Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Show of People Power in Singapore

A Show of People Power in Singapore

The recent Tampines DBSS project, Centrale 8, is a good example of the showing of people power in our economy, in particular the housing price.

We all know that when the demand is greater than the supply, the price will go up.  However, in the case of Centrale 8, it is the reverse. Even the demand is greater than the supply, the price goes down.

Tampines DBSS project two times oversubscribed
The controversial expensive Design, Build, and Sell Scheme project at Tampines, Centrale 8, has been two times oversubscribed.
1,431 applications were received for the 708-unit project by the deadline on Tuesday.
(asiaone.com)

But Sim Lian Group, the developer, was forced to lower their indicative selling prices. The company can make more money in an extra of multi-million dollars but chooses to drop their prices by more than 10%.

Tampines DBSS: prices of up to $778k
SIM Lian Group yesterday said that flats at its Centrale 8 public housing project in Tampines will sell for up to $778,000 - lower than the previous indicative top price of $880,000.
(The Business Times)

The developer gave the following reason for lowering the prices:

Sim Lian said that the prices take into account resale prices of HDB flats in the same vicinity (taking into account the age and location); prevailing economic conditions; and the project's proximity to transport network, good public facilities and other amenities.
(The Business Times)


However, when Sim Lian first lunched the project with a top price of $880,000, the company gave the similar reason:   

Kuik Sing Beng, Executive Director at Sim Lian Group, said: "Five years ago, there was no announcement of the new Downtown Line interchange, as well as the new lifestyle hub. Comparatively, they can still afford a condominium in the suburban area, but this is very well-located, with all the new amenities. So I think the prices are reasonable."

(CNA)

The prices are reasonable for both before and after the launch.
There is no financial crisis, no property crash, and no external and unforeseen circumstances; even the pricing reason remains unchanged, so within a short period of one week, the indicative selling prices were forced to reduce.

Why? If I were the shareholder of Sim Lian, I will ask why.  The less income of extra multi-million dollars will result to lower dividend payout in the next AGM.

The answer is most likely to be: People Power.

DBSS prices slashed after uproar

After much public outrage, property developer Sim Lian Group last night announced that they are lowering the prices of its Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats at Centrale 8 in Tampines by up to $102,000.

(The Straits Times)

To be fair to the developer, the $880,000 is just an indicative price.

"It is regrettable that during the application period, the media and members of the public did not take note of our repeated public emphasis that the price range which we had announced was only an indicative price range, and would not be the final sale prices for the respective types of flat units."

(Sim Lian Group statement)

If this is true, Sim Lian marketing and PR departments must be doing some things unusual and made the company looked stupid.   Or, are there any reasons which the company cannot disclose? After all, the piece of land for Centrale 8, is in fact still a HDB land.

Is the government helping you? No.

Singapore's Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan has clarified that the S$880,000 five-room flats in Tampines belonged to a different class of housing options.

In his latest blog entry, Mr Khaw said that the "negative reaction from the ground was not surprising", but he added that DBSS flats are of a different class of housing type between HDB flats and executive condominiums and private condominiums.

He explained that DBSS flats are designed and priced by private developers. If there are no buyers, there will be no sales.

If there are no buyers, there will be no sales. However, for Centrale 8, it has been two times oversubscribed.

If this is a private and commercial decision, why should Sim Lian lower their prices?  Perhaps, the company is doing a social good by providing a slightly ‘affordable housing’ in Singapore.

Who give them the pressure? Who make them change their indicative pricing?  If not the government, then it must be from the people.

Monday, 27 June 2011

全民总统之人文关怀

全民总统之人文关怀

民选总统选举即将到来,有意竞选的可能候选人,都打出自己是最能真正凝聚和团结国人,带领人民迈步向前的最佳人选,同时,自己本身最最能做个全民总统。
由于不是权力中心,不是第二政治中心,同时又要超越党派,因此,民选总统是可以,也应该扮演好全民总统的角色。可能的候选人之一的陈清木就一直强调,看过5月的大选,出席了反对党的群众大会,他很担心新加坡社会出现分裂。因此,他想通过参加总统选举,凝聚国人,团结国人,不让新加坡的分裂加深。

