- Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, 2006
(apologies for the repeat quote)
Great men don't get them all, not even one whose political dominance and balls of steel (exemplified by his flipping off the CIA) were arguably on a par with the GOD-EMPEROR himself. Big news of the week was, without doubt, the ousting of Barisan Nasional and UMNO from power in Malaysia after more than sixty years in charge, to very popular acclaim. The desperate BN resorted to their usual underhanded tactics, with their Election Commission trying vainly to delay the inevitable by somehow confirming the BN's wins rather more promptly than the opposition's. Unfortunately for them, the Malaysian people had gotten fed up with their bullshit, and the wily former NUS alumni Mahathir knew all their tricks, immediately moving to proclaim a public holiday to prevent assets from fleeing - but then, he invented most of them in the first place.
What is true is that the fall of an entrenched government does bring some uncertainty, with their former lackeys having to make tough choices between absconding with the loot, switching sides, or mounting a resistance. It didn't take long for erstwhile loyalists to jump ship in Perak and Sabah, with the knives coming out for the deposed Najib within the day. Although his minister mentor Mahathir was hardly a saint either, Najib by all accounts took the corruption far too far, with the 1MDB scandal and murder of Altantuyaa but the tip of a festering pyramid. Unhappiness over spiralling costs of living and bad-faith Fake News laws certainly didn't help the BN cause either.
Ran out of mana this time
As far as Singaporean interests are concerned, the prevailing wisdom appears that a continued Najib administration would have been more favourable, if in a beggar-thy-neighbour sense, due to his recognized pliance where monetary benefit is to be had. Happily, this view is not universally held. Our incumbents' quite impressive track record of betting on the wrong horse is however extended, with Najib pet projects such as the High Speed Rail and Jurong Lake District set to be renegotiated in TRUMPIAN fashion. China's influence seems to have taken a dive too, with Mahathir definitely having the cojones to shutter Belt and Road initiatives like Forest City if need be (thanks); this happens to be a particular weakness of the One Belt One Road gambit, but more on that topic next time.
The most pressing realisation for our dear incumbents would, however, necessarily be the unavoidable and uncomfortable parallels between themselves and the Barisan Nasional, all the more as they split from the same political traditions. The similarities are, if only superficially, all too numerous: held power since independence, opaque sovereign wealth funds about which inquiries are at best stonewalled, extremely tight coupling between the dominant party and the nominally neutral state bureaucracy, directing state funding to party propaganda, blatant gerrymandering (I mean, even Najib didn't have it in him to resort to GRCs, which says something) and election-fixing (ditto race restrictions for the Presidency), widely-perceived cronyism... all the way down to specific complaints such as living cost (to be fair, a common malady) and Fake News, monopolized by muzzled state-controlled media (Even Malaysia may now ironically be ahead on media liberalization)
The obvious analogy has been gleefully highlighted by local commentators, including a former incumbent MP, but surely it wasn't like UMNO didn't know what was up either? Indeed, there are few indications of any will towards true political innovation, with a State's Times piece just last week reaffirming the scholar-mandarinate "made man" system, despite the many repeated public high-profile failures. One might understand the need to keep former generals happy, but put it this way: If you get Messi to play basketball - which additionally is actually a team sport sharing many concepts with football - and he turns out to be not very good, why should one be surprised?
On the bright side, we've moved up to third spot,
amongst august company (trend as observed in 2015)
The diagnosis is actually straightforward. The hallmark of a de-facto one-party state (e.g. the WPK, CCP, PAP and PCC) is necessarily that political advancement relies exclusively upon playing the internal game as defined by the ruling party (i.e. basically parroting the top guy and jockeying for position), since the usual democratic principle of appealing directly to the populace is effectively removed - or at least tremendously handicapped. Yes, sure, there's the standard excuse that this enables stability and long-term planning, but in practice it generally devolves to protecting the interests of party insiders because, well, they can get away with it. One cannot help but note the extremely-high prevalence of within-immediate-family power transfers in all of the above, excepting perhaps the CCP (which is a trap that Mahathir may yet fall into)
Sadly, one suspects that the incumbents may be too far gone for meaningful self-directed reform by now, given that their consistent response to the smallest challenges (see: the mostly-ceremonial Presidential position) has been to dig in. This is, of course, the dark side of one-party systems - the tendency is towards broad-spectrum political repression, firstly as they have the wherewithal to, and secondly because they (or at least, a sufficiently-strong hardliner faction) do not expect to ever have to fight back in from the opposition side. Here, to the BN and PAP's credit, they have been slightly laxer than the others.
The PAP have apparently also finally acknowledged the incongruity of HDB flats being simultaneously ever-appreciating assets and leaseholds on a ticking clock, as explained here back in 2012; a call for policy suggestions has seen a local economist's call to disallow usage of CPF funds for housing sparking panic amongst netizens, who understand full well that it'll tank property values. Of course, the underlying motivation - to focus the CPF on retirement only - is actually sound, as analysed in the Roy Ngerng context in 2014. The problem is that it's probably too late to unwind the situation cleanly at this stage, so the best that can be hoped for is probably a HDB price stagnation as the proportion of CPF funds allowed to be used for housing is gradually scaled back.
