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    Just how compassionate are Singaporeans? (Yahoo photo)Just how compassionate are Singaporeans? (Yahoo photo)

    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.

    COMMENT

    When Charlotte Ashton and her husband moved to Singapore, a friend posted a link on her Facebook wall to a survey revealing Singaporeans to be one of the least positive people in the world. “Good luck in misery city!” he said.

    Ashton’s experience in Singapore has now gone on to be a viral op-ed on the BBC’s website entitled "Does Singapore deserve its 'miserable' tag?". Singaporeans are passing it from one social media profile to another, arguing over how awful it really is to live in Singapore. Some have leapt on the piece as an opportunity to once again rehash complaints about the city, while others insist that Ashton has made it all up.

    I don’t doubt Ashton’s account of crouching on the floor of an MRT train with no one to

    Read More »from COMMENT: Why Singapore is so much more than ‘misery city’
  • Daniel Wong is a learning and personal development expert, as well as a certified youth counselor. A sought-after speaker and coach, he is also the best-selling author of "The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success". He offers programmes to help students attain exam excellence while also finding happiness and fulfillment, and to empower parents to motivate their unmotivated teenagers. He writes regularly at www.daniel-wong.com. Download his FREE e-books, "The Unhappiness Manifesto: Do You Make These 150 Mistakes In The Pursuit Of Happiness?" and "Singapore Scholarship Guide: The $500,000 Decision". The views expressed are his own.

    Nobody likes rules. We associate rules with structure and rigidity—that doesn't sound fun at all.

    But I'm sure you'll agree with me that it's necessary to have some rules. Imagine the chaos if there were no traffic rules, or the lawlessness if there were no rules in sports.

    In a similar way, there are parenting rules that exist—and

    Read More »from Five rules smart parents never break
  • Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes at www.rangosteen.com. The views expressed are his own.

    Meet Sandy Snakenberg, the 53-year-old sports trainer who uses the bicycle as a form of transport. Two weeks ago, Sandy got a visit by the traffic police because someone had lodged a police report alleging him to be the reckless cyclist featured on citizen journalism site Stomp.

    “Yes, yes, I know we all look the same,” moans Sandy. “But look at him, he’s got a different smile, he’s lighter in skin and he’s got a different bike”. It was clearly a different person. Sandy adds he always rides with a helmet camera.

    Yet he remained on police records a “suspect” until only a couple of days ago. He won’t get an apology from the person who ratted on him, because whistle-blower details are confidential.

    “So what do you think of the cyclist in the video?” I asked.

    “He’s a dick” was the sharp reply.

    “But let’s be fair, the video had no

    Read More »from Sports trainer gets mistaken for cyclist in Singapore viral video
  • 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.

    Over the years we’ve heard plenty about the need for more Singaporean couples to have children. What we’ve not heard more of, though, is about sex and the quality of sex that Singaporeans are having.

    It was this issue that a panel of three experts attempted to tackle Friday at a talk on emotional and sexual satisfaction. With 61 per cent of men and 57 per cent of women in Singapore agreeing that mutual sexual satisfaction is crucial for a successful relationship, remarkably little attention has been paid to such a topic.

    As the talk went on, it became evident that society’s reticence in talking about sex has fed into issues of sexual satisfaction and dysfunction. Sex has been made mysterious, and people are uncomfortable to approach the

    Read More »from COMMENT: Taking the talk out of the bedroom on International Women’s Day
  • A protester holds up a placard during the Population White Paper protest last year. (Yahoo file photo)A protester holds up a placard during the Population White Paper protest last year. (Yahoo file photo)

    Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh is a writer. Together with Donald Low, associate dean for executive education and research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Sudhir is the co-author of an upcoming book, Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus, to be published by NUS Press in April 2014.

    Singapore needs to address its drastic wealth inequality in order to, among other things, reduce social tensions, improve social mobility and maintain its commitment to building a fair and just society.

    While there has been much discussion about income inequality in Singapore’s recent past, wealth inequality has garnered little attention. This is partly because of a paucity of official data. But a report on global wealth last year by Credit Suisse, an investment bank, suggests that Singapore has one of the biggest wealth disparities in the world.

    Why worry?

    In any capitalistic society, some inequality is desirable as the just rewards for differing effort, which incentivises people to work

    Read More »from COMMENT: Why it’s time to take a good, hard look at wealth inequality in Singapore
  • No university degree = meaningless life?

