5/22/2008

Speaking words of wisdom...let it be

I still remember these words from the Beatles. The ST gave two full pages to Ngaim Tong Dow today to speak his words of wisdoms from his recollection of the past and using them as lessons for the future. Among the things he lamented was the selling of Natsteel, the company that contributed to the building of HDB flats and many infrastructure of the island in the early days. He saw it as a sale of a host of knowledge. And yet we have sold more things, a host of history when some foreigners are willing to pay for it. Raffles Hotel is one. What's next? Ngiam also talked about civil servants being flexible and understanding the need of the people. Not everything can be priced and price is not everything. The govt is about the people and the people's general good, about empathy and compassion. What he did not say, but could be read, is that money grabbing and money policies are not the way to go. He is speaking words of wisdom, not word of intelligence. You need not be very intelligent to be wise. And one can be very intelligent but very unwise. And many of the things he talked about are the things that cyberspace is talking about but not spoken in msm. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Ngiam can be the wise ol' oracle for all we know but the important thing to remember is that he is just an ex-civil servant. All his words can make the most sense to everyone, but he neither holds the reins of power to implement his thoughts nor have any clout with the people in power who are able to implement them. His views are as good as Redbean's views on his blog. Just noise on the information super highway. The thing I dont understand is why did he not implement all these measures when he was top civil service honcho ? Probably was afraid of jeopardising his huge pay check and hefty pension. Bloody hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 10.39. The wisdom comes out only when they cannot make a difference. There are many many such people now preaching in cyberspace who could have made a difference in their heydays but.....!

redbean said...

we can look at it cynically. i agree that many big policies with very bad consequences were implemented earlier. not sure if they were during his time. the double your asset, the pushing up of hdb prices, the privatisation of essential services, the crazy money and profit formula, are some examples that i am strongly against and which i think he could make a difference if he wanted.

maybe he agrees with them.

the high cost of living here does not happen by chance. many policies contributed to it. and ngiam, asked, are we a low tech and high cost country?

we are high tech in many areas, like wasting money putting up road signs on parking spaces and how much time the next bus will come, or how much time to get to another part of the island, and electronic and satellite technology to catch bus cheats. i can go on.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys ever wondered if Ngiam is just another wayang king ? I mean, come on, he was part of the establishment for the most part of his adult life and as they say leopards don't change their spots. And to think that the 'nation building' press is giving him such prominence looks to me like he has been designated by the powers that be as a compliant and tolerated 'critic'. They want to make it look like they are 'tolerating' dissent, just like the public feud between LKY's daughter and Phillip Yeo once upon a time ago. The pattern is the same. In all those cases, the 'protagonists' were all either current or former members of the establishment. And they were given all the prominence in the country's media. I belive we have been had.

redbean said...

yes, he's been given the centrestage. and the cynics will be nodding their heads knowingly.

things don't happen by accident or by spontaneity in paradise.

what's up doc?

Matilah_Singapura said...

Nothing stinks of hypocrisy more than a capitalist apologetic.

My POV on this remains unchanged: S'pore should be fully privatised -- i.e. everything in the territory. All state assets -- buildings, like parliament house be sold, entire govt including the civil service and the politicians SACKED.

In other words, the whole of the state apparatus should be dismantled.

redbean said...

your motion of privatising everything is too unreal. maybe when there is a paradigm shift in how people exist together in the next 100 or 200 years.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Not really.

It is certainly moving that way. And government's are becoming more and more irrelevant -- although nearly all of them are increasing their power and influence. This is an understandable strategy -- NO NE will give up their power without a vicious fight. I say vicious, because govts like the US Federal Govt are always prepared to go to war, kill innocent people, simply to "stay relevant" and boost the power, wealth and influence of the ruling elite.

Yet, if you surf the net and the libraries and bookstores, you'll find that individual freedom is a rapidly expanding collection of ideas.

