Thursday, June 26, 2008

Minister Mentor: Which ever way but lose?


"5 Years - All it takes to ruin Singapore"
Lydia Lim, Senior Political Correspondent, Straits Times June 26 2008.

I read and I'm not flabbergasted but appalled and irritated.

'In five years, you can ruin this place and it's very difficult to pick up the pieces,' he told 650 participants of a dinner forum at the Shangri-La Hotel.

'When you're Singapore and your existence depends on performance - extraordinary performance, better than your competitors - when that performance disappears because the system on which it's been based becomes eroded, then you've lost everything,' he said.

With due respect to Mr Lee, the rot has started.

Examples:
  • Obscene ministerial salaries.
  • A little red dot where a PM needs a SM who needs a MM to do a PM job.
  • The high handedness of sucking more money from people through CPF and HDB, apart from other means like GST, ERPs and other taxes. Of course, excluding Estate Duties which was withdrawn so suddenly and quickly for the benefit of the rich and famous.
  • The efficiency of Wong Kan Seng and Ministry of Home Affairs in relation to Mas Selamat, escapes in Subordinate Courts and the Father-Passport-Son-Passport joke.
  • The revelation in cyberspace of Chee siblings carrying themselves in the Court.
  • The use of the people's money in Shincorp, Merill Lynch, UBS and others that we don't know anything about.
  • The desperation to promote foreign talents, casinos and FI. Looks like we are making it in the "fast money, fast cars and fast women" category. Been to the whole stretch of Geylang Road lately? I mean the whole stretch from Lorong 3 to Lorong 30 something. We haven't covered Joo Chiat, Little India, Chinatown and Orchard Road yet. We can't qualify in World Cup Soccer but we sure can beat Patpong of Bangkok at this game!
This could happen if voters became bored and decided to give the 'vociferous opposition' a chance - out of 'light-heartedness, fickleness or sheer madness'.

I think voters are not bored. Neither are they fickle nor mad.

They are actually fed up. "They are fed up with progress!" brought on by the current government.

They sure need to lighten up and not get caught up in this "Being a crony of PAP and having more $$$ is nearer to God" culture with examples set by rich ministers. Having heard J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame said in her 2008 Harvard Commencement Address that being poor is not an ennobling experience, I think being 'Kiasi', 'Kiasu', 'Kia Chenghu' and 'Kia Yew' has gone on for too far and too long and has turned a dis-ease to a sickening disease.

Second, leaders who are above board, who make decisions based on necessity, not how they will personally benefit. He said Singaporeans know they have such leaders because, over the years, 'we have not got richer, Singapore has'.

I hope Mr Lee can put his hand on his heart when he said, 'we have not got richer, Singapore has'. It sounds grand to tell delegates that PAP government makes Singapore and not the leaders rich. If they have not personally benefit, pray tell why are ministers paid millions (up to $3.7m for his PM son, apart from his pensions as BG and PM after 55) while most Singaporeans can hardly keep up with the inflation. If Singapore has got richer, who is benefiting from it? Ordinary Singaporeans with the measly progress package, GST rebates and what have you?? Or the elites who's having fun messing with the peoples' money in investments all over the world?

If Singapore is rich, people do not need handouts like Progress Package, GST, Utility and conservancy charges rebates. Those in their 60's and 70's need bend double to collect aluminum cans and used cartons from garbage bins to eke out a living. They should be enjoying their golden years playing with their grandchildren or, like MM Lee and SM Goh, traveling round the world and giving speeches in posh hotels to teach others how to get rich too!

Ministers "make decisions based on necessity, not how they will personally benefit"? I may be dull, but I do not believe that all PAP ministers and MPs are in it for altruism. If there's one thing I know for sure is that they are holding on to their salary and power by all means, including blaming the little people for national shame when Mas selamat jalan and feeling appalled but not guilty when Immigration became Sleeping Beauty when daddy flew to Vietnam with son's passport. The way they gerrymandeer with election boundaries & GRCs and belittle the opposition speaks volume of how they are hanging on. I may be dull again but for heaven's sake, I'm sure there are many decent, good and capable Singaporean leaders, not within the grasp of PAP, who refuse to be inducted and be tainted by this hall of fame.

The arrogance that Singapore without PAP will sink has to stop. It is suffocating.

The problem with popular democracy, he said, is that during elections, candidates are not judged on how well they can govern, but on their persuasive power.

Noting that Mr Obama won the nomination because he had a team of advisers who help him strategise, Mr Lee said, "Does that make a man who will bring change to the world? I hope he has a team that knows how to bring change to the world... Where do we go from here? Well, we don't know. Lets' trust luck and see what happens. And that's what we have to do." - ST June 26 2008 by Ling Chang Hong.

