23 May 2008

We're prepared to listen, says government

Vivian Balakrishnan says the government is open to contrarian views... but follows that with a list of ifs and buts. Meanwhile, other news reports reinforce the common view of a heavy-handed government. Full essay.


yuen said...

I met Balakrishnan once; he struck me as completely sincere in wanting to listen, as well as seriouly believing that others in government, LKY included, are open to new ideas.

However, the Singapore Inc system makes it inevitable that the "board of directors" acts with little consultation with "shareholders", though it might do something to smooth over bruised feelings afterwards at "shareholder AGMs".

Anonymous said...

It is hard to believe that the Spore Govt has a policy of engagement with the public. The Casino issue came and went without any real engagement from the public.
"A leopard does not change his spots" is a saying that is true of the Spore Govt. We are still ruled by a strong-armed patriarch who initially together with a group of strong leaders [Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, Hon Sui Sen, Edmund Barker, S.Rajaratnam, Ong Pang Boon, etc.] brought Spore from colonial rule into a strong independent state surrounded by a hostile neighbor and another hoping that our fledgling state would fail. Copying the British formula of throttling opposition by using sedition charges, detention without trial and a host of legal methods, Spore Govt was able to halt a host of communists, hardcore unionists and racial provocateurs. However, as these threats fade away over time and the old guard had served it's purpose, the old man retained those powers to consolidate his position and forced the old guard leaders into retirement. The checks and balance have been thrown off. By anointing his own and a host of "yes" men, the stage is being prepared for his own empire. The high ministerial pay is just the reward for their compliance. Elections were treated as an annoyance every 4-5 years. Redrawing political boundaries, implementing of GRCs, uniformed LEOs patrolling & filming opposition rallies became the norm. Opposition candidates who were deemed threatening were "fixed" - defamation, bankruptcy, reduce to a pauper [JB Jeyaretnam, Chee Soon Juan] as examples to the public. No one in a right frame of mind would seek to challenge the status quo. Many instead chose to migrate to greener pasteur leading to ex-PM Goh in 2002 NDP speech to comment on "Stayers vs Quitters". The joke was that since he highlighted this issue publicly, many who never had comtemplated migration suddenly rushed to migration agents or directly apply to migrate. A whole new industry [migration services] had been created overnight by then PM Goh's remark.
Since then, those who have migrated must be counting their blessing - life have become harder in Spore. Unrestrained immigration of so-called foreign "talents" have suppressed wages & salaries, cost of living have escalated not helped by LTA imposing ERP gantries all over Spore, bus & taxi fare increases and coming up with "let them eat cake" remarks when confronted with public complaints regarding escalating cost of living.
When a dangerous terrorists escaped from Whitley detention center, the fingers pointed everywhere - at the hired help [Gurkhas] & at public complacency [MM's statement], but never on the minister! Even when the overwhelming public demanding the relevant minister resigned from his post, the PM still backed his beleagued collegue.
"We're prepared to listen, says government" - What a Joke!

Chris said...

Are they not aware how they come across sitting there silently, sullenly? They send a chill around the room, like they are surveillance agents out to keep tabs on who is saying what.

That last sentence is exactly right.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:
"Unrestrained immigration of so-called foreign "talents" have suppressed wages & salaries,..."

This is so true for the IT sector. Its no point pursuing higher education in computer science any more if you are born & bred in Singapore. No one will hire you as they prefer the imports from India who willingly take the $2000 pay packet becos it goes a long way when they remit it back to India. Also, they share rooms in an HDB flat which reduces their rent to about $100+ per person per month. If you are a young Singaporean, you will be hard pressed to make ends meet if you have a young family to support as well as your parents.

Even Hong Kong has a more stringent foreign talent policy than Singapore, mindful not to displace its own citizens from jobs. The financial crisis of 1997 and SARS episodes reinforced the belief that jobs must be created for its citizens first.

What perplexes me is that MOM refuses to divulge how many fully employed people are citizens and how many are PRs. It always lump everything as citizens which is wrong, PRs are NOT citizens. They carry passports belonging to their motherland. They owe no allegiance to Singapore.

This is another example of why the civil servants here especially at MOM never listen to what we say. But then again who do you blame? If you voted for the PAP, then you live with this very liberal FT first but Singaporean citizen last policy. But if you did not, then you are wise in your decision as you saw how things would unfold.

Anonymous said...

So what if the Garment says it is prepared to listen? Under the conditions dictated by It, I am not prepared to say anything bad about It, less I get sued until bankrupt or, worse still, get detained without trial under ISA for as long as they want.

I am only willing to say nice things and praises. Is that what the Garment wants? If so, what's new?

Anonymous said...

double talk is their forte. i don't see how they can EVER connect with the people. not under the current structure.

when you can't connect, you fail. it is as simple as that.

YEP Yunnan Team said...

I just want to contribute a fact:

FACT: REACH portal is indeed a waste of time.

REASON: FRom my personal experience, email enquiries are never replied - and if they are, replies are cut and paste policy statements. When I received the 1st reply, I replied again - explicitly asking my question again and explicitly stating "You are not answering my question" - And no more replies thereafter.

AFTERMATH: I started to get lots of "Public Consultation" emails from REACH - so often, that I started to block emails from their address.

THOUGHTS: is REACH portal just another bucreacratic mechanism so that SG Inc can claim they have done "public consultation"?

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Yep Yunnan Team -

Perhaps you could publish copies of the correspondence to let others see what exactly happened.

Anonymous said...

dont worry; I expect Reach will regularly publish statistical tables revealing the no. of feedback items received, the no. of replies sent, the percentage of items leading to action, etc; it will have scientific proof it is doing an excellent job


Anonymous said...

This is so true for the IT sector. Its no point pursuing higher education in computer science any more if you are born & bred in Singapore.

Its not just a problem in S'pore. I'm in IT from a Western country. It's bad everywhere else in the world too. Indians are willing to work for pennies and any non-Indians have no job prospects. Wages in IT are tumbling. This is not racist. This is a fact. I'm looking to get out. But where to go? My degree was in computer science.