Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014年行动党进一步加深与人民的代沟,信心信任下降。



岁末,李总理在脸书上引日本为例子,提醒国人不要出现老年人和年轻人之间的代沟。他说,日本年轻人不满意他们需要为老年人的福利和医药付出财务负担,而老年人却抱怨年轻人没有孝心和同情心。

总理的话,其实是老调重弹。行动党一路来都不愿意为国人的福利,医药付出,同时,一直不断提醒国人,人口老化的结果是年轻人要付出更多的财务负担。日本的例子,正好给总理看到,就加以发挥。这当然是可以理解的。

新加坡年轻人和老年人是否出现,总理所谓的代沟,冲突,矛盾等问题?过去的一年里,老年人有没有对年轻人的无理不满?年轻人有没有对老年人不满?年轻人有没有对建国一代,乐龄人士获得政府的津贴而不满?还是行动党,政府有意无意的想要激化冲突,想要稳住老年选民的票,为固票而出的花招。

2014年,行动党不但没有做到凝聚国人,加强人们的归属感,反而是令老年人更加不满,年轻人更加生气,从公积金,人口问题,外来人才,医药,组屋,到部长薪金和就业机会,似乎都令人失望。再加上一些部长和议员的言论,失言,狡辩,更是令人大失所望。

2014年,不是老年人和年轻人出现代沟,而是行动党,行动党政府和人民出现代沟,渐行渐远。难怪,人民对行动党的信心,信任一直在下降,这才是所谓的代沟,人民与行动党的代沟。

回顾2014年,行动党的所作所为是进一步加深人民间的代沟,进一步分化人民。老年人在建国50中分到一些蛋糕,2015年新生的婴儿有红包,一系列的庆祝建国50的活动,似乎人人有份,却又好像不是人人都有蛋糕,红包。是否如此,你问一问自己,就知道了。

2014年年头,行动党企图推出民主社会主义的口号,希望与人民共同享受,这些年来国家所取得的成就,因此,改良了公积金的使用,医药保护,建国一代的配套等等。但是,这些所谓的改良和改进,都是建立在不透明,不公开的背景下。人民问公积金储备金,海外投资的问题,行动党顾左右而言他。

最令人奇怪的是,总理还跑到英国,大谈反对党玩假球,根本不是要做替代政府,而是利用那个假球现象,来获得更多选票。到了年底,他又说反对党根本组不成政府,选民要三思,接下来的大选是行动党的生死存亡,当然也就是新加坡的生死存亡,因为,反对党没有人才管好新加坡。因此选民需要三思,一旦反对党执政,新加坡很可能出现何去何从的问题。这是分化选民,恐吓选民,还是行动党的自我顾虑?

2014年还有一些怪现象,体育场竟然种不出野草。第一世界国家,竟然出现鼠患。新加坡生活费高,说的是在这里居住的外国人,和本地老年人,年轻人无关。当然,还有生产力必须走在加薪前面的老调。在这一年里,我们还看到总理第一次告博客,而芳林公园却出现小对抗,人民发声管道进一步受到管制。

总理也在国庆群众大会上,要求人民改变思维,做出文化转向。但是,真正的改变,恐怕是何光平的预言,行动党在15年内,将会失去一党独大的专利,无论喜欢还是不喜欢,这个改变的趋势,已经开始了。

这个改变不是总理说的老年人和年轻人的代沟问题,而是行动党和人民之间出现代沟问题。行动党依据本身50,60年管理新加坡的经历,继续老方法管理新加坡,当然会出现与人民的代沟问题。

当行动党离人民越来越远的时候,它的得票就下跌,它的一党独大地位将不保。因此,行动党和人民之间的代沟才是问题所在,年轻人和老年人的代沟,只是行动党和总理拿来做借口,试图再度改变历史,蒙蔽人民的视线。在新的一年里,我们可要看清楚,如果真的有投票的选择,那可要做出真正的改变。

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Unlicensed Trade Fair, SCCCI recommendations and Entrepreneurship in Singapore


[SCCCI pre-budget recommendations show very little entrepreneurship. It looks like a government statement. No wonder strange things such as unlicensed trade fair can take place in Singapore. It is also not surprise to learn that a local elected administration was caught committing a crime of illegal trade fair.]  

Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a representative of Chinese businesses in Singapore. In the past 50 years, it has not only lost the representation status but also the enterprise spirit. Now, the key players in our economy is either Government-linked companies (GLCs) or multinational companies.


Local businesses have to depend on government’s grants, assistance, and projects to grow as shown in the SCCCI recommendations. SCCCI Pre-Budget 2015 Survey#1 indicates members want further widen coverage of Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) and Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV) schemes; adjustments to foreign workers policy; more consultation; funding; and more projects from GLCs to build track records.


It sounds very ‘government’. Views of the pre-budget survey are inline with government’s policy: productivity, foreign workers, consultation, track records and then world-class enterprises.


It lacks some kinds of imaginations and certainly it is short of entrepreneurship. In the past 50, 60 years, the PAP government has made local businesses less creative but easier to control. The focus of economic growth is not local enterprises, just like the political development here. The PAP government wants a direct control of the economy through GLCs. It is not interested in developing local entrepreneurship.


When you look at the telecommunication or transport sectors, it is just a GLC market competition. Even you are the best run bank like the Overseas Union Bank in the market, you can't escape the fate of merger with another bank. In order to build up the capital base, the government would agree with the merger of POSB into DBS. What kind of entrepreneurship is this? To create the largest property company in Southeast Asia, the government just needs to merge the property businesses under its control from different statutory boards and GLCs.


When our political development enters the new normality and reality, local businesses have to  
re-look and re-consider their roles in the economy. Business recommendations look more like a government statement are not acceptable.   


Entrepreneurship dares to be different.


When Nanyang University and Ngee Ann College were established in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, they did not have official recognition and status. There was no legislation approval and they operated like a ‘limited’ company. Some may consider they are failures. But their fighting and entrepreneurship spirit is forever remembered. Which business has no failure except GLCs? Few democratic elections in the world have some many walk-overs that candidates do not need to face the voters.


After 20 years of political development, the opposition run town council has now grown from a small business to medium-size enterprise. They
are now managing a budget of multi-million dollars instead of managing million dollars budget in the past. When the PAP loses two-thirds majority in the parliament, the opposition run town council will have a billion dollar budget. This is a possible new normal.

Like in business, the PAP wants to play the GLC card and GLC type of competition in setting up GRCs and redrawing electoral boundary. They try to do a GLC in politics. The current unlicensed trade fair is just another PAP game play. 

However, there is a clear difference between politics and business here in Singapore. Political entrepreneurship and creativity seems to move ahead of business development. Strange?   
What a surprise it is! Perhaps, politics involves more people, more voters and different interests. Businesses are simple profit and loss issues. If you give me grants, incentives, projects, funding, I will continue to support you. Of course, I will also depend on your kindness for survival, growth and to become a world-class enterprise. This is a reality of the past.


It is time for local business leaders to think about their new roles in a smart economy that has sophisticated and complicated voters. The PAP can not guarantee a perfect landing. It have made mistakes in the past, politically and economically. Local businesses must also watch the political development closely. When the opposition has a billion dollar budget, do you want to take their projects as your track records? Oh! Billion dollar projects! It is not a small play anymore.  

Despite all odds and formation obstacles, Nantah was registered as a limited company - running education like a business. Is this a creative entrepreneurship? photo: google#2

#1


#2 photo

Monday, 22 December 2014

生产力放一边,安倍经济学要企业为员工加薪。行动党 会怎么说?


【安倍闪电大选后,在记者会上#1承诺要企业给员工涨工资,他并没有提到生产力一定要提高,这和人民行动党的说法背道而驰。安倍为何要这么说,而且,加薪还是决定安倍经济学成功的要素,这简直是和行动党的经济学完全相反。我们如何解读?】


事实上,安倍经济学,提醒我们替代方案、替代政府的重要性。

失落超过20年,日本经济不见好转,甚至需要提前大选,来延续、完成下一个安倍经济学,重整日本经济。这意味着,在日本的民主制度下,一党独大再好,也会出现问题。二次大战后,自由民主党一直垄断日本政治,中间只出现短暂的政权流失。

因此,日本战后的经济成败,自民党是不能推掉责任,更不能说失落的年代、泡沫经济和它无关。正因为,日本人认为自民党是唯一的依靠,即使认为安倍经济学是失败的,还是要含泪投票支持。而日本反对党的积弱,提不出替代方案,更加深问题的严重性,一个烂苹果比没有苹果好?

