Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Release & Screen Banned JBJ Film


This country today mourns the loss of one of its sons, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam.

In April 2001, under the instructions of its then leadership, officers from Singapore's media regulators raided Ngee Ann Polytechnic and confiscated film equipment and tapes after three lecturers had made a documentary about the late J B Jeyaratnam.

The justification of your team then was that it had violated a prohibition in the Films Act. That prohibition can now no longer stand. I hope, with the passing of J B Jeyaretnam, your officers will now release the film.

I hope Ngee Ann Polytechnic will make the request for the confiscated film equipment and tapes to be released to it.

Three lecturers had been involved in making the film. They offered apologies. They were also reprimanded. One resigned, and the remaing two chose to remain silent. I hope Ngee Ann Polytechnic will now arrange for the full stories of these film-makers to be told.

Similarly, I also hope the Media Development Authority will encourage journalists and other media professionals, who had covered J B Jeyaretnam in his lifetime to talk about their experiences covering him. It is important for these stories to be told uninhibited so that lessons can be learnt to better assess the legacy of J B Jeyaretnam.

Both the Media Development Authority and Ngee Ann Polytechnic should jointly arrange the screening of this film. Both organisations can perhaps also look into collaborating to make a more comprehensive film to honour the legacy of J B Jeyaretnam.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Investigative Journalism & Foreign Workers


1. Some years ago, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong stood up and argued that there is no place for investigative journalism in Singapore.

2. Several have begged to differ. The above Al-Jazeera English video underscores the case of those who disagree with SM Goh.

3. Of course, one has to view this video with a pinch of salt since it features no official response from Singapore.

4. Nevertheless, considering the story was aired over a week ago (according to the Youtube link above), there has been no official reaction from Singapore's Ministry of Manpower to this video too.

5. Usually, the Singapore Government is quick to react to issues that are raised by reputable international media, especially those available in Singapore.

6. Perhaps, there are similar stories that Singapore's own local media will find the courage to pursue. But then again it would not be in Singapore's national interest to have its own local media publicise its less than satisfactory laundry, would it?

7. There are precedents, however. For example, The Straits Times' shaming of National Kidney Foundation's excesses.

8. As a result of this initiative, Singapore now has a more accountable National Kidney Foundation. It has also led to higher standards of corporate governance within the charity landscape as a whole.

9. Thank you, Prashant, for sharing this video with me.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Report Investment Cheats To Police

In recent days, the Monetary of Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued at least three press statements to address concerns raised by investors of structured products. I have read that independent parties will now deal with the complaints of such investors and review the calculation of payouts offered by at least one financial institution.

Such moves are unprecedented by MAS and the financial institutions. The collective reaction is probably intense enough to prompt them into such action.

I have also heard that some persons believe that they have been cheated into purchasing these products and are victims of illegality.

I am not sure how true this is. I have not read any reports of the police commencing an investigation into the incidents. Such claims can only adversely affect our financial system.

Nevertheless, if you feel you are the victim of an act that you think is a criminal offence, make a police report. Let the police (in particular here, the Commercial Affairs Department) investigate the incident and clear the air.

This is perhaps more constructive than merely protesting someone cheated you.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Changed Singapore Dream Means More Flee City of Possibilities


Get a good education, work hard, save money, get married, own homes, make babies, retire and enjoy the fruits of your labour - this was once the Singapore Dream.

In the last 5 years, I know of several friends who have left Singapore because that Singapore Dream, which was once achievable, is now more distant.

A majority of these friends who have left are married.

To some, the decision was very clear and a no-brainer. There was a better quality of life waiting for them beyond the Singapore shores even though it came at the expense of higher taxes.

Some thought long and hard before making this decision. At least one of them even purchased a property in Singapore and was thinking of having children here. But the more they contemplated, the more they got sucked into the rat race and realised that this was a life they did not wish to lead.

Life, to them, is not about stashing away more and more money in their bank accounts but about leading a contented life. And, since they left, they have not regretted making that decision.

Another group of these friends are single and homosexual. They feel strongly, for various reasons, that they cannot live a life of dignity in Singapore. Legislation such as Section 377A of the Penal Code also impedes them from being themselves.

