Aug 17, 2009

PM Lee's Strangely Empty Rally Speech

I had expected to be blogging about PM Lee's rally speech today. However, I find that I have almost nothing to say about it.

It was .... substanceless.

The PM's rally speech is traditionally the time for him to announce important new developments, ideas and policies for the nation. But this year, none of that happened.

Instead all PM Lee really talked about was racial and religious harmony, and in a way that contained nothing new. It sounded the same as the nation-building chapters of my Primary 3 Chinese language textbook, many, many years ago.

Last Friday, a Lianhe Zaobao reporter had actually emailed me with a list of interview questions. He had been planning to write an article about how the government was using "new media" to reach out to Singaporeans. One of the journalist's questions for me was as follows:
"(3) You will probably have your thoughts about PM's NDR after it's been delivered. In addition to publishing your views on your own website, would you consider emailing the relevant authorities or posting your comments via official channels such as the Reach facebook, forum or twitter, to tell the government how you feel about this year's rally speech?"
Well, my answer is no. I have no comments on what the PM actually said, because he hardly said anything at all.

I have a really odd feeling about this. I could be reading too much into it, but it almost feels like .... like he's deliberately choosing to avoid certain issues. The really important issues.

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have the same feeling too. I think this is one of the worst, if not the worst rally speech.

Maybe he wants to avoid those "hornets' nest" issues so he talk so much about race and religious harmony, which are hardly livelihood issues of Singaporeans and also nothing really to further comment on.

Anonymous said...

i understand how you feel. i am currently on holiday in melbourne but i was on msn with my partner while the rally was gng on. he was giving me snippets of the rally and i too felt that it was a strangely empty speech, like real problems or issues were not being addressed.

loweylee said...

And i totally agree with you, Mr Wang. Apart from the usual, this year's rally wasnt filled with promises. The only thing PM Lee promised, was to improve medishield, which he did not elaborate.

I also find that he was making unneccessary comments inbetween topics, that really makes me go "eerr...Yah?!?"

Amazingly, a huge potion of the time he was presenting pictures of the Old and the New, which i think is an attempt to make people feel better and contented in this current situation.

He was deliberately saying, "Hey, your lives are so much better now, compared to slums. Be contented with what you have and stop whining."

the discoverer said...

yeap. so do i. i just read the NDP msg minutes ago. and it's really nothing new..

i thought i would have sth to bark about but there's nothing i can gather to talk about. kinda boring actually. like civics moral education, back in the sec sch days...

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to take up a job like that. $100k/yr is enough for a job that avoids talking about major issues. Don't need millions pay every year :)

bsd said...

Why did the PM spend so much time on photos showing us how far we have progressed, instead of explaining our population and labour policies?

Anonymous said...

State of the republic-Kosong!

I truly enjoy it!Too much rubbish is NO,NO to me,a 65 years old Spore citizen

Anonymous said...

Learn to appreciate & read between the lines.
We didn't get here because were once too smart.
Reflect . . . . .
The new residents, the neighbourhood, Mas Selamats, etc.
44 good years is enough for the unspoken but dangerous.
Think brother. Think brother.
I guess some with high cognitive potential can grasp.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

I agree that its empty. Perhaps there is too much uncertainty in the market for anything substantial.

However, I believe the part of religion is real.

Its a clear and present danger.

Anonymous said...

rot. stage 2. period.

Anonymous said...

I think PM Lee is still on self-denial mode and extremely good in delegation. Based on my observation of his conduct in Parliament, PM Lee only talks about Good News while Bad News are best left to his deputy or other Ministers to face the music.

reene said...

He totally skirted the issue of Burma.. Especially when he touched on almost every country in Asean who faced problems in the last year.

I have some thoughts about it.. But it's still generally a huge bore.

PM’s National Day Rally Speech – 16 August 2009 | holeybaloney http://bit.ly/japO1

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree. Totally lacking in substance with nothing to address the issues faced by Singaporean. PM Lee is so totally not worth the millions we give him each year.

However, the silence is so strange, exception rather than the norm. The conspiracy theorist in me is thinking, maybe he will come up with policies to address the important issues during the election campaigns? Hmmm...

Just saw this article in CNA (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/449328/1/.html). The issues to be brought up in Parliament are so mundane, so ordinary. Haiz... Why are we wasting money on these "Yes" men and women??

Anonymous said...

I have the same feeling too. I think this is one of the worst, if not the worst rally speech.



Were there any good ones to begin with?

Anonymous said...

yes i feel that the speech is empty. The focus seems to be hitting anywhere, a more of touch and note.

Most people who follow such rally normally will expect to listen to direction and upcoming plans.
Just like the state of union address in the US. No matter how crappy it is, it carries some weight and we can expect the whole world to be watching and people treat the content seriously. Bush's axis of evil thingy divided the world and alienated themselves and trigger today's nkorea's foreign policy.

