Not Telling It Like It Is
Reading Kishore’s Big Idea series I remain unsure whether to pity him; ensconced in his ivory towers, pontificating to himself, his fellow privileged clique or for the government-controlled Straits Times captive daft audience. Or thank him for courageously revealing himself to thinking Singaporeans as the Chief Jester that he is in PAP’s court…albeit, a million$-salaried one.
Still, if one reads between the lines, his articulations may also be part of an emerging chorus of civic leaders – mostly beholden to the PAP government for their salaries – talking cryptically. Delivering hidden, needed messages to their political masters without saying so outright. Either they fear being chastised to enter politics or shut-the-heck-up – or their wives are grabbing their tails to rein in their mouths (and the paychecks). Both reasons, probably.
Consider, in urging Singaporeans to ‘laugh more’, Kishore writes of how M’sia ex-PM Mahathir’s “stature was in no way diminished by the cartoons Lat drew of him…Indeed, they may even have enhanced Dr Mahathir’s national stature”, only to make a hasty retreat that “Singapore is clearly not ready yet for a serious political cartoonist”. He then lamely finger-points his other non-politician elitists as targets who “would not object to being lampooned once in a while”. Nice friend, this Kishore.
To sail so close to the wind with the Mahathir example only to change course pronto reveals not for want of belief that he retreated. Kishore lacks the balls to tell it like it is. So here, let me oblige him what he denies himself, “Singapore is clearly ready for not ‘a’ but an ‘army’ of political cartoonists, serious or otherwise. It’s thin-skinned politicians who are the cry babies. Period.” Local satirist talents in alternative media already exist in hordes. Have Kishore and his intellectual clique not read or are they afraid to lose their jobs if caught actively seek out dissenting viewpoints?
Discrediting Himself, eh, Big Time
But I digress.
His 2-word summation, ‘Love Singapore’, comes across almost anticlimactic, especially after touting his ideas to be ‘Big’ ones. 11 Jan, Kishore was cocksure that “it is an undeniable fact that, since its independence in 1965, Singapore has been one of the most successful societies in human history. His kick-off column asserts that “To move forward in the next 50 years, Singapore will have to think of new equivalents. The country cannot live on the intellectual capital of the past forever.”
“The Big Ideas need not be original ideas. They could be old ideas which may be appropriate for our times.” <http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/singapore/story/2014-the-year-big-ideas-20140111#sthash.qV9iJw8u.dpuf>
Now, after discussing 10 Big Ideas through 2014, instead of the expected Big Bang finale, he whimpers a conclusion to “Love Singapore” via “three practical deeds we can do to demonstrate our love so as to replicate her past 50-year success. All three deeds begin with the letter ‘L’: litter not, laugh a lot, and live the pledge”. Somehow, the ‘L’ remains me of ‘lucre’ – and LKY’s “what’s wrong with collecting more money.”
Anyway, while Mr Thinker philosophizes the 3Ls as acts of love, We the Citizens see the 3Ls as symptomatic of the existential challenges forced upon us in the last 20 years arising from asset enhancement, foreigners-first policies in mindless, greedy pursuit of GDP glory…plus $mil salaries.
So, just when readers are warming up to expect some ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ truthfulness about our littering and lack of laughter, Mr Thinker (one of UK Prospect’s 2014 top 50 world thinkers) appears to take complete leave of his brains to do a volte-face. After admitting that “many of the (less successful) Asean countries are happier than Singapore” he goes, “It would be foolish to try to analyse the deeper sources of our relative unhappiness in a brief article like this”. Huh?
Isn’t it actually more foolish to proceed to say that ‘laughing with each other’ can unbundle our happiness conundrum while cavalierly blaming our ‘lack of space’ to be the main cause.
Treating his audience so can only suggest to us that Mr Thinker is either intellectually dishonest or patronizing us daft citizens or, as already stated, worships his salary (or wife) more than his own self-esteem. Or all three. Or he lives in fear?
Come on, Mr Thinker, spit it out!
No Balls To Spit Out, He Invariably Splils Out.
Regardless, by juxtaposing Singapore’s 50-year success with Singaporeans’ littering habits, lack of laughter and lapse in living the Pledge, Kishore has exposed his political masters’ abject failure in building the critical, higher values that separate us humans from mere animals – while gelling us as ‘one united people’. The outstanding success of Singapore Inc appears to make, by Kishore’s own 3-L measures, zoo exhibits of us all (literally littering our shit about our cages, all unhappy in our cramped country hurling towards 6.9 mil people and going, huh, what pledge?).
Or has he intentionally but cryptically, after 12 months, shown a signal, a glimpse of the Singapore ground reality to his PAP masters, hoping that ‘now (they) see in a mirror dimly, but then face-to-face’ sooner – the “deeper sources of our relative unhappiness”.
But will it be all too late for We the Citizens and our beloved Singapore on the current trajectory? The trajectory of our political leaders fiddling while Singapore lives slow-burn…and, sadly if not damnably, civic leader-kittens such as Kishore purrs like overfed, fattened, domesticated felines feasting from the cornucopia of citizens’ tax money at the table of their hubristic emperors.
LeeKuanYew did suggest to HK Civil/Civic Leaders to come together to confront China to negotiate for HongKongers their best interests when China reclaimed HK circa 1997. We cannot but plead with Civic and Civil Leaders to form a united front to tell the PAP, “thus far and no further will you come, here your proud waves” of repressive economic doctrines and shameless worship of mammoth MUST STOP!
The days are long but time is short for ye geriatrics, your lights are a’dimming. Nothing survives but the way we live our lives.
Influence is a terrible thing to waste.
Kishore, are you wise and man enough to rally your so-called Singapore’s ‘leading lights’, to unite to tell it like it is to the politicians that Change we Must…that Diversity beats Dominance, itself not an original Big Idea but one “appropriate for our times”?
Or, do we label you an ‘L’ – as in a ‘Lost’ cause?
(Readers may wish to read Kishore’s concluding article to see for themselves how ironic, if not cryptic, his words can be…if only the PAP is not trying to discover new landscapes but see with new eyes. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/columns/story/the-final-big-idea-love-singapore-20141213