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Archive for the ‘Political governance’ Category

Remember PAP’s and DR M’s “Asian Values”?

In Political governance on 23/08/2014 at 4:22 am

Well the Thai jumta now has its very own version.

The army men in charge of the new dictatorship say their aim is to build a “Thai-style democracy”. Their intervention looks more interested in reviving a system of tutelary democracy, in which a bunch of royalist elites control the state, though the new regime denies it. Their alternative explanation, based on a notion of Thai uniqueness, seems to have been pulled out of a hat like a rabbit.

There is an obvious resemblance to the concept of “Asian values”, such as were espoused by Mahathir Mohamad, who ran Malaysia for 22 years. That idea tends to preclude robust democracy, and to justify itself on the back of economic development. It has proven useful to governments like Singapore’s and these days its champions tend to point approvingly to China.

Banyan (19th August 2014)

And of course, the govt here claims that China is juz following S’pore.

PAP’s bible challenges “market-based solution”

In Economy, Political governance on 21/08/2014 at 4:47 am

I’ve blogged before that the PAP doesn’t need that many smart people as it follows most of the Economist’s prescriptions (except on hanging, drug legalisation, free media and a liberal democracy). It has been an Economist mantra that market pricing is “betterest” because it uncovers the “correct” price. It is also a PAP Hard Truth.

But now the Econimist seems to have second tots.

What if the “correct” pricing level were so high that it prohibited all but the rich from driving in the city? Gulliver paid £9 ($15) to park for a couple of hours next to a horribly overcrowded Dorset beach over the weekend. It was a scorching day, there was only one parking option and it was the first weekend of the school holidays. Unsurprisingly by the time I left attendants were turning away a long queue of cars. There was no public transport, and even if there had been it would have been impractical for Gulliver’s family and its array of apparently-essential beach tat. Who knows what the sweet price-spot on such a day would have been? Enough to put a day out on a public beach out of reach for many, I suspect. 

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/07/parking-apps

Think CoEs and public housing. Is the “correct” pricing out of reach of most without access to cheap credit? I suspect so.

“A Changing world means changing policies and a changed party,” Tony Blair told a flock of die-hard supporters in London on July 21st reported the Economist.

Trouble is that the PAP’s other bible is “Hard Truths” by one LKY. But given that Tony Blair is now rumoured to be worth more than US$100m (he denies the allegation), maybe the PAP should respect his views on the need to change. A PAP MP eye doctor surely would.

 

Take on PM’s NatDay message: Trying to lull us into complacency

In Political governance on 10/08/2014 at 5:01 am

The gd news that it won’t work.

But let’s begin with the message.

In the 1999 science fiction film “Matrix”, the Matrix is a simulated world created by machines to keep humans complacent. In S’pore today, is the PAP is trying to receate a Matrix here to lull us into complacency: things can only get better under cont’d hegemony the PAP? This tot crossed my mind when I read this CNA report. My comments are interspersed

Singapore’s economy grew 3.5 per cent in the first half of the year, bringing the growth forecast for the rest of the year to between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent. That is narrower than the forecast by the Trade and Industry Ministry in February this year of between 2 and 4 per cent. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this in his National Day Message on Friday (Aug 8) ahead of Singapore’s 49th birthday. [Growth for the full year will be below last year's 4.1%: at best growth be 15% lower than last yr.]

Mr Lee outlined some priorities for the country, including giving Singaporeans greater peace of mind in their retirement years and helping everyone achieve their potential, regardless of their family background or circumstances. Ahead of his National Day Rally, Mr Lee also hinted at several policy changes to come. 

In enhancing retirement adequacy, Mr Lee said his team is studying how to make it more convenient for retirees to get cash out of their flats, in a prudent and sustainable way. Currently there is the Lease Buy back scheme. It is a monetization option to help low-income elderly households unlock part of their housing equity, and receive a lifelong income stream to supplement their retirement income. Response to the scheme though has been somewhat lukewarm, with just over 300 households signing up for it since it was enhanced in February last year. [Well it's pretty mean.]

The Prime Minister will also talk about ways the Central Provident Fund system could be improved at the National Day Rally in a week’s time. [It doesn’t need tweaking, it needs to be retot. Mad Dog Chee is right to say that retirement has to be delinked from housing and healthcare: CPF puts these three issues into one pot. 

“Stronger safety nets are not just to give you peace of mind, but also to build confidence to hope and dare,” said Mr Lee. “Our system will help you shoot for the stars. Everyone will have full opportunities to fulfil your potential, regardless of your family background or circumstances.”  [Believe this and you believe that the the PAP is socialist or that the moon is made of green cheese.]

Mr Lee said education is a big part of achieving this. To that end, a committee tasked with reviewing polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education studies is expected to announce its recommendations to help young Singaporeans acquire the relevant skills, to succeed in a constantly changing, economic environment. [Juz let more people who can meet the standards get in the local unis. And don’t suppress the pay of skilled technicians like plumbers and electricians. And don’t import FTs by the A380 cattle class. 

“You are talented, passionate and confident. You deserve to chase your dreams and be the best you can be. The academic route is not the only way up. We will also help you upgrade yourselves while you work. We will help you master specialised skills, and earn advanced qualifications as you progress in your careers,” said Mr Lee. [Why love FTs meh if Singkies so good? Why have to spur S'poreans?]

But Mr Lee said this is also a matter of social values: “As Singaporeans, we must judge a person not just by his educational qualifications but also by his skills, contributions and character. This is how we keep Singapore a land of hope and opportunity for all.” [Give me a break. Scholars get all the best jobs. ]

He added Singapore will succeed, only if its citizens stand together as one united people. There was a rallying call by the Prime Minister for Singaporeans to come together despite their differences and to uphold the spirit of the Pioneers who built this country. … said Singapore has changed, so there also needs to be a reassessment of its position, direction and strategies. Err, what about rethinking the need for PAP hegemony? And the emphasis on the “right” tots.The problem is very existence of Hard Truths: Tony Blair last month said “A Changing world means changing policies and a changed party.”]

… even as Singapore has made strong progress since independence, it has not reached its limit. As the country turns 50 next year, Mr Lee observed that many Singaporeans intend to embrace and mark the special occasion in their own ways. [Migrating?]

He said it is this collective sense of ownership and belonging, that will take this country forward, in a changing world. collective [Sense of ownership and belonging? What sense of ownership and belonging?]

The gd news that that it’s difficult to make us complacent is because the govt is always making too conservative and unreasonable assumptions when it comes to “safety net” issues . Take CPF Life; S’poreans “invested” in CPF life bear the risk of fund going bust.while knowing little of its inner workings. And Medishield is starting to look too expensive with reserves of 200%. this means higher than optimal (for us) premiums.

Oh btw, Ang Yong Guan (remember him?) on Facebook recently said govt’s “share on health is 35% and the Health Minister intends to bring it to 40%. That means our OOP (out of pocket) is 60%. That’s still high for citizens. It should be the other round 60-40% and not 40-60%. 4% of GDP on health and they are damn proud of it. For health, they can go higher than that.”

He is right.

NatDay wish: Govt stop aping other places

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 08/08/2014 at 4:37 am

S’pore’s govt is forever trying to copy the successes of other places. Examples

– Israel’ and Silicon Valley’s tech prowess (forgot about Estonia meh?);

– Germany’s SMEs’ structure;

– China’s internet, social media censorship practices (thank god we got Yaacob, a Malay, doing it, not the People’s Voice, TKL who wants S’pore to adopt the Chinese practice of all bloggers and posters registering their identities with the govt before they can comment);

– Scottish biotech prowess (the imported Scots went home);

– Swiss standard of living (apparently we reached it but don’t realise it; costs compared); and

– American social conservatives’ values on family (though not on abortion).

The has been adding to global warming (all that hot air, and methane from BS) and a waste of effort, money.

The govt  should heed the words of a reader of the Economist (required reading of cabinet, civil service but apparently not Jason Chua and the other morons of that pro-PAP FB page, “Fabrications about the PAP”):

“What politicians and policymakers are looking for is a panacea. Imitating Germany will not work. There have been many attempts to imitate Silicon Valley, but no one has succeeded. It is impossible to copy the culture, thinking and collective experience found in a company or a country.”—on “German lessons”, July 12th 2014.

I could add that stopping aping might even help the PAP . I mean we like Israel got NS and high tech weaponry. But why we no got Iseal expertise in civilian high tech meh?. Btw, why NS and the welfare state go hand in hand.

The PAP should walk the talk of what DPM Teo said on 21 July

Singapore has to strengthen its track record of trust, knowledge, connectivity, and livability to attract global companies to set up shop in the country, but must also position itself where it can add most value, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

“To achieve sustainable growth, Singapore cannot simply continue to do more of the same, or to put in more resources in a linear fashion,” said Mr Teo, who was speaking at an annual scholarship award ceremony for the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Monday (July 21). (CNA)

The govt should remember that the world class port and the airport and the financial centre were developed without aping any other place. As was SIA, and Keppel Corp’s rig-building businesses. The starting point was the expertise already here, expertise that juz needed nurturing. And Dr Goh aped no-one when he developed Jurong and let the MBCs in.

 

 

 

Roy’s defence has me confused

In Political governance on 06/08/2014 at 4:43 am

TOC has an article on Roy’s defenceMr Ngerng said while his apology to Mr Lee for an article he wrote on 15 May remains, he nonetheless is disputing Mr Lee’s claims that the article had in fact defamed Mr Lee as claimed in Mr Lee’s lawsuit …

In his affidavit filed on Monday, Mr Ngerng disputes the meanings of the allegedly defamatory article ascribed to it by Mr Lee’s lawyers, and argues that the content of the article “does not convey the twisted meaning” which Mr Lee’s lawyers claim it does.

So why apologise, if there is no defamation?

Doesn’t make sense to this ex-lawyer, the way the defence is unfolding.

When Roy was threatened with a defamation suit, activist lawyers were suggesting that a plausible line of defence was that as Kong Hee’s and gang’s case was still in progress, Roy’s comparison did not amount to defamation because Kong Hee and friends were not criminals: they were on trial and the presumption of innocence applied. They had not “criminally misappropriated” anything. I tot that this defence had merit.

So Roy’s apology was puzzling, though not surprising (he S’porean and $ talks):

I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

So did this later on:

“You know, when I wrote the article, it was never my intention to say that the prime minister had misappropriated the money. And I have never said this.

Then came his “defence” that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has “no cause of action” against his client based on Article 14 of the Constitution which gives Singaporeans the right to freedom of speech and expression

My take then on all these.

Now the position is that despite saying the apology still stands:”There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to say that I have accused the Plaintiff of criminal misappropriation of Singaporeans’ CPF monies. I have never accused him of taking a cent of Singaporeans CPF monies and I have no intention to do so as well. It is only persons who are avid for scandal who would say I meant this in the article.”

Err what about the apology, Roy? And yes, I’ve read his affidavit and nowhere does it try to explain why the wording of the apology (which explicitly says that Roy accused the PM of of criminal misappropriation of Singaporeans’ CPF monies still stands when the defence is now :”There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to say that I have accused the Plaintiff of criminal misappropriation of Singaporeans’ CPF monies. I have never accused him of taking a cent of Singaporeans CPF monies and I have no intention to do so as well. It is only persons who are avid for scandal who would say I meant this in the article.”

Curiouser and curiouser.

For the sake of Roy and the administration of justice and its reputation, the Law Society should ask M Ravi’s psychiatrist if he is competent to practice law. If not, the AG should ask the Law Society to ask his psychiatrist if he is competent to practice law.

Let’s not wait until M Ravi screams obscenities in a mosque, or causes a row in a Hindu temple or prances half-naked in Hong Lim Green before his mental state is examined and found to be “impaired”. If it then turns out that M Ravi’s bi-polar disorder is affecting him again or he is not taking his pills, the Law Society could be in serious trouble for allowing him to practice law.

 

 

Setting straight SPH’s tale on WP “discontent”

In CPF, Political governance on 01/08/2014 at 4:39 am

I refer to this “Discontent among WP’s old guard” in the New Paper. Typical of “constructive, nation-building” media. When the PAP changes members of the management team, the media praise it  for” self renewal”, “New blood”. when an Oppo party does the same thing the emphasis is on “discontent”, splits of the losers, malcontents.

I was going to deconstruct the article, given that I’m not too well-informed on the WP’s internal workings (My Morocco Mole has his agenda when telling me stuff. And he had a howler ). But my FB avatar came across a detailed analysis (deconstruction and factual) on FB by a WP member. As we didn’t ask permission, I will not name the person. But if she wants to be named, I will amend this piece to give credit where credit is due.

The New Paper published a report masquerading as a factual analysis of the dynamics at this year’s Organising Members Conference held at the Workers’ Party HQ on 27 July 2014. The article was mischievous and misleading. But more importantly, errors were aplenty. The following are my brief comments.

1. A binary between veterans and younger members who hold degrees was constructed. Supposed “facts” were thrown into this binary framework to create a seamless understanding of what has transpired and to provide analysis of and/ or an account of the situation.

In the article, John Yam and Somasundaram are conveniently labelled as part of the “old guard”. In that case, it appears that both of them were labelled as such due to their physical age in relative to the previous council members who were voted out, such as Ng Swee Bee and Koh Choong Yong who are in their 30s and early 40s respectively, rather than their experience in the Party. If the journalist had done his research, he would have realised that John Yam and Somasundaram joined the Party in 2009 and 2006 respectively. They are in no way “veterans” alluded to by the journalist as being “around for more than 15 years.” In fact, Swee Bee has been in the Party for the last 10 years, longer than John Yam and Somasundaram.

In listing down the reasons for the unhappiness of the “veterans”, he cited that “newer and younger members who hold degrees are preferred over veterans. In that case, the two “older members” who were elected does not in any way fit this caricature. Dr. John Yam holds a PhD and Mr. Somasundaram holds a Masters degree. Swee Bee on the other hand, for the longest time since she joined the Party in 2004 did not have a university degree, but she has been holding the position of Organising Secretary for many years.

The journalist also pointed out that former members, “Mr. Mohamed Fazli Talip and Sajeev Kamalasanan” were veterans of the Party. They were not. Fazli joined the Party in and around 2009/ 2010 and Sajeev joined the Party in 2006. To put it into perspective, Swee Bee and Choong Yong joined the Party in 2004 and 2006 respectively. This binary of “veterans”/ “old guard” vis-a-vis the younger and educated members is clearly misleading and in his attempts to construct a “Other” in the Party, does more harm than good in helping readers of The New Paper understand what had transpired at 216G, Syed Alwi Road on 27 July 2014 and more importantly, the implications/ significance of the new Council in the lead up to the next General Election.

The fundamental point is this. The journalist contradicted himself with the use of the terms “old guard” and “veterans” to mean the same group of people or to construct a faction within the Party from thin air. As he writes on, even he became confused.

2. The journalist displays his lack of understanding of the operations and functions of the Workers’ Party. He did not bother to do his research and check his facts.

The Workers’ Party do not and would not parachute in their candidates. In the article, it was pointed out “candidates are parachuted in, despite not having walked the ground.” Anyone with a basic understanding of the Workers’ Party knows that this is not true at all. The journalist would also be interested to note that the Workers’ Party fielded an ITE graduate at the 2006 elections.

The reasons for Dr. Poh Lee Guan’s sacking, Mr. Eric Tan’s resignation (why Mr. Gerald Giam was made NCMP ahead of Mr. Eric Tan) and the earlier resignations of Mr. Fazli Talip and Mr. Sajeev were made clear to members, cadres and non-cadres at the annual members seminar of the Party. In particular, Mr. Low had explained to the entire membership the reasons as to why candidates were not guaranteed a cadreship. This point was consistently explained to the membership whenever it was brought at internal meetings. For the case of Dr. Poh Lee Guan, Mr. Low had made the reasons clear in his interview with the press after the nomination of Mr. Png Eng Huat during the 2012 Hougang by-elections.

Thus, the journalist was simply mischievous in attempting to illustrate a lineage of discontent and dissatisfaction in the Party. He accepted the comments of these former members at face-value, without trying to better understand the respective motivations/ intentions of these former members. Not too sure whether this is journalism or gossip.

3. “How bad was it?” / “Is there a split?”

In situating his piece in the context of an election drama and an internal party split, the journalist tried his utmost to fit his analysis with the gossip and rumours he picked up with members at the coffeeshop under the party’s headquarters. He had no intention to put up a accurate report.

4. The journalist do not understand the historical context behind Sylvia Lim’s statement.

Sylvia Lim told the cadres that the “WP could not afford to have internal problems or disunity.” Any responsible political party with an understanding of the period in Singapore’s political history (1991 – 1997, Singapore Democratic Party) would make a similar appeal to its members. A quick search would also find Lee Hsien Loong emphasising party unity to his members.


If a political party was nothing but a monolith, with the entire membership parroting the leadership, then I guess something is really wrong. It probably would be inherently broken. As a member of the Party, I am glad to say that this is not the case. The Workers’ Party is growing, its membership is growing and with that will come more competitive internal party elections. Different individuals with different views, ideological inclinations and backgrounds and experiences join the Party at different junctures in their lives. This can only be good for the long term development of a Party. As the case of Mr. Yaw Shin Leong and Dr. Poh Lee Guan had clearly shown, no one is above the institutions and standing orders laid down in the Workers’ Party. WP is a professional organisation and a well-oiled political machinery.

By the way, I attended the conference last Sunday. There were more cadres than the physical space at HQ would allow. It was packed, very packed. No wonder WP needs a new HQ for its continued growth and development. I like to think that this is not very newsworthy for The New Paper.

BTW, I’m sure that TRE ranters who call me a PAP mole, ISD person will say this post confirms what they have been saying, ’cause it sides with the WP. For the record, I think the SDP has the best policies for S’pore, 10-15 yrs into the future. It’s the only party that talks about

De-couple housing and healthcare from CPF.

The major reason why Singaporeans are left with insufficient retirement funds is because the PAP gives Singaporeans no choice but to use what is their retirement money to pay for their HDB flats and hospital expenses.

The SDP plan ensures that HDB flats are sold without the inclusion of land cost (see here) and that the Government stops profiting from healthcare (see here) In this way, our CPF savings are left unmolested for retirement.

Solving the problems around retirement, public housing and healthcare require solving all three issues together.

Yes, yed, I know that in the long term, the SDP’s retirement and healthcare policies will be very expensive for S’poreans but

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.

Here’s an explanation of what Keynes meant:by Simon Taylor

Keynes wrote this in one of his earlier works, The Tract on Monetary Reform, in 1923. It should be clear that he is not arguing that we should recklessly enjoy the present and let the future go hang. He is exasperated with the view of mainstream economists that the economy is an equilibrium system which will eventually return to a point of balance, so long as the government doesn’t interfere and if we are only willing to wait. He later challenged that view in his most important work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935). arguing that the economy can slip into a long term underemployment equilibrium from which only government policy can rescue it.

 

 

 

CPF: PAP govt recycles hot air, smoke again/ All part of the wayang to diastract us?

In CPF, Political governance on 30/07/2014 at 4:35 am

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said earlier this week that the government would explore the option of private pension plans for the CPF for those who are able to take higher risk. But he also warned that private pensions “will not be a walk in the park”, as higher risk did not always translate into higher returns. (BT 24 July)

Here we go again. Time for civil servants and fund manager marketers to reopen their files from the early noughties.

As BT reported, Industry anticipation of the prospect of private pension plans for the CPF was intense in 2004. Such plans were mooted as a means to enhance returns and lower costs for CPF members.

Private pension plans were envisioned as balanced or mixed-asset portfolios which would be farmed out to the private sector to be managed on an institutional basis. The ideal scenario was that there would be no sales charge, and annual fees would be reduced to a fraction of the prevailing fees … In 2004, estimates of the fund size needed for an expense ratio of 50-75 basis points ranged from S$200-300 million to as much as S$1 billion*.

In 2007, the government said the CPF’s “risk-free” structure would be retained because the majority of members did not have large balances and because private pension funds would be “too risky for older members”.

That was the decision then.

Now in 2014, Tharman is raising the issue again? Now the rich can have private pensions, he says? Hello, why didn’t that happen in 2007? It was dismissed out of hand apparently on the ground that the rules had to be the same for everyone in the scheme.

Is the govt trying to distract us from the real issues of the day that can cause it problems as it spends our money on ourselves in trying to buy our votes: Minimum Sum calculations, how CPF Life funds are invested and is it that safe, and Medisave, Medishield flaws that show up the govt’s incompetency or meanness. One of these days, I’ll blog on what actuaries say about Medishield’s proposed buffer reserves: they agree with WP’s GG rather Gan and Puthu. Remember the higher the reserves, the larger the premiums paid.

Roy Ngerng’s “revelations”** and PM’s law suit distract S’poreans from these impt issues. Sadly, new media ais ana abets unwittingly the govt’s wayang. And now there is more smoke from Tharman.

Whatever leh, govt’s attitude on private pensions, and “tweaking” the CPF system reminds me of Charles Dicken’s description of the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit.

It describes the govt procrastinating over everything. It also can be seen as a reproach to the government that whatever it does the results are just empty words. And our govt dares call cyberspace “noise” given its track record on private pension plans?

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.

Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public departments; and the public condition had risen to be — what it was.

It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn’t been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn’t been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done. It is true that the debates of both Houses of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the protracted deliberation, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech at the opening of such session virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a considerable stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the close of such session, virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have through several laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, How not to do it, and you have found out; and with the blessing of Providence upon the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss you. All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

Because the Circumlocution Office went on mechanically, every day, keeping this wonderful, all-sufficient wheel of statesmanship, How not to do it, in motion. Because the Circumlocution Office was down upon any ill-advised public servant who was going to do it, or who appeared to be by any surprising accident in remote danger of doing it, with a minute, and a memorandum, and a letter of instructions that extinguished him. It was this spirit of national efficiency in the Circumlocution Office that had gradually led to its having something to do with everything. Mechanicians, natural philosophers, soldiers, sailors, petitioners, memorialists, people with grievances, people who wanted to prevent grievances, people who wanted to redress grievances, jobbing people, jobbed people, people who couldn’t get rewarded for merit, and people who couldn’t get punished for demerit, were all indiscriminately tucked up under the foolscap paper of the Circumlocution Office.

Numbers of people were lost in the Circumlocution Office. Unfortunates with wrongs, or with projects for the general welfare (and they had better have had wrongs at first, than have taken that bitter English recipe for certainly getting them), who in slow lapse of time and agony had passed safely through other public departments; who, according to rule, had been bullied in this, over-reached by that, and evaded by the other; got referred at last to the Circumlocution Office, and never reappeared in the light of day. Boards sat upon them, secretaries minuted upon them, commissioners gabbled about them, clerks registered, entered, checked, and ticked them off, and they melted away. In short, all the business of the country went through the Circumlocution Office, except the business that never came out of it; and its name was Legion.

Sometimes, angry spirits attacked the Circumlocution Office. Sometimes, parliamentary questions were asked about it, and even parliamentary motions made or threatened about it by demagogues so low and ignorant as to hold that the real recipe of government was, How to do it. Then would the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, in whose department it was to defend the Circumlocution Office, put an orange in his pocket, and make a regular field-day of the occasion. Then would he come down to that house with a slap upon the table, and meet the honourable gentleman foot to foot. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that the Circumlocution Office not only was blameless in this matter, but was commendable in this matter, was extollable to the skies in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that, although the Circumlocution Office was invariably right and wholly right, it never was so right as in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that it would have been more to his honour, more to his credit, more to his good taste, more to his good sense, more to half the dictionary of commonplaces, if he had left the Circumlocution Office alone, and never approached this matter. Then would he keep one eye upon a coach or crammer from the Circumlocution Office sitting below the bar, and smash the honourable gentleman with the Circumlocution Office account of this matter. And although one of two things always happened; namely, either that the Circumlocution Office had nothing to say and said it, or that it had something to say of which the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, blundered one half and forgot the other; the Circumlocution Office was always voted immaculate by an accommodating majority.

