KONY 2012…THE BIGGEST SCAM IN 2012?

The video below, Kony 2012, has been doing the rounds on Facebook, G+ and Twitter today in an attempt to bring to the world’s attention the plight of child soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) in Uganda. Now the LRA is a despicable organisation that has been involved in some of the most sickening acts imaginable including slavery, abduction, rape and using children as soldiers and their leader Joseph Kony, from whom the film takes its name, is a piece of shit. There is no debate about this. The man is scum through and through.

This video, and the campaign that created it, is extremely disturbing. From watching the video ones immediate reaction is to share it and to try and ensure that something gets done, possibly by donating to the campaign or buying something from their line of t-shirts, badges and the like to further spread awareness of what is going on. A natural reaction when faced with such a horrible situation.

However when we look at the facts surrounding the film a rather unpleasant stink begins to fill the air. Something that smells a lot like the white man’s burden and possibly cynical opportunism.

The campaign calls for military intervention in Uganda to capture Kony and bring him to justice, something he most certainly deserves. However the film and campaign are rather liberal with the truth. Kony and the LRA have been pretty much smashed and have been inactive in Uganda since 2006 and there is now a peace process in place. A process that stammers and stalls, but that is what they always do.

Of the money that gets made by Invisible Children only 31% goes on their charity work and the rest on film making, though the charity has never been audited so we assume. But this 31% of your money, that you either directly give to them or help them raise through sharing their video, goes on things like funding Uganda’s military and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both forces have been associated with despicable acts such as using rape as a weapon of war.

Photograph of the founders of Invisible Children posing with members of the SPLA.

 

Do you really want to fund this? If so then share the video to your hearts content and be glad when the violence continues and more children die. Seriously, how do you expect to take military action, which Invisible Children support, against a person who uses children as soldiers without killing children? What do you think will happen when military action is taken? Do you not think that there will be more reprisals and bloodshed?

All the while that you are sharing this video, changing your Facebook status or photograph and tweeting about this far and wide you are promoting a wrong headed initiative that supports a most brutal regime, one that tortures prisoners and has sought to condemn homosexuals to death for simply loving people of the same sex, which can only make matters worse in the region. We need to support people when they seek to better their living conditions, when they seek to put an end to murderous scum like Joseph Kony and Yoweri Museveni. What we must not do is support, probably well meaning, rich Westerners flying around the world trying to solve the problems of poor old Africa.

Some more on the story and on Invisible Children can be found at the following blogs.

http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com.nyud.net/

http://www.wrongingrights.com/2009/03/worst-idea-ever.html

http://ilto.wordpress.com/2006/11/02/the-visible-problem-with-invisible-children/

The last one there, ilto, is a post from 2006 showing that this criticism of Invisible Children has been around as long as they have.

Please, if you want to do something to help the people who suffer in Uganda, and anywhere else in the world for that matter, educate yourself on the situation there in ways that go beyond Youtube videos and listening to a bunch of rich white people. Try reading the local news, reading blogs from the area if any are available. Hell even start with the Wikipedia entry or reading the New Internationalist world guide. Don’t allow emotive and snazzily made videos play on your basic humanity. Read, read and then read some more before you go making a mistake and supporting an initiative that could just make things so much worse.

If you think what i said makes any sense at all, please share it with your friends and family.

NUS group “Campus Crusade for Christ” insults Thai Buddhists and Turkey Muslims

[GPGT] NUS group “Campus Crusade for Christ” insults Thai Buddhists and Turkey

 

This is just gross. Now, I’m not going to go the standard route about how they go around being elite and all that. But this, is a step too far. They crossed a line here. They deserve all the flak that they are getting.

Now, I am a free thinker. I respect the Christians if they have beliefs that I don’t believe in. That is their right. But, they jolly well do not step on the beliefs of others. That is crossing the line. And that, is one step too far.

Speak up
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

That is the very reason why I’m doing this. We have to stand up for what is wrong now, even if it does not affect us. We cannot simply ignore it. This, is fundamentalist religious bigotry at it’s worst. We are in the 21st century, there is NO space for such bigotry anymore.

