• A rescued migrant weeps upon arrival Simpang Tiga, Aceh province, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Hundreds of migrants stranded at sea for months were rescued and taken to Indonesia, officials said Wednesday, the latest in a stream of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants to reach shore in a growing crisis confronting Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)A rescued migrant weeps upon arrival Simpang Tiga, Aceh province, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Hundreds of migrants stranded at sea for months were rescued and taken to Indonesia, officials said Wednesday, the latest in a stream of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants to reach shore in a growing crisis confronting Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

    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.


    A tragedy unfolded in the seas even as Malaysia and Indonesia played a demented game of reverse tug-of-war, pushing boats full of desperate refugees away from their territories.

    Hundreds of migrants, many of them Rohingya from Myanmar, cram on to boats described as “floating coffins” in the hope of a better, safer life away from the strife and persecution they faced back home.

    It’s not a recent problem. This crisis – a genocide, even – has been in the making for years. Violent conflict in Rakhine state grabbed the international media’s attention in 2012, but the status of Rohingya in Myanmar has been problematic for decades.

    This is a problem that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has found itself unable to resolve, not

    Read More »from COMMENT: What should Singapore do to help stranded refugees?
  • Alfian Sa'at is a writer, playright and poet based in Singapore. He is the resident playwright at W!LD RICE. The views expressed are his own.

    By Alfian Sa'at

    I wasn't planning on writing about Amos Yee, but I'm quite upset by the way the media is painting him—with insinuations that he might fall within the autism spectrum, that he is so psychologically disturbed that he needs psychiatric evaluation, that there is something about his behaviour that might be 'abnormal'.

    I had the pleasure of having supper with Amos and his family. The mother, Mary Yee, is a twinkly-eyed lady who would lean in to listen to you speak. She looked perpetually curious and attentive, her head craning around even as she hugged her floral tote bag close to her. One could speculate that she's passed on some of that inquisitiveness to her only child.

    "You know Amos wanted to change his name?" she told us.

    "Why?"

    "Because his full name is Amos Yee Pang Sang. And in school the kids used to tease him and called him

    Read More »from COMMENT: A conversation with Amos Yee and family
  • Photo of children in Singapore. AFP file photo.Photo of children in Singapore. AFP file photo.

    Not too long ago, my son (I’ll call him Z) turned one.

    Someone once told me that your child’s first birthday is a momentous one. Not mainly because your child has developed so much over the past year … But because you, as a parent, have survived one whole year of dirty diapers, sleepless nights, and uncontrollable crying.

    So congratulations to all the parents out there who have passed this milestone!

    When I envision Z’s future, I’m hopeful. But I’m also afraid.

    Why?

    Because, through my work, I get to interact with thousands of teenagers every year. I’ve worked with teenagers who are disciplined, focused, kind, and enterprising.

    But at the other extreme, I’ve also worked with teenagers who are angry and out-of-control. Some of them even struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.

    So I wonder …

    Will Z become more like the first group of teenagers described above, or the second?

    Will he use his talents in the service of society?

    Will he become a person of unwavering integrity?

    I know

    Read More »from 15 things I want my son to know by the time he’s 15
  • 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.

    Let’s be clear: I detest The Real Singapore (TRS). Far from journalism, it has participated in rumour-mongering and the demonisation of groups of people, many already marginalised and stigmatised in society. If everyone in Singapore chose to stage a boycott of the site, or to write a public statement protesting its behaviour, I would be a most willing participant.

    Yet this isn’t what happened on Sunday, when the Media Development Authority (MDA) suspended TRS’ licence to operate. What happened - and on World Press Freedom Day, no less - was a government body summarily deciding to shut down a website, even before its ongoing court case has been concluded. 

    It’s unlikely that this particular website will be much missed by anyone with a sense

    Read More »from COMMENT: Why we should question the shutdown of The Real Singapore
  • 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 arrived at the State Courts on Friday just in time to see journalists pouring out of the courtroom, following a Deputy Public Prosecutor into a media huddle. He was going through the conditions of Amos Yee’s bail, now transferred from police to court bail. His parents had not yet decided whether they were going to post bail this time.

