Archive for May, 2008

Best of exchanges from Lee vs. Chee in court

May 30, 2008

As covered in the international press, there is quite a war of words going on in court, between Chee Soon Juan, leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, and Lee Kuan Yew, former PM of Singapore and former leader of the ruling party of Singapore, the People’s Action Party.

Background: Chee is facing defamation charges from the Lees because of his remarks that the Singapore government is run like the corrupt regime of the National Kidney Foundation. In court hearings over the past few days, Lee Kuan Yew has personally taken the stand and faced questioning from Chee himself.

Since coverage of this court case will be scant in the local media, I’ve compiled a “best of” list of quotes from the exchanges in court between Chee and Lee, just so you can hear it from the horse’s mouth.

From the defendant, Mr. Chee Soon Juan:

“Mr. Lee, we get to meet at last.”

“I couldn’t make this up, even if I wanted to, how much justice has been gagged, bound up, kicked, raped, quartered, and then, at the very last moment, the dagger plunged right through,”

“I may remain a bankrupt for the rest of my life as a result of my obstinacy. It is not a position one aspires to, but it is a cause I find worthy of battle and a call, though sometimes I may resist, I will ultimately trust and obey.”

“I cannot deny that I get angry and even bitter with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew over the things that he has said and done to me and others. But through the years, I have seen the bigger picture and developed a sense of calm and equanimity that comes with knowing my role in society.”

[To Lee] “I don’t hate you, I feel sorry for you. I think you cut a pitiable figure.”

“You will sue me over and over and over again, and continue to make me work to make the money to pay you back so that I cannot concentrate on doing the political work to be able to overcome this system which you have put in place – a system that is undemocratic, a system that abuses the rule of law, a system to ensure that you and your party perpetuate its hold on political power.”

Plaintiff, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew himself:

“He’s a liar, a cheat, and altogether an unscrupulous man. I could also add that I’ve had several of my own doctors who are familiar with such conduct, tell me that he is near-psychopath.”

[In response to Mr Ravi, Chee’s lawyer, asking MM Lee if he would consider mediation (instead of litigation)] “It is so bizarre a question, I will need [biblical King] Solomon to be revived, and I do not believe Solomon can mediate between a psychopath and sane, rational people.”

“They [the people of Singapore] know me by now, that if anybody impugns the integrity of the government, of which I was the prime minister, I must sue.”

“The final test is what Singapore was when I became prime minister in 1959 and what Singapore is now. We had less than $100 million in the kitty. [Today,] global financial services assess Singapore to have sovereign wealth funds of over $300 billion.”

“If you want to have any influence, you must get into Parliament. You have disqualified yourself, you cannot participate in any elections, and as long as you stay in that sterile state, you have muted yourself politically, in a constitutional way. And by every further action, as the damages go up on you, the longer the number of years you’ll be disqualified… Unfortunately, Dr Chee, you have not seen the point.”

[On Mr Chee’s lengthy questioning of LKY’s integrity] “One reason why we have allowed this altercation to go on is because we are leaning over backwards to allow you enough rope to tie yourself up. And you have successfully done that. You have a guillotine, you know you have the time of two hours, and you’re wasting it, frittering it, because you’ve nothing of substance to confront me with.”

“So, at the end of the day, we have had this confrontation face to face. Have you thrown any dirt? Have you dug up any scandal? Are you still saying, as you said before, that this Government is run like the NKF?”

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Indiana Jones

May 30, 2008

I left the cinema feeling pretty good after watching the latest Indiana Jones installment. As a big fan of the original trilogy, I thought that this was an entertaining if not groundbreaking sequel to the first three films.

A lot of people have complained about how unrealistic it the movie is, e.g. the tarzan scene, psychic powers, alien, etc. Lucas and Spielberg took a gamble by moving from the archetypal “adventurer stops evil army seeking religious relic” to the “adventurer stops evil army seeking extraterrestrial relic”. For some reason, people are a lot more forgiving when the origin of mystical powers is a god rather than a non-human intelligent species. To play devil’s advocate (no pun intended), I’d argue that this exploration of extraterrestrials in this Indiana Jones was necessary, for two main reasons:

1) Something fresh – The story of Nazis chasing a holy artifact to give them the power to overrun the Earth had been explored twice in the trilogy. Cries of “formulaic” would abound if they substituted “Nazis” with “Communists”.

