SingaporeSurf news edition for today
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Ang Miah Boon, Straits Times
Neo Chai Chin, Today
There is unlikely to be any hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate if the government budgets remain prudent and the economy continues to grow, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday.
Evelyn Choo, Channel NewsAsia
"Care for a better Singapore and Joo Chiat" - that will be Andrew Kuan's campaign slogan for the coming General Election (GE).
Mr Kuan said if elected, he will address issues such as the lack of parking space, mosquito breeding and utility subsidies for the elderly living in landed properties in Joo Chiat.
Then again, he might have interpreted "group think" as an euphemism for "yes-men", given the unsettled debate about diversity in the party ranks. At age 63, Lim would surely feel sullied if his 31 years of office should go down in history as a mendicant lackey. On the other hand, with Goh Chok Tong making threats (Straits Times, April 6, 2002) like, "If you sing Jailhouse Rock with your electric guitar when others are playing Beethoven, you are out of order. The whip must be used on you," Lim had little choice but to fall in line if he valued his paycheck. Besides, what does a Minister Without Portfolio exactly do to earn a performance bonus?
Zhou Ziqian, Today
The notion of a "public reason" need not be a mere synonym for our brute, unreflected convictions, nor vague and prejudiced.
Florence Chong, Wall Street Journal
Southeast Asia's seven stock exchanges launched on Friday what they called their "ASEAN brand identity", inching closer to a trading platform covering a combined market capitalised at $US1.8 trillion ($1.7 trillion).
Singapore Exchange, capitalised at $US647 billion, would be a big fish in a relatively small pond. ASEAN sources told The Australian that until now, Singapore had not shared their enthusiasm for the pan-ASEAN initiative.
Teo Xuanwei, Today
Joining Opposition ranks is widely perceived as risky for one's career - and particularly so if your paymaster is a statutory board.
So when asked how her colleagues and supervisor - she has been doing research on Singapore history and heritage at the Institute of South-east Asian Studies for the past two years - reacted to her joining the Workers' Party last July, Ms Angela Oon, 32, would not go beyond saying: "I was prepared for the worst but hoping for the best."
In the Beginning was the Logos...
Why should I identify with a government who rules over us by virtue of their ability to employ rhetoric, spin the press, manipulate social and political interest groups and sway 51% of the voters?
Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia
Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong told Channel NewsAsia that the recent televised forum was a good opportunity for Singaporeans to engage the government on issues, and that the government will take note of the issues raised.
First of all, plenty of Singaporeans abroad reported that there was no publicity to speak of; foreign media carried next to nothing about the Youth Olympics. Secondly, it was not just a case of going out on a limb to claim that investors’ interest would be generated from this non-publicity, it was a figurative leap off the branch into cloud cuckoo land.
If this “commemorative book” is anything to go by, the ministry is still there.
Yen Feng, Straits Times
Fielding questions during a 'live' forum on Channel News Asia with a panel of 12 Singaporeans from a wide spectrum of society, Mr Lee described it as a 'good system' that allows NCMPs to use their five-year parliamentary stint to establish themselves.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Cheow Xin Yi, Channel NewsAsia
Dr Balakrishnan said finances of the town council are a matter of public record. MCYS, his ministry, had also earlier responded to criticism that it failed to spend within the YOG budget.
The FT has thus wittingly or unwittingly underlined the truth of what minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew claimed back in the 1980s — that he would hit the foreign media "in their pockets" if they stepped out of line while trying to sell their products in Singapore. Since then a whole series of cases has showed many media entities would kowtow to the Singapore system rather than lose sales, small though the market may be. The FT itself famously groveled not long ago apologizing profusely for reporting a simple truth about a government-controlled company.
The British have been most easily seduced by these tactics. Indeed, the BBC was probably the original offender, trading editorial independence for transmission facilities enabling it to offer Asian listeners independent radio news about Asia – except for Singapore, where coverage was limited to soft stories or regurgitating the semi-official Straits Times. Reuters followed later, moving much of its operations to Singapore from Hong Kong.
Singapore Democratic Party
This is a typical example of the ruling party using public funded projects and passing it off as PAP ones. These so-called PAP constituency “plans” are part of ongoing infrastructural projects that involve planning at higher levels by the civil service and governmental agencies. They have nothing to do with the PAP.
We would like to remind voters that such projects will continue with an SDP electoral victory at Holland-Bukit Timah and Bukit Panjang constituencies.
Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, The Online Citizen
Recall that in Singapore’s exacting meritocracy, we are taught the virtues of competition from the time we are toddlers. Students fight it out for the best grades. Our free-market economy is lauded for promoting the fittest companies.
When it comes to politics, however, Singaporeans are suddenly told that we should forget competition, and instead embrace a monopoly.
