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Waz the “right” kind of gotong royong?

In Economy, Infrastructure, Internet, Political governance, Public Administration on 18/10/2013 at 5:00 am

Update on 22 23 October 2013: Minister explains use of Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act (http://au.sports.yahoo.com/football/news/article/-/19491410/football-match-fixing-witnesses-fear-reprisals/) on footie fixers.

I recently came across “gotong royong” the American way, or community spirit the capitalist way: in American- speak, the “sharing economy”.

Technology is revolutionising the way Americans catch a cab with a ride now just a click away through mobile phone apps like like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Instantcab and Flywheel.

Many of these services are part of the so-called “sharing economy” in which car owners offer to drive strangers in exchange for a “donation”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24393348

But is this the “right” gotong royong that the PAPpies say they want here?

Bet you the Hard Truths that premise the PAP’s governing methods will prevent S’pore from ever going down this route, even though this seems one of several viable solutions (several are needed)  to our public tpt and private car problems  Remember, NTUC is via the Labour Foundation, the controlling shareholder of ComfortDelgro, the owner of the biggest taxi fleet here, and Temasek’s SMRT has a big taxi fleet too. The former runs most of the buses, while the latter runs most of the trains too. And it might impact the revenue from CoEs.

Seriously, the problem here is that “gotong royong” is contrary to the PAP’s Hard Truth that it is fount of everything. Gotong royong is not compatible with a top-down approach, where there is always a “right” way of doing things.

In “gotong royong”, as in the “sharing economy”, things happen because the rabble plebs mob community, society, consumer is the driving force, not a benign meritocratic elite. The people realise that there is a problem, issue, and are free (within some, not many, constraints) to work out a solution*. They don’t bitch while waiting for the governing elite to solve the problem, feeling entitled that because said elite is well-paid, they must solve the problem, resolve the issue.

I consider the following to be gotong royong in action, but doubt the PAP ministers urging us to “gotong royong” would agree:

– TOC’s and TRE’s continued existence;

– the various fund raisings for various legal cases where the govt is the defendant;

– the public funding of the deposits of Alex Tan and friends, and the independent team at Tanjong Pagar GRC;

– Nicole Seah raising money for her team’s election expenses;

– the free food and drinks at Gilbert Goh’s Hong Lim Green functions;

– Function 8;

– CHC members who willingly pay the legal fees of church members being prosecuted for false accounting etc;

– pastor Khong’s gang funding a legal suit;

– those who lend sound eqpt and technical help at various Hong Lim Green parties

– the kay pohs trying to help FTs avoid being hung for drug trafficking**;

– those gathering to help the family of Dinesh Raman get justice and closure**;

– Maruah**;

– the volunteers who help FT manual workers;

– the LGBT community; and

the dedicated band of enthusiasts who have been trying to draw attention to the cemetery’s [Bukit Brown's] value. They have succeeded in having it included on the biennial watchlist of the World Monument Fund (WMF), of heritage sites around the world that are in danger.

All these examples and more show that the gotong royong spirit is alive and well. They juz don’t fit the PAP’s narrative, especially the bit that the PA’s and PAP’s grass-root activists are the only selfless, dedicated volunteers. And that in cyberspace, their activists are no match for the the injuns, outlaws and other inhabitants of cowboy towns.

*In the US, there is no hegemonic elite to enforce the top down approach, and stifle innovation or stifle dissent or force recantations from members of the elite turned heretical.

**How come no help Dan Tan? Because he drive 7 series, got properties and China babe? And he not violent, middle class or FT?

Ngiam & Galileo Galilei & Gen Giap

In Political governance on 17/10/2013 at 5:11 am

The comments made against Ngiam (some by those who should better and by who all don’t have his balls or stature or achievements or intellect) reminded me of two scenes in the play “Life of Galileo” by Bertolt Brecht.

Andrea’s disappointment of Galileo, after the latter recanted (p. 84-5) [Andrea is one of Galileo's pupils]

Andrea : (loudly) Unhappy the land that has no heroes! (Galileo has come in, completely, almost unrecognizably, changed by the trial. He has heard Andrea’s exclamation. As none is forthcoming and his pupils shrink back from him, he goes slowly and because of his bad eyesight uncertainly to the front where he finds a footstool and sits down)

Andrea : I can’t look at him. I wish he’d go away.

Federzoni : Calm yourself.

Andrea : (screams at Galileo) Wine barrel! Snail eater! Have you saved your precious skin? (Sits down) I feel sick.

Galileo : (calmly) Get him a glass of water.

Andrea : I can walk now if you’ll help me. (They lead him to the door. When they reach it, Galileo begins to speak)

Galileo : No. Unhappy the land that needs a hero.

http://muse.tau.ac.il/museum/galileo/info_about_andrea.html

In the final scene of the play, Galileo, now an old man, living under house arrest, is visited Andrea. Galileo gives him a book (Two New Sciences) containing all his scientific discoveries, asking him to smuggle it out of Italy for dissemination abroad. Andrea now believes Galileo’s actions were heroic and that he just recanted to fool the ecclesiastical authorities. However, Galileo insists his actions had nothing to do with heroism but were merely the result of self-interest. Wikipedia

Ngiam became the the “people”‘s hero because he, a retired insider, criticised the govt. If they had bothered to read the details of his criticism, they would have found things that would have made them unhappy if implemented by the govt. Examples

– MRT fares should be relatively more expensive than bus fares to reflect their greater convenience to commuters, and higher costs to the system.

– His call for a weaker S$, isn’t going to be gd for inflation.

– Some govt spending on S’poreans has met his disaaproval. He considers these popularist measures.

– He doesn’t agree with Gilbert Goh and friends on their “S’poreans first” call.

Now the “people” have turned against him because of his perceived recantation. They now forget his bravery.

I don’t think the people’s adulation, then revulsion affects him personally, or his reputation among those who matter. He doesn’t do popularity. When once asked by our local media why he never aspired to become a minister, he said he didn’t do “kissing babies”.

He is right in eschewing popularity. Remember the people’s hero, who the “people” asked to stand in the 2011 presidential elections, Tan Kin Lian? He lost his deposit, the self-styled voice of the people. He was seduced and then deserted by the “people’.

I suspect Ngiam’s popularity with the mob rabble had more to do with his criticism of the govt, than because people understood what he was saying. It was also a gd way for KS S’poreans to “dog whistle”* that they were not pro-govt (a bit like why general Giap was mourned by the Vietnamese young.**.

Sadly, his fall from the people’s favour should help reinforce the Dark Side’s prejudices about the people: the mob, rabble doesn’t matter. The voters can be manipulated, tamed and fixed via bread, circuses, the security services and the right messages. Throw them enough of their own money, and spin that this shows the PAP cares, and come the next GE, Pritam and Auntie will be out of their cushy jobs.

And the Dark Side’s view is reasonable. Fortunately, the Dark side has no Dr Goebbels to spin the right messages effectively. Until it finds him, the PAP govt can continue to throw our money at ourselves, and still not succeed in winning over the 35% of S’poreans that voted for Dr Tan Cheng Bock. Unless, of course, I’m wrong, and this 35% are “daft” enough to think the govt really cares. Somehow, I doubt it.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/ngiam-galileo-galilei/

*http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/gg-crashes-new-indian-chief-needed/

** Criticism of the party over corruption and economic mismanagement has exploded recently on the internet … In vain, the authorities keep jailing bloggers, but they have in effect lost control of the internet.

It is in this context that the adulation of Gen Giap should be seen. He was in fact unwaveringly loyal to the party, and only occasionally said anything that could threaten its authority.

But in death he is being seen as a symbol of everything that today’s Communist leaders are not; charismatic, heroic, clean-living, a true patriot. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24516186

Ngiam & Galileo Galilei

In Political governance on 14/10/2013 at 5:15 am

(Updated on 17th October 2013 at 1.35pm to include text of Njiam’s letter)

(Or “And yet it moves”)

The above phrase, said to be uttered by Galileo Galilei, came to mind when I read his clarification on comments he made about ministers and civil servants http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ngiam-tong-dow-clarifies/844654.html*. Transcript of offending interview: http://www.sma.org.sg/UploadedImg/files/Publications%20-%20SMA%20News/4509/Interview%20NTD%20full%20transcript.pdf

Explanation for those who don’t know their history of ideas and science: “And yet it moves” (Italian: Eppur si muove; [epˈpur si ˈmwɔːve]) is a phrase said to have been uttered before the Inquisition by the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant that the earth moves around the sun. (Wikipedia)

Update (9.44am): In response to those who don’t know and who can’t be bothered to look it up, the Inquisition was athe department of the Catholic Church that regularly physically tortured people for not having the “right” views.  Torture stopped once they had the “right” views.  Historians say that Galileo Galilei was never tortured, he was merely shown the instruments of torture.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/mandarin-ngiam-on-elitism-social-divide-education-etc/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/analysing-ngiam-tong-dows-march-2012-speech-part-i/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/lky-answered-ngiam-tong-dows-f1-question/

—-

*Mr Ngiam’s letter in full:

From the feedback from friends and colleagues who read my interview published in SMA news, September 2013 Issue, it has come to my attention that I had given the wrong impression in several ways.

I had described my discussions with Mr Lee Kuan yew about the COE scheme as an example of Mr Lee’s openness in discussing policies, even with officials. I realise that my comments might suggest that the COE scheme was implemented to raise funds. That was not the case. The fundamental purpose of the COE scheme was to limit Singapore’s car population. If the intent had been to raise revenue, I would not have supported the policy as Permanent Secretary at the Finance ministry.

I also realise on re-reading the interview that I had not been fair in what I had said about Ministers and discussions in Cabinet. I retired from the civil service in 1999. Since then I have not attended any cabinet meetings, and have never seen one chaired by PM Lee Hsien Loong. Thus my statement that Ministers will not speak their minds before PM Lee is unfair as it was made without knowing what actually happens at Cabinet meetings today. I have been told by civil servant colleagues that Cabinet discussions are robust – as robust as they were when I attended cabinet meetings as PS (PMO), when Mr Goh Chok Tong was PM and Mr Lee Hsien Loong DPM.

I also realise that my claim that Ministers may not speak up because they earn high salaries is illogical. I know that some Ministers have given up high-flying and well-paid careers in the private sector in order to serve the public at a fraction of their original or potential income. Others could have gone to the private sector to make more money but have chosen to be in the public service. They have no reason not to speak their minds when they are convinced that they are doing right by Singaporeans.

I had also said that the current crop of leaders is elitist. I had spoken without realising that many had in fact come from humble backgrounds.

I had the privilege and honour of working with Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr Hon Sui Sen and Mr Lim Kim San. I have said many times that Mr Lee is my hero and that Singapore was lucky to have had such a team to steer it from third world to first. The Cabinet today faces different and less straightforward challenges, having to deal with globalisation and more intense international competition. However, as I had mentioned in my interview, we are starting from a good position – for example, in healthcare, one of the main subjects of the interview.

 

Financial centres’ curses

In Economy, Internet, Political economy, Political governance on 13/10/2013 at 5:10 am

For all the highfaluting talk of govt and talk-cock artists especially in the local media, we don’t do things like this even though Burma is in Asean (our backyard):

[I]n Burma – or Myanmar – social media sites and the whole internet have been inaccessible for years.

For one Canadian-Vietnamese woman that has provided a unique business opportunity to found the Burma’s first-ever social networking site.

However, Rita Nguyen had never been to the country before this year as BBC South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head heard.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24393043

Why?

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/a-very-high-tech-inventive-low-population-country/)

Are we are more comfortable as serfs slaves PMETs in a financial centre?

A recent article, interestingly, makes a compelling argument that places that depend on the financial industry (like S’pore) are like resource-rich countries, and like them suffer from the triple problems of a high exchange rate that causes problems for manufacturers, revenue volatility and poor governance.

Is finance like crude oil? Countries rich in minerals are often poverty-stricken, corrupt and violent. A relatively small rent-seeking elite captures vast wealth while the dominant sector crowds out the rest of the economy. The parallels with countries ‘blessed’ with powerful financial sectors are becoming too obvious to ignore.

http://taxjustice.blogspot.sg/2013/09/is-finance-like-crude-oil-resource.html

Another US innovation to breed entrepreneurs

… has designed I-Corps as a way of converting the most promising science and engineering projects in American universities into start-ups. The I-Corps teams … comprise just a principal investigator (usually a tenured professor), a younger entrepreneurial lead (undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral student) and an experienced entrepreneur or venture capitalist as a mentor. Each of the 100 or so teams has received a [US}$50,000 to cover a crash course on how to avoid the pitfalls common to all new ventures … New ventures, they are taught, are all about finding customers, what distribution channels to adopt, how to price the product, who to partner with, and more. From day one, the mantra is “get out of the lab” … The I-Corps programme is based on the premise that all new ventures are little more than a series of untested hypotheses—in other words, optimistic guesses about market size, customer needs, product pricing and sales channels. With so many unknowns, the programme teaches participants to treat their start-up as if it were a typical research project, amenable to the same iterative process of hypothesis testing and experimentation.

http://www.economist.com/node/21559734

Why anti-PAP paper activists needn’t get shriller

In Humour, Political governance on 09/10/2013 at 4:44 am

A rabid anti-PAP paper activist posted this on Facebook:

LHL is out of touch with reality on the ground. It is very clear that he has refused to learn.

Now no matter whether he cry, say sorry, beg for forgiveness – Aljunied & Punggol East will be repeated all over Singapore in 2016.

He was referring to PM’s tv appearance on 24 September. There were lots of similar comments on Facebook and on TRE and TOC (Surprising very few people post on TRS, making its claim that it represents the real S’porean sound true, apathetically and KS). Increasingly, the tone of many of the “usual suspects” including many of the the Magnificent 7, are getting shriller and shriller, and angrier and angrier. Are they trying to drown out their doubts that maybe the govt is winning the battle of ideas and votes?

Maybe the anti-PAP paper activists are realising that the govt has realised that for many S’poreans especially the PMETs the link between economic growth and living standards is broken, and is trying hard to addressing the issue (Related http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/trust-has-to-regained-pm/). (Worse, perhaps, the govt has read that a Nobel prize winner in  economics, Stiglitz, makes a very bold assertion that inequality is economically inefficient and that it’s bad for society? And now believes in pursuing a more equal society, rather than juz chasing for votes.)

In the words of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), a govt-funded think tank, in its Oct Asean Monitor

The National Day Rally Speech in August offered the clearest indication to date of how the People’s Action Party will try to win back the ground that it lost in the 2011 general elections. With tweaks to the national health insurance scheme, to housing subsidies for the middle class and to primary school admissions and national examinations, the ruling party has opted to recalibrate social and welfare policies to address middle-class concerns instead of relaxing its stance on civil liberties or freedom of expression. Having chosen this path, it may not be inappropriate to expect more populist policy shifts, designed to appeal to the middle ground, in the run-up to the 2016 elections.

Interestingly, it goes on to say

These policy tweaks were, in part, the result of public feedback gleaned from the year-long nationwide public clinics collectively known as Our Singapore Conversation. While understandably touted by government leaders and the local media as a sign of more consultative politics, the litmus test will be whether such conversations are a one-off event and whether divergent public desires and government interests can ever be reconciled.

So our paper activists still can dream on that the PAP will lose support. So chill out a little, to avoid health problems. After all, assuming they are mostly ordinary S’poreans, if they get strokes or cardiac attacks, they will have to use the “subsidised” healthcare system. I’m sure that that tot when suffering a stroke or heart attack, will make them even angrier, and sicker, making the attack worse. They are using the very system that they “condemn”. Of course, they may all have expensive private healthcare insurance like the elite, though I doubt it.

The report then highlights a fault line that the anti-PAP activists ignore because they are in the main on the side of the social activists (a notable exception is Berrie, the Muslim bear from S’pore and Canada).

With a promising GDP forecast for this year, the economy will take a back seat to emerging socio political issues. One such issue is the struggle between gay rights activists and moral conservatives.

This tension has existed for some time, but a recent request from pastors for an audience with the law minister after the latter met with a gay rights group suggests that the push-back from moral conservatives will grow stronger. Another emerging issue is the increasingly political nature of heritage conservation in the city-state. With heritage issues now fronted more and more by the young and well educated, the key question is whether heritage will become a vote winner for the youth demographic.

It then talks of an issue close to the hearts of social activists, and Gilbert Goh and friends, for different reasons: Finally, civil society’s response in the aftermath of the November 2012 bus strike by several Chinese drivers suggests that the championing of social justice for vulnerable migrant workers — the likes of which Singapore has not seen since the 1980s — is now re-emerging as a pertinent issue.

It ends with hope for the paper activists who “die,die” want the PAP out:  Key points: The demand for greater political pluralism will continue to grow. The question is how different interests can be managed or, indeed, if they require state intervention at all.

So anti-PAP paper activists, time to sound less shrill, and less full of hate. A govt statutory board is telling you history is on yr side. Change is a’coming. If you want the new S’pore to reflect yr values, be rational, not emotional. Could even help you avoid having to use the healthcare system you hate.

Trust has to regained, PM

In Political governance on 04/10/2013 at 4:49 am

PM’s “right that major policy success hinges on citizens trusting government. And that incorruptibility, impartiality, and integrity are crucial to that trust.” (GIC’s ex-chief economist on Facebook)

But “trust” is an aquifer, glacier or reservoir that needs constant replenishment because of the constant outflows.When more water is used, than comes in, there is a point when the inflow has to be increased, or the outflow limited, or stopped, so that reserves can be built up again.

As I see it, because the govt had not changed policies that need changing, there was and (still is) a net outflow of trust.  To put it another way, the bank account containing “trust” that his dad and friends had built up has “insufficient funds”. PM and predecessor (PM was the DPM then) have been living off the old guard’s legacy, taking out more “trust” than they have been putting “in”.

The PM has made a start in trying to increase the inflow in order to replenish the “trust” aquifer, glacier, reservoir or bank account  by changing the govt’s policies* but he shouldn’t be calling us to trust the govt until we start seeing the results of the changes in our daily lives. S’poreans know fellow S’poreans talk cock a lot, and can be gd BS artists: as TRE found out recently, “Since the official launch of TR Emeritus’ VIP Membership System (VMS) last month, the number of sign-ups has not been good. Only dozens have signed up. … We have estimated that TRE needs 400 to 500 active members per year to sustain TRE in the long run. Our membership costs a mere S$10.00 per month.”

Tony Blair before he became UK’s PM in 19997, said in 1994, he said: “Parties that do not change, die, and this party is a living movement not an historical monument. If the world changes and we don’t then we become of no use to the world. Our principles cease being principles and ossify into dogma.” In the S’pore context, substitute “dogma” for “Hard Truths”.

