Goh Chok Tong Analogy Contest

OK, I haven’t come up with something to give away as a prize, but Goh Chok Tong’s latest analogy was too good to just let go after saying “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?”

For starters, and for your reading pleasure, I give you the Senior Minister’s latest: “The Platoon Leader & The Hopeless Recruit” (via Yvonne Chia):

Dear Yvonne Chia,

Think of this analogy. I was given a recruit who was assessed to have the potential to be a good soldier. The platoon had to capture a hill. The recruit came under a hail of bullets. As platoon leader, I had to protect him, even at the risk of my own life.

Am I being stubborn or deaf? Or did I not do the honourable thing expected of a platoon leader?

That the recruit could have been better prepared for the mission or be an older, more experienced recruit is a separate point. I am aware of the widespread unhappiness at sending this recruit to the platoon. But I would say, now that the recruit has survived the ordeal of battle, let him prove that he can be a good soldier…

Goh ChokTong

Here’s my own entry:

“Dear Citizen,

Think of this analogy. I was given a handful of rice in one hand, and a chicken in the other. But I can only cook one of the things. Do I cook the chicken? Or the rice? Now, you will know that no matter how I decide, I will not be able to have chicken rice.

I can be stubborn, I can be deaf, and sooner or later, I will have to cook one of the things because I am hungry.

I am aware of widespread unhappiness because I cannot make the chicken rice. So I say we better be prepared and let us get used to eating just rice or just chicken.”

Can? Pass the Talk Chok Sing Tong standard? Post your entries here!

NSP finds Tin Pei Ling’s match

NSP stands for Nicole Seah's Party!
The photographer said, put hand in pocket and stand obliquely... I stamped my feet many times before he explained what obliquely meant

Are they both a distraction from “real issues”? Who cares? Take them both out of the GRC and let them fight each other in the S-Factor!

How to solve the Tin Peiling issue

An old friend of mine wrote this on Facebook, and it’s too good not to republish:

The PAP was for many years jocularly referred to as Pian Ah Pek or Pay and Pay. I remember one afternoon, many years ago, talking to the elderly Toh Chin Chye. He was by then long estranged from the party and still very anti-PAP. I shared with him these alternative interpretation of his erstwhile party’s acronym and was astonished that he hadn’t heard these rather clever jokes before. I was even more astonished when he burst out with such mirth that he wept; for a few minutes he was so seized by paroxysms of laughter, he almost choked. This sweet moment for him had to be prolonged and savoured. And so, in between more hearty guffaws and dabbing the tears rolling down his still-full cheeks, he asked me to repeat the joke, along with the other pokes about what WP, SJP and SDP also stood for. To refresh your memory: Why Pay? (Workers Party), Some Jokers Pay (the defunct Singapore Justice Party) and So Don’t Pay (Singapore Democratic Party). I chuckled with him and we continued a great yarn.

By now, of course, that joke is so 1990s. Not that the meaning has expired with time, since the PAP today still subscribes to that philosophy. User pays is in fact immutable, sacred dogma. I’d like to add another interpretation of PAP that is timeless in language and, regrettably, in meaning too: Patronising, Arrogant Pols. True, not as witty, but neither am I.

Today we still see a political party that is Arrogant and Patronises the electorate, despite great strides over some 15 yrs since that joke was in vogue. This Arrogance and Patronising attitude rears its unpleasant head especially in the run-up to the General Election, which is tragically unfortunate timing for the Party. In the intervening years between each electoral period, the PAP in fact strives its utmost to govern the country wisely, taking great pains to explain and placate bewildered and/or disgruntled people affected by any new policy, adopts a very patient and humble tone to educate the citizenry and finesse new initiatives it rolls out, with a few Truly Spectacular Failures in between (more below).

Yet when it comes time for it to really go out on a charm offensive, when we voters are about to receive our polling slips and decide to give them “five more years”, to adapt the US electoral turn-of-phrase, the PAP displays a Patronising and Arrogant attitude instead. And every time it has been punished for this unseemly behaviour.

