Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just Another Beautiful Day!

I've got myself my 1st DSLR, a Sony Alpha 33. This is the first photo I've taken with it using the Panorama function. Expect more photos in the future :)

View from outside my window..
Traffic on the causeway is smooth so feel free to make a day trip to JB. 
And this is your live traffic report from Marsiling, a ward under PAP. :)

Post-Election Day

I'm relieved that Peace & Prosperity has prevailed but it's easy to see the huge swing of votes towards the opposition. I'm saddened that GY and his team had to be the sacrificial lambs as a result of this- people wanting a 'loud-speaker' for people's complains.

Isn't there other ways for people to reflect their views more promptly and effectively to our leaders. Why do  we tend to complain behind their backs and then choose to voice out all these frustrations using our votes? I hope that the PAP will really change its way of doing things and learn from their loss. I hope the leaders will take this opportunity given by the people to show that they can indeed fulfil their promises and make Singapore a truly better home for everyone. The opposition will definitely come back stronger come the next election. If the PAP wants to stay in government, it must really show the heart for the people.

And please be more selective about the candidates. Try to recruit some of the capable and popular ones from the opposition parties. They just want to serve the people and many just joined their parties months before the election. So offer them a better opportunity to better serve the people. I see this as a win-win solution.

People kept talking about change. At the same time, people should really look at themselves and seek to change themselves first. Stop asking about what the country can do and has to do for you, what can you do for it? Be the change you want to see.  If you want Singapore to be gracious, just look at all the rubbish left behind in the stadiums after the rallies and the gathering... How do you want the country to become gracious when you're not even gracious yourself.

While people are quick to voice their unhappiness and complains, we should be mindful about our influences on the children. I would hate to see children growing up to take things for granted, who only see the faults of others, who are quick to blame and complain and being generally negative. I hope that the children will grow up to be a grateful lot who don't take things all for granted.

It is now time for us to look hard at ourselves and ask how we want our lives to be better. Start the change from within...

P/S Now I feel silly for worrying about PAP losing majority of the seats. But the fear was real then...

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I found this most disturbing... Are your ready to cast your vote tomorrow and get the change that you want? Are you ready for a coalition government? Please look at the big picture before casting your vote tomorrow.

Thanks to Mr Moh Hon Meng for his Facebook notes...
Please share this link with your friends before its too late!

Moh Hon Meng
Today, 10:31 AM
My friends say that I have written with my head but not my heart.

So this last note is from the heart.

MM Lee

Sir, I am a huge admirer of what you have done for Singapore
in the 50s to the 80s. But I must say that you are out of touch with young
Singaporeans. You said in your latest book that you do not know what Facebook
is, and yet it could be the very thing that will bring the PAP down.

Your ‘repent’ comment on Aljunied residents lost a lot of
votes all over Singapore. Normally rational, pro-PAP friends of mine are now
voting opposition because of the remark. The ST today reported that a few
people said the same to Mr. George Yeo.

Many of us think you are still one of the finest minds in
the world, even at your age, but your ‘talk-down’ manner to Singaporeans must
change. ‘Father’ does not know best. Please let PM Lee lead, and be seen to be
the one leading.

In your time, your double first was rare, and my parents’
generation said “he went overseas, he’s got double first, let him lead”. Today,
mainly as a result of your success in leading Singapore, you can’t throw a
stone in Raffles Place without hitting someone with impressive qualifications. We
are well-educated, well-travelled, plugged in and connected. Whether you
believe it or not, Singapore is safe with us.

PM Lee

I’m a huge admirer of your talent, your resolve, your hard
work and I truly believe that your heart is in the right place. I think you are
one of the finest PMs in the world and I am very proud to see you on the global

However, your team members are not as engaged. Some of them
do not care. Some of them are so arrogant, it is not just nauseating and
repelling, they make people want to take up arms and bring you down.

You’ve made it very difficult for a lot of people to vote
PAP. On the one hand, we want the stability and economic growth that the PAP
brings. Yet on the other, when we think about voting PAP, we cringe. We think,
if we vote PAP again, and give it a strong mandate, does it mean that we are
saying that we endorse the arrogant, unfair, uncaring things that the PAP has
done? Please, sir, you have to fix that.

