Monday, August 18, 2014

Is the National Day Rally speech of the nature of a charlatan?

There had been so much hype about PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally that it was not a surprise if Singaporeans, especially the less-privileged class, had expected something spectacular to be announced by PM Lee to uplift their living and social conditions.So apart from those privileged hundreds who deemed themselves fortunate to be in the audience listening live to the PM Lee's speech, other less privileged Singaporeans numbering in their thousands were glued to their TV sets in order not to miss out the divine message from their saviour prime minister. So one could say that they had placed very lofty hopes on the prime minister's speech.

PM Lee displayed excellent oratorial skills in his Malay, Mandarin and English speeches and it cannot be gainsaid that he did not mesmerise the audience, whether genuinely or not is a matter of conjecture, but it must be remembered that it was a captive audience. Of course, frequent applause from the awe-struck audience was only to be expected and a standing ovation at the conclusion of his so-called oration was a natural corollary. It could be inferred that the captive audience had been completely impressed by PM Lee's speech and the so-called divine message it was supposed to convey.

Would it surprise PM Lee and his acolytes if there are discerning Singaporeans who are utterly unimpressed and disappointed with PM Lee's Rally speech? They feel that there is nothing new or inspiring in his speech and that it was wholly a rehash of what he and his millionaire ministers had been harping on all the time, especially his elaborations on the Lease Buyback Scheme and the CPF Minimum Sum. He had scrupulously avoided touching on other CPF issues often questioned by CPF members which have been given frequent airings by the popular blogger Roy Ngerng, since being sued by PM Lee. He had avoided explaining the difference in the interests earned by GIC from CPF investments and the 2.5 per cent given to CPF  members' ordinary account. In fact the oration sounded more like a regalement of persons and events for the entertainment of the captive audience. Since his death in 1970 ex-President Yusof Ishak is suddenly remembered and resuscitated by naming a mosque, a leading think-thank and a professorship after him to appease the disillusioned Malays.

PM Lee claims to be "flame-proof" but still that does not prevent his sidekicks from apprising him of the disparaging remarks about him and his Rally speech prevalent in the social media. It is hoped that they will at least make him a tad more wiser, if not influence him to be more people-oriented in the pursuit of his decadent policies.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The MediShield Life Conundrum

Singaporeans may realise that the biggest joke currently in vogue in town is the MediShield Life. Since its introduction with the massive efforts by PAP ministers, including the inimitable PM Lee Hsien Loong, to explain the so-called panacea to help especially finance-strapped Singaporeans, particularly the impecunious elderly, to defray their huge medical bills, the cynical joke is that very few people, especially the elderly, understand the intricacies of the over-hyped scheme. They could only apprehend with certain amount of incredibility what government leaders have told them of the benefits they would get out of MediShield Life but how they would benefit, whether financially or medically, is all Greek to them.

The smart Alec minister or ministers who so ingeniously compiled the MediShield Life scheme should be congratulated for his ingenuity in devising such an intricate scheme that has almost every rational Singaporean, young and old, baffled. It will be some kind of miracle if government leaders could ultimately unravel this so-called humanitarian puzzle to the benefit of Singaporeans, especially the elderly.

One wonders where the problem lies. Is it because government leaders have not found the knack of explaining the scheme in a language the would-be beneficiaries would find it easy to understand? Or is it because the would-be beneficiaries are so obtuse that no amount of explanation, however simple, would be comprehensible to them? Anyway, this seems to be a million-dollar question which behoves the PAP leadership to find a quick solution.

One classic example of the inexplicability of the current MediShield scheme is in the case of a well-known Chinese community leader who had a cataract operation of both eyes at the National University Hospital a few years back. He had been paying premiums for his MediShield and was therefore presumed to be covered for his cataract operation at the NUH. To his horror he was told by the NUH staff that he had to make full payment of more than $4,000 for his operation and that he could not use his MediShield account for part or full payment. He could not help but feel that he had been shortchanged by the authorities. His was not the only case as there was another elderly Chinese who had reported to the Lianhe Zaobao recently that he had a similar experience.

