Reply to Theodore Shawcross’s “Why do people hate Singapore?”

June 26, 2016

I refer to Theodore Shawcross’s Quora answers to “Why do people hate Singapore?”

1) Freedom of speech and racial harmony

Theodore claimed that giving up freedom of speech is a price that Singaporeans must pay for racial harmony. That is falsehood.

Singapore was already a paradise for multiracial harmony (Chinese, Malay and Indian) long since colonial times. Evidences can be found at https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/singapore-racial-harmony-during-colonial-times

Mixed communities have lived together harmoniously in Singapore for over a hundred years before the PAP government came along. Yet throughout our colonial years of multiracial harmony, there was never the need to trade off our freedom of speech. Colonial era Staits Times was so much freer than it is today. Colonial era Chinese papers spoke for the Chinese educated masses unlike today.

Conclusion: Singapore’s racial harmony is carried forth from colonial times, not forged by the PAP government. There was no need to trade off freedom of speech for racial harmony during colonial times, there is no need now.

2) Hate crime

Theodore claimed that everyone in England has a friend who has a racial conflict story to tell and therefore UK is riddled with hate crime even though he himself has never experienced it.

For someone who claims to be an economist, Theodore’s claim is too unscientific. If every other person that Theodore knows have heard ghost stories, does that mean Theodore would believe in ghosts too?

There are so many conflicts between Caucasians and locals in public places captured on Youtube. Perhaps Theodore should view them and conclude the same about Singapore too?

3) Cost of living

Theodore claims that social spending must increase but that means increasing tax but that is a no, no since Singapore is attractive because of low taxes.

That is like saying nothing at all or nothing useful. Theodore is wrong because the Singapore government can increase spending without increasing taxes because it has billions of dollars of budget surplus to spare almost every year. We are not even talking about dipping into the reserves, just the billions of dollars of budget surplus every year that the government doesn’t use but puts away in the already bloated reserves.

Theordore claims that what keeps our economy strong also keeps our cost of living high so for the sake of our economy, cost of living has to be kept high. He also claims that cost of living in a metropolitan city must necessarily be high and cited New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney for comparison.

According to the Economist Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2016, all the cities Theodore cited are cheaper than Singapore. There are many other cities listed in the survey that are economically as strong as Singapore but that have much lower in cost of living such as Taipei, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Sydney, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Berlin, Stockholm, Hamburg, Munich and so on.

Conclusion: There are so many cities in this world that are as competitive as Singapore but with much lower cost of living. Hence the notion that a better economy must necessitate higher cost of living is therefore not true. Ultimately, it is human ingenuity that drives the economy, not cost of living. Human ingenuity cannot thrive when cost of living is exorbitant.

4) Western capital cities are filthy and public transport fail all the time

Theodore claims that most capital cities except Tokyo and Sydney are filthy and that their transport systems fail all the time.

Firstly, Sydney is not the capital city of Australia. Canberra is. Secondly, Theodore unfairly limits his comparison to capital cities when all cities can be compared for cleanliness. The fact that Theodore recognizes the cleanliness of Japanese and Australian cities shows that the cleanliness in Singapore is really not so big deal after all. There are so many other clean and beautiful cities like those in Switzerland and Germany, they have to be or they would not attract so many tourists year after year.

It’s plain exaggeration to say that Western public transport fail all the time. Singapore public transport cannot compare to those in Switzerland and Germany. This is despite the fact that Singapore’s public transport infrastructure is so much newer than those in Western cities. Because of lower population densities and the prevalence of car or bicycle use, public transport failure is comparatively less disruptive in Western cities than in Singapore.

5) Affordable public housing and cheap eat outs

Theodore says that our public housing is affordable and that he can eat at a food court in Singapore for SGD $10 whereas he has to pay SGD $50 for a proper meal in London.

In the first place, Singapore public housing, especially those in the open market, can be more expensive than private housing in Western cities. There are many Singaporeans who have sold their flats and bought houses with gardens to live in Western cities. So housing is clearly much more affordable in Western cities instead.

