Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Year of Re-think, from Riot to Rentier Economy


Inside or outside Singapore, even it is an isolated case as claimed by the government, the Little India riot is a piece of international news.   It presented the other side of Singapore to the international audiences, that a stable country can also have violence.

So, we need to rethink the possible reasons for the Riot, beyond the official version.  Besides riot, the whole of 2013 is a year of re-thinking, re-consideration, re-assessment and re-evaluation of our past, present and future. The PAP is re-thinking and re-introducing democratic socialist.  Why?  It is because our very successful model is mainly based on the rentier economy and rentier capitalism.  So, the PAP is re-examining its glory past and tries to re-fine the model.  Will it work?  It is too early to tell.

Rentier economy

Rentier economy usually refers to oil rich producing countries but it can also refer to countries that have certain characteristics of a rentier state.

There are four characteristics that would determine whether or not a state could be identified as rentier#1: 
1. if rent situations predominate
2. if the economy relies on a substantial external rent – and therefore does not require a strong domestic productive sector
3. if only a small proportion of the working population is actually involved in the generation of the rent
4. and, perhaps most importantly, which the state’s government is the principal recipient of the external rent.[2]

How well does Singapore fit into the above characteristics?

1.   Yes. For example our location, our big government business, our special designed election system, etc.
2.   Yes. For example, our trade is many times our GDP, the tourists arrival is more than the local population, etc.
3.   Yes. For example, the emphasis on scholars and foreign talents and now even the casinos are only open for foreigners etc.
4.   Yes. For example, the CPF monies, official reserves, GIC and Temasek Holdings etc.  


Rental incomes

If we have the characteristics of a rentier economy, then where are the rental incomes?

These rental incomes can come from COE and ERP; work permits; casino licences; Singapore Pool; sale of state lands; the difference between CPF interest rate and investment returns of GIC/Temasek;  in elections through media control and boundary design; etc.

Singapore has no natural resources, but using administration measures, the PAP government can achieve the level of rentier economy for its own consumption.   

Besides the state having renting income, in a personal capacity, individuals can also enjoy profit above normal level.  One very clear example is the highly paid ministers.  Administration decision can be taken without public consultation to award ministers salaries above international standard. 

One of the reasons that rich becomes richer in Singapore is due to rentier economy. For example you can see them in property investment, in personal tax rates, or not to forget there is no capital gain (e.g. shares) and real estate duty.  

The unique rentier structure in Singapore can also benefit some individuals who dare to take risk.  For example, false marriage, false IC or lending of IC, illegal application of HDB flats, illegal subletting, etc.

With the rentier income in national and individual level, we now recall 10 events in 2013 that are related to this.  You can see from these events that how the PAP re-thinks and re-evaluate its position in a rentier economy.

The Top 10 Re-thinks in 2013

The ten 2013 things for thought for Singapore are as follows:

1 Punggol by-election: Why did voters reject the PAP? Are they happy with the current distribution under our rentier state?

2 Population: Why did the first ever large scale legalized peaceful protect in Singapore taking place in Hong Lim Park? Are they happy with the population distribution under rentier economic model?

3 Social media: Is ‘Free My Internet’ movement necessary? How do things change in the new media era? Can a rentier state continue to control the media?

4 Housing: Is getting a HDB flat first before marriage a new trend? Will the new housing policy make a fairer distribution of state estates?

5 Democratic socialism: Is this a re-think of the PAP? Is this a clear signal to move away from the rentier practices?

6 llo llo: How important are maids in Singapore society and the problems of children growing up under this environment? Like Little India Riot, is there an urgent need to re-think the foreign workers policy in the new democratic socialist arrangement?

7 MedicalShield: This medical insurance is now compulsory for all Singaporeans. You can’t even opt out. Is this the result of our rentier economy after a review of the past mistakes?

8 Legal and court: There are some challenges (Hougang by-election, gay right, death penalty etc.) to the interpretation of our constitution. This, perhaps, is the most important of all the events.   How does the court maintain its position in a rentier state?  

9 AIM and town council management: Will the story continue to the next election? How do public view the government using its rentier power to score points or lose points?

10 Prime Minister: Do we need to re-think his performance during the year? Is his high salary, due to the rentier capitalism, matching his performance over the years?

