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Archive for the ‘Political governance’ Category

EPL vote buying?

In Footie, Political governance, Public Administration on 28/01/2014 at 5:53 am

(Or How PAP is connecting with S’poreans without the anti-PAP paper warriors noticing)

Football fans on Saturday evening indulged in free screenings of the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at community clubs across Singapore.

At Yio Chu Kang Community Club, some 20 fans turned up at the beginning of the match at 8.45pm.

More spectators gradually streamed in as the match progressed.

It seemed residents simply relished the chance to catch the game without having to pay anything.

One of the spectators said: “It’s because of the ridiculously expensive prices that one has to pay to watch English football these days and I also have a bit of time to kill.”

The screening of the match was opportunity to build communal bonds through the platform of shared spectatorship.(CNA three/ Sundays ago)

Err more like trying to tell people that find it expensive to subscribe to SingTel’s EPL package that the PA PAP are making sure that the high cost of watching EPL is mitigated, and come GE2015/2016, vote PAP.

All those TRE and TOC reaaders, and other anti-PAP paper activists be frustrated, very frustrated. Soon, the clubs will be showing games when United, Sity, Gooners and Chelsea play one another, not juz uninteresting games.

But if not for me, our intellectual paper warriors would be clueless on this PAP move (has anyone blogged or commented on this piece of news?. The said kay pohs (and their readership in TRE, TOC) don’t watch footie, and are still fighting GE 2011. Guys, the PAP is moving on for GE 2015.

The new approach is to show voters the PAP cares: even in WP areas http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/pa-reaches-out-wp-wards-17-projects.

Wonder if SingTel will allow the WP town council to screen such matches too, or only restricted to PAP PA venues? Sadly WP MPs won’t even bother asking: too busy looking at their bank statements. They too wear white.

But all is not lost. The usual tua kee blogging suspects should remind S’poreans that watching EPL is expensibe ’cause

– two TLCs (SingTel and StarHub) out into a bidding war for the EPL rights;

– the PAP’s govt competition rules made this possible, may inevitable. Tot competition riles were to keep prices down?

A PAP MP on the need to lose dignity to get $50 vouchers

In Political governance on 20/01/2014 at 5:00 am

Last year, the Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC), among other things, proposed that public transport operators be required to contribute to the Public Transport Fund to help needy households when fares are adjusted, as a way of “sharing” their gains with commuters, it said. This could range from 20% t to 50% of the expected increase in fare revenue, depending on profitability, Presumably it would then issue vouchers for distribution to the needy poor.

I was reminded of  the proposal when I read, The thing is, the G talks about public transport vouchers again. Now if I remember correctly, hundreds of vouchers in the past hadn’t even been taken up…Either people really don’t need them – or there wasn’t a good plan to get them to the needy. Perhaps, that should be fixed first. http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2014/

The proposed fund in turn reminded me that one Charles Chong in the  early noughtie said the needy should be made to lose their dignity to get $50 help vouchers.

This is what I posted in 2011

I hear Charles Chong will speak in parliament tomorrow. Doubtless he will talk about helping the needy*. It’s the in- thing in the PAP to want to help the needy. (This is of progress of sorts. Only recently, Lily Neo was berated and sneered at by VivianB for asking for more help for the poor. When that happened, I tot of Oliver Twist asking for more food and being beaten for his pains.)

But I would like to ask Charles Chong, “Must a needy S’porean still lose his dignity for a $30 voucher?”.

Let me explain the background by winding the watch back some years.

In the early noughties, when S’pore was in a recession or recovering from one, one Charles Chong said, “We shouldn’t…be telling everyone that there’s this help available. It’s quite a process to go through to get the vouchers. A person with dignity won’t do it unless he’s in genuine trouble.” Charles Chong was explaining his (and some other PAP MPs’) reluctance to distribute free electricity vouchers on the ground that giving these to the needy would create a culture of dependence.

After reading this remark, I began to have serious problems with the attitude of the governing party. (Previously I had been indifferent to the PAP, even though before 1991, I was a “LKY is almost always right” and “LKY has his heart in the right place” person.)

This remark of Charles Chong also prompted a writer to MediaCorp’s freesheet to ask,”Can a Singaporean no longer lend a hand … without being accused of encouraging a crutch mentality? Aren’t we allowed to feel compassion for another? …cannot use for any other purpose except to pay your utility bill. There is no need to make people beg for that.”

I don’t recall the government or Charles Chong responding to this letter …

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/question-for-charles-chong/)

Will Kee Cui tell us that the PAP govt repudiate such an attitude today? Will Charles Chong say “It was an honest mistake?”.

For the record, Charles Chong is my MP. As readers will know, I’ve always voted WP all my life. But even if JJ stands for the WP, I’m likely to be on hols next GE. Charles Chong and the WP makes me want to puke**. My wish i9s that the SDP stands in Joo Chiat in place of WP, with JJ as its candidate. Yah, I typival S’porean: want cake and eat it too, all of it.

Let’s not be fooled into believing that the PM, cabinet ministers,  and PAP and WP MPs and  get out of bed in the morning to help the working poor. I would exempt Lily Neo and Halimah Yaacob and possibly Kee Chui from the last sentence.

Maybe, anti-PAP paper activists including readers of TOC and TRE should remind Charles Chong and voters that he said,“We shouldn’t…be telling everyone that there’s this help available. It’s quite a process to go through to get the vouchers. A person with dignity won’t do it unless he’s in genuine trouble.”

If this turned me against the PAP’s policies, it might turn others too. Or remind wavering anti-PAP S’poreans why they are right not to trust the PAP.

—-

*He did. speak of helping the needy. Funnily he didn’t say that they should be made to crawl on their knees to get help. But then he only won by 300 votes in GE2011, and the PAP only got 60% of the popular vote.

**In its election manifesto WP called for public tpt nationalisation, something Low reaffirmed after the Punggol East victory. Now, “The WP believes that public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit” And if we help it be a kingmaker in the next GE. will it play us out and support the PAP, Hard Truths and all? Remember PritamS’s comments on coalition with the PAP juz after the voters of Aljunied gave WP a gd majority. He slapped us in the face, not the PAP, driver. Low only slapped Singh’s wrist.

Jos double confirms that govt doesn’t plan for S’poreans

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 17/01/2014 at 4:44 am

A TOC reader highlighted this bit of ST’s interview with Talk Cock Queen Jos http://www.singapolitics.sg/supperclub/josephine-teo-%E2%80%98free-mrt-rides-has-allowed-lifestyle-change%E2%80%99

Q: You lead the committee for Changi Airport’s expansion. Is it expanding fast enough? Our aviation correspondent said given the projections, Changi Airport could be operating at more than 90 per cent capacity (in the few years before Terminal 5 opens).

A:We’re still building ahead of demand. When you plan airport handling capacity, you also plan with a service standard in mind.>

The person then commented: “Apparently, there’s no need to build ahead of demand for housing, local tpt & medical needs (remember the hospital crunch) OR is it NEW PAP don’t plan with a service standard in mind> when it comes to population needs?”

For the record, I had blogged in 2012  about the lack of planning when it came to immigration

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/integrating-fts-its-our-problem-now-contd/

and in 2011 on the difference between the difference approaches taken as regards the airport and public tpt http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/why-are-trains-overcrowded-but-not-the-port-or-airport/

PM should give her another tight slap for spilling for double confirming that PAP thinks we are “second class”, not “first class” like foreigners even though 60-70% of S’porean voters support the PAP.

Taz in addition to insulting his dad.

BTW, I hope readers noticed that LTA gave her (its boss, remember she senior jnr transport minister) a hard kick in her behind. In the above link, I said she refused to concede that inadequate signage contributed to the congestion on the MCE (and bad PR for the govt). Yesterday it was reported: “Two weeks after the opening of the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday acknowledged it could have done more in terms of pre-publicity and putting up more signs to get motorists familiar with the new expressway and the surrounding road network.” (Today)

Hey PM, even her subordinates getting annoyed with this NUT NTUC person?

Maybe she could serve S’pore (and the PAP)  better by having a fourth child? She had said if she hadn’t entered politics, she’d have a fourth child. One more baby, one less FT.

Jos keeps on talking cock

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 14/01/2014 at 4:52 am

“We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One. If we go in with that attitude, it can only mean that we have to build in a lot of redundancy.” - Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Transport.

As someone who once upon a time reported directly to people who reported directly to LKY and Dr Goh, I can safely say that they all expected things to be perfect from Day 1. So now Ms Teo implying  that because of their exacting standards, they were encouraging inefficiencies and wastefulness?

Even before he is dead, LKY gets slimed? Son should give Jos a tight slap to show his filial piety this CNY. Co-driver too busy looking at bank statements and feeling happy.

Seriously, the govt should stop giving excuses for a simple cock-up: it should simply admit that it was an honest mistake by civil servants who didn’t drive because they couldn’t afford the COEs. Insufficient signs were put up as I explained here and this was a major source of the problem.

(Pic from TRE)

Waz interesting is that even now she refuses to concede that there were insufficient signs:

Q: After the jam, more signs and advertisements on the routes came up. Why not earlier?

I once got a speeding ticket (in Singapore) and was adamant there was no signage (for speed limit). I had driven on this road umpteen times. I thought: “Never mind. Tomorrow I’ll pay attention.” True enough, I saw the sign. Sometimes we don’t notice (the signs) because we don’t need them.

You can always have more (signs and advertisements). But you have to be interested.(http://www.singapolitics.sg/supperclub/josephine-teo-%E2%80%98free-mrt-rides-has-allowed-lifestyle-change%E2%80%99)

Here’s a great comment from TOC’s facebook in response to her remarks about redundancy:

Tremendous time/effort would be incurred when trying to rectify a flawed design/system. Doing it right the first time is critical. A good design is the result of thorough research/ consultation/ brainstorming and that will ensure the success of the project. eg. years ago, woody goh said handicap people should stay away from travelling for safety reason, now we have to retrofit busses/MRT stations for wheel chair access. same for HDB flat, now installing lifts on every floor and the whole project takes decades to complete, what if the HDB architechs had done that in the first place? zero effort for wheel chair access! Our MRT trains adopted designed with 6 carriages while HK MTR already up and running and uses 8 carriages. We could have learnt from HK, instead, we choose ONLY 6 carriages. Now we are flooded with immigrants over crowding the transport system but we are handicapped in increasing the MRT stations capacity by using 8 carriages and must go for the stupid solution of changing the signaling system to cut down only 20 sec peak frequency. using tens of millions and takes 5 years or more to do it. Now who is the stupid one? which way is more cost effective?

BTW, notice that NTUC MPs were, are a bunch of cocks (the exception is Halimah). Think Jos, Lims ( Cheap Zorro, Cry Baby), Hard of hearing Han, Irene the Whiner, Choo the criminal and racist, BG Yeo’s MP from Hell (Cynthia) and NMP Terry Lee.

