Expat@Large

Koro

Posted in penis, plagiarism, Singapore by expatatlarge on May 7, 2012

The term koro is presumed to derive from the word ‘kura’ which means turtle in the Malay language (see below), they say. Turtleneck sweaters, Turtleneck penis…

Oh my god, that woman has stolen my penis! Oh my god, that swine fever injection is causing my penis to retract back in to my body and rumour has it that such a disturbing symptom will kill me!

The Great Singapore Penis Panic! Saw a small (ha ha) book about this in Kinokuniya yesterday, nearly bought it but, you know, I was concerned that the cashier girls might look at me in a strange and knowing way.

In 1967, hundreds of men in Singapore were rushing to hospital clutching their wedding tackle, holding it firmly, as you do, with pegs and weights to prevent death from disappearing dong. There was a rumor circulated by a local paper the the meat from a vaccinated pig was causing this unusual complaint.

It was penis panic! It was cock consternation all across the nation! It was schlong schlorting! It was wang worry! It was attribute anxiety! It was horn hysteria! It was missing member! It was prick perturbation! It was dick dismay. It was wiener [pronounced ‘veener’] vanishing. It was… etc, etc…

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Mass hysteria? Mass panic? Yes. OK, maybe.

The social psychology of ‘epidemic’ koro.

Bartholomew RE.

Source

Flinders University of South Australia.

Abstract

The few isolated reports of individual koro exhibit a symptomatology indicative of major psychiatric conditions (ie. psychosis or affective disorder), and appear unrelated to collective episodes which involve social, cultural, cognitive and physiological factors in the diffusion of koro-related beliefs. Yet, koro ‘epidemics’ continue to be viewed as exemplifying mass psychopathology or irrationality. An examination of the similarities between koro ‘outbreaks’ and a sub-category of behaviour which has been loosely labeled as ‘mass hysteria’, suggests an alternative, non-psychopathological explanation. In reclassifying ‘epidemic’ koro as a collective misperception rather than a culture-bound syndrome, it is argued that koro is a rational attempt at problem-solving which involves conformity dynamics, perceptual fallibility and the local acceptance of koro-associated folk realities, which are capable of explaining such episodes as normal within any given population.

Pub Med

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Ah, love you Google: found a good review of the prick problem at Yesterday.sg. If you don’t want to follow the link here is the text:

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[commence plagiarism]

May 27 2006
The Great Koro Epidemic of 1967

Posted by budak

In the year 1967, Singapore was gripped by the fear of shrinking organs, an incident that has enterred the casebooks of psychiatric medical history. (Warning: risque content!)
While trawling the net for entirely innocent factoids, I came across this footnote of local history known as The Great Koro Epidemic of 1967.

Koro is a mental condition in which men become obsessed with their penis (err…. doesn’t this happen all the time?), believing it to be afflicted by shrinkage with the ultimate result of retraction into the body. Some sources cite a role in Chinese metaphysical beliefs, where abnormal sexual acts (visiting prostitutes, masturbation or nocturnal emissions) disturb the yin-yang balance, leading to a loss of the yang (or male) force with accompanying consequences on key organs.

Apparently, countless Singapore men were afflicted with a raging delusion that their penises were shrinking and retracting into the body, a fate which causes mass panic and mortal anxiety. This phenomenon, known as Koro, arose following press reports of Koro cases due to the consumption of pork from a pig that had been inoculated against swine fever. Needless to say, pork sellers had a bad year. The coy headline of the Straits Times on 5 Nov 1967 (A Strange Malady Hits Singapore Men) gave little indication of the true girth of the problem.

Professor Kua Ee Heok of the Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, in his monograph, Transcultural Psychiatry, has this to say of Koro:

“Koro refers to a syndrome, which has for its central theme a fear of death due to the person’s conviction that his penis is shrinking into the abdomen. The panic-stricken man often clutches on to his penis with bewildered spouse and relatives assisting. The term koro is thought to derive from the Malay word kura which means “tortoise” – the symbolic meaning is that the penile retraction is compared with the retraction of the head of the tortoise into its shell. The syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine is known as suo-yang, which literally means shrinkage of the male sexual organ. In women it may take the form of retraction of the vulval labia or nipple.

Koro is often viewed as a form of panic disorder with the symptom-complex of fear of penile retraction and impending death, palpitations, sweating, breathlessness and paraesthesia. The factors, which contribute to the occurrence of koro, include beliefs and attitudes pertaining to sexuality. A common Chinese belief is that the loss of semen weakens the body, and loss of yang occurs with masturbation and nocturnal emission. The loss of semen through sexual excesses is thought in traditional Chinese belief to lead to fatal ill-health. Personality traits associated with koro have been described as nervous temperament, suggestibility, sensitivity and immaturity.”

Dr. Kua also cites a report in the Singapore Medical Journal (1963, 4, 119-121) in which Dr. Gwee AL, describes a Koro case involving a male Chinese aged 34, seen on 24 March 1956.

“He was at a cinema show when he felt the need to micturate. He went out to the latrine in the foyer and, as he was easing himself, he felt a sudden loss of feeling in the genital region, and straightaway, the thought occurred to him that he was going to get penile retraction. Sure enough, he soon noticed that he penis was getting shorter. Intensely alarmed, he held on to his penis with his right hand and shouted for help, which however was not forthcoming as the latrine was deserted during the show. He felt cold in the limbs, and was weak all over, and his legs gave way under him. So he sat down on the floor, all this time holding on to his penis. About half an hour later, the attack abated.”

Dr. Gwee also authored a later study (in the Singapore Medical Journal 1969, 10, 234-242) about the 1967 epidemic, which affected over 500 persons. From this report, Kua notes the following sociological background to the outbreak: “ …before the outbreak of the epidemic, there was concern about chickens being injected with oestrogen to increase their growth. Some men were afraid that the oestrogen in the chicken would cause gynaecomastia and avoided chicken meat. At about the same time, there was a rumour that contaminated pork was being sold on the market and that diseased pigs were being inoculated against swine fever. This triggered off the epidemic and a possible explanation of the outbreak is that the inoculation of the pigs was seen to be similar to the injection of chickens with oestrogen.”

