When politicians were naïve

Those were the days, not too long ago, when politicians were naïve, just a figure of speech. They were young and highly charged, with bellies full of fire, to serve the people and the country. That was a time when the country was ruled by foreigners, the colonial masters. To these young intellects, the first question that bumped into their heads was why should the country be run by foreigners who were no better than them. Probably they also believed that they could do better for country and people when they were in charge.

That kind of idealistic thinking set a trend that changed the course of our history. Young and eager men and women fought to take back this country, to run it for the betterment of its own people. When they succeeded, the locals took charge of all the major ministries and institutions, to manage them for the good of the locals, not for the Queen of England. And with the locals thinking locals, and when the political leaders were thinking of bettering the lives of the people, things changed dramatically. It was local politicians and people serving local people, for the interest and good of the people.

Has anything changed? The politicians have all changed except for one. But everything else has changed. Oh, they are still saying that they are serving the people and the people’s interests. This has not changed. But the substance has. While the first generation of leaders replaced the foreigners with locals, we are seeing more foreigners replacing the locals. Don’t be conned by the term ‘new citizens’. And as for serving the people, this is relative depending on how one views it.

There used to be the govt providing facilities, building facilities, including housing and transportation, ahead of the people’s needs, and waiting for the people to benefit from them. The people needed housing, and houses were built. Schools, hospitals, transportation, jobs, industries, were waiting for the people. Today, the people have to queue up, to wait for these services and facilities. They don’t build public housing to wait for the people. The people wait for the housings to be built. The people wait for schools for their children, wait for hospital spaces and medical services, transportations etc etc.

Jobs then were localized, decolonized. Today we are seeing a new kind of colonization in jobs. Foreigners are taking over the juicy and plum jobs all over again. And this is good, progress of a different kind. Foreigners changed shirt and become instant citizens to take over jobs from Singaporeans. From displacing foreigners we are replacing locals with foreigners/new citizens.

It is scary when a politician stands out and proclaims that he is in politics to serve the people and country. Scary indeed. The naïve politicians of the past were admirable, respectable and sincere in what they said and did. There were some honesty in their ethics, ambitions and idealism for being politicians.

Today they are pragmatic and honest. No more young and idealistic. They may even say if I am not pay so much, don’t call me. And they will delay the opening of an MRT station because there is not enough load, not profitable, not justifiable. They will build public housings, but you wait for another few years for them to be built. They cannot afford to build and wait for the people. Hospitals, transportations, public services, must be justified in terms of profits before they are built. There are exceptions of course, like public parks which were built together with public housing.

With some exceptions here and there, the ethos for public service is never the same again.


Anonymous said...

"There are exceptions of course, like public parks which were built together with public housing."

The HDB flats belong to HDB.

The public parks were built together with public housing to ensure that the new HDB flats can command a high sales price.

Any HDB upgrading project enhances the value of HDB flats.
And the HDB flats belong to HDB.

Anonymous said...

"There are exceptions of course, like public parks which were built together with public housing." you should add, with our money!

Anonymous said...

Chin Leng;

"While the first generation of leaders replaced the foreigners with locals,", unquote.

Me finds it hard to concur with the above-quoted phrase. The British had engaged more locals in every place they colonized, NOT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE NICE TO THEIR CONQUERED SUBJECTS. They needed the locals to work for them and the British were sensible that for workers to be productive, THEY GOT TO BE EDUCATED, HEALTHY AND HAPPY. The British had indeed done a very good job then, so much so that many locals joined their armed forces and the educated locals then looked forward to working for them.

As for the locals that took over the British Ruler, the SURVIVING GODFATHER had worked for the Japanese who were beheading Chinese everywhere for thrills. The British handed over Singapore to him on a platter when it was loosing it foothold on her colonies. NO LOCAL HAD TO FIGHT OR RAISE A HAND FOR THE INDEPENDENCE OF SINGAPORE.

To some of us, the AMBITION of the First Generation Local Ruler was obvious. To date, Singaporeans who saw/see through THAT AMBITION and opposed/oppose it have either ended up in jail, in exile or remain as outcasts. Some are remembered as dead heroes; Lee Siew Chioh, Lim Chin Siong, JB Jeyaretnam and the Late Mr Khoo. There are also a handful of living non-converts in Chee Soon Juan Siblings, Chia Thye Poh, Said Zahari, Teo So Lung and her likes etc.

If there was/is any naive politicians in Singapore, they are those that got themselves into jail, exile or family destructed. Those are the naive ones.

And there are also the many naive non-politician Singaporeans that are playing music to the Pigs everyday just to vent frustration.


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

I must acknowledged that politics in those days were deadly and getting killed was a high possibility.

That aside, the colonial masters were only interested in employing clerks, cooks, drivers and foot soldiers. Other than the small Raffles College, most schools were up to secondary level. The spirit to push for higher education was written in the stories of Chinese High Schools and Nantah, where the local Chinese donated generously to give their children higher education to be more than just clerks.

I was quite moved by the inscriptions at Chinese High on why and how it was built. It said that the govt did not want to provide higher education for their children and they had to take things in their own hands, to build the school.

Not a cent from the colonial govt. Tan Kah Kee donated that piece of land that it now stood. Saw Wee Cho Yaw's name donating $10,000 which was very big then, and he wasn't that big at that time.

There were not many professionally qualified locals other than a handful, some went overseas on parents scholarhip and a few on British scholarship

Anonymous said...

If the British were to have their foreign subjects educated to tertiary level, the Chinese in Sin would probably have became pseudo angmos long ago. It was a blessing that all schools were allowed to operate in vernacular.


Whilst under the British, all the different local Races were very proud of their roots(ethnicity). They did their best to prevent their Races from getting bastardized by alien culture. They did not even relish any mixture of the local Asian Races. It was the perverted thinking of some local leaders that the white culture became deemed 'superior'. Nothing can be more stupid in my personal view.

I BELIEVE that it is desirable to be able to use as many languages as one is able to learn. BUT, this should never be achieved by abandoning ones' own natural language(mother tongue). Some may believe or pragmatically chose material wealth over virtue. However, this is never the deed of of conscientious being. No matter how ugly, stupid and poor, the dignity and value of life of fellow men is the same as rulers and the intellects.


I have a view that greatly differs with a buddy's view that in order for this little tiny island to survive, it has to be developed the way it is done.
I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT HAD WE CONSERVED AND SAVE MUCH OF OUR ORIGINAL NATURE, we would be able to live much happier living for a much longer time. However, now that Sin had turned into a tall concrete jungle, the primates living in it will naturally be having hard time that will only gets harder as we 'progress'.

This comment is quite disconnected in composition. Me just hope that readers can catch some balls.


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Patriot, you are getting too cheem. I also catch no ball.

Veritas said...

The British did no destroy Chinese culture in HK even they had stayed there 34 years after they have relinquish Singapore.

Today, HK has preserve even more Chinese culture than PRC or Singapore.

The destruction of our mother tongue and culture is solely due to one man -- LEE KUAN YEW

Anonymous said...

Chin Leng;

no problem so long as You understand Veritas' Comment, just after and before me. That was a short and sharp one.


Anonymous said...

And to conclude my comment here at this post, I like to say we all(Singaporeans) are indeed very naive, not 'were naive'.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it obvious that Hong Kong, besides preserving Chinese dialects and culture, is no less forward looking, developed and prosperous as Singapore.

So, what is the advantage that we have gained by destroying dialects? The man who did that has done so much harm to Chinese culture here, ostensibly to advance his political agenda and still insist that that was a smart move to this day. Of course, he never will admit his mistakes. He will rather take them to his grave.