2econdsight

"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"


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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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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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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.
2cents


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Cabinet Reshuffle – A Hustler’s Shuffle?

Reading the latest cabinet reshuffle, I’m reminded anew Jackson Browne’s ‘Information Wars’. With apologies to him, here are my revised lines contextual to SG.
Give us twenty minutes and we’ll give you the world
We bring good things to life
The news you need from people you can count on
Doing what we do best

The government of Singapore
Your true voice
You’re in good hands
Now more than ever before

…The latest spin on the shit PAP’s in, blow by blow
And the more you read, the less you know

Here’s a ‘blow-by-blow’ response to the PAP spin.

The changes are part of continuing leadership renewal “to build a strong ‘A’ team for Singapore”, Mr Lee said on Facebook.

Come on, lah. What ‘continuing leadership renewal’? Same faces. One 4-term old cock who’s announced he wanted to quit government, another a 2-term rear admiral-minister proven a failure leading from the rear on transport issues. Two never-fought-a-battle generals/1-term promoted-in-a-hurry ministers with nothing quantifiable that benefited citizens significantly to show for. And one minority minister-MP who I’ll comment on separately.

What’s common to all 5 PAP supposedly ‘A team’ talents? I’ll tell you: ALL 5 got into parliament originally via the coat-tails of others in GRCs. ‘A team’…hahaha! Not one talented and with balls enough to fight one-to-one to enter parliament.

Lim Swee Say has been hailed as the ‘best immediate choice’ to lead the Ministry of Manpower, ‘given his experience representing the unions and workers.’

The outgoing Tan Chuan-Jin says he had not realised the extent of the MOM’s reach, which includes retirement adequacy, employment opportunities, workers’ rights, and workplace safety and health.’
If true, then it’s not just the blue-collar workers but all of us PMETs are also done in and done for.

What can we expect of an ex-NTUC chief who led his members to the lowest relative increase in median wages? Whose members could no longer afford to pay for their most basic HDB flats on their own wages but now need PAP cabinet’s faux largesse of more grants just to own 2, 3 or 4-room flats that are also smaller than when my hawker-father-office-maid-mother could pay for their open-market S$17k 3-room flat within 8 years and without a single-cent grant from LKY’s team mid-‘80s?

‘Retirement adequacy’? What can we expect from a minister who proclaimed insensitively, ‘Every month, when I receive my CPF statement, I feel so rich and the best part is, I know the CPF money won’t run away’? How will he who feels ‘so rich’ even begin to understand what retirement inadequacy is, never mind how to address the issue?

We are dead meat in Swee Say’s hands, PMETs. Very suay.

Now, Tan Chuan-Jin. In the real world of accountable-to-stakeholders organizations, an employee gets promoted for measureable KPIs. How does Tan measure up after 21 months as acting minister and 11 months 8 days as full minister? Any real and specific number of PMETs you have directly helped with his JobsBank initiative to land a job

What of ‘retirement inadequacy’? Someone help me here or is it also zilch? Am I more retirement adequate now with this ‘A Team’ minister after 32 months + 8 days with his S$5mil salary safely taken home?

Next, our favourite ‘Minister Stumblebum’, this kee-kiu Minister must address with a cap ‘M’. He’d be writing to tremeritus.com editor to complain if I do not.

His trajectory is not unlike his fellow (but junior BG) Chuan-Jin. So, no need to belabour the point about having nothing measurable to show for…except perhaps the headcount of happy aunties and uncles with their free chicken rice for attending a PAP activity.

Inche Masagos may well desire his promotion. Cabinet ministers, MPs, academics and all kinds of pundits have chimed in their views. Even lau Goh highlighted Inche Masagos’ promotion. Oh, Masagos himself also spins it well;

‘In an interview with MediaCorp’s Berita, Mr Masagos said: “It would seem apparent that the Malay community would celebrate having two full Ministers in the Cabinet for the first time, but I think this is also how Singapore runs on the basis of meritocracy.’

