Feb 16, 2011

The Slow & Steady Deterioration of Singapore

Right now, I am living near an MRT station. So every morning I take the MRT to work. The station is almost brand new - it's on the Circle Line which only started operating last year - and in terms of aesthetics, it is quite pleasing. The colours and the materials they have chosen are rather nice.

However, the ceiling leaks water. Every time it rains, the ceiling leaks water. I am not talking about the heavy, torrential kind of rain that we get once in a while. I am talking about moderate rain - that's already sufficient to cause a leak, a steady drip-drip-drip of water that falls down to the platform waiting area.

Then the MRT station officers place a large piece of canvas on the floor to soak up the water, and on top of the canvas, they put a big plastic pail to catch the water, and next to the canvas, they place a big sign - "WARNING - WET FLOOR" - so that passengers don't slip and fall.

This isn't the only MRT station where I have noticed such leaking. I have also seen the leakage problem at the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station (note that this is a major train interchange, in the heart of town, where three MRT lines intersect). In fact the leakage is so bad that you can see - at the area where the rain falls through - that the floor tiles have become stained and discoloured (rain water is not pure water, so constant exposure to rainwater causes the marble tiles to discolour).

To me, the leakage at these stations - and who knows how many other stations - is like a poetic metaphor of Singapore today. Superficially, things look okay, even nice. In truth, the system is breaking down, and leaking water.

There was a time in Singapore, when the idea of having a wet MRT station was just unimaginable. Back then, as a nation we were known as efficient and productive, and to take pride (an almost-obsessive pride) in our basic public infrastructure - trains, airports, housing, schools, hospitals and so on. Things worked. The basic things, at least, worked, and worked well. The thought that our clean, modern train system could leak water on a rainy day would just not have been acceptable.

That has changed. I suspect that many Singaporeans have not actually noticed, because many Singaporeans have short memories (that is my polite euphemism for saying that many Singaporeans are actually quite stupid).

Every year, the Singapore government announces some new grand plans - to be an international hub for this, or that, or something else - but the truth is that the Singapore government has been failing. Let's not even talk about the grand plans. The Singapore government has been failing on the basic, basic stuff .... such as:

(1) providing affordable public housing;
(2) providing affordable healthcare;
(3) narrowing the income gap;
(4) creating an environment where Singaporeans feel it's actually safe and okay to have children.

What is the use of having world-class casinos? What is the use of paying ministers their world-class salaries? What is the use of hosting the Grand Prix, or becoming a medical tourism hub, or giving foreigners scholarships to study in Singapore? What is the use of spending $1 billion to build beautiful flower gardens at Marina Bay?

When you cannot even get the basic things right.


Anonymous said...

That is what you get when results and rewards are based on GDP.

Affordable housing does not improve GDP. Affordable healthcare does not improve GDP. Narrow income gap does not inmprove GDP. But their bonuses depend on GDP. So why bother about these insignificant concepts?

It is sad that the govt blames Singaporeans for slower GDP growth due slower influx of cheap labour. This shows how out of touch and detached the govt is.

What is the hurry about GDP growth now? Where are we rushing to? To be the top GDP per capita country before the next state funeral?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, as you said. Rely on yourself. Don't complain.

Affordable housing? Cross the causeway.

Affordable healthcare? Cross the causeway... MEDISAVE accepted some more!

The basics are all across the causeway.

Anonymous said...

looks like its a case of poor workmanship or use of inferior waterproofing materials to cut costs

Anonymous said...

The water collected are meant for the plants in the Station.
Why are Singaporeans so complain kings(and queens).
Use your blains to save water mah.
Save water means save money! The MRT Staff got somemore works to keep them healthy instead of just chattering away in the control room.

Anonymous said...

20 years ago, the Singaporean Government published a book called "The Next Lap". The book is a bit of the usual SG Propaganda, but it strikes a tone that is both sober and optimistic. The PAP of that era was hopeful for the future, but realistic about the challenges that lay ahead.

20 years later, my impression is that Singaporeans - and their leaders - are tired. Instead of gearing up for the next lap, as the book's authors had hoped they would, they seem to have hit the wall, and are wheezing at the roadside of history. The rest of the world has cottoned on to the 'secrets' of East Asian economic success. From Kenya to Colombia, you are hearing all kinds of fascinating growth stories, so it's no longer just a rise of the BRIC countries anymore.

