Monday, August 31, 2015

When Viswa Met Catherine

Everybody knows Meg Ryan was faking it in "When Sally Met Harry". But there's nothing fake about the frank exchange of views in this Inconvenient Questions video . Viswa Sadasivan, a veteran news and current affairs presenter and former Nominated Member of the Singapore Parliament, was really upset when he asked Catherine about people who are capable of engaging the government for the greater good of Singapore but abdicating the responsibility (at 16:42 or thereabouts).

He calls it "intellectual hypocrisy". Not willing to go out on a limb but wanting others to fight the battle. Even for the doyenne of Singapore writers, that choice of phrase was a very strong outburst. Her own anecdote was about a "highly educated" friend who said she had to vote for the ruling party because her son-in-law was due for a promotion. Her prognosis is that the "very compliant" older generation is about to be replaced by a more vocal young. It is no longer convenient to hide behind the veneer of fear.

Only a few know that the bogey of the serialised ballot paper was invented by the Barisan Socialis, who tried to frighten the masses from voting in the "rigged" referendum of 1 September 1962. Unfortunately for them, spoilt/blank votes were counted as Option A - actually all the three options, A, B or C, were for merger. The self censorship is still working, and the incumbents are still benefiting from the unwarranted fears.

The orgasmic moment in the interesting dialogue is not the mention about Amos Yee being interviewed by CNN last week (not BBC). Near the end, time for broaching the inconvenient question, the author is asked if Singapore is ready for a non-Chinese prime minister. Citing "the sincerity that gets across", Tharman gets her full hearted and full throated endorsement. Okay, that should explain why the present one is still fighting hard "to earn your trust and support."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gross Profiteering

Poor Ng Eng Hen, nobody seems to heed his no-negative-campaigning directive. Teo Chee Hean bared his fangs at a fair damsel just because she paid compliments to the Fengshan hawkerfare. Goh Chok Tong upped the ante with his version of Sun Xu's "more dogs than humans in Singapore" tirade; the fossilised has-been lambasted citizenry who "chase after bits of meat thrown by the opposition."

Looming ahead is a potential rehash of the bak chor mee saga of general election 2006. The podcast classic poked fun at the ruling party’s incessant demonising of Workers' Party (WP) candidate James Gomez, for botching up his submission of election forms. The mainstream media devoted pages and pages to what amounted to a laughable "sorry also must apologize" crusade. Then some disconnected individual thought he could hire Jack Neo to produce a “mee siam mai hum” variant in retaliation, and the rest is history.

The politicized Ministry of National Development (MND) statement about the former managing agent for Workers’ Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) “grossly profiteering” from services rendered is insidious on its own, but the enlightening response cuts to the chase:
"With regard to paragraphs 3 to 5 of your letter, we wish to highlight that arrangements between FMSS and its employees are entirely commercial and not within the control of AHPETC.  I am not aware of the matters you have highlighted therein, as AHPETC does not ask its contractors about their profitability or internal arrangements.  We emphasise that AHPETC has ensured that payments made to FMSS are in line with and within the budget provided under the tender awarded.

In any case, it is misleading and unfair to compare MA rates charged by FMSS with MAs of other town councils under the People’s Action Party (PAP), since their MAs did not submit a single bid for our public tender for MA services in 2012.  FMSS’ bid for MA services in 2012 was assessed, using the former rates charged by CPG Facilities Management for the PAP-managed Aljunied TC as a baseline.  It is also ambiguous as to what the Ministry means by an “abnormal” profit margin, when it is not clear what the other MAs’ levels of profit are in other town councils."

What is not ambiguous is that citizens' contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) have a return of 2.5% while the appointed investment houses regularly trumpet Total Shareholder Return (TSR) has been 16% since inception. Perhaps MND should share their thoughts on this mode of “gross profiteering”.

Tharman provided respite to the furor when he gave assurance that the AHPETC issue is not treated as "political game", nor "aimed at putting the WP down":
"When I speak about an issue, it's because I'm worried and I want to make sure we have responsible and honest politics in Singapore, that's all."

So do we, Mr Deputy Prime Minister, we are all on the same page for responsible and honest politics. How about having a quiet chat with the minister who is hiding behind the poison pen of the MND official?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

No Personal Animosity Intended

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam claims that his key points made at a Singapore Press Club forum on Thursday (Aug 27) were:
1) The Chinese leadership in various local areas in Malaysia want to maintain control over the Chinese population;
2) At the same time, many mainstream schools in Malaysia are becoming more Malay and Islamic which discourages the Chinese from going into those schools.;
3) So you end up with having more Malays going to mainstream schools, and more Chinese going to Chinese schools.

That's the kind of racist commentary that upset sensitive types and got Singapore tufted out of Malaysia.

When Sangeetha Thanapal ("independent scholar and social media activist engaged in anti-racism work in Singapore") took offence at the interference of a neighbouring country's domestic politics, the Indian law minister's initial approach was civil and statesman-like, the type of classy response that makes you wonder why one racist said Singapore is not ready for an Indian prime minister:
"Dear Madam, I hold no personal animosity towards you. Will be happy to speak with you."

The meeting of the minds - Sangeetha thanked him for offering to speak to her and provided her telephone  number so he can call her on Saturday for an appointment - will never take place. We are disregarding spousal objection to the out-of-office rendezvous here. Higher powers must have intervened, and now we have an oddity of a law minister intending to file a police report over the Facebook post which has been deleted:
"Who are you, an Indian, to be deciding what is that acceptable enough way to be Malay-Muslim?"

Whoa! What happened? Can the spirit of a dead horrible person reach out from Hades to possess the living (鬼上生)? Somebody or someone has to be putting words into the peace-loving animal-lover type politician:
“(The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew) foresaw these things, which is why he kept talking about such issues. And, each time he talked about those issues, every generation which was not his generation tended to be dismissive. ‘Here goes old man again trying to scare us.’”

