• Commuters commute at lunch hour at Raffles Place in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)Commuters commute at lunch hour at Raffles Place in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

    Shah Salimat is the editor-in-chief of culture news website Popspoken. He tweets at @firdianshah1. The views herein are not representative of his personal and professional affiliations.

    The recently-announced Budget introduced a slew of measures targeted at strengthening safety nets for the lower- and middle-income groups, empowering businesses to continue restructuring efforts and gain independence from manpower issues. It also sought to encourage lifelong learning through financing continuous training.

    Yet, nonchalance among some Singaporeans was worrying. Have we stopped keeping track of our government's finances? Why was there a lack of curiosity to analyse the Budget -- was it caused by the lack of additional cash "hongbaos"?

    Had Singaporeans become apathetic to how its government spends? Marred by the chase to stay afloat in the world's most expensive city, some Singaporeans -- going by the comments online -- balked at the lack of support given to ease current-day concerns
    Read More »from COMMENT: Is the “Singapore Dream” an elusive one?
  • Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

    It’s good for a country to look back on its history once in awhile. Good to stop and take stock of how far we’ve come, how much more we’ve got to go. It makes sense that we’re doing this on a massive scale during Singapore’s Jubilee year, but there’s one myth that really, really needs to be busted: the narrative of “fishing village to sparkling metropolis”.

    A recent BBC article framed Singapore’s growth as “swamp to skyscrapers” – a narrative most Singaporeans are familiar with by now. It’s a story we were told in schools, reinforced by numerous National Day Parades and referred to so regularly that it’s often left unquestioned.

    Yet it doesn’t take very long to find the flaws in the story. Colonised by the British in the early 1800s,

    Read More »from COMMENT: Singapore needs to look beyond the 'swamp to skyscrapers' narrative
  • Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

    Before the Budget speech was delivered there was some speculation about a Jubilee Budget of angpows to sweeten the population before the inevitable election. I suppose one could say that Singaporeans are still getting “angpows” in various forms, but it’s thankfully a little more holistic than that.

    2015’s Budget has shown a willingness – albeit not a whole-hearted plunge – to move towards more redistributive policies. High income earners will have to pay more income tax, but low- and middle-income families will be receiving more support in the form of concessionary levies for foreign domestic workers, childcare subsidies, and the Silver Support Scheme that will help provide for low income earners who may not have substantial amounts of CPF

    Read More »from COMMENT: Budget 2015 provides safety net for those who need it most
  • Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

    I wasn’t intending to follow the parliamentary goings-on, but they found me anyway, poking into my daily routine on Twitter and Facebook. People’s Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament (MPs), one after another, struck by the urge to express the depth of disappointment, anger and betrayal they felt over the Workers’ Party’s management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

    It was two days of back-and-forth. Judging by my social media feeds, I wasn’t the only person getting tired of all the accusations and – as Heng Swee Keat put it – wayang.

    There is plenty that WP should be open about. But so should all the other town councils. And who – apart from the mainstream media – has really forgotten about the whole Action

    Read More »from COMMENT: Municipal arguments shouldn't come at expense of bigger discussions
  • Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

    This is Singapore. We like things to be neat here. That much is clear.

    This obsession with neatness and preordained categories permeates to all aspects of our lives in Singapore. Case in point: the attachment to nuclear families. Neat, mother-father-two-kids-or-three-if-you-can-afford-it nuclear families.

    People who don’t fall into this category tend to get the short shrift. We saw this in action again in Parliament on Wednesday, when Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam explained that the Working Mother’s Child Relief and the Foreign Maid Levy Relief scheme were “to support married women who remain in the workforce and raise their children within the context of marriage” and would therefore not be extended to single mothers.

    The

    Read More »from COMMENT: Value children regardless of their parents' marital status
  • Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

    I doubt anyone shed a tear for Jover Chew when he found himself on the receiving end of a large amount of flak, trolling, and pizzas. He was, after all, a dishonest businessman and an awful person.