I’m truly sorry to say #fail for lack of humility on the latter observation. Isn’t it arrogant to say that one has been promoted ‘on the basis of meritocracy’? The subtext is, hey guys, I’m really a talent! One would have thought that the first words would be to thank voters who voted me into parliament resulting in another opportunity to show that I could serve their needs.

As for ‘two full Ministers in the Cabinet for the first time’, has it occurred to Inche that maybe it’s because the current minister Yaacob has been proven to be a dud? Therefore, to save Yaacob’s face and his own poor judgment, PM Lee has to bring in one more to see if he can neutralize Yaacob’s failure? Hey, why is the Information & The Arts minister sidelined from helming ‘The Smart Nation’ project? (Giving it to Vivian, the Youth-Olympics-Budget-Overrun-Big-Timer, is another story for another day, dear taxpayers.)

On Liu Tuck Yew, Tattler describes him succinctly, the ‘poor guy already submerged way beyond his depth with the onerous Minister for Transport hat’ and we are supposed to believe that Liu is ‘A team’ renewal candidate? (…my toes 🙂 )

Conclusion
So, how to believe PAP’s spin of ‘continuing leadership renewal’ and ‘strong A team’?

Doesn’t it look more like

  • a desperate move to temporary plug sinking PAP-Sampan v2.0?
  • a callous move to ignore PMETs’ cries for measurable support to retain or regain employment?
  • an overt attempt to address the sinking support level with the Malay voters?

Now that we can see a perspective cutting thro’ the spin, for PM Lee to suggest that he has done the reshuffle to build an A team ‘for Singapore’ , can believe or not? Folks, that’s after a 20-year apprenticeship + 10 year premiership – and no more than 20 months, probably less, to the next GE?
Tell it like it is: It’s for PAP to win the next GE. ‘For Singapore’? Nah!…alternative media, the more you read, the less you are deceived….

2cents


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Hecklegate: A Just Cause in Grave Need of Judicious Leadership

‘Hecklegate’ (credit to Daniel Yap) appears to outdo PM Lee’s NDR speech in terms of commentaries. Even more interesting are as many detractors as supporters of the protagonists are voicing their 2 cents in social media, quite unlike social media going to town with the NDR speech mainly as target practice.

Why so?
One, where it involves ‘special needs children’, it looks good to brandish one’s credentials to stake a stand.
Two, Hecklegate provides the fitting excuse the Oppo parties and other anti-PAP individuals need to justify why the Roy & HuiHui show just doesn’t do it in their scheme of things.
Armchair Critics Aplenty
Let’s distil the key points that many armchair YouTube-cum-MSM witnesses have said with such certainty.


– No better place to start than the mainstream media.
Heckling is ‘interrupting (someone) by shouting annoying or rude comments or questions’ (Merriam-Webster). Editors relied on their rookie reporters to report but ‘heckle’ was the editors’ word choice – for reasons best known to themselves.

Yes, the Roy & HuiHui march was noisy. But watch the different videos circulating, where was the heckling?

– The PAP Ministers
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin: “I am ap­palled. We now heckle special needs children? Vile. Total and absolute disgrace.”

Tan’s behaviour and remark best represent the PAP’s default mode in matters political – quick to judge and damning in self-righteous denunciation when the anti-PAP side gets bad press but deafeningly silence when one of their own falters. Tsk tsk.

To readers suitably impressed with Tan, please connect the 2 dots; Philippines Independence Day Celebration & Hecklegate. Tan was the minister who first shot at his own fellow citizens from the first sign of citizens’ objections – without thinking through the patriotic angles. Our newbie minister used choice words on us, didn’t he? But foreigners cheating citizens of jobs with their fake degrees are exempt. No accomplished ministers since 1965, let alone a newbie with zero to show for, ever labelled fellow citizens (not political foes) as ‘bigots’ and, now, ‘vile and absolute disgrace’.

