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U.S. Senate scuttled emergency legislation!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

So many want to have a two party government in Singapore. Personally, I always say that if something is not broken, don't fix it. Seeing how the two parties in the US government are acting, I am thankful Singapore is not on the same boat.

With National Day just round the corner, a week after the 2 August deadline for the US to raise its debt ceiling, I am counting our blessings. We never know we have a good thing until we have lost it. Let's not lose it.

Latest update on the US situation:

In an unforgiving display of partisanship, the Republican-controlled House approved emergency legislation Friday night to avoid an unprecedented government default and Senate Democrats scuttled it less than two hours later in hopes of a better deal.

"We are almost out of time" for a compromise, warned President Barack Obama as U.S. financial markets trembled at the prospect of economic chaos next week. The Dow Jones average fell for a sixth straight session.
Lawmakers in both parties said they were determined to avoid a default, yet there was little evidence of progress -- or even significant negotiations -- on a compromise during a long day of intense political maneuvering...

...Administration officials say that without legislation in place by Tuesday, the Treasury will no longer be able to pay all its bills. The result could inflict significant damage on the economy, they add, causing interest rates to rise and financial markets to sink.
Executives from the country's biggest banks met with U.S. Treasury officials to discuss how debt auctions will be handled if Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit before Tuesday's deadline.
But Carney said the administration did not plan to provide the public with details Friday on how the government will prioritize payments...

Read full article here.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure "we are having a good thing"?

*roll eyes*

AK71 said...

Hi Anonymous,

Or would you prefer a government like the one in the USA?

I have friends from the USA, the UK, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and, of course, countries in South East Asia, who have at one point or another told me that they wished their countries' governments were like ours. Relatively speaking, we are having a good thing.

Of course, people are rarely contented. This is only natural. *roll eyes*

Could you include your name or initials in future comments? Thanks. :)

Paul said...

Hey AK

Be careful. You're beginning to sound like a PAP supporter and you know its not fashionable (sometimes I feel even socially suicidal) to express even a hint of support for the govt.

Dun mind me I'm just be cheeky.:P

And it may be hard to believe but yes, many people does prefer a govt like the US. They think its progress.

I like LKY's recent comment to the Chinese to just ignore all the noise coming from the West and just focus on doing things their way and getting the job done.

Your comments on not knowing a good thing until you lost it applies to many many things in life; heck I would say even some of the shares we gave up.

John said...

i agree with AK71. It is always easy to criticise. No one is perfect, u need to look at the big picture or maybe u shd try managing a company or just a dept to know how difficult it is.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there are countries that work just as well with a strong opposition.
Don't just look a few bad apples and conclude it's a bad thing.

p.s: I'm not a pro opp singaporean or anything and if I would have to grade our government, i would give it a B- but I kind of disappointed in the performance of a lot of PAP MPs in parliament before election. Alot of back patting speeches to one another.


AK71 said...

Hi Paul,

I give credit where credit is due. I am not a PAP supporter per se but I will support whoever has done a good job. I am a pragmatist.

I do not care what is the fashionable thing to say in society. People who know me would know that I do not care two hoots about what is fashionable. ;)

I agree with LKY. The important thing is to know what are the things to be done and get them done pat. I am a big supporter for efficiency in all things in life. :)

AK71 said...

Hi John,

Yes, being a critic is always easy. It is easy to tell someone what he has done wrong. Critics have the benefit of hindsight and we know hindsight is always perfect!

I hate bosses who would tell me that they would have done something a certain way when the results are bad because I did it another way. Why would not they give instructions earlier if they were so smart? Simple, they did not do so in case their ideas turned out badly. Idiots. Grrr...

AK71 said...

Hi Jack,

I cannot think of any country that works well with a strong opposition. Examples?

Would be good to have case studies. We can always learn from these. :)

Anonymous said...

"I give credit where credit is due."

Objectives may be achieved, but at what price? Is credit still due then? You need to look at the bigger picture (and not just at yourself or your social circle) and think harder whether this nation is going in the right direction.

"I cannot think of any country that works well with a strong opposition."

Australia? And is this nation really working that well?

AK71 said...

Hi Anonymous,

If objectives set out were met, of course, we must still give credit. People who meet objectives should be rewarded. Otherwise, why meet objectives at all?

To show anyone reading this that I am not a PAP supporter per se, I think the more important question to ask is what kind of objectives are being set.

You ask about the direction the country is heading and you wonder if it is the right direction.