We have to stand up for what is right. Speak out against the wrong. Use reason. Outreason them. Do not sink to their level.

Do what is right.
BELOW ARE PHOTOS AND DETAILS OF THE DISGUSTING POSTERS

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot…81250121_n.jpg

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

a poster that is found outside LT15 at nus kent ridge campus

“6. North-East Thailand Campus

Dates: 1 – 21 June
Cost: $2,000

With its many temples and monks, it is hard to ignore the fact that Buddhism is Thailand’s national religion. With only 1.6% Christians, most Thai students see Christianity only as a foreign religion. The land of smiles needs to hear the gospel message! Come and share with Khonkaen university students that Jesus is the Way, the True and the Life!”

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

“3. Turkey Campus

Dates: 10 June – 8 July
Cost: $2,800
*Interviews & referrals required

In a country where much of the population is M, much prayer and work is needed in this place. As our first team to be sent to this place, you will be reaching an unreached people group. This is a pioneer work where you will get to help start movement on their campuses! Come & be a part of this team and trust God for greater things!”

who are you calling “M”?

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

nus campus crusade, dont try to change your website or correct it. all offensive evidence is now in screenshot.

NUS should ban this group from travelling abroad and making trouble. The school should take a strong stance against such offensive proselytizing that only serve to tarnish the sch image and Singapore’s reputation.

Place to complain for all unhappy people:

The NUS Provost Contemplates

NUS – Professor TAN Eng Chye

Professor TAN Eng Chye
Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost
Tel: 6516 6688 Email: pvotanec@nus.edu.sg

NUS – Management

Singapore Police Force / ePC – ePCLinks

My Valentine’s day message to all couples out there!

Married or not you should read this…

“When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed -dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.— At least, in the eyes of our son—- I’m a loving husband….

The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.

So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

If you don’t share this, nothing will happen to you.

If you do, you just might save a marriage. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up

Assault case by Ang Moh Expats – police conducting internal inquiry

New Paper, 15 Feb 2012
Article by The Public House

 

“We will work closely with Interpol to locate the two of them and bring them to justice,” the police told The New Paper on 15 February. The police was referring to New Zealander Robert Stephen Dahlberg and Briton Robert James Springall, both of whom fled Singapore last year, after having been involved in an assault case in 2010. (See story here and here.)

Two of the victims of the assault, Paul Liew and Laurence Wong, had spoken up about the way the police have handled the case and raised questions about the length of time it has taken to bring the assailants, including Australian Nathan Robert Miller,  to justice. Miller has since been sentenced to 3 weeks jail and is currently serving his sentence.

The police told the New Paper:

“We acknowledge that the case took a significant amount of time to be completed and are conducting an internal inquiry to establish the full facts of how the case was handled. If there have been any lapses, or any officers are found to have been professionally lacking or negligent in carrying out their duties, disciplinary action will be taken against them.”

Dahlberg was granted permission to leave Singapore for London and Hong Kong from 11 to 29 July last year. His bail was set at S$25,000. Dahlberg absconded while he was away on the trips.

Springall had applied to leave Singapore for the United States in August last year. The courts granted his request and his bail was doubled from S$6,000. He left Singapore from 25 August to 5 September last year. He returned to Singapore on 5 September and was supposed to surrender his passport to the authorities, but he failed to do so.

In December, he flew out of Singapore again and absconded.

Warrant of arrests have been issued for both men.

Mr Wong said, “With this news from the police, I am satisfied. I am very surprised that the police force will admit their mistakes. I am glad that they will set an inquiry board. The act and the thought that they want to make things right and to make sure that the officers who didn’t do their jobs are punished, it shows accountability on the police’s part.”

Mr Liew told TNP, “Now, at least, something is being done to bring back those two men.”

Still, Mr Wong is disappointed with how the entire case was handled, especially the fact that 2 of the assailants had been able to flee the country. “If this is the police force and they cannot even hold on to 2 people out of 3,” Mr Wong says, “it is not rocket science that a glitch has happened somewhere. I believe it is a case of mismanagement. Somebody who’s responsible is not doing his job.”

