The following is just part of the text of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech for the National Day Rally 2010:
"32. First, competition from foreigners
a. Many Singaporeans accept the economic logic – that Singapore will benefit with foreigners working here
b. But they fear that it will hurt them personally
c. I empathise with this"
Notice he speaks in mechanically numbered paragraphs, there is no prose in his arguments and no poignancy in his words. If you are expecting a "I have a dream" type of inspirational delivery, you need to change channels. Or play the "'Rocky" DVD again. Obviously the desert of disparity that is the current state of our nation, is gazillion miles away from any oasis of hope.
How can he speak of empathy when he has no sense of the angst in our hearts? His father already said that foreigners were brought in as spurs to dig into our hides, and that's got to be painful, whatever the noble the purported objective. What economic logic has Singaporeans accepted, and what benefits have Singaporeans seen with the tsunami of the foreigners? All we see are strange faces grabbing our jobs in the office, even at the kopitiams, and limited places in school and university given away to outsiders, like the recent group of Vietnamese receiving $100,000 each gratis to study here. No bond, no obligation to sign up for National Service. Oh, he did promise to build more schools, but the caveat is that "these new programmes will be expensive", meaning, watch out for fee hikes and new taxes after the election.
The $9K for NSmen is as blatant as any attempt to "buy supporters' vote". After all, in the event of a freak election result, the armoured boys will have to climb into their Leopard tanks and make Tiananmen look like a Disneyland parade on Main Street. But the "largesse" is actually pittance when HDB flats are changing hands at $750,000 (the Bishan seller actually asked for $900,000). Young couples starting out don't wish to be burdened with an albatross of a mortage for fancy BTO flats - they just need affordable subsidised housing, and spare cash for baby diapers. And please provide the long overdue definition of subsidy as HDB declares it. Don't you just hate it each time he says, "I don't want to go into the details" and leaves it to people like Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim to cook up fresh new ways to further improverish the citizenry? Lee Kuan Yew may cajole us to stop at two and marry graduates, but at least he does with with charts and empirical data. A Chesire cat grin and canned applause can only strain credibilty.
And what's with the "Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College” and “Goh Keng Swee Centre for Education”? If they are sincere about honouring the pioneer nation builders, how about a building/public road/bus-stop named after Dr Toh Chin Chye? Oh, he's not dead yet. Then why do we have a "Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy"?
At the end of the speech, no one is the wiser how a calibrated inflow of foreigners - from 755,000 in 2000 to 1.25 million last year - could have been justified. If they blame God for the Orchard Road floods, someone should own up for the gross oversight at ICA. Of course that's as likely an event as Balakrishan being made to account for inflating the YOG budget FOUR times. Sure am looking forward to the Auditor-General's report next year.