Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A social democracy

Some commenters in my blog described Mr. Lee Kuan Yew as a "communist". This description is not appropriate. Mr. Lee has fought against the communist after becoming prime minister of Singapore. His policy has always been anti-communist. He has put many alleged communists under detention without trial for as up to three decades.

One of the detainee is Dr. Lim Hock Siew. I first recognised this name on the signboard of a clinic in Balestier Road, near where I lived. At that time, I knew that Dr. Lim was detained because he was a member of the Barisan Socialis. I did not know of his background then.

Recently, I read an article about Dr. Lim after he was released from detention. He explained that his philosophy was for social justice. He advocated giving the people better wages, living conditions and a better life. They are the same type of values that I am advocating now. If this is what the communists advocate, it is not that bad after all.

Many people associate communism with oppressive regimes that are found in some countries around the world. But oppressive regimes can also be found in so-called democratic countries where the leaders abuse the state and military powers to retain their political dominance. The types of abuse vary in degree - in some cases they are subtle and in other cases, they are blatant.

We can also see countries that allow democracy adn free expression to get out of hand, leading to a breakdown of law, order and authority. This is also to be avoided.

My preference is a "social democracy". It is a truly democratic society where the will of the people is respected and the government is elected freely. The government promotes social justice through the regulation of the economy to promote a fairer distribution of wealth and opportunity and to prevent excessive accumulation of wealth by a small segment of the people, often by immoral means.

There are many examples of social democracies that have succeeded to give a good life to the people and have a high ranking in the quality of life indicators. They include several countries in Scandanivia and Europe, Canada and Australia. They become the top choice for migrants.

Tan Kin Lian

Quote from Lim Hock Siew's video
The future of socialism

After 50 years when the club was formed, the socialist movement all over the world has suffered a lot of setbacks and even defeats and some wonder whether we are still relevant. The recent economic crisis, the recent financial crisis, has once again exploded the corruption and immorality of the capitalist system and feel that human beings should deserve something better than a aystem that is generated by greed and by corruption,.


J said...

Dr Lim Hock Siew has said:

"In Singapore we have a situation where the government leaders said they have integrity that has to be sustained by the highest pay in the world but yet they demand from political opponents and detainees an integrity that has to be sustained by the longest imprisonment in the world. These two types of integrity, to compare them is to compare heaven and earth."
(about 14.30)

Sadly, there is no longer any integrity left in the government leaders.

Anonymous said...

PAP and Lau Lee did a good job in upgrading the life of Singaporean.

But people are questioning can the same model further enhance the life of Singaporean?

Anonymous said...

Greed underpins capitalism . The behavior of insurance agents is a microcosm of capitalism. Exploitation of the poor is manifested here. The poor are weak and ignorant and easy preys for insurance agents. In capitalism this exists.

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan, LKY is a pragmatist and will attach himself to whatever ism that happens to be popular or put him in power. In this sense such a person can be said to have no ideals other than those of Machiavelli. For this type, the end justifies the means.

Anonymous said...

Who cares whether democratic or communism as long as the government truly cares for and treats its people well.

Anonymous said...

Communism is the BEST system IF and ONLY IF humans do not have GREED.

The downfall of communism is Greed.

LKY build a perfect communist system in Singapore and place himself as a dictator.

Imagine the chaos and downfall of Lee Family when the public comes to know the enormous wealth Lee family has. It'll be the same as Suharto and Marcos.

So he and his family will strive to be the government of Singapore. Simple logic.

Still waiting for PAP Apologist, supporters, sycophants to dispute The perm sec of IRAS to comment on the 'weird' valuation of the property etc.

michael said...

"It doesn't matter if the cat is black or white, so long it catches mice" - by Deng Xiao Peng.

"Stupid!! It is about Economics" - by Bill Clinton during his Presidential campaign against Senior Bush.

I think this upcoming GE will again fight on the platforms which are 'Bread and Butter' issues.

C H Yak said...

Poiltics has evolved over time.

Unfortunately, the ruling incumbent is resisting this evolving "change", and still preaching "own brand" to perpetuate their version of politics and own "ideal" system, and hence their own party existence.

But people cannot remains apathetic if such change is to be recognised and accepted, even if incremental for "change".

In the old days people are politically ignorant and could be easily brain-washed to accept what was wrong , less than ideal or even manipulated, but with this open internet age, I believe these "condemned" old visions may one day be realised and accepted by a more daring and educated electorate, who have seen how capitalism had back-fired.

Anonymous said...

Truly cares for and treats its people well? In Singapore?
Our Govt truly cares and treats its members well, does it care when we have no money to pay high medical costs, does it care when we get conned in investment CDOs and insurance policies, does it care when people are still out of jobs and they give themselves pay rises?
They care about themselves first.
Everbody else comes second, third, fourth ....

Anonymous said...

LKY believes only in LKY-ism, i.e. anything that will get him into power and remain in power.

In the late 40s and 50s, LKY was a self-proclaimed Socialist, because the biggest opposition parties then were socialist, and it was the best platform for mass popular support against the British. The opposition party in UK at that time was Labour Party, which was much more socialist then now, and they wanted UK to dis-band the British Empire. By aligning himself to Socialism, LKY got the sympathetic ear of the Labour Party to fight against the ruling Conservatives in UK Parliament too. (Btw, the main reason why British Empire "dissolved" was because UK was bankrupt after WW2 and could not afford the humongous expenses to run an empire. It was also a condition by the Americans before they would give $$$$ to UK re-construction under Marshall Plan.)

