New National Stadium’s pitch under heavy criticism

By Loh Lin Fhoong, for TODAY

national stadium grass

The brickbats came fast and furious, first from Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri who blamed the National Stadium’s pitch for his decision not to field superstar forward Carlos Tevez for Saturday’s game against the Singapore Selection at the S$1.33 billion Sports Hub.

A mini-tournament held the next day also saw ex-national and S-League footballers expressing their surprise at the pitch’s condition, which was patchy at best. This despite the 55,000-seater National Stadium boasting a state-of-the-art Desso GrassMaster system, a combination of synthetic fibres woven into natural grass to make it more durable. Costing an estimated €500,000 (S$833,000), the hybrid turf is also used in London’s Wembley and Emirates stadiums.

The National Stadium’s first event late June — the Rugby World Club 10s — saw teams kicking up sand clouds, though many had expected the grass to be in tip-top shape for the Juventus visit over a month later.

LionsXII assistant coach Nazri Nasir — who captained the national team from 1997 to 2003 — got his first taste of action on the grass at Sunday’s mini-tournament, and he told TODAY: “I was surprised that the pitch was not ready yet. It was very soft, very sandy and uneven. Maybe the artificial grass needs time to set in and hopefully, it will be better in one or two months.

“The grass might be used at Wembley, but they only have summer for two to three months and the temperature is cold the rest of the time, so all these things need to be looked at. (If not), the speed of the game will slow down, the movement of the ball will be affected, and you won’t get the best ball intensity.”

Added former Home United midfielder Rhysh Roshan Rai, 29, who also got a run on the field on Sunday: “I am surprised because you would have thought the pitch would be one of the priorities. It is a fantastic facility and everything is brand new, but the pitch is in bad state.”

Local football fans who caught the Juventus vs Singapore Selection “live” in the stadium and on television were equally appalled. TODAY reader Mohamad Farid Harunal Rashid said he came away disappointed from his experience at the Sports Hub.

“While the physical structure of the stadium was impressive, the pitch was quite clearly below par,” he said. “It was sandy with far too many barren patches, not at all like a turf maintained by a state-of-the art system at high cost, as has been widely reported.”

A “lacklustre” showing by the Singapore side and half-filled stadium — 27,338 spectators turned up for the game — also added to the disappointment, as Farid added: “Football games must be first and foremost about pitches and players that are up to the mark, and facilitating fan involvement in every way feasible.”

There are doubts now as to whether the pitch will be in top shape for November’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, with Singapore hosting Group B here from Nov 23 to 29. Before that, an international football friendly between Brazil and Japan is scheduled for Oct 14, followed by the Mariah Carey and Jay Chou concerts on Oct 24 and Nov 8, and a rugby match between the Asia Pacific Dragons and Maori All Blacks on Nov 15.

Full article here: National Stadium pitch under fire


Splits in the Singapore elite

The dramatic electoral setbacks suffered by the People’s Action Party government in Singapore during 2011 have led to speculation about the possibility of a future opposition victory. A major line of thinking within the opposition camp is that such a change would most likely come about following a serious split in Cabinet, whereby a strengthened parliamentary opposition could align itself with a dissident faction in Cabinet. Should such a development come about it would be emulating the ‘Taiwan model’, whereby democracy and a change of government were brought about when the Guomindang’s President Lee effectively endorsed the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and brought about a two-way split in his own party and a three-way split in his party’s popular vote.

I contend that this is a most unlikely development in Singapore for three distinct reasons.

The first and main reason for this logic is that the Singapore elite is much more risk averse than the Taiwan elite ever was. Singapore is so much smaller than Taiwan; its economy is so much more fragile and vulnerable to the mood swings of international finance and markets, that such a split is unlikely unless the country itself is nearly on its last legs. Dissidents in Cabinet would be, in their minds, putting at risk the fundamentals that give the international financial and investment markets confidence in Singapore, and I do not believe that they would take such a risk.

The second reason I doubt the likelihood of such a scenario is a little counter-intuitive: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has used the PAP’s electoral setbacks in 2011 to consolidate his stature within in the elite. By effectively shifting the blame for the parliamentary losses onto others – most notably his own father – and by ensuring that he has been given credit for the result not being any worse than it was, he has now, for the first time, stepped out of his father’s shadow and clearly established himself as the master of the situation. His party lost a significant amount of electoral ground in 2011, but Lee successfully stage-managed the narrative of the election after the event, beginning on election night itself, during which the Elections Department actively cooperated to allow him to mount the podium and claim victory as the government’s white knight and saviour. He is now fully in charge of Cabinet and has used his new power ruthlessly to push aside the deadwood and the duds who had been pulling the party down.

