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.


27 Responses

  1. You are on a roll!

  2. I get the impression that they are shutting off comments by now. Even the party whip hasn’t been lifted on the subject. Shouldn’t it have been a matter of conscience that the whip gets lifted up in the first place ? In a bid to demonstrate that there is perceived unity in the parliament, a great opportunity to solicit genuine feedback has been cast aside.

  3. Bravo!

  4. […] Unbranded BreadnButter’s FB: Political salary: It’s all a political wayang – Molitics: Lessons from Hsien Loong: How to be Right and Out of Sync – PIPALA TREE: Solid. – Yours Truly Singapore: Ministeria​l salary 2012 – life one degree north, […]

  5. Singapore is the only country in the world where ministers have to justify their pay to the people after taking a 36% pay cut.

    This is the great misunderstanding that SPH and the committee is creating. Listen to CSM, the pay cut is only 8%.

    Only 8%.

  6. lee hsien loong is right and u are wrong. On your point no. 5, it is true that the PM did not leave a way out for himself. This is because of his brave conviction and shows true leadership.

  7. It demonstrates that he must have complete control – over the appointment of the salary review committee, the pay cut recommendation, the voting in parliament and the rhetoric fed to the media and people. He does not trust the process nor the outcome if he is not in complete control of it.

  8. The title should be “How to be Right Out of Sync”

  9. Two words to describe your post. Awesome and powerful! Thks for opening our eyes bigger!

  10. This PAP Goverment reminds one of the snake-oil saleman of old peddling his bottle of elixir on the side-walk.

    My question is why is this kind of peddling done in Singapore and not found anywhere else. Is it the salemanship or the special content in the bottle? Or worse, a gullible customer base?

  11. I get a sense that a moment in history has come & gone.
    After the famous apology and elections, LHL had a window of opportunity to re-take the moral high ground for PAP.

    The moment is now passed.
    The leopard cannot or will not change its spot.

    And we are now on a date with destiny in GE 2016.

  12. Shall we call these the Hard Lessons????

  13. Well written, agreed totally !

  14. […] Molitics – Lessons from Hsien Loong […]

  15. No wonder the AVA is so keen to cull cats…hahah

    Jokes aside, nicely written article…

    Some people just don’t get it – Grace Fu, Lee or not

  16. Great Molly…!! and more Lectures please for the 60% who are maybe hard on hearing and slow in replying…..!!!

    Perhaps, those few old dogs left are having difficulties learning new tricks that so much so influence the New Dogs to copy proven old tricks of yesteryear …!!

    They have forgotten that the 40% are tired and had retired from seeing their Old Tricks !!!

    Our new horses are giving us better Treat NOT Trick that money isn’t about everything but serving the people is a privilege NOT sacrifice…!!!

    Cheers to 2016…..!!!

  17. Quote: “Singapore is the only country in the world where ministers have to justify their pay to the people after taking a 36% pay cut.”

    Mind = blown!

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