I think the loss of Chinese dialects in Singapore is one of the saddest things to happen. It’s almost like the loss of an entire language, to me
Many of the Chinese Dialects used here are supposedly also used in China, Malaysia etc. But really, no one speaks it the way Singaporeans do (Of course, no one speaks it quite the way the Malaysians do, but that doesn’t make our dialects any less unique)
In Singapore, much of our dialects, especially Hokkien and Teochew, 2 of the most commonly used, have adopted many Malay words. It’s become so integral to our unique Hokkien/Teochew, that we don’t even feel as if we are mixing 2 different languages. In fact, I never realised the extent to which we’ve made our Dialects our very own, until I started speaking it to the locals when I went to China, or until I started to speak with some of the recent immigrants from Xiamen, Teochew etc.
And even though the Malaysians have also incorporated many Malay words into their dialects, we can always tell the difference when a Malaysian speaks any of the Dialects, including Mandarin.
The evolution of this Dialects reflects our history, at a very personal level. It reflects the journey our families’ ancestors took coming here, the friends they made here, their efforts at becoming Singaprean. I suppose the loss of these Dialects, also tells another part of our story
There’s nothing wrong with abortion counselling per se. Done well, I think it’s necessary.
What’s wrong is just the way we’re doing it here in Sg, going by this Asiaone article
And here’s the list of what i think is wrong. Do add on if i’ve left out any.
There is mandatory pre-abortion counselling if the women are Singapore citizens or permanent residents; have passed the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE); have at least some secondary education, and have fewer than three children.
There is no counselling for foreigners, rape victims or Singaporeans with three or more children, and those who have not passed the PSLE. If they seek an abortion, they get it right away.
Those who are counselled watch an abortion-counselling video entitled Abortion – Consider With Care, which tells them about the procedure and its implications.
They are also given pamphlets to read on the topics: The Truth About Abortion and Contraceptive Methods – Which One Is Best For Me.
Judging from the above criteria
Certain types of children (those with educated, Singaporean/PR mothers who haven’t fulfilled their duty of having 3 kids) are preferred. The rest can, literally, go and die. If this is not eugenics, what is this?
One common argument is that certain families are in the position to provide better care and hence a better future for their children. Eg. Educated mothers (strange , but i wonder : if the father is a freaking genius with multiple PhDs , would they then counsel the mother if she’s got no education??)
This argument brings me to my next few points
You don’t need to be fantastically educated to be a good parent. Having money/no money doesn’t make you a good/bad parent. Surely this doesn’t need elaborating?
However, it is true that if you are well-educated, you have a much better chance of providing your child with more resources to help him/her succeed. Eg. elite pre-schools & loads of tuition.
Why aren’t our tax money and State resources more equally distributed to give every child a level playing field and a fair chance at succeeding in life? Isn’t that part of our much beloved meritocracy, where you succeed based on your merit, not on the amount of money your parents have?
Why aren’t we helping our families-in-need cope better? Why is abortion subtly encouraged as a solution? “The biggest group of abortions, 44.1 per cent, involved women with secondary, O-level or Institute of Technical Education education. Many said they could not afford to have the baby.”
They make it seem as if an increasing number of educated women are aborting their babies (Do you hear them saying “Tsk tsk, all these selfish women are more interested in making money and sacrificing their babies to do that?”)
“In 2011, 36.3 per cent of all abortions involved university or polytechnic graduates – more than double the 15.6 per cent in 2003.”
What the article doesn’t state is that the proportion of women with university or polytechnic qualification has tremendously jumped. Going by the Census2010, 74% of women 25-29yr old have poly or uni qualification, compared to 40% of 40-44yr old women. Obviously if we are having a greater proportion of educated women, there’ll be a corresponding increase in the demographics of women undergoing abortions?
Scarily, some people still believe that smart moms pass on smart genes to their babies. A belief that supposedly justified the Graduate-moms-should-have-more-babies policies in the 80s. This is way more mythical than Santa Claus, the Lochness Monster and aliens combined. I’d rather believe in Santa Claus and aliens. (Yes, I know I’m not providing very logical arguments here, but I honestly can’t be bothered to, when you can simply google “do smart moms pass smart genes to babies?” )
Granted, community help groups in Singapore do see a disproportionate proportion of dysfunctional families with too many kids and not enough education. Like, WAY to many kids. How does our policy of mandating contraceptive education (part of counselling) for those with LESS than 3 kids but NOT for those with MORE than 3 kids help? Isn’t this the best opportunity to provide contraceptive education ??!!! Often, the woman KNOWS that she has way too many kids than what the family can afford. The thing is, having too many kids is sometimes a symptom of much bigger problems —- her inability to negotiate and stand up to unreasonable demands from her husband , for example. It’s a marvelous opportunity to help the woman and her family in a holistic way, and to prevent other problems from happening. But these women are simply given the abortion, no questions asked, no counselling provided, it seems.
