2econdsight

"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"


1 Comment

IDEA #10: KISHORE TALKS LOTS, WALKS NOT.

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,

2cents

Advertisements


4 Comments

Data shows SG nowhere near Swiss standard

The Legatum Institute recently published its widely followed Prosperity Index which has 89 variables grouped into 8 sub-indices: Economy, Entrepreneurship & Opportunity, Governance, Education, Health, Safety & Security, Personal Freedom and Social Capital. The 2014 ranking (2010 in brackets) is provided below, together with some useful qualitative and quantitative measurements.

Ranked by Prosperity Index Competitive Ranking Median Wages Net Income  Gini (a) Market Gini (b) GDP Growth  Deficit  to GDP Credit Rating
1.  (1) Norway 11 59,308 0.25 0.423 +1.3% +13.2% AAA
2.  (8) Switzerland 1 61,171 0.289 0.368 +1.9% +  0.2% AAA
3.  (5) New Zealand 17 28,526 0.323 0.453 +2.0% –   2.4% AA
4.  (2) Denmark 13 41,948 0.253 0.431 +0.6% –   2.6% AAA
5.  (7) Canada 15 36,873 0.316 0.438 +2.4% –   1.1% AAA
6.  (6) Sweden 10 37,359 0.273 0.435 +3.0% –  0.2% AAA
7.  (4) Australia 22 47,796 0.324 0.46 +2.6% –   3.3% AAA
8.  (3) Finland 4 32,886 0.261 0.486 +1.0% –   1.6% AA+
9.  (9) Netherlands 8 28,652 0.278 0.424 +0.1% –   4.1% AA+
10. (10) USA 3 30,932 0.389 0.506 +2.3% –   8.4% AA+
11. (12) Iceland 30 29,346 0.251 0.406 +0.9% –   6.7% BBB-
12. (11) Ireland 25 29,240 0.302 0.568 +0.3% –  16.4% A-
13. (13) UK 9 26,020 0.344 0.525 +1.2% –   8.5% AAA
14. (15) Germany 5 28,000 0.293 0.506 +2.1% –   1.4% AAA
15. (14) Austria 21 33,575 0.282 0.496 +1.5% –   2.8% AA+
16. (na) Luxembourg 19 51,129 0.276 0.48 +1.7% –   0.6% AAA
17. (16) Belgium 18 29,206 0.264 0.483 +1.1% –   3.8% AA
18. (17) Singapore 2 31,190 0.412 0.463 +6.9% +  6.8% AAA
19. (18) Japan 6 26,671 0.336 0.488 +1.8% –   7.6% AA-
20. (20) Hong Kong 7 na +4.0% AAA

(a)    Net Income Gini is the Gini co-efficient after tax and social transfer. It is used for comparison because it accounts for different tax rates and for subsidies and benefits received.

(b)   Market Gini is before tax and social transfer from which Net Income Gini is derived.

(c)    GDP and deficit data from World Bank, average since 2010.

Sub-index rankings for 2014 and 2010 (in brackets) for Singapore given below.

Economy Entrepreneurship & Opportunity Governance Education Health Safety & Security Personal Freedom Social Capital
2 (6) 12 (8) 13 (11) 22 (30) 18 (24) 14 (5) 40 (36) 45 (54)

Other than the obvious conclusion that Singapore has nowhere achieved Swiss standards, here are some perspectives on the PAP’s economic management:

