atans1

Posts Tagged ‘PAP’

Why SMC should act against PAP MP

In Humour, Malaysia, Political governance on 16/04/2014 at 4:18 am

One day after foot-in-mouth* and eye specialist Dr Lim Wee Kiak retracted his criticisms of M’sia’s handling of the MH 370, Reuters reported  Malaysia’s government has begun investigating civil aviation and military authorities to determine why opportunities to identify and track … MH370 were missed in the chaotic hours after it vanished, two officials said*.

(http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/11/malaysia-airplane-investigation-idINDEEA3A06M20140411)

If only he waited another day, he would have come up roses, in his original criticism. And the govt would have edlook stupid in implicitly castigating him.

Seriously, if the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) can censure plastic surgeon Dr Woolly Woffles Wu for getting his employee to take the blame for his speeding offences in 2005 and 2006 when the courts take a lenient view of this offence (unlike the UK where it is considered a perversion of justice, jailable up to eight months http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-23282995), it should censure Dr Lim for stupidity.

SMC is suspending Dr Wu from practice for four months, saying that in arriving at an appropriate sanction, its role was to consider what penalties would be sufficient and of specific deterrence such that no registered medical practitioner would want to take the risk to commit such an offence that would lower the standing of the medical profession.

Well the same should apply for doctors who consistently talk rubbish in public.

SMC also said that Woffles had “tarnished the good name of the profession”, “instead of setting a good example for younger practitioners to emulate”.

Well does SMC want young doctors to emulate Dr Lim? They would if they don’t take him to task for making stupid remarks.

Dr Wu’s seniority and standing in the medical profession was also found to be an aggravating factor, said the SMC.

Well Dr Lim is a senior doctor too. He too makes serious money.

As the PAP is short-listing its candidates for the next GE, it might to consider eye doctors a miss, and retiring those it already has. Think VivianB and Dr Lim, and one can draw reasonable conclusions about the kind of people who become eye doctors and PAP MPs.

—-

*“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals. Hence, a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity,” Dr Lim told LianHe ZaoBao in Chinese.

**The story reported portrays the dysfunctional M’sian system:

A sixth source, a senior official in the civil aviation sector, said the plane’s disappearance had exposed bureaucratic dysfunction in Malaysia, which has rarely been subject to such international demands for transparency. “There was never the need for these silos to speak to one another. It’s not because of ill intent, it’s just the way the system was set up,” the official said.

The accounts given to Reuters reveal growing tensions between civilian officials, the military and Malaysia Airlines over whether more could have been done in those initial hours.

One of the Reuters sources said military officials in particular were concerned they could lose their jobs.

Tensions have also emerged between the government and state-controlled Malaysia Airlines.

 

NTUC: What Devan Nair got wrong

In Political governance on 11/04/2014 at 5:49 am

The NTUC has a clown cabinet minister and its own MPs within the PAP.The last time it approved of a strike was decades ago (2 Jan 1986). The PAP govt frowns on strikes, and NTUC has to be constructive, and nation-building, like the local media. The PAP govt knows best leh.

Once upon a time the PAP was strike friendly. In 1960 125,000 man-hours were lost in strikes compared with only 26.000 in 1959. The person who reported this statistic, the outgoing head of the S’pore Chamber of Commerce called for an inquiry into where the trade union movement was leading S’pore.

Woodhull, a union man (Singapore Trades Union Congress) and a PAP cadre and activist (later arrested in Coldstore) said in the 6 months before the PAP took power in 1959, the workers were “repressed”. So the jump in strikes was to be expected when they were liberated. (Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962))

Well the PAP soon grew less-strike friendly as the economy was affected by strikes and an economic slowdown.

LKY and the other PAP leaders (remember he was only first among equals) decided to form a new trade union movement. National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was created in 1961 when the Singapore Trades Union Congress (STUC), which had backed the People’s Action Party (PAP), split into the NTUC and the Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU). In 1963, the government detained SATU’s leaders during Operation Coldstore and deregistered it.

Only NTUC was left standing: competition eliminated. It never had to persuade the workers that its plans were better.

Devan Nair as a founder of the NTUC and as its first Sec-Gen had a different idea of the role of unions from the one of union leaders in the S’pore of the 1950s: one where the govt, unions and businessmen collaborated for the public good, and where general economic prosperity benefited the employers and their workers.

He (and other PAP leaders) publicly said that they had in mind the German model of industrial relations: “The most notable of such experiments have been by the Staedtler, Carl Zeiss, Robert Bosch, Gert Spindler and Rexroth undertakings in West Germany, and the John Lewis and Scott-Bader enterprises in England.” The last two were British worker co-operatives. John Lewis is still a model for the co-operative way of doing things.

They hated the traditional British model despite (perhaps because) many of the leaders having studied there, and despite the English-educated leaders having influenced by British socialist thinkers, the Fabian Society and the British Labour party. Devan Nair (not one of the UK educated leaders) quoting a British writer, Mr. Folkert Wilken, on the subject:

“It is an inveterate evil of the traditional structure of trade unions, that in order to exist they must struggle to recruit members, and to make membership appear in the most attractive light. They are therefore under constant compulsion to prove the necessity of their existence. They have to institute periodic and militant proceedings for increased wages and shorter hours. By doing this, they are appealing to the egotistic interests of the workers. Thus, they never appeal to the social ideals dormant in the workers. They cannot, for they do not consider it their duty to further such ideals, and have no clear picture of the practical realisation of these ideals. They therefore wish to persevere in their war for higher wages and less work. To these aims they owed their birth, a hundred years ago. But then, those aims were justified by the conditions of the time, as they are always justified when there is capitalistic exploitation of labour.”

The virus of the British industrial disease is also latent in Singapore** and could develop a malignant potency in future years, if our social thinkers and planners do not give thought to the development of corrective and remedial measures.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/wages-alone/)

Funnily for an ex-communist, he never ever mentioned (at least publicly: I’m happy to stand corrected on this point) that the NTUC was modeled on the Soviet Union’s and Communist China’s trade unions’ movements (Just like one LKY kept insisting that the PAP was modeled on the Roman Catholic Church when in fact it was modeled on the Soviet communist party and the Chinese communist party that imitated its structure. The ideas and principles of both organisations followed those of Lenin). The unions were subordinate to the leaders of the communist party who were also the leaders of the govt, the countries being one party states.  They were not equal partners to the govt or the employers (state-owned). This didn’t matter because the communist party represented the interests of the workers, the proletariat.

Devan Nair wanted to improve the working conditions and life of the workers, but he was willingly to use a model that had shown itself capable of exploiting the workers; a system that depended on the whims and fancies of the political leader, there being no institutional checks to their power. No need to have checks and balances because the party and hence its leaders represented the workers.

I’m sure that such a smart man (in EQ and IQ) would have realised the danger especially as he was a well read man (his speeches seem to indicate this, or did he have a good speech writer?). But as he tot the world of LKY****, he created (with others) the NTUC based on the Leninist model.

As I pointed out earlier, by 1973, he may have recognised the problems S’pore was going to face if it continued on the PAP govt’s chosen trajectory, but he was impotent to change the system. He had helped create a union movement that was subordinate to the ruling govt in a defacto one-party state. .The NTUC would improve the life of the the workers only if the govt wanted to take care of the workers. If it didn’t, the NTUC would not be in a position to help the workers. It would only spin the govt’s propaganda, like Squealer in Animal Farm, explaining why the other farm animals had to endure hardship.

When in the mid 1990s, the govt realised that S’pore was losing its competitive edge (a fact, not a Hard Truth or Heart Truth) and it tot that economic growth required real wages to be held down and real estate prices to be inflated*** the workers had to accept the nasty consequences. The NTUC was part of the machinery of govt. As to protesting, well sheep S’poreans don’t protest: they juz bleat*****. Besides, S’poreans are law abiding and protests (Hong Leong excepted) and strikes need official permission, Hong Leong excepted.

NTUC, as a champion of the workers, was flawed from its conception, a bit like the creature that Dr Frankenstein created. For that, Devan Nair, whatever his good intentions, must accept part of the blame.

One wonders whether when Lim Chin Seong and Fong Swee Suan, Woodhull  and other radical left unionists met Devan Nair in the afterlife, they chorused,”Dr Frankenstein, we presume?”?

—–

*(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/

**Bit ironical this given that PAP activists were in the forefront of the strikes.

***OK, OK, I exaggerate. But go ask Mah Bow Tan.

****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.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/in-1973-devan-nair-foresaw-todays-income-inequality/

*****They always have. It’s juz that the internet and social media have amplified the once soft bleats. Take away the anonymity of the internet and social media and there will be a reurn to the silence of the lambs.

Footie: When team losing, don’t sack mgr

In Footie on 30/03/2014 at 10:13 am

MU owners and fans are still behind Moysie despite a season that is worse than the worst nightmares. Nice of fans to cheer him at Old Trafford last night. And they may be right to remain sanguine.

Graph comparing performance

Ter Weel analysed managerial turnover across 18 seasons (1986-2004) of the Dutch premier division, the Eredivisie. As well as looking at what happened to teams who sacked their manager when the going got tough, he looked at those who had faced a similar slump in form but who stood by their boss to ride out the crisis.

He found that both groups faced a similar pattern of declines and improvements in form … he argues that this finding is not specific to the Netherlands. Major football leagues in Europe, including England, Germany, Italy and Spain also bore out the same conclusion – teams suffering an uncharacteristic slump in form will bounce back and return to their normal long-term position in the league, regardless of whether they replace their manager or not.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23724517

As PM now watches the LionsXII (at least when they are winning), he may use this “fact” as a Hard Truth on why we shouldn’t give the PAP the sack.

