Posts Tagged ‘NatCon’

HKCon for HK? Imitating our NatCon?

In Hong Kong, Political governance, Public Administration on 01/11/2019 at 7:49 am

Remember our National Conversation? And remember how skeptical I was of NatCon?

Many (self included) think that NatCon is Wayang. But could it be even more cynical? Is NatCon’s aim  to distract us from the govt’s mismanagement of the economy. This unworthy tot struck me when I read DBS’ analysis of the S’pore economy last week.

NatCon: More cynical than Wayang?

“Dialogue in the Dark (DiD) is a social enterprise that aims to educate the public on the experience of blindness, ” writes MSF S’pore (Kee Chui Chan’s ministry)

Tot it should be appropriated as a description of NatCon.

NatCon: Dialogue in the Dark

The door-to-door survey of 4,000 Singaporeans was conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) between November last year and February. It was carried out to validate the issues brought up in the 660 OSC sessions held over the past year …

[OSC committee Chairman and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat] noted that overall, the participants at the OSC sessions wanted the assurance that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable.

Govt needed NatCon + survey to find these things out?

Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg spent an afternoon working incognito as a taxi driver in Oslo, he has revealed.

Mr Stoltenberg said he had wanted to hear from real Norwegian voters and that taxis were one of the few places where people shared their true views.

NatCon: PM should have tried driving a cab

Well a M’sian-born ethnic Indian living in HK (Seems he worked here too) wants to start a conversation that suspiciously sounds like NatCon the Hongkie way.

As for providing a platform for people to speak up, local businessman Chandran Nair, who runs independent think tank The Global Institute for Tomorrow, is touting his “Let’s Talk Hong Kong” project, which he hopes will provide a network of independent and neutral platforms “to bring the community together and find solutions”.

“Many are concerned about being involved in any way but I keep stressing that we are not taking sides and will be neutral,” he said, on the hunt for partners to raise funds and get started.

“Despite what people say, there is a positive path for Hong Kong after the protests. The first step on that path is dialogue: not just as a mechanism to narrow the political divide or share frustrations, but as a way to build real public understanding and trust across different social groups in the city.”

Let’s wish him luck.

Coming back to NatCon, the PAP govt will say its a great success. It won 70% of the popular vote in 2015. In 2011 it “won” only 60% of the popular vote.

LKY: Lest we forget the Dark Side

In Media, Political governance on 30/03/2015 at 5:04 am

I have very little time or patience for Teo Soh Lung’s views but I agree with her comment “let us remember that there is another side to the man”.I reproduce her piece below because it shows S’poreans who want to remind other S’poreans of the Seth Lord or Sauron in Lee Kuan Yew how to do it: stick to the facts, not descending to abuse and vulgarity.

It’s important that anti-PAP cyber-warriors, and those (self-included) who believe in objectivity and balance (and who have no patience with BS) butt into the NatCon that the PAP administration and its allies (especially the constructive, nation-building media) is imposing on S’poreans. We must not let the “right” narrative remain unchallenged.

But we have to do it factually, and entertainingly, not boring fellow S’poreans to sleep. And we have the eyeballs*.

Ms Teo Soh Lung’s Facebook post (apologies for not getting her approval)

I watched the television for several hours today. The tv was off for nearly a week and I thought I really should not miss this historic occasion.

As I watched the two sons of Lee Kuan Yew gave their eulogies in praise of their father, I cannot help thinking of the following people who were arrested and imprisoned for decades without trial by their father:

1. Dr Lim Hock Siew was arrested and imprisoned for 20 years. His son was only 5 months old. He left his wife to look after their son for two decades. His medical career was completely ruined.

2. Pak Said Zahari had a young family and his wife was pregnant with their youngest child when he was arrested and imprisoned for 17 years. His youngest daughter was born while he was still in prison and he did not hold her till 17 years later. His promising career as editor of Utusan Melayu and writer ended. His wife became a hawker in order to keep the family alive.

