June 25, 2017

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by Bertha Henson

LUXURIATING in his favourite place, Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump decides to make a long-distance phone call. He knows it will be a historic moment, hence the gawkers in his playground watching the President do his thing.

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Trump: Hiyah Kim, old buddy, how’s the famine coming along? I mean, family.

Kim: Bzzzccckrracccc

Trump: I can’t hear you. The Chinese… they’re wiretapping you huh? Well, the Russians are listening in to mine. Plus the CIA, NSA, FBI and a whole lot of fellas.

Kim: Brzzzcckkk… hell…. oh… brrccsssk

Trump: I’m just calling to tell you that Carl Vinson is going to your part of town. The boat, not the congressman. Michigan as well. The boat, not the state. Just me trying to tell you not to play with your nukes…Okay, buddy?

Kim: Brrrzzzccckk… reta… ccckkk… ate… brrrcsssk live… brrcsk miss…

Trump: You ate what? Missed me? Aw shucks. I’ll come over if you like, but you seriously have got to calm down. You’re making Seoul so nervous. The Japs are jumpy too. We’re all coming to get you.

Kim: Brrzzzccck….Beijing…bbrrzzz military..brrrzzzccckkkkk

Trump: Your buddy Beijing? Hey, they’re just making noises. They don’t even want your coal. And they’ve already said they don’t mind a surgical strike. So I’m thinking of doing a Syria on you.

Kim: Brrzzccchhh…doing sixth missile test. You don’t frighten me, Mr Trump. Pyongyang will not succumb to threats by the hegemonic United States.

Trump: You must be using an iPhone… I can hear you perfectly well. Made-in-America? Anyway, I don’t mean to frighten you. I’m not a frightening person. I just sack people, evict them, defame them, insult them and put up walls to keep them outside. I don’t kill people. You, on the other hand…

Kim: It is the prerogative of a sovereign nation to protect itself against outside threats. Our nuclear missiles are not offensive weapons even though they have weird names. They are also meant for decorative purposes at military parades, of which I have many.

Trump: Hmm… I hear you’re even aiming them at Darwin in Australia. What have you got against kangaroos and sheep?

Kim: Who is a sheep? I am Kim Jong Un, all-powerful leader of the hermit kingdom. I am prepared for all-out war. My people are hungry but my military is strong. We have good missiles which sizzle even when they fizzle. We are now putting up a live-firing display to welcome your boats.

Trump: If you’ve got missiles…why are you detaining US citizens? That’s not playing fair. You’re not going to poison them like you did with your half-brother at the KL airport right?

Kim: They are alive. I need hostages who can act as my shield. Also, I would like some US currency and an iPhone or two.

Trump: You wanna do a deal? I can throw in a free trip to Disneyland for you and you can stay at one of my hotels. Okay?

Kim: Tha….BOOMMMMZZZZ…KAPOW

Trump: Kim? Is that one of my guys hitting a bullseye?

Kim: No. One of my guys. Misfired.

 

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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skillsfuture_300x250

ten authors posing with covers of books

by Clarabelle Gerard and Wan Ting Koh

THE first 10 titles from a series of publications that record, explain and offer insights into the evolution of Singapore as a nation, were launched yesterday morning at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law. The Singapore Chronicles series are a 50-volume range featuring 50 topics from the economy to governance, to topics such as Singapore’s flora and fauna.

The book launch was attended by Guest-of-Honour, Chairman of the SG50 Steering Committee and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who said that the series are defined by four significant themes: Singapore’s historical watermarks, institutions which have aided Singapore’s growth as a nation-state, Singapore’s relation to the outside world as well as her sense of identity.

In his opening speech for the event, director of Institute of Policy Studies Janadas Devan said that the Chronicles were meant to be primers. That is, they were meant to be brief and succinct insights into topics, like his favourite childhood books the Encyclopedia Britannica, which were the “ultimate primer”.

But are the Chronicles as comprehensive yet readable as the Encyclopedia Britannica?

The range of topics certainly is broad, and the target audience is said by Mr Devan to be the “intelligent lay reader” as the book is written non-academically and “does not strive to have the last word on any particular subject”.

In fact, it was a challenge for the editorial team to edit the volumes so that they would be accessible to the non-scholar. Compressing the long historical accounts into 100 pages without losing crucial details was also a challenge. But the team seems to have succeeded, as they said the books are written at an “optimal level” and post-secondary school students will be able to read them. “We are confident the books will be accessible to them.” said Mr Arun Mahizhnan, editorial team leader.

Diversity was “immaterial in this instance”, said Mr Arun, as “each author is an expert in her or his field and is telling a different story”. That means that each book is written in the style of the author, whether they are public servants, academics or journalists.

