Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Farewell to a Matriarch

MM Lee Kuan Yew's wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, had been bedridden for the past two years in a vegetative state and her passing last Saturday came as no surprise. Perhaps God is benevolent in releasing her from her suffering. It must be a very painful experience to MM Lee who is known to be a very loving and caring husband. But then parting is an inevitable life journey. We extend our deepest condolences to MM Lee and his family and to PM Lee Hsien Loong for the loss of his beloved mother.

As a respect of Mrs Lee's sublime character, her humility and her flawless reputation as a dutiful wife and mother, the tributes for her that keep pouring in from local and foreign dignitaries reflect her popularity and dignity. But on such a solemn bereavement of an august figure, there is always the danger of some newspapers going overboard in their adulatory expressions of extolment of the late Mrs Lee which could probably cause her to turn in her grave.

Some newspapers described her as the First Lady. The title is reserved for the wife of a President and Mrs Lee is the wife of a former Prime Minister. The Lianhe Wanbao described her as the "Mother of a Country"(母仪天下). In Chinese the title c ould only be used by an Empress of ancient China. Is the Lianhe Wanbao trying to say that Mrs. Lee is an Empress and by extension MM Lee an Emperor? The competency of the newspaper writer is questionable and for a newspaper of its reputation, making such a crass mistake is unacceptable. The Lianhe Zaobao is on the other hand more rational is describing Mrs Lee as the "Eternalised Mother Model" (母仪足式,懿范长存)。

The Chinese press described Mrs Lee, who was always dressed in cheongsam with short hairdo, as an epitome of Chinese femininism. But the only flaw is that she is a peranakan and was almost non-literate in Chinese. The consensus is that the late First Lady Mrs Ong Teng Cheong more fitted the bill. Mrs Ong's Chinese educational background and her upbringing in a poor Chinese family made her a more unanimous choice as a Cheongsam First Lady. Her cheongsams were usually decorated with orchid motifs and replicas of her cheongsams were sold in renowned boutiques. However this should not detract from Mrs Lee's intrinsic display of the Chineseness in her and the enthusiasm of the Chinese press in portraying her distinct Chineseness should not be faulted.

The late President Ong Teng Cheong was in every respect a People's President but unfortunately his forthrightness in insisting to look into Singapore's reserves brought him into dissension with the PAP Government of the day. By right the late President Ong deserved and should have been given a state funeral upon his death when even lesser dignitaries were given such honours. Even today PAP leaders may still be fuming over the late President Ong's so-called brazenness. Does it show the magnanimity of the PAP leaders? The late President Ong was at one time a PAP leader himself.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A critique of MM Lee Kuan Yew's interview

There is a Chinese saying:When a person is about to die, his/her words are kind (人之将死,其言也善)。

What does one make of the MM Lee Kuan Yew's interview with The New York Times' Seth Mydans coming just before his 87th birthday? Was it the ramble of a man on whom the above Chinese saying is a prophetic indicator? There was an absence of his usual pompous and bombastic style as he narrated his life experiences and philosophy to his astute interviewer.

As expected the public reactions are mixed. There are some who are nostalgic of the so-called progress and prosperity Lee Kuan Yew was supposed to have brought to Singapore. These are the ones who see only the angel in him and are prepared to overlook his iniquities. The number could be quite considerable but not the netizens.

Then there are those who hold contrary views, some very vitriolic. There was an acrimonious critic who sent a very caustic open letter via his email from overseas which is believed to be widely distributed and pulled no punches in his ferocious assailment of Lee Kuan Yew arising out of his New York Times interview. Quite co-incidentally, he also predicted that Lee Kuan Yew was nearing his death judging by the interview he gave. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was not spared the critic's venom who described his appointment as Prime Minister as a design by his father to perpetuate a dynasty. He predicted that PM Lee would find himself rudderless once his father, who acts as his eminence grise, was gone.

What is MM Lee's motive in telling the public about his so-called attentive care of his wife when she is already in a vegetative state? Is he trying to gain public sympathy for his so-called spousal plight? Madam Kwa Geok Choo, to all intents and purposes, is no longer in a position to respond to any human stimulation in any form and his so-called affectionate consolatory whispers to her every night stretch the imagination. MM Lee probably wants people to remember him as a deeply affectionate husband and gentleman. Does he realise that there are people who wonder why he is prolonging the sufferings of a wife in her present vegetative state with no hope of resuscitation? Would not that be more cruel than to allow her soul to be released? Somehow it does not seem compos mentis for MM Lee to leave his wife in her vegetative state and go jetting around to places, like Paris for example, ostensibly to conduct business of the State, including mesmerising gullible world audienses with his pearls of wisdom.

There was a momentary display of compunction when MM Lee admitted that he was not saying that everything he did was right but then he qualified it by saying that everything he did was for an honourable purpose without elaborating. The word honourable here is very subjective. He dismissed criticisms by Western reporters as rubbish and added that they were not the ones who may write the obituaries offering the final verdict on his actions. He concluded by quoting a Chinese proverb:Do not judge a man until his coffin is closed (盖棺定论).

It is appropriate here to reproduce a quote by a Lee Kuan Yew aficionado: Will his name be etched in the hallowed halls of pantheons or a fallen sufferer of hubristic iconoclasm.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Is this an impetuous or knee-jerk reaction?

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) had already decided to stop its shuttle bus services to the heartland areas at 11 pm on Sunday 12-9-10 and the directive from the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) for both the RWS and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to stop their services abruptly in the early Friday afternoon is mind-boggling. The decision appeared to have been made impetuously by the CRA as it gives the public the impression of fluster at the top (including the MCYS Minister) over what adverse effect this problem could have on the PAP's election prospects if left doing nothing about it. There was apparently no thinking through on what consequences such abrupt stoppage of the shuttle services could have on the heartlanders, the bus operators and the fate of the hundreds of staff (including drivers) who will become jobless. Almost all the buses were newly bought with banking loans and the owners are now in a fix as to what to do with their buses and how they are going to service their loans.

Long before RWS was opened, the company had already planned to include shuttle bus services to the IR. This was with a view to encouraging car owners to use the shuttle services to the IR, thus not contributing to traffic congestion. The other objective is to provide free transport services to heartlander families to visit the IR as a form of requittal to society. There are amenities like the Universal Studios theme park, numerous shops and food outlets in RWS for the enjoyment of the families. They make it a family outing taking advantage of the convenience of the shuttle bus services. Now a so-called benevolent government has with a stroke of the pen deprived these deserving families of the enjoyment of the attractive amenities in RWS. Does the PAP government believe that such impetuous action will endear it to these families?

Is it logical to contend that prospective gamblers would take advantage of the free shuttle bus services to visit the casinos which would save them only a few dollars when a hefty $100 entry fee does not present any deterrence? They would still be visiting the casinos even without the free shuttle bus services. So just because of some misplaced notion on the part of the relevant authorities, heartlanders are deprived of the means of bringing their families on enjoyable outings to RWS.

Perhaps it may occur to our enterprising functionaries that depriving would-be gamblers of the free means of trnasport would not deter them from visiting casinos. There are already measures in place such as education to rehabilitate Singaporean gamblers to get them to eschew their gambling habits. Maybe the answer is to re-inforce these measures with more innovative ideas and not to look for fall guys to justify some bizarre action. Anyway, inveterate gamblers are a lost cause.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rambling Thought

From time to time we get to see retired prime ministers making pompous pronouncements to justify the sinecures they presently occupy. So it should not come as a surprise when Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong made what he called his momentous pronouncement that "we're victims of our own success". He said Singaporeans were constantly belly-aching about carpark. housing, crowded public transport and so on. He urged Singaporeans (probably with tongue-in-cheek) to put their woes in perspective and think of the poor.

Indeed, are we the victims of our own success? We ask SM Goh to so some soul-searching and say candidly if we are not instead the victims of so-called PAP success. Any right-thinking Singaporean will know that our housing, unemployment and public transport woes are the result of mismanagement of its immigration policy by the PAP government. The unrestrained influx of immigrants from China and India is accepted as the cause of the rising prices of HDB housing, the overcrowding in the MRT and buses and the deprivation of jobs to Singaporeans. There are still extensive caustic criticisms of the Prime Minister's National Day Rally speech although he tried very hard to appease Singaporeans on the government's indiscriminate immigration policy. So what logic is SM Goh using in trying to attribute these woes as "victim of our success"? Singaporeans are not as naive or daft as he tries to make them out to be.

Recently SM Goh coined a new 5 C's namely career, comfort, children, considerateness and charity and urged Singaporeans to adopt them in place of the original 5 C's which included condominium, cars and credit-cards. There have been comments that SM Goh was not far-sighted enough and had overlooked an equally important but detractive 5-Cs namely conceit, covetousness, cunning, cowardice and contemptibility which he should consider urging Singaporeans to avoid.

There is reason for these commentators to coin this 5 C's for avoidance. It would not be wrong to say that Singaporeans were sometimes referred to as "Ugly Singaporeans" by foreigners abroad, and probably here.This could not have nothing to do with the obnoxious behaviour of some pompous Singaporeans who were pushy and brazen when overseas. They were more confined to the elite or well-heeled class who would unabashedly flaunt either their expertise or their opulence to an unreceptive audience. Of course we have not descended to the level of the "Ugly Americans" but this should not be taken as a source of pride considering the connotation of the disparaging term. Does not SM Goh consider this novel 5 C's proposed by the commentators as something worthy of adoption by Singaporeans? If nothing else, it will have the effect in the long run of retrieving the reputation of Singaporeans.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is the MCYS Minister showing his fangs?

