Friday, December 13, 2013

Isolated incident again? Connecting the isolated incidents.



As the year 2013 draws closer to 2014, Little India rioted. Coincidentally, it has been two consecutive year ends where unprecedented events have shocked our little island. Both events are regarded as isolated incidents.

Just a year ago, approximately this time round of the year, Michael Palmer stained the whiter-than-white records of the PAP’s with his extra-marital affair. That was the only affair that surfaced and thus could be safely tucked away as an “isolated” case.

One year later, Little India rioted. LHL promptly declared this latest unfortunate event an isolated incident. An isolated incident…again! There has been an excessive use of the phrase “isolated incidents” of late.

The 2010 unprecedented Orchard flood started off as an isolated incident, as proclaimed by a certain minister, eventually led to a series of isolated floods beyond the traditional flood-prone locations. And even Orchard itself witnessed a second “isolated” flood at the same location. A section of AYE has to be closed off this year. Do these series of isolated flooding not connect to a bigger picture of excessive urbanization?

And unfortunately for LHL, this latest round of social disruption at Little India triggers my memory of the strike staged by the Chinese nationals. And we are now witnessing another social disruption/collective challenge to authorities, at a larger scale, exhibited again by another group of foreign workers. It is not about the issue of foreign workers causing social disruptions, but whether our authorities are seriously tackling the impacts brought about by a huge proportion of foreigners, workers or talents alike.

Beyond that veneer layer of the fatal road accident that sparked the riot is a striking similarity between the riot and the strike, involving the welfare of low-wage foreign workers. Exploitation or unfair treatment, compounded by lack of GENUINE avenues and protection to improve their situations, leads to eventual pent up frustration and injustice that are just waiting to erupt.

Therefore, these two “isolated” cases are not as “isolated” as what our political leaders would dictate us to believe.

In fact, the year 2013 alone saw many other unprecedented or “isolated” events that took place on our island. Hacking govt websites and data theft from StandChart. Flying SMRT bus that overturned and killed one out of the two passengers on board; noticeably increasing new forms of crime committed by foreign nationals, adding on to our own local crime, such as Caucasians physically assaulting taxi drivers/security guards. Fires erupted at our MRT stations. Health-wise, new form of disease such as chikungunya is achieving record high. Dengue fever outbreak reached record high this year too. TB is definitely returning. And even annual/frequent environmental disruptions such as haze and floods involved unprecedented scale--our haze has breached PSI record high and frequent flooding has caused an unprecedented closure of a section of AYE this year. Even sinkholes start to appear on our island.

Far too many isolated incidents in recent years. Even if we try to isolate each and every unfortunate incident as our political leaders would frame, it will be very difficult not to see that the connections among many of these isolated incidents.

Many of these isolated incidents that occurred across different domains of our society do connect to construct a bigger picture of the impacts resulting from our population expansion policy.

Riots/strike and hacking of govt websites seem unrelated at the first glance, but these isolated incidents indicate two groups of unhappy people on our island, foreign and local alike, and whose voices are suppressed. Their source of unhappiness may differ but their unhappiness stems from the same policy of mindless population expansion. For the foreign workers, their unhappiness is caused by unreasonable wages and working conditions and the lack of proper protection from our authorities; the hackers represent a group of local citizens unhappy with living issues that result from the population expansion policy. Growing population demands more infrastructure and constructions that in turn creates the ever increasing reliance on large numbers of foreign workers who contribute to the size of our population and whose presence is the result of the same population expansion policy. Singaporeans did not create that demand for more infrastructure and construction. It is the need for a greater population that creates the demand. And that “need” is bulldozed through by our political leaders despite having “channels” of discussions/conversations with the people.

Other isolated incidents such persistent flooding, health problems, public transport woes, public safety and living costs that spread across all domains of our society are the ill-effects of excessive urbanization and over-crowdedness,  which are the by-products of population expansion policy.

Paper calculation of the economic benefits derived from a growing population is straightforward. But whether the calculation conducted by our premium leaders includes tackling the physical, social, psychological and emotional needs of a human, the isolated incidents simply expose their lack of preparedness. We can see that constructions of more infrastructure and residential units are driving at full steam to welcome the future human imports, but as can be seen from the eruption of the range of isolated incidents, it is an overly-simplistic approach to a population expansion policy as it entirely overlooks the psychological welfare of the people. To think that infrastructure and buildings alone assure quality of life when humans are subject to shrinking public space and resources is irresponsible. It dehumanizes the people living within. A human needs goes beyond being housed and transported by modern trains, if we still regard this country as a first world country.

Did it for once occur to our premium leaders that Singapore Journey Citizenship does not guarantee an automated integration of foreigners to our society? It is naïve to think so, if it took us three generations of political, economic and social influence to integrate our four ethnic groups and yet, our racial harmony appears so vulnerable that Amy Cheong’s single rant on Malay wedding terrified the authorities and ministers to the extent that she was sent packing. Our racial harmony appears superficial to our political leaders and yet, the same group of people are adamant to import people from a huge diversity of cultures and nationalities, complicating the already flimsy racial harmony of ours, and further enlarging the holes in our social fabric. 