In the matter of Tin Peiling, SM Goh Chok Tong is reported to have told this young political hot potato to ignore the “noise”. This Noise is, quel horreur, actually the Electorate, Mr Goh! The Noise is emitting from the very people she is trying to win over and eventually serve. Admittedly, not all those who complain are in the MacPherson ward where she is slated to run. After all, MacPherson is known to have a lot of old, blue-collared voters who are less likely to be setting the blogosphere aflame — and that’s where the old joke about Pian Ah Pek still rings true and fresh after all these years. Pardon us for being hoi polloi, but it is we who are assessing the parties overall, even if we only get to vote for individual MPs assigned to each constituency. I am sorry that we the people of Singapore are so bothersome to our political leaders. After so many years of endemic walkovers, the Patronising, Arrogant Pols may have forgotten that this time, a lot of us can actually exercise our right to vote.

And just to clarify, but not to belabour the point, this Noise is not emanating from political pundits, not meddling foreign interference, not sneering and jealous neighbours who wish us ill, not even the motley opposition in Singapore. This Noise is Singaporean Voters.

I am just old enough to remember the enormous uproar caused by the Graduate Mother Policy, followed by the mortifying climb-down. Then the condescending dismissal of Chiam See Tong’s “O” levels results, the consequences for which the ruling party has had to live with for many, many years. Then last election’s mortifying climb down regarding PM Lee’s Freudian slip about “fixing the opposition”, and backing off on The James Gomez Incident. Then in this latest election cycle, the desperate shutting of the stable doors after the foreigners bolted in in what must be the Most Spectacularly Unpopular Policy in Singapore’s short history. Add Mere Mortal LKY’s artful “I stand corrected” retraction-without-a-retraction.

This pre-election, it will have to be about Tin Peiling. The critical difference, though, is no senior cadre needs to be named, blamed and shamed; she can be her own sacrificial lamb.

Tin Peiling was picked precisely to appeal to her peers, so it is with tragic irony that it is those same peers — and plenty of us older voters — who are baying for her removal/ solo contest/ jumping off coat-tails. Her presence is a growing and hideous blot on the PAP’s otherwise burnished reputation. What a distraction for not only a Senior Minister to retire gracefully while unveiling his exit strategy; but to eclipse the introduction of a much more honourable candidate, a former Army chief. Beyond distracting, it is marring.

By insisting on her credentials and hanging on to her, the PAP risks reviving its image as Patronising, Arrogant Pols on account of one such mere mortal (mm, not MM). Why? Is she really worth it? Is she worth rekindling cynical voters? Is she worth lost votes in other constituencies to the opposition? Is she worth the diminished regard of the PAP’s hallowed abilities? Is she worth the unnecessary detraction from other worthy candidates? And, yes, is she worth so much Noise??

Early on, there was talk of a suicide squad of opposition MPs to contest both impregnable constituencies: Tanjong Pagar and Marine Parade. I don’t know if that idea is still alive regarding that rather bit player party that rises like Lazarus from the dead at each election. If so, it might actually get a whole lot more votes this time than even it could hope for in its wildest dreams.

So, to return to my suggestion. Tin Peiling should simply bow out of her own accord, acknowledge that Finance Minister has been manfully striving to close the income gap not as an extra-curricular activity but because he and his wiser colleagues actually do believe that it is the Government’s responsibility to do so, and save the party the ignominy of losing a staggering lot of votes, and unnecessary distraction, and all the other reasons already mentioned.

Then to prove her mettle, she can thumb her nose at us Noise by following her namesake, Sarah Palin, and run for (Singapore) President.

I don’t want Tin Pei Ling

Dear People’s Action Party, I do not want Tin Pei Ling to be a Member of Parliament. It is partly because I do not agree with her views about the widening income gap not being the government’s responsibility. And just because she’s been volunteering at grassroots level doesn’t mean she’s automatically capable of representing people on policies. If that were the case, there must be many other social work volunteers who qualify to become MPs.

I am angry you haven’t even considered listening to us. There are many who share my views, and we are upset that you think our protests are “noise”. Sure, there are idiots who take issue with Miss Tin’s fashion sense and her affinity for branded goods, but we, the Singaporean people, are telling you very calmly and carefully, that we do not want her as one of our MPs.

She can have her internship somewhere else and learn on another job. Just not on our money. We’re not buying any more of your statements in defence of her character or “mettle” or “steel” – it’s all just noise.

But of course, with the current system in place, you are free to do whatever you want without further consultation with the people you supposedly act for.