23 August 2005

Mr Wang is Back! Miss Me?

Obviously not. Mr Wang sees 37 comments on his preceding post! So this is what happens when he takes the wife and kids away for a long weekend. All his readers, fans and detractors alike, show up at his blog and throw a big party without him!

While the cat's away ...


Dr Thio Li-Ann had written an article on the Elected Presidency, which differed sharply from Tan Sai Siong's take on the matter. Akikonomu invited Mr Wang to comment on Dr Thio's article, but Mr Wang shall decline. This is because Mr Wang generally agrees with Dr Thio's article and has little else to add.

In fact, Mr Wang would have been able to guess beforehand what Dr Thio thought about all these presidential issues. You see, years ago, as a law student, Mr Wang had to study Dr Thio's academic writings on the EP. They formed a compulsory part of the syllabus at the NUS Law Faculty. Thus Mr Wang is well-acquainted with Dr Thio's views on the EP.

(Mr Wang was also in Dr Thio's tutorial group for Public International Law. But that's another story).

Dr Thio is quite an authority on the EP subject. Back when Parliament was trying to figure out how to create the EP, the Singapore government actually consulted her (and Professor Walter Woon) for their views. Thus Dr Thio was privy to all the inner workings and deeply engaged in the thinking behind the process. The flaws exposed by the 2005 Presidential Non-Elections were all potential problems that Dr Tjio and Prof Woon noted 15 years ago. Dr Thio knows very well what the EP is all about, and where its strengths and weaknesses lie.

Between Dr Thio and Tan Sai Siong, I have no doubt at all who is better-qualified to provide an informed, intelligent view on the Elected Presidency. Of course, dear readers, feel free to judge for yourself.

KS writes:
"For example, I do not agree with you either on such statements as "I do not consider SR Nathan to have been a candidate.". Mr Nathan, with all due respect to him, was a candidate!"
Mr Wang thinks this all boils down to your understanding of the word candidate. Mr Wang has already explained his own understanding.

It is essentially a wife-&-mother situation. You can choose your wife; therefore you can have candidates. But you cannot choose your mother; there is no choice; therefore there is no candidate. You cannot choose the President either; there is no choice; therefore there is no candidate to speak of, either.

KS goes on to write angrily:
Whatever "non-legitimacy claims" that most people have written about are the results NOT of Mr Nathan's actions for putting himself forward for re-election. There is nothing wrong with Mr Nathan wanting to be the President of Singapore again!
I agree. Did anything in my post suggest otherwise? SR Nathan is not to be blamed for this sorry state of affairs.

Several anonymous commentators criticised Mr Wang's unkindness to Tan Sai Siong. Mr Wang does not think he was particularly unkind. In a country like Singapore where serious competition does not exist among the media organisations, it is extremely important to hold our journalists to high standards. Otherwise this small group of writers may infect the Singapore public with erroneous ideas and flawed thinking. Unfortunately, the Straits Times disappoints Mr Wang far more often than not. See here, here and here for examples.

Notice that Mr Wang always keeps within the boundaries of fair comment. Every time Mr Wang is displeased, he does not simply say, "This journalist is lousy" or "That article is so stupid". No, that is not Mr Wang's style at all. Mr Wang always plonks down specific, detailed reasons to explain why this particular journalist is lousy or that particular article is stupid. The industrious Mr Wang will cite specific paragraphs, pick apart the reasoning, provide counter-examples and so on.

TSS might even feel flattered that Mr Wang bothered to read her article so thoroughly. Others would just dismiss her article and move on.

Mr Wang scrutinising a fishy situation.

Unlike ST journalists, Mr Wang has a Comments section on his blog where readers are always free to say why they disagree with Mr Wang's thoughts. Even anonymous comments are welcome. Mr Wang is not like the Singapore government and as he has said before, he welcomes critics and detractors.

Don't try this in Singapore, ok?
The police will say that you're a public nuisance

Regrettably, Mr Wang's critics largely refused or were unable to explain why they (presumably) agreed with TSS's article, or why they disagreed with Mr Wang's comments on TSS's article.

In his post, Mr Wang made the point that even if SR Nathan was a thoroughly unsuitable candidate on account of extremely poor health, he would still have become President. Specifically, Mr Wang wrote:
There is completely no point talking about SR Nathan's quality as a president, if he is the only one permitted to run. For example, imagine that SR Nathan was seriously ill with AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic gastric ulcers today, but still wanted to be President. Nothing would stop him. Except death. As long as he manages to stay alive, he would become President.
Anonymous Nth criticised Mr Wang for mentioning the word "AIDS". He felt that it was "offensive and unnecessary". Mr Wang does not agree. The context of the post makes it clear that Mr Wang was describing a purely hypothetical situation, to illustrate a valid point.

Lest it be said that Mr Wang just does not like and does not accept criticism, please see the Comments section of one of his old posts. There a reader pointed out that one of Mr Wang's funny captions was potentially offensive; Mr Wang thanked him very much for the feedback and immediately replaced the caption with a non-offensive version. Here, Mr Wang would similarly amend his post, if he thought that the AIDS comment was offensive. He does not think so, and so it will stay.

Perhaps Anonymous Nth thinks about AIDS in a way that Mr Wang does not. I hope not. That would be sad.

AIDS mother & child in Kenya.
After all these years, should the stigma still remain?


In other news, Mr Wang attracted various little criticisms. The title of his blog was criticised. Since Mr Wang is always open to feedback, feel free to email suggestions for a new title. Just like "Mr Wang Said So!", the new title should be a little humorous and also reflect the idea that this blog is all about expressing views and opinions.

