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Ministerial Promotions: What Lee Kuan Yew Preached vs How Lee Hsien Loong Practises

I never cease to be amazed at how fast novice PAP MPs are appointed ministers and their promotions confirmed. A whatsapp message sums it up, ‘Do nothing and can get promotion. I oso want .’

PAP’s leadership renewal is conspicuously planned so ‘that Singapore…continue to have honest and capable leaders’ (Lee Hsien Loong) or ‘the best people in government’ (Goh Chok Tong). Or leaders who will not ‘succumb to corruption’ (LKY).

Carrie Gracie, BBC, reports, ‘to steel its…members against temptation‘ or corruption, Xi JinPing (by LKY’s assessment, ‘a man of great breathe…in the Nelson Mandela class of persons‘) started revolutionary tours for its key cadres. The PAP, however, prefer a shortcut, paying the highest salaries of any government worldwide.

Here’s how LKY sold to Singaporeans the key intent for the high salaries:

So it was an unending quest for the right man to put in the job. It takes years for a person to be tried and tested as a minister, and to develop the judgement and touch……

Let me point out how long it takes to get a MP to learn to be a minister and have the public recognise him as such, especially when he is not a natural crowd puller or a mobiliser. There are two kinds…of ministers in Singapore – the doer and the mobiliser…..

People need time to gauge and assess who has what qualities and is best suited for what jobs that can make Singapore grow and thrive…..LKY, 30/6/2000, Parliament

How do fresh-face Ong & Ng along with Chan Chun Sing and Tan Chuan-Jin – all entered parliament under the coattails GRC system, without ever having to fight man-to-man for their seats, let alone suitability for high office – measure up under LKY’s need for developing time-tested, ‘people-gauged/assessed’ ministers?

Well, someone who had a ringside view already drew a conclusion about the effectiveness of high pay policy.

“…it started going downhill when we started to raise ministers’ salaries, not even pegging them to the national salary but aligning them with the top 10…” Ngiam Tong Dow, ex-civil servant.

Let’s not take Ngiam’s word for it. Let’s look closer at the evidence before us.

Chan Chun Sing
Can anyone name one policy that Chan enacted in all the 4 ministries he helmed since May 2011, namely; Community Development, Youth & Sports, Defence (2nd minister), Social and Family Development, sec-gen of NTUC & minister in PMO that has had a measurable positive impact on our lives?

To be fair, my search into the current article making the rounds about ‘105,000 households get little food’ finds no such study. The ‘105,000 households earning S$1500/month’ is taken from Singstats’ ‘Key Household Income Trends 2012’ but not linked to they ‘getting little food’.

Be that as it may, Chan’s catchy ‘kuih lapis’ policy of tackling poverty has been 3 years in its execution (since Nov 2013).

The result? No one knows. No one knows because despite the government’s complete access to data plain refuses to publicly engage us, feigning ignorance. Or is it because the results do not measure up to expectations?

Truth is, Chan’s boss set no quantifiable goals to speak of in the first place.

Nonetheless, Chan keeps ascending the cabinet ladder – without any measurable achievements to show for.

Tan Chuan-Jin
Same question. What’s one policy that Tan enacted or helped implement since making minister at MOM and, currently, Ministry of Social & Family Development?

As manpower minister, Tan gave us the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) (公平考量框架). Anyone remember what the FCF is about? If you have the time, read link.

Any quantifiable outcomes since implementing FCF and JobsBank in Aug 2014 with much fanfare? Yes! an increase in PMETs unemployed and for longer periods, too – while evermore foreigners slipped through on EP & S-Passes!

It’s gotten so bad that in a recent 3-4 days, 4 ministers, PM Lee included, came out to loud-speak that there are 70,000 vacancies with 30,000 more in healthcare alone in the next 5 years. And PM’s lame ‘we are pursuing all the right strategies, and I am confident that, given time, they will work’.

Similarly, Tan’s boss set no numbers for him to be gauged/assessed under the FCF. After spending 369 days at MOM and pocketing S$1.3mil, he moves to a new ministry – all without having any measurable achievements to show for.

Ong Ye Kung
Same question, any policy or change he enacted as education minister since 1 Oct 2015 to show for?

The man makes grand-sounding speeches. His maiden parliamentary speech is about ‘faster legs, stronger hearts, wiser minds‘. He secured that speaking opportunity only because he couldn’t get into parliament against the Workers’ Party in Aljunied and had to be sundered therefrom to another safer PAP GRC. Ong slipped into parliament under Shanmugan’s coattail.