And whether our social services and law enforcement are sufficient to support the growing population, the complexity of our new demographics and the increasingly strained public safety, it is still to be seen. Looking at current range of isolated incidents, it is not optimistic.

As seen of the range, scale and frequency of these isolated incidents, it is as plain as day that there is a complete lack of foresight of forestalling the social issues arising from artificially growing our population. Behind that picture of population expansion painted by the isolated incidents, another frightening picture beneath that is the complete incompetency of our leadership. Our political leaders either failed terribly in managing the social impacts of their population expansion policy which they wanted to sell to us, or they are simply disinterested in the welfare of our people.

This picture is far more terrifying than the population expansion policy itself. The inability to effectively resolve population-related issues will compound the “little discomforts” of shrinking public space for the people. And to further rub chilli into our already deep wounds, the benefits of population expansion will be creamed off for our premium leaders and a few groups of people, leaving the average people to pick up the tabs.  


Sunday, November 24, 2013

The concrete lava to feed our 6.9 or 10 million more human masses




Now you can still see these fields......



 







 And soon, you may not. As they may be converted into these…..


these…..





 

and these…….
 


 





The fields are fast-becoming an oasis in this concrete jungle of ours. Fields which I have paid so little attention to in the last decade, almost non-existent like so many other things around me, that immediately spring into meaningful existence the moment I lost them or am going to lose them.

Seconds are ticking. These green spaces which live with us unnoticeably, may very soon succumb to the irresistible monetary yields of property development.

“The fields and copses are in retreat; the concrete is spreading like slow lava.”

An apt observation from Daniel Hannan, a MEP of South East England with reference to the impact of UK’s unchecked immigration on UK’s [Here] physical landscape, could be applied to Singapore’s context with little difference, except for the speed of the spread of the concrete lava. Ours is devouring our once valuable green spaces like a bush fire. In replacement are blocks of concrete building that bring along even more carbon dioxide and heat emission.

We prided ourselves once as the garden city, way before the birth of the new gadget Garden by the Bay. Not so much about the abundance of individual parks and gardens but that the idea of the entire island being the garden itself. Trees form an indispensable part in our living quarters. We have avenues of trees on our roads and estates, which can be a luxury in many urban centres, and there is the availability of green spaces intertwining residential areas.

These days, the number of concrete blocks is seriously set to overtake the number of trees that we have although I would have no statistics to prove this. The green spaces which I used to be indifferent to and as well as this garden city of ours, have to make way for the newly-tinted Singaporeans and foreigners seeking greener pastures over here. At the expense of our very own green pastures which are dwindling at an alarming speed.

Somebody is pawning our green spaces.  

The Rainfall and the Heat

So Vivian, climate change is not the sole culprit for our ponding, flash floods, floods or whatever innovative terms used to describe the situation of large amount of water that obstructs our way of passage for a prolonged period of time. If only you would behold the number of buildings produced in the last decade alone and the imminent ones listed in our “Draft” Master Plan. Simultaneously, new underground MRT lines are constructed, emptying our grounds underneath.

When buildings devour the green space where rain water could drain, we will be in turn devoured by our tropical rainfalls/storms.

It is a cause and effect. Humans are part of the environment. And I am not a scientist nor a doctor.

The reality of disappearing green spaces is compounded by the amount of CO2 produced from the constructions itself and post-construction human activities. We know what CO2 will bring. Inevitably, we contribute towards the increasing temperature with increasing CO2 emissions.

Concrete buildings are also adding weight to our island. We are looking at tons and tons of concrete buildings that we have generated and will eventually generate in a span of two decades.

A Stressed-Out Island
Someone is stretching our little island both overground and underground with excessive constructions of buildings and digging of tunnels.

Our island is sinking literally and gradually with the amount of weight that is piled onto it. The sea level is already rising, with or without our island sinking.

Not only our people are stressed out, our poor island too.

And all pursued under the name of Singapore inc.

There is no master plan as to when this lunacy of unrestrained constructions will slow down, if ever.

So, appreciate our remaining green spaces while the sun shines.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

快乐的霸道

追求快乐的确是每个人的权力。

那却不是迫使你身边的人都必须因为这样的权力而必须快乐的理直气壮。大家的快乐,并不是对你快乐的权力所必须承担的责任。更不是一种必然。

我知道生活的忙碌、时间的稀少,所以朋友相聚的时光必须珍惜。然而,朋友相聚的时光,并不是一个纯粹为了制造欢乐时光的活动。熟悉的言语、温度、生活的杂事;陌生的言语、新的温度、突兀的念头;快乐的、感伤的、沉重的、轻松的、愉悦的、震撼的、惋惜的,在这个相聚的空间里,应该被允许。唯有这样,才是朋友。

自然地,大家都会贪婪于欢声笑语,那样的一身轻,谁不想?可惜,真实的生活真的真的未必如此。朋友更不是用来制造快乐/欢乐的工具。所以,朋友相聚的时光,并不是为了你快乐的权力而产生的。于是,席间的人都务必上演百分百快乐的戏码;严肃/不快乐的课题遭严禁、愤慨的情绪应该被制止、面红耳赤地争辩/抬杠等动作应该被遏止……以此成全你对快乐的追求?