The PAP is changing but it’s a work-in-progress. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt in public tpt, healthcare, housing and education; but not when it comes to its FT policy. As Uncle Leong explained recently, the signs have yet to appear that the govt is walking its talk of closing the floodgates. And there is its white paper on 6.9m by 2030.

*As the former chief economist of GIC put it on Facebook: But what is equally crucial to this trust is the Governments ability to reform current policy and out-moded mindsets and deliver truly affordable and efficient healthcare, public housing, public transport, equitable and high quality education adequate and humane social security and safety nets, and a sensible population policy that does not result in overcrowding and social tensions.

The PM and cabinet has made a bold and substantial move in this direction in housing and healthcare reforms in the months up to National Day. Kudos to this commendable act of leadership.

However, markedly more can and must be done in these and the other key social policy areas above to complete reforms for the common good and fully prevent a loss in policy trust – something we cannot afford in Singapore.

I would put as the govt finally spending our money to make life more comfortable for us.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/analysing-pms-coming-rally-speech/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-pap-govt-has-lost-output-legitimacy-discuss/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/shld-the-govt-get-the-credit-for-fixing-the-problems-that-hard-truths-caused-discuss/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/pms-speech-not-juz-a-change-of-format/

 

PM’s statement that’s so very wrong

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 02/10/2013 at 6:45 am

PM’s comments, “there are countries like China, Vietnam and India which are hungry and anxious to steal the lunch from us”, is pure inflammatory rubbish worthy of Gilbert Goh. They are not trying to steal from us. They are trying to improve themselves, by working harder (and perhaps smarter) than us. PM should leave anti-foreigner comments to Gilbert Goh and friends. Even TRE, TOC not into this kind of rubbish. The PM shouldn’t. But maybe he wants to talk on 5 October at GG’s “regime change” day.

Three other things wrong about his comment:

– Why is he comparing S’pore to these countries esp Vietnam? Tot, PM and his govt say we first world country like Switzerland, or global city like NY or London? I mean even manufacturers from China are moving to Vietnam because labour is cheaper there? What next compare us with Bangladesh or Burma?

– Productivity is more impt than working hard

And it seems that more productive—and, consequently, better-paid—workers put in less time in at the office. The graph below shows the relationship between productivity (GDP per hour worked) and annual working hours:

The Greeks are some of the most hardworking in the OECD, putting in over 2,000 hours a year on average. Germans, on the other hand, are comparative slackers, working about 1,400 hours each year. But German productivity is about 70% higher.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/working-hours

It’s all about working smart, like the decadent Japs that LKY mocks but who outperform the ang mohs. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/honest-conversation-on-fts-lets-have-it-not-juz-pretend-that-weve-having-it-iswaran/

– “Insatiability, and the 15-hour week — Lessons in life and work”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/09/insatiability-and-15-hour-week

The most stinging rebuke to PM’s line of reasoning comes close to the end of this longish, but intellectually entertaining piece.

BTW, if PM is genuine about wanting us to trust the govt, in addition to not imitating Gilbert Goh and friends, he should

– ensure that this kind of inflammatory rubbish doesn’t appear in our constructive, nation-building media

I am Singaporean, therefore I am entitled
While there is nothing wrong with policies that are based on a ‘Singaporean first’ principle, it can be taken too far. Abuse of this principle could lead to racism, xenophobia and aggressive nationalism. By Wu Zijian
It’s stuff like this that makes me thing GG has a point (which he doesn’t) about FTs being the problem. The problem is the PAP govt’s “FT Tua Kee” attitude.
– not juz talk the talk on limiting FTs coming in. Using, govt stats, Uncle Leong shows the flood is still rising, not receding. http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/09/27/new-citizenships-increased-by-31-in-2012/

Why rising inequality shows that things are working

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 24/09/2013 at 4:52 am

No, not the PAP or one of its running dogs talking; but the Economist (Err OK it is part PAPpy friendly ecosystem http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/sporeans-avoiding-low-paid-jobs-are-not-lazy-or-daft-juz-rational/, on economic and financial matters, though not when it comes to things like human rights, hanging, democracy, drugs, gays and media freedom.)

The regeneration of Manchester regeneration hasn’t benefited the whole population of the city equally. This is certainly true. The authors of the Manchester Independent Economic Review, published in 2009, found that in the first decade of the new millennium, while in absolute terms, every part of the city improved, inequality in the city had actually sharply increased. The richest bits of the city got richer at a much faster pace than the poorest bits.

I’m not sure that is a bad thing however. Even if we accept that growing inequality across the country is a bad thing, in this case, it strikes me as evidence of success. After all, as this Work Foundation report found, the most equal parts of Britain are towns such as Burnley and Sunderland. Those places are not more equal because the money is spread out more fairly. They’re more equal simply because everyone is poor. Manchester’s growing inequality, like London’s, is proof that it has managed to create well-paying jobs for at least a minority of its population.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2013/09/manchester

Surprised our constructive, nation-building media, and the Breakfast Network and Independent are not telling us that rising inequality shows things are working. Maybe the media are waiting for media guidance.

But unlike Manchester, S’pore doesn’t have Manchester’s culture life that students find attractive: Cultural life feeds off economic success. After all, Burnley and Sunderland are not known for their great independent record shops and nightclubs. And it doesn’t have too EPL teams. BTW, for MU fans, the explanation for the defeat is simple: Allah and the Pope had the better of Yahweh on Sunday.

On the clubbing scene attracting students, I knew a German gal who chose to study in Manchester because of the nightclubs. She hated the weather though when she got there. BTW, while she was a party animal, she did very well in the IB exams, a perfect score.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-pap-govt-has-lost-output-legitimacy-discuss/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/ingratitude-uniquely-sporean-blame-the-internet-not-really/

The PAP govt has lost “output legitimacy”: Discuss

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 23/09/2013 at 5:18 am

The ST has for several weeks been writing about the loss of trust between the people and the govt, and laying the blame on the people (“daft”) who are distracted by the new media’s DRUMS beating the RAVII theme ( OK I exaggerate but juz a little). (BTW, here in a different context, I’ve looked at the role the new media plays: amplification, not distortion of the dissenting, inconvenient voices to the PAP’s narrative which the local media propagandises, while suppressing the former.)

Actually, the loss of trust is due to the PAP govt’s loss of “output legitimacy” since the 1990s.

“Output legitimacy” is the idea that elected leaders make decisions that are unpopular in the short term but will be approved by voters once their success has been demonstrated.  A govt aiming for “output legitimacy” (most govts don’t, but the PAP is an exception) is a bold, self-confident govt because the govt and the politicians need to be proved right by events.  Sadly for S’poreans and the PAP, the record doesn’t look that great for one LHL. He had been DPM, and in charge of economic and financial issues, and the civil service, since the 1990s, until he became PM in 2004.

Yet events have showed that S’poreans are discontented, not happy with the achievements of his govt. The PAP only polled 60% (lowest ever) in the 2011 GE, and three cabinet ministers lost their seats, with the WP winning for the first time ever a GRC. In the subsequent PE, the PAP’s “preferred” candidate and a challenger (ex PAP man too) polled 35% each. The preferred candidate won by a very short nose.

This yr, the PM promised to meet our concerns (housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education) is like that: “Crashed the cars, trains and buses we were on – and then wants us to thank him for pulling us out of the wreckage using our own money, by voting for the PAP”.

– http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/analysing-pms-coming-rally-speech/

– http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/govt-needed-natcon-survey-to-find-these-things-out/

After all S’poreans concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education are the result of govt policies

His dad introduced the concept “output legitimacy” to S’pore (although not the term: too highfaluting perhaps?), partly because it suited LKY’s personality (intellectual thuggery, the belief that “leaders lead” and shouldn’t be governed by opinion polls, and micromanaging**), and partly because while S’pore was a leading Asian city in the 50s and 60s (as LKY and PAP haters like to remind us ad nauseum), that wasn’t saying much for most S’poreans: err bit like now, one could reasonably argue. Examples:

– When the PAP came into power in 1959, unemployment was over 10%; and

– in 1960, 126,000 man-hours were lost in strikes as compared to 26,000 in 1959.

Source: book reviewed here

There were then things that had to be done that would upset many people most of the time for a while. But if the policies worked, then the results would be visible. Well, at the very least, the voters were prepared to give LKY and the PAP, over 70% of the popular vote and all the parly seats for over a decade.

The world’s now a bit more complex since then, and S’poreans’ expectations have rightly risen, so whether it is ever possible that the PAP govt can ever recover “output legitimacy” is open to question even if it has the ‘right” people leading it. But at least it’s willing to spend more of our money on making life a more comfortable for ourselves. Maybe that should be its articulated goal, to frame our expectations of its “output legitimacy”.

Maybe the constructive, nation-building media, and new media outlets that believe in constructive criticism, like the Breakfast Network and the Independent*** can help the PAP govt? Better than flogging the dead horses of trust, daft people and that the internet beats DRUMS to the RAVII theme.

*Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults

**Remind me of the bible verses: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” or “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

***Independent sucks because it got its branding wrong. Name is so traditional media. In fact there is an established UK newspaper by that name.

Names with a whiff of the establishment seem old hat. Chris West, founder of Verbal Identity, specialists in linguistic branding, says that “they appear to be hankering after a debased culture of corporate magnificence”. Consumers think of them as pompous, self-serving, impersonal. The advantage of calling your business Wonga and GiffGaff lies in the rejection of superfluous formality. We perceive them as younger, more in-touch, less “corporate”. As Mr West concludes, “they sound like words we might hear at the pub”.

Then there is the quality of its writing. But that shows up the pedigree of two of its founders.

As for BN, it’s a work-in-progress, and it’s a gd training place for budding journalists: got ex-TOCer who has learnt to write proper, readable English. So I wish it well, even if I’ve heard allegations about its funding. And it has a great name. Spent a lot of cash getting its name right?

Shld the govt get the credit for fixing the problems that Hard Truths caused? Discuss

In Political governance on 20/09/2013 at 5:31 am

Recently George Osborne (UK’s finance minister) was trumpeting the UK’s economy ecovery, saying it was because of govt measures.

David Blanchflower – a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee – and a long-time critic of the chancellor told the Mirror that Mr Osborne is “the guy who crashed your car – and then wants you to thank him for having the wreck towed home”.

One could similarly reasonably argue that PM’s promise to meet our concerns (housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education) is like that: “Crashed the cars, trains and buses we were on – and then wants us to thank him for pulling us out of the wreckage using our own money, by voting for the PAP”.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/analysing-pms-coming-rally-speech/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/govt-needed-natcon-survey-to-find-these-things-out/

After all S’poreans concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education are the result of govt policies

As one person on TRE put it: 

The damages are all too embedded and beyond corrections.
How to bring down prices of COEs and Housing drastically.
How to eject the huge influx of FT arrivals over the years.

Unimaginable consequences are set in motion to erupt like
a volcano in the day of reckoning.
What if….in the event of a meltdown, severe drought, heavy
flooding and etc..etc – total Chaos

If the policies and road maps are not substaintable, we simply
self-destruct should catastrophes strike. Don’t think so ??

Of course, I’m being unfair. After all ang mohs tell us the gd side of the S’pore way, PAP style

– overall: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeremy-warner/10293503/Singapore-safe-haven-model-society.html.

– healthcare: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/09/05/prof-tyler-cowen-on-spores-healthcare-system/

And even I have said that many of the shortcomings that we face are problems that arise from the success of the past that many have contributed too, including the PAP. No not linking as I doubt many would click it: it’s against the netizens’ conventional narrative that the “PAP got everything wrong”.

The govt has to bear its share of the problems, not juz bask in ang moh’s praise of LKY (which in this case, I largely concur with) http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/09/singapore-s-elder-statesman. Where I disagree is that LKY is pragmatic: he once was, but since the 1990s, he has been fixated with his Hatd Truths, which he believes are eternal truths. They are not, and the younger LKY would have recognised that instead of being fixated with them.

Have a gd weekend.

NS and the welfare state: two sides of the same coin in the first world,

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/09/2013 at 4:55 am

including Switzerland and Israel

S’poreans are rightly asking why they should do NS to defend two-timers like new citizen Raj who openly boasted on how his son will avoid NS, while still getting his PR status. (Related post on two-timer Raj)

In return, the govt has been moaning that S’poreans no longer believe in the value of NS. It tries to make NS more “valuable” for us via gimmicks rather than hard cash (“Money talks, BS walks”) and addressing the the issue of defending someone like new citizen Raj and his family.

Apart from addressing the issue of defending people like new citizen Raj and his son, methinks the ministers and ESM should reach for a 6th September article in FT (behind a pay-wall). It is an opinion written by Mark Mazower, professor of history at Columbia University and author of ‘Governing the World”. It is entitled, “The west needs a replacement for the warrior spirit”.

Cutting to the chase, I quote the following:

The late Charles Tilly demonstrated in a series of brilliant sociological studies the extent to which warfare and welfare have historically been tightly connected. Rulers who wanted citizens to fight learnt the hard way that they had to give them something more concrete and appealing to fight for than the privilege of dying in their name. That is why the advent of mass conscript armies, unified around allegiance to the nation, coincided with the dramatic 20th-century transformation in the nature of the state and the swift post-1945 expansion of social rights in the shape of public housing, healthcare and schooling.

During the two world wars, military service resulted in the percentage of the population in uniform in the UK and the US approaching an extraordinary 10 per cent. This kind of warfare accustomed entire societies to new egalitarian norms and demonstrated the indispensability of the state itself as mediator in industrial relations, and as economic strategist and planner. The lessons were learnt and applied after the war as well, underpinning much of the west’s managed capitalism in the years of the post-1945 economic boom.

Get it PAP govt? NS and the welfare state go together. Israel and Switzerland, countries still with NS, have gd welfare systems, BTW.

Maybe, since the PAP doesn’t want a welfare state, scrape NS? Has the additional benefit to the PAP of getting rid of the issue of us defending new citizen Raj and his family. We might be willing to be more amenable to more two-timing new citizens, like Raj.

Get it PAP govt?

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/where-ns-leads-to-successful-high-tech-start-ups/


Performance-related pay: Not applicable to CEOs and minsters

In Corporate governance, Political governance, Public Administration on 11/09/2013 at 5:32 am

The financial industry especially investment banking and broking gets a bad name because of the outlandish bonuses for the rainmakers or the swinging big dicks i.e. top traders and salesmen. But it’s abt income generated whether thru fees, commissions or trading profits. Example: 46%  of the department of Merrill Lynch’s Global Wealth & Investment Managment revenue comes from only 21% of its top-producing brokers, about 2,500 people. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/09/us-merrill-brokers-elite-idUSBRE84817N20120509

Of course there is moral hazard: losses are borne out to shareholders and taxpayers. And sure there are issues of cost and risk allocations especially the cost of capital used but there is a link between productivity (measured here by revenue) and pay.

BUT

There is no correlation between FTSE 100 bosses’ pay and the performance of the companies they run, a BBC report reveals.

And

C.E.O. Pay Keeps Climbing Shareholders have sounded alarms over executive pay and achieved victories at companies like Citigroup and Hewlett-Packard. But despite the noise, the median pay of the nation’s 200 top-paid C.E.O.’s was $14.5 million last year, an increase of 5 percent from the year earlier, according to a study conducted for The New York Times by the compensation data firm Equilar.

“One might reasonably conclude that the senior management of a bank cannot possibly know what is going on at the level of the individual traders; banks are just too complex. Fair enough. But one cannot have it both ways. If bank executives cannot be held responsible for all the shenanigans that go on underneath them, nor can they be responsible for all the profits that result. A lot goes on at a bank that is entirely out of the CEO’s control. So when Barclays makes a bumper profit, why should the CEO get an outsized bonus? The profits may be down to luck, or to rising markets, or to trades that the CEO cannot possibly be aware of.”

So the fallacy of paying ministers, CEO-like salaries is based on the wrong premise. CEOs’ pay are not performance-related.

Then, there is another problem with performance-related pay for ministers. This time the issue of collegiality. Everyone is more or less paid the same to promote team-work and shared responsibility. Remember collective cabinet responsibility is a political convention.

Tharman, Teo, Ng, Khaw, Shan, Kee Chui and now VB* (notice that the Indians are punching above their weight** despite only constituting 7% of the population) have to carry the likes of Yaacob, Lui, Tan, Fu, and Hng Kiang. In the cabinet, the salary differentials are very narrow according to PM, so the gd performers don’t get that much more. But thank god for small mercies. We once had to pay for SM Goh, Raymond Lim, DPM Wong, George Yeo, VB (not cut out for “compassion” jobs but gd at “rational” tasks?) and Mah, in addition to the present bunch of non-performing cabinet ministers who were then in cabinet. And wider still what abt the Speaker, and jnr ministers and parly secs?

Finally there is the point raised by this TRE reader? Can ministers who are ex-generals earn that much in the private sector http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/refute-this-question-pap/

*”Haze? What haze?” since he shouted “Rape!” at the Indons. I mean PM said haze was returning: he was wrong; as usual. I mean the haze season is ending. Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/. And he doing something about the flooding at Orchard Rd and now an expressway: listening to the engineers who have advocated spending money on flood prevention projects. Yaacob stuck his head under sand under the water, like what he and his sis did when LKY uttered his Hard Truth about the Malays, muttering something about “worse case scenario”. His sis was there when LKY made the remarks. It was left to PM to sort dad out. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/state-of-the-pap-my-light-hearted-analysis-based-on-gossip-heard/

**Judged by relative results

To lose one Hard Truth may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose three in two months looks like carelessness

In Political governance on 09/09/2013 at 4:50 am

(“Mah & Yaacob disprove PAP’s Hard Truth on ministerial salaries”)

The implicit disowning of the Malay minister’s claims when he was Water minister that once-in-50-yrs floods were causing problems, not his ministry’s disfunctionality, has been implicitly disowned by the govt when the present Water minister said an expressway flood is unacceptable. Yaacob, talked of several floods that occurred several months apart as very exceptional events that could not be reasonably foreseen. VivianB’s comments imply that very heavy rain should be foreseen and planned for.

This reminded of another recent occasion when another Hard Truth was disowned.

On  26 August 2013, new rules were imposed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The one that caught the headlines and public attention was that households with permanent residency, or PR, status can only buy previously owned state-built homes if they have held PR status for at least three years. Permanent residents, who made up 10% of Singapore’s population of 5.3 million people in 2012, could previously buy a HDB flat from the resale market immediately after getting PR status.

But what S’poreans seemed to ignore was the rule change that would also offer public-housing loans with a reduced maximum tenure of 25 years, down from 30 years. Public-housing mortgage payments would be capped at 30% of borrowers’ gross monthly income, down from 35%. Prudent leh, we are told.

