Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why so little time for consumer protection public consultation?


A public consultation was launched for proposed amendments to consumer protection legislation last Friday.

If the amendments eventually make it into legislation, the changes will affect millions of consumers in Singapore. One can reasonably argue that it will be a step forward for human rights in Singapore since the consumer will now enjoy wider protection.

At the same time, compliance with the legislation may mean higher expenses for consumer-centric businesses in Singapore, especially the financial services sector that will be affected uniquely by these changes.

Yet, for such an important piece of legislation, the Ministry of Trade & Industry has only permitted a mere 10 working days for members of the public, including interest groups, businesses and others affected by the legislation, to respond to the changes.

This leads one to question the sincerity of this exercise. How serious is the relevant law-maker about incorporating public feedback into the exercise?

And even if one can justify the law-maker is serious, the short time period is extraordinary and appears irrational.

Most public consultations - especially those that impact millions of Singaporeans - are held over at least one whole month. If the changes are controversial, such as the one we are seeing in the case of the longevity insurance scheme, a longer time period for public consulation is given.

The Ministry of Trade & Industry should extend the period of public consultation. If not, it should provide compelling reasons to support the exceptionally short time period of public consultation.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Book Review: From Leonard To Leona

Over the years, women I have encountered in the course of my life have told me that child-bearing is the most intense experience that a woman will ever have - it inflicts extreme pain and its fruit is immensely satisfying.

For the transsexual, that same experience is the journey from manhood from womanhood (or vice versa).

Indeed, most of us know a lot about motherhood but very little about the life of being a daughter without the capacity to ever really be a mother.

It was this desire to learn more that prompted me to invest in a copy of Leona Lo's book, From Leonard to Leona: a Singapore transsexual's journey to womanhood.

But I was totally unpreprared for the emotional roller-coaster that I'd be going on.

While it is possible to read this book in one sitting, the sheer amount of emotions and personalities running through this book immobilised me such that I had to read this book over three sittings, with a day's break in between each.

There is the student who never finds a place among friends. There is the Christian search for truth. There is the child sexually abused. There is the grandson, nephew brother and son that never was. There is also the patient that undergoes an invasive life-threatening surgery.

There are the incomplete lovers. There are the cynical cold public servants. There are the sucky systems of society.

Simply put, there was just too much to swallow!

In spite of all these, the character that is Leona prevails or perhaps, more appropriately, unveils herself in her unique blend of humour and horror.

Leonard Lo's journey to be Leona Lo is a landmark contribution to the understanding of a lesser-known community in Singapore; a class of people within a class that the armed forces of this country has bastardised as "302".

Its premise has a familiar famishness that many a minority will relate to. Its ending has a sweet success that many a freedom fighter will relish.

From Leonard To Leona is a soulful story of hope and promise that should be read.

Dharmendra Yadav

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Doing The Impossible

Walt Disney once said, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

To those who have been wondering why this blog has been at a standstill for a few weeks now, that's exactly what I have been up to!

I am now back in school (since mid-August). I am pursuing a mandatory postgraduate diploma at a Singapore university. This is a course for legally-trained persons desiring Singapore court access rights.

The experience at the Singapore university is proving to be a uniquely Singapore experience, and I will certainly write more about this in time to come. But just to give an indication of what it's like -- three weeks into term, I had to get ready for an exam! It just ended a couple of days back and holidays are next week, so I can afford to take a breather.

In addition to the opportunites in school, I am working about 2 days a week. And amidst all these, I have had to make time for loved ones. So it is no surprise that I have had to minimise what I can share on this blog.

Nevertheless, the opportunity not to write here has been great, it's given me lots of time to reflect about the future of this blog, even with all these "happenings". Don't worry, I am not about to kill this blog. I still think this is an important space for developing one's thoughts and, it remains at least to me, a positive avenue for learning!

I was told of a trend that people are closing down their blogs but I guess that happens with all new things - once its novelty appears to wane, it is only normal for people to abandon certain preferences for other more exciting stuff.

To me, this only shows how impossible it is becoming to upkeep a blog and, yes, as someone once said, "it's kind of fun to do the impossible"!

Dharmendra Yadav

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