朋友,你得到快乐,我会为你而高兴。与此同时,朋友的沉重,我也同样想拥有。那才是朋友的全部。

我知道,生活中悲苦无奈的事很多。想要把这些负面情感减到最低、把它们的负面影响缩到最小,也自然不过。然而,朋友相聚的时光,真的,不一定,都必须是欢声笑语充塞的场合。

是的,追求快乐是每个人与生俱来的本能。却不能把朋友的相聚时刻,成了对你的快乐的一种责任。 

那样的对快乐的要求,是一种变相的霸道。

Thursday, November 07, 2013

我们是谁



曾贵为一国总统,却自以为是地否定狮城子民至今已形成属于自己的共同身份。经过了三代人、近50年的建国历程,狮城岛国最早的海外移民,原来,还无法建立自己的身份。

仿佛狮城岛民什么都不能是,或者说,任何海外人士都能即刻成为狮城子民。我们的破英语、烂母语……既不东又不西,也曾就此以为我们什么都不能是。 

然而,当英国唐人街似曾相似的中式食品安慰不了味蕾的南洋思乡情、当英国人酷爱的印度咖哩炮制不出狮城咖哩的风采时,你不得不承认,狮城移民的祖国母体文化已经演化了。我那来自唐山的外婆在世时,爱喝的并不是中国茶,而是kopi

狮城的饮食文化,体现的是共同的社会、政治和经济环境下,各族移民的融合、延伸。思想、言行举止、价值观也必定在共同的环境下进行了磨合以及演变。文化、种族、语言、宗教的差异存在。但联系着大家的就是那共同的生长环境。共同身份也在产生、演进。

身份这一种区分你我差别的理念,你说有就有,没有也就不存在。然而,身在外地时,还是无法不承认自己不是中国人,不是台湾人,不是香港人,更不是英国人的事实。

语言特色、国民服役、饮食文化、集体怕输的行为等,都无法完全代表狮城岛民的身份。身分这概念抽象,难凭几个标准来限定,也没有一套标准能作代表。

它可有,也可无。只要岛民觉得自己跟其他民族不同,那身份就存在。有些人需要,有些则不。不需要身份的人,无法否定对其他人而言,身份具体存在的事实。

有些人的眼里只看到钞票的具体颜色,自然看到不到抽象的概念存在。所以,共同身份这东西,也就自然看不见。

Monday, October 14, 2013

抹黑个人主义



  孩童、工人、单身人士、宗教人士、单亲妇女、年长者、残障人士、失聪人士、贫困者、富裕者……综合起来,聚成了一个社会。

多年前,在英国见证了一家给顾客提供多款手推车的超级市场,让我眼前亮了起来。有七款之多。兼顾到了携带幼童的购物者,甚至是轮椅使用者以及残障幼婴的需要。因为意识,所以看见了不同群体的购物需要。这样的超市,说真的,在英国并不普遍。

这却让自己对既定的个人主义有了新的诠释。

习惯性地把群体利益与个人利益定位在敌对的位置上,将“个人主义”斥为自私的思想,必定危害群体利益。然而,群体本就来自个人。失聪人士的需要,为何被视为危害群体的利益?个人与群体的利益肯定有相通的地方,例如对良好治安、公正司法、便捷的交通、良好的住屋、优质的医药服务等的追求。

英国社会下不同的群体,政策上看得见、民间团体也看得见。让我意识到“个人”的存在。残障人士的需要、被逼婚少女的安危、穷困孩童的支助、单亲妈妈的需要、军人和军人遗孀的需要、钟点工人的权利、年长者的照顾……这些“个人”的需要,并不是过分的自私,而是生存的需要。这类的需要,也符合群体利益。因为他们也是群体的一部分。

小红点的群体利益说教,有时候,如同单一色的白布,把底下的个体全隐藏起来。一旦逾越白布的界线,就被抹黑为不顾大众利益的罪名。

以划一的政策来强迫群体中的每一个人接受,也可能是变相地牺牲群体底下每个人的个人利益。

工人的利益让位给群体利益;不谙英语的年长者让位给群体利益;残障人士、老去的人的利益也让位给群体;失婚人士、有才华的人、非大专文凭者、病弱者也如此。

究竟,这个群体是谁?是国家吗?不能让人民幸福的国家会是群体的利益吗?把群体利益建筑在个人的牺牲上,最终的群体会快乐吗?

或许,“群体利益”的利益并不存在于群体本身。那个群体,有时根本不存在。“群体”很可能只为方便实行政策的一种名堂而已。

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leaders of negativity



“Leadership must begin with commitment; with conviction. This, in the end, is what I think leadership is about. You should be able to fulfill the need of the people who are willing to be led by you. They are willing to be led by you because you fulfil their need for hope, their need to believe in themselves. If you cannot make those people you are trying to lead believe in themselves, you cannot really be a leader.” ---- Aung San Suu Kyi.  [Link]

On the contrary, our “leaders” derive utmost pleasure from running down their people and the country, specifically the country before PAP took over. Remember, Singapore was still a small fishing village before PAP came to our salvation.  

They have a range of infamous vocabulary for us, such as “daft”, “lesser mortals”, “quitters”, “poor”, “ungrateful” and “xenophobic”.

