not about batam, but an interesting -- and a little long -- tirade against the singapore govt. i reproduce it here in full in case it gets pulled, as this is what i..." /> not about batam, but an interesting -- and a little long -- tirade against the singapore govt. i reproduce it here in full in case it gets pulled, as this is what i...">
not about batam, but an interesting -- and a little long -- tirade against the singapore govt. i reproduce it here in full in case it gets pulled, as this is what i suspected happened yesterday when i first saw it ...

From http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/06/18/governing-a-country-absolutely-clueless/

A complacent government or an absolute clueless one?

Feedback: In engineering terms, it refers to data collected at all stages of a work process that is used to ensure that the process is running according to specifications so as to achieve a desired outcome. If any of the data collected should fall outside the specified parameters then corrective action to ensure the defective stage of the process can be executed immediately so as to ensure that there is minimal impact to the final product quality. In layman’s terms, feedback is information that is used to ensure that a process works properly as intended.

While governing a country is very different from manufacturing a product in a factory, nevertheless it is still a work process at its very core. And like all work processes, engineering or otherwise, feedback is of vital importance to ensure that government policies will achieve their ultimate goal, and that is to fulfill the mandate of the people. Because of this, most governments have official channels by which their citizens can highlight problems or issues of concern that affect the country and its people.

Singapore is no different, at least officially. Like most governments there are various feedback mechanisms, ranging from forum pages on newspapers to the official government Internet feedback portal Reach. However, what makes the Singapore government different from most others is that it is made up almost entirely of self-proclaimed “deaf frogs” that ignore all criticisms and other forms of negative feedback. In other words, as the TV advertisement for the Class 95 radio station would put it, they “only hear the good stuff”.

This is a truly stupid attitude to exhibit, to put it mildly. Like in any other work process, when governing a country, the incumbent party must continuously monitor the results to ensure that the desired goal is attained. Ignoring complaints from the grassroots level is no different from ignoring the increasingly loud rattling sound coming from one’s car transmission driveshaft, for example. That rattling sound isn’t simply getting louder for no reason whatsoever: it is actually a clue warning the driver that one or more of the connecting bolts on his driveshaft have actually come loose or have even sheared off. Similarly, complaints at the grassroots level are actually warnings from the people that they are unhappy with problems affecting them or the direction the incumbent government is leading the country to.

Just like continually ignoring the rattling sound from the driveshaft would eventually lead to the driveshaft shearing off, so too would continually ignoring complaints at the grassroots level eventually lead to a backlash and revolt from disgruntled voters. Nobody doubts that sometimes governments have to take unpopular and painful but necessary measures to resolve a crisis. However, a truly wise government will engage its people before taking such measures so that they will understand the necessity for them and close ranks behind the government in order that such critical actions can be executed smoothly and effectively. It would certainly not impose such measures without first consulting with all concerned parties and clearly explaining the need for such measures because failure to do so will divide the country at a time when the people must show solidarity together. And certainly the wisest governments of them all will act swiftly to nip problems in the buds before they can escalate into full-blown crises in the very first place.

Unfortunately for Singaporeans, the government has been demonstrating anything but wisdom these days. Negative feedback is absolutely vital for pre-emptive action to be taken to prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown crises. After all, how can the government take necessary action to pre-empt a problem from escalating any further if it was entirely unaware that the problem existed in the very first place? It goes without saying that the wise and correct thing for any government to do when receiving negative feedback is to heed and act upon them.

deaf-frogUnfortunately, instead of doing the wise and correct thing by heeding and acting upon the negative feedback it receives, the Singapore government chooses to play “deaf frog” and ignore them instead. This attitude has had two results, both bad; on the one hand, it has resulted in the government implementing ill-conceived policies or ignoring complaints from the people, thus antagonizing them, and when serious blunders occur or the policies backfire, the government blames the people for its own folly, thus antagonizing the people even further. In a nutshell, the government’s foolish “deaf frog” approach to negative feedback and its implementation of unpopular policies can easily be summed up in one word: “clueless”.

