Aug 4, 2009

The Ever-Inquisitive Mr Goh Chok Tong

This man has so many questions. Considering how much he's paid, one would have thought that he should be supplying answers instead, LOL.
ST Aug 3, 2009
10 challenges for the next generation: SM

Success creates its own problems, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday when he spelt out the 10 challenges facing the next generation. He highlighted them by posing questions to Cabinet ministers, families and the young.

1 High growth: Amid global competition, can you maintain Singapore's high economic growth and keep on improving our standard of living?

In 1959, thousands of Singaporeans lived in slums and squalor. Today, more than 90 per cent own their homes.

2 Life will get better: How do you, as leaders, convince Singaporeans of that when they are already living in good-quality public and private housing?

3 Transport: How does the Transport Minister satisfy the demands for comfort, convenience, congestion-free travel and punctuality of services and expectation of affordable fares, ERP and parking charges?

4 Health care: Can the Health Minister stamp out diseases linked to an affluent lifestyle, such as diabetes and cancer? And keep health-care costs down and affordable?

If we live till 90, we would probably have to work till 75 to have enough savings for a cosy retirement of 15 years.

5 Worker training: Can the Manpower Minister and the labour chief design a new training programme, Workfare (a wage supplement for working low-income Singaporeans) and a Jobs Credit wage subsidy scheme for grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents?

6 More babies: What will get our young to marry and have children? Any creative ideas on procreation, Mr Goh asks parents and the young.

7 Ageing: Today, 9 per cent of our population are over 65 years of age. By 2030, it will more than double to 20 per cent.

How do we support so many senior citizens, he asks the chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ageing.

How will we look after our parents and grandparents? Will you build more community hospitals, nursing and old folk's homes, and keep them affordable?

8 Scarce land: In the last 50 years, land area has been expanded by more than 20 per cent, through reclamation.

How much more land can Singapore reclaim over the next 50 years, he asks the Minister for National Development.

As the population and the economy grow, how will Singapore deal with the potential over-crowding problem?

9 Education: Bright students will be sought after internationally, chipping away at Singapore's talent pyramid at the top. Mr Goh considers this one of the most serious threats to Singapore's long-term survival and says it has to be solved now.

His questions for the Prime Minister, Education Minister, schools and families: How do we bond students going abroad to Singapore, physically if possible, and if not, at least emotionally? How do we ensure most will return home and contribute to Singapore? How do we ensure there will always be a core of honest, able and dedicated Singaporeans to look after the country and their fellow men?

10 Religious harmony: For four decades, Singapore has enjoyed racial and religious harmony. How do the people of Singapore ensure that Singaporeans of different faiths will continue to mix with one another and respect one another's faith?
In subsequent posts, I will share some thoughts on some of the 10 questions above.


Fatboy Joe said...

I grew up learning how to ask rhetorical questions. Say I meet my neighbour at the nearby coffeeshop, I catch myself asking "Eating your lunch ah?".

You see, sometimes questions are asked for effect and not for answers.

Anonymous said...

GCT in mandarin is '无作用'.

So you know why.

Anonymous said...

1. In 1959, most of the world was poor. Singapore simply rode the globalization wave as we have always be a free trade port.

Solution: dun get in the way.

2. Stop building HDB and sell land more cheaply to private developers.

3. Speed up MRT. Have more private bus companies. See HK.

4. Provide free screening. early treatment is always cheaper.

5. Min wage for starters.

6. Work Life Balance.

7. min wage. Work life Balance. Pension scheme.

8. Have hiugher requirements for Foreign Talents

9. Scrap National Education. look at Finnish model and American post grad model.

10. Let it happen naturally!

Anonymous said...

Simple. Ensure that PAP can remain in power with solid majority in Parliament, whatever the problems. And streets are normal and peaceful.

This has been so for the past 44 years. Why can't it be for the next 20 to 40 years, right?

Anonymous said...

To Anon - August 4, 2009 3:05 PM

Well Done! You have set some directions. Unlike some people who just daydream and push the problems to the juniors to solve. You are one who should be paid 10 x 3+million$! Asking questions without offering any solution makes no one any wiser and deserve 0-million$!