They must have the hardest time in governing this hopeless island and therefore the justification of the size of their salaries which is still astronomically high even after the pay review.

Our land size, our population and our lack of natural resources are all perceived negatively and selectively and persistently ingrained into us.

It makes one wonder why would the British set their eyes on this island based on the forlorn description painted by PAP. Singapore eventually became the crown colony. And yes, we know that the British were not looking for tin ores or oil fields but a strategic harbour for their trade. They saw beyond the size, population and the natural resources to appreciate what Singapore has.

The Arabs may have the oil but they do not lead the world. India and China may be populous but that could also be a disadvantage for now. It is just not about what we do not have but what we have. And even what we do not have may also be an advantage if we look at it POSITIVELY. It is about working around the constraints, staying focused on our goals and overcoming challenges. More importantly, it is also about the kind of leadership exhibited.

But PAP conveniently forgets to share with us the advantages of our land size and population in the planning and building of infrastructure for a young country; the added advantage of exerting easy control over the population. Having a small population size also reduces the pressure of creating sufficient jobs. Look, our political leaders were desperate enough to bring two casinos onto our shores to create jobs opportunities, implying the challenges of job creations that they face.

Someone just dispelled the myth that our land-scarce island is ill-suited for agricultural. A vertical farming was created with cutting edge technology right on our island. [Link] At an individual level. It goes to show that with the right conviction and determination, even at individual level, one can achieve the near-impossible.

We are repeatedly handed “death sentences” by our leaders, about our inability to be anything worthwhile. We cannot be the price setters for wages, we cannot enjoy cheap public housing (yet, we can afford tens of golf courses), cannot do without foreign investors and foreigners, cannot groom our own sports talents, cannot do without huge GDP growth, cannot grow jobs without the presence of casinos.

And the worst thing that we cannot do is that we cannot do without PAP. If it is really so, then that would the biggest failure of PAP’s 48 years of governance of failing to establish a strong social, economic and political systems that are independent of political entities.

We understand too well about how PAP enjoys playing their cards with our “weaknesses” as a means to inflate their “successful” leadership. To prove that PAP has the right talent to transform worthless rocks into gold wherever they lay their fingers on. That is the way to which they legitimate their monopoly on local politics.


“So that, simply, to me, is the mindset of leadership; the determination to serve, not to lead. And it’s a determination and commitment to serve that decides who is a real leader, not the desire to be a leader itself.” ----Aung San Suu Kyi.    [Link]      

Two female politicians and an unGraceFu one



 (Photo source: Asiaone )

A photo speaks a thousand words in this case.

Two female politicians standing next to each other. It just struck me that there is never a bigger contrast to see these two women in the photo.

One of the women in the photo once moaned about her “sacrifices” during the period of ministerial salary review, expressing displeasure of being subject to pay cut due to voters’ pressure. [Link] Excruciating sacrifices include the loss of privacy for herself and family, to subject herself and her family to the public scrutiny, the loss of her own personal time and the drop of living standard for her family. There lingers a huge sense of self-entitlement for this woman being a politician in a country where political remuneration is the highest in this universe.

The other woman politician too had her sacrifices all too familiar to the world. She was compelled to forsake her husband, her two young children and personal freedom in order to pursue the democratic path for her people. But she perceived her “sacrifices” more of a choice than a sacrifice.

“If you choose to do something, then you shouldn’t say it’s a sacrifice, because nobody forced to you do it.” ---- Aung San Suu Kyi.

For one who is calculative of her losses and gains, the word “sacrifice” became a loose word. Conscious of personal “sacrifices” and therefore conscious of the returns in exchange. For those who intend to give, the thought of “sacrifice” and returns are both non-existent.

When these two women stood next to each other, they contrasted each other like day and night. It is remarkably to see these two beings, one who glitters like a diamond in the night while the other shuts the daylight out of your day.

Happy for Myanmar, sad for Singapore



And we went as far as flaunting our expensive and new-found toy F1 to none other person than Aung San Suu Kyi. We acted like some children who have yet reached their full intelligence to grasp the meaning of life and sufferings, eager to show off our newly-prized possession to implicitly shame those who have no possession of it.

We have taken our devotion to material goods a yard too far.

“I want to learn a lot from the standards that Singapore has been able to achieve but I wonder whether we want something more for our country.”----Aung San Suu Kyi. [Link]

And Aung San Suu Kyi simply pricked the bubble of our materialistic minds, exposing our emptiness beyond that magnificent façade which we built our self-esteem on and from which defines our success. LHL must have found it hard to understand her when Singapore has already so much more of GDP and infrastructure and wealth than Myanmar, what else could Aung San Suu Kyi be asking for?

The one thing that LHL is tenaciously proud of is the same thing which Aung San Suu Kyi has chosen to shun. And for someone who trumpets about his own success of building a one and only Marina Bay in the world, his understanding of success for a country is narrowly and shallowly focused on economic-digits and hardware. There is no meaningful understanding beyond numbers and hardware.

“….there is only one Marina Bay in the world.”----LHL 

And here lies the difference between a nondescript being and a leader. Here is a leader whose vision for her country that is not circumscribed by the tangibles but beyond.  

