22 October 2011
Bhutan is not the 'Shangri-la on earth', says Khaw
Posted: 19 October 2011 1839 hrs
Khaw Boon Wan speaking in Parliament
SINGAPORE: The measure of happiness has been a topic of debate in Parliament over the last few days, and constant references to Bhutan have been made as well.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan joined the debate, saying he visited the small nation a few years ago and the romanticised version of the ancient kingdom did not fit the reality he saw there.
In his speech in Parliament on Wednesday, he said Bhutan is not the "Shangri-la on earth" that some make it out to be.
Mr Khaw said: "Most of the time, I saw unhappy people, toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products. They have studied us because Singapore is also a tiny nation, living next to big neighbours.
"We have successfully transited from third world to first, and managed to create a functioning and harmonious society for our people. In their minds, Singapore could well be the Shangri-la and they want Bhutan to emulate Singapore."
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin weighed in on the discussion on what some perceive to be the government's obsession with economic growth at all costs.
He said the pursuit of GDP should not be an end but a means to an end.
Mr Tan said the main preoccupation at weekly Cabinet meetings has been to provide for Singaporeans and Singapore.
He added that the government is not perfect and there are things that it can do better and it will do its utmost.
"Life cannot be whittled down into an efficient equation, however effective it may be. Not everything is an economic digit; some of the most important things in life cannot be quantified. At the end of it all, it is about us as Singaporeans, and the future we want to build for our children. And we as the government must have the courage to play our role to lead and do the right things," said Mr Tan.
- CNA /ls
19 October 2011
“No, it is not even though we’re different, we are one. It is because we are different, we are one.” “政者正也， 子帅以正，孰敢不正”
Chen Show Mao’s speech (Debate on President’s Address)
Mr Speaker, Thank you, and congratulations.
Following our two elections this year, some commentators tell us that Singaporeans’ political differences are rising to the surface. Many of our leaders have expressed their concerns about the differences. They warned of divisions and called for unity. I’d like to remind us that differences are not divisions. It is the intolerance of differences that will be divisive.
I would like to quote a man who is not able to join us here today. In a newspaper interview, former Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo related what a Roman Catholic cardinal told him about the late Pope John Paul the Second. The cardinal had drafted, “Even though we’re all different because we speak different languages, we are one”. The Pope corrected him. “No, it is not even though we’re different, we are one. It is because we are different, we are one.” Mr Yeo then said, “I thought that was so profound and beautiful. In my first speech to the United Nations, I repeated that story because in the UN, it is also because we are different that we are one. To be a human being is to be different. The whole logic and driving force of biological life is diversification. An imposed unity is a false unity; it’s a contradiction in terms. To me, that is a core position, and Singapore is an expression of that core position.”
Singapore is an expression of that core position of diversity, and this must include political diversity in this day and age. Let me state quite clearly how I see myself as an opposition member of this parliament. I may challenge government policy in parliament, but I do not by definition oppose government policy. It does not mean that I do not support the government in its work. It is very simple. I am an opposition MP and will perform my role to voice alternative and opposing views in the law-making process, based on my party philosophy. But I submit to laws properly made because I believe they express the sovereign will of our people. You see, I do not believe that Parliament is just form, and no substance. I have been elected to serve in this Parliament and will do what I can to help make it work for Singapore, make it a First World Parliament after our own fashion. As an opposition MP, I am not the enemy of the government, I am a Singaporean and a patriot.
I believe that our community will come out of robust debates stronger. Not just in Parliament but in larger society as well. Social cohesion will be strengthened when we give people, including our young people, room to voice their views and grievances and participate in community affairs. This is being recognized in households and at work places around us and is affecting how they are run. There is no reason not to learn from it. But we must start from a position of difference, not a forced unity.
How do we move forward from a position of difference?
A wise Singaporean wrote to me recently on Facebook, “the key is always to set our ‘devilish’ pride aside and for both parties to communicate.” He did not mean political parties, but any two parties in a position of difference. He goes on, “The aim is not to impose one’s view over the other but to find as much common ground as possible for the good of the common objective both parties have… And yes, I have always practised this in the office and with the wife…so far so good.”
How do we expand the areas of common ground to accommodate political differences? I believe it will be best done through strengthening institutions that are non-partisan and capable of commanding the respect and allegiance of all Singaporeans in spite of their political differences. The office of the Presidency, for example. President Tan clearly intends this. In his swearing in ceremony he said, “I will strive to strengthen our common bonds and our core values that underpin our society. …Whatever your political views,… I will strive to the best of my abilities to represent you.”
The government in the addenda to the President’s address said, “The building of friendship, understanding and trust amidst increasing diversity will be supported through organisations such as the People’s Association and grassroots platforms such as the Inter-racial and Religious Confidence Circles.” We welcome this.
Let us Singaporeans take our cue from the President. Look for what Singaporeans’ different visions have in common and take our next steps in these areas of common ground. Let us ask ourselves “is there more we could do?” I believe that it would always be possible to find common ground among Singaporeans, even if it might now take greater efforts on the part of those of us here in this House. But it is possible – they call politics “the art of the possible”.
