26 September 2006

On Young Singaporeans

ST Sep 24, 2006
PM to young: Help make S'pore better
By Peh Shing Huei

THEY told Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong they wanted to engage the Government, to contribute and be heard.

But the question that several young Singaporeans had at a dialogue with him yesterday was how. A youth parliament perhaps? Or internships with ministers, through blogs, or more such dialogues?

Mr Lee listened intently, interacting with the 220 in the audience at the Supreme Court auditorium, and gave this assurance: His Government recognises and encourages them to be a part of the process here.

What was important, he said, was not so much the medium used.

'What you really need is also not just the medium but to be on the same wavelength as the young people, to know what the young people are concerned about and to be able to talk to them so that they connect, their concerns, their issues,' he said.

He told the audience that included students, civil servants, representatives from the media, youth and voluntary organisations that their generation 'had been prepared to the best of our ability'.

Picking up a point from one participant who noted a recent survey which said youths wanted to migrate, he said they must ask themselves about their obligations to Singapore.

Reminding them of the seriousness of his pledge to engage them, he said: 'We're looking for a young generation to come along and take the team forward. And if you go to another country...will you be heard? What will be your impact on public life on the community in a country with a few hundred million people?'

They must, instead, stay and make a difference.

'If I say I don't like this, I'm fed up, let's go, I think that's a great pity. We would have lost somebody in whom we've put a lot of hope, and I think Singapore will be worse off.

'But if we say this is not good, I'm going to make a nuisance of myself until I fix it, that's different. Then I think there's hope for Singapore. You stand your ground and you make it better.

What is it you are unhappy with, let's get that changed...You must have the optimal degree of unhappiness - just right, and the conviction to make a change.'

This time, PM Lee displayed more PR savvy. At least he didn't ask the young Singaporeans whether they would support his "hip and happening" cheerleaders and balloon clappers.

But based on the forum that PM Lee's daddy had with young Singaporeans just a few months ago, I wouldn't bet two dollars that "the government recognises and encourages young people to be a part of the process here". Somehow, the term "radical English-educated young" does not sound encouraging.

On the positive side, I have to say that this particular group of young Singaporeans made an impressive attempt to become part of the process, and certainly displayed some serious conviction to make a change.

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hugewhaleshark said...

Remember Brown and Bhavani. It will not be easy to sell this message again to me.

Anonymous said...

the boy who cried wolf!

or the boy who cried 'mee siam mai hum"!

It's cruel to always prey on the young and destroy their faith so soon...

Better not to promise than to break a dream, again and again.

Anonymous said...

Don't you love the way he says, "And if you go to another country...will you be heard? What will be your impact on public life on the community in a country with a few hundred million people?"

We only have 4 million people and we are also not heard and we have no impact in any policy. What's the difference?

The same old story with new packaging.

Anonymous said...

'But if we say this is not good, I'm going to make a nuisance of myself until I fix it, that's different. Then I think there's hope for Singapore. You stand your ground and you make it better.

Where? At Hong Lim Park?

Anonymous said...

Being simplistic (and to generalise a little), Porco has lived in London (a long time), HK (couple of years), NY and Tokyo (months) as well as Rome (on and off) and he thinks some of these places feel like transit lounges and others don't.

Of all these places, HK is the ultimate airport space with people forever coming and going. It started in the years before 1997 when uncertainty about the future got the Hongkies hunting around for foreign citizenship - once they got that, they returned to HK to work where the money is easy (or easier at least) but with an eye on the clock and a plane ticket in hand.

Porco is not sure the average Hongkie gives a !@#$%^&* about politics - the only political adage they respect is Deng Xiaoping's. To be rich is glorious.

Now Porco is not a political animal and he admires the Hongkies. A lot.

They are smarter, buzzier, savvier, they work harder, they have yummier food and they even have a better developed sense of humour. Scary thing is, what if they are right?

Anonymous said...

