Dr Goh Keng Swee: The Anomie Within Us (from 1980)

Dr Goh Keng Swee, the nuts-and-bolts architect and builder of modern Singapore and much of its hallowed institutions, including the civil service, in a Straits Times article from 1980:

http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article/straitstimes19800803.2.3.aspx

The Anomie Within Us
Dr Goh sees two ingredients that may spell trouble in the future
3 August 1980

The First Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee, last night warned of the “anomie” within Singapore society.

First, there is the threat from our learning of foreign languages like English at the expense of folk tongues.

Second, there is relentless pursuit of wealth, resulting in the abandoning of “accepted social norms of conduct such as honesty and moderation.”

This, if it becomes widespread, will endanger the health of society.

No more standards

“Anomie,” Dr Goh points out, is a word coined by sociologists to signify the “state of mind of one who has been pulled up from his moral roots, who has no longer any standards but only disconnected urges, who has no longer a sense of continuity, of folk, of obligation.”

[…]

He sees two ingredients for trouble in the future: One is the wholesale adoption of a foreign language and the other is the chase for money.

“What people are concerned about is whether future generations of Singaporeans will lose the traditional values of the Oriental cultures in which their forefathers were nutured.

“This fear is reinforced by the spectacle of Singaporeans who, in their quest for material success, become less and less aware of their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, and more and more concerned only with their immediate gains,” he said.
[Strange thing for him to say, as an economist who favoured the classicists, especially Ricardo.
Read: relative advantage.]

There are no easy answers to this dilemma, he said.

[…]

“Moral education in schools may help, but only up to a point, and only if it is properly done. What is obvious is that we must not abandon our cultural past.”

That, he said, was the real reason for enforcing bilingual education in schools.

The bilingual policy has placed a tremendous burden on children since most of them have to master two languages not always spoken at home, Dr Goh said, but efforts to rectify this are being made.

[…]

“It will not be long before English will emerge as the dominant language in Singapore, spoken not only by those in well-paid jobs, but by almost everybody…it is unlikely that this trend can be arrested.

“Thinking people are wondering what kind of society will emerge out of this linguistic trend.

“To my knowledge, there has been no example in history when a whole society voluntarily drops its various mother tongues to adopt a foreign language.

“Singapore’s experience is unique in the history of mankind. So we can only speculate about future consequences,” he said.
[True, it may be unique, but there have been national experiments/transformations in language+culture of rather more far-reaching consequences.
For example: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Kemalism in modern secular Turkey;
Japan’s Nihonjinron from its rather flimsy mythical beginnings, to their begrudged debt to Sinic imports of language+culture+religion from the 8th century, and in the modern era revisionism and literally ‘white-washing’ themselves into ex-Asians and attempts at ‘geo-cultural transplantation’ from the Meiji period on. At least the Koreans are honest about their cultural and language antecedents and influences even while attempting to produce their own independent script Hangul away from the Sinic-based Hanja, during the Joseon era.

But both Dr Goh and LKY understandably shared concerns that their ‘market-based’ push for the English language in Spore may result in an ‘anomic’ and discombobulated Man, a person disoriented and without a sense of self culture and history. I think they spoke of this fear elsewhere, describing it as the “Caribbean Englishman”.]

[…]

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Sporean electoral parody of Gee [Girls’ Generation]

Recently came across this hilarious video.
[I know I really shouldnt (post it), but I cant resist…]
A bit late, now that elections over…

Btw, after coming of age but never getting to vote cuz of GRC stronghold/no contest/walkovers, I also virgin first-time voter at this ripe ‘old’ age…
Truly for me,
“Living by the sea and under PAP
Never get to vote or see my MP”

[Actually I got to see him quite a few times lah, most notably many many seasons ago, in school on stage to shake his hand and receive my prizes… he very distinguished ORA alumni you know]

And really, this mrbrown video is quite a good production, very well done.
Enjoy.

Parody of Gee:

.
.
.

