Today is my last day at the IISS-Asia office and to commemorate the past four months, I put together this ode:
Thank you to everyone in Singapore who are now making it so hard to leave and say goodbye, in particular the IISS-Asia office; thank you to all those who took time out of their busy schedules to come visit; and thank you to SDSC for sending me here and providing me with such a great experience. I hope the next Robert O’Neill scholar has as much, if not more, an amazing adventure as I did.
And last but not least thank you to all those who read this blog, I hope it was as much fun to read as it was to write. This blog received over 3000 hits within 14 weeks and I could not express my gratitude enough. See y’all in Canberra soon!
Sadly, this is my second-last post for the Singapore Diaries blog. More sadly, this is my second-last week in Singapore. Even more sadly, this has been the slowest news week I have experienced in Singapore. In all seriousness, this is the front page from The Straits Times today:Even The Straits Times is in want of ideas. The most interesting thing about the front page was the story on Malaysian PM Najib establishing ties with the Vatican to appease the country’s “Christians after a series of episodes, including the firebombing of churches” ahead of a general election widely believed to be held next year. Full story here. I am not sure whether PM Najib realises the irony of visiting the capital of Catholicism to appeal to a Christian minority.
So rather pathetically I will now sign off for the week to start investigating for my final ‘Farewell Singapore’ post next Wednesday.
Bersih 2.0 rally (photo by flickr user faud abdullah)
This weekend I was in Kuala Lumpur to have a ‘looksie’ at the Bersih 2.0 or the ‘Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections’ rally. (Great photograph-timeline of the event here). Frankly speaking, I think the backpackers and tourists who were made to walk about two kilometres into the city centre because of police road blockades looked like they wanted to do more harm to Malaysia than the Malaysians involved in the political reform march. Authorities took rather extraordinary security measures to deter the rally by blocking all roads leading into the city, closing several train stations, stringing razor wire at strategic entry points, and deploying lorries mounted with water cannons near Independence Stadium, where the activists sought to gather. My favourite reaction though was the protest of the protest. In hindsight, it was lucky that my local guide and I were travelling by car and unable to access the city. Though, kudos to the 100 people who did manage to enter the city to ‘brave the horde’ and turn up for the iPad 2 sale at Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang. Continue reading →
RSAF F15 (photo by memegenerator, and flickr user ZirenWang)
As a keen follower of the Miss Universe pageant, I was sorely disappointed when I realised my flat had no cable television. Fortunately for me, yesterday was Singaporean Armed Forces Day, an annual event held on 1 July to honour Singapore’s military force, allowing me my annual fix of pageantry and glamour. The day was marked with a parade at the SAFTI military institute attended by 1,500 SAF regulars, Operationally Ready National Servicemen and full-time National Servicemen. A minute’s silence was observed to remember SAF personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty and the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Neo Kian Hong, led SAF personnel in reciting the SAF pledge to reaffirm their loyalty to the nation and their commitment to the defence of Singapore. This year’s ‘Trooping of Colours‘ ceremony commissioned five new regimental colours to the five operational commands of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), marking a significant milestone in the RSAF’s transformation journey.
… to my latest article for East Asia Forum and Pnyx on the tenth IISS’ Shangri-La Dialogue and whether the region’s defence dialogues are adequately addressing traditional strategic challenges and shifting power dynamics.
So when I first arrived in Singapore, the talk of the town was a photograph taken off everyone’s-favourite-intelligence-service, Facebook, showing a national serviceman making his maid carry his backpack, with a caption, ‘Why we need foreign talents in Singapore!’ Indeed. (Though with the Ministry of Defence’s latest policy of issuing 8,000 tablet devices to sharpen their fighting skills, probably through Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, I guess one shouldn’t be too shocked that maids are being asked to help out too.)