Readers who plan to pick up one of these books for light reading might still find that some may contain more academic lingo than others, depending on the books’ topics and authors. If you’re interested in reading up on other topics like food and literature, you’ll have to wait till next year. Here is a table of the list of the ten books that have been launched for the 50-volume Singapore Chronicle series:

S/NTopicAuthor (s)
1Colonial SingaporeDr Nicholas Tarling
2ConstitutionDr Kevin Y L Tan
3DefenceMr Ho Shu Huang, Dr Samuel Chan
4DiplomacyProf Evelyn Goh, Dr Daniel Chua
5EducationProf Saravanan Gopinathan
6EurasiansDr Alexius A Pereira
7HeritageMr Kennie Ting
8IndiansProf Vineeta Sinha
9LawAssociate Prof Goh Yihan
10PresidencyProf Thio Li-ann

As manuscripts for the other 40 books are going through blind reviews and an approval process, the authors for those books will not be revealed until the books are ready to be published. The table of topics for the 40 books can be seen here:

S/NTitle
1Architecture
2Chinese
3Civil Society
4Confrontation
5CPF
6Demography
7Economy
8Energy
9Environment
10Emergency
11Finance
12Food
13Flora & Fauna
14Gateway
15Governance
16Housing
17Healthcare
18Japanese Occupation
19Language
20Literature
21Malays
22Media
23Merger
24Multiculturalism
25Opposition
26Pre-colonial Singapore
27Policing
28Politics
29PAP
30Religion
31Separation
32Social Services
33Sports
34Theatre
35Trade
36Trade Unions
37Transport
38Urban Planning
39Visual Arts
40Water

 

Featured image by Wan Ting Koh. 

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Black clock showing 8.30.

Good morning! We hope you’ve had a restful holiday yesterday.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi believes that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party will win enough seats in Myanmar’s first election to form the government. Even thought the result is a big step forward for political reform, Ms Suu Kyi must manage the relationship with the military carefully, as they constitutionally still are entitled to 25 per cent of the seats in parliament, and have the right to appoint three key ministers.

It seems, as with so many other things, that you can go online to get your hands on the freshly-banned e-cigarettes, also known as vaporisers. Even as the authorities work to prevent the import and sale of these products, the anonymity provided by online selling still allows some retailers to evade the new strictures.

Money no enough for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many of which find that banks offer them loans that are too small or which come with conditions that are too onerous. Surveys by DP Information Group, Visa and Deloitte pointed out lower confidence levels for securing loans in the next six months and that more companies needed funds to mitigate cash flow problems and manage working capital.

On the other hand, money seems to be enough where Singaporeans’ charitable acts are concerned. The World Giving Index, using 2014 data from Gallup’s World Poll, ranked Singapore 34th and showed that close to 60 per cent of Singaporeans gave money to charity in the month before the poll, but less than 30 per cent volunteered for charity, and about 40 per cent helped a stranger. Still, not a bad showing, considering that Singapore ranked 64th in 2013 and 114th in the 2012 index. Corporates are no slouch either, with some, like watch retailer The Hour Glass, donating $5 million and caterer Neo Garden pledging to donate all its January 1 revenues each year.

 

Featured image by Chong Yew. 

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By Bertha Henson

We’ve always talked about why there are so few women in politics or at the top of corporations, but we’ve never really asked: “How come got no female general?’’ Sure, we’ve argued about having women going through the National Service stint like the guys – but no one has ever asked why the SAF top brass is lacking a member of the opposite sex.

I suppose the thought hasn’t crossed most minds. After all, it is almost natural for a male-dominated uniformed service to have male leaders, those wonderful macho men, buffed and sporting a crew cut.

Well, now we have Colonel Gan Siow Huang, 40, who is soon to be a Brigadier-General. (I wish though that she wasn’t a scholar. She happens to be one of four women who were the first to receive the SAF Merit Scholarship in 1993. Wouldn’t it be nice if a non-scholar got the star? Imagine the headlines, First female general, also non-scholar!)

I don’t mean to rain on Colonel Gan’s parade. According to ST, she has served in numerous appointments such as commander of the RSAF’s 203 Squadron, and Air Surveillance and Control Group. Now the Head of SAF’s Joint Manpower department, she will take over as RSAF’s Head of Air Intelligence and Director (Special Projects) next month.

She must be an extremely able military officer. (So can all those who say that this is just a politically correct appointment please zip lip? And let’s not hear anything about how she fares in her annual IPPT.) In fact, in my view, she must be a superwoman. She is also a mother of three.

In case you haven’t noticed, the SAF has been going great guns about the women in its ranks. Earlier this year, its media arm put out a video of women going through Basic Military Training on YouTube. It is also targeting to have one woman in every 10 career soldiers by 2018.

Of course, there are the women the SAF has paraded for the National Day Parade, like Red Lion parachutist Third warrant officer Shirley Ng last year and fighter pilot Major Lee Mei Yee who will whizzing through the air in an F16 in this year’s parade.

All this publicity is burnishing the SAF’s image as an equal opportunity employer, although truth to tell, it probably doesn’t have much a choice given the low birth rate and the resultant declining numbers of men. Still, far better, methinks, to resort to recruiting the other half of the population than relying on 3G or 4G technology.

Congratulations to Colonel Gan and to us, the members of the fairer sex.

 

Featured photo from Purple Light Visuals.

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