Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Is Prism Project Another Central Planning of the PAP?



There are 3 scenarios under the Prism Project#1 of Institute of Public Policy.  However, it looks more like the central scenario planning of the People’s Action Party. From the instructional menu of Prism Project Primer #2, participants were guided to a situation in 2022 and they have to imagine, within the Primer framework, to come out with 3 possible scenarios in Jun-Aug 2012. 

2022. What a coincidence! Not long ago, PM Lee declared that he would like to hold the prime minister post for another 10 years. The other coincidence is the similarity between the 3 scenarios and the candidates of PE2011.

How competitive and sustainable are the 3 scenarios to the people of Singapore and to the PAP?   Will the scenarios produce competitive and sustainable Singapore, Singaporeans or the PAP?  Perhaps, as what the Chinese say: planning cannot always catch up with changes.   And planning sometimes turns out the wrong, bad and unexpected results, especially when planning without considering the people and their souls. And the worst scenario for the PAP is the loss of majority in the parliament in 2022.   

Central Planning in the Past not always right

As a one-party state, many planning in Singapore are centered on the wishes of the PAP. In the past, a PAP planning usually comes with a campaign, for example, HDB housing, population, bilingualism, integrated resorts, etc. When we look at the Prism Project, after the publication and announcement of 3 scenarios, the public will now have a chance to watch the campaign ‘wayang’ in November.   

Unfortunately, not all past planning matched the aims and desires of the PAP:


  • -       Singlish rather than English is preferred in this English speaking country and the need of Speak Good English campaign.
  • -       Bilingualism education system produces monolingual graduates and a hate feeling of mother’s tongue.
  • -       GRC can no longer protect the PAP for running Singapore likes a one-party state.
  • -       A Swiss standard of living ends up with widening rich-poor gap.
  • -       Productivity improvements achieve through low wages and foreign workers. 
  • -      

10 years later, when we look back at the 3 scenarios, we will know whether it is a central planning of the ISP for the PAP or not. Is it a proof of closer relationship between government institutions and the PAP?

PE2011 and the 3 scenarios

The Prism Project Report presents 3 scenarios:  SingaStore.com, SingaGives.gov and Wikicity.sg.

Below is short summary as reported in Today:


1) A pro-business government focusing on economic growth and ensuring better-paying jobs for Singaporeans.

2) A government formed by a splinter group of the People's Action Party providing cheap and heavily subsidised healthcare, education and housing.

3) A weak coalition government running a country whose citizens have little trust in it but where there is high venture capitalism and much community-driven effort.
One of these three scenarios could become reality a decade from now, according to a first-of-its-kind scenario planning exercise conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) which involved some 140 participants from a cross-section of Singapore society.http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC121022-0000027/Having-a-say-in-Singapore-2022


When we compare the 3 scenarios and the 3 PE2011 candidates, table below shows an interesting coincidence:

Scenarios
Prism Project
PE2011 candidates
1
SingaStore.com
Tony Tan – supported by PAP
2
SingaGives.gov
Tan Cheng Bock – a splinter of PAP
3
Wikicity.sg
Tan Jee Say – alternative

For the PAP, it wants to maintain a status quo – continuing with the present economic and social policies – population, immigration, health care, education etc. If they really cannot hold the position, the PAP will prefer to transit from .com to .gov by providing more cares to the people.  In this case, the younger brothers of the PAP are still in control of the government.  It is clearly stated in the Prism Report that SingaGives.gov is a splinter of the PAP.      

[Referring to a point when Workers’ Party said something about the coalition government last year, it is possible this splinter group, not the original PAP, joins hand with WP to form the government.]   

What the PAP totally cannot accept is the scenario 3: Wikicity.sg.  Yahoo.sg described Wikicity as:


In WikiCity, there is no central power because in this world, political unhappiness from a government that was disconnected from ground sentiment resulted in a low level of trust among the people. 
The state looks after foreign relations, trade and law and order, while keeping taxes and regulations as light as possible, much like the way the British ran Singapore in the 1960s. 
Because of this, though, communities are independently formed to help one another and provide essential services and assistance. International companies will withdraw their investments due to the instability but high net worth individuals who settled abroad will return to invest in promising enterprises and spare productive capacity here.http://sg.news.yahoo.com/what-do-you-want-singapore-to-be-like-in-2022-.html
The description above sounds very familiar and matches the tone of the PAP towards oppositions, especially SDP. 

