Thursday, May 21, 2015

Point by point Response to my Skeptics on PPP

My response I have put up on TRE
I thank you for all of your comments here. Most of your questions or concerns have been answered or covered in my video interview with TOC. Please wait for the release of the video for more detailed answers.
I am also writing a Chinese article on my blog, to put up the full perspective of my thoughts and political path I have chosen.
In short replies to all the criticism here, these are my main points:
1) I have plunged into opposition politics in 2001 because I felt the urgency to do so in view of the dangerous situation of the possibility of total wipe out of opposition back then. All other people like Sylvia Lim, Yaw Shin Leong, James Gomez,Lee Wai Leng etc all felt the same. There is nothing opportunistic about it.
2) We have the aim of breaking PAP's monopoly of power by first breaching the GRC fortress and secondly, depriving PAP two third majority.
3) I left WP because of the little mistake I made and also because I felt strongly that individual member should continue to learn to deal with new media effectively. Tilik has also left WP subsequently.
4) Nevertheless I have learned all the good practices from WP and subsequently, applied and experimented these in NSP with great success.
5) After GE2011, Hazel wanted to take over NSP SG post. Although I think it is really a bad idea but I finally agreed. In view of the overall good results of GE2011 for all opposition parties with WP achieving the First goal of breaching the GRC fortress, I believed opposition could achieve the second goal of one third seats pretty quickly. Thus, I decided to take a back seat and a sabbatical from frontline politics.
6) However, it was not long before WP got into a series of problems. These have inevitably shaken confidence of the middle ground voters in opposition.
7) NSP on the other hand, has also faced internal problems, resulting in the departure of Nicole Seah and Jeannette with some others. Many NSP members wanted me to go back to NSP initially but the mismanagement of the party has caused irreversible harm which I could not mend.
8) There are other parties inviting me to join. But I do not want to disrupt their management at this point of time.
9) I have decided to return to opposition politics because there is a real danger and possibility that a regression of the initial goals might just happened.
10) Rest be assured that I won't be contesting against WP in Aljunied. I am not someone who will rob the victims in the fire, even though I am intolerable of some of the things happening there.
11) On the other hand, in view of the Post-LKY era, it is an opportunity to initiate a full political discourse on whether the current system of concentration of power is sustainable or good for Singapore's stability in the long run.
12) We also need to rethink how Singapore should be governed differently, in a more balanced way.
13) Thus People's Power Party is created for a combination of reasons in need for the continue development of Singapore's democratic process.
Goh Meng Seng

Monday, May 11, 2015

Do it Right for the People

I have written three little stories about my younger days and they may seem not to have any connections to anything but they do point to something very important and relevant to us now.

The three articles are as follows:

1) My Little Secret of My Past
2) My Wild Days
3) The Little Illegal Hawker in Politics

These articles sum up something very fundamental about me, the Core Values I hold as a person, as well as my empathy towards many people, especially towards Amos Yee.

These stories may not be unique to many of you out there, most likely sound rather familiar to many of you one way or another, and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of our past. We live our lives as it is, the little mischievous things we did in our young wild days and the little battles we fought along our path of growing up. These are our footprints in life, big or small.

It is sad that PAP MPs and people are trying so hard to show how "NORMAL" they are, how "poor" they were in order to strike resonance with all of us. They got it wrong there. It is NOT some SOB Stories we need to come to the conclusions that they are one of us, they are like us. It is the VALUES which they hold and the EMPATHY or rather, the lack of all these, which make us think they are truly disconnected from the whole lot of us.

Their actions now, speak louder than their SOB stories. Their inability to empathize with us is glaring in their attempt to destroy the life of a naughty boy like Amos Yee. Didn't they have a REAL LIFE of wild days during their youthful days?

To be able to appreciate idealism, strong sense of social justice and upright characters is a blessing because most people most probably would have been too "corrupted" with the reality in life to view such as "naive youthful highfalutin idealism" after they grew older.

Even for someone like PM Lee, I would expect him to have his fair share of mischievous wild days of fun with distinct rebellious nature of youth, else, I am sad to say that, he has not lived his life well at all!

Ironically, I would say those who reported police over such trivial things done by a mischievous little boy are as mischievous, if not more as Amos Yee himself. No mature and sensible adults would have taken such mischievous acts by a little boy too seriously. They seriously have misplaced self righteousness.

Serious people will fight seriously for injustice or unfair treatments or welfare of the people generally at large. Just like I protested and fought for the mischievous student who might have his life destroyed by that police report made by the disciplinary master, or just pure angry retaliation against big bullies who bullied my friend. And serious people will fight on the matter of principles to defend the rights of democracy and its processes.

In contrast, only petty people fought against and find faults with a little mischievous boy. Yet, PAP people are trying to convince us that they are just like us... Is that a mischievous attempt to make us laugh?

The little illegal hawker in politics

It seems that PAP MPs and people are starting to showcase themselves as the "ordinary poor folks" in their bid to gain trust from common voters, basically saying "we are just like you". Citing their "poor family background" is their best attempt in trying to "get connect" to Singaporeans at large, despite the fact that they are so well paid nowadays.

Well I don't think they could ever "beat me" on putting up sad stories of their poor past. Living in rental flat is really nothing but imagine if a family of 10 squeezing into a rental flat with only 1 bed room? That's how my family lived in the 1970s.

My dad was a taxi driver but his income couldn't possibly cope with the family expenses. My parents failed to get a proper hawker license after numerous N times trying. Thus, our family became the family of illegal hawkers!

I became the youngest illegal hawker in the family at the age of 5. I would help my mom and dad to set up our little road side store to sell Nasi Lemak, Kuey, Otah, Bee Hoon etc. Business started from 5.45am till 9am or even later, depending on sales. Sometimes, we have to just grab our goods and run when the "Earth Bull" (environment officers) made their rounds to try and catch us.

When I got older, I started to do my rounds with two baskets full of food to sell it at the 20 storey flat next to ours, walking through each and every floor, yelling out "Otah Otah Otah Kuey, Nasi Lemak". On lucky days, I could sell everything I brought in the two baskets! But that was hard work. However, this has prepared me for the tedious political legwork, going through the flats knocking on every door.

Even my Primary School's classmates became my customers after they have tasted my parents' Nasi Lemak! I would take orders periodically and then get my dad to send me to school along with my 10s or even 20s packets of Nasi Lemak! Up till today, my primary school friends still remembered fondly about eating that delicious Nasi Lemak which they bought from this little illegal hawker in class!

In 2010 when NEA tried to hinder NSP's political outreach of selling newspaper, they used "illegal hawking" as the charge against us. During the CEC discussion of whether to just pay the fine and move on, I put up my strongest objection to pay the fine. I was ready to fight it out in court. I gave my most angered and passionate argument in CEC that I have been an illegal hawker since young and the illegal hawking law is specifically used against people who sell food. This is to ensure that basic hygiene standards are met for food hawkers and responsibility can be extracted if anything went wrong with the food sold.

I lived my young life as illegal hawker and understand that such illegal hawking is committed out of unfortunate circumstances which is aimed to earn enough money for our livelihood, to feed the many mouths we have in our families.

However, what we do as a political party, is political grassroot work, not illegal hawking. We do not need to go illegal hawking to keep ourselves alive! Our activity is purely political activity, not mere hawking. Thus if PAP government wanted to charge us for illegal hawking, I am prepared to go to court and fight it out, knowing that we will lose but this will let the whole world know that PAP is actually run by dictator who does not believe in Democracy. It is a total farce to allow political parties to register but ban them from conducting their legitimate political activity!

I am glad we stood firm on this principle else if we really paid the fine it would mean that all opposition parties will have to stop their legitimate political activity altogether. After getting this basic fundamental principle drawn clearly, all opposition parties benefit from this saga as they will no longer get harassed by the authorities for "illegal hawking" when they go around selling their newspapers.

Sometimes I feel that as politicians, we will need to stand firm when we feel that people are treated unfairly by the State. In this case, if we were unwilling to even fight for our rights to carrying out legitimate political activities, how could we expect ourselves to fight for rights and welfare of Singaporeans at large?

#GohMengSeng

My Wild Days

When I first watched what Amos Yee said on YouTube, my first reactions were, Bo Tua Bo Shoi, no big no small, disrespectful with his barrage of vulgarity. This is even though I dislike Dictator like LKY, I still think what he has done was rude and disrespectful, crude.

But I do not feel what he has said is in any way sedition in nature.

Looking back at my younger days when I was at his age, I have my fair share of wild days. As expressed in my earlier post on my little secret of Unorthodox Hot Temper in my Primary School, strong characters and sense of Social Justice, I became more wild in River Valley.

I became the ACCIDENTAL Chairman of Student Council after the preceding Chairman was forced to resigned. On the outlook, I am the type quiet Mr Nice guy, obedient and never create trouble kind.I was Chosen by the discipline master to replace the Elected Chair and naturally, I resisted at first but accepted reluctantly eventually.

