A major search is underway to find AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 after it lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control while enroute from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore yesterday without a distress signal. Its parent company, the Malaysia-owned budget airline AirAsia (no connection to Malaysia Airlines) has had a clean safety record; AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes considers this his "worst nightmare". There were initial reports of a plane crashing in East Belitung Island, which are yet to be verified, but the multi-national search is still under way after a break due to darkness and bad weather. Indeed, powerful storms were in QZ8501's flight path, prompting the pilot to request an "unusual" route. There were 162 people on board, primarily Indonesians (including one of the pilots), as well as three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one French, and one British citizen. There is currently some strong media attention on a family that missed the flight by minutes, who were told by airport officials while negotiating a replacement flight that "This must have been the best Christmas gift your family ever received". [more inside]
Singaporean student Agatha Tan wrote an open letter to her principal after noticing major flaws with a sex ed program at her junior college. Specifically, the Focus on the Family-created program posited relationship advice for "guys" and "gals" and what they really think that seem to be directly cribbed from a joke book. Focus on the Family claimed that it wasn't designed as sex ed but as a "relationship education" program (here's Singapore's actual sex ed curriculum) and that it was supposedly based on research studies about the neurological differences between men and women. The principal says that the facilitators were "ineffective", and the Ministry of Education says that they will cease their working relationship with FotF soon.
Back in 2012, fashion photographer and filmmaker Milton Tan shot a time lapse film over a six month period, of planes overflying Singapore's Changi Beach on their way to and from Changi airport. After his "The Air Traffic" video went viral, managers at the airport made Tan an offer: six months of access to a restricted runway for a second film: The Air Traffic Two. (Via) [more inside]
Forest fires due to slash and burn farming in Sumatra, Indonesia have led to unprecedented air pollution levels in Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore particularly, Facebook and Twitter are aflame as well. For a country used to very clean air, the sudden pollution has led to public outcry, with air purifiers and face masks being snatched off the shelves. So far, no stop-work-order has been issued, and there are complaints that the government is not tackling the situation rapidly enough. Indonesia is working to put out the fires and is considering cloud seeding; their response to pressure from Singapore to do more was that Singaporeans should stop behaving like children and not disturb their domestic affairs. While image macros about the 2013 haze continue to fill up Facebook feeds, some people are taking the whole affair in a more irreverent way. [more inside]
The Singaporean Fairytale is another contribution to the efforts to get Singaporeans to procreate (previously), made by undergraduate students, using reworked fairytales as a vehicle for sex and fertility ed. A lot of the content, however, is suspect: from claiming that sex will always make you feel better (especially if you're a woman) to a woman's worth being only based by their reproductive capacity.
Death in Singapore The body of a young US electronics engineer, Shane Todd, was found hanging in his Singapore apartment. Police said it was suicide, but the Todd family believe he was murdered. Shane had feared that a project he was working on was compromising US national security. His parents want to know if that project sent him to his grave.
National Night: Days of post-war baby boom long gone, Singapore's fertility rate has been plummeting for years now. The government's efforts at matchmaking through the SDU have been disappointing; baby-bonuses haven't been helping. So this National Day, if the official songs aren't doing it for you, if you're further than a heartbeat to love at first sight, Mentos encourages you to kick-back and do your patriotic duty.
Haw Par Villa, also known as Tiger Balm Gardens, was quite possibly the weirdest theme park on the planet. The first park was built in Hong Kong in the 30s, soon followed by another in Singapore. Built by brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, who made their fortunes selling Tiger Balm, the park was really a sculpture garden devoted to all aspects of Chinese mythology. Weirdest and most surreal of all was the section of the park which depicted the the 10 levels of Buddhist hell, featuring demons dismembering sinners, and is best described as "if Heironymus Bosch built a putt putt course."