Oikono said...

Thanks for the posting. It inspired me to write about alternative questions that I think Singaporeans should be asking and which I think are relevant to our demographic changes, but which remain un-asked.

Post at:

Anonymous said...


2. if u PROVE it, u dun need to CONVINCE!!

3. & 8. stop letting more and more FTs in lah!! n distributing PR and citizenship like flyers!!!

KAM said...

Poor SM is relegated to asking questions when he is not allowed to provide any answers.

Can a puppet provide an answer to which only his master can provide?

He can only ask questions.

Anonymous said...

Wow lau...sample questions from Imperial Exams for future "scholars"?

Anonymous said...

Maybe he is 'softening the ground' or creating teasers for PM Lee's National Rally speech.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

For diabete, its a lifestyle disease.

If you check our Health Promotion Board and Ministry of Health data, you will realize that what killed Singaporeans in the 50s and 60s are infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis. Cases of chronic degeneration diseases such as diabetes and hypertension were very low. Now, its 1 in 4 Singaporeans.

So, I do not know if early detection could do much, if we can't stay away from eating too much simple carbohydrates, sugar and beans.

This is why we name our site, Anti-Chronic Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Early detection is a wakeup call to watch diet and exercise more.

Anonymous said...

Its easier for him to ask questions than to provide answers.

After all, he certainly does not want to end up singing Jailhouse Rock if it turns out that MM Lee is playing Beethoven.

Anonymous said...

I also have ten questions for the govt.. of course i am not millionaire, just a commoner..

1 High growth: How can we create real sustainable growth that will benefit all levels of the population segment, without jacking up cost of living?

2 Life will get better: How do you, as leaders, create that social safety net, a reason used to hike that GST rate?

3 Transport: How can the govt ensure that the oil company charge fairly, ensure no over-crowding, and long waiting time for buses and trains.

4 Health care: Can the govt keep basic essential health-care costs down and affordable? Can you not tell the sick not to spend their own medicare fund on their medical expenses?

5 Worker training: Can the govt not be blind to the fact that there is a minimum wage level at which to keep oneself alive in Singapore?

6 More babies: How to manage the cost of supporting a family affordable? Housings ? Education for children ?

7 Ageing: How does the new immigrants figure contribute to the increment in that figure of 2030 with 20 per cent being above 65 of age ? How will we look after our parents and grandparents? Did CPF failed its role in providing for old age retirement?

8 Scarce land: What will you govt do when most 99 years hdb lease will be over by then ? Can govt not import any tom, dick and harry "talent" to cause over-crowding problem? and cost-push inflation ?

9 Education: With identity dilution crises, how are you able to retain the local graduates from wanting to flee the moment they graduate? Regconize that they are as talented as the next imported tom, dick and harry? Attract foreign trained singaporean back to work with equal like minded bright people, and not just any imported tom, dick and harry? Not letting any imported tom, dick and harry to undercut the wage level?

10 Religious harmony: Cant say a thing here. Police might catch..

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...


Once one gets either, its already very expensive to consume the drugs or to receive insulin shots regularly. And once one get diabetes, one will also get high cholesterol as the sugar cause inflammation in your body tissues (blood vessels, organs, etc.)

It is also a common problem in the US and many developed countries.

I had even written to Minister Khaw and he had referred to my research to Health Promotion Board to revise the proposed food pyramid last year. However, nothing gets done till today and I never heard from them again.

Perhaps its economics (too expensive to recommend eating vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat and seafood) and/ or I am not a doctor by training.

In India, it is also a big problem because of diet rich in sugar and carbohydrates from grains.

For early detection, there are many regular checks on blood sugars for older folks living by themselves already.

I had done some volunteer work in the past and I do know such regular tests exist. However, many still survive on donated biscuits, instant noodles, rice and porridge as staples.

So, they are raising their risk of diabetes over time.

For those who think you could be useful, I suggest you do a day of volunteer work a month or once a year, it will really open your eyes to some of our problems in Singapore.

