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Wednesday, February 22, 2006 

Part II: True Founders of Singapore
The Man Who Made PAP & The Man Who Made Singapore:
Story of Dr Toh Chin Chye and Dr Goh Keng Swee

For the past month, I was pleasantly surprised by the word of encourage and the positive feedback on the Part I: History and Founding of PAP. I thank all comments and emails that I have received and glad that you all found it interesting. History, to most students, is never as exciting when in the syllabus. In the end, history covers only winners from battles and is told by those won it. But if history has a life of its own, it might be told from a different perspective, a perspective that I hope to tell.

I was sitting in a bus yesterday, reading some printed articles on Dr Toh Chin Chye and Dr Goh Keng Swee (I’m probably the only blogger that does his “homework”) before writing this article, when I saw a secondary school girl holding a History textbook on the founding of Singapore. I wonder to myself, how different is the textbook (portraying the glorified history of PAP) and how much it differs from reality? Would the textbook ever said about the “Man Who Made PAP: Dr Toh Chin Chye” or the “Man Who Made Singapore: Dr Goh Keng Swee”? In the end, textbooks are made to be student-friendly and revolve around one leader and one story from one perspective. In rewriting this history, I hope to “popularize” history via the medium of blogs, not to increase the traffic flow of this blog but to tell a more complete history. So, I’ll do my research and lengthy readings in hopes that people would read the forgotten history of us.

Dr Toh Chin Chye: The Man Who Made PAP
How can we say, who contributed more? Without Dr Toh holding the fort in the PAP, we might never have held the Party together.”
Lee Kuan Yew, Valedictory Dinner, 22 August 1981.

Dr Toh was the founding Chairman of the PAP in 1954. In 1959, he was the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore and then in 1968, Minister of Science and Technology, Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Singapore, and in 1976, Minister for Health and Education. He left the Cabinet in 1980 but remained as the MP for Rochore. He was a vocal backbencher until 1988, when he retired from politics.

To many Singaporeans, either they have never heard of Dr Toh Chin Chye or only remembered his as one of the Deputy Ministers to Lee Kuan Yew. While the Party was in turmoil, Dr Toh held the PAP together. In two occasions, then-PM Lee Kuan Yew offered his resignation and Dr Toh could have chance upon it and made himself the Prime Minister. For the better good and stability of the Party and Singapore, Dr Toh rejected the proposal and threw his support behind Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore’s success is NEVER and NOT by chance or the miracles of one man. It is the sweat, blood and effort of talent men, like Dr Toh and Dr Goh, who served and toiled for Singapore not for their own fame and fortune but for Singaporeans.

Humble Beginnings of the Indomitable Fighter
Dr Toh was born in Batu Gajah, near Taiping, Perak in 1921. Like the best and brightest of his generation, he pursued his studies at Raffles College, Singapore. He was Lee Kuan Yew’s senior but they never knew each other then. Before he could further his studies overseas, the Japanese war broke out. During this period, Dr Toh first became a hawker assistant and grew potatoes and tapioca for his own survival. The Japanese Occupation changed his perspective, political outlook and was awakened to the injustice of colonial society.

While in London as a student from 1949 to 1953, he led the anti-colonial group of Malayan students known as Malayan Forum. The Forum provided a place for native nationalists to debate and to examine the future of Malaya. Before returning to Singapore, Goh Keng Swee, the then chairman of the Forum, nominated Toh to succeed him.

In his early years, he was very much a socialist and close friend of Dr Goh Keng Swee during his days in London. Together, they took up the political cause and came back to Singapore in 1953. Later, Dr Goh, Kenny Byrne and Dr Toh formed the Council for Joint Action with Lee Kuan Yew as the legal advisor. That was how LKY got involved in union politics. During then, LKY was also the legal advisor to Samad Ismail (editor of Utusan Melayu and ex-detainee), Lim Chin Siong and Devan Nair. The few of them would always meet in the “basement” of LKY’s house but with special attention from the “Special Branch” (old version of ISD), they would always be watched and risk being detained without trial. Toh did not belong to the first wave of founding members who met at LKY’s house; he was still in England when the “basement group” first met. However, after Dr Toh joined the group, it was Dr Toh who proposed the formation of an open and legal political party to champion the cause of nationalism and independence of Malaya.

Founding of PAP
Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened to our basement group had I not pushed for it to register as a political party. What is I had not come back to Singapore? You know, in 1953, I was advised to go to USA to continue my research. If I had gone that route, would anyone have started the PAP? Would the basement crowd have remained in Kuan Yew’s house? Would it have come together at all?” – Dr Toh Chin Chye.

To avoid complications such as being arrested by the Special Branch they formed a political party and registering as a society. Initially, the “Action Party” was coined and later, they added the word “People” into it. The word “Action” reminded Dr Toh of a lightning symbol and with other suggestions thrown in; the famous logo of PAP was born.

The “Chairman”

With the formation of the PAP, Dr Toh was appointed Chairman of the Party. During the 1950s, as the Chairman of the PAP, he led the PAP during its critical internal struggles between Left and Right. In 1957, the “communist (subjective on whether they are communist or not)” have taken over the Central Executive Committee. Dr Toh, Dr Goh and LKY lost control over the party. The old party constitutions provided for an Annual Congress, where every party member could attend the meeting and speak up, as well as vote for the CEC. At the Badminton Hall, where the Annual Congress was held, the place was filled with all sorts of people: Left Wing unionist, maybe people from the Special Branch and even Devan Nair’s sister was there.

After the Congress, Dr Toh asked LKY and Ong Pang Boon to stay behind and said, “We must have a cadres system. We cannot go on admitting people as ordinary members who can overthrow the CEC just like that!” In the end, T.T. Rajah took over as Party Secretary-General and his Left Wing crowd took over the whole CEC. But after then Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock clamed down on the riots and communist, many of them were under detention under the Emergency regulations and Dr Toh and LKY took over the party. Then, they brought in the Cadres system, system which the PAP adopts even until today.

