The KPIs of Reality

THERE are global agencies that use known key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine whether a country has reached First World status or is still a developing country.

If a country is First World, it is logical to conclude that it must also have a First World government, otherwise how could it have transformed into a First World country? It is also logical to conclude that having a First World government also means there is a First World Parliament.

Based on these global agencies, Singapore has already reached the status of a First World country. So it is logical to conclude that we have a First World government and, similarly, a First World Parliament.

Logical? What sort of warped logic is this? If there are, as you say, KPIs to determine whether a country has reached First World status or not, they are economic KPIs. It cannot possibly be logical to conclude that a country that is rated as First World economically also has a First World government unless you assume, quite baselessly, that all a government does is to develop a country economically and that the quality of a country’s government is the sole factor determining its economic success. But it is clear that a country that is “First World” economically may not have a “First World” government. What a First World government refers to is yet to be defined. What a First World parliament refers to is also yet to be defined.

Does Singapore have a First World government with the PAP as the ruling party? If you are only looking at KPIs (perhaps the KPIs the ruling party has set for itself), yes. But we have to remind ourselves that meeting the indictors of a particular quality is not always the same as possessing that particular quality. Indicators may or may not be reliable, and no matter how reliable they are, they cannot fully define what the quality is.

But what else do we have other than KPIs? Are we not bereft of a standard of measure without KPIs? And we know we must measure. Perhaps we need to consider the deficiencies of the set of KPIs themselves—that which is not included in the given KPIs and the inadequacies of what is given. Using a non-political example, the given KPI for youth may be skin that is firm and does not sag. But it does not mean that a post-face lift patient whose face looks unnaturally taut has youth. Perhaps the KPI we have is not enough. Perhaps the KPI itself fails, quite inevitably, to define the undefinable.

It is possible that the government’s KPIs are excessively focussed on economic growth and neglect human rights. Even the focus on economic growth is worth examining. It may, for instance, be concerned only with numbers that can be attained in multiple ways and the means by which the number is attained might be detrimental to the people it is supposed to benefit.

The KPI obsession is perhaps itself a key indicator (or shall I say proof?) that a society that has perversely corporatized itself at the expense of common sense, a society that is bent on rationalizing performance of all sorts in order to attain the recognition of performance without performing, a society that embraces simulacra to the extent that it is consumed by simulacra.

*****

A copy of the original letter (that perhaps has been edited from the original original):

Spell out the KPIs of a First World Parliament


THERE are global agencies that use known key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine whether a country has reached First World status or is still a developing country.

If a country is First World, it is logical to conclude that it must also have a First World government, otherwise how could it have transformed into a First World country? It is also logical to conclude that having a First World government also means there is a First World Parliament.

Based on these global agencies, Singapore has already reached the status of a First World country. So it is logical to conclude that we have a First World government and, similarly, a First World Parliament.

Singapore’s model of government and Parliament is unique, just like the governments and Parliaments of other First World countries. Each government and Parliament is unique to the particular needs of the country, its history and its people.

If the Workers’ Party wants to move Singapore towards a First World Parliament, it should spell out the KPIs of such a Parliament. Without known KPIs, nobody would know whether the target of having such a Parliament has been achieved.

As Singapore is part of the global economy, it is important that the KPIs defined by WP be recognised globally.

Desmond Ng

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3 Responses

  1. […] Towards a first world parliament – New Asia Republic: Out of Third World but Lost in Transition – TOC: Single-party govt made up of elites and scholars not good for S’pore – Molitics: The KPIs of Reality […]

  2. From what I understand, Mr Desmond Ng has made a logical fallacy, right from the start. The logical fallacy goes like this:

    If p, then q
    q, therefore p

    This is known as affirming the consequent. An example would be: “If Smith testifies against Jones in court, Jones will be found guilty. Jones was found guilty. Therefore, Smith must have testified against him.” {Jones could have been found guilty without Smith’s testimony.} – example from philosophicalsociety.com.

    In this case, Mr Ng’s saying:

    If Singapore has a First World government, we will reach the status of First World country.
    We have reached the status of a First World Country, therefore we have a First World Parliament.

    Mr Ng used the word, “logical” and misled the public in his letter. If we go by strict definitions, there is no logic in his argument at all. Let alone this obsession with KPIs.

    • I think it’s more bizarre than what you have pointed out. His “logic” goes:

      Since p implies q,
      so with q, there is m

      p = first world country; q = first world government; m = first world parliament

      Of course “p implies q” isn’t valid to begin with, not to mention “with q, there is m”…

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