The NDR delivery was supposed to be our equivalent of the American State of the Union address. Once upon a time Lee Kuan Yew used it as a powerful platform to launch his epochal plans for the nation, such as the stop at two(1960s - stop making babies) and graduate mother(1983 - start making babies) policies. Sometimes he would use the occasion to remind Singaporeans who's in charge "..and even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me to the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I'll get up!" (NDR 1988).
Whatever you think of the man, you'll have to give him credit for the painstaking effort he puts into his epic presentations, loaded to the gills with supporting statistics and gee whiz graphs. Not flaky stories that strain at credibility. This is one guy who won't ask you the irritating question, "What do you think?" Enthralled, the nation would watch in fascination, as he expounds on the future from his helicopter visionary perspective. That was the glorious past. Sit warmer Goh couldn't deliver a decent speech to save his own life. Now the Son needs additional support to stand before the nation. For the record, remote control aeroplanes and robotic toys are no big deal when Curiosity has landed on Mars by deploying a parachute and firing its thrusters remotely 78,341,212 kilometers from home.
The contributions from the supporting cast Heng, Wong and Halimah Yacob are so forgettable it's difficult to recall anything they said. Except to remind you, especially for the two newbies undergoing on the job training while drawing full pay, that they desperately need our input (the so called National Conversation) to figure out what to do for the next lap. Halimah Yacob missed the opportunity to enlighten the country, doomed to fold up because of the dismal total fertility rate, how she raised five kids, and still managed a successful well compensated career.
How can there be hope, heart and home when when the real issues - foreigner, infrastructure, housing, transport and healthcare - are still outstanding? Home now is for the Vietnamese who took up a place in the university while a Singaporean had to go overseas for her degree, stretching her father's finances while his taxes are used to fund the foreigner's board, lodging plus tuition fees. The heart is surely misplaced when the GST voucher entitlement, intended to offset the regressive GST, is skimped to one per household, while there are no limits to splurging on designer office chairs and folding bicycles. The only hope for us is that the audience, nodding and clapping on cue like a City Harvest Church congregation while their pastor tells them Jesus was rich because the Roman soldiers fought over his undergarment, is not representative of the country's born and bred.
No wonder dad wasn't seated among the chosen faithful in the audience. Now, don't you anonymous bloggers start another rumour about his health. Most likely he was taking a respite from his daily 100 laps in the pool.