|Plain porridge or abalone?|
Baby boomers recall it was Teh Cheang Wan who first riled Singaporeans with the threat to withdraw emergency lift services if citizens from those wards check off the wrong box in the ballot paper. Lee Kuan Yew rose to his defence in parliament, saying that the Minister may not be able to string a complete sentence in grammatical English, but he "had a good mind". That was before Teh was investigated in November 1986 by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for accepting two bribes of $400,000 each in 1981 and 1982. Too bad the good mind was applied to personal asset enhancement.
Then in 1996, despite being returned to power on polling day thanks to a convenient walkover, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong threatened to turn other constituencies into slums should their votes go against the PAP. The foul was so vile, US Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright sent off a note of rebuke.
When PM Lee insists that "there must be an incentive to vote for the Government", he was resorting to what is termed "pork barrel politics". It refers to spending that is intended to benefit constituents in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. The principle is the same, the "pork" involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are focused on a selected area but whose costs are borne by taxpayers all across the land.
In the Philippines, legislators are allocated large sums of the annual national budget in a program called the Priority Development Assistance Fund. Politicians often misuse their allocations for selfish purposes, particularly through "kickbacks" and commissions from their projects.
The Finnish politician uses siltarumpupolitiikka (culvert politics) in reference to national politicians concentrating on small local matters, such as construction of culverts and other public works (our equivalent of lift upgrading and covered walkways) at the politician's home municipality, and Romanians have "pomeni electorale" (literally, "electoral alms"), while the Polish kiełbasa wyborcza means literally "election sausage". The Czech předvolební guláš (pre-election goulash) refer to free dishes of goulash served to potential voters during election campaigns. Ah, so that's where the idea of free abalone porridge came from!
The second volume of Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs was called "From Third World To First". Maybe the next volume will be titled, "From First World To Third".