Which voter are you?

In Political governance on 28/03/2014 at 4:53 am

Came across something interesting (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-26689333) that can be used to analyse (ok pontificate on or BS on) voting patterns in S’pore.

1. Comfortable Nostalgia: “They tend to be older, more traditional voters who dislike the social and cultural changes they see as altering [country] for the worse.”

2. Optimistic Contentment: “Confident, comfortable & usually on higher incomes they are prudent & tolerant but think [country] is a soft touch.”

3. Calm Persistence: “Often coping rather than comfortable, they hope rather than expect things to get better.”

4. Hard-pressed Anxiety: “Pessimistic & insecure, these people want more help from government and resent competition for that help particularly from new-comers.”

5. Long-term Despair: “Many are serial strugglers; angry & alienated they feel little or no stake in the country or that anyone stands up for them.”

6. Cosmopolitan Critics: “Generally younger, more secular and urban-based, worried about growing inequality & the general direction the country is going in.”

“Comfortable Nostalgia” and “Optimistic Contentment” (me?) would be daft not to vote PAP, while “Hard-pressed Anxiety”, “Long-term Despair” and  “Cosmopolitan Critics” would surely vote for the opposition to the PAP? Though after the 2011 GE, Eric Tan (remember him?) told me that it was a surprise voters that well-off S’poreans, who could see that their children (grown -up or growining up) were not or would not enjoy the good life that they had or have, voted for the opposition.

The fight would be for the “Calm Persistence” voters, and the “Hard Pressed Anxiety”?

But if the SDP and WP decide to fight each other and the PAP, there will be problems  because based on the results of PE 2011, the SDP has most of the votes of the “Long-term Despair” and  “Cosmopolitan Critics”; while the WP has support among “Calm Persistence” even if the RI doctors in the SDP fall into this group), and “Hard-pressed Anxiety” (the SDP and WP share votes with some “daft” ones voting PAP ). By avoiding three-way fights, these two parties and the Chiams, NSP and the clowns other parties make sure that the anti-PAP voters are used to maximum effect.

Hence the uproar when Mad Dog Chee (escaped his RI doctors?) wanted to fight the WP in Punggol-East. Fortunately, the roar of protest shocked him into sanity, and treatment.

BTW, I think based on the postings on TREthe majority of TRE posters would seem fall into  the “Hard-pressed Anxiety”and “Long-term Despair” (i.e. into the losers) even though TeamTRE belongs in the “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety”  categories: the only people who would spend time and money on doing what they believe is right, even if the losers are freeloading on their efforts.

TOC’s editors, team and natural readers would fall into fall into the”Calm Persistence” “Hard-pressed Anxiety”and .”Cosmopolitan Critics” groups.

Those who read this blog (not via TRE) are in 1-5. Why TRE republishes me I know not. Maybe it’s to tell the losers that life is more complex than the PAP’s demand (“For us or against us”) that the losers seem to have adopted?  Or maybe because it knows that there is a silent majority of readers in the “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety”. Could be as TRE has raised the funds to keep on going for another year. So maybe the TRE community is more than losers freeloading on the efforts TeamTRE?

Finally, as to why I’m not a PAP supporter, it’s largely ’cause* I don’t like the PAP’s attitude of insisting on the imposing the “right” values on S’poreans (even if I may agree with many these values like hating free-loaders and losers who expect something for nothing). I believe that:

… pensioners would be free to spend their savings on a Lamborghini following a rule change in the Budget.

From 2015, people reaching retirement age will be able to use pension pots however they want, rather than having to buy a guaranteed annual income.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said it was people’s “choice” whether to buy Italian Lamborghini sports cars.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-26649162

It’s our choice to do dumb things provided we are prepared to live with the consequences without moaning and groaning.

*Also I believe that a one-party state is bad for S’pore. For that think the problems in public transport and housing  that the PAP caused. BTW, one could argue that its recent changes in its public housing and tpt policies and its seeming change in FT PMET policy is geared at winning the “Calm Persistent” voters over and moving “Hard Pressed Anxiety” voters into the “Calm Persistent” group; and the “Calm Persistent” voters into the “Optimistic Contentment’ category. It’s also trying to show S’poreans that the gd life can still be found here.

Reason why S’poreans migrating, not reproducing?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 24/03/2014 at 4:23 am

… Google managers need to keep their staff happy because, Mr Teller says, you don’t need your manager’s permission to leave a particular section if you believe they are behaving in an obnoxious manner.

“Not only will you leave but everyone will leave and that guy is going to find himself voted off the island by his own people,” he adds. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25880738) Emphasis mine.

Hmm bit like general elections. Opps forgot that we got the GRC system. So we can’t vote the PAP out even if another 11%  of the voters change their minds about the PAP in the next GE. Those who predict that in the next GE, the PAP will lose power should remember this in their lucid moments when they lapse into sanity.

Seriously, maybe the number of true blue S’poreans, migrating (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/spore-inc-are-local-talents-emigrating-too-fast/) and the low birth rate* is the way S’poreans are telling the PAP that the PAP sucks? Even if 60% of the voters continue voting for the PAP.

But never mind, maybe PAP is thinking like this?

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

Coming back to the Google manager:

You must reward people for failing, he says. If not, they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs. If you don’t reward failure, people will hang on to a doomed idea for fear of the consequences. That wastes time and saps an organisation’s spirit.

Finding new transformational ideas is like sending out a team of scouts to explore uncharted terrain for new mountains to climb, he says.

“If you shame them when they come back, if you tell them that they’ve failed you because they didn’t find a mountain, no matter how diligently they looked for or how cleverly they looked for it, those scouts will quit your company.”

But this is no excuse for those in Home Team. They are not creative types: they are employed to prevent things happening (breach of border security) or escalating (senior police commanders). From the I(ndian?) http://theindependent.sg/review-the-home-team/

BTW, I’m glad the Indian stopped the self-defeating habit of not allowing one to read its article unless one “Liked” it. I always moved on. I mean how to “Like” something before one read it? So PAPpish or CCP, not the spirit of the world’s largest democracy.

——————————————————–

*Update at 5.00am: Juz read this

Now the big problem is a rock-bottom low birthrate — with a fertility rate under 1.2 – barely  half that necessary to replace the current population, which threatens to turn this ultra-dynamic city state into a giant old-age home.

The reasons for this plunge, according to demographer Gavin Jones at the National University of Singapore, lie largely in such things as long working hours and ever-rising housing costs, something that has been boosted by foreign purchases of private residences. With large apartments increasingly expensive, Singaporeans, particularly those with children, often think of emigrating to less expensive or at least roomier places such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand. One recent survey estimated that over half of Singaporeans want to migrate; the World Bank estimates upward of 300,000 Singaporeans have moved abroad, accounting for almost one in 10 citizens. …

.One key element relates to focusing on how to nurture families once again, and to recapture that sense of Singaporean-ness that makes the place so special. It is not so much a matter of financial incentives — these have not worked — as in controlling housing costs, expanding space for families,  and most importantly, finding better ways to balance life and work.

Already some initial steps to humanize the metropolis are taking place. These include a remarkable expansion and improvement of green space, and attempts to decentralize work around the newer state housing estates and commercial developments. Steps to increase the size of apartments, repurpose aging shopping and office structure for housing as well as encouraging more home-based work could also prove helpful. These changes will be critical if the world’s most successful city wants to remain so in the decades ahead.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2013/07/18/singapore-needs-a-new-sling/

When global rankings don’t flatter, PAP’s evolving response

In Economy, Humour, Political economy on 19/03/2014 at 5:03 am

“Troubles come in threes” is an old English saying.

he PAP may have reason to agree. The PAP has had three unflattering rankings. First off was the one early this yr from the people behind the Corruption Index.

Remember Ng Eng Hen getting upset with Transparency International (TI) for giving Singapore a “poor” rating last year for the way it spends money buying weapons. He said that TI’s assumptions for its assessment were flawed. He questioned its move to group Singapore in the same category as Iraq and Afghanistan. TRE rightly pointed out that given if the government finds TI not to be credible as Dr Ng has alleged in Parliament, perhaps the government should stop using TI’s rankings and surveys altogether.

For a start perhaps, CPIB could stop using TI’s rankings on its website. Presently, it prominently displays TI’s CPI on its home page.

Next, CPIB could remove all references to TI on its website [Link]:

[Err don't think this is done]

Also, PM Lee should remember not to quote TI in his speeches anymore [Link]:

(http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/19/dr-ng-condemns-tis-defence-spending-rating-for-sg/)

Smart people TeamTRE. TRE readers should note that the public face of TRE is a scholar and elite schoolboy. And they hate elites even though one of elites is on TeamTRE. Kinda irrational?

This was followed by EIU naming S’pore as the most expensive city in the world. Tharman rubbished this: My take on Tharman’s take.

BT, part of the constructive, nation-building SPH came out with a piece rubbishing the basis of the index Index and saying that it was not applicable to locals. Extract from BT is at end of article. Kinda long and boring.

Finally there was S’pore’s appearance at 5th spot in the Crony-Capitalism Index http://www.economist.com/news/international/21599041-countries-where-politically-connected-businessmen-are-most-likely-prosper-planet.

So far, there has been conspicuous silence from the govt and its media running dogs (apologies to the dogs) allies, even though the new media is flogging the story with glee, together with the takeover of Olam: anything to do in the PAP?

