Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Singapore Dreaming

This blogger has often been associated as bleak, cynical and dark. Perhaps even somewhat fundamentalist. So today lets take a journey in political imagi-nation. Lets imagine political possibilities for Singapore. We can even say lets dream. In a city of sadness and unhappiness, over the inevitability of the Government pay rise, perhaps dreaming is the only recourse for possible happiness. A possible smile. Of course, we all know that only fools dream. But in a moment now in which there is only right and no wrong, surreal is real, illogical and contradictory is fundamental and logical, then maybe to be a dreaming fool is to be normal.

There is a groundswell of unhappiness over the inevitable pay increase. The media overdrive, the discomfort of the neutrals, the increasingly hapless justifications for its necessity, for its need by the politicians, all point to this unhappiness. At the same time, as how public policy is often decided in Singapore, when a problem is cited as threatening the fundamentals of Singapore, there is also a disillusionment that the pay increase will happen. That it is inevitable.

There is a political, or realist answer to why this is so. The ruling regime is at the zenith of its political power. If we were to dissect the physics of power in Singapore, the ruling regime presently, in the immediate post election year, has the maximum raw naked political power. And this allows them to push two major unpopular policies in quick succession.

But lets imagine. Lets see on what the ruling regime calculated its political risks.

First. There is a confidence in the ruling regime that people will forget. Come a time when its political power is on the waning cycle, the ruling regime will aid in this forgetting. They believe that the repercussions of their two unpouplar policies will not affect them negatively five years down. This is based on their belief, that like the past, Singaporeans will simply forget and accept the reality as time passes by.

Second. And more critically, the ruling regime believes that no one from within their core group will break ranks. The ruling regime takes this political risk. So long as they maintain a united front, the policies, however unpopular, will be implemented and forgotten. The policies are legitimate and justified. The policies maintain their sanctity only if those who ostensibly back these policies remain united.

It is from the second assumption where we embark on our journey of imagi-nation. Lets imagine, that there is one Minister, someone among that group who has been identified as a talent supreme, who does not believe in this pay increase policy. Lets imagine he is a noble person and that his choice of occupation is driven not by the salary but a desire to foster change from within.

In this imagi-nation, the current political moment represents an enormous political opportunity. Imagine that this "talent" resigns from office as a form of personal protest over the pay increase. Imagine the immediate political aura that will attach to this person. Imagine how much political power he can accrue by this act of noble rejection. He becomes an instant Singaporean. Someone who represents Singapore. Represents Singaporeans. Someone descended from the towers of ivory.

There will of course be accusations by his former colleagues. That he has embarked on populism. That his actions threaten the fundamentals of Singapore, and the usual routine of character assassination. But yet, as someone already identified as a talent supreme, the accusations have much less gravitas than the usual thrown at the Opposition politicians. So maybe, this one rebel politician maintains his integrity. Maintains his aura of political significance.

And then we imagine this Singaporean, who has in one simple act of protest, gained the symbolic authority of a million. Imagine then, this Singaporean, who will be a living symbol of remembrance, to ensure that forgetting does not come easy over this policy of the pay increase.

Imagine that he possibly allies with an existing Party or he forms his own Party. And then perhaps, just perhaps, this journey of imagi-nation ends with him mounting a political challenge that the ruling regime has never seen since the days of the founding fathers of Singapore. Since those days when the founding fathers fought their political battles on simple acts of protest as well. Since those days when the founding fathers fought not for money in their pockets but for dreams and ideals.

Imagine or dream. Our fool's dream.

Quote of the Day --

""It is a fool's prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak." -- Neil Gaiman, Sandman #19 "A Midsummer Night's Dream"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xeno< if you make different dream with theirs it will turn out to be hope against hopes!

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Singaporeans have no one to blame but themselves. Every GE, the PAP claims that they have received clear mandates.

Why do people vote the PAP so consistently even they know what's coming from price and tax and ministers' pay hike in the early years to generous singpaore shares subsequently?

Why are credible singaporeans so afraid to stand up? Why do you xenoboy hide behind the screen? If you feel so strongly as you write, start joining the opposition party and be one of the candidates in the next GE.

Otherwise, as Vivian Balakrishnan has indicated, you are just a wanker and he can do anything he likes until you show up.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous insens said...

imagine if they weren't greedy... imagine if they had a conscience...
imagine if they actually cared more about the people than their pockets...
imagine if...

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they leave you with two options:

1. pay ministers more and continue to enjoy a robust, economically prosperous society; or
2. pay ministers less and "you'll never put Singapore together again... your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries".

but really, are there only 2 extreme alternatives? one should never bestow another with the power to restrict one's own choices. tunnel vision is your surest way to the second alternative.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent writing, as usual. However, I am not too sure if someone like that exists. In fact, an examination of Chinese history (all 5000 years worth of it) will throw up clues about how many of these noble men exist. - IrCTP

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Ong Teng Chong fit the bill? He has always been projected as noble.

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(a) He's now only fondly remembered.
(b) Even for a man of his influence, he barely made a dent in the grand scheme of things.

In China's 5,000 years of history, many noble men perished together with their families. Unless they receive a mention in the historical annuals, they will be forgotten. - IrCTP

3:22 AM  
Anonymous bozo said...

Imagine the ruling party using the same old challenge to those who are unhappy, to form an alternative party, so that they can slaughther or buy over the potential opposition even before they can stand for election.

Imagine how unimaginative they are in dealing with their challengers. Only fools will think they are clever and the rest foolish enough to take this primitive route to oppose them.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We have the best government that money can buy" - Mark Twain

SG "You $pin Me Round" MTV @

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u r an amazing writer. tho i m not singaporean, ur writing touches me. good luck.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This noble person will not exist.

They have taken great pains to groom their mini-stars. These people are not selected based on nobility of character.

It's all about getting the same kind of greedy people.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe in the fundamental goodness of men. I have lived on this island for over 40 years but I have given up on the PAP a long time ago. They perverse and corrupts whatever they touch.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the likelihood that ever happening? Look at the list of potential candidates.

Wong Kan Seng? Mah Bow Tan? Lim Hng Khiang? Ng Eng Hen? Lim Swee Say? Khaw Boon Wan?

George Yeo? He barely survived the last election.

Goh Chok Tong? The man has lost whatever's left of his credibility since the election fiasco.

Once upon a time, people might have expected Balakrishnan. But we now know what a sell-out he has been.

Its a nice dream, but not likely to happen given the bunch of rotten fruit we have to choose from.

I'd be curious to know who in Xenoboy's opinion would most liekly be The One.

2:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I volunteer to serve him for the rest of my life if there is one!

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to the above post: him or her< my apology!

7:06 AM  

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