Monday, 26 October 2015

SG50制止社会精英加入反对党, 但是正义制衡之声春风吹又生。


【SG50先后两轮洗礼华文和英文教育精英,阻止他们加入反对党。表面上,行动党成功制止反对党拥有人才,事实上,从年轻奖学金申请者的反馈看来,认可工人党,要求公平社会和国会制衡,在青年人心中依然是春风吹又生。50年制止工程过后,行动党的噩梦正在开始呢!】

(解读PSC尖子反馈2)

上一篇谈到年轻奖学金申请者认可工人党,作为公共服务委员会顶头上司的行动党政府,当然早早就意识到这个趋势。但是,它又不能像过去那样动不动就出动内安法,也不能随意的告人。只能继续加强媒体监管,也对社交媒体的言论,进行反击和提告。

作为反对党的龙头老大,我们很容易了解行动党为何处处针对工人党。目的很显然,行动党要像过去那样处处制止精英加入反对党,他们一方面不断地制造反对党的负面新闻。另一方面通过各种管道,官方和非官方两方面一起进行阻挡年轻人加入反对党的机会。


短短的竞选期如何传达民权意识,这是任道重远的工程,年轻人的工作。
photo: mothership.sg


工人党2015的竞选宣言,大纲和提出民权的口号,都是年轻候选人主导和面向选民。工人党领袖也一直强调年轻领袖接班的重要性。只是短短9天的竞选时间,真的没有办法让民权的讯息传播开来。和行动党强调第四代接班人不一样,工人党年轻领袖来得更加年轻,更加接近年轻人。这是优点也是缺点。对于行动党来说,如果要一党独大,就要制止工人党和反对党年轻领袖出头,表面看来,似乎行动党成功了 - 工人党无法突破多一个集选区。

民权本来就是很抽象,虚无缥缈的东西。就是再多一个五年的努力,也很可能说不动务实的新加坡选民。更何况,这次大选还出现这样的选民心态:“即使行动党贪污做坏事,还是要投选行动党,因为,它是唯一能够管理新加坡的政党“。在这样的背景下,民权只能轻于鸿毛,而不能重于泰山。

第一轮洗礼:
行动党在1960,70 年代,进行了一系列,逮捕华校精英,消灭华校,消灭方言的措施。因此,一直到1980年, 国会里,连一个反对党议员都没有。在那个年代,行动党候选人,不是自动中选,就是以高票中选,70%, 80%以上的得票率,习以为常。

第二次洗礼:
行动党在1980, 90年代,成功制止华校精英加入反对党后,把矛头指向英文教育者。行动党再次动用内安法逮捕英文教育精英,同时把制止的行动,提升到诽谤官司的层次上。

两轮洗礼其实就是要消灭年轻人,社会精英的正义感,责任感,社会公平,民主制衡的思想。行动党的教育政策也配合演出,尽量模糊民主精神,新加坡真正的历史等等。从行动党的幼儿教育开始,一直到大学,“正确”的政治教育有形无形的一直陪伴新加坡孩子的成长。

很幸运的,新加坡年轻精英,并没有受到行动党SG50两轮洗礼的影响。他们还是关心和愿意为人民服务。

公共服务委员会主席张赞成认为年轻精英继续关心社会分配不均,教育政策,和政治环境。同时,更多年轻人愿意服务社会,协助不幸人士
【Thankfully, the best and brightest who appear before PSC do still think critically and question what is happening in Singapore, including our socio-economic disparities, our educational policy and system, and our political environment. I am especially pleased that more of our young now aspire to work in the social sector, so that they can help the underprivileged.】
http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/what-18-year-olds-tell-us-about-singapores-future

在行动党政治和教育洗礼下,年轻奖学金申请者,竟然出现认可工人党的年轻人。这不仅让人怀疑SG50是否真的成功制止社会精英加入反对党?公共服务委员会当然不会告诉你,这个百分比有多少,但是,它却是一个让行动党不安的讯息,因为,不论行动党怎样洗礼年轻人,还是有些精英,认可制衡的重要性,认可工人党。

这说明,金禧年后行动党是否可以依样画葫芦,继续洗礼年轻人,甚至老年人,然后继续一党独大下去吗?

