Academic Posts Comment About Lesbians; Counselled

(Original stories at The Straits Times here and here.)

How embarrassing for a tenured professor to be publicly shamed for expressing his politically incorrect views!

NUS prof’s comments on lesbians spark protests from past and present students

Published on Feb 28, 2014

 A Malay Studies academic at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has drawn protests for referring to lesbianism as “cancers” and “diseases”, sparking concern from the university.

Associate Professor Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied from the NUS Department of Malay Studies had posted a note on his Facebook page last week to outline his take on liberal Islam, which, he noted, is now supporting the lesbian movement.

Urging scholars and religious teachers to speak up against liberal Islam ideologies and practices like lesbianism, Dr Khairudin said parents and school teachers “must detect early signs of waywardness from their children and students”.

“All social diseases must end at home, if not, in schools… Together, we will stop these cancers in their tracks,” he said.

NUS professor “counselled” by university for Facebook posting on lesbianism

Published on Mar 05, 2014

By Pearl Lee

The National University of Singapore (NUS) professor who drew criticism last week for referring to lesbianism as “cancers” has been counselled by the university.

In an e-mail to all faculty members, staff and students on Wednesday, NUS provost Tan Eng Chye said he had counselled Associate Professor Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, who acknowledged that his original post “reflected poor judgment in the tone and choice of words”.

Prof Tan, who is also NUS deputy president of academic affairs, said Dr Khairudin’s comments “contained provocative, inappropriate and offensive language”.

This latest controversy, which comes in the midst of a wider debate over whether a Health Promotion Board advisory had normalised same-sex relationships, was sparked by a Facebook post by Dr Khairudin.

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State Employee Sends Facebook Invitations for Fundraiser; Disciplined

(Original story at the Denver Post here.)

This is atypical of Facebook activities that get employee-users into trouble. It is worth noting that he was disciplined for participating in a non-work related activity — one that would cause his boss, the governor, great embarrassment due to its nature.

Hickenlooper staffer disciplined after caught campaigning at work

By Lynn Bartels

The Denver Post

POSTED:   03/06/2014 04:13:03 PM MST

A staffer for Gov. John Hickenlooper has been disciplined after he conducted campaign business at work, prompting a stern warning to all state employees from Chief of Staff Roxane White.

“You may NEVER, EVER use State resources for campaign work,” White said in missive sent Thursday. “This includes conducting campaign business on your work computers or in the Capitol. If you violate this policy, disciplinary action will be taken.”

White’s admonishment came after The Denver Post inquired about Tyler Mounsey, the governor’s director of constituent service. The Post received a tip that Mounsey sent Facebook invitations for a fundraiser for Hickenlooper from a state computer. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is running for re-election.

Mounsey acknowledged that he had sent the invite, and has received a written reprimand, said Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown.

“He knows he shouldn’t have done it. He was very apologetic,” Brown said. “It was very brief, but even brief was wrong. It won’t happen again.”

It’s not the first time someone has been caught campaigning under the Gold Dome.

Two years ago, lawmakers received an e-mail from Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton offering his help in their elections. It was sent from a state account.

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Event Manager Recognized as Marijuana Party Hostess; Resigns

(Original story at the Denver Post here.)

She wasn’t recognized on Facebook photos, but she might as well have been.

Amy Dannemiller dabbled in the pot biz and lost her day job as result

By Ricardo Baca
The Denver Post

POSTED:   03/04/2014 12:01:00 AM MST

Denver businesswoman Amy Dannemiller created her alter ego Jane West for her cannabis enterprises in October 2013. Her hope: Amy would work her 9-to-5 as an event planner for an unnamed national corporation, Jane would anonymously host her monthly bring-your-own-marijuana dinner parties, and never the twain should meet.

Except the camera-friendly, 37-year-old Jane became a popular face of legal marijuana — and it was a face Amy’s East Coast bosses recognized as they saw her vaporize marijuana on NBC Nightly News and the CNBC documentary “Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush” on Feb. 26.

On Feb. 28, the company asked Dannemiller, senior event manager of its western division with a staff of 80, to resign.

“It was curt but polite,” said Dannemiller, who has a master’s in social work from the University of Denver and still asks that her new friends and colleagues call her Jane. “I violated the drug policy on national television, and that’s completely reasonable.”

Colorado employers still have the right to fire employees if they test positive for marijuana — regardless of pot being legal to buy, grow and ingest.

