When Rome burns

When Rome was burning, Nero was fiddling on the roof. Why was that so? Why did Nero have all the time to play his fiddle when Rome was burning? He had too much time on his hand. He had appointed a cabinet of very talented ministers to run the empire for him. They were the best the empire could find. He was happy and at ease that he had all the able men in his team. And he spent his time in his favourite past time, fiddling on the roof.

Nero presumed that all his ministers were hard at work. So there was nothing to worry about. And that was why he was alone at the top, on the roof. Unfortunately he did not know that his ministers were either busy making themselves richer or on holiday with all the wealth they had accumulated. But aren’t they supposed to do their parts. These were very able and talented men. They knew that they could not do their jobs. They were not trained for them. Some were experts in deciphering the Dead Sea Scroll. How on earth would they be able to know what was happening in defence, in finance, in education? Or how much would a physician know about engineering, trade, building the country’s infrastructure. Because they were smart enough to know of their limitations, they outsourced their jobs to super talents, even imported talents. They had the money to buy the best talents.

So all the ministers needed to do was to buy talents to do their jobs. And they could sing song all day long or go on vacation. The super talents were supposed to know their stuff. Did they? Or were they snake oil sellers? Very likely, for Rome was burning under their charge. Did Nero know, or did the ministers know that Rome was burning? Nero did not. The ministers either did not know, or did want to know, or hoping that the super talents knew their stuff and the fire was temporary. But most chose not to know, making more money was their main preoccupation.

But the citizens knew that Rome was buring. So were the firefighters. Why didn’t the firefighters fight the fire? They were waiting for orders. They were waiting for someone to raise the alarm. No orders, no alarms, no action. And they all sat on their fat arses watching Rome burnt. They were paid handsomely and no need to sweat or work or think, if no one asked them do.

And Rome continued to burn while Nero played his fiddle on the roof, oblivious to what was happening. Everything must be fine as no one was there to tell him.

Would Nero wake up in time to save Rome, to put out the fire? According to history, he did not and Rome was burnt to the ground. Could he have save Rome if he knew that Rome was burning? He might, if he started to ask a few relevant questions, called up his ministers who would question his super talents about what was going on, about the fire. But these might not happen as the ministers knew nothing about what was happening and were fully dependent on the experts who turned out to be snake oil sellers, and who actually started the fire and did not know how to put it out.

Raising the alarm was useless for many reasons. For one, no one was listening, or no one wanted to listen. Everyone chose to hide their heads in the sand, didn’t want to hear, didn’t want to see, didn’t want to know. They all had options to move out of Rome with their wealth, or to rebuild a new Rome after the fire.

There was a fire, and the fire was burning. And everyone was looking the other way, with Nero on the roof top having a blissful time.

PS. Many would be guessing what is this all about? That is a good sign. Those who know will know what I am talking about. Those who don't, never mind, ignorance is bliss. Just hope that Nero knows, or at least interested enough to want to know before it is too late.


Anonymous said...

This sound very familiar!

Anonymous said...

I agree that a truly smart guy will know that his training and education in a specific discipline does not make him an expert in all fields. A good example is that a surgeon could be the best in his field, but he would truly know nuts about the complexities of high finance or about irrigations.

It only takes an ass to think that he is an expert in all fields, even in fields that he did not know or has no interest in.

Anonymous said...

too far down the road to change course...... it will be burnt down just like Rome... sad!

gecko said...

Many who know have left.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi gecko, welcome to the blog.

Leaving is an option to some. To others, this is home and they want to stay to make it better. Our home must not be hijacked by a few individuals who think they own it.

Anonymous said...

Sad to know "Animal Fram" is still much alive even today!

Anonymous said...

somebody trained to be a vet. can b head of military. now keppel corp chairman and sph chairman. how to tell we sinkies not to worry.

jjgg said...

RB..quite a few scenarios can be painted..
1) Nero knows but doesn't care
2) Nero cares but doesn't know
3) Nero knows and cares but doesn't know how to put out the fire or didn't know how large the fire or didn't have fire fighters or fire deliberately lit by fire fighters to justify having fire fighters.....and the list goes on n on n on...in the end...play musical instrument better...

patriot said...

Present day Neros are much much luckier than the Nero of Rome. Nero of Rome probably knew some neighbouring countries, but, he was most likely not welcome as he was the Head of a sovereign nation.

Today's Neros invest and stash their wealth, conscience gotten or otherwise, in other countries which welcome them. Maybe the wealth are more coveted than their owners la, but never mind.

No need to see the fire la, the moment smoke gets a little thicker and the Neros will be on their private jets and some on their company jets to enjoy their fortunes.

Maybe, a fire is exactly what they wanted and plan for.


