Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Between Baey and Tay, who has a better understanding of China?

  
We should look beyond the issue of Sun Xu and his insulting remarks about Singaporeans.  After 8 years of sponsored study at our top schools and university, we still cannot persuade him to say a friendly word on Singapore. And the important question is ‘do we have enough people who can understand China well enough to do business there?’

Let begin with this interesting question …

Who will you send to China for a job assignment if you have to decide between Baey and Tay?  For the patriotic point of view, you may send Tay who seems protecting the interest of Singapore and not Baey who seems to side with the Chinese and accept the “dog” culture.

(Please refer to the facebook postings of Baey Yam Keng and Tay Ping Hui on Sun Xu for more details.) 

In reality, Baey could be a better choice as he knows the background of the “dog” culture and there are different and many meanings behind a dog and the reference of the dog.  He is more flexible in the interpretation of the meaning of dog.  And doing business in China with one meaning and one definition of dog is dangerous. Baey is able to notice the difference between renren.com and facebook.com, weibo and twitter.

That means Sun Xu is still in the inner cycle of China – Chinese thinking.  Not many local youths in Singapore will use renren or weibo as their main social media activities.  

For future job postings to China, it is very likely we will send more Tay-type of people to China as we are not able to produce enough Baey-type of candidates.  Of course, the HR departments of Singapore companies will find it easier to handle Tay-type candidates due to the common understanding and thinking towards China and Chinese people. In addition, the reality is our education problem. We have no choice (or very limited choice) as our bilingual bi-culture education is too skewed towards English proficient teaching.
 
And the best answer could be …

There may be an alternative, especially for senior positions in China; the GLCs will send people like Sun Xu to China.  Like it or not, Sun will have a better understanding of China (as well as connections) than Baey or Tay-type of Singaporean graduates.  If Temasek, GIC or GLCs want to make money in China, it does not matter whether this guy is pro or against Singapore provided he makes the money for you.

This, perhaps, is the only justification that scholarships are awarded to Chinese and foreign students.  And whether they are loyal to Singapore or not is secondary, the most important contribution from them is to make more money for Singapore GLCs.  Is this a big hope or a big dream or a big gamble?  Perhaps, in future, foreign scholars can serve their bonds with foreign branches of our GLCs and not necessary only in Singapore.     

Chinese teaching in our schools

Let bring in a typical example. Parents, who have children in schools, will soon have to go schools for learning progress briefing. Especially for primary one student, the Chinese teachers will give the briefing in English and discuss your child Chinese learning difficulties in English. The environment is like you are in a foreign land that Chinese has no relationship with you at all.

Starting from primary one, the children and their parents will treat Chinese as a foreign language.  Strangely, in our schools, the Chinese teachers must have a better command of English for effective communications and teaching, and even for his or her own promotion. Sooner and later, Chinese teachers will also forget that they are teaching Chinese because they have to improve their English not Chinese for communication with parents, children and MOE.

The end result is we will not have Baey or Tay type of students.  Tay is still bilingual and has good command of Mandarin.  The future education products will not be able to match the quality of Tay, not to mention Baey or even Sun Xu.

MOE realises that we cannot produce enough bi-culture students and graduates. So, the easier solution is to Import, like importing foreign talents and foreign workers to solve our manpower requirements.  As a result, we offer scholarships to Chinese students (also to Malaysia Chinese students).  However, the case of Sun Xu proves that we may have to think very carefully about this option and solution.

What have our schools, polytechnics and universities taught foreign students like Sun Xu?  Graduating from our top schools is no guarantee that foreign students will develop the bonding with Singapore. Even they have problems or want to say sorry, they will go to their embassies. For the case of Sun Xu, he went to Chinese Embassy to seek help.

Why can’t he think of saying sorry or express regret through his schools or university? Is there any Singapore body or establishment to help him? Or he has not though of it at all.

OB Maker for foreign scholars?

Education Minister Heng Swee Kiat said he trusted NUS will handle the matter well.  But why can’t he say MOE is willing to help and will have more integration programs for foreign students so that they can understand Singapore better? It seems that he is ignoring the basic problem. 

Perhaps, MOE can consider an OB maker for foreign scholarship holders – the unique Singapore way of maintaining social harmony.

Friday, 24 February 2012

柔性警告网民 – 政治新常态下的委婉手段?


又见律师信了!总理部长发律师信警告网站负责人,要求道歉,收回言论,但是并没有要求金钱赔偿名誉损失。这个做法有别于对付有财有名声的国际报章杂志,动不动就要赔钱又道歉。也有别于对付反对党人的手法。难道这是政治新常态的一种对付网上舆论的新方法吗?

或许,从另一个角度看,还是没钱没地位的网民比较好。也或许,网上的言论,其影响力并没有国际大报章大杂志来得大,来得令人信服。因为,政府认为,也一直强调,我国主流媒体的公信力比网上的言论来得高,来得具有说服力。因此,对杀伤力较低的网上胡言乱语,法庭要怎么下判赔偿损失多少,也还没有先例。同时,还要考虑更高的政治代价,为反对的声音做免费宣传。因此,如果能够小事化无,发发律师信就可以解决问题,何乐而不为呢!

网上言论公信力不高?

