Singaporeans are not idiots Part 2

Sense And Nonsense - by Tan Bah Bah

6587

 

Let’s continue with DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s Singaporeans are not morons conversation. I reiterate, we are not fools. Now, where are we this week?

We are at what I would describe as a curious juncture. Everyone seem to be talking at cross purposes. It is like we are all living in silos or bubbles and are shutting our ears and eyes to what the talk or situation is outside the Istana or away from where Singapore’s top leaders blissfully do their work or socialise.

Suddenly, there is a highly publicised “clarification” from Tharman that the People’s Action Party did not engage in gutter politics against Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan when it raised questions about character during the Bukit Batok by-election last year. The DPM said he never  agreed with the view that the PAP was engaging in gutter politics: “This is not what I said, and not what I believe…I stand by what the PAP and my colleagues said. The PAP was not engaging in gutter politics.”

What feedback has Tharman been getting from the government machinery? Who has been raising this issue so quickly after the NTU Majulah Lecture a week ago? Not in any of the main social media channels that I know. But I checked and discovered a blog by someone called Kenneth who said he brought up the question, among others, at the NTU lecture.  Kenneth commented on the answer:  “I’m glad to hear that Mr Tharman has, for the first time, disavowed the gutter politics and mudslinging utilised by his colleagues during election campaigns.” Chee himself has only just reacted, predictably to disagree with Tharman.

I got it. The DPM had to get back because there was an implication by Kenneth that Tharman was distancing himself from his party colleagues. Power to Kenneth, whoever he is.

So we all live in our own world. Tharman was talking about something that the so-called responsible state-controlled media did little to clarify because they have taken it upon themselves to be the arbiter of what they decide is important or not important for unintelligent Singaporeans to know.

We are not all on the same length. And, as a good example of this Great Singapore Non-Dialogue, we need go no further than Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s detailed defence of the government’s decision to push for the Malays-only Presidential Election.

Again, we get this picture of a heroic administration willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the country’s future. PM Lee said he knew it would be unpopular and would cost his party votes: “I did it because I strongly believe, and still do, that this is the right thing to do.”

All this is a massive (and intentional?) diversion from the real issue – the unhappiness felt by many Singaporeans that the just concluded PE was simply and cleverly to prevent Dr Tan Cheng Bock from taking part in a normal PE, with all the risk (to the establishment) of his becoming our Eighth President instead of the anointed Madame Halimah Yacob. The reserved PE could just have been postponed to 2022. As it is, the government has lost the moral high ground.

It is quite bizarre and Alice In Wonderlandish. There’s PM Lee talking about one thing – and the rest of Singapore about another. One of these days, we will all wake up and decide we don’t want to be part of all this ongoing wayang kulit. And that would be either a rude or good awakening, depending on who you are.

But there are some signs that mainstream media may be waking up into 21st century Singapore.

On Thursday, The Straits Times carried excerpts of an interesting lecture by New York Times columnist Bret Stephens delivered at the Lowry Institute Media Award dinner in Sydney, Australia. It was on The Dying Art of Disagreement. At the risk of oversimplifying the subject, this is what he says: “Every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea. Socrates quarrels with Homer. Aristotle quarrels with Plato. Locke quarrels with Hobbes and Rousseau quarrels with them both. Nietzsche quarrels with everyone.  Wittgenstein quarrels with himself.” So we must learn to accept and embrace disagreement in civilised society as the way to move forward.

And it gets even more interesting when he talks about the role of the media: It “requires proprietors and publishers who understand that their role ought not be to push a party line or be slave to Google hits and Facebook ads or to provide a titillating kind of news entertainment – or to help out a president or prime minister who they favour or who’s in trouble.”

Their role is “to clarify the terms of debate by championing aggressive and objective news reporting and improve the quality of debate with commentary that opens minds and challenges assumptions rather than merely confirming them.”

And, to confirm and double confirm that dawn may yet be upon us poor Singaporeans, The Straits Times ended its editorial on arts funding on Thursday with this hearty declaration: “A culture of seeking approval from above would hardly produce a breed of people who are given to thinking out of the box.”

Amen.  Can’t agree more.

Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.

Get the latest news, opinions and commentaries. Available on Android  

44 comments

  1. Are Singaporeans fools???
    The elite politicians who have lots of head knowledge, power and honour but lack wisdom because of unethical issue which happened recently!
    Are Singaporeans morons to be denied the rights to vote for our President after six long years of waiting to cast a sovereign vote???
    Lots of netizens have high regards of Tharman but now with feedback from Baba Tan, Tharman is actually a dumb goose that has two big wings but unable to fly !!!
    The arrogant white monkeys who have no compassion are living in their own world of craftiness!!! They never put into practice what they had preached during each General election rallies!!!

  2. Lim LG says:

    PLS READ THIS

    THIS FT CRONY LEAKED IMPORTANT INFORMATION WHEN HE WAS IN MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, WHO WAS CHARGED FOR VIOLATING THE OFFICIAL SECRET ACT.

    AND YET HE CLAIMS THAT “IT DEFINES THAT PAP IS INSISTENCE ON HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND TRUE TO THE SINGAPOREANS”???????

    https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=TwKhBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=tharman+leaked+important+information+when+he+was+in+mas&source=bl&ots=i6eVwhAWn-&sig=xwqW944j2Ix1D1dLp0_2dZg3gkU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjOgpjPgM7WAhWL6Y8KHXHQBAgQ6AEIGjAE#v=onepage&q=tharman%20leaked%20important%20information%20when%20he%20was%20in%20mas&f=false

    NONE OF THE MIW CAN BE TRUSTED AT ALL.