The scary part is that this could be a cockamany election tactic to move the populace to rally around the flag when missiles (figurative! figurative!) from Malaysia start flying across the Causeway. If that's the game plan, someone will be sorely disappointed. The more likely outcome is that risk adverse fence sitters will finally realize the rabble rousers are from within, and that the time for alternate leadership is long overdue.
30 Aug update: Shanmugam has decided not to file a police report after all

Friday, August 28, 2015

Price Of Honesty

The practitioner on the art of seduction
The question from the floor at a National Day Rally public forum organised by government feedback arm REACH (Reaching Everyone for Active Citizenry @ Home) was about the justification for the stupendous Member of Parliament (MP) allowance, which stands at $192,500 annually. Vivian Balakrishnan's response that no politician will work without financial incentives speaks volumes about his, and his party's, motivations.

General Nguyễn Cao Kỳ once confessed that everyman has his price, and his was an American helicopter. It came in useful during the fall of Saigon, he piloted himself to safety on one of the aircraft carriers positioned offshore for the evacuation. The question unasked was what is Balakrishnan's price.

His insinuation blemished the memory Lim Kim San who demurred compensation to take on the challenge of housing the masses. For one who sits shakily on a moral high horse, he should pay more attention to his own words:
“It’s not making me popular, but I will insist on honesty … on declaration of conflicts of interest … on declarations of related party transactions. I will insist that ... if you’ve cheated before, come clean.”

This coming from one who has yet to account for the $79.8 million buried in the books as "Other costs" in an inflated blowout of $387 million. Every project budget has an element of contingency allowance, typically about 5 - 10%, but $78.9 million should raise eyebrows, and warrant investigations of shady dealings like, say, related party transactions. Facebook user Ghazali was arrested for questioning the increase in the YOG budget because he wished figuratively to "burn Vivian Balakrishnan and the PAP" and "rally together and vote them out". The Minister's comment?
"I didn't know about it until I read about it in the papers. It shows that I almost didn't care."

We should care. It's our money, and we are not even referring to the plunder of the Central Provident Fund. Honesty is not restricted to money matters, it's synonyms are integrity, probity, and rectitude.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Paying The Price

New faces on the block
According to official spiel, this general election is supposed to decide on the team which will set the direction for Singapore for the next 50 years. Yet only 9 days - the minimum period under current election laws - is set aside for the electorate to vet the new players. This looks more like speed dating on steroids.

While the alternate voices - a better term than the derisive opposition label - struggle for a seat in parliament to represent our wishes for a better future, the incumbents have a string of hangers on lined up to ride coat-tails into office. A quick survey of the day jobs they are jettisoning in favour of entering politics suggests that monetary reward has to be a prime motivator:
  • former Syariah Court deputy registrar Rahayu Mahzam, 35
  • deputy director at a polytechnic, Darryl David, 44
  • assistant general manager at some child care outfit, Joan Pereira, 47
  • foreign exchange research head at a Malaysia bank, Saktiandi Supaat, 41
  • corporate lawyer - please, not another overcharging Alvin Yeo - Amrin Amin, 36
  • an animal activist, Louis Ng, 37
Even a former Assistant Commissioner of Police can expect a hefty hike in take home pay. As for the executive director of a homegrown investment, trading and management consulting firm, the game changer has to be "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".

Goh Chok Tong begs to  differ, he is saying the electorate are the ones being seduced. In his equivalent of the horrible person's call for repentence, he admonishes:
"And if the (Marine Parade) people are not careful, they will be seduced... they will pay a price."

Goh has a curious choice in turn of phrase, accusing the alternate parties of "looking for plunder". Another $3 billion has just been announced to seduce the senior citizen's vote, on top of the Pioneer Generation Package goodies. Coming in at a time when industrial output has shrunk for 6 months in a row - with potential to drag the economy into technical recession - one has to ask where the money is coming from. Ask nicely, not the way Chee Soon Juan once did:
"Mr Goh! Mr Goh! Come here Mr Goh! I want to talk with you, come here! Where is our money Mr Goh? You can run, but you cannot hide."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Day Of Infamy

It's the final pork barrel giveaway - an extra day off. Never mind about the loss of productive man-hours, the incumbents are still relying on the easier method of productivity growth, shipping in more foreigners. Besides, Friday starts with a "F", as in "Fifty", used ad nauseam to mark the golden jubilee, although some may associate it with an unprintable four letter word.

Punters were placing their bets on September 12, since the last general elections of 2011, 2006 and 2001 were all held on a Saturday. September 11 is, and always be, remembered as a day of infamy. That was the day a powerful nation woke up to the danger of a foreign threat. Our own version of 911 happens to mark the first election since Independence without the horrible person making his ominous presence felt at a nomination center.

His image, however, is still being milked to the hilt by the mainstream media. That, and scary archival footage of falling bombs when the Brits were having their butts kicked during WWII. Goh Keng Swee was on duty with the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF), assigned to the "Battle Box" (an underground signals centre) at Fort Canning, when the air raid sirens sounded. Another volunteer was Edward William (EW) Barker, member of the Machine-Gun Company, comprised mostly of Eurasians. The infantry E Company was filled by Chinese recruits, while the Armoured Company manned by Europeans. There were about 2,000 men in the SSVF. ("Goh Keng Swee, A Portrait", by Tan Siok Sun, page 41)

Most of them are dead, many probably killed in battle repelling the invaders. Not for them the honours that were bestowed by the daft on two wartime collaborators, or richly rewarded with princely appointments. 911 is a reminder of unsung heroes, not fictitious champions of our down trodden. The tragedy that will unfold on Black Friday is that more will have to repent before true democracy can prevail on this island.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Same Old, Same Old

The Elections Department (ELD) is tweaking the rules again, raising maximum spending limit from $3.50 to $4.00 per voter, tilting the "level playing" field to political parties with deeper pockets. Other changes include new ballot papers featuring candidates' mugshots "to help the elderly identify the candidates". Since we only get to see these guys face to face once in fifty five years, we won't know the purity of their hearts from a brief encounter. What they should include is an accompanying short quote reflective of their true colours:


"If you’re lazy and work less, you’ll have less Medisave" - Khaw Boon Wan
"Without foreign workers, Singapore is likely to become a ‘garbage city’. Cleanliness is a character thing. It shows who you really are." - Goh Chok Tong on Tokyo has no rubbish even though the Japanese capital has no rubbish bins in public places

