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12/27/2010

Government is serious business

The communist countries have their best men and women in govt services. The western democracies have their attractive and good looking men and women in office. One selects the best based on their intellect and abilities. The other uses popular votes to vote in the best looker or talker to look good on TV and make lovely speeches. Singapore modeled its govt on western democracies but deviated by choosing the ‘best’ men and women to be in govt. This has served the country well for many decades. But the problem of getting the best in govt is hitting many road blocks. For one, not necessary the best will want to stand out for one reason or another. This has resulted in the ‘best’ being the best of the willing. Another major problem that marred the selection process is the dearth of political talents and leaders. The consequence is that many have no choice but duty bound to stay on even when they are not in the best of condition, physically. Some could be hard of hearing, walking or even making a speech. But they sacrificed themselves for a noble cause. Some even have to take less money home. Pathetic is the word. On the other extremes we may find children in govt as well. These must be very exceptional talents to be selected and elected by the people to serve them and the country. They are bright and clever but may be lacking in experience and wisdom in some cases. Experience and wisdom do not come about by reading books alone or an inborn thing. These are the mistakes and adversities one encountered, directly or indirectly, over time that make a person wiser, more circumspect, humbler and able to appreciate the problems and difficulties and meanings of life and living. Govt is not child play and we need the best of the best to govern the country and make life better for as many as reasonably possible. We cannot have half ins and half outs in the govt. Agree that the best means many things and different things to different people. The people and the quality of their life shall be the best to judge what is best or betterer for them. A big contradiction in this quest for the best to serve the country and people is to have part time MPs but with a pay that is not part time. No matter how talented, when a job is part time, it is part time.

16 comments:

Wally Buffet said...

Hi,

Happy New Year!

You forgot that some clowns also had to take leave from the circus in service of the country.

Hehe.

Matilah_Singapura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matilah_Singapura said...

Actaully the 'model' of the Singapore govt is a hybrid made up of:

1. Platonic republicanism
2. British elitism
3. Roman republicanism (especially legislative process)
4. Confucianism


You get this sense from observation, direct experience and listening to LKY's speeches over the years.

Also you have to bear in mind that "the government" is already clearly defined:

"The government is the PAP and the PAP is the government" -- good luck to anyone who tries to change that ;-)

One aspect of Platonic republicanism (Plato's republic) and Roman republicanism is the idea of a "strong man". In roman republicanism the idea of a "strong man" only used in times of crisis and he was given sweeping powers for a limited time, or until the end of the crisis.

In Plato, the "strong man" idea was put forth as a "benevolent dictator", and this idea has served Singapore for years.

Confucianism is of course a cultural construct -- obedience to authority, and the state ruling over the lives of everyone with "wisdom".

British elitism is the idea where a certain "class" of capable people were (in a sense) "born to govern". These folks helped Great Britain become a formidable OWNER of more than 25% of the planet through the actions of the East and West India Companies. The PAP has such people in their merchantilist enterprises (aka GLC's i.e. government doing commercial business for profit)and these people are afforded a wide latitude of autonomy, to the point that they can run their own little feudal empires if they so chose.

The Singapore hybrid model can be effective, but it is fraught with risks and dangers. It is very easy to corrupt and have corrupt people running the show. They will be protected by the systems and can run rough shod over everything.

The only thing which is holding this together is the large compensation for ministers and civil servants (they are paid enough to dissuade them from being corrupt) and a "culture" of elitism grounded in a pride/ international reputation for being the one of the least corrupt governments.

There is no such thing as "good" government. Without exception:
ALL GOVERNMENT IS BAD.

The "best" government is the one which is the "least bad", but it is entirely up to the people, because the people always get the government they deserve.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Happy new year Wally. I thought the emperor was kidnapped by his eunuchs in Lijiang: ) Nice to know that you are safe and kicking.

Our hybrid govt is a tough formula. You need a philosophy king, a son of heaven and a gangster all rolled into one.

I don't think we will be able to find one again.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> I don't think we will be able to find one again.
<


I agree. LKY was the necessary "strong man" and benevolent dictator during a time of massive political and sovereign uncertainty -- when S'pore was forced into secession by being kicked out of the Malaysian Federation.

These huge powerful political forces are no longer required: Singapore has robust capital structures, a thriving private economy and 90% literacy rate, predominantly English speaking population.

