Deep holes, weak leaders

This is the title of Thomas Friedman’s article in the ST today. Let me just do a précis of this article to make sense in the Singaporean context. I would leave out the irrelevant and may alter or substitute a word or phrase here and there to make it more interesting to read.

One of the most troubling features of today’s global economic crisis is the lack of political leadership anywhere. No one has the courage to tell people the truth. And the truth, alas, is that ‘five’ of the pillars of today’s global economy – Europe, America, China and the Arab world – have, each in their own way, squandered huge dividends they enjoyed in recent decades, and how they have to dig out of their respective holes with fewer resources, less time and, almost certainly, more pain.

There is no way out. But, as confronting these hard truths becomes unavoidable, I think we’re likely to see some wild, angry and destabilizing politics that could make the economic recovery even more difficult. Deep holes and weak leaders are a bad combination….

“Someone among the leaders must finally tell the people the truth: This fresh start can only be achieved with a radical first step,” he said….

But the leaders used their surpluses of power and wealth to ignore the United Nations’ Human Rights Report…Instead, they enriched a small slice of their populations and distracted the rest with shiny objects….

“To its credit, it used its huge export dividend to build 21st century infrastructure and to educate its people, creating a rich upper middle class. But the current leadership has not used this surging economic growth to also introduce gradual political reform. Corruption is as bad as ever, institutionalised transparency and the rule of law remain weak and consensual politics nonexistent. If growth slows and incomes widen further, more and more steam will build up in the system with no outlet, which is surely one reason that the country will reach ‘a critical stage.’

So for these countries, in different ways, these have been the years the locusts ate. Getting healthy again will be wrenching for all of us. At a minimum, it would need a sensible plan to fix the economy – which is what people want most and many in the business would surely support it. The country cannot wait until 2016 to do serious policy changes again.


Divali said...

Educating Thomas Friedman on the Economy


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Thanks Divali.

The housing bubble is always there waiting to be pricked. Housing is a non productive asset and shall remain that way. Instense speculation will reach a point when it will fall again. The only exception may be Sin. But Sin can continue to pump the bubble by selling to foreigners which in the end will see the whole country being sold.

Anonymous said...

Finally a reasonable article by Thomas Friedman who has written s9o much rubbish over the years.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

I take that as a compliment to know that Friedman is writing rubbish like me: )

Anonymous said...

" At a minimum, it would need a sensible plan to fix the economy – which is what people want most and many in the business would surely support it"

The rubbish part, if you wld pardon me, is that you assume "many people in the business" would support it.

The last I checked, they support high living and high salary or unlimited wealth.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

You are right, spot on.

What I posted was Friedman's article and cannot adulterate too much to turn it into a totally different article.

Anonymous said...

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean

Some people will never get it and that is okay. Telling the truth and pointing out facts that discredit what the media has told us is just being smart and using the brains that God/Creator gave us. Listening to what the media says and simply going along is a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Some one has predicted that it would 80-100 years for Singapore to change,I do not think so,and I agree with those saying that the PAP needs a real sensible plan to fix the economy now.

Anonymous said...

There are two clear cut types of governments. In certain governments where ministers and connected people take freely in the dark you have what you call corrupted governments. But if you have clever ministers in governments which take just as much if not more but institutionalise what they grab to show case pseudo transparency they are supposely clean and uncorrupted though people now realise that what is taken in the dark is called corruption and what is taken through hidden legal channels is called legalise corruption. To set the record straight all politicians must declare their assets before they hold office and again after they left office. An independent high court panel of five senior judges not beholden to any ministers or president will look into the office bearers' assets both before and after taking office. If there are obvious discrepancies in the declared assets the guilty party must be summoned to court and if found guilty he will have to pay a very hefty fine not more than ten times the total value of his assets and a prison term of not more than twenty years but definitely not less. In this way we can surely help to eradicate corruption both illegal or legalise.

Eagles Eye

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

This is only an aspiration lah. Transparency is only demanded from Hougang and the opposition parties.

patriot said...

Eagles eye has stated an ideal hardly practice anywhere.
However, it will be good to have the Closet open for examination should the need arises. And this can oni happen when the people have the gut to demand for it or when the Regime loses its' power.