• 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.

    Politics is a dirty business, elections even more so. It’s hardly surprising that a poison pen about a candidate was sent to the press; whether it’s to make an opponent look bad or stoke up more public sympathy and support, there is no shortage of people with agendas when the stakes are high.

    What’s more disappointing, though, is the way the mainstream media took the bait when they received allegations that Workers’ Party candidate Dr Daniel Goh had had an affair with a former student. The letter, sent to newsrooms as well as the Workers’ Party, was signed off by a “Max Chan” and also alleged that the former student’s boyfriend had found out about the affair.

    The media ran the story. It was, in my opinion, a shockingly bad editorial

    Read More »from GE2015: A poison pen letter against WP’s Daniel Goh, but the media looks the worst
  • 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.

    Even before the National Day Rally began we knew we were in for a triple whammy: held in the year of not just Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, but also of Lee Kuan Yew’s passing and an upcoming election, we could expect nothing less than a speech in which the three threads would intertwine. 

    It wasn’t all rhetoric, of course. Positive social policies were announced, such as schemes to help lower-income families afford their own homes, and the extension of paternity leave to two weeks. The cynical would call them election goodies, but carrots or not, these schemes will likely turn out to be a boon for families in need of support. 

    When seen as a whole, though, this year’s National Day Rally was pretty much Lee Hsien Loong’s first big election

    Read More »from Acknowledging PAP leaders’ good work doesn’t mean you must automatically vote its candidates
  • Singapore Democratic Party's Pappy Washing Powder video. (YouTube screengrab)Singapore Democratic Party's Pappy Washing Powder video. (YouTube screengrab)

    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.

    Would you buy Pappy Washing Powder? According to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), who made an ad for it, it’s unrivalled in its ability to make everything white, erasing transparency and democracy off a T-shirt.

    The Media Development Authority (MDA), though, is less amused by the YouTube video, deeming it a party political film disallowed by the Films Act.

    That the film is party political is not in question – the SDP clearly has something to say about their rival party. But these videos by the People’s Action Party (PAP) have not been deemed to be disallowed party political films. 

    It’s a strange decision: the PAP videos introducing their new faces for the upcoming election is no less political – and for partisan purposes – than the

    Read More »from GE2015 COMMENT: Should we really ban party political films?
  • PM Lee unveils PAP's Ang Mo Kio GRC teamPM Lee unveils PAP's Ang Mo Kio GRC team

    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.

    Elections are looming – we know this for sure because the police have already come out to warn against mixing Hungry Ghost Festival events with political rallies. It’s the biggest democratic exercise that Singaporeans get to participate in, yet once again there are somewhat depressing and even alarming comments being made about elections in Singapore.

    First, we have candidates talking, as usual, about things like covered walkways, lifts and swimming complexes, as well as comments on the running of town councils – doubtless a swipe at the Workers’ Party over the never-ending Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) saga.

    Then we have the People’s Action Party (PAP) talking about “leadership renewal”, trying to position this

    Read More »from GE2015 COMMENT: Elections a time for big issues and big ideals
  • A couple share content on their mobile devices.A couple share content on their mobile devices.Success.

    Everyone wants it. And some who have already achieved it hunger for even more.

    But what does success mean? How do you ensure that your success is enduring, not just temporary?

    These are hard questions, and I don’t claim to have all the answers.

    But since completing my formal education and entering the “real world”, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to find long-term success.

    My mission is to empower youths to become both happy and successful. So these are my four words of advice to young people who want to succeed in life:

    1. Focus on contribution, not achievement.

    Society tends to emphasise achievement rather than contribution.

    But real success isn’t determined by how much you’ve achieved. It’s determined by how much you’ve contributed.

    And the size of your contribution isn’t limited by your job title. As Harry Beckwith once said, “There is no such thing as an ordinary job. There are only people who choose to perform them in ordinary ways.”

    Your contributions have less to do with

    Read More »from 4 words of advice for young people who want to succeed in life
  • 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.

