Friday, November 26, 2004

an obsession

Joan was supposed to be studying...
but something caught her eye...

The following terms and people and ideas and things, all have one thing in common.
And I have an obsession with this...

*social darwinism
*biologist Ernst Haeckel
*German racial superiority
*sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies<
*The Natural History of the Volk as the Foundation of a Germanic Sociopolitical System
*1853 French writer Count Arthur de Gobineau
*The Inequality of Human Races
*Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain
*Richard Wagner
*The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century
*Adolf Hitler
*Martin Luther
*Pale of Settlement
*pogroms 1903 and 1907
*liberal Georg von Schonerer
*Karl Lueger
*middle-class liberal Romanians
*Dreyfus case in France
*The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
*George L Mosse, Toward the Final Solution: A History of European Racism

I guess it is pretty obvious already.

I've got a quote here with me too. By Chamberlain, the Chamberlain as mentioned in one of those points above, but I think I'd better not have it up. I don't want some people to come after me the next day. Especially after reading the Protocols, as mentioned earlier. I know, the Protocols are supposed to be written by some poser Russian, but we never know, it might be real after all.

Heck! I'm not what you might think I am. Really. I'm just curious why one group of people can be so darn hated by others that they ought to have all died.

Counter me! I would love to hear comments, say from one of the subjugated people. Flood me with counter arguments!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Politics of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian Studies SE2213/Singapore Studies SSA2207
Politics of Southeast Asia

For people who are planning to take this module some time or another, might take a look at this essay. Hopefully it does give some idea on what the module is about. But, must warn beforehand, this is not a grade A essay. I missed the elusive A by a bit. This is only an A- essay. But for little Joan here, I think that this is a good grade, after all it's a level 2000 module and I'm only a little year 1 girl.

Women in Politics
(my central topic)

The extent of which foreign support affected the rise of the female democratic advocators of South East Asia with direct reference to Aung San Suu Kyi and Corazon Aquino.
(the parameters I drew for this topic cos there is no questions given for this sort of paper)

In the past two decades, Southeast Asia witnessed the rise of female democratic advocators. Among these women, we shall take a closer look at Corazon Aquino who successfully overthrew the autocratic Marcos regime in the 1980s and her modern-day Burmese counterpart, Aung San Suu Kyi who is still struggling to achieve democracy in the military governed land of Burma. Corazon Aquino shares many similarities with Aung San Suu Kyi other than their belief in democracy in the region. They also share a similar background in their rise to politics due to the legacy of Corazon Aquino’s husband and Aung San Suu Kyi’s father. Their basis for democracy was also very similar as Philippines at that time and Burma now were under oppressive authoritarian rule. The similarity which I will touch further in this paper is the wide support for their lobbying for power they received from the international community which would include political backing, which was especially so in the case of Corazon Aquino; non-governmental activists, the Catholic Church for Corazon Azuino[1] and the support group formed by other Nobel Peace Laureates backing Aung San Suu Kyi[2]; and the role of the mass media which the two women used to bolster support.

Corazon Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi were both from families with strong political backgrounds and a legacy to continue. Corazon Aquino was the “widow of political martyr Benigno Aquino”[3] and Aung San Suu Kyi was the “daughter of Burma’s national-independence hero Aung San”[4]. Their entrances into politics were also similar in that they were thrust into political limelight to overthrow the incumbent authoritarian government and establish a democratic one with free elections. However, while Corazon Aquino’s came into the political scene almost immediately after the assassination of her husband to replace him in the opposition of the Marcos regime, Aung San Suu Kyi only entered politics long after the assassination of her father. Unlike, Corazon Aquino, she was not so much of a replacement but was much more her individual self advocating the overthrow of the totalitarian regime in place. It was this cry for democracy of the two women that attracted the interest of the international community which in turn led to their rise in power though Aung San Suu Kyi is still struggling to achieve real power from the military junta.

This democracy cry attracted the interest of several states who gave their political backing to the two women. This political backing further consolidated their rise to power in their respective countries although I would note that this was more pronounced in the case of Corazon Aquino than for Aung San Suu Kyi. Corazon Aquino had direct political backing of the United States while although many countries are in support of Aung San Suu Kyi’s cause, not much was done by them politically. This could be due to the strong political and economic ties between the Philippines and the United States as the former was once a colony of the latter while Burma does not share any of this sort of ties with any country. The nature of the state of Burma is also one that is attempting to be self-sufficient and in a way almost in autarchy hence it does not feel threatened by the political backing of other states on Aung San Suu Kyi. Still international political groups like the UN and ASEAN still provide their support for Aung San Suu Kyi by voicing out their displeasures against the military junta’s treatment of her. In June 2003 when Aung San Suu Kyi was yet again arrested, ASEAN ministers held a series of talks in Phnom Penh calling for her release even though “ASEAN has a long-standing policy of not commenting on the internal affairs of members”[5]. It can be seen as a small victory to Aung San Suu Kyi as she was finally released by the junta after much international objections and the imposing of various forms of sanctions by different countries on Burma.

These political interventions, however, did have much implications on the two women which some were advantageous while others were not so. Foreign support provided some amount of legitimacy in the women’s fight for democracy and was not seen as rebels or anything undermining. For Corazon Aquino’s case, it was due to this support of the Americans that her People’s Power revolution was able to be successful and was not crushed by them as they were previously an ally of the Marcos regime. Corazon Aquino was thus able to hold popular, unbiased elections after toppling the incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos. However, after coming to power, President Aquino slanted her foreign policy towards the US and became “every bit the anti-Communist, pro-US president”[6]. She also “came to more clearly depend on US assistance, both militarily and economically”[7] which could have undermined her country in the eyes of the foreigners especially the Americans. It would most probably be the same for Aung San Suu Kyi too if she comes to power. She would need to repay the favours by the foreign powers who backed her release from arrest as she was indebted to these states when they pressured the junta to free her. However, it was probably out of their own vested interest that America had supported Corazon Aquino. The US had already thought that Marcos was falling out of favour with his people and his fall was only in due course, by shifting alliance to Corazon Aquino, the US protected their trade interests and their military bases in the Philippines and there was also an “increasing concern throughout the US government about the growing insurgency in the archipelago”[8] and Aquino provided an anti-Communist alternative to the Marcos regime.