I chanced upon this comment on a public Facebook page, “ 7yrs ago wen i found out i was pregnant ,WITHOUT MY OPINION, i was refer for a abortion due to my marital statues… thinking back now i know the reason, being a unwed mother is a disadvantage in our government policy.. their policy indirectly indicating to abort or give ur unborn child for adoption.. if one wants to bring up their unborn child its gonna be a tougher obstacles when it comes to chilcare leave to housing… ect..ect btw my unborn child is now a healthy 7yrs old… im celebrating motherhood every moment of my life im glad ive make a right decision to be a mother…” (Caps mine)
Supporting legal abortions doesn’t make one Pro-Choice, not when the woman’s opinion isn’t even sought and the decision made on her behalf. This applies to every other group of women who are automatically channeled for the abortion without counselling. Women with lower education are more vulnerable to begin with, and may have been pressured by family/relatives to undergo the abortion, when she herself might not want to. Her ability and power to negotiate with her family may be non-existant. Without a proper counselling process, how do the doctors know that this is truly her wish?
Considering how abortions are, at the end of the day, medical procedures , a patient’s understanding of the possible side effects, known consequences and alternatives are important for the patient to make informed decisions. Women with lower education are at greater risk of not understanding such information, since they may lack the access or ability to fully understand publicly available information. This means that it is particularly important that these vulnerable women be provided the necessary information before undergoing the medical procedure. Ironically, these women are “spared” the mandatory counselling
I’ve not had the opportunity to find out details of what the counselling really entails, but going by anecdotal stories and by their inclusion criteria, it’s very believable that the “counselling” is really an unethical effort t guilt-tripping these women during this emotionally-trying period of their life. Really, these women need support, regardless of the choices available to them. Not more guilt, on top of what they might already be feeling.
So it seems apparent that the State is trying to persuade women to hang on to “unwanted” babies, in an attempt to up our TFR. Multiple studies have shown that women know when an environment or situation is bad for bringing up babies, so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea upping the TFR within such environments, by inducing guilt. Since many married women give up their pregnancy because they “cannot afford it”, I honestly wonder if part of the counselling package also includes financial assistance to help the mother. That would at least be a tad more sincere, and the least the State could do while they are benefitting from the TFR. I doubt so though. I’ve long been a strong proponent of comprehensive sexuality education, where we teach girls (while you still can catch them in school) contraceptive methods, and skills to negotiate for the use of contraception within a relationship. I strongly believe that prevention is better than cure , and that we should be PREVENTING women from even getting an unwanted pregnancy and having to make the painful decision of whether to keep the pregnancy. Having ineffective sexuality education increases unwanted pregnancies both within and outside of marriage, and these pregnancies are not the way to increase our TFR
- Crap #11
The most vulnerable group. A group that not only gets insufficient support and counselling, but often are pressured by both law, employers, and their need of a job to undergo abortion. Seeing as many domestic workers here are either Muslim or Catholic, I’m wondering why the religious conservatives aren’t crying bloody murder and demanding the laws be changed. I’d have thought they would, after how they hijacked ESM Goh’s walk to make their political statement. I think it might be because too many of them have maids themselves.
I have to be very honest, and say that the last few days have presented the biggest challenge to my Christian faith.
These days, I find it so increasingly impossible to identify with a group that seeks to use the law — a tool that jails & oppresses — against homosexuals it claims to “love”. First it was FCBC Pastor Lawrence Khong’s FB posts (here & here) calling for homosexual men to be jailed. Then it was Cornerstone Community’s note calling Christians to battle LGBTs. The last straw was National Council of Churches of Singapore calling for homosexual women to be jailed as well.
Since I was young, the church has preached the importance of communal worship to me, but I honestly cannot worship with such people. You know, I respect & would even defend the church’s right to believe that homosexuality is sinful in the eyes of God.