My friends

I am Pro-PAP, but not a member. I don’t have to plug for
every vote. It is my running theme across all 3 notes – please vote for the
opposition only if you genuinely believe that they are of top notch quality and
will represent your voice well. It is not my place to say who is top quality
and who is not. Everyone has a different idea of what quality is. But if you agree that the quality of the candidates in your area is very bad, please do not vote for them.

I am genuinely alarmed at the number of people who have told
me that they are voting opposition regardless of who the candidates are. Not a
single one of my friends in Ang Mo Kio GRC is voting for PM Lee. More are
starting to say, bring the PAP down, let’s form a coalition government.

Please all, the opposition is not ready to take over the
government in this one election. This is not my opinion. Mr. Low Thia Khiang
said so many times. The day that he says he is ready, it is different. In any
case, if the PAP loses all the seats, and a coalition of opposition parties
form the government in this election, the Prime Minister is likely to be Mr.
Goh Meng Seng, the leader of the NSP, because he would have the most MPs. I’m
not saying he is not qualified. But I would have to agree with Mr. Low that
they are probably not ready at this one election.

People say “I don’t think so”, but they say in the same breadth that they and their friends are all voting opposition. Let me first share what the (illegal) bookies think. Last week they were giving odds for 1 GRC
to fall to the opposition. Then it became 2, and by May 2nd,
it was 4 GRCs and 4 SMCs. What’s the latest after last night’s rallies?
Investment professional sometimes sit in their ivory towers, but the bookies
are very close to the ground, and often have a very good read. The reality of
toppling the PAP, in this one election, is becoming more and more real.

Let me also share my investment behaviour. If everyone
around me tells me that they are not buying the product from a particular
company, I sell the stock straightaway, no matter how impressive their past
performance has been. In this case, however, I can’t sell the stock, because I am Singaporean.
So I am hoping to rationalise with my friends and fellowmen.

Again, from my heart, thank you all for your indulgence in reading this.
 Read more…
Moh Hon Meng
Yesterday, 3:46 PM
I’ve been asked by readers of the first note to defend ministers’ salaries, the PAP using lawsuits to destroy political opponents, the GRC system and the constant redrawing of boundaries, censorship and control of the media, treatment of elderly and the high level of foreigners in our local universities.

I’m doing this because the voices online are overwhelmingly anti-PAP, and I hope to provide some counter points. It used to be the other way round, when the voice was overwhelmingly PAP, and people spoke up for those against. In the interest of this new freedom of expression that we have online, let’s have all sides.

OK, here goes.

Ministers’ salaries

I remember in the late 80s when Mr. LKY announced that he would step down as PM. Many of my seniors were saddened and worried at first, but felt comforted that he would stay as SM. I remember vividly one person saying, “Let’s give him a $100 million payoff for the great job that he has done.” $100 million, $1 billion, I think if we had put that to a public referendum then, most Singaporeans would whole-heartedly say yes, let’s pay him, it’s peanuts compared to what he’s done.

When it comes to the issue of pay, again, it is about the heart being won, as I described in Part 1. When you have the people’s admiration and love, no amount is too high. When you don’t, even $1 is too much.

Recall also Mr. Wee Kim Wee, whom we all loved as President. The presidential pay was very low at that time, and after he stepped down, he was reportedly struggling to make ends meet. As Singaporeans, we said, we are a rich country, we don’t want our beloved leaders to be in this state.

I think our current minister salary structure had a sound logic when it started. The PAP was worried that the private sector was under-represented in cabinet, and the feedback to them was that no private sector individual would want to take a huge pay cut and join the government. So the issue of pay was tackled, pegged to the salaries of top professions. But as many of these corporate titans got invited to “tea”, one by one said no because they just didn’t want the job. How does one go from being a powerful corporate position to helping residents with leaking ceilings, noisy neighbours and carpark fines (which is 90% of an MP’s job)? Also, the personality traits that have made individuals successful in corporate life are often at odds with what’s needed to be a good politician. So the PAP still failed in attracting corporate bigwigs, as is again demonstrated by this current crop of new candidates.

I feel that it was good that the PAP went through this entire exercise, but since the corporate bigwigs are not interested, we should change the structure. I think Michelle Lee’s (SDP) suggestion of pegging it to median income is a good idea. This way, ministers’ salaries will rise when the incomes of the majority of Singaporeans rise.