Amongst the young people in rich developed countries -- the smart, entrepreneurial, freedom loving (not always responsible) ones, who are well traveled, very IT savvy...this group are HARDCORE capitalists. and surprise, surprise a large MAJORITY of them are in India and China. I am cautious about "sweeping generalisations", so take the following loosely:

From my own observations (i.e. direct experience) these youngsters:

* Are hardworking and smart. They are fast learners, and apply, integrate an innovate their knowledge very quickly

* They know how to make money and love making money

* They trust neither government nor religion.

* Even in their youthful years, they know MORE about sovereign individualism and freedom than many of the older folk. They love their freedom, and anyone seeking to take it away from them had better watch out.

Anti-state, anti-authority, freedom and liberty books are BIG sellers on Amazon. Talks, lectures and videos on the same subjects are full-house most of the time. Summer seminars (mostly in Europe and the US) are all fully booked before the end of April. More and more legal firms are concentrating on asset protection and tax minimisation using a variety of complex trusts, LLC's etc.

Around the world, the young are propelling the human race toward the ideas of liberty, freedom and individual capitalistic enterprise.

It's a beautiful thang, man.

Anonymous said...

But would unbridled capitalism come at the expense of social and political stability? My opinion - just an opinion, mind you - is that Australia and European countries enjoy low crime rates because of the 'bribes' i.e. social welfare they mete out. If you were to see this as the price you pay in return for social security - well, it's not too bad a deal, is it? People won't subscribe to liberty if they feel left out.

Anonymous said...

Gah, the interview's not online =/

Anonymous said...

The other time, someone brought out the topic of china beer ladies and make a weak argument out of it on foreign talents, I found that line of thoughts to be overly simplistic and widely assuming. However Mr Ngiam's way of analysis somehow seems alot different and more profound than the rest. Besides his commanding presence, he also appear to be likeable and easy to identify with. The old guards are indeed a unique breed.

Matilah_Singapura said...

to anon 627

> But would unbridled capitalism come at the expense of social and political stability? <

I don't believe that to be true. You'll find the richest places on earth are the most peaceful and stable. When there private property involved, people tend to guard it. The majority of them are not going to risk losing their property by engaging in warfare. No doubt, there'll always be people who'll try... nothing is going to change that -- no political or social system.

There is a lot less crime in wealthier countires because of the wealth. If you were in Somalia or Rwanda, where life is desperate -- chance are you will turn to crime, just to survive. You might not actually "do it", but it will cross your mind.

> People won't subscribe to liberty if they feel left out. <

That's true, but one must qualify that not "all people" will behave this way. I would say the majority of people do have an insatiable need to "belong" to something or somewhere, as if "belonging" is a fundamental which helps define their identity. and for many people this is true.

It is alot easier to live if you believe you were "included" somewhere, and that there was "help" available when you really need it, and that there is a support structure, as well as a validation of identity.

However, having "freedom" doesn't mean social isolation. To the contrary. Because a free society will be a VOLUNTARY society, you needn't associate yourself with people with whom you wish to have nothing to do with.

In current political systems, the state FORCES you to "integrate". To show you how silly the state can be, there are times when the state forcibly SEGREGATES people.

The point here is your right to choose your associations -- for your own reasons -- be they "silly" or whatever.

Anonymous said...

to matilah_singapure

> There is a lot less crime in
> wealthier countires because of
> the wealth.

Precisely, and this wealth is distributed to the people via taxation, so that everyone gets to share in it. You can wander around in Aussie/Europe without having to carry a jack-knife because everyone enjoys a certain standard of living. And the social welfare system offers the individual a certain degree of security.

A moderate tax rate ain't too bad i.m.o. if it dispenses with the need to have a personal bodyguard and a coterie of Gurkhas guarding my private property.

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 947

I disagree with your take on a social security system about re-distribution of wealth, but never mind.

> A moderate tax rate ain't too bad i.m.o. if it dispenses with the need to have a personal bodyguard and a coterie of Gurkhas guarding my private property. <

That's true -- the rule of law is neccessary or peaceful production and exchange on an economy wide scale would not be possible.

