Below is written by CHARLES CHOW ( classmate of Shanmugam in RI)
Why I think societies need to neuter excessive state power…
Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton). He observed that a person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases.
I believe during the time of Acton (died 1902), corruption was raw and direct. Today, many so-called first world nations – led by the US – has invented legal and subtle corruption that is just as ruinous as third world direct corruption (as a thought experiment, can you think of Singapore examples?).
What are the three instruments for wielding and enforcing power? (J K Galbraith – The Anatomy of Power).
1. Condign power compels submission by threatening adverse consequences (POFMA and legal suits)
2. Compensatory power seduces submission by rewarding the individual so submitting (grass root business deals and gravy train for loyal cadres).
3. Conditional power encourages submission through a slow process of persuasion, education and changing beliefs (social conditioning).
Since LKY, the government has wielded and enforced all three types of power. The gradual acceptance of such a power structure is the result of social conditioning over a long period of time. Singaporeans have been socially engineered for so long that we are like fleas in the experimental jar without realising it. The HDB program, couched in benevolent terms, is one of the greatest social conditioning success experiments made by a government in the world (Chris Tremewan – The Political Economy of Social Control in Singapore).
The three prerequisites of power are
Without some or all of these above attributes, there can be no ability to exercise power. The instruments by which power is exercised and the sources of the right to such exercise are interrelated in a complex fashion.
From the perspective of Singapore, LKY represented power persona. LKY was a globally respected statesman and had a commanding personality which was associated with absolute power. After his passing, it is unlikely we will see another power persona like LKY.
LKY left behind a powerful PAP machinery that controls an enormous amount of state wealth like Temasek, GIC, GLCs, 80-90 percent of all Singapore’s available land, mandatory CPF contributions of citizens and PRs – all channelled into the state wealth system.
In the context of organizational power, the PAP-led government has the most sophisticated political machinery that has ever been conceived in a parliamentary democracy system (the public housing upgrading scheme, the grassroots organizations and the group representation constituency system, just to name a few). No other developed democracies come close to it.
Could the control of massive state wealth and organisational power by the PAP today offset the void in LKY’s personality power? Arguably, the PAP today still have close to complete power (condign, compensatory and conditional).
In the broad scheme of things, has unquestioned political power in Singapore been put to good use? Probably.
From a near zero economic base in 1965, the PAP government has provided jobs, homes, healthcare, recreational facilities, excellent transport systems, safety and security, good education and opportunities for all.
However, Singapore’s feigned meritocratic system has disproportionately rewarded brains far more than brawn and drove a gapping elitist wedge between overpaid bullshit jobs (David Graeber – Bullshit Jobs) and underpaid essential jobs.
But as imperfect human beings, can the pursuit of power be a completely selfless act?
In every society (and throughout history), the exercise of power is profoundly enjoyed. “The love of power is the love of ourselves” (William Hazlitt).
Who would not enjoy being a guest-of-honour at dinners and banquets, applauded speeches, riding with motorcades, walking with body guards and enjoying all the perks and special treatments that come with the possession of power?
Even LKY openly admitted that from his tailor to shoemaker, car salesman or the maker of his heart stent, every merchant he dealt with gave him an inside track. It helped their business to have him as a customer. Such is the reality of life, power, fame and influence.
How do societies mitigate against even an accidental, if not intentional abuse of power by people in power?
We live in a narrow corridor to liberty (Acemoglu and Robinson).
For a country to be great, both state and society must be strong. A strong state is needed to control violence, enforce laws and provide public services critical for a life which people are empowered to make and pursue their choices (The Narrow Corridor, 2019).
On the other hand, a strong mobilised society is needed to control and shackle the strong state. Without society’s vigilance, constitutions and guarantees given by the state or the elites controlling it are not worth much more than the parchment they are written on (we saw how the constitution in Singapore was easily twisted for the recent presidential election) .
A strong state will, over time, bring to bear its power through fear, repression and censorship. A weak state will, over time, lead to violence and lawlessness.
It is in this narrow corridor that the state and society balance each other out.
The question Singaporeans should ask ourselves is how far have we deviated from this narrow corridor?
The answer is that we have deviated very far for our own good. We need far greater checks and balance than we currently have.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep. Matthew 18:13-15. My God does not discriminate against anyone based on your color of your skin, your religion, rich or poor, or the jobs you does, every creation is made by God even if you have disabilities and every life is precious in God’s eyes. Everyone is given a choice to chose your own governments and also your religion and God does not interfere in that. In 2020 you will see everything come together to form the Perfect World and the Perfect Economy and the odds are in trillions and trillions to one so no one can claim credit except my God.
There are tons of issues the average Singaporeans did not see but thru my watchful eyes, all changed when LKY died when a new direction is chartered by LHL which screws every Singaporean to become slaves to the dictator, now is the time for change, the majority in Parliament the PAP enjoys will be taken away, and I am capable to fix all the mess they leave behind. On 11th July after all the votes are counted after 12 midnight, the PAP government loses a majority by just a few percent, and I make sure every Singaporean will get their CPF monies back at 55 within 5 years to do as you please. Contributed by Oogle.
50 reasons why I hate PAP. By Andrew Lee.
1. PAP rigged the economy to favor the rich, powerful, and well-connected, thereby widening the income inequality gap between rich and poor Singaporeans. Our country is rich but for a minority privileged few. Imagine, the bottom 10% worker income is about $7/hr, the average worker about $25/hr, and the top 10% worker is $300/hr.
2. With no minimum wage policy, there is negative real wage growth over the last 15 years. For political reasons, PAP prefers paying wage subsidies instead of implementing a minimum wage scheme.
3. PAP had failed miserably in trying to solve the low productivity of the Singapore economy that still depends on cheap foreign labor.
4. PAP’s many dismay social policies are the main cause of Singapore’s Low Birth Rate, albeit started by LKY’s Stop @ 2 policy.
5. The sharp rise in the costs of living, housing, education, healthcare, and transport making Singapore the most expensive city to live in. GST to be raised to 9% between 2021 -2025.
6. (3), (4) and (5) resulted in a lower standard of living for Singaporeans. You can forget about GCT’s Swiss Standard of Living and his FIFA World Cup goal. All BS! Post note: Lau Goh now retired to enjoy his Swiss Standard of Living.
7. PAP initially kept secret its pro-foreign businesses and labor policies because it knew it was screwing Singaporeans. Out of 3.8 million workforces in Singapore, 1.5 million (40%) are foreigners.
8. The CECA 2005 trade agreement with India allows unlimited inflow of cheap professionals with dubious qualifications and experiences to easily work in Singapore, thereby inevitably depressing wages and stole jobs of local professionals (PMET) and forcing many of them to become Grab/Taxi drivers. In return, India allows only GLC (Govt. Linked Companies) to invest in big projects there with no benefits to local Singaporeans.
9. Foreigners taking jobs away from Singaporeans when these foreigners are willing to accept wages as low as $500/month with housing, transport, and food provided. Can a Singaporean family survive at this wage or even $1000/month with HDB mortgages, food, transport, utilities, children’s education, and health care expenses?.
10. Foreign students taking away places in local schools and universities that could have gone to Singaporeans.
11. Do you know that all SAP and autonomous schools are required by MOE to recruit a certain number of China students as scholars each year? These China scholars’ school fees and lodging are fully paid for and they do not have to serve any bonds.
12. 70% of Government scholars break their bond wasting taxpayers’ money.
13. Teachers leaving the profession as they felt overworked, overstressed, and underpaid.
14. PAP broke a promise to payout CPF on retirement at 55. With no CPF money in hand at retirement. elderly folks have to clean tables, collect cardboard & sweep roads (not for exercise) to survive in this most expensive city-state in the world.
15. PAP does not want to tell Singaporeans the actual cost of building HDB flats and selling land to its own citizens at market rates. HDB is, therefore, selling over-priced HDB flats (prices doubled over the last 5 years) and profiteering at the expense of Singaporeans.
16. GCT created a property bubble as part of its Asset Enhancement Scheme. In reality, after 99 yrs HDB flats have zero value.
17. CPF accounts depleted after paying for HDB flat.
18. Only in Singapore, people have to sell or downgrade their homes to retire or else work into the seventies of their life or death.
19. AIM scandal proved PAP is vicious and evil.
20. MBT (Moh Bow Tan) threw insults in Parliament instead of answering questions on the AIM Scandal.
21. PAP shamelessly encourages blatant double-standard routinely in policy enforcement like discriminately against low wage migrant workers compared to foreign talents and expatriates. Adding to my pax’s rant in hindsight, I think PAP’s MP broke C.B. rules go scotch free with no punishment while old uncle fined $300 for a similar offense.
22. A Singapore student is fined $400 for using an unmarked power outlet in MRT station but PAP grassroots leaders get free public parking coupons.