Clueless

Just how clueless the government has really become these days can be seen in its handling of the issue of the rising cost of public housing that has contributed greatly to the rising costs of living in the country. On the one hand, both PM Lee and MND Mah claim that government policies, particularly the unbridled influx of foreigners were not responsible for the rising cost of public housing. Mr. Mah even went so far as to admit that the HDB had been caught off-guard by the sudden upsurge in population numbers, yet at the same time he also claimed that this had nothing to do with the spiraling cost of public housing. On the other hand, MM Lee said that Singaporeans must be daft if they choose to vote out Mr. Mah because this would result in the value of their homes falling.

Vital clues

With all due respect to MM Lee and PM Lee, are they even aware that they are contradicting each other directly?! Either Mr. Mah and his policies are responsible for raising property values or they are not. It cannot possibly work out both ways. If Mr. Mah’s policies are responsible for raising property values, then they are also responsible for driving up the cost of public housing that have contributed to the rising costs of living that has angered the public, because they are one and the same thing. After all, if someone is able to sell his house for a very high price because of a very high cost over valuation (COV), then that someone’s buyer is paying that same very high price for the house. And if they are not, then voting him out of office will not result in the value of one’s HDB flat falling because the cost of public housing will not go down either. If both the elder and younger Lees are to be believed, then Mr. Mah’s policies have resulted in raising property values including that of public housing without increasing the cost of public housing at the same time!!!! How this can ever be possible only they know.

Just try making sense of this nonsense…..

One can’t help but wonder if father and son had actually sat down to brainstorm a standard answer before issuing their respective statements here. And while one is pondering this conundrum over, one may also ponder where exactly Mr. Mah thought the hundreds of thousands of foreigners flooding the country would stay in that that he can claim that their presence in no way contributed to the spiraling cost of public housing.

Clueless

The government’s self-contradictory statements on the causes of the rising cost of public housing aren’t the only evidence of its increasing cluelessness. Very recently, PM Lee had lamented that

Singaporeans as a whole showed total apathy towards the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) and urged them to show their patriotism in supporting the country in this. He had previously issued similar statements over the staging of Formula 1 races and the opening of the two integrated resorts (IR) in the country.

Vital clues

Again, with all due respect, one can’t help but wonder if Mr. Lee has any idea about what is actually happening within the country. Of course the vast majority of the people would be apathetic if not outright antipathetic towards F1, the YOG or the IRs. These days, most ordinary Singaporeans are struggling to make ends meet. It is the wealthy elite that actually want the country to host the inaugural YOG, stage F1 races and construct the two IRs.

This wouldn’t be a problem for ordinary Singaporeans if all these were paid for entirely by private funding from the wealthy elite that actually want them. The problem is that most of the costs of having them are borne by the public, most of whom would rather forgo all these unnecessary frivolities in favor of receiving rebates on their income tax instead, especially since locals have to pay $100/- to enter the casinos whereas foreigners can enter them for free. Or if that cannot be done for any particular reason, then at least the money should be put to far better use such as public assistance programs for the truly needy instead of being squandered on ways to amuse the wealthy elite.

Again, one cannot help but wonder why PM Lee doesn’t understand why the average local has no interest in things that are done mostly if not solely for the benefit of the wealthy elite.

Clueless

It goes without saying that due to the “deaf frog” attitude, the government and the various organizations linked to it have been making some very ludicrous, even laughable blunders of late. These range from the vandalism of a MRT train at Changi Depot and the company’s subsequent farcical response to it, the escape of terrorist mastermind Mas Selamat Kestari from the maximum security Whitley Road Detention Center (WRDC) in a manner that would not be out of place in the classic old Pink Panther cartoon series to the Aljunied CCC’s negligence in maintaining the cleanliness of the former Geylang Serai temporary market and food center that resulted in a major outbreak of food poisoning that killed two people and the National Environmental Agency’s failure to enforce proper standards of hygiene in it. Unbelievably, the government said that all these blunders were due to the complacency of the people despite the fact that they were all made by civil servants or GLC employees.

Vital clues

So Kestari’s escape and the Geylang Serai food poisoning tragedy were caused by the complacency of the people while the break-in and vandalism at Changi Depot was the result of the lack of vigilance by ordinary people? So if ordinary Singaporeans were responsible for failing to prevent these incidents, what then were all the people who were employed to perform these duties or their superiors doing? Were ordinary Singaporeans involved in patrolling the WRDC or Changi Depot? Do ordinary Singaporeans have the authority to inspect the Geylang Serai temporary market and impose penalties upon the Aljunied CCC for failing to keep the market up to acceptable hygiene standards?

