So it's not quite election time yet...

Issue #63

Kirsten Han

This issue is coming to you a day late because I had a super late night out on Friday (I watched Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, and I highly recommend it!), and it made sense to delay it because that means I can include an update about Saturday’s democracy classroom on Hong Kong, protests, and civil resistance! (There’s another session this afternoon!)


Hong Kong, Protests, Civil Resistance: A democracy classroom

To those of you who came to the democracy classroom yesterday—thank you so much for coming! It was an absolute delight to talk about comparisons between Hong Kong and Singapore, and mull over the question of building community and solidarity wherever we are. (Related: a poll done by Blackbox Research found that over three-quarters of the 1,000 Singaporeans surveyed said that they supported the Hong Kong protests—that’s way more than I would have guessed!)

If you’d like to hold your own democracy classrooms, you can download a PDF of the worksheet that we used at this session from this Google Drive folder. You’ll also find notes from the session (and I’ll also be adding notes from today’s session) in the folder for reference.

If you’d like to check out notes from other democracy classrooms, then keep an eye on this folder. There isn’t much in it yet, but I hope to add to it as we have more democracy classrooms! If you have an idea for a topic that you’d like people to discuss, just hit reply and drop me a line.


Looks like the elections aren’t any time soon, then…

The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee has not been set up yet, which means that it’s highly unlikely the elections will be coming that soon. There were previously rumours that the vote was going to take place in September, but I don’t think that’s plausible now. I’m moving my money to early 2020.

More executions on the way?

We’re still in the middle of trying to save Pannir Selvam, and more distressing news has come our way. According to information from the families of death row inmates (who in turn had been tipped off by their loved ones in prison), up to 10 inmates have had their clemency pleas rejected in the past week. If this is all accurate, it means that their executions could be scheduled any time. (I’m still trying to personally double-check this; if you have any information, please get in touch!)

Last year, Singapore hanged 13 people. If the prison goes ahead with hanging these inmates, we’re going to at least match, or perhaps even exceed, that number this year.

In related news, Minister K Shanmugam said in a written response to a parliamentary question that the Ministry of Home Affairs is reviewing the procedure for notifying petitioners of clemency rejection and execution. In his answer, he confirmed that it has been the practice since 2016 for families to be told of clemency rejection and date of execution at the same time, which matches my own observations. Although now I have a question: why did that become the practice, when it wasn’t the case before 2016?

Transparency is what 🤷🏻‍♀️

Temasek Holdings has released its annual report, but it doesn’t include information on what Ho Ching’s salary is. As CEO of Temasek Holdings, a government-owned investment company, and the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, it’s in the public interest to disclose her salary—and I’d say the public is also very interested to know. There’s plenty of speculation about how much she’s getting—the only thing I know for sure is that it’ll be more cookies than I’ve ever seen, or will ever see, in my lifetime.

I don’t think you get the point of education…

A report by the Institute of Policy Studies has suggested that maybe we should merge the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Manpower to make sure that we can supply the labour force with the necessary skills. Because education is just about training workers, right? Seriously…

Got some more…

Suriia, whose wife Sarojini has been diagnosed with cancer, asked for money to be taken out of his CPF Ordinary and Special accounts and transferred to his wife’s Medisave so that she can continue her treatment. His request was rejected. The CPF Board has responded saying that subsidised care at the National University Hospital (NUH) is still an option for the couple, who have been going the private healthcare route. But Suriia says they don’t want to go to NUH because Sarojini had been there before and the doctor at NUH was of the opinion that she was terminally ill and nothing more can be done.

Six men have been arrested by the authorities and deported to Myanmar for allegedly mobilising people to support the Arakan Army, an armed group in Rakhine State.

A suspicious transaction report has been lodged by SembMarine against a former employee. They say the transaction came to light as part of a probe into a massive corruption scandal in Brazil—the same scandal that the offshore and marine division of Keppel Corp has been embroiled in. And what’s going on with the local probe into Keppel and corruption, by the way?


About the neighbours…

I usually share New Naratif articles in this section because I’m really proud of the work we do, but this week I’m going to break out of that pattern and share work by another team of journalists I really respect. Here’s part one of Rappler’s investigation into Duterte’s drug war and extrajudicial killings.