即使公信力不高,223日我国华文第一大报还是要让TR Emeritus网站见光,让网上的淡马锡对上实体的淡马锡,头版头条针对TRE对何晶出任淡马锡总裁做出道歉一事,大加宣传。或许说,还是海峡时报比较理智,头版头条是我国第一个在职的议员,由于党籍被开除,而无法继续担任议员。一条是旧闻重炒,不想见光的新闻,另一条是当红的新闻,网上网下热炒中。再或许,这是华英文读者的不同待遇吧!不同的选民,就是要用不同的行销手段吧!那么,到底那一群读者比较喜欢看到柔性警告呢!

最好还是再见律师信,或者次一点,少见律师信。政治民主,政治成熟,网民理智,网民成熟,就能让律师们少赚一点钱,这该多好,可惜,我们在这一方面还不是世界第一,还要继续努力。说着说着,TRE又收到律师信了。看来需要先声明,为了爱护网站,网民发言,还是节制一点,不要变成爱你变成害你。

TRE向总理做出道歉,收回言论的真正原因,我们不知道。或许,正如该网站负责人说的,真的自知有错,深感歉意。既然道歉,就是理亏了。只是我们有些好奇,总理部长不是很忙吗,忙得连后港选区补选一事都没有时间细想,怎么有空处理个人的事情来了? 看来个人私事,比国事还来得重要,许文远不是说了吗,政治人物没有私事,因此,发律师信,即是私事也是公事。

业绩表现比委任状更令人信服

李世民当年发动玄武门之变,夺得政权,这件忤逆的事并没有阻挡他成为一代明君,而贞观之治的确留下历史美名。或许,有关淡马锡控股,新加坡政府投资公司的争论,要以业绩来下评论比较适合。如果能够公开业绩,报告透明,做得比世界上其他相同级别的投资控股公司来得好,那么,网民再怎么批评,也难以压倒漂亮的业绩表现。在这个以钱为第一标准的社会,网民就是害怕你赚钱比他人少,如果你赚钱多多,又拿来做公益事业,网民高声呼喊万岁都来不及了,还对你指手画脚做什么。

网民中当然有魏征,也有伪魏征,还有其他各类不同的人,总理部长心中的真假魏征又是怎么样的人,大家都不好拿捏,真是如何是好。或许,有如红楼梦中的说的:假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无。 

如何应对网上的言论和批评;政府,总理部长和行动党人都还没有拿捏的很准确,现在先试着给予律师信警告,再看结果如何。如果成功,那就不需要进一步行动,而更激烈的法律诉讼就可以避免。所以,这场戏还没有结束,正确的说,现在只是开始,新政治常态下的试点,好戏还在后头呢!

柔性警告的蛛丝马迹

215
尚穆根發律師信給新加坡知名論政部落客yawningbread作者區偉鵬,要求道歉。

218
傅海燕她在出席人民协会和新跃大学签署合作协议的仪式上,发表讲话时说,社会日益多元化,使得我国面对的挑战也越来越多。她说,多元化使我国能独特地融合了不同的文化和历史,但前提是社会要稳定。她指出,目前出现了一些干扰我国社会稳定的趋势。(xinmsm 18 Feb 2012)

傅海燕指出社交网站的发声已经超越了传统媒体所能做到的 。。。。有些人试着走极端同时又要被人听到。。。到了一个程度,会使大多数人觉得不舒服。
Ms Fu said social media has amplified voices beyond what was attainable in the traditional media. And in an arena that is noisy, some people have attempted to be more extreme and assertive to be heard, at times to an extent that's uncomfortable for the majority. channelnewsasia 18 Feb 2012


多数人不舒服?干扰我国社会稳定的趋势?是不是针对社交网站,网上言论?

219
总理发律师信给TRE要求道歉。

222
总理的弟弟李显扬向TRE发出律师信,要求道歉。


接着下来,是好戏连场呢,还是,不了了之。是柔性警告,还是硬性赔款,法院见面?预知后事,注意网上的新闻。

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

MOE, what is our investment risk level for foreign scholars?



There is no way we can guarantee all foreign scholars are pro-Singapore and will remain here after their graduation.  It is also not fair to blame the Ministry of Education for all inconsiderable acts of foreign scholars, morally or immorally.

The task of our MOE is to teach and score high in academic. So, not only foreign scholars, our own trained professionals like doctors, lawyers, bankers, and now even MPs; there is now way to guarantee the quality of the final products.   

Throughout the history of China, we have seen many good character and high moral scholars but at the same time, there were bad scholars in all Chinese dynasties – the question of more or less. Some of these highly talented scholars were the major contributor for the downfall of the dynasties.

Same analogy should apply to local scholars, again we cannot guarantee their character, their royalty to Singapore (or the PAP), their moral and personal behaviours.

Risk analysis of scholarships

So, awarding scholarship is a risky business.  There is a trade-off, just like we cannot guarantee all investments are risk free and will make profits for investors. And so, we would like to know MOE’s risk level towards foreign and local scholars. What is the acceptable failing rate? Are they having the same criteria for foreign and local scholars?

MOE is investing public money for the betterment of future Singapore.  So, for every 100 foreign scholarships, what is the acceptable level of bad investment – how many scholarships failed; how many leave Singapore.  We are less concern about how many first or second class honours that are warded to them.

Not the first, not the last, more to come

Sun Xu will not be the first and certainly not the last foreign scholars who will post bad comments about Singaporeans.  There is no way to stop them.  How much do we know about them? Some are rich, some are poor, some have family background, some are really smart and some are not.

Singapore is an immigrant country.  Without foreign talents, we will not be able to move up to a higher level, a stronger state.  But as we are promoting inclusiveness, will these foreign talents and scholars willing to be included in our family?

