Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Illusion of Superiority and Dangers of Elitism....

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.
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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.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

ermm....you build up then story, then you basically landed flat.

anyway....

If Mr Low Thia Khiang and the Worker’s Party wish to build an ENDURING LEGACY FOR THEMSELVES, that is something they should think about seriously.

....i am sure you know where that was taken.

get the picture?

Anonymous said...

They are great because there is no credible alternative to replace them.

Anonymous said...

And they have no shame either.

Ars(e) Gratia Artis said...

Correction. "They are great because they do not permit a credible alternative to replace them." In a one-horse race there can be only one victor.

Catherine Lim said it a long time ago with her "Great Affective Divide" speech which caused Goh Chok Tong to choke on his champagne and oysters and darkly threaten Singaporeans with invisible OB markers that only the PAP could see. They have totally lost the plot - no question about it.

The fairytales are being spun ever more furiously because the myths of invincibility, of never being wrong, of a divine right to rule, have taken blow after massive blow in the recent past. The emperor now stands before us naked, his modesty barely covered by a tissue of lies. Only the dogs save him from being torn to shreds.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with what Lucky had written.

1) What Straits Times had written, it does not take a financial guru to realise something is wrong. Warren Buffett is the second or richest person (depends on the stock prices) because his company only had 0.7% returns. I think the people at GIC or Temasek must be keeping a lot of secrets!!! :)

2) Really not enough credit had been given to the people (actually not enough $$$ :) ) Today, I read in the Straits Times about HDB leaseback and how people are happy about it. My reaction is how can that be? Imagine you are retired at 68, you still need HDB leaseback to have some $$$. One commented that he would have $$$ to holiday. Maybe I am wrong, but how much leaseback $$$ can they get? Is there any catch? Anybody can enlighten?

3) I think Lucky had been quite consistent in his views. Checks and balances are very crucial. History has shown that absolute power corrupts. All you need is to look at China - 7000 years of civilisation to tell you the lessons of human nature. Every human is fallible and may start to believe in his/her immortality given the chance. Even you and I.......

Anonymous said...

We should make some reality check. Let start with a young U graduate.
Not long ago, if they work normally hard, they can be sure of getting a HDB Executive flat, got married and have two kids within five years, and spouse not working.
But compared to today if you are not in the top 5%(the Elite), fat hope to you. You can only dream to be a Four-roomers with both hubands and wife working and have a pet for company. That goes our Singapore dream.

Anonymous said...

China's political maturity ceased immediately after the Warring States period.

From 200+ BC to 1911, China basically moved from one dictatorship to another dictatorship. Philosophical exchanged ceased, and most school of thoughts were stamped out, leaving only Confucianism as the prevailing school of thought. Life was pretty much different during the Warring States period, where many schools of philosphies were allowed to flourish, and various states experimented with different types of governments.

PAP is steering singapore pretty much towards a single school of thought; where scholars rule and lesser mortals like us have to listen, where people are expected to vote for a candidate on the basis of his academic credentials, where elites never have to apologize or assume any personal responsibility for their 'honest mistakes'.

Anonymous said...

ToAnon 2.31 pm

"ermm....you build up then story, then you basically landed flat."

Please be more specific, I see no reason for you to thumb down what Lucky wrote.

"If Mr Low Thia Khiang and the Worker’s Party wish to build an ENDURING LEGACY FOR THEMSELVES, that is something they should think about seriously.

I think you should seriously read the post Lucky wrote a few times because you are being irrelevant here. What has Mr. Low and Worker's Party got to do with the subject?

Your whole post is totally out of context and I think you don't get the picture at all.

Anonymous said...

Another classic by Lucky Tan !
Should award Lucky Tan a nobel prize. As for PAP and its stupid leadership, a nobel shit.

Anonymous said...

Don't even bother with ST. A whole load of bull. If those bulls could be slaughter, I could have steaks to last all my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

"Another classic by Lucky Tan !
Should award Lucky Tan a nobel prize. As for PAP and its stupid leadership, a nobel shit."

ahhh...then you elevate lucky to "elitist status" and he ends up eating his own words...lol

sgcynic said...

"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."

Indeed, our "leaders" are BEYOND competence and honesty. What I see on my chart is a great wall of iceberg, shaped like horse-shoe surrounding Singapore the titanic. BTW, there is no gap between the leaders and ordinary people. In the former, their helicopter god-like vision sees no gap; in the latter, we see only a chasm.

Anonymous said...

aw, heck, since the elites in temasek are touted as far superior to Warren Buffet, then let them be known as (S)upreme (H)onchos of (I)nvestments & (T)rading.

Anonymous said...

Lucky you hit the nail on the spot.

