Friday, October 30, 2009

Lee Wei Ling's Half Glass in Washington DC

The article below is extracted from The Malaysian Insider [Link]

The glass is really half full — Lee Wei Ling

OCT 30 — This is the last week of October, well into autumn. As I do my step-aerobic exercises, looking out of my hotel window in Washington DC, I see a lone maple tree.

Half of its leaves have fallen. Of the remaining leaves, only a few are red; the rest are partially brown and partially green. They are wilting before they get a chance to display the splendid red that makes autumn my favourite season in the United States. The sad-looking tree reminds me that the year is drawing to a close.

It has been a dreary year, both for myself and the world-at-large. Yet, in spite of my misfortunes, there are many things that I am grateful for. The five months I spent in hospital earlier in the year gave me a chance to reconnect with old friends, some of whom I had lost touch with for three decades. I made new friends among the nurses and doctors who looked after me. I enjoyed writing my columns for The Straits Times and The Sunday Times, and still do.

After being discharged from the hospital, I was happy to see my patients again, and they were happy to see me. I have resumed travelling with my father Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, something that I used to do in my late teens and in my 20s, until work and my conference schedule put a stop to it.

This time, when my father asked me to accompany him on his trips, I dropped everything and joined him. I am travelling not for fun but to keep him company. As a result, I have had quality time with him.

While I have always known that my father was wise, I was surprised to see the movers and shakers of this world seek his opinion and advice on a multitude of international problems.

Over the past weekend, my father stayed in the home of Henry and Nancy Kissinger in Connecticut. For dinner on Saturday and again for lunch on Sunday, the Kissingers invited people from politics, academia, the media and business to meet my father. On Monday evening, Fed Malek of Thayer Capital organised a gathering at his home in Washington DC for my father to meet more movers and shakers. My father learnt about US perceptions of the world and the views of the Obama administration and Congress.

On Tuesday evening, at a black-tie dinner, my father was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the US-Asean Business Council. Former US Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton sent taped tributes. President Barack Obama sent a statement that was read out on his behalf by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

Kissinger and George Shultz — both former US secretaries of state and old friends of my father — attended the event. Both paid glowing tributes to my father. I am proud of my father, not for the award per se, but for making Singapore and Asean better places.

And for this event, even I, usually heedless of convention, was appropriately attired. I wore a Chinese jacket that my sister-in-law Ho Ching had bought for me, carried a bag that my friend and colleague, Professor Helen Tjia, had given me, and wore shoes bought by another friend. Together, they had conspired to ensure that I was dressed appropriately for the occasion.

I did not know how similar my thinking process was to my father's until after a private lunch with the Kissingers last weekend. Kissinger and my father were lamenting the state of the world, when my father said: “Henry, we must do what's right.”

My father has always tried to do what is right for Singapore, and for humanity. He will stand by friends who fall out of public favour to show the world: “To hell with you, he is still my friend.” These are the same rules by which I have tried to lead my much humbler life.

According to the psychologist Hans Jurgen Eysenck, sons think more like their mothers and daughters more like their fathers. My father believes in Eysenck's theories and blames himself for his non-conformist daughter.

He is a world-famous statesman, one whom world leaders consult. As Kissinger noted on Tuesday evening: “Over 40 years, when Mr Lee comes to Washington, he gets to see an array of people that almost no foreign leader gets to see... because he does not come as a supplicant.” Today, my father is to meet Obama.

But, after all is said and done, my father will leave it to history to have the final say on his life. In the meantime, he will simply continue to do what is right for Singapore and for the world. I believe that if there were more politicians like him, the world would be a better place.

This article began on a sombre note. I admire the Stoic philosophy, and had decided to take a stoic view of this year. But I have since come to the conclusion that the glass is half full, and that really, I and most Singaporeans are not in such a bad situation.

It is more likely to stay that way if we continued to do what's right — in season as well as out. — The Straits Times

The writer is director of the National Neuroscience Institute.

My thoughts:

After reading the article by Lee Wei Ling, some may be moved to think of their father and the quality time they wish to spend with their Dad. But how many can have the good fortune of "dropped everything and join him".

