DPM Teo Chee Hean told the gathering of Singapore's top public servants that there are difficult decisions which the Government must not shy from. Taking him at his word, the Hougang by-election and the punishment awaiting two former senior public servants arrested by the CPIB will come about, it's just the timing that will be slightly more difficult.
Not so difficult are the decisions affecting the lesser mortals: bull dozing Bukit Brown cemetery for the convenience of those who afford $80,000 COEs and steaming ahead with building eldercare facilities at Toh Yi where 3 other sites nearby are rejected because they are "reserved for future development". Never has the great divide been made so obvious.
The curious part of his speech is the special praise levied on an ex-civil servant who did not bother to change his travel schedule to be on hand to receive the effusive tribute crafted by Teo. Mr Teo (no relation) retired at 60 after 36 years of a good life at the civil service, last appointment being superscaled Permanent Secretary i.e. can afford pastry cooking holiday in France type. Unlike mere mortals who have to worry about the loss of income when let go before the compulsory retirement age of 65 (or is it 67?), Teo - the ex-civil servant, not the DPM - has already been made chairman of MediaCorp. In Japan there's a special term for this, it's called "promoted to heaven."
DPM Teo talked of a "paradox of government" whereby there will be some who expect their government to play a bigger role, while others think the government should take a step back. Maybe it's something in the drinks served at the Administrative Service Dinner or he simply had one glass too many, but it's difficult to imagine any sane Singaporean thinking that the government should step back from tackling the shortcomings of transportation, housing, health care and foreign imports. On the contrary, the sentiment is more like jia you, jia you (加油! 加油!).