Monday, April 14, 2014

Food For Thought

The Sunday Times printed in full the interview by Financial Times's chief foreign affairs columnist, Gideon Rachman. Except the menu for lunch at the Park Terrace of the Royal Garden Hotel in London, with prices indicated. Maybe they wanted to steer clear of Baey Yam Keng's gaffe with the $2.50 nasi padang meal plus bandung drink and Teo Chee Hean's $1.80 chicken rice.

The FT Rachman, obviously distracted by the delicious piece of grilled halibut and prime minister's pistachio crème brûlée - both largely untouched, it was noted - made an ill attempt at humour when he asked Lee if he always knew he would go into the family business, into politics.

When the guy who told pork chop soup on tap and free smoke at open windows jokes failed to respond in like vein, Rachman was rudely reminded that the PM has successfully extracted apologies and damages from media organisations, including the FT, for suggesting the Lee family has benefited from nepotism.

But humour at others' expense is par for the course. Racham wrote that the Japanese occupation of Singapore in the second world war, the west’s mishandling of the revolution in Ukraine, China’s fear of separatist movements and the bankruptcy of Iceland, all provoked an incongruous chuckle or a broad smile.

Still, the light banter provided invaluable inputs. Such as the day when the PAP is not running Singapore. “It could well happen,” he reportedly replied mildly. “I don’t know how it will work but it could happen.” Lee has told us on more than one occasion that 20/20 vision is not his forte. Maybe it was the effect of the pricey Hildon water - our own drinking water, if everything is going on as planned, by now should contain 5 percent sourced from the toilet bowl - as Lee went on to ruminate on the scenario of a coalition government, “It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now.”

Taking cue from Lim Wee Kiat who reflected on his MH370 commentary and then made a grovelling U-turn, Lee is now saying that "a stable two-party system is naive." He clarified via Facebook post that the possibility of Singapore having a coalition government was not what he had in mind, what he meant was that there could be a day when the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is no longer dominant. Now that's plenty to reflect about.

It's not just the housing shortage, rising health care costs - Singapore hospitals just hiked the A&E admission charges - and regular train breakdowns, dirty money is afloat. Asked if Lee has noticed an inflow of funds from Switzerland, the reply was, “I don’t know where the money comes from.” Rachman was making discrete reference to Singapore being discussed as the new safe harbour for footloose international money. That can't be a stable system in play.

21 comments:

  1. The idea that the PAP may one day not be in power is a no-brainer. In every democracy this is the fate of the governing party. It does not take a genius to say that. What is more important is the idea that a coalition government is inherently "unstable". The question is the "stable' in what sense? We have many instances of "stable" coalition governments. It is quite obvious that the PM's "clarification" (not the usual I was misquoted) was for damage control, having aroused the electorate's desire for change at the coming GE.

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    1. From the interview it seems Ah Loong is clueless on the sort of political landscape that can unfold in a coalition government.
      Firstly, it is not a given that he will remain the PM in a coalition government and it is business as usual in Temasek with the current CEO......in other words, LHL may become just an MP and I think the public will be magnanimous to allow him to stay in the Istana along with his old man.

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  2. He may need to has 20/20 foresight that Singapore rule by coalition gov't or PAP as opposition party if the angers of the people continue. People has enough of him and his useless gang.

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  3. Even our own PM can't properly express himself without the help of his press secretary- tsk tsk tsk.

    below from todayonline:
    “My press secretary has told them that what I meant was that I could imagine a situation one day where the PAP is not dominant, but that I had no idea how that would work, or whether it could be made to work at all.

    The last sentence is also shocking- it is imperative that when a party loses power, it should gracefully hand over power to make it a smooth transition. Sounds like he is already making it known his party will not respect the voice of the people!

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    1. The journalist interviewed the wrong person.
      He should have interviewed the PM's press secretary to get the "correct" view.

      Is PM Lee saying he stands corrected by his press secretary?

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    2. In the case of Lim Wee Kiak, it was Ministry of Foreign Affairs Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sam Tan who made him correct his views. So who could have made the PM change his remarks to the FT journalist?

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  4. When asked when he knew he was going to join 'family business' politics he said he didn't know. Very curious indeed. So WHEN did he actually realize or 'decide' he is going to enter politics?

    He was the youngest BG at that time, most say at the get-go, didn't he?

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    1. He forgot the day he became the cable car hero?

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    2. He became the cable car ''hero'' after someone else had made all the decisions on what to do. they Had to. the story - from many - goes that the BG was totally frozen over how to proceed.

