Saturday, December 26, 2009

About the father of modern day Singapore

Comment posted in this blog

Well, certainly that old man is not the father of anyone other than LHL and his siblings in that privileged family tree.

The point of my anaolgy, was that that old man can be still considered to be father of modern day singapore in metaphorical sense, therefore he ought to have some feelings for the welfare of its people, just as a father naturally wants to take care of his creation.

To be fair, fifty years ago, in creating the Singapore model, I think he was truly a good man fully consumed in trying to make singapore better, how to form a cohesive society, how to forge a common destiny. I dont think he was as vicious as Alexandra the Great... in his younger days his policy and vision, and government style was targetting at improving the lot of the locals, and worked pretty well ...even if he anihiliated political opponents.

Fifty years on, he has lost his mind totally this Christmas day 2009.

Many sufferings of singaporeans today are due to his bad judgement and self contradictory policies, in these latter days, but the most vicious and deplorable thing is that he turns around and makes a big sweeping statement that the laziness of Singaporeans is one of the root sources of the problem he and his team created unwittingly!!! With unaffordable HDB prices, with no minumum wage guarantees, no welfare, moving-time lines for old age cpf funds withdrawls, no protection for the ordinary citizens (remember Lehman).. where is the incentive to work hard any more? To make a lazy person work hard, you must provide an environment that makes Life meaningful, and an achievable, worthwhile challenge.

Alas, There is none in 2009.

Twenty years ago it was more meaningful to work hard. But now, you work till you die and cannot even claim your CPF, your own money - yet the government has billions of dollars in its coffers to "invest" with and play big and lose big. Not forgetting MM and his cronies get paid four five times of president Barrack Obama and then turns around and blames you for his bad judgements and policies.

How can he compare with China workers! There are pockets of comfort in many smaller cities in china where life is simple and sustainable. So the chinese workers are prepared to work hard in singapore, they have something to look forward to back home when they bring the money earned in Singapre to their loved ones. They have motivation to work.

We the citizens of Singapore, have none, today 2009.

My heart still bleeds as i reread his response to National Geographic, effectively blaming Singaporeans to be lazy, in front of American media. American has no idea what the heck is happening here, so they would believe his "Christmas day message" not understanding the deeper local issues enumerated above.

Maybe Dr Lee Wei Leng should say something. I enjoy reading her Sunday articles in the papers. She is the only person who makes sense in the family. She is the only one who rock that old man out of his madness and senility.



C H Yak said...

Systems exist to serve the people, not to enslave them.

If one feel enslaved under the system, where is the motivation to work hard ?

Cost of living had gone up tremendously. The ordinary people's salaries had not jump by leaps and bounds for the last decade to be in tandem with the higher costs of living. Ministers' million dollar salaries had. This is ironical.

Anonymous said...

The article is a misleading article. It was writing in the point of view of the authors and many parts relating to MM Lee were rephrased by them.

I am amused how many people here cannot differentiate.

By the way, for those who did reach the top of bukit timah hill, you would have know that the signboard was more for the radio station and a few steps further you would have reach the real summit of bukit timah hill.

As will all writings, regardless of whether it is for national geographic or for a blog like this, it is wise to ponder the motivition and agenda of the author(s). Some things are just sensationalise for readership.

Tan Kin Lian said...

I share the same views as REX. I used to admire Mr. Lee Kuan Yew during the first 25 years of his leadership.

After 1985, when he introduced the "graduate mother" policy, group representation constituency and other unequal and unfair policies, I could no longer identify with his thinking and direction for Singapore.

Matters continued to get worse in the recent years, with the huge influx of foreigners and policies that embrace the extremes of the capitalist model.

We have to say goodbye to the "old Singapore" that we grew up with. I do not know what the future will bring. Most Singaporeans will not have any say in our future anyway.

Anonymous said...

Sir Stamford Raffles is the founding father of Singapore....posted by Mr Bell in another forum.