安倍经济学给新加坡人的提示是,当我们有选择,而在野党肯献身,为国家服务时,这种难得的机会,我们是不可以错过的。我们不能保证新加坡不会出现失落的年代,而我们一旦出现失落年代,日子将比日本人还要痛苦,日本毕竟是一个很大的经济体,有一定的工业,科技基础,创新和团体精神。新加坡的贫富问题,小经济,如果遇到失落年代,中下层人民的日子将不堪设想,

日本的失落年代,起源于80年代末的泡沫经济,日元高涨,企业有钱,到处高价收购房地产,国内大量消费,产业价格高不可攀。相对比较,新加坡企业没有这样的豪气,但是,我们的公积金局,储备,淡马锡,政府投资公司,却是很阔气,每年国家收入,通过主权基金的方式,在国外进行大手笔的投资和收购行为。事实证明,经过多次金融风暴,我们的海外投资的确损失惨重。甚至到现在都没有恢复元气。因此,公积金的回报问题,管理问题,一直是人民关心的事情。同时,要求政府透明,公开有关公积金的投资细节。

是不是一党独大的民主政治,就会出现失落年代?而欧美的经济,在经常出现替代政府的情形下,也只不过比日本好一点。欧洲甚至也有可能陷入失落年代。因此,我们似乎在比较一个独大的烂苹果和两个烂苹果之间的好处和坏处。是否真的如此?还是这是东方日本民主和西方民主的差别?大和民族寻求一个整体的单一的民族团结,在没有外来人才的背景下,自我更新,发展,找出路。因此,不需要一个替代方案和政府的更替,来完成国家的持续性增长。这其实是很牵强的解释,当然,这个想法符合行动党。人民行动党为了继续一党独大,当然要搬出来,以日本为例,高调告诉新加坡选民,只有行动党才是新加坡的救世主,唯有行动党才能领领导新加坡向前迈进。

行动党是不可替代的?

在行动党的妖魔化下,新加坡在野党是没有能力管好新加坡的。他们提不出有效的方案,对政府行政也不熟悉,对国际大事,更加一无所知。行动党勾画出来的在野党,真的是如此不行吗?这不是和自民党一样,只有自民党行,别人不行。如果真的是如此,为何日本会失落20年?如果安倍经济学第二版失效,日本将会失落30年。泡沫经济时,自民党做政府,失落年代和现在还是自民党做政府,如果自民党真的有办法,失落10年就应该恢复元气了。

我们看回新加坡。行动党治理新加坡政治,经济,社会的药方,已经开始失效了。我们的问题比以前更加艰巨和困难,而行动党依然活在旧框框里,拿着过去50年的药方来为新加坡持续增长,这不是和自民党一样吗?

再加上,我们在处理问题的态度,团队精神上,不如日本。因此,一旦出现失落现象,将会变成一场危机。

所以,行动党不是新加坡的唯一。这个立论,只会加速加深新加坡走向失落年代的风险,只有一个强大的制衡和替代政府能降低这个风险。

新加坡为何不同,需要替代政府。

新加坡在这一点上和日本不一样。我们是一个多元种族,文化和语言的社会。我们有比较多的可能性。我们的部分居民在国家遇到困难的时候,很可能远走高飞,不会像日本人那样留下来死守。相对来说,我们也比日本缺少东方传统和国民团结。自发运动,社会原动力也远不如日本。

因此,我们需要一种和日本不一样的治国方式。日本式的一党独大的民主政治,不适用于新加坡。不单是我们比日本更加西化,而是我们比日本更加需要制衡,替代政策的出现。制衡和替代声音,将能刺激行动党,端出更加好的牛肉,不然,新加坡将会和日本一样,只有一个安倍经济学,一个行动党经济学。

日本曾经出现短暂的替代政府,结果失败。我们不能否定替代政府的再度出现。安倍晋三提早大选,就是要延续第二个安倍经济学,如果再次失败,或者在野党痛定思痛后,找到一个替代方案,替代政府再度出现也是有可能的。

安倍经济学要涨工资,行吗?

