Nancy Pelosi – America’s highest ranking useful idiot



Political naïveté and strategic stupidity.

What does Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan tells us? America is getting dumber and dumber by the day.

Her theatrics – visiting Taiwan despite warning by the Biden Administration and Pentagon – only serves one purpose. In fell swoop, her stubborn decision has further divided and fragmented America – even NYT told her not to be silly – and further united the Chinese people and strengthened their resolve to stand up to America. Talk about strategic stupidity, strengthening and uniting your enemy while at the same time weakening your own country.

This has been the perennial problem with America. They keep doing stupid things to hurt themselves – all in name of human rights, political self-righteousness, media freedom. In the last 10 years, the adversarial politics egged on by the free media has divided the country so bad that they become an easy target for foreign enemies to play the animosity against themselves. Worse, in this case, it is their own Democratic Party Speaker of House defying her own party chief to make an unnecessary visit that achieves nothing for America strategically and only wins more fans to the Chinese Communist Party. That sheer stupidity is incredulous. As the Chinese leadership loves to trot out this convenient line from time to time – you have upsetted 1.4 billion Chinese people.

The Russians and the Chinese probably can’t believe their luck, as America keeps presenting them opportunities to split the Americans. The two friendly rivals now don’t have to lift their fingers much to see USA fighting themselves down the drain. This is the most evident during the US presidential and other legislative elections where Russian operatives just need to feed fake news , packaging talking points to the online community that opens up in-fighting between the Democrats and Republicans. They must be thinking these poor suckers are out of kill each other – why not just give them a little nudge to get them going at each other. Fake news created by Russians are known to have started an almost all-out street battle between the two parties at one such election.

America’s dysfunctional political system and the adversarial media – led by new breed of political leaders who are inclined to go for superficial political theatrics , has become a breeding ground for foreign actors to create hostility among themselves. And they keep falling for it. Every time. Such easy meat. The Chinese has a saying – borrowing knife to kill another person. America keeps providing that proverbial knife to their enemies for free. The more democratic you are, the dumber you become. They keep doing stupid things to sabotage themselves and benefiting their strategic enemies. Pelosi thinks she is standing up for human rights. But what she did is sending a former strategic ally further back into the arms of the Russian bear. It took America a long time – with the strategic vision of Nixon and Kissinger – to win China over. Last two administrations have essentially set back America into the Cold War years in the 50s, 60s.

One can understand if it is some unthinking insular first term congressman who is willing to be the useful idiot. But Nany Pelosi – second in line for the President’s job after the Vice President showing a complete lack of geopolitical understanding and behaving recklessly to create instability in the region.

The trouble with naive people like Pelosi is that they think the Communist Party is just this brutal regime with no legitimacy with the Chinese people. Nothing can be further from the truth. Independent surveys have shown the level of satisfaction among the Chinese people over their Government performance far far exceeded that of America’s. The nationalism that emerged with their renewed economic vibrancy, effectively propagated by the leadership, is real. Chinese people still think they have been bullied by the Westerners for the last 180 years or so. Any move to insult China’s sovereignty and split Taiwan from her will elicit fierce genuine response from most Chinese, not just the Communist Party leadership.

Pelosi needs to know she is so out of touch with the Chinese psyche and go for some basic history lessons. Otherwise, she is just the useful idiot that the Communist Party needs to extend their legitimacy with their people.

Shanmugam takes down BBC’s Sackur

Shanmugam takes down BBC’s Sackur

When dyfunctional Westerners shamelessly try to teach successful societies

In 1997, at the age of 74, a still robust Lee Kuan Yew appeared on BBC Hard Talk to face off with previous hard-hitting host Tim Sebastian. In the heat of the exchange with Sebastian on Singapore’s drug laws, the Singapore leader decided to turn the table on the veteran TV interviewer.

Sebastian had just rudely asked if Mr Lee was a ruthless man over his 31 year’s rule as Prime Minister of Singapore. Notably, he addressed the revered former PM as “Lee Kuan Yew’’ without any honorifics. Not even a “Mr’’.

“If I were a ruthless man, I would get you into a corner and say, now let me ask some questions,” Mr Lee started.

“Why do you start with the assumption that your interviewee is always dumb. And you are smarter than him. Why do you assume Asians are somehow unable to understand the Western way of life and that they would be so much better if they would become more like the West. “

Western interviewers like Sebastian that is, Mr Lee stressed.

