Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prominent controveral leftist of the fifties Lim Chin Siong

There is a prominent news item in the Lianhe Zaobao today on the establishment of a
historical section in the National Museum of Singapore to commemorate Mr. Lim Chin Siong,
a controversial leftist hero of the fifties.

Not many people of the present generation are familiar with this name. His name was a
household name in Singapore in the fifties even before Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had become
slightly known. Mr. Lim emerged from obscurity in 1953 to become the unchallenged leader
of the pro-communist movement aimed at overthrowing first the British colonial government,
after that the David Marshall and Lim Yew Hock governments.

Mr. Lim was secretary-general of the massive Singapore Factory & Shop Workers' Union
with is headquarters in Middle Road which became the nerve centre for anti-government
activities. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was legal adviser to this and many other unions under Mr. Lim's
control. Mr. Lee had lofty political ambitions but he lacked the mass base necessary for the
realisation of such ambitions. Mr. Lim chin Siong had the mass base. Mr. Lee recognised
this and he shrewdly hanged on to Mr. Lim for mass support.

Mr. Lim was a charismatic pro-communist leader and was able to hold his audience spellbound
with his consummate Hokkien at mass rallies organised by the Communist United Front (CUF).
When he entered the Happy World Stadium where CUF rallies were held, Mr. Lim was
invariably greeted by a standing ovation. Mr. Lee used to tag along and could not have missed
the overwhelming response Mr. Lim received.

After Mr. Lim was detained in October, 1956, Mr. Lee very cleverly portrayed himself as a
champion of workers to try to fill the vacuum left behind by Mr. Lim's detention. And I must say
he succeeded to a certain extent. It is true to say that it it had not been for the mass support
from Mr. Lim Chin Siong, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's path to the prime ministership in May, 1959
might not have been that smooth sailing.

Mr. Lim Chin Siong was released from detention following the PAP's victory in the general
election in May,1959. He enjoyed his freedom for a few years but could not refrain from going
back to his old ways by being involved in CUF activities, especially in opposition to the
formation of Malaysia. He was again detained in February,1963 in a security operation
code-named "Coldstore". He was released in 1969 and resigned from the Barisan Solialis.
He proceeded with his family to UK for study and returned to Singapore in 1979. He kept a
very low profile and succumbed to a heart attack in February, 1996 at the age of 62.

He was a personable pro-communist leader who, it cannot be denied, contributed immensely
to the history of Singapore and it is appropriate for the National Museum to commemorate
Mr. Lim Chin Siong.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mr. Wong Kan Seng's convolution

The name Wong Kan Seng translated phonetically in Cantonese means certain to succeed. But
three confidence-shaking events this year which rocked public confidence in his administration
of his ministry are hardly a denotation of success.

First, the Houdini-style disappearance of Singapore Jemaah Islamiah leader Mas Selamat bin
Kastari from the security-tight ISD detention centre on 27-2-08 was the subject of prolonged
public controversy on the strict adherence of protocol in the administration of the centre which
afforded an opportunity for Mas Selamat's mysterious flight from the centre. Mas Selamat's
present whereabouts are the subject of much speculation. Meanwhile, security at the ISD
detention centre has been tightened to prevent a recurrence of the Mas Selamat fiasco.

Hardly had the furore over the Mas Selamat saga subsided, the public was shaken a second
time by another escape this month, this time by two remand prisoners who broke out of the
subordinate court lock-up and made an attempt to flee. They were fortunately promptly
recaptured. Again it was discovered that protocol of the lock-up was not strictly adhered to
which showed clearly that lesson from the Mas Selamat saga had not been learned.

True to the saying that trouble never comes singly, the public was again shaken by this morning's news that the much-vaunted Home Team had committed another booboo by
allowing a Singaporean to pass through allo the security checks at the airport armed
mistakingly with his son's passport who landed safely at Ho Chi Minh airport after a smooth
air journey. DPM Wong Kan Seng was naturally livid and appalled at this gross and inexcusable
slip-up and promised to punish the officer or officers responsible for this booboo.

There is a Chinese saying that there will be a third escape saga following the two earlier
incidents - that of Mas Selamat and the subordinate court lock-up. Well, Mr. Wong Kan Seng
should now be at his wit's end trying to think of a way to pre-empt such a possibility as
otherwise the public might want to know if he justifies his whopping $2 millions annual
salary with all the booboos happening under his watch.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mr. Lim Swee Say's regalement.

