Mar 17, 2011

Imitation Earthquake Victim

Well, my feet are aching, and so are my calves, and I think I may have cracked a rib, but the good news is .... I'm alive!

We just moved out from our rented place to our new cluster house, lugging along 50 boxes and miscellaneous pieces of furniture. Moving house is always stressful, but what makes this move even more challenging is that our new place is still not quite ready. There's dust and debris everywhere, and workers keep dropping in to do more renovation.

For the next two weeks or so, we will be living in the basement and one bedroom. The rest of the house is still under renovation. We have no kitchen to do any cooking (the kitchen is in the process of getting rebuilt), so for the time being, we are going to eat out and/or live on food like sandwiches, fruits and milk. At night we sleep on mattresses placed on the floor, and we are living out of boxes. I'm on leave this week, but next week I have to get back to work - and I hope to be able to find my working shoes by then.

I imagine that normally, I would be quite upset about living like this. What's keeping me (relatively) sane and composed is, oddly enough, the earthquake in Japan. Thinking of the 350,000 homeless folks in Japan, plus all the others living without electricity, makes me feel quite unable to complain. It makes me feel glad for my blessings, actually.

Singapore's disadvantage of a lack of natural resources is counterbalanced by its lack of natural disasters. We don't have gold, coal, steel or oil, but equally we don't have earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards or hurricanes. All things said and done, life for the PAP government is pretty easy because they never have to deal with natural calamities such as Australia's floods, Japan's tsunami, New Zealand's earthquake or the snowstorms in New York, for example.

All such events are a true test of a nation's leaders and, well, our leaders have never been tested. In fact, many of them have never even contested in an election (they just "win" by walkover). We are a nation led by "leaders" who mostly look good just on paper.


Anonymous said...

Our current batch of Ministers turn out to be very complacent when put to the stress test despite being very highly paid as compared to the pioneer batch of Minsters.

Rae said...

why the rush to move out of the rented place mr wang??

i had new furniture coming in, new wardrobes and bed frames etc. it almost drove me nuts to clear the old stuff and reorganise them in their new homes, to the extent that i promised myself i'm not gng to move unless i absolutely have to.

they'll be tested.. now that indonesia has decided to go on with their plans to build nuclear plants. indonesia. ring of fire. my goddess.

Anonymous said...

You want them to be tested? They are afraid of even landing in a position of handling a few more opposition MPs in Parliament.

That is why they need to induct more nominated MPs to provide token debates for show. That's not the real stuff! That's a puppet show.

Amused said...

'We are a nation led by "leaders" who mostly look good just on paper.'

Yes, they all look good on the very (MSM) paper that they tightly control.

Anonymous said...

MM Lee said the 2003 SARS episode was a test of the new PAP leaders which they passed with flying colours. Mr Wang, what do you say to that?

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? They can't even handle a small flood in Orchard Road.

Eaststopper said...

Isn't the fact that we have navigated successfully with little or no resources, proximity to saber-rattling neighbours, multi-racial society and an extremely open economy already tests by themselves?

Roy said...


Are you taking drugs? Sabre rattling neighbors? Just because people tell you they are, doesnt mean its true. When was the last time another country fired a bullet at us?

U made it sound like we are Taiwan, Isreal and South Korea.. Oh btw these countries are pretty developed too. No?

Mr Wang said...

1. "We are a multi-racial society, therefore we are disadvantaged."

Seriously, this is just another piece of PAP propaganda. The world has plenty of cities which are as multi-racial, or more multi-racial, than us. Try walking down a street in New York, London, Sydney, San Francisco or even just Kuala Lumpur ... There is nothing unique or even unusual about having people of different skin colours living on the same piece of land.

Eaststopper said...

I think you meant cosmopolitan. Societies in Europe and the US have issues trying to integrate particularly Muslim communities into their society and there have been serious debate about how to do so. Walking down a street does not give you the same perspective as getting into their shoes.

Amused said...

I agree with Mr Wang's previous comment. Even a state as big as California is more racially diverse than Singapore. According to US Census, non-Hispanic White accounts for 42% of the population, i.e. there is no longer a racial majority in the state. Singapore is still predominantly Chinese, through massive social engineering.