The 3 scenarios can also arrange into 3 types of political developments in Singapore: 

Scenarios
Prism Project
Political Development#3
1
SingaStore.com
Status Quo
2
SingaGives.gov
Transition
3
Wikicity.sg
Transformation

What we have already known of ‘Singastore’ is the status quo – the present situation of Singapore. Do you think it can remain unchanged for another 10 years? Most will think it will move towards SingaGives or something between Scenario 1 and 2.

Scenario 3 type of transformation is also possible but seems like a wild card. It is a wild card because Prism Project gives it a negative definition as does the PAP.

Why don’t we disregard the likelihood scenario and think of the unlikely scenario?  Majority will agree that Scenario 1 – SingaStore will not happen in 2022. It is preferred by the central planners but is not acceptable by the people.  

The likelihood and possible happenings will be the other 2 scenarios, their combination or new scenarios. This will depend very much on the people’s power not the central planning of the PAP.   
Only if the central planning of the PAP succeeds, then Scenario 1 will remain and there are not many changes in Singapore in 2022.    

Selection of participants

Todayonline reported that ‘some 140 participants from a cross-section of Singapore society’ participated in the scenario planning.

This project, likes the National Conversation and other government projects or surveys, suffers from sample bias.  When Mediacorp tried to explain the participants to the TV forum of National Conversation were fairly selected, we all know that this explanation of inclusiveness cannot stand.

If you click on the name list of participants: Young Singaporeans (21-22 June) #4, you will see there is not a single student representative from NTU.  However, you find students from NUS, SMU and even SIM and JCs in the name list.  By this analogy, the meaning of ‘cross-section of Singapore society’ may need to be redefined. 

Is this only happened to this sector workshop or others? Even for an easy task of selection of student participants, this exclusiveness can happen.  What about other sector workshops?  

However, to central planners, they will use their own definition of ‘cross section’, inclusiveness, and of course, their desired scenarios.  And can all these face the challenges of times and changes?



#1

#2
http://www.spp.nus.edu.sg/ips/docs/events/prism/admin/Prism%20Project%20Primer%20%28Final%29.pdf

#3

#4
http://www.spp.nus.edu.sg/ips/docs/events/prism/notes/Prism%20Project_Young%20Singaporeans%20Sector%20Workshop%20Notes.pdf  

Saturday, 27 October 2012

不知民间疾苦住屋难,只知万千宠爱在一身。


80年代从政的总理,在近30年来的政治生涯中,是否有真正了解到民间疾苦住屋难的问题。在无数次的接见选民后,他还是无法解决居民的住屋问题, 因此,他的简单结论就是,破碎婚姻是住屋问题的导因之一。

他对居者有其屋的政策,应该有传承的义务,但是,这20多年来,他一路走,住屋的问题就越严重,最后,他只能说出像晋惠帝那样的活:没有饭吃,为什么不吃肉粥呢?婚姻既然破裂,当然要个别找住屋的出路。总理还希望回复到原点,重新开始。

住屋是民间最基本的问题。为何以前的居者有其屋政策,反而没有出现目前这么严重的住屋问题。从80年代到现在,总理每次接见选民时,他都听到看到,基层领袖也都有记录下来,选民的住屋问题。就是这个基本问题,他亲自面对,亲自体会,每星期最少一次,问题不单没有解决,反而更加严重。因此,他只能感叹,高呼家庭凝聚力:

总理昨晚接见宏茂桥集选区选民后,有感而发,在面簿上留言:“我们接到了大约114个个案,其中有相当大的一部分面对了住屋问题。而住屋问题的根源其实是破裂的家庭。”http://news.omy.sg/News/Local%20News/Po-Sui-Hun-Yin-Shi-Zhu-Wu-Wen-Ti-Gen-Yuan-Zong-Li-Xu-Qing-Guo-Ren-Wei-Xi-Jia-Ting-Ning-Ju-Li-102102

是的,家庭凝聚力是很重要的。较早前,不是有一个报道,一个赌徒会影响家庭中的10几个成员。一个人成败,不是个人的问题,而是家庭成员的共同负担。那么,一个总理的成功,一个总裁的成功,不就是国家成员,公司员工的贡献吗?

