Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Comical Gaffe by Minister Khaw Boon Wan

The small Himalayan country called Bhutan came into prominence recently when its king married a commoner in a colourful ceremony and brought happiness to his subjects winning the universal acclaim of being the most happy nation on earth. This seems to strike a chord with Singaporeans who wish the Bhutanese well for their happiness which is to many people an elusive element in the Singapore society. However, along came a jocular figure in the person of Minister Khaw Boon Wan who pooh-poohed the universal perception that Bhutan could be the last Shangri-la on earth.`He also denigrated Bhutan that it could not be the happy country made out to be as its people are almost eking out a living from its not very fertile soil. Mr Khaw could not have been more pretentious by his depreciating remarks on Bhutan just from one brief visit to the country. Of course, he could not be faulted for trying to be more critical than the former MM Lee Kuan Yew in disparaging others.

Be that as it may, it could come as a mild shock to Mr Khaw to discover that there is a highly-cultured Bhutanese who goes by the name of PaSsu who could give him a lesson in logical argument in English. Does it surprise Mr Khaw that an ordinary Bhutanese could operate a blog on which he has posted that "this is in reply to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan of Singapore on his comments made on our country". For a Bhutanese he surprises readers with his fairly high standard of satirical replies to each of Mr Khaw's disparagements of his country.

Saying that he was not surprised when Mr Khaw said that "Bhutan is not the last Shangri-la on Earth" because a friend of his from Singapore found Bhutan only "full of mountains and valleys". The Bhutanese asked sarcastically:"When you visited Bhutan, what did you expect? Those flying mountains you saw in Avatar? or every Bhutanese merrily dancing in designer clothes? Well, you must have at least expected fancier cars and taller buildings but we only have taller mountains (not flying ones) and thicker forest (truly natural)". To Mr Khaw's uncomplimentary remarks that most of the time he only saw unhappy people toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products, the quick-witted Bhutanese quoted a proverb he had heard in school:"Two men looked through the prison window, one saw the mud and the other saw the horizon".

The humorous Bhutanese said that he was surprised that Mr Khaw spent most of his time in Bhutan looking in the fields and was amazed at his ability to figure out whether the people are happy or unhappy just by looking at them. He answered point-blank that if Mr Khaw had gone closer to see the people in the fields, he would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives which Mr Khaw would not understand. He would have seen a woman with a basket on her back holding arms with several children coming with steaming food and everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing, joking and feeding babies. The people do not worry about the next harvest or whether there would be buyers for their products. In fact, they do not do much commercial farming but do the farming to keep with tradition. When the sun sets, the people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting for a family get-together.

Well, Mr Khaw, Singapore may be a thriving modern city but what percentage of the people are really happy like the Bhutanese. The people who can be said to be extremely happy are ministers like your kind self who are drawing whopping salaries from the taxpayers' money. So before you venture again to dispense your uncomplimentary remarks about other countries, you will save yourself a lot of public disapprobation if you think twice before you open your big mouth. Or maybe ministers are so thick-skinned that one more criticism does not add further to their dented reputation.

The Bhutanese blog post is titled:"Bhutanese replies to Khaw Boon Wan's 'Shangri-la' comments". It is meant to be an open letter to Mr Khaw Boon Wan if he has not already read it.


Alan Wan said...

It's a real joke that when it comes to a real contest of the minds between 2 men, our million-dollar PAP Minister can't even beat a common peasant from Bhutan in an open debate.

Again it exposes the lie that our PAP leaders often likes to tell us that we must pay top money for the top brains we hire. Just like the lie about foreign talents bring in more jobs for our locals, only to discover in horror that foreign talents actually prefers foreign workers.

What a bloody blunder, PAP.

forabowlo frice said...

Is Passu "peasant" or "common" or both ?

Singapore Recalcitrant said...

It's a Bhutanese name given by the author. It has not occurred to anyone to ask him for the meaning.

Akashic said...

Sad for Singaporeans.

ser guan said...

"Two man looked through the prison window, one saw the mud and the other saw the horizon".
Actually, what he saw is not that important and is a matter of perspective, but he is in PRISON.
If being in PRISON does not matters, then all so political detainess did not suffer during their imprsionment.

none said...

This chor lang Khaw should just stick to comments about his eight dollar bypass and sending his aged parents to JB to save money; and leave any discussion about happiness and the Bhutanese to others. Having spent one week in Bhutan as a tourist, how qualified is he to speak on this subject in Parliament?

lorongm said...

Actually, Passu is short for Passang, who is a teacher in a Bhutanese school. In his blog, he also wrote about his short trip to Singapore a few years ago, sponsored by the Singapore. Interesting bloke. He was shocked by the phenomenal response to his blog posting!

Timothy Tang said...

I think I have realized the real reason why the Singapore minister said that the Bhutanese people are unhappy. It is because he was disappointed that he could not find the Happiness he sought when he went to Bhutan a few years ago in his personal capacity(who makes a trip all the way to Bhutan not to seek its Happiness?). So his failure to find Happiness in Bhutan could have led him to think that Bhutan's focus on Gross National Happiness is a scam/lie, which he later expressed this in his disparaging remarks made in parliament that the Bhutanese people don't look happy to him.

Bhutan is actually a place where people can find real Happiness/Liberation, but only if they look from the right perspective, otherwise they would fail to find it.

I hope one day he can find the right perspective to perceive and appreciate Bhutan's true Happiness.

I have wrote a spiritual article of the 5 core factors of Happiness in my Spiritual Facebook group

Recruit Ong said...

I am sure Khaw an ex-malaysian have a lot of "compliments" on the country he was born and raised in lol.

DeviantDefiantMann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DeviantDefiantMann said...

SHALLOW is the word. Singaporeans think they're on top of the world because we have a government that breeds such people. Singapore boasts of an elite education system; yet the minds of the citizens are but primitive and shallow in the most bizarre ways. Because they are exposed only to the monotomy of a metropolitan environment and are driven by the elements of competition in a totalitarian conglomeration of trite, they are quick to jump to conclusions when presented with a scenario and ignorance is inadvertently displayed. This is because Singaporeans expect others to abide by their modus operandi and have little or no wish to understand cultures beyond their '1ST-of-all-1st-world-nations' country.

A large number of those who travel are usually quick to make comparisons and look for attributes that make other countries inferior to Singapore and hence do not learn anything. We are governed by a body of people whose views and mode of handling issues are obscured, inevitably because of the quest for vast advancements, by selfishness, individualism, ignorance, arrogance, pretentiousness, shallowness and a contempt for things they don't understand. When we have stupid ministers such as the one above, the apples can't fall far from the tree even if they want to. Comments like these when made only justify a furor of despise from people of other countries. Knowledge has no boundaries and we would do well to learn from countries with a longer history rather than to constantly impose the need for others to learn from us. It is imperative our people abstain from such comments and exercise caution in choice of words to preserve our dignity and the civic morality of our nation before they get damaged beyond repair.

Unknown said...

Khaw claims to be a 'devout' buddhist
HA!!!! confirm by Goh Chok Tong who praised him for his calm buddhist demeanor.

Happiness is not measured in the houses and modern materials one has.
Buddha renounce his princely upbringing to live and search the path of happiness and nirvana found in the simple folks of Bhutan.

Jesus Christ came to serve and not to be served.

Here we have two ministers living in the lap of luxury with salaries beyond the imagination of TRUE buddhists and one demeaning the TRUE meaning of HAPPINESS and the other seeking NET happiness not TOTAL happiness found in BHUTAN a TRUE Shangrila.

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