安倍晋三在闪电大选胜利后,提出要为日本雇员涨工资,在经济困难的时候涨工资?为什么?在新加坡,我们的口号是生产力不提高,涨工资免谈。为何安倍晋三要违背这个经济原理?
安倍说,在他领导下虽然企业盈利高、股价高;但是,对于人民来说,却没有得到好处。竞选期间,他在全国走动,看到普通市民和小企业很痛苦,物价和原料价上涨,对他们造成很大的压力。
(欧巴马也有类似的例子:如提高最低工资,合法化非法移民,增加消费。)
安倍的话用在新加坡也一样适用。新加坡底层员工的薪金,已经10多年没有涨了。最近才看到微调。而且,不管是政府,行动党,还是工会,开口闭口,一定要和生产力沟在一起。加薪的前提是生产力必须先提高,不然免谈。

那么,为何安倍认为生产力和加薪可以脱沟呢?企业可以不理生产力,而给雇员加薪呢?一方面当然是盈利高,应该分一些给雇员。另一方面和消费有关。在上一篇博文中,提到新加坡经济是依靠不断的消费来提高增长率,刺激物价,房价和企业盈利。而新加坡的消费,尤其是高消费,其实是依靠外来的消费和本地高收入人群的消费做到的。和日本的小企业和普通市民一样,在这个消费过程中,新加坡小市民没有得到好处,反而很痛苦。

安倍认为加薪有利于他的经济学,因为整个日本的消费,如果只是赚钱的企业和有钱人在玩,大部分日本人没有参与,就像大部分人不参与投票,对安倍经济学冷感,那么,整体日本经济将推不上来。到时,安倍只好下台,日本再失落,进入第三个失落的10年。这听起来很可怕,失落,沉默30年。

过去20年来,尤其是李显龙任总理后,新加坡经济增长一直很亮眼,但是,普通市民并没有得到好处;房价,物价,医药费用等,都是人民的痛苦指数。因此,普通市民在全国的消费比重处于低水平,安倍其实在推出安倍经济学第一版时,已经看到这一点,但是,他还是无法做到加薪的目的。因此,只好再度承诺,并且加码和安倍经济学的成败连在一起。

看到问题,做出承诺,安倍晋三也不一定能够完成安倍经济学的使命。

在新加坡,行动党还是死死的捉住生产力为先的先决条件,忽视普通市民的消费能力。因此,我们必须要有替代方案,替代政府的准备。不然,失落年代的风险将会增加。而新加坡的长治久安,持续增长,比以前将有着更大的变数。


#1
http://www.wsj.com/articles/japans-abe-vows-to-increase-wages-1418624998

Mr. Abe acknowledged at a news conference that higher stock prices and corporate profits under his administration have yet to translate into worker gains.
“As I toured around the nation during the election, I heard the opinions of ordinary citizens who are suffering from price increases and small-business owners in difficulties due to price hikes in raw materials,” Mr. Abe said, adding that he will draft an economic stimulus package by the end of the year.
For the second year in a row, the conservative prime minister and his historically pro-business Liberal Democratic Party find themselves in the position of imploring corporations to cut into their profits and give workers more. Mr. Abe said he would summon executives and labor leaders to a meeting Tuesday to make his pitch ahead of next spring’s annual wage talks.

Monday, 15 December 2014

PAP is like an iPhone 3, an oldie.

SG50 is a singing oldie, recalling the good old days, the Kampung spirit, the Hokkien platoons, the Mata Mata etc. Just look at the Pioneer Package, the goodies for senior citizens, the so-called CPF relax, oh, how ‘oldie’ it is!   
  
The PAP always claims that oldie is good as old horse can find the way when Singapore needs direction. However, the PAP old horse will miss the Way (of justice and fairness) when Singapore becomes a smart nation. Even before becoming a smart nation, Singaporeans have already defined the PAP as an oldie, an iPhone 3. Today, when you give people iPhone 5, they will ask for iPhone 6 instead. Just heard over the radio, a father gives his son an iPhone 6 as birthday present.  

The PAP old horse also wants Singaporeans to love Singapore. The oldie is love Singapore = love PAP. This is why SG50 wants to sing the oldie, perhaps using iPhone 3 technology.


I have to re-use my iPhone 3 as my new smartphone was out of use. In many ways, iPhone 3 is still a good smartphone - reliable and workable even we enter the era of 4G technology.  It is like the PAP. You can’t deny its functionality and workability but fashionable and trendiness. However, my iPhone 3 needs SIM card adapter, has battery problem and it is not so smart when comes to wechat. Selfie is not possible too.