25 years later, things haven’t changed much. That is, both the BBC Hardtalk and this Western know-it-all arrogance. If anything, the last 25 years have shown up the Western system of democracy, governance and irresponsible free media to have broken down. Led none other than the USA and UK with the media cheering on. And worse, the journalists and the BBC appeared to be completely oblivious to it.

The latest Singapore leader to offer himself to this sadistic beating is none other than our fearsome Law Minister K Shanmugam. Watching the exchange, I must say I felt a sense of pride from the way our Law Minister coolly handled Sebastian’s replacement Stephen Sackur who is also just as notorious with his self-righteous know-it-all interruptions. I think it is fair to say Shanmugam gave it as good as he took and Sackur didn’t get a clean punch in. I can only conclude either Sackur wasn’t well prepared for one of Asia’s top litigators or he has subconsciously conceded that it is no longer possible to defend this Western double standard on human rights and freedom.

Sample a few of the exchanges. Sackur accused Singapore of brutally hanging a drug trafficker Nagaenthran who was said to have an IQ of 69. Clearly misled by the irresponsible anti-death penalty activists, Sackur wrongly parroted unscientific allegations made by the condemned man’s lawyer M Ravi and others in the global media that the man was “intellectually disabled’’. Shanmugam responded swiftly that the accused‘s own psychiatrist had confirmed the man was not intellectually disabled. The court found Nagaenthran knew what he was doing and expertly carried out his trafficking.

In the Law Minister’s words, Nagaenthran was able to make deliberate, purposeful, calibrated, calculated decision to make money, to bring the drugs in. For good effect, Shanmugam also raised the similar examples of two executions in the USA to which Mr Sackur had no response other than saying we shouldn’t be comparing with the USA. But but but, isn’t USA the Gold Standard of governance and freedom? So the question remains why did they single out Singapore and not the USA. Why did BCC spend so many reports and programming in the last couple of months on one man hanged in Singapore and not the millions who have died of drug abuse?

The fact is one can have an IQ of 69 and still able to differentiate between what is a crime and what is not. He may not be able to do complex mathematics calculations, but he was able to plan, execute and evade arrest and even changed his alibi to try to escape conviction. A hard-core criminal.

And then, Sackur raised the boiler plate foreign correspondent’s question. Oh, the Reporters without Borders has  questioned Singapore’s introduction of the foreign interference bill, suggesting it suppresses media freedom. Shanmugam was quick to point out the media freedom index released by the same NGO which had incredulously ranked Singapore at 160 out of 180, below Gambia, Guinea, Afghanistan, Philippines, South Sudan, Myanmar. “Take a young female BBC journalist – do you think she will feel safer or freer to report from any of these countries compared to Singapore? I dismiss Reporters Without Borders. Completely nonsensical.’ Sackur had no response. Because he knows too well how flawed the media freedom survey is where each country is asked to give themselves marks and then later ranked accordingly with others without having a proper common benchmark. If North Korea give 100 marks to themselves, they would be ranked highly.

Sackur was not done. Now he accused Singapore of siding the USA for voting against Russia in her invasion of Ukraine. In short, Singapore is taking sides in its geopolitical policy – presumably against China in the latest Cold War standoff between the two superpowers. Shanmugam was quick to retort we voted against the USA when Reagan invaded Grenada in the 80s. Oops again, as Sackur had no answer. Many may have also forgotten Singapore stood up against USA when the question of Cambodia seat in UN was debated in the early 1980s. Singapore also voted against the USA and Israelis repeatedly on the Palestinian issue. Singapore’s foreign policy is based on values such as sovereignty and law and order and not which sides to choose, Mr Shanmugam schooled Sackur. 

At the end of the day, such interviews are only produced for their entertainment value and not to be taken seriously. Sackur’s mode of operation is to cite one quote or survey and throw it at their interviewees and try make them look small. They want Asian governments to continue to look up to the West’s Gold Standard of democracy and media freedom but completely ignoring how dysfunctional they have become. Shanmugam was able to cite how Singapore has now become the top country in the world in terms of healthcare, law and order and economic progress.

Interviewers such as Sackur would rather choose to ignore how the corrupt Western system of democracy and governance is failing. Mind you, their systems have thrown up immoral leaders such as Donald Trump, a pathological liar who was ironically elected even though he had fewer popular votes than his opponents . And Boris Johnson, an ex-journalist who once fabricated news stories in a mainstream paper. America is a country where rioters with automatic weapons can freely invade their Congress and kill security officers there and primary school students are being murdered every other week by mass murderers who are allowed to carry guns, thanks to the outdated Second Amendment which no Administration or Congress had been able to take down.