Other than political backings, Corazon Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi also received support from non-governmental organisations in the international community. Aung San Suu Kyi received much larger support from international peace activists than Corazon Aquino in a reverse situation from the latter who received more support from the political bodies. Aung San Suu Kyi found supporters in a group of other Nobel Peace Laureates, including the Dalai Lama (laureate 1989), Dr Oscar Arias (1987), Elie Wiesel (1986), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1980) and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992) who held a convention in Bangkok in Februaury 1993 publicising the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and later went on to Geneva where they “presented a joint statement to the United Nations requesting that economic sanctions and arms embargo be imposed against Burma”.[9] Not only that, another group of laureates and peace activists, including Corazon Aquino, set up a website dedicating their cause to the freedom of Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi and also publicising the need for freedom in Burma to the masses.[10] This popular call for her support among the laureates community might be due to Aung San Suu Kyi herself was also a Nobel laureate (1991), thus her ability to foster support from her peers.

As we can see, the mass media too plays a part in the lobbying of support for Aung San Suu Kyi. For her, the internet plays a large role as her supporters are not only the 80% of the Burmese who voted for her in the 1990 elections but also many foreigners who have heard of her and supports her cause. The internet thus is able to coordinate and organise her varied supporters together as we can see in the Burmese Peace Campaign website set up for her by the Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma which is in their own words “a cooperative effort of individuals and organizations from throughout the world who believe in human rights and democracy and support Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma”[11]. During Corazon Aquino’s time, it was the use of radio that she and Cardinal Sin were able to successfully mobilise the people for the People’s Power revolution through the appeal “for public support for the rebels over the Catholic-run Radio Veritas”[12]. It was due to that appal that Filipinos poured the street in exhibiting their unhappiness over Marcos’ fraud election results. Newspaper reports and magazine articles also glorified Corazon Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi to the international community which led to many other foreign countries too showing their support to them. This could be seen especially so when Time magazine picked her out to be their “Woman of the Year”[13] in 1987 and following that in 1999, she was named as one of “The Most Influential Asians of the Century”[14]. Aung San Suu Kyi, being a Nobel Peace Prize laureate also received wide media coverage over her frequent house arrests due to her laureate status.

However, it was not only the foreign support given to them that led to their rise and consolidation of power, but the local support that they received from their people was much more important. It was due to this vast numbers of supporters that they were able to futher their democracy causes. For Corazon Aquino, even if the US had fully supported her and ousted Marcos, without the People’s Power revolution, she would not have been able to consolidate her position in Filipino office. Similarly in Burma, without 80% of the population supporting her, Aung San Suu Kyi would not have attracted international outcries of fraud and she would also not have been able to bring her case into the international limelight. Unfortunately, because of the legacy of Benigno Aquino and Aung San, Corazon Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi are often not seen of their own strengths but as shadows of their martyred relations and it was through foreign relations that they were able to establish themselves as for who they are as it was only the international community who do not know about their family legacy. This could be seen in Corazon Aquino’s goodwill tours she took after she took office when she tried to “win support from foreign governments and businesses” to build up Philippines destructed economy.

In conclusion, it is important for a state to have international support in today’s globalising world thus we see the need for both Corazon Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi to establish themselves in the international community for their rise and consolidation of power in the Philippines and Burma respectively. However, due to the difference in nature of state, the foreign support that Corazon Aquino received increased her chances of being able to successfully topple the incumbent authoritarian regime while her counterpart is still working hard in achieving political freedom for her country. Philippines was a country with an open economy thus it relied heavily on trade and was hence more subjected to international criticism while Burma on the other hand remains largely an autarchy and was able to disregard international criticisms without any harm to themselves. Although their rise to power and gain in support in their homeland relied mostly on their family name, it was a different case when it came to international support. The support they received from foreigners were achieved via their own virtues. Even though Corazon Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi share similar ideals and political background, the nature of their homeland is vastly different and this accounted for their different fates in which Corazon Aquino was successful and Aung San Suu Kyi still at this present moment fighting for due political freedom.

[1] Vincent G. Boudreau, “Corazon Aquino: Gender, Class, and the People Power President” in Women in Politics: An Introduction, ed. Francine D’Amico and Peter R. Beckman, (Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey, 1995), pg 78
[2] Burma peace campaign,
[3] Vincent G. Boudreau, “Corazon Aquino: Gender, Class, and the People Power President” in Women in Politics: An Introduction, ed. Francine D’Amico and Peter R. Beckman, (Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey, 1995), pg 71
[4] Alan Clements and Leslie Kean, Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity, (Bangkok: White Orchid Press, 1995), pg 50
[5] ASEAN ministers call for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.
[6] Vincent G. Boudreau, “Corazon Aquino: Gender, Class, and the People Power President” in Women in Politics: An Introduction, ed. Francine D’Amico and Peter R. Beckman, (Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey, 1995), pg 81
[7] Vincent G. Boudreau, “Corazon Aquino: Gender, Class, and the People Power President” in Women in Politics: An Introduction, ed. Francine D’Amico and Peter R. Beckman, (Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey, 1995), pg 81
[8] Mark R. Thompson, Democratic Revolutions: Asia and Eastern European, (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), pg 26
[9] Alan Clements and Leslie Kean, Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity, (Bangkok: White Orchid Press, 1995), pg 100-1
[10] Burma peace campaign,
[11] Burma peace campaign,
[12] Vincent G. Boudreau, “Corazon Aquino: Gender, Class, and the People Power President” in Women in Politics: An Introduction, ed. Francine D’Amico and Peter R. Beckman, (Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey, 1995), pg 75
[13] Vincent G. Boudreau, “Corazon Aquino: Gender, Class, and the People Power President” in Women in Politics: An Introduction, ed. Francine D’Amico and Peter R. Beckman, (Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey, 1995), pg 78
[14] Corazon Aquino.