The Straits Times, the government propaganda mouthpiece, as expected, has been giving glowing news coverage to the Youth Olympic Games(YOG). But true to its colour, it chose to withhold incidents of inferior food supply to the thousands of volunteers and consequent food poisoning among some of them from its reporting. The netizen world is full of caustic criticisms of these incidents and has accused the MCYS Minister of "callous" treatment of the volunteers. There were even pictures showing what the netizens called "dog food" consisting of a small piece of unpalatable looking bland meat with six small pieces of long bean with some rice. These criticisms could not have escaped the delayed attention of the MCYS Minister who, no doubt apart from rectifying the inferior food, showed a hypocritical performance by heaping praises on the hapless volunteers in an attempt to make amends for his "callous" treatment.

The netizen world is full of reports of poor spectator attendances and of school children being coerced to attend the games to make up for the poor spectator crowd. 80,000 tickets have been allotted to schools, but apparently these were not gratis and students were made to fork out money for the tickets. Very cunningly, the Straits Times chose not to highlight these glaring imperfections in its reporting, no doubt done with an ulterior motive.

Just imagine with the plethora of caustic criticisms by netizens, with none pulling their punches, on the YOG is added the vitriolic comment by a fiery netizen in the person of Abdul Malik Mohammed Ghazali who posted on a Facebook group on August l8 that it was time to "burn Vivian Balakrishnan and the PAP". It appeared to be more violent than other netizen postings on the subject but there is no reason to believe that it was not said by Abdul Malik in a metaphorical sense.

There is no doubt that Minister Vivian Balakrishnan took umbrage to this personal attack on him and as a result the police swooped on Abdul Malik, arresting him for "incitement of
violence". As soon as news of Abdul Malik's arrest got out, the netizen world responded with extensive vitriolic criticisms against the arrest and blamed Dr Balakrishnan for the police action. The MCYS Minister has not spoken and if it is true that he is responsible for the police action, then it would be wise for him to remedy the situation, unless he disregards netizen criticisms and considers netizens not part of the polity. After all the offence is, to all intents and purposes, technical and why picked on Abdul Malik to put him through the rigmarole of a court prosecution when other similar-minded inimical netizens abound. Or could it not be the MCYS Minister's unwholesome intention of making an example of Abdul Malik, hoping thereby to put a stop to the belligerent action of the netizens?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Mind-boggling National Day Award

It will not be an exaggeration to say that Singaporeans woke up today to the mind-boggling news of the National Day award of the Distinguished Service Order to the Chairman, PUB Mr. Tan Gee Paw ostensibly for solving Singapore's perennial flood problems. Singaporeans cannot be faulted for not believing that the DSO could be awarded to Mr. Tan at this time for flood taming when the recent deluge disasters in Orchard Road and elsewhere are still fresh in their mind. Can there be a more dense and insensitive Cabinet led by an equally sensitive Prime Minister to bestow this DSO award at this time when Singaporeans are still strongly outraged by the inept handling of the recent floods by the Singapore leaders, in particular the PUB.

There may be merit in awarding the DSO to Mr. Tan but what Singaporeans cannot understand is why at this inauspicious moment? There is in fact no hurry in making the award after Mr. Tan has been able to tackle the flood situation successfully. Mr. Tan will feel more honoured if the award is made at the right time instead of which he is attracting more strictures than honour by this award now. The amount of snide remarks one hears in the public will testify to this. It makes Singapore a laughing-stock.

There was a renowned Chinese Xia Yu (夏禹)in BC 2000 China who became world-renowned for taming the flooding problem of the Yellow River, which was the perennial bane of China. No proper description could be found to portray the immense destructions it had caused to the country. Xia Yu tackled the problem for thirteen years without even entering his house to see his family when he passed by three times. (夏禹治水,三过家门而不入). Such was his single-mindedness and dedication in carrying out his task. For his success in his monumental task in solving the Yellow River flood problem he was subsequently elevated to be the first emperor of the Xia Dynasty. In the Singapore context perhaps Mr. Tan Gee Paw may find himself elevated (or elected) to the post of President by a gullible cabinet if he is successful in taming the flood problem in Singapore.

Singaporeans who have been following political events in Japan will pooh-pooh the highfalutin MM Lee Kuan Yew's ranting that no engineer of international standing will be able to solve the flooding problem of Singapore which he haughtily dismissed as an Act of God. He now puts the blame on God, a very God-loving man. Is the omniscient MM Lee aware of the recent internet posting which highlighted the magnificient engineering feat of the Japanese engineers in defeating the flooding problem in Tokyo? They call it the G-can system. Perhaps the bombastic MM Lee may for once be humble enough to sit at the feet of the Japanese engineers to seek their expertise in tackling the flooding problem in Singapore. When the late David Marshall could humble himself by sitting at the feet of the late Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru to seek political wisdom, surely there can be no lack of humility on the part of M Lee to do the same before the Japanese for a sublime noble cause.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Redeeming Feature of the PAP Government

As outraged netizens it is quite natural to vent our wraths on the arrogant PAP government from time to time for the innumerable injustices by it. It is equally natural for the government to promote an international benevolent feature in order to divert some of the local broadsides. It is for its political capital that it is doing this but this should not detract from the immense succours that disaster victims received, especially in the case of colossal natural disasters such as a tsunami.

The Meulaboh tsunami disaster in December 2004 presented the PAP government with a golden opportunity to show to the world its readiness and benevolent prowess in rising to the humanitarian occasion promptly. Meulaboh was a sleepy Acehnese town in Indonesia and the tsunami destructions were so widespread and devastating that they were beyond belief. The number of lives lost was inestimable.

Team Singapore was the first to descend on the devastated town, before other foreign governments and non-governmental organisations (NGO), and began the agonising task of rescuing the survivors and resettling them. After that came the laborious and lengthy task of rebuilding and rehabilitation. That Team Singapore has persevered relentlessly since the start of the disaster in Decembver 2004 till now in its noble task of rebuilding and rehabilitation showed its sterling quality and determination which in turn reflected on the international acclaims to the PAP government. The tsuname disaster in Aceh with its subsequent rebuilding and rehabitation can indeed be said to be a showcase of the PAP government's humanitarianism. The colossal devastation of the tsunami disaster had shocked a normally placid world and the PAP government's heroic role in rescue, rebuilding and rehabilitation could not but elicited a show of respectful gratitude from an amazed world.

Here is the irony of it. It is all very well for the PAP government to promote an international humane image. When it comes to the local scene, it shows it is not so benign in its ruthlessness in dealing with the opposition parties and those who are not so sparing in their vitriolic criticisms of the government. Maybe it is in its mental make-up that it finds it antipathic to show the same kind of justice and fairness universally as in its international image projection.

Prime Minister's and ministers' silence on major public occurrences and happenings is not going to endear the government to the public, not to mention losing public confidence. The recent SMRT Changi depot security lapse and the Orchard Road deluge are only two cases in point. Then there is the question of a fair general election but the general expectation is that there will be gerrymandering when electoral boundaries are drawn up, obviously not to the advantage of opposition parties contesting the election. Of course, it will be a godsend if the PAP government can show a little more fairness and justice but is this not analogous to wishing for the pie in the sky?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Are Singaporeans Paying For Monkeys?

The question that is being asked frequently in the internet is:Are Singaporeans paying for monkeys? By right monkeys deserve to be paid peanuts but how come we are paying millions.

The recent occurrences have not given the public the confidence of a government that holds high the concerns of the public. The golden silence of the Minister for Transport and Minister for Home Affairs on the debacle of the security lapse of the SMRT at its Changi depot is a typical example. They were either lofty in their attitude or remiss in their responsibility of the implication of the enormity of the SMRT security lapse. It was ludricuous that this could have escaped the attention of the two ministers.

Next is the comical performance of the Minister for Environment in connection with the recent flood in Orchard Road. Whether the public view it as shirking responsibility but his elusive presence was not to be found in the Orchard Road flood area when it was imperative for the flood victims, especially the serious ones, to be given sympathetic succour. He was like an invisible man who appeared after the storm to utter such crass statement that such flood occurred only once in fifty years. Such flippancy can hardly give confidence to the public, especially those in the flood-prone areas, that we have a minister who could tackle the flood situation.

Then there is the equally crass statement of the Prime Minister that it is impossible in Singapore to expect the place to be completely free of floods. This is the kind of talk that aims to pre-empt any public wrath to descend on the government should there be any unmanagable devastating flood befalling Singapore in future. In other words, the government is seeking an easy way out. The PUB should have by now identified the flood-prone areas and discovered the cause. In fact their officers are condifent of overcoming, if not minimising, the problem. So what is all this talk by the Prime Minister of not expecting a flood-free Singapore, if not to divert the attention of the public.