"A manpower policy that advocates hiring "Singaporeans first" will not benefit the economy in the long term" - Senior Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor
"We (also) need to reflect, are we the way they described?" - Bay Yam Keng on Sun Xu's "more dogs than humans in Singapore"
"However, it may not be wise to call for the tradeoffs to be tilted further to an extent that it dissuades good people from coming forward in future” - Grace Fu on ministerial pay cut
"Some cardboard collectors treat it (collection of cardboards) as a form of exercise and activity rather than being cooped up at home" - Tan Chuan Jin
"Well, everybody has a car, we have two — my wife drives one, I drive one. We are both professionals, we need to travel" - Koh Poh Koon on car ownership
"...I regret making the decision because, in the end, the baby continued to be in intensive care, and KKH now runs up a total bill of more than $300,000..."- Lim Hng Kiang on regretting the decision to save a baby's life.
"If we spent 387 million dollars, will we get value from that expenditure? In my mind, the answer... is yes." - Vivian Balakrishnan on YOG budget blowout
"Whether a participant perished or survived depended on where he or she happened to be at the time." Heng Swee Kiat on why 12 year olds died on Mt Kinabalu

Monday, August 24, 2015

Please Let Them Go

You know the National Day Rally Speech (NDRS) has hit a new low when viewership has to be boosted with a "getai" introduction. Did anyone count how many times the horrible person's name was mentioned? Crooner Kit Chan should have chosen another tune from the Disney blockbuster, "Frozen". You know, the one with the chorus line that goes, "let it go, let it go, let it gooooo........"

You really have to think twice if you were planning to buy a second hand car from this guy - who also professed to a second career as a housing agent - when he says his best performing ministers are Vivian Balakrishnan and Lim Swee Say. If someone opened a window, the audience should able to get a whiff of the free smoke from Indonesia. Wait, it gets betterrer, even the Kate Spate fetish gets a mention. Maybe it was just a distraction so someone can swipe the toothpicks. How come Deputy Prime Minister Tharman did not warrant a mention? Latter had arguably produced the best soundbite in 50 years, about the provision of a trampoline instead of a safety net so Ah Kong can bounce back to collecting cardboard boxes till age 65, that's upped to 67 by 2017. And if we are to believe Tan Chuan-Jin, it's a healthy exercise to keep active, instead of wasting time doting on grandchildren.

After the litany of pork barrel giveaways - Special CPF Housing Grants, New Fresh Start Housing Grant, New Proximity Housing Grant, Higher Medisave Grant for newborn, etc - he still has to make sure the daft knows what the speech is all about:
"...if you support what we want to do ahead, the future that we are building, the please support me, please support my team."

Notice there's no discussion about a workforce decimated to two thirds "core Singaporean", whether the outing Transport Minister's promise of a fare reduction will be kept, and how hard the Medishield Life premium will be hitting us - except the neat reminder that the premiums will start when a baby takes his first breath. Mahathir was roundly trashed for saying certain folks were provided for from cradle to grave. Last night there was clapping for being taxed from the womb to the tomb.
Warning: The expiry date has just been extended

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sorry, Mr President

"Teach less, learn more" has to be the ultimate oxymoron. The idiots who implemented the policy in 2005 cut up to 20 percent of content in the syllabuses at primary, secondary and pre-university levels. Thanks the trimming of knowledge base, we now have senior civil servants who  can't spell the name of Singapore's first President correctly.

Ravi Menon, managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), may own up to the embarrassing gaffe, but he had a whole staff who must have had half a chance to proof read the booklet which accompanied the issue of the SG50 commemorative notes.
"This should never have happened, is not acceptable, and I take full responsibility. I apologise on behalf of my colleagues who worked hard to prepare the notes and folders but are deeply disappointed that we made this most unfortunate mistake. We will put this right."

The education system has to be blamed if officers at that level (read income tax bracket) are so careless, and disrespectful of our history. According to Heng Swee Keat, the systematic reduction "include content that relies on recall or focuses on technical details not critical to students' understanding". Thanks to the debasement of instant recall, "Yusof" was spelled "Yusok". Instant recall would have prevented the other gaffe of cockles being mistaken as an ingredient in mee-siam.

And the Education Minister wants to cut school content further - and pay the teachers 5 to 9% more for the exorcism - this time purportedly to focus on critical learning. Asked by Fareed Zakaria about encouraging creativity, Tharman Shanmugaratnam said, "The toughest question to ask ourselves... is not what we add to the education system, but what we subtract." Indiscriminate use of the scissors can only lead to a sanitised version of our past, and mislead a whole future generation that only one name needs to be remembered. And spelled correctly.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Story Of Singapore

The story of Tanjong Pagar is the story of Singapore, so sang Chan Chun Sing. But when one reporter asked who will be taking over the horrible person's Tanjong Pagar division, the ex-major general said that will be decided after the election. The reticence is understandable, given that this is the season of the roaming hungry ghost, no one is prepared to walk in any dead man's shoes. Meanwhile, invoking his name in every political spiel seems to be the order of the day.

It is ironic that Tharman Shanmugaratnam should ask us not to judge politicians on their soundbites or soaring rhetoric, but on their "mundane, unexciting" contributions on the ground. He, who offered up the trampoline instead of a safety net for those who are falling through the cracks, knows too well the right word will immortalise or bury the speaker. Nobody wants this engraved on his or her tombstone:
"(For example,) you go to Peach Garden, you eat the S$10 XO Sauce chye tow kuay (fried carrot cake), you can be quite happy right? Because you are satisfied with the service and so on. On the other hand, you can go to a hawker centre, even if they charge you S$1.50, you might not want to eat it if the quality is not good."

We worry not about this type of entertaining contribution, but the "mundane, unexciting" policy making that is hell bent on ramming up the population target to 6.9 million and beyond. The taciturn Liu Thai Ker is even more tenacious, "Forget seven million. Think ten million people, if you want this city-state to succeed."