无论如何,在年轻人心中,要求制衡,民主,民权的声音,依然是春风吹又生,制止不了,阻止不了。行动党因为SG50和2015大选的70%强大委托,就认为能够斩草除根反对党,制止年轻精英加入工人党,这是过于乐观的判断。

摆在我们眼前的现实是,工人党的幼苗真的还太小,不但需要更多志同道合的人协助,更加要有坚强的斗志和耐性。过去50年,行动党无法灭掉人们的正义和制衡的心,将来更加不可能做到。认为只有行动党能够做事,工人党做不了事,反对党管不好国家,这样的谎言,迟早会被打破的。

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Future Economy and Marx’s Theory of Crisis


[The Future Economy 1]

In Marxism, capitalism comes before socialism and communism. Marx thinks after the working class gains class consciousness, they will mount a revolution against the capitalists. However, Marx’s Theory of Crisis failed and interestingly, with the help of government, capitalism survives as seen today.


Singapore is a beneficiary of capitalism.  Our pragmatic model of capitalism has created wealth and progress for Singaporeans. In Marxism, it is an ideal situation for socialism as class aware emerges. In fact, all so-called communist states, past and present, have never experienced (modern) capitalism before calling themselves communists.


Why has communism not happened in western industrial world or authoritarian capitalist economy, like Singapore or China?

Professor Ian Shapiro of Yale University explains the failure of Marx’s Theory of Crisis and thinks government and market reflection/adjustment have helped to prevent the fall of capitalism. (see video below).



The 5 Part Theory of Crisis as described by Prof. Shapiro is:
  1. Money
  2. Declining tendency of rate of profit
  3. Monopoly and the elimination of competition
  4. Under-consumption
  5. Working class consciousness

For Singapore to move forward, it is important to look at the theory of crisis as Singapore is already at the advanced stage of capitalism. Judging from the income per capita, we are already one of the top countries in the world. Marx’s failed theory and experience is a learning curve for Singapore or in another word, to prevent it to happen, political change from authoritarian to democracy does have its role.  

How can we solve current capitalism problems facing Singapore? Can the PAP come out with a solution or alternative for Singapore with “The Future Economy” committee headed by Heng Swee Kiat? Is a strong government necessary a stable government?



We can summarize Prof. Shapiro’s viewpoints into the following table for easy understanding:


Crisis
Problems
Examples
Saved by
1 Money
Liquidity (hoarding)
Financial crisis
Government
2.Declining tendency of rate of profit
Less profit, less incentive
Manufacturing, e.g China
Technology, shift/new industries
3 Monopoly and the elimination of competition
Massive barriers to entry  
Antitrust laws, fair contest,
‘too big to fail’  
Government,
economy of smallness
4 Under-consumption
Overproduction, not enough demand
Great Depression - New Deal
Government, Keynesian economics (countercyclical policies, consumption),  
5 Working class consciousness
Low wage, poverty,
Rich-poor divide,
comparing rich and poor
Psychological assumption - peer comparison



Marx’s Theory of Crisis and Singapore

The above crises have not gone away. These economic and social problems continue to occupy the headlines in the world. And we have to understand the concept of government too. It certainly involves Congress or Parliament.

Below are some examples of the relevant crises in Singapore:



Money
Management of liquidity risk, financial crisis, foreign exchange risk, CPF, foreign reserve and sovereign funds will continue to be challenging issues.   


Declining tendency of rate of profit
The large foreign labour force and increasing property price and rental, and inflation are indicators of falling profit. Lack of creativity and innovation makes shifting or finding new industries difficult.  


Monopoly and the elimination of competition
State monopoly (GLCs) already occupies a big share of our economy. Lack of entrepreneurship and lack 'economy of smallness' activities will make government-led businesses continue to dominate the economy.     


Under-consumption
Super-rich and tourists are attracted to Singapore for consumption. The government wants to increase population to increase consumption. Low birth rate means low consumption too.   


Working class consciousness
Singaporeans are not comparing salary with foreign workers. They are comparing with foreign PMETs. There are also demands for poverty line or minimum wage to be established.
All the above are the challenges for the future economy of Singapore. However, the fundamental problem is still politics.


One may argue Singapore is lucky as we have a strong government. And government as explained by Prof Shapiro is the key saver for capitalism. But can a (narrow definition) government without ‘checks and balances’ able to solve the capitalism crises? Even that, we still need to solve issues like entrepreneurship, technology, economy of smallness, psychological comparison, etc.


