13 November 2007

Flat jokes and dumb remarks

The Prime Minister says, to his audience's delight, that some opposition party candidates have gone "Awol". Another minister says we shouldn't "dumb down" our political system. Full essay.


George said...

Of all people, VB has the gall to make such comments.

He was the one who made a careless and DUMP remark about the Malaysian press calling them some animal name which incurred the latters wrath.

Anyway his record of remarks made has been anything but NOT dump!

I suppose it takes a poop to know a clown.

Anonymous said...

just as opposition guys need to remain motivated, PAP supporters need to be told now and then that their camp is superior and they made the right choices; to the intended audience, "rubbing it in" is not "hitting below the belt"


Alan Wong said...

My 2 cents worth of comments :-

Our shrewed and cunning leaders has basically robbed each Singaporean their very basic right to choose their leaders freely ie. by implementing an electoral system whereby the hands of many indebted voters are tied to vote in a certain manner that favours the ruling party.

There is really nothing for our MM to brag about when dirty politics are being used to win elections after elections!

Anonymous said...

Frankly, what can you expect of a party like PAP with a thuggish like attitude to politics. So comments made by Mini Lee ain't too surprising.

One worry is how Workers' Party will respond to such a challenge. The other is the electorate attitude.

Are the Workers' party candidate seemingly being defamed prepared to sue the PM Lee?

I suspect not but it would certainly have some political value even if the plaintiff stood little practical chance of winning. It would at least show up if the courts are prepared to rule on merits or otherwise. If the latter it makes all the claim of fairness moot. This would add to the kind of exposure shown up by Chee et al. And in time possible make the judiciary think twice about acting in, let's just say, the status quo.

As for the Workers' Party as a whole, there is a danger if they don't try to respond more robustly, even if it appears only on the Internet and not the main media, they will be seen as weak.

On the kind of dumb argument put up by Vivian Balakrisnan, my feeling is that both the Workers' Party and electorate may have probably fallen into the trap of aping the PAP concepts of "quality" candidate.

When I talk to many potential voters, they keep talking about the lack of quality people on the opposition side. When you probe what they meant by "quality" they invariably follow the PAP line.

Someone people don't realise that when PAP speak of quality recruits, they speak of people who are picked by PAP and by that logic such people are quality. By PAP definition, quality is not people who have gone through all odds to overcome a problem, able to provide alternative thinking or having gone through baptism of fire. Quality means able to parrot party statements.

Sadly, WP Low seemed to have fallen onto this trap when he so eagerly accepted the status quo in his statement to the media. For instance, James Gomez could easily qualify as a talent and yet Low and his party seemed to have played down that resource!

Anonymous said...

Hello Alex - yes you speak my heart I spotted these 2 ST articles and I was equally shocked! Its below the belt.

The first one - I think your point is right it may be a defamatory statement as it is factually wrong. It was exactly this week when I canceled my ST subscription, they defamed Gomez in full force in ST which took up the whole home section on a particular day in 2006. What do people expect, one treats a capable team of opposition guys like sh.. and then? Good they have other jobs to do, it just shows they are credible and high quality. Sad they didnt make it.

By the way, where did Durai "awol" after his trial?

As to the second issue this is actually more interesting: how are candidates "chosen" in the current system? By quality? By the fact they are hand-picked into a large team that is walk-overed? Tis ensures quality, really?

I really dont understand why they do themselves such a disvavour, the comments are really our of scope... I trust that the Singaporean majority is mature enough too see this is really dumbed down.

Anonymous said...

i will be sad if WP does not take any action.

recruit ong said...

VB is not dumb. VB is speaking the language that the majority of 66.6% out there likes to hear. ;)

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

I expect the WP candidates will weigh carefully the risks involved before they decide on legal action. They will probably weigh their chances of success based on whatever estimation they may make about our judiciary. Does Singapore's judiciary function in a way that other First World countries' judiciaries function? they may be asking themselves.

If they mount a defamation suit and lose it, it won't be cost-free. They will end up paying the other side's (no doubt) massive legal costs.

Other possibilities for drawing attention to Lee's careless words also exist and the WP may instead prefer to take those other routes.

