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"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"


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The Art of PAPsplaining

There’s mansplaining, womansplaining…there’s also whitesplaining….then there’s PAPsplaining in Singapore and for Singaporeans only.

Wiki, BBC, Merriam-Webster explain the various meanings. I’m here to try to capture how in our Uniquely Singapore context, our ruling, dominant political leaders have been “PAPsplaining” issues – and failures, in particular – to us Singaporeans.

What is PAPsplaining?
PAPsplaining is when members, especially leaders, of the governing People’s Action Party try to explain a situation in such a way as to assume the intended Singaporean audience is all mostly daft or/and they think they can get away with their none-the-wiser explanation. PAPsplanation defects blame away from the PAPsplainer.

Government ministers are most prone to PAPsplaining when the situation is an especially bad one, like the death (again) of another precious Son of Singapore during NS training. That is when they try to PAPsplain blame away from themselves. They sometimes preface it with the sounds of the words of sadness/regret if the situation so warrants.

The evident effectiveness of PAPsplaining is when Singaporeans end up none the wiser but the PAP leaders are allowed, without any question from or in the mass media whatsoever, to continue doing the same PAPsplaining another day.

Here are recent examples of PAPsplaining (or PAPsplanation)

1. Heng Swee Kiat and Gan Kim Yong
In response to a Feb 1 LianHe ZaoBao editorial, Heng basically echoed all the previous “PAPsplanations” for all the recent failures that the LianHe editor raised to support the observation and concern that, perhaps, the government has “gone slack”. Heng, failed to explain how it has come about that, unlike in previous decades, all the recent failures appear to converge recently. That is the crux of the issue – not how each failure – individually occurred. But why they all come together NOW – which may indicate underlying slackness in leadership.

No, Heng simply responded, “I reject the suggestion” that this cabinet has allowed the whole system to go slack, re-PAPsplained all the recent failures in “National Service training deaths, SingHealth cyberattack and the HIV data leak”, pinning blame on lower ranks. Not taking responsibility as leaders.

Similarly, Gan also came out to echo “I reject” any allegation of cover-up by his ministry in the HIV data leak. Yay, sure, failing to reveal since 2016, is not a “cover-up”. “On the one hand, there is the need to be transparent,” he elaborated. “On the other hand, we need to consider the impact of an announcement on the affected persons with HIV – would it serve their interest, or harm them instead?”

That consideration didn’t apply to the 8 deaths from Hep C infection. Then, there was no need to consider “the impact of an announcement” since the 8 were already dead and gone. Instead, the PAPsplanation then was not to create a “blame culture”.

2. Ng Eng Hen and Lee Hsien Loong
It took 4 deaths in 17 months – and a long 19 days after Aloysius Pang’s death – before Ng to come forward to say “I am deeply sorry”. His ministerial statement in the 11 Feb 19 parliament is little different from all previous ones.

You know, where your time is, there your heart will be also. Never mind his touching words, in all his nearly 8 years as Defence Minister, did we ever read of Ng showing up time and time again at SAF training exercises to speak to and emphasise the need for safe training? Nope. Not once. Just check his Facebook entries. Zilch. Zero.

If the top dog pays only lip service to Safety, First, what do you think those Chiefs of Defence, Chiefs of Army and the lowly Training Safety Officers were doing about safety? Why am I not surprised to learn of death #11, a.k.a CFC Aloysius Pang?

We are left with yet another same-same-but-different COI – and none the wiser why our NS sons keep dying during training.

Then, after 3 weeks, Lee Hsien Loong pitched in to say the obvious, “We know zero fatalities is extremely hard to achieve” and “We cannot outsource our security and defence to anyone else”.

Mr Highest-paid Politician in the World, please tell us something we don’t already know!

3. Monkey hear, monkey say
So, the PAPsplaining habit continues down the line of leadership. Here’s Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education) Low Yen Ling PAPsplaining why Mikhy F Brochez was employed with fake qualifications, “there is unfortunately no system that is able to exhaustively keep out those who are out to lie and cheat,” Please lah, tell us something we don’t already know!