Government as a rescuer of capitalism, under the attack of Marx’s Theory of Crisis, may explain why the PAP received strong mandate in GE2015.  However, it does not mean strong mandate with an unchecked government can solve the crises. Whether in USA or Europe, debates in Congress or Parliament are the necessary steps of crisis management. Of course, the PAP government may claim debates are not necessary as they can do self-check and self-debate. And Singapore is an exception.   
   

copyright: Coursera@Yale







Thursday, 15 October 2015

公共服务委员会主席:奖学金申请者认可工人党。


(解读PSC尖子反馈1)

《新加坡的尖子们认可工人党,认为我国有足够人才组成两支执政和替代团队。他们相信未来50年的政治局面和SG50不同, 短期内希望反对党获得少于三分一国会议席,长期则出现改变,并且相信更多人才会加入反对党。》


以上是新加坡公共服务委员会面试奖学金尖子们后的反馈。公共服务委员会平均每年需要从2500名尖子中面试350人,最后大约选出70名奖学金得主。他们不代表大多数人,但是却显示社会上层,国家未来主人对将来政治局势的看法。不论什么制度的社会,年轻尖子的意向,将决定国家的将来。从上到下,新加坡习惯‘能人’领导,而尖子们已经走在前头,比大多数人更加关怀社会。不过,社会变迁一时也急不来,再过几届大选,就会有所分晓。

公共服务委员会主席张赞成在谈论18岁青年对新加坡将来看法时,有意无意间在评论政治务实者时,透露奖学金申请者认可工人党。他认为新加坡年轻人没有政治理念却务实。他们要人民行动党执政,但是,也要一个强大温和的反对党。部分奖学金申请者还被工人党吸引过去,因为他们相信政府的运作是需要受到制衡的。

youth and WP.png
http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/what-18-year-olds-tell-us-about-singapores-future

公共服务委员会能够接受认可工人党的申请者吗?委员会会把奖学金颁给他们吗?张赞成没有说明,也没有证实。不过,从尖子的反馈中,未来将会出现更多陈如斯,方月光,潘群勤等前政府奖学金得主,加入反对党,尤其是工人党。

张赞成还提供两个重要的讯息:

  1. 尖子们希望反对党获得不到三分一的国会议席,但是却(有足够议员)能够对政府提出尖锐的质问。
  2. 在追问下,这些年轻学生承认像过去那样一党独大50年的局面无法再未来持续下去。

我们用比较直接的话来说,年轻奖学金申请者认为,短期内,行动党政府不会倒,长期来说一党独大也不再发生。但是,没有人能够准确预测改变的时间点。

年轻尖子们认为,我国有足够的人才,可以分为两队,而不是只有一支(行动党)团队治理新加坡。他们对行动党的高调倡议的‘只有一支团队’的说法表示怀疑。而一旦改变来到,新加坡将不会倒下,因为,越来越多的好人才和有能力者加入反对党,他们将成为替代团队的成员。长期来说,这对反对党是一个有利的讯息。但是,短期内,反对党还需要坚持奋斗下去。

【But if the change does occur, they are confident in their belief that Singapore will not collapse because more and more good and capable people will eventually join the opposition, as many as those who join the PAP today. They are sceptical about the ruling party's contention that Singapore does not have enough talent to fill two strong teams. 】#1
张赞成还提到不少课题,其中包括年轻人对区域国家不了解, 对教育制度的批评,以及年轻人的四大短处:不了解新加坡历史;不关心时事和外交;不愿意冒险和缺少创意。

张赞成的报道文章很短,一下子就能读完。我建议读者不妨上网看一下原文,自我判断。
#1
http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/what-18-year-olds-tell-us-about-singapores-future

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Singapore Regional Foreign Policy: No Friends, No Credit.


No friends. This statement comes from Malaysian opposition (DAP) member of parliament Tony Pua.

[“He did Singapore no favour by cementing the perception of his country as the mercenary prick of Southeast Asia … And they wonder why they have no friends,” the Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker wrote on Facebook today. “I don’t care much if this was the view of some academic or armchair critic. But as the Ambassador-at-large, Mr Bilahari is a spokesman for Singapore.”] #1

No credit. This statement comes from Indonesian
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung.

[“The (Indonesian) government is not closing ourselves off to assistance. But if we are assisted, the government does not want them (Singapore) to claim the credit. It is the government that is working hard to resolve (this smog disaster) … So we do not want it to reach the point of them claiming credit for it,” Mr Anung told CNN Indonesia yesterday (Oct 7).]#2

Our regional foreign policy results to a “No Friends, No Credit” situation and we are still quite proud of continuing doing that. Still remember what Lim Swee Say said during GE2015, “luckily, we are not Malaysians (as well not mainland Chinese)." This, perhaps, shows how naive and ignorance the PAP politicians and their advisers are.

