Monday, October 13, 2008

Singapore Politics: Lim Swee Say and his rather poor "jest".

Read this report on Channel News Asia:

Labour chief says Singapore's slide into recession unavoidable

The key unfortunate quote:

Giving some financial advice at the seminar, Mr Lim said: "Every month, when I receive my CPF statement, I feel so rich and the best part is, I know the CPF money won't run away. CPF will still be around for a long, long time to come... Not only is it earning good interest, my capital is protected."

This was reported on The Online Citizen and elsewhere.

What do I think of it?

One, it just *must* be a joke. If not, it was a horrendously insensitive statement, especially given how much government ministers earn in Singapore. If Mr. Lim was trying to show rapport with working class Singaporeans (about how the CPF is helping them preserve their savings and earning interest on top of that), this is *certainly not* the way to do it. At the same time, if this was meant to be a joke, it certainly was made in poor taste, again, given how much he earns relative to most Singaporeans.

Two, it is a hint Mr. Lim either does not really know what he is talking about OR he is treated very differently from most other Singaporeans and is seriously out-of-touch. One thing in his comment jumped right out at me. I get my CPF statements once every SIX months, not monthly. Reading the comments on other blogs, it would seem I am not the only one noting this fact. Perhaps he gaffed, meaning to either *not* say "monthly" but there have been no corrections, either by the media or by Mr. Lim. Nitpicking by me? Yes. However, it is the media's job to note such things, point them out and if the gaffe seems serious enough, question the politicians to give them a chance to clarify what they really mean. That is seriously lacking in Singapore media. The result is that government officials can end up saying nonsense in public and all people will do is simply nod their heads or pretend they did not hear it. Ultimately, if laziness gives way to actual incompetence, we will just let a poor government screw the nation up without challenge.


Kaffein said...

Exactly. I snickered truth be told. When I told my wife, first thing she asked, "Got monthly meh?"

We would have thought these million dollar salary ministers would be wiser and up to date. I mean earn your keeps, man.

Each time, they kinda failed me. From Ho Peng Kee's insensitive remarks to Low TK, Ng Eng Hen's remarks, Mah BT's boo-boo, WKS's msg on Mas Selamat, now (and many times) Lim SS.

Hey somethings not too right. Here in Australia, the news gets big when John Howard forgot his minister's name. And we have photos and videos of Kevin Rudd's ear digging in parliament when he was an opposition.

Yeah too much, no disrespect. But freedom of press gives people the truth. Including scandals and what have yous. No holds barred smearing the politician's name.

Not white wash. These MPs watch their steps and the people and media keep their toes in line.

It's a double edged weapon this media. But I think Sg is really lacking.


Chee Wai Lee said...

Hehehe. In the US though, politicians have found out that the electorate really does not care what kind of gaffes they make, even some of the serious ones. As a result, they continue to make gaffes (sometimes even deliberately), the media continues to report about them, the pundits continue to discuss them and the rest ... they just don't care.

In Singapore, I think our ruling party politicians do not bother, knowing full well the media would either ignore or report matter-of-factly any gaffes and that most Singaporeans would not even notice ... much less care about it.

Frankly, I do not know how many Singaporeans even care about what our politicians say that does not involve $$$.

I think one day, we should interview each politician in Singapore and ask them if they would seriously leave for the private sector because their pay was not pegged to top executive pay (but reasonably high nonetheless). I really do not believe there are no competent and well-meaning Singaporean who would gladly take up service in their place ...