Children’s books featuring gay families to be destroyed

***

Update 19 July 2014 – Some good news. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim has stopped the National Library from destroying two of the children’s titles, specifically ‘And Tango Makes Three’ and ‘The White Swan Express’, issuing the order that they be moved to the adult section instead, where parents can borrow them for their children. However, a third title, ‘Who’s In My Family?’ has sadly already been ‘pulped’.

To read more on this development, click on this link to go to the AFP News article I got the information from, via Yahoo! News Singapore.

***

I’m deeply disappointed by the news I came across on Yahoo! Singapore that our National Library are going to destroy some children’s books that depict families with gay parents.

What happened:

Two children’s books ‘And Tango Makes Three‘ and ‘The White Swan Express‘ were removed after a member of the public, a Teo Kai Loon, had e-mailed the National Library Board (NLB) voicing his concerns about them.

A Yahoo! News Singapore article reported that:

… In supposedly two days, NLB responded to Teo’s e-mail complaint, stating that the books have been withdrawn following his feedback. NLB emphasised that it “takes a strong pro-family stand in selecting books for children” and “when library visitors like yourself [Teo] highlight to us any conflicting content within books, we review such books thoroughly and withdraw them from circulation”.

The response was signed by Tay Ai Cheng, the assistant chief executive and chief librarian of the NLB.

A member of the Facebook group “We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore”, Teo then posted NLB’s response to him on July 8. He did not include the contents of his original e-mail complaint in the post. In the post, Teo called other members of the group to “continue to scrutinise the catalogue and not allow such children books to go under the radar screen”. He also encouraged people to email NLB if they had any concerns, saying that the NLB takes swift action, “all within 2 days”. However, Teo’s Facebook post in the group has since been removed.

What disturbs me:

That the books are to destroyed, instead of simply being given away to people who want them, which would serve the same objective of not having them on the library’s shelves anymore.

I simply don’t understand why the books must be destroyed. To me this reeks of a book-burning exercise, which is shocking and extreme. As a gay person, heck as any thinking and feeling human being, to me it’s like making a damning statement, in this case against gay parenting and therefore gay people.

I don’t care to ever be a parent myself. And so when I read or hear of condemnation to the idea of gays being parents, I admit it’s something that just whizzes by me as just one of the many injustices that is part of life. But not before it slashes me up inside in tiny painful cuts in ways you will never know or understand, unless like me you are a gay person who grew up with straight parents, in a ‘straight environment’, not to mention religious even, but who still suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of people who considered themselves straight, who led straight lives. It happened over a number of years in my childhood.

I’m not traumatised anymore, I function alright. But to be a grown adult already in my 40s and still be weighed down with malaise and sorrow by vivid memories of those episodes that still hit me out of the blue every so often, there is always a bitter smile or laugh in me when I read or hear ignorant and prejudiced people thinking that the safe wellbeing of children depends on whether the parents are gay or straight.

Anyway, whatever, these are just my own scars, from my own experience of my own childhood, which of course also contains happy memories as well. The opinion I want to express here is just that: if we don’t agree with something, that’s fine, but why to the harsh extent of ‘pulping’ such books that are sympathetic to what we don’t agree with?

And what a sad waste of books and money too. I wish they would just give them away to the adults who want them.

Why my grief

My sadness and disappointment stems mostly from that I was very fond of our National Library. I have always loved it and never took this noble public service for granted, even before I started travelling especially to some of our neighbouring countries, where even the most basic public infrastructure like proper pedestrian pavements can be messed up, let alone luxuries like public libraries which are practically non-existent. (After travelling, I consider our libraries a luxury.) I think I have mentioned in this blog a few times how I love and appreciate our National Library, for example in this post here.

Hence the deep disappointment. Now It’s like the love is suddenly tainted or something. It’s like now I feel I might have to reluctantly let go a friend I’m actually fond of. Because how do you remain friends with someone you can’t respect.

