Reply to TR Emeritus post “My sister rapped me”

I refer to the 24 Sept 2015 TR Emeritus post “My sister rapped me” by Mr Patrick.

The 1.5 km covered walkway, community club, library, karaoke lounge and swimming pool are all built using public funds. Any political party that runs the government, not just the PAP, will have access to these public funds to construct these facilities and amenities. So there’s no reason why Sylvia Lim can’t build these amenities if she ever is in charge. In fact, it is the HDB, URA or the Ministry of Community Development, not the PAP that plans and builds these public amenities for the whole country and whose good work should continue regardless of which political party is in charge.

Every ministry is headed by a permanent secretary who should be of such high calibre that he does not need a minister to tell him what to do. The minister’s role is essentially not so much of a technocrat but that of a citizen elected representative who ensures that the ministry works for the interests of the people. Many ministers like Mr Tharman were former civil servants who would have performed just as effectively in a permanent secretary role.

We shouldn’t fault Ms Lim’s abilities simply because she failed to make eye contact. Not everyone who makes good eye contact will turn out to be true and honest. Similarly, we should appreciate that Chen Show Mao’s abilities are severely underutilized in an estate management role when he should be wheeling and dealing at the international level. There is no reason why 28 WP MPs would lead the country into trouble when there are more than 28 PAP MPs who contributes nothing, sleeps through or regularly absents themselves from parliament.

We may detest those who scold the government but we should not forget that it was through their scolding that the Pioneer Package finally arrived after 50 years. Instead of faulting Jeyaratnam’s poor public speaking skills, we should take it upon ourselves to understand the words of wisdom he has taken the trouble to pen down. They are wise words you won’t hear from PAP or read in mainstream media.

Singaporeans like Mr Patrick’s sister should stop their obsession with comparing ourselves with our poorer neighbours because such comparisons are essentially misplaced because:

• Singapore was already the richest in Southeast Asia since colonial days. We had the third highest per capita GDP in the whole of Asia (Penn World Tables) back in 1965. We didn’t prevail over our neighbours only after independence, we have been prevailing over our neighbours since colonial times but this fact has largely been forgotten after 50 years of PAP indoctrination. The King of Siam wouldn’t have sent his sons to Singapore to study if we weren’t already superior to Thailand during colonial days.

• Culturally, Singapore is not so much Southeast Asian but East Asian instead. That is why economists have always grouped us together with Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea as one of Four East Asian tiger economies. We are never known as a Southeast Asian tiger economy. Israel is never compared with its Middle Eastern neighbours because it is understood that the Israeli society is essentially a Western one, not a Middle Eastern one. Similarly, Singapore should not be compared with our Southeast Asian neighbours because Singaporean society is essentially East Asian, not Southeast Asian.

• Singapore’s smallness allows us to prosper more quickly. The larger size of our Southeast Asian neighbours makes it more difficult for them to prosper quickly. What most people don’t realise is that the percentage of small nations that are prosperous is about twice that of large nations.

It is therefore more meaningful to compare ourselves with Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea than with Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. If we do that, we find ourselves not so out of the ordinary in terms of economy, law and order.

Patrick’s sister would most likely not appreciate these and would insist on comparing ourselves with Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia without realising that smallness is an advantage not a liability. Even if she chooses to do that, she should take note that our neighbours have progressed well and are no longer Third World countries. Thailand and Malaysia are now Upper Middle Income nations while Indonesia is now Lower Middle Income. It is also worth nothing that Indonesia’s homicide rate of 0.6 is amongst the lowest in the world (ours is 0.2). Does Patrick’s sister know it is cheaper to replace a stolen car in JB than to extend a Singapore car’s life for 10 years?

Patrick’s sister should ask herself how come she had to wait 50 years before she could finally get her teeth cleaned for free while Westerners have been enjoying this all along. Would she realise that without those pesky protestors whom she frowns on, it might have taken another 50 years before Singaporeans can enjoy such benefits?

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