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Posts Tagged ‘LKY’

Urban planning: a constrasting tale of UK cities & S’pore

In Environment, Infrastructure on 12/08/2014 at 4:21 am

As I’m still in a celebratory mood about past achievements, let’s remember a UK prophet and his prophecy of urban planning

This appeared in the Economists’s obituary on Sir Peter Hall, a leading UK urban planner:

At first, Mr Hall was an enthusiastic supporter of that top-down, rational approach. One of his early books, “London 2000”, published in 1963, argued that London and the south-east should be comprehensively rebuilt, with vast areas of the inner cities bulldozed and replaced by blocks of flats, winding streets by a rectilinear system of motorways and on-ramps, and pedestrians segregated from traffic by walkways in the sky. Detroit, the spiritual home of the motor car, was his guiding light. The planners, in their patrician wisdom, would determine where the people would live, where they would work, and how they would spend their leisure time.

Sounds familiar? He would have loved the PAP govt’s HDB programme which has won global accolades though not from anti-PAP cyber-warriors who missed out on the rise in HDB apartment prices and are banging their balls and cursing the PAP and the 60% who voted for the PAP in frustration.

But this top-down, rational approach didn’t work in the UK, He soon changed his mind. Wherever that approach was tried—in Birmingham, or Glasgow, or around the elevated Westway in north-west London—it caused exactly the sort of ugliness and alienation he had hoped to banish.

So,

In the 1970s he began arguing that one way to deal with urban decay might be a bonfire of regulations; the idea, he said, was to “recreate the Hong Kong of the 1950s and 1960s inside inner Liverpool or inner Glasgow”. That sort of fertile chaos, he came to believe, was exactly what made cities so important, and such exciting places to live. He was an early advocate of the view—these days the received wisdom—that by allowing people to form connections with like-minded colleagues, cities are the engines of a country’s economic, cultural and artistic life.

The HDB programme worked because we had pretty gd planners, a sheepish population (emigrants from Animal Farm?), and one LKY whose gang was not afraid to bang heads to make sure that the sheep people behaved responsibly in the new environment: rememer the punishments for littering and killer litter.

Funnily, the govt is now trying to diktat Sir Peter Hall’s “fertile chaos”* idea. Maybe taz why the SPF allowed the Little India riot to happen? And allow ang moh FTs to get drunk and to beat up locals? And PRC FTs to litter, dirty MRT stations?

Related posts:

LKY & greenery

Green S’pore

———–

*Btw, HK city in the 50s and 60s was not a pleasant place if one didn’t live in Repulse bay or on the Peak.

JB among most crime ridden city in the world/ LKY was not wrong

In Malaysia on 26/04/2014 at 6:51 am

Juz better than Guatemala City, Caracas in Venezuela and Joeburg in South Africa. All v v violent places.

http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.sg/2014/04/most-crime-ridden-cities-in-world.html

So LKY was NOT wrong in the 90s, in his analysis of JB! He was WRONG to apologise. Strange our constructive, nation-building not praising his foresight. Err maybe, he no longer considered constructive, nation-builder?

BTW JB is the capital of Iskandar . LOL

Iskandar flip flops agaim. When it started, notwithstanding its attempts to get local biz to relocate, it was telling the Arabs that it wanted to be another s’pore. The arabs wisely dids not buy into the BS. So it started trying its luck with SMEs and TLCs. Now …

Iskandar Malaysia is set to focus more on attracting higher-value manufacturing companies, in a move that may result in some lower-end Singapore businesses having to look for an alternative overseas destination where they can shift some of their operations as they grapple with higher costs and manpower constraints at home.

Mr Ismail Ibrahim, the chief executive of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), told TODAY in an interview that the special economic zone is shifting away from activities dependent on cheap labour.