Smart talents are valuable assets and they are in fact many opportunities for them to move out of Singapore.  This is why Sun Xu proudly declares his achievements and knowing 3 languages.  (In a time that our students find hard to be bilingual). He knows about opportunities in China, USA and even Europe as Chinese scholars outside China have their own links and connections. This perhaps explains why they are more driving, hungry, and confidence than our students. 

Furthermore, some Chinese may even think Singapore is part of China. The expressions, the tones, and the behaviours are quite similar to what they are doing in China. They know Singapore politically is an independent country (the advantage of being independent) but when they see they are so many of their country’s men here, physically they will behave like a Chinese in China.

The risk of being a foreigner in own land

This is a risk Singapore has to face when we have a sizable population of newly arrived Chinese and Indians. Will we become more Singaporeans or more Chinese? Will we become more Singaporeans or more India? 

This is a question that MOE cannot solve and so we have social integration programs for foreigners, for new citizens.  We are spending to include them in our family called Singapore.  

When we are welcoming foreign talents, scholars, and workers, mentally we must also accept their value system and cultural differences.  There is no free lunch in this world!  We must prepare to pay the price of the consequences – their criticisms, their comments, their behaviours, and their advantage taking of Singapore etc.   

This is why we need to know the investment risk, the trade-off, the acceptable and comfortable level of having foreign talents, scholars and workers in Singapore.  Perhaps, the government is already preparing the annual report of profit and loss and balance sheet of there foreigners every year. But as usual it is not prepared to share the annual report with the citizens or may be the report is too frightening to be released.  

Monday, 20 February 2012

包容强国的预算,能给国人一个起码的文明吗?


新加坡今年的预算案即是包容也要强国,对老年人,对落势群体提供援助;也对大众的利益提供方便,在交通,在卫生保健方面给与支持。这些衣食住行的协助援助,压力减缓,不正是生活起居的基本要素吗? 是不是原本在大力推动经济发展时就应该做的事,却拖到现在才来进行,而这些援助,是否是足够照顾处于劣势的国人,这就言之过早了。

何谓起码的文明?在大前研一的《民族国家的终结:区域经济的兴起》一书中,有一章特别提到‘起码的文明’。大前研一认为,给全国人民提供起码的文明,或者落后地区的人民如果也要和城市地区的人民拥有一样的文明生活条件,并对政府施加压力,将会对整个国家的发展不利。这会拖累发达经济区域的发展,从而使到整个国家的发展也受到影响。

他举日本为例,真正对日本经济做出贡献的,尤其是税务,财政贡献的只有东京等三个大城市,其他小城市,县市,都必须依赖这三个大城市的援助。因此,当这些小城县市要求和大城市一样的水电,交通和基本设施等起码的文明时,所要付出的代价很高,如不必要的高铁,不必要的高速公路,医院,学校等等。当然,这些钱,费用开支,就要由大城市来负责了。基于日本的政治结构,小城县市是(当时)自民党的选票来源,因此,在政治考量上,不得不对小城县市的选民提供这些起码的文明,尤其是以经济利益计算时,提供起码的文明吗是很不合算,即使如此,是浪费和不必要的,也要进行, 因为要考虑到政权。自民党最终还是下野,不知是提供的起码的文明,不够好呢?还是无财力再提供起码的文明,或是,选民要求改变?

(没有日本,还有东京吗?)

(这是一种见仁见智的说法。尤其是从老庄看来,这牵涉到有与无的问题。东京之所以成功,有所作为,创造经济贡献,不正是因为日本其他地区的无用吗?如果没有日本乡下落后地区的无所作为,那又如何显现大城市的伟大和光辉。新加坡的小红点发亮发光,不正是东南亚其他地区的相对落后吗?)

所以,大前研一建议,国家应该让有条件的区域经济自主权,让它们自由发展,这些区域经济可以是跨国,包括两三个国家相互邻近的地区。如:新加坡,柔佛和廖内成长三角区。

大前研一是国际著名的策略专家,他对企业的忠告是把投资放在这些兴起的区域经济,因为,这些区域经济在投资,产业,资讯,个人消费方面,都能给企业带来回报。
     
此书在1995年出版,发行一时,不只是影响跨国企业的策略选择,也影响了一些国家的发展模式,并成为他们重点发展的方向。新加坡这个一向以商立国的区域经济小红点,当然不会忽略诸如此类的言论说法。

新加坡的发展吻合专家的意见

回想十几年来,新加坡的经济发展,不正是如此吗?还记得红眼症的说法吗?不要妒忌他人发财,有些人发富是应该的,我们不要也不应该眼红。(当然,这也包括所谓的高薪养廉)当政府要提高消费税时,它就说这有助减低个人所得税,并且消费税收到的钱可以拿来提供一些起码的文明。

在政治上,行动党要实行对国家有利的政策,即使不受人民欢迎,会影响选票也要实行。当然,通过选举机制和选举压力,确保行动党政权的稳定延续,最后成功的使到不受欢迎的政策得已成功进行。为了使到国人认为牺牲是值得的,因此,有必要搬出瑞士的生活美景,给予国人希望,现在回想,原来是个梦,还是一场已经知道结局的大戏。

(如果拿日本的大城市作为有钱有才的新加坡人,而拿日本乡下地区作为没钱没才的新加坡人,依大前研一的建议,我们只要照顾大城市有钱有才的人,而照顾乡下没钱没才的人,为他们提供起码的文明是不合算的。这像不像过去这几十年来新加坡的写照。只是,大前研一看出来,日本乡下地区的选民有谈判条件,自民党需要照顾他们,那新加坡没钱没才的选民不是太那个了吗?)

