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"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"


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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 behind the beauty of a tokenism devised and disguised as ‘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.

 


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SAFTI @ 50 & The Leaders Produced

SAFTI’s 50th anniversary is a celebration for me personally. I spent my BMT, SISL and SMC at SAFTI while transiting from teenage to adulthood. PM Lee lauded it for producing past and present military leaders who have built and transformed the SAF.

My family ‘contributed’2 years of our youngest son’s young life to SAFTI, all in the belief that he has to do his “duty to ensure that Singapore will always be secure, so that your families, and all Singaporeans, can always be confident of our future together.” But so many of his cohort found it ludicrous to abide by that conviction when they could see sons of PRs and naturalized citizens steal a 2-year march on them (many with taxpayers’ money) to university and to plumb jobs and higher salaries. Some they’ll be reporting to or asking a job from later in their lives.

But my question for us today is: What do the records show of the SAFTI-produced leaders since year 2000? Here are the notable ones:

  • Former Chief of Defence Force (2003-07) Major-General Ng Yat Chung, recent last CEO NOL (fr Oct 2011)
  • Former Chief of Defence Force (2007-10) Desmond Kuek Bak-Chye,President and CEO SMRT (since Oct 2012)
  • Former Chief of Army (2010-11) MG Chan Chun Sing, Minister (since May 2011)
  • Brigadier-General Tan Chuan Jin, Minister (since May 2014)

Peacetime field performance, sand-model strategy prowess and medals do not reliably indicate actual performance during wartime or periods of national unrest. None, no not one, of our SAFTI leaders have even fired a shot at an actual enemy or terrorist.

Just ask ourselves. What’s happened to NOL since 2012, a precious state asset? What about SMRT since 2013? Any notable policies from ministries helmed by the generals since they were elevated? No ifs, no buts, what do the quantifiable and quantified results of the units they CEO-ed say of the above SAFTI-produced leaders?

Why are taxpayers paying $million$ for non- or dismal performance or pedestrian ones?. And other than Rear Admiral Liu, has anyone voluntarily gotten out of his way for his lackadaisical performance?

But sadder still to see that less-than competent leader-type has now ‘progressed’. I save the best for last.

The most recent addition and transition from SAF to full minister in one superman (PAP-style) step, is the ex-Chief of Defence Force LG Ng Chee Meng.

He’s the only defence honcho – ever – who claims his army is capable of ‘one-shot, one-kill’, under his watch, no less. Google and you won’t find even armies with recent and extended boots-on-the-ground experience (USA, UK, France, Netherlands, Israel, to name a few with similar modern weaponry) dare make such a boast.

Even more astonishingly, he claimed his entering politics is ‘giving back to society’, paying back his ‘indebtedness’. O! how far the values of our leaders have fallen! What does he mean by giving back to society – leaving behind a S$300k to S$400k SAF job for a 3-4X higher S$1.2mil minister post?

Giving back by taking more from society’s tax coffers?

Be afraid. Be very afraid – of such a system producing such leaders with such track records and boastful or “giving-back-to-society” values.

I have no personal dislike of any generals mentioned here. Not least, Ng Chee Meng. In fact, he appears personable, like Tan Chuan Jin. I have been repeating this observation of Ng’s ‘giving-back-to-society’ claim primarily for what his words mean – or would mean – to citizens and especially to younger Singaporeans observing how the PAP leaders of today compare with yesteryears’ (such as ex-Law Minister E W Barker who faced difficulties servicing his semi-d loan, according to LKY). What do their words and actions say of the idea and ideal of sacrificial, self-less (if not selfless) patriotism? From Grace Fu complaining about her salary cut previously to now Ng claiming to be giving back – by taking in more for himself – what example are we setting for our young?

LAW Kim Hwee


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That’s A$246,406.57 per day…for 25 years; thanks, mate!

 

In the excitement and run-up of Bukit Batok by-election, this A$2.25b deal might have been missed…

 “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’–that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Keats

 

Notwithstanding PAP leaders’ cold, calculating leadership ideology (embodied in words such as ‘How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?’), I have always imagined that they are all closet, poetry-loving dudes. Well, at least, Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn appear to express their beliefs in beauty and truth.

Why and how else can it be that whatever they do are reported by the mainstream media as acts of beauty – that it’s always the only truth? And, yeah, ‘that is all…and all ye need to know’, citizens!