Such a nursery of statesmen had the Department become in virtue of a long career of this nature, that several solemn lords had attained the reputation of being quite unearthly prodigies of business, solely from having practised, How not to do it, as the head of the Circumlocution Office. As to the minor priests and acolytes of that temple, the result of all this was that they stood divided into two classes, and, down to the junior messenger, either believed in the Circumlocution Office as a heaven-born institution that had an absolute right to do whatever it liked; or took refuge in total infidelity, and considered it a flagrant nuisance.

——-

*Background facts about CPF

Data compiled by Morningstar shows that there are funds which handily beat the CPF rates. Aberdeen’s Pacific Equity Fund, for example, generated annualised returns of 4.6 per cent over three years; 13.8 per cent over five years; and 13.5 per cent over 10 years. The maximum loss and volatility over the periods were in double digits, however.

As at March 2014, there was S$259.5 billion in total members’ balances in the CPF. The Ordinary Account (OA) accounted for S$100.7 billion and another S$62.8 billion sat in the Special Account (SA).

In terms of participation in the CPF Investment Scheme, S$20.7 billion of OA funds were invested, and S$5.7 billion of SA funds.

**Uncle Leong (Roy’s sifu) has been telling S’poreans for years what Roy has discovered. The only thing that Roy did different was to accuse the govt of “stealing” our CPF, something that he has repented of:

I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

 

 

 

Why we should follow Cambodian politics closely

In Political governance on 26/07/2014 at 6:22 am

Especially those TRE posters (loonies?) who shout that the Oppo will win the next GE*. They ever tot that if the PAP is as bad as what they claim is the case, the PAP won’t steal the election Cambodian style?

Last yr, in a closely fought election, the governing party (the PM says LKY is a hero of his) won a majority of seats in the parliament. The Oppo alleged fraud and refused to take their seats and called for fresh elections. The govt passed laws to its satisfaction in the absence of an oppo in parly.

Now a deal has been struck. The electoral commission is at the heart of the deal. The CPP-dominated National Election Committee—widely derided as a puppet of the government—is to be overhauled, which requires that the constitution be changed. The two major parties will now have four members on the committee, with a ninth independent member to be agreed on by both sides.

—–

The timing of the deal, so near the anniversary of the contested election, might not be a coincidence. Both sides were feeling the public pressure to reach an agreement. For the opposition, the question was how long they could keep operating as a political force with only rallies and public protests to bind them together, while laws were passed without them in the assembly. The government was faced with the prospect of having to keep defending that one-party parliament to the international community.

The violence the government employed to disperse protesters drew a steady stream of criticism throughout the year. Security forces beat and arrested demonstrators, and at least seven were shot dead.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/07/cambodian-politics

Just as S’poreans should be watching developments in Thailand,

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/freak-election-training-manual-for-safs-paper-generals-and-us-40-sporeans-too/

– http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/more-on-when-there-is-a-freak-election-result/

we should follow developments in Cambodia. There are lessons to be learner especially about the importance of the election organisers (here under PMO).

Interesting the Thais have introduced a law banning gatherings of five people or more. They learnt that from us?

*None of the Oppo parties believe this is possible. Ask SDP, NSP, People in light blue, SDA, JBJ Remebrance Party, Chiams, TJS Team and Pwee Gang.

Did you know Cat Lim qualified her “people no longer trust their government” comment?

In Humour, Political governance on 24/07/2014 at 5:26 pm

I’m sure you remember that Cat Lim in June repeated her broken record that the PAP is doomed (first said in the 1990s and repeated every few yrs), adding a variation that the PAP is no longer trusted by S’poreans. After a civil servant, in the course of his duties, pointedly pointed out out “Gee how come the govt keeps winning elections by huge majorities?”, she said on 16 June  “I would like to point out that the mistrust is very real, even if it only involves a minority.”

(From her blog … the South China Morning Post published my Open Letter to the PM, and subsequently, a response from the Consul-General of Singapore in Hong Kong, Mr Jacky Foo. The Straits Timesreported on Mr Foo’s letter on 14 June, and published my reply ​to this report on the Forum page on 16 June. My reply is reproduced below.)

Gee from the PAP are doomed because the people mistrust it, she now says “only … a minority” mistrust it. Artistic licence? Or BS?

And our objective, anti-PAP bloggers glossed over her qualification. heck they are getting as bad as SPH and MediaCorp journalists and editors. At least they have the excuse of needing to toe the line to pay-off their affordable public housing mortgages. And so cannot afford to have integrity.

Actually, Ms Lim should have waited before changing her mind. Tan Jee Say had this to say a few weeks ago on FB (after Cat’s reply): [ST] chose to cite only one major indicator of  the  2014 Edelman Trust Barometer , namely the survey result  that showed 75% of Singaporeans trust government  institutions; this, it claimed, proved that the vast majority trust the government.

 But a second key indicator gave a different  dimension, namely that only 26% of Singaporeans trust their government leaders to tell the truth  regardless  of how complex or unpopular it is. Does this 26% trust in leaders to tell the truth mean that 74% of Singaporeans cannot trust PAP government leaders to tell the truth or expect them to tell untruths or even lies? Now this is telling. If the statistics are true, it speaks volumes about the low level of trust  Singaporeans have in PAP leaders. It is definitely a crisis for the PAP however hard the PAP might want to deny, ignore or gloss over it …

One, and I’m one, can disagree with TJS’s contention, that only 26% trust the PAP (pls read the survey again TJS) but his is a valid reasonable, point of view. He also RI boy.

Finally on the issue of where the majority lies, here’s something for those of us who think that the fact that the PAP got 60% of the votes in GE 2011 and two ex-PAP men (and proud of the fact they were PAP men0  got between them 70% of the votes in PE 20111, showed that the PAP had the support of the majority of voters, to think about. We could be wrong in our reasoning:

something John Oliver recently satirised on his HBO comedy show, “Last Week Tonight”. A Brit, Mr Oliver was keen to highlight a uniquely American irony: while 65% of the country notices the income gap has widened, and 60% believe the system “unfairly favours the wealthy”, 60% nevertheless insist that “most people who work hard enough can make it”—a faith that echoes the buoyant message of the junior senator from Florida. 

Mr Oliver plays a little fast and loose with the math here: there’s no telling how much the two 60% blocs in the polls overlap. (It’s possible, for example, that up to two-thirds of the optimists about hard-working Americans do not believe the system favours the wealthy—remember your Venn diagrams.) And there is nothing necessarily illogical about thinking that while the economy favours those with lots of money, it also gives the lower orders a chance to improve their lot. 

(From an Economist blog)

 

Julius Caesar was wrong about these anti-PAP activists

In CPF, Humour, Political governance, Public Administration on 24/07/2014 at 4:19 am


When I saw the above photo in TOC, I couldn’t help think that  Juius Caesar was wrong when he said,
Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o’ nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
(Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar scene ii)
Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Dr James Gomez, Dr Paul Tambyah and Mr Goh Meng Seng don’t have a lean and hungry look.
And they certainly think too much. As to dangerous what do you think?
Only the presenter and a blogger (the two tiny ones in the centre) fit the description of “dangerous”.
GMS used to pretty trim, now his belly is as big as Garbra Gomez’s and KenJ’s. They not doing the rounds like NSP’s P Ravi? He lost a lot of weight by climbing stairs distributing NSP materials to HDB residents, getting a great workout in return. And all the WP MPs and NCMPs are trim. They do the rounds of their areas.
Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Dr James Gomez, Dr Paul Tambyah and Mr Goh Meng Seng  were taking part in “TOC Policy Exchange on CPF – rethinking the system”. Do watch it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmViCNPF_vc
And donate to TOC:
TOC’s Policy Exchange discussion on the CPF. We thank the various members on the panel who have contributed to the discussion. MOM and CPFB were invited to join us, but have declined.

Regrettably, we had to scale down to size of the event due to lack of funding. If you would like TOC to continue holding such discussions, please do help us with funding. To note, our forums are open to sponsorship.

Finally, do remember that Dr Paul Tambyah is an active SDP member and a professor at NUS. Gone are the days when people liked him accepted invitations to join the PAP without thinking. Or when dabbling in Oppo politics was a no-no for NUS academics. They could be investigated and sacked.

S’pore is changing despite the PAP’s hegemony.

Want a Pekatan here? It’s disunited

In Political governance on 21/07/2014 at 4:58 am

(Since I had posts on Sat and Sunday giving little known details on the MAS tragedy (herehere, here and here, largely extracts from BBC reports), I tot I’d continue the M’sian theme, today and tom.)

There has been a lot of noise that S’porean Oppo parties should unite (actually the term should be “confederate”) like M’sia’s DAP, PAS and TeamAnwar under the Pakatan banner*.

Those calling for this kind of alliance should have their heads examined by the doctor treating M Ravi for bi-polarism. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/understanding-m-ravis-bi-polar-disorder/ (related article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25747068)

Confederating the SDP and WP is like the DAP and PAS fighting under one umbrella, a recipe for disunity in unity.

Rowing over chopping of limbs and stoning

The PAS several months ago wanted to introduce a law in Kelantan (their state) introducing Hudud, or Islamic penal practices. Hudud prescribes punishments such as amputation of limbs for theft and stoning for adultery..

The DAP, a secular and liberal (even though it was founded as the PAP’s M’sian Trojan Horse), was more than upset

Lim Kit Siang (the DAP’s LKY) has repeatedly said that that Pakatan could split over the issue**.

The PAS has postponed the tabling of a private member’s Bill in Parliament, which would have paved the way for the implementation of hudud, the Islamic penal code, in the north-eastern state of Kelantan.The postponement was to give sufficient time to a technical committee — proposed by the govt and involving both the federal and state governments — to examine how best to enforce hudud in PAS-governed Kelantan.

Many in the DAP are sore because they claim that the May by-election in Teluk Intan was lost because of non-Muslim worries over the hudud.

WP, SDP are poles apart

In S’pore while the SDP, NSP, the Chiams and WP are multi-racial (Yes, yes I know some Indians dispute that the WP is multi-racial, they want it to be run by Indians like it once was when it had candidates who looney and bicyle thieves) and secular parties, there are big differences. The WP portrays itself as a more compassionate, moderate version of the PAP, while the SDP positions itself as what in the West would be called a Social Democrat party with leftist tendencies. The Chiams and NSP are in between. The other parties are a joke esp the JBJ Remembrance Party, and the two parties led by scholars who didn’t make it into the PAP. The two scholars and s/o JBJ only became politicians when it was safe to do so.

Furthermore, the WP has made it clear that it is not in a position to be the govt, and has no interest in being part of an alternative coalition. The NSP has indicated that it is not ready to be the govt, while leaving the possibility of being in a coalition unsaid. The Chiams are happy to be part of a alt coalition govt. The SDP thinks it can form the govt but knows that it would never win enough votes to get a majority. And anyway, we know Dr Chee can go whacko, if his RI doctors are not vigilant.

How the WP and SDP can confederate under one party is beyond me.

Chop system works

We actually have quite a gd system here of opposing the PAP. Problem is that only 25-30% support the Oppo parties. And 70% of voters are comfortable with two ex-PAP stalwarts to give them their votes in PE 2011. And the ex-PAP member who dissed the PAP lost his deposit.

As I see it, leg lifting to mark territory or, to use more polite language, the system whereby the party that contests in a previous election (once upon a time, as recent as 2006, there were uncontested GRCs) is not challenged is working pretty well and serving S’poreans’ interests given the 60-70% support that the PAP has.

The system is not perfect and the WP interprets it on the basis of “might is right”. But hey it’sw the only oppo party that kept on going thru the 90s and noughties.

1963 revisited?

The danger in the next GE is that Team TJS (Singaporeans First), JBJ Remembrance Party, and Pwee Gang ( Democratic Progressive Party, DPP). will stand as third party candidates in areas where the Chiams, NSP, WP or SDP have a decent chance of winning. This is something I’m sure the PAP is expecting to happen, and will do its best to make sure happens.

S’pore has been here before. Here’s an extract of a letter to a British magazine written after the 1963 elections

We [Barisan Socialists] won thirteen seats at the elections, averaging 15.000 votes to each seat. The PAP won thirty- seven seats, averaging 7,000 votes to each seat. The United People’s Party, whose function was to split the left-wing votes, campaigned on a programme that was somewhat similar to ours but more extremely put. Only their leader, Mr. Ong Eng Guan, was elected. We received 201,000 votes (35 per cent) and the PAP 272,000 votes (47 per cent). The difference is only 70,000 votes out of a total electorate of nearly 500,000. The UPP took away 49,000 votes (8 per cent), causing us the loss of seven con- stituencies (apart from Mr. Ong’s), and saved four PAP Ministers from defeat.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/29th-november-1963/23/the-situation-in-singapore

So for those who want an end to the PAP’s hegemony in parly (self included), let us make it clear to the three stooges, TJS, Pwee and s/o JBJ, and the SDA: “Don’t fight in any constituency where the SDP, WP, Chiams, NSP fielded candidates in the last GE”. Pwee and YJS go play in KenJ’s or SDA’s playpens. They don’t respect the “chop” rules and have lost deposits as a result.

And tell Tan Kim Lian and Goh Meng Seng not to contest. If not for their clowning antics, we could have had Dr Tan Cheng Bock as president.

—-

*Example: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/07/01/a-disunited-opposition-cannot-form-an-effective-govt/

We all feel buoyant and almost confident that the next GE will see a change in Government. Either PAP will be decimated, become the opposition party or lose its two third majority in parliament.

But lets not jump the gun just yet. There is a lot of ground work that needs to be done. Especially with the present group of opposition parties.

The present situation does not look too good. We have too many Opposition Parties such as WP, SDP, RP, NSP, PKMS, SP and etc. When PAP flatters in the next GE, we the citizens of Singapore want to be assured that our lives will go on as usual with some minor hiccups initially, but will normalise and in the coming months and years improve with the new Government. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL SINGAPOREANS MUST BE SURE OF.

We do not want an Egypt or Iraq. We will be put off if we cannot see this clearly insight before we start to vote for better future without PAP’s overbearing control of our lives. When the opposition takes over the government and when there are too many Political Parties forming the government, this government will be weak. A coalition of such parties will be easily attacked and made weak, especially by the PAP who may be the opposition in Parliament. It will be easy for them to play the various parties against each other.

This will surely cause the coalition government to be very weak. A weak government cannot be an effective government to bring Singapore and its citizens forward to a better future.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL PRESENT OPPOSTION PARTIES WORK AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO FORM A UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT. A COALITION OF PARTIES TO FORM A SINGLE FRONT GOING INTO THE NEXT GE AND IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT.

This is much like the Barisan Nasional (National Front) and the Pakatan Rakyaat (People’s Coalition) of Malaysia. Both of them went into the GE as single parties.

We need a SINGLE PARTY to oppose PAP in the next GE. We need a two (main) party systems to ensure continued stability going forward after each election. Strong examples of these are the mature democracies of USA, UK, Australia, and most European countries.

WP, SDP, RP, SP, PKMS and the rest MUST THINK DEEP AND HARD FOR THE SAKE OF SINGAPORE AND ALL SINGAPOREANS to work hard on this. PLEASE WE HAVE PLACED OUR TRUST, HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS ON YOU LTK, CSJ, KJ, and the gang we truly trust are fighting for the welfare of all Singaporeans and Singapore as one UNITED NATION.

Singaporean For Democracy

Submitted by TRE reader.

**At a party dinner a few weeks ago in Malacca, Democratic Lim Kit Siang warned that PR could break up if the parties’ disagreement over the hudud issue persists. Mr Lim said if the three parties did not remain united, PR would go the way of the Barisan Alternative, a short-lived alliance between PAS, PKR, DAP and Parti Rakyat Malaysia formed in 1999. The coalition was disbanded after the 2004 general election.

“In the past year since the 13th general election, supporters of Pakatan Rakyat have been increasingly concerned whether Pakatan Rakyat … could only survive for one general election,” said Mr Lim.

Why millionaire-ministers are rooting for any team except Argies

In Footie, Humour, Political governance on 07/07/2014 at 4:42 am

While all S’poreans, disgusted with million dollar salaries for ministers should be cheering for the Argies.

It’s all about the money the managers earn relative to their performance. Argie’s mgr is only 22nd in the World Cup managers” salaries ranking while the other three teams are 4th Brazil), 6th (Germany) and 8th (my favourite).

The Argie mgr is paid only 20.45% of the salary of the Brazilian manager. A certain PAP MP eye doctor would surely sneer at him if he consulted said eye doctor.

Here, I explained why the World Cup is proving the PAP wrong: there is no relation between high pay and gd performance.

In round 1, the teams managed by the three highest paid managers were eliminated. The teams were Russia, England and Italy.

The managers are paid £6.7m, £3.5m and £2.6m, respectively. (Data from UK paper, hence the £)

Other mgrs on the top 10 most well paid list that were eliminated were Spain (mgr is the 7th most highly paid at £2m) and and Japan (9th at £1.6m). For the record, Portugal’s mgr is 12th at £1.3m.

I went on to analyse the other  games where less well-paid managers won. Thiink Costa Rica.

But the PAP can still say the World Cup validates the salary thesis esp if Brazil wins. So come on Argies.

Of the remaining four managers, Brazil ‘s mgr is the fourth most highly paid manager at £2.4m, Germany’s mgr is paid £2.1m (6th), Holland’s mgr (8th in the world) at £2m, and a long way away is the Argies’ mgr (22) at £0.49m.

But the stats say Germany will win. Beating Brazil in semi and Argies in final.

Not juz because Brazil is missing Neymar with a fractured bone in his spine sustained against Colombia.

Breakingviews’ updated Soccernomics calculator … which crunches economic and demographic numbers to predict the outcome of World Cup matches, has performed reasonably well during the first half of the tournament. It predicted the correct winner in 27 of the 48 matches in the group stage. Excluding drawn matches, the calculator was right 69 percent of the time. [Got Italy and Spain wrong though]

On-field form plays no direct part in Breakingviews’ predictions. The model combines the transfer value of players, the country’s population, the proportion of people who play soccer, and public engagement with the sport to come up with an overall rating. Teams with the higher rank should win.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/06/27/numbers-show-germany-will-beat-brazil-to-world-cup/

Another reason why Argies will not win: geriatric squads don’t win the World Cup. a four-place drop in performance (see chart). In other words, if a reigning champion simply brought back its roster from four years before, its mean age would increase by four years, and it would be expected to finish a dismal 17th. http://www.economist.com/blogs/gametheory/2014/07/player-age-football

World Cup: Best paid mgrs keep losing to poorer ones

In Footie, Humour, Political governance on 06/07/2014 at 7:04 am

Former are under performers like certain very well-paid PAP ministers?

This World cup is proving a nightmare to the PAP’s Hard Truth that ministers will only perform well if very well paid by int’l standards.

I’ll let the facts speak:

In round 1, the teams managed by the three highest paid managers were eliminated. The teams were Russia, England and Italy.

The managers are paid £6.7m, £3.5m and £2.6m, respectively. (Data from UK paper, hence the £)

Other mgrs on the top 10 most well paid list that were eliminated were Spain (mgr is the 7th most highly paid at £2m) and and Japan (9th at £1.6m). For the record, Portugal’s mgr is 12th at £1.3m.

Then, Switzerland lost to Argies. It’s manager is paid £2.2m (5th in the world). Argies’ mgr is a lowly 22 at £0.49m,

Brazil’s manager is the 4th most highly paid at £2.4m and as we all know he juz missed two bullets. Chile’s mgr (at £1.1m) is ranked 14th, and Columbia’s is ranked 15th at £1m.

scan0001 (from ST last week)

Germany’s mgr is the kind of guy PAP would like as a poster boy. He is paid £2.1m (6th) and doing well.

Another PAP-poster boy would be Holland’s mgr (8th in the world at £2m),

They would demonise Argis’ mgr (a lowly 22 at £0.49m: how would PAP MP eye doctor respect him?) , Costa Rica’s mgr ( ranked 26th with £0.26m),and Belgium (20th at £0,52m).

More evidence (as if more was needed) to show that the PAP is talking rubbish about the link between ministerial salaries and the quality of ministers. It doesn’t work in World Cup footie. The PAP would be praying hard that Argies don’t win.

BTW, I’m hoping for an all ang moh final with Holland winning. And it’s not ’cause the German coach is paid more.

 

More on when there is a freak election result

In Political governance on 05/07/2014 at 4:38 am

(Or “What else can the Thais teach us about military rule”)

Further to http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/freak-election-training-manual-for-safs-paper-generals-and-us-40-sporeans-too/ based on what is happening in Thailand, when there is a freak election result (2016 as TRE posters are predicting) and the SAF’s paper generals stage a coup to restore the PAP protect parliamentary democracy, S’poreans will be detained for reading Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, and handing out food packets to passer-byes.

In Thailand, a man was detained for reading Orwell’s 1984 outside a shopping mall, while others have been detained for preparing to hand out sandwiches.For some reason, giving out sandwiches is considered a protest against the coup, not other food though.

In S’pore, the public reading of Animal Farm and 1984, will be illegal as well as sharing food. I’m also sure that bloggers who refer to Animal Farm will be prosecuted, and their blogs closed down: for defaming pigs.

But looking on the bright side, the SAF generals may do what the Thai generals are doing: spend money that Thailand may not have

IT DID not take long for Thailand’s ruling junta to discover the first lesson of building popular goodwill: when in doubt, spend. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the ruling junta led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has occupied itself in its first month in office airing out government coffers with a high-powered leafblower. It paid nearly 92.4 billion baht ($2.8 billion) to rice farmers under a subsidy scheme implemented by the deposed government of Yingluck Shinawatra. It is pondering ambitious transport schemes estimated to cost more than $72 billion.

It has also promised to clear a $21-billion backlog of projects awaiting approval from the Board of Investment (BOI)—of which Mr Prayuth has appointed himself chair. At the BOI’s first post-coup meeting, on June 18th, it approved 18 projects worth $4 billion.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21606327-economy-cannot-shrug-thailands-political-problems-when-teflon-wears

The bad news is that investors don’t like coup as the above link tells us.

So the news may be that our paper generals may juz except a freak election result: so long as they can play with their toys.

Related: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/thailand-huge-ad-gd-pr-for-pap-govt/

Buying votes? Or social justice redistribution?

In Political governance on 02/07/2014 at 4:47 am

A recent announcement reminded me that National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday (June 2) warned against turning elections into an auction between political parties promising voters as much “goodies” as they can, with as low taxes as possible*.

PAP not into vote buying: perish the tot, he was saying.

So how come this announcement?

In the first week of July, about 1.6 million Singaporeans will receive letters informing them of their 2014 GST Voucher (GSTV), as well as other Budget 2014 benefits** such as the 2014 GSTV Special Payments, the 5-Year Medisave top-up, as well as the Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a press release on Monday (June 30).

Most Singaporeans will automatically receive their GSTV payouts and 5-Year Medisave top-ups, the MOF said. Those who have not signed up for past Government payouts and/or are not CPF members will receive letters informing them of the actions they need to take by Dec 31 to receive their benefits. (CNA)

And this is only the latest in a string of spending our money on ourselves to make life more comfortable:

The Government … (June 5) accepted the MediShield Life Review Committee’s recommendation that it should bear most of the costs of the scheme, details of which were released the same day.

“The Government accepts the committee’s recommendation and will bear most of the cost of bringing in those with pre-existing conditions. In this way, the Government will help all Singaporeans, including those with pre-existing conditions and those who are currently excluded, achieve MediShield Life cover, while ensuring that premiums are kept affordable for policyholders,” the Ministry of Health …

Said Committee chairman Bobby Chin: “We have listened to what Singaporeans valued most in MediShield Life. Our recommendations will provide better protection against large hospital bills for all Singaporeans, for life.”