There is a website http://golondon.about.com/od/eatingdrinking/tp/EatUnderFiver.htm that tells Theodore where to eat for less than 5 British pounds which is approximately SGD $10. So no excuses for Theodore for not getting cheap meals in London unless his main intent is to unfairly compare a London restaurant with a Singapore food court.

6) Car costs and traffic jams

Theodore reasons that low car costs in Western cities are associated with traffic jams. He cites his own example of having to face the traffic jam on I-80 everyday in his one hour drive from home to Stanford.

But the same can be said about Singapore. Every morning and evening, expressways like PIE will be jammed. I once passed through two gantries along CTE only to end up in a jam just the same.

Conclusion: It is not true that high car costs automatically means little or no traffic jam. We have high car costs plus traffic jams often contributed by incessant road works or pruning of trees.

7) Freedom of expression

Theodore points to calling an Indian or Malay by the colour of their skin as the kind of freedom of speech that we should not want. He thinks that Lee Kuan Yew quit Malaysia to retain racial equality. He says that violence is just one step away from racially or religiously offensive remarks which only the law can protect us against.

While Indians or Malays are not referred to by the colour of their skin, they are called names like apu neh neh which some Indians take offense to (although I have seen a video explanation of why apu neh neh isn’t offensive).

Lee Kuan Yew didn’t quit Malaysia, we were kicked out of Malaysia because Lee Kuan Yew grew too ambitious and wanted to be prime minister of the whole of Malaysia.

Theodore is actually shooting himself in the foot. Going by his argument that the law can protect us against racist or religious offenses, there should therefore be no need for speech control to protect what is already and can only be protected by the law.

8) Singapore housing is affordable

Theodore claims that Singapore is the only country that has kept housing affordable in the capital city relative to suburban areas. He then contradicts himself by saying that Singapore’s suburban area is Malaysia where houses are cheap and affordable. If Malaysian (Singapore suburban) housing is cheap and affordable compared to Singapore, wouldn’t that imply that Singapore housing is expensive and unaffordable compared to Malaysia (Singapore suburban)? Thus, Theodore provides the evidence to prove himself wrong.

Most surveys such as the Global Property Guide rank Singapore amongst the most expensive cities in the world in property prices. So Theodore can only fool himself in saying Singapore housing is affordable.

9) The rest

Theodore blames people’s hate of Singapore on Hollywood. But Singapore is hardly ever mentioned by Hollywood so much so that our mention in Pirates of the Caribbean was already sensational enough for us. Theodore blames Singaporeans for ignorance when his entire essay is chock full of ignorance. Theodore describes young people as pain in the ass who needs to grow up. No Theodore, not all young people are pain in ass. You are not pain in the ass, you are just plain ass.

Theodore claims he is proud to stay and contribute to our economy and to create jobs for Singaporeans. But at the beginning of his essay, he said he moved to Singapore for economic reasons because jobs are here, not to create jobs. In the same token, if for some reasons Singapore falters, you can be rest assured that Theodore will move on to greener pastures for the same selfish economic reasons that he himself has confessed to.

10) Conclusion

Falsehoods, half truths and weak analyses that are sometimes self contradictory are the common themes that run throughout Theodore’s essay. It reflects deep seated ignorance and weak intellectual ability on the author. It brings shame to Stanford and other world class universities Theodore is associated with.

More to Chiams setting the record straight

May 5, 2016

I refer to the 5 May 2016 six-six.com article “The Chiams Set the Record Straight”.

Chiam See Tong’s supposed setting the record straight is mainly against Dr Wong Wee Nam and Bryan Lim, both peripheral figures not central to the debate between Chiam See Tong and Chee Soon Juan.

If Chiam See Tong really wants to set the record straight, then he must tackle head on SDP’s full, factual and coherent presentation of the events surrounding his departure from SDP available online http://yoursdp.org/publ/the_truth_about/chiam_39_s_exit_from_the_sdp/part_1_the_truth_about_chiam_see_tong_39_s_departure/11-1-0-16.

To merely poke at peripheral figures who may have added their own personal interpretations to the events surrounding these two central SDP figures without demolishing the central body of evidence presented by the SDP suggests that Chiam is merely grasping at straws.

