Disgraced former NMP Viswa Sadasivan trying to redeem himself by taking the high horse for PSP

Sep 23, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

In an op-ed editorial published on The Straits Times last Saturday (Sep 18), former Nominated MP (NMP) Viswa Sadasivan dismisses concerns that Progress Singapore's Party stand on the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) reeks of having a racial agenda.

Viswa said: "I am puzzled as to why the ruling party's MPs continued to accuse Mr Leong of having a racial agenda even after he made it clear that his intention was to discuss the job implications of Ceca and other FTAs....Yes, there is a correlation between Ceca and Indians, but it is perfectly possible to raise questions about Ceca without having a racial agenda."

Viswa was referring to the debate sparked by NMP Leong Mun Wai from PSP who accused the Government of allowing the alleged unfettered access by Indian nationals into the Singapore workforce.

Rebuttals to Viswa's editorial

Other ST readers not convinced that PSP's view on CECA does not contain racial undertones.

ST reader Panneerselvan Arumugam Periasamy wrote in to express his "shock" at Viswa's editorial for playing down claims about PSP's racial agenda.

Member of Parliament for Yio Chu Kang Yip Hong Weng also wrote in to ST Forum rebutting Viswa's piece.

Yip brought up Leong's proposal about having a nationality cap for Indian nationals, despite Indians only forming a "mere 500 out of the over 170,000 Employment Pass holders from various countries."

Viswa trying to redeem himself?

Viswa had interviewed Leong on his talk show "Inconvenient Questions" back in June last year and was at some points during the interivew, dripping with sarcasm towards Leong who gave incoherent answers about his policy proposals.

In February this year, Viswa had to apologise publicly for making an allegedly sexual and belittling comment during a Zoom call with stand-up comedian Sharul Channa.

Before interviewing her online about her comedy and work on women's issues, he is said to have asked why she was wearing a rose brooch.

Sharul, 34, claims she replied: "I just put it on to distract from the pattern on my top", and that Viswa, then said: "It would be more distracting if you were wearing only that rose."

Backlash against Viswa was quick to follow, prompting several institutions including the National University of Singapore (NUS) to discontinue all projects with Viswa and his company Strategic Moves.

Viswa kept a relatively low profile since then until the ST Forum letter, seemingly to curry favour with the more populist corwd.

PSP's members also concerned with 'racial undertones' of NCMP Leong Mun Wai's CECA speeches

Several PSP members spoke to TODAY in July 2021 about their concerns with Leong's CECA speeches.

They said that emphasis on CECA during recent parliamentary debates could give the impression that PSP was singling out a certain race and nationality.

One senior PSP member, who declined to be named, said: “Taking a very antagonistic stance might ruin trade relations… when (political party members) come out and ask for numbers of jobs that have been lost and replaced by Ceca Indians, you are targeting the Indian community."

He added: “Focusing on CECA alone is just cheap politics.”

He also said that several party members shared the same sentiments, but declined to say how many.

While a group consisting of senior members was formed to address the CECA debate, there was no concerted effort to reach out to Indian members for their feedback, he said.

A PSP cadre member, Khush Chopra, said that while he does not believe the party is xenophobic or racist, he is concerned that the party had been portrayed during the CECA debate to be against India nationals.

“CECA is the wrong target,” Chopra, who is a lawyer, said. “We should take a holistic approach to the question of identifying the reasons for PMET job displacement, which I have always felt has to do with our immigration and population policies.”

Another PSP member, Abhijit Dass, said that there are “racial undertones” with how CECA has been raised in Parliament by PSP.

He said that “the real problem in Singapore is not about CECA”, as India nationals are important to the functioning of the economy due to the skills they bring to the workforce.

“It is totally a racial undertone, but (the party) doesn’t realise it,” Abhijit, who is a former pilot, said.

The party leadership, however, has rejected these claims.

PSP's secretary-general Francis Yuen said that the party’s concerns about the jobs of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) have nothing to do with race, but are solely focused on the livelihoods of Singaporeans.

S'pore firm develops first Omicron-specific testing kit

Dec 06, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership
Home-grown biotechnology firm BioAcumen Global has launched Singapore's first Omicron-specific Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit.

This means that a person taking the test will receive one of three results: Covid-19 positive and Omicron positive; Covid-19 positive and Omicron negative; or Covid-19 and Omicron negative.

Currently, PCR kits here that are capable of detecting Omicron require an additional gene sequencing step to confirm the specific variant. This takes an additional day.

Some PCR kits, such as those currently in use by medical technology firm Acumen Diagnostics and biotech firm MiRXES, are able to detect both the Delta and the Omicron strains, but to confirm if a positive case has been infected by Omicron, gene sequencing is necessary.

Mr Jimmy Toh, director of BioAcumen Global, said: "We are looking at ways to cut down the steps and time needed to run this test. This is crucial, especially at the borders where accurate tests need to be done on-site. There is no time to wait on sequencing results to know if a positive sample is infected with Omicron."

Mass production of the kit has begun, and the BioAcumen Global team hopes this kit will provide much needed help locally and in the region for the surveillance and control of this new variant, Mr Toh said.