Take the now-concluded Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement PM Lee has just inked with PM Turnbull. Both called it a ‘landmark’ pact. There can be and there are only upsides all round for Singapore and Singaporeans. Read here and here.

I have little problem with ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’, my usual concern is with the truth behind the beauty. Specifically, in this case, the truth behind the beauty of access to a training area 10X the size of Singapore is at a cost of A$2.25 bil over 25 years. Our ever-compliant reporters & editors preferred the neat 3-digit beautiful figure.

But, in truth, it’s a mind-boggling A$246,406.57 per day of our hard-earned money.

Why should it concern or worry you? 
Since the announcement on 7 May, not one single MP, whether PAP or WP, has raised any questions about this serious money that we are throwing to the Aussies.

What is even worse, for an agreement with such a high payout, the defence minister, the foreign minster or the prime minister himself never bothered to bring the agreement up for parliamentary discussion prior to negotiation. Does that not put Singapore at a grave negotiating disadvantage as the Aussies know that they need only convince the ministers who, unlike their own, need not be accountable to their MPs and citizens – or inquisitive reporters? Perhaps, a little polishing of the ministers’ apples (that they are such worthy ministerial talents, so decisive in knowing what’s best for their Singapore will yield the additional A$100mil, A$400mil more in the final price tag?

What’s more, will it not encourage other countries (Taiwan, Thailand, Brunei, USA, India etc) to rub their hands in glee when similar agreements come up for renegotiation?

Therefore, shouldn’t that worry Singaporeans on 2 counts, namely, no prior debate and the actual amount of serious money that we are paying just to train (up to) 14,000 soldiers annually?

I know that questioning expenditures on defence-related issues are a favourite for the PAP leaders to jump on to make outrageous claims that the questioner is risking our nation’s survival etc. They are also wont to throw up out-of-context, false-dilemma or many-questions type of fallacious arguments (Minister Shanmugam did with Chee’s call to relook our foreign labour policies) i.e. everything but give straight answers to our honest concerns, worries and questions.

But we are merely exercising our basic right to question and, in fact, taking up Minister Tharman’s recent belief that politician and leaders, in particular, must ‘discuss things openly, tell the people the truth‘.

My fellow Singaporeans, please email your MPs (click here to get their email addresses) to demand that they raise the questions on our behalf. It’s OUR money!!!


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Chee: Dogged Dog or Reformed Recalcitrant – Only One Way To Confirm

Dogged dog?

Though the PAP have not said it, there can be no doubt that it is not beneath them to be thinking in those terms at the highest levels. Recall the almost reflexive posting of the middle-fingering monkey? The way the election is fought by both the incumbent party and the insurgent candidate and his supporters, Singaporeans will likely be straddled with the Chee enigma for a some time to come. What good is that?

On Chee’s side, he has indeed paid a heavy price. Unlike any other current opposition politician, he has spent time in jail (not once but, the last count, 10X!…my respect, man!…even if some jail time were self-inflicted), made a bankrupt and, probably the only PhD holder with a PhD spouse living with 3 kids in a HDB 3-room flat.

And, notwithstanding the unfortunate events surrounding his takeover of of Chiam’s Sec-Gen post, we have to give it to him for keeping SDP in better shape – at least, organizationally –  than how Chiam left it. SDP leads the Opposition in the use of social media. They have produced pretty comprehensive policy alternatives on a range of national issues.  And, from what I could tell, the SDP Youth Wing is one to reckon with despite not having the same resources as WP or PAP.

To the reasonable person and from outward and visible appearances, the man appears to have not only rehabilitated his negative past but made SDP a party with hat still in the ring.

Chee dearly wants voters and Singaporeans to view him as a Reformed Recalcitrant.

What about the PAP side?

They lost no time at their first rally, applying megaphone electioneering to call (again) into question Chee’s rebellious, ungentlemanly actions . There have been loud complaints of ‘character assassination’. But ‘character assassination’ is ‘the slandering of a person usually with the intention of destroying public confidence in that person‘. Therefore, whilst there’s no doubting the PM’s & his colleagues’ intent (to destroy voters’ confidence in Chee), strictly speaking, they are not character assassins,. Their claims are based on factual and historical legal records. Slandering being verbal defamation, Chee has not indicated he will seek redress under the law.