Aung San Suu Kyi did not specify what she meant by “more”. Definitely not a reference to F1, Marina Bay, Garden by the Bay, the casinos or expensive shopping malls. More likely to be looking towards the human spirit that is unfortunately not even worth a cent in economic terms. And therefore is beyond LHL’s understanding.

GDP is not an evil by itself. It is needed, provided that it triggers to all strata of the society that contributes to the figure, to ensure a basic standard and quality of living for the people of a country. Nevertheless, it should not be pursued to the extent of reducing quality of life for the majority of the people in the process. And GDP alone does not define the spirit and the soul of a nation.

I may not guess what exactly Aung San Suu Kyi wants for her country. But it should be closer to the heart and further from the pockets.

It is easier to build a house than a home. Doubtless to say that LKY has successfully built a dazzling-looking house. But it is a house, and not exclusively meant for his people who have built it with him.

Aung San Suu Kyi is thoughtful and looks far ahead for her country whilst LHL is still fanatically collecting all models of the LV bags and through the adornments of these bags to shout to the whole world out there about his prominence and success.

A sense of sadness simply overwhelmed me at the thought of LHL.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The defeatist mindset of our leaders



Imagine that you are leading your men to an imminent battle. And all you can do is to pick on your men’s weaknesses and coerce them into believing that victory will never be won.

That doesn’t help at all in inspiring your men does it?

Instead of encouraging your men to rise up against the odds, you simply send them to perish fighting for your battle while you stand aloof to watch.

未战先败。Losing a battle without even fighting it.

A defeatist mindset is the worst trait that one can find in a leader, especially a political leader. One who unabashedly shies from challenges and unthinkingly compromises the welfare of his people for easy alternatives.

The result of a defeatist political leader is catastrophic for a nation like ours. One which is deeply-seeped in political influence in every aspect of our lives—well beyond political spectrum. Where “values” of filial piety can be dictated through laws and “anti-family” behaviour of the unmarried individuals could be rectified through public housing policy. Even personal matters such as to what languages to speak and what we should put into our mouth could be decided politically.



Ever ready to surrender on all fronts

“There is no way in which you are going to be able to protect either Singaporeans or Singapore because we are a small country.”

- DPM Tony Tan, 1998 [Link]


How resolute do you think a leader is in fighting for his people when he already hands out a death sentence to them? When the death sentence is merely a subjective judgement of his.

The fact that we are a small country needs not be interpreted as a disadvantage. It could be an advantage by itself. Additionally, and more importantly, being a small country should not be the indicator of resigning ourselves readily to whatever fate the currents of globalization should bring. Neither should that deprive us the liberty to prioritize our own values and goals. With certainty, our size is neither a determinant to the amount of courage for our leaders to take on challenges.


“We don’t set prices. We are a price-taker, not a price-setter,”

- DPM Tony Tan, 1998 [Link]


Our political leaders readily surrender our people to external and internal unfavourable circumstances in which they claim that both are beyond their control.

Blame it on the globalization, they said instead. And shirking their responsibilities to our domestic inflation, hot property prices, soaring healthcare costs or even our transport woes in the name of globalization.

On our wage costs, our leaders choose to stick in the third-world mentality of offering cheap labour as the only means of competitiveness. They place our workers who hail from a first-world living cost to work at a third-world wage price as the most convenient way out to enrich their economic pie.

Globalization may be a fact but given the talents of our political leaders and the purpose of formulating policies, we could do, really, is the decision, with the necessary determination, to minimize the impacts of globalization. We may be a small country but we are a sovereign country and therefore entitled to control the extent of “openness” of our country.

If we have allowed “globalization” to wrench our power from calibrating how “open” our economy is, does that not reveal the fact that our near 5 decade-old economy/nation that we have come to build is an unsustainable one? We have built an economy and a nation that we have no absolute control over against external economic influence? Yet, we have absolute maneuver over our internal political landscape.

The inconvenient reality is, the sky is the limit for the greed of our leaders who pursue economic growth at the expense of the masses and who reserve a larger portion of economic pie for smaller group of people like themselves.

Our vulnerabilities are not justification of surrendering our people without even a pretended attempt to fight for them. It should be the spur for us to explore ways to insulate ourselves from the volatile world.

But no, let’s surrender. It’s easier to do so. Said our leaders.

On fertility woes, aging population worries our political leaders to the extent of instant mass humans import. However, their inert response to the increasing needs of an aging population in the areas of affordable nursing homes and healthcare costs just bare their pretentious concern about the aging issue.  

Khaw Boon Wan took it a step further by urging Singaporeans to consider living in nursing homes in neighbouring JB. [Link] That will save him the hassle of addressing local healthcare issues.

LHL threw in MediShield Life through increased premiums to buffer us against healthcare costs, which is just a disguised way of getting us to pay more for our people without forking out a single cent from the deep pockets of the PAP-led government. [Link]

On transport, our private train and bus companies privatized profits but socialized the operating costs and their inefficiency costs. These companies are given the green light to do so.


“Not only would people have to pay more, nationalising the operators could result in a stagnation of service quality or efficiency over time”

- Lui Tuck Yew, Transport Minister, 2011. [Link]


A simplistic assumption about nationalization and a few illustrations of failed nationalized transport systems were cited to maintain status quo for our public transport system.