While he is appreciative that the police are taking the necessary action with regards to both the capture of the 2 men and addressing its internal failings, Mr Wong hopes that the police will inform him and the other victims of the assault through an official notification.

“From my experience with the police, they have yet to inform me that this is what they want to do,” Mr Liew says. “It’s still their responsibility to officially inform me and all the victims collectively. I am still waiting for the police to give me an official notification. I cannot rely on the news.”

Nonetheless, his search for justice continues and he says he is willing to wait however long it takes for justice to be served on the assailants.

“If the police need to take another 3 or 5 or 10 years, do it. It doesn’t matter. I hope they do not slacken and make the mistake again.”

While they are glad the police is taking the matter seriously now, there remains questions which need to be answered. For example, how did Springall manage to flee while out on bail? “The police should have taken his passport the moment he returned to Singapore,” Mr Liew says. “And how did he manage to board a plane and leave? These are questions which need to be answered.”

Should Vui Kong be given a second chance?

Vui Kong’s Journey

Yong Vui Kong’s Journey
An account of Yong Vui Kong’s life
Vui Fung, Vui Kong, Ah Lun, Yun Leong with their mother
Yong Vui Kong, born to a family of 6, went through a turbulent childhood when his parents divorced while he was very young. As a result his mother had to raise the kids singlehandedly.
Being a dishwasher she brought home RM$200 a month, and the family had to scrap by at the most basic sustenance level.
Eventually this paved the way for Vui Kong’s departure from their hometown of Sabah, East Malaysia to the big city of Kuala Lumpur.
 Vui Kong with brothers during happier days
In 2002, Vui Kong the country boy left Sabah for KL, bringing nothing but him and the desire to make it big.
A young and rebellious Vui Kong
He was described by his family as “rebellious”, often mixing with bad company and getting into trouble. Yet, Vui Kong would be the apple in his mother’s eyes. He treated his siblings well, especially Vui Fung who would often relate how much Vui Kong doted on her, even though he would sometimes throw his temper at home when things were not going well for him.
Vui Fung (Fung Fung) with Vui Kong
But all these was not meant to last.
Vui Kong worked as a kitchen hand in KL, but was later introduced to a gang, whose boss showered him with 5 star hotel stays and treated him to meals he could never be able to afford.
Vui Kong mixed with the wrong company, which eventually sealed his fate
Eventually Vui Kong went from debt collecting to “delivering gifts”. These gifts turned out to be drugs. At that young and impressionable age, Vui Kong had no idea that the penalty for trafficking of drug was mandatory death.
The “gifts” that Vui Kong delivered to Singapore
At 18, Yong Vui Kong was conscripted for National Service. He would later return to KL back to the same boss who provided him with work and lead him on to be a drug runner.
Vui Kong would later shuttle back and forth Singapore and Malaysia several times until he was caught in June 2007 with possession of 47g of heroin. Yong was 18 and a half years old at the time of arrest. Singapore drug laws stipulate mandatory death for 18 years and above. Vui Kong faced certain death the moment he was caught by narcotics officers.
Vui Kong, represented by state-assigned counsel Kelvin Lim, was trialed in Singapore High Court.
Justice Choo Han Teck found Vui Kong too young to be dealt with the mandatory death sentence
Before passing the judgement, trial judge Justice Choo Han Teck summoned both the defence and presecution into chamber and asked the prosecution if they would consider reducing the charge given the relatively young age of the drug offender, who was not even 19 at the age of the offence. The prosecution declined and the death sentence was handed to Vui Kong.
Yong’s then defence counsel, following the common practice for almost all capital cases for drug trafficking, was preparing to take the case to the Court of Appeal.
Kelvin Lim, under specific instruction from his client, withdrew the Appeal.
Changi Prison customary photo taking session before execution
At this point in time, Vui Kong’s sister, Fung Fung, had already bought a shirt and pants for her brother. It is customary for prisoners on death row to don on their best in a bizzare and morbid prison practice – photos of the prisoner in various poses will be shot and the pictures will be sent to the convict’s family after the execution.
“I don’t want to lie to save myself.”
 