But I cannot support the use of force and violence (Cornerstone Comm church calls Christians to battle against homosexuals). I dread to think that our church might be no different from countries that seek to pass a law that executes homosexuals, if our law had originally called for execution rather than a jail term.
What holds my faith together though, are stories of how Prophets and Jesus himself, stood against the religious leaders & organisations of their day, when they believed the religious organisations sinful. I remind myself that one can still remain in God’s grace and salvation even if one rejects or speaks against the teachings and actions of the earthly institution of God.
And so, yes, after everything, I still believe in God & Jesus Christ.
But the Jesus Christ I love & worship is one who’d rather drink from a Samaritan woman’s jar than the Pharisee’s cup; one who would rather stand with the non-religious Humanists who have unfailingly stood by the persecuted LGBT, than a church who claims to love but seeks to jail homosexual children of God.
The audience cheers and laughs as the boy repeatedly throws himself on the girl, trying to hug her, no matter how hard she tries to push him away.
“how cute!” most of the Facebook comments went.
When this was posted on Facebook, someone commented “that little girl is being such a b***tch about it… hehehe”
Following which I commented that “Boys need to be taught the right values at this young age to respect the rights n wishes of others. If the girl says No, she means No. Get lost n don’t force yourself on her. And girls should stop being called bitches for saying No to a guy.”
The commenter was apologetic and said they were joking and being light-hearted about it. In fact, “the boy wasn’t being forceful too. If anything it was the girl applying force onto the boy. He was trying to show affection here and not trying to molest her. I think the lesson is perspective.”
This is a very common form of socialization we put our children through, that makes them think it’s ok to harass a woman, even when they are older. It’s important to instill the right values as children, even though it looks cute now, because it affects how we view the world and treat others as adults
In the adult world, in the workplace for example, you get male colleagues who start of genuinely trying to be nice and affectionate and genuinely trying to get his female colleague to date him
If she says No repeatedly, and he continues his behavior repeatedly, no matter whether he uses force at all, that’s disrespectful, and that’s workplace sexual harassment
And colleagues tend to blame the VICTIM, some by calling her a bitch, some by calling him cute and persistent, some by calling her oversensitive for something they see as light hearted n a big joke. Some, like the commenter, fault her for being “forceful” in her rejection, even though sexual harassment victims are often doubted and questioned “Why didn’t you say No? Why didn’t you be clearer? Why didn’t you report?”
The commenter is spot on, though, that it’s about perspective. Whose perspective do we take seriously, whose perspective do we dismiss?
To the victim, it’s not a joke. Many women feel very stressed n even quit their job, because of the stress
Of course this can happen the other way round where the woman is persistent (in which case we don’t call it cute but desperate if she’s ugly, slutty if she’s pretty).
Point is, we don’t want our sons n daughters to grow up victims or harassers. So childhood is when to teach them.
It starts with situations like what we see in the video. We tell our sons and daughters that it’s not right, not without permission, not with her saying No. Like how we tell them that it’s not right to try and take away another child’s toy repeatedly, after the owner says No. We do not encourage them to “keep trying until you succeed” at something that’s disrespectful.
Before you go on about how I should chill, because they are just kids, and no one would ever applaud adults doing something like that, here’s another video that’s being celebrated (by some). It attempts to garner sympathy for guys who’ve ever been turned down by a hot chick, despite all the many (silly) things that he’s done for her. How? By gathering the bros with the divine call “Someone has to destroy her, before she grows stronger and decimates all of mankind. Someone hold her, shove a sharp stake through her heart. Watch her turn to ash. Then we can live life again, free from tyranny”
This video reflects a culture which celebrates a man’s persistence in doing things for a girl, to pursue a girl, and admires him more if he persists in the face of rejection. It’s a culture fueled by movies that always rewards the man’s effort by giving him the girl. And demonises any girl who chooses to remain unmoved by his efforts, making it appropriate for her to be punished —- in another words, sending the message that a woman who rejects you deserves to be blamed, harassed, assaulted.
If you’ve experienced or are experiencing sexual harassment, or know someone being harassed, or think that you might have been guilty of harassment, or would simply like to know more, here’s a site to check out http://shout.org.sg/
I found it very touching to see the Humanist Society (who believe being good without god) supporting the Freedom to Love. At the same time, it’s so disappointing that there was not a single church (whose founder said “by this all men will know you are my disciples, that you love one another”).