    But agreeing with the need for Chew to be punished should never be conflated with an endorsement of online vigilantism. This is also a problem that extends far beyond a single case of dodgy dealings in Sim Lim Square. 

    When someone’s bad behaviour is highlighted on social media platforms, it doesn’t take very long for his or her personal information to be broadcast to all. And I’m not just talking about Facebook profiles, but home addresses and personal telephone numbers. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that this information isn’t being shared

    Read More »from COMMENT: Cyber-vigilantism should not be normalised
  • 3 Simple Secrets Happy Couples Know3 Simple Secrets Happy Couples Know

    Building a happy marriage – it seems so hard, doesn’t it?

    We all have urgent problems to deal with at work and at home, so it’s easy to let our marriage take a back seat.

    But building a healthy marriage isn’t rocket science.

    People come to me for help if they want their children to become both happy and successful. As such, I’ve interacted with lots of married couples. Some are extremely happy, while others are extremely unhappy.

    What sets these two groups of couples apart?

    I’ve observed that it’s a series of simple, practical actions.

    In this article, I’ll list the 15 things I’ve observed that happily married couples do differently. (I’m married too, so I can confirm that these tips work!)

    Whether you’re married or hoping to get married in the future, I trust you’ll find this list useful:

    1. They wear their wedding ring in public all the time.

    It’s been said that wedding rings are the smallest handcuffs in the world. Understandably, unhappy couples often choose not to wear these

    Read More »from 15 simple things that happily married couples do
  • Let me ask you three simple questions about the year gone by:

    - Did you often feel like your to-do list was endless?

    - Did you often sacrifice sleep to get things done?

    - Did you frequently complain about how busy you were?

    If you answered “yes” to those questions, you were probably too busy in 2014.

    It doesn’t have to be like this in 2015.

    The strange reason why we ignore the most important things in life

    In an era where we’re connected 24/7, the line between work and leisure has become blurred. Even on a Sunday afternoon, you could send that email. You could reply to that text. You could do something “productive”.

    But should you?

    I face this temptation every time I have a day off. The temptation is even greater because I enjoy my job so much!

    And it’s not just me. Through my work with parents – many of whom are busy and stressed out – I know this is a widespread problem.

    Author Charles Hummel once observed that the most important things in life are also the most well-mannered. They

    Read More »from Parents, were you too busy in 2014? 4 ways to slow down in 2015
  • Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

    SG50 is nigh. The official celebrations will kick off with a huge countdown on New Year’s Eve; not a single second of 2015 to be wasted. 2014 might barely be remembered as anything more than the year that led up to the epic fiftieth anniversary. 

    There have been many discussions, opinions and Big Ideas about the journey Singapore has been on so far, the sort of society we live in, and where we want to go. We’ve argued over equality (or the lack thereof), Chinese privilege, prejudice and inclusivity. We might not have the answers, but at least there’s been some sort of start. What we need is to keep building upon it, and not to be afraid of talking about previously “taboo” subjects.

    Last week I chatted with a few elderly security guards,

    Read More »from COMMENT: Appreciate Singaporeans' diverse opinions and experiences
  • New 5 Cs that define Singaporean success

    You’ve probably heard of the 5 Cs: cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club.

    If you have those 5 Cs in Singapore, you’re considered successful.

    But I think it’s time for us to redefine success, both as individuals and as a nation.

    We’ve come a long way since Singapore gained independence five decades ago. If we want to take it to the next level, however, we need a new set of 5 Cs to aspire toward.

    To quote Guy Kawasaki, we need to make meaning, not just money. Adopting this mindset will enable us to move from good to great.

    Two years ago, I wrote about the 5 Cs that will make us happy. But we won’t find lasting happiness without a revised definition of success. That’s why I wrote this article.

    I propose these new 5 Cs of Singaporean success:

    1. Contribution

    We emphasise the importance of achievement, whether it’s in school, business, or any other area. We feel the pressure to work longer, harder and smarter, so that we can accomplish more.

    I’m a firm believer in hard work,

    Read More »from New 5 Cs that define Singaporean success

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