Friday, December 4, 2015

Cowboy Khaw Boon Wan

The Minister of Transport is a hazardous occupation which no ambitious PAP ministerial candidate would want to step into voluntarily. Although Cowboy Khaw did not actually volunteer for the job but because of his reputation as a trouble-shooter when he helmed the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Development he became the obvious choice for a distressing PM Lee Hsien Loong to appoint to this hot seat. And in line with his flamboyant character Cowboy Khaw could hardly hide his ecstacy as his appointment could provide him with the golden opportunity to flaunt his so-called extraordinary prowess to deal with an extremely intractable rail problem which had caused the political demise of his two predecessors.

Since taking over the Minister of Transport portfolio, with due credit to him, he has shown incredible diligence in learning the intricacies of engineering construction of the rail system and of the permutation of every conceivable technical fault with the hope of finding a concrete solution to all these ills.He has appointed the PUB chairman Mr. Tan Gee Paw as an advisor to the MRT whose unique experience in water supply maintenance is considered to be invaluable in helping Cowboy Khaw in solving the rail maintenance problem.

His almost daily regalement of his efforts in keeping the public informed of what he perceives as the technical faults of the rail system and of the diligence with which he has organised his technical staff to look searchingly for every possible technical fault to set it right could not have missed the attention of the public. He portrays the rail engineers as "rat-catchers".His diligent efforts should have rewarded him with zero rail disruption and the breakdown of the North-East Line on 26 October affecting 41,000 commuters in the morning rush hour could not but have caused him immense agony.For a moment he seemed to be in despair by quoting Murphy's Law to emphasise his point that we can be prepared to expect worsened rail disruptions. So the disruption on 25 November of the North-South Line affecting 70,000 commuters is like a prediction come true.

It is to his advantage that he has not lost his nerves and seems to be quite quick in recovering his composure to continue with the arduous task of gaining public confidence to his relentless pursuit of finding a panacea to his rail problems. His latest stunt in combining the expertise of the LTA, SMRT, SBS Transit and PUB water engineers to tackle the intractable rail problems may well be the step in the right direction.

Cowboy Khaw works very hard and possesses an indomitable spirit to excel. He may well turn out to be the right person for the job and his assiduousness may well bear him the fruitful result that he deserves.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Cowboy Minister of Transport

The Transport Ministry had caused the casualty of two ministers in the past and is regarded by any incoming incumbent as a hazardous occupation. So PM Lee Hsien Loong was presented with a knotty problem in selecting a new Transport Minister. Quite understandably no courageous candidate would stick his neck out by volunteering. It so happened PM Lee had a sudden hunch that the post was tailored for the flamboyant Khaw Boon Wan who he regarded as a trouble-shooter. It also fitted into the flamboyant character of Khaw who saw this as a golden opportunity to flaunt his so-called extraordinary prowess.

Khaw was obviously tickled pink by the plethora of publicity surrounding his appointment. He was portrayed as a potential omnipotent rehabilitator of the notoriously inefficient rail system. He regaled the public with his knowledge of the mystique of the rail network and on how he thought its maintenance should be pursued. He spoke as if he was an expert on the intricacies of the construction engineering of the rail system. He would put his engineers whom he described as "rat-catchers" to make a comprehensive detection of any potential flaws in the maintenance of the technical construction. He appointed Mr. Tan Gee Paw, Chairman of PUB, as an advisor to the MRT as his so-called unique invaluable experiences in water supply maintenance are thought to be very apt and most useful in solving the rail maintenance problem. Mr. Tan appeared to be the person who coined the word "rat-catcher" to describe the engineers, who may not be amused. Khaw said maintenance is not sexy which may not be comprehensible to the public.

To be fair to Cowboy Khaw Boon Wan, his almost daily regalement could not but have attracted the rapt attention of the public but sometimes it may seem to be a little bit long-winded. And does his daily talk lull the keen sense of security of the public that rail disruption will be a thing of the past? The answer was almost instantaneous when the North East Line broke down on 26 October causing disruption to about 41,000 commuters in the morning rush hour. And all that Cowboy Khaw could exclaim was that it had tarnished our reputation and not a word to soothe the ire of the commuters. Well, this is not a very auspicious start of his watch and he will no doubt keep his fingers crossed that another disruption will not be so soon in coming until he is well prepared mentally to tackle such disruption to his well-oiled programme. To the Public he seems to be solely occupied with the affairs of the MRT to the exclusion of all else in his ministry. Over time he may yet prove that he is the right man for the job. Maybe he should try to open up his window a little bit and consider the nationalisation of the transport system as a panacea to all the transport ills. The only drawback is that this idea originated from the Workers' Party which is anathema to the PAP.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Can we have the truth?

The Hepatitis C virus infections at the renal ward of the Singapore General Hospital saga has shown the glaring ineptitude of the PAP Government in a cover-up of the medical mishap of such magnitude from the public until October  when the discovery was made in April/May. What really dismayed the public was the wide gap of misadministration when the MOH's Director of Medical Service knew of the existence of the cluster of 22 infections on 3 September and 18 September when the Minister for Health was informed of the cluster. And the public was only informed in October. It just is not the kind of confidence to be given to the public of the ineptitude of the Healthcare system when six inexplicable deaths were involved and the public only came to know about them so long after.

The attitude of the Minister for Health in all these ill-boded events seems so remotely in evidence. He seemed to accept the late reporting of the cluster to him as something normal and quite contented to allow his officials to handle the incident apparently without oversight. This seems to be supported by the letter of his Press Secretary to the Straits Times Forum on 20 October. There could be no question that the formation of the independent review committee could not have been done without his knowledge or imprimatur.

But is the independent review committee really the answer to the task of thoroughly investigating the unfortunate outbreak of Hepatitis C virus infections at the renal ward and the inexplicable inordinate delay in announcing it to the public? The composition of the committee is such that it may not be able to act freely and independently without awkward constraints. It is hardly in the public interest if its report is not independent in the strictest sense.