Unquestioned Loyalty to LKY
When PAP won the elections in 1959, it did not mean that Lee Kuan Yew, PAP Secretary-General would be automatically become the Prime Minister. There were two candidates for that post: Ong Eng Guan, the popular and charismatic mayor of Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew. The PAP’s CEC held a vote to pick its Prime Minister, but there was an even split and thus a deadlock. Toh, as Chairman, held the casting vote, threw his support behind LKY and broke the impasse. If Toh has voted differently, LKY would not have become PM in 1959 and the history of Singapore and Malaysia would have turned out very differently.

In 1961, PAP suffered a traumatic party split. On June 1961, Lim Chin Siong wrote to Dr Toh, demanding the release of their Left Wing political colleagues. PAP could not agree to this with their prior agreements with the British. The beginning of the split between Left and Right was the Anson By-elections on July 1961. The Left demanded “internal democracy in the PAP” and the release of all political prisoners from detention. They were refused. The Left then threw their support to the rival candidate, David Marshall and he won.

The final split came just few days later in the Legislative Assembly. Thirteen Left Wing PAP Assemblymen abstained from voting with the party line. They were dismissed from the PAP. In August 1961, they formed a rival party, the Barisan Sosialis, led by Dr Lee Siew Choh and Lim Chin Siong. They took 35 branch committees, 19 of the 23 organizing secretaries and an estimated 80 percent of the membership. PAP under LKY was a mere shell, according to Dr Lee. Both Dr Goh Keng Swee and Lee Kuan Yew were devastated and thought that it is the end of the PAP. But on man never gave up the fight as Dr Goh recalled the following conversation with Toh Chin Chye:

Toh: Why are you staring at the ceiling?
Goh: Do sit down, Chin Chye, we are all busted; the party secretaries, the PA (People’s Association), the organizing secretaries, the Work Brigade. I know the communists were organizationally much stronger than us. But I didn’t expect us smashed up like this in just a week.
Toh: I just come from Harry’s office. He was staring at the ceiling just like you did. You should snap out of this mood. The fighting has just begun. It is going to be long and nasty. But if we keep wringing our hands in anguish we are sure to lose. We should start thinking immediately of our next moves – how to rebuild the Party, rally the loyal Party members and how to carry the fight into the enemy camp.

A fight that Dr Toh would not shy away from, Dr Toh chose the most difficult of constituencies to contest and fought head on. In September 1963, he presided over the PAP’s historic election victory over the breakaway Barisan Sosialis. Rather than opting for a safer seat, Dr Toh chose to stand in Rochore constituency, a tough Chinese working-class area and a natural constituency for the Left-wing Barisan Sosialist Party. To add to his challenge, he was to face a formidable opponent, the Chairman of Barisan Sosialist, Dr Lee Siew Choh. In the hotly contested electoral battle, Dr Toh defeated the Chairman of Barisan Sosialist, Dr Lee Siew Choh, by the slimmest Election margin of just 89 votes.

Lee Kuan Yew’s Resignation
On at least two occasions, Toh Chin Chye’s name was floated as an alternative Prime Minister to LKY. In 1961, they lost two successive by-elections to Ong Eng Guan and David Marshall. On 17 July 1961, Lee Kuan Yew wrote a letter to Dr Toh, Chairman of the CEC. He wrote that the trade unions, the Middle Road Crowd wanted him to resign and they wanted Dr Toh to take over as the Prime Minister. Dr Toh read the letter to all the Cabinet Ministers and CEC members during a Cabinet meeting. All who were present were stunned. Yong Nyuk Lin asked Dr Toh, “Should we accept his resignation?” Dr Toh replied, “No,” because it will divide the government and it will appear to the people of Singapore that they are being unsteady. So they declined the resignation. Dr Toh could very well make himself as the Prime Minister, but he didn’t.

In 1964, in the aftermath of race riots in Singapore and Malaysia, LKY offered again to resign as PM in an attempt to ease the strained relations between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. In the wake of certain extremist demands from UMNO (United Malays National Organization) to arrest LKY for the ostensible reason of preventing him from causing more political and ethnic tension within Malaysia, Dr Toh and his comrades stood by LKY. If LKY was arrested and detained without trial, Dr Toh or Dr Goh might have been the next logical choice to become PM of Singapore. Dr Toh’s support and ability to rally members behind LKY probably prevented the Malaysian government from arresting LKY.

Singapore’s Separation From Toh Chin Chye’s Perspective
By 1964 and 1965, tension between Malaysia and Singapore was mounting but both Dr Toh and S. Rajaratnam opposed the separation. Apparently, LKY anticipated Toh and Raja’s reluctance to sign the separation agreement and did not inform them of the discussion of Singapore’s secession in K.L. According to Dr Toh, LKY ensured that Rajaratnam and he did not travel together from Singapore to see him in K.L. This was a shrewd move to make sure that the men would not collude to reject separation.

In the middle of the night of 20th July 1965, LKY called Dr Toh and asked him to drive to K.L. When he was in Sri Temasek, K.L., LKY told him of the news and was later joined by Rajaratnam and Ong Pang Boon. Dr Toh stayed behind in K.L. while LKY returned to Singapore to announce to the public. LKY asked Dr Toh to attend the Malaysian Parliament the next day. It was an unenviable task to face the uproar by the members of the Malaysian Solidarity Convention (a coalition of opposition parties formed by Dr Toh to compete the Elections in Malaysia for a “Malaysian Malaysia” – equal rights regardless of ethnicity). With LKY devastated over the separation and tearing on national television (and later seek solace in Changi Villa), Dr Toh and other Minister held the fort. Opposition members demanded Dr Toh for a parliament seating but was only able to recommence on December 1965. The crucial stabilizing role that Dr Toh played after the separation could not be under-estimated.

