Archive for August, 2008

Let’s learn from Canada

August 24, 2008

I refer to the letter by Mr Cheong Wing Lee ( Straits Times forum, 23 Aug 2008 ).

Mr Cheong feels sad that fellow Singaporeans reacted strongly to our women’s table tennis silver medal. It is equally sad to see Mr Cheong so intolerant of alternative viewpoints and trying to shove his views down the throat of his fellow Singaporeans. He even resorted to branding his fellow countrymen as bigots, Ku Kux Klan and bumiputras. Is Mr Cheong fair in making those comparisons? The whites and the blacks have co-existed for more than a century. The non bumiputra forefathers came to Malaysia a hundred, fifty years ago too. What about our table tennis players? The last one came just last year …

Mr Cheong makes use of history to teach us the evils of bigotry and racism. He should re-learn his history and make sure he applies it correctly to situations today.

If it is as simple as “a Singaporean is a Singaporean period”, then we wouldn’t have all these issues would we? It is obviously not that simple. Let’s say Mr Cheong’s father passed away and his mother decided to remarry the next day. Will Mr Cheong accept and embrace his new father straight away as family? Would he say “family is family period”?

So it does matter whether citizenship was granted yesterday or twenty years ago. Because it is only through time that relationships are cemented. Do you think the day Mr Cheong marries his wife is the day he loves her most? I think his love for his wife would grow over the years and not turn on and off suddenly like the flip of a switch. Suppose Mr Cheong divorces his wife. He automatically cuts his feelings for his wife? Is he a robot or what?

Mr Cheong gives the example of Ms Clarkson who was a refugee from China who has now become the equivalent of president in Canada. I don’t suppose Ms Clarkson swam to Canada yesterday did she?

Yes the first gold medal for Canada in this Olympics came from a Vietnamese refugee. But ask all Canadians. Is she the most well loved athlete in Canada?

Mr Cheong also refers to Jujie Luan who does not hide the fact that she still feels for China, her country of birth and that the Canadian people accepts this. If that’s the case, then there is no nationalistic pride to talk about is there? That being the case, why are we shouting so loud for our table tennis win?

Likewise, Mr Ujjal Singh Dosanjh, Mr Jim Chu, Mr Alan Lowe, Mr David Lam didn’t just swim over to Canada yesterday did they?

And so as the list goes on, can Mr Cheong zoom in on that one person who have become a household name after landing in Canada yesterday?

I think Mr Cheong may have been mistaken about the attitudes of his fellow countrymen. They do not resent these foreign talents. They only do not feel that Singapore has succeeded. These are two very different attitudes that are miles apart.

I would be very suspicious that there is no class or racial segregation in Canada as that is what we hear most of Western democracies.

If a Canadian is a Canadian regardless of length of stay, then I can study in Canada for two years and call myself a Canadian? Surely you must be joking Mr Cheong?

So the point here is not that Singaporeans should learn from Canada. Singaporeans should learn not to be confused about nationalistic sentiments and end up accusing his fellow countrymen of something they are not guilty of.

Neither we nor Mr Cheong can show sportsmanship because we didn’t even compete. But do we show gratitude? That will depend on how soon you can sincerely call the new husband of your mother, father. And for those who can’t do it instantaneously or robotically like Mr Cheong, let us not brand him and call him party pooper. Whether or not this is an occasion to celebrate varies from people to people. Don’t force the rest of us to celebrate when we do not share your faith or religion.

Why they switch loyalties

August 23, 2008

I refer to the commentary by Sumana Rajarethnam (Today, 12 Aug 2008). Mr Rajarethnam finds it hard to imagine that a Chinese athlete would don a Korean jersey. Dang Yeo Seo is in fact one such person who performed fairly well in this Olympics.

Mr Rajarethnam has also shown us why we should be more understanding of atheletes who have a variety of good reasons not to compete for their country of origin. Zola Budd would not have been able to compete had she not switched nationalities. Yes, we emphatise and we understand. But should we therefore feel proud of her if we were British? Why should we? She was British for merely a few months when she competed for Britain in the Olympics. Why should anyone who instantly becomes a citizen, instantly deserve the adulation of his or her new countrymen or women?

