Wednesday, April 30, 2008

For Eli

I just heard a really powerful poem. It's called 'For Eli'.

It's a the following link:

It is on youtube as well...

truly incredible stuff.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Of Rice and Lies

Concerning Former American President Jimmy Carter's visit to the Middle East and in particular his meeting with Hamas, the American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said this:

"We counseled President Carter against coming to -- against going to the region, and particularly against having contacts with Hamas." "We wanted to make sure that there would be no confusion and that there would be no sense that Hamas was somehow a party to peace negotiations."

The Carter Centre has now released the following official statement:

President Carter has the greatest respect for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and believes her to be a truthful person. However, perhaps inadvertently, she is continuing to make a statement that is not true. No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President Assad or leaders of Hamas.

Before leaving on the extended visit to monitor an election in Nepal and then to visit Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, President Carter placed a telephone call to Ms. Rice to describe his itinerary and to inform her of his intended conversations. She was in Europe and her deputy returned his call. They had a very pleasant discussion for about fifteen minutes, during which he never made any of the negative or cautionary comments described above. He never talked to anyone else.

Jimmy Carter is a man I admire a great deal. A rare politician who has his heart in the right place. He works tirelessly for the common good of humanity even though he is not in office.
Rice, on the other hand, is mixing with the wrong crowd.

I guess it is clear as to which of their statements, I think, is the truth.

Olympics & Politics

There are many of us sports fans and purists who just love to see a sporting event unfold dramatically with lots of on the field and off the field stories to digest. But, there is one sporting event that always seems to attract off-the-field drama of a different kind. The Olympic games seem to be pursued by politics all the time.

Now, it is China's turn to face the music. Hosting the Olympics is a matter of pride for any nation. Certainly in the case of this emerging power, it is an opportunity to showcase the arrival of China as a nation of significance economically and politically. But, it was inevitable that in this Olympic year some political issue would have grabbed the limelight.

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend about mixing politics with sport. This friend was insistent that the Tibetan issue should be kept out of the Olympics and the torch relay should not have been marred by the disrespectful pro-Tibet groups.

I believe that we are not in a position to dictate which way politics would flow. Whenever there is an issue that deserves to be highlighted it is inevitable that groups involved in politics would pick whichever medium enables them to exhibit their message as widely and as effectively as they can. There is simply no point in insisting that politics should not be mixed with sports. Whether the organizers of the sporting event like it or not and whether fans like it or not, the political groups will simply attempt to hijack the event in the desparate attempt to get media attention.

The torch relay presented the perfect opportunity for pro-Tibet activists to make a point about their cause all around the world. If the Olympic committee intended to avoid politics, they should have simply cancelled the relay. This wouldn't have been a case of losing out. It would simply have been a security issue. And the political issue that they are so worried about would not have received the kind of airing that it got.

The point i'm making is that we cannot keep politics out of the Olympics or plead that it be kept out. It is going to always seek the platform that would give it the most limelight. The Olympics is the most ideal sporting event for that.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I missed the century

What a pity! When I viewed my profile yesterday morning, there were 97 views: 2 more than the last time that I checked and blogged about it. So, there was someone else who had checked it out.

So, I thouhgt to myself.... 3 more to go and I will hit the century. Guess what, my profile views hit 109 last nght when I checked again. 12 views - by persons other than myself. There are people out there reading my rants? Interesting.

But, I have been deprived of my bat raising opportunity. All I can do now is throw my hands up in the air because of the fact that the century has gone totally unnoticed by me. :-(

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

95 times

My profile has been viewed 95 times. That must be the number of times that I have hit my own profile to view how many times my profile has been viewed. I am going to hit a century (just five steps away).... I must not forget to raise my bat and salute the crowd (in this case, my self-congratulatory ego).