The trend of ministers, including the Prime Minister, of showing indifference towards occurences and happenings that the public view as affecting their security and welfare is disquieting, to say the least. There are very considerable criticisms by netizens on the ministers' haughty attitude. It automatically brings up the question that the astronomical salaries that the Prime Minister and his ministers get are really what they deserve and a fair charge on the taxpayers' fund. So the netizens coined the phrase:Are Singaporeans paying for monkeys?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MM Lee Kuan Yew the "Forecaster"

It would not be far off the mark to say that the narcissistic MM Lee Kuan Yew would consider it an honour if he were invited to officiate the opening of the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. But he had to settle for a second best by touring the MBS a day before its grand opening, which to some people may be seen as a form of unofficial opening ceremony before its actual officiation which will no doubt tickle his ego.

But a leopard can never change its spots. True to his swaggering character he cannot help opening his big mouth, in conformity to his calling as a "forecaster", to predict that the newly opened MBS will take up to seven years to reach full capacity. With his official status MM Lee could not have been accompanied on his tour of MBS by any lesser personality than the MBS Chairman Mr. Sheldon Adelson.

One cannot expect Mr. Adelson to be amused by MM Lee's unflattering forecast, evidently not based on any tangible evidence but on his whim and fancy. How is Mr. Adelson going to face his shareholders if he allows such a deleterious remark, not one made by an ordinary mortal, to pass with impunity. Mr. Adelson is a shrewd Caucasian, one who must have had considerable experience in his career in dealing with high-ranking politicians of all political hues and colours and would certainly not be overawed by their prominence. He blithely told a disconcerted MM Lee that he believed that MBS would achieve full capacity in the year 2011. MM Lee was clearly seen to be taken aback by the Chairman's candid retort and could be seen to have no answer to his statement. Mr. Adelson is therefore seen to have reasserted his position thus giving assurance to his shareholders that he is no pushover.

Whether MM Lee will take this as a lesson to curb his egregious habit of "forecasting" for the wrong reason at the wrong time will be something which Singaporeans will be relieved to know.
He is paid more than $3 million a year from taxpayers' money to do what he himself has described as "forecasting". His position is a sinecure and he has so much time on his hand that he jets around the world, not infrequently, on taxpayers' funds to overwhelm his gullible audiences with his irresitable charms, making booboos in the process.

The latest example is in his eulogy to the late Dr. Goh Keng Swee whom he described as the minister who acted on his own "to have a clean break from Malaysia". Of course, such a serious controversial divergence from known facts could not have been allowed to pass without accountability. Dr. Goh is no longer around to clarify and the controversy has unfairly impinged on his character. Whatever is the motive of MM Lee to bring this up after Dr. Goh's death only time will tell. But in view of the disquiet generated by this controversy among the public, MM Lee is now trying strenouosly to carry out damage control in order to salvage the situation. His feeble attempt at vindication in the Straits Times of 22 June is a typical example.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Sophistry of Minister K. Shanmugam

It is obvious that the government is trying strenously to manage damage control as a result of the fallout from the serious security lapse at the SMRT Changi depot. Whilst the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Home Affairs had remained reticent, for reasons best known to themselves, on the security breach, it has now fallen on the shoulder of a discomfited Second Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam to make a belated sophistry on the goverment's dissociation of responsibility on security of private sector installations giving SMRT and its depots as an example and citing prohibitive costs as the main reason.

It is incredulous that the Minister could come up with such a simplistic view on a matter of considerable gravity as security. It is fortunate that the security breach at the SMRT Changi depot was a graffiti caper by two innocuous foreign pranksters. So the SMRT honchos are held responsible for the security lapse although the government cannot escape embarrassment and loss of face. Up to this stage the dissociation of responsibility stand of the government appears to sound reasonable.

But has it occurred to Mr. Shanmugam that, instead of two foreign pranksters, the security breach at the SMRT Changi depot could have been carried out by Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terrorists? Does he think that these JI terrorists would be there to spray-paint graffiti on the train? The consequence of such a scenario would be immensely devastating especially if the carriage is packed with commuters. Will Mr. Shanmugam consider such a security situation to be the responsibility of theSMRT honchos for them to manage?

So Mr. Shanmugam will have to show more ingenuity and circumspection in explaining to the business community or private sector, that whilst it is their primary responsibility to look after the security of their installations, the circumstances in which the government will assume full responsibility of any breach of security, for instance in case of terrorist-inspired incidents.

The SMRT Changi depot security breach was a good example where the Minister for Transport or the Minister for Home Affairs could have come out in the first instance with an assurance to the commuting public that security at the SMRT was being reinforced for their safety. Instead it was left to the SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa to express deep regret for the "serious lapse", quite flippantly because some people said that she was merely aping DPM Wong Kan Seng. It is appropriate to ask here if an assurance from a government minister would have a greater impact on the commuting public.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Comic Opera

It's uncanny that it was a Swiss national Oliver Fricker who showed how easy it was to breach the so-called unbreachable security of the SMRT's Changi depot to spray graffiti on an MRT train in the middle of the night. What made it all the more comical was that the train was allowed to ply its services for two days without anyone's being the wiser although SMRT now claimed that its staff thought it was an advertisement. Is the claim not a bit far-fetched?

Fricker may not have realised it at that time but his impetuous artistic painting, though may have appeared to him to be an innocuous caper, is certain to have caused great consternation to the powers that be. They may have been probably woken to the harsh reality that their elaborately laid out security of protected places could be breached by some foreign prankster out to make fun of the hubristic PAP government.

By his caper Fricker has knowingly or unknowingly caused the government to lose face and public confidence. Does he seriously think that the PAP government will show magnanimity and let him off lightly? Fricker may not have realised that his folly could have brought him serious consequences or he might have had second thought about going through with his prank. Then there is an alleged accomplice and the government is not going to let him off either. What part the alleged accomplice had played in this prank may only be known when he is arrested and brought back to Singapore. He is believed to have fled to Hongkong.

DPM Wong Kan Seng cannot be amused at the ease with which Fricker had breached the security at the SMRT's Changi depot. It is fortunate that it was just a prank for DPM Wong will be singing a different tune if it had been done by a Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terrorist group. Because what the JI terrorists would have done would not be just spraying amusing graffiti on the train. The scenario could be quite devastating.

We wonder if the SMRT's chief exective Saw Phaik Hwa really realised the gravity of the SMRT security gaffe. It is quite flippant for the CEO to just say she deeply regretted the "serious lapse" (here some people said that she tried to ape DPM Wong Kan Seng) and tended to shift responsibility to SMRT staff.

Another glaring fact is the complete silence of the Minister for Transport on this SMRT security lapse. It does not seem to concern him and he does not consider it important for him to reassure the commuting public that security of the SMRT is being reinforced for their safe travel.

Neither have we heard anything reassuring from DPM Wong Kan Seng who is the Home Affairs Minister. Are we to assume that the government is complacent about the present SMRT security lapse until a real terrorist incident explodes in its face?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Secession Conundrum

True to his disingenuous character, the Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew always has something up his sleeve which he would foist on the unsuspecting public, ostensibly to score a point. The latest is his baffling disclosure on Singapore's separation from Malaysia which he made in his eulogy to the late Dr Goh Keng Swee at his state funeral. It was anybody's guess whether the distinguished audience at the funeral was taken aback by his enigmatic disclosure that it was the late Dr Goh who decided on his own, after discussions with Tun Abdul Razak, the Malaysian DPM and Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, the Minister of the Interior to have a clean break. In other words it was Dr Goh alone who made the decision to secede from Malaysia and later told PM Lee Kuan Yew about it. The Chinese have a proverb: Behead first and report to the throne later (先斩后奏).

From events at that time and what MM Lee Kuan Yew said in his memoirs it was the Malaysian PM Tunku Abdul Rahman who decided to expel Singapore from Malaysia, choosing to "sever all ties with a State Government that showed no measure of loyalty to its Central Government". Lee Kuan Yew was adamant and tried to work out a compromise but without success. He was later convinced by Goh Keng Swee that the secession was inevitable.

Lee Kuan Yew's Malaysian Malaysia adventure against the Central Government exacerbated by race riots in Singapore caused immense alarm to the Malaysian leadership, in particular Tunku Abdul Rahman. He came to the inevitable conclusion that he could not resolve the crisis and decided that separation was the best solution.

Singaporeans have been taken for a ride once too often by the highfalutin MM Lee Kuan Yew and it is about time he shows some civility and responsibility in enlightening the public as to his motive, whether good or evil, in portraying Dr Goh as the protagonist of the secession, especially when DR Goh is no longer around to question its truthfulness. It shows Dr Goh to be a man of gross impetuousity, making a decision on his own on a grave matter affecting the destiny of millions of Singaporeans. Is this a fair reflection on a statesman on whom the innumerable tributes show him to be a man of sound principle and not one to have acted on his own on such a grave matter as secession?

Well, the ball is now in MM Lee Kuan Yew's court. There is another appropriate Chinese proverb: He who ties the bell round the tiger's neck is the one to untie it (解铃还是系铃人).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Premonition of Opposition Disintegration?

Even Heaven looks kindly upon the opposition and paves the way for it to progress to its present pre-eminence and hopefully up to and including the general election. The ground is definitely favourable in favour of it and it has all the electoral support from the new media, especially the netizens who have continually called on voters, especially young voters, not to vote for PAP. Of course, any support from the government-controlled mainstream media is out of the question.

In fact, it has all the characteristics of the victors in the Red Cliff battle in the Chinese historical saga, the Three Kingdom. On the eve of the battle, the fabulous prescient Military Adviser Zhu Ge Liang made his famous prediction: All things made ready but only lacks the East Wind (万事具备,只欠东风. As he patiently waited, the East Wind arrived and sent his armada into victory in Red Cliff. The Chinese history is quoted as an analogy to show that the opposition is having all things made ready but only lacks the East Wind in the form of unity to secure victory like the Red Cliff victors.