在新加坡提供起码的文明比在日本较划算

新加坡是个城市国家,没有日本的乡下地区,因此,要为国人提供起码的文明,并没有日本那样困难和经济上的不划算。基本的设施,除了水电,交通,住屋,医院,照顾老弱,应该都比日本来得容易和符合经济利益。但是,事情并非如此,反而变本加厉,一直到去年大选,选民才有机会发泄出来。但,也只是小发泄,因此,今年的预算案,也只能提供一些小援助。

再次说回‘有与无’的问题,如果没有弱势群体,没有下层人民,没有组屋,又怎能凸显强势群体,上层人士,和私人房屋的珍贵。没有低薪人士做出牺牲,忍受低收入,那么如何能够创造出巨大的利润来让高薪人士和企业享受。在这点上,我们就不难理解为何我国的贫富距离会这么的大。因为,处于下方的人,谈判条件太弱了。现在,他们才开始觉悟,才发现自己才是沉默的大多数,是有谈判条件的。因此,他们会注意将来每年的新预算,有没有公平的对待他们。

企业和国家还是有不一样的地方

企业和国家还是有差别的。企业可以不顾弱势人士,不顾本地人士,但是如果国家也像企业一样,一心一意追求最高的利润回报,当然,就会没有心思照顾底层的人士了。我们都知道苹果电脑公司现在是世界上最值钱的公司。但是为它生产手机产品的工人,却拿很低的薪水(虽然在中国已经是相对高了),因此,一大笔利润就落到了苹果公司手中了。为了这件事,苹果公司现在同意让国际非盈利团体调查为它生产产品的工厂,是否有亏待工人。

(当然,苹果公司不在美国创造就业机会,替他国创造工作机会,是符合大前研一的建议的。苹果可以不考虑这个问题,奥巴马可不能这么想)

对国人提供起码的文明是否做得到?在经济上,是否真的不合算,还会阻碍国家发展呢?我们在追求经济发展,世界第一的同时,是否做得过了火,导致贫富不均在过去几年继续扩大,而使到有些国人连起码的文明都没有。包容强国的预算案,如果没有提供起码文明的动力,那还能包容和强国吗?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

From “The End of The Nation State” to Inclusive Society and Stronger State


Just finished reading Ohmae’s “The End of The Nation State” (Chinese edition), I feel confusing, wondering and a bit of frightening so I ask myself is it relevant to Singapore and what have it got to do with Singapore Budget 2012?  

This popular and influencing book was first published in 1995 and it was to provide future trend for business strategies and advisories.   In 2012, when we look back and assess the predictions of the book, I have a mixed feeling – is business consultancy the right way for a state even though Singapore is the most business minded country in the world?

To a country likes Singapore, our leaders are strong believers of international consultants, what will be the outcome after believing and practising the suggested business and management advices?  Perhaps, these advices are more suitable to a business rather than a state, because up to today, we still see border and nation state – countries are still deeply involved in crisis solving like the euro debt crisis, US debt crisis, not to mention the political and military actions. 

Back to our budget 2012, the theme is “inclusive society and stronger nation”. Some describe it as a budget for the poor, a budget with a heart, helping list for senior citizens and disables, more assistances for medical care and housing, pro-Singaporeans and limiting the foreign workers etc.  These measures are quite different from the trend mentioned in “The End of The Nation State’, especially the civic minimum, inconvenient averages, the size of 5-20 million people.     

However, in the 1990s, we were getting (now still getting) advices from international consultants, from EDB, IE, LTA, MOE, to even small public services, you could see foreign consultants here, here and there.  This is not to mention the Singapore government, Temasek and GIC that even engaged more reputable consultants.       

When a country is so strongly believe in international business consultancy, it will also act and behave like an international business, of course also compensating top salary to people running and managing Singapore and Singapore Inc, GLCs etc.  Even they are not top rated and cannot compete in the borderless world as international business manages; they can still enjoy “The End of The Nation State’ world salary.  Just like a Chinese saying ‘同人不同命 - same human being different fate’, so blame yourself not a man in white. 

We cannot deny there are some right predictions and suggestions from Ohmae, especially for international businesses and MNCs.  The 4-I (Investment, Industry, Information and Individual consumers) are good advices and challenges that businesses have to face. To business, they may enjoy a borderless world. But to form successfully regional economy with different countries involved, like the growth triangle of Singapore, Johor and Batam, it is still a real challenge.  Comparatively, regional economy within a big country likes Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang; Beijing and Tianjin; or even Chongqing; all started later than our growth triangle have produced better result.       

As advised we run a country like running a business, so Singapore increases the population to more than 5 million, to avoid to be tied down by the civic minimum we begin to care less about the poor and under privileged, however, when Ohmae said average was not a good indicator to represent the whole country, but to justify our growth, we continue to stress the upward trend of average income.
  
Only recently, Singapore government has realised (?) policies and strategies that are good for borderless business, good for the end of the nation state, will affect its support level.  The PAP has to face the elections and paying ministers the compensation that is fit for borderless MNCs without supporting qualification and experience has become a burden.