另一个可能的候选人,陈亮也表示同意,赞成并支持这项做法,看法。最后一位宣布有意参选的人,陈庆炎更是获得总理的支持。曾与陈庆炎共事超过25年的李显龙总理十分肯定,如果陈庆炎当选总统,他必将成为一位能团结全民并为国家增光的国家元首。

是否是一个强势的总统候选人就可以扮演好这个角色?不一定。即使不是民选总统的黄金辉,当上总统后,身体力行扮演好总统的角色,渐渐的被国人接受,越来越受爱戴,最后,还被称为全民的总统。

人文关怀的素质素养

是什么因素使到一个普通人成为人人爱戴的全民总统?一个重要的因素是这个人要接近人民,要有人文关怀的素质和素养。
这里,我们回味一下纳丹总统说的一句话: 
‘We just can’t distance ourselves from the govt’.
他似乎是说我们要接近政府,我们不能远离政府。即是说,我们要亲近政府。要向政府靠近,听政府的话。一般人都害怕政府,如何亲近政府?害怕政府寄罚单;害怕政府请你喝咖啡;害怕政府要你交多些税;和害怕政府推出新条例不利自己的生意,生活起居等等。

 

总统要亲近人民,不是每年开放总统府几次就算了事了;不是参加出席几次慈善晚宴,就可以了。要像陈亮一样,把薪金拿出大部分做慈善,关心弱势群体。 要像陈清木一样,以医者的心关怀人民。


谁该靠近谁

纳丹总统的建议,是人民要主动接近政府,那么总统该靠近谁?是不是总统也要靠近政府?如果总统也要靠近政府,那么其独立性就令人怀疑了。到底是谁该靠近谁?政府靠近群众,还是群众接近政府,总统靠近群众,还是群众接近总统。令人迷惑,令人不得其解。

看来,纳丹总统的意思好像是说总统和人民都要靠近政府,听政府的话,团结起来,为新加坡的将来继续打拼。一点也没有错,新加坡人是应该凝聚起来,团结一致,共同为将来打拼。但是,一旦发生事故,谁将以旁观者清的态度来保护新加坡的国库储备?

理性思考 人文考量

陈庆炎是学数学物理的人,脑袋里是理性思考,从银行,内阁部长,再到新加坡政府投资公司,做的几乎都是数字工作。 由于出身和家庭背景,他看起来就像高高在上的人,虽然担任过议员,但是其基层工作,就不如陈清木。他也没有王鼎昌的工会经历,到底他了解多少民间的疾苦。因此,他也会和纳丹总统一样,民间如有疾苦,他会叫人民靠近政府,接近政府,而不是叫政府靠近人民,接近群从。

在这一方面,他也不像杨荣文。人文的素质不如杨荣文。杨荣文在脸书上说,他喜欢道可道,非常道,道德经,红楼梦,三国演义,孙子,还有沙士比亚的著作等等。他也不像王鼎昌,还记得他的那一曲月亮代表我的心吗?

数字是经济的,人文是群从的。

博士是比较适合做研究的,或许,陈庆炎更适合做新加坡政府投资公司的工作,研究投资的回报,决定投资的项目,判断投资项目的内部真正价值。正如美国华尔街有好多高管是印度的数学专才一样。

但是,总统作为一个凝聚团结国人的象征,就不能样样东西都拿数字,讲经济,算回报。就正因为行动党一路来都是以这套思维来治国,所以,选票一路下跌。而作为总统,如果陈庆炎也是和政府一样的思维,那么如何监督国库储备,如何纠正由于数字经济的误判所带来的人文伤害。

超越数字经济境界

当新加坡的贫富距离一直在扩大的时候,一个搞数字,重视经济回报的人,会不会伸出同情之手,鼓励人们,提醒政府,要以人民的利益为前提,要政府主动靠近人民,要政府接近群从,聆听民间的疾苦。

陈庆炎在数字上是很够资格看懂储备金,了解国库的来龙去脉,但是如果要做全民总统,就要超越这个境界,要以全体国人,全体新加坡公民的利益来看问题。现在就是害怕他太过喜欢数字,没有以人文的观点来看问题。

或许,让他先当上总统,然后再慢慢人文化他。这个数字风险,国人愿意承当吗?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

全民总统之旁观者清

全民总统之旁观者清


不管是总统选举还是国会选举,每次选举都是很重要的。国会选举结束后选出新政府,总统选举后选出新的民选总统 -- 一个负责第二把国库储备钥匙的人。是否是以前没有总统选举,才会看起来不重要,还是以前的总统候选人不够大块头,所以不重要?

