Blog Archive

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Not many comments made pertaining to the call for Commission of Inquiry on the case about the Hepatitis-C Outbreak at Singapore General Hospital are meaningful, but there are rare ones like this by Jeffery Yeo.
JEFFERY YEO << I explain until sian. The COI is needed, but not until the expert committee can recommend findings on the root cause.
How do you run a commission when the best people who can trace the cause aren't even on the COI. WP said retired healthcare professionals - duh. Healthcare is about currency and practice; and specialties. I doubt they get this...
The review committee will CSI this to the end. I've worked with Prof Leo before in TTSH during the H1N1 scare - she's the best there is in the business and she'll not leave a single stone unturned.
Once the expert committee has done its job, then the COI has meaning.>>
MOTHERSHIP : provided a sort-of-concise version for the understanding of why the Workers Party has called for a COI and concluded with a suggestion that such may not be serious enough to warrant one.
Let's hear from Jeffery Yeo again.
JEFFERY YEO : It is a serious issue - but not a public health crisis. Serious because patients died. Not a health crisis because it's contained and very specific to a patient group.
Actually WP threw shade on the current expert committee. US CDC and JH plus all of the leading ID lights in SG still not good enough for them ah? I wanted to ask WP who they think should then sit in their COI?
Maybe more lawyers?
Renson Seow made some very practical comments, unfortunately tainted with suspicion but nonetheless legitimate.
RENSON SEOW : Ultimately, I think that the final question that needs to be asked is:
"Why not?"
1) Does a COI incur much greater cost than an independent committee? Is there a disadvantage? Why not just do the COI, if there is nothing to hide?
2) If a cluster of deaths do not meet the threshold for implementing a COI, then this raises the question: What would be a serious enough incident? Accidental black hole? Heat death of universe?
3) Why is MOH protesting so defensively? Not once, but twice (once against Rachel Chang, and once against WP)?
But Renson Seow and most of the others including the WP that initiated the call missed the point that MOH had not from the start denied nor rejected the idea of a COI.
MOH : The WP statement is careful not to make any suggestion that SGH or MOH officers acted with improper motives. Yet it has asked for a COI ahead of the Committee’s report and the conclusion of Police investigations.
MOH's statement corroborates with that of Jeffery Yeo in that preparatory investigations are needed to form the basis for calling for a COI, and the Independent Review Committee is highly competent and reliable to meet such expectations.
So let's get back to where it all started, the Workers Party. Did they do it out of pure ignorance of some of these procedural necessities or are they doing it just to score political points as alleged by FAB and FLOP?
This is their first big public gesture since getting bruised at the General Election, but it tells a lot.
For the first time there is a switch of the party's public face from Sylvia Lim to Leon Perera, but the switch is no change at all going by the manner it approaches the case about Hep-C outbreak. It has not demonstrated the ability to be thorough enough to weigh out its options in a wider perspective.
Between the benefits of vital public confidence in the nation's healthcare system and exposing the flaws in that system, it chose the latter alone instead of finding a balance of the two.
Having said, the Press Secretary of MOH had also chosen the former disregarding the latter, especially so in the first rebuke of ST columnist Rachel Chang. Her statement pertaining to that article consisted much suspicions of one that is out to undermine the integrity of Singapore's healthcare system, and these in my opinion are unfounded and unsubstantiated suspicions.
But with people like P N Balji talking about government's continued obsession about suppressing journalistic freedom, I have to find a reason to defend the MOH Press Sec despite not having one.
Before Instagram made it possible for Americans to see what Singapore is like without literally flying in, stories of Singaporeans living on trees still persisted in modern days. Thanks to the works of monkey journalists. And as long as journalist (not all) continues to go about casting unverifiable doubts of the government, how can the government not be suspicious.
If Balji thinks that the light touch isn't there, he may be amazed at how the government is lighthearted about Cheong Yip Seng's book OB Markers.
Objectivity helps us to move matters towards the better end, and ominous suspicion brings us nowhere.

Saturday, 10 October 2015


Just started reading George Yeo.

I loved the appetizers. I am ready to sink in and enjoy what seems to be a great expedition ahead.
There is already a sense of deja vu in the beginning pages. Some things I thought about recently were found right there.
Only a day or two ago before I bought the book, someone shared on FB a list of jobs that will disappear. My response to that was only the very top, the very best who are able to rise above the invasions of machines and algorithm filtering will remain in those profession.
And yes, right in there George spoke about machines and algorithms and and a higher from of human organization emerging. It's coincidental, yet not. I guess many years of listening to George Yeo do have a certain influence in the way I look at things though I am really not in his circle of friends.
In one of those General Election morning meetings in 2001, George asked, "Where is Anthony Kan and who is he?" Someone had relayed what happened to me later.
As the pioneer group of "Youth Wing" chairs, there were frequent meetings with the late Dr Tay Eng Soon and subsequently George Yeo. As Secretary of the Sub-Urban Central District, I too get to listen to much of George's views on various matters.
It was the days with Aljunied GRC that offered the most opportunities of interaction with the man. There were two things that I have mentally tagged Geroge Yeo with.
1. Profound. A word he frequently used during casual conversations and that too is very representing of the man himself.
2. His particular interest in the Malay/Muslim community and culture.
I found connection with his expression, "The Taoist side of me accepts that whatever we do, there are larger currents at play which are beyond our control and to which we are subject."
In one of those rare occasions when the late S Rajaratnam asked an audience to the effect of what is most important in their lives, the audience and members of the CEC were caught in an awkward situation. A catch between absolute respect for a senior statesman and his medical condition.
George Yeo answered : "GOD"

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Singapore Hawker Centre Story Part Four