It was also noted that the epidemic “subsided rapidly after reassurance and explanation from the doctors through television, radio and newspaper.”

Chris Buckle of the University of Ottawa, highlights the Singapore Koro Epidemic in his study entitled: A Conceptual History of Koro.

“In July 1967, all swine in the country were inoculated with an anti-swine fever vaccine. It was an event that brought much public concern and considerable media attention.

On October 29, 1967, rumors began to circulate that the consumption of this inoculated pork was causing men’s genitalia to retract. It is unknown how, why or where in Singapore the rumors began. However, there is some evidence that the kosher Malays were blamed for the event, an accusation in line with the background of racial tension that plagued Singapore in the nineteen sixties. While this idea was not described in the government controlled Chinese or English language media, personal accounts do give it credence.

On October 30th a small Chinese language paper reported that “people developed koro after eating the meat of pigs inoculated with anti-swine fever vaccine”. A few days later, the same paper reported that an inoculated pig had died from penile retraction.”

Within the week, public hospitals were seeing hundreds of koro patients, and Buckle notes that no statistics exist for the presumably high number of individuals who were treated by family or traditional Chinese physicians. It was reported that “men resorted to clamps, pegs, and even weights to ensure that their tackle remained in its rightful place.”

Reflecting perhaps the high degree of public trust in state bodies in those good old days, koro cases increase exponentially following a statement by the then-Ministry of Primary Production (now AVA) that “emphatically denied rumors of pork contamination.” Buckle writes that as a result, “an alarmed Ministry of National Development issued an immediate statement claiming that ‘no one in Singapore need worry over the safety of pork from pigs slaughtered at the government abattoir where every carcass is carefully examined and stamped as fit for human consumption before they are released to the market’”.

The outbreak subsided after press statements by the Singapore Medical Association that “koro is a culturally determined form of emotional ill-health affecting primarily the Chinese…the present incidence of koro is essentially due to fear and rumors which have no foundation”. Meanwhile, advertisements for Australian pork began to appear in the papers. The Chinese-language Nanyang also reported that a man in the ministry of production had apologised for comments about the link between the swine vaccine and koro. The final nail on koro’s coffin came with the televised statement of the Deputy Director of Medical Services, Dr. Lim Guan Ho, who stressed that koro “is only a disease of the mind and the victim requires no medical treatment at all.”

I wonder if any readers of sufficient seniority might have recollections (not necessarily of personal encounters with koro though) of this incident??