何以这次总统选举特别重要?

‘我决定参选是因为我相信这一次的总统选举是项重要的选举’这是陈庆炎的原话。

这么重要的选举为何现在才提出它的重要性。陈庆炎在宣布参选总统的记者会上特别强调本届民选总统选举的重要性。难道以前没有天灾人祸吗?以前的选举不重要吗?现在由于陈庆炎出来竞选,所以才显得重要,还是,行动党在5月的大选得票下降才显得民选总统选举的重要性,以防下次大选政权易手,落入敌方。行动党真是有远见的政党,尽然已经进入先发制人的地步了。

谁又能预料将来会发生什么事?但是,玄机是为何其他两位想参选的候选人和现任总统没有想到的事,陈庆炎尽然能提出来。早报报道:尽管宪法规定总统没有行政权,然而决定参加总统选举的前副总理陈庆炎博士认为,宪法并非一成不变的法律。要是国会考虑了国人的意见后,同意这部具有最高法律地位的法典仍可能进行修订,还是能修订的。

修宪为啥?

还没当选,就已经提到修改宪法。或者考虑修改宪法。这不是一般候选人敢回答的问题。虽然,陈庆炎说这是国会的权力,国人的意见,但是,人人都知道,谁是国会里的大多数,修改宪法不是一件困难的事,只要执政党说可以,就可以了。5月大选时,选民如果知道是这么回事,很可能结果会出现变数,多选几个反对党议员,不让执政党轻易修改宪法以及其他的法令。

独立性和旁观者清

有意参选本次总统选举的人都一直强调本身的独立性,要和行动党切割,不跟行动党有关系。唯独现任总统例外。这是选民的期待,因此,民选总统就是要有一颗清醒的头脑,以旁观者的身份冷静的保护着国家的储备。

陈庆炎71日离开新加坡政府投资公司,如果幸运当选,91日上任民选总统,那不是自己查自己的(旧)账吗?他是否能像其他候选人一样,没有看过储备,没有管理过储备,而能以第三者的观点看国家的储备,更加客观地看清楚国家的储备。不要忘记,政府投资公司和淡马锡控股也有联合投资项目,或交换投资项目,间接性的也能了解那边的情形。

先小人后君子 符合国家利益 

有人会说,你这是以小人之心度君子之腹。以陈庆炎的德高望重,严肃态度,一定会公平对待国库里的钱。但是,有些事情就是要先小人后君子,因为,这是全体新加坡人民的钱,公积金的钱,国本的钱。正如纳丹总统说的选民要认真选择。他说,选民得自己根据每名候选人的理念作出判断。不过,他提醒选民有必要去了解到底什么才符合国家利益。

太过了解 太过投入

陈庆炎对整个国家的运作,国库的收支,行政管理,都太了解了。他对国家的激情,从他愿意挺身而出,为国服务看的出来。他说他不能坐视不理,因此,要出来竞选,而他自认能胜任。这点吴作栋也同意,更将陈庆炎形容为明显合适的候选人

在管理效益上,有好多大企业喜欢在企业外寻找接班人,担心的是内部提升的人入戏太深,太过了解,太过投入。 反而,无法做出变革,无法看清企业问题的症结,或是,在感情上无法做出大改变大决定来保护储备。我国好多大企业也是这么做,不然,那来那么多外来人才。甚至最近的部长大换班,也是希望能够以旁观者的立场来看问题,用不同的角度处理民怨。

太过了解反而误事,可能有人不能接受。应该是越了解越能有效解决问题,保护好国家的储备。这是见仁见智的问题。因为,王鼎昌出任总统前也曾经是副总理,也扮演好总统的角色。为何陈庆炎就不能呢?问题出在哪里。。。下文分解。

Friday, 24 June 2011

A Strong President for a Weak Government?



It looks like we are going towards this direction. With Dr. Tony Tan applying for the COE for presidency and the high chance of wining the Presidential election, it seems to indicate that a strong and knowledgeable man will be the next Singapore President in September.  

