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Is this the start of Singapore’s decline?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 4, 2007

Article and open letter to our government by an ex-journalist

By Yeo Toon Joo

If the People’s Action Party were to call a general election now, chances are it would lose a good number of seats to the opposition, that is, if you could find able candidates to join the opposition.

If certain changes do not take place in the ruling party’s style of government, in time to come the PAP could lose power.That would be a shame, a tragedy for Singapore. But so strong has been the political backlash, and so great the people’s outrage, over the government’s widely unpopular decision and persistence to reward its cabinet ministers such handsome pay increases.

Dissenting and disapproving views over the latest round of ministerial pay hike have been eloquently articulated, often sneeringly so, but confined mainly to mass emailing and internet postings. The latest salary revision will by next year nearly double each minister’s current remuneration, and bring it on average to nearly three times that of US President George Bush’s, five times in the case of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s.

Top dollar for best brains?

Minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew had introduced in 1994 his formula of pegging ministerial salaries to 80 per cent of that of the top earners in six professions and businesses in Singapore. It gives Singapore the unique status of having the world’s highest paid political leaders. Their individual salaries surpass by far those of leaders of the world’s largest and most successful economies.

MM Lee’s reasons were that unless he paid top dollar for the best brains he would not be able to attract good and talented people to serve as leaders of the country, retain their services, or keep them above corruption.

Problem is: he had been, for a long time now, looking for leaders in the wrong places, and following a policy that discourages emergence of potential ones.

Some who entered the political fray had come a cropper. Not a few have served long terms of incarceration for their political beliefs or activities, others have had to flee the country to live (or die) in exile abroad.

Someone had not so many years back said that the best way to corrupt a person is to feed him so well you enslave him (did MM Lee say that?).

Ironically then, in his effort to ensure that his leaders remain above corruption, he might have bought their souls.

Cracks in the ruling party

From the relatively brief and muted parliament debate over this burning issue, there seems to be some cracks within the ruling party’s own ranks. However mildly aired, there is, for sure, disquiet and differences of opinion among some PAP members of parliament. Still, what man of sound mind would argue against being given a personal pay rise that first jacks up his annual salary to around $1 million and soon to nearly $2 million?

Feed them so well, they will never rebel.

I love my Singapore, and am thankful for the remarkable progress and prosperity it has achieved through the efforts of a stable and good government. I am immensely grateful, too, to the group of people who gave their all for the country in the pre-independence 1950s and our early days of nationhood.

I remain a loyal Singaporean who once had aspirations to serve our country, and did it initially (1960s and early 1970s) as a newspaper journalist, and through the Singapore National Union of Journalists and the National Trades Union Congress, of which SNUJ was affiliate.

I will carry to my grave, with great personal satisfaction, the memory of having been part of the team that pulled off the first successful workers’ strike against a penny-pinching, ill-managed, callous Straits Times Group of Newspapers.

A baptism of fire

That industrial action, over the Christmas period of 1971, resulted in a fairer deal for several thousands of its employees in Malaysia and Singapore. It was a time of baptism under fire for my SNUJ colleagues and me. Some of us could have lost our jobs with no prospect of working for another English language newspaper in Singapore as there was none other.

The late Mr C V Devan Nair, leader of the National Trades Union Congress and later President of Singapore, was one of my role models and idols then. He had encouraged me as a union leader by helping to open up and broaden my mind.

In one of our several intimate conversations he challenged me to join the PAP. Later, someone suggested I joined an opposition party. But partisan politics was not my cup of tea, more so as I was mindful of the dangerous waters I would be plunging into. I also had little desire for such public prominence.

Also, and alas, any zeal for committing further to community or national leadership was quickly doused by a series of factors: one was my loss of faith in the Straits Times Group as an honest news organization. Mr Lee Kuan Yew helped put paid to it by his public parading and glorification of people who were steeped in scholarship, and humiliation of those who were not.

MM Lee, in searching for a second and then third generation of leaders, started looking for them first in academia (we know how it failed) and then to those who were government scholars.

At the same time we saw the hasty and, perhaps, premature retirement of our earlier PAP political leaders who had fire in their bellies but no multiple mortar boards on their head.

Dissenters

The harsh treatment of those with dissenting views, and slapping down of those brazen enough to join battle with the PAP and MM Lee at the hustings, quickly scared off those who thought they had something to offer to the country, but not necessarily as part of the PAP political apparatus.

