Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Is this another Sermon on the Mount?

It is a well-known fact that the Straits Times is a PAP propaganda organ. For it to come out now to portray itself as a purveyor of unvarnished news to the public is stretching the imagination to the limit. The sceptical public may want to know the motivation of the Straits Times in its editorial today casting unmitigated aspersion on the integrity of the TR Emeritus (TRE) when the issue of the erroneous reporting of the medical expenses of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been satisfactorily clarified by TRE and other websites. TRE has already apologised for the inadvertent error and does the Straits Times consider that a pound of flesh is the more appropriate punishment?

No one benefits from aggravating the mishap of Minister Heng and what locus standi is the Straits Times on in insinuating that TRE is making Minister Heng the target of lies? Is the Straits Times not admitting that it lacks the ability to exercise proper judgement and due diligence (to quote the ST) on such a serious accusation?

As mentioned before, Mr. Heng is a well-liked minister and it is unfortunate that he is afflicted with a severe stroke in the course of his duty which requires prolonged hospitalisation and intensive care. As the cost of the hospital care is quite astronomical it is quite natural for some members of the public to wonder if this is shouldered by the taxpayers. Since the government has now clarified that the taxpayers will not be burdened with Mr. Heng's medical cost, it would have expected that matters will take their normal course of waiting for the complete recovery of Mr. Heng with TRE having apologised for the erroneous reporting and other websites giving their views in mitigating the TRE's error. In fact the whole issue is a storm in the teacup.

It is indeed mind-boggling that the Straits Times editor has found it fitting the revitalise the issue at this point and it will be interesting to know if this is done with a noble motivation. That the Straits Times has all along viewed TRE and other similar websites as undermining its monopoly of purveying unvarnished news to the public is not too far-fetched. So if it could expose TRE and other websites for disseminating gutter journalism, it would smooth the way for it to continue to disseminate PAP propaganda to the public. In this way the people who are short-changed will be the public.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Must the SPD be so overbearing in its statement?

It's a reminiscene of the British colonial days when you get civil servants writing in an uncultured manner chastising the disconcerted public for any minor infringement. Would you not think it is anachronistic if this happens in Independent Singapore today? Let's examine the so-called civilised statement of the Public Service Division (PSD) chastising the website TR Emeritus (TRE) for allegedly misleading the public that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's medical expenses were being paid by taxpayers. Is it not couched in unmistakable overbearing language and would it be expected of civil servants to show some civility in the exercise of their authority towards the public? Surely it is not beyond their ability to compose the statement with more civility without losing the severity of the admonition which they intend to convey.

Mr. Heng Swee Keat is quite a well-liked minister who has unfortunately suffered a severe stroke and is still in the Intensive Care Unit after more than a month. That the public is anxious to know the prognosis of his condition is quite natural. The TRE has inadvertenly published Mr. Heng's medical bill in the region of $500,000 to be paid by taxpayers.without first checking the veracity of the statement. It has since apologised to the government for its inadvertent mistake but added it is disappointed to be accused of misleading the public.

There is a saying that to err is human. To err and to mislead are two entirely different matter and it is obvious that the TRE has erred and not to mislead. A fine example of erring or misleading was in the blustering disclosure by the former Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan that he had paid only $8.00 for an operation and hospital stay some time ago. TRE can therefore be excused for a momentarily indiscretion.

In the public interest the proper attitude to adopt is to monitor the progress of the health condition of Mr. Heng Swee Keat and not how his medical bill is to be settled. Civil servants are not public masters and a showing of a little civility in dealing with the public will endear them to the populace. TRE is doing a public service by providing alternative news to the public from the PAP propaganda that the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times, is dishing out ad nauseam.

There is a Chinese saying : People are not grass or wood so who can not have erred but to err and can change is a virtuous act. (人非草木 孰能無過 過而能改 善莫大焉)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Has the makings of a high-falutin and hubristic diplomat

The name Bilahari Kausikan has come into prominence recently for his high-falutin utterances on opposition politicians about their political views as if he was a PAP political office holder. He was a Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he relinguished his post to become now an Ambassador-at-large. He has written a number of articles denigrating opposition politicians ostensibly in the nature of a political treatise by a prominent politician. He tried to impress with his so-called intricate erudite verbose writings and blatantly believed that this would draw attention from the public as to how clever he was, but in fact lacking in depth.

Let us examine his apparent motive in his esoteric immature behaviour. It is quite a fad nowadays for promising writers to pen articles on topical political subjects to gain prominence as a rational commentator and it will not be far-fetched to say that our honourable diplomat Bilahari saw this as an opportunity to make a name for himself. Of course it will not be doing justice for himself if in the course of his writing he did not ingratiate himself to the powers that be by writing something that is not very flattering to the opposition. As an Ambassador-at-large he must be thinking that he is in an unassailable position that the opposition cannot retaliate. He may be right that the opposition cannot do anything to rattle his position and so he just continues his antics with impunity.