Could it be that the PAP has realised that silence is golden when it comes to responding to unflattering rankings. Perhaps it  has realised the self-defeating nature of rubbishing the unflattering ranking. It gives more publicity to the ranking, shows how hurt it feels and its rubbishing leaves PAP supporters wondering if the assumptions or basis of flattering rankings too are rubbish especially if the rankings come from the same organisation like in case of TI’s rankings.

As someone who hates triumphalism of any sort (the fates get tempted), I hope that the PAP’s silence extends to flattering ratings too. Pigs likely to fly first.

SINGAPORE may have climbed five spots to claim the “unenviable title” of the world’s most expensive city, according to a bi-annual ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), but economists downplay the significance of the results.

While acknowledging the undeniable existence of rising price pressures here, economists The Business Times spoke to cautioned against extrapolating that the cost of living for locals has skyrocketed.

This is because two key factors – currency fluctuations and the survey’s expatriate focus – would “automatically limit” such deductions.

In order to achieve comparative indices, EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey converts each country’s prices into US dollars. Therefore, a weaker yen pushed Tokyo – last year’s most expensive city – down to sixth place, and this paved the way for Singapore to claim the dubious honour this time around.

Therefore, Singapore’s ascent to costliest city was due in part to currency fluctuations – EIU noted that over the last decade, Singapore has seen 40 per cent currency appreciation.

Said UOB economist Francis Tan: “There’s so much (buzz) about Singapore taking the top spot, but a lot of this has been fuelled by the fluctuations in different currencies. I wouldn’t read too much into it, because next year we could be number 6 again.”

Mizuho Bank economist Vishnu Varathan added: “If one were to look at cost of living from the point of view of a domestic person, then currency movements arguably don’t matter as much.”

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun was also keen to highlight the survey’s expatriate focus and its purpose as a tool for determining foreigners’ salaries.

In its description of the survey, EIU said: “The survey itself is a purpose-built Internet tool designed to help human resources and finance managers calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers.”

Still, emphasising that the basket of goods is “fairly broad to address a lot of essentials”, Jon Copestake, editor of the report, told BT: “The survey is also comparative between locations so it could be argued that if a city is most expensive for expats, then why not for everyone?”

But Mizuho’s Mr Varathan pointed out that “the survey has got inherent biases”: “As they’re looking to compare (like-for-like) items, they probably missed out on some local stuff, and that’s going to work against us. For example, if we take the price of a cappuccino, it will likely set you back about $5. But that’s not the same as getting Ah Poh’s coffee at Golden Shoe.”

Limitations aside, all three economists agreed that the survey results are worth reflecting upon, especially since currency fluctuations only tell part of the story.

Noting that Singapore’s rising price prominence has been “steady rather than spectacular”, EIU said that the city-state was the 18th most expensive city 10 years ago.

It said that Singapore has some structurally expensive items that “skew the overall cost of living upwards”, including cars. This has meant that transport costs in Singapore are almost three times higher than in New York.

Added EIU: “In addition, as a city-state with very few natural resources to speak of, Singapore is reliant on other countries for energy and water supplies, making it the third most expensive destination for utility costs.”

Although the survey’s findings could suggest that Singapore may be losing its cost competitiveness, UOB’s Mr Tan thinks otherwise: “There’s a reason why Singapore is expensive, and there’s a price to pay for everything. If (multinational corporations) want to be in a country where you push a button and things work, where there is near-zero political risk, where the business environment is vibrant – they’ve got to pay a premium for that.”   5March BT

What PM should say this Sunday?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 07/02/2014 at 5:11 am

“Sorry”. For what specifically you may ask? There are many things the PAP should repent for after all.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will announce the details of the Pioneer Generation Package on Sunday. Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said the package will take care of the seniors for the rest of their time as Singaporeans.

Mr Chan said: “It is not about giving them something for one year and that’s it. It is more than that. It is a package… to take care of them for the rest of their time as Singaporeans, and the rest of the time they are with us.

“We want to make this commitment because it is a testimony to what we believe as a nation, that as the Chinese say, ‘yin shui si yuan’, (meaning) when we drink from the well, we will remember the source.”

Mr Chan was speaking at a Lunar New Year dinner for residents from Tanjong Pagar GRC.

He added that a key focus of the package will be on healthcare costs, noting that this will help those who are taking care of the pioneer generation.

Mr Chan said: “And we also understand that for many younger parents, the younger generation people who are supporting the pioneer generation, that healthcare has been a main focus for them.

“And because of this, we will focus the first step of the Pioneer Generation Package on giving the pioneer generation and their families a sense of assurance that their healthcare (needs) will be taken care of by the society as a whole.” CNA

Of course the devil is in the details, and it could be juz spin. But I’ll give the PAP and the govt the benefit of the doubt ’cause the general election is round the corner: 2015 is my prediction.

Here’s a constructive, nation-building, and vote-winning suggestion for the PAP: If the PM really wants to show his sincerity, he should, on behalf of the cabinet, apologise to the pioneer generation for his then welfare’s minister’s sneering words aimed at the unfortunate members of the pioneer generation.

Dr Lily Neo:

Sir, I want to check with the Minister again when he said on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of “subsistence living”? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan:

How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

To add insult to the pain of this slap, said minister was overspending on his pet project: the Kiddie Games: S$387m (more than 3x the estimated S$122m). To be fair, the original budgets of these kinds of events are always works of fiction. The sponsors always keep demanding more, while the organisers always underestimate: ome reason why it seems one LKY never had S’pore bid for such prestige events.

The minister did not apologise. Nor did the PM or any other minister rebuke the minister in public or disown his remarks: though to be fair to the govt, Lily Neo did get her wish: there was a relatively big increase later. This could be the govt repenting privately?

But if it waz private repentance, doing it quietly doesn’t do the PAP any gd. A public apology for the remarks made by that rich, privileged  ACS kid would be a gd start to the PAP’s GE campaign, showing that it really, really appreciates the pioneer generation. It should because its intl’ reputation as a successful govt, and grip on power owe much to the pioneer generation willingness to “eat bitter”, something that their children (increasingly) and grandchildren (100%) are unwilling to do anymore.  Blame, partially, the mega-rise in ministerial salaries in the 90s. Only partially because better education and the internet have led them to expect more from the govt. On its part the PAP failed to keep the basics affordable: look at the cost of education, public tpt and public housing. On healthcare, decent healthcare has always been expensive.

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?

“Mummy, flying economy is worse than taking the MRT!”

In Humour on 26/01/2014 at 5:02 am

” Shouldn’t we be travelling apart from ordinary S’poreans?”

“Baby, I don’t know what to say. Anton, why liddat leh? Where’s the private jet?”

“Darlin’, pls don’t shout at me. I lost my job.”

“Daddy doesn’t have money, Mummy? I got to take the MRT, not sit in the Porsche?”

“Anton, you poor now?”

“Don’t be liddat, Ms Gold Digger 1959.”

“I should have married Ah Beng not ang moh.”

Forgive me but the above conversation (imaginary of course between Bernice Wong and her son and her hubbie) wickedly came to mind when I read in ST that he he and his family flew to Perth on an economy-class SIA flight.

I don’t know about you but I find travelling economy-class for any more than a two hour flight really uncomfortable.  Thankfully, I don’t care for jetting round the world. Otherwise I’d have to speculate or go back to work to make some serious money to afford airfares. Nowadays, even choping a seat in economy class beside the cabin doors costs extra.

Seriously, if he is as rich as he implied, what with his sneers at S’poreans travelling on the MRT, why isn’t he and his family travelling biz or first class? Especially as there are two very good reason to do so this time: security and the absence of publicity. Airlines guard jealously the privacy of premium class passengers. He can’t be genuine about being afraid of his security, can he? Travelling economy-class, where the MRT-travelling S’poreans also travel.

Another reason to doubt that that he is that wealthy is that he is only offering to do community service, not donating serious money and do community service. To donate  money only would be bad PR: “Trying to buy yr way out? Why liddat?”) (Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/talk-is-cheap-anton-casey-show-us-youre-sorry/)

Finally, if he is that rich, why isn’t he using one of big law firms in the Raffles Place, Marina Bay area? His lawyers are based in heartlander Toa Payoh. The expat lady that had Tammy put down is using a big name legal firm to defend her.

BTW, notice how sympathetic the ST story is to him? Hey ST, he wronged us. Or ST agrees with this guy that S’poreans are wrong, not Anton Casey? Bit like William Wan, the general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement whose patrons according to TRE “is PM Lee Hsien Loong and its adviser is Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth”. He seems to be blaming S’poreans, not Anton Casey, for the row. Maybe someone should remind William Wan that Anton Casey has apologised, and telling us that he wronged S’poreans. Sometimes this PAPpish attitude of “S’poreans always daft, always wrong” goes too far?

What do you think?

To end here some great views from the Guardian’s blog reporting the “bullying of Anton Casey” as William Wan seems to put it:

– You have the freedom to poke at a wasp nest. Later, you end up at a hospital. Did you deserve it? No. But did you ask for it? YES!

– I will rather think whom ever poke at a wasp nest, did ask for it and deserve whatever the end result of their FUN is!!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/jan/23/daddy-poor-people-anton-casey-facebook-comments-singapore#comment-31119883. Read it to see another lighthearted take on the matter.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

What mrbrown can teach PAP MP Baey

In Humour on 20/12/2013 at 4:56 am

Some time back, I read on Facebook a comment by mrbrown to the effect that in his line of work getting his facts “right” (Yaacob would be proud) is very important. Otherwise, no one would believe him in the future. And this from a joker.