3. Lee Tee Tong, Legislative Assemblyman was imprisoned for 18 years leaving his parents to fend for themselves.

4. Dr Poh Soo Kai was imprisoned for for 17 years. His marriage was ruined and he was deprived of having a happy family. His career as a brilliant gynaecologist also ended.

5. Ho Toon Chin @ Ho Piao was imprisoned for 18 years. His parents were deprived of his support and his career as a trade unionist ended.

6. Chia Thye Poh, a legislative assemblyman and Physics lecturer was imprisoned for 32 years. As the eldest son and one who consistently did well in school and university, his parents had hoped that he would support them financially. Instead, they had to visit him in prison.

7. Loh Miaw Gong, a legislative assembly woman and trade unionist was imprisoned for 7 years. Her family was deprived of her support.

8. Chng Min Oh @ Chuang Men Hu, Trade unionist was imprisoned for 13 years leaving his wife to look after 2 young children and a third who was born while he was in prison. His wife had to work as a hawker and construction worker, holding other odd jobs to keep the family afloat. She was struck with cancer shortly after his release and committed suicide three years later, unable to accept her illness.

Thousands were thrown into jail and tortured just because Lee Kuan Yew was afraid of their presence in parliament. Their families left to fend for themselves. Many more lived or died in political exile, separated from their loved ones for 30 years and more.

While Singaporeans sing praises of Lee Kuan Yew, let us remember that there is another side to the man.


*Mr Cheong Yip Seng (LKY’s favourite newsman, ex-ST chief editor) recently told us of an incident which showed that LKY was aware of the impact of new media. One November evening in 1999, Mr Lee telephoned Mr Cheong. He was troubled by a new information phenomenon, which was threatening to overwhelm the traditional media industry: eyeballs were migrating from print newspapers to cyberspace. Mr Cheong said that LKY was anxious about how the information revolution would impact the Singapore traditional media.

“He was anxious to find a response that would enable the mainstream media to keep its eyeballs. He wanted us at Singapore Press Holdings to think about the way forward.”

Well SPH, and the rest of constructive, nation-building media didn’t do what they were ordered to, did they? That despite throwing serious money and other resources at the problem.

Telling gd info from bad, the secret police way

In Financial competency on 04/09/2013 at 5:18 am

(Or “How Ravi & PM can improve their decision-making or sharing skills” Actually, everyone, who has to evaluate info i.e all of us, can benefit from the methodology.)

P Ravi had a “hard” time*, a few months back, from two ministers and the spokesman from the Info ministry ever since he reposted some stuff on masks (See this) which even I tot he shouldn’t have done.

PM had serious problems in the 2011GE and the by-election this year: the PAP grassroot leaders gave him and the PAP the wrong info on grassroot sentiment. After the 2011 GE, he had to defend said leaders after PAP MPs criticised them. To ensure that the feedback, the selected NatCon participants reflected S’poreans’ concerns, he had a survey to double-confirm what he was hearing from the selected NatCon participants.

Maybe, if Ravi and the PM had used the following evaluation method that the Malayan Special Branch successfully used when fighting the communists, they could have better evaluated their sources’ information.

Source reliability Information accuracy
A – Completely reliable 1 – Confirmed
B – Usually reliable 2 – Probably true
C – Fairly reliable 3 – Possibly true
D – Not usually reliable 4 – Doubtfully true
E – Unreliable 5 – Improbable
F – Reliability cannot be judged 6 – Accuracy cannot be judged

(Was based on “Admiralty System”. From  Malaya’s Secret Police 1945-60: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency)

It splits the analysis into two: the reliability of the source (based on source’s historical reliability) and the accuracy of the info (based on known facts).