She also revealed that “prior to hiring Brochez, both polytechnics had carried out the pre-employment checks by verifying Brochez’s educational certificates against ‘original’ certificates he produced.” And the answer is to PAPsplain away the failure in diligence, in HR practice? What a joke! Our education services’ due diligence has been not the current highest “best practice” that the private head-hunters do.
Should we be surprised that the PAPsplaining virus has infected the entire political leadership in Singapore? It’s an Art Form, actually. No PAP-smear needed. Or can help – except to vote wisely.

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When It Is Time & Right To Resign

Making the rounds are commentaries and comments similar to “What good does it do if he resigns? Guarantee no more deaths? Better to focus on making long-overdue changes”. It is deeply concerning because some of those arguments, on the surface, appear reasonable, even convincing.

Defence Minister Ng has promised “an(other) independent COI” for Aloysius – deja vu? To those expecting long-overdue change, Einstein has this for you;

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

Just ask yourself; Was death #11 a.k.a CFC Aloysius Pang a different result after independent COI #9 or 10 under Minister Ng?

People, here’s why Mr Ng has to go.

Where his time is, there his heart is also
And out of the abundance of one’s heart, the mouth speaks. So, peruse his Facebook words and how he was not spending time with soldiers to talk and push for safety after SCT Ee Chun Sheng died 2/8/2011 in Ama Keng, shortly after he took over defence 21/5/2011.

He did utter the sound of these words in Parliament, no less, “Especially painful is when young National Servicemen who are serving their full-time die – all of us feel it acutely…We must strive hard for zero training deaths because any death is one too many. And I believe it can be done.” Sounds good.

But he also deftly made clear, “The Chief of Defence Force, the Service Chiefs have assured me that safety has always been, and will continue to get their highest command attention, to achieve zero fatalities.” Tellingly, no “I will take it upon myself to see through this change.”

Minister Ng’s – and that of PM Lee’s cabinet – playbook is like this: Express grief (SAF, SGH, SMRT etc), convene COI, make ministerial statements, punish the lowest in the organisation chain, re-state commitment to zero fatalities. Then, “Let’s move on.”

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

Statistically, there were “three deaths last nine months (30 Apr 18 to 23 Jan 19) under Minister Ng”. One dead son every 3 months vs 7 the prior 80 months.

In all the above 3 deaths, practically all the leaders were different – save ONE. The situations were different, likewise all those conducting the training – save ONE. That ONE person is Ng Eng Hen, in his pole position as minister.

What’s publicly available on the scant word count and time that he, in his 8 years as Defence Minister, has expended on the issue of training safety and death prevention, it is clear that his heart matched not his words of commitment. If so, guess where the hearts of his Chiefs of Defence, Army, Services Chiefs and down-the-line commanders are?

Therefore, to continue with the same top leadership intoning the sound of the same words of grief, of concern, of commitment to safety but expecting different outcomes for our sons we entrust to them is insanity, plain and simple.

Mr Ng must go.

The Thousand Mile Journey to Safety Begins With The First Catalytic Step
Mr Ng falling on his sword will act to catalyse the overdue mindset change of “safety first” above all else. Yes, even first before realism in training. What good is a dead trainee from training realistically – who cannot be there in real life when needed?

With 11 deaths in 8 years, Mr Ng’s continued tenure at Mindef is an albatross that impedes change. If that isn’t the case, why did Aloysius have to chip in his life – as if 10 deaths weren’t alarming enough.

Is he honourable enough to lead by adhering to SAF’s Code of Conduct Rule #1, “We always honour our Nation. We will do everything to uphold it and nothing to disgrace it.” If the top dog disregards the 1st rule of honour (halting more sons dying needlessly ranks  a top honourable act, no?), it is simply disgraceful.

Mr Ng, please take the first step. Go.

It’s About More Than Just Mindef, It’s About Political Leadership Culture
Minister Ng’s resignation is only a catalyst, hopefully.