Having a large expensive government for a small city (state?) is unnecessary. All that is required is minimalist republicanism:

1. Small government -- occupying 3 or 4 floors (rental) of a modern office building

2. De-centralised, fully private banking (dissolve MAS, return to Treasury being in charge of currency and monetary matters)

3. Sell parliament house to Far East or by tender to some other developers

4. Dissolve HDB

5. Give full title to all HDB'ers i.e. no more lease -- bona fide private property (Margaret Thatcher did this with English public housing)

6. Dissolve CPF -- reimburse to owners all the contributions paid -- including employers

7. Local-public share (no institutional buying allowed in primary market) issue of Temasek i.e. securitise Temasek and distribute shares to the population -- for them to do as they please. Can trade on secondary market i.e. sell to institutions if that is their choice.

8. Sack the entire government, and re-hire personnel in accordance with private enterprise procedures and protocols.

9. Privatise everything which ministries and stat boards used to run: education, transport, environment, health etc.


...then you will have a very, rich...untouchably rich country/ city/ nation (call it what you want) with no political nonsense, lots of entrepreneurship and enterprise and a rocking lifestyle.

...but of course, that will never happen. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Do not blame the government for everything. First thing first, the GOV is not PAP (but in SG ... well)

When troubles/problem starts, you don't blame the gov and start privatising institutions - this will in time to come, only benefit the business class and when these ppl control enough wealth, even the gov will have to do their bidding (look at the USA now).

i am not a PAP supporter, but at least our situation is salvagable...my humble opinion.

happy new year

Wally Buffet said...

Hi Mr. Bean,

Good to be back and talking cock again.

God forbid to have enuchs surrounding me in my palace. I am surrounded by a bevy of beauties more like it!

Don't understand why you guys stay put in this drab and dull city.

Hehe.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Ha, maybe shall join you in your next trip: )

Anonymous said...

Sin can be saved by foreigners.

So, dont worry too much.

Just live peacefully with the aliens, if need be, work for the foreigner settlers, so that we Singapoorereans will not starve to death.

Matilah_Singapura said...

wally:

> Don't understand why you guys stay put in this drab and dull city.<

I've never had a dull moment in The Hotel and I don't recall my favourite places there ever being "drab".

Anyway, I must continue my packing up...

good business schools said...

Can someone clarify what this sentence mean? Does it mean that Singapore's Administration comprises a large portion of business while only a small part of it is on politics?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi good business school, welcome to the blog. It is exactly WYSIWYG: )
Everyone is getting betterer in doing business than in governing. It is another case of half in half out.

Matilah_Singapura said...

"It's all Bismarck."

Better go have a quick brush up on realpolitik of Otto von Bismarck, and the political realities of Niccoli Machiavelli.

I forgot to add to the hybrid model of Singapore's government:

5. The realpolitik of Otto von Bismarck

If you will notice -- the SG.GOV is practical, 'pragmatic'. No ideology is involved, and 'morality' is certainly interpreted after the fact -- i.e. what is good for Singapore and it's ruling elites which take care of the nation's interests as well as their own is "good" for everyone.

Also power and power relationships come into play for 'common interests' -- the heart of pragmatism.

Occasionally a few heads have to be cracked and a few lives sacrificed for the 'common good'. This might be regrettable, but it is unavoidable and inevitable.

So now the hybrid SSSingapore model looks like:

1. Platonic republicanism
2. British elitism
3. Roman republicanism (especially legislative process)
4. Confucianism
5. Realpolitik (ala Otto von Bismark)


WOW! Smokin' man! This kind of system can last long long time...because it is formless and adaptable!

Fucking genius!

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Shall we call it Leekuanyewism?

I doubt anyone can hold it together after he disappeared. You will need a very strong personality who can thump down any opposition especially those from the minority groups. Without such a man, the fickle interests of minorities and their bitter fighting would tear this place a part within 24 hrs.

I don't see anyone able to do what he did. That is a true danger of Leekuanyewism. The crucial element is Lee Kuan Yew.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Oh, without him we need not fear any wikileaks. No one would dare to talk through his nose anymore. And the Americans need not pretend to come here to ask for advice from the wise ones.

No country will care to listen to what we say anymore.

Matilah_Singapura said...

The point I make is that Singapore doesn't need a Lee Kuan Yew anymore or any nanny-state government for that matter.

The country is wealthy and very well-developed. Politics will only screw it up, and being a small territory, politics could undo all the effort and success of the last 4 or so decades.

But guess what? My prediction is that Singaporeans will find some way to fuck themselves up. That is the problem of having A State -- The State becomes "a valuable prize" for groups to do battle over. Winner take all.

Of course, there's always a chance to go back to a non-state model...but I doubt that will ever happen. In fact, I'm almost willing to bet my balls :-)