If the answer to all these questions is supposed to be yes, then is the government going to pay the public proper salaries for performing their duties for them? And if it is the responsibility of ordinary Singaporeans to ensure that the Aljunied CCC maintains the market in acceptable hygienic standards, then why is MP Dr. Ong Seh Hong there for? The appalling standard of cleanliness of the market was even more unbelievable when one considers that Dr. Ong, the former Director of Medical Services at the Ren Ci Foundation is a medical doctor and should know all too well about public hygiene standards. Why not just dismiss him and save a small fortune on his MP’s allowance then since any ordinary lesser mortal can do his job if this is the case?

The logic of whoever it was that decided that the government should adopt a “blame the public” stance for everything that goes wrong in the country is simply too absurd to be described. And for that matter, given the cartoonish nature of Kestari’s escape, who exactly were being employed as the commander and security guards of the WRDC at the time anyway, Inspector Jacques Clouseau and the Keystone Kops?!

Clueless

frog-q1To give him due credit, PM Lee is all too aware of the government’s dwindling popularity, which is why the government seems to be spending altogether far too much time on damage control these days. Unfortunately though, he doesn’t seem to be aware that much of this is due directly to the gaffes and blunders committed by his MPs or their relatives, and the seemingly total lack of accountability from them for these fiascoes.

From MP Lee Bee Wah’s possibly defamatory comments that former national table-tennis coach Liu Guo Dong was a man of questionable character, to MP Wee Siew Khim’s (both PM Lee’s running mates in AMK GRC) daughter demanding that ordinary working class locals should “just get out of (her) elite uncaring face” and his own equally crass statement that locals “just can’t handle the truth” about her comments, to MP Charles Chong’s condescending description of ordinary Singaporeans as “lesser mortals”, to YPAP member Eric How’s remarks that “low income locals should blame their ancestors for their bad karma that they were not born into wealthy families”, remarks such as these have greatly angered the public. For that matter, so did PM Lee’s own remarks that he “should fix the opposition” if they got too popular. And so too did the release of a review of the performance of all the town councils in the country that placed the opposition-held constituencies last, as many Singaporeans regarded the report’s contents to be insulting their intelligences.

The performance review in particular has appalled many Singaporeans because of the way it was written. The report had singled out the two opposition-held wards as being poorly managed because they are relatively rundown and backward, and that they show only modest budgetary surpluses unlike the PAP-run wards. What had angered many Singaporeans was the fact that the report had totally ignored the fact that the two opposition-run wards were totally excluded from the government’s estate upgrading program and that they did not receive a single cent from the government either. In addition, it also overlooked the fact that the two opposition-run wards had among the lowest S&C charges in the country, and that they regularly gave rebates to the residents whenever they had healthy surpluses. Most of all, neither of them lost money heavily in toxic financial investments, nor do they sue anyone who is seriously in arrears because of unemployment unlike in government-held wards. In stark contrast, the government-run wards all received regular injections of funds paid out from taxpayers’ monies, and they also regularly sued anyone who is in arrears over payments, something that shows a lack of empathy for a family’s financial situation.

Vital clues

Does PM Lee really need someone to explain this to him? He needs only to ask himself this: who likes being insulted, and who likes an arrogant person who thinks that he or she can get away with badmouthing someone? He should know this all too well; his own father was notorious for suing anyone who criticized him. Surely he must know that what the public wants are that those who have committed the arrogant acts or blunders listed above to be held accountable for their comments and actions and be made to apologize publicly for them.

Likewise, the public also wants full transparency and accountability, including detailed reports on how several government-run town councils have lost huge sums of money in toxic investments, and if necessary, heads should roll for these and any other such major blunders, no matter whose head it is. Instead, he simply adopts a “let’s move on” attitude without even so much as expressing regret for their insensitivities and foolishness. And of course, in doing so, he only fuels the increasing popularity of the opposition even more himself.

