Monday, 30 September 2013

Trading off PM Lee and/or the PAP in 2016?

Is there any difference between trading off PM Lee or the PAP?  Yes. There is a big difference. If you don’t like Lee Hsien Loong, as what he had suggested choosing between work and life, you can trade him off with another PAP leader. However, if you are not happy with the PM and the PAP, you can choose to trade-off both.  

Alternatively, if you still want the PAP to be in government and hesitate to trade off the PAP but are willing to trade off the PM, then, you may wait and see, and check out other Singaporeans whether they will go ahead to trade off the PAP government in the General Election 2016.

It is interesting to watch whether there will be a trade-off effect in Singapore politics. PM Lee suggests a trade-off in work-life balance. Singaporeans can also do the same trade-off between PM Lee and another person and/or an additional trade-off between political parties. 

So, the PAP has to think very carefully.  Which arrangement is preferred by the party?  Does it want to go along with PM Lee to be a trade-off item?

What is work-life balance or harmony?

In PM Lee’s opinion, work and life can be easily traded off.  There is a price to pay, especially our competitors will steal away our lunch. So, in his mathematical mind, it is a balancing act. You can’t have both and eat them all.

Before we discuss further, let take a look at Ministry of Manpower’s website for a clear explanation on work-life harmony: 

[Providing work-life friendly workplaces will result in a win-win situation for both employers and employees. Work-life friendly workplaces enable employees to balance their personal and work commitments. Employers who proactively support a work-life friendly environment will stand to benefit from having a more engaged and productive workforce. This will also help in attracting and retaining talent, especially in light of the tight labour market.]

PM Lee seems to suggest there is no win-win situation.  Of course, as Prime Minister, he can overwrite the MOM statement and give each of the three parties (employers, union and government) #1 a slap by promoting work-life balance without deep consideration of lunch box issues.

Is the PAP government serious about work-life harmony?

Has the PM’s position on work-life balance indicated the future work-life direction in Singapore?  How come the Tripartite has not voiced out their concerns?  Or, it is just like the Chinese saying: talking and doing moving into different direction. (讲一套做一套)The PM sees the stealing of lunch and MOM sees the win-win outcome.     
Perhaps, these are all usual practices and public policies of the PAP. You can apply the same logic to many other policies, e.g. housing (affordable flats), education (no tuition), transport (COE, ERP), etc.

New business model of inclusiveness – stockholders rather than shareholders

Work-life balance is not a winners-take-all arrangement. In fact, work-life harmony is a better explanation.  All parties involved acting like stockholders in a harmony environment. This is a new business model promoting social responsibility, inclusive society and community.

However, PM Lee looks only at the shareholders’ point of views, or even worst, from the investors’ view point.  It is not surprised he is so concerned about the ‘stealing of lunch’. He sees work-life as a cost factor rather than a social value creation.

Is there any empathy? He claims that he spent 20 years to learn how to be a PM.  After 20 years of learning and tuition he still cannot think out of the lunch box, should we trade him off?


Instead of stealing away your lunch, you can get a free pair of shoes! A new business model?

Friday, 27 September 2013

总理培训20年 不为优雅社会



为什么20年前没有说清楚,害得有些政治人物,有些国外报纸吃上官司。在现代民主政治中,用20年的时间指定安排总理人选,未来的接班人,很可能是一个纪录。尤其是有自由选举的政治社会, 这是非常突出的例子。因此,总理也认为将来的接班人没有他这么幸运。


1.   小心竞争者把你的午餐偷走。
2.   这是因特网上的一种风尚,一种流行。
3.   需要看清楚利与弊。

他难道不知道,在欧美国家,甚至亚洲一些先进地区,人们已经开始意识到工作和生活要平衡,生产力才会提高。你上网到人力部的网站看一下就知道是什么回事。很多企业要依靠它才能留住人才。因此,总理的人事管理理念,还是停留在80, 90年代,和他开始接受总理培训的时间刚好配合,这种脱节,脱离人事管理现实的培训,对新加坡有帮忙吗?我们的总理有与时并进吗?