Only citizens unthinkingly ensconced in PAP-Straits Times Propaganda Land and incurious outsiders will fail to see or understand but be misled by the mirage of a physically beautiful outward Singapore. Ours is a 60-year, unbroken, brook-no-dissent PAP leadership that has evolved a Never-My-Fault ministerial culture.

Since LKY sacked Lim Chee Oon in 1983 as minister-without-portfolio and NTUC sec-gen, no minister has been sacked or resigned due to incompetence or accountability. Only in Singapore, even with 8 Hep C deaths by negligence, can PM Lee still unapologetically re-appoint Gan Kim Yong as Health Minister in 2015. Lee, of course, unashamedly said, the Mas Selamat (the terrorist) escape “has happened, what to do?…let’s move forward”.

That Never-My-Fault leadership culture has since metamorphosed into the more, PR-palatable “collective government responsibility” where every minister is teflon-coated, unanswerable, untouchable, irreplaceable.

Mr Ng, you are not indispensable. This is not personal. Singapore’s defence is more than one man. Let your last, honourable minister’s act serve as the catalyst to purge the toxic, miasmic lack of ministerial answerability of your cabinet colleagues for all our sons’ sake.

You know it; you know the cabinet inner workings, you know Singaporeans have no means (via state-controlled mass media) to tell you so loud enough.

If Mr Ng doesn’t go, he invariably helps to perpetuate the travestied leadership and governance culture to Singapore’s detriment – and more lives lost.

Conclusion
Therefore, the “what good does it do to resign” reasoning, is but a sneaky, clandestine attempt to change the narrative, the focus on what truly needs to be done to do right by all our dead NS sons. A red herring.

Another life in return for just another wayang COI – is that what we want? The minister atop the hierarchy continues without shame in his role – is that what we want?

O, how many more young deaths must we mourn?

Are we all insane to expect PAP’s repeated, rehashed COI approach to ownself-change-ownself?

Just you wait till another mother’s heart breaks. Tick tock.

 

Law Kim Hwee


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Where is thy honour, Mr Ng Eng Hen?

I write this now at 0245 hours, 24 Jan 2019. It’s not possible to go back to sleep after I awoke to take a pee and happened on the Yahoo-reported news of death of Aloysius Pang based on an SAF news release dated 23 Jan 2019, 2329 hours i.e. less than 2 hours 45 mins when Corporal First Class (NS) Aloysius died at Waikato Hospital, New Zealand.

Now, in a short space of a mere nine months,

Pte Lee Han Xuan Dave on 30 Apr 2018
Pte Lui Kai on 3 Nov 2018
CFC Aloysius Pang on 23 Jan 2019

have all died.

And, of course, it is Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), that “The Ministry of Defence and the SAF extend their deepest condolences to the family of CFC (NS) Pang and will continue to render assistance and support in their time of loss.”

And, as is the norm in Singapore, when a precious, priceless, ir-revivable, ir-resurrectable life is lost, no less – I’d say, but no more – than “An independent Committee of Inquiry will be convened to investigate the circumstances leading to the incident.”

Singapore has what is touted as the best government and cabinet in the whole wide world, with million $$$ salaries to match. Salaries that are the absolute highest in the world – I’d say, in the history of mankind. But for lesser than S$53,000/- p.a. (NT$1,180,940) or 5% of a Singapore minister’s salary, the Taiwanese (and others) get a defence minister who took full responsibility and resigned from just one conscript death.

But no sir, Singapore ministers are untouchable, irreplaceable. With the PAP’s uninterrupted and absolute power for 60 years, a debased leadership concept of “collective government responsibility” i.e. “the responsibility of Government was a collective one, and no minister carried difficult problems like public transport alone”, under PM Lee Hsien Loong has become, I’d say, absolute currency.

So, will Mr Ng Eng Hen do the honourable thing to take responsibility for 3 deaths in 9 months and, horrors! resign? If our nation’s recent past is any indication, Mr Ng’s will be a long time coming, I’d say, if ever.

