10 January 2009

Engaging The Government Online

Previously, ape pointed a few ways to engage the authority and mentioned about bloggers' response to AIMS consultation paper. If you want to know more about what AIMS has been doing, read here, I'm not sure if this is the official website though.

The Government held a press conference to conclude AIMS report. The full report can be found on AIMS website. Or you can be like the ape, read someone else's summary. Ape is too lazy to repeat what is said or written.

However, ape just want to give a bit of his peanuts on one particular area - Reach. Reach is the official Government feedback unit. Ape has been there some time ago but not very active there. Topics were quite boring actually and comments posted by netizens were hardly "thought provoking". Read a lot of "I agree" or "disagree" without further elaboration. Not too sure how are things getting on there...

Anyway, the Minister for Infomation, Communincations and the Arts, said they'll expand the role of Reach and Reach will still remain "as its authoritative online source to engage Netizens [... as opposed to...] wandering the whole of the Internet just to debunk every single misleading or wrong posting" (Today, 10 Jan 09, words in brackets by ape).

Some may see it as Government limiting it's engagements with the online community but ape feels it's purely for practical reasons.

Who To Engage?
First, which online community or blog, should Government engage? Even if we zoom down to social political blogs, which one? Perhaps there's only a handful of good social political blogs now but what happens when there's more?

"Eh, why gahmen respond to The Online Citizen but not my blog, Talk Only Cock, har? Same same what! they TOC, I orso TOC leh?"

Who's This?
Besides that, if, for example, ape decides to talk about social-political issues only and one fine day, some one allegely from the Government decides to engage in discussions here. Ape will think - "Are you really who you are?" and so ape check with the respective ministry to confirmation and everytime this person post then everytime ape need to check... because ape can't really know if this person is still the same person who last posted. Ape no time to count peanuts!

And what if readers of ape read here that ape is discussing with someone from the Governement, won't the readers think "Is this reeeaaaaal?!?! Or is this ape trying to impress and boost his readership to earn advertisement?" and so they'll check with the Government... one reader one letter, 10 readers 10 letters? Government no time to count peanuts... oops, Government not like ape, they don't count peanuts.

And if say, supposing someone uses the inital LKY and claims that he is a civil servant and gave his comments here, do I really want to enquire from the ministries if this "LKY" is really from the civil service? And is he or perhaps she writing in personal capacity or as "Government"?

So, ape still think it is better to go to Reach if one wants to seek Governments engagement. At least netizens (readers and posters) know respond is from Government and Government need not appear to be bias by visiting some online forum but not the others. Win-win?

08 January 2009

New Name?

Ape must be suffering from identity crisis.

In my previous post, ape wasn't quite certain about where he is going with this blog but at least ape decided to change his name now and simply call himself... Ape... until identity crisis resurface :p

Previously, the name khirsah was used but seemed to cause quite a bit of confusion. (and more letters to type) "Khirsah" is unique but not original. It's actually the name of a dragon taken from a fantasy story book series called Dragonlance. Not many people are familiar with this name and some thought that I'm an Indian, perhaps of it's similiarity to Krishna. I'm not an Indian and I have nothing against Indians. I'm just an ape.

Some of those who know me through CNA forum called me M. K or Master K... nope, I'm not a Master in Karate or master in anything. It's just that I started my story telling there and one of them relate me to the late Master Lee Dai Sor, a well known Redifussion story teller. A shoe too big to fill.

Finally, ape decided to settle for Ape because Ape is simple. Ape loves peanuts, go Ooh ooh and Ape is simply ape.

P/S Ooh, ooh, Ape still dream of retiring by setting up a simple stall by the Singapore River and tell stories to entertain interested listeners and you only need to pay him peanuts.

07 January 2009

Engaging The Authority

Once again, we hear the all too often "respect the authority"... probably more often in the year 2008 when we have a number of cases where the Singapore Court was challenged or questioned in several cases.

During the opening of the legal year 2009 in Singapore's Supreme Court, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong reiterate that the courts requires its authority to be respected by all (read this).

I do agree with CJ Chan. For the court or any authority to carry out their duty effectively, a certain form of respect must be accorded. Hurling insults, making false and scandalous allegations certainly impedes the authority. However, I must add that respect should not only come from the people, respect must come from the law enforcers, the authority themselves, i.e. all, everyone. Those holding public office should also respect the authority accorded to them and not abuse their powers. The people have to respect the authority and not make false or scandalous allegations.

What if we don't agree with certain laws? What if we don't agree with how the authority applies the law? Can't we voice it out? Sure we can... but how? Protest? Even if it's peaceful?

