Lee Kuan Yew Chair at Calcutta University? Mamata wants it

Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee

Will there be a Lee Kuan Yew Chair at Calcutta University? I am delighted.

Mamata Banerjee herself wants it. The West Bengal chief minister said so after a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

It’s only fitting that Singapore is the first country she chose to visit since coming to power in 2011, ending 34 years of communist rule in West Bengal. [Read more...]

Ogden Nash: Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker

During his lifetime, Ogden Nash was the most widely known, appreciated, and imitated American creator of light verse, a reputation that has continued after his death, says the Poetry Foundation. Among other memorable verses he wrote:

Reflexions on Ice-Breaking
is dandy
But liquor
is quicker [Read more...]

Impishly, PM Lee…

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was almost playful in the way he broke the news. He explained why the government held back some of the money people saved for retirement – and then made an. announcement which had the audience cheering as if they had just heard a punch line.

The news was online almost as soon as he said it. “Lease buyback scheme extended to four-room HDB flats,” said the headline on Today online. The Straits Times website had words to the same effect. The headlines gave the news, but couldn’t convey the playfulness with which the prime minister bantered with the audience. [Read more...]

OB markers and sacred cows in the Straits Times

The phrase “OB marker” cannot be found in the Oxford Online Dictionary. Nor can it be found in OxfordDictionaries.com, which updates much faster and just added new words such amazeballs and douchebaggery to its list.

Wikipedia says:

An OB marker, short for ‘out of bounds marker’ is a term used in Singapore to denote what topics are permissible for public discussion. The full form of the word is rarely used.

The term is adopted from golf, where an out of bounds marker denotes the area beyond which playing is not allowed… The term “OB markers” was first used in 1991 by the then-Minister for Information and the Arts George Yeo to describe the boundaries of acceptable political discourse.

[Read more...]

Douchebaggery! Amazeballs! Oxford Dictionaries’ latest words

Doncha go cray over this listicle of new words added to OxfordDictionaries.com. It’s trying to be uber cool, updating every month. Plugged into pop culture, seriously hyperconnected, this lexical hip cat has been soaking up new words faster than a former boozer who just fell off the wagon can order refills.

[Read more...]

The importance of Dead Poets Society

The death of Robin Williams brought tears to my eyes as I watched these scenes from Dead Poets Society showing him playing the English teacher, John Keating. He inspires his students through his teaching of poetry. “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world,” he says.

Yes, Keating was right. It is poetry, love and romance that lift our lives. [Read more...]

President’s Scholars: Their schools and choices

Looking at the list of President’s Scholars announced today, it was good to see one of the five will be reading global affairs and another, either political science or psychology. Not everyone is opting for the hard sciences. In fact, going by the list of recent President’s Scholars, the majority prefer the soft sciences. Here’s the list of President’s Scholars since 2002. [Read more...]

The love that dared not speak its name

Having returned to Singapore only last week after a long time, I have been catching up with the news. And one of the stories I have been following is the furore over two gay-themed books removed from the children’s section of the National Library.

I love the library and am sorry to see it and am sorry to see it getting its knickers in a twist with bloggers, writers and others raging against literary censorship. A blog post I read even drew a parallel with Nazi book burnings.

But I have one question: Can you name any great play or novel celebrating same-sex love? [Read more...]

When PM Lee didn’t seek a correction in Straits Times

PM Lee Hsien Loong

PM Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today completes 10 years in office, reports the Straits Times. So what was being reported in the press when he became prime minister on August 12, 2004? I couldn’t penetrate the walls guarding the archives of the Straits Times — but came across a story which said he not seek a correction when the newspaper published a report suggesting his father was a  better marksman than him.

I found the story in the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) of all places – the magazine that had its share of troubles  with Singapore’s leaders before finally closing down in 2009 after 63 years of publication. [Read more...]