Friday, 30 December 2011

2011年风云人物:阿裕尼选民


当然也应该包括20年后才亮剑的刘程强和工人党团队


红绿屋顶的阿裕尼为新加坡民主带来了春天


这是你情我愿的事。阿裕尼选民肯投敢投在野党,愿意做出改变,不过也要选择一把好剑,如果是一把破刀, 那是不可能一剑穿心,把行动党的两个部长击倒。因此,宝剑配英雄,再配上人民的支持,其结果,就是一口气让五位行动党候选人落选。

这个结果,其意义在于为将来的在野党候选人制造机会,突破行动党的集选区,让选民敢于给在野党机会,只要是宝剑,好剑,选民就敢投你一票。

两年前,行动党制度化官委议员,增加非选区议员的人数,在选前变更选区范围,就是要拦阻在野党壮大。这种没有远见的作为,当然逃不过选民的眼光,选民要看候选人亮剑,选一把代表民心的好剑。当时,行动党是否是为太子铺路,还是任然在一党独大的美梦中,而不知道世界已经变了,竟然可以变得这么的快,这么的令人不可捉摸。这一点可能连在野党也没有意料到。

看起来,816已经是行动党的极限了。很难想象下一届大选仍然还是这个比例。因此,行动党的总议席看起来是不可能增加了,而在野党的 议席却有机会大大的增加。选民就是要看一把好剑,不管是来自在野党还是行动党。一把为民服务的宝剑,就是选民心中的一把尺。

20年后刘程强才亮剑

依稀记得20年前,开车到后港看刘程强的选前最后一个群众大会, 好像是在河边,现在是公寓的地方,当时,找停车位没有问题,现场也只有几千人,那里有像现在的群众大会,挤得人山人海,根本找不到停车位,拥挤的连挤都挤不进去。

刘程强的这个1991年群众大会的人数,当然比上一届1988年的友诺士集选区的人数来的少。看过了友诺士的群从大会,看过了友诺士的险败,在计票中心的失望,心里面是灰灰色的,对1991年的大选,当然没有存在太大的希望。

说的实在一点,根本没有想到刘程强会胜出,还有民主党的其他两位候选人也胜出。加上詹时中,那一年共有4位在野党议员。本以为20年前的这个突破,可以维持和壮大下去,但是,在集选区继续扩大,选区范围一再变更下,在野党候选人素质好坏不齐的情形下,结果这一等,就等了20年。连续剧中的‘才九’不是说了吗,人生有几个10年,我们竟然等了两个10年。从这点看来,行动党的本事真的不小, 也很敢走民主的擦边球。

难怪,5月工人党在阿裕尼的胜选,有这么多的人发出快乐,欢乐的笑声,或许还有哭声,笑中带哭。这个足足等了20年的突破,可以说是得来不易,是需要多少毅力,努力,汗水,忍受多少不公平,不平等的待遇下,而拼出来的。

所以说,2011年的新加坡风云人物,应该是这群人,而他们的代表人物就是阿裕尼选民,刘程强和工人党的议员。

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Will the children and grand children of our ISA exiles be given citizenship?



  Happy New Year 2012 from the children of Jiangxi

This looks like an unthinkable question and most likely a stupid question from a wise man’s point of view.

But who know many years down the road when Singapore becomes more mature and achieve the first world democratic status.  A history relooks and re-evaluates may ‘correct’ the political norm of today. This will give a fair assessment to those people who left or forced to leave Singapore for political reasons.

The BBC report on “Latin American exiles queue for Spanish citizenship” is an interesting article. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16342340

The report said:

<A provision added in 2008 - known as the Law of Grandchildren - offered citizenship to anyone whose parents or grandparents were born in Spain but left the country because of their political beliefs or economic hardship between 1936 and 1955.>

And interestingly children and grand children of foreigners who helped to fight against the dictator are also eligible:

<Citizenship was also offered to foreign volunteers who fought for the Republic in the International Brigades.>


Political exiles are small in numbers and few have noticed their existence. However, they are people who are forced to leave or asked to leave (renouncement of citizenship) due to language or political reasons.

In fact, the word ‘prisoner’ may not be a correct word for an ISA detainee. ISA detainees have not been charged in courts so far.  And very likely, in view of the recent withdrawal of Malaysian ISA, the ISA in Singapore will not be used for political purpose. It is now a political liability to detain a person under ISA.

Everything looks possible in politics as happened in Arab and North Africa and even Europe. Changes may not be 100% right and good but it seems unavoidable.

What kind of springs will we have in years to come?

In the mean time, when we approach the end of 2011, let’s celebrate the New Year with a greater confidence of change. 2012 will be a difficult year for our economy – job security, income stagnation, inflation, etc.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

乌龙的政治秀 网上的罗生门 或许越来越普遍



汉通不如英通 入流不及主流

地铁停驶事件节外生枝,引发出预想不到结果。原本讨论地铁停驶问题的电视节目,是要让政府有机会来拉近民心,让人们发表意见,做做政治秀,把视线转一下,不要整天谈论官方的意见,来一点民声,怎知道火不但没息,反而落得虎落平阳被犬欺。

这场地铁政治秀,现在看起来,好像变成了罗生门。有点像中共和国民党的一中各表,也有点像九二共识的有和无的争论,还有到底如何台湾共识,是如何个共识法?

还是现实一点的好。汉通真的不如英通好。现在搬出华校生的身份,会不一会迟一点。英语不灵光,就要有自知之明,上主流媒体的英语节目,就要特别小心。即使英语真的不灵光,也要有基本的政治敏感度,种族歧视,一向是我们国策中不被许可的,作为行动党的国会议员,怎么可以这么的大意。

堂堂一党独大的行动党议员,有着这么雄厚的政治背景,怎么会落的个虎落平阳被犬欺呢!怪只怪自己虽然入了主流的执政党,但是却只是一个跑龙套的。大事没有你的份,小事就让跑跑,因此,虽然入了流,也不是主流中的主流。说来也令人不明白,身为国会交通委员会副主席,本身英语又没有主席来得灵光,为何要跑这一回的龙套。

