It’s difficult but I try to cultivate the habit of understanding things in their original context; original, not proper. ‘Original’ calls for objectivity. ‘Proper’ implies projecting one’s values on the context.
Another thing I try to be more careful with is when responding to someone who suffers from a visible, physical disability. Words may unintentionally be used that imply negatively of that someone. Or, readers may bend or impute seemingly harmless, objective words/phrases to hit back at you.
So it is that I transcribed Chia Yong Yong’s full 18-min speech to understand what the big hoo-ha is all about.
PM Lee & Minister Ng correctly interpreted (that doesn’t mean both got it right contextually) CYY’s main thrust. Essentially, both lauded her take that ‘collective responsibility must take place in the context of personal responsibility. Without personal responsibility, collective responsibility would break down.’ I’ll come back to them later.
Now, let’s put CYY’s view in her context.
Yes, CYY ‘is the President of SPD (Society for the Physically Disabled) and widely known for her accomplishments despite a muscle wasting disorder.’ But does her physical disability bestow greater credibility to her views when it comes to matters of personal responsibility over one’s own legal possessions and property? Even though CYY wasn’t born in a well-to-do family, does it necessarily mean that she actually understand, never mind empathise, with those amongst us still struggling to pay off high HDB housing loans at 55? Or wish to venture into a small buinesss, or after years of self-denial, to enjoy that special trip overseas, perform what may well be the only haj this lifetime (compared to how ‘she packs her bags twice a year for overseas vacations and church camps. Australia, Thailand and most recently, South Korea are destinations of choice’?
Does an accomplished physically disabled but relatively well-off with little or no family obligations actually understand what having to look after our CPF-less parents, raise kids of tertiary age while at the same time hoping to be able to save enough for one’s own & spouse’s retirement feel about how we should spend our CPF monies?
Instead of speaking from the safe abode of parliament, I challenge CYY to bring her message to citizens in dire or near dire need to lay hands on the originally & legally-contracted (she a lawyer?) CPF withdrawal conditions. I’ll be happy to help her organize a town hall meeting to that end. Perhaps, then, the premises upon which she so coolly, so carelessly based her original CPF yakety-yak will be more rigourously, empirically founded and valid.
Otherwise, please pardon my directness, ‘Remain seated down but shut up about CPF.’
Back to our 2 PAP leaders. Let’s see how they misappropriate words to fit their own context, justify their own views, serve their own ends.
CYY’s 18-min speech covers Social Service, Skillsfuture and National Research Fund fundings i.e. her CPF take is but one of 4 areas. Collectively, her message is:
Her main thrust is to minimise waste and abuse of Budget money dispensed to support Singaporeans in social service, skill acquisition, R&D and, almost as if an afterthought to brandish her PAP-stamped credentials, the issue of CPF to cast doubts on the Workers’ Party call on CPF retirement payment at 60 instead of 65.
- 5 days after CYY’s speech, 8 Mar, the elevated interest level in CYY’s speech to PM Lee & Ng is seen from it being the only one that both highlighted in their FB account. Inderjit Singh’s call for Minimum Wage and his clear justifications is totally, totally snubbed. Hey, Eng Hen, doesn’t Inderjit’s call carry ‘a lot of credibility given his own life story and personal struggles’ as a businessman!!?? …Whiskey Tango Hotel, what hypocrisy by Sunray! Out!
- The other 3 issues CYY spoke about were completely ignored (remember ‘context’?), only our ‘not our money CPF’ was selectively highlighted and praised to serve PAP ideology god .
What does this tell us about the PAP leaders’ mindset? It’s clear isn’t it? The PAP top guns continue to hang on to their superfixated, unbending ideology of helping the rich get richer while protecting them from having to play their part in the social contract even as Singaporeans are genuinely and increasingly crying out from being thrown under the unstoppable bus of PAP’s combined GDP-growth-at-all-costs and self-reliance policies.
Can we afford another PAP term of office, with their reluctance, nay their refusal, to revisit their flawed policies in response to Singapore’s changed reality? Kicking the can of retirement inadequacy (PAP-created) and high-cost living (PAP-created) down the road only, perhaps, to blow up in the faces of our children later? Does PM Lee have to actually see some actual ‘dead poor‘ or some deaths-from-being-poor in his dream of a 6.9-mil residential Disneyland for more billionaires (no worries, no squeeze if you are one of them or theirs) before they change their mindset?
My 2 Super’trivial’ Questions
“Ms Chia, our Budget money, is it really PAP’s private money?”
“PM Lee, is it right to think of taxpayers’ money as ‘our (PAP’s) money’, to be spent solely as PAP choose to in order to and only when it maximises PAP’s chances to win the next GE – is that ‘collective responsibility’ or legalized grand larceny?”