Apr 7, 2010

The Fine Quality of our Dear Deputy Prime Minister

I wonder whether Teo Chee Hean got up in the morning, read the newspaper article below and then felt a little stupid about himself. Or perhaps his skin has become too thick for that.


    ST Apr 6, 2010
    Have more faith in the Singapore system

    SINGAPOREANS should be more confident in their country and not be swayed by outsiders who have no stake in how society here works, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said.

    Responding to a student who asked if Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values stance, he said: 'We need to be more self-confident.'

    He related how when he became education minister in 1997, he was surprised to find that teachers lacked confidence in themselves, even though they were doing a great job.

    'Everybody was telling them that they were doing the wrong things,' he said. 'I said: How can this be? People are coming to learn from us, see how we teach, why we are successful. Yet our teachers don't have self-confidence.'

    It led to Mr Teo resolving to set up a unit at the National Institute of Education for teachers to study why Singapore's education system works and how it can be improved further.


Notice that the student wasn't asking about self-confidence. He wasn't asking about "outsiders". He wasn't asking about what Singaporean teachers were doing wrong or right. He wasn't asking Teo to talk about his past projects in 1997 at NIE.

The student was asking Teo whether Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values.

Teo's response was, of course, totally irrelevant. Teo might as well have said: "Oh, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Birds have wings and dogs can pee. I hereby refuse to answer your question."

That response would, at least, have been honest. And confident. Although still stupid.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi mr wang,

I read Teo's response as saying that we don't need to change. I think he is saying that we should just be confident with what we have now and be confident enough to not even have to consider change.

But I agree with you that it is a rather long winded and indirect way of saying it.

regards

Anonymous said...

This seems to assume that making a change (any kind of change) means that you lack confidence.

The PAP must be lacking confidence then. They are changing their policies all the time.

Anonymous said...

Well, when our leaders do open their mouths, Singaporeans will get a better opportunity to discover the kind of leaders we have been living under all these decades.

Nothing comes out as spectacular, despite all their scholarly credentials and lofty claims.

And as ordinary as any other around the world, except the remuneration.

Anonymous said...

Asian values? What's that.

India or Indonesia? Thailand or Philippines? Sri Lanka or Nepal?
Mongolia or China?

Such a vague term - completely useless.

Except as a fudge word, for pappies.

the little eastern heretic said...

i was at the forum as well, and thought that he meant that what they have is good and so no change needed.

Anonymous said...

It seems like a very presumptuous reply.

1. What do outsiders have to do with it? Teo seems to presume that Singaporeans do not want change; or if they want change, it is because they are influenced by "outsiders".

2. What has confidence got to do with a desire for change? Teo seems to suggest that those who want change lack confidence. On the other hand, there could be many people who are confident that change is needed.

3. What do school teachers have to do with that question? Nothing. Teo makes a huge, illogical, irrational leap, to compare teachers' lack of confidence in their classroom teaching ability, to the issue of whether political change is required.

In 2004, PM Lee announced a change. He said that Singapore should be a "more open" society. Does this mean that he lacks self-confidence? Very strange.

Anonymous said...

mr wang, you u seem unusually peeved at his little maneuver, which is not uncommon in politics.

what he's saying is this. u sinkies, if u want to vote for opposition, believe in urself. dun humji. self confident hor. dun keep hiding under the cloak of anonymity, criticizing, kbkb'ing without doing anything. substantial.

and if any1 of u want to shoot me down with your "i don't even have the chance to vote", "i voted opp, but still no use" defence, think about what more effort you can do to persuade others to your cause.

be self confident, k?

kelvintan73 said...

That is why it is so good to have a press that only prints word for word what you say and don't bother analyzing and evaluating your speech.

Alan Wong said...

What a joke again after being caught sleeping on the job !

Our DPM should be brave enough to tell the PM off to be more confident in PAP.

WTF do we need a cooling day off ?

I_say_nothing_while_making noise_therefore_I_am_great said...