1. Sir Stamford Raffles founded sg as a trading port. In another words, PSA is Raffles brainchild. LKY developed it using CPF funds. It was known as the Harbour Board.

2. Lim Yew Hock was the brainchild of HDB, formerly known as SIT. If you visit Redhill Close, the 7 storey buildings are still are still standing there. Water, electricity, sewarge and garbage removal infrastructures were there. Finally it was built with lifts, today, your PAP masters are talking about lift upgrading programme. Again present HDB houses were funded with CPF monies, the peasants were robbed of their land using Land Aquisition Act.

3. Sembawang Shipyard was known as Sembawang Naval base. It was completed during the late 30's. It had the world's largest dry dock measuring 300m x 75m. Today, it is competing for ship repairing jobs with the 3rd countries. Major ship building jobs are awarded the Japanese.

4. You don't have to be an archealogist, if you look at the major roads it will speak volumes:

a. Woodlands - Bt Timah Rd - Rochor Rd
b. Canberra Rd - Sembawang Rd - Upp Thomson Rd - i. Thomson Rd - Kg Java Rd -
Bt Timah Rd
ii. Lornie Rd - Farrer -
Queenway - Jln Bt Merah -
Eu tong Sen St
c. Victoria St - Sims Ave - Changi Rd
d. Serangoon Rd - Upp Serangoon Rd - Punggol Rd - Tampines Rd
e. Tiong Bahru, Commonwealth Ave, Commonwealth Ave West, Jln Bahar

5. These hospitals were there during British, Alexandra Hospital (formerly known as British Military Hospital), SGH (formerly known as Outram Road General Hospital), Toa Payoh General Hospital (now relocated as Changi General Hospital), Changi Hospital (now being haunted), Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Kendang Kerbau Hospital. During LKY's era only NUH was added which is insufficient to cater for the population increase.

6. Changi Airport was a mangrove swamp. The British cleared the land and built their Airbase, but Changi Airbase is still there. The commercial airport was Kallang Airport. Tengah, Selatar and Paya Lebar Airbase were built by the British.

7. University of Singapore and Nanyang University were built before LKY era. The British did built many schools and one such school is Raffles Instituition from which your master received his education from.

8. McRitche, Pierce and Selatar reservoirs were all built by British. Your master only know how recycle sewerage water.

Raffles initiated a town plan for central Singapore. The plan included levelling one hill to set up a commercial centre (today's Shenton Way) and constructing government buildings around Fort Canning. Raffles, and the first Resident of Singapore, William Farquhar, gradually moulded Singapore from a jungle-ridden backwater with poor sanitation and little modern infrastructure to a successful entreport and colonial outpost. Hospitals, schools and a water supply system were built. Soon, boatloads of immigrants from India and China were coming to Singapore, in search of prosperity and a better life.

Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

Hi Anon December 26, 2009 11:58 AM
I honestly wish to give the benefit of the doubt to the Great Leader and wish that he had been misquoted, by National Georgraphic, and indeed the article was "misleading" as you suggested.

However reading it a third time from the website again, the words used were unmistakably INSIDE quotation marks "less hard-driving and hard-striving." If this doesnt mean "more lazy" then the sun doesn't rise from the east everyday.

Another piece of evidence, we are well familiar with Great Leader. He does not tolerate parties who misquote him out of context. So why didnt he stopped National Georgraphic from misquoting him and "misleading" as you mr. anon put it..

Actually, i never disputed the fact that Singaporeans are gettng lazier. I only questioned the motivation for a person to be hardworking and how to make a person hardworking and less lazy, and the responsibility of government to forge a culture of hardworking local citizens. My view was already explained, there is no motivation to work in singapore these days.

The solution as quoted by National Geographic, appears to be, just send in the foreigners, quick fix.

Actually as a whole, i do not disagree with the foreingers policy. I actually like it due to other reasons which i shall not elaborate here. (surprised?)