In the case of Ravi, even though he would have given his source an “A” rating, the fact that before his reposting the following was reported:

The Health Ministry has urged Singaporeans to be patient, as it works with suppliers to speed up deliveries to shops.
Adrian Lo, director of Singapore Test Services, said: “The frustration is definitely there as a citizen. But I know the challenges of distribution so we just have to be patient and then hope the government intervenes and do something to spread out the availability of the masks.”
Dr Ng Eng Hen, chair of the Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee, added the government will supply retail outlets with more masks and that NTUC FairPrice will get the stocks next week.
The FairPrice chain of stores said close to two million masks will be re-stocked from Monday across all its 115 outlets.
Dr Ng said: “NTUC FairPrice will cap the price of these masks, but also limit the number that each person can buy. Because when people buy more, they create more demand and artificial shortages, so they will cap the price and limit the numbers that each person can buy.”
More than 1.5 million N95 masks are also on their way to being delivered to retail pharmacies.

should have alerted him that info he was going to repost was at best a “4” in terms of accuracy. The rating would have been A4. I mean a minister, no less, said that masks were going to be distributed. A minister would not be playing the DRUMS on such an issue of national concern, which was easily verifiable, or shown to be false, as the case may be.. Trustworthy source, but accuracy problematic. BTW, Ravi now concedes that the said masks were distributed.

As for the PM, instead of relying on grassroots leaders’ assurances of a victory in Punggol East, he should have tot back to their assurances of easy victories in 2011, and given the grassroots leaders a C or D rating, and 3 for accuracy. This score would have told him that it would be prudent to campaign harder because it was C3 or D3 at best: neither here or there. It might even be a C4 orD4.

*Now this is a hard time: BETWEEN August 20th and 23rd Beijing police arrested several microbloggers** on a charge normally reserved for rabble-rousers on the streets: that of “creating a disturbance”. They were nabbed, police claim, for spreading false rumours. Earlier in the month two influential microblogging activists were also arrested in east-central China. Each had accused officials of wrongdoing. An online crackdown is under way on those who do not follow the Communist Party’s line … On August 23rd Beijing police detained one Big V, Charles Xue, and later accused him of holding group sex parties with prostitutes.

**Seems some of those arrested were PR people microblogging a product placement.

No such thing in China as “juz sharing” and “seeking govt clarification”. If it smells like rumour-mongering, bring on the handcuffs, is shumething the Chinese can teach Yaacob.

Govt needed NatCon + survey to find these things out?

In Political governance on 23/08/2013 at 4:45 am

The door-to-door survey of 4,000 Singaporeans was conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) between November last year and February. It was carried out to validate the issues brought up in the 660 OSC sessions held over the past year …

[OSC committee Chairman and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat] noted that overall, the participants at the OSC sessions wanted the assurance that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable.

Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) project comes up with these findings?

What a waste of time, effort and our money so that the govt learns that the people are concerned that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable. And that there are concerns about education. If I wanted to be nasty, I would say that SingCon or NatCon shows out of touch the govt is with the rabble masses. But I won’t, but am surprised the usual suspects that love playing the DRUMS didn’t raise this point. They don’t do original insights, is it?

Juz reading the opinions, analysis and comments on the internet and social media would have told the govt the people’s Hard Truths. OK, as the internet and social media are Injun or Taliban or juz plain hostile territory for the PAP, the govt may be forgiven for doubting that new media is reflecting the facts on the ground.

But then, if the grassroot leaders, PAP MPs and the local media had given no-DRUMS feedback to the govt, the govt would have realised that the Injuns did not speak with forked tongues. Instead the govt only found out the truth after talking with selected S’poreans, and conducting a survey to verify what it was told.

It could have saved time, effort and money if it had listened to netizens, and done a survey to verify whether netizens were reflecting reality, or talking cock like the PAP grassroot leqadersand MPs, and the constructive, nation-building media.

And would was a survey necessary to verify what netizens are bitching and bleating about reflected the reality of feelings on the ground, other than to to give the people at a govt related think-tank shumething to do? What about using the ISD?

In M’sia, the Special Branch (The ISD and the Special Branch trace their origins to the Malayan Special Branch) is so gd that a senior DAP official said in a seminar after the 2008 M’sian elections that the officers info on where the DAP would win was very accurate. They were comparing notes before the 2008 election.

My serious point is that the PAP govt has to find out out new methods of reading the tracks on the ground. The old methods no longer work. They should be ditched or modified. This needs to be done both for the good of the PAP and for ordinary S’poreans. The PAP can no longer rely on the so-called grassroot leaders, the local media and MPs. They too are playing the DRUMS that the govt accuses netizens of doing.

