atans1

Posts Tagged ‘WP’

Want a Pekatan here? It’s disunited

In Political governance on 21/07/2014 at 4:58 am

(Since I had posts on Sat and Sunday giving little known details on the MAS tragedy (herehere, here and here, largely extracts from BBC reports), I tot I’d continue the M’sian theme, today and tom.)

There has been a lot of noise that S’porean Oppo parties should unite (actually the term should be “confederate”) like M’sia’s DAP, PAS and TeamAnwar under the Pakatan banner*.

Those calling for this kind of alliance should have their heads examined by the doctor treating M Ravi for bi-polarism. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/understanding-m-ravis-bi-polar-disorder/ (related article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25747068)

Confederating the SDP and WP is like the DAP and PAS fighting under one umbrella, a recipe for disunity in unity.

Rowing over chopping of limbs and stoning

The PAS several months ago wanted to introduce a law in Kelantan (their state) introducing Hudud, or Islamic penal practices. Hudud prescribes punishments such as amputation of limbs for theft and stoning for adultery..

The DAP, a secular and liberal (even though it was founded as the PAP’s M’sian Trojan Horse), was more than upset

Lim Kit Siang (the DAP’s LKY) has repeatedly said that that Pakatan could split over the issue**.

The PAS has postponed the tabling of a private member’s Bill in Parliament, which would have paved the way for the implementation of hudud, the Islamic penal code, in the north-eastern state of Kelantan.The postponement was to give sufficient time to a technical committee — proposed by the govt and involving both the federal and state governments — to examine how best to enforce hudud in PAS-governed Kelantan.

Many in the DAP are sore because they claim that the May by-election in Teluk Intan was lost because of non-Muslim worries over the hudud.

WP, SDP are poles apart

In S’pore while the SDP, NSP, the Chiams and WP are multi-racial (Yes, yes I know some Indians dispute that the WP is multi-racial, they want it to be run by Indians like it once was when it had candidates who looney and bicyle thieves) and secular parties, there are big differences. The WP portrays itself as a more compassionate, moderate version of the PAP, while the SDP positions itself as what in the West would be called a Social Democrat party with leftist tendencies. The Chiams and NSP are in between. The other parties are a joke esp the JBJ Remembrance Party, and the two parties led by scholars who didn’t make it into the PAP. The two scholars and s/o JBJ only became politicians when it was safe to do so.

Furthermore, the WP has made it clear that it is not in a position to be the govt, and has no interest in being part of an alternative coalition. The NSP has indicated that it is not ready to be the govt, while leaving the possibility of being in a coalition unsaid. The Chiams are happy to be part of a alt coalition govt. The SDP thinks it can form the govt but knows that it would never win enough votes to get a majority. And anyway, we know Dr Chee can go whacko, if his RI doctors are not vigilant.

How the WP and SDP can confederate under one party is beyond me.

Chop system works

We actually have quite a gd system here of opposing the PAP. Problem is that only 25-30% support the Oppo parties. And 70% of voters are comfortable with two ex-PAP stalwarts to give them their votes in PE 2011. And the ex-PAP member who dissed the PAP lost his deposit.

As I see it, leg lifting to mark territory or, to use more polite language, the system whereby the party that contests in a previous election (once upon a time, as recent as 2006, there were uncontested GRCs) is not challenged is working pretty well and serving S’poreans’ interests given the 60-70% support that the PAP has.

The system is not perfect and the WP interprets it on the basis of “might is right”. But hey it’sw the only oppo party that kept on going thru the 90s and noughties.

1963 revisited?

The danger in the next GE is that Team TJS (Singaporeans First), JBJ Remembrance Party, and Pwee Gang ( Democratic Progressive Party, DPP). will stand as third party candidates in areas where the Chiams, NSP, WP or SDP have a decent chance of winning. This is something I’m sure the PAP is expecting to happen, and will do its best to make sure happens.

S’pore has been here before. Here’s an extract of a letter to a British magazine written after the 1963 elections

We [Barisan Socialists] won thirteen seats at the elections, averaging 15.000 votes to each seat. The PAP won thirty- seven seats, averaging 7,000 votes to each seat. The United People’s Party, whose function was to split the left-wing votes, campaigned on a programme that was somewhat similar to ours but more extremely put. Only their leader, Mr. Ong Eng Guan, was elected. We received 201,000 votes (35 per cent) and the PAP 272,000 votes (47 per cent). The difference is only 70,000 votes out of a total electorate of nearly 500,000. The UPP took away 49,000 votes (8 per cent), causing us the loss of seven con- stituencies (apart from Mr. Ong’s), and saved four PAP Ministers from defeat.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/29th-november-1963/23/the-situation-in-singapore

So for those who want an end to the PAP’s hegemony in parly (self included), let us make it clear to the three stooges, TJS, Pwee and s/o JBJ, and the SDA: “Don’t fight in any constituency where the SDP, WP, Chiams, NSP fielded candidates in the last GE”. Pwee and YJS go play in KenJ’s or SDA’s playpens. They don’t respect the “chop” rules and have lost deposits as a result.

And tell Tan Kim Lian and Goh Meng Seng not to contest. If not for their clowning antics, we could have had Dr Tan Cheng Bock as president.

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*Example: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/07/01/a-disunited-opposition-cannot-form-an-effective-govt/

We all feel buoyant and almost confident that the next GE will see a change in Government. Either PAP will be decimated, become the opposition party or lose its two third majority in parliament.

But lets not jump the gun just yet. There is a lot of ground work that needs to be done. Especially with the present group of opposition parties.

The present situation does not look too good. We have too many Opposition Parties such as WP, SDP, RP, NSP, PKMS, SP and etc. When PAP flatters in the next GE, we the citizens of Singapore want to be assured that our lives will go on as usual with some minor hiccups initially, but will normalise and in the coming months and years improve with the new Government. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL SINGAPOREANS MUST BE SURE OF.

We do not want an Egypt or Iraq. We will be put off if we cannot see this clearly insight before we start to vote for better future without PAP’s overbearing control of our lives. When the opposition takes over the government and when there are too many Political Parties forming the government, this government will be weak. A coalition of such parties will be easily attacked and made weak, especially by the PAP who may be the opposition in Parliament. It will be easy for them to play the various parties against each other.

This will surely cause the coalition government to be very weak. A weak government cannot be an effective government to bring Singapore and its citizens forward to a better future.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL PRESENT OPPOSTION PARTIES WORK AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO FORM A UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT. A COALITION OF PARTIES TO FORM A SINGLE FRONT GOING INTO THE NEXT GE AND IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT.

This is much like the Barisan Nasional (National Front) and the Pakatan Rakyaat (People’s Coalition) of Malaysia. Both of them went into the GE as single parties.

We need a SINGLE PARTY to oppose PAP in the next GE. We need a two (main) party systems to ensure continued stability going forward after each election. Strong examples of these are the mature democracies of USA, UK, Australia, and most European countries.

WP, SDP, RP, SP, PKMS and the rest MUST THINK DEEP AND HARD FOR THE SAKE OF SINGAPORE AND ALL SINGAPOREANS to work hard on this. PLEASE WE HAVE PLACED OUR TRUST, HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS ON YOU LTK, CSJ, KJ, and the gang we truly trust are fighting for the welfare of all Singaporeans and Singapore as one UNITED NATION.

Singaporean For Democracy

Submitted by TRE reader.

**At a party dinner a few weeks ago in Malacca, Democratic Lim Kit Siang warned that PR could break up if the parties’ disagreement over the hudud issue persists. Mr Lim said if the three parties did not remain united, PR would go the way of the Barisan Alternative, a short-lived alliance between PAS, PKR, DAP and Parti Rakyat Malaysia formed in 1999. The coalition was disbanded after the 2004 general election.

“In the past year since the 13th general election, supporters of Pakatan Rakyat have been increasingly concerned whether Pakatan Rakyat … could only survive for one general election,” said Mr Lim.

PM is clueless about the WP & PAP

In Political governance on 02/06/2014 at 4:45 am

Sun Tzu said, If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.

Going by what he said last week, when and Low Thia Khiang engaged in a jaw-jaw in Parliament  on constructive politics, WP’s stand on major policy issues and the role of the opposition in parliament, PM doesn’t know the enemy and the PAP. So how can he fix anyone?

He said:

It’s an eloquent explanation for why the WP has been inarticulate, about many things. In a serious parliament, the Government presents its policies. The Opposition presents its alternatives. The WP may not have alternatives on every issue; it may not have a full range of all the complexities of designing an HDB scheme or MediShield scheme. You do have a responsibility to say which direction are we going. And that direction has to be set clearly – not to explain to the PAP, but to explain to Singaporeans what you stand for.

Err except that in a parliamentary democracy (I’m assuming S’pore is one, not a defacto one-party state), the opposition spends most of its time after losing a general election criticising the govt, and its policies. It only starts proposing alternatives maybe one yr before the next general election; and that only because it wants to present itself as a credible alternative to the govt.

Now the WP has made it clear that it isn’t ready for power and will at best be part of Team PAP if the PAP doesn’t win a parly majority. Nothing about teaming up with the other opposition parties.

So there really isn’t the need of presenting alternatives. And our PM should know it, and he should know that S’poreans know this too. The WP is uniquely S’porean: it doesn’t want to be the driver. It’s happy being a self-appointed co-driver.

And the following show that a Catholic High, NJC boy has problems understanding the principles of Tao that Low is using http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/low-shows-the-usefulness-of-non-action/ (’cause dad’s a legalist? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/lao-tse-and-hard-truths/):

I hope he takes an equally reasonable approach when it comes to election rallies because the WP approach has been to be extremely reasonable – indeed low profile – in Parliament but come election time to turn into tigers and heroes.

It’s an eloquent explanation for why the WP has been inarticulate, about many things. In a serious parliament, the Government presents its policies. The Opposition presents its alternatives. The WP may not have alternatives on every issue; it may not have a full range of all the complexities of designing an HDB scheme or MediShield scheme. You do have a responsibility to say which direction are we going. And that direction has to be set clearly – not to explain to the PAP, but to explain to Singaporeans what you stand for.

And

[A]fter all this complicated explanation, I don’t know whether Mr Low Thia Khiang still stands by what was said in Parliament in the White Paper debate last year… But after telling me you can massage this and some people can do (with) less and others will need more – that’s easy to say, who’s going to do the massaging? Of course, the Government. And that, is the mark of a sub-standard Opposition.”

If PM doesn’t understand that WP Low is a follower of Lao Tze, then the PAP is in trouble.

And it’s not that PM understands himself or the PA.

It’s a bit rich for PM to say:

I think the record will speak for itself, when we make a shift we acknowledge a shift. When the WP changes position they pretend they haven’t – that is the difference.

And

We have to call a spade a spade. If we have changed position and your previous position was wrong, say so. If you hold by your position, have your guts to reaffirm it and take the consequences. But to weasel away, play with words, avoid the issue and then claim to be responsible, that is what we fear can drive Singapore’s politics into the same place where many other countries have gone.

As Lao Tze WP Low said

Talking about the WP flip-flopping on foreign workers issue… In any case, I also noted that when the PAP has to make a policy U-turn, they call it policy shift. I don’t know whether that is a shift or it’s a flip-flop.

He could have highlighted other PAP semantics like “evolving” (public tpt sys policies are “evolving”) or “moving on” (“Let’s forget the cock-up. This is an order”)?”

But Low was talking rubbish when he said, This is the mark of a responsible Opposition not to jam up the Government; allowing the Government – after giving our view, debating it – allowing the Government to move forward, not to jam up the Government. It is a mark of a responsible Government and a mark of first world Parliament”.

WP can’t jam p anything. The PAP’s majority (more than two-thirds) means it can do what it likes. And there’s nothing the WP can do about it. So long as the PAP has a two-thirds majority in parliament, it can do what it likes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Lee Hsien Loong and Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang engaged in a verbal sparing in Parliament on 28 May on constructive politics, WP’s stand on the big issues as well as the role of opposition in parliament.

More equal than other S’poreans?

In Political governance, Public Administration, Uncategorized on 30/04/2014 at 6:03 am

I’m thinking of Ronald McDonald (a FT turned true blue S’porean who if he had a son with dual citizenship would surely insist that his son dows NS, unlike Yaacob who tells us only that he hopes his son will do NS) and again my beef (rendang flavoured) is with the way the S’poreans who don’t dream the “right” dreams” or think the “right” tots are being ghettoised and discriminated against by the PAP govt.

Let me explain.

I avoided going anyway near a McDonald’s store on Monday because it was the start of the latest “Hello Kitty” promotion. I had memories of what happened in 2000:

Fist fights broke out while frustrated patrons threatened store managers, damaged restaurant property and compelled the fast-food outlets to hire private security firms to police crowds. At one outlet, at least seven people were injured after a glass door they were leaning on shattered.

Singapore, which keeps tight curbs on public speech and famously bans most sales of chewing gum to keep its streets clean, was caught by surprise. While public demand was heated for similar promotions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, few expected law-abiding Singaporeans to turn so catty—or for the issue to claw its way to the top ranks of power.

“We should not get too carried away,” said then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who later became prime minister. “Even if you want the Kitty, there is no need to fight fiercely to try and get one,” he told local media at a public event.

In Parliament, a lawmaker asked the environment minister if he planned to stop McDonald’s from selling Hello Kitty dolls. “It’s not under my purview,” the minister replied.

And only last yr

… things got heated again when McDonald’s rolled out a so-called “Fairy Tales” Hello Kitty set, featuring six versions designed after popular folklore. The last one—a black kitten sporting a skeletal motif—sparked mayhem as security personnel were called in to deal with heated squabbles caused by widespread line-jumping. McDonald’s wrote a letter to a local newspaper apologizing for the chaos and promised to do better next time.

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303834304579523793654859518?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303834304579523793654859518.html)

Finally, an online sale, I tot, was a warning of the public order problems that would ensure on Monday.

To improve buyers’ experience and curb black-market sales, the company also is offering online sales for a collector’s set featuring all six toys, Ms. Low said.

But the online sales drive was overwhelmed by the weight of orders, forcing the fast-food chain to temporarily suspend sales after less than two hours.

Hundreds of disgruntled Kitty-lovers hurled abuse on McDonald’s Facebook page, accusing the fast-food chain of sloppy customer service.

So you’d have tot that the police would conclude, “Three strikes and you’re out, Ronald.”; the police having the power to prevent such a commercial event from being held if they had concerns about “public disorder and mischief”, that “may disrupt community life”.

But, Pledging to prevent a repeat of ugly scenes that plagued past promotions, McDonald’s says it has engaged private-security firms to provide crowd control and prepared line-management plans for its staff. It is also boosting its toy supplies by roughly 50% .compared with last year.

In the event, the police were right in their judgment in allowing the promotion to go ahead, nothing untoward happened on Monday and Tuesday.

But my point is that given the track record of problems in 2000 and 2013, and the very recent online bad-tempered, why did our police not insist that McDonald cancel the event?

Yet some S’poreans are routinely not allowed to hold events in public spaces (other than in Hong Lim) because of concerns of public order. Even the light-blue clones of the MIW were not allowed to hold an event in a park in 2007 because of concerns of public order.

When WP chairman and NCMP Sylvia Lim raised a question over the issue in Parliament, she (and we) was told that such activities “have the potential for public disorder and mischief, and may disrupt community life.”*

Yet the police, it seems, had no such concerns with the MacDonald’s promotion, despite MacDonald’s track record of being the cause of public “disorder and mischief”, that disrupted “community life” in 20000 and 2013.

My point is that shouldn’t these S’poreans (who are not PA or NTUC activists) be given the opportunity as the Filipinos and McDonald of proving the police wrong. After all many of these S’poreans who dream different dreams or think different tots have served NS, defending the country.

Shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to show that they can behave in the right way in public like the Filipinos? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/fts-more-equal-than-the-wrong-sporeans-why-liddat-pm/

And why is Ronald McDonald given the benefit of the doubt despite his track record of causing problems (albeit unintentionally and indirectly) in 2000 and 2013?

And yet the “wrong” S’poreans are presumed to be dangerous to public order? Doesn’t their honourable discharge from full-time NS mean that they deserve to be treated like Filipinos and Ronald, and be given the presumption of good behaviour?

One could reasonably argue (I’m not) that such an attitude to NS men sucks, and is most insulting from a govt that says it values those who do NS. Just recently, the media reported that Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said a package of “meaningful” benefits is being considered for operationally ready NSmen. “We want to centre the recognition benefits by giving them a greater stake in Singapore, whether it is housing, health or education,”…

The various contradictions and inconsistencies  that have mutated from the Hard Truths on which the PAP has governed S’pore since 1959 are coming to haunt the PAP; contractions and inconsistencies which have especially multiplied since the “FTs are betterest” policies were introduced to repress the wages of local PMETs. Appropriately, the ghosts are appearing juz as the PAP govt is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our enforced independence, as a prelude to its next GE campaign.

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*”Police requirement is that such party activities be held indoors or within stadiums, so that any law and order problems will be contained. This policy applies to all political parties,” Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee.

 

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.

WP should resurrect its 1984 manifesto and 1991 speeches?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 21/03/2014 at 4:55 am

(Or “Back to the future for WP in next GE?