And this is the actual saccharine-overdosed MV, Gee by Girls’ Generation.
[Am not a SONE by far; but since I am now posting their video…
Go Taeyeon! You cute little babo…
]

Gee [Girls’ Generation]:

Young Mandarins & the quest for a virtuous civil service

A very funny article from The Economist, especially the following highlighted paragraphs:

A special report on the future of the state
Go East, young bureaucrat
Emerging Asia can teach the West a lot about government

Mar 17th 2011

[…]

One thing that stands out in Singapore is the quality of its civil service. Unlike the egalitarian Western public sector, Singapore follows an elitist model, paying those at the top $2m a year or more. It spots talented youngsters early, lures them with scholarships and keeps investing in them. People who don’t make the grade are pushed out quickly.

Sitting around a table with its 30-something mandarins is more like meeting junior partners at Goldman Sachs or McKinsey than the cast of “Yes, Minister”. The person on your left is on secondment at a big oil company; on your right sits a woman who between spells at the finance and defence ministries has picked up degrees from the London School of Economics, Cambridge and Stanford. High-fliers pop in and out of the Civil Service College for more training; the prime minister has written case studies for them. But it is not a closed shop. Talent from the private sector is recruited into both the civil service and politics. The current education minister used to be a surgeon.

Western civil services often have pretty good people at the top, but in Singapore meritocracy reigns all the way down the system. Teachers, for instance, need to have finished in the top third of their class (as they do in Finland and South Korea, which also shine in the education rankings). Headmasters are often appointed in their 30s and rewarded with merit pay if they do well but moved on quickly if their schools underperform. Tests are endemic.

[…]

http://www.economist.com/node/18359852?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/ar/goeastyoungbureaucrat

Heh heh, if the article writer finds it stressful sitting in meetings with these “30-something mandarins”
[probably an assortment of Deputy Directors from the various parts of the civil service, including the elite Administrative Officers from the ‘inner sanctum’/the PMO (who rove between the various govt agencies), like ravenous wolves seeking to outdo each other for the ultimate prize: not just to become the Director/Head/MD/CEO of a govt/quasi-govt agency, but to do so before turning 40 (and thereafter, leaving only one rung left to climb in the civil service — to become a permanent secretary)
],
he should try sitting in a classroom and competing/sparring with these same young mandarins and ultra-competitive overachievers when they were 15, 16, 17 years old, in an S-paper (GCE S-level, Scholarship level, or Special paper) tutorial or in a Mathematics/Chemistry Olympiad training squad or competing for a spot in the SRP (Science Research Programme).

The rest of the article is also pretty interesting. Especially now in the wake of the general election outcomes, and the focus/resentment on ministerial and civil service pay.

Does the IMF need an Asian leader… now?

Why the IMF needs an Asian leader
May 25th, 2011
Author: William Overholt, Harvard University

It is doubtful that Washington politicians understand just how important the IMF leadership decision is. This decision is crucial because of a history that Americans have largely forgotten.

During the Asian Crisis of 1997-8, the IMF made two decisions that continue to threaten the world’s ability to have a coherent financial crisis management policy based on a single institution.

First, with the strong support of the U.S. Treasury, it imposed an austerity program on Thailand that was intended to produce GDP growth of zero percent but instead caused an economic collapse worse than the worst years of the Great Depression. Second, it imposed the closure of a group of Indonesian banks connected to President Suharto without taking any measures to support the rest of the banking system, thereby causing the collapse of the entire banking system. This contrasts sharply with the measures the IMF and the U.S. Treasury have supported in developed countries, namely generous fiscal and monetary support and extreme care to avoid a systemic banking collapse.

Since then, Asians as a group have distrusted the IMF and engaged in a series of efforts to create Asian institutions to counterbalance it in the future. It is only a slight exaggeration to characterize the views of ASEAN countries as parallel to the Israeli oath: Never again.

