Thursday, 17 December 2009

Introducing the Global Forecasting Service (EIU)


10 Fastest-Growing Countries (Real GDP Growth, %)

Qatar 24.5 %
Turkmenistan 11.0 %
Azerbaijan 9.5 %
China 8.7 %
Uzbekistan 8.1 %
Congo ( Brazzaville ) 8.0 %
Angola 7.3 %
Ethiopia 7.0 %
India 6.5 %
Sri Lanka 6.4 %

Source : Economist Intelligence Unit [EIU])

This is "forecasting" by EIU as published in Mypaper on 17 Dec, 2009.

The EIU provides a "Global Forecasting Service" and other "Country Forecast" reports with subscriptions running from US$610.00 ~ US$1,195.00. Both online and hardcopy are available.

Website :


It is not economical for Singapore to spent more than S$3 million (US$2.14 million) annually just to do "forecasting" fulltime. With this budget, we can subscribe to 20 different reports annually for the next 90 years if we manage to keep up with inflation. Or for 40 reports, it is enough to last for 45 years.

Straits Times Dec 11, 2009
Solution to ageing population, Report by Jeremy Au Yong, Political Correspondent

How he would advise young people in Japan to create better lives for themselves despite the 'bureaucratic and rigid society': ...

Quote :
"We have done that. We also have a rule. I'm the exception to the rule but...I'm not doing the work! I'm just forecasting, I'm the radar over the horizon. And work is being done by younger people in their 40s and 50s."

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Global Warming

A monster iceberg was spotted drifting towards Australia on 9 December 2009  in what scientists called a once-in-a-century event while the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) is taking place at Bella Center in Copenhagen from the 7th to the 18th of December, 2009.

The 140-square-kilometre (54-square-mile) island-sized iceberg, known as B17B, is breaking up as it drifts closer to Australia, producing hundreds of smaller slabs spread over a massive area of ocean, prompting a maritime alert for vessels in the area.

Many of the effects of global warming have been well-documented, and observations from real life are very much consistent with earlier predictions. It is the precise extent that is difficult to predict. Among the effects that can be predicted are:
(a) More droughts and more flooding 
(b) Less ice and snow
(c) More extreme weather incidents
(d) Rising sea level


What led Singaporeans to Apathy?

Dec 11, 2009  reported in THE STRAIT TIMES.
Has PAP rule led to apathy?

"PROJECT engineer Alex Tan did not mince his words as he blamed the ruling People's Action Party for the apathy of Singapore's youth."

"He pointed his finger especially at the PAP's dominance and the lack of press freedom. The 22-year-old also said the PAP may feel it is helping the people but the people feel disadvantaged by its policies, from foreign talent to national service."

"His stark statements surprised, not for their content but for where they were made. Mr Tan was speaking last night at a dialogue organised by the Young PAP, and which was attended by 150 youths and two PAP MPs."

It is interesting to hear if our political system has indeed shaped the apathetic culture of this country.
Who will play countercheck role?

My Letter in TODAY, VOICES December 03, 2009

I refer to the reports "Looking for a few good men ..." (Dec 2) and "8 seats, only 4 candidates" (Oct 21) on the Law Society Elections.

Although I am not from the legal field, the seeming apathy that has hit the legal fraternity is equally alarming to me as an ordinary citizen.

In Singapore, where the judicial and legal process are very often taken as the route for eventual dispute resolution, the ordinary citizen is also looking towards the Law Society to perform the important role in "counterchecking" major court decisions adjudicated by an independent Judiciary - quite simply because the Government might not interfere at all.

There is no way for the layman to play this counterchecking role, which demands the knowledge and experience of a legally trained person.

As apathy hits this noble profession, it is the ordinary citizens, particularly those who are in need of fair representation and are dependent on the legal process, who will suffer.

What if apathy, which Law Society president Michael Hwang identified as "a Singaporean trait not confined to lawyers" (in his speech at the Edu Dine dinner on Aug 14), also hit our independent Judiciary? Will there then be a fair route to ensure finality in the administration of justice?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Extra "cooling-off'' day for voters


Have equal airtime for political broadcasts

I REFER to the report, “Extra 'cooling-off' day for voters” (my paper, Dec 1).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the idea of having a 24-hour period during the next General Election, during which campaigning would not be allowed so that voters can reflect calmly on their decision, had been on the table for many years.

This change would also apply to the presidential election.

He said that the legislation is almost done, and the Bill is expected to be ready for its first reading in January or February next year.

While there is merit in the idea of a “cooling-off” day, I hope its implementation will be fair to all political parties and the electorate.

It was reported that the “cooling-off” day will be, in effect, like Polling Day, as all forms of campaigning would be disallowed then, except for party political broadcasts allowed on the eve of the polls.

Traditionally, airtime for the political broadcasts is allocated based on the number of candidates fielded by the political parties.

Quite often, the TV media would cut off a broadcast based on the allocated time.

It would be good to give equal airtime to all contesting parties, so that their agendas are clearly understood by the electorate.

With a more sophisticated electorate having higher expectations, all political parties should be given sufficient time to present and summarise their final message prior to the polls.

It is also rude to simply cut off a candidate.

Allocating sufficient and equal airtime for all parties is about being fair to the electorate, not just to the political parties.

How can civil society correct the damages of excessive government?