In these twenty years since 1991, the truth is, I feel, that Singapore has not found a new secret sauce, or tended the hearth that had powered its engine up to that point in time. Financial services? Marine engineering? Tourism? These are all fine and dandy but they do not put SG on the next level of development. Creative Technologies is fizzling in a tech world that is now so much more competitive. There is no 'next' Creative. There certainly do not appear to be any SG companies on the verge of becoming a future Apple or Facebook.

Without that sense of purpose, that the future is going to be so much better than before, I imagine that is what is causing all of this malaise. Why try even harder when it's clear that the future will belong to the BRICs and other emerging nations? Why bother competing when the last 'national champions' in industry got left in the dust? That, I think, is what has been lost, and without that driving force, that ideological underpinning, you are going to get yet more tired public facilities such as the leaking MRT stations that you mentioned.

Alan Wong said...

Mr. Wang,

Can I also interprete what you have written as another nice way of saying that our current PM & his team of Cabinet Ministers (which includes his father) are real duds since they can't even get the basics right ?

Anonymous said...

now Mr Wang,

This time you are right.

Anonymous said...

The system is falling apart. But if you criticise the system, you will get hauled up, even sued and made bankrupt, as JBJ and CSJ found out. We can no longer rely on so-called "good men" because the system that produced these people has failed and produced only sycophants. The system must be overhauled before it is too late and it begins at the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

And failure to realise it has failed in providng the basics. The ministers often pat themselves on their backs for doing a good job. And don't we get reminded for the "sacrifice" they make for not taking up a better-paying "private" sector job?

Anonymous said...

Well, it only takes the Immortal One to come out and say: Singaporeans should not expect no leaks and everything will be fine, and the complaints will automatically stop.

Did anyone hear complaints about floods now?

It is the result of top leaders getting complacent with standards of good governance that used to exists, that will contribute to the deterioration of Singapore.

The rot is setting in, slowly and perceptively so.

Anonymous said...

it was last year if i'm not mistaken, that yawning bread asked in one of his blogs - while discussing the warnings of the toll of bad govt - if bad govt was not already here.

to me one of the basics that has been gotten wrong is the amount of luxury that keeps being forced on us. why marble - or could it be as pricey polished granite - in the MRT station for instance?

this is so new rich, this desperate attempt to flaunt wealth to say, Look at me dude, i'v arrived. its simply crass and childish, and pointless.

sorry but i grew up in times when you Did Not flaunt wealth. u were Discreet about it, in consideration of this who may not be as lucky. this is why i'v only just discovered that my bookie neighbour earned 3 times what my dentist dad did. that his older brother, in the same profession, owned 16 race horses! dad, on the other hand, had the occasional small flutter at the races if he had some spare cash.

i would have rather the marble money been spent on a longer train platform or a hundred other things - basic things - that need attending to. preferably things which would prevent hunched 70 and 80 yr olds still toiling for a meal and saying, Hope i die before i get ill.

Anonymous said...

To the "Next Lap" guy

In sum, what are you are saying is that SINGAPOREANS are Tired...the MPs are tired, the People are tired, the Parents are tired, the Students are tired..we are a 50 years old and we are tired.

Why, you might ask?
Is it due to the unrelentless striving, aspiring, pushing, coercion, for being #1 in every god damn thing? To be the perfect child/son so we can all live up the expectations of our Grandfather?

Soon we will all be sitting on our own laps..

Anonymous said...

Why, you might ask?
Is it due to the unrelentless striving, aspiring, pushing, coercion, for being #1 in every god damn thing? To be the perfect child/son so we can all live up the expectations of our Grandfather?

I would say, we were proud and we achieved because we had great leaders. We had a common vision. We stayed together, so we moved ahead.

Over the last 2 decades, "common-ness" eroded. We taxed the largest group to maximise tax collections. We recruited and enabled more high earners, so a certain peg is maximised. Internal competition turned a common unity into divided self-interests. Everyone had to come up with creative new projects, even it meant tearing down great current ones, to move up. It became a game. The nation became and Inc, when it should be a home.

Anonymous said...

"What is the use of having world-class casinos? What is the use of paying ministers their world-class salaries? What is the use of hosting the Grand Prix, or becoming a medical tourism hub, or giving foreigners scholarships to study in Singapore? What is the use of spending $1 billion to build beautiful flower gardens at Marina Bay?"
-Mr Wang

Of course got use lah. This is where it makes headlines what. And we must also attract foreign talents what. That's where they have to be given scholarships as incentives.

