Monday, September 6, 2010

Political Leader Commenting On Political Leaders

It is open secret that scrunched up pages of The Straits Times make excellent material for cleaning windows. The ink in the newsprint does a better job of wiping glass surfaces than a commercial product like Windex. But for decent reading material, pick up  a copy of Time, Newsweek or the Economist instead.

The September 13 issue of Time has an exclusive essay adapted from Tony Blair's memoir "A Journey". In it the former Prime Minister of Britain reflects on the political leaders he had met, and some he wished he hadn't.  Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, he wrote. "I recall sitting across the table from some leaders, unable to think of anything other than: my God, the poor people of that country. You get the dumb; the cynical; the tedious; the mildly unsuitable; the weird; the products of systems so mad and dysfunctional, you find yourself marveling that the leader is sentient, let alone capable. And frankly some weren't sentient. I remember asking rather unkindly when told of one leader's death, 'How could they tell?' "

Some of the adjectives used might come to mind, when one ponders Goh Chok Tong's recent statement that crowded trains, inadequate car parks and housing shortages are "problems created by our own success". Is he telling us that these products of policy making, like the calibrated intake of foreigners, are typical of the government's benchmark of success? And for which the bureaucrats are awarded performance bonuses? Is the Minister's pay rise also indexed to ballooning HDB prices?  While he's at it, why didn't he include the island wide instances of  flooding? To understand his twisted mind, you have to appreciate that this is the same guy who said in 2006, “Retrenchment is good for Singapore. If there is no retrenchment, then I worry.”

But he's not the only "product of systems so mad and dysfunctional"; just think of the clown who overspent $400 million (probably trying to outdo Mah Bow Tan spending $400,000 to come up with a new name for Marina Bay). Informed by MP Lily Tan that some poor residents couldn't afford 3 full meals a day, Balakrishnan rankled everyone within earshot with, "How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?"

When Mr Blair does have negative things to say of people like Gordon Brown, he can be pretty blunt with assessments like, “Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero.” For the Men in White, even analytical intelligence is now suspect.


  1. It is well-known among civil servants that Goh makes lots of gaffes and weird remarks in his exchanges with foreign leaders. And he is very sensitive that he is not "snubbed" such that he would ensure he is not "missed out" by foreign leaders during the latter's visits to Singapore. (Sadly, he is that vain and haughty.) Truth be told, Goh is an insecure man, who harbours self-deluded pretentions (yet reinforced by yes-men around him) of being a "statesman".

  2. Al Jazeera English (TV)

    Sir David Frost interviews the former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, after the release of his memoirs: 'A Journey'.

    Sep 7th: 3.00am & 7.30am (S'pore times)

  3. Goh's speech was probably directed at grassroots leaders, the ruling party cadres and staunch supporters of the ruling party. These are the folk who respond to being "chided" and feel beholden to the rulig party for what they have.

    Its likely that the ruling party has picked up some static from their base and Goh was responding to the static. He seems to be popular with the base.

  4. Straits Times is also good for paper mache and protecting the floor from stains while painting your HDB flat. You might also want to put some copies in between the mattress and the bed springs

  5. The MIW are arrogant. Being paid their million dollar salaries gave them the delusion that they are the best politicians/administrators in the world. Better than all the Presidents and PMs of any country. They must be at a lost why some of us can't see their greatness.

  6. Old Goh is definitely more popular than LHL with the base, this is why Old man keeps Goh on a tight lease.

  7. When Mr Goh was PM he propagated the slogan "More good years" and you knew what happened thereafter - there was an economic downturn. Recently he organised a mini ND Parade in his ward - what is he trying to prove?

  8. Heard from BBC that shoes and eggs were thrown at Blair at his book launch.

    He should come to Singapore to launch his books, no Singaporean will even dare to call him names or dare buy his book and burn it infront of him.


  9. Why do senior or senile ministers like LKY & GCT still want a piece of the action or more accurately still want to be paid a couple of million a year when they have obviously outlived their usefulness as some streetwise old men or forecasters ?

    Likewise the reverse is equally true, only greedy people will be willing to work for millions for themselves.

  10. when we complain, we are called vuvuzelas! we have no right to complain woh, think of how lucky u are, we used to use Lam Soon soap, used to wait 1 hour for buses, now u dare to complain because we gave you these things, therefore u must be a vuvuzela! another similiar attitude was an MP that claimed that we were mere mortals. Interestingly, Lord Blankfied CEO of Goldman said that in ripping off the American taxpayer, he was doing "God's work".

    But where something is not done properly and it results in a disaster, some people can call it an Act of God. Since an Act of God is defined by Judges, we now know what an Act of God is by legal definition.

  11. Tony Blair is a crook who murdered tons of British soldiers in Iraq war. I think Singaporeans complain too much. We should learn to see things from the perspective of our Government and we will see that the Government is right.

  12. ".....from the perspective of our Government....... the Government is right."

    I totally agree.