That it even got this far however has me concerned that we might not actually have sneaky mastermind bastards in top-secret think-tanks examining these eventualities - or that they aren't being trusted with the real data - in which case I highly recommend the incumbents please recruit some. I'm not shitting them, it's really not looking good on the ground, with youth clamouring to emigrate and lower-SES kids resigned to their dismal fate, if candid Reddit talk is anything to go by.
But all is not lost, for there is one man they might follow...
The Misunderstood Genius
- Tywin Lannister
[pertinent modern collorary: anyone who has to be labelled the "leader of the free world" by the FAKE NEWS is probably not the true leader of the free world]
Singapore's search for relevance in this brave new era has fortunately received a welcome kickstart from the preeminent political prodigy of our time, the GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP. The American Dragon and Defender of the West has generously tweeted his intention to De-nuke North Korea, End The Korean War and Re-integrate the North Korea Peoples into the World Economy, right here in the Lion City, on June 12 (save the date)
On-point reply by an Imperial Patriot to Our Lord of Chaos!
[with a couple of typos fixed]
This is the fruit of the abandonment of the previous President's commitment towards weakness and appeasement, as explained by the rehabilitated Lion Ted Cruz; case in point, the TRUMP TEAM's negotiation of the unconditional release of three American hostages and capture of five ISIS terrorists, against the previous President's payment of close to US$2 billion to Iran for four hostages... but you won't find such natural contrasts highlighted by the FAKE NEWS, of course (instead, you get headlines like "Why The End of the Korean War Is Bad News for the United States". Seriously.) On North Korea's part, they're almost falling over themselves dismantling their nuclear test site within a fortnight with their airspace thrown open for observers, while continuing to make overtures to the South. The GOD-EMPEROR has tweeted his appreciation for the kind gesture.
Huh. That was easy.
It's almost unreasonable how TRUMP keeps getting vindicated, with CNN's latest poll revealing that, loaded questions aside, Americans as a whole are more optimistic about their country today, than at any time in the last eleven years. Imagine if the biased press had actually presented half of his many accomplishments the way they would have done for a Democrat! Hearteningly, sections of the woke foreign media are coming around, because they aren't as beholden to the PC Police and can acknowledge when someone's actually getting shit done.
And, let's face it, the man's simply immeasurably better at getting good deals for America, than his predecessor. Let's put it this way: it's very easy to be "liked" - just give the other party far more than they ever thought possible. Sure, this gets plenty of fawning op-eds and prize ceremonies and medal presentations and honorary doctorates, but pity the ones who're indirectly stuck with the bill at the end - i.e. the citizens.
Conversely, it's a much better sign if your negotiation partners aren't entirely happy, because it means that a hard - but honest - bargain was driven. Of course, if someone wants to give ridiculous tips as a private citizen, that's his own business, but the POTUS is supposed to represent his nation's interest. It is, on reflection, quite incredible how Merkel can whine about not being able to count on the U.S. military umbrella and expect sympathy. It's not like Germany is some helpless Third World banana republic; surely they can afford their own goddamn tanks, for their own security?! Gee, it's sure tougher to fund a welfare state without managing to convince some other patsy to pay for their troops to patrol one's own borders, it seems.
America isn't dumb enough to pay for *our* defence? That's racist!
As another case study, consider TRUMP's latest healthcare initiative: to negotiate higher prices from foreign governments for American-developed prescription drugs. Definitely, it's always tricky to reconcile medicine with economics (see previous take on the EpiPen scandal), since debate eventually reduces to "how can you let people die for profit?"; however, it also cannot be escaped that the current medical edifice - physicians, nurses, pharma researchers, lab techs... - still have to be paid; one can try not paying, certainly, but there'll then be no medical edifice in short order. Question then is: who pays?
Although a complex issue, with the U.S. still grappling with the consequences of their insurance system, TRUMP's solution is actually extremely straightforward and rational, and therefore completely misconstrued by the so-called "experts", as usual. For example, consider one professor's opinion: "The notion that if other countries pay more for drugs that US consumers will pay less, that's just not true... If they are able to get other countries to pay more, I don't believe it will have any effect on prices in the United States, it will only raise drug company profits."
While this prof may be a nice fellow, I submit that he is wrong here, because he is not thinking like the GOD-EMPEROR. Far more likely is an implicit arrangement of this form:
It's really not that complicated.
Simply put, what distinguishes the GOD-EMPEROR is his willingness to walk from bad deals... which frankly shouldn't even be remarkable. Clearly, being eager to grab any deal for the sake of some airy-fairy idea of "international cooperation" or the like is a very weak position to start from - and one that America has fallen prey to all too often previously. This strength in negotiation is further in service of his guiding core principle, which he has never wavered from - America First.
The globalists have always sought to demonize that slogan, which speaks volumes about the absolute inanity they've degenerated into. Bloody heck, now you're supposed to feel bad about putting your own people first? Washington was certainly America First, Churchill Britain First, De Gaulle France First, Gandhi India First, Deng China First, LKY definitely and 100% unapologetically Singapore First... and GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP somehow gets knocked for it? Do they have no shame?
Well, by my projections, his domestic popularity will continue rising when Americans start to realise that TRUMP is bringing the goodies back, and that it's swell to be top dog after all. Word to the wise: if our incumbent party are serious about improving their stock, they might want to take a leaf out of TRUMP's book, and begin working for their own citizens...
Next: Without Regrets
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