Strong President

Yes. He has the PM-material quality but turned down to be the PM.  Goh Chok Tong was the second choice, and Ong Teng Cheong – the first elected President ranked even further. Even the current President, S R Nathan, has said that Dr Tan has the qualities to lead the country.

Even those voters who want to vote against Dr. Tan will agree that he is the best qualified person in terms of talent, management and knowledge.  But does a strong candidate necessary mean a good candidate for President?

Weak Government

Since the GE in May, the PAP government wants to project an image of a listener.  It appears that the government wants to do away with the past high handled way of governing Singapore. They want to collect feedbacks and implement policies for the benefits of Singapore citizens.

Yin for Government and Yang for President

The government in this way is engaging ‘yin’ role and a high profile candidate like Dr. Tony Tan, perhaps also for the other 2 potential candidates, all need to play a different role than the present President and have to take on the ‘yang’ role. President Nathan had said few knew his contribution and his type of low key performance seems to suggest he is playing the role of ‘yin’.

So, with the GE2011 and the coming Presidential election, we will see the role change of the government and the presidency. They are exchanging role from the past.  This is good. The President (yang) champions for a unified force, a united Singapore and prevent social divide.  And the government (yin) accepts the criticisms and suggestions from the people.  In Yi Jing principle, this is good for the country as the ruler is humble and cares for the people. 

Difficult time, complex changes. Is there anything that we do not know?

In announcing his candidate for the President, Dr Tan seems to suggest the country is facing difficult time, complex changes, and needs to undertake tough decisions to reform institutions in coming years. That is why he believes the country needs "a president with experience and a steady hand" (likes him).

This is like the Chinese saying of ‘国难当头 匹夫有责’. When the country is facing great difficulty, a person must show his duty and responsibility to come forward.

Our GDP growth is good; the property market is stable; the stock market has not crashed; the tourist arrival reaches new high and the job creation also looks good.   But Dr. Tan foresees the challenges and danger.  Is there anything that we do not know? Can Dr. Tan enlightens us and gives some advices?

Constitutional changes for a stronger President

Zaobao reporter asked twice about this issue.  I don’t why. Dr. Tan replied that any changes will need to be debated in the Parliament as representatives of the voters and the Parliament has to consider what other power or suitable changes to be given to the President. Or, in Yi Jing language, what ‘yang’ role the Parliament and the government want the elected President to play?

However, at least, there is a hint that there may be some constitutional changes to the role of President.  Will it be more ‘yang’ role for the elected President due to a weak government that the new batch of ministers is less qualify than Dr. Tan’ era when he was a DPM.  

Stable President = Strong President?

Dr Tan said he could not remain a spectator while Singapore faces ‘complex changes’. ‘临危受命’ is another Chinese proverb that can describe the decision of Dr. Tan. It seems there are difficulties ahead, and the government needs guidance and advices from a ‘wise’ man.  Dr. Tan with his experience has to take on a higher role to provide direction for the government.

But due to the non-executive power of the President, Dr. Tan may not be able ‘to advise on some policies’ or to guide the government into the right direction. Hence, there may be a need to have some changes in the Constitution.

Dr. Tan has always projected a serious, stable, knowledgeable and intelligent man.  Therefore, he is more ‘yang’ than George Yeo whose image is ‘yin’. (See my previous posts on George).   And the role of next President is more suitable for a ‘yang’ candidate.

Independent candidate – is there a need to stress it?

If you have resigned from the PAP, and being a non-party related candidate, surely you are thinking differently from the previously associated party and even the government.

Is there a need to ‘画蛇添足’ drawing a snake with unnecessary legs? The other 2 potential candidates seem to be more independent and why they don’t stress it?  The more you talk about it, the more people will think about it.

A better Singapore

After so many years, we finally get to see a Presidential election, no walkover.  I think this is a positive sign for a better Singapore.