Vui Kong instructed his lawyer to withdraw the appeal


Why did Vui Kong withdraw the appeal?
Apparently, he was under the impression that a High Court Appeal could only work if there are new evidence to prove that he was innocent of the charge, and he thought that the only way out was to lie to be able to save himself.
After taking up Buddhism as his religion while in prison, Vui Kong did not want to lie which was a sin according to Buddhist beliefs, he therefore instructed his counsel to withdraw the Appeal.
Vui Kong did not know that he involuntarily extended his stay in this world by withdrawing his own High Court Appeal, the only legal lifeline available to him.
Because of this withdrawal, the high Court hastened the execution process and ordered Yong to be executed on 4th December 2009.
M. Ravi intervenes
M. Ravi holding a picture of a Buddha like figure drawn by Yong while in prison
Singapore human rights lawyer Madasamy Ravi got wind of Yong’s case. He promptly took over the case from Yong’s counsel Kelvin Lim after a court hearing.
Ravi submitted a clemency appeal to the Singapore President, but on 20th November, it was rejected by the Istana.
Yong was granted a rare last minute stay of execution
Two days before Yong’s scheduled execution, Ravi made an application for a stay of execution for Vui Kong pending a High Court hearing for an appeal. The Court of Appeal had previously not heard Vui Kong’s case as his defence lawyer had withdrawn it.
Vui Kong broke down in court when he heard his execution on Friday was stayed
 The judge decided that he was not in the position to make the decision for the Court of Appeal, granted the stay of execution for Vui Kong. Vui Kong, who was present in court, broke down and cried when he heard the news.
Vui Kong Finally meet his mother after two years of incarceration
A day after the court’s decision, Yong met his mother, who came to Singapore accompanied by his siblings. Upon seeing his mother, Yong knelt and bowed to her three times in a show of respect.
Vui Kong’s mother still does not know that her son had been sentenced to death.


For fear that she may commit suicide due to suffering from chronic depression, Vui Kong’s family had kept his fate away from her. The only idea she has of why her son is in jail is that “he had committed a very serious matter and that he will be gone for a very long time in order to atone for his sins and will not return unless he has attained self fulfillment”.
On 8th December, Vui Kong received a 2nd stay of execution, this time from the Court of Appeal. The stay of execution was in effect until the Appeal was presented and debated in court. The court gave the defence much needed time to prepare the case, and activists more time to campaign for it.
Yong outlived his original death sentence for a full 4 months. This was something he never saw coming on the eve of his execution.
Campaigns to save Vui Kong









Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign flyer


Ravi, in the months after the court’s decision to grant the stay of execution, set off to do his research, pro bono. He engaged the help of Queen’s counsels in London, dug up the various developments in other Commonwealth countries on the mandatory death penalty and at the end compiled an appeal submission 5 volumes thick.
London team of lawyers who provided valuable research and help: Parvais Jabbar, Edward Fitzgerald QC, M. Ravi and Saul Lehrfreund
On 15th March the high Court convened for Vui Kong’s appeal. After both sides presented their cases and arguments, the judges praised M. Ravi for the effort he had put into his submission and thanked him for providing the court with an update on current international practices with regards to the death penalty. They decided to reserve judgement on the hearing until further notice. (credits to TOC)
“The court acknowledge that the mandatory death sentence is considered a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment,” – Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong
On 14th May, the Court of Appeal duly rejected the appeal. But it acknowledged that the mandatory death sentence is considered a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment.
In June, Vui Kong’s counsel M. Ravi made a trip down to KL in an attempt to rally the Malaysians together over the case.
There was a buzz initially when the Malaysian online media carried Vui Kong’s story, but it fizzled out after a week or two.
Umi Azlim, the Malaysian girl sentenced to death for drug trafficking
In 2007, Umi Azlim was sentenced to death in China. Curiously, she had a sentence commuted to life imprisonment after the Malaysian government appeal to the Chinese government citing compassionate grounds.
Vui Kong received no such attention from the Malaysian government.
No Political Mileage
“Probably because he presents no political mileage. He is first of all a (Malaysian) Chinese, and a Sabahan.”
But the Malaysian media had their ways. many online media outlets, especially MalaysiaKini, ran a media blitz over Vui Kong’s case and nudge the Malaysian government to do something to help the boy who was facing the gallows overseas.
Ravi with MP Tian Chua and Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman (Photo: TOC)
But all was not lost. On 3rd July it was announced that PKR’s MP Tian Chua would table a debate on Vui Kong’s case in Parliament the following Monday. It was rejected by the Speaker of Parliament, but a press conference was held and Malaysia’s Foreign Minister was present.
 “After all, I am a Sabahan too” – Malaysia’s FM Anifah Aman pledged to assist in Yong’s case
He told Ravi and the Malaysian press, “All things aside, if I save one life it will give me great satisfaction. After all, I am a Sabahan too”, referring to the Malaysian state where Yong comes from. (Credit: TOC)
After his statement, almost all media outlets in Malaysia carried the news.
Malaysian activists promptly got to work to set up a site, 2ndChance4Yong, to campaign for Vui Kong.
For the first time, Yong did not just have to rely on Singapore, he had the support of the people from his country as well.

