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Posts Tagged ‘Lee Hsien Loong’

Selective Courage and other PM’s tales

In Political governance on 09/11/2011 at 6:43 am

On 30 October 2011, MediaCorp reported the PM as saying,” [T]o dare to stand up and say something which is true but may be difficult, spiky, which the population may not wish to hear … that takes courage … as Government, it’s our responsibility to speak the truth to Singaporeans …  it’s the Opposition’s responsibility also to acknowledge the truth and to speak it, whether or not it’s politically advantageous to them.”

Fair point but PM, don’t you think that it also takes courage to admit that the government, cabinet, minister, ministry or civil servant has goofed, is sorry, and will take steps to remedy the situation? Whatever Wong Kan Seng may have done, he is the only minister to have taken responsibility for a goof-up by his ministry (the escape of a “terrorist”). Usually tai-chi is practicised.

Think minister Mah, who defended his policy of allowing the prices of public housing to rise in a recession. Or of Raymond Lim for threatening to impose GST on transport fares, while doing nothing to ease congestation on public transport?

Or of VivianB for getting his numbers wrong wrong on the new national stadium and the Kiddie Games, and insisting that he was right to be wrong. Or berating the poor for wanting hawker or restaurant food.

Or the Home ministry allowing  a violent and dishonest shop assistant; and hawkers to become PRs. Or the minister failing to apologise for not recapturing a physically handicapped “terrorist” before he swam out of S’pore.

Or Yaacob talking of “once in a century’ flood, when there was a flood a month. Or of the entire cabinet in allowing immigrants in by the truck-load without thinking of the consequences on the public infrastructure and social fabric.

You were also quoted as saying parliament was for “serious discussion, not just criticism”. It is wrong to try to distinguish “serious discussion” from “criticism”. “[C]riticism” is part of “serious discussion”. Go ask any Cambridge academic.

You said that Parliament is not just a place to hold either the government or Opposition to account … both sides should participate in solving problems together, or Singapore would be worse off for it.

What about giving out more information so that the public can know what is happening? If local academics got beaten up by the then Manpower minister, a few years ago, for using data from a government website, surely there is a problem somewhere? And it’s not with the academics. How can publicly available info be misleading? But that minister is now one of your most trusted ministers.

“Academics, economists and sociologists are demanding more than the “pledge to share more information.” They want the raw data, instead of the ad hoc releases from the official propaganda machine,” notes S’pore Notes some time ago.

This brings me back to your “acknowledging the truth” comment. The truth can only be established by evidence, so make more raw data available.

Your comments seem nothing more than your father’s “style of single-party governance: long-term decisions made by an inner circle, without the distractions of a substantial opposition or the time pressures of electoral deadlines. “Public debate can make issues “harder to solve,” you said sometime back, so it’s reasonable to assume that you would rather avoid informed public debate of any kind.

In his book “Golden Fetters”, Barry Eichengreen argued that one reason the gold standard failed to work after the first world war was that most states had become democracies; regular doses of austerity were needed to ensure sound money. But that was politically impossible once the working classes had the vote, especially as politicians were worried about the threat of communist revolution. [Took this from Buttonwood's Notes, an Economist blog.]

Try telling the PA and yr minister abt unity, PM?

In Political governance on 06/09/2011 at 7:18 am

On 1 September 2011, the PM said Singapore must also build a united society which leaves no Singaporean behind. He was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of Singapore’s seventh President Dr Tony Tan at the Istana.

This was the fifth time that he had spoken about the need for unity since the 7th May 2011 General Election. Five times in five months.

Well the trouble with this latest attempt was that the day before, the People’s Association (a statutory of agency of which he is chairman) had published a statement explaining why it excluded Opposition MPS from being appointed grassroot leaders. In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, PA director of corporate and marketing communications Ooi Hui Mei said on behalf of the CEO, “Besides connecting people to people, grassroots advisers are required to help the Government connect with people and help promote Government policies and programmes such as anti-dengue and active ageing. Hence, the Government has to appoint grassroots advisers who support its programmes and can play this role well. Opposition MPs cannot be expected to do this and thus cannot become advisers to GROs.”

