Saturday, 29 April 2017

愚笨部长胜于没有政府 - 另类《人民的名义》?



没有政府,人民的正义就无法伸张了吗?因此,不论是无能部长,还是贪官部长,总之,他们的最大贡献,就是组成政府班子,让人民的名(正)义得以伸张?这种逻辑说得通吗?

是否,像人民行动党这样又聪明又有能力的部长们,他们组成的聪明政府,又是否真的能够维护人民的正义呢?


Malaysiakini.png

如果因为愚笨,部长们都辞职,哪来政府。- 大马部长

《当今大马》这条新闻,应该不会是假新闻吧!不然他们又要吃官司了。

同样的新闻是绝对不会发生在新加坡的。我们是任人唯贤的政府,愚笨的部长就只有下台一条路。不相信,你看一看从5月1号开始,谁上谁下,你就明白。再不相信,你想一想,有没有一个过气部长叫吕德耀,他在2015大选前就决定不参选连任吗?

因此,根据大马这位部长的理解,在人民的正义前,选择一群无能部长们总比没有政府好。况且,在贪官看来,的确如此,没有政府这个正式的官方管道,又如何能够贪得无厌呢?

我们很难想象新加坡会有部长说出同样的话,好像愚笨部长的目的就是为了维护一个政府。而一个无政府的国家,天下一定大乱。因此,勉强需要留着部长们,即使再怎么笨,也可以充充场面维持一个政府。这听起来,简直是匪夷所思。原来愚笨也可以当部长,而部长们的目的竟然沦落到成了政府的看门狗。那么,人民的正义对于无能的部长们来说,他们又应该抱着什么态度呢?

如果根据这个逻辑,欧洲有些国家,由于选举结果的关系,政府无法组成,有时候几个月,甚至几十个月都没有政府,那么,这些国家肯定一定会天下大乱。为何,没有出现这种情形?

《人民的名义》

说到《人民的名义》连续剧,当然要说到贪官,贪官部长。我们尝试做这么一个比较:

  • 一群贪官部长们胜于无政府?
  • 一群无能又贪官的部长们是否也胜于无政府?
  • 一群无能部长们是否胜于一群贪官部长们?
  • 一群有能又贪官的部长们是否胜于无政府?
  • 一群贪官部长们是否胜于一群无能部长们?

这些都是没有数据证明的比较。我们很难断定无能部长好还是贪官部长好?最近,看了俄罗斯的一些资料,从1991年开始经济改革以来,俄罗斯和中国一样的确出了不少贪官。从基础建设来说,中国贪官们,似乎是盗亦有道。

总之,在新加坡,我们是坚持没有无能部长,也没有贪官部长这个原则。

到底无能的人,有没有正义?贪婪的人,有没有正义?不知道。或许,有些有,有些没有。有时候,对于公,没有正义,但是,对于私,却不能没有“正义”,不是说,盗亦有道吗?人家香港警察拜关公,黑社会也拜关二爷。从另一个角度开看,似乎正义都在,只是因人而异罢了。

《聪明的政府》

那么,新加坡的聪明政府,是否有维护人民的正义,还是所谓行动党版本的人民的正义?

无能部长带出无能政府,人民的正义当然被打了折扣。

同理,贪婪的部长带出贪婪的政府,人民的正义当然也不均衡和也不标准。

事实上,政府的好与坏,与人民的正义有关联。但是,不是因果关系。不能说,无能政府,贪婪政府就一定败坏人民的正义。而聪明政府一定能确保人民的正义得以伸张。如果缺少了制衡,不论什么政府,都可能为了部长们的利益,贪官们的利益,而出卖人民的正义。

只有在人民的正义的前提下,人民的正义的制衡下,聪明,无能,还是贪婪政府,才会时时提醒自己有人民的正义这么一回事。因此,人民的正义是因,政府的好坏是果。

如果把这个秩序搞错了,就算是聪明的政府,也能颠倒是非,把自己版本的人民的正义硬加在人民身上。而越是聪明的政府,颠倒是非的本事就越高,这是自认无能部长的人,无法可以相比较的。

