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Posts Tagged ‘Yeoh Lam Keong’

Our Dissident voices are learning from the Russian dissidents?

In Political governance on 05/02/2017 at 4:51 am

Yesterday The Agora hosted  FOSG (Future Of Singapore).

SOSG had a second conversation on Singapore economy past, present and future led by Yeoh Lam Kwong, former chief economist of GIC held at the Agora. A 3-hour long discussion with a full house audience. More young people than the previous one!

Lam Keong summarised the early period under the rubric of a “socialism that works” this was followed by a “capitalism the didn’t quite work” the future from 2011 is towards a social democracy that hopefully works. This is the challenge given the resources of the “estate of the state”. That in comparison to OECD standards Singapore has a lot of scope to improve. A lively discussion ended with a video presentation on the highlights of “Singapore 2.0 – Aging in Place” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjlGE2VfA_I&t=81s). There was a sense of energy throughout the discussion. Please look out for announcements on future sessions on FOSG.

Three cheers for The Agora, SOSG and Lam Keong.

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“Educate, agitate, organise.”This was George Bernard Shaw’s famous call to action for the British left-wing. He’s best remembered today for the musical “My fair Lady” which is based on a play of his . He hated the musical. I like the ending of the musical better.

In his heyday he was both a leading intellectual (he was one of the founders of the Fabian Society, still influential in moderate left-wing circles in the UK), and a commercially succesful playwright.

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The Agora, SOSG and Lam Keong are educating S’poreans and perhaps this is better than the posturings of Mad Dogs like Amos, Dr Chee and M Ravi, and the BS of cybernuts like Philip Ang, Tan Jee Say, Roy Ngerng etc.

What follows is a long extract from the Economist on how the Russian intellectuals are using public lectures, intellectual discussions and cultural events to push back against an authoritarian, repressive state that brooks no dissent (Sounds familiar?).

Although the state today suppresses independent civil and political activity, it allows a lot more personal freedom than it did in 1979 … Since the mainstream media are mostly pumping out government propaganda, Russia’s modern intellectuals have got involved in cultural projects. Public lectures by notable scholars, both Russian and foreign, on subjects from urbanism to artificial intelligence gather mass audiences. Tickets to such talks sell out within hours. Every night dozens of events take place in Moscow and other cities. Book fairs attract queues to rival those for pop concerts. A new shopping centre in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, has organised a book round-table as one of its opening events.

Public lectures, intellectual discussions and excursions have evolved into a business. “Ten years ago, to raise money from investors, you needed to say only one word: ‘media’. Today all you have to say is ‘education’,” says Yuri Saprykin, a former editor of Afisha, a listings magazine that helped shape the tastes of the urban middle class. The trend started a few years ago when a site called “Theory and practice” began to provide a wide variety of courses and lectures. The young are wild about classical music and art museums. “If you are not learning something outside your work, you are a loser,” says Ms Kosinskaya.

Mr Dziadko, the grandson of Soviet dissidents and human-rights activists, and a group of friends have launched a popular multimedia education and entertainment project called Arzamas, a name borrowed from a 19th-century literary society of which Pushkin was a member. The subjects range from Elizabethan theatre and medieval French history to the anthropology of communism and the mythology of South Africa. A few months ago Arzamas organised an evening lecture about Joan of Arc, including a recital of medieval music, at Moscow’s main library. “We thought it would be attended by a few intellectuals. But when we turned up 15 minutes before the lecture, we saw a long queue of young people and hipsters trying to get in,” says Mr Dziadko.

The boom in “enlightenment” projects is not so much a reversal of the rise of consumerism in the previous decade but a complement to it. Just as Russian people were suddenly presented with a vast choice of consumer goods, they now have a large array of intellectual pursuits to choose from. And whereas Russia’s government can impose a ban on imports of Western food, barring the spread of knowledge is much harder.

The main producers and consumers of these enlightenment projects are young Westernised Russians who are part of a global culture. Their pursuit of a wide range of knowledge is a way of fighting the isolationism and aggressive obscurantism imposed by both state and church. This takes many forms, from banning modern-art shows to organising anti-gay campaigns, promoting anti-Darwinism and attempting to stop abortions.

