16 March 2006

Sigh. Reading This Forum Letter Gives Me A Headache

March 16, 2006
Thank goodness, S'pore isn't South Africa

SHE was the embodiment of passion, of music, of poetry, of charm, of grace and of life itself. She, Miriam Makeba, gave a splendid performance on Tuesday night. Her songs were lilting, full of vigour and enthusiasm. But it was what she said that prompted me to write.

She spoke to us of apartheid in South Africa, of freedom, of oppression. She thanked the children who protested with placards and the women who raised their voices for the freedom which her people today enjoy. She thanked her leaders for their work and for teaching her people forgiveness. She spoke of the difficulty of developing her nation after obtaining freedom.

We, the citizens of Singapore, can be grateful that we have not had to struggle with racial and religious issues and oppression. We live as one nation, one people, in peace and harmony. We feel no constraints and inhibitions at attending each other's religious and cultural events.

In any one week, I could find myself singing a hymn in church, attending a Hindu wedding in a temple, sitting on the floor and saying prayers at an Islamic home and participating in the tea ceremony of somebody's wedding. Last Saturday, I danced to my favourite Mandarin song in the early part of the evening and, in the later part, grooved to Bhangra music at a Bhangra party.

We sometimes take things for granted and we forget that the peace and harmony which we enjoy today are the result of careful planning, brilliant thinking and good management. The Pledge, the countless campaigns and what may seem like engineered processes have all contributed to this peace.

We have our founding fathers and mothers (for there were women in the initial team that helped to establish this nation) to thank for this. In particular, we must thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew for his vision, his energy and his determination to provide us with a great nation, one that has many comforts and one that we are all so proud to be citizens of.

The Singapore of 2006 is a beautiful, clean and green nation. At Jurong East two
weeks ago, I was impressed by the architectural designs of the apartment blocks
and of the many attractive gardens that seem to link the blocks together.

On Sunday, as I enjoyed the wonderful ambience, the beautiful decor and the lights in the Fullerton Hotel, I could not help but think what a splendid restoration this building had undergone, particularly if, like me, you can remember that it was dark and grey when it was a post office.

In education, our young today have so many choices in terms of courses and subjects. We have a sports school and soon we will have an arts school. Our schools, educational institutes, polytechnics and universities have splendid facilities, state-of-the-art equipment and great teachers. There are many more
interesting jobs for people today and research activities abound in all fields.

We are fortunate to have good theatres and there is much to enjoy in terms of culture and the arts. The future augurs well for Singapore and we can look forward to more of the best in lifestyle, in activities, in community and health services, in the economy, in banking and finance.

To the people at the Esplanade, thank you for bringing in great artistes like Miriam Makeba. Please continue to give us stimulating shows that will enhance the cultural life of our nation.

To the Government of Singapore, thank you for giving us a peaceful country, of cultural and racial tolerance and religious harmony. Thank you for making me what I am today: a true Singaporean.

Zaibun Siraj(Ms)


And we shall all bow down and give thanks to Lee Kuan Yew and live happily ever after on Singapore, the world's greatest nation. Amen.

Okay, okay. I will rein in my cynicism since this woman Zaibun Siraj seems to sincerely believe in what she was saying. I'll just confine myself to offering a few, yes, just a few, of my thoughts on the contents of her letter.

Firstly, I'm somewhat amazed that Zaibun gets satisfaction from a thought like "thank goodness, Singapore isn't South Africa." If she can get satisfaction in this fashion, I suppose she would jump for joy if she had thoughts such as "thank goodness, Singapore isn't Rwanda" or "thank goodness, Singapore isn't North Korea".

Still I hope that the average Singaporean is more ambitious than that. It's really very pathetic if you're happy just because your country compares favourably to some of the world's most backward or troubled or repressed countries. Can we set our standards a bit higher, please. I mean, we DO pay our leaders the world's highest ministerial salaries, after all.