This is the typical PAP response. When something happens, the fault is not Singapore, the fault is not PAP. It is other people’s faults. The recent SGH Hepatitis C case is another example. PM Lee’s standard operating procedure answer is:  

["Establish what happened, learn from the experience to improve and do better in future. And we also always have to be open and transparent with the public and with the patients about what has happened," said Mr Lee. "Because we must maintain public confidence, and trust in the healthcare system."] #3

If we look at what (then) Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in Singapore Press Club#4 about education in Malaysia, you can guess the thinking level of Singapore official understanding of Malaysian politics.  No wonder an activist misunderstood him. He seems not understanding the real reasons why pragmatic Malaysian Chinese parents (like Singaporeans) want to send their children to the better ‘quality’ Chinese independent schools. He may also not understand why the Malaysian government now grants licence to three privately run Chinese universities.  

As for Indonesian haze problem, he can only voice his concerns in his Facebook. Facebook is not an official channel.  It can be a place for reproduction of official statement. No wonder the Indonesian government takes it so lightly. However, the Indonesian side still worries about it. They are afraid of Singapore claiming credit by posting comments in Facebook. (What a laugh!)

The problem is our regional foreign policy. We don’t know the proper channel of approaching our neighbours. It is clear now the Indonesian side is looking for a multinational task force to tackle the haze problem. They want helps beyond Singapore and Malaysia (so that Singapore cannot claim credit?).
Do we really know why we have no friend and no credit in the region?  And yet we receive very high international reputation outside the region.   

Eddie Teo, Chairman of Public Service Commission, provides some lights to our “no friends, no credit” problem. After interviewing scholarship applicants, this is his observation:

[And if they know about current events, it is often about global rather than regional affairs. Those who are better off know London and Sydney well, but have never visited Yangon or Phnom Penh.


It is important for our young to know and understand the neighbourhood Singapore is in. Many influential and powerful people in Indonesia and Malaysia still view Singapore negatively. They regularly seek to remind us that we are a small country and should know our place in the pecking order among nations, and behave accordingly, instead of trying to punch above our weight. ]#5

Singapore ends up with no friends, no credit in the region. Can we just simply blame others for creating instability and problems and refuse to understand them?  



#1

#2

#3
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/establish-what-happened/2182570.html


#3
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/shanmugam-to-file-police/2083292.html

#4

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/what-18-year-olds-tell-us-about-singapores-future

Friday, 9 October 2015

失望就好,不要绝望。



【鹧鸪天】(东坡谪黄州时作)





林断山明竹隐墙。乱蝉衰草小池塘。翻空白鸟时时见,照水红蕖细细香。

村舍外,古城旁。杖藜徐步转斜阳。殷勤昨夜三更雨,又得浮生一日凉。













昨夜三更雨,浮生一日凉。(消极,绝望)
此词上片写景,下片刻画人物形象,描写人物的心理状态。开头两句,作者以推移镜头,由远而近,描绘自己所处的特殊环境:远处有郁郁葱葱的树林,树林尽头,有座高山清晰可见;近处,丛生的翠竹,象绿色的屏障,围护在一所墙院周围。这所墙院正是词人的居所。靠近院落,有一池塘,池边大约由于天旱缺水,满地长着枯萎的衰草。蝉声四起,叫声乱成一团,令人烦躁不安。在这两句词中,竟然描写出林、山、竹、墙、蝉、草、池塘七种景色,容量如此之大,在古典诗词里不多见。
三、四两句,含义更深邃。从词句上看,这两句描写得比较优美:在广阔的天空,不时看到白鸟上下翻飞、自由翱翔,满池荷花,映照绿水,散发出柔和的芳香。意境如此清新淡雅,颇有些诗情画意。“红蕖”,是荷花的别名。“细细香”,是说荷花散发出的香味不是扑鼻的浓烈香气,而是宜人的淡淡芳香。如果不是别的原因,这样的境界的确是修身养性的乐土。然而,对于词人来说,他并非安于现状,有心流连这里的景致。
词的下片,作者又用自我形象的描绘,作了生动的说明。下片前三句,是写太阳在即将落山的时候,词人拄着藜杖在村边小道上徐徐漫步。这是词人自我形象的写照。但他表现的究竟是怎样的形象呢?是老态龙钟,还是病后的神态?是表现自得其乐的隐者生活,还是百无聊赖、消磨时光的失意情绪?读者仔细玩味,自然会得出正确的答案。
最后两句,是画龙点睛之笔。词句的表面是说:天公想得挺周到,昨天夜里三更时分,下了一场好雨,又使得词人度过了一天凉爽的日子。“殷勤”二字,犹言“多承”。细细品评,在这两个字里,还含有某些意外之意,即是说:有谁还能想到几经贬谪的词人呢?大概世人早已把我忘却了,唯有天公还想到我,为我降下“三更雨”。所以,在“殷勤”两字中还隐藏着词人的无限感慨。“又得浮生一日凉”,是词中最显露的一句。“浮生”,是说人生飘忽不定,是一种消极的人生哲学。
总观全词,从词作对特定环境的描写和作者形象的刻画,就可以看到一个抑郁不得志的隐者形象。