There's something in the air this election season. For the first time in almost 40 years, almost every electoral ward in Singapore is up for grabs, as the opposition parties stage their biggest contest against the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP). [more inside]
Tri-M.G. Intra Asia Airlines (Warning: Sound, Flash, airplanes) has taken regional airline website design to new heights (Warning: Airline banned in the EU for being unsafe). via
The Complaints Choir phenomenon, started by the Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, has spread all over the world since last we paid it any attention, from Birmingham to Helsinki, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Poikkilaakso, Bodø, Penn State, Canada, Juneau, Gabriola Island, Sointula, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Budapest, Malmö, Chicago, Florence, Copenhagen, Vancouver (2), Philadelphia, Sundbyberg, Milano, Åland, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Basel, Umeå, Ljubljana, Gdansk, Arizona State University, Washington, DC, Horace Mann School, Durham-Chapel Hill, Auckland, Toronto theatre students, Kortrijk, Cairo (2), St. Pölten, Maribor, Port Coquitlam, Ústí nad Labem, Columbus & Kauhajoki (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). For more information, including a 9 step guide to forming your own complaints choir, go to the Complaints Choir website. Finally, here's the Singapore Complaints Choir, whose performance was banned by the Singapore government.
Europe according to... is a project to map stereotypes of European countries according to other countries and groups of people. [more inside]
Top-performing nations recruit 100% of their new teachers from the top third. In the US, it's 23% - and 14% of high poverty schools. A new study by McKinsey and Company examines what Finland, Singapore and South Korea do to attract top graduates to teaching, including selective admissions to teacher training, competitive compensation, a more professionalized work environment, cultural respect and greater opportunities for advancement. Doing the same in the US would cost roughly $180 billion a year. [more inside]
Rolf Potts will travel through 12 countries in 42 days, with his current location updated here. He intends to do all this with no luggage, no backpack, no man purse -- not even a fanny pack. [via mefi projects]
Swiss graffiti artist to get three whacks of the cane in Singapore. Hasn’t this happened before? Yes and no. Unlike American teenager Michael Fay, Swiss national Oliver Fricker and British citizen Lloyd Dane Alexander planned their graffiti raid very carefully – they broke into an SMRT train depot and tagged several SMRT train carriages. Graffiti of this scale is so unheard-of in Singapore, commuters thought the graffiti was part of a marketing campaign. Last month, Fricker was apprehended. This week, Fricker was sentenced to five months’ jail and three strokes of the cane.
Take a swim in the Infinity Pool, at the Marina Bay Sands Sky Park. The Sky Park has rooftop restaurants, nightclubs, gardens, trees, plants, and a public observatory with 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline. The Infinity Pool is the world's longest elevated swimming pool, with a 475-foot vanishing edge, 200 meters (55 stories) above the ground.
Best known as an Indonesian handicraft, batik is a distinctive technique for textiles that has been used for millennia and can be found as far away as Egypt, Ghana, China and India. An integral part of daily life in Java, batik has spread around the world as a wellknown artform as well as clothing. From its hippy heyday to the smart couture outfits of the Singapore Girl, batik is still daily wear for many and the equivalent of black tie in the ASEAN. [more inside]
The Gardens will put in place a pervasive garden ambience and quality living environment from which Singapore's downtown will rise, and steer Singapore to the forefront of the world's leading global cities. (via)
A gigantic fleet of semi-abandoned cargo and container ships has been photographed east of Singapore. Meanwhile, the ship-breaking yards at Alang are booming, and the shipping industry is looking for ways to weather the storm. As the recession slashes demand, it seems the shipping industry may be heading for dry dock...
NYU recently invited a Law Professor from Singapore, Thio Li-Ann to teach "Human Rights in Asia". Thio, also a former Member of Parliament, is infamous for having strong views against homosexuality. As expected, she is not warmly welcomed by NYU students. [more inside]
Some weeks back, the venerable Singaporean women's organization AWARE got caught with their bloomers down - over a hundred new members signed up just weeks prior to the 2009 officer's elections, and these new members promptly voted themselves into office. The whole thing was apparently orchestrated by members of Church of Our Savior, which is home to Singapore's largest ex-gay ministry, and whose members have been particularly outspoken against gay issues in the past. The leader of the insurgents, now president, Thio Su Mien, had complained in the past that AWARE was "promoting a homosexual agenda" in schools, which the Singaporean Ministry of Education denies. Thio's emails orchestrating the takeover have recently come to light.