I agree fully with Zaibun that the kind of repression we speak of in Singapore is very trivial compared to what went on in South Africa during the apartheid years. Still when Zaibun wrote about the oppression in South Africa and in contrast, the lack of oppression in Singapore, a very specific thought instantly popped into my mind. Did it pop into yours too?

Yes, I was thinking of South African Mr Nelson Mandela and our very own Chia Thye Poh. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years essentially for his political beliefs and activities, and holds the world record for having been the longest-serving political prisoner. Singaporean Chia Thye Poh, detained under Singapore's Internal Security Act, was detained for 23 years and is the 2nd longest-serving political prisoner.

Oh darn it. Singapore just missed out narrowly on another world no. 1.

One difference is that Mr Nelson Mandela actually had his day in court. He was convicted after a full, open (and very public) trial in the courts of South Africa. In contrast, Chia Thye Poh never got to step into a courtroom at all. The ISD stepped into the picture, arrested him and basically just whisked him away from the rest of the world.

So we do have a world record after all. Chia was the world's longest-serving political prisoner to have been detained without any trial at all.

What has this wild boar got to do with Chia Thye Poh?
Click here to find out.

Moving on ....

Zaibun Siraj painted a very happy picture of our education system. Well, I guess we're all entitled to our own views. Here's a different kind of view on our education system. And here's another. I also just learned today from Singabloodypore that youth suicide is a big problem in Singapore and "study stress" is one of the two main reasons for this. Well, if this keeps up, we might soon have another world record on our hands.

There's a lot more that I could say, but it's getting late and I'm getting sleepy. So I'll just make two more points. Firstly, about the Esplanade. Many local theatre and music groups are still angry about it. We spent $660 million building the two big durians and in the process sucked the local theatre and music groups dry of sponsorship money. Then when the durians were ready, we brought in foreigners like Miriam Makeba (wonderful though she undoubtedly is) and once again, the struggling Singaporean artistes don't get a chance.

Secondly, take a look at this:
The future augurs well for Singapore and we can look forward to more of the best in lifestyle, in activities, in community and health services, in the economy, in banking and finance.
This Zaibun woman actually asserts that here in Singapore, we enjoy the best in:

1. lifestyle,
2. activities
3. community services
4. health services
5. the economy; AND
6. banking and finance.

Wow. We're world no. 1 again, in six broad areas. According to Zaibun, I guess we just defeated Geneva, and Zurich, and Sydney, and Melbourne, and Tokyo, and London, and Hong Kong, and Vancouver, and Helsinki, and Copenhagen and _____ .

Doesn't that just remind you of what I recently wrote about Singapore's unhealthy culture of unfounded self-praise?

Sigh. Click here to see where Singapore really stands in the world.

"Well, if nothing else, I have a good chance
of setting a new record for the world's longest nose."

45 comments:

Yawning Bread said...

Chia Thye Poh had been subject to the ISA for a total of 32 years, not 23, unless one counts a small hut on Sentosa Island as "release".

1966 detained under ISA in a cell
1982 transfered to various halfway houses
1989 transfered to Sentosa, allowed to roam around the tourist island (hurray!)
1992 transfered back to main island Singapore but with some freedom of movement
1998 all ISA restrictions lifted.

yi said...

hey i totally agree with your views, in fact i felt exactly so when i read the letter in ST!

there've been so many calls to include other 'founding fathers' in national education syllabus.. i think students should also be informed abt the darker side of things that really go on - i've only learnt abt chia thye poh earlier this year, and felt like ive spent 20 naiive years!..

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you for the correction, Yawning Bread.

Wohoooo! Another undisputed world record for Singapore.

Btw, see you at the students' conference next month. I hear you're going to be talking about "Singapore, Our Home". Heheh.

yh said...

i wonder who writes these letters, knowing that letters praising the old NKF were actually written by their own staff.
Without proper reporting from the media, we will never know how good, or bad, the situation is.

Anonymous said...

What manner of person is this Zaibun Siraj, if she exists indeed?
If she has any religious conviction of sincerity at all, how can she honestly reconcile to her God (whatever religious persuasion she claims affiliation to) by professing to:
1) Singing a hymn in church, AND
2) Saying prayers at an Islamic home?