“For the manufacturing sector, we are moving Iskandar Malaysia towards higher levels of the value chain. We want to see more of what we term as technology-intensive manufacturing activities and less of the low-cost kind of industries,” he said, adding that this has always been part of the IRDA’s planning.

http://www.todayonline.com/business/iskandar-move-away-being-low-cost-centre#inside

Ten years ago, Mr Lim — the owner of a Singapore food manufacturing company — purchased two industrial land plots across the Causeway, with the hope of shifting some of his operations to Johor Baru’s low-cost environment. He has yet to make that move as, after crunching the numbers, there is not a strong financial case.

“Iskandar is also facing issues of a manpower shortage and rising costs. Last year’s introduction of minimum wages and Goods and Services Tax are just part of it,” Mr Lim, who asked to keep his identity and the name of his company private, told TODAY. “The fact that Iskandar doesn’t have a free port also matters to a food company like us, because imported materials and exported products will be tariffed. Or we can go through Singapore’s ports — and fork out just as much for the cross-strait transport costs.”

The CEO’s comments come as anecdotal evidence suggests that some Singapore manufacturers do not see a compelling reason to move operations to Iskandar.

Singapore remains the biggest foreign investor in Iskandar, having committed a cumulative RM11 billion (S$4.23 billion) to the area as of January, showed data provided by the IRDA. This forms a key part of the RM133.07 billion overall investment that the region has attracted so far, of which RM47.82 billion has been committed to the manufacturing sector.

However, a closer look at the data reveals that although the overall investment amount has been increasing, the proportion of foreign investment in Iskandar has been steadily shrinking, from 55 per cent of the total in 2008 to 35 per cent currently, suggesting a slowdown in overseas interest.

http://www.todayonline.com/business/singapore-companies-have-mixed-views-iskandar

In 1973 Devan Nair foresaw today’s income inequality

In Political governance on 04/04/2014 at 5:21 am

I never tot of Devan Nair as a dissident until last week, His critical comments of one LKY and the PAP, I put down to the bitterness of being pensioned-off quietly, and then of being publicly humiliated when he complained of being pensioned-off. Devan Nair’s fall from grace and very public humiliation was to me poetic justice for someone who was seen by human rights and labour activists of helping the PAP enslave the workers who trusted him; a view I don’t share but taz another story.

Last week, I read a 1973 speech in which he

– attacked the consequences of a “meritocratic society”: elitism;

– expected a growing disparity in incomes;

– accused the new elite of a lack of general social concern or commitment; and

– said that S’pore would not turn out the way he and the other leaders of the PAP had envisioned.

He said,

My colleagues and I in the NTUC have done our part to persuade the workers to accept the growing income differentials between them and the burgeoning new elite of Singapore — the professionals, technocrats and management executives. We think our workers are sophisticated enough not to grudge the new elite their extra perks and special privileges but what they do resent is the lack of any tangible signs of general social concern or commitment on the part of the new
elite.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/emerging-elite/ Check out the person behind vthe site a KC gal living in the US. She doesn’t deserve the SPG tag that KC gals get affixed with even by ST editors)

Remember this was said when the PM (LKY was drawing a salary of $4,000 a month, less than $8,000 that David Marshall drew in 1957) and a salary of $100,000 a yr made the headlines of ST (Haw Par’s incoming expat MD’s salary).

As to a different S’pore from what the PAP leaders had envisioned: it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

They (including one LKY I suspect) would have been disappointed if they knew then (in 1973) that in the noughties,

– the PAP in the 2011 GE would only get 60% of the popular vote despite a growing economy that did not benefit many of  the voters (in 1973, the growing economy benefited most voters);

– two cabinet ministers (one a very senior one) would lose their seats convincingly;

– the PAP govt would lose its reputation for managerial efficiency: think the public tpt problems, the hospital bed shortage, the security breaches, the riot; or

– the PAP’s preferred presidential candidate would win by the shortest of short noses

So why didn’t he do something about it?