Public and International Law Committee

Following closely on the heels of my blog's renaming from the clumsy 'withandwithouteyes' (that nobody was really reading) to the succinct 'article14' (an attempt at cyber CPR for that unrealised Constitutional right), the Law Society of Singapore has announced the formation of the Public and International Law Committee.... a sort of Human Rights Committee minus teeth and any other sharp objects or objects that, though not sharp, may be sharpened or though not sharpened, may be able to inflict the damage (or a fraction thereof) that could be inflicted by sharp objects or any damage.

Ok... That's clearly not in keeping with the plain English drive...

Incidentally, my blog's name change did not in any way, shape or form (or formless form) influence the Law Society. I have no idea what motivated the Law Society.

Let us hope some constructive work from the Committee.. For now, although it has not been launched yet, this is my favourite committee within the Law Society. That does not say much since I haven't thought of any committees with the Society that I can think of as a point of comparison.

Somehow, I don't think the Committee is going to be all that great. Judging from the inaugral lecture that they have arranged, I can't help but suspect that it will serve as a forum for a competing thesis for human rights based on the less than human values as evisaged by the 'uniquely' Asian perspective. A thesis that human rights is not for us because we are Asians. :-) presumably, the result of that equation would be that we Asians are not humans... well, whatever, nevermind

Anyway, it always helps to be hopeful... that is the way to keep one's sanity... It also helps to be cynical.... that is the way to avoid disappointment... The key to dealing with the work of this Committee and how it would unfold is to follow the middle path between hope and cynicism.

Good luck to the Committee. I wonder what their views are on indefinite detention without trial. That's a good place to start.

Walter Woon - Attorney General

I'm rather late in posting this. But, the appointment of Walter Woon as the Attorney General warrants some comment. This is a legal mind within the Singapore landscape that I admire deeply. I view him as a man of tremendous intellectual honesty from what little I have read about him over the years and the comments that have emanated from him.

Definitely, congratulations are in order. My only hope is that his intellectual honesty would engender the introduction of some fresh air into Singapore's legal climate.

Of course, I can't help but note some irony in all of this. If I remember correctly (and I may be wrong as I am working purely from memory, which is not too efficient these days), there was long time ago that Professor Walter Woon made a remark about the then Attorney General's statement regarding an alleged offence under the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Chan Sek Kiong was then the Attorney General. During the 1997 elections, the Workers' Party had alleged that Mr Goh Chok Tong, Dr Tony Tan and BG Lee Hsien Loong had been inside a polling station on polling day and had thereby committed an offence. Surprisingly, the PAP leaders did not deny their presence there (realising, I presume, the futility of attempting to deny the undeniable). It was then left to the Attorney General to diligently lay down an interpretation of the offence of loitering under the Parliamentary Elections Act that is perhaps the furthest that the elasticity of logic be pushed to without losing its pedigree as logic.

The AG stated as follows:
7. Section 82 (1)(d) provides that - "No person shall wait outside any polling station on polling day, except for the purpose of gaining entry to the polling station to cast his vote".

8. Plainly, persons found waiting inside the polling stations do not come within the ambit of this section. Similarly, those who enter or have entered the polling station cannot be said to be waiting outside it. Only those who wait outside the polling station commit an offence under this section unless they are waiting to enter the polling station to cast their votes.

9. Section 82 (1)(e) provides that -

"No person shall loiter in any street or public place within a radius of 200 metres of any polling station on polling day."

10. The relevant question is whether any person who is inside a polling station can be sad to be "within a radius of 200 metres of any polling station". The answer to this question will also answer any question on loitering inside a polling station.

11. Plainly, a person inside a polling station cannot be said to be within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station. A polling station must have adequate space for the voting to be carried out. Any space has a perimeter. The words "within a radius of 200 metres" ' therefore mean "200 metres from the perimeter of" any polling station. This point is illustrated in the diagrams in the Appendix. (Editor's note: Diagrams not available).

12. The above interpretation is fortified by the context of the provision. The polling station, as a place, is distinguished from a street or public place. It is not a street or a public place. Hence, being inside a polling station cannot amount to being in a street or in a public place. By parity of reasoning, loitering in a street or public place cannot possibly include loitering in the polling station itself and vice versa.