  • The PAP likes to repeat ad nauseam about competitiveness. But it can be observed that there is hardly much of a correlation between competitiveness and prosperity. Singapore scores high in the former but poorer in the latter. This point to a bias for quantitative rather than qualitative results which can be observed by high scores in easily quantified sub-index rankings such as Economy and Entrepreneurship but middle to poor ranking for qualitative aspect of prosperity such as Personal Freedom and Social Capital.
  • What about Singapore’s unassailable fiscal position due to its vast reserves? Clearly, neither the lack of persistent budget surpluses nor large fiscal deficits obstacles to achieving AAA rating. Moreover, prosperity and competitiveness are harmed neither by fiscal deficits nor less than stellar credit rating.  The writer suggest the blowback of its persistent surplus causes Singapore’s inability to climb the Prosperity Index especially since those surpluses cause financial burdens to citizens due to poor returns on savings, elevated HDB prices, insufficient social spending.
  •  Indeed Singapore has achieved the strongest GDP growth by far among the top 20. Yet its ranking has not budged since 2010 even though many of its peers suffered far more from the Global Financial Crisis. This strongly suggests the government has not delivered the aggregate improvements to citizens’ lives despite the glittering GDP numbers.
  •  The PAP likes to warn redistributive social spending harms competitiveness. However, observe the huge difference between the two Gini coefficients which show how much redistributive social spending has lessen income inequality and yet did no harm to most nations’ competitiveness and prosperity.
  •  The PAP likes to drive the point that education and skills are essential to GDP growth. But is it enough to lessen inequality and increase prosperity? The most prosperous nations have the most educated and highly skilled workforce. Yet before tax and social transfers, the (Market) Gini coefficient shows that economic outcomes are very unequal. Fundamentally GDP growth and technological advancements by themselves cannot resolve inequality because there will always be a mix of highly and lowly paid jobs. Redistributive social spending is the price paid to allow the lowly paid lead bearable lives and thus achieve a more equal outcome for the population in aggregate. Poor social capital is the result of not paying that price.
  •  On the government’s mantra that Singapore lacks natural resources. Among the top 10 most prosperous, only 4 (Norway, Canada, Australia and USA) can be considered as resource rich. Besides Singapore has consistent sunlight which is hardly utilised and few weather-related impact on the economy. Most of the prosperous nations have severe winters which cause certain economic activities such as construction to cease and disruptions to transportation due to heavy snows in winter, floods in spring and storms in summer.

The ministers derision of Singapore peers’ slower growth and high deficits and their anti-social spending rhetoric, should be seen as nothing more than twisting the facts to fit the ideology of GDP growth maximisation.

The slower growth rates of the prosperous nations are the price paid for higher quality, more equitable economic outcomes.  This is a fundamental trade-off in economics: quantity does not necessarily equate to quality even if in the catch-up phase, quantity had a quality of its own.

But Singapore is well past this phase as indicated by its inability to climb the Prosperity Index despite the strong GDP growth. Surely the minister’s GDP growth aligned remuneration results in the singular obsession with growth rates at the expense of quality.  For quantity is easily measured and achieved, simply throw cheap labour and cheap savings at it. But really what is the PAP than a very well paid one-trick pony?

Chris K

* Chris K holds a senior position in a global financial centre bigger than Singapore. He writes mostly on economic and financial matters to highlight misconceptions of economic policy in Singapore.


Leave a comment

THINK AGAIN! Controlling The Narrative

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” Philip K. Dick 1928-1982

——————————————————————-

A corollary of Dick’s observation would surely be ‘manipulate the narrative and you control the people who must naturally discuss issues within that narrative. ‘ Oh yes, it sure helps when ‘neutral 3rd parties’ are roped in to help.

(Philip Dick, by the way, was an author whose works birthed films such as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report etc. As a writer whose living revolved around words, he should know a thing or two about words, and narratives.

So, what has that got to do even remotely with the PAP? Plenty.

Controlling the Narrative
As the next General Election (GE) beckons, we see more discussions mushrooming in mainstream media (MSM). Well, so what?

Well, a GE is a fight to win hearts and minds – voter by voter. Using one’s weapons effectively to engage voters makes for victory. Unlike possessions and land conquest, hearts and minds are won subtly. Without the victim knowing it – that she was manipulated.

Hence, the gathering MSM political discussions. We examine how an Invisible Hand is controlling the narrative within which issues are discussed, are framed.

Hopefully, we the common people will neither effortlessly nor unknowingly fall into the trap set for us. Otherwise, the PAP would have won half the election battle.

Where it began, I can’t begin to know it, but then I know it’s growing strong
Before the narrative part, there was the ‘manipulation of words’.

Think ‘PWM’. Ring no bell?
That’s ‘Progressive Wage Model’ (Jan 2014) instead of ‘minimum wage’. Read the official propaganda here < http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/progressive-wage-model/Pages/progressive-wage-model.aspx>.

Next, ‘bus contracting model’ instead of ‘nationalization’ (May 2014). Read the propaganda here (http://www.mot.gov.sg/Transport-Matters/Public-Transport/Why-bus-contracting-/>

Does Mr Dick now make sense? Using the internationally-accepted words means ceding the initiative to, in this case, the Opposition who have been clamouring for it. It’s not about eating humble pie. Surrendering the control of the wage and bus transport agenda can be fatal to PAP’s fight for the blue-collar votes.