And on democracy, USA and UK are the two of the five countries which continued to have veto powers at United Nations Security Council and sponsored the invasion of Iraq without a proper vote and subsequently hanged their leader. USA and UK effectively melted out death sentence on thousands of innocent Iraqis with an unjust war.  And speaking of death sentence, do not forget, America went into Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden and his family members without a trial or any vote from UN or any court order. When it suits them, democracy, rule of law and the vote do not matter.

Shanmugam won the bout hands down.

Pritam Singh VS Workers Party

Pritam Singh VS Workers Party

What started off as a Pritam versus Raeesah Khan has morphed into Pritam versus WP as Sylvia Lim drives one in. Are his days as the Leader of the Opposition numbered?

Ok, I haven’t been writing for a while since my last two pieces on Pritam Singh versus Raeesah Khan saga. It seems I can’t tahan staying away from this shocking state of affairs for too long.

But what appears to have been missed by many is the seismic shift within the Workers Party itself as their leadership and cadres struggled with what to do not just with Raeesah Khan, the lady in the centre of the storm, but Pritam Singh himself.

To be fair, Pritam has done a decent job since emerging as the Leader of the Opposition in 2020. He has certainly come of age with his robust running battles with the giant PAP machinery. But now I fear for him.

If he doesn’t turn back to look fast enough, the knives would be out behind him. The signs are all there. Some of his leaders and members had been subtle. Others had not been so subtle what they think of him and where they want the COP to lead their failed leader to.

First, back to the facts. Today, I finally get to scan the COP report and newspaper reports to trace the sequence of events.

I won’t go into the full details of the saga but here’s the gist of how I understand it.

Raeesah lied about the Police in Parliament and came clean privately with Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal. They shockingly told her to take the lie to the grave. Pritam told her he won’t judge her if she continued with her lie. In Parliament, Raeesah admitted she lied twice. And then at the COP, she and her WP loyalists Loh Pei Yin and Yudhishtra Nathan spilled the beans on Pritam and the rest. When things went wrong, Pritam threw all three under the bus, calling them liars. Worse, he called the poor young girl mentally unsound and suggested COP gets her a doctor.

Now the two young WP activists were not the only who dared to speak up openly against the leadership. (Sadly, the two young activists were the only two who came across as truthful.)

Ahead of the COP, two other former WP leaders had also come in to criticize WP party leadership, namely Pritam himself. Disgraced MP Yaw Shin Leong found it necessary to come out of his recluse to dispute Pritam for his comments at the WP press conference. “I am ok with this narrative (for breaking faith, trust and expectations of the party and people) but I am not ok with what Pritam said.’’ Yet another lie caught by his own ex-colleague? Apparently, no love lost between the two.

Daniel Goh then publicly questioned WP party leaders over their handling of Raeesah case. In a FB post, the former NCMP warned the Disciplinary Panel not to throw her under the bus. He said the party leadership should take some responsibility. A defiant Pritam hit back, saying cadre members do not usually operate in that way.

This week, following the release of the COP report, retired WP MP Png Eng Huat, who held Hougang for a decade, put up a cryptic cartoon which many took it as a direct dig at the party leadership for their poor handling of the Raeesah saga.

But none of these open critiques could match the action of their own party chairman Sylvia Lim.

During the COP as we are to find out in the report, Sylvia Lim sudden volunteered her written note at the WP’s Disciplinary Panel, which directly contradicted Pritam’s testimony that he never gave Raeesah a choice to lie. In her “smoking gun” note which was missed by all the COP panelists who had to be personally guided by Sylvia to it, she had written that Pritam had told Raeesah “It is your call’’ whether to tell the truth.

That pretty much seals it for all of us Pritam’s role after all his bravado during the proceedings. What must they be now thinking of each other? More important, what was Sylvia trying to do by volunteering the handwritten note?

By now Pritam must be a pretty isolated man. Remember Pritam was handpicked by Low Thia Khiang who had fought off a strong party challenge from the more scholarly Chen Show Mao. Clearly, close to half of WP activists are not on their side. For these supporters, the time may have come for them to stage their coup and remove their leader. And we should not underplay Low’s latest comment about “there are plenty of talent’’ in the party.

