Friday, June 30, 2006

One Country Two Systems

The Michael McCrae case was big news today, appearing on the front page of the Straits Times. However, it was the less prominent page 6 TODAY report that caught my attention; in particular, the headline; Orchard Towers murderer jailed for 24 years. Anyone who is not familiar with the history of this case would find this headline puzzling. Why? Because Singapore is one of those 'backward' countries that still enforces the 'barbaric' death penalty. So if Michael McCrae was guilty of murder, he should have been sentenced to hang. If he received a jail sentence, then it is wrong for TODAY to label him a murderer. In fact McCrae was not even charged with the crime of murder in the first place, so of course it is wrong to call him a murderer.

Actually, I have blogged briefly about this case before. After committing his crime, this guy escaped to Britain and then to Australia where he confessed to the crime. Because the Australians do not believe in the death penalty, they refused to extradite him to Singapore. In the end, we had to give the Australians an assurance that he would not be executed even if he was found guilty, before they would release him to Singapore. As the learned ex-DPP, Mr Wang says; "Duh. Well, of course if the Singapore government had promised not to execute McCrea, then the prosecution would have brought lesser charges. You wouldn't proceed on murder, if you had already told the Australian government that McCrea wouldn't be hanged, right?"

Actually, the headline of the Straits Times article was also quite puzzling. "Briton receives stiff 24 years for killing two." Compared to the death penalty that Nguyen Tuong Van received for trafficking (how many) grams/kilograms of heroin, 24 years for killing two is a bargain. The article went into some detail to describe McCrae's surprise at receiving such a heavy sentence. Frankly, if the same 'murderer' was a Singaporean, I am pretty sure he would have received the death sentence. So McCrae should be happy he only got 24 years. If I were the government, I would try him for murder; and if found guilty, sentence him to hang; and then advice the President to commute it to life sentence, making it clear that this was only to because we want to honour a promise made to the Australians, a promise which shouldn't have been made in the first place.

I also find Mr Wang's conclusion quite puzzling. He says; "Anyway, I think that this was a good result, all things considered. If the Singapore government had not entered into those arrangements with the Australian government, McCrea would never have been brought here and convicted at all."

A young man is executed for trafficking drugs; but this man kills two people and only goes to jail for 24 years is a good result. Our country refusing to give way to the Australians demands not to hang Tuong because 'we are a sovereign country', but compromises in this case is a good result. That future murderers will know how to beat our system is a good result.


I think it is a disgraceful result.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Words of Wisdom from a Rich Man

"But I would argue that when your kids have all the advantages anyway in terms of how they grow up and the opportunities they have for education ..... I would say its's neither right nor rational to be flooding them with money."

- Warren Buffett, the world's 2nd richest man, who donated US$31 billion of his personal fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Explaining why he had picked his friend, Bill Gates, who is 25 years his junior, as his vehicle for charity, he said:

"What can be more logical, in whatever you want done, than finding someone better equipped than you are, to do it."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Politicians Say the Darndest Things

I don’t quite agree with blogger Lam Chun See who said that children say the darndest things. I say politicians say the darndest things; especially Malaysian politicians.

Do you remember the famous ‘We will shoot them’ threat uttered by one Malaysian politician (or official) during the time when many Vietnamese boat people tried to land their boats in the east coast of Malaysia. This was in the 70’s. Unfortunately, blogging hadn’t been invented then, and so I did not take note of his exact words. Anyway, the following day, the Malaysian government clarified that what he meant to say was, “We will shoo them away.”

How about the classic “Bangladeshi men are good lovers” remark made by the bubbly trade minister Rafidah in parliament a few years ago? I believe she was trying to figure out why many Malaysian families broke up because local ladies have fallen for Bangladeshi men.