Why? Well, the record of deaths where a minister has no honour and never given a full, transparent accounting is eight deaths. I speak of the 2015 SGH Hep C infections that hit 25 patients of which 8 died, 7 of those deaths likely linked to the infection. Still, Mr Gan Kim Yong was re-elected in GE 2015 and reappointed Health Minister even as the deaths were reported. Apparently, Singaporeans are either forgiving or unconcerned with honour or leaders taking full responsibility as Gan’s Chua Chu Kang GRC won 76.69% votes.

Now, let’s look at the publicly available info of the Defence Minister’s activities to see how engaged or concerned he was since Aloysius Pang was injured on 19 Jan. On Mr Ng’s FB, we read;

19 Jan: “Had good prata this morning at Clementi Road.” (Likely that he was not yet informed or Aloysius was still not injured.

20 Jan: Entire day spent at Bishan GRC’s community programme. (Total silence on Aloysius Pang.)

21 Jan: Found time to congratulate the Rep of Sgp Navy (RSN) Maritime Security Task Force on its 10th Anniversary. (But still total silence on Aloysius Pang.)

22 Jan: “I like these pieces of art for Singaporeans along Little India for ARTWALK Little India.” (Still, total silence on Aloysius Pang.)

23 Jan: (about 3 pm or only after 5 days! and about +5 hours before Aloysius Pang died)….Finally, some words about Aloysius Pang…and a very oft-repeated Americanized “our prayers go to CFC (NS) Pang to turn this difficult corner, as well as to his family members for strength.”

So, very, very sadly, all that Aloysius parents, siblings, relatives, friends, colleagues and Singaporeans will likely get to hear from Mr Ng Eng Hen at the scheduled press conference, if he shows up, after his only Facebook “our prayers go to CFC (NS) Pang to turn this difficult corner, as well as to his family members for strength”, will be the usual ‘our condolences…every death is unacceptable to me…an independent COI will be convened…(lower ranks?) will be punished if found at fault.’ FULL STOP.

On behalf of all Singaporeans, particularly those of us with sons, brothers, husbands and relatives currently serving National Service, allow me to remind Minister Ng that Mr Goh Keng Swee, our first Defence Minister, initiated and promulgated the SAF’s Code of Conduct. The First of the Six rules in the Code reads:

“We always honour our Nation. We will do everything to uphold it and nothing to disgrace it.”

You have been Defence Minister since 21 May 2011. In that +8 years, there have been 11 deaths under your watch. This compares with 7 reported ones from 9 Mar 1997 to 2010, 14 years (source: Wikipedia).

Unlike almost all the other cabinet ministers, I personally admire you as amongst only 2 or 3 ministers who quit their private sector million $ careers to serve the country. I doubt that you are serving (only) because of all the trappings of being always given first class treatment by the US Pentagon or NATO countries for the kind of taxpayers $$$ that you can authorise to spend on their hardware. Or that you can bring your wife to France for some couple quality time on 12 Jul 2018 (while being CEO, she deliberately chose to absent herself even as a “war room” had been initiated to look into SingHealth’s very serious cyber leak 2 days earlier, 10 Jul).

Where is thy honour, Mr Ng? If that you have not, according to Mr Goh Keng Swee’s Code for SAF, it is simply disgraceful.

 

Law Kim Hwee
24 Jan 2019, 0546 hours


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AN OPEN LETTER TO DR TAN CHENG BOCK

Dear Dr Tan 

It has been four months since the 28 July, SDP-initiated discussion to form a new opposition coalition. But there appears to be no progress since. If our past is prologue, the formation of any alliance is dead in the water. The 2001 Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) made no meaningful headway with only Mr Chiam See Tong retaining his pre-SDA Potong Pasir seat while SDA’s chairman Desmond Lim set the “record for the lowest percentage garnered in an election since Singapore’s independence” or 168 votes (0.57%)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Democratic_Alliance

There’s already a very well-written analysis of why the “coalition of convenience will not make minor opposition parties electable”. https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/08/15/coalition-of-convenience-will-not-make-minor-opposition-parties-electable/ 

I would like to add my observations.

