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Singapore the Orwellian nanny state

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Seah Chiang Nee of The Star, a Malaysian paper wrote this today:

Many of the MPs hail from rich homes with little understanding of how the deprived class suffers, he added. “Until they join politics, some have never stepped into a public flat in their lives.”

The ping-pong flap has highlighted a growing unhappiness with the ruling party’s extensive role — and influence — in matters that have nothing to do with government.

“The government should just stick to running the country and keep its nose away from private business, running the media or sports,” said a returning graduate from Australia.

“Why is a PAP MP managing the game of ping-pong when there are more experienced people around?” he asked.

Indeed, a good question to ask is why is government influence and state interference so common and widespread in Singapore?  Most of the largest companies in Singapore, for example, are majority-owned by Temasek Holdings.  The state appears unwilling to step back to allow Singaporeans mature politically.  Apart from this, Seah also noted the government’s way of recruiting people into public service is over-reliant on scholarly assesment, a sentiment echoed earlier by the Asia Sentinel here:

Over the decades, thousands of the brightest students have been given university scholarships and slotted back into society to run the country. This was expanded to include bright foreigners.

This was believed to have been adopted by Lee Kuan Yew from 1,300 years of Chinese Imperial exams, from which the emperors picked out the best to help them run China.

For Singapore, this had largely worked well in producing efficient civil servants and managers at a time when the world was a lot less complex.

Going forward, however, they face two problems.

The first is that while they are good at implementing policies, few actually shine at anticipating problems and creativity.

Visionary abilities often come from ordinary people, even drop-outs — not just scholars.

Secondly, too many “scholar” politicians lack the human touch or a social skill to connect with the masses. Today, Singaporeans want to see leaders and MPs who can relate with them.

Online writer, Robert Teh said the Singapore system that is based on assembling of a few scholars to come up with ideas, schemes and policies for the whole country would no longer work.

The conceptual assumptions about leadership and talents have failed to work for modern Singapore since 1970s and should be revised, he said, noting that “A leader is chosen because, among other reasons, he or she has shared certain common objectives with the people.”

When Singapore does well, the scholars were given the bulk of the credits, but when things go so badly as now, the big blame, too, goes to them.

Written by defennder

May 23, 2009 at 7:59 PM

Posted in Singapore affairs

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