What we can reasonably say is that the PAP leaders lack confidence in their election game plan. They, as $millionaire political professionals using taxpayers’ money to party’s advantage and their own monstrous party machineries, still choose to fall back on hitting under the belt.

The PAP Sec-Gen neither explicitly denounce nor deny that no less than his minister and speaker of parliament started hitting out with references to Chee’s person, engaging in unsavoury, cynical insinuations. For good measure, he threw in a few of his own self-righteous observations (when, hey, he himself was dissed as ‘a dishonourable son’).

So, without having to repeat their claims, the PAP basically paint Chee’s character as a ‘dog'(contemptible person), albeit a dogged one that refuses to go away.

Now, Bukit Batok voters, do you not agree that going forward, Singapore and we Singaporeans have got much more important matters to discuss and fight over? To focus our limited resources, time and energies on life issues than always listening to what our fellow citizen Chee is about, what he stands for? If nothing else, it’s downright boring to hear the claims from both camps. It makes our politicians almost sound like the current Republican candidates, Trump & Cruz.

So, please Ms & Mr Bukit Batok Voter, do yourselves and all Singapore this BIG favour, vote for Chee Soon Juan! Give him 4 years at Bukit Batok to prove to you, to us citizens, and to the PAP bullies if Chee Soon Juan is the Dogged Dog or a Reformed Recalcitrant. It’s the only way to confirm the claims either way.

There is nothing to lose for Bukit Batok residents whatsoever. The S$1.9 mil town project is already in the bag whoever wins. And PAP will work even harder to try to win your votes back if Chee is voted in.

If you are still hesitating, remember that PAP leaders do approve giving themselves and citizens a second chance. As they have shown by not revealing the names of those responsible for causing the death of 8 of our fellow citizens. So, if nothing else, you are walking the talk of giving Chee a second chance.

 


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No ‘H’ (as in Hypocrites) In ‘PAP’, Only ‘P’s…Aplenty

Sec-Gen PAP minces not his words in condemning as ‘completely hypocritical’ SDP Sec-Gen’s action of getting his ‘guys to say all the bad things, you come along and you look magisterial, and benign and say, no you must not hit somebody’.

Just so we all have a common definition, hypocrisy is ‘the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case’. Based on the definition, we have to agree with the PAP Sec-Gen. However,  what Chee Soon Juan has been doing with and at SDP – the activities organised, the focus on producing alternative policy papers, his round-the-island walk etc etc – taken in toto including organisational capabilities, the SDP Sec-Gen appears to believe that the American approach to electioneering, in and out of season, will finally win him a seat in the Singapore parliament. For good measure (or, if you prefer, for goodness sake), Chee even cultivates a sort-of American accent when speaking English.

I’m not so sure that’s the way to go. But I wish him well.

Now, the PAP Sec-Gen further claims, ever so humbly, ‘I don’t say we never make mistakes, but when we do make mistakes, we put them right’. This is in the context of town council management. But we can reasonably take it to mean that to be the case with his party and party members all ways.

What do the records show?

One instance we recall is ‘PAP chairman and Minister for National Development Mr Khaw Boon Wan said the Workers’ Party (WP) should come clean with the people on expelled WP member Yaw Shin Leong’s alleged extramarital affair.’

However, when no less than their Speaker of Parliament was also caught with his pants down, did the PAP come clean with the people? Where the Straits Times went to town with WP Yaw Shin Leong’s adultery, Palmer was left pretty much alone to move on. But that was only after, most probably ‘the power there be’ somehow got Straits Times prominently insinuating Palmer’s co-adulterer being a two-timing woman.

And, of course, the compliant mainstream media has to give PAP a positive spin with headlines such as ‘PAP acts fast and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair: analysts‘. Perhaps, this is what is meant by the claim, ‘when we do make mistakes, we put them right’; somehow the PAP must turn up roses with each mistake made. That’s easy, isn’t it when you have a press that continues to race down the ranking by Reporters Without Borders each year?

But, let’s us stay current. Just this week, we have PM Lee himself, preaching to Civil Servants and to Singaporeans;

– the civil service must remain ‘neutral and non-political’ and
– his (PAP) ministers must ‘protect civil servants from political interference and not involve them in political activities’.

Well, action always speaks louder than words.

