Lee Li Lian – simply an inspiration for ‘Normal’ students


She now lives by this simple dictum, which governs all her interactions: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Read these extracts from an article published on ST some time ago, just after Ms Lee Li Lian’s historic win at Punggol East SMC under the Workers’ Party banner, to know how much of an inspiration she can be, to anyone out there:

“She hopes to eradicate “stigma” in many forms. She yearns to illustrate that N-level students can make it, that joining the opposition is no longer a career-killer, and that a woman of reproductive age is not a workplace liability but, given support, can juggle it all.

“She hopes people’s takeaway from Punggol East 2013 is the “power of unity”.

“Together, everyone can achieve more. I hope the takeaway for Singaporeans is the power of their votes, that they do have a say in the future and direction of their country,” says the financial institution trainer in her first one-on-one interview unchaperoned by party bigwigs.

“Then adds: “I think Singaporeans also realise that there’s no perfect and ideal candidate who fits everything. What matters most, in my opinion, is to have someone with the heart to serve and the ability to relate to Singaporeans.”

“Having come from the Normal (Academic) stream, where students are told they “can’t do well in life”, she wants her progeny to walk tall and enjoy “equal opportunities” in education and work.

“She rated herself “slightly above average” and was devastated to be posted to the Normal (Academic) stream in secondary school. Her first thought was for her parents – that it would “make them lose face”. Plus, studying one more year would be a further financial “burden” on them.

“Eventually, she did well enough to study business administration at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

“She went on to complete a distance-learning degree in marketing with Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, largely paying her own way, except for her fees which her parents helped out with.

“Two years later, she met her “introverted” husband at a sales seminar.

They went out for seven years before tying the knot in 2010. He took her, then a first-time voter, to her first WP rally during GE 2006.

She says she was wowed by the hordes who came despite having to wipe mud off their footwear later. They both volunteered to be polling agents at Aljunied GRC, and she joined WP as a member shortly after “to give back to society because there are others who didn’t get the opportunities I was lucky enough to get”.

“I also wanted to get rid of the stigma that by associating with opposition, you cannot get your flat, your children will be disadvantaged, your career will be over,” says the Upper Serangoon condominium dweller.

Two months later, in August 2006, she became the WP Youth Wing organising secretary.

“There were no repercussions on the job front either. She has worked in financial advisory, brokerage, recruitment and training with top companies here.

In 2008, she told her prospective employer, Great Eastern Life Assurance, that she was a WP committee member. They made her an offer the very next week.

She never missed a promotion. When she ran as a candidate in GE 2011, her “very supportive” bosses and colleagues helpfully covered her duties.

She now lives by this simple dictum, which governs all her interactions: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.””

Extracted from: http://education.asiaone.com/content/n-not-end

Bringing Singapore from First World back to Third?


By Andrew Loh

on TOC, Mar 14, 2014

On Wednesday, the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC and secretary-general of the Workers’ Party, Low Thia Khiang, raised the issue of Singapore’s hospital bed crunch which had been in the news recently.

“A WP member told me that her 97 year-old grandmother waited for 23 hours for a bed,” Mr Low told the House. “A former NMP also witnessed the bed crunch when her husband had to wait over eight hours before being given a hospital bed. She observed that ‘when it happens so frequently, then it’s no longer a glitch, it’s the new norm’.”

Mr Low asked what has happened to the government’s master plans for hospital beds 5 to 10 years ago.

He suggested that to alleviate the shortage of bed space,  and instead of using tents and corridors – which some hospitals have resorted to – ward space currently used for the provision of non-subsidized beds can be converted to subsidized beds so as to quickly increase the bed availability within the current physical confines of the government-restructured hospitals.

“This hospital bed crunch, together with the public transport ‘crush’ and the riot in Little India,” Mr Low said, “is a stark example of third world problems in first world Singapore. One certainly hopes that Singapore does not make history by going from third world to first and back to third within one generation.”

Here is Mr Low’s speech in full:

Mdm Chair,

“Hospitals facing severe bed crunch take unusual steps” made the front page of the Straits Times at the beginning of this year.

This hospital bed crunch, together with the public transport “crush” and the riot in Little India, is a stark example of third world problems in first world Singapore. One certainly hopes that Singapore does not make history by going from third world to first and back to third within one generation.

The hospital bed crunch is not a new problem and we have been reminded of this problem in multiple occasions over the past few years. Although this problem tends to wax and wane and some attribute it to “seasonal variations” dependent on infectious disease epidemics and the spike of “social stayers” during festive seasons, I think it has now reached a level of sufficient importance to warrant MOH to take a hard look.