“If trace amounts of marijuana in your test — something you consumed three weeks before on the weekend outside of work — show up, you can be fired for that,” said Mike Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. “The next question is: ‘Is that fair?’ “

Elliott mentioned Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which says employers can’t fire employees for doing legal things such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes off the clock. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, it’s not covered by the statute — though the Colorado Supreme Court said in late January it will soon review a precedent-setting decision on Brandon Coats, who lost his Dish Network job in 2010 for using medical marijuana off the clock.

“It’s an example of an unfortunate double standard that some businesses are continuing to follow,” said Taylor West, deputy director for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “What Jane was doing in the CNBC piece is legal in Colorado. It had no impact on her work performance. And the ability to take part in a perfectly legal activity on her own personal time is something we generally accept when it comes to any other situation.

“I know very few employers who would so much as ask about an employee having a few beers on the weekend or after work, and there’s no reason cannabis should be treated differently.”

In the CNBC interview, Dannemiller was seen trying out a vaporizer at a work meeting as she told the network’s Harry Smith: “I’m just trying to change the mind-set and definition of what cannabis consumption looks like. I’m actually shocked that so many people think the fact that I consume marijuana is so shocking. So I think it is important to say, ‘I use marijuana, and that’s OK.’ “

Looking back, it’s easy to see that pot use isn’t OK with everybody, even though four major polls the past year have documented America’s first-ever shift toward favoring legal marijuana.

“I’m glad it took this long for (my former employer) to see it,” said Dannemiller, “because if they found out a couple of months ago when the first Denver Post piece ran, I wouldn’t have been able to visualize the future I now see regarding what I can do with the incredible women in this industry.

“After eight years with the company, it’ll take a while to transition out. I have a short contract to close out all outstanding projects. And then I’m done. I would hope to work with them in a logistics arena in the future, but I don’t think that that’s a possibility.”

What’s a pot-smoking professional event planner like Dannemiller to do?

“I’m all in now,” said Dannemiller, who is looking forward to her $95-a-plate Edible Events dinner on March 28. “Three months ago, I didn’t know a soul in the cannabis industry, but now I know people like Kayvan Khalatbari, who co-owns Denver Relief and is so passionate about what he does and has been so pivotal to my success.”

Dannemiller’s monthly dinners are planned through the end of 2014. She’s working with interested folks in incorporating marijuana into their Denver tourist itineraries — and their weddings, even. And she’s also working with the National Cannabis Industry Association to help organize women in the marijuana business.

“I want to help people organize on the national level, especially women,” Dannemiller said. “I’m volunteering for the Women’s Cannabis Business Network, a part of NCIA, and I’m focusing my endeavors on expanding its reach. We are talking about planning the first conference dedicated to women in the cannabis industry. And next week I’m going to D.C. to lobby with NCIA on Capitol Hill.”

Does Dannemiller regret her decision to vaporize on camera?

“It’s just something I knew I had to do,” she said. “There are so many images in all of this media — people taking bong rips and pipe hits and passing joints — and if I’m trying to say that this should be normalized but didn’t want myself on camera, I would be hypocritical.”

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Email on Halal Pork Circulates; Police Report Made

(Original story at The Straits Times here.)

No one has been charged last I checked, but this is a good reminder and an example of how freedom of speech is restricted in different ways in different parts of the world. Due to laws promoting religious and racial harmony in Singapore, such jokes are not tolerated.

Police report lodged over ‘Halal Pork’ Facebook hoax

Published on Jan 30, 2014

By Audrey Tan

The police confirmed on Thursday that a report has been lodged against a religiously insensitive hoax that was making its rounds on social media platform Facebook recently. The image, which depicts a packet of grocery retailer FairPrice’s Pasar Fresh Pork bearing a green halal sticker, was first circulated via e-mail here in 2007.

The latest report comes after a call for police investigation into the case was made by Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari on Monday, when the supermarket chain released a statement calling the image a “mischievous hoax that is both insensitive and done in poor taste”.

This comes after a slew of police reports were lodged by FairPrice since the first image of the tampered packaging was circulated via an e-mail hoax in 2007. Investigations are ongoing.

Police are also advising the public to refrain from circulating such images. Under Section 298A, those guilty of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony can face a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.

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Film Student Shows Casino in Flames; Questioned by Police

(Original story at The Straits Times here and at AsiaOne here.)

He was just showing his artistic side but others thought that he was inciting a terrorist attack. At least one other news site said that it was because his name suggested that he was a foreigner.

Video showing MBS in flames sparks police probe

Film student questioned over what he says was a special-effects assignment

Published on Feb 04, 2014

By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A Singaporean film student has stoked the ire of netizens – and attracted the attention of the police – after posting a video that showed Marina Bay Sands going up in flames.

