SLA Rental Saga; Politics of the worst kind at work.

I fear for Singapore. In fact, all of you should fear. If we are not careful, the demise of Singapore as a successful political and economic model is nearing.

Reading the vicious personal attacks online in the last two weeks on the two Ministers Vivian Balakrishnan and K Shanmugam which include bringing in their innocent family members into the fray, I wonder how long more these two men could keep going. Mind you, these are good men who have made tremendous sacrifices in both monetary, physical and emotional terms for the country, much as some of the detractors there refused to believe.

Sure, it is so easy to argue, Oh you are a public servant, coming under vicious and defamatory attacks is part of the job. Easy for detractors to say that when they are not the ones who gave up lucrative careers worth millions of dollars to help Singaporeans secure a safer and better livelihood, day in day out, year in year out. Why should Shanmugam and Vivian be subject to such unfair and vicious victimization just because they want to do something good for the community. For those who have forgotten, both men made their money in the private sector well before entering politics. Vivian was a top eye surgeon while Shanmugam was one of Asia’s leading litigation lawyers.

Speaking as a medical doctor, I shudder to think if some day for some stupid reasons, people start attacking doctors as blood suckers who are making lot of money and living in nice homes and should be hounded online. Do we still want to continue practicing? Do we still want the best people to be neurosurgeons, cancer, heart specialists? By the same token, politicians and civil servants who manage billions of dollars for us and navigate crises such as Covid and bilateral disputes for our country?

And don’t tell me about what is being practised in US or UK politics. We, as decent Singaporeans with good community and moral values, are better than that. Should Shanmugam and Vivian decide to walk out, it would only give satisfaction and victory to that same group of small-minded Opposition and their usual echo chambers who have never done anything good for the country, let alone act in the best interest of us all. Some of these – political failures and scammers – have always come from a position of personal vendetta. When that day comes, it would mean we have arrived at a sorry state of political development that will bring us all down the drain. The Singapore exceptionalism of political sacrifice and public service can no longer exist.

Now why do they attack the two, in particular, the Law Minister? Well, when you want to bring down a building, you attack the strongest pillar that holds the structure together. Shanmugam, the fearless and fearsome litigation lawyer who has been the staunch defender of the Singapore successful political system, would be the best person to target if you want to weaken the PAP leadership and bring them down in the next General Election. If the man, who runs the hardest ministry handling difficult issues such as public security, drugs and terrorism and always willing to speak the truth to those who want to destroy Singapore, walks out of Cabinet, detractors or even some ordinary Singaporeans could now say “See PAP is no longer that good and can’t keep good men’’. (Hmm, can you imagine Pritam Singh running the country and Jamus Lim helming Law and Home Ministries?)

But what saddens me are the useful idiots out there who keep parroting populist lines to attack these two. Politics of envy at its worst. Shanmugam, from what I have read, had given up an annual income of between 6-8 million a year for a $1 million job, a drop of 80-90 per cent in income. Assuming a drop of 6 million a year, what he sacrificed could easily be around 90 million in the last 15 years.

Really who cares where he lives? Are public servants not allowed to rent from the Government as long as it is done above board? Does that mean those who are in senior HDB positions should not be allowed to buy or rent from HDB?

And if the ministers had spent money – possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to freshen the houses – isn’t that great for the taxpayers? That upgrading which surely will increase value of the property would have saved SLA from spending money on maintaining them? The fact is a lot of these properties are not well sought after by those who can afford them because given the prices, these rich tenants can easily afford better quality GCBs in the same district without the hassle of spending money to bring these dilapidated homes to life.

Now if it is about the tendering process and possible conflict of interest, why not wait for the review and Parliament sitting where MPs including Workers Party can query anything about the deals and embarrass the Government and the Ministers if the answers are not satisfactory?

Of course, not. Because the vicious Opposition is going milk this period to colour public opinion and weaken the Government’s position. The narrative? These are rich out-of-touch Ministers who cannot connect with the heartlanders.

What I find the most misleading and amusing is they compare the current “rich’’ Ministers to the first Generation of leaders who were supposedly humble, have good feel for the people and yes, very frugal. I am afraid people who attack others always suffer from selective retention when it comes to history. When it suits them, LKY and company are the most compassionate and frugal leaders which they now suddenly admire.

But do not forget, the first-Generation leaders were also made up of very, very rich lawyers, bankers, academicians, journalists who were far far less accessible to the commoners. Most of these top leaders, LKY, Rajaratnam, Lim Kim San, Hon Sui Sen, EW Barker lived in luxurious bungalows at a time when most Singaporeans could not even buy HDB yet. Unlike many of the current leaders who come from humble background (Chan Chun Sing, Heng Swee Keat and Shanmugam), most of the first-Generation leaders came from privileged families who could afford to send them to study overseas in the 1940s.