At present, subsidized beds within the government restructured hospitals comprise 81% of the total bed count, while non-subsidized beds comprise 19%. Instead of using tents and corridors, ward space currently used for the provision of non-subsidized beds can be converted to subsidized beds so as to quickly increase the bed availability within the current physical confines of the government-restructured hospitals.

Minister for Health has noted that the conversion from non-subsidized beds to subsidized beds will entail changes in “infrastructure design”. But these changes in “infrastructure design” will take less time to achieve compared to the construction of a new hospital; and the manpower needs that arise will be less than the manpower needed to run a new hospital.

A WP member told me that her 97 year-old grandmother waited for 23 hours for a bed. A former NMP also witnessed the bed crunch when her husband had to wait over eight hours before being given a hospital bed. She observed that “when it happens so frequently, then it’s no longer a glitch, it’s the new norm.

The question is what has happened to the master plans for hospital beds 5 to 10 years ago? Furthermore, if we are currently playing catch-up, then the question is “are Singapore public hospitals on track to meet future healthcare needs” given that our population is still expanding and still ageing?

Many of our government-restructured hospitals are Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited. This internationally recognized accreditation is awarded to hospitals that meet certain standards for patient safety. The standards for patient safety are stringent and include a minimum distance between patient beds and adequate sinks/ toilet facilities so as to reduce the rate of hospital acquired infections. Are housing patients along corridors and in tents acceptable to the JCI committee?

An Exclusive Interview with Ms Teo Soh Lung

Done by Citizens’ Journal, a friendly page

beyond blue gate, tsl

CJ: What are your views on Operation Spectrum now? Do you forgive the government for what it has done to you (and your comrades)?

Ms Teo: Operation Spectrum was a political exercise. It had nothing to do with national security. The first generation PAP leaders carried out this exercise for two main reasons: (a) To show the second generation leaders who were taking over the leadership of the PAP at that time that the “most effective” method of control was the use of the ISA – arrest all the leaders in any group, including student leaders. (b) To test the nerves of the second generation leaders – whether they can stomach arresting innocent people and imprisoning them without trial, and indefinitely.

There is no issue of forgiveness because the PAP leaders have never seen themselves as requiring any forgiveness. For more than five decades they have used and continue to use the ISA to intimidate and prevent people with views contrary to theirs from being active citizens and contesting and forming an effective opposition in parliament.

CJ: How do you view the response and actions by the PAP government thus far, on Operation Spectrum? We see now that not many people on the street know about such a dark operation in our history, although at the time of its occurrence, it was made known to everyone and intended to be so to make sure fear was struck down the spine of the Singapore citizenry. What would you demand from the PAP as to the “healing” process from such an operation? Or, what do you expect it do next, say in the coming years?

Ms Teo: Yes, Operation Spectrum has largely been forgotten because it happened 27 years ago. So are the earlier operations like Operation Coldstore, Operation Pecah and so many others. If you look at the last chapter of the book “The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore: Commemorating 50 Years” ed. Poh Soo Kai, Tan Kok Fang and Hong Lysa, you will find a list of 1190 names of ISA prisoners who were and are being imprisoned without trial. There are many more ISA prisoners whose names have not been traced. And there are many who have been banished or live as political exiles today.

The best thing that can happen in Singapore is the setting up of an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate each and every case of imprisonment under the ISA and its predecessors, the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance and the Emergency Regulations. The status of political exiles should also be examined. Why are the exiles not permitted to return to Singapore, the country of their birth, for more than half a century?

As a matured nation, we must know our past and leaders must have the courage to right the wrongs committed by their predecessors. Leaders must accept responsibility, and should be matured enough to apologise to the families of the thousands who have been imprisoned without trial.

CJ: What is your take on the current social involvement climate in Singapore? Are our youths taking part in social and political discourse like those of your time? If yes, how is that different, in terms of being able to garner support and effect change on society and government? If no, why so, and how do you think we (not the government) can help to ‘make it happen’? 

Ms Teo: Today, young people have the internet and news can travel very fast. Society is more open, not because the government is more open but because the young no longer accept what the government says. They do not trust every word of the government and fear is less obvious. But fear has not disappeared. For eg., I once asked a group of youths if they were attending a protest in Hong Lim Park. The answer was quite amusing: We are national servicemen and cannot attend protests! On another occasion I was asked if foreign students at the National University of Singapore are allowed to attend an event at Hong Lim.

Active citizens are always in the minority, be it in Singapore or elsewhere. Most people are only interested in themselves, their families, friends and their work or studies. It is always difficult to convince people that change is good for the country. People like security. But when economic situations affect them or when they suffer injustice, then people will start to question. How long this will take depends on the people – whether they think change is necessary and whether the political and economic circumstances warrant change necessary and people willing to take risks.