One way is to find a way to verify whether the new media is reflecting (for free) the facts on the ground.Maybe because the info is free, is one reason why the govt ignores it? Remember the PAP MP whose words implied that he looked down on others who earned less than serious money?

But the govt should also have to find ways of finding out and double confirming what the middle-class netizens are ignoring, out of ignorance, complacency, arrogance or maliciousness. They too can play the DRUMS as well as the mainstream media, govt and the PAP. Yes, almost everyone in S’pore plays the DRUMS: one man’s Hard Truths are the DRUMS of lesser mortals, and vice-versa.

But let’s not be too hard on the govt for not making the best use of the resources available, or of wasting time, effort and money to find out what S’poreans think. Wayang is now very impt in politics because nowadays  S’poreans, like other people, think better of politicans who “listen” to their opinions, or “feel” their pain. Or least pretend to.

Taz a new Hard Truth. Paternalism is out. As is “Sit down and shut up. We know what is best for you.”

If Animal Farm was written today, Napoleon and the pigs would have to have a “conversation” with the  other animals, and a survey to validate the said conversation, before going ahead and oppressing them.


*PM and the PAP had serious problems in the 2011GE and the recent by-election with the quality of info they were receiving from the grassroot leaders on voter sentiment. After the 2011 GE, he had to defend the said leaders after PAP MPs criticised them.

NatCon: PM should have tried driving a cab

In Political governance on 12/08/2013 at 5:01 am

Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg spent an afternoon working incognito as a taxi driver in Oslo, he has revealed.

Mr Stoltenberg said he had wanted to hear from real Norwegian voters and that taxis were one of the few places where people shared their true views.

He wore sunglasses and an Oslo taxi driver’s uniform for the shift in June, only revealing his identity once he was recognised by his passengers.

BTW, the passengers were not charged. This being S’pore, PM has to charge. Otherwise people like P Ravi, Andrew Loh, and TOC and TRE posters sure to complain.

Where are the app developers from RI & other elite schools?

In Political governance on 24/04/2013 at 5:27 am

In the last few days, education seems to be a hot topic if one goes by the reports in our local media: all part of the NatCon. I’m sure the Media Bahru will soon be putting its spin on the issues reported by Media Tua.

Well I’ll raise here an issue that doesn’t seem to fit in with a sub narrative that our elite schools are (or not) producing the kind of S’poreans we need.

In the UK, where private schools are the elite schools, students from the elite schools are producing world-class apps

… interviewed Nick 13 months ago … he came from a successful, wealthy family who had opted to give him a private education.

A day after Nick started counting his millions [Yahoo! bot his app which summaries news articles], an email dropped in my inbox about another teenaged developer.

Schoolboy Tom Humphrey has launched an app designed to help language learning by combining dictionary definitions with digital translation tools. He also happens to go to Eton College. [UK’s most elite school. Costs about S$60,000 a year in fees]

Meanwhile teenager Nina Dewani, who was interviewed by the BBC last month after designing a password-prompting app, attends a private school in St Albans.

It could be a coincidence, but these young people join a long line of tech entrepreneurs who attended private schools and found fame for their creations.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee went to an independent school, as did Bill Gates (although he later dropped out of Harvard to set up a software company), while child prodigy Mark Zuckerberg had a tutor who helped him start writing software.

Well, where are the world-class app developers from our elite schools? Let alone tech entrepreneurs.

Or is apps development reserved for this school: School of Science and Technology aims to nurture students to be innovative.

A student there “is pitching his business idea of an app which helps busy working parents remember their baby’s feeding schedule.”

Sports School students represent S’pore in ping-pomg, and SST students pitch uses of to-be-developed apps. Err who develops the apps? Poly students? Technical Institutes’ students?

My serious point is that if the students of our elite schools are not doing cutting-edge things that their counterparts in the West are doing, there must be something seriously wrong with the education system? A topic worthy of NatCon: “Where are the app developers from RI & other elite schools?”?

