Tharman discredits himself as PM, reaffirms PAP as monolithic party

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday (Sep 28) “categorically” ruled himself out from becoming Prime Minister.

“Just to be absolutely clear, because I know there’s this talk going around … I’m not the man for PM, I say that categorically. It’s not me,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the Wong Fong Industries Building.

“I know myself, I know what I can do and it’s not me. I’m good at policy-making, good at advising my younger colleagues and supporting the PM, not being the PM. That’s not my ambition and that’s not me,” he said.

Mr Tharman added that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s team has been focused on building up the fourth generation of leaders to take over in the next term of Government.

DPM Tharman has expressed similar sentiments when asked about his political future. At the SG50+ conference last year, he said: “We all have our preferences, and I was always in sports, centre-half rather than centre-forward; I enjoy playing half-back and making the long passes, but I am not the striker unless I am forced to be. And I don’t think I’ll be forced to it because I think we’ve got choices.”

Pappie sows disunity in Mid-Autumn Festival of unity

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So the Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival is supposed to be an occasion of harmony and togetherness, seeing family members and neighbours alike come together to eat mooncakes, drink fragrant tea while gazing at the rounder and brighter moon in the middle of the Chinese autumn season.

But one Julie Chin, a frequent commenter on Facebook page, Fabrication About the PAP (FAP) commented on the Facebook page of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) during a Mid-Autumn celebration some days ago, accusing the party members of ‘gate-crashing an event run by the RC’ in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC to ‘further its political presence.’

When SDP responded that the event was not organised by the RC, Julie replied saying that the BBQ event was organised and booked by Abdul Salim. She went on to allege that he is a SDP member and SDP was invited by its own member. This comment was made before Abdul Salim made known that he was the person who booked the BBQ pit.

Abdul Salim posted on the same comment thread, clarifying that he is not a SDP member but a volunteer with SDP and a resident of the area. He added that end of the day, there is no need to politicise the event as he is organising for his fellow residents.

When asked about the event, Abdul Salim noted that majority of those who attend are residents of the area, not affiliated to SDP.  He said, “It is not a SDP event, It is organised by us residents of the area and we decide to invite a few SDP members along.”

He added that he is waiting for the RC to give an answer to him as they say they will investigate the matter.

Several individuals have commented on the matter and asked how did Julie obtain the information that Abdul Salim was the person who booked the event and commented that her statements were unbecoming of a PAP party member.

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Source: TOC, with editing 

 

Lee Kuan Yew wanted me to join Straits Times to help with propaganda: Tan Jee Say

By Tan Jee Say

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My interactions with S R Nathan

I first met the late Mr S R Nathan 40 years ago. I had returned from overseas studies in the UK a few months earlier and was doing my National Service in the army when I received a call to see him. He was then the Director of the Security and Intelligence Division (SID) of MINDEF.

As soon as I stepped into the room, Mr Nathan introduced me to the other gentlemen beside him : Eddie Teo, his then deputy at SID and currently the chairman of the Public Service Commission, Daljit Singh, research officer at SID and Wong Kan Seng, then Director of Manpower of MINDEF who later rose to become the Deputy Prime Minister.

Interrogation

Mr Nathan told me that they had been asked by the Minister the late Dr Goh Keng Swee to talk to me before giving me the final security clearance. I had been “rebellious” during my 3 years in the UK (1973-76), speaking against the government at forums and participating in anti-government demonstrations.

Those were the days when Singapore students in the UK actively organised and engaged in protests against repressive measures in Singapore; taped speeches by the late Dr Lim Hock Siew and Dr Poh Soo Kai were played to us and they heightened our sense of injustice further.

Mr Nathan dismissed them as attempts by pro-Communist elements to mislead our students and to subvert the peace. He went on for nearly an hour or longer (I lost time!) but I was not provoked; they were even surprised that I did not challenge them. They thought they had convinced me.

Surveillance

Towards the end, Mr Nathan disclosed that they had put me on surveillance in the few months that I had been back in Singapore from the UK and they concluded that I was just an idealist and posed no threat to national security. I then recalled an interrogation session I went through 3 days after I returned from the UK on 3 August 1976.

I thought I was going to an interview with the PSC for a job posting. Instead I was put in a very cold room where the ISD officer lost no time in shouting at me, accusing me of being ungrateful to the government. “How dare you criticise the government who has given you a scholarship to study in the UK?” He asked detailed questions about my family, what my siblings were doing and where they were working. It was a gruelling 2 to 3 hours.