The focus on toilets is really both shocking and funny. I do not know whether to laugh or feel sorry for sg. Almost every city in se asia will have development like this. Not as if modern day sg is the only one with such progression with her toilets. This is a normal progression in how people live as times moves on. Not a unique hair raising accomplishment that only sg has managed to achieve.

The whole feel is a lack of direction. I feel sorry for the ship and crew as the ship sails with the waves and currents.

Maybe in the future, parts of such speech can be outsource to secondary school kid taking social studies, as part of their projects.

Anonymous said...

yes i feel that the speech is empty. The focus seems to be hitting anywhere, a more of touch and note.

Most people who follow such rally normally will expect to listen to direction and upcoming plans.
Just like the state of union address in the US. No matter how crappy it is, it carries some weight and we can expect the whole world to be watching and people treat the content seriously. Bush's axis of evil thingy divided the world and alienated themselves and trigger today's nkorea's foreign policy.

The focus on toilets is really both shocking and funny. I do not know whether to laugh or feel sorry for sg. Almost every city in se asia will have development like this. Not as if modern day sg is the only one with such progression with her toilets. This is a normal progression in how people live as times moves on. Not a unique hair raising accomplishment that only sg has managed to achieve.

The whole feel is a lack of direction. I feel sorry for the ship and crew as the ship sails with the waves and currents.

Maybe in the future, parts of such speech can be outsource to secondary school kid taking social studies, as part of their projects.

Anonymous said...

I only pick out between the lines that he is telling evanglicals to tone down.

b0by said...

"Strangely empty" suggests that you, like my easily charmed parents, sat through the entire thing and lost an evening of your life that you will never recover. Some day more of us will cotton on to that fact.

Donaldson Tan said...

SM Goh already stole PM LHL's glory when he issued the 10 challenges during the Marine Parade National Day Dinner.

fair dinkum said...

Yes, there were the same old platitudes and tired homilies. Then again, everything that needs to be addressed has been and if one chooses to be unconvinced then one will remain unconvinced even if the man orates till he is blue in the face. It is the national day address for heavens sake, give the nation a break from your incessant grousing will you ?

Anonymous said...

Who're lurking behind the blogs?
Opposition supporters, jealous neighbours, the nothing-to-lose jobless, etc.

Well, seeing is believing.

This little red dot is ready to surge ahead again once the recession moves out.

Maju lah Singapore!

Anonymous said...

I think you are overreacting.

Obviously toilets\sanitation is the next growth industry. Singapore is going to be the global toilet hub.

Anonymous said...

usually, our govt mouthpiece, ST would prepare us with topics a few days before the rally. This time, there is none.
Got a feeling LHL is running out of ideas, or did he spent too much time in teaching Ho Ching how to lose more money?

Terence Goh said...

I have the same feeling that he is deliberately avoiding the REAL issues.

It is because there is nothing he can or wants to change, reiterating the status quo will only make Singaporeans angrier. If he avoids mentioning them, some Singaporeans will still cling on to false hope that their kind and caring government will help them.

Or perhaps the REAL issue of mass importing foreigners at the expense of Singaporeans has been addressed a few days ago by the Mentor of Ministers.

Anonymous said...

I feel that he is preparing the audience for the months ahead. The Rally targets the elderly (older folks) more than the working adults.
In the coming months, I expect government freebies to roll out every other month till the annoucement to dissolve parliament.

Alan Wong said...

I can't help feeling that his PM post is somehow redundant, just like that it wouldn't matter to the country if he were to drop dead tomorrow. Especially his job is so made so much easier with so many Ministers helping him in his PM Department, do we really need to pay him a couple of million bucks just to tell us some grandmother's stories on National Day ?

One topic that I thought as responsible Prime Minister, he should have spoken to us would be on the losses made by Temasek or GIC. If he does not have the courage to sack his wife, the least he could do was to tell us what those bloody "strategic differences" are that prevented Goodyear from replacing Ho Ching.

If he or rather his team had the shortsightedness to appoint his wife as CEO of Temasek, doesn't he at least owe us an explanation as to how the bad investment decisions were made ? Otherwise he and his wife are no better than just being opportunist loafers, being put in their positions only because of patronage from his MM father.

Any Tom, Dick & Harry can also be our PM ?

cheap speech said...

A cheap speech indeed , nothing said that can rally the citizens.

Actually it is expected from someone spineless and whose party is infamous for worshipping money,
the mother of all religions you might say.

Anonymous said...

Race and religion is an old, old issue. He is just giving it a new coating, so he need not dwell on the more critical issues of cost of living and jobs taken over by foreigners, which many Singaporeans were hoping he would address.

In all, I was just as dissappointed as everyone here.

