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ST commentary mocked as netizens doubt PAP Govt’s readiness for top-down approach shift

Netizens ridiculed a Straits Times commentary’s proposal for Singapore’s government to shift from a top-down approach. They doubted the government’s readiness for such a rapid change, citing instances like the Land Transport Authority’s decision-making rigidity on its roll out of the ERP 2.0 system.



On Tuesday (28 May), ST published a commentary titled “How Singapore Can Prove It’s No Fluke,” written by Ms Tham Yuen-C, Senior Political Correspondent.

The piece suggested that while Singapore’s success may appear fortuitous, it is more accurately the result of deliberate planning and effective governance.

The author highlighted Singapore’s history of overcoming challenges such as its separation from Malaysia and the lack of natural resources under founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Additionally, the leadership of Lee Hsien Loong over the past 20 years is praised for significant economic growth, increased inclusivity, physical transformations, and long-term planning.

Ms Tham commends the leadership transition from Lee Hsien Loong to Lawrence Wong as a well-planned process, reinforcing stability and continuity in Singapore’s governance.

As Mr Wong was sworn in as Prime Minister, she emphasized that the new leadership faces a dynamic and unstable environment requiring agility and foresight.

Given the complexities of the operating environment, Ms Tham notes the swift adaptation of the PAP government in its operational methods.

This includes emphasising engaging with the public and fostering collaboration to address complex issues.

During his inaugural speech on 15 May, PM Wong pledged to harness the collective energies, imaginations, and strengths of all Singaporeans to navigate the complexities of the current global environment.

Despite the ST editor emphasizing the need to balance approaches for addressing multifaceted challenges effectively, netizens expressed scepticism regarding the government’s willingness to enact such a swift change.

Some pointed to examples like the perceived inflexibility of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in its decision-making process to bolster their argument.

Calls for moving beyond “top-down, regulation-heavy approach” 

She noted that the policymaking process is influenced by an indeterminate number of variables, highlighting the complexity inherent in decision-making.

Moreover, she underscored the necessity to balance a “top-down, regulation-heavy approach” with other strategies to address multifaceted challenges effectively.

Ms Tham further highlighted the importance of recognizing individual agency and the potential for even small actions to influence the entire system.

MS Tham argued that individuals should engage purposefully and constructively in navigating complex issues. This involves developing a deeper understanding of policymaking processes and being aware of cognitive biases to make rational decisions.

She further suggested that Singaporean leaders can foster collaboration by creating an environment where diverse viewpoints are welcomed, risks can be taken, and the status quo can be challenged.

“At the same time, we will need the steadying hand of the Government to steer collaboration for it to be effective, especially when there may be a lack of agreement.”

Skeptical views on Singapore Government’s shift from top-down approach

Observing comments on ST’s Facebook post, it’s evident that many disagreed with Ms Tham’s suggestion, expressing scepticism over the Singapore government’s willingness to abandon the top-down approach.

They cited examples such as the LTA’s decision-making process to support their scepticism.

Criticisms were also directed towards the government’s focus on economic growth, which some believe has led to a lack of balance in policies and governance, resulting in Singapore becoming the most expensive city globally.

A netizen sarcastically questioned the feasibility of the Singapore government moving away from a top-down approach, implying scepticism about whether true bottom-up participation is achievable, given examples like the LTA’s perceived inflexibility in its decision-making process.

For instance, LTA and Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat defended ERP 2.0 three-piece OBU designs for cars, despite Singaporean motorists raising severe criticism and questions regarding the necessity to roll out the new design, highlighting a disconnect between the technical specifications and the practical, everyday needs and safety of users.

Another comment criticised the PAP government’s prioritization of economic growth, which led to a lack of balance in policies and governance. He suggested that this obsession has resulted in Singapore becoming the most expensive city globally.

The netizen highlighted examples such as the bidding system for hawker stalls rental by NEA and the COE system for cars, which they believe could be simplified to achieve the same goals without exorbitant costs.

He advocated for a more straightforward approach, suggesting that complexity often leads to unintended consequences.

