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02 Jul 2020  (26585 Views) 
Out of the box

Who Dares Win - Looking beyond the Reign of the  Men in White
By Chung Sing Yee, retired corporate executive

Among members of a number of chat groups in which I participate, there appears to be a consensus that the PAP will win the coming GE hands down, with quite a few postulating a clean sweep for the PAP.  A clean sweep for the PAP means they win every seat in Parliament, from single seat constituencies to group representation constituencies. It means that the Workers Party will be unceremoniously booted out.

These clean sweep proponents, however, lament that such an outcome is far from ideal because they would prefer to see at least 20% of seats going to the Opposition, so that they can  serve as a Check and Balance to the PAP. They are therefore resigned to virtual PAP absolutism because the Opposition has offered no credible platform  other than negativity towards the PAP, which in turn means that they are far from offering any semblance of an agenda to steer Singapore forwards and onwards to a viable future.

In contrast, the PAP’s tried and tested policies have endowed Singapore and Singaporeans with an unimaginable and undreamt off level of prosperity, as well as social and political harmony and are thus manifestly the safest pair of hands to steer Singapore through these dangerous and trying times of Covid19 pandemic.

What this implies is that PAP policies have completely dominated all pivotal issues from political, financial, economic to societal, which Ipso facto equates to a complete lack of space for alternatives from the Opposition or from anyone else.  

Furthermore, the PAP’s massive response to the Covid19 pandemic, delivered by drawing down past reserves cumulated over decades, clearly demonstrated the efficacy and benefits of PAP stewardship and voters will be gratified and grateful for the various programs of aid provided for in the current as well as four supplementary budgets, totalling almost $100 billions. Opposition are thus left in the dust, completely demoralised by this enormous flow of money into into the pockets of Businesses and the pockets of Singaporeans to mitigate the devastating impact of the virus induced contractions in the economy.

The purpose of this essay is therefore to examine whether there are Indeed any room left for alternatives to the PAP’s tried and tested agenda and also to see if there is a way forward which might pivot away from the doctrines of the Men in White.

Property Ownership

I will start by looking at property ownership in Singapore, and more specifically at the issue of HDB leasehold, it’s remaining tenure and how this will play out under current PAP policies.

Singaporeans will most certainly recall that Minister Mentor LKY had unequivocally promised Singaporeans that they can regard their HDB homes as an appreciating asset which means that these homes will not only cater to their immediate need for shelter, but will also in due time serve as all or part of a nest egg to, amongst other things, secure their retirement in relative comfort. 

As it turns out, however, current PAP leadership has made it crystal clear that when HDB leases expire, the property will revert to the government, which means that the flat owner’s asset, (the oldest of which will have leases  expiring in 2068) will have ZERO value. So HDB owner’s nest egg will eventually turn to smoke and be gone with the wind.

 We can’t imagine what measures Minister Mentor LKY would have proposed to make good his promise as he is no longer with us. We do know that his successors’ policy on this subject is obviously poisonous and odious to all HDB owners. It will thus be up to Singaporeans other than the PAP and their adherents to propose an alternative.

I would like therefore to make a start on this. My proposal is a very simple one: to convert all HDB leasehold titles into freehold AT NO COST to HDB owners.

Such a change has no immediate monetary implications on government coffers and will thus not be in need of Presidential approval of any kind because the government will not need to draw down cumulated reserves or utilise any funds to implement this move. In other words this change will cost the government absolutely nothing.

What it means, however, is that the government of the day in 2068 will not be able to add to its land bank as currently envisaged by the PAP, through repossession of HDB flats with expired leases. Government will thus have to forego any revenue which will eventually arise from the sale of such repossessed land and will not, in that eventuality, be able to bolster national reserves.

From the above, we can conclude that the unarticulated dictum in current PAP policy is just this: Government is PARAMOUNT and PERMANENT, but Citizens are SECONDARY and TRANSIENT.

My proposal makes the exact opposite premise: Government is SECONDARY and TRANSIENT but citizens are PARAMOUNT and PERMANENT. 

This means that, contrary to PAP assumptions and aspirations, governments can come and go at the will of the people as they exercise their choices at the ballot boxes in regular and periodic General Elections.

It also means that Singaporeans will have a permanent stake in the Little Red Dot, a stake which will serve as part or all of their nest eggs in retirement and perhaps something which they can eventually pass on to their heirs; a privilege hitherto  reserved only for the TOP ten percenters who own freehold properties. 