Like the parable of the frog in the simmering kettle whose survival instincts are geared only towards detecting sudden changes, Singaporeans only woke up when foreigners have snapped up their houses, jobs, and seats on the public transportation system. A few years back, when Mah Bow Tan was still minister, a well connected civil servant expressed surprise that Mah unwittingly exposed the (then) 5 million population target. It was their closely guarded secret. Yesterday Lim Swee Say revealed another well kept secret: two-thirds Singaporean core a firm target.

One who was intimately involved in quietly turning up the heat is Sim Ann, who worked in the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD)  under the Home Affairs minister. You won't find her name in the unsigned Population White Paper (PWP). Given the mike at a dialogue organised by the National University of Singapore Society, she shredded her unexciting persona to take a vicious bite, casting aspersions about money lost in accounting lapses ("But in the case of AHPETC, I’m not too sure,”):
“I wish that more answers had been forthcoming from AHPETC. Then I think we would have wasted much less time on the issue and I think the population would be much the wiser.”

For folks who profess preference for "mundane, unexciting" undertakings, that has to be stirring up an hornets' nest. The population is much the wiser, and the incumbents face a Herculean task in attempting to stuff the rot back into Pandora's box.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tall Tales


It's the kind of one upmanship that is best suited for a men's locker room. Seriously, comparing lengths at a public kopi-tiam?

Former public servant Joan Pereira started it off by boasting about her record length of grassroots service: "My 25 years of grassroots experience has impressed on me the importance of anticipating and meeting needs of residents."

What she did not anticipate was the delicate ego of her male colleague, who countered with "police officer for 20 years, grassroots volunteer for 30 years." Born in the 1970s, that would make Melvin Yong the youngest political activist at age 13. Pereira started official party work in May, she has been seen walking the ground with Indranee Rajah since last year. When it comes to political truths, the mileage will vary.

And you thought you heard everything when the anal doctor Koh Poh Koon claimed that he and his medical graduate wife only had $11.50 in their bank accounts when they shifted into their HDB flat. You know the incumbent party must have scraped the bottom of the barrel, and now resorting to the terminus of the alimentary canal, to recruit such running mates.

Even the mainstream media contributed, writing that Yong's last day of work with the Police was on Sunday, Aug 16, a public holiday. Unfortunately for the hard working Assistant Commissioner of Police, Yong was spotted at Tanjong Pagar GRC mingling with residents at a walkabout organised by the People's Action Party (PAP). Which is in blatant breach of the Code of Conduct published by the Public Service Division (PSD) to remind civil servants they should be “completely neutral in all political matters and matters of public controversy".

Forget about filing a police report. Parts of Tanjong Pagar GRC came under his watch as Commander of Clementi Police Division from 2010 to 2014. His band of brothers in that ward will ship you so fast to the Institute of Mental Health for a medical review that you won't know what hit you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Putting The House In Order

Tharman Shamugaratnam referred to the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) accounts as "a house in danger of collapsing" even though the town council has tightened financial and accounting procedures in the aftermath of the Auditor-General's Office (AGO)'s observations. He took particular delight in reiterating the AGO observations on administration of grants, tendering and management of revenue contracts and related party transactions.

Over at another construction site, People's Association (PA) deputy chairman Lim Swee Say said his house is not at risk of collapse, "We've learnt from findings of the AGO and will improve to do better." Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Lina Chiam reminded him that the AGO had discovered only in 2012 that Lim's PA had excluded grassroots organisations' accounts from their financial statements for umpteen years. Exclusions that, no doubt, allowed profligates like the Admiralty Citizen's Consultative Committee (CCC) chairman to approve his personal expense claims of $114,767 without much hassle. That figure includes 3 missing receipts totalling $56,050 for "workplan retreats". With Lim not enlightening us further with details, one can only guess the partying that can be hosted for that kind of money. No champion of transparency himself, Lim did not name Tonic Oh as the toxic philanderer. The distinguish holder of the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal) was outed by social media.

Abusing monetary grants received by PA was just what Chiam called the "tip of the iceberg". The other lapses include related party transcations and mismanagement of revenue contracts, abhorrent transgressions itemised by Tharman in glee. Even if there is no evidence of fraud or corrupt intent, an errant  officer may face serious disciplined action, including being barred from promotion for a few years, Tharman said. The quick and dirty alternative is to resign, and sweep everything under the carpet.

The big bad wolf huffed and puffed at the piggies' houses, but we know only the one made of bricks withstood the blasts. Those resorting to straw - and inclined to invoking straw man arguments - will be witnessing their own collapse pretty soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One Nation, Two Standards

The Speaker of the House is an important appointment, the second most powerful after the prime minister. Halimah Jacob has no excuse not to know the rules and regulations. Although she outranks the President, that doesn't mean she can start campaigning for votes before a writ of election addressed to the returning officer has been issued:
Candidates can only mount election campaigns from after the close of nomination up to the day before the eve of polling day. No campaigning is permitted on the eve of polling day itself, which is known as "cooling-off day".

The packet of rice she's caught handling out to residents in rental flats at Marsiling Road may not be haram, but pork barrel politics definitely is. With or without a SG50 sticker.

Problem is, the tudung clad member tends to make her own rules. Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Eugene Tan thought he was just doing his job when he pointed out to the Speaker in the nick of time that quorum was not met when two bills were about to be passed in parliament. Leader of the House Ng Eng Hen managed to save the day by asking for an adjournment instead of summoning the MPs back into the Chamber.

Tan had made it well known - online, offline and maybe kopi-tiam circuit - that he was seeking another term as NMP. He was not chosen. Chairman of the Special Select Committee of Parliament Halimah Yacob explained:
"We looked for eligible candidates who had distinguished themselves through their contributions to society or to their respective field, and who could bring their specialised knowledge to add to the depth and breadth of debates in Parliament."

Future generation leader hopeful Lawrence Wong is not about to distinguish himself by saying anything to make her look "malu" (Malay for saving her half covered face). In the immortal words of Robin Williams in "Good Morning Vietnam", "This will not look good on my resume."

