Last Wednesday, it was reported that Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the PUB is studying the possibility of a new diversion canal off the Stamford Canal in Orchard Road, or the need for a retention pond in the area, which saw two “once in a century” floods last year, within weeks of each other. He also said that “Singapore is at a point where it needs to develop a long-term plan for flood control infrastructure”, effectively admitting that his predecessor* was talking rubbish, and incompetently complacent.
Well the minister* who said a flood was “once in a century”, is now the minister for propaganda, responsible for handling the Internet tsunami. Netizens should hope he remains as incompetent and complacent in his new job as he was in his previous job, given that the government wants to clean out the “cowboy towns” of the Internet territory.
The water ministry isn’t the only place where a change of ministers has resulted in new measures being introduced where previously there was only denial and spin, angering many S’poreans.
Take the change in public housing minister. Minister Mah retired after presiding over a world first: public housing prices went up in a recession. He had also redefined affordability and argued that lowering land costs were “raiding the reserves”. His successor, Khaw, is not in denial, and has taken steps to increase supply and contain costs, all without “raiding the reserves”.
There is a new transport minister (Lui) who unlike his retired predecessor** takes to the trains. He too has introduced new measures to lessen public anger.
And finally there is the welfare department over which VivianB presided. At the very least now, the ministers (“Kee Chui” and Halima) there are talking the talk of compassion, whereas VivianB did not hide his contempt for those in need what with his snide, hurtful and irrelevant comments.
So PM, moving ministers around and out when they underperform is a good idea. Don’t leave it for too long. If Mah had been moved around or out after presiding over the oversupply (150,000 units) in the early noughties, HDB prices may not have risen in a recession in 2009. And the PAP might have got more than 6o% of the popular vote.
Follow yr dad’s policy of ruthless execution of underperformers, not his successor’s and your (pre May 2011) tolerance of underperformers. He must be aware of what Bertolt Brecht, the famous Marxist and German playwright, meant when he wrote,“The finest plans have always been spoiled by the littleness of them that should carry them out. Even emperors can’t do it all by themselves.”
Back to VivianB, “We’re not trying to hide anything.” Err how come you never released the report on food poisoning that occurred at the Kiddie Games? You had promised to release the report. Still secret leh?
And Yes, there is still one more underperforming minister who is still in the cabinet, drawing millions. More on him soon.
*I’m deliberately not mentioning his name lest zealous members of his ethnic or religious community, make a police report accusing me of sedition, or denounce me via TOC of being anti-something or other.
**Not naming him deliberately so as not to bring shame to RI.