Our leaders oversimplify the failures of others, lacking an apparent courage to tread where others have failed; lacking the conviction and confidence to create our own path.

Yes, there are others who have failed due to reasons which we may not have fully grasped. Yet, our leaders recklessly determine our own fate based on the fates of others. No, our leaders say we can't succeed and therefore we will resolutely fail.


On the environmental issues, they are equally defeatist and hide themselves behind climate change. They are averse to challenges and reluctant to address the changes either brought about by climate changes or by our own swift pace of urbanization.


"You can't design for rainfall of this level, it is just too huge. The thing we can accept is that we can only design our canal of a certain size, and at the end of the day, we have to live with some of these occurrences which occur once in 50 years or so".

- Environment and Water Resources Minister, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim,2006.[Link]


It is not possible... to plan for every event. Thursday's weather... occurs once in 50 years. If we design for the largest rainfall or highest tide, then we are going to have huge canals in Singapore.'

-Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment and Water Resources Minister, 2009. [Link]


When VB took over NEA from his predecessor, he threw money at the installation of CCTV cameras to monitor flood situations. CCTV cameras do not alleviate flooding. It is another way of passing on the flood problems back to the people.


“Somethings are beyond (that); it’s an act of God unless you want to lose half the roads and have canals.”

-MM Lee Kuan Yew, 2010. [Link]


Spiritual forces were also roped in to justify the defeatist mindset. An irony considering the fact that the same person who resigned our floods to God is the same person who clinched and created every political opportunity, however slight the opportunity might be, in extinguishing Lim Chin Siong’s political life during the 60s to pave way for his own mighty dynasty. He persevered to achieve his goal and did not leave things to the will of God…then.


When haze descended, NEA and MOH were ill-prepared for crisis management. Our law minister came into the scene more promptly to defend our leaders’ helplessness than ensuring our access to N95 masks.


"If it was within our control we will never allow this to happen. My point to Singaporeans is we will continue to do our best, please understand the limitations of international relationships and foreign policy and the fact that every country is sovereign and we have limited control over what happens in Indonesia.”

- Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam, 2013. [Link]


He was quick to highlight that they are legally unable to change the situation for the better. Deliberately leading us to focus on what they cannot do.

We need no law minister to enlighten us on the fact that Indonesia is a sovereign country. Neither do we need leaders who could only persuade us into resigning our fate to any of our current unfortunate situations. We are in dire need of real leaders who could LEAD in crises.  

Instead, our premium leaders could only lead us to surrender to whatever problems that cross our paths while they remain 100% insulated in their ivory towers.


Selective determination

Being told that we are a small country with no natural resources and thus to resign ourselves to being a price-taker.

Unexpectedly, our size did not deter the political will to build up a strong and expensive defence. Contrarily, our size intensifies the determination of having a formidable defence force, leading to the search of possible alliances to expand our safety net for our little red dot.

On the issue of our defence, our political leaders refused the fate of a “price-taker”; they chose the more difficult option, to defend this tiny island with a dwindling local population. 

On other matters, they choose to give up. Bukit Brown is one. The possibility of engineering an underground tunnel to preserve our oldest cemetery is shot down quickly, yet they toy over the daunting idea of an underground city to cater for even more population growth when our flooding woes have yet receded; they gave up on Singaporeans and declare anyone foreign as talent; they endorse Singapore’s openness and subject Singaporeans to unlevel competition with foreigners, yet guarding meticulously at the doors of our political arena, quick to slam the door at any alternative political parties that may threaten PAP’s own survival. 

It is demonstrated of their selectiveness as to where to put forth their tenacious fighting spirit. Fighting spirit is strictly reserved for matters that concern their own survival.


Shirking responsibilities

The last thing we will want is to be caught in a tsunami situation with a leader who could only shift our attention to his broken record of what he CANNOT do instead of what he can do or at least try to do. Or hoping that in the process of monitoring the situation, the tsunamis would have a change of heart and target elsewhere.  The tsunamis is on the brink of sweeping us away, should we just abide by our leaders’ sacred words to accept our fate as there is nothing they could do?

Succumbing to the first sign of adversity is an act of an opportunist, not a leader. Yet, we are paying out-of-the-world salaries to these people whose only solution that they can offer in times of difficulties is their inertness.

We may not be necessarily guaranteed of success in whichever decision we make for ourselves, however, the least we could do is to give up a battle without even trying to fight.

We are not living in a perfect world void of problems. There are understandably problems and challenges. We do, however, expect political leaders who are entrusted with the task of leading our nation and people, to LEAD. To lead us in search of solutions, to err when necessary in the pursuit of the right path and to admit and address mistakes before moving on. Place the well-being of our people first before nation or themselves. 

The nation has to be built for the people and not the other way round. Else, it is just another hotel in disguise.

Let me remind myself that a third of our current Cabinet ministers hailed from the army. Our current Cabinet is led by someone from the army too. These people led their men in the armies; and they are supposedly to lead our people.

But if Singapore was to face an imminent threat of tsunamis now, how different do you think our current batch of leaders would say?

Somethings are beyond (that); it’s an act of God. It is not possible... to plan for every event, and at the end of the day, we have to live with some of these occurrences. We will continue to monitor the situation. Bear with it. Either you survive the tsunamis or you will perish.