I still believe that our leaders should be paid very highly though. They wield tremendous power and must not be tempted by corruption, which is a huge problem in many countries, first and third world. Also, other countries may pay lower salaries to their leaders, but they are entitled to a tremendous amount of perks, which when you add them all up, could cost the taxpayers a lot more. For our ministers, their only perk is security. Otherwise, they pay for their own house, car, holidays, their kids education etc.

There was a big debate in Parliament in the 90s about the special discounts that merchants willingly give to office holders. From that time on, all PAP office holders are told to pay full price for everything, unless the discounts are also given to all and sundry. There was once, back when I was with P&G, I saw Mrs Lee shopping at Fairprice at Coronation Plaza, and the store manager offered Mrs Lee the coupon discounts even though she didn’t have the coupon with her. She said no, and sent her driver back to cut out the coupon from the ST and bring it back. All for a $0.50 discount.

I believe the PAP has good, honest leaders who are very skilled at running the government. They just need to gain some humility and remember that they are servants, not lords. But for the job, pay them top salaries. My view holds true even if the opposition becomes ministers one day. They should be paid top salaries.

For now, perhaps we can draw a line here on the salary, and then set the peg at median incomes.

Use of lawsuits and other unfair means against political opponents

I believe this is the difference in style and context between the first two PMs, and PM Lee Hsien Loong. Chee Soon Juan was sued for the line “where is our money?” JBJ was sued for the line “I have made a police report”. I think similar things have been said this time round but I believe there will be no lawsuits. LHL doesn’t want it, and more importantly, Singaporeans will not stand for it.

We all know that LKY was tough and had thrown people into jail without trial in his day. I had the privilege of interviewing the late Lim Kim San a few years before he died, and he told me about how unsafe and unstable the country was in his day. My father also has stories to tell of gangsters, communists and unions. Was it the right thing for LKY to use those heavy-handed means? I think we all have different opinions. It’s hard for us to understand the situation of the country at that time, and I think those for whom LKY has used these tactics and their families, it must have been a terrible ordeal. On balance though, I believe that most Singaporeans probably benefitted.

But we are a different generation now, and I think LHL is an excellent PM who is slowly but surely taking the reins, and he will govern Singapore in a way that is suited to us.

The GRC and the constant re-drawing of constituency lines

Again, there is some difference in style in PM Lee. Recall that this time round, he increased the number of SMCs, reduced the size of the GRCs, and had minimal redrawing of lines. I think we will trend towards fairer fights, but it will not be overnight. Some things will take time to dismantle.

I feel that the GRC system, on its own, is neither good nor bad. It makes it harder for the opposition only when they do not have good candidates. But when they do, like this time round, the PAP stand to lose seats in blocks of 4 or 5, which is much more dangerous to them. There is also the real situation of a single “star” opposition candidate carrying 4 others through, like with Nicole Seah in Marine Parade.

Censorship and control of the media

I think this will also be relaxed over time, whichever party is in power, as the younger generation takes over. The young are used to new media, which has little or no censorship, and are less uptight and less conservative. As the generations shift, we will become more open and more liberal. It will come with its own set of problems, and some will be critical of those, but the way forward towards more openness is inevitable, whichever party is in power.

I think that old media is also opening up. If we count the number of pages in the ST given to the opposition in total this election versus last, I think that you will see that the space has more than doubled.

Maybe the issue here is that the PAP is not opening up fast enough? The situation is that for every cry from Singaporeans to open up faster, there is currently perhaps 2 cries from more conservative Singaporean to preserve traditional, conservative, moral and religious values. If you’re a politician, you do have to listen to the majority voice. In time the majority voice will change, and the government will change accordingly.

Old age care

I have aged parents, as do many Singaporeans. More can certainly be done here. None of us feel good seeing older Singaporeans picking rubbish, collecting cans and selling tissue paper. We do not want to foster a welfare mindset, but I believe that as far as the old are concerned, we can afford to be more “welfare” for this current generation of older Singaporeans, who are less educated. Younger Singaporeans are better educated and are likely to be better able to take care of our own needs in old age, or to still be economically productive and doing meaningful work, rather than collecting rubbish. I think the PAP is right that the way to help us in our own age is to ensure we have marketable economic skills. But for the current generation of old people, who did not have those learning opportunities, let’s do more.

