Friday, January 21, 2011

Freedom Come, Freedom Go...


Several snippets that highlight the contradiction that is the beloved Little Red Dot, i.e. Singapore.


1: Singapore once again rates highly in the 2011 Heritage Foundation (and WSJ) Index of Economic Freedom. A close second behind Hong Kong, and just ahead of Australia,

[ Aside: Australia comes in 3rd presumably because the Huge Mining Coroprations of Australia recently showed the ease with which they could a) rip the guts out of the country, b) sell it to China and c) change any government that has the temerity to say, "Whoa, enough already, you greedy arseholes, what about letting the small companies have a go? Here's a tax on your obscene profits (that's money left over after all that needed to be spent has been spent) that will provide funding for a scheme that will guarantee truly fair competition for small exploration companies as opposed to the monopolies and cartels that you behemoths call capitalism."

But I came here not to praise Australia, but to bury Singapore.]

An article in Asia Times Online deconstructs the Heritage's methodology, and makes not just a few points about this so-called freedom. For a start they are talking specifically of economic freedom here.

This is not First Amendment friendly stuff. They examine how easy, for example, it is to run roughshod over worker's rights, and sometimes, when they fall out of the trailer trucks that carry them to the construction site, workers themselves. Sorry I meant to say the "flexibility" of the workforce - flexible enough to bend over backward in order to get any job and to be hired and fired on a whim. Slavery would rate highly on this sort of index - oops, did someone mention how some domestic workers are treated here in Whip-a-poor?

According to the Heritage website, "Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself."

That roughly translates as work, consume, die peoples. When I was growing up in Oz, this was not was meant by freedom.

The blinkered simplification of a word like "freedom" without qualification, almost reminds me of the times that George H Bush used to come to the Asian Tiger economies sprouting talk of how free markets and free societies run hand in hand, or was it run with wolves in sheep's clothing?... *cough* *cough* "hhhuuuurrrrrkkkk* Oops, sorry, choking on a bit of vomit there...

John Raulston Saul tore that simplistic truism of Bush Snr's a new arsehole as I remember, in The Collapse Of Globalisation, a few years back.

Then some genuine irony, I mean a conundrum - Hong Kong which ranks #1 in the Economic Freedom Index, also rates extremely highly in freedom of speech and freedom of association, to the point of near anarchy! The exact opposite of what Singapore maintains is the essential political stance for its own economic success! How come?

According to Joe Studwell's Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, it is not because of their political systems at all, but because the families that run them are slightly less corrupt and self-serving than the families that run the countries around them. (About 20 families run Asia. One family runs Singapore and takes in about 60% of its GDP.) It's a lay-down misère (in Australia that means a certain win, not a certain loss) for business where to invest in Southeast Asia or lower China. Fascism or anarchism, it doesn't make a difference if the ports are free and pay-offs are minimal.

Anyway, point of story, don't confuse your freedoms...


2. In completely unrelated news about freedom (of speech and association), the leader of the Singapore's main opposition party, The Singapore Democrats, Dr Chee Soon Juan, appeal has failed and has been fined $20,000 and given a 20 week jail term (again).

His crime?

Speaking to people.

Talking to people.

Out loud.

In Singapore.

Where you need a licence to talk (or write on a blog, See point #5, below).

Dr Chee is the guy who, in a previous period of incarceration (he's in jail more than he's out of it) was sprayed with cold water and made to stand in front of an air-conditioner. It's not water-boarding but it's not 100% pleasant either, even in Singapore's constantly hot, muggy weather.

Of course that fact that this blatantly political result has gone through in a period leading up to what the ruling family party, the PAP, laughingly call an election, does not reveal anything about the judiciary in Singapore. Not one bit.


3: Singaporeans are disappearing race(s). In a town that complains of too many foreigners (like me), the locals are not doing enough fucking to breed more locals. The birth rate of 1.16 is way below what is required to replace the population let alone grow it. At this rate Singapore will invert into its own belly button in 20-25 minutes, which is about the time it takes for a Singaporean to find his dick and put on a condom. According to the authorities, it is the Singaporean's fault for not having babies. Too lazy to fuck.

Izzy, who camped at E@LGHQ for fortnight over New Years, put me onto a great quote from blogger Menwongth.

One of my friends, a born-and-bred white-collar Singaporean in her early thirties, married with no children and no intention of having them, commented that some species just don't breed in captivity.

That's not a hundred miles from the truth Gerald Giam (linked above) of the Worker's Party, says; the falling birth is due to "too busy at work, cost of living too high, education system too stressful for children (and their parents), cannot find a place of their own to stay." (My emphasis.)