The PAP says they work like horse for the good of Singapore. They work hard so they demand high compensation. They believe they are the only one in Singapore can do the delivery. Oh, no, even Apple does not dare to say they are the only smartphone company in the world.

However, Singapore has changed. Carrying an iPhone 3 or driving an old E200 horse is out of fashion, especially for the younger generation. This is like the PAP, like PM Lee, always presenting their rigid mentality. Even for election date, the reply is so rigid. The PAP says they have solution for Singapore and the oppositions have no policy, no vision at all.

People want options. They not only want iPhone 6, new upgraded E250, they also want other brands of smartphones and cars. This is the world of consumers. This is the capitalist market system that consumption is the key profitable factor. And the PAP has been educating Singaporeans this in the past 50 years - make money and spend. They relax the use of CPF money so that they can increase consumption in property market, health-care services, insurance and investment.

How can we ignore the consumption trend in political competition? How can we prevent market competition and prevent it from spreading to general election? In fact, this expansion in Singapore takes place very late as compared to emerging economies and other countries when their middle class emerges. The PAP has cleverly delayed this expansion to political front. And now it is Singapore’s turn.

Perhaps, PM Lee wants to call a snap election like PM Abe of Japan. The LDP and partner easily get two-thirds majority in the lower house because of a weak and unprepared oppositions. It is a dream election result that the PAP is looking for - no worry about who forms the government.  

Will PM Lee do this as no one is expecting it will come so soon? He can then continue to sell his iPhone 3 and oldie solutions to Singaporeans, like the Abenomics to Japanese voters. It is really a wonderful dream even they don't believe Abenomics, Japanese voters still vote for LDP!

Monday, 8 December 2014

行动党终于承认,白云过后是晴天。


【三春过后,繁华尽。行动党最终还是要面对严重挑战。因此,把来临大选定位为非常严重的选举。何谓三春?李光耀,吴作栋,李显龙是也。不过,行动党狭义的把白云过后定义为黑云密布,雷雨交加,威胁并恐吓,一个没有行动党的新加坡,将会是一个没有方向的国家。选民是否认同这个说法?】

台湾地方选举的蓝天变绿地,很可能让李总理睡不着觉。因此,在行动党大会上,他不能不承认,下一次的大选,不是在野党获得多少议席的问题,而是谁出来做政府的问题。谢谢他把来临的大选,提高到这么高的层次。这也意味着,行动党有可能失去政权。白云过后将出现晴天,艳阳天,不是风云汹涌,失去方向的新加坡。

白云是不能永远逗留在天上,不飘走的;晴天,太阳,终于要出头,要和人民见面,要照射大地。行动党独霸新加坡政治,一党独大的白云,将要被民主之风吹走,而国内外,人民对民主的诉求,对制衡的期待,对社会不公的新认识,年轻人的不满,这些发展对行动党都极为不利,这些事实,都让行动党感到害怕,危机感日益加深。

李总理最希望能够像安倍晋三那样,主要在野党民主党无法组成一支团队和他的自民党对抗。同时,选举期不像台湾那样长,让在野党可以有足够的时间,几个月,甚至一两年的时间来准备大选。行动党的三春已经过去了。有利的历史条件和时代背景,渐行渐远。这是行动党的挑战,它却把挑战说成是人民的挑战。

我们在分析台湾这次九合一选举的结果,往往忽略两个因素。而把焦点集中在年轻人不满,国民党和民意脱节,施政失败,马英九领导无能等等。这些背景因素,行动党和国民党类似。

努力,十年耕耘
民进党在台中,桃园,一个是十年耕耘,另一个也有10个月的耕耘。天下没有免费的午餐,对手犯错是一回事,本身的努力,更是取得胜利的原因。选举的准备期太长,对执政党不利,这点安倍晋三明白,行动党和李总理当然明白。以往,行动党除了选区划分取得优势外,选举辩论不全面和准备不充足,都对在野党不利。

因此,新加坡在野党,如果要取得突破,就要提早做好准备。新加坡民主党已经把2015定位为选举年,过了年,就开始有所行动了。国人为先党也到丹戎巴葛和宏茂桥集选区走动。选举这条路,是一场持久战,对于新加坡在野党来说,越早准备,就越能取得成绩。