Popular books about biology and physics currently sell better than detective stories. Yulia Shakhnovskaya, the director of the Moscow Polytechnic Museum, where Evgeny Yevtushenko read his poetry in the 1960s, says that education and science have become a form of resistance to politics. “We can’t win but that does not mean we should stop resisting, so we try to grow a garden in the middle of hell.” She says her main target audience is teenage schoolchildren, who are desperate for knowledge: “Good marks are no longer the main prerequisite for getting a good job in Russia…but the demand for knowledge is still there, so we try to satisfy it by other means.”

Ms Shakhnovskaya’s patrons include Igor Shuvalov, the first deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, and Anatoly Chubais, the father of Russia’s privatisation programme. They are helping to promote an educated and emancipated elite that could gradually begin to change the system, which is what happened in the 1980s.

For now at least, the educated urban class does not pose a serious political threat to Mr Putin. But it represents a different and more fundamental challenge that has to do with values and ideas. Some of the most striking independent public-lecture projects recently launched had titles such as “The return of ethics” and “Public lies”, involving both Western and Russian philosophers, economists, sociologists and writers.

This new generation of educated young urbanites has criticised Russian politicians and opinion-formers of the 1990s and 2000s for viewing human-rights abuses and the lack of independent courts as unfortunate impediments to business and foreign investment, rather than bad things in themselves. Yet “despite the total amorality of politicians and bureaucrats, or maybe because of it, the demand for ethics in the public sphere is growing, not falling,” says Andrei Babitsky, a former editor of the Inliberty website that organised the lectures on ethics and lies. The power of ideas should never be underestimated, especially in Russia.

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21708882-young-people-are-finding-new-ways-signalling-dissent-tell-me-about-joan-arc

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Cybernuts curse top economists

In Economy on 27/04/2015 at 4:37 am

Many of those who disagreed with the policies and actions of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet government and actively protested against these actions were sent to mental health institutes on the grounds that they were mentally ill. The reasoning was that only those mentally ill could think that the ruling communist party could do anything wrong.

Well, we have our anti-PAP cybernuts who are living proof that not all critics of the PAP administration are sensible, rational people like me.

Below is a piece,  I posted in the wrong place on this blog, binned it by accident and couldn’t recover  it, but TRE republished somehow. Waz’s funny and sad is that the cybernuts that congregate at TRE’s “comments” section like rats and bed bugs congregate at Bukit Batok and said nasty things about the economists Yeoh and Low, while commending and praising people like Roy Ngerng, Philip Ang, Ng Kok Lim and Uncle RedBean.

The only printable thing I can report is that they said that these economists talk rubbish because they couldn’t change govt policy when they were insiders.

Cybernuts indeed.

TRE discovers retired GIC

Actually it’s a TRE reader that discovered the economist.

Hopefully TRE readers start reading Yeoh Lam Keong’s pieces because he is a lot more economic literate than most of their heroes: people like Roy Ngerng, Philip Ang, Ng Kok Lim and Uncle RedBean.

Yeoh Lam Keong’s criticisms of govt policies are founded on facts and proven (or at least academically accepted) economic models , not BS or hot air. As are those of Donald Low: I’m now glad that TRE ie republishing Donald Low’s stuff.

Interesting while TRE is getting less and less the place where anti-PAP cybernuts gather, TOC (never a place of the anti-PAP cybernuts: in fact TOC made it respectable and fashionable to criticise the PAP administration online, showing that it could be done in a professional manner) is becoming the Hammer on-line. Hopefully the WP MPs will fund TOC from their MP allowances of $15,000 a month each. If no money is coming from the WP (WP not known to be supportive of allies) will leading members of TeamTOC be standing for election under the WP banner?

Even an eminent economist also can’t ‘tahan’ SG govt

Folks, I read two postings on Yeoh Lam Keong’s FB yesterday that I think are worth sharing.

 

Lam Keong is a prominent economist in Singapore and is heavily involved in public policy research. He is currently a private economic consultant and the Vice-President of the Economic Society of Singapore (ESS). He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, where he lectures on economics and social policy, as well as a Fellow of the Civil Service College.