They were also the same leaders who were locking up critics, artists, journalists, unionists, religious leaders and political opponents, most of them without trial. Remember Ho Kwon Ping and Kuo Pao Kun? They allowed little or no media freedom or freedom of expression. Some of the bloggers and politicians who have been defaming the Ministers would have been sued or suppressed viciously by now if these men had been in charge.

Now all said, what exactly is this whole saga all about? It is politics, stupid. Corrosive politics practised by the worst kind in UK and USA. Politics of envy used by self-interest politicians that are fed to useful idiots. Almost Trump-like populist politics that are used to stoke anger to weaken the Government. Do not fall for it, fellow Singaporeans.

I don’t have a chance to meet them. But I sincerely hope the two Ministers are seen by the rational segment of the population as victims and not villains. My hope is that they remain committed to their jobs and stay strong despite all the unfair and vicious victimization. To do that, they need all our support and encouragement. The silent majority must speak up. But should the alternative happen, meaning the two walk out, it would signal to the rest of Singapore that this kind of politics is acceptable, and it would make recruitment even more difficult for both the PAP and the Opposition. That cannot be good for Singapore.

When a hardcore communist like Deng Xiaoping declared “it is glorious to be rich’’ and signal to China that it is ok to make money, the country started working and lifted over half a billion of people out of poverty. That was the biggest poverty eradication in the entire history of human race. The day we start allowing politics of envy to bring down good men and women in our Government, is the day Singapore exceptionalism as we know it, ends. Be very fearful.

It is ok not to be ok?

Guess what the latest woke buzzword is? It’s called “flawsome”, and it’s all about celebrating mediocrity in the name of authenticity. It is about acceptance. Be comfortable in your own skin, your own flaws.  

But really what exactly is flawsome? Especially to the woke fundamentalist whom I first heard the term from a couple weeks ago.

Obviously a clever play on the words “flaws’’ and “awesome’’. In short, it is awesome to show flaws. But they go further. Frown upon perfection. Frown upon beauty. Frown upon excellence. Frown upon achievements. 

Here’s what’s happening. To some of these woke extremists on social media, flaws are not just acceptable but looked up to. Many a time glorified. To further expand that line of thinking, mediocrity is good. Meritocracy is bad. Low PSLE score is good. Top A Level results is bad. Post your PSLE score on social media if you had done badly. Keep your wealth and achievements to yourself. You get the gist.

I guess it explains how amateurishly produced tik tok videos these days are going viral. Overweight models are used in Swimsuit Illustrated. Bad reality show auditions are viralled. Transgender men are crowned female beauty queens. Even those that are objectively, not good looking enough to be in these competitions. Or woman enough.

Bad English is good. (Unless you are Chan Chun Sing) Good English is bad. (Unless you are Jamus Lim). Also explains why someone with remotely creative dance talent and routine like Uncle Raymond can become an overnight sensation. Even Ministers and ministries are tripping over to the dance with him. I see little entertaining value in his dance routine. But I am not supposed to criticise him because the woke brigade would come after me for being snobbish, out of touch, atas.

I see the point about being authentic on social media. I also believe we need a compassionate meritocracy where those who are mediocre academically should be given opportunities to find their own paths. All of us have our own talent and value as a person. As someone who can contribute meaningfully to family, society.  We must be humble to recognise each individual as useful human being with dignity regardless of their looks, talent, achievement and any other measure.

But we ought to be careful where to draw the line on this political correctness business. Singapore is obsessed with excellence. Sure, it can become a nuisance to some of us. But it is our differentiating brand to the rest of the world. You come here, you are guaranteed quality assurance. We work hard. We give our best. We hire and deploy the smartest. There are good reasons for that.

Let me tell you where I don’t want to see flaws.  When I go to use public services, I want the experience to be quick and effective. I arrive in the airport, I want to be out of the luggage belt in less than 15 minutes. No luggage left behind. I read the newspaper, I want the editors and writers to be the most disciplined and well trained to bring me accurate and useful news and information. I go to a doctor for an emergency, I want my medical doctor or specialist to be the best. And I want my appointment quickly done with.

Speaking of doctors, would you want your brain surgeon to come from among the brightest or someone who believe in mediocrity and less than perfect work? Do you want your medical procedure to be flawsome. And for the media, the emergence of social media has led to the proliferation of citizen journalists who are now suddenly great reporters and industry experts on everything without the discipline of proper recruitment, training and editorial integrity. Anyone with a phone is now a broadcaster and columnist. Imagine if there was an app that can prescribe medical treatment for every disease and everyone who has the app can now declare themselves medically qualified. No more years of medical school attended by the smartest in schools. Will that be flawsome?  