总理是否只看到国家的成功,而没有看到成功背后的国人的贡献和牺牲。总理谈到家庭的凝聚力,不要出现婚姻破碎,延伸来说,国家的凝聚力,也是不要出现分裂,才能在出现危机时,共同面对挑战。

居者有其屋的政策就是要给人民一个归属感,这是建国总理的宏愿,他希望国人有家之后,就会负起保家卫国的义务。当总理传承这个伟大的任务时,他是否还记得这个宏愿,住屋问题出现,没有归属感,还会有凝聚力吗?

事实上,婚姻已经破裂,一个家庭变成两个单亲家庭,住屋当然出现问题。住在亲朋好友的家里不是长远的计划,最好能够有一个自己的家。但是,这不符合建屋局的规定,单身(单亲家庭)是没有优先获得分配组屋的机会。因此,总理希望不要出现婚姻破碎,但是,既然已经婚姻破碎了,硬硬要两个人复合,这有可能吗?

我国的社会发展,已经到了婚姻生活出现离婚率远远高于过去的情形。这是现代化生活的一个代价,总理希望不要出现婚姻破碎,是一个理想,但是,现在婚姻问题出现了,导致住屋问题出现,这个现实问题,却需要马上解决,不是讲道理的时间。

深一层的想这个住屋问题,有一群人有没有出现婚姻破碎问题,都不会出现住屋问题。因为,他们的高收入可以避免他们陷入这个贫穷人的问题。不但如此,我们还经常看到他们在法庭上争财产呢!

所以,总理遇到的住屋问题,间接来说也是一个贫穷问题。有钱的人还需要到总理的接见选民办事处吗?

千宠爱在一身,关怀温情家何在。

行动党的轮调有时是蛮可爱的,在高度强调个人的贡献的同时,又要强调社会上需要温情,需要家庭的凝聚力。不然,住屋问题就会出现。对贫穷人是一套,对他们认为人才的人却是另一套。因此,整个国家,通过行政手段,把千万的宠爱都加在一个人的身上,还害怕爱的不够,担心这个人不愿意留在新加坡。

所以,一方面高喊高薪养廉,把千万的宠爱都集中在一个人的身上,一个总裁的薪金相等于整间公司员工的工资,使到人人羡慕。这是否是过度宠爱,过度的重视一个人的才华,过度的高估一个人的智力。

林崇椰说:“很多人会把公司营运成本与低薪职员挂钩,但其实有些聘请300名职员的公司,公司高层的薪水就比所有职员的薪水加起来还多。”“总裁一人加薪,其他如首席财务官、首席运营官等也会一并加薪,这对公司的营运成本造成很大的压力。长远下去,会影响公司的竞争力。”林崇椰表示,他较早前提出“休克疗法”时,提到大幅增加低薪工友的薪水,并同时冻结高薪者的薪金增长3年,以拉近两者间的差距。http://news.omy.sg/News/Local%20News/Lin-Chong-Ye-Ti-Yi-Dong-Jie-Gao-Ceng-3Nian-Xin-Jin-102146

这些总裁,首席财务官,首席营运官,还有政府高官,部长,他们当然没有住屋问题,他们的问题是如何选择优质的住屋,即使婚姻破碎,还是房子照住,车子照开。我们的国家和社会对他们的宠爱,真的是万千宠爱在一身。

但是,总理知道富人的住屋问题容易解决,贫穷人的政府组屋问题就是很大的难题。因此,总理只能高喊维持家庭凝聚力,破碎婚姻是住屋出问题的原因之一。事实上,婚姻良好,收入不高的快乐家庭也会出现住屋的难题。

一个原本快乐的家庭,会因为孩子的婚姻组屋房价上升而变得不快乐。迟迟没有获得组屋分配而不快乐。孩子的收入远远赶不上房价的上升,而不快乐。

总理接见选民近30年,难道还看不懂人民不快乐的原因吗?政府把宠爱都加在一个人的身上,这个人当然没有住屋问题,生活问题。与此同时,没有得到宠爱的人,越来越多,不单住屋有问题,生活也成问题。

从政这么多年,还停留在“没有饭吃,为什么不吃肉粥呢?”的阶段,这对行动党,对新加坡,应该不是住屋问题这么简单,而是更加重要的生存和前进的问题。

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Peak Oil, Peak PAP, Peak Singapore and the Golden Age



Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil 

When we talk about the golden age of Singapore, we are also referring to a stage that we have reached the maximum of our growth and development.  If the present day Singapore is the golden era, then we will see the decline soon. But is it a Peak PAP or Peak Singapore or both?