The latest spin on where we are heading, the more you read, the less you think…

The invisible hand started first with some mild attempts to work the narrative. Enough time till the next GE allows for easing in the narrative. Start first with non-political civic leaders…silently, stealthily but surely now…

Remember Prof Tommy Koh’s proposing his ‘ideological cleavage’? (ST 29 Mar 2014) Then, Prof Chan Heng Chee’s ‘time for love in politics’? (ST 17 May 2014). His is about a consensus breaking down, hers, the need to transit from ‘transactional’ to ‘empathy’ politics. Both firmly on the ‘trust the government governing’ bandwagon.

The 2 good professors’ views appeared to frame the political issues of our day not as failures of the PAP government but as philosophical discussions in all their intellectual glory. His, not going far enough, whilst hers, rather airy-fairy.

By and by, came George Yeo and Ho Kwon Ping with their speeches in quick succession, supposedly taking direct aim at the PAP.

While netizens latched on Yeo’s child emperor analogy to lampoon the ‘child’ now reigning over Singapore, MSM avoided that delectable illustration to instead headline ‘Singapore well-placed to adjust to new reality’, a remark made during Q&A. And an indirect compliment to PAP’s leadership. Yeo’s key point, ‘The most profound impact is in the way hierarchies are being corroded by information technology disintermediating what kept this hierarchy intact in the first place’ is ignored.

Yeo’s speech has street-cred in that it correctly pinpointed much of what is rumbling at the ground level, As for Ho’s, you’d think he’s PAP futurist-planner. His Politics & Governance lecture was about ‘the PAP’s dominance of not only the political process, but almost the entire national culture, was in large part the reason for Singapore’s rise from Third to First World in a single generation…(and) Can that dominance be maintained?’ (http://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/ips/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/07/IPS-Nathan-Lectures_Lecture-I-Politics-and-Governance-speech_201014_v3.pdf)

And the MSM faithfully stuck to their assigned propaganda role, reporting on Ho’s 5 anything-but-thought-provoking quotes which included PAP’s future and how PAP might lost an election (http://www.singapolitics.sg/news/five-thought-provoking-quotes-ho-kwon-pings-first-ips-nathan-lecture). TODAY, likewise, focused on PAP’s possible loss of dominance (http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pap-could-lose-current-dominance-15-years-ho-kwon-ping).

But where, O where, is the discussion on what are the failures on PAP’s part that is giving rise to the possibility of power relegation? Zilch! Kosong! Pūjyam! 鸭蛋!

Even though we know Ho has all the money (well, at least more than Roy Ngerg) many times over to tell the truth and suffer the vengeful response of the PAP, he wouldn’t would he? A pale shadow of the once young rebel, he’s since sold over to the devil’s cause, presiding over his Banyan Tree empire and dressed impeccably in blue suits with a choice seat at the elites’ table. The PAP calls it co-opting. Well done!

So, with discussions of PAP’s possible demise now openly introduced, ST editor-at-large, Han Fook Kwang, finally found his balls (oops, pardon my Français slip), I mean the sound of his voice to speak the once-unspeakable subject. But he stuck closely to the Invisible Hand’s narrative, hardly discussing one word of PAP’s failures that should be the starting point behind its possible demise to instead speculate situations ‘where the ruling party might continue to reign supreme’.

Conclusion

So, folks, don’t be foolish and fooled! PAP is tying the fate of Singapore to the fate of the PAP. But we know the two are not the same.

PAP do not want you to discuss their failures.

They know they have lost the control and are too late to influence the narrative in social media. So, they seize the next strategic alternative where they wield the greatest control and, indeed, where the real battle is fought. I again refer readers to the FMMs (fence-sitters, marginal supporters and mal/mis-informed voters), the same ones Opposition parties need to win the next GE.

Please satisfy for yourself with the details of what I have offered.

Henceforth, we must recognise that PAP’s fate is PAP’s own problem, not Singapore’s. Let PAP deal with it themselves. No discussions needed. Period.

Singapore shall remain standing. It is more productive to discuss the new goals, checks and balances that we need for new leaders to operate for the good of citizens, not any one party political.

Since we cannot control the narrative, shall we discuss how we can disrupt it to ensure PAP fall earlier, quicker and harder the next discussion?

2cents


Leave a comment

“AN ELDERLY S’POREAN” EXPLAINS HOW HIS & OUR YOUNG’S FUTURE IS IMPERILED BY PAP FT POLICIES.

In truth, http://www.tremeritus.com hosts some articles that are pedestrian. And, truly too, many comments are rude if not worse.
But it contains some gems – and more heartening – it now attracts more thoughtful readers, commentators and contributors.
I just had dinner with Richard Wan the editor Wed evening and exchanged views from 6- 11 pm. He’s a goldmine of current political developments. I have often requested him to come down harder on the more vocal, ruder fringe but he prefers to let TRE develop at a natural pace. He may well be right.
Anyway, here’s a very well-reasoned opinion piece. One that concerns, ironically, the very next generation that many PAP supporters think they are protecting when, in fact, it is anything but.
For yr convenience and to understand the context of the short article below, I give u the background to it.

