Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Greek tragedy: Security implications of GE 2016's change in management

Greeks will cast their votes tomorrow for a new government in a legislative election that has captured world attention.

Singaporeans will get their chance to do so come 2016 when a General Election (GE) is held to pick elected representatives for the Lion City's 13th Parliament.

If Internet chatter is to be believed, GE 2016 will be a watershed moment in Singapore's electoral history. Netizens have seeded theories that the upcoming GE will be the one where political giants are unrooted with fresh blood brought into Parliament House to give an alternative voice to Singaporeans.

As your vote is secret, it's anybody's guess what voting patterns will look like in 2016. Supporters of the Men in White (MIW) point to decades of peace, progress and prosperity as assurances that Singaporeans will continue to vote the party into power. Those in other camps cheer the trend analysis for GE 2011 and are buoyed by prospects of a stronger vote share at the next GE.

Role of the SAF and Home Team post GE 2016
Whichever theory holds true, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Home Team agencies (police, civil defence, prisons, anti narcotics and immigration authorities) will have to obey the political party voted into power. The mission of protecting Singapore's vital interests will have to continue - people can vote in whichever politician they fancy but can never vote out or wish away security threats.

The party voted into power come 2016 will find itself in charge of a modernised Third Generation SAF that is powerfully armed, operationally ready and continues to evolve to update itself against emerging threats. Upkeep of such military power is expensive. The budget for the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) commands the biggest slice of the Singapore Budget and represents about a third of government spending. This is a cash cow newbie politicians may be tempted to slaughter in an effort to redirect funds to appease voters.

The security implications of a status quo are well known as the MIW has led Singapore since its expulsion from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965. The impact on Singapore's security scene of a new party voted into power will be the topic du jour as we should think through what this means for the SAF and Home Team and, most important of all, for Singaporeans who brought this change unto themselves. This is the freak election result theory that the MIW has long warned us about. Is this merely scare mongering or is there more to it that is beyond the obvious?

GE 2016: Freak election result
The last vote has been counted and results of GE 2016 are shared in realtime in cyberspace and via the mainstream media. The reality for Singaporeans is slowly beginning to sink in: The MIW have been voted out.

Newspapers from the mainstream media scramble to meet print deadlines - MIW or no MIW, the printer will not wait for you. Newsrooms go for a straight news story by giving readers the bare facts and results of the polls in all constituencies. The analysis can come later. In any case, there is no way or time for journalists to sugarcoat the GE 2016 result.

Blogs go into overdrive cheering the landmark result. News discussion portals see a spike in comments from armchair political analysts. Some websites crash, swamped by the amount of traffic from Singaporeans local and abroad hungry for news.

Lights burn bright in many households with S xxxx CD-numberplate cars. Among the political-watchers are embassy and high commission staff who burn the midnight oil churning out diplomatic cables that are wired securely to the world's political capitals. Dossiers on new politicians are prepared and diplomatic positions are crafted for their respective governments.

At MINDEF GSOC, the live TV reports stun the officers on duty, all of whom had cast their vote earlier. It is a major talking point for the duty personnel, breaking the monotony of the graveyard shift. But the alert status of Alert Red Force SAF units remains the same and the SAF remains within its fenceline.

New political masters
As the sun creeps over the South China Sea, Singaporeans wake up to the reality that the promised defeat of the MIW has come true. Newspaper vendors sell out their day's consignment of papers in every language and the afternoon newspapers churn out a larger print run to capitalise on street sales. Even as politicians lick their wounds, there is money to be made.

There is money to be made shorting the Singapore dollar too. As money traders juice up their LED screens for a new work day, the USD:SGD rates shock observers. Net-savvy Singaporeans who purchase stuff online do a double take when they see exchange rates quoted by Paypal. This is the result of a global currency trading system that finds itself in terra incognito after GE 2016. The election result triggers a wave of uncertainty and a flight to safety. The Sing dollar, backed by nothing but a promise of stability as a safe haven in Southeast Asia, waits to see if the island nation's new political masters can convince the international community that it is business as usual. In the meantime, the watchword for currency traders is "sell".

As the political party voted into power scrambles to decide who will lead assorted ministries, power-brokering takes place behind the scenes as Opposition parties scramble to assert their influence. Parties with a small presence in Parliament peg a high price to their willingness to join a coalition. The new party needs a strong majority in Parliament to move things forward and as a counterweight to the MIW, who is the new opposition. Though voted out, the MIW claim a sizeable presence in Parliament.

Across the island, heartlanders who own their property thanks to decades-long mortages by banks are in trouble. Valuations nosedive as buyers stay away from making big ticket purchases until the new political landscape is charted out. Thousands find themselves in a situation of negative equity as homes purchased during the height of the housing boom in 2012 are worth far less on the open market.

Enter our foreign talent: Buoyed by liquidity stashed in their home currencies, which are now far stronger compared to the Sing dollar, foreigners go shopping. Thanks to political uncertainty bordering on turmoil, foreigners turned PRs strengthen their presence in Singapore snapping up cheap homes. These PRs are transients anyway with no desire to stay in Singapore for long. They hope to make a quick buck flipping property, then migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States or elsewhere.

With a question mark placed over Singapore's political future - which could shine under the new party or fade away - investors decide to play it safe by not investing in Singapore for the moment.

Enter the vultures: Economic agencies of foreign countries, sensing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, woo MNCs to relocate to their country with tax breaks, grants and pioneer status incentives. The war plan of these vultures is a facsimile of the plan hatched by Singapore's Dr Goh Keng Swee to convince foreign investors to set up shop in Singapore, thus providing much needed investments and jobs for Singaporeans. The plan is half a century old, but it works exceedingly well even in 2016. White and blue collar Singaporeans lose their jobs by the thousands as companies bid goodbye to Singapore. Rents in the Central Business District collapse as tenants pull out. This is business.

The swearing in of Singapore's 13th Parliament makes it an unlucky 13 for the MIW, especially stalwarts who believe in fengshui. Many former ministers are now backbenchers. A number of MIW politicians who lost their seats quit politics, following the lead of former ministers like George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua who retired from politics after losing their seats in GE 2011.

Defence expenditure
After the initial euphoria, uncertainty over Singapore's future and the reality that jobs are being lost goads the new government into action. The cash cow of defence spending is slashed. Money saved from defence is used to sweeten the lips of heartlanders through various schemes.

The SAF is ordered to cut its expenditure and activity-based budgeting is tightly enforced. To further please the people, National Service is to be cut progressively to one year with exceptions for talented Singaporeans, which is the solution anonymous netizens have asked for. The new Minister for Defence is inundated with requests for NS exceptions from parents who claim their kids are talented and demand exemption. These talents include a mixed bag of esoteric skills ranging from playing chess to finger painting and strumming guitars. Anxious to please voters, MINDEF is forced to rubber stamp these exemptions. This gives rise to a new cottage industry of exemption letter writers who can draft a convincingly letter for a handsome fee.

