Archive for February, 2016

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.