A senior citizen wrote to voice his worries about his personal situation and how he had voted opposition in 2011 but how they appear to have not done a good job. One commentator responded by disparaging him – that’s the comment at the beginning of the pasted article below.
In further response, a different commentator hit out at the latter with a solidly-argued take. I hope you will read, understand and see the trajectory of what’s happening in SGP. Pls forward it to others as well who need to be told what Straits Times is not discussing.
Well, yet another commentator shared this pc of info, quote;
“My niece who is from a top junior college told me that a few days ago her classmate attended a school workshop. The day after, she asked him what was it about. She was shocked when she heard that the speakers tried to convince students of how good and important FTs are to SG and what good they have done for our country. Students were even told that news about the crime of FTs are few but the contributions made by the FTs are much greater.
WTF! Our traitor gahmen has even gone to the extent of brainwashing our young to accept their PWP in school workshops?
If PAP doesn’t get voted out at the soonest, SG will surely be demolished in those greedy fellas’ hands.”
Personally, I’m already prepared to pay the price for a drop in the value of my house – it is NOT a bad thing. It means tt my children will buy at a lower price – all 3 of them vs my one house.

@ Why you worry?:
November 12, 2014 at 10:45 am (Quote)

“At 70 you are 4/5 of your legs in the coffin why are you so worry about population growth? You yourself have seen the benefit of population growth since WWII and why you so worry? You better worry about yourself!”

You must be an incorrigible dimwit without a mind of your own only to be stuffed with PAP propaganda in your empty cranium that renders you oblivious to the problems that lie ahead for our future generations.

These are grave concerns that all right thinking Singaporeans, young and old, must come to grips with concerning the livelihood of our future generations.

That the government is abdicating its responsibility in caring for the people is crystal clear. These days, the seniors are told to downgrade, lease-buy back, reverse mortgage their hard earned abodes or to rent to live out their sunset years. They are simply kicking the can down the road for which the future generation will pay a heavy price.

Mind you, lots of us senior citizens have contributed immensely to nation building in taxes and national service only to be told that we are to fend for ourselves in the last lap of our lives.

Organic population growth after WWII produced a sizable number of baby boomers that propelled this nation forward working with an earlier group of able leaders the likes of Dr. Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam, Dr. Toh Chin Chye, E.W. Barker et al. Ironically, it will be the same group of baby boomers that will vote the current inept leadership team out.

Artificial population growth the past decade by inundating this nation with disparate aliens from all over the world can only sow social discord here in a dog-eat-dog world.

The “stop-at-two” policy was a short-sighted policy that yielded today’s problems compounded by a mad immigration solution. This is clearly untenable. Following this, there are many PAP policies today that will mushroom into crippling problems decades down the road which we must now nip in the bud and for that only the opposition parties can help.

The PAP is too deep unto its own in inbreeding and groupthink that they cannot see beyond their own in obsequious submission to the powers that be. The perfunctory debate in parliament on the PWP and that it was allowed to breeze through is but one conspicuous example.

For the seniors not to be worried, whether one foot in the grave or not, is a remiss in their duties towards the future of a Singapore for Singaporeans. It is both morally unacceptable and selfish that we only worry for ourselves. It is in worrying for ourselves that we also worry for our future generations.

From what you have posted, you are no more than a numbskull and the day will come when you reap what you have sown.

 A PG Speaks


Leave a comment

Need A SG50 National Slogan?

Response to Catherine Lim’s ‘new national slogan’

Oops! Methinks I’m not going to make many new friends, lose some even maybe, with this post of mine. Not when Mr Nobody 2cents dares to take aim at a reigning doyen of the Singapore Literary Scene – she, with awards, books, invites to speak and ‘luxurious apartment in a decidedly prosperous part of town’ to show for while 2cents has zilch to his name…Regardless,

I first came across but skipped Catherine Lim’s ‘A new national slogan for Singapore’s 50th birthday’ at singaporedaily.net. It’s worth checking out The Singapore Daily for a feel of ‘what everyone is talking about’ in SG, different from TRE’s offerings.