Going by the grave that tampon-detective Baey is digging for himself, the PAP should be arranging for mrbrown to coach Baey and other PAP MPs* on the importance of getting their facts “right”. I mean Yaacob’s too busy on the nightmare that is Bertha Henson: like “Freddy” Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street film series, she keeps on haunting the MDA, and can’t be killed off. But the staff of MDA, and Yaacob should be glad that she is only haunting their dreams, she hasn’t killed any of them, yet.

I’m sure you all know about Baey’s $2.50 nasi padang. If not read, this account by TRE (only available for three months unless you are VIP member: even TRE agrees with the PAP govt  that those who pay, get better treatment. Taz the S’porean way given the many cheapos around.).

He wouldn’t have got himself into said hole if he had checked the cost of the dish before blogging on it. Instead he guessed and got netizens’ tits in a twist at the price.And on whether he lived in a bubble: “the elite’s bubble”.

He then compounded his initial mistake by explaining that he tot it cost $2.50 because, he gave $10, and got back $7, and as the bandung drink must have cost 0.50, the rice was $2.50.

So since when did bandung cost $0.50? More nasty comments followed.

But now it’s more than an issue of credibility and being out-of-touch with us common folks. He said, [The stallkeeper] acknowledged that his staff had recognised me that day and out of respect for my work and service in the community, charged me only $3 when it was more than $4.

Well as a TRE reader put it: If only ex chief of SCDF knew how to word his defence in getting bj from the woman out of respect and goodwill, he would not have been convicted of corruption.

Or as another reader put it: … Cecilia Sue also respect Ng Boon Gay’s work and gave him goodwill blowjobs. Why Ng Boon Gay got to resign? …

The issue is as SgCynic put it: Based on Baey Yam Keng’s reasoning, a lot of people are waiting to give presents to ministers and MPs out of respect and public service officers out of goodwill for the work they do.
We also respect our police officers for their beat and shall we give them gifts “out of goodwill”.
The glacerial slide to corruption begins…

To move on, Baey should do what this TRE reader suggested:

I remember a Minister once visited a Singapore departmental store on an official visit and was given a gift as a souvenir. I remember it to be a wallet or a belt or something like that. After some hoo-ha, the Minister admitted he was not aware of the price of the souvenir, and offered pay for the souvenir.

I suggest in this case, Baey should admit he was wrong not to be more careful about hawkers offering discounts to MPs , and that since it happened, and he is now aware such a favour was given, just pay for the balance and apologise for the ignorance of the market prices of food.

To mention anything else is pathethic [sic] and to link this to some charity now to score point is to add insult to injury.

But then Baey is a PAPpy and PAPpies don’t do apologies. And if Baey is any guide, they can’t even compare like to like. They prefer apples to oranges. I let TRE explain:

To find out the actual price of a typical nasi padang meal, Mr Baey ordered mutton, egg and a veggie from the nasi padang stall on Sunday (15 Dec). This time, the owner charged him the “full price” of $3.70.

“However, some netizens still refused to accept that it was the reality and insisted that I had been ‘corrupt’ again. I decided that any explanation was futile and I would just let actions speak for themselves,” Mr Baey concluded.

Actually, if Mr Baey had wanted to compare apple with apple, he should have ordered a piece of chicken and two veggies, plus a bandung drink – the exact same food he ordered on 11 December. Then Singaporeans would know how much actual “goodwill” he received from the stall owner that day.

BTW, Siew Kum Hong said on FB that he doesn’t  “see the point in making so much of” Baey’s mistakes.

My FB avater posted in response: PAppies are nowadays always fair game juz as JBJ and Dr Chee were fair game for the PAP and our constructive, nation-building media when LKY was in charge. Change under son is commendable but the past is still catching up with the PAP. Karma.

On this cheerful note, have a gd time but don’t drive and drink.

*Esp ministers

– Tharman

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/tharman-trying-to-tell-jokes-again/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/will-hougang-make-the-pap-moan-the-inflation-blues-not-joke-abt-it/

– Hng Kiang

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/will-hougang-make-the-pap-moan-the-inflation-blues-not-joke-abt-it/

– Lee Jnr on world food prices

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/err-lee-what-did-you-say-abt-food-inflation/

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).

Gaming the system: Unsaid assumptions of PAP, NTUC MP

In Political economy on 18/11/2013 at 5:29 am

This call by a PAP,NTUC MP provoked me and someone else into some chim tots, MWC [Migrant Workers' Centre] cautions workers and employers alike to access the Work Injury System honestly and fairly so that it can provide meaningful compensation to workers who have suffered physical incapacity or impairment from legitimate injuries suffered in the course of their work.

(http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/change-mindsets-employers-workers-needed-20131115)

Someone posted on Facebook: From the way the statement by MWC is phrased, I think they should seriously rename themselves the Migrant Worker EMPLOYERS’ Centre, as it is clear they are more concerned about the employers’ interests than they are with the workers they claim to represent.

If the employer alienates the migrant worker for fighting for what he believes he truly deserves, shouldn’t the MWC take the employer to task for such a clearly discriminatory practice that is against MOM’s employment guidelines? Why side with the employer?

I responded to the poster: The unsaid assumptions (reasonable for a NTUC and PAP MP) are that the employers are usually fair-minded people, while migrant workers are out to cheat their fair-minded employers. LOL

I also posted:No matter how gd any system is, it can be gamed. The only way out is to give someone discretion to catch the gamers. Problem is that this leads to other problems*. BTW, gaming the rules is the reason the govt gives as an excuse not to legislate rights to many things that in other societies are accepted as part of the social fabric. Sadly the co-driver tends to agree with the govt. Only the SDP is prepared to challenge this self-serving excuse, not that I’m saying gaming will not happen. We juz have to accept that fact and change the rules, and accept that there will be abuses. Juz try to minimise it.

And as cutting and pasting this post, it struck me that the MAP, NTUC MP does not take into account in the statement, the imbalance of power and resources between the aggrieved migrant worker and an employer. One is on subsistence wages (by our standards at least), the other most probably drives a BMW or Mercedes and owns an apartment or two. This PAP, NTUC doesn’t know the meaning of social justice, and the need to level the odds in favour of the migrant worker.

*I was thinking of corruption. S’poreans are always complaining of the rigidity of the public service. One reason for such rigidity is that giving discretion to public servants, opens the doors to their exercising their discretion in return for monetary and other incentives. Hence the rule book.

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/

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.

Sun Tzu & the PAP’s non-use of new media, & the PM

In Internet, Media on 30/09/2013 at 6:36 am

(If you want to read about SunT left out about the Finnish education system scroll to the end)

This extract from a CNA report last Friday reminded me of an email exchange I had with a new media big cat (not ‘fat” cat) sometime back: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has addressed some key themes arising from the “Ask the PM” live forum on Channel NewsAsia which took place on Tuesday.

In a posting on his Facebook page on Thursday, he thanked viewers for their questions and comments, but said there were too many questions for him to answer individually.

He addressed key themes including education and housing.

I had suggested how the PAP should have reacted to P Ravi: Instead of using his skin to beat the RAVII DRUMS, it should have used Facebook, the medium he was accused of playing the DRUMS on.

A new media big cat (not “fat cat”) pointed out (his comments slighly edited)

MIW cannot stoop to the same level as the others by responding on fb. It’s typical for anyone to bring the battle to their own familiar turf or battleground. u dun fight in “enemy” territory which limits yr own exposure and not forgetting that the “enemy” territory r flanked by “enemy’s” supporters and so u won’t be able to have the last say.

He quoted Sun Tzu’s “The art of War”, a book that the Chinese generals still swear by and quote. I will not be surprised if the PAP too refers to Sun Tzu when in doubt (PM was from Catholic High and the book is a classic alongside the Analects and the Tao). I too used to be a fan of Sun Tzu (How to win without fighting sounds pretty attractive) until an ang moh by the name of Edward Luttwak (he would have been a strategist during the period of the Three Kingdoms or the Warring States) wrote recently a book on Chinese strategy, and pointed out waz wrong with Sun Tzu’s precepts.

Coming in for criticism by name is Sun Tzu, whose writings of 2,500 years ago, including “The Art of War“, are the main source of what Mr Luttwak calls “the flawed principles of ancient unwisdom”. He grants that the cunning statecraft, stratagems for deception and diplomatic finesse advocated by Sun Tzu may have worked when used by one warring Chinese state against another. But he argues that these doctrines have served China poorly in fending off other adversaries.

With a quick pass through the history of China’s engagement with Jurchens, Khitans, Mongols, Manchus and other Asiatic nomads, he notes that China has been ruled by Hans, its ethnic majority, for only about a third of the past millennium. “While Han generals in charge of large armies were busy quoting Sun Tzu to each other, relatively small numbers of mounted warriors schooled in the rudely effective strategy and tactics of the steppe outmanoeuvred and defeated their forces,” he writes.

The bit about being thrashed regularly by the nomads is a fact, not a hard Truth.

So if the PAP continues to ignore new media because it is unfamiliar terrain that Sun Tzu says one shld not fight on, it will continue making unnecessary, avoidable PR fiascoes. But maybe it’s beginning to plan abandoning this Sun Tzu precept by recceing the new media terrain. The people behind the Breakfast Network (highly commended by me) and Independent (it sucks), are retired Imperial Stormtroop generals from the Keyboard corps. They could be juz like the German generals who turned on Hitler when Germany was losing, or be like Benedict Arnold (an American rebel hero who offered to surrender a fortress to the British). Or they could be what Sun Tzu recommends using. Only time will tell.