The Iron Chancellor and Nation Builder
After Singapore’s independence in 1965, Dr Toh was DPM, Minister for Science and Technology, and Minister for Health. He chaired the Singapore Polytechnic and was Vice-Chancellor (VC) for the new University of Singapore (SU). Many had underestimated his role as the Vice Chancellor of SU. In many underdeveloped countries like Singapore, they faced the same problem of managing conflicting goals of promoting education in universities yet managing social unrest and instability caused by student leaders in these universities. Thus, Dr Toh’s appointment as VC was crucial to maintain political stability.

At SU, the VC quickly acquired a reputation of being a ruthless autocrat. This was largely due to his single-mindedness in attaining his academic reforms and furthering national goals of economic development. The amount of work which Dr Toh did, and the decisive and speedy way in which he did it, can only be described as Napoleonic. He inspected every division of the campus with an eye to efficiency and productivity. He had a strategic plan, which was to bring all the divisions he dealt with together in a totally new and spaciously adequate campus (Kent Ridge, present day NUS Campus). Dr Toh believed that, was he not autocratic, things would never get done and the university would never have been reformed.

Iron Fist against Student Riots
Despite Toh’s reputation as a tough VC, he had problems with radical students at SU. In 1974, the campus was rocked by student unrest. This took place just before Tan Wah Piow, the president of University of Singapore Students’ Union (USSU), was to appear in a district court on charges of rioting. In December that year, immigration officers accompanied by riot police conducted a pre-dawn raid at the university campus in Bukit Timah Road. They caught and deported six students who were active in the USSU.

The detentions triggered off student protests, boycott of lectures and approximately 2000 students, out of a total of 7500 enrolment, turned up for a two-hour student rally against the arrest. This was the largest student demonstration in Singapore’s history. However, Toh avoided further punitive action against the dissenters and simply allowed the protests to peter out.

Nonetheless, the contribution by Dr Toh to the tertiary education was significant and positive. He set in place a university that contributes rather than hinders Singapore’s growth. Today, the shape and success of NUS and NTU bears Dr Toh’s imprints.

No “Dumb Cow”: Dr Toh the Vocal Backbencher
After leaving the Cabinet under the LKY’s renewal and infusion of new blood policy, Dr Toh became a PAP backbencher (meaning he step down as a Minister to become only a Member of Parliament). Dr Toh was openly critical of certain public policies which he deemed to be unsound and later, became one of the most vocal and critical MP against the PAP. Many suggested that his critical stance towards the ruling party was a case of “sour grapes” from losing his position as a Minister as well as unceremonious exit but this argument was unfounded. In fact, when he was in Cabinet, LKY identified Dr Toh as a Minister who sometimes would disagree with him over the matters of principles and policies. In the old political saying, “you are where you sit” and as a backbencher, Dr Toh felt that he was no longer constrained by the principle of collective responsibility as a Cabinet Minister is expected to defend. Rather, he chose to exercise the responsibility of a backbencher to question policies that he considers faulty. He famously said, “In this last term, I hope I will be of public service and not a wallflower in the chamber of parliament of a dumb cow.

One reason for his confidence in speaking against the government was his solid bastion in Rochore constituency. Some speculated that he might quit the PAP and run as an independent candidate (for which he stands a high chance of winning his ward), but we would never know and he would never had that chance. In 1988, Rochore Constituency disappeared from the political map after the redrawing of electoral boundaries.

Final Message to the Singaporean Youths
In a rare public interview in 1997 Radio Corporation of Singapore, Dr Toh passionately bemoaned the lack of idealism and creativity among the young and its implications for the future of Singapore. He said:

“I would say the generation of the ‘50s and ‘60s took the plunge into politics without ever calculating the costs of the risk and the benefits to be gained. They were driven by ideology. Today’s generation has no culture and averse to taking political risk. Really, an interest in politics is very necessary for the future. But I cannot blame the present generations, because they see the heavy-handed response by the government to dissenting views, even though they know that these matters involve their daily lives.

So the result is that we have produced a younger generation who are meek and therefore very calculating. They are less independent-thinking and lack in initiative. It does not bode well for the emergence of future leaders in politics and business. Robots and computers can be programmed or if you like, can be trained. But the trouble, of course, is that computers lack soul and what we need in Singapore is soul. Because it is soul that makes society.”

His words are aptly prophetic to our present society. Are we a soulless society? Maybe we are, but it is heartening to see great men like Dr Toh Chin Chye made passionate dreams for Singapore. Both in the development and building of modern Singapore, Dr Toh was instrumental in making the Singapore we know today. Dr Toh is truly one of the founders of Singapore.

If you ever had the patience to read this final sentence, you would guess that this article is too lengthy to include the story on Dr Goh Keng Swee. Thus, I would write it separately in the later weeks.

Source: Leaders of Singapore, by Melanie Chew (1996) and Lee's Lieutenants : Singapore Old Guard: by ER Lam Peng (2000) . Photos are available at National Archives, public domain. Not for reproduction.

I must admit I only know about the 'Action Party', without the 'People'.

In a way, luckily he isn't born in the late 70s... :D

MM is a rather defensive, or realist sort of person who could at times find it difficult to identify who's the friend and who's not.

I guess Mr Lee was playing safe and trying to consolidate himself, and then the age of technocrats arrived... And Mr Toh stepped into the backstage.

I suppose Dr Tony is the very few MM feels safe with.

Just my 2cts.

When asked in Leaders of Singapore if the PAP used the communist bogey to justify the arrests of leftists in the sixties, Dr Toh replied "Yes!"

I believe no such admission has ever been made by a PAP old guard.

Execellent work! Great pics!

Hi Elfred

Yes, I think Dr Toh might have problems "adapting" to the era of the 70s.