从处理炸弹事件看政府的公关和思维


炸弹风波,从最初的警方不受理,到武装部队将炸弹移走,再到警方认为是沟通出现问题,整个过程,好像演出一场戏剧.无论如何,戏中的导演还是政府,因为,政府是管理警方,武装部队,公共部门的最后负责人。作为主角的警方在危机处理,公关应对,思考思维上,在在都反映了政府以及行动党的思考模式。

姑且不论是不是沟通出现问题,在公关上,在人民的眼中,政府在处理这个问题上,不能不说让人怀疑其诚意。 因此,这起事件才会引起人民的误解。虽然警方一再强调任何涉及公众安全的事宜,警方都不会置之不理。但是,在公关和形象上,却使到政府在办事能力和危机处理上,让人不够放心。

行动党,政府,公共行政的思维

公务员的思维在一定程度上也是行动党的思维。一直在想,警方是基于什么原因,认为炸弹应该由私人来处理,而不是交由警方来处理。然后,又开记者会澄清说,无论是公共场所或私人土地,只要涉及公众安全,警方责无旁贷。为什么,不一开始就出来强调人命关天,警方一定会出来处理这件事的。现在,才来开记者会,似乎是有着‘事后孔明’的感觉。

虽然在记者会上,警方表示将会在内部将通过例常的行动检讨审查这起事件的作业过程,检讨将来如何更好地向业主及公众传达正确的信息。但是,经过炸弹风波后,政府和警方在形象上多多少少都会受到一定的伤害。

除了形象问题外,另一个需要探讨的是思维问题,政府通过警方和其他政府部门,执行政策,处理问题,解决问题,危机处理,他们是怎样考量这件事,是以怎样的思维来处理民间的问题。警方的反映,是否是基于以下的考虑:

经济功利的理由:
这是比较直接的原因,因为,行动党讲效率,讲金钱。检查炸弹要2000元,拆个炸弹要8000元,把炸弹搬走的最低费用是1万元。最新的估计是移除、销毁的工程大约需耗费15000元左右。基于这个原因,政府不想,警方不愿纳税人负担这笔费用。

事不关己的考量:
这件事发生在私人的地方,应该由私人来处理,警方只是负责公共地方的安全,就好像私人公司,工厂,购物中心等,有自己的保安,这些内部的事务,警方不加以理会。因此,警方强调的是这是私人的地方,他们不能插手管这件事。希望警方的 内部检讨也把这种事不关己的考量和思维也加入在检讨中。

个别警员的判断:
个别警员个别警队在分析这件事情上,做出决定,这件事是属于私人的责任,炸弹不在路上,不在巴士站,不在地铁站,不在飞机上,不在船上,因此,没有威胁到公丛的生命安全,所以要由私人来买单,负责清理这颗炸弹。警方内部的审查也要针对个别警员个别警队的判断能力加以检讨。

人命生命的价值:
比较严重的看法,警方把有可能发生在私人地段的炸弹炮炸看得比在公共场所的炸弹炮炸来得轻,人命在私人地带比较不重要,而且人数较少,因此,这两个地方的生命价值有所不同,人多,而又是公共场所,人命就比较值钱。

恐怖分子的利用:
最为可怕的是,这颗炸弹如果不幸落入恐怖分子手中,让他们有机会利用炸弹内部的弹粉,重新包装,加以利用,危害社会。根据报道,好像私人公司也可以处理这样的炸弹,如果这样,恐怖分子也可以通过一些手段得到这些弹粉。

炸弹风波的联想

炸弹风波引起联想,很可能不只上述几点原因和后果,还可以有其他的原因及结果。不论基于什么思维和考量,炸弹可不是一般的东西,这是一个可以导致人命伤亡的杀人工具,当警方在决定这件事应该是私人和公共利益时,有没有考虑到人命关天,以及其后果的严重性有多大吗?

这使我想起几天前发生在家里的一件事。厨房的屋顶由于楼上漏水,导致厨房的灯发黑,发出臭味,几乎烧起来。女佣看到不对,但是却没有及时关掉电源,还特意跑来急急忙忙说厨房有事。幸好,还来得及把电源关掉,才没有导致大火。

如果真的发生大火,要怪谁呢?难道要怪女佣吗?难道要怪楼上的住户吗?作为主人,我们有没有给女佣足够的培训呢?我们有教导她危机处理吗?事情的发生有好多原因,有个人的,有集体的,也可以通过培训来减少意外,也可以通过个人的高警觉性来避免意外发生。但是,做为导演的政府,在主导政府行政人员的思维上,公关上有着决定性的作用。行动党和政府可以通过这次的炸弹风波,从中吸取教训,改变为民服务的形象。