Because all these will increase GDP and is also ministers' KPI for their bonuses.

Failing on the basic stuff? So what? Has the opposition become much more stronger and credible as a result? Will PAP lose its 2/3 majority in Parliament? Will there be mass protests on the streets? Or has people like Mr Wang become poorer?

jun said...

i would like to know how mr wang defines the following:

(1) affordable public housing;
(2) affordable healthcare;
(3) a narrow income gap;
(4) an environment where Singaporeans feel it's actually safe and okay to have children


TopSage said...

I'm TopSage from CNA forum.
I'm completely frustrated with this govt for putting so many hurdles and challenges in my life they took away my chance of ever had in life. Although I'm of average talent, I'm far far away from a quality of life of an average person living in Singapore.

As you're an accomplished poet, I'm a less educated Singapore putting a few words together. To me, the govt has betrayed our pledge, taken away my freedom and sold us all out to foreigners.

Cry Freedom Singapore

Five stars arise, our thoughts idealised
A nation is born, our allegiance sworn
Born to a home to call my own
That is all I've known, where I've grown
Out of the poverty, I came the farthest
My future was bright till they shut the light
Betray us locals and deepen our plight
Our future's bleak, yet we cannot speak
So I end up struggling, fighting to eat
The less I have, the bolder I get
With my hands, I wave our flag
Democracy, Equality and Justice
Ideals I will die to protect...

PH said...

Wonder if it is an internet phenomenon or a Singapore phenomenon that we have so many anonymous here.

world class said...

"What is the use of paying ministers their world-class salaries?"

Huh? Since when were they paid "world-class" salaries? They are being paid out-of-the-world class salaries!

"World-class" salaries = what Obama and other G8 nations' leaders are getting = US$400,000 or less

Our ministers' "out-of-the-world class" salaries = salaries of leaders of USA + Japan + Canada + France + Germany + Spain + Italy + UK **COMBINED**

Anonymous said...

perhaps we've just become complacent...and bored. perhaps we're just waiting for the barbarians.

Anonymous said...

More than 15 yrs ago, when I was travelling in ASEAN coutries I noticed their in-general poor-quality roads with some pot holes and I was proud of the high-quality roads Singapore has..
Recently, I began to notice potholes on PIE, AMK and Bukit Timah. It is too dangerous to stop and take photos to submit to LTA as evidence so that they could act on it. Some are quite big size and may cause accident to motocycles. I do notice the larger size holes got patched up but I think the cause and not the symptoms needs to be identified and fixed. Is it due to the quality of materials? Is it due to the workmanship? Or is it due to both? Please contribute if you noticed same symptoms in roads that you used.

Anonymous said...

I've been spending some time touring the blogosphere outside of Singapore, just out of curiosity and boredom, I suppose. The observations I make are not surprising, but at the same time kinda paradigm changing.

Malaysians in Malaysian blogs complain about their government too. On Dr. Mahathir's response to MM Lee's new book, there were many Malaysians who ridiculed him (Mahathir) and said that they wonder how far Malaysia would've gone if MM Lee was their leader.

In the States, the irony is that by and large, it doesn't matter if you read a left- or right-leaning blog. Chances are you'll find the general crowd condemning Obama. Politically, he's not as popular as one from the outside might think. His policies are not very popular, and are viewed as inadequate, timid, or useless.

In Europe, there are similarly those who complain about their government's domestic policies, either economically or otherwise. They too don't rank in the minority.

The Middle East stands as a testament to this "phenomenon", if you will. After all, "people power" topped Mubarak, using social media.

I have, quite frankly, not found a single country or region where the people band together in praise of their government. To claim that the people running their country is world class, or that their policies are the best. Everyone complains.

It makes me wonder, really, if the Singapore situation is really as unique as it is. If we really are oppressed, that our government has or is failing. Or is this simply humanity, looking at the rotting trees and missing the forest.

Anonymous said...

They will turn around and tell you that to have the leak fixed you have to pay more. That's their standard way to 'explain' off a problem away.

Anonymous said...

You need bells & whistles for hubs here and there. Bells & whistles make gdp grow and also an expensive place to live.

Anonymous said...

"I have, quite frankly, not found a single country or region where the people band together in praise of their government."

