| July 2005 |

A Moral Question

The death of Mr Jean Charles de Menezes was very unfortunate. He was shot dead by the police even though he was completely unconnected to the attempted terrorist bombings in London.

It is true that the British police are working under intense pressure to hunt down the terrorists who carried out this terrible act and to prevent the same tragedy from happening. Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police chief, even acknowledged that more innocent people could be shot as the hunt continued.

A moral question is raised here. Is it okay to sacrifice an innocent life, if this can potentially save thousands? Not surprisingly, most British readers are supportive of their police. After two consecutive terrorist bombings in as many weeks, many British are edgy about safety and security in their own country. Their mentality is likely to be that of “better them than us” and “shoot first, ask questions later.”

This is understandable; I will probably adopt the same attitude if terrorists were to strike Singapore. However, such behaviour will only alienate Muslim communities even more. We should put ourselves in their shoes and look at the situation from their perspective too.

It is worth putting some thoughts into the question raised by Mr Yusof Yahya:

Could Britain accept it if an innocent British man was shot by three Brazilian plain-clothed policemen in the name of terror in Rio de Janeiro?

24 July 2005 · Politics · Comments (2)

Plagiarism is the Best Compliment

I’ve just uploaded two more sets of photos to the photo section. They are a little outdated, but looking at them more than a year later brings back fond memories.

In addition, comments are no longer allowed in the photo section. SG Watch has become a target for comment spammers, and it’s not unusual for me to receive more than 300 comments a day asking me to visit online casinos. I don’t understand why companies would willingly pay these spammers huge sums of money to make life difficult for us, when the probability of anyone clicking on the links is virtually zero.

Looking on the bright side, it means SG Watch is popular enough for spammers to take notice. In fact, someone actually ripped my design. But since he bothered to credit me for the original design, I decided to let the matter rest. After all, plagiarism is the best compliment.

Not that I encourage all to do the same. There are already quite a few people who used my photos without my acknowledgement. And perhaps due to their ignorance, they were directly linking to those photos; this means I was paying for the bandwidth whenever someone views the photos on their websites! The problem has since been remedied without the exchange of angry emails; but I might have to resort to more drastic measures if the same situation arises again — like knocking on their doors with a machete in hand.

Please email me if you wish to use anything from SG Watch. A little courtesy certainly helps, and I always reciprocate in kind.

22 July 2005 · Site · Comments (0)

Camp

This is an extract from the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin DSO who was among the first British soldiers to liberate Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and I were to spend the next month of our lives. It was just a barren wilderness, as bare as a chicken run. Corpses lay everywhere, some in huge piles, sometimes they lay singly or in pairs where they had fallen.

It took a little time to get used to seeing men women and children collapse as you walked by them and to restrain oneself from going to their assistance. One had to get used early to the idea that the individual just did not count. One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect.
It was, however, not easy to watch a child choking to death from diphtheria when you knew a tracheotomy and nursing would save it, one saw women drowning in their own vomit because they were too weak to turn over, and men eating worms as they clutched a half loaf of bread purely because they had to eat worms to live and now could scarcely tell the difference. Piles of corpses, naked and obscene, with a woman too weak to stand propping herself against them as she cooked the food we had given her over an open fire; men and women crouching down just anywhere in the open relieving themselves of the dysentery which was scouring their bowels, a woman standing stark naked washing herself with some issue soap in water from a tank in which the remains of a child floated.

It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived — though it may have no connection — that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick.

I wish so much that I could discover who did it. It was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick.

At last someone had done something to make them individuals again; they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance.

That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

21 July 2005 · History · Comments (0)

Back for Good

I’m finally back in Singapore for good after four long years. Part of me doesn’t want to leave Toronto; but even with all the great friends I’ve made over there, there is only one place that truly feels like home. No more shelling out a quarter more above the menu prices for tips and taxes in order to have a decent meal, when I can now sweat it out in the open-air hawker centres for just $3. No more checking the weather network to decide whether to wear five or six layers of clothing before heading to school, when I can just look up the sky to know the weather before heading out in my favourite beach bum attire. I’m still not used to the heat and humidity yet, but at least I get to play basketball outdoors.

I’m already itching to go for two more trips even though I’ve only been back for less than a week. Howe is thinking of going to Taman Negara this weekend, and my parents will be going to Taiwan to visit my sister and family in two weeks’ time. I ought to start looking for a job soon; but on the flipside, I wouldn’t get to travel much once I start working. That’s what I hate about adulthood — it always involves making tough decisions. Gone were the days when your parents will give up their share so that you can have the cake and eat it. Now, not only you can’t have your cake and eat it, you have to pay for it.

On another note, the horoscope seems to be getting more accurate:

Your feet probably still haven’t touched the ground since that “coincidentalâ€? encounter — or would “magicalâ€? be a better word to describe it? Well, regardless of what you call it, it’s only the beginning.

I certainly hope so.

04 July 2005 · My Life · Comments (2)

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