Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Is Prism Project Another Central Planning of the PAP?

There are 3 scenarios under the Prism Project#1 of Institute of Public Policy.  However, it looks more like the central scenario planning of the People’s Action Party. From the instructional menu of Prism Project Primer #2, participants were guided to a situation in 2022 and they have to imagine, within the Primer framework, to come out with 3 possible scenarios in Jun-Aug 2012. 

2022. What a coincidence! Not long ago, PM Lee declared that he would like to hold the prime minister post for another 10 years. The other coincidence is the similarity between the 3 scenarios and the candidates of PE2011.

How competitive and sustainable are the 3 scenarios to the people of Singapore and to the PAP?   Will the scenarios produce competitive and sustainable Singapore, Singaporeans or the PAP?  Perhaps, as what the Chinese say: planning cannot always catch up with changes.   And planning sometimes turns out the wrong, bad and unexpected results, especially when planning without considering the people and their souls. And the worst scenario for the PAP is the loss of majority in the parliament in 2022.   

Central Planning in the Past not always right

As a one-party state, many planning in Singapore are centered on the wishes of the PAP. In the past, a PAP planning usually comes with a campaign, for example, HDB housing, population, bilingualism, integrated resorts, etc. When we look at the Prism Project, after the publication and announcement of 3 scenarios, the public will now have a chance to watch the campaign ‘wayang’ in November.   

Unfortunately, not all past planning matched the aims and desires of the PAP:

  • -       Singlish rather than English is preferred in this English speaking country and the need of Speak Good English campaign.
  • -       Bilingualism education system produces monolingual graduates and a hate feeling of mother’s tongue.
  • -       GRC can no longer protect the PAP for running Singapore likes a one-party state.
  • -       A Swiss standard of living ends up with widening rich-poor gap.
  • -       Productivity improvements achieve through low wages and foreign workers. 
  • -      

10 years later, when we look back at the 3 scenarios, we will know whether it is a central planning of the ISP for the PAP or not. Is it a proof of closer relationship between government institutions and the PAP?

PE2011 and the 3 scenarios

The Prism Project Report presents 3 scenarios:, and

Below is short summary as reported in Today:

1) A pro-business government focusing on economic growth and ensuring better-paying jobs for Singaporeans.

2) A government formed by a splinter group of the People's Action Party providing cheap and heavily subsidised healthcare, education and housing.

3) A weak coalition government running a country whose citizens have little trust in it but where there is high venture capitalism and much community-driven effort.
One of these three scenarios could become reality a decade from now, according to a first-of-its-kind scenario planning exercise conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) which involved some 140 participants from a cross-section of Singapore society.

When we compare the 3 scenarios and the 3 PE2011 candidates, table below shows an interesting coincidence:

Prism Project
PE2011 candidates
Tony Tan – supported by PAP
Tan Cheng Bock – a splinter of PAP
Tan Jee Say – alternative

For the PAP, it wants to maintain a status quo – continuing with the present economic and social policies – population, immigration, health care, education etc. If they really cannot hold the position, the PAP will prefer to transit from .com to .gov by providing more cares to the people.  In this case, the younger brothers of the PAP are still in control of the government.  It is clearly stated in the Prism Report that is a splinter of the PAP.      

[Referring to a point when Workers’ Party said something about the coalition government last year, it is possible this splinter group, not the original PAP, joins hand with WP to form the government.]   

What the PAP totally cannot accept is the scenario 3: described Wikicity as:

In WikiCity, there is no central power because in this world, political unhappiness from a government that was disconnected from ground sentiment resulted in a low level of trust among the people. 
The state looks after foreign relations, trade and law and order, while keeping taxes and regulations as light as possible, much like the way the British ran Singapore in the 1960s. 
Because of this, though, communities are independently formed to help one another and provide essential services and assistance. International companies will withdraw their investments due to the instability but high net worth individuals who settled abroad will return to invest in promising enterprises and spare productive capacity here.
The description above sounds very familiar and matches the tone of the PAP towards oppositions, especially SDP. 

The 3 scenarios can also arrange into 3 types of political developments in Singapore: 

Prism Project
Political Development#3
Status Quo

What we have already known of ‘Singastore’ is the status quo – the present situation of Singapore. Do you think it can remain unchanged for another 10 years? Most will think it will move towards SingaGives or something between Scenario 1 and 2.

Scenario 3 type of transformation is also possible but seems like a wild card. It is a wild card because Prism Project gives it a negative definition as does the PAP.