We have other ambassadors-at-large who do not behave in his hubristic manner. In fact they really live up to their name in promoting cordial relations with the government. Workers' Party Pritam Singh and Singapore Democratic Party Dr. Paul Thambyiah have shown their civilised upbringing in not being too drastic in their response to Bilahari's attack on their character.

Bilahari is not too young and one would have thought that at his age there will be some maturity in his action towards others, especially members of the opposition. He is only a diplomat and not a politician and for a diplomat to take up an offense against an opposition politician is not something which an ordinary Singaporean can normally stomach. So for Mr. Bilahari it is not too late for you to redeem yourself by adopting a more conciliatory attitude towards the opposition. It is alright to be bombastic sometimes but you must do it with finesse. There is a Chinese saying: Turn the head and there is the shore - repent and salvation is at hand (回頭是岸)。

Friday, May 6, 2016

A cliffhanger Bukit Batok by-election

The last nine days have witnessed a very vigorous campaign by the PAP candidate Murali Pillai and SDP candidate Dr. Chee Soon Juan for votes of the Bukit Batok electorate. There had been daily meetings with the residents and PAP election rallies and SDP rallies. Both candidates worked very hard to capture the minds of the voters with their respective programmes and it looks like the BB voters are spoilt for choice in trying to decide which candidate to vote for.

PAP candidate Murali Pillai had been very meticulous in enumerating the benefits that he and his PAP colleagues from the Town Council and constituency have brought to the residents of Bukit Batok for the elderly, the children and healthcare especially for the elderly. In addition, he had the services of PAP big guns like PM Lee Hsien Loong and DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to appeal to the voters to vote in his favour. His sixteen years of voluntary service to the constituency could also be a factor in his favour. Therefore, Mr. Murali sees himself as a candidate that deserves the support of the electorate.

SDP candidate Dr. Chee Soon Juan on the other hand is a more dramatic and flamboyant individual who shows great intent that he is a more favourable candidate with his diligence and acumen in fending off accusations of character flaws and management disabilities from his PAP opponents and giving a optimistic account of what he could do, if elected, to bring enhancements to the welfare and livelihood of Bukit Batok residents. He has assembled a transit team to take over the Town Council and to make it more efficient and resident-friendly that it will surpass the performance of PAP Town Councils. Most important he has pledged to work full time in the constituency as its MP to which Mr. Murali has no answer. Another important factor is that he will act as a potent alternative voice in Parliament. At times Dr. Chee had appeared to have gone over the top in his eagerness to expose the so-called 
 political flaws of the PAP Government which could not have been to his credit. SDP rallies had been better attended but, from past experiences, this is not an indication of better vote gathering. 

The polling starts today and judging from the vigorousness and competency of the respective campaign, the chances of the respective candidates appear to be equal with neither side appearing to have an overwhelming advantage. For Dr. Chee to romp home in this contest, he will need divine help to tilt the balance in his favour, for example a 50.01 per cent win. There is a Chinese saying: Heaven will not forsake a person with great pains taken in a plan (皇天不负苦心人). Whether this applies to Dr. Chee's case, only the election result will tell.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Highlights of the by-election campaign

The election campaign of the PAP and the Singapore Democratic Party in the Bukit Batok by-election has thrown up some interesting highlights which will captivate the mind of Bukit Batok voters in particular and the discerning Singaporeans in general. Quite naturally the PAP is taking this by-election seriously and the big guns who have come out to campaign for the PAP candidate Murali Pillai included PM Lee Hsien Loong and DPM Tharman Shamugaratnam. But what should appear abominable to the voters and the public is the disgraceful performance of the heinous Grace Fu who behaves like a real witch in carrying out a character assassination of Dr. Chee Soon Juan. However, she is not alone as other PAP speakers are also of the same ilk. Arrogance and hubris seem to be the order of the day for PAP leaders in dealing with Dr. Chee.

Dr. Chee Soon Juan on the other hand is a picture of composure in answering deftly all the accusations levelled at him by the PAP speakers. He is an underdog and does not expect any kid-glove treatment from his PAP opponents. He is aware that he is pitted against a party with enormous financial and manpower resources and above all a ruling party. From observations and reports, Dr. Chee is making reasonable headway in his campaign and this is what irks the PAP leaders.

Even PM Lee Hsien Loong finds it imperative to come forward to campaign for the PAP candidate and it is not surprising that he goes straight into a character assassination of Dr. Chee branding him as an unchanged unruly politician of his early days. This is a serious indictment by a prime minister who does not seem to be on solid ground as it is a well-known fact that Dr. Chee has now matured into a consummate politician with sound principles. Moreover, Dr. Chee now has a sizeable following and there is a appropriate Chinese saying: To view other people lowly with canine eyes. (狗眼看人低)。

That Dr. Chee's ethnicity is an advantage is not without reason. This is now being skewed by PM Lee to be a campaign against the PAP candidate by some unknown persons to vote along racial line. It is now known where PM Lee obtained this rumour but it sounds more like a pre-emptive attempt to warn voters against voting for Dr. Chee raising the race spectre. Dr. Chee is not known to be exploiting the racial element in his campaign. PM Lee should know that ethnic propensity is a characteristic of any race, especially among the elderly Chinese and should not be alarming if this is visible in Bukit Batok.

