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Climate change gets put on the agenda

Issue 69

Hello 你好 from Taipei! It’s great being back in this city, where I’m attending a workshop and learning about all sorts of interesting things like transitional justice, deliberative democracy, and how Taiwan is just lightyears ahead of Singapore in terms of political consciousness and organising. Lots and lots of food for thought.

National Day Rally and the climate

This past week, Lee Hsien Loong gave his National Day Rally address. Full disclosure: I haven’t watched it. But it’s possible to catch up on the speech on YouTube.

Lee touched on a few things during his address, such as not taking sides between the US and China and raising retirement and re-employment ages. But I would like to focus a bit more on what he said about climate change.

According to Lee, it’ll cost Singapore about S$100 billion (or more!) over the next 50–100 years to protect ourselves from rising sea levels. A lot of this money will be spent on coastal defences to protects areas in Singapore from flooding as the sea levels go up. Another possibility is to reclaim some offshore islands to create a reservoir, or to use dykes. Question: if we’re going to do more land reclamation, where are we going to get the sand from, and what is the environmental impact at source?

Lee also talked about the need for us to reduce carbon emissions, by doing things such as generating less waste. But as this op-ed in RICE Media pointed out, more attention seemed to be paid to people recycling more and conserving energy, rather than targeting industries who produce far more carbon emissions than households do.

There’s some other organising going on, such as Speak for Climate, which is encouraging Singaporeans to participate in the National Climate Change Secretariat’s (NCCS) consultation. They’re also asking that Singaporeans who have submitted to the NCCS to upload their contributions to GitHub so people can start looking at them and kick-off discussions.

y u do dis

Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and CEO of Temasek Holdings, one of Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds, took to Facebook to throw her support behind her husband’s seven-figure salary. Lee Hsien Loong is the highest-paid head of government in the world, but Ho Ching argues that this is okay because he has a “clean wage”, which means he doesn’t get state-funded perks like hairdressers, butlers, or free flights on national airlines. Also, when we have quality people, we shouldn’t “take advantage of them to underpay, or require them to wear hairsuits for a show of sainthood,” she says.

Sadly, she didn’t say anything about her own salary, which is as yet undisclosed, but suspected to be astronomical.

I have no idea why she thought it would be good to kick this hornet’s nest over right now. In a very clear contrast, here’s a TODAYonline piece looking at issues with retirement that Singaporeans who don’t earn seven-figure salaries are going to face.

Racism and the slippery slope

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam spoke at a discussion on race at the National University of Singapore this past week, explaining why the authorities came down on Preetipls and Subhas Nair’s rap video. While he said that it’s important to have frank discussions on race and racism, he said, “The only thing that is being objected to is the tone.” He argues that if Preeti and Subhas were allowed to use offensive language, others would use offensive language too, and it’ll worsen racism in Singapore and hurt minorities further. So, if you close Shanmugam’s logic circle, hauling in two minorities for investigation and giving them 24-month conditional warnings was for the good of minorities of Singapore! 😒

Meanwhile, those behind the brownface E-Pay ad were issued a “stern reminder” by the Infocomm Media Development Authority… whatever that is.

M Ravi, a human rights lawyer who has been at the forefront of anti-death penalty advocacy in Singapore, has been campaigning for Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a death row inmate who has a low IQ of about 69. The Attorney-General’s Chambers has now filed a complaint against him claiming that he’s made “false” accusations against state prosecutors, a judge, and the Singapore Courts. Ravi has withdrawn and apologised for his allegations. The AGC’s move, unsurprisingly, has been whacked by Malaysian human rights NGO Lawyers for Liberty, which is also campaigning for Nagaenthran.

A new comic explainer!

Here comes New Naratif with a new comic explainer! This week, we look at political power, authority, and force. Please check it out and share it widely.

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