Thursday, September 10, 2015

#GE2015 and Fishing Charters




It's #GE2015 and surely the Baktao has something to say about it? Thankfully though, I won't be politicizing my page in a nonsensical way. This post will link back to fishing in a fun way and hopefully not be too biased to any political party.

Since ESM Goh likened PAP to a cruise ship and LTK thought it was the Titanic, Baktao would like to think that the Government is a fishing charter operation in Singapore which is driven by 89 boatmen. 

Why fishing charter? I believe that the Government is responsible for creating a productive environment in which our people can possibly catch the biggest fish of their lives, whether to feed their family or to keep as trophies. Below are my fishy views on #GE2015 so far. The views are individual points that stand out to me and are in no way written to relate or link to each other.

Instability & an increasingly grey Future

Our world was never stable and is facing increasing instability in this generation. Economies have evolved and countries have learned. Singapore is vulnerable to external shows of force, accidents or rebounds. In the fishing charter business, that is true as well. Charter captains are subject to the elements such as weather, like algae bloom and even man-made disasters such as oil spills from ships. All these can lead to an extremely bad catch and are scenarios that a charter captain will have to plan for. Such externalities are already showing itself in issues like the China stock market crisis, haze and territorial disputes.

The question here is that our incumbent Government has the track record in steering its fishing charters skilfully to navigate these issues which appeared over the last 50 years. While they have not done an entirely perfect job in the micro aspects of many policies and initiatives, there is no doubt that most of us have an abundance of fish on our table. Many of us in generation X & Y are reaping the rich harvests of our parents (PG). 

Now before you think I am biased towards the Opposition, read my next point.    

The Opposition will never be proven unless given a chance (Give the Opposition a small boat and ask them to go fishing!)

Now that I have labelled our Government a proven fishing charter, most anglers will be thinking the question of "Are you sure there aren't more qualified charter captains in Singapore?” My answer is of course there are but are they proven? 

While it's true that some Opposition charter captains like Lina Chiam have been there and done that for some years now, many do not have this experience. There are also many Opposition charter captains like Prof. Tambyah who have worked in the Government or Quasi Government. 

When are we going to give them a chance to appreciate how difficult it is to bring people out fishing and guarantee a good catch? In other words, when will we be seeing an Opposition taking up a Ministerial portfolio and really walking the talk? Looking at some of the Opposition charter captains these days, I think that the day will come soon as make no mistake, quality has generally inched up a little although it still "feels like" the Opposition of old.

Until the Government gives some credible (if any) Opposition a chance to board the boat, the Opposition will just continue to be doing what it's doing which is shouting carrots at the docks.

Stability of Opposition Parties

Another one of the problems that I feel exists in the Opposition camps is the stability of the Opposition. While I understand that the Opposition has less resources and less drive to continue being the Opposition, you have to doubt whether they will sustain.

When SDP first contested my constituency in 2011, they had Tan Jee Say on their side but now he has moved on to another party. Also, the entire SDP team which contested in 2011 has been dissolved. One could point to Lina Chiam and team holding their own at Potong Pasir for many years and I salute that. Then again, who can deny the troubles in the NSP? Who can forget the CST & CSJ episodes? Who can forget the miscommunication in the WP when they said they would only reveal candidates during nomination day but then did so the next day? Who would be able to forget that LTK said he won’t discuss any more on TC but the next day brought it up again? Such lack of stability and unison is evident in the Opposition even if MSM blew it up.

I, on the other hand witnessed the incumbent Government candidates executing a flawless build up to the Elections and a sound leadership renewal plan.

If I could describe it in fishing charter context, we have a large Opposition cohort, at the fishing docks, arguing about fishing spots and boat docking space. You know, the sort of arguments which start with, “Why you go my secret spot?” or “We should go to spot A instead of B, C, and D”...

Some want Groupers, some want Snappers and yet some just want Tamban

I have also came to the conclusion that Singaporeans only want perfection and everyone is a perfect example of that. Whether we source for food, clothes, holidays and so on, Singaporeans are generally ‘Kiasu’ and we cannot settle for less. When you have Singaporeans wedged in various classes in society, you end up with a lot of expectations that Government policies will never satisfy.

Policies will never ever satisfy everyone or anyone. The same goes for the variety of fishes caught during a fishing trip on a fishing charter. Some of us want groupers, some want snappers and yet some simply want tamban. The Government has always been emphasizing that policies will be rolled out to those who have yet to get their tamban (low income) or have already caught many fish in their life (PG). 

Yet, some of us who already have our Groupers & Snappers, want Red Groupers! I have noticed this in some of the most fervent Opposition supporters. They already have fish but yet they continue to make noise that some people don’t have tamban. One wonders though, how would they feel if the Government took their 1 snapper and transformed it into 10 tambans (increase taxes to fund social welfare) so that it could be shared among those who don’t have fish.

Jokes aside, I can understand why many of us are like this. Perfection is the curse of the Singapore system and it will exist as long as we know what ‘Kiasu’ is. What’s important to me is that if our Government is 80% perfect, it is good enough for me

Plans for policies have already existed since we caught the first fish

I work in a Public Policy School so I know when I say plans have already been there.

When Singaporeans are busy eating all the fish they have caught, we easily forget that plans are already being made for our future fishing trips. Many of us fail to notice that many policies that the Opposition call out for are already implemented or exist in one form of another. 

The most common one is the minimum wage in which our Government has rolled out a progressive wage scheme for the lower income. How about the Land Transport Authority Master Plans which have planned for a larger transport infrastructure since donkey years ago? How about the population white paper which is actually a projection based on what Singapore could be like in the future?

Our Government makes its fair share of mistakes but it is one which plans ahead really well. Think tanks like IPS have already mapped out future policy issues well ahead of our time. Here’s one of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdssCy4f7jU

How does it relate to fishing charters? I would imagine that the Government would be checking the tide tables and wind strengths a few years in advance to determine a good catch!

Are we voting for quality of candidates or just because we want more alternative voices?

The stand out point for me and the point that most are pondering this #GE2015 is whether we want to vote with our hearts or brains. 

If you vote with your heart, it means you just want more Opposition in parliament, no matter the quality of the Opposition. 

If you vote with your brain, it means you just want to vote the best candidate in, regardless of political party.

In fishing charters, heart means you want to vote in a charter captain which works hard but may not bring in the fishes at the end of the day.  Brain means, you vote in a captain which definitely brings in the fish no matter what.

How will you vote? 

Personally, I’ll be voting with a combination with bias towards the brain… The closest bet for me seems to be Lina Chiam from SPP but sadly I don’t vote in Potong Pasir anymore.

As a young adult, I cannot afford to gamble with my future and I’ll rather supress Opposition voices for a few years more until I can afford fishless trips.

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