3/23/2009

An end of a legacy and a new one in the making

I did not sign up for the opening ceremony of the new Kent Ridge NUSS Guild House, which was also an occasion to listen to LKY in person. Neither did I read his speech in the media except glancing over a few key points. Nothing unusual actually. But in a bigger perspective it marks a change and a new beginning. LKY has created a legacy for what he has done to this little island. He used to hold his audience in awe when he spoke. Two generations of Singaporeans grown up under this spell. Even foreigners looked forward to hear him speak. After last Friday, that chapter was closed. Somehow, though he came through on the TV as still very forceful and lucid, he looked like a man out of time and out of place. LKY did not say anything new. He reiterated old values that have been flogged over the years. Saying those things to wide eyed and young eager beavers may make some sense. I am just wondering how many people were with him when he said those things, or how many were just twiddling their thumbs and rolling their eyeballs at the new meanings of those values and virtues. As what the elites are for the past years, they will listen and just shut up. If there were anything they want to say you will know hear them unless one is in their circle of confidante. The views in cyberspace were more robust and direct. And the views expressed, if they are anything to come by, is an indication of an old legacy forgotten and a new one in the making.

16 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

The thing about long-term public figures is that over the years they've been elevated by the media and public perception to god-like status.

Therefore they tend to be judged and themselves rely on their REPUTATIONS more than their ABILITY in the present. Past (so-called) 'successes' are a poor barometer of present competence.

Unfortunately many folks can't get past their conditioning and thus are not able to evaluate critically with cold hard, impartial reason. They are attached to the past, they allow their patterns to take over and are swayed to judge by their emotions rather than look at the thing for what it is, in the here-and-now.

As Mark Twain once said: "When a man gets a reputation for being an early riser, he can sleep until noon".

People believe what they want to believe.

rookielim said...

Redbean,

I was there. As you correctly pointed out, the same old themes were being repeated. You did not miss much.

I get the sense that the existing government is stuck with the same old formulas...
1) focus on export,
2) give birth to more babies,
3) embrace foreign talents (even though they may not be the best, as the best foreigners only use Singapore as a stepping stones),
4) Learn mandarin.
5) we already have the best talents possible in our government. There is no way the opposition can come up with anything better.

We do not seems to be able reinvent ourselves and come up with anything new...

LKY's ideas and principles are drilled into brains of our civil servants and Singapore public like bible truth. We end up not knowing how to think and behave differently.

The fact is today we have an economy that sinks the fastest in Asia during the current crisis. We have no other choice but to open 2 casinos to boost our economy. We have no recognized brand of our own except for SIA. We are competing with economies like China and India that are able yo learn and mimic things much faster and at a much lower cost. It is REALLY VERY SAD...

If Singapore only has one set of values and thoughts propagated by LKY and his team, while the rest of Singaporean and too scared to speak up or challenge the doctrines espoused by the current ruling party, I am afraid we will never be able to pull ourselves out of this pit.

Anonymous said...

MM Lee is human,he is no different fr other great,aged leaders.

Basically they are out of time, out of date and obsolete.

We could hope for a very different old man,once in 6000 years of human history,perhaps.

Me,I am not confident that there ever would be one in human history.

redbean said...

hi rookielim,

was my observation close to the real stuff? i bet the audience was just as polite as ever.

in a way it is sad that at this age he is still on the road as the pathfinder. we just don't have anyone to stand up to lead the charge like what a leader should be.

rookielim said...

Hi Redbean, your observations are spot-on. Everyone was in their best behavior. It is like going to church to meet God himself.

Sadly, you are also absolutely right that there are no clear leader(s) in this new cabinet. We have a bunch of heartless, highly paid administrators who thinks they are super talented and deserve the highest pay in the world.

Everyone else thinks otherwise.

Jetreroy said...

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain (or in this case, the old fool)...

redbean said...

everytime the phrase 'this is our A Team' is uttered, i shake my head in resignation.

