(Or “Shades of Orwell’s Big Brother?”)
Came across this thoughtful piece by Andy Mukherjee over the weekend. It explains clearly the issues and trade-offs Singapore faces in building our ideal society, while ensuring that Singaporeans have jobs and economic opportunities to build better lives and a brighter future.
As the article points out, we do enjoy important advantages compared to other countries, but it will still not be easy. There are serious trade-offs, which we must be willing to acknowledge and address. If we just pretend that everything can be better, and no hard choices are necessary, we will get into trouble. Mukherjee calls this “please-all economics”, and expresses confidence that Singaporeans are too pragmatic to fall for it. We must make sure that he is right. – LHL on FB two weeks ago
But if we don’t know how much money we have, and how much are the returns the reserves are making for us, how can we judge if the trade-offs PM and his govt make are the right ones? After all he has as gd as admitted his govt got immigration, welfare, public tpt and public housing policies wrong by changing (sorry tweaking or is it evolving?) these policies.
And these were policies significant numbers (self included, and I note not M’sian new citizen
Pussy Cat Lim who confines herself to general banalities) had been warning against for yrs. We were called “noise”, until the govt decided to change these policies.
This is what one LHL said many yrs ago when he was DPM and economic and financial czar:
The Singapore government, May 16, defended the secrecy surrounding its financial reserves of more than US$100 billion, saying it was not in the national interest to disclose details.
The veil of secrecy was necessary to protect the Singapore dollar from speculative attacks, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in parliament.
“It is not in the people’s interest and the nation’s interest to detail our assets and their yearly returns,” he said.http://www.singapore-window.org/sw01/010516a3.htm
This remains the govt’s stand.
And if I remember correctly, his dad once said that info reserves had to be kept a secret so that S’poreans couldn’t ask for more welfare, which they would if they knew how much money S’pore had. Readers correcting me or referencing the quote appreciated.I can’t find it via my googling.
In this mobile internet age, it is sad and self-defeating that the the PM and the PAP govt (ministers and civil servants) cling to the Leninist system that all information is political and can be designated a “state secret” at any time if the govt decides it does not help to bolster the govt’s or party’s own legitimacy and power.
BTW flaw in AndyM’s analysis which disqualifies from being an unbiased analyst
There is a fifth way which Mr Mukherjee has not considered. It is to reduce and reallocate government expenditures. In particular, the government can consider reduce defence spending so as to increase spending on welfare. This is a classic “Gun vs Butter” resource allocation problem studied in elementary economics. At present, Singapore is spending nearly a quarter of the $57 billion estimated government expenditures for FY2014 on defence alone (23% at $13 billion) … [TRE]
Maybe he aiming to be a PAP minister? He is a FT based here.
He did serious weight-lifting in 2011 at a Temasek briefing:First of all, congratulations on beating the sage of Omaha because [ … ] you seem to have out performed Warren Buffett on every horizon. He was BSing as Temasek and Berskshire cannot be compared ’cause Berkshire is listed, Temasek is not.
And if you think PM’s remarks on trade-offs when juxtaposed with his remarks on the need for secrecy on reserves are Orwellian, his press secretary’s remarks in relation to Roy Ngerng are even more chilling:
… What is at stake is not any short-term positive or negative impact on the government, but the sort of public debate Singapore should have. When someone makes false and malicious personal allegations that impugn a person’s character or integrity, the victim has the right to vindicate his reputation, whether he is an ordinary citizen or the prime minister. The internet should not be exempt from the laws of defamation. It is perfectly possible to have a free and vigorous debate without defaming anyone, as occurs often in Singapore. Emphasis mine
Foster public debate by suing for defamation? Come on, pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it. I’m reminded of the slogans in 1984:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
SIR – I refer to the article “A butterfly on a wheel” (June 13th). You referred to an “alleged ‘serious libel’” by Roy Ngerng. This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation. After promising to apologise and to remove the post, Mr Ngerng did the opposite; he actively disseminated the libel further. This was a grave and deliberate defamation, whether it occurred online or in the traditional media being immaterial.
What is at stake is not any short-term positive or negative impact on the government, but the sort of public debate Singapore should have. When someone makes false and malicious personal allegations that impugn a person’s character or integrity, the victim has the right to vindicate his reputation, whether he is an ordinary citizen or the prime minister. The internet should not be exempt from the laws of defamation. It is perfectly possible to have a free and vigorous debate without defaming anyone, as occurs often in Singapore.
Chang Li Lin
Press secretary to the prime minister