This Zaibun reminds me suspiciously of Madam Zuraimah, the dog hater who got two youngsters into jail.

amatu said...

LOL. Yea, this zaibun lady just contradicted herself by singing hymm in the church and saying islamic prayers. Must be a fake.

Anyway, this is singaporean view as its best.

angry doc said...

"What manner of person is this Zaibun Siraj, if she exists indeed?"

Google is a wonderful thing...

singaporean said...

Even under apartheid, South Africa has the largest and most developed economy in the African continent. If material comforts are paramount, then even Miriam Makeba would have to concede that thanks to the brilliant management of the White Men, she wasnt starving, like in Ethiopia. No coup d'etat, no civil war, like in most African nations.

In fact, since the end of apartheid, South Africa had been hit by increases in violent crime. Today, South Africa is ranked number one for murder by firearm and rape per capita. Post-apartheid South Africa is a nation that legalises installation of flamethrowers on cars as an anti-carjacking measure.

The government, now ran by all races, is constantly charged with corruption allegations.

From this Zaibun's perspective, perhaps she meant she is grateful Singapore isnt South Africa, post-apartheid. Better to trade some freedom to keep the White Men/Men-in-White in charge.

Even under apartheid, the coloured are free to protest with placards en masse. In Singapore, one will have to be careful not to wear a t-shirt with a wrong type of animal in the wrong colour at the wrong mrt station, let alone public demonstrations. It seems that it is illegal at any number.

Under apartheid, the Catholic church was free to criticise the government. In Singapore, if too many churchgoers do horrible things, like fight for rights for filipino maids, or worse still, have ties with the opposition parties, you get locked up without trial. Even respected lawyers who try to represent you get locked up, without trial.

Operation Spectrum

Marxist plot revisited

Anonymous said...

Mr wANG: u and your respondents are quite ignorant. Shame on you for not knowing. (Guess you'll remove this comment as you wnn't like your ignorance to be shown up!) Zaibun Siraj was once an anti-establishment activist like yourself. She's a founder of AWARE. She seems to have had a death-bed conversion. Doh! Our govt ain't half as bad as people like u made it out to be, if even Zaibun can sink its praises!

ted said...

Oooo...maybe she's just being sacarstic? I don't know, is there only one Zaibun in this Singapore?

Mr Wang Says So said...

I know she teaches in one of the local polys and yes, she still is involved in women's rights etc. And no doubt if I bothered to google her name, I would find more info.

But really, I don't find that relevant. I like to focus on the message, not the messenger -

and my post was about the letter, not its writer. If the letter had been written by LKY himself, I would have said what I said, and if it had been written by Chiam See Tong, I would also have said what I said.

Funnily enough, so far no one has actually been able to come forward to say why exactly he or she thinks any part of my post is wrong, unreasonable or unjustified.

hugewhaleshark said...

Not unjustified at all. I mean dispense already with the stock PR lines. How many Chinese Singaporeans have attended a Hindu wedding or prayed in the home of a Muslim? Sure, we live together with no major arguements. But let's just save the happy happy joy joy, OK?

hugewhaleshark said...

Given it is election time, I would naturally think up more "promotional" reasons for the letter, shall we say...

NoHoldsBar said...

This Zaibun woman might be one of the new woman candidates the PAP is going to reveal.

Anonymous said...

In 1997, Singapore’s legal system was rated best in the world by
the World Competitive Yearbook produced by the International Institute for Management Development (IIMD) based on its contribution to economic competitiveness.

For an objective academic analysis of Singapore's judiciary, see "Ross Worthington, Hermes and Themis: An Empirical Study of the Contemporary Judiciary in Singapore".

Available for download at:
http://www.freefileupload.net/file.php?file=files/170306/1142621174/Hermes+and+Themis+Worthington.pdf

Read it and then decide for yourself whether our judicial system is among the best in the world.