The art of making some noise and sounding confident while not providing an answer is a very important skill, whether in politics or at work... Check out those ang mohs and indians.. you should know.. you blogged about this Singaporean weaknesses when you talked about Spore lawyers vis a vis indian lawyers

LuckySingaporean said...

Nr Wang,

I think his complete answer is we should have more confidence to stick to our asian value way rather than listen to those pesky ang moh telling us to change.

So his answer NO...NO to a new political attitude.

The said...

I prefer Asian Values.

Asian Values as embodied in the Karma Sutra and the Dream of the Red Chamber.

YesWeCan said...

It appears that the pappies' strategy for the looming General Election is: STATUS QUO.

How shld the oppo counter that?

"CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN"

Anonymous said...

As one of the previous poster mentions, this is typical political akido. Just push away the question and answer in terms of what YOU want to say. I have to say that I agree with Teo's comments on the need for Singaporeans to be confident and believe in themselves and culture, etc. Having said this, there appears to be lots of contradictions.

Teo says we should be self-confident, yet there's always the push away from Singlish and things that make Singapore unique. Lack self confidence perhaps?

It's interesting he says outsiders have no stake in how society works. Do Singaporeans really have a stake in how society works given that the government controls most every aspect of life there? By "outsiders", is he really referring to people not in the political system? I.e. if you have no skin the political game, STFU.

Lastly, isn't it contradictory that he says we shouldn't be swayed by outsiders yet he talks about people coming to learn from us. These people have to be "outsiders". So from their perspective these people are also learning from "outsiders", i.e. Singapore. So the logic goes, don't let outsiders influence us but it's perfectly acceptable for outsiders to be influenced by us.

The said...

/// As one of the previous poster mentions, this is typical political akido. Just push away the question and answer in terms of what YOU want to say. ///

Spot on. Our DPM must have seen the History Channel, where Robert McNamara, the former Secretary of Defence under JFK and Lyndon Johnson, where he was quoted as saying: "Never answer the question you are asked. Answer the question that you would have like it to be asked."

Hmmm, Secretary of Defence - I am beginning to see the connection - yes, McNamara must be his mentor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_McNamara

Anonymous said...

I think what he meant was: What? people complain about PAP; noway, we are doing such a great job!

Seelan Palay said...

Complete garbage from Teo.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

MIW speak with fork tongue.

Anonymous said...

This Asian Values / Confucianist trope has been left by the wayside over time through official abeyance. Hence, there is no real 'official' position with regard to it at this point in time. That's why the good minister could not make a commitment - either for or against that policy - since there is no officially accepted position within the government anymore. I think the real lesson - and worry - is that this government does not really know how to retire obsolete policies gracefully, preferring instead to let those they no longer like be quietly forgotten. That way, they cannot, in future, be burdened with recorded 'failures' and can happily point to a continuous string of successes.

Tan Ah Beng said...

Come on! You guys don't get it? All he was trying to say was everybody was telling them that they were doing the wrong things, like allowing free-flow of immigrants and letting HDB resale prices rocket up, but how can this be? People are coming to learn from Singapore's politicians, see how they make living in Singapore so damn expensive, why they are successful...

Anonymous said...

George says:
Why has he so little confidence in change? But really, what he is saying is Singaporeans CANNOT change unless his govt wants them to change.

Didn't we change from 'stop at two' to 'three is even better'? Or, at the height of the recession/economic crisis, Lim Boon Heng told Singaporeans to work even beyond 80? Or, we are supposed to change our attitude towards foreigners, including those who are taking our jobs from us?

I guess the govt wouldn't call this 'change' but blind obedience.

YesWeCan said...

To Tan Ah Beng April 8, 12:54 PM

Ur opening remark:
"Come on! You guys don't get it?
All he was trying to say was .."

So u think u're the only one who got it.
Great!

Now, let's see what Mr Wang wrote:
Notice that the student wasn't asking about self-confidence.
He wasn't asking about "outsiders".
He wasn't asking about what Singaporean teachers were doing wrong or right.
He wasn't asking Teo to talk about his past projects in 1997 at NIE.

