Blog Posts by Satish Cheney

  • Singaporean woman’s video of solo Iran journey shows another side of the country

    Satish Cheney is a freelance news correspondent and TV producer for overseas and local news agencies. You can follow him at @SatishCheney
    Mandy Tay in Shiraz. She said, "Iran is only two hours away from Dubai but it is so much greener. Reminds me of Singapore." (Photo courtesy of Mandy Tay)Mandy Tay in Shiraz. She said, "Iran is only two hours away from Dubai but it is so much greener. Reminds me of Singapore." (Photo courtesy of Mandy Tay)

    It’s not every day a Singaporean Chinese girl gets a marriage proposal -- in Iran, no less, and from a mullah (religious leader) searching for a suitable wife for his son.

    That’s just one of the many interesting encounters 33-year-old photographer and TV producer Mandy Tay had during a two-week adventure in Iran two months ago. She shot a video, showcasing a side of Iran most people are not familiar with, and it has since attracted at least 20,000 views on video-sharing platforms YouTube and Vimeo.

    Having moved to Dubai in 2011 for work, Tay started getting “distracted by the video function in her new camera” and began recording and editing short videos of her travels.

    She was keen to explore the region more, especially since she had visited only one country -- Jordan -- in the two years that she has been in Dubai.

    “When I was getting stamps for my

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  • S'pore film-maker called in to help with police investigation

    A freelance film-maker spent close to eight hours at the Singapore police headquarters on Thursday in connection with her recent video interviews with two ex-SMRT bus drivers from China.

    Lynn Lee, who had previous stints at CNN International and CNBC as well as the United Nations, also had her mobile phone and laptop searched during her interview at the New Phoenix Park headquarters at Irrawaddy Road near Novena.

    This after a police superintendent and three other officers arrived at the house earlier on Thursday to seize her phone, laptop and iMac.

    She had initially questioned them on the relevance of the devices for their investigation and then consulted a lawyer before it was agreed she would bring her laptop and phone to police headquarters where the items would be examined in her presence and then returned.

    “I’m not worried. I’m not the one who is under investigation. I’m just a journalist, like you,” she told Yahoo! Singapore during a brief phone interview at around 10pm.


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  • COMMENT: 'Punggol slap turns into Punggol punch'


    When some reporters, including myself, met with the People’s Action’s Party (PAP) candidate for the Punggol East by-election Dr Koh Poh Koon before nomination day, he asked us to join him for breakfast at Rivervale Plaza.

    We didn’t eat anything, probably because we’re not used to waking up too early. There was coffee, bread and soft boiled eggs on the table, but something was strangely missing on the menu:  indigestible election rhetoric and motherhood statements.

    In fact, the colorectal surgeon just didn’t seem like he cared much to impress the media, which is a good thing by the way.  At times he even seemed slightly out of place with the constant camera flashes and the intense scrutiny.  Not very surprising though, considering he had just only recently joined the party.

    After breakfast and a short session of greeting residents, the 40-year-old happily married father of two girls told the media his philosophy was pretty much "what you see is what you get".

    Some who didn’t agree

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  • PM rebuts WP's Low, says 'PAP is on your side'

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s message at the People’s Action Party (PAP) rally at Rivervale Thursday night was plain and simple: “The PAP is on your side.”

    Speaking for more than half an hour in English after speaking in Malay and Mandarin, PM Lee reiterated that point more than once as he went through the various initiatives and programmes that the government has put in place in the last decade to help improve Singaporeans’ lives.

    He also asked what kind of politics Singaporeans prefer and the kind of opposition that people may want.

    “Do you want the Workers’ Party (WP) of last week’s rally, when they were supporting PAP’s policies and claiming that they do not to blindly oppose policy but give the PAP time to show what they can do...? Or do we want yesterday’s WP -- frightening residents… [going] within one week from a constructive position to a demanding and destructive position?” Lee asked.

    “The Workers’ Party’s policies are like the moon.  On the first day and the 15th day it’s

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  • WP up the stakes, take aim at AIM saga in second rally

    The Workers' Party fired fiery salvo after salvo against the ruling People’s Action Party at its second by-election rally at Punggol East on Tuesday night.

    Referring to the controversial sale of management software by PAP town councils to Action Information Management (AIM), which is owned by the ruling party, party chairman Sylvia Lim said that even though the software was created using taxpayers' money, it was sold to an entity belonging to PAP.

    She said after the party won the contest at Aljunied GRC in 2011, they were able to “dig into documents” pertaining to the running of town councils.