But to tie it up with the fact that foreigners has to be admitted because we are less hard striving, is not quite acceptable, especially when told to american media. What does it achieve other than createe unhappiness and disunity in Singapore and negative feelings in the States.

Good Leadership should inspire and build; not denigrate and sow discord.


Anonymous said...

If govt can do a turn about and charge ERP at CTE after office hours or allow Casino to build in Sgp, don't be surprise they will allow foreigners to vote next time to keep up the winning numbers.....

Anonymous said...

Do not forget the CPF scheme was introduced by the Colonial Government during the 1950+.

Anonymous said...

By the way, minimum wage is not a good idea at all.

Anonymous said...

Reference Rex's last paragraph:

"Good Leadership should inspire and build; not denigrate and sow discord."

And the first prize goes to Rex for identifying the biggest elephant in this room we call Singapore.

I really don't know how much more proof Singaporeans need.

The elephant (something that is so blindingly obvious that most people choose to ignore it because it makes them feel uncomfortable) has been in the room for many years now.

Most Singaporeans have just chosen to pretend it does not exist.

The Singapore Elephant Hunter

Anonymous said...

"less hard-driving and hard-striving." as compare to who?

Is it comparing to our older generation?

I don't mind that you are getting Bill Gate, Warren Buffet etc as PRs. But if we are getting a lot of PR that is helpng to push the salary here lower, I don't think it is sustainable. In another 15 years, we will see a Singapore that is much worse off than now.

Every year we have a high percentage of locals passing O, A and going into polys and universities. If they can't be talents, then we need to re-examined the system that produce the talents? What go wrong?

Why are we able to survive in the 60s and be so powerful in the 90s i.e. One of the four dragons in Asia?

We are definitely in better off position now than then. So what changes?

The only assumption that I can think of is he feels that the current leader aren't up to his expectation. Not working hard enough.

The soldiers can't win a war without a great leader. A great leader is one that not only lead, but inspire!

Anonymous said...

I do not have any issues with the contents of MM Lee's comments in the National Geographic. He is entitled to his opinion, just as I am entitled to mine.

But as a member of the cabinet (MM Lee), I would have preferred that he made his comments in Singapore first.

Since this is a matter concerning domestic policy. It's always good that Singaporeans hear it first.

As a manager, I always make sure that the person I fire hears it from me first.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rex
I refer to your paragraph

"The point of my anaolgy, was that that old man can be still considered to be father of modern day singapore in metaphorical sense, therefore he ought to have some feelings for the welfare of its people, just as a father naturally wants to take care of his creation."

You got it right when you say a LEADER (I disagree with the use of the word father in this context) naturally wants to take care of his creation.

But you have entirely missed the point when you say " ... therefore he ought to have some feelings for the welfare of its people ... "

It's very clear from the way you write, when you think "Singapore", the mental picture in your heart and mind is the people that live here on this island.

But not everyone will have the same mental picture in their hearts and minds, when they think "Singapore."

Imagine two Singaporeans saying and thinking "I want to make Singapore a better country."

One Singaporean (maybe yourself) may think if HDB prices were affordable, then at least we can more or less guarantee that no Singaporeans will ever be homeless in their old age. This is because when you think Singapore, you see a mental picture of people. So to you, this will make Singapore a better country.

Another Singaporean may not see any human beings in their mental picture of Singapore. Instead this Singaporean may only see digits or numbers. There are the Singapore GDP numbers, the Singapore defence numbers like how many tanks, planes, warships etc, Singapore population and fertility numbers, job numbers and etc. So to such a Singaporean, a better Singapore means better numbers. The welfare of Singaporeans does not enter into his mental picture and calculations simply because he does not see this as relevant for making Singapore into a better country. This way of thinking is called "reification."
See source:

People are real because a Martian arriving from Mars will see people. People exists in nature.

Singapore or corporations are reifications because they only exists in the minds of human beings. Singapore or corporations do not exist in nature. A Martian cannot see or understand Singapore or Neptune Orient Lines Limited because these are legal entities that only exists in the minds of humans.