Those with divergent, though not necessarily subversive, views were unmercifully smacked down. Others, seduced by the comforts and affluence their talents and training earned them in a prospering society (feed them so well they will never rebel), soon lost their idealism and passion for political sacrifice. It made political engagement not only a perilous pursuit but a wanton risk of losing all they had amassed materially, plus their personal freedom.

A PAP apologist recently condemned me for criticizing the incredible pay hikes for our cabinet leaders that has no precedent or matching model anywhere in the world. “You can only criticize, but what’s your solution?”

Alternatives to attracting leaders

I believe I have something by way of solution, or at least an alternative view to what Mr Lee Kuan Yew insists is the only way to attract and nurture the right political leaders:

  • Look for our future leaders not just among our scholastically successful Singaporeans; academic excellence does not equate with effective leadership. This quality might even disqualify a person from leadership.
  • Look for people with a good and stout heart, undying love for Singapore and his/her fellowmen, and a burning desire to serve even at huge personal sacrifice – people with compassion, fire in their belly, grit in their gut, and steel in their back.
  • Look for those who possess and exhibit the many other qualities of leadership. A yen for scholarship (at government’s expense) alone is a poor prerequisite of leadership. Encouraging scholarship of our bright students through the lure of career and financial success could produce either more scholarship bond breakers or those who will work only for lucre (for those are the values you promote).
  • If you encourage our government scholars to cherish high income, in a society exhorted to worship financial success, you will have to pay big bucks to get them to join your PAP ministerial ranks – definitely not the people you need or want to lead our country and inspire our countrymen.
  • Rethink government policy, enunciated by MM Lee Kuan Yew, of encouraging potential leaders to chart their paths through the Armed Forces (with an SAF scholarship), then a stint in the civil service, a short spell in the private sector, and then to the PAP cabinet. You produce less open minded people who might possess a one-dimensional perspective of the world, a common mind set. Such a policy deprives you the services and creativity swimming so abundantly in the vast reservoir of talents out there in the real world. The military promotes obedience, viz. “Charge of the Light Brigade”. You could end up with people paid well enough and sufficiently smart either to not charge with you – or charge blindly even when good sense tells them they should not.
  • By all means encourage elitism but do not ridicule those who have interests and talents that are not skewed towards pursuit of a PhD. I cite one example of how MM Lee a few elections ago disparagingly compared the not as impressive academic achievements of our loyal opposition member, Mr Chiam See Tong, to those of his bright young submissive scholars.
  • Do not intimidate or beat down all dissenters or those with alternative views, but judge them on their integrity, and do not swamp and swallow up those with potential for leadership into the PAP and high ministerial salaries. You end up with many “yes” men.
  • Open up the minds of Singaporeans by not controlling so rigidly the flow of information about their own country, whatever its flaws and foibles
  • Put in place committed, honest, mature and trained journalists over your mass media organizations, people with a feel for the ground and popular feeling, people trained in journalism (not just in academia) and bold enough to launch investigative journalistic enquiry that aid thinking and intelligent decision making by Singapore’s people. If you find them do not stifle them. NOTE: such control of the press deprives you of an essential source of accurate feedback, and surrounds you with sycophantic counsel akin to that of the king with no clothes. The current mass media situation has encouraged a flourishing of emailing and postings on cyber space; they contain useful information as well as misinformation and disinformation, including ranting by irresponsible people.
  • Let MM Lee’s quest for self-renewal verily proceed. He should let the people he personally chose or vetted, take over fully. Let them err, let them rule (when is the appropriate time for this to happen?). MM Lee did not have a mentor to minister to him and his colleagues in the tumultuous days of pre- and early post-independence – and did not flounder.

I am no political scientist, nor your scholastic type. But I have not been disabled from seeing another view to tackling our problem: there is no lack of leaders, only a lack of desire. Perhaps, there is a hesitation prompted by what is called fear. We, in our immensely successful Singapore, owe much to MM Lee and his colleagues. There are many Singaporeans who want to cherish his legacy.

We need not let that happen

If the current controversy fuels more of the dangerous and divergent views and anti-government sentiments (even hatred) that have surfaced among our Singapore population, our remarkable success as a country could prove ephemeral. Singapore, especially with our official relaxation of control over moral issues and matters, could be another sad story of the decline and fall of a fledgling civilization.