Onto serious matters. The PAP’s brand and message need to be recast for the age of social media (and. new media) in general) and the PM needs to show boldness and political artistry in grabbing his (and that of the PAP’s) share of attention. He can’t rely on the traditional media to help him grab attention. For starters, traditional media is no longer trusted here, especially  by the young. Then, too, the traditional media’s market share has diminished. And then there are all the competing celebrities on social media like all those cats’ pixs. And then there is vigilantism of websites like Stomp which have large audiences.

The PM has plenty of competition, be it in the mainstream media or new media.

And besides his style sucks in PR terms. As a double first in Maths from Cambridge, he is familiar with the scientific method: specificity, objectivity, and accountability. These are elements lacking in politics, anywhere in the world, let alone in S’pore, a de-facto one party state. They are lacking because politicians don’t need these skills to win elections. But Angela Merkel has shown that one can have the “scientific method” and be personally popular. And are we not the Prussians of the East? (The Prussians were the Germans’ Germans. Now most of what is now Prussia is in Poland.)

And as I will show on Wednesday, he has problems with the substance of hie messages too.

All in all, the PM and the PAP have a long way to go in the use of new media even with the help of BN and the Independent. Us, injuns and outlaws rule the comboy towns and the territory outside the MSM, govt forts.

Finally on a totally different topic, here’s sumething SunT didn’t tell us about the Finnish education system: Angry Birds creator Rovio has brought Angry Birds Playground, a schools initiative devised with the University of Helsinki in Finland, into the kindergarten classroom of children, aimed at six-year-olds.

With the initiative already in use in Finland, Rovio has now entered into an agreement with schools in China.

“With small children, the Finnish approach to education is very much play-orientated,” says Sanna Lukander, vice president of book publishing at Rovio Entertainment.

“These characters and their world seemed to inspire children. You can’t not think about how you might motivate children to do more than play.”

Games have a larger effect on learning than traditional materials”

Prof Constance Steinkuehler Games scholar

BTW, didn’t read the SunT stuff. Friend who read it told me that it didn’t talk about games. I had earlier sent him the above link given his interest in the Finnish way.

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.

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?

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.

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?).

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

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

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

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

Will Tai do a Yaw? Cut & run?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related post

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

Why young S’poreans should be sent to Yangon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These were gd “clean” politics.

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

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

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

The deafening silence of Tai Vie Shun

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to help leh?

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

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

Their failure has caught up with them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAP’s “right” politics defined

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

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

 The PAP’s definition of “right” politics:

 • Always be ready to fix the opposition

• Avoid meaningful debates, stage wayangs to fool voters

• Appoint yes-men into Parliament

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

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

• Hide statistics/information from the people

• Surreptitiously flood the country with foreigners without authorisation from voters

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

• Let males become MPs who have not served NS

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

Another post read

PAP is very bad politics:

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

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

(1) low productivity of Singapore economy

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

(3) depressed local wages

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

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

(6) shortage of public buses and MRT trains

(7) shortage of hospitals, doctors and nursing homes

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

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

(10) shortage of jobs for Singaporeans

(11) foreigners taking jobs away from Singaporeans

(12) frequent breakdowns of MRT trains

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

(14) bailout of public transport (failed privatisation)

(15) frequent 50-year “ponding”

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

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

(18) high cost of education and healthcare

(19) high cost of electricity (failed privatisation)

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

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

(22) many CPF accounts below CPF Minimum Sum

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

(24) wasteful purchases by Government agencies like NParks

(25) made Singapore a “tuition nation”

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

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

(28) NSF still dying during training

(29) AIM scandal showed PAP corruption

(30) PAP censoring social media and Internet

(31) PAP manipulating PSI reading to report lower readings

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

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

Cynical investor = PAP:

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

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

Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

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

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

PM, right policies, not right politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me explain what is meant.

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

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

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

Here’s the crushing rejoinder:

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

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

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

—-

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

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

Town Council Debate: Cocks posturing & preening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

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

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

3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

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

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

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

“Thanks Jos for giving Bishan East residents another reason not to support the PAP”

In Humour on 15/04/2013 at 5:05 am

So we have been told by the vice chairman of the Bishan East Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC), Roland Ang, who wrote to Stomp to explain that it was the coffeeshop owner who reserved the tables for Jos Teo and retnue, and “not any grassroots leaders”.

So the guys wearing red polo shirts shooing away patrons were PRC FT coffee shop employees? Or were they grassroots leaders moonlighting as coffee shop assistants? Or did the owner authorise them to chase patrons away, now that he is short of FT PRC labour because of govt policy? TRE alleges that he is a PAP member, so the grassroots leaders were helping a kaki lang.

Seriously, if the tables were reserved, how come customers were sitting there? And how come grassroots leaders were clearing the tables of patrons? Where were the coffeeshop assistants? Remember Roland Ang has not denied that grassroots leaders cleared customers from the tables.

Roland Ang should have gotten get the coffee shop owner to explain what happened. The silence of the coffee shop owner is deafening, especially as if alleged he is a PAP member.

Remember Watergate? The attempt to cover-up the truth was what did Nixon in, not the break-in.

Never mind, all the more reason for residents to vote against the PAP come the next GE say the anti-PAP activists. “Thanks Jos, Roland and other PAP activists for making it easier for residents not to support the PAP. Keep on being tua kee. Great way to connect with residents.”

Background info: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/13/grassroots-leader-seats-reserved-by-coffeeshop-owner-not-us/

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

PMs Lee & Najib didn’t read Tocqueville?

In Malaysia, Political governance on 08/04/2013 at 7:18 am

Well Najib certainly didn’t because he said recently, “We have in the last four years proven that whenever we make pledges, we have fulfilled our pledge”, and “unveiled a manifesto on Saturday pledging bigger cash handouts, millions of new jobs and lower taxes and crime, as he seeks his first mandate in looming national polls.”

If he had, he would not have said these things because of the dangers of rising expectations: people simply expect more.

Alexis De Tocqueville is famous particularly in the US for Democracy in America. But he also published The Old Regime and the Revolution in1856. In it he talked of the dangers of rising expectations.He argued that revolutions often took place not in times of despair but under improving conditions:

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.*

As for our PM, I doubt if he read Tocqueville**. Because if he had, he wouldn’t have said on Saturday, the Singapore society is in a different phase now, no longer a teenager but more of a young adult — with a different growth rate, anxieties and issues. “What changes do we need to make? Not just policy changes, but changes in our philosophy, in our approach, in the way we define the compact, the balance between the individual and the society, between what the person does, and what is the State’s responsibility.

“I think we need to consider this carefully and think about how we will move (forward), so that we can meet the challenges of this new phase.”

He is setting us up for expectations that he and the PAP can never ever fulfill. One reason he can never ever fulfill our expectations is the attitude that he and the other PAP leaders know best (witness the Population White Paper). They know that only they can plan ahead (Mah Bow Tan planning the supply of HDB flats, and Raymond Lim planning tpt infrastructure to cope with immigrants by the cattle-truck load) , that they are infallible in policymaking (“Stop at two” and limiting the supply of home-grown doctors), and only they are able to ignore pressure groups and populism.

Another reason is that there are critics like Dr Chee, E-Jay, Gilbert Goh and Ravi who will never ever be satisfied. And nowadays they have the social media and internet to publicise their unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

————–

*When I first came across this many yrs ago, it struck a chord. I did “History” for O and A levels, and it had struck me that the colonial powers could never ever satisfy the aspirations of the local elites in Indonesia and Malaya. Whenever, they conceded anything, the response was always, “More”. The best way of maintaining power it seemed was to “shoot the trouble-makers”, something the British, Dutch and other colonial powers did in the 19th century. In the 20th, they became more squeamish (lost their empires), and left the shooting to the USSR (Hungary 1956) and China (1989 and in Tibet).

**This is sad as I’m sure LKY had read Tocqueville because he was always trying to ensure that S’poreans didn’t have rising expectations of anything. He always wanted us to be aware of the fragility of life. He admitted, a few yrs ago, that the reason why the size of the reserves and the returns on the reserves had to kept a secret from S’poreans was his fear that we would expect more to be spent on ourselves, if we knew how wealthy S’pore was. At the peak of his mental powers, he would never have said this because by saying it he was saying that there was plenty of money that could be spent.

Thinking about it, he and the PAP must love s/o JBJ, Chris Balding, and the many readers of TRE would are forever bitching that the reserves have been squandered: they are doing LEE’s work in trying to keep expectations low. And hate Tan Jee Say for saying that S$60bn of the reserves is “small change”. No wonder, he hasn’t been rewarded for helping ensure that Tony Tan became president.

What PM should learn from M’sian voters

In Malaysia, Political governance on 05/04/2013 at 6:37 am

It’s not juz a growing economy and the goodies that win elections:

… robust economic growth of 5.6% in 2012, poverty virtually eliminated, inequality reduced and 400 legal cases against corruption initiated. And he was able to announce that a scheme to give cash handouts to poorer households will become an annual event.

All should be set fair, you might think, for Mr Najib’s ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN), to romp home again at the election, as it has done in every ballot since independence in 1957.

… the outcome is in doubt, for the first time in Malaysia’s history. (Last but one issue of Economist).