 

#1
For further reading:
Britain is recreating a rentier society fit for a baby royal


Thursday, 26 December 2013

争取社交媒体话语空间 行动党重提民主社会


最近行动党开了党大会,议决强调走民主社会主义的道路。为何行动党要重提这条老路?难道他们忘了他们就是依靠这条老路,霸上政权做政府的吗?大会上,行动党也强调要争取社交媒体的话语空间,因为,他们知道,垄断主流媒体已经无法得到像过去那样的好处,在社交媒体上的失分,才是最迫切需要解决的问题。

因此,我们在亚洲新闻台的报道中,看到以下这段似是而非的报道:

[陈振声说,行动党也必须改善与人民的沟通,这不只是政府和人民之间的事,也是让人民走在一起,了解他们的差异并寻求共识。 
他说:“我们也必须持续发奋地捍卫让人民说话的共同空间,不然这个空间就会被占领,把我们变成无关轻重。我们决不能让步,无论是实体公共空间,还是网络空间。”]

行动党要“捍卫让人民说话的共同空间”,它不是已经霸占了主流媒体,现在,它连社交媒体也想要霸占吗?难怪,媒体管理局会推出一系列不利社交媒体发展的措施,和新的规定。因此,行动党进一步推出不利网络空间发展的限制的可能性很高。

但是,行动党和人民之间,行动党和新媒体之间的鸿沟,代沟,在最近几十年的行动党走‘非民主社会主义’路线上,已经渐行渐远。因此,重提民主社会主义,就是想要拿回这个话语权,这谈何容易?行动党党员,政府官员,又有多少人知道民主社会主义的内涵。所以,陈振声才说要向60年代的老行动党人学习,学习什么呢?行动党,行动党党员,还有国人看得懂,听得懂吗?

民主社会主义下的行动党群众大会,往事只能回味singaporeelection.blogspot.com

话语的共同空间,永远都在那里。不存在占领的问题。只要你的话适合人民的心声,反映国人的生活面貌,那你就能够占有一席之位。因此,过去通过行政手段,得来的空间,在相对自由的网络空间里,就失去了竞争力。继续管制媒体,继续限制言论自由,像陈振声那样只懂高喊,行动党的话语空间就只能变得更加的小,而最后就真的像陈振声说的那样,“不然这个空间就会被占领,把我们变成无关轻重。”

社会契约 – 行动党如何诠释?

或许,我们从社会契约#1开始讲起,比较能够切题。这是一种个人和政府之间的合同关系。政府为人民提供服务而个人却以遵守法律次序,社会规范等等作为反应。当然,如果,政府没有为人民提供适当的服务,或者,在个人看来,这个服务不达标,人民就能够有话语空间,把他们的意见反映出来。或者在选举中,通过他们选定的代议士来发声。

当然,也有通过更加激烈的方法,像阿拉伯之春,甚至,泰国最近发生的示威活动。他们或许可能是,也可能不是全国人民的大部分。总之,他们认为这个社会合同没有公平合理的执行,实行。因此,他们有权表达他们的声音。

行动党能不能够重新取得人民的信任,能不能占领话语空间,这就要看人民如何判断行动党在社会契约中有没有完成它应该尽的责任,它有没有履行对人民的承诺。认可民主社会主义这条老路,就是要行动党党员认清他们在社会契约中的责任,这很不容易,就拿两块半马来饭事件来说,行动党还是搞不清状态。人民的认知判断和行动党的相比,还是有一段距离。

天命 - 行动党的天命在哪里?

有关社会契约这个概念,这有点像中国西周建立的时候,提出的天命的讲法。在周之前,夏和商,都已经是世袭的封建制度。因此,要推翻夏和商,当然也要有一个讲法,那就是他们做的不好,对人民不好,所以,“天”认为要由另一个人或者另一个朝代来取代他们,这么做是有其合理性,正当性的。

因此,这和社会契约所说的政府和人民的关系几乎一样。人民觉得政府处事不公,利益分配不均,他们就有权出来推翻旧政权,而也赞成这种做法,认为这么做符合人民的利益。并且,要求人民接受新的周政权。这是周朝政权推出来的新的讲法,新的“话语空间”。在西周的这段历史中,人民也普遍接受这种安排,相安无事的生活。


所以,当我们回顾阿拉伯之春时,不能只是把他们看成是单纯的民主运动,他们把旧政权推翻,也正因为,这些政权没有履行社会契约,没有考虑人民的利益,没有为人民提供服务(工作,住屋,医药,教育等),
没有把国家的财产合理的分配。

