MH17: Malaysia’s Anger for Justice

Malaysians are rightly growing angrier and angrier, as grief and shock is being replaeced by frustration that nothing concrete at justice for the victims and their families has been achieved since MH17 was shot down last week. Instead, news of pro-Russian forces blocking crash investigators at the site and not returning one blackbox of MH17 besides general stonewalling by Russia, dominated. The UN is mulling a resolution drafted by Australia to condemn the downing of MH17. Expectedly, Russia and its allies would object or abstain, since Russia’s complicity in the shooting is deep. All eyes are on Malaysia and how far it intends to work with the other aggrieved states to demand justice.  It would be an uphill task as Russia is bound to be uncooperative despite the risk of being seen as a pariah state.

Malaysia must not forgive nor forget
By Wong Sai Wan -
July 21

I am angry and I am sure that I am not alone. I want justice and, again, I am sure I am not alone.

We cannot allow MH17 to be forgotten or swept away for political and economic needs.

Those responsible — no matter whether directly or indirectly — for the murder of the 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam on that fateful Thursday must be brought to justice.

The Special Parliament meeting on Wednesday to debate and condemn the downing of MH17 must not be about only speeches. Malaysians expect — no, demand — more than only empty talk. Our leaders must react with the anger that all of us feel.

I suggest that Parliament orders the Attorney-General to initiate a criminal investigation into this matter and to bring the perpetrators to justice here in Malaysia, if not at The International Court of Justice.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail must be firm in getting the murderers prosecuted. They must be put on public trial for mass murder and be put to death not only in retribution, but also as a deterrent to anyone else even thinking about it.

The Americans have their September 11 tragedy. MH17 is ours.

We have all read about those killed. Many of them are experts in various fields that could have made the world a better place. These murderers have robbed all of us of fathers, mothers, siblings and friends.


The United Nations must be forced to seek out the shooters, planners and, ultimately, the leaders responsible for this most dastardly of murders.

Malaysia is seeking a seat on the United Nations Security Council at the end of this year and we must now make MH17 part of our campaign for that seat. If the UN fails to move, Malaysia must act, even if we have to do so on our own.

Shooting down a civilian aircraft without provocation is an act of war by any definition.

We must act swiftly to bring about justice, especially for the sake of the 298 people killed and for our nation, while we grieve for MH370.

Many of us are still reeling from that tragedy and the nation as a whole is struggling to come to terms with it.

Four months later, we are no closer to the truth than that fateful Saturday of March 8.

However, MH17 is different.

We know who is probably responsible and the world needs to hunt down the criminals.

Malaysia must start by recording in the strongest possible terms its anger by pointing its finger at Ukraine and Russia. These two countries, which we consider friends, must open their doors to our investigators to bring the murderers to justice.

Many people, including myself, do not believe the Russians do not know who pulled the trigger or who ordered the act. If Russia wants to remain a global powerhouse, it must ensure the prosecution must take place and the murderers punished.

Political and economic alliances must not be a consideration when dealing with this.

Almost 100 years ago, the United States entered World War I after the ocean liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915. The attack killed 128 Americans on board, among the 1,198 passengers and crew who died in the sinking.

I am sure that if MH17 were an American or British aircraft, there would be international hell to pay. It is our job to make sure this precedence also applies in this case and not allow even one person to escape prosecution.

There may be a civil war in the area the plane was shot down, but downing a civilian aircraft is unforgiveable.

The perpetrators must be brought to justice and I, on behalf of all Malaysians, offer them our courts to do so.



Wong Sai Wan is editor-in-chief of Malay Mail.

Details on Toll to Drive into Malaysia Later

Malaysia is imposing a toll in the form of the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) for foreign vehicles entering JB. This is a tit for tat as Singapore would impose an increased VEP of $35 for Malaysian vehicles which enter Singapore from August. Odd retaliation by Malaysia as those impacted would be Malaysian retail, food and petrol outlets.  Or maybe smart as Singaporeans who still insist on driving into Malaysia would buy in bulk such that their savings would still cover the VEP imposed by Malaysia.

For one thing, Abdul Ghani is no longer Johor MB. Mohamed Khaled Nordin is the new MB since 2013 and he wants to play bilateral ties differently especially since he has good ties with the Sultan of Johor. After all, it was the Sultan of Johor who started the controversial land reclamation project in the straits which rubbed Singapore the wrong way as it would cause land erosion at Singapore at the very least. Or is it the other way round and the Sultan with his growing influence is the one prodding the current Johor MB on the VEP for Singapore vehicles.