Mr Wang Says So said...

????

Did Zaibun or I say anything about the Singapore judiciary?

What's the reason for the sudden change of topic, into an area which neither Zaibun nor I touched on?

Anonymous said...

Based on past international acclaim, perhaps Singapore could also enjoy the best in legal system?

Mr Wang Says So said...

I would actually agree with this. For years now, PERC has consistently ranked Singapore's courts as the world's best for handling business disputes. Basically, we are relatively inexpensive and very efficient, our business & commercial laws are sophisticated and well-developed, and our judges are fair, transparent and highly qualified, ... and definitely not corrupt!

In fact, as far as commercial disputes are concerned, there is definitely no judiciary in Asia that I would trust more than Singapore's. And I don't say this out of unfounded pride as a Singaporean, but as a lawyer with international experience across Asia. I routinely handle legal matters in many parts of Asia including Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines ... and let me say this again - on business disputes, there is no judiciary in Asia I trust more than Singapore's.

So if Zaibun had said, "Oh Singapore has the best court system in the world for handling business disputes," I would have said, "Zaibun, you're probably right." Facts are facts, after all.

However, Zaibun's claims were different, and much more grandiose, and she asserted that Singapore is the best in:

1. lifestyle,
2. activities
3. community services
4. health services
5. the economy; AND
6. banking and finance.

and that is what reminds me of what I had earier written about Singapore's unhealthy culture of unfounded self-praise.

Anonymous said...

I may be missing something, but where did she say we are the "best"?

Anonymous said...

I like to focus on the message, not the messenger -
-- mr wang, yo! international banking lawyer, big shot leh! but u have a tendency to be self-deceiving. When u focus on the message, you inevitably also focus on the creator of the message, unless u're accusing Ms Zaibun of being a messeger rather than the originator of the message. If Ms Zaibun is the originator, then her background, her motivations must matter as they would shed more light on what she is saying and let her readers judge what she's saying in context. In short, it goes to show, what impt lawyers like u call, "her bias".
Btw, when I see the relentless way u hammer at journalists, esp. those in the SPH stable, I suspect something terrible must have happened to u when u worked/interned there, or perhaps the papers at one time or other were cruel to you or one of your loved ones. Your honour, I rest my case, teehee!

Mr Wang Says So said...

"The future augurs well for Singapore and we can look forward to more of the best in lifestyle, in activities, in community and health services, in the economy, in banking and finance."

Not only does she say that we already have the best, but she further asserts that we can look forward to even "more" of the best.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Haha! Okay lah, sorry hor, next time before I comment on anyone's letter to the ST Forum, I will first interview the person and ask him 20 questions about his background, date of birth, hobbies, occupation, personality type etc, so that I can understand his motivatons ok?

Meanwhile, all of you folks, when you read the ST Forum, please hor, please hor, don't form an opinion about any letter and what it says until the Straits Times publishes his biodata so that you can "judge what she's saying in context."

Well done lah, Anonymous 5:10:40 pm. Very intelligent of you.

(Oh wait, sorri hor, I take that back, I'm not supposed to form an opinion about you until you publish your motivations).

Anonymous said...

what about non-commercial disputes involving singaporean citizens and the state? Does Mr Wang think our judiciary strike a fair balance between justice and efficiency?

Mr Wang Says So said...

I'm glad you took notice of my choice of words. Sometimes I feel that many of my readers don't read my posts as carefully as you have just done, and they often impute views, opinions & stances to me which I don't actually hold.

I think that the Singapore courts are always quite efficient in handling cases, commercial or otherwise. By "efficient", I mean that cases run through the system, and get heard and decided, relatively quickly - which is good, because in some other countries, cases can get stuck for years in the system.

Apart from efficiency, there is the question of justice. For the people of Singapore at large, I think that the main source of injustice and inequity in the system lies from the fact that huge chunks of our criminal laws have remained unrevised for a long, long time, over 100 years. Thus even today the people of Singapore are forced to live with criminal concepts that really belong to the early colonial days.