MM also stated that he wanted Tony Tan to take over him, but the rest felt Goh Chok Tong should be the one. It is always a worry to leaders on transitions and consolidation. MM covered his back very well in this aspect.

Hi Martyn
Thanks for your comments. Whether physically in or not, when you are with the Party, you have to toll the Party Lines. It was never a written agreement or command, but just an act of loyalty. For the Old Guards, it is the matter of defending their beliefs to the very end.


Thrasy I think you work too hard, it should be 'toe party line', not 'toll'.

ur blog has attracted ppl tht u shld nt attract n sporeans would nt vote for them cos........

so some ppl r saying the leftists shld nt be arrested naive stupid !!!!

Excellent blog!!! i love your history posts. would love to read more of them. great insights!

Hi Ted


Hi Amatu

Thanks for your appreciation.



I never takes a politician's word on face value. Whichever, the case MM is a suspicious and rather insecure man who cannot tell personalities well, which means he moves by instincts. I suppose Mr Toh had become too... sensational for him and naturally he moved in.

He trusted Dr Tony, but instinct told him to hedge his risk cos who knows if Dr Tony hid his ambitions well. :D

But it is quite true he covered his back well, precisely so because the quality of Singapore then and now in politics has never been good. Which is also a distinctive feature of him to rely exceedingly on systems and technocrats. I can't blame him for that, but this can't go on for his son in this new era. His son would need to tell a friend and a foe and expertly relates to good political elements outside rigid systemic approach... which is a skill in which he apparently has shown not to process.

Which means trouble, if I may be allowed to comment so.

Luckily... MM does open his ears and listen. But... (sigh) other then figures and statistics, he'd regards others as noises.


I suppose you should be a bit mature to be so excited about such 'exposure/revelation' by Dr Toh, or even MM Lee himself.

There are many things for one to 'see' if you can and you'd find such news uninteresting or plain. Politics is no X-ray session. Which is why many simple things are excitement to some, but to some they end up nice bullets and excalibres in political debates and such. Once you appreciate the gem in the ore, there is nothing exciting about the ore itself.

I err... well known to be blunt, and straight forward, so pardon me.

Mr T,

If you care to do something to this 'all is not well' situation in the election after this... maybe we can team up for a GRC, ie. if you haven't got a team already. :D

If none of us can evacuate, I suppose this is the one thing people like ourselves should be consider doing.

It's hi-time to end those chit-chattings in the parliament, and show the world Singapore's standards ain't just that.

Stay in touch then.

I read with interest your blog. I like to add that during the struggle for power between the leftists and the rightists, Mr. Ong Eng Guan, the then Treasurer, lost his seat in the CEC at the Annual Congress in 1957. Feeling disappointed, the rightists led by Dr. Toh Chin Chye opted not to hold any office in the CEC; and the leftists assumed control of the CEC with one Mr. Chan or Mr. Tan being appointed the Chairman; and Mr. T.T. Rajah, the Secretary-General. A few months later, the Chairman and the leftists in the CEC, except Mr. T.T. Rajah, were arrested. Mr. Rajah subsequently resigned from his post and the CEC.The Rightists finally regained control of the party again.

Some of the facts relating to this part of your story are wrong. Please check the records at your end and let me have your comments. Thanks.

Hi Socaps

The incident you mentioned was partly cover in Part I. Yes, several members lost their seats during the Annual Congress which caused by the inflitration by the leftist.

I wrote it according to source given at the end of the story. So perhaps you might want to let me know of your source for me to double check on the validity. From the part you mentioned, I do not see any contradictions.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thank you for responding to my comments. The events that I mentioned are based on my personal memory. I am certain that Mr. T.T. Rajah was never the Chairman of PAP. He was the Secretaty-General. This fact should be put right. How I wish if you will double check it with some of the Old Guards of the PAP like Dr. Toh, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Mr. Ong Pang Boon. However, I enjoy reading your blogs to relive my memory. Regards.

Mr T,

By the election after this, you'd probably hit 30s. Hahaha...

I'd be about over 30s as well.

As you posted... if with Toh, what will happen to the basement group if they never registered a party?

They'd probably said the same thing: Aiyah... talk talk only, not material lah... look at Tan Siew Sin! How to win??? MCA smashed a small toe at us, die lah!

Emm... Put it this way, got people, we push a bit. I suppose MM would also hope another 'basement' group rise from somewhere. Otherwise, his Singapore would be such a letdown without such elements in his time...

So, if you and anyone you come across who is good, let us make a couple of attempts. It'd be much better for PAP itself if PAP crushes someday than to have opportunists enter for the day.

Let's be realistic... you got your interest I have got the core, or you think the issues will suddenly go away by itself? O' come on...

You're hoping for a miracle, which comes most likely if PAP is believing in miracles. Obviously, it's not, sorta.

You have gone through so much history... you should learn something: if it's not for a certain something to turn the events, it's gone.

We might be the something, no matter how slight we look now.

Think about it. We are not against PAP, this is for this sorry island which I can't evacuate...

Young... You think Mr LKY started politics when he's 40yo? Come on. Good politicians, Mr T, should be in their rightful places.

Otherwise, it's sufferings and decline.

See you around.

Hi Socap

You might be right, though I haven't got a chance to double check on the book. Nonetheless, point taken and I've amended it accordingly.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

There is needless to hence accept a decline, and do nothing about it even if your mentor is from PAP or otherwise.

I clearly doubt your stated belief as sincere because there is no way to meaningfully serve people in a decline without power. Without power, you'd be taken as a joke, as an entertainment, and even the people you wanna serve will mock at you.

If the basement group simply just go around organising hoo-haa events for Singapore and MCA took over, how'd it serve any Singaporean?

There are certain services that cannot be offered on plans or in ink. Politics is one.

What I am offering or asking of fellow men and women is don't just waste the interest, and let's team up and do something about the craps going on.

