Tag Archive | George Yeo

Mrs Chong to blame?

According to an online Straits Times report on Aug 2, a former teacher from a top secondary school was charged in court with having sex with an underage boy, thus confirming a rumour that’s been swirling in cyberspace.

The woman, in her early 30s, allegedly had consensual sex with the boy on the first occasion sometime in January this year.

The prosecution successfully applied for a gag order.

The accused, who wasn’t represented, is likely to face more similar charges.

What’s the world — or more accurately, Singapore — coming to?

When I was growing up, our Government was quite clear what it didn’t want in the people it governed — a permissive society.

Yet in recent years in order to stay cool and connected with the rest of the world, we threw open our windows, doors and legs  too (some would add).

And no dear George Yeo — he of old Aljunied fame — it wasn’t a few flies that flew in. It was something a lot nastier.

Back in January 2011, I expressed in a post my worry and displeasure that the much-admired Ministry of Education ad featuring a lucious “Mrs Chong” — who gave an underprivileged kid TLC — to promote the teaching vocation was completely inappropriate and unwise.

I had concluded that post with this (to my mind) prophetic warning:

“Instead of inspiring more people to become teachers, I fear “Mrs Chong” with her full lips and eyes on the brink of tears might create new tragedies like that of Mrs X, whose name was with-held to protect the identity of her student.”

The case now be4 the courts convinces me anew the stupidity of that Mrs Chong ad. Even it has done no more than set one teacher and her charge in the whole of Singapore down the road to the wrong sort of education. 😥


Uncle George’s better choice

On June 2, I gave two reasons why Mr George Yeo, the ex-Foreign Minister and ex-MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency, shouldn’t stand for president in the upcoming election in August.

Since then, while it’s not exactly been a cliff-hanger, there were strong signs that he might actually stand, with his youthful supporters going to the extent of collecting the eligibility form on his behalf from the Election Department.

Still his decision not to stand which was announced via his Facebook account a couple of days ago didn’t come as a surprise to me.

This is because he is the original anti “boh tua, boh suay” man, who was/is fastidious about making distinctions between the senior and junior parties.

So with hint, hint, nudge, nudge that his senior in terms of years, political experience and political standing in Singapore — that is Dr Tony Tan — might be throwing his glove into the presidential ring, what other option had Mr Yeo got but to get out of the way pronto?

Of course he could have waited till Dr Tan confirmed his candidacy and then bowed out but it’s distinctly more respectful to do so even when the possibility is but a whiff in the wind.

And if Dr Tan does stand and win, there are vacancies aplenty that might suit Uncle Yeo’s talents. Like the chairmanship of Singapore Press Holdings, for instance. Eminently suitable for an ex-Minister of Mica!

Uncle George has definitely made the better choice, especially given the two terrible alternatives that I had painted earlier, should he lose or win the presidential race!

Walter Woon for president?

Now that Mr S R Nathan has also spoken about the presidency, chances are he might well stand again, age notwithstanding.

The line-up could then be:

  • Incumbent president, Mr S R Nathan.
  • Mr Tan Cheng Bock, ex-MP and ex-PAP man, who was the first to collect his eligibility form on June 1.
  • Mr Tan Kin Lian, ex-NTUC and ex-PAP, who after friends had collected the form him, has since confirmed he will be standing.
  • Mr George Yeo, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister, ex-Ajunied MP, now away in Taiwan and whose fans have also collected a form for him. He is praying hard be4 making his decision known.
  • Yet another “Tan” may be entering the presidential race. He is Dr Ton Tan, ex Deputy Prime Minister and current SPH chairman, who was reported as saying that times will be hard ahead and the next president has to be someone who understands finance and how GIC and our other reserves are managed, and policy trade-offs. His comments are taken to suggest that he too may contest, prompting FakePMLee, a popular tweeterer, to call the presidential election the clash of the ti-Tans.

Since the list of presidential wannabes is lengthening, I might as well add one name that I would like to see in the ring.

He is none other than Prof Walter Woon, ex-Nominated MP, ex-Singapore ambassador to Germany and several European countries, ex-solicitor general and ex-attorney general. And currently he heads the Institute of Legal Education.

If Prof Woon does go for the presidency and wins, he will be the first Singapore president to have successfully introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament — the Maintenance of Parents Act — as well as knowing the laws and constitution like the back of his hand.

And unlike Mr Tan Kin Lian, Prof Woon will not have problems with protocol when dealing with foreign dignataries. He may live as simple a life as Mr KL but he’s well trained in diplomacy! 😆

Really, really catty

As visitors to this blog would know, I don’t subscribe to the Straits Times and depend on what one of my nephews casts my way, after his family has done with the papers.

Then, I pore or flip over them as the spirit takes me and at any time I could be reading yesterday, last week’s, last month’s issues; or even those that are several months’ old.

Anyway this is a preamble to my catching up with an interview that Mr George Yeo gave to the media after he lost his seat in the Ajunied Group Representation constituency.

And guess what our ex-foreign minister — who is prayting for divine guidance on whether or not to stand for the upcoming presidential election in August — touched on in that interview?

Cat lovers! Yes, cat lovers 😆

In that apres defeat interview excerpted by the Straits Times of May 12, Uncle George said inter alia: “… when the campaign started, someone from the Cat Welfare Association e-mailed me to say, “Look can you speak up for us?” because in one of our residents’ committees, when cats were being culled and the residents appealed to me, we accommodated them in a modest way and they are grateful.

‘There are no votes in my constituency if I count only the cat lovers in my constituency. But as a group in Singapore, they are strong and they advocate the cause.”

And then lo and behold, fast-forward from that interview to June 3, what do we hear?

The new National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has gone all gaga over cats. Writing in his blog yesterday, he said culling of stray cats in HDB estates shouldn’t be the way. He has asked the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to review this practice.

He even roped in his Minister of State Tan Chuan-Jin to work with AVA, animal welfare groups and residents to ‘forge a compassionate and mature approach to this problem’.

The minister wrote his post after a Meet-the-People session, during which an elderly resident cried in front of him about her pet cat which, she claimed, had been picked up by AVA.

The next day AVA checked and said that the cat was not with them but they would look out for it and return it to her should it be sent to AVA.
Mr Khaw’s move, coming so soon after Mr Yeo’s cat-comment in May, suggests that great minds in the PAP pantheon think alike.

A more catty way of looking at this sudden confluence of minds is that  FXXLs never differ! Meow 👿

2 reasons why Mr George Yeo shouldn’t

… join the race to become Singapore’s next president.

First, like he said, he is not “temperamentally suited for such a job”, which carries one responsibility that I think no one should be asked to do — and that is to sign the execution order for those condemned* to die by our courts.

How would Mr Yeo, a self-confessed “free spirit”, react when families of death row prisoners send petition after petition asking for their loved ones to be spared?

Sure, the president has no power to gainsay a death sentence and must abide by the advice of the Cabinet.

But in his private moments, in his secret conscience, would he not be forced to recall the story of Pontius Pilate? Could he sleep well on the night be4 the execution or wake up feeling good on the morning when he gets up knowing that someone, somewhere in Singapore has been hanged on his orders?

The second reason why Mr Yeo shouldn’t attempt the presidential election is that he might well lose, whether in a two or three-horse race. How would he feel to lose two elections in a row, not having lost one till this year in his decades long political career? Could his self-confidence survive such bruising within the span of a few months?

If he really needs to have something to do apres Aljunied, he should look no further than the forever urbane Tommy Koh as a template. Professor Koh has reinvented himself many times over and seems to have the secret to being forever relevant whatever the year, the season or the reason.

* I’m no Alan Shadrake and I’m not against capital punishment as such for heinous crimes. Indeed, when i was robbed at gun-n-knife point several years ago — one of 18 victims in a hair dressing salon in Katong Shopping Centre that was hit by 3 armed robbers — my first thought was that all the bastards should be hanged! Alas, none of the culprits were ever caught! In calmer moments though, I feel terribly for the burden we impose on fellow citizens when we task them to carry out the country’s death penalty!

Pay Singaporeans & PRs to stay out of casinos!

Messrs Lim Boon Heng, George Yeo and Goh Chok Tong have all touched on the subject in the last few days.

All about their mea culpas in letting the casinos aka integrated resorts into Singapore; explaining that choosing between gambling and high  unemployment, the chips came down on stemming joblessness by creating jobs.

OK, I buy that argument. Actually I don’t fuss about having casinos in Singapore. Neither did I miss them when they weren’t here.

Now that big wigs from the PAP cabinet involved in the collective decision to say “yes” tp casinos are re-visiting the subject with a vengeance, it looks like gambling and casinos are going to become a hot election issue, even as the Opposition are going to talk ministers salaries, Mas Selamat’s escape, expensive housing, the flood of foreign talent, the flooding from rain et al.