Anonymous said...

Let us face the truth, the city state does not belong to us. For the rulers, cronies and elites yes but definitely not ours. Singapore's achievements came about due to their good management of the country and they are take great pains in showcasing it. Accept whatever is being offered and thank your lucky stars you have a place to stay. Besides there is nothing much to say since all know recent events showed whatever they predicted did not happened. Will the IR be worth anything to us is something else altogether, and I really doubt it will affect me in any way whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Noooooooooooo!!!!! you guys are wrong and horrible to leave such comment about PN rally speech.

Seriously, its better than some stand-up comedies I've seen.

/K

Kaffein said...

I thought it was supposed to be a RALLY speech. You know, rally - to encourage, to muster forward with a common objective, to cheer.

Too bad, it became a let-down.

Kaffein

Onlooker said...

There is no rallying of the nation nor allaying of Citizens concerns in the national rally speech.
Choke full of feel good nostalgia that does not address the real issue faced by the populace.
What a disappointment.
Are meritocracy suppose to produce such "Cutting edge" speech writers who skirt around the real issue of over population?

What to do? it happened....

Maybe should volunteer to Take resident in Renci out for Kaya ok.

Oh well maybe not.

Anonymous said...

same sentiments!! it was totally a waste of time and one of the worst rally speeches ever!

1) u know he didnt wanna talk abt the impt topics when it only lasts 1hr 45mins (one of the shortest i can remember!) yet we are in one of the worst economic situations in history! n so much things have happened in the last year!

2) so much talk cock, showing irrelevant pics and no substance. u know they are in trouble when the PM has to use one of two most important speeches of the year to tug at the heart strings of Singaporeans with those pics. and i was cringing under my skin to see him trying so hard to do it. its amazing the strings didnt break!!

3) most interesting point during the speech (and very subtly put across) - garden of eden. in a nutshell, once you go out. no re-entry. LOL!!!

Kojakbt said...

My feelings for this year's National Day Rally is best summarized by:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-f2Nr5O8P4

kojakbt
Moderator
www.3in1kopitiam.com

Anonymous said...

oh ya oh ya.. i also saw a certain Rear Admiral turned Acting Minister dozing off while his boss was talking.. why? your boss speech so sian ah?? nvr die before... tsk tsk.. HAHA

Ah Beng said...

Imagine Ah Loong raising his eyebrows thinking, "Issues? Is there any issue? I thought everything is ranked World number 1in Spore? What issues?"

Anonymous said...

George says:
Look at it positively - LHL is giving all of us a choice/reason the next time:A choice/reason to tune in or not.

I hadn't been tuning in for several years after I discovered how predictable, hollow and manipulative the whole thing is.

Anonymous said...

The issue of race and religion is REAL?HaHa,who is talking?


You really need a S$3 million+ p.a. man to tell you that har?


And what is the reason for the brilliant PAP intenting to make Spore a place with the most no of races and religions on this earth?

Why?Why?Why?

Isn't PM Lee the litle naughty boy who cried wolf whilst racing to that group of very hungry wolves?

Tell me why?

Anonymous said...

The too much focus on race/religion is just an easy distraction to turn our focus away from the foreigners/Singaporean issue.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with the views as expressed by others so far that this speech is boring, hollow or not addressing the real livelihood issues of Singapore. This is because we have been trying to understand this rally from our perspective. If you attempt to see it from ‘their’ perspective, this rally holds great significance. I suspect that they have, over time, observed that religious groups (or followers) in SG are getting larger and better knitted in groups than before. The faith of these people is getting stronger over time. Like it or not, some aspects of the religion have creeped their way in and influenced our lifestyles, views on certain things ……and also potentially on politics. Can you imagine the consequence when such groups are being mobilized for whatever reasons? Can you and How do you 'manage' them especially when a higher divine is involved? Do we see religious leaders entering politics and yielding great influence on the people in other countries? At the end of the day, between Religion and political party, would do you think normal folks would pick? If not manage properly, this could be a big risk….. On the contrary, livelihood issues are easier to solve since they are mostly money issues. It is a matter of whether they are willing to part with their money, that’s all!

Anonymous said...

The New and Old segments brought nostalgia..however, they could also be depicting life in HK etc.

Something would be terribly wrong if we still have jambans and blowing on charcoal in this age..particularly in a small island city state (granted they can still be found in rural areas elsewhere)

Anonymous said...

I concur.

What I get out of this year rally is that yeah, now are bad, but the old days are worse. Other than that, nothing much that can 'rally' the mood of an average Singaporean.

Not to mention the unhappiness Singaporeans seem to be harboring against foreign immigrants are due to the unfair competitions they bring to the job markets and also the mass import of them in great numbers (1.5m within a decade to add to a 3m population is not something to take too easily) rather than a conflict of racial and religious harmony and the difference in culture of these 'FT'.