And on schools, the PSLE and GCE, for all their flaws have served us well. They have helped to level the playing field for many of us who come from humble background to break through the economic ceiling. PSLE, for one, has given a poor kid like me to step ahead of the more privileged kids and the chance to go to medical school. In recent years, the obsession with political correctness in  Nordic schools have led to decline in the quality of teaching and learning. Because parents and kids are told not to bother too much with good grades or academic performance. You take away the incentive and drive to do well, you end up with flawsome mediocrity. And yes, I still want to watch great entertaining movies with good looking actors and actresses no less. 

All said, I would like to stress again I subscribe to a compassionate society where we should not judge people based on their background. We need to be inclusive and all embracing of the less skilled and fortunate. Accept your flaws by all means. Nothing to feel bad about. But I worry about our new obsession to frown upon meritocracy, excellence, wealth or academic achievements. It can only lead to poor quality of our workforce and our economic vibrancy and competitiveness. So to all the young people out there, my advice is this : do your best, look your best, feel your best, and be humble. Don’t waste your youth – the most productive part of your life chasing after mediocrity at the expense of excellence. Singapore’s existence depends on you.

Huge trans wins beauty contest. Was she/he/they/it/whatever the most gorgeous? Was she/he/they/it/whatever the most woman?

Thank God for Malaysian leaders – Singapore’s lunch is safe for now.

Who can you trust in Malaysian politics? No one. Who can you forgive in Malaysian politics? Everyone. As long as your economic interests are taken care of, that is.

Friends or foes? Does it matter?

The month of November saw two selections of national leaders of sorts on both sides of the Causeway. Up north, Malaysia held its chaotic, if not incredulous, General Election (GE15) to form the next Government, following three different Prime Ministers in the last four years. And guess what? The comic merry-go-round continues despite the election.

In Singapore, the ruling party peacefully settled on their leadership for the next decade or so with their own party convention over a weekend. A good slate of men and women with strong credentials were presented to the public, many having successfully run ministries for more than a decade.  Globally, the Singapore government continued to score highly in terms of trust in Government, strong governance and rule of law.

In case you have forgotten, the two countries had been part of the same Federation once. But the type of leaders and ensuing governance that have been thrown up in the last five decades couldn’t have been more different. As a former Malaysian patient told me in my clinic last week, “Thank God my mother married a Singaporean and I came down here.’’ She was completely embarrassed by the outcome and the blatantly corrupt maneuvering after GE15 ended with a historic hung parliament with no clear majority by any party. Which prompted me to write this piece.

Really, when a Malaysian leader tells you something, can you truly believe him.  In fact, who can you now trust after the bizarre horse trading to get into power and the kiss-and-tell revelations and vicious campaign by different parties on their enemies. Not to mention the never-ending about-turns by the key parties and their leaders. And the countless declaration of alleged majority received by the party chiefs and so-called statutory declarations committed.

By the end of the fiasco, everyone appeared to have lied, every enemy is now a friend, and every friend is now an enemy, depending on how the goodies are disbursed.

By the time the dust has settled, you have just about lost all faith in this political system which has now degenerated into a corrupt old boys’ network used to distribute wealth within that same old small group of people. The same people who have ruled the country for the last few decades. Do principles and morals matter in Malaysian politics? One thing is for sure, words don’t count in this country.

Let’s just sample a few examples. First, who do you trust when a leader claims he has received the majority number of seats? When eventual winner Anwar Ibrahim first said he had enough majority to form the government, did we believe him? Absolutely no. Because the Sarawak-based party Gabungan Parti Sarawak, a kingmaker for a couple days with its 23 seats, came out all gun blazing to declare that they will never support Anwar because his Pakatan Harapan-led Government with a Chinese DAP Finance Minister had cancelled lucrative projects on them.

They said DAP had insulted them and they will never work with the PH coalition. As if to make it even more convincing, they said they have committed the 23 seats to Anwar’s rival and former PM Muhyiddin Yassin. A few days later when the tide turned with Barisan Nasional likely to throw in with Anwar’s lot, GPS suddenly suffered a memory loss and said it will support any party that the King supports.

But then we didn’t believe Anwar’s claim of majority support not just because GPS and BN had said they won’t support him. It is because this is not the first time that he had claimed he had the majority when he didn’t. Remember, in September 2020, he also claimed he had secured a strong majority and was going to see the King to get his assent to form the government to replace Muhyiddin. It didn’t happen.