When people get tired of the governing party or parties, no amount of GDP growth, goodies or appeal to self-interest will change their minds. They can be that daft. I mean if PAS becomes the strongest party in the PK, I’m sure Chinese and Indian women would be forced to wear tudungs. Remember too Anwar made his name in politics as a Muslim activist, not as a secular activist. Yet Indian and Chinese wimmin support PK because they support the DAP and Anwar’s party.

Seriously, there has always been been a large minority of M’sians who don’t like UMNO and its BN allies. What has changed is that a large number of voters who regularly voted for the BN got tired of the growing corruption in M’sia. Despite being given a ringing endorsement by the votes after Dr M stood down, Badawi was seen as overall ineffective especially in combating corruption. Came 2008, there was a swing against BN: it lost its two-thirds majority in parliament which enabled it to amend the constitution at will, and lost the plurality of votes on the peninsula, and lost a few states.

UMNO replaced Badawi with Najib, who has been throwing money at the electorate. But because he hasn’t done much on getting rid of corruption (and getting rid of pro Bumiputera policies, always a sore point among minorities), BN remains unpopular: unpopular enough to lose on the peninsula. And if the peninsula falls, the barons in the East (BN’s stronghold)will switch sides, even though one is an UMNO leader, and the other is a BN baron.

The issue of corruption got voters moving from BN to the Opposition. In S’pore, if the PAP, continues bulldozing its way on, and misrepresenting its “FTs are betterest” and “6.9m or bust”  policies”, it will lose votes even if continues throwing our money on making life more comfortable for us. S’poreans would say, “About time, so no need to be grateful. And it’s our money leh”.

So it’s all about immigration. It’s all about the 15,000 — 25,000 new citizens, and PRs by the container-load that the PAP wants so that S’pore will have 6.9m people in 2030.

(Someone by the name of Victoria posted on TRE: “I am sick and tired of all these alt sites who will twist every story involving foreigners just to incite intolerance, hatred and xenophobia. There is really no need for such gutter politics to paint PAP in a bad light. The hard truth is either we want more foreigners or we don’t want foreigners at all.”

Well, Victoria, I for one am sick and tired of the PAP govt and the constructive, nation-building media asserting that FTs and 6.9m population are to compensate for S’poreans refusal to breed. I have yet to see any chart illustrating why a TFR of 1.2 needs to be compensated for by bringing in FTs so that population reaches 6.9m. Remember that the replacement rate is 2.1.)

The one thing that PM has in his favour is that S’pore doesn’t have a charismatic scoundrel, turncoat and opportunist that M’sia has in Anwar Ibrahim. Mr Anwar once served as deputy prime minister but fell out with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998. He was caught trying to take Dr M’s job.

For the absence of an Anwar, PM should be grateful, though we may not. In S’pore, we have the likes of Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, s/o JBJ, and Mad Dog Chee clowning around. WP Low has characteristically stood aside, affirming that he is only a co-driver, not an aspirant driver. he is too modest. While he is certainly no Anwar, he is a cut above the two Tans, Mad Dog and s/o JBJ. He is no clown. He is a serious, systematic chap who knows his limits. Sadly, he has limited aims for the WP.

Another reason for PM to be grateful.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/rebuilding-trust-the-pap-way-one-step-forward-two-steps-back/

PAP listening to SDP?

In Infrastructure on 11/03/2013 at 6:22 am

Err didn’t the govt rubbish the SDP’s idea of lowering the cost of HDB flats by making it a condition of getting cheaper flats that they be resold to HDB?

And didn’t Khaw just say that this idea will be studied? But didn’t credit the SDP for suggesting it?

As an oldie using SingHealth, here’s hoping the SDP’s healthcare ideas be adopted* and that Paul A** gets co-opted to become Health minister.

——

*Never mind if it bankrupts S’pore as healthcare costs in the US and UK are bankrupting these nations, I’ll be dead.

**He was a possible SDP candidate for Punggol-East. Gd that he didn’t stand because he couldn’t claim to be born poor: even s/o JBJ claimed that although born in a pram made of gold, silver and ivory, he became poor when his dad took on the PAP. He dared make this claim even though he went to very expensive ang moh schools. JBJ became so poor that he could send his son to expensive schools? Come on, man who doesn’t know the Pledge, pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it.

 

Low & gang are pro LHL?

In Humour, Political governance on 08/03/2013 at 5:35 am

Readers will know by now that JG is a WP groupie, usual making coherent and rational arguments.

In response to this, she wrote: Looks like you’re still only 3 steps or so into your 10 step journey of epiphany about LHL. You really think he “gets it” and beginning to change since GE2011? Bookmark this post and come back again 2 years time. I’ve seen countless hopeful like you – including Andrew Loh, “Blogging for Myself” – slowly learning for themselves that it is not MBT, TCH, WKS that’s the issue – its the top leadership. When its rudderless or ineffective – what you call “hands-off” – you get bursts of swinging to the left, swinging to the right, tweaking a little here, tweaking a little there. You’re colored by your hopes and prejudice that I think, you will take a longer time to see his lack of leadership for what it is. The problem, as Lucky Tan rightly pointed out, is that the longer you let certain things fester, the worse it becomes and harder to solve. OK, lets set the clock ticking …

Err JG seems to have forgotten that her dear leader, Loh, says,”Effect of policy changes not felt yet” and “Give govt time to work policies”? So isn’t he saying that we should give PM and the govt more time, now that PM is no longer neutered mentored? And remember Show Mao’s analogy of the WP being loyal courtiers to the emperor (OK, OK, I exaggerate: only slightly though), another way of expressing a variant of the idea: give constructive, nation-building criticism so that the PAP can reform itself and change it policies for S’pore?

As to decisive leadership from him, don’t expect it.He is not that kind of person, and anyway, S’pore and the world are too complicated for that kind of style in other than in crises. George Bush was a decisive leader: look what happened.

Rebuilding trust the PAP way: “One step forward, two steps back”.

In Political governance on 01/03/2013 at 6:01 am

While one can the criticise the details of the Budget (I hope the WP would not be up to its old trick of publicly bitching against it while voting for the Budget on the QT), I think that finally the govt has got the idea on how to rebuild trust: Spending more of our money on making life more comfortable for ourselves (especially the poorer S’poreans, and the middle class: the latter according to Kee Chui Chan); while trying to curb inflation* by using non-market mechanisms: raising taxes on luxury cars, and properties (other than the home) and by introducing curbs on car financing. How about doing the latter for residential investments: not more than 10 years? (Budget cheat sheet: http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/highlights-singapore-budget-fiscal-2013-074234964.html)

More measures like those contained in the Budget, and the announcements in 2011 and 2012 on increased public transport infrastructure spending of $1.1bn, and the  accelerated HDB building programme, are the right steps in rebuilding trust.

Likewise the announcement that AIM will not take part in the coming tender (Though I’ll blog one of these days on a conspiracy theory on why AIM is not taking part).

But the govt and PAP seemed determined to sabo themselves by doing things like publishing the Population White Paper http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/population-white-paper-paps-suicide-note/ . It’s things like this paper that prevents the PAP from regaining the trust of many S’poreans. The govt and PAP have an obsession of doing the unpopular thing. The assumption seems to be that the unpopular thing is always the right thing to do. Maybe they should think of doing the right thing, even if it is the popular thing to do?

The test should be, “Will the measure benefit the majority of S’poreans?”, not “Is it unpopular?”.

Whatever it is, the PAP have until the next GE (2016?) not until 2020 (as PM seems to think) to rebuild trust. Otherwise it might need the WP’s help to form a govt. That will make PritamS (Coalition) and Show Mao’s day (WP as trusted adviser).

My advice: juz throw more of our money at S’poreans, go easy on public transport fare rises, make it possible to use Medisave for more ailments, “borrow” ideas from the SDP’s healthcare plan, squeeze the very rich S’poreans (those who flash around big or sporty cars, or luxury palaces or EC penthouses and go easy on the “FTs all the way” policy.

In short, make life better for the majority of S’poreans.

What Raffles could have taught the PAP

In Political governance on 25/02/2013 at 5:28 am

Executive summary: Gd intentions are not enough; move on fast, and mud sticks: in short, life can be most unfair.

Uncle Leong’s latest piece on AIM(http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/02/22/aim-saga-part-2-has-just-begun/), reminded me that I had planned to write about what Raffles could have taught the PAP in its handling of AIM’s contract with PAP town councils. But the Punggol East by-elections and the Population White Paper crowded out the piece. So it got KIVed and then forgotten until Uncle Leong’s piece reminded me of it.)

Over the December hols, I read a very interesting book, “Raffles and the British Invasion of Java”(http://rafflesandjava.com/ for more details). As I was finishing the book, the AIM story was developing fast and furious. What struck me was that Raffles got himself into a bit of bother over a similar incident.

But before I go into the details, let me give some background.

When Raffles died, his crowning achievement in the view of his contemporaries was not the founding of S’pore (it was still a work in progress: it was loss making) but his lieutenant-governorship of Java from 1811- 1816. Westminster Abbey has a memorial statue to him erected a few years after his death. The inscription reads: “To the memory of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles … Lieut. Governor of Java … he raised Java to happiness and prosperity unknown under former rulers”. (While “first President of the Zoological Society of London” was the other achievement inscribed on the memorial, S’pore was not mentioned.)