So, using the Peak Oil concept, we may also extend the same logic to Peak PAP and Peak Singapore. Few will disagree that Peak PAP means the seats of PAP MPs in the Parliament will decline in future elections.  The only possibility to increase the number of PAP MPs in future is to increase the total number of members of Parliament in Singapore.  But in terms of percentage, the current 93% is the peak for the PAP and then it will decline to a lower percentage in future.

Whether we have reached the Peak Singapore or not, it is harder to say.  But if it is still the PAP ruled government, then perhaps we have reached the Peak Singapore as they have used up all their supported resources. (And the National Conversation is not inclusive enough to push us to a new high level).

PM Lee in his speech to Singapore International Energy Week 2010 pointed out the following interesting points:

<We consume energy in the course of almost all parts of our daily lives. It makes possible the way we live, work, play and travel. And ever since the Industrial Revolution and especially over the past century, mankind has relied on cheap supplies of fossil fuels to drive economic progress. But this dependence will be very difficult to be sustained. >http://www.news.gov.sg/public/sgpc/en/media_releases/agencies/mica/speech/S-20101101-1.html

Comparing the cheap fuels and the cheap labour including our very own Singaporeans, the future growth of Singapore is certainly cannot rely on this cheap labour supply anymore.  In fact, as the government has promised after GE2011, we have already reached the stage of Peak Foreign Labour.   Future increase of foreign labour will be moderate and controlled. Nevertheless, the population under the PAP has yet to reach its peak and maybe through some creative arrangements some increases in population can be re-channelled to the pool of labour force.  

So the golden age, the Peak PAP, we are talking about is the golden age of the PAP and its associates, including mainstream media which has lost its monopoly status, the ISA for the use to detain political oppositions, and perhaps the moral high ground of wealth creation, casino and civil servants, etc.

Peak Oil does not stop the progress of the world so does the Peak PAP. Singapore will continue to grow and develop after the Peak PAP. We will use less oil and of course, Singapore will use less cheap labour. The Singapore sustainable growth and development will have to shift from materials gains to a meaningful living – a situation quite different from Peak PAP.

In fact, take the example of the USA; they are now consuming less oil, water and many other natural resources with a bigger population as compared to 10, 20 years ago.   USA is still progressing even though at a slower rate.  Singapore, being a small country and a first world country, can no longer consume resources including our human resources like the past.  Even land use and population, many believe we have reached the level of Peak Land and Peak Population.  

In the same speech, PM Lee said:

<There are two sets of concerns. First, fossil fuel resources are finite and depleting. Easily tapped supplies will gradually diminish and then the next supplies will become more expensive; in more inaccessible areas, deeper under the ocean, with new complex technologies involved in extracting the fossil fuels. The concentration of oil and gas supplies in just a few countries also raises serious national security concerns. >


The future supply of foreign labour, like oil, will be more expensive and difficult to get by.  In fact, Chinese construction workers have found that the wages offered in Singapore are no more attractive and they can get the same compensation in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Also, will the concentration of labour supply in a few countries a national concern to us?

Energy generation can come from fossil fuel and other alternative resources, like winds, solar or even nuclear power (that the PAP is very interested in). Singapore, as a country, will continue relying on energy to boost our economy and support our daily life.  From this aspect, relying 100% on the PAP source of energy is a risky decision and is certainly a security threat and concern to the future of Singapore.  It is all because we have already seen the Peak PAP.