It's important to understand the concept of reification beacuse reification prevents us from seeing the many elephants in the room.

Example: "A corporation exists to maximise profit. So we have to retrench 10% of our workforce in order to maximise corporate profits this year." I hope you can identify the reifications in this statement and see the dangers it poses to people and families.

The Singapore Elephant Hunter

Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,
Dear Elephant Hunter, thanks for your post, it is very interesting. I learned a new word from you "Reification". I went to wikipedia and was very much intrigued by the highly philosphical concepts embedded in the definition of this interesting word "reification". (I guess that you yourself must be a highly educated and philosophical person, for me, this word is really so obscure that in all my years of education and experience in life, i never heard of it.)

You are absolutely correct, the current regime resolved problems entirely via "reificated" model of singapore. Whereas the rest of us don't. The rest of us sees Singapore as a home and we have emotions and sentiments. We don't see ourselves as digits.

I could liken the reificated policy makers to cold, emotionless robots and machines whose only function is to create products out of any raw materials they can find, throwing all defective or suspected defective material away without wasting time to make repairs.
To be fair, the same policy makers should then use reificated model on their own kind. Surely there are too many dead wood non productive politicians wasting tax payers money (part of national wealth) away and of the "less striving" kind in their ranks? They should kick them out of the party or reduce their own salaries to earthly levels beginning with the top echelon leaders!


FrugaLee said...

I totally agree that Dr Lee Wei Leng should say something. I enjoy reading her Sunday articles in the papers as well, especially about her prudent investments.

Like the posh Orchard Road condominium she purchased from Hotel Property Limited (HPL), in 1995, at an eye-popping 20%-discounted price, and sold for a tidy profit 6 months later.

In fact, her father, mother and eldest brother joined in the fun as well ! A family of prudent investors, they must be.

Oh wait, she never explained her motivations of frugality behind her frugal purchase ?

I must be mistaken.

Anonymous said...

MM's views while unpopular, have an element of truth which many Singaporeans do not want to admit.

Putting all the racial bigotry aside, the large number of foreigners who have shown up in Singapore have made it clear that the foreigners are as good if not better than Singaporeans.

This came as a rude shock as many Singaporeans who had bought into the thinking that they because they were more fortunate, they were somehow superior to those from India, China, Thailand, Philippines etc. Worse still is the thinking that because they are Singaporeans, they are entitled to a better life than people from poorer countries.

In response to the negative feedback from the gound, MOM has recently started to cut back heavily on employment passes.

The reaction of business to this move has been predictable. Instead of hiring Singaporeans with higher salary expectations, many moved to restucture their operations so that what was previously done in Singapore would be done overseas. With the spread of internet and other technologies, the ability to operate like an MNC (ie produce in low cost countries, sell in high income ones) is open to the most modest SME. Hence if MOM persists with this policy (many speculate that this is just window dressing for the election), then we will see a slow but sure hollowing out of Singapore's economy.

The future for Singaporeans is very grim as long as they don't want to accept the new economic reality. It is like holding on to making cheongsams, wooden clogs and other goods from the 1960s which nobody wants to buy anymore.

singaporean said...

Say what you want.

I still need a job to pay my bills.

Unless you can arrange free-of-charge
utilities, and food, I will wave a flag, hold posters and protest.

Kia-su & Kia-si ? yeah.

Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

Aurvandil (December 27, 2009 1:43 PM) said that the statement that "singaporeans are getting lazy" has an element of truth.

OF COURSE. It is inherent nature to get lazy when life is comfortable. Americans, Australians, British, any nationality, you will find lazy people every where you go. You will also find hardworking people, don't ever forget that.

The point is why highlight this GENERIC issue particularly to foreign media? What is the purpose? Get their sympathy? What does it achieve? There are so many domestic singapore factors involved (which arguably is created by the incumbent govt policies), american media wouldnt give a damn to. And its preposterous that singapore media has no mention of this highly important statement by a highly important statesman. what does it mean? What is the objective?