In 1973, he was not someone to be trifled with.  He was Sec-Gen of the NTUC, a charismatic speaker and he had credibility with the workers.  True they had effectively lost the right to strike, but in return they had benefited from strong economic growth, the result of MNCs setting up here to take adv of the labour laws protecting employers. In 1983, he got Lim Chee Onn (a scholar) sacked as NTUC Sec-Gen for not being able to connect with the workers. That was how powerful he was. (BTW, Lim Chee Onn turned to be a gd executive at Keppel, for which shareholders like me are grateful.)

Three connected answers suggest themselves hesitatingly, tentatively: He couldn’t because although he was in charge of the NTUC and had the support of the workers, the NTUC was so intertwined with the PAP and the govt that no one man could not break the bonds: even someone like him.

Then too LKY was at the zenith of his intellectual and political power. A person of Devan’s high EQ and IQ would realise that taking on LKY meant defeat.

Finally he still in 1973, tot the world of one LKY, and that the individual must be subordinated to the interest of society, ideas that had serious flaws to say the very least. In the same speech he said,

It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

So maybe he tried working within the system to try to change it?

The tragedy of Devan Nair is that he

– realised (14 yrs after the PAP gained power, 8 yrs after he independence) that he had helped create a society that was going the “wrong” way; and

– he couldn’t do anything to prevent it.

If there is a memorial to honour him these words should be engraved, Indeed, it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

Actually, thinking about it, these words should appear on any memorial to any other dead PAP leader (including LKY when he has moved on) or on the PAP’s building.

 

Back to the future: LKY, Dr Chee & the SDP agree on …

In Political governance, Public Administration on 26/02/2014 at 4:28 am

One LKY in 1957 said in the legislative assembly :

For cheap labour, they [the British] allowed unrestricted immigration without any plan, without any policy and without any intention of creating or preserving the self. I do not condemn the immigration as such, but I condemn the government which has no regard for the people of the country who have been assimilated and did not bother to educate or to provide education for those coming in. Today, with the renaissance of the motherland of each of the immigration groups, chauvinist tendencies are incited. Yet at this critical juncture we have to call upon these immigrants to give this country their undivided loyalty.

(S’pore Notes: http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2014/02/the-wit-wisdom-of-lee-kuan-yew.html)

In 2013, at Hong Lim Green (the people’s parly?), Dr Chee said, “A word of caution, I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”, can be simplified to “We disagree with the govt’s pro-FT policy, not the foreigners working here. We are unhappy with the “FTs first, citizens last” attitude of the govt because …”  http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/easy-to-avoid-xenophobe-label/

Dr Chee got CIA time machine? Went back in time to influence LKY?

Seriously, by raising the issue of the PAP’s govt immigration policies on S’pore society, Dr Chee, the SDP and many others are juz reflecting what LKY tot in 1957.

After all, S’pore could be returning to a similar situation to that in 1957. In 2013, I wrote: A Citigroup report noted that the White Paper projects the dilution of Singapore-born citizens from 62% of the population to just 55% in 2030 based on number of new FT citizens that the govt plans to bring in projects to come in naturally: 15,000 – 25,000 annually.

In 1959, according to Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962) only 270,00 out of the 600,000 voters were born here i.e. there only 45% of the voters were born here. The rest were the FT “new” citizens of the day. (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/population-white-paper-2030-will-resemble-1959/)

Just a few “honest mistakes” by Home Team officers (we know that they can be unfit for purpose: recent riot*and border and internal security**, etc***) and in 2030 the voters born here could be 45%, not 55% juz like in 1959 (two yrs after LKY made the above statement. In all probability, in 1957, true blue S’poreans were 45% of the voters.

—–

*“The police had arrived,” Mr Selvam said. “They stood there and did nothing. Ah, the police approve of what I am doing,” he said, suggesting what the rioters would or might have been thinking then, as they continued to hurl projectiles at the bus and at the officers, and eventually setting security vehicles and an ambulance on fire.

“[The rioters] had full freedom to do what they wanted – namely, to burn the bus, burn the vehicles, attack you,” the former judge said.