Perhaps what is more tragic is that this whole saga had started with the debate on the Motion on Gender Equality. Raeesah, seen by many as the champion of the woke community, had joined in the debate following PAP’s paper on Women’s Development. She had surprised her own party leadership by straying into the issue of female genital cutting and polygamy, drawing rebuke from some in the Muslim community.

But what we had not expected and certainly not Raeesah herself is, while she represents Workers Party in championing for minority and women’s rights, the leadership led by Pritam was mean and brutal in ending her political career even after guiding the rookie MP to continue to lie publicly. How Pritam treated Raeesah – an Opposition member who is young, female and minority herself, is ironically instructive on how we should see the party leadership on issues concerning the underdogs.

On the broader front, we have to ask ourselves if this is the brand of leaders and parliamentary politics that we want in Singapore. The unique Singapore brand has been one about honesty, integrity and willingness to admit fault and learn. We certainly didn’t get here by emulating the Western parliamentary shenanigans.

PRITAM SINGH: BOSS FROM HELL

PRITAM SINGH: BOSS FROM HELL

When I was a lowly houseman, I remember once botching up a particular procedure. I got one hell of a scolding from my boss. But when it came time to face the patient, he stood next to me and took all the flak. Now that we are all older and wiser (maybe not!), he is a good friend of mine, but I have always respected him as a good mentor because he protected me when I was young and stupid. He acted like a leader.

I’m afraid I cannot say the same about our so-called Leader of the Opposition, Mr Pritam Singh. I am really shaken by what I heard from him in his arrogant, belligerent performance at the COP hearings.

At all times, he maintained that he left it to Raeesah to decide what to do. He refused to communicate with her for 2 months about her lie, and when she sent him a desperate plea for help during Parliament, he ignored her message completely, and disowned any culpability in letting the lie continue. In her own submission, she said the leadership told her to take the lie to her grave.

And, for good measure, he also called two young WP members liars. These were people who had worked and supported him, one of whom had been volunteering for over 10 years.

I have seen them in action. They look sincere and credible. The sort of self sacrificial leaders Singapore needs. But what did Pritam do? Throw all three under the bus.

But that’s not the worst. At least Raeesah is now showing remorse. Pritam is not only NOT owning up. He is displaying arrogance of the worst sort and tries to lawyer his way out of all lies by giving antagonistic answers aimed at distracting and confusing the public – away from the truth.

At all times, all that I heard from Pritam’s mouth, was the words of a “man” who shirked his responsibility to lead and guide younger politicians under his charge, who blamed others and threw them under the bus to preserve his own position, and who let his juniors take the flak for his own failings.

This is the worst kind of boss to have. Imagine if your boss gives you vague and contradictory orders, and then throws you to the dogs when things go bad. How could any Workers Party member have any respect for Pritam Singh now?

He is not fit to lead the WP. He is not fit for Parliament, much less be in a position to assume the role of Prime Minister.

Many people are lauding him based on a few, selected video clips. But behind the arrogance and belligerence, all I see is a scared, insecure man who is willing to sacrifice the people he was supposed to protect, to save his own hide. How we all miss Low Thia Khiang.

WHEN THE WORKERS PARTY EATS THEIR YOUNG

WHEN THE WORKERS PARTY EATS THEIR YOUNG

What a week for politics in Singapore! I was having a slow day in the clinic so I had time to watch the Workers Party’s Press Conference.

Apparently, according to the media, the press conference was quite hastily convened, and they didn’t let many outlets in, only those who were friendly to them.

Anyway, I was confused because I thought they would have waited for the COP to finish their findings before holding a press conference. Apparently, so were the COP, because they were actually still interviewing Raeesah at that very moment.

Turns out the WP wanted to get their story out before Raeesah, to the extent that they didn’t let her join in the press conference, didn’t let her speak or even release a statement through the party.

And, of course, now we know why. Raeesah was about to drop a massive revelation. The leaders knew about the lie much earlier and even coached her to continue “the narrative”. In her own words, Pritam Singh and the WP leadership have told her to take the lie to her grave? That’s what she said, and now the WP are eating their young.

It is really shocking to a neutral observer to see all of WP’s shadow supporters coming out to attack the credibility, not just of RK, but also of two long serving, cadre members, Loh Peh Yin and Yudhisthra Nathan.

The Facebook account Wake Up Singapore usually attacks the government. Instead, the shadowy people behind the account have been launching a vicious, non-stop barrage of attacks on Raeesah Khan and these young people, calling them all sorts of names, and character assasssinating them. This is the account that, barely a week ago, were lauding Raeesah for her accountability, and calling us all to move on.