If that happens, we would, as the late Mr G G Thompson, director of the Singapore Political Study Centre once said, cause merely a small yawn in the world.

We need not let that happen.

——————————————

About the author:

Yeo Toon Joo is:

Ex-news editor, Straits Times
Ex-assistant editor, New Nation
Ex-secretary general, Singapore National Union of Journalists
Ex-owner of a public relations company and broadcast PR firm
Hon. Fellow,
Institute of Public Relations of Singapore


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35 Responses to “Is this the start of Singapore’s decline?”

  1. ong teong hoon said

    Well said Toon Joo !

  2. Steven Lee said

    Very True.Good man don’t come easily. Good leader don’t need high salary to serve the people. This is compassion to ensure Singaporean are well taken care in term of employment,housing, health and security. The current leadership had lost touch with the ordinary Singaporean but instead are serving the rich and corrupt foreigner. The high cost of government means the ordinary are paying high taxes to support a few so called talent but not talented.

  3. Fedup said

    It has breed a culture of greed, selfishness, and arrogance.

    And politics of envy among Singaporeans due to the ever-widening gap between the low/middle income groups and the high income group.

    And now made worse by the removal of the capital gains tax.. resulting in excessive speculation.

  4. Anonymous said

    Well said Toon Joo. But the trouble is, Singaporeans have very short memory. Also, the GRC policy ensures that only the rich and powerful can win. The goal post is also shifted to ensure victory at all costs.

  5. Gangrene said

    LKY is a smart man. Surely he knows that money will not buy the best politicians to benefit this country. Then why did he insist on paying money for so-called top talents?

    I love Singapore too. I am immensely proud to have served this nation, but I am pained by the callous policies and actions that this govt has inflicted upon the people. When the pain becomes unbearable, some will choose to lose the limb than have a gangrenous parasite eating up the soul eventually.

    Some have left and more will follow suit. This will be the legacy of LKY and PAP. If they think that it is easier to preside over a more “grateful” bunch of new immigrants, be my guest!

  6. hanyen said

    I disagree with this article. It is very biased in the sense that it doesn’t take in account of the situtation faced by the main political leaders as they meet problems…

  7. Migrated said

    Put the corporate calibre Minister on a lie detector after they pledge their loyalty and sacrifices to the Nation in Parliament, and isn’t this been practice for for some super-paid CEO).
    The Hell Minister must be the first guy to take it. I doubted his commitment to our people, when he wanted to send and end our sick and old to a distant island. He better ask his grandmother if she prefer to die in her hometown, then far away from home. I remembered chinese (or our fore-fathers) last wish probably was to send back their ashes for buried. WTF is this Khaw, a devil.

  8. Oscar Chan said

    Well said…
    To build a nation and make it grow strength to strength…

    1) We need talented people…
    Most of the time, the most talented people don’t excel in school… Those excel in school may not have a mind as broad and as street smart.

    2) We need leaders that love our country (Singapore) Leaders that love our motherland will not need to be pay so high to retain to me…
    Money is only a figure to them, they should care more about Singaporean hardship and think of ways to help the weak one…

    3) Look at history, When a dynasty is at its peak, normally it is the internal crack the spark its downfall… We need to win people by their heart, not money… Singapore Moral is too weak and one of the main reason may be our government are leading the materialist and capitalist mindset and not having a good balance on it… We are nopt trying to say that the government not great, i am really very grateful to PAP and Lee Kuan Yew over this 42 years of nation planning and building, Without their leadership, i don’t know what kind of state we will be in….

    I share Mr Yeo views, i hope Singapore can keep on prosper…
    But may be there is a need to edit the software… Winning people by heart and not the money issue…

  9. Sarek said

    hanyen, what kind of “situation faced by the main political leaders as they meet problems” are you referring? PAP have been using this ‘unique’ case of Singapore as reason for doing what they do. We all heard it. If you want to repeat the same argument, save it. Better spend your effort in understanding why people are not buying this argument.