Anonymous said...

re: matilah_singapura

Whoa, it's here - "a new one in the making", indeed:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7851925a-17a2-11de-8c9d-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

Sort of anticipated it (revival of Special Drawing Rights - which is a ludicrous idea to begin with), but still pretty meh all the same.

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 1155

Well, you can't really blame China. The US is trying to "have its cake and eat it too" by defrauding the investors who hold USDs and US Treasuries.

However, I doubt if any universal govt-created global currency (god forbid!) would be "not aligned" to any particular country. As long as govt is involved sooner or later geo-political forces will come into play.

The only true "universal" currency which will work — mainly because it ties up the hands of governments and returns power to the individual person (the way it should be for peace and prosperity) would be based on a precious metal, like of course gold.

Under a precious metal standard, no one can inflate by printing, and MASSIVE bail-outs and economic rescues will be a thing of the past. The only way to inflate would be to mine more gold, and that is costly and slow — unlike printing pare with ink which can be done easily.

Anyway under a gold standard, net lenders like China India and Japan (and Singapore) would hold the balance of power Geo-polically, and the US will be reduced to the status of Zimbabwe.

Seriously, I can't ever see that happening without a global war.

Anonymous said...

This is not seen only in old man. What about Halimah " we need training and re-training". Watabout Lim SS, "we need to train and re-train our work force"
Anymore politican want to join this qenue?

Do you need more of these lame textbook stuffs whenever recession season is in.

Old man said he is not worried if there is a breakaway party from PAP "if you have capable people" that there is no need for a 2-party system in Singapore; "to scour the whole country to find the quality we NOW have"

Repeat "the quality we NOW HAVE" YES SIR.

redbean said...

this is the best we have. so the rest are just second best.

Anonymous said...

re: matilah_singapura

Yeah, politics usually takes precedence over sound economics. A global currency would probably put the balance-of-payments issue to rest... there's nothing wrong with fiat money i.m.o. so long as you have people of impeccable moral integrity and intelligence presiding over the system.

A gold standard would be nice but I doubt we'll ever see that again.

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 1129

> nothing wrong with fiat money i.m.o. so long as you have people of impeccable moral integrity and intelligence presiding over the system. <

Of course that is impossible, by the sheer nature of geo-politics and the (type of) people who involve themselves in it.

For e.g., if you look at just about
ANY state or country in the world, none of them were founded by "nice" guys. Even the Dalai Lamas of Tibet had their own political agendas, if truth be told.

Extrapolate that to a global scale, and it's not a pretty sight.

The idea of a non-inflatable (or "naturally" inflating) money supply is that one doesn't have to rely on the morality of strangers to guarantee freedom in one's economic life. i.e. in the private world of voluntary action and private property — you make an error in judgment, you lose, not society.

The only gold standard I can imagine is when the govts or world-govt confiscates all the gold or makes it illegal for private citizens to own gold.

Given that scenario, I would much prefer a system of fiat currencies, because in the former scenario I would become an outlaw and probably will have to live my life as a fugitive.

Since currencies are 100% controlled by govt, it is entirely up to a country's people to form their particular flavour of the state. The people get the got they deserve — in a sense, with the exception of a few wealthy countries — most of the world's states can be described as "failed states", and they have been for centuries.

Freedom is never a "default" condition. Because humans have always been a species which can choose to meddle with each other, "freedom" and "liberty" are end-states of complex processes.

redbean said...

'freedom is never a default condition'.

whenever i hear people saying how much more leeway will be allowed i am very frighten. for the people who said such things strongly believe that freedom is for them to give. your freedom is what they think you should have or they willing to let you have.

Matilah_Singapura said...

redbean:

People have been believing in bunkum since the day monkeys turned into human. It is easy to delude the human mind, but it is also not impossible for the human mind to see things as they are — of course the latter takes more "effort" than the former.

redbean said...

i think everyone is seeing everything bright and clear. but it is not the time to tell the truth.