As for the two opposition-run wards, the government’s attitude is one of “you didn’t vote for us so we don’t need to serve you”, never mind the fact that the residents there are also Singapore citizens. Going by this attitude, is the government trying to say that all the income tax and GST collected in these two wards should be paid out to their MPs instead of the government, and that the residents should serve NS as sheriff’s deputies, firemen and militiamen in their own constituencies instead of serving it in the SPF, SJCDF and SAF instead? After all, if the government refuses to serve them, then it is indirectly saying that they are not Singaporeans, so why then should they pay tax and serve NS for Singapore?

Furthermore, most Singaporeans would much rather receive rebates on the S&C charges as practiced by the opposition-held wards rather than chalking up healthy surpluses that they don’t benefit from. And they certainly don’t appreciate frequent upgrading programs that have inconvenienced them and cost them money when the estate had just undergone a previous upgrading program just one or two years earlier.

The government appears to have forgotten that it is the government of all Singapore, not only that of PAP voters, and that its duty is to serve ALL Singaporeans equally, unless of course the government is saying that it serves only slightly more than half of the residents in Ang Mo Kio GRC and other wards where the PAP only won narrowly. This should make one wonder exactly how they know who to serve and who not to serve; also, what happens if half of a family living together in the same house voted PAP and the other half voted opposition?

Maybe instead wasting his valuable time thinking up ways to “fix the opposition”, he should be spending it on thinking up ways to fix the country’s problems and muzzle his gaffe-prone MPs. And if he is unable to do this, the most basic duty of any country’s leader, then maybe it’s time that he makes way for somebody else who can.

Clueless

As much as the government officials’ gaffes and blunders may have contributed to its dwindling popularity, probably the single biggest contributory factor is its unrestricted immigration policy. With foreigners now making up as much as 36% or more of the country’s population, public amenities such as public transportation and shopping malls are strained to bursting point. If that wasn’t enough, unemployment among locals has been climbing steadily, many of whom have been replaced in their jobs by the newcomers. The prices of consumer goods have also climbed steadily due to the greater demand for them, while salaries have been steadily dwindling down no thanks to the government’s policy of using the newcomers to force locals to become “cheaper, better and faster” without taking into account that many of the foreigners have lower levels of education and experience than the locals they have displaced.

This is already bad enough, but adding fuel to the fire, various government officials regularly patronize Singaporeans by proclaiming that things cost even more in countries such as Japan or Australia, totally ignoring the fact that salaries in these countries are also much higher than in Singapore, or that salaries in countries such as Indonesia and Cambodia are much lower than in Singapore, again totally ignoring the fact that the cost of living in these countries is also much lower than in Singapore. For example, a bricklayer in Australia can earn Au$2,000/- per month, approximately Sg$2,400/-, much higher than a bricklayer in Singapore, and comparable to the pay of a professional here. Similarly, a full set meal of rice, ayam penyet, soup, fresh vegetables, krepek belinjau, cold drink and dessert costs only 13,000/- rupiah, approximately Sg$2/-, whereas the same set meal in Singapore would cost about Sg$8/-, four times as much. And that is in Batam, where the cost of living is much higher than in the rest of Indonesia.