Malaysia to charge foreign motorists entering Johor
POSTED: 16 Jul 2014 20:41
UPDATED: 16 Jul 2014 22:24

JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia on Wednesday announced that it will charge drivers of all foreign vehicles entering Johor Bahru.

According to The Star, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the decision to implement the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee was made following a request from the state.

Najib also said the date of implementation of the fee and the rates will be announced later.

Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the ministry was fine-tuning the proposed VEP charge.

However, he said the VEP charge would not be applicable at the border checkpoints in the northern part of the Malaysian peninsula.

“We are taking a bilateral approach only between Malaysia and Singapore because only Singapore is imposing a VEP charge on Malaysian vehicles and not the other countries,” said Abdul Aziz.

Johor Chief Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin had said the Johor government suggested a VEP charge of RM20 (S$7.80), with RM5 going to the state government for road maintenance, for Singapore vehicles entering Malaysia through the Causeway and the Second Link.

Singapore had earlier announced an increased VEP charge of S$35, from S$20, on foreign vehicles entering the republic effective 1 August.

In response, Malaysia’s UMNO Youth also proposed on Tuesday imposing a fee on Singaporean cars entering Malaysia.

NLB Book Ban And Tangot for Three

Some months ago, there was the HPB controversy and the Conservatives got their way. Then Pink Dot came again and the Christian and Muslim Conservatives could do little about it. With the recent news on NLB’s withdrawal of children’s books promoting alternative lifestyles as some call it, the Conservatives are back in the match, refreshed and eager.

The debate is slowing morphing into tacit Christian-bashing as Lawrence Khong is the poster boy for the anti-gay campaign. Lawrence Khong has been clever in concealing his Conservative agenda as “pro-family”, a good branding. However, there is a backlash here as the fence sitters who are against censorship but ambivalent on 377A which criminalises a sexual minority have jumped in to censure the Conservatives. Book banning by a public library crossed the line and the anti-377A camp indirectly got more support from NLB’s action. What’s next in wrestling match between the anti and pro 377A camps?

NLB’s banned children’s books reflect a facet of reality

I was surprised that the National Library Board (NLB) removed two children’s books from its collection after it received complaints that the books were not “pro-family”.

One of the books, And Tango for Three, is based on a true story about two male penguins raising a baby penguin in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The other, The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, is about four families who adopted children – two were made up of heterosexual couples, one was a single-parent family and the last was a same-sex family.

One can surmise that the objection to these books was based on their purported references to homosexuality.

As an agnostic father of two young kids, married to a moderate Christian wife, I was intrigued by the complaint and disturbed that the NLB acted in favour of the complainant.

First, I have absolutely no problems exposing my children to stories and themes of homosexuality, because I believe it highlights a facet of reality: that there are sexual minorities in every society. If my kids turned out straight, I would like them to accord complete respect, empathy and acceptance to their LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) friends.

More importantly, if my children turned out to be adults who belonged to a sexual minority, I would want them to be completely comfortable in their own skin. These books would allow me to inform my children at a young age of the diversity in what it means to be a family and would serve as an invaluable teaching resource.

Second, I am shocked that conservatives are acting as self-appointed vigilantes in the public space, policing what society as a whole should and should not read. While they have every right to adopt the views they choose to adopt, and keep their children away from books they deem inappropriate, they should not impose their values on the rest. Singapore is a secular state, and the NLB, as a statutory board, should act accordingly.

Third, the meaning and definition of “family” can be diverse, and it would serve everyone better if people can agree to disagree, than for one vocal minority to define the meaning of “family”.

NLB has right to decide on its definition of family

I refer to Ms Lin Shaojun’s letter “Library books should not reflect values of only one group” (July 10), which has correctly pointed out that the controversy surrounding the National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to withdraw two books from circulation revolves around the definition of a family.

While the definition and re-definition of a family have sparked off a global debate that is set to continue into the future, the NLB’s actions exemplify precisely what it means to live in a tolerant society that embraces diversity, counter-intuitive as it may sound.