Related posts:

Jos: Talk Cock Queen

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/jos-too-is-talking-cock/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/reputations-be-mean-laugh/

Jos: Empress Dowager of Bishan East

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/thanks-jos-for-giving-nishan-east-residents-another-reason-not-to-support-the-pap/

Cost benefit analysis: PAP govt underestimating the value of human life?

In Economy, Financial competency, Political economy, Political governance on 12/01/2014 at 6:27 am

I came across this in the latest copy of the Economist in the letters section:

Petty’s cash ledger

SIR – You credited William Petty with inventing economics in the 17th century, but did not do full justice to his cost-benefit calculations (Free exchange, December 21st). The good doctor estimated the value of a person to be somewhere between £60-90 and in “Political Arithmetick” he suggested these values could be used “to compute the loss we have sustained” from the plague and war. In 1667 he argued that given the value of an individual and the cost of transporting people away from the plague in London and caring for them, every pound spent would yield a return of £84 as the probability of survival increased. (He also suggested that an individual in England was worth £90, and in Ireland £70.)

In a lecture on anatomy in 1676 Petty argued that the state should intervene to assure better medicine, which could save 200,000 subjects a year and thus represented a sensible state expenditure. Today’s economic estimates are more refined and the data are more exact, but the arguments presented by Petty still resonate in public policy.

Rashi Fein
Professor emeritus of the economics of medicine
Harvard Medical School

This set me thinking that since the govt is forever touting the importance of costing out the benefits of any spending proposal (something I agree with), maybe it should tell us how much it values a S’porean in monetary terms? Esp since the PM has just said that that more social spending does not mean better results http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/11/like-a-war-zone/

As pigs are likely to fly first maybe the SDP RI brains trust (Paul A, Wee Nam, Ang -Drs three- etc) can  “force” the govt to do so by coming up with their own SDP valuation, and what they calculate is the PAP valuation.

As to the co driver doing something? They wearing white?

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/why-a-2015-ge-is-now-more-probable/

Govt’s mistakes, S’poreans blamed

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 10/01/2014 at 4:42 am

Twice in three days, S’poreans get blamed by the PAP for govt mistakes.

The traffic snarls on the Marina Coastal Expressway’s (MCE) first day of operations occurred as motorists were unfamiliar with the newly opened highway, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew. (MediaCorp 7th January)

I see this this as Lui shifting the blame to motorists using the MCE for the initial congestion problems on the MCE for what a user (at 11 am on the Monday day, so he had plenty of time to observe his surroundings) told me was a failure by tpt officials: “There is only one sign indicating the first exit into the city. One would have tot that based on the signage used on other expressways, there would be signs saying ‘Exit to X, 100m’ etc at regular intervals.” As the media reports a lot more signage going up since I heard this comment, I assume this problem has been fixed. And that this is the source of the problem.

If additional signage was required, then it wasn’t only the fault of daft S’poreans, was it minister?

Then there is the problem of a shortage of hospital beds. Dr Chia Shi Lu, who is a MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, said the shortage of hospital beds is “due to holiday season”, effectively saying that it’s the fault of S’poreans who rather not be discharged.

The facts? From a medical professor albeit a SDP member:

– This is a perennial problem and unfortunately is a result of funding policies which are very hospital-centric. It has become something that doctors in the public sector have become accustomed to

“In my opinion, the obvious reason for the beds’ crunch, may to the best of my knowledge, has never been highlighted in the media – that the total number of hospital beds in Singapore has seen zero increase over at least the last 12 years or so, despite an increase in the population by more than 1 million.”  http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/01/interview-with-dr-paul-on-the-bed-crunch-issue-in-public-hospitals/

And Uncle Leong has been beating the drum of a shortage of hospital beds for several yrs: “In my opinion, the obvious reason for the beds’ crunch, may to the best of my knowledge, has never been highlighted in the media – that the total number of hospital beds in Singapore has seen zero increase over at least the last 12 years or so, despite an increase in the population by more than 1 million.” (This quote appeared very recently)

Looks like among the PAP’s new yr resolutions, there isn’t one one changing the Hard Truth, “The PAP is never wrong. It’s always the fault of daft S’poreans”. Seriously, it’s so typical of the PAP: blame S’poreans for an thing that could imply that the PAP govt is less than perfect. What next? PM blaming S’poreans* for the recent riot?

And this comes from me, who after the MCE operated smoothly after the addition of a few signs sent an email entitled: “Can’t help thinking of you guys )))” to a few of the usual “PAP are bastards” paper activists who had been yelling their heads over MCE, attaching this from TRE:http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/04/bang-balls-to-tre-whiners-mce-traffic-is-smooth-now/

*Actually he can, the driver of the bus that killed the migrant worker was “a S’porea resident”. He could be a PR from M’sia though. Name definitely not PRC name.

 

Dr M, like one LKY, is losing his memory

In Malaysia, Political economy, Political governance on 31/12/2013 at 4:46 am

(There is some analysis of what one LKY said tagged on at the end but yes it’s analysis about M’sia week (previous) ).

Going by this extract from BT, seems that Dr M has forgotten that there was almost no money left in the Treasury when he stepped down.

FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Putrajaya should cut its own costs before burdening the public with higher taxes and tariffs.

It was his first public comment on what has fast become a contentious issue among Malaysians: an increasing cost of living that is set to escalate in 2014.

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Yes, yes, I know Badawi accused him of over-spending. But the fact that Badawi and now Najib are having to cut back govt spending shows that Dr M overspent when he was in power. Sadly this never happened here. If only GCT had spent more, LHL, would not be in so much shit. But don’t pity PM: he was DPM then, and in charge of economical and financial matters.

Coming back to Dr M. We can’t be too hard on him given that one LKY said that S’pore was a “barren rock” before the PAP took power. He must have got HK in mind when the British seized HK from the Chinese. I’ll let a HK official tell the story, It was on this day, January 20 in 1841 that a treaty was signed ceding Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

 To cut a long story short, Captain Charles Elliot of the British Royal Navy had negotiated the terms of the agreement and reported them to Lord Palmerston who was then the Foreign Secretary in London.

Lord Palmerston was outraged that Britain had got such a raw end of the deal. He promptly dismissed Captain Elliot from his post and famously declared that Hong Kong was, and I quote: “A barren rock with nary a house upon it. It will never be a mart for trade.”

S’pore as all TRE readers will be able to tell you was the second most important port in Asia, though they may not tell you (because they may not know)  that it had problems, problems  outlined below*.

LKY would have been on safer ground if he had told S’poreans what might have happened if S’pore had gotten bad govt (like in Burma). But then S’poreans could rightly have asked if there were credible alternatives. The answer to that is not so obvious and detracts from the narrative that the PAP made S’pore. It didn’t: S’poreans of my parents’ generation made  modernS’pore on the colonial foundation. The PAP helped in the making.

*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/

Why democracy is not a Hard Truth

In Political governance on 30/12/2013 at 6:29 am

I juz came across this quote from the novelist EM Forster who gave two cheers for democracy: “One because it admits variety, and two because it permits criticism.”. Need I say more on why the PAP doesn’t do democracy?  It doesn’t like variety or criticism. and 60% of S’poreans like it that way. What more can I say? Except that those who want the PAP out have four five choices;

– sit down and shut up;

– be prepared to persuade at least 11% more of voters to join the 40% (actually maybe even more, maybe 24% of the voters, see why here);

– turn to revolution;

– despair and “move on” overseas (BTW, ESM’s daughter is overseas though she’s no “quitter” it seems: LKY’s children are still here by contrast); or

– bitch online (TRE, TOC posters and many Facebookers seem to prefer this option).

BTW, the quote (from a 1938 essay) goes on, “Two cheers are quite enough. There is no occasion to give three.” Forster, according to John Gray, a political philisopher,”thought that no political system – not even democracy – should be turned into an icon. What mattered, he thought, was that individuals should have the chance to live as best they can.”. If anyone is interested, here is John Gray on why  “Human rights are important, but they will never be a solution to ending conflict”. Our HR kay pohs should read it and draw lessons on how they go about rights advocacy here. Example: Human rights have two large virtues – they empower us against governments, and anyone can claim them. If we have rights we needn’t approach power on our knees, as supplicants begging for favours. We can demand that our freedoms be respected. And it doesn’t matter who governs us. Human rights can be invoked wherever they exist.

Can I ask the SDP member who follows this blog to pls pass on this message to all his HR kay poh friends and his party members. They tend to talk about HR in abstract terms allowing the PAPPies cheap, easy, and unnecessary victories.

Pls spare migrant workers pennies from the $2.5bn++ they “gift” S’pore

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 27/12/2013 at 4:30 am

(This is a follow-up to this on how Santa 2.0, the govt and Scrooge are related.)

TOC’s Terry Xu commented on Facebook a few days ago: The total foreign worker levies collected were S$2.5 billion for the Financial Year 2011 and S$1.9 billion for the Financial Year 2010. Similar to other sources of Government revenue, the foreign worker levies are not ringfenced for any specific purposes. All Government revenue collected would go into the Consolidated Fund used to fund Government expenditures in general.”

And it goes up even more in the year 2012, 2013 given that there are more workers and that the levies have increased since then … (Thanks Terry for this info. I’d been meaning to check up the quantum and use of the levies, but never got round to googling)

This means the govt can do more, a lot more, to ensure that these workers have better living and work environments, and are not exploited (This is how bad things can be: http://www.lianainfilms.com/2013/12/the-singapore-way/), without increasing the tax burden on S’poreans and others living here, or on the workers’ employers, and biz in general.

Surely some of this money can be used to set-up a medical insurance fund and a general welfare fund for these workers? Surplus for our SWFs to use to place bets on juz a bit smaller. True, we pay them wages but those wages are off-set by the Hard Truth that if they were not available, we’d be paying serious money to get workers or robots to do what they are currently doing for “peanuts”.

But I would like to remind the activists that there are worse places that migrant workers are willing to go to.

A November report produced by Amnesty International, the British-based rights group, found the Qatari construction industry to be “rife with abuse”, including forced labour and virtual slavery. Workers complained that their salaries were half what they were promised, or that they had not been paid at all for months. Others said their wages had been docked for taking five-minute breaks during 18-hour shifts in the searing summer heat. Sponsors routinely confiscate their employees’ passports, preventing them from changing jobs or leaving the country. In the most extreme cases, workers have paid with their lives: this summer 44 Nepalese migrants died in two months from heart failure or work-related accidents. The International Trade Union Confederation warns that as many as 4,000 labourers could perish during the next nine years of construction.