Let's wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Remember at the IBA conference not long ago, Sylvia Lim agreed with Prof Jayakumar over the integrity of Singapore's rule of law, and she further commented that the Workers' Party has no problems finding lawyers [if they were in legal problems], unlike the SDP?

Anonymous said...

I believe after a while most ppl just filter the party political BS. I have learnt to do it.

What's more difficult is the effects of long term unrelenting propaganda.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hello Alex - you might have seen todays letter in ST, very well argued and it got printed! The ensuing discussion in the online ST is also interesting to read, I reproduce the letter here ok. Lets see, right! Cheers ExExpat

Nov 14, 2007

Informed and intelligent electorate vital

I REFER to the report, 'Dangerous to lower criteria to enter politics: Vivian' (ST, Nov 11). I agree with Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan that 'high political hurdles' are needed to ensure that Singapore continues to have good leaders.

However, the hurdles erected so far have only discouraged political contests and it is possible that in 15 to 20 years, Singapore would end up with a political leadership that has not gone through the rough and tumble of a real political battle. Without such a baptism of fire, one wonders whether good leaders will be thrown up - people who will be able to rally the citizens to face unexpected political challenges.

The only political hurdle Singapore needs is not penalties, hefty deposits to contest elections or bigger GRCs to protect untested candidates but the development of an informed and intelligent electorate.

It is not for any individual to decide who is fit to stand for election. It is for an informed and intelligent electorate to decide who should be elected. This is a very fundamental principle of the democratic process. If a professor cannot defeat a taxi driver at the polls, would he be able to rally the people should there be a regional political storm?

Yes, we should have a hurdle for all candidates aspiring for political leadership. However, this hurdle should be in the form of an informed and intelligent electorate. No candidate should be shielded from going through such a hurdle.

Otherwise, how can we throw up leaders with the breadth and vision to understand the needs and frustrations of citizens and able to lead the country through the turbulent sea of politics?

Dr Wong Wee Nam

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

One post above was deleted by me because it began with "small lee now yaya papaya," continuing in roughly the the same vein. That's outside the guidelines for moderated comments.

fibonacci said...

Nov 14, 2007
Informed and intelligent electorate vital

It is never in the interest of a small group of people to have an informed and intelligent electorate. As people become more educated, they grow in confidence. The natural progress is towards democracy and the understanding that inclusiveness and representation of all is the way forward.

However educated and confident people are harder to control. So there are two ways to control them. First is to threaten them - the climate of fear - fear of harm, threats, violence, terrorists. Second is to demoralise them, through propaganda. A frightened and demoralised people are more willing to follow whatever instructions given to them by those in charge. Now tell me are S'poreans, approximately 66% of them, a frightened and demoralised lot?

Anonymous said...

Wonder why Sylvia Lim's job with Temasek Business School is not in jeopardy?

Anders said...

Has it happened in Singapore's political history that an opposition politician sued for defamation and received damages?

Sorry for my ignorance...

yuen said...

I dont think Sylvia Lim is in the same category as Chee Soon Juan; I believe CSJ would have been allowed to finish his contract if he had quietly gone back to his NUS job after the election; instead, he carried on a long ST Forum debate (about, among other things, whether HDB owners "own" their apartments) and if his using his research grant to send his wife's thesis had not been discovered

about the quietness of WP guys: maybe they are satisfied just surviving in Parliament and simply wish to do better at the next election

Anonymous said...

Chiam sued some PAP minister for calling him a "third-grade lawyer". It was settled with a damages of about $40,000(?) before it was brought to the court.

It has been used as a convenient example for the PAP as "opposition politicians can also sue it opponents and win" since.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from my personal knowledge with the research grants at NUS, academics never handle the money themselves. most expenses are invoiced, approved by the dept head, and paid up with cash or cheques by one of the the staff working in individual Dept's general office. It's been a practice for decades, unless you are talking about buying stamps with petty cash.

yuen said...

>with the research grants at NUS, academics never handle the money themselves

oh you mean NUS professors are not responsible for how their grants are spent? they get all that money and let others handle everything?

BTW, I am a retired NUS professor

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I just could not help thinking that when some of our ministers speak and criticise the opposition parties/candidates they tend to be carried away, like a runaway freight-train without realising their own folly. Like 'fixing the opposition' which reflects badly on the speaker himself. Or the 'mee siam mai hum' episode which makes the speaker look rather silly afterwards.