Chiam’s claim that Chee Soon Juan has the habit of issuing deadlines for offers to both Chiam himself and the WP is something that will require verification from both SDP and WP. As far as WP is concerned, they probably can’t be bothered to add to the dirty laundry being washed in public.

But if that’s true then it probably points to a minor irritating personality issue that may be okay to some but not to others.

What’s most important is that all the allegations that PAP has been making all these years about Dr Chee are nothing but hogwash.

Rebutting Mr Sagar on All Singapore Stuff

May 1, 2016

I refer to the reply by Mr Sagar Gandhi to Mr Shirwin Eu’s wife’s comments.

High election costs isn’t the only way to exclude candidates looking for wealth. Lowering the MP allowance is another way. If the MP allowance is only $3,000 a month which is close to median income, then no one can blame election candidates for going after wealth.

There are so many ways to become famous. Most famous of which is the Famous Amos way. It is far cheaper and more effective too. So it’s hardly convincing for Mr Sagar to say that someone is going after fame by contesting in elections when there are so many other easier and more effective ways to become famous.

It is unfair for Mr Sagar to say that one who is truly worthy and deserving can easily obtain $13,500 a month because it implies that anyone who cannot obtain $13,500 a month is unworthy and undeserving. But $13,500 is way above Singapore median income. Mr Sagar is essentially saying that only the rich in Singapore are worthy and deserving enough to contest in elections. Ordinary folks earning less than $13,500 are unworthy. That is a terrible attitude to have. There are so many worthy individuals who are earning so much less than $13,500. We have a phD blogger who now drives a taxi. Dr Chee is a phD too but is reduced to doing odd jobs here and there.

Mr Sagar cannot compare the networking in Singapore with the networking in America. America is a free country. If there is a giant you want to fight against, there will be another giant who is willing to back you. Here in Singapore, all the networking eventually traces to PAP. If you’re against the PAP, then sadly, the network will be against you, not for you.

Mr Sagar should not blame Uber for high COEs. COEs have been high for many years already whereas Uber is only a recent phenomenon in Singapore. In fact, COEs have come down a bit from the highs a few years ago. Wouldn’t it be the other way around instead? That with Uber’s entrance comes lower COEs? I’m not suggesting anything but it shows how silly it can be to associate COEs with Uber when there are so many other factors to consider.

Instead of eagerly asking Shirwin for solutions, Mr Sagar should pause for a while and ask himself instead, for a relative unknown like Shirwin, even if his solution is gold or platinum standard, would Mr Sagar or the elites governing this country be able to recognise it?

By his statement “Would that not have been a better response than the desire to achieve wealth and fame when requesting to be voted into public office?”, Mr Sagar has already falsely accused Mr Shirwin of seeking wealth and fame. Mr Sagar urges Shirwin to improve his arguments when in fact it is Mr Sagar who should improve his. Mr Sagar should not be so silly as to think that making false accusations is the same as making an argument.

Response to Grace Fu and Halimah

April 30, 2016

I refer to the 30 Apr 2016 Straits Times report “Grace Fu and Halimah point to Murali’s track record and character”.

Ms Fu and Madam Halimah reportedly laid out three criteria for Bukit Batok voters to judge their candidates:

First, what kind of person is the candidate?

Second, what promises has be made?

And third, can he deliver on them?

1) Kind of person

Dr Chee lives in a three room flat. He is the kind of person who well understands through first hand experience, the daily grind of the common folk.

Mr Murali is a successful lawyer. He is the kind of person who better understands what it is like to be successful and to be an elite in this country.

Who will better understand the concerns of the Bukit Batok common folk? Dr Chee who lives their lives or Mr Murali who does not?

2) Promises and delivery

Dr Chee promises to be a full time MP. He is expected to easily fulfill his promise given he doesn’t have a full time job.

Mr Murali who most certainly would be a part time MP promises to deliver as good if not better care to the residents than Dr Chee. Mr Murali is expected to under-deliver as his full time job as a lawyer will always take precedence over his MP duties. He can be expected to tuang many of the parliament sessions as video footages have shown many PAP MPs tuang parliament sessions. But Singaporeans love to pay PAP MPs $16,000 every month to tuang parliament sessions.

