Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Great Leap Backward

The 2006 Budget though packed with goodies actually revealed that the economic health of Singapore is not as rosy. Singapore has actually taken a great leap backward - from 2006 to 1970s.

The most telling sign is the decision to build 2-room flats for sale. The government had stopped building two- and three-room flats for sale in the 1980s as Singaporeans became well off and wanted to live in bigger flats. But in 2004 many of us lost our jobs and needed to downgrade to smaller flats, the government then started to build 3-room flats for sale. And now some of us can only afford a 2-room flat. Are we not back to the pre-1980s days?

The workfare bonus seems to suggest that the government is unable to create good jobs for the over 40-year-old. By offering bonus to all middle-age persons who worked for at least 6 months in 2005 and 2006, the government seems to be trying to get them to take up whatever job available, whether it is menial, low pay, part-time or without any CPF contribution. This isn't much of a difference from the 1970s where mainly unsecured low-paying jobs were available.

While getting the middle-aged to accept any job maybe good for the employment figure, it will not be beneficial in the long term, especially to the ruling party. This group of people may become disillusioned with the party and withdraw their support for the party.

Friday, February 17, 2006

History of PAP

Thrasymachus of has announced a 4-part series on the history of the ruling party and some key leaders of Singapore.

Part 1 is already out and I find it interesting. Do take a look at it.

Coming Soon: 4-Part Series on the History and Founding of PAP & the Old Guards of Singapore

The past articles of this blog focused mainly on the present and recent history of Singapore Politics, on PM Lee Hsien Loong, Third Generation Ministers and on recent Election issues. But no Singapore Politics would be complete without the history of PAP, its early founding and the tale of 6 men. As such, I will try to attempt on a new direction (more like reverse direction) in bring the past history of Singapore Politics to “blog space”. Thus this will be a 4 Part Series on the Histories and Leaders that would be featured in the coming month. Here are the synopses:

Part 1: History and the Founding of PAP
For those who have visited the PAP website, would know that they have a short concise history of the Party. As in most concise history, the details that they left behind are often the most important and interesting. Stories of their struggles, backstabbing, “politicking” and crisis made what PAP is today. This article will span from 1957 to the day of separation with Malaysia in 1965 and involved the lives of Seven Key Leaders that shaped the present day Singapore Politics. Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, S Rajaratnam, Devan Nair, Lim Chin Siong and Lim Kim San. Aside from Lee Kuan Yew, who is well publicized to say the least, the 6 other leaders will be featured in separate articles.

Part 2: Old Guards and Leaders of Singapore I
True Founders of Singapore: Dr Toh Chin Chye and Dr Goh Keng Swee
Both men were the pioneering members of PAP and Deputy Prime Ministers of Singapore. One is the founding Chairman of the PAP, the other the true architect of Singapore’s success. In the confusion of Singapore’s sudden separation with Malaysia, PM Lee Kuan Yew wept on national television and withdraws to a government bungalow in Changi. But behind the scene was the stabilizing force of Dr Toh Chin Chye made the chaos orderly. Dr Toh also played a crucial role in the development of Science and Technology in industrialization of Singapore. As for Dr Goh Keng Swee, he is widely hailed as the true architect of Singapore’s success with his visionary leadership. He was first Defense Minister and practically transformed the swarm lands of Jurong into an industrial oasis.

Part 3: Old Guards and Leaders of Singapore II
Almost Prime Ministers: Lim Chin Siong and Devan Nair
Both men were said to be Communist and detained for several times for their beliefs. But if history has taken its turn, Lim Chin Siong would have become the Prime Minister of Singapore, or at least this was what Lee Kuan Yew said. Once, Lee Kuan Yew introduced Lim Chin Siong to David Marshall, “Meet the future Prime Minister of Singapore!” David Marshall laughed but LKY said, “Don’t laugh! He’s the finest Chinese orator in Singapore and he will be our next Prime Minister!” History has its own ironies with LKY himself being the PM. Devan, on the other hand, was the lifeline of PAP after the party split. Should he have joined Lim Chin Siong and not created NTUC, the power in office today would not have been the PAP. With the credit of bringing the union over to the PAP, he was later appointed President of Singapore only to unceremoniously resign from office.

Part 4: Old Guards and Leaders of Singapore III
Leaders Home and Abroad: Lim Kim San and S Rajaratnam
The HDB housing is probably one of the very rare cases of public housing gone right in the world. Where every other country failed and Singapore’s public housing succeeded due to one leader, Lim Kim San. Away from home, the Foreign Minister that steered Singapore into the Global map was S Rajaratnam. The investments we attracted, the foreign relations we built, the diplomacy that was forged when Singapore was not even on the world’s map, Rajaratnam made us a “country”. After independence, two main problems plagued Singapore: Housing and Jobs. Lim Kim San assured the housing and Rajaratnam brought in the foreign investors and made diplomacy our only defense when we do not have soldiers.

Disclaimer from singaporegovt.blogspot: The sources of this article can be obtained from Melanie Chew (1996), "Leaders of Singapore" and Lam Peng Er's "Lee's Lieutenants : Singapore Old Guard". Photos are obtained from National Archives Board Public Domain. For the other parts of "History of Singapore and Leaders", please refer to www.singaporegovt.blogspot.