Everyone wants to be secretary-general

…and not necessarily in the better interest of Singaporeans or the opposition cause. It’s mostly just to have a frontseat at the table. My GE2015 experiene suggested to me that most opposition parties have less than 100 members each and even lesser than 20 who are active.

 Consider; and one must wonder why, after being graciously accepted in April 2011 to contest under SDP in GE 2011 in May, some candidates would then decide to quit SDP to form anothernew political party. Or, what is one to make of another secretary-general-wannabe pledging “total commitment to the coalition” when there was no evidence of he ever seeking to work within existing, alternative parties? Instead he hastily formed another party after resigning from one.

Fence-sitting voters, prepared to give the opposition a chance, are not that dumb not to see through the charade.

 Self over Cause?

Some had fought the opposition cause for many elections. Now, they appear to think that voters owe it to them to elect them into parliament – all because they had fought this long and paid a high personal price doing it. Persistence is neither reason nor justification to insist on taking leadership positions when the electorate has apparently made clear through the ballot box as many times that they just had not measured up to expectations – or came with too many historical baggage.

This is especially true if one cannot even secure 40% votes in a by-election. Yes, a by-election where voters are already “assured” of a PAP government and are more inclined to vote in an opposition MP! Isn’t it painfully clear why Bt Batok voters were so reluctant to tip that opposition candidate over into parliament when the understandable concern of a voting a non-PAP government was non-extant?

No, sir. Your time as party leader is up. Please, for Singapore’s sake, let your cause that you have invested in, outlast, outlive you. Thank you for your service. It’s past time that someone else takes the baton and you play a less glamorous but no-less vital supporting role – if you are truly vested in the good of Singaporeans and Singapore.

 Opposition Party? What Party?

The Workers’ Party and SDP excepted, many of the other opposition parties’ candidate-support structures were a joke compared to what they were up against i.e. the well-oiled, well-funded PAP monster election machinery. Many so-called opposition parties come with a sec-gen and just a handful of members (active? non-active?) that you can count on one, maybe two hands.

Therefore, in light of all the above realities, Dr Tan, you won’t be losing very much, if at all, not to head any coalition. You are wise to have withheld acceptance to lead a non-starter of a coalition. 

Now, what?

Unless the Workers Party is prepared to carve a role for you in the coalition or their party (very unlikely), you are much better off on your own, with a clean slate. Trying to insert yourself into the mishmash of opposition parties meansfinding the lowest common denominator amongst all the sec-gens – a hopeless proposition against the PAP’s overwhelmingly successful 12 x GE juggernaut. why not capitalize on the strength of your own name andreputation amongst voters? Choose a path forward – and if anyone wishes to ride with you, well, youand not those sec-gens decide the goal, direction and terms of theride.

The urgency and the goal is to create a focal point for the groundswell of voters questioning the competence of PAP’s current slate of leaders and the PAP’s old, albeit past successful policies (housing as assets, inadequacies of CPF for health and retirement, cost of living etc) which are nowshowing up but which the PAP continueto fudge and fortify, never admitting to being mistaken or wrong.Time is critical to draw in more voters on the peripheral into that groundswell.

Forget unitingthe opposition. Instead, Dr Tan, please seek to coalesce and unite the people’s anger, frustrations, cries, disbeliefs – and surely, the other opposition parties willfall in place – if they want to stay relevant toand true tothe cause of building a stronger, more inclusive Singapore. 

A broader common goal for all non-PAP forces is to deny the PAP their 2/3 pariliamentary majority. While the next GE objectiveis for you to win aGRC, if not two. If you are able to do that – and surely it can be done! – then with 3 to 10 MPs under youand together with WP and others, Singaporeans will see that the PAP can no longer run this place like it belongs to their party – or their father– like changing the Constitution to put their preferred Indian-Malay or Malay-Indian? candidate as President.