The PAP Government should therefore seriously consider the suggestion of the Workers' Party to constitute a Committee of Inquiry in place of the review committee to look thoroughly into the incident. The Government should not adopt a head-in-the-sand attitude just because the suggestion came from the Workers' Party. NCMP Leon Perera who acts for WP in making the suggestion is to all intents and purposes doing it in the public interest and is not trying to be one up on the PAP. So the automatic reaction of immediately putting the WP on the defence without examining the merits of the suggestion may not go down well with the public but the PAP flush with their recent GE victory may choose to ride roughshod over the WP's suggestion with impunity. There is nothing the WP or the public can do if this is how the PAP wants to show its hubris.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The immortality of the fortunes of the Workers' Party

It will not be a surprise if this impudent title raises the eyebrow of Singaporeans after the near devastation of the Workers' Party following the electoral tsunami in the recent General Election. It is a major setback for the political future of the WP after all the tangible signs showed that they were on the political ascendency before GE. The adverse election results came like a lightning bolt out of the blue sky which left them completely stunned. Even PM Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues were not sure of their political fortunes and the stunning landslide victory was something like a godsend beyond their expectations. As a credit to him, PM Lee reacted with quite uncharacteristic humility to the incredible PAP victory.

It has preoccupied the minds of political pundits the perplexing phenomenon of the WP electoral fiasco when they were seen to be on the upper hand in their vigorous and even aggressive campaigns with incredibly mammoth crowds at their election rallies. Their walkabouts were very well received and the pitch of their arguments were so intense that even the PAP rivals were overawed. The talk around town was that the WP would capture East Coast GRC, Marine Parade GRC and Fengshan SMC in addition to retaining their incumbent GRC and SMCs. On Election Day itself the betting by bookies was so heavily in favour of WP winning the two additional GRCs and one SMC that it was expected to be a foregone conclusion.

So what could have happened for the results to be so cruelly humiliating to the WP. Some school of thought attributed it to the fear of a silent majority to the so-called overly aggressive election campaigns of the WP which  will cripple a PAP administration if the WP captured more seats than what they were having. So they switched their votes to the PAP. Another school of thought believed that the new citizens who comprise about 14 per cent of the electorate tilted the results in PAP's favour. They have everything to lose if the PAP were defeated. It would however be safe to say that a combination of these two factors contributed to the PAP's stunning victory.

Some who had voted the PAP out of fear of WP's dominance are now regretting their hasty decisions. In an article "one session of democratic lesson" (一堂民主課) in the Sunday Zaobao, there were the following reactions: Facing with this result, not only those voters who did not cast their votes for the PAP were unhappy, even those voters who voted for the PAP were also unhappy. One friend pointedly exhibited his dissatisfaction: "I want PAP to win but do not want them to win so numerously." There were others more agitated who angrily said:"This is the regression of democracy". It will be interesting to find out how widespread this dissatisfaction is.

The setback encountered by the WP can be considered only temporary, at most till the next GE. They must not lose faith and they are doing the right thing by picking up the pieces and starting afresh.They have some very good leaders who will no doubt be able to regain the confidence of the voters, especially those who had cast their votes for the PAP out of fear, in time for the next GE. There is no such thing as a perpetual loser and WP MPs' performances in Parliament and in their constituencies will be keenly watched by the electorate. Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang and Chairman Sylvia Lim have gone through their baptism of fire and are capable of leading the WP back into prominence. The immortality of the fortunes of the Workers' Party is never in doubt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cliffhanger GE 2015

A rejuvenated PM Lee Hsien Loong has finally come to terms with his inner self and has called a general election for 11 September 2015 which has been eagerly expected.  Today is Nomination Day and as expected the PAP is contesting all 89 seats. The Workers' party has nominated candidates for 28 seats and forms the biggest majority among the opposition parties.

This election is mainly a cliffhanger between the PAP and the Workers' Party, which won a GRC and two SMCs in the last election in 2011. The PAP has not really recovered from the humiliation of its defeat at the hands of the WP in Aljunied GRC in GE 2011. It is still smarting from the defeat and has reluctantly put up a token team to contest the Aljunied GRC in GE 2015. A brash DPM Thaman Shamugaratnam, who introduced the team, had the temerity to say that they have a fighting chance of recapturing the GRC, but then it is glaringly conspicuous that they are terrified in putting a minister, who is more eminent than the humbled George Yeo, as an anchor minister to lead the team. Instead an expendable Yeo Guat Kwang is put up as a sacrificial lamb to anchor the team.

Now we come to the antics of the great inimitable ESM Goh Chok Tong who is a member to the PAP team contesting the Marine Parade GRC. ESM Goh is obviously over the hill and shows senility by his delirious utterance describing the WP as "nomads out to plunder". WP's foray into Marine Parade GRC has obviously caused him numerous nightmares for him to be irrational in his speech.  In view of the result of the last election in 2011 in Marine Parade GRC in which the PAP scrapped through with a razor-thin margin against the National Solidarity Party, it really scares the shit out of ESM Goh that the PAP is in danger of succumbing to a formidable WP team. Very wisely he volunteered the anchoring of the PAP team to an unsuspecting Tan Chuan Jin as he would not want to be shown to be the anchorman in the remote possibility of a PAP defeat. So glamour boy Tan Chuan Jin may carry the honour of becoming the fall guy.

Another GRC that may go the way of Marine Parade GRC may be the East Coast GRC helmed by the eccentric Lim Swee Say. He may forever be indulging in all kinds of antics which may or may not go down well with the electors of East Coast GRC. He and his now famous preposterous phrase "better, betterer and betterest" seems to tickle PM Lee Hsien Loong no end but the public is doubtful to find it amusing. PM Lee obviously finds him an indispensible jocular character who, if nothing else, is able to help him hold his Cabinet together with his preposterous antics. Again the PAP won the East Coast GRC in GE 2011 by the skin of its teeth.

