Are mediocre Singaporeans happy?
Decades ago, this small country became a republic but are not many people who could have predicted its march to success.
Not even the leaders who kicked the ball to get the country to where it is today.
But from a strict regime of compliance, the country has fallen into a middle-income trap and a cul-de-sac for the retirees and pensioners.
With this national day, it is obvious that Singapore, a firebrand Asean tiger, the number one roaring economic champion of Southeast Asia, has missed many targets.
Some of the once loaded, young and hardworking population that grew older with time is having the hardest moments in their lives. Some are poverty stricken but many of them are forced to work to earn a living.
Many left their retirement to work as cleaners and odd workers, perhaps to earn enough to pay for their hefty medical bills. At least this is what people are saying.
Ipso facto, if that is true, then the country is not on the right path.
In my forty years as a Journalist, I can say I have seen many things. I have heard of many other things. Sort of “I have been there, done this and seen that’ kind of statement.
I can say that I have also seen this ugly side of progress to the point that I believe it is human to fail at times.
On top of that, I am appaled when I read the alleged statement from the Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
If he really said what he said about Singaporeans earning less than S$500,000 a year, then I feel sad for the mediocre people. But I feel happy for ESM Goh. He spoke the truth.
“So where do you want to get your ministers from? From people who warn only $500,000 a year? You’re going to end up with very mediocre people who can’t even earn a million dollars outside. Is it good for you or is it worse for us?”
Yes, this is what is circulating on portals in Singapore. The quote is attributed to Mr Goh. If he really said those who earn less than S$500,000 are ‘mediocre people’, it is a sad day for those Singaporeans.
It is not surprising though. In this day and age, nothing is surprising. There is a US President who is on the loose like a cannonball. We have leaders who are clinging to power because if they go away, all hell will break loose. We also have richly paid leaders who are taunting the small people as ‘mediocre’.
No big deal. But the suffering of the people has its limits. And they have to bear with their problems. No one is here to help them in these testing times. Certainly not the politicians.
According to Mr Google – whom we can trust at times – quoted a veteran communist politician as saying: “A politician is a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of an elected office.”
But in the US, generally speaking, a politician is a person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement within an organization. This is the modern connotation.
Meanwhile, it is popular belief that a politician is a person who is rendering a service to his nation, to his people, his country etc.
This is not necessarily true, as we have seen from Mr Google. And trust me, Miss Wikipedia does not differ from Mr Google.
Hence, to do politics is not to serve the people. It is to distance oneself from the mediocre.
It is to get paid, and in some quarters, it is to become rich. In Singapore, it is for the really highly professional people to get the job as Ministers. If you earn $500k a year, you are not qualified.
This is how it is. Nothing is going to alter this state of affairs in Singapore, not in the coming decade. Unless I am wrong.
The opposition in Singapore started a debate on the creation of a united front to oppose the mighty People’s Action Party (PAP).
The PAP is today among the few parties that have ruled their country since the inception of the nation.
This is to cheer the sad ones
Cambodia has a party that has ruled for 38 years non-stop and it won the recently concluded elections hands-down. It snatched the 125 Parliamentary seats, leaving nothing to the opponents.
But in Malaysia, the ruling party for 61 years, was finally brought down in dramatic fashion.
It took 20 years of street fights, courtroom debacles and betrayals from fellow compatriots. But it took the roping-in of an elderly statesman to achieve the impossible.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on a fine morning, decided to make a move thought impossible. He went to a Court of law to meet an old foe.
It suffices for a few minutes of talk surrounded by wary people from the ‘reformasi’ movement to reach a deal.
The rest is history. But part of this history is still in the making. Anwar Ibrahim, the man Dr Mahathir went to meet at the Courtroom, is still in the shadows.
The point is that the way to political unity among the opponents exists. Dr Mahathir and Anwar paved the way for future alliances among political foes in the region.
Should Singapore’s opposition follow these steps, nothing will be impossible. But it entails many sacrifices to build such trusts.
Happy National Day Singapore!