Isn’t that odd?
Diary Of A Singapore Mind
PM Lee said a few days ago that Singapore does not have enough talents for a 2 party system. He is wrong. The PAP cannot find enough Tin Pei Lings to fill its ranks because there are not many people attracted by its ideology and philosophy - many intelligent educated loyal Singaporeans don't want anything to do with the PAP. You see real talents emerging in the opposition ranks and these people stepped forward sacrifcing much with little to gain.
The important changes will never come from the PAP (voluntarily). Their new candidates for the elections shows how determined they are to preserve the status quo, If you want change, you have to support another party with ideas based on a different philosophy. Only when the PAP loses seats, votes and support will they be able to overcome their own ideological constraints and do what is right for the people of Singapore.
Zakir Hussain, Straits Times
Leong Sze Hian / Andrew Loh, The Online Citizen
So, why is it that there are so much unutilised funds which could have been utilised to help needy Singaporeans?
I understand that practically every country in the world is always short of funds to help the poor. Hence, why is it that Singapore’s experience seems to be so different?
Andrew Loh, The Online Citizen
What voters can and should do is to assess candidates on their views on issues and policies and question them about their vision for the country and their constituencies, and then to judge and decide if these candidates are worth supporting. That is what the focus should be on and it is fair for voters to ask candidates these things. What is redundant is to ask how the parties select their candidates.
If Mr Lim truly believes in what he said – that the public deserves to know what opposition candidates are made of – he should advise his ruling party to free up the media and allow more airtime for the opposition parties to do precisely this, to allow its candidates access to the public. And Mr Lim could also do well to advise the PAP to put Ms Tin Pei Ling and its new candidates on national tv in perhaps a “live” debate with the new faces from the opposition. This would indeed allow members of the public to see for themselves the quality of each of them. It would certainly help voters make a more informed choice.
Esther Ng, Today
Singapore will go ahead with its pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy, even as the tsunami in Japan knocking out the Fukushima power plant shows the shortcomings of such technology.
Spotlight On Singapore
Did any PAP MP have the intellectual and moral courage to veer from the official line on important issues like caning, capital punishment, freedom of speech and assembly, media freedom, human rights, why we are still selling arms to a dictatorship like Myanmar and building a democratic society as envisioned in the National Pledge?
As the people’s representative, MPs are expected to be touch with their constituents’ concerns and bring them up in Parliament. Sadly, many of them are tongue-tied and are so self-effacing that the public are hard put to even know who their MPs are.
The PAP could already be failing Singapore, if held to the same measures of success and failure that were espoused by it so many years ago. That it sees itself as being successful may be a function of shifting metrics rather than a reflection of true performance. In other words, the PAP’s performance has been and continues to degrade, but its decline has been masked by the managing of its appearance.
Sha Najak, My Singapura
How can a drug trafficker be sentenced to death when the person who supplied him the job will not have to face punishment? How can Singapore then say that we wish to keep Singapore safe when these invisible perpetrators are able to cheat another young man into doing the same deed Yong did to feed their greediness? Where is the moral explanation for this and how can we hang a young man for this without tackling the problem at the root of its cause?
De Leviathan @ Sg
By insisting on her credentials and hanging on to her, the PAP risks reviving its image as Patronising, Arrogant Pols on account of one such mere mortal (mm, not MM). Why? Is she really worth it? Is she worth rekindling cynical voters? Is she worth lost votes in other constituencies to the opposition? Is she worth the diminished regard of the PAP’s hallowed abilities? Is she worth the unnecessary detraction from other worthy candidates? And, yes, is she worth so much Noise??
Susan Long, Straits Times
As has often been said, the best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table, so that people can focus on the work rather than on the cash.
But instead of taking the issue of money off the table, as raising ministerial pay was intended to do, it has unfortunately becomethe issue foremost on the minds of many.
Vincent Wijeysingha, Singapore Democratic Party
We are a party that believes in the essential goodness of human beings. We are confident that given a choice, all human beings will choose to share more equally the national pie so that no child goes hungry, no older person is denied healthcare, and no family must queue at a charity to get its groceries.
We are not a party that is motivated by money. We are not a party that believes in growth at all cost.
Chua Chin Leng, My Singapore News
Now, what is the purpose of asking if they are ready to form the next govt when they are obviously not? Your guess.
LKY: “I said in that book (“Hard Truths”) that I think that Malays, that Muslims should be relaxed and eat together with the others.”
CR: “And it created a firestorm and your son said, the Prime Minister, differed with you.”
LKY: “That’s right.”
CR: “So, were you right or your son?”
LKY: *laughs*; “He has to be right because he is the Prime Minister.”
CR: “But … but?”
LKY: “But you ask the average person in the street whether what I’ve said is true.”