Unlike a friend, a teenager probably smitten by Catherine, his lit teach, other than her ‘affective divide’ and ‘PAP unable to reinvent itself’ commentaries, I keep a skeptical distance when occasionally reading Ms Lim’s other short articles. And the FM 88.9 BBC interview I heard a short while back, with her shrill voice, an almost perceptible effort at purposefully sounding girlish-like – this in an interview on serious politics – just didn’t turn me on.

The last time I read Catherine was her ‘the-bkbc-interview’ via singaporedaily.net, “‘bkbc’ being ‘bo kia bo chup’ which translated from Hokkien means ‘not afraid, can’t be bothered’, to convey recklessness and defiance”. Believe me, if what she wrote was bkbc, then the word to describe what TRE commentators are capable of has not yet been coined. She obviously doesn’t dig street-cred Hokkien but tries to fake it in order to bolster her, pardon my French, ‘baba-siohw’ (she, a Peranankan?) or her obvious elite/elitist status.

My bet is on not a single Singaporean who lives in an HDB flat amongst her exclusive clique of ‘luxurious apartment in a decidedly prosperous part of town’ and landed property residents whom she calls personal friends.

Nonetheless, read her ‘A New National Slogan for Singapore 50th Birthday’ I did after Richard Wan published it on TRE. And she didn’t disappoint with her shallow national slogan critique… and call for a new one.

A TAKE ON CATHERINE’S SLOGAN CALL
For starters, Catherine claims, “When Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister of Singapore in 1959, he set a trend that, simply because it came from him, had to be followed by his successors. This was the marking of a new premiership with a slogan. Under Lee Kuan Yew, it was ‘A Rugged Society’”.

Records show LKY’s first mention of (actually) ‘a robust and rugged society’ occurred circa 1966, after we got booted out of Malaysia, not when he ascended to the premiership.

Hence, it is historically incorrect to claim ‘the marking of a new premiership with a slogan’.

Furthermore, GCT’s exact words in his PM-ascension swearing-in speech were ”to build Singapore as a nation of distinction’, emphasizing ‘economic growth…values and culture…invest heavily in our people…(and) equalise opportunities’ [Link: GCT Swearing-in Speech].

Nope, no ‘a gracious society’ in there. Truth be told, GCT got sort-of lost when he abandoned ‘nation of distinction’ for ‘Renaissance City’ (2008, ok, it’s more a culture blueprint but still, and anyone remember that report?).

As for Lee Hsien Loong, Catherine gets it only half right; ‘Ours must be an open and inclusive Singapore’ [Link: LHL Swearing-in Speech, para 26], not the literary license she uses to explain, ‘a noun…preceded by an adjective that could change, depending on the preference of the new premier’.

Hence, I would contend that storyteller Catherine Lim started with the premise of urging ‘a new national slogan’ and then went about making up her needed dots to try to weave her story coherently.

POSSIBLE MOTIVATIONS
What could Catherine’s possible motivations be to generously share her copyright work in her blog-of-sort? I suggest three; a parochial interest, self-aggrandizement and commercial self-promotion.

Parochial Motivation
First, she questions, “Almost on a daily basis, Singaporeans are aware of changes that have overtaken their society, some in the most unexpected ways. So, under the present circumstances is the present national slogan of ‘An Inclusive Society’ at all relevant? Should it be changed to reflect the changing needs and aspirations of the people?”

Then, she proceeds to suggest “‘An Inclusive Society Part 2′? Since Part 1 has already done a good job of thoughtfully including so many different groups…Part 2 could finish up the job by including a long neglected — and long maligned — group, the political mavericks and troublemakers who, after all, are true Singaporeans, true citizens of a nation they care for.”

How’s her suggested Part 2 a reflection of the ‘changing needs and aspirations of the people?’ Hey, Catherine, the people are crying out mainly for ‘ReturnOurCPF’, lower cost-of-living, less FTs etc and, yes, VTO! But we don’t expect the elite to understand that, do we? To include the long maligned group you refer to is the aspiration of some people, yes, but not the people. To your elite, elitist, civic or cultural gang, your Part 2 makes for highfalutin conversation in your caviar and cocktail circuit. But we, the common people, continue to collect the bread crumbs beneath your tables of plenty.

How can elites even begin to understand how it feels to have to sell one’s basic flat to survive one’s old age, huh?

Self-Aggrandizement Motivation
To understand this 2nd motivation, we need to go back to her ‘the-bkbc-interview /#comments’.

Quote, “I had said: ‘Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy will be so mixed…(but) everyone will agree that for a man of his stature and impact, neither the past nor the present holds an equal.’

