Molly’s Pocket Political Dictionary (Work in Progress)

We were reminded that Singapore is the most unique place on earth when it was explained to us why Singapore’s ministers need to have the world’s most unique pay structure. It is necessary, then, to have a unique dictionary. Contributions are welcomed.

Assimilation: the process of making someone (esp a new immigrant) likable to the PAP

Change: an empty promise made as a means to maintain the status quo

Citizen: 1. derogatory. a person who is legally bound to state exploitation

2.  cheap local labor

Constitution: a document that is amended regularly to protect the dominant party’s hegemony

Cost of living: a trigger of clinical depression for those who live below minimum wage (see minimum wage)

Debate: 1. a journey towards a predetermined conclusion sponsored by taxpayers’ money; a farce

2. the act of causing one’s opponents intense frustration with self-righteously delivered rhetorical fallacies

Democracy: a synonym for authoritarianism except when it is paired with the adjective, “Western”

Election: the process whereby the PAP claims to have a mandate; an unnecessary part of the democratic process that exists as an unfashionable alternative to walkovers

Free speech: a prerogative of the PAP

GDP: Growth Determines Pay. The principle of pegging political leaders’ salaries to economic growth even if it benefits only a small minority

Gerrymandering: a legitimate political process whereby political constituencies are reshaped or obliterated.

LKY: 1. a mythical founding father

2. a floundering father

Meritocracy: a common justification for discriminating against those who are socially immobile

Minimum wage: A wage estimated to be around $1, 000, 000 per year as of 2012; the wage below which the future of one’s children are sacrificed.

Note: only ministers are eligible for minimum wage.

News: propaganda

PAP: 1. a) Pinky and Papa, b) Party of Authoritarian Pricks, c) Power Always Perpetuated, d) People After Pay, e) Public Anal Probe, f) Pompous Asses Pwned

2. A joke which everyone finds funny but hates

Parliament: 1. a place that should be as homogeneous as possible

2. a place where political stampedes for the purpose of crushing opposition politicians take place

Peach Garden: ivory tower

Reasoning: the process of parroting nonsense generated by the PAP

Retirement age: the age at which one dies

Singapore: the work of art plagiarized by George Orwell when he wrote Animal Farm

Swiss standard of living: literary. a broken dream

Talent: 1. a rare, highly paid person

2. a foreigner

Usage: the commonly used term “foreign talent” is tautological.

Unlawful assembly: any one person (or more) who has the intent to do something the PAP does not like

Vampire: archaic. a minister

Vote: a currency periodically squandered by the majority

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Kuan Yew Tells Honest Truths About Singapore

Singaporeans should be heartened that Dear Kuan Yew has returned from his political mausoleum to share with us more hard truths about Singapore. Needless to say, Kuan Yew believes in “competitive” salaries for ministers and employs his eight-decade old strategy of exaggerated misinterpretation to deal with his detractors. (I presume it is eight-decade old since the strategy must have come from someone with the mind of a child.) Where Kuan Yew is concerned, requesting for a cup of tea to quench your thirst is no different from demanding from him a tea plantation to satisfy your avarice. If you tell him that ministers should not be paid ridiculously high salaries, you can expect him to retort that we must not pay ministers ludicrously low salaries. The sense of anticipation, then, comes from what new ingenious comments he has to make.

Kuan Yew certainly does not disappoint. Even as he resorts to the exaggerated-misinterpretation strategy (perhaps it is a matter of bad karma that the PAP guys are so often misinterpreted these days), he does so with such breathtaking dexterity that your eyes will forget to close till the hard truths have sunk into your resistant minds. No doubt, he still alludes to his favorite third-world-to-first grand narrative, but he has new truths to share as always. From Kuan Yew, we learn the shocking truth that most people (possibly more than 99%) in Singapore have children whose futures are doomed. I must admit that my contempt for him beat an indignant retreat in the face of his well-armed honesty, which has come out in full force.

Kuan Yew explains with what I can only imagine to be a straight face that Singapore’s progress did not come about by “head-hunting ministers willing to sacrifice their children’s future when undertaking a public service duty.” In Kuan Yew’s world, if someone becomes a minister with a salary that is uncompetitive, his children are doomed. From what we have been hearing of late, we can assume that a $500k annual salary is not competitive by the standards of the PAP, so it is safe to say that with a $500k salary, a minister would have to suffer a drastic change in the standard of living and sacrifice his children’s future. Given that the cost of living is not any higher for a minister than for anyone else in the country, it follows that anyone earning $500k or less per year does not earn enough to secure his children’s future. This is entirely plausible—people in Singapore have 500 children and a $500k annual salary leaves each member of the nuclear family with less than $1,000 per annum.