“A lot of things were wrong,” Mr Tee said. “Are you showing weakness and emboldened them? That could be the reason why they became more violent.”

Mr Selvam said, “They were rioting. What did you do?” [Former Supreme Court judge G. Pannir Selvam is the COI's chairman, while former Police Commissioner Tee Tua Ba, is a member of the COI] )

**http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2014/01/could-have-been-worse.html

***All the problems at Home Team over recent yrs (corruption, Ang Moh tua kee attitude, PR status for possible criminals etc etc) show that it was badly run when Wong Kan Seng was the Home minister. There should be a claw-back of the millions he earned as a minister.

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/

LKY answered Ngiam Tong Dow’s F1 question

In Public Administration, Tourism on 06/10/2013 at 5:18 am

Ngiam Tong Dow said: “My favourite topic — I’m on public record — is Formula 1 (F1). We’re paying the Englishmen to stage the F1 night race here. Why should we use taxpayers’ money to pay for these races? I have asked this question publicly, but the MOF has never addressed it.”

Maybe MOF didn’t, but LKY did juz before F1 came to S’pore, LKY said, when it was first suggested to him yrs ago, he didn’t believe it as something that could contribute to S’pore’s development. He was only convinced about its development potential, after F1 became massively popular and had already gone to KL. By then, Berniewas tua kee, with every aspiring global city wanting to stage a race, and many of them had cash pouring out of their ears.

BTW, the S’pore organisers were very clear that they couldn’t make money without govt help.

Taz history. There is an alternative on the horizon that S’pore should be trying to take advantage of:

… all-electric grand prix called Formula E, which gets under way in London in September 2014. Other races are planned in Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Miami, Monaco, Putrajaya, Rio de Janeiro and Rome.

Some big names have already signed up to support Formula E, including DHL, a logistics giant, and Qualcomm, an American technology group. But the commercial potential, and the ability to draw a large audience, will need to be proved before Formula E becomes a technological race. Then, provided the teams can come up with better batteries, electric motors and power electronics, electric racing cars really could, one day, mount a serious challenge to the petrol-heads’ F1 cars.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/09/economist-explains-14

In addition, to not paying much (maybe very little), seeing Formula E is a new brand, as the circuit here slows the F1 cars down considerably, a Formula E race here would be gd for Formula E to camouflage its main weakness: slower cars. The twisting, turning race would be juz as exciting for racing fans. Heck, we might even get it for free.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is the second slowest 23-turn circuit on the calendar after Monaco, with an average speed of 172kph. Approximately 46% of the lap is taken at full throttle, compared with over 75% at Monza.

The twisting layout is hard on the brakes, while the gearboxes also take a beating, with around 80 gear changes per lap.

Drivers will complete 61 laps in the race – in 30C heat and 70% humidity – which takes a little under two hours to complete.

A change to the circuit this year is at turn 10 – dubbed the Singapore Sling. The original layout, a three-turn chicane, was seen as dangerous by drivers with Kimi Raikkonen crashing there in 2008 and Lewis Hamilton describing it as ‘the worst corner in Formula 1′.

This year, it has been turned into a single-apex left-hand bend and, without the chicane, lap times are expected to be lower. BBC report

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/formula-e-the-new-f1-why-cant-msm-report-f1-event-like-this/

Since we staged the first Kiddie Games, overspending in the process, why don’t we join this circuit? True in addition to F1, it would inconvenient us for another few days in a yr, but what the heck. Let’s try it. BTW Bernie is pretty relaxed about Formula E competing with F1, so he shouldn’t object.