一个乌龙球,踢倒一个精汉

更为怪异的是,发起这回讨伐声浪的不是主流媒体,而是社交网中的主流网站。事实上,主流的电视媒体,已经做了一个球,一场政治秀,让这个交通委员会副主席来把球踢进对方的龙门,哪里知道,这临门一脚,竟然成了一个乌龙球,踢进了自己的龙门。你说冤枉不冤枉,明明是一场必胜的比赛,连裁判,边线员都是自己人,怎么还是输了一场球。

球虽然输了,唯一得到的安慰奖,可以说,的确把人们的目光从大骂地铁营运的的声浪中,转到这场乌龙球的赛事上。这或许是一场无意中的有意效果。

不是败在主流媒体手中,而是败在主流的社交网站手中。是否可以用虎落平阳被犬欺来形容呢?一个非主流,官方又不认可的媒体,竟然能够逼我们尊贵的行动党议员踢进一个乌龙球。

我们主流媒体是非常的自负的,在官方的支持下,自认报道公平公正。同时,主流媒体也提出数据,调查报告,说明人们还是相信报纸电视的报道,认为这些报道可靠性高,公信力强。那么为何主流社交网能够把我们的主流政党的议员打败呢?怪只怪你是精汉而不是精英。即使是非主流的精英也可以把你这个主流的精汉打倒。

这就是不听老人言的结果。老人不是说了吗,在新加坡不懂英文英语是不行的。你的汉通通成了精汉,还是汉。别人的英通虽然通不成精英,还是英,即使不是主流的英,也强过你的精汉。做人要吸取教训,难怪孩子的爸妈都怕孩子的英文不好,汉语嘛,听得懂就行了。 这次的乌龙事件,更令人不得不信邪。

不相信,讲一个王鼎昌的故事让你听听。老人不是说过在总理的人选中,虽然王鼎昌很优秀,但是,他的英文英语能力却是他上位总理的阻力。大家都知道,他最后当不上总理,却可以做总统。语文能力竟然在新加坡成了一个人能力多少的象征。或许,就是他骨子里还有一股精汉之气,华校生的精神,才使到国人了解到即使身为总统,他连国库储备,政府的资产有多少都不知道。王鼎昌的这番话,为他自己赢来了好评。

罗生门中的社交网公信力

话说回来,主流网站发动这场罗生门汉通地铁事件,得分不少,网民热烈反应,终于有机会击倒主流政党的议员,搞得行动党平安夜不很平安,还要出来誊清。这看起来好像是社交网站的最佳圣诞礼物,工作了一整年,终于看到行动党的多一个成员认错了。

万一这粒进球,这粒乌龙球,在最后被判进球不算,原因是这是一起罗生门,在利益疑点于原告的情形下,原告无罪。这样一来,社交网站的公信力将会受到打击。行动党政府就可以利用主流媒体进行反攻,以这起事件说明社交网上的讨论,根本没有可信度,立论差,无根据,还是老牌的主流媒体可靠。

这或许是主流社交网站预想不到的事。或是,预料中的事。既然是罗生门,那么,各说各的,到最后,很可能是不了了之。不论结果如何,汉通不如英通,入流不及主流的政治现实,还是摆脱不了的。只是,在将来很可能在网上会出现更多,甚至更大的罗生门事件。

Friday, 23 December 2011

From Broken English To Misinterpreted English To Non-English Languages: Are We An International City With A Human Touch?


There seems to be a language communication issue in our transport system.  Not only our ‘national language’ English was not well communicated to the commuters about the MRT breakdowns, other official languages of Chinese, Malay and Tamil face even more communication problems or no communication at all.

In addition to a previous post <Lui Tuck Yew should think out of the PAP box> (http://pijitailai.blogspot.com/2011/07/lui-tuck-yew-should-think-out-of-pap.html) , now Liu should act further to think out of the ‘communication and language box’.  I have also pointed out that English may not  necessary to be the working language for all residents in Singapore (http://pijitailai.blogspot.com/2011/11/singapore-working-language-is-english.html). 

Therefore, how to guide and communicate with commuters in their own languages, other than English, is critically importance. Unless  the government has different positions towards these groups of commuters, seeing their lives less important and treating them second class.

So the communication issue is even more urgent and critical than the ‘broken English’ issue.  If by speaking singlish, we can get the urgent messages through to commuters, it is a good communication tool and has passed the communication test even it is not Standard English.

<<Just like the famous slogan of Deng Xiaoping: "It doesn't matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice" >>

Unfortunately, it seems not the case.  In the recent breakdowns, commuters did not get the messages from SMRT in all four official languages of Singapore.

We are the first world country and Singapore claims to be an international city or at least a leading city in Asia. There are many tourists and business visitors using our airports, seaports and public transport system, so we really cannot afford not to get the public messages out clearly and correctly.

It is a question beyond English.  Whether the English is broken or misinterpreted, there are still many commuters cannot understand English.  What happen to the commuters who are senior citizens, non-English speaking locals and foreign visitors?

Whenever there is a new launch of MRT routes, one of the common complaints is there is a lack of non-English signboards or directions. Even at Changi airport, non-English speaking Singaporeans are complaining about it. Are we pushing too hard to be a English country and forget about our Asian roots.

This is certainly not a new problem or new issue. If Minister Liu is concerned and care about non-English speaking commuters, he should not only solve the English communication problem. By doing so, he is still thinking within the ‘English box’ and fails to provide solutions to the ‘non-English box’.

It is quite surprised to learn that after putting so much effort in learning English for so many years, even with the sacrifice of mother tongues, we still face the problem of effective English communication. Could it be we are only looking at the economic benefits above human touch and human communication? 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

在历史感情和功利现实下,台星关系渐行渐远



从新加坡看来,的确是如此。

先说这个“星”字,在新加坡,好多人,尤其是年轻人,都不直接联想星洲就是新加坡,很少人会用“星”加坡,这是旧的用法,就连‘星洲日报’都要到马来西亚去找,新加坡已经没有“星洲日报‘,也没有”南洋商报“,这两家报纸要到马来西亚才能找到。这是文化上的变。

所以,从新加坡出发,还是用新台或是台新关系比较好,比较能反映历史的真实,这或许更能显示两地的历史感情的流失。两蒋和李光耀的感情是不能和现在的新台两地领导人的 关系做比较的,单单他们的这段过去的感情,就没得比。那时是为存亡而两依靠,现在是各飞各的,在现实面前,选择自己的路。

