Saturday, October 08, 2016

Music to the ears

Minister Tan Chuan Jin justified legalising online gambling, saying that it is a growing activity and anyway, cannot be stopped entirely. Thus it would make sense to bring a part of this dark activity into the light so that it provides people with a guilt-free and legal avenue to engage in this erstwhile illegal activity. This decriminalising of online gambling in Singapore, with certain controls and conditions, will wipe out a criminal activity in one fell swoop. That's the main argument anyway, not to mention that it will increase government revenue from this once illicit activity. Minister Tan went into quite pedantic detail in an interview regarding this matter with Channel NewsAsia. I will not repeat the points, for by Minister Tan, and against by the Worker's Party and the National Council of Churches.

I would just like to add that the government, by the same argument and logic, should legalise the consumption of marijuana (cannabis) in Singapore. It is underground right now, and attracts draconian penalties when caught. In spite of all efforts to eliminate the trafficking of this drug and its use (if no one uses it, no one will traffic it, right?) remains unabated - the same as online gambling. After all, some countries have decriminalise the possession of the drug, including Australia, Austria and the US (in some States) as have some countries online gambling. But I suspect that the Singapore government will not do so anytime soon (or ever), never mind that the logic behind the easing of restriction on online gambling is exactly the same for consumption of marijuana.

I would suggest that the logic and argument that has been brought to bear on justifying the legalisation of online gambling has been quite selective and convinces no one except those for which it is music to the ears.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Gaming from home

Its a sad day for Singapore, or is it a day of celebration? Well, depends on your inclinations. For those who gamble, albeit small timers, legalizing online gambling in Singapore spells convenience (Today, 30 September 2016, pages 1-2). No more need to line up at the supermarkets or neighbourhood shops to get that daily/weekly fix of hope.

For the rest of us, it just confirms that we are now in free-fall down that slippery slope when the Singapore government made gambling on 4-D and Toto a respectable pass time and blessed casino gambling. While 4-D and Toto are not as financially draining compared to gambling at the table in Marina Bay Sands and Resort World Sentosa, I believe that one feeds on the other, resulting in increased gambling activity. It would appear that, with the latest 'licence', the government has blessed the gambling lifestyle even more. And why not? It rakes in a lot of money for the government coffers from these legalized betting, and will be raking in even more with online gambling. I for one am not enthusiastic of using money gained from gambling to fund social causes.

Sure, people have been betting online for ages, but these have been the exception rather than the rule. With the latest initiative, online gambling will go mainstream in Singapore. Now there is a reason for everyone, including our senior citizens to learn to use the computer, or own a tablet, or what the heck, make better use of their handphone besides sms'ing, facebook'ing and whatsapp'ing. Yeah, there is still this hassle of registering for the use of the online platforms, but considering that people are willing to queue up to buy the draw tickets every week, this will just be a one-time hassle. Heck, it wouldn't be far-fetched for someone to set up a business helping gamblers to fill in the forms and other paperwork so that all the applicant has to do is show up in person to start the ball rolling.

In case the reader is not certain about my stand, I'll be clear. I do not agree with this latest government initiative (whose else can it be?) to permit online gaming. I have added my name to the petition to "Stop the Legalisation of Online Gambling in Singapore".

Please add your name to this petition if you feel the same way. It may not make a difference at the end of the day, but it wouldn't be on our conscience for ignoring the evil that this licence to gamble online really is.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thinking anew

I congratulate the Singapore Government for granting our newly minted Olympian, Joseph Schooling a deferment of his National Service obligations for another 5 years, i.e. till 2020. The reason is so that he can take the time to train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Winning the first gold medal merely signals the start of more to come for this young boy. We should support him as much as we can.