工人党方面,除了在国会发声外,媒体还给与免费宣传,环境局把工人党管理的市镇会告上法庭,国家发展部认为工人党市镇会账目不清,这些免费的负面新闻,行动党支持者看到心花怒放,选民是否认同,造成反效果?这里举一个不相干的例子,高雄气爆后,陈菊的得票却大幅度的增加,这代表了什么?行动党本身没有做好榜样,却想要处心积虑的找对手的痛脚,大事加以发挥,选民看在眼里,心里面自然就更加不爽。

2011年大选的统计数据显示,新加坡东部选区将会出现激战。这或许是李总理认为,非常严重的,面对挑战最大的地方。简单的分析,东部选区的平均在野党得票率是45%,主要是工人党竞选的选区。这些选区已经不是第一次出现竞选,选民已经习惯和在野党打交道,只要不断努力,肯定会有所突破。

而在新加坡西部选区,在野党得票在40%或以下的地区,怎么办?还是一句老话,努力耕耘。民主党,国人为先党,提早准备大选是对。民进党在台湾桃园,基隆和外岛地区的胜出,和持续性的努力奋战,花长时间的耕耘有关。

大气候对在野党有利,但是,不努力的在野党,还是很难取得50.1%的选票。除非是只是在于参与,不是在于中选,那就另当别论了。

候选人的素质

中国大陆在报道台湾九合一选举成绩时,也把中选人的教育背景和资历报上。(http://baike.baidu.com/subview/12766623/13248191.htm#3)
这些背景资料显示,国民党,民进党和独立人士的中选人,他们的素质都不相上下,你很难说谁比谁好,哪一个党的候选人比较优秀。

虽然,我们不应该过于重视文凭,但是,候选人的素质也不可以太差。这点,行动党非常在意,因此,连行动党的基层也表示不满,要行动党多派出一些基层领袖代表行动党出征。无论如何,行动党在下一次大选,还是会派出他们认为‘高素质’的候选人。

新加坡的在野党,在最近的大选,候选人的素质也大大提高了。这是一个可喜的现象。要打倒行动党,不只要比行动党更加努力,还要推出和行动党不相上下的候选人。这其实是行动党很为难的地方。行动党面临一个找高素质候选人的问题,再加上候选人没有包中选,高素质候选人,即使有高薪的诱惑,也不敢冒险参选。反而在野党,出现具有献身精神的高素质候选人。这一加一减,难怪李总理,不能不高喊选情十分严重,严重到可能失去政权。

集选区的好处用尽了,现在轮到问题多多。以前一只母鸡,可以带几只小鸡。就像宏茂桥集选区,李总理作为大母鸡,带了四,五只小鸡。选情已经改变了,一只不中用的小鸡,现在很可能变成一只害群之马。就像马林百列集选区,一个丁佩玲就把吴作栋这只老马给拖下。行动党集选区候选人,如果有一个候选人,网民看了很不满意,很可能整个行动党团队都受到拖累。一个候选人,很可能成为整个团队的负资产。这是行动党当时计算集选区制度时,没有计算到的。

这次台湾九合一选举的结果,还有一个行动党不愿意看到的接班人的问题。国民党的新生代候选人几乎全部落选,这意味着,国民党将会出现没有经历的接班人,没有政治,实战经历的下一代。李总理在行动党60大会提到这个问题,看来,行动党也很可能面对国民党的困境,将来的路不好走。

行动党现在是看着安倍晋三和自民党流口水;多么希望能够回到以前,没有在野党挑战的日子,在野党没有足够的候选人,直通车中选的日子。好景不长在,行动党看着马英九和国民党,心惊胆跳,不能不说来临的大选,非常严重,是一场生死之战。

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Smart Nation, SG50, and Categorical Inflexibility


To the PAP, SG50 is a useful vote-buying activity. Smart nation, in a certain way, presents the usefulness of technology in the eyes of the PAP.   However, the rigid classification of usefulness and uselessness will lead to a categorical inflexibility.  And the PAP will end up shooting the wrong targets, missing the usefulness votes and losing the uselessness votes.

The efforts and promotions that the PAP puts on SG50 will have a diminishing return on votes.  They see things in a straight line and think promoting pioneer generations, senior citizens, old kampung spirit, smart nation, democratic socialism, CPF and medical reforms will attract votes. However, all these useful activities are all pointing to their weaknesses. How come they have not solved these problems in the past 50 years?  