Yet another GRC which the PAP may be in danger of succumbing to the formidable WP is the Jalan Besar GRC. With the demographic ethnicity of the GRC, Yaacob Ibrahim may find himself like a fish out of water. He is supposed to anchor the PAP team but in a pamphlet handed out to residents Denise Phua is placed ahead of him. He may be popular with the Malay/Muslim community but is likely to cut no ice with the non-Malays in the GRC because he hardly mingles with the Chinese residents. Maybe this is why Denise Phua appears to tbe anchoring the PAP team.

Vivian Balakhrishnan may be more fortunate in that his PAP team is not facing any formidable WP team in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. But he may turn out to be the Achilles' heel that the formidable Dr. Paul Tambyah of the Singapore Democratic Party team is looking out for in the PAP team.

Ms. Tin Pei Ling of the PAP can consider herself extremely fortunate and should thank the National Solidarity Party for joining the fray at the MacPherson SMC. The WP chances of success in a three-cornered contest are greatly reduced.

The PAP is more concerned with the formidable challenge of the Workers' Party who may end up with an additional two to three GRCs in addition to Aljunied GRC with any luck. The PAP is bound to capitalise on the so-called lapses of the WP Town Council in its election campaign but the danger of overplaying the issue is ever present. The election campaigns of the PAP and the opposition parties, especially the WP's, will be interesting to watch as it will give an indication of the voting trends.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The over-hyped National Day Rally

There was a publicity overdrive on PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally as it was obvious that he was anxious that his Sermon on the Mount would reach as wide an audience as possible. As it turned out it was nothing more than a captive audience comprising mainly PAP ministers, MPs, grassroot leaders, PAP supporters and a sprinkling of students, who listened in awesome attention to his so-called exquisite oratory. The Workers' Party MPs very wisely gave the Rally a miss as it would have put them in an untenable position having to endorse the electioneering effort and excessive extolment of the late Lee Kuan Yew which they anticipated would be a feature of the Rally speech. They instead organised a dinner for their supporters to celebrate Singapore's Golden Jubilee. Other opposition parties had also organised separate social events on that day.

The attendees at the Rally were a captive audience and PM Lee was at his best in mesmerising his audience with his absorbing narrative on what social and political problems Singapore was facing and the Government's efforts in overcoming them. He was seen to be in his element when he delivered his speech with such finesse that he had the audience applauding from time to time whenever he made a significant point. It would have been a consummation of his oratory if he had refrained from extolling ad nauseam the so-called virtues of his late father Lee Kuan Yew and turning the Rally into an electioneering stunt calling for the election of the PAP team in the general election. Of course the attendees by their very nature would be the PAP's loyal electors. But how widely this will percolate down to the electorate will be a million-dollar question.

The PAP has the distinct advantage in its early announcement of its candidates for the general election and the fawning write-ups by a subservient press. The opposition has not disclosed its complete line-ups but the Worker's Party will be defending its incumbent constituencies. So everything seems to be ready except the announcement of an election date by PM Lee which is thought to be likely in early September. The biggest PAP casualty so far seems to be the Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew who is portrayed as resigning to take the rap (引咎辞聀) for the SMRT breakdowns. Ministers Lim Swee Say and Vivian Balakhrishnan who were given commendable mention by PM Lee in his Rally speech may have their work cut out in defending their seats because of their poor esteem with the electors.

PM Lee has said in his Rally speech that the coming general election is a critical one and that the PAP is going all out to win the election. He thinks the ground is favourable to the PAP for the general election to be called. This hustings may turn out to be a watershed election.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The root cause of the SMRT debacle

It's a truism that in a privatised organisation like the SMRT, the priority is to maximise profits for the shareholders. The major shareholder of SMRT is Temasek Holdings. It follows that SMRT commuters are placed very low in its priority and as a result maintenance could not have been placed in a very important position.

The rot really started with the appointment of Ms. Saw Phaik Hwa as CEO. Her only experience was in the retail business and she knew next to nothing in the running of SMRT and its maintenance. She was however successful in making hugh profits for the shareholders, especially Temasek Holdings, mainly through rentals of SMRT properties and for a time she was able to ride high in the organisation. Although there were rail disruptions under her watch, they were not thought serious enough to warrant any Governmental attention. However as luck would have it, a massive rail disruption occurred in December 2011 which necessitated the setting up of a Committee of Inquiry (COI) by the Government. That massive disruption and the  rather harsh verdict of the COI  made it impossible for Ms. Saw to continue as CEO of SMRT. The irony is that she was handsomely rewarded for her departure from SMRT.

It's amazing that the Government had not learned from the bitter lesson of Ms. Saw Phaik Hwa. To the confoundment of the public, especially the commuting public, the Government made the bizarre appointment of Desmond Kuek, an ex-army lieutenant-general, as CEO of SMRT in replacement of Ms. Saw. What credentials he had in remedying the transport woes of SMRT, only the myopic PM Lee Hsien Loong and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew were able to perceive. He did not give a good impression of himself to the public right from the start. While SMRT was bedevilled by an illegal bus strike by Chinese national bus drivers, this joker Desmond Kuek was frolicking on a vacation in the US. He returned to Singapore after the strike was over.

He has no technological qualification or experience in running an MRT and was out of his depth in coping with the maintenance of SMRT. He was no better than Ms. Saw whom he replaced and in his desperate effort to prevent frequent breakdowns he brought four army cronies into the management to assist him. But they were just like him completely ignorant in the running of an MRT and so the SMRT continued to experience frequent rail breakdowns to the anger and inconvenience of commuters. What takes the cake was the massive breakdown of the North-South and East-West lines on 7 July. PM Lee Hsien Loong appeared shattered by the massiveness of the breakdown and had the eerie premonition that another massive breakdown of this scale could happen at any time. That he and his Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew could still be shielding the joker Desmond Kuek will be at their peril. That Kuek has been making profits for the shareholders could not be underestimated as he would not have been awarded the $2.25m remuneration.

