Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is PM Lee Hsien Loong an agent of change?

Hi Friends,
The following letter has been sent to the Forum Page .
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan
NB: Published in the Straits Times Forum Page here.

The letter:
Dear Editor,

Re: PM Lee: Agent of change?

May 2011 will be remembered not only for the breakthrough of the Workers’ Party in GE 2011 but ( I think more significantly) also for the actions of PM Lee Hsien Loong.

History is replete with examples of world leaders who embarked on what is known as “retreat from power” where they made key decisions which forever altered the direction of their nations’ histories. These included Taiwan President Chiang Ching Kuo who in 1987 allowed multi-party politics or Presidents Nelson Mandela and F W de Klerk who together negotiated for an end to apartheid and thereby helped to heal a deeply divided South Africa in the early 90’s. ( see my post on this here)

PM Lee surprised many by making very public apologies for his government’s shortcomings. Many were understandably sceptical about his sincerity as these were made during the campaign period.  However, surprises came thick and fast afterwards as he presided over the departures of MM Lee Kuan Yew and SM Goh Chok Tong from the cabinet and he then made sweeping “seismic” changes in his cabinet where ministers associated with hot-button issues were “retired”.

The latest “welcomed” surprise is the news that the controversial high ministers’ salaries would be reviewed. We now also expect significant changes to the GRC system.

Is PM Lee a true agent of change or has he acted out of necessity with an eye on GE 2016 ( as skeptics are bound to say)?. Looking back on our short electoral history, when the opposition won a then unprecedented 4 seats in 1991, the previous PM blamed this loss to his being too “soft” and his “consultative” style and responded by implementing what many consider as an unconscionable policy where opposition wards were placed last in the estate upgrading queue and GRC size was upsized from three to four (and later to six). Large GRC’s  were thought to be advantageous to the PAP.

Hence PM Lee could have responded as in the past and introduced draconian measures to solidify his grip of power. However, he chose to listen to the ground (and his heart) and for that we should give him credit.

In my eyes, he has earned much goodwill and many will be willing to give him a chance to see if these changes work and whether they go far enough.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan


Anonymous said...

So long as Singaporeans remain naively hopeful that they will be having better live(life) becos the leaders have just said they will be suddenly becoming 'kind and caring' en mass, they will be as gullible and daft as ever.
The Regime have taken decades to entrench themselves with the tight grip of power. Had it found itself negligent and complacent, it would not have let go and set free those responsible for devising policies that had upset the people.
Those not very old but rode into Parliament by the coattails of others and became Cabinet Members long ago SHOULD AND MUST BE RETAINED to make amend.
To be retired with generous remunerations in the past and pensions till they die is to free them from any dereliction of duty and responsibility.
The situation in Sin just before the Election bore some similarities with situations prevailing in the many countries such as Thailand, some North African and Middle East Nations that were/are facing internal strifes and conflicts.
Though it was not as dire as the afore-mentioned countries, the sentiment was building up fast and furious. Any Regime facing such sentiment would have to back down like it or not.
Simply put, change without amend is meaningless and if those responsible for the consequences are not made accountable and responsible, what use is change?

Anonymous said...

I'm still holding my judgement on this one.

To be fair, was it only Mah Bow Tan, Raymond Lim etc that screwed up? No .. they are just following their superior's directions - growth at all cost, GDP, asset enhancement good everything else bad, no slippery slope to socialism etc. He would have gained greater respect from me, if he were to say that as PM, he also bears responsibility for these mistakes. Not just say MBT, Raymond Lim etc "offered" to resign.

The bigger problem I have is this - when the Emperor has no clothes again in the future, how will the Emperor know? For the last upteen years, they rely only on 1-in-5 years elections. During the intervening period, despite having 99% PAP MPs in Parliament, no one tells the Emperor he has no clothes. Only on last Saturday did the Straits Times quoted "experts" as tracing the MRT transport problem to be originate in Yeo Cheow Tong's time. You mean between then and last Saturday, no MPs, no ST journalist, no govt officials know? This to me is and remain the bigger problem. And apart from "have a viable opposition", I know of no answer.