CR: “And they would say?”
LKY: “You ask them.”
Juliana Salleh, Today
The coupons for this One Million Plates for Singapore initiative made available at specially designated kiosks are only applicable on menu items labelled "NTUC Value Meal" for same-day redemption.
Ng E-Jay, Sgpolitics.net
Today, the SDP is a far stronger party with considerably more resources at its disposal. They have managed to achieve this phenomenal growth because SDP is a party built on values.
People who share SDP’s ideology of sustainable economic growth, democracy and human rights, free and fair elections, and a more just and equal society, should give it their fullest support.
Jewel Philemon, The Online Citizen
Dr Chee highlighted how many issues remain unsolved in those constituencies and challenged the ruling party to debate these issues openly with the SDP.
Dr Chee emphasised that the SDP will work with the government where they can but they will make sure that the policies must benefit the people. He said that this is the first principle that the SDP will adopt if elected to parliament. He also stressed that the SDP will fight for the issues highlighted in The Promise and they will not back down from fighting for those issues.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Ἴκαρος Flew Too High
These elections serve as a time of reflection on a broken political system after nearly 52 years of PAP rule, yet the PAP continues to press home the point that it is only right for the people to back the PAP, to seek out the best talents for itself, to support its unfair electoral system and to restrict the flow of crucial information to other parties. All these have turned the issue of talent into that of the PAP’s survival and not of the country. Only time will tell if Singaporeans choose to back a much needed change to our country’s political system.
Deborah Choo, The Online Citizen
James Gomez, Singapore Democratic Party
The most serious security lapse is the escape of Mr Mas Selamat Kastari from the Whitley Detention Centre. He escaped through an open toilet window whilst the Centre's surveillance cameras malfunctioned.
Some three years later, it came to light that Mr Selamat`s family offered him refuge, and for their role they were convicted and sentenced to jail. Mr Wong Kan Seng has not been personally held responsible for this security lapse. And this is not his first.
Shifting the blame by PAP Ministers is not new. When Bukit Timah Road flooded in 2009, Environment Minister Yaacob Ibrahim told us it was a once-in-50-years freak incident. When Orchard Road was flooded, the problem was debris in a culvert blocking the water flow. There was always an excuse, no acknowledgement of failure of planning by the Ministry.
The Online Citizen
Specifically, the SDP wants Dr Balakrishnan to explain to residents three issues: his ministry’s over-spending on the Youth Olympic Games; the “$8 million of the residents’ sinking funds your Town Council lost in toxic investments in 2008”; and why Dr Teo Ho Pin, the MP for Bukit Panjang SMC “failed to speak up on the buy-over of the Fajar wet market in Bukit Panjang by Sheng Siong which caused rentals and prices to increase.”
Joseph Teo, The Online Citizen
Mr Lim Boon Heng goes on to say, “… So when it comes to a campaign, a short 10 days, I think it’s quite difficult for people to assess… so it would be a pity if people are made to cast their choices without the proper assessment of candidates.”
People should be given sufficient time to make a proper assessment of their candidates. However, the cause of insufficient assessment time is not that the opposition parties do not reveal their line-up. The matter is entirely in the hands of the ruling party.
Chua Chin Leng, My Singapore News
And he was a foreign talent of sort but chose to be a Singaporean and did what every male Singaporean will do, to serve the country in uniform. At a young age, before aspiring to be a politician, he has already made his choice. This is the biggest test of his commitment to this country. He has done everything that is expected of him as a Singaporean.
The manifesto is indeed quite comprehensive and there is no proposal above that I would disagree with in principle. In some places however, the party does not go far enough.
Lilian Karunungan And Jay Wang, Bloomberg
Singapore will revalue its currency to tame inflation that exceeded the government’s target in February, joining other Asian central banks in tightening monetary policy, predict 10 of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Consumer prices rose 5 percent in February from a year earlier, after a 5.5 percent gain in January that was the most since 2008, according to official data released March 23. Prices may gain by up to 4 percent this year, compared with an earlier forecast of no more than 3 percent, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s government predicted Feb. 17.
The Temasek Review
Mr Wee came into public spotlight when his daughter Wee Shu Min made disparaging remarks about a fellow Singaporean Mr Derek Wee on her blog in 2006.
Mr Derek Wee, 35, a Singaporean who works for a multinational corporation, had written in his blog on Oct 12 that he was concerned about competition from foreign talent and the lack of job opportunities for older workers here, therefore he asked the government should try to be more understanding of such employment woes. Ms Wee, then a second year Humanities in Raffles Junior College ridiculed Mr Wee, calling him ‘old’ and ‘under-motivated’ for his views and ended by telling him to ‘get out of my elite uncaring face.’