High level of foreigners in our local universities
This is aimed at propping up our population numbers. The foreign workers are transient in nature in that a lot of them will return home some day. The PAP government has a long term blueprint to move Singapore into high value production (but this takes a long time) and hopefully by that time, a lot of the jobs can be filled by Singaporeans. In the meantime, we do need the low cost foreign worker to fill the low value jobs.

So the foreign workers do not form our core population numbers. With our fertility rate at 1.6, which is way below the replacement ratio of 2.2, we face a declining rate of population growth, which will be disastrous for our economy in the future. The solution is to get Singaporeans to have more babies and to take in young immigrants.

Taking them in after high school and having them schooled here, increases the chance that they will settle here and become citizens. It also makes it easier for them adapt to our culture at a young age. We also search for the smartest high school graduates, so that they will contribute to our future high value economy. A lot of them come from very poor villages, so if we do not give them scholarships, they cannot afford to come here.

I feel that if someone comes here at age 16, 17, 18 and finishes university here and becomes a citizen and get jobs, we should not think of it as jobs going to foreigners. These are jobs going to Singaporeans who were born elsewhere. This is nothing new. In fact, it has always been happening, except that they used to come mainly from Malaysia, but now from other places.

The solution to the number of spaces in the university is to build more universities, which is being done now.

“Vote with your conscience”

A few opposition candidates have exhorted us to “vote with your conscience”. I think that can mean different things to different people. The following are options that have been presented by various opposition parties.

a.      Ask yourself whether your lives are better now than it was 5 years ago, and vote honestly.
b.       Ask yourself who can best represent your views in Parliament and vote honestly.
c.      Ask yourself who can give you a good future, and vote honestly.

Pritam Singh (WP), whom I am a fan of, asked “Are the ministers gods who are not replaceable?” In the same vein, we can ask “Are the ministers gods who make no mistakes?” That cannot be. They make mistakes, just as the opposition will, if they form the government. And we all know that.

If we looked at “a” and merely in the last 5 years, I think it may not be balanced because we went through a major global crisis, and many things are warped as a result. Some things need time to play itself fully out. So I think “b” and “c” are the important questions to ask.

For “b”, I feel that this time round, there are indeed a few opposition candidates who are excellent and who can articulate our views very well. However, there are a few who are not so good, and I don’t think it will do us any good, as Singaporeans, if we voted in opposition candidates who cannot do the job well.

“c”, for me, is the biggest question. Has the PAP gone off-track so much that our future is no longer secure? Does the opposition have a greater ability to ensure our future? In defence of the PAP, I would like to say that its confusing styles, its foibles, its mistakes, are because it is a party in transition. Let’s focus more on PM Lee Hsien Loong from here on forth, and not the elder Lee (who is 87 years old).

I am not proposing that the answer is PAP for everyone. Different people have different life stories and experiences. The PAP may not be right for them. If you’re in a constituency that has great opposition candidates and you like them and really think they can represent you very well, please vote for them. No one can say otherwise.

But what is the right thing to do if you are in a constituency where you honestly believe the opposition candidates are no good but you feel frustrated with the PAP? You know my personal answer, but maybe more people can give their views.


We all feel that we are part of something new, profound and powerful this time round. It’s the freedom of expression that we have online. It’s the quality of the alternative candidates. It’s the feeling that each of us can do something about what we believe in.

I’ve tried my best to offer what is strangely now the alternative view point. Those of you who’ve read these notes, I thank you for your indulgence.
 Read more…
Moh Hon Meng
Wednesday, 10:40 PM
When did this happen? It used to be that if you spoke up
against the PAP, you feared for your life. But now online
sentiment for the PAP has turned so overwhelmingly negative that I'm afraid to post this!
But what’s of note in this
election is that my friends have the courage to stand up and say what they
believe in, so I must do the same.

I am pro-PAP, but not a member. I am an entrepreneur, an
employer. I am 42 years old, a father of 2. I live in a HDB flat. I previously worked
in the finance industry for 11 years and was at one time a licensed investment
adviser in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. I have written on economics, business
and politics in various publications.

This is my defence of what the PAP has done. At the end
though, I present my main criticism of the PAP.