We are in the midst of a Ferris wheel craze. In 2009. "This year, Germany will unveil the Great Berlin Wheel. Upon its completion, the wheel will be 606 feet high — as high as two football fields are long, as high as three Niagara Falls. It will be taller than what’s currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, the Singapore Flyer, a soon-to-be-disappointing 541 feet high. This year, China also plans to unveil the Beijing Great Wheel. At an awesome 682 feet high, it will be taller than both the Great Berlin Wheel and the Singapore Flyer (which only debuted as the world’s tallest Ferris wheel last year) ... China has, in fact, built wheels in six cities since the start of the new millennium."
Economist Bryan Caplan is author of the best contemporary critique of democracy and democraticness (previously), and therefore the person I'd most like to visit Singapore and share his thoughts. He recently took a trip to this quasi-democracy lauded for both its pro-growth policies and its strong, competent government (and criticized for its repression and its draconian penal code). The trip to what is in some ways an economist's utopia allowed Caplan to think about the implications of his own writings, and the validity of Churchill's dictum on democracy. Here's what he had to say: [more inside]
Koro, previously, has gripped the streets of Kinshasa, Congo. Unlike the 1967 Koro Epidemic in Singapore, which was blamed on tainted pork, the afflicted men in Kinshasa have blamed the psychosomatic penile shrinkage on witchcraft by a rival sect, and responded with attempted lynchings. In order to prevent bloodshed of the kind seen in Ghana a decade ago, police have responded by apprehending the alleged sorcerers. [more inside]
A year after a reprimand from the government cost him a weekly writing gig at a local newspaper, popular Singaporean blogger mr brown continues to write and produce humorous podcasts that cover a wide range of topics, including government denials of homelessness, a controversy over selling condoms at a local university bookshop, and a crackdown by neighbouring Malaysia on blogger freedom of speech.
On the sidelines of a photography exhibition in Singapore, an collective named "A Dose of Light" was preparing to display the final set of 36 photos (flash, slow-loading), taken by "Wu Xiao Kang", a photographer being treated by schizophrenia before he committed suicide at the age of 26 (text of press release). To add to the tragedy, the photographs were now in the possession of a photographic research institute and would not be released till 2010. Maybe, if people signed a petition, the institute might be persuaded to change it's mind? [more inside]
You cannot live in Malaysia or Singapore without being a foodie on some level. Makan lah! or come and eat is a common and popular expression of welcome. Uniquely in the region, both countries have multiethnic populations each of whom have added their flavours, spices and condiments to the region's foodie heaven. There is Chinese food - Kuay Teow, Chicken Rice, Char Siu and Yong Tau Foo. There is Malay food, rendangs, sambals, petai and belacan adding a certain something to the mix. South Indian food proliferates like banana leaf restorans, idli-thosai pure vegetarian fast food joints like Komala's and of course the fish curries and prawn curries of the coastal regions. The colonial influence is felt with Roti John served up in hawker centres and food courts across the peninsula and islands, ending with cooling desserts like cendol, sago pudding with gula melaka and santan or 'pancake'.
This is not your regular twister. The strange weather formation we saw yesterday off Singapore's coasts (YouTube) was a waterspout (wiki), a water-based tornado that occurs usually in tropical areas, Florida Keys (great pic!), for example. The last tornado that happened in Singapore was in 1950.
Asian Beat.An introduction to the music scene which flourished in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore in 1964-1969. From Tofu Magazine.
