About guanyinmiao’s musings

I am Jin Yao, Kwan – also known as “Kwan” or “guanyinmiao” – born and raised in Singapore.

I am an aspiring social service researcher, with an interest in the non-profit and philanthropy sector in Singapore (and in Asia). I am a PhD candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles Luskin School of Public Affairs – under the National University of Singapore (NUS)-Overseas Graduate Scholarship – and graduated with a Master in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. Previously, I also worked at the Asia Philanthropy Circle.

I am also a volunteer and a community leader in Singapore, and I help non-profit organisations and charities – working with at-risk youths and on eldercare, in particular – on research projects and with data analysis. I volunteered for extended stints with the Association of Women for Action and Research (2011 to 2015) and Children-At-Risk Empowerment Association Singapore (2007 to 2013), and in addition to other ad hoc projects I am now with social empowerment initiative “I Am Talented” and the United Nations Association of Singapore.

And I blog, on socio-political issues in Singapore, especially in relation to the education system, National Service (or military conscription), and community service. I have been blogging on my own website since 2009, and am also writing for online news site “The Middle Ground”. I wrote for the now-defunct “Breakfast Network” in 2013 and for “SALT”, an online publication by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, in 2014.

SMP Badge

“Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: A Nation’s ‘Where Were You When …’ Moment” March 23, 2016

Together with five other panellists … I was invited to a TODAY roundtable discussion on the impact and legacy of the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. With another 24-year-old gentleman we were the youngest in the group, and I premised my sharing upon arguments that any assessment of his “impact” or “legacy” has to be more balanced and nuanced (Print).

Taking Heart: NVPC’s Online Publication SALT Relaunched January 2014

SALT, an online publication of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), was relaunched last week … It will also feature thought leaders such as Kuik Shiao-yin, Grace Sai and Kwan Jin Yao (Print).

Teachers ‘Should Help Students Take Responsibility Online’ August 16, 2013

The blog of Mr Kwan sought to provide “balance” and a range of perspectives … “We want students to be engaged, participatory, empowered citizens,” said Prof Ho in an interview with The Straits Times (Print).

OSC Reflections August 12, 2013 (Print)

JC Student Apologises to DPM Teo for Blog Post June 8, 2012

The student’s original post had some netizens expressing support for his views, but even more condemned his choice of words. Blogger Kwan Jin Yao, 21, who is waiting to enter university, said that while Reuben’s criticisms were valid, they may have been ‘obscured by the liberal use of expletives’ (Print).

Kopi with the Minister October 3, 2011

National Issues Raised in ‘Kopi with the Minister’ Talks
Full-time national serviceman Kwan Jin Yao said: “I think policy forums like this are a good starting point in terms of generating feedback and interest in issues that most youths are concerned about in Singapore. But I think moving forward, there needs to be more specific discourse on issues because a theme like active citizenry is quite broad. There needs to be specific sessions where individuals can talk about issues on a more in-depth and focused perspective as well” (Print).

Raising Hot Policy Issues at “Kopi Talk” for Students
“Such dialogues are good starting points to engage youths. But there needs to be a follow-up on those ideas to bring them beyond the rhetorical dimension”, said Mr Kwan Jin Yao, 20, a participant at the dialogue session (Print).

受访公众:下届大选将更有"看头" May 29, 2009

Launch of Youth Vibes (REACH) January 8, 2009

– Engaging Youth in Nation-Building
Kwan Jin Yao, 17, an editorial member of the website, is part of a group of young people who will keep the website updated and relevant. “We hope young people can come in here to make constructive criticism. Unlike other forums where a lot of discussions are lost, there will be follow-ups here”, said the Hwa Chong Institution student (Print).

– REACH’s New Active Citizenry Initiatives
One of the junior ambassadors is 17 year old, Kwan Jin Yao, who together with his team, decides on monthly topics to be discussed on the webpage. “This new Youth Vibes portal, in a sense, would gather feedback from individuals and this feedback would be turned into action rather than just words itself, so I think that’s a main selling point that these different ideas can be turned into reality”. Feedback received through these sites will be followed up on and sent to the relevant agencies, says Jin Yao (Print, Print).

– 民众好建议应付诸实践
华侨中学(高中部)学生关进耀(17岁)是编辑组成员。他说:"一些人想法消极,认为即使提供了意见也不会有任何改变。如果他们在 Youth Vibes 留言,民情联系组将把建议整理出来,转交给有关部门参考"(Print)。

Dialogue on the 2008 Budget February 21, 2008

– 70 Students Quiz Minister on the Budget
Seventeen-year-old Kwan Jin Yao, from Hwa Chong Institution, wanted to know why the disabled did not get a bigger hongbao in the Budget (Print).