In the addenda to the President’s address, the government announced its plans to, “significantly enhance the transport infrastructure, quality and opportunities in education, healthcare and housing”. We endorse the goal. And we will hold the government to it.
We believe that Singaporeans in recent years have been underserved by enhancements in these areas. We believe that most of these enhancements are best thought of, not just as increased expenditure, but as investments in the human capital of our country, with long term benefits to our society, such as the productivity increase that the government calls our “fundamental economic challenge”. Adam Smith wrote many years ago about investments in a person, such as by the acquisition of new talents, he wrote, “such acquisition of talents always costs a real expense, which is a capital realized in his person. [but] Those talents, as they make a part of his fortune, so do they likewise that of the society to which he belongs.”
Many economists have long regarded expenditures on education and healthcare as investments in human capital. They produce income and other useful outputs for the individual over long periods of time. They also produce external benefits for the rest of society. When growing disparity in wealth suggest that more and more households may not be able to make the investments that may be needed to give their children a place at the same starting line as their cohorts, it is even more appropriate for the government to increase public investments in the human capital of our young people.
This is one of the goals the government set in the addenda to the President’s address: “Through our investment in Education, we ensure that every child, regardless of family circumstances and background, has access to opportunities.” That access to opportunities has to be meaningful and available to everyone.
Similarly, for many expenditures we make outside the areas of education and healthcare, If we just take an expanded view of the returns from these investments, we will be able to see their long-term benefits.
Take elder care for example. Our investments in this area do not just benefit our elders alone. They enhance the productivity of working family members who worry about their care. They sustain and unlock the rich social and cultural capital embodied in our elders, which enhance the efficacy of our economic capital. More importantly, taking good care of our elders who built the nation is the right thing to do in the “fair and just society” that the President wishes for Singapore. It strengthens our sense of community. It is consistent with the values that we wish to impart to our children. These are all intangible but significant returns on our investments.
This is part of our nationhood: these are the bonds that will hold us together in times of trouble.
Our social harmony needs to be sustained and cultivated, carefully ministered. We must invest in these efforts.
“People are the real wealth of a nation”, declared the United Nations’ inaugural Human Development Report over twenty years ago. “People are the real wealth of a nation,” this is especially true for our nation. Let us put our people at the center of our government policies.
Let us invest in Singaporeans. Invest in the future of Singapore.
Significant investments cannot be made all at once. In addition to fiscal discipline, we would need to watch out for inflation, for effects on our currency and competitiveness. But the investments must be made. So we should start now and engage in a long term sustainable investment pattern for the good of our people.
Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister concludes in his National Day rally speech that “ours is an improbable nation”. I cannot agree more with his call for all Singaporeans to treasure and fight for our improbable nation.
I would like to add that an improbable nation will be made more probable for future Singaporeans by the politics of possibility.
Mr Speaker, sir, I support the motion. And now in Chinese.
Chen Show Mao’s speech (Debate on President’s Address) (Mr Chen is the member of Parliament, Aljunied Group Representation Constituency, Paya Lebar Ward)
extracted from The Workers' Party Website
07 October 2011
Special thanks to Mr Lim Chee Yong for working on the video
A series of photos of living in Singapore HDB apartments, through the portray of Living Rooms of various Singaporeans from all walks of life staying in a HDB apartment.
李欣赏 Bob Lee
Bob's work bears testimony to his passion and desire bring a subject to light. His work depict his heart’s desire to capture the minute,
the mundane and the increasingly oblivious. The outcome of this manifestation brings forth compelling images that invoke emotions and
arouses curiosity. Viewers marvel at nature’s wonder through his lens whilst questioning the core purpose of humanity.
His numerous accolades and awards, garnered both locally and interntionally bears testimony to his immaculate craft. In 2003, he
beat over 200 top photojournalists from 32 countries to clinch the top award in the Behind the Scenes category of the ClickArt: World
Photojournalists Meet. His other notable awards include the Jurors’ Choice in the Singapore Art Awards 2005, Honourable Mentions in The International Photography Awards 2007, the Gold Award in the 'Best In Feature Photography' category in the Ifra Asia Media Awards 2008, Honourable Mentions in Prix de la Photographie, Paris 2009, just to name a few.
His work extends out of an image into numerous publications and exhibitions. In 2003, Bob published his first book, Have a Little
Faith, highlighting the daily life of the Sikh and Jewish community in Singapore. The book project led to his inaugural solo exhibition held
at the Singapore History Museum in the same year. In 2004, he launched his second exhibition and publication, One Room Flat, a unique
exhibition which revealed the life of the one-room flat elderly dwellers. In 2008, Bob published his third book "ah bob baba zhouji".
The publication comprises a compilation of blog entries and photos documenting the trials and tribulations of himself, a first-time
father. In 2009 Bob launched his second solo exhibition ‘CurioCity: Photographs from My Toy Camera’ and subsequently published his 4th
publication ‘Curiocity - U and I’ in February 2010.
