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.