"We can think of civil society as depending for its existence on a state that is strong enough to keep the peace, but not so strong as to destroy civil society itself. To maintain such a condition, civil society itself may have to play an active role in achieving the right balance. As a space independent of the state, civil society and its constituent voluntary associations, interest groups, and social movements can protect its individual members against the state. With adequate power and resources, civil society can, by fostering a vigilant public, keep a check on the state, even forcing it to be accountable for its actions."

Will Kymlicka, in his discussion of the debates between liberals and communitarians, describes the "social thesis" shared by both liberals and communitarians as a recognition "that individual autonomy cannot exist outside a social environment that provides meaningful choices and that supports the development of the capacity to choose amongst them."

Kymlicka points out, however, that while liberals insist that this social/cultural environment (for our purposes, think of this as civil society) needs to be kept independent of the state (ie, the state must be neutral), communitarians on the other hand believe that a rich and diverse social/cultural structure can only be sustained with state intervention - a "politics of the common good."

Reading: Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 216-30.

"Civil society can perform an important watchdog role against the state. It can also provide individuals with the cultural resources necessary for autonomy and self-determination."

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A Framework For Thinking About Civil Society


"Without an all-powerful leviathan state, Hobbesian anarchy and its attendant state of war can undermine the stability and even the possibility of civil society. However, a leviathan state with unlimited powers, once instituted, also engulfs the very civil society that it is tasked to protect. As long as the individual's right to self-preservation is protected by such a state, we might regard it as acceptable, a necessary evil.

We might, however, also want to be vigilant about the possibility of leviathan evolving into a threat to other important rights that Hobbes may have undervalued:

Leviathan can become tyrannical : threatening to violate individual rights to liberty, property, and general well-being; allowing its appetite for power to supplant the rational basis of its existence.

Leviathan can become an authoritarian perfectionist state: violating individual autonomy and self-determination, or the right of individuals to plan, pursue, and revise for themselves their own life plans.

Leviathan can atomise the very civil society that it was designed to protect, leaving behind an attenuated public space characterised by "mass" politics and society composed of frightened, self-centred, socially inept, and narrow-minded individuals.

Leviathan can become a central economic planner, destroying the efficiencies of the market, and leading the way to economic and then political crises. "



J. S. Mill (On Liberty) wrote about liberty as freedom of the individual from society and the state. He warned against the dangers of excessive intervention by a bureaucratic government.

"The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it; and a State which postpones the interests of their mental expansion and elevation, to a little more of administrative skill, or of that semblance of it which practice gives, in the details of business; a State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes - will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to banish."

Reading: J. S. Mill, ed. Stefan Collini, On Liberty and Other Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1989), pp. 109-15.

Which stand should we take ?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Leviathan - Doctrine of the Foundation of States and Legitimate Governments

In Leviathan, Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments - based on social contract theories. Leviathan was written during the English Civil War; much of the book is occupied with demonstrating the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid the evil of discord and civil war.

Beginning from a mechanistic understanding of human beings and the passions, Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the state of nature. In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This inevitably leads to conflict, a "war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes), and thus lives that are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short".

To escape this state of war, men in the state of nature accede to a social contract and establish a civil society. According to Hobbes, society is a population beneath a sovereign authority, to whom all individuals in that society cede their natural rights for the sake of protection. Any abuses of power by this authority are to be accepted as the price of peace. However, he also states that in severe cases of abuse, rebellion is expected. In particular, the doctrine of separation of powers is rejected: the sovereign must control civil, military, judicial and ecclesiastical powers.

Abstracted from Wikipedia.
You may read more about the Leviathan (1651) by Hobbes here.

Thomas Hobbes & Leviathan in Literature

Leviathan is the title of Thomas Hobbes' 1651 work on the social contract and the origins of creation of an ideal state, and his proper name for the Commonwealth.

You may read more about Leviathan here :-

From Wikipedia,
Thomas Hobbes (5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English philosopher, remembered today for his work on political philosophy. His 1651 book Leviathan established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory.

Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of fields, including history, geometry, physics of gases, theology, ethics, general philosophy, and political science. His account of human nature as self-interested cooperation has proved to be an enduring theory in the field of philosophical anthropology. He was one of the main philosophers who founded materialism.....

You may read more about Thomas Hobbes here :-

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Meaning of LEVIATHAN

This Blog was started on 4 December 2009.  The Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary happened to be "leviathan". Hence, this blog was given the name "DE LEVIATHAN @ SG".

Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary
The Word of the Day for December 04, 2009 is:

leviathan • \luh-VYE-uh-thun\ • noun

1 : the political state; especially : a totalitarian state having a vast bureaucracy

*2 : something large or formidable

Example Sentence:

Towering leviathans of the forest, these giant sequoias often reach heights of more than 200 feet.

Did you know?

Old Testament references to a huge sea monster, "Leviathan" (in Hebrew, "Liwyāthān"), are thought to spring from an ancient myth in which the god Baal slays a multiheaded sea monster. Leviathan appears in the book of Psalms, as a sea serpent that is killed by God and then given as food to the Hebrews in the wilderness, and it is referred to in the book of Job as well. We began equating "Leviathan" with the political state after the philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the word in (and as the title of) his 1651 political treatise on government. Today, "Leviathan" often suggests a crushing political bureaucracy. "Leviathan" can also be immensely useful as a general term meaning "something monstrous or of enormous size."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.