Singapore’s politicians have been accustomed to using the mainstream media as its stenographer for the past 5 decades. No news is really good news but that appears to be bad news for SPH’s bottom line. As such, the MSM has learnt to manufacture ‘news’ such as MPs picking up a pamper and a diaper. This actually became news of sorts ie the butt of every netizen’s joke. link
As the MSM continues to live in the dinosaur pre internet age, it has remained blindly loyal to its political masters and deeply ignorant that it no longer controls information. Since it simply publishes everything a politician says, blunders were of course aplenty. Some are listed below.
1 The most recent one was of course MP Baey’s $2.50 nasi padang comment on his Facebook. link He claims to “frequent hawker centres” but ‘somehow’ was not aware that such a pricing could only be possible on another planet. Naturally, he was flamed as he should be for being so divorced from the reality of ordinary Singaporeans. To make matters worse, he thought his Bandung drink had cost 50 cents. Perhaps he had meant hawker centres across the causeway where his Bandung drink was M$1.25 which converts to $.50? Typical of PAP members trying to explain away blunders when they should have just admitted the mistake and move on. It was all the more surprising because Baey took on a more senior advisory role in Hill and Knowlton Strategies, a PR company, in Dec last year. link Few understood Baey’s strategy for making repeated blunders.
(To have a better understanding of silly statements by our statesmen, we need to include this epic blunder by MP Goh Chok Tong. During the 2011 election he said: “Walking with two legs are much easier than walking with one leg. You try walking with one leg.” link It’s akin to saying “using your hands to eat is easier than using your feet. You try eating with your feet”. Perhaps MPs have taken the cue from him?)
2 Our highly paid Minister Lui Tuck Yew only realised that alcohol could turn Indian foreign workers into superman, overturning police vehicles and causing extensive damage in a riot. link However, credit should be given to Lui for putting in the extra effort in “smelling the environment” to confirm the presence of alcohol. For at least a decade or so, Little India was turned into the ‘biggest open air pub’ with congregations of Indians numbering in the thousands. However, all the MPs of Lui’s GRC required a riot to break out to realise the negative effects of alcohol. Perhaps the government should not employ too many scholars as they may require very expensive lessons to learn some common sense.
3 After redefining ‘flooding’ into ‘ponding’, the IDA has now overtaken the PUB in a redefinition contest among statutory boards. When many government websites were unexpectedly down in early November, the IDA informed the public that it was a “planned maintenance”. link In other words, an unexpected event which had already occurred is considered “planned”. Maybe the government would like to announce to the world we had a ‘planned SMRT strike’ and a ‘planned riot’. Maybe all mistakes and failed policies such as ‘Stop At Two’ were actually ‘planned’?
4 On healthcare, PM Lee said:” We are going to spend more on healthcare, year by year. But some part of it has to be paid by ourselves….” For the record, Singaporeans are always made to pay for ourselves whenever there is some sort of assistance from the government. Our Medishield premiums will be increased soon and the contributions from the government are also our money. Instead of contributing more to our welfare, the government only believes in contributing more to our reserves.
To keep healthcare costs down, the advice from PM is “to stay healthy”. Maybe there are many Singaporeans who believe in keeping healthcare costs up and when they fall ill or require surgery, they did so intentionally. What then about Minister Khaw who had an $8 heart bypass surgery? Perhaps Khaw could have avoided spending taxpayers’ money if PM Lee had advised him in 2009.
5 Our ministers are clearly overworked because of their CCA ie handling issues not under their portfolio. Recall not long ago the MOM minister had to take over MICA’s Yaacob Ibrahim on the issue of the MDA new licensing scheme for websites on Talking Point. Although the government had decided in 2012 that there will be an additional 3,000 university places by 2020, Singaporeans were discouraged to pursue a university education a year later. MND minister Khaw stepped in and told us “university degree not vital for success”. link Question on ordinary Singaporeans’ minds was why are ministers sending their children to university while expecting others not to do so?
So Khaw put it more bluntly: “You own a degree, but so what? That you can’t eat it.” It was later revealed on social media that Khaw’s daughter recently graduated in 2010! link Was a degree edible before 2012 or did the economic landscape suddenly changed in 2013?
6 Dr Koh Poh Koon, MP aspirant and super high income earner declared that “everybody has a car, we have two…”. After almost a year of reflection, he realised and admitted it was an extraordinary blunder. It was rare for anyone in the PAP to be so upfront after making a blunder and even rarer to admit what he had said was “not logical, even an idiot wouldn’t say that”. We need many politicians with Dr Koh’s humility: make a mistake, admit it and move on. But what I don’t understand is why is he contesting in 2016 when he had already acknowledged his disinterest in politics and was parachuted in at the last minute. Why does he assume that voters are going to vote for him just because “he will no longer be a new face..”?
So long as we have too many run of the mill politicians, like who you should know, there will be more silly statements by statesmen in our mainstream media in 2014. For 5 decades, they have been too used to talking down to ordinary folks who are considered daft. I guess old habits do die hard.