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  5. If he doesn't know where all the footloose hot international money is coming from, then he probably doesn't know where all the footloose hot foreign talents are coming from either. I wonder if one day a SIA plane will also go the do-do bird way - vanishing and we don't know where they come and went. Then that Lim Wee Kiat's u-turn will have more than justified lah.

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  6. Far from almost being killed by the Japanese, his father actually worked for the Japanese who killed thousands of Singaporeans and if I were to beleive him his "uncle" as well.

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  7. They gave pioneer generation medisave subsidies already right?
    So what is the next logical conclusion?
    Without fail, they take back one whole chicken from you lor...increase of AE emergency rates.
    Add to that the beds will continue to be in deliberate short supply, you will soon get another rate hikes in due time.

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  8. I believe a coalition govt with the PAP is also NOT on the mind of the voters.

    1 party is unfavorable. 2 party is gridlock. Then multiparty is the way to go. We support that idea.

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  9. If PAP can't be the dominant party. And coalition is not on his mind. Then as he clearly hinted, you can trust them to come out with a 'more complicated' system lah.

    Just look at the losing GROs overshadowing the winning legitimate MPs on the ground. You can the drift...

    Don't even put up with their convoluted methods.

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  10. If he had the same previous guts to let loose on his mouth, he should repeat his joke about the free pork chop soup in China now that it is reportedly freely available again from the China rivers. I'm sure the Chinese leaders will be greatly offended for him to make a joke out of another country's woes.

    And wait till PAP loses some more GRC seats and let see whether it will still be naïve for him to say that a coalition Govt is not feasible ? He seems to have forgotten he had to say sorry, maybe he can continue to talk cock for some time now until the next GE.

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  11. What is he unsure of? Perhaps he wasn't sure which of the whole range of dirty tricks they would use to cling onto power? Like whether to use umno's sotongmee character assassination tricks or the CIA's false alarm creation in Ukraine to create some reasons to throw a few in a new sentosa detention camp? Money can buy a lot of dirty tricks and even if their boyz in blue don't obey their orders, they can always import some trouble makers like the arab tyrants during arab spring to create some "problems". I think one or two GRCs work quite well for them to show there is a free system, but more than that, you better be ready, don't be naïve, the berseh crowd has a lot to teach us.

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  12. HE is not sure how it will work?

    Well, for a start, get his elections department to start drafting a handbook & guide to a peaceful 'handover' of a government to a new elected party ready. If he needs references, UK is always a good ground to start. After all that GRC debacle and handover, is clear they have not thought it through. If 1 GRC has so many petty flare up issues, imagine when they have to handover the entire goverment? Start cranking...is under his charge isn't it? The people like to see the documents clearly spelled out on the website. Instead of the other versions of 'when freak elections happens, the military tanks will have to come in'.

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  13. Sorry sir, I have lost confidence in your team.....n look forward to welcoming 2016! Cheers!

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  14. Being the highest paid PM in the world by a mile, he has the dignity, espoused by Lim Wee Kiat, to be patronising or condescending to the Financial Times interviewer - for that matter to even Obama or David Cameron - and in the course of the one hour interview, a "variety of grim subjects provokes an incongruous chuckle or broad smile", giving the impression that he is either clueless or callous. He even reprised his incongruous pork soup joke with the "unexpectedly subversive remark" : "The NSA will give you a copy". We are so cringeworthy proud of you, Sir!

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    1. //When people say they don't have a nanny state in mind they are, in fact, in a conflicted state of mind. On the one hand, they want to do whatever they want and not be stopped. On the other hand, if something goes wrong, they want to be rescued."//

      When PAP say they don't want a coalition govt they are, in fact, in a conflicted state of mind. On the one hand, they want to do whatever they want and not be stopped. On the other hand, if freak election happens, they already have thought about a 'more complicated system where is not a one party in, one party out' scenario."

      So you tell me ..what exactly does he have in mind then?

      methinks the ISA will give you a copy lah!

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  15. Singapore too small to afford a gridlock.
    But Singapore is not too small to afford million dollar salaried politicians.

    Head he wins. Tail he also wins.
    Once you are in the throne for a long time, 5 decades to be exact, it will be very hard for the ego to want to share power and seat with a coalition party.

    If LHL wants a stable 2-party system , then his alternative tinkering is to follow the Malta route where Single Transferable Vote can also be played out. Go read the Duverger's law.

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