[endplagiarism]

~~~~~~~~

Many Japanese and Korean men look down, search, and then shrug. They’re used to it.

E@L

Cash Cow Shit

Posted in food, getting rich slowly, Hong Kong, Singapore, wine tasting by expatatlarge on April 17, 2012

Those of you with your fingers on the pulse, your noses to the grindstone, your feet on the ground, your heads in the clouds, your eyes on the the prize, your tongues kept civil in your heads and yours heads not halfway up your arse will be aware that E@L has a controlling small interest in a steakhouse restaurant group in Hong Kong called Wooloomooloo. This is not a party political broadcast, whoof, me?, but please go to the restaurants and bars there and spend your entire life savings at your earliest convenience. Take a loan, spend more. Speak to our financial consultant.

Anyway, point of story. (Anyway, any sentence that begins with “anyway” shows sloppy, sloppy, sloppy thinking. AKA: too much red wine.) Point of story.

E@L was in Hong Kong last week (working hard, hush your mouth) and enjoyed himself immensely. Please don’t start E@L on his preferences between Hongkers and Singapore. (Ten blogposts started and abandoned in frustration already this week.) On any given hour of any given day, the answer might be 180deg from what it was last time you asked. So what did he do?

He had a quiet night in Wanchai with Bruce(!)…

He took a stroll up the gweilo, ahem, friendly region Queens Rd West in of Sai Wan (did anyone even notice there was Westerner there? No. – c.f. The Glamour, Christopher Priest, 1984) and took in some the hectic, hectic, no-time-to-think ambiance of that part of town.

Awesome.

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Anyway (oops), he visited several (3/4) of the Woolies (as we affectionately call the money-spinning cash cow) over the course of his five day stay on the barren little rock (as we affectionately call Hong Kong) and has some more photos to share…

View from the rooftop at Woolies at Wanchai, on Hennessy.

View across to Hong Kong from Woolies Prime in The One, Nathan Rd – E@L and an old HK friend, MJ. View is bit misty, you can’t see the top of IFC2, but still, pretty frackin’ awesome, what? Fireworks and light-show every night at 8pm. The bar area, with it’s jaw-dropping balcony view seems very popular for some reason, and we couldn’t get a seat there after our meal. Great! Spend more money!

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Anyway (FUCK!), we they are opening a Singapore Woolies in June, our their first international venture. Tell your friends. E@L went today to the third floor at the Swissotel (The Stamford), at Raffles City (not Raffles hotel, not Raffles Shopping Arcade, not Raffles Hospital, not Raffles Place) to observe the current state of affairs. At the moment, it’s an area of concrete and brick and steel pipes and open windows. (Thankfully it doesn’t rain much in Singapore… Yeah, right.) But mid-June or so… look out!

Here are some shots out of the window. Mmm, not bad.

That road you can see next to the sports ground transforms into part of the racing circuit for the Singapore F1 GP every September. (Damn. Was hoping for a nice quiet venue. Bummer. And no, we are not taking booking yet, even for the ownersshareholders.)

That crazy what’s-that-on-top-of-those-three-buildings thing is part of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, next to the casino integrated resort on, well, Marina Bay. Fireworks and light-show every now and then. Theatre complex, convention centre, 2,000 plus hotel rooms, etc… all right there or just a small walk away. Very good spot in other words.

OK, good view but it’s not as spectacularly brilliant as the view from TST to Hong Kong Island, even so it’s not that bad. For Singapore.

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So anyway, after all this, E@L heads out for dinner at another restaurant to meet up with some friends, Jennifer and David (real names, to indict the innocent). We went to Balzac, new place in The Rendezvous. French place. Absinthe cocktails sort of place. Beef cheeks in red wine jus sort of place. Incomprehensible French word for soufflé (already a French word!) sort of place.

We knock back our cheap Côtes du Rhône vin ordinaire (still quite nice, Grenache/Syrah) and chat with each other and with the staff (quiet night). Jennifer is in Singapore for the Food and Hotel Association expo at Changi and she notices that the chef (walking past) has a halyard around his neck from that very same FHA exhibition. She calls him over for une petite conversaysheon and things start rolling from there. A little bit of extra service, some more bread, please try the absinthe cocktail, have the unpronounceable chocolate soufflé…

Then David gets a phone call – “Yeah, sure, bring them over…” A friend of his, who doesn’t drink, has been at a French wine thingummie. He drops by a few minutes later with three bottles of already opened but barely tasted French wine – St Julien, etc… Not crap at all. Well into three figures, each bottle.

The sommelier, after seeing this impressive delivery, and noting that we hadn’t fallen over unconscious after several of those absinthe (they were 99% cognac, it turned out, pfft!) cocktails, opts to bring over three clean glasses for us. But wait, there’s more. With the first bottle done, the St Julein, the sommelier tempts us with a taste of some of his biodynamic French wine as a comparison.

In fact, fuck it, he leaves the remaining 3/4 of the bottle with us. This wine is from the biodynamic Rhone vineyard of the dynamic M. Chapoutier. Last time E@L tasted one of these was at a degustation at the way expensive but impressive Andre restaurant with the Asia manager of M.Chapoutier, Stephane, sitting at the table next to us. (One of the drops we had that night was $750 a bottle, E@L found out later!)

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Biodynamic.

E@L thought, like you, that this is some fancy way of saying organic. Right? Sure, I’ll drink, thought E@L. They finished the free bottle, David was leaving with the other two (also Bordeaux or that ilk) bottles to take home as some of us (not E@L obviously) have to work on the morrow, so we settled the bill and left.

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Biodynamic: 9 points…

1: Bury cowshit in a cow’s horn in the soil over winter. Add to compost.
2: Bury ground quartz in a cow’s horn over summer. Add to compost.
3: Hang yarrow flowers in a stag’s bladder though summer and bury them over winter.
4: Chamomille, ditto in cow intestine.
5: Stinging nettles, bury in summer.
6: Bury oak bark the skull of a farm animal over winter.
7: Hang dandelion flowers in cow mesentry over summer, bury over winter, dig up in spring.
8: Spray valerian flower juice into the compost.
9: Give vines a nice cup of tea. Put fermented common horsetail (equisetum arvense) directly on to the vines or use a manure.

IKYN.

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Heard enough?

E@L’s opinion of this bioinsanity and its biodymaniacs? Have a guess. Why not have the vines do yoga? Why not give them coffee high-colonics? Why not allow them to discover themselves in an ashram in Goa?

Take E@L back to the plain old vinodiversity of the Barossa, please, please, please.

Fucking bionutters. Wine was OK, but fuck, do you really need this bullshit to wash down the cowshit?

E@L

p.s. eat at Wooloomooloo any chance you get. E@L wants to be a money-spun cash-cowshitillionaire!

I <3 Singapore – ish.

Posted in about to be kicked out of Singapore, foreign workers, Singapore by expatatlarge on March 12, 2012

