atans1

Ho Kwon Ping’s real insight: Welcome Back to the Future

In Uncategorized on 24/10/2014 at 5:15 am

Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Ho Kwon Ping (es-ISD detainee) spoke at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS)-Nathan lecture series on Monday (20 Oct). His speech was more than about the PAP’s continuing hegemony and its probable decline. Not that you’d notice if you only read the reports and commentary in constructive, nation-building media and the new media.

The focus was on what he said were

– the challenges of PAP remaining in power, maintaining its one-party dominance and denying the opposition its self-described role as a “co-driver” of the nation, but to do so in a manner which ensures that the party “truly renews itself and retains its original vitality, vibrancy and vigour”.

“If history is anything to go by, this last task will be daunting.”

– And that it’s a matter of time PAP would lose an election. (”Is Ho Kwon Ping saying all that much? 15 years from now means 2029/30. That’s at least three general elections away!” was posted on facebook by a friend.)

Ah yah, even my dogs can tell you these things.

Seriously, and sadly, the most impt insight of the speech was played down. Why I do not know.

Back to the future: 1950s and early 1960s revisited 

In his conversations with young Singaporeans, he said, almost everyone was critical of one issue or another, and to varying degrees, he says.

“But what impressed me was the overwhelming sense of what sociologists call self-agency – the simple notion that I can change things; that I am in control of my life and my future.”

“This kind of political DIY, or Do-It-Yourself, attitude has in the past decade encouraged a participatory democracy which resembles Singapore’s early years, but which then surrendered to decades of developmental authoritarianism.”

He gave the example of the public response to Gay Penguins incident, “The fact that some bureaucrat banned some children’s books as pro-gay and anti-family is not unexpected, and not dissimilar in logic to the banning of chewing gum decades earlier. But 20 years ago, such bureaucratic actions – not necessarily about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues but over anything, such as fines for this or that offence, or banning shoulder-length hair for men – would have been met only with grudging acquiescence.”

“But as a sign of the times, including the power of social media, the response this time was some 400 young parents decamping to the National Library* to read the banned and to-be-pulped books to their children. It was not a strident political demonstration and more like a children’s outing. But the point was clear.”

This is his original insight: we are returning to the social activism of the 1950s. Diverse views were slugging it amid great inequality: out: with strikes, rallies, riots, boycotts being par for the course.

So don’t be too surprised if Roy and New Citizen FT H3 when doing their encore after disrupting the YMCA’s event, throw acid at innocent people’s faces; this happened in the 50s. Doubtless, they will say that their victims provoked them. And M Ravi will claim that Roy and H3 have the constitutional right to throw acid at innocent people. (Btw, the good life that activists lead: drinking champagne.)

Seriously, why does Ho Kwon Ping see a return to the 1950s and early 1960s? He cites the following reasons:

New media erodes Govt’s ability to shape or frame public thinking

He pointed out that the ability of governments to control information will continue to erode, despite sometimes frantic and illogical attempts to stem it: “Because knowledge is power, and the ability to control access to information is the key to power, governments instinctively want to be the gatekeepers. But, increasingly, social media and its incredible variety of means for people to connect even across a heavily censored Internet system is undermining the Government’s ability to shape how people think.

‘Anything censored is still widely available in alternative media, and therein lies the rub: At what point will control and censorship of the mainstream news, cultural and entertainment media become counter-productive by not really achieving the purpose of blocking access to information, but, instead, end up alienating the social activists who, despite their small size, are influencers beyond their numbers?”

The centre cannot hold

Mr Ho said it will be increasingly difficult to hold the political centre together in the midst of polarising extremes – liberals versus conservatives; local versus foreign; pro-life versus pro-abortion; gay versus straight, and so forth.“While fault lines along race and religion have been contained and have still not cracked, the so-called culture wars are intensifying.”

“Non-constructive politics”

Another trend is the diminution in the stature of political leadership which will encourage the rise of so-called “non-constructive” politics.

“Future leaders simply cannot command the sufficient respect and moral authority to decree what is acceptable and unacceptable criticisms. To have the authority to simply deride wide swathes of criticisms as simply non-constructive is wishful thinking.”

Bling is the fashion

“In recent years, the ostentatious pursuit of wealth rivalling Hong Kong standards has become fashionable. Extolling our casinos, Formula 1 Grand Prix and highest per capita number of billionaires and Lamborghinis in the world, as evidence that Singapore has now become a world-class city, could perhaps be dismissed as the crassness of the rich, except that this ethos of the elite is occurring just when income inequality has become the worst since independence,” Mr Ho said.

“The gulf between rich and poor Singaporeans, not only in terms of wealth but also in terms of values, is probably more than ever before, and is continuing to widen. Even the gap between old money and its sense of responsible philanthropy, and the nouveau riche’s penchant for affectation and bling, is widening.”

Becoming normal human beings, not comrades on a mission

Lastly, the absence of a galvanizing national mission and a sense of dogged exceptionalism as the little red dot that refuses to be smudged out, will lead increasingly to a sense of anomie – which has been defined as “personal unrest, alienation and anxiety that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals”, he said.

“It is the disease of affluence which affects individual people as well as societies. We have arrived, only to find ourselves lost again.”