聪明政府带出人民的正义,这个秩序,这个因果关系,我们有必要看清楚。部长们的升迁和离开,只是维护一个聪明,有能力政府的象征。接班人的问题,也是维护一个聪明政府的手段。这些都是“果”, 不是”因“。

如果没有把人民的正义,摆在”因“的位置,而把聪明政府作为第一要素,那么,人民的正义就会被颠倒,主,客位置被调包。而聪明部长们带出的聪明的政府,还是一样可以忽悠人民的正义。

Saturday, 22 April 2017

FROM ‘FREE ELECTION’ TO HIGH DRAMA: The FAS Saga


It supposes to be a ‘free election’ after the world football association’s (FIFA) new regulation on the running and management of local football associations. It is also an opportunity to show the world Singapore can have free election on non-political organisations, non-profit bodies or non-government organisations.

Unfortunately, it is now a high drama. The sage at Singapore Football Association election, whether the election is on or off at the end of April, will continue to make news headlines in years to come.

If you are not a football fan, you may not be interested on the saga at first. Now, it has become the coffee shop talks.

Is this political related? You make your own judgement.

However, some issues are interesting for discussions - corruptions, business models, and future options.

[$500,000 donation]

Is this a key concern? Is this implied a corruption?

Singapore is known for corruptions free and we always stress that we have zero tolerance for corruptions. When the FAS election campaign issue touches on the $500,000 donation, one will have to be alerted about the possibility of corruption. The thinking of corruptions, of course, will also lead to financial irregularities. To boost the case, highlighting, linking and imagining the multi-million income of jackpot machines to financial irregularities can easily catch the eyes of readers.  

Anti-corruptions are the key success factors for Singapore. The FAS election has touched this red line and the police ‘is now forced’ to investigate the matter after a complaint is reported.   

[Business models]

From the business innovation point of view, the Team Game Changers seems to come out with a workable model.

This model should be welcomed by the government. They even think of doing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for FAS activities. The team has proved that they can successfully turn a profit-losing club to a profit-making club.

This is what Singapore wants. If every individual or company in Singapore has this mindset and innovation, then the government will not have to subsidy healthcare, worry about CPF minimum sum or medisave. Instead, the government can increase tax revenue from the profit-making businesses, be it jackpot machines or IPO.
  
There is no reason to kill this initiative - the golden egg. With money, FAS can develop local talents, import high quality foreign players, reduced government funding, promote football to a larger audience etc. Just like what Tote Board is doing through horse racing, big sweep and toto.   

[Out of control]

The government encourages social enterprises. They also want public services to generate revenue. They want all these activities to be self-sufficient or make profit. So SMRT goes into space re-design to generate income and neglecting maintenance. Religious bodies and NGOs like National Kidney Foundation come out with innovative ideas to generate revenue.  

This leads to MRT disruptions and many high profile court cases.

Football club and FAS making use of jackpot machines and IPO to generate income can be an innovative initiative but it also creates potential problems, conflict of interest.   

Is the government worrying about this development?

[Future options]

What can the government do? The past practice of appointing FAS President can ensure the matter will not go out of control. Just like the coming Presidential Election. Even there are problems, like the corruption case of Ang Mo Kio GRC Town Council’s general manager, they can just refer it to CPIB.

However, the past practice as shown will kill the entrepreneurship and innovation. A football club can generate income more than the total budget of FAS shows that there are many rooms for improvements.

However, if the government gives a free hand, many social enterprises , religious groups or NGOs will grow bigger and bigger. Will it end up like the banking industry in the US - too big to fail?

Will the development of social enterprises and NGOs even harder to control than the oppositions in Singapore?

Perhaps, from the wealth and income generated, many of them are bigger than the small and medium sized listed companies in Singapore.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

由上而下的小道政治容不下预己 - 新加坡是一个成功写照.