The Pioneer Generation Package, like the MediShield Life, is another PAP grandiose scheme designed to win over the electorate in the next general election in 2016. The MediShield Life Review Committee's report may or may not make any significant clarification to the intricacies of MediShield Life.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Diminutive David vs the Mighty Goliath

A diminutive David versus the mighty Goliath. This is an apt description of the defamation suit that the hubristic PM Lee Hsien Loong has taken out against the intransigent blogger Roy Ngerng for allegedly accusing him of misappropriating CPF monies. The plaintiff is the powerful and affluent prime minister who can be portrayed as the mighty Goliath. The defendant is aptly portrayed as the diminutive David who shows admirable determination as a giant killer. He is a former patient co-ordinator who has been questionably dismissed by his employer theTan Tock Seng Hospital arising out of the defamation suit against him.

It is a well-known fact that no opposition politician, or for that matter any individual or company, has ever won  a defamation suit brought by the PAP Government or its leaders in Singapore. A very notable example is the pathetic experience of the late Workers' Party chief J.B.  Jeyaretnam who was sued into bankruptcy by the vindictive Lee Kuan Yew for defamation. It would be a miracle for Roy Ngerng to try to win the defamation suit by PM Lee in Singapore. In this case it would be most unlikely for the diminutive David to kill the mighty Goliath.

PM Lee may claim himself to be "flame-proof" but he can only disregard the overwhelming public opinion in support of Roy Ngerng at his own peril. Roy Ngerng has already openly apologised to PM Lee and withdrawn the offending post. He has within the limit of his financial ability offered to pay $5,000 as damages but this has been rejected by PM Lee as "derisory". In fact with his colossal wealth, PM Lee could show magnanimity by accepting the $5,000 as token damages which would have endeared him to the public. However, this did not take into account the vicious gene of his notorious father who would have no compunction in bankrupting his political opponent by defamation suit. The credible amount of money that Roy Ngerng has been able to raise in his appeal to the public may only be sufficient for him to defray his legal expenses and unfortunately he will have to face the fate of bankruptcy if the amount of damages demanded by PM Lee is astronomical.

However, this could be a Pyrrhic victory for PM Lee. He will win the defamation suit against Roy Ngerng, that's for sure. He might gain legally and financially which could be meaningless but the erosion of his leadership and his party that follows will have a telling effect of his party's chances at the next general election in 2016. PM Lee has unwittingly made the hitherto little known Roy Ngerng into something of a hero by his imprudent action of taking out his defamation suit against Roy. There is a Chinese saying: What is gained cannot indemnify the loss.(得不償失).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Paper Tiger or a Pugnacious Prime Minister?

In the Parliamentary encounter between PM Lee Hsien Loong and the Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang, it was obvious that PM Lee was trying to use his more formidable prime minister position to overwhelm and in the process humiliate Mr. Low. But little did PM Lee realise that he had underestimated the pugnacity of Mr. Low who had been able to put up a sterling resistance to each and every one of his ineffectual attempt to put Mr. Low in a fluster.

Every time PM Lee questioned Mr. Low about the so-called lapses of the WP on political issues such as the Population White Paper, he had expected Mr. Low to crumble and not be able to provide a rational defence of the WP's stand on the issue. Credit must be given to Mr. Low for his quick and nimble retorts which must have baffled the conceited PM Lee of Mr. Low's leadership quality as chief of the WP whose eloquence can easily match that of the Cambridge-trained PM Lee. It was obvious that as the debate progressed PM Lee found to his dismay that he could not outsmart the astute Mr. Low and he ended by alluding to WP in having to call a spade a spade, a clear indication of his frustration, especially his failure to corner Mr. Low to concede that WP had flip-flopped over the Population White Paer debate.

It was an intellectual tussle delightful to watch if it were not for the belligerent and intimidating style of the inexorable PM Lee in presenting his arguments which may give credence to Mr. Low's assertion of a PAP bullying political culture. PM Lee could be imagining himself to be a ravaging tiger waiting to pounce on an unwary prey which to his utter horror turned out to  be a ferocious lion. PM Lee could have adopted a more humorous and humane style which could have won him more sympathy from the audience. He claimed himself to be "flame-proof".