In the realm of developed economies in the world, of which Singapore is a proud member, there is one glaring anomaly: the growing inequality between the tiny segment of extremely wealthy elites against an overwhelming and often struggling masses in the rest of society. I believe that Singapore shares this problem, though not to same extent than in some of these developed economies. Nevertheless, changing leasehold to freehold for HDB properties will represent an enormous first step forward to prevent the problem of inequality from morphing into a divisive and existential issue as is already happening in some western countries.           

The next related issue to be addressed is the leasehold of private properties.

My proposal here is to allow these properties to likewise be converted to freehold on payment of a premium equal to 10% of the currenty assessed market value of the property. To facilitate this change the authorities can provide an interest free loan over 20 years and recover this sum in twenty equal annual payments collected in addition to normal property tax.
This change will thus increase revenue from properties over the next twenty years.

Car Ownership

Singaporeans pay one of the highest prices in the world to purchase a car, in the course of which, they have to engage in competitive bids to have it confiscated by the government. The mechanisms by which this confiscation is achieved is the Certificate of Entitlement or COE.

Think of it this way. Anything else you buy which you have fully paid for, you own for good, with no time frame at which you have to compulsorily surrender ownership. Not so with the car you buy. Bidding for the COE means you bid to have the car confiscated by the government, in exchange for being allowed to use the car for 10 years only. At the end of the 10 year period, if you still want to use  the car, you can lease it again from the government, for another 5 or 10 years by paying the prevailing COE. Alternatively, you must allow the car to be scrapped, meaning you car ownership is terminated.

The purported excuse for the introduction of the COE is to control the number of cars on Singapore roads so as to achieve reasonable traffic flow AND at the same to ENSURE that Singaporeans who do not yet own cars have a fair chance of owning one. 

This is nothing other than confusing car ownership with controlling the number of cars on the road. This last objective is achieved by the Quota system. The government has some time back announced that there will not be further increases to the quota of cars allowed on the roads of Singapore ie the number of cars allowed or the quota is frozen.

Does this mean car ownership is also frozen? Obviously not. So long as you are prepared to pay the price and bid to have it confiscated by the government you can “own” any car you want.

 As an example, if you have an after tax income of one million dollars a year or a cumulative ten millions over ten years, the confiscatory tax rate is 3.5% assuming you buy a $350,000 car. If on the other hand you earn a cumulative $1 million over 10 years and buy a car for $100,000, your confiscatory tax rate is 10%. This is a regressive confiscatory tax and is unjust 

There is just one very unpalatable conclusion:Unless you belong to the class of wealthy elites, under current policies, the government will end up owning your two most valuable assets: first your car immediately upon purchase and thereafter and ultimately your leasehold home as well.

My proposal: Scrap the COE and return car ownership to Singaporeans.

Ministerial Salaries 

This is a subject of perpetual controversy.

PAP supporters accept the PAP argument that the highest paid political leadership in the world in total receive a sum which is minuscule when compared to the  enormity of ever rising prosperity and economic growth.

ESM Goh Chock Tong has opined that Ministers are not paid enough and that it would be difficult to attract people  of the right caliber to government leadership in the future.

This raises a simple question: how much more money is enough money to satisfy ESM Goh? Would doubling the salaries be enough? How about increasing it ten fold, so that the PM and his colleagues vwould be paid in tens of millions each year?

The fact is that PAP ministers, having luxuriated in years of high pay, have become afflicted with a sense of entitlement. None more so than ESM Goh who initially said that a $500k annual income was extremely mediocre, but later clarified that an individual who is unable to justify an annual income of a million dollar a year in the private sector is too mediocre to be considered as ministerial material. Notice how money has become the sole qualifying criterion: fail this measure and you are automatically disqualified. No doubt, this thinking runs deep in ESM Goh’s family. Recall that some years back, his wife contemptuously dismissed a $600k annual salary as peanuts.

The formula use to calculate Ministerial salaries, without going into details, is entirely based on the highest income segment in Singaporean society. This fact alone ensures that Ministerial pay will always tend to grow faster than the rest of society, thus perpetuating and entrenching inequality between those who rule and those whom they rule.

No doubt, this is the reason for the recent step taken to freeze ministerial pay for 5 years. Without this the discrepancy would become too embarrassing.