Serving the people isn't just powerlessly staring on as the ship sinks. We'd need power to lift it up again.

I have little interest to know who your mentor is. But I hope he taught you the realistic things on politics. The kindest angel is just trash if he/she is not in heaven when he/she belongs.

Have a wonderful weekend ahead as well... Wish me luck in this week's job hunting.

If I can't do anything to this ship, I'd hope I can evacuate in time. :)

And all the best.



with regards to your 'unmaterial' comment, it's alright, a saying that have been around for some time goes like this;

"If you are below 30 and not a communist, you've got no heart, if you are above 30 and not a capitalist, you've got no brains"

You still have 5 years.


Hi Elfred

In the first place, I never believe in sinking a ship just because things are not functioning well. In essence, I think the ship is still in health condition despite some errors. Of course, in serving in certain roles, you need power, but motivating force needs to the be to serve before leading.

Probably, more than ever, I've learned to be realist and a pragmatist. Ideas and ideologies would be nothing if stomachs are not filled. Comparatively, I think our govt has done a relative decent job compared to other countries.

But I truly hope, that you wouldn't abandon the ship just because your segment is not running well. Best of luck for your job hunt.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Quick typing and many typo and expressions issues up with the posting. Please don't mind...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Hi Elfred

Sorry for taking so long to reply to you. I've been only sleep 3 hours a day due all my work load, and even with only 3hrs of sleep a day, my work still piles up endlessly.

If there is something I take pride in (for this blog), is the constructive and sensible dialogue on any political issues to anyone. I might be very wrong to say this, but I can't help but to feel a certain angst in your comments. Again, I stand to be corrected. If I am wrong is saying that, I apologize.

I've spent a good part of my time with the so-called "bottom strata of society", the poor, the needy, the angry, you name it. Likewise, I have seen the same strata of other countries in South-East Asia and many Singaporeans don't know how fortunate we are. Compared to the other countries, the local "bottom strata" is much well-off then those I've met in so-called developed countries. This is just economic aspect. But I think you are more concerned about the mental aspect

I think a lot of what you said, has nothing to do with my mentor or my writings. It is two different matters. He doesn't tell me what is politics, what to see, what to learn, what to believe or even influence any of my thoughts. His unassuming character simply doesn't allows it. As much as I criticise the govt in front of him, I ensure that I am not arguing for the sake of opposing. In some ways, no one can influence my thoughts and everyone can influence my thoughts. I choose to believe what I see, and in part, I am molded by people around me and even by you.

Spending a good part of my life in understanding political science, goverance, philosophy and all the theorically stuff, I ensure that I would not be irrelevant with all theories but not practicals. In return, I spent my time with radical political scientists, the so-called educated, anarchist within my community, angry youths...but politics is not about you or me. Simply, how many would be motivated by your cause and ideologue? Never blind ourselves to our own. I am sure you will not as well.

Well, from your comments, you have pointed out many times "all is not well", so may I just ask, what is explicitly not well and what is your proposed solution? I ask that in all sincerity. Seeing the very bottom of our society, seeing other countries both developed and developing, seeing the top of societies, I need to differentiate between my perception and yours. And that yours would not be blinded by your own situation. Should readers of your comment can't relate to or understand your cause and proposed solution, would anyone buy it?

Yes, men are selfish and many times, we should. We are quick to blame, slow to offer solutions. Governments are not almighty, and dictate market pays. For the past years, my mother has been trying hard to find a job. My father is struggling in his business. It is easy for us to blame, blame, blame. Now, you tell me whether I have more reasons to blame the govt than you? Maybe yes maybe not. Solution is not to blame but to understand. The world doesn't spin on you, doesn't mean that it stops spinning on others.

Hope you don't find my comment offensive in anyway. Seeing you speak your heart out, I have to speak mine as well. I believe in being sincere in my words and not empty sentences of anger or praise. Assume that you are job hunting at the moment. If you are willing, I am most willing to help as well (drop me an email?). Of course, I never believe in empty words and you don't have to believe me as well.

If you thinking I'm mouth piece of my mentor, you are dead wrong. He is regarded as my mentor by his actions not words. If the country is filled with zombies, then bring a soul into them.

Good luck and sorry for the length and frank comments. I am sure you will do the likewise as well.


Sigh... It's a regret you insist that my concern is of ideologue in nature...

You also mentioned all is not so well, T, but you have not mentioned exactly what. Whichever the case, I do know what ain't well. Collectively, the governance is not well. And I have said so.

I have been to other nations as well, and not to mention people have generally visited Johor and seen for themselves certain issues.

But let's not forget that this is Singapore, and this is Singapore where you seemingly won't find leaders apt enough and without needing grossly higher pay to perform as such you compare to lousier states and cities as that Mickey Mouse administration. There are poor out there, trying to break out of poverty themselves by going all the grey areas under more corrupted regimes. But there have their chances, and they face the fact that their administration sucks big time.

Not to mention, talents flourished overseas in many parts of the world without such high rate of education, the kiasu flight to rankings and so on to the point that we even plead them to come while wasting huge human and material resources along the way.

The poor is poor. But the poor here face high cost, stuckar meritocratic system which produce junks and huge bureacratic stuckar systems, and there are left on their own 'to be independent' with meagre and insufficient social assistance.

Yes. There are plenty of social committees and such but of what use? There is no such thing that it is better to be poor in Singapore than other parts of the world... that's rubbish, T.

And it is nosense I am only concern about the mental part. When President Ong was around, exploited workers got a leader to fight for their concerns. That's nothing mental about this, but of leadership and governance. And now, we have lost the champion for good and in place is an NTUC daydreaming of getting listed. Does this sound 'mental' to you?

I do not know how your influence you, T. My mentors would 'Just get things changed when you are ready'.

That's realist, and pragmatic.