I note that he said there are not enough Singaporeans to fill the 35,000 jobs that will be created for the casino, implying that probably 20,000 will go to foreigners and leaving 15,000 for Singaporeans. Hello, wasn't it Tony Tan who, in tears, said that although he was against the casino in principle, the thought of 35,000 jobs for the umemployed Singporeans changed his position on the gambling dens? The lying MIW are at it again, assuming Singaporeans are not shrewd enough to spot their twist of truths.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Mr Wang, can you try to at least be 1% less cynical? I thought you had a deal with your wife.

What did you expect Small Lee to do? I thought that was a good attempt by him to be engaging - compared to the previous ... mock-practice?

As long as Lao Lee is around, Small Lee is always going to have a hard time proving himself, so cut him some slack.

I'm actually more curious if he did elaborate more on what young people can do. The way the ST reported it, well, it doesn't say if he agrees with the suggestions brought up in the dialogue or if he disagree, which is totally flabbergasting.

So, do you want the youth to have internships with your ministers or not? And, if so, are you going to handpick a scholar or just an average student? The right choice would be to pick the average student. Why? Scholars are over-rated ...and well, sorry to say this, they just do not represent your everyday ah-beng/ah-lian who's real-life savvy but utterly exam stupid.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that PM lee is trying to do some corrective action after all that big HOO-HAA we received from the international media regarding the IMF protest march and Dr Chee's treatment by the police.

To all bloggers, the latest PR attempt by our PM reeks of irony but definitely not to the rest of singapore who read/believe the ST.

It is like a "damn if you do and damn if you don't" kind of situation. The show of democracy is required to pacify the emotions of the people. It is needed to gain investors' confidence in our economy. But at the same time, having democracy also means that we must allow opposition parties to air their views without oppression.

What would the PM do in a case like singapore? I reckon that he would do his very best to showcase his support for democracy while also doing his upmost to ensure that only people in his party will get to practice it.

How else can he maintain investors' confidence while retaining power?

So I actually think that this latest PR stint is an intelligent political move made by the PM.

Irrespective of the number of people he spoke to (it can be 20 ~ 20,000), the ST will report it in a way as if he spoke to 20 million.

The fact that the audience was only 220 in size (most of which required/owed favours from/to our government) was also to ensure that if our PM had another slip of tongue, the blunder will not travel too far.

People who read the ST will go "Wow! Our PM is so open-minded! HE IS OUR DREAM PM!"

While the support will not be extended by most bloggers. The government also know that our numbers are presently too small to do anything.

What would YOU have done if you were the PM? =)

From Chong Han

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"And if you go to another country...will you be heard? What will be your impact on public life on the community in a country with a few hundred million people?'"

My response is that making an impact for the sake of making an impact is relatively pointless. The idealism of youth is best channelled into areas for which the youth himself has a passion.

It is quite unrealistic for 99.9% of citizens in any country with a few hundred million people, to expect to make an impact on the general public life of a few hundred million people.

However, it is also quite unrealistic for 99.9% of citizens in a country with four million people, to expect to make an impact on the general public life of four million people.

It is however not that unrealistic for a young person to aim to make an impact within specific, smaller community circles. What those circles will be depend very much on the individual's own passion & interest -

for example, he may make an impact within his religious community; a charitable organisation; the sporting community; the arts circles; within a professional or industry association; or for groups / movements such as Yellow Ribbon Fund; People Like Us; Nature Society; Action for AIDS; CASE; Rainbow Club; AWARE etc etc, to give some diverse examples.

You see that civil society is a key process by which young Singaporeans (or Singaporeans of any age) can seek to contribute to Singapore.

On the other hand. you'll also see that the PAP government has no strong track record in supporting civil society groups. In fact, most of the time, when we hear about the PAP and CSOs, it's usually about how the PAP is trying to clamp down on them or is expressing disapproval.

I'm not even referring to the IMF/World Bank CSOs.

So you'll have to excuse my cynicism. Or perhaps, my objective nature.

le radical galoisien said...

"but to be on the same wavelength as the young people"

Why does the press keep using such tired clich├ęs?

Anonymous said...

The PM said, "But if we say this is not good, I'm going to make a nuisance of myself until I fix it, that's different. Then I think there's hope for Singapore. You stand your ground and you make it better." I'm not a support of Chee Soon Juan, but was that not what he tried to do 'legally' at Hong Lim Park. Then why all the blue uniforms?