CJ: How do you view the dominance of social critic and political criticism by online users and the internet community? Is it healthy, holistic and relevant to the wider society? And if not, how can we improve things?

Ms Teo: Of course discussions, agreements and disagreements on the internet and elsewhere is healthy. It is through such throwing up of ideas that society progresses. Democracy is always good. We learn to be tolerant and not run down people who don’t easily agree with us..

CJ: How do you see your chances of winning at the next General Elections? What are some of your strengths and weaknesses in terms of political campaign? How about that of your opponent(s)?

Ms Teo: There are so many talented young people and they should be taking the lead.

CJ: How do you see SDP, which you chose to join in GE2011, as a brand of politics in Singapore? What have been its greatest contributions as we look back, and what are some of the things you see it going to get done as we look ahead?

Ms Teo: I see every opposition party as necessary for the good of Singapore.

Ms Teo Soh Lung was one of the 22 detainees of the 1987 ISD’s Operation Spectrum. Read her story here.

‘It does matter if Lim was communist’ article an intellectually dishonest one


So one Ronald Tan got an article published on TRS saying it “does matter if Lim Chin Siong was communist”, quoting Patrick Low and Teo Soh Lung, with an ending that read: “If Dr Chee Soon Juan is truly for freedom and democracy, I urge him to speak out on Teo Soh Lung’s apologia for Communism. I also urge supporters of the Opposition to continue to engage the PAP in debate on their policies, but also oppose the radical left segments among them.”

The post drew massive outrage and counter-attacks on the web and facebook, but one reply stood out to lambast this goon suavely.

Bernie Khaw:
“You seriously have no idea what you are talking about, in the 50s to 70s, Communism as a intellectual ideal was relatively popular amongst a good number of educated fellows.
Not the politics as performed by Mao, Stalin and gang, but the writings of Karl Marx or Lenin about the ideal of how labour is valued and shared.

You might not be aware, but a good number of fellows then, and now, self identify themselves as communist, but the vast majority of them (unless they’re in Soviet territories or in “Red” China) are in no ways, affiliated with the much reviled Communist organisations.

So Teo Soh Lung’s not actually wrong, and you have to do a lot better than to use throwaway statements and false accusations in order to toe the PAP line.

On a side note, do note that Communism is quite separate from the Soviets and Red China, so by smearing self-identified communists together with Soviets and Red China, you are being quite intellectually dishonest.

Communism is a political ideal, whereby property is noted to be owned in common and the products of one’s labour are pooled and shared amongst all. You may call it many things, idealistic for one, utterly stupid for another, but it has not killed anyone.

Instead, you should look into those which have it as an excuse.

Organisations and people on the other hand, have.

Stalin was NOT a communist. He was for practical purposes, trying to establish a state, wholly developed to himself as a cult figure. Whilst he is described as communist, I’m still wondering which part of his policies other than the name is communist.
Mao does seem to have taken his values from a lot of places, where Lenin’s writings happen to be a good amount of it. He has also plagiarised a lot of his writings from Sun Tse, are you going to say that Art Of War is a violent organisation?

However, if we’re talking about the silly jokers who started the Malayan Emergency? Sure, call them violent.”

read also: On Lee and the communist connection

On Lee and the communist connection


LHL posted this photo on his facebook page, ‘proving’ Lim Chin Siong’s ‘communist’ connection by mere comparing of handwriting!

By Sgc Ommoner

I refer to TOC’s question as posted here.

1) Lee was right that he is no communist. But he made use of the “pro-communists” to gain power, and then evicted them. After which, he arrested and locked them up before they could win back power from the PAP.

2) China today is also not communist. It is a state corporatist, or fascist regime, just like the PAP’s. That means capitalism + state power, or state-controlled capitalism, state-owned capitalism, whereby the govt makes tons of money, virtually monopolising the economy, and yet does not conduct a welfare society.

3) The Communist Party of Malaya may have been a violent, terrorist organisation, but Lee told us that the alternative was his “democracy”. Where is the “democracy” now? Could a Soviet republic that later gives way to some citizen autonomy even be more democratic than the Singapore Lee managed?

4) So, technically, Lee did not lie. And he did not contradict himself when allying the Chinese. But he did always ally with dictators, be it the Chiang regime of Taiwan before Taiwan democratized, or now the “Communist” regime of China that refuses to democratize.

5) What we need to understand is, while Lee did help us fend off the “violent” communists, he also made sure he had no opponents to counter his rule, itself a violently maintained and violently fought one. While he banished the communists, he did not act less than the communists themselves.