相对来说,海湾地区的富有的油产国,却有油钱来为人民提供基础设施,教育,医药,福利等等的服务。但是,这些国家,为他们本身的国民提供一流世界的服务,难道就不会出现问题吗?这里先不要考虑复杂的宗教问题,单从油钱的利益分配来看,海湾地区的人民未必会同意目前各个当地皇权所做出的利益分配。皇权认为,他们世袭这个国家,这些油田,他们把一部分的油钱拿出来分配给人民,也给他们好处,因此,人民有必要履行社会契约,接受政府规定的社会规范,法律制度来生活。问题是人民觉得这个分配有问题,是不公平的,因此,他们就会发出声音。一些人要求更多议会代表,民主,妇女们要求更多的公平待遇。还有一些走向极端的宗教主义。

这和新加坡有什么关系?这可以不可以是新加坡的一面镜子呢?我们和产油国一样的富有,但是,我们的社会正如总理说的很稳定,怎么会出现问题,而小印度事件,也不过是一个例外个别事件而已。这就是行动党诠释下的社会契约,有些人同意,有些人不同意。结果很可能就反映在下一次大选中。

不论社会契约还是天命,也正如行动党一直强调的那样,为人民提供最好的服务,才是最重要的,而未必人人都要求民主,自由。但是,什么是最好的社会服务?在诠释这个社会契约的时候,行动党政府和人民之间就出现鸿沟和代沟。行动党说它已经做得很好了,和其他国家相比,行动党一直以它亮眼的经济表现作为借口,而人民的感受却不是如此。因此,当然是各说各话了,当然就要抢地盘了,就变成陈振声所说的
“不然这个空间就会被占领”。所以,行动党说“我们决不能让步”。

既然行动党是这么解读,这么诠释社会契约,以霸占的心态来对待社会合同,我们很难想象,它下一步将会如何做,当然以这样的心态来对待社会契约,假借民主社会主义的口号来得分,真的能够像以前那样垄断话语空间吗?


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Thursday, 19 December 2013

A Divided PAP under Democratic Socialism

Still remember in 1961, there was a split in the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the breakaway group founded Barisan Sosialis (Socialist Front) #1, a party carrying the name of Socialist.  Since then, the socialist ideology and movements have already left the PAP.  This was also the reason that the PAP was forced to leave Socialist International in 1976. #1

[In 1976, however, the PAP resigned from the Socialist International after the Dutch Labour Party had proposed to expel the party,[17] accusing it of suppressing freedom of speech.]#1 
To be fair to the PAP, no political party in Singapore is a member of Socialist International, after a check in their webpage.  Historically, ‘socialist’ is a negative word in Singapore politics.  It is so close to the word ‘communist’.  Perhaps, this tells us why no Singapore political party wants to join Socialist International and carries the ‘socialism liability’.

However, in the Wikipedia, the PAP and WP are in the list of democratic socialist parties and organisations. But in term of political position, the PAP is centre-right and WP is centre-left.

If the PAP’s new resolution does not mention ‘democratic socialist’, many Singaporeans will not think of the link between socialism and the PAP. In particular, the PAP has always rejected the European-style of democratic socialism or social democracy – the so-called welfare state. 

Will socialism win votes for the PAP?

The word ‘socialist’ was a heavy name to the PAP. Two years after the split, in the 1963 election, its share of votes dropped to 46.9% from 54.1% in 1959.  Will history repeat itself? Will there be a split in the PAP after the re-focus of democratic socialism?

Considering 1961, the split costs the PAP votes to go down. So, in simple mathematics, the PAP will win more votes by re-introduction the term ‘socialist’.  This means they want to take back the breakaway votes. Is this so simple? Or, will it result to the opposite effect?  PAP members confuse and so they reject the ideology of democratic socialist.  They then leave the party to form a new conservative right wing party.

I wonder how many PAP members can associate themselves to the democratic socialist movements. After so many years of PAP education (see below), democratic socialism is really out of sight, ‘no free lunch’ is the only capitalist word we know.