This post is not *just* a shameless piece of self-aggrandizement (see prevous post) but after nearly 8 years here, E@L is forced to admit that he agrees with the opinions expressed in the following article.

Ten Reasons Why I Love Singapore.

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Six or seven years ago E@L would have ripped this article to shreds or at least rewritten it, emphasizing the negative aspects of the Singapore attributes that have been given a jocularly positive spin in this article.

Something like:

1. Efficiency
Yes, slave labour, stimulated by the threat of being burned with a hot iron or thrown out a 19th floor window, or merely by the promise from a snakehead people-trafficker of a salary marginally above the starvation levels of poverty you have left your family to wallow in at home (c.f. Slumdog Milionaire), will give you that.

2. Late-night Singapore
Late? LATE? You’ve never been to Hong Kong then. E@L once heard the expression: “If New York is the city that never sleeps, Hong Kong is the city that doesn’t even blink.” Singapore, even at its liveliest – when kids in pyjamas are playing in the Clarke Quay fountain at 11pm – can’t match it.

3. Anytime, anywhere
Nothing that you want. Everything that you already have. Such as “Singapore is a Fine City” fridge magnets. Grant you the omnipresent hookers though.

4. The small details matter
Like the 20c charge for the wet napkin, whether you use it or not.

5. Cheap parking
OK, parking is cheaper than Sydney, but that’s not saying much. The COE ensures that rational people avoid private transport. Only the poor are gullible enough to go into massive debt to buy a status symbol at twice its actual price, whereas the comfortably well off (i.e. E@L) call a taxi.

6. Reliable service
Reliably rude, off-hand and dismissive.

7. Changi Airport
Terminal 3. WTF. Built on a scale that anticipates the days when humans will be 30ft tall and can walk 2km in 7.8secs from a standing start. Ever lost luggage coming into Singapore? The people in the miniscule Lost Luggage Cupboard are usually asleep or absent or both. Never encountered such an inefficient bunch, and E@L has had lost luggage all over the place.

8. Predictable weather
God is laughing. Ha.

10. A multi-cultural city
Bloody whingeing Australians everywhere you look.

E@L

sgBlogs

Posted in blog stats, expats, Singapore by expatatlarge on March 11, 2012

E@L was wondering recently about where all the Singapore Expat blogs had gone, the few that were extant back when we all (MercerMachine and E@L) attended the Blogger.SG.2005 seem to have evaporated. Just as have many of his favorite political bloggers (MollyMeek and Xenoboy). He was looking for other Singapore blogs for that earlier post and found this site: sgBlogs for what it is worth.

He is not sure if people still troll for new blogs. E@L for one has enough to read already thank very much. But nevertheless Expatalarge is not their list so maybe a few potential abusers and flamers are missing to chance to call him a racist, xenophobic, foreign-talent sponger.

It’s true that Singapore is not main focus these days. Nothing is: E@L is both myopic and…the other one…exophthalmic? no!…presbyopic, when it comes to blog topics. Eclectic, that’s the word. No, unfocussed is the word. However, as he has noted earlier, his documentation of Orchard Towers with Bruce on the prowl is one of his most popular posts, and that’s about Singapore.

Now that SarongPartyGirl=Izzy is no longer his flatmate, has moved to Holland and effectively stopped blogging there’s not so much second-hand sexual excitement going down at E@LGHQ either.

E@L is not sure if he will meet the criteria of being Singapore “focused” anymore. In his employment E@L is responsible for the entire South-East Asian region, with very little Singapore contact these days (not that he ever had much), so he is more likely to find things that shock and horrify him elsewhere in SEA. He has abused Singapore enough for the moment and is quite inured to many of its peccadilloes. These only grate when people are new to town (nearly 8 years thank you very much, send flowers if you will) or, for him, whenever there is an elect…[sneeze – aaahh-ahfascism]…ion looming

So anyway, if the editors are agreeable that the historically Singaporean focus early on in E@L’s blog, particularly in its early incarnation, Expat-at-large, back when all things Singaporean irritated him, qualify him, they might, just might, let him onto the list, and ye who search for blogs from this region might find E@L and send his stats way up there… to somewhere just below Xiaxue…

Not that he gives a rat’s arse. (Then how come so many of his recent blogs have stats focused?)

Sigh

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E@L is attempting once again to get onto his extended semi-fictional documentation of the last 14 years. BTW.

E@L

[Addendum: all I’ve got out of this so far is getting Xiaxue on my FB feed.]

On The Prowl

Posted in exercise, hookers, Singapore by expatatlarge on February 15, 2012

Walking all the way back home from the pub quiz in Robertson Quay tonight, 4-5kms – a good hour of solid perambulation for E@L, if he can make it*. Much better shoes and sandals, lots of drugs for his bad feet and the determination to get more exercise after the shame and dishonour of wasting his recent Japan ski-trip (only one day of five on the slopes) because of his damnéd cardio-pulmonary impotence…

E@L has been pumping the asphalt (or doing c-p stuff in the gym; HR at 125bpm or so) every day, mostly, for the last two weeks. And is off the grog. It’s merely a matter of willpower, of becoming the person who you have chosen for yourself to be in the power of visualizing… yada yada. He’s on a diet and a get fit kick. Maybe it’s the massive negative incentive of having committed to give $5k to a cause he detest (maybe some TCM university studying how best to exterminate endangered species for fun and profit when aspirin or Viagra would work just as well – sorry, I mean would work; maybe the Scientology nutters…) if he can’t knock 10% off his body-weight in three (3, count ’em) months. Bruce is holding the signed cheque and will make the decision about where the money goes. Seriously, no muckin’ abart…

OK, fine. But why walk so far so late at night? It’s near enough to 11pm, for crying out loud. Who in their right mind would stay out this late? Get home and get to blog.

Ah. Taxi.

Or *no* taxis, more like. Never any taxis when you need them; you can wait in the queue as long as you like, hang on the phone as long as you like, send as many SMS bookings as you like. Nuh. None. Zip. Nada. Fuck it, may as well head off on shanks’ pony, in civilian clothes, man-bag over shoulder, see if he can make it all the way again, as he managed last week.

But the first serious bit of effort comes quick: the small hill that comes up from Mohammed Sultan to River Valley Rd. Know it? Maybe 200m of mild incline, perhaps 5deg. Not much, but it’s nearly enough to have him clutching as his chest, screaming for a Code Blue! E@L’s calves are burning just a bit more now as he treads firmly, refusing to slow down (he’s walking at snail’s pace orredy lah!), keeping that old ticker, um, ticking over, when…

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In front of one the older condos, by the driveway at the gate, are several – five, six – women. They are dressed pretty damn fancy; LBDs, CMF boots, draped in lights scarves, extremities be-ringed and be-bangled, ungulates adorned with painted-on scenery and pasted-on jewels. These ladies are not coming home from somewhere, they are heading out. Faces are made-up to show off high cheekbones, even if there aren’t any high cheekbones, eyelashes and eyebrows trimmed to augment the double eye-lid, the almond eyes, the exotic mien.

