PM says sorry

I refer to the 4 May 2011 Straits Times report “PM says sorry”.

The PM requested that we bear with them while they try their best to fix the problems that vex, disturb or upset our lives. If the government has been doing that right from the start, the people wouldn’t have been so angry. Instead, the government kept giving excuses to explain the problems away. That is what vexes, their denials rather than their inaptitude.

What is the point of the PM apologising on the one hand when Mr Mah continues to deny those problems on the other hand? The 6 May 2011 Straits Times report “NSP’s ideas naive, superficial, populist: Mah” gives the impression that the government did no wrong. If Mr Mah continues to think that the government did no wrong, the PM’s apology becomes meaningless. It’s like the father saying sorry for the naughty boy’s behaviour while the naughty boy continues to be indignant and haughty.

The PM explained that after the sudden downturn in (late) 2008, the government didn’t expect the economy to rebound so quickly in mid-2009. But that can only explain why the government didn’t do anything from late 2008 onwards. It doesn’t explain why the government did nothing from early 2007 to late 2008. If we look at the HDB resale price index, prices started to climb as early as the second quarter of 2007. Why didn’t the government do anything from early 2007 to late 2008 when prices climbed rapidly? Since prices started to climb way before the onset of the downturn, the downturn cannot be the reason why the government did nothing. The PM is not totally upfront in his apology and is merely explaining things away.

The PM said that overall, the government has been more right than wrong, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are today. But where we are today is the result of what our forefathers have done for us, including those from the colonial era. We can’t be appraising this government on the basis of past governments. That is like asking UOB shareholders to appraise Mr Wee Ee Cheong on the basis of his father Mr Wee Cho Yaw’s work.

The PM said that we need to seize opportunities like we did when we embraced the casinos. But the casinos’ contribution is small compared to our GDP. Even the entire tourism industry is not very big compared to our GDP. In his election speech, SDP candidate Mr Alec Tok said that 80% of the gamblers are actually Singaporeans. We can’t confirm this because the government wouldn’t tell us. If most of the gamblers are Singaporeans, we are in trouble. Gambling never creates wealth; it only transfers wealth from the losers to the winners. So if the bulk of the casino takings come from Singaporean pockets, we are not creating wealth, just transferring wealth from Singaporeans to the casinos.

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