He added that the committee will finalise its recommendations in a month, with the scheme slated to be implemented by the end of 2015.

The government will commit nearly $4 billion in financial support over five years to the revamped national health insurance scheme that will offer lifelong coverage and better protection.

– The recent Pioneer Generation package.catering to those born in 1949 or earlier, and who became a Citizen before 1987, will cost the Government S$9 billion.The Government will establish an S$8 billion Pioneer Generation Fund to meet the cost of the package over time.

– Then there is an ongoing public tpt revamp which now includes baskers and themed cabins. It started off several yrs ago with a $1.1bn (spread over 5 yrs I think) subsidy for buses, and will result in routes being contracted out to operators.

– Temasek yestewrday pledged an additional endowment of $60 million over the next five years to Temasek Cares, a non-profit philanthropic organisation founded in June 2009 to help needy and disadvantaged Singaporeans.

But let’s be fair, a site that the PAP says is not related to it (Of course, site founder was unemployed, not a very PAP thing) , reposted this from a site that seems pro-PAP (or at least anti-oppo):

On the one hand cry election is coming, that’s pork barrel politics, on the other hand, shouted gahmen not doing enough to help the poor, why 4-roomer get less.

GST Voucher is a redistribution system from the rich, and from foreigners who pay GST, towards the poor and middle income group in Singapore.

Fair point.

What do you think? Vote buying or social justice redistribution at work? Just remember, it’s yr money.

Whatever lah; spending other people’s money can do a lot for a politician. Think Thaksin. He introduced a simple idea to Thai politics that had been ignored by his rivals: find out what people want, and give it to them. Ever since he has been unbeaten at the polls. The national discussion of economic policy, including that led by the current junta, has concentrated on the idea of reducing the cost of household expenditures.

Taz the reality. So much for the theory that there is a need for competing political visions of different kinds that encompass not only what is best for the nation but also the economic and social needs of the population. Juz ask WP. It’s “vision” is “PAP is OK with us as co-driver”. No wonder PAP are annoyed.

When elections become a contest of competing political visions, pigs will fly. Money always talks.

——

*“In all honesty, we must acknowledge most of our people would always want more, but would never want to pay more in taxes, and it’s incumbent upon our part to be honest with our voters, because if every election is a mere auction between political parties to give as much goodies as they can with as little taxes they need to pay, I think democracy of that manner must lead to insolvency and eventually, political cynicism.”

Mr Khaw added there is no shortage of money to finance the development of infrastructure – the problem is a lack of sustainable good ideas which will benefit all sectors in a country. He said, as long as projects are bankable, there will be no shortage of funding. However, it is inevitable that governments may need to help finance some projects in order to help the poorer segments of the population.

**The benefits are as follows:

GSTV – CASH AND GSTV – CASH: SENIORS’ BONUS
About 1.3 million Singaporeans will receive the GSTV – Cash on Aug 1. Of this group, about 660,000 Singaporeans aged 55 and above will also receive the GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus, which will see them receiving double the GSTV – Cash amount in 2014. The GSTV – Cash and GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus will cost the Government S$505 million, the MOF said.

GSTV – MEDISAVE
About 380,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above will also receive the GSTV – Medisave top-up on Aug 1, at a cost to the Government of S$115 million.

GSTV – U-SAVE AND GSTV – U-SAVE SPECIAL PAYMENT
The regular GST Voucher – U-Save will be given out quarterly, the MOF said. In addition, a Special Payment will be given out in July 2014 and January 2015. These vouchers will offset utilities directly and cost the Government S$290 million in total. In July, 800,000 households will receive S$90 to S$195 each in rebates, depending on the type of flat they stay in.

ADDITIONAL MEDISAVE TOP-UPS UNDER 5-YEAR MEDISAVE TOP-UP SCHEME
As announced in Budget 2014, Singaporeans born on or before Dec 31, 1959 – in other words, those aged 55 and above in 2014 – and who do not enjoy Pioneer Generation benefits will receive Medisave top-ups of S$100 or S$200 annually over the next five years, the ministry said. About 530,000 Singaporeans will benefit at a cost to the Government of S$100 million. Those who stay in homes of Annual Value above S$13,000 or who own more than one property will receive S$100 a year. “The vast majority – those living in HDB flats who do not own more than one property – will get the higher top-up of S$200 a year,” the MOF announced.

 

 

 

 

 

PM talking cock? Impossible to know if trade-offs are reasonable, fair or appropriate

In Political governance, Temasek on 29/06/2014 at 4:49 am

(Or “Shades of Orwell’s Big Brother?”)

Came across this thoughtful piece by Andy Mukherjee over the weekend. It explains clearly the issues and trade-offs Singapore faces in building our ideal society, while ensuring that Singaporeans have jobs and economic opportunities to build better lives and a brighter future.
As the article points out, we do enjoy important advantages compared to other countries, but it will still not be easy. There are serious trade-offs, which we must be willing to acknowledge and address. If we just pretend that everything can be better, and no hard choices are necessary, we will get into trouble. Mukherjee calls this “please-all economics”, and expresses confidence that Singaporeans are too pragmatic to fall for it. We must make sure that he is right. – LHL on FB two weeks ago

Piece PM raving about: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/12/breakingviews-singapore-unrest-idINL4N0OQ07F20140612

But if we don’t know how much money we have, and how much are the returns the reserves are making for us, how can we judge if the trade-offs PM and his govt make are the right ones? After all he has as gd as admitted his govt got immigration, welfare, public tpt and public housing policies wrong by changing (sorry tweaking or is it evolving?) these policies.

And these were policies significant numbers (self included, and I note not M’sian new citizen Pussy Cat Lim who confines herself to general banalities) had been warning against for yrs. We were called “noise”, until the govt decided to change these policies.

This is what one LHL said many yrs ago when he was DPM and economic and financial czar:

The Singapore government, May 16, defended the secrecy surrounding its financial reserves of more than US$100 billion, saying it was not in the national interest to disclose details.
The veil of secrecy was necessary to protect the Singapore dollar from speculative attacks, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in parliament.

“It is not in the people’s interest and the nation’s interest to detail our assets and their yearly returns,” he said.http://www.singapore-window.org/sw01/010516a3.htm

This remains the govt’s stand.

And if I remember correctly, his dad once said that info reserves had to be kept a secret so that S’poreans couldn’t ask for more welfare, which they would if they knew how much money S’pore had. Readers correcting me or referencing the quote appreciated.I can’t find it via my googling.

In this mobile internet age, it is sad and self-defeating that the the PM and the PAP govt (ministers and civil servants) cling to the Leninist system that all information is political and can be designated a “state secret” at any time if the govt decides it does not help to bolster the govt’s or party’s own legitimacy and power.

BTW flaw in AndyM’s analysis which disqualifies from being an unbiased analyst

There is a fifth way which Mr Mukherjee has not considered. It is to reduce and reallocate government expenditures. In particular, the government can consider reduce defence spending so as to increase spending on welfare. This is a classic “Gun vs Butter” resource allocation problem studied in elementary economics. At present, Singapore is spending nearly a quarter of the $57 billion estimated government expenditures for FY2014 on defence alone (23% at $13 billion) … [TRE]

Maybe he aiming to be a PAP minister? He is a FT based here.

He did serious weight-lifting in 2011 at a Temasek briefing:First of all, congratulations on beating the sage of Omaha because [ … ] you seem to have out performed Warren Buffett on every horizon. He was BSing as Temasek and Berskshire cannot be compared ’cause Berkshire is listed, Temasek is not.

And if you think PM’s remarks on trade-offs when juxtaposed with his remarks  on the need for secrecy on reserves are Orwellian, his press secretary’s remarks in relation to Roy Ngerng are even more chilling:

… What is at stake is not any short-term positive or negative impact on the government, but the sort of public debate Singapore should have. When someone makes false and malicious personal allegations that impugn a person’s character or integrity, the victim has the right to vindicate his reputation, whether he is an ordinary citizen or the prime minister. The internet should not be exempt from the laws of defamation. It is perfectly possible to have a free and vigorous debate without defaming anyone, as occurs often in Singapore. Emphasis mine

Foster public debate by suing for defamation? Come on, pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it. I’m reminded of the slogans in 1984:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

 

 

 

SIR – I refer to the article “A butterfly on a wheel” (June 13th). You referred to an “alleged ‘serious libel’” by Roy Ngerng. This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation. After promising to apologise and to remove the post, Mr Ngerng did the opposite; he actively disseminated the libel further. This was a grave and deliberate defamation, whether it occurred online or in the traditional media being immaterial.

What is at stake is not any short-term positive or negative impact on the government, but the sort of public debate Singapore should have. When someone makes false and malicious personal allegations that impugn a person’s character or integrity, the victim has the right to vindicate his reputation, whether he is an ordinary citizen or the prime minister. The internet should not be exempt from the laws of defamation. It is perfectly possible to have a free and vigorous debate without defaming anyone, as occurs often in Singapore.

Chang Li Lin
Press secretary to the prime minister
Singapore

- See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/letters/21604530-ukraine-singapore-employment-housing-food-trucks-john-birch-society-football-0#sthash.lPfPUP1T.dpuf

 

“Freak election” training manual for SAF’s paper generals? And us 40% S’poreans too?

In Humour, Political governance, Uncategorized on 15/06/2014 at 5:58 am

Remember the Hard Truth that the SAF could intervene if there is a “freak” election result?

Could what is happening in Thailand tell us what will happen here when in the near future when the PAP (even with the help of its near clones, the People in Blue) is unable to command a parly majority? And the SAF intervenes?

The paper generals could do worse than to follow the Thai generals and give us, for starters, free World cup footie? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27790396 And if its not a WC yr, then free EPL*?

Thailand’s ruling junta has ordered TV regulators to ensure that football fans will not have to pay to watch any matches at the World Cup.

This will be part of  what The military said it was part of its “happiness campaign”, which has seen a number of policy gimmicks, such as free haircuts and concerts. In S’pore, S’poreans would appreciate free hawker food and no PUB bills.

As the Economist reports:

One of their priorities is a push for Gross National Happiness. The day after the coup General Prayuth told diplomats that economic revival was a big priority. Returning happiness to the people is to be counted a separate issue, apparently. A week later, and state agencies have been reported to be working on a Happiness Index. The Nation, a pro-establishment newspaper that has come to read like a Thai variation on one of Vietnam’s Party-controlled papers, reported that under the generals all of the existing economic plans have been amended—in order to boost gross national happiness. Perhaps this is all an allusion to the happiness-minded people of Bhutan, also Buddhists who adore their king? Then try picturing Bhutanese marching through Bangkok in jackboots.

On June 5th the junta organised its first “Return Happiness to the Public” event. Staged at Victory Monument, which had recently been the site of small-scale protests against the coup, it featured dancers in camouflage outfits; a spicy routine by the orchestra of the Royal Thai Army; plus free food, and haircuts. A few hundred or so fans of the army showed up, and its Thai Psychological Operation team says it was pleased with the attendance.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/06/thailands-military-coup

Related article: http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/06/watching-thailand-s-coup-myanmar

The generals could learn about interrupting tv programmes: Since the coup on 22 May, TV programmes have frequently been interrupted by the army listing names of people they’re summoning for questioning. Though not of course footie games.

And making, All those detained … sign an agreement which states they will not criticise the military government.

And for us S’poreans who did not PAP in GE 2011, we can do what the Thais who are unhappy about are doing

– eat sandwiches (State-run newspapers have warned people against eating sandwiches, and a senior police chief said they’re keeping a close eye on the sandwich-eaters. Eating sandwiches is not illegal per se, he said, but if sandwich-eating is being used as a front – when the real intention is to criticise the coup – then that would be.);

– give the three-finger salute

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-27833824

On a serious note, what the Thai coup is all about: Royalists not happy at who is the heir to the thrown http://m.afr.com/p/world/thailand_secret_story_the_battle_QcvSA6u4clBHmLTFPLFQNJ

What is not reported in the story, is that Thaksin and the crown prince are buddies.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/05/future-thailands-elite

*After all PAP PA is showing WC and EPL matches http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/paps-new-secret-weapons/

But this TRE poster is unhappy, he can’t bring his own food and drink:

there is a rule which says:

No outside food and drinks are allowed. Tidbits and drinks (hot/cold) are sold in the football loft.

The reader said, “I am very angry at how the PA is exploiting Singaporeans, even politicizing sports and profiteering from the World Cup!”

He said that he can understand if the place is a food court or restaurant whose primary interest is to make money and it demands that no outside food and drinks are allowed. But he cannot understand why PA disallows residents to bring their own tidbits and drinks.

“I am not allowed to bring outside food and drinks but can only buy the more expensive food and drinks directly from PA???” the reader said. “Why can’t I bring my own water from home?”

“Why this kind of small money PA also wants to make? What about the millions of dollars of budget allocated to PA every year? Not enough?” the reader wondered.

The reader was also angry that priority is not given to Singaporeans to watch the free screenings.

“It does not state if priority will be given to Singaporeans. In previous PA events in which I have attended, such as the monthly walk-a-jog sessions, a certain group of nationality will jump at every chance to hog free drinking water or other goodies after the walk-jog,” he added.

The reader then took issue with the limited seating capacity as the venue could only cater to 150 viewers.

“Is this a joke? In GE 2011, there were 27,701 voters in Hong Kah North SMC and today only 150 out of 27,701 voters can watch the matches for free???” the reader asked.

“That’s not even 1% of the residents!” he exclaimed.

He remarked sarcastically, “The PA must not underestimate that only 150 out of 27,000+ voters will go to the CC – this is not a PAP GE rally!”

“Will the PA please stop treating citizens as sheep?” he asked.

The reader concluded by saying he will not bother to write to the PA, REACH or his MP, Dr Amy Khor.

“Because I am afraid Dr Amy Khor would repeat what she has already said in parliament that ‘Singaporeans first’ policy is not good for the economy!” he said.

Gosh, he think S’pore’s his grandfather’s place is it? And he xenophobe to boot?

 

PAP’s new secret weapons?

In Footie, Political governance, Uncategorized on 12/06/2014 at 4:47 am

With the World cup starting today (tomorrow morning our time), one thing I know, is that, our elite anti-PAP cyber-warriors are not footie fans. That can be the only explanation why they have not be sounding the alarm on how the PAP PA is trying to attract younger, non-elite S’poreans by screening footie games.  The PAP, unlike these cyber-warriors realise that football is the new opiate of the masses

A few weeks ago it was reported that the People’s Association (PA) publicised which Community Centres will be hosting screenings of first-round World Cup games. CNA reported, According to a table released by the PA on its website on Monday (May 26), all 30 Centres participating in the live screenings will televise the first match involving host Brazil and Croatia on June 13.

More recently there was an announcement that the total number of CCs screening the matches ‘live’ would be increased to 40 and that more matches will be shown.

40 Community Clubs (CC) islandwide will be showing World Cup matches live and for free as well. Buona Vista CC for instance, will screen the matches in its multi-purpose hall, which has a seating capacity of 300. There will also be fringe activities such as football-related contests. In a statement earlier this month, the People’s Association said it hopes the sessions will inspire community bonding. It also hopes to ignite passion for football. (CNA on Tuesaday) Err what about helping PAP connect with younger S’poreans?

This move to screen World Cup matches followed a screening of second tier EPL matches http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/epl-vote-buying/. And we know who has the rights to EPL and WS here, don’t we?

All in the cause of next GE?

And there’s more. There will be a PAP PA 2.0: The Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC), previously announced last year at the National Day Rally, held a short brief for potential volunteers* …

The PA is increasingly showing its age. Example: In 2012 the defeated PAP MPs for Aljunied GRC Mrs Lim Hwee Hua and Mdm Cynthia Phua stepped down as grassroots advisers to Aljunied ”grassroots organisations” to be replaced by  71- year old Professor Brian Lee  and 62 year old Mrs Daisie Yip both much older than the two defeated PAP MPs. I said, Oh dear, are things so bad at the grassroots in Aljunied that the People’s Association can only find two extremely old chickens (too old for the slaughter-house) to replace the defeated PAP MPs who were no spring chickens themselves? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/pap-in-aljunied-grc-no-room-for-young-blood/

This is a far cry from the days when PA “organisers and activists”, as LKY called them, were trained in PAP ideology and in how govt ministries worked, and sent to community centres to organise recreational, cultural and social events. The idea was for them to become via the organising of these activities, the “natural” community leaders.

The YVC seems to be a return to the PA of the 1950s and 60s: Young Singaporean and PR volunteers (aged between 15-35) in the Youth Volunteer Corps attend a short residential camp and volunteer for semesters of service (from 3 – 6 months) for either local or overseas community projects. The programme, built from existing NYC programmes such as the Youth Expedition Project (YEP) will entail volunteers working in ‘diverse’ teams to create community service solutions to serve critical, broad community needs:  education, health, special needs, arts, sports and heritage, and environment. Volunteers will be matched to interests they wish to pursue, and they will be provided with resources from partnering NGOs and government, particularly the $100 million National Youth Fund which the YVC will tap into.

(http://wisemental-king.sg/post/80881286433/youth-volunteer-corps-a-powerhouse: wisemental king comes across as a wannabe YVC leader, juz read his posts)

Hitler had his V1 (today’s cruise missiles) and V2 (today’s ICBMs) secret weapons . Are televised footie and the Hitler LKY Youth Volunteer Corps the PAP’s secret weapons for winning back Aljunied and Punggol East in the next GE*.  In addition, of course, to one PritamS. BTW, I’m glad that the WP has cottoned on to the danger of PritamS. As recommended here: If WP is smart, they should lock PritamS in a padded cell, and when the next GE is called, announce that he will not be standing again. He is a liability in a party with men of substance and quiet achievement like Low, Show Mao and JJ.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/low-shows-the-usefulness-of-non-action/

One gd thing about PritamS is that he plays footie, but sadly with a PAP MP team.

——–

*Or at least in shoring up the popular vote so that it doesn’t fall further or result in a loss of another GRC?

 

 

 

 

 

PM is clueless about the WP & PAP

In Political governance on 02/06/2014 at 4:45 am

Sun Tzu said, If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.

Going by what he said last week, when and Low Thia Khiang engaged in a jaw-jaw in Parliament  on constructive politics, WP’s stand on major policy issues and the role of the opposition in parliament, PM doesn’t know the enemy and the PAP. So how can he fix anyone?

He said:

It’s an eloquent explanation for why the WP has been inarticulate, about many things. In a serious parliament, the Government presents its policies. The Opposition presents its alternatives. The WP may not have alternatives on every issue; it may not have a full range of all the complexities of designing an HDB scheme or MediShield scheme. You do have a responsibility to say which direction are we going. And that direction has to be set clearly – not to explain to the PAP, but to explain to Singaporeans what you stand for.

Err except that in a parliamentary democracy (I’m assuming S’pore is one, not a defacto one-party state), the opposition spends most of its time after losing a general election criticising the govt, and its policies. It only starts proposing alternatives maybe one yr before the next general election; and that only because it wants to present itself as a credible alternative to the govt.

Now the WP has made it clear that it isn’t ready for power and will at best be part of Team PAP if the PAP doesn’t win a parly majority. Nothing about teaming up with the other opposition parties.

So there really isn’t the need of presenting alternatives. And our PM should know it, and he should know that S’poreans know this too. The WP is uniquely S’porean: it doesn’t want to be the driver. It’s happy being a self-appointed co-driver.

And the following show that a Catholic High, NJC boy has problems understanding the principles of Tao that Low is using http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/low-shows-the-usefulness-of-non-action/ (’cause dad’s a legalist? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/lao-tse-and-hard-truths/):

I hope he takes an equally reasonable approach when it comes to election rallies because the WP approach has been to be extremely reasonable – indeed low profile – in Parliament but come election time to turn into tigers and heroes.

It’s an eloquent explanation for why the WP has been inarticulate, about many things. In a serious parliament, the Government presents its policies. The Opposition presents its alternatives. The WP may not have alternatives on every issue; it may not have a full range of all the complexities of designing an HDB scheme or MediShield scheme. You do have a responsibility to say which direction are we going. And that direction has to be set clearly – not to explain to the PAP, but to explain to Singaporeans what you stand for.

And

[A]fter all this complicated explanation, I don’t know whether Mr Low Thia Khiang still stands by what was said in Parliament in the White Paper debate last year… But after telling me you can massage this and some people can do (with) less and others will need more – that’s easy to say, who’s going to do the massaging? Of course, the Government. And that, is the mark of a sub-standard Opposition.”

If PM doesn’t understand that WP Low is a follower of Lao Tze, then the PAP is in trouble.

And it’s not that PM understands himself or the PA.

It’s a bit rich for PM to say:

I think the record will speak for itself, when we make a shift we acknowledge a shift. When the WP changes position they pretend they haven’t – that is the difference.

And

We have to call a spade a spade. If we have changed position and your previous position was wrong, say so. If you hold by your position, have your guts to reaffirm it and take the consequences. But to weasel away, play with words, avoid the issue and then claim to be responsible, that is what we fear can drive Singapore’s politics into the same place where many other countries have gone.

As Lao Tze WP Low said

Talking about the WP flip-flopping on foreign workers issue… In any case, I also noted that when the PAP has to make a policy U-turn, they call it policy shift. I don’t know whether that is a shift or it’s a flip-flop.

He could have highlighted other PAP semantics like “evolving” (public tpt sys policies are “evolving”) or “moving on” (“Let’s forget the cock-up. This is an order”)?”

But Low was talking rubbish when he said, This is the mark of a responsible Opposition not to jam up the Government; allowing the Government – after giving our view, debating it – allowing the Government to move forward, not to jam up the Government. It is a mark of a responsible Government and a mark of first world Parliament”.

WP can’t jam p anything. The PAP’s majority (more than two-thirds) means it can do what it likes. And there’s nothing the WP can do about it. So long as the PAP has a two-thirds majority in parliament, it can do what it likes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—-

*Lee Hsien Loong and Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang engaged in a verbal sparing in Parliament on 28 May on constructive politics, WP’s stand on the big issues as well as the role of opposition in parliament.

CPF: Answering TRE poster & supporters/ NMP on inconvenient CPF truths

In CPF, Economy, Political governance on 28/05/2014 at 4:09 am
Toast Bread:

Will LHL answer just one question please?
Did any Singaporean authorize or consent to CPF locking up our CPF retirement money at 55 ?

Rating: +34 (from 34 votes)

 (On TRE)
Person seems to have forgotten that ever since the PAP introduced the Minimum Sum, PAP keeps getting re-elected. Ever heard of implicit consent? Last election the PAP got 60% of the votes. Still some way to go.
Seriously, elected govts round the world run on their record and the promises they make. By re-electing a govt, the majority of voters accept the entire package.
 …..
Never tot much of this NMP who uses a lot of mascara, was a PAP member (expectations were that she would be a PaPpy MP. But she surprised with her frank remarks on inflation (domestic pressures) and CPF rates( lower than inflation will erode our CPF savings):

Nominated MP Tan Su Shan said that it was probable that Singaporeans had to factor in a higher rate of inflation when calculating their retirement adequacy.

This, given the fact that CPF members enjoy a risk-free interest rate of 2.5 per cent per annum on their Ordinary Account savings, but bearing in mind that inflation in Singapore has averaged 4.1 per cent over the last three years since the economic restructuring journey began.

“This is double the historic average inflation rate of about 2 per cent and will erode our CPF savings,” she said, adding that it would be “useful” for the government to provide a medium-term projection of the country’s inflation rate.

Ms Tan … noted that since the Monetary Authority of Singapore had chosen to maintain a strong and stable Singapore dollar, it was likely that most inflation costs could come from domestic pressures.

“Being able to project the growth rate of our cost of living expenses will help us make the right choices, outside of parking our surplus funds in cash deposits,” she said. (Yesterday’s BT)

Ms Tan is the head of private banking at DBS Bank and is considered to be a possible future CEO, by no less than the chairman. She is a S’porean birther, not a new citizen.