In the course of helping the author of Dissident Voices in the research for the sequel, I borrowed the WP 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book from the National Library, Marine Parade branch. I couldn’t find it on the shelves so I asked the librarian if it was “protected” by an invisibility field or was only available to the “right” people. No, it wasn’t hidden away under lock and key. It was openly displayed on the shelf near the PAP’s 50th anniversary book. But it is such an inconspicuous volume that I missed it.

The book told me things that the ST never reported about the 1984 and 1991  general elections. Remember that these events happened before the internet age. If the media didn’t report something, it didn’t exist for practical reasons (Somewhere I blogged on how the 1988 results for Eunos GRC came as a surprise: WP nearly won).

I learnt that the 1984 election manifesto was entitled”Wake Up to Your Freedom , It’s Time”. calling for the people to vote for “the Hammer for a caring society”. The WP called for

– Free and adequate medical care for the needy

– Commission to review education policy

–Free schooling and equal opportunities in education for children from poor families

– Workers’ rights

– Reduced CPF contributions and the right to take your CPF savings at 55

– Adequate care for the aged

– Greater share forSsingaporeans in the economic wealth

– Help for the disabled

– Abolition of tax subsidies and privileges for the rich

– Reasonable compensation for acquired properties

– Abolition of tax on water, light and telephone services

– Review of all fees paid to government and statutory boards

– Guaranteed personal for every citizen

– Freedom from exercise of arbitrary power and protection of citizen’s rights

All this in response to the younger PAP’s ministers call to vote for the PAP for a Swiss std of living.

Compare this to the 2011 manifesto (Key Highlights) which has since been watered down. No more public tpt nationalisation.

I find the 1984 manifesto more stirring and, more importantly, rationally relevant today. True the ideas in the manifesto sounded like pie-in-the-sky in 1984 (when I voted for the WP because I believed that a one-party state was bad for S’pore even though I was happy with most of what LKY, Dr Goh and the other Water Margin “bandits” were doing for us: ya I that ungrateful), but the ideas are no longer rubbish.

According to the PAP we now have a Swiss standard of living (huh? OK, like us the Swiss are unhappy about immigration, so unhappy that in a recent referendum they told the govt to restrict immigration)), and it’s a fact that we got oddles of money in the reserves (though you wouldn’t think so reading Chris Balding and his mindless “hate S’pore” groupies) thanks partly to Dr Goh’s ideas: doesn’t this mean we can now afford the things WP was calling for in 1984?

As regards the danger of overspending, we got the capital, and part of the income from it locked away from the govt in power, whether it be PAP or not. So the govt can only spend what it raises in taxes and the like, what with borrowing requiring the president’s approval.

So the ground is fertile for trying shumething new without worrying that the new policies cannot be reversed.

Another interesting fact I learnt is that according to the book in the 1991 GE, speeches centred mainly on bread-and-better issues:

The PAP would give beautiful promises before elections but there would always be strings attached — service charges would see a hike soon after.

– Under PAP’s reign, it would be difficult to maintain a family and provide decent education for the next generation.

– Their policies have promoted social inequality and a widening of the rich-poor divide.

– Job security for the workers was pathetically limited.

Sounds familiar?  Back to the future?

So, all in all, JBJ and his merry men of bicyle thieves*, ex-Woodbridge patients* , opportunists and economic illiterates were prescient. More prescient than me at least (trained lawyer and wannabe corporate financier). They were prescient earlier than Dr Chee who was still in shorts in 1984. Remember he had been banging away since the 1990s about growing inequality etc as the SDP rightly never fails to remind us. Well JBJ and his merry men had been doing so earlier.

With this track record, why doesn’t WP remind us that it called the future right in 1984 and 1991?

One reason could be that Low is a modest man, not prone in triumphalism; he was Organising Secretary in 1988. Another reason could be that the WP thinks that in the real world the public has a bad impression of the WP in those years even though JBJ is fondly remembered in cyberspace. History began only in 2001, after Low took power from JBJ.

It’s a fact (not a Hard Truth or a Heart Truth) that after the 1997 GE, the WP went AWOL (or is it MIA?).

It went so AWOL or MIA that it could only field two candidates in 2001. It had wanted to field a GRC team too but one James Gomez** it is alleged screwed up, even though publicly Low took responsibility for the balls-up. In 1988, in the first GE under the uber gerrymandering GRC system, it fielded 32 candidates of uneven quality and contested 6 GRCs and 14 SMCs. In 1991 it fielded 13 candidates in 2 GCs and 5 SMCs. in 1996 it fielded 14 candidates in 3 GRCs and one SMC (Houygang). The candidates in 1991 and 1997 were the kind of people voters were comfortable with.

True the leadership had a major distraction that started when JBJ as the editor of the Hammer, even though he didn’t understand written Tamil, published a letter written in Tamil. Let these extracts tell the story.

Legal Action: An Tamil Article Published on THE HAMMER
In November 1995, the Party and the whole of its Central Executive Council found itself the object of two defamation suits filed by five PAP Tamil MPs and eleven members of the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week arising from an article published in the Party organ, “The Hammer”. The Plaintiffs’ complaint in both suits was that the article implied that their efforts to promote the Tamil Language had been less than sincere.Members of the Central Executive Council under suit by PAP Tamil MPs and the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week were:-
Chairman Dr Tan Bin Seng
Vice-Chairman A. Rahim Rahman
Secretary-General J. B. Jeyaretnam
Assistant Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang
Treasurer Sim Say Chuan
Organising Secretary Ng Ah Chwee
Committee Member Lim Ee Peng
Committee Member James Teo Kian Chye
Committee Member James Tan Joo Leng
Committee Member K. Mariappane
Committee Member Chan Keng Sieng
Eventually, in September 1997, the Party and its Central Executive Council members agreed to pay the five PAP Tamil MPs by 6 instalments, damages for defamation of $200,000/- (inclusive of legal costs). The suit by the eleven members of the Organizing Committee was in the course of hearing at time of writing.
 …

Judgment: A Tamil Article Published in THE HAMMER
By the said Judgment given at the High Court on the 30th November 1998 that Jeyaretnam, A Balakrishnan and the workers’ party were collectively and severally ordered to pay ten of the plaintiffs in the said suit a total sum of $265, 000/- for damages and costs to be taxed.The Worker’s Party’s appeal against the said judgment was dismissed on 21 April 1999. By then the total sum had snowballed to close to half a million dollars, inclusive of legal costs.

(Above extracts from http://archive.is/lSomP#selection-1561.0-1583.184)

(Update at 6.52 on day of publication: More on nuances of the defamation case: http://article14.blogspot.sg/2012/03/who-got-facts-wrong-kenneth-jeyaretnam.html and http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lrwc.org%2Fws%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F03%2FDefamationinSingapore.pdf&ei=N3ErU56GM877rAfhr4D4BA&usg=AFQjCNEGC0kB5Gwv5vdRztQr1ooO1060KA&bvm=bv.63316862,d.bmk)

Whatever the reason for not invoking the past in the past since 2001, the WP should seriously rethink the strategy of trying to be near-clones of the MIW. It was the right strategy in the noughties, and it culminated in the victories in 2011 (it campaigned as the voters’ co-driver to the PAP), 2012 and 2013. Huat ah.

But is it the right strategy for the next GE? For the reasons given above, I think not. It’s like the by-election strategy that was adopted by accident in 1991 (JBJ didn’t want it but he couldn’t get enough WP candidates); gd idea for its time but by the end of the decade had outlived its usefulness.

What do you think?

Especially if the ideas expressed here (http://thehearttruths.com/2014/03/19/truth-exposed-how-the-pap-will-crash-the-singapore-economy/take root in the real world), not juz  cyberspace i.e.”cowboy towns” (actually paper-warriors’ alternative reality).

As someone who wants for starters, an opposition that deprives the PAP of a two-thirds parliamentary majority, I don’t want the next GE to be a rerun of the 1997 one.

*OK, OK . Only one of each.  But there were many “strange” MP candidates, pre 1988. But thinking about it only those who perceived reality differently from other S’poreans would have dared take on the PAP in the 70s and 80s.  Remember LKY was no wimp like Goh or Pinkie; he was the leader of Water Margin “bandits”.

**Yup the same Gabra Gomez of 2006. His instructors in BMT would sure have been real nervous during range, and grenade throwing. In 2011, SDP made sure he kept away from the form filling.

Accounts: PA fixed, WP got fixed?

In Corporate governance, Political governance on 24/02/2014 at 5:24 am

The usual suspects and other anti-PAP netizens are outraged that Khaw’s ministry has highlighted various concerns regarding the auditor’s report on the financial statements of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) for Financial Year 2012, and Tharman has gotten the Auditor-General to investigate the matter, while no-one in govt is investigating why the PA’s “auditors have been giving an “adverse opinion” on the financial reports from the People’s Association (PA) for several years now.” http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/20/breaking-auditors-give-adverse-ratings-to-pas-financial-reports/

I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of the AHTC’s accounts because we will soon know the truth*, except tthat I found it puzzling that Auntie said bar one concern, they were related to handing-over issues. Some were, the others were not, even a cursory glance would have shown her, as it did me (both of us are trained lawyers). Anyway let’s wait for the report, though having witnessed at first hand how the AudG audits govt bodies, WP is in for a nasty report. It is hated and feared by the rest of the govt machinery. It works like the ISD: takes no prisoners. AudG is also very petty.

As to the PA’s accounts, I won’t go into details because the issue is one of consolidating accounts** and the PA had given up its row with its auditor and will be consolidating the accounts that the auditor wanted consolidated effective last yr’s accounts, due soon. It had resisted complying since the auditor raised the issue (“Auditor KPMG noted the omission of the financial statements of the community centres and community clubs”).in the accounts for FY 2001.

The usual suspects should be asking if the fixing of the PA’s accounts (WP Low had raised the issue in 2008 and was told to  Foff http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/02/low-thia-khiangs-question-in-2008-on-pas-adverse-accounts-rating/: there was nothing wrong with the accounts**) and the row over the AHTC’s accounts are linked? Could it be that the decision to fix the way the PA’s accounts are prepared, was done in the expectation that the dysfunctional duo (Auntie and PritamS: remember they are lawyers, not accountants) would have failed to fix the AHTC’s accounts for the second yr in a row. And there could be an opportunity to show the entire WP as dysfunctional? Remember that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and Pritam has shown us repeatedly that he keeps saying or doing the wrong things***. Or is this line of reasoning (fixing to fix) too cynical or too conspiratorial? Even believing that JBJ and friends really won at Cheng San, or that Ong Teng cheong lost the presidential elections is more believable?

Seriously, in thinking about the row on the audit reports, I hope readers remember the wise words of Low.  TOC reported that Low is also extremely “confident” that none of the Town Council’s funds were lost, and that there was no involvement of any form of illegal payment or transaction.”

WP Low got the issue absolutely right. It’s all about whether any funds were lost, and whether  there was “any form of illegal payment or transaction”, not whether he PA’s or AHTC’s accounts get clean audit reports, ’cause they do the “right” things. Audit reports are very impt, but they are maps not the reality.  The auditor gave Enron a clean audit report. Both are history. 

They should also take into account the following comments:

–  I think overall audit standards are tightening. What passed as ok earlier is not acceptable anymore (unless we have a serious case of casting with closed eyes). Seeing how liable for professional negligence auditors can be, no one is going to ruin their rice bowl any time soon unless they’re really old and ready to be disbarred. (Facebook poster)

As somebody who has been audited many times and qualified as an accountant, I am also breathless with admiration how so many capable and intelligent people can deliver so little value to society. Most big four accountants are capable individuals but put them together and they seem incapable of delivering anything of value to companies.  (A FT reader on a FT article on accountants)

I’ll leave with a wicked tot. Low has said he is “not an accountant”. Remember he said he was “not a private investigator (remember  http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/lol-expelling-yaw-took-courage/?). So will he, one day, tell tell us he is not a manager when Auntie’s and Pritam’s dysfunctionality finally causes the WP serious damage, and they have to move on from the WP like Yaw?

*Though I sure if the AudG sides with the MND, the usual suspects and groupies will be accusing AuditorG of being biased. When that happens, I hope they will then stop using AudG’s reports against the govt. Can’t suka suka use favourable reports, not unfavourables. After all, they claim not to be like the PAP govt: who is happy to use TI’s figures when it praises S’pore and slimes it when its figures slime S’pore http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/19/dr-ng-condemns-tis-defence-spending-rating-for-sg/. If the government finds TI not to be credible {on defence procurement issues] 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 [Link]:

**As regards PA’s non-consolidation of grassroots organisations’ accounts, the auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has qualified the financial statements of People’s Association on the basis that the accounts of the grassroots organisations were not consolidated. PA’s view is that the accounts of grassroots organisations should not be consolidated for the following reasons.

Firstly, the funds in these accounts belong to the grassroots organisations. Secondly, the Government grants and the cost of staff support are already accounted for in PA’s financial statements. Thirdly, the grassroots organisations are operationally self-funding through revenues from activities, courses and donations. Fourthly, the grassroots organisations decide on how their money should be spent for the benefit of the residents. And, finally, proper procurement procedures, financial control and good corporate governance practices apply to the grassroots organisations.

***Think

– his “coalition with the PAP” comment;

– planning footie on PAP MPs’ team:

– silly slip that only a lawyer buruk would make http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/c-wps-performance-during-the-budget-debate/

– Hawkergate: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/low-shows-the-usefulness-of-non-action/

Strong legacy of forgotten dissident & party

In Political governance on 21/02/2014 at 6:09 am

I feel the need* to remind readers about Lee Siew Choh, a dissident that even LKY, no sufferer of fools, respected**. Ironically, while he may be forgotten, and the party he helped found no longer exists, their legacy lives on, troubling the PAP’s hegemony. LKY’s respect is well-founded.

We all know all about that lion, and the reviver of opposition politics, JBJ, but who remembers Lee Siew Choh? The name doesn’t ring a bell among many younger S’poreans. And even people like me get their recollections of him muddled. Example: even though he was a medical doctor and studied at one of KL’s leading English language schools, I tend to think of him as Chinese-educated.

The basic, factual info about him can be found at NLB’s  Singapore Infopedia, a very useful site on things S’porean. (Sorry can’t link to the article ’cause NLB says must get its permission***. I don’t want AG to prosecute me, but where got time to ask permission to publicise an NLB product on a not-for-profit blog? Seriously, getting permission to link is so totalitarian or Big Brotherish. But then librarians are worse than teachers, policepersons and PAPpies in their authoritarian, “must have our permission” instincts. I was one in RI.)

Sorry, back to Lee. Part of his early life reads like an adventure and romance novel or film script. Born in KL, he came here to study medicine. He married a nurse he met at KK Hospital. Shortly after his marriage, in 1942, the Japanese sent him to work (as a doctor) on the infamous railway*** *made famous by the movie Bridge on the River Kwai.

You’d have tot that when he got back alive, he’d focus on getting rich and spending time with his wife. Well he did set up a medical practice at Hill St and they had three children. But he was a socialist who wanted Malayan and S’porean independence from the British.

One Dr Goh Keng Swee suggested he join the PAP: big mistake for him and the PAP. A yr after joining, in 1959, he was elected as Legislative Assemblyman for Queenstown. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Affairs Ministry in 1960. He was a coming PAP man. He might have even made it into the book “Lee’s “Lieutenants”*****.

But in 1961, Dr Lee and 12 other PAP assemblymen and other leading PAP members  (35 of the 51 branches of PAP and 19 of its 23 organising secretaries) broke away from the PAP over differences with LKY and the other “conservative” PAP leaders over the proposed merger with Malaya. They formed the Barisan Sosialis with Dr Lee as the chairman. There were heated rows in the Assembly: WP should study what the BSoc did there to see how to hold the PAP govt to account: no co-driver BS. In 1961, he made the longest speech in the history of the Legislative Assembly: seven hours on the subject of Singapore’s proposed merger with Malaya. I don’t think this record has been bettered after S’pore became independent.

Anyway, the decision to form Malaysia was made (There was a referendum where voters had to vote for some of merger, rejection was not an available option, not even casting a blank vote as the BSoc recommended: blank votes were deemed to be votes in favour of LKY’s preferred option), but BSoc continued to oppose the PAP govt on merger. And on other things too: like workers’ rights and welfare. They were to the left of the PAP (who remember called themselves “socialists”). So far left of the PAP, that when the PAP called them “communists”, the label tended to stick.

In 1963,  Operation Coldstore removed from politics (by detaining them under the ISA) many of the leaders of the BSoc, a few months before the 1963 general elections (Some for our PM to learn from?). Dr Lee was not arrested but the following senior party officials were

Lim Chin Siong, secretary-general (like in the PAP, this was the most powerful post)

– S Woodhull, vice-chairman

– Fong Swee Suan, executive committee member

– Dominic Puthucheary, committee member

Many members were arrested too (e.g. Dr Lin Hock Siew.)

Lee led the party in the 1963 elections, in which they won 13 of the 51 seats. But he lost his contest with Dr Toh Chin Chye by a handful of votes. BSoc won 33.2% of popular votes but won only a quarter of the seats. The PAP won 37 seats with about 47% of the popular vote. The BSoc claimed they were cheated of victory. While they couldn’t prove the allegations, it is a fact (not a Hard Truth) that anti-PAP vote was split, with multi-cornered fights.