    It is too common for PAP to make some very unpopular decisions, try to justify them with some arguments and then ask people to ‘close rank’ and ‘move on’. It is poor leadership to drag people along a policy instead of convincing them to support the policy. PAP has been spending its political capital on forcing these policies through. It might have worked in early decades when people still believe in their leaders and the nation. Today, when few families bother to hang up the Singapore flag on National Day, and PM Lee has to give up his pay rise in a poor attempt to buy some moral credibility, one can see PAP’s political capital is long gone. PAP can only drag people along with it based on fear of economic ruin and denial of HDB upgrading, not some kind of inspiring nation building leadership. It is a total failure of leadership and nation building.

    The article is actually written for the benefit of PAP. Like any problem, the more delay in fixing it, the more costly it will be. The longer it take for PAP to address the issue of political reform, the harder will PAP fall, along with it the whole nation.

    PAP should be thankful that there are still people who are still willing to give frank comments in hope that it is not too late for PAP to embark on reforming the party and the nation.

  10. This is the decline of PAP not Singapore. Initially investors might close shop when they hear Lee Kuan Yew is mentally unstable. Later they will come back and make Singapore to be the number one country in the world.

    The signs are there if you care to watch. First the casino, ministers’ pay rise, then comment to decriminalise homosexual and saying government is not moral police.
    Sentosa formerly invited the Thailand homosexuals to perform dances. This is what they want to venture into and organise homosexual beauty contest like in Thailand.

    Just look how Thailand is now. It is too liberal so the decaying culture will take its toll on the people. Also Nature will rain down punishment like famines, drought, flood, storms etc to kill and destroy.

    http://kewkahfatt.blogspot.com/index.html .

  11. Reforming the political system is the only long-term solution.

  12. Lai CF said

    When monetary reward is a lure to attract talents; and to prevent temptation…it speaks volume of our political Leadership.

    It simply means the coming fo age of that “Me Generation” and “What is it in foe me?” Generation…The Post-65ers.

    And fading into the background..”A duty to serve, to serve selflessly”.

    It is not A Decline of Singapore; but the full transformation into PAraniod SIngapore where “one mistake means SIngapore is finished”.

    And SIngapore Foreign Currency Reserves of US$125-billion and growing, simply means that…RESERVES FOR THE COMING RAINY DAY….

    A Paranoid Singapore whose priority, first and last, is to protect that RESERVES against the coming “raining day”..and will NEVER NEVER spend it for welfarism and to aviod “mean testing” Singpaoreans; speaks volumes of the compassionate nature of PAP GOvernment.

    Bluntly….this 3rd Generation of PAP leadership is bland, deviod of charisma and poor strategic long-term planning, as judged against Lee Kuan Yew and Old Guards. it is a “Cost-Plus” Comapny with captive customers, a monopoly.

    But Lee Hsein Loong may proved me wrong in his May-15 Empat Mata Meeting with Badawi.

    Perhaps, he will break that “historical Baggage logjam” and develop a Visionary Strategy wth Malaysia to bring SIngapore to the next stage of economic development.

    Other than that, we are having a Paraniod SIngapore….like that book by Groves, “Only the Paranoids…”

  13. Singapore is not going downhill. It is the PAP that is going downhill. Their new policies are degrading and if they are not stop, Singapore will join the rank of Thailand having beauty contest for homosexuals and homosexual bars, playboy and playgirl magazines every where.

    Nature will take its course. The DOOM is NEAR.

    http://kewkahfatt.blogspot.com/index.html .

  14. Al Chia said

    One should not try to argue away the govt’s simplistic, idealistic, and self-serving explanations to justify a pay increase for themselves. By just looking at the disparity between their pay packets and those of the super-powers of the world, there should be no more explanation needed! – it just defies logic and is nonsensical. Secondly, look at what the teachers are getting as an increment in the same exercise and of those in charge – it is just an excuse to further enrich themselves – nothing more, nothing less!
    It is just like the ERP rates – if the traffic congestion does not improve, increase the rates further. By the same reasoning, if it is getting more difficult to induct new blood, increase the pay packet! Governing is so easy nowadays. It is almost fools’ game.

  15. You can leave your ranting at the door. The same goes for your site. Full of homophobia and a clear lack of respect or tolerance for others.

  16. Above in reference to Kew Kah Fatt.

  17. What respect you want me to show ? You want me to respect Lee Kuan Yew ?
    Everyone is just performing his duty on earth.
    The world is a stage
    We are only actors

    I am just doing my duty. If you considered that I am ranting, just be it. I can’t be bothered what others say about me.