At least some people are sticking to the old playbook. Sudhir Vandeketh is blaming the govt as usual. Even if it’s your fault, blame the govt. He says the COP didn’t give WP a chance to respond. But WP held a press conference, they did respond, by trying to get their side of the story out before the official report from the COP. And how pathetic is Yee Jenn Jong who tried to reintroduce AIM into the discourse to distract the public from his party’s biggest crisis since Low Thia Khiang left.

And anyway, it’s been 3 days since the bombshell revelations. An eternity if you have watched political crises long enough. Why haven’t Pritam, Sylvia, Manap, etc come out and respond? They’ve all been awfully quiet, hunkered down and not speaking to any media at all.

Instead, they’ve been pushing their so-called “independents” out to muddy the waters on their behalf. Remy Choo, who works in the same law firm as Sylvia Lim, put out a rather slipshod “analysis” that accused Raeesah of “shifting stories”, which in turn tries to discredit the testimony of the two WP activists Loh Peh Ying and Yudhisthra Nathan.

I thought these two young people comported themselves very well, and truthfully, in front of a committee of privileges that was also kind, supportive, and seems dedicated to getting to the truth of the matter, rather than playing politics.

But these young people have been thrown to the WP’s online dogs, and in a vicious, bloodthirsty manner too.

It is quite disgusting to see, and an example of political violence that one would previously have not expected from the Workers Party, especially towards these rank and file people who have devoted much of their youth to the tedious day-to-day work that keeps a political party going.

Ironically these are the good, decent people they should nurture for future leadership and governance.

Useful idiots and crybabies

Useful idiots and crybabies

Despite all their repeated warnings of the chilling effects of laws like ISA, POFMA and now FICA, none of these useful idiots appeared to be deterred at all at attacking ruthlessly at the leadership. If anything, they have become more vicious and personal.

I have not been blogging. No prize for guessing what I have been up to. Covid and all the overwhelming amount of workload at the medical centre.  So, what can there be that will drag me back to writing despite all these work commitments?

Yes, the usual useful idiots and crybabies.

I am talking about the usual suspects Kirsten Han, Cherian George, Alfian Saat, PJ Thum, Terry Xu. In what appears to be a well-coordinated attack on the Government’s plan to pass the Foreign Interference (Counter Measures) Act, this bunch which appears to be suffering from chronic catastrophic thinking, are essentially declaring the end of Singapore as functioning, thinking nation.

And if you believe them, the Law Minister will be taking over the country as this all powerful dictator arresting and jailing every academic and commentator he dislikes. To be honest, it is becoming hilarious, if not, comical, seeing them trotting out their same old arguments every time they disagree with the Government.

And in yet another piece last week, these bozos, including Hong Kong based Cherian George and other activists and academicians, argue that the latest law’s overreach will undermine internationalization and deepen self-censorship and bring down our academia from our high global standing. They warned: “Universities are among the most globalized of sectors in advanced industrial economies. Internationalization played a major role in the impressive progress that Singapore’s universities have made over the decades and remains a prerequisite for realizing further aspiration. Most academics on research track have multiple active ties in any given year…Internationalization is one of the criteria considered in university rankings and helps account for our universities’ stratospheric positions in international league table.’’ Presumably, FICA will end all that.

George and company must be foaming in their mouths with FICA. We all know they just can’t resist attacking Singapore with every means at every opportunity they have to bring down our beloved nation in the eyes of our global friends. Ironically, it is exactly this kind of alarmist idiotic pieces that will bring down our “stratospheric positions in international league table’’.

George and company obviously never thought through how our universities got to where we are today. If we have been running our country so badly and the government being such an awful dictatorship breathing down on our academia all the time, how the hell did our universities end up with such stratospheric global rankings? In fact, these bunch of useful idiots for our foreign foes are fast becoming a broken clock. George and the likes of Kirsten Han and PJ Thum appear to have suffered from memory loss too.