公布内部检讨的结果

警方现在说,会设立内部检讨,但是警方更应该向人民解释为何有这个想法,如何定义私人和公共利益,是否是不愿浪费公款来协助私人处理炸弹,还是个别警员或警队误判炸弹风波。因为,从这里,从警方的解释中,我们可以看出行动党的思维,政府的思维,以及他们是如何通过警方展现出来,他们的为民服务的精神。

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

一个结束 一个延续 另一股声音

A yet to complete journey
任务尚未完成,反对党和博客仍需努力

泰卦 否极泰来 决战2011 新加坡大选 另一股声音

<泰卦 否极泰来>2011年二月开始发放博文以来,到现在已经是第95篇了。这个专门为大选而开设的博客,已经存在了三个多月了。原本以为,新加坡大选会在5月前举行,那里知道竟然拖到57日。即是说,原本以为发表几十篇博文后,大选就结束了。

从第一篇《不要再有诸子百家的遗憾》开始,否极泰来就是希望通过博文,表达一些行动党以外的声音。因此,博文的全名称为泰卦 否极泰来 决战2011 新加坡大选 另一股声音

取名泰卦 否极泰来是希望反对党能够胜出,取得突破,在大选中有好的成绩。并且,促使新加坡出现两或多党制的可能。否极表示反对党的坏运已经到了尽头,而泰来则表示反对党的好运开始出现了。大选的结果也的确好像有这个味道。

在发表了一个月和十几篇博文后,开始发现反对党的否极泰来不可能在这次大选中,完全显现出来。因此,除了2011upandcoming.blogspot.com这个网址外,另外再开设多一个网址pijitailai.blogspot.com来延续否极泰来的精神。因为,2011 up and coming 只能是一个开始,要延续否极泰来,2011这个年是一定要过去的。因此,pijitailai这个网址会更加有意义,更能显现反对党开花结果的日子是在下来的一,两届或更后的大选,而不是今年的大选。

2011年的新加坡大选,真的只是一个开始,对反对党来说,似乎是革命尚未成功,同志仍需努力。如果只是停留在2011年美梦中,那么,不只好运的泰来不来,而坏运的否极可能就会降临。

或许,对有些反对党来说的确如此。2011年大选过后,对一些声望低,士气低的反对党来说,他们的命运很可能随着2011大选的过去而成为过去。这有点像台湾,经过20多年的民主洗礼后,小的政党已经被边缘化了。老牌民主国家,如英国,美国的现状,小党也难成气候。

否极泰来也有着同样的感概革命尚未成功,同志仍需努力,决战2011的新加坡大选已经结束。但是,另一股声音却要延续下去。博文需要一直发表下去,才能为新加坡反对党尽一点棉力。但是,真的有这么多好像大选时的评论,观点可以发表吗?

未来的路漫漫,离下次大选还有一段相当长的时间,谁也不能肯定另一把声音要以那种更加适合的角色出现。否极泰来只能顺其自然,依正道配合反对党的演出。

这篇短文就作为2011upandcoming.blogspot.com网址的最后一篇。谢谢读者的支持,请继续阅读pijitailai.blogsport.com.

A yet to complete journey

2011 Up and Coming is basically a Chinese blog created for the sole purpose of providing alternative views. However, it also posts some English articles, especially after GE2011.  

The Chinese name for ‘2011 Up and Coming’ in fact is Pijitailai which means
 
When misfortune reaches the limit, good fortune is at hand.  Out of the depth of misfortune comes bliss.

‘2011 Up and Coming’ in some ways reflects and provides a meaning that the Oppositions after more than 50 years of misfortune, 2011 is their turning point and good fortune will arrive.   GE2011 shows some indications but the impact is too small to have a 2-party or multi-party parliament in Singapore.

This is why after one month of the birth of ‘2011 Up and Coming’, a decision is made to create another blog ‘Piji Tailai’ to show the continuation of the up and coming spirit beyond 2011.

The real Piji Tailai will only come 1 or 2 or perhaps even more general elections.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  Piji Tailai will like to continue this yet to complete journey for the alternative views.