The Purge
As the new party settles into its rhythm, Singapore's new political elite starts to assert its presence in Singapore's political landscape. They are, afterall, Singapore's new ruling elite, the powers-that-be that are a force to be reckoned with. The father to son arrangement has given way to a coalition of parties that count a husband and wife duo and a brother and sister/favoured uncle arrangement. Singaporeans learn the true extent of political infighting, reported by the mainstream media years ago, that has stymied political renewal in the smaller parties.

New brooms sweep clean and it is time for the political elite to stamp its influence. With the powerful one golden share in Singapore Press Holdings, the new government decides to revamp editorial leadership in print and broadcast media. The purge is as brutal as it is expected. Editors are given marching orders. Singapore's mainstream media finds a new voice. It is easier to reshuffle the chain of command at state-owned broadcaster, MediaCorp.

Next comes the Singapore Civil Service. Long regarded as the bastion behind Singapore's efficiency and success as a city-state, the new political elites set their eyes on purging the civil service of personalities too closely allied to the MIW. The cull goes wider than the civil service.

They set their sights on weeding out the intelligentsia and academics allied by blood ties or career loyalty to the MIW. Labour unions and grassroot organisations such as the People's Association (PA) are not spared in the manpower renewal exercise of a scale unseen before in Singapore's history.

Along the way, opportunists sensing a chance to fast forward their careers and CEPs step into the picture. Even from Polling Day, Singapore's new political elite has been actively courted by sweet-talking opportunists who send congratulatory emails and SMSes praising them to high heaven. Worse are the poison pen letter writers who backstab their bosses, detailing their every move in support of the ousted MIW in an attempt to gain a higher perch in the new pecking order. This arse licking pays dividends. The new political elites cannot do everything by themselves. They will need hands and legs to run Singapore, the civil service, the media, academia, government organisations and quasi-government bodies, and so the politically astute junior and mid-level officers who dabble in political machinations find that this pays of handsomely.

Blame game
Months after Singapore's new Prime Minister is sworn in, the people's patience wears thin. The novelty of a new government that cannot put food on the table chafes nerves. The PM needs to buy time. So, in the battel for hearts and minds, public relations strategists play the blame game. Voting in a new party during GE 2016 does not put an end to the anonymous sniping in cyberspace directed against the MIW. They have been in power for 50 years and the new government blames the MIW's enduring legacy as the reason behind why Singapore cannot progress.

The online criticism and bitching continues with every fault laid at the feet of the ousted MIW. Singapore's new political masters are pleased as this bogeyman strategy buys them time to get their act together.

Some Singaporeans buy the argument. The global community continues to sell Singapore dollars. Consumer confidence falls as unemployment rises, giving bloggers a field day with dark poetry of the Lion City's new political situation.

With their Sing dollars devalued, inflation hits household savings on this resource-deprived island nation hard. Essential foodstuff, clothing and fuel - almost 100 per cent imported - are traded at unheard of prices. The government draws on emergency stockpiles of rice and fuel, bought at pre-election prices several months ago, and sells them at NTUC Fairprice supermarkets at the price consumers used to pay in an effort to quell public anger. It is a quick fix but it works - but supplies will not last more than six months. This move places Singapore in a precarious position to weather supply disruptions as the new government sees no immediate need to replenish the emergency stockpile.

With rising unemployment, street demonstrations are seen on Singaporean streets for the first time in decades. Social media is exploited by ring leaders comprising unemployed and disgruntled citizens to organised flash mob demos islandwide. An emaciated Singapore Police Force, worn down by budget cuts, fails to ring fence Singapore against roving gangs of anarchists who travel the world to spark off destructive street riots. Unbeknownst to the Singaporean organisers of the peaceful flash mob who are determined to exercise their human rights, masked foreign anarchists infiltrate street demos to incite violence. It is only a matter of time before the flash mob obliges. A final warning by Singapore Police Force Special Operations Command troopers goes unheeded and the riot police do what they are trained to do. Gunfire erupts on Singaporean streets for the first time since the 1969 race riots.

Deadly intent: Not "Disperse or we arrest" or "Disperse or we fine" or "Disperse or we cane". In the Internet age, any attempt to execute the "Disperse or we fire" order - especially against unarmed Singaporeans - will result in footage that will go viral worldwide. For maximum impact and for strategic ambiguity, the SPF should have simply written "Disperse or Die". That would get the message across.

Sensing a need to protect his position, the new PM realises he has a powerful tool at his disposal - the Gurkha Contingent which is said to report to PMO directly. Word of simmering dissent among SAF officers eventualy reaches the Internal Security Department (ISD), which continues to be the eyes and ears of the government - be it MIW dominated or not.

The PM has studied the force ratios. He knows his position is secure as the GC's full strength of 2,000-plus officers, which includes the elite G Force and wheeled armoured vehicles make the GC a praetorian guard that can hedge against any coup attempt by the SAF.

He takes preemptive and preventive action, ordering ISD to execute an island-wide sweep of dissenters. MIW loyalists are rounded up as the purge continues. The revamped mainstream media can be relied on to look at such internal security sweeps with rose-tinted glasses. It fetes the purge as a necessary step to put Singapore on a firm footing for future progress and prosperity.

In the meantime, the city-state continues to languish as voters who wanted to teach the MIW a vital lesson in GE 2016 got what they wished for.

This is Year 0 and Singaporeans have gotten the government they deserve.


Anonymous said...

how much do you want to bet that your employer's country, malaysia, will get a new government (hint, hint - Not a BN government) before the end of 2012 ?

haveahacks said...

Alternative scenario: Strategically placed leaks of information obtained by covert surveillance result in the breakup of the two largest opposition parties. The MIW hastily call an early election in 2014 to take advantage of the fragmented and weakened opposition and are rewarded by being handed back a monopoly in parliament.

Recognising the precariousness of their domestic situation, however, the MIW sign an alliance with President Romney in the hope of strengthening US support for their regime. This alliance comes just in time for the SAF to contribute a significant force to a US invasion of Saudi Arabia triggered by a coup against the House of Saud. During the invasion, SAF troops inadvertently fire on a muslim shrine, triggering massive anti-Singapore demonstrations across the region. Race riots break out in Singapore shortly after and spiral beyond the control of the security services which have themselves been depleted by overseas deployments and open mutiny. The government appeals to the US for help but Uncle Sam is now over-stretched from its multiple on-going wars. In a diplomatic tour de force, the US makes a secret deal with Malaysia and Indonesia under which it would endorse their joint intervention in Singapore to restore order and to protect foreign nationals so long as the US is guaranteed access to its bases in Singapore. And so the 50-year history of an independent Singapore comes to an end.

ZZ said...

I am annoyed. NS45 festivities are still ongoing. NS45Showcase@OurHeartlands will be on tomorrow and this year's NDP will celebrate the 45th anniversary of universal service.

Barely two weeks ago, was holding a Submit & Win contest for our fathers' NS stories. Numerous stories were contributed to the wall only to have disappeared- except for a few selected for the contest that appeared as the organiser's Notes. Perhaps they exist but are not publicly visible. Indeed Recent Posts by Others do not exist because not a single one remains.