23. No conflict of interest when the Auditor General audit her husband’s Defence Ministry while he is a Senior Minister of State there.
24. Adverse accounting rating for PA financial reports and yet its CEO is slated to stand for G.E. as a new PAP candidate. Where is the credibility of this PAP person?.
25. Lim “Zorro” Swee Say said “we (PAP) are deaf to all criticism”.
26. PAP divides Singaporean for its own political agenda. We have no say in many things they did like the walk-over President. Only the PAP decides and it didn’t care as they are prepared to pay a political price. Rightly so as 70% endorsed them. Hubris!.
27. PAP’s 10 million population White Paper is flawed in many aspects. It’s primarily purpose is to boost GDP to enrich themselves as their salaries are pegged to GDP and also to provides more gambling chips for GIC and Temasek.
28. Many PAP MP abused their political positions to earns extra millions from directorships fee. The MP who has the most directorships in 2004 were Bukit Timah MP Wang Kai Yuen and Tampines GRC MP Ong Kian Min, each with 10 directorships. Most PAP MPs say no to cap on directorships. Why?.
29. To stay in power, PAP controls all trade unions, newspapers, radio, TV, People Association, Election Dept, and Presidency like in a dictatorship regime.
30. Frequent breakdowns of MRT and commuters suffered helplessly while a paper army general enjoys his million pay with no repercussions.
31. Failed privatization of public transport requiring billions in bailout and re-nationalization from Govt.
32. Public transport makes tens of millions each year, has frequent breakdowns, and gets $2b bailout from Government yet fares are raised.
33. PAP is out of touch with reality (Nasi Padang: $2.50 and Bandung: $0.50). PAP is an elitist party…for the rich and well connected. Vastly different from LKY’s era ministers who really cares for the poor and Singapore. PAP has lost its way.
34. Rampant corruption in the Civil Service – FAS, SCDF, MFA, NCB, MDA, NParks, CPIB but PAP swiped all accusations under the carpets.
35. Lack of foresight. In today’s context, Covid19 virus in foreign workers’ dormitories is unexpected.
36. Big dormitories owners and operators are mainly PAP’s lackeys. They make millions of dollars annually with horrendous over-crowded living quarters and when they flouted rules governing their businesses, MOM closed their eyes. COVID 19 opened their cans of worms.
37. PROMA is used arbitrarily to silence PAP critics.
38. PM’s wife’s salary is a State Secret.
39. Instead of answering questions on CPF, LHL prefers to sue a commoner for defamation.
40. Minister Edwin Tong’s salary of $1.3 is not enough to feed his family and GCT agreed that Ministers are not paid enough. He claimed that any person who earns less than a million annually is mediocre.
41. PAP MP guilty of overcharging client..no investigation nor reprimand.
42. Medishield Life: No subsidy for asset-rich, cash-poor Singaporeans.
43. No transparency. Nobody knows how much is in our National Reserve, how much losses in GIC & Temasek, GEO salary, etc…
44. Amend Constitution to deprive TCB of contesting, resulting in a walk-over President in a democratic country. Where is the legitimacy? Only a dictator could amend the constitution as he likes.
45. Abuse power to avoid demolishing 32 Oxley Road’s house for political reasons and use parliament with 90% own party members to defend own self.
46. Ownself check Ownself. Ownself Pay Ownself. Legal corruption.
47. Employ all sorts of dirty tricks to fix the Opposition in all G.E. like gerrymandering electoral boundaries and dissolving constituencies if Opposition nearly won like Joo Chiat SMC in 2011 G.E. The dirtiest trick is abusing GRC to coattail untested and rejected candidates into parliament, some of whom became ministers. Isn’t this a devilish diversion from the original purpose of GRC to entrench minority representation in parliament?
48. Cleverly using citizens’ money in Singapore’s Reserve to give generous cash handouts in a pre-determined G.E. to buy votes but deceived the uninitiated that the handouts are PAP’s sincere efforts to help them tie over the pandemic.
49. Give easy citizenship to foreigners to ensure 100% PAP’s Parliament with this guaranteed New Citizens’ votes. NS men still dying while FTs new citizens do not do NS.
50. Finally, PAP employs fear tactics to stay in power for decades.
They say without PAP, Singapore will collapse.
you’ll lose your job,
the value of your flat will drop,
your sister and daughter will become a maid in other countries,
your estate will become a slum,
will sue you till your pant drops,
label you a traitor, if you’re a loving critic like Alfian Sa’at.
I’m a loyal Singaporean in my twilight years.