In 2011, one Mah Bow Tan argued that HDB flats were afforable because : It only took 30 years, 2 incomes and 30% of the 2 incomes to pay for the HDB flat.

As one blogger said qat the time: How many of you agree that this affordable formula is fair? This formula means that for the first 30 years of one’s working life, there could be very little saving for retirement. Most could only start to save after repaying their 30 year loan. So don’t ask why you don’t have enough savings for retirement. The other point which this formula dictates is that both husband and wife must be working to be able to afford the HDB flat. One income, forget it. And there are families that have to live on one income, by choice or by circumstances beyond their control, or by tragedies.

He went on: The people must denounce this formula as unaffordable. 30% of one income for 30 years is already too much. It was 20% of one income for 20 years for a 5 rm flat for a fresh graduate. But the goal posts have been shifted during the last decade that people have come to accept 2 incomes and 30 years as the norm. It is not, and it should not be the case.

Well the PAP govt has now dropped the 30-yr part of the formula. And by implication, condemned the man who said it. The PAP should also be asking itself, “Was it worth it to change to a GRC system, so that this clown chap could be made a minister? Maybe better if we never had him as a minister? Why did we let him remain a minister for so many yrs?”.

What next PAP? Ditch his point that selling HDB flats at cheapish prices was tantamount to raiding the reserves?

And while I’m at it, how come our ex-ministers can’t earn this kind of serious money? Players on the int’l stage in business deal-making

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/10/us-glencore-blair-idUSBRE88915920120910

Instead they

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/sph-another-home-for-ex-ministers/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/retired-ministers-no-megabucks-from-private-sector/

Ingratitude, uniquely S’porean? Blame the internet? Not really

In India, Internet, Political governance on 06/09/2013 at 5:15 am

The irony is the opposition made gains where there is almost full employment, the country peaceful and prosperous.

(http://www.pressrun.net/weblog/2013/08/singapore-prime-ministers-and-election-results.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rana+%28pressrun.net%29 I commend this blogger who usually has interesting, unpredectible perspectives. Not one of the usual suspects, whose rants can be surmised even without reading their articles: juz scan the titles.)

The govt in Norway is expected to lose an election on 9th September, even though eonomic growth was at 2.6% year-on-year in the second quarter and unemployment at just 3.4%, while the current-account surplus is huge: nearly 14% of GDP.

One could argue that because things are so gd, people are willing to take risks, experiment.

When times are bad, if the ones suffering badly are a smallish minority, and the majority, while unhappy, are fearful of what can happen, the majority of voters will opt for “Better the devil we know” We saw that in 2001 when an election was called after 9/11. If Islamic terrorists could successfully attack Metropolis, which place was safe? And if there was a resulting global recession, who better than the PAP to handle it for S’pore? Certainly better than JBJ’s lot, even though the WP had juz kicked JBJ out as leader.

But the classic example was UK during the early yrs of Thatcher’s tenure. Despite massive unemployment she won a second term (helped by winning a war). The unemployed voted against her, but those with jobs trusted her govt more than they did the opposition Labour party, which was seen as incompetent economically (strikes, IMF loan when it was governing).

Connected with the issue of experimentation when times are gd, is that people get tired of the same govt. The present Norwegian govt has been in power since 2005. As the PAP has been in power since 1959 (UMNO and allies in M’sia since 1957), it’s a testament to their tenacity and public goodwill that the PAP and UMNO are still in power. Even the LDP in Japan has lost power for two spells before regaining it.

The author of the above quote puts the unpopularity of the S’pore govt to the internet:

The internet seems to have been a game-changer. In the first post-Twitter general election, in 2011, the People’s Action Party (PAP) won only 60.1 per cent of the vote, its lowest share since independence, while the opposition secured six seats, more than ever before. (Twitter was launched only in 2006.)

He has a point because the internet

… proved a real pest,
Critics online all the time,
How do you make ‘em toe the line?

But let’s not forget. In the last GE 60% voted for the PAP. Taz a gd majority by any standard except that of the PAP itself and S’poreans. Remember, we used to give it 70-over % of the popular vote, and all the seats in parliament in the 70s.

True the PAP’s “preferred” candidate won the PE by a very short nose. But the man that nearly became president was someone that for many S’poreans (self included) exemplified what many S’poreans liked about the PAP Old Guard: principled, meritocratic, technocratic, smart (academically and street-wise), no wayang, no pretensions and compassionate: not sneering, complacent, privileged, incompetent and self-serving snob. Even the PAP’s preferred candidate belonged to the Old Guard, even if he had a privileged background: in fact many of the Old Guard had privileged backgrounds, they juz didn’t behave like a certain sneerer. Tony Tan juz didn’t get my vote because he was the “preferred” candidate. But if it had been between him, TJS and TKL (ex-PAP too), I’d voted for Tony Tan.

The next candidate, TJS, had only 25% of the vote. This is in line with the hard core opposition vote that emerges in any constituency an opposition candidate appears, even a looney one.

What the internet has allowed, is to give amplification to the voices of the hard core opposition supporters. They were never silent but the exclusion of their voices from the constructive, nation-building local media meant that they could only communicate in a less than effective way most of the time to other die-hards and ordinary S’poreans.

Ordinary S’poreans now realise that these voices are not demon voices because like the hard core opposition voters, they too have grievances, doubts etc. They now know, they are not alone.

The power of the internet and the govt’s concern that it is losing the commanding heights of public communications are best illustrated by P Ravi’s reposting on Facebook about the availability of the masks: that the public were not going to get it despite repeated govt assurances to the contrary, and the govt’s heavy-handed reaction. This reposting was enough to get him accused of spreading misinformation.

P Ravi’s defence when the govt accused him spreading misinformation about the distribution of masks, was that he sharing with his Facebook friends (1000 over if you must know), giving the govt feedback, and seeking clarification from the govt: rather contradictory assertions. Why the govt didn’t ridicule these contradictions is beyond me. Instead, Yaacob, a civil servant and the constructive, nation-building media beat the drums to the tune of RAVII*, making him a hero and martyr to the hostiles on the internet and, in particular on social media. My posts on this

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/p-ravis-reposting-what-the-govt-should-have-done/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/reason-why-govt-fears-keyboard-warriors/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/is-the-pap-leopard-baring-his-fangs-and-unsheathing-his-claws/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/telling-gd-info-from-bad-the-secret-police-way/

So nope, the desire to experiment when things are gd, isn’t unique to S’pore. Nor is the internet the cause of the unpopularity. Even when the PAP had 70ish % of the popular vote, the balance voted for the opposition.

And 35% of the population like the values of the PAP Old Guard, they juz don’t like the way the PAP has developed in the 1990s and noughties. All this means that those who want change cannot afford to be complacent esp as there is going to be a party that’s going to be gd for the Party i.e. the PAP.

*Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults. Minister Shan talks of criticising ministers n the “right” way (E-Jay’s take). Well, what Yaacob and a civil servant did to Ravi, and what VivianB did to various people including the elderly poor doesn’t set gd examples for the public, do they?

S’poreans avoiding low-paid jobs are not lazy or daft, juz rational

In Economy, Political governance on 02/09/2013 at 4:47 am

SME employers are forever bitching moaning that they need FTs because S’poreans (esp the young) don’t want to do the jobs on offer, be it factory work or restaurant work. The govt, too, is forever complaining that FTs are needed because there are jobs that S’poreans don’t want to do. The underlying message of govt and employers is “S’poreans are lazy”, echoing and amplifying one LKY’s Hard Truth that S’poreans need to be spurred on, by way of the import of FTs. BTW, strangely, they are silent on benefit of the wage repression that such imports bring them, and people like me.)

Well these employers are not “uniquely S’porean”. Farmers in the UK too complain that they need FTs according to this article

Farmers claim that they will then face a dramatic shortage of labour [when a FT scheme is ended].

Often migration is justified on the grounds that there are jobs young Britons are unwilling to do. They’re lazy and coddled the argument goes, workers from less wealthy countries tend to be keen to get the work. Yet at the same time as around 22,000 Bulgarians and Romanians came to Britain through the SAWS, over 46,000 Britons traveled to Australia last year as part of the Working Holiday Makers program. There, they often get low paid jobs, as farm hands, cleaners or in the catering industry.

The Economist (remember it likes our healthcare, CBD and COEs, and believes in low taxes, GST and liberal immigration policies) goes on to explain this paradox of British youth preferring to take menial, low paying jobs in Oz but not at home, while British farmers have to rely on immigrant labour:

Migrants—whether Romanian or British—usually intend to stay for just a few years before returning back to their country of origin. This means that they’re much more willing to live in cramped conditions, cut their costs and take on low paid temporary work. But Britons who are willing to work as field hands in Australia probably would not consider do so in Britain: they would hold out for a more permanent and better paid job. This is not necessarily evidence of laziness but prudence. It is just that it is much harder to buy a house or raise a family on the wages of a field hand than it is to backpack across Australia.

Likewise, S’poreans want better paying jobs because this is home, and a pretty expensive place to boot. A recent Yahoo article had this quote: I just think there must be something really wrong if the government keeps having to subsidise people like us who are considered middle-income wage earners. There’s a real income inequality problem here and they need to address it.” – Marketing executive Adrian Matthew, 26. Taz a middle income wage earner talking. Imagine what would a S’porean manual worker or waiter say?

True, we don’t have welfare benefits for the unemployed but young S’poreans have their parents. This being S’pore, the son or daughter is likely to be the only child, or one of two, and S’porean parents are likely to understand their children’s situation. And there is a generation that can still afford to indulge their children because they have jobs and have paid off their HDB loans, and are sitting pretty. Taz the welfare net for these young S’poreans.

The piece ends with shumething our PM and his cabinet should be thinking about (I slightly edited the passage to make it fit our situation):

There’s little point in complaining about laziness, those who won’t take these jobs are often making rational decisions. We don’t really want an army of underpaid Brits S’poreans working uncomfortable hours in jobs which pay nothing. It would be better to wonder why they cannot find better ones—and what the government can do to help them to.

The PM should remember that as the Economist agrees with many of the things he is doing such as:

– bring on the FTs;

– GST;

– COEs;

– CDB;

– high petrol prices;

– low taxes;

– no minimum wages; and

– meritocracy,

so he should listen to it when it talks of the need to try  to find better ways of helping the lower-paid workers. After all in S’pore, as I pointed out here, real wage median growth is dependent on govt fiat (raising employers’ CPF contribution.

What better goodie to celebrate 50 yrs of independence?

Even the PAP govt gets a goodie: a continuation of the de-facto one-party state if the govt can find a way to make sure S’poreans have stable, gd paying jobs. And no more subsidising of HDB flats for middle income S’poreans. No more raiding of the reserves as one Mah Bow Tan almost put it. More for Temasek to put on “Red”?

Gilbert Goh & friends are losing the plot

In Political governance on 30/08/2013 at 5:24 am

Something is wrong when someone who claims to have attended the two previous protests posts this constructive criticism on TRE:

2cents:

One has to honestly asked why there has been no climb down or indication of a pause or hint of a rethink. Were the protests effective? Has LKY already given the answer i.e. “wait a few years to see how things turn out”? Meantime, keep the issue out of sight while create a diversion with housing, education & health. Your guess?

Anyway, having attended the first 2 protests, I have 2 suggestions;

- The 4k attendance and subsequent lower turnout compared to the +10k one organized by the Pink movement is cause for thought. Can Transitioning learn something fr the latter’s organizers? Or why not get the Pink people to “mutually support” each other?

- One can almost guess who the speakers at the next protest will be. If so, it suggests to the authorities that the base and appeal of the protest is rather limited and not broad-based. New and more speakers must be sourced, encouraged to step forward to present views, arguments different but still in support of the protest goals than from the same tired faces. There are so many bloggers, commentators, contributors to alternative media sites who cam argue no less if not even more eloquently than what we have heard. Why not throw out an open invitation to ask for speakers to come forward, submit a brief of what he/she would like to speak on? Then form a committee to vet, evaluate and decide on an agenda?

For what it’s worth, Mr Leong SH shd don’t to have air time and also assist with the planning. Perhaps, Nicole Seah shd be persuaded to speak fr her perspective as a younger Singaporean amongst us who will be feeling and living through the impact of a 6.9mil overcrowded red dot for many years to come.

I personally have three grumbles with the latest call. Firstly, the rhetoric behind the call seems to indicate that GG and the other organisers have been watching too much tv footage of the protests in Cairo and Istanbul. They are calling for regime change what with

We will want to rally the people once gain to rise up and stand up for their rights in this third white paper protest!

This is our country and we want what’s best for us and our children – not to have a foreigner-induced 6.9 million population target shoved down our throat. We want a Singapore for Singaporeans! We want change!

One can hear the sound of trumpets, and the beating drums along with firing of tear gas canisters in these words

Next, they said, There is also an increase in molest cases on our jam-packed MRT trains and Singaporeans suffer the nightmare of having to ride in it twice daily.

Steady on. I and many others are concerned about the “projected” 6.9m by 2030, and are concerned about the FT influx. But I (and I’m sure many others) don’t want to be associated with people who make such a anti-foreigner statement. Granted,the causal link is not direct, but reading the sentence in tts context it is clear that the organisers are giving the message that foreigners cause overcrowding, and overcrowding causes increases in molestation cases etc, etc.. The rhetoric and twisted logic is worrying, given GG’s personal comments (for which he has apologised) on FTs.

Finally, the organisers are clearly coming across as anti-govt, not “anti” a govt policy. The first “protest” “worked” because it was seen as protesting something that even PAP supporters had reservations about. The second protest was seen as anti-white paper with a few other grievances thrown in. Then came the Nat Day event which came across less as an alternative celebration than a anti-govt “party”. Now we have a call for regime change.

Meanwhile the govt is “listening” and “acting”, even though it hasn’t withdrawn the White Paper. Whether its actions are juz wayang, has yet to be seen: I’m sceptical. But I for one am inclined to watch and wait, not demand regime change.

BTW, lest I be accused of being anti GG http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/gilbert-goh-shows-up-meritocracy-spore-style/

Great party, gd for the Party?

In Humour, Political governance on 28/08/2013 at 5:00 am

“We should mark the occasion properly, 50 years is a significant milestone … I don’t think we should just have a fireworks display and a party, I think that would not be at the right level,” said PM recently.

A friend (not a PAPpy, though a fat cat in more ways than one (a car-owning, pauncy lawyer working in an investment bank and a landlord to boot) wrote on FB: “I am ENORMOUSLY EXCITED about #sg50 and if you like me are a child of #Singapore, I hope you are too!”

My reply: Don’t you think that a dominant underlying (but subtle) theme would be that “He who cannot be named” isn’t so bad after all? You can’t do indi celebrations about S’pore without [mentioning] HIM  can you? It will be interesting to see if the Barisan Socialists get credit for arguing before the referendum that S’pore could be independent on its own. I doubt it, a certain fat cat is more likely to lose weight first. ))) BTW, party followed by GE?

Of course the PM doesn’t juz want have “a fireworks display and a party”. He will want to use the occasion to rebrand and detoxify the PAP so that S’pore can remain a de-facto one party state. As he is a smart man, though not a creatively smart man, he will

– continue giving out more goodies using our money (watch out for that special bonus of peanuts); and

– remind the people of the role that his dad and the PAP played in getting us to the 50-year mark in pretty gd shape. Let’s face it, there are serious problems here, but as the FT recently wrote, they are the problems associated with success*.

And as a filial son** and leader of the PAP , he would want to rehabilitate the battering that his dad’s image has been getting. Nothing better than to remind S’poreans of the role LKY played in helping get us to first world status.

(Aside, The funny but sad thing is that the books that dad has been writing with the help of a team from the nation-building ST, have contributed a lot to the negative image that his dad seems to have among younger S’poreans. Maybe the ST journalists are covert subversives, guiding him to self-harm his image? Remember that LKY’s acolyte, Wong Kan Seng, once decried, and I agreed with him, some ST journalists as anti-Christians? Maybe, they anti LKY and anti-PAP?)

For my part, I look forward to the goodies (nice to know I’m get back something for the taxes I used to pay, and the GST I kanna still pay) but I will occasionally remind myself and readers that:

– it’s our money the govt is spending to make us happier and more comfortable;

– the end-game of the party, commemoration is continued dominance of the People’s Action Party (not too bad if it keeps PritamS from a cabinet post);

– the PAP’s narrative that the mainstream media will be bleating on loudly about, is not the only narrative: there are others equally worthy to celebrate or least listen listen to;

– LKY was the leader of a gd team, not the action man (stronger than Putin), superhero (a combi of Superman and Captain America), sage (great than Confucious) that he is likely to be made out to be by the local media.

And oh yes, I will remind self and readers, to now and then, ask the PM, “Will GST be raised after the next GE?” And listen carefully to the reply. I’m sure, he won’t say, “No rise” or “Yes, sure to go up” but the ambiguity of the answer is impt in deciding whether to drink his Kool-Aid.

Enjoy the party, congratulate ourselves and the PAP; but remember to throw some sand into the machinery PAP’s propaganda machine. Treat the sand throwing as part of the party’s fun and games.

*And those who keep on ranting that S’pore was the second biggest port in Asia, implying by that comment, that life was gd at the time, should read the book, I reviewed here, containing reports written for a London magazine between 1958 and 1962, or at least click my review. S’pore had a large budget deficit, there was high unemployment, no-one wanted to buy S’pore govt bonds despite the gd yield, workers were striking because the just elected PAP govt was pro-union, and one Toh Chin Chye said, “[W]e disagree that that the survival of Singapore depend on foreign capital, and capitalists …”

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

**I’m sure the rumours that he told his dad to sit down and shut up after his dad’s “repent” comments during the 2011 GE campaign, must upset the PM: Asians don’t do such things. And correcting dad about his Hard Truth on Malay Muslims, when the Malay minister, and the minister’s sister (present when LKY made the remarks) kept quiet, must have hurt PM. They should have have done the right thing and corrected LKY. So rehabilitating dad’s image is gd politically and for PM personally.

Govt needed NatCon + survey to find these things out?

In Political governance on 23/08/2013 at 4:45 am

The door-to-door survey of 4,000 Singaporeans was conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) between November last year and February. It was carried out to validate the issues brought up in the 660 OSC sessions held over the past year …

[OSC committee Chairman and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat] noted that overall, the participants at the OSC sessions wanted the assurance that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable.

Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) project comes up with these findings?

What a waste of time, effort and our money so that the govt learns that the people are concerned that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable. And that there are concerns about education. If I wanted to be nasty, I would say that SingCon or NatCon shows out of touch the govt is with the rabble masses. But I won’t, but am surprised the usual suspects that love playing the DRUMS didn’t raise this point. They don’t do original insights, is it?

