Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Missing links?

This 'thoughts and rambling post' was in draft. Until the recent Cabinet re-shuffle announcement triggered the release.

Currently I am pretty busy at work. Blog time is whatever spare time I have. Being busy is a good thing in this 'so-called' time of downturn. Well, I had never believed in downturns as a matter of fact. My perception is what people often see as failures are really opportunities. Read Joseph (of Eygpt) in the bible and you won't be far off.

Anyway back to the main topic. This re-shuffle got me seriously thinking about the recent slew of questionable and mind-boggling events that had occurred recently.

David Widjaya's death
The MSM (mainstream media) reports were highly suspicious when they began to publish the likely causes of the death in spite of in-progress investigations. More sickening was pointing the finger at World of Warcraft. Right... that made me a 'suicidal person' since I had been playing it for many years. The most striking thing was that an official coroner's report had yet to be published!

I did remember commenting on MM Lee's statements some time ago about the Mat Salamat's escape. He said those statements while an independent inquiry was investigating. MM Lee is a very highly respectable person in Singapore. His words can effect and affect the outcome of a situational crisis. So it was no surprise when the independent inquiry report showed the lack of vigilance and total complacency. Duh! I for one felt two persons actually walked away scot-free.

Anyway it was as if MM Lee had either knew the details of the report beforehand or that he had sat with the 'independent' inquiry throughout the investigations.

Censorship on Dr Alan Ooi's farewell letter
Now that was really uncalled for. What was the MSM trying to achieve when it played the 'mind-game' of censorship?

Don't you think the truth will be out sooner considering how information is now shared on the Internet? Well it cuts across human barriers for one. The later the truth got out, the more the disgruntlement is bottled up. Be it through blogs, alternative reads, or just foreign press coverages - when people want to get the information, they will get it.

And I had to read the whole letter posted online by the Wayang Party instead of the MSM (though Wayang Party initially posted a partial letter to protect the farewells to personal friends and family).

Following this the MSM decided to publish the letter as an act of damage control. At a national level, it seemed all good to put to rest unanswered questions about the death of a scholar. The catch however was that a whole paragraph about Dr Allan Ooi's grievances with the SAF was 'snipped out'! And we had to read the unadulterated and unblemished version in Wayang Party blog!

Wow... that sure was a sinking feeling, isn't it? To have the truth withheld from me. What are you hiding? Could it be true about his grievances? Even if it was, it should be the people to decide how they want to digest the information. These are real opportunities for Ministers and SAF to stand up and respond. Instead the MSM chose the censor... what gives?

It's no fancy that the bloggers had a field day of throwing 'rotten tomatoes' and 'bad eggs' at the MSM. So much for our national paper global rankings.

CDC 8-month bonus to 2 senior managers
I will never blog about it. Except now.

In my opinion that is NWC (National Wage Council), PA (People's Association) and/or Dr Teo Ho Pin's business. And they are free to declare it and rightly so too, without any misgivings or misinterpretations. Well, on a personal note, to say 'I don't know' is a lousy answer to give to the press. Afterall Dr Teo himself is drawing money from the taxpayers too.

Just like the Perm Sec Tan Yong Soon open declaration in spending S$46,500 to learn French cooking. It's his business anyway. Who am I to say if it was well-spent or not? It's not as if he had taken his salary through underhand methods. And I truly respect him for even saying it aloud. Takes a lot of guts and confidence. Hmmm... perhaps not so smart in this 'economic recession'; maybe he should have published it in ICON or Plush magazines. At least the people who read them are in his category.

The disgruntlement became more acute within the blogsphere when the online media started a 'black-out' on this topic (read here). To make it inaccessible is to openly declare that 'we have something to hide'. Well, sort of.

This categorises under a major PR department glitch.

BBC interview with PM Lee
In the recent interview, PM Lee was asked, “Finally, Prime Minister, I read that you are apparently the highest paid head of government in the world. Your salary is about four or five times what President Obama gets. Are you worth all that money?”