His career went downhill after Java. It was so bad that after his resignation in 1823 on grounds of ill-health, he was investigated for various financial irregularities. He was cleared but to show his employer’s displeasure at his conduct, he was sent a bill in 1826 for £20,000 (now around £1m). He died shortly afterwards.

As to his rule of Java, Dutch sources and historians disagree with the view of British historians and biographers that he brought prosperity to Java. So does the author of the book I read. To them, he failed to improve the lives of the Javanese.

Now to what the PAP and in particular Dr Teo Ho Pin  could have learned from Raffles.

He had told his employer, the East India Company, that Java would be profitable for the shareholders.

But he was wrong. To try to cover part of the cost of invading and governing Java, he sold some land by way of auction. But he was a member of the consortium that won the auction. Knowledge of his participation became public (to be fair to him, he never hid his participation), people complained publicly, and he had to sell his share in the consortium, at cost, to try to avoid the issue from escalating.

He justified his action by saying he did it to instill confidence: that the fact that he was willing to invest should have encouraged other bidders. His boss, who liked him (and who had wanted to conquer Java from the Dutch irrespective of the cost) told him that he did not doubt Raffles’ good intentions, but it was bad judgment to be a member of the consortium.

Raffles was impeached although the judge dropped the charge after investigating the matter. But the incident dogged him in later life, when the East India Company investigated his financial affairs after his retirement: the issue was raked over again. Actually, the directors didn’t like him because he was into empire-building (literally), when all they wanted were profits. Raffles never ever made money for the East India Company. He was a true-blue predecessor of our SAF scholars, he spent money other people’s money, never made it. For the record, the SAF chief, scholar, Temask MD, now CEO of NOL, has reported yet another loss. And Desmond Quek, another scholar and SAF chief, has admitted that SMRT’s costs can only go up.

To be fair, even Raffles’ many enemies and critics conceded that unlike many other East India Company officials, he wasn’t making money on the side, and that unlike many other officials, he retired poor. Still the Java land sale is a blot on his reputation and judgment.

Will the AIM incident result in a similar permanent blemish on the PAP’s “whiter than white” uniform? In the case of Raffles, mud from the land sale stuck, even though he was cleared of financial impropriety.

And is the PAPpies call for a tender, their way of trying deescalate the issue: if someone else does the job, then AIM is history and we will be asked to “move on”.

Of course if AIM takes part in the tender and wins (remember it helped draw up the tender specifications, all hell will break lose. Knowing the competency of the PAPpies today (think Kate Spade Tin, Hri Kumar, Ms Fool, Dr Teo, Dr Lim, GCT, Mah Bow Tan, Raymond Lim and Wong Can’t Sing), no prizes for predicting that AIM will win the tender.

And to think that the PAP was known for its competency, while the WP was known to be the home of bicycle thieves, loonies and economic illiterates. Those were the days, my friends; when we were young.

If VivianB were still welfare minister

In Humour on 24/02/2013 at 6:13 am

(And Charles Chong his deputy)

They would import food tainted in Europe with horsemeat and distribute it to the poor: Germany’s development minister has suggested food tainted with horsemeat should be distributed to the poor.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21559451

Whatever I may say about Kee Chui Chan, he seems to have his heart in the right place, unlike rich ACS kid VivianB. RI for ever!

Update after posting

Related posts

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

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/deaf-frog-recovers-hearing-and-other-ministerial-tales/

Population White Paper: PAP’s suicide note?

In Political governance on 22/02/2013 at 7:18 am

“The longest suicide note in history” was a phrase used by British Labour Party MP Gerald Kaufman to describe his party’s 1983 election manifesto. .

The manifesto, pressing all the right buttons for Labour activists, but almost no-one else in the UK, called for unilateral nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from the European Economic Community, abolition of the House of Lords, and the re-nationalisation of recently privatised industries like British Telecom, British Aerospace, and the British Shipbuilding Corporation.

Well, in two elections in 2011, S’poreans expressed their anger at the “FTs are betterest policy” that even the govt has admitted led to strained public transport infrastructure, and which many S’poreans blame for high property prices and inflation, overcrowding, alienation and social disorder.

Well methinks the Population White Paper could become the new “longest suicide note in history” especially if ESM Goh Chok Tong’s sneers reflect the attitude of the PAP towards S’poreans concerns about an overcrowded S’pore swarming with FTs.. With PM, DPM Teo and the defence and the foreign minister (only Tharman is AWOL among the PM’s most trusted ministers) trying to assure us that the govt was listening to our unhappiness, ESM said, “But cannot say that I think much of speakers’ rhetoric. Too political, too one-sided, appealing to emotions only and not shedding light on important issues.”

If PM doesn’t give ESM a tight slap soon, PM’s and the govt’s cred will take another beating. Ministers must know that they have to listen more closely to us, as they have promised to do. If ESM gets away with his comments, what’s the worth the ministers’ promises?

Another reason why the PWP could be the new “longest suicide note in history” is because immigration is one of those issues that has a way of turning very toxic very quickly, as politicians from Britain and France to Malaysia and China can easily confirm.

The funny thing is that the PAP govt. could have avoided the problem by not laying its “We love FTs” cards so brazenly and openly. The White Paper could have focused just on the need to breed more, and how to do it. The govt had already promised to a sceptical public that it would reduce the “FTs by the truckload” policy. It had already started addressing the infrastructure issues by throwing our money on public transport, and housing.

It could have juz kicked the issue of having a lot more people here by 2030 into the “long grass” as the expression goes. Or at least until after the next GE. Yet as Uncle Leong pointed out the annual projections for PRs and new citizens, exceed 2011 numbers.

The PM should have rebuilt the trust that the PAP govt once had by focusing on improving our quality of life, using our money.

Instead, he chose to annoy me, and anger many of my fellow S’poreans. Has the PAP lost the will to live? Like the UK Labour Party in 1983? Or is it juz hubris at work?

Finally a foreign journalist’s take on the protest http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/02/protest-singapore

——–

*Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer compared the 2012 Republican House Budget to the above manifesto (in terms of comparable unpopularity) and then remarked about the House Budget, “At 37 footnotes, it might be the most annotated suicide note in history.” — Wikipedia.

PM should try changing the way he makes decisions and communicates

In Political governance on 18/02/2013 at 5:43 am

After listening to PM’s speech on the population White Paper, I wandered if one of PM’s problems bis the deliberate, methodical way he makes decisions and communicates with ordinary S’poreans? Even his “choking” had me wondering how he rehearsed it.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes the two different ways the brain forms thoughts.

– fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypical, subconscious; or

– slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious.

No prizes guessing which way the PM and the PAPpies think and communicate.

The Economics Nobel Prize winner argues it would be a mistake to assume that logical thought somehow trumps automatic reaction. The former is often highly sensitive to subtle cues, the source of the “fight or flight” response that kept our ancestors from being eaten by other predators.

To gild the lily, in his book Blink,  Malcolm Gladwell argues that we live in a society dedicated to the idea that we should spend as much time as possible in deliberation, “As children, this lesson is drummed into us again and again: haste makes waste, look before you leap, stop and think. But I don’t think this is true.”

Gladwell argues that there are lots of situations when instant judgments are better than considered though,  “I think its time we paid more attention to those fleeting moments”, suggesting a general policy of intuition would result in a happier world.

In PM’s case maybe a happier PAP, and S’poreans. And a relieved Low. He needn’t worry about governing a city.

And it isn’t as though his use of slow, logical thinking has helped PM think thru how to solve the problems we face*. Based on the questions he is asking himself and us, his slow, logical thinking results in a parroting of daddy’s Hard Truths. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/pm-what-about-asking-the-right-questions-or-at-least-different-ones/

Penultimately, three great responses from TRE readers to the above link which TRE republished:

– PM’s questions remind me of an incident onboard a flight to America some time ago. The flight attendant in response to a passenger’s question, said in a jest “Yes, there is a choice for your meal – Eat or Don’t eat”.

Needless to say, the passenger had to eat whatever was left, because he was not in the first class cabin.

– Mr PM.

If that is the case, can I just ask the following:

1. Are you going to control the costs of housing or do you want us to vote in the Opposition?

2. Are you going to address the rising transport costs or you want us to vote in the Opposition?

3. Will you be completely transparent about the Aim/Town Councils issue, or you want us to vote in the Opposition?

4. Are you going to relax the foreign worker’s policy according to each industry’s need or you want us to vote in the Opposition?

I am asking you these questions in the same style you are using. Nothing personal. It’s just Hard Truths.

– The question I want to ask everyone is, “Do you want a caring Government or do you want PAP?”.

I love the last one. After all, VivianB is still in the cabinet.

Finally, here’s a great quote from a reader of the Economist on how the Swedes made the decisions that resulted in its :“If there is a secret to the Swedish model it is that we try out one stupidity after another. Occasionally we stumble on a useful idea and keep it as part of our society…you could call this the smorgasbord mentality…I guess the good currently outweighs the bad.”
-RS_3 on “The next supermodel”, February 4th 2013

———–

*Goh Chok Tong, he  and their ministers are largely to blame for the overcrowding, and infrastructure failings caused by their “FTs First” policy.

Even more goodies on the way?

In Humour, Political governance on 27/01/2013 at 5:42 am

Heard this one? KennethJ juz filed another police report*. This time alleging that there was massive vote rigging by the PAP to prevent him from winning. He says that it is unbelievable that the voters would prefer WP to s/o JBJ.

Err juz tot PM and the PAP needed shumething to smile about.