I mentioned the pang brothers, Pang Lim and Pang Pok sold Aik Hua F & B in a deal that includes an industrial building in Tuas, all of their outlets except for one of two if I can remember correctly.
The action taken by the brothers were early warnings of an industry shake-up. Prior to that, these investor groups were investing heavily not just in acquiring outlets under a bullish real estate sentiment but also on central kitchen facilities as well as acquiring suppliers so mitigate the rising expansion costs.
The expansions also brought about strain on manpower, in particular the area of cleaning and upkeeping. It was a double whammy of the stick or the rod. You either face suspension of business from the NEA or clamp down by MOM for the employment of illegal workers, those whose work permit stated some other industry instead of cleaning. The Manpower Ministry was not prepared to ease licensing under this category only with the exception of those servicing the town councils. The press had reported some being caught for illegal employment as well as disputes with cleaning companies.
What is more significant to the decline in the business of serving hawker fare is an invasion of new food concepts. Backed by strong financing with some investors themselves being mall developers, companies like Ministry of Food, Minor food Group, and other single brand companies.
These new concept is easier to manage by investors as each brand needs a smaller space comparing to the need of a food court. They either come in smaller shop space or even a kiosk.
Unclean tables and time wasted waiting for available seating were some of the reasons why consumers were turning to these new food concepts even if they pay a little more, but time is more predictable and the gastronomic experience is also diverse.
Maybe Singaporeans are also getting bored with eating practically the same thing all the time.
Investors can have their exit plan and strategy, but what about the hawkers? I mentioned earlier about the issue of hawkers asking for high take-over fees to transfer their stalls, debated in parliament, and a stop to such transaction was eventually introduced.
I say it was unfair for the ministry to imposed the ban on transfer. The ministry's assumption was that such transaction will invariably transfer the cost to consumers resulting in higher food prices. This was advocated by those who believe that hawker food must be kept low.
What really matters in my opinion is the problem does not lie with the price of food, but with who is the consumer? My concern is with those who cannot afford, because they simply cannot afford. Not those who can afford but want food to cheaper so that they can have leftovers for some other indulgence.
The ministry had bought the argument that hawkers made a lot of money and therefore they are not entitled to selling their rights away for a windfall. The ministry must have forgotten comparably that these hawkers have no way of getting the kind of grants and assistance as industries and corporations enjoyed in very big ways.
Hawkers have to take care of their own medical bills unlike those employed who are covered. Hawkers pay CPF from their daily takings just to keep that license going. Hawkers don't enjoy retirement benefits or golden handshakes.
The ministry should have taken note of these factors and recognized that these transfer fees were actually delayed benefits due to the hawkers for serving others in the whole economic eco system. The ministry should have deny speculation instead of an across the board ban.
Indeed this could become a book, but there is no intention to be one, so I will stop here with comments about heritage and culture.
Whatever those with vested interest in promoting or propagating the concept of hawker food being a culture and having a heritage are up to, it is hot air they are trying to balloon.
Whatever that is due to preserved had been preserved, not through these lobbyists. Sin Leong Restaurant had its origin as a mobile hawker stall had its fair share of transformation and preserved status until they decided to call it quits.
Swee Kee fish head noodles better know as Ka So was a road side stall in Chinatown too had been preserved.
Big Nose (大鼻哥) was a road side stall in Smith Street and moved into the Oriental Cinema as a restaurant.
Those who knows cooking know that having the recipe alone can never replicate the original. Thio Ghim Siew whose brother Ghim Hock, CEO of OUE started a peranakan popiah outlet with the recipe from his aunt Mrs Florence Teo could not produced exactly the same original popiah.
Go try Kim's fried prawn noodle. What comes from the man himself and his assistant is different. Same with Ghim Tin.
I went to the Ci Yuan CC twice. I am not sure the model of social enterprise will work though I am hopeful they will. The banners outside says 24hrs, but the hawkers were all ready to have their time-card punched by 10pm.
Food business is not just about paying cheaper rental, economy of scale in procurement, or even a nice mission statement hoping for support. Maybe NTUC Foodfare may find the perfect solution if some of these pressure from government can be taken away.


Singapore Hawker Centre Story Part Three

With that little bit of history behind us, happenings in the last 20 to 25 years were fast and furious.
Singapore was hyperactive. Singaporeans continued to be laborious and hungry and commercial activities that used to be found only in the business districts spread their presence into the heartlands where rental is more palatable.
Food centres as they are now commonly called to make a distinct difference to those with wet market sprouted up following the businesses wherever they are opening. An organic evolution was subtly taking place at the same time.
We saw the transformation of traditional coffeeshops into mini food centres with the number of stalls increased to optimize the floor space, generating more rental revenue and at the same time multiplying the spread of offerings.
HDB expanded the floor size of its commercial space dedicated for coffeeshops, usually the corner units of a HDB block. They also began developing stand-alone food centres. This happened during the period where HDB commercial space are sold as leases instead of rental of the past.
What happened was the whole concept of F & B business has taken a twist to be partly a real estate play. Strategic locations near bus interchange or MRT stations saw unprecedented bids in open tender. A new category in the real estate listings was created.
Investor groupings took advantage of the opportunities presented before them and expanded their operations quickly. We saw the birth of groups like Kopitiam, Aik Hua, S11, First Partners, and Food Junction (mainly commercial malls).
Meanwhile rentals per stall continued to rise and so was food prices. Notwithstanding, these developments were not hostile to the average consumer as salaries too were rising in tandem.
Then, Singaporeans were less demanding and less discerning of the food offerings churned out by the continuous expansion of these food groups. It was simply a cloning process of replicating the same stalls at each of their outlets.
Yu Kee duck rice and kuay chap for example can be found in practically most of the food centres in Singapore. Chang Chern vegetable rice was part of the Aik Hua F&B group then run by the Pang brothers who later sold it to emerge again as Hawkerway and Kou Fu.
Essentially, when you step into any one of these respective outlets, you must expect the same food offerings that they also served elsewhere.
Meanwhile a parallel wing was growing, the food courts. The concept was brought in by the Jumabhoys with the help of singer and composer Dick Lee. They introduced the concept of hawker fares at the Scotts in Orchard Rd and named it Picnic. It proved popular, not just because i was there every other night but so were many other Singaporeans and visitors alike.
Food seemed to be a sure way of making money in Singapore, until reality strikes that all good things must come to an end, for some at least.
A shake up of the industry was on the way in the following article.