Nor have they accounted for the fact that locals are encumbered with having to raise families in the high cost and low pay environment of Singapore unlike the foreigners who remit money back to their low cost home environments, and that local males are additionally handicapped by having to serve NS on a regular basis. Furthermore, foreigners need to pay only 5% employee CPF contribution compared to 20% for locals, thus giving them a much higher dollar for dollar take home pay (95
<span style="font-style: italic">not about batam, but an interesting -- and a little long -- tirade against the singapore govt. i reproduce it here in full in case it gets pulled, as this is what i suspected happened yesterday when i first saw it ...</span><br /> <br /> From <a href="http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/06/18/governing-a-country-absolutely-clueless/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/06/18/governing-a-country-absolutely-clueless/</a><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: 14pt"><span style="font-weight: bold">A complacent government or an absolute clueless one?</span></span><br /> <br /> Feedback: In engineering terms, it refers to data collected at all stages of a work process that is used to ensure that the process is running according to specifications so as to achieve a desired outcome. If any of the data collected should fall outside the specified parameters then corrective action to ensure the defective stage of the process can be executed immediately so as to ensure that there is minimal impact to the final product quality. In layman&rsquo;s terms, feedback is information that is used to ensure that a process works properly as intended.<br /> <br /> While governing a country is very different from manufacturing a product in a factory, nevertheless it is still a work process at its very core. And like all work processes, engineering or otherwise, feedback is of vital importance to ensure that government policies will achieve their ultimate goal, and that is to fulfill the mandate of the people. Because of this, most governments have official channels by which their citizens can highlight problems or issues of concern that affect the country and its people.<br /> <br /> Singapore is no different, at least officially. Like most governments there are various feedback mechanisms, ranging from forum pages on newspapers to the official government Internet feedback portal Reach. However, what makes the Singapore government different from most others is that it is made up almost entirely of self-proclaimed &ldquo;deaf frogs&rdquo; that ignore all criticisms and other forms of negative feedback. In other words, as the TV advertisement for the Class 95 radio station would put it, they &ldquo;only hear the good stuff&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> This is a truly stupid attitude to exhibit, to put it mildly. Like in any other work process, when governing a country, the incumbent party must continuously monitor the results to ensure that the desired goal is attained. Ignoring complaints from the grassroots level is no different from ignoring the increasingly loud rattling sound coming from one&rsquo;s car transmission driveshaft, for example. That rattling sound isn&rsquo;t simply getting louder for no reason whatsoever: it is actually a clue warning the driver that one or more of the connecting bolts on his driveshaft have actually come loose or have even sheared off. Similarly, complaints at the grassroots level are actually warnings from the people that they are unhappy with problems affecting them or the direction the incumbent government is leading the country to.<br /> <br /> Just like continually ignoring the rattling sound from the driveshaft would eventually lead to the driveshaft shearing off, so too would continually ignoring complaints at the grassroots level eventually lead to a backlash and revolt from disgruntled voters. Nobody doubts that sometimes governments have to take unpopular and painful but necessary measures to resolve a crisis. However, a truly wise government will engage its people before taking such measures so that they will understand the necessity for them and close ranks behind the government in order that such critical actions can be executed smoothly and effectively. It would certainly not impose such measures without first consulting with all concerned parties and clearly explaining the need for such measures because failure to do so will divide the country at a time when the people must show solidarity together. And certainly the wisest governments of them all will act swiftly to nip problems in the buds before they can escalate into full-blown crises in the very first place.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately for Singaporeans, the government has been demonstrating anything but wisdom these days. Negative feedback is absolutely vital for pre-emptive action to be taken to prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown crises. After all, how can the government take necessary action to pre-empt a problem from escalating any further if it was entirely unaware that the problem existed in the very first place? It goes without saying that the wise and correct thing for any government to do when receiving negative feedback is to heed and act upon them.