– Launch of JRA Programme
“I will try through my network of friends first; through the school, through different organisation, different individuals I worked with. Gradually if there is a possibility, since this is a 2 years programme, we could reach out beyond the school. Through the bottom-up approach, from the school to society and to the Grassroots, gradually we aim to voice our opinions, which hopefully will be heard by the government as well as the relevant ministries” (Print).

– 维文医生:预算案中分红包,确保所有人不被忽略


21 thoughts on “About guanyinmiao’s musings

  1. Hello, I am the other owner of the Secret Political Blog, Chee, not cy whom you interacted with recently.

    I read some of your blog, and realized that you do put in a lot of effort into it.

    So it comes as a shock to me that you are an editor of the one of the most lamentable government projects – namely Youth Vibes.

    I am sure that as part of it, you are more acutely aware of how much of a failure it is than I have, and I have blogged about Youth Vibes once it came out this year:


    It is difficult for me to reconcile any image of you, a hardworking caring individual with the disgusting pandering attempt that Youth Vibes is.

    Perhaps you will like to feedback to whomever is your supervisor on what a joke Youth Vibes is to the Youth of Singapore who have to look and actually supposed to comment at subforums creatively named “MONEY Matterz” and “In da NEIGHBOURHOODZ”


    Hopefully you can be satisfied with pseudonyms, and good luck with GP tomorrow if you catch my drift 😉

    Posted by Chee | September 3, 2009, 8:25 pm
    • Lamentable, pandering, failed, childish, unappealing… I must admit all these are apt descriptors for the Youth Vibes portal. There’s nothing much that I can say – or am granted to say given the state of the portal – except that I am sincerely apologetic. I had entered the portal-project genuinely hoping to contribute to the platform; but seeing how things have turned out, it’s quite a pity given the potential it had. I won’t touch on the technicalities (forum titles, lack of updates) and leave if up for others to judge, but personally I had been guilty of the lack of experience and expertise. Writing articles isn’t as simple as I had made it out to be, but I’m glad I’ve learnt. Truthfully, when one of my counterparts tried to put up a considerably pathetic response / retort on your site, I cringed a little: both at the truth of your observations, and my personal ineptness.

      Right now, what I can say is that at the end of my A Levels, one of my priorities would be to get a meeting with the REACH team and Dr. Khor to see how Youth Vibes can be redeveloped, and perhaps be more realistic and plan for the long-term. This weblog is also an ongoing process to make sure I write better and more coherently; in the near future when I get more used to this sort of commentary I would then touch on more diverse issues. I’ll just stick with what I’m comfortable first.

      All that being said, I genuinely hope that you (and many others) do not dismiss REACH; though I cannot say the same for Youth Vibes, regrettably. It is definitely not as pro-establishment as it has been perceived, but I guess it’s an image problem that would be tough to overcome (especially since it is under the purview of MCYS). If I had the power, I would love to enhance REACH in many more areas: strengthening and manpower and operations to maximise the budget it is given, make itself heard more, and start convincing youths and students to engage (which, as aforementioned, was supposed to be the objective of Youth Vibes). In that sense I guess I’m more of an optimist (a “half-full-er”).

      Jin Yao

      And I guess I do need the luck – prolly not for GP – but for everything else. For one, I desperately need a sudden stroke of genius to do decently well for my Math. Sheesh.

      Posted by guanyinmiao | September 3, 2009, 10:07 pm
    • I came across this article (http://uk.asiancorrespondent.com/secret-blog/2009/01/youth-vibes-governments-pathetic-reach.html) when I was reading a blog post which you commented on. I think it is really very badly written, although I’m not sure if this is the exception to your other articles. Please read my criticism with an open mind as I earnestly do not wish to slam you; i merely think you should be considerate of some issues in writing articles (especially political or social commentaries).

      To begin with, you seem to be opposed to the Singapore government, or PAP. There is nothing wrong with adopting that stand, but you do it very unprofessionally – basing your entire argument against the government, without a balanced perspective of the other side’s propositions. Even if we discount this, the arguments you use against the government’s supposed propaganda can be easily dismissed as baseless since they are mostly allegations that are not supported with clear analysis or coherent justification: That will cause the PAP ministers to weep for all the money that they have spent bribing your parents to produce you and subsidizing your education while the money will have been better spent upsizing their salaries instead.