The talks between Reform Party (RP) led by Mr. Kenneth Jeyaretnam and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) led by Mr. Chiam See Tong to form an alliance to contest the general election started on a promising note. It had all the makings of a remarkable beginning of a significant process leading to the indispensible unity of the opposition in facing the PAP in the general election. The talks were going so well that it came as something of a shock to hear the news that the proposed RP-SDA alliance had come to grief over the SDA's declination of acceptance of the 11 conditions of the RP after having earlier agreed to them. Kenneth Jeyaretnam was right to feel mystified and SDA Chiam See Tong did not improve matters by remaining tight-lipped.

Mr. Chiam See Tong seems to hold the key to this whole opposition unity conundrum.
A veteran politician like him should have no illusion about the paramount need of opposition unity in securing victory over the PAP in the general election. This should transcend all personal or party interests in the overall interests of opposition unity. The RP-SDA alliance fiasco will be viewed with exultation by the PAP leaders as it would mean that without unity the opposition will be less of a threat to their dominiance in the general election notwithstanding any favourable ground condition and new media support to the opposition. Of course, if the opposition parties were to contest against one another in a single ward or GRC, this will virtually amount to a walk-over for the PAP.

The general election is likely to be still some time away and the oppoosition, especially Mr. Chiam See Tong, should transcend their parochial interests to forge a solid unity and not let down their electoral supporters. If the opposition parties fritter away the present golden opportunity, they may not find a similar opportunity for a long time to come.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is Straits Times a government mouthpiece?

Speaking during a dialogue session organised for forum writers to the Straits Times, ST Editor Han Fook Kwang admitted that the paper suffered from a perception that it is a " government mouthpiece". But he got the cheek to say with tongue-in-cheek: "But the test is if our readers believe in the paper and continue to buy it". It is pathetic that Mr. Han, who is just a cog in the massive government propaganda organisation is trying to ape his political masters in continuing to hoodwink the people as to the insidious political role of the Straits Times. What Mr. Han says about the Straits Times is not important because he is impotent himself and is not in a position where he can in any way influence the policy of the Straits Times.

What is of more concern to the discerning Singaporeans is whether there is freedom of the press in Singapore. Reporters without Borders ranked Singapore media 133th in terms of press freedom among 175 countries last year. Can there be press freedom when the mainstream media is tightly controlled by a forbidding organisation like the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)? It is not some kind of benevolent organisation but an omnipotent body formed by the government to oversee the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times, in its dissemination of government propaganda. At the head of SPH is none other than a former deputy prime minister who is also the spin doctor.

Under the circumstances, it will be naive to think that press freedom exists in Singapore. What the mainstream media,especially the Straits Times, dishes out to the public is what the government wants the public to read. Views, opinions or articles inimical to the government, especially from opposition parties, will find it extremely hard to get publicity, esecially in the Straits Times. Even letters unflattering to the government sent to the Forum suffered the same fate.

We will see the true colour of the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times, during the hustings for the General Election. Under the tight control of SPH, the PAP will have monopoly of the mainstream media, probably to the exclusion of the opposition parties. The opposition parties will most likely have to rely on the new media to support their election campaign. The Straits Times, being a government mouthpiece, is not likely to lend a hand to the opposition campaign. It will be just wishful thinking.

Although Singapore's population has increased, Straits Times circulation has shown a decline. It claims an inflated readership of 1.4 million. This shows that there are Singaporeans who cease to read the Straits Times because they are disgusted with its pro-government propaganda. These are the people who turn to the internet for their supply of local and foreign news and they could form a fairly substantial number. There are also some who read the Straits Times for its sports, social and financial news, skipping its propaganda.

One will have to be cynical to believe that there is press freedom in Singapore. This, at best, depends on the charitable whim of the powers that be.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can there be a level playing field?

Was it any wonder that the PAP government was able to bulldoze through Parliament amendments to the Parliamentary Election Act (PEA) to increase NCMP from six to nine and a cooling-off day on eve of Polling Day? It was a foregone conclusion with the PAP's massive majority in Parliament. What chances the minuscule number of two opposition MPs and one NCMP had against the relentless aggressive onslaught of PAP ministers and MPs in trying to stem the PAP's might in bulldozing through the amendments?

Opposition NCMP Sylvia Lim was remarkable in her element in putting up a scintillating performance with two eloquent speeches, one on the NCMP amendment and the other on the cooling-off day that had PAP ministers in a discomfiture trying to match. Those who have not read her speeches are encouraged to do so in order to share in the oratory of her arguments against the two amendments to the PEA. The arguments were cogent and could have moved any sceptical audience in an assembly but unfortunately fell on deaf ears of PAP ministers.

Is the increment of 3 NCMP seats up to 9 seats a boon to the opposition as propagated by the government? A NCMP seat is awarded to the defeated opposition candidate with the highest number of votes in the constituency he or she contested. The government is in fact telling the voters that even if a PAP candidate is elected, the defeated opposition candidate can still enter Parliament as a NCMP. Thus guillible voters are hoodwinked into believing that it is safe to vote for the PAP candidate as the defeated opposition candidate is not deprived of a seat in Parliament. But the simple voter may not be able to have the cognition of the handicap faced by a NCMP. He or she has no costituents to represent and therefore has no status in his or her constituency. The NCMP cannot vote on certain important issues in Parliament besides other disabilities. In other words the NCMP is like a puppet apart from being allowed to make speeches in Parliament. Therefore, increasing the NCMP seats is just a charade of the PAP government to maintain or strengthen its massive majority in Parliament.

A cooling-off day on eve of Polling Day is another shenanigan of the PAP government to ensure its dominance on Polling Day. A total ban on electioneering on cooling-off day puts the opposition parties at a disadvantage as they are not able to make any last-minute appeal to voters in order to counter government propaganda against them. Nowhere in the democratic world is there such a precedent and for the PAP spin doctor to come up with this nefarious idea is the apex of perfidy. There is no guarantee that the crafty PAP will not take advantage of this cooling-off day to slip in anti-opposition propagnda in disguised form while opposition electioneering stands frozen.

These two schemes are introduced in addition to vote-catching measures that have been put in by PAP leaders. The upgrading of aging HDB flats inPAP constituencies as welll as in some opposition wards is just one example. The PAP leaders are doing all these as they are concerned about reports of favourable ground situation in favour of the opposition in a general election. They will try with everything in their power to prevent the opposition from making inroads into their political dominance. So can the opposition expect a level playing field?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Subtlety of Gutter Politics

Politics in many countries in the world where elections are held every four or five years to determine which political party should form the government of the day has one thing in common. The incumbent government will try everthing in its power to ensure its return to power in the election. So in the period before the election, the government can be seen to be offering sweeteners to potential electors in order to win their votes.

For instance in Singapore, reasonably-priced HDB flats are being built to deflect the ruffled feelings of potential flat-buying citizens who were intimdated by the frenzy of the overheated HDB flat market in terms of prices and availability. Another inducement is the upgrading of aging HDB flats both in the PAP constituencies and opposition wards. Currently, there is talk of the restoration of the employers' cut of the CPF to the workers. To complete the destruction of the opposition hope of ever coming close to capturing any PAP seats, whether single ward or GRC, will be the inevitable gerrymandering of electorial boundaries which will indicate how soon the General Election will take place. For the PAP it will be a case of head I win and tail you lose.

In spite of all these vote-catching preparations, it cannot be said that the PAP is not worried about the ground situation which is favourable to the opposition and is likely to improve with the approach of the General Election. The internet is full of exhortations to Singapore electors, especially the young voters, not to vote the PAP. The mainstream media is not overly friendly to the oppositiion but it can be assured of robust support from the new media, especially the redoubtable netizens.

Discomfited PAP leaders are scrambling to salvage the situation and to try to find a plan to break the spirit and solidarity of the opposition. Is it a co-incidence that a former president of the Reform Party chose this moment to pick up a quarrel with the secretary-general of the party Kenneth Jeyaretnam to present a sombre picture of disunity within the party? This is exactly what the PAP leaders hope to see happen to the opposition. Is this an act of providence to strengthen the hand of the PAP? Reform Party is the best bet to capture the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in combination with the Singapore Democratic Alliance. Is there going to be a domino effect on the opposition whether by providence or otherwise thereby snuffing out opposition chances in the General Election?

Whether by providence or not, the opposition, especially Kenneth Jeyaretnam, should tighten up their security to ensure that no mercenary is infiltrated into their parties to cause disunity. It is still not too late to do that now. There is a Chinese saying: To repair the pen after the sheep have escaped is not too late. (wang yang bu lao, wei wei wan yi)
Publish Post

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The god has spoken

The god has spoken. No one can be mistaken that this refers to the godlike figure in the person of the pompous Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. He was in his element when he delivered his bombastic discourse at the first Singapore Indian New Year Celebrations at Serangoon Road last Saturday on the highly distressing subject of immigration. He chose an Indian environment to address this subject because he could be assured of a docile and captive audience who could expect nothing short of his obsequious compliments to the Indian community. He was talking glibly about the better-endowed, educationally and financially, Indian immigrants whom the Singapore government was trying to attract. They do not present any major demographic or economic problem to the government. The Indian work permit workers are the ones giving some social and sanitary problems wherever they congregate.