不只是领导人的感情问题,两地的语言文化元素也进一步发生变化,变好变坏不好评论,但是,新加坡是要走向所谓的‘集合亚洲于一身,国际化市的英语社会‘,而台湾却依然要发挥台湾特色的中国文化,当地文化。因此,新加坡年轻一代,除了追星一族对台湾的影视文化,旅游饮食有所了解外,深一层的政治,社会,文化的沟通,当然是不尽人意。在这样的背景下,和从前比较,新台关系自然会生变。

新加坡务实的选择

以新加坡人的立场来说新台关系,也只能说是两地,而不能说两国。新加坡只承认一个中国,而台湾是整个统一中国的一部分。新加坡政府不会为了得罪中国,伤害新中关系,而让驻新加坡台北办事处越界,这是台湾人的无奈,新加坡人的不得已。在大国外交下不得不走的路,不得不知的选择。

外交上如此,国防上也是如此。星光计划已经渐渐失去过去的星光。新加坡武装部队的训练已经可以在好多国家进行,澳大利亚,新西兰,美国,法国,印度,南非,泰国,文莱等等。这个新台历史上,最重要的包袱,已经越来越轻了。

新台关系,在两蒋过世后,就发生了“情”变。事实上,在70年代,尼克松访问中国,李光耀访问中国,中国加入联合国后,就已经开始变了。中国的改革开放在意识上又是一变。台湾的民主化过程又是一变,李登辉是一变,陈水扁是一变,马英九想变回来,和以前一样,是不可能的,想改进倒是有机会,但是,也只能在经济方面下手。

台湾在新加坡经济,外交,国防,文化上,越来越不重要

新加坡是个讲经济论功利的地方。如果新台关系要进一步发展,就只能从这个方向找突破点。但是,台湾在新加坡经济上所扮演的角色,也和外交,国防,文化一样,越来越不重要了。新加坡旅游局不是把台北分局降格为办事处了吗?中国的崛起,当然是一个因素。欧美日本依然是新加坡的主要贸易国,即使是台湾的竞争对手-韩国,在新加坡的经济动作也比台湾多。

台湾的民主,海外华人引以为傲的事迹,又不是新加坡政府乐意开发学习的领域。台湾的非政府的社团活动,虽然在国际上具有良好的名声,也做出成绩,但是,新加坡政府样样事情都要当主导,也不是我们新加坡人可以借鉴的。文化和语言也遇到了困难,我们连学习简体字都遇到很大的困难,还有余力学习了解台湾特色的中国文化吗?

主动被动角色的对调

看来,新台关系的改进,一个是主动,一个是被动。新加坡的外国朋友很多,现在也改进与邻国的关系,在一个讲经济功利的国际大环境下,新加坡的务实也是无可厚非。新台关系是否出现变数,改善,在很大程度上要看台湾的积极性,台湾经济的进一步提高。新加坡以经济治国,当然要用功利为诱惑,才能改善关系,才能打动新加坡领导的心。

作为海外华人,我们希望台湾蓝绿停止争斗,一起把台湾带上一个新的台阶。让台湾的民主,经济,文化,社会活动在世界的舞台上发光发亮。

Monday, 19 December 2011

Free Public Transport For All When The Trains Break Down


As a compensation for the loss of money and time, users of public transport should entitle for a free ride whenever the MRT trains or the metro system break down.

More importantly, we must look beyond the financial figures.  When the emergency comes and passengers have to run for their lives, if the SMRT keeps the mindset of ‘pay first before your leave the stations’, then we are expecting more disasters to happen.

It is an issue of life against money, time against money. Not only SMRT did not maintain its metro system well, it also did not evacuate the passengers well in the recent incidents.   These are just breakdowns, what will happen if there is a terror attack, fire, flood or other emergency.   Can we trust SMRT to do a good job and put life as first priority?

So, it is important to be prepared in face of the emergencies as what Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean mentioned on Sunday.  He said it's important to be prepared in the face of emergencies, as there are always unusual aspects within every scenario.  (CNA, 19 Dec 2011).  Not only the SMRT, the government, the people and all users of public service must be prepared.

Preparation of financial loss

These preparations should go beyond physical and emphasize on the mental preparation of financial loss. Since SMRT is a public listed company and of course, it has its financial performance to look after. At the end of the day, the financial reports will decide the bonuses and dividends that the company is going to pay out.

What worry us is if the management is blinded by the money and fail to see the importance of life and the emergencies of getting people out of the trains, the stations and the affected metro system as soon as possible.   If the SMRT management has this ‘money-minded’ mindset as a profit making company; and forget their role of providing safe public transport to the people, then we may have to re-think the Singapore model of public operations.  

We are very proud of our public transport system, giving them the monopoly status, so that we can claim that we are one of the few countries in the world that do not subsidise our public transport system.  What can it be proud of if people’s life is not the first consideration?

We should also think further of the ‘monopoly’ and priority of operating routes to only one single mode of transport, i.e. train only no bus service.  If we have the parallel running of bus services to the train services, then at least, we can have a better and more effective alternative solution if the trains break down.

The soon to be set up Committee of Inquiry should not only look at the causes of the breakdowns.  Its terms of reference should go beyond technical and should include the operating mindset, attitude towards chaotic and panic, willingness to sacrifice financial returns etc - the soft side of operating a metro system.     

Rewarding ministers with public service performance

The fact is it should go beyond the issue of the resignation of CEO of SMRT.  With her departure, will SMRT still maintain ‘profit first, service second’ attitude? And in time of emergency will they put life above money?

