What is making the 4G PAP politicians so nervous?

When parliament passed the POFMA Bill at 10.30pm during the second day of the fasting month of Ramadan, one cannot help but wonder why there is such an urgency attached to this bill. Naturally, the lack of concise and timely answers on the part of the government just raises more questions.
One key question that was never really answered decisively was why the urgency in passing such a contentious bill despite the strong public pushback?

Logic dictates that given the strong pushback, it would be wiser for the government not to be rushed into making any hasty decision. Brushing them off as small, irrelevant or insignificant also defeats the very premise of public consultation.

Two Unsettling Revelations

During the parliamentary debate, the PAP MPs, like a well-rehearsed orchestral, were hitting all their rehearsed notes until lawyer Vikram Nair stated that “the court would be overwhelmed with hundredths of applications from ministers for POFMA if judges were to be the first arbiter of the bill”. When WP Leon Pereria questioned him further, Vikram cited that the numbers could be high during election time.

With such unsettling statements from a practising lawyer, one would have expected the bill to be set aside. When parliament was almost empty by mid-afternoon, it looks like the parliamentary-interest in the bill has also dwindled. By late evening, parliament was “miraculously” packed when the bill was put to a vote.

Here lies the second revelation. If the elected MPs were largely missing and not listening to the live debate during the day, on what basis are they premising their votes upon? Aren’t those “missing” MPs showing blatant disrespect to the high office of our parliament? And isn’t such action making a mockery of our parliamentary debate?

The public call for parliamentary debate to be telecasted live is starting to make a lot of sense now. If we cannot see those whom we have elected into parliament in real action, how can we be expected to be electing better MPs to make Singapore a better place for all?

But live broadcasting is also a double-edge sword. If those 4G politicians were as good as what PM Lee has endorsed upon them, then they would be able to articulate succinctly on public policies and national debates, much to the detriments of the opposition. I am wondering as to why PM Lee is not pushing for live telecast of parliamentary debate to gain an upper hand politically? Could it be that the PAP is modest about showing off the flair and competency of their MPs so openly?

Will POFMA Be Used Politically?

By Vikram’s statements, it seems that those who had rationalized that there is a political component to the POFMA Bill are not too “far-fetched” after all. I truly empathize with all those good souls who had invested much time and effort in researching their feedbacks. Their diversity shows that most are not political in nature and their many concerns seek only to ensure that Singapore remains open to constructive public feedbacks and criticisms, and that the only avenue where the public can come together in demanding due accountability and transparency of our political leaders and public institutions is not curtailed.

While it is true that people can vote out any politician at the ballot box, it is equally true that not all issues need to be decided at the ballot box but can be resolved by an open public debate and consensus. With the POFMA bill passed, should all concerned Singaporeans become cynical here forth, and let all issues snowball into catastrophes until next election?

The Good & Bad of Being Cynical

By being cynical, we can selfishly preserve our own sensibility, but it also means that the government will be losing a critical feedback channel and will no longer benefit from its citizens’ effort in research and their honest feedbacks. Such a self-inflicted dilemma does not augur well for us as a nation.

Cynically speaking, Singaporeans now have every right to demand that the government stop using the catch-phrase of “shared responsibility” since it is making itself the first arbiter of the law. If our political leaders see themselves as such, then it is equally true that they can see themselves as sufficiently faultless and competent, probably even to the point that they can do no wrong. Are we naively falling into fallacies by allowing such presumptive assumptions to dictate our collective rationale?

By looking back at the public outcries and pushback on the Casino Acts, Reserved Elected Presidency and now POFMA, we can see a pattern of “Fiat Accompli” – where a decision has been decided long before those affected hear about it or was consulted, leaving them with no option but to accept the decision, and it is looking like a norm rather than an exception.

Same Repetition, Same Outcome

When PM Lee suddenly announced that the 2016 Presidential Election (PE) would be reserved for a minority race, it self-excludes the highly popular Dr Tan Cheng Bock from running in the PE2016.

When a few brave Malay candidates from the community stepped forward to contest, Law Minister announced a change by raising the financial criteria of candidate’s management experience in company with at least S$500-million in shareholders’ equity instead of S$100-million previously. This again self-excludes the two brave hearts and literally means that there is no one left to contest in PE2016 except for the PAP endorsed candidate.

