28 November 2013

No Real Friends

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was upset when it was revealed that Australia had listened in on his telephone calls.

He ordered military and people-smuggling cooperation with Australia to be frozen and down-graded relations with Australia.

Both Mr Yudhoyono and Minister for Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa have explicitly denied that Indonesia taps the telephone calls of its "friends", describing such behaviour as illegal and immoral.

26 November 2013

No Room For Anonymous

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that laws were needed to combat the "growing problem" of cyber bullying and other forms of Internet harassment, and trolls which set out to disrupt proper, constructive discussions by hurling abuse and stirring hate.

He said that "we" must fight back against trolling and provide a safe, responsible online environment which promotes constructive participation.

Over time, a framework must be developed to take full advantage of the new media. This will widen the space for constructive discourse and participation among Singaporeans, allow different perspectives to surface — not just those of a vocal minority — and protect responsible users from those who abuse cyberspace, especially anonymously.

Accordingly — although it is not entirely clear how Mr Lee's reasoning set out in the preceding paragraphs leads to this conclusion — the Government's feedback channel REACH will soon require users to log in.

21 November 2013

Poverty (Line) Shy

A friend lost his wallet overseas not too long ago. When he went to report the loss at a police station there, he sensed that the police were framing their questions in a way that he had almost no choice but to say that he had dropped or misplaced his wallet, rather than that he was pick-pocketed. No crime committed. No incremental crime statistic.

So perhaps that is similar to the Government's reluctance to set an official poverty line.

Although the State does provide some people with financial assistance, so long as there is no official poverty line, there may exist a divergence between unofficial or perceived poverty and official poverty (somewhat akin to the divergence between thinking of oneself as being unemployed and being considered by statisticians to be unemployed).

What are the reasons why an official poverty line should or should not be set?

14 November 2013

National Service — Enough Recognition?

When national service started in 1967, young Singapore citizens simply served.

They grumbled, of course. No one really wanted to spend up to 3 years of his youth serving in the military. Yet no one sought appreciation or recognition for his service.

If almost all males — about half the population and excluding those whose physical or mental condition precludes their participation — serve NS, and if females are traditionally excluded from conscription, why then is the cry for recognition growing stronger?

There several reasons.