Monday, 22 October 2012

小贩中心难圆星洲梦 懒人也要有懒的机会


原本的新加坡之梦是一个很美丽的瑞士家园,整体国人不只收入高,生活素质也高。因此,小贩中心这个概念便可以逐步退出新加坡,改以舒服的冷气食阁来取代。这就好像我们淘汰很多旧东西一样,养猪养鸡,旧楼旧屋,。。连好多组屋区的地名也换上新洋名,搞得的德士师傅不清楚方向,不知何去何从。

作为瑞士家园的一部分,从1986年起,政府便开始不兴建小贩中心了。理由很简单,任何旧东西在新加坡都可以被取代。小贩中心虽然取代了街边的小贩,但是,我们是一个前进的国家,政府希望国人也能享受到第一世界国家的生活水准。在国民所得增加的有利条件下,我们现在居于世界领先地位,当然也可以享受到更好的生活素质。所以,小贩中心的更进一步就是冷气食阁 这才算是进步。湿巴刹的下一步是超级市场。

小贩是一份辛苦工作

每个人都知道小贩是一门很辛苦的工作,这不是要不要加一粒蛋,两粒蛋的问题,也不是米暹还是面薄的问题。工作时间长,人家休息,你就要工作,社会身份地位也不高。从一定意义上看,少了小贩中心,就是少提供辛苦工作的机会,取代的就是比较不辛苦的工作,这不是提供更多‘懒人’工作的机会吗?对于比较不辛苦的工作,当然,老板也不可能付出高薪来支付薪水给工人的。

行动党政府的出发点原本是好的。因此,一切跟不兴建小贩中心的治国方针也跟着出来了:如朝服务业发展,金融业发展,资讯业发展,这些知识型的产业主导着新加坡的经济,这样才能达到瑞士的生活水准。最少从目前看来,在收入方面,我们是做到了,但是,为何生活素质跟不上呢?收入的中位数可以,但不代表全体国人都可以享受到第一世界国家的生活水准。

政府现在,从新启动新的小贩中心计划,不是开了倒车吗?美其名这是为了方便居民,降低生活费用,事实上是否如此?小贩中心的重新推出,其背后的真正意义恐怕是宣告新加坡美梦的结束,最少,对有一部分人来说,对生活在社会底层的人来说,何年何月才能看到瑞士家园。

新加坡第一世界国家的美梦,在表面风光的后面竟然是有一大班人生活在第三世界的水平。因为,我们的贫富差距太大了。大到有些人生活的比第一世界国家的国民还要好,有些人却生活的跟在第三世界国家的国民一样。如果,我们能够做到瑞士的生活素质,就不是这个样子。瑞士普通老百姓也可以拥有高素质的生活。

怪只怪,当年行动党政府没有说清楚,不是人人都可以得到瑞士的生活素质,政府的责任只是推高GDP。至于如何公平的分配,十多20年来不是政府关心的事。因为,懒人是不应该不劳而获的,所以,等待懒人的是第三世界的生活。

懒人也要有懒的机会

少了小贩这些辛苦的工作机会,人们的选择机会就减少了。当然,人们可以选择不辛苦又有点懒的工作,这些工作薪金自然不高。不幸的人,可能要和外劳一样,辛苦的工作,但是,老板的反应是很少新加坡人愿意从事外劳的工作。所以,新加坡人懒的形象就开始出现了。老板批评新加坡人懒惰常常有所听闻。

低层次的工作出现懒的新加坡人,为何高层次的工作也同样会出现懒的新加坡人?

这里面的懒,可能需要加以说明一下。新加坡雇员是世界上每周工作时间最长的雇员之一, 为何还会懒呢?或许,从老板的角度看来,工作时间只不过是条件之一,雇员还要有拼搏精神,自动自发的精神,自主精神。

到底是谁创造了懒工作的机会?难道跟行动党政府无关吗?

小贩中心交由合作社经营

《打头阵在明年中动工、2014年底建成的武吉班让小贩中心,由职总富食客合作社经营。询及另九个小贩中心将交由谁经营,维文说:我倾向以非盈利模式经营。之前由周士锦领导的小贩中心公众咨询小组,建议使用社会企业模式,我们希望能扩大这点,所以我在寻找其他愿意成立社会企业或社会合作社的机构,经营新小贩中心和那些在未来两三年所有权交还给政府的小贩中心。 (早报1021日)
小贩中心交给合作社经营,会不会造成更多懒惰机会,而合作社却有钱进袋呢?小贩们可以不理杂务,专心工作,但却要给管理费和较高的租金,这类管理,好像食阁一样,变成像是跟食阁打工,不利企业精神的发展。

和港台相比,新加坡人愿意创业的比率低了很多#。新加坡只有16%,而港台却分别高达40%33%。或者说,政府保护的太好,我们的社会有太多的懒惰工作机会,就连小贩也要控制好好,从全体生产力来看问题,而不是从企业精神来看问题,美其名的好管理,其实是为另一部分人创造多一些懒惰而又高薪的工作。

高薪养廉还是养懒惰

小贩中心交由专人来管理,当然是要付出高薪来养一批人。这批人,这批公司或合作社当然是要从政府手中取得经营权。什么样的人可以取得经营权?小贩中心是政府的,政府当然可以授权给认为有能力的人和公司来管理。

有了垄断经营权后,当然有能力请人来打理,付的起高薪了。小贩中心只是小经营,大经营就不得了,比如地铁,电讯,人民协会,市镇会,托儿所,培训中心,。。。

这些大经营就可以创造很多懒惰的工作机会。重复一下,懒惰不是工作时间的长短,而是缺乏“拼搏精神,自动自发的精神,自主精神,还有企业精神。”这些工作所最关心的是生产力,效率,报表,回报,和盈利。

当然,最大的经营就是政府部门,法定机构和政联公司。这些懒惰工作有一个很好听的名字:高薪养廉。这不是说他们工作时间不够长,而是说他们在没有竞争的情形下,变得没有“拼搏精神,自动自发的精神,自主精神和企业精神”。这是另一种定义的懒惰。

或许,我们现在可以理解到为何外人批评新加坡人是等待指示,等待命令的一群人。这是另一种懒惰的表现。而这种表现,刚好就反映了新加坡特殊的政治经济环境,这导致我们有条件懒惰,我们的垄断背景,创造小经营和大经营的机会,也刚好给高薪养廉带来了一个有利的借口。

所以,懒人也要有懒的机会和条件。其他国家和地区,没有我们这些政治和经济的懒惰背景,当然也就没有懒惰的机会。新加坡人是幸运的,行动党政府给了我们懒惰的条件,使到我们能够懒惰,但是,与此同时,行动党希望人民懒惰思想,不要在政治经济上想太多,想太多就会失去做懒人的机会和条件。

有利有弊,我们要做有思想的辛苦人还是没有思想的懒惰人?

#
According to a 2010 Gallup survey, 16% of Singapore residents who are not already business owners reported that they have thought about starting a business, compared with 40% in Hong Kong and in 33% in Taiwan. The number of people who have actually acted on such pipedreams is no doubt much smaller. Unless Singapore gets much better at understanding what drives entrepreneurs and how to identify and nurture those precious few who exist, Singaporeans may continue to create the ideal capitalist society but see most of the returns to capital flow to others.
Read more: http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/155612/Capitalist-Singapore-Needs-Entrepreneurs-Fast.aspx#ixzz2A1SUYedR

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Clearer picture better dream when distance from the establishment


Far away from the establishment, looking back from a distance, the past PAP Mandarins are giving us a clearer picture and better future of Singapore.  From shock therapy of wage reform, insurance coverage, minimum wage, wealth creators to OB markers, Singaporeans now see more of the true views and opinions of the former associates of the government.

And most of them can only do it when they are retiring or leaving their previous government posts.  Perhaps, this is because when they integrate more with the ordinary people, the normality of their true characters re-appears.   By this analysis, when the government announces civil servants can join the National Conversation, one will be able to predict the outcome.  Even without gag order, the experience of the former top civil servants has already given you the answers.

What does it mean? It means when the government policies are not in the right directions, no one can stop it. When the government is doing some wrong things, no one can stop it from the public administration, all the way up to the Parliament and the President.    

What do you think? We wait to see some lights only after some former Mandarins recollect their experience when they are no more in their official positions. Even that we only see limited pictures or some selected versions and views like the OB markers comments from Cheong Yip Seng.   

So, are we really stepping ahead by a few steps or stay putting? Or, worst, we are like the Mandarins and civil servants waiting for further instructions from the PAP?        


Here are some quotes from some of them:

Gerard Ee after leaving NKF on Singapore dream:

I think nobody has really looked at it from a non-economic point of view. If you look at America, it is a diverse group of people, and they are proud to be Americans, especially in a crisis. They do not sing Star Spangled Banner; the common theme uniting them is America the Beautiful, because the song is about a dream.
Compare it to Stand Up For Singapore and Count On Me Singapore; it is as if we have not done enough. What holds people together is a common dream. Where is that song that paints the dream that we can share?http://www.todayonline.com/CommentaryandAnalysis/Commentary/EDC121019-0000029/In-search-of-the-Singapore-dream


Lim Chong Yah on income of the poor after leaving NWC:

He was the economist who created a stir when he suggested raising the pay of low income earners by 50 per cent over three years. But Prof Lim Chong Yah, 80, believes that it was the right thing to do and that the wage "shock therapy" suggestion had generated a lot of healthy discussion that moved the inequality debate forward.http://www.singapolitics.sg/gallery/lim-chong-yah-interview-part-1 

Ngiam Tong Tow on one-party state after retiring from civil service:

During the dialogue, Mr Ngiam was also asked about his thoughts on a one-party system versus a multi-party system. 
In response, Mr Ngiam cited the ancient cities of Sparta and Athens. "Sparta was efficient and disciplined, but in the end, it failed, because such a state is very brutal, whereas Athens was very chaotic, argumentative, messy, but they survived," he said.http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC120830-0000067/Spread-young-talent-among-schools


Even Tommy Koh, he also talked about income gap, minimum wage and medical insurance:

He identified insurance as one area where Singapore “didn’t get it right”, touching also on the nation-state’s failure to achieve inclusive growth — more specifically in terms of plugging the income gap.
“We need to fix the equity of our existing healthcare system. We have a system at the moment that does not meet my standard of fairness,” he said. 
“I think the state should intervene and require all insurance companies to insure people with prior medical conditions. There should be no one in Singapore who is not insured against a potential catastrophic disease,” he added, noting that, currently, insurance companies will not cover applicants who have pre-existing medical conditions.http://sg.news.yahoo.com/insurance-should-cover-everyone--ambassador-tommy-koh.html 

Finally, even the mouthpiece of the PAP government has to acknowledge that changes are coming: no more newspapers closure, ISA, and more political space. Here are some points from Cheong Yip Seng and his book of OB Markers:

"I have seen newspapers closed when they fell foul of the government, and friends lose their jobs. Journalists have been detained. I did not suffer their fate, but many were the times when I was at the receiving end of Lee Kuan Yew's fury," he writes. 
But at the book launch on Friday, Mr Cheong - who is currently a Non-Resident Ambassador to Chile and a newspaper consultant - declared that such days were over. 
Saying he does not "see this Government resorting to the Internal Security Act to act against journalists", Mr Cheong said he felt the Government will become "less heavy-handed" over time, and will no longer close down a newspaper. 
He noted even its "favourite instrument" of changing editorial leadership in newsrooms will be less effective over time. 
A change in the newspaper team, every so often, "to operate in a way that on the one hand makes the Government happy and on the other, protects the credibility and integrity of the newspaper" is impossible, Mr Cheong said, "unless there are so many able journalists out there who could be shipped in and out".
Noting that it is impossible to restrict the flow of information in a modern economy, Mr Cheong said that as Singapore develops, "it is inevitable that the public is going to demand more political space".
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1232391/1/.html

Thursday, 18 October 2012

生命的泪光 终老的选择 人命有价还是无价?


生老病死 ,这是人生之路。一项调查指出,新加坡老人更倾向于高素质的临终生活而非延长生命却又痛苦的活着。这是无奈的选择,还是一种折中,或许,如果经济能力可以的话,更多的人会选择两者:又要延长生命,又要不痛苦的活着。

连氏慈怀研究中心的一项临终护理调查,还为生命终结前的护理开了一个价格表:(一年平均值)

严重病痛管理费用:        24,000 新元
高素质的护理费用:        21,600 新元
延长生命多一年价值:    9,100 新元
(生患重病者)

一个对新加坡500多位老人的调查,得出上述的价码来。生命原本就是无价的,现在,看到这个价格表,我们到底是高兴还是不高兴呢?对于生患重病的人来说,多活一年的价值只是9,100 新元。9,100新元,对有些人来说,就像一粒花生米,对有些人来说,却是一个不少的数目。

或许,当我们了解了受调查者的背景后,我们对这个一年9000新元的生命价值会有一个新的理解。这些年龄超过50岁的调查者,多数是受教育较少者,住在较小的组屋和没有什么医药保险的人。当然,他们对生命的期待,生命的价值,孩子的供养能力,都不能和社会上收入较高的人群相比。

难怪,国外的调查,对于延长生命一年的价值判断就和新加坡很不相同。他们对延长生命的价值给予很高的价码。以美国,英国为例,这个价码就很不同,他们认为,应该是50,000 新元。

到底是新加坡老人的命不值钱还是洋人高估了自己?话又说回来,如果是新加坡的富人,就是多多钱他们也肯付。经济能力可以的,一倍,两倍,甚至好几倍的钱,他们也在所不惜,甚至飞机改装接送都没有问题。

没钱的新加坡老人,在生患重病时只愿付出9000新元延长一年生命,那么,政府的养老金制度,遇到同样的情形,又愿意付出多少钱来延长退休公务员的一年生命呢?

这是一个现实的生命泪光,同人不同命。因此,对于终老的选择,价值的判断,不同的人,不同能力的人,不同背景的人,会做出不同的选择。价值和价码的差别,如果贫富差距越大,这个数目就会越大。

香港的最新数据显示,虽然贫穷率降低,但是贫富的距离继续拉大,其中三分之一的老人生活在贫穷线下。
香港貧窮率創10年新低 貧富懸殊續升 3個長者1貧窮香港社會服務聯會研究顯示,在最低工資實施後,去年香港貧窮率創下 10 年新低,跌至 17.1% ,貧窮人口降至 115 萬人,但貧富懸殊則繼續上升,創 10 年紀錄。研究指出,香港各年齡層貧窮率均下降,唯獨長者貧窮率上揚,貧窮長者多達 28 8000 餘人,即平均每 3 名長者就有 1 名活在貧窮線http://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E8%B2%A7%E7%AA%AE%E7%8E%87%E5%89%B510%E5%B9%B4%E6%96%B0%E4%BD%8E-%E8%B2%A7%E5%AF%8C%E6%87%B8%E6%AE%8A%E7%BA%8C%E5%8D%87-3%E5%80%8B%E9%95%B7%E8%80%851%E8%B2%A7%E7%AA%AE-001458976--finance.html

在香港,三个老人就有一个贫穷人士。那么,新加坡的情形是否和香港相似?我们是多少个老人,就有一个贫穷人士。我们生患重病的老年人,只愿意付出9000新元换来一年的生命,在香港,这个价码数目可能就更低了。新加坡或许没有每三个老人就有一个贫穷人士,但是,新加坡和香港有很多相似之处,因此,我们人口中的老年贫穷比例也不会太少。

难怪,‘可以死,不可以病’,已经成了老年人的口头禅了。当然,对贫穷的家庭来说,也确实如此。9000新元可以做为教育费,临终的老人,也会含泪同意把这笔钱做为孙子的教育前途投资。这些老人低估生命价值的背后原因,或许都有一个伟大的故事,为家人牺牲的精神。

为此,我们要给于新加坡的老年人一个最高的尊敬,尤其是低下层的老年人。他们低估本身的生命价值,在很大程度上是为家人,孩子,甚至为了国家着想。一生劳累,国家是否有珍惜过?照顾过?没有公积金,没有医药保险,当然,生命的价值也就没有条件提升。因此,只能低估,希望减少临终开支,最后,当然不希望延长生命,不希望延长生命,价值自然就会低了。

这种想法,对务实的行动党政府来说,是最好的选择。家庭成本,社会成本,医药开支,将会因为老年人的这些想法,而获得节约。这个节约到底有着多少老人的泪水,无奈和伤情?

提出报告的其他内容也印证了新加坡老人的牺牲精神,不愿意加重家庭负担的原因:

-       老年护理费用每月450新元,大约等于女佣的费用。
-       希望在家里老死。
-       关心医药费用,选择费用最低的治疗。

负责发表调查报告的Dr Chetna Malhotra指出,人们对价值的看法,对政府的津贴会有影响。她说: 政府花费巨款提供物理治疗来延长寿命,是否有意义?痛苦管理(减少痛楚)和延长寿命同样的重要。

在上面的价格表中,(社会下层)老年人对严重病痛管理和高素质的护理的价值看得比延长生命多一年的价值来得高。

对于不愿挺累家庭,不愿挺累国家的老年人来说,减少病痛,和享受高素质的临终生活护理,或许是他们最好的选择,这样的安排可以给予他们更加高的生活和生命的价值。

人口老临化的挑战,是否也应该包含价值的选择。生命的价值,在务实的国策和社会下,将何去何从?