Foreign Workers

Forget the “Swiss standard of living”, we are fighting for
our survival. We are surrounded by third world countries with cheap, hungry and
hard-working labour. In the 1990s, businesses were leaving Singapore in droves
to set up in Malaysia, Vietnam and China. The business owners complained that
Singapore was too expensive to do business in. Singaporeans wanted “lifestyle”,
and eschew late hours, low pay and hard work. We want to be paid a high salary,
and yet leave at 6pm to have work-life balance. We want to sit in air-con
offices and not sweat in the sun. We want benefits for mothers, fathers and
older workers. We want companies to provide child care, medical care and long
(paid) compassionate, maternity and paternity leave. We want a lot of things.
It is not wrong to want these things. But from the point of view of employers
and investors, their response was basically this: “No thanks, Singapore. I’d
rather set up in some other country and maybe hire a few high value Singaporeans
to move and work there. Maybe.”

So the PAP government said “Please still come to Singapore.
We’ll let you hire the low cost, hard-working foreign workers that you need,
and give you land subsidy, tax incentives etc .” And the businesses came back.
Some of those that are more labour-intensive ended up with a higher percentage
of foreign workers. But a good number of higher value jobs, those in the
air-con offices, like marketing, accounting and finance, legal, design,
operations etc., went to Singaporeans.

This is at the low end. At the high end, the foreign
businesses said “Look, Singapore has got some good people, but not those at the
very high end. Not the mold-breaking engineers, not the Nobel Prize winners,
not the think-outside-the-box industrial designers. We need these people.” So
the PAP said “OK, let’s bring in these foreign talents (FT) as PRs. They will
impart skills to our people. We will also change our education system, add more
universities and research facilities, to try and achieve this. In time, we hope
to produce our own Nobel scientists.” And so the high end MNCs came also.

Many Singaporean SMEs benefitted from the presence of these
MNCs by providing products and services to them, creating more jobs for
Singaporeans and opportunities for Singaporean entrepreneurs.

It is not the PAP who has suppressed wages for Singaporeans.
It is global competition. The third world, hungry low cost worker, is
suppressing wages and causing jobs to be lost in the U.S., Europe and Japan,
not just here. If we do not offer some low cost workers, and do all we can to woo
these multinationals or even simply to persuade our OWN local companies NOT to
set up their operations overseas, we will lose a lot of Singaporean jobs.

Who are these foreign workers? They are construction
workers, ship-builders, domestic workers, nurses, cleaners, garbage collectors,
chambermaids etc. How many Singaporeans can we find for these jobs? Singaporeans
are getting more and more educated and all of us want to be supervisors and managers,
and this is good. But who would we manage and supervise? Yes, the FTs have
taken away some jobs that otherwise
could have been done by Singaporeans, it’s hard to finely calibrate these
things; but on balance, their presence ensures that businesses, and cushy,
well-paying jobs, remain here and create plenty of opportunities for local SMEs.

Housing policy and overcrowding in MRTs

The cause of the increase in prices for HDB flats is
shortage of supply. The demand has gone up with more people on the island, but
the HDB has only just started building flats. The solution is to create a lot
more supply, and this is already in the works. With higher supply, prices
should mitigate.

Many economists will tell you that in the short term, there
are often imbalances between demand and supply which will lead to distortions
in prices. I believe that the price distortions will swing in the other
direction in 3 years time, when there would be too many houses to meet demand
(particularly if demand is being curbed, following the elections, if foreigner
inflows are curtailed). Over the long term however, the government’s policy
should be geared towards managing these swings, match supply and demand, and
ensure a slow, and affordable increase over time.

Could the increase in foreigner inflows and the number of
flats be better coordinated? Perhaps. But it is very fast to approve foreign
worker permits, particularly when key MNCs are pressurizing the government for
them, and especially when the financial crisis was upon us, whereas it takes a
few years to build flats. This mismatch has caused prices to skyrocket.

It is the same with the MRTs. More lines are being built,
but they take a long time.

Investment losses by the GIC and Temasek

It is not right to pinpoint a specific year when it comes to
investment performance. The long term performance needs to be considered. Even
Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor, lost billions in 2008, like GIC
and Temasek did. But he continued to invest, just as GIC and Temasek did, and
they  recovered their losses when the recovery came in 2009 and 2010. The long term performance of GIC and Temasek has been commendable (based on the data that they released). An NSP candidate
did a simple calculation on Citigroup’s share price and concluded that the
government lost billions on that share alone. This is incorrect. Citigroup went
through a complex share dilution in 2009 which caused its share price to
plunge. But the Singapore government got a sweet deal and made billions in
profits from it. Maybe the issue here is more transparency on what GIC and
Temasek does, but let the issue be transparency, not making losses.