Besides economic growth, efficiency of public transport, measures to control floods, happiness, and others should be made as a performance indicator to reward our ministers.  Strange enough, in Singapore, it seems achieving growth rate is easier than preventing MRT train breakdowns and floods.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

地铁事件的机关算尽,垄断到底,和替代无路


地铁中断服务,不是部长说的严重事件,它在一定程度上也反映政府的管理思维,办事态度。如果地铁公司需要反省,那行动党政府一路来的相关政策和作为就更要加以反省了。因为,政府的所作所为都跟-机关算尽,垄断到底,和替代无路有关。

何为机关算尽?以地铁为例,就是要想尽各种办法让地铁公司赚钱,让利益为先,如果维修可以外包省钱,就大开方便之门。总之,政府不希望地铁的经营会带来财政上的负担,只要能够做到,快,省,好,政府就说地铁公司好。

什么是垄断到底?地铁的经营就是做到垄断到底,除了给予路线的垄断外,还要避免发生竞争,不只地下没有竞争,就连地上也没有竞争。和地铁平行的巴士,统统都要退出服务,确保只有地铁单方面提供该路线的公共交通服务。

结果呢!变成了替代无路。一旦发生地铁中断服务,就是没有替代公共交通服务。只能利用临时找来的巴士连接地铁站,这种点与点的联系,怎能和平行的巴士路线相比,当然是把地铁乘客搞得怨声载道,大吐苦水。

政府怎么会没有想到机关算尽和垄断到底的结果是会把自己陷于替代无路的尽头。物极必反,什么都算尽,什么都垄断,结果是人民一看到不满,一看到不顺心,就会怨声载道,甚至有时连道理都不说,总之,都是政府的错,什么都怪政府了。一有机会,人民就会发出不满,不然,就找机会,发出不满。因此,地铁窗户的被打破,有人说是破坏公物,有人说是不满,有人说是空气不流通,总之,地铁公司的回答是不加追究。试问,不论是什么原因,地铁公司还敢追究谁?不是更加引起公愤吗?

媒体,工会,人协,建屋局的
机关算尽,垄断到底,和替代无路

从地铁延伸开来,行动党政府在其他方面,也不是做着同样的事情吗?

*媒体电视在被政府机关算尽和垄断到底后,人们就只好到网络上去找出路,自己找一条路来宣泄和发表意见。看不到好节目,就上网找。这样一来,反而是给网民找到了一条替代之路。

*工会在被机关算尽和垄断到底后,似乎真的替代无路了。什么都是由行动党来安排,工会已经不需要自发自动的工会精神了。

*人协被机关算尽和垄断到底后,年轻人不想参加,不认同行动党口味的人不参加人协的活动。不只如此,人协的排外性还很强,反对党的活动是外人,行动党的活动是自家人。

*建屋局更不用说了。组屋翻新,邻里设施的提升,更是要看行动党的脸色,不投行动党,那就慢慢等吧!

地铁事件,不只使到没有替代公共交通工具(平行巴士服务 )的出现,甚至即使有,有很多人也不知道。在乌节搭不到地铁的人,根本没有意识,讯息,如何换乘什么巴士回家。只好傻傻的等待地铁公司提供的巴士,到下一个地铁站去。这种等待他人安排命运的做法,有待商榷。


化功利机会为服务精神

好多人对地铁公司对其德士师傅发出收入机会很生气,但是,如果你想一想政府一直在协助地铁公司(还有其他的政联公司)在机关算尽,垄断到底,和替代无路的时候,你就能够了解政府的苦心了。或许,你会更加生气,更加不满,更要找一个替代的服务,替代的政党为你说说话。

政府如果要赢回民心,真的要痛定思痛,好好地化收入机会服务机会。对人民好一点,以公从的利益出发服务人民。恢复平行巴士服务,在地铁中断服务时,加派巴士投入服务,比临时巴士服务于点与点的连接会更加有效。如果,能够大方一点,一旦地铁中断服务,所有受到影响的乘客,都应当免费可以换乘巴士和其他地铁的连线。因为,乘客的时间和精神损失,在机关算尽,垄断到底,和替代无路下,也要有个价码的。这点补贴应该可以说是天公地道的。

地铁站的收费门在地铁中断服务后,为了更安全更快速的疏散人群,应该自动的打开,不要天天只顾赚钱,紧急时刻,遇到更重大的事故,如恐怖袭击,天灾人祸,还只顾着收钱,不让人群快速离开,将会造成更大的损失。救命要紧,地铁公司千万要有这种思维。

如果地铁公司不是发出收入机会通告,而是发出下面温馨的服务精神通告,那该多好呀!

《服务机会:地铁中断服务,请快速前往支援,为我公司献出最佳的服务精神,为受影响的乘客提供爱心,快速把他们送到目的地。为了感谢您的帮忙,公司决定免收今天的德士租金。谢谢。》

期待公共交通的爱心服务,明天会更好?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

NMP And The Most Important Book: Who Is To Decide? May History Make The Decision?



How can we define whether a person or a book is important, most important or not important at all? Should it be defined according to public opinions, the applicants, the author, or history?  We don’t know.  It is especially difficult to assess the importance of a book when the author is alive. Just like many art pieces, their intrinsic value will only surface (unfortunately) after the passing of the painters.

Lin Yutang wrote an interesting book about Su Tungpo – ‘The Gay Genius – The life and Time of Su Tungpo’. Su’s works were banned and the Song government even imposed fine for possessing the poems, prose and paintings by Su.  However, century later, the government had to withdraw the order and praised Su again with highest respect.  

History is very funny. It records the past for future readings and assessments.  The current happenings may not be the true pictures of the events.  Hopefully candidates who apply for the Nominated Members of Parliament know what they are doing and applying for. And also, those who have said they have written the most important books in their life may have to take notice that this is only their own assessments.  What the future generations think and evaluate may be very different from the current reality.  

Just like Lin said in his book:

<There is a current Chinese saying that final judgment upon a man is possible only when the cover is nailed on his coffin.  (盖棺定论)    
A man’s life is like a drama, and we can judge a drama only when the curtain drops.>  


In explaining the difficulty of assessing a living man, Lin has this to say:

<It is really not so difficult to know a man dead a thousand year ago.  Considering how incomplete our knowledge usually is of people who live in the same city, of even the private life of the mayor, it seems sometimes easier to know a dead man than a living one.  For one thing, the living man’s life is not completed, and one never knows what he is going to do next when a crisis comes.  …… That is why it is so difficult usually to judge a contemporary, whose life is too close to us.>

On blacklist and treatments of Su Tungpo, Lin further described:

<One year after the death of Su Tungpo …, a historically important episode occurred.  This was the establishment of the famous Yuanyu Partisans’ tablet, a symbol and a summing up of the struggles of the whole period. …..  the tablet was a black-list of 309 men, headed by Su Tungpo, of the Yuanyu regime. It banned for ever by imperial order these persons and their children from assuming office in the government. …….. For over a century, the children of the black-listed men boasted that their ancestors’ names were included in the tablet. > 

Yuanyu Tablet Source: ghbl.org.cn 

However, Lin stressed the importance of integrity in writings:

<Su Tungpo’s peculiar position in China’s history was, therefore, based on his courageous stand for his principles and opinions, as well as upon the charm of his poems and prose.  His character and principles constitute the ‘bones’ of his fame, while the charm of style and language forms the ‘flesh and skin’ that embody the beauty of his spirit.  I do not think that we can, at heart, admire a writer lacking in integrity, however brilliant and charming his writings may be. >

Tablet, History and NMP

In 1990, the NMP scheme was introduced when there was an overwhelming majority of PAP MPs in Parliament.