    What I want to say here is that don’t allow homosexuals to have a free hand in Singapore like in Thailand, where beauty contests and bars are opened for them to engage in.

  18. Sick of it all said

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    66.6% of Singaporeans gave them the power to do whatever they want including stuffing their already fat pockets with even more cash.

    What can the rest of us do?

  19. minefield99 said

    66.6 comprises of the biggest group of workers here, ie the civil servants. Those who work in GLC like NTUC,DBS,Singtel, statutory boards. Contractors that has business dealings with the govt…how to win election?

  20. Mike said

    Singapore will definitely decline with the rise of china and Indian and the overdependence on MNCs. Singapore’s rigid education and control of mass media already makes sure Singapore cannot compete in the international arena. The days of Singapore as a low-cost hub and manufacturing location is over. Gen X has been imbibe the wrong values and mindsets. Wrong thought processes.

    I only see PAP trying to carve out niches digital media, water renewal, wealth management hub. Heady Days are over for singapore. Only Gradual Decline. First with low income group then the middle class squezz. Trying to govern Singapore like in the 70s is PAP’s greatest mistake. Innovation, boldness of individual thought. Free capital flows. No silicon vally here. Just monopolies of GLCs..squezz squezz the unfortunate peasamts.

  21. Mike said

    May I add more…
    The word ‘sterile’ aptly describes Singapore, Singaporeans and the Singapore Spirit. LKY has achieved nothing more than country without a soul. That itself ensures Singapore would not last longer than LKY. The key to Singapore surviability lies in its neighbours and region, not playing bootlicker to China or India. Near collapse of PAP government in the second next election is a possiblility and I hope I live long enough to witness it.

  22. Mike said

    I read the internet of so much Singapore cynicism. Cynicism is just a psychological defense against helplessness. Both Singaporeans and the Singapore government has to grow up. PAP has to understand there is no such thing as a talented minister. Singaporeans have to understand things are in their hands. To build a two party system in Singapore through wise voting and personal sacrifice,entering the Singapore political process themselves. Only then that Singapore has a future else the gradual decline of Singapore is all but certain…

  23. Hi Mike,

    It’s interesting that political reform was mentioned in a recent forum. That is what is badly needed – not because we want the PAP to be overthrown but because political empowerment has a part to play in national identity and belongingness.

    Singaporeans are economically empowered. We can do almost anything economically – have a job, a career, roof over our heads, and so on. It is political empowerment that we lack.

    It is perceived, and not without some merit, that LKY is the driving force behind Singapore and the govt’s policies. If a country is so dependent on one man, it has not progressed much.

    And perhaps that is the greatest danger Singapore will face once LKY leaves the scene.

    But perhaps also, that is the very thing that we need.

  24. woo said

    Why worry? whatever discuss in this forum has been repeated over and over so many time on the way this government runs this country.They just won’t listen to our opinion.Let nature takes it course then.If it turns out bad for our country in the future, just remember who is responsible for the outcome and who allowed them. Singaporean I guess.

  25. marshall laws said

    if marshall had fully understood what the “golden calf” represents and the circumstances surrounding its emergent, he would probably have risen from the dead – just like someone said he would – and lead the next generation to the “promise land”!