This will be the last posting in 2011 Up and Coming and Piji Tailai will continue the baton with a more balance posting in both Chinese and English.

Thank you.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Will PM Lee do a ‘Chiang Ching-kuo’ in Singapore?



After May 7 election, PM Lee made some changes that seem to be big changes in Singapore.  Some observers even said he had re-discovered himself and been fully in charge of the government by his own judgment (less the influence of Lee Kuan Yew).

It is too early to tell whether PM Lee’s commitment to change and listen to the people will go deeper and become a permanent change in Singapore politics.

However, comparing to Chiang Ching-kuo of Taiwan in the 1980s, PM Lee is still far behind. Firstly, Chiang initiated political change without the pressure from voters.  Secondly, the changes that Chiang made have far greater impact and meaning than the changes announced recently by PM Lee.

Key changes made by PM Lee

The followings are the key changes introduced by PM Lee:

* Announcing a younger cabinet without MM, SM and other not so popular ministers;
* Reviewing the ministerial pay and senior civil servants;
* Reducing the demand on foreign workers;
* Improving the public housing programme; and
* Improving the public transport system.

If you compare these changes to Chiang Ching-kuo, may I use the famous quote? It is just a peanut.  

Chiang lifted martial law and media control

Let see what Chiang Ching-kuo did in Taiwan then we can have a better understand of the meaning of change. He created a democratic system in which the people could choose their ruler. He lifted martial law and the ban on political parties and non-official media.

These changes or contribution to Taiwan democracy are both recognized by the Kuomintang and the Democratic Progressive Party.  This is something strange in Taiwan politics that these 2 parties rarely agree on one common agenda.

PM Lee never touches on the ISA, the media, a fairer political competition and system, even the role of elected President is confusing as many people are not clear about its function after more than 20 years.  The law minister and a former senior minister need to come out to clarify the appointment and function of the Elected President. 

PM Lee recently announced changes may result to future acknowledgement of the PAP and the oppositions but it is really a bit too far from any impacting or influencing change in Singapore politics. 

Political elites’ attitudes towards democracy

Ching-fen Hu is his paper “Taiwan’s Geopolitics and
Chiang Ching-Kuo’s Decision to Democratize Taiwan    pointed out that political leadership can change the democratic process. (http://www.stanford.edu/group/sjeaa/journal51/china2.pdf)

Hu said: Taiwan’s successful transition from authoritarian regime to democracy suggests that neither a Leninist party structure nor a Confucian cultural heritage is a bar to democratization. Taiwan’s experience also clearly illustrates that democracy can be achieved through political leadership, a mode of democratic transition that has been emphasized in recent scholarship by Samuel Huntington, Bruce Dickson, and Steven Hood, the lattermost of whom argues that democratic transitions are brought about by political elites who have changed their attitudes about democracy.

Political learning and democracy

In the paper, Hu also stressed the importance of political learning that I am not sure whether it is equal to the PAP’s stress of listening to the people.  

Hu said “this process has been described by Nancy Bermeo as “political learning,” meaning the process by which “authoritarians come to realize the benefits, or in some cases their only option for survival, is to move towards a democratic solution.”

The paper further explained “As the paramount leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), the decision to move forward with Taiwan’s democratization in 1986 ultimately belonged to Chiang Chingkuo (CCK). Although CCK initially supported the status quo, he eventually came to realize that a democratic solution would benefit the KMT, and that failure to liberalize the system could result in violent conflict.”

We will have to wait and see the changes in attitude of Singapore political elites and their political leaning about democracy from GE2011 and the coming Presidential election. 


Saturday, 18 June 2011

道与道 生财之道 自然之道

房产道与道 生财之道 自然之道

这一两天,有些忙。为他人而忙,陪朋友接收新房子,公寓的房子,新加坡人的5C之一,这也可以作为一个人生的指标性突破。在新加坡这个超过80%以上人口居住在政府组屋的国家,拥有私人公寓,也可以说是少数人士了。

华人爱房子,房子生财,投资成功,能够带来巨大的回报。一套房子在高文地铁旁边,另一套在第9邮区。 两,三年前定下的房子,现在出售,能够获利50%以上或更高,净利超过50万元或更多。如果要套现,马上就有客户,因为,你一面接手新房子,另一边房产经纪就在一旁,问你是否要出售,是否要出租。虽然,目前房地产市场有些平稳或淡些,但是购买力依然强劲。