I find this vexing and hypocritical as the official call went out for memories close to heart later to be erased. Confusing too as signage at AOH and events have boasted some astonishing lore of 1G privations and ill-planning, which apparently are not welcome even in a minority of organic contributions. Along with the wider theme of mocking the 1G service's competencies, this makes the celebration of our fathers' sacrifices all the more insincere.

Anonymous said...

Won't happen. Foreign Talent numbers rising too rapidly for this to be demographically possible.

David Boey said...

Hi ZZ,
Any official explanation why the stories were removed? The NSmen and their families must have taken some effort to write and share their experiences.

Are they saving it for some official publication?

Best regards,


ZZ said...

If there is a reason, none has been revealed. But going by the comments on the photos, there has been much interest and participation from old soldiers. Success squandered.

Paul said...

Another alternative scenario...

GE 2016 results in an overwhelming defeat for the MIW. The only constituencies which remain in PAP hands are Jurong, Choa Chu Kang and Pioneer thanks to the large number of new citizen voters. WP has a small overall parliamentary majority but can count on the support of NSP and SPP for most issues while SDP outflanks it to the left and the remaining PAP to the right.

The NTUC rank and file are overjoyed with the results and the leadership purged of the politicians immediately put forward the call for a minimum wage and for restricting the entry of foreigners. The SMEs gripe and groan but eventually pull out their drawer plans which they already had in store and invest in technology to move up the value chain.

The wealthy developers turn tail and run bringing down the prices of homes so Singaporeans can afford them. The universities and schools are freed up so local students who qualify get access to high quality education.

Thousands of Singaporeans return from Perth, Hong Kong, California etc more than filling the gaps left by the fleeing foreign talent.

GIC and Temasek have their books opened and are carefully reorganised so Singaporeans can keep track of their own money.

The Singapore economy is slowly transformed into a dynamic, knowledge based economy providing world class services for a growing SE Asia while almost all manufacturing moves regionally. Instead of enriching MNCs, Singaporeans finally awaken their entrepreneurial spirits of our ancestors and we become once again the dynamo of Southeast Asia.

The SAF farmer soliders finally get a chance to outperform the scholars based on actual performance rather than fancy powerpoint presentations. Thanks to the farmers, SAF is transformed into a fighting fit, small, highly technological force. NS is shortened to 6-12 months and girls are drafted for the six month basic training period. The SAF is sent to Syria where they distinguish themselves in highly dangerous peacekeeping missions not logistic support as they are after all a professional force made up of highly skilled volunteers who are willing to fight and die for a country that values them and their families....

David Boey said...

Dear Paul,
Good one. Thank you for making the effort to share the alternative scenario.

Your point about fancy Powerpoint presentations is most apt. :)

Best regards,


Anonymous said...


What about a military coup should that GE not produced the "right" result?

That sound more likely.

Anonymous said...

China's military reaction is the wild card in any "situation" which might occur in S'pore because S'pore is a majority ethnic Chinese country.

David Boey said...

Shortening NS to 12 months or less means our officers will have no command experience.

haveahacks: Thanks for the scenario. :)

re: Coup involving SAF. Not sure how this would be done. If the MIW lose their majority, chances are the citizen's army mobilised to take power by force of arms will include those who voted against the MIW.

Why use the SAF when you have the Gurkhas?

Best regards,


ZZ said...

No reason our officers can't be all regulars. How good is it to depend on the command skill of an officer if he refreshes it once a year?

ZZ said...

2016: An inquiry was immediately convened to look into past deferments, appointments of defence scientists, appointments of generals and disciplinary measures of 2nd Lieutenants.

ZZ said...


Why did you make this post so partisan by far?

The point about Singaporeans not taking defence seriously you have previously discussed in depth. It can plausibly be linked to parties which have made reduction of NS a part of their platform .

But to suggest their doing so for populist reasons, is indefensibly partisan. Even more so to suggest that they invoke the ISA to detain political opponents without trial.

You may be aware that opposition parties unanimously support immediately repealing the ISA and replacing it with a terrorism act for specific offences.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Understand where u r coming from when u write the scenerio. A better write up will be what happen if MIW win back another victory in GE2016. I believed that will be more convincing ratehr than this one-sided story.

theonion said...


All I can say is that your alternative scenario is wishful thinking as the Singaporean diaspora is not as extensive as the Malaysian diaspora.

Further, most Singaporeans are PMET is nature rather than businesses thus far.

Further, the geopolitical region which Singapore is plays more to David's scenario rather than yours.

I would hope for your outcome but my bets would be on David's unfortunately

Cynical Investor said...

On the Gurkhas, a retired senior SWAT team officer confirmed to me once that the commander of the Gurkhas is a serving member of the British army (and SAS). As a serving officer of the British army, he would ultimately take his orders from Her Majesty's Government. What this means is that our PM must never do anything to upset the Brits.

The said...

/// GE 2016: Freak election result ///

It is interesting to see you using the PAP lingo of labelling a win by the alternate party as a freak election result. Why should it be a freak result? Isn't this the will of the people? Unexpected - yes. Freak - no.

theonion said...


Out of curiousity when was the confirmation since the present serving officers are no longer seconded from BA (SAS)

Anonymous said...

Military defense is just one pillar of the five pillars of total defense. Perhaps the most important and most eroded pillar, psychological defense, can only be repaired after GE 2016. Many NSF and ORNSmen (and their families) have been losing their sense of being stakeholders in Singapore. Even an officer (supposedly a motivated leader) has been blogging about how he has "woken up" and "keng to become clerk".

Abao said...

actually, being an island nation, singapore should be focusing on a strong navy and airforce instead of a large standing army.

meanwhile also conduct close exercise with our neighbour's naval forces projecting asean naval prescense.

that in itself would be much more effective than the huge amounts currently spent on dunno what

David Boey said...

Dear All,
Am taking several comments together.

ZZ 17 June 1:19PM: All-Regular officer corps not feasible due to number of NSman battalions in SAF orbat. Ponder over role of Regular officers when men they command are not called up for in-camp training.

ZZ 18 June 12:18PM followed by Anonymous 1:08PM: To write a scenario that would soothe egos from all sides would call for a number of end-result permutations beyond the scope of a single blog entry.

The one you read here - of a nation pushed into terra incognito - will persuade some individuals to think through what could possibly take place given the instruments of power now at hand.

Certain individuals will always be unhappy with the slant of an article unless the case is presented in a manner and style that doesn't pop their point of view. So be it. This isn't that kind of blog.

The 18 June 3:44PM: The term "freak election result" is far sexier and instantly recognisable as subheader and phrase - whatever your political persuasion - than "choice of the people".

Warm regards,


Unknown said...

No so much a comment as an encouraging compliment. I enjoy reading your stuff. Do keep blogging!

One question though, there are so many possible scenarios come GE 2016. Why focus on the one with a military outcome?

2 cents worth said...

Hi David
Excellent comment. Wish more Singaporeans are as analytical as you. The scenarios you have painted is not too far-fetched. We have had too much of a good stable life for too long and many are willing to take a gamble with their future. It is a scenario that has been bothering me for some time now. To add on to your scenarios, investors and MNCs will make a quick exit and years later when the electorate realized that they had accidentally shot themselves in the feet, it will not be able to put Humpty Dumpty back again even if the MIW are returned to power. Singapore is such a unique case that it will be impossible to replicate as conditions are different.