Mr Caleb Rozario, 23, is assisting in police investigations after he uploaded an animated clip showing the landmark being attacked by missiles on social media site Facebook in December.

The diploma student at private media school SAE Institute told The Straits Times yesterday that the video was a special-effects assignment.

“It wasn’t a threat or a malicious video,” he said. “I chose Marina Bay Sands in particular for cinematic effect. In Hollywood movies, they have a tendency to attack landmarks.”

Video showing MBS in flames sparks police probe

Thursday, Feb 06, 2014

A Singaporean film student has stoked the ire of netizens – and attracted the attention of the police – after posting a video that showed Marina Bay Sands going up in flames.

Mr Caleb Rozario, 23, is assisting in police investigations after he uploaded an animated clip showing the landmark being attacked by missiles on social media site Facebook in December.

The diploma student at private media school SAE Institute told The Straits Times yesterday that the video was a special-effects assignment.

“It wasn’t a threat or a malicious video,” he said. “I chose Marina Bay Sands in particular for cinematic effect. In Hollywood movies, they have a tendency to attack landmarks.”

Responding to Straits Times inquiries, a police spokesman confirmed that a police report had been made but did not give more details.

On Sunday, Mr Rozario was called in to help investigate the offence of transmitting a false message, which comes under the

Telecommunications Act. Offenders may be jailed for not more than seven years or fined not more than $50,000, or both.

Mr Rozario, who is slated to graduate in a few weeks, said the police went through computers and mobile phones belonging to him and his brother Jesse. They were allowed to leave with all their electronic devices after a few hours.

This is not the first time that he has sparked a controversy. He has drawn flak on several occasions for his online comments, such as those calling Singaporeans “spoiled”.

“I was just venting. The average person complains all the time. The only reason it got blown up was because someone combed through my Facebook account, compiled everything slightly controversial and put it all in one post,” he said, referring to an online compilation of his remarks.

Hundreds of angry comments were made against him on the Facebook page of news commentary website, The Real Singapore. Most netizens were convinced he was a foreigner making disparaging remarks against the country, with some demanding he be “deported” and calling his school project a “terrorist threat”.

Mr Rozario, who is Eurasian and has served national service, said people online assumed he was a foreigner because of his name – which may have stirred up some anti-foreigner sentiments as well.

Nanyang Technological University assistant professor Liew Kai Khiun said the case showed how people get “reckless” and still cannot “grasp that things they do online have implications in real life”.

Dr Liew, of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, said: “Even though cyberspace is a vast ocean, Singapore is a very small country. What people do and say gets noticed very quickly compared to, say, in a big country like the US. And it definitely has repercussions offline.”

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Egyptian Criticizes Court Ruling; Charged with Insulting Judiciary

(Original story at The New York Times here.)

Although this was apparently an attempt by the military dictatorship in Egypt to stifle freedom of expression, I would like to remind readers that in some countries, some institutions are beyond reproach. For examples, in Thailand, it is considered lese-majeste (and a very serious crime) to insult the king; in the United States, it is a felony to threaten the President; in Singapore and in Egypt, contempt of court is a serious and punishable offense.

Egypt Says Twitter Post by Liberal Was Crime

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK JAN. 19, 2014

CAIRO — A prosecutor on Sunday charged one of Egypt’s most prominent liberal intellectuals with insulting the judiciary because he posted a message on Twitter criticizing a court ruling against three American nonprofits that promote democracy.

The intellectual, Amr Hamzawy, a political scientist and former lawmaker, was charged along with two dozen others — including liberals, Islamists, and the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Coming a day after the adoption of a new Constitution, the charges offered a glimpse of how the military-led government may apply the Constitution’s porous free-speech provisions and suggested that it may intensify its pressure on dissenters.

The crime of insulting the judiciary is a longstanding element of Egyptian law that inherently violates Western norms of free expression. Mr. Morsi, who is already on trial on several other charges, was charged on Sunday because, in a speech as president, he accused a judge of colluding in electoral fraud.

But the case against Mr. Hamzawy stands out because of his stature as a leading liberal, the ephemeral nature of his Twitter message, and the inconsistency of punishing him for a criticism many others also made.

“It is absurd,” said Samer S. Shehata, an expert on Egyptian politics at the University of Oklahoma. “He is a liberal, longhaired, intellectual type, the best of a particular type of intellectual in Egypt, who poses a threat to no one.”

“This is just another example of the government trying to silence all criticism and dissent in Egypt right now, whether it is Islamist or liberal,” Dr. Shehata said. “Anyone who would question the current rulers is subject to this kind of persecution.”