I have been following this blog for some time and love the issues posted. I also respect everyone's views and contributions but many of us, including myself at times, are just 'paper generals/ politicians/ policymakers'. I humbled myself each time I see the problem for myself once a month or 2 months.

Go to the ground and experience the problems first hand. For the poorer senior citizens, its not an easy problem to solve and many senior citizens are just too stubborn and set in their ways.

Chronic Degenerative Diseases really make one lose one's dignity slowly and painfully till the end.

Anonymous said...

Woody Woody Woody, better you ask because last time before you became PM you foretold Singaporeans will have Swiss standard of living and More Good Years ahead. As a Soothsayer you definitely FAILED!!!

Alan Wong said...

I just have ONE simple question for our ex-PM :

You mean you still haven't found the right answers to these questions ?

Then all these while what are we paying you for ?

Onlooker said...

Maybe that why he wooden goh.
As for number 9.
The concern should be an accurate representation in parliament.

For Eg.why only 2 alternate party seat when there should have been more due to the dismal performance by a few "Complacent" greater mortals.

But nevertheless,he still prove the point that the PAPaya addiction to foreign labour have already addled their mind to solutions that are so simple that it is ridiculous when they finally realize it.

Ensure local Males who had already served NS have better/immediate access to higher education and cut down the time wasted in the service (to the nation) that is overly bureaucratic.(alt parties take note)

If wooden goh cannot even think about the benefits of one of the simpler solutions. What is the point of paying him peanuts.

Anonymous said...

"For those who think you could be useful, I suggest you do a day of volunteer work a month or once a year, it will really open your eyes to some of our problems in Singapore."

Thats asking to much from our popular arm chair critics (a certain Lucky Tan comes to mind real quick)... and its really too depressing/shocking for most.

And most Singaporeans still think of Ministar Khaw as some sort of living Buddha. Free healthchecks must start much early. say 40. Detection checks for the "older foks" by definition is too late. A quick look at medical studies will tell u the bulk of medical costs are for patient at a late stage of whatever chronic/critical illness they have. By design the Medisave scheme is flawed. For us. It makes perfect sense if your KPI is profitable hospitals tho. Ditto the food pyramid. U dun get punished for adopting advice from some brand name Western University.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

Even at 40, what can u check? Its hard to be sure if one is getting insulin-resistant.

I doubt its true that most Singaporeans consider Health Minister Khaw to be a Buddha. I for one, don't consider him to be. To be fair, at least he did a lot more than the 2 previous health ministers. One was almost incompetent during SARS.

If you compare our healthcare costs with those in developed Western Countries, we are by far a lot lower already. Check the published prices and compare to what hospitals in Western Countries charge. Many of their healthcare systems are on the verge of collapsing.

The fundamental problem is pay for the middle/ lower income is not rising enough.

We should also take responsibility for one's own health. Like I mentioned before, diabetes and hypertension are lifestyle diseases. You could decide what you want to eat and whether to exercise or not.

H/w, I know many friends who said, "we all going to die somehow so why don't we enjoy ourselves..." Its a choice but once we get sick, we blame the Government.

Chinese ancient classic on health,黄帝内经 also mention similar things like avoiding sweet foods (including dried fruits) and recommend consuming more grains only if you need to perform labour-intensive activities.

My hypothesis is endorsing a new food pyramid could potentially make many hawkers and food manufacturers lose their business. Therefore, on the bigger scheme of things (economic purpose), they may have decided to refrain from it.

Anyways, I hope they won't follow the Paleo lifestyle. Otherwise they will be around for a longer time. ;-)

For income gap, its the same everywhere, even in HK, Philippines, Indonesia, etc. H/w, many people in these countries do not want to go back to socialist ways.... because they want to have the opportunity or allow their children in the future to have the opportunity to become wealthier one day (There was a survey done in a Philippines, but unfortunately I could not recall the site).

Anonymous said...

Since when does 90% of Singaporean own their own homes? Statistics plucked right out of the sky.