Unlike the other essay that I uploaded, I didn't really have a good feeling about this essay which I piahed tongxiao, so it was amazing when I got back the paper and saw that my dear lecturer really like this paper. But thinking closely, I might have got such a high grade cos I went to see my lecturer a couple of times and made it known to him that I'm a little year 1 girl writing such a long (2000-word) essay for the first time.

Okay... But seeing the results of all four of my term papers, I think I'll be damn pressured to produce good essays next semester. And to think that some seniors are saying essays are supposed to get better the more times you write them. That's it Joan, all the way... to more stress next semester...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

char kuay teow

I had char kuay teow for tea just now.

But what was wrong with my beloved portion of char kuay teow was that it was missing the most important ingredient. The sng kam. So damned was I when I opened up my packet of char kuay teow to realise that the sng kam was missing. I tried complaining to my momma hoping that she has some spare sng kam hidden in the dark corners of the fridge, but no such luck.

"Eat it as it is la!" my momma told me.

With nothing that I could do other than quietly do what she said I ate my sng kam-less char kuay teow sadly.

I closed my mouth gently upon the first bite of the char kuay teow and immediately my face scrunched up.

The char kuay teow was tasteless, dry and slightly bitter.

"Momma, the char kuay teow very bitter leh." I continued complaining to my momma who was so sick and tired of me that she totally ignored me. I ended up shutting up my goddamned mouth except to put the char kuay teow in. But there was a certain lacking in enjoyment of the food that I would have liked. I didn't feel happy from the meal.

Then my momma came out and spoke to me again.

"I think your taste buds spoil liao."

Like ???

"You always think that the fruits I cut for you are sour but you don't find sour things sour. Aren't you a bit weird liao?" my mon explained.

Then I gave this matter some serious thought. I always hated fruits that taste sour, not really hated it, but I have a very low treshhold for sour fruits. I finds most oranges, plums, peaches, mango sour. And the more interesting thing was the the sweeter it was to my mother the more sour it was to my dear tongue. For a normal person who just hates sour stuff, this might still seem somewhat normal, but this little girl here loves sng muay, flavours her food with sng kam or western food with lemon. So you can't say I just cannot take sour stuff.

But the funny thing is that I find sng muay salty. And char kuay teow with sng kam does taste saltier to me than without, ditto for western food with lemon.

So, is there not a problem with my tastebuds?

I'm tasting sour foods salty and sweet foods sour.

Or if I dwell deeper into this matter, is it really a problem with my tastebuds or something from deeper within? Like my stomach...

Yup, friends of mine would know that Joan has a very weak stomach and during camps when she don't eat and sleep well, she will always feel like puking. Normal days, she also does feel like puking if she wakes up too early, so does this mean that something is wrong with the gastric juices in her stomach? Would this be the main cause that's affecting her tastebuds?

Well, recently I don't have much of a puking problem liao but that's more because i'm never up before 9, so i'm not sure me not puking is more cos the problem is not there or just there is no reason for the resurfacing of this symptom.

Hmm... Tell me about it...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Singapore Idol, Part 2

Singapore Idol, part 2

Little 'ol Joan realised a glaring mistake after her postings yesterday. She spelt Olinda's name wrongly! Oh my God! How could she have done so?! Okay... So she thought something looked wrong with Oli's name, but she couldn't place the mistake and only after today's results show that she noticed those glaring mistakes and as we all know, Joan's a big lazy bum, so we really don't expect her to make those changes. Well, for the very least, I bring you all Joan's apologies to Oli.

So, here's my continued 2 more cents worth on the Idols which now left Taufik, Sylvester and Olinda...

I'm glad Daphne finally made her way out of the Idol competition. Since perhaps after Christopher left, she had the weakest vocals and her fan base seemed to be so over reliant on the support given to her by her alma mata. I don't think that being a popular school senior makes one an Idol. Just like Christopher, I don't think that having a rich family who can afford to make thousands of calls for him makes him an Idol. Ditto for Jerry with his Church members. And it's so coincidental that these 3 of them managed to steal time and remain in the competition. I'd call them having lived on borrowed time.

As I mentioned yesterday, I don't like Daphne not only because she can't sing, but because she has small eyes and a horrid whiny voice, but being the nice girl Joan is, she'd like to propose a couple of alternative career options of the ex-St Margaret's girl.

1. She can join Channel 8.
Channel 8 likes small-eyed short young girls with whiny voices and horrible Chinese as we can see in the casting of The Champion. With Channel 8 Daphne can also go on singing in English or Chinese, it doesn't really matter cos Channel 8 have been producing CDs for lots of veterans who can sing no better than Daphne. In fact, I can safely say, Daphne can kick all their asses.

2. Model for a cosmetic company marketing their eyeliner.
Daphne is in great need for good eyeliners to accentuate her non-existent eyes and this would prove a very good job of easy money for her. Of course, if the product doesn't work, then Joan can just say, I'm sorry Daph.