They are now happily settled elsewhere, either still single or attached by civil partnerships to other males. Most enjoy a standard of living higher than they would have in Singapore. One friend has even adopted a new identity in the interest of his family, who remain in Singapore.

Of course, there are another group of friends who have left simply because they can make more money elsewhere. To them, a personal priority is to save as much as they can early in life so that, later in life, they can retire blissfully.

Some years ago, at a Singapore International Foundation event for foreign undergraduates, I asked the then Minister for Law & Foreign Affairs, Professor Shanmugam Jayakumar, about this trend.

He basically made statements to the following effect. There is nothing or little the Government can do to change the minds of those leaving Singapore, and that Singapore should continue to focus its efforts on attracting foreign talent.

This was at a time when the Singapore Government was dishing out scholarships to foreign students and citizenships to foreign sportsmen. We would only realise much later that some of these sportsmen would flee the country as soon as they had accumulated their bounty!

Thankfully, Shanmugam Jayakumar’s view has not been a view shared by the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has set up the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) in the Prime Minister’s Office and made it the direct agenda of his office to reconnect Singapore with Singaporeans who have left.

How well the OSU will do remains unclear, especially in light of more developments, which are encouraging or enabling more Singaporeans to leave Singapore.

Since stepping down as Prime Minister, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has gone on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East to promote Singapore and Singaporean talent.

This has created new opportunities for some, like an uncle of mine, who, after reaching their mid-40s, faced great difficulty finding jobs here. These experienced persons are now being talent-spotted for work in the Middle East in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

Another Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Lim Boon Heng, is pushing for more people to work beyond the retirement age and lobbied very hard for legislation to make employers offer re-employment to those above 62 years old.

My folks and I do not buy this idea that one has to work for life or beyond the retirement age. There is so much more to do in life after retirement.

Like some of those who have left, they are thinking of liquidating some of their assets to purchase a retirement home in Thailand or India where the cost of living is comparatively cheaper.

I also know of many older friends who have purchased homes in Penang and Malacca in Malaysia or moved to Australia or New Zealand, because that is where they wish to eventually retire.

Today, the Singapore Dream has changed: get a good education, work hard, save money, get married, own homes, make babies, retire and then keep on working.

As a result, many more find themselves abandoning the Singapore Dream and fleeing this city of possibilities.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Meeting A Lawyer

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a dispute with another party. You decide to seek legal advice on the matter. And you ask, "What do I need to do before I approach a lawyer?"


It is always good to get legal advice when you have a dispute with another party. Make sure the lawyer whose advice you seek has done similar work in the past. If the lawyer has not, you should ideally find a lawyer who has done equivalent or similar work.


You should make the best use of the lawyer's time when you first meet the lawyer. Usually, the first meeting enables the lawyer to make a general assessment about the strength of your case and to also provide you a quote for the work that the lawyer will undertake. Depending on the lawyer, the first meeting may also be complimentary. To make best use of the lawyer's time, you need to go into the lawyer's office prepared.


It will therefore be useful to put a comprehensive file together before you meet the lawyer. Such a file will help a lawyer better understand your case and provide a more accurate quote for his or her legal fees.

The file should contain:

1. A list providing the identities of all the parties involved in the dispute, including information about your identity.

2. All the documents relevant to the dispute, especially correspondences that you received and material that you have signed or agreed to. If you are not sure if a document is relevant to the dispute, flag it up but include it in the file. Let the lawyer make an assessment if the document is relevant.

3. A chronology of the events leading up to the current state of affairs. This is like a milestone chart and will enable a lawyer to get a snapshot of the dispute.

4. A statement containing your side of the story. This will be useful in helping the lawyer to understand your dispute. Be as concise and precise as possible. Use headings and bold or underline parts that you think are important. Recall in detail particularly any verbal meetings you had with the other parties involved in the dispute. Do feel free in your statement to make references to the material you have prepared in (1) - (3) above.

5. A list of questions for your lawyer to address.

6. Your objective, that is what you want to achieve from the dispute resolution process. This will help the lawyer understand your expectations.