We can only believe the PM’s preaching if and when he explicitly allows for and instructs civil servants;

 – to attend MPs meet-the-people sessions in opposition wards as is done at PAP wards and
 – to accede to all reasonable requests by Opposition MPs and interested academicians, citizens for relevant information not disallowed under the Official Secrets Act from the ministries.

We are very clear about what a hypocrite is. But what do we call:

– Those who not only claim ‘to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case’ but go many steps further to speak loudly to themselves that they are such fine men-in-white and so unlike ‘extortioners, unjust, adulterers’, or even an ex-NUS neuro-psychologist who once foolishly used a few dollars of taxpayer’s money to post his wife’s thesis submission? Or self-congratulate themselves to have achieved a ‘sweet spot’ in Singaporeans’ lives.

– Leaders who, as members of a seemingly successful political sect, distinguish themselves by strict observance of the rule by law instead of the rule of law to demand and impose one set of accountability and transparency on members of other political sects and another for their own?

 

– And, let me share this observation that takes the cake…No, not the ‘I’m a son-of-Punggol’ claim. The PAP system has now produced a potential PM-candidate who claimed that in stepping forward to contest in GE2015 it was ‘really to serve the Singapore which I grew up in. For giving me all the opportunities through our meritocratic system. It’s not something that I’ve seen in many parts of the world. I’m indebted to Singapore’. It is his way of ‘remembering (his) roots, and giving back to society’.

How does one ‘give back’ to society? By giving up an estimated S$400,000 salary and raking in 3 X more (S$1.2 mil) of taxpayers money as a pre-guaranteed minister??? It’s sad, if it isn’t scary, that such a claim was proudly proclaimed, neither vetted nor retracted/revised. The plausible explanation is a party-wide grandiose delusional understanding of service to country.

 

 

The word for such persons who are not merely hypocritical but also self-righteous is ‘Pharisees’. Please google for your pick of definitions.

The People’s Action Party has morphed into the ‘Pharisees Action Party’ judging by not just their words but more so by their actions. To be fair, there is no law to say that Pharisees are incapable of producing some credible outward outcomes. Perhaps, for some 2 of last 5 decades, longer even.

 

Hey, I am glad for the material outward outcomes from the Pharisees. But, please, spare me the preaching.

 

 

 

 

 


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Dynastic Meritocracy vs Meritocratic Dynasty?

Back in Jan 1999, William Safire, he with the sharp pen, asked LKY pointedly about nepotism: ”Would your son be Deputy Prime Minister if he were not your son?” He snaps: ”If he were not my son, he would be the Prime Minister. He came up faster than any of the others, but I told him it would do him no good.”

Mr Safire helpfully concluded, ‘The scion must await his time.’

Fast forward to Apr 2016, the subject has morphed from ‘nepotism’ to one of ‘dynasty’ and what was, at most, an impolite question has mutated into an outright accusation of “the power that be wants to establish a dynasty”. And in place of pensmith William Safire, we have a daughter denied her right by her MSM editors to express her deceased father’s wishes the way she felt best suited. Perhaps, she was reacting to being publicly insulted that ‘reading (her) unedited writings was like sailing through a fog’.

Regardless, 70% of Singaporean voters (at least on) 11 Sep 2015 confirmed LKY’s claim of his son’s right to premiership was more than correct. Now, LKY is no longer here to discuss nepotistic or dynastic politics – which he was expressly dead against. Still, the queasy overhang of nepotism or dynasty persists. It is indeed ironical that it should be his own daughter, his last-days caregiver who should raise the matter anew and so publicly. Then again, perhaps, she must know more than anyone else of what may well be lurking around the corner – or behind close doors, among cold-calculating minds in conference.

It is very fortunate for us that Dr Lee Wei Ling has insisted that she always ‘try [sic] to stick by the truth’. That’s because it’s only when we know the truth that the truth will set us free. Good on her. Good for us. Good for Singapore.

 

Back to the lurking unease of possible dynasty establishment. In his brotherly, sad, if rebuking response, PM Lee Hsien Loong took a strong stand in reply to the dynasty accusation;

‘The idea that I should wish to establish a dynasty makes even less sense. Meritocracy is a fundamental value of our society, and neither I, the PAP, nor the Singapore public would tolerate any such attempt.’

A very strong denial to a clearly libellous statement levelled at him personally. But we have yet to hear of Dr Lee receiving a letter from Davinder Singh even as she has taken down her offending Facebook revelation.