Sure, they also changed the govt while complaining in more democratic countries.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

It is a generation gap issue. In the past, we had capable leaders and administrators who work first, prove his/her capability and ask for more pay. Now we have better ones from division A.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, how can these constitute failings of the government when in your last post you mentioned:

The government isn't here to take care of you. The government isn't here to serve Singaporeans. The government isn't here to care for the poor and the sick.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, I agree with you on what you said. I'm mid thirties now. I remembered feeling very proud of being Singaporean and of Singapore when I was younger - in the eighties and nineties... Reading this article makes me feel sad real real sad that our country has come to this! Mediacorp has been broadcasting a new music video 'This is home truly' - I like it but I can't find back that 'proud' feeling anymore :(

TopSage said...

Those who think Singapore is so darn good are blinded by propaganda.

Since I was young, I've subjected to one sided political indoctrination bombarded by state controlled newspapers and TV media. For those who are from rich families and can afford to travel, they would have their eyes open at an early age because they will be exposed to what is going on in foreign countries. The effects of continued propaganda and indoctrination is heaviest on the poor who spend their whole lives in Singapore. Over time I thought that people in other countries live in complete chaos and Singapore is a true paradise. Our homes are worldclass, our transport system is world class, our education system is world class, our govt takes excellent care of the poor and old. Other countries are fraught with crime disorder and misery.

It was only when I was in my twenties that I get to travel to Muar in Malaysia. I was terrified of going given the numerous reported crimes reported in our newspapers. I was afraid of getting robbed, cheated and killed. I set aside my apprehension of the unknown to go to stay at the home of a friend of a friend. I was worried the home will have no basic amenities like water, electricity, cable vision and Internet access given they are not advanced like Singapore. I was afraid thatI would not be able to get around due to their backward transport system. I was also afraid that racial riots and protests will erupt sponteneously on the streets putting my life in danger. Muar is afterall the backwater of Malaysia.

When I got there, the 1st question I asked my host was whether he can provide me with some information on public transport. His reply was "public transport? What public transport?". That immediately confirmed my fears that the place was hopeless. However, what he said next was more shocking to me, "Everyone here drives around or use motorbike lah who wants to take bus?!". It is shocking because the unreachable Singapore dream of owning a car is a default transportation in Muar? Yes, and they have clean water, cable with more channels, Internet access, mobile phones too. They mostly live in landed property which although look a bit run down have little garden and spaces for children. In the 1 week I was there, I was not robbed or cheated. The food was great and I even got to meet the (in)famous Muar rapper who unpleasantly hurled vulgarities at me when he found out I was from Singapore. The old don't work in Muar, they look after grandchildren ...yes, the people there are still reproducing. My first experience out of Singapore thought me that people don't live the same way we do in Singapore - they are firstly more relaxed, children have spare time to play soccer, they live in bigger homes. Also, people like the Muar rapper have some character and do not behave like drones feeding an economic machine.

I suspect many poor Singaporeans who don't travel do not know that life can actually be better. They are somewhat trapped in their thoughts that what is unchangeable is unchangeable and they can only cope with life and struggle through the challenges. I used to think that people are stupid to emigrate from such a wonderful place like Singapore to other countries where the system is described by our newspapers as completely flawed dysfunctional and unsafe. Just a short trip to one of Malaysia's backwater made me questions the assumptions on which Singaporean lives are built. Singapore is a sparkling micropolis with numerous millionaires but most of us will never be millionaires and will have to eke out an average life - 3 room flats, public transport, A level education. Many will not be able to afford marriage and children. We are now told to go to Malaysia when we are sick and old. Singapore is a paradise only to those who don't know better....

Anonymous said...

"Wonder if it is an internet phenomenon or a Singapore phenomenon that we have so many anonymous here."

This is a purely Singapore phenomenon. You do not have any right to speak freely and publicly. People are afraid of speaking out. Unfortunately, "anonymous" is not truly anonymous in most cases. They can still go after you. TR, if they do what they claim, is perhaps the only anonymous website. There you see outright criticisms against PAP not seen elsewhere.

TopSage is right. The propaganda works as long as you have never experienced any culture. Confucianism only works for the ruler. You are told the pay for ministers are necessary to maintain and attract high caliber talents, except that they are out of this world. You can’t find so many 80 year old janitors and cleaners in any other developed country. You can’t find any first world country encouraging its citizens to retire and seek healthcare in a developing country. You can’t find any developed country without minimum wage and welfare. You can’t find any developed country taking such a huge proportion of immigrant workers that suppress local wages. You can’t find as many rude and uncompassionate people in other countries. You can’t find any democracy without viable oppositions. The emigration rate and the birth rate don’t lie. This country is fundamentally hopeless in the long run if nothing changes.