[…most analysts of Singapore have discerned four major "ideologies" of the PAP: pragmatism, meritocracy, multiracialism, and Asian values or communitarianism.]#1 
[It has since considered itself a social democratic party, though in recent decades it has moved towards neoliberal and free-market economy reforms.] #1

A confused Democratic Socialism

PAP members are not the only ones confuse about the meaning of democratic socialism. Even among political scientists, there is no consensus. Wikipedia provides a brief explanation:   
[Democratic socialism is a name given to trends of socialism that emphasizes democratic principles as inalienable from their political project. Some forms of democratic socialism overlap with social democracy, while other forms reject social democratic reformism in its entirety.]
But it also adds the following: 
[Democratic socialism is difficult to define, and groups of political scientists have radically different definitions for the term.]

Will a confused definition of democratic socialism work for the PAP? As a consequence, the PAP can claim that they are everything, from left to right. They can be the Democratic as well as the Republican in the USA. They can also be the Conservative, Liberal as well as Labour Party in the UK. They can also be a combination of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in Malaysia.

In fact, this is what the PAP has been doing since 1959.  They can shift side as they like.  

Confused democratic socialism = discounted lunch?

A confused definition can also benefit the PAP as it can sometimes claim to be in the left side of politics when facing new popular demand and want to gain votes. However, when talking to investors, promoting business, creating jobs, they want to stand at the right side of the politics.

It is just like PAP MP Baey Yam Keng and his $3 lunch.  Some lunches have discounts, some have discounted drinks, some without. Only the PAP is capable to provide so many different pricing for a lunch.   

In the past 50 years, the PAP has shown its capability in shifting side from left to right, right to left, and now with the new resolution, it is offering a lunch package with some discounts to Singaporeans, but some of them, like Baey Yam Keng, may not even notice the special discount.  

It is now moving away from ‘expensive lunch’ to ‘discounted’ lunch as stated and claimed in the PAP resolution.  But still there is no ‘free lunch’.   

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Sunday, 15 December 2013

2011政治震撼 2013社会震撼 下一次轮到行动党震撼

处变不惊,行动党酒醉治国?小印度事件的第一反应,就是禁酒,酒精作怪,所以,外劳才会闹事。就像2011年大选失利后,设立一个全国对话,然后,自己和自己讨论未来的路。最近,行动党又说要走回民主社会主义的路线。甚至,报上还引了一位国大教授说,城市规划,就是要走社会主义路线#1。这是拍马屁还是酒精作怪,还是酒后吐真言。

一下子,行动党怎么会如此钟情社会主义?有没有喝醉酒,是否有没有喝醉酒,我们不知道,但是,酒后失言,还是酒后吐真言倒是有的:外劳的犯罪比例比本国人来得低#2 这是真言但却也是政治失言。这个真言不是第一时间说的,而是事发多日后在日本说的。因此,应该不是酒后失言。之前,总理只能通过脸书,留下几句话。任何公司的总裁如果都能像总理这样管理公司,那该多好呀!

可惜在现实面前,国内外的人是否也会和总理,行动党一样,处变不惊和处惊不变。局势改变不害怕,即使害怕也不改变。行动党认为只要推出民主社会主义,人们就会相信,政府会照顾人民。因此,不需要惊吓,也不需要改变。

不知道是不是喝醉酒,看了这篇有关黄循财的访问#3,我还是不知道行动党到底是要改变还是不改变它的有关民主社会主义的路线。
 【目前的转向并不是否定过去几十年的策略。】The shift now is not a repudiation of the strategies of the last few decades. #3

既然过去几十年的路线策略没有错,那到底是要改变还是不要改变? 那又何必转向呢?还是希望选民喝醉,行动党独醒,难怪禁酒是对,这样国人才不会喝醉,清醒冷静的投票。

流年不利的行动党

2011政治震撼后,2013社会震撼后,接下来会不会再来一个震撼呢?行动党本身会不会出现震撼,从一个党分裂开来,还是,大选再次失利,失掉更多的选票和议席。行动党的命理是不是要连开三次下签,一次比一次严重。

那就要看行动党的运气了。连续两个下签,再来一个下下签,有可能吗?易学说,穷则变变则通,或许,行动党认为还没有到穷则变变则通的地步,因此,就处惊不变和处变不惊。所以,黄循财才会说行动党即是转向,但是,也不否定过去。不变不惊同在共存。