Since the Singapore education system and mainstream media reporting have hardwired us to think and believe – from seeing the legal actions successfully prosecuted in our own courts over hints and insinuations against the personal integrity of our leaders past and present – any non-action can only leave us wondering about the truth of dynasty.

We can understand that elder brother prosecuting against younger sister is not a Confucian thing. But Singapore’s interest is paramount. Therefore, we hope that at the very least PM Lee will send a lawyer’s cease and desist letter to sister Wei Ling and to demand an unequivocal apology. Via FB will do. No need to feed ST any ad dollar.

Thereafter, since it’s family, he and Singaporeans can then close the case – and (do his favourite thing when something screws up bad) move on.

Would that not be the best course of action for him and, hence, the best outcome not just for him but also for Singapore’s reputation for by-the-book treatment and rule of law?

Dynastic Meritocracy vs Meritocratic Dynasty
On the other hand, if no action is taken, two questions will arise; is there some truth in the accusation and do double standards in the prosecution of libel exist (one for non-family, one for family…by ‘family’, we mean also ‘PAP family’)?

It would then also be reasonable for us to examine further PM Lee’s response, anew and more closely.

‘The idea that I should wish to establish a dynasty makes even less sense. Meritocracy is a fundamental value of our society, and neither I, the PAP, nor the Singapore public would tolerate any such attempt.’

 We can agree that PM Lee has very strongly denied any ‘wish to establish a dynasty’. But that’s different from giving a categorical undertaking that none of his children will ever be part of the PAP ruling elite group going forward.

That should be no surprise. As recent as Dec 2014, PM Lee revealed that “his four children are, ‘at the moment’, not interested to enter politics”.

‘At the moment’…very interesting, isn’t it? Déjà vu? Perhaps. Like Senior Lee once telling Junior Lee. And now, Junior Lee repeating to Junior Junior Lee that “it would do him no good”. So, another scion must again await his time?

Regardless, I do believe that discrimination must not apply either way. Just as non-relatives or strangers should not be discriminated against in any consideration for a position, so blood relations or friends should also not be discriminated against. Who is best suited for a job is what matters i.e. meritocratic considerations should prevail.
Clearly, PM Lee has definitely not rule out, nor rule in, any of his children joining politics. But if any does, he/she is expected to, like him be able to – and be seen to – rise up faster than any of the others.

So, there can be no doubt that meritocracy continues to be alive and be above all else, including dynastic ambitions going forward with regard to any family in politics. That cannot but be a good thing for Singapore.

Still, to outsiders looking in, it’ll be hard to tell, if a long, long time to come in a Singapore far far away, whether Singaporeans continue to be hardwired to just cannot tell if we are living in a Dynastic Meritocracy or a Meritocratic Dynasty.

The prognosis is not good. From what we see of the self-serving elites thrown up by Singapore meritocracy (all thanks and praise to the PAP), there are no eternal ideologies, no eternal heresies, only eternal self-interests. Mr Ngiam Tong Dow is absolutely right. “When you raise ministers’ salaries to the point that they’re earning millions of dollar, every minister — no matter how much he wants to turn up and tell Hsien Loong off or whatever — will hesitate when he thinks of his million-dollar salary. Even if he wants to do it, his wife will stop him.” Proof? After LKY stepped down as PM, no minister or top civil servant has had to resign whether it’s a fearsome, if limping, terrorist who escaped or the occasional NSFer dying or a teenage committing suicide or 2 MRT trainees killed or when 8 innocent citizens who put their trust in our health workers lost their lives (those responsible were not even named, now, that’s real progress!). Meritocracy a al SG50 is either perfected or so thin-skin like the elites it has grown up, so fragile it cannot submit to transparent accountability. And daft citizens continue to vote to support the system as evolved.

 

So, Dynastic Meritocracy or Meritocratic Dynasty which? If citizens care not, can that be a good thing – come SG100?

 


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Baby Asha, Mr Xiao Gang & Singapore Inc Governance

Since 1984 when I started work for MNCs, I always stood proud of my Singapore background with colleagues the world over at meetings, seminars and discussions. I remain proud to be a Singaporean. Proud of the Singapore Inc heritage that our fathers and mothers have bequeath to us. But 2 events in recent days put that pride a full notch or two lower, much lower.

