Poor Examples for Pro-Establishment

In her article, "High growth brings high risks, for nations too", ST political Editor Chua Lee Hoong picks a quote from Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, cautioning that Singapore can be ruined in five years, if the opposition is voted in in a freak election result; compares the bizarre collapse of Lehman Brothers and the bankruptcy of Iceland, supposedly to make a point that established leadership (supposedly that of the PAP) is needed to prevent Singapore from collapsing. If that was indeed Lee Hoong's intent than she picked poor examples to indicate that established leadership is indeed necessary to prevent the collapse and/or the bankruptcy of our nation.

The Chief Executive of Lehman Brothers, Richard S. Fuld Jr, is an established leader. He has been with Lehman Brothers for 42 years, has never worked anywhere alse and he himself labels himself a "Lehman Lifer". So why could not this veteran prevent Lehman from falling? He himself does not know the answers. Mr. Fuld says, "I wake up every single night wondering what I could have done differently?" The fact is Mr. Fuld made decisions to the best of his ability at that time, given the information he had.

And under whose watch did Iceland go bankrupt? It was under the leadership of the established and biggest political party in Iceland, the Independence Party! For those who did not know, the Independence Party was formed in 1929 and since then, all the Chairman of the the chairmen of the party have held the office of the Prime Minister of Iceland. What caused the collapse of Iceland? It can be argued that besides the international upheaval, it was also the pursuit of at least 17 years of neoliberal economic policies.

What are neoliberal economic policies? Neoliberal economics is a mode of global market capitalism based upon free trade; essentially, the fewer hindrances (e.g., protectionism of domestic labor or commodities), the closer an economy can be said to be enshrining neo-liberal values. It is a version of capitalism that is relatively pure and uncompromised by communitarian or welfare demands. Politically, neo-liberalism refers to the project of embedding market values and structures not just within economic, but also within social and political life; its objective is a reshaping of power relations. By this definition, the Singapore government (like the Icelandic government of at least the past 17 years), has surely not only adopted neoliberal economics, but has made these ideologies the cornerstone of economic policies in Singapore.

So, using the examples cited by Lee Hoong, it is the established leadership of the present Singapore government, who has adopted unrestrained neoliberal policies, who may be the greatest threat for Singapore going "belly-up".

So what are the safeguards against the collapse of Singapore as a nation? While being influenced by, and meeting the needs of, the finance community, we should stop pursuing an ideology of neoliberal "market fundamentalism” and pay attention to real human needs. The definition of progress and success cannot be measured in material terms alone; there are other factors which must be considered such as environmental issues and perspectives of emotional richness or social well being.


Donaldson Tan said…
Your words echo my view too. Ms Chua Lee Hoong really has no strong case that competent leadership with years of experience will not lead to catastrophic failure.