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Right Beside You February 29, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Sophie B. Hawkins sings it like no other. Happy dancing!

Ego Nego! February 28, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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So, just today Uncle Tharman has stepped forward with a string of rebuttals against our unfortunately beleaguered NMPs and Mr Inderjit Singh. Ego nego (i disagree), he screams, and here’s why i shall say that as well:

“This is plainly wrong,” Mr Shanmugaratnam said yesterday. “It made for very entertaining listening, but it is in fact Inderjit’s analysis that is flawed.”

Well, you can see where Uncle Tharman is coming from here again. Once again, it’s the ‘We’re Right, You’re Not‘ syndrome which Mr. Tan has talked about not so long ago (scroll down or use the link.) Is it plainly wrong for Mr. Inderjit Singh and for everyone in Singapore, or is it plainly wrong for Uncle Tharman and his friends in white? Isn’t what most of us see today that very thing, the endless pursuit of economic growth, which brings along a growing rich-poor-divide?

On top of that, it’s plainly wrong to say that Mr. Singh’s, a MP’s concerns and criticism were entertaining. It’s an attempt to belittle concerns, even if they may not be legitimate, as something which happens in your everyday sitcom. Maybe the Parliamentary debates are sitcoms, because i haven’t been in one, that’s why they are entertaining? I find it personally very entertaining though, how the politicians normally are more concerned about lauding a particular policy (more GST) than looking at it critically.

The minister explained that growth came about not because of the Government pumping in money to stimulate the economy, but due to measures to build up capabilities and infrastructure and to keep taxes competitive.

Well…think about this passage carefully. What Uncle Tharman is saying is ‘Not A, but A.’ Don’t measures taken to build up capabilities and infrastructure and measures taken to ensure tax competitiveness need money? But wait…they may not be pumping the Government’s money.

Rejecting investors in the name of avoiding rapid growth would not make food more affordable or Singaporeans better off today, he said.

Of course rejecting investors will not make food more affordable or Singaporeans better off. Indeed, we need investors. But is that what Mr. Singh is suggesting? He is definitely not suggesting that we reject investors. The way yours truly interprets it, he was asking for temperance in our growth and economic policy – but that’s not what we want, right? Singapore has to stay economically competitive, if not our jealous neighbours in the North and the South just might be able to squeeze us.

But he stressed that this strategy did not mean neglecting the less fortunate, contrary to the “impassioned speech” by Mr Siew, a Nominated Member of Parliament (MP). On Tuesday, Mr Siew had said that the Government, being more concerned about not eroding the work ethic rather than caring for Singaporeans, was providing a minimal level of aid.Mr Shanmugaratnam disagreed.

“His description does not square with the reality of the Government’s interventions to support the lower-income group,” he said, citing housing subsidies, Central Provident Fund top-ups, Medifund, ComCare schemes and the Workfare Income Supplement, recently introduced to cover the bottom 30 per cent of the population.

Uncle Tharman likes to talk about ‘realities’ – after all, we are in the real world, right? And here, pragmatism always trumps idealism. What is ‘minimal aid’? I think Mr. Siew also means the unemployed as well? But There Are No Handouts In Singapore, as Uncle Tharman notes – the realities of Governmental intervention includes ‘housing subsidies’ (which however still put you in a 30-year HDB loan, thus keeping you working), CPF top-ups, (also assuming that you have a job and thus some money in your bank, so work), blah, blah, WORKFARE (it’s so obvious here) so look – the government wants you to work, and they don’t give a rat’s ass if you happen to be sadly unemployed.

But the basic philosophy of encouraging people to work, he stressed, cannot be shaken — which is why he said Mr Siew’s “exhortation that we should ignore waste, ignore dead-weight loss, ignore disincentives to work, is reckless”.To help the poor, said Mr Shanmugaratnam, it is first necessary to expand the economy, create wealth and provide the incentive for Singaporeans to work. “If our policies harm that, for the noblest of reasons, we will be in serious trouble, as many other countries have found,” he added.

What Mr Siew asked was if it was possible to give incentives to work instead of disincentives not to. Everything in Singapore is a game of pointing fingers, you’re at fault, so just own up, or if you think you can change something, then Lao Lee will formally invite you to take part at the elections. Mr Siew’s request was far from reckless – i quote from his Budget speech:

53. Sir, sometimes, it can be worth having some wastage or inefficiency, or “deadweight funding”, if the net benefit to Singaporeans outweighs such wastage or inefficiency or deadweight. And by benefit, I mean benefit in a holistic sense, both tangible and intangible, and not just economic or financial benefit.

Linguistically seeing, and yes even from there, he put a conditional clause to his request – if. That means that if Singaporeans don’t benefit, then of course they can revert back to the current state of affairs. You can also see where Mr Siew is coming from. He wants to see more worth in us as people and not just as statistics, or means to an end. People are ends in themselves, as well.

So what does the government think about us? The only way we can benefit is by benefiting the whole. We don’t have any rights to speak of, and we’re not human – we’re machines who are expected to work and work and earn money for the country, because there’s no way in Hell that we’re going to benefit in any way if we don’t. Do you see the two worlds now?

What Uncle Tharman has said is something which purely belongs to pragmatism – everything is real-world based, with no space for ideals or morals. It would make a nice apology for pragmatism in the Singaporean context yet. And what of Mr Siew? There is yet a spark of idealism – this is the idealism we need if Singaporeans are to be creative, something which our politicians have been bitching about time and time again and which they have tried to implement…by using Singapore’s rote learning system.

I’ve always found it highly amusing when ‘creative thinking’ is taught in schools – that is already an oxymoron in itself. Teaching creative thinking (and then making sure it is examined at the end) kills it. But so is Singapore sometimes.

Anyway, let me finish. This is the idealism which the next generation needs – this is the idealism, naturally tempered by pragmatism (which you will find no lack of in the older generation) which can take Singapore into the future and make ourselves a First-World country (i wonder where we are now, really).

So, to pure pragmatism and what Uncle Tharman says, dico: ego nego!

Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes February 27, 2008

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If you hear the air attack warning, you and your family must take cover…

Hall & Oates… February 27, 2008

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Ahh, don’t you love the 80’s?  Big frizzy hair, disco tunes…

Propaganda? February 24, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Alright folks, first, read this.  Then, read this.  What’s the difference?

I think the States Times are slowly becoming the moniker we’ve given them since eternity, namely, The States’ Times.  So today was the last day of the Aerospace show 2008.  And today a particular MediaCorp artiste, with our favourite President graced the event!  And even though the people ‘braved sweltering heat, snaking queues and slow traffic to be part of the inaugural show,’ upon seeing the Black Knights, ‘the earlier inconveniences had been forgotten.’

As my younger brother likes to say: O, really??

I wonder where the judgement criteria come from, judging that the Aerospace Show garnered so much displeasure from the online community.  But then again, we’re not even considered press, so what the hell.  Incidentally, the statistics put forward do try to convince us that the event was a great success – ‘$18.9 billion worth of deals sewn up,’ i read, and also>

More than 30,000 trade visitors and over 90,000 aviation buffs passed through the turnstiles, said the show’s organisers, Singapore Airshow and Events.

Wow. Okay, the poor masses.  Oh well, least they noted that there were some problems.  But don’t the quotations above seem like an attempt to cover up something which was mishandled? Oh well, maybe i’ll tell the folks next time to wrap their fish with the Straits Times – it’s fishy enough anyway.