The NLB has exercised its right to choose which viewpoint it seeks to represent, in accordance with the freedoms of a democratic society. Viewpoint diversity does not mean that the NLB abrogates its right to decide on the legitimate community interests it chooses to serve; and to that extent, to decide on a definition of a family that is most consistent with its policies.

In fact, the NLB’s definition of the family is consistent with the government’s pro-family stance, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defined in 2007 as “one man, one woman, marrying, having children and bringing up children within that framework of a stable family unit”.

The notion of tolerance does not mean that every view is equally valid; the call to tolerance cannot be used to affirm a myriad of contrary viewpoints and obscure fundamental issues. To tolerate something means that you have to disagree with it in the first place, but if one asserts that nobody should have the ability to pronounce right and wrong, it renders the concept of tolerance incoherent.

In this context, it means that there must be robust debate about the content of the controversy — which is first and foremost on the definition of the family — and not merely assert that the NLB is in no position to decide what that definition should be.

Restricting the circulation of books is not inconsistent with the values of free expression in a democracy.

For instance, the European Court of Human Rights allowed the ban of a children’s book, The Little Red Schoolbook, in the case of Handyside v United Kingdom, stating that although “the book contained factual information that was generally correct … the competent English judges were entitled, in the exercise of their discretion, to think at the relevant time that the book would have pernicious effects on the morals of many of the children and adolescents who would read it” and so allowed the UK’s ban of the children’s book.

In contrast, the books in the NLB controversy were merely withdrawn from public libraries and can still be purchased and read.

It is precisely because the books are pitched at a young audience that the NLB is right to restrict the books in its circulation to those that promote community norms. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.

Parents can still choose to expose their children to other content, but to insist that the NLB circulate books that are inconsistent with its own policies would be intolerant.

The Far Right in Malaysia

In Malaysia, there is angry resistance to the Catholic church’s use of the word “Allah” to refer to God in Malay, a practice that has gone on for years and is not problematic in Muslim-dominated Indonesia.  Groups like Perkasa, known for its Malay first lobbying and the brown shirts of  UMNO as it religiously attacks DAP, are reminding the minorities of ketuanan Melayu.

Right wing lobbying is closely tied with UMNO’s politics and the Malaysian government has given it more latitude in its actions. For example, in 2012, Perkasa warned Muslims against backing the Bersih movement.  Intertwining Islam into race politics, UMNO attempts to hold or gain ground since its lacklustre performance in the 2013 election. The end result is a powder keg waiting for a lit fuse under the present regime’s strategy in trying to regain Malay votes.


Malaysia’s ‘Allah’ verdict & the rising far right

Nile Bowie is a political analyst and photographer currently residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached on Twitter or at 

The recent ruling by Malaysia’s highest court to restrict non-Muslims from using the word ‘Allah’ has triggered a wider national debate deepening polarization among the country’s various ethnic and religious communities.

Malays, the country’s dominant ethnic group, are constitutionally ascribed as Muslims from birth, and their language borrows many terms from Arabic, including ‘Allah’. Malaysia, along with neighboring Brunei, are among the only countries in the world to regulate the use of the word ‘Allah’ and other terms deemed to be exclusive to Islam among its non-Muslim citizens.

A court ruling in 2007 prohibited a Catholic newspaper, the Herald, from using ‘Allah’ to describe the Christian god in the local Malay-language edition of its newspaper. In its attempts to appeal the judgment, the Church has argued that Christians in the Muslim-majority nation have used ‘Allah’ in Malay-language bibles and daily prayers for centuries.

Although the prohibition of the term only applied to the Herald newspaper, religious authorities in the state of Selangor took the unprecedented step of raiding the offices of the Bible Society of Malaysia in January, confiscating 321 Malay-language bibles on the basis that public disorder would ensue unless ‘Allah’ remains exclusive to Islam. The Selangor Islamic Religious Council refuses to return the bibles, in defiance of the country’s attorney general.

When a lower court ruled in favor of the Church to reverse the government ban in 2009, widespread anger ensued that saw arson attacks and vandalism at churches, temples, and other places of worship. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision in 2013, which prompted the Catholic Church to bring their case to the Federal Court, which rejected their challenge in a 4-3 judgment last week.