E@L feels he should be impressed with the effort that they have gone to.

All are smoking. Two are talking to each other with the precise clipped tones of Beijing Mandarin (it’s hard to tell if the words are friendly or not); the others are standing alone, looking away, looking for the taxis that E@L couldn’t find either. They appear hard, arms folded across their chests; harsh; they look older in the streetlight than they will; dim lights and alcohol will make them appear gorgeous in the early hours in the Japanese karaoke bars (they speak fluent Japanese, can drink sake and Chivas and sperm till the sun comes up) or in the dim black-light glow downstairs in Brix (at The Hyatt). Mainly they stand apart, they see enough of each other thanks, sleeping six to a room.

E@L plods past determinedly, almost breathless. Here’s another condo, here’s another pride of lionesses. None of them appear to notice him. These are not girls on the prowl for expats on the street; E@L is not part of tonight’s Target Demographic.

Maybe it was the way he pulled at the crotch of his sweaty underpants, new rash on the burn, phew, still going uphill, that said to them: “Not me, honey. At least not tonight.”

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Happy Valentines Day. Feeling romantic, obviously.

E@L

* got about halfway, road-rash settling in nicely thanks for asking, took the train at Somerset.

(Been glancing through You Bright And Risen Angels; William T “Voluble” Vollman; hence all the semi-colons.)

Bloggers, Blogging, Blogged, Buggered

I tend to forget that I am in Singapore sometimes. Yes, ambiguity intended. Sometimes I am in Singapore, and sometimes I forget this.

And so I don’t keep up with many Singaporean blogs. Read zero. At least since Mr Brown moved on to pod-casting, still funny and controversial but not really blogging IMHO. Xenoboy and MollyMeek have essentially disappeared. Then, of course, SPG moved into my apartment (temporarily, for a few years) and I could see what was going on in her life without having to read about it or admire the pictures of it (always a five minute warning sent when I was coming back from the airport.) Mainey quit from Kinokinuya so there was no chance of getting discount books (met her sister last week). VirginPornstar moved to Sydney after losing her virgin status and shut her blog down. Valkyrie’s spider’s all passed on, so I only see her when she comes to our place for D&D games (a while ago now, when Izzy was still here. Lovely lady, nice tattoos.)

However the complete absence of the bloggers I know is not the only reason I haven’t kept up with all local blogs that I know, There is one blogger I refuse to communicate with because of her criminally heartless treatment of one of my close friends. No names, no pack drill, as they say, and she is a lawyer so I’d probably get ripped a new arsehole if I linked to her after that comment.

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I’m not sure that there are any Singapore expat blogs I SHOULD be following, but there is nothing I need to know about bringing up babies, about local food or pet dogs or fashion or living advice for those on their first tour of duty.

I made an observation at the first/only Singapore Bloggers.sg.2005 bloggers meeting back in whenever, 2005 or so, about this, and the status hasn’t changed, at least for the people I know or should know. The taxi driver guy hasn’t published since April last year. Mike is now only talking about his burgeoning writing career (and you really should investigate his work – brilliant). Indy is back blogging under his Platypus moniker, but only about gaming and blowed if I can remember the link.

As a result, my blog is linked to by very few Singaporean expat bloggers. Read none. And it features on few of the lists that come up when you Google ‘Expat Bloggers Singapore’. Read none.

OK, I know I have a dedicated bunch of readers, a humble hi-5 guys and gals, but the list of followers is not expanding and my hits are practically non-existent compared to one or fifteen of the local blogs here.

Mind you my blog is pretty specialised. Specialised in a negative space way, excluded, preterite, I am the dark matter and background radiation hum of Singapore blogging that no-one sees unless they use sophisticated equipment to find it.

In fact my blog is damn useless: A list of complaints about toast and coffee with the occasional sex adventure of Bruce in Orchard Towers or Bangkok. Boring, right? Specialised topics, right?

Sigh.

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These thoughts were stimulated by a Chinese colleague – female – who says, yes, she glances at my blog every now and then but reads XiaXue every day. Every day. XiaXue gets the same hits per day as I have accumulated over the past 4 years, thanks to people like my colleague. I wish I could call her a dumb bitch, but she’s not. She does the same job as I do, so she’s obviously a genius.

But why the fuck do 380,000 people a week got to XiaXue’s blog? I’m not going to link to it because no matter what I say, if she finds out, she is bound to rip me a new arsehole. (I have met her once, briefly, seemed nice, completely ignored me.)

OK, new arsehole coming. It is completely beyond me what the pull is to her vacuous, narcissistic, rude and abusive tripe.

Completely. Beyond. Me.

As is popularity.

E@L

(Bit fretful of further damage to my arsehole it seems.)

On The Bedpost Overnight

Posted in about to be kicked out of Singapore, chewing gum, Singapore by expatatlarge on November 9, 2011

What is Singapore coming to? Yesterday, guess what E@L found on the sole of the left hand foot of his new walking shoes?

No, no that.

It was chewing gum!

USED chewing gum! Chewed up and spat out chewing gum! I felt like giving LKY a personal call to point out that the No1 son is falling down in his vigilance against the creeping tide of non-Asian Values!

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The history, just cheeking it up on Stickypedia, of the chewing gum ban is mouth-wateringly interesting. It was the new MRT subway system that prompted the ban as vandals – aka cheeky kids – were plugging over the sensors which prevented the doors from closing properly. And so it was the Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and not Harry Lee who stuck to his gums [sorry] guns in implementing this crackdown on illicit mastication with Singapore Statute Chapter 57, the Control of Manufacture Act.

But ban chewing gum? IS THAT ALL! E@L is thinking, what! old chums, hardly much of a punishment, eh? Cane the rambunctious little rascals, trousers down, six of the best, never did us any harm. As we used do for your typical common or railroad urban artists, wherever they be from.

The ban is not complete, as sugarless chewing-gum has been available in Singapore since 2004 for it can’t be denied, apparently, that calcium lactate can boost the strength of enamel. This medicated gum can only be sold by dentists or pharmacists now and the gum is RFID controlled and DNA tagged. Hand over that ID card you cheeky kid, we’ve got you sequenced. Any problems with the MRT doors and we’ll know if it was you! … No, stop crying, lad, I was only having a laugh, big boys don’t cry, here have a lolly…

(aside 1) Bringing a large bag of chewing-gum packets purchased in the Hong Kong airport in through carry-on luggage is not something E@L would ever unless it was for a pretty lady, because it remains illegal to import.

(aside 2) One finds it a tad ironic to consider that what we are chewing is basically flavored latex (or artificial substitute), and it was on the back of the Malayan rubber plantations that the port city of Singapore rode to its pre-war prosperity.

