Our ministers say the darndest things

Singapore Democrats

Our leaders can say the darnedest things and they often do. In just the last few days, some gems have fallen from the mouths of our mighty and ministerial.

If they had been in a democratic society, they would have been given a good political spanking by the public. But, of course, this is Singapore – land of low falutin ideas where people are seen (working, of course) and not heard.

And the gaffes keep on coming

Let’s begin with Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Remember that infamous remark about Johor Baru filled with muggers or the letter from the IBA praising Singapore that IBA never wrote? Well now it seems that Mr Lee has personally convinced Exxon-Mobil to invest in Singapore. Or did he?

Today reported on 14 Aug 09 that the Minister Mentor “recounted how the board members of ExxonMobil, who had been sceptical of a $4.5 billion investment in Jurong Island, flew here for a visit. After meeting with Mr Lee and the Prime Minister, they gave their go-ahead.”

But the newspaper reported a few days later that “…ExxonMobil has clarified that the company’s decision to invest in a second petrochemical complex on Jurong Island was made in August 2007, before the board’s visit to Singapore in March this year.” (emphasis added; see also Temasek Review’s report).

You need to know but we won’t tell you

After blowing $40 billion and then appointing Mr Charles Goodyear to replace Ms Ho Ching as CEO only to drop him four months later, Temasek Holdings continues to be coy about revealing the reasons for the change of heart over Chip.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was asked about the Goodyear debacle. After the on-again, off-again CEO change, one would think that the Minister would be more forthcoming with information.

Reality check: “This is the PAP Government. We don’t have to tell the public diddly squat.”

“People do want to know,” Mr Shanmugaratnam admitted initially. “There’s curiosity. It is a matter of public interest.”

Then came the blow-off: “But that is not sufficient reason to disclose information.”

Take that, you public! Just because you elected them you think you can just suka suka hold them accountable?

We should be mad as hell. But the PAP says it’s wrong to be confrontational. So we just go about our daily lives and pretend nothing happened.

Don’t you know? It’s in the public domain

Another Minister, this time the Foreign one, was recently asked by Dr Chee Soon Juan what his salary was. Mr George Yeo insisted that the salaries were in the “public domain”. Then he said that there was a component (which made up almost half of a minister’s salary) which was decided upon by the Prime Minister. That was secret.

The resplendent offices they walk into, the plush carpets they stride on, and the air-conditioning they cool themselves in are all paid by Singaporeans. Their salaries, the highest in the world, come from us too.

So how about being transparent and telling us, the people, how much you pay yourselves, Your Excellencies?

“Which part of ‘Bugger off!’ did you not understand?”

As the sign at the airport says: Welcome to Singapore!

Boy, was that funny!

Noor Mohammad was so poor that he had to live in a makeshift tent at the beach. He was so poor that he seldom ate and was in a constant state of hunger.

So what does the Government do? It prosecuted him because he didn’t have a permit to camp out.

Then when he was brought before District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan, he could not produce his Identity Card or passport. He had lost them. Not too hard to figure out why; the poor man was homeless and unemployed!

But the Judge told the chap: “I suggest you use a bicycle chain to tie yourself to a tree or you may lose yourself as well.” According to the Straits Times, that was Mr Shaiffudin’s attempt at a joke.

He then fined the destitute $800. Of course, Mr Noor couldn’t come up with $800 (most destitutes can’t). He was jailed four days.

Read alsoPolitical Hors D’oeuvre

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