This controversy spawned by this issue has proven capable of enflaming communal tensions, and stoking activism and fiery protests from far-right Malay groups who view the term ‘Allah’ as an exclusive religious symbol, that despite the term’s pre-Abrahamic origins, is rooted in the Koran. The brand of Islam practiced by Malays – who make up some 64 percent of the population – is deeply interwoven with the community’s sense of ethnic identity, and an understanding of their perspective is crucial to grasping the issue.

Muslim demonstrators chant slogans outside Malaysia’s Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur, March 5, 2014 (Reuters / Samsul Said)Muslim demonstrators chant slogans outside Malaysia’s Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur, March 5, 2014 (Reuters / Samsul Said)

‘Allah’ in context
As Muslims, Malays use the term ‘Allah’ to refer to their god, which is perceived within a strict monotheistic orientation. Malays are determined to defend their monopoly over the term ‘Allah’ as understood in a monotheistic Islamic sense because they believe the word cannot correspond with the Christian notion of god due to the Christian belief in the Trinity.

The term ‘Allah’ predates both Islam and Christianity, and Arab Christians throughout the Middle East – and Christian communities elsewhere, such as in Indonesia – have historically used the term to refer to the Christian god without generating friction between Christian and Muslim communities.

The territory of Malaysia is geographically divided between the more populous western peninsular, which hosts the administrative capital and the Sultanate, and the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak located across the South China Sea on the island of Borneo, where the majority of Christians reside.

The indigenous Christian minority in Sabah and Sarawak have indeed used ‘Allah’ in Malay-language bibles for centuries, but the Malay community only began their fierce opposition in recent times when non-indigenous Chinese and Indian Christian communities in the western peninsular states began adopting the word in sermons and bibles.

Christian and Muslim communities in Peninsular Malaysia lack the cultural, ethnic, and social bonds that they maintain throughout the Arab world and elsewhere, which is why local religious misunderstandings have become significantly more enflamed by comparison.

Most Christians on the peninsular worship in English, Tamil or various Chinese dialects, and refer to God in those languages, and so the insistence of those communities to also use the term ‘Allah’ has been met with hostility by the Malay community, who are deeply suspicious that missionary-oriented Christians would use the term to proselytize Muslims into conversion, a crime in Malaysia.

The basis for their skepticism is rooted in the region’s history of colonization by European powers. Dutch colonialists, who controlled what is now modern-day Indonesia until the Second World War, intended to spread their gospel to Southeast Asia, making Malay the first language into which the bible was translated outside of Europe and the Middle East.

In an attempt to proselytize Muslims into embracing Christianity, Dutch translators deceptively incorporated terms borrowed from Arabic such as ‘Allah’ and incorporated them into the Malay bible, rather than use the Malay word for god (tuhan). From the Malay perspective, the insistence of non-Muslim communities to use ‘Allah’ is inexorably viewed as an affront by outsiders to a concept that is central to Islam.

Muslim demonstrators chant slogans outside Malaysia’s Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur March 5, 2014 (Reuters / Samsul Said)Muslim demonstrators chant slogans outside Malaysia’s Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur March 5, 2014 (Reuters / Samsul Said)

When tail wags dog
Despite the sensitivity of the matter and the historical grievances involved, this issue could have been resolved in a far more amicable way, involving dialogue initiatives with the country’s various community leaders and religious figureheads to diffuse antagonisms. The government’s support for regulating the term is widely perceived as an effort to assuage far-right Malay groups, who regularly use incendiary language and promote an adversarial interpretation of Islam.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who delivered the ruling coalition its slimmest victory ever in last year’s general elections, has put much emphasis on showcasing Malaysia’s brand of political Islam as being moderate and capable of sustaining national harmony since taking office in 2009.

Despite his administration’s inclusive message, the country’s leadership is widely accused of allowing right-wing fringe elements to dictate the Malay community’s agenda in an attempt to consolidate voter support, as evidenced by the government’s ambivalent stance toward groups that have regularly made provocative statements.

The controversy around the seizure of Malay language bibles earlier this year has set a troubling precedent. Following last week’s ruling, the prime minister’s office released a statement that said the court decision would only impact the Herald newspaper. Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patai instructed that authorities in Selangor had erred in the seizure of Malay-language bibles and maintained that the action taken by the state religious council was unwarranted.

Selangor’s religious council, however, has refused to comply, insisting it will continue to seize bibles that contain the word ‘Allah’ in the state. The council has warned that those found distributing the Malay-language bibles would be arrested. That a state religious council can flout directives from the country’s chief executive officer is inherently problematic. Members of Perkasa, a rightwing Malay rights group that has traditionally supported the ruling coalition, have made disturbing statements in support of the bible seizures.

