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.