Chan Heng Chee Admits Her Master’s Policies Have Made Singapore A Petri-Dish for the Covid-19 Virus
My history with Chan Heng Chee goes back a long way. I remember meeting her at the Ministry of Social Welfare Canteen (later to reincarnate into Sammy’s Curry in Dempsey Road) while having lunch with my dad in the early 1980s. Still believing that my father’s election at Anson represented a new dawn for Singapore and democracy, I took Ms Chan to task over her characterisation of elections in Singapore as “Gallic referendums” where the PAP could never lose power. Of course I was naive and up till now she has been right as Lee Hsien Loong has continued his father’s work of remoulding Singapore ever closer to the Chinese totalitarian model. She later went on to become Singapore’s Ambassador to the US and famously declined to appear to defend the PAP Government when I and Chee Soon Juan spoke at Yale University in 2012 against Yale setting up Yale-NUS. By failing to appear (she said it was likely to “generate more heat than light”) she was just following the established PAP policy of not trying to win intellectual arguments against its opponents but instead relying on coercion and intimidation of its domestic critics while buying off foreign critics with state resources.
Now she has retired from her US posting to become ambassador-at-large she continues to act as an international propagandist and apologist for the regime and Lee Hsien Loong in particular. A good example of this is her interview with CNBC on Friday. She claims that the Government “knew that foreign workers would be a stress point” but that “no one in the world” knew about asymptomatic infections. While I am not an expert in the virus or epidemiology this sounds like hindsight rationalization for the Government’s failure to take sensible precautions.
But it is more than just that. It illustrates how the PAP’s use of cheap foreign labour housed in densely packed, insanitary and inhumane dormitories to generate the economic growth without raising productivity has been carried to a point where it compromises Singaporeans’ safety. “You can’t argue with 10% economic growth” has always been the standard justification for why Singaporeans have enthusiastically allowed themselves to be stripped of their rights. Of course these foreign and domestic well-rewarded apologists for the regime omit to mention that almost all that growth comes from more inputs rather than using those inputs more productively.
Chan goes on to state what we all know, that
“Singapore is the densest city and the densest country in the world … We are denser than Hong Kong, and dense cities have a problem dealing with epidemics, with pandemics.”
Again, she says this as though that is something that just happened by chance rather than being a deliberate result of PAP policy. We have the world’s highest population density (after Monaco, a tiny tax haven between France and Italy) because for decades the PAP have used population growth as an easy way of generating economic growth, thus justifying their absolute control (see the links to some of my blogs on this subject going back ten years or so). Economic growth generated through cheap labour and external demand has generated huge surpluses which the Government has not shared with Singaporeans. Even the rise in property prices from population growth has disadvantaged younger Singaporeans while not benefiting the older generation as HDB public housing is 99-year leasehold. As with everything else it is the Government who benefits disproportionately and the people who have appointed and paid themselves to invest the massive surpluses and run the state-owned companies, the most egregious examples of which are the PM and his wife.
Perhaps the Covid-19 crisis will get Singaporeans to re-examine their unquestioning acceptance of PAP policies and to take a long hard look at the distribution of costs and benefits. To prevent that Lee Hsien Loong wanted this election to be held as soon as possible. Will Singaporeans wise up before it is too late or will they present him with an even bigger blank cheque?
An American Economist’s Take on the Singapore Model
Perspiration without Inspiration. Singapore’s Role in the Asian Economic Boom.