Sunday, May 27, 2007

USNW - a slap to the idea of edu-hubbing in SG

As someone pointed out, if EDB's statement about 15,000 regular students is true, then, with the expected 70% foreign population in the university, over 10,000 will be foreign.
(first, we have to ask, how big a campus would they need to host 15,000 students, but hey, we want a headcount of 6.5 million anyway!)

Those numbers would be highly satisficing for EDB's economic projection planners. However, they seem to have forgotten the impact on reputation of the generated piece of paper the students are after. Its not all about chasing a paper (unlike those scholastic scholars), its also about chasing the reputation.

By all perceptions, there was never a real chance that UNSW-SG would become better than UNSW itself. the SG branch was just going to be a degree-factory, where you put young aspirants in one end, and churn out lettered people in the other end.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but, erm, most people who go for higher studies are less likely to fall for propaganda? We all decide which university we want to attend based on a multitude of factors, and the 'branding' it leaves on us for life.
(eg: one is forever known as an xxx university graduate, and the status stratification that may come with it.)

So with a reputation as a pure money-making factory, is it any wonder that given cost-competing substitutes, foreign students in the region might NOT want to come to SG, and rather, do it in Malaysia or in Australia for cheaper or equivalent?

A darker point to consider - UNSW-SG could have been set up to capture students from countries who may face difficulties in getting study visas in Australia, and UNSW-SG was designed to side-step that, with SG's more liberal student-visa policies.

However, that bet may have turned out to have much smaller returns than expected. Perhaps there just aren't that many people who have money to study yet face visa difficulties in this region.

Also, if it was true that the UNSW board only had 30 seconds to consider the project in SG, then the carrot dangled in front of them must have been so ludicrous that the only possible governance decision was a "go". And as usual, the black hole that is EDB will not disclose what kind of carrots we use. Transparency? neh.

At the end of the day, instead of organic growth, and attractiveness as a city, we've decided to go the sports-franchise route, and try to buy education franchises to set up in SG, rather than ensure that we have the attractive factors to sustain the franchise in the first place. The failure only means that such games should really still be left to the private sector, rather than governmental technocrats who cannot, no matter what, understand the financial bottomline at the end of the day, because it isn't their money.

Centrally planned economic development cannot work. We're just taking as long as the ex-great USSR to find out. HK isn't as planned, and is still doing as well if not better than us. Fallacy of causation somwhere in this.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Can repealing S377/377A cause harm to SG society?

Posted on YoungRepublic yahoogroup mailing list.

The concept of harm has evolved, and is ever evolving.
When slaves had no rights, there was no harm caused in whipping them, or to work them all day in the sun, etc. They were not human, and so certain religions preferred preached to reinforce that societal paradigm t.

When women had no rights, there was no harm keeping them in the kitchen, delivery room, and other areas of confinement. Women were not men, and again, certain religions were happy to go with the current flow and preach against universal suffrage.

So since harm is ever evolving, then there is no real reason to try to determine hypothetical harm in a society. We just have to determine on a case by case (Caselaw style) on what constitutes harm.

Does repealing S377/377A cause more harm or does retaining/modifying it cause more harm? (applied law rather than theoretical law?)

it causes 'mental harm' to those who believe it is abhorrent, immoral and weakens the bond of society (all moralistic judgements).

Does it cause physical harm? Well, if unnatural sex occurred between non-consenting parties, erm, ye. I guess there's harm. Can such criminal acts of harm be prosecuted under other laws? probably yes too. (rape? assault? battery? etc).

Does it cause harm between consenting parties? well, if one lied about HIV status, or other high-risk situations, yes, there is potential for harm. Note, it is still potential, not definite. Is it covered under other laws? hasn't been tried in SG, though i understand that in the US etc, people have been prosecuted under murder charges or something for intentionally trying to pass on HIV on unknowing partners.

Does it cause harm between informed, true-and-fair "contracting" (trusting) adults in a private bedroom? If they slip up and have an accident, sure. But is an accident a crime?
If so, wouldn't an accident in a 'legal heterosexual sex leading to penetration' situation also cause harm and be liable under S377/377A? Why should one then be prosecutable and another not? If there is no accident, and both parties walk away satisfied, what harm has been caused?