行动党的风水不好,那么,新加坡作为一个国家,它的运程如何?我们个人,是否也要和行动党一样,处变不惊和处惊不变。行动党运程不好,它是否也会把国家和个人抱在一起,大家一起承受下签的命运。相信命理,懂得命理的人,都相信转运这件事。我们要如何改变自己的命运,不受行动党的影响。这就见仁见智了。

行动党当然认为大家的运程都是一样的。如果,行动党不好,新加坡和新加坡人也不好。因为,行动党坚信,它才是唯一能够管理国家,胜任成功的治理新加坡的政党。而目前,没有其他政党可以代替它。这是行动党的自信,但也很可能是过度自信。

因此,我们如果要改变自己的命运,改变自己的运程,我们就不可能相信行动党了。你相信行动党,那你的命运就和它一样,它好,你或许好,或许不好。它不好,你肯定也不好。因为,你相信它,相信它的不变不惊。相信它的既转向,又不改变。既然不变,当然就不通了。

COI是小变不是大变

在上一篇博文里,我把小印度事件形容为新加坡的911。它对我们的影响,不亚于911 对美国的冲击。因此,设立COI这样的调查委员会,只能脚痛医脚。

现在,四人调查委员会名单出来,我还是这么认为。充其量,COI也只是从短期因素看问题,也是能起着小变的作用。我建议我们应该成立一个全国委员会,有如美国911委员会那样,具有更高的权力,可以审问和听取最高的领导人的看法。

看看这四个人的背景#4,你就明白为何只能说是小变而已:

*退休法官,只能依据事实,物件来判断是非。他不会考虑到人情世故。小印度事件怎能只是依靠表面的法理证据来处理。

*退休警察头号人物,他处的时代背景已经大大不同。现在的外劳比以前多了多少,现在的贫富有多大。或许行动党就是要他以过去的思维来调查,来看问题。

*退休工运人士,职工总会代表过外劳吗?职总的第一号人物也不是会长,即没有代表过外劳,也没有参加过内阁会议,他真的懂得国情吗?

*基层领袖,他们连新加坡民情都无法真实的回报给行动党,又怎能理解外劳的心声?

这是一个欠缺文化,欠缺反映社会价值,欠缺外劳因素的调查委员会。因此,它只能片面的反映小印度事件的真相。它也只能提出短期的解决方法和建议。这正是行动党所期待的吗?就像地铁公司巴士司机罢工的调查一样,只想从短期解决问题,说这是小变通,已经是很客气了。

穷则变变则通,行动党还是悟不到。或许,设立调查委员会对于行动党来说,已经是很大的让步了,很大的变通了。所以,面对行动党的只有一条路:下下签的震撼,每两三年来一个震撼!作为新加坡人,我们可要先做好准备呀!


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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Little India Riot: The 9/11 of Singapore?

Yes. I am talking about the impact, the shock and the aftermath. Certainly, I am not referring it to terrorist attack or religion issues.

After so many peaceful years, we suddenly have to face a (long existence) new reality – a product of our very successful economic model

The investigation should go beyond a Committee of Inquiry.  It should be a Commission Report like the 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT#1 in the United States. It cannot stay put at the technical level like the COI of SMRT bus strike.  It should touch on the cultural aspects, the humanity, and the sociology besides the psychology of mob and riot. It basically calls for a re-think of our cheap and low-cost labor driven economic model.

The 9/11 Report details the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.  Besides this, it has many chapters on the development and background information of the terrorist movements. It also highlights and covers a lot of background issues and problems inside the US government operations and co-ordinations. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security was created in the States (and Singapore also followed later by setting up a Co-coordinating Minister for National Security.)   

However, Little India Riot is not a terrorist attack.  It is our own problem and we have to solve it ourselves. There is no learning curve. Looking at the way the police conducts the search for more suspects island-wide and the ban of alcohol over the weekend in Little India, it looks more like Singapore is facing a national security issue. The call for clam and classified it as an isolated incident are another acknowledgments of the seriousness of the riot.

Learning from 9/11 Report

The COI on Little India riot really cannot do much as it has limited power to interview the top. The top leaders must also come under scrutiny for certain policy and strategy options that may lead to the unfortunate incident.  

In USA, the 9/11 Commission was empowered to interview everyone in America, including the President.  The Commission interviewed President, Vice-President, secretaries of state, defense and other departments, and many other senior government officials and military officers. If you look at the 9/11 Report, you will know what I mean.