2) Historical context – The Soviet Union was officially atheist, nein?  It wouldn’t have made sense for them to be searching for an Ark or a Holy Grail.  Also, remember the Roswell incident occurred around 1947, so the concept of intelligent life seemed a much more plausible concept then than it did in either the 30s or even today.

The cheese factor was high on certain sequences, but I thought the alien story was actually weaved into the script in a not-that-cheesy way.  The story might sound ludicrous to someone who hasn’t watched the film, but it didn’t seem that ridiculous on screen.

Well anyway, it might have been worse.  At least this wasn’t the Phantom Menace of the Indiana Jones franchise.  Rumor has it that George Lucas had even more outrageous ideas for the script, and if it wasn’t for Spielberg taming him, we might have had a Jar-jar Binks in place of Mutt Williams in the story.   This cartoon from Jolly Jack sums it up nicely:

My Mambo mix, Part 2

May 29, 2008

A new Mambo mix on my Torq/Xponent I did over the weekend is up for downloading at the drop.

My intention is to make mixes that can flow from one Part to another, with the quintessential Mambo transitions in between, like the Grease megamix, the Earth, Wind and Fire megamix, and perhaps a Beatles megamix!  That way anyone can download the files, set them up in a playlist and dance to Mambo all night.

Man takes ball in the balls for “science”

May 21, 2008

I once had aspirations of doing academia, and running cool experiments like the one here, where a brave dude volunteers to have a tennis ball shot at 50 mph at his nuts.  I love it when they slow-mo his reaction.

Film on LKY seized by MDA during SDP screening (woah, acronym overload there)

May 21, 2008

SDP organized a “private screening” of a film about LKY.  Films in Singapore are subject to the Films Act, which states that the making or screening of any film about Singapore politics is illegal, and will have very dire consequences for anyone involved.  Obviously SDP, given their political kamikaze mentality, didn’t give a rat’s ass about this and went ahead with the screening.  Someone at MDA then gets a tip off about this, and they converge on the event in the middle of the screening.  Obviously a conflict ensues, and thanks to technology, it is all on YouTube for us to see.

In the video, Ms. Chee (Soon Juan’s sister) is seen in a confrontation with MDA officials, and ultimately, a plainclothes policeman in a video. Ms. Chee already has a whole series of YouTube videos on her run-ins with Big Brother, but this one might be the most entertaining by far (second only to the “I’m going to the hotel for coffee” one), because the MDA officials’ faces all turn super chao-bin when they get the “this is my right” and “what is reasonable” diatribe from Chee.

From some WP Remix site (you can watch the videos of the confrontation at the site):

Film on Lee Kuan Yew seized by MDA
Posted by Buzz on May 19th, 2008

It was a private screening but that didn’t stop officers from the Media Development Authority (MDA) from seizing a copy of the film, “One Nation Under Lee”, at the Tulip Room in the Peninsular Excelsior Hotel.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) screened the film to an audience of about 70 people, who paid $20 each to attend the lunch-cum-film event on Saturday, May 17.

The film, produced by activist and artist Seelan Pillay, was a narrative of how Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew subjugated various institutions in Singapore, such as the press, under the government’s control during his time as Prime Minister. It also depicted how the social divide in Singapore is a result of the People’s Action Party’s policies. The film included interviews with former Solicitor General Francis Seow, political detainee Said Zahari, opposition politician JB Jeyaretnam and scenes of various public protests which had taken place in Singapore.

Twenty minutes into the screening, three officers from the MDA, one of whom identified himself as “senior assistant director” Mr Tan Chiu Kee, arrived and demanded that the organizers stopped the screening and handed over the film. They were met outside the door of the room by Ms Chee Siok Chin and other SDP members and supporters.