If there is no harm beyond mental harm, and for certain religions, the idea that other religions also 'claim' to be the one true path (thus causing mental harm ), then, what actual harm to society has occurred?

The homophobic lobby's primary line of argument is the slippery slope-
that if it is decriminalized, it will lead to higher incidence of non-missionary-position-sexual-activity-not-leading-to-procreation.
Somehow, I think that activity going on somewhere 24/7 in Singapore all the time.

Axotxl tanks to save Singapore from extinction, anyone?
We coul calld it permanent national service for females.

[what's abhorrent in one society is just daily course of activity in another. The only remaining option is to exercise free market will and leave an intolerant society.]

On Sun, 13 May 2007 09:08:54 +0800, koh Jie Kai wrote:

> I'm unsure however, to what extent I'm supposed to defend that. That's
> because ( and I'm just looking at my own juris notes here) even if we say
> that the state should only intervene on the grounds an individual should
> not
> be allowed to harm others, the problem with such an analysis is that what
> constitutes "harm" is in itself a moral judgment.
> So on one level of analysis, when Mills says that the state is justified
> in
> intervening if an individual's activities cause loss, injury and pain to
> others, it's saying that causing these things is morally wrong.
> Or when Mills advocated in "On Liberty" for compulsory education, can
> that
> sort of intervention be said to be a moral judgment which says that "it
> is
> better for people to be able to fully exercise their abilities to make
> choices, which they can only meaningfully do if they are literate"?
> As for privileging any particular conceptions of the good: I'm not sure
> if
> it is entirely desirable that the state can and should refrain from doing
> this in each and every circumstance. Raz would argue that the good of
> autonomy in human lives does not require that citizens have the
> opportunity
> to make immoral choices. While he also argues that most moral
> legislation is
> not justified on the grounds that it would violate autonomy, it opens the
> possibility that there are in fact immoral choices which can justify
> state
> coercion.
> Suppose we are faced with a case of a citizen who enjoys torturing,
> mutilating and killing stray cats. Why might a state be justified in
> imposing laws banning this? In fact, my guess is that liberals would
> intuitively feel more comfortable passing laws criminalising this than
> to do
> anything about the publication of porn magazines.
> Now stray cats are not people, and they aren't owned by anyone, which
> means
> that issues of pain or loss caused to human beings isn't present here. We
> can also disregard the factor of there being a bigger mess to clean up
> after
> these cats get killed. No the real issue here is whether it is desirable
> to
> inflict torture and pain per se. And we might say "the state shouldn't
> condone behaviour which prmotes acts of violence and torture, because
> such
> acts are immoral." Obviously I've not proven that kitty torture should be
> banned, but I'm saying that to state that the state should always be
> morally neutral as between choices of citizens where no harm is involved
> is
> not a foregone conclusion.
> On 5/12/07, Caleb wrote:
>> Yes that is right. Although I believe tolerance alone is not enough:
>> not
>> only should the state tolerate all values that do not cause harm to its
>> citizens, it should also not privilege any particular conceptions of the
>> good.
>> On 5/12/07, koh Jie Kai wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > On the specific point of tolerance ( since I am in fact on my
>> > jurisprudence topic reading now), any society which accepts that
>> there might
>> > be a diversity of ways of viewing things morally would require
>> tolerance.
>> > "Tolerance" as a value has a very specific meaning according to Raz.
>> It
>> > implies the idea that an individual is withholding doing some form of
>> > coercion or threat to someone whom that individual thinks deserves
>> such
>> > coercion or threat.
>> >
>> > I hope I got that right.
>> >
>> >
>> > > A society comfortable with itself would not need tolerance. It
>> already
>> > > accepts that within itself, there are members that may not subscribe
>> > > to
>> > > the views of the majority. However, the majority also accept the
>> > > existence
>> > > of the minority, and will defend their right to existence as members
>> > > of
>> > > the society (and other loftier ideals).
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> >