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Re: Opinions - by William Safire

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  • james tan
    well, since u say ur sources are reliable , will just leave it as that. but curious, what are ur sources? are those sources mere reporting, or were they
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 2, 2002
      well, since u say ur sources are 'reliable', will just leave it as that. but
      curious, what are ur sources? are those 'sources' mere reporting, or were
      they commentary? because if it's commentary, we know it can be influenced by
      the writer's personal values, experiences, and expectations; commentary is
      basically perspectival.

      i could see that the construct of 'home' for u is closely related to a
      certain degree of personal freedom, and the respect of it from the govt.
      thus, personal freedom is a value, ur chosen value.
      'personal freedom' is itself is a construct, i guess, which varies from
      culture and country. what does the term 'personal freedom' entails? for it
      seems to me that what singapore is in terms of this area fall short of ur
      expectation. but i do not know what u think u know about singapore. although
      the more interesting question is what is ur idea of personal freedom, for it
      seems to most singaporean that they DO have personal freedom. but maybe they
      do not know what they are missing out.

      the 3rd generation singaporean (those in the age range from 20s to 30s) are
      getting more exposure to a degree of personal freedom they see elsewhere
      (such as australia, usa, new zealand, etc) which they dont see here in
      singapore. friends who have studied in usa, australia, etc are feeling that
      grass is greener on the other pasture. the topic of brain drain, emigration
      by singaporean is our prime minister's long term concern. it is a concern
      because it is happening, now and probably in the near and far future. he
      coined the labels "stayer" and "quitter", very much to the agitation of the
      young singaporeans who felt insulted when their new aspirations for their
      personal happiness (not 'national happiness') is slanted in such negative
      terms. basically, the pm's meaning of quitter is someone who run away to
      greener pasture when singapore is running into difficulty. for the pm,
      'difficulty' means economic difficulty, such as the recession, when
      unemployment rates are higher, cost of living is high, tax of all manner is
      increasing, in the name of 'long term prosperity'. perhaps, other kind of
      difficulty is when singapore is under military threats, but this is not
      spoken, only my guess.

      why are they agitated? basically because they dont see why they should put
      country before self. country first, or self? this again is about values. the
      pm argues: there is no self if there is no country. these emigrators: well,
      disagree; everything is a matter of merits: would u stay in politics if u
      are not the highest paid in the world? (singapore politicians are very very
      well paid). arent u, pm, getting obscenely huge salary? no, i am not saying
      u dont deserve it, i am just saying u are where u are because u are
      rewarded. yes, u have worked for the country, but u have not sacrificed for
      the country, because ur service and talent are appropriately rewarded. there
      is no sacrifice, there is only a fair transaction between service and
      returns. so the emigrator thinks, if i got a better deal of my talents and
      service, and life elsewhere, and i go for it, what right have u to give me
      the very negative judgement that i am a quitter? i am a fighter, not a
      quitter, not for my country maybe, but for myself. but why not?? what is the
      use of a abstract like a nation or a country if my concrete self is
      destroyed or deprived? but this is only fair, just as the salary u are
      drawing is also only fair. u have mouth, pm, but no right to say i am a
      quitter. the emigrator feels that pm has not been fair in his labels, and
      reject it in his heart. it is all about values, and the pm was trying to
      impose his values onto all singaporean. of course, it (value) can be said,
      but it is not necessarily accepted. values that are imposed is never really
      owned. when he used "quitter", was he trying to manipulate thinking and
      valuing? most third generation do not introject so easily as those under lee
      kuan yew's generation. not to mention the 4th generation. i am not saying
      the govt has not done for the people, but they have to recognise that
      younger generation of singaporeans do not buy very well lee kuan yew's
      paternalistic and hard-handed approach to government. the younger generation
      has to feel they OWN the place and country, and this feeling of owning is
      certainly not accomplished by hard-handed, paternalistic, and 'unilateral'
      approach. they have to realise that the values, expectation, and exposure of
      this generation is very different from those of the 'submissive' generation
      of lee kuan yew. one important ingredient in the emerging new values is the
      sense of personal freedom allowed. u can set the tight rules and
      regulations, the heavy fines, but one dont have to buy them. and the only
      way of not buying them is not to flog the rules and laws, but to leave, (for

      it seems that the philosophy of the govt (i wouldnt exactly say it is the
      lee's dynasty) of placing a price tag to everything is backfiring. yes, u
      are the govt and u can increase the tax to cope, we pay for it, and we dont
      owe u or anybody. or the country. we slogged our lives and we pay for
      everything we have got. yes, we are self reliant, so much so that we are
      SELF reliant. ie, not country reliant. and if self reliant means self
      dependence, not country reliant mean not country reliant; so why stick on
      with the country by all means? if govt wish to wash their hands on all
      things/unnecessary burden (the post bank, once a people's bank, and now a
      commercial bank playing only by commercial rules) so that we are entirely
      self reliant, we not love the self over the country? and if 'we' wish to
      emigrate, pls dont have the cheek to tell us 'we' are quitters. for it is
      precisely 'i' dont quit that 'i' am leaving for greener pasture, 'i' have
      not developed to the stage of learned helplessness that i 'stay' for
      whatever the circusmstances. nobody owes nobody a living, we pay for every
      things we want, no feeling attached, no hard feeling, no good feelings, no
      feelings, only realism. if there is a difficulty, it is only realistic to
      look for solution in the most 'realistic' way, for that has been the way all
      along, for the govt, for the citizens. who is the quitter? it depends on
      which side of the fence u are talking, and basically one's value system. and
      one's values system is subjective, and no one, not even the pm, can pretend
      values are THAT univerally objective. one can pretend, but is it
      satisfactory? does it work? one can pretend, but others still have their
      sense of personal freedom to accept or reject. and singaporean should be


