MM Lee made the remark not too long ago that Mr Teo Chee Hian and his team are talented people because they had the wisdom to send staff well versed in Bahasa Indonesia and not Bahasa Melayu to Banda Aceh for our humanitarian efforts during the Aceh tsunamis crisis. To ordinary folks like us, this is just simple common sense that only the most idiot of fools wouldn’t know. What this illustrates is a gulf in perception between the elites and the rest of us. What is common sense to ordinary folks becomes extraordinary wisdom to the elites. It is perhaps this kind of perceptual difference that makes the elites believe they are a whole lot better than us and are therefore entitled to much more rewards.

MM Lee made similar statements recently. He said that the government is forward looking because it is now studying how to build walls around Singapore to prevent it from being submerged under sea when the polar ice caps melt due to global warming. I find this statement quite disagreeable for the following reasons:

1. Scientists have been warning us about global warming for three decades now. To respond three decades later when everyone else is also taking heed of the issue isn’t quite as forward looking as one would expect.

2. Forward looking means being able to see into the future what others cannot see. So what is so forward looking about acting on knowledge that everyone is already aware of?

3. If the government were truly forward looking, they might have forseen the last round of spike in oil prices and built underground storage tanks in anticipation. But they only decided to built the tanks after persistent worldwide price hikes. If they had been truly forward looking, they might have anticipated such innocuous issues as sand supply and not frantically react with plans on sustainable construction.


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