No NMP for 600,000 S’poreans?

In Humour, Political governance on 26/05/2014 at 5:11 am

(Or “Roy Ngerng for NMP”)

Based on the last presidential election 30% of the voters, 600,000 citizens, will never ever vote for anyone who does not denounce the PAP. Surely, they deserve an NMP of their very own? If the artistic and sports communities (size unknown but surely less than 6000,000 each) can have their very own NMPs, why not these 600,000? They too are a community. But another community of pariahs, like us, heterosexual singletons? But then us, heterosexual singletons, are loners? So not having a NMP doesn’t matter.

That these 600,000 S’poreans have no NMP they can call their own shows the absurdity of appointing NMPs to represent communities. I mean even the LGBTs want an NMP to represent their interests, and I suspect are likely to get one before us singletons and the rabid, anti-PAP voters. Meanwhile NTUC will have its PAP MPs and an NMP, though one a few yrs ago went AWOL or MIA.

If as expected William Wan becomes an NMP, then the FTs will have a vocal, powerful champion. But then there are 2.1m FTs (including PRs), 39% of the total population, and since S’pore is supposed to be “FT paradise”, they surely should get more NMPs?

So all things considered, even though this blog is no friend of Roy Ngerng (even before he got sued, I blogged that he was accusing accused the govt of stealing our CPF money, despite acknowledging him as as a tua kee blogger), the PAP should be gracious to vote him in as NMP to show that the 30% of votersw who vote for any donkey except a PAP ass have a right to representation**. The light blue clones of the MIW are the closest they can get to a real representative.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/roys-a-real-sporean/

——————-

*Once upon a time, there was an NMP, Siow Kum Hong, who although no anti-PAPpist, spoke out on things that resonated with this 30%, and other S’poreans. 

**I’m assuming PM wouldn’t make him a bankrupt. Better not say more than that. LOL

Roy’s a real S’porean

In Political governance on 22/05/2014 at 10:22 am

Update on 24 May at 9.15am: PM is not happy with Roy’s apology because Roy has not offered to pay costs and damages. If I were PM’s lawyer, I’d be offended by Roy’s lawyer’s comments on my professional integrity and competency on the issue of costs.  I’d complain to to Law Society. M Ravi forgot to take his pills?

Let’s see if Roy continues to be garang. He’s made his bed, he has to lie in it.

—————–

I’ve heard from several usually reliable sources that Roy Ngerng is holding out on the issue of paying damages. He is willing to apologise to PM but not willing to be saddled with a huge debt (based on the precedents set by the cases lost by Dr Chee and JBJ) the amount can run to millions of $).

Well so Roy is a true-blue S’porean. Words are cheap, but money is a serious matter.

Well at least, we wouldn’t have to bear him pontificating on sacrifice. His willingness to apologise shows his mettle. JBJ or Chee would not apologise.

Actually PM’s been a patient man. I blogged this weeks ago saying Roy must be an alien for blogging

On govt stealing interest from CPF http://sonofadud.com/2014/04/04/cpf-and-hdb-10-real-dirty-tricks/

And on CPF contributions being a tax and CPF being theft despite this study ranking S’pore’s CPF system as the  7th best out of 20 pension systems analysed http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/042914/top-pension-systems-world.asp?utm_source=newstouse&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=NTU-4/30/2014

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/pm-police-chief-kirsten-hanheart-truths-are-aliens/)

PM needn’t have waited until Roy decided to compare the CPF system to criminal misappropriation. Roy had been making that point for a long time. Maybe PM was kooning and juz woke up? Or was working so hard trying to find answers to govt policy failures that have upset S’poreans? Think the tpt revamp.

What do you think?

Wah lan, FTs getting their very own NMP?

In Political governance on 21/05/2014 at 4:53 am

This tot crossed my mind when I read that the general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), Dr William Wan, is applying for the post of Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP). He told the media that his nomination papers were submitted yesterday (14 May).

SKM’s mission is to inspire graciousness through spontaneous acts of kindness, thus making life more pleasant for everyone [Link]. The patron of SKM is PM Lee Hsien Loong and its adviser is Minister Lawrence Wong.

As to why he could be a Trojan Horse (albeit an unwitting and unintended one) for FTs, here is the evidence that made me conclude (reasonably I hope) that he believes,  “In S’pore, FTs are more equal than S’poreans”.

– Dr Wan came out to defend Anton Casey (‘SKM condemns ‘online lynching’ of Anton Casey‘).

The Straits Times then carried an article by Dr Wan in which he condemned the online behaviour of Singaporeans. He felt that Singaporeans had shown a lack of empathy towards Anton Casey.

Casey had described Singapore MRT commuters as “poor people”. He said, “Normal service (after getting his Porsche back from the workshop) can resume, once I have washed the stench of public transport off me FFS!” (FFS is an acronym for “for f**k’s sake”.)

In his article, Dr Wan lamented that “something has gone wrong with us Singaporeans”. He said incidents like Anton Casey “reiterate the need for us to reassess our social media habits”. Defending Casey, Dr Wan surmised that he was perhaps “simply being thoughtless and careless” when he posted the offensive remarks … (TRE)

– He ignored suggestions to show that he cared for S’poreans down on their luck by doing for them a totful, gracious act that he did for FTs.

[T]o show empathy for foreign workers, SKM and Coca-Cola Singapore delivered free cans of Coke to foreign construction workers at a high-rise work site via drones [Link].

Dr Wan said, “What we hope to do is to encourage Singaporeans to make showing appreciation to foreign workers part of our daily lives.” (TRE).

I applaud him (and Coke) for providing the foreign manual workers with cold drinks. It was a totful, gracious gesture.

But I find it strange that he then ignored suggestions that he should arrange for some drinks for S’poreans too. I’ll let TRE tell the story:

TRE has suggested that perhaps he should show empathy for his displaced fellow Singaporeans too (‘How about showing empathy for displaced SG workers?‘).

One suggestion would be to get his volunteers to hand out cans of Coke to Singaporeans seeking employment help at the Workforce Development Agency. There is no need to use any high-tech flying drones in this case – his volunteers just need to stand at the door and give out canned drinks to our fellow Singaporeans who need help and comfort.

He does totful, gracious gestures only for FTs? Doesn’t charity begin at home?

When it was reported that PM got flak for saying on the occasion of an Indian festival: “Singapore belongs to all of us, Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here.”*, I tot that the complainants were going too far. I tot they read too much in the word “belonging” and were being extremely petty and mean.

But, if as it is likely, William Wan, gets to be an NMP, I now can understand and even sympathise with those S’poreans unhappy with the PM’s comments, even if I disagree with their views and pettiness.

BTW, wonder why PM left out those on S Passes and work permits, many of whom are Pinoys, and Indians when he said, “Singapore belongs to all of us, Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here.”? Very strange given that he was talking on the occasion of an Indian festival and given the data

[T]here has been a significant increase for S Pass holders between Dec 2011 to Dec 2013.

47,000 to be exact.

This is 15,900 or 51% more, as compared to the period of Dec 2009 to Dec 2011.

Work permit holders increase substantially too, by 77,000 during the period of Dec 2011 and Dec 2013. It’s a 47% or 24,700 increase from previous 2 years.

Our total foreign workforce increased by 123,700 between Dec 2011 to Dec 2013 – that’s more than 60,000 each year.

(http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/05/foreign-workforce-numbers-moderating-or-increasing/)

An honest mistake by PM? Or should we read something in his omission of S Pass and Work Permit holders? What do you think?

——-

*At a grassroots event in Ang Mo Kio to celebrate the Indian New Year, Mr Lee was reported to have said that “the event was an embodiment of the theme as well as on a larger scale where everyone participates as one big Singapore family” and that Singapore was a place “where we all celebrate one another’s festivals and happy events together.”

He added that “Singapore belongs to all of us”, which he said included “Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here.”

Tightening FT immigration helps S’poreans PMEs

In Political governance, Public Administration on 20/05/2014 at 4:41 am

Al least for finance and accounting professionals.

Salaries for finance and accounting professionals in Singapore are expected to rise, with the tight labour market likely to force companies to increase wages to attract and retain employees, said recruitment firm Robert Half on Thursday in a press release.

55 per cent of companies in Singapore plan to increase wages for professionals in their finance and accounting department. Only 1 per cent of firms plan to cut wages, while the remaining 43 per cent plan to maintain salaries.

This is in contrast to the other five markets surveyed. (CNA last week). These markets are China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil.

So waz this rubbish that welcoming FTs with open arms helps S’poreans get better wages? The extract implicitly shows that a liberal Ft policy helps repress wages of locals PMEs; and even ST reported that the liberal FT immigration policy deprive young of jobs:http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/proof-that-fts-displace-sporeans/.

An example of tightening polices: a Pinoy couple and their son are PRs, but their young two-month old child only has a long-term pass. The couple are KPKB about discrimination and fear. I think they are barking up the wrong tree. But then they are Pinoys , playing the “victim” game, like PIDCS . ST reported:

PIDCS is currently being targeted, presumably by Singaporeans who oppose the staging of the event (‘Organisers of Philippine event targeted’, 17 Apr).

PIDCS is said to have received anonymous phone calls demanding the cancellation of the event. The organisers have reportedly felt harassed.

“The callers say we have no right to hold the event in Orchard Road,” a PIDCS spokesman said. “We do not dare to pick up phone calls now if we don’t recognise the number.”

As I told a Pinoy community adviser, “S’poreans, unlike Filipinos, don’t go round shooting people in malls. Nor do they go round burning the Filipino flag. So pls tell the organisers not to BS their fear. This is S’pore not Manila or Mindanao.”

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/grandfathers-place-is-it-pidcs-finest-filipino-talents-at-work/)

But let me end constructively. Three cheers for OCBC and may others follow it. I’ll let BT tell the story

For the first time, a local bank will be giving its employees payouts from the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS), instead of using the funds for training and development initiatives.

OCBC Bank will be disbursing $3 million of its first WCS payout to 1,500 eligible Singaporean employees of the bank and its securities subsidiary …

Introduced in Budget 2013 as part of the three-year Transition Support Package, the $3.6 billion WCS helps firms cope with rising wages in a tight labour market. It also encourages businesses to channel resources towards enhancing productivity and subsequently share productivity gains with employees. The WCS payouts co-fund 40 per cent of pay rises given to Singaporeans who earn a gross monthly income of $4,000 and below.

The 1,500 recipients of OCBC’s WCS payout make up about 25 per cent of OCBC … total staff strength in Singapore. Most of these recipients are junior executives and unionised employees, serving as assistant managers, bank officers and clerical staff in the bank’s consumer financial services as well as operations and technology divisions. They will receive the payouts in June and July.

Recipients can opt to have their payout credited to their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts or to invest in shares through the OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan, which is open to all employees of the bank. Employees can choose only one of the two payout options.

 

No security breach, but “secured” premises vandalised?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 16/05/2014 at 4:45 am

(Or “PR spinning goes mad” or “‘Ponding’ revisited”)

There was “no breach of security measures” by the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council in relation to the vandalism case in Toa Payoh … said Dr Teo Ho Pin* (CNA).  Graffiti was found along the rooftop of Block 85A at Toa Payoh Lorong 4. on 8 May and five 17-year-olds have been charged with vandalism.

Earlier, on 5 May, a train at the Bishan depot was spray-painted with graffiti. This is the third time vandals have struck a key transport facility in four years, and the second time a train in Bishan depot has been vandalised . In the latest case, reports said the depot’s perimeter fence was intact, and SMRT has yet to confirm any security breach, CNA reported.

So how did the vandals get in undetected to deface the property and then get out again undetected? Goh Meng Sen** allowed the vandals to use his UFO’s  teleporting machine to get in and in and out of the secured premises, is it?

Come on SMRT and Dr Teo, if vandals can get in and out of secured premises, then there were breaches of security. Let’s not indulge in word games to try look gd. These semantics only make you look stupid, and remind S’poreans that only the PM has cockles with a certain dish.

Dr VivianB put an end to claims by his officials that Orchard Rd wasn’t flooded, it was juz “ponded”. He sneered at their claims of “ponding”. Much credit we netizens gave him, showing how much he is disliked in cyberspace.

Mr Teo Chee Hean should show SMRT and Dr Teo why he was brought in as Home Minister. It had become a sex holiday camp during Wong Kan Seng’s long tenure there and Mr Teo made it fit for purpose again, looney M’sians braching borders excepted.

He should publicly  take SMRT and Dr Teo to task for trying to PR their way out of security failures that could have jeopardise lives, and further damage the PAP govt. If terrorists had breached these premises, and people had died, S’poreans would know that the PAP govt is a paper tiger when it comes to protecting S’poreans against terrorists.

Worse, imagine if the terrorists were the people Gilbert Goh or Goh Meng Seng love to trash, and MoM Tan, PM and his ministers, Kirsten Han and Maruah love to embrace: FTs?

All hell would break lose, and rightly so given that the PAP govt prides itself on keeping S’pore safe and on its love of FTs. S’poreans would be rational in thinking that when security and FT policies contradict one another, the security of S’pore and S’poreans suffer.

So pls Me Teo, pls wake up and go wake up Dr Teo’s and General Kuek’s. ideas. It’s OK to sleep in Parly (white elephant only) but not on the day-job of keeping S’pore safe.

—–

*CNA tells us how the vandals got in:.

Channel NewsAsia has been trying to figure out how the vandals could have reached the rooftop without using the trap door.

Looking at the place, one can see a small opening which leads to the roof. There are also stains on the walls, which could mean that the vandals could have placed a ladder against the walls to get to the opening.

If allowing a small opening to remain is not a security breach, what is, Dr Teo?

Dr Teo stressed that the PAP town councils take a serious view of the security and safety of roofs and water tanks at HDB blocks.

He said that over the last three years, the town councils have set up a security protocol on rooftop access.

Dr Teo said: “The town councils have set up three lines of defence to make sure that (only) authorised personnel can go up to the rooftop of our HDB flats.

“So we have, first of all, secured locks to make sure that all the trap doors and all the doors are properly locked using a very robust lock system.

“We also make sure that our water tanks are all with brackets — they are all bolted down to make sure that nobody can vandalise (them).

“At the same time, we have an authorised access system where only authorised persons can go up the roof.”

The town councils believe the present security system is adequate to prevent any unauthorised access to the roofs. However, they will need to evaluate if the breach is caused by other factors.

How can measures be adequate, yet there is a breach, causing a need to evaluate if the breach is caused by other factors.

**Maybe taz why GMS is AWOL or MIA yet again. He was leading the charge against the Pinoys’ party but has gone quiet. Maybe modifying his teleporter (with the help of Tan kin Lian) to zap Pinoys who party at his sacred spot and transfere to Filipino Lucky Plaza, where the Pinoys have de-facto sovereignty?

Have a gd weekend. Tune in next week. Plenty on garang Pinoys planning on taking on GG and GMS.

 

 

Who is right? PM? Heart Truths? Consumer survey?

In Economy, Humour, India, Indonesia, Political governance on 05/05/2014 at 4:51 am

Recently PM said the problems S’pore were facing were the results of success*. Here I asked: Success what success? Real wages grew by only 0.4% while GDP grew by 5.9% . while the prices of public housing apartments went up in a recession.

Meanwhile, many new media warriors (posters on TRE; Heart Truths, near relation to Hard Truths; Han Hui Hui, an FT turned new citizen, who is proof that the Bumis in M’sia are right not to trust the local Cina: Uncle Chua etc) are always full of how hard life is for the average S’porean.

This so-called suffering doesn’t chime with what I observe in shopping malls, restaurants, or even hawkers’ centres or coffee shops, or what my friends, relations or biz connections tell me: S’poreans are  feeling more confident of confident of their prospects, and hence are spending more. Note, I’m not saying that there are no S’poreans suffering, but I take issue that the majority of S’poreans are suffering.

Well a recent Nielsen survey** of 501 S’poreans seems to confirm my view: that things are OK and improving, but not as great as PM is spinning. After all he got a GE to win.

Consumer confidence in Singapore is at its highest level in 10 consecutive quarters, with people remaining upbeat about personal finances and being more willing to spend.

According to the latest consumer confidence index released by Nielsen, Singapore recorded an index score of 99 in the first quarter, up two notches from 97 in the previous quarter … but still shy of the 100 baseline, has yet to reach optimism. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. [If things are as great as what PM, his ministers and their trumpeters*** in the constructive, nation-building media saying, shouldn't the score be 150 and rising?]

The head of Nielsen Financial Services in Singapore and Malaysia was quoted as saying “The positive outlook on the economy and personal financial circumstances is starting to trickle down to consumers’ spending intentions: we notice an increase in the number of Singaporeans who are willing to spend money on discretionary expenses . . . if these intentions materialise, they could act as a further stimulus to the economy.”

So am I, Nielsen and those S’poreans spending more living in the same S’pore as our PM, or the people complaining via new media? Who is more reflectively of the reality of life in S’pore? PM and Heart Truths and friends are aliens that landed here on UFO Goh Meng Seng, the scourge of Pinoy Pride here?

Jokes about aliens and GMS aside, maybe

– PM and his ministers are out of touch, what with their huge salaries? Yesterday, I wrote “Of course Mah Bow Tan http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/05/01/netizens-agog-at-mah-bow-tans-fortune/and other millionaire ministers (present and retired) are not among these ‘lesser mortals”” in a piece of  EFTs that mimic the strategies of hedge funds.

– It’s these new media warriors who are the suffering underclass and they think that they are representative S’poreans? Or they are fruscos who think that they should have been talent-spotted by the PAP? They are always claiming that the suffering is always the fault of the PAP govt, never an issue of personal responsibility or sheer bad luck, so maybe they have personal grievances against the PAP? BTW, I exclude TRE’s Richard Wan as he knows he has a comfortable living, and knows it.

My serious point is that whatever new media or PAP media or anyone says about any topic, those of us who are rational have to ask ourselves,”Chime with what I observe?”. Don’t get carry away with the views of others. They could have agendas, delusions to propagate.

BTW, more details from BT (1 May) on the Nielsen survey:

– Some 54 per cent of respondents from Singapore consider their finances to be “good” or “excellent”, unchanged from the previous quarter.

– There is an uptick in Singaporeans who intend to invest in stocks and mutual funds, up six percentage points at 32 per cent … continue to be prudent with their money. Some 70 per cent would channel their spare money into savings, up six percentage points compared to the previous quarter and well above the global average of 47 per cent … more Singaporeans intend to increase their discretionary expenditure on a vacation and new clothes. Some 54 per cent intend to spend their spare cash on a holiday, while 37 per cent would spend it on new clothes, a quarterly increase of five and 11 points, respectively.

Interestingly, two of the three countries with the highest consumer confidence levels are in Asean Indonesia (124),  and the Philippines (116). BTW, India (121) is in between.

*Singapore’s economy has fared better than expected over the last decade, but the country’s success also brought about its own set of challenges.  PM Lee made this point in a wide-ranging discussion with regional newspaper editors  recently.

He said the country had paid the price of this fast growth, as infrastructure wasn’t able to keep up with the rapid development.

Mr Lee was asked about Singapore’s success during his time as Prime Minister and if anything exceeded his expectations.

He said yes, the country had done economically better than expected and grown faster — attributing it to favourable conditions.

As investments poured in, the government had put in resources and brought in foreign labour needed to grow. As a result, developments at the Marina Bay area sprung up in within a decade, instead of the expected 20 to 30 years.

He said that in terms of infrastructure, the country had not been able to catch up and had paid a price, and added that the government had been working hard over the past three to four years trying to come back up to speed.

He said that if the government had been able to foresee the outcome, it would have acted sooner.

But that, he said, was with the benefit of “20-20 hindsight”.

“We succeeded more than we expected, and so in terms of the infrastructure, we were not able to catch up — our public transport, building houses,” said Mr Lee. “And we paid a price.”

“We have spent the last three, four years working hard to try and come up back to speed. I wish we had been able to foresee this outcome, and then we would have acted sooner.

“But that’s 20-20 hindsight.”

Mr Lee also emphasised that it’s important for Singaporeans to feel they have a sense of belonging to the country — and that is something that is still a work in progress.

But Mr Lee acknowledged that this growth had come with a cost.

CNA extract

**The survey, conducted from mid February  to  early March this year, polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries,

***These public grievances [on healthcare costs immigration, ministerial salaries] and expert doubts did appear in the media; they were not completely blacked out. But, they were always toned down and set in a context that ensured that the government’s voice remained dominant. When there was undeniable distance between public opinion and the government’s position, leaders required the press to work towards a consensus by shifting the ground rather than nudging the government.

By dampening doubts and dissent, by allowing government to operate in an echo chamber, the media gave yesterday’s policy makers an easier ride. But, today’s policy makers are paying the price. There is now more for them to undo as they move their frame of reference back to the centre-left. Furthermore, a lack of responsiveness resulted in lower levels of trust, which now make it harder for the government to persuade the public when it needs to.

The flawed media policy is behind the current government’s biggest failure – its inability to sell its Population White Paper, which by its own reckoning was a vitally important strategic blueprint for the future. Because it had been unwilling to subject its immigration policies to even the gentle probing of friendly national media in the past, it lost touch with public sentiment and lost precious political capital. Today, it is unable to carry the ground on immigration issues.

Even when it speaks sense – like when the Prime Minister chided Singaporeans for their irrational, tribal response to the upcoming Philippine Independence Day celebration – it meets a wall of cynicism and hostility.

http://www.mediaasia.info/how-singapores-media-restrictions-have-hurt-even-the-pap/

Author is hubby of  ST’s editor.

More equal than other S’poreans?

In Political governance, Public Administration, Uncategorized on 30/04/2014 at 6:03 am

I’m thinking of Ronald McDonald (a FT turned true blue S’porean who if he had a son with dual citizenship would surely insist that his son dows NS, unlike Yaacob who tells us only that he hopes his son will do NS) and again my beef (rendang flavoured) is with the way the S’poreans who don’t dream the “right” dreams” or think the “right” tots are being ghettoised and discriminated against by the PAP govt.

Let me explain.

I avoided going anyway near a McDonald’s store on Monday because it was the start of the latest “Hello Kitty” promotion. I had memories of what happened in 2000:

Fist fights broke out while frustrated patrons threatened store managers, damaged restaurant property and compelled the fast-food outlets to hire private security firms to police crowds. At one outlet, at least seven people were injured after a glass door they were leaning on shattered.

Singapore, which keeps tight curbs on public speech and famously bans most sales of chewing gum to keep its streets clean, was caught by surprise. While public demand was heated for similar promotions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, few expected law-abiding Singaporeans to turn so catty—or for the issue to claw its way to the top ranks of power.

“We should not get too carried away,” said then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who later became prime minister. “Even if you want the Kitty, there is no need to fight fiercely to try and get one,” he told local media at a public event.

In Parliament, a lawmaker asked the environment minister if he planned to stop McDonald’s from selling Hello Kitty dolls. “It’s not under my purview,” the minister replied.

And only last yr

… things got heated again when McDonald’s rolled out a so-called “Fairy Tales” Hello Kitty set, featuring six versions designed after popular folklore. The last one—a black kitten sporting a skeletal motif—sparked mayhem as security personnel were called in to deal with heated squabbles caused by widespread line-jumping. McDonald’s wrote a letter to a local newspaper apologizing for the chaos and promised to do better next time.

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303834304579523793654859518?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303834304579523793654859518.html)

Finally, an online sale, I tot, was a warning of the public order problems that would ensure on Monday.

To improve buyers’ experience and curb black-market sales, the company also is offering online sales for a collector’s set featuring all six toys, Ms. Low said.

But the online sales drive was overwhelmed by the weight of orders, forcing the fast-food chain to temporarily suspend sales after less than two hours.