This exemption, however, is nothing new, nor out of character for the government. Some, though, have been controversial, like the exemption that was granted to President Tony Tan's son, Patrick Tan, whose NS was disrupted so that he could proceed to the US to study medicine. He eventually returned with a PhD and completed his NS. Since the 1980's NS enlistees who secure a place in NUS to study medicine will have their NS deferred to train as doctors before they routinely complete their NS as Medical Offices (MO). Although the statutory age for enlistment is 18 years old, people who are students in the local Polytechnics are also granted deferment until they complete their Polytechnic studies, by which time they will be 19 or 20 years old.

Perhaps it is time to re-think NS deferments in the wider context, and not just for the sake of sporting achievements. I know of many young people who have great ideas and would have started companies to develop and eventually commercialise their products, if not for the disruptive 2 years that every Singapore male is obliged to put away soldiering in the fields. Some say they can do so once they join the universities after their NS. But for many, the spark of creativity may have been lost by then. Others will say the rewards go to the persistent and the resilient, so NS is a good "testing ground" to gauge whether the initial enthusiasm is a spark that is easily extinguished or continues to smolder. In the former case, we will never know what could have been.

It is really up to the government and its generals to rethink National Service, ironically, for the sake of our nation's economic future whether that is in sports or technological innovation..

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A page from Singapore's history

Singapore blood is coursing through this boy. Majulah Singapura!

Source: Google search

Statistics you never thought you'd ever see

It's real. The little red dot of an island is on the Rio Olympics leaderboard!

Schooling's Gold

Congratulation, Joseph Schooling, for winning Singapore's first ever Olympic Gold medal at the on-going Rio Olympic Games. Joseph Schooling won in the 100-metre butterfly swimming event today, the 13 August 2016. This is all the more noteworthy because he beat Michael Phelps, the world's best swimmer by Olympic medals, in the same event, pushing him to second place.

What a wonderful day for Singapore!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Finance (Minister) Recovers

Erstwhile Finance Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat, appears to have recovered from his stroke. A video recorded his discharge from hospital, all smiles all around. It shows him walking out of hospital, unaided, though unaccompanied. Funny this last, whenever a patient is discharged from hospital, you would expect to see at least a loved-one walking beside that person. The conclusion is that the video is all stage-managed with the objective of assuring Singapore, and perhaps the world financial markets, that all is well with the Finance Minister and that he can be expected to be back at work some time in the future. At this time though, the world is more worried about Brexit but it will be good to have Mr Heng contribute his intellect to this situation in the continued service of the government.

The report alludes to his need for continued therapy, which is to be expected for stroke patients, but he appears none the worse for wear. I wish Mr Heng godspeed in his journey towards full recovery.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fact, fake and opinion

Mr Chan Chun Sing, Government Whip in the current Parliament, and Member for the Group Representation Constituency of Tanjong Pagar, said that the motion by the Workers' Party to amend the NCMP scheme to transfer the seat vacated by best loser in the last General Election, Lee Li Lian, to the losing candidate of its own choice "must reflect the truth".  This goes without saying. How can Parliament even entertain the thought of passing a motion that are lies? We are, after all, not a banana republic. Yes, the truth must be stated. But the amendments to the motion introduced by Mr Chan is hardly the whole truth, or the truth was not the only thing that was reflected. It contains, yes, some truth (more accurately, fact), but also opinion and innuendo. Consider the amendment that was inserted to the motion:

“...regrets that Ms Lee Li Lian, having stood as a Workers’ Party candidate and received the highest vote share among all losing opposition candidates, has now decided to give up her NCMP seat to another candidate from her party with a lower vote share (FACT), contrary to the expressed will of the voters (OPINION + ASSUMPTION + INNUENDO). And that the WP supports this political manoeuvre  to take full advantage of the NCMP seat (OPINION + INNUENDO), even as its secretary-general criticises NCMPs as just duckweed on the water of the pond (FACT + INNUENDO)."

Given the many lawyers of high standing in the PAP ranks, it is regrettable that the party voted in this amendment as is. The Opposition and NCMPs (who are all WP members) wisely abstained over this vague and politically charged amendment to the motion.

As the saying goes, "All is fair in love and war", even innuendos and fiction disguised as fact and the "truth". tsk tsk tsk.