Looks like the govt will have to throw more of our money at us. Power to the people of Punggol East if this happens. they know game theory better than I do. I tot that they would vote PAP to get the goodies that comes to having a DPM round the corner. Looks like they are doubling their bets for even more goodies for themselves and us.

—-

*What will the threats, then website breakdown, the police have a lot to do.

Punggol East: More Tak Boleh Tahan comments

In Humour, Political governance on 24/01/2013 at 6:06 pm

(Or “Who are WP, PAP Koh, s/o JBJ, & TJS trying to bluff?”)

Starting with WP, the “can’t stand” comments (Note unless otherwise attributed, quotes are from CNA)

– “Lee Li Lian said having another WP member in Parliament will strengthen the voice of the opposition party.”/ “Lee Li Lian said the Punggol East by-election will serve as a barometer of her party’s performance since the last General Election.

Ah Lian, Voice, what Voice? Performance, what Performance? Eight no sound, no action: one more make the difference meh? WP juz wants another 15k a month allowance.

– “Ms Lee said the by-election will show whether residents will have the confidence to give the party their votes.”

She means confident that WP is PAP Lite, without being able to give away goodies?

– “The Workers’ Party has urged Punggol East residents to use their votes to make the government work harder.”

I prefer what a PAPpy minister said, “Voting for PAP will make WP work harder.”

– Sylvia Lim said that some things (alternative suggestions on certain policies) are whispered to the govt behind “closed doors’’

This was what PAP MPs used to say, Auntie. Oh, I forgot: you are PAP Lite.

– “Chairman Sylvia Lim had said that this by-election is in some way an indicator of how the people feel about the government’s performance.”

So if voters like the way the govt is spending our money on ourselves, vote PAP is it, Auntie?

(I can go on and on, what with what PritamS and Low said on rally nights, but I don’t want to appear anti-WP. Still hoping to have a date with JG.)

But the PAP is just as bad:

– “Dr Koh also said he is fighting his own race in the by-election.”

Err, so so PM, DPM, Education Minister etc did not come, or attack the WP? Impersonators did these things?

– “[H]e feels that tackling local issues first will bring about more immediate reprieve for the residents.”

So Palmer was not doing his job as MP, preferring mangoes with Laura? So why didn’t PAP tell him to pull up his socks (and pants) and help residents? Why wait until now?

– “serving the people”

In Telok Blangah to be precise, not Punggol East or even Punggol. And the ST dares call him “son of Punggol”: err more like prodigal son, who preferred to “move on” to Toa Payoh, then Telok Blangah: anywhere except Punggol area.

– “I want to be a participant in this process of change from within.”

PAP MPs always saying this from time immemorial (“Go with the flow” Georgie said this once): were it not for GE and PE results, there would be no change on the policy of not spending our money on ourselves. The money would be allocated allocated for casino games. Post these elections, the govt has been spending our money on making life more comfortable for ourselves. Voters forced this change of mind-set on the PAP. It didn’t come from within. If change could have come from within, PM would not have had to apologise. Nor would George have turned like a cornered rat on the PAP in a vain attempt to remain a minister.

– Kate Spade Tin and side-kick Denise He were told not to sabo when they volunteered to run Koh’s social media activities.

As to the Sui Kees who think they are Tua Kees:

– “The Reform Party will be having their rally carried out as per planned … This is after being assured by the police that it would be safe to attend the rally and that security has been stepped up. Just a while ago, the fanpage announced that the party will not proceed with the rally unless Singapore Police Force ensures the safety of their supporters.” TOC

Wayang King, Drama Queen, this son of Lion King, JBJ, and Lion Queen, Margaret. They must be weeping in heaven, at how their son turned out. Never mind, the other boy is better, a lot better, even if he married into a PAPpy family. Err maybe, taz why he has high EQ, in addition to high IQ, and is one of us.

– s/o JBJ got flu after being in rain

How to be MP in S’pore? Always raining here. He will always be AWOL or MIA if elected MP.

– “TJS says he tried but failed to persuade RP) and SDA to withdraw” TRE

Wonder if KJ or DL said to him, “Juz following your example, Big Brudder.”. Someone posted this on TRE, “TSJ you yourself is a spoiler do you think as a spoiler you are more professional to talk to spoiler.Come on you are a jilted failure candidate.”

No, not criticising Desperate Loser because he deserves two cheers. He is a warning to Low and Sylvia and other arrogant non-fat people that fat, short, balding men should not be taken for granted nor pushed around: they can cause trouble, serious trouble if provoked. Remember Eric Tan? One day he too may have his revenge on Low, Sylvia and GG, Eric’s apprentice.

As for Mad Dog (or is it it Coyote?) Chee, he deserves a posting of his very own. Akan datang.

Anyway, voters of Punngol East, as the PAP used to say when the WP fielded bicycle thieves, Maurice Neo, loonies,  and JBJ, “Vote wisely”.

And if any voter wants to vote “unwisely” to send messages to the PAP and the WP, vote for DL: he is one of us, a true blue S’porean. He juz got mad as hell, fed-up of being pushed around. KennethJ is not one of us. He is low EQ, high IQ FT that juz happened to be born here, who thinks that S’poreans owe him a living because he is s/o JBJ. Give him the finger.

*I mean one LKY even said that the size of the reserves had to be kept a secret from S’poreans, lest we want it to be spent on ourselves.

Punggol East voters are not daft

In Humour, Political governance on 20/01/2013 at 5:58 pm

(Update again: PAP got the killer reason to vote for it “Voting for PAP will make WP work harder: Heng Swee Keat” LOL)

I predict that the PAP will win with  a 6-10 percentage points  margin over the combined votes of the Ah Lian, Determined Loser and Wayang King (or is it Drama Queen, or both?)*. The last two will lose their deposits.

Why a comfortable PAP win?

The very cynical answer is that the voters have experience of being part of a town council in a DPM’s patch. Long-term residents in the GRC and Punggol East know that things get done when an MP is also the DPM. They would have seen the contrast: civil servants, PA officials may tai-chi away a MP or minister’s request, but a DPM’s request is different.

It happens in Tharman’s GRC too. A friend who has been living in Tarman Jurong for many years, and who has been a grass-roots activist since Tharman became an MP, tells me the practical difference having a DPM makes. When Tharman was an MP and then minister, things happened but only at a glacial pace. Always got some reason for not doing what he wanted. The usual excuse is “Not in present plan. Next plan, maybe.”

Tharman and residents had wanted a covered walkway to a MRT station since he became MP. Always told why it had to wait. But when he became DPM, and made a request for the up-teem time, the walkway was not only built but better than the one he had been requesting.

Now, I know, residents in the Punggol, Pasir Ris area have similar tales to tell. So would the voters of Punggol East take the risk of becoming part of a WP town council, given that they have a PAP MP who happens to be a DPM round the corner?

They also have the following non-cynical reasons excuses to vote PAP:

– PAP has apologised and started delivering on its promises (witness ministers’ salaries reduction, S$1.1bn on buses, MRT plans, more flats)*;

– WP has done bugger-all for them (KennethJ double confirms this, as though he has done anything for them too too) and country;

– Low implicitly tells them to vote PAP, “The Government should be given time to rectify the shortcomings and neglects pointed out to it. Doing so [not whacking the PAP] would ‘serve the public interest better than continuing to agitate and raise political tension to gain maximum political mileage for WP’, as it takes time for policy changes to take effect on the ground”**;  and

– WP can’t win what with the two clowns contesting. Even if they weren’t, the previous margin of victory of the PAP would show that it wouldn’t be easy. No George Yeo and his gals from hell here.

So, the voters will be Chinese (even the non-Chinese 20%) i.e. pragmatic. They will vote for the PAP teochew boy born in the area made and good, for goodies, to show WP and other opposition parties not to take voters for granted, and to show netizens that they (the netizens) are nothing but elitist kay poh do-gooders who live in districts 9,10, 11 and 15, not in the heartlands of S’pore.

The people of Punggol East are juz decent, hard working, aspirational S’poreans, not elitist activists. And the PAP knows this.

*I’m glad to hear that it seems the SPF asked if he had contacted the London police. He apparently said, “No”. He was asked “You not taking the threats that seriously? Surely you want the police there to keep an eye on them?” I’m told, he kept quiet. [Line struck out after reading Monday’s ST report that his wife had made police report in London. But I’m surprised to read that grandson of that Lion was so upset: he 16 years old, not kiddie.)

**No, PAP has not paid me to say this. It is a fact that the govt is finally spending our money to make life more comfortable for us.

***Isn’t this telling voters that they should continue giving PAP the chance to deliver on its promises? Low needs a better speech writer.

Strategy quotes for the PAP

In Political governance on 06/01/2013 at 6:41 am

“Speed, Price, Quality: Pick Two” ACTUALLY, this is shumething all S’poreans must realise.
Anon business adage

“There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills.”
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon (1964–)

“One gets paid only for strengths; one does not get paid for weaknesses. The question, therefore, is first: What are our specific strengths? And then: Are they the right strengths? Are they the strengths that fit the opportunities of tomorrow, or are they the strengths that fitted those of yesterday? Are we deploying our strengths where the opportunities no longer are, or perhaps never were? And finally, what additional strengths do we have to acquire?”
Peter Drucker, management writer (1909–2005), Managing in Turbulent Times (1980)

“There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.”
Henry Ford, industrialist (1863–1947)

“People don’t want quarter-inch drills. They want quarter inch holes.”

Theodore Levitt, academic (1925–2006), Thinking in Management (1983)

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/10/z-business-quotations-1

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 186 other followers