Monday, February 18, 2013

Squaring Off At Hong Lim Park

"People support CPF cuts because there are no protest (sic) outside the Parliament." - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 

There was a protest on Saturday, 16th Feb 2013. While it was no Tahrir Square (Hong Lim Park is only 0.94 hectare, a full size football pitch measures 1.08 hectares), the gathering of like minded Singaporeans was numbered at 1,000 (AsiaOne Online), 2,000 (ChannelNewsAsia) and 4,000 (Yahoo!News). An on site call for a referendum on the population issue collected about 1,000 signatures, confirming more must have congregated on the rain soaked field that momentous weekend.

"Arab Spring" (Arabic: الربيع العربي ‎, al-Rabeeʻa al-ʻArabi) was coined for the series of protests and demonstrations which fanned across the Middle East and North Africa. As of September 2012, four governments have been overthrown in countries of that region, including Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who Goh Chok Tong claimed to have "a good conversation" with in August 2009. "I would say he is an introspective person, reflective, thinking about the problems of his country. Certainly an astute person," said Goh, the "he" being Gaddafi, but could easily be inferred to as Lee, given the adulation he gushed of the prime minister's "courage" at the Population White Paper debate.

The Arab spring is widely believed to be incubated by dissatisfaction with the rule of local governments, with some speculating that wide gaps in income levels may have fueled the rising tide. Our local equivalent will be the abysmal Gini coefficient. Other factors attributing to the protests bear a familiar resonance too, such as issues of dictatorial tendencies, human rights violations, political corruption in high places, economic hardships, lost employment opportunities, extreme poverty for the destitute, and a number of demographic structural factors, key of which, in our context, is the dilution of the Singapore identity.

William Pesek of Bloomberg refers to the insidious addiction for more foreign imports as “Ponzi demography.” He describes the mechanism of the destructive process:
"The human-pyramid scheme works like this: Population growth, either through births or immigration, boosts demand for goods and services, increases borrowing, boosts tax revenue and adds to corporate profits. Everything seems grand and leaders take a bow. It’s a bubble, though, and it eventually bursts when population growth stalls. Incomes top out, high debt crushes consumption and investment, the need for public assistance rises, environmental degradation increases and angry people take to the streets."

Thanks to naïveté and misplaced trust in a Government over decades of surreptitious betrayal, the bubble is already here. The ridiculous extremities of affordability are evidenced by the $100,000 public housing units for the poor and $100,000 certificates of entitlement for the filthy rich. When the bubble bursts, as it surely must, it won't be a pretty sight. Those high worth individuals will be the first to take flight with their ill-gotten cash, leaving the lesser mortals with the deleterious aftermath of bad governance. Perhaps then, the people will step off the Hong Lim green and march onto the streets.

Meanwhile they continue to hide behind words. When Lee Kuan Yew missed his Chinese New Year dinner, they said "Mr Lee was not feeling well and had extended his apologies for not being at the event." That was euphemism for a stroke, attributed to a prolonged episode of atrial fibrillation, and a dash to the hospital. They even used a high falutin term, transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which basically means his brain was deprived of blood flow and oxygen. Not that we care, we are sick of it all.


  1. Excellent piece as usual

    1. My vote goes to Tattler for the Minister for Information post. Certainly more informative and eloquent than the useless Ministers we have experienced over the decades in Singapore.

  2. Tanjong Pagar By-election??

    Do we dare hope?

  3. So when are we popping the champagne?


      Let the Buddha Go...

  4. An arsehole surgeon should be consulted to see if there is any anal blockage that is restricting blood flow to the brain.

  5. $100,000 public housing units for the poor and $100,000 certificates of entitlement for the

    Well $100,000 for HDB flats even a 3 room one is certainly affordable or even cheap at current times!

  6. "The ridiculous extremities of affordability are evidenced by the $100,000 public housing units for the poor and $100,000 certificates of entitlement for the filthy rich."