As if not to be outdone, the opposition Islamic party PAS member of parliament said recently, also in parliament, that “single mothers were “gatal” or horny. - Straits Times, 27/04/2006

Finally, of course, there is my favourite Malaysian politician: the anti-Singapore (“There are many ways to skin a cat”), anti-Semitic (“Jews rule the world by proxy”) Dr Mahathir Mohammed. Just when I thought I have run out Mahathir gems to share with you, the feisty ex-prime minister comes to my rescue with a torrent of classics during his latest quarrel with his successor, Abdullah Badawi.

"We made the mistake of giving Singapore to the British. You want to give some more?" – Straits Times, 9/04/2006

“I think this is a half-past-six country with no guts.” – TODAY, 03/05/2006


“Treat your opponents like insects. Knock them down and crush them with your feet.” – Mahathir’s advice to Malaysian Thomas Cup Badminton Team; as quoted by Tawfik bin Tun Dr Ismail on 24/06/2006

“But with Singapore, you cannot smile or negotiate. For 22 years, I have tried, but trying to be friendly with Singapore, it is not possible. They won’t be friendly with us, they think of themselves only. … They are calculative, even one cent they count.” 24 June 2006

But on a more serious note, Singaporeans may just have to agree with the learned doctor’s last observation about our unfriendliness.
In the latest survey on courtesy carried out by the Reader's Digest, Singapore was ranked 30 out of 35 cities surveyed. As if not convinced, the Straits Times had to go a do its own survey only to come up with something I have already said long ago; we are a rude people.

If it is any consolation, we are still slightly better than Dr Mahathir’s countrymen in the Malaysian capital, who scored a miserable 33. But if you were to ask him, his likely reply would be; “We are generally courteous; except when it comes to dealing with Singaporeans.”


But not to worry. Our ever-efficient government is going to do something about it. I heard they want to collect 4 million smiles to welcome visitors to Singapore. In fact, last week I was asked to contribute one.

I say we should extend a warm invitation to Dr Mahathir to come and visit us. He said last week that he has not visited Singapore since retiring. Perhaps he is afraid that we will bear a grudge against him for his frequent swipes at us. I think his fears are unnecessary. After all, Singaporeans know that he loves us. We remember, even if he doesn’t, his remarks of a few years ago:

“Come over, we welcome them and love them . …. We love you. On Valentine's Day, we love you. Please come. Please come. I am just jesting. When you meet Singaporeans, tell them: Don't take the Malaysian PM seriously. He likes to talk like that. He doesn't mean it, he has a good heart.”


PS - Thanks to Mr Miyagi for another Mahathir gem here - Mari kita bomb dia!

Monday, June 19, 2006

My Views of the CNA Documentary, War On Science


INTRODUCTION

The Sunday before last, I saw the documentary, War on Science on Channel News Asia. From what was promised in the many trailers that they showed, I was expecting a balanced presentation of the two opposing theories of origins, Evolution and Intelligent Design, leaving the viewer to make up his own mind. In fact, I thought the title was, War OF Science. How na├»ve of me. The documentary turned out to be an indictment of the Creationists’ proposal that there is ample scientific evidence to support the view point that life on this planet did not evolve from lifeless chemicals, but was created by a presumably superior being. I think the show should more aptly be titled, Intelligent Design: Religion Masquerading as Science.


IN A NUTSHELL

This is what the show says.

1) In 1859, Charles Darwin published the Theory of evolution to explain the origin of species. All reputable scientists today accept this as a fact of science.

2) The Theory of Evolution contradicts the account of creation as given in the Book of Genesis in the Bible, where God was supposed to have created all life on earth supernaturally in 6 literal days.

3) Fearing an abandonment of the Christian faith, Christian fundamentalists came up with a new theory to explain the origin of life called Intelligent Design. Through not entirely honorable means they tried to compel some schools in the US to teach this new ‘pseudo science’ alongside Evolution.

4) A United States federal court recently ruled that a public school district requirement for science classes to teach that Intelligent Design is an alternative to Evolution was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

5) Even the Catholic church accepted the Theory of Evolution, saying it did not contradict Catholic doctrine. The documentary even hinted that Creationists have manipulated one prominent Catholic bishop to publish an article in a reputable newspaper denouncing the Theory of Evolution.