This is a message that should be drummed into our younger electorates. Perhaps someone should consider investing in a movie based on your story line. The impact would be much stronger and widespread. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

and remember that nobody lives forever.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, there is a great perceptive disconnect between the Greek tragedy and what is projected for the Singapore scenario comes 2016. The root factors diving political changes are fundamentally different. Even the recent Arab spring and jasmine revolution may have provided some hope for change in Singapore's political landscape, yet in Singapore's case we can observe the change is gradual not quantum.

The unknown factor is whether the old statesman will still be around in 2016....his shadow or his absence will have some impact. I can only visualize a significant increase of oppo numbers but not enough to change the apple cart. Your fantasy scenario should be taken with a big pinch of table salt..... LOL

David Boey said...

Dear Nick,
To answer you question: Because the defence and security outcomes of a change of gov't is something that is fascinating to think about.

re: Anonymous at 19 June 10:01 PM. Greek tragedy is a play on words, just as there is really no apple cart that is changed when that figure of speech is used.

Warm regards,


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the exploitation of the First-Past-The-Post voting system and gerrymandering makes a freak elections result where there is a massive swing of seats to another party possible.

This is because FPTP disproportionately represents the actual political make-up of the electorate and can be distorted even more through the use of gerrymandering, in our case this would be through a GRC system.

In our case, 40 percent of the population did not want the PAP in power, but in parliament they are only represented in parliament by 7 percent of the seats.

This leads to massive being disenfranchisement on the ground and frustrated citizens and unable to find any meaningful way to have their voice heard, this massive parliamentary majority secured not by actually winning a proportional mandate, but instead causing a result distortion through exploiting the mathematical quirks of the system means the incumbent will also be less inclined to work for their mandate, eventually leading to systemic incompetencies.

As a result we will see a significant polarization of opinion on the ground as feeling disenfranchised, people will tend to resort to more extreme actions to make their voice heard. This can range from voting against the PAP no matter what, or even washing their hands off the country because regardless of their commitment to it in National Service and the sacrifices they made for it, the government has no need to listen to them.

In my opinion Singapore is worth defending, but not the PAP. Unfortunately they have tried too hard perhaps to make us think that Singapore is the PAP and the PAP is Singapore, leading to a massive disconnect on the ground and the loss of will to fight or defend the place.

In my humble opinion, implement a more equitable and proportional voting system and you will naturally see an increase in the will of the people to defend the nation. Politicians who try to slaughter the sacred cow of defense spending would also have to think twice.

I do think a lot of our defense budget is wasted on systemic inefficiencies however.

Anonymous said...

u.s.a., u.k., canada and other western and asian countries have first-past-the-post voting system.

eremarf said...

Hello. I linked my way here from: (which is, I think, a much more likely future than the one you suggest)

Re: your predictions - That's a lot of "ifs" you have there. Among many other unlikelihoods, the likelihood of the people in the SDP, WP and other non-PAP parties acting the way you describe seems really low to me, as already mentioned by others from observing their policy proposals and manifestos (which are very admirable - esp. the SDP's - given their lack of resources based on our historical-political legacy). Your time frames and sequences for events contingent on previous ones don't seem to match very well too (e.g. the amounts of time to implement new policies for NS, reduce police budgets and manpower, for unhappiness to foment, for economic transformations, etc).

But you do make a strong point about how open-ended devices like the ISA are really open to abuse - in the wrong hands. We really should abolish it (which is what our opposition parties advocate).

And overall it's disappointing that you choose to promote skepticism and cynicism about (non-establishment) Singaporeans' ability to govern ourselves. It suggests elitism: that only a select group of "talents" (i.e. the establishment) can govern well - and that others will blunder and fail at it.

It's also a shame that you forecast division and polarisation, and mistrust and purges, instead of national and community unity and solidarity. A lot of research links "trust" between people with increased cooperation and improved economic outcomes, c.f.

I hope Singaporeans will join me in condemning your fear-mongering and nourishment of boogeymen.

Incidentally, the business of gazing into crystal balls seems to have been in practice before you, creditably, further popularised it (just to share with your readers what other potential futures Singaporeans imagine):

Interesting predictions all round, eh?

ZZ said...

This is not about ego as you say, but about neutrality and objectivity.

Not taking sides and not attributing imaginary actions to any party.

Anonymous said...

Check this out:

Hoshen said...

In response to

The situation painted there is interesting and I would say has a likelihood to happen as well. It however would happen no matter who is in government, as the global situation is beyond the control of whoever is in power. What policies would or could the other parties or alternative government do to prevent that? Hence it is, while useful, cannot be used as a comparison to the situation that David has provided. Which is the short term prospect of a sudden power shift

Now some people have been asking about why David used "freak result", and while I cannot claim to know completely why, I would say it's because some(or maybe even many) people vote for the opposition as a protest vote againest the MIW or a show of support for the opposition assuming that everyone else or at least the majority would vote for the MIW. Basically a "I want you to hear my voice and act according to it" vote rather then a "I believe the opposition is a better choice to run this country" vote.
Problem with this that if everyone thinks like this then the outcome would be not what they themselves wanted. The problem with this is as someone already pointed out, an issue of our First Past the Post system. This system has the ability to cause a major and sudden shift.

Personally I agree with David on this matter. That situation is a highly likely situation.

I would however like to add something to what David has said. And that is, supposing the MIW lose and the opposition wins a simple majority but with the MIW still having some representatives.
It could be instead of the opposition building a full on government (which as of now I strongly believe they cannot) they offer an olive brunch to the PAP to take on ministerial posts. The opposition can still claim the PM and certain other posts(justice?defence?etc etc) but fill up areas where they lack (finance?Foreign affairs? etc etc) with PAP candidates. They can then use the parliament to manage policy and set direction.
I'm not sure if likely but I would say would be a rather best case scenario.

Anonymous said...

Hi David, I usually agree with the content of your articles, but this time round, I have to say that your alarmist portrayal of opposition parties as populist vote seeking incompetents smack of the usual politics of fear perpetrated by the MIWs and your previous employer.

The main problem is that feeling of disenfranchisement which is currently rising among the populace, which if not addressed in conjunction with the urgent need to scrap the GRC system, will result in such a sudden boot of the MIWs.

In the event that a sudden change in government creates the purge of all grassroots/unions/academia/public sectors, I can only say that it would have been due to the MIWs bloody mindedness in seeking to replace a national identity with a political one and borne of arrogance and highhandedness.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how in this fairy tale you have created an imaginary enemy for the SAF; those Ghurkha officers on Mount Vernon. Perhaps it's high time that serious thought be given to disband this modern day band of mercenaries.

David Boey said...

Dear All,
Worst-case scenarios are common in security analysis, so learn to elevate your reading of such case studies from beyond the obvious.

The United States Rainbow war plans set a benchmark for scenario generation by playing out strategic relationships in the Pacific Rim according to various permutations.

