I almost want to tear my hair out. In the past weeks, as the Presidential election approaches nearer, we have been hearing how the potential candidates are all pledging to be “the voice of the people”. They also vow to “speak up for the people” and to let the government know what the people’s views are.
In brief, they want to provide feedback to the government.
In other words, the office of the president is nothing more than a feedback channel.
On the surface, this sounds all good, even as you suspect there might be a tint of good ole politicking behind some of the words. But on closer inspection, you realize that there is a fundamental flaw and a serious misunderstanding of what the presidency is all about.
The office of the elected president – the highest office in the land – is not a feedback channel.
If it were, it would be a redundant office – and a completely wasteful one too, since we are paying millions to the one who holds the office.
We already have many channels for feedback. Lets count the ones that come to mind. Read More…
Walking around the heartlands now, you can’t help but feel one thing – they all look and feel the same. There is this monotonous drabness about them. The same designed HDB flats, the same playgrounds, the same shops, the same estate centres, the same shopping malls with the same kinds of shops selling the same kinds of stuff. You have the same food outlets, the same foodcourts, the same restaurants. The only places which are different and unique with their own ambience would be places like Little India, Chinatown and perhaps the eastern part of Singapore.
Everywhere else, they are all the same.
Sameness is the one thing which kills creativity and inspiration – the two things we desperately need in this city which rushes head-on, sometimes blindly, into materialism and mediocrity. Whoever plans our towns seems to use the same blueprint for each one. As a result, at times I mistake a location for another because they are so similar.
I would have thought that having elected our Members of Parliament, they would have different ideas and plans for the towns they are in charge of. But the bottomline consideration of “economies of scale” have resulted in the towns run by the same party all end up looking just like the other. It is cheaper to just replicate one plan for all the estates, I guess. It is also a lazy way of doing things. Read More…
Read this post by Alex Au on the controversial (to some, at least) remarks by Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Maj Gen Chan Chun Sing. Also mentioned by Alex in his article is this blog posting by Rachel Zeng who, incidentally, is a good friend of mine.
It all started on 3 July, or more accurately, from a Straits Times report by Rachel Chang on 3 July. Here’re the minister’s remarks – made at a Young PAP forum – in the ST report which generated much consternation among netizens:
“Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing, the youngest member of the Cabinet, yesterday urged young people to ask themselves whether their ideas can move the country forward, rather than just ‘throw stones, cast doubts and tear down institutions’.
Later, the report quoted Maj Gen Chan as having said, in reference to online postings:
“Go and reclaim the space for reasoned discussion then. No point complaining that it’s dominated by the lunatic fringe and we leave it as such. If you have a point of view, go forth and do something.”
As you can see, the remarks above unsurprisingly have got some netizens up in arms. And I don’t blame them, really. Describing those who express themselves in cyberspace as the “lunatic fringe” is, to be honest, entirely inaccurate, and worse, demonstrates a certain ignorance of who indeed inhabit online space. Read More…
Should one respect – and show it – to ministers? I asked myself this question today on my way home in the train. The question came about because of what I had been reading on the Internet lately. In particular, articles, letters to ministers and certain postings made on the wall of the ministers’ and MPs’ Facebook pages. I think some of them would be considered disrespectful.
Of course, respect have to be earned. I agree with this fully. But isn’t there also a certain respect to be shown to the office of a public servant? The Prime Minister, for example. Or the President. Or a minister. To be honest, I am quite concerned that some seem to take the position that since some of these ministers and MPs are new, and thus have not earned the public’s respect through their performance, that this means there is no need to be respectful towards them.
The misconception perhaps has to do with confusing the person with the office. One may not agree with or even respect Lee Hsien Loong as a person but surely one must give or accord due respect to his position as Prime Minister. No? And if one does, then one should do so in the manner in which one engages him, in speech or behaviour.
My latest article for Yahoo Singapore which you can read in full here.
Now that President SR Nathan has confirmed he will not be seeking a third term in office, the presidential race looks like it will be fought between three former People’s Action Party (PAP) members. The presidential hopefuls are:Dr Tan Cheng Bock, former PAP Member of Parliament (MP); Dr Tony Tan, former Deputy Prime Minister; and Mr Tan Kin Lian, former chief executive officer of NTUC Income.
All three have been quick to pledge independence from their former party, when they announced their intentions to seek the office of the Elected President. Dr Tony Tan, especially, having been a minister who held several portfolios including that of Deputy Prime Minister and several years more as deputy chairman and executive director of the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore (GIC), will have to show how his previous positions will not be a factor in exercising independent thought and decisions if he were president.