<br /> <br /> deaf-frogUnfortunately, instead of doing the wise and correct thing by heeding and acting upon the negative feedback it receives, the Singapore government chooses to play &ldquo;deaf frog&rdquo; and ignore them instead. This attitude has had two results, both bad; on the one hand, it has resulted in the government implementing ill-conceived policies or ignoring complaints from the people, thus antagonizing them, and when serious blunders occur or the policies backfire, the government blames the people for its own folly, thus antagonizing the people even further. In a nutshell, the government&rsquo;s foolish &ldquo;deaf frog&rdquo; approach to negative feedback and its implementation of unpopular policies can easily be summed up in one word: &ldquo;clueless&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Clueless<br /> <br /> Just how clueless the government has really become these days can be seen in its handling of the issue of the rising cost of public housing that has contributed greatly to the rising costs of living in the country. On the one hand, both PM Lee and MND Mah claim that government policies, particularly the unbridled influx of foreigners were not responsible for the rising cost of public housing. Mr. Mah even went so far as to admit that the HDB had been caught off-guard by the sudden upsurge in population numbers, yet at the same time he also claimed that this had nothing to do with the spiraling cost of public housing. On the other hand, MM Lee said that Singaporeans must be daft if they choose to vote out Mr. Mah because this would result in the value of their homes falling.<br /> <br /> Vital clues<br /> <br /> With all due respect to MM Lee and PM Lee, are they even aware that they are contradicting each other directly?! Either Mr. Mah and his policies are responsible for raising property values or they are not. It cannot possibly work out both ways. If Mr. Mah&rsquo;s policies are responsible for raising property values, then they are also responsible for driving up the cost of public housing that have contributed to the rising costs of living that has angered the public, because they are one and the same thing. After all, if someone is able to sell his house for a very high price because of a very high cost over valuation (COV), then that someone&rsquo;s buyer is paying that same very high price for the house. And if they are not, then voting him out of office will not result in the value of one&rsquo;s HDB flat falling because the cost of public housing will not go down either. If both the elder and younger Lees are to be believed, then Mr. Mah&rsquo;s policies have resulted in raising property values including that of public housing without increasing the cost of public housing at the same time!!!! How this can ever be possible only they know.<br /> <br /> Just try making sense of this nonsense&hellip;..<br /> <br /> One can&rsquo;t help but wonder if father and son had actually sat down to brainstorm a standard answer before issuing their respective statements here. And while one is pondering this conundrum over, one may also ponder where exactly Mr. Mah thought the hundreds of thousands of foreigners flooding the country would stay in that that he can claim that their presence in no way contributed to the spiraling cost of public housing.<br /> <br /> Clueless<br /> <br /> The government&rsquo;s self-contradictory statements on the causes of the rising cost of public housing aren&rsquo;t the only evidence of its increasing cluelessness. Very recently, PM Lee had lamented that<br /> <br /> Singaporeans as a whole showed total apathy towards the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) and urged them to show their patriotism in supporting the country in this. He had previously issued similar statements over the staging of Formula 1 races and the opening of the two integrated resorts (IR) in the country.<br /> <br /> Vital clues<br /> <br /> Again, with all due respect, one can&rsquo;t help but wonder if Mr. Lee has any idea about what is actually happening within the country. Of course the vast majority of the people would be apathetic if not outright antipathetic towards F1, the YOG or the IRs. These days, most ordinary Singaporeans are struggling to make ends meet. It is the wealthy elite that actually want the country to host the inaugural YOG, stage F1 races and construct the two IRs.<br /> <br /> This wouldn&rsquo;t be a problem for ordinary Singaporeans if all these were paid for entirely by private funding from the wealthy elite that actually want them. The problem is that most of the costs of having them are borne by the public, most of whom would rather forgo all these unnecessary frivolities in favor of receiving rebates on their income tax instead, especially since locals have to pay $100/- to enter the casinos whereas foreigners can enter them for free. Or if that cannot be done for any particular reason, then at least the money should be put to far better use such as public assistance programs for the truly needy instead of being squandered on ways to amuse the wealthy elite.<br /> <br /> Again, one cannot help but wonder why PM Lee doesn&rsquo;t understand why the average local has no interest in things that are done mostly if not solely for the benefit of the wealthy elite.<br /> <br /> Clueless<br /> <br /> It goes without saying that due to the &ldquo;deaf frog&rdquo; attitude, the government and the various organizations linked to it have been making some very ludicrous, even laughable blunders of late. These range from the vandalism of a MRT train at Changi Depot and the company&rsquo;s subsequent farcical response to it, the escape of terrorist mastermind Mas Selamat Kestari from the maximum security Whitley Road Detention Center (WRDC) in a manner that would not be out of place in the classic old Pink Panther cartoon series to the Aljunied CCC&rsquo;s negligence in maintaining the cleanliness of the former Geylang Serai temporary market and food center that resulted in a major outbreak of food poisoning that killed two people and the National Environmental Agency&rsquo;s failure to enforce proper standards of hygiene in it. Unbelievably, the government said that all these blunders were due to the complacency of the people despite the fact that they were all made by civil servants or GLC employees.