Work experience

Grace Fu lambasts Dr Chee for not holding a full time job for a long time and then questions his relevant work experience.

However, between Dr Chee and Mr Murali, Dr Chee’s variety of work experiences is actually richer and more relevant to an MP’s duties as compared to Mr Murali’s. Unlike Mr Murali who can only claim expertise in matters of law in parliament, Dr Chee has given talks to international audiences and written books and papers published by leading newspapers and magazines in a variety of topics including economics, politics, law, democracy and so on.

Moreover, Dr Chee is the leader of the SDP whereas Murali is just an ordinary PAP member. In this respect, Dr Chee is more qualified than Mr Murali.

Referral

Grace Fu criticises Dr Chee’s lack of referral from his mentor Mr Chiam See Tong. But Mr Chiam isn’t Dr Chee’s only mentor. Back when Mr Chiam resigned as secretary general of SDP, all the other mentors of SDP backed Dr Chee, not Mr Chiam. So it is not that Dr Chee doesn’t have endorsement from his mentors, he only doesn’t have endorsement from Mr Chiam just as Goh Chok Tong didn’t get Lee Kuan Yew’s endorsement but became the prime minister just the same from the endorsements of most of his other colleagues.

Paddy stalk

Madam Halimah describes Mr Murali as a bowing paddy stalk. Madam Halimah, we don’t need paddy stalk, we can import rice. But we have persistent pigeon problems in many hawker centres. Perhaps Mr Murali can make a good scarecrow instead.

Madam Halimah claims that Mr Murali’s nomination by a Chinese activist shows that his hard work has transcended racial differences. But it can also mean that all the other Chinese PAP activists in Bukit Batok are so hopelessly ji hong that he has no choice but to nominate Mr Murali.

Shout at Goh Chok Tong

Both ladies remind Bukit Batok voters that Dr Chee shouted at Goh Chok Tong 15 years ago. That episode shows a few things. It shows that Dr Chee is totally honest. He bares his all, he doesn’t pretend. It also shows that Dr Chee is passionately concerned with Singapore and will fight and shout for our money if he finds out it had been squandered away.

Town council

Both ladies remind Bukit Batok voters of how long it took (presumably WP) to get the town council in order. But KPMG has recently cleared the air and clearly explained that the key to town council issues were the obstacles placed by the PAP itself. In other words, Grace Fu and Madam Halimah are reminding Singaporeans that PAP will continue to engage in unethical ways to sabotage the new town council team with total disregard to the welfare of Bukit Batok residents. Will Bukit Batok residents be held ransom by PAP?

Online spat between Lee Wei Ling and Janadas

April 7, 2016

In Lee Wei Ling’s original post, she claimed “cynics who complain that Pa restricted freedom of speech, you are wrong”.

Friends, if you think Lee Kuan Yew had indeed restricted freedom of speech, feel free to disagree with Wei Ling and say she is the one who is wrong instead.

Point 1: Sly

Round 1 (Lee Wei Ling): Janadas complained that Cheong was sly

Round 2 (Janadas): He did not complain Cheong was sly, they were Ms Lee’s characterisation, not his

Round 3 (Lee Wei Ling): Janadas was expressing anger that Cheong wasn’t straight with her father, she could not remember exact words

Conclusion: “Sly” indeed was Lee Wei Ling’s characterisation, not Janadas’. Wei Ling could not remember what Janadas actually said.

Point 2: Scolded

Round 1 (Lee Wei Ling): A PAP cadre told her that Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) had called Cheong to scold him. Later Cheong told her it was not scold but point out some issues.

Round 2 (Janadas): PM Lee did not call Cheong to scold him, exactly as Cheong had conveyed to her

Round 3 (Lee Wei Ling): While she said scolded at first, she also added that Cheong corrected her saying it wasn’t scold but point out issues

Conclusion: Indeed it wasn’t scold and both had been right. But since it wasn’t scold, Wei Ling should not have mentioned it at all unless her purpose was to implicate the PAP cadre who said it.