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/gametheory/2013/12/football-and-labour-rights-qatar)

I’m not using the fact that are are worse places than S’pore to defend the S’pore Way: juz to try to put things in perspective. We are not “Swiss” enough, but we are not cruel slave masters, far from it. Interestingly, about 10 yrs I met an Iraqi who was working in ST. We got talking and somehow touched on employer/ employee relations: and he reminded me that the people of the Gulf had only stopped owning slaves legally in the early 20th century, and that there was a slave, master mentality there even in 2003.

Workfair and Maruah should campaign for the use of some of the $2.5bn to be used to provide medical insurance and other benefits, not against the deportation without, what they claim, is due process. I’ll blog on the deportation issue next week.

Ho Ho Ho: Santa = S’pore govt = Scrooge?

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 26/12/2013 at 5:54 am

Santa’s critics note that higher profits and productivity have not resulted in higher pay for the elves. They were seeing their real incomes squeezed even before the Fairy Tale of Wall Street had an unhappy ending in 2008, and then took pay cuts rather than lose their jobs. With welfare being cut, most plumped for a job over the dole even if it meant a cut in living standards.

Santa accepts that the workforce has made sacrifices. But he insists these are vital to keep the company going at a time of cut-throat global competition. The elves have to understand, he adds, that the alternative to zero-hour contracts and pay cuts would be that the jobs would be outsourced from Lapland to a lower-cost grotto in the far east.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2013/dec/22/santa-elves-living-standards-surveillance

Doesn’t Santa sound like PM or his dad or VivianB or “cheaper, faster” Zorro  etc? I’m so confident that readers will agree that I wouldn’t give examples. This isn’t ST.

As to Scrooge, this is how Dickens described Scrooge before Scrooge repented and became a Dr Chee type of person (actually better than Mad Dog  as Scrooge had his personal wealth to spend on the poor, Dr Chee is depending on our reserves and higher taxes)

“Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.”

“Even the blindmen’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, ‘No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

Mean of Dickens? Scrooge when asked for donations for the poor, “There are many things which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited” and  “Are there no prisons?”. Sounds very much like our very own VivianB when he was welfare minister?

Merry Christmas.

From the wearing of tudung to single mums, govt always got excuse to do what it wants to do

In Political governance on 18/12/2013 at 5:52 am

A few weeks ago, there was a media report that Halimah Yacob, our tudung-wearing Parllimentary Speaker, had said at a NUS forum that the govt could only help unwedded mothers more only to the extent that society allowed it to: implying, to me, that the govt wanted to offer more help but couldn’t because of societal constraints. How convenient, I tot, to blame the views of society for not doing the right thing by the children of the mums.

Funnily, earlier this year, when there was a call to allow the use of the tudung in the uniformed services, the Malay minister mumbled that it was a complex issue*. The govt could have said “Yes. Society has accepted the wearing of the tudung in public”. After all, it’s a common sight in govt offices, and official spaces where the public is served by un-uniformed staff. It’s common in the private sector, even when uniforms are used. Contrast that with the time when Ms Yacob was in NUS Law School. She wore the tudung but it wasn’t a common sight on campus or in public.

Given the complexities of S’pore’s mix of cultures, religions and ethnicities, one can understand the govt’s caution on the issue of allowing the use of the tudung in the uniformed services. This is compounded, by as I understand it, that the use of the tudung is not banned as such in the uniformed services. It is “banned” in the sense that what is not allowed is prohibited. Only Sikh men are allowed to have traditional headgear in the uniformed services.

The issue that the govt and we have to be wary about is changing the existing rules in a secular society when religious practices  have “moved on” even though secular society here does not have a problem with accepting the said practice. We have to avoid unintended consequences i.e. fear the “unknown unknowns”**.

But, based on the comment that more help for unwedded mums depended on society’s views of their status, made by a lady who always wears a tudung in public even when presiding in parliament I cannot help but feel, no matter how irrational the tot, that the govt is not interested in deciding whether to allow the tudung to be used in the uniformed services. It’s muttering that the issue is complex is an excuse not to make a decision, any decision.

I raise the tudung issue because of something I read recently.

In the UK, there was a public row when Universities UK (UUK) said that, under some circumstances, segregated seating would be allowed if requested by speakers from orthodox religious groups. It now seems that UUK has withdrawn that “advice”.  Below is an extract from the BBC on how commentators and newspapers see the row. Read it to see the ethical issues that can arise when thinking, discussing the ethics of religious freedom and social values.

Class apart

Discussing the papers for the BBC’s News Channel, Westminster editor of the Daily Record Torcuil Crichton said it was no surprise to see the Times reveal that Universities UK (UUK) had “folded” over its policy of allowing the segregation of men and women at certain Islamic events.

“It’s an interesting ethical argument,” he said, “You get religious freedom… but when that comes up against social values and social laws and the law of the land, for example on equality, something has to give and usually it’s the religion.”

Broadcaster and campaigner David Akinsanya agreed the policy had to be “quashed”, but added: “There are other areas within society where people are being segregated, within different communities in the country.”

The Sun says Britain’s universities have long been “the standard-bearers for free speech” – something that has only been achieved “by sticking rigidly to the principle of equality, irrespective of gender, race or religion”.

Linking the situation to that in South Africa, Graeme Archer, in the Daily Telegraph, says UUK “has given succour to injustice merchants whose politics are just as wicked as those who devised race-based apartheid”.

Lastly, in the Times itself, Janice Turner says the UUK ruling may have been defeated, “but the challenges to secular principles that enshrine equality will go on”. Gender segregation, the veiling of women, the push for sharia, all demonstrate, she writes, that “gender apartheid is not a sideshow of radical Islam, but intrinsic to it.”

*He great mumbler. Remember?

– “Worse case scenario” when one LKY said incorrect things about M– alays

– Floods that happen only once in every 50 yrs when they were happening every few months.

– People must get the “right” facts.

“*In Indonesia, where there is an ongoing flip-floping on the use of the tudung by policewomen:

You allow one [religious] symbol, what if other officers from other religions what to have their symbols [displayed on their uniforms] too?” asked Dr. Siti Musdah Mulia, a Muslim scholar and researcher on gender in Islam. “I think officers should never accentuate their [personal] identities.”

Pietri Dona, a 26-year-old police officer who works at the National Police’s communication department in Jakarta and is a Muslim, said that while she respects her fellow officers who want to wear headscarves, she felt that wearing the same uniforms is best, since allowing some officers to dress differently might create divisions in the police force.

http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2013/12/15/viewpoint-indonesias-headscarf-debate/

Why a 2015 GE is now more probable

In Economy, Political governance on 13/12/2013 at 6:03 am

(Note there is an update since first publication at the end to reflect the PAP’s calls for ideas on how to celebrate a coming 50th anniversary.)

I’ve been beating the DRUMS that 2014 is the last window that the govt can raise prices because the GE has to be held sometime in 2016 and raising prices in 2015 is too close for comfort. I’ve also been drumming that an election in 2015 is possible.

Well going by one report and one speech. last week,  an election in mid 2015 is  more than probable

The report: Singapore’s economic growth will stay strong in the next two years relative to the other countries in Asean, despite the cooling of China’s economic engine, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has predicted.

The independent consultancy said in its latest quarterly report that healthy increases in consumption and strong exports will boost Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.8 per cent this year.

Next year, strong momentum and greater demand will push up its economic growth to 4.1 per cent.

In the year after, 2015, Singapore’s growth will ease, but remain robust at 3.9 per cent, said the Cebr report entitled “Economic Insight, Southeast Asia”.

(http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/spore-economy-stay-pink-next-2-years-20131205)

The speech: Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing  said the PAP has to deliver a better life for Singaporeans during its term of government, and also convince the people that it is the best party to deliver beyond this term. He was addressing addressed 1,000 PAP members at the party’s annual gathering on Sunday morning.

He, who is also the PAP Organising Secretary, said the party will act to “deliver, enable and communicate”*.

(Aside, netizens are missing the point by focusing Chan’s call for party members to “continuously and strenuously defend the common space for people to speak up”.

“If we do not stand up for what we believe, other people will occupy that space and cast us into irrelevance. We must not concede the space – physical or cyber . . . We will have to do battle everywhere as necessary.” 

And netizens are not making hay that the FT rioters really listened to him, unlike Sheep, Singkies S’poreans)

So, returning to the issue of a GE in 2015, the ground is likely to be sweet in mid, late 2015. In addition to a decent economy (other Asean countries too will do well), S’poreans would have forgotten about the early 2014 price rises in public tpt etc, lulled by the goodies in the 2015 Budget, improving public tpt, steady HDB prices, and propaganda that the govt is no longer pro-FTs and that it cares for S’poreans.

On the last point, there will a lot of smoke about the need for FT manual workers for the infrastructure projects. Already an ex-ST editor (who is it is alleged had designs on the top job in ST) was quoted (singing for X’mas goodies?**) as saying,  “It will be tough for the (government) to fulfill its promises on infrastructure development without foreign manpower,” observed Singaporean blogger Bertha Henson. “And it would not make sense for citizens to advocate such a tightening of the tap that it compromises our own future.”. One of these days I’ll blog on why her first statement is an exaggeration, that is straight out of the PAP’s spin book.

Then after the GE, and PAP has its more than two-thirds majority, and its toilet-trained WP***, the balance, let rip the GST increase, price rises and resume the flood of FTs?

What can the paper warriors do to counter the paper generals? In late 2014, and in 2015, it is impt for S’pore Notes, TOC, TRE (if it hasn’t closed down in disgust at the failure of its ungrateful readers to fund its continued existence: they expect Andrew, Richard etc not only to work for free, but to fund the servers needed), the other tua kee bloggers, and the ikan bilis to keep reminding voters to ask the PAP if after the GE, the govt will increase GST, or other taxes, or the cost of services, or allow in more FTs (to achieve a population of 8m, more than the White Paper projection of 6.9m). Of course, the PAP leaders and ministers will will say not say, “YES”, lest they lose a few more GRCs.

The PAP will then be held accountable for their pre-election promises, if the promises are broken, somewhere down the line, hopefully. But then, the PAPpies may play the same cyclical, cynical game again, knowing that S’poreans got short memories: even sheep got better memories.

Update on 27th January at 4.05am: I’ve been asked why I didn’t mention the 50th anniversary celebrations as an election feel good factor. The reason is that this is a two-edged sword. If handled in the traditional PAP manner (Soviet, Chinese, North Korean parades) style, it would remind older S’poreans (like self) of the difference in the quality of the PAP leadership. I think the PAP realises this. Witness the spate of ministers asking S’poreans for ideas on how to celebrate 50 yrs of independence? Since when has the PAP listened to the people?

—-

*“The world has changed, and so must we,” declared Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Mandarin yesterday at the biennial People’s Action Party (PAP) convention.

To that end, the ruling party has adopted a new resolution statement – its first in 25 years – which reinterprets the PAP’s goals so as to stay relevant “in this new phase and with the new generation”.