"Even if you have a good person and if it is not known where he has come from, you have a problem. I was very, very lucky. I had twenty years apprenticeship before I took over as PM (Prime Minister). I don't think any other PM in Singapore is ever going to be as lucky as me."
"I think Singapore will have to get used to the idea that you have people come in, and you will have a leader who has not been there quite such a long time, so you have to operate in a different sort of way, but he can make it work."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has sought to inject some balance in the national preoccupation with work-life balance, warning Singaporeans that competitors are out to steal their lunch.
At a televised forum last night, he said the idea of work-life balance has become so popular it is now a tag phrase.
"They call it a meme on the Internet," he said, adding that people who used the phrase did not seem quite sure what they meant by it except that they would like more free time and less stress.
It was also not clear if people knew the trade-offs, he said.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Innovation Crisis or Mid-life Crisis for PAP?

[There is nothing wrong about adaptive creativity.  However, to create more values or high values, Singapore needs to have more innovative creativity.]  
Rather than talking about mid-life crisis, why don’t we consider innovation crisis for the People’s Action Party? Or in a wider definition, we, Singaporeans, are facing innovation crisis from education, political elections, employment, housing, health care to CPF and Temasek.

Two MIT Professors #1 think the US economy is facing innovation crisis that leads to slow or no growth. Hence, only real innovation can help to bring back the high growth#2 that will sustain the competitiveness of the USA in the world.

However, for the Singapore case, for easy understanding, I suggest we use another two terms: adaptive creativity (convergent thinking) and innovative creativity (divergent thinking).  We can then extend the term, creativity, to a broader definition which includes creativity, innovation and change. The following familiar examples from Singapore Inc. will help us understand why our mid-life crisis is, in fact, an innovation crisis.

Education vs. tuition

Adaptive creativity:
Our world class education system is in fact an adaptive creativity.  From streaming, PSLE, SAP schools, second language requirements to through train (IP program) and finally polytechnic and university education, all involve adaptive process. This process has helped our education system becomes more productive, efficient, and the final aim is to make every school a (standard) good school. 

Innovative creativity:
There is hardly any innovative creativity. The introduction of IB programs, liberal arts education, and even SUTD can hardly be considered real innovation. These are just copies and adaptive methods. The only innovation we may consider is tuition. This is an unofficial practice outside the official and formal education system.

Our education system is based on a tuition free system.  However, the tuition industry continues to grow, bigger and bigger days by days. The fact is even tuition cannot run away from the mainstream education system. It just adds values to PSLE, O and A Level examinations.

In a very strict definition, tuition is not an innovation.  It is just a by-product of our education system. 

Presidential and General Election

Adaptive creativity:
Our parliament system is not a new democracy process. However, the PAP has cleverly adapted the system to suit its own needs. GRC, non-constituency and nominated MPs, boundary redrawing, etc. are all adaptive creativity to keep the PAP in powers. 

The PAP has almost used up all adaptive creativity in GE to its advantages. However, it has failed to come out with good innovative creativity. SG Conversation, PM live on TV, use of Facebook, and Instagram.... etc. are not innovative ways to approach voters.   

Innovative creativity:
Presidential election can only be considered a half innovation. Every citizen has the right to vote in PE is better than many walkovers in the GE. However, an elected President with limited power is an uncompleted innovation. Perhaps, the PAP has anticipated the PE outcome will be less favourable for its proxy (e.g. PE2011) and so the innovated PE can only stop half way just to please Singaporeans that there is a second key to protect our reserve.  

Central Provident Fund

Adaptive creativity:
Again, CPF is not a new thing. However, the PAP has adapted it very well. So, now we have Ordinary, Special (retirement), and Medisave accounts. You can use these monies under many well-structured (control) schemes for housing, medical, and retirement planning. It is so efficient and productive and yet complicated until not everyone knows the true operations and its meaning.

Innovative creativity:
The only innovation may be is how the PAP moves the CPF monies away from its original purpose and meaning. From 55 to 62 withdrawal age, from its original aim of retirement to fund for housing (investment), MSM, these are all methods to keep the monies in government’s hands.

These are arguable innovations and can be considered as another type of adaptive creativity.  This is a clever way to keep people’s monies (for Temasek and GIC investment) but not an innovative way to help people to maximum returns.

We can continue to expand the examples to housing, health care, transport, etc. In all these examples, there are no real innovations. Almost all of them are adaptive creativity and not innovative creativity.  This is why Singapore is efficient, productive and fine under adaptive creativity. But to go to a higher level (and to help the lower income and disadvantaged), innovative creativity is needed.