You can google for the profound and inspiring socio-political writings of Lam Keong like these three on “Behind Singapore Inc”..

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/behind-singapore-inc—part-i—the-growing-class-of–working-poor-.html

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/behind-singapore-inc–part-ii—%E2%80%98gov%E2%80%99t-must-rethink-delivery-of-public-services%E2%80%99.html

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/behind-singapore-inc—part-iii—%E2%80%98pap-must-return-to-its-roots%E2%80%99.html

Here’s what he posted on his FB a/c yesterday.

(1) In pointing to an excellent, thought provoking essay by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh (who co-authored the book “Hard Choices – Challenging The Singapore Consensus” with Donald Low).

“But sentiment is changing. Perhaps this moment, now, as we celebrate fifty years of independence, may herald the peak of our devotion to the old man. For the many problems brewing in Singapore society are, in fact, symptoms of the values he fostered. Yawning inequalities threaten cohesion and tilt the playing field, undermining social mobility. Elite governance has bred a seemingly entitled class out of touch with ordinary people.

The homogenous political landscape can no longer satisfy the demands of an increasingly sophisticated electorate. Persistent attempts to crimp free expression have dulled creativity. The heavy use of carrots and sticks has nurtured a population primed to extrinsic incentives but starved of intrinsic direction. And by defining progress in such narrow monetary terms, he has contributed to a vacuous sense of national identity.”

Read the rest here:-

http://poskod.my/features/remembering-lee-kuan-yew-singapores-mercurial-father/

(2) On Amos Yee versus Edz Ello…”Is there an inconsistency in the rule of law here?”

“Is there an inconsistency in the rule of law here? Amos Yee has since taken down all the offending materials or made them private and out of public site. However, other netizens have re-uploaded the content online in other places where he is unable to remove it. In a statement, the police explained that they take a stern view of any acts which could threaten religious harmony in Singapore…..

“Any person who uploads offensive content online with deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person will be firmly dealt with in accordance with the law,” they said.

l

Regards;

Frank
Submitted by TRE reader.

Moving on from Hard Truths To Hard Choices

In Economy, Political governance on 11/02/2015 at 4:40 am

“We have to move on because I don’t think we can tie ourselves to the past forever. The past is there for us to learn from, not for us to be shackled by,”Ms Aung San Suu Kyi recently said to the FT.

The Hard Truths are all about individual responsibility, selfless collective effort (example: LKY’s and other of the old guards’ salaries), lean social security and growth over distribution (growing the pie, not slicing it or eating it: waz the point of not eating it, juz growing it, I must ask?),

Whatever, Hard Truths were the basis of a successful social contract: S’poreans’ voting for and acquiescing in an authoritarian one-party (defacto)  state in return for material prosperity. The critics of the social contract like JBJ and Dr Chee argued (when they were rational and not on ego trips) that the cost was too high: an elected government that captures the courts, silences media critics and tinkers with the constitution to perpetuate its rule.

It was a winning formula notwithstanding their rants (or should they be prophetic warnings?) because many S’potreans (think me, despite having voted Oppo all my life because I tot PAP hegemony would not be good for the PAP and S’pore) judged that the PAP way as the right way to “get on and better ourselves”. After all Dr Chee and JBJ were upper middle crusts, not middle, middle class, lower middle class or working class. The latter even sent his kids to a posh English private school that prided it on turning out upper class English gents. To be fair to him and his sons, the boys didn’t go to the really posh schools, Eton, Winchester or Westminster. They went to a school more akin to St Andrews, where JBJ studied. As for Dr chee, he attended ACS: need I say more?

But, snide remarks aside, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils Himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” (Alfred Tennyson,”Morte D’Arthur”).

The facts have changed. That social contract – optimal for places with young populations, rapid growth, full employment, and rising real wages – “would not be sufficient to ensure equitable and inclusive growth in the face of the changes unleashed by globalization, rapid technological change, and our own policies,”  argued five economists  in a paper released Monday on the IPS website. The authors include academics and former senior civil servants who carry significant heft in policy-making circles, including Manu Bhaskaran, a partner at consultancy Centennial Group and adjunct research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Donald Low, a former senior bureaucrat at Singapore’s finance ministry; Tan Kim Song, an economics professor at the Singapore Management University; and Yeoh Lam Keong, former chief economist at the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.