Anonymous said...

I'll come to the sad conclusion that our government is schizophrenic, that it's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and that it plays a good cop and bad cop routine (with PM Lee acting as good cop and perhaps telling Wong Kan Seng to play bad cop.

Why do I say this? On one hand, you have PM Lee telling the young that the government wants to engage them and that Singapore is really for the young to remake in their image. Perhaps PM Lee does really mean his words.

On the other hand, you have MICA clamping down on Mr Brown who is very popular with the young (i.e < 35 )on the blogosphere. You have police hauling up and interrogating the artist who organised the tongue-in-cheek 4 million frowns campaign. You have the Substation's proposed street party killed by police over-zealousness.

But perhaps the government is not schizophrenic after all, that what it means by engagement of the young is really through de-sensitised, de-politicised and denuded government approved channels like STOMP and blogs like Xiaxue.

There's nothing wrong with these approved channels, if one's interests just revolve around food, shopping, latest fads and gizmos, jobs, music and travel.

feeblechicken said...

"Talk is Cheap" is the heading of my new post on my blog. I will be linking to you Mr Wang becos I do not subscribe to ST anymore, if it is ok?

Anonymous said...

I guess what PM Lee really wanted to say to these people who want to engage the Government is

Your desire for democracy is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the Matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which, despite my sincerest efforts, I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably... here.

Since he cannot say those words, he obviously must try to convince these youngsters that they really can be a part of the process. But there is always a system of control

Anonymous said...

As I have commented a number of times before on this blog: judge politicians by what they do, and not what they say. LHL likes to do these 'feel good you-got-a-part' pep talks, but his actions (and sometimes inaction) betrays his words and exposes him as nothing but a doublespeaking snake with a forked-tongue.

Don't be fooled.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand. you'll also see that the PAP government has no strong track record in supporting civil society groups"

It had. The group is called NKF

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another bait and trap routine.

Anonymous said...

"I'm going to make a nuisance of myself until I fix it" - isn't that what Chee Soon Juan was trying to do? And what did he and his sister get for that? Physically surrounded by police to prevent from taking a single step. This coming from a guy who claimed he will fight the defamation suit in court, and sneaked away with a summary judgement.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

you said, "In fact, most of the time, when we hear about the PAP and CSOs, it's usually about how the PAP is trying to clamp down on them or is expressing disapproval."

I suppose this is where PAP sometimes wants to have it both ways. Participation is ok but one can never be sure that the spontaniety would not result in someones toes being trampled on!

If we were an open and mature society we would just acknowledge our differences, try to find a middle ground, clarify any misunderstandings, failing which we still good-naturedly go one with our lives. Normally no riots result.

But then then we may be neither open and mature.

Anonymous said...

Given the record of the government I am afraid this sounds quite sinister. I would read it as.....stick your head out so that we know where to shoot. The list of bullet-ridden heads is pretty long..........

Anonymous said...

"Physically surrounded by police to prevent from taking a single step."

I was there. There were about 5 to 6 in the same T-shirts. The goons weren't interested in the rest of them. They only surrounded the 2 with surname "Chee". Goes to show what the strategy is.

Kill the leaders and the flock goes astray. We need to counter that strategy.

Anonymous said...

Yup, a friendly open invitation to give an appearance of inclusiveness and when you naively extend your contrary hands in respond, they will mark that hand of yours with a sinister set of number.

More often than not, they are rather successful in subjugation.

Even renegades can't resist sin money!

Anonymous said...

Kill the leaders and the flock goes astray. No need. When the old man dies, I hope we get to hear more about our shincorp investment, micropolis, Shenzhen etc etc. It is our money, my parents' money. Someone better account to us soon....

Anonymous said...

All empty words, broken promises, and nothing's going to change. A leopard's not going change his spots. Its the same old same old.

The pap certainly fix those Singaporeans very well who tried to make a difference for Singapore. Sue them till kingdom come, destroyed their livelihood when they don't toe the company line.

Anonymous said...

'But if we say this is not good, I'm going to make a nuisance of myself until I fix it, that's different. Then I think there's hope for Singapore. You stand your ground and you make it better.'