<br /> <br /> Vital clues<br /> <br /> So Kestari&rsquo;s escape and the Geylang Serai food poisoning tragedy were caused by the complacency of the people while the break-in and vandalism at Changi Depot was the result of the lack of vigilance by ordinary people? So if ordinary Singaporeans were responsible for failing to prevent these incidents, what then were all the people who were employed to perform these duties or their superiors doing? Were ordinary Singaporeans involved in patrolling the WRDC or Changi Depot? Do ordinary Singaporeans have the authority to inspect the Geylang Serai temporary market and impose penalties upon the Aljunied CCC for failing to keep the market up to acceptable hygiene standards?<br /> <br /> If the answer to all these questions is supposed to be yes, then is the government going to pay the public proper salaries for performing their duties for them? And if it is the responsibility of ordinary Singaporeans to ensure that the Aljunied CCC maintains the market in acceptable hygienic standards, then why is MP Dr. Ong Seh Hong there for? The appalling standard of cleanliness of the market was even more unbelievable when one considers that Dr. Ong, the former Director of Medical Services at the Ren Ci Foundation is a medical doctor and should know all too well about public hygiene standards. Why not just dismiss him and save a small fortune on his MP&rsquo;s allowance then since any ordinary lesser mortal can do his job if this is the case?<br /> <br /> The logic of whoever it was that decided that the government should adopt a &ldquo;blame the public&rdquo; stance for everything that goes wrong in the country is simply too absurd to be described. And for that matter, given the cartoonish nature of Kestari&rsquo;s escape, who exactly were being employed as the commander and security guards of the WRDC at the time anyway, Inspector Jacques Clouseau and the Keystone Kops?!<br /> <br /> Clueless<br /> <br /> frog-q1To give him due credit, PM Lee is all too aware of the government&rsquo;s dwindling popularity, which is why the government seems to be spending altogether far too much time on damage control these days. Unfortunately though, he doesn&rsquo;t seem to be aware that much of this is due directly to the gaffes and blunders committed by his MPs or their relatives, and the seemingly total lack of accountability from them for these fiascoes.<br /> <br /> From MP Lee Bee Wah&rsquo;s possibly defamatory comments that former national table-tennis coach Liu Guo Dong was a man of questionable character, to MP Wee Siew Khim&rsquo;s (both PM Lee&rsquo;s running mates in AMK GRC) daughter demanding that ordinary working class locals should &ldquo;just get out of (her) elite uncaring face&rdquo; and his own equally crass statement that locals &ldquo;just can&rsquo;t handle the truth&rdquo; about her comments, to MP Charles Chong&rsquo;s condescending description of ordinary Singaporeans as &ldquo;lesser mortals&rdquo;, to YPAP member Eric How&rsquo;s remarks that &ldquo;low income locals should blame their ancestors for their bad karma that they were not born into wealthy families&rdquo;, remarks such as these have greatly angered the public. For that matter, so did PM Lee&rsquo;s own remarks that he &ldquo;should fix the opposition&rdquo; if they got too popular. And so too did the release of a review of the performance of all the town councils in the country that placed the opposition-held constituencies last, as many Singaporeans regarded the report&rsquo;s contents to be insulting their intelligences.<br /> <br /> The performance review in particular has appalled many Singaporeans because of the way it was written. The report had singled out the two opposition-held wards as being poorly managed because they are relatively rundown and backward, and that they show only modest budgetary surpluses unlike the PAP-run wards. What had angered many Singaporeans was the fact that the report had totally ignored the fact that the two opposition-run wards were totally excluded from the government&rsquo;s estate upgrading program and that they did not receive a single cent from the government either. In addition, it also overlooked the fact that the two opposition-run wards had among the lowest S&amp;C charges in the country, and that they regularly gave rebates to the residents whenever they had healthy surpluses. Most of all, neither of them lost money heavily in toxic financial investments, nor do they sue anyone who is seriously in arrears because of unemployment unlike in government-held wards. In stark contrast, the government-run wards all received regular injections of funds paid out from taxpayers&rsquo; monies, and they also regularly sued anyone who is in arrears over payments, something that shows a lack of empathy for a family&rsquo;s financial situation.