Monday, February 27, 2012

The moral virtue of doing 'meaningless' factory jobs

IT'S a glamour issue,' said Michigan factory worker Dave Van Dam. 'The kids come in here and see a dirty, loud place.' He was explaining the shortage of skilled factory workers in America, as reported in The Washington Post.

Friday, February 24, 2012

All that glitters is not gold

The number of designer outfits or bags you own is no indicator of how classy you are

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


DR GOH PHUAY YEE: 'Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Sim Ann told Parliament that some 45 per cent of foreign scholarship holders complete their undergraduate studies with a second-upper class honours or better while only 32 per cent of Singaporeans do as well ('Foreign scholars closely tracked'; Saturday).

The Iron Lady's warning about free-lunch mentality

AFTER viewing the film The Iron Lady recently about the life of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, I read a transcript of an interview in 1987 between her and journalist Douglas Keay. The following is an excerpt from that interview taken from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation website:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

How dangerous is the Iranian threat?

WE ARE hearing a new concept these days in discussions about Iran - the 'zone of immunity'. The idea, often explained by Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak, is that soon Iran will have enough nuclear capability that Israel would not be able to inflict a crippling blow to its programme.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Foreign scholars closely tracked

AROUND 800 pre-tertiary and 900 undergraduate students from non-Asean countries are awarded scholarships to study here each year, with these scholarships covering tuition and accommodation.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Social safety nets: Some ideas too costly?

The Government is promising to raise social spending in the coming and subsequent Budgets. Yet some policy options recommended by local academics remain firmly off the table. Insight takes a look at some of these alternative social policies - and why they might never come to pass.

All citizens share cost of falling ill

IF YOU fall ill, your fellow citizens will help you.

US varsities cross out science and maths lectures

WASHINGTON: Science, mathematics and engineering departments at many United States universities are abandoning or retooling the traditional lecture as a style of teaching, worried that it is driving students away.

No sense in shark's fin ban: Experts

IT MAY be politically incorrect, but three marine life experts said at a forum yesterday that it makes no sense to ban the sale of shark's fin.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Israelis likely to go for short, sharp strike

IRAN already has 20 per cent enriched uranium; its estimated 10,000 centrifuges can convert this to weapon-grade fuel by the year-end. From then, it may be just another few months before the fissile material is prepared for the payload of the Shahab-3, a missile capable of reaching Israel. The point of no return, the threshold beyond which it would be impossible to stop Iran from acquiring the bomb, is approaching.

Why Israel may attack Iran

TEL AVIV: As the Sabbath evening approached, Mr Ehud Barak paced the living room floor of his home high above a street in north Tel Aviv, its walls lined with thousands of books on subjects ranging from philosophy and poetry to military strategy.

The fall of S'pore casts its shadow

Why it's not easy to understand survivors' feelings about the war

PROFESSOR Kevin Blackburn is right when he says that the ceremony here to mark the fall of Singapore is less evocative compared to similar war remembrances overseas ('Story behind the story on the fall of Singapore'; yesterday).
How Singaporeans and Malayans behaved before, during and after the Japanese Occupation had its origins in the 1930s, the decade before the outbreak of World War II.
It may be difficult for Prof Blackburn's generation or outsiders to understand the complex factors that shaped the attitudes of Singaporeans and Malayans then, who are now in their twilight years.
Before the Occupation, we were a British colony and the local predominantly Chinese population were not regarded as citizens, regardless of where they were born.
The Chinese were not homogenous in attitudes and orientation because they were shaped by the schools they attended. Schools with English as the medium of instruction were vastly different in orientation, purpose and curriculum from Chinese-medium schools.
English-medium schools aimed at turning students into pro-British Anglophiles, and political and social awareness were muted or discouraged.
Chinese-medium schools inspired allegiance to China and were hotbeds of anti-colonial, leftist ideology.
Chinese-educated Singaporeans and Malayans were intensely anti-Japanese because of Japanese atrocities in China, and enthusiastically raised funds for the Chinese cause.
By contrast, the English-educated were passive or politically indifferent.
It was not an accident that the anti-Japanese guerillas during the Occupation were predominantly recruits from Chinese-medium schools.
These stark differences created culturally divergent groups within the Chinese, whose boundary collapsed only relatively recently.
So, today's survivors who remember the searing agony of the Japanese Occupation were most likely those who were Chinese-educated, and off the radar of the social or political mainstream.
Dr Ong Siew Chey

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gandhi kept his family safe

When Singapore fell to the Japanese on Feb 15, 1942, many Indian households here put up pictures of Mahatma Gandhi on their doorstep. Mr Bala A. Chandran's family was one of them.

His brother was massacred

The first day of Chinese New Year fell on Feb 15, 1942, but no one in Singapore was celebrating.

She lost her parents, siblings

At the age of six, Madam Zaleha Sumun witnessed her birth parents being dragged out of their house to be killed by Japanese soldiers.