They say one thing and do another. I can think of lots of examples of what they did to us citizens that stand our ground... such as the clampdown of Mr brown and chee's rally.

Although this is admittedly good PR on his part. It's quite alarminng if any of the young singaporeans buy it coz the PAP has proven again and again that they do not accept different people and ideas unless it is approved by them. Or should I say advantageous to them?

Anonymous said...

The furor against two faced leadership is not good for society. But that's the wonder of marketing to raise consumer's number. The premise is that when business sentiments improved, our lives will be better?? to a point before it gets problematic again?till the equation becomes irredeemable?

Anonymous said...

Hey, hey, hey Straycat !!!

Nice blog. I don't have much say except that other than low taxes, there's nothing much the young can look forward to in Singapore so they are better off planning to emigrate to a country for guaranteed medical aid when they get older.

I find it strange that you actually think that civil society is going to be a key process for young people in Singapore to achieve their actualization goals.

Civil society is just a puppet of the political left. People who want to bridge the gap between those who invest in themselves and those who just want to cruise through their lives.

Young people should learn from you. Become a lawyer, make lots of money, learn about the system and then with that knowledge and wealth, do everything to make any changes that they want based on their personal whims using whatever means at their disposal without getting into trouble.

Of course, unlike you, they should, failing which, threaten massive capital outflows by preparing to emigrate.

That is, to me, the only workable way to advance the political process in Singapore.

Your old friend Modeus.

( We should have coffee sometimes. )

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, excuse the ignorance or lack of comprehension, what, exactly has CSOs got to do with the government engaging youths? That is the topic, right?

What you quoted, I think Small Lee meant having the youth or young generation actively interacting with the government to affect the public. Not that you cannot join CSOs on your own accord and make a difference.

I do think he has made a valid point here. It is still easier to contribute to public service in a small country with a small government (eh, it's small, in size what). You got less people to manipulate at least.

(Oh, I should make that less people to "serve").

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Hello, Modeus. So where have you been? This blog has been around for more than a year - you missed lots of fun. :)

Anonymous said...

The PAP and it ministers had said lots of things along similar lines in the past. This is but just one more to add to the growing heap of 'empty-talk' rubbish pile.

Typically, such utterances are made in a passionless, detached manner and lacking in details - the lack of commensurating body language says it all. It's just pseudo talk, for show, and to provide a more conducive speaking platform for the PM and hopefully for better reception to whatever is in his agenda.

In a word: hypocrisy.

Actions speak louder than words. We all know only too well, in which direction PAP's actions actually points!

Anonymous said...


I've been reading your blog for weeks because some fella told me that Mr. Wang is Stray-cat. I was initially skeptical but was convinced after reading your MBTI profile which I remember was posted at THAT OTHER place some time ago.

Your blog is one of the best in Singapore even accounting for those of Mr. Brown or Rockson. You should sell T-Shirts.

Anonymous said...

List of racial discriminations in Malaysia, practiced by government as well as government agencies. This list is an open secret. Best verified by government itself because it got the statistics.

This list is not in the order of importance, that means the first one on the list is not the most important and the last one on the list does not mean least important.

This list is a common knowledge to a lot of Malaysians, especially those non-malays (Chinese, Ibans, Kadazans, Orang Asli, Tamils, etc) who were being racially discriminated.

Figures in this list are estimates only and please take it as a guide only. Government of Malaysia has the most correct figures. Is government of Malaysia too ashamed to publish their racist acts by publishing racial statistics?

This list cover a period of about 49 years since independence (1957).