***

The books in question:

The three titles to be pulped are:

1. And Tango Makes Three, (2005) written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole.

SONY DSC

A photograph of parent and blogger Joyce reading ‘And Tango Makes Three‘ to her daughter. Added here 14 July 2014, with her kind permission. From the excellent review of the book from her family blog TOT: HOT OR NOT. Click image to go there.

From Wikipedia:

The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life when they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.

The book has won many awards but also been at the center of numerous censorship and culture war debates on same-sex marriage, adoption, and homosexuality in animals. The American Library Association reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most challenged book of 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most challenged.

The following video is a wonderful narration of the moving story, from YouTube user John Mark Johnson.

 

2. The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption (2002), written by Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine M. Aoki, illustrated by Meilo So.

the-white-swan-express

Image as seen on The Online Citizen. Click image to go there.

The story is about children adopted by straight, gay, mixed-race and single parents. A description as seen on Amazon.com:

In China, the moon shines on four baby girls, fast asleep in an orphanage. Far away in North America, the sun rises over four homes as the people who live there get ready to start a long, exciting journey. This lovely story of people who travel to China to be united with their daughters describes the adoption process step by step and the anxiety, suspense, and delight of becoming a family. Told with tenderness and humor, and enlivened by joyous illustrations, The White Swan Express will go straight to readers’ hearts.

Click here for a sweet and delightful review of the book.

3. Who’s In My Family?: All About Our Families (2012), written by Robie H. Harris, and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott.

Who_Family_HB_p10_UK

An image from the book ‘Who’s In My Family?’, as seen on walker.co.uk, via Google Image Search. Click to go there.

A description of the book from Goodreads.com:

Trusted New York Times best-selling author Robie H. Harris continues her series for preschoolers with a look at the many kinds of families that make up our world.

Join Nellie and Gus and their family — plus all manner of other families — for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal — and totally wonderful

Click here for a review of the book. And here to go to the website of the author Robie H. Harris.

***

Some of the voices defending the books:

***

Other related articles:

 

 

Advertisements

Danish Seamen’s Church

I came across this interesting and distinctive building while on a walk with a friend at Mount Faber Park. I was surprised to come across a church set up by a specific country. I didn’t realise there’s such a big community of Danes in Singapore.

DSCN2605_01

DSCN2604_01According to the website of the Danish Embassy, the Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore was founded in 1984.

The history of the building though goes back to 1909 when construction began, and completed the following year. I read in a fascinating article by Daniel Seifert on Yahoo! News Singapore that it was built as a private residence and named Golden Bell Mansion by Tan Boo Liat. From the article:

He named the house after his grandfather, Tan Kim Ching, whose name translates to Golden Bell. Boo Liat was the great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng, one of Singapore’s richest men and earliest philanthropists. Much of the family’s wealth was based on Tan Tock Seng’s shrewd business dealings, which saw him owning prime areas of land on the island, including orchards, plantations and shophouses.

… Designed with some elements of colonial style, Golden Bell Mansion had four bedrooms, a billiard room, a smoking room and a dining room. Wee Moh Teck, then a well-known architect, designed the mansion. Its distinctive façade, done in the Edwardian style, is known as ‘blood-and-bandages’ for the colour of the red bricks and white plaster. The mix of styles incorporates Straits Chinese influences and even a Thai stupa, a nod to Tan Boo Liat’s strong links with Thailand — he was on close terms with the King of Thailand and in 1920 was awarded an honorary title by the royal family.

The same article also informed that there are more than 1500 members of the Danish community in Singapore.

I would have loved to have a quiet look inside but the gates were closed. Maybe next time. I really enjoy the walk at Mount Faber Park and plan to do it again.

***

Related, or rather just some articles I came across that made me smile while looking for info on the church:

  • Today Online: Why the Danish mermaid is happier than the Singapore Merlion
  • The Joy-Care Network: The Singapore Merlion is richer than the Danish Mermaid but she is happier – World Happiness Report

***

Day 71

The Health Promotion Board’s FAQs on Sexuality

I just came to know of our Health Promotion Board’s FAQs page on sexuality, thanks to a Yahoo! News Singapore article by Michelle Kwara.