The commentator known only as KX also told Mr Wang to "go public" with his real name. As many of Mr Wang's old fans know, Mr Wang had tried that previously and his blog at that time was well-regarded and widely cited in blogosphere. However, during the Acidflask saga, Mr Wang regretfully concluded that circumstances in Singapore were not yet sufficiently conducive to free speech. He shut down the blog, a closure that ironically drew the attention of ST columnists in the Review/Insight sections of the Straits Times and was also noted by several international media organisations.

Mr Wang and Superman are quite similar.
Their "secret" identities are well-known to many of their fans.


Anonymous said...

hi, just thought that perhaps to better convince your readers, you might want to commend on articles in ST that you think are actually good, and not just criticise on the bad ones.

akikonomu said...

Aiyoh, Mr Wong, you change your blog name again, will force many people to update their blogrolls again leh! Dunwan! LAZY LARH!!oto

Beach-yi said...

To first anonmynous, that there are good artices will be more likely than not have been syndicated from other news agencies like reuters and whatnots.

My toes are laughing.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

I have just discovered your blog. Cutting, succinct and spot on. Greatly enjoy it.


i thought Mr Wang did mention a good article in ST-- Dr Thio Li Ann's.

darrnot said...

Mr Wang, you are so smart, have you considering joining politics? I will surely give you my vote. We need smart people like you in charge.

Sleepless in Singapore said...

I enjoy reading Mr Wang's blogs. On the whole I find his arguments well-thought out and systematically presented. Hence to accuse him of 'character assination' is really unfair and overboard. If you find his arguments or analyses flawed, you can always point our the error and present your point of view. In other words, you should do to him what he did to Tan Sai Siong

Anonymous said...

To the 1st anonymous: Mr Wang, unlike the SPH, does not have an agenda to try to convince anyone on anything other than to express his own mind.

Anonymous said...

So be it if you are so adamant and don't think the paragraph about AIDS etc offensive.

I suppose even if you are seriously ill with AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic gastric ulcers today, nothing would stop you from saying this. Except death. As long as you manage to stay alive, you would say so.

Anonymous said...

"circumstances in Singapore were not yet sufficiently conducive to free speech"

disappointed that you use this excuse for cover-up.

someone of your standing (from your pompous self write-up) there should be nothing for you to fear.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Tell that to Acidflask, heheh. Ah, if only you knew.

Anonymous said...

anonymous nth,

please forgive mr wang

if he doesn't vent his anger on the president, the blood will clot in his brains and we would not hear from him again

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

If you think I am angry with SR Nathan, then you obviously do not understand my posts at all.

If there had really been a Kuan-vs-Nathan presidential election this year, I would definitely have voted for SR Nathan.

As I mentioned in this earlier post, Andrew Kuan, in my opinion, is a dud.

Elsewhere in this blog, I have described SR Nathan as a "nice, decent man". I meant that for real, not hypothetically (contrast the AIDS example).

Ah, but perhaps these points are just too subtle for you, poor fella.

Admin said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

I share your sentiments and agree whole heartedly with Thio.

As the saying goes, who check the checkers of the checker? The empowerment must always come from the people. If the people chose the wrong person, so be it; its their choice anyway. Who to blame?

There is logical inconsistency in the EP act. The Elected President holds passive powers, as correctly pointed out by Thio.. "reactive" is the exact word she used. And the candidates are subjected to the judgement of the three wise men. However, for any candidates in GE who are potentially a minister in the making, there isn't a need of any checks by the three wise men? Ministers are ACTIVE policy makers that will spend the budget and sometimes, the reserves!

And it begs the question, if candidates who are potentially the ministers are not checked, but when they apply to be candidates for the EP, they automatically qualify? This is a flawed logic in the system!

If one argues that it is basically because the ministers are empowered by the voters that grant him that power, then why wouldn't any normal citizen be granted the power to become EP but need to be check by the three wise men? Incoherent system we have here.

And how about ministers who have lost his seat but decide to run for Presidency? He has lost the empowerment of his constituents but by virtue of the fact that he has been a minister before, he is qualified to be a candidate for the Presidency? While, if one MP just resigned from his seat to contest the Presidency, he isn't qualified to become a candidate?

What consistency of the concept of Power and Qualification lies?

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, if you say your points are too subtle, then you should explain them.

I also feel your part about AIDS etc is uncalled for. You could just simply said "if Mr Nathan will to be too ill..." If many people feel this way, then it sticks.

What is the point if the majority do not understand you. Then you are living in your ivory tower alienated from common folks. You don't understand them.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Well, the point is this -

whether SR Nathan is bursting with life and energy and vitality and IQ and drive and commitment and capability and talent; or

whether SR Nathan is sick and dying and tottering on his feet and plagued by half a dozen illnesses -

all this is irrelevant because he would still have become President.

This goes to show that TSS is wasting time talking about the qualities of SR Nathan (and for that matter, the qualities of all the non-existent candidates). It doesn't matter how good or how bad SR Nathan is -

because no one else is permitted to compete against him, SR Nathan would become President anyway.

In turn, this shows how farcical the system has become.

There. I hope the point is not too subtle for you now.

Anonymous said...

qa, please don't harp on the same point. Mr Wang is very stressed already.

As he said he was not cursing Mr Nathan with all sorts of illnesses, he was just illustrating his point.

Mr Wang, go to a health centre to relax, but take precautions. If you get infested with AIDS etc, and your knows - big trouble. Take care.

Anonymous said...

To kx: who is pompous? Mr Wang or Ass*Star's Philip Yeo? Take a poll, yah? So stop being a PAP apologist.

Anonymous said...

Someone think pompous, you say not pompous. Just different views.

pacific : Like that also can't tolerate, must abuse and accuse others. you mr wang's guard dog or what.