Colors: Blue Color

There has been plenty of excitement with Lee Hsien Yang's (LHY) foray into politics with Dr. Tan Cheng Bock's Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

Singaporeans were disappointed when it emerged on Nomination Day that he was not going to contest GE2020. They believed that an LHY-led team contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC would've given the PAP team there a tougher fight.

Nevertheless, his presence on the ground is welcomed by young and old alike. Like Dr Tan Cheng Bock pointed out, LHY is special. He is in the unique position of being the son of Lee Kuan Yew - one of the men who built PAP into what it is today.

Human rights activist, Kokila Annamalai, is not as enamoured. While she lauded him for encouraging greater politicial participation, transparency of governance, and a more independent media, she, unlike many Singaporeans, welcomed the news of LHY not contesting the GE with PSP.

She took umbrage at LHY and his supporters for their framing the older PAP as a kinder, less authoritarian regime compared to the current PAP. Kokila felt that this was tantamount to them trying to rewrite history.

I'm also glad he is choosing not to run. But we must push back against the framing by LHY, some opposition parties and a growing pool of anti-establishment voices who frame the current PAP government's repressive and authoritarian characteristics as a departure from LKY's values and leadership.

Kokilla didn't mince her words. As frequently suggested by LHY and PSP, she argued that PAP has not lost its way. In fact, the state of the PAP that we have now is the result of its consistent vindictive, authoritarian approach over the years.

The PAP has not lost its way, as LHY alleges. This was always its way. LKY was the original architect of the path the PAP government continues on. LKY destroyed dissidents' lives, ensured all public institutions were under his authority, rather than retain an independent check and balance on the government, depoliticised the Law Society, intimidated and controlled the media, terrorised and detained activists, obliterated the separation between the state and party, groomed his son for PM and built an opaque structure where the ruling elite could govern without accountability and with impunity when they erred.

She urged people not to forget LKY's. She also pointed out that LHY himself was complicit to the entrenchment of the PAP's authoritarian rule because he never challenged them until he himself had a "personal stake in challenging his brother". As a member of the Lee family, he benefited from the repressive system set out by tthe party.

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In essence, she believed that LHY is hypocritical for his long silence throughout PAP's rule. 

Never forget that this is LKY's legacy. Don't let LHY and others like him rewrite the past and distance LKY from the current PAP government's undemocratic practices. Let's also not forget that LHY never spoke up against repression until he had a personal stake in challenging his brother. His claims are hypocritical, and suggest that he seeks to preserve and inherit whatever goodwill the people might have for his father for himself, by aligning himself with what he characterises as his father's visionary leadership, and asserting that LHL's PAP is doing a disservice to his father's legacy. But every allegation LHY makes against his brother's party is based on a quality that LKY entrenched in his model of governance.

When they try to make us forget, we must remember even harder. Just because someone might align with our politics on the surface now doesn't mean we shouldn't be critical of misleading claims they make.

Needless to say, this is a controversial opinion. Is she starved of attention?

Calling LHY a hypocrite?

Whose side are you on? 

Heng Swee Keat's move from Tampines to East Coast GRC took the whole country by surprise.

No one saw it coming. Not even the Worker's Party (WP). WP's party chief, Pritam Singh, himself called it a "strategic surprise".

Explaining the move via a FB post, Heng said that the move was conceived becaue "[the PAP] cannot afford a gap in East Coast in these uncertain times. We need a full team that can take care of the residents and position them to come out of this crisis stronger than before."

This is a big risk taken by Heng and PAP. As Singaporeans will be familiar, risk-taking and the PAP do not gel well together.

On the HWZ forum, a netizen speculated that perhaps, the true reason for Heng moving to East Coast was that the PAP was scared of the WP.

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PAP and WP were playing chicken and PAP blinked first.

PAP were worried WP had some superstar who was going to contest in EC so they had some heavy weights on standby to counter.

WP must have got wind of this so they just waited. With the clock running down, PAP bo bian had to send someone so they went for nuclear option.In the end, it was just an empty city ruse by WP.End result? HSK provided unintended laughs for edmw but come July 10, WP will get squashed just the same.

Time will tell if this "strategic surprise" ended up being a strategic mistake. When the PAP team loses the battle for East Coast GRC, who does the PAP have lined-up to become the next PM? 

Will Lee Hsien Loong extend his tenure? Will Chan Chun Sing become the PM? Or will they change tack and finally appoint a minority, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as PM instead?

The outcome is in the hands of the residents of East Coast.

 

 

 

 

News of Singapore's ban against a group of British nationals for flouting COVID-19 restrictions on social-gatherings, has made it to the BBC.

The four Britons - Neil Gordon Buchan, 30, Perry Scott Blair, 37, James Titus Beatt, 33, and Joseph William Poynter, 35 - were also fined about SGD$9,000 each. These transgressions at a popular local bar area were pictured by the public and quickly went viral on social media.

The four were among those that were consequently charged and convicted.

Many of the British netizens who reacted to the news did so with restraint and logic.

A majority of the commenters were in agreement with the punishment. They concurred that the pandemic warranted such restrictions and such loutish, selfish behaviour should rightly be punished.

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Ultimately, the four knew what they were doing and had to take responsibility for their misguided actions.

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As foreigners living and working in a another country, they must abide by the local laws and regulations, especially when it comes to public health issues.

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Some even wished that the government in the UK was as strict as the Singapore government.