Even though the BSoc was proven right on M’sia (it didn’t work did it?), and S’pore left M’sia in 1965, sadly for S’porean democracy, BSoc in a fit of collective madness boycotted the first post-independence parliament, and general election in 1968, allowing the PAP to win all 51 of the seats in Parliament. Lee apologised to S’poreans for this collective mistake by the party in a 1980 election campaign speech. But to be fair to BSoc, the ISD was arresting members (think Chia Thye Poh, an MP) between 1965 and 1968, so one can understand BSoc’s decision.

The party never regained a meaningful role in politics after 1968, and in 1988, the party merged with the WP that JBJ had by then revived.

At the 1988 general election, Lee stood as a WP candidate in the Eunos GRC and the WP lost very narrowly to the PAP. As the WP was eligible to nominate two members of its team from Eunos to become Non-constituency MPs, the WP nominated Lee and Francis Seow to become NCMPs. Seow fled before he could take up his NCMP seat: he wanted to avoid income tax evasion charges, alleging the charges were politically motivated. Lee became Singapore’s first-ever NCMP. In Parliament, he raised issues  of justice including the ISA, cost of living and welfare.

Lee again stood in Eunos GRC in 1991, the WP again losing narrowly. However no NCMP seats were offered as the opposition parties won a total of four elected seats. Sadly two of the SDP MPs turned out to be clowns. Lee would have made a better opposition MP. He, Chiam and JBJ would have been a formidable trio.

Lee left the WP in 1996, saying he had differences with JBJ. What these were were never made public.

As to his legacy? Here are some tentative musings. The areas where the WP holds power is where the BSoc had its power base. Hougang was a BSoc stronghold and the ex-BSoc team there worked for Low and formed his power base. After he became Sec-Gen of the WP, the WP changed from a group of bicycle thieves, ex-Woodbridge patients, opportunists and “JBJ is always right” groupies held together by JBJ’s charisma (though not his organisational skills) into the disciplined, serious-minded force that it is today, PritamS notwithstanding.

The people that helped Low do this were former BSoc cadres and other activists from the Punggol area. I may not respect the WP’s attempts to hold the PAP govt to account as self-appointed co-driver, but I respect the discipline, purposefulness and hard work that enabled the WP to win a GRC and two SMCs, and nearly winning a third. And attracting members of the calibre of Chen Show Mao and JJ. Too bad about Pritam though.

While today’s WP is no longer the WP of JBJ (for which S’poreans should be grateful), one could argue that today’s WP is BSoc reincarnated. Even WP’s cautious stance, it could be argued, can be traced to the WP leaders wanting to avoid the mistakes BSoc made. Example: It was easy for the PAP to demonise the BSoc as “communist” because activists used the language of people like Mao: “class struggle”, “revolution” etc.

——————————–

“When I opened a copy of my friend’s latest book “Dissident Voices”, and saw the dissidents featured (Lim Chin Siong, Catherine Lim, Ong Eng Guan, David Marshall, Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew, Said Zahari, Tan Wah Piow, Francis Seow and Vincent Cheng Lim), I tot how come no JBJ and Lee Siew Choh? After all, they too stood firm on their convictions despite the odds. And they too paid a heavy toll for their beliefs … But they never broke. In fact, Catherine Lim is a nobody when compared to those giants, JBJ and Lee.” ‘

When we met, he explained to me that he and Marshall Cavendish (the publisher) had agreed a tentative list of names. More than one book was needed to do justice to the names on the list.. The author thought the subjects he chose for the book “S’pore Dissidents” would resonate more with readers who wanted to know more about personalities who dared to be different – and paid a price. There are plans for another volume to cover JBJ and Lee Siew Choh for sure.”

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/dissident-voices/)

**Part of ST’s report on death of Dr Lee in July 2002:

Recalling that, the Senior Minister wrote [to his widow]: ‘It altered the course of
his life, and the part he played in Singapore’s politics helped change
the course of history.’

Despite their strong political differences, Mr Lee felt ‘no personal
animosity’ towards the opposition leader.

‘In many ways he was a likeable man; he was open and transparent if
somewhat impulsive; he had a sense of humour, and often laughed at
what he was saying,’ added SM Lee.

‘And I felt partly to blame for getting him involved in a field not
his forte. So I was glad that he accepted my invitation for both of
you to accompany my wife and me on our 10-day visit to China in
October 1990.’

***You also may not, without the permission of NLB DIGITAL LIBRARY, insert a hyperlink to this website on any other website or “mirror” any Material contained on this website on any other server.

****The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

*****Incidentally, the implication of the title is that they were LKY’s subordinates. While they regarded him as the leader of the pack, the evidence shows he was regarded as merely first among equals to the likes of Dr Goh, Toh Chin Chye, Baker, Lim Kim San. It wasn’t like the master slave relationship that LKY had with GCT, Dharnabalan, Wong Kan Seng and others. .

“Why Government Should Not Be Run Like A Business”

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 05/02/2014 at 4:29 am

The above article from Forbes has been making the rounds on Facebook following the public tpt fare increase. Meanwhile, the WP is now saying, “The WP believes that public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit”*

The Forbes piece explicitly says, while the WP’s motherhood statement implies, that if only public services are run sans the profit motive, everything will be fine. Profit is the evil. In its place, would be a serious of targets that would in PR jargon “enhance the users’ experience”.

It follows that the guiding principle of target setting should be an analysis of function—ie, what something does, not what it is.

Sounds good but as usual the devil is in the details: here the devils (legions of them) are in the the targets set.

The flaws in setting targets in public services have long been apparent. The single-minded pursuit of them in the NHS has contributed to some of the scandals in treating patients. Hospitals became so fixated on meeting national targets that they lost sight of their overriding responsibility to look after the people they were treating and to make them better.

Now the London Underground offers another example of the perverse effects of targets, especially when they are pursued in a simple-minded way. Green Park is one of the busiest tube stations in London. It has three escalators to the station concourse from the Piccadilly line, which serves not just London commuters but international businessmen and tourists travelling to and from Heathrow. Yet routinely one is closed at peak times.

The reason? According to station staff Green Park has been set energy targets and this is the way that it is meeting them.

What folly. Whether or not this is intended by the top brass at Transport for London is unclear. But this is what happens when stupid objectives are set and managers are either pressured into meeting them come what may or follow them without paying heed to their primary responsibility, which in the case of a tube station is to convey passengers as swiftly and as safely as possible to and from the trains. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2014/01/trouble-targets)**

Another problem with the attitude articulated in the article and the WP’s motherhood statement is that they are quiet about the danger of “capture” of public services by the people working in the public sector.

As a student in London in the late 70s, I saw this capture at first hand. The London public tpt system and the state-owned British Airways were run for the convenience among other nationalised industries)ce and benefit of the employees (managers, executives and workers) not the commuting public.

The real issue when discussing the improvement of public services is finding ways to quantity the “public good”, something which Bloomberg tried hard to do when he was mayor of NY City. Bloomberg who recently finished two terms as NY city’s major, leaving office with a reputation as one of the best mayors the city has ever had, has said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

He used data to do boring things well—an undervalued virtue. His analytics team pools data from different agencies to inform decisions. For instance, it tracked complaints from 311 calls, a municipal hotline, and linked them with information about such things as tax irregularities to pinpoint illegal building conversions, which are fire hazards, quickly and fairly accurately. Mr Bloomberg listened to ideas if his staff had supporting evidence. (Economist)

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/culture-ministry-morphs-into-quant-ministry/)

Even the mystic and poet Blake who portrayed in his poetry Issac Newton, the scientist who discovered the maths behind the universe, to an evil god wrote, “Generalisation and abstraction are The plea of the hypocrite, scoundrel, and knave.”

The profit motive, while not perfect, and often misused (to benefit mgt, and shareholders) at least forces measurable quantification. It’s all about quantification as Bloomberg said. Note that his successor during the election campaign talked of ditching quantification. He was supported by the public services unions.

Of course quantification can go wrong like in our Arts ministry and the Vietnam War, http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/culture-ministry-morphs-into-quant-ministry/

*This is not the nationalisation it once called for. In its election manifesto, WP called for public tpt nationalisation, something Low reaffirmed after the Punggol East victory. Now, it says “public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit”. In its manifesto for GE 2011 it said,

  1. Instead of public transport being provided by profit-oriented companies, all public transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major routes should be brought under a National Transport Corporation, a public body, to ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport network and to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and overheads incurred by multiple operators.
  2. The Public Transport Council should be dissolved. Government accountability for public transport matters should be via a unit under the Land Transport Authority. This unit should receive feedback, audit services, review productivity and examine the need for fare adjustments.

**BTW, maybe someone in SMRT reads me? Further to this where I promised to report if the escalator at Eunos stn is working, last Wednesday when I was there, it was functioning.

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/

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).

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/

Low shows the usefulness of “non-action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His continued silence while not damning is strange.

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

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

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

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/

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.

WP & NEA deserve one another?

In Humour, Public Administration on 24/06/2013 at 6:03 pm

Given PM’s warning that the haze will last for weeks, and that this respite is temporary, I was surprised to read in yesterday’s ST that the WP town council was beginning  the cleaning yesterday of the two hawker centres (when PritamS had said needed only to be cleaned once a yr: despite them not being cleaned since 2011 according to a TOC report, I think). His remarks provoked a typhoon in an  expresso cup.

I mean with all the haze around, cleaning the ceilings now would be a waste of effort and money.

Wonder if the WP town council had consulted the hawkers and the NEA on whether it made sense in view of the haze to clean the ceilings now.

NEA should have stepped in to advise, “Wait awhile”. After all WP are novices when it comes to managing a GRC. Only had tiny Hougang before 2011.

The hawkers should have the final sale as their sales are affected when there is cleaning.

As it is, the hardworking hawkers will have to forgo sales yet again, and to what purpose? If the PM is right and the haze returns, and it seems to doing so, as I write, the ceilings will get dirty pretty fast.

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

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.

Budget debate: No more Wayang pls WP

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 27/02/2013 at 6:06 am

(Esp since govt stops Wayang on COEs and properties)

I was surprised to learn from DPM Teo last yr, that the WP MPs voted in favour of the 2012 Budget. Given the passion that they spoke against things they didn’t like about the 2012 Budget, I had tot that they would abstain. Voting against the Budget would be expecting too much of a party that sees itself as a “co-driver” with the possibility of sharing the driving one day (Dream on Baiyee).

Still I tot that abstaining would be a principled stand (Not opposing for the sake of opposing), that reflects the realities: there are gd bits, and any way PAP will win the vote. But support the Budget was two-faced by any standard, especially given that there were strong speeches against bits of the Budget. (And talking of two-faced, Baiyee and Auntie voted for the govt’s bill changing the law on mandatory capital punishment, after waxing impassionately against it).

So come the time, I expect the WP to be principled: either abstain or vote against the govt’s Budget. I’m of course assuming that there are things in the Budget that the WP strongly disagrees with. If the WP has only minor quibbles, and supports the Budget, in general, I expect it to say so openly, loudly, and to vote for the Budget. Don’t attack it, and then support it. In short, no more Wayang please.

The WP MPs should show us that they got balls they can walk the talk, not talk cock sing song. For the latter, we got PAP MPs like Inderjit Singh. The voters of Punggol East and Aljunied did not vote for WP MPs, only to discover that they voted for PAP clones who dress in light blue.

Penultimately, PritamS had a great suggestion for the govt that he should suggest to WP Low. Practice what you preach: set an example.

“Member of Parliament (MP) Pritam Singh has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to better highlight Singapore’s stand on controversial issues.
He said this was not only to solicit public feedback, but also to remove the chance for misunderstandings among the public to occur on such matters.” CNA on 4 February 2013.

The WP should better highlight WP’s stand (and voting record in Parliament where applicable) on controversial or complicated issues to remove the chance for misunderstandings among the public to occur on such matters.

Finally, nice to see that the govt has stopped its wayanging on inflation caused by COEs and property rentals (Remember Tharman’s and Hng Kiang’s,”Inflation? What inflation? Don’t rent, no new car, no inflation leh.”) Why did it  take the govt so long to introduce these measures http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1256373/1/.html. I also like the new car financing measures. Shumething should be done similarly on residential property financing, other than first homes. SLimit the loans to 10 years, given that interest rates are low.

Update: WP groupie JG (see comments) has a gd point on voting records. This is something that the WP should explain to S’poreans as per Baiyee’s suggestion.

 

Restoring TFR should be a top priority: WP chief

In Humour on 09/02/2013 at 2:43 pm

Err so Auntie got her orders to get married and start breeding ASAP?

Co-driver must also help driver by setting example. All the cabinet members are married with kids. So Auntie should also follow.

And if she not getting married, what about breeding? Every little bit helps.

“WP will vote for the White Paper,” Moley

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 04/02/2013 at 5:31 am

(Update after Auntie’s speech: Moley and I are most happy that we got it wrong. But let’s wait and see. I was happy about being wrong about Punggol East, until Low told us that a vote for the WP is a vote to maintain pAP hegemony)

Given the overwhelming majority of PAP Members of Parliament, there is no question where the debate will be heading – towards a total endorsement of the policy recommendations and continued population influx, despite the message sent to the PAP by the Punggol East electorate and many Singaporeans.

Dear readers, would you vote for your MP in GE 2016 if he or she approves of the immigration targets drawn up in the Population White Paper? (http://singaporearmchaircritic.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/broken-trust-broken-policies/)

Neat idea but what if WP votes for White Paper?

We got to vote for Mad Dog Chee’s elitist Singapore Indian Party SDP*, or No Substance**, or the Clowns Brigade: s/o JBJ, the Saints boy, SDA, or the Chiams, because Morocco Mole tells me that  the WP will vote for the White Paper too. Now Moley has been right about WP refusing to raise issue of public transport nationalisation in parly. (Sorry JG, GG never raised the issue as you claimed. He just asked the govt to justify its rojak policy and then when as you rightly pointed the minister gave an incoherent response, GG didn’t respond with a nationalisation call.)

Sure will have wayang by Drama King PritamS and Drama Auntie (Remember their rants against govt changes to the mandatory death penalty? They voted for the changes on the quiet, juz like PAP MPs. And remember WP voted for the Budgets, despite bitching about the said Budgets).

WP will vote for the White Paper. And unlike all the examples cited above of the WP quietly supporting the PAP, while attacking it publicly, WP is taking a principled stand on the issue. LTK and Auntie have been asking the govt to go easy on the policy of cutting FTs, speaking out against the govt’s policy (now discarded?***) of starving the SMEs of FTs. Chinese-owned SMEs  fund the WP on the quiet, so WP has to keep them happy.

And the PAP (the real deal) has just given WP the best excuse to support the White Paper:

– “Reiterating that the 6.9 million figure should be viewed as “the worst-case scenario”****, Mr Khaw wrote: “We hope we do not reach that figure; we may never reach that figure.”

–“Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said … he fully agrees with Mr Khaw’s explanation that a 6.9 million population is not a target, but just a worst-case, aggressive scenario the Government must prepare for.”

“Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S Iswaran assures Singaporeans that the 6.9 million population figure in the White Paper is not a target the government is setting itself to achieve.”

(Excerpts from MediaCorp)

“6.9m? What 6.9m? Only projection, worse-case scenario, to spur debate leh,” WP Low will say, says Morocco Mole, Secret Squirrel’s side-kick. [This sentence was added an hour after initial publication.]

Which brings me to a suggestion on helping us monitor and assess a MP’s performance (from http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/a-political-performance/)

Each MP should put up a yearly account to their constituents of what they did or said in Parliament. How many sessions did they turn up for? How many Bills did they vote on – and what did they say about them in Parliament? How many questions did they ask from ministers – both oral and written. What sort of answers did they get – and did the questions work in getting things done? … this keeps constituents politically attuned and keeps the MPs accountable. Simply saying vote for me again (I am looking ahead to the next GE) because I am kind, good, committed etc and my party has done what and what… isn’t good enough. Thing is, what have YOU done lately for me as my voice in Parliament?

But I doubt WP would adopt such a first-world practice of transparency and accountability. It would make transparent the WP’s two-headed snake strategy of being all things to all voters.

If ordinary netizens want the WP to vote against the White Paper, please start sending a strong message to the WP: use TRE, even TOC, or email direct to WP.

*I mean both SDP candidates were highly qualified Indians from very, very privileged backgrounds. They couldn’t claim, like s/o JBJ, that they were rich kids made poor by the PAP. But maybe they could argue that their families have been wealthier if the PAP had not come into power? Seriously, maybe the SDP is an elitist party that believes “multiracialism” is more than “an aspiration”: the voters are colour-blind? Says a lot for SDP’s idealism vis-a-vis that of the PAP and WP.

**NSP is getting its act together policy-wise: a good piece on population, responding to the White Paper   http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/02/02/nsp-proposes-alternative-population-plan-for-singapore/. And in working the ground. The problems lie in internal bickering and giving the WP the excuse to “knife” the NSP. An example of the latter: a prominent blogger who juz happens to be a NSP member was very vocal in his attacks on the WP’s leaders and followers during the recent by-election campaign. He accused them of PAP-like arrogance. (Even I won’t go that far in criticising the WP.). While I’m sure, the NSP had no hand in his attacks, which sounded as though they were written by s/o JBJ, it could cause trouble. NSP had no quarrel with WP over the by-election, yet its member felt free to attack WP. Low is very correct in telling his activists to toe the party line on the internet and social media. It could lead to misunderstandings. The WP now has the perfect excuse to move into Tampines, Marine Parade, Kallang and Mountbatten: a NSP member savaged WP on the internet and the NSP kept quiet would be the WP excuse.