Shiok Lee said...

These reforms are genuine but are also designed to keep the ruling party in power. This is not glasnost but an attempt to keep themselves in power.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, PM Lee is making the changes not because he cares for Spore and its people but to ensure his PAP is still dominant in 2016.

It is shere folly to trust those who have no qualms cheating and lying as well as helping themselves to tax-payers' money.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to share on the woodlands body in tank fiasco and what it says about the system here:

I live in another pap controlled GRC and for years, I have been telling the town council staff that I often see all sorts of "workers" going up to the roof top at all times of the day and even at night, I can hear the sound of footsteps on top. It was realy worrying, so I called the TC. I suggested that only the TC should have the keys to the rooftop and not the contractors who then duplicate keys for the subcontractors, so you end up with all sorts of people having access to the rooftop. but the reply was typical pap standard :"this is the way things are done".
This is how a typical pap TC works - they don't listen to good advice. Now, this body in the tank is a wakeup call, an incident waiting to happen.
If the TC had acted responsibly and professionally with the resdients' welfare & safety in mind, the woodlands sham wouldn't have happened.
For the people of the woodlands block, my sympathies go to you. I have tried my best to warn the TCs about this issue but it all fell on deaf ears. At least I did my part.

The Pariah said...

Will the citizens of Singa-Pura replace a Leopard of Stealth with a Lion of Courage?

In Part 1, I correlated to Healthcare as NoFearSingapore blogger is a medical doctor.

In Part 2: I can equally correlate to Property Market:

(a) EXPLOIT THE WEAK: Force Minority Dissenting Condo Owners to sell family home based on 80% neighbours' consent.

(b) FAVOUR THE STRONG: Allow flippers to buy condo today and be en bloc Sale Committee member tomorrow to drive the en bloc momentum.

(c) PUT PARTY OVER COUNTRY: Higher land-use intensity and churning property redevelopment spurs GDP Growth linked to ministerial bonuses with (i) Rich Foreigners (be it investment funds or absentee owners with deep pockets to leave units untenanted whilst waiting for capital gains) DISPLACING Extant Singaporean Families from prime residential areas.

PM Lee in his GE Rally "apology" even fudged facts by stating that the PAP did not expect property market to ramp up from 2009.

Look at both URA and HDB Property Price Indices - the ramp-up was from Jan 2007! In fact, the very first property cooling measure by URA was in Oct 2007 when Deferred Payment Scheme was withdrawn.

So, my good doctor, much as I too would like to give PM Lee the benefit of the doubt, my intelligence refuses to be insulted!

Anonymous said...

Dear Good Doctor Huang;

months have passed and what have we got to witness?
COE at record high.
Property prices at record high and more are being built while our local population is not growing much or has stagnated. So, why the need to build more housing, especially the high-end category???

I have noticed that some Singaporeans are easily swayed and bought into sweet but dangerous talks by many a smooth talker. Whilst the ears maybe blind, the eyes should tell no lies. However, it is best that both faculties should function co-ordinately.

Each time a false hope is given or wrongly perceived, it distorts accuracy in perception and comprehension. Sweet talkers invariably have some agenda or reason to buy the hearts and believe of the masses. BUT, the agenda are likely mere excuses if their past track records have been vicious and devious.

Anonymous said...

if for me hard to change, once i earn enough, billions already i just pack and leave singapore, no need to bother.

Anonymous said...

where got change?? gst promise no increase but sbs and smrt asking for fare increase right after election. why not they ask for price increase before election?? they give reason one of them is they buy a lot of new buses. who ask them to buy a lot of new buses??? is it old buses spolit already or not enough?? i wish ptc to reject them totally then this is real change.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, changes were made fast, very soon after the general election. But, they were changes from bad to worse. And there seems more ominous clouds hovering over us.
Singaporeans better pray hard that Sin is at it's worst and will not get any 'worster' henceforth.