When Strauss-Kahn was selected to lead the IMF, Asians were focused on institution-building: the Chiang Mai Initiative , ASEAN + 3, ASEAN + 6, the East Asian Summit, revival of the idea of an Asian Monetary Fund, even a common Asian currency. But now attention is heavily concentrated on the choice of a new IMF leader. This choice offers the opportunity to heal a very deep and consequential rift between the IMF and the largest populations and fastest growing economies on the planet. Conversely, if their voices are ignored, the disillusionment will widen and deepen the rift. Much of the effort to create a global governance system will be lost. Much of the effort that has gone into creation of the G-20 will be wasted; already it is clear that real decisions, like the recent intervention in the Japanese currency, are taken by the G-7 without even notifying countries like China, and in addition it will be clear that governance of the world’s most important economic institutions is still a European-American monopoly.

If we really care about the future of global governance, we’ll look for, as Australia has recently said, the most qualified candidate — not the most politically influential, preferably French, European candidate. Christine Lagarde is an impressive, talented financial leader. But, to take just one example, she does not have the crisis management experience of Singaporean Finance Minister and Monetary Authority head Tharman Shanmugaratnam. She does not have the healing power wielded by an ethnic Indian managing the finances of a predominantly ethnic Chinese city-state, a leader who bridges the West, China, Southeast Asia and India so smoothly that he makes it look easy. Above all, someone like him would restore the global authority of an institution that will eventually prove ineffectual if it is not demonstrably inclusive.

Nobody in Washington wants to irritate the Europeans. But if we choose traditional politics over global unity, everyone in Washington will one day rue the loss of an opportunity to restore the global stature of the IMF.

William Overholt is senior Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and author most recently of Asia, America and the Transformation of Geopoolitics (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

While the author, together with other pundits and supporters of Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam for the IMF leadership position, is right about the Singapore Finance Minister’s (and now also Deputy Prime Minister) impeccable credentials and qualifications for the IMF role (he is probably the most intelligent and strategic-minded member on the current Cabinet), Mr Overholt may be overstating his case here. Today more than ever, with continental-wide sovereign crises and mounting Producer/Consumer imbalances between hemispheres, diplomacy and empathetic communication are traits crucial to the incoming head of the IMF. While Mr. Shanmugaratnam’s sharpness of mind almost always places him head and shoulders above in any group of economists technocrats and politicians, a less-than-indefatigable patience and sometimes too-cold-too-logical analytical attitude do not go down well with his audience.

In any case, as the new Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), a position with influence within the IMF probably second only to that of the IMF head, Mr. Shanmugaratnam is already well-placed to address the ‘North-South’ global concerns and probably in the better role to effect real changes to actual working policies.

In solis sis tibi turba locis: In solitude, be a multitude to thyself

In solis sis tibi turba locis.
In solitude, be a multitude to thyself.

–Tibullus

Montaigne quotes Tibullus, in his The Essays from the chapter, “Of Solitude”;
but first opens the chapter with an appeal and challenge to those in public office and of high station and ambitions, as to their real aspirations:

The Essays of Montaigne/Book I/Chapter XXXVIII

OF SOLITUDE

Let us pretermit that long comparison betwixt the active and the solitary life; and as for the fine sayings with which ambition and avarice palliate their vices, that we are not born for ourselves but for the public, let us boldly appeal to those who are in public affairs; let them lay their hands upon their hearts, and then say whether, on the contrary, they do not rather aspire to titles and offices and that tumult of the world to make their private advantage at the public expense. The corrupt ways by which in this our time they arrive at the height to which their ambitions aspire, manifestly enough declares that their ends cannot be very good. Let us tell ambition that it is she herself who gives us a taste of solitude; for what does she so much avoid as society? What does she so much seek as elbow-room? A man may do well or ill everywhere; but if what Bias says be true, that the greatest part is the worse part, or what the Preacher says: there is not one good of a thousand:—

“Good men forsooth are scarce: there are hardly as many as there are gates of Thebes or mouths of the rich Nile,”