What tough lives Singaporeans earning uncompetitive salaries lead. This is the sort of first world that Kuan Yew has created for us. Is this what we call a confession?

What the potential plight of ministers tells us about Singaporeans aside, we must maintain Singapore as it is (i.e. as described above) by continuing to take a “pragmatic course that does not require people of calibre to give up too much for the public good.” Certainly, other people can be expected to give up more, perhaps even their lives as in the case of some unfortunate NSmen, because they are not people of calibre. If we do not maintain Singapore as it is, we will become part of the Third World again. And this means that Singaporeans could be flocking to a country that is a virtual clone of Singapore to be embraced as foreign talents there. This is a frightening situation that we do not want to find ourselves in, so let us continue to allow PAP ministers to draw million-dollar salaries while the rest of us sacrifice our children’s future. Sorry kids, Singapore is more important. Our ministers will continue to work for the greater good in the form of stagnant costs of living and ever-escalating salaries.

Please accept my further apologies if any words have been misplaced. Kuan Yew’s words of wisdom are so intoxicating that I am losing the last remnants of lucidity.

If Singaporeans are still unhappy about how some people can pay themselves competitive salaries and be self-righteous about it, they must be reminded that PAP ministers “put their careers at risk and undergo an uncertain and unpredictable election process.” We know how uncertain walkovers are. One day you are preparing for an intense election campaign, the next day you realize that you have no political competition. One day you are happily eating XO carrot cake, the next day you have to ask your lawyer to sue someone for defamation. We cannot underestimate the adverse ill-effects of such unpredictability.

Perhaps Singapore should pay opposition politicians millions of dollars too. They put themselves at risk and often undergo predictable elections and uncertain law suits.

Fine, if you are still unwilling to pay ministers competitive salaries, then you should stop making elections uncertain. If an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans support opposition parties, the next election will no longer be uncertain and you can avoid paying competitive salaries if you are that miserly. See, Kuan Yew is so damned honest he has provided you with a solution to all this nonsense about ministerial salaries. And he’s only drawing an MP allowance and a pension now.

Lessons from Hsien Loong: How to be Right and Out of Sync

Studies have shown that at least 60% of Singaporeans love being taught lessons, so Molly will share a lesson with everyone today.

Handout: News article

Lecture Notes:

1. Grace Fu will have a great future in politics as long as Lee Hsien Loong remains in power. He thinks she is “completely right” about how lower salaries (which must be distinguished from low salaries) will make it difficult for talents to join politics, and is very much impressed by her honesty. Certainly, even Fu does not seem to think so highly of herself. She told us that she had been misunderstood, but, as far as I can remember, she has never asserted that her opinion is an immutable truth.

2. Lee Hsien Loong has no originality in his arguments for the high salaries he and his colleagues are drawing and will continue to draw. To be fair, this is totally fine for there are only so many innovative justifications one could generate for so ridiculous a policy. Nevertheless, he would have fared better simply by keeping his mouth shut. Or he could have waited for his father to weigh in on the issue and absorb some of the vitriolic retorts that netizens are probably already preparing.

3. Despite his admiration for Grace Fu, Lee Hsien Loong is not very sensitive to his colleague. Just as she is heaving a sigh of relief thanks to a godsend $10 plate of carrot cake, her colleague reminds everyone of the facebook post which got her so much flake. The prospects of working with such insensitive colleagues are perhaps the factor causing talents to be reluctant to join politics.

4. Lee Hsien Loong does not seem to realize that people have already moved on from Grace Fu to Chan Chun Sing, who saying the same thing. He need not have referred to Grace Fu to rehash her argument. Even though he was speaking in her defense, it seems rather naïve of him to believe that those who have slammed Grace Fu are going to be convinced just because he repeats her point and claimd that she is “completely right.” Does he really think that he has so much charisma and authority? Even if so, he could well have spoken up for Chan Chun Sing instead, just to help out a clueless new colleague.

5. Lee Hsien Loong does not know how to leave a way out for himself. He uses two absolute words consecutively: completely right. Grace Fu is not merely correct. She is right in the eyes of the world’s most highly paid (and hence most talented, as the logic goes) political leader. This leaves no room for debate. And not only is Grace Fu right, she is completely so. Perhaps Grace Fu has become a goddess in his eyes. With such unequivocal phrasing, one wonders how Lee could ever tell us that people have misunderstood or misconstrued his words.