Happily, the Ministry of Home Affairs is now undertaking a comprehensive review of the Penal Code. Among the many changes expected that it will now finally become lawful for husband and wife to have oral sex. That's just one example of how archaic our current laws are. The review is coming, but I would say that it's about 45 years overdue.

The other aspect of our legal system that sometimes gets a notorious reputation is the laws of defamation, thanks to its use by PAP members to bankrupt opposition members and disqualify them from elections. Frankly I think that the laws of defamation in Singapore are in principle very sound, and in those defamation cases between politicians where I have actually scrutinised & studied the actual court judgement, I tend to come away with the impression that the law was accurately & correctly applied by the judge.

Where I think the Singapore system may have gone wrong is not so much the substantive principles of our law of defamation, but the quantum of damages that gets awarded.

I can easily imagine other approaches. For example, say one politician was found to be liable for defaming another. Instead of ordering the defamer to pay a crushing amount of damages (and thereby effectively ending his political career, as bankrupts cannot run for election etc), an alternative could be offered to the defamer; he could be given the option to publish an apology in three newspapers, admitting that he had defamed the other politician - and only if he refused to publish such an apology, would he have to pay the crushing damages.

That, as I see it, is a much more equitable solution.

Anonymous said...

Assuming you are correct - the substantive law of defamation in Singapore is consistent with very sound legal principles - why is it that in other common law jurisdictions(UK, US or AUS) we do not see the same level of litigation over political defamation? Why is it that so far, all defamation suits litigated by PAP plaintiffs have suceeded whereas none by their adversaries?

The quantum of damages awarded for political defamation is unfair. There is a big difference in amount of damages awarded to political/non-political plaintiffs. There is also the unfair award of legal costs. JBJ is bankrupt now because he had to pay 60% of legal costs for all 10 plaintiff lawyers in one suit. JBJ was ordered to pay $600,000, out of which $20,000 was damages awarded to the plaintiff (GCT) for the defamatory words.

Z

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yes, when I spoke about "damages" I was also thinking of legal costs.

Why do we not see the same scope of political defamation litigation in other countries? Well, firstly I think that their treatment of legal exceptions under the law of defamation is perhaps somewhat wider than ours (for example, the scope of "fair comment" is wider) - but this in itself does not make our laws unsound.

Secondly, I would think that politicians elsewhere, when challenged by an opponent, are much less likely to think of the courts as an avenue for redress. The initiation of the legal suit itself would likely be perceived by the people as wrong or inappropriate. Imagine for example Bush suing Kerry for defamation (even if such a suit could succeed under US laws) and the suit could potentially eliminate Kerry's chances for presidency due to bankruptcy -

I think that a large chunk of Americans would be disgusted and say "Why can't you, as a politician, just have a public debate about your issues and let the people judge for themselves; whatever happened to freedom of expression? Kerry should have the right to say whatever he wants to say, even if he's an idiot!"

and the backlash would be severe against Bush.

Naturally, and for a variety of reasons peculiar to Singapore, we wouldn't expect to see any such backlash in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

If anyone bothered to find out what is the cause, i.e. what he actually said, that resulted in JBJ having to pay $600,000 in damages, than one can see how ridiculous (or biased, i.e. "partial") the judiciary is. No matter how hard one tries to justify that verdict or the awarding of that amount of damages, it is plain that the S'pore court behaves like a lackey for the PAP ministers. Independence my arse!

Anonymous said...

It might be worth noting that the US Department of State's latest report on Singapore lists "executive influence over the judiciary" as a human rights problem.

Anonymous said...

why not read something controversial?

http://www.singapore-window.org/icjjbrep.htm

An outsider's report of the JBJ trial. One wonders why all these outsiders are so intent on destroying the reputation of our judiciary.

Z

Anonymous said...

Okay, my mistake.

I think in Singapore we do get samples of what world class things are, but not everything is world class. For instance, we do have a few pretty good hospitals but not all would be considered "best". We have some parts of the transport system that are tip top, but some parts of it are definitely imperfect. Being seamlessly perfect is something we have to continue to strive for.