If a formula is needed to derive Ministerial salaries, my suggestion is that it should encompass the entire income spectrum in society. This means that 20% should be based on the median income of the lowest 20% of earners, with the rest in 20% bands right to the TOP. This way, Ministerial pay is aligned with income earned by the various segments such that government policies will benefit all, rather than simply catering to those at the the very TOP

As to to how much money is enough, I suggest we convene a panel from among local business leaders from large and small enterprises, academics, economist, sociologists,  as well as allowIng public scrutiny and feedback to settle the question.

As it stands, the Ministers have hitched themselves to the fastest boat, the large majority are in slower boats which  nevertheless are moving forward whilst the last 20% segment are paddling furiously to stay afloat and struggling to stop from going backwards. 

So much for the oft repeated slogan by Ministers that all Singaporeans are in the SAME boat: it obviously bears no semblance to facts on the ground simply because the Ministers are so isolated from the populace that they have no idea of large segments of the population are suffering.

Fertility Rate and Population.

Search on Google indicates that Singapore’s fertility rate in 2018 was 1.14, the second lowest next to South Korea. In contrast, Japan, the oldest society in the developed world, has a fertility rate of 1.4.

A fertility rate of 2.2 is needed to stabilise population which means that South Korea, Singapore and Japan will eventually face declining populations. Japan is already facing population shrinkage especially when the homogenous and chauvinistic Japanese will not allow sufficient immigrants to mitigate this problem. So Japan has now become the Land of the Setting Sun.

What of South Korea’s lowest in the world fertility rate? I suggest it has to do with the fact that they live nextdoor to a neighbour with Long range guns permanently pointed in the direction of their capital city, Seoul. More ominously, South Koreans face a totally erratic and unpredictable Kim Jong En who has a nuclear trigger at his finger tips. Why would South Koreans then want to bring offsprings into such a threatening and dangerous world?

How about Singapore, renowned as a safe, clean and green Garden City with a vibrant and prosperous economy and the envy of countries and people from around the world? Why is Singapore’s fertility rate the second lowest in the world?

Here is a reasonable answer: Beneath all the glitter is a reality completely HIDDEN in the open. Apart from the elites, life is really very very tough for the overwhelming majority though this is completely unbeknown to the PAP leadership.
Singaporeans refrain from from child bearing not least because of the high cost of bringing up a child but also from having to cope with an education system which is highly pressurised even if some of these pressures are often self induced by the parents themselves.

Remember too that Singaporeans work long hours in what can best be described as a rat race, wherein they need to pay for their confiscated cars as well as their ultimately to be confiscated home. Add it all up and you can fully understand why Singaporeans refuse to beget their little ones.

In 2013, the PAP tabled a white paper on population, projecting a total of 6.9 million by 2030. Singaporeans greeted this with such a loud howl of anguish that the white paper was summarily withdrawn and hopefully consigned to the rubbish bin.

Singapore is already bursting at the seams. During weekends, when Singaporeans are not at work, they take their families out in their cars and especially on Saturdays, day long traffic jams are almost everywhere. You can imagine what life would be like to fit another 25% more people into the Little Red Dot’s limited confines. A Singaporean won’t be able to stretch his arms without hitting someone else in the face.

Why is the PAP so intent on growing the population? The truth is that it is simply addicted to achieving continuous GDP growth. For this to occur, there are two components. One is improvement in Productivity. The second is to increase the size of the workforce. 

ESM Goh, while in his early years  as Prime Minister, articulated a Vision of driving Singapore towards a standard of living equal to that of Switzerland: Singapore will become the Switzerland of the East. Unfortunately, articulation is the end of that story. Obviously, he could not inspire his colleagues to come on board. Growing the workforce is the low hanging fruit to growing the economy. Improving productivity is just too hard.

 Professor Chua Beng Huat of the NUS pointed out that the huge influx of foreign workers, particularly those who are unskilled and semiskilled had exerted downward pressure on the income of the lowest 20% of Singaporean wage earners. It has as well prompted erstwhile establishment figure, Tommy Koh, to propose a minimum wage, to the chagrin of PAP leaders.  

Meantime, safely ensconced in their Ivory Tower, PAP Minister continue to hector ordinary Singaporeans on how to behave, what to do and not do and how to think and how to lead their lives, in an endless barrage more tiresome than a well meaning nagging parent.

All to no avail:That Singapore has the second lowest fertility rate in the world is the Silent but most Powerful and Eloquent rebuttal to PAP policies and PAP rule.

Handling the Covid19 Pandemic

Singapore was initially hailed by the WHO as well as by others as the Gold Standard of how to handle the Pandemic. The PM was praised for his forthright and transparent communications with the public, in detailing the steps taken and assurances that things were well under control.

