Cow Beh Cow Bu

The Singapore Government’s Great Attitude Problem Summarised in an Anti-Gambling Ad

BOSS: Congratulation Andy on the big win in the world cup 2014! Germany won every single matches! I am amazed by your dad’s insightful intelligence. I know you want your dad to stop… and you should be glad that he didn’t, else, how would he win even more?

Moving forward, please have more faith in your dad. Since CPF is neither adequate for retirement nor for healthcare, your dad needed to do something about it, and he had done very well, much better than many so-called ‘professional fund managers’!

As you can see, betting isn’t so bad after all. As long as you know how to bet correctly like your dad, it can also be a great investment strategy to cover the inadequacy of CPF, isn’t it?

For those who do not know what I am talking about, allow me to give you some background.

There was a commercial done in Singapore to discourage gambling. The video was about a boy, named Andy, who was distressed and about to lose all his savings because his father bet all his money on Germany. Guess what? His father won big time!

Well, lucky for Andy or unlucky for the government, Germany won every matches, trashed Brazil 7-1, and was the champion of the world cup 2014.

As you may also be aware, Jimmy Fallon (US Talkshow Host) made a joke out of this, see this link.

The response was that they needed to use a team that is realistic, in this case Germany, in order to make the message convincing.

Well, technically that explanation is valid, but in reality, it is not. This commercial simply echoed the underlying problems in our government’s attitude – the basis of all our problems.

Let’s go into the details.

Trackling a problem is only 20% of the job. The rest of the 80% is about addressing other possible scenarios that could make the solution ineffective or produce negative effects instead. Those are what we termed as “What-If…” scenarios.

Government wanted to use a commercial to discourage people from gambling as above, using Germany as an example. But what if Germany won? Would the message still be the same? Although the probability might be low, but what are they going to do to mitigate it? Or are they going to “take the risk” since the do-nothing approach is the most efficient and cost effective?

If you look at this world cup commercial closely, you will find that this is not a case of being unlucky. It is about not doing the due diligence to mitigate the possible outcomes – in short, the lazy and don’t care attitude – “let’s address it when it becomes a problem.”

This has never been the attitude of Singapore, why had this become the norm today?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Let me go through the list with you.

Government spent billions building MCE. What if it caused more delays for the People? What if there were massive jams during the opening? What if the diversions were too confusing? What did they do to mitigate it? Nothing. And of course, massive jam happened during the opening.


That was not the worst. When people highlighted the potential design and implementation faults, they went full-steam to defend it instead of changing the attitude problem, with Minister Lui stating that the gridlock is not caused by design.

Well, whether there is any design fault or not, there is no need to argue. A simple logic will prove the point. Take a look at the following. Look carefully at the labels that had to be put in place. Do you think there is any design fault in this toilet?


Of course there is design fault! If there isn’t any design fault, would the management need to specifically state: “Please Do Not Litter into the Hand Dryer” ???

From the above example, have you seen something similar? Like the following?


Do you know which part of the city does the map shows?

I am sure you do. It is from our lovely $4.3 billion dollars mega MCE project. If you need to place the whole city map throughout the city as signboards, yet still insist there is no design fault. Do you think we will buy that story?

Well, if you still insist there are no design fault, there could only be 2 possibilities: either you are stupid or you think we are stupid. So which is the case?

What other problems do we have due to the reluctance to do the 80% of the job?

Well, the so-called manpower to support the growth of Singapore. What if Singapore became too crowded? What if the public transport was overloaded? What if Singaporeans got displaced from jobs? What if Singaporeans felt that they are living in a foreign country? What if those immigrants could not integrate into Singapore? What if the immigrants complained and restricted Singaporeans from cooking curry? What if those immigrants replaced Singaporeans’ way of living with theirs? What if the immigrants compared the people to dogs?  What if there were riots and higher crime rates? What if the hospital became over crowded? What if my people needed to wait hours before being attended to? What if my people could not afford a house? What if prices increased too much? What if CPF was not enough? What if my people worried about retirement? What if my people needed to collect cardboards and clear trays to supplement their retirements?

Are we going to always “let’s move on” to ignore the lapses in addressing the issues? What if the “let’s move on” action invited more and more needs to “move on” again and again? How far do you think we should “let’s move on”? Until we fall off the cliff?

The first step in solving problem is to acknowledge it, followed by moving forward to rectify it – not ignore it conveniently and “move on” to something else.

The same applied to SingPass. What if the current security measures were not enough? What if my people accounts were compromised?

Are we going to do something to mitigate it before it happened? Or should we get ready to blame the People again?

Could the SingPass security breach be circumvented? Absolutely, and most importantly, the government knew it can be prevented and how it can be prevented. If they had implemented Two Factor Authentication (2FA), such incident would never have happened, but they did not want to address this what-if scenerio. Why?

The response from Ms Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, was to use strong password. Please, stop kidding us. No matter how strong your password is, it can be hacked by brute force.

So how do we prevent brute force? The most effective method against brute force is NOT password complexity, it is to lock out the account after a given number of failed attempts. Have you done that? If you had, what are you talking about above? If you have not, then why not? As an MD of IDA, I would have to assume that you have this fundamental knowledge, do you?

Apart from that, 2FA was out long long time ago. It was also mandated for financial institutions. Why wasn’t it done for SingPass? Was it because the government thought that SingPass, the single password for all government transactions, is not important? Who made this conclusion? Who gave the exception and why?

If the government is not doing the 80% of the job [addressing the what-if scenarios] and outsourced the 20% [actual implementation work] for private companies to do it, then what had the government been doing for the past years? Well, I don’t have the answer, ask them, not me.

I don’t want to make things ugly for the government, but if they refused to do the 80% of the job and yet blamed the People, we would have to defend ourselves, and the outcome will not look nice on the government.

I have no issue if the government keeps the credits within their teams, but may I request that the government also keeps the blames within their teams and stop blaming the People? That is the best in their interests.

I am sure the government would not want the People to stumble on more cans of worms while defending themselves all the way to election, or do they? Can the government show more respects for the People? Take ownership of the problems and solve it like true world leaders?

I have no issues with people lauding the government. In fact, lauding is also a good form of feedback. However, if the lauding is phony, it is bad and it will be described by Singaporeans as PLP. Examples of PLP include Aziz and Eugene Tan. Please don’t do that. You don’t want to be described as doing PLP, do you?

Dear PM Lee, as the Prime Minister of the country, please discipline your teams and teach them to think and speak properly. This is not the first time. If they have nothing positive to comment about the People, may I suggest that you advise your teams to CTL?

I believe you are planning election around Singapore 50th Birthday, aren’t you? If so, I don’t think it is a good idea to constantly make the People TL with all the labels and blames, do you agree?

Singaporeans are one of the most intelligent, creative, capable, and multilingual people in the world. This is why I am deeply perturbed when Singaporeans are belittled or blamed. I do not have the slightest doubt that Singaporeans could easily derive synonyms for those acronyms used above in other languages. However, in case your imagination runs wild, here are what they mean:

  • PLP stands for Phony Lauding Practice. It described an act of giving false praise simply to make the subject happy.
  • CTL stands for Consider Taciturnity Lastingly. Taciturnity represents a state of reserved quietness. Therefore, CTL is a suggestion given to politicians, who do not know how to talk, to keep quiet for as long as necessary.
  • TL stands for Tolerate Lividly. Livid describes a state where a person’s face is red due to anger. Therefore, TL is used to describe the situation where a person tolerated the anger to the extend that his face is red.


Note: The above terms are copyrighted and you may only use it on politicians.


This article is courtesy of BOSS. You can find the full article here.

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