Blog Posts by Elizabeth Soh

  • Singaporeans split over gay, censorship, social support issues: OSC survey

    [UPDATE 13 Sep: Correcting figures of survey results]

    The views of Singaporeans on social issues have become more diverse – diverging mainly between the old vs young and the higher vs lower income groups.
     
    This was among the main findings in the latest Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) survey report, which involved interviews with 4,000 Singaporeans.
     
    Younger Singaporeans, for example, showed a stronger preference for less censorship, while older Singaporeans were reflected as placing more value in censorship to protect public interest.
     
    While acknowledging that there remains a “significant consensus” among Singaporeans, Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) added they also found “a diversity of orientations towards several key policy areas.”
     
    This, he said, reveals a “sense of the dilemmas that we face as a society going forward.”
     
    Other social issues like gay lifestyles also saw split views.
     
    While the statistics reflect that society in general did

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  • PM Lee tears during emotional National Day Rally with 'heart'

    Light-hearted and encouraging – that's the reaction of many Singaporeans to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech on Sunday night.
     
    “I think it was a well thought-out speech with a right amount of heart and it was very focused on Singaporeans,” said businessman Ronald Lim, 56.
     
    “PM Lee touched on issues that resounded with people of different ages and my takeaway is that I feel more informed about what we are facing.”
     
    In his two-hour long English speech from ITE's sprawling new Ang Mo Kio campus, PM Lee unveiled major reforms in housing, education and healthcare, drawing applause for policies and changes geared towards more inclusiveness. The changes also included more support for less fortunate Singaporeans.
     
    But perhaps the most memorable moment of all was when Lee became visibly emotional after sharing the heartwarming success story of visually handicapped A-star researcher Dr Yeo Sze Ling.
     
    “Sze Ling proves that you can do well if you try hard, no matter what your

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  • National Day Rally 2013: Wider bands for PSLE grading, changes to P1 school admission

    [UPDATED 19 Aug, 6:15pm: Adding more details on P1 registration scheme]

    Starting from next year, the Ministry of Education will reserve 40 places in every primary school for applicants in phase 2B and 2C of the Primary One Registration Exercise. 

    This means that in addition to the number of vacancies left over after phase 2A2, another mandatory 40 places will be split equally between phases 2B and 2C.

    The follow-up announcement comes after Prime Minister Lee said in his National Day Rally speech that Singapore's education system is set to undergo several changes to become a more open, holistic and less over-competitive one.

    He cited a need to make entry into Singapore's schools more open, so that admission will not be limited to a "closed, self-perpetuating elite".


    "We must recalibrate to keep the education system open and focus our efforts on things which matter more than exam grades in the long run," said Lee.

    He acknowledged concerns from Singaporeans that the Primary School Leaving

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  • Singapore's special hawkers: disabled but dignified

    Jayson Tang, 22, can whip up a perfect dish of crispy fish and chips just as well as he can chop and put together a plate of fragrant Hainanese chicken rice from scratch.

    He is a perfectionist who prepares every serving with great attention and focus.

    Unlike just any hawker though, Jayson is autistic. He is one of over 100 Singaporeans with physical, mental or learning disabilities who have graduated from social enterprise Dignity Kitchen -- with a set of marketable skills and a good chance at finding a job.

    Jayson, who is autistic, whips up a plate of chicken rice, prepared carefully from scratch every day.

    Dignity Kitchen was started three and a half years ago by engineer and management consultant Koh Seng Choon, 53. The project, at first, comprised three hawker stalls in Balestier, all run by physically and mentally challenged Singaporeans.

    Koh had decided that he wanted to give back to society by training the underprivileged and disabled and helping them find jobs in the food and beverage industry.

    "I want to change people's perception of my students -- they may be disabled, but we

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  • Celebrating National Day in a different way this Aug 9

    Singaporeans looking to do something different this National Day might want to check out a celebration happening at Hong Lim Park.

    The three-hour long event, organised by Transitioning.org, will be held from 4-7 pm.

    It will feature bloggers and speakers like Tan Jee Say, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Ravi Philemon,and Leong Sze Hian. They will discuss topics like the Singaporean identity, National Service, migration and other current issues.

    Homage will be paid to the late President Ong Teng Cheong.

    Side activities like balloon-making and face painting, as well as snacks like curry puffs and cookies, will be provided at the free event.

    At a press conference held on Wednesday afternoon, organiser Gilbert Goh emphasised that unlike previous rallies held by the same group of activists, the National Day event will be a "celebration not a protest" that aims to "recapture the kampung spirit".