From gaining 1/3 of parliamentary seats, the momentum towards change will then be more doable. And, perhaps, an opposition alliance in the GE after the next will be a viable option, not a pipe dream. We owe it to Singaporeans to do that.

What’s next?

This is where our election history informs us.

Mr Chiam and Mr Low all won their parliamentary seats only after walking and working the grounds week-in, week-out. This is perhapsthe only proven way to win voters hearts and minds. No webcast, no newsletter, no FB posts can substitute for walking and working the ground in person. That’s the S$5000/- lesson I learnt in GE 2015.

Hence,the next step will be to identify the GRCs or SMCs to contest in. But we also know that the PAP are dirty – filthy actually – political practitioners, always ready to gerrymander to their advantage. That is a given that we will live with it. But if we go on the walkabouts single-mindedly, deliberately, regularly, humbly and gerrymandering occurs the next GE, voters will have another reason to carefully consider how they have been manipulated – and hence vote even more wisely.

Once the GRCs/SMCs are identified, the hard work begins.

And next?

You will need a competent and totally-committed campaign manager from the very start. He hasto give shape and sharpness to your campaign. He will have to plan, execute and also instill discipline to your team – the way the Ng Eng Hen did in GE2015. 

Suggestion

In your legal battle on the presidential election, you were right to decide to spend your own money to engage aQueen’s Counsel. But in your Facebook, I suggested that to bolster the psychological winds behind yourcause, you should nonetheless appeal to Singaporeans to contribute money to the legal effort. Butyou should guarantee that whatever money Singaporeans contribute will NOT be used to pay for your activities and instead given to charity. All contributions received will be professionally and transparently audited by an established auditor.

Imagine if you had raised S$100,000 from 100,000, 200,000 or moreSingaporeans then! That would send a message to the PAP – and to Singaporeans, too, wouldn’t it?

   

My 2cents’ worth of appeal and ideas can surely be refined and reinforced. But I sincerely hope you will give it your careful considerations. 

Sincerely,
LAW Kim Hwee


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SMRT CEO Neo: Stating A Fact To Hide A Truth

I do commend Neo Kian Hong’s decision to ditch his car and not buy a new one “because it is more useful for me to take the MRT to understand the issues and take our company’s assets like our taxis and buses”. Early in my corporate life, my MD introduced me to the concept of “management by walking/wandering around” (MBWA). And, along the way, I also learned “the map is not the territory”, which I used to remind myself that the data or information landing on my desk gave but a model of what was actually happening on the ground – which may or may not be the same thing.
Aside from the obvious criticisms of the PAP government (via Temasek Holdings helmed by Mrs Lee Hsien Loong) using GLCs to reward, to reinforce loyalty of their own elites (mostly, ex-generals or PAP apparatchiki, ex-ministers) with an iron rice bowl in businesses that some are only remotely qualified, at SMRT, there was little doubt that ex-CEO Desmond Kuek was mostly managing behind his desk with statistics, charts, reports and boardroom meetings. Not a bad stint Kuek had with more than an estimated S$10 mil for his near-six year tenure, considering that the first (?) SMRT deaths of two employees under his watch. Peasant lives are cheap in Singapore.
Regardless, new honcho Neo should be applauded for getting his butt off his CEO chair – and personal car – to try his hand at MBWA and travelling from point A to point B using SMRT’s assets (buses, taxis and trains).
I personally wish him good luck in his role.
But, by the way, Mr Neo, we all know that CEOs of a company the size of SMRT are entitled to and given a luxury car at his disposal and personal use – driver included.
So, unless you come forward to say that you are declining the use of the company car, you are merely stating a fact about your personal car ownership but hoping to hide the truththat you see an opportunity to save on the horrendous cost of car ownership in Singapore while trying to impress or mislead your audience.
Fake news?
Or just another bird of the same feather doing the PAP leaders’ and elites’ penchant for speaking facts while hiding truths? Remember, the factually-correct but truthfully-distracting “there are no dead poor in Singapore” assertion?
Anyway, “Good luck, Mr Neo! Thank you so much for your paid-‘volunteering’ for the SMRT job.” Khaw Boon Wan will have your back, you can count on it!


