Wednesday 31 August 2011

President S R Nathan

Our 6th Head of State, President S R Nathan steps down today, 31 Aug 2011, after 12 years in office.

A man with the ability to connect with ordinary Singaporeans, from the highest to the lowest, here are my favourite quotes from him:

"Whether in the office of the President or in the executive arm of Government, we'll always need people of strong character and vision who resist populist pressures and the temptation to sacrifice the long-term interest of the nation in response to those who merely snipe without having to take responsibility."

"One of the things you must remember is that with all these gripes that you hear, people forget how we have arrived to this stage in our country. Could it have been done without the Government? That's my question. Much has been achieved. There are probably faults that have to be remedied, but we just can't distance ourselves from the Government."

"I've done the best I can. If it's good enough for some people, fine. If it's not good enough for some people, and there will always be noise in the environment, you can't stop it. You don't do it because you want to leave a legacy. You do the best you can."

On having a duty to Singapore;
"We can criticise, we can comment, we can abuse, we can say...but ultimately if it fails, we all fail. So that's the duty we have. To uphold it, to let it grow, to let it stand in the eyes of the world as something important, something worth recognising. So that's the duty."

On social media;
"I hear from my grandchildren about Facebook and whatever you have. So after I've stepped down, I have time and I will have to learn all that. But anyway, I'm not going into Facebook and tell stories. No point. Not all people on Facebook or whatever you call it, are honest people. Some of them are very critical of things without responsibility."

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Confidence for the Future

Quotes for posterity,

"Candidates should run for the office that exists, not for the one they wish to have."

"The President must be above politics."

"One has to be frank and open about what he wants to do and why he wants to do it...When you set your mind to do something, you must have the determination to see it through."

"His unruffled manner has become as distinctive a trait of his public persona as his signature smile and slicked-back silver hair."

The man whose passion is Singapore, you have my vote, Dr Tony Tan.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Will mindless street violence ever descend on us

On 10 August 2011, British PM David Cameron delivered a statement on the violence and looting in a number of cities across England. The following excepts are food for thought;

"We needed a fight back and a fight back is underway. We have seen the worst of Britain, but I also believe we've seen some of the best of Britain: the million people who've signed up on Facebook to support the police, communities coming together in the cleanup operations....

This continued violence is simply not acceptable and it will be stopped. We will not put up with this in our country. We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets....

It is all too clear that we have a big problem with gangs in our country. For too long there's been a lack of focus on the complete lack of respect shown by these groups of thugs. I'm sure that they are in no way representative of the vast majority of young people in our country who despise them, frankly, as much as the rest of us do, but there are pockets of our society that are not just broken but, frankly, sick.....

For me, the root cause of this mindless selfishness is the same thing that I have spoken about for years. It is a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society. People are allowed to feel that the world owes them something, that their rights outweigh their responsibilities and that their actions do not have consequences. Well, they do have consequences. We need to have a clearer code of values and standards that we expect people to live by and stronger penalties if they cross the line. Restoring a stronger sense of responsibility across our society, in every town, in every street, in every estate is something I'm determined to do."

*Let's hope as Singapore matures, our society does not take such a sinister path.

Saturday 6 August 2011

When 'an eye for an eye' is best justice

Justice? Vengeance? You Need Both
By Thane Rosenbaum, The New York Times, July 27, 2011

Norway, a nation far removed from the wickedness of the world, is now facing one of its greatest moral challenges: What to do with Anders Behring Breivik, the man who has confessed to massacring 76 people, many of them children. Norway does not allow for capital punishment, and the longest prison sentence a killer can usually receive there is 21 years. A country of such otherwise good fortune and peaceful intention is now unprepared — legally and morally —to deal with such a monstrous atrocity.

The United States, unfortunately, is much more familiar with this problem. Americans have spent several recent weeks in a vengeful fury over the acquittal of Casey Anthony, who partied for an entire month while her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, was supposedly missing but might have actually been murdered — by Ms. Anthony. Many believe that Caylee was denied justice; her mother, meanwhile, has been released from prison and remains hidden in an undisclosed location, largely to protect her from vigilante justice.

The inadequacy of legal justice is one thing, its outright failure is quite another. But in both cases the attraction of a nonlegal alternative is a powerful one. Are these vengeful feelings morally appropriate? The answer is yes — because the actual difference between vengeance and justice is not as great as people think.

Friday 5 August 2011

NS deferments

Mindef: Disruption for medical course applied uniformly
Aug 5, 2011, The Straits Times Forum

WE REFER to Ms Lim Guay Cheng's letter on Tuesday ('Mindef should spell out NS deferment criteria').

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) grants disruption for full-time national servicemen (NSFs) to obtain their medical degrees, as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has operational needs for doctors.

This is a long-standing policy and uniformly applied for all servicemen who meet the criteria.

They are disrupted just before their university term begins and serve out their remaining national service (NS) liabilities soon after completion of their medical courses. Currently, about 120 NSFs are disrupted every year to study medicine locally.

Prior to 1992, disruptions were also allowed for NSFs to obtain medical degrees in approved overseas universities.

Our records show that 86 such disruptions have been granted. The length of disruption varied depending on the time taken to complete the medical studies. This was about five to six years for medical courses in countries such as Britain and Australia.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Primary One Registration

Advice few heed:

From the Ministry of Education;
Every child is assured of a place, one should pick a school as near as possible to home as Primary school is a foundation so children shouldn't travel too much. Every primary school will strive to do its best to achieve the best for pupils.

I would add;
Brand-name and dream schools are good but the reality is if your child cannot cope, you will be "advised" by the teacher to consider private tuition to "supplement" his education and so begins the pain of education for your children!