PM Lee laughed and said:
"I am not comparing myself and I don’t look at these rankings. We go on a system which is open, honest, transparent – what is the job worth, what is the quality of the person whom you want. We need the best people for the job and these are jobs where you make decisions which are worth billions of dollars.

And you cannot do that if you are pretending and you just say, ‘Well, we are all in it for the love of King and Country’. We want it to be honest, we want people not to come in for the money. But at the same time the sacrifice cannot be too great. And at times like these, you want the best possible government you can have."

Now you have just gone and shot yourself in the foot.

In lieu of the recent predicaments by the MSM in trying to publish 'half-truths' or hide them (I don't know which), how can you say "we go on a system which is open, honest, transparent"?

What about how the President approval of touching the reserves? Was it open? Or based on trust? Surely not open if you had asked any man on the street until you were pressed for more answers.

Let me also draw you to the recent Town Council, Temasek and GIC invesments. Can you truly say it's transparent? I'm not too sure... and if I have doubts, it means you haven't been very transparent at all.

So if there is 'little' openness and much improvement for transparency (in my opinion), how can the word 'honest' be thrown it? It's pretty contradictory, don't you think?

And to top it off - now hear this:
Your whole answer (yes, your answer, PM Lee) was MISSING from Straits Times publication!

Why? Isn't the act self-contradictory again? It looked so, so silly from my point of view. Really. Anyone can just pick it up the missing pieces quickly (just like here) especially reading from other foreign online press. So it behooves me about the unnecessary censorship.

I'd reckon the current MSM wouldn't had 'blacked-out' your answer if there had been another independent media publishing the full transcript of your interview with BBC.

I just don't know where to hide my embarrassed Singaporean face. Again I ask - why?

Cabinet re-shuffle
Why on earth do you need these people when you are the highest paid politician in the world?!!

  • 1x Minister Mentor
  • 2x Senior Ministers
  • 2x Deputy PMs
  • 3x Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office

Mind-bloggling, isn't it? Gee, that's a lot of top-notched salaries to give out. And under the super-super scale salary scheme, they must be drawing millions! They must be truly the best politicians in the world.

On a personal note, if I were a Chairman of a company, I'd fire the CEO straightaway. Either the CEO is totally incompetent, or his workload is so uniquely 'out of this world' that he needs all these 'supporting' seniors. I wonder also how in the world does one justify drawing all these million-dollar salaries without declaring their assets?

So where does all these ramblings lead to? I'd reckon the missing links are choices and competition.

Think about it. They are the same reasons why many readers turn towards online media like blogs and foreign press to have an alternative read. It is not that the current newspaper is lousy (well, it may be but that's another topic) but people want choices and competition. We want to see from another angle but alas, we don't really have a choice, do we?

I mean if I want to know more about aerodynamics physics, it would be foolish to just read from a book or article or from one author, wouldn't it? And how much I want to read depends on how much information I want to get from the various sources of whitepaper, academic books and analytical findings.

We agree that not all these theories are correct. Well, so does reading it from one academic source alone, isn't it? In fact it's even riskier!

And how does one get better in sports or in a soccer game? Well, simply pit your skills against your opponents on a level-playing field. Of course sometimes the referee is kayu (biased).

So why should it be different in reading about news and politics in Singapore? Wouldn't alternative read enable us to question and fine-tune the system better? If we are really open, honest and transparent, then healthy competition should be encouraged. Shouldn't it?

Competition brings in healthy checks. More often it draws the best candidate too! If the government can think that a company would pay a lower wage to a foreign talent to compete on the same job, would not the people think likewise to have a lower-paid government yet performing up to par with the incumbent?

I mean that's why we have tender processes to evaluate and pick out the best company to deliver the solutions. And that's why we have more than one interviewee for a job opportunity and then another round for the short-listed candidates. To instill choices for employers and competition among the employees.

Shouldn't it be likewise for elections and MPs representing us? But we don't seem to have such a choice because the MPs and policies have already been selected for us. At least for me because I have never had a chance to vote.

Why would it then be different in Singapore politics and the MSM? Perhaps the missing links are choices and competition.

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