In recession...
People are told: Do be choosy, take any job
Elite: Cannot lower pay further, or else will be corrupted

In getting a job...
People are told: You have to be more competitive than 3rd world workers
Elite: Guaranteed 1st world pay for a guaranteed part-time job, through backdoor politics

In making a mistake at work...
People are told: You're not competent enough, you deserve to lose your job
Elite: It's an honest mistake, let's move on

In retirement funds...
People are told: Work till you drop, it's good for your mental health
Elite: Got pension scheme

In healthcare...
People are told: Means testing is to ensure no wastage
Elites: Free A-class hospitalisation paid by taxpayers

Many more incidents that reflect the chasm. It is good that Singaporeans are not reproducing enough. No point providing cheap labour and conscripted national security for these elites.

Onlooker said...

Errmmm sorry to burst their bubble but Einstein is also known as a womeniser so does that mean....

Anonymous said...

Elitism is a choice. With so many opportunities created for you, you can also be an elite .
So it's your fault if you are not one.

Like they say, don't get jealous, get even. Become an elite and get the respect, superscale salary and high life you deserve.

JOIN PAP!

Anonymous said...

also not incorrect to retitle to.....Illusion of Supersalary and Dangers of... Election..ha!

Anonymous said...

Errmmm sorry to burst their bubble but Einstein is also known as a womeniser so does that mean....the old man was a womeniser?

LOL

Anonymous said...

In recession...
People are told: Do be choosy, take any job
Elite: Cannot lower pay further, or else will be corrupted

LOL

Anonymous said...

We should make some reality check. Let start with a young U graduate.
Not long ago, if they work normally hard, they can be sure of getting a HDB Executive flat, got married and have two kids within five years, and spouse not working.
But compared to today if you are not in the top 5%(the Elite), fat hope to you. You can only dream to be a Four-roomers with both hubands and wife working and have a pet for company. That goes our Singapore dream.
(anon 5:10pm)


The fact that these people have jobs that pay their mortgages is good enough. Perhaps you may like to read what just came thru my mail, attached with the pictures of a million people attending a job fair in china:

"China produces more than a million graduates a year and has more than a million genius. Singapore produces around 5,000 graduates a year. If 10 - 20% of China graduates (not counting those from India ) cannot find jobs at home and 1 - 2% head to Singapore a year. It will flood the market easily."

Sgporeans (still) with jobs should count their lucky stars, it could be alot worse. Perhaps that should be the reality check instead (?)

Anonymous said...

Tan Kin Lian just wrote a piece comparing S'pore to Orwell's seminal work Animal Farm.

I will add by quoting the opening of Dicken's A Tale Of Two Cities... It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness...

Anonymous said...

i am not sure of the argument that a person with a degree should be entitled to a better deal in life than a four room flat. to stretch the argument further, many of the media stars and wellness bosses are not graduates, does it mean they dun deserve to live in private homes in the top districts?

at the end of the day, it comes down to managing one's expectations. if one wants a better address, one just have to work his butts out for it. there are actually alot of people taking on two jobs, this is common in countries such as china

Anonymous said...

A charity auction to have lunch with Warren Buffet is now on-going. Last year's successful bid was US$2.1M.

Since Temasek supposedly outperformed Warren Buffet, may be these outstanding fund managers should also offer themselves to have lunch with successful bidders in a similar charity auction to benefit the lesser mortals. I'm sure they can fetch more than Warren Buffet.

Anonymous said...

If current situation continues, the people will begain to choose not to believe with the gahman. They begain to loose the trust of the people. In the end, hardly any policies will seem to work.

Ghost said...

Of the 3 gaps that divide Singapore; Singapore is still importing "foreign talent", income gaps has increased and race relations has not gotten worse but I don't think it has gotten better either.
No use talking about gaps if nothing is being done to fill it

Anonymous said...

PAP policies and leadership MY FOOT!!!!!!!

Minus

7% GST, COE, Import duties, TV licenses, Income Taxes, Daylight robberies of Land and assets at 80%below market prices, CPF monies,

we would be

in NETT DEFICIT,

Private corporation like Warren Buffet never had the benefits of taking BILLIONS from 4 millions Pathetic Singaporean and giving them PEANUTS.

Equating Buffet with Temasek or GIC
= Lunatic Stupidity = Straits Times

The PAP leaders once said you pay Millions you get Intellects, you pay peanuts Monkeys,

The present economic Tsunami presented to us

You pay millions, you get Thieves and Rats,

You pay peanuts, you get Monkeys and honesty,

You pay S$millions, you get dishonest PAP rats and overbearing Gorillas

Alan Wong said...