From the list of questions, I see it’s meant to help parents who have gay or bisexual children, or think their children may be gay or bisexual. I can’t begin to describe how unusual I think this is, how surprising and heart-warming, how necessary and important this step from a government body like the HPB is.

Questions listed include:

  • Is my child normal? Is being gay or bisexual a mental illness? Should they seek medical help?
  • Where can my child find support in Singapore?
  • Can homosexuals have long lasting relationships?
  • Will my child feel like he or she has let me down by being gay or bisexual?
  • How should I react if my friends notice my child’s sexual orientation?
  • Are homosexual and bisexual men more likely to get STIs/HIV?

I didn’t expect this, but I just started crying when I read some of the questions on the list. I just sat in front of my monitor and wept for all the parents who had to ask these questions, regardless of whether they eventually accept their children or not. I don’t have children and will never know or understand their pain, and confusion, their terror and helplessness, their anger and their trepidation that the world had just gotten that much harder and more cruel for their kids.

***

The delicious irony is that apparently the FAQs page has been up since November last year, but became viral only in the past few days when someone named ‘Aaron’ started a petition against it on 3rd February, because he thinks it “dangerously promotes homosexuality“, and urges Health Minister Gan Kim Yong to conduct a review of the website’s information.

So basically, if Aaron had not been mean enough to criticise something that was only meant to offer some help and comfort to parents who are anxious and struggling with their children’s sexuality, I and I’m sure many other people would not have even heard of the FAQs page.

So, thanks Aaron, for the publicity! May news of this FAQ page reach many more Singaporeans and far and wide all over the world, so that more praise and thanks can go to the deserving team at HPB.

***

The following day, 4th February, a counter-petition was set up thanks to a Melissa Tsang, recommending that Minister Gan “ignore the ridiculously misinformed and regretfully bigoted petition“. It points out that “The health, safety, and wellbeing of LGB (err, where’s the T, though?) youth should not be battleground for the homophobic to advance their agenda, especially not to the HPB. Opponents can ride their moral high horse elsewhere.

It also urges HPB to “restore the original version.” Because, as Yahoo! writer Ms. Kwara reports, the original had featured links to organizations where the parents can seek further information and counselling:

The original sexuality FAQ had contained links to various lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) organizations and counseling hotlines such as Oogachaga, SAFE and AFA Singapore, in an answer to “Where can my child find support in Singapore?”. These links have since been removed.

I hope they will be restored. Thank goodness for the internet, but the links should still be restored because it’s the right thing. My God, it’s just outlets to help that those links offer to connect to. Why deny people the help they need for emotional wellness?

***

Lastly, how cool is it that the Health Promotion Board’s ‘FAQs on sexuality‘ does not neglect to address bisexuality?! I’ve read articles on how bisexuals are not taken seriously even by some gay people. I don’t know the prevalence of this. Here’s a link to this related article and another one.

***

Related:

  • Oogachaga – Counselling and support organization for LGBTQ individuals
  • SAFE – ‘Supporting, affirming and empowering our LGBTQ friends and family.’
  • AFA – Action for AIDS Singapore
  • Pink Dot SG – Facebook

***

Update 17 February 2014:

Mobile anonymous HIV testing available at nightspots in Singapore

According to a Yahoo! News Singapore article by Sheela Sarvananda, the venues for this service provided by Action for AIDS Singapore (AFA) include popular clubs such as DYMK and Tantric.

In discreet corners of these nightspots, volunteers from AFA conduct anonymous testing for any patron who wish to have one for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). These volunteers give out information and let the patrons know that a quick test is available, in a quiet area of the premise away from prying eyes. Some quick points:

  • Participants fill up a questionnaire (meant only for data collection for future outreach efforts),
  • have the oral swab done,
  • then return to be informed of the result in about just an hour.
  • Their personal information are not collected at all, even if the results are positive.

Sheela also writes that:

Professor Roy Chan, Action for AIDS President, says the anonymous aspect of these tests creates a necessary bridge which reaches out directly to those who might be affected, but are yet unable or unwilling to have themselves tested by going to a clinic.