How does his speech meet LKY’s “do not try to impress by big words – impress by the clarity of your ideas. Then I am impressed”?

His speech is long on the big markets of China, India and Africa but short on originality and practicality. He proclaims, ‘Today China drives the value chain. We must look at China now as a tremendous business and consumer market, and learn to tap into it.’

Yeah, sure.

I knew that from visiting China in 1996. Tried to interest my Swiss bosses, subsequently, my Dutch ones to invest in a production plant (both no go), then ‘downgraded’ to a more palatable central warehouse (succeeded). Workable, specific ideas. Not the hifalutin strategy spout by a still wet-behind-the-ear acting minister. Judging by the wrath we now face from China re the South China Sea, was his boss listening?

So, what did Ong achieve (not merely do) in measurable KPIs the 395 days he ‘acted’ as education minister (high edu & skills) with his S$1.3mil pay?

Ng Chee Meng
Final same question, any single policy or change he enacted as education minister (schools) since 1 Oct 2015?

Zilch.

As a father of 2 sons, I couldn’t fathom the pathetic parliamentary statement he made to explain young Benjamin Lim’s death after his police interrogation. What if it had happened to one of his own daughters?

Ng took the same chicken parliamentary route as all his other ministerial-material 4G colleagues, behind the coattail of another minister. I often wonder what other ASEAN ministers and MPs think about him – and of Singapore. Here, Singapore’s Chief of Defence Force, a lieutenant-general who boasted about the SAF’s ‘one-shot-one-kill’ capability but too chicken to battle one-on-one with an opposition candidate! Then after 395 days of speeches, his boss made him full minister!

But Singaporeans should be even more worried: Ng batted not an eyelid when he claimed his entering politics is ‘giving back to society’, paying back his ‘indebtedness’.

Yeah, sure.

Giving back to society = giving up S$300k-S$400k SAF job and taking up PAP-guaranteed’s 3-4X higher S$1.3 mil minister’s salary apid by taxpayers? Perhaps, we peasants understand not the math behind the brains of a president scholar and top general. But he’s setting a fine example on how to give back to society for our youth, indeed.

So, what did Ng achieve (not merely do) in measurable KPIs the 395 days he ‘acted’ as education minister (schools) on his S$1.3mil pay (excl bonus)?

Conclusion
Have Singaporeans been given the time to gauge, assess Ah Chan, Ah Tan, Ah Ong & Ah Ng against LKY’s time-testing aim, ‘it takes years for a person to be tried and tested as a minister…people need time to gauge and assess who has what qualities and is best suited for what jobs that can make Singapore grow and thrive’?

Did PM Lee do a thorough job assessing, gauging them – against LKY’s timeline and standards?

Rather obvious, isn’t it?

Sadly, we observe a pattern of leadership behaviour, a habit; the love for shortcuts, taking the easy, fastest way out. Refusing to grow our own timber. With GDP, PM Lee is addicted to the shortcut of importing Foreign Talents (carrying on from Goh Chok Tong’s legacy) and adding labour instead of being a doer or a mobilizer to convince, coerce our local SMEs – and our GLCs+TLCs – to increase productivity the last 20, 30 years.

Likewise, instead of fulfilling his promise of ‘leadership succession will be one of my top priorities‘ when swearing in as PM#3 on 13/8/2004, he’s rushing a shortcut to give the false impression of offering enough candidates to succeed him. He’s denied others even half the 20-year apprenticeship he enjoyed.

But even more worrisome is a trend shaping up underneath the surface of these fast-track, undeserved promotions. If the 4 ministers’ career trajectories are an indication, then Singaporeans must begin to be afraid. Be very afraid.

It may mean that the high salary system that LKY has instituted are attracting unproven politicians who are guaranteed salary increases of up to 4 times or more of their last drawn salary. Singaporeans already have a taste of something similar at NOL, SMRT, Singapore Police, LTA, Temasek Holdings etc.

Beside the salary, it’s a surefire career choice where your promotion is guaranteed without the need to show measurable KPIs.

Even more, it’s an iron-rice-bowl job – doesn’t matter if a world’s most dangerous terrorist escape or 8 Singaporeans die illegally of Hep C infection under your watch, your job is secured and salary intact!

All you need is unfailing party loyalty.

Is Samuel Huntington right after all, “The honesty and efficiency that Senior Minister Lee has brought to Singapore are likely to follow him to his grave“? We may not perceive that yet, being too close to the unfolding but very subtle deterioration.

Or will LKY have the last word?

