Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Are Singaporean Voters Fairly Represented in Parliament?

March 13, 2009

Hmmm its worth a thought. This is the silent big question that never gets a fair hearing in every of our elections. The Straits times – the most common source of news – automatically transforms itself to become an unabashed sycophantic party publication during election time, giving fully positive coverage to the ruling party candidates. Sort of like a PAP sleeper cell that is fully activated during election time. Well so much for journalistic integrity and impartiality. I don’t blame them either… just see it’s board’s constitution and their connections – you’ll see why.

Anyway the reason why I am writing about this crap at all – even for a regular, politically apathetic Singaporean like me – is the redrawing of electoral boundaries and updating of voter registration is indeed an eyebrow raising event. Not least because the boundaries were re-drawn – but the timing of which. It normally happens juuuuuust before parliament is dissolved. But election is at least two years away.

 

Normally boundaries are finalized just when the opposition had worked the ground for the past 5 years and had come within firing range when the government shifts the goal posts.

 

This is called gerrymandering i.e.  to deliberately divide the electoral geography to the disadvantage of the opposition. And without saying anything about the political independence of the Elections department, this is indeed surprising.

 

Well no one expects the government (read : the ruling party) to serve the interests of the opposition, but the government by all account, owes a moral duty to Singaporeans to ensure the fairness of the elections.

My guess for this early electoral boundary meddling is that the ruling party is trying to double their political points. For a government that rules by fear, this looming economic depression is a godsend. It is very hard to promise economic success in an economic boom. But this government knows that the people here, in the worst of times would never, want the opposition running their economy. 

Judging by their dismal 2006 results, a by-election would most likely give a boost to their political mandate. In other words it’s point scoring time to further solidify the PAP’s hold on power for another 5 years. So they get a solid mandate plus they get to boast that they are being fair by giving time to the opposition work the ground via early notice of electoral boundaries.

My guess is parliament should be dissolved by the time the US economic depression hits home and the PM will then use it as an excuse to call for snap elections. They have the economic figures and they will most certainly use it to their advantage and point out the opposition’s incompetence in economic administration.

I think there should be some specific rules as to when by-elections can be held (sigh).

But coming back to the issue of re-drawing electoral boundaries by the elections departments is nearly not as much as question of how and when as it is why. It beats the crap out of me. I wish the government would be transparent with it’s motives about the need to gerrymander. While the government maintains that it is the elections department’s prerogative a simple check will show that the elections department comes under the home affairs minister who is a PAP MP and is also likely to stand for elections. So the elections departments neutrality is suspect. This is indeed a dangerous thing because impartiality of the elections administrator is the foundation of establishing fairness in any democratic electoral process. With that being suspect, the results are suspect.

 

What effect does gerrymandering have on the election results? It spreads the distribution of opposition votes so that the Mr. Gerrymander could maximize his seats in parliament.

 

Just look at the figures of the last election results. There were 84 parliamentary seats in the offing. The PAP garnered 82 of those of the votes with 37 walkovers. The opposition won 2 seats. Is this exciting or what. My feeling is “or what”. This is 97.6% of the seats won by the ruling party. This is a figure that has the power to pass a whole new constitution through parliament in just one night with not so much of a whimper against it.

 

But the election result tells a different story. The PAP only garnered 66.6% of the 1,123,273 valid votes (748,130 votes) in 2006. The opposition garnered the remainder of the 33.4% (375,143 votes) with only two elected opposition MPs in parliament. The parties of the elected MPs themselves have 29.3% (329,206 votes) of the votes. Achieving such a figure for an opposition in an electorate that vote in fear is no mean feat.

 

But what this gross disparity in the opposition’s parliamentary seat percentage (2.4%) and their vote percentage (33.4%) tells us is that large sections (one-thirds!) of our voting population have been alienated via cunning electoral and administrative artifices that resulted in them being grossly under-represented in parliament.

 

This is a significant number because it shows that there is a sizable number among our voting population that believes in giving a credible resistance in parliament to the ruling party. These people don’t want CPF withdrawal age or withdrawal amount changes everytime the GIC or Temasek Holdings makes billion dollar losses elsewhere. These people don’t want fly by night bills tabled by ministers that ease through a parliament with sleeping career MPs who don’t give a hoot to the parliamentary process. They just wake up and vote with the whip.