The point is as long as the SMRT is privatised and profit-oriented, the poor and unfortunate commuters will suffer from frequent rail breakdowns, not excluding massive disruptions. So it is time that PM Lee Hsien Loong and his Transport Minister wake up from their slumber and seriously consider the nationalisation of the transport system as a perpetual remedy of the transport woes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

From disaster to disaster at the SMRT

It has been proven umpteen times in the past that so long as the joker Desmond Kuek remains as CEO SMRT, frequent rail disruptions will remain a perennial problem. It did not come as a surprise to many Singaporeans when both the North-South and East-West lines were severely disrupted for more than two hours from around 7 pm last night (7 July) causing overwhelming difficulties and confusion to commuters at peak hour. It must have been a sick joke for Desmond Kuek to have the temerity to make a long speech at the Company's annual general meeting on how much rail reliability had improved just hours before the disruptions. Could there have been a bigger clown on whom PM Lee and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew placed such a high estimation? Frequent rail disruptions will continue if thisjoker Desmond Kuak continues to helm the SMRT.

Would not the Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew be shedding crocodile tears to show extreme concern now on both the North-South and East-West lines affected by the disruption? He could not now pretend that he was not aware of the inadequacies of Desmond Kuek whose credentials to helm the SMRT are highly flawed. He was an army general whose whole life experience had been in getting the army yes men to be in strict discipline. So what expertise could he have in running a complex SMRT which requires technological knowledge to run smoothly without disruption. To add to his antics he brought in his army cronies to pack the management which could not but have led to the frequent breakdowns.

Could PM Lee and Minister Lui Tuck Yew be so myopic as not to be able to see the shortcomings of Desmond Kuek at the expense of commuters? The public could not have been more flabbergasted than when Kuek was given a substantial bonus recently ostensibly for his excellent management of SMRT. The public could not have been more perplexed to know what improvement Desmond Kuek has brought to SMRT to deserve the bonus if you have the dishonesty to disregard the frequent rail disruptions. So it comes down to the question of one scratching the back of each other at the expense of the commuters. Commuters will suffer as long as the status quo continues. Surely there could not be such a dearth of competent candidates with the right technological expertise around to run the SMRT efficiently. And what hold Desmond Kuek has on PM Lee and Minister Lui to enable him to cock a snook at them with impunity may never been known.

It has often been advocated that the nationalisation of the transport system could be the panacea of the transport ills and it is the reluctance or fear  of the Government to consider the subject that is preventing a solution to the transport woes.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What does the unconscionable PM Lee think he is doing to Amos Yee?

What Madam Mary Toh, the mother of Amos Yee, has revealed about the inhuman treatment of his son in the Institute of Health (IMH) is shocking.

Amos Yee is diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from "autism spectrum disorder" and is being remanded at the IMH for psychiatric observation as to whether he is suitable for mandatory psychiatric treatment which will be for two years. Amos Yee's medical condition is autism and not derangement and it is insanity on the part of the authorities to put this vulnerable teenager in a block together with adult patients suffering from derangement.

What kind of compunction does PM Lee need before he could realise that he is ruining the life of an upcoming teenager because he had described his father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, as a "horrible man" in his video. Is that such a capital crime that PM Lee could only be appeased with the destruction of this otherwise innocent teenager? Since his arrest Amos Yee has been put through enormous inhuman treatment such as being hand-cuffed and having his legs shackled when he was brought before the court. Now he is confined with insane persons and put in a bare cell with only a urinal and a mattress. The light in his cell is kept on 24 hours everyday no doubt with the evil intention of depriving him of any sleep with the hope that this will cause him derangement.

The one million dollar question is when will the unconscionable PM Lee wake up from his vindictiveness and call a stop to the inhuman treatment of the victimised Amos Yee?  Amos Yee's atrocity has attracted world-wide attention and even the august United Nations Human Rights Commission has joined in the call for the Singapore Government to exercise humanity and conscience in dealing with Amos Yee. The irony is that what Amos Yee is guilty of is a minor infraction of disparaging the Christians (which surprisingly no Christian of any standing has openly shown being offended) and the circulation of an obscene imagery which is derogatory of Lee Kuan Yew, but this is being transformed into a comic opera of a serious crime almost in proportion to a murder.

PM Lee surely could not be so daft and devoid of common sense as to victimise an unfortunate teenager first to satisfy his hurt feeling and to win over a minority of Singaporeans who might be unsympathetic to Amos Yee. But PM Lee can only be unresponsive to world opinion and to the massive criticisms of Singaporeans shocked by the atrocious treatment of Amos Yee at his peril.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A comparison between the Old Guards and the present millionaire Prime Minister and ministers

PM Lee Hsien Loong has never ceased to try to portray his late father Lee Kuan Yew as the founding father who had brought Singapore from the third world to the present first world. LKY has passed away since 23 March and so far no historian has emerged to give a verdict of this "titan". Perhaps they have not yet been able to reconcile his so-called achievements with some of his character flaws so that they may need a little more time to remedy their thoughts. And so meanwhile Singaporeans would have to be a little more patient to wait for the historians' verdict.

In the meantime let's talk about LKY's political actions which had brought progress and prosperity to Singapore and its people. He was undeniably a dynamic prime minister and he and his old guard ministers like Dr. Goh Keng Swee, Mr. S.Rajaratnam, Mr. Hon Sui Sen and Dr. Toh Chin Chye were really serving the people without any avaricious thoughts of enriching themselves with taxpayers' money. And LKY was fortunate to have the services Dr. Albert Winsemius, a UN Economic Advisor who helped build Singapore to what it is today.

Under the Old Guards, Singaporeans could be said to have enjoyed a reasonably satisfactory way of life with affordable public housing almost universally available to those who needed it. The prices of public housing were indeed very affordably moderate. Complaints of high cost of living were unheard of as prices of commodities were really within the means of low-level income group. With the help of Dr. Goh Keng Swee and Dr. Albert Winsemius the economy really got going and improved tremendously to the extent that it generated an unmistakeable feeling of euphoria among Singaporeans irrespective of their social status. It was the Old Guards and not Lee Kuan Yew , who merely provided the figurehead leadership, who brought the progress and prosperity to Singapore to make it into a first world status. And they have the gratitude of Singaporeans for this change of fortune and their service to the people.