However, as the PAP government has downplayed the riot and its impact. The COI will not be able to tell us the views of our senior political leaders and senior government officials including top Police officers.  So, I am afraid the COI only gives a partial story of the riot – the face fact of the so-called isolated incident.

Not to forget the 9/11 Report is a bi-partisan product.  You can’t blame the other side for any wrong doing or gain any political advantage. While in Singapore, the COI on riot will certainly produce different political implication because it is a PAP product.     

Old school thinking of inclusiveness

By setting up a COI for the Little India Riot is a continuation of old school thinking.  It shows the PAP still wants to solve problems within its own rank, within its own capability and ignored the public interest at large. It still believes it is the only party capable to solve all problems in Singapore.

In fact, the timing is right for the PAP as it has just shifted its focus (back) to “democratic socialism”.  Why doesn’t the PAP use this opportunity to tell Singaporeans and foreigners in an honest way how to move forward?  “Our new way forward: A call for action.” Yes, we want to see the action. An action goes beyond COI.
     
However, even the government is willing to set up a commission to investigate the riot, I am afraid Singapore alone has no expertise in language, culture and customs in coming out a report like the level of 9/11 Commission Report.   

We basically have very little knowledge on foreign workers and foreign maids.  We just treat them as cheap labor. So, how can we invest money in understanding them? We even want to isolate them and house them in an island.

After the 9/11 Report, there are more investment and funding in the USA for Arabic language and studies, Islamic study, terrorist study and even broadcasting in Arabic language.

Residence and non-residence

Different from many foreign countries, we have not considered foreign workers as residents. They are on work permits. They are not talents so they can’t be PRs.  
   
In the very first days when they enter into Singapore, they are already different.  We consider them as substitutable goods. When they become expensive, we source for cheaper alternatives. With this in mind, where is the belongingness?

If I may bring in another example, the rich-poor gap in Singapore is already a concern. The PAP’s new way of socialism is to tackle this problem. Only now, the PAP wants to take serious action to solve this lower income Singaporeans problem. So, where do they find time and mean to consider the problems of more than one million foreign workers in Singapore?

The best way is to isolate them.  But Singapore is so small, how can we isolate foreign workers in a humanity way?

Love and not hate

In his speech to the Congress after the 9/11, former President Bush asked:

[Americans are asking ``Why do they hate us?''] #2

Because of ‘hate’, Bush went on for more military built ups and wars.  Hate cannot solve the problem, we should ask: why don’t they love us? (As Singapore has given them opportunities to earn more income to support their families back home?)

I don’t think the COI on Little India Riot can suggest and convince the PAP government to come out with a Love strategy for foreign workers.    

This is why a more powerful, multi-party and national-wide Commission is needed.  But will the PAP listen?

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Sunday, 8 December 2013

加油打气 替代声音需要更多支持鼓励

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-k5pyl3R9OYo/UKs1GnIEVOI/AAAAAAAACNo/eIE53nxqIIk/s1600/306886_10151271915283151_933307771_n.jpg

曼德拉走了。他只是希望留下一块简单的石碑#195年的心路历程,他的黑人替代声音,越走越获得世人的认可,从个人奋斗到最后的公认伟人。这说明了什么?替代声音是要付出代价的,需要更多支持,加油打气,而不是刻意的加以阻拦。曼德拉成功了,南非黑人抬头了,他们当家做主了,他们争取自由,公平,正义,民主。。。的机会,走了自己选择的路。

替代声音的阻力有多大,面对的困难有多深,这里举一个80年代的例子。美国共和党人里根在任总统的期间,就是支持南非白人政权,反对曼德拉的黑人民权运动。因此,美国的外交政策当然是支持南非的白人政权,所以,曼德拉的替代声音,在国际上遇到很大的阻力,你只要想一想美国在80年代和现在的情形,就知道当时的美国有多强势,有人会向它说‘不’吗?