They said the same thing about Pofma when it was debated more than three years ago, declaring the end of the world for civilized Singapore. Fortunately, thinking Singaporeans and, more important, foreigners refused to believe them. Our top two universities continued to power ahead in their global rankings last two years. (Above Hong Kong universities for that matter where useful idiots like George and his buddy Donald Low are now based). Foreign investments, MNCS continued to pour into our market, bringing with them important technology and capital to us. Top foreign talent continued to arrive  to the point that political parties like PSP had to come up with a racist policy to stop them. Despite the catastrophic scenarios painted by George and company on Pofma, Singapore continues to attract people and money seeking out better return and better livelihood here. It was ironically lost on Mr George that his beloved Hong Kong, where he is based, is now being ransacked intellectually and politically by Beijing to the extent that people and monies are fleeing from the territory to, yes, this dictatorship.

So it must have really hurt these critics to know that Singapore and Singaporeans continue to power ahead in all global rankings – from academic research excellence and rule of law to public safety, governance and transparency. And to, yes, trust in Government (See Edelman’s latest ranking on trust) and economic freedom and, more importantly, improving livelihood and global reputation for our people despite the Covid pandemic. And yes, despite strong laws such as Pofma which these useful idiots despise. The facts don’t lie, guys.

Another favorite tactic used by these critics, including dense blogger Miss Bertha Henson, who doesn’t seem to be able to read anything critically. Oh, the issue of foreign interference has been not discussed publicly and the bill has been hastily rushed through without discussion. What? Weren’t you the same guys there at the Select Committee on Pofma which extensively debated the threat of foreign interference and its serious consequences and the need to address it? Besides the Select Committee, the issue of foreign interference had been debated extensively in Parliament sittings as well as other forums. There was also a public conference on foreign interference and numerous articles in the public and the media during the last three years. Government officials and experts have also given their take on such views and ways to move forward. I believe the POFMA Select Committee had released a public consultation paper that captured all the foreign interference issues.  Internet giants such as Facebook and Twitter had also been consulted and made their views openly. Are you suffering from selective memory loss? Or more like collective memory loss by this group of crybabies.

And finally, to the question of excessive powers extended to the Government to attack people they dislike – the ability to take down content and arrest those deemed working covertly for foreigners without a court decision. Again, what? Correct me if I am wrong, aren’t these powers already in existence with ISA, Broadcasting Act, and that British era law to lock up serious criminals without trial? FICA merely  narrows down the laws to surgically target covet foreign interference that attacks Singapore public interest. I understand the law has redress in a tribunal which includes a High Court judge. Of course, unless you are saying you don’t trust the High Court judge in which case it doesn’t make any difference even if it must be subject to the High Court. Not to mention these critics, as usual, conveniently chose to ignore the more draconian, stricter laws dealing with foreign interference by developed countries including USA, Australia and some in Europe.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The likes of George, Kirsten, PJ Thum, Terry Xu and company are never going to be interested in facts. Worse, they are prepared to twist the facts to suit their case. It is all political. Attack at every turn. Bring down Singapore whenever they can in the eyes of the foreigners so that they prove the point that the Government is messing it up. But despite all their repeated warnings of the chilling effects of laws like ISA, POFMA and now FICA, none of these useful idiots appeared to be deterred at all at attacking ruthlessly at the leadership. If anything, they have become more vicious and personal.

On a more serious note an, the sad thing is this: we should be looking at FICA and suggesting how the law can be strengthened to better counter foreign influence and hostile campaigns. And not chasing shadows by worrying about how it would be used against ourselves, as propagated by these blokes. Because when the foreign major powers do come in with a major covert hostile campaign against us, tiny Singapore with its diverse social make-up is not going to stand much of a chance. 

I can only wish there will be fewer useful idiots and crybabies among the rest of us.

Parti Liyani: Acquitted but not that innocent?

Parti Liyani probe : hard truths that didn’t fit our convenient underdog narrative

All of us love an underdog story. We are sentimentalists at heart. We want to be the underdog champion. We want the good guys to win. We want the bad guys to be punished. We back the poor and needy. We offer disdain for the rich and powerful, particularly those who earn millions, own big houses and look down on the rest of us.

So, like many of us in Singapore, I joined in the chorus to celebrate when I first read that a humble little maid from Indonesia has taken the powerful family of Liew Mun Leong all the way to the High Court and won. Bravo to the criminal justice system. Kudos to the brave judge. Salute to the NGO and the pro-bono lawyer who cocked a snook at the establishment. 

We are all busy people. We have no time to be discerning. Our brains pick what we want to believe. Ms Parti is the victim. The Liews are the bad guys. It fits into the romantic narrative in our heads. We put Parti on the pedestal and worship her as our Malala.

But is that the case now?