6. Instead of leading his party out of a needless political quagmire, Lee is sinking the team deeper. In what is by far the most amusing political event since Singapore’s independence, the PAP taking a significant pay cut and yet defending itself as if it has just implemented a hefty pay rise. Singapore is the only country in the world where ministers have to justify their pay to the people after taking a 36% pay cut. The PAP should use this as a chance to boast about its accountability.

When the PAP decided that ministerial salaries must increase after the 2006 General Election, it embarked on a series of vehement, if often logically flawed, justifications. Now that it has decided to reduce ministerial salaries after the 2011 General Election, it is still using the same arguments. And who was the one who initiated the salary review?

7. Lee has perhaps forgotten his pre-election apology. He had said, “If we didn’t get it right, I’m sorry. But we will try better the next time.” If Grace Fu is already completely right, it is safe to assume that Lee is not going to try better. Those who voted for him in 2011 should realize that the PAP’s problem is not its inability to get things right. The PAP’s problem is its inability to see what it has not got right, which explains Lee’s use of s conditional sentence in his apology. He was not even sure if he got it right or not. He may have kept his promise to try better, but this is not going to stop him from failing worse.

8. It has become clearer than ever that Singapore has returned to the pre-apology days. (That was actually an exceedingly kind statement. I believe it is completely right to say that Singapore has not moved away from the pre-apology days at all, and it does not make sense to speak of a return.) Only worse off. The PAP thinks it knows what is right. Criticisms are dismissed as noise or baseless flaming. It is worse now, however, because we have to put up with pretenses. The salary review was one supposed to be a major symbol of the PAP’s willingness to change. But if we even begin to question the way the PAP has done it, the PAP leopard snarls again. If we have to deal with a leopard anyway, the leopard that does not camouflage its spots is preferable.

9. If Lee Hsien Loong attempts another contrite apology just before the 2016 General Election, ask him if he intends to get things right the Grace Fu way. It would be more graceful, though, for him to do it the Saw Phaik Hwa way.

10. Molly has helped Lee pen a completely-right resignation message for Singapore come 2016:

When I made the decision to leave politics in 2016, the need for change was not a key factor. The loss of a million-dollar salary, public curiosity about myself and my wife, and the prospects of earning even more money elsewhere were. The people’s increasing preference for cheaper, better, and faster chwee kuey over XOtic chye tow kuey was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I would only draw a pension. So it is with my wife’s departure from Temasek. If the number of Lees in the Parliament is reduced further in the future, it will make it harder for anyone to call Singapore a political dynasty.

Exam: 2016

Format: Ballot (Tip: Please don’t refer to ten-year series. The answers are wrong.)

Duration: 10 seconds per candidate

Passing criteria: At least 55% of Singaporeans must vote for opposition parties.

Teo Chee Hean: To compare, or not to compare?

After the tilted-balance reasoning put forth by Grace Fu and Chan Chun Sing, DPM Teo Chee Hean now tells us not to compare the salaries of Singapore’s ministers to those of politicians elsewhere in the world. Using the most convoluted yet powerful rhetorical maneuver known to humankind, Teo tells us not to compare Singapore’s ministers to politicians elsewhere—by making the very comparison we are supposed to avoid. Power is the ability to get away with breaking the rules you set.

While we have already understood from Chan that politicians elsewhere in the world are not as well paid because those $1.50 chye tow kueys are not as capable, Teo now enlightens us on how politicians in the rest of the world are not even as transparent as the PAP because only the PAP government adopts a “clean wage” policy. In other words, not only are all other governments less competent than the PAP government, they are also less clean and transparent. This sounds like an open invitation to declare war, so Singaporeans must thank God if its ministers are not taken seriously by their international counterparts.

Gone are the days when the PAP could simply tell us to stop comparing because the American President could earn lots of money after his one or two terms by writing books and giving talks. After all, that is just the American President and everyone knows that PAP ministers’ salaries are higher than any political office holder’s in the world. Everyone also knows that PAP ministers could always write books too. On top of that, they could even become Singapore’s President and continue earning impressive salaries. After that, they could write more books, get a post-retirement job in the Institute of Policy Studies and give talks if they so wish. The PAP must have gone through million-dollar brainstorming sessions to come up with the latest rhetoric. It’s amazing that the “clean wage” policy has always been in place and our humble, low-profile ministers have never cared to talk about it all these years when people have been maligning them of rewarding themselves with ridiculously high salaries.

The logic now goes that Singapore has a clean wage policy and Singaporeans know exactly what they earn; in contrast, politicians overseas have hidden perks and benefits that people, presumably, do not know about. How interesting! If these perks are hidden elsewhere in the world, how does Teo know about them? Perhaps Julian Assange sent him some secrets.