Point 3: Foreword versus blurb

Round 1 (Lee Wei Ling): Cheong asked Lee Kuan Yew to write a foreword

Round 2 (Janadas): It was a blurb, not a foreword

Round 3 (Lee Wei Ling): She has the book right in front of her, her dad’s foreword is there ahead of all other forewords

Conclusion: Looking at online posts of the so-called “foreword” by Lee Kuan Yew, it is only four sentences long so it appears more like a blurb than a foreword. Even if Lee Kuan Yew writes only two words like “Good book”, they will come before any other blurb or foreword.

Shame on Sham

March 6, 2016

The following statements are not to be read in part or in whole by anyone connected to the coroner’s inquiry on Benjamin Lim’s case. If you happen to be part of the coroner’s inquiry on Benjamin Lim’s case or are connected to it, kindly refrain from reading further. This is to ensure that the comments made here will not prejudice the coroner’s inquiry in any way.

I refer to Minister Shanmugam’s parliament statements on Benjamin’s case.

The claim that the girl had been traumatised doesn’t square with the opinion that Benjamin would have received no more than a warning and that the specific molest is less serious. As far as the law is concerned, touching the hand can be considered molest too. Even the hair is considered a part of the girl’s body. If indeed the girl had been subjected to traumatic molest, then a mere warning would appear unjust to the girl.

Throughout his statements, Shanmugam gave next to nothing about the young girl so quite clearly, protecting the young girl was never a problem to begin with.

From media reports, it is clear the family desperately sought answers; answers that Shanmugam didn’t give. Shanmugam’s disregard for Benjamin’s family’s pleas for answers is not characteristic of someone who is genuinely respectful. Respect for Benjamin should not have precluded Shanmugam from sharing what he knew with Benjamin’s family privately.

The confrontational nature of Shanmugam’s response doesn’t square with his superficial admission of responsibility. What’s there to be responsible for if the protocols did not contribute to Benjamin’s death? If Shanmugam indeed feels responsible and sees the need for protocols to be re-examined, surely he must at least feel a little apologetic that he hadn’t examined the protocols sooner? But one detects absolutely no remorse in Shanmugam’s answers. It is almost as though he did no wrong and nobody in the government was wrong. I think the 70% vote that PAP secured must have given him tremendous confidence to act this way.

Shanmugam’s concern with politicisation in this case appears one sided only. While he goes to great lengths to condemn politicisation against his own government, he spoke next to nothing about the vicious attacks on the family of Benjamin whom he supposedly respects.

Shanmugam said:

The Rules of Sub Judice generally preclude discussions which may prejudice proceedings but public officials like myself can make statements, if they believe it to be necessary in the public interest, even if there is a hearing pending.

What is Shamugam saying? He, as an official, is above the law? As an official, he is not bound by the law but we peasants are bound by it? What kind of law is this? Peasant’s law?

Heng?

February 24, 2016

During the last election, Minister Lim Swee Say said heng ah, he was born in Singapore and many Singaporeans agreed with him.

But the truth is, you don’t have to be born in Singapore to be heng in Singapore:

1) Minster Khaw Boon Wan, Senior Minister of State Amy Khor are amongst those who weren’t born in Singapore but who heng heng became Singapore’s political elites.

2) DBS CEO wasn’t born in Singapore but still heng heng became a top banker in Singapore.

3) Hyflux CEO wasn’t born in Singapore but still heng heng became a top entrepreneur in Singapore.

4) Many of our SIA pilots are foreign born but are heng just the same in Singapore.

5) There have been so many generations of bright foreign born students who were heng heng given scholarships to study in Singapore and eventually succeeded in Singapore.

6) We have athletes born in relatively poorer East Europe and dirt poor Africa who heng heng became Singapore’s top footballers.

So if you think you are heng to be born in Singapore, think again. You could have been born anywhere in the world and still be heng in Singapore.

To say otherwise would be to suggest that you are less deserving than your foreign born counterpart and have been given a good life only because you are Singapore born and not because you are actually good.

But we know that is not the case because in Singapore, meritocracy trumps everything else including nationality and origin of birth.

So no, you don’t have to be born in Singapore to be heng in Singapore.