People who do not subscribe to a religion, or who do not believe in the divine/deities, often get stereotyped as immoral, materialistic people who have no reason to do good. Humanists (http://humanist.org.sg/) are people who do not subscribe to a religion, or who do not believe in the divine/deities, yet believe in being/doing good, simply for the sake of being good.
I believe in the Christian God. I love the parable the founder, Jesus Christ, told, when he summarized the essence of Christianity :
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 – 37 (NIV))
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite(a member of the religious class), when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan (a member of a group that religious leaders considered ‘ungodly’), as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii(ancient currency) and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
In Singapore’s context today, the majority of lesbian,gay,bisexual or trangender (LGBT) people “ have experienced verbal or physical abuse, ranging from derogatory name-calling to sexual harassment and physical assault.” (June 17, 2012 Straits Times “Many gays, transgender people teased, bullied: Survey” by Candice Neo http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_811916.html )
To any LGBT person at PinkDot yesterday, where the Humanist Society banner stood, where not a single church banner stood it was clear who loved, who supported the freedom to love, who was their neighbor. As a believer of Christ, I was deeply disappointed.
Yes, there were many Christians who turned up at PinkDot, in their own personal capacity, to support family and friends. Christians who reflected the love of Christ. Yet, I’m quite certain, none of their churches officially thanked and commended them for their love and support. Like Jesus, who was condemned by the religious authorities of his own community for healing the sick on the holy days, or hanging out with the community’s outcasts, I’m sure Christians who support the Freedom to Love have faced similar disapproval. I’m so glad there are such Christians who have chosen love over religious self-righteousness/unquestioning faith. I’m sure their LGBT friends deeply appreciate their love too.
What do I hope for at next year’s PinkDot? I hope we will see banners from all the different religious groups, showing that their messages of love, compassion, kindness, justice does not extend only to straight people, but people of all colors of the rainbow.
Could a major reason for Singapore’s appallingly low Total Fertility Rate(TFR) be the appallingly high GINI Coefficient? I’m not referring to the struggles of the lower income in trying to raise children, though that must definitely be another major factor. I’m referring to something else altogether: People tend to marry amongst their own social class, and when the GINI coefficient is so high, the number of people within the social class you can access, becomes much smaller. So it’s harder to find partners, more challenging to marry, and so there is less opportunity to have babies.
Anecdotally, many of my friends in Singapore are very unwilling to marry and start families with another person whose income is way below theirs. Most people don’t mind if it’s maybe, 10% different, but if you earn 5x more than your date, and your date’s prospects aren’t likely to change, chances are you’re not going consider that date as a potential spouse.
On the other hand, I’ve heard from friends in European countries, that there are very little raised eyebrows or even personal consideration, when a university lecturer marries a bus driver.
Maybe it boils down to this:
Cleaner S$800 Bus driver S$1,800
Cleaner S$5,502 Bus driver S$6,193
Cleaner S$2,085 Bus driver S$3,910
Cleaner S$5,470 Bus driver S$6,260
Cleaner S$3,667 Bus driver S$4,480
(Source: https://sghardtruth.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/what-singapore-can-learn-from-europe-by-tommy-koh/ By Tommy Koh, For The Straits Times, May 19, 2012)
I was invited to a recent Fireside chat with Yam Ah Mee, the PA chief. One of the comments he made that really got me thinking was this: In Singapore, it’s not that married people are having too few children. It’s that too few people are getting married!
I went to SingStats to check up the statistics (Ref: http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/people/popinbrief2011.pdf ), and found that he was right. Amongst 40-49 year old women who have ever been married, the average number of children they had was a fairly healthy 2.08 (2.1 is the ideal replacement rate). Meaning that a good proportion of married couples are have 1 -3 children by the time the wife hits menopause. Only a mere 8.6% of 40-49yr old married women are childless. On the other hand, when you include all women in the average, the TFR is only 1.2. Marriage rates have fallen over the last 10 years, from about 46-48 per 1000, to 35-38 per 1000. 1 in 5 females are single in their late 30s. 1 in 4 males are single in their late 30s.
So why aren’t Singaporeans getting married?!
True, cultural norms are shifting, and people want to marry later. But I’m sure many of us also know friends and relatives who are/have been actively trying to find a partner, but finding great difficulty. So many dating agencies have been popping up. So what’s going on?