However, the downside is that taxation rates rarely stay "moderate". Although they do come down -- slowly, they tend to rise over time, and gather in pace.

Note that S'pore's GST started out at a "reasonable" 3%. It is now increased by 133% to 7%. and I can't see it going south any time soon.

Anonymous said...

I do support both the liberty and free market ideal - the point I was trying to make was that if you were to have unbridled capitalism - however 'fair' and 'just' that may be, there could be social consequences as trade-offs.

And the majority doesn't want it. Just look at America where they are now clamouring for Bush's tax cuts to be repealed. Throwing darts at the rich has always been a popular pastime.

Exercising liberty to restrict liberty - love the irony, eh?

I don't foresee farming subsidies being phased out in America either. If anything, the recent rice shortage and the way in which countries reacted would have brought home the point that it was in the national interest to protect their farmers.

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 1102

You're right. Most people are scared shitless of unbrideled capitalism, and the limitless right to own private property.

But as I indicated in an earlier post to redbean "fans" of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of earthly "happiness" are bunch of ideas that are increasing in popularity.

Decades ago it would have been "wrong" to own private wetlands, forests, woodlands etc. However SENSIBLE environmentalists know that THE BEST way to preserve "natural beauty" is to own it. Which is why "wilderness societies", other groups and private individuals have been buying up "environmentally sensitive" areas.

I'm all for a totally privately owned planet. I don't expect people to make the monumental paradigm shift to even consider this as A POSSIBLE CHOICE choice for the human species. Most people will be horrified at the idea.

redbean said...

to matilah,

do you know why the rich are more gracious, generous and beautiful? or maybe i should ask, do you know how the rich made their first million? some made it legitimately, some by killing and robbing or cheating. this applies to nations. the americans robbed the red indians of their land, then used cheap slaves to work their land, and even used conquests to get rich. so did the europeans with their robbing and killing of their colonies.

this is the first step to wealth and then to graciousness. once these are attained, you can live in peace and look good, good manners, good education, good style and good life. no need to kill and rob any more.

create the wealth first by all means. then can talk about being peace loving, human rights, and gracious living and being civilised. that is europe and north america.

the rest of the world, after being robbed and raped, will still have to labour and scrap for a living, like bums and uncouth labourers, unrefined and lack of human rights.

Anonymous said...

The robbing of wealth is still going on eg oil in the middle east, and in the end who really made all the money? The American oil companies and logitics giants like Haliburton.

Matilah_Singapura said...

To redbean:

I have no clue about what it is you are trying to tell me.

Anonymous said...

I think redbean is saying that capitalism is all fine and dandy, but that people might have acquired their wealth illegitimately in the past. Say, you can run a triad and peddle drugs - once you've accumulated enough capital retire from the scene and use the dirty bucks to invest legally. Law enforcement has limited resources and can only weed out a minority of such cases.

redbean said...

thanks anonymous for the explanation.

europe is peaceful, graceful, law abiding, and civil because it is old rich. the new rich will be loud and crude. but no one shall forget the cruelties europe and america inflicted on their conquered and colonised people.

the newle emerging economies will be old rich one day. and given their wealth and a prosperous economy, they will develop into the old europe and america of today.

on the other hand, uk and usa are getting wilder by the days. the behaviour of the football hooligans is something to watch out if this is going to be the trend.

even paradise was settling down quite nicely. not with the influx of hungry peasants, lawlessness is getting out of hand. just read about a lady forced into parting $1,500 in a lonely carpark in chinatown by two tattoed men on the pretext of selling her audio speakers which she did not need.

it was robbery in disguised. she knew that she must part with her money. and this is happening in paradise.

i have been crying wolf about the breakdown of law and order in my paradise. they must come down fast and quick and hard on the law breakers.

shanghai 1930s here we come.

Matilah_Singapura said...

"An Armed society is a Polite society".

I've always favoured the right of private citizens to own and carry firearms.

I don't expect anyone on this blog to agree with me. That's ok, I'm still going to keep my guns :)