10 tips for catching A liar

February 15, 2009

stumbled upon this on scribd.com – taken wholesale

You may want to use these methods – but may not want to call the liars’ bluff cos it may blow your cover and he may be more careful with you – which makes your job more difficult.

It may interest anyone to know that women are better liars than men – so being emotional creatures and physically weak they need the skills to slither out of a sticky situation without the need to use force – which they are not well equipped to do. It thus may be harder to catch them as they have higher EQs. Sorry guys – we’ve been had since the garden of Eden.  😉

10 Ways to Catch a Liar

Experts have 10 tips that can let you know if someone isn’t telling you the whole truth.

By Heather Hatfield Reviewed by Louise Chang, M D
J.J. Newberry was a trained federal agent, skilled in the art of deception detection. So when a witness to a shooting sat in front of him and tried to tell him that when she heard gunshots she didn’t look, she just ran — he knew she was lying.
How did Newberry reach this conclusion? The answer is by recognizing telltale signs that a person isn’t being honest, like inconsistencies in a story, behavior that’s different from a person’s norm, or too much detail in an explanation.
While using these signs to catch a liar takes extensive training and practice, it’s no longer only for authorities like Newberry. Now, the average person can become adept at identifying dishonesty, and it’s not as hard as you might think. Experts tell WebMD the top 10 ways to let the truth be known.

Tip No. 1: Inconsistencies
“When you want to know if someone is lying, look for inconsistencies in what they are saying,” says Newberry, who was a federal agent for 30 years and a police officer for five.
When the woman he was questioning said she ran and hid after hearing gunshots — without looking — Newberry saw the inconsistency immediately.
“There was something that just didn’t fit,” says Newberry. “She heard gunshots but she didn’t look? I knew that was inconsistent with how a person would respond to a situation like that.”
So when she wasn’t paying attention, he banged on the table. She looked right at him.
“When a person hears a noise, it’s a natural reaction to look toward it,” Newberry tells WebMD. “I knew she heard those gunshots, looked in the direction from which they came, saw the shooter, and then ran.”
Sure enough, he was right.
“Her story was just illogical,” says Newberry. “And that’s what you should look for when you’re talking to someone who isn’t being truthful. Are there inconsistencies that just don’t fit?”

Tip No. 2: Ask the Unexpected
“About 4% of people are accomplished liars and they can do it well,” says Newberry. “But because there are no Pinocchio responses to a lie, you have to catch them in it.”
Sir Walter Scott put it best: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” But how can you a catch a person in his own web of lies?
“Watch them carefully,” says Newberry. “And then when they don’t expect it, ask them one question that they are not prepared to answer to trip them up.”

Tip No. 3: Gauge Against a Baseline
“One of the most important indicators of dishonesty is changes in behavior,” says Maureen O’Sullivan, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco. “You want to pay attention to someone who is generally anxious, but now looks calm. Or, someone who is generally calm but now looks anxious.”
The trick, explains O’Sullivan, is to gauge their behavior against a baseline. Is a person’s behavior falling away from how they would normally act? If it is, that could mean that something is up.

Tip No. 4: Look for Insincere Emotions
“Most people can’t fake smile,” says O’Sullivan. “The timing will be wrong, it will be held too long, or it will be blended with other things. Maybe it will be a combination of an angry face with a smile; you can tell because their lips are smaller and less full than in a sincere smile.”
These fake emotions are a good indicator that something has gone afoul.

Tip No. 5: Pay Attention to Gut Reactions
“People say, ‘Oh, it was a gut reaction or women’s intuition,’ but what I think they are picking up on are the deviations of true emotions,” O’Sullivan tells WebMD.
While an average person might not know what it is he’s seeing when he thinks someone isn’t being honest and attribute his suspicion to instinct, a scientist would be able to pinpoint it exactly — which leads us to tip no. 6.

Tip No. 6: Watch for Microexpressions
When Joe Schmo has a gut feeling, Paul Ekman, a renowned expert in lie detection, sees microexpressions.
“A microexpression is a very brief expression, usually about a 25th of a second, that is always a concealed emotion,” says Ekman, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco.
So when a person is acting happy, but in actuality is really upset about something, for instance, his true emotion will be revealed in a subconscious flash of anger on his face. Whether the concealed emotion is fear, anger, happiness, or jealousy, that feeling will appear on the face in the blink of an eye. The trick is to see it.
“Almost everyone — 99% of those we’ve tested in about 10,000 people — won’t see them,” says Ekman. “But it can be taught.”
In fact, in less than an hour, the average person can learn to see microexpressions.