Scenario plans were common in Cold War force studies too. Just because a writer described a plan to invade the Fulda Gap by the USSR, does that make him a communist supporter or sympathiser? And writers who described nuclear winters were, what, scare mongers?

Most of us have grown up in an environment where tolerance of anything but the straight and narrow is frowned upon or condemned.

Some of the responses here mirror the same intolerance and arrogance the MIW are ticked off for, just because the point of view we see here struck a nerve.

What to you rocks the boat is to others thought-provoking. Many points of view populate the Internet. Learn to embrace diversity without feeling so insecure you can't defend your own argument without descending into name calling or without the conviction of putting your own name to your blog.

This post isn't a popularity contest nor intended as provocative flame bait. There are many other "what if's" from a national security standpoint and this is just one of several which will be examined over time.

For those aghast with the idea than I will bow to arrogance, please read the 2009 entry "A father's pain" for some enlightenment. Scroll down for the comments. I can't be more overt than that.

I have read all your viewpoints and value even more the face-to-face chats a good number of you have had with me in the past where defence and security issues were discussed even more vigorously offline and off-the-record.

I especially thank readers who took pains to craft their own scenarios for the effort put into making people see things through a different lens.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

David Boey, your shallow assumption that there is only one group who can lead and your disrespect for the intelligence of the electorate only serve to reflect that you are a unintelligent panderer and shameless fearmongerer.

Anonymous said...

David Boey's whole doomsday scenario seems to be premised on the non-PAP party/coalition government implementing senseless policies. He just proceeds with this baseless assumption and cooks up one tall tale built on nothing. David Boey is one irrational and irresponsible blogger.

Anonymous said...

As much as we don't like the PAP, lets not deceive ourselves that an alternative government can just take over the reins in 2016 if they are swept from power, decades of digging in by the incumbent means they have connections to all the implements of power and systems of state means that a smooth transition cannot be easily done.

The PAP had deliberately pursued a policy of making sure there is no political redundancy in Singapore to make sure citizens are blackmailed into voting for it regardless of how badly they do their job. This is an irresponsible and short-sighted practice of which deleterious effects we are seeing now.

Unfortunately this also means that years of building up negative sentiments among the electorate and disenfranchisement with the PAP Singapore has polarized society and eroded the will of the SAF NSFs and NSmen to fight.

The best way forward is to allow the opposition to make gradual inroads into parliament as opposed to a sudden sweep of seats (unfortunately our gerrymandered FPTP system makes sudden swings possible) in a general elections.

But that said, David Boey's worse case scenario is not particularly likely given the opposition in Singapore is made out of multiple parties with them all having different levels of traction with the electorate.

The only way I see his scenario possible is when the PAP really screws up in the years to 2016 and completely destroys whatever precious little goodwill they have had with us, in which case we are better off rolling the dice and going through a period of turmoil and emerging with a new Singaporean government then sticking with them and hoping they will get the message eventually.

The other possibility is that the opposition parties forms a united coalition and is able to go toe to toe with the PAP juggernaut, in which case we will probably see a situation closer to what is happening in Malaysia now or the rise of a two-party system.

But one thing is clear: The status quo needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous and David, like many people, you seem to wrongly believe that the Government's ideas come from politicians themselves and that public servants are a bunch of brainless robots just executing the ideas. In reality, whichever party/coalition comes into power will tap on the advice and experience of civil servants, as is the case currently.

eremarf said...

Hello David

It is reasonable for security analysts to evaluate worst-case scenarios.

What I take issue with is your loaded language. Consider phrases and passages such as:

"Singaporeans have gotten the government they deserve." >> suggests that ordinary Singaporeans who vote out the PAP deserve retribution or punishment for their bad choice.

"freak election" >> which you justify as "sexier"... hmm? okay?

Various passages suggesting Singaporeans in general are unreasonable and ask for benefits to their own benefit to the detriment of society in general, e.g. heartlanders who ask for defence cuts to enjoy other benefits, and parents who declare absurd talents to obtain exemptions from NS. This might be true of SOME Singaporeans - but all? And this is why Singaporeans need elites to make decisions, instead of democratically?

All these combine to give your piece not just analytic value but persuasion and propaganda value as well. If yours were a security analysis shared among analysts - it would be fine - but your thoughts are circulated among all Singaporeans - and deserves a response from other Singaporeans.

Thus, I concede the value of your predictions, but I question whether its value outweighs its costs. Assuming we have some way of putting a probability value on outcomes A, B, C, etc up to Z, for e.g. ranked according to likelihood of occurrence. Surely it would be detrimental to dwell overmuch on Scenario Z, and tunnel-vision ourselves into that.

In a situation with defence analysts who have a good grasp of Scenarios A to Z - it is valuable. But when released into the public sphere - it shapes opinions and actions. It makes people worry about Scenario Z, when they should actually worry more about Scenarios A, B, C and D, etc.

eremarf said...

It just crossed my mind that you did succeed in stirring up controversy and attention to your blog by sounding rather extreme and polemical. Perhaps this is a carefully calculated ploy to get Singaporeans on-board for a dialogue about the future of our nation? In which case - isn't it great there are so many diverse voices replying to you?

Majulah Singapura! :-D

eremarf said...

I would also invite people to think more deeply about a few other things implicated in this discussion:

Re: populist policies - Read through SDP, WP and other parties' material. Do you think they are JUST being populist, or do you think they have consistently campaigned according to a set of values of beliefs they hold dear? Has SDP (or rather Chee and associates) changed their tune - from the '90s up to today? Have they championed the same basic ideas? Do they do things such as raising CPF contributions apparently for your own good, and then cutting them a few years later, for your own good as well?

Another issue is whether just because elites know better - they can force policies down the throats of their fellow man. Shouldn't they have to persuade and explain to their supporters how their policies will benefit them? I don't have the answers - and would like to hear from people who think the elites really do know better how to act best for society, and furthermore, beyond knowing how - actually DO SO (i.e. why would they act for the optimal public good - instead of for their own personal interests?).

Also, currently in SG, many people think the elites don't understand what life is like below the stratosphere. How can they - when they are born into privileged backgrounds, and have led pampered lives their whole existence? If you don't thoroughly understand your society - can you accurately optimise policies to serve the greatest good? (i.e. is the elite's notion of "greatest good" really accurate?)

Lastly - consider the states which have cut back on defence spending, e.g. Costa Rica, post WW2 Japan and Germany, etc (esp. the benefits they gain from not having to maintain armies). Are there countries in modern times who have reduced military spending and suffered as a consequence? How applicable are their cases to us?

Ah Tiong said...

Wah lao, kong aniguay uey.

Please lah, no happening.

Singaporeans too kiasu.

Garhment suka suka redraw election boundary.

More likely scenario Hougang GRC kenah potong (pasir).

Some opposition supporters upset. Take to streets and kenah round up by Gurkha contingent.

This upset the Queen. Singapore have to fight off British intervention force but lucky ting, England boh Carrier liow so Kofi Anan come to chamseong and everything OK because no freak election result anyway and MNC happy so got no problem.


P Swarminathan said...