Why don’t we disregard the likelihood scenario and think of the unlikely scenario?  Majority will agree that Scenario 1 – SingaStore will not happen in 2022. It is preferred by the central planners but is not acceptable by the people.  

The likelihood and possible happenings will be the other 2 scenarios, their combination or new scenarios. This will depend very much on the people’s power not the central planning of the PAP.   
Only if the central planning of the PAP succeeds, then Scenario 1 will remain and there are not many changes in Singapore in 2022.    

Selection of participants

Todayonline reported that ‘some 140 participants from a cross-section of Singapore society’ participated in the scenario planning.

This project, likes the National Conversation and other government projects or surveys, suffers from sample bias.  When Mediacorp tried to explain the participants to the TV forum of National Conversation were fairly selected, we all know that this explanation of inclusiveness cannot stand.

If you click on the name list of participants: Young Singaporeans (21-22 June) #4, you will see there is not a single student representative from NTU.  However, you find students from NUS, SMU and even SIM and JCs in the name list.  By this analogy, the meaning of ‘cross-section of Singapore society’ may need to be redefined. 

Is this only happened to this sector workshop or others? Even for an easy task of selection of student participants, this exclusiveness can happen.  What about other sector workshops?  

However, to central planners, they will use their own definition of ‘cross section’, inclusiveness, and of course, their desired scenarios.  And can all these face the challenges of times and changes?





Saturday, 27 October 2012


80年代从政的总理,在近30年来的政治生涯中,是否有真正了解到民间疾苦住屋难的问题。在无数次的接见选民后,他还是无法解决居民的住屋问题, 因此,他的简单结论就是,破碎婚姻是住屋问题的导因之一。




















Thursday, 25 October 2012

Peak Oil, Peak PAP, Peak Singapore and the Golden Age

Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline. 

When we talk about the golden age of Singapore, we are also referring to a stage that we have reached the maximum of our growth and development.  If the present day Singapore is the golden era, then we will see the decline soon. But is it a Peak PAP or Peak Singapore or both?

So, using the Peak Oil concept, we may also extend the same logic to Peak PAP and Peak Singapore. Few will disagree that Peak PAP means the seats of PAP MPs in the Parliament will decline in future elections.  The only possibility to increase the number of PAP MPs in future is to increase the total number of members of Parliament in Singapore.  But in terms of percentage, the current 93% is the peak for the PAP and then it will decline to a lower percentage in future.

Whether we have reached the Peak Singapore or not, it is harder to say.  But if it is still the PAP ruled government, then perhaps we have reached the Peak Singapore as they have used up all their supported resources. (And the National Conversation is not inclusive enough to push us to a new high level).

PM Lee in his speech to Singapore International Energy Week 2010 pointed out the following interesting points:

<We consume energy in the course of almost all parts of our daily lives. It makes possible the way we live, work, play and travel. And ever since the Industrial Revolution and especially over the past century, mankind has relied on cheap supplies of fossil fuels to drive economic progress. But this dependence will be very difficult to be sustained. >

Comparing the cheap fuels and the cheap labour including our very own Singaporeans, the future growth of Singapore is certainly cannot rely on this cheap labour supply anymore.  In fact, as the government has promised after GE2011, we have already reached the stage of Peak Foreign Labour.   Future increase of foreign labour will be moderate and controlled. Nevertheless, the population under the PAP has yet to reach its peak and maybe through some creative arrangements some increases in population can be re-channelled to the pool of labour force.  

So the golden age, the Peak PAP, we are talking about is the golden age of the PAP and its associates, including mainstream media which has lost its monopoly status, the ISA for the use to detain political oppositions, and perhaps the moral high ground of wealth creation, casino and civil servants, etc.

Peak Oil does not stop the progress of the world so does the Peak PAP. Singapore will continue to grow and develop after the Peak PAP. We will use less oil and of course, Singapore will use less cheap labour. The Singapore sustainable growth and development will have to shift from materials gains to a meaningful living – a situation quite different from Peak PAP.

In fact, take the example of the USA; they are now consuming less oil, water and many other natural resources with a bigger population as compared to 10, 20 years ago.   USA is still progressing even though at a slower rate.  Singapore, being a small country and a first world country, can no longer consume resources including our human resources like the past.  Even land use and population, many believe we have reached the level of Peak Land and Peak Population.  

