Taking Out The Trash

It is more important to have a system of removing bad government with the least amount of bloodshed in the most peaceful manner than to minimize the roadblocks for a Competent Government.

I’ve just seen an article on Aljazera English edition which announced that the Brazilian Senate is going investigate the handling of Covid-19 cases by the administration of Jair Bolonaro. The report can be found at: [LINK]

My only thought upon reading this headline was “Thank God,” and “Finally.” While Brazil under the “Trump of the Tropics” has received less global attention than the original version to the north, the disaster that is Brazil’s Covid experience is not less painful. At the time of writing, some 362,180 Brazilians have died from Covid-19. Only the USA has had more deaths.

Brazil, under Mr. Bolsonaro cannot use the excuse that it is a poor and under-developed nation in its management of Covid-19. Other poor and third world nations have done much better. Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh which have a population similar to that of Brazil come no where close to Brazil in terms of either infections or fatalities from Covid-19.

To get a picture of where Brazil stands, one can just confine it to South America where it is the undisputed giant. If you compare Brazil to its regional rival Argentina, you’d notice that Brazil beats Argentina hands down – Covid has killed 0.171 percent of Brazil (362,180 divided by 211,715,973 times 100) whereas it is killed 0.128 percent of Argentina (58,542 divided by 45,479,118 times 100). Covid 19 has infected 6.46 percent of Brazil (13,677,564 divided by 211,715,973 times 100) and 5.72 percent of Argentina (2,604,157 divided by 45,479,118 times 100).

Covid-19 has done one great service for the world. It has shown us that leadership matters. The top three countries that have screwed up Covid are the world’s most prominent military and economic power and two of the world’s emerging giants. What do all three have in common? The answer is leadership. In India, it’s been a case of bad execution. In fairness to Mr. Modi, he has avoided saying stupid things but the execution of Covid-19 measures has been as well executed as say the demonetization and implementation of GST. The story in the USA and Brazil was different. Both Mr. Trump and his tropical clone made it a point to “downplay” the severity of the virus and repeatedly undermined efforts by state governors to control the virus and to add fuel to the fire, they proceeded to actively make life difficult for medical experts.

World Geniuses in Botching a Crisis - Photo: Economic Times

The only saving grace for the three biggest failures in Covid-19 management is the fact that they are democracies within an inbuilt system of checks and balances, which hopefully underlines the great point in favour of democratic systems – namely the fact that the democratic system provides a nation with the most effective and peaceful way to remove incompetent government.

It’s been argued that democracy is messy and autocratic systems can be more effective and efficient. In Singapore, our Prime Minister gained notoriety by saying that if there were more “opposition voices” (note that the complaint is not about having an opposition that could form an alternative government), Singaporeans would suffer because he’d have to spend more time trying to “fix” the opposition than running the country.

To be fair, to him, Singapore is in many respects exceedingly well run and there’s been a degree of competence at the top which other countries envy us for. A wise and benevolent ruler can do wonders for a nation and to be fair to Singapore’s system, we’ve thus far had reasonably capable people in charge.

However, as Bhutan’s King-Father who imposed democracy on his nation argues, “What’s to guarantee that future kings would be wise, benevolent and competent?” Cracks do appear in “perfect systems,” if they’re not fixed, they end up being broken. Only problem with cracks is that nobody will fix them unless someone alerts the powers to be to the nature of the crack and that cannot be done if the powers that be treat criticism as treason. One only needs to look at Indonesia during the Asian Financial crisis of the late 1990s. Suharto ran a growing economy. However, nobody challenged the status quo and when the crisis hit and revealed that much of the growth was based on unsustainable debt, everything collapsed. Instead of trying to fix the problems, Suharto’s government dug in and it took violence on the streets to get rid of him.

Hence, the need to remove incompetent government in as peaceful and efficient a manner as possible is more important than creating efficiency for the government of the day. The likes of Hosni Mubarak, Suharto and Ben Ali were only removed when blood on the streets was spilt.

While my insane-right leaning friends would beg to differ, Trump was removed by the ballot box. Bolsonaro looks like he will be called to account by senate for his mismanagement of the crisis. Sure, Trump didn’t go quietly the way he should have upon electoral defeat but it was still the most efficient and peaceful way (which to be fair to Trump, he exposed the weaknesses in the system, where people assumed things would work in a certain way rather than having it written into the system itself) for him to be removed. Hopefully the Senate will act and if not, Brazil’s electorate will give Mr. Bolsonaro the boot for his incompetence.