 Give Life 2nd Chance
The campaign for Vui Kong, Give Life 2nd Chance, was launched and the petition gathered over 3000 signatures in a few days. The campaign also rallied Malaysian Parliamentarians together to show support for a President clemency to spare Yong’s life based on compassionate ground.
Ngeow Chow Ying, Syed Husin and Tunku Abdul Aziz

Malaysians brought it a step further. On 21 July, Malaysian lawyer and campaign coordinator Ngeow Chow Ying, together with Dewan Negara senators, came together for a press conference to plea for clemency for Vui Kong and rally Malaysians’ support.

She said, “We understand Singapore, like Malaysia, has a strict policy against drug trafficking which carries a mandatory death penalty. However, given that the constitution allows clemency plea for persons sentenced to death means that no sentence of capital punishment is by default excluded from reconsideration for a second chance.”

Soon after, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman wrote to Singapore President S.R. Nathan, requesting clemency on compassionate grounds. The President did not reply to the letter.
Give Vui Kong a Second Chance
Increasingly, Singaporeans were getting aware that judicial hangings for drug trafficking were done in the name of the people. On Aug 2, more than 150 people turned up at Speakers’ Corner to support the petition for clemency for Yong Vui Kong.
The family had to walk to the back of the Istana to submit the clemency petition 

The Save Vui Kong campaign saw more than 109 346 signatures collected over the span of more than a month. These signatures together with a formal clemency petition, were submitted to the President at the Istana on 24 Aug 2010.
 The family, together with Sabah Member of Parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui, faced curt security officers who merely took the piles of signatures and repeatedly told them to leave. Deflated, disappointed and anxious, the family walked back in tears.
Protest outside S’pore High Commission
Yong’s original deadline for filing his Petition for Clemency to the President was 26 August. It was feared that he would be hanged soon after that deadline. In the face of imminent execution of Vui Kong, Malaysian lawyers and parliamentarians rallied together and protested outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on 26 August.

Another stay of execution for Vui Kong, left
The Singapore Prisons Department in a letter dated 25 Aug 2010 replied Yong’s lawyer M. Ravi that he would be granted an extension to file his clemency appeal to the President. The confirmation of extension comes as a relief to Mr Ravi who had repeatedly asked the SPS for the confirmation since 18 August.
What was Vui Kong doing all these while? 

Vui Kong, remorseful but hopeful to live and contribute to society

Meanwhile, Vui Kong had been brushing up on his English. In his possession is a Chinese-English dictionary and some Buddhist texts. He tries his best to learn English, a new language to him, for the purpose of communicating with his lawyer.
Periodically he pen letters to his family and friends, sharing religious teachings, gratitude and encouragement. He wakes up early every morning to meditate.

