After making one of the biggest investment blunders ever seen anywhere in the world losing $58B in taxpayers money, the next step was not to acknowledge mistakes were made and changes were needed but to fudge the performance comparison to tell the ordinary citizens that they have surpassed Warren Buffett, the greatest investor the world has ever known.
A few years ago, Professor Lee Wei Ling gave a speech about (childhood?) dylexia and being one to speak her mind honestly all the time, she mentioned that her father was also dylexic. I think she was trying to say that such a minor defect was no hindrance to accomplishments later in life. The Straits Times editor allowed this to slip through and the next day the whole country knew its great leader had a small defect. In many other countries, this would have been viewed positively as leaders are seen not too different from ordinary human beings except that they have a greater desire to serve and lead. However, it is not the same in a country with greater and lesser mortals. So how did Straits Times do the damage control? They couldn't say that Professor Lee had lied about her father. They fixed it by having a front page article entitled "Albert Einstein was dylexic" with a big picture of Albert Einstein the following day. There is scant evidence that Einstein was dylexic [Link] but it didn't matter because the whole idea was to equate our leadership with the greatest mind of this century. .....in the same spirit they compared Temasek's performance to that of Warren Buffett. Gee if Temasek is as better than the greatest investor in world, all of us should just stop asking questions and show some appreciation for their good work and we should leave the PAP govt to check itself because lesser mortals have nothing to contribute to govt.....
The story told time and again about the economic miracle in Singapore being the result of helicopter vision of its leaders who planned for Singapore's economic development. The ability of these men goes beyond basic competence and honesty...they were visionaries who actually confidently charted Singapore's economic development right to where we are today. The 'great success' is a direct result of their visionary planning. Today's Straits Times has an article about hot selling books in China about Singapore's (or rather PAP's) policy and planning. All these help to perpetuate a myth of superior leadership being primarily responsible for Singapore's success. If you recall in 60s, 70s and right up to the 80s, the PAP implemented population control policies. If you look at documents from that period, the reason for this policy was they were afraid that they could not create enough jobs if the population continued to grow so they pressured parents not to have too many children. If the PAP had envisioned and planned the economic miracle that expanded the economy to its current size why were they implementing a disastrous population control policy that eventually led to a population bottleneck now being fixed by imported labour? Singapore's success is as much a surprise to the leadership as it is to everyone else and a result of a number of incidental converging factors but it is now spun into a story of how superior leadership created this economic success. Forgotten are the men and women that formed the number one workforce in world for amost 3 decades from the 70s right up to the 90s - a workforce that never go on strike, willing to work the 3rd shift, never asked for better pay, not averse to hardship - one that attracted billions in foreign investments. The PAP played up its superior leadership so much that the hard work of a few million Singaporeans meant little in its version of Singapore's success story. You never ever hear any PAP leader say that the hard work of ordinary Singaporeans played a big role in Singapore's success. The problem with the PAP was it believed in its own myth and tried to prove it by transplanting its 'software' to Suzhou. What they were trying to prove with taxpayers' resources was downright diabolical - that PAP leadership (policies and plans) can work somewhere else without Singaporeans i.e. Singaporeans don't matter. Unfortunately (for the PAP), the Chinese had other ideas they started their own industrial park that attracted more investments and grew faster. The Suzhou Industrial Park started making money after the Singapore consortium lowered it stake and the Chinese took over....yet it is spun into a success of Singapore's 'software' [Link] something that can work anywhere ..... the PAP wants to prove ordinary Singaporeans are not important and all that mattered are its policies and plans. This myth is now drives policies - the generation of workers that helped to create Singapore's miracle are now asked to work harder and longer unable to retire gracefully, the PAP leadership pays itself an astronomical salary as the income of many Singaporeans fall close to 3rd world levels.
In May 2009, PM Lee spoke of 3 gaps that divide Singapore - foreign talent, income gaps and race[Link]. He left out the most important gap in Singapore - the gap between the leaders and ordinary people. The greater-lesser mortal gap, a dangerous gap driven by myth and illusion, that creates an imbalance in policy making, disregard for the truth (just look at the spin) and prevents Singapore from getting closer to the ideals of 'a democratic society based on justice and equality'. If Singapore is to continue progessing, we will need honest leaders who will do the right thing and leaders who believe in our pledge.