Why Tharman will be the next PM

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 24/08/2012 at 6:21 am

(Or “How S’pore’s PMs are chosen”)

We know that Tharman as finance minister has failed to control inflation (Yes, yes, I know latest number is 4% but remember grain prices are flying), when all he can do is to make jokes about it, and that the government (where he is now the senior most minister in charge of the economy) has consistently failed to raise the productivity of S’pore workers* despite talking the talking on this since I started working in the late 1970s. I’m now a man of leisure and the government is still talking about raising productivity. SIGH.

I was reminded of another failure of the government’s economic policies when the July export data came out last week.  No it wasn’t the failure of the government policy to diversify away from electronics. If S’pore has a comparative edge here, so be it.

No, it was the failure many yrs ago to realise that pill-making is not a steady business. Example: in July, while pharmaceutical shipments were up 1.3% after rocketing 24% in June. It was brought in to smooth the volatility of an economy dependent on the export of electronics, a volatile commodity.

It didn’t work because while selling drugs is a steady business in gd times and bad (unlike electronics), making pills is not. It’s a very volatile business. Drug cos are forever tweaking their supply chains to minimise production costs and inventories. Production is not smooth.

So while pill-making has become an important driver of economic growth, it has not made the economy any less volatile. In fact combining it with the manufacturing and export of electronics causes the economy to gyrate wildly at times.

Guess who introduced pill-making? One Lee Hsien Loong. He was once responsible for raising the productivity of S’porean workers? In the UK, a Chancellor of the Exchequer, who goofed on two major policy decisions, would not get to be PM.

Looks like better not bet against Tharman being PM. With the failures on inflation, productivity and the following on his CV, nap that he will become PM:

— Another failure is the rise in the number for homeless S’poreans at a time of reasonably gd economic growth.

— They are exemplars of the “working poor”, something articulated so well here. Read it.

— Article also explains why Workfare, as it is constructed, doesn’t help the poor. Related posts:

Update after posting: Promotion here is via failure? Presidency of S’pore and Temasek. So the PAP’s meritocracy is achieved via failure, not success? So Orwellian. Reminds me of Beckett’s, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

  1. Minister Tharman is a very smart man and has a good heart,but surprising that he turns out to be a joker for the entertainment of 61%, his DNA is still there,hope he changes before becoming PM.

  2. And tharman strongly believed that the current inflation will not affect many singaporeans as long as we don’t buy cars or properies.
    How about telling singaporeans to cut down to 2 meals a day?
    This way, our food bills will be reduced by a third immediately.
    Bath once a week? Water bills dropped to S$50 a month.

    Great ideas isn’t tharman? But we don’t need a $$million salaried wise-ass to tell us this, don’t we?

    If he becomes PM, lhl will probably moved up to the second worse PM of all times.

  3. The PAP seems to live in their own bubble. They pat themselves on their back on the good job they’re doing. There’s always a way to rationalise the issue. Exports volatile? Low growth this year? Its because of the global environment. High growth this year? Its because of our policies. Poor in Singapore needs help? We’ve a lot of schemes. We don’t want to go down the slippery slope of socialism. Look at what’s happening in Europe! Housing expensive? We’ve grants (never mind the numerous fine prints) and you should choose a place in a far flung area to begin with, and please start with a small flat. People disgruntled? Oh, its just a small, vocal minority on-line.

    When you’re in a bubble, and you surround yourselves with yes-men, this is what you get. Add to that, the fact that all the policies are designed by scholars, then no wonder everything looks good on paper but unless you’re really in the ground, you won’t know what’s happening. The real power behind the cabinet is the “hardliners”, ie. TCH especially and NEH. The lefties such as Tharman are new and inexperienced and just wayang. LHL is just the clueless figure leading the team, buffeted by the left, the right. He’s no sense of the ground himself and unlike LKY, no force of personality. His style is to discuss as a team. Under such circumstances, the forceful personalities such as TCH win. No wonder the leadership is dysfunctional!!

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