Neutral, good, integrity

February 12, 2016

Neutral

Some people think that being neutral means if you have 5 bad things to say about PAP, you must also have 5 good things to say about PAP. But that is not what being neutral is all about.

Suppose our subject matter is Yang Ying. You want to say 5 bad things about Yang Ying. Must you also say 5 good things about him too? If you have nothing good to say about Yang Ying, are you guilty of being not neutral? If the judge assigns all the blame to Yang Ying, do you say the judge is not being neutral?

Being neutral doesn’t mean 50-50 regardless of the situation. Being neutral means being fair to each and every individual depending on the unique facts of each situation. If the murderer or rapist deserves no sympathy, he deserves no sympathy. If there’s nothing good to say about PAP, there’s nothing good to say about PAP.

Good

Many of the so-called “good” that people see in PAP are actually not “good” but ordinary or so so only. For example, when Khaw Boon Wan built flats that Mah Bow Tan refused to build, people said Khaw did good. But in the first place, building flats to cater to Singaporeans’ needs was his job. If Khaw was good by simply doing his job, how come our appraisal forms always ask us to list areas where we performed beyond normal call of duty? Shouldn’t we get a good appraisal just by doing our jobs too?

Furthermore, aristocrats should be held accountable to aristocratic standards of good. PAP aristocrats regard themselves as best of the best and benchmark themselves against top of the top professionals. The kind of standard they have set for themselves cannot be the kuching kurak kind of standard. Has PAP measured up to their self-declared aristocratic standard of good?

Not enough flats build flats (after much complaining), not enough buses buy buses, cannot find MRT fault fly in expert from overseas (no one from SMRT, LTA or Ministry of Transport can find the fault). Like that also good, then surely any Tom, Dick or Harry can be good too.

Singaporeans should not let our aristocratic PAP get away with simple, basic goodness. If simple, basic goodness is all that Singaporeans want, why insist on the expensive, aristocratic PAP when any kuching kurak political party will do just fine?

Singaporeans are promised XO char kway tiao only to be served cheap, ordinary char kway tiao. Singaporeans don’t mind but are in fact happy because that’s all they ever wanted. But happy as you are, don’t forget Singaporeans, you have paid for XO char kway tiao, don’t let the hawker get away with serving ordinary char kway tiao.

Integrity

Singaporeans condone and even think it is alright for PAP to say anything they like during election time and not take them to task. That is not right.

During election 2015, Teo Chee Hian’s No. 1 issue was one page (not even the summary page) from Punggol East accounts. After the election, he suddenly became completely silent on this matter. This sudden change in attitude gives away the lie. Punggol East accounts was never an issue to begin with. Singaporeans should clearly see the true face of Teo Chee Hian and not be taken for a ride.

Singaporeans cannot be so unfair as to grumble so much about the opposition yet turn a blind eye to more fundamental integrity issues with the PAP.

Singapore’s sovereignty not threatened

February 11, 2016

I refer to the 30 Jan 2016 Straits Times report “Singapore’s sovereignty ‘never a given'”.

Ambassador-at-large Mr Bilahari Kausikan reportedly said:

the 193 countries that make up the UN were sovereign, but beyond their “one seat, one vote and one flag” there, some were either being yanked every which way by major global powers or rent asunder by internal conflicts.

Singapore was represented under Malaysian sovereignty in the UN in 1963. It can be said that Malaysia-Singapore had already been rent asunder by internal conflicts in 1965. We turned out better off without Malaysia. Hence, being rent asunder due to internal conflicts isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The renting asunder of USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were all for the better, not for the worse. Many former USSR states were held against their wishes in a union they did not want to be a part of.

Conversely, being merged together isn’t necessarily a good thing. An ex-colleague once implored to me: “what if we got a lousy government which did a silly thing like merge us into Malaysia?” I told her that silly thing actually happened before and it was Lee Kuan Yew’s lousy government which did just that. She didn’t even know we were once part of Malaysia even though she is older than me. This is the kind of “well-informed” Singaporean going to the polls every 5 years.