BTW, any comments about “exam factories” will be spammed. Taz a dumb comment to a complex and serious issue. In the UK and US, the elite private schools get more than their fair share of students into elite unis. In fact, critics complain they take away places from students from state schools.

Safe? Are you sure LTA?

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 10/03/2013 at 6:32 pm

Sinkholes happen when a layer of rock underneath the ground is dissolved by acidic water.

Usually this layer is a soluble carbonate rock, such as limestone or its purer form, chalk …Typically rainfall seeps through the soil, absorbing carbon dioxide and reacting with decaying vegetation. As a result, the water that reaches the soluble rock is acidic.

The acidic water causes the erosion of the soluble rock layers beneath the surface – eventually creating cavernous spaces.

The soil or sand over the limestone collapses into a sinkhole when it is no longer supported because of the cavity below. This final collapse of the surface might take anything from a few minutes to several hours. Read for more details on how they occur.

After reading the article, I’m left wondering how LTA can be so confident that the other lanes are safe*? Ain’t the other lanes sited on the same piece of land? It’s that to imagine that the hollow in the ground coincide with the lane: surely the hollow, if any, is spread over several lanes? As the article points out, holes can appear suddenly and unexpectedly, when there is a “tipping point’.

And if other sinkholes appear on other lanes: another “honest mistake”?

But let’s be fair, if the LTA had closed sections of the road while it conducts tests, and then found no other problems, the “Govt are bastards” brigade on Facebook, TRE, TOC, TRS and the internet would have a field day. And S’poreans who were inconvenienced by the road closure would bltch like bleating lambs too.

In first-world democracies, the emphasis would be safety over convenience, partly because govt’s and officials are afraid of lawsuits when people die. Here the culture seems to be public convenience over public safety (and cross fingers and hope no one dies). We had one example of this attitude when the public inquiry into MRT breakdowns, revealed that LTA was upset when SMRT wanted to extend disruption of service to conduct more checks. And the bitch brigade bitched when a minister dared to suggest that there might be a need to stop services to conduct checks or repairs. Nothing further was heard from him.

A balance has to be struck between public safety and public convenience, and this requires a consensus. Now wouldn’t this issue make a great topic for NatCon? And isn’t this issue connected to the issue of how many people we want here, given our population density. We are among the world’s most densely populated places.


*The patched-up sinkhole on Clementi Road has reappeared.

The gaping hole is about two-metre wide and a metre deep.

It was fixed on 4 March but it collapsed again on Friday.

A Land Transport Authority spokesperson said the affected lane was closed off immediately for repair works.

They are investigating the cause of the hole and are also conducting scans below the affected portion for any possible cavities.

The other lanes on Clementi Road remain safe. CNA

Don’t be like that leh, Lucky Tan

In Humour, Political governance on 04/03/2013 at 6:06 am

(Or “Let’s pang chance Lee Hsien Loong: he is dismantling the LKY House of Hard Truths that he,  GCT and other PAPpies constructed” )

True I agree that this is the Budget I would like to have seen in the early noughties

But let’s give PM some credit for not sailing full steam ahead like what dad and GCT seem to want, like the captain of the Titanic, into an iceberg. True the PAP govt would suffer if he continued the Way of Hard Truths, but so would we: we might get what PritamS and Show Mao in the cabinet: a PAP govt held up by the WP. And an economy that has gone to dogs (FT of course), literally. There is still time to correct the course, assuming, of course, that the PM and his cabinet have truly repented of the sins of the previous cabinets and of Goh Chok Tong’s premership where one LHL, Teo, Khaw, Hng Kiang, Tharman  and  Ng Eng Hen were leading ministers.

And true, it might be too late to avoid problems caused by the Way of Hard Truths.

But better late than never I say. Remember he only became unfettered as PM after the 2011 GE. Since 2004, he had been shackled to his predecessors who remained in the cabinet and who shared the same work space. Imagine any CEO having to share his office with his predecessors.

