Archive | September, 2012

Yawningbread or Yawningletter?

27 Sep

On 14 Feb 2012, Alex Au of Yawningbread.wordpress.com received a letter from law firm Allen & Gledhill for false and scurrilous comments targeted at Mr K Shanmugan and Foo Mee Har. Satisfied that a formal letter writing approach was adopted, Alex wrote, “I take Shanmugam’s word on this matter.  I have withdrawn that comment as requested.”

On 06 July 2012, amongst his pile of bills and magazines, Alex Au was most annoyed to see yet another unexpected letter. This letter was from the Attorney General’s Chambers – not as frightening as a letter from Allen & Gledhill but worryingly nonetheless. This time, Alex Au went one up from spreading false and scurrilous rumours to ‘scandalising the Courts of the Republic of Singapore’. An angry Alex Au decided to remove his posting and plaster the apology letter, written in a civil service style, onto his blog wholesale.

It is obvious that letter writing, retractions and civil service style paragraphing are sore points for Alex Au. What irks Alex Au more than anything else is that he feels the archbishop’s retraction letter was authored by a third party. In his own words “What was out of character was the abrupt withdrawal of the first letter to Function 8 through means of a letter sent by registered post and written in curt, civil-service style.”

Is this really about transparency? Alex Au just wants the Archbishop to come out and say “I have been arm-twisted by the government into retracting my letter”, or “I have realised my mistake and accept the retraction letter drafted by the government”.

No my friends, it is about power. With the power of a letter, Alex Au drops all allegations against K Shanmugan and Foo Mee Har. With the power of a letter, Alex Au believes he misrepresented facts concerning Woffles Wu.

So what is different this time? This time the central figure is a powerful clergyman who committed a terrible sin against God and apparently homosexuals; namely, Coitus Interruptus! By withdrawing his support for Function 8 just prior to climax, the Archbishop interrupted the civil society orgasm that promised to birth a child of double-barreled heritage. A child that will repeal the laws what prevent Alex from lying with man and beast.

In the eyes of Alex Au, there should be no grey area when it comes to political speak. Like a true blue bureaucrat, he prefers everything in black and white. How else can you explain his obsession with LETTERS? My advice to Alex is to leave the ‘bread’ to the unbrandedbreadnbutter, and change your URL to “YawningLETTER.com”.

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**Disclaimer: The authorship of this blog post, and the view and intentions represented herein, are entirely my own. I reserved the right to retract this blog post at a later date should I received a letter in the morning.

Alex Au, F8 and Maruah gangbanging Catholic Archbishop

21 Sep

Since a few days ago, civil society groups civilly arm-twisted the head of the Catholic Church in Singapore over his flip flop decision to back Function 8 and then his later decision not to. Archbishop Nicholas Chia said that he reflected on his initial decision and retracted it for the sake of social harmony in Singapore as his intentions might be misinterpreted. But Function 8 kept saying he must publish the letters.

In between the lines in this saga, the govt persuaded or arm-twisted the Archbishop. However, he is the Archbishop and he could have faced off the govt if he wanted to as he has the moral authority and a huge constituency to back him. The govt would not be stupid to arm-twist him. The Catholic community is not just the size of one small Pasir Panjang church. It is the largest Christian community in Singapore, especially if you count all the Pinoys as maids, service staff, nurses and IT engineers here. If push comes to shove, the Catholics locals and Pinoys combined can really push hard and fast just after one fiery Sunday sermon, and I’m not talking about the prosperity gospel Kong Hee kind of fiery. The big reason why bigger religions should stay out of politics.


Besides, if Archbishop Chia insisted on putting his foot down and wave his staff, it would split PAP solidarity apart. Catholic PAP members and MPs or if there are any now since George Yeo left, ministers, might instinctively side with the spiritual leader of their flock. He cannot be arm-twisted. Persuaded with reason was more likely.

Archbishop Chia in the end decided to go with the govt after that lunch or tea chitchat, mindful that Function 8 was steering the Catholic church into a langgar with the govt. This similar langgar failed to materialise in 1987 because the Archbishop then was also wary of the implications of the church taking a stand on political leanings of a group. Anyway, at least half of Function 8 were members of that 1987 group. Deja vu!


Was the Archbishop weak? No, he was responsible in a way separating religion from politics as much as he could. You want to see the church lobby the govt on abortion?  However, to the disappointed groups like Function 8 and Maruah, yes he was weak lah! They thought they had the Archbishop in the pocket but now he did a u-turn at their expense. That’s why Alex Au wanted to sabo the Archbishop by leaking the confidential letters to make the head of the Catholic church look bad. Anyway, Alex is against religions and its leaders who block his 377A repeal dream and saw this as a chance to poke that Archbishop and the govt at the same time mah.

Function 8 and Maruah are now behaving like spoilt brats. At the end of the day, it is the Archbishop’s decision lah. Function 8 and Maruah had their chance to win him over. The Archbishop then made his choice. Function 8, Maruah and Alex should have respected his decision and be gentlemanly, not bitch about it.

Splurging on National Day Parades

13 Sep

Gerald Giam asked a good question. How much was spent in the past national day parades.


Could the money have been better spent, yes, no, maybe. The elusive answer depends on whether Singapore can afford to spend the money and what was the opportunity cost. For example, how much should be spent on charity, helping fellow needy Singaporeans. So if $20.6 million was spent in 2010, money literally burnt away on fireworks and gaudy displays, how much of that should have been spent on approved charities or welfare programmes, or subsidies in conservancy fees. The list goes on and on.


I’m not saying that money spent on national day parades are a total waste of money, although it is cool and populist to do so. Really, it depends on how much was spent and on what. One misleading comment was by this blogger Singapore Notes who writes good stuff most of the time, but this time slipped slightly. All of us have our bad days I know.

Amidst the doldrums of worldwide financial meltdown in 2008, $14 million was still splurged (record high in that year), not a single cent was trimmed to entertain the VVIPs who were hosted to exclusive cocktail parties while the common folk make their way home in the over crowded trains and buses.

Firstly, the financial crisis hit the news in September with AIG’s troubles among those at the forefront. So money was squandered away before the 2008 global recession exploded. Secondly, it depends on what was spent regardless of recession or not. Spending on national day parades means money pumped by the govt into the economy – into production, transport, materials, advertisement and the entire supply chain. SMEs benefit. Big evil corporations benefit. National day parades are capital injections into local businesses and the economy is stimulated temporarily. Spending more money on national day parades especially during recessions are even more important. When the private sector holds back in such dark times, contracting the fragile economy even more, it is up to public sector spending to pump back confidence into the economy.


The real probes into national day parades and spending is whether the deals were transparent and without corruption. This is a point that Singapore Notes was nonetheless sharp to point out.

Without a detailed accounting, we are unable to tell if the procurement for top dollar items were approved along NParks procedures and similar standard operating guidelines.

Which companies won the tenders for supplying goods and services to the big birthday party that is getting boring year after year? The GLCs would usually win the tenders,  like SFI for providing food to “volunteers” and those conscripted to help out in the parades. I did NS and ICT enough to know that if it is SAF and food, it is SFI. However, these GLCs outsourced and subcontracted out the goods and services anyway, spreading the money around. So with the splurging or squandering of taxpayers money on national day celebrations worth it or not, is an argue until cows come home mental masturbation deadend.  The more pertinent concern is if the money was spent in a fair and transparent manner, and if it stimulated local businesses besides the GLCs.