You got your problems, and you have every reason to blame the government, but I am telling you this: Do something about it.

There were skunks after my puny existence in NS, don't mind telling you that, and I'd do anything just to get off.

It's the same. You know your mum is struggling, your dad is struggling and are you going to see and do nothing? Is this good governance and teaching/influence by your mentor?

It is not blinded by my own situation or what, T. And I have no intention on explaining the workings of solutions especially in the way of business plans. If you are politically viable, you'd consider joining, and if you are not, it's just asking on my side. That's plainly so.

So far, yes. There are people who buy it, and that's a majority of times (outside internet). If you realise the Singaporean mentality, pitching them (the neutral ones) for a course when there is a direction is not hard at all.

You are wrong, T... Politics is precisely about you and me. If I were to make everyone who have been passing by the fallen man and turned blind eyes to him at SICC leaders in charge of your life, you mother's, your father's, and have Durai to run your banks, do you think you can still say politics is not about you and me?

If I get Sgt Hu drown and yaya about it, is it only Sgt Hu's own problem and not Sgt T?

I really don't know how you have come to understand politics as such. You see, but you don't understand. T, facts of the past and now will be nothing if political wisdom cannot be obtained.

Let me illustrate here. I have never read Rajaratnam's comment about MM's hope to left a good history of himself. (something like that.) But I do know MM is quite concern about what history would mention of him even when he was reported not to be.

Am I Rajaratnam? Has I heard or talked to MM as he did? How would I know MM the way Rajaratnam would?

T, understand this, only political thinkers can bring in the soul. You would have to progress beyond being a political scholar. There are many things, especially politics, that the twist of events cannot be quantified and pricked on what Wolong and Martyn would try to list by each and every grivances, unacceptable problems and such.

You have indeed venture into irrelevance somehow. Many people cover politics by going through all the major theories and philosophies and consider themselves good in political science. But politics is no science, T. And from where would the philosopies, governance examples, theories and such come from?

Do you mean those chinese political thinkers are thinkers because they have covered all of mencious, confucius, Da Xue and all...? No!

I have tons of books, texts, materials as well. And I must admit I don't bother too much with the text book theories and so by Andrew Heywood. But there's no stopping me from telling you 'all is not well'. See?

What if Singapore last 1,500 years with such precise recording technology now? Are you going to take 30 man years just to write a political article assessing a policy of any year...?

I am not exactly finding you offensive cos that's how constructive discussion is to be. I am just disappointed about your 'appreciation' of politics.

I am indeed looking for a job, cos I'd need monies to evacuate. If needs be, I'd need your help and I'd call upon you. Thanks.

But go through my postings... and refrain from seeking solutions and explicit things, cos if you do that, you should have asked MM what is the explicit reason for his relation with Malaysia back in the 60s, and what were the solutions. So, has things turn out his way?

He's gone through most of his political life... he should know what I am driving at, and you should get his answers.

Nothing is explicit in politics. And there is no such things as focusing on solutions. PAP has come up with tons of solutions (ideas etc), but so? So has SDP, WP, SPP... but so?

We have years of churning out graduates and such from political science faculty of NUS... But so?

But so?

Look at the most recent parliament debates, and see for yourself. Look at people not only of myself. Look at various facets in Singapore from top to bottom.


And MM is still around. So?

Do you understand what I am driving at, T?

No worry, just heathy discussion.

But I'd still curse your mentor, and his actions, if I can't evacuate in good time. :D

Hello ppl,

I've got to agree with elfred. The problem lies in singaporeans looking in the governments perspective instead of their own. Eg. like sg is small, land is scarce which gave HDB the justification to raise the price of flats when it was build with taxpayer's money! They claimed we are given subsidiaries but when the price are raised with a high profit margin and subsidies given deducting only like 5-10% of the profit margin, do you still consider it as subsidies? And why should a stat board making a profit? And how are the profit used?

The reason why singaporeans arent complaining because our basic needs are satisfy. according to maslow hierarchy of needs, the lowest of it, physiological needs: food, water, housing are fufilled, hence we are contented. Our neighbours arent unable to satisfy these needs which is why we can count ourselves bless, but what if our neighbours are at a level higher than us? do you still count ourselves bless or lucky?

Here is a quote i like to take from Aung san, "Some of us have been going still, consciously or unconsciously, about the same old way of “dirty” politics. But is politics really “dirty”? Certainly not. It is not politics which is dirty, but rather the persons who choose to dirty it are dirty. And what is politics? Is it something too high above us to which we can just look up in respectful awe and from which we refrain, because we are just mortal clay in His hands and cannot do it? Is it, as some charlatans, roaming occasionally about in distant nooks of our country, used to prey upon the credulous imagination of some of our people, the kind of thing capable of being set aright only by fanciful tales and legends? Is it a dangerous ground which we must be wary to tread and might as well avoid, if we possibly could? Is it just a question of “race, religion and language” forever, as we were once wont to say? What is it, then, really? The fact is that politics is neither high nor low, neither magic nor astrology nor alchemy. Nor is it simply a dangerous ground to tread upon. It is not also a question of bigoted or parochial nationalism either. It must always approximate to the truth of marching events. In short, after all is said and done, politics mean your everyday life."

I believe there are solutions to our problems BUT access is denied simply because power is the main obstruction. How are we going to overcome this obstruction? I believe, this is the crux of the problem. I dont think the answer is too hard to find.

Have a good day.


Hope we'd get more people interested to make a change for the better possible...

Many things you said would need discussion.

See you around.

Politics... It's always who's behind a name, not really the name...

Hi Amatu

Thanks for your comment. Regarding the HDB issue, I do share some views similar and different from yours. Not trying to convince you with this logic but just consider this view on HDB prices.

1) Prior to 1997, the real estate prices have been soaring due to the influx of capital via increase in balance of trade and debt ratios. The artificially high prices proved to be unsustainable when the Asian Financial Crisis came about.