    You must mean another figure for the public housing, or maybe the 1996 bubble when a 3 room flat could still be had for $100k. Not any more.

    Question for all: If population falls and leads to lower GDP, wouldn't that only mean a constant GDP per capita? If GDP per capita remains constant, shouldn't the quality of life remain unchanged? So what's the big fuss with falling population leading to shrinking GDP? Better still, if there is persistent deflation like in Japan, then those who survive would enjoy greater purchasing power with their savings.

    Anyway I think its time to re-open that old posts on Chamie's "population ponzi" you had in 2011 and discredit the goal-seeking, scare-mongering voodoo economics of the charlatans in government.

    1. I agree with you. GDP per capita is a better measure than GDP. But you see, the ministers' salary is tied to GDP. So that is why they are aiming for GDP. By the way, I would say a more equitable measure would be median income.

    2. It is in the DNA of a manager to build a big empire under him. Isn't this place Singapore Inc.?

    3. Ministers' salary being tied to GDP is very similar to mis-aligned incentives among bankers and other CEOs leading them to commit accounting control fraud. Similarly, maybe we can, like England, implement lengthily deferred bonuses, or subject their earnings to clawbacks. After all, misbehaving Ministers should be even more damaging to society than misbehaving bankers.

      Re: measures of GDP vs GDP/capita vs median income, etc. These are clumsy tools to assess life in society. Hurricane Sandy, after-all, led to huge increases in GDP due to spending to rebuild broken lives and property. How can that be regarded as a "good thing"?

      Spending (i.e. GDP) does not equal good. E.g. for Singapore, when gov't awards contracts to GLCs which are inefficient and uncompetitve, e.g. NCS/AIM, SMRT, SBS, Singapore Technologies, SFI getting the army meal contracts, etc.

      Notice the similarity with the US, documented in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, where Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney led the charge to "privatize" and "outsource" public services, with juicy contracts to build army camps (Halliburton) - unoccupied today - with mercenaries in Iraq/Afghanistan (who, not being members of the public service, are not under similar oversight - similar to how outsourcing cleaning services in the SG civil service allows us to "overlook" labour abuses that MOM refuses to enforce), to purchase overpriced vaccines like Tamiflu (like how the Singapore army purchases overpriced food, overpriced spare parts, from S'pore Tech).

      Corrente has this nice piece about the rise of the market-state as opposed to the nation-state (with a nice e.g. of healthcare privatization in NZ leading to worsened outcomes). It's not very well-formed and coherent yet, but it looks like a germ of an idea that will gain lots of mileage.

      And Singapore seems to fit the description really well.

  7. I will be waiting to pop my champagne from overseas when the old man passes away. Who will his son then take bureaucratic advice on how to be nasty to Singaporeans from? Woody? lol.....

  8. The protest didn't make it to HL or front page news?
    Hardly surprising.
    Yet another one of Ah Kong "mini stroke" didn't make it to front page..that's surprising.
    But all the foreign wires are reporting it along with the "mini protest".
    Alas..all is well again. The sun continues to shine.
    Brilliant "stroke" eh.?

  9. The Real Master2/18/2013 9:45 AM

    What do you think would have happened to Gaddafi had he the foresight to resign, step down and be an ordinary citizen at the height of his people's anger?

    Unlikely it would make any difference to how he was tragically "screwed" by his people, but at least it lasted or prolonged his life a little longer. So instead of being killed in Jan, he was killed in June. The ending is the same.

    So back to LKY. With a conferment of a grand title such as grandmaster and an overflowing cup of "foreign" praise that keeps flowing like an open dam, the anger of its people keep pouring in too -- as if it makes any material difference to the people, it actually aggravates them further.

    And the only reason for keeping him behind the Party machine? Is as clear as why the Pope has to remain in the Vatican.

  10. Haha.......

    Will the arse specialist be moved from Punggol East to serve the Tanjong Pagar constituents?