  26. THE LITTLE RED DOT.

    In the east was a little red dot,

    Once a one-man-one-vote democracy,

    Where good men were elected by citizens

    As their leaders to fight against injustice and inequity,

    To serve people’s needs and aspirations with humility,

    Alas once trusted and given such opportunity,

    These men sniffed at people’s trust and claimed to be talents,

    By legalistic wrangling they tweaked the laws,

    To secured powers over the legislative and judiciary,

    And became haughty and **@#ey,

    And paid themselves the highest salaries,

    Selectively benchmarked to the few lottory winning CEOs

    Who got to where they were through luck, capital risks,

    And most stringent evaluation selection process,

    Not satisfied with their world’s highest salaries,

    That surpass even that of president of United States,

    They claimed the highest pays were not enough,

    They paid themselves the highest bonuses and life-long fees,

    And even double pays one for retiring and one working,

    They taxed, recouped fullest costs and hoarded taxes as surplus,

    Then claimed such surpluses as their success,

    Not satisfied with one-man-one-vote election system,

    Which they said would lead to freak election,

    They tweaked the election into group representation or GRC

    Handicap candidates to form into mini-government blocks,

    Before they could stand for election,

    That estop the best candidates to stand in single wards,

    In name GRC would provide racial harmony,

    In fact GRC gave them monopoly to hold on to power,

    Atop gerrymandering the election process,

    They use the civil libel suits to sue anyone,

    For speaking the truths till no one stands on election day,

    Election day became the day to declare walk over,

    With no contest in GRCs, they claimed mandates

    To tax, recoup fullest costs via GLCs and HDB,

    Some rebates were given on conservancy,

    To pacify peasants and potential rebel,

    But once election was over, GST and fees would be increased

    Low-cost public housing built on lands paid by citizens,

    Charged at market value with a discount called subsidy,

    Forever and ever citizens toiled to pay unending taxes,

    For surpluses to pay ministers’ highest salaries,

    For otherwise ministers might become corrupt or untalented,

    Alas with profiteering and surpluses not enough,

    Because billions were lost on souzhou or shin corp,

    When lost they were not mistakes but long term investments,

    Election goodies would soon take care of unhappy memories,

    Integrated resorts were invoked over vowed dead body,

    Notwithstanding citizens’ wages dropping back to 3rd world’s.

    Never mind the issues or problems like the rising costs,

    They would proclaim which country had no rising costs,

    They would say every one makes mistakes,

    One by one they would deny problems and NKF,

    By countering that People were whiners,

    By saying recessions were not their fault but globalisation,

    For years they talked about creating value-adding economy,

    But they ran out of ideas and said red dot had no resources,

    Forever People were to be grateful to the little red dot.

  27. Required said

    Say what you want, folks, but at the end of the day – just when each and every one’s voice needs to be heard come election time, Singaporeans just, well, chicken out.

    And that’s a sad fact, the grim reality.

    So what now or sometime in future those men in white – I stress “men”, and we know who we are talking about here – and their families lose power or get booted out of this island, they’d turn around and laugh at all you, guys (read fools): “Well, we’ve in power for so long we wouldn’t have known how to quit if we hadn’t lost this time! Thanks for letting us have our way for over four decades, heehee.”

  28. scb said

    I just fail to comprehend why so many people tend to feel that Singapore will be gone once LKY goes heaven. When Singapore sent peacekeepers to East Timor, I was thinking to myself that the wrong calibres were been despatched. I was wondering why Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not volunteer or be under the auspices of the United Nation be there to help with his legendary (the opinion of a lot of people,it seems) administrative (running a country) talents. He could presumably with his super talent, reorganise the systems in East Timor and put it on the expressway to peace and prosperity, it would have been a divine deed to his personal credit. Had that happened, Singapore would have benefitted too, for East Timor is lightly(lowly) populated with much larger landmass, a very long coastline and naturally vegetated. That is to say it would be very productive for primary products cultivations in land, marine and others which Singaporeans could participate in, should any Singaporean succeeded in helping East Timor to prosperity. It is just my conjecture as I have always alluded Singapores’ prosperity to its’ strategic geographical locality and the hard works of its’ early immigrants, do pardon and chastise me should I be wrong in my thinking!

  29. Dumb & talent-less SOS (Son of Singapore) - and blind said

    Whenever sought for views on how they intend to resolve the widening income-gap issue, these in-power ‘politicians’ – or so they think they really are – when the fact is there exists none here – down to a man and sometimes, woman, will always, always cite the politically fashionable, oft-repeated “Oh, it’s to do with globalisation, the same thing happens everywhere, so we’re sorry, there’s nothing we can do about it, sorry.”

    And whenever asked why the hurry to induct ‘foreign talents’ – sorry, no such term exists, because the real talents are kept at home in the top economies; Third World countries (yes, we are still on par with the likes of Indonesia & Chad) don’t get the crème de la crème but the crumbs who come here under the guise of being FT’s only to undercut and yes, to pick up whatever crumbs non-elites here are left with – they will always say sorry, no choice, we really have to have them (paraphrase: sorry, local non-elites are just too stupid and also cannot be trusted).

    I wholly agree.

    To answer the call of globalisation, and like every good (& greedy) corporate that flees to the place with the lowest cost to do business, we ought to also outsource every public service – the highest offices in the land notwithstanding.