The officers explained to Ms Chee that they were contravening the Films Act, which stipulates that any film intended for public exhibition must be submitted to the MDA for a licence. Failure to do so would incur a fine of $100 for each copy of the film in possession. Whether the SDP had committed any other offence is unclear as the MDA officers did not say.

The SDP explained that since the screening was already taking place, the officers should allow it to go on and the SDP would hand over the film then. The officers refused and at one point warned the SDP that they were “obstructing justice”.

The MDA officers then called in the police who arrived for a brief period. They left after the SDP agreed to hand over the film. By this time, the screening of the film had ended.

The copy of the film was then handed over to the officers who also asked for the dvd player used to screen the film.

The event continued with Seelan Pillay and film maker Martyn See taking the floor and answering questions from the audience, which TOC understands included two US embassy officials.

During See’s Q&A session, the MDA officers returned again and asked for the LCD projector. The SDP refused. The audience heckled and scolded the officers who promptly left – without the projector.

Second wind

May 20, 2008

Want to write something to vent after this weekend+1 stretch of working.  It’s terrible working with people who are all kan chiong spiders, clambering over one another to try and get the page numbers to appear properly on a page.  My spine feels flaccid from sitting in a curled position at my desk all weekend, and my mind just refuses to process anymore information.  I remember in the Army TSRs we used to read about the effects of sleep deprivation on soldiers.  I haven’t got the the point where I’m hallucinating about the ghost from The Ring yet, but I’m definitely seeing in tunnel vision already.

Publicity stunt stopped because of lack of permit

May 19, 2008

This is quite ridiculous, really. When are they gonna loosen up?

Protest

Publicity stunt to promote Anlene Orchard Mile goes awry

SINGAPORE: A publicity stunt to promote the Anlene Orchard Mile run may have ended up running afoul of the law.

About 20 men took part in a ‘mock protest’ along Orchard Road on Sunday afternoon to complain about not being able to take part in the women-only run.

The organisers did not have a permit to do so and police are investigating the incident.

The Anlene Orchard Mile, which will be held on June 15, is in its second year.

Organisers had hoped 5,000 women would sign up for the run. – CNA/so/ir

Samsung’s 10 Optical Illusions in 2 Minutes

May 19, 2008

Not sure if this is meant to be a viral video, since it’s clearly a Samsung endorsement, but it’s great fun to watch anyway!

Singapore stories

May 18, 2008

One question I get a lot is about how I keep in touch with news in Singapore, or news about Singapore from foreign sources.  I thought it’d be good to list exactly how I do that, so that people interested to read more about Singapore can do the same things.

Traditional media sources

Reading the Straits Times is like eating salad (the #2 lunch meal of choice for white-collared ang mohs) – it’s overpriced, it makes my bowels churn, but I don’t have a choice after binging on good food after the weekend.  ST has no real competition except Channel NewsAsia’s website (which is free), but similarly, reading that is like licking a toilet seat, albeit a clean, sterilized one.

Tomorrow.sg

Tomorrow.sg is an aggregator of Singaporean blog posts.  Singaporeans nominate blog posts or articles to be featured on the website, and a panel of bloggers choose what to be featured on Tomorrow.sg.  Unfortunately, I’ve come to find them rather biased towards featuring the same old bloggers again and again, which is rather annoying when it’s meant to provide broad coverage of the Singaporean blogosphere.   Even Fabian Lua doesn’t think much of them as an aggregator of interesting stories about Singapore.  It’s a microcosm of Singapore’s electoral system, with the Tomorrow.sg editors working like a GRC.  In the interest of full disclosure, Tomorrow.sg did not “tomorrow” our DiaS’pura website last year despite Fabian’s and my recommendation, which explains why I think it’s become crap.

