The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bribery and corruption in Singapore.

Singapore is usually described, locally and overseas as being "squeaky clean". People say this because they really believe that there is no corruption in Singapore. However, as with most perfect images, this is just not true. Singapore has its own corruption and bribery problems, too - otherwise it wouldn't have a "Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau". If it was free of corruption, it wouldn't need a Bureau devoted to it.

A recent case of corruption is in the news today. 30 Chinese chefs are under investigation for taking bribes from their supplier to order certain foods. For instance, whenever they ordered Shark's Fin Soup - they would receive a commission. In this way, they were rewarded for making certain orders. 18 chefs have, so far, lost their jobs over this - and, no doubt, others will follow, too.

My concern here is more of an environmental one. I have always been appalled that Singaporeans actually eat Shark's Fin Soup. Anyone who knows anything about the origin of this dish, can only be appalled that people actually eat it. The sharks have their fins cut off, then they are thrown back in the water to die. It is very cruel. It is also an environmental disaster for many sharks are now in danger of extinction...their numbers are very much lower than they used to be. We can thank the taste of the Chinese world for Shark's Fin for that endangerment.

It is time that the consumption of Shark's Fin Soup was banned - made punishable severely - in all countries of the world. If this is not done, it won't be too many years before the dish will die out, for the simple reason that there are no more shark's fins being made - for all the sharks will be dead.

The particular evil of this case - and I hope that the authorities will see it as evil - is that the consumption of shark's fins is being incentivized by bribes. Thus, there are financial rewards to the chefs for putting shark's fin on the menu and promoting it. In this way, the death of species has been tied to monetary rewards. It is mindbogglingly evil. Yet, the articles I have read have overlooked the evil behind this. This case goes beyond bribery - and it should be punished as such. Any practice which ties environmental disaster to corrupt gain, must be stamped out.

I rather hope that all involved get to spend a great part of their lives in jail. It would be fitting. After all, many wonderful, complex, irreplaceable higher animals, will have been killed, most cruelly, simply so that Shark's Fin Soup could be on the menu - and the chefs could get a kickback. What an odious scheme.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:38 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you will never see the banning of Shark fin in Singapore because Shark-fin is the official dish of the wealthy and the rich. As long as the PAP around promoting Singapore as the playground for the rich, such luxury and prestigious dish will never be banned. Singapore always try to be different from others. It will not concede to banning unless the government see that rest of countries like Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and many Asian countries ban it. Very typical government kiasi and kiasu mentality.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

What a sad country this is, that the rich have such a cruel official dish.

To my mind, environmentalism and morality should come above "prestige". The wealthy here should show more soul and more concern for this planet - and just stop eating such a terrible dish.

You are right though: if permission comes from the PAP it will be eaten until there are no more sharks left.

Thanks for your comment.

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While i do not eat shark fins anymore due to the cruelty done to sharks, I am saddened that an outsider is trying to interfere in the culture of others (in this case, chinese).

I have nothing against people who learn to appreciate the cultures of the world, but people who seek to impose their belief onto others... that reeks of a past that is still very much present in the mindset of some.

Perhaps you would like to go vegetarian? Have you seen animals led to the slaughter? Do you know that certain animals like pigs show a lot of fear- they know what is coming. What about Foie gras? Force feeding is cruel too you know?
My friends and prof who are vegetarians always explain to me(and others) about their viewpoint in a very gentle and non-abrasive manner. And yet, they still respect my choice.

By the way, what is the link to PAP? I certainly do not want PAP to start controlling what i am to eat as well... Weird ain't it? People criticize PAP for being too controlling and now... this... Anyway, politics aside...

Singapore does have corruption, no doubt- every country has it- its just a manner of how much and on what issue. You know what? I actually feel insulted... because of what you said
"People say this because they really believe that there is no corruption in Singapore."
OMG. How dumb do you think people are? Or are you just referring to foreigners?
Chefs getting bribed? Erm. Is that really serious?

Read this:

I believe this is a more serious matter than chefs being bribed. If you want to talk about open bribery, you just have to look to the US politicians and their lobby groups. It takes the icing on the cake.

Thanks for making me laugh. Now back to work.


Wait. i would like to check with you on something.

I do not read all your post, but since i started reading 1.5 years ago, i have only seen negative comments on Singapore and on ethic Chinese. Perhaps i'm mistaken, and that is why i asking you- is it true?
And if so, why? Is Singapore that 'bad' that you stay, despite the fact that Malaysia is just across the Causeway? And is the largest ethic group in the world really so worthy of every complaint- their culture, their attitudes, their habits, their accomplishments? Just asking.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Boy oh boy, you have misunderstood basically everything I wrote. Firstly, my point is not about Chinese “culture”…really I have no interest in or concern for what Chinese culture may or may not constitute. It is not remotely interesting. My concern is whether Chinese practices are causing permanent harm to the ecosystem of the world. You are exhibiting shallowness of thinking if you think this is about an outsider interfering in “culture”…not at all, this is about someone standing up for the COMMON TREASURE OF ALL HUMANKIND: the ENVIRONMENT AND ECOSYSTEM. What the Chinese are doing with regards to shark’s fin is wiping out many irreplaceable species. They are eating sharks to extinction…and all for a tiny piece of their flesh. To any UNBIASED and HUMANE and THOUGHTFUL observer, what they are doing is madness. They kill the whole animal, for a little piece of its body…and they do so in a very cruel way. It would be morally wrong to stand by and say and do nothing about this. That you take exception to someone taking a moral stance shows, very clearly, that you don’t know what a moral position is. You must have been living in Singapore too long.