Time will prove that I am right that Ministers should be paid 2/3 of their private sector counterparts’ salaries of two years ago. This is the way to ensure that our government and system stay clean and honest, with able and dedicated men, who can stay in office for several terms…..

If salaries pegged to the market do not work, then not much will be lost, except a few million dollars. Singapore can always go back to the old system of paying Ministers much lower than the market rate, and hoping for the best.” LKY. 19 July 96

…but only if Singaporeans heed his advice to jettison the system. Regardless, don’t hold your breath. 69.9% voters (now, minus Dr Lee Wei Lin) think things are honky dory under PAP & Lee Hsien Loong.

2016-11-02-photo-00000004

If you happen to be one of the children of any of the 4 ministers reading this, please ask your pa if he ever search his heart as each day departs.

Law Kim Hwee

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PAP’s ‘Govt Serves All’ Volte-face…Walk The Walk

“Let’s put it this way, it’s a democracy … you decide what you want to choose, for better or worse. I will tell you that we will endeavour to do our best, whatever the outcome.

All of you remain Singaporeans. You don’t vote for us but we are here to still continue to provide policies that cut across every division.” Tan Chuan-Jin, 20 Apr 2015

Let me state upfront that I am not convinced of the sincerity of the apparent volteface in PAP’s policy. Leopards do not change their spots. And if they now appear to due to modern science, or as in the case of PAP politicians due to modern technology (chiefly, social media and a more vocal electorate), the change will have to be carefully observed and confirmed from actual practice and performance and not mere pronouncements – by a junior minister barely 4 years as a PAP member.

Here’s why.

Whilst many of us can quickly juxtapose Tan’s words with that of Mah Bow Tan’s utterance as Minister of Nat Devt, ‘‘Upgrading for all wards, but PAP ones first’ (Straits Times, 11 Jun 06), let us be reminded that the ‘PAP ward first’ policy has been in place for nearly 20 years and that it was articulated by the very highest PAP officials – and as ministers.

It was first publicly told to Singaporeans by PAP Sec-Gen & PM Goh Chok Tong himself. “You vote for the other side, that means you reject the programmes of the PAP candidate… If you reject it, we respect your choice. Then you’ll be left behind,then in 20, 30 years’ time, the whole of Singapore will be bustling away, and your estate through your own choice will be left behind. They become slums. That’s my message.” (‘We will fight GE as local election’, The Straits Times, 23 Dec 96.)

Then, as recent as a month short of GE 2011, from the current PM Lee Hsien Loong at 2011 NUS Ministerial Forum, “Between the people who voted and supported the programme and the government, and the people who didn’t, I think if we went and put yours before the PAP constituencies, it would be an injustice.” There was a huge adverse reaction by citizens to Lee’s reported remarks.

And who can forget the Grandmaster LKY himself in the heat of the 2011 hustlings, “Aljunied has five years to live and repent.” I couldn’t figure if the Old Man sounded ‘more desperate then reckless or bold’. Yeah, but he sure ‘left it out there cold, too far gone to care…..’


We are seeing the volteface of a terribly flawed and arrogant way of governing. It showed no less the defective mindset, the DNA of PAP leaders whose persuasion weapon of choice is through threats and intimidation. Should Singaporeans continue to vote for such leaders and leadership?

I’m fully persuaded that there will be no apologies for the ‘injustice’ done to the longsuffering residents (both PAP & Opposition voters) in Potong Pasir, Hougang & Aljunied/Punggol East.

As such, what Tan Chuan-Jin has uttered is no more done for the sake of winning FMM (fence-sitters, marginal supporters, mal/mis-informed) voters. And NOT a true change of heart of the hubristic PAP who continue to believe in their heart of hearts – wrongly and, hopefully, fatally – that only they are talented and deserve to rule Singapore.

So, how will we know when there is a true change of heart? Let me suggest that to be when the day we see these 2 changes made – but only as a visible start and evidence:

One, the depoliticization of Town Councils (and related organizations such as RCs, CCCs etc) preferably back to HDB to manage as it was prior to the Town Council Act 1988 and the managers of the related organizations to be elected by each constituency voters not appointed by MPs.

Two, the depoliticization of The People’s Association. We are talking about an organization with a yearly budget of more than S$1bil (51.3% increase over FY2014). The money is ostentatiously disbursed for activities and facilities to serve residents but as always via PAP’s own money-sucking network of supporters and not necessary through meritorious considerations.