Before the 2011 results there had been some dissident rumblings in Cabinet, but even then this did not amount to very much. Former Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan told in  interview in January 2011 that he had become used to government MPs and even one or two Cabinet members congratulating him for his forthright and highly critical speeches in Parliament – but they would not speak out themselves, nor even associate themselves with dissenting voices. This is decidedly not the stuff of which Cabinet splits are made!

The third reason I doubt the likelihood of a split in the elite is that the best chance for such a split came and went in the mid-1990s when Goh Chok Tong was prime minister. Goh tried to use his position as PM and his control of the Ministry of Finance through his close ally, Finance Minister Richard Hu, to wrest the reins of power from the Lee family – father and son. He was doing this through a deliberate campaign of supplanting the Lee family’s patronage in the civil service and in the huge and powerful government-linked company (GLC) sector. The campaign promised to be particularly effective in the GLC sector.

The key instrument of patronage in this campaign was the secretive Directorship and Consultancy Appointments Council (DCAC) which at the time was responsible for the appointment of boards and executive positions across the whole of the GLC sector, and which operated under the authority of the Finance Minister Hu.

Goh had been working this plan systematically for several years when in 1996 he was given the chance to seriously challenge the Lee family’s hegemony after Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong were reported to Richard Hu for accepting illegal multi-million dollar ‘discounts’ from a publicly listed property developer, on whose board sat one of Lee Kuan Yew’s brothers. This was Goh’s one decisive chance to snatch power, but he backed away completely: he did not even refer the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Having passed up his one chance for power Goh gave up even trying to rule. Soon after this episode, much of the DCAC’s power was stripped from it and passed to holding companies (Temasek Holdings and Singapore Technologies) that were then placed in the hands of Lee family loyalists like S. Dhanabalan, and Lee family members like Ho Ching and Kwa Chong Seng. In response, Prime Minister Goh stopped engaging seriously in domestic politics and left it to then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, turning his attention instead to developing Singapore’s trade contacts in the Middle East.

1996 effectively marked the end of the Goh putsch against the Lee family and the consolidation of the Lee family’s power.

My point is that if there had been going to be a split in the elite then the 1990s was when it was going to happen. Not only was there no political storm in 1996, but there was barely even a whisper of a breeze to ruffle the appearance of elite solidarity. If it did not happen then, there is much less chance of it happening now or in the near future when there is not even a challenger.

My reading now is that Lee Hsien Loong is there for as long as he wants. This does not meant that he will not face political problems and challenges – especially now that the opposition is newly invigorated and the elite has lost a lot of its control of the agenda and the flow of information – but he should at least be able to face them as the undisputed head of a united leadership group, without having to look over his shoulder for fear of being undermined either by a challenger or by his overbearing father.

Dr Michael Barr is a senior lecturer in international relations, Flinders University. Dr Barr presented his research at this Year’s Malaysia and Singapore Update at the Australian National University. Video footage of the event is available here.




Q: Is Tan Jee Say a mole?

A: If he is, PAP is stupid.

Q: But he did spoil the presidential game?

A: Depends on how you look at it.

Q: How should we look at it?

A: Here you have someone who is willing to serve, give real check and balance, really question and challenge the repugnant PAP, taking only one-eighth of salary.

Q: How does Tan Cheng Bock compare?

A: Cheng Bock still a PAP man, and refuses to really question.

Q: Something like WP? Soft?

A: No, something like NSP, fake Opposition.

Q: How about Tan Kin Lian?

A: Good, but lacks crowd support.

Q: Tony Tan?

A: Key appointment holder, and really “key” appointment holder.

Q: How then for the next Presidential elections?

A: Most likely Tony against Cheng Bock.

Q: And Cheng Bock wins?

A: Will. And kudos to “no change”.

Q: Should Tan Jee Say join the game again?

A: Yes and no.

Q: How so?

A: Yes, if he is able to and confident of getting huge support sufficient to win. No, if it would tarnish his good name ever again.

Q: What would be the best scenario?

A: Cheng Bock vs Kin Lian, and Kin Lian wins.

Q: But Kin Lian’s support?

A: Jee Say can root for him?

Q: What would PAP do if someone who really knows how to question them gets elected as President?