… Professor Chan also says making sure Singaporeans remain aware of AIDS and ensuring testing is accessible are both critical in managing HIV-infection numbers in Singapore overall, and in particular, in the MSM (“men who have sex with men”) community. This would also provide AFA with a better handle on what the statistics indicate, in terms of trends with the illness.

“Twenty-five or 30 years ago, it was much more evident that it was a fatal disease. With the advent of very effective treatment for HIV today, it is not a fatal disease now. Because people are not dying, it is not as visible. But the truth of the matter is that there are more people getting infected today that there were 20 years ago.”

Some people who took the anonymous test were interviewed. A Singaporean man was quoted as saying:

“It is a very good thing for the community, because I don’t think enough men who have sex with men get tested. And when you make it mobile and you bring it to them instead, it makes people more receptive. If you are sexually-active, whether you use condoms or not – because of the probability of a gay man having several partners – do the responsible thing and get yourself tested. If you are positive and you pass it on to someone else, do you want that hanging on your conscience? I don’t think so.”

Each test is S$30, cash only to protect the identity of the person having the test done.

For a comprehensive information regarding the procedure, please click here to go to the relevant page on the AFA website. (Click the tab called ‘MTS Process’). That link also provides the page for the Mobile Testing Service Schedule.

***

If you wish to visit their clinic instead for the anonymous test, the info I got from their website regarding address and operating hours is as follows. Please check the website before going in case there are any changes/updates:

Ongoing ATS Operating Hours: The Anonymous Test Site will be operating as follows:

Tues – 18:30hr to 20:15hr
Wed – 18:30hr to 20:15hr
Sat – 13:30hr to 15:15hr

Please note they are closed this Saturday the 30th of November for their Gala.

Address and contact:

9 Kelantan Lane #03-01
Singapore 208628
Tel : 6254 0212
Fax : 6256 5903
E-mail : info@afa.org.sg

***

Related:

  • Facebook of Action for AIDS Singapore (AFA)
  • Facebook for Be Positive, a campaign that aims to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase the acceptance of persons living with HIV.
  • Oogachaga: a not-for-profit organization in Singapore providing counselling and personal development for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals.

Jeff Probst

I was just noting the other day how British singer Robbie Williams (aged 39) and British chef Gordon Ramsay (aged 46) look fantastic and in-shape, and now I’ve come across more pictures of more older men looking great.

Maybe it’s time to start a new category for hot older men who inspire me keep at it in getting in shape. A little (or a lot of) eye candy never hurt anyone. It just makes you go “ooh, yummy” but won’t give you Type 2 Diabetes, haha!

Here is a picture of Jeff Probst that is recently making the rounds in online media, and rightly so, because his physique is so impressive. The picture is from his guest appearance on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men. I think a lot of people were surprised by how impressive. I know I am. I mean, he had always looked fit, but wow. And the guy is in his fifties already!

Jeff Probst 4074c650-ab9e-4ce3-a5dc-52ce0692e6ef_Jeff

Credit: CBS. Via sg.entertainment.yahoo.com. Click image to go there.

Jeff Probst, 52, is a host of various shows, but most famously that of Survivor, the reality game show that believe is or not is still going strong since May 2000, and is now into it’s 27th season.

He is also a minister, ordained by Universal Life Church Monastery (ULC) in 1999 and had remarried his parents for their 35th wedding anniversary. Reading about this church for the first time, I have discovered via their website, that they provide free online ordination to anyone, and have ordained more than 20 million people. Some of the many other celebrities they have ordained as ministers include actress Sharon Stone, knighted actor Sir Ian McKellen, ‘penectomy survivor’ John Wayne Bobbit, and musician Courtney Love. To say that’s interesting is a bit of an understatement.

I found another photo of Jeff Probst, featured below. I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. This one looks better to me than the waxed Ken doll look above, as impressive as the defined muscles are in that photo.

And fit bod aside, he sure has a gorgeous smile. Happy and full of life.