Aiyah, Mr Wang, you seem to hate Singapore. I went to places like Japan and Australia and was pretty disappointed because I keep on expecting everything to be 100 times better than Singapore.

Of course our nature and weather can't be compared to any other country, but if you look at what Man can do in light of geographical constraints, I think we deserve a pat on the back with a view to further improving ourselves. In terms of infrastructure, what else do you think we can do? Suggestions, instead of just criticism, would go a long way towards becoming one of the best.


Mugster

Mr Wang Says So said...

I don't know where you get the idea that I hate Singapore. I suggest you reread my "Heart of Asia" post again to understand where I'm coming from.

I'm very much into improving things. Singapore has achieved some pretty impressive things, and I would love to see Singapore achieve even more. I live here, you know.

But I don't think self-deception helps us towards this goal. It only hinders us. Unfortunately, as I said, Singapore has developed this strange culture of self-praise. We make all kinds of utterances about how great we are in this, how great we are in that, and half the time it's true, but the other half the time, it's just NOT true.

I have no issue with the true utterances. If someone says, "We have a world-class airport; we have a world-class port", I have no issue. My problem is with the untrue utterances, which are made so frequently that Singaporeans, some at least, get deceived. I mean - they REALLY get deceived.

I mean - how are you going to really improve yourself, if you don't even know where you really stand right now? Or worse, if you have a very mistaken belief about where you really stand?

A few months ago, I met a young chap, an NUS 1st year undergrad. He told me proudly that he was proud to be studying in a world-class university. Oh my goodness. This is what I mean. NUS is a decent place, but it's certainly not world-class. And there's no shame in not being world-class, and NUS can work towards being world-class, and maybe years from now, it WILL be world-class.

But this is the year 2006, and there is this undergrad, and he actually believes that he is studying in a world-class university. Not knowing that in Asia alone, there are universities in China, Japan, Korea and India (MANY in India) that rank ahead of NUS.

Why does this NUS undergrad believe what he believes? He was a victim of our culture of unfounded self-praise. "Boston of the East". "World-class university". Etc. Words that we bandy around freely, in connection with NUS and NTU.

Ask yourself - is this healthy? Is this good for Singapore - that our own people don't know what we are, who we are, and we really stand?

singaporean said...

Mugster,

it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Perhaps you can lead the way by providing constructive comments as to how Mr Wang can improve his blog. What exactly should he cover then, and how? Take the landmine issue for example. Are you suggesting that since there are greater evils elsewhere, the landmine issue shouldnt be brought up at all? Cant the landmine issue be a low lying fruit that is easier to solve than the complex issue of MNCs corruption?

And as one "Castle and Bishop" pointed out, Mr Wang does crave for attention, and does have an agenda to pursue. Truth be told, Mr Wang IS trying to be controversial and sensational just as any good journalist would, so as to keep readers hooked. You do return again and again, dont you? Certainly you dont agree much with him, but you do read every single last word he writes, dont you? Then that is mission accomplished. Remember, there is no Mr Wang, any more than there is a Ms Xiaxue or Mr Brown. This could just be a work of fiction, and the objective is merely to get you thinking about issues. For all you know, Mr Wang could be a PAP cadre whose sole objective is to bring out the patriotic people like you. You know, reverse psychology. I for one wouldnt place bet against the REAL Mr Wang doing a Raymond Lim: one moment chairing the government criticising Roundtable, next moment get co-opted into the cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Dearie, for one moment I thought u were writing about yourself but then hey, u're writing abt S'poreans in general...hehe!
"But I don't think self-deception helps us towards this goal. It only hinders us. Unfortunately, as I said, Singapore has developed this strange culture of self-praise. We make all kinds of utterances about how great we are in this, how great we are in that, and half the time it's true, but the other half the time, it's just NOT true."

amatu said...