The ones giving Singaporeans perennial social and political problems are the Chinese immigrants. Singapore has seen an overwhelming influx of Chinese immigrants since time immemorial and their presence is so ubiquitous that they can be found in such unlikely places as Indian restaurants working as waitors and waitresses. Singapore commuters find scant comfort in their public transport travels, be it in buses or MRT, where Chinese immigrants could cause crowding to an intolerable degree, sometimes worsened with hordes of Indian work permit workers.

The speed with which Chinese immigrants were able to obtain Permanent Resident (PR) status and citizenship had to be witnessed to be believed. The irony is that many of the new citizens and PRs were not really enamoured of Singapore. They regard China as more dynamic and grandiose in size, politics and economy and as their motherland where they belong. They were merely birds of passage whose aim of getting Singapore citizenship or PR status was to get employment and more importantly to purchase HDB flats which they could sell at a profit when they returned to their motherland for good. Have the Singapore leaders, especially MM Lee, awakened to the fact of pseudo-patriotism displayed by these Chinese immigrants? Were they not partly the cause of the phenomenal price increase of our HDB resale flats? Singapore prospective purchasers of HDB resale flats are the ones who bear the brunt of the deceitful behaviour of these Chinese immigrants. Even other Singapore non- flat purchasers join in the chorus of protest.

Then there is the question of employment. We have 30,000 PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Engineers and Technicians) who have been unemployed for quite a long time and we now have Chinese and Indian immigrants competing with the PMETs for limited employment opportunites. Is it not incumbent upon the Singapore government to give priority to our PMETs in finding them employment before the Chinese and Indian immigrants? Perhaps some of the Indian immigrants may have special IT qualifications and may be treated separately. Apart from the PMETs there is a large number of unemployed Singapore citizens needing government attention.

There is a well-known saying: Charity begins in the home.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Plausible Revelation

She did not marry me and became Temasek Holdings' Chief Executive Officer. I married her because she had the talent of a CEO. This was the dramatic revelation of PM Lee Hsien Loong in referring to his wife, Ms Ho Ching, in an interview with Mr. Phil Ponce, host of the Chicago Tonight on WTTW Channel 11 last Thursday. Apparently, this was said to pre-empt Mr. Ponce from popping the question of nepotism in the Singapore government.

At first glance, the startling revelation seems in order. But upon closer examination, it could hardly stand up to scrutiny. Like the Chinese saying: It simply breaks without being attacked (不攻自破)。 First of all, when did PM Lee first discover that Ms Ho Ching possessed CEO talent? Had she ever served under him before she married PM Lee so that her display of outstanding talent akin to that of a CEO in the course of her duty could not have been missed by the eagle-eyed PM Lee? If not, unless he had clairvoyant power and could have seen things where other people could not, it may seem a bit far-fetched for PM Lee to make that kind of claim.

If the claim of Ms Ho Ching being CEO-talented before her marriage to PM Lee is lacking in proof, then the question of nepotism in connection with her Temasek CEO's appointment as a corollary cannot simply be wished away. Singaporeans will be wondering whether, with her disastrous stewardship of Temasek Holdings involving colossal losses, Ms Ho Ching really has the talent for the post. The lack of accountability for these losses has not given confidence to Singaporeans, especially the taxpayers, that Temasek Holdings is in capable hands. The question uppermost in their mind, despite government's vehement denial, is whether Ms Ho Ching would have been appointed Temasek's CEO if she had not married PM Lee. This is still a moot point with Singaporeans.

The question of nepotism is not confined to Singaporeans. Singapore ministers going on official overseas assignments were often asked this question, maybe in a diplomatic way. Even the PM in American this time if he had not had the foresight to bring it up first. So in the world of politics, you can plead being above board in nepotism and corruption but you cannot completely eradicate cynicism shown by some of the sceptical citizens. And this can have a multiplying effect in certain circumstances.

Well, the die is cast. We will wait and see how the PAP will fare in the General Election which can be called as early as this year. They are likely to face a formidable realigned opposition with the avowed aim of denting the invincibility of the PAP.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Is the Opposition capable of epoch-making?

Is the opposition capable of epoch-making? The answer has to be a definite yes. The ground for the opposition is favourable and improving and the prognosis for making inroads into PAP domain can be said to be sanguine. Provided the opposition is united and avoid feuding one another in the hustings. There is already quite a steady flow of talented candidates with excellent tertiary qualifications into some of the more credible opposition parties and they are going to give the much-vaunted PAP election contestants a run for their money. The opposition should continue to woo more of the high-calibre candidates to join their parties in the time available before general election is called.

The to be applauded combination of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Reform Party (RP) in firing the first salvo in their quest in breaking the pernicious PAP stranglehold on Singapore with a combined walkabout in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC last Sunday is an encouraging beginning of what is to follow. That Mr. Chiam See Tong who heads the SDA and Mr. Kenneth Jeyaratnam, chief of RP, had chosen Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC to test the ground is significant. This GRC is the political stronghold of DPM Wong Kan Seng which he has helmed and has been uncontested since it was formed in 1997. Another GRC which the opposition is going to zero in on is the Tampines GRC which is helmed by the Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan. MM Lee Kuan Yew has tried to frighten Tampines voters that they would see their HDB flats go down in value if they did not vote PAP in Tampines GRC.

That the SPH-controlled mainstream media, especially the Straits Times, has given luke-warm publicity to the SDA-RP walkabout is not something unexpected. The opposition will be naive to expect adequate ardent coverage of their election campaigns during the hustings by the mainstream media. Their political masters, the PAP, will have the first call on them. All is not lost, maybe just a bit deficient, for the opposition parties as they will be strongly supported by the new media.

Where the new media stand vis-a-vis the PAP government and its leaders is not a mystery. They have been consistent in their vitriolic criticisms on the PAP government and its leaders for their unpopular and undemocratic policies. The netizens are mostly young voters and they have called on other voters, especially young voters, not to vote for PAP in the general election. It will be foolhardy for the PAP leadership to ignore this wave of anti-PAP sentiments by the netizens and their possible impact on the outcome of the general election. PM Lee Hsien Loong has tried to pooh-pooh these online criticisms as "astroturfing".

Well, PM Lee and his cabinet colleagues may feel confident PAP will be returned to power at the next General Election, but the capture of at least two GRCs and some single seats by the combined oppostions is a distinct possibility. PM Lee is welcome to continue to live in his fool's paradise.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Is the Straits Times above Astroturfing?

This is what is called astroturfing by the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times. The Straits Times in its editorial today was nauseatingly sycophantic in calling on the government to "turf out of consideration astroturfed views when determining policies".

But does the Straits Times genuinely believe that its propagandist organ is above astroturfing? The editorial described astroturfing as a manufactured product masquerading as the real thing: fake mail, phone call or digital campaigns orchestrated to appear like spontaneous "grassroots" responses. Is not the Straits Times answering to this description in its pro-government propaganda to the exclusion of constructive opposition and concerned critics' voices?

The Straits Times seems to be aping the Prime Minister in disparaging online criticisms of the government as fakes orchestrated to appear like spontaneous grassroots responses. Is not the echoing of his master's voice cringingly a form a astroturfing? Right-thinking Singaporeans have seen through the obsequiousness of the Straits Times. There are regular readers of the Straits Times who are digusted with its spineless character and give up reading the trash in the paper going instead to the internet for their local and international news.

It is precisely because of the dearth of genuine news about the political and financial mismanagements of the government which the mainstream media are covering up that there is a healthy growth of the new media to counter this journalistic abberation of the mainstream media. For example it was the new media which provided the news of the recent heavy financial loss of over US $1 billion by the Government Investment Corporation (GIC). True to their obsequious character, there was not a word in the mainstream media about this GIC financial disaster to the public. Although the public were apprised by the new media, there was very little they could do with no accountability by the "democratic" government. Would the Straits Times describe the dramatic disclosure by the new media of the financial loss of GIC as astroturfing?

Hovering over the mainstream media like a sword of Damocles is a body called the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It is hardly a benevolent organ but a tightly-organised body that supervises closely any piece of pro-government propaganda that goes out from the mainstream media. Woe betides any exuberant journalist who does not toe the line. The next thing he knows is that he will find his rice-bowl dancing (a Chinese slang for dismissal). To ensure absolute obedience to its draconian policy, the government has installed a former deputy prime minister, who is also the government spin doctor, at the head of SPH. So how can one expect anything but astroturfing from the mainstream media, especially the bombastic Straits Times.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Prime Minister's Conundrum

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is reported to have voiced his disdain as to the authenticity of the new media, among other things, at a dialogue with about 100 so-called active contributors to the government feedback arm Reaching Everyone for Active Citizen (REACH) yesterday. He calls it "astroturfing". As the name suggests REACH could not be anything but a docile body and the 100 active contributors could best be described as a captive audience. It could have made a difference if it had included other discerning Singaporeans.

The Prime Minister has pompously cited the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) saga last year to prove his erroneous contention of online complicity to lure government's involvement to back one side against the other in the leadership tussle. The AWARE saga was a humdrum association domestic quarrel hardly of any national significance and if the government could be duped by so-called online deception into taking sides, then it could go to show the quality of government leadership or the lack of it.