3. Carry on studying.
She's still young and stupid. More studying would be good for her. Pack her books, head off to school, she can always join singing competitions in school and with her Idol number 4 status, she can sway the judges to let her win the competition. But of course, if she doesn't have the grades to put her back in school, then it's not Joan's problem again.

4. Get married.
So we heard that she's dating Christopher, or not. It doesn't really matter, she can marry him and not worry about the next half of her life. Chris' family sure look rich enough to support her, if not they can always play a golf game less a week to feed her. Daph will be fine. That is assuming that Chris can tahan some serious whining, but looking at Chris himself, he looks like a whiner so Joan's assuming that he can tolerate other's whining.

5. Cut an album for her alma mata.
Since they like her so much. But seriously, I don't think they'd pay Daph to cut an album for them cos Joan's betting that their funds are in deficit from making so many calls for her just to sustain her in the Idol competition.

That's really about it liao. Daphne, good luck in your future just as long as you don't come back with an album to haunt. Okay, little Joan's a nice girl, so she won't just damn Daphne all the way. Daphne can sing, really, just as long as she drops the whine she's fine. You know, about Florence saying that she can write a book about losing weight, I think maybe Daph can put it off for a while. She still looks a bit pudgy on screen.

Comparing the 4 remaining Idols, indeed Daph ought to have left, but Joan had thought that it was Olinda going cos of her wrong choice of song, Qian Yan Wan Yu, and she just don't look like an Idol, and she has been hovering in the bottom 2 for the past few weeks. I was quite surprised to see her not in the bottom 2 today and this would mean that her rich family have started pouring in the big bucks, spending major money on keeping their dear child in the competition.

There should be a rule that family members cannot take part in the voting.

Right now, from the looks of the voting and talent, it seems like Taufik will be crowned Idol, if not, he is definitely going into the final 2 anyway. Between Olinda and Sylvester, I'd think that judging from mass voting, Sly has the upper edge, but if Oli mobilises her immediate family, young allowance claiming girls are no match with matured money rolling in big shots.

But Sly has always amazed me. He seems forever, every week, stuck in the bottom few, but he always makes it through in the last minute. This would mean only two things, 1 His fan base is growing with every week, or 2 His fans are able to predict the number of totals votes and just vote enough to let him through. Personally, I would think that the most plausible answer would be the former, but than again, are there really enough screaming young nubiles with adequate cash to put Sly through?

Well, I can just say safely that even if Sly doesn't win this Idol, or even if he does and become our first Idol, he will be definitely be offered with a singing contract. On a very very personal opinion, I wouldn't want Sly to win the contract given as the prize for being Singapore Idol. He can only become very very big if he's offered a regional contract by a Taiwanese label. If on a local contract, Sly's main priority would be producing English albums which can't sell further than JB and even if the record label lets him producing a chinese album, they wouldn't let him fully develop the marketing potential outside Singapore with his much commitments to the local scene.

If I were Sylvester's marketing agent, I'd have him sign as an artiste under a Taiwanese artiste management and have him set up a foundation in Taiwan first before bringing him back to Singapore. This has been tried and tested with Stefanie Sun, A-Do, JJ Lin, and the likes of them. Then I would get him to act in a couple of Taiwanese idol dramas, yes, and by then fans would be really eating out of his hand. The only thing seriously lacking in Sly is his height. But then again, Taiwanese aren't very tall, so I guess he'll just do fine.

Going on plotting career maps for Olinda, well, I can just say that she, with her red hair would make her a decent looking mamasan and with her strong vocals she can accompany her guests at the KTV lounge all night belting out her power numbers. Well, if not, Olinda can always get her family to sponsor the capital for her to cut an album.

When this whole Singapore Idol thing started, a couple of my friends and I were saying that we bet that lots of Malays would join. I mean, if SI is like a contemporary version of Talentime (which attracted lots of Malays) we guessed that it would be so for SI. Well, we thought that there were other avenues for the Chinese to gain fame and cut albums. So I was quite surprised that there weren't really many Malays in the competition.

You know, I can think up of all the weird weird stuff for everybody to do if they can't make it as an Idol, but I just can't think of any that would fit Taufik to a T. Umm... Am I losing my touch? Or am I just reserved over him cos I don't really want to pass more racist comments and piss more people off? Nah... I just want Taufik to win the Idol cos I don't think that Malays can ever get other chances to win singing contracts.

So all the best Taufik! I hope you win though I will never buy your album.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Singapore Idol

Singapore Idol

I've just caught it on tv, then I made it down to the Idol Forum Website to check out on how Singaporeans are reacting to the show, and the Idols. Well, my 2-cents worth...

I'm a potato fan of the Singapore Idol (ie, a person who regularly watches the show cos she has nothing better to do and not necessarily liking that show) but I don't seem to like any of the Idols. At the start of the competitions, I was actually supporting Sylvester cos he looked like an Idol, sang like an Idol, and had the appeal of an Idol, but as time went by, I must say, Sly, you really disappointed me.

From the start of the studios round of competition, I thought that Sylvester would shine, especially with the sudden boybands, pretty boys craze brought in here from the crazed land of Taiwan, but he didn't make it. Luckily he got through as the people's choice in the Wildcards, and I had sincerely wished him (from the comforts of my armchair towards the big shot of his face on the tv screen) all the best and to continue to impress me. But I don't know which spectalular was it, that I realised the Sly isn't really ready to be an Idol.

Why not Sly?

He's not ready.
If you look at his posture and his expressions when the camera is not closed up on him or if it's a group shot, he doesn't really smile much and his face when not smiling is quite serious, not the kind of serious serious, but the kind of I'm not confident but I must stay focused kinda serious, so it was quite putting off. An Idol must be confident, especially when faced with immense pressure from the audience and the media, and our dear Sly can't do that yet. And as long as he isn't confident, I really think he should just sing to his fans. Or anybody without ears, not older than 17, has nothing better to do than screaming at some pretty boy faced guy.