Stilpo having escaped from the burning of his town, where he lost wife, children, and goods, Demetrius Poliorcetes seeing him, in so great a ruin of his country, appear with an undisturbed countenance, asked him if he had received no loss! To which he made answer, No; and that, thank God, nothing was lost of his. This also was the meaning of the philosopher Antisthenes, when he pleasantly said, that “men should furnish themselves with such things as would float, and might with the owner escape the storm;” and certainly a wise man never loses anything if he have himself. When the city of Nola was ruined by the barbarians, Paulinus, who was bishop of that place, having there lost all he had, himself a prisoner, prayed after this manner: “O Lord, defend me from being sensible of this loss; for Thou knowest they have yet touched nothing of that which is mine.” The riches that made him rich and the goods that made him good, were still kept entire. This it is to make choice of treasures that can secure themselves from plunder and violence, and to hide them in such a place into which no one can enter and that is not to be betrayed by any but ourselves. Wives, children, and goods must be had, and especially health, by him that can get it; but we are not so to set our hearts upon them that our happiness must have its dependence upon them; we must reserve a backshop, wholly our own and entirely free, wherein to settle our true liberty, our principal solitude and retreat. And in this we must for the most part entertain ourselves with ourselves, and so privately that no exotic knowledge or communication be admitted there; there to laugh and to talk, as if without wife, children, goods, train, or attendance, to the end that when it shall so fall out that we must lose any or all of these, it may be no new thing to be without them. We have a mind pliable in itself, that will be company; that has wherewithal to attack and to defend, to receive and to give: let us not then fear in this solitude to languish under an uncomfortable vacuity:—

“In solis sis tibi turba locis.”

[“In solitude, be a multitude to thyself.”–Tibullus, vi. 13. 12.]

While some doubts may be cast on Montaigne’s unique personal definition of Solitude, and we can’t all have our own country estate to retire to and lead a life of solitude maintained by a retinue of servants (ironically) “in train and attendance”; we certainly should have our own “backshops”, whatever and wherever they may be.

Of Usury/CONTRA NATURAM, socialist requiems, and FRUIT and flies

Reading this post and referenced article here, was moved to comment:

————————————————————————————————————–

Ah, am reminded of Ezra Pound’s pounding litany against usury, his “With Usura”, from The Cantos.

With Usura (Canto LXV)

With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting
that delight might cover their face,

with usura

hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall
harpes et luthes
or where virgin receiveth message
and halo projects from incision,

with usura

seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines
no picture is made to endure nor to live with
but it is made to sell and sell quickly

with usura, sin against nature,
is thy bread ever more of stale rags
is thy bread dry as paper,
with no mountain wheat, no strong flour

with usura the line grows thick

with usura is no clear demarcation
and no man can find site for his dwelling
Stone cutter is kept from his stone
weaver is kept from his loom

WITH USURA

wool comes not to market
sheep bringeth no gain with usura
Usura is a murrain, usura
blunteth the needle in the the maid’s hand
and stoppeth the spinner’s cunning.

Pietro Lombardo came not by usura
Duccio came not by usura
nor Pier della Francesca; Zuan Bellin’ not by usura
nor was “La Callunia” painted.

Came not by usura Angelico; came not Ambrogio Praedis,
No church of cut stone signed: Adamo me fecit.

Not by usura St. Trophime

Not by usura St. Hilaire,

Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern;
Azure hath a canker by usura; cramoisi is unbroidered
Emerald findeth no Memling

Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom

CONTRA NATURAM

They have brought whores for Eleusis
Corpses are set to banquet

at behest of usura.

-Ezra Pound, With Usura, from The Cantos

And while Pablo Neruda’s later relationship with Castro may had been somewhat strained, he did pen this ode to the Great Man as well:

To Fidel Castro

Fidel, Fidel, the people are grateful
for words in action and deeds that sing,
that is why I bring from far
a cup of my country’s wine:
it is the blood of a subterranean people
that from the shadows reaches your throat,
they are miners who have lived for centuries
extracting fire from the frozen land.
They go beneath the sea for coal
but on returning they are like ghosts:
they grew accustomed to eternal night,
the working-day light was robbed from them,
nevertheless here is the cup
of so much suffering and distances:
the happiness of imprisoned men
possessed by darkness and illusions
who from the inside of mines perceive
the arrival of spring and its fragrances
because they know that Man is struggling
to reach the amplest clarity.
And Cuba is seen by the Southern miners,
the lonely sons of la pampa,
the shepherds of cold in Patagonia,
the fathers of tin and silver,
the ones who marry cordilleras
extract the copper from Chuquicamata,
men hidden in buses
in populations of pure nostalgia,
women of the fields and workshops,
children who cried away their childhoods:
this is the cup, take it, Fidel.

