The self-description in the usual, proper CV format and tone must be the dullest in the world! Yet the factual details of one’s birth, education, marital status, professional milestones, achievements, awards, etc have become de rigueur in the formal self-introduction. What I would like to do is to reduce all these to a single short paragraph, get it out of the way (see box below), and do the more enjoyable, personalised thing.
Yes. All those titillating bits of gossip that the society magazines circulate about me are true. I’m a swinging single, one of those women in Singapore who, despite being well past sixty, are still having fun going on dinner, movie and theatre dates!
No. All those rumours over the years about the PAP Government trying to do me in for my strong views, aren’t true. Friends told me they had heard from ‘reliable sources’ that I would have my citizenship revoked, I was under secret surveillance, my phone was being tapped, I was being followed, I was once visited by the secret police in the dead of night…
Yes, it is true what I had once said of myself in an interview—that I was ‘a mass, and a mess, of irreconciliables’! I’m indeed a repository of countless contradictions and opposites: I’m both a liberal feminist (the result of my western education and exposure) and a conservative (the persistent influence of my Confucianist upbringing); an unabashed atheist but also a deeply spiritual person in the sense of being concerned about all matters pertaining to the human spirit, especially its struggle against the destructive forces of modern living; an idealist (I yearn for the ideal of a truly democratic and free society) but also a pragmatist (I realise that in the end, the only freedom people want is freedom from poverty)
So do I want to resolve all these contradictions? No. I think it’s better to deal with them, honestly and sensibly, as they arise, to engage them, and see them as part of the process of one’s emotional and intellectual growth.
Born 1942, in then Malaya; educated in the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus; obtained basic degree in then University of Malaya, post-graduate degrees in University of Singapore. Divorced, two children; daughter Jean a doctor in Hong Kong, son Peter a journalist in the United States. A full time writer in Singapore; also a political commentator and a guest lecturer on cruise ships. Awards include Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Murdoch University, Southeast Asia Write Award, The Online Citizen Lifetime Achievement Award, and Humanist of the Year Award from the Humanist Society.
About This Site
The following article was first published on journalism.sg under the title, “Why I am Going Online”, on November 5th, 2007.
For the past 13 years, my political commentaries had been published by the Straits Times. Some of them were transcripts of speeches I had made at government organisations such as the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Institute of Policy Studies. It had both surprised and gratified me that Singapore’s leading newspaper was willing to publish articles that were critical of the government and that broached on sensitive topics such as the lack of political freedom in Singapore. While the first commentary titled ‘The Great Affective Divide: the Estrangement between the PAP Government and the People’ which came out in 1994, provoked an angry response from the Government, there had been no official response to my subsequent articles, which was rather disappointing to me, as I had wanted them to give rise to discussion and debate among Singaporeans.
In September this year, I submitted to the Straits Times a commentary on the same controversial subject of the need for a political opening up, which I cast in the format of an open letter to the Prime Minister, pointing out (respectfully) the dismal state of political liberties, the climate of fear, and the emergence of a politically compliant people, under his premiership despite the impressive economic achievements. I ended the letter with a plea to him to do something before it is too late.
The Straits Times rejected the article, saying that there was really nothing new in it. I subsequently submitted it to TODAY, which also rejected it.
As a result I am turning to alternative sources of dissemination, and am going online. For I think I have some important ideas to share about certain major issues in our society which could have serious implications for the future. It does not matter to me if these ideas don’t meet with agreement or even approval, but it does matter that they are shared with as many fellow Singaporeans as possible.