Blog Posts by Shah Salimat

  • COMMENT: Smarter citizen journalism without STOMP?

    Singapore voyeurism site STOMP faces public backlash as citizens call for its shutdown. (Photo courtesy of SGAG/Techinasia)


    Shah Salimat is the editor-in-chief of Popspoken, an entertainment and lifestyle newsblog with a pulse on the issues that matter. He Tweets at @shahsalimat. The views herein are his own.

    Here's why citizen journalism in Singapore has worked so well: it combines two of our favourite past-times.

    One is the art of complaining, perfected to a science of passive-aggressive mutterings under one's breath and disapproving glances with folded arms. Another is our love of taking photos, even at the expense of social space and privacy.

    A cursory glance through STOMP's user-generated Singapore Seen column reveals the sort of tantrum-throwing, voyeuristic "journalism" that will make UK's The Daily Mail blush: uncle watches porn on his mobile phone in a bus, couple dances on the train as irate passengers look on, China nationals let their son run around Changi Food Centre naked.

    It is a far cry from the citizen journalism around the world that is making user-generated content a big asset to newsrooms.

    Read More »from COMMENT: Smarter citizen journalism without STOMP?
  • Growing demand for works by Singapore artists


    Jane Lee sold two of her Faces artwork at Art Stage Singapore for over S$120,000 (Photo: Shah Salimat)Jane Lee sold two of her Faces artwork, seen here at Art Stage, for over S$120,000 (Photo: Shah Salimat)


    Shah Salimat is the editor-in-chief of Popspoken, an entertainment, lifestyle and issues newsblog in Singapore. He tweets at @shahsalimat.

    Just one hour into the VIP preview for Art Stage Singapore last Wednesday, all nine works from Singapore painter Ruben Pang were sold for some $50,000 by Chan Hampe Galleries.

    Shortly after, Pang was holding his champagne glass with a look of relief on his face.

    The annual art fair has proven its salt in profiling local artists here. Recently back for its fourth instalment from January 16 to 19 at Marina Bay Sands, Art Stage brings together more than 110 regional and international galleries to showcase select artworks for buyers and the public.

    Art Stage's Southeast Asia focus has attracted buyers keen on exploring the emerging art scene in this region, with its strong cultural heritage. The Southeast Asia platform is an example of a curated exhibit of key works from artists in this particular region.

    After launching an Indonesian-based platform space

    Read More »from Growing demand for works by Singapore artists
  • Director Edgar Tang (right) and his co-director Dzul Sungit after their epic journey, which they documented. (Photo: Edgar Tang)

    Television creative Edgar Tang didn't intend to do a documentary about the first man to be cured of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). He flew to the city where the man previously lived, for an entirely different purpose.

    "I was so intrigued that he wasn't widely reported, so I decided to go to Berlin and feel his city to write a fictional feature about him. I said to (co-director) Dzul (Sungit), "If nothing happens, we'll have a holiday together". Dzul Sungit replied, "Why not I bring a camera down?""

    That journey to find that man, 47-year-old Timothy Ray Brown, led Tang to produce his first documentary called "I Hugged The Berlin Patient" -- a reflective exploration spanning three continents, retracing the medical marvel's life through his favourite city Berlin, the doctor who cured him, and his friends.

    "I Hugged The Berlin Patient" recounts Edgar's organic yet manic search for Brown, termed "The Berlin Patient" in reference to the city Brown resided in while he worked as a German

    Read More »from ‘I Hugged The Berlin Patient’: Singapore cancer survivor’s frantic search for first person cured of HIV
  • COMMENT: Should the “hijab” be such a complex issue?

    Over a decade since Muslim girls were suspended for wearing their hijabs (headscarves) to school, Singapore has yet to definitely and conclusively wrap up the hijab issue. (Getty Image)Over a decade since Muslim girls were suspended for wearing their hijabs (headscarves) to school, Singapore has yet to definitely and conclusively wrap up the hijab issue. (Getty Image)

    Over a decade since Muslim girls were suspended for wearing their hijabs (headscarves) to school, Singapore has yet to definitely and conclusively wrap up the hijab issue.

    Despite the many voices that called for dialogue then, the issue was laid to rest until a recent forum when a polytechnic lecturer asked why nurses were not allowed to wear the traditional Muslim headscarf at work revived the debate.

    The collective voice from the Muslim community now seems to be stronger. A decade is a long time for dissatisfaction to boil over.

    Beneath some of the hurtful words and comments around the issue lies a deep sense of frustration with the status quo.

    While the recent campaign to legalise wearing the hijab in any job -- including nurses and uniformed personnel -- has been specific and forthcoming, the government's message of "tolerance" and continuous dialogue has been vague at most.

    Such remarks are unhealthy for an electorate that just wants the haze to clear on an issue that seems fairly

    Read More »from COMMENT: Should the “hijab” be such a complex issue?
  • COMMENT: Why the term ‘gay lifestyle’ offends and is hurtful

    Shah Salimat is the editor-in-chief of Popspoken, an entertainment and lifestyle newsblog with a tinge of spice, covering everything Singaporean and international, from India's gang-rape problem to Baey Yam Keng's selfies.

    COMMENT

    The phrase "gay lifestyle" gets thrown around a lot.

    Its often-negative usage in the lexicon of the religious right has been so pervasive that media monitoring organisation GLAAD has stepped in, calling the term offensive as it is used to suggest that the orientation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people (LGBTs) "is a choice and therefore can and should be "cured"".