Tip No. 7: Look for Contradictions

“The general rule is anything that a person does with their voice or their gesture that doesn’t fit the words they are saying can indicate a lie,” says Ekman. “For example, this is going to sound amazing, but it is true. Sometimes when people are lying and saying, ‘Yes, she’s the one that took the money,’ they will without knowing it make a slight head shake ‘no.’ That’s a gesture and it completely contradicts what they’re saying in words.”
These contradictions, explains Ekman, can be between the voice and the words, the gesture and the voice, the gesture and the words, or the face and the words.
“It’s some aspect of demeanor that is contradicting another aspect,” Ekman tells WebMD.

Tip No. 8: A Sense of Unease
“When someone isn’t making eye contact and that’s against how they normally act, it can mean they’re not being honest,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice. “They look away, they’re sweating, they look uneasy … anything that isn’t normal and indicates anxiety.”

Tip No. 9: Too Much Detail
“When you say to someone, ‘Oh, where were you?’ and they say, ‘I went to the store and I needed to get eggs and milk and sugar and I almost hit a dog so I had to go slow,’ and on and on, they’re giving you too much detail,” says Berman.
Too much detail could mean they’ve put a lot of thought into how they’re going to get out of a situation and they’ve crafted a complicated lie as a solution.

Tip No. 10: Don’t Ignore the Truth
“It’s more important to recognize when someone is telling the truth than telling a lie because people can look like they’re lying but be telling truth,” says Newberry.
While it sounds confusing, finding the truth buried under a lie can sometimes help find the answer to an important question: Why is a person lying?
These 10 truth tips, experts agree, all help detect deception. What they don’t do is tell you why a person is lying and what the lie means.
“Microexpressions don’t tell you the reason,” says Ekman. “They just tell you what the concealed emotion is and that there is an emotion being concealed.”
When you think someone is lying, you have to either know the person well enough to understand why he or she might lie, or be a people expert.
“You can see a microexpression, but you have to have more social-emotional intelligence on people to use it accurately,” says O’Sullivan. “You have to be a good judge of people to understand what it means.”

Extra Tip: Be Trusting
“In general we have a choice about which stance we take in life,” says Ekman. “If we take a suspicious stance life is not going to be too pleasant, but we won’t get misled very often. If we take a trusting stance, life is going to be a lot more pleasant but sometimes we are going to be taken in. As a parent or a friend, you’re much better off being trusting rather than looking for lies all the time.”

The Israeli Genocidal Maniacs

January 16, 2009

They did it again – they bombed UN compound in Gaza when exact GPS co-ordinates were given to the Israelis prior to the war. In the Lebanon war of July 2006 they killed UN observers. a few days back they bombed a UN school and killed 40+ men women and children despite knowing the exact location of the site.

Surprisingly, their air-offensive cannot discriminate between civilians and militant despite having state-of-the-art military technology – thanks to none other than the US. Despite all the talk of spreading peace the US has been supplying weapons to Israel to kill civilians. They vehemently deny targeting civilians though and they admittedly took pains to avoid civilian casualty. But ground reports point to the contrary. They bombed buildings like mosques, hospitals and other civilian buildings while claiming everytime that the place was either had by militants or used by hamas as a weapons store.

So their air offensive is a blunt tool by a long shot we could give them the benefit of doubt – but we should not be expecting any such “accidents” in a ground offensive right?. Nope, it did’nt happen. Reports from the ground indicate that women, children and non-combatants are being targeted despite the fact that they see white flags all around. The Israelis even the temerity to suggest that the hamas militants were hiding within the civilian population therefore Hamas as the sole responsible party for killing it’s own civilian population through Israeli guns. What a load of bullshit. Such answers are an insult to the intelligence of the international community. Slightly more than a third of all the 1000+ dead are children.

This is not a war – it’s a massacre or more politically, ethnic cleansing. The signs that they want to kill every living Palestinian in Gaza is very telling.

If they wanted to minimize civilian casualty, they should have allowed the old, sick, women and children to leave by opening the border crossings. But as you have it, they closed all the border crossings, effectively trapping the civilians to face the Israeli bombs with no shelter and no safety.

The Israelis are murderers of innocents claiming Hamas rockets as the sole reason for the war. But if they had put an almost total blockade on gaza for the past 18 months or so, there will be no reason for the Hamas rockets to land in Israel in the first place.