I refer back to a Taiwanese reality show quite similiar to the Idol, it was called Top Idol, incidentally. There was this girl I really hated cos she cried at the slightest negative comment directed to her and every time the results were out, she would shudder in fear and despite the results being in her favour or not, she would burst out in tears. I mean, as an Idol, you will need to face much more criticisms and pressures by the media and the audiences. You can't get the liking of everybody! And to combat that, only by one's confidence. There is a lack of confidence in Sly. I cringe everytime I see his face filled with anxiousness when part of the bottom few. An Idol should not feel anxious about results. Win or lose, they are always Idols as long as they think they are!

But looking at the other Idols left in the competition, I'd say, if not for Sly, I wouldn't even want to be a potato fan of SI.

Not Olinder.

She's fat.
Too fat to be an Idol. And hearing her sing a Teresa teng number in a Tsai Chin voice just now, all I can say to her is that, if she doesn't have the looks why not just play to her strengths and not give them all away like that. I don't like her hair too. I'm not really so much against that butch-length hair, but more against the ah soh-colour of her hair. Really, like who still does their hair in that ghastly red?! Only the ah soh selling chicken rice downstairs!

Oli, please, just get voted out next week and spare me the agony of staring at your hair!

Not Daphne.

She's whiny.
Her voice sounds so putting off that it's comparable to the sucky voice of Fiona Xie and Jeanette Aw both put together. I really can't imagine anyone buying her CDs in the future to hear her whining. Maybe tonedeaf fans and some deprived chee ko peks who got tired of Britney Speares whining and want something fresh for a change. And another very putting off thing about Daph, her eyes. There are so miniscule that I'm wondering if she can actually see her screaming fans? Okay, that's just me. I hate people with small eyes. Not hate, just think that people with small eyes don't look that nice, and shouldn't be Idols. Yup, I don't like other small eyed celebrities like Sharon Au, Sandy Lam, so shoot me won't you?

Not Taufik.

Even though he's the most talented person in the competition, I don't like him.
Friends would know why.
If you read my blog from first entry to last (but if you really do so, then I guess, you really have got nothing better to do, sad...) you would know why.
I'm sorry to those I might have offended.

So, if it's not Daphne, not Olinder, not Taufik, then I'll have to be supporting Sylvester, by default.

Political Science 1101 Exposure Module

Political Science 1101 Exposure Module

For people now piahing for this module, perhaps I can provide a little help. I've just got back my term paper and it was very well done, so I'd like to share it with everybody, hopefully some sense can get through in you if a similiar question or a question on Federalism comes out.

Presenting, Joan Ang's grade A political science paper...
(with end notes too!)

Is federalism the only option for governing multi-ethnic societies? Why or why not?

Federalism according to Andrew Heywood “refers to legal and political structures that distribute power territorially within a state”[1] and according to Cynthia H. Enloe it is “a solution to ethnic fragmentation”[2] hence it would be an option for governing multi-ethnic societies. However, to say that it is the only option would be a sweeping generalisation. I think that even though federalism is an option for the governing of multi-ethnic societies, it is not the only option as it is also possible to govern a multi-ethnic society under a unitary government. In some cases, these minority ethnic groups too fall under the rule of the central government but in some cases, there can be an autonomous rule within the unitary government. Still, a federal government might be more effective in dealing with ethnic issues thus it can be a preferred option of governing a multi-ethnic society. Nonetheless, the type of government which suits a state most also depends on what type of state it is as in some cases federalism might not be the best option of government. In fact, E. O. Awa thinks that ethnic and cultural forces “do not appear to be particularly important in inducing territories to form themselves into a federal union”[3].

Federalism is not the only option for governing a multi-ethnic society as some states with multi-ethnic society is under unitary governments and these strong central governments are successful in ensuring peace under their form of rule. This can be seen in the case of Britain where although it has a relatively large number of minorities living within, it remains a unitary state with the central power, the Parliament having “unrivalled and unchallengeable legislative authority”[4]. However, according to Enloe, “a unitary system [in multi-ethnic societies] may be feasible only in the presence of exclusion, coercion, or inequality”[5]. This can be seen in Britain where minority races are assimilated into the British society at the cost of their culture and identity and in some cases still deemed as inferior to the majority of whites. Still, even though this assimilation policy might undermine the minority races’ culture, these minorities have been living peacefully alongside the majority whites. Another unitary government alternative to federalism was the granting of autonomous status to the minority groups as a “tacit acknowledgement of the limited capacities of the central government”[6]. However, the central government would only do so as a last resort. For example, in China where the central government granted special autonomous statuses to the “non-Han Chinese peoples along the northern borders of China”[7] only because it was far out from then central and that these minorities had little to do with the majority of the other Chinese. With these other options, we can see that federalism is not the only option as government of a multi-ethnic society.

However, when there is a strong central rule without the government granting autonomous status to the minority races, other problems may also appear. For some other states especially the larger ones a strong central government has led to uprisings and rebellions of the various ethnic groups seeking independence or autonomous rule. This can be mirrored in Indonesia where despite a strong central government, there are many cases of rebellions and uprisings in various minority outlying islands. In such examples of multi-ethnicity and government, I think that perhaps federalism might suit Indonesia better than the present situation where outlying islands like Aceh and the already independent East Timor used force to attempt to achieve independence from Indonesia. Even so, it must be noted that Indonesia had started out her independent government as a federation and it was due to the rise of rebellions and freedom calls that forced Indonesia to turn to a strong central military government and used force to clamp down on these rebels to establish a unitary state. The failure of this federal system could be an inherent failure of federalism in general and hence it can be seen quite clearly that it is not necessary for a multi-ethnic society to have a federal government in power.