The Gold Standard, however, soon became a cautionary tale. Apart from the initial confusions about the need to wear masks, there were two blind spot which were completely ignored by the authorities.  

The first was the crowded and unsanitary dorms for foreign workers and the second was our public transport system used by hundreds of thousands of commuters everyday.

Whatever lockdown measures implemented in Phase 1 were completely overwhelmed by the outbreak of infectious in the dorms as well as from crowded buses and MRT trains.

Much have been written and talked about in regards to living conditions in the dorms. Suffice it to say that it has prompted erstwhile establishment figure Tommy Koh to say that Singapore is a first world country embracing third world standards in the treatmentof its low skilled foreign workers. 

Han Fook Kwang , editorial writer with the Sunday Times, goes further. He opined that the “virus is metaphor for the social ills spread by society’s Inequality and it is easier to understand that the problems of one group -the poor, aged or vulnerable- will infect others and finally the entire society”.

Given that Singapore has been continuously governed by the PAP since before Independence, Han Fook Kwang has, in effect, made a most damning indictment of PAP policies and PAP rule.

Having failed to contain the spread of Covid19 in Lockdown 1, PM Lee announced Lockdown 2, in which stay home order became Standard Operational Procedure for all Singaporeans and all non essential businesses and entities such as schools, private clubs as well as home based businesses and virtually every businesses other than those deemed to be essential were shut down.

Notwithstanding this, total infected cases has risen to over 40,000 becoming the highest in South East Asia, until recently surpassed by Indonesia.

Singapore, however,  has one of the lowest death rate per infected persons, at 0.08 as against 2.3 for South Korea, 4.6 for Germany and 6 for the US. 

What is evident is that Lockdown 2 has one single and obsessive focus: to contain and eliminate infection as far as possible, even if it incurred other costs in terms of lives and livelihood and the corresponding negative impact on the economy.

From that perspective, Lockdown 2 is seemingly a great success. On 15th June, new infections has declined to 214 cases. Because of this declining trend, Phase 2 opening has been brought forward to 19th June. Whether this is indeed the case is open to question since, as far as I am aware, there has been no systematic effort mounted to test the community at large.

You may think that reopening the economy is a relatively simple process. Unfortunately this has proven to be anything but. The Hobitsma, a blog posted by a private medical doctor, chronicles the chaos. According to the Hobit, the whole of government approach to fighting the pandemic is a good thing, because no single Ministry has the resources to do it alone. However, his observation is that this approach, when not properly coordinated, provided one obvious drawback: When everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.

This is especially so during the proposed reopening. The Hobit found that when everyone in authority can make rules, they usually do, “but no one is overlooking over their shoulder and giving a helicopter view of what each and every department is doing. The result is that people on the ground are saddled, if not crushed by a mountain of regulations and requirements issued by a myriad of agencies.” 

Those interested can read the bemusing but spot on observations of the Hobit for themselves. 

Large number of Singaporeans and businesses will have experienced the frustrations of trying to make sense of what seemed like an insurmountable obstacle course, more daunting than that faced by contestants in the popular TV series American Ninja Warriors.

From the above account, the only conclusion is that the Multi Ministry Task Force cannot even manage what might seem to be a simple process of reopening the economy. 

So much for the PAP’s vaunted myth that Singapore is governed by the BEST political leaders in the world. 

The Way Forward

When Singapore was booted out of Malaysia, then PM LKY wept in public.

A tiny island  with no natural resources and a population with low income and low skills did not appear to have any prospects for survival, much less of thrivIng in the cold hard world.

LKY and his team however got down to business quickly. To protect the nation, LKY build up the military through National Service which essentially drafted all male Singaporeans at age 18 into the military for a 2 year stint and thereafter to remain in reservist status till age 45.

 As for moving the economy forward, LKY enlisted the services of a little known Dutch economist, Dr Albert Winsemius. Winsemius’ initial conclusion was that Singapore was destined for the gutters. He did notice, however, a tiny ray of hope: Singaporean workers had high aptitude to work in manufacturing industries and Winsemius felt that they ranked among the best in the world in that respect.

The rest, as they say, is history. Singapore set out to attract foreign investments as well as to attract multinational corporations to its shores. From that humble beginning, Singapore climbed the ladder of success. Starting from simple stitching of garments, Singapore has ascended the high valued added ladder that now embrace research and development and manufacture of new high tech products such as biotech and pharmaceuticals. These activities remain as one of the main planks of Singapore’s economy till today.