TopSage said...

Things are deteriorating. All they can do to win votes is give out budget goodies to sweeten the ground.

Election Budget Goodies
Sweeten the poison
Dumb down the masses
Induced amnesia
Temporary pleasure
Forget your pain and troubles
Vote for them and get double
Prove yourself daft
Tricked again , they laugh
They are back in power.
Life will only gets tougher
When will Sporeans ever learn
Your problem is not their concern
So vote wisely this time
Or end up with a 4 yr whine

reservist_cpl said...

It's not necessarily a bad thing if people complain about their country's government. And real, positive change does result at times. If Wat Tyler didn't revolt in England the working wo/man might still be oppressed there.

I've noticed the gradual degradation of Singapore too. Rats are now seen in drains when once they were a rare occurrence. I would've been shocked to see a rat years ago but am now inundated because so many of them are in the estate. When I called the Town Council, I was told that building contractors were to blame and they would be told to put more rat poison (to be fair, the contractor indeed called me and told me that they had put more traps and poison - it seemed to have some effect but didn't quite eliminate the rats). In response to my call, the Town Council also put up a letter telling residents not to leave leftover food lying around, or words to the effect.

This is what happens when government does not take responsibility for things that should really be their job. Governments are set up among people not simply so that they can chivvy us around, but because people need them to perform some useful function. Just as a company that blames its suppliers for lousy product and then blames its customers for complaining is bound to go bust, a government is bound to be out of power eventually if it persists in doing the same, instead of reflecting on what it has done wrong and rectifying those errors.

Joseph said...

I am living in Bangkok. I have been in the roofing industry for more than 15 years. To have a roof leak through the ceiling is an almost impossible task to repair unless you open up the whole roofing system including the ceiling system that includes double layers of roof and the ceiling and also all the insulation. Normally no one want to open it up because it is messy, very messy I have to assure you and most times the real source of leak is somewhere else meaning you may have to take off the entire roof and ceiling to repair.

I thank you Mr. Wang for this posting as it is not often that you post about the failures of our government. I actually hope that you could do more since you are also a lawyer to stand up for the coming elections as an opposition to at least try to open up our leaky roof and ceilings slowly and mend the leak. Why opposition? Just look at what happened to that spineless Vivian after he joined the government.

Anonymous said...

Spray water proofing solution all over the roof lah.
And of course, dont do it on a rainy day ha!
Use a fire engine or an helicopter to reach the roof and do it at 2 to 4 AM.

Anonymous said...

And no bucket will be needed anymore.
And no more eyesore.

Muse said...

I agree with u on the lack of pride in the finished structures, not to mention the ugliness of the buildings that was suppose to be some modern gems.

I have noticed the structural flaws but I can only blame it on the contractors, or architects not thiking things through, cutting corners and nothing reflective of the govt.

Affordable living. A good question. Are u comparing with DEVELOPED countries or you are still looking backwards with UNDEVELOPED countries catching up with us? Did u see the price tag in HK, UK, EUROPE or even China now? China is developing and see the direction of the housing. Is that affordable for the mainstream population of the billions? I agree that housing prices have HIT the rood at ridiculous price tag but its the local people and the FT that contributing to that. Do u want a liberal mkt or do u want a govt controlled mkt? Please choose one. Dont ask for free market and then complain about lack of intervention to keep an artificial price.

Affordable healthcare? Again, comparin to non-welfare developed states? Did u read about how heavily laden and burden taxing the economy for cheap healthcare in japan and taiwan? Please do not compare to undeveloped countries again. In HK, a NORMAL GP visit will set me back by at least $HK300 excluding medicine. How much did you say it cost again in singapore? My last memory $27 seem to get me consulation and medicine.

Alot more to say but I think then locals have to be more responsible about they complain about and be more horizontally exposed to other facts and not just focused on the bad things alone.