BOTH sets of organizations would have been rightly politically-neutral in their constitutions were they not adulterated and hijacked by PAP to serve their party’s interests more than residents and voters.
BOTH the above 2 actions will begin to demonstrate that Tan’s pronouncement is not merely words to win over voters.

“Lips and tongues lie. But actions never do. No matter what words are spoken, actions betray the truth of everyone’s heart.” Sherrilyn Kenyon, Born of Fury

Or more succinctly, PAP ‘walk the walk…do not just talk the talk’. Ex Brigadier-Gen Tan will understand if and when we ex-NSF believe that he’s just talking cock.
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Facing Uncertainties…Not Afraid To Be Insecure

Sedated and on mechanical ventilation, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s condition reportedly ‘improves slightly’. His son PM Lee Hsien Loong is recovering from his prostate surgery. The once self-pronounced seat-warmer PM#2, Mr Goh Chok Tong, appears to want his seat back, discussing succession.

But while trying to sound stateman-like, he appears to undermine his successor.

PM will be alright. But his prostate cancer, and mine too, show life’s unpredictability. Hence, all the more reasons to plan for uncertainty. I hope competent men and women of integrity will step forward to carry Singapore into the future. — gct”

2 observations from Goh’s posting.

First, on uncertainty, he invariably opens up a can of worms for PM#3. By putting ‘plan’ (or planning) alongside ‘uncertainty’ in the current, restive political climate, citizens would naturally ask how PM Lee’s planning record looks like.

Singaporeans are rather reasonable people. We understand that no one can be in full control of events. But we are less forgiving where some future scenarios of reasonable certainty are concerned.         Hence, before discussing ‘uncertainty’, we want to first measure PM Lee against the handful of ‘certainties’ he has dealt with both as Dy PM and PM. We find 3 issues of critical concern for an aging populace.

Retirement Adequacy: What’s relatively certain back in Nov 1990 when he made Dy PM is the number of 65 year-old there would be 2015. It was not a matter of uncertain guesswork but near statistical certainty when economically unproductive, our seniors need adequate retirement funding. Besides, he and the PAP cabinets he led over that period were in full control of the Parliament. What’s more, his own team and even his wife were all helming MAS, GIC & Temasek Holdings. They were able to pass laws and make executive decisions on the CPF returns such that CPF’s mission (annual report 2002), ‘to enable Singaporeans to save for a secure retirement’ is achieved.

In other words, Singaporeans entrusted them with every possible resource to carry out the responsibility of ensuring our Retirement Adequacy.

Regrettably, PAP leaders have not applied the same clarity of purpose to adequately grow our retirement dollars as they did when initiating and passing the bill to increase our Minimum Sums or to unilaterally rescind on the contract to allow for withdrawal at 55. Instead, they give us a derisory 2.5% since 2004 while our less talented, much lower-paid neighbour’s EPF managers paid rates almost consistently double to their members. One can only guess, sadly, that the $mil-salaried ministers and civil servants were merely pussying about with digits – the citizens – not just the dollar figures in CPF accounts, knowing full well that it wouldn’t matter to themselves and their own either way.

Housing: Why is it nigh impossible to achieve an affordability ratio of max 3X annual income when the government owns 76.2% (as at 1965) of the total land area? Is it because of their devious mental block that selling land for affordable HDB citizens amounts to ‘raiding our reserves’? What are the reserves for if not to benefit citizens, current and future, the ultimate land owners, through judicious management instead of greed?

Healthcare: Whilst it isn’t easy to grasp how new medicine and technology can affect healthcare costs, it is inconceivable that on the matters of physical healthcare amenities, we can end up with one-year dental appointments, exceptionally long waiting times and – horrors – either no hospital beds or settle for beds along corridors or in makeshift tentages. After such failures, it’s incredible that PAP remains so cocksure of their competence and has now legislated that with retirement inadequacy staring us down, everyone alive into our unemployed70’s, 80’s, 90’s will still have to pay insurance premiums.

Second observation; ‘competent men and women of integrity’. With the GE looming, Goh’s call for this category of citizens to ‘step forward to carry Singapore into the future’ can only suggest one, and only one, thing. PAP hasn’t got enough candidates and/or those they now have recruited are deemed to be less than competent and/or somewhat wanting in integrity…to meet the uncertainties ahead.

As if he didn’t quite get the point across about the dearth of candidates to form the next team, a fortnight later, 1 Mar, Goh indirectly criticised PM#3 for failing in succession planning. How else is one to interpret the trumpeting of his own succession planning right after ascending the PM throne while helpfully pointing out that ‘the present team still needs a few more people to be completed. I know he’s looking for more people outside, and by the next election and maybe a few years after that, we can see the entire team more or less shaping up.”