***I’m confused. Cutting FT supply but by growing it?

****Shades of Yaacob, Remember he said this when one LKY shouted a Hard Truth about Malay Muslims.

Analysing Low’s speech of “Unity? What unity?”

In Political governance on 27/01/2013 at 5:10 am

– Netizens note: Nemesis did not punish his hubris

I was wrong. The WP won, overturning the 14 percentage point advantage of the PAP. My friend who predicted that with the amenities already in place, or on the way, the voters would vote WP. They had nothing to lose. Here’s TRE immediate take on it: Lingering unhappiness over issues like immigration and transport continue to plague the Government and the major policy announcements over the past few weeks clearly did not sway public opinion.

The WP also seems to have picked up momentum since their historic win in Aljunied GRC two years ago and it is clear that a desire for a strong opposition voice is a tide that might prove difficult for the PAP to reverse.

Ms Lee Li Lian also achieved a first in the history of Singapore – for the first time, an opposition managed to win a multi-cornered fight in an election. That speaks a lot on how Singaporeans feel about PAP these days.

So the 22 January 2013 speech by Low setting out the WP’s position on Opposition unity: it was for the fairies as far as WP was concerned did not upset Nemesis even though he got a lot of stick from netizens. It didn’t upset the 3,000 voters who swung the area WP’s way.

Below is an analysis sent in by “Choked by red pills” written in the immediate aftermath of that speech.

But first let me say that I understand Low’s annoyance with the calls of unity or co-operation. Based on what KennethJ and Mad Dog Chee said, it seems that their idea of teaming up against the PAP is: “You do the work, I get the glory and acclaim”. It juz isn’t on especially in the case of one-man band KennethJ s/o JBJ. What had he to offer to WP in PE? Look at his rally attendances. As to his economic expertise, if the WP wanted to tap economic expertise there are many high IQ, High EQ economists that the WP can take advice from.

At least in the case of SDP, one could argue that Mad Dog Chee offered extending the loan to the WP of the rabid anti-PAP vote, so that WP has a base on which to do its traditional outreach to the moderates. But even I who incline towards this view of the SDP having the mad dog vote, can’t be sure if this is true, or of the size of said vote, unless the SDP fights the WP. I’ll explore why the SDP WP blinked one of these days.

Then there is the resentment within the WP (very understandable) of the Johnnies come later: who are trying to tumpang on the brand building (that the opposition to the PAP can be responsible, mature and moderate; not just a “motley crew” of bicycle thieves, loonies led by a brave, charismatic, egoistic demagogue) by WP (under Low) since 2001. NSP, RP and even SDP were riding on WP’s hard work. The Mad Dog party only turned to electoral politics in 2010. Before that it was bite-and-bait-the-government  game.

Then there is for Low and the other WP leaders the issue of pleasing their activists who are not MPs. The activists want a crack at $15,000 allowances, The jockeying to get places in Aljunied was not funny.

So while I have problems with WP’s performance since GE 2011, I’m on Low’s side when he sneers, “Unity? What unity? Co-operation? What Co-operation?” when the other pygmies parties want the giant to tie himself up, so that they can take advantage of said giant’s hard work.

Having said all this, I commend this for yr reading. Written by one “Choked on red pills”, it analyses Low’s unity speech of 22 January. It was written on 23 January, well before yesterday’s victory.

For all intents and purposes, this Saturday’s by-election may not be significant for the country’s political future …

However, last night’s rally is extremely significant. It’s not because LTK chose to regale us with his POV about the opposition’s political history since 1991

(note: history is often written by the victor). It’s his explicit rhetoric that his party of alternative political moderates will now go their own way. It wasn’t implied. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t a hint. He said “opposition unity is impossible”.

Before 2011, it may be reasonable to believe that politics in our neighbouring country was far advanced in terms of maturity than ours. The ruling party there was dealt a heavy blow and resulted in the resignation of their Prime Minister who presided over the elections. It was possible because the opposition there had a central figure, who could persuade other parties to form one united banner against the ruling party, i.e., a coalition. The rest, as we know, is history and there is talk about how the coming elections up there could possibly result in more gains for the opposition.

With LTK’s strongly worded statements during last night’s rally, all chances of an opposition coalition have evaporated. This means that the strategy that the opposition held since 1980s – to avoid three-cornered fights – has been abandoned*. While it signals his confidence in his own party which he has painfully shaped (to his credit), there will be serious implications for Singapore’s political future from this.

Firstly, WP will strongly brand itself as a moderate alternative to the PAP. With the tacit rejection of any form of co-operation with other opposition parties politically, it will go their own way but possibly not stray too far away from the path that the PAP treads in terms of policy. At the same time, with LTK’s rhetoric, he has burnt a fair bit of bridges with the other parties. Effectively, it will be far harder for WP to convince other parties to form any agreement with them if it needs a slim majority to form the Government in the (far) future.

At this point, it may be useful to be reminded of how, when PE SMC was open to a by-election, many believed that the old strategy of a two-cornered fight would still serve the best interests in sending another opposition candidate to Parly. Which means, other parties should stay away from contesting so that WP will have abetter chance of winning the BE. [Yet, ethically it may be tricky to suggest that WP should have the right to contest in the two-cornered fight as they weren’t the first to contest there.] But with LTK’s speech last night, it is an admission that the WP will not hesitate to contest in other wards even if other parties had “staked their claims” and worked the ground there.

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.

OMG! Low: a great strategist & sage

In Political governance on 24/01/2013 at 5:48 am

Given that netizens have turned against the WP and Low, I tot I should bring a little balance into the row, by letting JG say a few words.

I’m glad she didn’t compare Low and WP to Sun Tzu because then I’ll be reminded of what Edward Luttwak, a modern-day American strategist, recently wrote of the use of Sun Tzu teachings by the Chinese, “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.” Lest we forget, the Hsiung Nu, Tibetans, Jurchens, Khitans, Mongols, Manchus,and other nomads defeated Chinese generals steeped in Sun Tzu’s aphorisms.

She writes:

Re : Low’s weird comments

I take the opposite tack of you – instead of Low being a liability in this BE, I think he has acted splendidly. Put it another way : on a scale of 1 to 10, I rank Low 8, LHL 6 and CSJ 4 in terms of strategic manouevers and tactical execution.

First of all, we need to recognise that in the heat of a campaign, if you put every person’s words under a microscope, you’ll find meat that anyone can go after. Dr Koh had made many verbal blunders (“As professionals, we need 2 cars”, “my wife said you want to help but people don’t want your help”), KJ (“on MC today”), LTK and interestingly so far, none from Ah Lian. These are TACTICAL mis-steps – every candidate makes them. The Great Obama said something about “bitter people .. clinging on to their guns”, Michelle Obama (“for the first time, I’m proud of my country”).

These tactical blunders happen, but most are minor and recoverable. Particularly if you look at the context they are uttered. In LTK’s case, I think he meant “all the PM has to say” to mean, “is this the best complain you PM can find about WP so far?”. In any case, I think very very few Punggol residents microscopically analyse a candidate’s every word and go off-tangent with one single badly worded utterance.

The more important battle is strategic, not tactical per se. Here, you got to give LTK credit, where I think he is due. Even PAP MPs I speak to (off the record), applaud LTK as being politically very shrewd.

At the start of the BE, look at how LTK handle the SDP jumping in saga. He did it, basically like how Obama handled Romney or McCain – let them self-destruct. LTK stuck to the politically correct script – everyone has the right to stand for elections – who can argue with “the sun rises from the east” type comments, right? Meanwhile, CSJ was detonating landmines publicly, day by day (cannot contact WP, publicly disclose confidential letters, we only good at making speeches in Parliament but not confident in handling Town Council) and then withdrawal. Similarly, it lets the ego of Desmond and KJ grow and over-shadow whatever credence SDA or RP used to have. Suddenly no more rallies, “paid volunteers” saga (for Desmond). AWOL, daily complaints of threats and police reports (for KJ) — let their wayang hog the limelight, let them self-destruct, no need to say a word.

Behind the scene, LTK selected Ah Lian to take on smooth, professional Dr Koh. Arguably, a better choice, than say GG. Because Ah Lian is so down to earth, so real (right down to her missing 2 front teeth) that the contrast with Dr Koh became greater, especially when Dr Koh came across as stretching the truth ($10 left, only enough for chopsticks, switch from BMW to Toyota car when visit Punggol etc etc). This contrast seems to be hitting a cord. It was reported on-line that reporters tailing both candidates on house visits, observed that residents are warmer towards Ah Lian, posing for photos, sharing their stories, introduce their family, giving a drink. Word got to the PAP too.

LTK also straddled the “local issue” vs “national issue” beautifully. I’d say,to the extent of running circles around the PAP. What do I mean? For Aljunied, LTK bet 100% on national – PAP thot local issue usually matters more but was swept by the tide. So PAP tried to immunize itself right from the start with PUnggol BE – a wave of good news. But LTK attacked first on the local front – Riverdale, how come so many RCs but so little coffeeshops, transport, – ie. what has your PAP MP been doing all these years? So local concerns got paraded to the front, and Dr Koh tried playing the same game – I’m my own man. LTK used these local issues to get Ah Lian to connect to each resident on the ground-game front.

Then in the closing stages of the campaign, LTK swings back to national issues in the public campaign. The more good news got trumpeted, the more it appears that if Aljunied had not fallen, PAP would not have reversed course. If Punggol BE had not happen, some of these good news would not get announced. So it plays into the need for opposition, theme. And LTK only drums up AIM in the last few days of the campaign. Why? I do not think many PUnggol residents know what is AIM, or even really care. But the hard core opposition supporters do care. So this is “red meat” for the base. In other words, focus first on the middle block, handle the risk that the base will defect to Desmond/KJ by giving them some red meat right at the end (and after giving time for Desmond/KL to implode). The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Hopefully, this then consolidates both the middle and base votes.

The other advantage of trumpeting national issues at the late stage of the game, is that it baits the “big guns” of PAP to respond. And they usually respond clumsily and turn off voters by the way they over-react.

Whether or not this is enough to win Punggol, I do not know. But I have heard that PAP is sweating. It was said that PAP carefully carved out Punggol SMC in 2011 and that in the prior elections (2006?), that Punggol SMC had 30+% vote swing to PAP. Unexpectedly, this got cut to 10% swing in GE2011. PAP had counted on multi-corner fights, particularly from newly released CSJ and SDP to spoil the party. That didn’t happen. LHL called the elections thinking there’s a good chance they’ll win. As the campaign progressed, and they too feel the “smell of Hougang”, they’re now not so sure.

But as I said, as long as WP increases meaningfully from 41%, and PAP decreases meaningfully from 55% – WP does not need to win, for PAP to lose. A 5% swing away from the PAP (ie. 49% or 50% only) will be a dreaded signal that the electorate is still unhappy with PAP and this will keep them on their toes. A WP win is a jackpot.

And oh, the other thing I like about this BE — it has also put WP under the fire too, to defend its record and hopefully, correct course where necessary. You didn’t hear WP being so defensive in Hougang BE. In other words, this time they got the message – there are some out there who’re unhappy at their low-key approach. Hopefully, this makes them a better party moving forward too. So Desmond is right and wrong – someone needs to keep a check on both PAP and WP. Unfortunately, its not Desmond — its we, the people. Through the messiness of the internet, online chatter, rallies etc. Both PAP and WP are hearing us. That’s good isn’t it ?

* If I were her employer, I’d sure be angry that she skivving.

WP supporter’s analysis of the Punggol East by-election

In Humour, Political governance on 22/01/2013 at 6:05 pm

JG responded to http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/punggol-east-voters-are-not-daft/ with some good, rational points. For the sake of JG and other decent, sincere and rational WP supporters like her (there are people on Facebook who doubt that such supporters exist: WP supporters are like PAP supporters), I hope Low stops trying to join the PAP Comedy Club. Either that or he should replace his speech writer who must be a PAPpy mole. After JG’s comments, I repeat Low’s “jokes’ and add my comments on said “jokes”.

WP Forever

I’m not sure that the “practical difference of having a DPM” is being felt in Punggol BE or is even on the radar of residents. Sometimes, I also feel that we (the so-called “vocal minority”, of which I’m admittedly one) tend to over-analyze things.

My own take is that residents are probably still disgruntled with PAP, whether more disgruntled or less compared to the mood of GE2011, I’m not sure. That’s on the national factor front.

Also, GE2011 had the factor of “Aunty-killer” and incumbency advantage for Palmer. And on WP side, all the oxygen was being sucked out to Aljunied contest, all other candidates fielded were perceived to be “B” or “C” team. Now its a solo contest. And SDA was perceived “neutrally” then (now, its no longer neutrally perceived, I’ll be surprised to see it get half of what it even did last time). And it seems to have a drumbeat of “bad local factors” – like Riverdale, etc.

Put it all together, I think there will be a reduction in PAP support. GE2011 was 10 point PAP advantage vs opposition. I expect this to drop. I hope the swing is >5%. If its 10% swing, then its a jackpot. But no need to have jackpot to celebrate.

For me, as long as WP increases it support (regardless Ah Lian win or not) and PAP meaningfully decreases — its a big win. Its a win for WP becos it will show that WP’s “style”, while being lampooned by some online, still resonates with the heartland. Most importantly, it sends the signal to PAP – the change you’re making is still not good enough.

An outright win by WP will be a major disaster for PAP. The grassroots will be totally demoralized. This is the “jackpot” scenario.

On the other hand, if the results mirror GE2011 (ie. ~10% advantage PAP), then PAP will have a major win. Not that WP has a lost, unless their support drop <41%. But PAP will be able to say that all these nonsense about AIM-gate etc are just a “vocal minority”. They will feel vindicated. And continue to do what they like, starting with revealing (surprise, surprise) the plans for population growth over the next decade. [These are the reasons to hope and pray for a PAP Lite win. Keeps the Real PAP "kan cheong". Sadly, s/o JBJ and Desperate Loser don't see things this way: selfish.]

Low’s weird comments

His “Why 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.”

Right so vote PAP to give them more time.

And this comes across as telling PM that he (Low) has met his KPI (presumably decided behind “closed doors”), “I am pleased that all the Prime Minister has to say about the WP is to lament that we have not done enough in Parliament.”.

Waz the reward? Thirty pieces of silver or a doggie biscuit? LOL

Maybe, Low should return to being,”The deaf mute from Hougang”? He is coming across as , “The WP’s parody of s/o JBJ, the talk cock, sing song wayang king and drama queen from Saint Andrews”.

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.

When Mad Dog meets Tua Kees

In Humour, Political governance on 13/01/2013 at 8:49 am

Or “Chee, Sylvia & Low should resume taking their medicine”

While I don’t agree with everything this TRE piece said about Dr Chee, I must say I agree with, “We wait for Dr Chee’s next move. All this is more entertaining than reality TV, if it were not so tragic.”

I’m wondering if he has stopped taking his “anti-wacko” pills (What say you Drs Ang and Paul?). His behaviour increasingly resembles that of Ravi when he stopped taking his medicine. And I’m someone who thinks SDP should contest Punggol East if Sylvia, Low and the other WP leaders continue their tua kee ways.

For the future development democracy in S’pore, there is a need to prove or disprove the thesis that the SDP is carrying the WP. A three-way or more fight will prove or disprove this thesis in a PAP bastion. The PAP  won by 11 percentage points over the combined WP and SDA share of the voters. Taz a solid majority that is impossible to overturn even in a straight fight. So why not turn it into a test of strength between the Wackos and the PAP clones?

Who can mobilise the hard core anti-PAP votes?

“Happy” responded an anti SDP rant to this republishing on TRE saying, among many other things, “The SDP should garner around 20% of the votes. They too know this. However this is what they would like the WP to know should they not want to compromise. There is actually more for the SDP to gain than the WP should the results turn out as such. 8) The WP will be made to realize the reality that their 40% margins were due to one party fights in most areas. The SDA is not a credible party in the eyes of the people.”

Based on the 2011 presidential election, Happy would seem to have underestimated the hard core anti-PAP vote which ranges from 25-30% (25% that voted for Tan Jee say and 5% for Tan Kin Lian). The “Always PAP” is 35% (they voted for Tony Tan), while the remaining 35% that voted for Dr Tan Cheng Bock are the discerners, “pick and choose”, moderates, “swingers” or people who don’t do religion. It is many in this 35% that the WP are able to persuade to vote for WP.

But these votes are insufficient without the block vote of the hard core ant-PAP voters. The “chop” system ensured that the WP gets this block vote in the areas it contests, even if these voters do not like the WP. They vote WP because they hate the PAP more.

As the PAP is unlikely to lose Punggol East in a straight fight with any opposition party (what with a margin of 11 percentage points over the combined SDA and WP vote), the contest is a good way of showing the WP that it needs the SDP more than the SDP needs the WP. The WP Aljunied MPs want to keep their $15,000 allowances and the life-styles it allows them to lead.  They can do this in the next GE only if they play ball with SDP, according to Happy’s thesis.