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When it comes a public health emergency like COVID-19, everyone has to play tkheir part and not succumb to their own narrow selfish self-interests.

For the foreigners who are working here, this ruling has demonstrated that they are not above the law and have to respect them just like the rest of us sinkies.

 

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently issued an advisory on foreign domestic helpers spending their rest day outside. The advisory stipulated that these foreign domestic workers (FDWs) can only go out on a week day if they had sought the permission of their employers. On top of that, these FDWs are also expected to observe rules such as not gathering in groups beyond five people, as well as not loitering or gathering in FDW-haunts such as Lucky Plaza, City Plaza, and Peninsula Plaza.

The requirements riled up local human rights activists who saw it as a transgression of the basic human rights of these FDWs, under the guise of public health and safety. 

These activists believe that the same rules should apply to both lcoals and foreign workers like the FDWs.

"If the rest of the population is not told when they can leave home, FDWs should not be treated differently...They should be allowed to meet their friends to relieve some of their mental stress... Having to take their rest days on weekdays may inhibit that."

 

 

Another activist, Jolovan Wham, went beyond his call of duty for the FDWs. He wrote in to MOM to address the discriminatory advisory and to highlight that there are should not be any differences between locals and FDWs. He called on other like-minded Singaporeans to similarly write in to MOM.

I read with disappointment the latest advisory from your Ministry stating that foreign domestic workers should only go out on weekdays for their rest days and that they even need the consent of their employers whether to stay home or not on their days off.
Domestic workers spend all of their time in their employer's homes. Since circuit breaker started, similar advisories from your Ministry forbid them from going out. This has worsened their already stressful lives, especially those who do not have their own rooms and private space to rest. The nature of live-in domestic work means that rest hours and working hours are not clear. As a result, domestic workers are either working or on standby for most of the day. Given such conditions, a rest day where they are free to do as they please, whether it is to socialise, take up classes or to run errands is badly needed.
Singaporeans and others in the community have been urged not to gather in groups of more than five, practise social distancing, and to wear a face mask at all times when outdoors. But we have not been told that we can't leave our homes, nor have we been denied weekend rest days. The same principles should apply to our migrant domestic workers. I hope the Ministry can reverse its decision on this matter. We should be striving to eliminate discrimination, instead of reinforcing them in our policies.
 

 
 

This is why the work done by the like of Wham and HOME to highlight the plight of these FDWs must be appreciated by Singaporeans.

They shed light on the discriminatory practices that are not in line with progressive community. The FDWs are part of the public and should be treated as such and not apart from locals.

A routine MOM interview with a foreign domestic-worker (FDW) has incensed one employer. The employer, Ms Tan, shared her frustrations with other employers in a Facebook group - “FDW Employers @ Singapore".

According to Ms Tan, due to Covid-19-related restrictions, the MOM interview with her domestic-helper had to be done via a Whatsapp video-call on Ms Tan's phone. Usually, such interviews were held in person (at MOM). 

Further, Ms Tan alleged that the MOM interviewer had asked her domestic-helper leading questions. Apart from cheking-in on the the domestic-helper, the MOM interviewer was also alleged to have, amongst others, asked if the employers were treating the domestic-helper well. 

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According to Ms Tan, she has always treated her helper well. However, she noticed a change in the helper's attitude following the call. 

After further probing, Ms Tan was aghast to find out from her helper that the MOM officer had advised the helper to not be afraid and to complain to MOM directly if there were any issues. In addition, the officer was also said to have informed the helper of the possibility of changing employers if the helper was unhappy. 

Ms Tan claimed to have chided the officer for emboldening the domestic-helper and not showing enough sympathy for the employers. 

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She also alleged that the said officer hung on her after her numerous probing.

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The mandate of the MOM is manpower - including, but not limited to, the management of foreign workers and domestic helpers. They are not here to listen to the complaints of the employers of these domestic helpers.

It is high time that the welfare of the domestic helpers are being looked into. Many are over-burdened and exhausted. It cannot be the role of the volunteer welfare organisations or NGOs to look into the general welfare of the helpers simply because they do not have the resources at their disposal.

That role has to be filled by MOM. They need to send the right messages to helpers that they will be taken care of.

Nevertheless, in doing so, the MOM can be more mindful of the plight of the employers. Many employers have no choice but to engage these domestic -helpers. A more empathetic stance will encourage the employers to be more trusting of the MOM and cooperate in ensuring the welfare of their domestic-helpers.

 

 

According to the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), there has been an increase in the number of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) running away from their employers during this Circuit-Breaker (CB) period.

HOME was unable to provide exact figures on the numbers of FDWs that had reach out to them to confide in their plans to leave their employers.

However, it shared that in April alone, there were 29 runaway cases. HOME pointed out that this was slightly more than the 13 cases it received in the month before.

Among these, many have suffered “several verbal abuse, salary disputes, or other well-being issues”.

For instance, due to the greater number of people staying home during this CB, FDWs have had to endure heavier workloads and shortened rest hours. Some also have had to work on their rest days without adequate compensation.

An FDW related how, in February this year, her employers barred her from returning to their residence as they were concerned that she would carry the virus, after she went out on her rest day.

According to the FDW, her employers had allowed her to go out. She had to look for alternative accommodation and eventually sought shelter at HOME.

The attention thus far has been on the foreign workers living in dormitories.

Let's not forget these FDWs as well. They matter and suffer as much us Singaporeans during this CB.

They are human beings too. They are not robots or machine. Employers have to understand this difference.

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