Hence, we are now facing the challenge of innovation crisis even though age is catching up with us to the mid-life.

Inside Real Innovation: How the Right Approach Can Move Ideas from R&D to Market - And Get the Economy Moving, written by our instructors Eugene Fitzgerald and Andreas Wankerl, along with Carl Schramm. World Scientific Publishing.

If innovation only leads to high growth and without considering environment, moral, cultural and other factors, will the outcome really brings benefits to human beings?  

Saturday, 21 September 2013



我们通过补习精神打败世界一流的新加坡教育制度,这可是一项大突破。因此,如果,我们改变态度,以补习精神来学习母语,或许,我们真的能够一举克服学习母语的难关, 又再一次取得胜利。




如果我们的教育制度是不需要补习的,那么,我们的每一所学校,都应该是好的。Every school is a good school. 补习精神的体现,就证明每一所学校不是 a good school。因此,学生和家长希望通过补习来进入他们认为的好学校。









为何会出现这么样的认知失调?行动党政府说不要补习,补习不重要,不是我国教育的一部分。但是,人们普遍上不这么认为, 还支持补习的正当性,合法性和合理性。到底是行动党认知失调还是我们人民?


# 空置的选票箱,一旦开箱后,就是非管制品,这个认知对吗?

# 内安法不是用来对付政治上的反对者,这个认知对吗?

# 外交事务不应该政治化,应该继续由行动党来主导,这个认知对吗?

# 总理的接班人,由行动党来主导,这个认知你同意吗?

# 新加坡的成就,归功于一个人,这个认知你同意吗?




那么,行动党有没有可能超越这个认知失调,看清楚人民的真正需求呢?你问我,我问谁呢?不是说行动党现在是处于中年危机吗?认真的说应该是创新危机 如何摆脱过去的旧框框,放弃过去的家天下,过着和老百姓一样的生活,才能渡过危机。


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

From Cake Box to Ballot Box, Everything is Fine?

Yes.  All are fine.

According to Education Minister Heng Swee Kiat the cake box is a ‘total dedication to country’ and we need to emulate it. As for the ballot box, ‘the life of the ballot box ceases when the seal is broken’ based on the reply of Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament. #

Everything is fine before the box is open whether it is a box of 90th birthday cake or a ballot box of voting papers.  According to Chan, ‘the life of a box starts once the box is sealed.’  The life of the box ends when it is open.

So, the PAP’s philosophy is not to open the box.  Once you open the PAP’s box either by accident or by voting, the PAP will have to end its life.

When we look at the mainstream reports of Lee Kuan Yew’s 90th birthday, the tribute in the Parliament and a special conference under Lee Kuan Yew etc. is this situation before or after the box is open?  Are we still thinking within the box? And are we afraid to open up the box to prepare a post-LKY era?

No wonder Lee Hsien Loong dared not open the box, he entrusted the duty to Chan to reply on his behalf in Parliament. Chan is not a minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office. And yet he has the honour to reply on behalf of the Prime Minister.  No wonder people call the newly promoted minister a potential future PM.

Let look at the cake box again.  What are inside the box?

Foreign policy cannot be ‘tool of partisan politics’# so only the PAP can touch the foreign affairs. No wonder no foreign visitors call on oppositions in Singapore.

Panelists discuss LKY’s use of defamation lawsuits and ISA.#  After the conference and discussion, the box of defamation lawsuits and ISA still cannot be opened.  These are still useful tools for the PAP in running Singapore.    

Because the box is a total dedication to Singapore, it cannot be opened by relaxing defamation lawsuits, ISA, one man intelligence agency, and even cleaning of toilets. The PAP will fight all the ways to make sure all boxes in a sealed position, not to be opened even after the passing of LKY.

What can Singaporeans do to open the box?

One natural way is by the ballot boxes.

But even that Chan said the police investigation so far shows no related offence.  The most he can suggest is to tighten ballot box handling. This is the standard ‘within the box’ replies of the PAP.   