Attorney General Prof Walter Woon also spoke about the need to protect the integrity of the judicial system.

"He said that while freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed in the Constitution, the line is crossed 'where a person deliberately attempts to undermine the authority of the courts by casting aspersions on the integrity of the judges in order to further a political or ideological agenda'[...]'I can only conclude they were testing our resolve and probing to see how far we could be intimidated by their tactics,'" (Straits Times, 4 Jan 2009)

said Prof Woon with reference to a group of activists at the Attorney-General's Chambers the demanding the return of items seized by police investigating certain offences, with threats of sit-ins and protests.

Why is it so important to protect the integrity of the judicial system?

If the authority is seen to be intimdated, they'll loose all credibility. Common people like this ape will simply think "Ah? Like that also can ah? So next time I buay song (not satisfied) I can also kow peh cow bu la (rant or protest publicly)!"

You see, the point is, not everyone understands the cause(s) taken by activists. Even less people will know the true intent of such "activists". (Note: I use activists broadly to include politicians or anyone who go into the streets and kow peh kow bu as well as those who don't kow peh kow bu). Sadly, what some people will see is that a group of people not happy and they make a lot of noise and the authority give in to their demand, and therefore, conclude that if you want your demands met, make a lot of noise?

So how should we engage the authority if we cannot make our opinion heard through protest? If there's something I felt strongly about, a change in certain policy or law that I feel that is absolutely necessary, what can I do?

Law Minister K.Shanmugam mentioned one... a difficult one where not all can meet.

"The way to change the law was to get elected politically and argue in Parliament why the law should be changed" (Straits Times, 4 Jan 2009).

However, that is not the only way. You can go for Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP). Even if you can't be an NMP, you can talk to your MP during Meet the People Session and request your MP to raise it in Parliament. Or you can approach one of the NMP to raise it, like what some did when they petition to repeal Section 377A through NMP Siew Kum Hong. Sometimes, you may not need to raise your concerns in parliament through a proxy for matters on a smaller scale. You can write to the authority concerned, privately, seek their views and perhaps publish in your blog if you want to for sharing with fellow citizens. Someone like Dharmendra Yadav in Think Happiness. You can also present your feedback through Reach, the official Government's online portal for feedback. Last but not least is to organise yourselves to submit your proposal in response to public consultation papers like what 13 bloggers did in response to the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS).

The above examples are some of the proper channels to engage the authority. They are non-aggressive measures that we can do. Look at it this way, what is our objective? To achieve a certain intentionally good outcome, right? Would you go bang table and demand change, in the process making those in-charge loose face put up defences immediately? Or would you be consultative and engaged the decision makers politely and amicably to seek an ideal resolution?

To close this off, I politely request that you watch Anna and the King (starring Jodie Foster as Anna Leonowens and Chow Yun-Fatt as Siam King Mongkut). In a particular scene, where Tuptim (King's concubine?) was sentenced to death, Anna cried babaric! outrageous! "I will speak to the King!" publicly in the court. What she did was effectively sealing Tuptim's doom. The King, who had the authority to pardon a death-roll convict, was no longer able to do so because his subjects would think that he was led by the nose by a woman... and a foreign one. The King would loose the faith and credibility to lead his country... even though he was a wise monarch and he too, need to respect the law of the country.

06 January 2009

New Year, New Look, New Erm...Uncertainties

It's 6 days into the year 2009. Ape kinda late in posting this but better late than never. Did I mentioned there's a new look in this blog? Oh, I did... getting forgetful these days :p

There'll be a lot of uncertainties this year - uncertain about the job security, property value, investment, general election, breakfast/lunch/dinner etc. Ape is, too... every year, in fact. In addition to these, ape wonders what he should do with this blog.

Ape is uncertain where he is heading here. Previously, ape mentioned the intent to start this blog was to rave about my misery. But when ape actually do get started, happier oreadi, so started talking cock ape stories instead. Then ape considered going into something more serious and finally decided to talk about growing up and avoid social-political matters... but never really got into doing so because social-political matters got very interesting... especially in year 2008. Yet, the ape a bit kiasi (ape still is but sometimes cannot tahan and start ranting).

So... there's no evolution, no changes. Ape will still be as is... turn wild occassionally and behave most of the time and silly all the time. In other words, ape will continue to talk ape and cover any topics that comes to mind.

02 January 2009

Happy New Year

This new year greetings come a bit late but then again, tis ape don't really have a good sense of time. The blogskin has been changed... just a little to maximise the screen space. Hope you like it.

Wish everyone a Happy New Year!