Yea, Mugsters. Im sure you can do better than Mr Wang. Your hardworking traits can definitely find better ways of improving singapore without self-praising herself. Do we need to tell people when we are the best?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Funny, I haven't met a Singaporean person who appreciates what we have. I'm not talking about giving praise like a crazed patriot. I'm talking about understatedly acknowledging the efforts of other Singaporeans, and recognizing that every Singaporean has to play a part. Meeting this undergrad you met would be a welcome change. I admit that self-praise isn't good, but sometimes having a few taglines helps to convince the masses (who haven't been abroad, and who are convinced that we suck) that we're not so lao-ya afterall.

I think world-class is a convenient label. Lots of things are "world-class". "World-class" places don't necessarily have the best practices in place. It connotates that we can begin to compare NUS and NTU to some universities you've mentioned, but it doeesn't mean we think we're as accomplished as they are.

The way I see it, our infrastructure is there, it's our people who are not world-class yet. Even undergrads, supposedly the cream of the crop, plagiarise, and that sucks. And of course the behaviour at MRT stations, sales and buffets is terrible.

Of course, having these seemingly self-congratulatory titles may be necessary. I met this Brown uni graduate who was doing a special course in international relations in China, and she was actually surprised that I, a Singaporean, speak English. (I mean, hello, we may not be a nation of writers but we can understand the language fine.)

That's life. If a country is small, it doesn't matter. Even if we praise ourselves to the skies, what trickles down to the ears of the rest is the world is "Hey, Singaporeans speak English pretty good for Asians."


Mugster

Anonymous said...

We also have to take a leaf out of the book of the West. Everyone acknowledges that Americans are good at marketing. If you tell yourself you are the best, (or that your country has a semblance of what would be considered the best), then you would behave befittingly of a nation striving to maintain its position.

It's a well-documented phenomenon, right? Tell a person he is good and he brightens up and exerts effort to match the expectations of him. But if you tell a person that he's not so good, he thinks that he need not work so hard anyway because he could never catch up with the best. He stays mediocre.


>>>Singaporean: Mr Wang doesn't exist? Fascinating idea... That's a thought.


Mugster

Mr Wang Says So said...

Okay. I'm going to suspend my disbelief and accept that you sincerely believe what you say (just like in the landmines post).

Taking your words at face value, then I simply say we have a big difference of opinions.

You believe that Singapore should make loud, constant claims to be much better than it really is, for example, assert itself to be "world-class" in areas that it is - that's because you believe that the pretence is ok, because you see certain benefits, such as confidence-building, marketing advantages etc. You even assert that it may be NECESSARY to tell such lies.

I don't. I believe in truth and honesty, and furthermore I believe that in order to improve, you really need to know what your strengths and weaknesses, and in addition, I DON'T believe that you cannot be proud of Singapore without deluding yourself as to what it is.

So I will continue to blog the way I blog, pointing national self-deceptions where I see them (mind you, this is a very recent theme - I also blog about many other topics) -

while as for you, please feel free to start your blog and tell the world that Singapre is indeed the world's best in:

1. lifestyle,
2. activities
3. community services
4. health services
5. the economy; AND
6. banking and finance.
7. ....
8. [insert confidence-building lie]....
9. [insert marketing-advantage lie]
10. ....
11. ....

Etc etc.

Anonymous said...

1)Well done lah, Anonymous 5:10:40 pm. Very intelligent of you.
(Oh wait, sorri hor, I take that back, I'm not supposed to form an opinion about you until you publish your motivations).

Wangie, u real one cool cute dude, leh! For that, I'll giv you a reading, using your blog postings instead of tea-leaves. N 'cuse my frank no holds bar assesment k, since you "believe in truth and honesty, and furthermore I believe that in order to improve, you really need to know what your strengths and weaknesses".
1. You're a bully -- subjects u whack like journalists don't normally have the teeth or inclination to fight back. So it always looks as tho u one big hero who's won all the arguments.
2. You're a coward -- where the law and judiciary are concerned u choose your words oh so carefully and cleverly and ingratiatingly. Clearly u cover your backside, frontside etc
3.You're a fake -- because u're not the angry young Singaporean u make yourself out to be but an opportunistic one, the scenario painted so aptly by Singaporean that I'll say no more.
4. Mr Wang exists all right... go check out his alter ego as XXXWang.
5. If u get what u want, please don't 4get to cross this gypsy's palm with silver, or I'll add ungrateful to your list of other attributes.
6. Cackle...