Perhaps it could have occurred to the lucid mind of the Prime Minister the impetus that led to the evolution of the new media in Singapore. Every right-thinking Singaporean is aware that the sycophantic main stream media, epecially the egregious Straits Times, will only disseminate government propaganda and not any dissenting thesis inimical or unflattering to the government. There is the omnipotent Singapore Press Holdings, at the head of which is a government spin doctor, which monitors closely every piece of propaganda that the main stream media dish out to the public. The current news report of the Prime Minister's salvo on the new media is a typical example.

Can you blame the pent-up netizens for opening up an alternative media channel to disseminate the truth about the iniquities of the PAP government? The Prime Minister will be living in a fool's paradise if he thinks that their online crticisms of the government and its ministers are colluded fakes and are not given serious attention by discerning Singaporeans. The Barisan National in Malaysia is a good example for pooh-poohing their netizens and suffered a severe setback in their last general election when they were hit by a tsunami evidently masterminded by the online citizens. This could not have failed to wake up the PAP leadership to the possibility of a similar tsunami hitting the PAP in the next General Election in Singapore. The PAP leadership was seen to be scrambling to clutch at a straw by sending their seasoned war-horse, the narcissistic Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, to Malaysia under the guise of a fraternal visit to suss out the cause of the Barisan National election debacle as a lesson for the PAP.

The Prime Minister is an astute politician and he ignores the pernicious influence (pernicious to the PAP) of the online citizens at his peril.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Misguided Heroism of Minister George Yeo

The dramatic exposure of the sexual exploits of the renowned Singapore film producer and director has no parallel in recent Singapore's history. What is perplexing to Singaporeans, especially feminine Singaporeans, is the bombastic manner in which the normally sensible Foreign Minister George Yeo called on Singaporeans to rally behind and support Jack Neo and his family in their so-called hour of distress, arising out of the infidelity and sexual exploits of the amorous Jack Neo.

What people cannot understanding is whether this a a just cause for the Foreign Minister to come out in his official capacity to lend his name to rally support from Singaporeans. True, Jack Neo was in a state of panic and Minister George Yeo was the person he could think of as his saviour when he confided in the minister his amorous predicament before it became public. It looks like Minister George Yeo was suddenly confronted with a grave situation involving his personal friend Jack Neo that he probably did not think through the possible repercussion when he merrily made his controversial public statement rallying support for Jack Neo.

At best, this is a personal matter and Minister George Yeo should have treated this on a personal basis and quietly given Jack Neo his moral support. It cannot be denied that Jack Neo is a public figure but he is caught in a scandalous amorous affair. Would it be proper for a government minister to come out in open support of any other celebrity caught in a similar amorous situation? It does not make the action any proper even if the perpetrator is a personal friend. In Jack Neo's case, is Minister George Yeo not sending a wrong signal to the public? It will be an irony if his robust rallying call turns out to be counter-productive considering the extensive adverse reaction on the internet.

The internet is full of caustic criticisms of the improper action of Minister George Yeo in calling for support of Jack Neo. There was in particular a woman blogger who was especially acrimonious in her lengthy posting. This was not the first faux pas in recent months by the embattled Minister George Yeo. He was caught wrong-footed in the Romanian charge-d'affaires hit-and-run accident investigations when he merely said enigmatically that this was very bad when asked to comment.

His booboo notwithstanding, Mr. George Yeo is otherwise considered a more creditable PAP minister whose discourses in and out of Parliament are of an intellectual standard reminiscent of the brilliant oratory of the late Mr. S. Rajaratnam. He has a bright future if only he can avoid making silly mistakes in his public utterances and postures. Of course this will depend on how long the decadent PAP dynasty can last.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Somnolent Deputy Prime Minister

Can you imagine anything more clownish than a deputy prime minister snoozing away during a speech by his fellow- DPM Wong Kan Seng in Parliament? DPM Teo Chee Hean was caught by camera. We have just witnessed a clownish spectacle of the minister and secretary- general of the NTUC who said in Parliament that he was deaf to the criticisms of an opposition MP and we are now presented with the comical spectacle of a deputy prime minister snoozing while Parliament was in session. If Mr. Wong Kan Seng's discourse can induce somnolence in Mr. Teo Chee Hean, he can certainly apply for a patent for insomnia cure.

DPM Teo Chee Hean has been given wide publicity as the man of the moment appointed by the Prime Minister to improve national productivity. With his somnolent performance in Parliament, do Singaporeans really believe that he has the right credentials for the important task. When he can snooze off during a Parliamentary session, what is there to give the public the confidence that he will stay alert in his productivity job. As he is also the Defence Minister, is he setting a good example to his soldiers? If any soldier is caught sleeping on his job, how is he going to discipline the soldier? There will definitely be double standards in punishment meted out to the offending soldier.

It may be argued that there may be extenuating circumstances in DPM Teo's case, as some ministers and government MPs found sleeping during Parliamentary sessions is sometimes a common sight, but a deputy prime minister is not a ordinary mortal. He is next in line to the prime minister and acts for the latter in his absence. Can you imagine the prime minister being caught snoozing in Parliament? There will be mayhem which will lead to further deterioration of confidence in the government.

Maybe in the eyes of the government DPM Teo Chee Hean is a minister of sterling character. With his fat obscene pay of $3 million a year he is expected to give a sterling performance rather than be caught sleeping on the job. He is in charge of our Army, Navy and Air Force and these forces look up to him for sterling leadership. Good leaders learn from their mistakes and improve on them. Let us hope that DPM will learn from his experience.

We may not see the end of such comic operas. It may be appropriate to conclude with a famous saying of the Chinese philosopher Confucius: I do not wish to see it any more. (wu bu yu guan zhi yi)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Consummate Joker

Can you believe your ears when the honourable Mr. Lim Swee Say, minister and secretary-general of the NTUC, said that he was like the little frog in the unheard of fable "kingdom of frogs" that he was deaf to all the criticisms of MP Mr. Low Thia Kiang on his so-called doctrine of ameiloration of lower wage workers. Mr. Lim could have been piqued and embarrassed by the incisive demolition of his painfully-created but not flawless doctrine by an ingenious Mr. Low in Parliament. Credit must be given to Mr. Lim for his ingenuity in thinking up such an unseemly parable to defend his wounded pride.

Is not Mr. Lim acting like a little emperor? Is that the proper attitude for a minister and NTUC secretary-general drawing a fat obscene pay of over $2 million a year out of taxpayers' money to adopt in reply to crticisms. Is he not a law unto himself with the kind of brazen attitude he adopts?

If Mr. Lim represents the overbearing attitude of ministers, that is the reason we should vote in more opposition candidates. The PAP leadership is aware of such a possibility and it is now trying to sweeten the ground to make sure that it does not lose too many GRC's at the next General Election. This is where the opposition parties should close ranks to capture at least one or two GRC's. The opposition can do it if they can avoid disunity and put up some credible candidates. The ground is ripe for them to make inroads especially with young voters who are disillusioned with the PAP government. The PAP leadership is especially worried about the loyalty of the young voters and will be making strenuous efforts to win them over. Probably the die is cast and whatever strenuous efforts the PAP leadership makes may have little effect.

The tsunami that hit the Barisan National in the last general election in Malaysia is a wake-up call to the PAP leadership. But it may not be a similarly hefty tsunami that will hit the PAP in the next General Election. So they are scrambling madly to try to assuage any disastrous side-effect that the Malaysian tsunami may bring. As a result the people are given the spectacle of the much-hyped Economic Strategy Committee's report and the recent so-called bountiful budget whichthe PAP leadership hopes will revive its flagging election prospects.

The opposition should not be seen to be idle. This is a chance not to be missed to bring the PAP down from its pedestal and its arrogance. They should attract more credible candadites, especially scholars like the ones the Reform Party attracted, to represent them in a united stand in the next General Election. Already considerable netizens have called on voters, especially young voters, not to vote for PAP which is a good sign for the opposition.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Everyday Rob People

It's amazing that it takes a witty taxi-driver to interpret the ERP as Everyday Rob People. How this amusing taxi-driver's witticism strikes a chord with motorists depends on whether they are affluent who regard ERP charges as peanuts or they belong to the less afflluent who feel the pinch of the ERP charges. Of course, the government ministers are a class of their own as they either travel in official cars or do not give any thought to ERP charges as they are affluent enough with their obscene salaries to regard such charges as peanuts.

In June, 2008 there was a bright spark of a minister who was also the general secretary of the NTUC. He regaled an audience in a two-hour dialogue with what he thought was his ingenious driving experience of getting car beeps four to five times a day from the ERP gantries which he passed through on his way to and from work and thought nothing of it. What the audience did not realise was that he was a minister drawing a fat obscene pay and the car beeps charges probably did not come out of his pocket. The audience's laughter probably gave him a false sense of security that the audience, or for that matter the public, did not think that he was a joker.

Is the ERP system a boon or a bane? The Transport Minister, who represents the government, swears to it that it smoothens the flow of traffic where gantries have been set up. But does it? You still find traffic snarls in places like Braddell and Thomson Road gantry in front of Media Corp during peak hours. Then there is the so-called double whammy. For example, if one leaves Selegie Road and enters Orchard Road there is a 50-cent charge. But when the same person returns to Selegie Road from Bras Basah Road he incurs a $1.50 charge.