失望就好,不要绝望。
三更雨,让人在梦里惊醒,回忆过去的失败,应该如何向前走?如果读者注意新加坡最近的大选,胜者胜得有些糊涂,败者败的莫名其妙。这和选前的预测,胜负的估算有很大的落差。
东坡在宋代,在没有自由选择政治意向的时代,他的不得志可以理解,而他的消极则受到庄子的影响。《庄子·刻意》篇说:“其生若浮,其死若休。”。“又得浮生一日凉”中的“又”字,分量很重,它表现词人得过且过、日复一日地消磨岁月的消极情绪。
时间回到现在,对于新加坡反对党,虽然失败,无法取得更好的成绩。但是,却不能像苏轼那样“浮生”,因为苏轼处在一个没有投票的时代。即使对国家充满抱负,也无法施展才华。新加坡每五年要来一次大选,有失望就有希望,不像苏轼,他的天才只能在绝望中沉沦。
苏轼无法理解也没有机会“掌握民权,把握未来”。时代没有给他这个机会,再好的英雄也无法改变自己的政治命运。新加坡却不一样,选民的权利就是改变自己的命运。缺少的只是民权的讯息无法顺利传达而已。

#内容取材网上资料

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Future Economy and Crisis Management under checks and balances


The future of Singapore will be quite different from the past. It is a question of sustainability and crisis management. In Chinese, we say creation is easy but sustainability is difficult. (创业容易守业难). If SG50 is a creation then the future is an sustainability.

Why is sustainability difficult? It involves more uncertainties, more crisis management without successful past references and models, and for Singapore case, without checks and balances, transparency and openness.

Chinese dynasties in the past proved that sustainability was a difficult question than creation. All dynasties failed because of lack of checks and balances. In between, some dynasties had short periods of re-born, re-creation or resurgence  (中兴)where there were economic growth and propsperity. However, resurgence could only prolong the life of dynasties.  Is the new “The Future Economy” panel a resurgence?

Is the recent 70% mandate a sign of PAP resurgence? If yes, it may last a short period as shown in Chinese history. The new cabinet does not have the spirit of checks and balances. It only wants to check itself.

The first job of “The Future Economy” committee, headed by Heng Swee Keat, the new Finance Minister, is the end of year exhibition, "The Future of Us".  Its themes will include the future of lifelong learning, a greener city, volunteerism and how technology can transform the way people live and work. #1 PM Lee Hsien Loong even openly urged for a government-people partnership to write the new future of Singapore. He said, “We will do that online and offline, in civil society and in Parliament. That's normal, and healthy.”

What is the difference between “the future economy”/new Singapore chapter and the old SG50? Just like PM Lee’s calling, it is normal and healthy as defined by the People’s Action Party government. It is a continuation of the old practice, old tradition.  

Just look at the haze crisis. It is an age-old problem and we are unable to solve it for many years because the source problem is not in Singapore. During the Suharto era, it seemed to have few problems or problems could be solved between past Indonesian and Singaporean governments.   
In the article, “Suharto’s fires”, Inside Indonesia explained:

[Its political strength relies on two factors. Firstly, it is still controlled by relatives and business associates of the former Indonesian president, Suharto, who still enjoy tacit support in the top echelons of the Indonesian political and economic system. Secondly, the influence of the Suharto oligarchy extends way beyond the boundaries of Indonesia into the two neighbouring countries, Singapore and Malaysia, which have been the most affected by the haze caused by the forest fires.]#2

We are in the post-Suharto, post-LKY or even post-Mahathir eras, can Singapore continue to use the same old practice and tradition to deal with regional problems? We seem at lost in dealing with the haze crisis and our (immediate past) foreign minister dared only made comments in his Facebook.   

This example shows we are good at dealing with certain type of foreign politicians but when the situations change, especially, demand for transparency and checks and balances in foreign countries, we do not know how to handle the situations.  

Minister Heng’s future economy and PM Lee’s new Singapore chapter will have problems finding a suitable path if they only think of a control situation. 70% domestic support does not mean 70% support outside Singapore. The assumption of same support level will lead to a downfall of PAP dynasty.   

Heng and Lee are trying to find a quick solution as they have pressure under a strong mandate. It is just a resurgence for the PAP. But any future directions and proposals without checks and balances, even with SG conversation, will not bring long-term sustainability to Singapore.   


#1
http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/panel-being-set-up-to-chart-future-of-economy

#2
http://www.insideindonesia.org/suhartos-fires