Obviously, to get it in the "right" direction, certain objectives should be set. Meet those objectives and credit must be given.

Now, what is the "right" direction? I am not going there. This is something I leave to the powers that be. ;)

By the same token, I need only to look after myself and the people I care for. Why do I need to look beyond? If I do look beyond, it is because I want to (for examples, supporting certain charities and giving out red packets to guards/cleaners in my condo during CNY).

My resources are limited and if I am able to do a good job of looking after myself and the people I care for, I am contented. The bigger picture? They are for the bigger people.

Why did your suggestion of Australia as a country with a strong opposition in government end with a question mark? ;)

There are certain imperfections in our country, I would agree. However, our government has done more good than bad for our country so far. :)

Could you include your name or initials in future comments? Thanks.

Zelphon said...

Hi AK,

Switzerland is definitely a better government than SG..

Their leaders are not as obscenely well-paid as compared to ours and they are also in the Top 10 Worldwide Corruption Index...

In S'pore case, it is clearly that we overpay our leaders too high such that they become some sort of being "Corrupt" legally...

Look at the crap reasons they gave to justify their pay and pay hike...

PM Lee mentioned in an interview that we need to increase our President's pay to $4 Million a year so that the rest of Parliament can have another pay hike... What sort of crap reason is that???

There are many countries (i.e. Sweden, Switzeland, Denmark, Canade, etc) who are as efficient as Singapore and their leaders are not obscenely paid and their country is definitely more democratic that ours...

The rot in our government has festered in an alarming rate in the past 10 yrs under PAP's rule..

Massive foreign influx with dubious quality without control... Poor social safety net... Widening income gaps... Our own govt placing foreigners' interest above citizens... Lotsa preferential treatments that gave rise to an elite class... Increasing the debt burden of citizens to force them to work longer beyond retirement age...

In short, PAP is trying to enslave its citizenry and leech as much money to build reserves for dubious purposes...

We also seen public assets being sold away for profits.. (i.e. Power Stations, Transportations, etc)... PAP has shifted the responsibility of the govt away into clusters of so-called private sector companies where the main control lies with the state.. Yet they claim that inflation and many things are beyond their control when it is obviously THEY who control behind the scenes ...

I am too lazy to go into details.. But if you read enough of the info. published in forum, Temasek Review, Yahoo news comments, etc... U will get the picture...

True.. It is easy to criticize.. But the criticisms are valid and they raises multiple valid questions which must be addressed, failing which, our country may fall in ruins due to the actions of the few fools in ivory tower..

AK71 said...

Hi Zelphon,

Been a while since I have heard from you. A pleasure, as usual. :)

Thank you for your comment in which I sense some amount of anger and frustration. ;)

However, I am sure that many of your concerns are valid even though I might not express them in the same words. Certain points, I am not so sure are true but we are all entitled to our opinions.

The PAP has suffered a social disconnect with segments of Singaporeans and it has to repair this. I do not disagree with this. They are like someone having a high IQ but a low EQ. They have to raise their EQ.

With the possibility of another recession on the horizon, it gives me great comfort that the PAP, which steered our country so adroitly out of previous recessions, is still in control though.

Finally, thank you for the examples of well run countries with strong oppositions in their governments. I am not a political scientist and I am not sure if those are good examples. However, I am sure the PAP, losing popularity as they are, could benefit from studying such cases.

Enjoy the Sunday. :)

Zelphon said...

Hi AK,

Well, I am the silent observer...

I do visit your blog everyday to read...

All eyes on next week's event on US Debt...

U enjoy ur Sunday too !!!


Isaac said...

Hey AK, think you opened a can of worms. LOL ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Zelphon,

Yes, we might have our own issues but the really big issue right now is the US debt ceiling. We can only wait and see. Crossing fingers. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Isaac,

A can of worms suggests that it is something bad. I am of the opinion that a can of worms can be useful too. Perhaps, I am fishing for opinions with these worms and I think I am successful in doing so. ;p

Anyway, when I wrote what I wrote, I was prepared for some opposing views. If I was not confident of engaging these views, I would not have gone ahead with the blog post.

Raelynn said...

There are different types of two party system... We have the American style and the uk style. My honest opinion is that it's not having two party system that is the problem, it's having too strong lobby groups. The problem of strong lobby groups is what we are seeing in America now, tea party doesn't want to raise tax to fund the increase in debt ceiling.

Anonymous said...