Whether the system is a boon or a bane is a moot point depending on whether it is from the government's point of view or from the motorists' point of view. Of course, It enhances the government's coffers, hence the ERP is called by some people "Everyday Rob People". It is quite widespread and not just the taxi-driver's interpretation. As to the Transport Minister's assertion that it smoothens traffic, he should listen to the uncomplimentary remarks of irate motorists.

Well, no system is perfect. So there is obviously a need for the beleaguered Transport Minister and his ebullient Land Transport Authority (LTA) to straighten out the unevenness of the ERP system. It is likely that the LTA staff have exhausted their ideas and there is nothing humiliating to invite innovative ideas from the public, with monetary incentives if necessary.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The insensitive indiscretion of Senior Paster Rony Tan

There is in fact no tenable defence for the inordinate indiscretion of Senior Pastor Rony Tan of the Lighthouse Evangelism church for his denigration of Buddhism and Taoism in his "miracle service". The pastor is in fact a charming and rational personality normally and exudes charisma in conducting his miracle and Sunday services at the Lighthouse Evangelism church. Attendees at the church were invariably mesmerised by his sermons which were delivered with his inimitable splendor. His genial disposition endears him to his parishioners. He has given so much of his life to the salvation of the seriously-ill who flocked to his miracle services for miracle cures. And this is a phenomenon which has to be witnessed to be believed. Even doctors who had been invited to attend such services were amazed at the "miracles".

Many people were stunned when they witnessed the incredible performance of Senior Pastor Rony Tan on online video clips when he ridiculed Buddhism in his disparaging comments about the religion. There was no doubt that these were insensitive comments which horrified and outraged the Buddhists. There was extensive public clamour for drastic action to be taken against Pastor Tan including detention under the ISA. The outburst of outrages was something to be expected considering the sensitivity of the issue. But it was up to the government security organisation, in this case the Internal Security Department (ISD), to assess the situation and take a rational view as to the type of action to be taken. In their professional assessment, they considered it adequate just be calling up Pastor Tan for a dressing down for his insensitive comments about Buddhism and a stern advice not to run down other religions in his preaching and proselytising.

Pastor Rony Tan should thank his God to be let off so lightly. He has posted an apology on the church's website, promising to respect other faiths and "not ridicule them in any way, shape and fashion". But some diehard Buddhists have maintained that posting an apology on the church's website is a lukewarm effort with its limited readership. It transpires now that TV Singapore has given quite comprehensive news reporting in all four languages of Pastor Rony Tan's apology and this should satisfy any lingering doubts as to the pastor's sincerity. Even DPM Wong Kan Seng has expressed his satisfaction with the final development.

Both the Singapore Buddhist Federation and the Singapore Taoist Federation have shown magnanimity in their response to this issue. This unfortunate polemic should now be considered closed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The wheel of history will move forward

Ever heard of the wheel of history moving backwards? That should worrythe PAP leadership as to the political direction Singapore is heading. The younger electorate will be the deciding factor in the next general election and the election after that. An increasingly number of them have manifestly shown that, while not entirely disillusioned with the PAP, they want to see a transformation in the government structure to reflect a more equitable society. And not unnaturally, they see a credible opposition as a vehicle for this transformation. Of course, for this to have any degree of realisation, there must be tangible inflow of able and high calibre potential candidates to the opposition parties, especially those who are scholars or talented degree holders. This is what is happening now in Singapore and the young voters are certainly to be elated at this trend of political development which will hopefully lead to the realisation of their cherished dream of a change of government.

That the PAP leaders have been monitoring this worrying trend for some time is not in doubt. They could not show openly that they are worried, but not yet to the point of panic, over this political development. So the prime minister has to put on an artificial front to comment sarcastically the dramatic event of a husband-and-wife team who are government scholarship holders who graduated with first-class honours degrees from Cambrige University joining the opposition Reform Party but admitted it is a significant development. When asked about reports of well-qualified Singaporeans joining the opposition, he simply glossed over the issue but wished them well. What else can he say?

The tsunami that hit the Barisan National in the last general election in Malaysia is a lesson that the beleaguered PAP leaders take to heart. The ostensibly fraternal visit by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to Malaysia last year was not just a friendly visit but with special assignment to assess the real reason for the Barisan National election debacle so that the PAP can readjust its unpopular policies to prevent s similar tsunami hitting the PAP in the next general election. They have so many unpopular measures to adjust one of which is the long-overdue reduction of the obscene salaries of the prime minister and his affluent ministers. If the prime minister is still ignorant how unpopular their obscene pay is, ask any man in the street. The other is their policy allowing the indisciminate influx of Chinese immigrants who are so problematic that they are regarded as the bane of our social ills.

Anyway, if the PAP is not voted out of power at the next general election because the opposition is not yet able to field sufficient number of credible candidates, PAP will be fortunate if it gets away with just a decimation of its position. But its luck may not hold in the general election after that. Singaporeans can be patient.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Moral Turpitude of Singapore's Great Helmsman

It is certain that MM Lee Kuan Yew does not find it flattering to be compared with China's Great HelmsmanMao Zedong in greatness. It will be a boost to his ego.

A little injustice, maybe not daily, is in the repertoire of the Minister Mentor and does not cause him any compunction. What is a small injustice to a public officer when the then- prime minister showed no qualms about the prolonged detention of Dr. Lim Hock Siew (19 years) and Chia Thye Poh (32 years). This is as good as any time to revisit the injustices that this public officer suffered at the hand of the Minister Mentor who is now facing an unprecedented crunch to his popularity and career.There is a sonorous call by a discerning public for him to step down as Minister Mentor as he is no longer considered a deserving or appropriate imposition on the taxpayers' fund with his astronomical salary of more than $3 million a year doing nothing but "forecasting".

The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an omnipresent intelligence organisation with its tentacles reaching almost every nook and corner of the earth, not even sparing China. Wayback in 1961 when Singapore was in the turbulent era in the South East Asian region facing ferocious communist agitation, CIA was very desirous to recruit a Special Branch (SB) officer to act as an undercover agent to supply it with with security information on communist threats to Singapore and the region including information of the inner workings of the government.

The identity of the SB officer the CIA intended to recruit cannot be disclosed at this stage because of some arcane twisted working of the then-prime minister's mind, he had refused to identify the officer publicly, apparently for fear that this officer would steal the thunder from him. But it may be to his dismay that this is already public knowledge. Only MM Lee thinks that it is not.

The Special Branch officer was approached by his boyhood buddy to work as an undercover agent for the CIA in 1961. The SB officer sat on it for three days without reporting it to his superior because he was unhappy with the PAP government's oppressive policy against civil servants who were generally English-educated who had not supported the PAP when it was in the opposition. Amongst the PAP's persecutions was the docking of civil servants' pay. I told my superior Mr. Richard Corridon this when I finally reported the CIA approach to him. This was where the injustice arose. The then- prime minister Lee Kuan Yew twisted the officer's reason grotesquely to convey a doubt on the officer's loyalty and integrity. This is what MM Lee said in his memoirs: "The officer found the CIA's offer so attractive that he sat on it for three days before reporting to Richard Corridon". Mr. Corridon unfortunately is no longer in this world and therefore cannot testify to Lee Kuan Yew's dishonesty.It was a glaring insult tothe officer's integrity and it did not seem to bother MM Lee's conscience.

This was not the first time MM Lee had disparaged this officer. The other occasion was when he told an untruth about this officer at the Select Committee Hearing of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill on 9 October 1986 that this officer had been asked to quit as Director CPIB in connection with the investigations of four detectives by the CPIB following an official complaint by the then-solicitor-general Mr. Francis Seow. The officer was accused of helping out his friend Mr. Francis Seow and had the four detectives sacked. The accusation was a figment of MM Lee's imagination. The officer was able to proof that he had been appointed Director ISD following his stint in CPIB. These were two glaring examples of the recklessless of MM Lee Kuan Yew who had little regard for the truth. Much less was there any apology from a callous MM Lee.

The CIA saga has been mentioned in MM Lee's memoirs. Two CIA polygraph experts brought in specially from Saigon to put the officer through a lie-detector test had been detained. So was a third CIA officer. An undercover first secretary of the American Consulate was declared a persona non grata. A polygraph had been recovered and this is now displayed in the ISD Heritage Centre. The CIA fiasco had sent a shock wave right up to the White House in Washington. The US President then was Mr. John Kennedy. The SB officer was awarded a Meritorous Service Medal and given an accelerated promotion. But the SB officer was not publicly identified though no one after reading this article will have any doubt as to his identity.

The SB officer's embargoed reminiscences contain more vivid accounts of the SB operations in the CIA saga. Well, whether the then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had used this incident as a leverage in his dealings with the Americans is left to the imagination of the public whether he would have let such a golden opportunity to slip by.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is MM Lee Kuan Yew adding value to Singapore?

Education Minister Ng Eng Hen can hardly be classified as a PAP heavyweight and so his political views on MM Lee Kuan Yew should be taken with a certain amount of circumspection. He is probably overawed by the intimidating reputation of MM Lee. Which lightweight minister is not? MM Lee is after all the father of the prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and is probably the power behind the throne.

