01 August 2013

Quotes of the Month — July 2013

Integrity in Politics
Good politics is first and foremost about integrity... people who can be trusted to uphold the public interest, to speak the truth even when it is inconvenient, and to admit mistakes when things go wrong...  [Otherwise] we cannot trust him or her to safeguard public funds, to put public interest ahead of personal gain, or to make decisions affecting the well-being and security of Singaporeans.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Politics is a contest for power.  But you know the key principle when you have power is: don't take advantage of people under your charge and always be honest and upfront with your people.  When a mistake is made, just come clean and say so.  But don't cover up.  That's why I have not let this go, because... it is about clean politics and I appeal to you [Member of Parliament Low Thia Khiang] do a thorough investigation of what's gone on and what's gone wrong in your town council and put it right, set it right.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan

Dear [Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong], please send Vivian [Balakrishnan] and team to contest [the next general election] in Aljunied [GRC], and let the people vote out the ones with NO INTEGRITY.

Bruce Wee's comment on Lee Hsien Loong's facebook page
"First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."

Michael Ng's comment on Lee Hsien Loong's facebook page

However, while we accept that the Prime Minister should be accorded a measure of latitude in deciding when to call for election to fill a vacancy, it does not follow from this flexibility that he would, therefore, be entitled to defer the calling of an election to fill a vacancy indefinitely, or to simply declare that he would not be advising the President to issue a writ of election (unless he intends to advise the President to dissolve Parliament in the near future).  In this regard, we would reiterate the point made earlier that a Member represents and is the voice of his constituents.  If a vacancy is left unfilled for an unnecessarily prolonged period that would raise a serious risk of disenfranchising the residents of that constituency.  There is thus a need to balance the rights of the voters in a Parliamentary system of government and the discretion vested in the Prime Minister to decide when to call for by-elections to fill a vacancy.  It is also a basic proposition of the rule of law that all discretionary power is subject to legal limits...


In any event, even if at a particular point in time he feels that it would not be appropriate to call for an election to fill a vacancy, he must still review the circumstances from time to time and call for election to fill the vacancy if and when the circumstances have changed.

Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Andrew Phang and V K Rajah
in Vellama d/o Marie Muthu v Attorney-General

Benefits of Importing Billionaires
In fact, if I can get another 10 billionaires to move to Singapore and set up their base here, my Gini coefficient will get worse but I think Singaporeans will be better off, because they will bring in business, bring in opportunities, open new doors and create new jobs, and I think that is the attitude with which we must approach this problem.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Everything Has A Price
Revenue generated from the sale of the [2,100] premium and platinum seats [at the new National Stadium] will be reinvested to keep the Sports Hub's facilities, programmes and events affordable and accessible to everyone.

Alvin Hang
Director, Corporate Communications and Relations, Singapore Sports Council
Sam Eatwell
Communications Manager, SportsHub Pte Ltd

The people chose me in free and fair elections, and I will continue to shoulder my responsibilities [as Egypt struggles with the legacy of decades of authoritarian rule].

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi before he was deposed

Comment: Democracy is more than a government elected in free and fair elections.  It is a government for the people, by the people, and of the people.  Instead of putting Egypt on a democratic course, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were seen by many Egyptians to have stolen the 2011 revolution from the people by focusing on entrenching themselves in power.

Free Toothpicks
Many restaurants give you toothpicks, but the toothpick is so big it can never go through, but this one [provided by restaurant Din Tai Fung] is so fine that whatever is inside sure can come out...  They always serve [the toothpicks] in a pack.  And because I go there very early — 10:30 in the morning — always full right.  And guess what?  By the time I left, normally right, it's half left.  The other half is in my pocket.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say
Healthcare Costs
A solution to the hospital bed crunch in Singapore is to peg to inflation what patients pay for the beds in public hospitals.

Associate Professor Sean Flynn
author of Economics For Dummies

Comment: A/P Flynn's economics perspective is too simplistic.  Insights Health Associates Principal Consultant Jeremy Lim said that pegging hospital bed prices to inflation raises related issues.  Should the Government peg subsidies and public assistance to inflation as well?  What about salaries?  Associate Professor Phua Kai Hong of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said that increasing the prices of hospital beds does not address the root causes nor answers the questions of why people go to hospitals and why they remain hospitalised for long periods instead of being discharged.


1. Some quotes are verbatim while others are paraphrased, either by the media or the author.

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