60s/70s psych, crossover, beat, and a go-go from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam with band/music scene histories, streaming audio, cover art, etc. Part of a large site devoted to 60s/70s progressive music around the world.
At dawn on Friday Singapore time, young Australian Nguyen Tuong Van will be hanged by the State executioner, Darshan Singh. His sentencing has raised an extensive debate in Australia on the death penalty, on our regional relationships and the compassion of our fearless Rodent. Like virtually all advanced nations, Australia has generally held a principled stance against the death penalty, though filtered by realpolitik. Yet again, New Zealand is a bit more principled than us, of course. We would of course never protest to the US about its extensive use of the ultimate State sanction.
Poultry Internet!? YES! Though poultry have been known to have high levels of cognition and feeling many of us with busy lifestyles have a hard time fulfilling their needs. And some poor souls can't even be near poultry as a result of allergies. What to do? Why not a cybernetics system allowing for network-enabled remote haptic stimulation and feedback of poultry? Confused? Well, there's "The Office System where user fondles with the doll." and then that hooks up to "The pet (rooster) with pet dress." hopefully recapturing "our sense of togetherness with our animal friends, just like times gone by on the prairie, village, or jungle.". A bit of oddity brought to you by the Singapore Mixed-Reality Lab, who actually do a lot of cool stuff like AR human pacman; and they've got the videos to prove it.
Singapore is trying to duplicate its IT success in Biotech (billions of dollars in predictive economics, a masterstroke -- or perhaps a mistake -- for the leaders of the Simcity-run island). Good for the huge numbers of foreigners lured with research money and benefits, but what about their kids?
Kampung: 60 photographs of Singapore architecture.
Singaporeans under government home quarantine orders due to close contact with SARS patients will have electronic cameras installed into their homes. "These people will then be called at random intervals and asked to stand in front of the camera to show they are home. Anyone found breaking quarantine will be served a warning letter and given an electronic wrist tag."
Adult Siamese twins plead for separation Doctors in Singapore are considering whether to separate a pair of 28-year-old twin sisters who are joined at the head - an unprecedented operation for adults. Neurosurgeon Keith Goh says he and his team will decide by the end of the year if an operation can be successful. They went to Singapore after hearing about the successful surgery led by Dr Goh on baby twins from Nepal who were also joined at the head. The operation - if it goes ahead - involves separating two brains encased within a single bony structure in the head, Dr Goh said. The twins say they want to be separated because of deep differences between them. "We are two completely separate individuals who are stuck to each other," Ladan, the more extrovert of the sisters, told reporters. "We have different lifestyles," she said. "We think very differently about issues." The twins said that if their situation continues for much longer, they will not "stand it any more".
A Fruit Has Been Built. A unique architectural piece that pokes your senses in creative ways, is also good-humouredly called the "Durians" by local Singaporeans. Durians, or otherwise titled King of fruits, are beloved by millions of South East Asians. The spiky building, officially known as "Esplanade-theatres on the bay", started construction in 1996 and will open (flash) to the world on the 12th October 2002.
Singapore bans divorce via SMS. I think what weirds me out most about this is that apparently it's still legal in Dubai... and not infrequent.
Break the law just like the ruling party - get arrested. According to Singapore's Straits Times (article expires in seven days, I linked to the cache on Google), Robert Ho allegedly encouraged an 'attempt to incite violence or disobedience to the law'. The original posting that got him into trouble was encouraging civil disobedience, as if Singaporeans would dare do such a thing. (From Politech.)
All Good No Bad Singapore is a country where markets are perfect and it is known globally as the economic miracle. A country where politics, intellectual life and criticism is sacrificed on the altar of the market. A nightmare, should I say?
(Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily)
(Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily)
Banned Artists Move Online Local artists in Singapore who have had their artworks banned are putting their work on the Web.
Singapore Airlines Flight 006 Survivors Report. A rather gripping account of the crash here last night. Hard to believe that they would have a plane taking off in the middle of a typhoon but hey "we do this all the time; it's fine."