Someone had posted an analogy aptly, if he has to reprimand an employee, he always made sure the employee knows about it, and the reprimand will not be done in front of third parties. The employee will also have a right to say something to explain himself. That makes good leadership and promotes mutual understanding, tolerance and respect, resulting in postive way forward. It is a win win approach.

It is nothing to do with the truth or falsehoold of the statement per se. Do you get it, Aurvandil?


Falcon said...

The truth is coming out. Opening the doors to foreign talent sounds politically correct, the truth is opening the doors to any foreigners who is willing to work hard, in whatever capacity, massage, karaoke whatever. Foreign talent creates jobs for Singaporeans is again politically correct and the truth is foreigners are more hardworking and give a bigger bang for their bucks. Pay Ministers more so they will not be corrupt sounds politically correct and the truth is ......
I was astounded when my young daughter reasoned that the concept of having to pay Ministers millions does not actually make sense because the very basic requirement for Ministers should be the willingness to serve the country and hence people who are likely to be corrupt will not meet the very basic requirement of the position and hence the statement should never have arisen. I was really amazed that my young daughter is able to see this fact.

Anonymous said...


It is a small matter if it is just an old man saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

This however does not detract from the economic truth that as workers, the foreigners are just as good as Singaporeans.

Economics tells us that whether we like it or not, the wages of Singaporeans will continue to fall until an equillibirum is reached. This equillibrium is such that the wages of Singaporeans are comparable with that of the foreigners.

There is unfortunately no known economic theory or policy of reversing or stopping this adjustment. The only thing which can be realistically done are policies to moderate or slow down the fall. Also useful would be policies which help people adjust. In this repsect, the Singapore government has failed miserably. Instead of helping people to cope, they seem to be adopting policies which increase the pain.

In the long run, if expectations do not adjust, then Singapore is going to be a very bitter and unhappy place.

Anonymous said...

Rex at 9:58 pm has asked why is the statement made. We are seeing the success of making this statement as can be seen by the example of the 42 year taxi driver who is planning to leave Singapore for Thailand for good. Leaders who are well versed in management concepts and principles can use them to achieve whatever outcomes they want.
If you want your staff to stay and improve then reprimand in private and praise in public. If you want your staff to leave then just reverse the process and reprimand in public!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan
Your blog sure attracts some interesting people. Reification! Like Rex, I went to the wikipedia link to learn more.

To a layman like me, it seems reification is very much like the story of the emperor's new clothes.

The new clothes were not real. But everybody pretended they were real, and acted accordingly to what they thought was appropriate behaviour.

Just like the statement "an organization exists to maximize profit." The organization is not real since it does not exist in nature. But because we think it is real, we think we (managers and shareholders)must always make the choice to maximize profit. Maybe, we all have more choices than we think.

Perhaps likewise also Singapore. Maybe we have more policy choices than we think. Focusing on the people's welfare first rather than maximizing our foreign reserves for example.

Anonymous said...

Why are prices of HDB flats drifting higher?

Everytime, when house values move up, our very "competent" scholar will VERY gladly release new plots of land for for Bidding! So what prices are we expecting these developers to bid for, during these Frenzy high prices period? And the prices keeps going up......

Anonymous said...

What is the good of freedom when you dare not even walk out at night?

MM Lee's view to Nat. Geo. is perfectly sound. Singaporeans are getting more complacent. It is that simple.

Singaporeans keep asking for more and more. The FTs showed that some things that we have taken for granted are actually luxuries for them. For e.g., the ability to log on anywhere in Singapore, to work 5 days week, to have CPF.

MM Lee is just pointing the hard facts. Compared to the earlier generations, modern Singaporeans are less hardworking.

What percentage of the population works 7 days a week? Less than 5% today. 30 years ago - more than 50%.