List of racial discriminations (Malaysia):

(1) Out of all the 5 major banks, only one bank is multi-racial, the rest are controlled by malays

(2) 99% of Petronas directors are malays

(3) 3% of Petronas employees are Chinese

(4) 99% of 2000 Petronas gasoline stations are owned by malays

(5) 100% all contractors working under Petronas projects must be bumis status

(6) 0% of non-malay staffs is legally required in malay companies. But there must be 30% malay staffs in Chinese companies

(7) 5% of all new intake for government army, nurses, polices, is non-malays

(8) 2% is the present Chinese staff in Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), drop from 40% in 1960

(9) 2% is the percentage of non-malay government servants in Putrajaya. But malays make up 98%

(10) 7% is the percentage of Chinese government servants in the whole government (in 2004), drop from 30% in 1960

(11) 95% of government contracts are given to malays

(12) 100% all business licensees are controlled by malay government e.g. Approved permits, Taxi permits, etc

(13) 80% of the Chinese rice millers in Kedah had to be sold to malay controlled Bernas in 1980s. Otherwise, life is make difficult for Chinese rice millers

(14) 100 big companies set up, owned and managed by Chinese Malaysians were taken over by government, and later managed by malays since 1970s e.g. MISC, UMBC, UTC, etc

(15) At least 10 Chinese owned bus companies (throughout Malaysia, throughout 40 years) had to be sold to MARA or other malay transport companies due to rejection by malay authority to Chinese application for bus routes and rejection for their application for new buses

(16) 2 Chinese taxi drivers were barred from driving in Johor Larkin bus station. There are about 30 taxi drivers and 3 are Chinese in October 2004. Spoiling taxi club properties was the reason given

(17) 0 non-malays are allowed to get shop lots in the new Muar bus station (November 2004)

(18) 8000 billion ringgit is the total amount the government channeled to malay pockets through ASB, ASN, MARA, privatisation of government agencies, Tabung Haji etc, through NEP over 34 years period

(19) 48 Chinese primary schools closed down since 1968 - 2000

(20) 144 Indian primary schools closed down since 1968 - 2000

(21) 2637 malay primary schools built since 1968 - 2000

(22) 2.5% is government budget for Chinese primary schools. Indian schools got only 1%, malay schools got 96.5%

(23) While a Chinese parent with RM1000 salary (monthly) cannot get school-text-book-loan, a malay parent with RM2000 salary is eligible

(24) 10 all public universities vice chancellors are malays

(25) 5% - the government universities lecturers of non-malay origins had been reduced from about 70% in 1965 to only 5% in 2004

(26) Only 5% is given to non-malays for government scholarships over 40 years

(27) 0 Chinese or Indians were sent to Japan and Korea under "Look East Policy"

(28) 128 STPM Chinese top students could not get into the course that they aspired e.g. Medicine (in 2004)

(29) 10% place for non-bumi students for MARA science schools beginning from year 2003, but only 7% are filled. Before that it was 100% malays

(30) 50 cases whereby Chinese and Indian Malaysians, are beaten up in the National Service program in 2003

(31) 25% is Malaysian Chinese population in 2004, drop from 45% in 1957

(32) 7% is the present Malaysian Indians population (2004), a drop from 12% in 1957

(33) 2 million Chinese Malaysians had emigrated to overseas since 40 years ago

(34) 0.5 million Indian Malaysians had emigrated to overseas

(35) 3 million Indonesians had migrated into Malaysia and became Malaysian citizens with bumis status

(36) 600000 are the Chinese and Indian Malaysians with red IC and were rejected repeatedly when applying for citizenship for 40 years. Perhaps 60% of them had already passed away due to old age. This shows racism of how easily Indonesians got their citizenships compare with the Chinese and Indians

(37) 5% - 15% discount for a malay to buy a house, regardless whether the malay is poor or rich

(38) 2% is what Chinese new villages get compare with 98% of what malay villages got for rural development budget

(39) 50 road names (at least) had been changed from Chinese names to other names

(40) 1 Dewan Gan Boon Leong (in Malacca) was altered to other name (e.g. Dewan Serbaguna or sort) when it was being officially used for a few days. Government try to shun Chinese names. This racism happened in around year 2000 or sort

(41) 0 churches/temples were built for each housing estate. But every housing estate got at least one mosque/surau built

(42) 3000 mosques/surau were built in all housing estates throughout Malaysia since 1970. No churches, no temples are required to be built in housing estates

(43) 1 Catholic church in Shah Alam took 20 years to apply to be constructed. But told by malay authority that it must look like a factory and not look like a church. Still not yet approved in 2004

(44) 1 publishing of Bible in Iban language banned (in 2002)

(45) 0 of the government TV stations (RTM1, RTM2, TV3) are directors of non-malay origins

(46) 30 government produced TV dramas and films always showed that the bad guys had Chinese face, and the good guys had malay face. You can check it out since 1970s. Recent years, this tendency becomes less

(47) 10 times, at least, malays (especially Umno) had threatened to massacre the Chinese Malaysians using May 13 since 1969

(48) 20 constituencies won by DAP would not get funds from the government to develop. Or these Chinese majority constituencies would be the last to be developed

(49) 100 constituencies (parliaments and states) had been racistly re-delineated so Chinese voters were diluted that Chinese candidates, particularly DAP candidates lost in election since 1970s

(50) Only 3 out of 12 human rights items are ratified by Malaysia government since 1960

(51) 0 - elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (UN Human Rights) is not ratified by Malaysia government since 1960s

(52) 20 reported cases whereby malay ambulance attendances treated Chinese patients inhumanely, and malay government hospital staffs purposely delay attending to Chinese patients in 2003. Unreported cases may be 200

(53) 50 cases each year whereby Chinese, especially Chinese youths being beaten up by malay youths in public places. We may check at police reports provided the police took the report, otherwise there will be no record

(54) 20 cases every year whereby Chinese drivers who accidentally knocked down malays were seriously assaulted or killed by malays

(55) 12% is what ASB/ASN got per annum while banks fixed deposit is only about 3.5% per annum

There are hundreds more racial discriminations in Malaysia to add to this list of "colossal" racism. It is hope that the victims of racism will write in to expose racism.

Malaysia government should publish statistics showing how much malays had benefited from the "special rights" of malays and at the same time tell the statistics of how much other minority races are being discriminated.

Hence, the responsibility lies in the Malaysia government itself to publish unadulterated statistics of racial discrimination.

If the Malaysia government hides the statistics above, then there must be some evil doings, immoral doings, shameful doings and sinful doings, like the Nazi, going on onto the non-malays of Malaysia.

Civilized nation, unlike evil Nazi, must publish statistics to show its treatment on its minority races. This is what Malaysia must publish……….

We are asking for the publication of the statistics showing how "implementation of special rights of malays" had inflicted colossal racial discrimination onto non-malays.

Liquidfuel said...

Er, short and simple. I have already quit. Will be migrating in end March'07 with family.

If a small country like S'pore with 4 million population cannot hear my voice, I don't mind having my voice lost in a large country with 10 million population.

Make a difference? All bull. Where did it lead Chee, JBJ, Francis, Tang, etc?

I don't have so much money to spend on lawyers and libel suits to defend my case.

Anonymous said...

"What is it you are unhappy with, let's get that changed..."

Obviously, he hasn't been listening. Lip service.

I think I can now predict what kind of PR speech he is going to make right after every boo boo he will be making.

Anonymous said...

Dun despair, Join the Opposition Parties to make a difference in Singapore!

Dun complain, do something!

Anonymous said...

"As citizens of the country, we do not give "feedback". We have the right to tell the government what we want or don't want as public policy. We have the right not to be intimidated or threatened."
-Dr Chee Soon Juan, Sec Gen of SDP

Anonymous said...

An article on CSJ has resulted in the end of FEER in singapore. Well done to the Lees and their running dogs at MICA.

Anonymous said...

Lee and his bunch of merry men can ban and prohibit anything in Singapore, but the world is so much bigger than Singapore. Their petty laws can and will be circumvented.

Anonymous said...

Stand our ground?

And get incarcerated?

I'm standing my ground, but because I am going to be incarcerated anyway.

Most, if not all but 2 with the surname Chee, are KS and would rather you be the hero and die (young) for them, and they get the benefit.

Anonymous said...


History has shown what happens to youth when it stands it's grounds to criticise policies. That was as recent as April 2005.

Anonymous said...

Er, Chen Jiahao didn't stand his ground at all.

I would really like them to see try to create a legal suit over a website that isn't even hosted in Singapore when he was not even in Singapore.

Anonymous said...


Perhaps Mr Wang spoke too soon...