Nobody doubts my ‘objective bias’ in criticising many of Singapore civic leaders writings or speeches. My disappointment in what they try to pass off as leadership for us common people is clear: it’s lame.
Fans of theirs will, like WP supporters, explain that they are fighting with their hands tied in a system that hamstrings their sincere efforts to voice, act on, to effect change for our better interests. My retort is that he who is effective with little will be spectacular with much. Otherwise, they are showing that they care more about retaining that reserved seat at the table of the elite and/or losing that fat salary than care for citizens’ interests.
Nonetheless, we should show concern when a civic leader displays or appears to display a medical disorder. But tough love means we show concern and still discuss what they say, critically.
Radicalization or Recklessness
I detect 2 observations in his article (ST 8 Nov 2014) that raise my concern for him.
The first regards his Idea #10 in which he advocates that SG50 should ‘announce a simple idealistic goal: Singapore will become a society with zero private car ownership by 2065’.
It was only 10 months ago exactly that he had suggested ‘Big Idea No. 1: A ‘less-car’ Singapore’ (ST 8 Feb), mainly via the (what else) elitist’s solution of taking the car out of the financial reach of the middle manager and below. And now, this, ‘zero private car ownership’.
Is he exchanging his free-market leanings for a pure Commie’s ‘zero private car ownership’? The last I read, even Cuba has loosened up on private ownership (for property) [Link]. What has Kishore been smoking, man?
Is he now radicalized? Or showing off to his bosses he’s thinking out of the box?
Here’s another bit that stirs my humane concern. He minces not, ‘we have one of the most absurd taxi pricing systems in the world… so complicated… (to) understand how it works. This is a natural result of Soviet-style central planning’.
Phew! Strong words and you didn’t read me wrong, mate.
Either he knows that the rear-admiral-turned-transport-minister will not be so dumb as to take it personally (wasn’t conceived under his watch). Or, the ex-rear admiral is really a lightweight and has not the foresight or guts to truly take it to heart and simplify the taxi system. My bet is that the CEO of Temasek Holdings which own ALL the main taxi companies will beat transport minister anytime skirts down (‘pants’ maybe more accurate given the CEO’s obvious wardrobe preference for pantsuits).
Regardless, since we have previously seen from Kishore’s writings that he’s unlikely to or disallowed by his wife to risk his estimated S$mil deanship to take a swipe at his bosses, we have to be concerned with his labelling ‘Soviet-style central planning’ on a sensitive area of huge public discontent, transport-related, that is 50 PAP-years in the making. It practically opens up the front for criticisms of high private car prices, taxpayers’ subsidy of public transport and obscene profits of taxi co (all virtually Temasek-owned)… that invariably pays higher bonuses to ‘meritoguanxi-ly’-connected cronies helming those co.
Please, everyone, say a prayer for Kishore’s health, but maybe not his deanship. While we disagree with his loyalties and views, let’s remember our common humanity.
Downsize the PIE
Now, let’s look at his idea.
Except for the last bit about eliminating ‘private car ownership by 2065’, I have to be honest to say that, for once, I am fully behind The Thinker’s Big Idea. It’d truly be wonderful to realize Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AMoD (Automated-Mobility-on-Demand) solution where we all can hop into a car when we want it, where we want it and – I just have to add this bit that Kishore omits – Temasek Holdings will only be a minor player in it instead of rent-seeking more money from citizens with their pseudo-competition-but-all-parts-owned-by-Temasek modus operandi. Readers may wish to read his idea in full. [Link]
He’s a Talker, Not a Doer
See, it’s not always that we need to tear Kishore’s article bit-by-bit. And we hardly ever disagree for the sake of disagreeing. We should always try to be ‘objective’, right?
And, yes, we disown the governing philosophy of ‘you die your business’ and show concern if we see some possible health problem in a fellow Singaporean, even an elitist one.
So, what gives with Idea #10?
Well, Kishore’s idea is born out of his urging us to ‘slip out of our comfort zones and think outside the box. In short, we have to think and dream big like the founding fathers of Singapore’ (let’s forgive him for again kissing the ground whereupon his heroes treaded).
His readers would have thought, OK, show us how to do it, Big Man. Unfortunately, after all the blah blah blah about outside the box and big thinking, he says, ‘This is why I own a car now’ because that’s the most convenient option.
Hello, ‘Physician, heal thyself’.
If you propose a radical idea that turns the current one on its head, urge us to think outside the box and to dream big – and observe that everyone else thinks owning a car is the most convenient – and you do likewise, then, what’s that again you are saying?
COME ON, Professor, Dean, Thinker!!!
Put your car where your words are!
Think outside the box – and Do what’s outside the conventional!
Think big – and Do big!
Breakout of your comfort zone!
Roll with your own idea! For goodness sake, show some true leadership to make things happen instead of just puffing out hot air ideas that few will be alive to judge you by 50 years hence.
Or do we get this sneaking feeling that it’s one pie for the elites and another for the common people when you say to Downsize the PIE?
Do more, talk less. Or better yet – hush,