Under federalism, these individual states after experiencing a degree of self-government might fall under the impression that they can govern themselves independently and hence attempt to break free from the central government to form a new state. This was the reason for the failure of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia in 1950.[8] However, for Indonesia, it seems like even under a unitary government, it cannot fully control its various minority states from wanting to break free from the central government, hence, this might not be totally a failing of federalism but of problems pertaining to Indonesia itself. Still, federal rule can lead to ethnic fragmentation as the diverse ethnic groups do not have the chance to mingle freely with the other ethnic groups. This could lead to the eventual splitting up of the state as it was the case for Czechoslovakia where neither the Czechs nor the Slovaks was willing give in to each other for a compromise.[9] Other than such mutual disharmony, mutual suspicion and prolonged clashes between the various ethnic groups can also lead to a failure in federalism. This was part of the reason that Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965, when there was disharmony, suspicions and clashes between the Malays in Malaysia and the Chinese in Singapore.

While large multi-ethnic states expose the failings of federalism, we might induce that perhaps smaller states would have a better succeed rate in federalism. However, for small multi-ethnic states like Singapore, it is clear that it is also possible for a unitary government to rule the state with little “exclusion, coercion, or inequality”[10], but this is not a very widespread opposite to the general norm as Singapore is really a very small state and a history of general peace and stability among the different ethnic groups. Even in a successful multi-ethnic federal state like Malaysia, ethnicity was not a consideration when the choice of government was made. According to Awa, “the Union of the Federated Malay States [which led to the formation of later Malaysia] formed in 1895 was largely a result of the demands by the various commercial, agricultural and mining interests”[11] and not due to ethnic diversity. When the Federation of Malaysia was faced with ethnic conflicts between the Chinese and Malays, she reacted by the “expelling [of Singapore] from the union”[12] to relieve ethnic tensions between the two dominant races. In many cases of federalism being seen a tool for the governing of multi-ethnic societies is not so in reality as there might be other reasons for a federal state and the diverse societies can always be under some other form of state rule.

Even so, federalism can still be a good way to govern a multi-ethnic society as it gives the various ethnic groups “a range of autonomous powers and enjoy some measure of representation in central government”[13] while still under the large umbrella of a stronger state. Under this government, the various ethnic groups can draw up different sets of laws and legislations in accommodation to their culture and beliefs. This can be seen Quebec where its French speaking population differed with the majority of the other English speaking population. The federal government of Quebec under this system can thus exercise its difference without assimilating into the general population. However, such federalism without a mutual consensus between the central and federal government might lead to the “growth of separatism”[14] which might estrange ties between the two parallel governments as described earlier in the case of the split of Czechoslovakia.

I think that federalism is not the only option for governing multi-ethnic societies as examples have shown that multi-ethnic societies can also be governed by unitary rule, either by assimilating the minorities into the population of by means of granting a special autonomous rule to the minorities. In fact, in some circumstances like that of Czechoslovakia and Singapore, federalism not only did not alleviate the problem of ethnic conflict but also aggravated it thus forcing the ultimate decision for a split. Ethnic problems by itself is very complicated and the type of government to best govern a multi-ethnic society would be based almost entirely on the society itself. However, this does not mean that a unitary rule would be better than federal rule in a multi-ethnic society as there are also many problems that would afflict the unitary rule as seen in Indonesia where both federalism and a central government have failed to contain the separatist sentiments of ethnic groups in the outlying islands. Multi-ethnicity is a problem by itself. Perhaps the only way of solving these problems is to grant each ethnic group independence which would be also be unfeasible as these new states would be small and weak. In saying this, we must also note that it is not only multi-ethnic societies can be governed by federalism. Federalism can also be used to govern a single ethnic society like Germany.

End notes:
[1] Andrew Heywood, Politics, 2nd ed. (Great Britain: Palgrave Foundations, 2002), 161
[2] Cynthia H. Enloe, Ethnic Conflict and Political Development, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), 89
[3] E. O. Awa, Issues in Federalism, (Nigeria: Ethiope Publishing House, 1976), 35
[4] Andrew Heywood, Politics, 2nd ed. (Great Britain: Palgrave Foundations, 2002), 165
[5] Cynthia H. Enloe, Ethnic Conflict and Political Development, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), 135
[6] Cynthia H. Enloe, Ethnic Conflict and Political Development, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), 140
[7] Ibid
[8] Damien Kingsbury, Indonesian Military, (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 18-19
[9] Jim Seroka, “The Dissolution of Federalism in East and Central Europe”, in Evaluating Federal Systems, ed. Bertus De Villiers (Dordrecht/ Boston/ London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1994), 210-211
[10] Cynthia H. Enloe, Ethnic Conflict and Political Development, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), 135
[11] E. O. Awa, Issues in Federalism, (Nigeria: Ethiope Publishing House, 1976), 24
[12] E. O. Awa, Issues in Federalism, (Nigeria: Ethiope Publishing House, 1976), 19
[13] Andrew Heywood, Politics, 2nd ed. (Great Britain: Palgrave Foundations, 2002), 164
[14] Andrew Heywood, Politics, 2nd ed. (Great Britain: Palgrave Foundations, 2002), 165

So, this is my most pleased essay to date! And a grade A one too! And please give your comments about federalism, can drop me an email anytime.

I know that I do write well, but this grade A still came as a pleasant surprise as it can now be acknowledged that other people (like my dear tutor) do like my writings too. When my dear tutor read my essay outline, his comments were like I'd probably have trouble structuring my essay together to for a sustain argument, but I did it.