“This is a strategic shift,” said Mr Lee. “Although the content looks similar, its meaning is different. This is a new frame of thinking for the PAP, to make the party’s long-term goals more relevant to the needs of society today.”

As the culmination of five engagement sessions with party members (spread over the course of three months), the main thrust of the new eight-point resolution involves upholding an “open and compassionate meritocracy” in a “fair and just society” with “opportunities for all Singaporeans”.

“We rely on free markets to grow the pie but will moderate its excesses . . . We support a progressive system of benefits and taxes to enable all to enjoy quality education, good housing, and affordable healthcare,” (Extract from BT)

**She juz kanna saboed by MDA as readers will know.

***

Men in White wearing blue

Men in Blue wearing white. Yup Auntie’s a man. Wonder if Kim Song noticed? (OK, OK, I sorry for being mean to an old RI boy).

S’poreans are over-reacting to the riot

In Political governance, Public Administration on 11/12/2013 at 5:26 am

But first, really I expect more of the president and the police commissioner

– President Tony Tan Keng Yam has urged Singaporeans not to let the violence in Little India last night undermine their confidence in the society. Instead, he said, the people should redouble their commitment to keep Singapore safe, peaceful and strong.

– Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said of the riot,”It is not the Singapore way.”

Lest they forget, the riot was not started by S’poreans. “Police in Singapore have arrested 27 South Asian suspects after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national …About 400 foreign workers took to the streets, hurling railings at police and torching police cars and an ambulance.” BBC report.

So why should the president ask us to redouble [our] commitment to keep Singapore safe, peaceful and strong? What did we do wrong? Taz the typical reaction of a PAP govt minister: blame S’poreans. But the president? He is above politics.

Of course ,”It is not the Singapore way.” The rioters were FTs.

And what by the way, one can reasonably ask is the S’porean way in a place where the foreign workforce is 25% of the population?. There are  1.3 million FTs as of June, out of a total 5.3 million people: 25% of the population. The 1.3m figure excludes the 0.54m (as of 2011) PRs who are counted as local. Include them as FTs and at least 35% of the population is foreign.

But I won’t go into a tirade about the presidency or the police because I’m willing to assume that the president and the police chief are like most S’poreans (self excluded) shell-shocked by said riot.

Let’s start at the top. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to convene a Committee of Inquiry (COI), which will look into the factors that led to the unrest and how the incident was handled on the ground. “It will also review the current measures to manage areas where foreign workers congregate, whether they are adequate, and how they can be improved.

What for?

After all, he did say it was an “isolated incident caused by an unruly mob”.

The riot was contained pretty fast and efficiently with no loss of life except of that of the accident victim. One could have reasonably wondered why the police allowed their vehicles to be overturned so easily. I tot they should have fired warning shots which might have “sobered” the rioters. But I’m happy with the explanation that the police took a deliberate decision to be “restrained” even if such restraint resulted in my friend’s car being burnt and police-cars being overturned. So I ask again , why a CoI?

Waste of time and tax-payers’ money with money being spent on expensive lawyers, if as I expect, lawyers are allowed to be used.

And at the other end of the spectrum, the human rights kay pohs are filled with angst and self-examination. They are talking (they great at talking the talk, bit like the PAP govt on FT policies) of organising shumething, anything, to achieve reconciliation and gd karma. What for?

The vast majority of the visitors to riot area are not violent, aggressive people. They are there to have a gd time after labouring hard.

And in between, TRE and TOC readers are blaming the govt for everything, Gilbert Goh’s fans are stroking hatred of non-S’poreans, and PAPpists are blaming S’poreans (esp netizens) for being anti-FT and anti-PAP. Mercifully, none of the usual suspects are shouting, like some of them did, at the height of the panic for face masks (remember that?) thaz it’s OK to spread allegations to Facebook friends and that by so doing they are helping the govt. They argue that the govt can counter the rumours that said activists are spreading to their “friends”. If the actions weren’t dangerous, reckless behaviour, the self-justifications would be laughable.

That there has been no riot since 1969 prior vto this riot is neither here nor there. Given that S’pore has always been one of the most densely packed places in the world, there was (and is) the possibility that something like this could happen at any time. That it didn’t happen could be due to luck (juz like two once-in every-50- yr floods occurring in the space of months). Or it could be due to the way LKY ruled the place (remember he retired as MM only two yrs ago and he approved of how  Deng Xiaoping dealt with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests*)? Or it could be due to the changing composition of S’pore’s work force** and population.

My personal view is that we were juz lucky especially in having Sheep S’poreans whose reaction to the fatal accident that started the riot would be to take a look, take a few pics and then move on muttering: “Not my biz”. If Napoleon had S’poreans in Animal Farm, he wouldn’t have needed such brutal dogs.

Wouldn’t it be better to have for the CoI to look into whether the changing demographics of S’pore have caused cultural and societal changes, building-up tensions that can explode given the right mixture of ingredients.

But then PM isn’t that shell-shocked.

I wonder if the PAPpy FT academic calling for a population of 8m by 2030 will be allowed to continue shouting his message. If  there is a riot (a riot that causes so much angst) in a population of 5.3m, 25% of whom are FTs, imagine a scenario where there are 8m people here where 37% are FTs***? If one includes PRs, then the percentage of FTs would jump to 53%. I’m use simple extrapolation to derive these numbers.

Update at 8.50am after first publication

Related article that I urge social media users and the usual suspects who argue that sharing rumours helps the govt rebut them:

Sharing information without context can inflame a situation 

From

Frances Ess

10 December

While the riot in Little India has saddened and shocked many Singaporeans, all of us must be responsible when we share information on social media. I have always reminded my children that “a text without context is a pretext”.

For example, one website used emotional words to describe how the riot was handled. Others were more responsible and reported only the facts, so as not to stir up unnecessary anger against all foreign workers.

Based on what was trending on Twitter, I am glad that most Singaporeans possessed the critical faculty to check for the facts and not believe everything they read.

For example, it was claimed at one point that three civilians and two policemen had been killed. Thankfully, that message died in time.

Most Singaporeans are angry that police cars and an ambulance were overturned and burnt.

It is easy to share such graphic videos online. But let us press the pause button, and ask ourselves what our purpose would be in sharing a video, photo or tweet and whether we are aware of the outcome that would be achieved. What about unintended outcomes? Is there a hidden agenda to the information provided on social media and are we being manipulated?

Do I have all the information on hand to make a rational, informed opinion or am I only parroting some views that excite us but, on deeper reflection, are untrue? Finally, when will the information be processed into accurate knowledge?

Discrete data shared without context can inflame a situation, and perhaps now is a good time to be reminded of the story of the blind men feeling an elephant for the first time.

While our individual, subjective experience can be true, such experience is essentially limited by its failure to account for the whole truth.

 

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/sharing-information-without-context-can-inflame-situation

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/riot-proves-point-about-community-relations/

—-

*He took over, and he said: ‘If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it.

**An ex-policeman wrote a commentary in MediaCorp’s ST Lite that “[S]ome may be tempted to link the large presence of foreign workers at Little India to the population augmentation strategy. Again, this is a far stretch. Foreign workers, on work permits, have been a presence in Singapore for decades. They are essential to the urban renewal effort in Singapore.  Their numbers today are not much larger than the historical mean.”

The ex-cop obviously never studied maths at other than a very basic level. If he had, he would realise that using this “fact” would be an insult to the intelligence of more literate S’poreans. The “mean” especially the “historical mean” (whatever this means) is not an argument that one should use in dismissing that the argument of the growth of the FT population is a worry. Example: Isn’t the fact that 25% of the population is foreign a better indicator of anything to do with population than the “historic mean”?

***Given that S’poreans (even new citizens according to LKY) don’t want to breed babies. S’poreans prefer keeping dogs and cats, so much so that there is now a Minister for Pets.

Riot proves point about community relations?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 09/12/2013 at 5:04 am

(Update 10 December at 6.50am: Great summary of article quoted below by a TRE reader: The Wobbly Guy:

Let us decode the Beeb study:

‘non-segregated’ = assimilated

‘relatively prosperous’ = educated middle-class

So we find that assimilated and educated middle-class people have high social capital regardless of ethnicity. Gee, like that wasn’t obvious from a look at a typical HDB estate and what the immigration realists have been saying all along.)

One of the arguments made against the govt’s liberal FT policy by us citizens of “cowboy towns” is that it is bad for community cohesion.Well the FT riot* yesterday would seem to be proof of this. S’poreans would not resort to such violence. They would shrug their shoulders, take a few pixs and, like sheep, move on.

Seriously,it is accepted wisdom globally that there is a negative correlation between diversity and community cohesion with studies proving that link. Even the govt accepts this as a Hard Truth: otherwise how to explain its quota system in public housing for Indians and Malays, and its constant emphasis on the need to maintain racial and religious harmony, given the British legacy of bringing in FTs. It’s juz that this Hard truth is over-ridden by the Harder Truth that FTs are needed, never mind the side effects.

So here’s an interesting article on, “Is diversity good or bad for community cohesion?”, which would make  Gilbert Goh more frus because the findings of a study in the UK say it is gd.

“In ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’,” Putnam’s study concluded. “Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer.”

But now comes new academic research looking at London which turns this idea on its head.

Social cohesion in the capital, it concludes, is “significantly higher in more ethnically diverse neighbourhoods”, once deprivation has been taken into account.

This is a startling assertion. The accepted wisdom among academics and policy makers, as the paper reminds readers, is that “ethnically diverse communities are characterized by distrust, low levels of social cohesion and disputes regarding the equitable provision of public goods”.

But diversity may not be the cause of social tension. “In fact, in the highly diverse neighbourhoods that characterise modern London, the opposite appears to be the case,” the research finds.

Diversity emerges as a positive predictor of social cohesion, the paper asserts, a finding that runs counter to the large majority of published studies.

But what this paper suggests is that where you have non-segregated and relatively prosperous communities, diversity is likely to improve community life, not damage it.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24761954)

Taz the key, if everyone has a highish standard of living, diversity is gd. But mix rich and poor and one is asking for trouble. Here in S’pore, the highish gini is not gd news for the govt’s very liberal immigration policy. Yes, I’m sceptical that the govt is walking the talk on tightening its immigration policies until I see a decent, medium-term decline in the numbers. Something I doubt would happen.

*The bare facts as reported by BT: Singapore Police Force has classified Sunday night’s unrest at Little India as a case of rioting with dangerous weapons, and has arrested 27 subjects from South Asia. The SPF says it expects to make further arrests “in the hours and days that follow”.

Yesterday’s riot was sparked by a fatal traffic accident involving a private bus and a pedestrian, who was a 33-year-old male Indian national. The police say the unrest was not pre-meditated, and no Singaporean presence has been established amongst the rioters.