It's not increased competition from "foreign talent" (like me) but from cheap, unskilled workers for the service industry out of mainland China or skilled(ish) builders from the sub-continent who can be hired for up to a 1/3 lower salaries. The Singaporeans have to work longer, faster, cheaper in order to compete.

Too busy. No place for privacy, no time for sex, lah.


4: Domestic workers are overpaid. When the wages of slavery rise to the point that Singaporeans rebel, does this mean they are threatening to match the conditions of Hong Kong, where maids can earn more than double, up to about $S1,000 per month and, horror of horrors, they get a day off each week!

Not quite, but an easy solution strikes me. Maybe those Singaporeans who have been squeezed out of work by the foreign talent can drop their extortionate domestic helpers, and utilize the free time given by their own unemployment to wash their own dishes, do their own ironing, fall out their own windows and wipe the arses of their own incontinent aged parents (who themselves lost their employment as Kopitiam cleaning aunties due to foreign talent).

And the ladies might also find the opportunity to squeeze out more babies and rescue the country from irrelevance.


5. The website where I read most of these stories , The Online Citizen (via Facebook actually) has been gazetted, whatever the fuck that means, to register as a political association, despite being merely a conduit for political news from a variety of sources.

This means, even though it is a loosely (dis)organized community blog, not an organisation, it has to conform to rules that apply to political parties, such a transparency in its leaders and funding and the banning of foreign sources.

The immensely wise and amusing Singapore blogger mr brown, himself once silenced by the Singapore media authorities, takes this latest news to ad ridiculum lengths by suggesting that even taxi-drivers should be gazetted.

[Singabloodypore, run by a former "foregn talent" from Scotland, is also on still top things in Singapore as well.]


Enough for the moment. Bangkok work is quiet, hence the lengthy blogging. Time to go for a blowjob massage.



anthony said...

Are you trying to do a TOC and get gazetted?

dibabear said...

If he does he'll get more trim. Politicians always seem to get more poon.

Also notice how he has to get a blowjob cum massage in Thailand because, as we all know, Singapore girls don't. That's what LKY says and I believe every word he says.

expat@large said...

No, nothing like that in Singapore.

expat@large said...

Quote from that link:

"I am not a fan of the OT scene, not at all, bored to death of that shit, don't want to play at being a BF, no, I don't like to get drunk just hanging behind it either. Don't want them staying over, don't want them telling me any stories, don't want them hanging out, don't want to deal with seeing them and having them running over to me again next time I happen to be there."

Somebody channeling E@L?

knobby said...

Interesting you should quote Meng favourably, his being a capitalist and all!

On the baby question, while the macroeconomists and policymakers look at the 20,000 feet view, I prefer to look ground up. How many of my peers are married, let alone thinking of making babies? Not that many. Many aren't even dating anyone. Why? They aren't thinking, "how will I ever make enough money to buy baby formula?" That's so far down the road that it's laughable to think that that's the reason for the low baby-count. I think it's a combination of:

- high expectations in mates, at least in part driven by the media
- fickleness and flightiness even after acquiring a mate
- people feeling and acting like they've adulthood later in life than previous generations. There was an NYTimes article about this some time back. Dashed if I can find it again.
- just an active choice that making babies (and more generically, living a 'programmed' life) isn't the be-all-end-all and a realisation that there are several possible paths through life

expat@large said...

I seriously think it's that wives or GFs are actively pursuing careers first because, a) a good job is excellent (look at mine! - I mean the women doing the same job - and it's mostly women) b) there is a lot more travel in world, not just for holidays and so pregnancy is put off until "we get home from this expat posting", "this Himalayan trek is finished", "this grand tour of Europe" etc... and c) cost of living is rising (and that travel!) and you need to be running two incomes as fast as you can just to stay in the same fiscal place.

You think I'm not really living like a capitalist? - again look at my job and life!

But I am a "socialist" at heart because I think a governmental system that is based on ensuring equality, balance and fairness so that none are left behind, and to regulate the threat of monopolies, cartels and corporatisation, would have a less detrimental effect on people and probably on the entire planet. The desperate chasing of growth upon growth upon growth if fucking up the world. In the long run we will be dead, Keynes said. But our grandchildren and great-grandchildren (if we have any) will not be, and they'll be suffering then for the bad things we are doing now for short term gain. I blame capitalism for this and all bad things. Bad coffee, iPads, being overweight, etc...

knobby said...

yeah, the travel and career thing is definitely true. along with the self-confidence (a good thing) that guff like SATC (mostly a bad thing) has brought to women of a certain age. though the travel stuff is only for a certain monied class, budget airlines notwithstanding. the 49-year old and 38-year old unmarried secretaries in my office aren't unmarried because they played globetrotter.

> You think I'm not really living like a capitalist?

didn't wanna say it but thunk it often enough. don't need you to acknowledge it :)

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