What I like about the Budget is the realisation (to me at least) by the PAP that just because everyone could be made better off by economic growth doesn’t mean that everyone will be made better off: there must be an institutional framework in place to ensure that the gains from growth are shared. Hence the return to the “old” CPF rates, and the govt subsidised salary increases, though I would like to know more about the link between the two. (Hopefully a PAP MP or Mrs Chiam can ask questions to clarify the matter. The WP MPs would be too busy preening themselves crowing about the measures copied from them. One word of advice to them: S’poreans are not daft. S/o JBJ, Mad Dog and TJS lost credibility with S’poreans when they wrongly claimed that the govy “stole” their ideas.)

Which neatly brings me back into the topic of giving our  PM some credit for changing the way things are done. Let’s take his lawyer’s letter against one Alex Au, a few months ago. Remember that incident? If you don’t just google it up on TRE.

As could have been expected, Lee Hsien Loong’s request to Alex Au to remove a defamatory posting met with howls and bitching from the Jedi of the internet. You can read all about it at TRE and TOC. Even the self-styled People’s Voice, TKL, joined in.  When he joins in, you know that the issue has been blown way out of all proportion.

One day I will go into some detail on why PM was right to (I’m waiting for the PAP to offer me some goodies first, like say an AIM-like contract) ask him to remove the post.

But here are the powerpoint points (partly so that PAP can see how gd I can be at defending PM (and other PAPpies, at least better than PR expert Baey and the PAP’s allies in the media)

— he (PM) is doing what we (OK at least me) would all love to do when we are defamed or ridiculed;

— he’s got the money, what with his salary;

— the post of PM should not be tarnished with unproven allegations of corruption directed at the person holding it; and

— Alex Au

—- wasn’t asked to cough up costs,

—- had form as a serial defamer of the PAPpies, and

—- has subversive tendencies and ideas.

(He also didn’t sue TJS for saying that the detention of the “Marxists” in 1988 was political: something that got one Tony Tan upset and screaming, “Defamation”. Instead he left TJS bang his balls in frustration that the Opposition parties ignore him despite his claim ,mathematically correct, that he got more votes in PE 2011 than the WP got in GE2011.)

And to be serious, remember that he changed the undemocratic policy of not holding by-elections for vacant seats, despite a court affirming that he, the PM has a discretion not to hold by-elections.  He could have chosen not to call by-elections in Houggang or Punggol East. But he did and ended up with a jab in the eye in Punggol East.

To sum up: PM’s a pretty decent guy, even if he was born with five silver spoons in his mouth, and a golden pram. He doesn’t go round micro-managing his ministers and senior civil servants. Or suing his critics. Or pretending to be “compassionate like GCT. His problem is that he has to sack a few more non-performers and more importantly humiliate them publicly, so that S’poreans feel “shiok” that even tua kees can be castrated publicly. Imagine if he had humiliated the clownish four: GCT, Wong, Mah and Raymond. S’poreans would be cheering him.

And finally, to repeat something I wrote earlier, he only became a real PM after the May 2011 election. Before that he was a neutered mentored PM (since 2004), and before that a meritocratic society’s version of the hereditary Dauphin or Prince of Wales, except of course that unlike them he got there by virtue of a President and SAF scholarships,  Double First at Cambridge and career in the SAF.

And while the u/m is something that his dad or Goh Chok Tong might have introduced to deter crime, punish criminals and raise revenues, I some how doubt that PM would introduce this US practice.

When a crime is committed there’s often talk of the criminal owing a debt to society – paid back through community service, fines or a prison term … In many American states, ex-offenders leave prison owing fees and fines to the court – possibly $50 (£31) for police transport, or $35 (£22) to a victims’ fund, or $100 (£62) for some unspecified administrative fee.

But in Philadelphia, you can also owe money for missing court dates before your imprisonment – and these sums run into thousands of dollars.

 Those fines ratchet up the bill quickly, with some people who thought they’d paid for their criminal past discovering that they now owe tens of thousands of dollars.

So let’s cut him some slack, and see how much more to dad’s house he demolishes, even if he and his gang helped built much of the unattractive features.

Li Jiawei proves TRE readers right

In Political governance on 28/12/2012 at 6:21 am

When she retires, what does she do? Move on from S’pore, back to China.