And he could be right. In the 2011 presidential election, I’ve been reliably informed, that Tony Tan won 40ish % of votes in the Aljunied area, and TJS came in a close second. Dr Tan was nowhere near. This shows the power of the anti-PAP vote in Aljunied GRC. It also shows the depth of feeling against the PAP: even Dr Tan is haram. What more near-clones like the WP?

Tua Kee WP

So Low, Sylvia and other WP leaders: don’t be tua kee. Be the humble WP pre the Aljunied win. What I find strange about the WP’s arrogance  is that juz after the 2011 GE, when talking to a WP leader (not Low or Sylvia), he was fretting over the loss of the anti-PAP vote, if the SDP decided to play rough. He said the WP needed these votes, while it tried to attract the moderates. Have the WP leaders forgotten to take their “humility” pills, since then?

The WP shouldn’t take the risk that the SDP is right about the votes it can mobilise. If the SDP is wrong, the consequences for the SDP is less devastating than the consequences for the WP if the SDP is right. Whither PritamS’s dreams of being a cabinet minister in a coalition with the PAP?

Cut a deal

The WP should talk to the SDP, offering not to compete in Tanjong Pagar GRC, in return for SDP not contesting Punggol East. Remember

– “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

– “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”. Remember the humblessness displayed by Low, not the arrogance of JBJ and son.

And Dr Chee should start retaking his “I’m a rational man” pills, and double the dosage. Or least pretend to. He may be a coyote, doing crazy things for rational game theory reasons, but public perceptions matter. And to the public, brought up on US cartoons, not the fundamentals of game theory, the coyote is mad. This doesn’t matter to the hard core PAP haters, but it matters to the moderates. I’m one of the moderates but I’m from RI, and I know the basics of game theory. Besides, I got an affection for wackos with balls.

Otherwise SDP and WP, “A plague a’ both your houses!”. No wonder the PAP rules OK.

Related post:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/punggol-east-be-gracious-generous-wp/

——

*RI boys got 65% of the votes in the 2011 PE. It also shows that RI can produce a clown, brawler and gentleman operative, all with brains and balls. Eat yr heart out Saints, and other RI haters and self-haters. RI rules OK. And remember Mad Dog Chee, and Tua Kee Auntie and Low never went to RI. LOL, is all one can do with the antics of these politcans.

AIM: Taz what netizens & WP should do

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

– Don’t any how fire & volvo

The PAP,made flesh in Dr Teo Ho Pin, and the constructive, nation-building media are “throwing smoke”, trying to confuse S’poreans on the issues around AIM.

The sad thing is all the noise about AIM being a $2 co, or not having the expertise etc that is coming from many of us  “cowboys”, is distracting S’poreans from the four issues that matter:

– As Aljunied GRC seems to be one of the GRCs that paid for the development costs of the software that was transferred to AIM, how come AIM can cancel contract if a GRC moves on to the Jedi (OK, OK, I exaggerate) from the Dark Side of the Men in White? Sure it’s in contract, but is this ethically or morally correct? Didn’t LKY say we are a Confucian society? Ethically behaviour is expected.

– Is the WP being fixed by being deprived of AIM’s services? And what are the implications if there is a change of govt? Will the civil service, armed forces, police and government agencies cancel contracts with the new govt? From what happened with AIM’s contract, sounds reasonable to assume this.

– What is the service level agreement (SLA) in the leasing? This includes questions such as what levels of help desk and technical support, how many staff will be providing support, or is AIM outsourcing the support to another company?

[Update: Straits Times reported today that service was 'outsourced' from AIM back to NCS, and the TCs must know this intention when awarding the contract. So the questions are why would they allow that having terminated NCS's services themselves, and what value does AIM add as the middleman. They have to come clean or face accusations of some sort of 'round-tripping'.]

– Can a contract between PAP town councils and a company 100%-owned by former PAP MPs be considered arm’s length? Should it be allowed at all to avoid even the slightest appearance of any potential conflict of interest?

The points in Italics are from Void Decker who has a great piece on this matter: he is on target.

The WP never made allegations about whether AIM was a $2 co or its competency. It tried to focus (in its unfocused, dysfunctional way*), I think, on the first  two issues that shld concern us.

Sadly netizens are not focusing on the substantive issues. Partly it’s because of the hols and because CNY is coming in February.

But the WP is at fault too: its public communications team is a clone of that of Team PAP. Maybe Team Wayang Wankers should ask help from the real Opposition: Team SDP; Ravi the do-gooder (even if he from NSP); TOC (even if it’s undergoing editor change again*); or TRE. Or even TJS.

These are people who know how to communicate effectively with the public. BTW, only KennethJ*** is worse at communicating with the public than Team PAP and the Wayang Wankers.

“Target 50m ahead. At own time and pace, open fire. Make every shot count. Beng Pek mah?

——————-

*Show Mao is not pulling his weight, not being allowed to, or maybe he not that savvy? Will explore this later in yr, in “The AWOL, MIA of Show Mao”. Maybe Low and Sylvia were playing bait and switch, like investment bankers, and time-sharing salesmen?

As to the other two lawyers in Team Wankers Wayang, Sylvia got only so-so NUS law degree while PritamS got his from a crappy place, SMU Law School.

**New chief editor soon. It will by then have run through two Indian chiefs (they are actually Tamils, not Native Americans, or Aryans) in less than 11 months. Then there is the disappearance from TOC’s establishment, in 2011, of two ex-WP cadres and activists, Goh Meng Seng**** (Head of the Chinese Section) and Eric Tan (Managing Editor and then investigative editor). AWOL, MIA, or posts abolished: who knows?

But one of the co-founders is still active in editorially. So there is continuity.

****But then he speak in ang moh accent, don’t know the Pledge and was from Saint Andrews: the school where boys have two rugby props on each of their of shoulders. But despite having cips on his shoulders, a Saints rugby captain says on Facebook that KennethJ is not a Saints. More on this later in the year.

****Also ex-NSP member. Anything else he was member of?

WP changes mind on nationalising SMRT & SBS

In Political governance on 14/12/2012 at 6:08 am

This blog at regular intervals reminds readers that the Wankers’ Workers’ Party had been silent on public transport nationalisation, despite it being in the Wayangs’ party’s 2011 manifesto and despite Gerald Giam advocating it in ST in July 2011 (here, here); and despite the seeming failure of the govt’s public tpt policy (I mean does the pumping in of S$1.1bn show that the “for-profit” policy working?)

Finally WP and GG have broken their silence: “If PTOs are unable to do so because of their obligations to shareholders, public transport should be taken out of private hands and run by a not-for-profit corporation which focuses on providing efficient and quality public transport, instead of generating shareholder returns.”

Err this was what is written in Manifesto: “Instead of public transport being provided by profit-oriented companies, all public transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major routes should be brought under a National Transport Corporation, a public body, to ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport network and to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and overheads incurred by multiple operators.”

Spot the difference? The Manifesto call was unconditional. Now the operative word is “IF”.

Second time WP changing its mind on a Manifesto call. The first was on the benchmarking of ministers’ salaries. Like this change, one GG was behind that one too. Maybe Eric Tan (remember him?*) was right to rubbisg GG.

If the Manifesto is juz toilet paper, pls tell us WP. And tell us which first-world opposition party treats its manifesto with such contempt?

Related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/why-wp-mps-are-not-first-world-parlimentarians/

*GG called him his Si-Fu. Si-Fu lost NCMP seat to GG. Si-Fu had been promised NCMP seat before GE 2011, if East Coast team was entitled to one.

Why WP MPs are not First World parlimentarians

In Political governance on 23/11/2012 at 6:45 am

Last week, two WP MPs, Sylvia Lim and PritamS made impassionate pleas against the amendments the govt was proposing to the law on the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking. They said the amendments were wrong morally wrong and not logical and did not do justice. So I was surprised when I read that they voted for the bill. Stupid me because this isn’t the first time that the WP has “wayanged”.: grandstanding against the govt but then quietly supporting the govt, when the spot lights have moved on.

DPM Teo told us in the Hougang by-election campaign that the WP had voted in favour of the Budget earlier this year. I had assumed because of the criticism that the MPs had been making, that they had voted against it or abstained.

(And I will be not surprised if I learn that GG had voted in favour of the ministerial salary changes, despite criticising the changes).

They have promised to be First World Parliamentarians. But they don’t even behave like honourable men and ladies. And in the UK and US, when the Opposition voices unhappiness with govt bills, its legislators vote against the bills, not for them. At worse, they abstain.

The WP Mps are like PAP MPs who speak out against policies and then vote for the measures they juz spoke against. They do so because party discipline (the whip) requires that of them. Netizens and others sneer at this behaviour but are accepting of the WP MPs’ behaviour.

Given this hypocrisy by WP MPs, no wonder the party forgave Stag Yaw when he admitted after the 2006 election that despite standing against PM in AMK GRC, he voted for the PAP. He was later anointed by Low to be his proxy in Hougang. It’s in the WP’s genes to talk bad about the govt, but then support it. Remember Show Mao’s analogy of the WP wanting to like an adviser to the emperor? Well to stretch the analogy, the official would publicly criticise the emperor for an action, and then privately assure the emperor that the emperor was right.

A member of the Communist-dominated parliament in Vietnam has in a rare show of dissent told PM Nguyen Tan Dung that he should resign for his mistakes in handling the economy, it was reported last week. Bet you a WP MP will never ever ask the PM to do this. Remember Low refused when challenged by the PM to say that Wong Kan Seng should resign when a Muslim “terrorist” escaped.

But what do you expect when a party ignores its Manifesto twice:

– on the nationalisation of public transport: and

– on what to peg ministers’ salaries to.

The “W” in WP stands for “Wankers”, “Worthless” or “Wayang”: anything but “Workers'”

Sorry JJ, if there is no change in this behaviour, next time I won’t vote WP, even though I voted WP all my life, and even though I think you are doing a good job in parliament, questioning the govt’s education policies. And if Charles Chong, is still my MP, I’ll make sure I’m not in S’pore on election day. (Charles Chong is worse than VivianB when it comes to sneering at the needy, even though he ain’t as rich and high-class as VivianB.) Join the SDP, JJ.

I gave the WP MPs in the last parliament a lot of slack because Low’s strength is not being a parliamentary speaker or debater. He is a backroom fixer and organiser. And Auntie was new. And there were only two of them. Hey but now there are 6 MPs and two NCMPs. And the PM is moving in the right direction, even if the PAP has yet to shed its old ways. But the WP MPs are juz taking the money, and looking after their own interests so that they get re-elected.

Why history is not on the side of the PAP and WP

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 09/11/2012 at 9:18 am

But on the side of the SDP and NSP (maybe, if it keeps on its present busy beaver path).

There is every reason to believe that these developments [states approving initiatives on gay-marriage and marijuana] reflect national trends in public opinion. And these national trends are driven in turn by the same general processes of social change behind the gradual liberalisation of values in Europe and around the globe. Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, was first to document this process in detail. Mr Inglehart’s well-confirmed thesis is that, roughly, as societies become increasingly secure in material terms, each new generation is predictably less “materialistic”—less focused on merely economic concerns—and more concerned with equality, autonomy, and the injustice of arbitrary authority. If we take the long view, we can see the success of this cycle’s gay-marriage and marijuana initiatives due to the inexorability of death, which in time disposes of antiquated mores, and to the relentless liberalisation of cultural attitudes in well-functioning market democracies. Thus are the young ever the vanguard of progressive social change. And the young stayed away from Mr Romney in droves

Extract from an Economist blog. No link as the rest is very, very US centric

Super wimps, elitism, double standards & other mean tots

In Political governance on 22/10/2012 at 6:06 am

I never had much respect for George Yeo, believing he wasn’t one of those people who one could trust in a crisis. This proves my point : suddenly turned critic of PAP when he sensed he was going to lose, “In war deserters are executed.” And a recent ST article double confirms me right: blames the political climate for his loss, not himself. Aljunied was targeted because  were runours since the late 90s that George Yeo wasn’t taking his MP duties too seriously. Only a WP goof-up (Gabra Gomez)  prevented WP from challenging him there in 2001. 

Worse, for the PAP, the ST piece confirmed what sceptics had always said abt the “younger” ministers: only committed when the going is gd.

ArchieB should juz release his letter. DPM Teo’s comments, last week, did ArchieB no favours. Anyone ever tot ArchieB shld not have sent the letter? He shld make the letter public so that S’poreans can decide if the govt was right or wrong to counsel him on the letter. Anyway, those who got him to sign the original must be happy: makes the government look bad.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong says Singapore has to stay exceptional by remaining cohesive as a nation, with first-rate leaders to navigate the choppy seas of the changing world order.” So why didn’t he sack DPM Wong, Minister Mah, VivianB, Raymond Lim, George Yeo, Lim Hng Kiang and Balaji when they underperformed? So easy to talk now. PM Lee got rid of the first three, and GY lost his seat.

James Buchan, an author, has noted, that “economists, like royal children, are not punished for their errors”. Well by ESM Goh’s record, ministers too are like “royal children”.  

And yes, Lawrence Wong, there is nothing wrong with meritocracy: the problem is that those who mess up often don’t pay for the consequences of their failures. In a meritocracy, failures get shown up, to encourage the others.

And it’s over a week since it was announced that two “terrorists” who juz happened to be Malay Muslims were detained without trial under the ISA. But Function 8, and other bleeding heart chattering human rights chatters and bloggers are deafening in their silence. If the govt wants to detain anyone under ISA, use the terrorism label. No-one will say anything. And to be on the safe side, add the “Islamist” label. That will do the trick. And to be super KS, add “drug dealer”.

But I’m being unfair. There is one very good reasons for the silence. No bleeding heart kay poh wants to be associated with a suspected drug dealer or Islamic terrorist, forgetting that the same arguments that apply to their educated, middle class, English-speaking friends who get ISAed, apply to “drug dealers” and “Islamic terrorists”.

And no, the Kay pohs are not Amy Cheongs.

There are two other good reasons for the silence on the “Islamic terrorists”. If the Malay Muslim community keeps quiet, it doesn’t make sense for the kay pohs (can’t think of any Malay Muslims among them) to get involved. I mean the community may very well agree with the detentions. After all, elements of the community were very vocal last year over perceived insults to Islam, filing police reports, and flaming.

The activists in the Muslim community also tend to keep to themselves. I have heard of occasions when Muslim activists quietly admit that they did not come out in solidarity with other activists because while grateful for the help that they (the Muslim activists) get on issues like homelessness, joblessness, HDB and utility arrears and single mothers, they don’t extend help or even recognition to the non-Muslim activists because the latter support haram causes like gay rights and sex education. Wonder if these activists are willing to share a meal with these infidels?

So why should the kay pohs still their necks out?

Funny thing is that in M’sia, Muslim activists (think PAS) have no compunctions working with the people in the DAP and non-sectarian NGOs. And even UMNO doesn’t dare attack the Islamic credentials of PAS. So it isn’t a racial or religious matter.

Finally, MP and committee member WP PritamS said: “Don’t mistake timidity for inaction. With more experience, we hope to get better.” Err wondering what he means by “get better”? “Get better” in keeping quiet?

For the record, WP has

– stopped talking about nationalising public transport despite it being a Manifesto promise and the govt throwing money at the system while enabling SBS and SMRT to have private shareholders;

– made it clear that it wants to be the PAP’s trusted adviser (Show Mao didn’t tell us that a trusted, loyal adviser can have his balls cut-off if the hegemon is upset* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19835484) ; and

– told us it is willing to help out PAP in a coalition govt. Err why WP changed its mind on ministerial salaries, another departure from its Manifesto?

Heard that in WP HQ toilets, copies of Manifesto used as toilet paper. And members use it as cat litter. Can’t be true, can it?

—————-

*Guess this is the reason why the WP MPs are so quiet. Easier to juz take the money.

“Is WP living up to expectations?” “Yes” says JG

In Political governance on 24/09/2012 at 5:04 am

Below is a longish piece from a reader, JG, defending the WP’s actions (or is it inactions?): it worked in the past and will work in the future. Pls read it. It has some gd points.

My contention is that what worked in the past, may not work in the future. From 1991 till 2006, Low was alone most of the time (and JBJ wasn’t much of a help in parly or out of it). From 2006 to 2011, he had Tonto, aka Sylvia Lim. But now there is a team of five MPs and two NCMPs.

Expectations are different. The WP has to manage expectations, or live up to them. Or do both. It cannot continue doing things the old way. It must also communicate more. Pre-new media, it could get away with silence because the constructive, nation-building media dominated the info flow. And S’poreans knew it.

But now things are different. Yet while SDP is using the new media to put across its messages (free from MSM distortion), the WP is not using new media much. The initial stone-walling over Stag Yaw showed the WP up. Effective communications should have it saying, “We need some time to investigate the allegations”: not “Allegations? What allegations?”. 

I had promised to do a list of things WP did not do. I now won’t because between above, and below,  the criticisms of WP have been covered. I hope, in the future, JG will give me her take on the following “Not First World” WP parly practice:

– WP voting for PAP’s budget after criticising it.