Analysts widely believe that the days of double- and high single-digit growth rates year-in, year-out are things of the past; Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said the city-state would do well to average annual growth of over 3% in the coming decade.

(http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2012/01/16/singapore-inc-needs-a-rethink-economists-say/)

In simple English these five were saying (my translation), “What is happening now is that ordinary people no longer have a sense that improving one’s lot in life is possible. Many S’poreans find themselves stuck, not getting on, doing their best not to go backwards.” They were like the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass:running frantically to stay in place.

These economists were making public in 2012 an argument that has been around since the late 1990s and early noughties. Something that s/o JBJ should remember when he claims that his ideas are being “borrowed” by the PAP: there is nothing new under the sun.

Happily for those of us who do not a one-party state, the PAP instead of listening continued to repeat, even louder, the Hard Truths of one LKY, especially the one on FTs being the future.

The PAP forget that politics is all about adapting to changing circumstances and navigating change. It was a deep intellectual failure of the PAP to understand and adapt to changed circumstances. It continued with its politics of growing the pie but not allowing people to eat more.

In 2014, we had Hard Choices. Two Singaporeans,  Donald Low (the same as the one mentioned above) and Sudhir Vadaketh, published a book that argued against the way the PAP govt provides housing and social support, and questioned how it has dealt with values such as meritocracy and identity.

At the launch of “Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus”, they said they wanted to encourage us to question the public policy beliefs and practices that had become hard truths.

Low said: “We think that policymakers, and Singaporeans in general, should be less guided by hard truths, the ideologies, policies and practices that have served us well in the past 30 to 40 years, and be more guided by this idea that perhaps there are few hard truths, there are very few eternal truths.

“The far more meaningful debate we should be having is what are the choices we realistically have.”

One such choice is whether Singapore must be a global city, said Vadaketh. He said the antagonism towards foreigners in Singapore is a result of tensions between those who see Singapore as a global city with a global identity and those who want it to have a more local identity. I would disagree with him here, it’s more about the belief that FTs help repress the wages of local PMETs and the PAP’s  administration ignoringpeople’s concerns about the impact on wages and employmentof an FT flood.

Mr Low and Mr Vadaketh wrote most of the 15 essays in the book, which also includes contributions from Dr Linda Lim, professor of strategy at the University of Michigan, and Dr Thum Ping Tjin, research fellow at the Asia Research Institute in NUS.

Mr Low hoped for a return of “the debate that used to characterise the Singapore Government” He referred to a 1972 speech by former deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee that raised concerns over Singapore’s continued reliance on foreign investments and foreign workers for economic growth. “I think we have regressed,” because debate had been “sucked out of the system” because of the Government’s success.

I disagree with him here. Unlike the likes of Dr Goh, Ngiam Tong Dow, Pillay, Howe Yoon Chong, the younger ministers and senior civil ,servants are more Catholic than the pope. They had to: who chose them to succeed the old guard, ministers and senior civil servants?

But let’s not think that the PAP is doomed like the dodo.

Bear in mind that Donald Low is the associate dean for executive education and research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Yeoh Lam Keong* is an an adjunct professor there too (in the days of Hard Truths), they’d be in exile to avoid the ISD)  and that Hard Choices saw the light of day (would have been banned)

Finally, pls note the policies advocated in Hard Choices are not too dissimilar in spirit and outline from those that the SDP is proposing (spin on the latest version). They are about

— whether people’s hard work would be rewarded by an improvement in their living standards (or how o make surepeople who worked hard to build a good life for their families got a fair deal); and

— controlling the quantity and quality of people that come into S’pore (which incidentally is a primary duty of government that this PAP administration has seemingly forgotten).

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*One of above five and former chief economist at the Government of Singapore Investment Corp

His latest piece:http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/02/singapores-social-compact-trilemma-the-dynamics-of-a-critically-uncertain-national-future/