Aspiring autocrats need to remember Bhutan’s King-Father who took the move to remove his institution from the day-to-day running of things and gave power to the people so that people would be ready for the possibility of incompetent government and have to means to remove it peacefully.


Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.




9 Responses to “Taking Out The Trash”

  • Dirtiest:

    There is no trash here, under the carpets a lot.

    GD Star Rating
  • Tracey Ching:

    Typical stupid article by an IB agent to fellatio his boss. The technique and methodology he used here is to compare apples with oranges. Apples are different from oranges. Countries he mentioned are much bigger in size and population in comparison with Sinkapor. In Sinkapor, most things like Govt and corporate governances are opaque. We still do not know the salary of the pm’s second wife as one of many prime examples. Every lie, spin and propaganda hurts the citizenry ultimately. May justice ultimately prevails. Curses and damnations befall on those propagandists. Propagandists may win the battle but they will lose the War on the truth.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    ……..and gave power to the people so that people would be ready for the possibility of incompetent government and have to means to remove it peacefully.
    Dear Tang Li,
    YOu are a idiot to believe the people can remove a incompetent government.

    Scammer President Tsai doctoral is fake.
    Did she take responsibility and apologize and resigned?

    Can the people remove their 36 years cheating / scamming President Tsai ?
    No, instead scammer President Tsai sue the professor Peng who exposed her.

    Scammer President Tsai dare not show her thesis and her degree.

    “論文門”盼能真相大白 “賀德芬.林環牆”司法抗爭控不公

    Look at ROC Taiwan, from KMT(国民党)to DPP(民主进步党)everyone use fake degree and doctorate.

    But Democratic Progressive Party(民主进步党) takes the cake.

    President Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文)fake her Master degree and Doctorate degree.
    “論文門”盼能真相大白 “賀德芬.林環牆”司法抗爭控不公

    Money talk Bull shit walk… Chink are full of lies and we must up our safeguard against fake degree from the Chink.

    We must follow the good professor Denis Peng who sue Tsai for faking her Doctorate degree.

    We will sue sue sue the Chink in SG with fake degree.

    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat

    GD Star Rating
  • AhHa:

    Oh yes Mr. Tang Li, in your expert opinion Sir how is Sweden doing these days? Their economy? The death toll from Covid would be of interest as well. Speaking of the death toll from Covid I believe I read the number to be around 3,000,000, wow! From a population of 7.8 Billion, hummmm what is that I believe 4 one hundredth of 1%, is that correct. In this time frame how many have died from TB? From cancer? from the flu? From auto accidents? Why not reflect on some numbers you seem to be a man of the world, dig deeper..

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  • opposition dude:

    In Singapore we do things via the ballot box. We removed 9 monkeys in 3 elections and are expected to remove more in the next election.

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  • Alibaba leftist haywirecomplex:

    (While my insane-right leaning friends would beg to differ, Trump was removed by the ballot box.)

    Only an arrogant hard-sell from the far left could make such a radical statement without proferring right and proper evidence. It’s as if he exercises Dominion over the U.S. juridical process!

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  • xoxo:

    Yeah we need to ThRASH it(them) out!

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  • FT Trash:

    Can we talk about FT trash who surround us like that Ramesh.

    Is Singapore overwhelmed with trash instead of real talents? What is the national productivity not performing well since number of years ago.

    GD Star Rating
  • Tangli Buchikonya:

    Alibaba leftist haywirecomplex:
    (While my insane-right leaning friends would beg to differ, Trump was removed by the ballot box.)

    Only an arrogant hard-sell from the far left could make such a radical statement without proferring right and proper evidence. It’s as if he exercises Dominion over the U.S. juridical process!

    This ‘snowflake’ left-wing writer could be receiving a salary for generating this mish mash of unnecessarily turgid, abstruse prose.

    Demonetization? I feel victimized by this writing. I think it may be trash also. Since this article is totally useless, I have decided to stick with my own definition of trash: like pornography, I know it when I see it.

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