Nothing epochal – only tweaks

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“The most striking thing was how Singaporeans will continue to be dependent on government handouts for even basic things like housing and health care,” I told the Wall Street Journal, which asked me for my views on the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally speech.

“Singaporeans should ponder this: Why do we have to continue stretching out our hands to the government, even though we are supposed to be one of the world’s wealthiest countries, with one of the world’s highest savings rates?”

While some have apparently got carried away and praised and used superlative adjectives to describe the speech – “brilliant”, “landmark”, “epochal” – I can’t help but notice that the rally speech is not unlike the Budget speech. And that in effect, each year, we have two – what I would call – “handouts” speech.

At the Budget, the government announces an entire slew of initiatives, whereby invariably the handouts take the limelight. Increasingly, under PM Lee Hsien Loong, the National Day Rally speech is a second Budget speech of sorts as well – with him announcing handouts too. Continue reading “Nothing epochal – only tweaks”

Misusing the S’pore flag – MDA’s double standards?

This is a report in the Straits Times on 8 August 2013:

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A blogger wrote about it here: “National flag dropped in Wild Rice play“.

This picture below is from a rock concert by the foreign band, The Used, held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore in May 2013: Continue reading “Misusing the S’pore flag – MDA’s double standards?”

Istana used for LKY’s book launch?

“The Istana is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore. ” – Istana website.

On 7 August, the news reported Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s launch of his latest book. It was also reported that the launch was held at the official presidential residence and office – the Istana.

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Mr Lee no longer holds any official government position. His last was as Minister Mentor. He is also no longer in Cabinet. So, the obvious question is:

Why was his launch of a supposedly private and personal book held at the Istana? Continue reading “Istana used for LKY’s book launch?”

A different National Day

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It is 4 days to Singapore’s 48th National Day. Unlike other years, however, this year’s occasion seems to be different. There is a palpable sense of … disinterest among Singaporeans. A walk around the neighbourhood and observations made elsewhere around Singapore show that fewer households have put up the national flag this year. Of course, this does not mean that Singaporeans do not feel anything for the country – but it does raise the question of whether they indeed do.

I recall earlier years when my block of flats, for example, was decked out in flags, and this was not because of any “coercion” by grassroots members. I know friends who personally went out to buy the flag to hang at their balcony. Besides, it was not only about hanging the flag which gave you the buzz that Singaporeans were excited by the nation’s birthday. It was also the chatter, the faces of the people you meet, the general atmosphere of the country.

Recently Singapore was ranked the most pessimistic country in the world. It is no surprise, although one person tried to rubbish the findings by saying that there is a difference between the Eastern and Western idea of happiness. A hilarious suggestion, of course. But I digress.

I myself am not surprised at the lesser sense of excitement about National Day this year. It is quite easy to understand. Life is not happy here. It is hard. And I am not just talking about the poor, the sick or the elderly. Even parents, especially single parents, are feeling the strain. Our PMETs workers, our SMEs. The erosion of our physical havens and heritage. Continue reading “A different National Day”