But this position didn't last long when the discipline master reported police over a case of vandalism whereby his car was scratched. He accused a student who was just disciplined by him for the crime.

I felt that was unacceptable when the police just arrested the student when there was just mere suspicion. This act would have ruined the life of this student if he would have a black mark on his record. Counselling should be the appropriate approach.

Anyway, I didn't confront the discipline master or principal directly. Just like Amos, I made use of the mass media but in a more subtle and sophisticated way.

I was a regular contributor to the young writer section of the Chinese papers Zaobao. I wrote a fictitious story which mock and insinuate the way of how the school authority handled this issue was totally unjust and inappropriate.

It was published and of course, my school's disciplinary Master wasn't that stupid and soon found out from his friend working in the papers that I was the one who wrote that article.

Eventually I resigned as the Chairman of Student Council and the rest is history.

Well, when I look back, I realize what I did back then wasn't that different from Amos, making use of the media to voice out the unhappiness of injustice. But we do not have internet nor YouTube and I wasn't rude at all, just naughty with that stink of sarcasm and mockery.

Yes, I believe most of us were wild before in our younger days. Just that time has changed and the mindset of the young ones nowadays is totally different from ours.

Who didn't have their wild days? 人不轻狂枉少年,if you Haven't been wild before, you must have wasted your youth. We just need to have that little bit of empathy towards the young people who have gone overboard in their wildness, light touch and most importantly educate and counsel them into taking the more proper path.

My Little Secret of My Past

Ok, since the PAP IBs have surfaced to show their impatience, I shall talk about this little secret of my past.

As you might have known, I come from a SAP school River Valley High but not many people know that I also come from a village Primary School which was full of gangsters. Incidentally, I just found out Lee Lilian is my junior from this Primary School!

I was usually a very quiet student indulging in my own world, thoughts and dreams. I might not be the top in class but my studies were pretty ok.

But there was another side of me and this was revealed by my FB friend. Beyond that "good student" look, I was and still am unorthodox and I have extremely hot temper back then.

The extremely strong sense of justice and fairness would invoke strong responses from my hot temper whenever injustice was uncovered.

Once, a little rascal gangster attacked a fellow friend and a prefect right after school on the street outside our school. My friend was pretty small size in body build and was hantum on the back. I raced towards the attacker and hit him back, gave chase after he tried to get away. My whole lot of prefects followed me and gave chase.

Well, naturally, the whole lot of us, almost all prefects, were called up by our discipline masters the next morning and were given a lengthy lecture, with hair being pulled and palms being hit by his ruler.... such punishment was considered "light" by any standards during that time!

But from that day onward, those little rascals from those gangster groups would stay away from us, the prefects, keeping a far distance while the leader of the pack, called for truce thereafter.

Ironically, I wasn't the head prefect but apparently, become the unorthodox leader of this group of prefects. I became the "Pai Kia" of the "Hor Kias"; "Gangster figurehead" of the "Good boys".

When I became the "accidental" Student Council Chairman in River Valley High, that great sense of "Social Justice" and Hot Headed Temper reigned again. But this time, with some sophistication. Let's leave this story for another time, another day.

This great sense of "Social Justice" has remained in me up till now, although my HOT Temper was subdued by my practice of Buddhism and meditation over the years.

But my "Cow Boy Pai Kia Ah Beng" character still has a great imprint on my characters nowadays, though mitigated with more wisdom and mindfulness. Beware if you want to provoke me; you may get that unorthodox backlash upon you if you really make me angry, although it is very difficult to achieve anger in me at my age.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

New Era of Political "Ground Work"

The Birth of New China was pushed by a Medical Doctor, Sun Yat Sen. Why would a Medical Doctor give up his medical practice and went into revolution? Dr Sun said, as a Medical Doctor, he could only heal the physical body of the people, but not the sufferings of people of China and the weakness of China. Thus he gave up his medical practice and turned into revolutionist who was determined to overthrow the Qing Dynasty to form the Republic, so to revolutionize China into a modern country.

However after his success of overthrowing the Qing Dynasty, he realized that the mindset of the general public was still stuck with the feudalistic system. Simple example like people still calling "万岁" (wishing 10000 years to the Emperor) and treating him like an Emperor. In fact, President Yuan wanted to revert back to Monarchy rule and declared himself as Emperor not long after Dr Sun stepped down to allow Yuan to succeed him as the President in compromise for setting up the Republic!

This is the historical lesson we should learn from the past. Revolutions or change of government will not be sustainable if the mindset of the general public has not changed. For any political contest, the tactical moves made to win seats is just a mere means to the bigger vision. You can swing public sentiments to support your party to win seats into parliament but without a strong fundamental foundation of mindset change, such victory will be short live.

Spreading of the ideas and ideals of Republic was slow and difficult in the early years of Dr Sun's success due to the lack of information infrastructure. But in this new era, social media and internet have revolutionalized political engagement and as opposition with little resources, we should make full use of such cheap, effective and efficient media to effect change of mindsets and political landscape.

Some people look down on the work of "keyboard warriors" but it is the combination of these "keyboard warriors" which has caused a rapid change of political landscapes in many countries, including Singapore.

There are people who accused politicians like me of "not doing ground work" as in physical knocking doors but little do they know that evangelism of political ideas through social media and internet is becoming more important to effect strong, fundamental change in voters' mindset. For example, the campaign on HDB prices would not be so effective if it is not for internet and social media.

"Political ground work" has a fundamental change from just a Public Relations and Visibility exercise like shaking hands and kissing babies on the ground to more time consuming political dialogues, intellectual engagement and political evangelism on the social media and internet.

This will become more important in the years to come whereby newbies will have to prove themselves by providing more convincing political views, debates and policy deliberation on the New media as voters are getting more educated and intellectually sophisticated.

Yes, there are still a substantial group of voters, mainly elderly voters, who will not log on to internet but their children and grand children with access to information from the internet will have great influence on them. The HDB debate was the greatest example in showing the enormous influence of social media.

Social media may be easily accessible, cheap, effective and efficient but it is still very time consuming. So please don't look down on the political work people do on social media in this era. The study which shows that Social Media has become equally influential as Main Stream Media has a lot implication on such political work on internet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Collapse of Meritocracy and Integrity under PAP Rule



When the Ceiling Gate Saga happened, PAP Minister was pointing to the sky and gave us a lecture of INTEGRITY. Well admittedly, somebody involved in Ceiling Gate saga must have lied and there is definitely some integrity problem.

But so far, we do not know who lied as WP didn't want to investigate thoroughly on the roles of their contractors and Managing Agent. On the other hand PAP didn't pursue the matter to investigate who is lying as well.

While the lecture of Integrity is still ringing in our heads, IDA was exposed to have employed a Foreign Talent with fake academic credential. It is a very serious matter as there was precedent whereby individual Singaporean was charged and jailed for using fake academic credential to look for jobs. It is more than just integrity problem and criminal issue here because such acts have great impact on our system of meritocracy.

If such dubious acts are somehow tolerated by a Government Statutory Board like IDA, it will send a big wrong signal that CHEATING in job seeking with fake degrees from degree mills is accepted as a norm in Singapore.

In fact this is not the first time such embarrassing thing has happened in Singapore. NUS has employed a lecturer in Medicine school from India who was found to have fake academic credentials and he was exposed in USA eventually.

I have always said that how can we consider people graduating from Third World countries universities as TALENTS if their universities were mostly unheard of? In Singapore our universities have rigorous curriculum and only the top 20% or 25% of our cohort can get in. But what we are experiencing is that our graduates from our very own universities are being replaced by people from dubious unknown universities in third world countries and worse, some even with FAKE Degrees from these places!

PAP Government didn't have any proper mechanism to screen out all these cheaters before they issue them employment passes or even PRs and subsequently citizenship!

And now we know even Government Statsboards like IDA and NUS have tolerated or even defended such glaring lapses!

How can we ever trust PAP Government again im upholding the system of Meritocracy and Integrity which our little Nation is founded on? Especially so when they have flooded our country with so many foreigners to compete with our citizens for jobs and limited resources? How many of these over two million FT are actually FAKE TALENTS and cheats?

With such prevailing snobbish attitude of the Government agencies we have, I won't be surprised as much as over 30% of these foreign migrants have fake degrees because MOM which is the gate keeper, just didn't do their job properly.

Do you still want to trust PAP Government again?

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Challenges in Post LKY-Era



Although I dislike and cannot forgive LKY for what he has done to our democratic system and I have decided not to mourn his death, but I have mixed feelings about his death. I am more worried about Singapore's survival and sustainability after his death.

First of all, the dictatorial system which he has built is not sustainable at all. It will need a "Philosophical King" to be at the helm. For any generation, the chance of having a Saint-Like "Philosophical King" is worse than playing lottery, least to have such PK to be placed at the top of the political leadership. Confucius, though highly regarded as a "Saint-like" philosopher and teacher in history, has never played any substantial political role of any big states during his era. Neither did Socrates or Plato, who had preached about the "Philosopher King" concept.