The mob-which swelled to a 400-strong crowd-damaged and burned police and SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) vehicles, and left 10 police officers injured, out of the 300 who were deployed to the site.

Bare facts added after first publication.

Relax leh Brudder S’pore Notes, things going yr way

In Political governance, Public Administration on 06/12/2013 at 6:25 am

Things not as bad as you paint it in “Is Cyber City Burning?”

You raised the MSM smear of Nicile Seah, and Alex Au’s and Breakfast Network’s legal problems as the PAP govt’s desperate, vicious attempt to stifle dissent..

Honestly, the SPH slimes that went wrong on Nicole Seah is an added bonus for her attempt to refresh her celebrity status by going public about her personal life to her thousands of Facebook friends. Well she did her publicity, and the slimes gave her even more publicity. So these slimes made her day. An added bonus for us netizens is that it showed that Alex Tan has changed for the better: his response to Nicole’s post was matured and totful, showing a different Alex Tan: and ’cause of an FT gal? http://therealsingapore.com/content/alex-tan-words-encouragement-nicole-seah

As to Alex Au’s situation, I think he welcomes the AG’s suit. It makes his day too. AG has been consistent in his views and actions.

On waz happening to the retired Imperial Storm  Trooper general (paper, cyber branch), it shows how moronic the govt is. Their reaction to the govt’s action show that netizens and the govt deserve one another: both assume a static, non dynamic world. As I’ve argued before, the internet, social media is like water. Really those ethnic Chinese S’porean cyber warriors have no excuse. They should know their Lao Tzu even if (like me) only in translation.

And lest we forget, or didn’t notice TOC had another narrow escape* for which we and TOC should be grateful for: http://www.sammyboy.com/showthread.php?169215-TOC-apologise-to-Wanbao and http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/11/unwilling-to-burden-family-95-year-old-samsui-woman-commits-suicide/

Team Yaacob could have played the DRUMS to the tune of RAVII (Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults)  but didn’t. The issue is as Holmes would have asked,”Why didn’t the dog bark?”. Well maybe the SPH cock-ups made it difficult to beat-up TOC without having to beat up SPH too. Though there is a distinction: one might have injured a gal’s reputation, the other was an attack against the state. Big difference leh.

So most likely Team Yaacob was asleep. Remember that Yaacob failed to prevent floods unlike that hard-hearted sneere of the elderly poor who has done I must admit a pretty decent job as flood minister, though he has failed as dengue preventer.. But I cut him some slack as the contractors have been busy cutting the grass and shubbery, and filling potential ponding areas in my area. .

Next, Brudder Notes, you and other bloggers are untouched. Still fighting the gd fight, unhindered. 

And you (and others) have won: More and more fret that S’pore is threatened by inequality, and rampant, uncaring capitalism and the govt? They are insecure and fearful. They feel poor.

So as the super long hols are coming (Chritmas, New year and CNY at end Jan) let’s make merry before the price rises hit us in our pocket. As I’ve argued before, first half 2014 is the last window of opportunity to whack us before the next GE that must be held sometime in 2016. Whack us hard in early 2014, and then in 2015 and 2016 Budget give us the goodies. And if the ground is sweet in 2015, hold a GE and promise goodies for 2016.

Relax, Brudder Notes. Getting angry like the Hulk or P Ravi doesn’t do one any good. Look at P Ravi now. He seems less angry nowadays and he looks like a Bollywood star. So long as you (and others) can protest, things are never that bad. As a foot soldier of the UK’s Labour Party who died recently at 104 once said, “We may not win by protesting. But if we don’t protest we will lose.”

With 88% of people here owning smartphones, you protests (and that of others) will be heard, more and more.

*Earlier lucky break: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/toc-more-than-meets-the-eye/. Background: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/smrt-racist-pr-team/

:

PM shld remember he isn’t mrbrown

In Political governance, Public Administration on 02/12/2013 at 4:55 am

PM’s recent attempt to crack jokes about those who use the internet and the govt’s policy on welfare did not go down well with the audience. They also showed thinking unbecoming a Cambridge double first. PM should focus on reminding S’poreans that they can sell that 4-room HDB flat and buy that house in Iskandar or condo in KL.Taz the success of the PAP way of doing things: not mind control or welfare.

Remember, PM joked:

Online views are not representative of the majority. True but then neither are the pro govt or PAP views expressed in the constructive, nation-building media, or  the answers given to surveys carried out by organisations linked to the gocvt or the PAP. representative of the majority. Yet the govt and the media place  a lot more emphasis on these views or surveys. If the net were pro govt, he’d change his tune.

– “Satisfied people don’t have time to go onto the Internet. Unhappy people often go there.”. Trying to tell us he unhappy? How else him to explain that he can find time to post the tale of owl in Istana? Seriously, there are some people who like me go on the Internet ’cause we got leisure time and we don’t like travelling, golfing or some other leisure pursuit. And we grumble about the govt because while he are too cowardly or lazy to do something physical about it, we have social consciences that still work, and are trying to assuage said consciences even if such grumbles work against our economic interests.

– Next, the comment on “no dead poor” here in S’pore completely misses the point, juz like little Ms Kate Spade Tin did when she said “let the poor remain poor”**. Morally and more to the point, economically, it’s all about the relativity inequalities in a society, not the absolute levels

In a recent posting on an Economist blog: the indignity of the wealth gap. T.M. Scanlon, a Harvard philosopher, catalogues several reasons inequality is objectionable. The stigmatisation of the lower orders would remain a problem in highly inegalitarian societies like America:

One consequence of extreme inequality in income and wealth can be that it forces the poor to live in a way that is reasonably seen as humiliating. As Adam Smith observed, there is a serious objection to a society in which some people are so much poorer than others that then have to live and dress in such a way that they cannot go out in public without shame. Here again, the evil is comparative—it is not merely an objection to having ragged clothes, or poor housing, but of having to live and to present oneself in a way that is so far below the standard generally accepted in the society that it marks one as inferior, and as someone that others would not want to associate with. This provides a reason not only to improve the lot of the poor, but also, even if their lot is, in absolute terms, not so bad, to object to the creation of a much higher standard of living for others. This may not, in some cases be a sufficient reason to deny others these benefits, but it is a recognizable cost that these benefits bring, and one that cannot be put down to irrational envy.

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/government-guaranteed-basic-income)

– Then there is the reasoning that there is no need for a “fixed” poverty line because there are all kinds of targeted schemes. In the same economist post, there is a point about the inefficiencies of various schemes both for the recipients and the state:“A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits,” Ms Lowrey writes. “And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Housing vouchers have to be spent on housing, food stamps on food. Those dollars would be more valuable—both to the recipient and the economy at large—if they were fungible.” The economic benefits are that the state (and tax payers) benefits as less bureaucracy is needed to administer a fungible welfare scheme, and resources are better allocated by the spending of beneficiaries.

Contrast this to PM’s,“Some are broken family problems. Some are problems of children not managing in school and therefore have difficulty. Some are low-income, they don’t have the skills, we need to raise their skills and jobs and pay. Focusing on all these things is productive, then you know what you want to solve, and deal with it.”

The govt should think about the benefits of productivity in designing a welfare system.

So PM, pls stop telling jokes. Leave to Tharman, who 7% of the population are rooting to be the next PM. Actually to be fair, it’s more than 7% of the population: throw in the liberal Chinese and Malay voters.

*The context of his comment:“To have a definition of poverty that encompasses all different kinds of problems and to say, this is the poverty number in Singapore, that is the scale, and it’s a very big number and we are very alarmed, because we have been ignoring this problem and now let’s focus and solve the problem and put the resources in. I don’t think that is the situation and that is the good approach.

Mr Lee said: “Some are broken family problems. Some are problems of children not managing in school and therefore have difficulty. Some are low-income, they don’t have the skills, we need to raise their skills and jobs and pay. Focusing on all these things is productive, then you know what you want to solve, and deal with it.”

The government has said that its approach is to have multiple lines of assistance, and help schemes are also flexible enough to ensure that those who miss the criteria are also helped.

Mr Lee said: “We cannot avoid a social judgment of which needs the society considers meritorious, which needs we consider urgent, which needs we consider well, it’s a problem, but we can leave them to sort out.

“Or it’s a problem but it’s really something that somebody has caused to happen because of his own doing and he has to sort it out. Otherwise, there’s no end to him coming to me to say ‘I’ve got myself into trouble, please bail me out’.”

**OK, OK, I exaggerate. She was only repeating parrot-like the Hard Truth that only absolute (i.e.minimal) help was necessary: don’t fill their bellies lest they be lazy. To quote PM, “Or it’s a problem but it’s really something that somebody has caused to happen because of his own doing and he has to sort it out. Otherwise, there’s no end to him coming to me to say ‘I’ve got myself into trouble, please bail me out’.”

2014: Last chance for govt to increase prices?

In Economy, Indonesia, Political governance on 30/11/2013 at 5:51 am

(Asean round-up)

Ministers no longer joke about COE prices not affecting core inflation, (related post) ’cause increase in food prices is affecting core inflation.

In addition to Thai meat, maybe Burmese rice (see below) will help curb food inflation prior to next GE. Remember that public tpt fares are going up soon despite lack of much improvement. This is ’cause SMRT needs $ (scholar, ex-SAF chief says biz model broken, but nothing that higher fares can’t fix) and 2014 is last possible time that fares can rise. GE must be held in 2016, and increasing fares in 2015 may be too risky for PAP. As an election may be held in 2015, January to June 2014 is the last window of opportunity for us to kanna pay and pay.

Burma plans to more than double rice shipments as the country that used to be the largest exporter embraces trade and opens its economy, challenging Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for sales amid a global glut.

Shipments may increase to 2.5 million tonnes in 2014-2015 from an estimated 1.8 million tonnes in the year that started on April 1, according to Toe Aung Myint, director-general of the Department of Trade Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce. Exports are targeted to increase to 4.8 million tonnes in 2019-2020, he said when Hong Kong.

Indonesian coal and property firms could find obtaining loans increasingly difficult next year as banks tighten their lending due to higher interest rates, slowing economic growth and a weakening rupiah, industry officials said. The rupiah has fallen nearly 20 per cent so far this year, hitting 12,000 per US dollar yesterday for the first time in almost five years.

The central bank this month issued guidance to banks to slow loan growth to 15-17 per cent next year, from 18-20 per cent this year, in an effort to protect the financial system from potential turbulence amid heightened global uncertainties. In response, Bank Mandiri, Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Tabungan Negara, and other top financial institutions are becoming more particular about companies they lend to.

“We haven’t turned cautious for any sector, but we see challenges in infrastructure, construction, coal, cement, and real estate because of several policies. We are expecting a slowdown,” said Eugene Gailbraith, a BCA director, at an investment conference. He said that the country’s biggest bank by market value plans to “take a breather” and will lend less than its expected 45 trillion rupiah (S$4.79 billion) target this year.