    I once spoke to a teacher (I'll call him Sean) who taught for a number of years at a school where most of the students weren't academically inclined.

    He shared with me the sense of helplessness he felt.

    "I knew that few of my students would attend university, so for most of them, their lives would never amount to much," Sean explained matter-of-factly.

    I was stunned.

    Did I actually hear a teacher say that a person's worth in life is primarily based on whether he or she receives a university degree?

    Did Sean really believe that you need to be a university graduate in order for your life to "amount to something"?

    Please don't misunderstand; I think that education is important and that tertiary education can be an enriching experience. But your success or failure in life isn't defined by what certificates, diplomas or degrees you've been awarded. Far from it!

    Sean's words rang in my head again and again over the next few days.

    "Good, better, best"

    Read More »from Is your diploma/degree/certificate making you a failure?
  • Police officers watch over migrant workers as they wait for shuttle buses to take them back their dormitories in Little India. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)Police officers watch over migrant workers as they wait for shuttle buses to take them back their dormitories in Little India. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

    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 Committee of Inquiry into last December’s riot in Little India is now underway. Different witnesses appear each day, providing their perspective of what happened that night.

    The findings of the committee won’t be published for about six months, and so it’s still impossible to comment what their investigation will reveal. But what we can already see from the inquiry is the layers and layers of complexity surrounding what happened on the fateful night of December 8.

    For example, Senior Staff Sergeant Mydeen Sahul Hameed said the workers who rioted were upset that their friend had died, but also felt that they were not respected in Singapore.

    Other accounts by auxiliary police officers said the female bus timekeeper Wong Geck Woon had

    Read More »from COMMENT: Ongoing Little India COI shows complexity of factors led to riot
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    LoveSingapore's controversial pro-377A guide has sparked heated debate. (Screengrab)LoveSingapore's controversial pro-377A guide has sparked heated debate. (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.

    Following the leak of a LoveSingapore document advising church leaders on how to mobilise supporters for Section 377A, chairman Lawrence Khong has come out to (once again) assure us all that he is not a homophobe.

    “We are not against people. Not even people who practise alternative sex,” he wrote in a statement to the press.

    [Pro-377A guide is available in full here.]

    According to Khong, he and his fellow pro-377A campaigners are merely concerned about the nation, and concerned about families. They portray themselves as the valiant protectors of Singapore’s “silent majority” and “moral law”.

    But it’s all merely an illusion. LoveSingapore is a religious organisation, determined to influence Singapore – a secular Singapore – with their

    Read More »from COMMENT: Why controversial pro-377A guide and Lawrence Khong is skewing gay debate
  •  Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes at www.rangosteen.com. The views expressed are his own.

    NTUC’s family development unit, U Family published a happiness survey last week citing 9 out of 10 working Singaporeans are happy overall.

    As soon as the survey hit the internet, netizens turned out in full force hurling skepticism and cynicism at the report. They jeered, they booed, they flung their cyber tomatoes and eggs at the NTUC for even daring to publish the results of the survey.

    In a reflective moment, I wondered if we really are unhappy -- or merely love contrarian opinions.

    Our forefathers left their homes and travelled far, seeking happiness. They settled on a South East Asian island and stayed to press on, build a shining city of skyscrapers and give us a standard of living so remarkably different from what they knew.

    Where once their life was simple, ours is today very, very complex.

    My grandmother used to tell me

    Read More »from COMMENT: The hard reality (and choices) about achieving happiness in Singapore
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    Can a citizen journalism site teach "good" online behaviour? (Screencap from STOMP)Can a citizen journalism site teach "good" online behaviour? (Screencap from STOMP)

    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.

    STOMP, Singapore Press Holdings' "citizen journalism" portal, is now taking it upon itself to teach the Internet good manners.

    "Stomp has received many contributions about netizens behaving like idiots on facebook. They commit various inappropriate acts on facebook like making racist comments, scolding their parents, smoking, posing for photos in a state of undress and damaging public property, just to name a few," says an article on it's Don't be a Facebook Idiot campaign. "Stomp will regularly highlight such errant behaviour in the hope that netizens will refrain from making offensive postings on facebook."

    In other words: STOMP is going teach people manners by putting them up on the website for a good ol' session of shame-and-flame.

    Read More »from COMMENT: Can STOMP really teach good internet behaviour?

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