Being "lesser mortal", most would have difficulty getting approval for leave from work and would be scared stiff of being "dropped" from their job as money is needed to pay HDB mortgage, children's education and putting food on the table for the family.

No, I'm not talking about spending time with Dad in USA receiving accolades, I'm talking about some poor souls wishing to spend time with Dad who's sick and bedridden at his HDB flat with no maids or Amahs to help.

To be able to stay 5 months in a hospital without losing one's job is to have a very caring and generous employer. To be able to drop everything and have quality time with Daddy is to be luckier than Lucky Tan [Link]

With life come challenges and traumas. It goes with the territory of living. Rich or poor, elite or not, to every life a little rain must fall. Having gone through some serious health challenges and misfortunes of my own, I can appreciate, though not totally agree, with LWL's writings during and after her 5 months stay in hospital.

Lest I be a accused of being a poor sour grape and being mean to a sick person, I wish to state that I had my share of "half glass full" experience (dropping dead on the road with a heart attack and ventricular fibrillation) too. Though I did not need to stay 5 months in a hospital with special exercise equipment (I can't afford it anyway), it took me more than 5 years (without a job or income) to recuperate physically and financially!

Life is funny.

In trying to humanise or philosophise, one may upset readers by being insensitive to their sensitivities. It depends on where one is coming from and where one is heading to. The line between the intention to share one's sense of good/bad blessings and an exercise in shameless adulation can get blur at times.

I guess each of us, regardless of coming from family or famiLee, will do our best to do good, to leave a decent impression, before we are fed to the fish.

Some get the support of msm, some not.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Condensed version of "Men In White"

I read it at The Temasek Review [Link] and think it's good to reproduce it here.

If guys can get rich writing "Men In White", 新加坡文献馆 should be recognised and celebrated for taking the effort to tell it like it is; putting into perspective the hype and mirage that's been stuck on the groove of the 45rpm record of Singapore for far too long.

As the MSM never cease to resist the madness of idolising the PAP and carrying its testicles till it hurts, it's a breath of fresh air to read an alternative view. To know more about 'Is the new Singapore model proceeding towards a “eating, drinking, whoring and gambling” and “don’t care black money or yellow money as long as can make money” model? Will Singapore degrade into a “laugh at the poor but not at the whore” kind of pragmatic society?", please read on.


Original author: 新加坡文献馆

Translated by Lim Leng Hiong

Is the Singapore Model a “Mud Buddha Crossing the River”? (Chinese idiom: 泥菩萨过江-自身难保 Mud buddha crossing the river, can hardly save oneself). Does the Singapore model have any residual study value?

Singapore’s media has routinely lauded the PAP government’s brilliant capability. Among them is a report on 30th Nov 2008 with very typical wording: “Ever since China’s reform and opening up, many leaders have visited Singapore and also learnt from Singapore’s numerous effective methods. Moreover, in recent years many officials, academics and journalists have expressed deep interest in the PAP and Singapore’s political model.”

Clearly, the PAP and their supporters both think that the Singapore model is feasible, and can become a reference study for other developing nations. Lee Kuan Yew’s 2000 book “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story” recounts Lee Kuan Yew’s successful experience.

However, Western academics have been doubtful of the feasibility of the Singapore model for many years. The 2008 Nobel economics prize recipient Paul Krugman wrote an economic commentary in 1994 disputing the so-called Asian economic miracle, and thought that Singapore’s economic growth benefited from the increase in foreign investments and not via gains in economic productivity.

Similarly, American political academic Samuel P. Huntington had always doubted that Singapore’s political system can persist in the post-Lee Kuan Yew era. In reality, the economic policies enacted by the Singapore government are just basic necessities and not conditions leading to success, and thus Singapore’s economic performance is not decided by the PAP government’s policies.

What experience does Singapore have that is worth studying? The article “Singapore Is a Good Example” on the 21世纪网( website on 30th Dec 2008 reported an interview with a NUS academic. Part of the contents include: “Singapore’s influence on China… the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park… Singapore’s sovereign funds and Temasek Holdings model… for 30 years Lee Kuan Yew has always… provided sincere suggestions to China’s governmental leaders… Lee Kuan Yew also thinks that Singapore’s greatest value to China is not in the aspect of hardware, but in the aspect of software, in this area he influenced Deng Xiaoping… Deng Xiaoping said to learn from Singapore, not only Singapore’s more advanced economy, but also her good social order.”