Going further afield, Singapore is now one of the leaders in developing and testing technologies ifor autonomous vehicles.

Post the Covid19 Pandemic, we are all aware that the world has changed in significant, fundamental and complicated ways. What is certain is that there is no single simple national economic policy that can steer Singapore forward as was the case with LKY and Winsemius.

PM LHL, in one of his recent addresses, has asserted that post the pandemic, Singapore and Singaporeans will emerge better, stronger and more cohesive. 

Global supply chains have been severely disrupted and national governments will want alternative arrangements to guarantee that vital supplies continue uninterrupted. The Singapore brand name, according to PM Lee, will provide Singapore with new opportunities in the new order.  

Whether this will prove to be the case remains to be seen.. 

Global economies have endured a previously unimaginable devastating blow. In the US, the Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now, one of the most accurate forecaster, is predicting, on 1st June, that US economy  in Q2 will contract by 52.8%. In a similar vein, the UK economy contracted by 20.4% in April. 

Much of the world has suffered a similar outcome, to varying degrees. The question is whether such contractions leave permanent open wounds. As an example, US initial unemployment claims exceeded 45 millions. How many of these jobs will permanently disappear? To a large extent, the answer will depend on whether the Covid19 decease will swell with the reopening of shuttered economies.If it does AND it leads to reimposition of lockdown measures, the consequences will be catastrophic.

George Friedman is a renowned analyst and publishes a letter called Geopolitical Futures. On 16th June, he says that that reimposition of sequestration will cause the US to go into  Depression. Friedman is awaiting further developments in the US before giving his verdict. Other pundits such as Dough Casey postulates that the US is already into what he calls the Greater Depression.

The fact that new infestations have suddenly resurfaced in Beijing and other countries is surely an ominous signal to the rest of the world.

Singapore ranks as the number one economy In the world that’s dependent on external trade. Whether the word is in a severe recession or something which morphs into a depression, the  impact on Singapore‘s economy will either be hugely negative or unbelievably devastating.
Until we have a better idea of how things pan out, we have no idea whether Singapore will continue to have a preferred place in the reordered global supply chain.

What is certain is that Intelligent Automation and Artificial Intelligence algorithms have already and will continue to alter the equation for manufacturing, meaning that cost of labour becomes less and less of an issue. This provides a huge incentive for national governments with large domestic markets to relocate manufacturing back into their borders, just to secure uninterrupted supply of vital goods and components.

In an Opinion piece on 19th June, the Straits Times asked if “Singapore can weather this crisis?” The Straits Times point to Singapore’s strength in many of the industries in vanguard of the post Covid world: Pharmaceuticals, bio-sciences, semiconductors, chemical and robotics. Supporting this is a robust digital infrastructure and a skilled workforce. 

The Straits Times reminds us that Singapore has weathered many traumatic crisis in the past. The abrupt withdrawal of British forces in the late 1960s led to 70,000 jobs lost and a 20% contraction in GDP. Singapore also recovered from the oil shocks of the 1970s and 80s as well as the Asian financial crisis In 1997 and the global financial crisis of 2008.

“In short, Singapore is no stranger to crisis”, so says the Straits Times. It concludes that Singapore is better placed to face the Covid(19) crisis better than any that have come and gone before.

Is this a valid conclusion?

Start with the British withdrawal. Although a 20% shrinkages in the economy and the loss of 70,000 jobs was a huge  blow to Singapore it was not even a ripple in the global context. Singaporeans had no choice but to fasten their belts, but external markets remain robust and in due course Singapore recovered and prospered. Even the oil shocks, the Asian financial crisis as well as the global financial crisis of 2008 did not result in the enormity of job losses and economic shrinkages in the global economies.

This time it is truly different How different, we will find out in the months and years ahead.

Singapore’s vaunted strength may or may not see us through, as so confidently prognosticated by the Straight Times.

The construction of T5 at Changi is already deferred for 2 years. It may well be that T5 will no longer be needed in the post Covid(19)world for a very Long time.

The switch to work from home will have ramifying impact on local transport, meal provisions and office space requirements. Anecdotal evidence suggest that productivity improves as well. What percentage will switch to this model and how will the trend develop in the future? How much office space wii become redundant and what impact will this have on commercial property prices? Would a collapse cause problems to the banking sector? What of the impact on the construction sector? How many Low/ semi skilled workers will we need?