Thus, to depend on the current dictatorial system to bring us continuous stability, prosperity and most importantly, honesty in political management of the Nation, is totally irrational and unrealistic. We will need to build a full Democratic system with proper separation of powers to provide the necessary checks and balances.

The second worry on my mind is that we have lost a very important political leader who could garner respect and the necessary diplomatic network which will ensure Singapore, a small open economy state's interests, safety and stability to be guarded among the fluid and dynamic global situations.

At this moment, I cannot see anyone in PAP's current political leadership has that ability and global influence to fill the gap that LKY has left us. This may be the crucial and critical survival skill set our Nation is lacking for our survival.

Singapore's future may face a lot more uncertainties if our current political landscape doesn't change.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

李光耀 - 盖棺定论 (全)




李光耀 - 盖棺定论


缘起


每一位第一次到新加坡旅游或公干的人,多多少少都会对这个弹丸小国感到惊讶。每一条道路旁都排列着整齐的遮荫树木。整洁的城市规划加上守规矩的新加坡人一定会让许多人刮目相看。尤其是,新加坡有超过八成的人都住在政府所津贴售卖的公共房屋中,而四大种族都能和谐的群居在一起。这令许多外国人都非常羡慕。这种现象多少反映了新加坡政府的管治能力。当然,这也是累积了三代领导班子的成果。


外国人一提起新加坡就会很自然即刻想起李光耀先生。无可否认,在国际政治舞台上,李光耀是一颗耀眼的明星。许多不同时代的各国政要都对这来自蕞尔小国的大人物赞不绝口。他们对他以往的政治演说和国际时事的分析,更是洗耳恭听。几乎每个政治评论员都对他能在短短几十年内能为新加坡创造经济奇迹吹捧得非常厉害。就算是中国这样的泱泱大国,都有人追捧学习李光耀治国之道。更有人夸大其词的说没有李光耀新加坡就不可能从一个“小渔村”发展成第一世界国家等等。如果仔细研究李光耀从政的一生,我们就不难发觉,就算是把新加坡街道边的一草一木,甚至说“花园城市”这个美誉都跟他划成等号,这一点都不夸张。


在这一些众多的赞誉背后,隐藏着许多对李光耀非常不客气的批评。多数的批评都围绕着他是个独裁者。他在不同时期以不同的手法残酷迫害他的政敌和异议份子。更有一些华校生会永远对李光耀在1980代关闭南洋大学和消灭华文教育的行动耿耿于怀。也有人拿他和家族在1996年购买高级私人房产时收受特别折扣来批评他。


在批评他的人当中,不乏国际媒体著名的撰稿人。而李光耀对于这一些报纸、刊物和作者都给予沉重还击。他不只控告这一些对他肆意抨击的媒体和人物诽谤,还以行政和立法权力限制这一些媒体在新加坡的销售量,更剥夺他们在新加坡发行刊物放置广告以打击他们的收益。对于国内的异议分子,除了以内安法令逮捕,没经审讯任意监禁之外,也以诽谤罪和威吓对付他们。有不少反对党分子也因此破产而失去参于国会竞选的资格。也有不少异议分子被迫流放国外。


也许多数的伟大领袖都是如此具争议性的,而李光耀也不例外。李光耀对他人的种种批评,表面上不屑一顾,但事实上,他是非常在意他这一生所留下的声誉。这可以从他在生前不断出书自传,以他的观点解说历史上许多的争议而看得出他是非常在意别人如何为他盖棺定论。


简短生平


李光耀在1923年9月16日生于一个中产土生华人(男、女俗称峇峇、娘惹。他们是早期华族移民与土生马来族或其他非华族通婚后而产生的混血后裔。他们有自己的文化特征而多数以马来语为母语。)的家庭。


李光耀是聪明绝顶的人。小时候就已经从一间普通学校转至以英语为教学语言的莱佛士书院就读。莱佛士书院是新加坡顶尖的学校而它当时只收取全马来亚150名最优秀的学生。


李光耀负笈英国剑桥留学的计划虽然因日本占领新加坡而延后了四年,但这并没阻止李光耀在菲茨威廉学院法律系以双重一等荣誉毕业。


李光耀除了聪明绝顶外,还是个务实的机会主义者。根据他自己在自传里的透露,他在日据时期,曾经在日本皇军的宣传部队“报道部”当翻译。与此同时他也在当时的黑市做买卖,甚至与朋友一起为日本皇军提供军需品和建筑工程服务。当他从所截听的盟军消息得知日军在节节败退时,他就暗地里准备逃离到马来亚的金马伦高原去避风头。但是因日军开始怀疑他而对他展开跟踪而作罢。他自述在这日据时期的经历对他政治生涯起着非常大的影响。日本人的铁腕统治让他了解到权威的重要性。他务实的态度不只让他和家人能安然的渡过艰巨的日据时期,更让他累积了一点积蓄以资助他在战争后负笈英国留学。


政治成就与过失


李光耀这种务实机会主义的人生哲学在他的政治生涯里一再展现无遗。


经历了因英国无能而战败,导致日本人残暴统治的李光耀终于领悟到新加坡必须脱离外国人统治。这促使他展开了反殖民主义的斗争。但是在1950年代的反殖民运动中,受华文教育的左派人物才是主流。务实的李光耀就联合以林清祥为首的左派成立了人民行动党。李光耀以此当上了左派工会的顾问律师,从而让他争取到巨大的政治资本。


从1950至1960年代,面对许多各地反殖民地主义的英国也被逼考虑如何在不损害自身利益的前提下,退出殖民地而让自己信任得过的人掌权自治和独立。李光耀看准了这时机,运用了高超的政治手段,一方面使英国相信在伦敦剑桥读过书的他是他们的最佳人选,而另一方面还是打着反殖民的旗帜大骂英国人“白种人”。与此同时,他利用英国人把他党内的同志,林清祥一伙人扣留起来,直到他赢得选举当了总理。


1963年,在林清祥等人脱离行动党自组社会主义阵线(社阵)后,机智的李光耀就利用与马来亚合并的契机,在马来亚首相的要求下,顺理成章的把林清祥和社阵所有的主要人物一共一百多人,全都以内部安全法令(内安法),不经审讯的扣押起来,并且试图把责任全推到英国人和马来亚首相的身上。这时,他就把这一些人标签为“共产党恐怖分子”。


从此之后,一直到1980年代,李光耀就举着反共的旗帜,把异议分子都以“共产党恐怖分子”名义在内安法令下抓起来,任由监禁。 根据统计,在他任内总共以内安法囚禁果2600 名异议分子之多。


但是一向坚持反共的李光耀,在中国总理周恩来向他招手时,还是务实的回应了他的邀请,到中国访问了。虽然最终无法和周总理见面,但这一次破冰之旅还是为李光耀和中国历代领导层的关系展开了历史上的第一页。


在李光耀的政治生涯中,他最伟大的成就就是以务实的态度和中国建立起良好的关系而促进全东南亚的和平。他以坚定的意志,说服了邓小平副总理,中国必须停止向周边国家输出共产主义才能建设和谐的环境以便经济能共同发展起来。中国最终不止终结了对马共和泰共的资助,更在柬埔寨战争上扮演了非常重要的角色。李光耀在促成中国、东盟和美国合作,了结柬埔寨战争的事件上,起了关键性的影响力。这彻底解除了越南对东南亚地区的军事威胁,并给与东盟建立了和平稳定的有利环境。


没有李光耀高超的政治外交手腕,新加坡是不可能在同一时间取得美国和中国的基本信任以至能争取到这样显著的成果。同样的道理,李光耀以他和台湾的友好关系为海峡两岸僵持不下的关系解冻。历史性的第一次汪辜会谈能成功圆满的在新加坡举行,李光耀居功至上。这更进一步缓和了整个东亚和东南亚区域的紧张局势。


李光耀虽然在区域和国际政治舞台上有着显著的重大贡献,但他以那铁一般的手腕对付新加坡国内的异议分子却是他政治上的一大败笔。虽然许多人认为在建国的首几年,李光耀的铁腕统治提供了新加坡所需要的稳定环境来发展经济,但是他把政敌在没有经过审讯的情况下长久囚禁达32年之久是非常不人道的。这摧毁了许多人的人生和家庭。


他在1987年继续以“马克思密谋者”的罪名把22名支持和帮助反对党社运分子全都以内安法关了起来。这一举动掀起了许多争议。就连他的年轻内阁同僚都觉得不妥。这是因为在那时期,中国已经开始改革开放,不再向东南亚输出共产主义,而前苏联也脱离了冷战思维,开始逐渐瓦解。用这样的借口来打压异议分子已经没有什么说服力了。自此之后,虽然李光耀不再以内安法令来对付异议分子,但却换了个方式以诽谤罪使反对党人和异议分子破产来延续他的独裁政权。