Loan growth at Bank Mandiri is seen slowing to 17-18 per cent in 2014 from 19-20 per cent this year, while Bank Jabar Banten eases to 22 per cent from 33 per cent, company officials said. “We will be more cautious on sectors that are sensitive to interest rates,” said Pahala Mansury, Bank Mandiri chief financial officer. Indonesia’s increased hesitation to lend to coal companies comes as no surprise with banks around the world curbing their exposure to the industry due to a sharp fall in demand and prices. For the property sector, Bank Indonesia has made the industry less attractive to banks by implementing several policy measures to curb the purchases of second homes. Financial institutions are expected to favour consumer driven industries, such as retail and food companies, as domestic consumption continues to remain strong. – Reuters. (BT report)

Indonesia’s most aggressive rate tightening in eight years has barely dented a current account deficit, prompting calls for more increases and other measures before the Federal Reserve cuts stimulus.

Bank Indonesia has raised borrowing costs by 1.75 percentage points to 7.5% since early June, the quickest since 2005.

Following data which recently showed the country recorded its second-highest current account shortfall on record in the three months through September, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Standard Chartered now see a further 50 basis points of increases in the first half of next year.

Foreign funds pulled US$3.8bn from Indonesian stocks and local currency bonds in June after the Fed said it could cut stimulus, and a lack of progress on improving the current account before the US does eventually taper leaves the country vulnerable to another sudden outflow.

In addition to ongoing political unrest in Thailand:

Thai factory output shrank more than expected in October, adding to a string of weak data that prompted the central bank to unexpectedly cut interest rates to support the economy as mounting political tension dents confidence.

The Industry Ministry now expects output to fall 2.8 per cent this year, rather than growth of 0.5-1.0 per cent projected earlier, but predicts a rise of 2 per cent next year.

October was the seventh straight month in which output has declined, falling 4.02 per cent from a year earlier. The median forecast of a Reuters poll was for a decline of 3.3 per cent.

In September, output dropped 2.9 per cent. (BT report)

– Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly lowered the cost of credit Wednesday as escalating protests to topple the government add to pressure on the economy.

The central bank lowered its policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.25 %, hoping to stimulate lending and investment, saying  in a statement that the “ongoing political situation” could compound existing weaknesses in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy. Business confidence is fragile and government plans for $69.5 billion of spending on high speed rail and other transport infrastructure have been delayed by legal challenges.

Thailand’s third quarter economic growth was weaker than expected and a recovery in exports has not gained traction, the bank said. Earlier this month, Thailand’s economic planning agency cut its growth forecast for this year to 3% from 3.8-4.3% predicted in August.

Govt faciliates spying and tax avoidance, but bans Ashley Madison: Uniquely PAP

In Economy, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Telecoms on 27/11/2013 at 5:05 am

In the space of a few days, the govt is facing or is likely to face uncomfortable questions from other govts about its activities: activities that the usual suspects, could reasonably argue, show the two-timing nature of the PAP govt that they (they the usual suspects) detest and wish it all the ill-will in the world.

Malaysia said it will summon Singapore’s high commissioner today to respond to allegations of spying which risk damaging improved political and business ties between the Southeast Asian neighbors.

Indonesia and Malaysia have been key targets for Australian and U.S. intelligence cooperation since the 1970s, facilitated in part by Singapore, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, citing documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Malaysia’s foreign ministry said it was “extremely concerned” and had already acted against earlier claims of espionage by the U.S. and Australia.

The reports could also spur friction between Singapore and Indonesia, Tan said. “The Indonesians would probably be concerned whether the information is also being shared with Singapore intelligence, besides the Australians*.”

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-26/malaysia-summons-singapore-commissioner-as-spying-claims-widen.html)

As SingTel was singled out for mention by the Oz newspaper**, and as it has extensive mobile operations in Indonesia and Thailand, and a major stake in a major Indian telco, it could face problems in these countries.

Then there is the issue of how European and US cos are using S’pore to avoid taxes, at a time when there is growing resentment among politicians and voters that these cos are not paying their fair share of taxes. The Indian, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean govts will also not be too happy too with S’pore’s corporate tax-regime if they read the Economist.

“Taxing times for Singapore as corporate strategy faces scrutiny” was a Reuters headline on 24 November 2013 (BT and Today carried the report too). It gave details of how Apple used S’pore as a tax-saving centre and went on, “Companies justify booking significant amounts of revenue and profits in Singapore by the fact they often run key business functions such as finance and operations, hold intellectual property rights there or base regional executives in the city.”

The chart below (via the Economist) shows a hypothetical scenario where a company moves its headquarters from Singapore (a very low-tax economy) to another country. http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2013/11/corporate-tax-rates

S’pore very cheap place (tax wise) esp compared to Japan. Minister Zorro must be happy: juz as happy as looking as his monthly CPF statement.

The Reuters article went on: Singapore has so far largely stayed out of the debate raging in Europe and the United States about the ways multinationals try to lower their tax bills.

But revenue-hungry governments are looking to impose tougher rules on so-called transfer pricing that could make it harder for firms to trade goods, services or assets between their Singapore and overseas entities.

As a result, accountants warn that the city-state will need to review the level of transparency in its tax incentive schemes and get stronger justifications from companies on their transfer pricing arrangements to fend off challenges from other jurisdictions.

“Singapore’s challenge is to ensure that it stands ready to adequately address any kind of unilateral tax action taken by other countries,” said Abhijit Ghosh, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Singapore.

“In this brave new world of fiscal competition for the tax dollar, dispute resolution will be on the increase and Singapore will need to focus more resources on enforcing and defending its principles of value creation in international forums.”

The city-state’s government says it is against artificially contrived arrangements constructed “solely for the purpose of flouting or exploiting loopholes in tax rules”, according to a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Finance.

However Singapore is also arguing that it should not be singled out because it has low tax rates.

“We must guard against new forms of protectionism masquerading as tax harmonisation,” the spokeswoman said. “We should avoid converging on high taxes globally as this would only hurt growth and jobs.”

Looks like the owl that visited PM was a harbinger of bad news for PM.

Seriously, the “usual suspects” could reasonably argue, if they tot about it, that the “chickens are coming to roost”.and that while moralising on adultery, the PAP govt helps the ang mohs spy on our neighbours, while helping ang moh and other Asian cos avoid tax. And PritamS wants the WP to be in coalition with the PAP?

*Remember that Indonesia suspended military co-operation with Australia, after allegations emerged of Australian spies bugging the phones of the president and his inner circle.

**Access to this major international telecommunications channel***, facilitated by Singapore’s government-owned operator SingTel, has been a key element in an expansion of Australian-Singaporean intelligence and defence ties over the past 15 years.Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/new-snowden-leaks-reveal-us-australias-asian-allies-20131124-2y3mh.html#ixzz2lkSC0P8c

***SEA-ME-WE-3 cable as well as the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable that runs from Singapore to the south of France.

Why the govt consults and then ignores

In Political governance, Public Administration on 25/11/2013 at 5:40 am

This is not uniquely S’porean: happens in the UK too, What is the point of government consultations? I pose the question at the end of a week in which ministers responded to three official consultations on three controversial proposals – and appeared to ignore the results from them all, the BBC’s Mark Easton wrote recently. He is the BBC’s Home Editor: “Home” here means British domestic affairs

When he goes on to explain (see below) why this happens in the UK, the explanation rings true here here too, even though S’pore is a defacto one-party state. So if in a functioning democracy where the govt is a coalition of two parties, the govt consults then ignores, we shouldn’t get too upset that in S’pore, a defacto one party state, the same happens because:

The public consultation is an opportunity for ministers to test their ideas with experts, those directly affected and voters more generally. Community participation on proposed legislation is seen as a key component of “citizen power”.

But formal public consultation exercises very rarely result in a government re-think – even if they reveal profound concern. That is not the point of them, and we should not pretend otherwise.

Anyway, here’s why the UK govt consults then ignores:

It is, of course, the democratic right of ministers to consult and to listen and then ignore. The arguments put forward by the [govt department] may be compelling. But it does lead some to ask whether the consultation really had much value.

Consultations are not referendums.

But having conducted a public consultation and expressing gratitude to all those “who have taken the time to respond and to those who have contributed their experience and insight to what is a complex issue”, one is left wondering what the point was.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “public consultation is one of the key regulatory tools employed to improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of regulation”. But there has long been scepticism as to whether such exercises are anything more than cosmetic.

The public consultation is an opportunity for ministers to test their ideas with experts, those directly affected and voters more generally. Community participation on proposed legislation is seen as a key component of “citizen power”.

But formal public consultation exercises very rarely result in a government re-think – even if they reveal profound concern. That is not the point of them, and we should not pretend otherwise.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24670413).

Ageing population Hard Truth is cock and bull?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 20/11/2013 at 4:25 am

The govt and the constructive, nation-building media keep shouting at us that a rapidly aging population (and the stas do show this aging as a fact, no bull here) will lead to disaster if FTs like two-timing new citizen Raj or Tammy’s killer or the FTs that beat up S’poreans and then fled S’pore*, or a looney, violent bank director are not allowed in by the container load. They point to Japan as what can happen if FTs are not allowed in: economic stagnation. The truth is more complex. As I reported here HSBC, a bank, in 2012 published research that Japan is doing pretty well when compared to other developed countries, including immigrant friendly countries like the US and the UK (though the UK is now repenting its liberal immigration policy)

Whatever the impact of an ageing population on S’pore’s prosperity, here’s a piece of evidence casting doubt on the assumptions (stated or unstated) behind the need to have a population of 6.9m by 2030. It comes from academics from the University of Edinburgh.

The idea that dependent older people represent a great demographic challenge of our age has been turned on its head …The research questions an assumption behind arguments for health, social care and immigration policies … The paper demands society rethink some of its assumptions about elderly dependency – drawing a distinction between the ‘young old’ and the ‘old old’

Here’s more from the BBC’s Home (i.e. domestic affairs) editor (Note that the paper in question is based on British statistics but the argument seems applicable elsewhere as he points out)

“The extent, speed and effect of population ageing have all been exaggerated and we should not assume that it will strain health and social care systems,” Professor John MacInnes and senior research fellow Jeroen Spijker write in the article ‘Population Ageing: The timebomb that isn’t?’

Healthier and fitter

The mistake people have been making, the paper suggests, is to assume that all pensioners are dependent and all working-age adults are workers.

They point out that, while it is true there are now more people over 65 in the UK than children under 15, rising life expectancy means older people are effectively “younger”, healthier and fitter than previous generations.

Instead of simply looking at how old someone is, the research focuses on how long they might be expected to live.

“Many behaviours and attitudes (including those related to health) are more strongly linked to remaining life expectancy than to age,” it says.