“Be obedient and rise to the very top”

About a week later, one of my sisters called me. She said an ISD officer visited her at the Ministry of Health where she worked and he had told her, “Tell your brother not to be silly and go against the government. Tell him to do what the government wants him to do and we will take care of his career. Just be obedient and he will rise to the very top.”

It was clearly a coordinated security operation to intimidate young officers and put them in their place. I did not get to meet Mr Nathan again until several years later. I was then a junior officer in the ministry of trade and industry and he was the permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs.

We were together on an economic and trade mission to Myanmar. Initially he did not recognise me but a few days into the trip while sailing on a boat cruise down the Irrawaddy river, he suddenly turned around and asked pointedly at me, “Didn’t I interview you a few years ago? You were the rebellious young man.” Chandra Das, then managing director of Intraco, who was standing nearby, teased me saying “You can’t hide anymore!”

“Morning prayers”

I couldn’t run away from him even if I had wanted to. Nathan had a commanding presence in government and I could feel his domineering influence as I rose through the ranks.

My colleagues in MFA told me of “morning prayers” at which Nathan would review and brainstorm with his officers international and regional developments that occurred the day before. Relevant desk officers would then put up information notes for circulation to senior levels of government to keep them informed of the implications to Singapore. I had always looked forward to reading these information notes which unmistakenly bore the thoughts of Nathan.

But I enjoyed even more when I personally heard him articulate these thoughts in person and at close quarters. As secretary to the late Dr Albert Winsemius, the economic adviser to the government, I got to sit in when Nathan was invited to brief Dr Winsemius on global developments and their implications to Singapore. Mr Ngiam Tong Dow, the permanent secretary of MTI, would also be present. No one could have asked for a more valuable tutorial session than when these 3 great minds engaged in animated discussions about Singapore and the world economy.

Straits Times as a piece of china

When Nathan retired from the civil service in January 1982, no one expected him to fade away but instead to resurface in some other role. True enough, it was soon announced that he would be the executive chairman of Straits Times Press .

I was amused when I received a telephone call from him in his new role. He told me that he had just had lunch with PM Lee Kuan Yew who had suggested that he persuaded me to work with him to transform the Straits Times. He invited me to lunch.

On his new mission, Nathan quoted PM as having told him: “It’s like handling a piece of china. If you break it, I will pick up the pieces but it won’t be the same again.” PM did not want Nathan to break up the organisation but to work with existing people to change it.

He asked me to join him in this mission as PM had suggested my name. He thought I would be impressed. But I told him that I had been approached a year ago by the chairman of the Public Service Commission, the late Mr Tan Teck Chwee, who was also asked by PM to consider sending me to the Straits Times.

Apparently the two gentlemen had a long lunch at which the PM expressed his unhappiness over the way the Straits Times reported the Anson by-election which the PAP lost, its first election defeat in 18 years. He probably expected more losses unless changes were made to the way the media reported on government policies. I had told the good chairman that I was more interested in economic development policy work than in promoting political propaganda.

At the end of the 2-hour interview, the chairman walked over to my side and with a pat on my shoulder, assured me : “Don’t worry, young man. Just continue with your good work in the administrative service and I will recommend you to be PPS to PM when your time comes.”

Respect and Protect

I told Nathan that after turning down the PSC chairman, I could not in good conscience agree to his offer. Nathan did not try to change my mind nor to assure me that it would be alright to do so and that he could explain it to the chairman. Instead he was quiet, perhaps stunned by a young officer who had the audacity to turn down the PM twice when others would have jumped at the chance. Like the chairman before him, he had concluded that it would be futile to change a young idealist’s mind.

I respected Nathan and the PSC chairman for respecting my wishes and for protecting me from the PM LKY. I had a different reaction from Mr Goh Chok Tong two years later when he too tried in vain to get me to go over to the Straits Times. But I shall leave this to another occasion to write about.

 

Pope Francis: Not religion, but conscience that decides if one goes to Heaven

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Pope Francis gestures upon his arrival in St Peter’s square at the Vatican on September 11, 2013, for his weekly general audience. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s not belief in God that counts, but a clean conscience that determines who gets to heaven, Pope Francis tells atheists in a letter written to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The 2,500-word letter was a response to questions asked by the paper’s co-founder and former editor, Eugenio Scalfari, over the summer about whether God forgives those who don’t believe in him, The Independent of London reported.

“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith,” the Pope wrote. “Given — and this is the fundamental thing — that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart, the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience.”

“There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil,” he added.

Full report: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Pope-Francis-atheist-conscience/2013/09/12/id/525304/