It is not sure for what reason this important reply in Parliament is not personally given by the Prime Minister while he is not out of Singapore for official duty. He in fact was in Singapore and personally witnessing the cutting of the 90th birthday cake in Parliament. Is he intentionally or unintentionally avoid answering the ballot box question? Has he shown his respect to this very serious matter?  Or is he too afraid that Singaporeans use the ballot box to demand more and demand for change?  

From the 90th birthday books and reports to the explanation of ballot box, all show the unwillingness for change from the PAP side. They want to keep their golden era despite the passing of time.

One wonders how long can it last. The PAP cannot forever stop the opening of the cake box.  The PAP too cannot prevent change by ignoring the demand of the people through ballot boxes.  The right to vote is a duty of citizens and you can make a change and break the box.

# Today, 17 September 2013   

Saturday, 14 September 2013





















Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Chinese Translation Shows the Ugly Side of the PAP

free and reliable translation?

The problem of Chinese translation gets into another embarrassment and another dilemma for the People’s Action Party again! This time it is the turn of National Heritage Board #1 and its museums. They simply use Google to do the translation and pretend that everything is ok and readable in ‘standard, normal and acceptable’ Chinese.

This is not the first time and will certain not the last time the PAP engaging in this type of embarrassment and dilemma. Instead of blaming NHB for the mistakes, the real root problem in fact is the PAP’s mindset behind the whole issue.

In one way or another, it is a display of the mindsets, attitudes and mentalities of the PAP. Let me explain it with some examples.

Double Standard

If you recall not long ago, there was a clarification of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Lee Hsien Loong’s speech in Tokyo and the ministry even criticized the Chinese media –Global Times#2.  The clarification statement is in both English and Chinese. The readable and understandable Chinese in the statement, of course, is not translated directly from Google.  

Oh! One may conclude the MFA has a fat budget and NHB has no manpower and budget to do the translation.  Furthermore, the MFA statement is a piece of official document and representing the state viewpoint on a particular issue. While the NHB translation is a local issue and perhaps caters only to local and foreign visitors visiting our museums.  So, NHB’s Chinese translation is less important and can be handled lightly.  

Do you see the double standard here? One is official and the target audience is foreign government and the other one is less official and targeting less important people. Foreign against local, foreign is treated better.  

If we cannot handle well and emphasize on small things in the beginning, what will be the consequence later? This is the problem of the Chinese translation and bilingualism education here. From a very small mistake, we allow (and agree) it to happen.  When it becomes a norm, then we say only a small percentage of population can master two languages. Not only that, we further allow the situation to deteriorate and coming out with all kinds of excuses and solutions (e.g. Chinese B).

If we sidetrack a bit to the foreign talents and population issues, we will see this ‘double standard’ clearly display in government publication and the population white paper. The PAP has itself created this ‘double standard’ either intentionally or unintentionally. Singaporeans in general are not anti-foreigners. We know and understand the contribution of foreigners to our economy. However, because of the PAP’s intentional or unintentional ‘double standard’, just like the case of Chinese translation, they are not able to solve small local issues. If they have looked at the issues of lower income groups, housing, health care and education 10 or 20 years ago, then our society will not be so divided and ends up appearing like so anti-immigration.  

Cheap and good value creation

By using Google translation, NHB is showing people they are engaging in cheap and good service. And they believe Google can give them the value, accuracy and even efficiency that they are looking for.    

Unfortunately, this turns out to be a big mistake. This practice in fact works against the PAP meritocracy principle.  The PAP believes in paying high reward high return, not cheap ministers. Now, NHB is saying value creation can be very cheap, even free, and yet good.  Where can we find such a good deal in the world?

Perhaps, this is a general belief in the minds of the PAP. Hence, we can find similar Chinese translation problems in NHB, in some public organizations and services, in some town councils, or even in some university activities in Singapore.  

NHB’s case is not an isolated incident!   

So, this is another type of double standard. We demand cheap goods and services but refuse to pay a little more. This is the case of the stagnation of wages of lower income workers in the past 10 years. We expect them to work harder with no hope of pay increase as their productivity has not improved.  

PAP mentality results to
Lack of competitive and qualified bilingual workers

This mentality of dependence on cheap things has a long term effect. First, we are not able to produce relative cheap and qualified bilingual workers to even edit or verify the Google contents.  Second, even we can import foreign talent to do the job, due to local cultural difference; the translation still needs further editing and improvements.  

