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What’s up with ST Marine?

This isn’t strictly a story from this past week, but it’s something that’s kind of slipped under the radar that I think is worth paying attention to.

The Online Citizen published this series of stories about ST Marine, the marine arm of ST Technologies Engineering, whose controlling shareholder is none other than Temasek Holdings. In July 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs put out a tender to build ships for the Police Coast Guard. ST Marine eventually won the tender, even though it was competing against companies that had more experience building the aluminum boats that MHA was after. This, even though ST Marine’s bid was higher than the estimated budget. Seven former senior executives at ST Marine had also been convicted of corruption in 2017, which TOC reports should have put them out of the running for any tenders in the first place. Did the Standing Committee on Debarment take action against them after the corruption cases ended in convictions? Questions, questions.

Jolovan’s new case (this never seems to end)

I thought the Skype call business was the stupidest it was going to get in the authorities’ ongoing beef with Jolovan Wham, but now we have found a new low. The police now have a new investigation into this:

To be clear, this is not a solo protest outside the State Courts. This is literally just a photo that Jolovan snapped. He took the photo, then left. But now the police say this was an illegal assembly.

I spent Saturday at the police station with some friends waiting for Jolovan while he was being questioned. A lot more time and energy and resources were expended, relative to the amount of time, energy and resources spent taking that photo. And they confiscated his phone too.

What the police told the media was that Jolovan had applied for a permit to protest at the State Courts that had been rejected, but that he’d gone ahead anyway. That’s fake news, Jolovan says: while he had applied for a permit, it was for a entirely different protest from this, and doesn’t have anything to do with this case. This wasn’t even a protest. It was literally just taking a photo.

An execution high

The prison statistics for 2018 are out, and there’s a stunner: there were 13 executions last year. Even our most generous count, based on our struggles to document hangings, had put the 2018 number at nine. It’s extremely discouraging to have found out that there were even more executions than we’d thought; nine was already bad enough, but 13 is terrible.

Migrant workers

A couple who is already facing jail time for abusing their Indonesian domestic worker have now been convicted of abusing their Burmese domestic worker. It’s a sickening read: the worker was beaten, forced to eat her own vomit, humiliated, had her salary withheld, and then repatriated without reason. How the hell are there people like this in the world?!

Over 30 migrant workers held a sit-in at their worksite in the Central Business District over withheld wages. Their employer admits that their claims are real, but that he’s stuck himself because the main contractor hasn’t paid him. I hope these workers are get the justice they seek.

Lee Bee Wah’s storytelling in Parliament

I just need to rant about this and get it off my chest. If you haven’t seen the story that Lee Bee Wah told in Parliament, here you go (and I’m sorry):

It is absolutely outrageous. It’s no surprise that the PAP has a paternalistic attitude towards Singaporeans, but this analogy of grandfather and ungrateful grandson really takes the cake. Lee Bee Wah seems to have forgotten that she and her fellow MPs are public servants, not public parents. This sort of scolding, expecting Singaporeans to be grateful to the PAP like we are to the parents and grandparents who have raised us, is just… ugh!

Also, her analogy doesn’t even work, because it’s not even “Ah Gong’s” money! The money that the government distributes to the people isn’t money got from personal scrimping and saving (please, how much are they paid again?)—it’s taxpayer money. 🤬🤬🤬

A cancelled gig

Singapore cancelled Swedish black metal band WATAIN’s concert just hours before it was due to begin. They had originally required the band to remove songs deemed religiously offensive, but then decided to call the whole thing off completely. Here’s a comment from their frontman, as reported by AFP:

"We have been touring around the world for nearly 20 years and believe  it or not, never have we encountered such old-fashioned retardation," he  said in a statement to AFP.

He described the decision as "self-righteous attempts to govern other  people's lives and decisions, as if all our supporters in Singapore were  incapable of deciding for themselves".

And there’s some good stuff

Okay… after all that depressing stuff, good things did happen this past week.

The Ministry of Education is finally going to end streaming in secondary schools in favour of full subject-based banding. That’s it, everyone, streaming will be phased out by 2024, and not a moment too soon. This is a big step for the better.

The government also plans to offer free HPV vaccination against cervical cancer to teenage girls—another great move. The doctors are happy, but some parents are “worried that allowing their daughters to get the vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV) will serve as a go-ahead for youth to engage in sexual activity”. I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that one will choose not to vaccinate one’s daughter against a preventable type of cancer lest she might think it’s a green light for sexytimes.

A little bit of self-promotion…

My little book was officially launched this past week at the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop in the URA Centre! It’s a very little book (a quick read!) but it’s the first time I’ve actually written a thing that has been published as a book by itself, so it’s still exciting for me.

You should definitely visit and support the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop, but if you’re looking for my book, it should also be in bookstores like Kinokuniya, and you can find it online too.