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We Will Be What They Read…

Ahead of National Reading Day, 28 July, eight 4G ministers were interviewed on their current reading. No prizes for guessing how our image-conscious ministers would use the opportunity to burnish their credentials to show how they are atop their game to be your leaders – even with the books they are now reading. If only the first prize number for Saturday’s 4D draw was that predictable.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Foreign Affairs,
– Skin In The Game: Hidden Asymmetries In Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a non-fiction book about risk and reward.

Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth,
– Thank You For Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman, about major trends affecting the world today and how we can thrive in this age of accelerations.
– World Order by Henry Kissinger. “I had many ‘aha!’ moments when reading World Order, especially in understanding the psyche of nations through his interpretation of history.”
– Quest For Chinese Culture by Yu Qiuyu. Yu compares and contrasts different philosophers, such as Confucius, Mencius and Laozi, using simple and easy-to-read language.
– The Okinawa Program: How The World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health – And How You Can Too by Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox and Makoto Suzuki.

Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
– The Way Of The Strangers: Encounters With The Islamic State by Graeme Wood.

Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education
– Homo Deus: A Brief History Of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, which is a sequel to Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind.

Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry
– The China Questions: Critical Insights Into A Rising Power, edited by Jennifer Rudolph and Michael Szonyi, a collection of essays by 36 experts on China.

S. Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information
– Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth And Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, a look at how people make decisions;
– Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy Of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari, about the 1947 partition of India;
– The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice From The Silence Of Autism by Naoki Higashida, written by a 13-year-old Japanese boy with severe autism spectrum disorder and translated into English in 2013 by Keiko Yoshida and her husband, author David Mitchell.

Ng Chee Meng, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress
– The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo,
– Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari,
– National Day Rally Speeches by National Archives of Singapore.

Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance
– Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics Of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb.

Take note: they are almost all focused mostly if not only on reading social sciences books. NARY A SINGLE FICTION BOOK, or any of a pure humanity subject.

It is a self-evident truth that our choice of books informs and forms our view of the world.

So, while both “Humanities and social sciences deal with human aspects like politics, law, linguistics, economics, and psychology, one major difference between the two is that humanities involve a more critical and analytical approach whereas social sciences deal with more of a scientific approach.

And, for all the PAP’s yak-yak about inequality and the need to “level up” ad nauseam, zero out of eight 4G ministers are reading up on research work or ideas to actually help walk their talk.

So, my dear younger fellow Singaporeans, you can pretty much expect that we will live in a Singapore governed with little soul or spirit but more of science and schema. Lots lots of head, little or no heart for our people.

Brace yourselves and…

“Watch the days, make your plans
Change in ways, your lives demand….” Read widely. Vote wisely.


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A Singapore’s “Alliance of Hope”: No, Not With Goh Chok Tong

Based on Facebook posts, there appear to be Singaporeans who are wishful of Goh Chok Tong doing a “Dr Mahathir” for Singaporeans to stand against the current Lee Hsien Loong’s PAP in the next GE due by 15 Jan 2021.

Let me state upfront: No! Not with Goh in the Dr M role.

It’s an insult to Dr M’s political charisma and recent tumultuous GE accomplishment to compare wooden (LKY’s adjective) Goh with him.

What do Dr M and Goh share in common that some think the latter can bring about a “new dawn” for Singapore? Two main ones, namely;

One, both share membership links with the dominant ruling political parties in their respective countries.

Two, both Dr M and Goh rose to be PMs.