MY THOUGHTS

1) To their credit, the producers did attempt to give an accurate explanation of Intelligent Design and its 2 supporting concepts Irreducible complexity and Specified complexity through interviews with prominent protagonists. Basically, I think the argument is that life is so complicated that it must be the work of an intelligent designer (aka God) rather than the result of evolution. Statistically, it was impossible for life to evolve.

2) The arguments put forward by one of the expert witnesses (Miller) to refute this was accepted by the court. But frankly, I was unable to follow his explanation. But that is my problem; I concede.

3) To be fair, I personally believe there is some truth in the accusation that Creationists are somewhat biased because they approach the issue with a pre-conceived assumption that “there is a God”. Thus, when they look at the facts, they are looking for evidence to support their assumption. I admit I am like that. I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Whilst it is not a book of science or history, what is recorded cannot be contradicted by science or history. Hence, when I read of scientific explanations which support this view, I feel vindicated.

4) Now I come to what I think is the biggest flaw of this documentary. It refuses to acknowledge that evolutionists are guilty of exactly the same bias. They claim to be non-religious, but yet they begin with the assumption that “There is no God”. David Attenborough said on the programme that Evolution is based on scientific observation and analysis. It can explain the majority of natural processes. Where it can’t, we should admit our ignorance and try to learn the truth, and not conveniently attribute it to an almighty God.

Well, I think the truth is closer to this. Evolution can explain only a small fraction of natural processes. In the majority of cases where it can’t, evolutionists simply bring out their magic wand called ‘millions of years’. Creationists say, "With God, nothing is impossible". Evolutionists say, "With Time, anything is possible".

For example, evolutionists say that man evolved from apes. Has anyone seen it? Can it be replicated? Of course not! Why? Because it takes millions of years. But it has to be, otherwise it would mean that there is a God. Isn’t that what you call ‘faith’?

By the way, where are all the ‘missing links’ between apes and men? Why should links be missing in the first place?

5) One final point. I think that part about the Catholic Church’s (and Pope John Paul in particular) acceptance of Evolution does not belong in a scientific debate of this nature. The Catholic Church’s views of this matter ought to be discussed in a religious/spiritual forum, which I shall do in my other blog.



Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Great Da Vinci Code Tragedy.

Someone called it The Great Da Vinci Code Distraction (Thanks to Noelbynature for the reference). I think it should be called The Great Da Vinci Code Tragedy.

I am referring of course to the countless number of blogs, articles, books and documentaries that have been spawned; some resurrected, by the success of Dan Brown’s book. I heard that there is even a Da Vinci diet – unbelievable!


Take the documentary The Last Supper for instant. I watched it over Channel News Asia last Saturday afternoon. Interestingly, there was a simultaneous telecast of another Da-Vinci-Code-spawned documentary called the Knights of the Templar (or something like that) on the National Geographic channel. These people spend so much time and energy going over every detail of the painting; who was sitting where, the position of his hands, which direction he was facing etc. etc. Why do they waste their time over such worthless trivia, contrived in the mind of a man who lived more that 1,400 years after the event? Why don’t they go and study the biblical account of the event instead and get the real message of the gospel? What a tragedy. It's like hearing the Tsunami warning, and instead to running for safety, they pause and marvel at the technical design of the warning system.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, ….., neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” – John 3: 19, 20.

Now, lets turn to another example, the Gospel According to Judas, a documentary released recently by National Geographic; to capitalize on the publicity of the Da Vinci Code no doubt. This book was written by a bunch of Gnostics at least 200 to 300 years after Christ, I repeat 200 to 300 years! Do you know how long that is? It’s like asking you to write about events before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles. Suddenly, so many 21st Century Singaporeans, who lapped up this rubbish, have become knowledgeable about events recorded in this book and yet know nothing about what is written in the true Word of God. Would you be surprised that the Bible actually contains warnings about this sort of writing? Let me cite just few relevant verses.