– Keeping quiet on public tpt nationalisation despite it being a manifesto promise and despite the failure of the rojak system that the govt defends. It is so succesful that the government has to subsidise the bus system to a tune of $1.1bn.

– Tweaking its position on ministerial salaries contrary to manifesto.

———

“Is WP living up to expectations?”

If you read Temasek Times, its 100% no (“wayang party”). And everything is derived from 1 single sentence that Pritam once uttered : If PAP loses majority one day, we WP will work with them to form a coalition govt. One single sentence from one MP – and the entire party is disqualified. Can anyone find one single sentence from one MP from PAP which you strongly disagree with (eg: “repent”? “grow more spurs”?) for which you will also disqualify the entire party of 81 MPs? So Temasek Times is an extreme case. They, and probably some netizens too, prefer the “fire brand” type opposition that CSJ or SDP seems to offer. So if you’re not the fire-brand type, you’re not “effective”.

[Actually JG, it's more than one sentence. Remember Show Mao's Tang Dynasty allusion? Came across to some of us that he saw WP as at best as assistant to the PAP government: juz as official accepted his status vis-a-vis the emperor in the imperial system. And Low had often come across as accepting the hegemony of the PAP. But that could simply be his acceptance of the reality on the ground between 1991 and 2011. He is no idealist and rabble-rouser like the late Saint JBJ.]

But what you’re pointing out is a more moderate opinion that I’m also hearing from other sources – the WP are just not speaking up on issues of importance.

I’m not here to defend them. But everyone will have different expectations of WP. Some supporters of Obama are disappointed that he hasn’t rescued the world in 4 years, some are not so disappointed. In general, the higher one’s expectations, arguably the bigger the disappointment.

My personal expectation wasn’t high in the first place.

Before 2011 GE, when LTK was MP and Slyvia Lim was NCMP, you can already see the “style” in which they are comfortable in. At critical junctures, they will speak up. I still remember vividly how LTK berated WKS over the Mas Selamat screwup, and Slyvia berated the Ministers of having no shame for their pay. But they do not speak up on every issue. And many of their speeches are not memorable, they are basically not orators. They are more “ground people”. Personal touch, work the ground, take care of bread and butter issue and preferably in a low key fashion. In fact, if you ask LTK, I guess that he will say to him, the relative importance of ground work vs rhetoric is maybe 80 : 20. I sometimes think netizens weigh it the other way around.

So post-2011 GE, this was the tone adopted by WP team. So one part of “have they lived up to expectations” must surely be weighed in terms of whether they’ve met the expectations of people on the ground in Aljunied. Their bread and butter issues, their constituency issues. Running a Town Council is not rocket science and I think that in general, if you’ve got an experienced team (from Hougang) and you don’t screw up, you should be OK.

That said, I also think that many netizens do not bother to find out, or read up on, issues raised by the WP in Parliament. Not having made a combative speech, doesn’t mean not having raised an issue. When good points are made, they are also not necessarily covered in the ST, perhaps deliberately so.

But again, at critical junctures, they do speak up. The recent memorable ones are Sylvia raising the Woffles Wu issue, Gerald calling out the PAP for labelling Singaporeans dissatisfaction with the Govt’s immigration policy as “xenophobia” (and provoking a stupid response from Sim Ann) and Yeoh JJ speaking out on unfair subsidies by the Govt to PAP Kindergarten and NTUC in the private pre-school market.

Are they the best debaters? No. Could Sylvia have handled the cut-and-thrust of the debate with Shanmugam better? Yes and she didn’t. So maybe she scored say 6 out of 10? But that’s Sylvia. No different from the Sylvia of NCMP days. Its easy for netizens to, on hindsight and out of the line of fire, come up with more robust responses. But just take a look at the recent PM Lee tea-party with bloggers – when PM asked whether anonymity is supportable, look at the weak responses the bloggers give. Even seasoned bloggers like Andrew Loh literally “peed on their pants” when confronted with unexpected questions at the spur of the moment. I’m sure if you ask Sylvia to respond the next day, she will probably come up with a better answer. Just like all bloggers did, when they commented on the anonymity issue the next day.

My point then is this – It takes time to build up a credible opposition team. Its one thing to have only 1 or 2 opposition members, its another to have 8 or so members and quite another to have or to want to have 20 or 30 members. With WP, you know (or should have known) from the start that they’re not a fire-and-brimstone type party and see it as much more important that you do not screw up publicly and you work the ground. We do need to give them time and of course, constructive criticism is needed too.

But have they met my initially low expectations – yes. I want more of them in, so that when it comes to critical decisions in the future, it will not be a guaranteed “law is passed” vote in Parliament.

 Below is a longer comment by the same said JG defending the WP’s actions (or is it inactions?). My point to JG is that what worked in the past, may not work. From 1991 till 2006, Low was alone most of the time (and JBJ wasn’t much of a help). From 2006 to 2011, he had Tonto, aka Sylvia Lim. But now there is a team of five MPs and two NCMPs. Expectations are different. The WP has to manage expectations, or live up to them. Or do both. It cannot continue doing things the old way.

Can Eugene Tan be trusted to hold the PAP accountable?

In Political governance on 03/06/2012 at 6:02 am

During the Hougang by-election campaign, Denise Phua, the PAP MP S’poreans love and respect (OK at least Siow Kum Hong respects her) said there wasn’t a need to elect more WP MPs because there were NMPs like Eugene Tan and Siow to hold the government accountable etc.

Below I post the views of a TRE reader who read my tots abt Eugene Tan. I don’t know if his comments are the equivalent of an ST report, I don’t listen to the radio. But if they are accurate, then S’poreans who respect Denise Phua shld rethink their admiration of her. But shld she be respected in the first place? She joined a party whose views she openly disagreed with. Bit like a Jedi knight joining the Emperor because the knight openly said he wanted to fight to free the people from the Emperor: bit unbelievable. Also says a lot abt the party’s need for foot soldiers that she was accepted.

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RDB:

May 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm RDB(Quote)

GUTTER SHAME TO YOU Eugene Tan FOR STOOP like a “high-class” woman of low values for for the takes and nothing more!

This asst. prof. of Sg management university has totally changed after becoming a NMP and thus a LKYism PPpyism stooge as well. On the evening of HG voting day he and PN Balji the ex-TODAY editor in chief, ET was doing his complete wayang in typical PROFESSorry speak, bad mouthing all of WP, LTK & PEH to 938 Live Compere Bharati Jagdish before the results were in. Even when CNA gave unconfirmed ED results of PEH getting 14,000 & DC only 9,000, it didn’t make him abate in his glaring HYPOCRITCAL attacks so clear of a LKYism stooge. He delivered his best to sound within that HYPOCRITE system of massive high renumeration. Incomes made to get obedient materialistic professional VOID OF Ethical, Morals in fair somments with justice in mind. ET sound more of an SG alien-at-large prepared to sell his soul to the devil.

After the offical results were out showing clear cut win for PEH, he continued his POOing onslaught never letting up even when PN Balji now a media consultant said nicely that WP’s win meant more than just a HG win. He added that it has great implications for PAP in govt. Eugene went into I saw as oberdrive to salvage for LKYism as a most evil deft stooge to do it’s bidding. “sHE STOOPS to conquer” impresses no decent minded people but the villians who make meat of the ordinary folks! Eugene Tan IS NOW GUTTER like TCH!

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So desperate to slime WP that say this?

In Political governance on 29/05/2012 at 6:50 am

In another of his meaningless analysis pieces, NMP Eugene Tan, wrote in Today abt the PAP and WP “will need to raise their game”. As usual I was skimming thru it on the off-chance that it would contain shumething I didn’t know, something interesting, or a valuable insight. Yup, pigs would usually fly first.

Well today there was this, “The WP would also have to demonstrate that it does not seek special treatment and condone in what I call banal acts of lawlessness.”

Waz this I tot? Turned out to be,  “[T]he WP did not end its by-election rallies on time and overran by 10-15 minutes … extremely challenging for the police to intervene to ensure that the rules governing the issue of the rally permits are observed.”

So very petty. Being more PAP than the PAP. If the police and PAP didn’t kick up a fuss, why should anyone else?

And then this, “Further, in launching a stinging attack on the mainstream media for being a “political tool” of the PAP’s election campaign, the WP did not adequately substantiate its case.

‘Not only was this an attempt to capitalise on the by-election victory to make political points, the WP was also effectively asking the media for nothing but favourable coverage of its party and its candidates.”

Pls leh, WP doesn’t need to substantiate because it is so self-evident that SPH’s and MediaCorp’s coverage was so slanted. My observations on ST’s photojournalism. Another annoyed blogger who juz happens to be a grass-root activist in a PAP ward. I take his presence there as showing the PAP can change, or at least one MP is open-minded.

And this is the NMP who took on two PAP MP lawyers on the issue of prime ministerial discretion to call a by-election. As I wrote then, he was so out of character then.

Trying to move on to ST? After all, today’s ST editorial is pretty decent abt the WP. I could have said most of those things myself. ST’s standards dropping?

Hougang: Only up to a point Lucky

In Political governance on 28/05/2012 at 5:27 am

(Or “WP must walk the walk on manifesto, not juz talk the talk”)

Ah so the WP got 62.1% of the popular vote in Hougang, a 3%age point drop from what the WP’s rutting stag achieved: statistically insignificant.  As Yawning Bread put it, “Png’s vote-share was only a shade lower than the 64.8% that Yaw Shin Leong won in the general election of 2011 and hardly different from Low Thia Khiang’s 62.7% in the 2006 general election.”

So let’s move on, shall we?

I agree with Lucky Tan when he wrote, “Vote for PAP men like Desmond Choo and he will fix the little pothole in your estate but you will find yourself unable to retire and financially strained when you get sick.”

And while Png and, Low and the WP are capable of looking after Hougang as well, if not better, than the PAP, I’m not so sure if the WP will be any better when it comes to helping S’poreans retire or coping with the costs of health care, if WP comes into power by itself, or in coalition.

While I disagree with DPM Teo’s comments on Png not being gd enough to be selected as NCMP so why shld voters “gift” him a seat as MP; on Png’s  character; and that the WP took the people of Hougang for granted (WP has “Always been there”even  before Desmond put on long pants), he has some gd points abt WP’s policy flip-flops: his rant below.

In addition to the flip-flops on the benchmarking of ministerial salaries, FTs, and agreeing to the Budget (I didn’t realise all the WP MPs voted for it despite bitching abt it both before and after), the WP has quietly ditched its manifesto call to privatise public transport. In effect, it now agrees with the governing PAP that the current rojak system is the “betterest”. This flip-flop when S’poreans know that the current model ain’t working, and want something better; when the government while talking the talk on the efficency of public tpt being in the private sector*, is pumping $1.1bn and more into the system; and when the WP had tot up of an alternative, long before anyone tot there was a need.   

What else will the WP quietly ditch, and which will not be in the interest of the governing PAP to alert tell us to? Neither party wants to talk abt public tpt nationalisation. The governing PAP wants to avoid it because it would show that it had one dud of a multi-millionaire minister (Raymond Lim) and because it would show that the PAP can do dumb policies. As to why the WP doesn’t want to talk abt it, yr guess is as gd as mine? Maybe it was the price that the WP had to pay to ensure that PM called a by-election in Hougang?

 Or is it a concrete example of what Low said,”Workers’ Party will move on from this election and work together with the ruling party for the betterment of Singapore.”

Be afraid, very afraid of a WP sell-out, when it sniffs power.

So the WP should start showing us that that manifesto calls are to be adhered to or openly dropped, not quietly ditched, and that it will be more open and transparent when it comes to communicating with the public on its internal affairs. Otherwise the 2016 GE will be like the 1996 GE, when voters threw out two SDP “bums”, showing that 19991 was a false dawn. I don’t want another false dawn; I’m in my late 50s.

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Excerpt from Today’s report on DPM’s rant:

Citing the issues of ministerial salaries and foreign workers, Mr Teo, who is also the PAP first assistant secretary-general, questioned the WP’s flip-flop on national issues.

He said: “The WP had previously argued for less foreign workers, but in the recent Budget debate in Parliament, it suddenly changed its mind. The WP now says we should not reduce foreign workers in several major sectors, major industries.”

Mr Teo also noted that the WP had spoken “loudly and fiercely” on ministerial salaries at the election rallies just last year. “But in Parliament this year, they quietly abandoned their position. They gave up their previous drastic proposals, they didn’t explain why,” he said.

Referring to WP chief Low Thia Khiang and party chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Teo added: “Their top two leaders remained totally silent throughout the Parliament debate.”

Members of Parliament (MPs) from the WP had also unanimously voted for this year’s Budget and “agreed with the (Government’s) measures and programmes” for the year, said Mr Teo. “But now on the rally stage, they’re posturing, making criticisms.”

“Are they changing the tune again, doing the twists, playing their guitars, and singing songs which will give them the most appeal to the audience? But are they speaking honestly – honestly for the good of Singaporeans?”

*Despite Temasek owning 54% of SMRT, and a stat board being the single largest shareholder (12%) in ComfortDelgro.

Hougang: Random Tots & Facts

In Humour, Political governance on 24/05/2012 at 6:16 am

Wonder why Bill Ng, chairman of Hougang FC, the “Cheetahs” aka the “Hougang Hooligans” (youth team fought with SAF youth recently reinforcing club’s rowdy branding) is not endorsing either candidate? Endorse PAP and get money but lose supporters, endorse WP and Hougang Stadium will be off-limits. BTW, A S’pore family trust is part of the consortium that won the bid for Glasgow Rangers. Bill Ng’s family trust? He is part of the Ong family of stockbrokers (maternal side unfortunately for him).

Wonder if voters will remember that from 1991 to polling day in 2006 GE, the PAP were not “Always there for you”. In fact, it was trying to turn Hougang into a slum whose inhabitants would repent for voting WP. Remember one’s GCT’s threats in 2006 GE campaigning?

We might as well ask the PAP to account for why, if it felt Mr Desmond Choo was such a good candidate, was he not roped into a GRC team and allowed to enter Parliament by riding the coat-tails of a cabinet minister, Ng E-Jay, Sgpolitics.net. Taz why WP was so dumb to respond in way it did to DPM Teo. Shld have left it to “inhabitants of cowboy towns”.

Anyway no harm done, even if WP “malfunctioned” Wonder if TKL, KennethJ, GSM and Lina Chiam were sacked from PAP campaign team, and they “moved on” to WP?

Hope you eaten the free teochew mui. Might no longer be available from this Sunday.

Saw ST’s photo of Png “the dummy” between Low and Sylvia in Wednesday’s ST. A gd explanation why ST has reverted to “PAP is S’pore, S’pore is PAP” mode. Writer is a grass-root activist in Taman Jurong. With a  grass-root activist like him, the PAP does not need enemies.

Three cheers for Eric Tan who came out to say that Png told him before meeting to choose NMP NCMP that he didn’t want post. Credible witness to rebut DPM Teo’s rants on Png’s untruthfulness as he bears no love for Low and other CEC members. He resigned in a huff when he was passed over as NMP NCMP. Low has admitted indirectly that he had promised Eric his support for post by admitting he changed his mind. Eric was team leader in East Coast GRC, and is a friend.

I don’t think that DPM Teo realises that his nitpicking and parsing of Png’s words shows the gap between Teo the scholar and rich kid (dad was a senior bank executive at OCBC who helped me, and who later became CEO*); and Png, the ordinary S’porean. A scholar always chooses his words carefully, like a lawyer, accountant or banker: while the non-scholar uses words more casually, like most of us “lesser mortals”.

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*and chairman (updated)

PngGate: Nothing more than a distracting sideshow

In Political economy on 23/05/2012 at 6:37 am

Ah so, so selling one’s soul is pointless. The person who leaked the WP’s minutes of meeting which showed that Png had misrepresented when he said he had removed his name from the ballot must be banging his balls in frustration. Png and WP cocked-up in the handling of DPM’s Teo comments abt Png, but thaz abt all. I doubt this would affect the voters views, even though the constructive, nation-building media (see today’s ST) is bitching about “dishonesty”, being more PAP than DPM Teo.

I have a shrewd guess on who leaked it. His hatred of Low has perverted the character of a decent, fair chap, turning him into a “I hate Low” zombie. I wish him a speedy recovery from his fixation.

On a separate issue, what I found most interesting abt the minutes was that it showed that Eric Tan had decent support for his bid to be NCMP but that GG had more votes. So Eric had supporters on the central executive council who appreciated his hard work and wanted to recognise his efforts. And not all the WP CEC members are cold, rational, calculating machines (Let’s face it, even as Eric’s friend, I think that giving the post to GG was in WP’s long-term interest, and still do despite GG’s “C-” performance in parly), or Low’s acolytes.

Back to Png and WP. WP has “malfunctioned” again, despite, or because of, having three lawyers as MPs. I hope the WP starts repairing and oiling its machine ASAP before something serious happens like getting disqualified in an election (2001). Both in the handling of YawGate and PngGate it made silly, avoidable mistakes. WP needs to get the machine to function as it did in 2006 (Garbra Gomez’s antics notwithstanding: BTW he took responsibility for the 2001 mess-up) and 2011 GEs.

Update

Nice to hear that Eric Tan has confirmed that Png told him before meeting that he didn’t want NCMP post.