在这一系列打压异议分子的行动中,很不幸的是,法治无可避免的被严重冲击。而在民主选举方面,李光耀的政府虽然没有舞弊,但是他运用了立法权和执政权,任意的更改选举制度和干预选区的划分而保住了他集权独裁的意图。李光耀的集权举动,也无可避免的摧毁了新加坡应有的民主基石 – 权力的分立和相互的制衡。这是他政治上的最大过失。


经济


许多人都把新加坡的经济奇迹归功于李光耀,但这是有一点言过其实。新加坡只是一个比上海小9倍的城市小岛国。持有新加坡公民权的也只有3百多万人。当初独立时,我们继承了英国殖民时代所遗留下来的良好海港和基建。新加坡是英国众多殖民地中,在远东最重要的海港。优越的地理位置和海港基建是新加坡最重要的资源。相对于当时的东南亚,甚至整个东亚,新加坡的基建和城市化程度是最好的。以人均收入来看,也是居高者。以人均收入来看,它在1965年是东南亚最高的,而在整个亚洲也只屈居于日本和香港。

(以下是两个关于新加坡的电影片段,摄于1957和1958年)






所以说李光耀从英国接手的新加坡并不是如许多人所说的“落后的小渔村”。


但在那建国初期,新加坡面对了许多严峻的问题。这包括了居住环境,经济面对内部强势工会的动荡,印尼的武装威胁,而最大的挑战是英军即将撤离的问题。英军是当时单一雇佣最多员工的机构。它也是保障新加坡免受当时苏卡诺领导的印尼政府军事敌对的威胁。


幸好就在英军迁离新加坡之际,越南战争使新加坡成为了美国的重要的补给基地。这缓解了英军撤离的影响。


在1959年刚上任的李光耀总理(自治区)也只是一名三十五岁年轻律师,对经济根本一窍不通。但很幸运的,他身旁有个智多星,吴庆瑞博士。吴庆瑞是新加坡经济发展的总工程师。他说服了李光耀降低关税,把新加坡设定为自由港。然后再着手土地改革,建廉价的公共组合房屋(组屋)以把人民从恶劣的居住环境搬迁,从而释放更多土地给与城市发展。他更发展了工业园区,设法把经济从单一依赖港口贸易转型到以制造业为首的经济体。再来就是重组教育制度,好让人民能接受更多工艺和工程系的教育,使他们更能够受雇于制造业。这种种发展,配合了世界工业的转型。在1960年代,在西方和日本的大企业开始了外包和寻找代工的经营模式。他们也因本国成本的提高而开始向国外迁移厂房。


在这世界工业的新潮流中,得益的是亚洲四小龙:韩国、台湾、香港和新加坡。新加坡之所以能有如此非凡的经济起飞,其实是依靠这工业潮流的发展。新加坡在四小龙里是最小的经济体,所以很显然的,它的经济成就也比其他四小龙地区较容易突出。


新加坡的“经济奇迹”其实是结合了天时地利人和的有利因素,而李光耀先生的贡献,其实比不上吴庆瑞博士。


但是我们不能抹杀李光耀为新加坡在国际和东亚开展投资机会的巨大功劳。尤其是在对中国的经济发展趋势的解读,他更是具有独到的远见。虽然新加坡政府在苏州工业园的投资失利,但这惨痛的经历只给李光耀上了一堂中国经商和政治文化的再教育。新加坡并没有因此对中国减少投资。


社会和文化建设


李光耀对新加坡社会建设的影响是非常深远的。他以他个人的意志和务实的考量规划了社区的发展。


李光耀除了众所周知的以严刑峻法对付不雅的反社会行为(如随地吐痰,乱丢垃圾,涂鸦等等)之外,他还以行政手段推行他所想要的城市情景。比如说,他非常喜欢园林,所以在城市规划中,绿化必定是首要考量。新加坡特别设立了国家公园局来打理全国的花草树木。所以说,当你一踏入新加坡的街道时所看到的一草一木都跟李光耀有关系。这一点也不夸张的。


他也出于务实的政治考量,以法律规定每个社区里,必须以种族比例分售组屋给国民。新加坡是由四大种族形成的。在1969年时,曾经发生过种族暴动。所以李光耀特别关注国家的种族和谐。他认为各个族群集聚在各自的传统地域将不利种族和谐的发展。这将让有心人能很容易的去煽动种族敌对情绪。如果把各族群平均的分散在不同的地方,让大家都有机会学习如何和睦共处的话,这对长期各族群的磨合将会有巨大的帮助。他这务实的做法的确让许多长期受种族暴动或冲击的国家来说,真是大开眼界。


但是在某一些社会议题上,李光耀也遭到滑铁卢。他激进强施的“两个(孩子)就够了”的人口控制政策,造成了这小国在短短的时间里,面对严峻的人口老化的问题。他的精英遗传论更在1980年代引起了巨大的反弹。这使他不得不把这两项不得人心的政策给撤了。


在教育、文化和语言政策方面,李光耀的争议性更大了。


新加坡在殖民地时代曾经是东南亚的第一个发展电影业的文化城。文化领域上,真是百花争鸣。


但在早期的政治斗争中,李光耀把许多文人和报人全都以内安法令给关了起来。这包括之后被誉为“国宝”的戏剧泰斗郭宝昆、南洋商报主笔李星可等。在李光耀的铁腕统治之下,这原本是被誉为东南亚的维也纳文化中心的土地,一时之间就变成了充满文字狱的白色恐怖国家。


加上李光耀全力打击经常批评他的华校生,导致南洋大学(南大)被逼在1980年关闭而所有华校体系的中小学都被逼转型。这是南洋一带华校生对李光耀更加敌视的原因。


这关闭南大的决定其实是与李光耀对中国的政治、经济策略有所冲突的。过了不久后,李光耀就发觉新加坡从此就非常缺乏受过华文教育的人来跟中国打交道。


与此同时,他也发现他关掉的不止是一所大学,而是消灭了整个时代海外华人的“南大精神”。南大是儒商陈六使先生发起的。他本人虽然没受过什么正统教育,但他知道民族要自强不息,就要注重教育的发展。他于是发起了建立一所以中华文化为教育重点的大学,捐出了大批土地来建设南洋第一所中文大学,南洋大学。当时马来亚的华人都纷纷响应他的号召,有钱出钱,有力出力,终于实现了建设中国海外的第一所中文大学。


这种为社群无私的奉献,就是南大精神的神髓。而也是一个对海外华人影响深远的精神。李光耀在关掉南大后,才后悔他也毁灭了这种伟大的无私精神。


很讽刺的是,李光耀过后大提以儒家思想为本的“亚洲价值观”,试图以这新论述来把自己的独裁粉饰、合理化。但是一个如此推崇儒家思想的政治家,怎么会把象征中华文化教育的南大给关了呢?


面对南大精神的毁灭,新加坡便全面的进入一个以功利主义统治和发展的时代。原本廉价的组屋的价格也逐渐被提高到与市场价格挂钩。原本享有高额津贴的医药服务,也贵得令新加坡人觉得能死不能病了。


除此之外,李光耀最失败的是摧毁了公共服务的精神。在那一些与他打天下的同僚全都退休后,他就以“高薪养廉”的理由,大肆提高新一代部长的薪金。现在新加坡的部长都享有至少新币一百多万(等于人民币5百多万)的年薪。这是世界上最高的政治薪酬,比美国总统还要高。


盖棺定论


要为李光耀先生这样具有争议性的人物作定论,的确不容易。对于一代被他迫害的左派人士,他们肯定是百感交加。


不管是他的宿敌或仰慕者,他们都不能否认他的确是个有许多缺点的伟大政治家。他在国际和东亚所做出的巨大贡献是谁也不能藐视的。但对新加坡民主基石的摧毁,也一样是铁一般的事实。


许多国家都在研究李光耀的“新加坡模式”:在独裁一党独大的统治下,也能取得巨大经济发展的模式。但是我认为,这“新加坡模式”与李光耀一样,是独一无二的。这是因为这“新加坡模式”是在独有的地缘政治和一个独有时代的世界经济发展潮流中产生的。就有如李光耀先生一样,历史上也只能只有一个李光耀。因为他是在独有的天时、地利、人和的大时代里塑造出来的杰出世纪政治领袖。


如果要真正评论李光耀,那就要看他的离世会让新加坡和国际缺少了些什么。


对于新加坡来说,它失去了一位能在国际舞台上为这小国的利益周旋的能手。李光耀在世时,是新加坡的活招牌。 因为无人不知李光耀,所以也无人不知新加坡。在这急速全球化的国际形势里,这对一个经济开放的小国是非常重要的。望眼目前新加坡国内的政治人物,没有一位能真正取代李光耀这个活招牌。


对于整个亚太地区来说,我们也失去了一位可以为各国搭起有效沟通桥梁的领袖。尤其是在两岸问题、南海争议和钓鱼台问题日益复杂,随时会擦枪走火的时局之下,这位子更显得举足轻重了。


新加坡在李光耀时代也失去了民主的基石。这是新加坡在后李时代必须严正对待的问题。李光耀所遗留下来的政治体系只能在一个相对廉洁的独裁者带领下延续运作的。后李时代会有太多变数而权力分立相互牵制的民主制度才能有效的保证这廉洁的体系可以维持下去。


在李光耀的铁腕统治下,新加坡的文化环境有太多约束而结果变成死水一潭。要使新加坡文化复兴,它就必须开放社会风气,把所有不必要的约束去除,放宽对文化活动、创作、主流媒体等等的严控。


最后,有一些在李光耀铁腕统治下所失去的东西,也许是永远都无法挽回的。他把南洋大学关闭而导致一代人所累积的南大精神能量,是永远无法重新找回的。


一个像李光耀这样杰出政治家的离世,影响的不只是本国的政治经济的前景,而也影响了整个区域的和平发展。像他这样具争议性的政治家逝世,虽然对新加坡带来了无可弥补的损失,但也带来变革的机遇。


不管我们对李光耀的功过有怎样的评价,我们都无法否认他是当代亚洲杰出的政治人物。当然,信奉民主体系的我对他的独裁以致摧毁新加坡民主基石,是无法原谅的。


吴明盛









Monday, March 30, 2015

Please Wake Up to Dawn of Post LKY Era



Dear Singaporeans,

Please wake up from the Spell of Sympathy as soon as possible. The propaganda you have been seeing and hearing for the whole last week cannot whitewash nor deny the fact that LKY has brought upon Singapore a Dictatorial rule. Don't be fooled by the mere presence of "General Elections". As I have told my Hong Kong friends, Democracy is not just about Universal Suffrage. It is about a whole system built on the basis of Separation of Powers, to effect a true system of Checks and Balances.

Besides, the GE we have in Singapore, has been tainted by the constant intervention of the Executive in terms of Gerrymandering and Pork Barrel politicking. The Power to Elect the people's representatives, must be independent and kept out of interference of the Executive ruling party.

The Judiciary as well, has been tainted by Rule by Law instead of Rule of Law. The most recent comparison of Amos vs the Young PAP member who put up sedition remarks on religious bearing is one fine example to remind us, little has changed.

We can only rebuild Real Democracy for Singapore, after we acknowledge and understand exactly what are lacking and needed to be restored after decades of dictatorial tendency inflicted by LKY's rule.

LKY's "Singapore Model" of a clean, efficient government with dictatorial rule which could bring Economic progress for us, is not sustainable in the long run. This is because his model relies heavily on "Philosopher King" concept; there must exist someone like him, who is clean and incorrigible by power, to be the dictator of the system. However, if the system fell on a corrupt person, all these attributes will be gone and the system will in fact, turn into the worst nightmare for Singapore because the system provides a tremendous concentration of powers with very little checks and balances.

Hong Kong has maintained a strict separation of powers as a Core value for their system. Although Hong Kong is not a country and they are fighting for "Universal Suffrage" for both Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections, but their system itself provides a clear cut of separation of powers. Any attempts by the Executive to interfere or exert influence on the Judiciary, ICAC, Press freedom or even Academia, will be critcised heavily. Their system of freedom of expression may sometimes look clumsy or even draggy for policy making, but it also provides the needed checks and balances which will maintain the system of clean and efficient governance. They still enjoy economic growth, though not as fast as Singapore.

LKY may be gone, but our aim of building a truly democratic system will not be made easier because his party and son, will continue to try to maintain almost monopoly of powers, with all means.

I have been debunking all those distortions of Historical facts and narratives by PAP's propaganda machinery for the past two weeks. I have received so many hate messages and some of my friends, even FEAR for my safety. They fear PAP may take revenge by many other means. They even FEAR somebody may harm me and my family physically. When I decided to attend the open live City Forum held by RTHK, they even tried to ask friends privately to help to protect me at this Open Air Forum. I really feel overwhelmed by their care.

I really appreciate their concerns and considerations made for me. But I am not afraid. I cannot be afraid nor frightened by such mental threats or subtle threats. Else the FEAR which my friends and associates are so deeply inflicted with, will perpetuate further in Post-LKY era. And yes, we will have to learn to walk out of that FEAR, even when we know, PAP will continue to use the tried method of "killing the chicken to frighten the monkeys" to instill FEAR in everyone of us.

But the pertinent question we need to ask ourselves, do we still want to continue to let them rule with FEAR? Continue to rule us with DICTATORIAL power? Rule not just us, but also our children and future generations?

We have to move on, chart our own course for Singapore, from Dictatorial rule towards Consensus Rule through Democratic system. Let's not forget, it is your interests as well as mine, to walk out of this long shadow of dictatorship of LKY which he has imposed on Singapore.

The new dawn may or may not come and it all depends on you and me. Nobody else. We have to face the reality of the fact that LKY's Model of Singapore rule, is not sustainable. Either we change or we let our Nation dies with it. People say follow LKY and you won't die. I would urge you to think carefully whether it really makes any sense to you at this very instance of Post-LKY era.

A nation ruled by Fear will not prosper with creativity and innovations. LKY's "Singapore Model" can only work if and only if, the dictator himself is like him and FULL obedience from Singaporeans must be instilled, be it via FEAR or otherwise. Can this be possible in this era of Internet with massive information flow and opinions shared through New Media and internet forums? It can only happen in places like North Korea. Not an open economy like Singapore.

We should wake up from our dream and spell in believing what LKY did 50 years ago, is still relevant to our Singapore today. In today's world of complexity, you can only use persuasion through more open political debates and consensus building process, to unite the people's view, to conclude new social order, mindset and contracts so that our little Nation can move as one People, One Nation. The use of FEAR and dictatorial rule, should be thrown into the rubbish bin because these are no longer effective means nor stable methods.

Let us start a new page for Singapore, my fellow friends, in the start of Post-LKY era. Let us do it right so that the political system can be sustainable and our Nation can outlive each and everyone of us, for many generations to come. Build the Democratic system our Nation deserves.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's Legacy: Good or Bad, Harsh Hard Truth


I am writing this because I am pretty annoyed and sick of PAP's spin doctors and people putting up bad propaganda write ups of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

LKY, as most of us called him, is great in his own rights but there is no need to exaggerate and worse, put up slanted and misleading historical narrations to make him look like a God. He is no God, just a man.

Even as a man who doesn't worship him like me, cannot simply ignore his contributions and achievements in various aspects. But distorting historical truth doesn't do justice to our children and future generations. Let's put things into proper perspective with critical objectivity.

Harsh Hard Truth:

As I have stated so far, LKY has greater achievements than most his PAP people and spin doctors would want to talk about but either due to ignorance or some agenda, harp on the wrong credits to LKY of "Fishing Village to First World" narration.

For those who believe or keep singing ridiculous praises of LKY getting Singapore from "Fishing Village to First World", I hope you get the fundamental facts right first. A lot have been said the myth and falsehood of Singapore being the "Fishing Village" that all these people are harping when PAP took power. Whether it is a "Fishing Village" or the most advanced port which the British left us when PAP took over, it is not really possible for LKY to be contributing much directly to our Economic growth. Even the "Miracle" of such development may be exaggerated in some sense.

Note: Singapore in 1965 was THIRD in terms of GDP per capital in Asia, behind Hong Kong and Japan, but TOP in Southeast Asia. Please refer to the data and this








Let's look at the hard facts. When LKY took over as PM in 1959, he was just a young 35 year old lawyer. Yes, he was extremely bright lawyer who has gotten a double star (Double First Honours) for his Law study in Cambridge, but no, he wasn't trained in Economics at all. He knew nothing about Economics and it was recorded that Dr Goh Keng Swee has a hard time convincing him about getting rid of import tariffs so to position Singapore as a Free Port, so much so that Dr Goh has to give a few books to LKY to read.

No doubt LKY was a very intelligent fast learner and picked up Economics along his path of political governance, but let me put this perspective, it is really totally impossible for anyone who has just to start learning Economics from scratch to have that ability of making an Economic Miracle out of Singapore.

Thus, rightfully so, Dr Goh and his advisers, were the ones who brought Economic development to Singapore. Coupled with the fact that Western and Japanese Industrial Economies started to go for outsourcing and subcontrating and shifting some of their productions to cheaper places like Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore (4 Asian Tigers), thus, our economy boomed.

Singapore is the smallest economy among the 4 Asian Tigers and thus, inevitably, the economic benefits and impact of such Global development will spread much faster to everyone on the island. Thus, the so call "Economy Miracle" itself is an over-exaggeration without looking at the context of the start of Globalization of the Industrial world.

Well, Singapore and LKY were really fortunate to have the most able Economist Dr Goh Keng Swee during this period which provided the necessary economic vision, direction and development which allowed us to ride on this trend of Industrial Globalization.

