Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Singapore's SlutWalk

Last evening, Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club, again, organized their in-house Speechcraft program – this was their fifth installment. I was the evaluator for Karen Cheah – who is also my mentee – and she has shown herself to be an engaging story-teller, complete with expressions and gestures.

A day earlier, ratings agency Standard and Poor's announced that it had placed its "long-term sovereign ratings" on 15 eurozone nations on credit watch" due to fears over the impact of the debt crisis. Even AAA-rated France and Germany were included in this list.

S&P's announcement means that there is a one in two chance that those countries would see their credit rating fall within 90 days.

The agency's decision is uncontroversial, says BBC's Robert Peston, because eurozone banks have been struggling to borrow, a number of eurozone economies are buckling under the burden of big government and household debts and there is a significant risk of recession.

I am wondering at this point if the European Central Bank (ECB) is prepared to act as a central bank and guarantee the sovereign debt of the eurozone countries as the lender of last resort ordinarily does in a crisis. Certainly, Europe must get their act together and quickly. France and Germany have acknowledged that a new EU treaty is needed to tackle the crisis. What is also needed urgently is political will.

I almost missed this terse news report. On Sunday, supporters of the global SlutWalk movement against sexual violence held a rally in Singapore attracting dozens to a rare protest in the strictly policed city-state. The event was confined to a free-speech park called Speakers’ Corner but supporters came undeterred by rain (The Star, December 05, 2011, p 32).

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