Flooding and escape of Mas Selamat

I believe these to be civil service lapses, not political
ones. As it is with the Nicoll Highway collapse, electrical outages, and the
likes. Heads have rolled at the civil service, as we’ve read, but I’m not clear
what some opposition parties want. Is it that we must have ministerial
resignations for these mistakes? The international community and most Singaporeans
would feel very unnerved if a minister resigned every time some mistakes like
these occur.

Cost-of-living increases

A lot of the increase comes from the increase in prices of
food, oil and other commodities in the global marketplace, which we import. A
part of the reason is the tremendous liquidity that has been created by world
governments to combat the financial crisis. Some of this liquidity found its
way into the prices of some commodities. Climate change and fuel substitution also
contributed. The MAS is trying to mitigate this by letting the Sing Dollar strengthen.
Perhaps the issue is how we help the lower income cope, rather than say that
the PAP has caused the increase.


The ministry overspent on this; that is fact. The question that has been asked is “where is
the accountability?” I’m wondering, “what kind of accountability should there
be?” The ministry has already offered all the facts. In my view, it was the
first time this thing called a YOG was organized anywhere in the world, our
most important priority was to pull it off properly. In this case, it resulted
in overspending. But compare this to the F1. It was also the first time a night
race was held anywhere in the world, and there, the results were better than we
projected. I appreciate the risk-taking nature of our government in these
events. We want our government and our children to be adventurous and
entrepreneurial, we must accept that mistakes will be made. Under-budgeting, as
any entrepreneur will tell you, is very real in any new, untested venture. Are
we telling our government to only do things when they have 100% confidence, and
not risk making any mistake? That’s what kiasu
is, and we don’t want that.

Main criticism of PAP

For a lot of my friends, it’s the arrogance. They may
believe that the PAP is the best party to run the country, but they are voting
opposition anyway because they have had enough of the arrogant PAP style. That’s
heart over head, but that’s what we are like as human beings. Our minds will be
closed to the best logic if our hearts are not there. We will accept the most
perverse logic, even to our deaths, if our hearts are won. And politics is
about winning hearts, not minds. So for my friends whose hearts are lost to the
PAP, even if Pullitzer prize winning arguments are presented here (or estate
upgrading), it is of no use.

That arrogant style was actually appreciated by an earlier
generation of Singaporeans, who were less educated. It wasn’t called arrogance
then. It was called strength of conviction, it was called leadership. It was
called decisiveness and resolve. In the 60s to the 80s, we needed those
qualities in a leader, in our leaders.

But the electorate is a lot more educated now, and there are
a lot of well qualified people who can run the country very well. Their
response is “look, if you cram another hard truth down my throat, I am going to
stand up and take away the ruling mandate away from you.” And that is precisely
what a few very qualified candidates are trying to do now, representing all the
other Singaporeans who have had it up to here with the “I-know-it-all,
you-just-listen-to-me” style. For the previous generation, the PAP may have
been the only answer. It is not so with this generation.

Can the PAP be less arrogant? I think PM Lee is trying, as
we can see from his apology yesterday. Is it too little too late? Will the PAP
really change in the future? I believe in PM Lee’s resolve, but that’s just me.

What are my views about the opposition? On an overall basis,
I don’t think that a multi-party parliament is necessarily a better one. In fact, when we look at parliaments around
the world, the multi-party ones are more often than not mired in disagreement,
unable to move forward. The evidence just isn’t there. Having said that, however,
I am a fan of Sylvia Lim (WP), Pritam Singh (WP), Michelle Lee (SDP) and Nicole
Seah (NSP) and hope to hear them speak more often.

So what am I saying? What is my conclusion? I am not
persuading anyone to vote PAP. That would be arrogant of me.
I want to defend some of PAP’s past policies, especially if they were,
in my mind, done right and with the interests of Singapore at heart but which
have been misperceived. A few of my friends, who know me to be pro-PAP, have
actually asked me to defend the PAP. Perhaps they are sitting on the fence and
struggling with the decision and want to hear a different side from what is
mainly circulating online now. I hope this helps.