Third, the most frightening consequence is we are educating and producing future generations of Singaporeans with no respect of our own culture and value.  Since Google can do the work without a fee, why then should we learn and study mother tongues?

This is the cost we are now paying for the “Right Politics, Right Economics” policy of the PAP. We will have to pay even more in future if these PAP mindsets continue.  




Friday, 6 September 2013




















The state's attitude can be simply put: being poor here is your own fault. Citizens are obliged to save for the future, rely on their families and not expect any handouts from the government unless they hit rock bottom. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Unique Chinese Dilemma In Singapore

Should English become the mother tongue for Singaporean Chinese? To some, this is not a question. For many young kids growing up in an English environment, perhaps this is a funny question as they are so used to think everything in English and even consider themselves a product of ‘English’.  It is a known secret that some kids hate Chinese in schools.

However, I am not talking about this type of dilemma. This man-made dilemma is of course a product of the People’s Action Party. It certainly shows the effectiveness of our bilingualism education as well as our bi-cultural programs. And in fact, the PAP government only wants the top 10% or 20% of students to be bilingual and bi-cultural. So, the majority of younger generation of local born Singaporeans will need to master English only.  

For the continuation and maintenance of local Chinese language, culture and tradition, the burden has to go to this top 10-20% people plus a few more Singaporeans who are interested on these subjects. The rest of Singaporean Chinese will have less association or contact with their father’s or grandfather’s culture, customs and tradition.   

This is the current dilemma and perhaps a small one comparing to the future one.

Will we be eating more of this in future? 
Will we be eating less of this in future?

Will Chinese language and culture die off in future Singapore?  The answer is no.  This is why I call it a unique dilemma and perhaps it can only take place in Singapore. We will likely to see a diluted original (Southern Chinese Guangdong and Fujian) Singapore Chinese culture joining an expanded and ‘overall’ Chinese culture from different regions of China.

And this more representative or well represented Chinese culture may be too alien or too foreign to some Singaporeans, not to mention speak-only English Singaporeans.  This is why we hear the comment of ‘we are like staying in a Chinese city’?

Yes, indeed this is emerging.  Even though we don’t have the official figure of non-locally born Chinese in Singapore, it is easy to estimate the figure by just using the racial ratio of 75% Chinese. For 5 million populations, we will have 3.75 million Chinese. For 6.9 million populations, we will have 5.18 million Chinese.  To make up this figure, a lot of them will have to come from China as our birth rate is too low.

The bigger dilemma will be we will have a very different Chinese culture in Singapore - a different culture that even Chinese educated Singaporeans may find it difficult to adjust and adapt.  When the Chinese educated Singaporeans become an extinct, we will then see an even bigger social divide: a speak English only population and a part-bilingual part-Mandarin speaking population.

This is unique because our own Chinese culture (or is there one remaining?) is being transformed by a bigger and more powerful Chinese culture coming from all over China.  The PAP government likes to see this happening as we can have all business connections all over China. But can Singapore as a whole handle the situation well?  The elites may think so in pure economic terms but what about the larger population.   

This is very different from the USA, UK or France. You can find Chinatowns in New York, London or Paris; however, the individual country still maintains their own culture and language even the size of Chinese population grows.   

It is an interesting development and the drama has just begun. The issue goes beyond whether Singaporeans are anti-foreigners or not.  Certainly, it also goes beyond the question of whether we should consider English as our mother’s tongue. When the wise man of bilingualism goes into history, will he also bring along this dilemma with him?

If not, the future generation of Singaporeans whether born or not born in Singapore will have to think a way out to solve this dilemma. Perhaps, this will make us stronger and become a reformed Singapore re-emphasizing our past!


Just some updates on statistics on weibo accounts in Singapore from There are 1.5 million registered accounts and 800,000 daily active members.

据报道,受委负责新加坡微博业务公司Trends Media的Jimmy Li说,新加坡在新浪微博注册用户数排名第四,拥有150万注册用户,每天有80万活跃用户。虽然大部分新加坡人在使用Facebook、Twitter、Instagram,他说该公司并非与这些平台竞争,而是要抢占使用中文者的市场(约三分之一新加坡人口)。新浪微博计划覆盖新加坡三分之一人口,达到200万注册用户和150万日活跃用户。 - See more at: