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Saturday January 13th 2018

Singapore in 2017 – start of the end of a golden era?

As we all count down to the year end with the usual Christmas greetings and new year festivities, most would have agree with me that it has being a difficult year for the country as a whole. More significantly, many have also commented that we are finally showing the signs of a prosperous well-managed regime losing its shine and mantle.

We went through Oxley gate at the beginning of the year as the Prime Minister traded blow-by-blow FB account with his younger siblings. It became a daily show-down for the world for two whole weeks as the three royalties discarded all shame and revealed deep-seated hatred post-LKY with all it’s intracacies and dark revelations.

Not since Watergate has a particular country being so besieged by royal happenings seeped out of high places. To make matters worse, the Prime Minister used Parliament as his playground to launch the ownself-check-ownself offensive reiterating the Familee control the Lee’s have over Singapore.

Though things have simmered down to a uneasy truce now, no one will lay a bet that things will not resurface again with some hoping that they should do so nearer to the next GE in 2020 so that maximum damage can be inflicted to knock down some popular votes of the PAP.

While Oxley Gate has closed its temporary chapter with the ill-fated Parliamentary sitting, Singaporeans are soon faced with the damaging Reserved Presidential Election saga whereby Dr Tan Cheng Bock was single-handedly brought down by the government so that President-elect Halimah Yacob will ascend the throne without a fight.

More than a thousand die-hard Singaporeans thronged Hong Lim Park whereby Dr Tan later showed up to mingle with his supporters in a show of defiance against the unpopular government ruling to debar him from standing for election with the minority ruling.

The Reserved PE saga also shows that the government will go all out to want their way even making themselves look ridiculous when appointed President Wee Kim Wee was promoted to be the first President-elect in order to have the minority candidacy back so that Dr Tan will be ruled out.

Many netizens have also commented that the government won’t have to wayang now to show that at least they try to toe the democratic line abit – they simply bulldozed their way through with the 70% electorate mandate they received from GE 2016.

Barely a month or two after the disastrous Reserved PE, our train depot was flooded at Bishan and all hell broke loose when Singaporeans found out that the maintenance crew signed off their technical report without doing the actual work. Many are also worried that this is but a sure sign of a bigger calamity that has afflicted our small nation and that everything does not seem to work as efficient as it looks.

Heads were identified and rolled though the CEO Desmond Kwek strangely escaped punishment after helming SMRT for five disastrous years without really solving the massive transport problem of frequent break-down. Many commuters even joked that a bet laid on a possible train break-down the next day will surely be won!

Comparisons were made with other great metropolitan cities like Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo whereby train mishaps are infrequent though despite the frequent train mishaps Singapore still made it to the top ten for urban transport systems polled out of 100 cities.

Famed for being one of the best in almost every system we operate on – airport, shipping, port, housing among others, the failure of our transport system has humiliated us and our efficiency tag took a heavy knocking.

Many have blamed a sense of gross complacency on the current regime and compared it to the no-nonsense days of LKY whereby people like Desmond will long be gone let alone still earning his millions after five long useless years.

The axe was waged but mostly on the general ground staff and even one or two lietenants but the guy at the top tends to escape unscathed.

The inability to own up to our mistakes and seek for solutions other than blaming everything else but oneself could be our own self-seeking path to oblivion.

The LKY’s motto of disciplined efficiency looks set to be a thing of the past now as we grapple with the chronic transport issue, corruption at many ministries according to AGO annual black-list and cronyism which benefits a small group of trusted inner circle.

The inability to accept failure as part of our DNA is harming the country’s struggle to forge ahead as everyone has this dark fear of doing something wrong with all its adverse repercussions.

Moreover, our young has to look away from self-gratification of good wages and better jobs and get involved in the political rebuilding of our country. They must not look away from anything that is political and the government must encourage it for the betterment of our country.

Less than 0.01% of our young people belongs to a political party other than the incumbent and we must continue to engage the youth so that nation rebuilding does not belong to a few good men only. Politics is for everyone as long as it is done legitimately and the current stance of no-politics-for-me must be averted.

Many of our young adults associate politics with risk and trouble and rather shun away from getting involved. Without a politically active populace, we will likely leave any nation rebuilding work to a selected few who may not really know the real heartbeat of our country.

We also witness a year-end severe knock-back of human rights as activists routinely got arrested and the government now seeks for a legal mandate to storm into people’s house without a valid search warrant.

Many poor people we know lack the resources to come out of the poverty cycle and medical care continues to be a elusive item for many due to the harmful effect of co-payment. The lack of a minimum wage and social immobility are our country’s social bugbears for the longest time ever and there seems to be nothing pointing to it’s reversion.

In fact, the whole country needs a thorough revamp to rebuild and forge ahead but so far the current regime seems reluctant to change any of it’s past 52-year-old ideology of total control and limited human rights. Its like a full-growth nation still trap in it’s tight baby clothes and awaiting to be freed so that it can soar.

This year certainly ends off as one of our worse since independence and there is no easy solution as to what might lie ahead. Chronic unemployment, runaway food prices and severe wage gap will continue to plague the country in 2018 and there are no easy solutions.

But what is starkingly clear is that we have decline as a nation and I am sure many regional countries around us will be clapping their hands in glee as previously they have watch our remarkable progress in awe and envy – now they will watch our gradual decline in mock silence.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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2 Responses to “Singapore in 2017 – start of the end of a golden era?”

  1. Andrew Tung says:

    Thanks Gilbert for an accurate and sharp snapshot of the situation we are now in. It is natural to despair. Nevertheless even our own short history has shown that at a time when everything is bleak and discouraging God was preparing us for a better blessing. Over the years Singapore still has bright and caring citizens like you who will never wait to see the country sink like the Titanic. I pray that in a time like this God will save us from the disaster that we are heading.

  2. Profits After Profits says:

    Cry our Beloved Country ( once a Asian Little Dragons but now declining into a Little Drag-goon ).

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