Hougang: ST photo coverage

In Political governance on 22/05/2012 at 5:35 am

Don’t know whether you noticed, but ST has, in my opinion, a very subtle agenda in its photo coverage. Practically every photo of Desmond Choo shows him with “lesser mortals” (i.e. the “little people” he, and his bosses, claim he (and they and the PAP) wants to help. But when it comes to Png, the photos are a mixed bag. Quite a number show him with party leaders. There was one that showed him in the background, clearly visible, but in the foreground was Low. And to make it worse for Png, there was beside it, a big photo, of Desmond Choo with a “lesser mortal”: Png is Low’s proxy but Desmond cares for the people seems to be the message.

And on Sunday, there was a photo of Desmond, friend of the “little people”, juxtaposed with one of a “triumphalist” Png waving to WP supporters with party leaders in the background.

All in all ST is getting more subtle. Remember in 2006, it was caught “fixing” a photo on the size of the crowd at a WP rally. It was Alex Au who pointed out that the shot gave a misleading impression of the size of the crowd.

As for Today, its photos of Desmond also tend to show him as “Desmond the compassionate, caring”. But there isn’t the attempt to paint Png as a Low’s “proxy”.

LOL: Expelling Yaw “took courage”

In Political governance on 21/05/2012 at 5:33 am

Well if that is how Low wants to spin it, then I’m putting him into the same category as Tharman and Hng Kiang who tell us that 5.2% inflation doesn’t affect us “lesser mortals” because we don’t rent apartments or buy new cars.

The WP expelled Yaw because he was becoming a liability to the WP and, in particular, to Low his mentor. That doesn’t require courage: only selfishness and self-preservation.

And he became a liability because of the cack-handled way the WP handled the allegations of his rutting. When the rumours became public instead of either coming out to say that the matter was a private one (and thereby incurring the anger of the moralists*) or saying that the WP was investigating the matter, the WP opted for stonewalling silence and evasion (Examples**). This from a party that fought a general election on the need for transparency, openness and accountability, and the need for a first-world parliament.

When the noise got extremely loud, the WP announced Yaw’s expulsion from the WP. Low explained, “[A]lmost a month had passed between the first media allegations and the WP’s decision to expel Mr Yaw Shin Leong. Mr Yaw continued to remain silent on the matter, and refused to account to the WP Central Executive Council (CEC). The WP had no choice but to invoke clause 22(a) of the WP Constitution to expel him.”

This reduced the noise considerably, as otherwise rational netizens, and the usual WP and Opposition groupies rushed to blog that the WP was “whiter than white” or at least “whiter than the PAP”. And that Low was a strategist, the equivalent of Mao, Sun Tzu, Sun Pin, Chuko Liang or Fan Li. (One of these days, I’ll blog on why Low is not a great strategist. But I’ll wait until he is riding the crest of a wave again: if the WP retains Hougang with a 70% majority.)

When ex-PAP MP Ho Kah Leong bitched in Lianhe Zaobao’s forum page that Low should take responsibility for the matter,instead of his usual silence when attacked (remember his silences in parly when asked to state his views on certain issues), Mr Silence became Mr Chatterbox, replying, “Even though I was familiar with Yaw Shin Leong’s background and I have met his family and attended his two wedding ceremonies, I have no way and no authority to inspect his private matters and personal life. I am a Member of Parliament, not a private investigator! Ho … said I should take responsibility for the Yaw … saga. May I ask how I should take responsibility?”.

Well he may not be a “private investigator”, but having worked with and mentored Yaw for many a year, he has to accept the responsibility of being partly responsible for choosing Yaw to defend Hougang for the WP. He also has to accept part of the responsibility of the WP’s stonewalling silence and evasion. Finally as leader of the WP, he has to accept responsibility (albeit partially) for a systems failure. “The Workers’ Party has a system to select its candidates,” he said, so that Yaw could become a candidate shows some flaw in the system surely? PM is right to point this out, though much gd that would do to help Desmond Choo’s campaign.

All in all, Low’s performance was less than satisfactory, and he should juz “shut up and sit down”, not try to spin it to his or WP’s advantage.

Especially as no lasting damage has been done to him or the WP. Certain ex-WP members were crowing abt Low’s imminent fall. They are now banging their balls in frustration.

They underestimated the goodwill he has from S’poreans, even from critics like me (Even I have said nice things about him). It will take a lot of mistakes to make him lose that goodwill. S’poreans will readily forgive him, or give him the benefit of the doubt. Remember, S’poreans were very forgiving of the PAP, when they perceived it as the equivalent of a bad-tempered and mean hawker who sold delicious food at very reasonable prices, while giving his enemies food poisoning that sometimes hurt accidentally an innocent customer. Even after the food ceased to delicious or good value, S’poreans supported the PAP. In economics, this is called “stickiness”. Low now has stickiness.

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*But the WP would be tapping a new source of voters: the New Paper recently reported that 20% of Singapore women cheat on their husbands based on a survey done recently. And as Lucky Tan said, “For husbands the number is likely to be worse – you can take the 20% and double or triple it.”

**

– “if it is rumours …” (Yaw),

– “You said yourself that these are rumours, why are you still asking me?” (Low himself), and

– “We have to think carefully about our response” (deputy treasurer of the WP, a Mr Png).

These comments left me wondering if the Law Minister had been moonlighting after his pay cut, or if MP Baey’s PR firm had been advising the WP.

Hougang: Why PAP’s sliming will widen its losing margin

In Humour, Political governance on 18/05/2012 at 5:46 am

(Or “Is TKL, GMS or KennethJ running the PAP’s Hougang campaign?”

PM set the tone of the PAP’s campaign by saying in his prime ministerial statement* announcing the by-election: In January this year, news surfaced of personal indiscretions by Mr Yaw … The WP first kept totally silent, then supported Mr Yaw, and then three weeks later suddenly expelled him from the party. Until now the WP has not given Singa­poreans a full and proper account of what happened, or why it acted in this way. Mr Yaw …  has said nothing, either to explain or to apologise for his behaviour, and has reportedly left the country. Both the WP and Mr Yaw have let down all those who voted for him.

He is factually correct but being factually correct will not convince any of the 65% of voters who voted WP in 2011 to vote PAP. It might even cause some of the 35% that voted PAP to vote WP. In the days before new media, with the constructive nation-building local media parroting the theme of  WP “letting down” the voters, PM’s sliming would be effective.

But this is the age of Web 2.0 and anti-PAP netizens are reminding other netizens of the  following points and netizens who are not PAP friendly (the vast majority) will likely use these as talking points when conversing with their less internet savvy parents and other relations, and friends:

– The PAP too has “black sheep” MPs who “let down” voters. These  include ex-ministers Tan Kia Gan, Wee Toon Boon and Teh Cheang Wan. Then there is a Malay MP (whose name escapes me) and Desmond Choo’s uncle (and his “inspiration”)

– Choo Wee Khiang, Desmond’s uncle is a “let down” par excellent:

  — while a PAP MP, he was suspended from his golf club for intentionally hitting a golf ball at a flight in front of his group;

  — then he said in parly there were too many Indians in little India that he needed light for which he was censured by parliament;

  — in 1999, he was charged, convicted and jailed for cheating; and

  — he is again being charged. When president of Singapore Table Tennis Association, he is alleged to have committed three counts of corruption and one count of criminal breach of trust.

(And Goh Chok Tong asked us to forgive him and “move on”? Presumably because he was a PAP MP?)

Despite this really black track record, he is a role model for Desmond, “He has always been a source of counsel … About his past, that’s history, we look ahead. Whether that has stopped him from being an inspiration to me, never”.

–  One can reasonably make out the case that Desmond Choo’s uncle will inspire him to “attack” other golfers, make racist comments and cheat people. Perhap’s Desmond’s pledge “to be a ‘independent and objective voice’ for residents in Parliament if elected – even if it might mean differing from the government” was inspired or counseled by uncle Choo the cheat? There is such a thing as the party whip? And that he would make sure Hougang remains intact “as long as I’m here”. How can he promise this when he is not a senior PAP leader? Now, “So do not mix up the democracy part with providing alternative voices and the real purpose of this by-election, which is that Hougang residents need somebody to take care of them.” So very much like the cheat Uncle Choo.

– Raymond Lim, when he was transport minister, let down all those S’poreans and FTs who rely on the public transport systems especially MRT users.

– Mah Bow Tan, when he was HDB minister, let down young S’poreans who wanted her very own affordable HDB flat.

– the then DPM Wong, who let down S’poreans, over the escape and failure to recapture a terrorist suspect.

Add to that, remember the PAP’s boast that the “PAP and the state are one”? (Or shumething like that). Well two senior ranking Home Team members were investigated (results pending) by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for corruption and “cheating” on their wives. And what abt the ex-principal, scholar-teacher, ex-stat board lawyer and naval officer charged with sexual misconduct with a minor?

All in all, being negative abt WP, Low and Yaw doesn’t seem to be a gd idea.

Anyway, the campaign seems to be run by the likes ofTan Kin Lian, KennethJ, Goh Meng Seng, George Yeo and Lina Chiam. It is so dysfunctional and incompetent.

Examples:

– Early last week, CNA reported, “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the Hougang by-election should not distract the country from focusing on national priorities and building an inclusive Singapore.”

But then, The by-election in Hougang is strictly about choosing the MP who can best help its residents solve their problems, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman …‘This by-election is a local election,’ he stressed at a press conference held to introduce PAP candidate Desmond Choo, ST reported last Friday.

Is Tharman saying that the voters of Hougang should not think about “national priorities and building an inclusive Singapore” i.e. national issues when voting?

– Then we had this https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=419238791433672&set=a.317075431650009.80936.315021665188719&type=1&theater

– And Desmond Choo telling us he didn’t want PAP big-shots campaigning for him, when they were flanking him at a media conference. The latest is that he said he would readily welcome support from his party’s senior leadership. Make up yr mind boy!

He also seems to have altered his appearance. Get a photo of Yaw and compare it to a recent one of Desmond: to my eyes Desmond has adopted Yaw’s glasses and hairstyle. Trying to get the gals, Desmond? Wife only god for cooking?

Finally what could the other DPM be thinking when he suggested, imitating, an old opposition witticism that voters should vote PAP because then they will get both the WP and PAP helping them. Is he implying that if the PAP loses, the PAP will no longer be “Always Here” for the voters of Hougang. Or did he run out of things to joke about? Or out of something original to say?

LKY must be frustrated at the way the campaign is being run.  Things were better run when he was the PM.

BTW, wondering where’s the ISD arrests? So asking for the ISA to be abolished is a distraction.

———

*Err isn’t it unprime ministerial to use an official government statement to try to slime people that oppose the governing PAP?

.

DPM Teo & GG (or WP): gentle reminders for next week

In Humour, Political governance on 08/05/2012 at 7:23 pm

DPM Teo has been busy in April, what with opening a temporary carpark in Hougang, praising Desmond Choo (assumed PAP candidate there), talking abt the dangers of the internet, and pushing onto us the task of integrating FTs onto us, despite many of us wanting first-world FTs, not the garbage we’ve been getting in ever increasing truck loads, I’d tot I’d remind him of shumething he said in March concerning violent, ang moh FTs.

In March,  in parliament to a question from “Kate Spade” (the real people’s princess, not that NSP, TJS groupie gal who was from RP and who is looking to move on from NSP, not her boy friend: I mean tin looks ordinary, Nicole has star quality), he told us very upset S’poreans that Home Team was conducting an internal investigation on why two violent ang moh FTS who beat up two S’poreans badly in 2010 were allowed to post “peanuts” in bail; and why the police investigation took so long? They took the opportunity to cock a snook at S’pore by moving on.

He said the investigation would be completed in April, and implied that we would told the conclusions.

As it’s now May and parly sits next week, he should be abt to tell us abt the conclusions. And if the investigation has yet to be concluded, why not?

Tot he might need reminding as he seems to be trying hard to join Tharman, Sailor Lui, $8 Khaw and PM, as a teller of jokes in bad taste.

And I hope Gerald Giam (the apprentice who overthrew his si-fu Eric Tan) remembers that the WP called for the nationalisation of the bus and MRT systems in its 2011 GE manifesto, and that he wrote this on nationalising the public tpt system in July 2011.

If neither he nor any other WP MP raises this issue in parly next week, or explains why the WP has changed its mind of nationalisation (despite the apparent failure of the government’s model and the voters’ disgust with the government on this issue), the WP should have the decency to take down the manifesto from the WP website. First, the WP changed its benchmark that the WP wanted ministerial salaries to be referenced to, and now this. Said manifesto isn’t worth the paper it is written on even before the WP comes into power.  In first-world democracies, manifesto promises are ditched after the party wins power, not before: another WP first? Other firsts https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=449379458422514&set=at.281804541846674.87911.280285461998582.555162557&type=1&theater

SMRT: Quiet re-nationalisation

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Temasek on 06/05/2012 at 7:34 pm

(Or “SMRT: Has the government and WP switched positions on the quiet)

On Friday, SMRT reversed its recent losses and was up 0.9% to 1.65. It was at 1.81 juz on 24 April.

Interestingly among the slew of brokers’ reports calling it a “sell”, “nationalisation” seems to be a dirty word, never raised except by two honourable brokers. Only Citigroup was willing to hint at re-nationalisation, “We’d even dare conjecture a Government-led end game, while only Kim Eng suggested that “selective nationalisation” is already taking shape, “A hybrid model, where the Government comes in to inject money, is perhaps the best model possible under the circumstances … like selective nationalisation where the Government pumps in money in certain areas … being done already – take for example, the Government co-paying for the buses to help operators expand the fleet.”

UBS said SMRT is highly likely to move to a new rail-network financing framework where it would pay the government for an operating lease instead of owning train assets,

And only Citigroup is willing to hint at, “We sense more drastic actions are needed, perhaps raising capital to shore up finances.” In simple English, it says a rights issue is possible. Everyone else was silent on this pink elephant in the room.

I think a rights issue is very highly probable.

Let’s go thru some numbers. At Friday’s close, the mkt cap of SMRT was $2.49bn., of which $1.35bn can be attributed to Temasek (It owns 54.3% of SMRT).

Now SMRT has plans to spend $900m over the next eight years and it wants LTA (i.e. the taxpayer) to share the cost. What if the government tells SMRT that it shld fund two-thirds of the cost because the Commission of Inquiry finds that SMRT was not maintaining the tracks properly. (I’m assuming the COI makes this finding based on the way the inquiry is going).

To fund this $600m, SMRT’s directors call for a deeply discounted rights issue to raise $600m (about 24.1% of SMRT’s mkt cap as of Friday). Add to that they say that dividends will have to be cut drastically*, and that Temasek has agreed to underwrite any shares that minority shareholders refuse to take up. Temasek will say that its decision to support the rights issue is a “commercial decision” of a long-term shareholder. Right, and pigs can fly, a leopard can change its spots, KennethJ and TJS can stop boasting, Chiam can renew the SPP’s leadership, and Yaacob can tame the internet tsunami by building a CoC flood wall.

In such a scenario, Temasek could end up with 75-80% of SMRT, as many minority shareholders decline to take up their shares because of the reduced dividend payments.

Ain’t this partial re-nationalisation? And Temasek can have its cake and eat it too, depending on whether the other shareholders subscribe to the rights. Since SMRT was listed in 2000, Temasek has received $694.3m in dividends (I’m including the dividend declared recently). A $600m rights issue and assuming it has to take up all the rights shares still leaves Temasek $94.3m ahead. Might as well make it $700m rights call then, shall we?

Ain’t nationalisation of the public tpt system in the WP’s manifesto (I’ve blogged on this and that the transport minister parrots his predecessors’ defence of the rojak “for profits” system). Lucky Tan has this video of my friend Eric Tan then a WP member (and treasurer) talking abt nationalisation at the last GE. So the silence of the WP which I’ve raised before) is strange, and in the longer term worrying (No can trust its manifesto promises, why shld voters trust the WP?).

So I hope in the May session of parly, GG for one can raise the issue of nationalisation and put the government on the defensive. Why GG? In July last yr, he wrote this on nationalising the public tpt system. This was after Eric Tan had left WP in a huff, so the call for nationalisation of the public tpt system did not end when Eric Tan left.

If the WP remains silent on nationalisation of the public tpt system, it would remind me of a Sherlock Holmes mystery:

Detective: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

BTW, OCBC (a ex-bull on SMRT) is still relatively bullish. It downgraded SMRT to hold from “buy” and lowered its target price to S$1.71 from S$2.04, citing weaker-than-expected earnings for 2012 because it estimated that SMRT’s capital expenditure in 2013 will rise to S$500 million due to higher expenses needed for upgrading its assets.

CIMB cut its target price from $1.68 to $1.50, suggesting a switch to ComfortDelGro to maintain an exposure to the land transport sector. Deutsche cut its target price to $1.61 from $1.75 while J P Morgan downgraded the stock from “overweight” to “neutral” with a target price of $1.60. Phillips cut its target price to $1.33, maintaining its “sell” call. I suspect Phillips is right. A rights issue will be priced at around the $1.33 level.

I’d buy some shares then. Never bet against Temasek when it comes to a local counter.

——

*”Some [analysts] expect SMRT to cut its dividend payout from 70-80 per cent of profits historically to at least 60 per cent.” (BT). What if this was reduced to 25%?

