Monday, June 21, 2004

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran to ban water-pipe in public

Hmmm...once again, the moral strictures of a paternalistic government wins over what should be the democratic decisions of its citizens.

I was originally going to use the word aspiration instead of decision when I am reminded that Iran is a democratic state in name. After all, it does has elections on a wider franchise than most Western nations (with the exceptions of the Nordic ones and definately all Asian ones). There's only the slight problem with regards to the Council of Guardians basically undermining how free they really are. When 90% of reformist are barred from standing in elections on trumpted up spurious charges, it's hard to claim to be democratic. At least on our sunny island, the opposition doesn't even submit names in the first place...=P

Sunday, June 20, 2004

*On Terrorism and the Death Penalty*

Bear with me on this.

If, as we take current international law, terrorist are not defined as enemy combatants and hence are not accorded Prisoner of War status (POW) (for if they were, then this entire issue becomes moot) but are, under the Geneva Convention, as combatants in unconventional law 'shall in all circumstances be treated humanely'.

Now, the Death Penalty has already in abolished in the European Union and is under attack in the United States for reasons of being a cruel and unusual punishment. Admittedly, current legal statues acknowledge the difference between this and torture (which is outright banned) but a case could still be made that the death penalty should even so not be permitted as a legitimate instrument or at the very least, be applied consistently (John Kerry supports the death penalty only for convicted terrorist).

While I personally do not condone the death penalty (particularly for reasons of morality i.e. the state should not denigrate itself with the very act it condemns as well as the fact that the judicial system is not perfect), I wonder if this similarly applies to terrorist, domestic or otherwise.

First and foremost is the problem of rehabilitation. Can a person like Timothy McVeigh (who believed that the US Federal Govt was in cahoots with the UN to create a world govt and oppress citizens like him) or Osama bin Laden (who believes that the Christian West is an evil decadent monolith that needs to be put to the sword) ever change their minds to a point sufficient that they could be reintegrated into society and not be expected to commit similar crimes again (recidivism)?

If one cannot avow with any level of certainty that this is possible, then there are basically two choices left to us. One, permanent incarceration, whether in a mental institution on grounds of mental incapacity (the inability to tolerate and accept another viewpoint) or house arrest/prison. The other, of course, is the death penalty.

Do these people qualify for the death penalty under current legal strictures? Obviously yes, mens rea (the intent) and the actual act itself (actus rea) are both met (claiming credit for a terrorist act is a confession). Is it justified? On a purely retributive level, I suppose there similarly can be no doubt, an eye for an eye. And even if this aspect were ignored, are there any other viable alternatives?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

*On Cruise*

Self explanatory ya? Will be gone to the 18th. Handphone will be on but may not reply for obvious reasons.

Monday, June 14, 2004

*Tuition Anyone?*

Figure this is worth a try...=)

I pretty much willing to work cheap till the results come in. Willing to teach most subjects at all levels. Focus will be on exam skills and a hollistic approach.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran rejects more nuclear curbs

*Iraq Part Duex Anyone?*

Bravo! They don't even bother to pretend anymore... This is a perfect example of pre-emptive strikes if I ever saw one.

Although, admittedly, I say let the EU handle this one by themselves. If they can't even handle their own backyard, if all their words about anti-proliferation are mere platitutes, then they don't deserve to be a pole (centre of power)

It's all well and nice to be a post-modern nation and try to resolve everything peacably. But the harsh realities of life and nuclear winter means a hard stance must be taken.

No more mere words! Let's see some action! There is no need to actually invade Iran but at least gentlemen, let's see some trade sanctions to see that you're serious.

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

*Blog This testing*

*On the SP Open*

Other than the otherwise much spread fact of the insane team of Jebro, Paul and Xiu Hui, watch out for a team tentatively called HJC A...


Friday, June 11, 2004

*And so it comes to pass*


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

*On Politics and Democracy*

Fantastic article in Life! today, or perhaps, more accurately, Clarance Chang's sentiments.

He sought citizenship in order to make a better life for his sons and I admire his decision to take what is ultimately now an untentable (political and logical) step. He felt that only with citizenship would he be able to take the step of actively involving himself in the politics (it all about choices ppl) of our nation. His perception is that he would be able to participate in something we call democracy and make a real difference.