      When writing political/ social commentaries, furthermore, you should never undertake such scathing criticism of the people you claim to take the sides of. Those students you quoted in writing might be lacking in english skills or mature cognition, but that does not qualify you to ride the high horse and ridicule them in any way. If you truly wish to serve the interests of the electorate or Singaporean youths, then this behaviour is despicable and runs counter to your objectives.

      With regard to this website, UK Asian correspondent, I am not sure if I am willing to read the other articles it has due to the poor quality of the article which is put up, and therefore endorsed by, the editors of the site.

      Posted by Aster | June 2, 2010, 9:10 pm
    • This guy is too young,he has a lot more to learn,especially he is so keen to find out the truth which are too often concealed.China is probably one of the fabicrator of “truth”.

      Posted by China Man | July 18, 2012, 7:17 am
  2. I came across a link to your blog through a comment that you made on a Daily Telegraph (UK) article, concerning the pejorative aspects of the “thirst for change” mentality in Singapore.

    Having read much of your blog, I’d like to say that I think that you are a fine writer; one who demonstrates exceptional clarity of expression, as well as impressive erudition.

    Cliché though it is, I think “keep up the good work” is therefore appropriate.

    Posted by Miles Kershaw | March 29, 2010, 7:24 am
    • Thank you for your kind words.

      There are many other outstanding and critical Singaporean bloggers, and I feel privileged enough to be part of a subtle on-line movement to hopefully institute forms of awareness and change as time comes.

      Posted by guanyinmiao | March 29, 2010, 1:52 pm
  3. Your blog is a fine example of intelligent, rational, critical analysis of some fairly contentious policies and issues. Well done.

    [On a side note, I’ve linked to some of your posts from the the Debate Association (Singapore) website. Please let me know if you’re ok with that.]

    Posted by Gaurav Keerthi | May 31, 2010, 2:59 pm
  4. Jin Yao, I am impressed with your blog and your interest in a wide range of subjects. It’s good to know there are young men like you who have an opinion of his own and express it.

    Posted by Frankie Koh | December 4, 2010, 3:20 pm
  5. Sorry for the posting earlier send by me without completing what I wanted to convey.Would like to thank you for all what you are doing.Should have more people like you sharing their ideas than just keeping it in frustration and grumbling which will not help.Tks

    Posted by lawrence | March 18, 2011, 3:23 pm
    • That is very kind of you; though I know I’m just a small voice in a pool of renowned writers and established analysts. Thank you very much.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | March 18, 2011, 5:49 pm
  6. We met at breakfast the other day, and I’ve managed to find your blog.

    I think it’s a pity you turned down command school. You have the rest of your life to further personal interests, but you have probably missed some valuable learning opportunities and experiences that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

    Anyway, wish you all the best until you ORD.

    Posted by Breakfast Buddy | May 3, 2011, 8:24 am
    • I suppose that’s life: you gain some, you lose some. I figure what I’ve missed from command school, I’ve benefited from the reconnaissance training, time in the unit, spending time in camp reading and writing et cetera. Most importantly, the friends (bunk-mates, training counterparts) I’ve been with since last April will last me a lifetime; especially after the things we’ve been through.

      We can’t always get the best of both worlds, can we 😉

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | May 6, 2011, 10:05 am
  7. Hi (:

    Just want to say that I find your blog and articles really well-written, showing reflection and a deep concern for social issues. As a present student of Hwa Chong, I feel really proud to have a senior like you!

    Best regards 😀

    Posted by Junior | April 5, 2012, 10:17 pm
  8. Hi, you are a promising young writer. But I feel the need to point out that you have a tendency to overuse big words. Try searching ‘pedantic’ on your blog and you will see you use it almost every other post. Another needless big word is ‘cognisant’.

    Feel free to ignore me though.

    Posted by Ted | June 21, 2013, 9:37 pm
    • Thanks hahahahahaha. No you’re absolutely right. Been altering the way I write after feedback from many. I’ve also been told I write old, so I’ve cut down on the long sentences (unless it’s a rant).

      Cognisant hasn’t appeared in the past few posts! Switched to aware 😉

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | June 21, 2013, 9:47 pm


  1. Pingback: Blogger Roy Ngerng receives defamation suit from PM Lee Hsien Loong | Mothership.SG - May 19, 2014

  2. Pingback: Blogger Roy Ngerng receives defamation suit from PM Lee Hsien Loong | Mothership.SG - May 19, 2014

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