Format of race: Each of the ten teams will have two drivers. But unlike F1, each driver will have two cars. Hence 40 SRT-01Es in all are being built by Spark Racing Technologies, a French firm, in collaboration with Renault and a number of other motorsports companies, including McLaren, Michelin and Williams. With present battery technology the cars will run out of juice after about 25 minutes in a race that is supposed to last around an hour. So each driver must make at least two pit-stops to change cars—sprinting 100 metres between each car in the old Le Mans style. As an added twist, one of the cars will be a sprint version capable of greater acceleration while the other will have more endurance. Flat out, the SRT-01Es will reach a top speed of around 225kph (140mph), whereas F1 cars top 300kph on some circuits. But on the short, twisting closed-off city streets which will be used by the electric racers, they will be spectacularly quick. And because of the instant torque provided by electric motors, they can accelerate to 100kph in just three seconds. Nor will they be quiet, because of the sound made by the cars’ tyres, electric motors and aerodynamics at speed.

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.

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.

LKY gets kicked in the balls

In Financial competency, Footie, Humour on 08/11/2012 at 10:28 am

“I’ve seen their property values going up, five times, 10 times, 15 times, 20 times,” our MSM reported him as saying recently.

This is what the SDP said in response, “Yes, and what for? To feel rich? Under the SDP Plan, Singaporeans don’t just have to feel rich. They can have their NOM flats and not be indebted for the rest of their lives. They can have financial security and lead fulfilling lives.” http://yoursdp.org/news/sdp_responds_to_lee_kuan_yew_on_housing/2012-11-07-5435

No comment about about SDP’s plans (this is what ST reported “experts” say): thinking about it. But it sure got great PR people team. Maybe PAP or govt should offer them jobs? MP Baey should recruit them for his firm? Can’t be good for H&R’s local and Asean practice that SDP is running rings round PAP and govt? The Dark Side can offer serious money, unlike the SDP. Unless of course, the rumours of CIA funding are not true. An SDP groupie assures me that CIA funding rumours are juz rumours. SDP as poor as Anglican church mice. Catholic church mice got serious money, what with Tony Tan (the president, not Hazel Poa’s hubbie) and George Yeo as members. Goes without saying that Methodist mice got $. Think Ng Eng Hen and wife (SingHeath CEO), and TJS’s in-laws.

Three cheers for ST: for once

In Humour on 05/11/2012 at 8:09 am

ST has been getting a lot of flak from me and others recently. And I got a few more bitches lined for later this week and beyond.

But it does shumethings right. MediaCorp’s free-sheet today described one LKY as “former Minister Mentor” which I tot was pretty insulting. While technically not wrong, describing him “former prime minister” is not only more respectful but the proper description, protocol-wise. ST got it right!

Though if ST describes one GCT as  “former prime minister”, one might raise an eyebrow at this description. Many S’poreans (self included) didn’t think that he was running the cabinet, let alone the country.

It would be most correct to call ESM, “former Prime Minister”. Note this sentence was added at about 9.50am on day of publication.

Rewriting LKY’s views on FTs? And, if so, why?

In Humour, Political economy on 17/09/2012 at 5:57 am

(Or “LKY has repented? No we got him wrong” or “LKY, no FT lover, no hater of locals”)

I came across this about a month ago, but didn’t comment, waiting to see if anyone other self had picked it up No blogger did, and I forget abt my plans to blog on it until a few days ago.

“If we go on like that, this place will fold up, because there’ll be no original citizens left to form the majority, and we cannot have new citizens, new PRs to settle our social ethos, our social spirit, our social norms …
accept migrants at the rate at which we can assimilate them and make them conform to our values, ” LKY.

I was stunned and shocked to hear him talk of  wanting “original citizens” (who he said need spurring ’cause they are less hard-working than his beloved FTs)  “to form the majority”, and that his beloved FTs (“new citizens, new PRs’) cannot and should not “settle our social ethos, our social spirit, our social norms”.

I had tot he wanted S’pore to be over-run with FTs because he was liked the solution proposed (ironically) in this poem

After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers Union

Had leaflets distributed …

Stating that the people

Had thrown away the confidence of the government

And could win it back only

By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

(The writer, Bertolt Brecht, was a famous playwright,  a Hollywood screen writer in the golden years of Hollywood in the 1930s) and a Marxist activist.)