Baby Asha
With the tragic death of Benjamin Lim still very fresh in my mind, the report that “Doctors at a Brisbane hospital have refused to release a one-year-old girl, badly burnt on Nauru, until a “suitable home environment is identified” hit a raw nerve.

Over in First World Australia with 2015 GDP per capita slightly lower than Singapore’s , doctors stood up firmly on the side of their professional duties and rightly told the police that they had no business to take over a baby, one who is not even an Aussie citizen but the child of refugees .

In a statement on Friday, a hospital spokesman said the baby would not be discharged until a “suitable home environment is identified, as is the case with every child who presents at hospital”.

“All decisions relating to a patient’s treatment and discharge are made by qualified clinical staff, based on a thorough assessment of the individual patient’s clinical condition and circumstances, and with the goal of delivering the best outcome,” the statement read.

Contrast Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital doctors’ actions with that of the principal, discipline master and counsellor of Northview Secondary School who released 14 year-old Benjamin to, not one, but 5 policemen who came a-calling at the school. Those education professionals didn’t even think to inform Benjamin’s parents. And the police, according to their protocol (?), used Benjamin’s own phone to make a call to his mother. Even then that conversation was cut short by the policeman overseeing the situation.

Are our educators to whom we entrust our children’s lives to at their school premises not aware of their responsibilities? Or have they all been operating in the system for so long that theirs is a mindset washed to unquestioningly obey our men in blue, never mind if it’s within your school compound that the police are guests a-visiting? Or are they more concerned that their career paths and trajectories are not negatively impacted for standing up for what is right by Benjamin, by us parents, by our children?

Regardless the true reason, it’s scary that we accept such a state of affair. To those who trust and obey the System, don’t say it won’t happen to you and yours just because it hasn’t happened yet.

Mr Xiao Gang
Is, was, the Chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). He was promoted to the post in March 2013. But on 20 Feb 2016, he was sacked. His sacking came after the recent “new ‘circuit-breaker’ mechanism, designed to limit any market sell-off, was deployed twice in January in response to the stock market fall, but then was scrapped altogether after it caused even more panic. “

Interestingly, in Jun 2015, when the “Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges lost as much as 40% of their value”, he still held onto his job. But the Shanghai Composite losing just 19% YTD proved to be fatal for Xiao.

CNN reported that Xiao’s departure comes after he offered a surprisingly frank assessment of China’s boom-and-bust equity market.

“The volatility shows an incomplete trading system, an imperfect market system and an unadapted regulatory system….It also exposes loopholes, maladjustments and ineffectiveness of supervision from the CSRC.”

So, was Xiao sacked because someone had to take the fall for the ‘circuit-breaker’ failure or he was too frank about CSRC’s deficiencies for his own good? Or both?

In my view, not that it really matters. What matters is that, here in Third World China, is a case of accountability if not transparency.

But Singapore?

Where is the accountability for the more serious losses in some of Temasek’s choices all these years? Oftentimes, none of such losses was reported, let alone discussed in parliament or accounted for. To date, the only top manager whose head got chopped off was that of Chip Goodyear. But then Chip hadn’t even sat in the CEO chair for 6 months and 10 days to have been responsible for any bad investment decisions.

Perhaps, there has been a precedent set. When Mas Selamat, a most-wanted terrorist escaped from max-security jail, the minister-in-charge continued in his job like nothing terrible happened. As for PM Lee he, with his pink shirt persona, could not bring himself to admit that the buck has to stop somewhere within his cabinet but merely blurted, ‘It’s happened. Let’s move on.’ For the record the last time any cabinet minister stepped down or, more likely, sacked was more than 32 years ago when Mr Lim Chee Onn was unceremoniously dumped by LKY as NTUC Sec-Gen.

Mr Lim had the integrity in him to resign as Minister Without Portfolio thereafter.

Since then, no minister, no civil honcho, no chief in any GLCs or Temasek Holdings has to worry that something like Xiao Gang’s sack will ever happen to them. Non-accountability for top managers is now part of Singapore governance culture. So, Benjamin Lim lost his life but Northview Sec School principal, staff or AMK Policemen will not lose their jobs. They and Singaporeans just ‘move on’.

Comparing non-GDP per capital areas, whether with another First or Third World Commie country, Singapore has much to learn. Or, indeed, unlearn.

I longer hold my head as high as I once did in the presence of foreigners.

Law Kim Hwee