6) What is important and worth supporting, is not whether one is communist or not. What is more important is whether one is dictatorial, and if one allowed freedom and democracy, and on that count, Lee failed miserably.

7) So say all you want about helping to fend off the “Old Communists”. But what about the “alleged communists” – the “communist sympathisers” of the 1963 Operation Coldstore who were but members of the Opposition Barisan Socialis, and worse, the “Marxist conspirators” of the 1987 Operation Spectrum who were but members of the Catholic Church? Those were perfectly and completely peaceful and legal parties and people, who were “wrongfully” (in our perspective) (and even, illegally) detained and made to lose power, so that there was to be no Opposition at all to the PAP’s totalitarian and authoritarian rule.

8) So if we now look around the world, there are communist parties in the most capitalist of countries, like Japan, the United States and India. Not to mention France and Germany, etc. These are legal parties, working within democratic frameworks.

9) So it is really not about “communist” or “non-communist”, but about “fascist” or “non-fascist”, about “democratic” or “autocratic”, “open and free” or “authoritarian and repressive”.

10) Singaporeans should know the answer.

read also:  ‘It does matter if Lim was communist’ article an intellectually dishonest one

50 Reasons to Vote Against the PAP

50 reasons to vote against pap

It’s SG50…so we thought it appropriate to give you 50 Reasons to Vote Against the PAP – if you believe in building a democratic society, based on justice, fairness and equality.

1. Use of GRCs to parachute unworthy candidates into Parliament.

2. Use of GRCs to deter Opposition from contesting in elections.

3. Attempts to censor and suppress socio-political discussion on the internet.

4. Continued reliance on defamation suits to silence critics.

5. Rewarding themselves with million dollar salaries despite mediocre performance.

6. Network of cronies in civil service and GLCs.

7. Refusal to price new flats based on cost of construction to make them more affordable for citizens.

8. Cooptation of police and army by appointing useless and undeserved generals to political office and civil service agencies to buy their loyalty.

8. Twisting of history while denying opponents the right to air their views.

9. Refusal to move Elections Department out of the PMO to form a neutral and independent agency.

10. Politicizing the civil service to further its own partisan ends.

11. Control of the MSM to spread its propaganda and smear the Opposition.

12. Use of grassroots to sabotage duly elected MPs of the opposition party.

13. Refusal to admit to lapses in Bukit Batok rat infestation case despite clear evidence of negligence by Jurong Town Council.

14. Forced retention of the people’s money via CPF.

15. Rewarding foreigners scholarships to the tune of $210 million a year, while ignoring own citizens who have to apply for loans to study.

16. Reserving up to 20% of local university places for foreigners.

17. Condoning wrongdoings by own party cronies (think Jason Neo) while swiftly arresting critics who supposedly committed the same misdemeanors.

18. Using ISA to intimidate own citizens.

19. Refusal to hold an inquiry into wrongful detention and allegations of torture in Operation Spectrum.

20. Refusal to declassify information on supposed communist movement while actively promoting LKY’s monologue “Battle For Merger”.

21. Inability to control dengue epidemic leading to 13 deaths in two years.

22. Rent-seeking predatory behaviour by Temasek-linked companies leading to escalating rental costs.

23. Molly-coddling public transport companies by turning a blind eye to breakdowns and disruptions under 30 mins despite the massive inconvenience caused to commuters.

24. Inability to control floods with flash floods still occurring at alarming frequency.

25. Condoning discriminatory hiring in foreign banks and MNCs by certain nationalities like foreign Indians at the expense of Singaporeans.

26. Refusal to implement minimum wage for the low income earners.

27. Refusal to set a poverty line under the ridiculous pretext that it will result in “cliff effect”.

28. Sabotaging the Workers’ Party by using PA to impose restrictions on community events.

29. Attempts to introduce self-censorship in the arts community with self-rating scheme.

30. Throwing $170 million at private companies to entice them to implement flexi-work scheme.

31. Timing improvements in public transport infrastructure to coincide with GE 2016.

32. Refusal to own up to ineffective protection of foreign workers who continue to suffer from shabby treatment from employers and live in substandard housing.

33. Refusal to provide GST exemptions for basic necessities.

34. Wasting resources to create internet brigade to harass critics and sing praise of the PAP.

35. Providing S$4b loan to IMF without parliamentary debate.

36. Passing 6.9m Population White Paper despite public outcry.

37. Collaborating with Chinese Communists by inviting CCP cadres to study PAP grassroots movement.

38. Paying $25k to help Chinese PLA military officer learn English.

39. Setting up $2 company AIM to buy software from town councils on the cheap and leasing it back to the latter benefiting the company’s directors who are former PAP MPs.