Eaststopper said...

Dear Roy,

No drugs lah. Just maybe tons of caffeine.
Well I guess we have passed the stage whereby we quiver whenever our neighbours are less than friendly. I recall the days when we are called a tiny red dot and when taken hostage with our water supplies. But those were definitely not easy times.

Anonymous said...

Should the success of a nation be just measured by GDP growth? Some
economists are beginning to think that happiness should also be included. If that is so, how do we fare? Poorly, I suppose.Then our
government has not done its job. I
think this gov`t has lost touch
with the spirit and hearts of Singaporeans.Why? This is because
for decades we have have been scared to our wits that an alternative gov`t spells doom. We have been complicit in giving this complete power to the PAP. In its arrogance,it made sure that they
need not be tested.
Should we continue to be just satisfied with good GDP numbers?

w said...

I wouldn't say our leaders are totally inept, but it certainly seems like they've not been tested. They might not be able to handle situations that are not the norm.

In fact they may be quite good at the normal stuff that has to be done, but wonder if they are capable of being creative in their problem solving, and at their ability to make major changes to the system when needed, or whether they are more comfortable with maintaing status quo, and only doing stuff that are pleasing to superiors.

mr wang said...

Quite frankly, I think that our (often) poor relationship with Malaysia should be held as a black mark against the PAP, and another sign of their failure.

We know how the bad relationship came about - it was LKY's own acrimonous relationship, at a personal level, with Mahathir from the time that Singapore turned independent.

45 years later, the PAP still cannot resolve it? If so, then this is an indication of another PAP failure - a diplomatic failure. Mahathir already stepped down, and LKY supposedly took a political backseat 15 or 20 years. Why has the PAP still not mended its relationship with the Malaysian government?

Both Germany and Japan took less time than that, to repair their relationship with the whole world, after a much, much more momentous ad significant event - the 2nd World War.

Anonymous said...

ahh...I remember Singapore pissing the Malaysian by inviting the President of Israel. Singapore's cars were stoned when leaving Johor.

Unknown said...

Dear Eaststopper

Sticks and stones my friend. We have been less than complimentary esp our MM regarding Malaysia many many times. Does that mean we wanna invade them?

Additionally, we have been procuring weapons like crazy for decades. I agree that we should have adequate defense mechanism, but when u buy swords by the dozen year after year and polish them while you behave in an unkind manner towards your neighbour, even if you are the smallest guy in the block, you are the aggressor. Its not the size, its your behaviour. Remember the small country that is Japan in 1939?

Finally regarding water. Our leaders insisted that everything is a commercial agreement for the discussion. Right? Mr Wang is the lawyer here. So he can give us his point of view. If it is strictly commercial, Malaysia can cut the water off and compensate us per the agreement if there is a clause. We have got to decide how we want some deals to be. Are they commercial or diplomatic. We cant have it both ways. We saw it as commercial. So cutting off, with a fair compensation is a legally fair way to deal with it. We should not get all sensitive and call it an act of war... if we do, who is the agressor?

Anonymous said...

I think Singapore has no room to be tested, when major disasters like those in Japan now happen here.

Because given our size, there would not even be any Singapore left, right or not?

So in this type of scenario, does it really matter whether there are really good, "good on paper" or what not leaders?

But what really matters is to win 98% of seats at elections.

And they did! And I have no doubt they will do it again.

In other words, to be really good for the Singapore context.

Ghost said...

Sorry Mr Wang but you cannot blame the government for the walkovers, only the opposition for not contesting them. Hopefully in this coming elections, all the seats will be contested.

Amused said...

Mr Ghost,

What about the people who wanted to contest in election but couldn't/wouldn't? Through the decades, PAP has jailed opponents using ISAs, bankrupted oppositions using compliant courts, and caused fears among potential challengers using harsh and illegal tactics.

The walkovers became common only after PAP came into power. You and many others have been made to share their tales through years of MSM and public campaign, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Ghost said.... March 18, 2011 4:28 PM

With so many people eyeing for such conveted positions, do you sincerely think there will be walkovers, if not many, in a true democracy.