LKY contributed in other ways to Singapore and even the whole Asia Pacific region, through his pragmatic and opportunistic cultivation of PEACE among the various countries. From getting peace from Suharto after Suharto successfully overthrown Sukarno, convincing Tunku Abdul Rahman to a truce on racial bickering and more importantly, engagement of China to stop propagating and supporting the communist elements in SEA, getting China and US, along with SEA partners to put the war in Cambodia to a peaceful end as well as successfully getting China and Taiwan to hold the first ever official talk in Singapore and thus, raising Singapore's status in the International Political Arena.

A small country like Singapore can only thrive when there is PEACE surrounding it, not just within it. And that is the greatest contribution of LKY, not only to Singapore but to all the countries in SEA and Asia Pacific which are enjoying decades of growth under the peace which LKY has contributed tremendously in achieving.

To attribute LKY's achievements narrowly to merely Singapore's Economic development is a GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT with Ignorance.

Although I do not like LKY's dictatorial governance of Singapore which has caused much unnecessary sacrifices by many of his critics, dissidents and political opponents which in the end, destroy the tenets of Democracy as well as creating a Cultural Desert out of fear for Singapore, but as an Economist and politician, I cannot ignore his tremendous contributions in all these MORE important areas.

In my opinion, nobody else in PAP's current slate of politicians and ministers, not even PM Lee himself, could fill the gap of such important role, the opportunistic pragmatist Peace maker of Asia Pacific. This role is becoming especially more important in view of the current complicated development of South China Sea conflicting claims and the tension between Japan and China. But who in Singapore can continue to provide that function and fill the role which LKY has left vacant?

This is something more important for Singaporeans to ponder about for the future safety of Singapore, in order for us to live and grow our economy.

Having said all these, despite of LKY's achievements in this area, as a Democratic Fighter, I will still refuse to mourn the death of a dictator who has done great harm to many of his victims as well as Singapore's Democratic Development.

However I will not stop others to mourn for him and my urge to those who agree with me, not to create too much of a tension with your friends and family members due to our refuse to mourn for him.

And for those ignorant PAP spin doctors, people and LKY fans who really lack the international perspective to give proper credits to LKY, please stop distorting historical facts and narrations of our Nation's history in your attempt to "exaggerate" the greatness of LKY in the WRONG way. This will do no good and a great sin for our future generations. LKY is NOT GOD and he might have done really bad things to other people, even bad decisions, political scheming in his life, so be it. No need to try to white wash all these for LKY and the truth is, LKY was not shy to admit all these in his life, though with excuses and defence which are not acceptable to people like me. LKY is just human and we should just remember him as such, a human who is fallible to the bad ills of what power can bring to one.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew - Rest In Peace


I promise I won't write NASTY letter of condolences to Prime Minister Lee, just as he did to Kenneth Jeyaretnam​ when his father JBJ passed away.

But let me share with my friends what I really think of LKY.

Whether we like it or not, Singapore was lucky to have an opportunistic pragmatist like LKY to wiggle us out of danger and animosity during the 1960s. He was a good schemer, pretender who was able to convince the British Colonist that he was the right one to run Singapore so that their interests in Far East would be protected. On the other hand, he was able to con the Leftists into fake collaboration of anti-colonial fights, gaining their trust and riding on their enormous political capital and organization to gain prominence among the largely Chinese based voters.

Whether we like it or not, that is one of the greatest political maneuver ever in Singapore political history. He could on one hand, scold the British "White Man" but at the same time, struck back door deals with them, making sure all blame went to them but yet, convince them he was the man they need!

His pragmatism has also allowed us to gain the necessary peace and breather from the animosity from Indonesia. He managed to convince Suharto that peace is what we need. On the other hand, he could well continue to convince Tunku Abdul Rahman to settle for peace and continue to supply us water, even though he has agitated him bad enough for him to ask Singapore to leave the Malaysia Federation!

His pragmatism has also made the normalization of foreign relationship with China possible, not only for Singapore but Malaysia and Indonesia as well. He could have put up his rally cry of anti- "Communist Terrorists" throughout 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s, but still he could shake hands with the leaders largest communist country in Asia who were behind the exportation of communism to SEA. He seized the opportunity to get China involved in forcing Vietnam, the only Communist Country in SEA, into peace in Cambodia and thus, removing the last threat of Communism to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

On the other hand, his cultivation of warm ties with the western powers, particularly US, has allowed us to make use of their presence at our port to provide the necessary peace and stability, not only for Singapore, but also for SEA and North Asia. Singapore's role in the Vietnam War as a logistic base for the Americans in the 1960s and 1970s has provided opportunities for us to ease the pressure of the pullout of the British troops.

On the international front, his opportunistic pragmatism has allowed us to make use of the American to balance the power and provide a security net against potential Chinese expansionary threat while on the other hand, despite of his suspicions of China, continue to reap economic benefits from China's economic growth and development.

We cannot ignore all these delicate but important achievements of LKY, which have brought important benefits to us over the generations. This is even though we dislike the man who has in some point in time, get overwhelmed by the power he held.

As I have mentioned, his greatest failing is to destroy the tenets of Democracy in Singapore. He should have stopped his addiction to unnecessary harsh treatment towards dissidents and political opponents after he gained power in the 1960s. But he didn't stop but continue with his devious ways. The imprisonment of activists in 1987 under Operation Spectrum was the last embarrassment which made him realized that he could no longer use ISA in such a irresponsible way against dissidents. Nobody believe the "Marxist Conspiracy" which he tried so hard to put up because USSR was in the midst of disintegration and China, thanks to him, had stopped the support of exporting communism to the rest of Asia! This is why Operation Spectrum became the LAST ISD operation against political dissidents and opponents of LKY.

However, instead of reflecting on his insatiable desire to monopolize power, he continued persecution of his political opponents and dissidents by legal means: defamation suits and bankruptcy of his opponents. He didn't realize that such petty politicking internally is really unfitting for a Great International Politician like himself!

In his relentless pursue of such monopoly and concentration of powers, he has unwittingly destroyed the tenets of Singapore Democracy. This is the biggest failing of his political legacy. And I reiterate, we have to try to rebuild what he has destroyed, Democracy, in Post LKY Era.

For whatever good or bad deeds LKY has done for us, let us accept the man of what he was. He was a Dictator, unlike most other Dictators in past and present, has done both great good and bad for his people.

As a person who believe strongly in Democracy, I will still not mourn the Death of a Dictator. But I will remember both the good and bad deeds he has done, putting these as lessons for future.

Last but not least, I will still wish him, Rest In Peace. There is nothing more for him to do anymore. Please don't jump out of the grave even if there is any problem in Singapore. Just Rest In Peace.

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rebuilding what LKY has Destroyed - Democracy



The PAP IBs and LKY fans regard me as "LKY hater" but I am definitely not because I am not the victim of his ruthlessness, unlike many others who have been unjustly imprisoned and tortured by him.

I consider his greatest FAILING in his political career to be his TOTAL DESTRUCTION of the tenets of Democracy: The Separation of Powers. This bad deed, has longer implications on Singapore's development than any other bad deeds he has done during his lifetime. For his deed of treating his opponents with unnecessary harsh and inhuman means, it could be easily be forgiven by these victims if he has repented and apologized. But not so for this deed of destruction of Democratic development.

The political system which he has carefully designed, could only survive with his dream of having "Philosopher King" with massive concentration of great powers without being corrupted. That is definitely IMPOSSIBLE. It may have worked during his time but it has opened up Singapore to instant failure should a corrupt leader get into power as there is a lack of checks and balances and accountability.

We will need to re-look at the current political system to remove all the bad practices and policies which destroy the basic principle of Democracy, Separation of Power. For a start, I would like to see the following happening:

1) CPIB should be made independent of PMO, oversee by a commission led by a retired judge.

2) The appointment of judges, especially Chief Justice, should be made independent of the executive. We should not repeat the stunt of appointing someone who was only "lawyer in name" without rich experience in legal practice or justice department to become Chief Justice or even High Court judge.

3) The Executive should be banned from meddling with editorial rights of newspapers and TV stations.

4) Elections Department should be made independent of PMO as well, led by a commission. Any changes to boundaries should be transparent and open for scrutiny. The ED or the commission in charge should justify any drastic changes.

5) The ISA should be reviewed and the law should ban the use of National resources for espionage on political parties without strong justification of National security threat. ISD should only work on cases or situation which warrant their attention in terms of National Security Threats. They should not work for political missions dictated by the ruling party.

6) Conflict of interests should be minimized and declaration of such interests is important in the process of policy making as well as appointment of key personnel. The anti-corruption law should look into this.

7) Declaration of assets for political appointment holders such as Prime Ministers, Ministers, Ministers of state etc should be made transparent.

8) The Government should "get out of business" in Singapore. This is to prevent the massive conflict of interests and impact on Rule of Law in Singapore. The Government cannot subject itself as the regulator as well as the one being regulated. This has been deliberated by Eric Tan in his latest article.