The above was purely my conjecture.  



After all that is said about them being defeatist, it is the money-at-all-expense mentality that drives them to be what they are.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tanjong Pagar GRC productions



Don’t we love Tanjong Pagar GRC to death for the breed of ministers that it brought to us in its last two decades of uncontested record:

1991: Lim Hng Kiang, who is now our Minister for Trade and Industry

1997: Lim Swee Say, who is still a Minister with no portfolio

2001: Khaw Boon Wan, who is now our Minister for National Development

2006: Lui Tuck Yew, who is now our Minister for Transport

2011: Chan Chun Sing, who is now Minister for Social and Family Development

That total number of ministers who enter our political arena via Tanjong Pagar GRC alone accounts for about a third of our current Cabinet Ministers. Each election sees Tanjong Pagar GRC producing ONE ministerial material candidate who will eventually be promoted to a full minister.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

个人的死亡



死亡,是人生寻常的一件事。可以小我,也可以很大我。

对自小便误解西方的所谓个人主义,而自以为是地吹嘘群体主义的优越,并且不假思索地把个人主义与自私等同起来。事实未必如此。

英国有一种悼念椅。

这类郊外的休闲座椅,是当地人为了纪念逝世的亲友而捐赠的。在椅背上镶上牌匾,镶上留言、所纪念的人以及捐赠者的署名。

默默无闻的人离世,最多只能在亲属之间掀起涟漪。在公共领域里,不留痕迹。然而,把一个普通人的死亡,以悼念椅的具体方式,扩大到大众的范围里,让原本私有的、个人的伤痛变成了一种惠及他人的具体行为;把负面的情感伤痛转为正面、造福人群的积极能量。活着的人,以这样的方式,试图让逝世者“活”得更长久,也是活着的人变相的对逝世者的一种贪恋。

原来是属于个人的思念,不论是有意还是无意,化成了能让他人获益的实际举动,也因此让逝世与思念有了更实质的意义。

而假定群体至上为优越的狮城,某族群重视死亡仪式,不管生前、生后,都一番精心安排。为逝世者风光相送、备用阴间所需的一切“物品”。一些人甚至周全地预先购置环境优越的骨灰落脚处,安排几代同堂的空间。

把个人思念、伤痛与精力,继续集中在个人与家庭的范围里。

以英国悼念椅的普遍度来看,如此处理“个人”死亡的方式,意味的是一种集体的价值观与行为。一种基于个人,却能引申到群体的举动。所谓以个人至上的社会,其实也包含了对群体关怀的成分。

伟人与凡人



丘吉尔并没有把英国从一个落魄的小渔村打造成一个耀眼的大都会。可是,他在英国历史中是一个无法被磨灭的名字。

作为当时的英国首相,在二战时期,在欧洲国家相继沦陷之际,英国情势日益孤立,邱吉尔仍然斩钉截铁地摆明,英国绝对不会投降。他选择不放弃,并坚信英国最后的胜利。

一个领导人,如果是伟大的,是能在绝望中激励子民,让子民拿出超出自己想象的力量去追逐曙光。再伟大的领导人,仰赖的是群众的力量。他让群众升华,群众的回馈也让他升华。

狮城岛国独立后,已是一个具有战略地理位置的港口。它在半个世纪之间的改变,宛如从一间亚答屋摇身变成了一幢高楼大厦。岛民与主要的建筑师携手合作打造新家园。亚答屋简陋,高楼大厦巍峨。高楼闪耀的外表,确实容易让人对建筑师肃然起敬。但,岛民忘了,高楼本身并不是家园的全部,更不能是社会的全部。

而该名建筑师充其量只是建筑师,只能专心于硬件,却打造不出一个家园。还多次贬低岛民,责骂他们为愚昧无知之辈。

一些领导人留下了精神,一些只能建造硬件。

领导人,必须做的是领导。领着人群,引导他们。他不是军官,向子民发号施令。践踏或威迫子民服从,不是领导,而是专横。

丘吉尔在战后的首相竞选中落败。可是,他在关键时刻,领导了英国人走下去。作为一个领导人,在国家危难之际,并没有选择退缩,或威迫子民接受灾难,或责怪子民无能,更没有鄙视自己的子民。

更没有时时刻刻吹嘘自己对英国的贡献。

FT’s contributions to our social wear and tear



The 2012 crime rate is the lowest in 29 years.

That is the “right” thing that I am allowed to read and I am not trying to challenge that. It is with great optimism and humility that I am looking at the crime/behaviour of foreign nationals in our little red dot.

They caught my attention as far back as 2009. Wasn’t that long ago, really. And it doesn’t take a sharp observation to notice that the innovations and vibrancy that they bring to our island.

They impress me in a way which the locally-produced crime fails to. We have our own fair share of crime too, not that there isn’t any, but the pace and its forms pale in comparison to these foreign talents. Ours tend to be too ordinary and predictable. The recent case of the Kovan murders stood out though and beats our imagination. 

On the bright side, these crime or misbehaviour “demonstrated” by the foreign nationals make great contributions towards our society in a positive manner as they help stick spurs in the tides of our own police force and people who have been complacent for too long.  