A Nominated Member of Parliament(NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed instead of being elected into office by the people, and who does not belong to any political party or represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament. The introduction of NMPs in September 1990, effected to bring more independent voices into Parliament, was an important modification of the traditional Westminster parliamentary system that Singapore had. (Source: wikipedia)

Applicants who are aiming for NMP posts have to learn a lesson from the Yuanyu Tablet.  The have to always remind themselves that they are appointed, to be independent and their present is an important modification of the parliament system.

Furthermore, the political situation now is very different from 1990.  The past performance of majority of NMPs and whether the NMP scheme is appropriate at the first place are all still in doubt in the historical perspective. It really takes some courage and motivations to stand before the Select Committee. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

从新马大众书局的差异,看厦门大学落脚马来西亚。


每次到马来西亚短游,都会特意的到那里的大众书局逛一逛,不论是新山还是吉隆坡,那里的大众书局都比我们这里的大众书局,有更多的华文书籍,简体的,繁体的,台湾的,大陆的,香港的,甚至马来西亚出版的都有。

虽然和台湾诚品相比,有一些距离,但是,和同属一个集团的新加坡大众书局,那可相差的很大很远。这里的大众也尝试开办过这样的书局,但是,却不成功。在新加坡,或许,只有书城才有出售这么高,那样有水平的华文书籍吧!

这里的大众书局有如一间专卖考试书籍的地方,小学,中学,高中,除了课本,还有考题解答,各种各样的学校参考书,准备书和工具书。看来新加坡的书局的一大收入还是离不开出售学校的教科书和工具书。难怪,邻里中心组屋的走廊,不时还可以看到出售名校考题和解答的复印本,还卖的很红火的呢!

话说回来,既然没有读者群,当然也没有贩卖高水平华文书籍的必要。大众是一间上市公司,不能只为文化服务,为新加坡区区几个读者服务。这是可以理解的,卖学校课本参考书容易得多了。何必要为自寻烦恼,钻象牙塔,辛辛苦苦找了一大推没有要买没有人要读的书呢!

大马学生有华文底支持厦大分校

这里没有读者,没有客源,对岸却有。很自然的,大马的大众书局就自然的提供这样的服务。为他们找来华文书籍,为他们提供精神粮食。这些读者中,还不乏年轻的读者。这就难怪中国厦门大学有意要到马来西亚开设分校。厦大也是要考虑市场需求的嘛,没有足够的学生人数,分校是开不成的。

作为一个来自新加坡的人,陈嘉庚当年设立厦门大学,根本没有想到有朝一日,厦大还可能回流,回到东南亚开分校。可惜的是,厦大不是倒回到新加坡,为新加坡培育英才,而却为邻国栽培人才。世界上的事,真的很难料,谁会想到中国的大学,竟然能够跨出国门,到世界各地开分校。

除了厦大外,据了解台湾的大学也有意到马来西亚开分校,而马来西亚也有意让这些中,台大学到大马去开分校。想不到马来西亚还有这样的市场 - 用中文华语授课的教育市场。而马来西亚,对这个敏感的语文课题,也愿意开绿灯,不再限制。

我们除了欢迎,祝福厦大,到马来西亚开分校外,还能说上什么呢?或许,马英九也可以考虑继北美后,到马来西亚开办台湾学院,让民主和文化相结合,在东南亚发出光辉。

厦大到马来西亚开分校,在意义上,可能更胜于孔子学院在新马的设立,毕竟厦大在某种意义上,和新马有着历史的联系,更能触动人心。更令人往事只能回味。

Saturday, 10 December 2011

High Ministerial Salaries: Wrong Assumptions For Wrong Pay?


{The art of making yourself rich, in the ordinary mercantile economic sense, is therefore equally and necessarily the art of keeping your neighbour poor.  ….. John Ruskin}


The reasons for paying very high salaries for Singapore ministers are based on various wrong assumptions.

They assume ministers are super human beings that can work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They assume these political holders are productive and efficient every seconds, no sick leave, no emotional problem, like machines operating without any maintenance.  Furthermore, they assume these people are as enterprise as entrepreneurs, risking and scarifying their carriers, family and friends.

The PAP government got the assumptions so wrong that they pay the wrong salaries to their ministers.  If you examine the reasons and assumptions, they are all wrong.  Why wrong?

Perhaps only a robot can justify for the assumptions of the working conditions described above.  Even that, a robot still needs some maintenance and definitely, a robot will not have the enterprise spirit of venturing out and risk powerless to function effectively and efficiently.

Hence, if you can’t fulfill these assumptions, it is better not to assume high salaries for the wrong reasons.  You have overpriced your intelligence, capability, productivity, judgments, body and mental condition, and most importantly your power base.     
  
This is like the corporate world.  The top corporate leaders are pricing themselves above the market rate, especially in the financial and property sectors.  They think that they are top talents in the world and so they demand top world class salaries. However, they create crisis after crisis, debts after debts, and so we see the results of ‘Occupy Movements’.   

To protect themselves and justify for their top salaries, these CEOs, CFOs, Chairmen and Presidents have to engage in many PR activities which are not productive in their works. 

To be fair, we have to differentiate business corporate managers and entrepreneurs.  There are justifications for entrepreneurs getting high rewards and compensation.  Entrepreneurs are taking risks and they may end up as a bankrupt.  This is why people are admiring entrepreneurs like Bill Gate and are not so against their richness. 