2) Majority of the assets owners are people in their 40s and 30s. They bought it at a high price and their finances are tied to illiquid assets, apartments.

3) If the prices of HDB drops, their asset value drops even further as the people who bought their flats would have their outstanding loan greater than the market value.

4) Thus, HDB have to sustain the rate of new release flats to prevent asset lost of the majority of flat owners.

5) The profits you mentioned aren't profits. The HDB loans for new flat owners are kept artificially low, and lower than commercial loans. Thus, they have to sustain the lost in comparative interest rates.

Now the solution which you might wish to evaluate. How to release the flats without lower the appartment value of those flats bought by many Singaporeans at the peak of the prices?

Not trying to convert your views, but just consider this from a finance viewpoint (my vocational hazard!).

A lot of people complain about power distancing but maybe people just don't seek it. I've organized several dialogue sessions, meeting sessions, discussions, roundtables, "squaretable" in universities with people your called "power". Endless rounds of market, emails, posters and leaflets, but what is the turnout? Extremely poor. Some (in universities) complained of the power distant. We bring them to their doorstep. They don't turn up. They don't speak up. So where does the answer lies? I don't have it either.


Our comments just gets lengthy each time. As much as I think you are wrong, you also think that I am wrong. Perhaps we are at the opposite polars or that we are too close to each other that we deviate in the outcome (like chaos theory).

I've believe in gentlemen's way of dialogues, not slamming down on people to say that we are right they are wrong. Nobody is always right, nobody is always wrong. Politics have no right and no wrong. Neither would I curse people just because of my own fate is worse than others or differ from my views. Maybe if I've got time this week, I might deconstruct your arguments with another lengthy comment but the bottomline is this: As much as we got difference, we have similarities as well. I accept and respect your views, though I disagree with it.

Nonetheless, Good luck and I truly hope that even you have got your money to evacuate this place, some day, you will still call Singapore your home. Maybe overseas will do you much good. Take care, bro.


HI Elfred

I guess the indoctrination by our "so-called" authoritarian govt did you well with your choice of words. ;P

If memory serves me well, the "all is not well" is your views, not mine, so I guess I wouldn't owe you any answers. To substantial your arguments, maybe you should refrain from constant use of polemic arguments and back them up with more concrete hypothesis.

Perhaps SDP suits your cause well and I am sure they have the funding and manpower you need for the coming GE. You might want to check with them. I might be wrong, but your ideas seem closely related to theirs.


Emm... Maybe so. I can't go around searching as well.

My choice of words is pretty straight forward, or blunt. We have our views based on each's understanding of politics. Just as the government would say they are doing very well with figures, and some will say rubbish cos life is getting harder.

If you insist that my argument is polemic, then tell me what hypothesis do you want? Which of the arguments are polemic, T? :D

I said before, you ain't ready. You'd be ready when you realise my course and SDP's are not the same, so would the political thinking/ideas between me and SDP.

This is what's really polemic of what you have mentioned here.

Let's not argue about things you are obviously not ready of.

My current concern is primarily getting a job and get off this boat subsequently; or to encounter people ready to team up for a GRC.

This sorta poor governance cannot go on. I am not going to wait till one day they would compare our great governance to that of some ulu ulu governments as the Mickey Mouse administration up North used to do when Dr M was telling Malaysians 'We are doing better than this than that' and Anwar got sodomised, his bunch of cronies yaya and 'Soros is the bloody culprit' when the bloody twin white elephants sit right there in KL.

Politics... T, face it. Unless there is some character problems with you, when so many are struggling under some governance, be honorable enough to face the problems.

No offence. Face it. And MM won't last forever. It'd be a time for better people; It'd be our time to come, ie if you are ready by then.

I don't think we have choice. I believe MM would also understand... what has his party become.

Wish me luck.


Hi T,

I think you have misunderstood Elfred. Understand he does sound like government-bashing but we have to ask ourselves this question: Who's interest should the government be serving, the citizens or government? There are many reasons to justify whoever interest but let's look at it narrowly and choose between 1) Citizens or 2) Government.

Our neighbouring countries citizens look at us with envy saying our country is rich, but who is benefitting the fruits of our labour? I get sick whenever they look at us, singaporean, and think we are rich people. We are only rich in their countries but not in our own. See the irony.

Elfred, i believe changes must be peacefully in this country because, as a matter of fact, we cant afford to rock this small little boat. It will collapse and swallow by our neighbours.

Wish you luck of getting a job and, possibly, a better life out of the country.

Have a good day


25yo is consider quite young for T. After all, I was already doing political research on my own since sec day after started going through political materials including laws principls and history during late primary school. I can easily tell where he is now.

Change...? Hahahaha...

No mind tell you, I would probably persuaded Mr Chiam to go China instead of Malaysia years back, fire up on Chinese sentiment and get the entire business bodies here to pressure PAP to move... and use certain ways to clobber GRC after GRC. MM is not the only political talent who fight this way.

It'd be peaceful enough if and only if we (the better element) would hence ensure a smooth proceeding. Cos I mentioned, with the system around, the entire leadership is replaceable.

The only way not to be clobbered eventually by (say) our neighbors would be to have a strong political leadership in Singapore.

One reason why MM Lee could be adamant to keep out foreign intervention is PAP's previous attempt to enter Malaysia's political race.

And up till now, groups in Malaysia and certain people in Indonesia are still eyeing our situation.

Not to mention, we have the government dealing out such '...Indonesian maids not happy with Singapore why still come...' refute in such manner. This shows obvious bo-chapness and no awareness of Singapore vulnerability.

Amatu, you are right, I am more concern about this broking down boat I am stuck with, and if I were able to jump off, be sure I can't be bothered as some who'd even sent curse letters to Dr Vivian when they migrated abroad.