Ruslan Kassim, a branch leader of Perkasa in the state of Negri Sembilan,threatened to behead those who opposed the bible seizure on the basis that such a position would betray Islam. Zulkifli Noordin, former Perkasa deputy president, recently accused those who opposed the ‘Allah’ ruling as being “lower than animals,” and asked if those figures were prepared for another May 13, a reference the country’s traumatic 1969 race riots.

The perspectives of Perkasa and groups like it are grounded in undeniable historical injustices, that of a complex history of being subjugated and by British colonialism, and later economically subdued to large extent by Chinese and Indian communities following the country’s independence in 1957. However, the language used by the organization in the examples given works to sow communal anxiety and is thoroughly unconstructive.

A Muslim man stands outside the court in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur June 23, 2014. (Reuters/Samsul Said)A Muslim man stands outside the court in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur June 23, 2014. (Reuters/Samsul Said)

Najib has taken much flak for his reluctance to chastise figures that espouse inflammatory language and for his general absence of input on polarizing national matters. His critics have chastised him for recent claims that human rights and secularism were being used to spread deviant thinking among Muslims, which the prime minister called “the most dangerous threat to the Islamic faith.”

When speaking to members of his party last week, Najib called on his compatriots to emulate the bravery shown by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during its brutal advance across areas of northwestern Iraq, sparking a flurry of criticism on social media.

These statements represent a significant departure from previous remarks at venues such as the UN General Assembly, where Najib used his address last year to deplore Islamic extremism and sectarianism, which he then posited as the greatest threat to Muslims. A spokesperson for the Malaysian government later issued a statement saying that PM’s remarks in no way indicate support for ISIS.

Najib’s statement, which can be perceived as a reluctant glorification of ISIS, is particularly puzzling since Malaysia is actively attempting to prevent a growing amount of its citizens from taking up arms in the Syrian civil war on the side of rebel militias. These comments should be seen in the context of the government attempting to accommodate fringe groups that have become increasingly successful at influencing the state-sanctioned interpretation of Islam.

In the prevailing social milieu of the country, there must be greater political will on the part of the government to take reconciliatory measures to diffuse communal and religious anxieties. If the authorities are concerned that Muslims would become confused if other non-Muslims use the word ‘Allah,’ then the government should make efforts to educate the public about the history of the word and its usage elsewhere to promote a correct understanding of the issue.

In light of recent developments, many who once placed great hope in Najib to deliver impactful social reforms in line with his stance of moderation and tolerance now feel like his government has lost the plot.

Their Name Liveth for Evermore

Lim Bo Seng is one of Singapore’s more famous WW2 heroes, celebrated in local folk lore besides last stand Lt Adnan, POW Elizabeth Choy and others who stood against the Japanese during their invasion and occupation.


Lim Bo Seng left Singapore just before the ominously named Impregnable Fortress capitulated, and headed to India and trained with Force 136. Force 136 as we know, conducted sabotage and other guerilla operations in Japanese-occupied Malaya.  Lim Bo Seng returned to Malaya in the Dutch submarine O24, an interesting quirk of European cooperation in the Far East as the sub was transferred to the British Eastern Fleet command operating out of Colombo in 1942. Lim Bo Seng and others in the pioneer Force 136 landed in Perak in 1943 under Operation Gustavus. The Japanese eventually got wind of the British SOE-led guerillas after they captured and interrogated a series of  guerilla fighters and supporters, and arrested Lim Bo Seng.


History singled out that Chua Koon Eng, also known as “Bill” and who helped the resistance, was the key blame for Lim Bo Seng’s capture and death. This was partly because since Bill was released and carried about his business after cooperating with his Japanese captors on Lim Bo Seng’s activities. Oddly, other people who were interrogated and expectedly cooperated under duress did not get a similar blame for Lim Bo Seng’s death. Chua Koon Eng’s name liveth for evermore, for different reasons.


Also see: Interview with Lim Bo Seng’s Children



Remembering Lim Bo Seng, Singapore’s war hero

By Monica Kotwani
POSTED: 29 Jun 2014 15:47

Future generations must not forget the sacrifices made by Singapore’s pioneers, and peace for a country comes only when one is able to defend the nation, said the family of Singapore’s war hero Lim Bo Seng, at a ceremony on Sunday to mark 70 years since his death.