Is this the actual case in reality? To Singapore, the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park was an experience of utter failure. In 1994, China and Singapore both signed a contract to develop the industrial park, in 1997 both sides faced serious differences of opinion, in 1999 both sides agreed to let China take over the industrial park planning and then on 1st Jan 2001 Suzhou local officials formally took control of the industrial park. Singapore, in not quite 3 years after signing, already had serious disputes with the Chinese side, and by the next year 1998 had given up their sprouting offshoot. What kind of Singaporean success model is this? What are the contributions of this model in the software of attracting investment and developing industries for China?

Singapore often repeatedly mentions – in a self-congratulatory way – Deng Xiaoping’s quote of learning from Singapore. Hong Kong’s Anthony Yuen expressed his views on this topic on 8th Jul 2004: “China’s side… always holding the sentiment of compatriotism (or common heritage), treats Lee Kuan Yew leniently, not only generous with courtesy, but also generous with reverence, often talking about learning from ‘Singapore’s experience’ and Lee Kuan Yew often believed it to be true, often promoting ‘Singapore’s experience’ to Chinese officials.

Actually, the experience of managing a 3-million-population ‘company-like’ country is very difficult to transplant into a 9.6-million-sq-km, 1.3-billion-population country, the politeness of Chinese officials spoiled the Singaporeans.” In reality, Deng Xiaoping was only interested in “Singapore’s social order is strictly managed”. To say it plainly Deng Xiaoping was only attracted by Singapore’s political experience as a one-party-rule, atypical democracy.

Systems are very difficult to transplant, moreover Singapore’s national financial system is built on the foundation of stronghand politics, and thus it cannot be or should not be emulated by other governments. The abundant capital controlled by GIC and Temasek is commonly misunderstood by outsiders as the PAP government’s indicator of success. This is only an illusion, the real situation is not necessarily like this.

In economics, wealth can be created or transferred; the former through the reallocation of resources using prices set through market competition, and the latter by using political power to regulate the reallocation of resources. The first case is wealth by entrepreneurship, second case is wealth by exploitation. In other words, wealth creation is an economic behaviour and a display of capability, whereas wealth transfer is a political behaviour and a display of power.

To use the sale of state land as an example: in Hong Kong all proceeds from the sale of state land is used for government spending, whereas in Singapore all proceeds from the sale of state land goes into the reserves. Two different policies with different results – in Hong Kong the gains from society are used for society, whereas in Singapore is it the case that gains from society are used for GIC? If so, does the Hong Kong model or Singapore model more closely conform to the definition of a democratic society?

Besides, in Singapore many plots of state land were mandatory acquisitions by the government from the people at low prices. On 26th June 2003, the Straits Times published a piece of land acquisition news: the government acquired two plots totalling nearly 200 sq metres for a mere 1 dollar, and one of the plots was actually freehold land. This land acquisition case is a classic example of wealth transfer; the government’s payment of 1 dollar was just to fulfill legal transfer procedures, and is not the market value of the land. Is the PAP government getting wealth by entrepreneurship, or getting wealth by exploitation?

In 1965, right after Singapore’s independence, Lee Kuan Yew immediately made amendments to the original constitution articles pertaining to fair compensation for the acquisition of private land. In the 43-year span between 1965 and 2008, how much money has the PAP government accumulated from the sale of land? Clearly, this money is in essence the flesh and blood of the people.

The Singapore model also seemingly represents what the outside world admires as a highly-efficient administration. So what about the reality? Singapore’s ERP system is often – both inside and outside the country – praised as number one in the world.

Firstly, the source of this concept was from the UK and not originated in Singapore. Next, the fact that Singapore is able to implement this system, only reflects the strong-weak relationship between the government and the people; from the policy perspective, the people are powerless to resist and the PAP government can do as they wish.