Singapore’s clean wage policy is so credible that people do not even bother to find out about non-hidden stuff like make-up pay for ministers. This has got to be proof that Singapore has a system that the rest of the world should follow. There is no easier path leading to world peace than politics made undemocratic and lucrative. Teo’s painstaking efforts in explaining Singapore’s system to us, however, is likely to fall on the deaf ears of the vicious Internet. I can anticipate deranged netizens asking him if Singapore’s ministers still earn more after taking into consideration all the secret benefits in other countries and the pensions, make-up pay, and bonuses in Singapore. Additionally, I’m sure people are going to propose that the PAP can draw a lower salary and get similar perks and benefits without compromising transparency. People fail to realize that transparency justifies any salary. Even if each minister were to draw a salary of $50 million per year and the clean wage system is adopted, the salary has got to be justified.

Of course, Teo is not insensitive to the potential protests that could arise from his reasoning. He tells us also that we should not benchmark our ministers’ salaries to those of political leaders elsewhere. The reasoning, once again, is impeccable. Because Singapore is very different from the rest of the world, we cannot expect Singapore’s ministers to draw the same sort of salaries as their counterparts in the rest of the world. This totally explains why Obama’s salary does not have to be pegged to Bill Gates’ because of the American situation, but our ministers have to have their salaries pegged to the top earners’ in Singapore. What a gloriously repackaged version of the old “Singapore is unique” reasoning!

Yes, when all else fails, tell people that Singapore is different. Because Singapore is unique, we cannot have democracy or rights. Because Singapore is unique, we need more foreign talents than the island can hold, regardless of whether they are talented or not. Because Singapore is unique, we need to conscript all males and turn them into monkeys by paying them peanuts. Because Singapore is unique, the PAP must rule forever (or else . . .).

A move originally meant to win over the people who are disgruntled about ministers’ salaries becomes the seed of greater discontent because this is Singapore.

In Appreciation of Chan Chun Sing

Singaporeans have Chan Chun Sing, who courageously does a Grace Fu for our benefit, to thank for comments that reveal more about Singapore politics than any other politician has of late.

Firstly, he tells us about what he thinks of his PAP colleagues: “I don’t think anyone of them comes here for the money. They come here to provide a better life for the next generation… One of the reasons why I stepped forward was because I know I’m [sic] joining a team of people that are not here [sic] for the money.”

Maybe one ought to retort in a language which Chan would understand: You think, you don’t think, who confirm?

The PAP’s purported desire to “provide a better life for the next generation” perhaps explains why the party always seems to neglect the current generation. (It pays to remember that there’s always a current generation.)

While one could actually put up with the paternalism involved in the desire to “provide” a better life for people if it is actually done, I wonder how Chan’s colleagues are going to do it. Is it by paying for my children’s education out of his reduced-but-incredibly-high salary?

Chan also tells us: “Money should not be the one (factor) to attract them in [sic]. On the other hand, money should also not be the bugbear to deter them.”

In Fulish words: if the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for anyone considering political office.

Grace Fu would have the right to sue Chan for copyright infringement if not for the fact that she was not exactly original either.

Chan also tries to condescend to the level of peasantry by making a food analogy involving hawker food. Unfortunately his fall to the ground was broken by some heavenly tree branch as he compared hawker center carrot cake to Peach Garden carrot cake.

“You go to Peach Garden, you eat the S$10 XO Sauce chye tow kuay (fried carrot cake), you can be quite happy right? Because you are satisfied with the service and so on. On the other hand, you can go to a hawker centre, even if they charge you S$1.50, you might not want to eat it if the quality is not good.”

Hah? Simi Peach Garden? Boh tia guey leh.

Pardon my inability to evaluate the validity of the comparison. I feel sad that Peach Garden now shares the same fate as Kate Spade, but I have never been to Peach Garden or tasted its supremely delicious carrot cake. Neither can I remember the last time I actually paid $1.50 for carrot cake at any hawker center. Perhaps Chan gets special discounts? When Chan goes to an expensive dining place, it’s not something I can afford. When he goes to a cheap one, it’s not something I can find. This conclusively repudiates any claim that Singapore is a tiny island. How small could it be when it could fit at least two very different worlds, namely mine and Chan’s.

Molly believes that Chan will be glad that at least she is willing to acknowledge her inability to understand his allusions. Many merciless netizens are criticizing him instead. This is really unforgivable. Surely even the dumbest person in Singapore should know by now that he has got to be misquoted, misunderstood, and/or misconstrued. (Synonyms welcomed.)

Instead of being agitated by Chan, we ought to appreciate the Great Truths his words of wisdom contain.