  11. Have dreams, have high faluting wishes and whatever wild ambition and imagination, there is no escape from destiny(宿命)。

  12. An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ''UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?''

    'UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are"


    Fear Not. When the bubble bursts, the slipping middle class will be expediently replaced by the foreign class.

  14. "the gathering of like minded Singaporeans was numbered at 1,000 (AsiaOne Online), 2,000 (ChannelNewsAsia) and 4,000 (Yahoo!News)."

    Had they mentioned the protest in MSM prior to Feb 16, the number would have been in the tens of thousands. Still, thousands showed up with little publicity.

  15. LKY once boasted to us that he would jump from his grave if something is not right. Now that something is obviously wrong, the question is wouldn't it be more effective if he chooses to jump out of his sick bed now instead of from his grave eventually ?

    The moral of the story is that if a politician's words is to be believed, then maybe the PAPigs can also fly, isn't it ?

    When will these type of dishonest lies going to stop ?

    1. Meanwhile in the underworld...Hitler, Saddam, Gaddafi, Mao and Pol Pot are having discussion if they should accept his emigration to their private club. They are afraid he will seize a chance of his second lifetime to turn their world upside down. So the limbo continues.

    2. Casinos in Singapore - over my dead body.

  16. I like to see LKY die slowly and painfully and also disfgured as his body rots

  17. Square his Circular Logic2/18/2013 2:02 PM

    From our Emertius Goh who is obviously hearing the people very well :

    “Too political, too one-sided, appealing to emotions only and not shedding light on important issues,” he wrote on facebook.

    How does one square his circular logic that his party's White Paper is not one-sided, appealing only to hard heads with GDP numbers only, and they are bringing in alot of darkness on important issue such as "How to stamp use of excessive foreign labor/talents while growing a sustainable economy with a swiss stardard of living?"

    Really, I am only asking for a green paper. Is that too much to ask?

  18. @ UBUNTU @ 2/18/2013 10:42 AM

    In Singapore, PAPigs say UFUKOFF.
    I am because I fooked you.

  19. Quality of people is more important than the quantity. PAP has betrayed the trust of people long ago by restricing access to university education to only a selected few.

    1. And yet here we are.
      And 60% still vote for PAP.

    2. I suppose you did not read about
      USA education situation.

      More 50% drop off rate for degree course. Of which only 50% of the graduate earning a degree's pay.

      Think the time and money waste by those who cannot utilize
      their cert. Further more Part of bill is sponsor from tax payer's money.

      PAP govt in fact is following your wish to double its local intake without consider is there such a demand.

  20. And to the above...

    How many are really truely singaporeans..

    We need to understand from 1993 the PApigs has been importing "new" citizens...

    How many are really for Singapore...How many are for the PAP...those who benefited from the PAP...will continue to support the Papigs..

    Sad. For everyone in the end.

  21. man i love your posts but couldn't pass by the ignorance you have about arab spring, especially Gaddafi, you don't read much about foreign politics do you? Arab springs were " initiated" and "planned" by outside forces. now before you call me a conspiracy buff, Google yourself and find plenty of information. Basically Gaddafi was a people's leader, he united tribal leaders, shared crude oil's income with people in the form of various welfare programs, so foreign oil companies didn't like that. The last straw that broke the camel's back was Gaddafi's idea to start trading oil for gold. it was threatening US dollar's supremacy.
    Economic and social reform
    With crude oil being the country's primary export, Gaddafi sought to improve the position of the Libyan oil sector. In October 1969, he proclaimed that the current trade terms were unfair, benefiting foreign oil corporations more than the Libyan state, and in December the RCC began successful talks to increase the price at which they sold their country's oil by threatening to reduce production.

    "From 1969 to 1973, the government introduced social welfare programs, funded with oil money, which led to house-building projects and improved healthcare; education remained a lesser priority. In doing so, they greatly expanded the public sector, providing employment for thousands."

    1. Man, I love these conspiracy theories. Like the ones about 9/11 planned by Mossad.

  22. GE 2016 LETS GO