I suppose this was my ‘compliment’ to Mr Lee, and in referring Tom Plate, his biographer, to me, he was returning the ‘compliment’ (both compliments needing those strong, qualifying inverted commas!) But I must tell you, it made me very happy. Because Mr Lee never minces his words, and says exactly what he feels.”

Read the full text yourself. Catherine ‘very happy’? Nah, she was completely bowled over, thrilled to bits like a dewy-eyed school girl unexpectedly complimented by her strict disciplinary master.

So, here she comes with her rather complimentary piece on LHL’s reign, hoping for a return compliment by the master’s son, perhaps?

Commercial Self-Promotion Motivation
Catherine has just launched her new book, Roll Out The Champagne, Singapore! 16 Oct 2014. Like any publisher and author would want, she’s just gifting away some teaser chapters lure potential buyers to her book.

Thus far, she’s offered 3 carefully selected chapters. She has to do her darnest to persuade more dafts to part with $21.50 for her bank account, doesn’t she? How else to ‘collect more money’ from her writing efforts?

So, sad to say, the elitist are as the elitist do, they think they understand us the common people but actually they hear not, know not our cries beneath their wheels.

HERE’S THE ONE SLOGAN WE ALL NEED @SG50
Having called Catherine’s coveting covert motivations, let’s nonetheless examine the need for a new slogan for SG50.

Do we need any new one at all. We should go back to the future. We should drink our old wine from a new bottle.

The only evergreen slogan born out of the crucible of our national existential struggles that we need now – and more of – is ‘As One United People…’ Our Pledge.

So, all together now, with feeling…….

We, the citizens of Singapore,

pledge ourselves as one united people,

regardless of race, language or religion,

to build a democratic society

based on justice and equality

so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and

progress for our nation.

2cents


Leave a comment

THINK AGAIN! Opposition Supporters!