As for why the grandprix, casino etc. Not that i think it is a brillant idea but its call rebranding your country. We do not have natural resources and minerals like Australia, europe or middle east. We need to attract interest and these are the superficial ways to gain international exposure and constant reminder of "hey we are here." Its not for the people, its for the govt to have something to "brag" about. To the govt, the maslow needs of basic essentials have been met, we cannot wait till every condition is perfect and fulfil before we realise we have to work on other areas to beef up our "name" ashore.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed the structural flaws but I can only blame it on the contractors, or architects not thiking things through, cutting corners and nothing reflective of the govt.

If you go ask contractors, that is because of the prevalent culture/practice of 'lowest bidder wins' ... better cheaper faster!
Something's gotta give.. Quality!!!!

a said...

Even the buses leak.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why some people are so eager to defend the government and its flaws.

Criticism is important. It helps the government to improve.

The government does not need your defence. It needs citizens to spank it, whack its backside every now and then, and tell them to buck up.

People like Muse are detrimental and harmful to the progress of the nation.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, not everything is the Gehmen's fault. Workmanship (more like zeroskillship) has taken a dive to bottomless pit.

The locks on my newly installed stainless-steel window grids were super-glued in place !! No kidding. After a lot of screaming, locks were firmly welted down but they rusted after a few mths. Main contractor had to seek out sub-sub-sub contractors to make 'good' every lousy pc of sh*t. While making "good", inevitably something else wld get messed up and it would 'drip-drip-drip' on & on.

Whatever material in hands of the unskilled & under the supervision of the bo-chap will drip-drip-drip..... Keep last 10% ; )

james said...

governance standards hv dropped for years already .. no one seems to care.

reservist_cpl said...

I wonder how much of this may be due to certain "foreign talent" contractors who are "betterer faster cheaperest" (oops, betterer is probably wrong). I know someone in the HDB who told me of a contractor (China) who gave faulty toilet bowls, then claimed that he did not breach contract and he "disagreed" with the legal officer's interpretation, and finally said that the residents are too picky.

There is no such thing as too picky. If there is one commendable trait that I think Singapore should retain, it is the intolerance of any work that is less than perfect. We can and should tolerate imperfect people, but NOT imperfect work, like leaky roofs.

Re Muse who claims that we have a choice between either a liberal market vs a government controlled one (which I understand he assumes to be protectionist to some degree &c), it is a false dilemma because we currently have neither. We have a government that has an effective monopoly on housing, so the market is far from elastic. What we have now is worse than both of the alternatives he has suggested, because we have a government controlled market in which prices keep going up!

I would also note that it is generally understood in economics that competition tends to REDUCE profits to normal profits.

Peter Mak said...

Muse at February 17, 2011 1:12 PM said that "In HK, a NORMAL GP visit will set me back by at least $HK300 excluding medicine. How much did you say it cost again in singapore? My last memory $27 seem to get me consulation and medicine."

My experience was very different. I stay in Hong Kong and hold a Singapore passport. About 1-2 years ago, during a trip to Singapore, I went to a government clinic, and paid several hundred dollars (SGD) for medicine, dispensed at the clinic.

My follow-up was in Hong Kong a couple of weeks later, where I was prescribed the exact same medicine (not a generic variation), in the same quantity, at a Hong Kong government clinic. The cost of the whole visit (consultation and medicine, also dispensed at the clinic) came up to about ten dollars (SGD).

I was shocked and disappointed by the huge disparity, especially since I hold a Singapore passport and am not even a Hong Kong PR.

Anonymous said...

"Dont ask for free market and then complain about lack of intervention to keep an artificial price."

Then can people intervene on their own by peaceful protest & demostrations to shame recalcitrant companies & act or assert free-market pressure as a price moderator - w/o official intervention.

Anonymous said...

Examples of basics thing not done by the government:
We have Laws against illegal advertising in public areas. But government did not actually take any action against the advertisers.
Examples can be seen everywhere : the orange and pink laminated advertisement by tuition agency at every housing estate and MRT station, loan advertisements on road railings. If the government is really efficient, these should have been taken down within days after they put up, but in reality, the advs have been there for years and the government seemed to have given up on these illegal advertisers as part of the landscape in our so-called garden city.

Anonymous said...

I think Muse has given us the reason why Singapore is deteriorating.

As long as we go compare our problem to another country with a worse situation, we will have no problem!!!

And I think he has ministerial qualities because all our 84 duds seem to behave in the same way.

tim tan said...


My mum is from Muar and she worships PAP. And yes, she reads only the mainstream newspaper.

Liquid Roof said...