Win the Argument, Lose the War Mentality

The irony of these two sweeping changes, carried out with just as much urgency as the POFMA Bill, means that Singaporeans got to elect their first Reserved Elected President without the need of an election. The line between being elected and appointed became blurred.

Law Minister Shanmugan weighted in then to dispel the notion that these changes were implemented to prevent certain individuals from standing in the PE2016. He rationalize that Singaporeans should “start with a set of LOGICAL questions on the system, and then apply it FAIRLY”. His widely-quoted four “logical” questions were:

1) Do we BELIEVE that Singapore needs a president with SPECIFIC POWERS to say no to the government?

2) If so, do you think this person needs to be ELECTED and cannot be APPOINTED by the government?

3) If so, do you think there must be SOME CRITERIA beyond being a Singaporean aged 45 and above, so that he can say yes or no to spending a large sum from our reserve?

4) And if so, do you think the criteria need to be reviewed REGULARLY?

He further stated that the government, after the Elected Presidency was introduced 25 years ago, was merely updating the system for the “best possible chance of having the RIGHT PERSON for the job, not making exception to ensure a particular individual would qualify or not”.

New Can of Worms

Why make so many changes so suddenly after 25 years of inaction? Why not allow the two Malay candidates to contest against their endorsed candidate, and make the financial change only after PE2016? Again, its urgency was unfathomable.

Instead of having an opportunity to unite the nation, Singapore ended up with another wasted opportunity, and in the process, created further undue tension between the people and the government. The same is true of the Casino Acts and the recent POFMA Bill. These Hard Truths are just mind-blogging for a simpleton like me.

Syllogistic Fallacies

As a lawyer, the line of reasoning that the Law Minister is applying is known as propositional logic or inductive reasoning to debunk or support his case, like he would in any Court of Law. He did the same with the POFMA Bill except that in the Public Court of Opinion, there was no judge to forcefully demand that he substantiate his argument and not indulge in syllogistic fallacies.

Anyone who would review his four lines of logical reasoning can see how flawed and unquantified they have been premised upon, and also the lack of the prevailing variables. To begin with, he did not substantiate what exactly is the “specific power” needed to say no to the government of the day.

His second line of questioning self-contradicted his own reasoning logic when the PAP endorsed candidate became the reserved Elected President – when there is no “sensible” difference between being elected or appointed. The same is true of his third and fourth line of questioning when he was again vague in detailing out what exactly is of paramount concern that drives the government into making these changes so hastily instead of regularly.

Reframing his logic and line of reasoning across his recent argument for the POFMA Bill, we can see the similarities at play. Without a learned judge in place to demand that he substantiates his argument more factually and succinctly, syllogistic fallacies seem to have gotten the better of us all for all the wrong reasons.

Importance of Clarity, Detail & Logic

Extrapolating these fallacies into the proposed application of the POFMA Bill where ministers are empowered to determine what is Fake News instead of Learned Judges, concerned Singaporeans are naturally alarmed.

Even if we have the best technology to build the world’s smartest computing system and most complex algorithms to help our ministers in analytical prediction to screen out Fake News, the mere error of these fallacies would mean that we are never going to get any useful or meaningful output out of our “best of class” system.

If grounded logic cannot transform a butcher into a medical surgeon overnight, how are the 4G ministers going to play the role of the Learned Judge in arbitrating what is quantifiable as fake in any alleged Fake News overnight then?

Even the academics and industry experts are as clueless as the general public on what exactly constitutes a Fake News that warrant governmental intervention. If everyone is in the dark except for our Law Minister, can anyone or everyone call him directly for free consultation before we publish any article?

To better engage the public on a peer-to-peer basis, the Law Minister ought to have put in greater effort in quantifying and substantiating his logics, and also take into consideration the variables that were at play. As at the end of the day, why argue to win at all cost and lose sight of the missed opportunities at hand? Such a mentality makes me wonder if he will end up doing more harm than good for our country as a whole.

As such, it may be healthier to remain cynical when it comes to future public consultation as our human psychology is not meant to take such harsh abuse. If our 4G ministers think that they know best, then there is nothing we can contribute to make them better.