Before going to meet the lawyer, make two copies of the file. One for your lawyer and the other for your own reference.

Finally, update the file as the dispute progresses. This will be useful if you decide to change lawyers later.


The Law Society of Singapore offers more insights into Seeing Your Lawyer. You may find it useful too in preparing for your first meeting with your lawyer.

Dharmendra Yadav

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The Taste of India

Enough said.

(Note: I am not sure as to the source of this picture. If you know the source, please let me know.)

Dharmendra Yadav

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Use Lawyer For Injury Claims

A young professional was involved in a road accident some time last year, where he was hospitalised for various injuries. He was a pillion-rider on a motorcycle.

After being discharged, he also realised that he would have permanent scars on some parts of his body. He had judiciously kept all his medical bills and the receipts of transportation expenses he incurred following the accident.

Following his discharge from hospital, he made a claim against the motorcycle's insurer.

The insurer initially offered to pay his medical bills and offered a few hundred dollars to him as compensation.

The young professional approached me, as he was not sure if he should accept the offer. I told him to appoint a lawyer to get independent advice and to deal with the insurance company.

He said he wasn't sure if he could afford a lawyer. I shared that some lawyers may be willing to hold off payment until the conclusion of the matter, that is after the insurer had made him a compensation.

He shopped around and found a lawyer, who agreed to do so and subject to payment of a nominal deposit.

The lawyer secured for him a settlement at least ten times higher than the meagre compensation initially offered to him.

If you are involved in an accident, where you are a victim, seek legal advice about your rights before making a settlement with an insurer. Often, an insurer prefers to swiftly close the matter and, in accepting a quick settlement, you may compromise your interests.

When appointing a lawyer, make sure you ask the lawyer about his or her track record in cases involving traffic accident victims. An experienced and competent lawyer can help secure a fairer settlement for you.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jokes From Readers


"Dharmendra Yadav was in the queue for F1 tickets when he felt someone massaging him. He turned around and saw an elderly Chinese man.

"What do you think you are doing," Dharma asked.

"Pardon me," said the Chinese man, "I am in the massage business so I decided to practice a little while waiting in the queue."

Dharma said, "I am a lawyer but do you see me screwing the guy in front."



"Dharmendra Yadav goes to England and asks his PR man to give him a new name. His PR man calls back the next day to tell him his new name. Kling Eastwood."


1. Readers, who prefer to remain anonymous, recently shared the two jokes above on this blog.

2. I am not sure if they jokes are adapted from elsewhere. I thought they are rather creative. And I wanted to share these with other readers.

3. My friends often share that this blog is too serious. To the readers who sent those jokes, thank you for sharing. Please do keep them coming. It will help keep this blog less serious!

4. I am not sure what's with the ending "Om" in the first joke. Perhaps, the reader is alluding to the beautiful Hindu word often chanted by believers of Sanatana Dharma in the world over. In certain parts of the world, I do get people offering to massage me while I wait in a queue. I think it is a great idea. What better way to kill time!

5. In the second joke, I am not sure what's a PR man. A superhero of sorts, maybe? And, unfortunately, I still don't catch the Kling Eastwood part.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Motivation For Success


A friend today shared with me about how he stretched himself in order to achieve financial independence.

When he first started work, he set himself a goal to purchase a car that could take to and fro work. He saved enough money to buy a car in his first year of work.

Then, he set himself a goal of buying a property. He bought a private apartment with a couple of bedrooms soon after. Recently, he sold the apartment to purchase a bungalow.

He said, every time he decided to use his money in such a manner, he was forced to save money and watch his expenses. By taking on such liabilities, he was also motivated to work harder and stretch himself. This, in turn, enabled him to be more successful.

It reminded me of something else another friend had shared some years ago.

Many parents only have children when they can afford to raise one. This friend has three children. He said, every time his wife gave birth, it would motivate him to find a way to afford that child.

Today, he is studying at a top business school. He also has a successful business. Some years ago, his wife secured a double promotion at work. Having more children motivated them to be more successful.