What next from him? Malays are loyal to S’pore?

A few days ago, I was reminded of the above remark when I read this from a PAP apologist from the top of our constructive, nation-building ST: seems as far back as 1971, LKY has been concerned abt FTs over-running S’pore. If so how come his acolyte Wong Kan Seng when he was head of Home Team allowed PRC hawkers, a slutty looking, violent, cheating shop assistant, and an ang moh awaiting trial for beating up a S’porean PR status? Or that the government from the late 1990s onwards imported FTs by the cattle truck load.

Well the piece fooled many thinking S’poreans.  S’poreans who saw it as vindication that even a worm like a true blue ST man can turn on a  PAP policy i.e. ST is changing for the better. I had no such tots. I focused on the dates when LKY said:

– “And if you take too many, then instead of our values being superimposed on them, they will bring us down to their values because it’s easier to be untidy, scruffy, dirty, anti-social than to be disciplined, well-behaved and a good citizen.” (1971)

– “There will be cultural, linguistic, social and political problems. /Well, those cultural, linguistic, social and political problems have now come to roost, 40 years on.” (1978).

Err, these were the two examples quoted in 1971 and 1978. Then we have to jump to to August 2012 for the third one which I quoted above. Nothing in between?

A cynic could conclude that there is some rewriting of history, that despite all his praise of FTs and denigrating locals, and the pro FT policies, LKY cared about S’poreans being swarmed by FTs, and that he expressed this in 1971 and 1978.

Possible motives:

– To correct the perception (or is it misperception?) that LKY prefers FTs to S’poreans in S’poreans. The aim is to protect his legacy as one of the founders of modern S’pore. Bit difficult to have an icon of S’pore who prefers FTs to locals, even if he did a lot for S’poreans, which he did, and all but the likes of KennethJ and Dr Chee would agree he did.

– Another could be to show that when he was in charge, he had different views on the role of FTs then Goh Chok Tong or his son.

The spin doctors have to do better. They had better look for statements post 1978 but pre August 2012, expressing the view S’poreans should not be swamped by FTs. LKY was PM until 1990, and S’poreans believe that until recently, he had the final say on any important policy. And then there are all the pro-FT statements. And those denigrating locals.

Whatever it is, join me in a belated birthday greeting to LKY. The team that he headed in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and S’poreans made S’pore a developed world city. Too bad abt the team in the 90s and noughties, of which he was a part. And the son’s doing a decent job of correcting the mistakes of the 90s and noughties (despite being a leading player in the mistakes). But I wish he hadn’t started NatCon.

BTW, I taking up the challenge of compiling a list of things that the WP did not do in response to a challenge from a WP groupie upset with last Fri’s piece. Looking for sponsors to fund it (No peanuts pls). Or for help to draw up the list. Against my principles to do anything for free for the PAP, who always say, “No free lunch”. But who have a freebie via the PA, widely perceived as an arm of the PAP, even if it is tax-payer funded.

NatCon: What Dale Carnegie & dad can teach PM

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 10/09/2012 at 4:46 am

Two quotes from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, that could teach PM, Heng, Sim Ann and other ministers a trick or two:

– “No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We much prefer to feel that we are buying of our own accord or acting on our own ideas. We like to be consulted about our wishes, our wants, our thoughts.” (Actually Auntie Sun’s hubby, pastor Kong, could teach them this, what with his Sentosa Cove penthse to prove it. But PAPpies prefer to learn from FTs.)

– “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”

The second quote explains why PM’s dad (and a hero, flawed, of mine) was successful in getting S’poreans to vote for him and the PAP despite his bullying, thuggish ways.

He spoke to S’poreans of his and older generations what they wanted to hear: “A better life for yrself and yr family.”

And how to achieve it: “Vote for the PAP and accept my policies be they throwing dissidents into prison without trial (anyway they are commies who want to steal yr money or work you to death), and have union leaders like Devan Nair who are my running dogs, and accept my lectures, hectoring, thuggery and bullying.”