From the new facts that arose from Parliament session this week – phew, the Law Minister went on and on – for three hours I’m told – it looks like sentimentalists like us are now faced with a lot of inconvenient truths.

We have to ask ourselves a few hard questions. As a society, are we going to be honest enough to admit it when we got it wrong when new facts present a different uncomfortable scenario. Or, as some of the Western media love to say, don’t let facts get in the way of a good story?

First and the most important, if the news reports are correct, and none of the writers or even the Minister is prepared to say it outright given the new facts, it would appear to me that the probe is suggesting that Ms Parti is not so innocent. But then, we don’t want to be out of step with the populist narrative that the poor maid is the underdog and the victim. Worse, we do not want to be accused or seen as siding with the rich and powerful. Parti is after all acquitted by the High Court judge and it would be difficult for the Government to suggest a different decision.

Which brings me to my second point – the High Court’s strange decision. If I read the news reports correctly, the probe is suggesting that the High Court judge – while he is entitled to make a judgemental call on the evidence submitted – may have made a giant leap and took a sweeping view and decision on the case without any strong  evidence. 

What he has decided essentially was this: I think there are doubts about the Liews’ statements, particularly the incoherent son Karl, and then made an inference, Oh, they have a motive to fix her and she must therefore be innocent. With that, he completely disregarded all other incriminating evidence and inconsistencies in Parti’s statements and let her go. She basically got off on technicalities, not because all the incriminating facts, evidence were demolished beyond reasonable doubt in court. It is like saying a robber is caught red handed in CCTV camera with all the loot and weapons in his body but because the victim was not consistent with his statements, we disregard all the facts and clear evidence and then make a  big leap to acquit the robber.

For me, the biggest smoking gun came from Parti’s own admission. “I only took about 10 to 15 men’s clothing belonging to my employer’ s husband. I admit that I took it without informing my employer or her husband…I only admit to taking the 10 to 15 men’s clothing belonging of my employer’s husband without consent. I DID NOT STEAL ANY OTHER ITEMS.’’ Can someone please tell me how is that not theft. And then, she said the watches found in her were gifts from a friend. And then she changed her alibi to say they were found in the trash. She also said the Gucci bag was a gift from previous maid. And then she changed again to say she found it from somewhere else. And then she went on with many other inconsistencies in her statements to the police.

No matter, the High Court judge chose to disregard all these glaring facts. He somehow arrived at the conclusion that there were suspicions – which were not challenged – that the Liews had a motive to fix her. He reckoned they wanted to prevent her from coming back to Singapore in case she reported them to MOM for illegally using her at Karl’s house for work. But that didn’t make sense at all because the Liews themselves had admitted to the police they used her for work at Karl’s house. Plus, she doesn’t need to be in Singapore to report to MOM on any abuse; she can report them online from overseas. In any case, it appears she had originally wanted to complain about the short notice and not about the illegal deployment. With the motive angle demolished this week, what we are saying here is the High Court made a wrong call in acquitting her of all charges.

I have followed many court cases before including recent medical saga where doctors got off but with a scolding. What I couldn’t fathom now is why didn’t the High Court judge convict her on those valid charges that were clearly beyond reasonable doubt – many of these items were found with her when she returned, and these have nothing to do with the so called tampered boxes. And she has already admitted to taking some items. Deal with her on those and at the same time disregard the Liews’ inconsistent statements and acquit her of other charges. And then publicly tick off the Liews for their “cavalier’’ attitude.  I am not a lawyer and I may be wrong, but I would have thought that was quite a reasonable decision. Alas, the High Court decision is final and we have to accept it.

Now what is my biggest take from the session this week. Or rather my biggest worry.  As a medical doctor, if a poor patient accused me of any impropriety, would I want to defend my honour and dignity and take her on in court? What would all the netizens and trolls say? What if I lose on appeal?

I hire a maid at home.  I leave her at home most of the time. If for some twist of fate, she decided to go bonkers and start stealing from my flat, would I still want to make a police report against her. 

After seeing the ordeal and damages done to the Liews, I am afraid I am unlikely to jump on the first cab to report her to the police. 

I worry for the employers of the 250,000 maids in Singapore.

Your maid is about to get an increment of $700 a month, if Pritam has his way.

Mr Pritam Singh says he wants Singapore to impose a minimum wage of $1,300. All well and good. It may help us even in cutting back our reliance on foreign workers. For most Singaporeans who earn salaries for a living, it is not going to make any difference. Because most of the them earn more than $1,300. So, it is meaningless to most voters.