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There was some gnashing of teeth and chewing of the fat during the time when USA and Singapore were going through free-trade talks (remember that hilarious one about Free Trade and Democracy going hand in hand, so funny) at the turn of the century. [I’m looking for reports on the Dreyfus Case, or I go wool-gathering in Antiques Shoppes when I hear that phrase.] Staunch defenders of the Rights Of Man were there to assist our world leaders make the right decision…

Here we see GWB smiling, smirking, leering – what is that stupid look? – as PM Tong stabs himself in the back of the hand with a pointy-nib pen, surrounded by members of the Wrigley’s Iraq task force (see below).

— “In 1999, United States President Bill Clinton and Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong agreed to initiate talks between the two countries for a bilateral free trade agreement (USS-FTA).[5] The talks later continued under the new administration of President George W. Bush. Details of the closed-door negotiations are unknown, but it became apparent that by the final phase of the negotiation in early 2003, there remained two unrelated issues: the War in Iraq and chewing gum.” (from the above linked Wiki) —

IKYfuckingN.

Yes, that’s why they were there, because if Wrigley’s doesn’t stand up for Truth, Justice and the (vaguely formulated – no-one has ever convincingly explained to E@L what exactly is meant by this) American Way*, then who will! And why were Wrigley’s brought in, you ask? Was there no wriggle room in the negotiations, couldn’t they stretch things more, was there no bounce in their step, were things stuck in the craw and wouldn’t go down, would the fruit of the discussion not be juicy? Yes Wrigley’s should, indeed, must be involved in the battles which threaten the good of humankind and its salivary secretions. And their long term philosophical profit.

Singapore, indeed everyone should heed the sage advice offered by Wrigley’s who fought strongly enameled tooth and nail for the Iraq War Juicy Fruit Concession or JFC [requires disambiguation], when they had this to say, and not tongue in cheek either, about the efforts they put in to encourage Singapore to relax its ban.

“There’s many examples in our history of things that may have not made short-term financial sense but was the right thing to do in a philosophical or long-term sense,” said Christopher Perille, Wrigley’s senior director of corporate communications. (ibid) —

Believe it or not he was talking about Singapore Oral Latex Laws and not the Iraq War. Truer words were never choked upon.

E@L

* What about the Asian Values, what about the Singaporean Way? — ‘… as a sovereign state, Singapore had the right to formulate its own policies based on its own unique political and cultural values.’ —

Taxi-Twitch

Posted in sigh, Singapore, taxis by expatatlarge on August 26, 2011

E@L is in a taxi and the driver goes the wrong way (i.e. the long way) and is an ancient man with serious twitching issues (sigh – E@L attracts taxi drivers with Tourettes the way Bruce attracts desperate hookers) and, as he assumes all expats require refrigeration, has the air-con set to cryonics. He seems nervous and when E@L mumbles something about turning right and not left he looks back at E@L briefly in the mirror with a expression close to fear in his copper-cornea eyes and the twitches accelerate, though the taxi does not. He seems an overly cautious driver, perhaps because of poor vision and liver disease, perhaps because he wants to give snails a chance to get out of the way.

Taxi-uncle is slowly building up speed as they approach an intersection where he has to turn right (to correct his navigational error) and as the lane breaks off from the forward lane and starts to expand into two where the median strip narrows, he drives in the invisible fourth lane (so common in Asia, but also seen in Italy and France) between all the others.

E@L says, “Uncle…”

“WHAT!?” he screams in a panic and slams on the brakes; E@L is tossed forward, well he is forced to lean a little bit forward as the car screeches to a halt and blocks both of the right turn lanes and half the forward lane…

They are lucky there are no speeding cars, heavily loaded trucks, cement mixers, emergency or military (some army place full of ancient Jeeps nearby) vehicles coming up behind them (they have all overtaken the taxi already) or E@L would not be typing this.

No-one, in fact, would be typing this: if a post-mortem hacker tried to break into one of the four (including tab) computers they’d fail as E@L’s password is unbreakable. No, not “unbreakable” but, you know,like difficult to crack. No, not “difficulttocrack” but … Oh, you get the point. No, “yougethepoint” is also NOT E@L’s password.

OK admission, it is “password”, the No2 most common password in the world of cybersecurity (E@L is always second best, where is the justice in that?) and the encrytped sub-directory with all the good porn is called “allthegoodporn, and the password is “unbreakable”.

[In Unrelated News: Winning joke at the Headinbra comedy festival: “The computer asked for an eight character password, so I chose Snow White and The Seven Dwarves.” Boom boom!]

“Um,” says E@L, completely amazed by the taxi-uncle’s slight overreaction, but he continues, “uncle, could you please turn the air-con down…”

Taxi-uncle nods a few times quickly and mumbles something in an apologetic tone The taxi starts to move again, slowly enough for him to turn the fan down a notch way before they reach the intersection.

E@L slowly shakes head, puts his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of nose, sighs, etc…

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E@L

Hemlock on Singapore, E@L on Singapore

Posted in politics, Singapore, WTF by expatatlarge on May 18, 2011

[Another post that no-one will read, except maybe the Gahmen spies.]

Here is a brief paragraph on Singapore and LKY from the blog of Hong Kong legend Hemlock (some big-rich-dude’s paid blogger allegedly), Big Lychee and Various Sectors:

It looks like the sort of shallow, vindictive, spiteful and constitutionally and ethically dubious bit of electoral jiggery-pokery Lee Kuan Yew would have come up with, had opposition legislators existed in meaningful numbers back in the days when the carrier of the world’s mightiest human DNA was single-handedly carving Asia’s pinnacle of civilization out of a garbage-strewn wasteland of undisciplined, gum-chewing, inferior humanity.

Hemlock is about to analyze/demolish a constitutional change in Hong Kong in which:

As of 2012, if a democratically elected (as opposed to the other sort) Hong Kong Legislative Council member resigns or otherwise leaves his seat, there will be no by-election: the runner-up in his constituency will automatically replace him.

It does sound very much like a PAP (Lee Kuan Yue’s People’s Action Party) stunt doesn’t it? If only LKY had thought of it. Hang on, maybe he did? Someone want to check that?

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This fiery prose has of course inflamed E@L – he is fired up over the political system here in Singapore thanks to a slew of head-slapping activities before the recent election. If he is not blogging for the next few years, check the dank, dark, fetid basement of Singapore’s equivalent to Stalin’s Lubyanka prison.

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Compared to Hong Kong (or so I believe), the structure of some of the Singapore electorates is already set-up in such a way that it is very difficult for an opposition party to make inroads and get candidates into parliamentary seats in the first place, let alone have them worry about what happens when they resign or retire hurt.