Juz reading the opinions, analysis and comments on the internet and social media would have told the govt the people’s Hard Truths. OK, as the internet and social media are Injun or Taliban or juz plain hostile territory for the PAP, the govt may be forgiven for doubting that new media is reflecting the facts on the ground.

But then, if the grassroot leaders, PAP MPs and the local media had given no-DRUMS feedback to the govt, the govt would have realised that the Injuns did not speak with forked tongues. Instead the govt only found out the truth after talking with selected S’poreans, and conducting a survey to verify what it was told.

It could have saved time, effort and money if it had listened to netizens, and done a survey to verify whether netizens were reflecting reality, or talking cock like the PAP grassroot leqadersand MPs, and the constructive, nation-building media.

And would was a survey necessary to verify what netizens are bitching and bleating about reflected the reality of feelings on the ground, other than to to give the people at a govt related think-tank shumething to do? What about using the ISD?

In M’sia, the Special Branch (The ISD and the Special Branch trace their origins to the Malayan Special Branch) is so gd that a senior DAP official said in a seminar after the 2008 M’sian elections that the officers info on where the DAP would win was very accurate. They were comparing notes before the 2008 election.

My serious point is that the PAP govt has to find out out new methods of reading the tracks on the ground. The old methods no longer work. They should be ditched or modified. This needs to be done both for the good of the PAP and for ordinary S’poreans. The PAP can no longer rely on the so-called grassroot leaders, the local media and MPs. They too are playing the DRUMS that the govt accuses netizens of doing.

One way is to find a way to verify whether the new media is reflecting (for free) the facts on the ground.Maybe because the info is free, is one reason why the govt ignores it? Remember the PAP MP whose words implied that he looked down on others who earned less than serious money?

But the govt should also have to find ways of finding out and double confirming what the middle-class netizens are ignoring, out of ignorance, complacency, arrogance or maliciousness. They too can play the DRUMS as well as the mainstream media, govt and the PAP. Yes, almost everyone in S’pore plays the DRUMS: one man’s Hard Truths are the DRUMS of lesser mortals, and vice-versa.

But let’s not be too hard on the govt for not making the best use of the resources available, or of wasting time, effort and money to find out what S’poreans think. Wayang is now very impt in politics because nowadays  S’poreans, like other people, think better of politicans who “listen” to their opinions, or “feel” their pain. Or least pretend to.

Taz a new Hard Truth. Paternalism is out. As is “Sit down and shut up. We know what is best for you.”

If Animal Farm was written today, Napoleon and the pigs would have to have a “conversation” with the  other animals, and a survey to validate the said conversation, before going ahead and oppressing them.

—-

*PM and the PAP had serious problems in the 2011GE and the recent by-election with the quality of info they were receiving from the grassroot leaders on voter sentiment. After the 2011 GE, he had to defend the said leaders after PAP MPs criticised them.

Shouldn’t telling Dinesh’s family more be part of the PM’s narrative of a caring PAP govt?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 21/08/2013 at 4:51 am

(Or “How not to rebuild trust the PAP way”)

“Iswaran says the police already spent 28 months and interviewed 130 on the case (compared to 13 months and over 60 witnesses for Shane Todd).” http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2013/08/one-death-that-will-not-go-away.html

I personally am not interested in what had happened to Dinesh Raman. While what happened was wrong, and a tragedy for his family, it is a rare incident. A prison officer had pleaded guilty and been fined, and the govt has admitted its liability to compensate the family, and has promised to further improve the system, after making changes. Taz gd enough for me.

But his family deserves to know the gory details if taz what they think they need to find closure and move on. As a goodwill gesture, the govt should tell them more*, even if this information goes beyond what the strict letter of the law requires it to do.

The prison officer responsible will surely face disciplinary proceedings. As another gesture of goodwill, the govt should also allow the family to witness these proceedings.

Giving the family more details of what happened, and allowing them to witness the disciplinary proceedings should take the wind out of the sails of the usual kay pohs call for transparency and accountability. They have their own agendas, using the tragedy and the family’s moral right to know what happened, for their own ends: ends that may be commendable in themselves, or may not.

Oh and the govt should apologise for what happened. After all it has admitted liability.

Sadly, the govt does not do gd PR, even after PM’s speech. Pigs will fly first. Or “Populism rules OK” will be PAP’s mantra. Or LKY will “stand corrected” on more Hard Truths; or juz “repent”.

The big idea behind the rally speech seems to be an attempt by the PAP govt to rebuild the trust it once unquestioning had among large sections of the public. Not giving the family more information doesn’t help rebuild that trust in two ways..

As a TRE reader puts it: The PM and his cabinet is behind Vivian Balakrishnan to know the truth only in the hawker centre cleaning issue. This affects the whole of Singapore as the integrity issue is of utmost concern. If this is not cleared up by WP then Singapore’s standing on the world stage is affected. Other trivial matters like death of a human being while is custody is not important …

And sadly, it will remind S’poreans*** that if Dinesh had been a FT from the hegemon, many things would have been different for him and his family. Actually, taz not quite correct. Remember the ang moh caws who beat up two S’poreans at Suntec a few yrs back? One was given PR status and he and another were “allowed” to skip bail. One still remains at large. They were not US citizens. And DPM Teo has yet to tell us the results of the disciplinary proceedings against the police investigator who handled the case.

PM’s rally speech was pretty decent. He at least held the hand of responsible populism in public, even though he didn’t take up my suggestion of embracing her publicly. But he may have taken my suggestion of fondling her behind the stage.

But the handling of Dinesh’s case shows that more needs to be done to reconnect the PAP with the people so that the old slogan of “The PAP and the people are one” becomes a half Hard Truth again.

As the old adage goes, “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.” . This was said in the Dark Ages. It’s more so in the age of the internet and new media where, “A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.” Actually this too was said in the Dark Ages, but is so apt for today.

Finally, shumething forb family to think about. Maybe, just maybe, the family should ask their MP, if they live in a PAP area, for help in finding out more. Having a superhero action man lawyer may make them feel gd, but is it effective in getting more info on how Dinesh died?

*Some of the things that need explaining to the family http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/08/18/letter-on-death-of-prison-inmate-dinesh-not-published-by-st/

**This is how someone apologised for a police shooting of 34 miners. Ben Magara was only recently appointed as chief executive of Lonmin, the London-listed company which had employed the striking miners. But he had the courage to turn up [at the first anniversay commeoration of the shootings] and tell the thousands who had assembled at the site of the shooting: “We will never replace your loved ones and I say we are truly sorry for that.”

***And allow the usual suspects to play the DRUMS to the tune of RAVI (Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications & Insinuations (or is it Insults?).

NOL underperforms Maersk again, as predicted

In Political governance, Public Administration, S'pore Inc, Shipping on 19/08/2013 at 9:17 am

(Or “Food for tot for PM as scholar, ex-SAF chief, & ex-Temasek MD again under-performs a shipping man?”)

Skip right to the end if you want to read the political and financial implications of this performance in relation to PM’s rally speech . No it’s not a rant against scholars.

According to DBS in early August, NOL reported a net loss of US$34.6m in 2Q13, and after adjusting for gains on sale of assets and realized gains on financial hedging instruments, results were largely in line with expectations of a US$64m net loss in 2Q13. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/shipping-marine/news/nol-suffered-us346m-losses-in-2q13#sthash.VZFIoR8g.dpuf. If truth be told, DBS, like other brokers got it dead wrong: NOL’s losses were 46% lower than expected. Only in stockbroking is such a discrepancy in line with expectations.

On 16th August, Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipper, reported a US$439m profit for the second quarter of the year, up from US$227m million a year earlier. Again this was unexpected by analysts, who tot it would only make half the amount. “Maersk Line has made strong and consistent progress and is now an industry leader in terms of profitability,” its CEO said.

It now expects earnings to be “significantly” more than last year’s US$461m rather than simply “above” them as it had stated before. NOL posted a half year net profit of US$41 million compared to a loss of US$371 million last year, and its CEO says  “The Group’s results demonstrate that we are on target in our strategy to deliver a better performance through cost management. We will continue in our efforts to strengthen the company’s competitiveness for the long term.”

Analysts say the volumes of goods being shipped around the world is continuing to rise following the recessions that affected many of the world’s big importers. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23722423

Global container shipping volumes(FT)

Note Maersk Line is run by a true blue shipping man*, while NOL is run by a scholar, and former defence chief, and ex-MD at Temasek. But Maersk is the largest container shipping co, while NOL is a distant 8th. It (and the Taiwanese) shippers decided in the late 1990s and early noughties not to fight Maesk for market share, instead focusing on profits. But profits were elusive for all because of overcapacity.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/why-nol-has-problems/

In yesterday’s rally speech, PM rightly warned that the increase in welfare and social spending has to be met by cuts in other bits of the Budget or by increased taxes. Defence is a Budget sacred cow, taking about 25% of the budget or 4ish% of S’pore’s GDP. Given NOL’s relative unperformance under the tenure of an-ex-defence chief, PM should direct Ng Eng Hen to look at the operational cost effectiveness of the SAF. Could S’pore more bang for a smaller buck?

*Another characteristic of any good CEO, is their ability to understand fully the often complex scope of their company’s operations.

It is a challenge which can be made easier by a manager gaining as much experience as possible while climbing the promotion ladder. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23681605

According to DBS, NOL reported a net loss of US$34.6m in 2Q13, and after adjusting for gains on sale of assets and realized gains on financial hedging instruments, results were largely in line with expectations of a US$64m net loss in 2Q13. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/shipping-marine/news/nol-suffered-us346m-losses-in-2q13#sthash.VZFIoR8g.dpuf

Analysing PM’s coming rally speech

In Political economy, Political governance on 16/08/2013 at 5:08 am

So PM is working hard on his National Day Rally speech, at least he said so about a week ago. (He shouldn’t be working hard, he should be working smart: hard work is no substitute for using one’s intellect, which PM has in spades, effectively. If working hard were all that mattered, the FTs toiling on our work sites would have it made.)

We have been told that he will focus on public concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education (I assume, affordability and the stress it causes pushy parents with average kids). He will most probably talk about jobs (including low or stagnating salaries, and how the govt is tackling these issues), as the concerns for good jobs has also been raised at these talk cock sing song Our S’pore Conversation sessions.

Interestingly in February 1958, this was written by an ang moh reporter: “But, governors may come and may go: but the problems of government are the same. The problems that remain in Singapore are housing, health services, education and expansion of industry.”*.

Well the PAP won the 1959 general elections and have governed S’pore since then, and the problems are the same.

By addressing the issue of affordability, will he implicitly be sending the message that he is be ditching dad’s Hard Truth that populism is bad**?

Not if Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, the minister in-charge of Our Singapore Conversation (OSC), is to believed. He told the media this week that OSC is not a knee-jerk, “populist” policy-making exercise. It is not a “major meet-the-people session”, with the govt collating a wish list and then giving the people what they want. He emphasised that OSC does not sacrifice any strategic thinking on the part of the govt for the sake of showing empathy with the people.

But, he would say this wouldn’t he? Let’s juz ignore the DRUMS and the noise, and focus on the effects. “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice,”, said one Deng Xiaoping.

Anyway, Simon Johnson, once the Chief Economist at the IMF, home of austerity’s the answer to almost any economic problem, and now the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, Populism and irresponsibility are not, in fact, synonyms. Populism can be sound, he argues. He argues that populism is often used in a pejorative way – as a putdown, implying “the people” want irresponsible things that would undermine the fabric of society or the smooth functioning of the economy.

So what if the people are to be “pampered”? If it is right thing to do by them, do it. According to Simon Johnston, the issue is whether  a ”populist” measure in question is a responsible one. If it is, then the label doesn’t matter, juz do it. (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/a-populist-measure-can-be-a-sound-measure-ex-imf-chief-economist/)

“It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice.”

Filial piety aside, he should openly embrace, or at least quietly hug in the dark, responsible populism, given the measures he has been taking like civil service pay rises, help for poor in renting flats etc etc. (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/minister-you-thinking-of-yr-govt/)

Next, hopefully (from the perspective of PAPpies, and those of us S’poreans who treasure stability, efficiency and rent-seeking over human rights and democracy), PM works smart on his “likeability”, not on his power point presentation. One of these days, I’ll blog on why he has a great personal story to tell. A preview: overbearing, overachieving father with high expectations who refuses to retire gracefully into old age. And there is more.

PM’s dad was respected and feared. But PM’s not his dad, and times have changed. Kind-heated intellectual thuggery, bullying and hectoring are no longer in fashion with voters. So being “likeable” is very impt.

An analogy with the Catholic Church (Dad used to claim that PAP cadre system was based on the way the cardinals elected the pope, while the pope chose the cardinals, though analysts have pointed out that the PAP’s cadre system more closely resembles the Leninst way organising a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The best example of this is the way Chinese leaders are elected to run the ruling party and the country.) shows why PM needs to be likeable if the PAP is dominate S’pore politics and life for another 50 years.

So far people have generally taken at face value the image of Francis as a “barefoot pope” who is personally modest, feels compassion for the disadvantaged and is endowed with a basic human warmth that his predecessor seemed at times to lack. He is simply likeable, and that ensures that he commands some respectful attention (even from those who disagree with him) when he seems to be speaking from the heart.

In the leader of a religious organisation whose core beliefs are not open to negotiations, style matters a lot. People can sense hypocrisy and pomposity, and they can also sense the opposite. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2013/07/pope-gays)

As he works smart (not hard) on his speech, he should remember the recent Cambodian elections where the opposition united against a strongman leader who brought prosperity to his country and who sued his opponents for damages and who keeps the media on a very tight leash. It has at least deprived the govt of its two-thirds majority (if not winning the election). (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/cambodian-elections-harbinger-of-sporean-ge/)

All to play for PM.

And keep up the good work of reforming the system. I may not always agree that he is doing the “right” things but I will concede that are trying hard, whatever his motives. But, like the Red Queen in “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There”, he is running to keep up with S’poreans rising expectations of change and a better life. To quote Tocqueville as I did here:

experience teaches us that, generally speaking, the most perilous moment for a bad government is one when it seeks to mend its ways….Patiently endured for so long as it seemed beyond redress, a grievance comes to appear intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds.*

And there is the problem of changing a party where there are people like Kate Spade, Charles Chong and VivianB (Don’t do compassion, and sneer at the poor), Lee Bee Wah (Doesn’t do meitocracy at STTA, and her dog used to run away. She now keeps her gates shut tight. My dogs lead such a gd life that one even refuses to leave the house for daily walks), Seng the MP with hearing problems, Ong Ye Kung and Lionel de Souza.

PM would have heard Dr Goh say, as I have, “Oppositions don’t win elections, govts lose elections.”

To sum up: What S’poreans need and want to hear from the PM is what the PAP govt stands for, what it believes, how the govt now would be different from the one before. And that needs to be set out with absolute clarity in a language that S’poreans can understand and empathise with.”

The problem is that PM has been part of the govt since the 1980s, and DPM, and economic, financial and civil service czar in the 1990s and early noughties, and PM since 2004,  making it difficult, if not impossible, for him to say move on from the past. He was a major creator of the problems that caused the disconnect between a substantial number of voters and the PAP govt, that he as PM now has to repair.

Even dad would find this impossible to do.

Churchill and FDR juz might have managed to do it, but our PM is no Churchill or FDR, let alone his dad.

*Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962)

(http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mai/new-book-singapore-correspondent/)
by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

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

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

**Coming a few days after dad launched his latest book on Hard Truths, it may look like he’s giving dad a very tight slap+. Tot that was job of co-driver? Trying to make WP redundant? Or Low and gang not doing enough, preferring to share out contracts and enjoying their salaries? And this reminds me of: Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s views expressed in his new book, One Man’s View of the World, are “obsolete,” said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The views represented the Mahathir generation, he added.

“We should not always look at the dichotomy between rights and race, black and white.

“For example, he (Lee) talks about race-based policies, but there is very little understanding of the discourse in the last decade,” he said.

Anwar said Lee was still “trapped in the old mindset,” when he used to be in the opposition during Malaya before Singapore was established.

“His thoughts are not so relevant now in the context of the present day. That is what prompted him to make sweeping statements to generalise the situation in Malaysia,” Anwar told reporters … [Star]

+Filial piety? What filial piety? At least PM learned the lesson from dad that eggs must be broken to make omelets: that the ends justifies the means.  LKY should be proud that his son has at least learned this.

NatCon: PM should have tried driving a cab

In Political governance on 12/08/2013 at 5:01 am

Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg spent an afternoon working incognito as a taxi driver in Oslo, he has revealed.

Mr Stoltenberg said he had wanted to hear from real Norwegian voters and that taxis were one of the few places where people shared their true views.

He wore sunglasses and an Oslo taxi driver’s uniform for the shift in June, only revealing his identity once he was recognised by his passengers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-2

BTW, the passengers were not charged. This being S’pore, PM has to charge. Otherwise people like P Ravi, Andrew Loh, and TOC and TRE posters sure to complain.

Gilbert Goh shows up meritocracy S’pore style

In Political governance, Public Administration on 11/08/2013 at 4:41 am

(Or “Meritocracy isn’t about opportunity or equality or talent, it’s about keeping the masses away from power, discuss” )

When one GCT spoke about “Meritocracy good, elitism bad” to an old RI audience recently, he got a lot of flack from the usual suspects (mostly not from RI). Interestingly, I got the impression that boththey shared a common assumption: meritocracy is all about fairness and equality of opportunity, giving the talented poor or deprived the opportunity to do well. Where they disagreed was on the way the PAP govt defines meritocracy and talent, and how well meritocracy works in practice.

But let’s start with someone who doesn’t fit into the PAP govt’s mould of meritocratic talent.

Gilbert Goh only has A levels from a non-elite school (St Andrew’s or CJC I assume?) and a diploma in counseling. He doesn’t have a salary of millions, he depends on donations to fund his work of helping the unemployed and underemployed.

Yet three times in the last seven months, this fifty-something S’porean has been able to bring out the crowds onto Hong Lim Park, the latest on National Day. GG got 700 S’poreans out onto Hong Lim to celebrate National Day in a way that is not “right”. True, it was much smaller than the last two occasions (about 5,000 each time) when he called for a gathering, but 700 with only about a week’s notice is pretty decent by any S’porean standard.

Aside, perhaps he might to rethink his panel of speakers. Quite a few have appeared in earlier events, and the potential audience might be put off by hearing the same old themes articulated by the same old people. And maybe for future “celebrations”, he should dispense with the speeches, and let the let the music and spirit speak.)