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Looming Clash Of Egos

Earlier this month (4 August), Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 74, was pondering (on Facebook) whether to run in the sweepstakes. Friends asked him to call it a day, while he also claimed some Marine Parade residents had urged him to stay on. No spring chicken, this stuffy dinosaur is way past his expiry date. He promised to explain his decision at at the Marine Parade National Day dinner on the 14th this instant.

Come Friday evening, he admitted he had contemplated retirement. But even the ex-prime minister was not captain of his own fate. A few days before on Wednesday, we are told he met with the standing prime minister and "We had a long chat." Obviously stepping aside for young blood was not on the menu, all the talk about transition to the fourth generation was grist for the mill. More likely, too many stalwarts have been jumping ship, and even an old goat going off the pasture will be saying volumes about someone's persuasive prowess. Especially when a ex-naval chief had dared to say no to his commanding officer.

Goh understood he was supposed to lead the team as an elder.

Next day, on the 15th,  Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin made it crystal clear that he will be the anchor minister at Marine Parade GRC. Tan said this means he will be “playing a leading role” within the team. As for Goh's personal perspective, “We will continue leveraging on his experience."

“One Mountain Cannot Contain Two Tigers” (一山不能藏二虎) literally means that in an area, there cannot be two very strong personalities vying for the leadership role. But Tan need not fret, in an open confrontation, Goh can be a real pussy cat. When the horrible person once described him as "wooden" and said that he might have to see a psychiatrist about it, Goh merely meowed:
"It did not hurt...I knew Mr Lee well. He's not a man to slam you for nothing. He was never personal. So I did not feel he wanted to insult me...He had his purpose in saying what he said. I think he was disappointed with me for my inability to mobilise the ground. So he wanted to get me to do something about it."

Goh added, "I knew myself. I was a block of wood. So? It was the truth."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A House In Disarray

You know this election is not exactly running according to script when the big guns seem to contradict each other.

At the "Singapore at 50: What lies ahead?" dialogue with American journalist and author Fareed Zakaria in July, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam had reiterated that Singapore is in a fortunate situation “where there is a great deal of trust and confidence” in the current leadership and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 63. “Fortunately, he is very healthy. And we have, very importantly in the wings, a group of younger people.”

That explains the colour choice of his shirts, to assure his supporters he is indeed in the pink of heath.

But in an interview with the media on 14 Aug, DPM Teo Chee Hean tells Singaporeans not to take things for granted:
“The Prime Minister is already 63, and had a bout of illness recently. Many of the senior members of the Cabinet are already in our 60s, and come the next General Election a good many of us will be in our 60s.”

As for Ng Eng Hen's advisory about negative campaigning, Teo seems to relish wallowing in the mud. First he derided Low Thia Khiang for shedding "crocodile tears" over the quixotic departure of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, next he lampooned Sylvia Lim for sampling the culinary delights at Fengshan Hawker Center:
"You're going to swallow up Fengshan for what purpose? To serve the residents of Fengshan? Or is Fengshan delicious because you want to add it into the  pot to help the town council with the deficit?"

Ad-hominem attacks are, and has always been, par for the course with the men in white. Leopards do not change their spots overnight. The horrible person has taught them well.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) seems to have problems with enforcing their own advisory as well: trying to keep election campaigning activities and the Chinese Seventh Month Hungry Ghost Festival events separate. Ghostly images of a dead politician should "strictly not be allowed before, during or after election rallies."
 "... even if you put me in an urn and
I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up."

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Their Dream Team

Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC Ellen Lee has been given the boot to make way for new candidate Amrin Amin and former Aljunied GRC candidate Ong Ye Kung. The lady voters may not take this too kindly, after all the lip service about dearth of women in politics.

The acronym FILTH is for Failed In London, Try Hongkong. But after the puritanical Communists took over, even filth decided to move on. Ong's case is a matter of Failed In Aljunied Try again, anywhere, even in Sembawang. FIAT is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort", as in getting into parliament effortlessly through a GRC.

Those who get to stay in the national lottery, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, Vikram Nair and Lim Wee Kiak, are not exactly crowd pleasers. For starters, senior citizens who have been dumped in Johore have Khaw to thank:
"The monthly cost of keeping a resident in a private nursing home in Singapore, you can stretch it easily to pay at least 2-1/2 months of nursing home care in Johor Baru."

Vikram Nair showboated his fearlessness by drinking water from a storage tank fortified by the floating body of a dead Indonesian maid. But the poison was on his tongue when he likened Worker’s Party (WP) MP Chen Show Mao's proposals, for the 2012 Budget to do more for vulnerable groups, to a Nigerian scam:
"Maybe even the Nigerian scheme required you to put $10,000 upfront. But Mr Chen's scheme does not even require a short-term provision. It is not even a deficit for one year. No, no, no. It will pay for itself because it is an investment."

Lim Wee Kiak is the joker in the pack that makes you wonder what is in the drink when these guys were invited to tea at the Istana:
“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discusses policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”
- May 2011, on debate on ministerial salaries;

“I will quote (from your speech then) one more time. And maybe your hearing aid has to be (turned) up a little bit.”
- Feb 2013, on Workers’ Party’s chief Low Thia Khiang's remarks being taken out of context;

“What you realise from this survey is that majority are not asking them (PRs) to serve exactly the same two years system. In fact, serving the two years is a privilege. I am quite glad that many Singaporeans realised that and that should be a privilege that belongs to Singaporeans.”
- Oct 2013, on doing National Service as a privilege;

“If they didn’t have information, they should just say they have no information, rather than come up with a lot of theories. When they do this, people will think they already have some information.”
- Apr 2014, on Malaysian authorities' handling of the MH370 case.

Teo Chee Hean is thinking aloud that "Singaporeans should do what we can to strengthen that (PAP) team and not weaken it." What do you think?

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Heat Is On

Not one for mincing words, Mahathir said Najib's tall tale of a Middle East donor is pure bull. We have our own load of crap on his side of the Causeway too, specifically in the Bishan-Toa Payoh surrounds.

