“Do you want faster growth or do you want fewer foreign workers? Do you want more hard work or more leisure? Do you want more competitive schools and good results and good futures, or more relaxed schools and fall behind? How can we find that balance in between?” the Prime Minister asked. Whatever the hurdles, he emphasised that the PAP had always been open with Singaporeans, even when these trade-offs may be unpopular – SPH.
I got two gripes with the above remarks by PM.
Firstly, as usual he is framing* the issues in such a way so as to try to get us to answer the way he wants us to answer them. Dad used to do this successfully when we didn’t have the best education system in the world, when issues were less complicated, and when there wasn’t the internet. But times have changed, but PM hasn’t shaken off daddy’s influence.
– “Do you want faster growth or do you want fewer foreign workers?” Well how about asking, “How can we have faster growth without FTs? Can we substitute robots, or pay higher wages?” And more fundamentally what about, “Do we need faster growth? What about better quality growth?”
– “Do you want more hard work or more leisure?” What about asking,”Can we work smarter to have more leisure?” Or more fundamentally, “Are we working smart? Or are we working harder because we are not working smart?”
– “Do you want more competitive schools and good results and good futures, or more relaxed schools and fall behind?” Shouldn’t we be asking, “Are there other ways of educating S’poreans that ensure national prosperity and self-development?”
Now the answers to these alternative questions may well be those that the PM thinks are the solutions to the problems that we face. Fair enough, then. But let’s ask alternative questions, think thru the answers, and also think blue sky. The great and the good don’t always have the answers. Even Bill Gates got Google wrong, badly wrong http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/prophesies-made-in-davos-dont-always-come-true/
And lest the PM forget, the PAP has not always been open with us.
The FTs came pouring in on the quiet. The government was not open on this issue, public housing and transport, and inflation.
Mah Bow Tan was telling us that his HDB building programme was sufficient when S’poreans were saying it was insufficient. Well fact that Khaw has accelerated and expanded the building programme shows that Mah was wrong, if not in denial.
And remember Raymond Lim said GST had to rise when we bitched about overcrowded trainds and buses: he implied that we juz wanted more comfort and so should pay for it. He was wrong or in denial about the problem. Well the massive spending plans, shows that we were right to get upset.
And inflation. I’ve gone on and on about Tharman and Hng Kiang saying that higher inflation doesn’t affect S’poreans who don’t buy cars. That is obfuscation, not openness.
But never mind, the PAP can remain complacent because Low has publicly implied that a vote for the WP is a vote for continued PAP rule.
Not that I’ll complain too much. The low-tax environment and the emphasis on making sure property prices “cheong all the way” have allowed me to stop working in my 40s. And have the time to think; and grumble, constructively, I hope.
And oh, keep on spending our money on ourselves. And double it, or triple it. Better return on investment for the PAP, then letting Temasek lose it like in here http://www.breakingviews.com/tpg-runs-rings-around-li-ning-shareholders/21064940.article. And anyway, , potential returns for investors are not going to be that great anyway http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/01/investing. So it’s a better investment for us and the PAP: make life more comfortable for us using our money.
*Read this on the science of framing questions, to get the “right” answers http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20512743