The PAP government has been adopting this system since the 70’s of the last century. In these 30-plus years, how much road fees have been collected by the government? And how much has Singapore’s traffic jam situation improved? Until today, congestion on the roads remains an evergreen phenomenon. Is the ERP a traffic management system or a reserve-generating mechanism?

Are Singapore’s land and traffic policies worth emulating by other developing nations?

In the Singapore model, the core axle that moulds the relationship between the people and the government is public housing and the CPF. This does not mean that Singapore’s social welfare is also not worth emulating.

Firstly, Lee Kuan Yew strongly dislikes welfare systems, thinking that the poor have an attitude of insatiable greed. Secondly, a relief fund is a waste of precious resources. Thirdly, Lee Kuan Yew also thinks that wealth inequality can stimulate the poor into working more diligently thus contributing to economic development. As you can see, the Singapore model is not accommodating of social welfare.

The two most valuable properties that ordinary citizens of Singapore have are their flats and CPF. However, from the strict definition of property rights theory, these so-called private properties are in reality public properties; governmental properties. This is because flats do not comply with 3 necessary conditions of private property: the right to freedom of use, the right to freedom of transfer and the right to freedom of income-generation.

In the case of housing property, the most significant right of use is residency that comes with conditions, the other rights of use, transfer and income-generation are all subject to HDB restrictions; compare the rights of flat and private condominium ownership to clearly understand what is meant by private property rights.

Is there any assurance in the contract of a flat? Under redevelopment law, the original 99-year lease can be terminated at any time; if the government tells you to move, you have to move. Very clearly, of the two parties in a contract, if one party can terminate the contract at any time or amend its contents at will, then he is necessarily the true, and sole holder of the property; and essentially the owner. To put it simply, the people are the tenants, the government is the owner, although the people paid money to buy the flat.

Bank accounts and CPF accounts are also different, the former can be freely used, freely transferred and freely invested etc., while the latter clearly does not confer these private property advantages.

Lee Kuan Yew, through the policy of acquiring land at cheap prices, produced a result that effectively liquidated homegrown capitalists, and this is the main reason that caused the utter failure of the homegrown economy. Besides, look at the result of how many multi-millionaires that China has produced in a brief 30 years, isn’t it possible to realise that under the governance of the PAP government, Singaporeans’ opportunity for prosperity has long disappeared without a trace? In Singaporean society, building an enterprise from scratch has become an ancient, remote myth.

The political consequences of the Singapore model is crystal clear. When the government completely controlled the people’s most valuable properties, the government also controlled the people’s lives and thoughts.

Under this strong-weak relationship structure, economically the people has degenerated into productivity statistics. Politically, the people have to ensure the stability of the ruling party, because their land ownership rights and fate of their CPF funds are controlled squarely in the hands of the government and the bureaucracy. This is also the main reason why the PAP was able to have such a long period of one party rule.

Thus it can be seen that the Singapore model is not democratic, but a reverse socialist model. According to socialist theory: the people are the masters and make decisions, while the government serve the people. But the Singapore model is: PAP is the master and make decisions, while the people serve the government. Clearly, those countries that intend to pursue democracy and free-market economy definitely would not be happy and should not want to emulate this type of Singapore model.

So, what is the essence of the Singapore model? During an interview on Dec 2006 with 财经 (Channel 8 TV show) Lee Kuan Yew frankly said: “The Singapore model has no essence to speak of but has the ability to continue to change in accordance to changes in the world.” This can be reasonably interpreted as meaning that the Singapore model has no essence but has the characteristics of a chicken weathervane: to change direction based on changes in the situation. Thus, currently it’s the East wind that blows with vigor, the chicken’s head of course looks towards the East.

In early years, Singapore was in a precarious position (一夫当关,万夫莫开 If one man guards the pass, ten thousand are unable to get through) acting as the Western capitalist world’s anti-communist frontier in Southeast Asia. In 1963, Lee Kuan Yew’s “Operation Coldstore” was to prevent Singapore from degenerating into a “Third China”. Not long after, in Nov 2004 Taiwan’s Mark Chen used Taiwanese language to criticise: “Nose-booger-sized Singapore is carrying Communist Party balls. One way then and the other way later, concretely demonstrating Singapore model’s true colours as a chicken weatherwane. In retrospect, the chicken weathervane is an indispensable characteristic of the Singapore model, and is also the face of this spirit. Pragmatism at another level is opportunism: to steer by the wind (nearest English equivalent = trimming one’s sails).”

