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Kirsten Han
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Kirsten Han is a Singaporean journalist, blogger, videographer and activist. Her main areas of interest are in social justice and human rights issues, and she is the co-founder of Singaporean anti-death penalty campaign We Believe In Second Chances.

Entries by Kirsten Han

Dear Jim Sleeper, Not Everything Is About Yale

(2) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 6:40 AM

Jim Sleeper has been a fairly prolific HuffPost writer on Singapore, mostly because of the Yale-NUS College that appears to have caused him no small amount of personal grief.

He has written about Singapore's repressive online website licensing regime and the Little India riot. In...

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The Arrest of Adilur Rahman Khan and the Threat to Bangladeshi Activists

(7) Comments | Posted August 29, 2013 | 4:20 PM

The first time I met Adilur Rahman Khan was my very first time in Bangladesh. He and his human rights organization Odhikar had been helping us with our documentary on dowry violence, linking us up with advocates working with victims of abuse in Bangladeshi villages. Even then he...

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When the "Success Story" Is Neither a Success Nor a Story

(4) Comments | Posted July 15, 2013 | 4:53 PM

On July 11, a month after the Greek government shut down public service broadcaster ERT, CNN reported that it was "back on the air." However, the American news network seemed a little puzzled, adding in its report that "employees still seemed very upset."

It's actually all perfectly simple....

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Cambodia Prepares for Obama, but at What Cost?

(1) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 2:34 PM

Almost two weeks after his reelection, U.S. President Barack Obama will be the first sitting president to visit Cambodia for the East Asian Summit. It's a visit that has sent Cambodia in a tizzy; activists are planning to make use of the event to attract international attention to their causes,...

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A Boyfriend Hunt for Olympic Bronze Medallist

(5) Comments | Posted August 13, 2012 | 5:53 PM

After 52 years of crossed fingers and toes, Singapore was finally rewarded with a medal for an individual athlete. In a killer match that lasted less than half an hour, Feng Tianwei clinched a bronze medal in table tennis. She was also part of the table tennis team who had...

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SINGapore: Once Heard, Can't Be Unheard

(1) Comments | Posted June 14, 2012 | 8:08 PM

"This music video, set in a fun and light-hearted setting, is meant to introduce the Key Appointment Holders for the NDP 2012 Parade & Ceremony committee..."

Just reading this short introduction gave me a bad feeling. And then the video itself...


Oh dear.

The thing is, though, this isn't new. In fact, Singaporeans more or less begin to expect these cringeworthy songs. It's as if no significant event in our country is complete without a propagandistic song that we can all awkwardly bond over.

Establishment figures, ministries and national committees have often used music videos and songs to reach out to the populace, convinced that these more "light-hearted" endeavours are just what is needed to bring everyone together. (In their defense, it does bring many people together, but not quite in the way they intend.)

For example, take a look at this rap produced by the senior management of Singapore's Media Development Authority, whose work include funding homegrown artists and projects and also rating and/or censoring films and videos.


During the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Singapore, a rap was also produced featuring one of Singapore's most well-known comic characters Phua Chu Kang urging people to protect themselves. After all, "SARS is the virus that we want to minus".


When we were struck by the recession, labour union leaders decided to cheer us all up by coming up with a song "Upturn the Downturn."


And when Singapore became the first host of the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, local popstar JJ Lin performed this overly-enthusiastic song, complete with dance moves, that plagued Singaporeans for months.


These songs have become inevitable parts of the average Singaporean existence, and although they may not always succeed in inspiring the oomph and patriotism that they set out to achieve, one thing's for sure: it's always good for a laugh. Or at least a...

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Singaporean Street Artist Arrested for Vandalism

(10) Comments | Posted June 6, 2012 | 11:40 AM

A Singaporean street artist has been identified by authorities as a vandal and arrested. If convicted, she could receive up to three years' imprisonment or a S$2000 (approx. USD1553) fine.

Over the past month or so, stickers began appearing on traffic lights, buildings and vehicles. The simple, round...

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So Eduardo Saverin Wants to Be a Singapore Citizen?

(17) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 6:09 PM

In the past week we've discovered that Facebook's co-founder Eduardo Saverin has decided to renounce his U.S. citizenship -- probably to take up Singapore citizenship, since he's been living and working here for awhile now. This has had several effects, among them the following:

1 -- Some people around...

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The Mandatory Death Penalty: A Blinkered Policy

(27) Comments | Posted May 11, 2012 | 12:59 PM

Singapore has often been identified as "one of the most prominent defenders of capital punishment." But what many people -- including Singaporeans -- may not yet realize is that Singapore does not just have the death penalty, but also the mandatory death penalty.

The mandatory death penalty is applied...

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