From time to time we are regaled with amusing tales to assuage the possible fall-out from any
new measures introduced by the government ostensibly for the benefits of the public, in this
case the ERP increases.

Mr. Lim Swee Say was reported in the Straits Times of 23-6-08 to have drawn laughter from
his audience in his two hour dialogue to his driving experience of getting car beeps four to six
times a day when he passed through ERP gantries on his way to and from work. The audience
would have laughed differently if they had realised that the minister was a person of vast
affluence drawing a whopping salary of over $1 million a year . Anyone with that kind of
affluence can well afford to be generous with not only four to six times car beeps a day but
many times more. The wealthy car-owners are not grousing about the ERP increases
including of course the honourable minister Lim. It is the run-of-the-mill type of car-owners,
the wage earners and the small time businessman, who will feel the pinch.

While Mr. Lim drives merrily through the ERP gantries without a care and hardly a dent on his

vast affluence, the social side effect that could arise out of the ERP ib-ncreases may have escaped his alert mind. In order to avoid the ERP gantries, the ordinary car-owners may
start to leave home early and return late. This may bring about a disruption of their social
lives which may have possible serious consequences to our population policy in that there may
be less tendency to procreate because there is neither the time nor the energy to engage in
such endeavour any more.

Mr. Lim and his fellow ministers should try to put themselves in the shoes of the ordinary
car-owners to empathise with them

Sunday, June 22, 2008

ERP increases

The recent ERP increases are indeed a boon to motorists, from the government angle. The
government does not introduce new measures that are not in the public interest. The
beneficiaries in this case are the motorists.

The ERP increases are ostensibly designed to improve traffic flow to the extent that it is
expected to relieve the motorists of the anguish of being caught in slow-moving traffic at the
same time relieving them of a sizeable amount of their hard-earned money. The affluent motorists
of course take this in their stride. The public is asked to disregard the widely-held belief that
this is a source of limitless fund for the already well-funded coffers. What is the government
going to do with this largesse forked out by the car-owners? Well, wait for the keenly-awaited
announcement by the government financial prophet at the auspicious time.

Car-owners are paying whopping prices from their hard-earned income for their cars surely
not to leave them at home to take the MRT or the buses to work, as exhorted by the
government. It takes great incentives to get the down-to-earth car owners to make such a
sacrifice. What kind of logic is this which the car-owners, even the logic academic, will find hard
to comprehend?

This will not be the last increases. Brace yourselves for more exciting announcement by the
eminent minister. As to when will certainly not be at the whim of the no-nonsense minister.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's loss of speech

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's apparent loss of speech in cross-examination by Dr. Chee Soon Juan,
secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, if true, is really hilarious. It does bear
a remarkable resemblance to the parable of David and Goliath. Dr.Chee, his unhinged image
notwithstanding, has the making of a kingslayer.

Our independent press was exemplary in considering that this item was not in the public
interest to be published. We are indeed fortunate to have an independent press that decides
what we should or should not see which is said to be conducive to the building of a democratic

Friday, June 20, 2008

Singapore pensioners' plight

Do you know that some of the government pensioners who retired in the early seventies in the
last century are drawing a miserable monthly pension of $400 of less, almost the same amount
as those on public assistance. And incredulously, a former finance minister said some years back
that that should be enough for them as the government considered they had served their
usefulness and was now waiting for them to die. This was said to some representatives of the
Singapore Government Pensioners Association who sought his help in getting some increase in
their meagre pension. The eminent minister was not callous but was only kind in a bizarre way.
He could have belonged to a coterie of so-called benevolent personae who believed in being
cruel first before trying to be benevolent.

While government ministers have awarded themselves whopping pay increases out of taxpayers'
money, thay are so scrupulous in thinking that the same taxpayers' money cannot be humanely
used for the upliftment of the dire straits of these pensioners. They gave the lame excuse that
they are precluded by law to increase the pension. As the Chinese say laws are man-made and
are not insurmountable. When the former prime minister wanted the dismantle the jury
system, the law was not an obstacle.

The irony of it all is that Malaysia, which is considered to be not on a par with Singapore
politically, is more advance in looking after its pensioners. Their pensioners' spouses continue
to enjoy pensions and other benefits upon the death of the pensioners and their pensions are
adjusted regularly according to the cost of living.