2econdsight

"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"


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The Truth Behind The Beauty Of Tharman (Part 1)

Given the current, overwhelming approbations and adoration, even, in both social and mainstream media for PAP Elder-cum-Dy PM Tharman, it is with a truckload of trepidation that I approach my blog today….

Let me begin by stating clearly that I admire Mr Tharman for all the same reasons that the majority of we-the-citizens-of-Singapore do. I was lucky enough to have met him personally on 10 Mar 2013 at Taman Jurong Hawker Centre. He extended and followed-up  his words of assistance in my job hunt, emailing me a few times. He’s the real deal.

We all recall his admonition to SDP Chee to ‘discuss things openly, tell people the truth‘.
But I am of the view that Tharman doesn’t practise what he preaches – most of the time. Neither with discussing things openly (remember the smack-down in parliament, ‘no strategic purpose‘ for us to know about what went wrong at Temasek with Goodyear) nor, most certainly, with telling the truth, but only selected facts or half-truths.

So, what then the truth behind this beauty of a party elder, a statesman?

To find out, let’s first ‘discuss things openly, tell people the truth’ about our retirement adequacy via our CPF scheme. Tharman claims ‘the CPF system provides a level of retirement adequacy comparable, if not superior, to other pension systems once you take into account the savings that are locked in one’s housing‘.

Scratch deeper and Tharman’s assertion comes up troubling when we consider;

*One’s housing price appreciation must continue to beat inflation between the times of purchase and unlocking. Put differently, for such an retirement plan to work, our children or grandchildren must shoulder the ever-widening gap between house value appreciaction and real inflation. A house of cards, a Ponzi-sque scheme? Perversely, in between, Singaporeans end up funding PRs who buy our HDB units, cash out and retire comfortably in China, India, Malaysia, Philippines.

*HDB statistics show that 117,225, 241,343, 309,007, 256,913 & 85,070 ‘dwelling units’ were built in ’61-’70, ’71-80, ’81-’90, ’91-2000 & 2001-10 respectively. The leasehold balance of the units will continue to age  – and their values will correspondingly depreciate.
What then for 2,3 generations of daft ones believing in ‘unlocking’ a sure-bet basic roof over one’s head?

*What if, like the situation that is unfolding before our very eyes today, one happens to ‘retire’ and need to unlock one’s housing – only to face a real estate market in decline with falling prices? And, of course, with Murphy’s Law, that usually happens with one losing one’s job as well.

*Aside from the cold, hard numbers, forcing, coercing or enticing retirees to sell off, rent out one’s ‘home’ where privacy and dignity should be the least one’s left to ask of this life – how’s that for a sense of humanity for fellow we-the-citizens who are less naturally-endowed, less talented to earn more than enough to survive when able-bodied? A heart-of-stone approach to governing?

 

While I acknowledge the arguments that Yeoh Lam Keong advances for improvements to the 3 pillars to ‘fill up’ our retirement nest, I find it disappointing that the issue of ‘leaks’ from that nest via rent-seeking prices on our public housing is not categorically dealt with at all.

The above factual and situational scenarios I have listed are by not means exhaustive. There are many other unforeseen and unforeseeable developments. Developments that will sink Tharman’s assertion, nay, boast that the PAP’s continuously-managed-for-60 years CPF is built on false hope and Ponzi-like foundations, at least for the less capable ones amongst we-the-citizens.
Will the real Tharman please ‘discuss things openly, tell people the truth’?

In our next post, we try to understand the truth behind Tharman’s modest response to calls for his premiership.

Law Kim Hwee

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Minority President: The Truth Behind The Beauty of Symbolism

Let’s try to ‘rescue truth from beauty’….

Truth vs Beauty

“It is a very necessary symbolism of what we are as a multiracial society – what Singapore means, stands for and what we aspire to be.” PM Lee Hsien Loong

The beauty of a symbolic minority-race Singapore President, albeit an elected one, is that those of the majority race can say with a straight face that the tyranny of the ethnic majority does not exist in Singapore.

But the truth is that the Malays, in particular, continue to be discriminated against in the military, the civil service and select cabinet portfolios – after half a century as an independent Singapore.

Likewise, and perhaps sadder still, the truth is that the Singapore female, at a 1.036 ratio higher than male, continues to be overwhelmingly under-represented in the top echelons of the cabinet, among MPs and the civil service – after half a century of universal education for all regardless of sex.

Do the above racial and gender (factual) situations not deserve the same ‘very necessary symbolism of what we are as a multiracial society’, Mr Prime Minister?

Symbolism With Substance
Symbolism taken to its progressive, logical end can only mean proportional representation across racial and gender lines and across all offices. That, however, is neither a realistic nor a wise approach given the self-evident differences in human beings, as much as the similarities we all share. Whilst proportionality ensures all categories of people have a seat at the table, society may not be prepared to pay the price of a slower and, probably, lower average rate of material progress.

PM himself admits ‘the head of state represents all Singaporeans‘ – more a figurehead than an elected office bearer – with nothing much needed to show for. Hence, would not the ‘very necessary symbolism’ that the PM so believes in be truly better served with symbolism in offices of true substance – where the office bearer or appointee gets the opportunity to show her/his leadership competence in the military, civil service and cabinet?

What’s more, what does it mean to claim, ‘yes, this is my country. Someone like me can become the head of state, can represent the country‘ when only the daft ones will not know that that Malay, Indian or Eurasian President is only there because it is her/his turn to occupy the Istana as a mere symbol of multi-racialism?

Symbolism vs Tokenism vs…Puppetism
To get a clearer understanding, we look up any reputable dictionary to understand what ‘symbolism’ and, its very close synonym, ‘tokenism’ mean.

sym·bol·ism

n.1. The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.

to·ken·ism

n.1. The policy of making only a perfunctory effort or symbolic gesture toward the accomplishment of a goal, such as racial integration.

As can be seen, what PM Lee tries to sell to us is for the minority-race President to ‘attribute symbolic meanings or significance’ to our belief in multi-racialism. But, isn’t it clearer still that, since he is not interested whatsoever in addressing the as-very-necessary racial and gender symbolism in the military, civil service and cabinet, what Singaporeans, especially the aggrieved minorities are being shortchanged with ‘tokenism’ i.e. ‘making only perfunctory effort or symbolic gesture’ towards multi-racialism?

The analysis leads us inevitably to the truth of tokenism devised and disguised as the beauty of ‘a very necessary symbolism‘. One designed to advance the PAP imperative for puppetism in order to serve its party dominance in Singapore. in order that they, the natural aristocrats, can ‘decide what is right. Never mind what the people think‘. Never mind what the elected President thinks.

The ultimate survival of Singapore is secondary to that imperative of PAP dominance. Thus, expect a superficial, wayang-like parliamentary debate where PM Lee will ‘persuade you that it is something that we should do and which is good for Singapore’.

If he truly believes in the strength of his argument, he’d put the proposed amendments to a referendum. Tetapi Perdana Menteri tidak mempunyai bola, methinks.