But the real atrocity came about when daddy "apologised" for her "rantings of an 18-year-old among friends":
"What she said did come across as insensitive. The language was stronger than what most people could take.
I think if you cut through the insensitivity of the language, her basic point is reasonable, that is, that a well-educated university graduate who works for a multinational company should not be bemoaning about the government and get on with the challenges in life. Nonetheless, I have counselled her to learn from it. Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it."
Well the brutal truth was soon unleashed on him, and he had to apologise a second time, this round directly and without reservation to Mr Derek Wee and members of the outraged public. Not exactly the kind of epithet to be treasured for posterity. But that's about all he had to show for two whole terms in parliament.
Singapore and Myanmar have reaffirmed their stand to continue strengthening their cooperation bilaterally and within Asean, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement Sunday.
Lee Hsien Loong tried another angle in damage control by asserting that those in the private sector may not be able to adapt to the thinking and culture of the civil servants. Their contacts may also be different from those of the bureaucrats, or so he said. Sounds pretty much like the fox in the Aesop's Fable who was not able to reach the grapes and declared them to be sour, beguiling itself of its disappointment by saying, "The grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."
Meanwhile the opposition parties seem to be faring better in gathering the juicy fruit, and will probably be just as successful in producing new wine for the people.
Sin Wei Xiang, Today
Under this system, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. For the PAP, it cannot enjoy the benefits of inducting new candidates and potential office-holders under the GRC scheme in the name of leadership renewal, without the risks of losing Cabinet Ministers and existing appointment holders. For Mr Low, he cannot lead a GRC team in an attempt to grow the opposition presence in Parliament without the attendant possibility of losing his incumbent seat - an "all-or-nothing" outcome.
As for the issue of the opposition being not yet ready to form an alternative government, vis-a-vis the issue of voting for the opposition in the upcoming GE, this really is a chicken-and-egg question. The electorate cannot expect to see a stronger opposition that is "ready to form an alternative government" in the future, while denying them the opportunity to contest and win GRCs now.
Hoe Yeen Nie, Today
Another new candidate is Mr Wilfred Leung, Mr Chiam's campaign manager in the last election, and the party's assistant secretary-general.
He said: "What we're bringing to the residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh is very simple. They have everything here, that's without a doubt. "What our team is going to bring to Bishan residents is just one thing - their voice to Parliament."
The Online Citizen
Chua Chin Leng, My Singapore News
Could the leaving of two fine young men from the Tampines GRC be more than what is reported? Personally my feeling is that Tampines is the number one hot potato to fall. I could be grossly wrong as the reading is that housing is no longer a problem, fully solved and well. Heng Swee Kiat may find his ministerial dream taking a longer time should this happen. And he might have to move to another GRC in a future GE to enter Parliament.
Neo Chai Chin, Today
Steve Meacham, Sydney Morning Herald
AT 76, Alan Shadrake knows the books he will be taking into solitary confinement if he is sent to Changi prison by Singapore's Appeals Court today - Rudyard Kipling's Kim, George Orwell's1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and a couple of his favourite H.G. Wells novels.
When Nguyen was sentenced to death in 2004, Shadrake interviewed Singh, who boasted that in 1964 he had hanged 18 people in a single day. ''That interview sparked the idea of doing a book on Singh,'' Shadrake said. ''But as I investigated the cases involving the death penalty in Singapore, I realised it had to be a very critical book. So I abandoned that plan and told Singh, but he continued to help me.''
Shadrake continued writing his book for the next four years but its thrust now was that rich citizens of wealthy countries were far more likely to escape a death sentence in Singapore than poor citizens of Third World countries, backed up by many case studies.
The Temasek Review
Put bluntly, if there is a dearth of political talent in Singapore, it has entirely to do with PAP rule. Or put another way, as with a whole host of other concerns, PAP rule has only been detrimental to the national interest.
Yet just how true is it that there is a shortage of political talent in Singapore?
Tin Chee Yee, Straits Times
Mr Ang said he dreaded the scenario where untested and unheard of opposition members enter Parliament via GRCs. The ruling party is doing the same thing now by introducing untested and members unheard of until recently, some clearly without much relevant political experience, and some who became citizens only recently.
Andrew Loh, The Online Citizen
Is it capable of winning a fight only if it threw monetary incentives at the electorate, disadvantage its opponents with dubious changes to the electoral boundaries, and have the media – which it controls – place it on a pedestal above all others?
It is rather sad to see the PAP, a party which carried the nation on its shoulders when its people were left out in the cold and thus winning admiration and trust from its people, degenerate into a party which uses all means – even unfair ones – to hang on to power.
Dylan Loh, Channel NewsAsia
They include Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Seng Han Thong and new PAP candidates Ang Hin Kee and Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar.
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