Playing mother hen, Ng Eng Hen is leading three greenhorns into parliament via the GRC backdoor, spouting platitudes like:
"look out for residents" - Chong Kee Hiong
"inclusive society is critical" - Chee Hong tat
"contribute to S'pore dream" - Saktiandi Bin Supaat

There's good reason why the chicken crossed the good: the pay over there is better. Jack Neo nailed it with "Money No Enough". Even the superscaled salaried permanent secretary is aiming for the million dollar lottery prize. He claims his wife had reservations, but Ngiam Tong Dow begs to differ:
“When you raise ministers’ salaries to the point that they’re earning millions of dollar, every minister — no matter how much he wants to turn up and tell Hsien Loong off or whatever — will hesitate when he thinks of his million-dollar salary. Even if he wants to do it, his wife will stop him.”

We have seen freshly minted ministers looking out for cardboard collectors with rose-tinted glasses, championing influx of foreigners into the local workforce, and dreaming of the Swiss standard attainable only by the likes of Goh Chok Tong and his cohorts.

The original headline for the ChannelNews Asia post was "All three hot-button issues in the last General Election in 2011 are still on minds of Singaporeans". That was quickly toned down to "Housing, jobs and healthcare weigh heaviest on minds of Singaporeans, survey finds". The heat is still on.

In the land of America, only a competent democratically elected president will make it to term two. Here in lah-lah land, an incompetent after 7 terms, is still asking for more time to address the same three heated issues: Housing, Jobs and Healthcare. By the time a new entrant to the workforce - fighting tooth and nail to stave off foreigners imported to compete for the same job opportunity - finally pays off the last mortgage due, he/she is already in her fifties, staring at a depleted bank account to cope with retirement needs. Based on current estimates, the Medishield Life premium will be at least $1,400. And the dream of car ownership will start at about $100,000, the price of the smallest public housing flat unit.

Hard to believe, but it's currently on your television screens. Fancy powerpoint slides and crafted statistics about Housing, Jobs and Healthcare. Parliament has yet to be dissolved and the writ of election yet to be issued, but campaigning is already in earnest. How is it Lee-gal and Lee-gitimate to misuse public media for selfish party agenda?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Unfinished Business

Last chance to show Wong can sing.
Singapore's then Minister Mentor (MM) said in an April 2008 email interview that the daring escape of Mas Selamat Kastari from the notorious Whitley Road Detention Centre (WRDC) on 27 February was a "very severe lesson in complacency". MM Lee said the country's security officers knew that fugitive Mas Selamat was "an escape artist", who had evaded arrest many times. "When you are complacent in handling a wily detainee, then you have been negligent," he concluded.

Mas Selamat was captured by Malaysian police during a raid on a house in Kampung Tawaka, Skudai, on 1 April 2009. Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng told Parliament on October 2010 that Mas Selamat "has not given a completely reliable account" of how he evaded being discovered even as a nationwide manhunt was launched to find him, as well as how he made his way to Malaysia. The nation remembers being informed earlier of another incomplete account, that either Mas Selamat was in Singapore, or he was not in Singapore.

Even as Wong, 68, announced yesterday he would not be contesting in the imminent General Election of 2015, many questions about the jailhouse breakout that would forever be associated with his complacency and negligence, are still not answered. Questions like who's bank account the $1 million bounty for information leading to the apprehension of Mas Selamat was deposited into. Or if the two individuals who made the offer ever paid up.

"I've walked through this long journey, more than three-quarters of my working life," Wong told adoring fans at his swansong. "Don't you think I deserve a rest?" Like the albatross weighing down on the seafarer in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", Wong must have been burdened by the stigma of the Mas Selamat saga. Just as another jailbird, Amos Yee, will be the curse on the last politician standing from his batch of 1984.
"Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time To Abandon Ship

The body language says it all: someone has to pay
When Ng Eng Hen said election season was officially on, it was as good as declaring open the hunting season - it's time to lock and load. Cecil the lion was not the only one caught in the cross hairs. Unlike gentlemen of the naval tradition, Rear Admiral Lui Tuck Yew was not prepared to go down with SS Sampan 2.0. Not for him the ignominy of suffering a kamikaze mission like George Yeo was assigned in 2011.

Lui's letter of resignation mentioned a promise of reappointment as a Cabinet Minister if he was re-elected. He knows too well about empty promises from horrible people. Like the promise to return one's life savings upon attaining age 55. And what about Lui's recent promise of a 1.9% decrease in public transport fares in December? Will that disappear too with his hasty departure?

Raymond Lim, Mah Bow Tan, Wong Kan Seng, all had at least 5 years of member of parliament allowances to tide over to the new income tax bracket. Poor Lui will just have to go cold turkey. Hope the wife won't have to work overseas as a dometic help. Fortunately Lui won't be clinking champagne glasses with businessmen who demand to drink only with millionaire ministers they can look up to.

Supporters of Lui will likely point out that the appointment of a (retrenched) DFS sales girl as CEO of SMRT was not his doing; ditto the bungling bunch of army general staff currently derailing the public transportation system. However, the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) opening screw up was definitely all his undoing.

"You reminded me that the responsibility of Government was a collective one," wrote Lui, knowing full well the hollowness of those words, having witnessed at first hand others being thrown under the bus. Namely those once in charge of transport, housing and homeland security. Better to walk away with head held high, instead of leaving it at the chopping block. He did tell the press, his departure “has nothing to do with family or health reasons”.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Quiet Before The Storm

What the mainstream media labelled as derisory horse trading turned out to be a demonstration of maturity in the opposition ranks. One by one, they sacrificed personal agendas for a common objective, the return of Singapore to Singaporeans.

Announcing his party's decision for not contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC in the coming General Election, SingFirst Secretary-General Tan Jee Say said that they will leave the Reform Party (RP) to take on the People’s Action Party team there.
“Yes, we have decided earlier not to contest in Ang Mo Kio GRC in the spirit of opposition unity. This is not to dilute the opposition votes so as to give RP the best chance to win in Ang Mo Kio, a constituency helmed by the PM himself.”

At another camp, National Solidarity (NSP)'s Secretary-General Hazel Poa relinquished Marine Parade GRC and MacPherson SMC to avoid more multi-cornered fights which are likely to "dilute opposition votes and reduce the chances of a more diverse Parliament."

