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News Reports

Saturday sight-seeing

At the Padang 

So TODAY did the newspaperly thing and followed up on the refusal to let Touch use the Padang on the same day as Pink Dot at Hong Lim Park. It’s interviewed the irrepressible Lawrence Khong, who is behind Touch, by the way. He said he can’t understand why Ministry of Social and Family Development said no. He’s “confused’’ by its position on the family given that it was meant to support MSF’s effort to strengthen family ties. Then he goes on about how the function was to protect the family against onslaught of bad moral values, including homosexuality.

 Well, that’s done it then! So much for the organiser’s earlier statements that the event, first named Red Dot and then renamed #FamFest 2014, wasn’t meant to be pitted against Pink Dot.  You’ve got to say the pastor has guts, given that you can expect a chorus of howls to greet his statement. He die, die wants the Padang or at least some place more accessible than the heartland sites he was offered.

MSF declined to comment on his statement, beyond reiterating that it would support organisations that strengthen families in a “socially cohesive manner’’. Are we supposed to read something into “socially cohesive manner’’? Thank you Touch, but can you do it in a different way? Like pick a different spot or different day?

What was also interesting was how the use of the Padang is regulated. You need plenty of permits but the main “permission’’ authority is the Singapore Recreation Club or the Singapore Cricket Club, depending on which side of the field. TODAY had an interesting listing of past events, and yes, they were mainly sporting events although there was one concert performance by Linkin Park!

Frankly, MSF could have just left the rejection notice to either club and get out of the fray. Now, it’s caught in-between

On the Parliament stage

TODAY has a round-up of sorts about how Parliament and its MPs fared in the first term. It didn’t give marks of course, but it seems quite congratulatory of the MPs, including NMPs and Opposition MPs. I wish the article went further, with some research work done using Hansard, like who was the MP with the most comments and who spoke the least. Also whether Opposition MPs really raised any innovative proposal or the number of times it agreed with G policy.

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Actually, what I want to know is how the batch of NMPs fared, given that there is now some discussion about how the scheme might not be necessary given the number of Opposition MPs. Some sectors, like the labour movement, has put up its candidate. I am not sure about the rules of nomination but I sure hope that the Parliamentary Select Committee doesn’t HAVE to accept a sector’s candidate. Or will it be accused of neglecting a whole sector if it does? I happen to think it is quite silly for the NTUC to have its own nominee, especially with so many labour MPs in the House, including the G. In fact, a look at the different agencies and bodies asked to put up names gives the idea that the Establishment is looking for more names to bolster the Establishment. Even if nothing is changed, I have this hope: That the process will be transparent.

 In Maruah

TNP has this interesting piece about human rights group Maruah being questioned about its finances. Apparently somebody complained to the Registrar of Political Donations about an event it held in an Orchard Road hotel in October. Where did it get its funding from?

Maruah was gazetted as a political organisation in 2010, which means it can’t receive foreign funding. In fact, when it held a fund-raiser the next year, it didn’t get a penny. Members now work out of their own homes. As for the October event, Maruah’s defence is that it had been transparent – the event was co-organised with a European NGO, which paid for the hotel. Everyone in attendance was told. No money changed hands.

Looks like the RPD contacted Maruah in April but there seems to be no update on whether it was satisfied with the group’s response. My question would be: Is there a problem if an event was “co-organised’’ with a foreign partner and no money went into the local outfit’s coffers? You can argue that without foreign input, the event could not be organised and therefore there was foreign influence of some sort. So interesting. Needs clarification.

In and around Singapore

Mr Kishore Mahbubani has come up with his fourth Big idea. Sorry, but I can’t remember the first three. This time, he suggested that a city be noted for its “sacred places’’, security and busy-ness. Singapore has the last two but not the first. He’s talking about icons like Times Square in New York and so forth. Places that tug the heart strings and which citizens will die for. His own suggestion includes the Botanic Gardens, Bukit Brown cemetery and even the (now demolished) National Library. In fact, a list of Singapore “shrines’’.

So is this something for the Preservation of Monuments people and the Singapore Heritage Board to consider – or are current guidelines enough. I keep thinking about what place I would defend because it would offend me terribly to have it desecrated…What’s yours?   

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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