上一篇博文<接管市镇理事会的政治考量、政治代价>提到【反对苗头尽早杀】:
行动党自从立国以来,最有效的一招,就是当反对势力的苗头一出现,就马上给予消灭。从内安法开始,之后就是煽动罪,诽谤罪,破产等等,目的就是制止反对势力的扩张。这50多年,已经做到得心应手,无往不利的地步。


这里引用英国牛津大学 Professor Sir Paul Collier的论点进一步说明.Collier 教授分析人类从无政府状态到中央集权,再到包容性国家的过程中, 所面对的问题。他以经济学的从贫穷到繁荣角度来分析问题. 我们看到有些国家成功, 但是也有很多国家失败,甚至连中央集权都做不到(政令和政策无法下达到全国).

从无政府状态到中央集权,需要借助武力来达到目的。他认为中央集权国家(The centralised state)应该具备六个条件:政治上(精英)权力垄断,税收,司法,基础投资,富人(精英)间分享权力,(国家)具有借贷能力。

但是,中央集权还是无法顺利提高人民的所得和经济发展。而要通过包容性国家(Inclusive state)来取得财富和财富分配。理想的包容性国家所实行的政策,将顾及人民的需求和为所有的人制造平等机会。

通往包容性国家的道路有两条:小道和大道。(Minor Route and Major Route)

【小道的包容】

小道的包容是从上而下的精英政治。精英们掌握大权,以私人愿望在经济发展和财富分配上,实行对自己有利的政策。the elite are still in power and make selfishly-motivated choices between economic growth and the redistribution of wealth from the people to the elite.)



【大道的包容 -抗议的代价】

大道的包容则是从下而上的政治。下面的人民可以和精英分享权力。而在争取大道包容的过程中,我们必须了解抗议的经济学:奖励,回报和代价。(The major route to an inclusive state is through pressure from below to share power. To understand this route, we first need to understand the economics of protest: the incentives, rewards, and costs of protest.)



了解了抗议经济学中的代价问题,我们就可以明白为何人民行动党要处处对付反对党,要不择手段的把【反对苗头尽早杀】。当有新加坡人为了理想,站出来反对行动党,他们的代价是很高的,但是为了理想,他们愿意成为领头羊,牺牲者。可惜,一个,两个是成不了气候,第三,第四个有理想的人,就考虑代价。

抗议的代价.png

从上面的抗议代价表中,很明显的第三个(群)抗议者在衡量了理想的回报和代价后,得出一个负价值。这就印证了行动党为何一定要先下手为强的道理。行动党政府通过各种手段,都要阻止,制止反对势力的扩大。由此我们不难想象为什么,行动党要通过修改法令,更改政治的游戏规矩来达到小道包容的政治目的。

【大道的包容 - 对付社交媒体】

由于科技的发展,社交媒体的兴起,这对垄断传统媒体的行动党造成威胁。中东的茉莉花运动,提醒小道治国的精英集团要注意和管制新媒体和社交媒体的发展。我们从最近行动党部长的一系列对付假新闻的动作中,修改新闻条例,管制社交媒体中可以看到这种趋势。



【行动党拥抱小道包容】

行动党政府一直拒绝以大道包容治国,处处维护由上而下的精英治国政策。对于威胁行动党的反对势力,是见一个杀一个,而没有威胁力的反对势力则宽容对待。

因此,短期内,行动党的最大敌人,就成了它自己。在小道包容,从上而下的行动党精英政治下,又要照顾个人的私愿(如高薪和自我提升),又要分配经济发展的利益,如何做到公平,公正,让人信服?

尤其是在利益和政治权力分配的过程中,如何塑造国家认同(本地和外地人),如何让人觉得权力的分配公平(总统选举的游戏规则更改),如何在贫富悬殊下做到照顾人民。

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Price Puzzle or Cartel?


same item big price difference.jpg


I am surprise to learn about the big difference in price for a simple medical skin cream as shown above.  It is by chance I find out the cheapest price (so far) at SGH pharmacy. If I am not visiting a friend at SGH, I will never find out the price difference.  

We know government hospitals are not subsidizing medicines, not to mention hospital pharmacies that cater for public.

So even at $3.82 per tube (including GST), SGH (Singapore General Hospital) pharmacy is still making profit!  Does this mean pharmacies outside SGH are having unreasonable huge profits?   

Is this a ‘one-off’ special case or a common practice?