Story behind the story on the fall of Singapore

He survived Death Railway

When an 18-year-old George Prior came home from work one morning and found his house bombed into a pile of rubble, he was so incensed he decided to take up arms himself.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Time to shake free of 'runaways'

CAPITALISM, as it is practised in rich countries, has taken two brilliant ideas too far. The first is return on equity (ROE), one way of measuring value creation that has managed to eclipse many other, and broader, ones. The second is competition, which has come to be seen as an end in itself rather than as a tool for promoting growth and innovation.

The benefits of state capitalism

IN RECENT years, economists have come up with a theory known as 'post-autistic economics'.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Minister explains ITE comment

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Survey to gauge China's wealth gap

BEIJING: China plans to conduct a nationwide income survey to help it calculate a politically sensitive measure of wealth inequality.

China needs new Mid-East policy

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Occupied with righteous anger

NO ONE has ever accused me of being a socialist. In fact, when I sent a Washington friend a recent picture of myself with former US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz, someone I have known for many years, his reply was typical: 'I always knew you were a neocon, old man.'

Monday, February 06, 2012

Struggling over the Tibetan succession

THE 14th Dalai Lama and the Chinese government are jockeying for position in an arcane religious debate that could, if mishandled, see Tibet explode with unrest.

Kabul puts history on hold to stem conflicts

KABUL: In a country where the recent past has unfolded like a war epic, officials think they have found a way to teach Afghanistan's history without widening the fractures among long-quarrelling ethnic and political groups: Leave out the past four decades.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Don't be cruel to animals - and mankind

I refer to Dr Lee Wei Ling's commentary last Sunday ('Confessions of an embarrassed omnivore') on her eating meat even though she condemns cruelty to animals.
The word 'cruel' is described by my dictionary as 'wilfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others' and 'enjoying the pain or distress of others'.
It would be cruel to kill solely for pleasure or profit. Cock fighting and poaching are cruel.
Some time ago, some Japanese fishermen were caught on film clubbing to death a whole school of dolphins just because they fed on fish that were meant for the people's sushi table. That was cruel.
But what if the killing is done out of necessity? Would we say a lion or a tiger is cruel in killing a deer for its dinner? What about a python strangling a monkey before swallowing it whole, often while it is still alive? We call that nature.
Assuming that the whole world turned vegetarian, what would be the fate of all the cattle, sheep, pigs and fowl? I don't think they would fare any better. Surely they would become a nuisance, competing with us for space and food?
We would still have to kill them, although we would use the term 'cull' to justify the slaughter. Proper farming control, management and processing would be a more practical and humane solution.
Let's turn our attention away from animals: Do humans treat their own kind any better? Every day, people are tortured, murdered and executed in the name of justice, revenge, or just to make a statement.
Irresponsible mothers dump their babies, while welfare homes are overflowing with abandoned old folk. Many people treat their pets better than they treat their parents.
In many parts of the world, people are dying of starvation, while elsewhere, the rich splurge thousands of dollars on a fungus.
When animals are used for research to save the lives of humans, activists scream 'cruelty'. If all mankind, including so-called animal lovers, could spare a fraction of their passion towards improving the lot of their own kind, the world would be a better place for all of us - including the animals.
Tan Pin Ho

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Advice to a young rebel

A FEW weeks ago, a 22-year-old man named Jefferson Bethke produced a video called 'Why I hate religion, but love Jesus'. The video shows him standing in a courtyard rhyming about the purity of the teachings of Jesus and the hypocrisy of the church. Jesus preaches healing, surrender and love, he argues, but religion is rigid, phoney and stale. 'Jesus came to abolish religion,' he insists. 'Religion puts you in bondage but Jesus sets you free.'

Why prices stay up when costs go down

WHILE the media often reports on price rises in essential items and foodstuffs such as rice, wheat and coffee, subsequent falls in the prices of such items are reported less diligently, affecting the country's fight against inflation.

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - ...

Friday, February 03, 2012

The young Singaporean adult...

Young Singaporeans lack drive, some CEOs told Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. While the definition of 'drive' is debatable, attitudes have definitely changed, say employers

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Phelps & Ammous: Blaming Capitalism for Corporatism

NEW YORK - The future of capitalism is again a question. Will it survive the ongoing crisis in its current form? If not, will it transform itself or will government take the lead?

Withdrawal symptoms hit Afghan economy

KABUL: The anticipated withdrawal of most international forces is still two years away, but Afghans who have depended on the decade-old foreign presence for their livelihood are already feeling tremors as the first troops leave and spending and aid money dries up.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The dollars and sense of inflation

IF THE latest report card on inflation in Singapore could be summed up in one word, it would simply be this: confusing. For most of last year, inflation was uppermost on the minds of policy makers, as they warned that rising prices from raw commodities as well as higher costs of owning a car would raise headline inflation.