Anonymous said...

I came across this article which I find it comical.

http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20090817-161471.html

Just wonder who are the people they interviewed? I remember one of our million dollar ministers define Singaporean as "People living in Singapore" that includes PRs and anyone who resides here. No wonder we scored so well.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are that he is preparing the ground for the next GE, and the basic thrust is that, Singapore needs the PAP - the so-called "strong mandate" - to rule, in its own style, called it anything, including authoritatian, if you like, because there is a potent, destructive and, most sinisterly, unseen, threat, namely the racial/religion divide.

What he has asserted or may not be true, but it is the standard playing up of fears to persuade you to lean to the status quo - and to trust, and believe the PAP's gospel - of the unseen hard work of the MPs to maintain the seemingly calm and peace.

It is also an oblique bash of the Christians for they have been most prominent lately with their so-called "faith based values", something they don't understand is unintelligible to the those who don't subscribe to the way they see the world. And as the majority of Singaporeans are non Christians, PAP may have gain some popularity points with the majority with this move.

Further he is telling the people, don't be too religious, for if so, the PAP may lose influence and control over the people. For if you believe in a god that is above any men, then obviously you listen to your god and not the government, whoever it may be.

Also implicitly, intentionally or not, he is saying let money be your god, especially with the Malay-Chinese conflict example he gave. It show that money can win over any beliefs. I am sure if sufficient money is on the table, the Chinese family will back out no matter how much bad luck and godly, or devilish, wrath, may be incurred.

And also that example has nothing to do with racial/religious conflicts. It is more an example of uncivility, unneighbourliness and superstitions, especially on the part of the Chinese, and the lameness on the part of the authorities not to enforce or use the law as it is most effective. There times the law is inappropriate, which is not in this case.

Finally to tell people to be cohesive means nothing.

It is like someone telling me to be good.

"What is good", I asked, and he said, "Like don't tell lies."

"Then its too bad, I cant be good. I am a salesman. I rather be a good husband to bring home the bacon for the wife and kids."

The point is, is he telling the people to compromise in what they believe for the sake of others? Or he dare not say that "C" word, in case he comes across as telling people not to be too sincere, to live lives with malleable integrity, and just pretend you believe something but do another thing altogether, and so on.

Cohesive certainly sounds nicer, but meaningless and hollow. And telling people to be "cohesive" does not mean people will be "cohesive".

Mr Wang Says So said...

About the GE, ha, I don't think so. Not this year anyway.

If the GE were coming, he would have announced a flood of goodies at the NDR speech.

Anonymous said...

Goodies is Phase II, or III.

The GE strategy have already been planned.

Use carrot and stick, the stick in this instance, as carrot is too obvious and too early now.

GE is next year, perhaps timed to coincide with good economic news, locally and globally.

But who knows: maybe there is a second crash next year; then all the more to play up the racial/religion tensions, to reinforce the necessity of PAP's hegemony.

Anonymous said...

Yo Mr Wang

Stop throwing a hissy fit!

Singaporean said...

"Who're lurking behind the blogs?
Opposition supporters, jealous neighbours, the nothing-to-lose jobless, etc."

I agree with this post! Well said haha.

Anonymous said...

Wang san. You're confusing your issues with their issues.

Anonymous said...

I am a foreigner and I saw it and I appreciated it. Just blindly thinking of new developmental measures is not good for the country. Every now and then, a pause is necessary to understand the relevant problems of the day and fix them. Racial disharmony is picking up in the region and it's necessary to tackle it. Nothing wrong with it.

Anonymous said...

wah so many yowee here in these comments...

Anonymous said...

What do you expect? Mee Siam Mai Hum again?

This is Lee Hsien Loong. He became Prime Minister because his old man is Lee Kuan Yew. So it's either gaffe like "Mee Siam Mai Hum" or empty hollow nothingness.

bsd said...

perhaps it would be more interesting to comment on NMP Viswa's madien speech

http://nmpviswasadasivanmaidenspeech.blogspot.com/2009/08/nmp-viswa-sadasivans-maiden-speech-in.html

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I'm reading it right. The speech seems to be directed at the increasing number of non-Singapore born PRs and naturalised citizens who have little understanding of this country. The focus on religious, racial harmony is not so much for Singaporeans to hear, as we are alsready very familiar with the issues.

mjuse said...

on a sidenote, if i had to answer the question as to what i felt was the biggest threat to societal harmony, it would NOT be racial or religious issues that the PM highlighted, but income inequality.

Anonymous said...

Got peanuts to eat better than no peanuts to eat, no cause for action necessary.

Anonymous said...

NO? i thought the rally is pretty good, it touches on deep social issues in our society.

Anonymous said...

This is the worst speech he has given.