But from the second generation of leadership under Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, the political idealism of PAP seemed to have undergone a critical change. There was no longer the idealism of serving the people but a scramble to raise the salaries of the prime minister and his ministers to an obscenely high level. There were naturally massive protests including a highly critical missive from the famous author Catherine Lim but the hubristic Goh Chok Tong simply adopted a dictatorial attitude in not heeding them. He even adopted an intimidating attitude in his reply to Catherine Lim.

The third generation leadership under PM Lee Hsien Loong is no better. He and his money-minded ministers continued to pay themselves obscenely high salaries while at the same time unabashedly professed to serve the people. Probable as a result of conscience-smitten and as a sop to mitigate the anger of the people, PM Lee and his bunch of ministers reluctantly agreed to a cosmetic reduction of their obscene salaries. But they still continue to pocket millions of dollars from taxpayers' money. Quite ridiculously the pay of the army generals who packed the Cabinet is benchmarked to the pay of the 1000 top Singapore earners. Can you imagine the pay of technicians benchmarking to that of engineers which is an apt analogy?

Compared to the Old Guards, what has PM Lee Hsien Loong done to ameliorate the cost of living which continues to balloon without end in sight? The so-called affordable housing policy is a sick joke as public housing in Singapore has never been so pricey and unaffordable. A coffee shop in Bukit Batak recently changed hand for $31 million and no doubt the owner will be raising the rents of his stallholders which will increase the food prices and the cost of living.

The Prime Minister and his ministers are happily enriching themselves with taxpayers' money for ostensibly serving the people while the lower-income Singaporeans are suffering from trying to make ends meet with the oppressive high cost of living. In this connection it will be incumbent upon the opposition to pursue the issue of the obscene ministerial salaries in their election campaign. The ground is favourable to the opposition and they must not allow this opportunity to slip through their fingers by staying united.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The supreme fighting-spirit of Amos Yee

By now the name of Amos Yee is known far and wide for his supreme fighting-spirit in his confrontation with the inhuman PAP Government. The name must also be the cause of persistent nightmares to the clownish PM Lee Hsien Loong. Imagine a 16 year-old being shackled in both hands and legs and brought before the court. What kind of human being is capable of inflicting such inhuman treatment to a 16 year old boy is beyond humanity. It does not only horrify right-thinking Singaporeans but other right-thinking people in the world as well. How would PM Lee react if his teenage son was shackled in both hands and legs and brought before a court? This would not happen under the PAP but retribution has a strange way of manifesting itself, especially when PAP has dissipated.

Besides the anti-Christianity charge and the charge of circulating obscene imagery, the inimitable Amos Yee has composed one of the most derogatory depiction of the late psychological monster (described by an American author) Lee Kuan Yew that has been causing PM Lee the persistent nightmares. This third charge has been stood down for some esoteric reason. If the composition is done by Amos Yee himself, and there is no reason to think otherwsie, Amos Yee is certainly one of the most talented teenager to have renowned Singapore with his most poignant denunciation of the late Lee Kuan Yew. Could this be the reason for his inhuman treatment by the PAP Government? In addition to being shackled, he is being remanded with adult prisoners and runs the risk of being sodomised.

What catches the imagination of right-thinking Singaporeans is Amos Yee's remarkable defiant attitude to all efforts by the court and other heavy-handed authorities to bring him to his knees, considering that he is only 16 years old. To think that there are still highly selfless-motivated lawyers to come out under such adversity to defend Amos Yee pro-bono is something for the clownish PM Lee to ponder over. Fear of reprisals is no longer enough to deter the good Samaritans to come to the aid of their oppressed fellow brethren.

The disgraceful spectacle of the inhuman treatment of 16 year-old Amos Yee is not confined to a Singaporean audience and by now should have attracted horrified attention of right-thinking people around the world. The first round of the court case took place this morning (7 May) and ended rather abruptly without the ability of the court to curb the exuberance of a highly-spirited Amos Yee. So it has been adjourned without much fanfare to tomorrow (8 May) and Singaporeans may watch with abated breath the final arbitration of Amos Yee. Whatever it is, the indomitable spirit of Amos Yee  will be a fine example, especially for a united opposition in the next GE.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Is this the passing of a Titan?

The once powerful and invincible Lee Kuan Yew is finally gone, after suffering for 46 agonising days hooked to a mechanical ventilator in the Singapore General Hospital. The Chinese believe that how well a person dies reflects on his or her kindness or cruelty in his or her life. Is this the passing of a Titan? This will depend on which side of the political spectrum one stands. PAP diehards and mesmerised aficionados will of course hail him as a great man who has brought Singapore from a third-world backwater to its first-world status today. Is that an honest assessment? In actual fact Lee Kuan Yew merely provided the figurehead leadership and without the indispensible expertise and monumental efforts of PAP pioneers like Dr. Goh Keng Swee, Mr. S. Rajaratnam, Mr. Hon Sui Sen and of course the eminent UN Economic Advisor Albert Winsemius, the much vaunted Lee Kuan Yew would have been reduced to a nonentity.These economic and political goliaths, especially Albert Winsemius, helped build Singapore to what it is today. This has been the narrative among discerning Singporeans.

When he was prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew had been known to be frequently hobnobbing with world leaders and with his oratorical skills had no trouble getting these world leaders to eat out of his hand. That they held Lee Kuan Yew in very high respect was never in doubt, quite oblivious to his severe character flaws. So we can now expect the outpouring of emotions from these world leaders to mourn Lee's passing. Such display of hypocrisy is not uncommon.

Is there any character flaw in the late Lee Kuan Yew? Some of his unfortunate political opponents are no longer alive to answer that. Some of them suffered immensely, whether real or imaginary depending on which side you are on, at the hand of the humanitarian Lee Kuan Yew but strangely bore no ill-will against him. The late Dr. Lim Hock Siew's son was five months old when he was unceremonously detained under Operation Coldstore on 2 February, 1963 and entered university when his father was humanely released after 19 years in detention. Chia Thye Poh held the honour of 32 years in detention, even longer than the famous South African leader Nelson Mandela.