He is not without controversy. Juz goggle what happened before the first two events. And the run up to the last event was juz as shambolic  This wickedly funny piece sums it all up: What’s been planned for the gathering? The organisers also “want to take this opportunity in our event to support our local cartoonist Leslie Chew who has been charged by the authorities”. Erm… you mean we are gathering to make a political statement and wade into legal territory? Isn’t this adding contempt to the contempt of court charges filed against Leslie Chew?

Then in an FB post on early Saturday, Mr Goh said he was going to drop the “reclaim Singapore’’ slogan as it was “too strong”. Good. Maybe we’ll get back to celebrating National Day.

Then, to add to the confusion, Mr Goh said in another FB post on Sunday evening that the event will also be a dedication to “our late President Mr Ong Teng Cheong who spoke up boldly for us Singaporeans”. Hmm. Why bring in the late President? Is he referring to the dispute Mr Ong had with the G over the access of information regarding Singapore’s financial reserves in the late 1990s?

It seems that the organisers are trying to pitch its event “right’’. Celebrate National Day yet keep something “political’’ about the event.

Now why can’t we gather just to sing some old but heart warming National Day songs? Or do a Pink Dot style event with singing and dancing? Or watch a big-screen TV set broadcasting the parade we didn’t have tickets for?

Oh wait! Now he’s saying there will be singing of songs and face-painting et cetera. In fact, he’s calling a press conference on Wednesday to talk about the event. Maybe by that time we’ll know exactly what this Aug 9 event is about. http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/?p=6751

(The official programme)

Still when scholars like PM, DPMs, Kee Chui etc (from the PAP side), and (from the non Dark  non White side) Tan Jee Say and the NSP’s Dynamic Duo (Tony and Hazel); Show Mao and  s/o JBJ (Harvard and Cambridge scholarships respectively); and Tan Kin Lian* (he is an actuary) have difficulty enthusing S’poreans** about the nation’s well being, this A levels guy can do it. He can bring out the crowds.

And unlike the Opposition, he had the courage to call for a rally to protest the population White Paper. He also showed his judgement in thinking that he could bring out a decent crowd that would make the govt listen. He had the smaller opposition parties rushing to join him, parties led by those trained in same ways and places as the PAP leaders.

So three cheers for him. And make a donation to http://www.transitioning.org/. A worthy cause.

Finally, since we’re on meritocracy, the truth about how our meritocratic system came about. It ain’t from the PRC communists as Berrie Bear claims. It came as most things S’porean (like our flag) from the British. Our meritocracy has its roots in the exams-based system for entry into the highest ranks of the British civil service.

And meritocracy wasn’t (ain’t?) about fairness, or opportunity, or about using the best talent. It had its origins in maintaining the status quo in Victorian Britain. Let me explain.

Charles Trevelyan introduced meritocracy into the British civil service in the 19th century. He got the idea from the Chinese imperial exam system. Hence the use of the term “mandarins” for the most senior British civil servants especially those in the Foreign Office, Home Office, Treasury and Cabinet Office.

“He wanted young people to be chosen who had merit – the very best,” says [Prof John Greenaway from the University of East Anglia]. “But he believed that the best were to be found in the gentry, in the professional classes. As the 19th Century went on, the education system mirrored the social system. The universities in Oxford and Cambridge and public schools became the preserve of the gentry and the professional classes – clergy and lawyers and so on.” [Doesn't this sound familiar? Its a line that the "noise" say about the PAP's idea of meritocracy: comes from a certain self-perpetuating group.]

Education locked in what used to be patronage, replacing it in a way that was acceptable to the conservatives who had been fearing that these exams would undermine the social fabric of the country.

From then on, upper class simpletons didn’t get jobs in the civil service.

There were exams for all – slightly easier ones for the “inferior roles” and harder ones for the “superior” policy-making ones.

And that’s how it remained. I know this to my cost, having failed to get one of those superior jobs at the Treasury some 30 years ago. I now know I have Trevelyan to thank for that. [The "I" in question works for the FT, a place not known for employing dumbos.]

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23376561

So next time anyone, PAP or Jedi or juz plain stupid kay poh pontificate about “meritocracy”, remember the above passage. It was (and is?) meant to entrench the existing order, not make it more democratic or equal. At best, it opens opportunities for 6talented lesser mortals.

*I helped out the minibonders.

**TKL and s/o are so bad that they lost their election deposits.

New citizens: Is the govt naive or cynical?

In Humour, Political governance on 09/08/2013 at 4:38 am

New citizen Raj may be attending something like this party (at tax-payers’ expense, but then he too pays tax) http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-31/other-news/40913953_1_singapore-island-indian-community-gala.

But I suspect, he and his family, are celebrating by desecrating our flag (the PRC flag “r” ours) in the most disgusting manner possible, while laughing at the PAP govt that gave him citizenship, and cooking a nasty smelling curry to upset their S.porean HDB neighbours. Lest readers forget, new citizen Raj boasted to TOC that his son was set to avoid NS while still being to then become a FT PR. I wish the defence minister would close this loop-hole. Instead he seems to prefer to play the DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears) to the beat of RAVI (Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications & Insinuations (or is it Insults?).

Come to think of it, if Raj is such a devious man, he could be avoiding or evading paying his taxes. Taz talent for you.

Seriously, a friend who has spent many, many yrs working overseas, returning home ten yrs ago with a family, is not surprised that new citizens will be loyal to their new country.

He said although he had worked for many yrs in a foreign country, he wouldn’t have had the slightest hesitation to leave that country if there were problems there. Why should the govt here expect FTs to behave any differently, juz because they get S’pore citizenship, he asks? He said even if he had been given foreign citizenship, he would have cut and run if there was trouble. He doesn’t expect our new FT citizens to behave any differently. More fool the govt if it believes that they will defend S’pore, he says.

He made these points loud and clear when attending a session organised by a govt related think-tank. He actually wasn’t invited because it was organised for FTs. But his wife, a FT, received an invitation, and suggested to him that the event was his kind of do, especially as he would know many of the S’poreans from the think-tank. He did, including the boss.

So is the govt naive when it believes and assures us that new citizens will do the right thing by S’pore? Or is it cynical, wanting them only because it hopes they will drive economic growth by providing competition to local PMETs thereby keeping a cap on wage costs? Even some PAP MPs seem to think that FT provide unfair competition http://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/local-pmets-continued-to-face-unfair-foreign-competition-say-mps

BTW, my friend tells me that his son will do NS, after he finishes poly. I had told him I was disappointed to hear Yaacob, the Spin and Malay minister, say several yrs ago that he would encourage his son to do NS. His son, like my friend’s son, can opt out of being a citizen, thereby avoiding NS.

Have a gd day. And don’t curse the PAP and LKY  today. They too are S’poreans. And Cursing or being angry at the PAP and LKY, is like cursing or being angry at a Sith Lord. It only makes them stronger. They thrive on hatred.

Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy the spectacle. You paid for it. Don’t feel guilty too if you don’t go to Hong Lim to protest celebrate the people’s way. S’pore’s a broad church and the PAP govt ain’t that intolerant.

Majullah Singapura to you.

Is the PAP leopard baring his fangs and unsheathing his claws?

In Political governance on 07/08/2013 at 4:51 am

(Or “Netizens, look on the bright side”)

Reading the recent articles of the Magnificent Seven bloggers, and E-Jay, one would think so: that the leopard has not changed its spots. He’s returning to his usual predatory habits of stalking, bullying and intimidating the herbivores with the aim of creating a climate of fear and terror. There are Yaacob’s Laws, the persecution and demonising of P Ravi and cartoonist Chew (Breaking News: He juz apologised and the charges should be withdrawn. BTW, AG had once asked him to withdraw some of these cartoons, but he ignored AG.),  AG’s warning letters to bloggers about “contempt of court” postings, the play-pen name calling of Auntie and her Singh etc etc.

Maybe they should look on the bright side like Brian Cohen in the Life of Brian*. Suffering a lingering, painful death by cruxification, Brian’s spirits were lifted by others crucified along with him, who sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

As the bloggers swing, in their imaginations on the gallows, on their connecting cables or mice tails, in the world beyond cyberspace:

“Dr Paul Ananth Tambyah has been promoted to Full Professor with tenure at the National University of Singapore where he is an expert in infectious diseases at the Department of Medicine.”

“Professor Tambyah is a member of the SDP’s Healthcare Advisory Panel and co-authored, together with nine other members, the SDP National Healthcare Plan: Caring For All Singaporeans and in the olden days would have signed up to the PAP in order to serve the public (while earning serious money) is what I told a retired senior imperial storm trooper (keyboard division) when we were talking about the quality of people becoming PAP MPs (think Kate Spade and Fool Me) and those joining the Opposition. Instead he is an active member of the SDP (I know him).

– Mdm Vellama challenged the Prime Minister by filing an application in High Court in March 2012 calling “for the grant of declaration that the Prime Minister does not possess the “unfettered discretion to decide when to announce by-elections in Hougang SMC and must do so within three months or within such reasonable time as this Honorable Court deems fit”.

Seems, she is still receiving financial assistance from the Community Development Council.

– The defence minister has yet to sue P Ravi for defamation despite a govt spokesperson writing to ST’s Forum Page: “With his post, Mr Philemon appeared to be insinuating the following: That the Government was not telling the truth, that it hoards the masks for the privileged, and that it does not care for the public.” (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, why are you reading my blog?) Instead NG (Negative Govt) played the DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears) while netizens heard RAVI (Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications & Insinuations (or is it Insults?).

– SDP activist allowed to do his doctorate in NUS Biz School.

When PM’s dad was PM, it was widely perceived that the PAP had a “You are with us or against us”**, and anyone who actively opposed the PAP was asking for trouble. Well, whatever the truth of the perception, and as a junior lawyer in a leading corporate law firm, I can assure you that that was the feeling in the firm then. Incidentally, two partners during my stint, went on to be High Court judges, and more

Whatever else I think about the PM (like he cannot even get the haze issue right: he talked of the haze coming back “for weeks” about a month ago, but since then the reading was “moderate”, now “good”), I’m glad to say that this feeling that active opposition to the PAP is not tolerated (and is punished disproportionately) is a lot less prevalent nowadays, no matter what netizens say.

Can anyone imagine a SDP activist getting full tenure in olden times? (OK, a “noise’ maker was denied tenure at NTU but then his connections may have made him hard to get approval: his wife is Editor of ST and his brudder-in-law is one Yaacob, Muslim minister and internet sheriff***. Surely some netizens would have shouted, “Nepotism or favourism”, if he had got tenure? Actually, many shouted “Kelong” when he didn’t get tenure. PAP it seems can’t win netizens over.)

Or would quai lan lady still get financial help from a govt agency in the 70s, 80s, 90s or early noughties? (Nice the welfare people under Kee Chui Chan are doing the right thing by a fellow citizen despite her causing trouble for the PM, wasting AG’s time, and our money.)

Could a SDP activist getting tenure, while another is allowed to do a doctorate, the defence minister not suing P Ravi and a govt agency still helping a quai lan lady be part of a cunning plot by the PAP to lull the public into thinking it is morping into a decent, “clean”, ‘constructive” party with the “right” politics? Or is the PAP really morping into the “right” party?

After all, it is also throwing our money at us. A no-no when LKY was in power.

One ang moh seems to think so: The first step for Singapore’s reinvention lies with recognizing the seriousness of its challenges. The policies of the past may have worked impressively, but may not be as appropriate in the future. As my old Japanese sensei Jiro Tokuyama once noted: the hardest thing to do is how to unlearn the secrets of your past success. The ingredients in the cocktail that is Singapore need to be tweaked for a new era. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2013/07/18/singapore-needs-a-new-sling/

The writer is right about the need to “unlearn”, but many (self included) think more than “tweaks” are needed. (The piece is wrong here also: “Steps to increase the size of apartments, repurpose aging shopping and office structure for housing as well as encouraging more home-based work could also prove helpful.” — I don’t know where the writer gets these ideas; the opposite is happening says Alex Au rightly)

So come the next GE, will the PAP do better?

The continuing good news for “P” (for “political”) netizens, and the opposition is that so long as VivianB is in the cabinet, the PAP will have very serious problems being perceived as the “compassionate” , “right” party, no matter how much of our money the govt throws at us (latest efforts http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/need-to-look-out-for-pmes/765942.html and http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-govt-help-for/765132.html), or does the “right’ thing like giving a SDP activist tenure, and helping quai lan lady.

If PM is smart, he’ll get rid of VivianB and promote Lily Neo. Kee Chui needs all the help he can get, and he lost Halimah. It’s not as though PM doesn’t have another Indian Christian available: Indranee Thurai Rajah is reported to be a pretty decent and capable junior minister. So long as VivianB is in the cabinet, I for one know the PAP leopard cannot change its spots to save itself.

Finally, celebrate National Day. Don’t be boxed in by the opposing narratives of the govt (watch NDP parade) or those opposed to the PAP by turning up at Hong Leong Park. Do yr own thing. Don’t be sheep.

—-

*It tells the story of Brian Cohen, a young Jewish man who is born on the same day as, and next door to, Jesus Christ and is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah.

**Bit like anti-PAP TRE posters on my republished pieces. When I blog against the PAP, I get praised. When I’m neutral, I get called names. Some use my neutral pieces against me, posting onto my anti-PAP pieces, that I am a PAP stooge.  These posters are only happy if a piece is 150% anti-PAP. And when I support a PAP policy, I’m beyond the pale.

***A paid-up member of the M’sian establishment said that in M’sia with those connections even a donkey would get tenure. He then grumbled about the state of the Malay community here (he has relations here) and went to school here.

“Golden peanuts”: Legislators’ salaries relative to their countries’ GDP per prson

In Political governance on 26/07/2013 at 3:29 pm

When I posted this on fake FTs, someone posted a comment on MPs getting S$16,000 each a month. I tot readers might like to see these charts from last week’s Economist (online version). BTW, nice title LOL. Despite being paid “peanuts” by Ms Kate Spade’s standard, see where the Indon and Thai legislators rank vis-a-vis their S’porean counterparts.

As BN MPs are rumoured to play money politics to get nominated as BN’s candidates, they sure must find something worthwhile given the “peanuts” they get vis-a-vis Kate Spade, and their Indon and Thai counterparts.

Low shows the usefulness of “non-action

In Political governance on 25/07/2013 at 1:44 pm

My last piece, until new facts emerge, as I’m sure they will.on this Tweedledum and Tweedledee row that Low ended temporarily by saying “Let the people decide”.

Low clearly stated in Parliament that he would find out who had asked the contractor to give a quotation for the Bedok hawker centre cleaning. But a day later, he told reporters there was no need for further investigations (“Low: No need for further probe into hawker centre cleaning row”). Maybe he finally spoke to Tai? Remember, the day before he surprised by saying he had never spoken to Tai. This surprised some (including self) but on reflection he was not the chair, nor vice of the town council. And he ain’t a micro mgr like PM’s dad. More like PM who allowed Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim to continue with their now discredited (now reversed) policies. Or maybe, Auntie and her man threatened to resign as MPs? True WP can rule Aljunied, but looks bad for Low and WP. First Yaw, then Auntie and her man.

Then he went on  after PM’s comments to say, “Our MPs’ consciences are clear.  Not saying the MPs got integrity in his view. Juz saying their consciences “are clear”. Leaves open the possibility that MPs wrong to asset that Tai didn’t ask for $.

Meanwhile PritamS is so quiet. Lost his voice? Or had his vocal cords cut?

So they traded places, which is the best for WP. If WP is smart, they should lock PritamS in a padded cell, and when the next GE is called, announce that he will not be standing again. He is a liability in a party with men of substance and quiet achievement like Low, Show Mao and JJ.

But non-action has its downside. Take Faisal’s silence: It was interesting how the PAP politicians referred to the silence of Mr Pritam Singh …  denied that the town council had asked for undeserved payment – but failed to mention the other GRC member, Mr Faisal Manap. He had actually written to the town council on the issue, handing over an appeal letter from hawkers about being made to pay extra. Was he in Parliament? Couldn’t he have shed light on the matter? Or was he merely acting as a post box for hawkers when he handed over the appeal? http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/?p=6192

The above reminded me that it was a convoluted (so painful to read)  remark of Auntie’s that got me analysing the case more closely. She said, “the letter evidently shows MP Faisal’s awareness that it was not the policy of AHPETC not to clean the high areas of the market during annual cleaning, nor to collect any additional charges from the hawkers; otherwise, MP Faisal would not have written to AHPETC to look into Mr Chan Kheng Heng’s claim”.

Before that, I tot most of the noise was the typical PAP bullying, trying to stir the waters in an expresso cup, even if I tot WP had goofed and was silly to muddy the waters and Auntie dumb to accuse a govt agency of being political.

What got me analysing was the convoluted nature of what she said*, and the fact that Faisal didn’t juz pick-up the telephone and call Pritam, “P, waz this nonsense about charging the hawkers for the annual cleaning of the ceilings? Isn’t it our policy to pay for this?”. He didn’t but handed on the petition letter, supporting it.

His continued silence while not damning is strange.

Overall though, non-action has worked to the WP’s advantage here. If only Auntie and her man were followers of Lao Tzu, as Low surely is. Instead, they were people of violence, ala PAP.

So until fresh facts emerge, I’ll say no more on this matter.

*I said here that lawyers use language like this to confuse matters.

Why Yaacob should imitate Tom Cruise

In Humour, Internet, Political governance on 21/07/2013 at 6:53 am

And join the Church of Scientology. Or since apostasy* is punishable by death in Islam, he should sub-contract to the Church of Scientology. the govt’s attempts to make sure we get the “right” news from the web, so that we support the “right” party with the “right” politics; never mind if it has the “unright” policies, like preferring FTs to locals.

Here’s why he shold sub-contract to the Church : They’re kind of innovators in finding ways to censor the internet,” Dr Martin Poulter University of Bristol

Last month digital rights activists at the influential Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) placed the Church of Scientology into their hall of shame over what it says were repeated acts against internet freedoms.

It was just the latest twist in the Church’s long-running feud with “negative” Scientology content online, one that has lasted almost two decades.

Back in May 1994, at a time when most major organisations were yet to figure out how exactly to deal with the relatively unknown power of the internet, the Church’s Elaine Siegel had a few ideas, outlined in a leaked email to “all Scientologists on the internet”.

“I would like to ask your assistance in getting each one of you to post positive messages on the internet (at least once a week, more if you like), about Scientology,” she wrote.

“If you imagine 40-50 Scientologists posting on the internet every few days, we’ll just run the SP’s [ex-members] right off the system.

“It will be quite simple, actually.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23273109

But, perhaps not, because despite its attempts to control the flow of info on the net about the Church:

According to some measures, the Church is suffering from declining membership. Many who leave the Church are now more able to speak out – particularly with the help of blogs and social media, a threat that even the most intensive use of copyright laws struggles to touch.