We have different motivations for success. It is important to find the motivation that will stretch us.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recognise and Reward Paralympians Fairly


This week, a disabled athlete ensured that the national anthem of Singapore was heard for the first time at the Paralympic Games, held in Beijing. The Paralympic Games shares the same international status as the Olympic Games.

Yip Pin Xiu, since Monday, is the first Singapore athlete to win gold at the games when she came in first in a swimming event.

The newspaper, Today, dubbed her “Singapore’s Golden Girl” and noted that her victory “comes a month to the day after the Singapore women’s table tennis team bagged the country’s first Olympic medal in 48 years, when they beat South Korea in the semi-finals in Beijing”.

And how will the country celebrate Pin Xiu’s contribution to the glory of her motherland?

For some two decades now, schemes have been put in place to reward such athletes for their achievements at such international sports gatherings.

The Singapore National Olympic Council, under the then oversight of one of Singapore’s political legends from the ruling party, Dr Yeo Ning Hong, implemented the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP).

Between $1 million to $2 million is now awarded to an individual or team that secures a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Athletes are rewarded up to a maximum of the first gold medal won at the Olympic Games. Significantly, MAP is for athletes with no disabilities.

For disabled athletes, the Athletes’ Achievement Awards (AAA) applies. This was created in 2006 based on a framework similar to MAP.

Both MAP and AAA are primarily supported by the Singapore Totalisator Board or the Tote Board, which uses surpluses from its gaming activities to fund these initiatives.

However, there are some key differences between the AAA and MAP schemes.

Firstly, between $100,000 to $200,000 is now awarded to an individual or team that secures a gold medal at the Paralympic Games.

Secondly, the incentive is given “based on a single highest achievement”. No additional awards are given for multiple medals but there is provision in MAP for additional awards to be given for multiple medals won at the Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games.

As a paralympian, Yip will receive $100,000 under the AAA, about one-tenth of what she could have received as an olympian. Had she been an athlete with no disability, she would have been awarded $1,000,000.

Contrast this figure also with the $750,000 that our China-born athletes, who are now Singaporeans and won the silver medal at the Olympic Games, will receive.

The rationale for the divergence in the amounts does not appear clear.

One reason could be the visibility that the Paralympic Games enjoys in comparison to the Olympic Games. Both MAP and AAA are heavily reliant on corporate support. As a result of the greater brand recognition enjoyed by the Olympic Games, corporate sponsors may be more inclined to support the MAP.

Another reason could be that the AAA could do with a fund-raiser like Dr Yeo Ning Hong who, as a result of his clout and extensive contributions both in the public and private sectors, was able to roll out an ambitious programme such as the MAP.

Ideally, there should be little or no divergence in the manner in which we celebrate our olympians and paralympians.

Yip suffers from muscular dystrophy, which impedes her ability to straighten her hands. She is also suffering from worsening vision. These extreme medical conditions did not stop her from giving Singaporeans a compelling reason to be proud about. In the years ahead, she will need much more financially for her medical conditions than an abled athlete. Looking at her needs and merits, there is justification for Yip to receive an award as high as an olympian.

As much as there is nothing illegal about this practice of rewarding abled and disabled athletes differently, there is some basis for one to argue that it is unfair.

Perhaps, a way forward is to merge both the MAP and the AAA so that disabled and abled athletes are incentivised equally for their contributions to Singapore.

In making its bid for the Youth Olympics 2010, Singapore represented that “worldwide, our country is recognized for its honesty, integrity and commitment to fair play”.

Surely, the principle of fair play requires that the achievements of our disabled athletes for the glory of this country be recognised and rewarded as highly as the contributions of our abled athletes.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Reader's Question: Comment Deleted

How come a comment I left on your blog was deleted?

Generally, I welcome your feedback. It is as a result of your feedback that I disabled comment moderation on this blog some time back.

I also think learning from others is an important facet of life. One's views are not necessarily a final view on matters and this is particularly applicable to the things I share here. There is often a different way of looking at things. And such criticism also help our views to evolve with the passing of time. I have often hoped that more people will share their views, without having to use a pseudonym or be anonymous. Individuals should be willing to speak candidly about issues that concern them and be prepared to hear things as candidly.