Singapore Hawker Centre Story Part Two

So in the previous article we recognized a fact that the booming culture and heritage of Singapore's early day hawker food can neither be replicated nor preserved. Those conditions where hawker food was once a luxury will find incompatibility in modern day Singapore.
New built markets and hawker centres were built to accommodate both cooked food vendors as well as wet market stalls such as raw meat, poultry and vegetables. Dried groceries stalls were actually extensions from provision shops, but still the newly built markets provided fro such transition.
However there were at a few hawker centres that were built especially dedicated to cooked food. The Newton Hawker Centre, Hill Street Hawker Centre, and the Thomson Flyover Hawker Centre, and the Farrer Park Hawker Centre.
The changing faces and phases of Singaporeans' meal habitats and habits also brought about opportunities as laborious Singaporeans find being a hawker is well paying. The demand for hawker stalls went beyond expectations of the then Hawkers' Department and URA mitigated the demand by allowing private commercial buildings to incorporate hawker centres in their planning.
All these happened during a period when Singapore's economy was very robust and jobs and business opportunities were aplenty.
Wherever there are masses of people working, there must be a hawker centre, and the Jurong Town Corporation termed their own hawker centres "canteen". We also see the differentiating between hawker centre and food centres located in commercial buildings.
Right in the centre of business district there are Market Street Hawker Centre, the converted Lau Pa Sat (not this current one), the Cecil Street Multi-storey carpark, and the make-shift hawker centre along the riverside next to Malayan Banking Bhd (now Maybank). There were also in Orchard Rd vicinity the Cairnhill Rd Carpark, one at the 6th level of Specialist Centre, One at the basement of PUB building (now SP), and one inside Centrepoint.
We are now shifted from hawker food as a luxury fare of old to one of daily needs in this third generation hawker story. Generally Singaporeans were having a moderate lifestyle, food prices at hawker centre didn't seem to be much of a pressure on the take home pay. But there is one group of workers that were being outpaced by this development, old folks working in commercial complexes as janitors and cleaners.
Where those at the central business district would close after office hours around 6pm, those in the leisure and entertainment area of Orchard Rd thrives till late. So those operating in that area discovered a gold mine with both working and leisure people patronizing their stalls.
Landlords seeing the lucrative gains by the stall holders naturally demand a share of that jackpot prize. Stall holders not willing to lessen their take home money increased the prices of their fares. But the poor old folks were not considered in this equation, as well as some new clerks and retail assistants with low starting pay.
We will see the coming in of the opportunist that saw the potential of making it big with hawker food in Part Three.


Singapore Hawker Centre Story Part One

It's really long overdue. I was supposed to write something about hawkers and hawker food, and now I got to revisit some of the old posts I have saved to refresh myself as I try to think and write as it goes.

This whole thing about preserving Singapore's hawker food culture and heritage has somehow gone overboard and overloaded with emotive pressure, this is how I feel.

People want good old hawker food to be preserved and at the same time they want it cheap. Possible? Well, they are still trying even as one by one of these old hawkers bids goodbye.

Then people began asking themselves what went wrong with Singapore's hawker food culture that there is no done to stop its discontinuation. They started blaming high rentals, labour crunch, prohibition of foreigner workers, lack of succession interest and whatever other reasons they can find to give meaning to the entire hype they are trying to create.

There was also some fracas about hawker stalls ownership/leases being transferred at astronomical amount. If I had not recollected wrongly, this was even debated in parliament that eventually resulted in prohibition of transfers by the National Environmental Agency, people who call the shots pertaining to hawkers and their stalls.

That much being said, what really is hawker food? How it came about and where is it heading towards?

Hawker centres are the result of urban renewal and redevelopment. Many eating places that were frequented by locals and visitors were cleared to make way for modernization. Well known among these were Koek Rd, Orchard Rd Car Park, Bugis Street, East Cost Rd, Ellenborough Market, Pearl's Hill Market (People's Park), backlane opposite Capitol Theatre, Hock Lam Street, along the streets of Chinatown and Hong Kong Street. These were so to speak post war Singapore's first generation overlapping to second generation hawkers. Without saying, there were also hawkers across the island.

The draw then for these eating places of old were that they were located very near to cinemas, about the only entertainment ordinary Singaporeans could enjoy. There was practically no emphasis on quality or taste during a time when most people eat simple home cooked meals most of the time. Eating out was a luxury of sorts.

Given that such prime locations were limited with unending flow of captive patrons, stalls changing hands were mostly unheard of. Income was in a way fixed but lucrative. Prices were not exactly affordable then relative to the earnings of ordinary Singaporeans but it is also not a place where one goes everyday or even every weekend.

Owning real estate then was out of reach across the board, and there weren't investment options nor opportunities available. In that sense when everybody was about the same, these hardworking and well rewarded hawkers could lavish themselves with simple luxury like smoking "Abdullah 37", a more expensive brand of cigarette instead of the cheaper '555". Some who are better at managing their finances would save up for a second hand car instead of relying on taxis to ferry their daily stuffs.

This is one culture and heritage we can never replicate nor preserve. It can only be a documented history to reminisce for the older folks, but may be too bland for the post 65ers.


Wednesday, 30 September 2015


If there is any surprise to this new cabinet line-up, it is the immediate ascension of two new MPs to Acting Ministers.