“Founder L Ron Hubbard told them how to do everything in life,” reflects Dr Poulter from Wikipedia.

“But he didn’t leave any instructions on how to handle the internet.” The Hard Truths don’t. likewise, tell the PAPpies how to handle the internet.

Since there’s no manual on how to successfully control the flow of info on the web, maybe the govt should juz be pragmatic, and accept that it doesn’t have the power to restrict the flow of info on the net. Information on the net is like water.

And since I’m on Yaacob and the govt’s attempt to control the flow on the internet, here’s something on Yaacob’s law.

In his recent parliamentary comments,Yaacob Ibrahim, minister for Communications and Information, said he was “puzzled” by the Asia Internet Coalition’s statements*. The new licensing regime “has nothing to do with doing business in Singapore. It is about holding certain websites to a higher level of responsibility,” he said.

For someone who went to RI and Stamford, I can only hope that he is pretending to be “puzzled’. Because if he is really, really puzzled, it reflects badly on the calibre of RI boys who are cabinet ministers (I mean Hng Kiang is not exactly a shining example of the species).

It’s obvious why an industry body representing eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Salesforce and Yahoo Inc is concerned**. Its members make money using information (i.e. news) in one form or other. For Google, Yahoo and Facebook, they make money   via ads. For eBay it is via fees. Any possibility of information being restricted is worrying for these big companies, and for their govt, the US govt***, even if for the moment the penalties for breaking S’pore’s regulations are “peanuts”.

The other reason why these companies (and the US govt) are concerned is that S’pore is a “thought leader”, in mgt consultants’ speak, when it comes to making sure the media reports the “right” news (Witness its ranking in the press freedom index). It’s attempts to make sure the right news is told is worrying for global information companies because other countries might try to follow suit. Then problems may result. Say Indonesia has a similar regulation. Come another haze problem, Yahoo may have to obey S’pore and Indonesia in reporting the “right” information. And the countries may disagree on what is “right”. Whatever it does, Yahoo will upset someone.

——

*Apparently following the Way of Hard Truths doesn’t amount to conversion out of Islam, even though it involves deification of the Hard Truths.

**In an open letter published last month, the Asia Internet Coalition—an industry body representing eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Salesforce and Yahoo Inc.—criticized the new rules as “onerous, regressive and untenable in practice,” arguing that they have “negatively impacted Singapore’s global image as an open and business-friendly country.”

“The current vague and broad terms in the regulation and implementation will hamper innovation and deter industry growth,” such as by placing a “financial risk” upon potential Internet start-ups, said the coalition, which lobbies for free and open Internet access. The new rules “could presage a more restrictive attitude to the Internet [and] set a precedent for more restrictive regimes around the region,” it added. http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2013/07/08/singapore-defends-new-internet-rules/?mod=WSJBlog

Reminder:- A “Singapore news programme” is any programme (i.e, a programme is a production) containing any news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of Singapore in any language, but does not include any programme produced by or on behalf of the Government.

***The US State Department issued a statement expressing its “deep concerns” about what it called a “new restrictive law” in Singapore for licensing news websites. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We urge Singapore to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations and commitments.”

“We are concerned… to see Singapore applying press restrictions to the online world.”

Reason why govt fears keyboard warriors?

In Internet, Political governance on 19/07/2013 at 5:28 am

Here, I blogged on Tan Wah Piow’s call for cyber-activism: juz forward articles you like to friends and contacts.

Doesn’t achieve much leh: the following appeared recently in the letters page of the Economist:

* SIR – I was glad to see you address a common misconception regarding the protests over the past few years (“The digital demo”, June 29th). These protests have been touted as social-media revolutions, but the fact remains that the demonstrators have grabbed attention and brought about change because they went out and physically marched. Today’s youth often assumes that sending a tweet constitutes protest.

Metin Toksoz-Exley
Boston

He is right about the physical efforts needed to get things changed in countries that are authoritarian or dictatorships. Not so easy as what the S’pore dissident says.

As S’poreans don’t do protests and marches, except with the PAP govt’s permission: and most only speak anon, the PAP should not be afraid of keyboard warriors, right? They can’t change anything.

Except that the generals in the PAP govt are paper generals. And our policemen have no experience of dealing with rioters. When was the last time, the riot squad was called out? Or the ISA* used against middle class kay pohs?.

One P* Ravi is both a keyboard warrior (Jedi rank, but got potential to be Jedi Master like Yoda), and a physical warrior (he works-out by pounding the pavements and climbing the stairs for the NSP, and buys masks from his own pocket for the needy), . He operates in both worlds. He is dangerous to paper generals. Maybe taz the real reason why he kanna marked? Not because he reposted an allegation that masks would not be distributed to the public, despite the govt saying this was being done. BTW, the masks were distributed, and the reposting didn’t result in riots or panic. Bit of

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
– –

* On the ISA, read what this young S’porean (doing his NS (to defend among others this two-timing new citizen Raj and his NS avoiding son that will still be a PR FT) has to say about the ISA and his generation:

– irrelevant it seemed http://wisementalking.tumblr.com/post/50971147692/operation-spectrum-and-the-internal-security-act-why:

– until there was “intimidation”  http://wisementalking.tumblr.com/post/50973572926/operation-spectrum-

**Philemon, not “Private”, “Politician”, “Political” or “Partisan”)

Minister, you thinking of yr govt?

In India, Political governance on 16/07/2013 at 5:13 am

I laughed when I read the following:

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said one of the biggest risks for Singapore is a populist government that spends increasing amounts of money to succeed.

Already, he noted, there are other challenges facing the nation, such as an ageing population, a shrinking workforce and rising healthcare costs.

Mr Shanmugam said: “There’s always something else on which money can be spent. But every time the government agrees and puts down a programme, you must remember it’s hard-coded, very difficult to take it back.

“Whenever we put down a programme today to spend money, I think the biggest risk for Singapore is a populist government that decides that the way to succeed is to spend more and more money. Every programme that you put down money (for), today, would just mushroom in 10, 15 years.

“So the impact will not be seen in the next five years. Next 10 years will be okay, but after that, how are we going to afford it? How sustainable is it going to be?”

Mr Shanmugam was speaking at the National University of Singapore U@live forum on [12th June 2013]. (CNA)

Recently,

– the govt has junior civil servants more money (Singapore’s 80,000 civil servants will get a mid-year Annual Variable Component of 0.4-month. In addition, Division IV officers will receive a wage increase of $70 per month and Division III officers a pay rise of $40 per month.)

– NTUC is pushing for cleaning companies to give each of their workers $60 a month more.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the government has taken steps to help low-income tenants of rental flats who see their pay rises eaten up by a rental increase.

Two million adult Singaporeans received letters from the government in the first week of July, informing them of the benefits they and their households will receive as part of Budget 2013.

And what about these?

– In 2011 or 2012, the govt funded a rise in the salaries of doctors, and I think, other health professions in public service. There were assurances that the fees we pay to use SingHealth services would not be raised.

– CPF interest rates are maintained despite the yields on 10-yr govt bonds collapsing.

– The injection of $1.1bn into the public transport system, a system which the former transport minister tot was perfect. Remember, he threatened a GST increase because he said commuters were asking for too much comfort.

– The accelerated HDB building programme despite constant govt grumbles that it loses money. A previous HDB minister even implied that by building more HDB flats, S’pore was raiding its reserves. Yes, yes he actually didn’t say this but I didn’t say he said this. I’m putting a reasonable spin on what he said.

So one could reasonably argue that this govt is doing the very thing it decries. It spends increasing amounts of money to succeed or to make sure it’s share of the popular vote doesn’t fall further in the next GE. A few years ago, when LKY was still in the cabinet, and believed to have a veto over cabinet decisions, I had lunch with some economists. One of them wondered if LKY would die if the govt spends one more cent of our money to make life a bit more comfortable for S’poreans. Wonder how LKY feels about all the above spending? Would he think it is “populism” at work?

The continuing good news for “P” (for “political”) netizens, and the opposition is that so long as VivianB is in the cabinet, the PAP will have very serious problems being perceived as a populist, compassionate party, no matter how much of our money the govt throws at us. It also undercuts the gd work that Kee Chui is doing. When social welfare workers praise him, he must be doing something gd. Or at least “populist’.

Will Tai do a Yaw? Cut & run?

In Political governance on 14/07/2013 at 5:22 am

This is speculation but speculation based on what worked before for Low, the man of Tao, who is non-confrontational: like water.

As Cze, me, and, now tua kee blogger, Alex Au have point out, Tai Vie Shun has some questions to answer, but he never did.

And never will if Low’s statement of Saturday evening is the final word: taz it’s for public to decide. This followed PM’s latest comments (even TRE says he has many supporters) on the issue.

Might Tai leave S’pore? In effect doing a Yaw?

Low could come out to say, “We were investigating privately, we are not detectives,. But he left S’pore so we can’t do anything,”

Let’s see. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that Low will “fix” things. As someone steeped in Tao, things will juz happen, to his advantage.

If Tai does a Yaw, I sure the usual suspects will praise Low like they did when Yaw skipped town, saying nothing about his sex life http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/lol-expelling-yaw-took-courage/.

Finally, if no-one blogs on why the PM is taking such a hard line, other than he has evidence that can stand up in court behind him, I’ll have to blog on why Auntie’s attack on a govt agency without evidence that could stand up in the court of public opinion was dumb. Whoever originated the ST article that got PritamS all upset, deserves a million-dollar bonus.

If only Auntie and her man were men steeped in Tao, the PAP would have had to move on. Happily for them, only Low is a man of Tao.

Related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/yawgate-only-lau-wang-lin-comes-out-with-credit/

Why young S’poreans should be sent to Yangon

In Logistics, Political governance on 13/07/2013 at 10:57 am

“Still, if the Workers Party can’t get its act together over cleaning hawker centres how can it ever hope to run a $trillion country? :lol:,” Auntielucia. She is right. Actually, it’s worse than this or what PM is alleging. It is really very stupid to accuse a govt agency of being “political” without evidence that can hold up in the court of public opinion. Might blog on this if no other blogger raises the issue.

Anyway, I’m sure she would agree with me that S’pore would become like Burma under incompetent government.

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin. (From the Economist, a few weeks ago)

The govt should pay to send kids there during the hols. Make it the PAP as the usual suspects would shout “politics”, and rightly so.

No Asean-round up this week. But readers might find this interesting http://www.economist.com/node/21581660. It’s about the building of a highway across the Kra Isthmus that shippers can use to by-pass the Malacca Straits.

Related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/implications-for-spores-port-as-burma-opens-up/

“Constructive” & “”clean” politics”: Err what about BG Yeo, & VivianB, Sim Ann & team?

In Political governance on 12/07/2013 at 4:55 am

To continue to attract good people, Singapore needs to have politics that are “constructive” and “clean”, PM said recently. “You can be criticised personally … but what goes on on the Web, all sorts of nasty stuff … it has a real impact on families,” Mr Lee said.

Right, we have to have the “right” politics, juz like S’poreans must be told the “right’ facts.

So it was clean, constructive politics when BG Yeo tried to cast doubts on Chen Show Mao’s interest in serving S’pore. BG Yeo said he (Show Mao) had been away for so long, and it was intriguing that only now (2011) he wanted to serve S’poreans. Funnily, it was George Yeo who left politics and took up posts in HK when he lost in Aljunied. Service? What service?

What about this where VivianB, Sim Ann and others outed a SDP candidate in a particularly vicious manner? http://siewkumhong.blogspot.sg/2011/04/disgust-and-loathing-in-singapore.html

Is it “clean” politics to sneer at the needy, elderly poor? As someone on Facebook posted, “Says he who denied Lily Neo’s request for $1 more a day for those on subsistence living. I guess that was not taking advantage of honest people. Oh and clean politics of course.” BTW, whatever it is, it sure is politics the PAP way: taz the common perception. The PAP govt can continue throwing more of our money at us, but with ministers like this, the Opposition doesn’t need friends.

Is it “clean”, “constructive” politics to talk of  taking time off to “fix” the opposition, instead of governing S’pore for the benefit of all S’poreanns? Remember PM’s speech at during GE2006 campaign?

And is it “clean”, “constructive” politics for George Yeo to attack the PAP to save his own skin?

Penultimately, in case anyone is wondering, I don’t think it was “dirty” politics for VivianB to savage Auntie and her man, or for Yaacob to rough up P* Ravi. Those who live by the sword like Auntie, PritamS and P Ravi must accept that they can kanna cut or die too. Fair is fair. Cannot expect to use keyboard or mouth to attack others, and not not expect others to respond. And they should remember that bullies in real life often don’t back off but instead respond disproportionately**.

These were gd “clean” politics.

Coming back to PM. With him as an enemy, the Opposition doesn’t need friends. Was there a need for him to talk of the “right” politics. No there wasn’t. He could have talked of how he spends his salary, or hope to cope with an aging parent. Instead, he chose to highlight a PAP trait, that it is not even bothering to hide or PR away, let alone change: play very rough and unsportingly..

*BTW the “P” stands for Philemon, not “Political” or “Politician”.

**Actually, I think they responded proportionately, but then in my younger days I threw telephones, and cups and saucers at those that got me angry. Fortunately for me, in those days that was acceptable behaviour.

The deafening silence of Tai Vie Shun

In Political governance, Public Administration on 11/07/2013 at 4:44 am

Low says he stands by Auntie and her vice chairman, and the WP report clearing them.He has to would say that, wouldn’t he?. after VivianB’s savaging of (at least he stopped picking on the elderly, needy poor, a SDP gay, the and Indonesian govt). In cyberspace the usual suspects are rushing to their defence. Sadly, most of the stuff is of the “WP right, VivianB is a lying bastard” variety. Seems that the usual suspects have nothing substantive to say in defence of Auntie and her man*. They are reduced to replaying the video of the exchange, frame by frame, adding their spin.

To be fair, they can’t be blamed when she says convoluted lawyerly stuff like:

– “This quotation was requested by the market association and does not coincide with their annual obligation to clean the high areas under the town council contract. Does the minister not agree that in this quotation, nowhere is the town council implicated?”

– “Minister, it is still the consistent position of our town council that Mr Tai at no time said that the hawkers had to pay extra to fulfill the town council’s annual obligation** to clean the high areas. At no time was this said, I don’t think these documents show it either.”

– “[T]he letter evidently shows MP Faisal’s awareness that it was not the policy of AHPETC not to clean the high areas of the market during annual cleaning, nor to collect any additional charges from the hawkers; otherwise, MP Faisal would not have written to AHPETC to look into Mr Chan Kheng Heng’s claim.”

How to help leh?

I had blogged in mid June “And this is the dog that didn’t bark, The WP TC’s property manager was aware of everything going on – he was CC-ed in emails and forwarded quotations. How could it have escaped him that everyone was pulling in different directions and essentially working against each other? Insidious or sloppy?

‘Auntie and PritamS have never explained his silence, or allowed him to speak to the public.”

Their failure has caught up with them.

And I’m surprised to learn that Low had yet to speak to Tai. Another Stag Yaw situation? Low doesn’t want to hear an inconvenient, hard truth?

I don’t expect Auntie and her friend to sue VivianB to show they are not lying; too short to respond to him in that childish way.Let him bawl in his play pen. (BTW, can you imagine him and that other rich snooty kid, s/o JBJ, in the same play pen in the same creche?)

I juz want to hear from Tai Vie Shun, the property manager. Did he ask the hawkers to pay for the scaffolding? Any scaffolding?

If he says, he didn’t, is he willing to swear a statutory declaration to that effect**?

And if he admits that he asked the hawkers to pay for scaffolding (any scaffolding),did he think he was doing it in accordance with the town council’s guidelines?

And did he inform Auntie and PritamS about his request. And if he did, when did he inform them?

Why is it so difficult to get Tai to speak publicly on these issues, Low?

Finally, bloggers, pls note that the minister’s version of events is consistent with that of the hawkers (actually it’s based on their version). Are they saying the hawkers are wrong or lying?

The PAP isn’t going to let this issue drop, so bloggers had better get more creative in their response, if Tai doesn’t open his mouth, which I don’t think he will.

[Last two para added after hr hour first posting.]

*No not defamatory as there were several other Indians working hard in Aljunied, all trying hard to be the WP Indian candidate. Singh got it ’cause Auntie mentored him. It has been alleged that he made it clear that if he wasn’t chosen to stand in Aljunied, he wouldn’t stand elsewhere and would cut the time he spent on WP activities.

**Is it WP’s position that if the ceilings are cleaned more than once a yr, the hawkers have to pay? Waz the position in PAP areas?  My PAPpy connections say the PAP town councils pay for all ceiling cleaning, and they are cleaned more than once a year. I pointed out that they charge more, a lot more.

***Then it would be in VivianB’s court to prove that he is lying.

Where S’pore is not first world: not reported in MSM

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 10/07/2013 at 5:18 am

S’pore is richer (per capita) than Japan. Yet as this chart from the Economist shows, its welfare spending is below that of Japan, and is clustered with Thailand and China, with only Indonesia worse-off. Korea is slightly better than S’pore but the president there has promised massive welfare spending. S’pore has not made such a promise.

We should be aiming to be clustered withJapan. And as Temasek’s recent results help show, we got the money. Prosperous Japan is the only country that protects its people both well and widely, according to the index. In Singapore, now richer than Japan, social protection is spread broadly but thinly, the index shows.

For the geeks:The Asian Development Bank’s newly published social-protection index shows both the breadth of coverage (the percentage of potential beneficiaries actually covered) and the depth (the amount of spending per beneficiary, expressed as a percentage of the country’s GDP per person).

PAP’s “right” politics defined

In Economy, Humour, Political governance on 09/07/2013 at 5:48 am

When TRE republished this (where I pointed out PM did not define what he meant by the “right” politics, Orang Miskin posted:

 The PAP’s definition of “right” politics:

 • Always be ready to fix the opposition

• Avoid meaningful debates, stage wayangs to fool voters

• Appoint yes-men into Parliament

• Surround yourself with sycophants, cronies and overpaid army “generals” and “admirals”

• Occasionally whack some young people to teach others a lesson, to silence or intimidate them

• Hide statistics/information from the people

• Surreptitiously flood the country with foreigners without authorisation from voters

• Abdicate state responsibility for taking care of the poor and elderly

• Let males become MPs who have not served NS

BTW, based on his other postings, I think OM is a retired SPH journalist from the old days. Glad to see another imperial storm trooper (keyboard regiment) from the Dark Side becoming Jedi, even if he is anon Jedi.