But a line has to be drawn, especially where a comment is defamatory, seditious or insensitive. Sometimes, readers also leave spam. For example, information about financial scams. It is in these situations that a comment will be deleted. Of course, I accept that there is nothing to stop one from setting up one's own platform to make such remarks there or to find other ways to make one's views known. That is certainly within one's prerogative as a reader of this blog.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Needy Train Travellers

In public trains operating in cities, one often finds a sign encouraging a person to give up his or her seat to someone else who needs it more.

Those in need include the elderly, very young children and pregnant women. In Thailand, this list of needy people even includes priests!

I realise a lot of times people travelling on the trains end up not looking out for such needy.

One such situation happened this afternoon. I was on they way home after having lunch with a friend.

As I walked into the train, I notice a very frail old man standing in the train. He was so weak he had to hold onto the railings on the train with both hands, and his arms were shivering. Seated opposite where the old man was standing were some young persons. I suspect they didn't notice the old man.

I approached one of the young persons and requested that he give up his seat for the old man. He did so as soon as I brought the old man's predicament to his attention. The old man fell asleep within minutes of sitting down. Aww, bless him.

And bless the young man who gave up his seat too. I realised some time later that the young lad was Muslim. This being the month of Ramadan, he would have been observing his fast at that time. He had had nothing to eat or drink since the break of dawn. Thus, he probably needed to remain seated too.

I regretted, at that time, not approaching someone else. But I laud the young person's will to help someone else more in need, even though he was in need too.

We should be sensitive to the needs of others. We can also help others be sensitive to the needs of others.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Trial for Insulting Judge

Last week, in between sessions for a course I am attending at the Supreme Court, I sat through a few hours of the trial of Gopalan Nair in Court 5C of the High Court.

Nair was charged under Section 228 of the Penal Code (Cap. 224), which reads as follows:

"Whoever intentionally offers any insult or causes any interruption to any public servant, while such public servant is sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both."

According to Nair's blog, the charge read:

"Gopalan Nair are charged that you on or about May 29, 2008 in Singapore, did intentionally offer an insult to a public servant namely Justice Belinda Ang Saw Een, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore while the Judge was sitting in judicial proceedings namely Notice of Assessment No. 23 of 2008 in Suit No. 261 of 2006 and Notice of Assessment No. 24 of 2008 in Suit No. 262 of 2006 by posting the following words on your blog at http://singaporedissident.blogspot.com/index.html:

"The following transpired during the last 3 days in court. The judge Belinda Ang was throughout prostituting herself during the entire proceedings by being nothing more than an employee of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders"

and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 228 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224)."

Unfortunately, he was sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment yesterday. I came away with some impressions of the trial. Since the trial is over, I can now share these impressions.


Looking at the charge and legislation and having watched the trial, I think Nair could have put up a more credible defence.

Nair was given a lot of leeway in cross-examining the prosecution witness, Assistant Superintendent of Police Razak Jakaria. Nair adopted various strategies to discredit the witness, even calling into question the religious beliefs of the witness. The month of Ramadan being an important period for Muslim persons, I thought this was insensitive of Nair to do so.

I hope ASP Razak will find the capacity in him to be forgiving of Nair, since the month of Ramadan is also about being forgiving to those who offend us. I think Nair was caught up by the heat of the charge and ended up taking such desperate measures in order to secure an acquittal.

Nair also brought up irrelevant matters. At one point, he argued that he needed to question the witness and make detailed notes about the answers so that this could eventually go into a book. He disclosed that he intends to write about his personal experience of the justice system in Singapore.

As much as I look forward to reading Nair's book, I thought this was an important lesson as to why a person should not conduct his own defence. If you are charged for committing a criminal offence in Singapore, please seriously consider getting a criminal lawyer to represent you, especially if you can afford one. I am not sure if Nair can afford to appoint a defence lawyer.


A lot of the irrelevant questions arose from the fact that Nair had to work blindly. The prosecution had not disclosed all the statements Nair had made to the police and this ended up with Nair conducting a fishing expedition for such information at trial. It was well into the trial that Nair was given a set of such statements by the prosecution.