Can the WP be faulted for its apparent perfunctory attitude towards the President's Address outlining the PAP programme? The answer probably lies in the perception of Singaporeans on the status of the present minority President. But the WP is not disrespectful to the President, his shortcoming notwithstanding.

As an independent political party with a considerable representation in Parliament, the WP is entitled to interpret its version of constructive politics and it is really up to the electorate to say whether it is credible and acceptable. So there is really no need for PM Lee to be so worked up to denigrate the WP for its position on this issue unless it is done purely to score a political point. It would be better for his public image if PM Lee curbs his impetuosity to fix the opposition, especially the so-called recalcitrant WP leaders, even if they are a threat to PAP's ambitions in GE 2016.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A PAP Comic Opera

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang is to be highly congratulated for his chivalrous performance against the arrogant PAP in Parliament. He displayed a seldom seen fiery spirit in portraying the PAP as a government party using high-handed tactics against its political opponents as a bullying politicial culture. He asserted that if the government uses "differentiating measures" to punish those who voted for the opposition, it would breed a culture of divisive politics.

There is no doubt that Mr. Low has hit the nail on the head. The response was a disconcerted scramble by the leading PAP jesters falling over one another to attempt to vindicate an untenable factual situation. It is an irony that PAP MP Indranee Rajah could stoop to quote an old issue which is now academic that Workers' Party (WP) had given out contracts worth millions to its supporters without going through a tender, about which the WP had satisfactorily exonerated itself, in support of her argument against the WP. If this is an unpardonable sin of the WP, then would it not be a greater sin for the PAP to sell off a whole computer system of the Aljunied Town Council to a PAP-owned $3 company for a song? It seems more like an ad hominem attack.

Was Mr. Low making a wild allegation that PAP was pursuing a bullying political culture? The most glaring is the recent case of the unfortunate public-spirited blogger Roy Ngerng coming to grief with the inexorable PM Lee Hsien Loong over his blogpost on the CPF account which PM Lee has claimed to be libellous. Roy Ngerng did not accuse PM Lee of misappropriating CPF funds in so many words but this is for the court to decide. The crux of the article is that the PAP Government takes over our CPF to invest in GIC and Temasek Holdings to earn 6.5% to 16% but returns us only 2.5% to 4% in our CPF but neither PM Lee nor any other PAP leader has found it necessary to give an appropriate answer.

PAP is the government and commands the majority in Parliament. If it pursues a bullying political culture, there is nothing the WP or any other opposition political party can do to rectify the situation. The PAP has suffered a set-back in the last general election in 2011 and it is now determined to retrieve the unfavourable political situation in GE 2016. So PM Lee and his side-kicks suddenly became uber-ebullient overnight in introducing political and social benefits to ameliorate the livelihood and well-being of the electorate, especially the underclass, to pave the way for the PAP to regain their prowess in GE 2016. The so-called Pioneer Generation Package is a typical example. The wheel of history only moves forward and for it to move backwards for the PAP will have the historians flabbergasted. The Singapore electorate are now more discerning and will know how to cast their votes.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A MediaCorp Caricature Presentation of the Laju Saga

Out of curiosity I watched the Days of Rage programme on channel 8 last night which was supposed to present the much-hyped Laju Saga in an objective light. I missed the English version of the programme when it was telecast earlier. After viewing the programme, to say that I was left in a state of shock is to put it mildly at the brazen self-glorification of their roles in the Laju Saga by some of the characters in the narrative.

To begin with the bomb attack on the Shell Oil Refinery in Pulau Bukom by four terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Japanese Red Army (JRA) and the subsequent hijacking of the ferry boat "Laju" with its crew were clearly terrorist activities which came under the jurisdiction of the Internal Security Department (ISD). The MediaCorp programme showed unmistakeably that the first report of the incident was made to SR Nathan who was the director of intelligence and had no jurisdiction over terrorist activities within Singapore. So the director of ISD was non-existent whoever wrote the script and whether this was claimed by SR Nathan in the script is significant.