A netizen expresses scepticism towards politicians and their promises, particularly noting how insightful thoughts and promises often surface before elections but fade away once the politicians are elected.

He questioned the credibility of politicians who fail to act on pressing issues immediately after gaining power, highlighting three issues: the overcharging in the SimplyGo system, the design flaw in ERP OBU units, and the high prices of dining-in and groceries.

Some comments also suggest that solely focusing on GDP and economic growth may lead Singapore down a path similar to other developed nations, where they eventually encounter limitations or bottlenecks in further growth.

A netizen highlights the risk of becoming overly preoccupied with economic activities to the extent that creativity and innovation are stifled.

However, some defend the current top-down approach to governance, suggesting that it has been instrumental in Singapore’s success and advancement compared to its neighboring countries.

Imbalance and vulnerability of the top-down approach

However, another comment further argued against the top-down approach, highlighting its inherent imbalance and susceptibility to catastrophic consequences from a single poor decision.

“In fact , the top-down model is likely to blame for a lot of the indifference and disenfranchised attitudes of Singaporeans. ”

He emphasized the growing importance of human talents and leadership skills, especially in comparison to neighbouring countries like Vietnam, where there is a greater hunger for progress and initiative.

The Straits Times is a publication under the SPH Media which is under the SPH Media Trust. In 2022, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) announced a commitment to provide up to S$900 million in funding support for SPH Media Trust over the ensuing five years.

Back in 2023, Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information, defended SPH Media amid the overstated daily circulation numbers, emphasizing that trusted news media, supported by quality journalism, is a public good that cannot be compromised.

She told Parliament that preserving local news in the public interest is crucial amid severe disruption in the media industry, and that circulation numbers of SPH Media Trust’s publications were not a key consideration in assessing the funding required for its transformation.

Mrs Teo highlighted the importance of local news outlets as they give voice to the Singapore identity and Singaporean perspectives, and also provide information that people can trust to be accurate and objective.

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LW came in as new PM and LW will go out , but i feel not much IF any changes will materialise..
As long as LHL is still in the picture…
So beware of whom you give your one precious vote to ..our futures are at stake…

What are the trade offs? What are the sacrifices of Singaporeans? How much the PAP reaps at the expense of Singaporeans and the Singaporeans NOT YET BORN? How MUCH SACRIFICES the PAP coerced Sheeps to make? What were the Opportunity COSTS? To achieve certain developments HOW MUCH PAP made SGpns to pay – viz a viz cheaper courses of actions, cheaper in terms of VALUE for Money? Did the PAP sacrificed? What COST to each PAP politician DENTED in their pockets, to their families? – – – These ARE VERY VERY VALID and LEGITIMATE ISSUES – – – this PAP… Read more »

Another piece of shit we are paying $180million annually to do PAP propaganda at taxpayers’ costs. The savings on this could go towards providing free medical care for our elderly who are forced to pay for medisave. It could also pay for free transportation, or a monthly allowance to the elderly. All paying themselves remuneration of $100,000/- over annually and are nothing more than free riders. ST should work towards self sufficiently first before putting out motherhood statements. Where is the business plan of ST to become self sufficient? Please put it out in your next editorial.

Ah yes, the Straits Times going back to the same old “Lee” story. ST can stand proud as being in the same league as glorious news papers like “People’s Daily” and “Rodong Sinmun.” I wonder when the propaganda rags will start mentioning Albert Winsemius again? He is true architect of Singapore’s current prosperity. If the ruling government really cared about moving away from a “Top-down approach,” why do they pay themselves a million dollars and uplift themselves as “arbiters” of “truth?” Some even live in colonial-era bungalows secluded from the rest of the people. The ruling government can demonstrate their… Read more »

Didn’t she understand her salary is paid for from citizens pockets?

Or she understand perfectly, but pretend so cz she needs to offer herself to the PAP Administration as a form of sexual tokenism?

And she still think of herself as a political virgin? Tan Chuan Jin can give her a test. Or Cheng Li Hui can give her some adv too.