However, after coming into power, LKY has increasingly become more Fascist-like. In case anybody thinks - how can? Not like Hitler what?! Well, just look at the definition of Fascism:-

Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives, values, and systems such as the political system and the economy.

Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus rejects individualism. They advocate the creation of a single-party state. Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement.

Anonymous said...

Kin Lian,

If you think Singapore is not good enough "social democracy" for you and your kind, please migrate to Scandinavia, Europe, Canada or Australia. These are the countries you said follow your so-called "social democracy".

Let face it. When we are no longer big boys but are "have been" we are always jealous of other big boys and their success.

Whatever they do are not good enough in our eyes.

Anonymous said...

You can talk and talk about PAP or LKY and how bad they are, till the bulls come home.

PAP will still win the next election and they will govern for the next five years and all your shit talks are a pure waste of time.

You are lucky if PAP don't sue you "blog politikus" after the election. I hope they do.

Anonymous said...

What is a social democracy? Are you referring to democratic socialism or socialistic democracy?

Is you are pushing for "social democracy", are you considered as a "socialist"?

Tan Kin Lian said...

Reply to 5:44 PM

Social democacy is a new term for what was previous called democratic socialism.

You can consider me to be a socialist. I believe that the socialist philosophy is better for the people of the world. It lead to fairer distribution of income and social welfare and a better society.

The opposite side is capitalist principles - accompanied by greed, exploitation, selfishness, wide disparity of income and other negative impacts.

Capitalism has resulted in economic growth and progress, but does not lead to a happier life or better security for the people.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tan,
You can ignore the FT trash who is responsible for the 2.44 posting.

Anonymous said...

REX comments on anon 2.44pm's posting.

Let me try to understand 2.44pm's mind. It is a common argument, that, those who find fault with senior Political civil servants are JEALOUS, of perhaps, their wealth or their fame.

What's "jealousy"?

Jealousy means to want something you don't have but your neighbour has. And, why do you want to :have: ?

"Have" means you find some thing necessary. You need to have food, shelter and health care, throughout life's journey.

As for shelter, most reasonably successful people around the age of TKL would already have the capital assets like house fully paid up anyway.

As for food and health care, so how much must you have? Maybe $5,000 a month. Maybe $10,000 if you have chronic illness and need medication daily. Let's double it to $20,000 per month, throw in some luxuries plus inflation. You know you can get $20,000 for life quite easily with a capital of less than $10million invested in secure financial instruments. Do you need $100 million? or $200 million? how about $1,000,000? Do you need?

Really, beyond a certain level, MONEY IS NOT NECESSARY. Just like Food. You are born with just one stomach. It's not possible to be jealous of someone else when it is already well fed.

Having said that, one may rightfully desire to have more if the base-situation changes. For example if one is traitorous, and all along, is planning an escape path of Emigration in case Singapore is completely destroyed by nuclear bomb or whatever reason due to bad planning or otherwise. Only then, one would need $100 million or $1,000 million, to buy one's way into nice fancy foreign undisclosed locations which welcome such investment.

Next, what else can someone be jealous of ?
Power and Fame, of course.

Could anyone be jealous of the power and fame the senior political civil servants have? I think not. The kind of fame they get is not very nice, you get critised every day, you have to control the daft people all the time, you cannot relax and have good conscience.

I think that Mr TKL also can't possibly be jealous in this aspect, he's got his fair share of power and supporters anyway.

So, anon@2.44 pm, do you honestly think that the "Jealousy" argument makes sense at all?


Anonymous said...

"Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus rejects individualism. They advocate the creation of a single-party state. Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement."

May I asked whether the christian/muslim faith a fascist regime then?

jamesneo said...

I also like more socialist principles but i am not so optimistic that many governments are able to bring the real benefits to all the people. In many of the countries even in some of the social democracies, there have been evolution subtly from socialist for the majority to socialist for the rich. This socialist for the rich is corporatism whereby the the major corporations are controlled or in league with the government living little private business. In this model, bailout of the rich companies become the norm without care about the impact on the real economy.

If we want to transform Singapore from a capitalist model in to a more successful social democracy, there are several pitfalls that have to be avoided. Corporatism and fascism are often a diversion if the socialist power is given totally to the government. Often this occurs when there is a recession or military conflict. In this times of trouble, the government will try to centralize and expand their power and in trying to "save" the economy, they will bailout or stimulate these companies saying that if they fall it will impact the whole economy.
A better result would be to actually let the incompetent business fall and instead provide real credit to the real profitable small business that hire the majority of their citizens and provide some form of safety net to the unemployed.

Another pitfall is not to encourage the wastefulness and overconsumption based on debt that are prevalent in some of the western economies. Eventually, this debt would mount up and the end result is not a pleasant situation

Thus, for social democracy to really work, the citizen themselves should also be vigilant about electing people that are really concerned about their welfare with correct economical and social principles and should not develop a herd mentality or over-reliance on their government

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