband and wife team who owns the managing agent. There is no issue that they are completely conflicted – their private profits against the public interest.

2.       This conflict can be seen in the way that the town council has tried to charge hawkers for ceiling cleanings to cut costs, to hold illegal trade fairs to increase their revenues. Where is the money going? TOC does not ask.

3.       The issue of the DBSS flats shows that the town upkeep is poor, and the managing agent is not doing its job, despite collecting $3.3 million in S and C each month.

4.       Meantime, the operating surplus that the town council used to have $3 million each month, has turned into a $700,000 deficit. The managing agent is paid $1.6 million more every year, compared to other MAs.

5.       This website has alleged that the managers are paid $25,000 a month. Is that true?  http://www.lovelysingapore.org/2015/02/13/ahpetc-weng-fan-highest-paid-town-council-gm-singapore/

Throughout all this, TOC has kept silent. This is hypocrisy of the highest order.

TOC is biased towards the opposition to a point that is no longer rational or objective. As an ‘alternative’ news source, TOC merely obfuscates the truth and chooses rather to report whatever it chooses to, rather than what is happening on the ground. Yes, it is alternative, but only in the sense that it is alternative to truthful reporting or honest journalism. In order to become a credible news source and political commentator, TOC needs to be more objective and balanced in both its coverage and its views.

Of all the charges levied against AHPETC, the most egregious of them would be the concurrent appointments held by AHPETC officers in its managing agent, FMSS, which constitutes a conflict of interest. To recap, AHPETC secretary Mr Danny Loh and his wife, AHPETC general manager Ms How Weng Fan are both directors and shareholders of FMSS. Such related party transactions were not reported and only revealed during an Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) audit, which was published earlier this year.

TOC has sais nary a word on the conflict of interest and related party transactions that the AHPETC is embroiled in, nor any attempts to provide analyses of these.

The closest the TOC has come to addressing the issue <http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/05/pap-is-depriving-residents-in-ahpetc-of-two-years-worth-of-government-grants-without-any-valid-reason/>  was an article arguing that in withholding government grants from AHPETC during the course of investigations, the “PAP is depriving residents”.

This is problematic on two counts. First, TOC has not addressed the reason why these grants were withheld in the first place: the conflicts of interest and other discrepancies raised in the AGO audit. Second, TOC has conflated the MND with the PAP. The MND (being a ministry) is technically part of public administration and hence separate from the PAP (being a political party). This inability to separate administration from politics either reflects a lack of political education among TOC’s writers and editors or more likely, an intention to politicize what is essentially a legal-administrative issue.