I regular buy this skin cream at a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) shop. Last year, it was $5 per tube. However, recently, the price changes a lot from $5 to $8. It forces me to check the price at Guardian and NTUC pharmacy. They offer even higher price than the TCM shop. I think I may have to get cheaper and similar skin cream from Johor Bahru until I find out the cheaper price at SGH.

I wonder why the price increase so much outside SGH pharmacy. From $5 to $8, this is a 60% increase. We know electricity and water prices are going to increase, so hawkers and coffee shops also increase their prices. But I don’t think they increase their coffee or food price by 60%.

[Lack of Information]

We really don’t have perfect information and the market is also not in perfect competition.

We need to compare price. Even I shop at TCM shop, I can still manage to save 90 cents to $1 per tube. Actually, I bought 6 tubes at SGH pharmacy, you can imagine my savings. ($48-$22.90 = $25.10)    

Comparing TCM shop, Guardian and NTUC pharmacy, TCM shops are less likely to enjoy ‘economy of scale’ in their purchase. But how can they offer cheaper than the big boys?  Is this an advantage or disadvantage of small and medium size enterprise?

How can we protect the interest of consumers under an imperfect information environment? Oh! Some one may suggest we have CASE (The Consumers Association of Singapore)?

[Selective Reporting]

Under the imperfect information environment, we can also do selective reporting. The government can claim government hospitals do not make profit just look at the skin cream we are charging, so much lower than outside.

This is a ‘feel good’ reporting. Outside the government hospitals, whether you are able to get the same price or higher price, the selective reporting does not concern so much.  The report’s duty is just to project the good image of the government.

When the government announces that water and electricity price is going to increase, or transport fares are going to adjust, they always refer to ‘market price’. In this case, they are referring prices in the market (TCM shops, NTUC or Guardian).      

When they price the HDB (Housing and Development Board) flat and fees for university education, the government also uses the market price. However, when they calculate National Service pay, the government refers it as NS allowance. Allowance, of course, is different from market compensation.

Selective reporting can be bias and for political purpose. In Singapore, we can see this in not only in news reporting but also in radio, broadcasting and social media.  



For the purpose of illustration, the above report can also base on sentence reduction in term of percentage. Here, we can select and rank percentage reduction for all of them. And obviously, we will see the difference - who get more cut and who get less!   

Punishment Reduction in Percentage

Original
After Appeal
% Reduction
Kong Hee
8 years
3 years 6 months
56.25%
Chew Eng Han
6 years
3 years 4 months
44.44%
Tan Ye Peng
5 years 6 months
3 years 2 months
42.42%
Serina wee
5 years
2 years 6 months
50.00%
John Lam
3 years
1 year 6 months
50.00%
Sharon Tan
1 year 9 months
7 months
66.67%


[Is selective reporting Fake News?]

Recently, we talk a lot about fake news and the government is thinking very hard to catch and punish the ‘fake news’ reporters.

This makes one wonder can selective reporting, bias reporting, brainwashing reporting, propaganda reporting also be a kind of fake news?

Saturday, 1 April 2017

接管市镇理事会的政治考量、政治代价?


人民行动党政府已经做好司法程序,可以在模棱两可‘莫须有’的理由下,接管市镇理事会。国会已经通过市镇理事会修正案,一旦市镇理事会的管理出现所谓的状况,国家发展部长便可以顺理成章的、名而言顺的把民选市镇理事会的管理工作接管过来。

这里的市镇理事会,当然是指工人党管理的阿裕尼-后港市镇理事会。行动党没有傻到接管自己的市镇理事会。修改后的司法程序能够让行动党政府,合法合理的在符合新加坡法律的条文下,明目张胆的把一个民选的市镇理事会收归到自己的管理之下。就像民选总统那样,明目张胆的修改选举制度,否定一些人的参选资格。

新加坡人又能说些什么?又敢做些什么?就像陈清木昨天的记者会,他除了对总统选举制度的变更表示不满外,他还能说什么?就是这么简单,轻描淡写的回答:
通讯及新闻部发言人指陈清木并没提出政府应回应的新论点   联合早报.png

