Monday, September 12, 2011

Pride Goeth Before A Fall

"And you sat through the whole session, while he had a razor at your neck?" incredulous colleagues couldn't believe I had allowed the Malay barber to snip away while opining about the 9/11 incident.

Having missed the live horror on the television screens the night before in 2001, thanks to an exhausting workday, it took a few seconds to register why the normally reticent enche asked me how I felt about the disaster in New York. Oh, you mean the airplanes crashing into the twin towers? Terrible, isn't it, so many people died. "Too bad about that. But you know what, in my heart, I feel good about it," was the unexpected response. Why? "Because the American people are too proud." Thinking he must be one grossly misinformed dude, I offered to contribute my old weekly magazines to his pile of reading material for waiting customers. He accepted.

Ten years hence, many books have alluded to that pride and arrogance. Gideon Rachman, in his sweeping commentary ("Zero Sum World", Atlantic Books 2010) of 30 years of history, wrote that when the Soviet Union self destructed on Christmas Eve 1991, the United States became the world's sole superpower. She had also "kicked the Vietnam syndrome" when Saddam Hussein was booted out of Kuwait. Japan, the once feared challenger to American dominance, had slumped into stagnation after the crash of 1990. Rachman coined The Age of Optimism (1911 - 2008) as a period of unparalleled American power, with the US as the core of a global economy. 9/11 delivered a cruel blow to the source of arrogance - globalisation and the US as leader of the "new world order".

But arrogance still rears its ugly head. In defending the two obnoxious PA letters ("I cleared those letters,so I think that is the position"), PM Lee makes no qualms about outing his choice of ghost writer. Expanding on why opposition MPs cannot be appointed grassroots advisers, the two-faced PM Lee maintained the work of PA was non-political, while admitting that at times, they had to "do some things that are not nice". Things like putting the spin on why Government had to carry out public works such as a MRT project which exposes residents to the risk of permanent noise-induced hearing loss. The poor guys at Bishan MRT Station won't be enlightened anytime by the PA about laws that are desirable for the preservation of the living environment and conductive to the protection of human health.

" falls to the grassroots to be the interface, to work with the people to try and help to minimise the impact but at the same time, ultimately, what has to be done has to be done," he declared in all finality. In short, his way or the highway.


  1. Great post.
    And quite frankly, by now I am rather fed up, sick and pissed off by his assertions that PA is a vehicle & part of the government (just like hospital, education etc) to explain, administer & carry out their 'not very nice' policies which we the voters rejected at elections, but yet continue to fund them as GROs at my bloody expense.
    If we go by this logic, then the Opposition MPs by mandate of the people, & part of the parliament /govt, should also have a "Cabinet-officers" to shadow on the PAP MP who must also help explain, administer and carry out their 'not very nice" voices & policies which we the voters elect (NOT reject) them to do. So by that token, I demand PM Lee appoint a cabinet/ministerial seats for each of the Opposition Members in the parliament to represent us.

  2. Is this you writing, Tattler? Seems different ;-)

    Anyway, by the same admission, we can also triple-confirm that PM & his Party are feeding those headlines to the vehicle of govt - those spineless, uncritical & unindependent thinking, party-toeing columnists in Straits Times what /how to frame the issues and 'sell it to the people'. Swell, they are just one happy colluded familee.

  3. The 'affective divide' is now afflicting the PAP itself. Between the elite-ranked who are parachuted into high positions ahead of the grassroot foot soldiers who toil for the party who hope to rise up the ranks the old fashion way.