Responses to my commendation of Ravi’s action and criticism of WP’s inaction (http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/11/05/applause-to-legal-eagle-ravi/) include comments of ‘anti-WP posts’, ‘keep picking on the Worker Party on everything under the sun just because they kept quiet’ or ‘encouraging multi corner fights’ and the like. The views raise valid, broader concerns that need more discussions. Part I directly deals with the sub judice Hecklegate; Part II, the bigger issue of support for Opposition Parties in general. Part I Commentators suggest various reasons (read above link) in defending WP. Some explanations may, conceivably, support using kids’ gloves to show disapproval of WP’s inaction. Or even disregard it altogether. But I beg to differ. Firstly, when elected Oppo MPs do not keep faith with us in our daily struggles and unhappiness (notable not minor ones) through their inactions or silence, would applying a lighter touch for reasons advanced by zealous supporters, not be practising double standards – exactly as PAP is doing? Secondly, consider this sub judice instance; Chen Show Mao – Juris Doc (JD, Stanford U) Lim Sylvia – LL.M (UCL) & M.Sc in Criminal Justice (Michigan State U) Singh Pritam – Juris Doctor (SMU) Sub judice law is a basic concept regardless the trio’s areas of specialization. How creditable are they, top-trained legal eagles, to miss not just the Hecklegate sub judice but also the ‘lack of decorum’ legal compliances? Apologists for WP (or other) who want to elect more non-PAP MPs must understand that it’s the FMMs (fence-sitters, marginal supporters, mal-/mis-informed) we desperately need to make the political Change we Must possible. How will FMMs respond to the hypocrisy of our double-standard kids’ gloves or/and PAP’s sound-of-silence modus operandi? If we demand accountability of MP Intan or MP Alvin for their alleged wrongs, shouldn’t we also call out WP’s (or other) omission to act in our interest? If I were WP Sec-gen, I’d turn this sub judice episode into an opportunity in branding differentiation. I’d publicly register regret for the sub judice omission and commit to be more alert. By keeping silent, Low KT doubles the perception of a WP that can do no wrong – just like PAP. By keeping silent, he replicates, for his WP, PAP’s failed or failing ways. Think again! Part II How then to support Opposition Parties in general? Perhaps, we agree on key common factors while disagreeing how to show support. Our 2 Key Lowest Common Denominators One: Unity is lacking amongst the Indian Chiefs leading the 4 or 5 Oppo parties. Will they change or ‘wayang’ just for the next GE? Fat Hope! However, that’s not necessarily negative for us at this stage. Better that Singaporeans be exposed to many party-diverse voices and visions offered in a democracy-in-progress. Two: End PAP’s dominance, be that <2/3 majority or a minority govt or, hey presto! kick PAP back to 1956 as opposition party. The above 2 factors leave us-the-Citizens to energize, evolve, and indeed, embed the change in the learning process we want to see in a pluralist democracy.¬¬¬ 2 Broad Approaches to Support The Opposition Approach ‘A’ suggests that supporters should go easier on WP (or other) rather than ‘slapping the co-driver’, one who had promoted themselves to be the party we should elect – to slap the PAP driver. By favouring a light touch on the Opposition to end PAP’s dominance, it appears more an airy hope than a strategic plan. For starters, what motivation is there then for the former to think deeper, reach higher or empathize more? Why would FMMs make a switch to another government that cares more for their own than Singaporeans? No wonder the cynical observation, ‘$16K (MP salary) FOR VISITING FUNERAL AND WEDDING is ’. Approach ‘B’, slapping the dozy, torpid co-driver, serves Singapore’s longer-term interest better for at least 2 reasons. Firstly, replicating PAP’s double-standard ways invariably encourages WP (or other) to behave just like PAP MPs. They keep quiet, hide, obfuscate, manipulate data when being called to account. They care more for their $1mil-per-5-year-MP-term salary than advancing citizens’ just cause – to end PAP dominance. They see their job as only and literally First World parliamentarians, seen and heard only in while keeping deafeningly quiet outside parliament. They re-emerge to play their game only come election time…instead of starting to create momentum now in time for the impending GE. When WP (& other) supporters perpetuate the same ecosystem that nurtured PAP-type MPs of recent decades, how will the FMMs vote? Probably cynically, ‘So, what’s the diff? Better the devil we know than we know not’…say sayonara to the votes needed to effect a legal change of government. Secondly, persistent, objective criticisms of WP (or other) serve best to motivate current Oppo MPs to pull up their socks – and, in so doing also a) give notice to new potential ones in-waiting and b) raise the expectations of ALL voters who hear, read, see for themselves and also contribute to our higher demands of our MPs’ conduct. We pay their salaries, remember, to improve our lives – not their part-time MP income? So, given the high stakes, multi-cornered fights are a small price we can ill-afford NOT to pay. The more the merrier. Punggol East by-election has shown that savvy Singaporean voters make a decisive choice – to bury both PAP & Oppo candidates who they want OUT. But the election of WP Lee Li Lian also serves as a potential cautionary tale to educate Singaporeans where Singapore’s longer-term need for a reasonably-well functioning democracy may be unintentionally hijacked thro’ approach ‘A’ – if Ms Lee proves to be a dud. Imagine, in our blind rage to kick out the PAP, opposition MPs elected prove to be dubious, non/under-performing ones. ‘Duds are as duds do’ and one term of such Oppo duds elected into parliament (thanks to approach ‘A’) can and will only ensure that PAP be swept back into power by simply telling voters in GE2021 (?) and beyond, ‘See, we told you so!’ Change we Must but why go casting out one devil only to bring in worst ones? Don’t say it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet. And if it does, how will you answer to our younger generation?

Therefore, “only if we demand higher standards can or will oppo candidates & MPs not take/use supporters for granted. Only when we push them to do more of what’s needed to be done (as seen fr ground level) can they not fall asleep at the wheel. Only when we make clear that they cannot simply ride, and ride ONLY, on our disaffection, our opposition to PAP and hope to be              re-elected will our common cause of policy changes or party change be served or better served. You can treat them with a kid’s gloves when they have won the 1/3 seats or form/join the next govt – but even then, for a honeymoon period only. It is not PAP per se you should be looking to change, pal. It is the SYSTEM that needs to be fully overhauled, some parts to be jettisoned. If WP forms the next govt for the next 2 decades, they will grow to be not unlike the PAP. Hey, ‘merito-guanxi’ and ‘power corrupts’ apply to EVERYONE. We must invent EFFECTIVE CHECKS & BALANCE…(the paragraphs in italics are taken from an earlier post < https://2econdsight.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/of-detractors-ahpetc-episode-oppo-party-mr-quality/&gt;) So, to everyone who disparage or disagree with my views earlier on, why settle for superficial makeover when we all can and must do better with surgical remake?

THINK AGAIN! 2cents blogs @2econdsight.wordpress.com


Leave a comment

Pro-PAP Loony Fringe criticises PAP without knowing it

In (LINK) the writer made a comment that the $8b Pioneer Generation Package was more than paid by the Net Investment Returns Contribution in a single year and future NIRC can be used for social spending. Of course, that attracted the attention of the Pro-PAP loony fringe. But first, here is a constructive response which deserves a look-in to dispel some misconceptions.