Overall, I hope Singaporeans will vote who they honestly believed to be the best candidates for them. If this is done, I think that we, as a country, should be ok. I fear the Singaporean who says “I think the
opposition candidate in my constituency is crap, but I will vote him anyway
because I think the PAP is arrogant.” I cannot agree with that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Appreciating What We have

We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.

This is another post about my sentiments regarding the coming general election. I have never been so interested in politics. I found myself almost reading every news articles relating the GE, reading blogs and viewing videos pertaining to the coming election. According to the ruling party, 'the ground is not as sweet'. There are a lot of resentment in the general population regarding the high costs of living, the high cost of public housing, the influx of foreign workers/talents, woes of public transports, traffic jams despite all the measures & expensive policies by the government. The list of complaints against the ruling goes on and on... Nothing seem right... And everyone's blaming the PAP. PM Lee also admitted that sometimes the policies didn't turn out the way they expected. But he promised that they will change.

The voices for change are loud and clear almost everywhere. And people are looking for change... People are looking for a total change. They want to vote in the opposition parties. Parties that promise to be the voice for the people in the parliament. Everywhere I looked, people are writing, complaining and advocating for change. Someone even wrote that he would even vote for a monkey as long as he's with the opposition. Is the current state really so bad that we have people saying "even my dog can do a better job'? Meanwhile, the supporters of PAP appeared to be weak and accused to be ignorant and myopic by the supporters of the opposition parties.

Be fair to the ruling party, without them, Singapore wouldn't be what it is today. Within 40 years, Singapore has developed from a 3rd world to a 1st world nation with practically nothing, leaving our neighbouring countries trying to play catch up. What it has achieved today is really nothing short of a miracle. This phenomenal success could not be possible without the governance and leadership of the current ruling party, the PAP.

Some people say the success of Singapore is due to the people's hard work. Eh... But just think about it. Farmers and lots of other people in other countries also work very hard if not harder, but are their lives any better? If not for the policies and the good governance, Singapore won't be what it is today. It doesn't happen by accident.

Many netizens are vocal in expressing their views and were seen trying to get people to vote for change, vote for opposition, vote for 1st world parliament. When others expressed their support for the ruling party and their gratitude for the ruling party, they were viewed as being myopic and ignorant by the oppositions' supporters. While I've looked at enough videos, blogs, forums, articles that focused on the faults and weaknesses of the ruling party and the strong calls to vote for change, I've decided to recognize and appreciate what we have.

A lot of Singaporeans are taking everything that we're enjoying today for granted. I'm happy with what we have now, what Singaporeans take for granted...

1) Singapore is a safe country. We can be out late at night and not worry about being robbed. Crime rates are low. In neighbouring countries, it's common to hear of people getting robbed or kidnapped, even in their own homes.

2) Singapore is consistently rated one of the least corrupted countries in the world by Transparency International. Those caught are severely dealt with. In a neighbouring country, the police seem especially efficient at 'catching' speeding cars. We were once caught for just driving 2km/h above the speed limit. And the 'fines' go straight into their pockets. But with crime rates so high, why aren't the police spending more time and effort catching the real criminals?

3) We have our basic needs met, including electricity, clean water and high-speed internet access which we take for granted. For a resource limited country, Singapore is able to sell treated clean water to its much bigger neighbour. We're now considered 'the water expert', sharing our know-how with other countries facing water problems.

4) We have one of the best education systems around the world. It's recognized and others are trying to learn from us. Our school facilities are world-class. There are many paths for everyone. What we enjoy in our schools are so readily provided that we do not realise how lucky we are. Just visit a school in a neighbouring country and you will know what I mean. That's the reason why we can attract so many foreign students. Singapore is able to provide what their country can't. Sure it's a stressful system and I do hope that they can do away with PSLE in the future and I do dream about a class size of 20. I agree that more can be done and provided for children with special needs. But I believe the ministry is already taking steps to change. The reason the opposition parties are able to field in so many credible candidates is also a testimony for the success of our education system.