Sticking spurs into the tide on SPF—kicking and scratching
Some foreign nationals assault the authorities, an action that few of our people would think of. Nevertheless, these foreign men and women were not afraid to challenge the authorities physically. They kicked our police and one even demonstrated the talent of a martial art master and took on 3 police officers alone. A female Chinese national scratched our SMRT staff during a dispute.

These are certainly good real-life opportunities to train our police to be always in their top combat form on the ground. SMRT ground staff might need to upgrade themselves and take up some form self-defence as part of their job scope should such physical challenge become a norm in the imminent future, especially with predicted greater influx of people before 2030.


Sticking spurs into our tides—land and air and MRT too
Singaporeans are a complacent lot in our low-crime environment that we tend to let down our guard whether in the air or on the ground.

On flights, we leave our belongings in the overhead cabins and engrossed in the world of onboard entertainment. When we place order food at food courts and cafes, we trustingly hang our handbags on chairs and leave our handphones and even laptops on tables. We place too much faith in our low-crime environment.

Thus, syndicates responded to our faith.

Interestingly, the Chinese nationals came up with the idea of stealing in the aircrafts. With insecure cabin overheads and passengers engrossed in their on-board entertainment gadgets, it is indeed an ideal and safe environment for thefts. Our local thieves are really daft!

Some came as far as South America to help themselves with $10 000 worth of our valuables on the ground, prying at food courts, shopping malls and cafes. Singapore lives up to the name of one of the richest nations in the world.

MRT is not spared. Our world class transport attracted even overseas thieves to expand their territories to Singapore to operate their activities on trains and stations. They reminded me of my travelling experiences in some crime-common countries where I have to pay special attention to my valuables on public transport.

A big thank to these foreign syndicates who taught us to be vigilant whether on ground or off ground.


Contribution to Sing Post
On the bright side, thefts sometimes create positive job opportunities to our local companies.

Between 2010 and 2011, two groups of South Americans came to Singapore for a “stealing spree” and mailed their loots back to their home country, creating more parcel transactions at our Sing Post and help create more jobs at Sing Post.


Hijacking of taxi and flying public bus stunts
Like a TV drama. Taxis could be hijacked and taking a public bus that could “fly” across a road.

And these are all conducted by ordinary people, not some stuntmen. 3 Anglo-Saxon Caucasians  hijacked a taxi before revelling in bashing up the cabbie and a passer-by. Chinese national took a step beyond hijacking taxi and pulling punches, he drove the taxi straight into an unfortunate cleaner.

Another Chinese national somehow managed to allow our public bus to skid off the road while negotiating a bend and send the bus “flying” across the road before it overturned and killed one of the two passengers on board. That is a 50% fatality rate travelling on a public bus.

Increased competition on housebreakings pie
Many are coming to share the pie of housebreakings.  

From Columbia to China. Fret not. 

With the imminent increase of population, the pie for housebreaking is growing. Nevertheless, even with an increase in the absolute number of housebreakings, it is only a proportionate increase to the increased number of homes appearing on our island.

So chances of our houses being broken into are still as slim as before. The down side is, our local burglars will certainly feel the competitive heat from these foreign talents and their livelihoods might be adversely impacted.




Extra-ordinary violence
Fights involving local gangs are often brutal as we have seen in the papers. Slashings and brutal violence are not uncommon. Such violence, however, no longer restricts to gang members.

Foreign nationals bring their social habits to our boring island and spice up our social happenings.

Even a hawker who originate from China took to a chopper to stop teens from hogging onto computers. Another man drovehis car into his teacher girlfriend and killing her for reasons unknown. Or another boyfriend slashing his girlfriend 17 times on the face during a heated argument in Choa Chu Kang blinding and killing her in the act. Or a husbandmurdering his wife, in Choa Chu Kang too. It has to be a cultural or social habit in some countries with the preference of violence as a means of solution.



Not only the locals have a bone to pick with our cabbies, foreigners too. A Swede and a Norwegian added vibrancy to our animosity with cabbies. The Swede managed to flee from our island while the poor Norwegian has to serve his time behind bars.


Globalization takes place in our prison cells
Internationally famed little red dot we are. For the wrong reason perhaps. Attracted people from all corners of the world to this little island with the intention to challenge our laws or unconsciously provoked to challenge our laws.

We are already seeing an increase on the pace of globalization within our prison cells too. It might create a little over-crowding issue to our cells and availability might be an issue. KBW has relieved the pressure on our BTOs but are our cells prepared for the worst-case scenario of 6.9 million population?

With the large foreign influx allowed onto our island in recent years, there are inevitably some law-breakers who are isolated cases and not representative of their home countries. Nevertheless, with the growing range of nationalities that we have on this island, isolated cases will eventually accumulate. On the bright side, that certainly adds more international colours to our cells!

Changing social landscape
We certainly cannot overlook the fact of the social wear and tear contributed by our local people. We are not as crime-free as we are made to believe even before the lax immigration rule. The casino presence makes its contribution too.

On a brighter note, with the increasing openness of Singapore and our welcoming arms to the world, foreign influx spices up our society and contributes enormously to the new possibilities of wear and tear to our landscape and pushes us for more effective and varied solutions to our social ills.