“2cents:

Let’s not forget that the $8bil will also earn some dividends or return thro’ the 20-year period. Now where does that return go to?. Tharman is not telling nor has he told us. I have also not read of any MP asking that question.

For me, it’s all very fishy. Over a 20-year period, it’s like spending an average of 5% per year. Now that 5% can be met or paid out from just the dividend/returns alone WITHOUT even having to touch the principal amount. If so, what happen to the principal sum AFTER the 20-year is done?

Chris, can you enlighten us on that or am I mistaken here somewhere?”

Mr. Tharman not smoking for a change?

Given the half truths and obfuscation spewed by the PAP, it is certainly understandable that any reasonable person may smell a fish.  But here’s Mr. Tharman when he presented the PGP in the 2014 budget speech.

“We will create a Pioneer Generation Fund for the purpose and set aside $8 billion into the Fund. The $8 billion, with accumulated interest over time, will be enough to pay for the full projected cost of the package, including a buffer for inflation.”

In the 2014 budget expenditures, $260m was already earmarked for PGP spending for that year. But since the PGP kicks in mid way through the financial year, the full year allocation would have been $520m per year. That implies the Government projected a 2.5% reinvestment rate on the yet-to-be disbursed amounts over 20 years. Total disbursements should be $10.4b.

Mr Tharman was not smoking for a change. But he did not mention the full projected cost or if a higher reinvestment return will increase the total disbursements. Given that annoying habit of under-spending budget allocations, it cannot be certain if large residual amounts in the PG Fund is going back into the SG reserves. Mind you, the Government does not report such items including land sales revenue and excess returns from investing CPF monies into the budget, which account for the large difference to that reported by the IMF / World Bank.

Loony fringe don’t understand what they support

Since citizens are already paying high taxes (they are just not called taxes), why should taxes be increased as the Pro-PAP are quick to shout when social spending can be paid by the NIRC? There is also the trade-off between butter or guns. A reduction in defence spending by 0.5% of GDP releases $1.9b for social spending and still leaves Singapore with one of the highest defence spending. The real question ought to be whether the spending out of the NIRC is sustainable. Here are the reasons it is:

–          The NIRC only takes 50% of Temasek’s Net Income which means the other 50% is available for reinvestment in Temasek’s portfolio, thus growing the reserves.

–          The NIRC only takes 50% of the expected long term real returns of GIC and MAS which means not only the remaining 50% of the expected real returns, but also the difference between real and actual returns is available for reinvestment, again growing the reserves.

–          The government’s operating surpluses adds to the reserves

–          The increased social spending may not even take up the full NIRC, adding to the reserves

–          Land sales adds to the reserves and the 99 year public and private leases and the new 30 year SA leases provide a recurring stream of revenues going into the reserves.

Social spending is not simply devouring funds. The recipients spend it or save to spend later, adding to consumption expenditure which drives the GDP. But here comes the attack of the loony fringe:

“Toyota Car:

Are you saying govt must spend until no budget surplus left? Govt surplus is saving for rainy days! If all surplus spent on welfare then we got no spare cash when emergency came! Last world finance crisis is a good eg, our govt has to use reserve surplus for guaranteed our banks is safe! If govt had spent all reserve surplus on welfare, today all our banks will already wiped off by last world finance crisis! “

“Inflation:

The interest and dividend yield of a portfolio normally is barely enough to cover inflation. Hence if we would to spend the returns from interest and dividend the portfolio will be discounted in the long run if we do not accumulate the interest and dividend .

(posters’ insults deleted)”

Both are typical of the pro-PAP comments seen social media.

Beside the financial illiteracy, the comments show the MSM is ever helpful in keeping Singaporeans ignorant. The guarantees @ Toyota referred during the GFC were just that. Unreported by the MSM, in the typical “give with one hand, take back with the other”, the MAS imposed punitive reserves requirements in exchange for guarantees, making the likelihood of drawing down the reserves remote. No reserves had actually been spent to prop up the banks.

And this is why the Pro-PAP loony fringe is the best advertisement for the Change We Must cause. They are denigrating the spending of the returns without knowing they are in fact denigrating PAP policies. For the PAP has repeatedly stated in Parliament that they are already spending the returns from the reserves via the NIRC framework. The Pro-PAP do not even understand PAP policies they were supporting and so effectively brainwashed that ironically they end up criticizing the PAP inadvertently. Certainly, the PAP doubletalk and the ever helpful MSM have also ironically created the conditions to go loony.

Chris K