In 1841, life expectancy at birth was 40 years for males and 42 years for females.

By 1900 it was 52 and 57 and today it is 79 and 83. So the point at which we enter ‘old age’ has also been changing.

Equally, using age to define the adult working populations makes little sense, the authors suggest, because “there are more dependents of working age (9.5 million) than there are older people who do not work”.

So they calculated an alternative measure, what they call “the real elderly dependency ratio”, based on the sum of men and women with a remaining life expectancy of up to 15 years divided by the number of people in employment, irrespective of age.

Important implications

Using this measure, the paper calculates that old-age dependency in the UK fell by one third over the past four decades – and is likely to stabilise close to its current level.

The measure suggests similar falls in many other countries.

“Our calculations show that – over the past four decades – the population far from ageing, has in fact been getting younger, with increasing numbers of people in work for every older person or child,” the authors say.

“The different story of population ageing told by our real elderly dependency ratio has several important implications for health policy and clinical practice.”

In policy terms, this analysis to one of the central challenges of an ageing population might be something of a game changer. Rather than seeing longevity itself as an expensive problem, focus could shift towards managing morbidity and remaining life expectancy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24921171

The continued refusal of the govt to accept that the issue of ageing population is a complex one and the unwillingness to question its Hard Truth on the issue continued in the face of evidence that the Hard Truth is doing real harm looks all too similar to the intellectual fetters that led central bankers to persist in tighten monetary policy in the early 1930s when faced with a global Depression.

It also shows that they are unlike LKY and Dr Goh Keng Swee who were willing to challenge the conventional wisdom that allowing MNCs in amounted to neo-colonialism. And demographics is not the only issue where the PAP govt is wedded to Hard Truths. Take welfare, where there is evidence that gd welfare systems do not reduce the will to work: they do not make people lazy e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24974745: another University of Edinburgh study.

Maybe, time to send scholars there to learn to walk on the wild side, and think unHard Truths? After all  University of Edinburgh is a great university. It juz doesn’t produce the ruling elite of the UK or the US. Our scholars to to unis where the UK and US ruling elite are educated.

BTW, here’s an article on using robots to as carers for the elderly: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24949081

*PR was given to one after he beat up the S’poreans.

PAP reverts to form

In Political governance on 08/11/2013 at 4:57 am

NatCon’s narrative was that the govt is willing to listen to the people.

Well the way the govt is conducting itself on the tudung* issue seems to contradict the narrative of a govt willing to listen to the people. Maybe it has decided to return to the Hard Truth of dismissing views or facts that do not support the canon of Hard Truths? Even if these views are articulated by senior PAPpists?

Government leaders yesterday weighed in on the hijab issue, which made its way back into the national spotlight in recent weeks, with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean reiterating that, while the Government understands “community perspectives”, it also “has the responsibility to balance all these different community requirements and keep in mind what we need, to maintain overall social harmony”.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong together with Malay Members of Parliament (MPs) from the People’s Action Party over the matter, called for “constructive dialogue” as the way forward. “This is the Singapore way and has served everyone well over the years,” he said on Facebook. (Today 6 Nov)

If the govt is a listening govt, shouldn’t DPM’s comments come some days after the meeting, after the govt has had time to analyse the views of the Malay minister and PAP May MPs? I mean it’s not as though the tudung wearers and friends, and their enemies are rioting in the streets. Everything is at the “discussion” stage, and is likely to remain at that level: uniquely S’porean for any topic. Action of any sort is haram in S’pore: witness the reaction to Alex Au’s piece on doing something other than talking.

And if the govt can’t be bothered to listen to and ponder on the views of the Malay minister, and the PAP Malay MPs (kaki lang, orang sendiri), why should anyone think it listens to anyone else?

I couldn’t help laughing at Yacoob’s “This is the Singapore way and has served everyone well over the years” . The Singapore way is “Sit down, shut up, and do as you are told”: “constructive dialogue” is a dog-whistle meant to fool the masses. I’m happy to report that the plebs have caught on, even if the govt and the constructive, nation-building media don’t realise that the unwashed masses have caught on. The PAP govt and the local media still thinks that since 70% of the voters still “Like” the PAP, that the plebs are deft?

But let’s give the govt two cheers that it isn’t into “faking it” PR.

If DPM Teo had waited a few days, then the comments couldn’t be seen as undercutting Yaacob and the Malay MPs, and would buttress the NatCon narrative that this PAP govt listens.

For this bad PR, we should be thankful. We should glad that the govt is not resorting to Tony Blair’s appointment of a team to clear all misterial statements to ensure that even if there are contradictions, disagreements, inconsistencies, muddled-thinking  in govt policies and actions, at least a fake consistency is projected.

S/o Devan Nair is sleeping on the job? Or he isn’t being listened to? Dr Goebbels would be spinning in his grave excepted that he was cremated.

Update at 8.35 am: NSP has come up with a sensible idea. It also calls on the government to “commission an official survey to gauge how the other communities feel about Muslim women wearing the hijab in Government professions.”. Hear, Hear.

*I prefer the term “tudung”. “Hijab” to me implies that the item of dress is a recent import, It isn’t. It’s been around for many a year.Halimah was using it it law school in the mid 70s, if my memory is correct.

Conspiracy theorists could spin then all the references to “hijab” by the govt, ministers, MPs, local media, is as an attempt to frame and spin that the petitioners  are introducing something alien . But the evidence seems to indicate the word “hijab” was used in the original petition.

Self-inflicted PR wounds are not uncommon as pointed out above.

 

PAP’s view of us 40%ers?

In Humour, Political governance on 04/11/2013 at 5:40 am

“Their bowls are filled with rice, their mouths are filled with pork, but after they finish their meals, they criticise the government,” he* laughed.

“The Chinese masses are shameless and you don’t need to respect them.”

Substitute the word “Chinese masses” with “40% of deft S’porean voters”, and I suspect the PAP would “Like” the sentiments expressed.

Given that the PAP has ruled S’pore since 1959, and our standard of living is now first world, surely the PAP had shumething to do with it*? And surely. the PAP is entitled to get upset that 40% of the voters (self included) prefer to vote for the opposition?

Actually, the PAP should adopt a slightly different perspective. True, WP*** won a GRC and got 12.8% of the popular vote. But it is widely perceived by S’poreans as “PAP Lite”: in some lighting conditions their light blue shirts appear white.

This means that 72.8% of the electorate are very comfortable with the PAP, and S’pore being a defacto one party state: all the elected MPs are from the PAP (most) or the WP (7).

The presidential election double confirmed this as the preferred candidate won by a very, very short nose in a photo finish. The runner-up was a former PAP MP who unlike Tan Kin Lian, who lost his deposit, did not repent of his time in the PAP. Between Tony Tan and Tan Cheng Bock, MD, they got 70% of the votes. Tan Jee Say, came third, with 25%. Taz the gap between the support for the PAP, and the real opposition.

Maybe, this is what the PAP is worried about (see my extracts from govt think-tank October 2014 Asean Monitor)?

Most probably, though, the PAP juz wants 150% control. It’s in the DNA, like Hard Truths.

—-

*A BBC report said that this was said by one Liang Wenyong, the Communist Party boss of Gushanzi, a farming town in Hebei province, At a lavish banquet as he picked a variety of delicacies in front of him, including a whole lobster, Mr Liang gave his unvarnished views on the Chinese masses. Unfortunately for him, he was caught on tape.

The leaked video quickly prompted more than 9,000 angry comments on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter …Unsurprisingly, Liang Wenyong was fired. But in a twist typical of the new clean-up campaign, officials in Gushanzi were also ordered to study Xi Jinping’s teachings.

**Yes, Yes, I know that one Jack Lam and friend keep saying on Facebook that S’pore was in the 50s, the second biggest  port in the Asia, as though that alone would explain S’pore’s subsequent success. My retort: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/why-young-sporeans-should-be-sent-to-yangon/.

***S/o of JBJ takes exception to the claims (he says) that the local media make that Low founded the WP. Low may not have founded the WP but after the party’s leadership dethroned JBJ, and appointed him as leader, he changed the party, bringing organisation,, respectability and moderation to it. Remember JBJ’s WP allowed loonies and a bicyle thief tpo stand as MPs. And no-one could call WP “PAP Lite”: it waz too dysfunctional for that, and, anyway, was nothing more than JBJ’s chariot. BTW there is a gd site on FB to JBJ. Worth a visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jbj.memory/

Double confirm: FTs displace S’poreans

In Economy, Political governance on 01/11/2013 at 4:51 am

Following this, more evidence that we were misled that FTs created gd jobs for locals? In fact, they displace locals, it seems.

Or, at the very least, as one Siow tua kee activist and commentator (and no usual- suspect ranter) put it on Facebook, “So… is this an implicit admission that the flow of foreign workers DID depress salaries? Like everyone outside gahmen has been saying? Uh-huh.”

And this time the evidence comes from the central bank. Emphasis is mine.

Weakness in PMET job market for locals seen to be dissipating

Tertiary-educated Singapore residents – who have experienced a soft patch in hiring over the past year – can look forward to better job opportunities, thanks to recent government curbs on foreign labour inflows.

“Recent manpower policies to tighten the inflow of S Pass and Employment Pass holders will boost the hiring of tertiary-educated residents, particularly at the entry level,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in its Macroeconomic Review released yesterday.

The new Fair Consideration Framework, aimed at ensuring that Singaporean professionals are fairly considered for jobs, will also go some way in boosting these job-seekers’ prospects, it said.

Despite continuing demand for manpower in Singapore, local professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) have recently faced a constrained job market. (BT 30 October 2013)

Meanwhile Today reported:

Resident wages up as efforts to stem foreign labour kick in

Wages for resident employees grew at a much faster pace in the first half of this year, as businesses paid more to hire locals in a tight labour market caused in part by efforts to stem the flow of foreign workers.

The contribution of resident workers to employment growth has also improved, with locals making up more than half of the total in the first six months, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday in its bi-annual macroeconomic review.

“Overall, resident wage growth accelerated to 4.5 per cent on-year in the first half of 2013, up from 2.3 per cent in the whole year of 2012,” the central bank said. “This was largely consistent with the resident unemployment rate, which remained low at around 3 per cent in the first half of 2013.”

In all, 62,600 employees were added to the workforce in the first six months, compared with 58,900 in the same period last year. Resident workers made up 55 per cent of the overall job gains in the first half, up from 45 per cent last year and 31 per cent in 2011.

“The contribution of foreign workers to total employment growth slowed in (the first half), as foreign labour policies became more binding,” the MAS said, adding that the number of work permit holders rose by 18,500 in the first half of the year, compared with 43,500 for the whole of 2012.

Economists TODAY spoke to say the rapid rise in wages is not surprising given the tight labour market, but that the increase is not entirely good news.

