I'm back from Sydney. Angie and I went there to see my brother How Yong who does not appear to have long to live. The cancer tumours in his lungs and brain are now too numerous. He was able, with difficulty, to open his eyes and to grasp my hand. I told him that I love him. He was the brother who inspired my blog entry on my school report cards. I am glad I flew there just to see him; there is now closure in our relationship.
Unfortunately I do not see any closure in an issue I have tried to ignore: the debasement of a noble idea -- that of recognising a "generation" of pioneer Singaporeans -- for what clearly are political motives. Just reading today's ST parliamentary reports shows how the label "Pioneer Generation" can be tweaked any which way, provided certain political considerations are met:
This fellow Lim Swee Say -- a post-war baby boomer like me -- is actually quite funny:
So, if his wishes come true (subject to the necessary and sufficient political proviso above), we will have endless layers of PGers:
Pioneer Generation 1 (all those still alive with a cut-off age of 65 by year's end)
Pioneer Generation 2 (presumably people like me and Lim Swee Say up to a cut-off point)
Pioneer Generation 3
Pioneer Generation 4, etc, etc.
Conclusion: Every Singaporean, including the yet unborn, stands a chance of being called a PGer. Our cup runneth over.
One senior ST journalist even got carried away by the euphoria:
I think she forgot that "foreign talent" was given that status long ago, when post-1965 Singapore wooed foreign MNCs with "Pioneer Industry" tax incentives. Sorry, local SMEs, you will not be the first generation.
Speaking of which, both a minister (yes, that same one) and a Nominated MP thought it was such a creative idea to use bricklayers as models for the kind of new creative worker Singapore wants:
Wow! Bricklayers whose minds stretch beyond their next meal. Give us more of them, as many as we can get hold of! But wait a minute... I don't think we have many (if any) local bricklayers these days. So, we are looking to foreign "talent" once again?
I thought I should wrap up, not on a cynical note, but on some clear-eyed, Realism-based thinking about the current Ukraine crisis. Who better than the Foreign Ministry's former permanent secretary to articulate the geopolitical reality of the situation there:
So how will the present crisis end? If you thought the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis ended in total victory for the USA, with the Soviet Union slinking away and abjectly carting off its nuclear-tipped missiles from Cuba, you have not read the right history books. There was a trade-off (of missile bases), but the US was allowed to declare sole victory.
So, the best-case outcome for the Ukraine crisis (ie, one with no major war breaking out) is when Moscow gets all its vital interests covered, and both Russia and the West triumphantly declare victory to their own domestic audiences. Ukraine? It's just, by comparison, a small state.