Eh, ‘maybe…more or less shaping up’ – after 10 years and now pushing 65 and cancer-stricken? ‘Whisky Tango Hotel!’ (i.e. ‘what the heck!’…apologies, but Whisky Tango Foxtrot is alien to my speech). Can you imagine your ex-CEO making such a statement if you are CEO, recovering from major surgery?

To all you PAP zealots and FMMs (fence-sitters, marginal supporters and mal/mis-informed voters) out there, the message is not as cryptic as faux-statesmanlike Goh would like to think he is putting across so as not to hurt poor little Loong’s feelings. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see and udnerstand that the Lee Hsien Loong Team

a) Has failed miserably in not even managing issues that are certain and foreseeable (just 3 e.g. Retirement Adequacy, Housing and Healthcare Affordability).

b) Has either been incompetent (did not bother to find successors and/or the S$mil salaries and S$8/- bypass medical cost for themselves and family members are too good to pass) or conducted themselves in such a way that competent and honest people find them a stench to identify themselves with.

Please be not tricked by Goh’s subtle implication to vote in ‘a few more people’ the next GE in order to form the full team. THINK! If the leaders you have entrusted your retirement funds, the roof over your head and your medical needs – not to mention the ominous, continued loss of PMET jobs to more and more foreigners – have failed with such critical basic certainties in our lives after more than a decade and despite the impressive GDP figures, can you afford to trust them another 5 years?

Or is it time to start putting in place an alternative team to learn the ropes?

Which is riskier, those who have actually failed to deliver but continue to be in denial or those yet untried but stepping forward at great personal costs?

What is your answer to your children’s question circa 2025, ‘How did you vote to bring about where I am now?’

“When an old culture is dying, the new culture is born by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.” Rudolf Badro,

Reimagine a new Singapore circa 2025 – and beyond – that is born, not by a few, but 65% voters who are not afraid to be insecure…

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PAP’s Mind Games

7 Dec 2014, the PAP Sec-Gen rallied his troops with the never-before uttered, ‘the coming GE is a dead-serious battle’. The troops themselves lapped it up – unthinkingly. None questioned, ‘How come, from the default party of choice to dominance threatened, possible defeat even?’

Tellingly, too, the Sec-Gen was betting that non-party voters will be as unquestioningly daft to believe his assertion that ‘if the PAP is in trouble, Singapore will be in trouble’.

The ruler didn’t think that the previously daft electorate has been subjected, like the peasants of the French Revolution, to PAP’s own version of ‘let them eat cakes’. In place of a lack of food, we have been strangled, subjected to the non-stop treadmill of PAP’s rent-seeking, money-robbing schemes. In place of gathering outside the palace, the enlightened among the dafts have coalesced on the internet.


Deception is the key to cultivate the crowd

We’ll be mistaken to believe that the PAP are a clueless bunch when it comes to political strategy. Since overtly piling and playing on voters’ fears can backfire very badly, rationalizing for voters that their fears are intelligent, legit will serve PAP better.

Little wonder that the Sec-Gen scheduled a (rigged) Q&A session with his Propaganda Dept (14-15 Jan) to casually inform the GE is not yet. But, for good measure, Singaporeans must know that his successor remains at large. Voters should understand that they may well be voting in the Next Chosen One from amongst the new faces PAP will be fielding. Left unsaid, ‘So please, hor, give your vote to our new candidates.’

Yet another move in the well-crafted grand strategy to secure the long-time supporters while reaching out to FMMs (fence-sitters, marginal supporters and mal/mis-informed) is PM Lee’s Facebook Q&A. This exercise is not unprecedented. What is, is the follow-up masterstroke of Tea with PM for some 13 lucky fans 18 – 63 years old, all gullible as props to serve the PAP’s end. The guests to tea must be so impressed that they must tell the world of a ‘true, caring’, approachable, working-like-shit PM who is “the Man to lead Singapore for the next decade!”

Desperation is the kink in their armour
So, what gives with the paper-general Chan Chun Sing’s (CCS) new Union Chief appointment? A surprise? That would be an understatement in PAP’s 60 years in existence. The PAP Singaporeans know is one beast that leaves little to Lady Chance. PM#2 and PM#3 talked about succession even as they just ascended their thrones. The NTUC Sec-Gen position, with its hundreds of thousands of members and its historic role played in PAP’s ascension would rank high in importance – even if it isn’t the normal route to premiership.