Albeit all these achievements, Bob has remained level-headed and continuosly groom our young generation as a lecturer teaching
Photography in Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (2005 - 2007), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (2008 - present) and Egg Story Digital Arts School (2007 - present). He also contributes, searching for budding photographers, as guest judge for photography competitions such as 2009 National Museum of Singapore "Spot & Shoot 2009 – Our Landscape", 2009 Canon Photo Marathon, 2007 North East CDC "SNAP", 2005 NUS Montage, 2005 NTUC"Vitality & Me".
MEDIA AWARD)最佳特写照片组别中获得金奖；同年5月，他在新加坡报业控股的华文报集团常年新闻奖中拿下了"最佳年度新闻照片"；在2005年，他获得"菲利普·莫里斯（Philip Morris)新加坡艺术奖"中的最高荣誉－－评审大奖。在2003年"ClickArt 国际艺术新闻摄影集会 " 中
欣赏从马来西亚吉隆坡林国荣创意科技学院广告设计系毕业，主修摄影，后来取得University of Western Sydney
Multimedia Department），数码动画公司 EggStory Academy (2007-2009) ，以及义安理工学院中文系（2008-2010）教导摄影。
extracted from http://www.bobleeks.com/biodata.php
02 October 2011
"Garota de Ipanema" ("The Girl from Ipanema") is a well-known bossa nova song, a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.
extracted from wikipedia
"Waters of March" (Portuguese: "Águas de Março") is a Brazilian song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jobim wrote both the English and Portuguese lyrics. The lyrics, originally written in Portuguese, do not tell a story, but rather present a series of images that form a collage; nearly every line starts with "É..." ("[It] is..."). In 2001, "Águas de Março" was named as the all-time best Brazilian song in a poll of more than 200 Brazilian journalists, musicians and other artists conducted by Brazil's leading daily newspaper, Folha de São Paulo.
The inspiration for "Águas de Março" comes from Rio de Janeiro's rainiest month. March is typically marked by sudden storms with heavy rains and strong winds that cause flooding in many places around the city. The lyrics and the music have a constant downward progression much like the water torrent from those rains flowing in the gutters, which typically would carry sticks, stones, bits of glass, and almost everything and anything. The orchestration creates the illusion of the constant descending of notes much like Shepard tones.
In both the Portuguese and English versions of the lyrics, "it" is a stick, a stone, a sliver of glass, a scratch, a cliff, a knot in the wood, a fish, a pin, the end of the road, and many other things, although some specific references to Brazilian culture (festa da cumeeira, garrafa de cana), flora (peroba do campo) and folklore (Matita Pereira) were intentionally omitted from the English version, perhaps with the goal of providing a more universal perspective. All these details swirling around the central metaphor of "the waters of March" can give the impression of the passing of daily life and its continual, inevitable progression towards death, just as the rains of March mark the end of a Brazilian summer. Both sets of lyrics speak of "the promise of life," perhaps allowing for other, more life-affirming interpretations, and the English contains the additional phrases "the joy in your heart" and the "promise of spring," a seasonal reference that would be more relevant to most of the English-speaking world.
When writing the English lyrics, Jobim endeavoured to avoid words with Latin roots, which resulted in the English version having more verses than the Portuguese. Nevertheless, the English version still contains some words from Latin origin, such as rhyme, promise, dismay, line, plan, rest, pain, mountain, distance and mule. Another way in which the English lyrics differ from the Portuguese is that the English version treats March from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere. In this context, the waters are the "waters of defrost" in contrast to the rains referred to in the original Portuguese, marking the end of summer and the beginning of the colder season in the southern hemisphere.
The song was used by Coca-Cola for a jingle in the mid-1980s concurrent with the "Coke is it!" campaign, which ran until 1988, and was most recently the track for a 2008 British Gas advert in the UK and in Italy. In the Philippines, it was also used in the early 90s as the soundtrack for an advertising campaign for the newly developed Ayala Center.
Composer-guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves relates that Jobim told him that writing in this kind of stream of consciousness was his version of therapy and saved him thousands in psychoanalysis bills.
Prof. Charles A. Perrone, an authority on contemporary Brazilian popular music (Musica Popular Brasiliera -MPB), wrote about the song in his doctoral dissertation (1985), an abridged version of which was published in Brazil as Letras e Letras da MPB (1988). He notes such sources for the song as the folkloric samba-de-matuto and a classic poem of pre-Modernist Brazilian literature.
extracted from wikipedia
This song in this video is in French "Les eaux de Mars".
01 October 2011
● 周殊钦 报道
这从老年人口赡养比例（old-age support ratio）的变化趋势可以看出。以公民人口而言，这个比例在2000年是9.3，去年是7.2，今年进一步下跌至7.0。换言之，在十年前，大约有超过9名年龄介于15岁至64岁的公民一起赡养一名年满65岁者，现在只剩下7名这么做。
这次事件，缘于一名1986年以来一直在港工作，大部分时间都在为同一个家庭服务的菲佣伊万杰琳（Evangeline Banao Vallejos）。她在2008年4月向香港入境处申请成为香港永久居民，但处方根据《入境条例》有关条文拒绝其申请。同年12月，她向人事登记处申请再度被拒，遂向人事登记审裁处提出上诉，但也于去年6月被驳回。