MAS data shows that wages for local employees in industries such as community, social and personal services, real estate services and professional services grew the fastest in the first half of the year. However, resident wages for construction, manufacturing and food services grew less than in the second half of last year.

The MAS expects the core inflation rate, which strips out the cost of accommodation and private road transport, to increase from between 1.5 and 2 per cent this year to between 2 and 3 per cent next year. http://www.todayonline.com/business/resident-wages-efforts-stem-foreign-labour-kick

Need I say more? The “right” facts on FTs were raised by the netizens of “cowboy towns” many moons ago but were dismissed as “noise”.

And finally, we should remind PM that the operative word is “Talents” not “Trash”: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/10/30/pm-global-talents-needed-to-make-sg-a-vibrant-economic-hub/#comment-1086501. And I’ll add to TRE example of PRC PR masseurs: remember the shop assistant that beat up SMRT officer who tried to stop her son from trying to get a free train ride, and the PRC hawkers? They are PRs.

S’poreans* don’t have an issue with Foreign Talents like the CEOs of DBS and OCBC. But we have a problem with Foreign Trash. Juz look at SGX, where the CEO and his number two are FTs. Look at the damage these two FTs did recently: SGX lifted trading restrictions on three stocks, then after they cheonged announced that the price movements (prior to the trading restrictions) were going to be investigated. Prices collapsed. It should have made both announcements at the same time.

I doubt this would have happened under the previous CEO (whom I know personally). BTW, not talked to him about the above SGX issue.

Related post, title notwithstanding: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/low-productivity-lky-and-the-drums-agree-on-its-cause/

*GG and friends excepted. BTW, going by GG’s outburst against S’porean women (He thinks they prefer FTS: personal experience? He is either divorced or separated.), his version of paradise S’pore is hellish: only male true-blue S’poreans allowed. No women. Guess we males who are not gays or bisexuals will need robots to satisfy our carnal desires, or maybe he wants us to be wankers?

On this tot, have a gd weekend.

Proof that FTs displace S’poreans?

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 28/10/2013 at 4:52 am

And ST reported the proof.

Can someone from govt, or its running dogs* in the think-tanks or the constructive, nation-building media explain this ST headline (and accompanying story) on 24th October?

ITE graduates in demand as SMEs face manpower crunch

 Job-matching scheme places ITE and poly students in local firms

ST went on

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are stepping up efforts to recruit Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates in a bid to combat the manpower squeeze.

The aim is to place some 300 with local companies every year over the next five years, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck yesterday.

The job-matching, which is part of Spring Singapore’s SME Talent Programme, has sent 32 polytechnic and ITE students to 15 firms since it was launched in June.

Seven trade associations and chambers have also reached out to more than 1,600 students to apply for jobs such as retail associates, clerks and technicians. Employers are eager for more.

(Backgrounder: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/10/24/demand-for-ite-grads-picks-up-when-foreign-quota-reduced/)

It’s reasonable to conclude from the ST story that this demand for ITE and poly grads is the result of the govt’s very slight retreat from its “We love FTs, first, last and always” policies**. So whatever happened to the Hard Truth that the the more FTs, the more and better jibs for locals? Seems more like BS doesn’t it? But then the line between a Hard Truth and BS can be pretty thin.

(Gd related article: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/10/where-are-the-good-jobs-prime-minister)

for the record, Yeoh Lam Keong, former chief economist at GIC, has called for the immigration policy to be reversed. “What we need to do is to be much more stringent on admitting such unskilled labour. We’ve really got no excuse to be so relaxed about this kind of immigration.” (BTW, he has also called for the government to return to its roots to meet and serve the needs of ordinary citizens over public housing, education, healthcare, welfare and other services.)

If readers want to read, good, evidence-based critiques of govt policies, not the usual rhetorical rubbish that appears from most of the usual suspects most of the time, Uncle Leong excepted, follow “Lam Keong Yeoh” on Facebook.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/rewriting-lkys-views-on-fts-and-if-so-why/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/sccci-sme-survey-proves-lkys-point/

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

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/alternative-to-fts/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/alternative-to-fts-ii/

——
*No disrespect to Tammy and other dogs.
**OK, OK, I exaggerate. But if the govt and its allies can exaggerate, why can’t I?

Great retorts to Kee Chui’s rubbish

In Political governance, Public Administration on 25/10/2013 at 4:37 am

Singapore is not considering having an official poverty line, as it would not fully reflect the severity and complexity of issues faced by the poor, and may also lead to those above the line missing out on assistance.

CHAN CHUN SING*: “If we use a single poverty line to assess the family, we also risk a ‘cliff effect’, where those below the poverty line receive all forms of assistance, while other genuinely needy citizens outside the poverty line are excluded.”

- Straits Times. 23 Oct 2013. (Via TOC Facebook)

P Ravi (the P stands for Philemon, not “Politican” as Yaacob of once in 50-yrs flood fame seemed to think) wrote on Facebook:

With various subsidies in healthcare, housing, pre-school education, etc already being tagged to means-testing, the cliff-effect already exists. Through my volunteer work with low-income families and individuals I know for a fact that some decline pay increases because if their salary increase, they will not be eligible for KIFAS (Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme). Some others do not take up jobs which will pay them a bit more than they currently earn, because then they will not be eligible for rental houses (some of these may be better off in rental houses then buying their own flats). Anyway, the ‘cliff effect’ has not historically stopped the Government from not providing assistance. For example, middle income families were recently provided assistance to purchase HDB flats. As I see it, the excuse of the ‘cliff effect’ is just an excuse to avoid properly acknowledging the state of poverty in Singapore. Without appropriately acknowledging poverty in Singapore, it will be very difficult to address it adequately.

And the following from the retired chief economist of GIC would have been another great retort except that it was written a few days earlier in resonse to SunT’s leading article with a headline screaming that for the first time assurance to the poor rose above $100mn in the last FY, a 45% increase

Can’t believe we are so proud that for the first time assurance to the poor rose above $100mn in the last FY.

That’s like 0.03 of a percent of GDP- a paltry amount in view of the fact that around 10 to 12% of households ( some 350 to 400,000 people) are way below the income per capita criterion of $550 per month and WIS payouts are way too stingy!

Even if you take just the unemployed and aged poor (excluding working poor) of around 140 000 people) that’s barely $60 a month each!

And yet MP Seah Kian Peng, chairman of the GPC for Social and Family Development can claim that those who fall between the cracks ” should be rare exceptions and, when they come to our notice we will certainly and very quickly act on them.”

Let’s please just come out of policy denial , treble workfare and at least double the amount we are spending on welfare before we make claims that we are dealing adequately with the poverty problem in Singapore!

It’s a real shame that a country with our level of prosperity and fiscal resources still faces chronic poverty of the kind outlined in Radha Basus article in ST today (p 13 and 13) …

Comcare fund is only largely directed at some 45 to 50, 000 families facing temporary problems like illness and retrenchment or the elderly poor; it largely does not include the working poor of 60 to 80, 000 households who are meant to be covered by an inadequate WIS..

Finally, I’m shocked to find out that The Government’s national database for the social services sector, or Social Service Net (SSNet), will be ready by mid-2015. Tot we had one: shows the priority that such a database had under previous ministers (like that rich kid from ACS). (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/national-database-for/858204.html)

One wonders how Kee Chui got the data to make such the sweeping statement quoted above if there is no national database?

—-

*To be fair to Kee Chui, social workers are happier with his attitude and actions than with those of VivianB and the other welfare ministers. Sad that Halimah is not part of the team as she is believed to be, like Kee chui interested, in welfare reform, and in helping the poor.

FT policy: Dialogue? What dialogue?

In Economy, Political governance on 23/10/2013 at 5:09 am

“The “victimised Singaporean” framing does nothing to push these issues forward for intelligent debate. It does not encourage Singaporeans to think about how things can be improved while acknowledging what we have. It does not led to useful discussion over policy …

‘I have no doubt that the people who spout this line [I assume she means hatred of foreigners] love their home. I have no doubt that they have real worries and anxiety. I have no doubt that many of their concerns are valid. But if they really love Singapore and want the best for it, the best course of action would be to quit the melodramatic posturing and engage in real dialogue.” – Kirsten Han (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/great-singaporean-grievance-103242143.html0

Were things that simple.

The unsaid assumption is that there are channels for discussion and dialogue, and that discussion and dialogue can lead to something meaningful being done to solve the grievances. All these “fruscos” need to do is to use these channels. Well, any dialogue or discussion has to involve the govt who initiated the liberal immigration policy.

For someone who perceptively writes, “Concerns over freedom of expression and other civil liberties need to be given attention”, I’m surprised that she doesn’t realise that there are no channels for discussion and dialogue on this issue, as on many other issues. NatCon is not dialogue and it didn’t exactly go into the FT policy.

And anyway the FT policy is not open for dialogue. By releasing the white paper when it did (juz before NatCon started, even an accademic involved lamented that fact), the govt sent a strong message that the issue is not negotiable. FTs are the Special Ones and taz a Hard Truth.See here and here.

By promising to focus on public concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education, the govt is doing its best to ensure that its pro-FT stance does not further alienate S’poreans, and hopefully (from its perspective) wins back voters by bribing voters with their (our) own money.

To put it another way, all the public spending on housing, healthcare, public transport and education has as one as its aims mitigating the effects on S’porean PMETs of the “FTs all the way” position of the govt.

Even the trumpeted nearly 45% increase (to $102.4m, but as the retired chief economist of GIC points out this is 0.03 of a percent of GDP- a paltry amount in view of the fact that around 10 to 12% of households ( some 350 to 400,000 people) are way below the income per capita criterion of $550 per month and WIS payouts are way too stingy! Even if you take just the unemployed and aged poor (excluding working poor) of around 140 000 people) that’s barely $60 a month each!) in one year in welfare spending on the poor surely has something to do with mitigating the effects of the FT policy. After all, the welfare minister who sneered at the elderly poor is still in the cabinet, albeit in a post where he doesn’t have to deal with the poor, homeless or elderly.

Yes, yes, I know the govt and the constructive nation-building media are spinning that the govt is cutting back the supply of FTs especially to SMEs. The SMEs are screaming (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101123289), presumably because while the owners have to pay pay more for their bungalows, penthouses and CoEs, profits are reduced ’cause their access to cheap FT PMETs is being supposedly closed.

But until the numbers say so, I remain sceptical, very sceptical that a pro-FT leopard can change its spots. Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24428569. Of the five people working in S’pore featured, the poorest paid (an elderish cleaner)  is a true blue S’porean: BBC spins she can afford a maid. The other local is a first generation S’porean. Both are ethnic Chinese. The other three are FTs.

Reading the article, and knowing the facts on the ground, one can easily understand the grievances of the people Kirsten Han referred to above, especially if they are poor and elderly, and ethnic Indians or Malays.

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/

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*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.

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