It is full of so much hope
that upon drinking you will know your victory
is like the aged wine of my country
made not by one man but by many men
and not by one grape but by many plants:
it is not one drop but many rivers:
not one captain but many battles.
And they support you because you represent
the collective honor of our long struggle,
and if Cuba were to fall we would all fall,
and we would come to lift her,
and if she blooms with flowers
she will flourish with our won nectar.
And if they dare touch Cuba’s
forehead, by your hands liberated,
they will find people’s fists,
we will take out our buried weapons:
blood and pride will come to rescue,
to defend our beloved Cuba.

–Pablo Neruda

[I also wanted to place Neruda’s poem “The United Fruit Co.” here, but I dare not…]
{But have no compunctions about placing it here on this site, so here it is…}

The United Fruit Co.

When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parcelled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the ’Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martines flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade,
drunken flies who zoom
over the ordinary graves,
circus flies, wise flies
well trained in tyranny.

Among the blood-thirsty flies
the Fruit Company lands its ships,
taking off the coffee and the fruit;
the treasure of our submerged
territories flow as though
on plates into the ships.

Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbours, wrapped
for burials in the mist of the dawn:
a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.

–Pablo Neruda

[An outwardly whimsical poem, but at its core, a gripping cold despair cynicism bitterness and resignation. Such dread in its metaphors and imageries (and smells!) which come alive in their sickly-sweet putrid stank of fruit and flies.
Juxtaposition…just which is the fruit and who are the flies ?


How to read this and not be moved by what Neruda was fighting for…]

Whatever it may be said, no one can deny that socialist poets verse beautifully…
Fruit and Flies indeed…

[And of the connections between economics, capitalism, usury, debt, socialism, beauty/ugliness, The United Fruit Co., Latin America, banana republics, cold ruthless exploitation of resources and labour, the Monroe Doctrine, fruits and flies… too lazy to make them here.
]

Paternalistic Authoritarianism II: A reformed activist and gilded prodigal son, is optimistic

Ho Kwon Ping, once a newspaper man and government critic who was jailed for his writings and actions, also a scion of a rather large family chemicals business and fortune, who returned to the fold and ‘straightened’ up to become a leading entrepreneur and player in the hotels and leisure business.
http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_434_2005-01-14.html

HKP wrote this op-ed published in the national newspaper on Wednesday, espousing his optimistic view of the coming general election and ending with a warm, fuzzy, all-embracing cheer to all sides.

While some skeptics may whisper that Mr. Ho had long been ‘co-opted’ into the establishment and is far from being the young fiery activist he once was, the very fact that his views were published in the national newspaper 3 days before the election, speaks volumes on just how much things have changed.

Where once I thought it would take ‘generations’ for real change, transparency and accountability to be effected, I now share some of Mr. Ho’s optimism:
“…the evolutionary process may take just another two or three elections over the next two decades.
If all goes well, the winner in this watershed election may well be Singapore’s future.”

Ho Kwon Ping’s op-ed in The Straits Times, May 4th:

Towards a First World electorate

A NEW generation will decide Singapore’s future in a few days. One of the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) concerns is to find a future prime minister from this generation. The opposition must also fill its ranks with voices from the future, not the past. And as a nation, the baton that was successfully passed from the founding generation to its custodians, the baby boomers of my generation, is now being handed to Gen Y.

Across the entire world, Gen Y – those in their mid 20s to 30s – is coming of political age. They have already made their mark in the Arab Spring, though arguably their inchoate, even naive democratic ideals may not translate altogether successfully from the street to the halls of government. In China, Gen Y is still more concerned about economic self-improvement than the future of the Chinese Communist Party, though they too are demanding more accountability from their government.