A true leader in the making, or a dangerous self-righteous narcissist more suited for the priesthood?

– Opposition-linked Critics

As observed, Roy & HuiHui duly obliged them with an excuse they were itching to use to distance themselves and not lose the middle ground whence the votes, the real fight for political power resides.

– Mr Brown’s
…29 Sep posting suggests that Brownie cross-checked his ‘Hecklegate’ info source with only a posting by an unverified ‘YMCA volunteer’ at Proms. Perhaps his parental protective instincts for his autistic child reflexively kicked in pronto. Understandably so.

My Photo

But rushing in, he did himself and Singaporeans little favour in not weighing more evidence as Shah Salimat did in sg.news.yahoo.com/comment–various-accounts-of-cpf-protest–heckling–tell-a-different-story-103­557790.html

 

‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’
Here’s one observation that appears to have been completely overlooked. Check out this or any other video showing protestors marching past where the stage was < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HKpNvzt33c&feature=youtu.be&gt;.

Notice 3 things;
One, the protestors walked a fair 10m (?) distance, from the stage, near the pillars supporting the sunshade. Shouting, unless in constant unison, would be ineffectual given the distance.

Two, during the first marchpast, the stage was bare, devoid of any children.

Three, HuiHui and Roy held a mike each, in her right and his left hand. No loud hailers blared directly at the children preparing to perform. You got it! The noise that the duo made was amplified via speakers a good 40-50m away from the stage. Indeed, the YMCA emcee’s voice was much louder as his speakers were nearer with one facing stage-ward.

So, whose voices from which microphones were more likely to alarm the kids, if in fact they were alarmed as alleged?

NParks claimed the kids were ‘traumatized’. Strange then, that no one finds it necessary to medically-certify their traumatized condition. Strange too, that Teo Ser Luck didn’t think it serious enough not to halt his selfie routine with his happy, happy face. Or, yeah, maybe grab a mike to influence the tone of the encounter there and then. S$mil leadership, anyone?


An On-site Eyewitness’ View
To analyse better, start from what happened before the actual events.

– When I first read HuiHui’s 26 Sep appeal at TRE < http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/09/26/pap-grassroots-plan-to-distupt-cpf-protest-on-sathurday/>, my red flags instinctively shot up. She wrote about ‘PAP grassroots…5000 people coming…4 grassroots leaders came out and negotiated with me…event was supposed to be on Sat 10 am…when I asked for the event organizer to come out, they refused and demanded…’ and then, in contradiction to her earlier stated time, ‘their event will start at 4 pm’.

Sorry, young lady, this old hand believes for such serious matters, one must ‘verify, verify, verify’ one’s info before presenting it for public consumption. But her language shows up her combative stance camouflaging a plea for that illusive bigger audience size.

I was happy to learn then that TRE editor was ‘calling Leong now to find out what’s going on’. And happier still his action showed up HuiHui’s appeal to be ulterior motive-written more than fact-based < http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/09/26/2-major-events-clashing-at-hong-lim-park-on-27-sep/&gt;.

– Next, her videoed encounter with NParks director. Sure, she showed her gumption but, in doing so, humiliated the civil servants doing their jobs, professionalism wanting notwithstanding. Which would advance her cause; winning civil servants over to her side (for future considerations whilst gaining respect from new audiences) or continue to feed the frenzy of her loyal protestors?

– The marchpast ended, the speeches began, I moved around to feel the ground. Many young volunteers watched the performances with their charges sitting beside; mostly physically infirm, elderly or Down Syndrome children/adults. Probably (hey, Mr Brown), no autistic kids, going by YMCA own info < http://www.ymca.org.sg/Web/main.aspx?ID=,df37fa6f-e5c9-40a9-ba3b-780b781fb751>

– I hung around the funfair-like stands offering games, airbrush tattooing etc. Of course, I had to support their efforts, rewarding myself with free popcorn (salted, not sweet).