Matilah_Singapura said...


What cock are you talking (again)?

Just because a there's incessant whinging from the rabble, doesn't mean that the cuntry is "burning".

Most of the noise is from people who are neurotically jealous of other peoples' success.

Singapore is the most awesome it has ever been in all of its history. Everything works. Even though it is crowded. Do business? So easy! Deal with government? A breeze. Nightlife -- pretty good...a little sterile, but still ok. Private functions: anything goes (nudge nudge wink wink). Ease of fucking off to somewhere else: one short cheap cab/ MRT ride to the airport.

Why be so negative when it is so darn easy to be happy in Hotel Singapore?

Matilah_Singapura said...


You are never going to get a world where there is absolutely ZERO corruption in the realms of absolute power. Dream on, wish, hope, pray to your favourite sky fairy...but I tell you, it ain't going to happen.

When Toxic Shitwater was PM of Thailand, the place was alive and pumpin' man. Same with Indonesia when Suharto was Tin Pot Dicktater In-charge. Sure these fucker were assholes, but at least you could make a few bucks and have a good time...but it's up to you to make the right "contacts".

But Singapore is nowhere near Thaksin's Thailand or Suharto's Indonesia. The playing field is much more level, and the meritocracy is judiciously applied naturally .. i.e. if you are capable, you will profit.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

That is why I said those who understood why I am talking about will know what I am talking about. For those who could not understand, never mind. No need to sweat the small stuff.

If you don't understand, it is not meant for your ears.

When did I say the country is burning?

Anonymous said...

Budgetary Accounting for Eye Surgeons.
A must read textbook for all tea party invitees.

Anonymous said...

Just because a leopard danced on a bar top 10 years ago;
does not mean he is no longer a leopard.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, the most expensive government on earth.

Anonymous said...

All the hard work are perhaps done by pa, grassroots and even the ns boys on ndp. . . AND not forgetting the lower level civil servants? The higher ones are too busy getting probe lah.

Anonymous said...

I think our hard earned money already kena burnt on expensive housing and inflation.

Anonymous said...

If only those who have eyes see and ears hear, can the people be free in 2016.

Anonymous said...

Why so vulgal when you can say things properly.

This is one good article. Keep writing redbean.

Anonymous said...

Walau if so capable why bother to come here and kajiao? You get paid is it?

Anonymous said...

No worries redbean, yes some people will never get it.

Keep up the excellent writing. I enjoyed reading your blog.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

We must not learn the bad things from bad people. Some jokers will say you want $10 huh, it will bankrupt the reserves you know. But quietly he demanded a million and he forgot that a million would bankrupt the reserves a hundred thousand times according to his own logic.

Who is saying the country is burning? But if you look carefully, some corners are burning and would turn to ashes very quickly.

No need to argue with people who refuse to see your point of view and try to exaggerate a point into something ridiculous.

Lim Chong Yah's proposal is a case in point. They only attacked him on one point and refused to acknowledge that it is a package of recommendations, including and most important of all, freezing the top salaries to be used to pay the workers. Of course it hurts some at the top.

Anonymous said...

Blame the dafties for putting the Pappies in the government who are now playing the fiddle while the city is burning. The people may not know that either all or most of the ministers and the top echelon civil servants have not only stashed away humongous cash overseas but also bought huge swash of lands and posh properties in Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand.
So it doesn't bother them if the city is burning because at any moment they can safely bolt out of the burning city at the critical stage.

Eagles Eye

Anonymous said...

@ Matilah,Singapura,
Yes you are absolutely correct to say there we can never get a world with no corruption BUT we can't stand leaders keep harping they are the cleanest guys on earth

Matilah_Singapura said...

@anon 1229

If you enjoy your freedom of speech, then allow others the same freedom.

in other words, you cannot control what other people are going to say. They are free to lie, bullshit and make exaggerated claims.

Freedom of speech comes with another great freedom: freedom to ignore.

Asian culture has more or less embraced nepotism and crony capitalism. People know that elites talk shit, but they just ignore the crap and get on with their lives.

Bottom line: Can you start from zero and "make it" in Singapore even with all the "imperfections"?

Damn straight you can. It is way easier in Singapore than most anywhere else on this planet.

Fuck Lee Kuan Yew. Get rich anyway!

Anonymous said...

Redbean, you should credit the source of this article, instead of letting readers think that you wrote this original article.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

What is your agenda? You want the author to sue me for plagiarism?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:02, you claiming to have written this article and RB copied from you?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Okay lah, since you are so persistent, the source of this article is from www.mysingaporenews.blogspot.com/ and the author is Redbean.


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Oh, this article is as original as you can get. You mean there is another original article?

You want to paste your original article here and show everyone here?