It seems like for every day of the war an average of 50 Palestinian in dead. And it is believed that most of them are non-combatants. Some were even shot in the back. It’s unthinkable that children could be murdered with such cruelty. The UN is still spewing a lot of hot-air while Gaza is ending up in huge plumes of smoke. The Israelis Genocidal maniacs need to be stopped before they decimate the Gaza population.

How to cram 2 hours of work Into 30 minutes

October 3, 2008

Dude HAVE A DEADLINE for anything that needs to be done

Scientists call it the time compression phenomenon

gd luck

Laws of physics mentioned in the quran

September 10, 2008

The physical laws – including the derivation of the speed of light in the quran mentioned way before science discovered it.

Really interesting stuff- follow the ling

http://www.speed-light.info/angels_speed_of_light.htm

we all have a common denominator – God – it’s just that our numerators are different

July 11, 2008

our basis is the same, but our interpretations are different – that’s all – if only we can find a way to just get along and ignore all the hate mongering that goes on at all levels of western society and their ilk. We are so sold to the idea of hating people that are so eagerly and easily propagated by the media that we forget that these are real people who bleed the same blood when we cut them to pieces in the name of fighting terrorism. We forget that they have emotions, they have feelings, they love and have children, they have hopes and dreams. If only we can understand that the hate that is mongered at a political level that sent military hardware with a pretext as a lame excuse to establish control right over the body and blood of millions of innocent lives who were branded as terrorists, or criminals, if it becomes clear that they are neither – collateral casualty of war. Children who die like dogs on the streets while the oil installations are being protected. I just cannot understand how such hatred can have such wide international support? How asian governments who are too chicken to stand up against a bully and hide under the cover of terrorism and fighting it as a just cause that it is all right to break the sacred laws of humanity, acording to the innocents among the adversary, the most basic of human  dignity and respect. It is so easy to demonise that which is unknown and even easier to believe it.

The Halal-food-in-school issue

February 13, 2008

I refer to this recent furore about the establishment of halal canteen in a public school here in Singapore.

The head of the school from the perspective of principled consistency in administration was technically not wrong. But he has ignored the deeply ingrained existing realities and has thus faltered egregriously on a very sensitive issue that violated an implicit but common understanding among the different peoples here.

 He has failed to fully appreciate that:

1)  mainstream schooling here is a secular government establishment.

2) adequate provisions had been made for muslim students halal food requirements

3) the existing system was working fine for all (i.e he tried to fix a thing that was not broken in the first place)

Fundamentally, the government, due to reasons entrenched in our historical cultural demography coupled with colonial era political legacy and post-independence socio-political upheaval, finds it imperative to preserve the secular character of the school system to allow for the peaceful sharing of the fast dwindling common space here.

The idea is to allow for healthy human social interaction and engagement and peaceful co-existence while preserving the socio-cultural distinctiveness of every group. So it is a situation that not only calls for tolerance of each others cultural behaviour and practices but also to actively partake in and gain knowledge and experience of the ways of our fellow citizens who are different from each other.

In Australia New Zealand, Europe and the north-Americas, a myriad of different cultures, even including that of the indigenous population, were uncermoniously (and sometimes violently) subsumed by a single dominant culture under a socio-political policy of integration. In Singapore we adhere to a policy of pluralism in the societal administration of our social and economic policies.

Like every system of choice there are always trade-offs and one major trade-off of a policy of pluralism is the opportunity-cost of social cohesion at the expense of allowing indivdual space for cultural expression and practices of the various social and cultural groups.

So while a policy of integration works to unite people it robs the society of the colour and vibrance of the symbiotic-diversity that pluralist societies, such as that of Singapore‘s, enjoy.

Muslims, like the rest of the peoples here already enjoy their own cultural space and to push the limits of tolerance that may unduly pressurise others into grudgingly accept a policy that violates the fundamental rules of common space is not only unfair, it is downright insensitive. The principal should have known better as his only serves to play upon the weak social fabric of this pluralist society that took decades to stabilise. It puts the spotlight on the darker side cultural differences and lowers the threshold of tolerance among its peoples.

For muslims it is a double whammy because firstly they are not the dominant cultural group even though they wield a relatively stronger influence despite their small numbers. Secondly this negative spotlight will have a ripple effect on the rest of the muslims who may be treated with wariness whenever they stake their claim to theor share of their cultural pie.