Given the three key pillars of national governance, Defense, Economy, and Education, one interesting development that we can look out for in the future is whether Ng Chee Meng is going to be the next ordained leader, or at least reaching the DPM level first.

Goh Chok Tong was previously Defense Minister and Lee Hsien Loong was previously Finance Minister. Among the present DPMs, Teo Chee Hian was at both Education and Defense, and Tharman Shanmugaratnam was at Education and Finance.

Doctrine wise, the Defense Ministry will always be ranked above the others, but in practice Finance and Education stands on par.

Understandably, Singapore is held up strongly by its wealth and reputation as a financial centre, but without any other form of marketable commodities, equipping its people with the skills and knowledge to a highly sought after level becomes naturally imminent. We have nothing to sell other than what we can do and what we can think of next.

But with social behavioral changes manifested in Singaporeans and, as those who are critical of the government charged, we no longer can take Singaporeans as mere numbers although we did not literally do that. The difference then and now is, what we do now on the social dimension must also be seen widely and loudly.

Effectively DPM Tharman coordinates the economy and the social environment needed for the economy to grow uninterrupted. He is one of the three Coordinating Ministers heading unspecified groupings of ministries that will see more fine tuning of policies and better integration in their implementation.

We are also seeing two Ministers of Trade and Industry. There are few reads to this. First is of course whether Lim Hng Khiang will retire within this term and more younger leaders will be promoted? Between Lim Hng Khiang and Ishwaran, Hng Khiang is more a bolts and nuts man where Ishwaran is more like a high level sales person. So it perplexed me where Hng Khiang is with "trade" and Ishwaran, "industry". There may be a diminishing role in "industry" Singapore can play in the international marketplace. We still need to produce to export, but it is getting too tough these days.

One last observation is, and I am quite sure PM is both thinking and feeling it too when he makes the decision.....the HAZE. Vivian Balakrishnan to me could not deal effectively with the Indonesians. It was previously managed by Yacoob Ibrahim. I believed Masagos will be able to relate to the Indonesians better though the haze for now and near future is best managed by praying for the best wind direction.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


I do have a different view from that of Minister Tan Chuan Jin. We are both looking on the same thing, online social media and that of silent majority.
I have taken about 2 years engaging online social media folks, watching the debate and taking notes of views. Pre-GE2011 the anti-government voice was absolutely dominant. It was much like a monopoly where they capture and control every argument.
The pro-PAP people were really whacked upside down and we were like didn't know how to respond. The PAP camp was almost always on the defense all the time. But these are no longer. Since 2014 or thereabout the volume and momentum of anti-Opposition online activities actually increased.
Pro-Oppositions are still in command of online initiatives as of today, probably it's in the nature of opposing but pro-PAP is no longer the punching bag that cannot retaliate.
It is the same when we look at the crowd attending election rallies. Was not the crowd at opposition rallies gotten bigger? But what is very telling is the significant increased in PAP crowd, though still smaller in comparison.
Why were analysts caught surprised? Why were opposition parties shocked? They were awed by the dominant voice of oppositions online in the same way as they were awed by the huge increased in crowd of opposition rallies and have failed to notice the rising tide coming from the pro-PAP.
The distortion lies with the lens watchers used and not with the very scene that is going on.
I've also made a cut-out of what Min Tan said about engaging those who did not support the PAP. That is the way to go.
The question may not be "how to identify them?" but "how to get it started?". I think when a conducive environment is there, they will identify themselves. The conditions to such an environment needs to be open and inclusive, highly tolerant, highly receptive and with absolute sincerity.
I am still talking to myself whether such an exercise should be undertaken by PA related grassroots or the PAP branches or neither. There are pros and cons to each proposition. There are also rules that may stand in the way which need to be looked at.
I have mentioned once about extending the Singapore Conversation, perhaps of a very different scale or style.
Min Tan may also have his plans in the working.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015


GE2011 came and gone, but was somehow interrupted midway by two by-elections. The euphoria of opposition win one after another had sculptured a landscape of confrontation. Too many unpleasant events happened during the last two to three years that saw some lives disrupted and their course completely changed. I do not have the liberty to name names nor deem it right to do so. But Singaporeans are all aware of how such euphoria had thrust these persons onto public stage where they become puppets of public opinion.
Ordinary folks, unsuspecting and unrelated found themselves dragged into public quarrels and coerced into taking sides and position where such matters could have be better resolved through consultation and negotiations.
Ordinary law and order matters were infused with political emotions causing obscurity to justice and the administering thereof.
All in all, these unpleasant events had fueled more hates between Singaporeans.
Could we have understood the fluidity of the state of politics, and managed our engagement with opened mind and practical attitude, such hatred and unnecessary conflicts need not exist at all.
Personally I feel that practicality should prevail over dogmatism, and an open mind is superior over one that is prejudiced. If only one can see merits in a united Singapore, whether there is or there isn't oppositions in parliament is good for us all.
A big heart that is able to accept the possibility of as many oppositions in parliament as well as none, and put our soul into creating a Singapore that is unique even in the area of politics.
We thrive on our own creative ways in defining what politics should be according to Singapore, and we innovate the processes necessary to make the system work with continuous refinement and perfection.
We are not born with democracy. Democracy was created, refined and perfected. What is there that holds us back from creating something that uniquely fits Singapore?
May we not fall into the same treacherous path of post GE2011, but to hold each other and walk through post GE2015 in mutual respect and mutual appreciation.