With the roll out of 5G, autonomous vehicles become viable, sooner rather than later. When will autonomous vehicles become universally adopted in Singapore? Perhaps the Singaporean experts involved in this project can give us an answer. 

If fully adopted, will we still need car Parks in shopping malls and commercial buildings? What happen to taxi Drivers and truck Drivers? Will door to door transport make MRT redundant?

University of Texas economist James Galbraith explains the dilemma: Post the pandemic, consumer incentive is to save, not spend.

Consumers need to eat, but they don’t need to eat out. They need to travel but they don’t need to travel for pleasure.

What happens to the tourism industry embracing airlines, hotels and restaurants?

Even with deep pockets, how will Singapore Airline survive? How many hotels and  restaurants will be shut down for good?

In the contest between China and the US, which side will Singapore choose when push comes to shove?
Plenty of questions to which we currently do not have answers. If global depression eventuates, not only will Singapore need much fewer foreign workers but this would extend upwards to Include what we now call foreign talent as well. A large scale repatriation of foreign workers will lead to decline in total population.

 At which level will population stabilise? Will it be at 5 million or 4 million? What then happens to residential property prices? 

When we have more answers in the months ahead, my thoughts are that we will need a multi discipline panel of experts drawn from  locally and from around the world to help chart a way forward.

My first nominee for this panel is Jack Ma of Ali Baba. Ma is not only a first generation entrepreneur who has built a mega business empire, but has also aptly demonstrated a deep grasp of social, economic and political issues on a global level. As well, his guanxi in China will be invaluable to Singaporean businesses eying (EYEING ?)

China as a market or a destination for investment.

Ray Kurzweil is an American inventor and futurist. He is an advocate for the futurist and trans humanist movement and is an expert on nanotechnology, robotics and biotechnology. Nor is Kurzweil an ivory tower academic: he has been employed as Director of Engineering at Google since 2012 so he straddles the divide between theory and practice. 

Getting Ma and Kurzweil on the panel will be a coup worth celebrating.

I think we probably do not want more than eight members to this panel to prevent it from getting unwieldy. We must also have two from within Singapore, to Ensure local relevance. I leave it to others to decide the remaining members of this panel. 


In this essay, I set out to demonstrate the inadequacies of PAP rule and PAP policies. 
For PM LKY and his cohort of Pioneer leaders, it was very much an existential issue of securing the survival of Singapore in a cold hard world. LKY and his team took to the task with vigour and fervour and achieved a glittering success beyond expectations.

LKY was, however, a hard man with zero tolerance for dissent. He systematically demolished the opposition and left in place a monolithic power structure now inherited by his successors, to wield as they please. 

Singaporeans benefited from the rule of the old Guards and have a firm conviction that in LKY, we had  an authoritarian Philosopher King of great Wisdoms.

The new 4G leaders inherited the same monolithic power structure, but have neither the steady hands 
of the old guard ministers nor the Wisdom of the Philosopher King. They do not even have the moxie to manage what might might seem to be a mundane reopening of the economy after the pandemic by making a befuddling and inexcusable mess.

WHO DARES WINS is the Challenge I pose to Singaporeans. Will Singaporeans answer this question at the ballot boxes in the next GE in the affirmative?

Or will their Pavlovian reflex take over and they vote as they always have?

We will know very quickly.

One last thought. Circuit Breaker is the moniker devised by th MMTF to distinguish it from what the rest of the world call Lockdown. 

It is absolutely the most inappropriate label to describe what actually happens. The term comes from electrical systems wherein the circuit breaker is hardwired in and forms a vital part of the system. When a defect occurs, the circuit breaker is Automatically tripped to either shutdown the system Partiality or Completely.

The Lockdown of economies round the world and in Singapore is a deliberate policy decision. It is in no way hardwired to society and the economy and there is nothing automatic about its activation. Furthermore there is no circumstance under which society is COMPLETELY shutdown.

Additionally, when the fault is repaired and the system turned back on, it functions at 100% of prior capacity. In the post Pandemic world societies and economies will face a long road ahead to a new normal, well below the Pre Pandemic levels.

This mislabeling is, to my mind, symptomatic of how our leaders have completely misconceived and misunderstood the problems confronting Singapore both before and after the Pandemic. They nevertheless insist on showing how clever they are by devising a label which is laughable in its absurdity.

The PAP leadership is now overdue for a dose of reality and humility.

Chung Sing Yee

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