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Nuffnang Awards - Whistle stop tour

The Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards were held last weekend, and various lucky nominees and bloggers were transported into Singapore from Malaysia, Philippines, and Australia. It was the first of its kind and, for me, the cut-off event for my data collection - from now on, it's time to start reviewing all my field notes, transcribing interviews and aiming to finish 100K word in one year.

Here is a rapid tour of how it was for me - we gathered at the Nuffnang offices in KL, and arrived at the Link Hotel at about 3pm. Yee Hou was our efficient shepherd, leading us safely to Singapore and back, even those who didn't declare cigarettes... :-P
nuffnang blog awards group
After we booked in (was a bit slow) - a welcome beer!
asahi beer singapore
Then, off to the Awards ceremony! Efficiently run, nice food, nice people, many awards - nominees from all four countries where Nuffnang has a presence. Blog celebrities and Celebrity Bloggers :-) (list of the nominees and winners)
nuffnang awards ceremony singapore
In the group photo (L-R): dork on the left, dunno who sorry, Swee San, Soon Seng, Wenli, and Jolene (click her name for a much more complete account of the awards).

Got back to the hotel for a pleasant surprise welcoming letter with a gift of cute cows from Exabytes, longtime advertisers with blogs
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Indulge in the Uniquely Singapore experience

I love travelling, and have blogged about hitchhiking to Romania, drinking coffee in Laos, a room with a view in Provence, beers in Belgium, being a tourist in KL, shop signs in Kuching, a sunrise in Kelantan, clouds over Phuket, and a cute devil in Tasmania.

Somehow, although I've been to Singapore a number of times, I've never blogged about it :-| Maybe because my trips were normally work-related, or quick day trips?

Nuffnang & Uniquely Singapore are offering tickets to the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards ceremony, and an "exclusive Uniquely Singapore experience", which sounds intriguing :-). But they want to know why I should be given this special opportunity to experience Singapore: for me, I would like to have the chance to discover more of its history and hidden secrets, and blog about what makes Singapore truly unique.

Singapore is a 21st century multicultural metropolis, steeped in the trading history of ancient Asian and colonial empires - it is discovered slowly, its different shades revealing themselves in the rich nuances that make up the character of this hidden gem of Asian culture and history. Inhabited for at least 1800 years, from the 7th to the 13th century it was part of the great Srivijaya Empire, and from 1819 onwards it grew rapidly under the British Empire. Known as an island city, it is sometimes difficult to see the history amongst the skyscrapers and the shopping malls, and to forget that it has natural areas of natural beauty too.

For my dream day in Singapore, I would want to start early with a Peranakan breakfast - perhaps Otak toast. While it’s still cool, I would explore the park around the MacRitchie Reservoir, established in 1860...
macritchie reservoir singapore

check out the Treetop Walk, enjoy the nature...
fauna flora macritchie reservoir singapore

and dream of finding the elusive Yamashita Gold :-)

For lunch, the 19th century Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, now a marvelously restored national heritage site known as 'Chimes', would give me a choice of fusion dining venues. To digest my light lunch, I could stroll around the cloisters, and view the stained glass windows in the restored chapel.
chijmes singapore

In the afternoon, tired of walking, the Singapore Sightseeing Pass which has unlimited access to hop-on, hop-off bus and boat tours looks ideal. I think I'd focus on the HiPPO River Cruise: Singapore was always first and foremost a naval city, which breathed the monsoon wind. A global city before globalisation was heard of.

Seeing Singapore from the river would bring back the perspective that the sailors and weary travellers would have seen, welcoming them from around the world
singapore river scenes

Followed by dinner at one of the relaxed riverside cafés of Boat Quay, and an evening of cocktails and jazz
boat quay singapore

To finish a perfect day, I would luxuriate in the sumptuous comfort of the Golden Chersonese Suite of Raffles Hotel,
raffles hotel singapore

drifting into happy dreams and fond memories of the day when I was truly able to...

Pictures under CreativeCommons licenses, credits to: arti47, Eustaquio Santimano, mgrenner57, mjmyap, madaboutasia, Rojina, RWM, The Shopping Sherpa, tuis

Fencing the internet

It’s fortunate that this year the ICAS conference is being held in KL, and I have the time to attend, seeing as not much else is happening to me right now. I always enjoy going to such conferences, and getting the chance to see experts impart their detailed knowledge.

There are an extraordinary amount of panels going on: 23 rooms with normally four sessions each per day – 92 in all! Which may explain why some of them had very poor attendance. Or maybe it was just the ones I attended? Whatever, although there is not much about the internet, I was lucky enough to catch a couple of interesting ones.

One by Terry Johal, a Singaporean who talked about the role of the legislative and the judiciary in the Singaporean reaction to blogs, and online media in general. He noted how the MSM has an increased coverage of blogs since 2005; commented on the various scandals (SPG’s nude photos, “sensitive army photos” being published; the ‘handicapped toilet’ debacle that led to Malaysian bloggers being drawn in too; and some others). Actually he said an awful lot of stuff, and I can’t put it all here, but the gist of it was that the Singaporean government relies heavily on “common law” and precedence as a way of inferring that what is not specifically allowed is prohibited, and also uses “drift net legislation”, such as the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (1990) that makes it illegal to “cause ill-feelings between religious groups” – this is quite imprecise, and therefore can be used to cover many types of situations. He also pointed out that although the Internet Code of Practice could have been used in certain situations with bloggers, instead defamation laws or the above-mentioned Religious Harmony Act were used – because this would have less impact in an international sense.

In relation to the last point, he described how when there was some issue with Mr. Brown (I think), the fact that the MSM took it on, and the government weighed in, what was a “non-event in internet time” (i.e. it would have died out in a couple of days) became a big issue in the local and then international media – attracting unwanted negative publicity for Singapore.

Also, finally, he mentioned an Australian court case where it was decided that the place of publishing is where it is downloaded (discussion here). To take a topical case:

“For all intents and purposes, Malaysia Today is a foreign website and not a Malaysian website. We therefore do not come under Malaysian laws.” (Raja Petra Kamarudin)

According to the principle set in Australia (which doesn’t have to apply here, that’s up to the Malaysian court) even if RPK’s server is not in Malaysia, the fact that people read his blog here in Malaysia means that a Malaysian court can rule on it.

Another very interesting talk was by a Korean, Yeon Ok-Lee, entitled “The Internet Real-Name System and Privacy Trade-Off in Korea” – but I don’t have time to blog about that now. Will do in future. Google the title and you'll see what it is about.