And as the big wigs hammer away on the subject, I fear truly that as a sweetener to those on the ground soured by the casinos, the PAP may make an election promise to up the preventive $100 per day entry slapped on Singaporeans and permanent residents.

If that happens, remember what I said here.

Still rather than get angry with the PAP if it raises the levy, I think a better approach would be to suggest another way to tackle gambling problems and dissuade Singaporeans and PRs, especially those who can’t afford it, to stay away from the casinos.

And here are my suggestions:

  • Pay citizens and PRs to stay away from the casinos. Give each who signs up to be excluded a $200 hongbao per year.
  • Pay all work permit holders who sign up for exclusion a $50 hongbao. As this group isn’t covered by the levy, too many have been lured to visit. It is Singapore’s social responsibility to these workers — who man for man would be poorer than the average poor Singaporean — to help them stay away.
  • Those who take the hongbao to exclude themselves would have to repay the hongbaos at triple the amount if they sneak into the casinos.

So instead of just hammering away with draconian levies, the Government could take such more creative approaches that may be just as, if not more, effective than hitting the gambler’s pockets

Of course, such hongbaos would mean the Government having to disgorge some of the levy collected from Sgreans and PRs.

Of course, they would also benefit those who would never step into a casino, out of religious or other high-minded principles.

But surely both implications are small beer compared to the hundreds, if not thousands, of residents who will be saved from the dens of gambling iniquities!

Right, Messrs Goh, Yeo and Lim?


I’ve always said Foreign Minister George Yeo isn’t my favourite man in white, for many reasons too tedious to retail here. (But his wife and kids are lovely people).

So, I was not surprised — tho nevertheless disappointed — to read his first reactions concerning the Wiki leaks relating to Singapore in media reports.

He was quoted as dismissing the offending remarks purportedly made by Singapore’s top civil servants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Singapore’s super diplomat Tommy Koh as being taken out of context and cocktail party talk.

How effete!

If I were him, i would have strongly rubbished the Wiki leaks. They were after all stolen documents, or at least seemingly stolen documents. (In this increasingly John le Carre type of world, who really knows?)

For the sake of keeping life simple, let’s accept they are genuinely stolen. But given the gutter mentality of those who stole the documents, why should we pay them the compliment of believing they won’t doctor or jazz up the contents to ensure the biggest bang, not end up a damp squib?

Also, because they were reports of what the Singapore officials were supposed to have said — and not vebatim statments stolen from MFA’s own systems !! — why oh why should so much credence be placed on them?

Why couldn’t the US guys have added pepper and salt in their reports to please their bosses in the State Department n earn brownie points rather than tell the unglamorous truth that their Singapore counterparts were more interested to talk about food and tell asinine jokes along the lines of FakePMLee etc etc.

What set me along this line of thought is the preposterous suggestion that Prof Tommy Koh used words such as “stupid”. Worse, he was ascribed as having said “big” and “fat” in the same breath. How uneducated and that isn’t Proh Koh at all!

I have had a slight acquaintance with Prof Koh for years and all my working life i’ve been smarting from a comment he once made about my work — when I was a grunt at MFA and he a high up ambassodor. It’s not his style to use such peasant-like vocabulary as alleged in the Wikifakes. While cruel in his dismissal of my work, it was worded with sophistication.

So, no I don’t believe anything of what is coming out from Wikifakes. But after reading the transcript (reproduced below from MFA’s site) of Mr George Yeo’s media interview given on Saturday, I can see that his answers to journalists were a lot more robust than reported. So our Foreign Minister was clearly over-summarised.

And I am delighted to see that MFA has at last revealed investigations into the purported remarks which showed that 1) they “did not tally with our own records’ and 2) one purported meeting did not even take place.

Now what needs to be done is to find out who Mr Julian Assange’s puppet masters are. Let the United States lead the charge. Or I would begin to suspect that there is more than meets the eye with the continuing torrent of Wikifakes.

If the most powerful nation in the world can be brought to its knees by just one man — or a small group of Assange clones — why should anyone think having America as an ally will be a plus any more?

You tell me!

Transcript of Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo’s Interview with the Media on WikiLeaks at the Eurasian House on Sunday 12 December 2010 at 5.00pm 

Question: Minister, with regard to the recent comments that there were some comments made by Ministry officials about other countries like Malaysia, what are your comments on these things that came out on Wikileaks?