SINGAPORE: Future generations must not forget the sacrifices made by Singapore’s pioneers, and peace for a country comes only when one is able to defend the nation, said the family of Singapore’s war hero Lim Bo Seng.

They were at a ceremony at Kranji War Cemetery on Sunday morning to mark 70 years since his death at the hands of the Japanese military police during the Japanese Occupation in Malaya and Singapore.

The ceremony was organised by Changi Museum.

Lim Bo Seng was one of many operatives in Force 136 tasked to infiltrate and conduct sabotage missions in Japanese-occupied Malaya.

The agents were trained in India and sent to their missions which were often dangerous, but conducted by ordinary civilians who were compelled by a greater cause.

His son, Dr Lim Whye Geok, said he was only four years old when his father left Singapore to join Force 136.

He said his memories of his father have been built up through stories shared by his eldest sister, and from a diary Lim Bo Seng had left behind for his wife after his death.

Dr Lim read an excerpt during the ceremony: “My duty and honour will not permit me to look back. Every day, tens of thousands are dying for their countries.

“You must not grieve for me. On the other hand, you should take pride in my sacrifice and devote yourself to the upbringing of the children. Tell them what happened to me and direct them along my footsteps.”

Lim Bo Seng’s daughter, Lim Oon Geok, said: “In his letter to my mother, he had written that when you start something, no matter what, you have to see it to his end. And he did say that when he bid goodbye to all of us, he never thought that it was eternal.”

As Singapore turns 50, his family hopes the legacy and sacrifices made by him and other pioneers are not forgotten.

Lim Teck Yin, Lim Bo Seng’s grandson, said: “For me, when I had the opportunity to read my grandfather’s diary, the full extent of the sense of sacrifice and the pain particularly of leaving behind my grandmother and the children remains very stark in my memory.

“For Singapore going forward, we always need to remember that we stand on foundations that our pioneers have set and that every generation has got to build for the next generation.”

Lim Bo Seng died in a Perak prison in 1944.

His remains were later buried at MacRitchie Reservoir in 1946.



Little India Riot Rumour Monger in Facebook Fined

A legal outcome that I support and a person whom I don’t sympathise with. It is totally right and expected that people would comment on an ongoing development when there is insufficient news. On the night of the Little India Riot, radio and TV news were silent compared with social media, as social media always have the edge here as they are not expected to fact check with official sources.  This rumour monger, who could not use teenage ignorance as an excuse, deliberately commented that NSF were killed during the riot despite knowing it was an untruth. Obviously an act out to stir trouble since the issue of conscripts killed harnessed xenophobic anger.

I think all would agree that the rumour monger should be prosecuted and it is the nature of the punishment and whether it fits the crime is always the debate A $5000 fine is simpler to implement compared to passing a sentence that he does community work for a certain period e.g. help out in a charity for foreign workers. I prefer the latter sentencing as it is more creative and constructive.



Man fined $5,000 for false Little India Riot posting on Facebook
By Jeanette Tan Yahoo Newsroom

A 28-year-old man was fined $5,000 on Thursday for a post on Facebook that falsely claimed three police officers and two civil defence officers died in last year’s Little India riot.

According to court documents, Desmond Lum Mun Hui posted a text status to his Facebook page on the morning after 8 December, the night the riot happened, that read, “Yesterday riot cause 3 spf and 2 cd dead.. all nsf.. haiz.. Sg..”, knowing that it was false. Here, “spf” refers to the Singapore Police Force and “cd” refers to Civil Defence, short for the Singapore Civil Defence Force. The term “nsf” is also short for full-time National Servicemen.

When his post attracted comments expressing disbelief, Lum continued to substantiate what he said by posting in follow-up comments, “Yup..not publish news [sic]” and “My fren [sic] on duty that night”. These comments, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Nim, indicated that Lum had heard the news from his friend who was on duty on the night of the riot, and that the news was yet unpublished.

A day later, another Facebook user came across Lum’s fabricated post and lodged a police report against him. Lum was then charged in court for transmitting a false message under the Telecommunications Act.

In seeking a high fine for Lum’s act, DPP Nim said the former acted “out of a misguided and immature desire to attract attention on a social media platform”. “The offender was at most reckless as to the potential mischievous consequences,” he added.