I put it to you that the reason we won't get the alternate government we deserve is because a certain Lee senior believes that it is not in the interest of the current incumbents to ensure that there is also a adequete alternative opposition government.

Rather it tries its utmost to foster an environment that is not condusive toward the development of such an entity.

Being that you believe the scenario of electing such a 'rogue government' a somewhat real possibility, then it must fall upon the onus of the current government that they are at fault for such an eventuality even remotely becoming so.

Spartakus said...

surely the desire to usher in - through democratic means, of course - a government that is willing to alter the status quo, ought not to be derided wholesale, just because certain circles may fear such a turn of events having negative repercussions on their own narrow vested interests and agendas; or even more ridiculously, just because a coterie of armchair warriors prefer to cling onto their outmoded nationalist worldviews or need to have their grandiose militarist fantasies pandered to all the time. the socio-political contradictions facing this country will continue to boil through, if genuine, more-than-lip-service reform isn't attempted. to put the blame squarely at the feet of the plebes in the eventuality that some 'doomsday' scenario is translated into into cold, stark reality, rather than the at-times odious and gruesome policies of the incumbent regime, seems a tad unfair, to say the least!

Anonymous said...

Mr Boey

Nice scenario. Unfortuanately not many people can see past "if you are not with us then you are against us".

One thing I can say is that sometimes I feel that democracy in the hands the mob (who think they are clever) is a dangerous thing.

Another thing I can say (for sure) is that, YOU, Sir, got a SOLID PAIR of BRASS ones, for putting this scenario up online, especialy in this blame everything on the MIW climate.

vado magnus vel vado domus. Ego tutus vos!!

Anonymous said...

Democracy is simply what the majority want even it is 50%+ 1 person. It is true that you get what you choose unless you have no choice. Do we have choices in Singapore? We have. Frankly, why do people want to send their kids to top schools? Why don't we choose the neighborhood schools? Talking about elitist mentality. If you can choose, do you want a PhD to teach your kid or an O-level graduate is OK? If you are PhD, do you want to get the same pay as an O-level graduate? So, choosing the most qualified people to manage the country is not correct?

Which is the largest democracy in the world? It is not USA, it is India. Have you watched slumdog millionaire? Have you been to Mumbai? You think Shanghai is a better place to live and work or Mumbai? But Shanghai is in the largest authoritarian country in the world compared to the largest democracy in the world.

What is the most important thing to citizens? Confucius said let their stomach not be empty.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, nobody is saying we should not have the most qualified people to run the country. The issue is that power should not be concentrated in the hands of one party. Is China more prosperous than Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland etc? Are authoritarian countries generally more prosperous than democracies? Selectively picking two cities only shows how hollow your argument is.

Anonymous said...

David made one strong point - foreign businesses appreciate the value the PAP far more than many Singaporeans.

Low taxes and well considered, stable policies made us competitive in the eyes of investors. Replace PAP with a no track record opposition and the results are scary.

Some of the wishful thinking can be seen in Paul's reply.

"The NTUC rank and file are overjoyed with the results and the leadership purged of the politicians immediately put forward the call for a minimum wage and for restricting the entry of foreigners."

Minimum wage. The simple solution. Only that will raise costs of businesses which will raise costs of living, and wait. Isn't that another gripe of the masses which the MIW is faulted for?

"The SMEs gripe and groan but eventually pull out their drawer plans which they already had in store and invest in technology to move up the value chain."

Wonderful. So easy eh? Actually that is what's already being done currently in the construction industry... but it is not as easy as it seems, and oh yes. Are we willing to pay more? Because the foreigners are what's keeping costs down. In the construction industry SIngaporeans are being replaced by Myanmars, Malaysians and Philippinos. You want cheap housing, you don't want to pay enough for Singaporeans to work in construction industry, and you don't want foreigners in. Everything we want, we just don't want the consequences eh?

"The wealthy developers turn tail and run bringing down the prices of homes so Singaporeans can afford them."

Simple mindedness. Developers run and you don't get your condos. Supply drops and prices go up, yet again. So realise that it is us Singaoreans who are actually jacking up prices of private properties by paying for them at exhorbitant rates? Yes, it is us cash rich Singaporeans buying the sub-urban areas. Damn the PAP for making us so rich.

"The universities and schools are freed up so local students who qualify get access to high quality education."

I've not heard of local students who had the same qualifications as a foreigner but got passed over for admittance.

"GIC and Temasek have their books opened and are carefully reorganised so Singaporeans can keep track of their own money."

Given how people like you pick on every loss while overlooking overall gains, I'm not sure GiC and Tamasek will ever be able to function with an open policy.

"The Singapore economy is slowly transformed into a dynamic, knowledge based economy providing world class services for a growing SE Asia while almost all manufacturing moves regionally. Instead of enriching MNCs, Singaporeans finally awaken their entrepreneurial spirits of our ancestors and we become once again the dynamo of Southeast Asia."

Foreign MNC stifling our entrepreneural spirit, remove them and we set up MNCs by the dozens! Oh, the simple mindedness.

The general problem is that Singaporeans don't understand that you cannot have, well, everything.

ZZ said...

You can not have everything. But being a competitive place to do business and

-having decent wages
-having reliable public transport
-having decently sized homes
-having affordable homes
-not being spat on by foreigners
-not living in one of the most crowded cities in the world
-having freedom of expression
-not being scolded by our leaders
-having fair election practices
-having a press that does not spout lies like those in the above comment

are not mutually exclusive.

That we don't have these things speaks of the PAP's incompetence and nonchalance.

eremarf said...

@Anonymous who said - "Singaporeans don't understand they can't get everything".

Bro - you're rehashing old stuff and being overly simplistic. The key thing is - change is uncomfortable to those who enjoy the status quo.

1. To the poor and lower middle class - their life is not-so-good whether businesses stay in Singapore or not. What's in it for them not to try to make it better? (Workers of the world unite? You have nothing to lose but... your chains?) And as a society - can those of us who are not poor accept violating the dignities of our fellow men? (Some of you here talk about Confucius saying fill the stomachs of the people - I had a colleague who skipped meals daily in order to support his family - how embarrassed I was to finally realise he fasted not from religious piety but out of necessity! And there I was gorging myself beside him in the canteen while he just had tea!)

2. The next thing is - the status quo and its alternatives are mutually exclusive. If you never replace the current industrial landscape in Singapore, you will never get the alternative. Thus - let's consider: is our industrial status quo a good thing (for our ENTIRE society - not just for the elites)?

I remember the era of outsourcing in the 1980s - many 1st world countries' cities/towns lost their industries to the developing 3rd world. Their governments were forced to intervene, be inventive, set up new industries. I have read case studies of success and failure (e.g. some Canadian places shifting from lumbering and fishing to tourism and francophone call centres) - but they all were forced to transform and keep up with the times.

Necessity is the mother of invention indeed. Of course we hope to have leaders that are visionary and can predict the next wave to ride - but ask yourself - how successful have our leaders been in this (e.g. biotech? casino? finance aka laundering dirty money from the region?)? I think they have been pretty successful in providing for themselves and the elites - but have performed rather poorly in obtaining this for the rest of society.