Hundreds of disgruntled Kitty-lovers hurled abuse on McDonald’s Facebook page, accusing the fast-food chain of sloppy customer service.

So you’d have tot that the police would conclude, “Three strikes and you’re out, Ronald.”; the police having the power to prevent such a commercial event from being held if they had concerns about “public disorder and mischief”, that “may disrupt community life”.

But, Pledging to prevent a repeat of ugly scenes that plagued past promotions, McDonald’s says it has engaged private-security firms to provide crowd control and prepared line-management plans for its staff. It is also boosting its toy supplies by roughly 50% .compared with last year.

In the event, the police were right in their judgment in allowing the promotion to go ahead, nothing untoward happened on Monday and Tuesday.

But my point is that given the track record of problems in 2000 and 2013, and the very recent online bad-tempered, why did our police not insist that McDonald cancel the event?

Yet some S’poreans are routinely not allowed to hold events in public spaces (other than in Hong Lim) because of concerns of public order. Even the light-blue clones of the MIW were not allowed to hold an event in a park in 2007 because of concerns of public order.

When WP chairman and NCMP Sylvia Lim raised a question over the issue in Parliament, she (and we) was told that such activities “have the potential for public disorder and mischief, and may disrupt community life.”*

Yet the police, it seems, had no such concerns with the MacDonald’s promotion, despite MacDonald’s track record of being the cause of public “disorder and mischief”, that disrupted “community life” in 20000 and 2013.

My point is that shouldn’t these S’poreans (who are not PA or NTUC activists) be given the opportunity as the Filipinos and McDonald of proving the police wrong. After all many of these S’poreans who dream different dreams or think different tots have served NS, defending the country.

Shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to show that they can behave in the right way in public like the Filipinos? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/fts-more-equal-than-the-wrong-sporeans-why-liddat-pm/

And why is Ronald McDonald given the benefit of the doubt despite his track record of causing problems (albeit unintentionally and indirectly) in 2000 and 2013?

And yet the “wrong” S’poreans are presumed to be dangerous to public order? Doesn’t their honourable discharge from full-time NS mean that they deserve to be treated like Filipinos and Ronald, and be given the presumption of good behaviour?

One could reasonably argue (I’m not) that such an attitude to NS men sucks, and is most insulting from a govt that says it values those who do NS. Just recently, the media reported that Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said a package of “meaningful” benefits is being considered for operationally ready NSmen. “We want to centre the recognition benefits by giving them a greater stake in Singapore, whether it is housing, health or education,”…

The various contradictions and inconsistencies  that have mutated from the Hard Truths on which the PAP has governed S’pore since 1959 are coming to haunt the PAP; contractions and inconsistencies which have especially multiplied since the “FTs are betterest” policies were introduced to repress the wages of local PMETs. Appropriately, the ghosts are appearing juz as the PAP govt is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our enforced independence, as a prelude to its next GE campaign.

——–

*”Police requirement is that such party activities be held indoors or within stadiums, so that any law and order problems will be contained. This policy applies to all political parties,” Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee.

 

FTs more equal than the “wrong” S’poreans? Why liddat PM?

In Political governance on 28/04/2014 at 4:47 am

Quite a number of S’preans (think TOC, TRE posters, and Goh Meng Seng) were incensed at the Filipinos’ attempt to “capture” or “trespass” (GMS’ choice of word) a public space for one day.

They also mentioned, in passing, at the the double standards in, as they tot, [A]llowing all FTs to hold events in public spaces while preventing some S’poreans  (Think the PAP’s light blue clones and various civil groups) from doing the same on the grounds of “law and order” issues, even if the FTs in question are from a country where people believe in the power of the people to overthrow elected govts while the S’poreans are juz sheep who dream different from the “right” dreams.

Turns out no permit has been sought, so far, this yr. My take.

Took the wind out of their sails.

But the validity and reasonableness of this argument remains (I wish these unhappy S’poreans had it made it the core argument not talk about sovereignty etc and then mention it in passing, and had kept on talking about the point. They didn’t, so I’m elaborating on it).

If Filipinos think they can be allowed to hold an event in such a public space (even if it is across the road from Filipino Lucky Plaza) why can’t the “wrong” S’poreans hold events in public spaces (other than Hong Lim Green) too?

FTs more equal than the “wrong” S’poreans is it, PM, PAP? While Filipinos can party in public year after year, those S’poreans not thinking the “right” tots (despite many of them having done NS) are being ghettoised in Hong Lim? Juz because they don’t think the “right” tots, like PA or NTUC running dogs activists? Apologies to the dogs. My dogs complain that I’m defaming them by comparing them to PA and NTUC activists.

True, no incidents arose.in the past when the Filipinos were granted permission to hold events in public spaces.

But given the track record of “people power” in the Philippines in overthrowing elected presidents, why were the Filipinos given permission in the first place, while the “wrong” S’poreans are denied the opportunity to show that they too can be as peacefully and law abiding as Filipinos? Many of these S’poreans did NS, people like GMS, Gilbert Goh, KennethJ, M Ravi, Garbra Gomez. They were trusted with live rounds and M16s. So shouldn’t they be given the benefit of the presumption that they, like the Filipinos, can be trusted not to cause public order problems? OK, OK, I concede that based on some commentates that was put up on his FB wall (now taken down), there is every right to be concerned that GG is advocating violence. [Update at 5.46am GG makes police report allegung posting was fake http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.sg/2014/04/singapore-activist-gilbert-goh-made.html%5D

A TRE poster makes another point on this “FTs more equal” attitude

Just1more:

Problem with Singapore is that we are harsh on our own people and soft to the point of bending over for foreigners. If an organisation has planned for such event and advertised in social media, the Police would have called up the organisers and “advise” them to apply for permit first. Police may threaten to charge the organisers. See what happened in this case. All quiet. So, what is the super efficient government’s position? Don’t just take the million salary and keep quiet when we want answers.

This allegation is one that I’ve heard over the yrs: that the police are pro-active in monitoring some S’poreans’ tots to hold public events. Doesn’t take an application to get asked to discuss their plans with the police. I’ve heard allegations that even talking among “friends” about organising an event in a public space could lead to call to have a cup of coffee.

Now I applaud such pro-active behaviour: if applied to everyone. But I’m left wondering why the police doesn’t seem (at least going by their statement) to have been more pro-active with the Filipinos despite the Filipinos making it clear of their intention to party on 8 June in a public space despite not yet applying for a permit (I’m sure they have every intention of applying for the licence and will cancel the event if they don’t get approval)? Shouldn’t the polic3e be calling the Filipino ornaisers? FTs more equal than the “wrong” S’poreans?

Wonder if FTs realise that there are S’poreans (numbers unknown, and who include rational, conservative people like me, thru the woolly, good-hearted, soft middle like TOC and P Ravi, thru to GMS,  to Gilbert Goh, nutter,  and friends) who think that the govt treats them better than it does S’poreans because FTs help repress the wages of locals esp PMETs, thereby making S’pore a more attractive place for MNCs and landlords?

But maybe they do realise this but think that with people like Kirsten Han, and BG MoM on their side, labeling S’poreans, “xenophobes” and “bigots” for daring to question the govt’s FT policies,  they can safely give S’poreans the bird. Sadly, they are unlikely to be wrong.

Somewhat related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/how-many-of-them-were-males-did-ns/

 

Great responses to PM’s, minister’s BS

In Footie, Political governance on 17/04/2014 at 5:11 am
I’m sure you read about the lunch PM had with the FT. PM was going thru dad’s Hard Truths as interpreted by a faithful, dutiful son.
Did you notice this?

I fight off an urge to reach across and grab a couple of his raspberries. Under most circumstances, this would be a faux pas but it would be a particularly gross move with a Singaporean …
A regular TRE poster pointed out, Gideon Rachman wrote that he “fight off an urge to reach over and grab a couple of his (LHL’s) raspberries”. Don’t know for sure if he intended it but “raspberry” is British slang for making a fa-rting sound by blowing thru pursed lips. In effect he may be underhandedly saying LHL is talking bull. The joke is on LHL on this one.
Gideon Rachman (Ex-Econonist) is one of FT’s finest, in a team full of brilliant, irrelevant people. The PM’s team must have been mad to let him anywhere near our PM who can barely manage to handle our local running dogs reporters and editors.
I had wanted to bitch blog about minister Wong’s comments about SingTel doing NS so that we could watch World cup footie. Fortunately some subversive at Today published this
Consumers pay the price for aggressive SingNet bidding
From Gary Chua Sheng Yang
Published: April 16, 4:12 AM
It was said in Parliament that the high prices for the 2014 World Cup broadcast here was due to Singapore being a price-taker from FIFA. (“S’pore can’t set lower World Cup prices: Minister”; April 15)

What was not considered, though, was SingNet’s behaviour in acquiring the rights for such content. In trying to acquire subscribers, SingNet has, in the past, bid aggressively for the English Premier League rights, winning at a high cost.

Competition in the cable television market, in its current form, has thus disadvantaged consumers in the past few years in terms of the prices for offerings such as the EPL and the World Cup. The argument that FIFA and the Premier League are price-setters seems flawed. Would they not have accepted lower offers if those had been the only offers on the table?

(http://www.todayonline.com/voices/consumers-pay-price-aggressive-singnet-bidding)

Uodate minutes after publishing: Juz read, The inescapable conclusion: democracy would work much better without elections http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/04/economist-explains-8

Why SMC should act against PAP MP

In Humour, Malaysia, Political governance on 16/04/2014 at 4:18 am

One day after foot-in-mouth* and eye specialist Dr Lim Wee Kiak retracted his criticisms of M’sia’s handling of the MH 370, Reuters reported  Malaysia’s government has begun investigating civil aviation and military authorities to determine why opportunities to identify and track … MH370 were missed in the chaotic hours after it vanished, two officials said*.

(http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/11/malaysia-airplane-investigation-idINDEEA3A06M20140411)

If only he waited another day, he would have come up roses, in his original criticism. And the govt would have edlook stupid in implicitly castigating him.

Seriously, if the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) can censure plastic surgeon Dr Woolly Woffles Wu for getting his employee to take the blame for his speeding offences in 2005 and 2006 when the courts take a lenient view of this offence (unlike the UK where it is considered a perversion of justice, jailable up to eight months http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-23282995), it should censure Dr Lim for stupidity.

SMC is suspending Dr Wu from practice for four months, saying that in arriving at an appropriate sanction, its role was to consider what penalties would be sufficient and of specific deterrence such that no registered medical practitioner would want to take the risk to commit such an offence that would lower the standing of the medical profession.

Well the same should apply for doctors who consistently talk rubbish in public.

SMC also said that Woffles had “tarnished the good name of the profession”, “instead of setting a good example for younger practitioners to emulate”.

Well does SMC want young doctors to emulate Dr Lim? They would if they don’t take him to task for making stupid remarks.

Dr Wu’s seniority and standing in the medical profession was also found to be an aggravating factor, said the SMC.

Well Dr Lim is a senior doctor too. He too makes serious money.

As the PAP is short-listing its candidates for the next GE, it might to consider eye doctors a miss, and retiring those it already has. Think VivianB and Dr Lim, and one can draw reasonable conclusions about the kind of people who become eye doctors and PAP MPs.

—-

*“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals. Hence, a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity,” Dr Lim told LianHe ZaoBao in Chinese.

**The story reported portrays the dysfunctional M’sian system:

A sixth source, a senior official in the civil aviation sector, said the plane’s disappearance had exposed bureaucratic dysfunction in Malaysia, which has rarely been subject to such international demands for transparency. “There was never the need for these silos to speak to one another. It’s not because of ill intent, it’s just the way the system was set up,” the official said.

The accounts given to Reuters reveal growing tensions between civilian officials, the military and Malaysia Airlines over whether more could have been done in those initial hours.

One of the Reuters sources said military officials in particular were concerned they could lose their jobs.

Tensions have also emerged between the government and state-controlled Malaysia Airlines.

 

NTUC: What Devan Nair got wrong

In Political governance on 11/04/2014 at 5:49 am

The NTUC has a clown cabinet minister and its own MPs within the PAP.The last time it approved of a strike was decades ago (2 Jan 1986). The PAP govt frowns on strikes, and NTUC has to be constructive, and nation-building, like the local media. The PAP govt knows best leh.

Once upon a time the PAP was strike friendly. In 1960 125,000 man-hours were lost in strikes compared with only 26.000 in 1959. The person who reported this statistic, the outgoing head of the S’pore Chamber of Commerce called for an inquiry into where the trade union movement was leading S’pore.

Woodhull, a union man (Singapore Trades Union Congress) and a PAP cadre and activist (later arrested in Coldstore) said in the 6 months before the PAP took power in 1959, the workers were “repressed”. So the jump in strikes was to be expected when they were liberated. (Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962))

Well the PAP soon grew less-strike friendly as the economy was affected by strikes and an economic slowdown.

LKY and the other PAP leaders (remember he was only first among equals) decided to form a new trade union movement. National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was created in 1961 when the Singapore Trades Union Congress (STUC), which had backed the People’s Action Party (PAP), split into the NTUC and the Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU). In 1963, the government detained SATU’s leaders during Operation Coldstore and deregistered it.

Only NTUC was left standing: competition eliminated. It never had to persuade the workers that its plans were better.

Devan Nair as a founder of the NTUC and as its first Sec-Gen had a different idea of the role of unions from the one of union leaders in the S’pore of the 1950s: one where the govt, unions and businessmen collaborated for the public good, and where general economic prosperity benefited the employers and their workers.

He (and other PAP leaders) publicly said that they had in mind the German model of industrial relations: “The most notable of such experiments have been by the Staedtler, Carl Zeiss, Robert Bosch, Gert Spindler and Rexroth undertakings in West Germany, and the John Lewis and Scott-Bader enterprises in England.” The last two were British worker co-operatives. John Lewis is still a model for the co-operative way of doing things.

They hated the traditional British model despite (perhaps because) many of the leaders having studied there, and despite the English-educated leaders having influenced by British socialist thinkers, the Fabian Society and the British Labour party. Devan Nair (not one of the UK educated leaders) quoting a British writer, Mr. Folkert Wilken, on the subject:

“It is an inveterate evil of the traditional structure of trade unions, that in order to exist they must struggle to recruit members, and to make membership appear in the most attractive light. They are therefore under constant compulsion to prove the necessity of their existence. They have to institute periodic and militant proceedings for increased wages and shorter hours. By doing this, they are appealing to the egotistic interests of the workers. Thus, they never appeal to the social ideals dormant in the workers. They cannot, for they do not consider it their duty to further such ideals, and have no clear picture of the practical realisation of these ideals. They therefore wish to persevere in their war for higher wages and less work. To these aims they owed their birth, a hundred years ago. But then, those aims were justified by the conditions of the time, as they are always justified when there is capitalistic exploitation of labour.”

The virus of the British industrial disease is also latent in Singapore** and could develop a malignant potency in future years, if our social thinkers and planners do not give thought to the development of corrective and remedial measures.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/wages-alone/)

Funnily for an ex-communist, he never ever mentioned (at least publicly: I’m happy to stand corrected on this point) that the NTUC was modeled on the Soviet Union’s and Communist China’s trade unions’ movements (Just like one LKY kept insisting that the PAP was modeled on the Roman Catholic Church when in fact it was modeled on the Soviet communist party and the Chinese communist party that imitated its structure. The ideas and principles of both organisations followed those of Lenin). The unions were subordinate to the leaders of the communist party who were also the leaders of the govt, the countries being one party states.  They were not equal partners to the govt or the employers (state-owned). This didn’t matter because the communist party represented the interests of the workers, the proletariat.

Devan Nair wanted to improve the working conditions and life of the workers, but he was willingly to use a model that had shown itself capable of exploiting the workers; a system that depended on the whims and fancies of the political leader, there being no institutional checks to their power. No need to have checks and balances because the party and hence its leaders represented the workers.

I’m sure that such a smart man (in EQ and IQ) would have realised the danger especially as he was a well read man (his speeches seem to indicate this, or did he have a good speech writer?). But as he tot the world of LKY****, he created (with others) the NTUC based on the Leninist model.

As I pointed out earlier, by 1973, he may have recognised the problems S’pore was going to face if it continued on the PAP govt’s chosen trajectory, but he was impotent to change the system. He had helped create a union movement that was subordinate to the ruling govt in a defacto one-party state. .The NTUC would improve the life of the the workers only if the govt wanted to take care of the workers. If it didn’t, the NTUC would not be in a position to help the workers. It would only spin the govt’s propaganda, like Squealer in Animal Farm, explaining why the other farm animals had to endure hardship.

When in the mid 1990s, the govt realised that S’pore was losing its competitive edge (a fact, not a Hard Truth or Heart Truth) and it tot that economic growth required real wages to be held down and real estate prices to be inflated*** the workers had to accept the nasty consequences. The NTUC was part of the machinery of govt. As to protesting, well sheep S’poreans don’t protest: they juz bleat*****. Besides, S’poreans are law abiding and protests (Hong Leong excepted) and strikes need official permission, Hong Leong excepted.

NTUC, as a champion of the workers, was flawed from its conception, a bit like the creature that Dr Frankenstein created. For that, Devan Nair, whatever his good intentions, must accept part of the blame.

One wonders whether when Lim Chin Seong and Fong Swee Suan, Woodhull  and other radical left unionists met Devan Nair in the afterlife, they chorused,”Dr Frankenstein, we presume?”?

—–

*(http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mai/new-book-singapore-correspondent/)

by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

Reviewed here: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/im-invested-in-spore-spore-in-50s-60s/

**Bit ironical this given that PAP activists were in the forefront of the strikes.

***OK, OK, I exaggerate. But go ask Mah Bow Tan.

****It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/in-1973-devan-nair-foresaw-todays-income-inequality/

*****They always have. It’s juz that the internet and social media have amplified the once soft bleats. Take away the anonymity of the internet and social media and there will be a reurn to the silence of the lambs.

Nathan’s presidential pension: the facts

In Political governance on 09/04/2014 at 5:00 am

Kee chui all those who believe that Nathan gets paid monthly his presidential pension? And that is based on the millions he got paid every yr for being S’pore’s top security guard?

When Nathan stepped down as president, I tot to myself, “On top of the millions he got paid as chief jaga, he now gets a pension.  In a place where supposedly there is no free lunch especially for the elderly poor**, this guy gets more free meals for lunch and dinner than he can ever eat. He deserves the chronic diseases he is suffering from.”

Well I was wrong.He didn’t get a presidential pension. And BTW Tony Tan isn’t entitled to one.

In a comment on my piece on Devan Nair, the Jedi knight, a reader wrote in response to a comment by another reader that ex-presidents are entitled to pensions:

You are wrong in your view that ex-presidents are entitled to pensions. They never were so entitled. Prior to the passing of the Parliamentary Pensions Act on 9 November, 2012, the Constitution provided for Parliament to provide for his pension whenever they feel the need for giving a pension. There is therefore no entitlement as such. Even such provision has been abolished with the passing of the Act, which by the way, also abolished MPs’ pensions. As for your assertion that even widows of ex-presidents are entitled to pensions you are certainly incorrect. Remember the case of Puan Noor Aisha, the widow of President Yusoff. Parliament was specifically asked to provide for her lifetime maintenance because there was no such entitlement. It was, and still is, terminable upon her re-marriage.

And

You can refresh your memory by reading the Hansard. For Devan Nair, the sitting on 31.8.1985; for Puan Noor Aishah, the sitting on 30.12.1970. Note that the Civil List And Pension Act was amended to specifically allow for a pension to widows of Presidents as President Yusof died in November 1970. For the removal of pensions for President and their widows, read Teo Chee Hean’s speech in Parliament on 10.9.2012. To answer your question about Sheares and Nathan, Teo has stated that ” No former President has ever been granted a pension by the State.”

I missed Teo’s comments. Well our constructive, nation-building media missed a trick in not publicising the fact that presidents are not entitled to pensions.

BTW, this post is dedicated to the person I quoted above. I have to be more careful: I lazily wrote that Devan Nair was “quietly pensioned-off” and the above resulted.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/president-nathan-an-ordinary-sporean/

—-

*Fact that he accepted a pay cut as his term was ending showed that he didn’t think he deserved the millions he was paid. Yes, yes, I know the stories that he donated millions on the quiet to charity. But is that a fact? Or only a Hard Truth? Or its half brother, a Heart Truth? To tell the truth, I believe he donated millions but belief is not evidence.

**Ask VivianB.

 

NS: Taiwan’s way

In Political governance on 07/04/2014 at 4:45 am

Netizens have recently (again) been voicing their opinions on NS and on the amount S’pore spends on the military. Most views are against the status quo. Sadly, a lot of comments are juz noise, if not rubbish: of the “PAP is always wrong” variety. The PAP may often be wrong, it isn’t always wrong.

Hopefully, an extract from the transcript of an interview that the Economist did with the president of Taiwan will help inform the debate on NS and S’pore’s military spending. Some comparisons are in the Appendix but before cyberwarriors  mindlessly attack the PAP because Taiwan spends less than ours in $ value, and as %age of budget and GDP, they should note that the US has voiced its concern that Taiwan is freeloading on the US, spending too little on its own defense despite Taiwan facing (unlike S’pore) an existentialist threat (China reserves the right to invade Taiwan if it seeks independence),

Taiwan has cut NS down to four mouths. Not all males of enlistment age will now be required to serve, but rather only a small proportion. Others will be able to follow their own career interests … a more reasonable use of human capital.

It realises that NS  is a cost to society, and wants to reduce this cost. When all the males of a certain age are serving in the military, this naturally places a cost on society. Many businesses will lack the manpower they need, which will limit our overall development. There is, therefore, a great social cost.

Does the govt here realise that having cheap labour for public event (any idea in F1, a commercial enterprises, has access to NS men as cheap labour?), and security involves a social cost?

The extract

In the context of the third line of defence, how problematic is the shift to an all-volunteer army proving? I understand that there are some problems with recruitment.

President Ma: Let me first clarify that we are not moving to an all-volunteer system. Ours will be largely a voluntary force, but not an all-volunteer force. We still have conscription. All males of enlistment age are obliged to spend four months in military training, following which they become part of the reserve. During wartime, they can also be called up to active service.

The Constitution states that the people have the duty to perform military service. Were we to do away with the four-month requirement, we would be in danger of violating the Constitution.

All nations that go by a volunteer system, especially those that had practiced conscription, experience a temporary dip in personnel numbers. With such a systemic change, it is natural that supporting measures will be insufficient. We have just made our change, and are tackling difficulties as they arise.

We have three main goals. First is to enhance the military’s combat readiness. Second is a more reasonable use of human capital. Last is reducing social costs.

As to enhancing combat readiness, let me explain by way of an example. Take a private. Under the old system, he would serve for a year. He completed his service just as he was getting a feel for things. Under the new system, volunteers serve for four years per enlistment. This means that mature soldiers will serve for a longer period. This will naturally increase combat readiness.

We also want to attract young people into the military, which requires improvements in three areas. The first is pay. A private under the old system would have been paid about NT$6,000 per month as basic salary [S$250]. Under the volunteer system, that same soldier will receive NT$33,000 [S$1375], a better than fivefold increase. Second, is honour. We must, on many fronts, increase soldiers’ social status, that they get the respect they deserve. Third, is career path. During the four-year enlistment period, soldiers will be given all manner of vocational training. Our hope is that they end their time in the military with at least one professional certificate, that when they re-enter society, they will not have trouble finding a job.

Of course, we hope to retain such people, and we have seen a retention rate of nearly 60% following these recent developments. This is no small achievement since the changeover to the new system. And we have been resolving difficulties we have encountered one by one by implementing our strategy.

Second is the reasonable use of human capital. Not all males of enlistment age will now be required to serve, but rather only a small proportion. Others will be able to follow their own career interests. This is, of course, a more reasonable use of human capital.