So, the Budget 2012 makes a small U-turn, a belated turning but we will still have to watch the implementation and its result.  When the PAP believed and adopted strategies in ‘The End of The Nation State’ in the 1990s, they fully accepted the idea of no ‘civic minimum’, bigger population and concentrating on the competitive areas. But it had neglected and failed to provide assistances to the citizens - old, young and poor; infrastructure; and also mental preparations.  As a result, the following key budget initiatives which should be carried out longer ago; only appear now.  They are long over due.  If not for GE2011, you may not even see the helping measures for households in Budget 2012.

Measures for Households:

Rewarding Work for the Elderly
Helping Seniors Unlock Savings
Stronger Healthcare Support
Enhancing Affordability of Healthcare
Supporting Singaporeans With Disabilities
Uplifting Low Income Families
GST Voucher
Improving Bus Service Levels
 (For details, see http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2012/key_initiatives/index.html)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

无言的结局,竟然反”将”行动党,何时补选?



事实难料,刚说完工人党除了沉默外,没有其他选择,哪里知道,不鸣则已,一鸣惊人。饶欣龙的无言的结局,竟然换来被开除的命运,成了龙年我国政坛第一条消失的龙。

因为,工人党不能为了一个人,而牺牲整个党,牺牲在野党的利益,和在野势力在新加坡的成长。

后港区现在是没有议员了。目前,暂时由工人党来代管。到底代管到几时,就要由行动党来做决定了,总理, 您准备好了吗?几时面对后港选民,几时补选,几时是您的黄金时间,这粒球现在已经在您的脚下,如何踢,就看您怎么出招了。

工人党有错在先,现在已经做出道歉,到底后港选民愿意不愿意原谅工人党,不是总理,部长,或者是行动党说了算了,后港选民的选票才是一个指标。

工人党做出这个创新加坡历史的记录,让一位现任议员失去议员资格,不可不说是沉痛的决定,做出这样决定的党领袖,很可能比失去议员资格的人更加痛苦,伤心。如果去年阿裕尼集选区失败,再加上后港补选失败,工人党不是什么根据地都没有了吗?选民的信赖,不是一朝一夕就能建立起来的,而面对补选,不一定就能取得胜利。

这个决定可以说是一鸣惊人,想都想不到,行动党,其他在野党,政论人士,没有人会想到这个结果。这个结局,对工人党来说,换回来更高的道德准则,更高的透明度和公开性。当然,这样一来,行动党就被动多了。“将”到总理只能说国事繁忙,没有空处理。

到底几时补选? 可快,可慢,也可以是无,没有补选。这粒球现在就在行动党龙门前,就看行动党如何出招解围。现在离下次大选还有一段时间,不及时举行补选,对我国的民主制度是极为不利的。一般上,只有在害怕失去自己原有的选区,才会害怕补选,后港即是工人党拥有的旧选区,行动党根本没有失去任何选区,为何害怕补选呢?

因此,这反而显示出工人党的自信,有信心重新拿回后港单选区,直接面对后港选民的责问,批评和向选民认错。而行动党迟迟不做决定,反而让人觉得没有大将之风,一点失败都经受不起。更大的问题将是被看成是阻碍民主进程的绊脚石。时间拖得越长,对行动党更为不利。

最好的方法是速战速决,输赢对行动党的国会大多数,没有影响,反而更能专心治国,不用再理工人党内部的问题。不要为了短期的错误决定,而坏了行动党的长期利益。今天,人民对民主的要求,已经跟从前有很大的不同,行动党对补选一事,沉默是金,不加理睬,肯定不是最佳的选择。

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

It may all begin from the Maintenance of Parents Act……


Things cannot be happened overnight. Evolution needs time to progress and develop.  The recent event of not wanting elderly care facilities at neighborhood is the result of turning family relationship from bonding into contracting. 

Due to the negotiation elements and considerations in a contract, residents will have to judge the costs and benefits of having such a facility in their own area.  In this particular case, costs seem to be higher than the benefits.

From a family unit of children taking care of parents to a country level of government looking after its citizens, there is a relationship change from moral responsibility to contractual responsibility.  A contract will have to make up of a consideration, i.e. money, as explained below: 

“The Act provides for Singapore residents aged 60 years old and above, who are unable to subsist on their own, to claim maintenance from their children who are capable of supporting him but are not doing so. Parents can sue their children for maintenance, in the form of monthly allowances or a lump-sum payment.  The Act also establishes the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents to decide on applications made under the Act.”
(http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_1614_2009-11-30.html)

The Act has in fact established an automatic commercial contract between children and parents.  It has indirectly shifted the state responsibility of taking care of the citizens, especially senior citizens, to the children.  So, when comes to taking care of parents, eldercare, and senior citizens, thinking in commercial terms was the new normal after the introduction of the Act in the 1990s.   

From moral responsibility to contractual responsibility

Senior citizens, staying at the eldercare facilities, have no relationship with the residents, plus there is no commercial contract to look after them at the neighborhood, so to the residents there is no contractual obligation to fulfill the requirements under the Act.  Moreover, if adding such an eldercare facility will affect the economic benefits of the residents, they will have to voice out.  Not to forget, they have a contract to fulfill elsewhere as their parents are staying in other places.  They need to keep and maintain their assets value high so that in case of need, they can have money to maintain their parents.

When you make a moral responsibility into a contractual responsibility, people will begin to ask question: What are the returns? What are the considerations?

I am doing my part to fulfill the contract of parent maintenance, what can the government do in terms of lowering down medical and other costs?

I am paying you million dollars, how much is your contribution to me as a tax payer?