这是正当的钱生钱。市场就是这样,两年前,如果买下几套房子,现在,不是几百万落入口袋,难怪有人买得起名贵跑车,吃喝玩乐,出国游玩自然不在话下。买不起,或错失良机的人,就只能望房兴叹了。

对很多年轻朋友来说,连购买建屋局组屋的新房子都感到吃力,看到这样的情形,很难不会出现心理不平衡。对收入中等的人来说,看着收入较高的人,能够这么容易赚钱,心理也自然会有股怨气,或者有着吃不到葡萄的感觉。

我们也不可否定,有些不幸的人,不论收入高或低,投资或投机的时间错误,造成了一辈子的创伤,饮恨房地的沙场。

有人是胜利者,但是,更多的人是挣扎者,或更坏的下场是失败者。社会的期待,家人的期待,朋友的眼光,个人的愿望,种种的压力对个人发展,工作表现,社会和谐,甚至国家进步都会产生巨大的影响。当然,在政治上,选民的选情意向更会直接反映出来。

不论行动党政府做出什么改变,总会有人欢喜有人不高兴。在个人方面,我们必须做好自身的准备,在心里上或许可以参考一下儒家道家的意见。活在当下,我们不可能样样事都顺心满意,但是,自我调整身心,过个自我的生活却是有所必要的。

君子爱财 取之有道

子曰:富与贵,是人之所欲也,不以其道得之,不处也;贫与贱,是人之所恶也,不以其道得之,不去也。孔子说:有钱有地位,这是人人都向往的,但如果不是用"仁道"的方式得来,君子是不接受的;贫穷低贱,这是人人都厌恶的, 但如果不是用仁道的方式摆脱,君子是不摆脱的。

我们今天说:君子爱财,取之有道。什么?合法之道。我们希望在房地产的投资上获利,成功。但是,要通过正当的途径,用正当的钱,量力而为。投资是肯定有风险的。

儒家的道是安身立命的基础,生活的原则。所以,无论是富贵还是贫贱,无论是仓促之间还是颠沛流离之时,都绝不能违背这个基础和原则。只是,这么一个高的道德标准,行为准则,好像不是人人都可以做到。无论如何,应该依循正道的心理来完成拥有房子的梦。

人法地, 地法天, 天法道, 道法自然

或者从道家的立场来看这个问题,随其自然,在适当的时候,做适当的事。当有钱时,就考虑一下投资,没有钱的时候,阿Q一点,让生活过得快乐一点,少一个投资,不也是少一个烦恼吗?

三国时代王弼对人法地, 地法天, 天法道, 道法自然这句话及字作了前后一贯的注解: “,谓法则也。人不违地, 乃得全安, 法地也。地不违天, 乃得全载, 法天也。天不违道, 乃得全覆, 法道也。道不违自然, 乃得其性, [法自然也]。法自然者, 在方而法方, 在圆而法圆, 于自然无所违也。自然者, 无称之言, 穷极之辞也。

每一个投资,每件事,都会有其一定的规律。如果,违背这个规律,没有钱却硬硬要和其他有钱人一样做同样的投资,没有机会,却要和有机会的人做一样的事,那是很痛苦的事,那是很不自然的事。其结果,是背天地而行,伤到自己,也伤到家人。

相同的要求也应该放在政府的身上。政府也应该循着自然之道,供应房子给人民,不能刻意为了利益,政治目的,而限制房子的供应量。

但是,正如老子说的,‘五色令人目盲,。。。令人心发狂‘。当我们看到其他的人发财,在房地产市场风生水起时,还能记得自己的有限力量吗?政府在看到房地场越来越好赚时,是否也考虑到人民的痛苦。

不管是儒家的道还是道家的道,我们都要顺着正当的道路,自然的道路,来面对这个花花绿绿的房地产世界,政府作为最大的房地产供应商,责任最大,要尽最大的力量稳定市场,不要令人心发狂,而是要让人循正道生财。

这是一个困难的工作,但是,政府的工作是要尽力帮助那些有心无力的购屋者。这需要超脱儒道两家的思维,因为家家有本难念的经。