    So far, 400 people have RSVP-ed for the celebration and Goh expects the eventual turnout to be at least

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  • Schools still set to reopen: NEA

    Schools will reopen as per normal on 1 July based on current haze conditions, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday afternoon.

    This was announced during NEA's daily press briefing.

    Today's slightly hazier conditions are reflected in the numbers – PM 2.5 readings went up from 40-48 as of 4 pm on Wednesday to 49-58 at the same time on Thursday.

    According to NEA, a slight change in wind direction from southeast to southwest has blown some of the smog Singapore's way and this trend is expected to continue for the next few days.

    The 24-hour PSI forecast for tomorrow is a moderate 51-100 but the health advisory is based on an "unhealthy" level due to the elevated PM 2.5 numbers.

    Those with chronic lung and heart conditions should avoid all outdoor activity.

    An NEA spokesman emphasised that the respite from the haze is only a temporary one and warned Singaporeans to be prepared for its return.

    A poll of 939 Singapore residents conducted by REACH Singapore revealed that 8 in 10

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  • PM Lee sets up ministerial committee to tackle haze crisis

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday afternoon that there was "no hard line" for when a stop-work order should be issued and that the decision to stop work would also depend on what kind of work it was.
     
    According to local newspaper TODAY, Lee acknowledged that while the haze was "not a new problem for Singapore and Malaysia, this episode is more serious than in recent years".

    The haze situation in Singapore deteriorated to its worst level on Thursday when the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit an all-time high of 371
    , well into the “hazardous” level of over 300. The haze is caused by peat fires in Indonesia, some of which are started deliberated to clear land for cultivation.
     
    Lee added that daily press briefings will be held to update the public on the haze situation, which is expected to last "easily for a few weeks or longer."
     
    Speaking at a press conference at the Istana, the prime minister, together with Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, revealed a

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  • Over 1,500 Singaporeans protest at rally against new online rules

    Over 1,500 protestors turned up at the Free My Internet rally in Hong Lim Park on Saturday afternoon to protest against the Media Development Authority's (MDA) licensing scheme for online news sites.

    The five-hour peaceful demonstration at the Speaker's Corner was organised by a group of popular social-political bloggers who felt that the new regime could severely curtail their freedom of speech.

    Calling the protest "just the beginning" in a "sustained campaign for the withdrawal of MDA's regime", the organisers repeatedly demanded that the new regulations be revoked.

    "We will reveal more details, it (the campaign) will include things like encouraging people to lobby their Members of Parliament (MPs) so their MPs can push for legislation change in Parliament," said Elaine Ee, co-founder of political news site publichouse.sg.

    "It will include... encouraging a dialogue between us and the MDA with the view of withdrawing the legislation," she added.

    Describing the government's sudden

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  • Case of young wife’s gruesome murder grips China

    The tragic murder of a young beautiful Chinese wife has gripped China's netizens (Weibo screengrab)

    The husband was young, rich, drove expensive cars and lived the high life. His wife was just 22, and the beautiful mother of his four-month old baby daughter.

    The happily married couple seemed to live a perfect life – until young chinese wife Qi Kexin was found murdered in their home in Nanjing's Jianye District.

    No arrest has been reported but according to Xian Dai Kuai Bao, a Nanjing newspaper run by national news agency Xinhua, local authorities suspect she was slashed to death by her drunk husband after a heated argument.

    She had been attacked with a knife and sustained between 30 and 40 knife wounds on her body.

    Her husband, 24-year-old Ji Xing Peng, had allegedly slashed Qi to death after an argument in which he accused her of infidelity and said that their daughter was not his.

    Qi's horrific death has since attracted huge media and online attention in China, especially because her husband is from “second generation money”, a negative term used to describe a class of young rich who

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  • 12-year-old Singapore student’s anti-gay appeal on YouTube goes viral

    He is only 12 years old, but YouTube Vlogger Theo Chen's rant against bullies has struck a major chord online, going viral with over 2,300 views in just a day.

    The video, titled "Gay", sees the opinionated student telling off anonymous posters who leave abusive and vulgar messages on his YouTube videos.

    In the video, Theo shares his feelings over getting bullied both online and in school by school mates who call him a 'fag' or 'gay' because he dances in his videos.

    "Just because I make videos doesn't mean I'm gay," rants the bespectacled young boy.

    "I'm 12 years old, I don't even know if I'm even gay. Don't judge people on their sexuality, you should judge people on their personality. Calling someone else gay doesn't make you more straight."

    "Just appreciate me for who I am. If you don't like me there's no need torment me."

    The SJI International Elementary School student goes on to share with viewers how even his close friends gossip about him behind his back or make fun of his sister.Read More »from 12-year-old Singapore student’s anti-gay appeal on YouTube goes viral

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