I am voting you to form the government, how much is the government going to help me?

GE due to economic issues

This may justify that the result of last General election is due to economic issues:

“The outcome of last year's Singapore General Election (GE) has been likened by some political commentators as an Arab Spring, noted Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam. However, he felt the results were due to economic issues, as well as specific local issues like housing and transport. Speaking at the Singapore Conference on the topic of "New Directions: Singapore Politics and Foreign Policy" on Wednesday, Mr Shanmugam said the GE results should be viewed in perspective. (Today, 10 Feb 12)

GE 2011 is not an Arab Spring, but the economic issues and rich-poor gap have certainly led to many unhappiness. And after the GE, Singaporeans are now more aware of their rights and their collective power.  Objections to eldercare facilities, objection to compensation of moving out in Rochor, and saving Bukit Borwn cemetery etc. are social movements that will affect future elections.

If the unhappiness continues, the economic issues will become social issues and then political issues. It seems that the PAP is finding it difficult to address the trend.  It is all because there is a broken promise: you want the children to maintain their parents, but you don’t want to look after your citizens, or you only look after selected group of people.  Singaporeans will ask: is this fair?

You passed a law to demand children taking care of parents and at the same time, you promised them a living standard like Switzerland in the 1990s.  Now you break your promise, but the children cannot break the contract.   

Singaporeans may not want to have an Arab Spring but certainly they are more daring to voice out.  As we have noticed that even foreign workers have started to go on strikes if unfair and unjust treatments hit them.  

Sunday, 12 February 2012

除了沉默是金,工人党还有更好的选择吗?


沉默是金也是策略?是的。沉默是金,忍辱偷生,谨慎小心,务实低调不回应是工人党这几十年来的政党策略,求生的本能。这个优点在新政治常态下,竟然成了被批评的对象。到底是谁变了,还是有所意图?针对饶欣龙问题的处理,工人党事实上并没有偏离这个基本路线。

这样一来,工人党不就成了行动党的翻版了吗?不公开,不透明,不解释。这里有必要说明一下。行动党是好事大事宣扬,坏事尽量隐瞒,不公开。工人党是好事坏事都喜欢不出声。举一个例子,工人党取得阿裕尼管理权后,并没有在户内户外的告示牌上,大事宣扬议员的政绩。这和行动党议员很不一样。以前,这些告示牌,随时都可以看到行动党议员的个人玉照或者是集体照。

这虽然不能拿来和这次的问题来做比较,但是,这就是工人党的作风。或许,住在阿裕尼,后港以外的居民,并没有看到这个改变。从有事没事都大事宣扬,到时时警惕小心,务实的为民服务。


没有议员个人照,集体照,工人党一路走来,行事低调。


政治的黑暗面

我们必须承认一个事实,政治有其黑暗面,政党要生存,就有必要玩政治,搞政治,党的生存发展才是硬道理。退一步,忍一时,或许是海阔天空的开始。而工人党的一贯做法和它的黑暗面就是不出声。一个平时不出声的小孩,你要逼他出声,很可能会错的更多。

有人问工人党怎么沦落到和行动党一样,不透明,不公开,不声明,什么话也不说,好像当选民没有到一样,我行我素,不理人民有知情权的权利。

或许,我们从另一个角度来看这个问题,如果你是工人党,你会怎么做。为了生存,为了继续发展,为了壮大,工人党的最佳选择是什么?工人党在处理饶欣龙的问题上,有什么策略性的思考?

工人党在刘程强成为议员,以及之后成为工人党秘书长之后,一路走来,都是有些神秘色彩和忍辱偷生的处事方法。还记得吗?去年大选前,记者一直要打听刘程强会不会出走后港?会到那里去竞选?甚至对阿裕尼集选区的未来方向是什么,都没有说清楚。这些问题都没有答案。因此,工人党只是延续这套做法,此时无声胜有声。

如果我们追溯到2006 年的大选,工人党有一批优秀的候选人出走,虽然表面上是说言论受到党的限制,个人无法畅所欲言,所以退出工人党。但是,工人党,甚至这些党员,这些候选人都没有进一步再解释清楚整件事情的来龙去脉,但是,这并没有严重影响工人党的2011年的竞选策略,不止如此,并取得突破性的进展。当然,新的政治常态,可能不允许工人党这么做,因此,一动不如一静。

何时大胆出声?

那么,工人党什么时候才会有大改变,敢大声说话呢?这应该是工人党取得政权之后,做了政府之后,位子稳了以后,才会有信心的面对人民的质询。勾践复国的故事就是一个例子。现在只是一个开始,我们有必要逼迫一个小孩,撕破喉咙吗?

至于在道义,道德,透明度,公开度上是否犯上了大错,这就见仁见智了。工人党要向前进,饶欣龙的个人前途已经不重要了,尤其是,他已经离开领导层,党的未来决策将与他无关。工人党可以不要饶欣龙,但是,新加坡选民可以选择不要工人党吗?工人党在思考这个问题,选民也要思考这个问题,工人党的选择是沉默是金,像以往一样忍受压力,度过难关。选民是否认为这是一个不可原谅的大错,而在下次大选全盘否定工人党,如果是的话,工人党的沉默和忍受策略将是政治新常态的错误选择。

一个倒下的工人党,对在野势力,对新加坡是否更好?或许,我们要说不可以把小孩给宠坏,不可以过于宠爱工人党,要严加管教,才会教得更好。

再想一下,如果,饶欣龙的私德问题是一个可以取分的政治机会,行动党,甚至其他在野党,为何不借这个机会,赢取政治资本。新加坡几乎所有政党都没有对这件事发表看法,这是不是有些奇怪?因为,每个政党都知道,大家都有犯错的机会,或许,大家都知道这个政治
游戏的玩法,因此,都不出声。

对于工人党来说,如果要继续的壮大下去,将来面对的问题,危机会更加的多,至于是不是每个问题,每个危机都是沉默是金的处理,解决,那就很难说了。



Friday, 10 February 2012

Drive and confidence cannot get Singapore to the top, then what?