Even a simple game with a small prize money will likely draw many contestants and participants, let alone the highly priced position of our elected representatives.

Anonymous said...

i think Khaw did very well during SARs crisis while Lim Hng Kiang had failed badly..

Anonymous said...


i suggest you to do more reading to find out how the electoral system has been manipulated by the PAP over the years to disadvantage the oppositions. it is not a level playing field. if the PAP is that good, why are they afraid of competition?


Anonymous said...


just to give you a simple example. in 1998, Sin Kek Tong of SDP obtained 41.2% of the votes against PAP's Goh Choon Kang in Braddell Heights constituency. 3 years later, in 1991, in the same constituency and against the same PAP candidate, his share of votes increased to 47.7%.

looking at the trend, there might be a chance that he could beat Goh Choon Kang in the following election.
but what happened in the next election? through shameless gerrymandering, PAP decided to group Braddell Heights under Marine Parade GRC to save Goh Choon Kang. Braddell Heights a place so far away from the sea, is under Marine Parade GRC, isn't that a joke.

by this act, not only did the PAP rob Sin Kek Tong a chance to win the Braddell Heights constituency, it also deprived Braddell Heights voters their right to select their representative.

And you blame the opposition for not contesting? time for you and many S'poreans to wake up!


Anonymous said...

They cannot be tested. They will not stand through the trials at all. As you have said, they only look good on paper.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Our leaders have been rigorously tested at their jobs at the GLCs. They also went through a very stringent interview process when being asked to join PAP.

All of our leaders have stellar work review reports that list all their accomplishments at work.

They have been put through a very stringent set of tests to ensure they are the best people for the job.

In fact, it appears that democracy is the weakest test they face, given that the electorate that votes for them is too immatured to even manage their own retirement funds and is too reliant on the government for help, as pointed out by SM Goh Chok Tong.

Amused said...

I am constantly amused by the comments by Singaporeans. The oppositions will have a hard time convincing the electorate to vote for them. All these nonsense about GLC (where are your fortune 500 company? what happened to your numerous investment blunders), the supposedly stellar scholars as ministers (what happened to your retirement fund?), and the deft and immatured citizens (what happened to your own talents - emigation.)

As I commented earlier, many Singaporeans have been made to share the PAP's tales through years of MSM and public campaign, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

//Anonymous said...
In fact, it appears that democracy is the weakest test they face, March 19, 2011 7:19 AM//

But democracy is precisely the test that individuals will measure by electing those who can best represent their interests, be it be too much relying on govt, immaturity or other facts of life.

Why have such an important & mandatory test if it is going to be their weakest test - hence there lies the oxy-moron.

Why would you want to have representatives who may have good personal stellar work reviews only benefiting themselves if it is not going to translate into being relied by those people who need help, even though the latter may be too "immature" or naive enough to be "tricked" into immaturity.

Roy said...

A lot of rubbish comments by a lot of anonymous.

"a lot of our leaders are tested through their time in GLC?"


Look at our Ministers now
George Yeo - SAF
Lui Tuck Yew - SAF
Teo Chee Hian - SAF
Lim Swee Say - Career civil servant
Tharman - Career Civil Servant

Those with outside exp, even GLC ones are the exception

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of our PAP leaders are scholars, which means they were oustanding in both their academic pursuits and extra curricular activities.

Very few Singaporeans can lay claim to such accomplishments. Most opposition members are only average achievers in school and in life.

Would you rather be led by a scholar who has years of experience leading a GLC department or statuatory board, or by some average Joe who stays in a four-room flat?

Roy said...

I have worked with scholars. Some are good some are not. Take the infamous Wee Shu Min as example. She is good at studying but has ZERO empathy. Would you rather have her take care of your welfare or someone down to earth?

Good at books does not equal to good at work or good at governing or being a good politician. Would you pay a top investment banker top money to do your brain surgery? Would the NBA pay top money for Christiano Ronaldo? How did Michael Jordon fare in baseball?

The point is: if these scolars are so good, why do they need so much protection to get into the parliament through the GRCs?

Going through an election is part an parcel of a politician. Much like how running is a part if playing football. If they are interested only in governing they should stay in the Civil Services as Perm Sec.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans will vote for PAP.