The Group Representation Constituencies (GRC )system in Singapore was set-up initially to allow minorities (like Malays and Indians) the chance to become parliamentarians. However, since the GRC was introduced, it is claimed that the ratio of minority groups (in parliament) has decreased!

How do the GRCs work (approximately)?** Groups of up to six candidates from each party stand in the GRC representing up to the six individual electoral wards that are now contained with the GRC. Each of these contained electorates may be contested by opposition party candidates and they may even win! But the seats in Parliament go not to those who won individually, but to the group of six (three, four, five) candidates from the party with the highest aggregate of votes across the GRC. WTF? So opposition candidates may win several electorates within the GRC, but still not get into Parliament, whereas their dumb-ass, wife-of-a-minster’s-principal-secretary opponents from the PAP ride in on the coat-tails of a popular PAP candidate (like said minister) who calls in a huge number of votes and thus takes the GRC with him. Essentially a GRC is a way to stuff the parliament with PAP members with a minium of fuss. Why not just make all of Singapore one single GRC? Fair question.

Electoral borders for GRCs and electorates are carefully gerrymandered, building by building, floor by floor, flat by flat, bedroom by bedroom [joking! almost], so that, when the boundaries are announced only a few days before the election, the opposition is scrambling to work out where they should have been campaigning for the contest. The decision on GRC boundaries is in the PM’s department’s bailiwick. Any surprise there?

To top this off, voters in the electorates which vote against the government, even those electorates within PAP held GRCs, are outrageously harassed with threats of second-class treatment when it come to infrastructure works, such as the upgrading of HDB lifts (some of which only stop every second floor).

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Somehow with the PAP vote dropping to 60%, from 66.6% last election and the lowest ever, they still managed to lose only one seat (from 82 of 84, to 81 of 87) although the percentage changes slightly due to the extra seats and the WP win. One must wonder what is going on. 60% of the vote and 93% of the seats, you do the math.

Yes, you heard right. There was an amazing turn-around this election, two ministers and four other parliamentarians were defeated in the GRC of Aljeneid by contenders from the Worker’s Party. The now former Foreign Minister George Yeo (about the only competent guy in the PAP, I hear) is gone. Amazing.

And to find talented people to replace him, the PAP will be up against it. Their members have never had to battle hard to win. Despite being extremely well paid the Singaporean parliamentarians (there is a thread viraling [new word!] FB and forums that the 30 most highly paid politicians in the world – not among the top 30, but THE top 30 – are Singaporeans) they have never had to seriously defend any of their policies against any strong opposition questions. Some can hardly speak in public, like blatant coat-tailer (but cute) Tin Pei Ling. In short they are lacking depth, talent and experience, whereas the opposition parties are bulking up their leaders with new blood.

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LKY, his PAP and Singapore: A city, and part of a continent. No true democracy. Why? Which is it? Not enough talent for a two party system, as PM Lee Hsien Loong says, or is all of Asia not ready for Western-style Democracy, as the received wisdom (received from Tunkul Mohammed Mahatir, or was it Uncle LKY?) had it when the Tiger Economies were in that boiling and bubbling cauldron prior to the 1998 crash?

In response to this essentially Chinese attitude, alleged Malaysian sodomite (not that there’s anything wrong with that) Amwar Ibrahim made some plangent comments about Confucian values versus Western attitudes to government a while ago. These comments were discussed in an article on the Singapore Democrats website last year:

Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and the leader of Partai Keadilan in Malaysia maintained that there were still apologists, diehard sceptics and proponents of autocracy who say that democracy is not meant for all cultures because it is largely a Western construct and certainly not the only system for the rest of the world. “Asian values[“?], for example, are said to be inherently incompatible with liberal democracy. The argument goes that the fundamental teachings of Confucius place great importance on filial piety and submission to state authority. He said that in Asia leaders of opposition parties and dissidents were incarcerated under draconian laws and no effort was spared in the war against ‘subversive elements’ and the ‘enemies’ of the people. He said that that the Asian values’ argument and ‘we-are-not-yet-ready-for-democracy’ excuse as nothing more than a doctrine for the justification of authoritarian rule. “There are still governments that are founded on the perpetuation of power not by free and fair elections but from arbitrary succession from the father to the son, or from one military clique to another, or even from one power elite to the next. And there are those who appear to have all the characteristics of a liberal democracy in so far as their domestic governance is concerned but they continue to violate human rights with impunity.”

No wonder they wanted him out of the way. He tells it like it is, allegedly.

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With the way the Singapore elections are set-up, it is not the success of the Tiger economy style of Asia (free markets, expensive politicians) nor the people’s support for paternalistic and serf-like Confucian values which contribute to the ruling parties winning again. As Ibramin says, it is blasting opposition members into bankruptcy and jail, detaining rebels – who refuse to apologize to LKY – without trial for up to 23 years (Communist Party member Chia Thye Poh is the longest political detainee in the 20th century, longer than Nelson Mandela, longer possibly than the Man In The Iron Mask), last-minute gerrymandering, and the vote-stacking system of the GRC that so far have enshrined the dynasty of the Lee family.

Dynasty? The Great Man, Lee Kwan Yue and his son(!), Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong are Chairman and Deputy Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) which runs Singapore’s foreign reserves around the world (about US$330 billion), and Hsien Loong’s wife(!) is a director of Temasek Holdings which handles investments primarily in Asia (about US$186 billion).

Dinner table conversation must be interesting.

“Have we fucked up any major investments lately, dad? What about you, honey?”

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Enough. Apologies for the bad logic, grammar and typing. No time fix just yet.

E@L

** This paragraph amended.

Freedom Come, Freedom Go…

Posted in about to be kicked out of Singapore, economics, freedom, maids, Singapore, torture by expatatlarge on January 20, 2011

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Several snippets that highlight the contradiction that is the beloved Little Red Dot, i.e. Singapore.

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1: Singapore once again rates highly in the 2011 Heritage Foundation (and WSJ) Index of Economic Freedom. A close second behind Hong Kong, and just ahead of Australia,