Saturday, 12 September 2015


Lim Boon Heng said, it was an endorsement of our past policies. It may well be, but don't be too quick to conclude. It certainly is no blanket approval.
Most commentaries including some who had voted for the opposition noted that this time round people "fear" losing the PAP as government. They blamed the entire oppositions for fielding too many candidates that inadvertently pushed up votes for the PAP.
I personally do not think the passing of founding father Lee Kuan Yew made any impact to the vote counts, neither does the SG50 sentiments.
AHPETC is said to be a deciding determinant too. AIM was totally incapable of defending. Some Middle Ground people tried cushioning the effect by trivializing the importance of vigilant book keeping as compared to real municipal duties that are more visible and important to public eyes.
6.9 million Population Paper that was supposed to be the hot issue did not really matters in the minds of the electorate. Singaporeans seem largely unperturbed and the caterwauling was mainly within the confines of detractors who read Singaporeans wrongly. Confirmed by Tan Jee Say who said their Singaporean First Party named for the sake of immigration issue was given all the wrong feedback.
Let us not forget the sacrificial Lui Tuck Yew. His resignation had completely demolished the myth of "Government Sin" due to MRT failure. He proved the government innocent. Detractors may not want to accept that, but Singaporeans do.
Unlike GE2011, this time the PAP camp is much better equipped in social media and have spoken up against outrageous lies and unverifiable stories pointing to government failures. Unsound rhetoric were demolished. An awkward phenomena is the equation of vulgarity and lies with the oppositions. Whether the opposite side of this is of any truth, it turns away moderates.
So what exactly is the electorate telling both the PAP and the Oppositions?
Most Singaporeans have received signals that hard times is about to come. The US Presidential Election is a joke and not about to bring any good news to the world. Europe is facing the backlash for its support for ridiculous wars that created unstoppable refugees and humanity abuses and ISIL fighters are among those sneaked into Europe. China, the most prosperous nation in the world now has seen its wealth dwindling and a promising future tampered by export decline and failing market confidence.
Someone posed a question to me. I have to vote for a good government, I have to vote for a good town council manager, and I also want alternate voice in parliament, but I only have one vote, not three. This person, I have categorized him under Alternative Voters in one of my previous writings.
But by and large, Singaporeans are Practical Voters, also categorized in the same article. With an imminent difficult time coming, not sounded by the PAP but by their own employers and peers, they need to seek refuge. They needed "insurance" not the kind that opposition Gerald Giam imagined, but real insurance that the PAP government had covered them with during very difficult times.
Singaporeans need to remain employed, bring home salary despite the fact that they may have personal differences with colleagues who speaks and think very differently from ordinary SG Joe.
The winning votes they cast yesterday were not exactly for the PAP but for themselves, for their families and for their future. In that sense the PAP's approach of a stable future is far more attractive than the alluring "power" to decide in the future. When you are unable to bring home money, the "power" to decide means nothing, useless imaginations.
We the voters are voting for ourselves. That is the message.



"Humble" the word is now making its round in the PAP post GE2015. Humility is what made the PAP different from the oppositions this time round. The PAP sent out messages that are grounded on humility contrasting those of the oppositions that revealed much haughtiness.
One lost dearly in the last election that of course brought about big win for the other, and you may say their current behavior is only natural. That would have been a wrong assessment,
The opposition campaigns were driven by ambitions towards more win, while the PAP is continues on its theme of servitude. We are brought back to a scene in 2011 where PM Lee made a public apology for policy missteps and spoke much about servant leadership.
Besides seeing a much humbled PAP, this time round the electorates also see a changed PAP. I hope this article can help us see some interesting areas that are not being mentioned in the media. May not be such major areas but nonetheless significant in helping determined the PAP's winning campaign.
The most remarkable sign of a changed PAP we saw was a "Winning Combination" leadership this time. Needless to say, it was Lee Kuan Yew who was anchor for PAP from the very beginning. When it comes to Goh Chok Tong, it was also a one man anchor after the fading off of the nurturing stalwarts DPMs.
When it comes to Lee Hsien Loong, after the fading away of stalwart DPMs in Wong Kan Seng and Prof Jeyakumar, a combined force emerges. It is no longer a one man anchor.
The Winning Combination saw PAP having two drivers in the persons of PM Lee Hsien Loong and DPM Tharman Shanmugartnam. You would have noticed the superb complementary roles they played throughout the entire campaign.
PM Lee goes on presentation of PAP's broad vision, plans and programmes, while DPM Tharman goes on the explanation of these and cutting through arguments that obscure the presentations.
Both exude tremendous personal charm that are complementary of each other. PM Lee goes onto the fore of social media while DPM displays the necessary man behind. They moved in and out of the scene seamlessly as if it was all syncronized. And at the very last moment, both made simultaneous appearance at separate rallies that were deemed most critical to the roar of PAP supporters all waiting and thirsting for their presence.
A person THAT went ALMOST unnoticed is Mdm Ho Ching. Her constant feed of PM Lee's activities on social media keeps PM Lee constantly connected with the social media crowd even as he was fully engaging people on the ground. One particular picture shared by Mdm Ho Ching of a very exhausted PM Lee catching "40 winks" in his own words was extremely touching and draws viewers toward the PM to a closer personal level.

Friday, 11 September 2015


I wrote an article during this hustings period about the opposition's call "Vote For Change" giving that a twist.
I have suggested that Singapore indeed needs to vote for change, not what is being packaged by the oppositions and their leanings.
They want to change the government. They gave themselves all kinds of excuses that there is little risks and more to gain by doing so. They don't give a damn to what Singaporeans are really thinking and feeling deep inside. They have always deemed themselves as people who knows more than the uninformed Singaporeans. They want you to know that they alone have the answer while accusing the government of the very same thing.
Let's put them and all these to history.
Singaporeans have voted. Democracy is fulfilled. Period.
Much is needed to be done with that strong mandate. I think the PAP may have quite a handful of things to think about. Permit me to re-emphasize this again.....the PAP needs to do more to engage residents, voters outside the realm of Grassroots Organizations.
The Member of Parliament is voted in by all residents and not just those who are active in grassroots activities. The MP does owe a duty to these who may for reasons still unknown not involved in grassroots activities. Will you tell them that because you are not willing to be part of grassroots and therefore you are not part of our community?
The MP is not just Advisor of GROs, he/she is also the elected Member. This is why opposition MPs don't get the honour of being Advisor because they by virtue do not subscribe to government's view, but they do play their role as MPs well. Why are PAP MPs not playing that role well? By just confining to Meet The People Session? Even House-Visits are classified as grassroots activities.
I believed how the GROs go about their functioning needs to be reviewed, but starting a fresh channel of engaging residents, voters seems to me to be imminent right after the results of this election is completely announced.