Robert L said...

Dear YB,

Speaking of quality of candidates, I cannot help wondering about the quality of PAP candidates.

I keep thinking about the issue of upgrading of HDB estates in opposition wards. The PAP ministers who started with that scheme must have been without any morals, that is already a given. I mean, what person with any ounce of morality would ever conceive the notion that taxpayers in PAP wards would get their HDB estates upgraded but taxpayers in opposition wards would be at the end of the queue, no matter how old the buildings are? The end of the queue means in practice that no buildings in opposition wards have ever been upgraded!

So let's come back to PAP candidates. Which PAP candidate can ever announce that they do not agree with that dastardly upgrading policy? If all the PAP candidates have to agree with that policy, doesn't it mean that all those candidates have the same morality? Actually I meant to say the same lack of morality.

I have to phrase that as a question, as I don't want to get into trouble with the authorities.

But I have stumbled on an issue which seems to have brought up a barrier to the PAP in getting any candidate of proper moral standards to join them. Am I right or wrong? Are all the PAP candidates lacking in moral standards because they have to support the PAP's upgrading policy?

And how on earth is the PAP going to get any good people to join them?

KiWeTO said...

High hurdles means the system does not believe that the electorate is clever enough to spot opportunists and corrupt people who want to get into power for their own ends.

It presumes that the electorate is stupid, and that the system must protect them from themselves.

From that presumption, its just a slow slide into the world of the MATRIX.

As it is , if "the wisdom of crowds" is true, then any such high hurdles will deny the crowd fair and impartial contemplation of all candidates (not that anyone with any sense wants to become a candidate anymore, in this stupidly restrictive political landscape).

Either way, there isn't a positive way forward for singapore politically; economically, as long as our competitor cities don't do too well, we'll continue to survive.



Anonymous said...

They may talk about erecting high hurdles to ensure only quality candidates get into Parliament, but obviously their own new candidates are not of that high quality, otherwise why should they need the help of GRCs to get into Parliament.

And the reasons they gave for using GRCs are equally lame, like ensuring first time candidates a sure-win route into Parliament otherwise they would not have come forward, or saying that using GRCs is to enable minority candidates to get into Parliament. What a pampered lot of politicians we have nowadays!

Anonymous said...

LHL & VB have the time to release such silly press statements shows 3 things: 1. PAP are drunk with power & continues to crow about their high & mighty ability. 2. The mainstream press have no backbone in deciding printing silly politician comments with no public value. 3. They continue to propagate their obsolete elitist values by thumbing down opposition & elevating their own status.

The worrisome thing with the article is there is NO editorial independence exercised by the mainsteam media. By printing such politic garbage, it reveals the infantile, elitist, arrogant attitudes of political leaders & it shows the weakness of the press controlled by political interests. This in turn reflects badly on the political leaders when their statements are read by global audience. They would be thinking what kind of newspapers would allow such content to pass through their doors without having analyses, or counter arguments. The emperors continue to show their new clothes - naked!

Singapore is riddled with increasing costs of living due to global inflation & high oil & commodity prices. The fact that Spore is so vulnerable to imported inflation is testimony to Spore failed economic growth plan of high value industries & servicing. Spore got rid of agriculture many years ago after deciding the land was too valuable to waste on a low value activity as farming. Such wisdom is now coming home to roost!

Anonymous said...

Haha.. the commenter above me has the opinion that inflation today is caused by the Govt's decision to do away with agriculture - i think its a bit far fetched...

anyway.. i loved yawningbread.org ..

Iqsters said...

I thought VB was the champion of human & democratic rights in Singapore. Used to be the fire-brand critic of the government. But but he turned out to be a pussy before his pay-masters. Now he can't help but wax-lyrical about his employers. He is still in denial that he sold his soul to the devil when he got co-opted into the governmen's fold. But I guess losing his job and 6-7 figure annual salary is worth sacrificing your principles for. The rewards of chickening out like a coward are far too tempting to stand by one's principles. Vivian should just stop defending himself and admit that he's scared shit to voice his views. Well you know what they say... If you can't beat 'em ....