Meanwhile Workers' Party (WP)'s Sylvia Lim thanked NSP for the sacrifices so that they can focus on their targeted 10 constituencies announced. And NSP thanked Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) for withdrawing from Sembawang GRC “in the interest of opposition unity”.

So why is everybody playing nice? Is it the unintended effect of all those overtly sentimental songs with the home-heart-dream themes highlighted by a little boy? Don't be lulled by the rhetoric of a gentlemanly battle professed by Ng Eng Hen. The horrible person who said Deng Xiaoping was justified in crushing the young bodies of students with heavy tanks is just as likely to pass down the evil lessons of Mao:
“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

Monday, August 10, 2015

Flexing Muscles

According to the BBC, they spent $15 million to put up this year's National Day Parade. The figure has to be grossly understated considering the fancy hardware on show.

"If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China
from another 100 years of disorder, so be it."
Made up like Andy's plastic soldiers from Toy Story
Design looks familiar, hope copyright not infringed
Used in Chiangmai? Why not Indonesia forest fires?
Perfect for aerial view of  opposition party rallies.
Extra large smoking-causes-cancer stickers required.
Waste water! Waste water! Fine! Fine!
Just the thing to demolish horrible house at Oxley Rise.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

He's Back!

video

Our boy is back, comparing the founding father with Osama bin Laden, rebutting criticism of his long hair, dancing hands and colourful language, and generally teaching fellow citizens of Singapore a lesson about criticising your own government.
In a 2015 report Freedom House, the US-based non-governmental organisation, labelled Singapore “partly free”, with the city-state scoring four out of seven for both political rights and civil liberties. One represents the most free.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Speeches From Hell

You don't have to be the mother of someone detained without trial to walk away from the television set every time his image comes on. It's scary enough to see a horrible person speaking from the underworld, so the guys who wrote the subtitles had to tone down the hellfire and brimstone rhetoric to the bare minimum. Self censorship is so defeatist, the unexpurgated truth is more liberating:

"It is necessary to try and put some safeguards into the way in which people use their votes to bargain, to coerce, to push, to jostle and get what they want without running the risk of losing the services of the government, because one day, by mistake, they will lose the services of the government... You unscramble Singapore, well, you'll never put Humpty Dumpty together again."

"I ignore polling as a method of government. I think that shows a certain weakness of mind - an inability to chart a course whichever way the wind blows, whichever way the media encourages the people to go, you follow. If you can't force or are unwilling to force your people to follow you, with or without threats, you are not a leader."

"Mine is a very matter-of-fact approach to the problem. If you can select a population and they're educated and they're properly brought up, then you don't have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained. It's like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it's got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts."

"You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again... and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers."

"Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister...She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac...Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society."

"Singaporeans, if I can chose an analogy, we are the hard disk of a computer, the foreign talent are the megabytes you add to your storage capacity. So your computer never hangs because you got enormous storage capacity."

"The final verdict will not be in the obituaries. The final verdict will be when the PhD students dig out the archives, read my old papers, assess what my enemies have said, sift the evidence and seek the truth."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Who's The Boss?

Ng Eng Hen is supposed to be the chief strategist for this coming election, but nobody seems to give a hoot to his edicts, namely (1)outgoing incumbents to introduce replacements after August 9, (2)don't use Facebook to broadcast retirement plans. And that advice about negative campaigning didn't last too long either - advisor Teo Chee Hean is already taking pot shots at a certain town council, even when his own National Research Foundation (NRF) does not pass muster with the Auditor General.

Former Transport Minister Raymond Lim was pretty loquacious when he was head of some think tank called the Round Table or something. Since re-elected in GE 2011, he lost his voice for the whole duration 12th Parliament was in session (10 October 2011 -). And he suddenly pipes up only to utter, "It has been a great privilege and honour for me to have served as your MP these past 14 years.”

Goh Chok Tong was more provocative. He used Facebook to call his own shots:
"As for me, A few friends have suggested that I retire as I have done enough for the country. But Marine Parade residents and many others urge me to stay on. They say the country and Marine Parade still need me.
Well, I will explain my decision at our ND dinner on 14 Aug. Wish me wisdom."

As we understand the status quo, his ultimate fate is determined only by two parties. One, the electorate, who sent George Yeo packing to Hong Kong, and two, the prime minister, who alone decides who stands and who falls. But Goh upped the ante by announcing the candidacy of Edwin Tong ("at my request"), the lawyer defending the round-tripping hijinks of the City Harvest Church pastor - and the infamous flow chart used to trace the circuitous movements of our Central Provident Fund (CPF). If that's not enough, Goh just declared that the Kate Spade aficionado will be back, complete with a live SG50 baby package. Who, pray tell, is really in charge?

Years ago, when there was speculation about the People's Action Party (PAP) splitting into two ranks to provide the people with alternate voices in parliament - as in give the people cake, and eat it too - the scenario was to have Goh leading one team, and Lee Hsien Loong the other. No need for messy opposition parties meeting in secret and provide horse trading stories to sell local newspapers. Don't you just love the smell of scandal in the morning?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Interview That Never Was

When the camera started rolling as the two walked towards their places for the televised "A Conversation with the PM: Our Future, Our People" interview, Lee was heard saying to Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee, "Thank you for doing this." Doing what? If this was a conspiracy, how come we didn't get the memo?

Netizens who bothered to sit through the entire programme noted that it ended without any scrolling credits. Whoever produced it, directed it, scripted it, provided the lighting or sound, mysteriously decided to be anonymous. No sign of the MediaCorp or CNA logo either.

Without a doubt, the topic of discussion was about foreign worker intake. Singaporeans first woke up to the problem when a dormitory sprung up overnight at Serangoon Gardens. The residents were castigated for being selfish and ungrateful wretches, and we were told the aliens in our midst were transition workers, going home when the housing blocks have been constructed. Then commuters started to notice more strange faces on the trains, and even Anton Casey bitched about the olfactory pollution. The last straw was when middle management jobs were lost to the new comers - that many of these came with fake degrees was a discovery yet to be unveiled. The excuse used for damage control? It's a competitive world out there, and the spurs that need to be dug into behinds apply to the job market too. Too bad if the Singapore core is diluted with rogue elements, and the fragile identity ethos is being torn apart with new divisive entrants. Yang Yin was an officially credited member of the Integration and Naturalisation Champion (INC) committee in Intan Mokhtar's ward.