However, this form of unprincipled, utility-seeking model of governance definitely will not be acceptable to those national cultures with political ideology and patriotic spirit. In international politics no country would sell out their political beliefs or sacrifice patriotic spirit for short-term benefits.

To reiterate, as a post-colonial body, the Singapore model has no national culture, political beliefs and also lacks patriotic spirit. To tell a society with a national culture to accept a Singapore model with no national culture is an unthinkable thing to do. So, will there be an international market for such an immature political model as Singapore? The idolisation of the Singapore model is only a plaything of Singapore’s media, not to be taken seriously.

Undeniably, Lee Kuan Yew is extremely intelligent, and proficient at adapting to circumstances; in his younger years Lee Kuan Yew’s idea of survival was to emphasise the inevitability of change. Indeed, he who knows the Singapore model like the back of his hand, Lee Kuan Yew knows that the Singapore model that he personally moulded has long started to head towards decline.

The old version of the Singapore model looks to be a depreciating model. This is because the financial crisis at the end of the last century and the economic rise of China has fundamentally altered the landscape in world politics and economics. However, lacking in political and economic resources, Singaporean society is unable to change existing social restraints to adapt to the times. That is why in 2002 Lee Hsien Loong’s Remaking Singapore campaign attempted to create a second version of the Singapore model in order to adjust to the new world reality.

In 2005, Lee Kuan Yew declared Confucian ethics to be outdated. In 2006, Lee Kuan Yew talked about the Singapore model having no essence. This kind of political trick is just to drum up support for changing direction, to facilitate the future adoption of new ideas in society, and furthermore to give the old version a respectable stage exit. The PAP has always strategised before they act.

Is the new version of the Singapore model an improvement over the old? (青出于蓝胜于蓝 Green comes from blue and surpasses blue) Or is it worse than before? (一蟹不如一蟹 Each crab is smaller than the one before) Until now this trial version of the Singapore model seems unable to emerge from a stepwise fumble, unable to grasp a direction. Singapore’s manufacturing section today is neither high nor low, without top talents producing research results and also without bottom line competitive advantage. Singapore’s high-salary elite team was no match for mere Suzhou local officials, and so the idea of Singapore’s manufacturing industry turning China into an economic hinterland vanished into thin air.

Didn’t the government’s investment of large expenses to import and forge ahead with life science technologies result in a clash of opinions? Different officials individually insist on their own research directions. Using massive funds to attract world-class scientists who engage in rotating horse lantern games (nearest English equivalent = playing musical chairs), people come and people go, but who knows if they have produced any breakthrough world-class results?

The second wing (referring to sovereign fund investments), which earlier on had flown so high with such unabashed glee, looks today to have fallen hard, part of the investments have now degenerated into long term investments? Isn’t that equivalent to saying that the future government will have to clean up the mess? In 20-30 years, who will be the ruler? Who will be the beneficiary? However, from today’s perspective, people who look forward to getting back their retirement funds on schedule will perhaps face an unforeseeable risk of CPF policy change.

Now, the fate of the IT2000 Intelligent Island plan is unknown. In 2005, Lee Hsien Loong announced the construction of the casinos. In 2006, Singapore became a tax-evader haven and money laundering centre. Xie Guozhong pointed out that Singapore is a failed economy that relied on money laundering to thrive. In the eyes of the Taiwanese, Singapore along with some other third world countries are money laundering centres. In 2008, the F1 racing that was rejected by the government for many years finally kicked off amidst much elation but ended up all sound and no fury. Now the Italian racing world are even more doubtful about the wisdom of holding street races?

In 2010, when Singapore legally begins betting, will sex-based economy follow suit in the legalised market? Singapore degenerating into a money laundering centre already makes people sorrowful, looking for a way out by rummaging rubbish heaps is even more heart wrenching, has the creativity of Singapore’s ultra-high-salaried elite completely dried up? Is the new Singapore model proceeding towards a “eating, drinking, whoring and gambling” and “don’t care black money or yellow money as long as can make money” model? Will Singapore degrade into a “laugh at the poor but not at the whore” kind of pragmatic society? Perhaps this explains why Lee Kuan Yew had to say the Confucian ethics was out of date.