Your implicit comparison of my concern at the wiping out of species, to colonialism is laughable. It is not a colonial attitude to care about the fate of the world. It is the only attitude that makes sense for the long term fate of the Earth and all life upon it. You are mixing up ideas and ways of thinking, and confusing them, unnecessarily.

I don’t eat pigs. So I can’t be blamed for their slaughter. Although, of course, the Chinese like to eat pigs…perhaps you should complain to them.

I don’t eat foie gras either…for moral and health reasons. You see, I have already thought of the issues you raise and taken a moral stance on them.

If you had read carefully, you would note that the link to the PAP was made by someone else…not by me: so it is strange that you complain of it to me. Address your complaints to the person who made the connection.

The general overseas marketing of Singapore by the PAP is that it is a corruption free culture. You should know this. This is the image they are portraying. Therefore it IS of interest that the truth is otherwise. No other country is going around marketing itself as free of corruption – so the links you provide to the problems of corruption elsewhere add nothing to the discussion, because these countries are not proclaiming themselves to be corruption free zones. Singapore, on the other hand, likes itself to be seen as free of corruption – therefore it is doubly of interest that it is not.

Your thinking stops at the surface of things. The seriousness of chefs being bribed, in this instance, is in what they are being bribed to do: they are being bribed to encourage the eating of an animal which is being overeaten…sharks are directly endangered by this practice. Thus the crime here is the incentivization of the extinction of species. It is a very serious matter therefore. That you cannot see this, merely illustrates that you haven’t thought the issue through to any depth at all. Either that, or you don’t actually value life on Earth, in all its variety and complexity. Failure to do so, could eventually lead to the failure of the ecosystem and the death of all life on Earth…for that is the ultimate end of all this environmental degradation. So, even if you don’t pay the price of your attitudes, your descendants will.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Posts. I have written quite a few positive posts of Singapore and experiences I have had here and some of its people. You haven’t been reading diligently. I have also written critical posts of Singapore. I have noticed something however. Blog aggregators ONLY ever link to my critical posts – thus the critical posts garner more traffic and attention. They have never linked to a positive post, as far as I am aware. I am impartial regarding Singapore: I write both good and bad. Re. Chinese, I have written positive and negative posts on many different cultures, nations and places. If a post is critical of a particular nation, it is not alone: there will be other critical posts, too, of other nations: I have even criticized my home land on a fair few occasions. Thus, you should not think that I am playing “favourites” or its opposite. I write what is due the subject matter. If what a particular nation is doing is, in my view, wrong, I will point that out. However, in doing so, that does not mean that other nations are “right” – at other times, I will have pointed out their failings too. I just think you are overly sensitive on the issue of all things Chinese…which makes me think that you are probably Chinese yourself. Would you care if you were from Africa…or the Middle East? You probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

Re. Chinese accomplishments. Most Chinese cultural achievements that are of world significance appear to be from the distant past. In modern times, China has done very little that is original. I think this may be due to the culture of the place. I don’t want to be drawn into the issue, however. China has a great past…maybe it will reform itself and have a great future. However, much would have to change to make the China of the future as great as the China of the past. Who knows if China will be able to make the change? Will they even try? Or will they focus purely on material wealth? (as they seem to be doing…). If China purely focuses on wealth, then, in real, tangible terms, I don’t think they will match the greatness of their own past ever again. They will be doomed to be shallow of achievement, though deep of pocket. We will see what choices they make.

Oh by the way, regarding the arms deal you have linked to and the hoohah concerning the bribery involved in the deal. You have rather missed the point of the significance of that I think. Bribery is far less a crime than arms dealing, itself. The biggest moral issue there is not the bribery…but the very fact that weapons were being sold that could kill people, in the first place. ALL arms deals are crimes against humanity, in one very deep sense. To be concerned about whether bribery was involved is almost funny, by comparison. It is the deal itself that is wrong. However, it could be argued that to incentivize arms dealing heightens the crime – and I would agree with that. However, one mustn’t forget that the dealing of arms itself is morally reprehensible.

You should note that just because the chinese are the most numerous people in the world, that does not make them right on any particular issue. Numerical advantage does not confer moral superiority, or correctness in anything at all - it just means there is a lot of them. This, in itself, is not of significance, other than that it means they will eat a lot of shark's fin. In that sense, the number of the people involved is not helpful for the world and its diversity of life.

Thanks for your comment.

1:00 PM  

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