But the question we need to ask is this – who is going to pay for this? Every household who hires a maid. Every hawker or market stall owner who hires assistants.

The first group of people who should welcome this news – I can already see them jumping for joy in Lucky Plaza – are the domestic maids. For a start, any minimum wage imposed on a country must apply to all workers, Singaporeans and foreigners. Otherwise, businesses would be sacking Singaporeans and replacing them with foreigners. And the Workers Party complained about having too much foreign talent!

If your hawker stall assistant suddenly sees his pay jump from $1000 to $1,300 – which probably amounts to having to sell few hundred more bowls of noodles to make up the difference –  the owner would hire a more hardworking and friendly PRC or Malaysian instead. Singaporeans lose out .

Now come let’s come to the painful part. There are easily over 250,000 foreign maids in Singapore. Assuming each maid works for one family ( I know some hire two or more), we are talking about 250,000 families affected. One in every five households in Singapore hires a maid. 

While there are guidelines from their embassies on how much they should be paid at the minimum, most maids typically start with around $450-$500. Assuming they are paid $600, a minimum wage of $1,300 should immediately more than double the salary costs for the 250,000 families, a jump of $700 a month! Mind you, employers are already paying living expense for their maids – such as food allowances, rest day allowances and medical. Not forgetting placement fee and a maid’s levy of $300.

Now the hawkers. There are about 114 government run hawker centres in Singapore. And then, there are the additional coffeeshops, food courts and standalone food shops. We have an excess of about 15,000 food stalls in Singapore. They are all expected to sell delicious and more importantly, cheap food for almost the entire Singapore population. The minimum wage will definitely hit them hard, whether they are paying for a relative or an assistant, local or foreigners. But who pays for the extra costs? You and me. Say goodbye to chicken rice and meepok at $3. We are now looking more at $5 if minimum wage is implemented. Some stalls may have to close altogether since there are controls on food pricing.

I guess it is all about trade-offs. How do we ensure our people get decent jobs and a decent living and at the same time, control the influx of foreign workers? The calibration has to be right.

So if Pritam has his way, these are the numbers you and I have to go back to talking to our domestic maids. An increment of not $100, not $200 but $700 a month. I hope Pritam has done his calculations. And that the 250,000 families are not his voters.

Suet Fern and the great Lee descendent.

Suet Fern and the great Lee descendent.

I didn’t really want to weigh in on the Lee versus Lee saga. But latest comments by Lim Suet Fern – yes, Lim, because there is only one Mrs Lee in that first family and that’s Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, and not Ms Lim – really got me riled up.

Suet Fern must be learning from Donald Trump. When fighting the mainstream media as an underdog, perhaps any news is good news. Even if it means saying distasteful things about your own family members. Just get into the news cycle and hopefully things will spin for you. Talk about getting desperate after the recent decision against her for acting inappropriately on the will of her father in law.

Now talking to Yahoo! News – the poorly edited news portal that would run anything negative about the government – Ms Lim actually said this about her parents in law and the birth of her son. “They wanted a male grandson and this was the male grandson  they were waiting for. My mother in law clucked with pleasure. Shengwu’s birth was the biggest event for them on a personal level…they were deliciously, deliriously happy.’’

She just couldn’t help it, can she? If she is looking for a turnaround in public opinion, me thinks it has achieved the opposite effect. It betrays the kind of person she is. How could anyone decent, least of all a person supposedly of high intelligence and social status say something so awful. In short, my son is the favourite descendent of the great Lee Kuan Yew family.

More important this. Forget the fact that there is in fact an eldest grandson born years ahead, a super smart, well behaved and decent boy called YiPeng. He may not be a Harvard graduate nor an eloquent economist. But he is a son no less. And more important, he is a male decent human like everybody else. Even if it is indeed true that the grandparents had been excited about the birth of Shengwu, it is still a horrible, horrible thing to say. And then, there is a sister to YiPeng. In one fell swoop, Suet Fern dismissed the existence of a special needs kid and his sister. At this age of cancel culture, no less. The grandparents are no longer around to prove her wrong.

This has been the most unfortunate as Ms Lim fights for her rightful place in the Lee family. These are just sideshows in her bigger scheme of things. One can only hope that some sense will prevail. I have no interest in their family affair, whether it is her relentless contest for the family interests or in Lee & Lee or 38 Oxley. But Suet Fern, do have some care and some decency on the next generation who should be kept out of it.