Adulation is something you cannot command or will. A hero is a hero simply because of who he is in the eyes of his worshippers. If people see him as a hero, you can’t change that. If people don’t see him as a hero, you can’t change that too.

What about the atheletes bought by oil rich Gulf states? Yes, medals were bought. But do we buy their loyalties? When they are competing hard to win those medals, how do you know if deep inside, they are competing more for themselves or for their newly adopted country? What about the footballer Agu we bought? He took the money and left. You get what you pay for – mercenaries.

I understand and accept that you can’t go against the tide of mercenary athletes. But I cannot understand why anyone should be made to look upon them as heroes.

Don’t sniff at our educational system

August 16, 2008

I refer to the interview with Kishore Mahbubani (Straits Times 15 Aug 2008). Mahbubani says that Singaporeans are shunning NUS and going abroad for their university education instead because they only see flaws with NUS. This he argues is the product of the ‘colonised mindset’ and that the best is not just out there but can be right here in Singapore as well.

The problem is, the Public Service Commmission and the government it represents also shares the same mindset. They send our best students overseas. So is the PSC and the government a product of the ‘colonised mindset’ too?

Why let losers share podium

August 16, 2008

I refer to the commentary by Paul Jacobs (Straits Times, 16 Aug 2008). His analogy of letting losers share the podium to describe the government’s intention of letting more opposition voices into the parliament is entirely inappropriate as it doesn’t reflect the real situation we are in now. Our situation now is that whenever Michael Phelps wins a gold medal, he invites Loche and five other team mates to share in his podium limelight. That is the mockery of the system we have now so if there is any mockery Paul wants to avoid, it is this one that we have now.

On political diversity

August 16, 2008

I refer to the letter of reply from Ho Peng Kee published in the Straits Times forum (16 Aug 2008). Before Ho Peng Kee can say that “what the country should do is ultimately decided through the ballot”, he must first say that the ballot should be free from manipulation and each person being voted in has truly contested and won through his or her own merits. If this fundamental basis of the ballot is not observed, then the ballot is no longer fair, and Ho Peng Kee and his government has failed Singapore and his citizens by making a mockery of democracy.

As for having delivered a better life for all citizens, I’m not sure if it is the other way round instead, that the citizens have delivered a better life, millions better for Ho Peng Kee and his million dollar minister colleagues instead.

Important to have Div I team in Government

August 14, 2008

I refer to Lee Kuan Yew’s comments that were published in the Straits Times (14 Aug 2008). Once again, Lee Kuan Yew tries to spread the falsehood that anything but their government would be of division 3 calibre and that in three, four years the whole economy would be finished. Didn’t he also blame Chen Shui Bian’s government for bringing down the Taiwan economy? Chen Shui Bian ruled for eight years. Is Taiwan’s economy finished? Is Taiwan facing job losses more than us? Obviously not.

And is falling property prices bad like LKY painted it to be? Is he saying that rising property prices is good? If property prices continue to rise like they are now, sooner or later HDB flats will become so expensive that even an entire lifetime of working won’t be enough to pay for it.

He sprouted nonsense like us not having any oil, gas or palm oil. Does Hong Kong have those? Does Korea have those? Those Taiwan have those? Yet all three countries have prosperity as well as freedom!

He demonised other countries’ money politics. But what about our own multi-million dollar salary ministers? If this is not money politics what is it?

So what if our government is ‘above board’. What is the difference between taking money above board and taking money under board? Still taking money isn’t it?

What bloody renewal is he talking about when he is still around after all these years?

What do you mean match rising standards of population? More like rising prices of homes, food, petrol, ERP, transport and everything.

He labels those who calls for more opposition as simple and who didn’t understand. Of course is not so simple. You need to get rid of the old man first and that is the most difficult of them all.

Corruption is a matter of definition, like whether you take money above board or under board. But yet the country is not finished. Why? Because it is the people like you and me who carries the country on our shoulders. It is we ourselves that we have to trust, not the PAP.