But before you guys start thinking that wow Joan's actually one smart girl contary to your thoughts, look at this,

Stupidity Symptoms 9
Joan was supposed to do her readings one night, and without thinking, she picked up a yellow ballpoint pen by her bed to highlight her readings and make notes. After completing the reading, Joan decided to continue to formulate ideas for her presentation of the readings the next day, so as usual, she did not do much thinking when she used the same pen to write down her points for her presentation. The next day, while doing her presentation, she realised that she can’t make out much of her writing. The reason was due to the fact that Joan forgot that she has astigmatism problems and she was wearing her astig-powered glasses the night before but wearing non-astig-contacts when she was doing her presentation and without the astig-powered glasses, the yellow was so light that words weren’t words, but yellow glob.

So there you see, she doesn't really have much common sense in her.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Is it? Not?

On a long bus ride home, she decided to take a nap. She knew she won't oversleep cos the ride was just too long. Even waking from her nap, she knew she would still be far from home. The ride was bumpy; her head became groggy. The nap wasn't that peaceful, but it was better than nothing and she had badly needed some rest.

After an hour of the bumpy bus ride, she awoke to see herself still a distance away from home. But she couldn't go back to sleep, the ride was getting bumpier than before, that stretch of road was under major construction. She knew that it was another half an hour away from home and she had a splitting headache, but she couldn't get the rest she badly needed.

She looked out of the window despotedly, watched the trees and cars going by her. Everything seemed so foreign to her after being away from home for so long.

Then her bus stopped by at a bus stop. Staring blankly out of the window, she saw a familiar figure. She seemed to have seen those eyes somewhere before, and that crop of hair, but something was different. The body was more matured than she had known. He looked a lot older. He looked 17. He was wearing an oversized black tee, seemed to have just ended a game of basketball with his friends who were around him at that bus stop.

His eyes turned towards her. He stared at her for two seconds before his gaze faltered away. It was as if he recognised her and wanted to take a second look at her, but was afraid that it seemed rather rude to stare at people, especially if he had mistaken. When he noticed from the side of his eyes that she wasn't looking in his direction, he brought his gaze back to her, holding it for another two seconds before she noticed him too, and he brought his gaze back to his friends. As the bus turned out of the bus stop and started to leave, he looked up again at her watching her bus leave but there was nothing he could do.

It wasn't until the bus pulled away from the bus stop that she noticed that she was doing exactly what he had done. Staring at him for two seconds and when he noticed her, she lowered her gaze to his feet and when his gaze faltered, she brought her eyes back to his face, searching for more familiarity.

The person she knew isn't that old, she thought. He's only like 13, isn't he, thoughts went through her mind. Wait, he was 13 four years ago. So, isn't he supposed to be 17 now? Exactly the age that she thought he was?

How he has grown. He used to be a small boy, scrawny and quiet, but now with the company of a group of friends and the nurture of sports, he has become a jock. He always had these big round eyes, rounder than herself's and a cute boyish look on his face with his floppy hair framing it. All these were still present in the image of him she saw.

How fast time flies, she thought.

It seems to most of us that certain images we have locked in our minds can never be removed. A person will always be how he was the last significant time you had seen him and it never occurs to you that over the years, you both have aged. You both may not be what you had remembered.

Of course, she may be wrong. The image of him she saw could probably be that of a person who happened to look similar. After all she knew of another person who looked like him.

But then again, she thought, if it was a case of similarities, why did he stared at her like he too knew her?

It was just a passing thought to her. Not long after, she was again groggy from the long bus ride. Her mind wasn't clear on what she was thinking. He just became one of nature's unsolved mysteries and a fleeting ripple in her monotonous life.

Was that you?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Bush

So, Kerry did not manage to chop down the Bush!

Personally, I would prefer John Kerry to have become the President instead of our dear George W Bush, but I'm not American, so I can only just rant here how and why so. I mean I can't even vote in our next elections.

Like most Asians polled by various media, I prefer Kerry to Bush mainly because I believe that it would be to our regional advantage if Kerry came to power as he seems less hard on our region than Bush. Not only that, I think Bush has a ridiculous stance on Iraq and his methods against terrorism seems rather debatable, and basically, Bush just looks like a pathetic president. The latter reason being purely a personal judgement and you can blast me for it, but I don't care.

Okay, now thinking a little bit more in depth, all my reasons are personal judgements. Personally, I'm against war and American occupation in Iraq, thus I think the Bush is ridiculous. My dear European Studies lecturer has labelled me as "revisionist" liao, so I don't think I can be any more radical by my next couple of remarks. I don't think Osama really has that close links with Iraq, so I'm really skeptical about the Bush using that reason for his occupation of Iraq, and I think it is stupid of Americans to just because of that Osama video change stance from Kerry to Bush at the very last minute. Well, actually, other than Osama driving the plane crashes, I don't think he is that of a terror. Yes, many people lost their lives in the 911 incident, but more people died in Iraq than at WTC, so I don't think Bush really validated his point of curbing terrorism. Cos, there I think there isn't much difference between war and terrorism, both kills people by hordes, it's just that war SEEMS more jusified than terrorism, yup, the keyword is SEEMS, cos I dont agree with it.

I don't see a difference between Osama and Bush (okay, so shoot me! I've already been shot my that lecturer who called me REVISIONIST, so...), they both make use of other people's lives to achieve their own utopia. Not saying that I'm for Osama, it's just that I'm against Bush and I think that Osama is just like Hitler, misguided about their ideals. It a way, I think that it is the same for Bush. Yup, for those who don't know, I was labelled revisionist due to my comments on Hitler...