Jeff Probst tumblr_mcnmgiBnT91r7b601o1_500

From the tumblr site TheMoInMontrose. Click to go there.

And oh, I was wondering if I pronounce his name properly and wanted to check that, and came across this hilarious spoof of pronunciation videos.

‘Stop Hurting, Quit Labeling.’ A campaign for LGBT workplace equality in Singapore

There is a campaign going on to create awareness about workplace discrimination and to raise funds for legal costs.

People can donate to this cause via an account set up at the crowd funding site Indiegogo, where the campaign is headlined “Article 12 campaign for LGBT workplace equality”, with the summary tagline “Lawrence Wee, represented by lawyer M. Ravi, seeks to get Article 12 of the Constitution to include equal protection for LGBT workers.”

The campaign seeks to raise $30,000, which according to the Indiegogo page is needed for expenses that include “court costs, lawyers’ fees and sundry expenses, as well as the costs of campaigning.”

I first read about it on Yahoo! News Singapore in an article by Nurul Azliah Aripin, who wrote:

A former Robinsons employee seeking constitutional protection against workplace discrimination of homosexual men has launched a campaign to create awareness about the issue and raise funds for legal costs.

Lawrence Bernard Wee Kim San, together with seven other people, launched the campaign “Stop hurting, quit labeling” on Friday evening at the home of film and theatre director Glenn Goei. About 50 people turned up at the event to show their support, including local actors Lim Yu Beng and Neo Swee Lin, and former Singapore Democratic Party member Vincent Wijeysingha.

Ms. Aripin also wrote that Mr. Wee had filed a civil suit against his former employer last December for allegedly harassing him and forcing him to resign because he’s gay. The suit was dismissed on contractual grounds.

That is a horrifying story indeed, to be fired from our jobs just because we are who we are. More details on that are spelt out in this Fridae.asia article. Kudos to the immense courage of Lawrence Wee for standing up for what he believes in not just for himself but for the rest of us.

Lawrence Wee 161693

Lawrence Wee. Image from Fridae.asia. Click to go to source.

From the campaign page on Indiegogo:

Concerned that the law is ambiguous, Lawrence is now asking the High Court to judge whether Article 12 of our Constitution, which guarantees all persons equal protection of the law should also apply to people on the basis of their sexuality.

Article 12(2) states that “…there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law…”

Lawrence, who worked at Robinson’s for six years before he was sacked, believes that people should be allowed to prove their worth at work, without fear that an immutable characteristic does not become a millstone around their neck.

Related:

Kick-ass underboob

This is both funny and sad: a young woman in a revealing cosplay costume, got the police called on her allegedly by another, older, woman. I read the report on Yahoo! News Singapore, by Ms. Nurul Azliah who wrote:

The woman had reportedly been offended by the revealing costume worn by the cosplayer at the Anime Festival Asia, which was held at Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 8-10 November. According to video game blog Kotaku.com, the woman had called the police after seeing the female cosplayer wearing an outfit that had exposed the bottom part of her breasts — it is an area known as the “underboob”.

Personally, I really like the costume, it looks awesome. I have never been into all this manga or anime stuff or anything related to Japanese comics, or any comics, period. The closest I got to comics was reading one or two graphic novels.

I’ve seen many images of cosplay online, and they can be pretty risque. This particular one the girl is wearing in the photo looks amazing. She obviously spent a lot of effort (and money?!) to indulge in her passion for this, including for hair and makeup and stuff. I hope the boys in the background appreciated her effort too and asked to take some pics. Because the photo could read like they were thinking, “Meh…okaaayy, moving on now…“. Just kidding.

(Five seconds after publishing this post: I decided to withdraw said photo from this post just in case she’s still upset and pissed off over the whole incident. Besides her face is already featured in the Yahoo! article and anyone can look at it there.)

When it comes to women covering up or wearing revealing clothes, I think they should all be respected and left alone with the choices they have made for themselves. Whether it’s for an everyday outfit or a costume for a special occasion. It’s their body and their life. We look away if we don’t like it, and keep our judgements behind closed lips.