Juz shows that the many TRE readers who doubted her loyalty to S’pore were right! Readers that were criticised by govt ministers with lots of academic qualifications.

Ministers, in yr NatCon, listen to TRE readers, though I must admit some of them are wackos. The wackos are the s’pore self-loathers.

NatCon: Dialogue in the Dark

In Political economy, Political governance on 03/12/2012 at 7:09 am

“Dialogue in the Dark (DiD) is a social enterprise that aims to educate the public on the experience of blindness, ” writes MSF S’pore (Kee Chui Chan’s ministry)

Tot it should be appropriated as a description of NatCon.

Now to more serious matters.

PM on Wednesday talked of the need to have a government prepared to plan long-term. Bit rich of him to talk about this given the admitted problems in public housing and public transport that the govt’s policy of bringing in FTs by the container-loads have caused. I mean what were Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim doing? They even denied there were problems in public housing and public transport.

And waz the point of long-term planning if the plans are  lousy or execution bad? I’ve remarked before that the drive for greater productivity began around the time I started work: in the late 1970s. I’ve retired since then, and still there is a problem about productivity. And in the early 1980s, one LKY was ordering graduate S’porean mothers to breed, lest S’pore depopulates. His son is pleading with S’poreans to have more babies.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the National Conversation important in govt’s decision making. So important that the govt finds it necessary to frame the questions that we can ask it? “By early next year, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat expects to announce themes which the committee spearheading a national conversation about Singapore’s future will focus on,” CNA report.

Might as well prepare model answers? From the papers coming out from the Institute of Policy Studies (like the one setting out various growth scenarios dependent on the level of immigration) and government ministries (like the one on growth and population by the National Population & Talent Division of the PM’s office), and the articles in the constructive, nation-building ST by its economics correspondent and various senior writers, I will not be surprised if “model” answers will soon be available.

(Even the BBC and BBH, an ad agency, are helping out on the birth rate issue.)

And there will be prizes for the WP MPs who recite these answers perfectly. Yes, yes I know WP will not take part in NatCon, but they regularly support the PAP, after saying they disagree with the govt (instances).

And yesterday, PM highlighted three key goals (OB markers?):

—  “a vibrant economy by creating good jobs for everyone, as well as a harmonious society where people can enjoy a balanced and fulfilling life.”

— “a meritocratic system where people succeed based on their effort and contributions, along with special effort to help those who start off with less to do well in school and upgrade at work.”

— “to build a Singapore where citizens belong and feel as one, as well as an open, cosmopolitan city that welcomes foreigners with the skills and talents to help the country succeed.”

Mr Lee said the balance between these goals — just like yin and yang elements — will change will over time.The government, he said, is in the process of adjusting them.”

Right, so on top of given questions and model answers, boundaries are set. We can only talk about asking govt to adjusting them.

Err, is there anything left to discuss?

And if get scared by all the talk about the future doom and gloom if the PAPpies don’t the rule the roost, this is a useful antidote from America: it may not be our problem. We might be dead by then.

NatCon: More cynical than Wayang?

In Economy, Political governance on 10/10/2012 at 5:52 am

Many (self included) think that NatCon is Wayang. But could it be even more cynical? Is NatCon’s aim  to distract us from the govt’s mismanagement of the economy. This unworthy tot struck me when I read DBS’ analysis of the S’pore economy last week.

DBS says that high inflation in recent years is mainly made in Singapore and this has affected overall competitiveness. High COE premiums and rentals, as well as the continued increase in labour cost are the key drivers. Ironically, the bulk of these were policy-induced, it said. [Translation: Inflation is fault of the govt leh]

It goes on, “The tightening in foreign labour inflow in particular, is creating significant strain on enterprises and eroding Singapore’s cost competitiveness. The near- term impact is higher labour costs, compression of profit margins and the tendency for companies to pass on this higher cost to consumers, resulting in higher inflation. Thus, in a bid to restructure the economy, growth and competitiveness have been affected, and just when the global cycle is weak.” [Translation: The govt’s policy of reducing FT inflow is making it more difficult to growth the economy]

