Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ISA - in search of adjudicators

Commented on yawningbread's article on the ISA (see link in the link area lah!)

One funny question our ISA brings up about us is:

ARE there no non-partisan civic leaders that we can turn to as impartial reviewers rather on this proposed 5-yr board of inquiry rather than day representatives of the government, executive, legislative or judicial?

At the end of the day - to excommunicate an individual from his own society (presuming ISA is primarily used on citizens rather than foreigners who will just be deported to their home country prison systems), greater society have had a say on whether the said individual is a THREAT to its continued well-being. Yes, the judiciary should be involved, or at least, someone to ensure that procedural propriety was carried out, but to for a representative of the current government to chair the inquiry encourages a pro-govt bias.

In that sense, a non-current ex-judiciary or ex-law practicioner would reduce any pro-current-government bias on the board.

If intelligence security is an issue, then, having people that society trust as upstanding and incorruptible to review an arrest would provide greater society with a re-assurance that the executive branch is not abusive of its wide powers, whilst reducing the opportunity for intelligence leaks.

But I do agree with anonymous1 - easier to arrest the insociable (terror, crime, whatnots) over other lawbreakings rather than some insubstantial allegation that they cannot prove.
(which is why Mr Chee and company keep getting arrested on minor laws of public peace etc, rather than given the ISA hammer to take him out as a political force).

If other democracies (or at least, accountable governments that DO get thrown out of office due to abuses of power) can live without an ISA, why does a tiny city-state require one to defend itself from itself? Is it fear that we could become the pawns in international geo-politik (and what implications that gives for our own leaders who can be influenced so readily!) or that we still face 'Konfrontasi'-style threats or a resurgence of social-evolution (previously known as communism)?

I stand on the abolitionists' side. ISA has more cons than pros in its ease for executive abuse. If we are to create a society of trust rather than fear, then ISA is a roadblock that needs to be removed.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Bleach for a future

Inspired(?) because polite discussion doesn't get people worked up... so might as well point out the bleeding obvious.


Bleach for a future on a red dot
"Trust us" said the men in white
(Starched so white to be stainless)
progress for all through meritocracy
(nurtured at one's own scholastic pace)
To each according to one's ability
(as determined at the tea parties in white)
the rewards of one's efforts
(one's magnitude of the reward)


Revitalizing entrepreneurship in Singapore

In another reply to a YawningBread post about non-Singaporeans' grassroots-entrepreneurship:

Its all in the mindset; Singaporeans just have had it drummed out of our minds.

When we encounter a problem, instead of coming up with new solutions to the problem, we either fall back on past solutions that have worked, or wait for someone else to solve the problem.

In most other societies, people will step forward and take their chances with their own solution (however good or bad the solution might be). A Singaporean is likelier to stand still and wait.

Do we have a pro-business environment? Yes and no.
Strong regulation means the majority of startup costs are known, and hidden costs (such as 'influencing' bureaucracies) are reduced.

But, is it conducive to new ideas? NO. As Ducktours has shown, our bureaucracies are great at administrating the known, but haplessly unwilling to take any real responsibility for any decision that has not been decided before, resulting in that businessman needing a Prime Minister to give him the scissors for that Gordian knot.

With the mentality that anything new (and thus, a need to cover my ass from a possible failure) creating needless escalation of decision making, we have a bureaucracy that is efficient, but not effective.

If so, how can true entrepreneurship (new business concepts/ideas etc) flourish?

All we get is a rehash of someone else's existing business, and an open tender that means that someone with a great idea, WILL end up not being the one benefiting most from it.

What needs to be changed?
The whole mindset of taking responsibility. If an office bearer is in charge, than he/she has to take responsibility for a decision (eg: duck tours), not pass it up the chain of command because its risky to take a stand.

Taking the ducktours example, the least LTA or MPA could have done would have been for the heads of the registration offices to meet each other, and issue a joint license or something. That is an action that can be taken at the "xxA" level, not wait for a PM to say "wtf!"

When SG bureaucracy is able to make decisions that carry individual responsibility, then, yes, entrepreneurship may then have the chance to flourish in SG again. Until then, we will have to be content with very narrow bands of entrepreneurship restricted to re-offering existing market offerings.