行动党和李显龙总理,就是看准了,看透了新加坡人的心理,表明这是司法程序,在法庭、在法律上,行动党政府都不会被打败。那些敢于挑战法律的人,在新加坡的短短50多年的建国历史中,下场都是以悲剧结束。最近的一个例子, 就是新加坡最年轻的政治犯余澎杉在美国的遭遇。同样一个人,不同的国情,命运也不一样。

行动党已经做好接管的准备。现在,只是考虑政治上的得失和评估政治代价。当然,也会考虑时间点,什么时候切入最适合、最划算、最能够获得最多的选票。

【下届大选的变数】

今年的总统选举,基本上已经是没戏看了。大家大约都可以估算到结局。反而是三、四年后的大选,存在变数。
行动党也了解,要重获2015大选的佳绩,在没有造神运动的条件下,似乎是不可能。因此,要维持一个高得票率,就必须出一些怪招。把非选区议员人数增加到12位,就是给人民一个小甜头。如果真的上当,新加坡就清一色没有非行动党的市镇理事会了。

没有工人党的市镇会,这个机会似乎不高。因此,最好能够把工人党困在阿裕尼和后港。而通过合法接管,又通过媒体,社交媒体,一系列的‘转型正义’活动,说不定死马当活马医,动摇阿裕尼选民的心,从接管变成收复,那就是美事一桩。

事实上,市镇理事会修正案通过后,行动党和工人党表面上没有说出口。但是,大家都在盘算国家发展部长,会通过什么理由,什么时候,进行接管工作的法律和司法程序的准备。2017年是总统选举年,大概不会在这个时候出手。

但是,出手的时间,也不可以太过接近下届大选。最少要让行动党的所谓‘转型正义’(你做错,我有责任保护纳税人利益)的宣传活动进行到底,主流媒体和社交媒体有足够的时间进行有效、有力的洗脑工作。因此,2018年,最迟2019年就要出手了。就像SG50那样,钱不是问题,只要产生效果就可以了。
下一届大选,又可以为接班人问题大事宣传一番。选民要给行动党大力支持,接班人的工作才能顺利进行。这个卖点在吴作栋和李显龙接棒后都使用过,不知这回还有药效吗?

【反对苗头尽早杀】

行动党自从立国以来,最有效的一招,就是当反对势力的苗头一出现,就马上给予消灭。从内安法开始,之后就是煽动罪,诽谤罪,破产等等,目的就是制止反对势力的扩张。这50多年,已经做到得心应手,无往不利的地步。而对付反对人士的手段,也是‘与时并进’。从不文明的内安法,诽谤,破产到现在的市镇会修正案。每一步棋都是要把反对势力逼上绝路。还记得JBJ吗?他是在什么样的背景下失去国会议员的资格?既然民选议员可以‘被下台’,民选市镇理事会又有何不可?

政治游戏.jpg
《联合早报》在处理同样一条报道时,没有提到政治游戏的规则,反而是强调立场。这看起来是间接回答陈清木对总统选举的提问:
总检察署为政府提供专业法律意见时,必须与政府共同承担所有决定的责任不能因为担心承受后果或被公众谴责而立场模糊,导致政府无法做出果断的决定。

这是不是政治游戏中的指导工作?共同责任?立场鲜明?总检察署是不是独立的机构?

英国作家斯诺说过:当你想起人类悠久而又黑暗的历史之时,你会发现可怕的犯罪出于服从之名远远多于出于背叛之名的犯罪。The author C.P. Snow said, “When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you’ll find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than in the name of rebellion.”

事实上,在中国历史上,愚忠愚孝导致皇朝毁灭,大灾大难,国亡,家也亡的例子,并不少见。我们一直批评纳粹主义、希特勒、墨索里尼等的特大罪行,而我们似乎没有想到英、法的姑息,甚至从容法西斯活动,到底是斯诺所说的‘服从之名’还是背叛之名’?纳粹背叛正义,而服从却从容非正义?

但是,在新加坡,服从之名和背叛之名的代价太高,就像贫富悬殊一样。不然,为何有识之士不愿出声,明明看到不对,甚至行动党顾问要求他们出声,他们还是坚持明哲保身。