Monday, December 3, 2012

Selective History

In his speech to the PAP activists at their party conference on Sunday, Lee Hsien Loong certainly airbrushed history when he said, "It was this very principle of equal opportunity and meritocracy that Singapore left Malaysia." The hard truth, be it from Toh Chin Chye or Goh Keng Swee, will tell you that Singapore was turfed out of Malaysia. Both will agree with James Minchin, who wrote in his book "No Man Is An Island", that "careful research makes it hard to avoid laying much of the blame at Lee's feet".

From late 1963 to the fateful day of separation of Singapore from Malaysia, he recorded, there was no stopping the deterioration of relations between Lee and the Tunku and their respective confidants. The timeless prose of Mohamad Haji Salleh provides rare insight of the difference of views:


do not say my people are lazy
because you do not know.
you are only a critic, an looker.
you cannot know or judge,
passing the kampong in your car,
staring at the economic data.

do not think my people are weak
because they are gentle,
because they do not build skyscrapers.
have you ever worked in a ladang,
or danced the ronggeng?
can you sing the dondang sayang?
do not think that we have only music
because we love life.

do not write that we have no literature, culture,
have you ever listened to the sajak or pantun
stayed a night at the bangsawan?
have you read the epic shairs
or the theological theses?
how many times have you wondered about history in the blade
and ancestry in the middle of the keris.
or felt the pattern of the songket?
have you lived in a kampong?

do not condemn us as poor
because we have very few banks.
see, here the richness of our people,
the brimful hearts that do not grab or grapple.
we collect humanity from sun and rain and man,
transcending the business and the money.

do not tell us how to live
or organise such nice associations and bodies.
our society was an entity
before the advent of political philosophy.

do no say -
because you do not know.



  1. Very well written prose.
    certainly provides a contrast to PAPigs' economic theories.

    GE 2016.
    Will the PAPigs be kicked out again?
    This time by the Sinkies?

  2. Meritocracy is when LHL should be making way for someone more competent just as what GCT was required to do after only 2 terms. The same for his wife.

    So don't talk cock about meritocracy if he is not really that honest about it.

    1. Meritocracy is Queen's English.
      In Singaporean English, it is pronounced and spelt as;

      1.MeLeeTalk-cracy or

  3. In general, I support meritocracy. It is one of the fairest means to promote a candidate. However, if meritocracy is measured by exam results alone, then we have a problem. The board or organisation that selects the candidate cannot be found wrong. So to ensure the end result, such candidates are given a fast track. Mistakes or incompetencies are not reported by sectional heads since they know this person would likely to become their boss within the next one year or so. The system would continue to fool itself. The end product is that the scholar will become top management and traces of his failures are ignored or not recorded. At the end, we have many top guns only know how to write reports but have no feel for those below them. Is that the meritocracy we want?

    1. Then what you just described is not Meritocracy.
      It's a uniquely Singapore system.
      Best described as Leetocracy.
      A system of governance as defined by LKY.

    2. I personally believe that LKY is enlightened enough to know that his son is not the best man for PM.Otherwise he would not have said that the PAP governing system of packing with enough "elite talents" would enable even a dummy to be the leader, so long he knows how to deploy them.However LKY he failed to understand that talented minds with critical thinking and backbones do not wish to be associated with a dummy as their leader.

      Hence the use million dollars pay to lure talents but attracted the wrong type of talents. I think Mr."What Do You Think" would be a better choice as the PM in the present cabinet.

    3. Re What do you Think would be a better PM.

      What has he done or said that would make him a better PM? He's not even a politician - he can't speak and sway people. Not much personality too. Pinky at least can do that. For all his faults, he can carry a crowd, and is not dour.

      WDYT is an army man. One of Many army fellows in the cabinet, and now heading GLCs and big companies. Count them.

      Some years ago, LKY threatened the army would take over if the PAP lost the govt. Makes you wonder if all these pple are being put in place now, in case of such an eventuality. Think about it.

    4. Who else is better suited to be PM other than LSL himself in the present cabinet? :-

      Lim Swee Say - No
      Lim Hng Khiang - No
      Chan Chun Sing - No
      Tan Chuan Chin - No
      Grace Fu - No
      Yacoob - No
      Vivian - No
      Iswaran - No
      Shanmugam - No

      Who else senior enough?
      Khaw Boon Haw- No
      Heng Swee Keat - Probably but he is a first term Minister
      Tharman - My personal choice as PM, but race may work against him.

      Left only WDYT- He wont do worse than Ah Loong.

    5. That's the problem with having a small and priviledged pool caused by the GRC system.

  4. Meritocracy versus 'Guancy'(CONnection);

    I think the Latter is adopted more widely everywhere.

    Who You know natters more than What You know everywhere, at workplace, in politics or even in inheritance. However, when practised in politics, it becomes nepotism and cronyism. THIS HAS CONSEQUENCE ON THE WHOLE STATE/NATION AND ITS' PEOPLE

    At workplace, only fellow workers are affected, the employer has all the right to favour anyone as he/she pays the salary.

    In inheritance, the favoured inheriter(s) more often deserves his/her due. Most instances, no outsider is affected. So, no public involve.


  5. Meritocracy? Without his daddy, can he be a PM? It is ok for him to be PM so long as he treats singaporeans well. But we all know the answer.