She is saying that Opposition MPs are not loyal S’poreans that the government and PA can trust.

Ms Ooi’s letter drew a response from WP’s Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh (the guy with tots of being in coalition with the PAP on his brain). He wrote on his Facebook page that he found it “apposite to inform the PA that Opposition MPs do not love the aedes mosquito, nor do we have anything against active aging.” He cited examples of former and current PAP MPs, including former MP Tan Cheng Bock and President Tony Tan, who opposed the Nominated MP scheme and the graduate mother’s scheme respectively.

Hehehe. Snigger, snigger. Gd riposte Bei-Yee Singh. Letter writers to ST and Today and online forums joined in the fun of bashing Ms Ooi’s letter.

Unhappy with this mauling, the deputy chairman of the PA, Lim Swee Say (who is also a cabinet minister and NTUC chief), not heeding PM’s call for unity, got Ms Ooi to issue another letter on 3 September 2011, making the same point again: that Opposition MPs are not loyal S’poreans that the government and PA can trust.

Because of her letters, I’m again left wondering (I’ve commented on his four previous attempts here) whether the PM is sincere when he calls for unity. Why should I take his words at face value, when the spokeswoman from a government agency, where he is the chairman, takes a view that is contrary to his call for unity, both before and after his message. If she had not written the second letter, I would have been willing to try to suspend cynical disbelief. But Ms Ooi’s letters have left me no choice but to disbelieve the PM.

Is he or the CEO and deputy chairman, she scribed for, off-message? Or is his definition of “unity” different? Maybe he means “unity under the regime of Hard Truths”?

Time will tell.

If PM is sincere abt unity, what abt talking a leaf from Mao. When the Chinese Communist Party refused to listen to him, he launched the Culture Revolution. Maybe PM should reform the PA to better serve his and our needs.

PM’s repeated calls for unity, what he means

In Political governance on 31/08/2011 at 7:22 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong again appealed for national unity after an intense campaign dominated by calls from critics for an independent president who can act as a check on the PAP, “Now that the election is over, we should all come together again as Singaporeans, to tackle the challenges that Singapore faces, and take our nation forward”.

Forgive me for being extremely cynical but I had heard something similar thrice since the 7 May 2011 general election.

Immediately after the election, the PM had promised that the ruling party would do some intense soul-searching and find better ways to reach out and connect with Singaporeans. He urged Singaporeans to close ranks and work together with the government to achieve the overriding objective of improving the lives of the people.

In August, during his National Day Rally speech, the PM had further committed his government to getting its politics and policies right.

Then two weeks ago, he called for a “harmonious political system where we make decisions in the best interest of Singapore and Singaporeans and keep ourselves safe in this uncertain environment.” Singapore was “too small to afford an impasse and gridlock, to have two sides blocking one another, so you can’t move, you can’t solve problems, you can’t go ahead”.

So one would think the government would have played its part in fostering national unity. But consider the evidence.

One minister called us netizens the “lunatic fringe”, while the PM called internet communities “cowboy towns”, insultiing the inhabitants of those towns and showing his lack of knowledge of Westerns. Those towns were reasonably civilised places. They, at least, didn’t have respectable senior citizens burying hatchets into other folks. The town sheriff or a visiting US Marshall would have shot such a person dead, or arrested him; or the citizens would have lynched him.

Then we learnt that two statutory government agencies, the HDB and the PA (where the PM is the chairman),  tried, almost immediately, after the May GE to fix the WP that had won a GRC by taking away from the WP town council the right to lease out prime common spaces for community functions.

So let’s take PM’s latest message for unity with a big pinch of salt. He must mean unity on his and the PAP’s terms: unconditional surrender by the sheep (swing voters who constitute 45% of the voters) and the asses (the 20% who will vote for any ass if it is an anti-PAP ass) to the donkeys (the 35% who will vote for Tin Pei Ling because she is a PAP donkey).

But ironically, our very own Mr Bean, has got 65% of us animals united against him and the other leaders of the donkeys. So the joke is on our PM, aka Mr Bean. I’m being mean? Google up pixs of both and decide if they look alike.

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