    A recent survey conducted as part of the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) concluded that Singapore society generally does not accept gay lifestyles and same-sex marriage. The bulk of disapproval came from older and less-educated Singaporeans.

    62 per cent of Singaporeans with no formal education rejected the idea of gay lifestyles, while only 26 per cent and 29 per cent of polytechnic

    Read More »from COMMENT: Why the term ‘gay lifestyle’ offends and is hurtful
  • Politician Vincent Wijeysingha comes out as gay man on Facebook

    Vincent Wijeysingha

    Singapore Democratic Party politican Vincent Wijeysingha officially came out as a gay man on his Facebook page on Friday.

    This makes him Singapore's first openly gay politician.

    The 43-year-old social work lecturer's Facebook post also mentioned the Facebook page Fabrications About The PAP -- he told Yahoo! Singapore that "the reference was tongue-in-cheek".

    Wijeysingha wrote, "Just in case Fabrications About The PAP is wondering, yes, I am going to Pink Dot tomorrow. And yes, I am gay."

    Pink Dot is a non-profit movement to celebrate the freedom to love regardless of sexual orientation. It is attended by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, together with straight allies. It will take place for the fifth time on Saturday (29 June) evening.

    Wijeysingha also wrote that "I don't have a gay agenda", referring to an incident in the 2011 general elections when Member of Parliament Vivian Balakrishnan accused him of pursuing the "gay agenda" in politics.

    Reactions on social media have been

    Read More »from Politician Vincent Wijeysingha comes out as gay man on Facebook
  • Singapore safest place to be born in Asia: report

    Singapore is the safest place to be born and the best place to be a mother in Asia, according to a report by children’s aid agency Save The Children.

    In the 14th “State of the World’s Mothers” report by the agency, Singapore ranked 15th overall in terms of the wellbeing of mothers and children, surpassing all Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea.

    It was also ahead of the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand. Finland took top spot, while the Democratic Republic of Congo came in last.

    Comparing 176 countries, the report assessed them based on mothers’ and children’s health, and educational, economic and political status.

    Slovenia was one level higher than Singapore in the overall score, but it had a higher risk of maternal death as one in every 5,900 mothers was more likely to die there than in the city-state where the rate was one in every 25,300 mothers.

    With two deaths in every 1,000 births, Singapore has the second-lowest mortality rate for children under five, with

    Read More »from Singapore safest place to be born in Asia: report
  • Singapore falls to record-low place in press freedom ranking

    [UPDATE 4 May, 1.10pm: Added details of Freedom House report]

    Singapore fell 14 places to a record 149th position in terms of press freedom, according to an annual report by non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders (RWB).

    Coming ahead of World Press Freedom Day, which was observed Friday, the report showed this is the city-state’s worst performance since the index was established in 2002.

    On the list, Singapore is wedged in between Russia and Iraq, with Myanmar just two places behind. The former junta-led country jumped up 18 spots in this year’s ranking.

    Neighbouring Malaysia dropped 23 places to 145th over repeated censorship efforts and a crackdown on the Bersih 3.0 protest in April. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea stayed at the bottom three, while Finland stayed on top of the list followed by the Netherlands and Norway.

    Mali was the biggest jumper, moving 74 spots down amid a military coup and subsequent media bias. Malawi was the biggest riser, moving 71 spots up,

    Read More »from Singapore falls to record-low place in press freedom ranking
  • Valet staff take Ferrari for a joyride in Sentosa

    Two valet staff members of a Singapore hotel allegedly took a patron’s Ferrari out for a joyride in Sentosa in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

    Police confirmed that a report on the incident has been filed with them and they are investigating.

    According to The Straits Times, at around 2am on 30 April, the valets of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) were given the keys to a Ferrari 458 automobile owned by 61-year-old retiree Preston, who was out to dine with a friend.

    A video showed the valets then driving the car around the RWS premises, going at speeds of up to 80 kmh. This is twice the speed limit on roads in Sentosa, including those in RWS premises.

    At 3.30am, Preston returned to the carpark to find his car missing. The car had been parked in front of Hotel Michael and he had given two warnings to valet staff not to move his car.

    It is understood the car is not covered by insurance when driven by a valet.

    An RWS spokesperson confirmed the hotel has been "made aware of this incident by the

    Read More »from Valet staff take Ferrari for a joyride in Sentosa
  • Former AMP board director backs out from May Day protest

    [UPDATE 30 Apr 3pm: Former AMP board director Nizam Ismail has pulled out from speaking at the May Day protests "as a personal protest against untruths on my purported political objectives".

    In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Nizam clarified that his pull-out reinforces how he is not seeking "political mileage" after deciding to drop his position at the Malay/Muslim self-help group and speak at the upcoming protests instead.

    As Nizam rubbished suggestions he was using AMP for political gains, he said he is in favour of a strong civil society and diverse views for Singapore to be resilient.

    "This will also allow my family and I to take a step back and have some quiet time on May Day for us to heal and to restrengthen our bonds," said Nizam.
    ]

    The charitable organisation from which a Muslim civil society leader resigned as director over alleged government efforts to stifle his airing of critical views declined to make further comment on the issue.

    A spokesperson for the Association of Muslim

    Read More »from Former AMP board director backs out from May Day protest

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