SR Nathan was director of intelligence, the Singapore miniature equivalence of the British MI6 which deals more with spying. How on earth the MediaCorp can portray him so prominently in dealing with the Laju terrorists is mind-boggling, to say the least. And could this be something he presented to the script-writer? There is nothing wrong in wanting self-glorification but how would one describe it if it is done at the expense of riding roughshod over other well-deserving individuals? Would abject disgust be a reasonable description? Many of the roles which he had been portrayed by MediaCorp could be questionable. Of course there was no question that he had been appointed by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to lead the team of Singapore officers to escort the Laju terrorists to Kuwait on 8 February 1974. And again there was a story about the appointment as the director ISD and his permanent secretary were having deep personal animosity.

The role of the then officer-in-charge of the Marine Police DSP Tee Tua Bah in handling the Laju terrorists had also been over-hyped by MediaCorp. The Marine Police is like other normal police divisions which deal with routine police and criminal matters and had hardly the expertise of dealing with terrorists. The Laju hijack happened in Singapore waters and quite rightly came within the jurisdiction of the Marine Police in the normal way. Had the MediaCorp interviewed former ISD officers, who were the rightful investigators in terrorism, as to what roles they had played in dealing with the Laju terrorists? Their daily appearance in their negotiations with the terrorists at the scene could not have been figment of imagination in the script-writer's mind?

One would have expected the MediaCorp to have more commonsense and humanistic consideration when writing out a script for a narrative, especially one like the Laju Saga. Had it not occurred to the MediaCorp to carry out a more comprehensive interview covering all the parties involved before composing the script? In the Laju Saga it is obvious that important parties had been left out for whatever reason best known to MediaCorp.

If it is not too much of a loss of face or a blemish on its pride, the MediaCorp should have the civility of sending a letter of apology to ISD for belittling its role in the Laju Saga.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Slap in the Face or a Smack on the Wrist?

People in and out of Singapore were quite intrigued recently by the no-show display of both Chinese leaders President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang when they by-passed Singapore in their visits to South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam before attending summit meetings in the region.Since Indonesia and Malaysia are so close to Singapore (一水之隔), one would expect that it was a matter of utmost courtesy for the two top Chinese leaders to include Singapore in their itinerary unless it was intended as some kind of a snub for whatever reason. To add to the conundrum, neither the Chinese leaders nor the thoughtful Singapore Government  thought it necessary to enlighten the people , both in and out of Singapore. So it was allowed to continue to be enigmatic and Singaporeans cannot be faulted if they were found to indulge themselves in trying to find a plausible and credible reason for the apparent display of discourtesy by the two top Chinese leaders.

It will not be inappropriate to recall that our comical PM Lee Hsien Loong had in his inimitable way insulted the Chinese by his brilliant diplomatic display during his visit to the United States of America at a dinner given in his honour by the American business community in April this year. He told the august American audience that in Shanghai when one turned on the tap one could get pork soup, a sarcastic allusion to the massive pig carcasses found floating in a river in China. Next he said sarcastically that one could get free smoke when one opened the window in China, an allusion to the severe air pollution in China. He thought it was funny but the Chinese were not amused and could only consider it a sick joke aimed at humiliating them, considering the standing of the American audience. It could  just be possible that the Chinese leaders have not forgotten nor forgiven PM Lee for his insult and the skipping of Singapore from their itinerary is just a way of showing their disgust.

It may or may not be a valid assumption. Some political analysts were reported by the Lianhe Zaobao today (21 Oct) to say that the skipping of Singapore from their itinerary by the two Chinese leaders did not mean that the position of Singapore could not be compared with other countries in the eyes of the Chinese. They cited the visit in October of the Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli to Singapore as one reason for the two Chinese leaders to skip Singapore as it was not considered consistent with diplomatic practice for more than one high-level leader to visit the same country within a short period. Frequent mutual visits of high-level Singapore and Chinese leaders were said to be another possible reason. So was the visit in August to China by PM Lee who met President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang . Until we get a clarification from the two Chinese leaders which may never come Singaporeans are left with no viable alternative but to determine from what is known about PM Lee's insult and the theory advanced by the political analysts. PM Lee would not be able to know if his insult is still the determining factor in the mind of the two top Chinese leaders.