So when Dr. Ng Eng Hen was popped the question as to why MM Lee was not stepping down by Mr. Dennis Tan, a workplace safety and health trainer and member of the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) at a dialogue following Dr. Ng's speech to members of the NUSS and NUS alumni and staff on Friday night (22-1-10), to his credit he appeared not flustered and was able to give a dipolmatic answer. Dr. Ng replied: "The question is, does MM add value to Singapore? I'm not talking about in history, I'm talking about now. That's the question that should be asked, not whether he should retire or not. Singaporeans must decide. MM spots pitfalls, he tells you what to avoid. He pushed for F1, for the IRs. So you decide. At the end of the day, it's the vote. If his constituents at Tanjong Pagar feel he's not adding value, they are free to vote."

Very diplomatic except that this is the stock answer any minister, or for the matter the prime minister himelf, will give any inquisitive or well-meaning individuals who have the well-being of the political future of Singapore at heart. The PAP leadership has anticipated that the stepping down of MM Lee will be a hot topic, especially among the young electorate who wonder why this old scrooge is still drawing a whopping salary of over $3 million a year doing nothing but "forecasting". So all the ministers are primed to give the stock reply, maybe varying in style in giving it in some cases so as not to give the impression of regimentation.

There are very widespread dissensions among the public, PAP supporters notwithstanding, that MM Lee should be removed from his Minister Mentor's post. If the PAP leadership is still ignorant about this, it shows that their feedback unit is malfunctioning or their ground is feeding them only information that the leadership wants to hear. Whether MM Lee is adding value to Singapore is a moot point but he himself confesses that he does nothing but "forecasting". Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may find himself in an untenable position if he acts alone to remove MM Lee. who is after all his father. But it will be different if the ministers show some backbone and initiate action which would absolve the prime minister from the onerous responsibility of having to do the task himself and incur the infamy of being unfilial.

Does the PAP leadership sincerely believe that leaving the constituents at Tanjong Pagar to decide is the right course to resolve this matter. There are so many imponderables, one of which, very crucial, is whether the opposition is able to put up a team of credible candidates to face M M Lee's slate of candidates. Another is MM Lee is in a GRC and it will be impracticable to expect electors to vote against MM Lee without affecting his fellow-candidates. He still has his admirers among the electors, who are either blind to or condone his kinks. The million-dollar question is: Is the PAP leadership heeding the call of the public and sincere in wanting to resolve the problem of the removal of MM Lee ? The ball is in the PAP court.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is this a premonition of the PAP waning stars?

The news this morning in the Straits Times of a husband- and- wife team who have joined the opposition Reform Party should come as a welcoming and exhilarating tidings to the young Singapore electorate who will determine the fate of the highfalutin PAP. What made it so significant is that both husband and wife were government scholarship holders who graduated with first-class honours degrees from the world- renowned Cambridge University in England. The reason why they have not gravitated towards the PAP could be the same cogent reason for a hopefully high number of similarly intellectually endowed young men and women to join the opposition. And it will be a good omen for Singapore.

That the PAP hegemonists, especially the narcissistic Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, will be losing much sleep over this historical political development may not be an exaggeration. From their recent political posturing, it is obvious that they are fearing the day when their precarious position will succumb to a relentless onslaught by young invinvible Singaporeans who are bent in sweeping away the vestiges of an increasingly unpopular PAP regime. And the PAP wallahs are not standing idle and are strenously preparing the political ground to prevent such a disastrous phenomenon from happening. So one sees them relaxing some draconian rules and restrictions and offering sops to the electorate, especially the younger ones, in order to retain their loyalty. They are leaving no stones unturned in trying to woo young professionals to join their rank.

The tsunami that hit the Barisan National in Malaysia in the last general election could not have been lost on the PAP leaders. In fact, they were so distraught by it that they sheepishly sent their old war horse Minister Mentor Lee, ostensibly on a fraternal visit, to Malaysia to try to assess the real reason for the phenomenal transformation of the political allegiance of the Malaysian electorate, especially the young politically-conscious Malays. What the astute Minister Mentor saw could not have not convinced him that a similar tsunami could take place in Singapore, if not in the next general election, then in the one after that.

Minister Mentor is not unknown to have run down the opposition as inept and in no way qualified to form an alternative government. He is clearly too conceited in his blustering views. How can he say that the opposition could not govern efficiently if, in the first place, it has not been given an opportunity to administer a government? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Is Minister Mentor Lee not too presumptuous? Let Ms Hazel Poa and her husband Tony Tan Lay Thiam be the trail-blazers in leading an unrelenting influx of similary qualified young professionals to opposition parties to give the arrogant PAP a run for its money in the next general election. If history is allowed to manifest itself, PAP's mandate should have concluded its course and the Singapore people should be blessed with a rejuvenated but untried government formed by the opposition to begin an era of beneficial government to the people. The first heroic act of the new government will be expected to be the reduction of the obscene salaries the prime minister and his affluent ministers are now paying themselves unabashedly.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The True Colour of a Disingenuous Romanian Government

Events of the hit-and-run accident involving the Romanian charge-d'affaires Dr. Silviu Ionescu have now taken a dramatic turn with the latest Romanian Government's intractable stand on the whole affair. My earlier hopeful concept in my posting of 5-1-10 of a sagacious Romanian Government taking a humanitarian stand in this affair is now shown to be misplaced.

In a stunning twist, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now declared that Dr. Ionescu has been recalled to Romania and will not return to Singapore. This honourable gentleman disappeared suddenly three days after the hit-and-run accident and turned up in Romania. It has all the drama of a science fiction that it suddenly occurred to the Romanian MFA to declare Dr. Ionescu's recall to Romania, more than two weeks after his return to his home country. In fact, he had stated that that he would be returning to Singapore later this month. That this is clearly a ploy of the Romanian government not to allow Dr. Ionescu to assist in the police investigations which would in all likelihood turn out to be detrimental to him. The Romanian MFA is talking tongue-in-cheek if it professes to ensure that justice is done in this case. Even the condolences the Romanian Embassy gives to Ms. Yenny Young, wife of the deceased victim Tong Kok Wai, call for scrutiny considering that the condolences were not accompanied with an offer of compensation.

Like a comic opera, the Romanian MFA now says that it is conducting its own investigations into the hit-and-run accident and will forward results of its investigations to the country's Public Prosecutor. It is incredible how a reputable country can indulge in such childish pranks. How does it propose to investigate when the accident occurred in Singapore and all the relevant witnesses are here. Is the Romanian government trying to hoodwink the world it can genuinely investigate the accident which in all honesty it can only do by remote method.

The Singapore police have an unenviable reputation of being competent in their criminal investigations. They have carried out comprehensive investigations into this hit-and-run accident and have almost completed them except for the questioning of Dr. Ionescu which is crucial to the whole case. Dr. Ionescu has to account for his implication in the whole case and this now seems impossible with the latest intractable stand of the Romanian MFA in not allowing Dr. Ionescu to return to Singapore. And any lifting of the immunity of Dr. Ionescu will be out of the question.

Whther the Romanian Government by its intractable attitude is showing an ugly aspect of its feature may be too early to say. There is a remote possibility that it may relent, but how remote is that possibility is a million-dollar question.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Disoriented Romanian Diplomat

Diplomats are people with plenty of time on their hand and, if they do not have their families with them, are likely to explore the exotic sphere of amorous liaison. Our fun-loving Romanian diplomat Dr. Silviu Ionescu could not have been above this mould.

There is a Chinese saying: When one's stomach is full and warm one's thought is on sexual desire (bao nuan si yin yu). Dr. Ionescu is no angel and that he was with an Asian female companion in the early hours of December 15 could not have raised any eyebrow. He had earlier been to a karaoke lounge in Peace Centre and could have tippled whether to what extent is now difficult to ascertain. So willy-nilly he has to be given the benefit of the doubt that he was not inebriated.

After dropping his female companion off he apparently was heading home when he ploughed into first two pedestrians and later another one. He was driving a black Audi A6 with a diplomatic licence plate. That he claimed that he was not the driver at the time is a moot point and taxes the imagination when there is overwhelming evidence of public-spirited witnesses. There is the evidence of the taxi-driver whose cab he hailed at Sungei Kadut to take him back to River Valley Road. The fact that he disappeared suddenly three days after the hit-and-run accident and returned to Romania ostensibly for medical treatment does not add to his credibility. He promised that he would return to Singapore later this month to assist in the police investigation but it is prudent to wait and see.

Of the three victims of the hit-and-run accident, one had since succumbed to his injuries on Christmas day. The other two are luckier but are still under medical care. Whether the victims, especially the deceased's family, will get any compensation is a big question mark. The Romanian government cannot escape its moral responsibility here.

As long as Dr. Ionescu is outside the jurisdiction of Singapore, police investigations of the hit-and-run accident are likely to be handicapped. The facts are glaring and it is incumbent upon the Romanian government to direct Dr. Ionescu to return to Singapore to assist in the police investigations in the interest of justice and fair-play. The Romanian government will endear itself to Singaporeans, if not to the world, if it lifts the immunity of Dr. Ionescu to allow him to be prosecuted and face the penalty if there is concrete evidence to implicate him in the hit-and-run accident, in which a life has been lost.

Immunity is meant to protect diplomats from malicious persecutions by foreign governments and should not be abused. Where there is a clear case of fundamental injustice committed by a diplomat, the government of the diplomat concerned is judged whether its leaders show distinctive statemanship in their diplomacy of seeing to it that justice is done. So far, Romania is of high repute in the eyes of the world and it would not be worth its while to allow this little unfortunate incident to mar its reputation.