T read my blog, does he think the way I lambast (eg) the parliament issue is 'polemic'? Do I bash for nothing? I kpo? This is the boat I am stuck in! Of course I must kpo!

What sort of leaders we got now ensure what sort of future we have!

Yes. I have gone through some online job search... and will go as far as possible to get the money or an opening to jump ship.

All the best.

Wonder if I'll ever find my mate in life. Do you think it's possible. I know I could be talking to a lot of people out there, but I want some opinions here. Like I was out doing some research on dating and I clicked on this one web link that took me to a site about attract women naturally. I got derailed from my original topic at hand and then finally had to backtrack to figure out that I was still looking for something about dating so I could find my ideal mate. Dang, I get distracted.
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Should of postewd about the other ministers.................

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The Idealist

  • Thrasymachus
  • Propagating In: Singapore
  • The Critic, The Philosopher, The Pragmatist, The Moralist, The Egalitarian, The Confused, The True-Blue Singaporean
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Singapore Time

Poll Your Agony!

    Do you support the government's decision in barring certain Civil Society Organization members from the IMF/WB meetings?
    Fully support!
    Yes, but could have been more lenient
    Don't know...
    No, the govt is too rigid
    Absolute no!
    I don't give a damn about it...
    Current results

    Which topic do you wish to read at Singaporegovt?
    SM Goh Chok Tong: Behind the Scene
    Oppositions: Singapore Democratic Party
    Super Seven: Khaw Boon Wan, Dr Ng Eng Hen
    Super Seven II: Dr Vivian, Raymond Lim
    History V: Devan Nair
    History VI: Dr Goh Keng Swee
    Who is Thrasymachus (aka me)?
    All of the Above!
    None of the Above - I hate reading!
    Current results

    What do you think of the General Election 2006 (GE) Results?
    Accurately reflects the political preference of Singaporeans
    Somewhat accurate in reflecting Singapore's political preference
    PAP's win was too flattering
    Oppositions' percentage was too high
    Not accurate in reflecting the political preference of Singaporeans
    Totally inaccurate!
    Current results

    What do you think of the Gomez Issue?
    He is guilty of deceiving!
    He is not guilty!
    The whole issue was overblown by the PAP & media
    Don't care, Don't know!
    Current results

    What do you think of this site (singaporegovt.blogspot)?
    Good, Fair, Objective, Interesting Read
    Above Average
    Below Average
    Total Rubbish!
    Total mouthpiece of the PAP government!
    I HATE this site!
    I LOVE this site!
    Current results

    Which (Senior) Minister of State do you wish to see promoted to Full Minister?
    Ho Peng Kee
    Dr Balaji Sadasivan
    Zainul Abidin Rasheed
    Heng Chee How
    Lim Hwee Hua
    Grace Fu
    Radm Lui Teck Yew
    Lim Yi Shyan
    Gan Kim Yong
    Current results

    Which Election Candidate do you prefer?
    Low Thia Khiang (WP)
    Chiam See Tong (SDA)
    Sylvia Lim (WP)
    Chee Soon Juan (SDP)
    J.B. Jeyaratnam (Formerly WP)
    Lee Hsien Loong (PAP)
    Dr Ng Eng Hen (PAP)
    Sitoh Yih Pin (PAP)
    Eric Low (PAP)
    Current results

    How do you rate PM Lee Hsien Loong's Performance (as Prime Minister) so far?
    Very Good
    Above Expectation
    Poor ("I can even do better!")
    Very Poor
    Current results

    Do you have confidence in PM Lee Hsien Loong's leadership and his team of Ministers?
    Too early to tell...
    Any one but them!
    Current results

    Do you think Lee Hsien Loong became Prime Minister on his own merits?
    Yes! ("He was the best candidate")
    No! ("He has obvious backing from LKY")
    No! ("There wasn't any alternative candidate to challenge him in the first place")
    Current results

    Which of the (Junior) Minister to you wish to see him/her step down? (Part III)
    Raymond Lim
    Balaji Sadasivan
    Ho Peng Kee
    Chan Soo Sen
    Lim Hwee Hua
    Heng Chee How
    Gan Kim Yong
    Yu-Foo Yee Shoon
    Zainul Abidin
    Current results

    Which Minister do you wish to see him step down? (Part I)
    Lee Hsien Loong
    Goh Chok Tong
    Lee Kuan Yew
    Lim Boon Heng
    Lee Boon Yang
    Yeo Cheow Tong
    Mah Bow Tan
    George Yeo
    Teo Chee Hean
    Current results

    Which Minister do you wish to see him step down? (Part II)
    Lim Hng Kiang
    Wong Kan Seng
    S Jayakumar
    Tharman Shanmuguratnam
    Lim Swee Say
    Ng Eng Hen
    Vivian Balakrishnan
    Khaw Boon Wan
    Yaacob Ibrahim
    Current results

    What is your utmost concern for the coming General Elections?
    "Bread & Butter" issues - Jobs, economy, salary, etc
    Freedom of Speech - or lack of
    HDB issues - upgrading, high housing cost, etc
    International Issues - govt's handling of foreign relationships
    Transport issues - LTA, NEL, MRT
    Change of Leadership - from SM Goh to PM Lee
    All of the above
    I'll vote any party except PAP!
    I'll only vote for PAP!
    Current results

    Which is your favourite Minister?
    PM Lee Hsien Loong
    SM Goh Chok Tong
    MM Lee Kuan Yew
    DPM Jayakumar
    Dr Vivian Balakrishnan
    Teo Chee Hean
    George Yeo
    Tharman S.
    I Hate of them!
    Current results

Faces of Singapore

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    The author of this blog bears no responsibility for any misinterpretation, libel, defamation, injury and death as a result of reading this blog. Contents are high subjective and readers should read with caution. All readers should be 18 years and above, with half a decent brain to judge the validity of the articles.

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