Beyond the above, they diverge dramatically. And in the following key divergences lie the foundational differences that disqualify Goh for a similar Dr M role in Singapore politics:-

– Dr M was always a maverick, one with a cause – and the courage. As a young politician, he penned “The Malay Dilemma”, laying bare publicly his honest, uncomplimentary thoughts about “the behaviour of his own people…” Whilst Goh, from his words and actions, was, has been since resigning from cabinet, is always a PAP man. So, Dr M, a maverick. Goh, a PAP apparatchik, one of a very, very small handful enjoying his ex-ministerial multimillion $ pension.

– Dr M speaks his mind clearly, openly. Goh tries too darn hard to be sagely, with his philosophistry, his touches of ambiguous Facebook musings and posts on matters political. You know where Dr M is coming from and, as important, where he is heading. Goh, with his self-serving ambiguities, appears to hedge his bets in order to lean where the winds of change may blow – and then will he his bet place, maybe. If Dr M has been compared to a snake. Then he’s a straight-shooting one. And the Malays, Indians and Chinese came out to curl around him because they all knew his yes is yes, his no, no.

– Dr M was branded a dictator and called all kinds of defamatory names. But he “never sued anybody“. Says he, “the way of democracy…and in politics, of course, people will call you nasty names. That is normal.” But Goh sued Tang Liang Hong, Chee Soon Juan, the New York Times etc… for libel. And when it came time for his PAP’s colleague Loong, he lent total support to Loong’s abuse of Parliament to try to clear the libellous “dishonourable” honorific that the latter’s sister bestowed on him, instead of going to court.

The above three differences are not exhaustive. But they tell us that Goh has not Dr M’s political DNA in the seminal role required to bring about “a new dawn” for Singapore politics.

Now, let me remind Singaporeans how Goh Chok Tong gave or laid the foundations for many of what are presently wrong in Singapore;

– It was Goh who started the “asset enhancement” policy, forcing citizens to use an inordinate amount of their hard-earned savings into HDB (and also 99-year condos); depleting our retirement nest egg while filling up the state’s coffers (some of which the PAP use to pay Temasek and GIC cronies million$ in salaries/bonuses with our direct/indirect CPF monies – with zero transparency or accountability).

– It was Goh who started the “mild India fever”, the base policy LHL replicated resulting in the Indian-Chinese-Filipino-Westerner deluge of Foreign so-called Talents. Many senior, middle-aged, middle-income Singaporeans are now either unemployed or under-employed, being collateral damage of the sold-as-mild- but-secretly-executed-as-high fever policy.

– Goh called Tan Cheng Bock a “close friend from school”. But Bock, after the last Presidential Election, he was and will be on his own.” BTW, Goh voiced nary a word against
neither the rushed-through for-Malay only PE legislation nor Halimah’s Indian paternal ancestry. Goh is a PAP apparatchik like no other. He probably would prefer his “close friend” Bock banished than his PAP lose overwhelming control of Parliament.

– Finally, Goh gave himself and his ministers the once highest staggering S$1.59 mil
salary (junior ministers) which also laid the foundation for the purportedly once highest gross 2008 windfall that included a eye-popping 20.4 months of bonus (over and above annual salary). If PAP hadn’t lost a GRC, a first, in GE2011, would PAP have reduced their salaries?

It is not that Goh didn’t do some good for Singapore. But that he is not the chosen one to go against the PAP. Just as he reasoned “as for Tang Liang Hong, he is not his brother“, we can safely see, for all his political sophistry, that he will not hurt the PAP because PAP’s dominance must supersede even the longer-term interests of Singapore. This, regardless  the self-evident truth that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Dr M knows, understands and lives as a mamak. A maverick mamak – with a cause suited for the times – and the DNA to match. Goh sees himself as belonging to the natural aristocracy…who secretly believes that we peasant-citizens should be happy eating cakes.

Oh, did I forget to mention that Goh started the GST on 1 Apr 1994 as PM? Or that he was
the one who started bringing untested SAF generals into cabinet? Readers, please list more of Goh’s “contributions” to most of what’s wrong with Singapore today.

…But one should never say never in politics.

Law Kim Hwee