Daoism may be, but less the god praying type. The philosophical Daoism that can think out of the box, turn useless to usefulness and build something from nothing.
 
You can be full of drive and confidence, but there is no guarantee you will succeed and get to top of the world.  Why? It is because of the X factor – imagination, dream, innovation and creativity.

So far, most of Singapore successes are associated with organisation efficiency and effectiveness.  It means we are well organised, disciplined, productive and orderly, like the airport, seaport, even the public transport system. We manage to do it by what we call Asian way or Confucianism influence plus the Western scientific management.   

However, organisation, hardware and measurable are easy to improve and other countries can learn and overtake you.  This is why many Asian newly industrial countries are able to catch up with the West and even doing better than the West. 

But to achieve higher growth (especially quality growth), or to be different from others, you need intelligence – thinking out of the box in a non-traditional way.  That is why you need philosophical Daoism to upgrade the thinking level – higher level of drive, confidence, innovation and creativity.

The PAP government should not only worry and complain about the lack of drive and confidence of Singapore students.  Innovation and creativity are even more critical that the government finds no way to solve it at the moment.  SUTD, some may suggest but who know, especially under OB maker, press control and lack of freedom of information?

When other students are as hardworking as us, or even more hardworking than us, it means our Confucianism value is diluting or disappearing.  This is especially true when we are moving away from our Asian roots and become more international, we certainly will lose the Confucianism influence (of course, the decline of Chinese language and culture standard makes the situation worst). 

When we become richer, we will want to enjoy and use more brain and less hand.  Unless our brain is creative and innovative enough to make up the loss of (hand) productivity, otherwise the country’s competitiveness will decline.

Strange! The government still emphasizes labour productivity improvement and not the brain productivity of ideas, innovations and dreams.  Think! One dream project like the past success of Nokia or even Skype can create many quality jobs and pay for Singaporeans.  Perhaps, the government is too afraid to have such an alternative minds and dreams!  

In future competition, Singapore risks not only losing in drive and confidence but also in spirit and dream.

Confucianism and Daoism in a simple way

To make the discussion simple, you can just say Confucianism is government or governance that provides the basic structure and rules of operation. And Daoism is intelligence, spirit and philosophical thinking, not practical at all and if you are hungry, it cannot fill your stomach.  Since Singapore is so rich, and our economy needs quality growth, as PM Lee said our poor was better than poor in other places, so dream thinking is necessary for quality growth.       

However, the sad thing about Singapore is we have lost our Confucianism value (so do Malay and Indian traditional values), and on the other hand we are unable to upgrade our mind spiritually and philosophically.

The result will be…

On one hand, Singapore Chinese are losing the Confucianism value and on the other hand, they have no knowledge of Daoism.  What we see and know about Daoism is Chinese temples, praying, and even superstition.

No wonder when we are doing business in China, we catch no ball.  We don’t know what they are thinking about even though we understand Mandarin.

Applicable Daoism

Why Daoism is important?  It makes you think of the impossible, the spirit height, the uselessness, and the emptiness and of course you have to accept less discipline, less organised, less rational and less productive (especially in the beginning stage).

In the current stage of world development, the Westerners are the good users of Daoism (or similar Western philosophy). Look at Apple, Facebook, Skype, Google and even Microsoft, Dell, green energy, all these begin like stupid projects or had less successful elements.  

Look further at the structured financial products, unit trusts, funds, all these are sitting on some physical assets but they are nothing if you remove the real assets.  This is why the investment bankers are making more money than traditional bankers! Investment banking is innovative, creative and traditional banking is governance and works within the framework.

Daoism makes and creates something out of nothing.  They make possible some unthinkable ideas and transform unnecessary to become necessary.  

China now and future

Since 1979 until now, Confucianism value is the driving force of China economy.  Even the big project items, like high speed train, mega infrastructure projects, are still the continuation of Confucianism practice.  They have yet to exercise their Daoism ideas in uplifting the country.  They mention about soft power, they spread the Confucius institutes, they talk about peaceful growth, do we really know the meaning? It is an ever evolving change and we are unable to give a definitive answer to the development.  

No matter China’s future is a socialist, communist or free market economy, the future of China will have input from Confucianism and Daoism, perhaps plus the influence of Buddhism, Christianity and Islamism.


Quite sad, isn’t it? 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

成功的结果,竟然是后续无人的困境


新加坡的人均国民收入是世界上最高的国家之一,我们的穷人比美国穷人还来得幸福,为何这么成功,还会遇到没有后人分享财富的结局。怪只怪,国人生产力不高,不生小孩,如何分享这份荣耀,这座金山。

想来也奇怪,华人的传统思想,就是要子孙满堂,同时,把家产留给后人,让他们享受享受一下祖先的荣耀和财产。为何,我们的结局,会是这么奇怪,有钱留给后代,竟然出现不想生,不要生的局面。到底,是哪一个环节发生错误,我们的困境竟然是不孝有三,无后为大???