When Prof Chan presented him with a yes-no question ("Now with the curb on immigration flow, Prime Minister, have you won more support from people, compared to the angst of the PMETs and SMEs?), Lee went into classic evasive mode, a rehash of the "please bear with us, we are trying our best on your behalf" verbiage last heard at Boat Quay during GE 2011:
"And you may agree with it, you may not agree with it, but I can tell you in complete honesty that I am trying my best to do this on your behalf. And I cannot avoid doing this because otherwise I think I will be letting you down."

That's a clear reminder right there that a nation has been let down. And a hint that the whole televised charade was an apology-in-advance. It has to be too humiliating to bow and scrape twice in one life time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Man Of The Moment

What, me worry?
The first reaction to the news was like, desperate times require desperate measures. "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated ..." was occasioned by erroneous newspaper accounts of Mark Twain being ill or dead. Speculation about Lui Tuck Yew being out of the sweepstakes race has been torpedoed by his announcement of a public transportation fare reduction in December.

Even the coterie of sycophants at the Public Transport Council (PTC) was taken by surprise. They had just completed their dastardly deed of hiking fares by 2.8% in April in the face of nose-diving crude oil prices; their brains are good only for computational activity once a year. The PTC is supposed to be an independent body charged with regulating public transport fares, and the next review exercise is scheduled to begin at the end of the year, using 2014 indices. And what about the poor Lieutenant-General in charge of the trains, how is he going to pay for the 30,662 insulators of the North-South and East-West lines he promised to change out? Shelve it for the next spectacular breakdown?

And why implement in December? If a major-general can hand out free packet rice and provide buses to the rallies, why can't the rear-admiral be generous in September? Transport Minister Lui claims the intent is to celebrate the opening of the second phase of the Downtown Line. While every other minister is throwing taxpayers' money for the SG50 celebrations.

The Transport Minister is flexing his muscles to the max, "I encourage the PTC to pass on this 1.9 per cent reduction fully to commuters." You're the man, Lui, why not go the whole hog and demand a 5.0 % reduction from the "independent" PTC? Heck, push it to 50% - in line with the current SG50 mania - and the electorate will make you president.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It Starts With A Lie

Jump, Sir? How high, Sir?
The official retirement age for commissioned officers in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is 50 years old, up from 45 previously - adjusted in 2009 so that Colonel Ishak Ismail at age 46 could become the first Malay general in the SAF - and warrant officers and specialists retire at 55. Amidst all the talk about advancing the retirement age for a greying nation, it is plainly contrarian for a career officer of 29 years' service to hang up his star studded uniform at age 47.

Just after another general talked about pureness of heart, the latest lottery player resorts to deceit to beguile the public with, "While I do no rule out the option of returning to the Administrative Service...." The tragedy is that Ng Chee Meng is a qualified pilot, trained at great expense to the taxpayers, to defend the nation from the cockpit of a F-16 Falcon or F-15 Strike Eagle. Unlike Brigadier-General Hoo Cher Mou who was the first non-pilot to be appointed air force chief in Singapore, or any military in the world. Ng chose instead to eject from magnificent flying machines, and parachute into the gutter politics of a third world parliament.

"Given his tested leadership and proven capabilities, I would not at all be surprised if indeed he does (enter politics)," that was Ng Eng Hen, no relation, further insulting the intelligence of the electorate. The Lieutenant General's "leadership' and "capabilities" include sending our young men into the active combat zones of Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden, while he had the cosy job of doing guard duty for a horrible person lying in state. That and the all important National Day Parade, our paper mill generals' acid test equivalent of John McCain's ordeal at Hotel Hanoi. Play spot the toy soldiers on August 9, you should be able to easily pick out the Rear-Admirals, Brigadier-Generals, Major-General, and the only guy in uniform, the Lieutenant-General. Don't be surprised if some foreign correspondent mistakes the line up at the Padang for Russia's Red Square Parade.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Descending From Heaven

After being rebuked by Ng Eng Hen for jumping the gun, Inderjit Singh is now performing to script and doing what the natural aristocrats are demanding. The retiring People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) is now talking up the calibre of his likely successor. Actually he is supposed to introduce the new candidate only after National Day, but even Ng can't have the cake and eat it too.

Deemed a maverick for speaking up against the Population White Paper (PWP) and then taking refuge in the toilet when the voting started - good reason not to elect politicians with weak bladders and weaker constitutions - he once catalogued the shortcomings of his party's record:
"I suspect that there has been some amount of complacency that has crept into the system. Whether it is the MCE fiasco, or that of the lack of hospital beds or dealing with the Little India riot, the corruption cases in the many government agencies like The Singapore Civil Defense force, I detect a certain amount of complacency in our government agencies in dealing with these problems and the trend is not healthy and needs to be eradicated fast. If Singaporeans lose confidence in these key institutions, we will face greater problems in nation building in the future."

So why is he dancing again to the tune of our local variant of the Pied Piper of Hamelin? If he remembers the fable well, he should know the rats are led to a miserable end. It's not like he was sent off to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to reflect and recant like a 16-year-old. The clue lies in his rebuttal of the “Inderjit Singh: Why I left the PAP” story. He says he remains a member of the PAP and will be assisting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his election campaign in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

For the favoured, stepping down from office is like the Japanese practice for retired bureaucrats to "descend from heaven" (amakudari) into a lucrative job in a public corporation or private industry, purportedly to create a strong bond between private and public sectors. Play the game well, and he could be a Chandra Das, with a free hand to set up $2 companies like Action Information Management (AIM). Far from being tainted by the town council affair, Chandra Das has just been appointed non-Resident High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. If Inderjit Singh knows when to take a leak while the PWP votes were being counted, he sure knows how to go with the flow.