Thanks for posting, i am really glad to check out this information, there are so many people who are looking for such information, keep posting.

Eugene Tan said...

Dear Mr Wang,

You do talk alot of the government failing to provide for basic housing, affordable healthcare etc.....

I would like to see you perhaps suggest ways of how to go about doing that instead of jumping on the bandwagon of just criticising wth no real constructive suggestions.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Poor Eugene. You are another person who has been deceived by the rhetoric of the government over the years. What they have tricked you into believing is that a person has no right to criticize the government - no right even to speak the truth, about the government - if that person does not offer constructive suggestions.

This is nonsense. If you get bad services from a doctor, you have the right to criticize him. If you get services in a restaurant, you have the right to criticize. If you get bad services from an property agent, an insurance agent, an airline, a Whatever, you have the right to criticize.

It is NOT your job to teach the doctor how to be a good doctor. It is NOT your job to teach the airline how to be a good airline. It is THEIR job to figure that out.

So it is with the government.

Unfortunately, you don't think that way. Because you've been tricked.

Anonymous said...

Not that Singaporean don't notices, but even if they write to forum page, town councils or the authorities no one seems to care. It is the civil servants that are lazy and stupid and do not want trouble or problems.

Anonymous said...

Sleeping on the job, pocketing millions without accountability. Hallmark of the PAP.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

I think you missed the point Eugene Tan was trying to make. I don't think he's saying people have no right to criticize the government. Instead, to me, he's saying that if you really want to make a difference, start doing SOMETHING about it, instead of just criticizing.

Because anyone can just sit in an armchair and point out faults. But only those who care enough get off the chair and try to make a difference.

You talk about how it is 'NOT' our job to do this, or do that. Have you ever thought this: as a Singaporean, isn't it OUR job to change things if we feel they aren't right?

I find your use of certain words such as "deceived" and "tricked" to be an exaggeration and completely unnecessary. If you really want to make your point you can do so without leveling veiled insults at the person who questioned you. It seems rather unbecoming of someone who like you who is clearly making such an obvious effort to come across as polished and knowledgeable.

For your consideration.


7-8 said...

There are some questions that are not very well answered. You have the capitalist-liberal democracy model, which says that capitalist economies work best. (Notwithstanding the great recession of 2008 let's assume this to be true.) Economies perform best when there is competition, and this brings out the best in people, since everybody is self motivated, and they get rewarded for succeeding and delivering great products to the marketplace.

Then again, you have liberal democracy, which says that governments perform best when there is the constant threat of being voted out in the next elections. But is that the best way? Because when people are the ultimate rulers, fiscal discipline goes out the window. When you are in a job where you don't know who your masters will be in the long term, where is the incentive to do your best? How will you decide what's right for your people if you are constantly judged on short term effects, instead of building firm foundations for the future?

According to this ideology, businessmen are to be forgiven for being selfish and greedy, and are expected to be so. So why do we at the same time expect the government to be made of saints? Everybody knows what's wrong with the government, but who is saying, "if I were in the government, I would do A, and B, and C"?

Because not a lot of serious thought goes into answer the question, "what makes a civil servant want to give his best for the country". They are expected to be angels, to be supermen, and also to be paid like beggars. In this current climate, there is very little respect for the work of governments.

Anonymous said...

@7-8 Then again, you have liberal democracy, which says that governments perform best when there is the constant threat of being voted out in the next elections. But is that the best way? Because when people are the ultimate rulers, fiscal discipline goes out the window. When you are in a job where you don't know who your masters will be in the long term, where is the incentive to do your best? How will you decide what's right for your people if you are constantly judged on short term effects, instead of building firm foundations for the future?

In a liberal democracy the allegience of the people os towards the state, not towards the so called masters. The people who run the government are not the state. If you can understand the difference, good for you.

Anonymous said...

Whenever there is a breakdown on the NEL/CCL, I will remember this post about water seepage at the train stations. While the fault along NS/EW lines are due to dislodged claws, and can be easily replaced with a better alternative, I wonder what can be done to prevent water seepage along the entire NEL/CCL. I hope LTA realised the problem and do a better job at water-proofing the Downtown line now.

Jason said...

What you're describing is underground drainage-erosion-water movement. BK Lim (my friend) has written extensively on this and had warned on this problem in the central zone of Spore back as in 1995. Attended one of his talks then.

see his recent updated map.