If, in a moment of compassion, we think that Lee Kuan Yew had suffered enough in his illness, perhaps we could allow his tortured soul to rest in peace. We could show some magnanimity even if this was not one of his traits in his lifetime. Lee Kuan Yew had said this in a moment of bravado:"When the coffin is closed, the verdict will be known" (蓋棺論定). So historians, whether authentic or pseudo, will soon scramble to fulfill his wish by giving a verdict of how he had contributed to Singapore's society and the world, including his severe character flaws, if they strictly abide by the code of their profession.

It will not be remiss here to give a little conscientious advice to the enlightened PM Lee Hsien Loong. Would you be humane enough to redeem a little bit of your late father's handiwork by relaxing the inordinate persecution of Francis Seow and Tang Liang Hong by allowing them safe return to Singapore to lead a normal life? By no stretch of imagination can they be described as major security threat. There is a Chinese saying that if you want to impose a criminal charge on a person there is no dearth of a reason.(欲加之罪,何患無詞).

There is no dissenting view that the late Lee Kuan Yew  be accorded a State Funeral, which is befitting his status. However, the conundrum of denying a State Funeral to the late President Ong Teng Cheong has never been satisfactorily explained. The late Mr. Ong Teng Cheong is popularly known as the People's President.

Lastly, we offer you PM Lee Hsien Loong our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your loving father, the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A sinister omen of impending ministerial payrise

The obscenely high salaries of PM Lee Hsien Loong and his incorruptible ministers have never ceased to draw vitriolic adverse reactions from Singaporeans, minus PAP diehards. They have the audacity to benchmark their pay to the top 1000 earners in Singapore with their run-of-the-mill calibre and have the dubious reputation of being the highest-paid ministers and prime minister in the world. Even US President Barack Obama draws a modest salary of US$400,000 a year and would it not be burlesque for our clownish PM Lee to compare himself with the redoubtable President Barack Obama. They can, of course, do whatever they want with taxpayers' money with impunity by paying themselves with obscenely high salaries. So whether Singapore voters will want this ridiculous abuse of taxpayers' money to continue indefinitely will depend on the wisdom of the voters in the next GE with the help of a united opposition to galvanise them into voting for the opposition.

In the meantime, one would have thought that these money-grabbing PAP ministers will have the gumption to enjoy their obscenely high salaries in a contented manner without making any fuss. So is the sudden announcement in Parliament by an ebullient DPM Teo Chee Hean that the salaries of ministers have not gone up in the last three years even though the benchmark they are linked to has risen by around 3 per cent each year a sinister omen of an impending payrise for the filthily-rich ministers and the prime minister at public expense? DPM Teo mentioned that the Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries had recommended that the salary framework be reviewed every five years and the PAP Government can continue to adjust salaries within this framework should there be a change in overall salary levels in the coming years. The poor Workers' Party has been dragged in to give an aura of civility in the announcement.

The Chinese believe that in any pursuit of wealth or power, it is prudent to stop at the appropriate time  (適可而止) for if you persist in being greedy in the end you will end up a pauper.(贪而無厭,反而変为贫). Examples abound in China of the downfall of high-ranking officials who enriched themselves whilst in office. DPM talked of the ethos of political service. How this can be reconciled with paying themselves obscenely high salaries in order to serve the people? Is this service to the people or self-serving? Even Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo asserted unashamedly in a recent REACH forum on NSF allowance that "service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents". Is this not a slap in the face of the clown Lee Hsien Loong, the so-called prime minister?

Let us hope that the greedy thought of increasing ministerial salaries is only a wild imagination that will just dissipate with DPM Teo's announcement which may have been made out of the insanity of the moment.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The disordered SMRT under over-rated CEO Desmond Kuek

To say that the name Desmond Kuek is synonymous with frequent rail disruptions is not an exaggeration. The employment of this ex-SAF Lieutenant-general as CEO in 2011 was not without misgiving among Singaporeans as it was considered ridiculous that an ex-SAF Lt-general without the necessary business and technical experience could run the SMRT efficiently. An ex-SAF general's experience was in running the SAF and used to issuing orders to soldiers with absolute obedience. Running the SMRT is altogether different and requires business and technical acumen that a CEO must be endowed with.

To show what a joker CEO Desmond Kuek is, he could display a blatant irresponsibility two months after assuming duty as CEO by vacationing in the United States in complete disregard to an illegal strike by 171 PRC drivers of SMRT. He returned only after everything had been brought under control.

Another instance of his inadequacy was in bringing in four SAF buddies into the SMRT management in December 2012 "to steer the beleaguered transport operator back on track". He acknowledged that SMRT was beleaguered but bringing in four SAF buddies to steer it back on track is mind-boggling. Like Desmond Kuek who lacks the necessary expertise to run SMRT, the bringing in of four SAF personnel, without the requisite experience, to steer it back on track could only mean to take the commuting public for a ride. It could only enhance the suspicion that the joker Desmond Kuek was out to make the SMRT a defence entity like PM Lee Hsien Loong's Cabinet.

That Desmond Kuek and his SAF buddies have not been able to make any improvement to the frequent rail disruptions since taking office is all too clear to the commuting public. They are not too blind to see the desperate effort of the CEO in trying to put up an artificial defence each time the SMRT runs into mishap. It happens so frequent that it ceases to have any meaning to the commuting public.

There have been at least five rail disruptions since 23 February with the latest two occurring on Tuesday 3 March.A sixth disruption has just occurred tonight at the Bukit Panjang LRT and it's so severe that services could only be restored the next day. Desmond Kuek acknowledged that commuter confidence in the reliability of SMRT's train services has been shaken. Whatever plans Desmond Kuek promised to make  to remedy the defects will not be able to convince the public because past promises have been found to be meaningless. Desmond Kuek and his SAF buddies just lack the expertise to run the SMRT efficiently. They are only fit to run the SAF with their absolute command.