One clue we have is this :
2x more university females 35-39yrs are single, compared to their below-secondary school counterparts. In contrast, 1.5x more below-secondary school males 35-39yrs are single. (The difference in magnitude, I believe, is due to Vietnamese & Chinese matchmaking agencies available for the men). That it is socially more acceptable for women to marry up, is not a new observation. What’s worth pondering about, is the effect that the GINI has on this phenomenon.
In Singapore, social class is not just about your education level, though that is a very close proxy indicator because of our education and job hiring practices. Income and assets, I speculate, is arguably, an equally important factor in determining your social class. A college dropout who works in the support office is viewed very differently from the college dropout who starts up a billion-dollar company. When the income between the different social strata of society gets wider – as implied by a rising GINI, the number of people who earn +/- 10% of your income tend to be smaller. And we all know dating is a numbers game.
Before we start slamming Singaporeans for being class conscious and materialistic, I think it’s worth pausing for a moment and asking ourselves (& friends) why it matters at all. On a very practical level, Singapore’s high standard of living means that the higher your family’s (ie both spouses’) income, the more comfortable (note: I didn’t say luxurious) your family’s life will be. It means you are more likely to afford tuition for your children (and we all know that your ability to provide private tuition for your kids is what’s going to determine their future). With childcare prices hitting over $1000, and milk powder more expensive than wine, any university grad’s ex-classmate will be a lot more attractive than a bus driver. It really doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a wife or husband — the fact is, if your income is $5000 (rough estimate of a degree holder’s income after a few years, based on the tables here http://www.gemini.com.hk/assets/doc/survey_singapore.pdf ), and you marry your office cleaner rather than your office accountant, your HDB mortgage period is going to double. It may mean you need to work till 70yrs instead of 60yrs, just to pay off your mortgage.
Now assuming you aren’t too concerned about staying in a decent sized flat — you’re fine with a shoebox, the social pressures are immense too, for both wife-hunters and husband-hunters. When a fast-rising young man chooses a retail-sales girl over a fellow fast-rising banker, the poor girl is often stereotyped as a gold-digger. I’m sure we’ve all heard stories where daughter-in-laws are treated differently because of their education or income.
In a low-GINI country where income differences aren’t as stark, where your spouse’s income isn’t going to impact on the quality of your parent’s medical care, there would be more people willing to let love conquer social class differences. With the income criteria more easily met by anyone, it’s easier to find someone because the number of available partners increases tremendously. A bigger pool means you’ve more chances of finding someone you’ve got great chemistry with, someone with the same hobbies are you, someone who finds your bad habits cute. And that may mean more people joining the band-wagon of smug marrieds with their 2.08 kids.
Contributor: Tommy Koh’s article (https://sghardtruth.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/what-singapore-can-learn-from-europe-by-tommy-koh/) provided inspiration for my idea that GINI affects TFR, simply because he had put the income differences across the different countries and the TFR together in that same article. Something clicked. I’ve not really come across this idea yet — probably because of my lack of reading than anything else — so I’ll love to hear comments/other related articles. I don’t think GINI is the only factor impacting TFR, I think it’s simply one of the major factors. Certainly the other factors that Tommy Koh has pointed out (which has been often brought up by others too), are very valid and I’m in perfect agreement.
“The Singapore Interfaith Network on Aids (SINA) was formed recently by an inter-religious group concerned with the issue of HIV/Aids. It has established links with of a cluster of similar networks and together form the Asian Network on Aids (AINA) with Dr Erlinda Senturias as Consultant. It works in collaboration with the regional office of United Nations programme on Aids (UNAIDS) in Bangkok. These initiatives were made by the Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao, former Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore and General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia who attended the recent International Congress on Aids in Asia and Pacific (ICAAP) in Busan, Korea.
SINA seeks to bring together those who are involved in providing faith-based services to people living with Aids in order to develop a more wholistic approach. Effective anti-retroviral medication are being supplied to needy Aids patients, counseling and support are given to them and their families and a shelter is provided for the homeless stricken with Aids. We can do more and we must do more. Appeals will be made especially to more religious people and institutions to address this public health issue which is a threat to all – regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. It has become a pandemic in our world and we are reminded of it on World Aids Day in December 1.SINA recognizes the urgent need of prevention of further spread of HIV through wider education including safe sex education in raising the consciousness of people. This HIV awareness will lead to caring for those who are afflicted, removing the stigma of the disease and eradicating discrimination of those with HIV/Aids.