So given that stagflation (economy not growing or is shrinking, but inflation is remains high: “Singapore’s consumer price index rose 3.9 percent in August from the year before, more than double the 1.7 percent rate in the U.S., the world’s biggest economy. Inflation in the island state averaged 5 percent for the past year<” reports Bloomberg) is the fault of the govt, what would distract the masses and netizens more than get them engaged in something irrelevant and entertaining? Even if the netizens don’t take part, they are so busy bitching abt it that they forget (or don’t realise the economy ‘s failings) to criticise and highlight the mismanagement of the economy by the government. So NatCon is the PAP’s answer, juz like in Roman times, the emperors had “Bread and circuses” to keep the rabble in Rome happy and distracted when the barbarians were crossing the frontiers?

Waz sad is that PM thinks he has to resort to gimmicks like this. He made a gd start getting rid of underperformers and supernumeries in the cabinet. He then started spending our money on making life more comfortable for us. He should execute the latter well, not get distracted by PR gimmicks.  If executed well, spending more of our money on ourselves will win back the voters.


“Honest conversation” on FTs: Let’s have it, not juz pretend that we’ve having it, Iswaran

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 05/10/2012 at 6:16 am

S’poreans must have honest conversation about immigration: S Iswaran late last week. But will we be allowed to, minister?

No, I’m not talking abt what Uncle Leong pointed out about the growth in FTs despite all the talk of by the government of it being curtailed. The analysis and comments of Uncle Leong and many others based on the government’s very own data has resulted in this attempt via originally new media (then amplified by the constructive, nation-building media) at damage control.

And let’s ignore what rogue scholar, TJS, has somewhere analysed*: that it’s not true declining population lead to economic ruin. He is after all, as Lawrence Wong, would put it “anti-PAP”. And he could even, at a stretch, be classified as one of Sim Ann’s  demons who  “spew hate and prejudice against individuals or groups”. Remember, he bitched against bungalow owning ministers, when, I’m told, he too has a bungalow.

No: My complaint is why don’t we get told how well Japan is doing?

A country has three choices when its TFR (total fertility rate) drops Get the TFR back up; encourage immigration; and do nothing i.e. let the population age.

Most countries try to increase TFR, some succeed. Japan tried it, failed and as it doesn’t do immigration, it prefers to use robots, it is managing the decline in population.

Japan has shown, a country with a declining population can still do better than other developed countries as figures from HSBC (published earlier this year) show which contradict the doom and gloom that one LKY says abt Japan.

Growth per capita in the 2001-2010 decade

Japan 1.6%

UK 1.2%

Germany 0.8%

US 0.7%

France 0.6%

And looking at the overall GDP numbers, Japan’s record is as good as that of the Germans, who now have created the Fourth Reich in Europe.

US 1.6%

UK 1.5%

France 1.2%

Germany 0.8%

Japan 0.8%

So the Japanese have well, considering their aging and declining population. Perhaps our PM should be listening to them, and trying to take some tips, especially on the use of robots (say to replace Lawrence Wong and Sim Ann who seem to be stuck with some PAP robotic messages that are a throwback to when LKY ruled the roost). And get dad to stop talking rot on Japan.

As to the need of the elderly population needing younger S’poreans to pay taxes to keep the place going, that both PM and Tharman mumble about, ain’t the governing PAP forgetting that it instituted the CPF system precisely to avoid a “Pay as You Go” social security system. (OK, OK, I’m unfair on the PAP on this but two can play the BS game.)

It’s you die, if you got no CPF (Don’t look to VivianB for help. He will only sneer at you for being poor) So by the PAP’s own account, the elderly (like me) don’t need a growing and younger workforce to support.

So Minister, although you are a Hindoo, somehow I think this verse from the bible is applicable to you (and your fellow ministers) when it comes to having an “honest conversation” about FTs:

(Note “mote” means “a particle of wood or chaff” i.e. it’s very, very tiny)

Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.


*Sorry no link as I’m not too impressed by his analysis. He left out that his favourite Nordic countries tax its people too much for my taste.