9) Addition by Ken Zeng, the Prime Minister should only have two consecutive terms. Entrenchment of power will lead to the possibility of corruption of power as well.

10) Ministerial pay should be lowered further to reflect the nature of Public Service. We do not want our Ministers to stay in power for too long as well. This is to prevent them from taking this as "just another job", too comfortable to move on. The Minister pay should be pegged to the lowest 20% percentile of income, calculated with the inclusion of those WITHOUT income. It may also include a certain percentage weighted peg on the median income level.

11) Addition by Ken Zeng: Reinstatement of Jury system for certain cases as practiced prior to 1969.

These are the few things in my mind now.Please feel free to suggest any other things you think which is important as in Separation of Power alone; not just any policy issue.

Goh Meng Seng

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What is Democracy?

What is Democracy? Many people are mistaken about Democracy and sometimes, politicians (especially PAP) have deliberately misinterpreted Democracy to justify their dictatorial system as "Democratic". Sad to say, even politicians in Singapore's opposition parties, have little idea what constitutes "Democracy" and "Rule of Law".

The following photo shows Obama giving a speech and those people have given him a standing ovation. However, there are two groups of people sitting right in front, have not clapped nor stood up in ovation. 


One of the groups consists of the judges from the Supreme Court. They represent the Judiciary Power of the country which is separated and independent of the executive power. They will not show any support or opposition to the President and they will always remain Neutral, especially in public places like this one.

The other group consists of the Army generals, Chief of Army etc from the military. The military will maintain NEUTRALITY in political setting like this unless the speech has touched on military issue or perspectives.

This is how the Americans take Separation and Independence of Powers so seriously, in which becomes the tenets of the Democratic foundation of the country.

Democracy is not just about having elections every five years or a system with institutions like Parliament, President and Civil Service. It is MORE than that. Rule of Law can only exist if and only if the Judiciary is fully INDEPENDENT from the interference and meddling of the Executive in the selection and appointment of judges and officers. Thus, I cannot understand why even some opposition politicians have supported the notion that Rule of Law exists in Singapore when it is obvious that Executive power has been interfering tremendously in the Judiciary appointments. The examples of late JBJ and Michael Khoo are glaring examples of Executive interference in the Judiciary staring at our faces!

Singapore is NOT a Democracy by any standards, even though there are regular elections every 4 or 5 years. The Elections Department is NOT independent and the ruling party has without fail, consistently interfered with the redrawing of boundaries each and every GE. Such Gerrymandering is definitely not Democratic at all.

The Press and CPIB were totally under controlled by the ruling party, with direct appointment of PAP members right into the management boards of all the main stream media. CPIB was put directly under PMO. These two arms should be INDEPENDENT and separated from the ruling party influence as this is part of the Supervisory organs of the political system.

So it seems that ALL the FIVE Powers of the system are being manipulated and interfered by the ruling party. How can this be called as a "Democracy" at all?

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Democratic Dream

The Democratic Dream

A lot have been said about the AHPETC saga for the past weeks and both PAP people and WP people have been trading massive punches and blows at each other.

Although there is a large group of middle ground voters who form the Silent Majority (they really aren't the majority but just king makers), but very few have put up criticisms of BOTH PAP and WP.

Regrettably too much public resources have been wasted in parliament to debate on such primarily municipal issue. It is really an unique feature of Singapore political landscape.

While I believe there is really something very wrong with WP AHPETC management, so much so that I have predicted more than a year ago FMSS will become the key problem which may cause WP political trauma, but I guess PAP has always been very bad ruling party with bad governance practices embedded in its management of Singapore. WP people have pointed out such glaring bad examples and rightfully so, it is just the pot calling the kettle black.

However, two wrong doesn't make one right. We should not be stuck with a political system which political parties are just competing on who is worse than the other. This is not the kind of Democracy I want to build for Singapore.

Both PAP and WP deserve a big tight slap on their heads. It is also important to take the opportunity to advocate and educate our fellow Singaporeans what we really need to do to make Singapore better politically.

I have always dream my dream of Democracy. A Democracy which has true independence and separation of powers. This constant accusation of both PAP and WP of conflict of interests has its roots of the lack of the Democratic Core Values and Principles of Independence and Separation of Powers.

On the macro perspective, this refers to the Five Powers.

1. Executive Power
2. Judiciary Power
3. Supervisory /Impeachment /Control Power
4. Legislative Power
5. Examination / Selection /Election Power

This is the ideal of Dr Sun's Separation of Five Powers in a political system.

EXECUTIVE POWER

This refers to the power granted to the ruling party to execute their policies with the help of the civil service.

Judiciary Power

The Judiciary system which includes the courts, judges, lawyers etc.

SUPERVISORY POWER

Includes Free Press, corruption investigation Burea, Auditor General Office or any organization that scrutinize the Executive to keep all processes legitimate.

Legislative Power

Basically refers to law makers in parliament

Examination /Selection /Election Power

This refers to the organizations which make sure the selection or election process of various personnel like civil servants (PSC), appointment of key personnel to various key institutions and the Election Department which oversees the election of parliamentarians etc are fair and just.

Only when these five powers are working independently without political interference from politicians or anyone else, then we can achieve a fairly good Democratic system that will uphold the Rule of Law in all aspects, with less cronyism and massive conflict of interests that will go unchecked.

If you put the idea of Separation and Independence of Powers in the case of the AHPETC, you will realize that the major problem is the lack of such Democratic system installed that devoid the organization ofproper checks and balances.

The Executive Power lies with the Management Agent along with the Chairman and Vice Chairman.

The Judiciary power lies with the Board of AHPETC which includes all the MPs, Town Councilors and key AHPETC personnel like GM and Secretary.

Legislative Power is based on Town Council Act and laws passed by parliament.

SUPERVISORY power lies with auditors as well as MND. But for the daily running of Operations, the TC should have proper committees to supervise the work processes.

The Selection Power lies with the tender and appointment process.

Unfortunately for AHPETC, there are too many intertwined relationship in the different powers, particular in the Selection, EXECUTIVE and SUPERVISORY powers. There is no deliberate efforts made in avoidance of conflict of interests.

This is the crux of the matter. Many people see this AHPETC saga as a matter of carelessness or lapses but I view it as the lack of Democratic Core values. For anybody with strong belief in Democracy and its Core values, he would not have allowed such a system that lacks independence and Separation of powers to run the TC.

For a matter of fact, PAP is guilty of such Gross disregard of Democratic Principles and that is why we are fighting against it. But for WP to emulate PAP totally in this aspect is really unthinkable to me.

What pains me most is that fact that many WP people and opposition supporters are ignoring this more important problem of the lack of Democratic values in both parties altogether.

It seems that we are very far from our Democratic Dream if our own people do not care much of what our Core Values are but only focusing intensively on the politicking and attacks on PAP.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Columbarium Saga - Victims' Open Letter to Minister Khaw and PM Lee

The victims of HDB's injustice have sent the following letter to Minister Khaw and PM Lee.

This is an open letter we have just sent to Minister Khaw Boon Wan for National Development and Prime Minister Lee:

To:
Mr. Khaw Boon Wan
Minister for National Development

Dear Minister,

Re: Fernvale Link Columbarium of Chinese Temple.

1. We refer to the issue of HDB awarding the land meant for Chinese Temple to a private commercial company, Eternal Pure Land Pte Ltd (EPL), owned by the Australian Public Listed company, Life Corporation Limited (LC).

2. We are a group of present and future residents of Fernvale HDB estate who will be affected by the abovementioned development. Although we have different concerns of the said project, but we have come to the following consensus and conclusions.

3. First and foremost, all of us in the group, with different religions, agree that it is totally inappropriate for a commercial company to bid for a land meant for religious use and to make money in the name of religion.

4. It is implied in the Charity Act that any organization with advancement of religion should be subjected to the Act and supervised by the Commissioner of Charities. It means that anyone who runs a Chinese Temple at Fernvale must be a non-profit organization registered with the Commissioner of Charities.

5. Apparently from the dialogue we had on last Sunday (4 Jan 2015), the representative from LC has admitted that they are not a non-profit organization or a registered religious organization.

6. This will set a very bad example and precedent for all the religious organizations in Singapore, including but not limited to Buddhist, Christians, Catholics, Hindu etc. Registered religious organizations are non-profit organizations and it is unfair for them to compete with commercial entities which have more financial power to tender for the very limited land slated for religious purposes. For the example of Chinese Temple, we notice that only 20 plots of land were slated for tender by HDB over more than two decades.

7. Moreover, the company, Eternal Pureland Pte Ltd, which won the tender, is registered as company which deals with Funeral and related activites (including embalming, Cremating and Cemetery services upkeep of cemeteries, sales of bereavement products and services). This company was incorporated only 16 days after the tender was called and it has absolutely no experience whatsoever in running a Chinese Temple.