How should governments that have enjoyed more than a half-century of uninterrupted and unopposed rule respond to the winds of change with a firm yet enlightened touch? Political science textbooks provide no answer. Established liberal democracies with routinely rotating ruling parties have no such dilemma at all. Current events have not been inspiring. Arab leaders have no qualms about quashing youthful dissent with bloodshed in order to perpetuate their rule. Halfway across the world, China’s response is to simply clam up, with arrests of dissidents representing more a lack of imagination about how to deal with the imperative for change than a clearly thought through policy of repression. Besieged Arab governments and stubbornly recalcitrant Chinese leaders are certainly more reactionary than proactive.

The history of former colonies in the Third World trying to achieve First World economic and socio-political maturity is replete with failures. To achieve consistent economic growth with broad-based gains for entire populations has hitherto been a rarely scaled hurdle. To maintain exemplary, transparent governance with an entrenched ethos of incorruptibility is even harder. The Singapore that the PAP built has already risen to the top of the list of successful newly independent states with these two accomplishments. Can it remain in power with a clean sweep of all the seats on Saturday, denying the opposition the role of a “co -driver” ?

If history is anything to go by, this task will be daunting. History has not been very encouraging – whether it be Israel’s founding Labor party, India’s Congress, Taiwan’s Kuomintang or Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party. Ruling parties have generally foundered after about a half-century, then lost their original visionary leadership and mandate to rule.

Some have been voted – usually temporarily – from power, others have splintered. The only ruling parties with zero challenges to their authority, even after a half-century of rule, are those that do not subject themselves to elections at all. If the PAP can buck the trends of history, it will have set a new paradigm. And it is by no means impossible that the PAP will do precisely that, but possibly with greater difficulty than it took in achieving its earlier goals. The PAP may have to amend its aims and accept – if not in this general election, then in the next – that a robust multi-party system with a single dominant ruling party but several responsible opposition parties in Parliament may be a more sustainable and stable prospect.

With the PAP possibly holding the world record for the longest, uninterrupted stint as a governing party, the Singapore story may provide an example of how other countries can make a successful transition from what has been called “developmental authoritarianism” to a robust, sustainable multi-party system. But everyone in the game must cooperate to make this happen: an enlightened ruling party less obsessed about its own dominance than the survival of the system it helped to create; opposition parties peopled by pragmatic, capable idealists; and most of all, a demographically young yet emotionally mature electorate.

Whether the PAP should continue to rule without its efficiency being hamstrung by a “co-driver” – or whether the car can bear the weight and lower speed in exchange for the extra safety and insurance that a co-driver will bring – is what Singaporeans are essentially going to choose on Saturday. Despite the importance of issues such as housing, transport and cost of living, the drama and the significance of this general election is the prospect of Singapore moving towards a First World electorate – in an evolutionary process that may take another two or three elections over the next two decades.

[…]

Whatever happens, three myths have been debunked by this election. The first is that because the PAP has exhaustively searched the country high and low and its candidates are the best in the land, there is a dearth of talent outside the ruling party. Therefore, a robust multi-party political system is not sustainable and even dangerous because there simply are not enough capable men and women to make this work. In this election, the number of qualified opposition candidates has rendered this myth difficult to maintain. The opposition parties have fielded many candidates who are clearly not the disgruntled, self-interested and virulently anti-PAP “bicycle thieves” of the past. Some share the same backgrounds as the PAP’S “star” candidates: government scholarship holders and senior civil servants, blue-chip professionals from the establishment and university-educated professionals from the HDB heartland, all of whom have openly praised the PAP and seek the same kind of role as the elected presidency does on another front – to serve as a check on the government of the day.
[Interesting that the classmates and people from my cohort viewed most likely to be invited to tea sessions and enter politics on the government slate, remain incognito. Must be the age; at our age, they are still too preoccupied with climbing the civil service Superscale Grades or making rank in the various armed forces. Why enter politics now when as the top government scholars, you are fast-tracked in your civil service career and just a few years from making Director in some govt agency, leapfrogging over the other elite Administrative Officers in the PMO, or just about to chalk up enough tenure as a Colonel to make the coveted BG star…