The principal thus should have realised the gravity of  implementing such risky policies with scant regard for the sensitivities of others and existing realities. Such principled halal policies are only fit for a madrasah or where people are generally in agreement to such a move.

Having said that, the government also needs to do more to address the needs of muslims seeking religious education instead of the mainstream secular ones. The madrasahs need more funding and more infrastructural attention.

Paying token service to this need while statutorily and administratively restricting parents from exercising their choice to send their children to a non-mainstream schools is not a step in the right direction.

If the demand is there, the government must provide the necessary infrastructure and the required funding to accommodate a significant cultural group. Compulsory secular education could also be done in a madrasah. If the government pays scant regard to such important needs then there is always a danger that this need may spill into the common arena and cause unnecessary social upheavals.

Can robots “think”?

December 12, 2007

This looks is a no brainer and yet we struggle to comprehend this question.

We can simulate human neural functions like logical thinking, reasoning, language etc (i.e. left-brain activities) but can we simulate right brain functions like appreciation of music and art? It’s not humanly possible because these are subjective attributes that has no dicernable pattern to capture, imitate and reproduce. It is thus really a misnomer to say that robots can think. Thinking is a unique human attribute that can only be simulated or copied to a rudimentary degree. The origins of thought processes and how it develops and is processed within the neuro-circuitry are a mystery that eludes any explanation – scientific or otherwise. Even in this day and age we can only theorise how the brain functions. So we should have no illusions about robots possessing cognition, creativity or imagination. Its what we put into it and as such they function as an extention of our brain.

Best Jaw dropping Dance moves you’ll see

October 10, 2007

Try copying this!

You’ll be dazed after watching this. 

He wanted to give the world something different and creative – and boy did he @&*%@^%#ing do it!

Frankly, I’ve not seen anything quite like it.

Iran President Faces Public Dressing Down

September 27, 2007

The Ugly American Strikes Again. Columbia University president Lee Bollinger made allegations against the Iranian president while conveniently ignoring the failures, treachery and cruelty of his own government. He also almost turned the session dedicated to a speech from the Iranian President into one of his own sessions. If his agenda was about free speech, civil liberties  and human rights he should also have talked about Abu Ghraib, the wanton destruction of Iraq, Haditha, the Extraordinary resditions by Us secret services, broad wire tappings of the US citizenry, Guantanamo prison, homeland security act, racial profiling  and the list goes on. Who knows what more is to come. His accusations against Mr Ahmadinejad were thus by-and-large a matter of bigoted personal opinion than it was a reasonable acedemic comment worthy of scrutiny.

Who says right wing fascism is dead – Bollinger is a testament to the fact that fascism is still alive and kicking.

As bizzarre as it seems Mr Bollinger turned this dignified session into a public dressing down of a guest and a smeared the reputation of his guest and robbed the everyone a chance for an objective assessment of truth. This is the worst of American society.

It could have been used for lively civil exchanges and for US citizens to know more about Iran. In the end Bigotry and hatred prevailed. Mr Lee could have used this session to build bridges. But he burned what was left of it. Mr Lee Bollinger turned out to be a xenophobe in tuxedos oozing of pseudo academic arrogance. Bollingers sharp distaste for his guest was a testament to the much pervasive American ugliness and arrogance only matched by their equally repugnant bigotry. Watching the whole thing in youtube I could feel the rightwing political pressure on Bollinger’s face to publicly humiliate a guest. If the humiliation did not happen I think Bollinger would be forced to vacate his job the very next day by right wing Jewish lobbying.

Mr Bollinger, all the negative comments you made against a dignified guest speaks volumes of your own upbringing. You displayed the worst of the American culture when you could have easily done the reverse. You make various uncalled for allegations against your guest. But you should look at yourself in the mirror and see for yourself what a sly bastard you turned out to be to against your own guest after allowing for Mr Ahmedinajad to speak. You could have spoken about bush in the same derogatory terms and it would not have been further from the truth. You almost turn this diginified session into a mud slinging session. Thank God The Iranian President mantained his composure. Maybe you could have learnt a lesson or two from your guest. I hope one day you will be served your just desserts for the treachery you committed.

 All I can say is: what a terrible waste of a fabulous opportunity to showcase the beauty of American culture and civility when it was only used to show how ugly America is. And people still wonder why Muslims love to hate America?