Sylvia Lim : Government Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life

I believed we have heard much from the oppositions and their mouthpieces that the government is controlling practically every aspect of public life, and these messages do have a common emphasis that is the People's Association.
For an initial simple answer, If the government is not involve in Public Life, what the hell is government for? Public Life is government's domain. But at the same time let's be clear, while the government is involved in much of Public Life, you cannot say the government is controlling it in the absolute sense. It cannot be said that there is no autonomy at all.
For Sylvia Lim her tirades made special mention of "football", that these Singaporeans do have the passion and capabilities to run things on their own, their own ways and no need of government intervention. I think we don't need much guesses to know why she has taken this personally.
Let me start with "Football Association of Singapore". Strange as it may be, I am no fan for watching football even though I used to be playing in the league games from under-18 to Division One (pre-S league days).
I know nuts about the administration and politics of this sport. But I do know a little bit about registering societies, charities, as well as business-sports. I am open to criticism and correction.
There is nothing that prevents passionate people, capable people from setting up their own organization whether by way of a society or a company limited by guarantee, or even a social enterprise with their main focus on a particular sports.
Even if you are talking about an entire league and not just a team, there are sports management companies that can do everything from the basics of organizing, sponsorship, marketing, even to international affiliations.
What is the problem here? What's the complaint about?
I am extending this same argument initiated by Sylvia Lim to other fraternities including music, and various genre of the arts, for which her argument is also inclusive of.
Her problem is, she was not too out-front in telling all, is that these people wants government funding but does not want government involvement. If no government funding is needed, all my suggestions above are workable for them.
Now you come to me and ask me to partner you, put money in your enterprise, and expect me to be a sleeping partner. Yes I can, but don't expect me to be a dreaming partner also.
As a government, can I spend money without knowing how monies are spent? Sylvia Lim probably is a strong believer in this, but you cannot expect the government to do likewise.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Saw many people walking along Yio Chu Kang Rd on my way to Serangoon Gardens. Many carrying blue umbrellas and yellow toy hammers. Yes the Workers Party rally had just ended at Serangoon Stadium. Many made their way to Chomp Chomp and RT Restaurant at Gardens.
At Gardens I heard one young man said, I like lightning but overall hammer.
Why do I begin this article with something that sounded not too favourable to the PAP?
Am I perturbed by the huge crowd at opposition rallies, Workers Party in particular? I was, at the last GE. Not anymore today.
No matter how big a crowd at opposition rallies, they can never, let me say that again Never, come close to the send off party we had for PAP founder Mr Lee Kuan Yew. They paleD. But that's not the point for discussion now.
The young man who made those comments at Gardens represents one type of voters going to the polls on 11th September. I don't think he has reached the age for voting, nevertheless it counts. People like that are extreme "Casual Voters" that treats national elections as tournaments. Each has their favourite team and loyalty can go either way, entrenched or shift. Such voters find affinity with only the top one or two parties, at most three. If one of these parties suddenly find themselves phased out in elections, it will also gets eliminated at the same time.
Change voters are somewhat like the extreme casual voters except that they are determined that the ruling party must be changed irrespective whether they performed well or otherwise. For the fact that they have been there for too long, they must be replaced.
During the last General Election and the one before, there was much talk about protest votes. Such voters have no loyalty to any particular party. They only know of the ruling party and opposition. When their interests are being served, they vote the ruling party either as a reward or gratitude, but when their interest suffers, they vote opposition in protest and it does not matter who is contesting at where the live. When there there is a pressing issue of shortage of housing available in the face of rising prices, the favour swings towards oppositions. However, 3-cornered fights is what oppositions hate when voters have no allegiance. In the same vein when such pressing issues are being dealt with, the ruling party stands to gain. These are also casual voters except that they do have valid reasons to whoever they voted.
There arise a wave of voters with very new behaviors. Maybe we shall just call them New Wave voters. These voters largely are those who have achieved a certain level of certainty and comfort in life. They have also acquired a certain degree of sense of fairness, sense of righteousness, sense of equality. They feel responsible towards society and are willing to take ownership of some of these societal issues. They exert demand on the ruling party to attend to and take immediate action on issues they raised. They are savvy in playing with strength and weaknesses of both the ruling and oppositions. These voters favours the oppositions because oppositions become tools in their attempts to move the ruling party's hands.
Out of the new wave of voters comes those who believed that there must be alternative. These voters are dogmatic about the need to have different views and choice for wider offering assures wiser decisions. These voters favours oppositions too as oppositions offer something different. But there is a danger to the position the take because theirs is based on the assumption that the ruling party remains government, therefore the need for alternative. Calling them Alternative Voters were germinated during a period when the ruling was not challenged to a point of losing power. But today, these voters are caught unprepared as their position is challenged that the assumption of the ruling party may not remain as government. They no longer can make thoughtless, effortless decision. They are forced to think, evaluate, and even make introspection, but it remains that a decision is hare to arrive at because they've been too comfortable before.
Practical voters don't get themselves too indulged in ideological debates between parties. They may have certain preferences but their voting behavior is not determined by what they believe, instead it is directed by very practical matters such as livelihood. In fact such voters are fearful of voting for oppositions as they prefer status quo over change. Change to them is disruption. Such voters are seldom swayed by rhetoric and persuasions. They will only change their minds with a traumatic experience or event that affects them directly. Such voters favours the ruling party.
What kind of voter are you? Maybe you are a mix of characteristics of the above.