Ever since independence, Singaporeans and PAP have been partners in nation-building. If you need homes, you go to a PAP minister of HDB.

If you have labour disputes, you seek help from PAP labour ministers in NTUC or from PAP minister in MOM.

NS is a national rite of passage for Singaporean males, which was put in place by yet another PAP minister.

We all grew up with PAP. PAP and Singaporeans are partners in nation building. We have no ties with opposition members, except to fill in the entertainment segments in our newspapers.

Singapore needs PAP more than it needs all the opposition parties put together. Even NTUC, a labour moment, is open about its close alliance with PAP.

PAP = NTUC, NTUC = PAP. Opposition members are not welcomed.

Ghost said...

Of course the PAP change the election boundary to suit themselves. There's a word for it; Gerrymandering. And guess what? Every country does it. Every sitting government throughout the world does it; even in the U.K, France & U.S. Does anyone truly think the PAP won't do it when everyone else in the world does?Only in dreamland will it not happen.

Anonymous said...

Nonsense. Texas is Texas, New York is New York, California is California. Only in Singapore can we have, for example, such things as Serangoon becoming Marine Parade.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

The simple truth of the matter is that most PAP candidates are not the first-choice candidates of the PAP itself. Instead they are the second-choice or 3rd-choice candidates.

How do we know this? Well, LKY himself has told you that much. Over the years, he has often commented on how difficult it is for the PAP to attract talent, and how the people they shortlist and approach often turn out to be just not willing to join the PAP and enter into politics.

From this, you already know. That many of the people who are PAP MPs today were just the 2nd or 3rd choice candidates.

Anonymous said...

"Ghost said...Of course the PAP change the election boundary to suit themselves. There's a word for it; Gerrymandering. And guess what? Every country does it. Every sitting government throughout the world does it; even in the U.K, France & U.S"

And for UK, France & US, they keep on changing their govts like changing their underwear. You should know why that is where the similarity on gerrymandering ends.

Alan Wong said...

Could it have been deliberate i.e. the selection of PAP candidates are 2nd rate so that they won't outshine the Clown Prince ?

Even the PM admitted that they still can't find heir apparent to the throne yet which means the current deputy PMs are are not PM-material ?

And it is so unreal that none of the present PAP PM hopefuls keen enough to challenge the Clown Prince unless they must have already been bought over or threatened with utmost severe punishment if they dare ever try ?

Anonymous said...

"The simple truth of the matter is that most PAP candidates are not the first-choice candidates of the PAP itself. Instead they are the second-choice or 3rd-choice candidates."
Mr Wang

Doesn't matter lah. As long as they can win, it is good enough lah, right?

Conversely if the opposition has good candidates but cannot win, or worse, made bankrupt, also no use, right?

Anonymous said...

We must not let the opposition win.

Unlike our PAP, our opposition candidates have never been seriously tested enough to demonstrate their credibility or experience in running a country.

There are no opposition trade union leaders. There are no opposition grass roots leaders. There are no opposition leaders in the GLCs or SAF or NTUC.

Where's the vigorous test for our opposition members? None!!

No wonder MM Lee is adamant that we do not allow in untested 'duds' into our parlimaent.

Anonymous said...

"There are no opposition leaders in the GLCs or SAF or NTUC"

Are you serious? In the first place would they allow? When they get a sniff of their participation in opposition activities, they will give him the 'Chee' treatment. Which means the end of their career in those places.

Oh yes, PAP MPs are all well tested, in tea drinking ceremonies I suppose.

Anonymous said...

If you actually look up the history books, you'll probably discover that in the past 25 years, no Singapore MP has contested and won more elections than Chiam See Tong.

Mr Wang said...

What really surprises me in this discussion is the way some commentators are talking about GLCs - as if there is anything remarkable or impressive about having worked in a GLC.

In my view, a career in a GLC is generally a second-rate career. Try googling for Forbes or Fortune 500 research, and look up rankings like "World's Top 1,000 Companies", "World's 500 Most Profitable Companies", and so on. Good luck to you, in trying to spot a GLC.