Again, why belittle Mr Obama who may be on his way to greatness. For more than 50 years, I have heard Mr Lee's persuasive speech to prove his ability. He also used rhetoric to demolish many of his political opponents and lately even used strong words against young journalists.

Examples:
  • "But we either believe in democracy or we not. If we do, then, we must say categorically, without qualification, that no restraint from the any democratic processes, other than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed... If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought, and no excuse, whether of security, should allow a government to be deterred from doing what it knows to be right, and what it must know to be right... " - Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, April 27, 1955
  • "If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law - if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states - then what is it?… If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies - even those who do not subscribe to our views - as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself." - Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, Sept 21, 1955
  • "Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they're conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict." -Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition PAP member speaking to David Marshall, Singapore Legislative Assembly, Debates, 4 October, 1956
  • "If we say that we believe in democracy, if we say that the fabric of a democratic society is one which allows for the free play of idea...then, in the name of all the gods, give that free play a chance to work within the constitutional framework." - Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore Legislative Assembly, Oct 4, 1956
I agree with Mr Lee that talk is cheap and some are just more persuasive than others. However, unlike Mr Lee, maybe Mr Obama will do what he pledged when he becomes President.

As for my country Singapore, "Lets' trust luck and see what happens. And that's what we have to do."

We are in the new millennium with mp3 and mp4 audio, I think the old record playing scare tactics just got stuck in the groove. It's getting irritating.

feedmetothefish

More on J.K Rowling and Amnesty International here


MM LEE ON FREAK POLL RESULTS
By Lydia Lim, Senior Political Correspondent, Straits Times June 26 2008

ONE freak election result is all it will take to wipe out Singapore's success in building up the city state, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew warned last night.

This could happen if voters became bored and decided to give the 'vociferous opposition' a chance - out of 'light-heartedness, fickleness or sheer madness'.

'In five years, you can ruin this place and it's very difficult to pick up the pieces,' he told 650 participants of a dinner forum at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Mr Lee was responding to a Bangladesh delegate who asked if Singapore would continue to thrive in his absence. The delegate also expressed sorrow at the news of Mrs Lee's illness, and Mr Lee thanked him.

In his reply, Mr Lee returned to themes he has spoken on often - the need for a system to ensure good leaders emerge, and the danger that voters plumping for more opposition MPs might end up with an unintended change of government.

Larger countries rich in resources can survive such a freak outcome, but not Singapore, he said.

'When you're Singapore and your existence depends on performance - extraordinary performance, better than your competitors - when that performance disappears because the system on which it's been based becomes eroded, then you've lost everything,' he said.

'I try to tell the younger generation that and they say the old man is playing the same record, we've heard it all before. I happen to know how we got here and I know how we can unscramble it.'

He said a country needed three elements to succeed.

First, a government that people have confidence in and will trust when tough decisions need to be taken.

Second, leaders who are above board, who make decisions based on necessity, not how they will personally benefit. He said Singaporeans know they have such leaders because, over the years, 'we have not got richer, Singapore has'.

Third and most importantly, a country needs able men in charge.

The problem with popular democracy, he said, is that during elections, candidates are not judged on how well they can govern, but on their persuasive power.

The forum, chaired by Mr Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, was a highlight of the first World Cities Summit and International Water Week.

In his opening remarks, Mr Lee spoke for 20 minutes off the cuff, recounting his 40 years of striving to build up Singapore's independent water supply. He was determined because as long as Singapore was totally reliant on its neighbours for water, it would remain a 'satellite'.

During a 30-minute question-and-answer session, participants from around the world probed him about water management and political leadership.

He also presented the first Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize to Dr Andrew Benedek, a pioneer in the field of membrane technology for water treatment.

A key outcome of several sessions held yesterday was the setting up of an informal network of 16 countries - comprising the Asean 10, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand - to share ideas and expertise on how to go about pursuing sustainable development.

And the World Bank announced plans to set up in Singapore a regional hub for training urban planners, which will draw on the Republic's success in city development.

13 Comments:

At June 28, 2008 at 1:46 PM , Blogger Subra said...

those were great quotations from LKY when he was in the opposition. I have read them a long time ago but have been looking for them on the net lately and haven't come across any. Thanks for posting those quotes.
There are some who go on ad naseum about why freedom of expression and assembly are dangerous, etc. They rely on much of the 'wise' sayings of the PAP leaders.
It is important that people realise that there was a different voice from the same source fifty years ago.

 
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