The government is paying high salaries to our ministers. They are only able to do it because they assume that they have the mandate from the people.  However, the mandate is not always in your favour, and it is subject to change.  Even there is a review in the ministerial salaries; it may still keep and continue with the wrong assumptions.  As a result, the old problem of high and wrong salaries is still there. 

Who know one day more and more will see the wrong assumption for the wrong pay. When more and more people disagree with the wrong assumptions of the PAP, more will like to see the change to take place. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

都是钱作怪,从电梯翻新,看政府如何面对过去的失策。



美其名的电梯翻新,到头来对少数人来说,仍然是一场欢喜一场空。这个少数可以少到四户人家共用一架电梯,俨然有如私人公寓,有着自己的私人电梯一样,难怪政府不舍得为这些少数家庭提供这么昂贵的服务,以免浪费公款。

表面看来,的确是如此。政府组屋的目的是居者有其屋,政府还说这些组屋是贴钱盖起来的,因此,电梯翻新不能浪费公款,为少数人服务,希望组屋屋主和他们的家庭成员,能够谅解。

组屋电梯没有在每层楼停留,方便住户上下组屋,是以前建屋时的设想不周到,或许是当年人口年轻,可以追上追下,不觉得辛苦,也或许是当年的经济条件没现在这么好,可以省一点就省一点嘛!还是,当时没有选举的压力,根本也不用理会组屋翻新这回事。

不论什么原因,总之就是有这个上下楼的不方便。对于在建国初期做出贡献的老一辈人,当年身强有力,爬多几层楼,不算什么大事。能为国家省下一些钱,作为建设基金,贡献不是更大吗? 国家因此不用借钱,没有外债的忧虑,这在今天还是具有重大的意义,这是伟大的牺牲。

不知何时何月,我们健忘的政府竟然忘了老一辈人的贡献。和这些做出贡献的国人斤斤计较,大谈特谈经济理论,讲起生意经来。电梯层层楼停留,这个费用可不轻,不只建造费用不划算,维修费更高。因此,既然,过去都做出牺牲,为何现在不将就一点,多上或多下一层楼呢?

原则的问题


这是原则性的问题。当年申请组屋时,大家都一样,没有少数还是多数人用电梯的问题,大家都用中间的共用电梯,有些人上一层,有些人下两层,只有幸运的少数能够不用跑上跑下。现在,这些多数中又分出一些少数,对不起,费用太高,不能让你如愿,电梯一步到家。当年申请组屋时,也没有明文规定,有没有电梯翻新这回事,有没有少数人没有机会享受电梯一步到家服务这么回事。

如果当年有说清楚,组屋的选择就不是这么一回事了。组屋的售价也不是这么一回事了。精打细算的新加坡人,会同意花一样的钱买一间到头来没有电梯到家的组屋吗?想不到一讲到钱,政府就跟你斤斤计较起来了,而忘了往事。

这些当年的失算,失策,考虑不周,也不用去计较谁对谁错。眼下是如何正确的处理,公平的对待这些少数人。如果只是为了钱,而伤了和气,少了几张选票,那可能不很划算,万一就差这几票,输了大选怎么办?

严肃的问题

严肃的看待这个问题是有必要的。这是政府对待少数人的态度,从这点延伸出来,也代表政府如何对待落势群体,不幸的人士。我们的公共服务,交通运输,学校,图书馆,各种公共设施,可以不为少数人着想吗?可以只拿金钱,经济作为提供服务的标准吗?

既然把政府组屋当成公屋来看待,这就要从公共利益来着想,即使这是有利于这些少数人。不能因为以前是公共利益,现在组屋卖給你,是私人利益,提供电梯服务給少数人也是私人利益。从整体来看,政府组屋就是涉及公共利益,不论是否只为少数人提供电梯翻新。

我们虽然贵为第一世界国家,在照顾少数人,在照顾落势群体和不幸人士方面,真的是需要加一把力,把自己推得高一点。当然,如果样样都要以经济第一,金钱衡量,很自然的当然的少数人的利益就要被牺牲了。

少数人的利益不受到重视,被忽略,是行动党一贯的做法。这是因为的政府太过重视经济利益,有时甚至把少数人的利益,当成是一种施舍,一种交换条件,一种威胁。从组屋翻新,电梯翻新,公共交通的安排,公共设施的使用,都可以看出来。

在社会利益的分配如此,在文化教育的重点分配也是如此,当然,政治利益的分配更不得不如此。在这样一个背景下,我们在看待作为少数人的在野党时,就更要了解为何他们处处受到限制,处处听不到,看不到他们的身影。

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Be Patient, Faster Broadband Connections = Better Learning At Schools?



Singapore schools can look forward for a new super fast broadband network.  But can we look beyond the speed?  Is this another example of ‘cheaper, faster and better’ in education?

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education (MOE) awarded a S$32.6 million contract to SingTel to outfit primary, secondary schools and junior colleges with the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).  (Today, 30 Nov 2011)

The report, as usual, is also followed up by various supporting comments from the schools and all those interviewed are happy to see the benefits of faster broadband connections. 

However, does it really mean students can have a better learning or quality learning at schools when there are less waiting times for their learning information and materials? What will happen to them if they can’t get the high speed they want? Will they find alternative solutions?  

Lack of patience 

Yes. Time is money. Faster speed will get you ahead of others. Does it mean students will lose their patience if the schools can’t fulfil their broadband demand?  Or, is it an excuse for catching with top schools?

Based on the concepts of ‘cheaper, faster and better’, there is a price to pay if our demands are not met. One big price is to file a complaint.  Speed is too slow, memory is not enough, study materials are not available.  Schools, under pressure from students, are also joining the queue to be impatient.   

Schools have to educate our students to be patient, to be understandable and in addition, teach students to find alternative solutions.  Schools are not computer schools but education centres.  Just heard from the BBC, the Spanish schools may have to ration their toilet papers, how will their schools react and teach students the meaning of austerity? 

Yes, be patient when waiting for taxi, even you pay more pay during peak hours, and you may end up even waiting longer time to get a taxi. Same things apply to MRT, bus, even the controversial mother-tongue learning and housing wait. Does the air-conditioning bus interchanges solve the waiting problem? Does the IT for mother-tongue learning solve student’s leaning problem?