The Ministry of Health has given the following report:
“In 2012, another 441 Singapore residents were newly reported with HIV infection. About 91% of the new cases were males and 9% were females. This brings the total number of Singaporeans living with HIV to 4,485 as of end 2010. As at 31 Dec 2010, 2,319 are asymptomatic carriers, 1,137 have or have had Aids related illness and 1,389 have died…
Of the 441 cases reported in 2010, 432 cases acquired the infection through the sexual route, with heterosexual transmission accounting for 52% of infections, homosexual transmission 37% and bisexual transmission 9%, intravenous drug use(4 cases) accounted for 1% of infections…
Over half (55% of all new cases reported in 2010 were aged between 30 to 49. years of age. Approximately 62% were single, 29% were married and 7% were divorced or separated.”
Our society has identified more than 4,485 people living with Aids now. They have been tested positive and 54% are already at a late stage of infection when tested. Thousands more live in denial and even afraid to go for testing for fear of losing their jobs and home and separation from their families and friends.
One such victim known only by the name of John lamented:”But my life changed when I was diagnosed as being HIV positive. I lost my job. With no income, I had to sell my flat to my siblings so that I could get some cash in hand to obtain treatment and HIV medication. My relationship with my family became strained when they found out about by HIV status. They chased me out of the house, the very same house in which we had all lived happily before. I had nowhere to go. I wandered around aimlessly and lived on the streets and beaches.” – John
Jacinta Rajoo in drawing our attention to John in her article in The Catholic News questioned us:
“So why are HIV/AIDS sufferers treated with such disdain? Why are they dealt the double or triple blow of not only being afflicted by this disease but also the pain of losing both material and financial freedom, or worst of all, their emotional and social support? “
It is generally known that Aids though contagious and incurable at the moment is just as death-threatening as other major diseases like cancer. With early detection and treatment people with Aids can live long and useful lives like the rest of us. We have the obligation to support and help one another.
Hillary Clinton early this month reported that:
“AIDS has killed 30 million people around the world, and 34 million are living with HIV today. In Sub-Saharan Africa—where 60 percent of the people with HIV are women and girls—it left a generation of children to grow up without mothers and fathers or teachers. In some communities, the only growth industry was the funeral business.”
She issued an appeal to Americans to usher in an Aids-free generation. This is a distinct possibility for all countries with the advance of medical science and social responsibility.
The worldwide call of UNAids is to “Get Together to Zero” – Zero tolerance of new Infections, Zero tolerance of Aids-related Deaths, Zero tolerance of Stigmatization and Discrimination.
It is achievable. It can be done. Together we can do it.”
– I received the above press release from Rev Yap today.
In Oct this year, I , as a volunteer with the group Explorations Into Faith, helped organise an Interfaith dialogue on Faith & the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Hosted by Rev Gabriel Liew and the Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, the formation of this network, some initiatives it could take up, were some items discussed. Oct’s dialogue also brought together many people interested in the area of Faith & HIV, whom I believe have become key contributors to the SINA. Am really happy that Rev Yap & the SINA members have taken the initiative to tap on the resources & large following of different religious groups to help people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Singapore. While the much-needed material support like drugs, shelters, counselors, support groups can definitely be provided by NGOs, religious organizations quite “easily” once they put their minds to it, I hope that the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS can also be addressed. Hopefully, by engaging & educating religious leaders, their followers can also be influenced, since religious leaders are highly respected and believed here in Singapore.
If anyone has any interest in being part of the group, or if you know of anyone , or would like to recommend any of your religious leaders/staff (or even staff of religious schools), please feel free to contact me. If you know of anyone who can be helped by the Interfaith Network (not just for material support, by say, to speak with family members etc) , do contact me as well. There are people of all the major religious groups in Singapore within the SINA who would be most willing to help.
Inst of Policy Studies Sept2011 publication on the HIV/AIDS situation in Singapore.
“Concern for HIV as a personal risk and a threat to public health have declined over the years despite a worsening trend of HIV infection…. Former US Surgeon General, Dr Everett Koop said that HIV was ‘no longer on the public’s radar screen and the result is deadly serious’. His comments could apply to Singapore”
Would like to recommend an upcoming film in the Singapore International Film Festival
Living with the Tiger (www.livingwiththetiger.com )
is a real-life feature film about a group of innocent children that are paying a desperate price for the mistakes of others. They have all lost their parents; been born with a life-threatening disease, and most were cast aside to die by extended family. Yet, despite their predicament, they show a resilience and determination that has been inspiring audiences and changing attitudes.
