Saturday, April 2, 2011
Made Of Sterner Stuff
Many, like Mandela, lost youthful years in jail cells, at the evil whim of one man. Men like Lee Tee Tong (17 years) and Chye Thye Poh (26 years - 32 if you count the 6 years under "restrictive control"). Two who eluded the treachery of Operation Cold Store took up arms and became guerillas in the jungle. They were not the pen-pushers and paper-shufflers biding their time for an invite to a tea party. Some retired when the fight against merger ended with Singapore's independence. Till then they were true to their causes. Indomitable in spirit, all are inspirations in steadfastness.
Their dedication to duty puts to shame the recent lot who simply dropped their responsibilities of high office and left in a lurch. This includes a Chief of Army, a Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Chief Executive of the Energy Market Authority. The message given out is that defence of the nation, maintaining the stability of the Singapore dollar, and securing a more sustainable energy future are expendable job functions - anyone can do it, even a Ken or Barbie doll. Or maybe they just happen to be like Tan Yong Soon, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, who maintains that "if you are a good leader, it is possible to go away for five weeks or even longer". As in a cooking holiday, not overseas assignment.
When DPM Wong Kan Seng said that people prefer evolution to revolution, he's inferring that they have the whole country sewed up, and everyone effectively neutered. Lee Kuan Yew alludes to same when he told Charlie Rose that Arab Spring won't come to China (or Singapore), "Public security is so comprehensive and tight". Nobody else is crazy like the Libyans.
"I think Singaporeans, too, will not welcome a revolution that will shake up everything and get them completely disrupted," said Wong. It would be nice to see him eat his words. Lee also told Charlie Rose, "Well, there are enormous economic problems—a disparity in income between the rich coastal cities and the inland provinces, and in income within the coastal cities. They've got to watch that carefully or they might get severe discontent and civil disorder."