If they want to engage Singaporeans critically, then our 4G ministers ought to show more discipline by substantiating and quantifying their argument more factually and also put in more effort in articulating the details more succinctly. One cannot engage in critical dialogue without the necessary discipline of all stakeholders and the free access to critical information. There is clearly no room for pure laziness, vagueness or motherhood statement.

As the POFMA Bill is making some Singaporeans nervous, the reverse could also be true. Using the Law Minister’s own line of reasoning, one may premise that the 4G politicians are equally nervous. If so, that may explain why they need such a high-powered bill going into the upcoming election. If so, what exactly are they nervous about?

Looking ahead as we are about halfway into this supposedly election year, the many pertaining issues and also paradoxical ones like these are pushing more concerned Singaporeans into thinking much more critically. This awakened consciousness may just become PAP’s Achilles Heel at the upcoming election if we collectively believe that Singaporeans deserve better.


Joseph Nathan



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25 Responses to “What is making the 4G PAP politicians so nervous?”

  • oxygen:

    WALKING GARBAGE BINS clueless of the way forward for LEE-jiapore.

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  • oxygen:

    DOES POFMA ARBITER or any sitting judge knows the answer to RESERVE ACCOUNTING in the oil and gas industry? Even the US Securities & Exchange Commission and UK Fraud Office investigating Shell does not know the answer any more than Donald Trum/Xi JinPing or Economists know who is paying for the tariff on Chinese exports into the US.

    POFMA IS A LOADED POLITICAL GUN TO GAG THE MOUTHS OF OPPOSITION POLITICS at election time and a blanket to cover up peasants self-education on politics, economics, finance and law applications in and through the social media.

    The arbiter of POFMA are just mortals PLAYING DIVINE pretensions of know-it-all.

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  • vincent tan:

    don’t feedback too often please.
    Let ah loong dig his own political grave.
    …. fake malay Elected jarga
    ….. 30% water more bill$ , plain extortion
    …… medishield careshield many more funnyshield
    …… delay further delay more-further delay cpf returns
    ……. sudden $45 000 000 000 gift to Gic for what ?
    ……. more nonsenses as may turn to june than july….
    Continue counting, don’t forget / forgive till
    ********* Election 2019 **********

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  • C’est la vie:

    Over-reacting and arsed-analogy !!!

    The PAP’s never nervous, … never !!!

    Come GE time, they’ll triumph as they’ve always triumph !!!

    The electorates subordination is assured !!!

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  • I like lyCHEE, hate LOONGan:

    Like it or not, the POGBA, oops I mean POFMA bill has been passed. If we don’t like it, what we can do on our part is to have the guts to vote out the ministers and the papies! If GE is still far away, we should be worried. But it’s just round the corner, all is not lost.

    Take a leaf out of the Msians’ book. The Msians have done it, so can we. We can change our G like they did. A new and better G can still remove the fake news law and change any others.

    For now, we’ve no power to stop POGBA, oops (hehe, I prefer POGBA to POFMA), POFMA so let’s just think positive. Sit down, relax and watch how POFMA will come into play.

    For example, after pm sister’s most recent post on FB about her “d**honourable brother” having misled their pa, no minister not even pm himself has said anything about it. Nothing spoken and no action taken so it just mean what LWL has posted are not fake news. At least now when something is true, we get confirmation that it’s true.

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  • On Natural Aristocracy:

    By three methods may we learn wisdom:
    First, through reflecting about others, which is the noblest way;
    Second, by imitating others, which is the easiest way;
    Third, by undergoing experience – this is the bitterest.
    Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

    To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes wholesome Virtue: Gravity, Generosity of the soul, Sincerity, Earnestness, and Kindness.

    [Confucius, 5th cent. BC]

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  • Shared responsibility wayang:

    After 5 decades, Singaporeans still believed that wayang is true facts on stage. Shared responsibility is wayang n sinkies think that is real. But pap policies have all the ingredients of bad sinkies share good pap shares ONLY with PAPplps n who the daft sinkies think they r, using the dynastic favorite cliche ‘U r jianmin or the despicable populace’. PAP remains in power by popular votes or as Oxdick says PAP came in on populism. Populism is a golden word at GE to papisses but becomes a fake nasty nation destructive word in between GEs. Suddenly the entire judicial system is not capable to deal with justice on fake news, ONLY the ministers with legal or illegal background can but legal also as far as explaining laws favorable to pap eg the latest defense of the AG, which popularly publicly accredited with Conflict of Interest on he being a personal lawyer to PM, but was explained that the CoI is no issue on LW cos he is a successful lawyer. So correspondingly all ministers, CEOs n the superriches will have no issues with any charges under the laws becos they r successful in their career n this should include big time gang chief n successful terrorists. In brief u r criminal if u r a failure in your career (dropouts) regardlessly. But a minister recently advises sinkies not to urge their kids too hard to struggle to attain academic performance for u admission while the govt spends billions to provide free education for foreign students from primary to postgraduate studies. Following up with this public advice, PAP n ST came out with the message that dropouts can be mmillionaires but the possibility n probability is conveniently omitted ( half truth? is this fake news?). Nevertheless POPULISM has it that PM is above all laws as now he has a personal lawyer as chief prosecutor n CPIB under his foot n so are ministers n all successfuls according to the minister who decreed that if u r successful, no laws can touch ur success makes all legal charges as no issue.

    No wonder anything bad, citizens r also responsible. Anything Good, citizens r not responsible, only pap n its plps r responsible. How nice PAP for sharing only the bad things with u.

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  • Singaporean Kong Come:

    What is making the 4G PAP politicians so nervous? They’re has no political experience, not politically sound, just push in by the backdoor by their puppet master. When Dr M tested them by using the oldwater agreement, they don’t have the art of negotiating.Just igore n shut up. Using a fake donkey President to offical visit China, China has alot of fake product, China has a big laugh. Did they get anything from China ? Nothing. Taiwan Han Guo Yu, went n negotitated with China, come back with 2over billion of agriculture order.

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  • Nervous pap public servant:

    What is making the 4G PAP politicians so nervous?

    The pap public servants are very afraid that social media might have already eroded their 69.9% support to an all time low losing percentage… So must have POFMA ASAP.

    The pap public servants are very afraid that they will all be sacked by the Citizen Masters of Singapore at the coming election! Could this be the possible reason for our deare$t Prime Servant aka Prime Minister handing over to H$K…

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  • Asd:

    Say say say ..

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  • taxi uncle:

    Well,GE coming soon.
    Must find more excuses to have added advantage.
    You see they cannot hide the truths anymore n they must find NEW WAYS to do it.

    Only thing is sgs dont understand the true meaning of UNITY.
    And so the oppo leaders all want to be BIG BROs?
    But to win BIG, there can only be ONE BIG BRO FOR ALL OPPO ad shown clearly in PH’s case.

    Oppo must understand UNITY IS NOT JUST STRENGTH BUT UNITY IS BASIC NECCESSITY in order to win GE.

    If oppo parties go into GE fragmented,they would not likely be able to make an impact.
    Sgs want to witness an UNITED OPPO to MAKE REAL CHANGE.

    GD Star Rating
  • HDB flat worth ZERO @ 99:

    What is making 4G politicians nervous is the “postponed payback” from GE2015. PAP was expecting to lose support during GE2015. That is why it created several SMCs to limit the “damage”. Fortunately for PAP, LKY died in 2015 before the elections. Many Singaporeans stupidly voted for PAP to thank LKY and support for PAP increased from 60% to 70% – the “LKY effect”. But this is a “one-off”. The payback that was supposed to happen in 2015 was “postponed” until the next GE.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    “.. MPs showing blatant disrespect to the high office of our parliament? And isn’t such action making a mockery of our parliamentary debate?”

    @Joseph; definitely MPs have no respect for our Parliament led by the PM himself. He used his power spending two days of Parliament to declare himself not guilty of abuse of power. “Monkey sees, monkey do”.

    “.. Even the academics and industry experts are as clueless as the general public on what exactly constitutes a Fake News that warrant governmental intervention.. “.

    Minister Josephine already defined what’s “Fake News”. Joseph Schooling already knew what is fake news. Maybe Schooling was paid to say so like he was in the advertisement.

    After POFMA was passed, suddenly there was a lot of Fake News surfaced. Can any minister clarify which is which?

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  • Keeping:

    Sg. Is a free jackpot game machine.

    No need put monies one.always free game.

    GD Star Rating
  • No Dafts or Dogs Allowed:

    Thanks for the concise but prolonged description of how we got here. More important to me is:

    You need to get to the gist of the matter which is, “What is making the 4G PAP politicians so nervous?

    Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for the opinions above, as apparently one of my dogs has learned how to type.

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  • whatABunchOfLosers!:

    they only know how to govern with fear and force…and sue till pants/skirt drop!
    shows they are truly the most inept gov we got so far.
    they are begining to realise their popularity ratings are sliding more n more.
    citizens are fed up and frustrated.
    the pm in waiting is no better..he and his junior are going to sink our SG into deeper depths.

    GD Star Rating
  • Lenardo Swaroski:

    Now they have been making claims that someone is using their name without their approval.

    Is this justifying for the law they passed?
    How can we know if this is not wayang?

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  • rukidding:

    Trying their luck to “manipulate” the outcome of the coming election !!!

    Thats the “REAL” reason behind !!!

    If not,…this bill could also be tabled AFTER the coming election !!

    Another “chow Kar” tactics played by these Pimps and prostitutes” ( P.a.p.)

    GD Star Rating
  • LKY's Machiavellian notes?:

    Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception … All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it is impossible), but it is to calculate risk and to act decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer … it is much safer to be feared than loved because love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails…

    GD Star Rating
  • HarderTruths:

    I believe there are many new ways to hold on to power that will be put into motion by pappies in the near future. or else other things that have been carried out in the past may come to light.

    These facts most likely are not in the interests of the people. Questions will be asked. Facts will be demanded.

    To make sure people have put into jail for discussing facts that cannot be denied or explained – the POFMA is passed to give them power to change fact into fiction and vice versa.

    If now we say Indian cannot be Malay, using POFMA the result is we say this person is not Indian but Malay. No one can challenge this ‘decision’ and ‘fact’.

    How else to hold on to power?

    GD Star Rating
  • Social Credit System:

    WALKING GARBAGE BINS clueless of the way forward for LEE-jiapore.

    The people makes this possible. It’s really the people.

    GD Star Rating
  • INDIAN malay milo:

    what is honesty?

    faking religious does not anyone honest make. just makes the anyone accumulate more sins.

    when IC says INDIAN and papa is INDIAN and mendaki says INDIAN but faking malay for S$m and now also milo.

    such dishonesty how to trust?

    GD Star Rating
  • RTA:

    How Minister can anyhow address

    speaker as president is parliment?

    GD Star Rating
  • oxygen:

    @ Social Credit System

    POFMA PROVES THAT WE AS A NATION are collectively backward of informed intelligence – at least nearly 70% are.

    Social Credit System: The people makes this possible. It’s really the people.

    Look at the contrast with Hong Kong. Both are resources empty geography of endowment BUT UNLIKE LEE-jiapore, Hong Kong stock exchange got itself a rich harvest of foreign-originated mining business listings and SGX nearly completed devoid of such listings.

    This will remain so.


    It has to do with the potential damage of POFMA undermining LEE-jiapore’s attractiveness and risks of such listing attributable to such business peculiarities of resources sector.

    What do I mean?

    Reserve accounting!! US SEC and UK fraud office stupidly attempted to prosecute Shell for allegedly overaggressive quantification and valuations of its underground oil and gas resources in public disclosure statements to shareholders and financial market. In the end, both prosecutions throw up their hands and withdrew litigation on grounds that its continuation is “not in the public interest”

    It is impossible of correct certainty estimation of underground invisible buried resources for oil and gas. So it must be the same for miners of mineral resources.

    Who in the natural resources mining space, in the right mind, would want to list its business on SGX when the POFMA opens them to risks to ridiculous law suit of ‘fake news” publishing in public announcement to the stock exchange here when they can list in HK without such a vague legislative punishment from aggrieved investors and fund managers – all things being equal of consideration.

    HK is under Chinese thumb of dictatorial rule and get their noses pulled in any direction by China, YET THEY ARE NOT STUPID ENOUGH TO CREATE THEIR OWN IMPEDIMENTS to growing as a global financial centre with such a dumbfarked piece of legislation providing ammunition to self-destruct.


    You are absolutely correct.

    GD Star Rating
  • MIWs do "miracles":

    Dont play play.
    Others were “amazed”
    how Mr. Pink re-packaged Indian into Malay Prez -
    hoping terrorist won’t target SG. !
    Remember the Ballot Box !

    GD Star Rating

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