The film-makers aim to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding HIV and the devastating effect it has on peoples lives.
The Nation newspaper said “it has such powerful important messages, it should be mandatory viewing”, while Greg Lowe from CNNgo described it as “hugely empowering and uplifting”
If you have to miss this screening because you can’t make it, but would really really like to catch it, there’s another chance to do so, as there will be a screening on Monday 26th at NUS.
Apart from Nicole Seah, there’s something else I like about NSP too, and that’s their transport proposal I like it so much, I’ve come up with a few suggestions of my own to rebut some of these (http://www.todayonline.com/Print/Singapore/EDC110729-0000019/Multiple-transport-operators-could-see-commuters-paying-more,-says-Lui ) points about “cherry-picking”
A major excuse argument Lui put forth to counter NSP’s proposal of opening up transport routes to multiple private providers is that there will be ‘the “cherry-picking” of lucrative routes by multiple operators (that) could end up with commuters paying more.’
This doesn’t make sense to me on several counts
Housing, education, healthcare etc already use the proposed private/public model.
Firstly, we see the private/public model already applied successfully with housing, education, healthcare and the like. Yes, private developers do not cater to low-cost housing for low income groups — that’s where the government (should) step in with low cost housing. There are educational courses and healthcare specialties which are necessary, but again not lucrative — there’s where public schools and hospitals come in. Similarly, NSP’s proposal calls for the government to come in where routes are not lucrative.
Other transportation like airlines & school buses, fare very well with multiple players
One can argue that comparing the transport sector to other sectors is comparing apples and oranges. Well, I would suggest we look to the airline industry or the school bus industry which is almost entirely privatized with multiple players. In many countries, private airlines of course ply the lucrative routes. However, many national carriers also ply domestic routes that are less lucrative, because ensuring accessibility and connectivity is in the interest of the government. School buses in Singapore are almost all privately run by a multitude of players. It’s a wonderful model where school children from the most ulu parts of Singapore can still afford to get to school.
Many ways exist to level the profitability across routes
As Lui points out, the license to ply lucrative routes could be packaged with non-profitable routes. That’s just one way. Other ways I can think of (just by sitting in my armchair for 10min)
- License fees can vary according to the profitability of the route to level profitability across different routes. Setting the different license fees is a complicated matter? We can always apply our COE model to transport routes where private transport providers bid for the right to service routes for 5 or 10 yr blocks. We can even have the “expressway category” “ulu road category” “open category” etc. It’s similar to renting out shop space. That some locations have higher customer traffic than others has not seen customers paying much more at convenience stores beneath HDB blocks compared with Orchard Rd malls. Neither have we seen a lack of convenience stores beneath HDB blocks. Why? Difference in rental price.
- For routes that are so unpopular because they actually incur significant losses , a subsidy or grant model can be applied, where the government awards grants/subsidies to the best provider.
Multiple private providers as a way to relief current transport issues?
It’s a very tough choice these days, picking a mode of transportation during peak hours (and it’s not like you can choose what time you get to start work).
MRTs are sardine packed, buses are packed and they do the neighborhood bus-stop tour that doubles your journey time, cars and cabs are exorbitantly priced. I’m fairly lucky that a premium bus service serves my neighborhood (and only my neighborhood). This bus takes me to work in the same duration that a cab would, but cost just a fraction of the price — double of my feeder bus + MRT fare. I’m willing to pay this for my guaranteed, comfortable bus seat. It helps reduce road traffic because I suspect a lot of professionals that use this bus service would be driving, if not for the comfort and convenience of the bus service. I’m just surprised why there aren’t more of such services around. And irked that it’s one of the major transport providers that is providing the service when multiple smaller transport providers can give them some decent competition. With multiple players, some opting to take a slight detour to avoid jammed up roads, I think the traffic situation may be relieved.
Having multiple private transport providers is such a win-win situation for everybody, I can’t imagine why we shouldn’t implement it. The only people who will be negatively impacted by such a move are perhaps the shareholders of the existing major transport companies. One would naturally wonder if the decision-makers are allowed to hold shares in these transport companies (I’d think/hope not!) , or whether the decision-makers are good friends with any major shareholders. I’m not too sure how much transparency there is, and I’m a bit lazy to do any digging, so I’m hoping the NSP or some journalist would go do the investigation & publish the news on TOC or something. Not sure if it’s too much to hope for our Opp MPs to ask ?