There is always a demand-supply problem. There are always some things that technology cannot help to solve.

Deep in our hearts, to be happy we have to move away from the analogy of ‘cheaper, faster and better’. Further to faster broadband connections, schools need to teach students: How to cope with real life situation if there is no faster broadband connection? How to cope with situation outside schools, not all are rich enough to have faster broadband at home?  And be patient and consider the limitations, don’t expect all things are smooth even in a well run country like Singapore.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

老弱残兵雷声大 收拾失地雨点小 谁在为正义而战?


 
行动党自从在5月兵败阿裕尼后,沉静了6个月后,最近在党大会上,才再提要收拾失地。不过,看起来是雷声大,雨点小。自从工人党联军登陆行动党的“诺曼底”后,行动党除了前方吃紧外,连后方也出现问题。根本的问题是派不出一员猛将,说服勇敢和有智慧的志愿者,收复已经被敌方攻克的“诺曼底“.

“诺曼底“失守,真的这么重要吗?是的。不只”诺曼底“已经失守,连东部的德国坦克部队,也将在苏俄的攻击下,全部失守,形成两面受敌的局面。行动党的结局是否如此,这就要看选民如何定义下一届大选,是否是正义的选战?

现在突然跑出一个林文兴,说要领军收复失地。林文兴何许人也?行动党前主席,工会前秘书长,内阁前部长,今年大选,贵为党主席,却没有上阵,好像许子根,贵为党主席,已经宣布不参加下一届的马来西亚大选,可想而知,他已经知道自己的下场了。

林文兴很可能是行动党历届主席中,最没有势力和分量的人。那么,我们看看什么人曾经担任过行动党主席呢?杜进才,陈庆炎,甚至现在的许文远,不用多说,林文兴和他们一比,斤两有多重,一看就清楚了。这样的人,即不是武将,也不是文才,你说他能做些什么。

正如坊间传言的,行动党将会派老弱残兵来充充面子。前部长,前副总理,前国会议长,再加一个前部长和新兵,凑成5人,前往“诺曼底“应战。这样的架势,超级前部长团队,不能不说,阵容强大,雷声很大。明眼一看,就知道这是虚张声势。但是,我们实在不能怪行动党,过去几年,行动党根本没有培养出可以上战场的武将,甚至连出策献计的文才也没有。

因此,行动党现在说要听基层的话,不要空降候选人,要选有贡献的人,早一点推出候选人,早一点做准备等等。因为,正如在行动党大会上说的,下次大选,没有安全的选区,没有包吃得榴莲。行动党候选人要有求胜之心,各自守好本身的阵地,不要让俄美英联军攻陷。

怎么我们的常胜军,突然会变成哀兵上阵,害怕上战场,害怕真枪实弹了。原先的保护网,50年后,竟然越来越无效,不中用了。

谁在为正义而战?

春秋无义战,虽然在历史上,春秋没有正义的战争,但是,往往站在正义的一方,会有一些优势,人们也会同情具有正义感的一方。春秋五霸的出现,也显出他们是比较有正义感的。

事实上,杨荣文领军的行动党阿裕尼团队是一支很强的队伍,在正义感方面也比其他行动党组合好。即使吴作栋也认可,为何偏偏是他们这组人遇上工人党的联军。他虽然认为可惜,但是,也要承认和接受在正义面前,选民的最终选择。

阿裕尼选民为何要冒着没有提升机会,没有优先权,失去部长,组屋价值下跌的风险,而要选工人党呢?他们这么做,是不是把正义放在金钱之上,牺牲杨荣文的行动党团队,就是要让正义(或让更高的正义队伍得胜)得以伸张呢!注意,这不说其他选区的人没有把正义放在金钱之上,因为选民的最后选择还是要考虑候选人的素质,政党的背景,才觉得值不值得投下正义的一票。事实证明,也只有工人党的阿裕尼联军获得选民认可,可以完成伸张正义的任务。难怪,他们工人党在国会会提出魏征之说。

从全国范围看,陈庆炎在总统大选得票如此之低,不也在在说明,选民如何看待陈庆炎的正义感,他以鲜明的行动党背景参选,投他一票,不是等于投行动党以金钱为利益前提的一票。大多数的人认为在正义面前,陈庆炎可能做得不够,做得不完善,甚至不尽力维护正义。

新加坡独立以来,虽然走得都是经济之路,但是,大富大贵的人毕竟还是少数,经济的金字塔是不可能倒过来的 - 富人比穷人多,没有一个制度,不论资本主义还是中国的共产主义能够做到。因此,最后还是要看这个政党,有没有正义感,责任心,是否以民意为先。这就是得民心者得天下的基本道理吧!而民心就是正义的标准。

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Singapore working language is English? (Part 2) - 10-12% of Singapore population are Chinese immigrants.



In the past 20 years, nearly 600,000 Chinese immigrants arrive in Singapore.  This is bigger than the population of Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh put together.  Of course, it is also bigger than the population of Brunei.

A study report from China’s Xiamen University Nanyang Studies Institute also estimates that it is 10-12% of our total population. 
(学者研究称近二十年新加坡的中国新移民约60


The Dean of the Institute, Prof. Zhuang Guo Tu, in a forum in Shanghai pointed out that since 1990, after the establishment of Sino-Singapore diplomatic relationship; Chinese immigrants have arrived in Singapore in great number. From the 10-year period of 1990-2000, the number of Chinese immigrants is more than 230,000. From 2001 to 2009, the number is at least 300,000.   

According to Zhuang, there are 4 types of Chinese immigrants in Singapore: professionals and students, ordinary skill workers, investors and labourers.  In addition, there are also immigrants through marriage, illegal means and self-employed persons.  

If we based on the 2007 blue plan of Singapore’s population in 2030, the total population will reach 6.5 million.  To obtain this number, in views of the low birth rate and to maintain 75% Chinese population in Singapore, by 2030, Singapore will need to import 1.2 million Chinese race immigrants.
Of course, not all of them are from China. 

Zhuang also gave another figure: In the past 30 years, Singapore has a net immigrant number of 1.64 million. Most of them are Chinese from Malaysia and China. Perhaps, this explains why our population increases to more than 5 million.