Anonymous said...

Lol, claiming to be world-class doesn't mean we're claiming to be the best. You can be in the same class, but it doesn't mean you are claiming to top the class.

Wrt landmine issue, I accept that we have a fundamental difference in opinion about whether your bank (as with many companies) can be considered ethical. I have never bothered to debate about whether landmines are ethical, my main grouse is that precious few industries can claim to be ethical. Suppose we remove landmines from the debate, it doesn't change the fact that many of the products we use are not derived ethically.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/03/17/MNGCTHPFFR1.DTL&feed=rss.news

"The protests came as parliamentarians in the national capital, Jakarta, have demanded that Freeport pay higher taxes as a way of compensating Indonesia for the right to mine what the company calls the world's largest gold deposit.

Freeport, consistently among the largest sources of income for the government, announced record profits in the final quarter of last year, as gold prices reached a 25-year high.

Waste from its mine, whose gold ores are expected to last another 35 years, already covers some 90 square miles of former wetlands and continues to accumulate at a rate of some 700,000 tons a day.

Much of the waste is dumped directly into the Aghawagon River, and villagers have long been allowed by the Indonesian army, which serves as the mine's security force, to retrieve pieces of gold from it. "

Mugster

Anonymous said...

Mugster, you're really struggling, aren't you.

"Lol, claiming to be world-class doesn't mean we're claiming to be the best. You can be in the same class, but it doesn't mean you are claiming to top the class."

"World-class", "the best", what hasn't Singapore claimed to be. Except that it's quite often just a outright false claim.

Anonymous said...

Erm, to be honest, I am not struggling. Let's put it this way, there can only be one world-best, so of all the countries that claim to be world best, all except one are lying, by your logic.


Mugster

Anonymous said...

Struggling again, Mugster? I've lived and worked in a number of countries, and I really haven't seen any country other than S'pore which have a habit of claiming to be world-class or the best or (to use your latest invention) "world-best", in areas that they're not.

It's really a very Singaporean thing, you know. You want to be dishonest, then be. But at least don't accuse other countries of it.

amatu said...

lol. How can mugster be struggling? He/she is a hardworking person. Nothing is too tough for him/her.

John Riemann Soong said...

"What manner of person is this Zaibun Siraj, if she exists indeed?
If she has any religious conviction of sincerity at all, how can she honestly reconcile to her God (whatever religious persuasion she claims affiliation to) by professing to:
1) Singing a hymn in church, AND
2) Saying prayers at an Islamic home?"

Uh, I'm a Christian who wouldn't find any problems saying prayers in an Islamic home. We worship the same God, after all, that's my view, would provide a diversity in methods what. If I were back in Singapore, I wouldn't find any problem spending the occasional day in a mosque, and in fact I very much want to.

It would be akin to taking French to strengthen one's grasp of English, would it not? It doesn't reject your faith, if anything it makes it stronger, especially for the closely related Abrahamic religions.

I don't think the compatability applies the other way round though.

And as a side note, your average PSLE essay sounds like this. This means that a lot of our propaganda sounds like it is written by a 12-year-old, and on the other hand, vividly recalling when I was still a 12-year-old, we used a lot of cliches.

My teacher once pointed out how many of kept using the language of "azure blue sky/eyes" and "magnolia-coloured sun", while saying "do you actually know what azure blue is?", and "have any of you actually seen magnolias? Why do you keep using these terms?", she said with a laugh. They were the kinds you aren't really penalised for using at that point, but had become increasing cliches.

(At this point I raised my hand like the person I had seen magnolias in my previous stay but then she promptly shut me up.)

gayathri said...

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