    Friends who had been in the courtroom told me that Amos had been whisked out of his closed pre-trial conference in handcuffs. The whole thing had been so quick that he hadn’t even had a chance to look up and see that people he knew were there for moral support.

    The major events have since been reported in the media. Amos is spending the weekend in remand. No one has yet come forward to bail him out. The bail

    Read More »from COMMENT: What Amos Yee is going through is far bigger than just one boy
  • 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.

    After decades of waiting, Singapore finally has two Malay full ministers in Cabinet.

    The recent Cabinet reshuffle saw Masagos Zulkifli promoted to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office as well as Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs. It’s a step forward for Malay representation in local politics, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s comment on his promotion deserves more scrutiny:

     

    “I am promoting Masagos Zulkifli to full Minister. He has performed well, both in his ministries and as an MP in Tampines. It is the first time we are having two Malay full ministers, which reflects the progress of the Malay community.”

     

    There’s quite a bit here to unpack. Firstly, why has it taken so long to have two Malay full ministers? And

    Read More »from Representation in politics: Whose progress is it?
  • Children in a classroom. AFP file photoChildren in a classroom. AFP file photo

    Do you want to be a successful student? If you’re a parent, do you want that for your children?

    There’s no running away from hard work. But becoming a successful student isn’t only about doing more. It’s also about saying the right things.

    Here’s why.

    By being intentional about the things you say to yourself and others, you’ll cultivate a success mindset. Only then will you find the intrinsic motivation to take consistent, productive action.

    And that’s what leads to success.

    So, to be a successful student, here are the 10 things to say every day:

    1. “My goal is progress, not perfection.”

    Nobody’s perfect. It’s impossible to get perfect grades, to have the perfect body, or to have the perfect social life. If your goal is perfection, you’ll eventually be disappointed and disillusioned.

    I’ve worked with students who are perfectionists. Several of them cut their wrists, suffer from eating disorders, or have suicidal thoughts.

    That’s scary, I know.

    Not all perfectionists have such serious

    Read More »from Want to be a successful student? Say these 10 things every day


  • 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.

    Lee Kuan Yew built a Singapore that was free and strong and rich, and none of us were allowed to forget it during the mourning period. Immediately following the state funeral, though, Singapore appears to have become weak and fragile and fearful – so much so that a kid with a webcam and two individuals with placards are deemed dangerous enough to be worth arrest and court charges, lest everything falls apart.

    Amos Yee (pic above) was charged last week for his YouTube video, while two individuals were arrested on Saturday for standing outside the Istana holding placards saying “You can’t silence the people” and “Injustice”. The state presumably read the former sign and simply thought, “Challenge accepted.”

    One could say that this is simply a

    Read More »from COMMENT: Freedom of speech in Singapore: a matter of security, or of trust?
  • >

    AHPETC office.AHPETC office.

    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.

    Speculation over impending elections got another little boost recently when news broke that People’s Action Party (PAP) activists had distributed flyers at night to residents of Aljunied Group Representative Constituency (GRC), encouraging them to question the Worker’s Party (WP) on lapses in the management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

    The flyers once again hammered on the point of accounting and corporate governance lapses in AHPETC – a new pet topic that the PAP will probably never tire of poking.

    Some think that this is a pretty low blow from the PAP, but negative campaigning is really just part of the cut and thrust of politics. It’s often a built-in component of political campaigning. Play up your

    Read More »from COMMENT: What we should ask about the PAP's flyer drop
  • Getting your children to do their homework – it’s a struggle, isn’t it?

    It seems like everything is more important to them than homework. Online gaming, social media, hanging out with friends, watching TV, playing sports… the list goes on.

    But it doesn’t have to be a daily struggle.

    In this article, I’ll explain seven ways to get your children to do their homework – no complaining from them, and no nagging from you.

    1. Make it clear that it’s their homework, not yours.

    Many parents seem to care more about their children’s homework than their children do. As such, the responsibility shifts from the children to the parents.

    But this shouldn’t be the case. After all, it’s your children’s homework, not yours.

    Help them to understand that their homework is their responsibility. Feel free to provide help or guidance, but you should never do the work for them.

    2. Don’t force them to do their homework.

    I can almost hear you saying, “But Daniel, if I don’t force my children to do their

    Read More »from 7 ways to get your children to do their homework (no nagging required!)

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