The moral of all this: new media can be as bad as our constructive, nation-building media. New media people too have their agendas, prejudices. They too can be stupid.

Take nothing on trust.

Related posts on life in the early 60s

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/im-invested-in-spore-spore-in-50s-60s/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-55-of-voters-were-fts/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/ntuc-what-devan-nair-got-wrong/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/were-the-coldstore-detainees-communists-progressives-or-leftists/ The book reviewed here has gd stuff on the 50s and 60s even if it was published by a stat board. Juz goes to show …

——

*There seems to be a conspiracy of silence among the govt, constructive nation-building media, social activists, and tua kee bloggers and other cyber warriors on this gathering. As far as I’ve been able to make out, no permission was sought or given to conduct the read-in, making it an illegal assembly. So why no arrests? Why no gloating by activists that the police didn’t dare arrest anyone, let alone investigate?

 

 

Parking problems in HK, S’pore might benefit

In Hong Kong, Indonesia on 23/10/2014 at 4:33 am

No not a shortage of parking lots in Admiralty or Mong Kok caused by the heloos of Roy and FT  H3.

There is a shortage of moorings for superyachts. There is nowhere left to park them in HK, the Economist reported sometime back.

Still got space here, though the waters around S’pore are pirate-infested. Blame the Indon navy for that. Sadly our navy not like the Royal Navy in the 19th century. Keppel and other naval captains went around attacking pirate ships and their dens.

PAP’s “servant leadership” like SingTel’s service?

In Political governance, Telecoms, Uncategorized on 22/10/2014 at 6:13 am

Oxymorons, both. Yet why do S’poreans buy into both?

The day before I read Ho Kwon Ping’s speech*, the following conversation occurred on Facebook between friends

One friend asked another friend on her views on buying a Samsung Galaxy note 4 here. The first friend has daughter working here.

My other friend replied

If she doesn’t already have a plan that she is locked into .. she shld jus sign up for one or recontract if it’s due for renewal. The subsidy for the fone is pretty gud. I only paid S$48 for my note4. I use Singtel even tho I have endless issues with them but I feel it is still better than the other 2 telos we have here. 

When it comes to voting for the PAP, 25- 35% of S’poreans, I suspect think like her. Plenty of problems with PAP (like Singtel’s service, the PAP’s servant-leadership sucks). But then there are compensations (like bullying bullying hooligans like Roy and H3: no human rights BS for them; low taxes**; can leave doors unlocked even when no-one in the house; uncongested roads, safe streets etc etc).

And what are the alternatives to the PAP? The Worthless Party that doesn’t to become the governing party, even in coalition with other oppo parties (only loyal courtier leh); SDP whose leader can still go wacko (remember Dr Chee’s remarks about Punggol East); and even NSP (a sensible party after Goh Meng Seng*** moved on and started sliming it) can do strange things. NSP is KPKBing about nothing impt (a lawyer, I’m told, refuses to declare how rich rich she is). Makes one want to weep.

Coming back to SingTel: I couldn’t help but think “Singtel screws footie fans but gives peanuts to disabled?” when I in July I read , Singtel announced yesterday a donation of S$1.1 million to SG Enable, an agency which provides services for disabled people, with the money going towards the setting up and running of the Enabling Innovation Centre (EIC).BT 23 July.

Remember the cost of EPL and World Cup footie.

——-

*”Is Ho Kwon Ping saying all that much? 15 years from now means 2029/30. That’s at least three general elections away!” was posted on facebook by a friend.

**Don’t buy into the BS that CPF is a tax. It has elements of a tax (think retention, limited use and pay now, get back in future when value is deminished), but until the day one the govt stops monies in CPF account being inherited in cash, tax it ain’t. Sorry to disagree with Uncle Leong. I respect or agree with many of his views, but not on CPF being a tax.

***Goh Meng Seng can contradict himself in same paragraph.

It is truly enlightening to see that BOTH people from the “Third World” and “First World” places like Malaysia and Hong Kong are shunning Singapore for “retirement”. But as Singaporeans, do we have a choice at all? We are born in Singapore and we have little choice but live, retire and die in Singapore. However, under PAP rule, we are going to suffer, after decades of contributing to Singapore’s development, we will die poor, having to be forced to sell off our HDB flat for our retirement.

But then he says:

I guess the ultimate aim of PAP has been leaked before, they wanted us to retire in JB (Johor Bahru)!

So waz this about … as Singaporeans, do we have a choice at all? We are born in Singapore and we have little choice but live, retire and die in Singapore.

Come on Goh Meng Seng, think before write. Or at least read back what you just wrote, a second ago.

And we do have a choice to retain our citizenship and live abroad in our old age. M’sia and the Philippines have “silver-hair” programmes fot foreigners. I also know of S’poreans who have sold off their HDB flats and moved onto NZ, Oz and Canada.

As you are personally aware (having sold yr HDB flat to fund the NSP’s campaign in 2011), the high prices of HDB flats gives options to many S’poreans. Whether they take advantage of it, is up to them. If they die, die want to remain here, they have to accept whatever govt, the majority of their fellow S’poreans prefer. At the moment, 60 — 70% prefer the PAP. And with anti-PAP activists like you and the person you advised, Tan Kin Lian, who can blame them?

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 218 other followers