For example - a good education is the key to having effective workers in a knowledge industry - and yet - Singapore spends so little on education (only 3% of GDP!) - and the quality of education in public schools still falls a lot shorter than that available in independent and private schools - I know because I taught in a few public schools and was schooled in an independent school. Such things go very far towards locking in social stratification (think of what it takes, beyond inherent intelligence, to get into "good" schools).

r0bt said...

This is bullshit, David. I'm not sure how connected you are to the 'younger' crowd. You clearly don't understand the real sentiment that the vast majority of people have.

I study in university now, and none of my friends — even those who vote for the opposition — want the PAP out of power today. Nobody! Isn't that funny? A common thing that I hear is that they prefer a power balance — 60-40.

For someone who knows the subtleties of military activity and strategy, you focus on the most flight-of-fancy, bullshit scenarios.

If the PAP loses power, it will be via a much more gradual process. The opposition will someday start to demand that many processes and procedures become more party neutral. We'll be prepared for a regime change if one comes, I'll guarantee you that.

You seem to subscribe to the idea that Singaporeans are easily seduced by populist policies. No, they're not. The opposition can only promise greater parliamentary representation. The PAP can promise much, much more, thanks to the fact that they control the town council funds.

Most people vote for the opposition not to vent their anger on the government, but because they believe that a more diverse representation of opinion is required in our society. Get that right, David.

r0bt said...

This is bullshit, David. I'm not sure how connected you are to the 'younger' crowd. You clearly don't understand the real sentiment that the vast majority of people have.

I study in university now, and none of my friends — even those who vote for the opposition — want the PAP out of power today. Nobody! Isn't that funny? A common thing that I hear is that they prefer a power balance — 60-40.

For someone who knows the subtleties of military activity and strategy, you focus on the most flight-of-fancy, bullshit scenarios.

If the PAP loses power, it will be via a much more gradual process. The opposition will someday start to demand that many processes and procedures become more party neutral. We'll be prepared for a regime change if one comes, I'll guarantee you that.

You seem to subscribe to the idea that Singaporeans are easily seduced by populist policies. No, they're not. The opposition can only promise greater parliamentary representation. The PAP can promise much, much more, thanks to the fact that they control the town council funds.

Most people vote for the opposition not to vent their anger on the government, but because they believe that a more diverse representation of opinion is required in our society. Get that right, David.

Anonymous said...

-having decent wages

Are you able to command those wages? Easy to legislate that everybody be paid a minimum of $10,000 a month. Are you worth that much in terms of productivity? No? Business goes elsewhere, and you don't even have a rice bowl left.

-having reliable public transport

SMRT is not PAP operated. Another example of gripes by the simple minded. Attributing every problem to PAP while neglecting to credit them for successes we enjoy and instead taking the successes for granted as if they were god given rights, that's the problem Singapore is facing. Sometimes I wonder if this is the curse of successful societies.. We will be treading the path of the Western countries if we are not careful.

-having decently sized homes

Goodness. Developers build these homes because it is profitable. They command more psf than a larger unit. The thing is, if there wasn't a demand for these units, they won't be building these units in the first place. And the demand is coming from HDB heartlanders who have the liquidity because their HDB has been paid off and they are looking for something affordable for investment. People know that property is a good investment in land scarce Singapore... But that is also because expatriates come in and rent those properties.

-having affordable homes

See the connection with above? Chase away those pesky foreigners and a good section of society lose out. Unlike the simple minded, PAP also has to take care of the concerns of those property owners.

-not being spat on by foreigners

I pity you. Must be hard being spat on. Maybe if you weren't so xenophobic....

-not living in one of the most crowded cities in the world

i don't like being squeezed into MRTs filled with foreigners too, and I do believe that while we have a need for skilled foreigners, their secret criteria for giving citenship has been way too lax previously, given a few examples I have seen.

That said, that is no reason for the level of castigation they are receiving.

-having freedom of expression

Are you actually posting from a detention center?

-not being scolded by our leaders

I do think that Singaporeans need a scolding now.

-having fair election practices

As far as election practices goes, it is fair. Both opposition and PAP are held to the same rules.

-having a press that does not spout lies like those in the above comment

And the golden truth spouts from your mouth?

David Boey said...

Hi rObt,
"I study in university now, and none of my friends — even those who vote for the opposition — want the PAP out of power today. Nobody! Isn't that funny?"

Actually, it isn't. Think about what would happen if everyone did the same and whether the "bullshit scenario" would be fulfilled. Would it then be a gradual process? It won't.

Unlike certain people, I don't just sit there and ask "what do you think". I have stated my point of view with one scenario above that may affect our internal security and authored it in my name.

As stated in an earlier reply, there are many ways situations can pan out and they can't be described all at one go because the scenario analysis would go all over the place.

One work-in-progress post concerns domestic stability and national resilience. Wait for it. It isn't an appeasement essay to claw back PR goodwill, just something for people to mull over.

re: Being connected with the young. I manage an internship programme that takes in 500+ Singaporean students/year. Everything from Nitec to poly to uni undergrads. All sorts of personalities, life goals and family backgrounds.

While politics is never mixed with work, interacting with interns and hearing them out does give one some idea of what makes this generation tick.

Interaction with liaison officers -some of whom have become friends - also reveals challenges they face not just in dealing with students, but also with parents who come with their own list of demands.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

-having reliable public transport
The system was first neglected even as the government possessed the clearest data concerning population growth among anyone in Singapore.

It was further sacrificed for profit as the government did not enforce maintenance standards that were practiced at SMRT while the system was still a government entity and functioning reliably.

-having decently sized homes
I suppose you believe we should let the free market operate at all costs, even considering that few essentials of competition apply to this market.

I address your views on the points above because I believe you may not be aware of the realities involved. As for those below, I find it hard to believe these are actually your views. It would be better if you acknowledged instead of going to ridiculous extremes and then and counting us lucky that we are not there.

The spirit of your replies are that of the people in power. You may grandstand in the press and convince some of the most gullible that there is no better way. Indeed for these people have no pity.

But these are the reasons why 3,000 talented Singaporeans leave the country permanently every year. They would soon return if they found their new homes a less desirable place to live. It's cool with me if you label them quitters and declare Singapore does not need them around. It's your loss.

-not being spat on by foreigners
"I pity you. Must be hard being spat on. Maybe if you weren't so xenophobic...."
-having freedom of expression
"Are you actually posting from a detention center?"

r0bT said...


It's great that you're working with the Generation Y/Z. My professors easily handle twice that amount, twice a year, and I think it's hard enough to have a chat with them about politics over tea.

My main beef with your post is that you ascribe almost no blame to the PAP if there are, as you say, any "internal security" issues as a result of regime change. If there is a regime change, I'm sure the PAP, having been around since independence, will not go without a fight. The real issue is whether there will be a literal one, or a figurative one.

I like how you use the term "freak result". A certain someone once threatened to call in the army in the case of such an event. He's wrong. In theory, the government and army are both beholden to political will (in the grand scheme of things). If any loser of a general election holds a nuclear football / hotline to the generals, we're all in trouble.

