Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hanky-panky in Hourly-rate Hotels

The question and answer session in Parliament day before yesterday (14-9-09) on the need to pre-empt so-called illegal activities in hourly-rate hotels provided much amusement in that Senior Minister of State S. Iswaran seemed to be baffled himself in describing as "illegal activities" the government was trying to prevent in these hotels.

It is common knowledge that these hourly-rate hotels are popular and convenient tryst venues for foreign maids and their foreign paramours as well as for local illicit lovers. These hotels serve their purpose from economical point of view in addition to minimising their chances of being discovered. This aspect of the hotel business is quite brisk and brings in not an insubstantial amount of revenue to the hotels.

So where are these foreign and local lovebirds going to for their trysts if this avenue is denied them? Where there is a will there is always a way. Is this hanky-panky of such a magnitude that you need a sledge-hammer to curb it? This is a problem that is common in all the big cities of the world and they seem to be able to take it in their stride. Is Singapore trying to portray itself as a city of saints? Even saints go for an occasional amorous pursuit. There are also examples of Catholic paedophilic priests. Perhaps the Senior Minister of State may care to clarify what "illegal activities" exactly he has in mind.

Are there other nefarious activities that the Senior Minister of State thinks need curbing in these hourly-rate hotels and for the installtion of cctv to identify the perpetrators. Since when did these so-called illegal activities become a problem attributable to the hourly-rate system?

Singaporeans are a pragmatic people and to them hanky-panky is at worst a moral issue hardly deemed illegal. So they are curious to know what "illegal activities" are carried out in these hourly-rate hotels which cannot be carried out more safely elsewhere. Just like in the Temasek saga concerning the sudden departure of its CEO-designate, the government can elect to remain uncommunicative in the present case which would, not surprisingly, show its apathy to public opinion. The attitude is it is for your own good to know only what the government wants you to know. As the late American President Abraham Lincoln once said: You can bluff some of the people some of the time. The Chinese say that the eyes of the people are "ice-clear" and can see through any deviousness. There is also the Chinese saying: You do what is required of you.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Manifestation of Realism

Will there come a time in the future when a credible oppostion takes over power in Singapore? The honourable Minister Mentor has always pooh-pooh this possibility. During a dialogue session at the fifth anniversary dinner of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy last night, he was jolted back to reality by the renowned author Ms Catherine Lim (whom he feigned not to recognise at first) who posed him the question: "In the event of a serious threat of a freak election, would you do the unthinkable, that is, send in the army?" His answer, as given in the Chinese press, was (perhaps not with tongue-in-cheek)" if we lost the electors' mandate, we will respect the election result and hand over the political power."

The almighty MM Lee was on this occasion more down-to-earth and was now more worried rather than sceptical that a credible opposition could come in maybe not in the next general election, but after. He gave a few scenarios including one where they were not able to find a team which can equal an opposition team or if they become corrupt, inefficient and cannot deliver.

What is it that has caused this fundamental mental transformation in the normally dogmatic Minister Mentor? The world is in a perpetual change and Singapore is part of this world. (The Book of Change: i jing). The epoch-making political events in our neighbouring country cannot be without influence on our young voters and this phenomenon cannot escape the astute mind of MM Lee and PAP leaders. The recent so-called fraternal visit by MM Lee to Malaysia could not have been strictly for social intercourse as such. Not so much the worry of the Malay Supremacy posture of UMNO activists spilling into Singapore but of more concern to MM Lee and his PAP colleagues are the robust opposition politics which could have a catalytic effect on the young voters of Singapore.

Is MM Lee of the certainty of mind that Singapore's young voters are satisfied with the status quo? His diffident exposition of the Singapore political landscape of the future at the anniversay dinner dialogue does not convey the confidence. He could have been having this gnawing feeling of political uneasiness for some time and is not something he suddenly becomes awakened to. So it is a irrevocable fact that the young voters, even more mature ones, are looking for more dynamism in an equalitarian policy that reaches out to all strata of our society. They are not totally disillusioned with the present PAP leadership, not by any stretch of imagination, but it is human nature just to want to see some political change. The wheel of history moves relentlessly on. This is the reason a daunting MM Lee cast a pall of sombreness on the destiny of the PAP. The change may not happen in the lifetime of the more senior citizens but, as sure as the sun rises in the east, it is going to happen in the near or distant future.