    ALL OF THE MIW ONLY CARE FOR THEIR MILLION $ SALARIES AND HIGHEST PAID POLITICIAN SALARIES IN THE WORLD.

    THEY WOULDN’T DARE TO SPEAK AGAINST THEIR CONSCIENCE FOR FEAR OF BREAKING THEIR IRON RICE BOWLS $$$, $$$, $$$

    1. “In 1990, an incident occurred in a pre-cabinet meeting which was the beginning of entrenching further among the many in the core executive, resistance to Lee Hsien Loong’s long term ambitions for prime ministership. Prior to this meeting Lee Hsien Loong had gone to the office of Richard Hu, the Minister of Finance, and removed a number of files without Hu’s permission. At that time Lee’s office was on the 48th floor of what is now Temasek Tower and Hu’s was on the 50th floor.
      At the pre-cabinet meeting Hu took Lee to task for doing this and was supported by Tony Tan. Lee’s response was aggressive and insulting, he directly insulted Tan and Hu, a man of his father’s age. This was a double insult to Hu, who was Lee’s superior in cabinet and a person of an age who should of itself deserve respect in Chinese society. Suppiah Dhanabalan intervened and chastised Lee for his behaviour, demanding that he apologise to Hu, withdraw his remarks and not interfere in other minister’s portfolios. A heated exchange occurred into which a number of other issues intruded and eventually Lee lost his temper, and reportedly reached across the table and slapped Dhanabalan across the face.”

  3. This is a Govt which didnt hesitate to stab its own citizens to win election. Now Selected President saga reaffirmed their party culture. To do that they must be thinking Sporeans are fools which is true for 70%.

  4. The G after years of lips service to singaporean believe singaporean are fools n not smart , only the FT n the people they choose are smart people, must use tax payer $ pay upper world class to keep them .

  5. Sometimes I wonder what are elected representatives or so-called MPs are for?? To serve and represent their electorate or to propound and force their views and opinions down the throats of citizens??? It looks like our elected reps are living in their own world from their electorate.
    Dishonourable Son stop abusing your citizens. Address their unhappiness. You were not elected to cater to your own whims and fancies. Soon there may be a rude awakening if your electorate wise up to what has been happening to them!!!!
    I Hope!!!!

    1. Terrie Tan says:

      We as electorate need to be more forceful and show MPs we’re not pushovers. As you correctly pointed out, they work for us as our representatives. Lobby them. Make them work!

  6. Tan bah bah
    Leave them enough rope to hang themselves. Don’t criticize them and warn them as they harm bearers of bad news.
    Just sit back and watch. Oxleygate and PE scandal just the beginning

  7. Let us now make something very clear:

    Tar Man was preferred by many of us, REGARDLESS OF OUR RACE OR RELIGION, to be our next prime minister. It was because of his recognised stature, capability and temperament.

    But after his COWARDLY retraction of what he said, if he loses favour in the coming day, we must remember it is NOT because of his race or religion. It is because he’s just like the others, barking on his master’s command

    1. Lim LG says:

      PLS READ THIS

      THIS FT CRONY LEAKED IMPORTANT INFORMATION WHEN HE WAS IN MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, WHO WAS CHARGED FOR VIOLATING THE OFFICIAL SECRET ACT.

      AND YET HE CLAIMS THAT “IT DEFINES THAT PAP IS INSISTENCE ON HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND TRUE TO THE SINGAPOREANS”???????

      https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=TwKhBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=tharman+leaked+important+information+when+he+was+in+mas&source=bl&ots=i6eVwhAWn-&sig=xwqW944j2Ix1D1dLp0_2dZg3gkU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjOgpjPgM7WAhWL6Y8KHXHQBAgQ6AEIGjAE#v=onepage&q=tharman%20leaked%20important%20information%20when%20he%20was%20in%20mas&f=false

      NONE OF THE MIW CAN BE TRUSTED AT ALL.

      ALL OF THE MIW ONLY CARE FOR THEIR MILLION $ SALARIES AND HIGHEST PAID POLITICIAN SALARIES IN THE WORLD.

      THEY WOULDN’T DARE TO SPEAK AGAINST THEIR CONSCIENCE FOR FEAR OF BREAKING THEIR IRON RICE BOWLS $$$, $$$, $$$

  8. Rey Lee says:

    There are many PhD holders than our ministers in Sg. Just that they are either more interested in helping mankind, not able to get into their “good books”, not interested in politics etc etc.

  9. Ahmah Zing says:

    Dishonorable son should stop talking like he is very smart. He should not confuse the smartness of his father and think that he is also like him and singaporeans will accord the same respect to him. He do not have a monopoly on wisdom and in fact has shown through the siblings incident and now the PE fiasco that he is living in his own world, thinking that he speaks like his father.

    1. Yup. He is not his Father. He is just useless at managing and leading this country. He should give way to more capable people. Open to competition. He is outdated. If he continue like this, singapore will die under his hands

  10. Problem is not only what feedback Tharman has been getting from the government machinery. Biggest problem is what “feedback” we the people here have been getting from the wannabe “God” lately.

Comments are closed.