Today, ravaged by the financial thunderstorm, under the climate of a decelerating world economy, the Singapore model is a Mud Buddha in the water. The residual value of the Singapore model is to act as a negative educational example: one-party-rule, one-person-party is not beneficial to the long term development of a society. The post-Lee Kuan Yew era has already begun, Singapore must proceed towards political openness; moulding a society where a hundred flowers can bloom is the only feasible direction for Singapore’s transformation. Hopefully after the Mud Buddha disintegrates, out of the muddy puddle will emerge an untainted and fresh new lotus blossom.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rich Enough to be Frugal, Blessed Enough to Suffer.

In her Sunday Times article of 18 Oct 2009, "No bed of roses for me, thank you", Lee Wei Ling wrote: "I was brought up to be frugal. As children, my brothers and I were chastised if we did not turn off the taps completely, or left lights or air-conditoners on when there was no need for them to be. My parents decided not to live at Sri Temasek, the prime minister's official residence, because they didn't want their children to be waited by butlers and servants."

"There is certain benefit to be derived from a certain degree of deprivation and even suffering. Many of the things we like in excess are bad for us - for example, fatty meat, chocolates and alcohol. Over and above denying ourselves such pleasure, outright suffering is not always bad, and in moderation, is good in character training. I have been through a fair amount of suffering in my life, mainly because of my health. If I had been given a choice to be spared the experience, I would have actually chosen to go through it because suffering taught me lessons no teacher or book can ever teach me. As ancients of various traditions know, tribulations worketh character."

Prior to this, I read "A Letter to Lee Wei Ling" by Patriot [Link] who brought up some interesting points regarding an earlier article written by Lee Wei Ling.

From the two articles, I perceive that Lee Wei Ling is a filial daughter who can make do without the luxuries that is her birthright. It amazes me that given a choice, being a fitness and health enthusiast, she would choose to suffer sickness than to be healthy. I simply cannot see the benefit of such suffering and deprivation of good health. All I know is: that which did not kill me continue to strengthen me to tell it like it is.

Having personally gone through the trauma of a heart attack and ventricular fibrillation (which I do not wish upon anyone), I must admit that it is a blessing that I survived. However, if given a choice, I'd rather not have it. Unless I'm a sadist and a masochist, the shock and pain I brought upon myself and those who love me is reason enough not to suffer a heart attack or any other serious illness.

Not having the pedigree of famiLee, if the heart attack did not kill me, the medical and hospital cost might! Having the riches and wherewithal to overcome serious and costly challenges, one can have the luxury to write about sickness and suffering and be grateful for it. However, to the little guy or the average Joe, the cost of such suffering can literally kill!

There is a great difference in frugality practiced by the rich and frugality practiced by the poor. The poor can't choose. The rich can. The rich can talk and write about it while the poor may be too embarrass by it. I know an acquaintance who owns and drives a very expensive car. He took a MRT ride one day and said that the train ride was fantastic. He could not see why people are complaining about public transportation. This bloke is lucky to have the choice. He took the MRT joy ride during off-peak hour and did not experience the sardine-packed ride of of the little guys. While average Joe's are being squeezed and breathing from others' armpits, this acquaintance of mine is in his luxurious Lexus with music, GPS and what-have-you on his way to and from the bank where he worked. The only choice the little guy has is BMW -Bus, MRT or Walk.

If only everybody can choose to be frugal by choice rather than circumstances, would this world be a better place? Heal The World?

Yes, Let's cut down on "sports cars, extravagant banquets, expensive wines, designer clothes, shoes and handbags - all these things are wasteful." Let's use such excesses to "upgrade kindergartens" to"help young children". We can also help reduce the Gini Index in Singapore and not bitchiBala about the poor having meals at hawker centre, foodcourt or restaurant. While we are at it, we can do much more if budget for defense and mintsters' salaries can be readjusted and channeled to the deserving.