– Speaking to a 40ish gentleman in his wheel chair, he said that instead of accepting YMCA’s invite, he preferred to join the protest. He declined my offer of popcorn.


– Then I stationed myself (on my bicycle) at the tent that was allegedly set up to block the protagonists’ stage performance. Amongst other observations, my most vivid images were the fierce, gangster-like Roy’s facial expressions, bulging veins in his neck as he shouted into the mike, the militant tone, words HuiHui uttered, the amateurish coordination in their free-flow speaking-cum-singing-cum-chanting ‘speeches’. Call me shallow, but sorry, The Rolling Stones can grace the stage in their jeans and tees, looking darn classy. But Roy et al on stage looked like a raggedy, ratty, rowdy bunch of disorganized rebels – albeit rebels with a just cause.

– The sad part for me, keen on the Change we Must and keener to end PAP’s dominance, is that the audience remains the same die-hard anti-PAP clique mostly males in their >50’s. How will the middle ground, middle-class fence-sitters, marginal status quo supporters and the ignorant/mal-informed be ever persuaded to attend, never mind won over by this team of dedicated warriors?

Conclusions
The thought that struck me there and then on reaching HLPark was how the unexpected YMCA Proms and ReturnOurCPF events presented a Godsend opportunity for the Roy & HuiHui cause – one they cluelessly squandered.

Look, it wasn’t ‘the other side’ that was in control of the turn of events. YMCA had a fixed programme, a contractual obligation to their corporate sponsors, volunteers and beneficiaries. The last thing they wanted was to start a skirmish with political overtones either way.

Therefore, the impetus of the ReturnOurCPF was HuiHui’s/Roy’s to direct. If there was a more senior leader, perhaps he was resting with arms alternately folded or akimbo on a bench but inactive to lead the happenings.

What’s missed big time? The protagonists could have instructed every marcher to halt in front of the stage, sit down, watch and cheer the performances. Then, after 2 or 3 performances, went around shaking hands with as many attendees as possible with smiling faces and high fives. Aren’t these the ‘new’ audience to win over to your cause?

Once done, continue with their planned speeches. Will that not be heaping burning coals on Teo Ser Luck’s and PAP’s heads?

Instead of Hecklegate, how will the headlines look the next day?

EPILOGUE
Sadder still is how the same foolhardy approach continues post-fiasco.

Claims of ‘We had a groundbreaking protest and march yesterday but a few thousands Singaporeans turned up’ and ‘the volunteers and attendees to the YMCA’s event were also listening intently to our speeches’ encapsulate their dumbass, make-believe approach.

Here’s the actual crowd size for you; I first counted 50, estimated a 50-strong cluster, counted the number of clusters then multiplied that number by 50. Doing so 3 times Saturday, I could only count 20 clusters or 1000 attendees max. Perhaps another 200 +/- came and went between 1700 to 1830 hours. And my slow cycle-cum-circling the field told me that Proms invitees overwhelmingly ignored the shouting that counted for speeches. Not even weak applause or nodding heads originated from them.

‘Groundbreaking…a few thousands Singaporeans’? –  You are imitating the misleading modus operandi of the Straits Times, the very enemy you abhor?

Saddest of all are the allegations and innuendoes of YMCA colluding with PAP. Any simple analysis will show that Proms has been a non-political event all these years. Why alienate more voters?

Continue on this trajectory and hurt not only your cause but also those who want the Change we Must. PAP will milk dry this and new ones waiting to happen, linking Roy et al to the Opposition to turn middle ground voters to stay with the devil they know than the rowdy troublemakers they see.

Roy & HuiHui, I admire your dedication and support fully your cause. But time to THINK & CHANGE – which is my key intention for the forthright views here.

Your Cause so Just deserves a Leadership as Judicious.

2cents