In the same speech, PM Lee said:

<There are two sets of concerns. First, fossil fuel resources are finite and depleting. Easily tapped supplies will gradually diminish and then the next supplies will become more expensive; in more inaccessible areas, deeper under the ocean, with new complex technologies involved in extracting the fossil fuels. The concentration of oil and gas supplies in just a few countries also raises serious national security concerns. >

The future supply of foreign labour, like oil, will be more expensive and difficult to get by.  In fact, Chinese construction workers have found that the wages offered in Singapore are no more attractive and they can get the same compensation in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Also, will the concentration of labour supply in a few countries a national concern to us?

Energy generation can come from fossil fuel and other alternative resources, like winds, solar or even nuclear power (that the PAP is very interested in). Singapore, as a country, will continue relying on energy to boost our economy and support our daily life.  From this aspect, relying 100% on the PAP source of energy is a risky decision and is certainly a security threat and concern to the future of Singapore.  It is all because we have already seen the Peak PAP.

Monday, 22 October 2012

小贩中心难圆星洲梦 懒人也要有懒的机会


作为瑞士家园的一部分,从1986年起,政府便开始不兴建小贩中心了。理由很简单,任何旧东西在新加坡都可以被取代。小贩中心虽然取代了街边的小贩,但是,我们是一个前进的国家,政府希望国人也能享受到第一世界国家的生活水准。在国民所得增加的有利条件下,我们现在居于世界领先地位,当然也可以享受到更好的生活素质。所以,小贩中心的更进一步就是冷气食阁 这才算是进步。湿巴刹的下一步是超级市场。










这里面的懒,可能需要加以说明一下。新加坡雇员是世界上每周工作时间最长的雇员之一, 为何还会懒呢?或许,从老板的角度看来,工作时间只不过是条件之一,雇员还要有拼搏精神,自动自发的精神,自主精神。



《打头阵在明年中动工、2014年底建成的武吉班让小贩中心,由职总富食客合作社经营。询及另九个小贩中心将交由谁经营,维文说:我倾向以非盈利模式经营。之前由周士锦领导的小贩中心公众咨询小组,建议使用社会企业模式,我们希望能扩大这点,所以我在寻找其他愿意成立社会企业或社会合作社的机构,经营新小贩中心和那些在未来两三年所有权交还给政府的小贩中心。 (早报1021日)










According to a 2010 Gallup survey, 16% of Singapore residents who are not already business owners reported that they have thought about starting a business, compared with 40% in Hong Kong and in 33% in Taiwan. The number of people who have actually acted on such pipedreams is no doubt much smaller. Unless Singapore gets much better at understanding what drives entrepreneurs and how to identify and nurture those precious few who exist, Singaporeans may continue to create the ideal capitalist society but see most of the returns to capital flow to others.
Read more:

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Clearer picture better dream when distance from the establishment

Far away from the establishment, looking back from a distance, the past PAP Mandarins are giving us a clearer picture and better future of Singapore.  From shock therapy of wage reform, insurance coverage, minimum wage, wealth creators to OB markers, Singaporeans now see more of the true views and opinions of the former associates of the government.

And most of them can only do it when they are retiring or leaving their previous government posts.  Perhaps, this is because when they integrate more with the ordinary people, the normality of their true characters re-appears.   By this analysis, when the government announces civil servants can join the National Conversation, one will be able to predict the outcome.  Even without gag order, the experience of the former top civil servants has already given you the answers.

What does it mean? It means when the government policies are not in the right directions, no one can stop it. When the government is doing some wrong things, no one can stop it from the public administration, all the way up to the Parliament and the President.    

What do you think? We wait to see some lights only after some former Mandarins recollect their experience when they are no more in their official positions. Even that we only see limited pictures or some selected versions and views like the OB markers comments from Cheong Yip Seng.   

So, are we really stepping ahead by a few steps or stay putting? Or, worst, we are like the Mandarins and civil servants waiting for further instructions from the PAP?        

Here are some quotes from some of them:

Gerard Ee after leaving NKF on Singapore dream:

I think nobody has really looked at it from a non-economic point of view. If you look at America, it is a diverse group of people, and they are proud to be Americans, especially in a crisis. They do not sing Star Spangled Banner; the common theme uniting them is America the Beautiful, because the song is about a dream.
Compare it to Stand Up For Singapore and Count On Me Singapore; it is as if we have not done enough. What holds people together is a common dream. Where is that song that paints the dream that we can share?