      From: "swmaerske" <swmirsky@...>
      Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Opinions - by William Safire
      Date: Sun, 01 Sep 2002 15:24:36 -0000

      I don't follow events in Singapore all that closely but I have great
      respect for the incisive mind of William Safire and, more, I have
      read and heard other corroborating claims from reliable sources which
      confirm that Singapore is largely governed like a national monopoly
      by Lee Kuan Yew and his kin. There are certainly worse things and
      worse regimes in the world and Singapore has provided prosperity and
      a high level of comfort for its citizens. Frankly, though, given what
      I have heard about its attitude toward individual freedom, I do not
      think I would like to call it home. -- SWM

      --- In WisdomForum@y..., "james tan" <tyjfk@h...> wrote:
      > any comments?
      > james.
      > Opinions
      > Bloomberg News Humbled
      > (New York Times)
      > 30 August 2002 by William Safire
      > WASHINGTON � Let me see if I can write today's column without
      > getting
      > sued. It has to do with my old pal Lee Kuan Yew, who prefers to be
      > called "senior minister" rather than dictator of Singapore, and
      > family members have been doing exceedingly well lately.
      > In kowtowing to the Lee family, the Bloomberg News Service � the
      > feisty, aggressive newcomer to coverage of global finance on cable
      > and computers � has just demeaned itself and undermined the cause
      > of
      > a free online press.
      > Early this month, Patrick Smith, a Bloomberg columnist, dared to
      > note of the elevation of Ho Ching, the senior minister's daughter-
      > law, to head Temesek, the powerful state-owned investment company.
      > Her husband, Lee's son, is already deputy prime minister and finance
      > minister, on a fast track to the top; Lee's other son is C.E.O. of
      > Singapore Telecom. Lee himself, at 78, is chairman of the Government
      > Investment Corporation.
      > I have not read Smith's story because it has been expunged from the
      > Bloomberg Web site, digitally erased from the mind of man. But
      > evidently it annoyed some members of Lee's family, who are not known
      > to lose huge libel suits that come before local judges. This week
      > Bloomberg issued a statement of abject apology. "We recognize that
      > this article was understood to mean" that the appointment of Lee's
      > daughter-in-law had been made "not on merit, but in order to indulge
      > the interests of the Lee family, or for some other corrupt motive
      > relating to the promotion of the Lee family's interests. . . ." Not
      > only that, but "Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Deputy Prime
      > Minister Lee Hsien Loong [the latter is the appointee's husband, the
      > senior minister's rising son] had procured the appointment of Mme.
      > Ching and were therefore guilty of nepotism."
      > Bloomberg News, its corporate head cracking the floor in a classic
      > kowtow, went on to "admit and acknowledge that these allegations are
      > false and completely without foundation. We unreservedly
      > apologize . . . for the distress and embarrassment caused. . . ."
      > media company offered to pay compensation for damages to avert a
      > libel lawsuit.
      > A spokesman for the prime minister put in place to keep the seat
      > for Lee's son (Wait. I take that back, unreservedly. Start again.) A
      > spokesman for the aggrieved prime minister quoted lawyers
      > saying "that by publishing the article without exercising due care,
      > Bloomberg and Patrick Smith had acted maliciously."
      > In preparing today's profoundly respectful column, I acted with the
      > due-est of care by calling the senior minister in Singapore, an
      > island I cannot visit because I like to chew gum and don't want to
      > risk a caning for it. Lee sent back word through an ambassador that
      > he saw "no point" in talking to me again (as he did a few years ago
      > in Davos, reported in this space with exquisite fairness) because he
      > had had "nothing to do" with the Ho appointment. (Besides, not long
      > ago he sent me an autographed copy of his autobiography and I failed
      > to plug it. His pique is understandable.)
      > Smith, the author of the never-to-be-accessed article, is said by a
      > Bloomberg spokesman to be "an outside columnist, not a staff
      > (How's that for standing by your man?) He is a veteran Far Eastern
      > correspondent with a fine reputation, having worked in Tokyo and
      > Kong for The International Herald Tribune.
      > Thereby hangs a tale. In 1994 The I.H.T. published an article about
      > Lee's son that the old man thought imputed nepotism; when Lee sued,
      > The Trib (owned by The New York Times and Washington Post) cravenly
      > caved and settled for $400,000. Some of us took loud exception, and
      > doubt that such a sellout of principle will happen again. The New
      > York Times, which willingly corrects itself when in error, does not
      > settle libel charges for money. Never.
      > Autocratic regimes professing to be democracies have been known to
      > use their judiciary systems to jail or bankrupt dissidents and
      > intimidate resident reporters. Electronic media professing to
      > practice journalism have been known to trade their integrity for
      > global access. Where is the greater corruption? I tried to reach the
      > C.E.O. of Bloomberg, Lex Fenwick, but he dove under his desk. The
      > founder, one Michael Bloomberg, is no longer with the firm and left
      > no forwarding address.
      > Source: Think Centre
      > _________________________________________________________________
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