It is obvious that Dr. Chee Soon Juan is causing considerable anxiety in the PAP camp and it will be interesting to watch how the campaign evolves in the remaining days of the campaign.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Bukit Batok by-election

It is an auspicious start for Singapore Democratic Party Dr. Chee Soon Juan that there is complete unity of the opposition parties in support of his candidature in the Bukit Batok by-election. Even Kenneth Jeyaratnam of the Reform Party has pledged to organise the opposition parties to support Dr. Chee in his election campaign. Such a show of opposition unity is unprecedented and augurs well for Dr. Chee in his pursuit of an election victory.

Dr.Chee had started off his political career in a turbulent manner which did not stand him in good stead but he has since matured into a consummate politician with sound principles. He is certainly more articulate than many of the PAP lawmakers, even some ministers, and, with his fertile ideas to further the public interests and livelihood of Singaporeans, will be a potent alternative voice in Parliament. He also has the prescience to cobble an impressive Town Council Transition Team to improve the welfare of the constituents especially the elderly covering a wide range of assistance including fiance, education and legal matters if he is elected. He has also pledged to devote full time to his constituency work and to give part of his MP allowance to ten deserving poor families in the constituency.

Dr. Chee may also have an ethnicity advantage especially with the elderly Chinese voters in Bukit Batok.The PAP may be over-confident in bucking the trend by putting up a non-Chinese candidate. The result will show if they are vindicated in their choice of candidate.

That Dr. Chee has a sizeable mass following could be seen in the last GE 2015 where he contested in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. That crowd that was attracted to his rally and book-signing event was an encouraging sign but his party failed to win because of the political circumstances prevailing at that time leading to a fantastic 69.9 per cent victory for the PAP, which even stunned the PAP wallahs. Dr. Chee has certainly learned a lesson from his failed mission and is now contesting in Bukit Batok as a more seasoned and wiser politician. He is certainly more than a match to his PAP rival and with God's help and a sympathetic electorate may just romp in in this by-election.

A stimulating scenario will be for Dr. Lee Wei Ling, sister of PM Lee Hsien Loong with whom she is having a political spat, to come out in support of Dr. Chee Soon Juan as both are advocates of the freedom of speech. It will be a miracle if this were to come to pass and she will  forever be remembered as a national heroine. However, it is hoped that this may serve to kindle a favourable imagination in the mind of the enlightened Bukit Batok electorate.

Finally, this is a deeply earnest appeal to the Bukit Batok voters to exercise your sacred votes in favour of a candidate who will bring improvement in welfare and municipal services to your constituency and more important to act as a potent alternative voice in Parliament in matters of public interests affecting your political life and livelihood. The PAP has 83 seats in Parliament and is in a predominant position. The loss of one seat in a by-election is not going to cause any dent in its armour. If elected, Dr. Chee Soon Juan will become the most successful underdog to win a seat in Parliament.

May God bless you.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Last dance for TR Emeritus?

TR Emeritus website has since its inception been doing an exceptionally great service to Singaporeans with its cogent comprehensive coverage of political events affecting the future of Singaporeans, especially those who are not entirely convinced of the sincerity of the PAP Government in its often professed service to the people, which is more often than not sounded hollow. The main stream media, especially the Straits Times, is a PAP propaganda organ and only disseminates news in praise of the PAP Government and its ministers, especially the Prime Minister and TRE serves an important alternative role in exposing the failings of the PAP Government and its ministers whenever they occur so that Singaporeans can have a more balanced picture of the political situation.There are other websites doing similar service but TRE has proved to be more penetrating and edifying as can be seen by its more wider readership. Discerning Singaporeans are so used to TRE's scintillating presentations that it would be an unthinkable and disastrous event if any cessation of its publication is to occur.

TRE needs considerable finance to administer its sizeable website and it had in the past managed with some difficulty with revenue from its advertisements. But this has depleted with the result that the website is hardpressed in finding sufficient finance to administer it.The editor and staff of the website are all working on a voluntary basis and it would be invidious to expect them to finance it out of their own pockets. As a last resort its editor has published an appeal for donations under the heading :Last dance for TR Emeritus?

The TRE is no doubt facing financial hardship for the editor to publicly appeal for donations. It cannot be gainsaid that TRE is doing an indispensible and great service to Singaporeans by providing an important alternative channel to the intricacies of political events happening in Singapore. There will be a political vacuum which will be keenly felt if TRE suddenly ceases to publish. There will unlikely be a website of such political dynamism to fill the vacuum. We have proved that we are not wanting in making donations to a worthy cause and saving TRE from going out of existence is indeed a worthy endeavour which will do the donor proud. It is hoped that generous Singaporeans will respond kindly to this appeal and donate generously to the TRE fund. Please view the TRE article Last dance for TR Emeritus? on how to donate. They need $20,000 in order to pull through. Your generous donations will go down well in history.