Friday, 22 February 2013

White Paper propaganda on national TV forum programe

22nd February 2013

If you have been away for 2 months and have not kept up with what has happened in Singapore and you get back to watch this show on Channel 8 yesterday , you will get the impression that most people in Singapore support the White Paper. The programme started by saying that the White Paper by the govt has created plenty of "interest" among Singaporeans. It does not say anything about the anger it has caused and not a word about the biggest protest in Singapore for several decades against the White Paper.  They showed a segment in which every man and woman they interviewed on the street before the show supported the White Paper. The panel consisted of members who generally supported the White Paper with some  concerns such as transport and housing that the govt has already admitted are problems.
Good old fashion propaganda.
The one thing they cannot control unless they cheated was the live online poll that asked the question:
"If there is a reduction in the number of imported workers, will you accept a slowdown in the economy?"  : Vote Yes or No.
92.5% voted "yes" and 7.5% voted "no".
After the results of the poll was announced, Grace Fu did an incredible thing. She reinterpreted the question to mean : |"If there is a reduction in the growth in number of imported workers, will you accept a slowdown in the economy?" and concluded the poll showed that most people agree with the White Paper which proposes a growth in foreign workforce smaller than that of recent years.
Amazing. If most people had voted "no" you can retain the original question and say the people agree to growth in the foreign workforce as proposed by the White Paper in exchange for economic growth. So whether they answered "Yes" or "No", by reinterpreting the question you can choose to conclude that most people agree with the White Paper.
I guess being a minister is not easy because it takes a lot of effort to block out genuine feedback and reinterpret opposing opinions. Of course with an elitist system that build Ivory Towers higher than the Empire State Building, understanding what is happening on the ground is difficult. Pain and frustration is just an abstraction one person away - you may not be able to understand it even if you sit next to the person or talk to him everyday.  Empathy is not so easy...and especially difficult if your mind is cluttered with ideology.
A few days ago, it was report that our income inequality has risen to the highest level (GINI, OECD scale) ever
"For the lowest 20th percentile of employed residents, their real gross monthlyincome rose 0.1 per cent each year from 2002 to 2012 and 2.2 per cent a year from 1996 to 2002." - Incomes at bottom continue to rise, says Chan Chun Sing 
It is incredible denial when a minister says "incomes at the bottom continue to rise" when it has risen an imperceptible 0.1% a year for a decade - if a worker earns $800 a month we are talking about an increase of $0.80 per year. Anyone one else looking at the same numbers will be shocked and asking why the income of 1 in 5 Singaporean workers has been stagnant for 1 decade and what can be done about it - most normal people will say this is not an acceptable outcome and drastic action must be taken. But the minister who is the highest paid minister in the world among his peers doing the same job looks at the same data and has a completely different interpretation.
Singapore is now the 6th most expensive city in the world. It is a really bad place to be earning a low income but we have 450,000 workers with income below $1500 a month and 300,000 earning less than $1000 a month based on data from the CPF Board. How did things get so bad? Year after year they deny there is a real problem and refuse to make fundamental changes to the system. ..that is why we are in such bad state today. 
Source: Lucky Tan on his blog Diary of a Singaporean Mind.

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