I cannot appreciate why the prosecution cannot disclose all such statements as soon as a person is charged, since there is no risk of such disclosure jeopardising the investigation at that point. It is possible that early disclosure of the statements may help facilitate and speed up the trial process and reduce the need for a defendant to undertake such fishing expeditions at trial.


The judge hearing the trial, Justice Kan Ting Chiu, left the most significant impression on me. I thought he was extremely patient with both the prosecution and defence. He was decorum and graciousness at its best. At one point, he even went through his notes of evidence and encouraged the prosecution to do the same in order to clarify something Nair could not remember.

Some trainee lawyers hearing the matter thought Nair deserved to be dealt with strongly by the force of law, and be made an example of by being put away longer than was necessary in such cases.

Thankfully, the judge hearing the matter has a less draconian concept of justice. The voice of reason prevailed and he eventually dealt with Nair fairly. The judge was also understanding enough to give Nair some time to settle his personal matters before commencing the prison sentence.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

From Ashwinder to just Ash

Petronas, Malaysian oil company, advertisement:

"The world is changing but we should always be proud of who we are."


1. When I first landed in England in 1999, I was intrigued by how Asians there had a penchant for shortening their names to biteable English-sounding words. For example, Ashwinder Singh Gill would simply be called Ash or, similar to the case of the video above, Samyveloo Reddy would be just Sam.

2. Coming back to Asia about 5 years ago, I noticed this trend had caught on here. My Chinese peers, in particular, have adopted English names. My friend Sian Teck is now Jason or Kinn Oei is now Jervis.

3. When I asked my friends about this, they said it helped them in the course of their work. They shared it made it easier for people to remember their names.

4. Today, there are various short versions of my name circulating among my friend. To some, I am Dee. To others, I am Dom. To many, I am Dharm. To a few, I am Dharam or Endra.

5. Nevertheless, I am happy to remain Dharmendra Yadav. The world may be changing but it doesn't change who I am or where I came from.

6. Finally, I wish to thank my friend, Michael Chua, for kindly showing me how to embed a Youtube video into a blog posting.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Support Yellow Ribbon

My community legal clinics from time to time bring me face to face with persons, who have just been released from our prisons.

These persons are often eager to start their lives on a new page, and to make a difference for themselves and their families. In pursuing this, they are willing to look into the many opportunities that are available to them.

Quite often, these opportunities are limited and society attaches a negative stereotype to such persons. Over time, these persons lose that passion they once had to turn a new leaf, and risk re-offending only to have face our criminal legal system.

This is really unfortunate because there is something we can do about it. It is also sad because a lot of these person have dependants, such as spouses, children and even old parents, who will all have to suffer. Most will lose the capacity to pay their household bills, others will not be able to go to school, and a few such families may end up having to go hungry.

For this reason, the Yellow Ribbon Project is something I value. The purpose of this project is to check this trend of re-offending and to combat stereotypes attached to ex-offenders. And every year, I do something to show my support for this cause. This year is no different.

September is Yellow Ribbon month. Visit the Yellow Ribbon website to find out more about how you can make a difference!

Dharmendra Yadav

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Prominently Politically Pink

Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman of Singapore Management University, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings and Chairman of MediaCorp writing in Today Weekend on 6 September 2008:

"Optimists hope that the decriminalisation of gay sex — a yawn to anyone except the homophobic and the gays themselves — will eventually occur. In reality, rather than in law, gays in Singapore today have never had it so good, and should within a short time, become fully-accepted — not just tolerated — members of an increasingly diverse, and therefore vibrant, Singapore community. But if we pat ourselves on the back for being so “bold” as to accept casinos and Formula 1 events into staid Singapore, why can’t the boldness extend to a simple act to enable gays to realise their dream — indeed, their simple right — to be normal Singaporeans like anyone else, no more and no less."


1. A blogger hopes that more such "alternative views" about how Singapore should go forward will be expressed by other prominent persons in Singapore.

2. Pink is now a colour associated with the homosexual community. For example, there is the Pink Paper, "Britain’s only national lesbian, gay and bisexual newspaper and the biggest circulating gay publication of any kind in the country". This association to pink has its roots in the Pink Triangle, which "was used by the Nazis in concentration camps to identify and shame homosexuals" and "has been embraced by the gay community as a symbol of pride".