List of Great Truths which we can glean from Chan’s comments:

1. The PAP gahmen is the best on Earth and Mars—and some say Jupiter.

2. The PAP costs so much because of its quality.

3. The salary and quality of a politician are directly proportionate.

Based on the third Great Truth, the world finds itself having to cope with some hard truths.

Premise 1: Those who do not cost as much are not as good.

Premise 2: PAP ministers are the most highly paid in the world.

Shocking Conclusion: No other government in the world is as good as that formed by the PAP.

No wonder the world is so screwed up. But this is a world crisis that has a simple solution. As long as a government decides that its ministers should be as well paid as Singapore’s ministers, it would mean that it is just as good as the PAP. All it takes is some political will and lots of docile citizens. The only foreseeable problem, surely, is that no other government in the world dares to pay itself as much because they know they pale in comparison to the top talents in the world (i.e. the PAP) who make brilliant analogies and implement ingenious policies that worsen the people’s quality of life with each passing day.

Based on the chye tow kuey theory, we could also do some interesting Math.

The ratio of Lee Hsien Loong’s (post reduction) pay: Barack Obama’s is 4: 1

If Lee is $10.50 chye tow kuey, Obama is $2.625 carrot cake.

Obama,

I think I should sell prata instead, Molly.

(Later I will go downstairs and tell the chye tow kuey uncle downstairs that he is more capable than Obama because his chye tow kuey costs $3 per plate. He should really go into politics. At least he is friendly and never talks down to me. Neither does he ever claim that he sells the best chye tow kuey in Singapore.)

The ratio of Lee’s pay: David Cameron’s is 8: 1.

Cameron is a pathetic $1.3125 chye tow kuey. Which makes him worse than the $1.50 one Chan was talking about.

I suddenly see the rationale behind Singapore’s massive defense budget. All it takes is crap-spewer to offend the rest of the world. Using the chye tow kuey theory though, I’m afraid our conscripted soldiers will not match up to those from the rest of the world—they are not even paid a salary and this can only mean that they are amongst the worst soldiers in the world.

I must emphasize, despite all the logic and Math above, that the PAP team did not join politics because of the high pay. (We can only say that they might leave politics or refrain from joining it if the pay is not high enough.) Thanks to Chan Chun Sing, we now can be certain that, over the years, we have wasted millions and millions of dollars on ministers’ salaries and pensions to attract top talent. Since our PAP politicians did not join politics because of the pay, they must have been lying to us when they told us that top money is needed to attract top talent. Or, if they were not lying, it must be the case that they are not top talents, which makes their original justification . . .

Thanks Chan Chun Sing! The nonsensical façade of your comments belie the insights they offer!

Not to worry though. Come 2016, 60% Singaporeans will still buy a plate of $10.50 chye tow kuey that had already expired in the 1980s, leaving the other 40% with severe food poisoning.*

*Statistics for illustrative purposes only.

Belated Fuisms

I know Fuisms are so last-week, but Molly’s imaginary friends just sent her a few contributions. They are, admittedly, a little slow.

When I made the decision to review ministers’ salaries in 2011, decency was not a key factor. Loss of votes, public scrutiny on myself and my colleagues and the potential loss of power were. The need create a façade of change was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer any change in the standard of living even though I would experience a drop in income. So it is even if I were to take another 50% pay cut. If the balance is tilted further in the future, I would simply not let my children join politics. ~ lhl

*

When I made the decision to step down as a minister in 2011, making way for younger ministers was not a key factor. Loss of one-party dominance, public discontent, and other hard truths were. The impact on my son’s career was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my son would be able avoid a drastic drop in vote share even though I would lose my position (without losing much power). So it is with Goh’s departure from the Cabinet. If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for dead statesmen to return from the grave to resume power. ~ lky

*

When I made the decision to join Facebook, communication was not a key factor. Loss of privacy, public scrutiny on myself and loss of personal time were. The need to earn political capital by condescending to make friends with the electorate was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my income would not suffer a drastic drop even though I had to put up with pesky netizens. So it was until the recent pay cut. 😦 If the balance is tilted further in the future, I would regret wasting my time on social media and politics. ~ Fuism Founder

Meme: Fuism

When I made the decision to vote for the opposition in 2011, ministerial salaries was not a key factor. The PAP’s authoritarian bully tactics, its scrutiny of citizens’ private lives, and its loss of moral integrity were. The PAP’s foreign talent fetish was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that Singapore would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though the PAP would have me think otherwise. So it is with the Presidential Election. If the balance is tilted further in the opposition’s favour, it will make it harder for the PAP to attract freeloading walkover-ministers whose standard of living cannot be sustained by a meagre million-dollar salary.

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