Consider, as early as 2011, PAP tried to sell Ong Ye Kung as a ministerial potential with his NTUC background.

Therefore, the staggeringly surprising change in CCS’ appointment, usurping Heng Chee How (NTUC Dy Sec-Gen since 1999) as the next Union Chief (all formalized in one day) speaks of a decisive if desperate move by PAP. But is it ‘strategy’?

Consider this angle. PM Lee did publicly assess that ‘Singaporeans want PAP to govern Singapore’. If this is the assessment (actually, he cannot possibly say otherwise), then how would that inform PAP’s GE strategy? We already heard that the PM-in-waiting has yet to be anointed, so please hor, vote our new candidates. PM Lee also tried to seal the image of a hardworking, friendly servant of the people via an ‘unexpected’ FB Q&A – orchestrated a week after a live one with the Press..

Are these seemingly casual moves or well-planned ones meant to reach out to the FMMs?

So, whither CCS’ new appointment?

I submit that it is THEIR chess move to subtly focus the minds of the electorate. The voter needs to see PAP’s (voter’s) future in PAP’s (voter’s) choice of PAP’s next possible PM (voter’s personal future situations or children’s) secured – or at least steps taken to the effect.
Leaving little to Lady Chance, PAP even enlisted their has-been PM Goh CT to chime in that CCS is destined for a ‘bigger role’. Goh, in blind service to the PAP instead of the people of Singapore, saw no disconnect in his endorsement of CCS whose record is as follows;

1987 – 2011
: Military career. Achievement, Chief of Army.

26 Mar 2010 – 25 Mar 2011
: Chief of Army (Paper Chief for all of 365 days). Achievement, not publicly discussed.

27 Apr 2011
: Elected MP on Nomination Day. Achievement, rode on MM LKY’s coattail.

21 May 2011 – 31 Oct 2012
: Acting Minister, of Community Development, Youth & Sports. Achievement,                                                nothing to publicize even by his boss, PM Lee.

1 Nov 2011 – 31 Aug 2013
: Acting Minister of Social & Family Development. Achievement, promoted to                                                 full minister. Achievement, no notable citation of specific KPI reached.

1 Sep 2013 – now
: Minister of Social & Family Development. Achievement, nothing but                                                             nonetheless, got Goh’s ringing endorsement as the next ‘bigger’ thing in Singapore politics.

(N.B.: There’s zilch in his whole life that he’s shown even an inkling of working for workers’ welfare. Absolutely zero.)

If a jack-of-many-trades-with-quantifiable-achievements-in-none is premiership material – in PAP’s current configuration – then shit has hit the fan. When LKY dissected PM potentials in the 80’s, he carefully explained both their strengths and weaknesses. Remember ‘wooden’, ‘Indian’ to explain why PM-shortlisted but not PM-anointed? What’s more, LKY had 4, 5 to pick from. Now, PAP has only one – perhaps, he’s the only one who gleefully ‘kee chiu’ (volunteered) for the job?

So, for all the razzmatazz (‘excited action or impressive display’ or is it ‘evasive or misleading language; double talk’?), signs of desperation writ large as a kink in their strategy armour.

Mind Games
Summarizing, CCS’ dazzling ascension can be read as the normal, predictable almost, way of the PAP we have come to know – i.e. succession planning. But now his inexplicable butt-up into Union Chief territory, coming less than 2 years into his 2 achievement-less Ministerships, leaves us wondering if this is a desperate or reckless or bold move by the PAP?

Recall once again why would PAP Sec-Gen Lee say that the next PM choice “is not entirely certain, because I will bring in some MPs and some new people with leadership calibre in the next General Election” on 16 Jan, then barely a week later, agreed to NTUC’s request to second CCS to be their deputy Sec-Gen – all within a day.

Rounding off with Goh’s unabashed endorsement. Goh’s not known for verbosity. That’s impossible for anyone wooden, except in the hands of the late ventriloquist Victor Khoo as Charlee. From his brief 61-word 25 Jan FB post lavishing praise on CCS, he found it necessary to draw voters’ attention that with the CCS’ move ‘Singapore needs to look forward’.
Therefore, does not the whole affair smack of PAP’s grand strategy at mind games; to calculatingly, psychologically assure party supporters while simultaneously manipulate FMMs with a view to intimidate the one or confuse the other into voting a ‘certainty that what we have now is going to continue’ come the GE?
Now, opposition parties and anti-PAP troopers, what are you going to do about that?

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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