5) We have a strong economy. Considered one of the 4 Asian Tigers, Singapore is the fastest growing economy with a 14.5% growth in 2010. We have good variety of jobs around. Unemployment is at 2%. This is in the midst of the financial crisis when other countries are facing high unemployment, countries that needed bail outs.  From what I know, no Singaporeans had to resort to working overseas as maids or travel to a neighbouring country to be a factory worker as there are really no jobs locally. While other bigger and 'richer' countries are facing debts, Singapore was able to overcome the economic crisis and make a speedy recovery due to the prompt and effective measures and policies by the government. While I had my questions regarding the plans for the Integrated Resorts, this proved to be a right decision  to boost the economy. What about the social ills, what about people getting addicted to gambling? Yes, always blaming the government for everything that goes wrong. I say why blame government for the bad choices that people make for themselves.

6) Public transport is convenient, from MRT trains to LRT, buses and taxis. Almost everywhere in Singapore is accessible by public transport that are readily available at regular intervals. Yes, it's crowded  during peak hours, but isn't it the same in all the busy cities? Read in the news today about the light rail system in KL that's really in a mess. Images of people sitting on top of trains and buses in India also come to mind...

7) There are a lot of public services and facilities that serve the needs of the residents. We have many good public community and regional libraries that are really easily accessible to everyone. And the best part is it's free. There are many public swimming pools, community centres/clubs and parks. Of course, there can be more and better ones.

8) Public housing is good and always improving. The new flats look better each time. Prices of housing are high. But look at the major cities, everyone has the same problem- Hong Kong, Tokyo, BeiJing, Shanghai, New York, etc. The government recognized the problem of high prices and is looking into ways to control the pricing but careful not the crash the market at the same time. More flats will be built and they will be built faster too. New flats are getting smaller.... Look at the apartments in Hong Kong and you'll be thankful with what you have.

9) We enjoy a high standard of living. Almost everyone has a flat-screen TV (including a pupil who is under financial assistance and lives in a 1-room flat). I see primary school children carrying mobile phones, friends who upgrade their mobile phones every year. Some say the national pastime is shopping and traveling. An opposition candidate said that it's better to live in Malaysia or Russia. If u think it's cheap to live in Malaysia, imagine your earnings in Ringgit, dollar for dollar. Imagine paying $5 for your chicken rice at a coffeeshop or $30 for a bottle of Nutella at the supermarket. I think that's not a fair comparison in the first place. Should compare with another developed nation. Btw, Malaysia's per Capita Income is US$14600 while Singapore's is US$56, 522.

10) Singapore have one of the best government in the world. This is widely recognized but strange that only it's citizens are quick to find fault with it. It works in its own uniquely Singapore way, dominated by 1 party. The leaders have shown leadership with great vision. While they are not perfect, there are always areas for improvement. Sometimes they are wrong, but most of the times, they are right. Some of the opposition parties raise some issues and proposals that are attractive and the ruling party should seriously consider them and make them happen.

Actually, there're many other good things and accomplishments I can see  that I can add to my list... All these are the 'little things' that many have already taken for granted. Many people have chosen to just focus on the negatives and ignore the positives. And the supporters of Peace & Prosperity are considered 'myopic'? The bottom line is...

We do have a good government, we can help make it become better by providing timely feedback and make our views known. Life's good and it'll get better. But there's no need to change a good government with good track records for opposition parties with no track records. They are good and can get better. Although I question the PAP's choice of some new candidates, most of the new candidates are really capable and credible. I prefer a first class government to a first class opposition. Can't imagine parliament with 2 parties. Think Taiwan politics...

I still choose to believe in Peace And Prosperity and I want to "風雨同舟, 共创未来!" 
I also believe after this election, the government will listen more and react more promptly to the voices of its people. There is no such thing as a perfect government because you really can't please everyone. If you know of a perfect government, let me know. 

Come May 7, after the election day, I just cannot imagine PAP losing majority of the seats since so many people out there vowed to 'vote for even monkeys'. So they think the opposition parties who are so good at 'attacking' the current government can do a better job than them? It's always easy to complain and finger point when things go wrong. And the oppositions and supporters are doing a darn good job at blaming the ruling party for everything that had gone wrong. But honestly, who's perfect? You've never made a single mistake in your life? Do you expect others to condemn you just for your mistake while ignoring all your other contributions. Come on, be fair! What about giving credit for all that they have done right? So do people honestly think the opposition parties can do a better job? Imagine the next parliament with 7 political parties... Is this really what Singaporeans want? With so many different voices, life's going to get better then? 

Having a choice is good but that doesn't mean that it's going to be a better choice. Look at the bigger picture. Be careful about what you wish for. You may just get your wish. Change will come, for better or for worse...