Imitation is the best form of flattery

In a city-state country like Singapore where imitation goods and breach of Intellectual Property rights receive heavy punishment, it is a safe haven for companies and individuals who have patents on ideas and products.

Several months ago, on my return from my fellowship in the United States, Singapore saw its first riot in a very long time. Now dubbed, ‘Little India Riot’, the case received much international media attention and I had my fair share when I wrote in a letter to Minister Teo and several other Members of Parliament offering assistance to the situation in the form of programmes that will benefit civil society.

Days after the email, I had a meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs officers in charge of the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) and had proposed my idea for an ‘Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Programme’ aka IF-IC-UP.

This programme was designed based on research and observations I had conducted when on my fellowship at the University of California Irvine (UCI) on the trends of conflict over Singapore’s history, and I had shared them with those officers on what were some modules that would be best implemented and the strategies that we could work around to tackle those issues, in preparation for the future.

I was also told that perhaps I should take a look at what CEP was all about to have a better understanding on their directions. I took a look and observed that it was a more intervention approach with a focus on post-terrorism. I, on the other hand, was proposing a more preventive approach as I felt and knew from experience being a volunteer and an educator that prevention is better than cure.

However, my suggestion wasn’t taken up.

Fast forward to several days back, I saw on the news, “CEP Connectors”.

This programme was to be run in the form of Interest Group at all Community Clubs/Centres with its objective to build understanding between different cultures! – THE VERY SAME OBJECTIVE THAT I HAD SHARED MONTHS EARLIER!

Of course, trying to stake a claim from them for my ideas would seem ridiculous as it would difficult for me to prove that they had in better terms, ‘stole’ my idea (intellectual property), and redesigned it to be something a little different.

I have to say, I’m extremely flattered that my national movement idea was considered, ‘stolen’, adapted and implemented, all without my knowledge, after possibly providing some valuable input.

Regardless, for those of you are interested to learn more about it, do visit ificu.wordpress.com to find out more about what my programme is all about and hopefully, we could find a way to work together.

Most importantly, do share with your friends, the link.

Moving ahead, I will be proceeding to run an online version of my plans on Facebook!

Will be announcing that in the coming weeks to come, as soon as I get more information up onto the website!

Edited Notes:

I had proposed to run this programme with People’s Association as early as June last year before I left for my fellowship. On return, I had followed-up to propose a meeting to discuss but was turned down by People’s Association. Thereafter, the meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs happened.

This programme is now rolled out by People’s Association. The individuals are trained under the CEP.

Further Edit:

This issue has since been clarified. I wrote in to Professor Fatimah and have received clarification from her that this project was conceptualized by her in October 2013 and is purely her initiative.

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