PAP in Hougang: Young blood, old ideas

In Political governance on 12/04/2012 at 6:40 pm

(Or Why let’s go eat Teochew mui in Hougang”)

So, Desmond Choo is a “very good man”,  DPM Teo Chee Hean said. Err waz a DPM doing making a speech an opening ceremony of the temporary car park in Hougang. Surely he has more impt things to do?

I analysed shumetime back that in Aljunied, the PAP is focusing its renewal efforts on bringing in fighting fit and enthusiatic geriatrics to replace tired, worn-out younger leaders http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/pap-in-aljunied-grc-no-room-for-young-blood/. As to their ideas, we will have to wait to see if they got new ideas to win back Aljunied.

But the potents For Aljunied are no good based on waz happening in Hougang. In Hougang, despite having a team led by 30-something unionist Desmond Choo, the PAP are not trying anything new. Desmond Choo and his PAP PA activists are focusing on serving Teochew mui at two temples every sunday.  http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/03/20/free-porridge-breakfast-at-hougang-every-sunday-morning/.

The regular attendees of these temples are older and less-educated Te0chew speakers. The younger voters don’t do temples. If anything going by the latest stats, they are likely to attend churches, like the one Yaw attended (More opportunities to meet sexual partners in churches, going by Yaw’s alleged affairs?) And I’m sure they prefer bland, tastless Western fast food to high quality Teochew mui.

What is even sillier for the PAP is that these older S’poreans have been the main-stay of Low’s support since 1991. Lest one forget, Hougang and the surrounding areas like Ponngol, Cheng San and Aljunied, were once staunch Barisan Socialist territory.

So the PAP is now reduced feeding the hand that has been biting it all these years?

Never mind, it ain’t the PAP’s money. It’s tax-payers money.  Remember the funding for the People’s Association comes from the taxes we pay. So us oldies from other parts of S’pore who want to eat good quality Teochew mui (this is PA/ PAP stuff after all) can catch a cab (ST reported a lady who took a cab to eat there: doesn’t fare cost more than the free porridge? But then S’poreans are suckers for “free” or “subsidised” stuff), or take public transport, or drive to Hougang.

With an enemy like Desmond Choo, Low can afford to relax. If need be, he can remind voters that Desmond’s uncle (someone who he has admitted to as inspiring him) was a PAP MP and convicted cheat who continues getting into trouble with the law: he is facing a corruption charge.

The only thing that can cause Low a problem is if Yaw comes out to say that Low knew of his sexual habits before anointing him as Low’s successor in Hougang. Remember Low has denied knowing anything about Yaw’s personal life, despite anointing him as a his suceesor after mentoring him for many a year. People who don’t like Low are saying that they have heard people claiming to know Low say that Low said he knew of Yaw’s staggish behaviour long before anointing him as his successor.

But so far, none of Low’s enemies have dared openly to accuse him of lying. Two of them, I know, are banging their balls in silent frustration, that they can’t bring him down. Only Yaw can do it.

Advantage Low and WP in Hougang.

Desmond Choo was thrashed badly by Yaw Shin Leung in the 2011 GE. Geeky looking stag head-butted a he-man looking eununch

And all indications are that he is limbering up to take on Low Thia Khiang’s nominee  in a rematch. And that he will be thrashed again even if the NSP or Tan Jee Say or KennethJ try to score points with the PAP by giving voters a wider choice of candidates. Indications are that the NSP Old Guard cannot find a candidate willing to lose his or her  deposit even if the Old Guard towkays pay for all the election expenses (including said deposit). Apparently even one Goh Meng Seng has passed up this opportunity for some cheap publicity (bit of a surprise there), even though he gallantly volunteered Nicole Seah for the task.

NSP Old Guard: don’t make fools of yrselves by taking on Low in Hougang, unless you can pay Yaw to rat on Low. Maybe you and Desmond Choo can make Yaw an offer he cannot refuse? And Tan Jee Say and KennethJ control yr personal obsessions for cheap publicity stunts. It ain’t worth the effort, shumething even GMS realises.

True, the WP has no God-given right to Hougang, but neither have any of you chaps. The WP deserves to fight the PAP unhindered because the WP and Low have been serving the people there since 1991.  Where were the NSP Old Guard, TJS and KennethJ then?

As this post is already too long by half, I’ll leave for another day (later rather than sooner) my tots on Tan Cheng Bok’s speculation that a possible strategy for PM Lee would be to call for a by-election in his Ang Mo Kio GRC together with Hougang single member constituency. “This will be very interesting as the politics of voting will change, especially if PM promises the people of Hougang that Hougang will be part of his Town Council.”

WP: No longer believes in public tpt nationalisation

In Political governance on 08/04/2012 at 6:59 pm

This week, one of the topics to be debated in parliament will be the public transport system especially the government’s plans to inject $1.1bn into the bus system.

In its 2011 General Election Manifesto the WP wrote: Instead of public transport being provided by profit-oriented companies, all public transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major routes should be brought under a National Transport Corporation, a public body, to ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport network and to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and overheads incurred by multiple operators.

In simple English, the WP manifesto called for the nationalisation of the MRT and bus systems.

But, I’ve been reliably told, that the WP will not be calling for the nationalisation of the public transport system in the debate on public transport this week. It will keep silent on its manifesto call.

If my source (a WP member in gd standing) is correct, and I hope he is wrong, one can only wonder if the WP has forgotten its manifesto call on the nationalisation of public transport (see somewhere here) or changed its mind on public transport nationalisation? And then one can wonder why the forgetfulness or change, when the facts and public mood seem to favour nationalisation.

Granted, at the time, there was very little mainstream (to be expected) or new media (more surprising this) attention, and very little public interest (not surprising, given the lack of awareness on this call) on this issue. But things are different now.

There have been several major failures of the MRT system, resulting in chaos, and public anger.

With $1.1bn of tax-payers’ money going into the bus system (two-thirds or 67% of it, $733m, going into ComfortDelgro where the state has a shareholding that is “peanuts”*), there are many voices wondering why private shareholders should benefit from a public good?

Example: Since housing and transport are both necessities of life, and public transport is the only choice of the lower-income group, it is not unjustifiable to commit resources to keep the cost of public transport low … government spending on public transport is a form of income redistribution …

The key concern in the S$1.1-billion package to purchase and operate buses is not that it subsidises public transport per se but whether public funds could benefit a small group of shareholders, to whom bus companies are ultimately accountable.

This is what the Government will need to account to taxpayers.

Even BT, part of the nation-building, constructive media had this to say, The public transport model has come under scrutiny ever since a $1.1 billion package was announced by the government to supplement the existing privately run bus fleet with 550 buses.

How has the government responded?

The minister responsible for throwing $1.1bn at the problem can only parrot repeat what his predecessors used to say, Our current model leaves the operations of trains and buses to commercial entities as we believe the long term public interest is best served this way. The profit incentive drives the operators towards higher efficiency and productivity, which keeps costs as low as possible . . . Otherwise, if the system is inefficiently run, the public will ultimately pay for the higher operating costs, either through higher fares, or greater government subsidies.

He should be asked in parliament this week why despite the “higher efficency and productivity” (“which keeps costs as low as possible”) of the private companies, commuters keep paying more and more while getting worse and worse service, so much so that the government has to subsidise the companies to improve bus service quality.  The minister’s The profit incentive drives the operators towards higher efficiency and productivity, which keeps costs as low as possible, can and should be challenged.

So the WP has plenty of ammunition to rubbish the government’s public transport policy And remind the government and the voters that it called for nationalisation last year. But it seems it will not call for nationalisation.

Parliament is the best place to debate the issue and the WP should not let this opportunity be missed especially as it called for nationalisation in its election manifesto. If it does not raise this issue, S’poreans must hope that PAP newbie FT MP, Puthucheary (“No NS for me”) will raise the issue. He had suggested in the last session of parliament that nationalisation might be a gd option.

There should be a more selfish, self-serving reason for the WP to use this opportunity to call for nationalisation.  If  the WP doesn’t believe in its own manifesto or keeps quiet when it changes its mind on a manifesto issue, why should, we, the voters believe in the WP?

The PAP pointed out earlier this year (rightly) that the WP’s benchmark for ministers’ salaries had changed from the poor (in said manifesto) to a civil service senior grade (Gerald Giam in parliament). The WP could not rebut the PAP charge.

The voters who voted for the WP believed its call for the need of a co-driver, to keep the PAP honest and competent. If voters cannot believe in the PAP and the WP, what should the voters do? Vote SDP?

The WP might want to be reminded that in countries with first-world parliaments, the election manifesto is a very important document, not something to be chucked away after a general election. If the WP does not call for nationalisation of the public transport system in parliament this week, it should remove the link on the front page of its website to its manifesto.

*Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid $562.79m in dividends to Temasek (which owns 74%), and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC which has 12%) dividends of roughly $150.46m since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was $713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is the main beneficiary of the $1.1bn bus plan, given that, at present, SBS Transit (a listed co 75% owned by ComfortDelgro) provides most of the buses. ComfortDelgro is getting $733m or 67% of the $1.1bn package.

Related rant

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/wp-does-do-original-thinking-pap/

 

TJS: Right attitude, wrong project?

In Political governance on 30/09/2011 at 6:49 am

I’m one of those 75% of voters who didn’t vote for TJS in the presidential elections. I wasn’t convinced that he was sincere (to be frank,I thought he was an opportunist); and the lack of a verifiable track record, career-wise, since 1991 was of concern. My thoughts on whether he was a hero or bad guy.

And there was the issue of S$60bn. “[S]mall change”, but not to his fan websites, and the party he resigned from the SDP.

But 25% of voters voted for him which shows that he convinced a quarter of adult S’poreans that he was sincere and competent. I accept their judgement. I am happy that he has rewarded (or should it be repaid?) their trust by saying he will continue fighting for his articulated principles and convictions.

But is trying to unite the Opposition a good use of his passion and talents? I think not.

Chiam tried it twice. First with the setting up of SDA and then by trying to help KennethJ take over the SDA. The latter ended with Chiam taking the SPP out of the SDA, and with both Chiam and KJ looking stupid and arrogant. Chiam recovered his reputation, KJ never did. But KJ was playing for high stakes. If he had taken over the SDA, he would have established himself as a master tactican.

Next, why would the WP and SDP want to team up because of TJS? They have distinct brands, and appeal to different voters. If the parties worked together closely, WP would not be able to attract the swing voters. They would not to be associated with the “radicals” of the SDP. Although not true, that is the image that the swing voters have of SDP members, an image that the constructive, nation-building local media, PAP and government helped build and maintain. Though to be fair, until very recently, SDP members made it easy to caricature themselves.

It is no surprise they have not commented on what he has said.

Then there is the state of the other parties. The SPP punches above its weight because of brand Chiam. The NSP (forever reinventing itself between elections), RP (remember who this is?), and SDA are sick parodies of political parties.

See who are the parties that welcome his initiative, and are willing to join the “Coalition of the Hopeless”: the SPP, NSP, RP and SDA.

Finally, the present arrangement of all the parties not fighting three-way contests suits everyone except the SDP.  In particular, the WP benefits from having the SDP’s supporters having no choice except to vote for it. See this.

True in 2011, the WP refused to give way to the SDA in one area (but it was vindicated when the SDA candidate lost his deposit) and there were rows between the WP and NSP, and between the NSP and RP on seat allocations. But the bigger party bullied the smaller party into submission in both cases. Goh Meng Seng was bullied by the WP, and he in turn bullied KJ.

This co-operation may not be possible after the next GE. The parties, especially the WP and SDP, may raise their ambitions, but that is in the distant future.

So I hope TJS finds something more doable and constructive, taking into account his talents and weaknesses. What that could be I hope to explore in a future post. 

Meanwhile, “Tan Jee Say, Ho Say Leh”: so long as he repays the trust that 25% of adult S’poreans have in him.

Who is the Opposition Kingmaker?

In Uncategorized on 23/09/2011 at 7:00 am

Following this year’s two elections, I could reasonably argue that the core PAP vote (any donkey even if it is Tin Pei Ling, so long as it is a PAP donkey) is 35%, the core anti-PAP vote is 30% (any ass even an SDA ass, so long as it is an anti-PAP ass) and the remaining 35% are the Animal Farm sheep aka the swinger voters. 

(I’ve not used the term  “Opposition” because all the Opposition parties define themselves as being anti-PAP or its values.)

Given that the WP has five MPs and two NCMPS (while no other Opposition party has an MP, and the SPP has the only other NCMP) , one would think that the WP best presents the angry S’porean voter. I think not.

The WP has done well because it can attract enough swing voters with its moderation (or waffliness or BS, if I wanted to be unkind) while relying on the 30% of voters who are angry with the PAP. It does not have to appeal to these voters because the Opposition parties try to avoid three-way contests in the belief that such contests only benefit the PAP.

True, the PAP benefits most in such contests, But the WP benefits most among the Opposition parties in two-way fights. Its discipline, moderation and willingness to walk the ground between general elections, plays well to the sheep of Animal Farm.

The biggest loser is the SDP, the natural home of these angry voters. SDP supporters in areas not contested by the SDP, have no choice but to vote WP, SPP, NSP, and SDA and RP; or spoil their votes.

Think I exaggerate? I’ve been told by a usually reliable source that in the Aljunied GRC, Tan Jee Say polled a decent close second to Tony Tan. Tan Cheng Bock was nowhere. And look at the TJS rally, and even the booing of TT on Nomination Day. These bear the hallmarks of SDP activism; in the latter the Dark Side of SDP activism, not the mainstream SDP.

And remember Tan Kin Lian, who lost his deposit? He and his adviser, Goh Meng Seng, thought they had the angry vote stitched up, allowing them to focus on the swing vote. Then TJS got his COE and performed well in the presidential election. TKL could only get angry publicly with TJS.

True, TJS was not endorsed by the SDP but he had the active help of many of its activists, though the MSM and bloggers focused on the endorsement he got from Nicole Seah, the super celebrity. Incidentally, I was told that in Marine Parade, TCB was second to TT. So much for her endorsement.

My conclusion? The SDP is the kingmaker of the Opposition. Remember how the Communists destroyed David Marshall and the WP in the early 60s? They told their supporters not to vote for the WP.

It could happen again. The SDP could withdraw its support of the WP, and even field candidates to fight the WP if the WP doesn’t pay Danegeld to the SDP or move leftwards. But by doing either or both, it will lose its attractiveness to the sheep of Animal Farm. Not a sweet spot to be in, Mao.

 

Do we need more political parties?

In Political governance on 16/09/2011 at 6:58 am

So now there are voices calling for Tan Jee Say and Dr Tan Cheng Bock to each form a new political party. And I’m sure, there are voices out there asking the “Voice of the People” to make a fool of himself again (this time with his daughter by his side) by forming the VP Party or VPP.

I’m sure some of these callers are thinking, genuine and sincere people, while some of the callers are PAP activists hoping to split the votes of voters unhappy with the PAP. But most of these calls are coming from very daft, but sincere and genuine people.

Think of where the parties of TJS and TCB will position themselves.

There are two slightly left-of-centre parties, the Workers’ Party and the Singapore People’s Party. Further left (but not on extreme left, despite what the local constructive, nation-building media say), we have the Singapore Democratic Party and somewhere between the WP and the SPP, and the SDP, there is for the moment the National Solidarity Party.

The NSP is forever changing shape in between general elections and, at the moment, is undergoing yet another metamorphoses. The WP and SDP have strong brands and active supporters, while the SPP is finally trying to make a serious effort to move away from brand “Chiam”. Let’s hope it succeeds. Chiam deserves to leave behind a political legacy. He showed us that an ordinary, decent man could take on the PAP and survive. There was no need to play the matyr game.

Now where will brand Tan Jee Say fit in? Based on his behaviour during the presidential election, his party will be further left of the SPP and WP, and right of the SDP. A space that the NSP, with two of his scholat mates in its management committee, is now trying to make its own. Kinda crowded, aint it?

As for Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the man, who waffled on during the election about not being the preferred PAP candidate and abt unity via footie and multiracialim (If I sound mean, I remind that I voted for him. Yup I can be that irrational), where will his party stand? Right of the WP, and SPP most likely, based on his waffling.

Even if it occupies some of the right-of-centre space dominated by the PAP, it will be fighting for some of the very moderate left votes.

The space on the left is crowded, with these six parties. There may not be enough seats to satisfy the ambitions of these six parties in a general election. There may be three-way contests. Then there are the absolute no-hopers, Singapore Democratic Alliance and the RP: making a total of eight parties on the left. The only place left field unoccupied is on the extreme left.

Establishing a new party is not easy. Remember the Reform Party? Set up by the late JBJ, it had to be resurrected by his son, KennethJ,  because of JBJ’s death soon after its founding. Despite all the goodwill that the memory of JBJ attracts, the RP had problems recruiting. And anyway, the newbies soon left, leaving King KJ to play and fantasise alone.

So please, let’s not encourage bored men with large egos, deep pockets and axes to grind to form new parties of the left. The field is crowded left of centre with eight parties.

Now, there is plenty of space on the extreme right. Anyone bored with a big ego, deep pockets and an axe to grind interested? I’m sure one LKY will be the party’s patron if the party ideology is a mixture of fascism, capitalism, socialism and his Hard Truths.

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