Speaking for myself, as somebody working in the banking industry, I can honestly assure you that I would not consider DBS as a desirable employer. I would name Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital, JP Morgan, Nomura etc as potentially good banks to join ... but a GLC like DBS? No, no, no. Seriously, just noooooo.

I don't think that it's just about the banking industry either. I mean, suppose I had decided to pursue journalism as a career (which I almost did, many years ago). Who would I regard as an attractive employer? A GLC like SPH or Mediacorp? Haha, no, of course not. A talented and ambitious journalist would be aiming to work for BBC, or Time, or Newsweek, or Reuters, or Bloomberg, or AFP.

Anonymous said...

"There are no opposition trade union leaders"

Now, would it be realistic to expect the NTUC to induct opposition trade union leaders into its ranks? This is an organisation headed by no less than a PAP minister, supported by many PAP MPs, and they will never want to be in a position to have to 'fix' those opposing leaders.

In any case, had there been opposition trade union leaders in the NTUC, Singapore workers would in all probability not end up in such a sorry state, completely powerless to organise strikes, confront employers or do anything about the endless influx of foreign workers, competing with them for jobs.

Roy said...

"There are no opposition trade union leaders. There are no opposition grass roots leaders. There are no opposition leaders in the GLCs or SAF or NTUC."

I consider people from SAF undesirable. There are many males here who served NS and can tell you what many SAF commanders do. Nothing.

SAF has not been in an armed conflict for soooo long. So what they do all the time is to pretend there is a war, play war games and masak masak. There are many Starcraft 2 players in Singapore who does the same. For the scholars, they do wits projects and write papers!! Wow, I see how that is relevant to running a country.

Trade Union? What trade union? You meant the insurance company cum supermarket chain operator? The opposition has a hedge fund guy and some entrepreneur. So there.

Wang said...

Mr Wang

Would differ in your opinion on diplomatic relationship.

The simple truth is that it is too political convenient for Malaysian politicians to use Singapore as their bogey person.

Further, due to the economic success of Singapore, this further created feelings that the "adik"/"isteri" (little brother/ex wife) needs to be extra humble.

Justread Mahatir's Malay dilemma and the drivel in it of Malay Ketuanan"Malay supremacy".
Frankly, the Malaysian polity expected Singapore to come crawling back especially after the loss of the naval bases.

So until the new generation came in, was there a possibility of reset.

Would have to agree with Eaststopper although that does not mean that all PAP policies are to continue or should be supported.


Anonymous said...

Most of our younger ministers will probably turn green in the face if some major calamities were to take place. I hope they don't pengsang in public.

The govt. should just let us draw out our CPF and set up our own pension fund and handle the money ourselves. Their one size fits all policies does not cater to the needs of all.

Anonymous said...

When faced with floods, our minister's response were "it only happens once every fifty years"; "no amount of engineering can prevent ...".

Anonymous said...

Then why are they suddenly raising the road levels of parts of Orchard Road?

They sometimes contradict themselves, first by denying foul ups then doing something quietly to correct the fault, in the hope that Singaporeans do not see the correlation between the two. We are not that daft.

In any case flooding is not something that needs an expert Engineer to tell us. Any reasonable person with a bit of grey matter can tell you that floods occur because the place is too low lying. You just have to raise the ground or build dykes to keep out the water during high tide coupled with heavy rain.

Anonymous said...

On floods and the non-working policies, the service has a huge amount of data to show that they did their work. Which, is true and good.

You see, our problem here, is not that the service is not doing work. In fact, the service is doing a damn good job.

Our problem here is, they are just doing their work. There is no LEADER, no foresight, nobody daring to put his arse on the line to say, hey this thing we did since Dr Goh's time? It's outdated and we have to try this other thing.

Anonymous said...

All those who dare put their arse on the line already did and have all been neutralised. Remember Francis Seow, Tang Liang Hong, Chee Soon Juan, J.B. Jeyeratnam etc?
All that is left are just dumb smurfs going through the motion to take home the miserable bacon in order to pay for the rising costs of living here.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Ironic isn't it? highest paid untested leaders. and worse they have to come into parliament as a group. Can't each make their own way into parliament based on their own merits?

Anonymous said...

Own merits? Sure tells you a lot about their meritocracy mantra!