My dear Mr Low Thia Khiang, you have spent away 20 years without knowing why. 20 years ago, what you believed may be true because there were so little ways that Singaporeans can get the government to listen to them. You may have represented a certain sector of the population that did not know how to get the government's attention. You deserved to be recognized, and you have indeed served an exemplary role as honourable opposition. That was 20 years ago.
Today, whatever you want to say and later said in parliament are stale bread. In fact for the last several days i have found your party chairman Ms Sylvia Lim desperately running out of theme. Your party had to pick up petty remarks by ESM Goh such as the cruise ship to make it into a Titan.
The world has changed and you and your party have not. With what can you call for "CHANGE" when you remain "UNCHANGED"?
DPM Tharman, a very respectable man across political divide just said at the rally, PAP used to be top down, but no longer. But your party is still hovering on seeded cloud that meant to disappear and fall. You want voters to look up to your cloudy abode to seek blessings and empowerment when voters are already very much ready to play the important role of self determination themselves.
Come down Mr Low while you still can. This is 2015.
The people don't need the Workers Party to be empowered, they are already empowered. Singapore does not need more voices in parliament, Voices are all over.
Mr Low, please. Don't let Sylvia Lim turn your respectable legacy into rubbish.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Dr Vivian Balakrishnan responded to Prof Paul Tambyah's comment that DPM Tharman should one day fall out with PM Lee Hsien Loong and form his own Pakatan Rakyat Singapura.
The Minister for Environment & Water Resources reiterated that PAP leaders don't back stab their mentors.
There are two issues here. One a capable and popular leader falling out from the PAP forming his own opposition party. Two, PAP leaders don't back stab their mentors.
What is common between the two is a capable PAP leader coming out of the PAP to form a separate political party. I have pondered this before and I thought this is very worth considering except that it may never be what the SDP prof had wished for, an internal struggle within the PAP follow by a fallout.
For an internal struggle to exist, there must also exist a polarized core where fundamental beliefs differs starkly. What holds the PAP together is its fundamental beliefs, primarily honesty, integrity and selflessness.
In all organizational developments, cliques, factions exist because these are made up of people. But to imagine a break-up in the PAP is most unthinkable. The top core of its leaders are selfless people, and a mechanism would have also been in place to prevent another Barisan Nasional happening. But those were very treacherous times. Those conditions for a fallout don't exist now.
Today, Singaporeans believe very strongly the need for diversity, and I believed only a group of very experienced ex-PAP personalities can provide alternative thinking, alternate governance that are both sound and safe.
Please remember, the Workers Party is not a PAP lite. Some PAP supporters thought so and even propagate the idea,
But I think the time has come for groups of people who possesses equal passion and respect for all Singaporeans, with the experience to run the country to come forward and provide an alternative voice. As it is we are seeing many talented young people who believes in having alternate voice drawn towards current opposition parties. There isn't an ideal choice available.
We need a party that despite differences with the ruling PAP, can work together for Singapore, can rotate and run the country without risking a disastrous fall, according to the will of the people.
I concur very much with PM Lee's analysis of "divisive" politics the current cohort of opposition parties are engaging in. They need to divide in order to look different. We need to stop this mode of politics lest we will become a polarized nation. This General Elections have seen many good and long time friends, real friends falling out of each other. It is sad, but a divided nation begins with small stories of friends, families polarizing. The us vs them mentality.
Let's not get drawn away too far that we forgot about Dr Balakrishnan.
My honest feelings, and even thinking tells me Dr Bala had not hit on the right note given that he plays the piano very well.
His approach is benevolent. We should never back stab those who are kind to us, who helped us, and for that matter please don't back stab anyone. Back stabbing is to be abhorred.
His statement also gave a wrong sense of patronism that does not exist in the PAP at all.
Not too long ago there was a write up in the Straits Times about the boss of an insurance company telling his employees : "You are good enough now, go form your own company". This too is a benevolent approach. Allowing one's potential to expand beyond the confines of structures. I believed each of us receives that proverbal instruction personally : "Go, be fruitful and inherit the earth".
Falling out is not what we should be looking for, but leaving to form another organization may not at all be stabbing our bosses in the back. DPM Tharman is fortunately or unfortunately being drawn into this and cited as an example.
Maybe the answer lies with many who have left the PAP to facilitate the party's leadership renewal can come back should the call of duty becomes urgent. We need people who can unite, and not with this current cohort of oppositions that we are paying for their success at the expense of our precious relationships.


Two very prominent doctors made very interesting statements over the last few days.
Prof Paul Tambyah naughtily suggested that DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam should one day fall out with PM Lee Hsien Loong and form his own political party "Pakatan Rakyat Singapura".
He commended the PAP Deputy Prime Minister as one outstanding and capable minister.
Why is the prof commending a political rival? Simply because DPM Tharman has earned much reverence from ALL Singaporeans. The prof needs to find a common factor to align himself to.
But wait a minute. On what basis does Singaporeans across political divide are holding DPM Tharman in such high esteem? Have they interacted with him as I have? Most of their judgement comes from the media. But let's look at the other side of media, aren't they providing everything alternate including the esteemed attributes of DPM Tharman?
I conclude, people across political divide are still relying on Mainstream Media for reliable information. Reading alternate media is their indulging in salacious fix, it gives them pleasure.
But the ironic emerges when the prof's own political party is making rubbish of the esteemed DPM's work? CPF, GIC, Temasek, Medishield Life, etc etc. All and all needs DPM Tharman's consent, and DPM is known for being meticulous and into details.
Can you on one hand says this man is absolutely capable and on the other hand rubbished his works thereafter? You just don't make sense. You can only say one of these, and which one?
By saying DPM is rubbish, you insult the intelligence of ALL Singaporeans, but by saying he is highly capable, you are endorsing his works but destroys the integrity of the oppositions who are attacking all those issues.
Now what? The most suspicious of the two is "there is a real question to the integrity of the oppositions". Period.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


You know what Gerald Giam said? He said there is no such thing as "freak" election because that is people's will. His was in response to Khaw Boon Wan's warning that this could be a freak election and the PAP loses all seats.
Is there any truth in what he said?
Then may I ask the very brilliant Mr Giam.....if this election the PAP won every seats and a one party government emerged, will he still say this is the people's will?