Of the 193 UN countries, there are actually not that many that have been so-called “yanked by major powers” or rent asunder by internal conflicts. So the correct lesson from Mr Kausikan’s observations should be that while Singapore’s sovereignty is not a given, the probability of us being yanked by major powers or rent asunder by internal conflicts is not high while the probability of us remaining sovereign is high.

Mr Bilahari Kausikan reportedly said:

Singaporeans lived in a “complicated and dangerous region” …

This contradicts what Minister Shanmugam said:

Modern East Asia, including Southeast Asia is what it is today because of the crucial role the United States played in underwriting security in Asia-Pacific. The U.S. provided security and stability that helped to stem the tide of communism, the 7th Fleet kept the ceilings open. The U.S. generously opened its markets to the region, and that sustained economic growth and prosperity of many Asian countries. In turn, that created conditions that allowed East Asia, beginning with Japan, to seize opportunity to uplift their people’s lives, and China is a most recent example of that. Success of countries in the region created a dynamism which has also created new challenges and opportunities, and let me add … the U.S. did all of it.
[The Brookings Institution, Southeast Asia and the United States: remarks by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Singapore foreign minister K. Shanmugam, 22 Sept 2014]

If we are indeed living in a dangerous region, where do investors find the confidence to invest so much in Singapore?

It is precisely because the US has been underwriting the security of Asia Pacific that the region is not as dangerous as Mr Kausikan claims it to be and is one of the reasons why Singapore continues to attract so much foreign investment.

Don’t be taken in by Heng Swee Kiat’s bullshit

January 31, 2016

I refer to the 30 Jan 2016 Straits Times report “Let’s create value and share it: Heng Swee Keat”.

Mr Heng said:

“Since its founding, Singapore has faced challenges which spur innovation, from a lack of water to an ageing population”.

It is imperative that Singaporeans be reminded of the simple fact that Singapore’s founding was in 1819, not 1965. It was our late Dr Goh Keng Swee who said that Singapore faced challenges as early as 1823, just four years after our founding by Sir Stamford Raffles:

… As early as 1823, four years after Singapore’s founding by Sir Stamford Raffles, the first discriminatory measures against Singapore’s trade were introduced … the Dutch imposed a special levy on piece goods imported into Java from Singapore …Trade discrimination and flag discrimination were only two of the perils that Singapore merchants had to contend with. Another took the form of the establishment of rival trading centres. In 1847, Makassar was converted into a free port by the Dutch to take away the flourishing Bugis trade from Singapore. In the next five years five more free ports were established at other places in the Netherlands East Indies. None of these measures checked the growth of Singapore …

[Singapore Economics History Collection – The Practice of Economic Growth, Goh Keng Swee, page 5]

I refer to the 29 Jan 2016 Today report “Bringing ideas to reality will keep Singapore ahead: Heng” (http://tablet.todayonline.com/singapore/succeed-we-must-remain-forefront-heng) for other statements made by Mr Heng but not reported by Straits Times.

Today reported Mr Heng saying:

… the Republic created its own technology to overcome the scarcity of water.

But the truth is altogether different as illuminated by wise members of the online community:

Water filtration, reverse-osmosis etc are Western inventions. We merely buy these filtration technologies & equipment for our needs.

Frank Lee

Researchers from both University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Florida successfully produced fresh water from seawater in the mid-1950s, but the flux was too low to be commercially viable until the discovery at University of California at Los Angeles by Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan at the National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, of techniques for making asymmetric membranes characterized by an effectively thin “skin” layer supported atop a highly porous and much thicker substrate region of the membrane. John Cadotte, of FilmTec Corporation, discovered that membranes with particularly high flux and low salt passage could be made by interfacial polymerization of m-phenylene diamine and trimesoyl chloride. Cadotte’s patent on this process was the subject of litigation and has since expired. Almost all commercial reverse osmosis membrane is now made by this method. By the end of 2001, about 15,200 desalination plants were in operation or in the planning stages, worldwide.

In 1977 Cape Coral, Florida became the first municipality in the United States to use the RO process on a large scale with an initial operating capacity of 3 million gallons per day. By 1985, due to the rapid growth in population of Cape Coral, the city had the largest low pressure reverse osmosis plant in the world, capable of producing 15 million gallons / day (MGD).