The student was asking Teo whether Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values.

Teo's response was, of course, totally irrelevant."

Hey, Tan Ah Beng, u're still here?

Anonymous said...

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Ah Wang

chengguan said...

the thick skin doesn't come easy. it's thru years of training and upgrading (with tax-payer's money).

Anonymous said...

Teo is not as interested in giving an answer to the Q but more in turning every opportunity (as every politican should do) to teach SGeans how to live the P*P way. SGeans are concerned about in their future in SG, P*P-ers too! Hope the twain would meet....somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Isn' this normal? When one is in power, would one want to give it up or open up for competition so easily?

Anonymous said...

Problem is Singaporeans are not confident to vote opposition when the time comes...

So he is right.

Anonymous said...

First rule of political debate - don't answer the question asked, answer a hypothetical question you wish had been asked. Margaret Thatcher was a past master (or mistress) of the art. Shows political ability - respect!

v奎峰奎峰 said...

廢話不多,祝你順心~^^........................................

Anonymous said...

Senility is contagious..especially in the kabinet

Anonymous said...

"Have more faith in the Singapore system"





Did you say 'faith', Mr Teo? What's that? Free one ah? Can eat one or not? Show me the money, just like the way you show yourself the money, and I will have faith. Paying lip service, totally disingenuous.

Onlooker said...

It just prove that TCH cannot even comprehend whether :

Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values.

Who is our Defense minister?

And should I be really worried since this is a position that require the one in this position to make mission critical decision when our country face problem.

Well?

What to do? it happened.

And nothing is permanent because change is inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Minister Teo is saying, don't listen to outsiders, have more confidence in yourselves Singaporeans.

I am thinking he means to admit that the FT policies are fudge and failures, that local talents should really have been in the government's confidences instead of having the world's highest paid gabrahmen trying to deliver among the world's cheapest labour.

Kaffein said...

Elementary, my dear Watson, the answer is 'I don't know'.

So I'd give you a joy ride and spin you until you blur like sotong. Then you will sit down because you don't want to look stupid when a minister had responded to (not answered) your question. Next time don't ask questions that make me look like an idiot, boy.

Satire aside, I presume he is saying what has worked for Singapore through the PAP political system should stick around - be it Asian or non-Asian values. All other things matter little.

Kaffein

SMS said...

hi Mr Wang, it is clear that these million dollar salaried "workers" need to rehearse for a conversation with the public. But then, so what if we comment .. there is no worthy opposition.

They are lacking confidence because they realised that Singaporeans are no longer fools.

SMS said...

Outsiders has a lot to do with our education policy. Since they contribute a large portion to our foreign income (do not have the figure_

SMS said...

Hi all, a wonderful skill to have -- to appear to be answering a simple question when you are circumventing the question.

All you need to do is to be persistent and tell Mr Teo that he did not answer the question or to break up your question into two. Interrupt him if he has not even rephrase your question HOWEVER you may end up irritating him and then he may threaten you with a lawsuit.

:)

Anonymous said...

world's highest paid gabrahmen trying to deliver among the world's cheapest labour.

facilitiating it through among world's most expensive costs of living.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. I'm an English teacher and he has given a totally out-of-point answer for that question. No credit for that. Ha ha...

Anonymous said...

Absolutely unacceptable role model for our young students.

Cannot even answer a simple question directly.

If that's how students are to answer their questions during examinations. It'll be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

I find nothing wrong with DPM Teo answers. It is up to individual, hence you have your own view.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so critical of our system. Look at Australia where murderers and rapists walk free from jail after serving only a few years or none at all:
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/foreign-student-attackers-avoid-jail/story-e6freuyi-1225833508415

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/zhang-tina-yu-begged-for-death/story-e6freuyi-1225856115121

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Anonymous said...

Its just political talk - a misdirection. Political subterfuge is a common tactic for most politicians.

Anonymous said...

It's plain double-talk. The salespeople at Sim Lim Towers are experts at this kind of talk. It can be learnt, but you use it best when you are born with this ability.