[ Aside: Australia comes in 3rd presumably because the Huge Mining Coroprations of Australia recently showed the ease with which they could a) rip the guts out of the country, b) sell it to China and c) change any government that has the temerity to say, “Whoa, enough already, you greedy arseholes, what about letting the small companies have a go? Here’s a tax on your obscene profits (that’s money left over after all that needed to be spent has been spent) that will provide funding for a scheme that will guarantee truly fair competition for small exploration companies as opposed to the monopolies and cartels that you behemoths call capitalism.”

But I came here not to praise Australia, but to bury Singapore.]

An article in Asia Times Online deconstructs the Heritage’s methodology, and makes not just a few points about this so-called freedom. For a start they are talking specifically of economic freedom here.

This is not First Amendment friendly stuff. They examine how easy, for example, it is to run roughshod over worker’s rights, and sometimes, when they fall out of the trailer trucks that carry them to the construction site, workers themselves. Sorry I meant to say the “flexibility” of the workforce – flexible enough to bend over backward in order to get any job and to be hired and fired on a whim. Slavery would rate highly on this sort of index – oops, did someone mention how some domestic workers are treated here in Whip-a-poor?

According to the Heritage website, “Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”

That roughly translates as work, consume, die peoples. When I was growing up in Oz, this was not was meant by freedom.

The blinkered simplification of a word like “freedom” without qualification, almost reminds me of the times that George H Bush used to come to the Asian Tiger economies sprouting talk of how free markets and free societies run hand in hand, or was it run with wolves in sheep’s clothing?… *cough* *cough* “hhhuuuurrrrrkkkk* Oops, sorry, choking on a bit of vomit there…

John Raulston Saul tore that simplistic truism of Bush Snr’s a new arsehole as I remember, in The Collapse Of Globalisation, a few years back.

Then some genuine irony, I mean a conundrum – Hong Kong which ranks #1 in the Economic Freedom Index, also rates extremely highly in freedom of speech and freedom of association, to the point of near anarchy! The exact opposite of what Singapore maintains is the essential political stance for its own economic success! How come?

According to Joe Studwell’s Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, it is not because of their political systems at all, but because the families that run them are slightly less corrupt and self-serving than the families that run the countries around them. (About 20 families run Asia. One family runs Singapore and takes in about 60% of its GDP.) It’s a lay-down misère (in Australia that means a certain win, not a certain loss) for business where to invest in Southeast Asia or lower China. Fascism or anarchism, it doesn’t make a difference if the ports are free and pay-offs are minimal.

Anyway, point of story, don’t confuse your freedoms…

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2. In completely unrelated news about freedom (of speech and association), the leader of the Singapore’s main opposition party, The Singapore Democrats, Dr Chee Soon Juan, appeal has failed and has been fined $20,000 and given a 20 week jail term (again).

His crime?

Speaking to people.

Talking to people.

Out loud.

In Singapore.

Where you need a licence to talk (or write on a blog, See point #5, below).

Dr Chee is the guy who, in a previous period of incarceration (he’s in jail more than he’s out of it) was sprayed with cold water and made to stand in front of an air-conditioner. It’s not water-boarding but it’s not 100% pleasant either, even in Singapore’s constantly hot, muggy weather.

Of course that fact that this blatantly political result has gone through in a period leading up to what the ruling family party, the PAP, laughingly call an election, does not reveal anything about the judiciary in Singapore. Not one bit.

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3: Singaporeans are disappearing race(s). In a town that complains of too many foreigners (like me), the locals are not doing enough fucking to breed more locals. The birth rate of 1.16 is way below what is required to replace the population let alone grow it. At this rate Singapore will invert into its own belly button in 20-25 minutes, which is about the time it takes for a Singaporean to find his dick and put on a condom. According to the authorities, it is the Singaporean’s fault for not having babies. Too lazy to fuck.

Izzy, who camped at E@LGHQ for fortnight over New Years, put me onto a great quote from blogger Menwongth.

One of my friends, a born-and-bred white-collar Singaporean in her early thirties, married with no children and no intention of having them, commented that some species just don’t breed in captivity.

That’s not a hundred miles from the truth Gerald Giam (linked above) of the Worker’s Party, says; the falling birth is due to “too busy at work, cost of living too high, education system too stressful for children (and their parents), cannot find a place of their own to stay.” (My emphasis.)

It’s not increased competition from “foreign talent” (like me) but from cheap, unskilled workers for the service industry out of mainland China or skilled(ish) builders from the sub-continent who can be hired for up to a 1/3 lower salaries. The Singaporeans have to work longer, faster, cheaper in order to compete.

Too busy. No place for privacy, no time for sex, lah.

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4: Domestic workers are overpaid. When the wages of slavery rise to the point that Singaporeans rebel, does this mean they are threatening to match the conditions of Hong Kong, where maids can earn more than double, up to about $S1,000 per month and, horror of horrors, they get a day off each week!

Not quite, but an easy solution strikes me. Maybe those Singaporeans who have been squeezed out of work by the foreign talent can drop their extortionate domestic helpers, and utilize the free time given by their own unemployment to wash their own dishes, do their own ironing, fall out their own windows and wipe the arses of their own incontinent aged parents (who themselves lost their employment as Kopitiam cleaning aunties due to foreign talent).

And the ladies might also find the opportunity to squeeze out more babies and rescue the country from irrelevance.

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5. The website where I read most of these stories , The Online Citizen (via Facebook actually) has been gazetted, whatever the fuck that means, to register as a political association, despite being merely a conduit for political news from a variety of sources.

This means, even though it is a loosely (dis)organized community blog, not an organisation, it has to conform to rules that apply to political parties, such a transparency in its leaders and funding and the banning of foreign sources.

The immensely wise and amusing Singapore blogger mr brown, himself once silenced by the Singapore media authorities, takes this latest news to ad ridiculum lengths by suggesting that even taxi-drivers should be gazetted.

[Singabloodypore, run by a former “foregn talent” from Scotland, is also on still top things in Singapore as well.]

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Enough for the moment. Bangkok work is quiet, hence the lengthy blogging. Time to go for a blowjob massage.

E@L