Lim Chong Yah on income of the poor after leaving NWC:

He was the economist who created a stir when he suggested raising the pay of low income earners by 50 per cent over three years. But Prof Lim Chong Yah, 80, believes that it was the right thing to do and that the wage "shock therapy" suggestion had generated a lot of healthy discussion that moved the inequality debate forward. 

Ngiam Tong Tow on one-party state after retiring from civil service:

During the dialogue, Mr Ngiam was also asked about his thoughts on a one-party system versus a multi-party system. 
In response, Mr Ngiam cited the ancient cities of Sparta and Athens. "Sparta was efficient and disciplined, but in the end, it failed, because such a state is very brutal, whereas Athens was very chaotic, argumentative, messy, but they survived," he said.

Even Tommy Koh, he also talked about income gap, minimum wage and medical insurance:

He identified insurance as one area where Singapore “didn’t get it right”, touching also on the nation-state’s failure to achieve inclusive growth — more specifically in terms of plugging the income gap.
“We need to fix the equity of our existing healthcare system. We have a system at the moment that does not meet my standard of fairness,” he said. 
“I think the state should intervene and require all insurance companies to insure people with prior medical conditions. There should be no one in Singapore who is not insured against a potential catastrophic disease,” he added, noting that, currently, insurance companies will not cover applicants who have pre-existing medical conditions. 

Finally, even the mouthpiece of the PAP government has to acknowledge that changes are coming: no more newspapers closure, ISA, and more political space. Here are some points from Cheong Yip Seng and his book of OB Markers:

"I have seen newspapers closed when they fell foul of the government, and friends lose their jobs. Journalists have been detained. I did not suffer their fate, but many were the times when I was at the receiving end of Lee Kuan Yew's fury," he writes. 
But at the book launch on Friday, Mr Cheong - who is currently a Non-Resident Ambassador to Chile and a newspaper consultant - declared that such days were over. 
Saying he does not "see this Government resorting to the Internal Security Act to act against journalists", Mr Cheong said he felt the Government will become "less heavy-handed" over time, and will no longer close down a newspaper. 
He noted even its "favourite instrument" of changing editorial leadership in newsrooms will be less effective over time. 
A change in the newspaper team, every so often, "to operate in a way that on the one hand makes the Government happy and on the other, protects the credibility and integrity of the newspaper" is impossible, Mr Cheong said, "unless there are so many able journalists out there who could be shipped in and out".
Noting that it is impossible to restrict the flow of information in a modern economy, Mr Cheong said that as Singapore develops, "it is inevitable that the public is going to demand more political space".

Thursday, 18 October 2012

生命的泪光 终老的选择 人命有价还是无价?

生老病死 ,这是人生之路。一项调查指出,新加坡老人更倾向于高素质的临终生活而非延长生命却又痛苦的活着。这是无奈的选择,还是一种折中,或许,如果经济能力可以的话,更多的人会选择两者:又要延长生命,又要不痛苦的活着。


严重病痛管理费用:        24,000 新元
高素质的护理费用:        21,600 新元
延长生命多一年价值:    9,100 新元

一个对新加坡500多位老人的调查,得出上述的价码来。生命原本就是无价的,现在,看到这个价格表,我们到底是高兴还是不高兴呢?对于生患重病的人来说,多活一年的价值只是9,100 新元。9,100新元,对有些人来说,就像一粒花生米,对有些人来说,却是一个不少的数目。


难怪,国外的调查,对于延长生命一年的价值判断就和新加坡很不相同。他们对延长生命的价值给予很高的价码。以美国,英国为例,这个价码就很不同,他们认为,应该是50,000 新元。




香港貧窮率創10年新低 貧富懸殊續升 3個長者1貧窮香港社會服務聯會研究顯示,在最低工資實施後,去年香港貧窮率創下 10 年新低,跌至 17.1% ,貧窮人口降至 115 萬人,但貧富懸殊則繼續上升,創 10 年紀錄。研究指出,香港各年齡層貧窮率均下降,唯獨長者貧窮率上揚,貧窮長者多達 28 8000 餘人,即平均每 3 名長者就有 1 名活在貧窮線






-       老年护理费用每月450新元,大约等于女佣的费用。
-       希望在家里老死。
-       关心医药费用,选择费用最低的治疗。

负责发表调查报告的Dr Chetna Malhotra指出,人们对价值的看法,对政府的津贴会有影响。她说: 政府花费巨款提供物理治疗来延长寿命,是否有意义?痛苦管理(减少痛楚)和延长寿命同样的重要。