questioned the future of Singapore.

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questioned the future of Singapore.

Postby raysusan » Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:15 am

The Straits Times Editor at Large Han Fook Kwang wrote a commentary in The Sunday Times on January 11 and questioned the future of Singapore.

"Happy 50th, Singapore?" he pondered.

"As Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary, these and other questions are beginning to surface, not just in housing, but in many other areas," he said.

Mr Han was referring to a flat at the Pinnacle@Duxton which was sold for $900,000 earlier this month when the owner had paid $340,000 for it in 2004.

"But - and at the risk of spoiling this birthday party - the transaction also raises many other questions that trouble many people at this stage in Singapore's development, Mr Han asked.

"Should public housing even in the resale market be so expensively priced?

"Should it change hands so easily, profitting the seller so handsomely in such a short period, and at the same time condemning the buyer to possibly a lifetime of debt?

"Is it a source of pride to have Singaporeans living in million-dollar homes?

"Or does it say much about the sort of society it has become where everything, including your home, is measured mainly in dollar terms?" Mr Han asked.

"If everyone lives in million-dollar homes, does it mean we are all better off?

"If not, what should housing policies try to achieve?

Mr Han also questioned the government's economic policies.

"After almost 50 years of economic success founded on being open to foreign multinational corporations, is the old formula still relevant or does it need a major overhaul?"

"Has the Government's restructuring exercise, now in its fifth year, aggravated the problem, and are changes needed in the way it is carried out?

Mr Han asked if "Singapore companies will lose their competitiveness, resulting in business closures and job losses."

"More important, are the present difficulties temporary and a result of weaknesses in the global economy or are they structural, requiring fundamental changes in economic direction and policies?

But Mr Han said that the "harder" questions "are to be found on the political front".

"Most have to do with how the ruling party adapts and changes in response to a more demanding electorate that believes a stronger Opposition presence is good for the country," he said.

"Questions are being asked about the People's Action Party's longevity and how long its dominance will last."

But Mr Han continued along to fear-based mindset of how change needs to be "stable and secure".

"How can Singapore make this political transition in a stable and secure way that does not undermine the well-being of its people?" he asked.

"Some worry that too many of these questions - including those on immigration, health care, welfare, retirement and transport - are cropping up at the same time even as the country celebrates its half centenary," he also said.

"Is it a sign that things are falling apart?"

But Mr Han also blamed the Internet for exaggerating these worries.

"If you read some of the online postings, you might think so, that the end is nigh, and it's all the Government's fault.

"That is, of course, far-fetched."

And he seemed to sound like a PAP-apologetic.



"In fact, it would be unusual if, after 50 years, the same policies remain unchanged and the population continues to be unquestioning and subdued.

"Singapore isn't a stagnant nation.

"Policies and strategies need to change as circumstances alter and new needs and demands arise.

"The angst and unease that seem prevalent today and which might appear overwhelming at times are part of this healthy transition that Singapore is undergoing.

"Far better to be in this state than to be inert, unconcerned and afraid."

However, as much as Mr Han asked some pertinent questions, he falls short of hitting at the root problem.

Even as it is true that the "angst and unease" is part of a "healthy transition", Mr Han failed to explain that the "unease" has also arose from depressed wages, the rising cost of living and higher prices, and a rising poverty level to an estimated 30 percent of the population and exacerbated income inequalities.

Mr Han made an attempt to talk about escalated housing prices and an economic restructuring that is low overdue and correctly asked if changes are needed in the government's approach.

However, where he would describe the "angst" of Singaporeans as a "transition" without realising the cause of this which is rooted in the poorer socioeconomic circumstance of the people, Mr Han's critique still falls short.

Moreover, Mr Han held back and thinks that it is "far-fetched" to pin the blame of Singapore's problems on the government.

Yet, where the depressed wages are caused by a lack of decisive policy on minimum wage and independent labour unions and where prices have been driven up by the government's unilateral control of the major companies and the large part of the economy in Singapore, many would disagree with Mr Han's assessment that the government should not be faulted.

In end, Mr Han said: "My hope in this jubilee year is that arising out of all these discussions, a better society will emerge, one that has been shaped by the common experience of dealing with these challenges."

But indeed so, Mr Han is right - it is time Singapore needs to be shaped by the "common experience" of Singaporeans where a consensus approach is taken to run the country, and not just by a few in the ruling party.

Perhaps this is also where Mr Han does not take his criticism far enough. The "common experience" that Mr Han is calling for is exactly what the current ruling party, the PAP has been resistant towards and as long as the government which Mr Han does not want to fault continues to maintain its approach, the "common experience" that Mr Han hopes for will be a pipe dream.


anyone read this on st on 11jan?

raysusan
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Re: questioned the future of Singapore.

Postby dolphinsiah » Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:31 am

raysusan wrote:
anyone read this on st on 11jan?


Missed this article :oops:

But I guess Singapore like all Developed Countries are always faced with similar issues....

I just know Change is constant...nothing is permanent... :evil:

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Re: questioned the future of Singapore.

Postby jetsetter » Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:45 am

what about the opinion piece, raysusan? Your take, please?

And pls quote source of this commentary on Han FK's article too :) Roy wrote it for TRS?

Image
(SunT, 11 Jan, p33).

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Re: questioned the future of Singapore.

Postby jetsetter » Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:38 am

dolphinsiah wrote:
raysusan wrote:
anyone read this on st on 11jan?


Missed this article :oops:

But I guess Singapore like all Developed Countries are always faced with similar issues....

I just know Change is constant...nothing is permanent... :evil:


I think you nailed the first key message by HFK.

Second would be his hope to see a more confident and developed people who want to explore different ways to improve our lives and be actively involved in the process, i.e. be a questioning people. SG50 should be celebrating the spirit of questioning.

"And he seemed to sound like a PAP-apologetic. " - Roy

Nope, HFK is not being PAP-apologetic. He can be quite critical and candid abt G's flaws at times. Doesn't toe the line like his successor WF. He is just musing...

"Perhaps this is also where Mr Han does not take his criticism far enough. "- Roy

Eh, but HFK isn't offering answers and has no intention to, so Roy shouldn't expect any from this opinion piece. Whole piece is full of rhetorical questions, yet offering no definite answers or solutions.

"Mr Han failed to explain that the "unease" has also arose from depressed wages, the rising cost of living and higher prices, and a rising poverty level to an estimated 30 percent of the population and exacerbated income inequalities. " - Roy

Whole idea is to prompt readers to think and question. That, HFK has succeeded, as reader Roy indeed goes on to highlight some factors that could have contributed to the "unease". No where does HFK say these aren't contributing factors, right?

"But Mr Han also blamed the Internet for exaggerating these worries. " - Roy

Nah, HFK isn't blaming the Internet for making things fall apart. On the contrary, HFK thinks it's far-fetched and that it would be unusual if the same policies remain unchanged and the population continues to be unquestioning and subdued.

"Yet, where the depressed wages are caused by a lack of decisive policy on minimum wage and independent labour unions and where prices have been driven up by the government's unilateral control of the major companies and the large part of the economy in Singapore, many would disagree with Mr Han's assessment that the government should not be faulted."-Roy

Don't think HFK talks about minimum wage and unions being non-indepedent at all. He is writing in general so why should readers disagree or agree with his assessment that the G shdn't be faulted? Hmmm...He isn't assessing the pros and cons of these policies; nor is he criticising the G. Only the opponents will see it that way. All HFK is saying is, change is normal. Singaporeans should learn to ask questions.

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