The Yahoo article also included a quote from someone who said that:

“…The police did not arrest anyone, and the cosplayer in question is not in trouble, although she was rather traumatised.”

Oh the poor girl! I hope her family and friends have rallied round her. If indeed traumatised, that’s something any one of us can understand. Even grown adults would feel apprehension and indignation at having the police called on them, and the girl looks like a young teenager. I hope she will recover from this and get back to her love for cosplay.

Related:

Itchy fingers touching a painting at a museum? This is a hundred times worse

I was stunned, catching the local news on Channel 5 on the report about the woman who ruined an art installation called ‘Kinetic Rain‘ at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport. And now I’ve read some details about it on Yahoo! News Singapore, from an article by Ms. Jeanette Tan, who reported that the woman appeared to have climbed over a railing and got onto a safety net secured under the art installation, where she then grabbed and pulled at pieces of the hanging art.

Having managed to pull one piece loose, a metallic-looking object shaped like a raindrop, she tied it to her wrist and made her way off the safety net, across a thin metal wire to get to a railing. Like an acrobat! From what I saw in the video below, uploaded by a Mr. Chester Chua.

That’s just disgusting. I love art, in my own general way. I’m certainly no art aficionado, but you don’t have to be one to feel really disappointed and pissed off by such utter disrespect. What the hell is wrong with some people.

The video below shows what the installation used to look like. If they ever get around to repairing it, I’m going to make my way to the airport just to have a look. It looked stunning. I haven’t been to the airport for some time and didn’t know there is (was, rather) such a beautiful art piece there.

Click the link to the Yahoo! News Singapore article in the first paragraph above, to see a photo of what Kinetic Rain looks like yesterday afternoon all ruined, and photos documenting the woman in the act.

Aishah Samad

IMG_0578

From Yahoo! Sports Singapore. Click to go there.

I read about this lady and was totally blown away by her strength and attitude.

An article from Yahoo! Sports Singapore written by Ewan Mah which I chanced upon last weekend tells the story of 41-year-old Aishah Samad. Just a year ago, she suffered a bacterial infection that left her hospitalised for months at the ICU of Changi Hospital. On top of that, gangrene set in and resulted in her losing all four of her limbs below her joints.

My head was spinning at the thought of an illness suddenly striking a healthy person like that, and things escalating so quickly and viciously that limbs, in this case all four, are lost. Ignoramus me went all ‘huh?‘ and thinks that bacterial infection sounds like virus infection, as in, it sounds like flu and the like. So I quickly typed ‘bacterial infection causing loss of limbs‘ on Google Search and was quickly greeted by a lot of scary information, the kind that makes me go weak at the knees. Really, life and good health are so fragile, and can be so fleeting.

***

Aishan_ST-and-lim-chea-rong

Photos by ST and Lim Chea Rong. From yourhealth.asiaone.com. Click to go there.

Well the thing about Aishah is that she was already a remarkable woman before her ordeal that began last year. She was a member of the national shooting team and bronze medallist at the 2003 SEA GAmes. She had to retire from the sport after a new management at her workplace wouldn’t let her take the time off to train for the months leading up to major competitions. But life went on. The single mum to two kids (now grown, aged 21 and 18) became a coach to guide the next generation of Singapore marksmen. I read in an AsiaOne article dated 17th May that the strong and independent woman did her own DIY projects around the house and once rode solo on a motorcycle to Thailand.

Then her world came crashing down after the severe bacterial infection that began only last July. But she picked herself up, which is already remarkable enough. But to do it in mere months, oh my God, where does she find the will and the strength. And as if that’s not mind-blowing enough, there’s her beautifully sunny attitude about her present and future, her optimism and continued zest for life. She’s raring to go. Look at that smile.

IMG_0577

From Yahoo! Sports Singapore. Click to go there.

She was discharged in October, a month after the amputations. She completed her physiotherapy by January, and decided she wants to compete at the Paralympics. From the Yahoo! article:

By then (January), she had decided she was going to aim higher than she had ever aimed in life. Aishah was going to pick up her rifle again and compete.