40. Refusal to provide free medical for the lowest income earning strata of society.

41. Allowing PTOs to raise fares despite 40% drop in oil prices in the past year.

42. Sabotaging the Workers’ Party through the NEA by falsely accusing them of not cleaning the hawker centre ceiling and illegally holding trade fairs.

43. Lack of accountability among ministers who continue to draw sky high salaries in alternative posts despite many oversights.

44. Mollycoddling taxi companies with complex fare structures and multiple surcharges.

45. Appointing useless PAP MPs to be in charge of sports associations, eg Nordin Zainuddin at FAS.

46. Raising causeway toll under the ridiculous pretext of “matching” Malaysia’s rates.

47. Refusing to disclose the value of Singapore’s reserves

48. Gerrymandering of electoral districts to ensure PAP has the upper hand.

49. Insulting Singaporeans in foreign media.

“Singaporeans’ spurs are not stuck to their hide” – LKY

Singaporeans have a sense of entitlement and and are envious of whoever is better off – Lee Hsien Loong


50. Controlling the universities by not renewing the tenures of lecturers who are critical of the PAP (think: Cherian George).

Post first seen on The Alternative View.

Streaming hurts learning! British Education Report proves SDP right on education


Were the Singapore Democrats right when they urged schools in Singapore to banish streaming?

The SDP said that this would only make children suffer in the short run, and hurt them more in the longer term.

The Singapore education is adapted from the British education system (now, pretty loosely), and the findings of research by British education officials seem to indicate that the SDP is right.

Here’s what they found hurts learning, or promotes it, as reported by the BBC:

School uniforms instil discipline and improve performance. Streaming pupils gets better results. Teaching assistants take the strain off hard-working teachers and help children learn. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

New government-commissioned research into “what works” suggests many of the approaches we think make a difference are either a waste of money or may make matters worse.

Uniform policy? NO.

Schools that don’t force pupils into blazers and ties are almost unheard of these days. But the best evidence is that a uniform policy makes no difference to attainment. If anything, it holds students back.

Setting and streaming? NO.

Dividing pupils into classes of different abilities is a popular approach to improving standards, but research suggests that it leaves students a month behind those in mixed groups.

Teaching assistants? NO.

Research suggests students in a class with a TA do not, on average, perform better than those in a class with only a teacher.

Longer lessons (block scheduling, in the jargon )? NO.

The evidence is double-chemistry and triple-maths don’t make for more accomplished chemists and mathematicians.

Repeating a year? NO.

Giving pupils a chance to repeat a year if they are struggling is not only very expensive – on average, it leaves children four months behind.

Surprised? These are the findings of intensive analysis of data from across the world, part-funded by the Department for Education as part of the What Works Network,

So what does work?

Meta-cognition and self-regulation? YES.

“What on earth is meta-cognition and self-regulation?” I hear some ask. It is hardly the chant at the school gates. But that phrase reflects the most effective way to improve educational outcomes, according to the evidence.

Meta-cognition is often described as “learning to learn” and what it means is giving children a range of strategies they can use to monitor and improve their own academic development. Self-regulation is developing the ability to motivate oneself to learn.

On average, introducing meta-cognition and self-regulation into the classroom has a high impact, with pupils making an average of eight months’ additional progress. That is a phenomenal improvement.

Feedback? YES.

Feedback is information given to pupils about how they are doing against their learning goals. In the workplace it might be part of an appraisal, and the evidence is that a similar approach works wonders in the classroom, increasing educational attainment by around eight months.

Peer-tutoring? YES.

If pupils work together in pairs or small groups to give each other explicit teaching support, the results can be dramatic – particularly with youngsters who struggle the most. This isn’t about doing away with teachers, but it seems when working with their peers, children tend to take real responsibility for their teaching and their own learning.

Sometimes the tutoring can be reciprocal, with pupils alternating as tutor and tutee. Cross-age tutoring also has advantages for older and younger participants, it turns out. This intervention, on average, improves student performance by a GCSE grade.

One-to-one adult tutoring is, counter-intuitively, less effective and much more expensive than peer tutoring.

Homework in primary school doesn’t make a lot of difference, nor does mentoring, performance pay for teachers, or the physical environment of the school.

Given all this evidence, it appears our debate about school standards is obsessed with the wrong things. We need to teach our children how to learn and give them more opportunity to learn from each other.

This government declares its commitment to evidence-based policies, so one must assume that the results of research it helped initiate will be disseminated to every head teacher in the land.