I will still support our forwarding thinking leader and his party. If not because of some the measures the current Government put in place, if not because of the high level of reserves and strong assurance (financially, polically, and military) we give to foreign investors, if not for the pool of well-educated graduates we provide to the work-force, Singapore will still be a backward little country with no future.

Give credit where credit is due.

Anonymous said...

Rex comments as follows,

hello anon 28 Dec 10 pm,

I agree with you "give credit where credit is due".
I did GAVE credit where credit WAS due. It's Simple Past Tense, as in, 1965 to 1999.

now let's fast forward to the present. Is there anything new and constructive in the last 5 years that continues to deserve credit?

"Auyavadil" mentioned in an earlier post above "the Singapore government has failed miserably. Instead of helping people to cope, they seem to be adopting policies which increase the pain." Some might not agree, as Truth is Relative. (Fill in the blanks, retative to one's bank account deposits)

There is also the argument that why singaporeans are so fussy and demanding. Why not? We pay the leaders 5 times of Barrack Obama? Pay less expect less, but pay more we should expect more. Yes?

Now let us observe an interesting, basic logic flaw in the current "finger pointing system" where the Government blames the people, and Vice Versa. Funny?

In the corporate world, employees are paid by the company, if they are lazy, or if the Company doesnt like you, out you go. After all, Employer pays money to employee so no fight. In normal governments, the taxpayers (citizens) pay the govt (ruling part) to help them lead a better life. The taxpayers are the "Employers". The Govt is the employee. Yet we are given the impression of the reverse. The govt habitually bites the hand that rocks the cradle and even threaten to replace these hands so to speak. The relationship between the paid and the working are convoluted and juxtaposed! Why we can accept the beating and finger pointing (accompanied with no contructive amicable solution) at ourselves, is beyond me.

In my opinion, if any party is paid a premium above the norm for doing a certain job, such party is bound by conscience and by law, to continue to make progress above the norm, irrespective of whatever historically great things achieved by same. It is so in the Corporate world, ask any CEO.

What we want is value for money. It's perfectly ok to have supersalaried ministers if we have superduper polices, fresh ideas, that create breakthrough solutions every so often. Short of that, i could live with a system where the govt are paid simple salaries for doing simple things.

It seems to border on sentimentality to keep repeating historical issues, honouring the creators of a system which worked well for many years. We have to look forward.

As advised, i had already given the credit where credit was due. However i'm totally bankrupt now nothing more to give credit for.


Anonymous said...

Dont just talk. Let your actions speak. What can Singaporeans do to make the situation better???


Anonymous said...

To 28 Dec 09, 10pm, you sound like a PAP supporter? Don't worry, you will be able to cast your supporting vote to PAP in the coming GE provided that it will not walkover.

Please do not blame your post-65ers people for not working hard if your multi-million ministers are not. Like what Mr Tan had said, credit is only given up to 1985, after that you have to earn it!

To Rex, sorry to say that "your arguement is flaw" in the other earlier post, I will give my vote to you in the coming GE if you dare to stick out your neck...

Anonymous said...

Rex's comment "Pay less expect less, but pay more we should expect more. Yes? "

I laughed out loud when I read this. Suddenly the phrase "Teach less, learn more" from the former Education Minister came to mind.

A lot of students are having problems with their Mandarin. So how does teach less, learn more work again?

Why can't we have a slogan like "Work less, earn more" from our Labour Minister. Now if the Labour Minister can really deliver, I will supoort a $50 million dollar salary for that gentleman.

Anonymous said...

Aurvandil's comment "Economics tells us that whether we like it or not, the wages of Singaporeans will continue to fall until an equillibirum is reached. This equillibrium is such that the wages of Singaporeans are comparable with that of the foreigners."

Likewise, the salaries of our ministers should continue to fall until they are comparable with that of the foreigners.

Anonymous said...

rex comments as follows,

ah, Anon. 9.37am you forget that some people are above Economics, they set the rules including what they think they deserve, so you always lose.


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