First, from the epistle of Paul to the Galatians, Chapter 1:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”



Second, from the last book in the Bible. In Chapter 22 of the book of Revelation, God spoke through the Apostle John;

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Talking about the book of Revelation, we have yet another distraction, the movie Omen, now showing in the cinemas. Anyway, no need to be surprised. These are all signs of the times. Go and read my other blog for details.

And talking about Channel News Asia documentaries, week after week, they have been showing documentaries based on evolutionary and long ages theories. Finally, they are going to show one that at least affords the opposing theory a hearing. I am referring to the War of Science, which will be shown tomorrow evening. I hope they don’t treat the issue the way Hollywood treated the Scopes Trial in the movie, Inherit The Wind (1960). More on that later.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Words of Wisdom From a Former Straight Fs Student

"There is an intrinsic reward in learning itself, and parents should assist their children in discovering it. One of the ways parents could do this is to not force their children pursue the adults' own aspirations. They should try and detect their children's natural flair or inclinations, and see how they best can support it."

Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, writing to TODAY's forum page, Friday, June 9, 2006


Now, for the difficult part - to get the wife to subscribe to this view as well.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Well Spoken

"We need to go beyond words."

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, speaking at the 5th Shangri-la Dialogue, Singapore, on June 4 2006.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Men Are Not Made For Safe Havens

Men Are Not Made For Safe Havens”.

I doubt many of you know who said these words. Perhaps I should give you some hints.

He was a popular US politician who was assassinated in June 1968 when he was only 43 years old. His killer was a Palestinian by the name of Sirhan B. Sirhan. Sirhan confessed to the shooting, claiming he acted against this US senator because of his support for Israel in the June 1967 Six-Day War.

Nearly four decades after his death, the conflict in the Middle East rages on, albeit in different forms; and has in fact spread to other places.


Despite all the scientific and technological advancements, the world has become an even more dangerous place. If you do not believe me, just do a quick scan of the news for the past few days. Here are some of the big news items:

To our South, the death toll from the S. Java earthquake exceeds 5,000 and the rain adds to the misery of the survivors. Meantime, the volcano in Gunung Merapi threatens to erupt anytime. And things do not look too bright on the horizon. On the first day of the week, TODAY greeted us with a headline which said; “Ring of Fear Bubbles – Experts suggest Java quake could be a sign of things to come”. Anybody dare to say for sure we in Singapore will not be next?

To the East, our friends in Timor Leste are fighting each other so soon after gaining their hard-won independence.

To the North, another landslide crushes 43 homes in the Malaysian capital, just a stone’s throw from the scene of the 1993 Highland Towers disaster. People just don’t learn do they?

And further up, in North Thailand, thousands are still coping with the destruction brought on by the recent massive floods. According to TODAY, “Experts blame the unseasonal violent storms on the rising temperatures from global warming. …The climatic extremes are believed to be related to the cyclical La Nina weather phenomenon”. Not sure what they mean, but it sure doesn’t sound promising does it?

Meantime, the Islamic militants of Southern Thailand seemed to be taking a break. Or maybe the killings have become so regular, they don’t warrant big headlines and so I missed it.

Finally, to our West, in places like Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel and off course Iraq, there’s no need for me to elaborate. Shootings and bombings have become so commonplace many of us don’t even want to read the details anymore.

Even back home, in one of the safest countries on this planet, there is no escape from the fear of terrorism. “Don’t be complacent. Be psychologically prepared for a successful attack”, our government never tires of warning us. And they are right of course. If our JI friends are determined enough, and if they watch enough Hollywood movies, why not? And so they are installing surveillance camera in our public places, trains and buses. They want private enterprises to beef up their security systems. And occasionally we hold terrorist attack drills.

So Robert Kennedy was right when he said, “Men are not made for safe havens.”


Let me end with a quote by another famous politician of that era. Golda Meir, the former prime minister of Israel once said:

"When they will love their children more than they hate us, then there will be peace"