A: Try to minimize the powers of the President? Or even abolish the Elected Presidency scheme altogether?

By By-Election for Punggol East (

Ten reasons why many Singaporeans are not celebrating national day :-

nd sg

1. Same rhetoria – its the same rhetoria all over again year after year and many Singaporeans can memorize the whole format by hard if they are at least ten years old. Nothing fresh comes out of the programme, even the beautiful fireworks seem the same as before.

2. PAP propaganda – the whole programme and march-pass smells of PAP propaganda and many people are turned off because of this. There are more shots of the whole PAP cabinet on TV than the event itself!

3. Cloudy sentiment – many Singaporeans are also feeling uncertain about their future as jobs are scant and wages low. At 5.3 million population now, we all feel suffocated to the core, what if it hits 6.9 million! The country is now seen as a haven for the rich to enjoy in…

4. Weekend – many also take the opportunity to go for a long weekend break somewhere else than stay at home and watch the event on TV. Its their most precious time of the week and destressing is the name of the game for many weary Singaporeans.

5. LKY factor – many people also previously watched the programme due to the LKY factor – will he turn up or not? When he kept turning up faithfully despite some bad health condition, people simply know that he will be there – come what may.

6. Tickets for new citizens and foreigners – tickets were also allocated to the new citizens in the dirty name of integration and many people are unhappy because of this as they have to ballot hard for the tickets. There are also less flags being hoisted out at the HDB blocks and it could be a historical low as people refuse to celebrate a day that they don’t feel happy about.

7. Nothing much to celebrate – Singaporeans basically feel that there is nothing much to celebrate nowadays – life is hard and sour faces are everywhere. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer plus the skyrocketting cost of living is now at its worst.

8. Worst Prime Minister of all – Mr Lee Hsein Loong is seen as the worst PM of all as his pro-economic policies favour the foreigners and country more than the people. The mere fact that he may be seen on TV has put many people off. Basically, people also don’t feel proud to be a Singaporean anymore.

9. Bad timing – the timing of the event close to dinner time also puts many people off as some families have dinner gathering and people just watch the snippets on news later.

10. Opposition getting stronger – as celebrating national day is seen as a pro-PAP event these days, many pro-opposition people are turning away from the event on TV and celebrate it in their own quiet way with friends.

-via Temasek Review (

Singapore’s National Day: A to Z

The New Era compiles what can best represent the political scene in Singapore for National Day.

lhl attire, ndp

Lee Hsien Loong at NDP 2014

A for PAP’s A-Team, that can never fail and never fall.

B for PAP’s B-Team, that is still better than any other team, according to the PAP.

C for C-Class wards that PAP does not allow you to go to if your income is above a certain level.

D for Derisory, the amount Roy Ngerng came up with for LHL’s damages.

E for White Elephant in the House.

F for PAP’s performance these years.

G for Garbage piles the PAP says Opposition wards will have if people voted that way.

H for Housing loans you take forever to pay.

I for Internet that the PAP fears.

J for Jason Chua, the PAP’s top lapdog on facebook.

K for Kaki-lang, which refers to PAP’s lapdogs in ‘neutrality”s clothing.

L for ‘Lan Pah’, that the bootlickers like to lick, of their PAP masters.

M for Medishield Life, PAP’s newest tool to trick your votes.

N for Nanny state, that LKY is proud to have created.

O for Opposition, which Singaporeans yearn to rule Singapore one day; oh, finally, something non-PAP.

P for PAP, what else? (People?)

Q for Queue, for like, everything?

R for RC, one of the important PAP’s grassroots tools.

S for Sin, which Singapore has lately come to be quite famous for.

T for Talent, which Singapore constantly lacks.

U for U-turn, PAP’s favorite activity, even if they don’t like to admit.

V for Vision, which LKY has, but his son admits not having 20/20 accuracy of.

W for Workers’ Party, oops!

X for X-Ray, which we hope to have to see through the government’s highly-kept-secret finances.

Y for Youth, their hope, our hope, and the definition of our future.

Z for Zombie, don’t ask me who!

By The New Era

BEPE’s Q&A on Tan Cheng Bock

tcb, campaign poster



Q: Is Tan Cheng Bock still a PAP man?

A: Yes.

Q: But how is he different from the other PAP men?

A: One is in the loop, one seems not to be.

Q: Should we then still support Tan Cheng Bock?

A: Yes and no.

Q: How so?

A: Yes, when he happens to be with us; and no, when he tries too hard to pretend to be with us.