Third is reducing the cost to society. When all the males of a certain age are serving in the military, this naturally places a cost on society. Many businesses will lack the manpower they need, which will limit our overall development. There is, therefore, a great social cost. Through the changes we have overseen, we will reduce this cost.

Two months ago, the Executive Yuan raised the salary for voluntary military personnel, which has had an amazing result. Some 60 years ago, our military personnel numbered over 600,000. Today, they stand at roughly 200,000, a number that may fall a little further. This size of military is sufficient to defend Taiwan given modern self-defence methods.

BTW, here’s an antidote to the PAP’s claim that S’pore outperforms Taiwan:

If you look at the four economies that we used to club together as the original Asian Tigers—Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong—they are all having to reinvent themselves. Do you think that those four economies can still learn from each other? Does Taiwan have any other economic models in mind that it wants to emulate?

President Ma: I believe that the Four Asian Tigers can still learn from each other, even though their specific situations may be slightly different. For example, our situation is similar to that of the Republic of Korea, and rather different from those of Singapore and Hong Kong, because the latter are basically cities. Nonetheless, in terms of their strategies for economic development, they can still serve as a valuable reference.

Looking at the economic performance of these four countries and regions over the past six years, our economic growth rate has been 2.91%, second to Singapore. This is based on nominal GDP. If we look at GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, we have had the highest growth rate.

We also have had the lowest CPI among the Four Asian Tigers. Our unemployment rate has been relatively high, but our misery index—calculated by adding the inflation rate to the unemployment rate—was the second-lowest amongst the four.

Our problem is that we have made insufficient progress in terms of liberalisation, and the pace of our industrial restructuring has been too slow. With regard to regional economic integration, we have to make up considerable ground to be able to compete with Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Republic of Korea.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/03/interview-taiwans-president

Related article on NS in Taiwan: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25085323

—-

Appendix

S’pore, Taiwan military expenditure

In 2013, the estimated military spending was US$10.5bn for Taiwan, and US$12bn for S’pore.

In Taiwan’s case this represented 16.2% of the budget and 2.1% of GDP.

In S’pore’s case the US$12bn represented 20% of the budget and 6% of GDP.

Even if Taiwan is spending too little, surely S’pore is spending too much? I don’t know. What do you think?

Related article on S’pore’s military might: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101393982

In 1973 Devan Nair foresaw today’s income inequality

In Political governance on 04/04/2014 at 5:21 am

I never tot of Devan Nair as a dissident until last week, His critical comments of one LKY and the PAP, I put down to the bitterness of being pensioned-off quietly, and then of being publicly humiliated when he complained of being pensioned-off. Devan Nair’s fall from grace and very public humiliation was to me poetic justice for someone who was seen by human rights and labour activists of helping the PAP enslave the workers who trusted him; a view I don’t share but taz another story.

Last week, I read a 1973 speech in which he

– attacked the consequences of a “meritocratic society”: elitism;

– expected a growing disparity in incomes;

– accused the new elite of a lack of general social concern or commitment; and

– said that S’pore would not turn out the way he and the other leaders of the PAP had envisioned.

He said,

My colleagues and I in the NTUC have done our part to persuade the workers to accept the growing income differentials between them and the burgeoning new elite of Singapore — the professionals, technocrats and management executives. We think our workers are sophisticated enough not to grudge the new elite their extra perks and special privileges but what they do resent is the lack of any tangible signs of general social concern or commitment on the part of the new
elite.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/emerging-elite/ Check out the person behind vthe site a KC gal living in the US. She doesn’t deserve the SPG tag that KC gals get affixed with even by ST editors)

Remember this was said when the PM (LKY was drawing a salary of $4,000 a month, less than $8,000 that David Marshall drew in 1957) and a salary of $100,000 a yr made the headlines of ST (Haw Par’s incoming expat MD’s salary).

As to a different S’pore from what the PAP leaders had envisioned: it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

They (including one LKY I suspect) would have been disappointed if they knew then (in 1973) that in the noughties,

– the PAP in the 2011 GE would only get 60% of the popular vote despite a growing economy that did not benefit many of  the voters (in 1973, the growing economy benefited most voters);

– two cabinet ministers (one a very senior one) would lose their seats convincingly;

– the PAP govt would lose its reputation for managerial efficiency: think the public tpt problems, the hospital bed shortage, the security breaches, the riot; or

– the PAP’s preferred presidential candidate would win by the shortest of short noses

So why didn’t he do something about it?

In 1973, he was not someone to be trifled with.  He was Sec-Gen of the NTUC, a charismatic speaker and he had credibility with the workers.  True they had effectively lost the right to strike, but in return they had benefited from strong economic growth, the result of MNCs setting up here to take adv of the labour laws protecting employers. In 1983, he got Lim Chee Onn (a scholar) sacked as NTUC Sec-Gen for not being able to connect with the workers. That was how powerful he was. (BTW, Lim Chee Onn turned to be a gd executive at Keppel, for which shareholders like me are grateful.)

Three connected answers suggest themselves hesitatingly, tentatively: He couldn’t because although he was in charge of the NTUC and had the support of the workers, the NTUC was so intertwined with the PAP and the govt that no one man could not break the bonds: even someone like him.

Then too LKY was at the zenith of his intellectual and political power. A person of Devan’s high EQ and IQ would realise that taking on LKY meant defeat.

Finally he still in 1973, tot the world of one LKY, and that the individual must be subordinated to the interest of society, ideas that had serious flaws to say the very least. In the same speech he said,

It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

So maybe he tried working within the system to try to change it?

The tragedy of Devan Nair is that he

– realised (14 yrs after the PAP gained power, 8 yrs after he independence) that he had helped create a society that was going the “wrong” way; and

– he couldn’t do anything to prevent it.

If there is a memorial to honour him these words should be engraved, Indeed, it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

Actually, thinking about it, these words should appear on any memorial to any other dead PAP leader (including LKY when he has moved on) or on the PAP’s building.

 

Temasek’s Lim talks rubbish/ Olam helps African farmers

In Africa, Commodities, GIC, Political governance, Temasek on 03/04/2014 at 4:55 am

Temasek’s chairman Lim Boon Heng (the chap who cried when voting for casinos) was quoted by BT on 31 March as saying, “Coming from a little island nation with no natural resources except for some granite rocks, we are not a sovereign wealth fund in the normal sense of the term,” he said at a reception to mark the opening of Temasek’s new European office in London last Friday.

“Instead, we invest capital accumulated from generations of hard work and commitment by everyone in Temasek and the Temasek portfolio companies,” said Mr Lim in a speech at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel.

Well, I could reasonably say that he is talking rot*. It could be reasonably argued that part or most of money saved (via budget surpluses) could have been be more productively spent on making life better for S’poreans. It could have been spent on

– more hospital beds (http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/13/gan-says-hospital-beds-increased-by-30-really/),

– better public transport (Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek, and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC) dividends of  S$150.46m since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was S$713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is likely be the main beneficiary of the S$1.1bn bus plan) (Italics added at 6.55am),

– low cost public housing (remember Mah saying that lowering the cost of land cheaper was raiding the reserves http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/what-are-in-our-reserves-a-revisit/. Link also describes how budget surpluses and the reserves are linked),

– welfare for the elderly and needy. and

– education.

The list for the productive use of govt revenue rather than to play roulette or baccarat (OK, OK invest) can go on and on.

 

Leading local economists (not juz a wannabe opposition politican) have made this point about better uses of govt money than squirreling it away for a rainy day that never comes**. They juz don’t get reported by our constructive, nation-building media.

But maybe the govt is changing its attitude and Temasek is leading the way?

Olam is into sustainable, ecofriendly agriculture.

Sor and farmers from 36 communities in the Juabeso/Bia district are part of a project to produce climate-smart cocoa, claimed to the the world’s first. The $1m, three-year pilot collaboration between Rainforest Alliance (RA), an environmental organization, and Olam International, agricultural company, offers financial incentive to the farmers.

In the wild, cocoa trees grow under taller trees, which protect them from the scorching sun. But in Ghana as in neighbouring Ivory Coast, which together account for more than half the global supply, cocoa is grown as a monoculture.

“I had a lot of trees on my farm, but I cut and burned them. I thought they brought diseases, were a nuisance and took the place of cocoa,” says the mother of four, who owns a 4-acre farm in Eteso.  “I didn’t know about the importance of shade trees until I joined the group.”

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2013/12/ghana)

Three cheers for Olam and Temasek for helping African farmers. Next stop S’pore SMEs?

Maybe Temasek is experimenting in Africa. Next an investment in a S’pore based co that helps S’poreans? Charity begins at home.

BTW, nice to see that GIC opened an office in Brazil. About time as Latin America is becoming unfashionable among the ang mohs.

GIC opened an office yesterday in Brazil, as it looks for more investment opportunities in Latin America.

The new office – its 10th globally – will focus on areas such as real estate, healthcare, financial and business services, and natural resources and infrastructure.

“Our presence in Brazil will enable our partners to engage early and interact closely with the GIC team, which is very beneficial for complex and sizeable investments,” said group chief investment officer Lim Chow Kiat.

“We believe our partners will gain from having access to GIC’s global network of business contacts and market insights. Although emerging markets remain volatile, we are confident of the long-term Latin America growth story.” (Yesterday’s BT).

These countries need capital, now that the ang mohs no longer like the area. China is investing there, BTW.

————————————————————————————————————

*One of these days I’ll blog why ever since Devan Nai, Lim Chee Onn and Ong Teng Cheonf, we’ve had clowns as NTUC leaders. Lim may have been a failure as NTUC leader (Devan Nair fixed him), he he turned out to be a gd for Keppel, for which I’m grateful.)

**I hope thyose who think the world of Ong Teng Cheong realise that he wanted to look away even the returns from reserves away from the masses. Lee Hsien Loong and co got their way on using some of the returns on govt spending.

Another minister tries telling jokes

In Political governance on 31/03/2014 at 4:57 am

Whether a policy will be popular at the ballot box is not a factor that the Government takes into account before implementing it, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said yesterday.

Instead, the Government’s focus has always been about getting policies right, he said, using the recently-announced Pioneer Generation Package as an example.

 The Government would not have fully funded the S$8 billion package from its current account surplus this year if it were “thinking purely in terms of electoral calculations”, said Mr Shanmugam. (Saturday’s Today)
Come on pull the other leg, it’s got bells. So Shan is trying to be Tharman, telling jokes?

Notwithstanding the criticisms in TOC, TRE, and the other usual suspects, there is quiet satisfaction among the oldies (and the children) that I know, that the package while not that generous shows that the govt is willing to listen. And why is the govt listening? There is an election coming in which it wants to obtain more than the 60% of the popular vote. So it does what elected govts do, buy votes. In our case, it’s will our money, not borrowed money as is common in the West. Whatever the method, it’s still vote buying.

My other serious point is that by saying govt “will do what’s right, not what’s popular”, he implies that the unpopular measure is always  the right policy. Come on pull the other leg, it’s got bells. He cannot be serious. The transport policy of Raymond Lim (if commuters want basic comfort, they will have to pay GST),  and the public housing policy of Minister Mah (prices fly in a recession) were unpopular, and wrong. By sacking them (OK not denying they were sacked, and they didn’t get cushy GLC jobs did they?), and reversing their policies, the govt admitted they were wrong.

Minister should stick to his day job of being the pet minister, administering to the concerns of pet owners. And making them happy enough with his performance to vote for the PAP: Most pet owners are “Calm Persistence”: their votes matter. The contradiction that the PAP has to solve if he continues doing the great job that he is doing is that he shows up the performance of Yaacob and Isawran, the ministers responsible for two minority races. Their underwhelming performance surely will alienate those minorities who don’t have pets?

Which voter are you?

In Political governance on 28/03/2014 at 4:53 am

Came across something interesting (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-26689333) that can be used to analyse (ok pontificate on or BS on) voting patterns in S’pore.

1. Comfortable Nostalgia: “They tend to be older, more traditional voters who dislike the social and cultural changes they see as altering [country] for the worse.”

2. Optimistic Contentment: “Confident, comfortable & usually on higher incomes they are prudent & tolerant but think [country] is a soft touch.”

3. Calm Persistence: “Often coping rather than comfortable, they hope rather than expect things to get better.”

4. Hard-pressed Anxiety: “Pessimistic & insecure, these people want more help from government and resent competition for that help particularly from new-comers.”

5. Long-term Despair: “Many are serial strugglers; angry & alienated they feel little or no stake in the country or that anyone stands up for them.”

6. Cosmopolitan Critics: “Generally younger, more secular and urban-based, worried about growing inequality & the general direction the country is going in.”

“Comfortable Nostalgia” and “Optimistic Contentment” (me?) would be daft not to vote PAP, while “Hard-pressed Anxiety”, “Long-term Despair” and  “Cosmopolitan Critics” would surely vote for the opposition to the PAP? Though after the 2011 GE, Eric Tan (remember him?) told me that it was a surprise voters that well-off S’poreans, who could see that their children (grown -up or growining up) were not or would not enjoy the good life that they had or have, voted for the opposition.

The fight would be for the “Calm Persistence” voters, and the “Hard Pressed Anxiety”?

But if the SDP and WP decide to fight each other and the PAP, there will be problems  because based on the results of PE 2011, the SDP has most of the votes of the “Long-term Despair” and  “Cosmopolitan Critics”; while the WP has support among “Calm Persistence” even if the RI doctors in the SDP fall into this group), and “Hard-pressed Anxiety” (the SDP and WP share votes with some “daft” ones voting PAP ). By avoiding three-way fights, these two parties and the Chiams, NSP and the clowns other parties make sure that the anti-PAP voters are used to maximum effect.

Hence the uproar when Mad Dog Chee (escaped his RI doctors?) wanted to fight the WP in Punggol-East. Fortunately, the roar of protest shocked him into sanity, and treatment.

BTW, I think based on the postings on TREthe majority of TRE posters would seem fall into  the “Hard-pressed Anxiety”and “Long-term Despair” (i.e. into the losers) even though TeamTRE belongs in the “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety”  categories: the only people who would spend time and money on doing what they believe is right, even if the losers are freeloading on their efforts.

TOC’s editors, team and natural readers would fall into fall into the”Calm Persistence” “Hard-pressed Anxiety”and .”Cosmopolitan Critics” groups.

Those who read this blog (not via TRE) are in 1-5. Why TRE republishes me I know not. Maybe it’s to tell the losers that life is more complex than the PAP’s demand (“For us or against us”) that the losers seem to have adopted?  Or maybe because it knows that there is a silent majority of readers in the “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety”. Could be as TRE has raised the funds to keep on going for another year. So maybe the TRE community is more than losers freeloading on the efforts TeamTRE?

Finally, as to why I’m not a PAP supporter, it’s largely ’cause* I don’t like the PAP’s attitude of insisting on the imposing the “right” values on S’poreans (even if I may agree with many these values like hating free-loaders and losers who expect something for nothing). I believe that:

… pensioners would be free to spend their savings on a Lamborghini following a rule change in the Budget.

From 2015, people reaching retirement age will be able to use pension pots however they want, rather than having to buy a guaranteed annual income.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said it was people’s “choice” whether to buy Italian Lamborghini sports cars.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-26649162

It’s our choice to do dumb things provided we are prepared to live with the consequences without moaning and groaning.

*Also I believe that a one-party state is bad for S’pore. For that think the problems in public transport and housing  that the PAP caused. BTW, one could argue that its recent changes in its public housing and tpt policies and its seeming change in FT PMET policy is geared at winning the “Calm Persistent” voters over and moving “Hard Pressed Anxiety” voters into the “Calm Persistent” group; and the “Calm Persistent” voters into the “Optimistic Contentment’ category. It’s also trying to show S’poreans that the gd life can still be found here.

Reason why S’poreans migrating, not reproducing?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 24/03/2014 at 4:23 am

… Google managers need to keep their staff happy because, Mr Teller says, you don’t need your manager’s permission to leave a particular section if you believe they are behaving in an obnoxious manner.

“Not only will you leave but everyone will leave and that guy is going to find himself voted off the island by his own people,” he adds. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25880738) Emphasis mine.

Hmm bit like general elections. Opps forgot that we got the GRC system. So we can’t vote the PAP out even if another 11%  of the voters change their minds about the PAP in the next GE. Those who predict that in the next GE, the PAP will lose power should remember this in their lucid moments when they lapse into sanity.

Seriously, maybe the number of true blue S’poreans, migrating (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/spore-inc-are-local-talents-emigrating-too-fast/) and the low birth rate* is the way S’poreans are telling the PAP that the PAP sucks? Even if 60% of the voters continue voting for the PAP.

But never mind, maybe PAP is thinking like this?

After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers Union

Had leaflets distributed …

Stating that the people

Had thrown away the confidence of the government

And could win it back only

By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

(The writer, Bertolt Brecht, was a famous playwright,  a Hollywood screen writer in the golden years of Hollywood in the 1930s) and a Marxist activist.) http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/rewriting-lkys-views-on-fts-and-if-so-why/

Coming back to the Google manager:

You must reward people for failing, he says. If not, they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs. If you don’t reward failure, people will hang on to a doomed idea for fear of the consequences. That wastes time and saps an organisation’s spirit.

Finding new transformational ideas is like sending out a team of scouts to explore uncharted terrain for new mountains to climb, he says.

“If you shame them when they come back, if you tell them that they’ve failed you because they didn’t find a mountain, no matter how diligently they looked for or how cleverly they looked for it, those scouts will quit your company.”

But this is no excuse for those in Home Team. They are not creative types: they are employed to prevent things happening (breach of border security) or escalating (senior police commanders). From the I(ndian?) http://theindependent.sg/review-the-home-team/

BTW, I’m glad the Indian stopped the self-defeating habit of not allowing one to read its article unless one “Liked” it. I always moved on. I mean how to “Like” something before one read it? So PAPpish or CCP, not the spirit of the world’s largest democracy.

——————————————————–

*Update at 5.00am: Juz read this

Now the big problem is a rock-bottom low birthrate — with a fertility rate under 1.2 – barely  half that necessary to replace the current population, which threatens to turn this ultra-dynamic city state into a giant old-age home.

The reasons for this plunge, according to demographer Gavin Jones at the National University of Singapore, lie largely in such things as long working hours and ever-rising housing costs, something that has been boosted by foreign purchases of private residences. With large apartments increasingly expensive, Singaporeans, particularly those with children, often think of emigrating to less expensive or at least roomier places such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand. One recent survey estimated that over half of Singaporeans want to migrate; the World Bank estimates upward of 300,000 Singaporeans have moved abroad, accounting for almost one in 10 citizens. …

.One key element relates to focusing on how to nurture families once again, and to recapture that sense of Singaporean-ness that makes the place so special. It is not so much a matter of financial incentives — these have not worked — as in controlling housing costs, expanding space for families,  and most importantly, finding better ways to balance life and work.

Already some initial steps to humanize the metropolis are taking place. These include a remarkable expansion and improvement of green space, and attempts to decentralize work around the newer state housing estates and commercial developments. Steps to increase the size of apartments, repurpose aging shopping and office structure for housing as well as encouraging more home-based work could also prove helpful. These changes will be critical if the world’s most successful city wants to remain so in the decades ahead.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2013/07/18/singapore-needs-a-new-sling/

Neighbours show up the S’pore system, for gd and bad

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Public Administration on 22/03/2014 at 5:41 am

The governor of Jakarta has been in the news recently because he was nominated by a major Indo political party to be a presidential candidate. He is a very popular choice because he is seen as being against inefficiency, maladministration and corruption.

What our constructive, nation-building and PAP-allied media doesn’t tell us is that he before he entered politics, he sold furniture. He was no scholar, general or admiral like paper generals Kee Chui and MoM Tan (and before them Lui, Pinkie, Teo or Cut and Run George). He was an ordinary citizen who cared enough to enter politics.

This reminds me: a PAPpy-hater complained that http://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/adequate-water-supply-is-common-sense-not-foresight. Well going by the following BBC extract,

London-based Inmarsat said its engineers realised at an early stage that the aircraft had probably flown for several hours on a northern or southern track, and it was very unlikely that the plane could have headed north over countries with sophisticated air defence systems.
The company further said that it had informed the Malaysian authorities of the information, through an intermediary company, on 12 March, but this was not publicly acknowledged until 15 March.
Furthermore, the authorities continued to search in the South China Sea and Malacca Straits during that time, despite the information suggesting that the plane had flown on much further.

The M’sian officials lacked common sense. At least the then PAP cabinet had the common sense to do make sure we had adequate water supplies. I can’t be sure of the present cabinet. What do you think?

Flooding the city with FTs but not increasing the supply of hospital beds. Worse denying that there is a shortage. http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/21/dr-amy-khor-need-to-put-hospital-bed-crunch-in-context/. Err actually this gd TRE piece shows that there are advantages in having an elite schoolboy and scholar on the team. TeamTre has one such person. The TeamTRE-generated analysis is a lot better than the TOC team’s inhouse generated analysis.  For reportage TOC is miles ahead.

BTW, TOC, the chamion of free speech and a free internet, has disallowed my FaceBook avatar from commenting on their FB wall. Gee and they got the cheek to call for the govt to allow greater freedom of expression? Juz as intolerant as MIW? At least MIW are not hypocrites. They openly endorse the idea that only the “right” tots are allowed to be expressed. LOL.

TRE, in contrast, republishes pieces where I ridicule the readership’s excesses in hating all things PAP. Now that is walking the walk of freedom of expression.

WP should resurrect its 1984 manifesto and 1991 speeches?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 21/03/2014 at 4:55 am

(Or “Back to the future for WP in next GE?

In the course of helping the author of Dissident Voices in the research for the sequel, I borrowed the WP 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book from the National Library, Marine Parade branch. I couldn’t find it on the shelves so I asked the librarian if it was “protected” by an invisibility field or was only available to the “right” people. No, it wasn’t hidden away under lock and key. It was openly displayed on the shelf near the PAP’s 50th anniversary book. But it is such an inconspicuous volume that I missed it.

The book told me things that the ST never reported about the 1984 and 1991  general elections. Remember that these events happened before the internet age. If the media didn’t report something, it didn’t exist for practical reasons (Somewhere I blogged on how the 1988 results for Eunos GRC came as a surprise: WP nearly won).

I learnt that the 1984 election manifesto was entitled”Wake Up to Your Freedom , It’s Time”. calling for the people to vote for “the Hammer for a caring society”. The WP called for

– Free and adequate medical care for the needy

– Commission to review education policy

–Free schooling and equal opportunities in education for children from poor families

– Workers’ rights

– Reduced CPF contributions and the right to take your CPF savings at 55

– Adequate care for the aged

– Greater share forSsingaporeans in the economic wealth

– Help for the disabled

– Abolition of tax subsidies and privileges for the rich

– Reasonable compensation for acquired properties

– Abolition of tax on water, light and telephone services

– Review of all fees paid to government and statutory boards

– Guaranteed personal for every citizen

– Freedom from exercise of arbitrary power and protection of citizen’s rights

All this in response to the younger PAP’s ministers call to vote for the PAP for a Swiss std of living.

Compare this to the 2011 manifesto (Key Highlights) which has since been watered down. No more public tpt nationalisation.

I find the 1984 manifesto more stirring and, more importantly, rationally relevant today. True the ideas in the manifesto sounded like pie-in-the-sky in 1984 (when I voted for the WP because I believed that a one-party state was bad for S’pore even though I was happy with most of what LKY, Dr Goh and the other Water Margin “bandits” were doing for us: ya I that ungrateful), but the ideas are no longer rubbish.

According to the PAP we now have a Swiss standard of living (huh? OK, like us the Swiss are unhappy about immigration, so unhappy that in a recent referendum they told the govt to restrict immigration)), and it’s a fact that we got oddles of money in the reserves (though you wouldn’t think so reading Chris Balding and his mindless “hate S’pore” groupies) thanks partly to Dr Goh’s ideas: doesn’t this mean we can now afford the things WP was calling for in 1984?

As regards the danger of overspending, we got the capital, and part of the income from it locked away from the govt in power, whether it be PAP or not. So the govt can only spend what it raises in taxes and the like, what with borrowing requiring the president’s approval.

So the ground is fertile for trying shumething new without worrying that the new policies cannot be reversed.

Another interesting fact I learnt is that according to the book in the 1991 GE, speeches centred mainly on bread-and-better issues:

The PAP would give beautiful promises before elections but there would always be strings attached — service charges would see a hike soon after.

– Under PAP’s reign, it would be difficult to maintain a family and provide decent education for the next generation.

– Their policies have promoted social inequality and a widening of the rich-poor divide.

– Job security for the workers was pathetically limited.

Sounds familiar?  Back to the future?

So, all in all, JBJ and his merry men of bicyle thieves*, ex-Woodbridge patients* , opportunists and economic illiterates were prescient. More prescient than me at least (trained lawyer and wannabe corporate financier). They were prescient earlier than Dr Chee who was still in shorts in 1984. Remember he had been banging away since the 1990s about growing inequality etc as the SDP rightly never fails to remind us. Well JBJ and his merry men had been doing so earlier.

With this track record, why doesn’t WP remind us that it called the future right in 1984 and 1991?

One reason could be that Low is a modest man, not prone in triumphalism; he was Organising Secretary in 1988. Another reason could be that the WP thinks that in the real world the public has a bad impression of the WP in those years even though JBJ is fondly remembered in cyberspace. History began only in 2001, after Low took power from JBJ.

It’s a fact (not a Hard Truth or a Heart Truth) that after the 1997 GE, the WP went AWOL (or is it MIA?).

It went so AWOL or MIA that it could only field two candidates in 2001. It had wanted to field a GRC team too but one James Gomez** it is alleged screwed up, even though publicly Low took responsibility for the balls-up. In 1988, in the first GE under the uber gerrymandering GRC system, it fielded 32 candidates of uneven quality and contested 6 GRCs and 14 SMCs. In 1991 it fielded 13 candidates in 2 GCs and 5 SMCs. in 1996 it fielded 14 candidates in 3 GRCs and one SMC (Houygang). The candidates in 1991 and 1997 were the kind of people voters were comfortable with.

True the leadership had a major distraction that started when JBJ as the editor of the Hammer, even though he didn’t understand written Tamil, published a letter written in Tamil. Let these extracts tell the story.

Legal Action: An Tamil Article Published on THE HAMMER
In November 1995, the Party and the whole of its Central Executive Council found itself the object of two defamation suits filed by five PAP Tamil MPs and eleven members of the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week arising from an article published in the Party organ, “The Hammer”. The Plaintiffs’ complaint in both suits was that the article implied that their efforts to promote the Tamil Language had been less than sincere.Members of the Central Executive Council under suit by PAP Tamil MPs and the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week were:-
Chairman Dr Tan Bin Seng
Vice-Chairman A. Rahim Rahman
Secretary-General J. B. Jeyaretnam
Assistant Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang
Treasurer Sim Say Chuan
Organising Secretary Ng Ah Chwee
Committee Member Lim Ee Peng
Committee Member James Teo Kian Chye
Committee Member James Tan Joo Leng
Committee Member K. Mariappane
Committee Member Chan Keng Sieng
Eventually, in September 1997, the Party and its Central Executive Council members agreed to pay the five PAP Tamil MPs by 6 instalments, damages for defamation of $200,000/- (inclusive of legal costs). The suit by the eleven members of the Organizing Committee was in the course of hearing at time of writing.
 …

Judgment: A Tamil Article Published in THE HAMMER
By the said Judgment given at the High Court on the 30th November 1998 that Jeyaretnam, A Balakrishnan and the workers’ party were collectively and severally ordered to pay ten of the plaintiffs in the said suit a total sum of $265, 000/- for damages and costs to be taxed.The Worker’s Party’s appeal against the said judgment was dismissed on 21 April 1999. By then the total sum had snowballed to close to half a million dollars, inclusive of legal costs.

(Above extracts from http://archive.is/lSomP#selection-1561.0-1583.184)

(Update at 6.52 on day of publication: More on nuances of the defamation case: http://article14.blogspot.sg/2012/03/who-got-facts-wrong-kenneth-jeyaretnam.html and http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lrwc.org%2Fws%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F03%2FDefamationinSingapore.pdf&ei=N3ErU56GM877rAfhr4D4BA&usg=AFQjCNEGC0kB5Gwv5vdRztQr1ooO1060KA&bvm=bv.63316862,d.bmk)

Whatever the reason for not invoking the past in the past since 2001, the WP should seriously rethink the strategy of trying to be near-clones of the MIW. It was the right strategy in the noughties, and it culminated in the victories in 2011 (it campaigned as the voters’ co-driver to the PAP), 2012 and 2013. Huat ah.

But is it the right strategy for the next GE? For the reasons given above, I think not. It’s like the by-election strategy that was adopted by accident in 1991 (JBJ didn’t want it but he couldn’t get enough WP candidates); gd idea for its time but by the end of the decade had outlived its usefulness.

What do you think?

Especially if the ideas expressed here (http://thehearttruths.com/2014/03/19/truth-exposed-how-the-pap-will-crash-the-singapore-economy/take root in the real world), not juz  cyberspace i.e.”cowboy towns” (actually paper-warriors’ alternative reality).

As someone who wants for starters, an opposition that deprives the PAP of a two-thirds parliamentary majority, I don’t want the next GE to be a rerun of the 1997 one.

*OK, OK . Only one of each.  But there were many “strange” MP candidates, pre 1988. But thinking about it only those who perceived reality differently from other S’poreans would have dared take on the PAP in the 70s and 80s.  Remember LKY was no wimp like Goh or Pinkie; he was the leader of Water Margin “bandits”.

**Yup the same Gabra Gomez of 2006. His instructors in BMT would sure have been real nervous during range, and grenade throwing. In 2011, SDP made sure he kept away from the form filling.

Pope’s approach versus that of PAP

In Political governance on 17/03/2014 at 4:39 am

When I read this recently

In a long interview with a fellow Jesuit, now issued worldwide in book form, Pope Francis tellingly uses the metaphor of his Church as a field hospital.

“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds,” he says.

“I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”,

I could not help but think of Kee Chui’s (and by extension that of the PAP govt’s) attitude towards helping the needy as related here by Uncle Leong who in the extract also gives a gd response to the PAP’s Hard Truth of not helping whenever possible:

Those who genuinely want to help?

Mr Chan also asked his fellow MPs “not to judge” when stories of any of these families in trouble are highlighted in the media.

“Very often, there are very complicated stories behind each and every case. Very often the social workers and the community have been quietly working behind the scenes helping these families in need without fanfare,” said Mr Chan.

He added, “Those who genuinely want to help…we’ll be most happy to work with them. But for those with other reasons, it’s always difficult.”

However I am rather puzzled as to what he means or is trying to say with this remark. 

An example of a cardboard collector who wasn’t really needy?

The minister brought out the example of a woman who was featured in a news report.

“In 2009, there was a public uproar after a video posted online by news service Agence France Presse featured an elderly woman in Singapore who made a living by scavenging for scrap cardboard and selling it,” Mr Chan said.

It was mentioned that checks by the government officials later revealed that she owned property, had savings and a family who wanted to help her – but she did not want to rely on them.

So when it was said that “she owned property”, does it mean she is staying in her own HDB flat or a private property?

What about the term “had savings”? Is it a few thousand dollars or more than $4,000?

What exactly does “had a family who wanted to help her – but she did not want to rely on them” mean?

From our experience in volunteering to do financial counselling for the last decade or so, we often come across cases whereby if a family member is asked by the authorities about their aged parent working for very low earnings, the answer may be, “We want to help, but my parent does not want our help.”

But think about it. If you were the family member being asked by the authorities why your elderly parent is on the streets picking up cardboard, would you want to give an answer to say that you do not have the means or intention of taking care of your parent?

At the end of the day, the fact is that there are so many elderly Singaporeans eking out a living by earning less than $10 a day collecting scrap cardboard or used drink cans.

To all these needy elderly Singaporeans it may be quite meaningless to hear a reply in Parliament citing one example of a scrap cardboard collector who arguably don’t really need to make “a living by scavenging for scrap cardboard and selling it.”

And Kee Chui is one of the more compassionate PAPpies because of his background: poor boy made gd. What about that sneering ACS boy from a privileged family?

Why PAP should be afraid but not not too afraid

In China, Humour, Internet, Malaysia, Political governance, Vietnam on 10/03/2014 at 4:49 am

Paper warriors can cause serious problems for paper generals. Take heart Richard Wan, SgDaily, Terry Xu etc. And NSP should put more effort and time on online activities, rather than pounding the streets and climbing stairs, even though P Ravi of NSP gets great workouts: but Ravi, skip the teh tariks at the end. And the Chiams start an online presence.

Online activism can be an accurate indicator of where revolutions might take place next, according to University of Manchester research.

Argentina, Georgia, the Philippines and Brazil are claimed to be most at risk of upheaval, according to this measure.

The Revolution 2.0 Index* was developed last year and identified Ukraine as the most likely to see political upheaval.

This index sees revolution being forecast by computer experts rather than political analysts … It provides a different view of how regimes are put at risk by protest movements, looking at online factors rather than street demonstrations.

The index produces a risk factor based on the level of repression and the ability of people to organise protests online.

(http://www.bbc.com/news/education-26448710)

But Yaacob, MDA, and the ISD can still relax a little: The highest risk comes in countries where there are protests against perceived injustices – but where there is relative freedom online.

Err we knowthat S’poreans don’t like to sweat at Hong Lim: ask Gilbert Goh. (Alternative reason: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/gg-crashes-new-indian-chief-needed/)

So get the people out in their tens of thousands to Hong Lim Green and keep up the online volume, then sure can effect regime change. But fortunately for the PAP, only the LGBTs can get out the crowd. Aand then only once in a pink moon.

Still if PM and the ministers want to make sure they get to keep their mega-salaries then they should start sending study teams to  Ethiopia, Iran, Cuba and China: At the lowest end of this 39-country index are countries such as Iran, Cuba and China because there is a lower level of risk of revolution in repressive countries with tight controls over the internet.

Actually, it juz might be easier to ban Facebook and other forms of social media on the grounds that users waste time on them during office hours (all those cat photos that a certain social activist posts during office hours). Users are subversives, undermining the govt’s productivity drive, the aim of which is to make S’poreans richer slaves.

Talking about the Ukraine, professor Richard Heeks from Manchester University, the creator the index, says: “But social media has been the core tool used to organise protests and maintain them by letting protesters know where they can get nearby food, shelter, medical attention, and so on.

“It has spread word about violence and has garnered support and assistance from overseas.”

BTW, S’pore, Cambodia and Laos are not on the index but the rest of Asean is

The Philippines (4th)

M’sia (14th)

Indonesia (26th)

Vietnam (29th)

Thailand (33rd: err data was up to 2012)

Burma (35th)

———————————————————-

*The index combines Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net scores, the International Telecommunication Union’s information and communication technology development index, and the Economist’s Democracy Index (reversed into an “Outrage Index” so that higher scores mean more autocracy). The first measures the degree of Internet freedom in a country, the second shows how widely Internet technology is used, and the third provides the level of oppression.

 

 

Got money to retire on after paying 30-yr HDB loan for 99-yr lease?

In Financial competency, Financial planning, Political governance on 06/03/2014 at 4:28 am

Further to this, I tot readers would be interested in the findings of a study commissioned by MoM and conducted by NUS academics. What do you think of the assumptions? Are they reasonable? Yes, I know they assume 30yrs (while 25 yrs is max period), but that make’s it more conservative when thinking of retirement funds.

About half of Singaporeans currently meet the minimum sum to qualify them for the above payout. But most young Singaporean wage earners today will be able to meet the minimum sum by the time they retire, provided they buy property within their means, the government has said.

An independent study on retirement was also commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower and conducted by National University of Singapore professors Chia Ngee Choon and Albert Tsui. It found that young workers today can replace their income upon retirement at rates similar to developed countries.

One major assumption is that a couple of the same income percentile marry, with the male at age 30 and female at age 28. They buy an HDB build-to-order (BTO) flat with a 30-year mortgage, with the 30th, 50th and 70th percentile members buying a three-room, four-room, and five-room BTO flat respectively. The couple do not upgrade to a larger home.

In the study, a male at the 50th percentile earns $2,500 a month at age 25 (or $3,300 at 70th percentile) and is assumed to reach his peak earnings close to age 55, at $3,860 (or $6,800 at 70th percentile). The 50th-percentile male can replace 70 per cent of his age-55 income after he retires at age 65, the study said (63 per cent for the 70th-percentile male). The numbers for females are slightly lower.

Upon retirement, the median male is thus assumed to get a monthly income of around $2,700, and the 70th percentile male, $4,300. This presumes the entire amount of their retirement savings in the CPF is converted into a life-long annuity, instead of up to the Minimum Sum, as is the current practice. Otherwise, income replacement rates fall drastically.

Thus, the study’s authors said that CPF members with savings above the minimum sum cannot withdraw the lump sum and spend extravagantly. If they want to be able to replace a higher proportion of their income, “they must invest their CPF savings above the minimum sum wisely so as to generate a stream of retirement income to supplement CPF Life payouts”.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={157655219-19765-9502481817}

Here’s the perspective of a flat buyer http://sgyounginvestment.blogspot.sg/2014/02/how-much-money-does-couple-need-to-earn.html

No $ needed: Three fixes to show the PAP really cares

In Political governance on 03/03/2014 at 5:00 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore has to strike a balance between maintaining its competitiveness and caring about the less well-off as it strives to reduce the income gap. (CNA report a few weeks ago: More extracts at end oif article).

And the Budget statement and the spin that the conastructive, nation-building media has been putting on it esp the Pioneer package is along the same lines.

We all know that an election is coming round the corner and we know the PM (remember the 2011 “Sorry”, followed after the GE with massive tpt breakdowns and the population white paper, the latter issued juz before NatCon?)

So PM and the PAP has to walk the walk, not juz talking the talk.

The benefits for the pioneer generation are a gd, if a belatedly and niggardly start. Still got to start sometime and somewhere. It helps the pioneers and their children.and grandchildren who are caring for them**. Here are some things that PM can do to show the govt cares. They cost nothing going by what ministers said when defending these rules.

–Scrap the Medisave limit. It doesn’t cost anything as a minister has admitted but will give S’poreans peace of mind.

Since the inception of Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) in 2005, no IP policyholder has reached his lifetime claim limit.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this in a written reply to a Parliamentary question from Hougang Single-Member Constituency MP Png Eng Huat about the number of Singaporeans who are no longer insurable under MediShield or Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans.

This could be due to exhausted benefits and claim limits upon diagnosis of major illnesses.

Mr Gan said that the MediShield lifetime limit was increased in 2005, and more recently in March last year from S$200,000 to S$300,000. (CNA sometime back)

– Fix the flaw in CPF Life Plans

There is a provision in the law governing the CPF Life Plans which states that payouts are contingent on the Plans being solvent. This is because premiums that are paid in to get the annuities are pooled and collectively invested. If the plan you chose doesn’t have enough money to pay out, you die. This is unlike the [Minimum Sum] scheme, where account holders are legally entitled to the monies in their CPF accounts … (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/best-cpf-life-plan/). Even if the rules to access these monies make a mockery of the ownership, at least (so far) the beneficiaries can inherit the monies. (Remember that when Roy Ngerng again asserts (as he regularly does) that CPF contributions should be classified as a social security tax. He would wouldn’t he? He thinks the PAP is oppressing us, even though as a critic and  self-outed gay, ISD is ignoring him.)

The government has said the provision on solvency is only a precaution unlikely ever  to be used. If so, why have it? Again, this is a peace of mind issue. It was again Gan who made this assurance when he was MoM.

Finally,  the PM should apologise for VivianB’s sneer at the elderly poor all those yrs ago

Or make him make a fulsome apology.Even ex-Red Guards are apologising for their actions in the Cultural Revolution.

Even if … made amends for selfish or political reasons, their words and gestures are still important, says [a historian]. “It is still better than those who refuse to repent until they die. The conflict and hatred should be solved. The nation must move forward.”

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2014/02/apologising-cultural-revolution)

Why, I am I not asking him to be sacked? He is actually a gd environment minister. For starters, there are no more 50-yr floods***. Secondly, in my area (Marine Parade, East Coast), there are now regular cutting of shrubs and grass at empty plots of land and along pathways. There is also an attempt to ensure that in spots where ponding regularly occurs after the rain: attempts are made to fill in the spots and re vegetate them. Yaacob and his French cook of a chef never bothered.

And Vivian did get the Indons to do something about the haze by practicising megaphone diplomacy http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/. Yaacob was sensitive to Indonesians’ attitude to S’pore and kept quiet: he always liddat. Took PM to rebuke his dad on Malay integration. Yaacob muttered, “Worse case scenario”.

*He made the comment in an interview with China’s New Century — a magazine by Beijing-based media group Caixin — which was published a few Mondays ago.

Mr Lee said there is a need to keep a balance between the yin, which he described as caring for one another, and the yang, which is the “competitive element that drives the society forward”.

“If you go too much towards competitiveness, you lose that cohesion and sense of being Singaporeans together,” Mr Lee said.

“If we go… the other way and say, well, we don’t compete… I think we will all be losers.”

He acknowledged that the competitive environment in Singapore is getting fiercer and conditions are getting more challenging for middle and lower-income groups in many societies.

Alluding to the concept of yin and yang, he said Singapore needs to do more to “tilt the balance towards the yin side” — the element of care and concern for others.

This means greater help for the low-income groups as well as keeping society more open, so that the people who have talent can move up and will not be daunted by the gaps in incomes between the rich and poor, which is what Singapore has been doing, he added.

In reply to a question, Mr Lee acknowledged that while the income gap in Singapore is wider than most other countries, it was not as wide when compared to other cities.

But rather than bringing those in the higher income bracket down, he said it is important to focus on levelling-up the wider population.

He also said Singaporeans have to stay connected to the rest of the world, particularly the Asian region as it offers many opportunities.

Describing Singaporeans as hardworking and talented, he said: “I think the best way to make use of their talents and their abilities is not just to confine (them) within Singapore, but to connect to what’s happening around us.

“So if a company sets up an operation in Singapore, it’s not just for our market, but for the region.

“And if our people have abilities as managers and leaders, they can be managers and leaders not just in Singapore, but they can go out and there are many operations, many companies all over the region which will find a good Asian executive a very considerable asset.”

Prime Minister Lee believes as society changes, so too will Singapore’s political structure, as he cited how it has evolved over the years.

He said: “I think as we go forward, we will probably have to make further adjustments, surely, because our society will change.

“I believe that there will be a greater degree of competition, there will be a greater desire of Singaporeans to participate in the political process. And we ought to accommodate that, because it’s good that Singaporeans care about the affairs of the country and which way Singapore is going.

“But whatever we change, we still want a system where you encourage good people to come forward — you encourage voters to elect people who will represent their interests well, and you encourage the government to act in a way which will take the long-term interests of the country at heart.

“And that’s not easy to do.”

**A constructive suggestion: “Will eldercare be as common as childcare?” (BBC Online)

***OK it hasn’t been raining.

Back to the future: LKY, Dr Chee & the SDP agree on …

In Political governance, Public Administration on 26/02/2014 at 4:28 am

One LKY in 1957 said in the legislative assembly :

For cheap labour, they [the British] allowed unrestricted immigration without any plan, without any policy and without any intention of creating or preserving the self. I do not condemn the immigration as such, but I condemn the government which has no regard for the people of the country who have been assimilated and did not bother to educate or to provide education for those coming in. Today, with the renaissance of the motherland of each of the immigration groups, chauvinist tendencies are incited. Yet at this critical juncture we have to call upon these immigrants to give this country their undivided loyalty.

(S’pore Notes: http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2014/02/the-wit-wisdom-of-lee-kuan-yew.html)

In 2013, at Hong Lim Green (the people’s parly?), Dr Chee said, “A word of caution, I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”, can be simplified to “We disagree with the govt’s pro-FT policy, not the foreigners working here. We are unhappy with the “FTs first, citizens last” attitude of the govt because …”  http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/easy-to-avoid-xenophobe-label/

Dr Chee got CIA time machine? Went back in time to influence LKY?

Seriously, by raising the issue of the PAP’s govt immigration policies on S’pore society, Dr Chee, the SDP and many others are juz reflecting what LKY tot in 1957.

After all, S’pore could be returning to a similar situation to that in 1957. In 2013, I wrote: A Citigroup report noted that the White Paper projects the dilution of Singapore-born citizens from 62% of the population to just 55% in 2030 based on number of new FT citizens that the govt plans to bring in projects to come in naturally: 15,000 – 25,000 annually.

In 1959, according to Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962) only 270,00 out of the 600,000 voters were born here i.e. there only 45% of the voters were born here. The rest were the FT “new” citizens of the day. (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/population-white-paper-2030-will-resemble-1959/)

Just a few “honest mistakes” by Home Team officers (we know that they can be unfit for purpose: recent riot*and border and internal security**, etc***) and in 2030 the voters born here could be 45%, not 55% juz like in 1959 (two yrs after LKY made the above statement. In all probability, in 1957, true blue S’poreans were 45% of the voters.

—–

*“The police had arrived,” Mr Selvam said. “They stood there and did nothing. Ah, the police approve of what I am doing,” he said, suggesting what the rioters would or might have been thinking then, as they continued to hurl projectiles at the bus and at the officers, and eventually setting security vehicles and an ambulance on fire.

“[The rioters] had full freedom to do what they wanted – namely, to burn the bus, burn the vehicles, attack you,” the former judge said.

“A lot of things were wrong,” Mr Tee said. “Are you showing weakness and emboldened them? That could be the reason why they became more violent.”

Mr Selvam said, “They were rioting. What did you do?” [Former Supreme Court judge G. Pannir Selvam is the COI's chairman, while former Police Commissioner Tee Tua Ba, is a member of the COI] )

**http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2014/01/could-have-been-worse.html

***All the problems at Home Team over recent yrs (corruption, Ang Moh tua kee attitude, PR status for possible criminals etc etc) show that it was badly run when Wong Kan Seng was the Home minister. There should be a claw-back of the millions he earned as a minister.

Accounts: PA fixed, WP got fixed?

In Corporate governance, Political governance on 24/02/2014 at 5:24 am

The usual suspects and other anti-PAP netizens are outraged that Khaw’s ministry has highlighted various concerns regarding the auditor’s report on the financial statements of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) for Financial Year 2012, and Tharman has gotten the Auditor-General to investigate the matter, while no-one in govt is investigating why the PA’s “auditors have been giving an “adverse opinion” on the financial reports from the People’s Association (PA) for several years now.” http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/20/breaking-auditors-give-adverse-ratings-to-pas-financial-reports/

I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of the AHTC’s accounts because we will soon know the truth*, except tthat I found it puzzling that Auntie said bar one concern, they were related to handing-over issues. Some were, the others were not, even a cursory glance would have shown her, as it did me (both of us are trained lawyers). Anyway let’s wait for the report, though having witnessed at first hand how the AudG audits govt bodies, WP is in for a nasty report. It is hated and feared by the rest of the govt machinery. It works like the ISD: takes no prisoners. AudG is also very petty.

As to the PA’s accounts, I won’t go into details because the issue is one of consolidating accounts** and the PA had given up its row with its auditor and will be consolidating the accounts that the auditor wanted consolidated effective last yr’s accounts, due soon. It had resisted complying since the auditor raised the issue (“Auditor KPMG noted the omission of the financial statements of the community centres and community clubs”).in the accounts for FY 2001.

The usual suspects should be asking if the fixing of the PA’s accounts (WP Low had raised the issue in 2008 and was told to  Foff http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/02/low-thia-khiangs-question-in-2008-on-pas-adverse-accounts-rating/: there was nothing wrong with the accounts**) and the row over the AHTC’s accounts are linked? Could it be that the decision to fix the way the PA’s accounts are prepared, was done in the expectation that the dysfunctional duo (Auntie and PritamS: remember they are lawyers, not accountants) would have failed to fix the AHTC’s accounts for the second yr in a row. And there could be an opportunity to show the entire WP as dysfunctional? Remember that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and Pritam has shown us repeatedly that he keeps saying or doing the wrong things***. Or is this line of reasoning (fixing to fix) too cynical or too conspiratorial? Even believing that JBJ and friends really won at Cheng San, or that Ong Teng cheong lost the presidential elections is more believable?

Seriously, in thinking about the row on the audit reports, I hope readers remember the wise words of Low.  TOC reported that Low is also extremely “confident” that none of the Town Council’s funds were lost, and that there was no involvement of any form of illegal payment or transaction.”

WP Low got the issue absolutely right. It’s all about whether any funds were lost, and whether  there was “any form of illegal payment or transaction”, not whether he PA’s or AHTC’s accounts get clean audit reports, ’cause they do the “right” things. Audit reports are very impt, but they are maps not the reality.  The auditor gave Enron a clean audit report. Both are history. 

They should also take into account the following comments:

–  I think overall audit standards are tightening. What passed as ok earlier is not acceptable anymore (unless we have a serious case of casting with closed eyes). Seeing how liable for professional negligence auditors can be, no one is going to ruin their rice bowl any time soon unless they’re really old and ready to be disbarred. (Facebook poster)

As somebody who has been audited many times and qualified as an accountant, I am also breathless with admiration how so many capable and intelligent people can deliver so little value to society. Most big four accountants are capable individuals but put them together and they seem incapable of delivering anything of value to companies.  (A FT reader on a FT article on accountants)

I’ll leave with a wicked tot. Low has said he is “not an accountant”. Remember he said he was “not a private investigator (remember  http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/lol-expelling-yaw-took-courage/?). So will he, one day, tell tell us he is not a manager when Auntie’s and Pritam’s dysfunctionality finally causes the WP serious damage, and they have to move on from the WP like Yaw?

*Though I sure if the AudG sides with the MND, the usual suspects and groupies will be accusing AuditorG of being biased. When that happens, I hope they will then stop using AudG’s reports against the govt. Can’t suka suka use favourable reports, not unfavourables. After all, they claim not to be like the PAP govt: who is happy to use TI’s figures when it praises S’pore and slimes it when its figures slime S’pore http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/19/dr-ng-condemns-tis-defence-spending-rating-for-sg/. If the government finds TI not to be credible {on defence procurement issues] as Dr Ng has alleged in Parliament, perhaps the government should stop using TI’s rankings and surveys altogether.

For a start perhaps, CPIB could stop using TI’s rankings on its website. Presently, it prominently displays TI’s CPI on its home page [Link]:

**As regards PA’s non-consolidation of grassroots organisations’ accounts, the auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has qualified the financial statements of People’s Association on the basis that the accounts of the grassroots organisations were not consolidated. PA’s view is that the accounts of grassroots organisations should not be consolidated for the following reasons.

Firstly, the funds in these accounts belong to the grassroots organisations. Secondly, the Government grants and the cost of staff support are already accounted for in PA’s financial statements. Thirdly, the grassroots organisations are operationally self-funding through revenues from activities, courses and donations. Fourthly, the grassroots organisations decide on how their money should be spent for the benefit of the residents. And, finally, proper procurement procedures, financial control and good corporate governance practices apply to the grassroots organisations.

***Think

– his “coalition with the PAP” comment;

– planning footie on PAP MPs’ team:

– silly slip that only a lawyer buruk would make http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/c-wps-performance-during-the-budget-debate/

– Hawkergate: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/low-shows-the-usefulness-of-non-action/

Strong legacy of forgotten dissident & party

In Political governance on 21/02/2014 at 6:09 am

I feel the need* to remind readers about Lee Siew Choh, a dissident that even LKY, no sufferer of fools, respected**. Ironically, while he may be forgotten, and the party he helped found no longer exists, their legacy lives on, troubling the PAP’s hegemony. LKY’s respect is well-founded.

We all know all about that lion, and the reviver of opposition politics, JBJ, but who remembers Lee Siew Choh? The name doesn’t ring a bell among many younger S’poreans. And even people like me get their recollections of him muddled. Example: even though he was a medical doctor and studied at one of KL’s leading English language schools, I tend to think of him as Chinese-educated.

The basic, factual info about him can be found at NLB’s  Singapore Infopedia, a very useful site on things S’porean. (Sorry can’t link to the article ’cause NLB says must get its permission***. I don’t want AG to prosecute me, but where got time to ask permission to publicise an NLB product on a not-for-profit blog? Seriously, getting permission to link is so totalitarian or Big Brotherish. But then librarians are worse than teachers, policepersons and PAPpies in their authoritarian, “must have our permission” instincts. I was one in RI.)

Sorry, back to Lee. Part of his early life reads like an adventure and romance novel or film script. Born in KL, he came here to study medicine. He married a nurse he met at KK Hospital. Shortly after his marriage, in 1942, the Japanese sent him to work (as a doctor) on the infamous railway*** *made famous by the movie Bridge on the River Kwai.

You’d have tot that when he got back alive, he’d focus on getting rich and spending time with his wife. Well he did set up a medical practice at Hill St and they had three children. But he was a socialist who wanted Malayan and S’porean independence from the British.

One Dr Goh Keng Swee suggested he join the PAP: big mistake for him and the PAP. A yr after joining, in 1959, he was elected as Legislative Assemblyman for Queenstown. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Affairs Ministry in 1960. He was a coming PAP man. He might have even made it into the book “Lee’s “Lieutenants”*****.

But in 1961, Dr Lee and 12 other PAP assemblymen and other leading PAP members  (35 of the 51 branches of PAP and 19 of its 23 organising secretaries) broke away from the PAP over differences with LKY and the other “conservative” PAP leaders over the proposed merger with Malaya. They formed the Barisan Sosialis with Dr Lee as the chairman. There were heated rows in the Assembly: WP should study what the BSoc did there to see how to hold the PAP govt to account: no co-driver BS. In 1961, he made the longest speech in the history of the Legislative Assembly: seven hours on the subject of Singapore’s proposed merger with Malaya. I don’t think this record has been bettered after S’pore became independent.

Anyway, the decision to form Malaysia was made (There was a referendum where voters had to vote for some of merger, rejection was not an available option, not even casting a blank vote as the BSoc recommended: blank votes were deemed to be votes in favour of LKY’s preferred option), but BSoc continued to oppose the PAP govt on merger. And on other things too: like workers’ rights and welfare. They were to the left of the PAP (who remember called themselves “socialists”). So far left of the PAP, that when the PAP called them “communists”, the label tended to stick.

In 1963,  Operation Coldstore removed from politics (by detaining them under the ISA) many of the leaders of the BSoc, a few months before the 1963 general elections (Some for our PM to learn from?). Dr Lee was not arrested but the following senior party officials were

Lim Chin Siong, secretary-general (like in the PAP, this was the most powerful post)

– S Woodhull, vice-chairman

– Fong Swee Suan, executive committee member

– Dominic Puthucheary, committee member

Many members were arrested too (e.g. Dr Lin Hock Siew.)

Lee led the party in the 1963 elections, in which they won 13 of the 51 seats. But he lost his contest with Dr Toh Chin Chye by a handful of votes. BSoc won 33.2% of popular votes but won only a quarter of the seats. The PAP won 37 seats with about 47% of the popular vote. The BSoc claimed they were cheated of victory. While they couldn’t prove the allegations, it is a fact (not a Hard Truth) that anti-PAP vote was split, with multi-cornered fights.

Even though the BSoc was proven right on M’sia (it didn’t work did it?), and S’pore left M’sia in 1965, sadly for S’porean democracy, BSoc in a fit of collective madness boycotted the first post-independence parliament, and general election in 1968, allowing the PAP to win all 51 of the seats in Parliament. Lee apologised to S’poreans for this collective mistake by the party in a 1980 election campaign speech. But to be fair to BSoc, the ISD was arresting members (think Chia Thye Poh, an MP) between 1965 and 1968, so one can understand BSoc’s decision.

The party never regained a meaningful role in politics after 1968, and in 1988, the party merged with the WP that JBJ had by then revived.

At the 1988 general election, Lee stood as a WP candidate in the Eunos GRC and the WP lost very narrowly to the PAP. As the WP was eligible to nominate two members of its team from Eunos to become Non-constituency MPs, the WP nominated Lee and Francis Seow to become NCMPs. Seow fled before he could take up his NCMP seat: he wanted to avoid income tax evasion charges, alleging the charges were politically motivated. Lee became Singapore’s first-ever NCMP. In Parliament, he raised issues  of justice including the ISA, cost of living and welfare.

Lee again stood in Eunos GRC in 1991, the WP again losing narrowly. However no NCMP seats were offered as the opposition parties won a total of four elected seats. Sadly two of the SDP MPs turned out to be clowns. Lee would have made a better opposition MP. He, Chiam and JBJ would have been a formidable trio.

Lee left the WP in 1996, saying he had differences with JBJ. What these were were never made public.

As to his legacy? Here are some tentative musings. The areas where the WP holds power is where the BSoc had its power base. Hougang was a BSoc stronghold and the ex-BSoc team there worked for Low and formed his power base. After he became Sec-Gen of the WP, the WP changed from a group of bicycle thieves, ex-Woodbridge patients, opportunists and “JBJ is always right” groupies held together by JBJ’s charisma (though not his organisational skills) into the disciplined, serious-minded force that it is today, PritamS notwithstanding.

The people that helped Low do this were former BSoc cadres and other activists from the Punggol area. I may not respect the WP’s attempts to hold the PAP govt to account as self-appointed co-driver, but I respect the discipline, purposefulness and hard work that enabled the WP to win a GRC and two SMCs, and nearly winning a third. And attracting members of the calibre of Chen Show Mao and JJ. Too bad about Pritam though.

While today’s WP is no longer the WP of JBJ (for which S’poreans should be grateful), one could argue that today’s WP is BSoc reincarnated. Even WP’s cautious stance, it could be argued, can be traced to the WP leaders wanting to avoid the mistakes BSoc made. Example: It was easy for the PAP to demonise the BSoc as “communist” because activists used the language of people like Mao: “class struggle”, “revolution” etc.

——————————–

“When I opened a copy of my friend’s latest book “Dissident Voices”, and saw the dissidents featured (Lim Chin Siong, Catherine Lim, Ong Eng Guan, David Marshall, Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew, Said Zahari, Tan Wah Piow, Francis Seow and Vincent Cheng Lim), I tot how come no JBJ and Lee Siew Choh? After all, they too stood firm on their convictions despite the odds. And they too paid a heavy toll for their beliefs … But they never broke. In fact, Catherine Lim is a nobody when compared to those giants, JBJ and Lee.” ‘

When we met, he explained to me that he and Marshall Cavendish (the publisher) had agreed a tentative list of names. More than one book was needed to do justice to the names on the list.. The author thought the subjects he chose for the book “S’pore Dissidents” would resonate more with readers who wanted to know more about personalities who dared to be different – and paid a price. There are plans for another volume to cover JBJ and Lee Siew Choh for sure.”

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/dissident-voices/)

**Part of ST’s report on death of Dr Lee in July 2002:

Recalling that, the Senior Minister wrote [to his widow]: ‘It altered the course of
his life, and the part he played in Singapore’s politics helped change
the course of history.’

Despite their strong political differences, Mr Lee felt ‘no personal
animosity’ towards the opposition leader.

‘In many ways he was a likeable man; he was open and transparent if
somewhat impulsive; he had a sense of humour, and often laughed at
what he was saying,’ added SM Lee.

‘And I felt partly to blame for getting him involved in a field not
his forte. So I was glad that he accepted my invitation for both of
you to accompany my wife and me on our 10-day visit to China in
October 1990.’

***You also may not, without the permission of NLB DIGITAL LIBRARY, insert a hyperlink to this website on any other website or “mirror” any Material contained on this website on any other server.

****The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

*****Incidentally, the implication of the title is that they were LKY’s subordinates. While they regarded him as the leader of the pack, the evidence shows he was regarded as merely first among equals to the likes of Dr Goh, Toh Chin Chye, Baker, Lim Kim San. It wasn’t like the master slave relationship that LKY had with GCT, Dharnabalan, Wong Kan Seng and others. .

Zorro & PA make PM look stupid, cheap-skate, ill-mannered & ungracious

In Political governance on 12/02/2014 at 4:50 am

(Or “PA trying to show that it is no PAP stooge?”)

Tot Cheap, Cheapo Quick Zorro is a minister in PMO, the deputy chairman of the PA,  and that PA and the PAP are one and the same? Think again, with people like Zorro and other senior PA managerss, who needs enemies, the PM (and chairman of PA) must be wondering. PM may also be wondering if Zorro and other clowns manager at PA are trying to fix him or that they showing S’poreans that they are not part of the PAP machine.

Still laughing at Zorro Lim’s explanation of why ex-presidential TCB was “un-invited” from an Istana function organised by the PA. And at his petulance in being upset that Dr Tan made the un-invitation public*:  Mr Tan Cheng Bock is just informing his followers and friends on facebook.
Cannot meh? (TRE reader)

Wouldn’t it have been easier (i.e. less damaging to PM, Zorro personally, the govt, the PAP and the PA) once the balls-up was discovered for Lim to say to his staff, “As our sister Jos said We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One: but more careful. Make sure the correct list is used next yr. As for this year, let the invitations stand. Order more food. No budget? Juz cut activities in WP areas. Make the residents there repent. We don’t want PAP voters and neutral S’poreans to think we are ill-mannered: badly brought up by our parents.”

Instead, he called all those wrongly invited to dis-invite them (Wonder how many? Any Oppo GE 2011 canidates? Think Ben Pwee and SDP’s Dr Ang). Surely on a cost-benefit analysis, this was a waste of his valuable time**? Particularly given the PR damage if this dis-invitation was made public? In the age of social media, disclosure must be presumed.

As it is, one TRE reader voiced what is on many minds (self-included)

I think the whole episode of “uninviting Lim Cheng Bock came out badly” in the eyes of many Singaporeans. It showed clearly as long as someone is against the PAP, they do not deserve to be a Singaporean, notwithstanding his or her past contributions to nation building. At least I view it this way as a Singaporean from this episode. Because Tan Cheng Bock, an ex PAP member dared to stand up against the current PAP policies, it seems he is more an outlaw today, and whatever credit he chalked up in sacrificing his youthful years in nation building became a zero and does not deserve any recognition at all***.

He or she goes on to make some very valid points:

Secondly, with Lim Swee Say’s explanation, it also reflected badly on the PA as an organization. It looks like in coming up with the first list of invitees, they did not even know exactly what criteria to use to come up with the selected people for the Istana Party. All these days with the PM loudspeaking his sincere wish to recognize the first generation people who contributed to our nation building, it looks like at the end the selection was morely likely based on a preferred list, which is not surprising at all. Woe betide once again!

Thirdly, Lim Swee Say came across as unconvincing at all, especially when he is also the Labour Chief who needs to have a heart full of empathy in the first place. But by executing the order to uninvite a fellow Singaporean who was already invited, it just reflects clearly that our leadership is uncompassionate and also unkind. Even if the case was not about Tan Cheng Bock per se, but if any ordinary Singaporean who got invited to the Istana to be informed later that he was univited because of an error, have the government given any thought on how the affected person would feel. He or she could have already announced to all the friends that he was invited by the PM for the Istana Party.***

Given the above logic, Tan Cheng Bock has every right to make a comment on how he really felt about the matter. Does Lim Swee Say expect Tan Cheng Bock to challenge the decree when it was announced to him over the phone? Cheng Bock has to accept it as a gentleman but does it mean he has bought into the explanation which is a lousy one in the first place. So my advice to Swee Say, just shut up!

And it’s not only netizens. This appeared in MediaCorp’s freesheet:

Aileen Tan Ai Ker

Published: 10 February, 4:06 AM

I refer to the report “Cheng Bock invited to Istana party ‘by mistake’” (Feb 8). Invitations are traditionally, even now, sent because the host wishes to have the company of the guest.

No one sends an invitation and retracts it, especially after it has been accepted. This is unacceptable in any culture, by any social standard. It is a question of “face” and emotional quotient. Similarly, a guest should have basic, reasonable emotional intelligence to decline an invitation if he or she feels awkward or is on unfriendly terms with the host.

In this instance, former Member of Parliament and presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock received and accepted the invitation.

The People’s Association (PA) should have been sensitive and exercised discretion to host him and those guests whom they considered were invited by mistake.

An old invitation list was used, despite today’s database management technology. It would have been smarter to bear the brunt of this and be graceful. The cost of hosting them would probably have been negligible.

Instead, the episode reflects badly on the PA, which deals with the grassroots and Singaporeans in general.

We expect more sensitivity than a simple apology after making a mistake. EQ training might help prevent a repeat.

Update: Related article: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/08/pap-in-stage-3-to-4-of-decline/

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*He implies that since Dr Tan accepted the dis-invitation, he should juz sit down and shut up. A TRE reader pointed out: Mr Lim SS, Dr Tan may accept your explanation. He may not necessarily agree with or support your explanation. He has not explicitly say that he agrees with your explanation. Example : I may accept the price of NTUC goods/products however I may not support it. So Dr Tan has the rights to provide his side of the story. Remember he has his grassroots supporters to explain to. So if you have nothing to hide, Mr Lim why be do defensive.

**Remember he needs time to read his specially prepared monthly CPF statement, and to borrow toothpicks from a certain place.

***It is not about the invite – it is about some small- minded people who felt threatened by his presence. By 0.35 % margin! Dr. Tan will be the one sending out the list. Now he is pariah!

Shame on the PAP. (Another TRE reader)

****But the important things is this – if an invitation has been extended, you honour it and follow through with it. And if you have to have a longer guest list and cater more food as a result of this, then so be it. Making things right in situations like this is to honour what the Government has done. Updating the list and uninviting people is not making things right, and in fact is not right and making things worse.

It is disappointing that you would stand by and approve of this kind of conduct. Is this the ethos PA goes by?

Don’t highly qualified people in the civil service understand what it means to do the right thing in human relationships? (Yet another TRE reader)

Bring back Super Mah?

In Political governance, Property, Public Administration on 10/02/2014 at 4:52 am

If the PM brings back Mah, the minister who made sure HDB prices rose in a recession*, this Forum writer should be very, very happy about. HDB prices not falling. But to be fair to this idiot KS S’porean, P Ravi has empathy for the sentiments expressed.Still that doesn’t excuse his sense of entitlement.

Can Govt ensure HDB flats keep their value over time?

There have been recent reports on the falling prices of Housing Board resale flats (“First HDB resale price dip since 2005″, Jan 25; and “Resale flat prices not yet at ‘steady state’”; last Sunday)

The number of resale transactions has fallen considerably and we are seeing some negative cash-over-valuation deals.

Despite this, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says a “steady state” has yet to be reached and that home buyers should welcome the softening prices of HDB resale flats.

A few years ago, I took part in several flat balloting exercises as a first-time buyer. I was not successful and had to pay a steep price for a resale flat.

Then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan had said flat owners would benefit from rising prices because their homes would become more valuable.

There is certainly a need to ensure flat buyers are not disadvantaged by overly high prices.

But it is equally imperative that due consideration be given to flat owners, so they will not suffer a loss in the value of their homes over time. Are there measures to ensure this will not happen?

Chan Kwang Ping

P Ravi on Facebook commenting on the above, “People cannot be faulted for buying a flat even when the price is high and it is the sellers’ market, because whatever the market condition, people still need a house to live in. When people’s retirement fund are stuck in the house they own, such sentiments are understandable.”

What do you think?

And do you think he he will vote for WP? Maybe as WP has promised that it will only be PAP’s co-driver, a co-driver that will let PAP do as its like (OK! OK! WP says will slap PAP if it makes mistakes. But it only gets worked up when NEA, PA and PAP make trouble for WP: not when PAP makes trouble for S’poreans.). Will he vote RP or NSP? Err I don’t think he that stupid.

Will he vote SDP? I hope so (even if I think that its policy of crawling to the Indons doesn’t work), but doubt it as SDP wants to cut the link between investment for retirement and public housing.  A laudable, rational aim, but a tough sell when so many S’poreans are taking 25 yrs to pay off 99-yr HDB leases (About 87% of S’poreans live in HDB flata). Besides these leases have been a gd investment on paper (but useless as security), so far. Hmm maybe SDP should stress these flaws.

Khaw should say, “Vote PAP leh”.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/hdb-oversupply-again-by-next-ge/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/consequences-of-khaws-hdb-policies/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/hdb-affordability-and-market-based-land-costs-redefined/

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*http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/property-prices-going-against-natural-laws/

What PM should say this Sunday?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 07/02/2014 at 5:11 am

“Sorry”. For what specifically you may ask? There are many things the PAP should repent for after all.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will announce the details of the Pioneer Generation Package on Sunday. Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said the package will take care of the seniors for the rest of their time as Singaporeans.

Mr Chan said: “It is not about giving them something for one year and that’s it. It is more than that. It is a package… to take care of them for the rest of their time as Singaporeans, and the rest of the time they are with us.

“We want to make this commitment because it is a testimony to what we believe as a nation, that as the Chinese say, ‘yin shui si yuan’, (meaning) when we drink from the well, we will remember the source.”

Mr Chan was speaking at a Lunar New Year dinner for residents from Tanjong Pagar GRC.

He added that a key focus of the package will be on healthcare costs, noting that this will help those who are taking care of the pioneer generation.

Mr Chan said: “And we also understand that for many younger parents, the younger generation people who are supporting the pioneer generation, that healthcare has been a main focus for them.

“And because of this, we will focus the first step of the Pioneer Generation Package on giving the pioneer generation and their families a sense of assurance that their healthcare (needs) will be taken care of by the society as a whole.” CNA

Of course the devil is in the details, and it could be juz spin. But I’ll give the PAP and the govt the benefit of the doubt ’cause the general election is round the corner: 2015 is my prediction.

Here’s a constructive, nation-building, and vote-winning suggestion for the PAP: If the PM really wants to show his sincerity, he should, on behalf of the cabinet, apologise to the pioneer generation for his then welfare’s minister’s sneering words aimed at the unfortunate members of the pioneer generation.

Dr Lily Neo:

Sir, I want to check with the Minister again when he said on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of “subsistence living”? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan:

How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

To add insult to the pain of this slap, said minister was overspending on his pet project: the Kiddie Games: S$387m (more than 3x the estimated S$122m). To be fair, the original budgets of these kinds of events are always works of fiction. The sponsors always keep demanding more, while the organisers always underestimate: ome reason why it seems one LKY never had S’pore bid for such prestige events.

The minister did not apologise. Nor did the PM or any other minister rebuke the minister in public or disown his remarks: though to be fair to the govt, Lily Neo did get her wish: there was a relatively big increase later. This could be the govt repenting privately?

But if it waz private repentance, doing it quietly doesn’t do the PAP any gd. A public apology for the remarks made by that rich, privileged  ACS kid would be a gd start to the PAP’s GE campaign, showing that it really, really appreciates the pioneer generation. It should because its intl’ reputation as a successful govt, and grip on power owe much to the pioneer generation willingness to “eat bitter”, something that their children (increasingly) and grandchildren (100%) are unwilling to do anymore.  Blame, partially, the mega-rise in ministerial salaries in the 90s. Only partially because better education and the internet have led them to expect more from the govt. On its part the PAP failed to keep the basics affordable: look at the cost of education, public tpt and public housing. On healthcare, decent healthcare has always been expensive.

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