He got the message right* and delivered the prosperity bit (whether or not the prosperity was the result of his** policies and methods is open to debate***) for most elderly S’poreans. True, there are some elderly S’poreans who missed the prosperity (and who now need to be helped), but in general, many are reasonably well-off, especially if they suffer from severe illnesses. I’ve relations much older or juz slightly older who have benefited from the then HDB housing policies of the 70s and 80s. And who are benefitting from the present healthcare system.

(One said during the Chinese New Year, “We were poor when we were young. Thank the Lord (her family are Christians) that in our old age we are comfortable. Nothing worse than being poor when old.”)

They are the first to admit it, their children and grandchildren are not finding life that easy. But hey LKY’s only a mortal, even if at times the constructive, nation-building media, esp ST, portrayed him as a demigod.

———————–

*And he is a genius when it comes to marketing “Authentic marketing is not the art of selling what you make but knowing what to make.” Philip Kotler, academic (1931–), Marketing Management (1967)

Above and more marketing quotes from http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/09/z-business-quotations

The problem. is that since the late 1980s or early 1990s, the PAP wants S’poreans to do want the PAP wants them to do; but it is unwilling (and unable) to promise S’poreans material prosperity in return. It is only willing to say,”We will try to help you achieve material prosperity. But we still want yr soul.”

The governing PAP used gimmicks, like asset enhancement inflation and indiscriminate importing of , that have backfired on the PAP because of their negative consequences, intended or otherwise, on S’poreans.

**And don’t forget the role that Dr Goh Keng Swee, Lim Kim San, Hon Sui Sen and Ngiam Tong Dow played in the economic policies. They wisely left the bullying, lecturing hectoring and thuggishness to LKY.

***Remember that in the 1960s and 1970s, S’pore was one of the few places (HK was another) that welcomed MNCs to set-up factories. MNCs were looked upon as a form of neo-colonialism by most of the developing world. Today, every developing country wants MNCs to set-up factories. So credit must be given to the PAP for this policy. But as we know, this policy resulted in the lack of home-grown companies like Foxcomm and HTC in Taiwan and Samsung in Korea. But breeding these cos led to problems in these countries.

“30-yr” GIC investment Citi almost junk

In Banks, GIC on 23/06/2012 at 9:25 am

15 major banks* (including another GIC investment UBS)  were hit with credit downgrades on Thursday that could do more damage to their profitability, credit worthiness and further unsettle equity markets.

The credit agency, Moody’s Investors Service, which warned banks in February that a downgrade was possible, cut the credit scores of banks to new lows to reflect new risks that the industry has encountered since the financial crisis.

Citigroup was among the hardest hit. After the downgrades, the bank stands barely above the minimum for an investment grade rating, a sign of the difficult business conditions it faces.

Banks have struggled to improve their profits against the backdrop of the European sovereign debt crisis, a weak American economy and new regulations. The downgrades may amplify their problems. With lower ratings, creditors could charge the banks more on their loans. Big clients may also move their business to less-risky companies, further affecting earnings.

Wonder if LKY, who made the 30-yr comment, has repented making the comment?

Update

Citi bitches: Citi said in a statement that Moody’s approach “fails to recognize Citi’s transformation over the past several years,” adding that “Citi strongly disagrees with Moody’s analysis of the banking industry and firmly believes its downgrade of Citi is arbitrary and completely unwarranted.”

But more woes: Citigroup seen as vulnerable to emerging markets’ currency movements Charles Peabody, an analyst for Portales Partners, estimated on “Bloomberg Surveillance” that $3 billion to $5 billion of Citigroup’s book value was vulnerable to changes in the value of the Mexican peso and the Brazilian real http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-20/citigroup-may-take-5-billion-hit-on-forex-peabody-says.html

Good news: It claims it is boosting revenue at its corporate and investment banking unit in with rising fees from debt underwriting and cash management as initial public offerings shrink http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-18/citigroup-asia-fees-rising-as-debt-sales-counter-equity-slowdown.html.