Meanwhile, my thoughts are with Dollah Kassim. "Please get up soon and play again, my Gelek King!"


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Do Not Mess Around With God's Words

I read the Singapore Recalcitrant [Link] and I salute the writer for his fortitude in calling a spade, a spade. I guess when shit hits the fan and one's integrity is humiliated, one has to put money and life where the mouth is! Under such condition, Kiasi (fear of death), Kiasu (fear of loss) and Kia-cheng-hu (fear of government) can take a hike.

Reproduced in full:

An Unconscionable Injustice

Occasionally, there can happen to an unsuspecting person an underbelly attack on his reputation from not entirely unexpected quarter.

Quite frankly, I am baffled by the motive of the ebullient authors of the overhyped political book "Men in White" in giving me unflattering mention in it. Whilst it is purported to give an objective history of the PAP struggle I wonder what have I got to do with the intra-party struggle. Anyway, in page 441 of the book the ambitious authors made the following unverified disparaging statement about me under the sub heading "Another Foreign Hand" : "But in 1971, after a police raid on his (Francis Seow's) woman friend's apartment, he used his influence and friendship with the then director of the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau, Yoong Siew Wah, to have the four officers who had conducted the raid sacked. The attorney-general Tan Boon Teik intervened to reinstate the four officers. Seow was allowed to resign rather than have his actions investigated because of his track record in the Legal Service. Yoong was also asked to quit."

On 28-9-09 I wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Press Holdings drawing his attention to this disparaging statement about me and requesting that a correction be made in his newspaper. I explained that the CPIB was duty-bound to investigate all formal complaints. Mr. Francis Seow made a formal complaint and CPIB carried out investigations of the four detectives. The investigation papers were sent to the Deputy Commissioner of Police who made the decision to dismiss the detectives. There was a prima facie case against the detectives. There was no question that I was asked to quit. I was appointed Director of Internal Security Department following my CPIB stint.

My letter was passed to Mr. Richard Lim, one of the three authors of the book. Mr. Lim replied on 1 October that the material for the disparaging statement was taken from a speech made by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Select Committee Hearing of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill which was published in the Straits Times on 10 October 1986 of which a copy was attached.

It did not come as a surprise to me as the then PM Lee Kuan Yew was like a god to some people and the accuracy of his denigration of a person's reputation was invariably taken at its face value. That he made the disparaging statement about me in the heat of the moment without regard to its accuracy in his heated exchange with a cool-headed eloquent Francis Seow at the Select Committee Hearing could not be ruled out. He is not unknown to have behaved erratically with venom in his speech when highly agitated. He was obviously so infuriated by Mr. Francis Seow's biting taunts that it escaped his normally lucid mind that I was not boarded out but appointed Director ISD after my CPIB stint. It was subsequently pointed out to him but humility is not his forte and he has not been known as one to apologise for his mistakes. Mr. Richard Lim, one of the authors, has assured me that he would add a line after the sentence that I was also asked to quit to indicate that I was actually appointed Director ISD after my CPIB stint in his next and future editions of the book in order to be fair to me.

It was reported that the then attorney-general Mr. Tan Boon Teik intervened to have the four detectives reinstated. Very gallant of him. He must have read the CPIB file on the investigations and could not have missed that the dismissal of the four detectives was made by the Deputy Commissioner of Police. How the then PM Lee Kuan Yew was given the impression that I had the four detectives unlawfully dismissed is something I would like to get to the bottom of.

Mr. Francis Seow was the solicitor-general at the time when I was director CPIB. He had overall supervision of CPIB investigation files sent to his department for final direction. That I should have had a cordial relation with Mr. Francis Seow was natural in human relationship development. For the then PM Lee Kuan Yew or for that matter the attorney-general Mr. Tan Booin Teik to give a sinister connotation to such a relationship seemed to raise doubt as to the soundness of the detractors' mind. Why should the affinity between Mr. Francis Seow and me be seen as something unwholesome?

The most decent thing for the Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to do now is to undo the harm he has caused me and to restore my reputation. But will he?

The most striking sentence from Yoong Siew Wah is:

"The most decent thing for the Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to do now is to undo the harm he has caused me and to restore my reputation. But will he?"