So is there any remedy? Desmond Kuek is obviously found to be severely wanting and the most logical choice is a replacement with the requisite expertise to run the SMRT efficiently. So if for political expediency, it is found necessary for Desmond Kuek to continue as CEO, rail disruptions will be a perennial problem as Kuek will never have the expertise to overcome it.The ideal solution will however be the nationalisation of the transport system.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Conundrum of AIM's Role in the AHPETC Audit Report

What started well for the PAP Government in the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) exposure of the so-called major lapses of the AHPETC in the financial management and governance of its town council has now gradually become counter-productive to the PAP for going overboard in their frenzied attacks of the Workers' Party on these issues. In the midst of their massive swoop on the WP, the PAP wallahs simply glossed over the role played by AIM in the whole controversy. The unfortunate situation would not have arisen if it were not for the sudden intentional withdrawal of the software system of AHPETC resulting in major disruption of its management. They faced immense difficulty and despair in the limited time available to re-assemble a workable system in order to prevent a collapse of the administration.

Singaporeans, until now, find it hard to comprehend how three PAP MPs could own AIM (Action Information Management), a $2/- payout company that bought over town council software for $140,000 when the development cost at public expense totalled $23.8 million. And this PAP company is used to deprive the AHPETC of the use of its software. The AGO has either not been aware of AIM's role in the controversy which is unlikely or for some unknown reason simply avoided giving prominence to its role in it which could be significant. The Ministry of National Development (MND) was tasked by the Prime Minister to carry out a review of the AIM scandal over its questionable purchase by the three PAP MPs but, as expected, the MND reported that nothing was amiss. So quite merrily, AIM could go on with impunity with its nefarious task of depriving the opposition in the use of its software should they find themselves in the invidious situation of taking over a town council in an election victory.

As for the so-called conflict of interest presented by the AHPETC managing agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS), it was apparently under intractable circumstances that the WP had the unenviable task of appointing it as MA as no other bidders seemed to have the temerity of incurring the wrath of the PAP to venture in. Any conflict of interest seemed to have been more apparent than real as AHPETC Chairman Sylvia Lim had explained that necessary checks had been made before each transaction.

However, whatever factors are advanced in its favour, the AHPETC still faces a transparency problem in running the town council and it is crucial for the WP to convince the electorate, especially the middle ground, that the Town Council in still very much in good hands. There is no reason for it not to be able to restore electoral confidence in the Party in the next GE.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Astounding Lapses of AHPETC

The reputation of the Workers' Party has never so splendid since its capture of the Aljunied GRC and Punggol East  SMC in GE 2011 and BE 2013 respectively. And the prospects that it can do even better in the next GE have never been brighter. The groundswell of opinion is in its favour and the opposition generally as of until now. And the electorate, minus the pro-PAP diehards, looks forward promisingly to the winds of change in the political situation in the next GE.

So the critical report of the Auditor-General's Office on the lapses of the AHPETC in its financial management and governance of the Town Council came like a bolt from the blue. It caught most Singaporeans by surprise, but quite frankly it was not entirely unexpected. One of the most glaring lapses is the persistent conflict of interest revealed in the AGO's report between the Town Council and its managing agents the FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and the FM Solutions & Integrated Services (FMSI).  How on earth could the husband and wife team of secretary and general manager of the Town Council be the majority owners and proprietor of the managing agents at the same time is the serious conflict of interest problem no amount of explanation that the WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang and Chairman Sylvia Lim can give convincingly to pacify the electorate.

The Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and Law Minister K. Shanmugam  have never been so vehement in their denunciations of the Workers' Party for its lapses in AHPETC emphasising strongly on its conflict of interest problem at the Parliamentary sitting on 12 February. The WP Mr. Low Thia Khiang and Ms Sylvia Lim could offer no satisfactory answers to the pernicious accusations and looked very dejected. WP Mr. Pritam Singh did not help in his inexplicable remarks that he would only answer to his residents.

It is unfortunate that these colossal AHPETC lapses occur so near to the next GE which could take place at any time before January 2017. WP's ineffectual defence against the PAP denuciations could not have put them in a favourable light with the electorate. Unless they can come up with a concrete solution to the financial and governance lapses of the AHPETC quickly, it looks like they may lose considerable support from the middle ground.

WP must try its best to defend itself in the coming weeks to convince the middle-ground that its Town Council is still very much in good hands. What needs to be rectified or who needs to be changed, act on it. Be transparent with the electorate and I'm sure they will be a lot more forgiving towards you.

The same cannot be said of the PAP. Like one of their prominent minister said, "We are deaf to all these criticisms."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Our humanitarian Prime Minister

Can our PM Lee Hsien Loong pass off as a humanitarian Prime Minister? He can be quite humanitarian when it comes to paying obscenely high salaries to himself and his so-called incorruptible ministers from taxpayers' money. He claims that he and his ministers are serving the people and would it not be a cynical travesty of the lofty principle of serving the people if they exact exorbitant salaries in order the serve them? It raises the question of whether they can be honest with themselves and with the people that their motives are altruistic. What really flummoxed the people is the way they continue their blatant way to serve the people at an exorbitant price.

Which brings me to the point of the writing of two letters of appeal to the callous PM Lee to mitigate the plight of government pensioners who retired in the seventies of the last century to improve their meagre pensions which had remained stagnant since the start of their retirement whilst the cost of living has been rising at an alarming rate. The letters are reproduced so as to give a realistic picture of the appeal:

Letter 1
27 December 2014
PM Lee Hsien Loong

Dear Prime Minister,
I have always admired your humanitarian character, or lack of it, and hope this will catch you not in your infamous "flame-proof" mood.
 I will come straight to the point. It is about the plight of government pensioners who retired in the seventies of the last century. It is not a secret that you and your highly incorruptible ministers are enriching yourselves with absurdly astronomical salaries from taxpayers' money. Of course it is your earnest hope that this will not become a political issue with the electorate. However much you try to sweep this issue under the carpet, it will feature, much to your anguish, prominently in the next GE and the opposition will be foolish not to capitalise on it in their election campaign. Especially since some of the ministers are of mediocre calibre drawing million dollar salaries. It will be a surprise if they can escape the critical judgement of the electorate in the next GE. You were qualmish when interviewed by a China TV host who posed you tendentiously the question of "high salaries" of your ministers and you artfully employed the euphemistic term "reality and correct" to wriggle your way out. So you cannot prevent the public, especially the electorate, to perceive the ministerial salaries as obscenely humongous.