When a nationalist euphoria gripped Egypt after the military takeover last summer and the new government began a bloody crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters, Mr. Hamzawy was among the few liberals to speak out, even calling the military’s actions a form of fascism.

But the charges filed against him on Sunday date to early June, when a judge convicted 43 employees of five Western-backed nonprofit groups of receiving illegal foreign financing and plotting to destabilize Egypt. Three of the groups — the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and Freedom House — are financed by the United States government with a mandate to help promote democracy.

The court ruled in June that the groups’ true aim was to “undermine Egypt’s national security and lay out a sectarian, political map that serves United States and Israeli interests.”

“The U.S. — fearing democracy ushered in by Egypt’s popular revolt — has used funding to take the revolution off its path,” it said.

“Funding is a new form of control and dominance and is considered a soft colonialism that is less costly than military arms,” the verdict continued, accusing the United States of seeking “to shake the security and stability of the receiving countries that are meant to be weakened and dismantled.” (All the defendants either fled the country or received suspended jail sentences.)

American officials disputed the charges, noting that the United States spends far more supporting the Egyptian military, $1.3 billion a year, than on nonmilitary aid to Egypt, about $250 million. Also, almost every independent rights group in Egypt has relied on foreign financing in violation of previously unenforced laws.

Mr. Hamzawy scoffed at the ruling. “Verdict in case of foreign funding of CS shocking, transparency lacking, facts undocumented & politicization evident,” he wrote on Twitter, using initials for “civil society.”

Many people who later backed the military takeover made similar statements at the time. And on Sunday, after Mr. Hamzawy was charged, Twitter users began reposting his message in a gesture of solidarity.

Mr. Hamzawy, who has been heavily criticized here for raising alarms about the crackdown on Islamists, responded in newspaper columns, “I am paying the price of being a true liberal.”

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Indonesian First Lady Posts Photos on Instagram; Criticized

(Original story at The Straits Times here.)

Here she is publishing photos to connect with the common man, and there the critics were accusing her of being insensitive to his needs. One even asked her if she was misappropriating state property for her hobby!

Indonesia’s Instagram First Lady’s social media scuffles

Published on Jan 27, 2014
By Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Indonesia Correspondent

TOWARDS the end of her husband’s first term in office, Mrs Ani Yudhoyono realised that, as the President’s wife, she often wound up in spots photographers rarely found themselves.

So she took out a camera and revived an old hobby.

Before long, her pictures of state events and ordinary folk started showing up at exhibitions, winning some praise. She also published a coffee-table book in 2011, that included photos she took on trips across Indonesia and abroad with her husband.

Last April, she started putting her photos on Instagram. That was when the trouble began.

Some Indonesians were critical of certain photos of her family, and Mrs Yudhoyono, 61, who is known to speak her mind, was quick to lash out at them, drawing even more criticism.

Last week, she made international headlines when she apologised to more than 310,000 Instagram followers for a particularly angry outburst. A fan questioned her timing when she uploaded a photo of her grandson playing a toy piano while many Indonesians were fighting to keep their heads above water during severe flooding.

“Why is the anger directed at me?” she wrote, saying people should ask what the wife of the Jakarta governor was doing.

Ibu Ani, as she is popularly known, entered the social media sphere around the same time Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took to Twitter in April last year. Since then, she has been a regular, sharing 725 photos on Instagram so far.

Some might see the negative reactions to her photographs and her Instagram activity as a reflection of the palace’s dip in popularity, but sociologist Musni Umar sees it as a generational issue.

“In the old days, people wouldn’t dare criticise the First Lady,” he told The Straits Times. This is no longer the case.

“A lot of those who criticise her are from the younger generation,” he said.

In contrast, he said Mrs Yudhoyono is from an era when those in authority were rarely, if ever, questioned.

When a follower recently asked whether her camera was personal or state property, she took offence.

“Your question is impolite beyond expectation, but I will answer so it’s clear,” she said.

“Cameras used by the Palace press bureau may be state property. The one I use is of course personal property.”

Screen captures of the exchange went viral. People made fun of the issue.

Yet her photos have also offered fascinating glimpses of places most Indonesians would otherwise not have seen, like the interior of Bali’s Tampaksiring presidential palace and the Yogyakarta sultan’s palace, as well as the first family in more relaxed moments.

Some suggest she turn her camera instead on ordinary Indonesians.

By doing so, she would remind her husband that poverty remained a problem, blogger Ellen Maringka wrote last month on the kompasiana site, linked to major broadsheet Kompas.

“Wouldn’t it be great if your photography hobby brought some joy to those who are poor, to for once smile because they are the target of your camera,” she wrote.

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