Times, they are a-changing!

Who would imagine the ex-CPIB Chief & ISD Director, 'Singapore Recalcitrant' would blog in such a manner?

Could he be affected by:

"If I lose my wealth, I lose nothing;
if I lose my health, I lose something;
if I lose my integrity, I lose everything!"

It warms my damaged heart (and many Singaporeans with good hearts) to note that more and more people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the worship of an arrogant human god. More and more are waking up to the fact that one needs not forgo truth and integrity just to be in the good book of the mighty. As much as we do not wish to rock the boat, the future of our children and our children's children will be negatively impacted if we continue to keep quiet about the irregularities and injustices that are hurting us now.

It does not benefit me one bit to see skeletons oozing out of the cabinet but it may enlighten the elites, the rich and powerful, that humility (not walking all over other lesser mortals) is a better option than practicing hubris.

Is this the beginning of the end?

With what has happened lately, I'm won't be surprised. Examples:
  • Upturn the Downturn [Link]
  • All Things Being Equal [Link] and [Link]
  • PAP Getting Credit For HDB Upgrade In Opposition Wards [Link]
  • I Don't Want To Be Your Platoon Commander [Link]

Is the publication of the book "Men In White" meant to upturn the downturn of the fortunes of the men in white? Is it meant to help the MIW gain more votes in the coming election? With this expose, I don't think so.

Singaporeans Boleh!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Truth or Contortion

I often tell my friends and relatives, "What is important to you may not be important to me and what is important to me may not be imported to you." As much as we love each other, the perception of one may not be what is perceived by the other.

I appreciate the numerous comments in my previous post [Link] and in TOC [Link].

Some commented that I wrote out of context while others asked me to go get laid. In whatever context, regardless of active NS vs Reservist or Citizens vs PRs, are males age 30 and above good enough for national service? If yes, why is the Prime Minister reluctant to be their Platoon Commander? If no, why are so many over 30 Singaporean males still serving?

In response to those who asked me to go get laid (screwed?), I must admit that I am getting laid. Here are some examples:
  • To have my contribution as a NSman and reservist taken for granted.
  • To have my hard earned money taken from me by CPF since I started working more than 40 years ago and not having the freedom to use it after my retirement. Why I was good enough to manage my money (without debt) to support and bring up my children but not good enough to manage it during my retirement is beyond me. Is my CPF mine? [Link]
  • To realise that "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" is nothing but an aspiration.
  • As a Singaporean seeing the video of 28 year old Ms Zhang Yuanyuan of China picking a Blue Singapore NRIC followed by “repaying the motherland is her greatest wish!” [Link] makes me feel like Singapore got laid.
As much as Singaporeans may be upset by this video of Zhang Yuanyuan showing loyalty to her motherland, I'm sure many Singaporeans are loyal to their own motherland, Singapore because they sacrifice years of their precious time doing active and reservist training (though not voluntary) for motherland.

Or has our loyalty been eroded by leaders who continues to make sure that we keep getting laid as above?

Those who love me have advised me to take down my previous post [Link]. They are worried that the comments posted by some sound ballistic, defamatory and threatening and I may end up in trouble. They are afraid that I may be accused by the mighty MHA or ISA of inciting violence or whatever. If I end up in the slammer (or worse) for writing what I write, then I have to accept that to every life a little rain must fall.

With hand touching my damaged heart, I write to get the frustration off my chest. To let the insensitive, high and mighty know that there are little guys out there. The little guys, the non-elite Ali, Ah Seng, Rajoo and Joe who are loyal and have done much for their motherland, Singapore. The little guys who are getting disillusioned and disenchanted with the daily grind that gets them working harder and getting poorer! It's tough seeing the quality of life deteriorating everyday.

To let the insensitive, high and mighty know that it's not nice to rub us the wrong way with callous comments.

If the Chinese leaders are proud of Ms Zhang Yuanyuan., why can't the Singapore leaders be proud of the thousands of NSmen who sacrifice much more for Singapore than what Ms Zhang Yuanyuan did for China?

My truth is not your truth until you find it to be true.
Once the truth is with you, no one, nothing can take it away from you.