Another post read

PAP is very bad politics:

July 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm (Quote)

Under LHL PAP is (very) bad politics. Want proof? See below.

(1) low productivity of Singapore economy

(2) low birth rate which started from LKY’s “Stop at 2” policy

(3) depressed local wages

(4) failing to plan for the many foreigners it allowed into Singapore

(5) shortage, “shrinking” and high cost of public housing

(6) shortage of public buses and MRT trains

(7) shortage of hospitals, doctors and nursing homes

(8) shortage of teachers and places in schools for Singaporeans

(9) gave foreigners a big advantage over Singaporeans in job market

(10) shortage of jobs for Singaporeans

(11) foreigners taking jobs away from Singaporeans

(12) frequent breakdowns of MRT trains

(13) overcrowded public transport (buses and MRT trains)

(14) bailout of public transport (failed privatisation)

(15) frequent 50-year “ponding”

(16) high cost of public housing (price doubled over the last 5 years)

(17) high inflation (Singapore now most expensive Asian city)

(18) high cost of education and healthcare

(19) high cost of electricity (failed privatisation)

(20) poor air quality as per WHO Air Quality Guidelines

(21) depleted CPF accounts after buying “affordable” HDB flats

(22) many CPF accounts below CPF Minimum Sum

(23) massive (billions) losses of taxpayers’ money by Temasek / GIC

(24) wasteful purchases by Government agencies like NParks

(25) made Singapore a “tuition nation”

(26) wages lagging behind increase in the cost of housing, education, healthcare and transport

(27) failing to provide Singaporeans with Swiss Standard of Living as promised by PAP

(28) NSF still dying during training

(29) AIM scandal showed PAP corruption

(30) PAP censoring social media and Internet

(31) PAP manipulating PSI reading to report lower readings

Actually, this poster should have said these were “wrong” policies.

And finally, this chap should start a petition to get TRE to stop republishing me:

Cynical investor = PAP:

July 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm (Quote)

Cynical investor is likely a PAP running dog. But a careful one as he/she plays both sides but leaning towards pro-PAP. That way, he will not be dismissed as a member of PAP internet brigade. We should be cynical with him/her.

Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

He and the likers must be among those who think that voting for Dr Tan was voting for the PAP. They may even think a vote for TKL was voting for the PAP. Only voting for TJS (and Dr Chee) would satisfy them. They are members of the “PAP are always wrong, even if they are right” platoon.

BTW, the first one got a rating of 10 out of 10, and the second 12 out of 12.

PM, right policies, not right politics

In Political governance on 06/07/2013 at 11:14 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said for economic growth to sustain, what’s important is getting the politics right … “It starts with politics because if your politics is wrong, then your economics is bound to go wrong. And the reason why so many countries cannot get the economies right is because if the politics don’t work, the benefits don’t get spread to the right people or broadly enough, or there are vested interests which have to be taken care of, or there’s some divide in the society which cannot be bridged, and you spend your time fighting over that, rather than working together productively. (CNA)

Funny that reading the various reports and the text of his speech, I can’t find his definition of “right”politics”, let alone what he means by “politics”.

As this letter to TRE points out, it’s the right policies that matter because “We’re not anti-Govt, just anti-Govt policies”. Of course the writer is exaggerating: there are some S’poreans, particularly in the new media and readers of TRE, who will always oppose any govt policy, “politicising” everything. Some of them are juz kay pohs, some frus that the PAP hasn’t recognised their talents, and some are opportunists.

But at least 35% of S’poreans (those who voted for Dr Tan Cheng Bock, self-included) are not “anti-govt”, juz opposed to some policies (like liberal immigration policies, allowing the children of “new citizens and PRs to avoid NS etc etc)  And I’m sure there are those among the 25% who voted for Tan Jee Say who don’t agree with Mad Dog Chee that the PAP is all bad and must be replaced. They juz didn’t like choosing one of two former PAP members*. (As a supporter of Dr Tan, I have to admit that he was part of Team PAP that got most major policies wrong in the 1990s, though I would argue that as MP he had little power, and anyway his heart has always been in the right place,unlike VivianB and Charles Chong.)

So PM, get the the policies “right” and more S’poreans (maybe 15% more) will vote for the PAP. Maybe even WP’s Low, though certainly not Auntie or her Singh.

—-

*Yes, yes, I kinow that TKL was a PAP member.

Haze: PM, silence is NOT a solution!

In Indonesia, Political governance on 05/07/2013 at 6:20 am

The PM was wrong about the haze returning (conditions are getting better) and S’pore, Indonesia and M’sia have kissed and made up. Sort of. “ASEAN’s foreign ministers have agreed on a process to task officials from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to examine what is happening on the ground and to report to the leaders in managing it … Mr Shanmugam, together with his counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia, met to discuss the haze issue and to recommend to the grouping ways to tackle the problem.Mr Shanmugam felt it was a very positive development as it gave ASEAN a framework to move ahead on the matter.” (CNA)

So back to the days of the Asean way: keeping quiet, and working behind closed doors (like how WP MPs, according to Auntie, deal with the PAP govt? To be fair WP MPs are starting to get vocal; sadly its PritamS, the loose canoon )

The situation is more like making up until the offending partner in a relationship cheats again. And going by Indonesia’s track record on fighting haze, it’s reasonable conclude that it will try to “smoke” M’sia and S’pore, once we sit down and keep quiet. Remember VivianB shouted, “Rape!”*, while M’sia took tougher but quieter action: it sent a diplomatic note of protest, but made it public that it had sent a protest note.In olden days, this was often a prelude to war.

And countries also said publicly that they would raise the issue at an Asean meeting, thereby making it publicly an Asean issue. (They did, hence the “agreement”.)

Only after this public display of anger, did Indonesia got to work http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/.

Still not convinced Indons officials are dishonest? There is this ST story (http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/indonesia/story/spore-funded-efforts-fight-haze-face-challenges-ground-201) on how aid is wasted or offers of help ignored. (Of course, the usual suspects would discount this story, but it ties in with what their ang moh HR and environmental friends are saying.)

Given this track record of mendacity, it is important not to forget what Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Jero Wacik said juz before his boss apologised**.

At the opening of a meeting of senior energy officials from Asean countries in Nusa Dua, Bali  on 24 June, Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Jero Wacik said that both Singapore and Malaysia had made much profit from Indonesia all this while. He said Malaysia had benefited from bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, including electricity imports from Indonesia. Likewise, Singapore had benefited from Indonesia’s gas supply as well as the large number of Indonesian tourists visiting Singapore.

But he seems to have forgotten S’pore and M’sia didn’t get electricity and gas these things for free. Their companies or govts paid cash, much of which found its way into official’ bank accounts (albeit according to the Indon govt in S’pore). As for tourism, Indonesia benefits from our wealthier tourists visiting Indonesia.

He then went on to say Singapore and Malaysia were trying to discredit Indonesia globally when they should help, he added. said, “Let me remind our friends from Malaysia, Singapore, don’t just because of the haze, tell stories to the world.” He said Singapore and Malaysia should “know themselves” (tahu diri) over the haze, accusing both of trying to discredit Indonesia over the haze issue. “It’s called sharing, you go through good times together, don’t make noise to the world when things go bad. It’s just like husband and wife, don’t take your quarrel outside.”

Err didn’t M’sia and S’pore offer to help fight the fires but were told to bugger off? And haven’t both countries been telling Indonesia for years to do something about the yearly haze, and Indonesia promises to do so, anually, despite refusing to ratify a 2002 Asean treaty*** on the issue? And as related above, our offers of help are ignored or our aid wasted.

And despite him saying,“Both countries should sit together to resolve the problem without making a big deal of it to the world.”, one senior official publicly said  that Malaysia and Singapore linked companies were involved in the burning. But two other senior Indonesian officials publicly contradicted him and said that there was no basis for saying this. Indonesia has acknowledged that its officials have been contradicting each other on this point, and that what is needed is a proper investigation. all the companies have also denied publicly the allegations.

He also said that the Indonesian government is doing its utmost to put out the fires. So how come it comes around around as regularly as the monsoons? And what about ratifying the 2002 Asean treaty on fighting haze?

Finally, Indonesian politicians criticised their president for apologising, showing their belief that Indonesia had a right  to smoke its neighbours, juz as it has the right to invade and rule West Papua and East Timor.

So until Indonesia shows it is serious about solving the annual problem that hurts millions of its people, S’pore and M’sia have to be willing to name and shame Indonesia publicly and in int’l forums like Asean meetings, or worse come to the worse at the UN This, it seems, is the modern equivalent of Raffles sending in the army to burn down palaces to teach recalcitrant sultans  to respect the British http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/.

Let’s hope Pinky has found his balls to stand up for S’pore! Silence is not an option!

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/the-haze-and-regime-change/

* In a strongly-worded statement on Facebook he bitched that “no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans’ health and wellbeing”, Starting to like him despite his sneering at the poor when a pAP MP asked him to spend more on them. while throwing our money at the Kiddie Games.

**My take on the apology

***Only now is the govt taking steps to get it ratified.

Would M’sian PRs be cheering for LionsXII?

In Footie, Political governance on 03/07/2013 at 7:09 am

When it was reported that PM would be attending last night’s match,

– superstitious fans (like me) groaned afraid that he would be siaw for team;

– the usual suspects were bitching that he was trying to tupang the popularity of the team for the PAP.

Well LionXII won in style, and so the former (self included)  were wrong.

As to the usual suspects, I’m sure if he wasn’t present, they would be bitching that he only watches sports where FTs represent S’pore, like ping pong. Either way, they would criticise him because they hate all things PAP, and are not willingly to accept that 60% of voters (a very sizable majority) voted for the PAP. BTW, I voted for the Opposition juz as I have all my life.

Thankfully for S’pore these people don’t have the balls to take action: they are only passive grumblers.

Coming back to PM’s attendance. I’m glad he attended because love of footie (EPL, La Liga, Champs and Europa Leagues, World Cup, National teams’ games and street games) is something that most S’poreans share: the money rows between SingTel and Starhub show this. He may not love (or even like footie) footie but by attending he recognises that many of us do, that footie, not ping pong, is our national game.

And he should reflect and repent on his “PAP loves FTs” policy*. Many yrs ago, his dad complained bitterly that when S’pore met China in basketball in S’pore, S’porean Chinese were cheering for China. Well I want to ask PM, “If PRs** from M’sia were attending, who would they vote cheer for?” Certainly not for LionsXII.

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

He cannot have a “FT rules OK” policy, while building a national identity. Something has to give.

*I’m not convinced that the govt is sincere in its promise to cut back its “Operation FTs swamp S’pore”. I’m sceptical.

**Most PRs are M’sian Chinese. They are not happy with being second class citizens in M’sia but refuse to became S’porean citizens. Remember the M’sian that was the first “S’porean” to climb Mount Everest? He did become a citizen, but very reluctantly it has been alleged..

Haze: Govt wasting money? Aided & abetted by anti-govt or kay poh activists!

In Economy, Political governance on 23/06/2013 at 4:30 am

The SAF distributed 1m free N95 masks meant for the poor yesterday to “grassroot” leaders. Today, these PAP people will distribute the masks. The anti-govt or kay poh activists stopped bitching against the govt for juz a second , then started bitching, “Why so late leh? People suffering for days.” Obviously nothing will satisfy them.

Actually, they should be bitching about the free masks.

The face masks which are in high demand in Singapore can protect against the worst of the smog.

But Dr Bhaskaran says they are unlikely to provide total protection.

“The masks may be sufficient to keep out some particles, but other gases would go straight through them.”

The British Lung Foundation agrees: “The use of masks is not recommended; they are often ineffective and may make breathing more difficult.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23000409

As this foundation is non-political and is quasi-medical, I have to accept that its view is authoritative and founded on medical evidence, especially given that our govt is trying to bribe us with our money,  and that activists, whether anti-govt or juz plain kay pohs, don’t care if public funds are wasted’ so long as it suits their agendas, whatever that may be.

When anti-govt or kay poh activists, and the govt are on the same wave-length, we get screwed. SIGH.

Meanwhile, the cost of the current haze for Singapore could be hundreds of millions of dollars, brokerage CLSA said in a report.

It said that in 2006, when the pollution index reached 150, it was estimated the haze cost $50 million and in 1997 it was $300 million. CLSA said the 1997 and 2006 figures seemed low when considering the direct and indirect cost of prolonged haze.

And this is what Barclays says http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/haze-economy-will-slow/

Netizen activists, think of working S’porean and watch the blind side

In Political governance on 21/06/2013 at 5:29 am

I’m worried that netizen activists, whether aligned to an opposition party, or juz plain kay pohs, are increasingly losing touch with the facts on the ground.

Take two recent examples:

– While rightly warning that Yaacob’s internet regulations are a threat to the free flow of info, they have not been able to convince S’poreans of this threat. It was a cunning move by Yaacob the water engineer to use the principle of raisable dams to lull the public into complacency. Yes, yes I’m complacent but taz because I think that new media, like water, will find a way round barriers. But I could be wrong. Obviously, the activists disagree with me, but except for TOC, no-one has not tried to put their fears in a form that the masses can understand.

– Some (thankfully only a few, and one has “repented” to “repent” again) are using the haze situation to promote their agenda of “All PAP govt’s fault”. Again I doubt this is resonating with the public, who have more intelligence than these people think they have. The masses know that the Indons are at fault. Even TRE posters say so albeit there are more “It’s the fault of the PAP govt” posters.

While, the activists are navel-gazing and bitching to one another on the govt’s faults, and ignoring the masses;  the govt is quietly doing things to try to make sure that come the next GE, that its share of the popular vote will increase.

It has given:

– junior civil servants a bit more money (Singapore’s 80,000 civil servants will get a mid-year Annual Variable Component of 0.4-month. In addition, Division IV officers will receive a wage increase of $70 per month and Division III officers a pay rise of $40 per month.)

– NTUC is pushing for cleaning companies to give each of their workers $60 a month more.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the government has taken steps to help low-income tenants of rental flats who see their pay rises eaten up by a rental increase.

Think about it.

The PAP govt doesn’t do compassion (ask VivianB about his sneers about the elderly poor, or his efforts on helping the homeless while throwing our money at the Kiddie Games), or popularity. All these schemes and others like the $1.1bn subsidy to listcos SMRT and SBS, the accelerated HDB building programme, and the purported curb of FT inflows, all have one over-riding aim: shoring up, and hopefully increasing, the vote in the next GE. The govt is throwing our money at ourselves to win the next GE.

I for one don’t mind this spending, but if I  were one of the usual suspects, I’d be worried that like in M’sia, the govt is using the voters’ money to “bribe” the voters. while the masses are not realising it.

Uncle Leong is the only activist out there consistently reminding the masses that it’s their money that the PAP govt is spending niggardly to get the masses out of a mess that the govt is largely responsible for getting them into in the first place.

Focus netizen activists, focus. Focus on the needs and aspirations of working S’poreans, not on esoteric topics like freedom of speech, the plight of animals, LGBT issues, exploitation of FTs etc. Yes, yes,  these are worthy causes, but they are not bread-and-butter S’porean issues.

Otherwise come next GE, and 2011 GE and PE will look like 1991 GE: another false dawn or wasted opportunity.Be like Low, not like JBJ, Chiam and the two SDP MPs. They didn’t focus and come 1996, it was back to the future. Yes, I know Chiam won.

BTW, the PAP might even win back Aljunied given the way Auntie and her Indian are behaving. They are behaving like Georgie and his gals from Hell. Thank God for Low, Show Mao and Faisal who do the unglamorous work of serving their constituents, while Auntie and her man grandstand and play to the “PAP are bastards” gallery. Punggol East is safe what with Ah Lian doing her thing, and Hougang is Low’s territory, and Ah Huat is doing a gd job keeping the constituents happy, unlike the Stag who focused on satisfying horny gals. But if Aljunied falls, it’s 1996 again.

the labour movement is proposing that cleaning companies agree to follow national wage guidelines before they can get a licence. – See more at: http://ifonlysingaporeans.blogspot.sg/2013/06/ntuc-wants-cleaning-firms-to-follow.html#sthash.Vi8a2kGN.dpuf
the labour movement is proposing that cleaning companies agree to follow national wage guidelines before they can get a licence. – See more at: http://ifonlysingaporeans.blogspot.sg/2013/06/ntuc-wants-cleaning-firms-to-follow.html#sthash.Vi8a2kGN.dpuf
the labour movement is proposing that cleaning companies agree to follow national wage guidelines before they can get a licence. – See more at: http://ifonlysingaporeans.blogspot.sg/2013/06/ntuc-wants-cleaning-firms-to-follow.html#sthash.Vi8a2kGN.dpuf

Agitated? Use of arbitrary power is the S’pore way leh!

In Political governance on 14/06/2013 at 5:28 am

Blogger Ravi Philemon addressed the rally: “The Media Development Authority should take its hands off the online world because it is the most open public space Singaporeans have right now,” he said. “The regulation will only give the government unlimited power to act arbitrarily against the interests of Singaporeans.”*

The other speakers also spoke along the same lines and the crowd there on 8 June cheered them on.

It’s precisely because the cyberspace is the most open public space Singaporeans have right now that the govt wants unlimited power over it, though the govt would disagree that it wants the power to act arbitrarily against the interests of Singaporeans: it would argue that it wants the power to protect us.

In the political sphere, there has been no open space since 1959: Nothing has changed. Opposition leader and secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party Chee Soon Juan expressed concerns that the government was trying to stifle political opponents online and said that there was a danger that the government could be seen as “trying to regulate the opposition’s means of communicating with voters before the next elections”.*

In the field of public social behaviour, S’pore has had “NO” spitting, littering, smoking and other such campaigns. While these attempts to curb uncivil and unhygienic public behaviour (a plus), they are the use of  arbitrary power.

There there have been the various social engineering projects (birth control, “graduate she-rabbits”, “Breed for S’pore”, “Speak Mandarin”, “Foreign Trash Talents Welcome”, the destruction of Chinese language education system etc etc) that are premised on the use of arbitrary power.

In S’pore, even nature is not allowed to run its course, land use is too precious to allow that. All our streams are improved with the addition of concrete banks to prevent soil erosion and ensure that they flow straight into the sea. There are sea walls all around the island to protect vulnerable spots from erosion.

The speakers and their audience may not realise it, but their call for “open public space” and the end to the use of arbitrary power is a challenge to the very foundations of the way S’pore has been governed since its founding, and especially since 1959.

It is akin to:

– the anti-colonial, anti-capitalist agitation of the communists and allies;

– Tan Wah Piow’s efforts; or

– the “Marxists’ conspiracy”.

In the days when one Harry was sheriff, judge and jury, the speakers and audience would be in “Cold Store”, and denounced publicly as subversives, running dogs and stooges of  fat capitalist cat Yahoo!