On another note, this US election result is interesting in that we can see that Asians really see things in different perspectives from Americans. For Kerry, even though he lost, he can take pride in that he is more popular in Asia than the Bush. Okay, so my point is that why are Asians different from Americans? Maybe to Asians, Islam isn't that foreign and scary to us that we need not the radical methods of the Bush to counter against it. Really, I think that Osama video really did skew the election results just like the bullet incident skew up the Taiwanese election results.

Another could be that, the polls done were before the Osama video was shown, so the Asians did not see the need for more Bush security even though they are really scared of Osama.

On a very personal note against Bush is that I really can't stand his daughter. I mean who in a right mind would wear a dress that would go transparent under flashlights to a function knowing that she would be photographed without wearing a bra? Her brainlessness can only be accorded that she has bad genes. Man... Don't Bush know how to teach his children?

But then again, US presidents, or presidential candidates, all seems to have rather screwed up personal lives. Remember the Bill Clinton uproar when he did his intern? If our dear Lee Hsien Loong ever do a Bill, or his daughter do a Bush, they can forget about continuing their lives in Singapore much less remain our dear Prime Minister. It was already scandalous enough that his first wife commited suicide (remember, it's against the law to commit suicide in Singapore?) and that he actually got himself a second wife. At least his second wife was clean and not someone whose first husband died and left her with a huge business empire (think: Kerry, ha!).

Ending the gossips on a nicer tone, here, via the vast Internet, I'd like to extend my congradulations to Mr Bush for winning a second term to serve his people just as long as he maintain current relations with Singapore. Cos other than that, I don't think he will actually affect me that much, so whoever it is who wins, by all means I will accept you (like what else can I do?). Serve you people well, Bush, and try not to do anything stupid, little Joan here wishing you best of luck in the next couple of years and hopefully after that, Kerry can succeed you much against your wishes.

Ever notice that after every elections in whatever country, Singapore will try her best to send out letters of congradulations as soon as she can to the winning party? And she would state that she is very pleased that [insert name of winning party] came out as victors and would wish that party all the best. I bet the letter is saved and reused every time a party wins elections with just alterations to the part after "dear".

That is what I'd call, politically correct.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Champion

The Champion, Channel 8 9pm on Monday-Fridays

This is what one can consider as a typical idol drama. It has a stupid girl, a slow guy, a vindictive girl, a single-minded guy, a dashing guy, a commitment-phobic girl, a married guy with kid in tow, and the ku3 qing2 girl with cripple sis in tow. What more would one need in a drama?

I hate it so much that I think I actually love it. So far I've only missed half and hour of the show since it started running. Maybe it's because I've got nothing better to do so I squat by my little tv screen waiting for that show to screen like almost every day.

Okay, there are some pretty good eye candy in the show that compiled me to start watching it. There's Yan Xingshu. Tall, athletic, decent features, and a damn good bod. hehe... He isn't a national basketballer for nothing, but putting him in a swimming drama seems a bit wasteful of talent. Then there's Toro who I just can't seem to get myself to like his character. If I ever get to know a guy like his character, I'd probably hate him man. Okay, ya, some people say I'm SM, I like the chauvinistic kind of guys, but, that's me, so don't shoot me.

Actually, I think I can't stand like all of the characters. They all seem to be flawed in some way or another, especially so that I can't stand. I hate wishy-washy people, I hate women who steals other people's boyfriend, especially when the guy doesn't even like her, I hate girls who think that they are superior to guys, I hate guys who won't admit their own feelings, I hate girls who have nothing better to do than worrying about who like or don't like them, and I hate girls who keep guys at their beck and calls. So basically, I don't like any one of the characters in the show.

What's worse is the quality of the actors and actresses. Fiona Xie! I mean, her voice is so pathetic, just looking at her pitiful face and hearing her that voice, I know I won't like her. Okay, she fits her character very well. And when compared to Xiaoqiao's character, she is an angel, but still, I think I just got something against Fiona Xie. Jeanette Aw! Another person who can't speak well. She speaks in so broken up pieces that I just feel like calling her to shut up and just act nice. Ya, and put her voice beside Fiona Xie, she's just great. But what's worse is the horrendous mix of different accents in the show. How can you explain a family who speaks totally different from each other? A father who speaks Singapore accented Mandarin, an elder sister who speaks Singapore English accented Mandarin, a brother who speaks Taiwanese accent Chinese, and a younger sister who speaks jiang3 hua2 yu3 campaign Mandarin.

To a prerenially deprived girl here, the highlights of the show seems to be the better qualitied guys. Yup... Yan Xingshu, Qi Yuwu... Qi Yuwu too has a good bod, but his hair is so terrible that he seems to be having bad hair days every day, and although he has a good bod, what's up with not giving him any shirts to wear?! I think he's like 40% of the time topless, 40% of the time in an unbuttoned shirt and the rest more decently dressed. Yan Xingshu is in much better taste. A nice haircut, nice shirts, and only going topless once in a while. The Chinese have a saying, wu4 yi3 xi1 wei2 gui4 meaning the lesser quantity of a commodity, the more precious it is, I think the same would apply to these guys bods.

The other two imported guys, Toro and Huaien are so ... The pale pathetically compared to Yan Xingshu. Toro is like so scrawny, and short, and well, diminished in stature and that doesn't go well on screen with Fiona Xie. Not saying she is fat cos she isn't, but she is big on her top half of her body and that makes Toro look much smaller beside her. Huaien, well, if you remember what I wrote about Zhang Ziyi in 2046, then that would be Huaien's problem. Apparently Singapore's tropical climate didn't really do well with his complexion. But, giving him some credit, aren't there like good make up artists in TCS? Close up scenes of Huaien's character see his concealler in a different shade as his foundation. And any girl would know that this is a big big no no.

Although I can't think of any good thing to say about the show, I don't know why I'm so addicted to it. Maybe I just have nothing better to do. hehe...