The full text is available here:

I must say that the argument of the AG is not without logic. I'm merely saying that I am reminded of Professor Kingsfield from Paper Chase: "Man has an infinite capacity for rationalization".

Now, for the reason why brought this up (and here I may actually be mistaken and might add my own quotable quote: man has an infinite capacity to be mistaken): If memory serves me right, Professor Walter Woon made a remark about the AG's argument... as being either intellectually dishonest or unintelligent.... something to that effect... the 'intellectually dishonest' bit has stuck in my head... i do remember that he said 'either ______ or intellectually dishonest' or 'either intellectually dishonest or ________.'

maybe the comment has been immortalised by being grafted onto the net somewhere... I must google it to find out.

Anyway, the point of this exercise is this... What an irony. Walter Woon is now the AG. Chan Sek Keong is the Chief Justice. How would the intellectually honest perform? We shall watch as it unfolds.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Contemplating the 'rule' - thoughts in draft

A rule is a tool for the diffusion of conflict. It is an impersonal external reference point, which eliminates the emotional dimension of a dispute between individuals. This impersonalisation of a dispute assists in the creation of order, stability and tranquillity. It does not ensure the creation of the same but merely prods the social organism in that direction.

A retrospective law does not appear fair or just because it fails to some degree to provide an impersonal external reference point. A nagging suspicion that the rule has specifically targeted an individual or group of individuals for the behaviour introduces a personal dimension to the rule.

The personalisation of a rule occurs when the rule is intended to target or perceived to target an individual or a group. The rule then does not operate as a rule and acquires the character of an order (with the accompanying lack of moral legitimacy) directed at an individual.

This personalisation renders the rule questionable. If rules were, to begin with, intended to diffuse conflict and secure tranquillity, any rule that doesn’t impersonalise the conflict must surely be questionable in terms of its pedigree as a rule.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Indonesian Prophecy

Prophesies are always fascinating. Whether or not one is willing to accept the likelihood of prophetic statements having any truth in them, one must say that they have some amusement value.

Here is something I came across in Wikipedia...It seems that there was this priest by the name of Sabdapalon during the reign of the last Majapahit king. The king, Brawijaya the Fifth converted, to Islam in 1478 and was cursed by his priest Sabdapalon.

Sabdapalon then promised that he would return 500 years later (that would be 1978). At the time of his return there is supposed to be political turmoil, etc, etc... (the usual apocalyptic stuff contained in prophesies, i guess). He would return and usher in an era when Islam would be wiped off the majapahit lands and hinduism would be restored.

There is then the assertion in the wikipedia post that some of the first new Hindu temples were built around 1978 (e.g. Pura Blambangan ). There is also the assertion that Mt Semeru erupted around the same time.

I'm having some difficulty verifying the date of construction of Pura Blambangan. I shall check it out at a later date. As for Mt Semeru, there is a wikipedia post that states that since 1818, 55 eruptions have been recorded. From 1967 to the present the volcano has been in a 'near constant state of eruption'. The last eruption is stated as 2008 (continuing). presumably, it is erupting as i blog right now.... let me check on that.... i don't see anything on google news

1967... that's the year that my sister was born... maybe she is the reincarnation of Sabdapalon. :-) but, what is she doing globetrotting with her husband instead of ushering in a hindu revival in indonesia. :-)

And then, there is another Indonesian prophesy. THis concerns a person referred to as Joyoboyo or Jayabaya; a king who reigned from 1135 to 1157 in East Java. Javanese believe him to be a model king; an embodiment of the qualities of a just ruler: A Ratu Adil. According to wikipedia:

'Many believe that the time for the arrival of a new Ratu Adil is near (as the prophecies put it, "when iron wagons could drive without horses and ships could sail through the sky"), and that he will come to rescue and reunite Indonesia after an acute crisis, ushering in the dawn of a new golden age.'

so, now that we have cars and aircrafts, a new Ratu Adil is upon us. :-)