With all the experts that they are capable of having hired at Temasek/GIC, the returns of their investments would have already been considered very dismal if there had been near zero returns.

To have make losses to the tune of S$58 billion of taxpayers' monies is unforgivable, whatever reasons or excuses that they can come up with.

Really beats me that how come so far LKY & his PM son have remained so silent on these losses ?

Don't they think they owe us at least an explanation how can such losses have been incurred with their so-called world class team of professionals in charge ?

So all along it has been just bullshit from them ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.41 is amusing. Just because there are people who will always be worse off than us, we should always be contented and never complain. That sounds like only something a PAP mouthpiece would say.

Anonymous said...

Powerful article, Lucky! One of your best.

Anonymous said...

Alot of similarites between S'pore and North Korea; i.e. if you omit the hungry looks and $$$$.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 9:41 pm

Why the top percentile graduates from China or India have to come to Singapore?

Can they not go to UK or USA instead?

Or is our policy so benevolent to other nationalities than to our own?

Do we treat our country as our home, see ourselves as Singaporeans and ready to stand up and defend its flag and colours?

Anonymous said...

judging from the commentaries you read everywhere, i think..

...there is no hope liao. lol

Anonymous said...

Anon 1.08...

losses all in the guise of transfering assets overseas perhaps ??

S$58 billion will come in handy for the party to exist and plot their return should there be a freak result in the next election.

Anonymous said...

"If Singapore is to continue progessing, we will need honest leaders who will do the right thing and leaders who believe in our pledge."

what is the right thing?

list them.

Anonymous said...

So what we have now is a political system (nations, governments, cities, educational institutions, legal regimes) that is too big to work, and too big to be allowed to fail. We have an economic system (corporate oligopolies, industries, health care institutions, banks) that is too big to work, and too big to be allowed to fail. We have not only crop monoculture, we have human monoculture called "a dark and gathering sameness" all over the world.

These are complicated, mechanistic structures, not the complex resilient ones that nature has evolved. They are fragile and vulnerable, constantly at risk of flying apart.

The Transition movement as one that attempts to rediscover community, the natural 'right size' of human relationship and endeavour, between the atomized individual/family and the massive, groaning and ungovernable political and economic institutions and systems we have created that currently hold sway over our lives. We need to reframe the discussion away from big government versus big corporations versus libertarianism versus anarchism. The first two are different flavours of the unsustainably large and hierarchical, and the latter two are different flavours of the unsustainably small, narcissistic and atomized. The only structure of human relationship and human endeavour that has ever sustainably worked was and is... community.

We have to change the prevailing story from 'its all about me' to 'it's all about us'. The first step is that each of us has to take is to start to live this new story. We cannot lecture. We cannot explain. We have to live it.

One way or another, we need to facilitate the breaking down of the complicated, dysfunctional and unsustainable hierarchies and systems of civilization culture, and the building up from alienated, atomized, narcissistic individuals, into community-based structures, relationships and endeavours. It is naive to believe that we can do just one or the other; we need activists breaking down the too-big and communitarians building up the too-small, until what we have is organizations of the right, natural size. These right-size groups 'natural organizations'. I have used the terms 'natural enterprise' and 'natural community'. The right size is, usually, dense clusters of about 5-8, networked into larger communities of about 50. It is the only size that has ever sustainably worked, and it worked for a million years.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.11 pm

What talking you and so long winded? Very free is it?

Anonymous said...

i also no understand. aiyah, we not elite we lesser botak so no understand. wait for elites to explain than maybe under can stand lah.

kwayteowman said...

Simple question for you: do you believe that Singaporeans (and perhaps the PRs) are of superior stock compared to people of other countries? :-P

Anonymous said...

If im not wrong,the elitist PR looks at how stupid singaporeans are thinking that we are so lucky with all the material comforts but fail to make the best out of it.

Most of the them liken their home country than singapore anyway. They are temporary residents in singapore. It's their illusion of home.

Anonymous said...

another great article mythbuster lucky,
you've busted out the myth of pap.

FA said...

Speaking as a minority race Singaporean, elitism is bad, racism is worse, but when elitism and racism combine, it is a human tragedy. Refer to Lily Zubaidah’s and Michael Barr’s writings.

It is perhaps the greatest of all ironies that the majority Chinese Singaporean citizens are now themselves subject to a new form of racism favouring “foreign talents”.

What goes around, comes around.

Anonymous said...

kwayteowman said...

Simple question for you: do you believe that Singaporeans (and perhaps the PRs) are of superior stock compared to people of other countries? :-P
11:14 PM



Define 'superior stock'. Learned and better educated? Progressive and more enlightened intellect?