    The Electoral Boundary Review Committee’s report dropped last Friday, followed swiftly by the tide of accusations of gerrymandering.

    Without any explanation or justification from the committee – indeed, without any transparency in the process at all – the boundaries certainly look a little suspect. What, after all, was the justification for removing Joo Chiat SMC? Why does Holland-Bukit Timah GRC go all the way from Ghim Moh to Mandai Zoo? How is it that someone living by East Coast Park shares a constituency with someone by Lorong Chuan MRT?

    This is not a geography that the average Singaporean can understand in his or her daily life travelling around the island.

    There are many reasons why an average Singapore might come to the conclusion

    Read More »from The electoral system will never be an election issue
  • 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.

    How much do we know about the cardboard collectors we see on the street, pushing along loaded trolleys, backs hunched? Recently Minister of Social and Family Development (MSF) Tan Chuan-jin accompanied a group of students to meet box collectors at Jalan Besar. Yet his findings has raised eyebrows among other volunteers.

    Reading his post reminded me of a cardboard collector I’d met last year. It was raining when we met her, and she wasn’t going to get very far walking alone pushing her trolley in that downpour, so she agreed to sit down with us at a coffeeshop for a chat.

    She’d earned just a couple of dollars that day. She said she wasn’t one of the regular ones because she couldn’t go around collecting cardboard all the time; her husband was

    Read More »from Why we shouldn’t take cardboard collectors’ comments at face value
  • Do you wish you had a better relationship with your children?

    Maybe your children don’t communicate much with you. They spend most of their time in their room, glued to their smartphone or computer.

    Maybe they also lack motivation – except when it comes to social media and gaming.

    If this describes your children, don’t despair. In this article, I’ll share with you specific ways to improve the situation.

    I’ve worked with 20,000 tweens and teens, and they’ve confessed to me why they behave this way.

    Want to know the reason?

    It’s because of the way their parents talk to them.

    Of course, the parent-child relationship is a two-way street. But if parents stopped saying certain things, children would become more communicative, respectful, and responsible.

    So here’s a list of 15 things that parents should stop saying to their children:

    1. “You always …” or “You never …”

    Have you ever said any of the following to your children?

    - “You always wake up late.”

    - “You always take the easy way out.”

    - “You always

    Read More »from 15 things parents should stop saying to their children
  • “You want people to stand up, not scrape and bow. But if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out.”
    -
    Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore At 50: What Lies Ahead? conference at the Institute of Policy Studies conference

    The word “aristocracy” has triggered shock and indignation, but the sentiment Lee Hsien Loong expressed on Thursday evening was not at all new.   

    It’d be inaccurate to believe that Lee was trying to describe Singapore as a place with a hereditary nobility/monarchy - what he was talking about is simply Singapore’s system of “meritocracy”. 

    Singapore, as we are often told, is a meritocratic society where people are rewarded for the amount of work they put in. What Lee is saying is that these industrious, ambitious, brilliant people should be accorded respect because they’ve earned and therefore deserve

    Read More »from COMMENT: Of "natural aristocracy" and earning your place
  • 15 ways to overcome smartphone addiction

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    Nomophobia is short for “no-mobile-phone phobia”.

    It’s the fear of being away from your smartphone or not having network coverage. And it’s on the rise.

    87% of young adults say that their smartphone never leaves their side, while 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up.

    Smartphone addiction is becoming a big problem. Here are some signs of addiction:

    - You frequently use your phone at mealtimes.

    - You spend more time on your phone than interacting with others in person.

    - You frequently use your phone when you know you should be doing something else more productive.

    - You frequently use your smartphone while performing tasks that require focus, e.g. completing an assignment, writing a report, driving.

    - You feel uncomfortable when your phone isn’t with you.

    - You sometimes check your phone in the middle of the night.

    Are you an addict, or do you know someone who is?

    (If you’re interested, you can take this free online smartphone addiction test designed by The

    Read More »from 15 ways to overcome smartphone addiction

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