In sentencing, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim reportedly noted the fact that Lum is a first-time offender who pleaded guilty at the first possible opportunity. In a report from The Straits Times, she added that the fine imposed cannot be a mere slap on the wrist.

For his misleading Facebook status, Lum could have been fined a maximum of $10,000 or jailed for up to three years or both.

377A: The Conservatives March On

Earlier this year, the HPB debate rallied certain Christians, Muslims and fellow conservatives to stand together against what they see as growing endorsement of LGBTQ lifestyles in society.  Faith Community Baptist Church Pastor Lawrence Khong, the National Council of Churches of Singapore, the Catholic church, Pergas, the Fellowship of Muslim Students Association, NUS Malay Studies AP Khairudin Aljunied were among those who voiced concern that the interests of the conservatives were undermined by LGBTQ lobbying.

With the annual Pink Dot around the corner, an event backed by corporations such as Goldman Sachs and BP, the conservatives plan to hold  their own advocacy. Ustaz Noor Deros told his supporters to wear White in protest of the Pink Dot.  Lawrence Khong weighed in and said that the Wear White act was supportive of the government’s position to retain 377A and the status quo.  With his pro-family Red Dot and anti-Pink Dot plan scuttled by the government earlier, the FCBC pastor saw the Wear White campaign as a like-minded cause. Meanwhile, government-led MUIS urged Muslims not to be confrontational on LGBTQ issues.  MUIS’ action clearly showed that the government wanted to diffuse any confrontation, a confrontation that is inevitable in any democracy where different interest groups compete all the time e.g. France and the same sex marriage controversy.

The LGBTQ lobby used the annual Pink Dot to address 377A and acceptance of the LGBTQ community in society. Numbers at the event reflect its growing support. They however do not dominate the discourse as yet and the conservatives are raising their voices and backing each other up, not seen since the casino debate even. The PAP government would then become like other governments in the West, to maintain status quo until it becomes clear as a policy what the majority wants purely as a vote-pleasing exercise. Until then, the LGBTQ and the conservatives would try to outshout each other to give the impression that they represent the majority, and lobby for their interests.

Wear white to protest Singapore pink gay rally, religious groups say

SINGAPORE – Some Christians have joined Muslims in Singapore urging followers to wear white this weekend in protest at the sixth annual “Pink Dot” gay rights rally, which attracted a record 21,000 people last year.
June 23

SINGAPORE – Some Christians have joined Muslims in Singapore urging followers to wear white this weekend in protest at the sixth annual “Pink Dot” gay rights rally, which attracted a record 21,000 people last year.

Singapore is seeing growing anger over issues ranging from immigration and rising living costs to gay rights – all in a country where dissent is actively discouraged and political gatherings require a permit regardless of how many people are involved.

Last year’s Pink Dot rally was held just months after the High Court rejected a petition to repeal a law which criminalises sex between men.

Ustaz Noor Deros, a Muslim teacher, launched the WearWhite movement last week, urging Muslims not to take part in the Pink Dot event on Saturday, and to wear white garments to prayers on that night as they usher in the holy month of Ramadan. Its Facebook page has attracted more than 3,000 “Likes”.

“The movement’s genesis was from our observations of the growing normalization of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) in Singapore,” the WearWhite website says.

That movement has been joined by Lawrence Khong, head of the Faith Community Baptist Church, and the LoveSingapore network of churches. He encouraged members of his church to wear white at this weekend’s services.

Khong said that WearWhite movement was meant to defend the official position of the government.

“We cannot and will not endorse homosexuality. We will continue to resist any public promotion of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle,” Khong said in a Facebook posting.

The majority of Singaporeans appear to be against same-sex marriage, even as Pink Dot has seen growing support since it began in 2009 and attracted corporate sponsors including BP, Goldman Sachs and Google.

A study by the Institute of Policy Studies released at the start of this year found that 78.2 percent of Singaporeans felt sexual relations between two adults of the same sex was always or almost always wrong, and 72.9 percent of them were against gay marriage.

Singapore government ministers have called for restraint amid growing support for the WearWhite movement, though human rights activists say there should be clearer condemnation of discrimination.

“The state needs to come in and take on a clearer role from a legal perspective,” said Braema Mathi, president of MARUAH, a human rights group. REUTERS


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