The above figures show that we need to live with a large number of Chinese and other immigrants now and in future. And their working languages may not necessarily be in English.  For the next generation of Singaporeans, it is always beneficial to know another working language, in addition to the common English language.   Otherwise, you may have to restrict your movements, activities and selection of friends in Singapore.

It will also help to maintain better social and racial relationship by knowing another language.  The future of Singapore is quite different from now, especially very different from the 1980s. We need to face the reality of immigrants and their working languages. And in future, even there is a change of government; it will be hard to turn around the clock.  The most the new government can do is to slower down the process of immigration as what the PAP is doing it now (not sure?). 

The Shanghai forum also discloses that there are about 50 million overseas Chinese.  In the beginning of 20th century, there were 4 to 5 million overseas Chinese.  It increased to 12-13 million in the early 1950s and 90% of them were in Southeast Asia. By 2007-2008, there were 45.43 million overseas Chinese.  However, the percentage in Southeast Asia had gone down to about 73%. The bigger increases are in North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and South Korea etc.
(5000万:华侨华人总数首次得出较明确统计数字

Judging from the speed of increase, there will be more and more overseas Chinese.  Whether they are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and even Malaysia, their mother tongue is not English except Singapore

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

双语双文化,一个钱字推得动吗?政府单方面推得动吗?



双语双文化人才对新加坡的未来很重要,这点即使不是双语双文化的人也同意。但是,要培养这些人才,有钱未必推得动,政府单方面领导更无法推得动。

这需要一股傻劲,一股精神,因为,具有双语双文化未必就能‘风生水起,财源滚滚’。尤其是,双语双文化中的强势语言不是英语英文。

当年,否定南大人是双语双文化,不正是基于他们华文华语比英文英语强吗?不单如此,正因为懂得双语双文化,他们的薪金待遇还吃了亏。被认为是不入主流的毕业生。因此,懂得双语双文化,未必就吃得开。因此,在钱的现实下,我们现在只能做到英文英语比华文华语强的所谓双语双文化人了。

说实在的,这到底是不是双语双文化人呢?特选中学真能培养出双语双文化毕业生吗?

或许,我们连这样起码的要求都做不到。举个例子来说,我们的足球当年订的目标是要进世界杯,我们在足球的财力物力投资更是各种体育项目之冠,甚至还要出动部长坐镇,领导指导规划,勾画出一片美景,美梦。这么多年过去了,我们连亚洲都无法突破,更谈什么世界杯。

民间的体育运动,推广,是否一定要由政府来主导,部长来领导,才能达到预期的效果?

同样的,推广双语双文化,是否一定要由教育部来主导,政府来领导,才能成功?

我们的政治是否涉入太深,而使到好多政策,活动,都变得生硬,变得不灵活,而变得无法成功?

不知是政府不放心,还是,政府以外,我国就没有人才领导体育运动,语言语文的推动,文化的传承。行动党的不放心,样样事情都要插上一脚,反而是作为第一世界国家所最不应该做的。

新加坡人的教育程度,收入都是排世界的前面,基本上,我们已经能够解决基本的生活问题,现在是要向生活素质上提升,软实力的提升。这种背景,已经不是样样事情政府都要做主导,都能坐主导的时候了。大选,总统选举后,民间在政治上要有更大的参与,当然,在其他方面,语文,文化,体育,社会活动,也要也应该要有参与。

政府单方面主导一切的时代已经结束,一个所谓“新”的行动党应该应当要有勇气面对这种挑战。如果真的要搞好双语双文化,搞好足球等运动,放手让其他人来领导,效果可能更好。

继续由政府来领导,指导,在思维上还是换汤不换药,结果是成事不足,败事有余。我们还有多少时间再等下去,或许,政府也该换人做了吧。

Monday, 28 November 2011

Why is it so hard for the PAP to say ‘thank you’? …To the voters, CPF members and Singaporeans at large.



The Sunday convention of the People’s Action Party is about a new PAP, tougher fight in future and a word of thank to some PAP members.   Why can’t they extend the ‘thank’ to the voters, especially those 60% voted for them in GE2011.

Will the ‘new’ PAP begin to appreciate the contributions of Singaporeans and not only listen but say ‘thank you’ whenever necessary?  Yes, you will face tougher contests and as PM Lee put it there will be no more ‘safe” seats and the PAP has to fight to win.

It also proves that the magic of GRC and boundary reviews conducted before a general election will no longer be effective and it may even back fire the PAP. Further, PAP candidates have to be known in advance and fight their own war.   

In the great book of Red Chamber, there is a famous prediction about the future of the Jia family:

三春去后诸芳尽,各自需寻各自门。
After 3 generations, all the beauties will be gone.  Each has to find their journeys and destinations.

The protection of GRC and boundary reviews can no more protect the weak candidates. Even stronger candidates, like George Yeo, have to face the defect.  The passenger-candidates will be a burden to the PAP and the voters will not thank the PAP for putting a trainee MP in their constituencies.


Why is it so hard to say ‘thank you, CPF’ and “thank you, Singaporeans”?

We all know about the debt crisis in Europe, the high yield of Italian bonds, and even the difficulty of getting full subscription of German bonds. These countries have to compete in international market for their financial needs.

While in Singapore, the government can draw the money from Central Provident Fund and just issue bonds to CPF Board for their financial needs.  These monies can then re-direct to Temasek and GIC for investments.

Considering these 2 fund mangers as
2 countries, why is it so difficult for Italy and Germany to raise funds and it is so easy for Temasek and GIC to issue bonds?

Is the management of Temasek and GIC more intelligent and capable than the leaders of Italy and German?  No, it is because we have CPF and the hardworking Singaporeans.  Because of this solid backing, Temasek and GIC can then stand so high in the international financial market.

But why can’t they say a word of thank to CPF members and Singaporeans?  When they show off the wealth of Singaporeans to international bankers and financiers, do they know who are supporting them behind them?   

When the international financial magazines and newspapers credit the management of Temasek and GIC as influential persons in the financial market, do our fund managers know the backers behind them?  You are famous not because of your intelligence but the willingly and unwillingly support of the CPF members and Singaporeans.

Voters, CPF members and Singaporeans are the ones make you famous and well known internationally.  Of course, without hearing a word of appreciation, they can also entrust other persons to do it and make these people famous.  

New PAP, they are watching you