The big news in Australia at the moment is the death sentence for Van Nguyen, an Australian citizen caught trafficing drugs through Singapore. The Singaporeans refuse to listen to Australian government pleas for clemency and Van is scheduled to be executed on December 2.
Now I'm no fan of drug trafficing or drugs in general, but neither do I support the death penalty. My greatest opposition to death penalties in general is because sometimes innocent people are sentenced to death. That is too much like murder for my liking.
My understanding is that Van Nguyen is not innocent. I would usually agree that when you are visiting a foreign country that you should respect their laws and understand that their punishments may be harsher than would be acceptable in their home country. However, there are some punishments which are just blatantly wrong - stoning an adulterer to death is one example (thankfully that example is not from Singapore). The fact that the death sentence is mandatory in Singapore for many crimes is even worse.
Posting this from a free terminal at Changi Airport. 5 minutes left to type!
Done both a lot and a little. Weather ranged from humid to cool and soaking wet. Food was almost uniformly delicious, although it seems like the length of the queue is inversely proportional to the quality of the food served.
Will write aup a complete report in the plane.
2005/10/14 - earlier days below
Travelled by bus to Johor Bahru in Malaysia to fix up B's identity card - it needed to be replaced by a smart card. Malaysian immigration wanted to cancel her passport because it is of the non-electronic type. That would have put a serious crimp in our plans as the passport contains her visas to Australia and Japan. No sir, we are not going to Kuala Lumpur to get the Australian High Commission to give her another visa.
We gave the officer an assurance that we would visit the passport office when going to fix the IC and he let B go. Of course, we did nothing of the sort - the don't care when you are departing the country, so why bother (probably what the officer was thinking).
JB seemed a bit cleaner than before. Thankfully the weather was reasonable as well. Had curry, salad, beef rendang, chicken and rice at a busy Chinese cafe. Bought some honeydew chocolate and pineapple tarts as well from a muslim sweet stall. Then walked past a hindu temple surrounded by stalls selling garlands for the Deepavali festival.
My first overseas trip was to Singapore, almost 10 years ago (December 1995). On my arrival I remember reading an issue of the Straits Times celebrating the fact that Singapore had just been recognised as a developed country. However, the prime minister of the time, Lee Kwan Yew, was warning Singaporeans that their behaviour was worthy of a developed nation. He used the example of an incident where the government was handing out free textbooks to needy families. The event was hijacked by wealthy families driving up in their Mercedes and BMW's to grab textbooks for their own kids.
This is an example of kiasu behaviour - the fear of losing to someone else. Such behaviour is not restricted to Singaporeans, but they do seem to have taken it to the extreme. Sadly, kiasu disease is contagious and has been observed in people who were born in neighbouring Malaysia and who have migrated, or own homes, in Singapore. Thankfully, it probably requires long exposure to become infected, so I'm not worried about becoming kiasu from our upcoming four day in Singapore. However, I'm certain that chronic kiasu sufferers will ensure that we feel some side-effects.
It's only a month and a day until we begin our trip to Singapore, Europe and Japan. After weeks of pouring over travel books and train timetables we have finally pinned down our plans. This time we are giving ourselves longer at each stop, at least three nights in every location except London and Barcelona (two each) and St Malo (one). All the hotels, bar those in France, have been booked. I am still waiting for a few of the French hotels to respond to availability requests.
As with our last trip, virtually all the planning and booking has been done by ourselves, using the web. The savings can be of fifty percent or more when compared to the prices given in the travel brochures. That said, there is something about going through a travel agent and using brochures that I miss. On our honeymoon trip to Paris we did all our booking through Qantas Holidays. All we did was look through the Qantas Holidays European travel booklet, pick out a hotel, a day tour of Mont St Michel and purchase some museum and transport passes.