“I miss the smell of gun powder. None of this air rifle stuff. I do the 50 metre live rounds event.” she glares, then smiles cheekily. “I just want to be in the sport I love. I also want to create awareness for those people like me that we are no worse off than you people,” she says, gesturing towards me with an invisible hand.

She is looking forward to receiving her new prosthetic arms to begin competitive training:

Having received S$130,000 after a fund raising charity fun shoot in May, Aishah will now be able to afford the most advanced $40,000-$70,000 prosthetic for her right shooting arm. She still faces a wait from overseas distributors, and at least another two months of training before she can finally do the things people usually take for granted.

“I’ll be able to brush my teeth, wash my face, pick up things. The movements (of the fingers) will of course be more robotic than usual, but I’ll be able to shoot and more importantly, be confident that it’ll be safe when I’m handling my rifle. I’ll also be the first in Singapore to have such advanced prosthetics.”

I can’t really describe the sense of awe and admiration I feel. It’s almost suffocating, it’s overwhelming.

We come by stories of these heroes every so often. Some have a hold on us more than others. I still remember the story of this elderly Chinese lady in Singapore too from a newspaper article that I read perhaps ten or twenty years ago, who lives in poverty and survives by recycling discarded cans and other stuff, but who still donates I think $50 of her meagre monthly income, because she reckons no matter how bad her situation is, there are always people even worse off. If I had known I would still be thinking of her every now and then, I would have saved that article and framed it up or something.

I have a strong feeling I won’t be forgetting the story of Aishah Samad so easily too.

Vincent Wijeysingha

600px-Vincent_Wijeysingha_at_Greenridge_Secondary_School,_Singapore_-_20110427

Image by Wikipedia user ‘Jacklee’. Click to go to source.

Vincent Wijeysingha became Singapore’s first openly gay politician, when he came out on his Facebook last Friday the 28th. I read this on Yahoo! News Singapore the following day. According to the article by Shah Salimat, Vincent wrote:

“…yes, I am going to Pink Dot tomorrow. And yes, I am gay.”

Writing about him here, I want to include the link to that declaration, but I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, the link to his Facebook is here.

Oh wow, we now have an openly gay politician. How amazing is that? This is huge. Needless to say (but saying it anyway), it is incredibly brave of him to do so. He has so much to lose, so much more hardship and obstacles now to face as a consequence, but he did it anyway. Major balls. I hope his family, friends, colleagues, and everyone else who know him personally especially, all rally round him and give him further strength and motivation.

To be honest I don’t really follow politics. Before this, if you had shown me a picture of him, I would recognize him as one of the opposition guys running in the last election in 2011, but I wouldn’t remember his name. Now, yeah, I even know how to spell it. And even marvel that his name has ‘singha‘ in the end. That means ‘lion‘, as in part of ‘lion city‘, ‘Singapura‘, the very name of the country he loves and serves! Too cool, right?

And to add to that, I even start to look more closely at him and think… hmmm, he’s actually goodlooking. (The above picture doesn’t do him justice. He has a sweet attractive smile in some of the other pictures I saw.) Yes, I’m superficial like that sometimes. *shrugs*

Some stuff I learnt about him from Wiki and his Facebook:

  • Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha (born 1970) is a politician and civil activist from Singapore.
  • He studied at Victoria School in Singapore, then headed to the United Kingdom and studied at the University of Lincoln, earning his PhD in social policy at the University of Sheffield. He lived in England for almost 16 years before moving back to Singapore.
  • He is currently the Treasurer of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and a member of its Central Executive Committee. He also heads its Communications Unit.
  • Dr Wijeysingha has stated that he joined the SDP because he realised he had a responsibility as a Singaporean to work for change, saying that: “I cannot look the other way as more and more people experience the adverse effects of current PAP policies.”[*]
  • He was previously Executive Director of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a non-government organization advocating the rights of low-waged migrant workers.
  • He also lectures and publishes scholarly papers on social work.
  • Currently he teaches social work at SIM University.

Related articles: