Mushrooms, Trees and the National Team
During the days of the campaigns for Singapore’s Parliamentary General Election 2011, we have heard numerous analogies from drivers and co-drivers, to mushrooms, trees and the national football team. Let us take a closer look at our political scene and strategy using the same analogies and see what we can learn.
WP’s candidate Chen Show Mao’s cheeky rebuttal of PM Lee Hsien Loong’s analogy of the national team brought about some laughter. The national team is the team that “wears red and white and not white and white”. Laughter and jokes aside, let us take a closer look at our national team.
I went to take a look at the current composition of the national team and I noticed that they came from very diverse clubs. I saw Tampines Rovers, Arema Malang, Medan Chiefs, SAFRA etc. I went in and take a look at the past results of S-League and I saw that the Singapore Armed Forces FC were the winner for the past few years except 2010 when Etoile FC topped the league. The result is typical of any football league. In football, everyone knows that track record counts for nothing. A successful management in the past would most likely give you an edge but without proper recruitment and succession plan, the decline could be swift and brutal. Liverpool FC had been the most decorated club in English Football history but that counted for nothing against the likes of Manchester United or even Chelsea or Arsenal now. Succession planning and recruitment is paramount to keeping a team at the top.
Using the same analogy, would we have sent the winning team as the national team? The answer lies before our eyes. No national team coaches would even dream of doing that. Would we also advocate putting all the best players into a single “dream team’ and shut the rest of the teams? The answer would be obvious. Without the competition and worthy opponent to spar, the national team’s standard would just steadily decline. Hence, to ensure that the National Team is the best, we have to invest and give every clubs a chance. A single team system would never be ideal.
The next story is given by Minister Lui Tuck Yew on special trees that provide shelter to a village. However, some colourful mushrooms grow every five years and the villagers are tempted by the mushrooms and even suggested that they should get rid of some trees to allow the mushrooms to grow.
The mushrooms and trees analogy sort of backfire as some citizens rightly pointed out that the mushrooms are indication of a tree’s health. Mushrooms are in fact fungi that feed on rotting and decaying things. Hence, the presence of mushrooms signaled that perhaps the roots of the trees are rotting. As a gardener, the obvious thing to do whenever your trees or plants are rotting is to start pruning and get rid of the decaying part so that the fungi do not spread. Though trimming the roots, cutting away rotting branches may seem cruel, it is absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of the tree.
Similarly, when a tree has rotted beyond the gardener’s ability to save, it is only wise that the tree is removed so that it does not pose a threat to the villagers. Rotting trees are easily uprooted during storms and falling branches can also pose a risk to the villagers. When we look at our estates which are beautifully maintained by N-Park, there are often time when the trees are removed. And when those trees are removed, N-Park does not drop a seed to plant a new tree. Instead, they plant a young tree from a nursery. Planting a seed when the tree is removed is too late.
It is very surprising that we are so meticulous when it comes to planning for contingency for our sports and even the basic tree planting exercise. However, when it comes to politics, we seem to ignore all the wisdom of having insurance. If we do not nurture a young sapling in the nursery and hoping that the trees would serve us forever, we would be left scrambling for solution when the trees die.