Thursday, November 25, 2004

*Letter to ST Forum*

Casino Debate? What debate, the same arguments are constantly being repeated. WTF didn't the debate continue for other social issues. What makes this one so important?

Dear Sir,

I write in with reference to the entire casino debate and the major question on my mind is simply this. What new arguments or material have the naysayers offered us in this past month? It is evident that they have given up on the economic one and have since focused solely and repetitively upon society and personal morality or anecdotal evidence. Ultimately, not simply are they fighting a losing battle but unfortunately the wrong one at that.

It is simply incredulous to suggest that Singapore is not already a gambling society or one without its fair share of gambling problems. Gambling is already legal and sanctioned. For some, it is even a cultural thing. We have 4D, soccer and horse race betting, Toto. People go abroad to gamble, whether on cruises, in overseas resort, during festive seasons or even in illegal dens. Gambling addicts and associate problems with gambling have been around since the dawn of Singapore.

Hence, any ‘devaluation’ of our ‘image’ or values (family, Asian, religious or otherwise) must come directly from that of the casino itself. If so, the logical solution (but evidently one that they have chose to ignore) is that the casino should have reasonable safeguards. Better still, perhaps this will spur the government and civic society and groups to embark on a mission of harm reduction and handle the real problem, which is not gambling per se, but the associated and attendant harms that are already in existence.

In my opinion Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has already dealt admirably with the changing societal mores and the need for society and individuals to debate and acceptance change. Furthermore, this serves as a litmus test on how ‘ready’ our society is to take responsibility for our future.

Hence, while it is admirable to see the efforts put in by these naysayers, but unless they plan to ban all forms of gambling in our country, their enthusiasm and fervor is very much misplaced. Better if they set up a Gamblers Anonymous instead.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

BBC NEWS Business Do casinos bring riches to provincial towns?

Good stuff and a nice little summary about the economics of casinos.

My personal opinions on this are pretty mixed. Emphirically, practically and pragmatically, there are many many good and strong reasons for the legalisation of an integrated resort, amongst which is that we already have a gambling society and a gambling problem and it seems terribly unlikely that in a society with 4D, Toto, horse betting etc. that a casino will make a big difference, we already do have illegal gambling dens, and people do go for cruises to play at their casino.

So logically, the fear of a casino adding to our gambling woes needs to be directly attributed to the casino itself. The most that we would be doing is to lure those who gamble overseas back to our sunny shores. Fears of the members of society suddenly deciding to turn into gambling fiends might have a simpler resolution in terms of membership requirements.

Principly speaking, I suppose people ought to have the right to choose, and fears of third party harm which is unfortunately terribly likely are already existing (though prevelance is a questions without many answers as it's something that the govt doesn't quite address). Furthermore, cigarette smoking and consumption of alcohol have as bad if not worse effects than gambling has. Granted of course that we should not seek to encourage the introduction of more societal vices. But I think it's a little too late to put the gambling genie in the bottle.

So the emphasis here needs to be on harm reduction. I think the casino would be a major catalyst in the acknowledge that Singapore might have a gambling problem and that we need a proper structure to handle it. Evidence overseas, particularly in Australia and the US have shown that the casinos have seen it in their best interest to keep such problem gamblers out and into treatment. Let's face it, the big bucks aren't made off us proleteriat but the 'Whales' the so called big gamblers who can afford to blow hundred of thousands at the table.

Personally, however, I'm not a big fan of gambling and casinos though I did enjoy my time at Vegas (though what the hell four 17 1/2 year old were suppose to do in the City of Sin was beyond me. The buffets were great though.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Letter from Singapore

*An American born Indian, Senior Writer and Global Affairs Columnist has left the Straits Times on grounds of racism*

A scathing attack on the quality of journalism in Singapore. I really wonder where all my seniors recruited by the ST are...

I'll bet you won't get a peek of this from the Straits Times, or at least not a balanced one.

Now we also know that certain editors are Intelligence Officers...=) Or at least one of them is.

Monday, November 15, 2004

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN urged to end Darfur 'farce'

I wonder what Singapore's position is...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

BBC NEWS | Europe | Mosque set on fire in Netherlands

My faith in humanity is shaking... Maybe my faith in the freedom of speech to prevent such attacks is misplaced. *Shakes head* I'm beginning to think that the policy in Singapore might be the best one yet.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mandate? What mandate?

Clinton was probably a better president in his 2nd term than his first. We can always hope than Bush does similarly. But who knows, a person can change for the better or the worse.


Monday, November 08, 2004

David Brooks: Liberals seek solace in the 'moral values' myth

I like it. I wish it more properly fleshed out why the Democrats lost rather than why 'moral values' (whatever the hell that means: I mean I'm pretty sure people who voted for Kerry felt moral too) was not an issue. But that's just nitpicking on an op-ed that didn't promise such an analysis.

But from a quick reading of it, it seems to suggest that the Democrats if they did a labour (or a clinton) should win handily. Which sort of makes sense considering that the last two democrats (and only two in the past 40 years) to win a presidency were ones from the South promoting a Tony Blair like 'Third Way' (Gore just went way way left...which was pretty precient post Enron...)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

*Just an Update*

I'm back, and hopefully now that the Research Binder is over I'll be able to maintain a blogging streak.