My point in labouring on the astronomical ministerial salaries is to show that while the PM and his ministers are wallowing in wealth and luxury, they are oblivious to the terrible plight of the impoverished government pensioners who are languishing in their miniscule pensions which have never been adjusted since the start of their retirement in the seventies although cost of living has been increasing at an alarming rate. There are not many of them still around breathing the salubrious Singapore air. They had contributed in no small measure and certainly not any less creditably than the first generation ministers to the progress of Singapore. It is a disgrace that they are being so inhumanly treated. I wrote to you on 10 April 2007 to appeal to your humanitarian character, which I thought existed, to be kind enough to lift this group of pensioners out of their misery by making reasonable adjustments to their pensions so that they can live decently. In case you are still ignorant, in Malaysia, which is considered less progressive than Singapore, government pensioners' pensions are adjusted from time to time whenever there is a rise in the cost of living. When the pensioner passes away, his wife continues to receive his pension and medical benefits until she passes away.

Before my letter to you, two representatives of the Government Pensioners' Association had been to see the then Finance Minister Dr.Richard Hu for his help to improve the pensions of government pensioners. Not only Dr. Hu did not lift a finger to help, but what he told the two representatives could only have been uttered by a monster and not a human being. The callousness of his remarks could only be made by a satanic beast. Dr. Hu told the two representatives that the pensioners had served their purpose, what they were getting was enough for them to live and the government was just waiting for them to die. I mentioned this in my letter to you but apparently as a face-saving measure you chose to avoid the subject.

The negative reply from your Private Secretary on 16 April 2007 came as a disappointment to say the least though not entirely unexpected. Seven unfruitful years have passed and it is thought not inexpedient to revive the subject to see if the eminent Prime Minister will be in a more accommodating and humanitarian mood to give a favourable response to the pensioners' plight, maybe with some merciful divine intervention.

Letter 2.
10 January 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

My dear Prime Minister,
It has regrettably escaped my plebeian mind that the Right Honourable Prime Minister might be miffed by my outspokenness and could be put in a dilemma as to how to reply to an otherwise non-complex issue involving pensioners who retired in the seventies of the last century. As a Prime Minister of an affluent Progressive Singapore, I am sure you possess a magnificent magnanimity which could transcend any personal animosity and look at the more humanitarian picture of mitigating the abject plight of these impoverished pensioners. There is a Chinese saying: A virtuous family will certainly have a surplus of luck (積善之家,必有餘庆). In other word, one who does a benevolent and humanitarian act will accrue immense benefits to their children and offspring especially in health and fortune.
And not only that. Your ever loving father will benefit from your benevolence. For all his loving kindness and mercy to his political adversaries, he will definitely be given an honoured abode in heaven. As his filial son, it will be reasonable to expect that you continue to do good deeds such as looking after the down-trodden to ensure the continued blessing of your loving father and children. It is natural that you will want to perpetuate you famous father's name to flow fragrantly for generations (流芳百世).
As a final endeavour, may I appeal to your keen sense of justice and fairplay? It may not have occurred to your busy mind, so you may not have appreciated it. Some of us had risked our precious lives at the height of the Communist insurgency to make this place safe and secure so that people like the Honourable Prime Minister can feel safe and sleep peacefully at night. It was through the dedicated efforts of officers like us in those turbulent days that make Singapore the prosperous and peaceful country that it is today with the Prime Minister and his loyal ministers enjoying the luxury and comfort of a "realistic and correct" salary. So please give a thought, while you are at the top of this world, to the abject plight of the impoverished pensioners who had contributed not insignificantly to the security and prosperity of Singapore. Their numbers are small and any increase in their pensions will not be a burden to the Government, and would cost the Government at most a minuscule fraction of what the Prime Minister and his ministers are getting. Many are advanced in age and may not enjoy any bestowal of increase in their pensions for long but the spirit of the gesture will be something that will touch them very deeply.
I do not think I need to elaborately further and I only hope that I have been able to mitigate any negative factor in you to gi9ve a favourable response to my humanitarian appeal.

The first letter is admittedly somewhat outspoken but it forms the basis of the appeal as it was considered the appropriate moment to make it whilst PM Lee and his ministers are enriching themselves with obscenely high salaries from taxpayers' money. If there is an iota of humanity left in the so-called humanitarian PM Lee Hsien Loong, the pensioners concerned will feel that they have found a saviour in him. But is he a saviour? He did not even have the civility to answer my first letter and so I sent a second letter, written more reverently this time, to this high-falutin Prime Minister hoping that the highly respectful language will somehow move him. Still there is no response and it suddenly dawned on me the saying that "the leopard cannot change its spots".

It may appear that this appeal only applies to a group of pensioners of the seventies but they belong to the pioneer generation who had contributed not insignificantly to the security and prosperity of Singapore, no less significant than any of the current ministers (including the Prime Minister) or even the first generation of ministers. So the often professed slogan of the Prime Minister to respect and reward the pioneer generation is but a myth. One can find no dearth of rumbles among the pioneer generation of citizens on such myth, the so-called generous distribution of the Pioneer Generation Packages notwithstanding.

Would you agree that the present lot of political office holders are not of such high stature that they are above that of self-serving mercenaries with their obscenely high salaries?  If the electorate , minus the pro-PAP diehards, is not discerning enough in the next GE, they will find themselves saddled with being governed by the same bunch self-serving money-minded PAP prime minister and ministers. In this respect the opposition has a crucial role to play to warn the electorate of this danger and to galvanise them to vote for the opposition in the next GE.