When the court granted him a stay of execution last December, one of the first people to pay Vui Kong a visit was his lawyer, M. Ravi. During the meeting, Vui Kong presented him a gift – a picture that had taken him weeks to complete. He would kneel for hours as he drew. The picture is a colourful interpretation of one of the manifestations of Lord Buddha, standing at the gates of hell, saving souls from eternal damnation.

“He is remorseful and feels he should be severely punished,” his brother Yun Leong explained, “but he wants to live so he can continue seeing us, seeing our mother again. He wants to keep learning and meditating and being a better person.”

Writing a letter from prison to thank the over 100,000 individuals who signed the clemency petition, Vui Kong also mentioned that his greatest wish would be to join the anti-drug campaign and guide other young people on the edge to return to the right path.

“If the presidential clemency is granted, what I would like to do the most is to tell the world about the dangers of drugs and how sinful drugs are.” Yong said.

 

To be continued…

No student freedom at NUS: former student

A foreign student who studied for two terms in the National University of Singapore says that academic freedom in the school is restricted.

By Chua Yini and Melissa Aw

Is there a lack of academic freedom in the National University of Singapore? An exchange student who studied at the university for two terms certainly thinks so.In an article posted on Yale Daily News on Thursday, Walker Vincoli, who completed his second semester through a joint program between University of North Carolina and NUS last year, pointed out that the latter is not a “free university” as the students are ruled by self-censorship.

Vincoli commented that the study conducted by Yale University on academic freedom in Singapore was too narrowly focused on the faculty and neglected the student academic culture at NUS.

For Vincoli, the “litmus test for academic freedom” is the ability of students and faculty to be involved in the politics of their own country.

Describing students and teachers here as “self-policing subjects”, he recounted his experience in a political science class where the professor told students to “lower your criticism of the PAP” and “reduce your coverage of opposition parties”.

“Students change arguments, button their lips and absorb opinions from on high. Singapore is not a free country and NUS is not a free university,” Vincoli wrote.

He attributed the phenomenon to the government, saying that it “has succeeded in making self-censorship routine and integrating it into the state-owned media, the state-controlled university and the minds of its citizens”.
While Vincoli’s outspoken views have sparked major debate, classmates of Vincoli Yahoo! Singapore spoke to disagreed with him.

“From experience… there’s no discernible restriction on the state of academic freedom in NUS. In fact, quite the contrary, the professors that I have had the privilege of learning under have encouraged us to form opinions without fear,” said Alvin Tan, a final-year political science student from NUS.

“Honestly speaking… the professors are very professional. They do not use any form of political affiliation or whatsoever,” Tan said in response to Vincoli’s allegations that NUS professors encourage students to tone down on subversive political comments in class.

Vincoli is an opinionated student with strong ideas and his comments may be part of his own personal opinion and are “hardly credible”, the local student said.

Benedict Chen, a final-year political science student from NUS echoed Tan’s views. “There is robust debate over domestic politics and no self-censorship in our academic work,” he said.

When asked whether NUS professors were as pro-PAP as Vincoli had described, the 24-year-old said that the professors are not restrictive of opposition views nor are they pro-PAP as they encourage a “balanced critical discussion”.

Comments posted on Vincoli’s article were mostly negative, although one user, ‘schnickelfritz’ thanked Vincoli as his article created discussion amongst Singaporeans “who have been through the system and have a slightly more nuanced perspective from others who are criticizing it from the outside.”

Meanwhile, user ‘alvinty’ said that Vincoli’s comments are a “gross misrepresentation of how Singapore is like in reality” and that the foreign student had abstracted his negative experiences of Singapore’s education system to “fit his pre-conceived conception of what he thinks Singapore is like”.

A Facebook thread to discuss Vincoli’s article has also been created by NUS political science students who are in their honours year.

UPDATE: Responding to comments from his fellow classmates, Vincoli wrote on the Facebook thread: “I’ve enjoyed reading the feedback, ethnic slurs on Yahoo and accusations of dishonesty aside. It’s good that the column has generated discussion. That said, Ben [Benedict Chen], please don’t take it personally that I’m not responding to comments or engaging in the debate myself.”