I like that he makes the plea that should he, or rather, when he makes constructive criticism, we/they should not judge him and tear him down...=P Heh...amusingly sad that such a thing needs actually be said.

Anyway, here's my two pence worth of how to rectify the situation of our youth being soft.

Give them responsibilities.

The way things are, the perception is that politics is out of our hand and in that of our political leaders. As such, who cares about the nation when it's not actually 'ours' to run? When we cannot make decisions, when effective power is taken out of our hands, then we feel no pride when S'pore does well, but neither do we feel responsible when it's not. After all, how could we? There isn't the sense of belonging of ownership that is fundamentally crucial to the continued drive, desire and willingness to sacrifice for a nobler goal.

Hence, time to loosen the reins of power and let the people feel like they are the citizens of a democratic nation. We cannot and must not labour under the impression that our sole duty is to vote once every four years (for those of us who can actually vote anyway) and leave everything else to the ruling party.

Even so, if we cannot make a difference on the national level, there still are the RCs and Grassroot organisations. Despite what you or we may think about them, the mechanisms are there to make a difference. (Long story on how I gave up trying to volunteer at the meet-the-mp session though)

A final comment, Pre-U sem, a certain Mr Kevin Siew from AJC (whom I hope was quoted out of context) who argues against a stronger oppostions for, "Who wants three to four parlimentary debates before a bill is passed?"

Ye gods.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

*On Singaporean Youths*

Been stewing over this issue for a while. Hope it doesn't turn out into a rant.

Are the youths of our sunny island selfish and soft? Answer: Yes, it's not really their fault and last but not least, so what?

When your ruling party destroys any semblence of ideology and focuses instead, purely on prgamatism and the promotion of results, with a social contract that explicitly exchanges material wealth and prosperity for political power, is it any wonder that rights and principles no longer feature in the lexicon of the average singaporean?

If political apathy is the norm for your average adult (who might anyway not get to vote, even if they wanted to, due to the insane jerrymandering that occurs and the near absolute inability of the opposition to reinvent itself), what more the children of that generation, who have only suckled at the teat of an omnipotent party-government who claim it knows best, treats its people like children and pacify with the trinklets of wealth.

Without any higher ideals to fight and die for, is it any wonder that material wealth is the only form of expression of success? As such, is it any wonder that such single minded persuit of success and achievement (for those old enough, recall the crowing that occured when our gdp per person overtook our former colonial masters) fosters a me-only and an I first culture?

We have no principles, no rights, ideals or culture that we can call uniquely singapore. We only have icons that are physical, nothing existencial. As such, the recreation of singapore (should the event need to be done) is not its people, or its culture, but the HDB flat, the Merlion and the Singapore Girl.

Is there anything called society? As the female ex-prime minster of britain once memorably put it, there is no society, only the individuals it comprices of. And do people acting in their own self interest make things worse. Adam Smith: it is not through the benevolence of the butcher and the baker we can our meat and bread. Perhaps it would stop the pointless sacrifice that we seem to be making to a nebulous entity called social consciousness. If we as individuals don't give a hoot, then so be it.

Flip the coin. Ask what we can do for the country....and what it can in place do for us. What is the point of serving 2 1/2 years in an institution that sees you as an expendable resource and one that cares not for you but your replacement. Whereby despite earning 1/4 of the salary of the other class, we end up doing 4 times their work. A partnership track, without rewards in the end.

And in the end of it all, what does my citizenship mean to me? Cheap housing? Low taxes? Safe environment? Comfortable living?

Sorry Mr Thaman, of course we're selfish and soft.


Not of dreams, don't worry. Inspired by a remark (No. 3)made by Chew Lin.

Interpreatations of the motion: This house would tie trade to the environment.

1. This house would include environmental clauses as part of a bilateral/multilateral trade agreement

2. This house would allow trading of carbon emissions to solve global warming

3. This house would only trade in the shares of environmentally friendly companies.

4. This house would allow file swapping on a subscription basis.

Please contribute more!