SM Goh Chok Tong had asked, quite comically, how many had followed the tragic events in Japan with the tsunami ... and then put into context our floods in Singapore against that kind of disaster. He said:"I am not saying we shouldn't do anything about the flood. But the amount of noise you made with just sporadic flood compared to the Japanese. I saw them on TV. Very stoic looking. You don't see them crying. This has happened, just get on, that's the kind of spirit you want to have and you call it nation building."
Bravo SM Goh, coming from a minister drawing millions of dollars of obscene pay, about five times the modest pay of a Japanese minister. The Japanese are stoic looking in such a gigantic disaster because they have decent ministers who do not pay themselves outrageously from taxpayers' money, and yet are efficient in solving the people's problems. The way the Japanese ministers, led by their prime minister, in bringing succour to the devastated population in this tsunami disaster against colossal logistical odds can engender the kind of stoic look extolled by SM Goh.
Any why cannot the fastidious Singaporeans exibit that kind of spirit? Take the Enviroment Minister, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, for example. He draws a salary four to five times that of a Japanese minister and during the Orchard Road deluge, he made himself scarce leaving the flustered shop-keepers and traders to fend for themselves fighting the flood resulting in thousands, if not millions, of dollars in loss or damage to property. Dr Yaacob was also the prophet to say that such flood occurred once in fifty years. So how can Singaporeans be stoic looking like the Japanese when our ministers' dedication is seen to be so inferior to the Japanese, in spite of our ministers' astronomical pay. So it is necessary for Singaporeans to make appropriate noises from time to time to jolt our ministers out of their apparent lethargy or complacency.
The ministers' astronomical pay should be a sore point with Singaporeans and opposition parties should exploit it in their election campaigns. To add to the insult, the ministers are paying themselves eight months' bonus. Singaporeans should be made aware of the preposterous situation where the PAP government pay their ministers outrageous increases or bonuses whenever they feel that they could justify such largesse to themselves. However hard they try to justify their astronomical pay, not all Singaporeans are convinced of their fallacious arguments. So opposition parties must not fall into the trap that this is a fait accompli and not worthy of highlighting in their hustings.
Talking of opposition unity, the proposed slate of candidates of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) for the Moulmein-Kallang GRC could be said to be of excellent material capable of capturing this GRC, nothwithstanding whatever calibre of the candidates that the PAP will put up. Workers' Party (WP) which is also keenly eyeing this GRC, should, in the bigger interest of opposition unity, give way in a gentlemenly manner to the NSP to contest this GRC. If NSP captures this GRC, it will reflect sublimely to the camaraderie spirit of the WP which will win it the respect of the electorate.