Statestimesreview, Kok Wan See

Mr Heng also said:

But the fact is that Singapore’s social policy innovations in housing, healthcare and the Central Provident Fund, among others, are studied around the world.

Again, the truth is something else altogether different:

The predecessor of HDB is SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust), set up in 1927 by the British colonial government in Singapore in response to the massive housing needs of the population. If you go to Tiong Bahru today, in the neighbourhood of Seng Poh Lane, you can still see a good number of these colonial flats in excellent condition standing earmarked for heritage preservation. They can cost over a million in the open retail market today and much sought after. So HDB is not a PAP invention as claimed by the minister.

CPF was also created by the British government in the colonial days in Singapore, the British Colony of Hong Kong and the Peninsula of Malaya as a retirement plan for workers. It’s a British invention. The PAP only “bastardized” it for a cheap source of fund to build the nation and to profit from the citizens in astronomical housing prices, super expensive healthcare and education to absolve the government from its social responsibilities.

Frank Lee

Also, Singapore’s premier healthcare institutions predate PAP by a century. Singapore General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Kandang Kerbau Hospital were established in 1821, 1844, 1858 respectively, more than a century before PAP came to power in 1959. How can PAP claim the credit of Singapore healthcare from pioneers like Tan Tock Seng who certainly was never a PAP man (because he died before PAP was born)?

Singaporeans shouldn’t miss out the ample evidence of the pioneering contributions of colonial era SIT in building Singapore’s first housing estates, first public flats including our first high rise flats and how it became the cornerstone upon which the later success of HDB rested upon:

The housing of 150,000 Singaporeans by the SIT had no parallel elsewhere in Asia. Straits Times, 2 Feb 1960

[Beyond Description: Singapore Space Historicity, Ryan Bishop and John Phillips and Wei-Wei Yeo, page 57]

… He told the Straits Times: “I have never seen such wonderful blocks of flats … The S.I.T. flats, which he toured yesterday, “staggered him.” … “People in Liverpool where we consider ourselves to be in the forefront of town planning and slum clearance, would fight to get an S.I.T flat in one of the new blocks I saw to-day.

[The Straits Times, 10 June 1952, Page 5, He is all praise for SIT homes]

The S.I.T should be congratulated for developing Queenstown into a beautiful estate which was once covered with shrubs and graveyards. Queenstown should now be considered a model housing estate for Singapore. It has the highest building, schools, markets, good roads and plenty of playing grounds for children and very good flats.

[The Straits Times, 8 September 1956, Page 12, A SLUM IN THE MAKING]

One of its enduring achievements was the building of a new town at Tiong Bahru, intended to relieve the congestion in Chinatown. It housed 6,600 people and was to have been the first of a series of satellite towns.

[Management of Success: The Moulding of Modern Singapore, Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley, page 18]

The SIT record shows that by the end of 1959, it had built 22,115 housing units, 904 shops, and twelve markets. Another solid achievement to its credit was the completion of the Master Plan. It is often commented that the performance of the SIT was unremarkable compared with that of its successor, the HDB. But the different conditions under which the two bodies worked should be taken into account.

[Management of Success: The Moulding of Modern Singapore, Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley, page 19]

It is worth nothing that the first ten-storey tower blocks in London had appeared only three years before, in 1948.

[Beyond Description: Singapore Space Historicity, Ryan Bishop & John Phillips & Wei-Wei Ye, page 56]

The Singapore Improvement Trust … did provide the basis of a public housing bureaucracy with a valuable accumulation of experience, which could later be utilized by the Housing and Development Board. An illustration of this transition is the development of the first satellite town, Queenstown, which was originally planned by the Trust but was left to its successor to accomplish.

[The Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in Singapore, Michael Hill and Kwen Fee Lian, page 114]

Although the development of Queenstown was initiated by the SIT in 1952, the estate was subsequently completed by SIT’s successor, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), in the early 1970s. A major part of the town was developed during the first Five-Year Building Programme (1960–1965). Between the years 1952 and 1968, a total of 19,372 housing units were built in the area.

[HistorySG, an online resource guide – Development of Queenstown, Singapore’s first satellite town]


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