Now speaking of Muhyiddin and majority support. Before and after Anwar was sworn in as Prime Minister, the former Premier also claimed he commanded majority support with statutory declarations in tow. He said he had submitted the 115 names to the Palace, which included GPS and some Barisan Nasional MPs. Well, it didn’t happen either. When Anwar invited him to form a unity government, Muhyiddin rejected the opportunity to work with his rival and decided he would remain as the Opposition.

Now on whom you can work with. This is where Malaysian politics hit rock bottom. Let’s start with Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself. In 1969, he had attacked UMNO and the first PM Tungku Abdul Rahman and was expelled by the party. By the middle of the following decade, Dr M had become the Deputy Premier and then PM for 22 years. In 1987, he sidelined Abdullah Badawi for siding with his rival in the infamous power grab by Tengku Razaleigh. In 2003, he chose Badawi as his successor. 

Earlier in 1998, he had removed his designated successor Anwar who was immediately charged with sodomy and corruption offences. He had repeatedly declared Anwar was not fit to be PM. 

Fast forward to 2018, he was publicly on stage joining hands with the same Anwar again to announce their collaboration to take on former PM Najib Razak. And following his victory at the 2018 GE in which he openly said he didn’t expect in win and had made promises that couldn’t be delivered, he pledged he would hand over the Premiership to Anwar. For the second time, it never happened. In his memoirs later, he would go on to say again that Anwar was not good enough to be PM. What is even more amazing was as part of the deal in 2018 to work together, Dr Mahathir had undertaken to release Anwar from prison so that he could be PM. Upon winning, Anwar was pardoned and set free. Whatever happened to those convicted charges? So much for judicial independence.

What about Anwar. Many of us would have seen the clip of infamous political rally speech by the charismatic leader about 10 years ago. In it, the former Islamic youth leader took a direct broadside at Dr Mahathir, accusing him of awarding lucrative billion-dollar contracts to his own sons, from San Miguel to Petronas during his reign. “Enough is enough!’’ Anwar screamed into the audience which erupted into thunderous cheers. 

What did he do? In 2018, he was ready to forgive how his former boss had jailed him (which came with a black eye in the cell) and all his allegations of the massive corruption and joined hands to form a government. Whatever happened to San Miquel and Petronas deals?

And then, we have UMNO. Anwar spent the last 25 years or so trying to overthrow the BN government, accusing the leaders of abuse of power and corruption. In fact, up to the GE15, UMNO former leader Najib was in jail for corruption and current leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was facing multiple corruption charges.

Anwar, meanwhile, had fashioned himself as a reformist who believes in real meritocracy, clean government and equality among all races. But what he did he do? He reached out to Zahid and UMNO leaders to get them to cross over so that he could get the majority. UMNO’s Hishammuddin Hussein, a former Defence Minister and cousin of Najib, had declared on Nov 21 he would not work with Anwar and would rather be sacked from UMNO than change his stance. They had earlier adopted the principle of “No Anwar, No DAP’’. By now, you would have just shrugged your shoulders and say “ya la, ya la, ya la’’ when someone made another public declaration. UMNO is now part of the coalition. What’s even more incredulous, Zahid, with multiple corruption  charges still pending, has been named a Deputy Prime Minister, no less.

As their closest neighbour and for our own sake, we can only wish Malaysia well and hope they continue to prosper and remain peaceful and stable. But the culture of money politics has become so entrenched, and the governance  so dysfunctional that the poor average Malaysians just don’t know who to vote for anymore. Everyone seems to be coming in for their own economic benefits. Those in power do not seem to care a hood about the status of the country’s welfare and development.

The quality of the leaders in Malaysia can be summed up by another comical video of an East Malaysian Minister who was accused of visiting a casino during a Parliament debate. The fiery minister known for many controversial statements responded with a double “Fuck you’’ and called his opponent a “Sum Seng’’, as if to challenge him to a fist fight. 

Every now and then, the old boys’ club sees cracks and gets split. The permutation changes. People peddle the grand idea the country is ready for real democracy, meritocracy and racial equality. But the moment someone plays the race card (reads Malay supremacy), and you are back to square one. Same old same old.

So for those who think Malaysia – with Pakatan Harapan and Anwar in charge – has finally arrived at a true meritocratic democracy based on equality for all races and religions, I suggest you hold back the celebrations. It pains me when I see some Singaporeans looking up North and suggesting that we follow this new beacon of democracy.

The only comfort for Singaporeans is this – thank God for this kakistocracy and that this resource-rich nation blessed with so many talented people continues to be run by these bozos. Malaysia should have eaten our lunch decades ago. For next few years, the Malay voters and leaders are likely to remain split which would continue to divide the country and slow real economic development. That should help buy this little red dot another decade or two of progress and prosperity.

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.



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.



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.