You had so many comments on this post!!

It is not whether it is strong government or strong opposition. Strong opposition after an election becomes the elected government.

The nature of democracy is that at some point some groups will become entrenched with privileges, and some become disenfranchised. Winner sets the rules.

Democracy is such that the party that manages to garner enough support through policies that balance the different demands of interest groups will win elections.

USA is established and there are interest groups. Some favor low taxes whereas others believe that there is a need to tax and spend enough for social justice so that society that can function properly (ie, prevent revolutionary disruptions - that in the grand scheme of things is more expensive and costly, $$ and lives).

Singapore also has the same debate in the last general election. Why accumulate reserves? (how much, what purpose, why are some people creaming off the gains?). At the last recession I disagreed with the withdrawal of reserves to pay for "training". It was welfare in disguise. We should have held out for a more substantive correction with the pushing of more people into joblessness and a forced restructuring of our economy into enhancing employment of citizens in non-tradeable sectors like healthcare. There is a unhealthy government obesession with keeping healthcare <3% GDP. Needs should drive expenditure, and there are many people with needs.

How come GIC and Temasek can achieve good long-term above infation gains but citizens' quasi-pension CPF is terrible?

So we have a lot of questions that are unanswered.

Only with a robust democracy, can wen walk the middle path and take the golden mean; giving great consideration of values and societal ethos framed in the concepts of State and Nation.

We have a good thing for some measures, but those measures sometimes do not measure all the things in life that also ought to be measured.

Democracy rights the extremes that some may take.

AK71 said...

Hi Raelynn,

I am sure you have made a good point. Any system is open to abuse. It is just a question of by who and how much.

Unfortunately, human beings are by nature selfish. Personal interests will always be considered first. How many truly selfless people are there in the world?

The only type of tea party I would like to be a part of is where we have good English Breakfast and some nice tarts (or tartlets). Haha. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Anonymous,

From your first sentence, I am hazarding a guess that you are a regular reader and you just forgot to leave your name/initials. ;)

Your comment is more philosophical than the rest and is definitely of a level more academic. Much of it is lost on me, I must be honest. ;p

However, I understand the gist of your comment (I hope) and I have to say that I like democracy as it lets us, the common people, have a say in who we want running the country and how we want to see it run. Of course, there are also flaws as is the case with any system.

Singapore's democracy is still a young one and it is evolving. So far, stability with a single dominant party has served us well since independence. Some might dispute this (again) but considering how a country with almost zero natural resources is able to come this far can only be described as truly extraordinary.

Let us see how things evolve in the coming years. Good luck to us all. :)

Hyruga said...

I dont understand why pple are still spending time commenting and criticising the govt, party system at this time.

I am pragmatic. Should i sell my stocks to reduce exposure? I have already sold off about 10k of reit last week...

AK71 said...

Hi Hyruga,

Just like why people enjoy eating bah chang even if it is not the Dragon Boat Festival? Haha.. Tongue in cheek comment. No understanding required, just acceptance would do. ;)

I am a pragmatist too and I have already worked out my strategy. :)

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with AK71. Give recognition when it is due.


AK71 said...

Hi Jane,

Thank you for contributing your point of view. Good to hear from you, as always. :)

left_ray said...

"I cannot think of any country that works well with a strong opposition."

For me, this statement is weird. USA has been the strongest country in the world since the day I was born. Actually, they have been a strong nation since WWI and after WWII, it’s just so much apparent. We can not discredit their two party system just for one event. People's Republic of China (PROC) GDP has been growing double digit in the past decade, but in it's 60 years of rule, it went through great leap forward, culture revolution, and Tiananmen Square protest. How PROC move forward remain to be seen.

Singapore is an exceptional one party state. If you look around the world closely, one party state or autocrat state is facing serious problems. Recent revolutionary wave of demonstrations in Arab world happen in one party state. Even Japan is having some problem. Japan was ruled by LDP almost continuously for 54 years except 11 months in 1993 to 1994. In 2009, LDP was finally ousted. If Japan is not a democratic country and continue to rule by LDP, what would happen to Japan? Personally, I feel Japan is a mirror for Singapore.

AK71 said...

Hi left_ray,

Is USA still the strongest country in the world? Isn't its strength an illusion, built on borrowed money and borrowed time?

Anyway, politics and religion are two topics that I have usually avoided because the discussions can go on forever without resolution. ;)

Thanks for sharing your point of view. :)

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