3. Yesterday, about three days after Ho's views were published, the Prime Minister of Singapore speaking at the Forbes Global CEO Conference showed why pink is in.

4. Ho noted in his article that "gays are seen to be at the leading edge of the “creative class” — which Singapore is trying to develop as part of its new knowledge-based, creativity-oriented economy".

5. Perhaps, the creative minds, if any, behind PM Lee Hsien Loong's image are indeed sending a message out to Singapore and the world. What more pragmatic way to have it expressed than at the Forbes Global CEO Conference.

6. For reasons I have made known in the past, it is time for Section 377A of the Penal Code to go.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Foreign Bodies In Singapore


Former Straits Times journalist, Siva Govindasamy, reacting on Gee Siva! to objections expressed by Singaporeans living in Serangoon Gardens about having a dormitory for foreign workers located there, 7 September 2008:

"Stereotypes are well and truly alive in this modern multi-ethnic metropolis. We want our own space and are selective about which foreigners will be allowed into it, making a serious dent in the attempts to evolve into a tolerant multi-cultural society."


1. I have observed from time to time that Singaporeans are becoming increasingly intolerant in some ways. The angst that some Singaporeans express when foreigners move into their respective neighbourhoods, especially those issued work permits, is one example of this.

2. I have lived for the past decade in a neighbourhood with many foreigners, Taman Jurong in Singapore.

3. The presence of these foreigners has brought its own inherent opportunities and challenges. Efforts have been made to integrate both Singaporean and non-Singaporean communities. Community events that see the attendance of both these groups are a norm. The joint numbers have also helped some shops in the neighbourhood stay in the black. To allay residents' concerns about crime, there is also a visible police presence.

4. On balance, I would say it has made a neighbourhood that was once ignored as the appendix of Jurong a more vibrant and diverse place to live in.

5. Looking at the objections raised by the residents of Serangoon Gardens, which Siva has rebutted point-by-point, I would submit that the residents are just being selfish. It only reflects a Singaporean mentality that has become too used in looking to the Government for solutions to the extent of being pragmatically insensitive. We can be more accepting of differences in our society.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Donate Refund to Charity

I recently dined at a restaurant and had a less than positive experience.

I sent the relevant restaurant some feedback. The restaurant very kindly offered to waive the cost of lunch and refund me the amount spent.

As I was not comfortable accepting the refund for various reasons, I requested that the refund be donated to charity.

I think it is more important for the service provider to learn from the incident and put in place a system to better manage its customers, which the restaurant has assured that it will do.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Lunch at Supreme Court & Service Recovery


I had lunch this week with a friend at the Academy Bistro at the Supreme Court.

I had ordered chicken as the main course. About five minutes into the main course, I realised the meat was uncooked and bloody.

I sought the waiter's assistance and requested that the problem be rectified. The waiter said he will have the chef look into the matter. The same piece of chicken merely came back reheated.

I was then asked a second time if the food was okay. Unfortunately, the meat remained bloody. I made this known to the waiter but proceeded to complete the rest of the main course without eating the bloody parts.

Following the incident, the waiter on duty made it a point to apologise three times. This is commendable. First, when I first complained that the chicken was bloody. Second, when the main course was re-served and the waiter checked if everything was okay. Third, when I left the restaurant.

Saying sorry is only one aspect of service recovery. The overall service recovery attempt leaves much room for improvement.

Prices at the Academy Bistro are relatively high, if compared to restaurants of similar standing. At such a restaurant, the food would not have been reheated. A new dish would have been duly served.

If the new dish had still been unsatisfactory, an offer could have been made to either waive the charge for the particular course or the whole bill.

I hope corrective and preventive actions can be taken to address such situations.

The Academy Bistro feeds the legal fraternity. It is also host to many guests of the legal fraternity. Above all, it enjoys a privileged space in the iconic Supreme Court building.

It must therefore observe the high standards that one would expect from a valued member of the legal fraternity.

Dharmendra Yadav

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