There needs to be a clearer demarcation and separation of powers between the government and other organs of power, and that separation must be party neutral. The reason why it's not happened is obvious: it's not in the party's interest and given the parliamentary balance, it's not obliged to do anything about it.

I'll give you another bullshit scenario to complement the one you gave, and frankly, I think it's a lot more likely. All I can say about this new scenario is that it's more or less happened before, in more than one country — China, Burma, and if things don't go well, Egypt.

The PAP loses the election and a coalition of opposition parties forms a government. The previous government calls in the army to cooperate with a coup d'etat and neutralise the "freak result". Led by the rabble rousers, 50,000 people fill the streets and stadiums in protest. Leads to a standoff between army and protestors. Situation is resolved Tiananmen-style, with the previous government still in power and with significantly reduced political and individual freedoms for everyone.

eremarf said...


Can you respond not just to R0bt but also to others who raise important issues as well? Otherwise, like Kenneth Jeyeratnam vs Tony Tan, I (and other readers) will have to presume either that you have no good answers to our questions, no time to respond, or that our points are deemed not worthy of response.

I'll just choose the most relevant one for your response: Why do you choose to focus on a low-probability scenario (I believe you have already conceded this) when many other possibilities are much more likely? Don't you think it has the power to cause a certain degree of "tunnel-vision" among your readers and those they subsequently interact with? Don't you think it thus has an alarmist/fear-mongering effect, to the extent that it will influence Singaporeans' voting decisions to be based on low-probability scenarios instead of likely scenarios? How do you justify influencing people this way?

My mother is a good example how people's background knowledge influences how they make decisions for the future. Born post-war in 1946 to a poor family, she survives to this day with a hoarder mentality - keeps anything that's of use - and saves up money and refuses to spend anything on herself because she's so un-used to it. I tend to disagree with my mother about how she plans - why save so much more than you are likely to spend in your lifetime? Go out, buy some things for yourself, go on vacations! But she would never do that. In fact, she reminds me of how Singapore manages its reserves. She would do penny-wise pound-foolish things such as eat potentially spoilt left-overs, walk long distances on a bad leg, when these incur more medical costs subsequently. (Don't get me wrong I love my mother but she's so stubborn about these things!)

Well, maybe she is good proof that you can't really influence SOME people with repeated persuasion, not to mention just a mere blogpost. But she also shows how warped thinking can get. Having been a teacher and being on the National Education committee - it regularly scares me during events such as Total Defence Day, Racial Harmony Day, etc how much ideological work we're trying to do with our youth (fortunately, many of them see beyond and question it, and our Social Studies/History syllabus is rather effective in promoting thinking - if students and teachers approach it the right way). When I teach development in human geography - I regularly run up against students' ideas that Singapore is so vulnerable because we have no natural resources - when ourselves, HK, Taiwan and S. Korea probably succeeded due to a lack of natural resources (what other choice have we, save to invest in our people? c.f. Stiglitz's notion of "resource curse"). (And do compare us with other 1960s 3rd world countries with valuable resources - e.g. southern African states with diamonds, oil states in the middle-east, and Brunei, Indonesia, Nigeria, Venezuela etc - in fact, they are more vulnerable to military and other sorts of violence, whether committed by factions within the state or without, precisely because they have natural resources!)

My argument: every member of our society has a responsibility to truth (relative to the audience's ability to consume it of course). Let's not obscure truth with falsehoods, let's not cloud our visions for the future with unlikely bogeymen.

@R0bt - great to see such spunk in the young, and more important - thinking minds behind it. Warms the cockles of my not-so-young heart.

Anonymous said...

Well it's quite clear that the PAP has, deliberately or not, set up a dead-man's switch of sorts by tying themselves so deeply into the apparatus of state that losing power would cause a lot of problems for Singaporeans.

The question is if we should be taking steps to defuse this dead-man's trigger by making sure a smooth transition to an alternative government is possible or should we just sit around on our hands and do nothing.

David Boey said...

Dear eremarf,
It is quite mischievious of you to equate my non-response to evasiveness.

So long as you do not have the conviction, moral courage or basic courtesy to stand by what you write in a named and verifiable manner, I see no reason why you deserve a reply.

I reply as I see fit and thank the various netizens for posting some well-crafted arguments to this post.

Then there are some characters who must have the last word to any and every argument, in which case I am more than happy to give you the soapbox to rant all you want. Thanks for keeping the page views strong.

Best regards,


Winston said...


Whether a person is anonymous or not does not affect the quality of his/her argument.

To equate internet anonymity with a lack of "conviction, moral courage or basic courtesy" is very disingenuous on your part.

Eremarf (and others) do raise very valid points concerning the problems with your scenario.

You chose instead to ignore their questions and question their anonymity.

Sounds like you are practicing a classic ad hominem, as well as suggesting (to me at least) that you can't defend against their line of questioning.

IMO, that's a sad development, given the previous quality of your posts.

theonion said...

Winston, Eremarf and others

All of you seem to expect the world to be Santa Claus or Genie or "Tian Gong" which will allow you time and space and opportunity to make the transitions to the Utopia you desire.

Unfortunately, sad to say, we are living now in capitalistic world which can only be mitigated by socialistic government measures but to what degree will depend on the strength of the country's finances.

Let me put in geopolitical perspective, which all of you forget.

Singapore is only the size at most of Sydney city proper(not metro or greater Sydney) or Tokyo city proper.

We have no hinterland except thru mutual agreement with ASEAN.

We are divided by sociocultural patterns even within the region and not just ethnicity.

In times of prosperity, this are easily overlooked, try it in times of adversity and you will find rather than Francis Fukuyama End of History,the actual outcomes follow Bernard Lewis "Clash of Civilisations"

Just look across the border and the recent media articles where it is so easy to use bashing to stir up emotions and influence voting decisions.

Yes, there needs to be changes and there needs to be growing of timbers either in services of technology. However, are you willing to withstand the long gestation periods.

Everyone says Samsung and LG now, yet were they household names 15 years ago.

The Euro crisis and other crisis now is a good opportunity to acquire food security, branding and technology and even possibly living space for retirees.
However, are we willing to spend it without carping too much on the invidual mistakes whilst recognising the overall rise in goods and wealth and overall security irrespective of whichever party is in power


Yao said...

Hi David,

Just a short message of support here. Your purge of the civil service scenario is a highly likely and plausible scenario should an opposition government take over, given the high level of MIW affiliated individuals in the civil service, human nature being what it is. This will most likely also extend to the SAF as you have illustrated. The question is, can we afford this shakeup of the civil service? Will this end up breaking the civil service? I would like to cite the example of the elite Indian Civil Service during the British administration of that country, and the result post independance. There is no easy way around this, but all I can say is, why break something that isn't broken?

Anonymous said...

"Just look across the border and the recent media articles where it is so easy to use bashing to stir up emotions and influence voting decisions."

Yet again.

GinzaBike said...

I have bookmarked this page prior. Seems ripe for a refresh.

Anonymous postings => not worth replying.

It's a story, and an interesting one. Some people just can't stand stories that don't fit in their worldview... the simple solution is stop reading.