8. We have also learned from the advertisement put up by EPL that they are marketing their niche at the price of $6,500, which is a discounted price from its original $15,000. We do not think such columbarium which put up such Premium Prices could serve ordinary HDB heartlanders like us at all.

9. Many of us have a religion and this is a grave concern to us to see the official stance of HDB in allowing religion to be “Corporatized”. We reiterate that we are against commercial companies making money in the name of religion.

10. We hope that HDB should declare the tender null and void as such practice affects all religious organizations in Singapore.

11. We hope that in the event of putting the land up for tender again, HDB could consider the combination of Chinese Temple with Childcare/Student Care. The Childcare/Student Care centre should be required to open to all races. This will serve the community well as many of the residents are young couples with kids.

12. This will be the most satisfactory and perfect solution to prevent any unwanted disruption to the many BTO buyers who were misled by HDB as well as present residents who weren’t even made known of this development at all when they bought their flats.

13. It will be totally regrettable if HDB insisted in carrying on the building of the columbarium and the Chinese Temple.

14. The reason why so many of us were caught off guard is because we have placed so much trust in a government statutory board. We have expected HDB to be transparent, open and more forthcoming with important information. We didn’t expect a reputable and biggest developer of properties like HDB would hide critical material information under ultra fine prints and vague uncertain phrases (eg. “may include”) coupled with disclaimers.

15. We believe that if there were information which could help HDB to fetch a better price for the BTOs (eg. Mall, LRT stations, amenities etc), HDB would surely have put them up prominently and affirmatively. We expect HDB to do likewise for information (eg. Columbarium) that may make the flats less attractive to most buyers and thus, fetch lower prices for HDB.

16. These are not “isolated cases” but happened in a massive scale. Thus, we feel that HDB should not treat our demand for refund without other penalties as a case by case basis. HDB should be more transparent and fair in dealing with all those who wanted a full refund.

17. We expect that HDB treats those of us who wanted a full refund fairly with the following conditions:

a) full refund of whatever deposits paid
b) no technical penalty (eg. 1 year wait) should be applied
c) priority to select alternative flats in other development.

18. We feel that this is the worst option for all of us, even if full refund is given to some. We still hope that the option of having a Chinese Temple with Childcare/Student Care could be granted as it serves almost everyone’s interests.

19. It would be utterly regrettable if HDB did not void the tender to LC and let it proceed as planned. Even worse if HDB refused to treat all of those who seek a full refund fairly.

20. We hope that you, as the Minister of the ministry, could do the right thing, not only for us but for the whole of Singapore, to set the record right by disallowing commercial entities to bid for land slated for religious purposes. Thus, void the current tender to LC.

21. As the old saying goes, Trust is hard to earn but easy to lose. In you, we trust to right the wrongs. Thank you.

Yours truly,

Present & Future Fernvale Residents

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Sengkang West Columbarium Saga - Disrespectful to Buddhism



When I first read about the Chinese Temple-Columbarium saga at Sengkang West, the first instinctive responses I had were:

1) The buyers of  BTO and residents in Sengkang West are being hoodwinked by HDB's scheming omission of critical material information on this columbarium and using "Chinese Temple" as a decoy.

2) It is totally inappropriate to allow a commercial entity to run a religious entity. I shall elaborate in this article.

3) The columbarium service is supposedly an ANCILLARY service to the Chinese Temple but in the end, it has become the main focus of the commercial entity, an Australian Public Listed company Life Corporation.

When a land is gazetted for religious use, naturally it means that it is not for commercial use. Especially in this case, when it says the land is for Chinese Temple, then in Singapore's context, a Chinese Temple is mean to be run by a registered organization or society under Registrar of Society (ROS). A religious organization like a Chinese Temple or any Churches that receive tithes are governed by the Charity Act. According to the ruling of High Court, any organization that advance religion will have to be classified as Charity.  The governing body is Commissioner of Charities.

However, according to the tender information posted on HDB website, Life Corp has won the tender via a private limited company.

If you read carefully, all other bidders of land meant for Chinese Temple are religious organizations or groups registered in Singapore ROS. Eternal Pure Land Pte Ltd. wholly owned by Life Corporation, is the only commercial entity which won the tender. Although it tries very hard to have a name that sound "Buddhist" but in essence, it is a private limited company.

The only other exception is the land slated for Chinese Temple/Funeral Parlour at Bedok North Ave 4. Even for that, it is a bid offered by a combination of a commercial entity and a temple association. (This may become another big hoohaa for Bedok residents if it is situated right in the centre of the HDB estate but I doubt so. It should be situated near the industrial park.) To provide funeral parlour service definitely need the involvement of commercial entity.

Look at the other two bidders for the same plot of land at Sengkang West here.

They are both religious organizations registered in Singapore!  

It is highly inappropriate and most probably against the law/regulation for HDB to allow a commercial entity to bid and win the tender for land meant for religious purpose. In fact, it is utterly disrespectful for HDB to allow a commercial entity to "make money" by using the name of Buddhism here.

Throughout the decade, we have seen how Singaporeans are irked by the various scandals arising from inappropriate or mismanage of funds by the respective religious leader of both Buddhist and Christian organizations (i.e. monk Mingyi of Renci and pastors of City Harvet). Funds gather by religious entities are expected to be treated as donations for charity and use in enhancing religious and spiritual cause, other than daily operation expenses. That is why religious groups, be it temples or churches, will need to be governed by Charity Act and the Commissioner of Charities.

Especially for serious Buddhists who observe the precepts, we expect monks to be Role Model of human beings and not businessman. We call those who make use of Buddhism to make money or serve their own material desires, "Business Monks". Yes, we do not have much respect for these "Business Monks", other than the fact that they are just human beings in robes. We detest these "Business Monks" who give our belief, the teaching of Buddha, such a bad name.

For most Buddhist Temples that provide columbarium service, they provide such service to their devotees as a public service in return for a fee just for maintaining the operation cost of their temples. These are NON-Profit organizations, unlike what Life Corporation and its subsidiaries, Eternal Pure Land and SFS are thinking of. Columbarium is really just an ANCILLARY service while TEMPLE function is the main key focus.

Look at the various statements Life Corporation has filed to the Australian Stock Exchange. ALL its statements posted there were about how it will enhance its earnings by having this opportunity to enhance its PREMIUM funeral services provided by its Singapore Funeral Services Care (SFS). Example of such statement is as follows:


It is obvious and expected that Life Corporation as a public listed commercial entity will be more excited and focus in how much money the columbarium can bring it. And to understand it a bit further, SFS is a company that provides PREMIUM Funeral Services with Mercedes as their hearse!  It basically means that their services are meant for filthy rich people and I do not think they are going to provide its intended "state of the art columbarium" service to layman. It is basically a very lucrative BUSINESS to them, not the normal PUBLIC SERVICE kind of columbarium offered by traditional registered Buddhist temples.

I believe the Singapore Buddhist Federation must be extremely upset and unhappy. HDB has just allowed someone to make use of the name of Buddhism for commercial profiteering. This will ultimately make Buddhism look extremely bad! Buddhism is about the teaching of Buddha, not meant to be used as a commercial front to make money!. This is utterly disrespectful, if not blasphemy in essence. Rightfully so. No one, not staunch believer of any religion, would want their religion to be made used for making money. Religion, is after all, spiritual in nature.

I believe the tender for this land should be void and null. This land is only slated for Chinese Temple. It is not meant for commercial use. It is already a breach of the land use and LFC is profit oriented entity which cannot be classified under "Charity". If it was to be classified as "Charity", all its earnings from this Chinese Temple will have to be regarded as revenue for non-profit organization and should not be recorded as earnings for Life Corporation.

HDB and URA should do the right thing to right the wrong. It is totally disrespectful for HDB to allow a private commercial entity to make use the name of Buddhism to make money. Technically speaking, Eternal Pure Land should be disqualified for its tender because it doesn't qualify to be the rightful entity to run a religious place of worship, Chinese Temple.

It is really unfortunate that for a government statutory board like HDB, it lacks the sensitivity and strict regulation on who can and who cannot bid for land of different usage. Land slated for religious purpose alone will obviously require a more stringent qualification and criteria to make sure that whoever bid for that land, has the necessary qualification and ability to run the intended religious function meant for the land.

Coupled with the serious fault of omission of critical material information in its sales brochures, HDB has actually made two terrible mistakes in a row. Although HDB has put up a disclaimer on the brochures but HDB should not shy away from its responsibility of omission. The brochures did not specifically state "columbarium" but only "ANCILLARY" services which was not clearly defined in the brochure itself (only on URA website).

I would consider the first fault of disrespectful of Buddhism more SERIOUS than the omission of critical information to the BTO buyers. But nevertheless, HDB should be accountable for both of their mistakes. Null and void the tender to LFC, at the same time, make concessions to the BTO buyers in whatever ways possible.

Goh Meng Seng