While the curbing of “public space” and the use of arbitrary power is still par for the course, Harry’s Law isn’t used nowadays. Some things have changed, and for the better.

Another example of change for the better is that the internet regulations are not imposed on the likes of TOC, TRE, yet. In the olden days, Harry wouldn’t want to waste a good law on juz Yahoo!

*http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/06/201368112023976117.html

S’pore dissident and rebel suggests an easy, effective & lazy way of undermining PAP rule

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 12/06/2013 at 5:54 am

I had written that new media was like Lao Tzu’s description of water, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox:what is soft is strong.”

.Tan Wah Piow illustrates how the water analogy works (albeit without using the term).

This is how the real “S’pore Dissident* and “S’pore Rebel” defines what he calls “Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace (VMD)” : This force is far more radical, dynamic, reflective of the people’s mood, and certainly more threatening to the PAP than all the opposition parties combined … the “Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace (VMD)”

It is a movement without leaders, organisation, or membership. Yet it has a capacity to grow, and is already setting the political demands for change. The power of this virtual movement lies in its ability to synergise the individual desires for democratic changes in Singapore into real collective political actions. The energy within this virtual movement comes from the decades of pent up frustrations, as well as the feeling of betrayal of the Singapore cause … All of us are now part of this VMD.

It is this VMD which is now setting the political agenda in Singapore. The avalanche of criticisms against AIM, the Population White Paper, and now the control of the Internet are not led by any of the opposition party, but by the uncoordinated collective efforts of individuals in cyberspace. They include those who write articles, bloggers, those who make comments, those who distribute articles through facebook and social media. The VMD would not be a potent political force without a buoyant cyberspace. At the same time, the cyberspace in Singapore would be sterile without the VMD.

(http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/06/04/the-real-reason-behind-the-internet-crackdown/ I very strongly commend readers read it. It is the only piece from one of the “usual suspects” on Yaacob’s internet rules that is rational, unemotional, doesn’t tie itself up in contradictions; in short, no BS. The others are “noise”, cocks preening themselves for a Wayang.)

As usual, he calls for the PAP to be kicked out**. But, During the interim, we need more guerrilla-type bloggers and cyber-warriors to counter the current set of regulations. Each time we forward an article we like in cyberspace to our friends and acquaintances, we are actively undermining the legitimacy and dominance of the PAP.

Juz forward articles we like. So simple leh. But then the best strategies are often the simplest. Not the complicated ones.

So, while I don’t share his obsession with overthrowing the PAP (if the PAP does the right things by S’poreans, I’ll vote for it), I share his view on the Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace and how we can grow it the lazy way: juz forward articles we like.

No need to do blackouts or attend protests in the hot sun. Juz use the tools of the wired city-state that the PAP govt has created.

*No disrespect meant to Gopalan and Rajan Nair, the two self-styled S’pore Dissidents. I’m sure even they must concede that Tan has done more for the cause they and he believe in than their combined efforts, which objectively speaking amounts to little more than hot air.

**LKY’s disciple, Lim Kit Siang, had started calling for UMNO to be voted out at about the same time as Tan had started to call for the overthrow of the PAP: since the early 70s. UMNO and the PAP, like Johnnie Walker, are still going strong.

SPH & MediaCorp agree with TOC on crowd size!

In Political governance on 09/06/2013 at 3:48 pm

And it’s a whooping 2,000++!

Wah lan! Pigs can fly!

I had predicted when I read that TOC reported “Over 2000 are at Hong Lim Park for the protest”, that, “SPH and MediaCorp will report, “Less than 500 turned up at Hong Lim protest”. Err I was wrong: CNA reported “Some 2,000 Singaporeans …”, while ST reported that between 2,000 and 2,500 people turned up.

So why did our constructive, nation-building media report numbers that tally with that of TOC’s, and not come lower? One would have tot that it was in the interest of the perceived PAP-sream media to downplay the extent of the unhappiness. Getting 2,000 to 2,500 S’poreans out at very short notice (less than a week) is a very good achievement, no a great feat, on the part of the organisers. And shows the extent of the unhappiness with Yaacob’s regulation to make sure S’poreans get the “right” facts.

Even the Pinkies only got out 10,000 people partying after a yr’s preparation, free buses, and the promise of the availability of hot, hotdates.

Sorry, back to the consensus (or “right”) numbers.

For starters, TOC really took the trouble to scientifically count the attendance (and not hazard a guess and spinning the issue as I tot it would). According to Ravi Philemon (via Facebook): [F]our people were placed at the four different entrances with people counters (device) to count the number of people streaming into the rally. The number from the four different people counters were tallied together at different times during the protest. According this people counters slightly over 2500 people attended the event, and at the peak, there were 2000 together at the rally.

Also, I’m sure SPH and MediaCorp reporters would have had the benefit of ISD’s or police intelligence’s similar accurate, methodical estimates.

Hence the consensus on the “right” number of attendees. No need to believe that there are journalists and editors sympathetic to the cause of internet freedom.

Wah lan! If pigs can fly, what next? S’poreans protest M’sian, Hongkie style? Or PritamS stops putting his foot in his mouth? After all Auntie is getting garang. No longer being contented to talk to the govt behind closed doors, like PAP MPs.

One thing’s sure, the MDA regulations will not be “tweaked”, in favour of freedom. This is S’pore where one of Harry’s Hard Truth is that the more unpopular a govt measure, the more brownie points a minister and his civil servants get. The more brownie points, the bigger the bonuses, and the ability to buy more $5m-$10m apartments from a TLC.

MoM’s g-string is showing

In Political governance on 07/06/2013 at 5:55 am

“The regulations deal with news sites. It doesn’t encompass blogs but would some blogs become news sites, and if they evolve to become news sites, I think that is something that we need to look at. As a broad principle, it is meant to cover those reporting news. Individual blogs, commentaries — that remains open,” Tan Chuan Jin.

Pooh Bear (“the bear with the little brain”, no, not Tin Peh Ling), and surely Bertha Henson and Arun Mahizhnan, or even me, can make out a intellectually honest and rational case in support of the distinction; a very traditional concept in the Anglo-American media world.

The Guardian newspaper in the UK (almost looney left: “Tories are evil and stupid” ) has two related mantras “Facts are sacred”, “Comment is free”, that encapsulate what the minister is saying: there is a distinction between news and commentary. The BBC and American media adhere almost religiously (in the case of the Americans) to this very traditional concept in their coverage. However, UK papers (even the Guardian) increasingly tend to mix facts with analysis and commentary: so does Fox News.

Problem with the distinction that Tan Chuan-Jin attempts to draw between blogs and news doesn’t take into account  Yaacob’s definition of a “Singapore news programme”, which is defined so widely as to cover any material to do with Singapore, not juz “newsa”. The definition of “Singapore news programmes” includes “any programme containing any news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of Singapore,” though “does not include any programme produced by or on behalf of the government.”

So my blogging about gardens in the sky would meet the above definition of “Singapore news programme”, if the authorities wanted to include said article or topic under the definition.

It’s what they want to catch (at any one time) that matters, and should be of concern to every S’porean and FT.

Another way of putting it is that the “news” on S’pore that MoM is talking about is not the same as “Singapore news programme”. There is a serious disconnect between the two terms. And he should know it.

As MoM is the govt’s point man on presenting the “right”  perspective on controversial issues, and one of the next generation of potential PMs (eat yr heart out non-Chinese rooting for Tharman), why was he badly briefed by Yaacob & MDA? Could it be that the chairman and CEO of the MDA were distracted* by what is happening to interest rates and property prices in the light of weak equity and bond markets?

Or is MoM being saboed?

——

*They each bought $5-10m apartments recently

Answering the PAP’s cock & bull about the “long term”

In Political governance on 05/06/2013 at 5:08 am

The head of the civil service’s defence of the infamous population white paper and the long game the PAP govt is playing over how to control the new media (http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/06/04/the-real-reason-behind-the-internet-crackdown/) reminded me that the PM, other PAPpies and their allies love to talk of the PAP (and allies)  being the only ones that think long term, and that only they can protect future generations, because only they dare take the unpopular decisions (Like allowing FTs to flood into S’pore while limiting the places in local unis for locals?).

No, the retort is not to say, like Lord Keynes,”In the long run we are all dead”.

No the retort is that long-term planning and decision-making must proceed with a clear understanding of the trade-offs between current and future generations. Thinking of the children does not spare one from considering the present needs of the hungry, sick and elderly.*

Let me explain what is meant.

Doesn’t: The Republican [looney right wing tea drinkers] line on fiscal policy is that it is unconscionable to saddle Americans’ children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt.

Only a gutsy, enlightened steward has the wisdom to thwart a future threat to the nation’s well-being by biting the bullet and calling for short-term pain to promote long-term gain. Only a statesman is equipped to make the tough decisions to set the country on a better course.

sound something that our PM or any PAPpy minister from our rational “left of centre” cabinet would say?

Here’s the crushing rejoinder:

But there are philosophical and empirical complexities at play in the “protect future generations!” line of reasoning. If we could avoid bigger trouble in the long run by assuming short-term hardships now, should we? Well, the answer depends on how dire things look in the long run, how much hardship is necessary to avert disaster, and how certain we are that the strategy will in fact work out in the nation’s favour. It would be irrational to opt for certain, indefinite-term pain now to purchase an unspecified amount of theoretical gain later. In any case, the moral calculation is quite a bit more involved than [what the PAP would say**] Government owes a duty to future generations, but it has a duty toward individuals living today as well: it would be perverse to aim to quell the indebtedness of Americans coming of age in 2050 by cutting food stamps for hungry children today.

The pursuit of solvency must proceed with a clear understanding of the trade-offs between current and future generations. Thinking of the children does not spare one from considering the present needs of the hungry, sick and elderly.[From Economist blog]

This idea of trade-offs is nothing new. When I studied the law on trusts, there were tomes of cases on the duties of trustees when deciding whether to cut trees belonging to a trust. The income beneficiaries wanted the trees cut so that they could get the income; against them were those who were not yet income beneficiaries. They didn’t want the trees cut, and the capital “squandered”: cutting the trees now would affect their income from the estate in the future. The trustees often found themselves in the Court of Chancery when one side or other was unhappy.

—-

*As Uncle Leong could have pointed out here,  thinking. planning and implementing policies didn’t do much for the average S’porean: low growth, wages and productivity, with high household debt and inflation.

**My addition to make it easier to follow the reasoning.

Swiss & S’poreans share a concern

In Economy, Political governance on 03/06/2013 at 5:51 am

The number of foreigners in Switzerland stands at almost 25%* … and while many Swiss accept their labour market needs foreign workers, they are unhappy about rising house prices or overcrowded schools.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22738774

Fee-fi-fo-fum, the Swiss sound like us S’poreans.

Are they xenophobic? I’m sure our constructive, nation-building media would say they are. Juz as the PAP-stream media would agree with Gordon  Brown, the then UK PM, that this lady’s a “bigot” for being concerned about immigration. He lost a general election and his party has apologised for its immigration policies.

As the above link shows, a Swiss opposition has gained votes by articulating the public’s concerns. Maybe an idea for our opposition parties. But then the Wayang Party wants to be a co-driver, the SDP doesn’t do xenophobe, and NSP stands for “No Substance Party”. Over to you Mrs Chiam.

She shows what an opposition party is meant to do.

—-

*38% here including PRs. Remember PRs here are not “permanent”: renewable, like 99-leases and COEs.

While narcissistic netizens navel gaze, TLC pays $8m for FT’s housing

In Humour, Political governance on 02/06/2013 at 6:25 pm

On Thursday, ST published a front page headline that would have had “the usual suspects” bitching loudly at a TLC for wasting $ on an ang moh FT. The usual suspects ignored the issue because they were (and, sadly, still are) narcissistically looking at their reflections on their flat panel tv screens, while bawling, raving and ranting that Yaacob was (and still is) “snatching* their toys, when he did (does) no such thing*.

Back to the FT story: ST reported that a TLC had spent $8m on accommodation for an ang moh FT. Sometime back when the same TLC spent $1m on accommodating two PRC FT PRs, TRE readers and some prominent bloggers were screaming their heads off: these two PRC FT PRs getting the VIP treatment while S’poreans had to pay a few hundred thousand dollars for a three-room HDB flat.

When two pandas came here, the verbal knives of many netizens were out for the zoo for spending $1 million for their accommodation. But when ST announced that an ang moh polar bear, Inuka, had got a $8m play pen, no-one said anything.

Ang moh tua kee? Maybe, because the usual suspects buy into fashionable ang mog ideas, like freedom of the media, free speech, LGBT rights, anal sex, minimum wages, welfare, decent working conditions, free and fair and unrigged elections, accountability etc etc.

Or, as is more likely, they, like PM, but apparently unlike Auntie Sylvia, cannot multi-task?

The one that must be really feeling low and depressed must be Danny the teh-tarik loving SDP bear. He did his NS but unlike these FT bears, he has to borrow money to pay for his 99-yr “bare necessities, no-frills”cave in the sky, while they get VIP caves free.

I wish those calling for the blackout and protest the best of luck. Even though I disagree with them no the need of such actions for now, or even the need to kick up a fuss for now, if less than 5000 turn up at the protest, and only a few sites observe the blackout, the govt will think it has got the measure of the new media here: all noise and dogmatic, cannot organise an orgy in a brothel and popular support. This attitude will not be gd for S’pore. The new media, like water, should not be underestimated: it can be a raging torrent.

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” (Las Tzu)

Related Panda posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/better-visit-the-pandas-quickly/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/fts-i-want-here/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/another-cute-pandas-pix/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/great-panda-pixs/

—–

*He hasn’t, though he has created a framework that the govt thinks will enable the govt to control or channel new media. He is only warning them that he has the legal means of snatching their toys, so don’t be qua lan or garang like the M’sian FT protestors or PRC strikers.

One of these days, maybe, on the day of proposed blackout, I’ll blog on why Yaacob is an underrated water engineer, 50-year floods twice in two months, notwithstanding. Go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6964281.stm and click on the exhibit at the bottom of the page. It illustrates what the British will do when the Thames’ waters rise dangerously high: barriers rise from beneath the river’s surface. Likewise, Yaacob’s rules will do the same when the “noise” levels gets dangerously high. In the meantime, our internet flows on, like the Thames. The measures’ effectiveness are debatable given that the new media has been likened to water.

And maybe, I’ll blog on why the blackout and protests are rotten ideas: so PAPpish and old-fashioned. And I tot the usual suspects are anti-PAP and in the vanguard of doing things differently.

Lao Tzu on Yaacob’s regulations

In Political governance on 31/05/2013 at 5:19 am

As Yaacob was the water minister that presided over two fifty-year floods in two months, and now as info minister has juz issued regulations governing new media (which has been likened to water), I tot I’d cheer upset netizens up with this quote from the Tao Te Ching:“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Relax boys and gals. Don’t need to bawl and scream because yr favourite toy is taken away and broken, or that you kanna played-out by the govt, a govt many of you curse, despise and mistrust.

Be complacent: new media like water will find a way through. Juz be prepared to change, or adapt if your blog has 50,000 unique visitors a month. And if you don’t (like me) have that number, nothing has changed.

Stop raving, ranting and bawling. You only make PAPpies feel shiok.

Have a gd weekend instead.

And before I forget: the Media Development Authority’s comment that the new rules would bring news sites onto “a more consistent regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually licensed”,  reminded me of the late 19th and early 20th century traffic rules that required a man with a red flag to walk ahead of any “horseless carriage”. Presumably, this was to ensure that the speed of these carriages were “more consistent” with the speeds of horse-drawn carriages.

We know what happened. So, no need to get emotional or irrational. Juz be complacent, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Town Council Debate: Cocks posturing & preening

In Political governance on 22/05/2013 at 5:30 am

Yes,yes Aunties’s not a cock but she sure behaved like Khaw and  Dr Teo. All these three, and the other supporting speakers didn’t try to bother to explain what the facts were. They juz tried to slime the other side, hoping that some mud would stick. No one drew blood.

I won’t bother to go into detail critcising what the PAPpies said as Sg Daily has done a gd job over the last few days providing links to a critique of the PAP’s position and its attacks on the WP. All I will say is that it confirms my view, many yrs ago, that the idea of town councils would come to haunt the PAP. It wasn’t even a gd idea at the time. Ah well, another black mark to Goh Chok Tong and one Lee Hsien Loong and their team.

I’ll juz make some points about what I found astounding about the WP’s position and netizens’ views.

I find it really strange that the WP thinks its OK for it to give a contract to its supporters but that it is wrong for the PAP to give a contract to a PAP linked company. The distinction escapes me. To me, “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”. (Deng Xiaopin).

The other point is Auntie telling Dr Teo to report the WP to the CPIB if he had evidence of wrong-doing. Err Auntie, why so more PAP than the PAP? Imagine if when Auntie first made her allegations, those many noons ago, the PAP had said the same to her. I mean she, WP and netizens would be bitching at the PAP for trying to hide something. And rightly so. So why like that Auntie?

Which brings me to the point that netizens are so anti-PAP that they unthinkingly cheer the WP’s position on

– it’s OK to give contracts to supporters, but not party-affiliated organisations; and

– trying to win the argument by telling other side to report the matter to the CPIB.

While the PAP has the 120% support of the constructive, nation-building media, netizens are 99.9% anti-PAP. Here’s a tot for the PAP: if the local media were less servile to the PAP, would the internet be a less hostile place to the PAP. Could the hostile environment on the internet be a reaction to the power of the PAP over the local media.

To end, it would be nice if both sides respected the other side so that we the public can learn the truth of the allegations. Here’s an interesting excerpt on the benefits of respecting one’s opponent, though the author readily admits it’s damned difficult,:

Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent? If there are obvious contradictions in the opponent’s case, then you should point them out, forcefully. If there are somewhat hidden contradictions, you should carefully expose them to view – and then dump on them. But the search for hidden contradictions often crosses the line into nitpicking, sea-lawyering and outright parody. The thrill of the chase and the conviction that your opponent has to be harbouring a confusion somewhere encourages uncharitable interpretation, which gives you an easy target to attack.

But such easy targets are typically irrelevant to the real issues at stake and simply waste everybody’s time and patience, even if they give amusement to your supporters. The best antidote I know for this tendency to caricature one’s opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

One immediate effect of following these rules is that your targets will be a receptive audience for your criticism: you have already shown that you understand their positions as well as they do, and have demonstrated good judgment (you agree with them on some important matters and have even been persuaded by something they said). Following Rapoport’s rules is always, for me, something of a struggle…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/19/daniel-dennett-intuition-pumps-thinking-extract

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