    “There were aspects which showed how political, town management had become,” she said to an estimated crowd of about 7,000 people at an open field in Rivervale.

    “For instance, I have come across a few contracts signed by town councils, carrying a clause allowing for termination of services if there should be a change in the composition of town council management, in other words, change of political

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  • SDA releases online 'rally' video

    They billed it as "history in the making".

    On Monday evening, the Singapore Democratic Alliance released its "political rally" video on YouTube after announcing last week they would not be holding political rallies in Punggol East and instead rely on "online technology" to spread their message to voters.

    In the six-and-a-half-minute video, SDA chief and by-election candidate Desmond Lim said he may not have won at the last general election but said he’s still “here talking to you and reaching out to you because I still believe in the cause.”

    “If you want democracy, then why restrict the voices in parliament to two? Where is the system of checks and balances with two dominant parties in action?” asked Lim, wearing his party’s new green polo T-shirt.

    Saying that “big names’’ cannot guarantee loyalty and performance, Lim said what counts when the fanfare is over, is the “individual”.

    The start of the video shows the SDA’s Harminder Pal Singh reading out the Singapore pledge before introducing

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  • Paternity leave the right step: PAP's Koh

    People's Action Party candidate for Punggol East, Dr Koh Poh Koon, said paid paternity leave is a step in the right direction, referring to one of the slew of measures announced by the government to encourage Singaporeans to start families.

    "We want people to have more kids and fathers want to play an active role. I want to play an active role in my children's lives, and having some paternity leave goes in some way to signal that this is important," the colorectal surgeon told reporters during his walkabout at Punggol East Monday afternoon.

    Under the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood package unveiled by government, one week of paid paternity leave for fathers will be legislated. Dads will also be allowed to share one week of working mothers’ maternity leave entitlement.

    Now at the halfway mark of campaigning, Koh said residents have been warm towards him and that he will continue to connect with them.

    "I will continue to reach out to every single resident to the best of my ability,” he

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  • It's not about voting more opposition in Parliament: Education Minister Heng

    Education Minister Heng Swee Keat hit back swiftly at opposition Workers' Party claims that residents of Punggol East should vote for them to make the PAP "work hard".

    "PAP has been working hard to come up with various ways to help Singaporeans even when they was no opposition in Parliament," he told reporters at a community event at Tampines Central Temple.

    Referring to WP chief Low Thia Kiang's rally message on Saturday that people should vote for WP to keep up the pressure on PAP, Minister Heng turned the tables.

    "Voters should look at what the various (PAP) MPs have done and contributed in their constituencies and in Parliament," he said.

    "And I think they will come to the conclusion that they should vote for the PAP to make the Workers' Party work harder for you".

    He also took pains to remind voters of Punggol East that it's "not about voting more opposition into Parliament".

    "It's important to understand what this by-election is about. It's about electing the best candidate who can

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  • PM Lee: No strong alternatives by WP since being elected to Parliament

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took a swipe at the opposition Workers' Party's contributions in Parliament so far as he dropped in on Punggol East on Saturday morning.

    "I don't see any strong views or alternatives being presented by the opposition, whether it's the NCMPs or the elected MPs," said the PM during a brief walkabout at Rivervale Plaza.

    "We are doing things on a national level," he added, building on the same vein as several other People's Action Party speakers during a rally the previous night on Friday.

    Then, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and others reminded voters of the party's track record since the 2011 General Election, with major policies announced in housing, transport, education and healthcare.

    PM Lee, in his first walkabout in Punggol East since by-elections were announced, said voters need to bear this in mind when they go to polls.

    "Ultimately, choose the person who can serve you well in Punggol East and also broadly in Singapore," he said to reporters after a

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  • Will Dr Koh be more than just an MP if elected?

    Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean hinted that PAP's Dr Koh Poh Koon could have a bright future if he is elected as an Member of Parliament.

    Teo, who was one of the speakers at Koh’s maiden rally on Friday evening, said the PAP candidate was a dedicated man who can translate concerns and aspirations into workable programmes that can help make lives better, Teo said Koh can offer a "larger contribution" to Singapore.


    “With his capabilities and experience, Poh Koon will also be able to make a larger contribution offering ideas, policies and programmes to serve Singaporeans better,” Teo said.

    When asked what areas he might be interested in when it comes to wider-level policy making for the nation, Koh told reporters at the end of the rally that he would want to be involved with issues close to his heart.

    “I will be looking at things… like with women and children, their working lives and the issues of education,” said the married 40-year-old colorectal surgeon.


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