—–

*Bank of America, Citigroup Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, UBS, HSBC, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, Royal Bank of Canada, and Royal Bank of Scotland.

My S’pore: A greener & more pleasant land

In Environment on 19/06/2012 at 6:01 am

Swiss Gardens in the Sky

A few weeks ago, a Swiss architect suggested in a newspaper article that S’pore creates gardens in the sky using our high-rise buildings. I tot, “What a lovely idea” and had visions of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon with flowering creepers on the sides of high-rises, and fountains, formal gardens and ponds on the roofs. Yup, very decadent fascist visions of greenery.

Well the reality in Switzerland is more prosaic and just as wonderful : Living roofs recapture what is now essentially negative space within the city and turn it into a chain of rooftop islands that connect with the countryside at large.

 http://www.bbc.com/travel/slideshow/20120608-switzerlands-habitats-in-the-sky

This being S’pore, we could use HDB roof-tops to be self-sufficient in basic veggies, and range-free eggs.

And lest we forget, LKY was all for green and pleasant spaces before they became fashionable among the local chattering classes http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/lest-we-forget-mms-responsible-for-our-greenery/

If he were running S’pore, I’m sure he would crack the whip, and spur the serfs  to convert existing roof-tops into oases or, if you prefer, islands, of greenery especially as it would make S’pore cooler. He loves cooler temperatures. I’m with him on greenery and cooler temperatures.

Why keep the ex-railway corridor green

It can together with the Swiss-style gardens in the sky be our”unofficial countryside”.

Richard Mabey has memorably called the “unofficial countryside” – Britain’s roadside verges and railway cuttings, canal towpaths and brownfield sites. This also includes the million or so acres of private gardens … and bigger than all the nature reserves in Britain put together.

These places – many of them in the heart of our towns and cities – provide a vital oasis for Britain’s wild creatures, a haven as important as anywhere in the British Isles for supporting a diverse range of plants and animals. Perhaps because of the wide range of wildlife found in our urban areas, and the frequency with which we encounter these city creatures, urban Britons are just as connected to nature as – arguably sometimes more so than – their rural neighbours. The countryside and those who live there no longer have a monopoly on nature. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/19/wildlife-british-cities-stephen-moss

While we won’t have tigers, tapir and deer; and don’t want wild boars; we could have civet cats, mouse deer and “padi” mice in the corridor.

LKY isn’t always wrong

In Humour on 06/05/2012 at 6:13 pm

Being bilingual ‘boosts brain power’ Learning a second language can boost brain power, scientists believe.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17892521

My serious and sad point is that netizens of cowboy towns instinctively think he is wrong, juz the opposite of the constructive, nation-building media who refuse to believe that he can ever be wrong, until he comes out to say he is wrong.

The truth is somewhere in between. Although he cannot be compared to Mao (juz as S’pore cannot be compared to China), what the Chinese Communist Party says of Mao can be applied to LKY: he got more things right than wrong.

Lest we forget: MM’s responsible for our greenery

In Environment on 10/12/2010 at 5:22 am

What has having a green environment do for us?

Well A Dutch study suggests every 10% increase in green space can postpone health complaints in communities by five years. And a US study is regularly cited to suggest patients that have a view of nature through hospital windows recover better after surgery.

And as this is S’pore, where moneytheism  is the be-all and end all of life.

It is almost an accepted wisdom that a property positioned on a pretty tree-lined street surrounded by shrubbery is more appealing than its counterpart on a concrete-clad bare and barren road.

Some British and US surveys suggest a lush lawn or well-landscaped yard can improve property prices by as much as 15%.

BBC Online article

Younger S’poreans might not realise that in the 70s, one LKY started the green campaign, which included planting more tress. As an NS man, I was not impressed, weekends were burnt planting trees.


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