On the other hand, its quite funny to see a former classmate who was the class clown and dour-faced funny-man, join in the opposition lineup and make incendiary speeches against his government, scholarship-giver and former employer.
Power to him.
]

[…]

The third myth is that young Singaporeans are generally apathetic and concerned only about their narrow interests. Although the huge buzz in online forums about the election may represent only a fraction of yopth at large, although the large turnout in rallies by young people may only be for their entertainment, although the many young PAP and opposition candidates may just be flashes in the pan – the myth of apathy that older Singaporeans may have held about Gen Y is clearly no longer viable. As the baby boomers pass into retirement, it is very encouraging to see young people coming out and making their voices heard. Unless we have a freak election with unexpected results, Singaporeans can be proud both of the ruling as well as opposition parties. And of themselves too as an electorate whose demands are increasingly shaping the responses of both players. Singapore may be moving deliberately yet irrevocably towards a First World electorate – in an evolutionary process that may take another two or three elections over the next two decades – but one that embraces common values so that the electorate, not the political parties, demand civility, intellectual rigour and competence of all their politicians, whatever their affiliation.

If all goes well, the winner in this watershed election may well be Singapore’s future.

49 days, months… wasting away…

Which is worse:
To be a bodiless soul stuck in between heaven and earth in a vacuous purgatory for 49 days to take care of unfinished business;
Or to be wholly alive but wasting away for years and years like a 行尸走肉 (walking dead) pining away for a departed loved one, deadened to the world and barely going through the motions of living and with your heart and mind imprisoned in a tiny cell far smaller than even the four walls closing in onto you…

Nothing Happened [49 Days – OST]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaAVE_pJUNQ

Nothing Happened

Unknowingly the tears fall silently
Afraid of wiping you away, dabbing at them countless times
Can I wipe you away? Can I forget you?
In the days without you, just remembering and the tears fall again
You who did not say a thing, you who were about to leave
No… Please…
Come back please, its alright
Come back please, its alright
This time/moment spent being distant from you is just a dream
Nothing happened
Nothing happened
If this night passes and you may awaken
To be with you again

Repeating endlessly with the heart
Repeating endlessly with the lips
Afraid of losing you, repeating countless times
Can I wipe you away? Can I forget you?
In the days without you, just remembering and the tears fall again
You who did not say a thing, you who were about to leave
No… Please…
Come back please, its alright
Come back please, its alright
This time/moment spent being distant from you is just a dream
Nothing happened
Nothing happened
If this night passes and you may awaken…

Come back please, its alright
Come back please, its alright
Loving you, it has always been you
Please, please
Nothing happened
Nothing happened
If this night passes and you may awaken
To be with you again

.
.
.

I Thought I Will Just Forget [49 Days – OST]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j63xdxeHjbk

I Thought I Will Just Forget

Choking back sobs, I cant speak a single word
I can only stay like this and stare blankly upon the sky, and let the tears fall
I want to forget, I must forget all of him
Once again I mumble to myself, telling myself, just give up

Because it hurts so much, because my heart is broken
A love like this, will never appear here with me
Let it be forgotten, really just let it be forgotten
But the more determined I try to be
The more your face appears in my heart
Is it really so tragic, if you have forgotten me
After a few days it should get better

Alone I cry and laugh myself to sleep
Then snatching up the phone again…
Like a fool, just like a fool
How many days has it been
Going crazy wanting to see you
Going crazy just wanting to forget you
So tired, I’m really so tired
My tears are blocking my vision
And yet your image appears

How many days has it been, difficult to find sleep
Even if I wipe away these memories of you, they return yet again
It will get better, after some more time it will be forgotten
My heart will thaw like the melting frost
Everything will be fine, even if I forget
After a few more days I will get better

Crying for a long while, laughing for a long while, I gradually fell asleep
Mumbling your name to myself
Like a fool, just like a fool
After so many days, why is it still the same
Going crazy wanting to see you
Going crazy just wanting to forget you
So tired, I’m really so tired
My tears are blocking my vision
And yet your image appears

I say I want to forget
But I think it will be hard to stop
Like a fool, just like a fool
I just cant forget
Yet I dont dare to let him return