儿子炫耀,老子务实

儿子在世人面前夸耀,在新加坡做穷人,比在美国做穷人来得好。美国政府在照顾穷人方面不如新加坡政府。但是,为何美国的出生率却比我们来得高。美国穷人生活不好,为何还要生育,我们的穷人,生活的比他们好,为何不生。还是,老子比较务实,在国人面前,不谈生活好坏,不和美国相比,只谈多生育,新加坡的财富才能延续下去,甚至国人不生,政府就只好进口人口了。

《建国总理李光耀昨晚在丹戎巴葛集选区和拉丁马士单选区的新春团拜联欢宴会上讲话时指出,如何促进人口增长是新加坡面对的最大挑战。在人们眼中生儿育女是私事,但对社会整体而言却是关乎国家兴衰的大事李光耀说:我国生育率逐年下降已经成为一种趋势,我们只有靠引进新移民,才能弥补人口的不足,维持人口的水平。》(早报)

我梦财产,财产梦我?

新加坡到底有多富有?如果只谈数目字,当然是可歌可泣。但是,这个平均数,却是因人而异,不同的人有着不同的梦。到底是梦见蝴蝶,还是蝴蝶梦见人,家家有本梦经,平均数对穷人来说,很可能是个天方夜谭。富人做着发财梦,穷人却被发财梦见。

有些人是梦见好多好多的财产,银行的存款一大堆,房产一大堆,股票一大堆。但是,相反的,有些人却被一大堆财产梦见,对着他们笑,看得到,用不到,梦醒了还是空空如也。

为什么有些人是梦见财产,有些人是被财产梦见,梦到财产,就真的拥有财产吗?被财产梦见的,就真的无缘再梦见财产了吗?或许,这些都是假象,不管谁梦见谁,一个没有后人的国家,即使到处都有金山,那还不是外人的财产吗?除非,你有天下为公的心态,这些财产不是留给自己的后人,就是留给外人,这一辈子,做牛做马,只顾耕耘,不问所获。

不能没有私人财产的原动力

在资本主义,自由经济的运作下,没有一点私心是不可能成功发展的。个人拥有财产,依靠本身的努力,积累财富,创造财富,原本就是发展的硬道理。不给自己人留一点财产,尤其是华人,更是不可思议的事。如果财产是要被外人享受,那么这一生很可能就不需要这么努力了。

如果自己不生,在新加坡留下一大堆财产,在引进外人的情形下,这些财产,不是肥水流到外人的田里去了吗?你愿意吗?因此,要给自己的后人留下财产,最好生多几个孩子。但是,如果你是穷人,没有财产,那真的是很为难的事。既然后人没有财产分享,多生反而分的更少,变得更穷,那就不如不生,反正,生时是空,归时也是空的,不亏不欠,来去自如。

生孩子的事,看来跟穷人无关,那就跟富人有关了。原来我们谈了这么多的孩子的故事,就是为了维护社会上层的延续问题。穷人不生,就找外人来代替,反正,国外的穷人很多,想要来新加坡这座金山找金子的人多的是。

社会底层不好,整个国家也不好

下层人民不生孩子,当然不是问题的全部。富人,高级知识分子也一样不要生小孩。但是,下层人民,毕竟是大多数,是金字塔的基层,是主流推动经济发展的力量。金字塔的上层,是不可能成为支撑全国的力量。因此,下层不好,人数不够多,就组不成基层,就会没有力量建设国家。当然,另外的一个选项,就是进口人口。但是,这个外来的力量,是否将能巩固基层,推动国家前进,这将是个未知数。

世界上引进外来人口的地区,也不只是新加坡,纽约,伦敦,也是文化上很精彩,世界各地的人种都有,但是,这些外来人口,在人数上,不可能组成社会的基层,占总人口的接近一半。新加坡如果再继续发展下去,是很可能超过50%,这到底是个什么概念?

这样的经济成功,算不算成功?这样的在国际上高高在上的人均所得,是不是新加坡社会可以承受的。我们要怎样才能让穷人敢生孩子,创造财富的时候,是否也应该考虑穷人的后代,也应该分配到国家留下的财富,而不是外人一来,就有得分。如果,外人有资格分国家的财产,本国穷人却无缘分享,那么,生孩子来做什么?

当然,也有一些富人,高教育人士,不要结婚,不要有孩子。他们要享受人生,他们甚至可以轻易的把财产转移到国外去,不留给国人。这是他们的自由,他们的选择。但是,留在新加坡的人,就要为新加坡的将来想想,为何我们不多想办法,让平均所得平均一点,不再是不生孩子的借口。

行动党一遇到问题,就找最容易的办法,引进外来人口,而不是进一步协助国人解决问题,它还说这是国家兴衰的大事。如果,你是一无所有,国家的兴衰,就跟你没有关系了。只有有财产的人,才会要保值,才会要延续,做得更好。但是,有财产的人,如果只想自己增加财产,不帮他人增加财富,最后,国穷了,财产也不值钱了,大家回归到一个低的平均值,吃大亏的很可能就是行动党政府和跟它一起发财的富人。

还是回归问题的原点,拉下层的落势人士一把,拉近贫富的距离,救他人就是救自己。行动党是靠着基层起家,江山财富的延续,也要靠下一代的基层来完成,借他人之手,不就成了他人的江山和财富了吗?