Google Reader (“GReader”)

A lot of people I know who read blogs still don’t use RSS feeds, which have simplified blog reading so much.  Now I no longer have to check for updates – the updates are automatically fed to your GReader as and when they arrive.  After reading the updated posts, they’re discarded from the system.  News sites, personal blogs, professional blogs – all of them can be read in the minimalist white-background format of GReader, thus removing all the irritating quirks of each blog (like how Dawn Yang’s blog had some emo-rock music embedded in the background for a long time).  Content, stripped to its bare essentials, delivered to you everyday.  I scroll through Gizmodo and Gawker to get daily fixes of gadget and media/starfucking news respectively, the headlines on Channel NewsAsia are fed to me daily, so I always have some sense of what’s on the headlines in Singapore, I read about the latest news in film on /Film, I get my occasional inspirational quote from Sanctuary For The Senses, etc.

OMFG

May 12, 2008

This is the most ridiculous thing ever. Watch this video of Jesus catching a man watching porn, then read how the company behind GodTube is valued by investors at $150 million.

From Dealbook:

GodTube, Where Networking Is More Spiritual Than Social

GodTube.com, a YouTube knockoff for the evangelical set, seems to be one step closer to building a kingdom on earth.

Last week, news broke that the owner of the site, which shows Christian videos and features a flip-through Bible and prayer blogs, had won a $30 million investment from GLG Partners, a big London hedge fund. The investment valued GodTube, which is owned by Big Jump Media, at nearly $150 million, according to PaidContent.org.

GodTube offers sermons, theological debates, Christian rap videos and low-budget skits like “See man watching porn get caught by Jesus!” (which plays out exactly as the title suggests). The investment will help sustain the on-screen Bible and a prayer wall on which Web surfers can petition God to bless the afflicted or revive a drifting relationship.

When it was formally introduced last August, GodTube was the fastest-growing Web site, as rated by comScore, attracting 1.7 million unique visitors for the month. The traffic remains about the same today. “People thirst for more than just a once-a-week relationship with the Lord and Savior,” Jason Illian, Big Jump Media’s chief strategy officer, told The New York Times. “They desire something that they can live out 24/7.”

Unlike its secular cousin, YouTube, GodTube is proudly filtered: all content must gain approval from the site’s headquarters in Plano, Tex. Vulgar and overtly sexual material isn’t allowed. Neither are videos promoting other religions — for that, there are JewTube.com and IslamicTube.net. (Appropriately enough, the domain name SatanTube.com is for sale.)

Mocking Christianity is definitely not allowed. James O’Malley, a 20-year-old from Leicestershire, in Britain, posted a series of videos last year that jeered at evangelical theology. During a videotaped walking tour of the Natural History Museum in London, he referred to a plesiosaur fossil as a “liar-saur” and noted that volcanoes tended to erupt in non-Christian countries.

“The first couple of videos, where I spoke about Biblical infallibility and homosexuality, remained on GodTube and were treated like any other video,” Mr. O’Malley told The Times. “It was only when I posted a third video suggesting that the earth was flat and that astronauts were part of the ‘round earth’ conspiracy that they finally cottoned on to the fact it was a hoax, and I was banned.”

More in line with GodTube’s spirit is “Baby Got Book,” a satire of the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ode to the full-size derrière, “Baby Got Back.” In it, Dan Smith, a 34-year-old minister at a church near Cleveland, simultaneously praises godly women and pokes fun at aspects of Christian culture. He dances around with a gold neck medallion reading KJV (for King James Version) and tweaks Sir Mix-A-Lot’s lyrics so that “butt” becomes “Bible” and “she looks like a total prostitute” turns into “looks like Mother Teresa.”

The video has logged more views on GodTube than it has on YouTube. Mr. Smith says he appreciates the exposure, though he prefers promoting his music in places where he can reach nonbelievers, like call-in radio shows. “I just know there aren’t a lot of unchurched or de-churched people going to GodTube,” he told The times.

That self-selecting audience is part of the site’s marketing appeal. GodTube’s advertisers sell Bible software and degrees from online seminaries. The site plans to provide Facebook-like pages soon for ministries and churches.

“What that does is sort of replicate the Mel Gibson ‘Passion of the Christ’ marketing plan,” Mara Einstein, an associate professor at Queens College and the author of a recent book about the marketing of religion, told The Times. “If the pastors become the salespeople of it, I think this is going to explode, absolutely.”