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Thursday, August 12th, 2004

Time Event
9:52p
Sama-sama menuju bahagia

It's an historic day: independent Singapore's second transfer of power. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong turns his office over to Lee Hsien Loong. Goh moves up to Senior Minister; Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew -- who lead Singapore to independence, was the first Prime Minister, and since 1990 was Senior Minister -- becomes the first Minister Mentor. In his inaugural address Lee Hsien Loong promised a search for new talent for future ministers.

The ceremony was more low-key than the U.S. analogue (there's a better street festival in his constituency), with longer and more complex oaths to uphold the Republic, and signing and counter-signing of papers. I like to imagine he had to show identification. Unlike former inaugurations (at City Hall) this was outside Istana House, the presidential mansion. 1400 were invited and more showed up. I was inexplicably not invited.

I also suspect now they only have one recording of Majulah Singapura, played at the close of a broadcasting day, at commencements, at ministerial inaugurations; everything. If they win an Olympic event somebody tape it, please, I want to know if they play the same track at the medal ceremony.

The inaugural speech's theme was what the country needs is people who think differently, to solve problems, to create new opportunities, or just to be different. When was the last time you saw a politician speaking of the need for people to go their own way? Mind, it's not clear how much he means that; yes, Singapore's loosened up on gum, late night dancing, and no longer considers homosexuality a disqualification for the civil service1, but at least the first two issues people don't fight or even much talk about.

1 For an interesting reason: government research found acceptance of homosexuality correlates with economic and cultural strength; therefore, they'll accept it. I agree with the conclusion, but wouldn't have thought to argue that way.

Trivia: Gradual kidney failure is symptomatic of oak poisoning in humans. Source: The New York Public Library Desk Reference, Paul Fargis and Sheree Bykofsky.

Currently Reading: The Seedling Stars, James Blish. I love this book.

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