If he says yes it is, please help me to slap the face of Sylvia Lim and Low Thai Khiang because they said that "one party" is bad for democracy. They are going against the people's will, are they not?
This is precisely what I want to talk about in simple, understandable terms.
It is not a must that there must be oppositions in parliament to fulfill the basic requirement of democracy. Democracy fundamentally means acting according to the will of the people.
So, while the Workers Party accuses the PAP of dictating election debates with their own agenda, is not the Workers Party also forcing its agenda on the people that there must be more oppositions in parliament?
At the end of the day, did the people benefited in real terms? Certainly the Singapore Democratic Party thinks that the Workers Party have not been effective oppositions in parliament, according to Chee Soon Juan" rally speech. If fellow opposition party thinks so, what more does the PAP?
Sylvia Lim has in her rally speech pitched that the Workers Party did do their job well by registering better attendance than the PAP, participating in debates (largely related to AHPETC) raised important issues as the Population White Paper. I'm not sure did she mention more, but the video clip just stopped at that.
However, Singaporeans have not heard from the Workers Party with regards to some very sensitive and important issues. Do they not have any policy positions as an aspiring party to becoming government one day? If they don't have any policy position, at least have some opinion, but why was there silence.
These are some of the sensitive but important issues :
1. ISIS influence in Singapore and the region
2. Same Sex Marriage in Singapore and Section 377A
3. The wearing tudung as part of public service uniform
Still continue harping on the importance of democracy without active and meaningful participation in public discussion, they warned the public, Singaporeans that an all white parliament will stifle democracy.
I have just discovered from beginning from today, all Workers Party candidates can only comment on their manifesto and refrain from answering the media on other subjects.
The difference between the PAP ans the Workers Party is that the PAP openly tells you that there is a "party whip". Its MPs are free to voice their personal opinions.
However, it seems that the Workers Party prefers ways that are not transparent. The public, Singaporeans have no way of knowing Workers Party's directions other than what they have prepared for public consumption.
We have here an opposition party with aspiration to govern Singapore talking about transparency and democracy, but in practice does not even measure up to the PAP government.
What do we make of the people who would die die vote for the Workers Party?


Approaching the closing of hustings for this General Election, my heart grows heavy and perhaps for you too. An undeniable sense of anxiety is growing. Is this a show of fear of losing? Obviously.
I am convinced that Singapore is not prepared for PAP to lose in this election. Neither the PAP nor the WP nor any other opposition is prepared. Singaporeans are not prepared at all. This is a fact.
But can it happen? Yes it can. What happens when it comes?
To the world, our neighbouring countries, Singapore is a small country with a strong government. It has thus far been able to maintained sovereignty, uphold citizens' dignity, and negotiated a treacherous path between big power balancing, not forgetting the little voice in a big platform.
The real world of international politics only recognizes friends because of needs and no other. When the need is no longer there, one becomes an enemy or a prey.
Why should the world deal with a "non-PAP" government just as it used to with the PAP. Similarly the world need not deal with a "weaker PAP" government as before. Much of how we deal with the outside world and vice versa depends on how united our parliament is and how united is our people. All these are relevant and important whether Singapore emerged stronger or weaker after the election?
This brings us to the fact of feeling helpless. There is a multi-fronted economic war we've been fighting and have made much inroads and victories. Will the PAP government be stripped of all its armour and apparatus and left to fight barehanded?
The PAP can disband itself if Singaporeans don't need it anymore. It is fine for the PAP to sacrificed itself and I'm saying with true PAP DNA, but the feeling of not being able to protect those who needs protection most is extremely excruciating, and to lose a war that we have been winning well thus far is painfully despairing. These are true feelings of a possible lost.
A possible lost not because you have not done well, but did too well. A possible lost not because there is no freedom, but by the very freedom. When people say the PAP is not god, and they expect the PAP to perform miracles.
So you blamed the PAP for losing your job, for you not getting employed, for not getting into university, and you blamed the PAP for all your misfortunes. We seem to forget job creation was PAP government's first priority. Foreign companies don't provide job vacancies here if our terms are any less attractive than other countries. Local companies cannot expand and grow without conducive business environment, and excellent foreign relations.
The PAP cannot prevent you from losing your job, but it has a burden to help find you another one. The PAP cannot prevent you from failing in business, exams, or job interviews, but it is their burden to provide you with alternatives when you do.
Our complaints and disgruntles are much about success than failures. We want better transports, better housing, better healthcare, better paid jobs, better education, better politics and of course better freedom.
These are signs of "Good Times" politics. The elusive lure of the better. When the better arrives it is no longer better.
When you have enough, the better would be power and authority. "Empowerment" becomes a common tag for commercial and political marketing.
There will be lots of people telling the government how to better spend money. Everybody knows how to spend money, and it's great fun.
So all policy debates going on, whether it is about immigration, population, electoral boundaries, signboards, education etc etc are all but shadows of this one simple truth...."Good Times" politics. It only happens during good times. You kill the PAP cash cow, there will be no more quarrels.
Ironically this is why the PAP has got to think itself for the good times it brought to and for Singapore, and not so thankfully upon itself.