<br /> <br /> Vital clues<br /> <br /> Does PM Lee really need someone to explain this to him? He needs only to ask himself this: who likes being insulted, and who likes an arrogant person who thinks that he or she can get away with badmouthing someone? He should know this all too well; his own father was notorious for suing anyone who criticized him. Surely he must know that what the public wants are that those who have committed the arrogant acts or blunders listed above to be held accountable for their comments and actions and be made to apologize publicly for them.<br /> <br /> Likewise, the public also wants full transparency and accountability, including detailed reports on how several government-run town councils have lost huge sums of money in toxic investments, and if necessary, heads should roll for these and any other such major blunders, no matter whose head it is. Instead, he simply adopts a &ldquo;let&rsquo;s move on&rdquo; attitude without even so much as expressing regret for their insensitivities and foolishness. And of course, in doing so, he only fuels the increasing popularity of the opposition even more himself.<br /> <br /> As for the two opposition-run wards, the government&rsquo;s attitude is one of &ldquo;you didn&rsquo;t vote for us so we don&rsquo;t need to serve you&rdquo;, never mind the fact that the residents there are also Singapore citizens. Going by this attitude, is the government trying to say that all the income tax and GST collected in these two wards should be paid out to their MPs instead of the government, and that the residents should serve NS as sheriff&rsquo;s deputies, firemen and militiamen in their own constituencies instead of serving it in the SPF, SJCDF and SAF instead? After all, if the government refuses to serve them, then it is indirectly saying that they are not Singaporeans, so why then should they pay tax and serve NS for Singapore?<br /> <br /> Furthermore, most Singaporeans would much rather receive rebates on the S&amp;C charges as practiced by the opposition-held wards rather than chalking up healthy surpluses that they don&rsquo;t benefit from. And they certainly don&rsquo;t appreciate frequent upgrading programs that have inconvenienced them and cost them money when the estate had just undergone a previous upgrading program just one or two years earlier.<br /> <br /> The government appears to have forgotten that it is the government of all Singapore, not only that of PAP voters, and that its duty is to serve ALL Singaporeans equally, unless of course the government is saying that it serves only slightly more than half of the residents in Ang Mo Kio GRC and other wards where the PAP only won narrowly. This should make one wonder exactly how they know who to serve and who not to serve; also, what happens if half of a family living together in the same house voted PAP and the other half voted opposition?<br /> <br /> Maybe instead wasting his valuable time thinking up ways to &ldquo;fix the opposition&rdquo;, he should be spending it on thinking up ways to fix the country&rsquo;s problems and muzzle his gaffe-prone MPs. And if he is unable to do this, the most basic duty of any country&rsquo;s leader, then maybe it&rsquo;s time that he makes way for somebody else who can.<br /> <br /> Clueless<br /> <br /> As much as the government officials&rsquo; gaffes and blunders may have contributed to its dwindling popularity, probably the single biggest contributory factor is its unrestricted immigration policy. With foreigners now making up as much as 36% or more of the country&rsquo;s population, public amenities such as public transportation and shopping malls are strained to bursting point. If that wasn&rsquo;t enough, unemployment among locals has been climbing steadily, many of whom have been replaced in their jobs by the newcomers. The prices of consumer goods have also climbed steadily due to the greater demand for them, while salaries have been steadily dwindling down no thanks to the government&rsquo;s policy of using the newcomers to force locals to become &ldquo;cheaper, better and faster&rdquo; without taking into account that many of the foreigners have lower levels of education and experience than the locals they have displaced.<br /> <br /> This is already bad enough, but adding fuel to the fire, various government officials regularly patronize Singaporeans by proclaiming that things cost even more in countries such as Japan or Australia, totally ignoring the fact that salaries in these countries are also much higher than in Singapore, or that salaries in countries such as Indonesia and Cambodia are much lower than in Singapore, again totally ignoring the fact that the cost of living in these countries is also much lower than in Singapore. For example, a bricklayer in Australia can earn Au$2,000/- per month, approximately Sg$2,400/-, much higher than a bricklayer in Singapore, and comparable to the pay of a professional here. Similarly, a full set meal of rice, ayam penyet, soup, fresh vegetables, krepek belinjau, cold drink and dessert costs only 13,000/- rupiah, approximately Sg$2/-, whereas the same set meal in Singapore would cost about Sg$8/-, four times as much. And that is in Batam, where the cost of living is much higher than in the rest of Indonesia.<br /> <br /> Nor have they accounted for the fact that locals are encumbered with having to raise families in the high cost and low pay environment of Singapore unlike the foreigners who remit money back to their low cost home environments, and that local males are additionally handicapped by having to serve NS on a regular basis. Furthermore, foreigners need to pay only 5% employee CPF contribution compared to 20% for locals, thus giving them a much higher dollar for dollar take home pay (95
KuKuKaChu: dangerously too sophisticated
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