幸好,偏偏有一个美国国会就是不听里根的指示。美国国会以国会绝对的三分二票数,推翻里根总统支持的南非种族隔离政策#2,反对里根的南非政策,这在美国历史是非常罕见的,也是第一次出现总统外交政策被否决。

虽然,里根总统的支持南非种族隔离的外交政策被国会推翻,改为认可曼德拉的民权运动,但是,曼德拉的恐怖份子的身份仍然留在美国的政府的恐怖份子名单资料中,一直到2008 才被正式取消。想一想,五年前,曼德拉的恐怖份子身份才被取消,他已经从南非总统的位子上下来,也就是说他任南非总统时,在世界第一大国美国的正式政府资料中,他还是一个恐怖份子。因此,这个替代声音的路有多么困难,要正名面对的困难重重。90岁时恐怖身份才被取消,95岁才能安然过世。这段路,有多少人能顺利走完呢?更不用说,在80年代之前,他所面对的困难有多深多大,以及在牢里度过20多年的日子。

孤独的替代声音之路

提出曼德拉的故事,就是要强调替代声音的路不好走,不管在世界任何地方,任何国家,因为,既得利益者会想尽各种方法来阻止替代声音的发出。80年代美国否决南非种族隔离政策,90年代曼德拉当选南非总统,再到2008年,曼德拉恐怖身份被取消,人生有多少个10年,曼德拉有9.510年,最后才被正名,获得伟人的认可。

因此,当我们看到人民行动党在嘲笑在野党,反对党的替代声音时,千万不要向80年代的里根总统那样,站在历史的错误位置上。我们应该多多想想,一个,两个,三个10年后,新加坡,亚洲,世界,会是一个什么情形,而往往提出异议,替代声音的人,都不会被现任的既得利益者认可,更多的是被认为是不利国家发展的人,甚至像曼德拉那样被认为是恐怖份子。这样的例子不是南非独有,我们新加坡还有被内安法拘留时间长过曼德拉的人,他们有获得正名的机会吗?

曼德拉的例子,让我们以更加宽容的心来看待替代声音,未必所有的替代声音是对的,但是,它们也未必全错,最错的恐怕是没有替代声音。所以,我们即使不支持也不能阻止网上的发言,我们要自由的发声,不论在社交媒体,还是在芳林公园。

《号召行动、迈向新程》以外的声音

人民行动党今天推出《号召行动、迈向新程》的新主题。很显然的希望人民继续支持行动党,让它继续执政下去。但是,我们更加应该听听替代的声音,不同的意见,不要让有声变无声。如果,没有曼德拉和他的同路人的坚持,或许,南非今天还是白人政权。或许,有其他的人替代曼德拉领导南非民权运动,但是,南非的改变在时间上会有所延后。

行动党已经号召新加坡人行动50多年了。行动党也已经领导新加坡迈向新程50多年了。借张志贤的一句话:What do you think? 你认为何如?行动50多年,新路50多年,行动党还有什么新点子?他还会有更多更新的新新行动和新新新程吗?这个答案就要由接下来的选举决定,选民接受还是不接受行动党的新行动和新新程。

珍惜替代的声音和意见

这几个星期,我们看到一些替代或者不同意见的人的遭遇。佘雪玲#4是一个。区伟鹏#5是另一个。在新加坡,替代声音的发言人往往都会遇到很多问题。我们要用什么眼光来看待他们呢?像行动党那样,容不下不同的声音呢?还是,支持鼓励他们,为他们加油打气,还是落井下石,笑他们太傻呢?竟然敢和行动党斗。

当行动党人坐在加冷剧场,高论 “Our New Way Forward: A Call to Action.” 时,这些行动党人的号召行动以及他们所谓的迈向新程,是否是新加坡人所期待的? 他们如果容不下不同的声音,不同的意见,又如何把新加坡领导到另外一个高峰,走向另一条新路。

事实上,行动党在曼德拉面前是很不好意思,很矛盾,很有说不出话来的情怀。因为,行动党在世人面前无法否定曼德拉,但又要像里根那样站在曼德拉的对立面。

曼德拉的故事,提醒我们更加珍惜我们自己的替代声音,发出替代声音的人的牺牲,我们如果一直以敌对的眼光,轻视的眼光,错误的眼光来看待不同的声音,我们也将会和里根一眼看走了眼。

在这里,让我们给曼德拉一个掌声,也给新加坡的替代声音一个掌声。要赢得掌声,替代声音的发言人真的要付出很大的代价,就像凤飞飞的掌声响起一样。



#1
政府的聲明透露曼德拉生前被問及他想如何紀念他時,他說:「我會留給所有南非人決定,我只希望有一塊簡單的石碑,刻上曼德拉之名。

#2 Veto override[edit]