Minister: 250,000 emails, reflecting the views of US diplomats, have been leaked. I’m quite sure that there will be a few which emanate from Singapore. These are interpretations by US diplomats of what they have heard, their conversations. I don’t think it is right of us to comment on these, because these conversations were confidential, some might be informal, but we don’t know the context, so I would not go beyond that. But it is bad practice to me for such confidential communications to be leaked, because it makes future confidential communications that much more difficult. It is almost as if when we talk, we have to talk on the basis that there is a camera in the room recording everything we say. Then we lose something when that happens.

Question: Has the Foreign Ministry been in touch with the diplomats named in the cables? Have you had any correspondence with them since the story broke this morning?

Minister: Which story broke this morning? About comments made by Bilahari and Tommy Koh?

Question: Yes.

Minister: [Laughs] I’m quite sure they make worse comments about me. [Laughter] No, no, these are in the nature of cocktail talk, people say things in a blunt, forthright way. I don’t think we should divorce… even if true, we should not divorce what is said from the context.

Question: Are you saying that they are not true?

Minister: I have no idea. [Laughs]

Question: The Australian newspapers claim that this will spark political controversy in the region.

Minister: No, this whole WikiLeaks saga will run on for some time, and it will be worldwide. No doubt so far the juicier bits, supposedly, have come out. But there will be more coming out in the future, “Oh, you said this about me, I said this about you”, and it goes on. I think it is best that we respect the confidentiality of diplomatic communications.

Question: Do you see this affecting any relations?

Minister: Relations with?

Question: With the countries involved.

Minister: No, I don’t think so. I’m quite sure that others may say things about us, which we may find perhaps unsurprising, in confidential diplomatic communications.

Question: So this WikiLeaks saga is pretty damaging to the diplomatic world. How do you see this panning out?

Minister: Well, it is American law, because if confidential information falls on your laps, then you have the freedom to spread it. This is not the case in many countries, not in Singapore, where you have the Official Secrets Act. If you are in receipt, however accidentally, of confidential information, disseminating it is a crime and you will be prosecuted. It is the case in most countries. But the US takes freedom of information to a point where you can’t stop these things from happening. And it goes back to the Vietnam War, when because of the release of the Pentagon papers, a political change happened in that country, and there was a certain loss of faith in the institutions. They are quite determined to maintain that right, even though many of them know that there is a cost to be paid for maintaining that right.

Question: Sir, sorry, I just want to confirm something. So what do you think is the impact of this latest string of comments that our senior staff and Cabinet [members] have made on diplomatic relations? Did you say that there was no impact? What sort of impact will there be?

Minister: I don’t know what impact there will be, or how others will interpret it. But because of the nature of diplomatic communications, taking it out of context, that, “look, so and so said such and such a thing”, at a cocktail, about a particular incident, and it gets reported, I don’t think we should over-interpret such communications.

Question: So the Foreign Ministry has not received any communications from these countries that were named?

Minister: Oh, I only saw it this morning in The Sunday Times.

Question: So, so far nothing yet, right?

Minister: No, I don’t think we want to comment on what others say about us. It’s not for us to say, “yes it’s true” or “yes, it’s not true”. Then it’ll be endless.

Question: But Sir, this is what we said about others, not what others said about us.

Minister: That is what certain individuals said about others, there could be a diversity of views. As I said, they probably said things about me which I may not agree with. But that’s fine, that’s to be expected. If you want to hear everything which others say behind your back and take offence at it, you’ll be a very unhappy person.

Question: Do you think this WikiLeaks saga has had a very negative implication on US diplomatic relations?

Minister: I think it will have an impact on diplomatic communications where it involves American diplomats, because, well, you can never be sure. So since you’re not sure, you’ll err on the side of safety and manage the risk.

Question: Will that then affect relations with America?

Minister: No, the diplomatic work will still have to continue, hard subjects will still have to be addressed. People will find ways to convey messages and points so that if they are released, then the entire context is clear. I’m always wary about taking a sentence or a phrase out of context, out of time and space – but, when, how, what did I say before, and what did I say after? What’s your overall presentation?

Question: Have you had a look at the actual cables yet, at what was inside?

Minister: The American cables?

Question: Yes.

Minister: No, I’ve only seen what The Sunday Times has put up. I’m not quite sure if The Sunday Times should be putting up all these things, because you are really adding to the general melee. It is gossip, and does it help?

Question: So it is gossip and quoted out of context.

Minister: It is always out of context, and is it right to ask people to confirm, “Was this what you said? It was reported.” Then it is endless.

Question: So have you asked the people to confirm if that was what they said?

Minister: No, no, I have no intention of asking. These are confidential communications. Thank you.

. . . . .