Smart nation, according to PM Lee, is to leverage on the latest technology to make life better.  He said, “One major initiative will be to allow people access to maps and geospatial databases by contributing to information such as animal sightings, traffic incidents or even the best mee pok eateries.” (reach.gov.sg)

Is smart nation just a smart use of technology? Will life be better if one has all the latest technology? Is this classification flexible enough for a smart nation?

Take PSLE for example,  students who score 250 points and above are the top 10% of the cohort. Based on this classification, they can go to good schools or top schools. It creates a division between useful and less useful persons in the society. In many ways, useful people need less useful people to show their usefulness. Shanghai, London or New York cannot be great cities if there is no China, UK or USA respectively. Without the support of countries, these cities are not great. Can we say these cities are great and the countries are not? Hence, Singapore will have to depend on Southeast Asia or the greater world  to be relevant.  

Will less useful people use less technology when Singapore becomes a smart nation 10 years later? Will useful people use more technology in future? Or they can employ useful and less useful people to do the jobs for them.  They, in fact, use less technology instead.  

PM also gave his assurance that citizens who are less technologically savvy will not be left behind, pledging to “prevent a digital divide from happening.”  Will closing the technology gap be more important than closing income gap? Will people’s happiness only limit to using technology finding the ‘mee siam no hum’?

A smart nation needs categorical flexibility. A smart nation needs to make good use of less useful persons.   An inflexible smart nation will always place usefulness first, money first and technology first, like the past and present PAP.

The PAP’s categorical inflexibility will constrain our ability to think in novel or creative ways. Confucianism only considers useful people as they can contribute to society like paying taxes. People having power are also important as they can change the society and improve the life of ordinary people(?).  In many ways, less useful people’s contribution is absent in a Confucian society.  A smart Confucianism nation will be very rigid in recognising the usefulness of less useful or less intelligent people.  This is very a dangerous option in a one-man-one-vote election when majority of us is less useful and less intelligence.  The recent election defeat of KMT in Taiwan shows the irony of such ignorance and categorical inflexibility.

Ask yourself these questions: Instead of having all the latest technology, why do our trains still breakdown? Why does our stock exchange go powerless or face software problems?  Why can’t we improve our productivity after technology upgrade?   

PAP’s definition of SG50, smart nation and PSLE has a narrow focus on usefulness. As a result, the PAP will only judge less useful or less intelligent people on whether they meet their pre-condition of usefulness, just like the case of PSLE. Their narrow focus can further extend to include money, talent, grassroots activities, social media, and so called ‘new normal’.   

To understand the changeable focus of usefulness and uselessness, and the categorical inflexibility, we can look at the following wisdom from Zhuangzi.     

[Huizi’s gourd]

[Huizi said to Zhuangzi, “The King of Wei gave me a seed from a huge gourd. I plant it and the fruit ripened into gourds that weighed half a ton. I used one for a sauce jug and it was too heavy to lift; I split another into a ladle and there was no room in the house to set it down. It isn’t that their size wasn’t wonderful, but I saw they were useless so I smashed them to pieces.”

Zhuangzi said, “You are certainly clumsy when it comes to making use of what is big! There was once a man from Song who was skilled at making ointment for chapped hands. For generations, his family had made their living by washing raw silk. A traveler happened to hear of it and offered to purchase the formula for a hundred catties of gold. The man called his family into conference and said, ‘For generations we’ve made our living washing silk and never earned more than a few pieces gold. Now we can sell our formula and earn a hundred catties of gold in an instant. Let’s give it to him!’ Once the traveler had the formula, he went to the court of Wu to persuade the king to use it in dealing with his troublesome neighbor state of Yue. The king put him in command of his forces to engage Yue’s navy in a midwinter river battle and the forces of Yue were routed. The King of Wu carved a slice from his newly gained territory and rewarded the traveler with a fief. The traveler and the silk washer were alike in possessing the formula of preventing chapped hands; one used it to gain a fief, the other to wash silk – it was in the use of the thing that they differed.

“Now you have a half-ton gourd: why didn’t you think of making it into a big boat and sailing the rivers and lakes, instead of worrying about having room in the house to set it down? Really – your mind is no better than a tumbleweed!”]http://www.indiana.edu/~p374/Zhuangzi.pdf