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?

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. 

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.

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. 

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".

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