But it isn't about stock. It is about what defines a nation. The meaning of nationhood. You think of stock if the nation is simply a corporation, free to hire and fire workers without obligations.

King Greg said...

Wah lau eh, the green green astroturf of home!

I see that kay-kway teow man, that kay-kay hawker is back to give us his kay-kay glass loot opinion again.

Kay glassloot, ang moh jiah cherloot!

Only a kay-hawker like him can suddenly twist the discussion to talk about "superior stock" of Singaporean and PR (what talking you?) while purposely ignoring the key issues of governmental arrogance, social (in)cohesiveness and cultural (dis)integration.

Steady Poon-Peep-Peep!

Anonymous said...

FA amuses me. So, he's glad that the local Chinese are now subject to a a new form of discrimination. Where does that put his own group then? Even further down the social ladder I guess.

I've come across Lily Zubaidah's works in uni and I agree with what she has mostly said about the institutionalised discrimination of Malays in Singapore. But, like Chee Soon Juan, her works are too caustic to attract a large audience.

Anonymous said...

Lucky,

This is a well-argued article spoken from the heart and mind. The momentum builds up gradually from the start to the middle, tapers off for a while and ends with a firm bang! Well orchestrated!

Certainly, if the ideas as spelt out here are taken to the field at by-elections and general elections the alternative parties could muster more votes and wins.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time we take the place of our feeble government and starts getting all rightful citizens of singapore to take responsibility for the future of our children.

The time is near and will come.

Bardic said...

Another good article from the Lucky one.

But for the unlucky lesser mortals, the time has come for to upturn the downturn, upsize the downsize, and up the lesser mortals and down with the immortals.

The trampled People must rise and the parasitic Elites must fall.

Anonymous said...

today, having a million dollar is really no big deal. how many can seriously retire or have peace of mind with a million dollar? but that won't stop people from striving towards their first million. after 50 years of nation building, we have only produced about 66000 millionaires.put that number into perspective against our population and that's about...0.02% of millionaires.

does that mean over 90% are working their asses off so less than 1% of our population can become financially liberated?

what kind of "swiss dream" is that?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.47 pm

So have you got your million already? In cash and liquid assets, excluding property, that is.

If not, don't say it is no big deal.

Anonymous said...

ask any ministers, they will tell you it is no big deal. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, if anything, we have to admit whoever's doing the spin doctoring is doing an excellent job - there are lot of S'poreans who are still very taken in by all the spin despite all we have to say online.

If there were anything I'd give the thumb up to the "top pay gets you top talent" it would be with the well-polished highly-coordinated team of spin doctors.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:43

couldn't agree with you more.
today, lau gold laments the missing between residents and his town consulars. well sir, i think the people are not particularly drawn to cleaning up your toilets and helping you spend money lah.

perhaps,when you get over yourself, the people may have a change of heart?

Anonymous said...

today, lau gold laments the missing LINK between residents and his town consulars. well sir, i think the people are not particularly drawn to cleaning up your toilets and helping you spend money lah.

perhaps,when you get over yourself, the people may have a change of heart?

Anonymous said...

""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.""

In Singapore's context, dylexia is one who can speak their mind Dishonestly all the time without blinking. We all seen how the Lees suffered from the dylexic defect. Peanut's husband once said Lees' family is exceptional family.

Like the Kims of North Korea, the Than Shwe of Myanmar, Marcos of Phillphines, Chen Swee Bian of Taiwan, Suharto of Indonesia, Rafsanjani of Iran,,, they all have exceptional families and friends cronies.

Anonymous said...

apparently, the young are taking wings. lau gold is concern about their flight of fancy. hehe. my my, looks like the number is quite substantial.

hmmm...me think, people just need room to...breathe. why, with the H1N1, there is no mountains or no homes on unending beaches to hide. what more, an economic invasion by foreigners...aiyoh, lau goh, whose fault ah? hehe


has the builder of a nation finally becomes the destroyer of his nation?

Anonymous said...

interesting. there was a report on giving, the solo kind, done by...kids. well, check out kids pic. quite hip yah? hehe

then, today, kids gourmet. they have graduated from junk food to... fine dinning. hehe. that's progress, for rich kids yah?

and kids invading malls. wow. they are hoping these kids will be cash cows. hehe

yah...all about our kids.hehe.

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auntielucia said...

Lucky's England cld do with some editing ;) Hope this is his only shaky ground...

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DawnwGYT said...

Well, if anything, we have to admit whoever's doing the spin doctoring is doing an excellent job - there are lot of S'poreans who are still very taken in by all the spin despite all we have to say online. If there were anything I'd give the thumb up to the "top pay gets you top talent" it would be with the well-polished highly-coordinated team of spin doctors.

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