Reagan's veto was overridden by Congress (by the Senate 78 to 21, the House by 313 to 83) on October 2.[13]In the Senate vote, all 47 Democrats were joined by 31 Republicans to override the veto; 21 Republicans voted to sustain the President's veto. This override marked the first time in the twentieth century that a president had aforeign policy veto overridden.[2] Apartheid opponents in America and South Africa applauded the vote, while critics argued that it would be either ineffectual or lead to more violence

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#4
本报向佘雪玲小姐道歉

#5
指区伟鹏博文藐视法庭 检署要求高庭批准申请拘禁令

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Thinking Questions, Tuition Questions and the Owl Questions

(The thinking questions of PSLE exam are mostly likely ended up as tuition questions at tuition centres.  Perhaps, more specialised tutors are needed for this niche market. Who say the government is not enterprising?  It is indirectly growing the industry. However, after all the thinking, the owl still cannot find his way out, why?)

The PSLE exam is now shifting to test thinking skills and how much learning a candidate obtains.  Ironically, these thinking questions will become the challenging questions for the tuition centres.  Each will compete with each to come out with the best solutions to the thinking questions.

So, the Ministry of Education is giving tuition centres another marketing tool for promoting themselves.  Really, do we need a tough and high standard of thinking questions to distinguish students?

An owl question
May I ask this funny question? When the owl flied into the office of the Prime Minister the other day, what was this bird thinking or did the owl do a thinking calculation at all before entering the Istana?  Oh!  This becomes a difficult and challenging question.  Perhaps, with his mathematical minds, our PM can give an answer on why the owl flied into his office.

The owl might think too hard on the route to the PMO but unfortunately she was not able to calculate the exit route. So, is the owl thinking inside or outside the box? Most likely the owl was thinking inside the box as she finally needed assistance to fly out of the Istana.

Challenging thinking questions
According to the Education Minister, this year PSLE examination questions are to test students’ thinking skills.  There are challenging questions to test the learning of a candidate: 
[Some of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) questions this year were crafted differently to guide the students’ thinking, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat revealed on Facebook today (Nov 22).
 “One small refinement we’ve made is to craft the more challenging exam questions in a way that lets our children show what they’ve learnt, while keeping the PSLE standard high,” wrote Mr Heng.] #1
What is the meaning of ‘keeping the PSLE standard high’?  If you want to score A*, you will have to solve these challenging exam questions.  Every school is a good school but not every school is equipped to solve the A* questions.  So, tuition centres come to the rescue.  

In fact, there are many young parents complaining about the difficult thinking questions of primary one or two. So, one can imagine how challenging are the PSLE questions? 

PSLE is a one-way thinking, just like the owl. http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/straitstimes.com/files/psl3110e.jpg
One-way thinking
I am afraid we are training students thinking only one side of the story, just like the flying owl thinking (inside the box) the one-way mission to the Istana.  After taking the one-way exam, the owl could not find a way out.

The owl must have proper education, not necessary taking challenging exam, about what is wrong or right at the first place.  It is wrong to enter a room without permission.  If you are a hacker or intruder, you will be arrested and charged in court. PSLE candidates should know about this before and after taking the exam.  Scoring A* is a one- way traffic and knowing the right and wrong is a two-way traffic.    

Still exam smart
Unfortunately, the schools focus too much on solving challenging questions.  The tuition centres and parents are also too busy preparing students for the exam. So, it ends up with students thinking inside the box – chasing the A*.  Once achieving A*, students go further into another exclusive narrow box in search of more A*.   

Primary school students should be free to think and have fun. Setting challenging questions to maintain high standard for PSLE is dividing ‘have’ and ‘haven’t’. No wonder some tuition teachers can become a millionaire who certainly can help the 'have' to solve the difficult exam questions. 
[Acknowledging that the school-leavers examination may sometimes be more pressurising than desired, he told parents to "find the right balance". He said: "We don’t want to have excessive pressure. Where there is, we have made adjustments, toned it down. But we must not compromise our strengths in developing our children and in preparing (them) for the world, which is going to be very competitive, and for (their) jobs, which will not be easy.”] #2
Preparing our students the high moral standard is far more important than solving the challenging exam questions.  The ‘right balance’ and ‘excess pressure’ that PM referred to is just solving the challenging questions and scoring between A* or A.  It has not solved the fundamental problem.   

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