    After all, for a fraction of what taxpayers dole out every year, we can get the REAL foreign talents. And for a lifetime too!

    Anthony Blair would surely jump at the opportunity to serve Singapore and us, never mind if we were once his queen’s subjects(‘s subjects).

    And so would Baroness Margaret. And William Clinton. Even Hillary. The list goes on and on – every one of which would surely be our hard-earned dollars’ worth. All of whom are without a doubt much more talented politicians AND people-persons, none of whom are short in stature, short of height and short-tongued and none so overly developed in height and awkwardly tall there’s a cerebral shortfall.

    And for so much le$$. Amen.

    “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

  30. Joseph Isaac said

    No one person is bigger than a land. When one goes, another comes to take his place; power abhors a vacuum, blah, blah, blah.

    When a myth is perpetuated long enough, it somehow propels itself into real perception. But still only a perception. So take heart, this island ain’t gonna sink nor will it vaporise just because its helmsman – however long his command had been – dies.

    Sing too much praises of a man – especially a living person – and we risk creating icons (think Mao The great Helmsman).

    Oops, perhaps we are turning into commies ourselves (hics) I mean, after all, only socialist states celebrate their nationhood with mass parades a la The Kim-don of Jong-Il.

    Some big shots are also starting the call for our public buildings and streets to be named after ‘early founders’. Can you imagine?

    So, that image on your bills isn’t a happenstance after all. It could well be the start to putting more ‘current’ faces on them – think Bolkiah;-)

    scb Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 5:19 pm
    I just fail to comprehend why so many people tend to feel that Singapore will be gone once LKY goes heaven.

  31. Mai Hew Kung said

    He’s also an FT, yea? If so, one of not a few we’ve had who have assumed public office. Shows you how FT’s are a more grateful & loyal bunch – not to you and I, of course.

    Don’t think he’s Hakka# but a lao hokkien from old Penang town, yea? And when Hokkiens curse, they always go,”Wa-khaw*!”

    Does anyone know:
    #if Hakkas are of the common Han stock like Cantonese, Tiochius & Hokkiens?
    *if that is Hokkien for ‘wo1 kou4’ with reference to the Japanese pirates who frequently raided homes on the Fujian shores? What are the kanji or Chinese characters for ‘wa-khaw’ then, if not?
    Thanks.

    Migrated Says:
    May 5th, 2007 at 5:26 pm
    He better ask his grandmother if she prefer to die in her hometown, then far away from home. I remembered chinese (or our fore-fathers) last wish probably was to send back their ashes for buried. WTF is this Khaw, a devil.

  32. aygee said

    The govt believes that high salaries will imply their people wont be corrupt.

    TT Durai, Richard Yong, David Rasif et al proves otherwise.

    Also, in just about every major company or govt, when things go wrong, the top people take responsibility.

    When things go right – its all PAP. when things go wrong – its always someone else’s fault. No wonder singapore has such a “cover backside first” and “kiasu” mentality about it.

    I have not seen a single Govt official take any heat for mismanagement, or even hear them apologise, at the very least.

    Sure – give them high salaries – but one thing we request – we would also like to see more accountability, esp when things go wrong.

  33. […] Is this the start of Singapore’s decline? […]

  34. qlqq9 said

    “MM Lee’s reasons were that unless he paid top dollar for the best brains he would not be able to attract good and talented people to serve as leaders of the country, retain their services, or keep them above corruption”.

    Paying top dollar does not guarantee that they will get the best brain. A good example is PM Lee. As far as many of us are concerned, he simply lacks the sort of calibre. He does not show much of intelligence in the way he manages the country.

  35. RaymondChua said

    We are indeed experience a dose of incompetent leadership since the independence of Singapore. There simply no vision for Singapore, and what we have are some kind of routine of ‘We have to be this, we have to be that’ mandate.

    Everyone knows how incompetent is the gov in ruling this country and why is it that Singaporean has to pay for it both in term of financially and youth ?

    The gov desperate move into cyberspace, into casino, racing, etc show how much gov is so desperate and hopeless. If ony gov build a cohesive social culture rather than culture of Money, the gov will have a strong mandate. It is MOney that gov rule now, and it is exactly the money that will lead to gov’s downfall from disgrace eventually.

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