At the end of this piece is something TRE put up to advertise a SingFirst talk on the reserves (held0last Saturday). I commend it for yr reading mainly because it introduces Chris Kuan, someone whose work on helping us understand the reserves and CPF Life I’ve praised.
S/o JBJ (one of the speakers) responded to TRE
August 14, 2015 at 10:27 am (Quote)
“Kenneth Jeyaretnam, understandably, is busy preparing for the upcoming general election.”
This is Kenneth Jeyaretnam here and no-one from TRE has made any attempt to contact me. Could the author of this provide any evidence of any attempt to contact me to contribute to the article?
Wouldn’t it have been more balanced to put in a section for one of the very many, many blog articles I have written for http://www.sonofadud.com and given TRE permission to re-publish?
All I can say is how very PAP of you to make sure I am sidelined.
TRE Editor: Dear KJ,
We emailed you on 5 August under the subject “Forum to talk on reserves”. We did not receive a reply from you and thought that you must be quite busy with the GE.
As the forum will be held tomorrow (15 Aug), we had to publish the article latest today (14 Aug).
If you can email us a short write-up on what motivates you to speak about the reserves, we will be most happy to update the article.
To date he hasn’t responded to TRE.
Get a life Kenneth J.
TRE is doing more for the Oppo cause than you ever can. Remember who tried to fix the Oppo (and lost his deposit). One s/o JBJ.
I’m not the the only person who am disgusted with his sense of entitlement.
@ Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Your huff and puff response to the TRE team is yet another reason why you are unelectable. You do not have your father’s common touch and ironically just like LH*, you seems to have your own sense of entitlement.
You need to remind yourself that TRE has done wonders to counter the MSM and it is being run by volunteers who obviously do not have your wealth. If you cannot even have a proper sense of proportion, then how can you even connect with the voters?
You expect to walk into Parliament becos of your economic expertise and your pedigree? Come on, man, you need to win and you are not going to win if this is how you treat people on your own side.
Sigh……. reading KJ’s attacking TRE confirm that Singfirst is the much better party to contest in our GRC. How can we vote for such a person, party leader some more – attacking TRE who has done so much to expose the government and give us alternative opinions. Maybe even his own mistake not checking his email. Alamak ! How lah ! Don’t want to vote PAP, can’t vote for this type of opposition.
Did you know At the last general election Mr Jeyaretnam would go around with a party member/volunteer and they would go up to people, with the member/volunteer introducing Mr Jeyaretnam to residents with this line: “Hello, this is Kenneth Jeyaretnam, J.B. Jeyaretnam’s son.”
The writer could have added that he would avoid looking into the eyes of residents as they acknowledged him. Too atas isit, s/o JBJ?
SingFirst has invited 3 speakers to speak on Singapore’s national reserves at its 3rd Public Forum tomorrow (15 Aug).
The 3 prominent Singaporeans will speak on their concerns regarding our national reserves. They are:
- Chris Kuan, retired international banker: How much reserves does Singapore have? What is the relationship between reserves, budget surpluses and CPF savings? What returns have they earned? How much of these returns comes from investing our CPF savings?
- Leong Sze Hian, financial analyst and statistician: What is the difference between the returns on CPF savings that GIC has earned from investing them and the returns that CPF members are given by the government? What is the practice of pension funds outside Singapore e.g. Malaysia’s EPF? Have Singaporeans been shortchanged?
- Kenneth Jeyaretnam, economist and Secretary-General of the Reform Party: Are Singaporeans over-taxed and under-provided for? Don’t we deserve more?
All 3 regularly blog and talk about financial matters online. They have contributed many articles to TRE in the past, and continue to do so.
TRE was able to catch up with Chris Kuan and Leong Sze Hian to find out why they are so passionate about our reserves. Kenneth Jeyaretnam, understandably, is busy preparing for the upcoming general election.
TRE interviewed Chris recently:
TRE: Chris, what brings you to write extensively about the reserves?
Chris: Funny that you should ask this. I met your Chief Editor, Richard Wan, over lunch more than a year and a half ago. He asked if I could look into what he called a very hot issue.
TRE: You seem eminently qualified to do this, can you tell us about your experience and training?
Chris: Well, I regret to disappoint you but I never attended university nor had a diploma or professional qualifications. I did work 34 years in the financial markets – the majority in London and Tokyo where I gathered very extensive experience perhaps not available in SG and had good bosses. In the last 10 years I headed capital markets and treasury for the Asia-Pacific region.
TRE: You seem very persistent in analysing Singapore’s reserves, what motivates you?
Chris: A lot of things really. At first I took it as a challenge and to help the man in the street to understand a bit more about the reserves. As my research took me further into the subject, not least being urged by helpful TRE readers who asked me to look into this or comment about that, I began to realise the enormous socio-economic costs to the ordinary citizens in the government’s relentless accumulation of reserves. I strongly believe that the citizens have a right to know because those reserves impose huge burdens on them.
TRE: Do you need to be an expert to analyse the reserves?
Chris: Not really. I am not really one myself. Some background in reading balance sheets and analysing simple portfolio metrics will be very helpful. Also need to keep a level head and not overreach or jump to a pre-conceived answer. I learned to avoid that the hard way when I was young and foolish, haha.
TRE: It cannot be easy?
Chris: No, no, not easy at all. Digging out the information and trying to make sense of it is the tough bit. I went up a few blind alleys, mostly because the government, i.e. the MOF (Ministry of Finance), the ministers and the SWFs (sovereign wealth funds i.e. GIC and Temasek Holdings) were very inconsistent about what they say about the reserves. Prime example is at first GIC did not manage CPF and then GIC did.
TRE: Why is that so?
Chris: I always believe that when there is non-transparency and non-accountability, government tends to become indolent or lazy about the way they disclose information.
TRE: What do you hope to gain out of this?
Chris: Finance and economics I always believe are the most important factors in politics. We say let’s do more for the poor, let’s un-squeeze the “squeezed middle” – these are socially just, commendable goals but ultimately the finance and the economics need to align to deliver these goals. And I like to say that finance and economics have a wide range of nuances, interpretations and outcomes: some good, some bad and nearly always the good cannot be had without the bad or what I often call trade-offs.
TRE: So there must be alternative views?
Chris: Yes we must. It is too important not to. A bunch of scholars trained in the PAP’s right-wing thinking and another bunch brought up in centrist or left-of-centre social market will come up with different solutions to the same socioeconomic problems. Unfortunately, in Singapore, the public is informed only of one narrative without any alternatives. Social media is very important.
TRE: How are you connected to SingFirst?
Chris: Well, Tan Jee Say and I exchanged a few emails on the subject. He invited me to the forum. I was reluctant to attend at first because the timing was inconvenient. But then Richard Wan convinced me of the need to do National Service again, haha.
TRE: Are you standing for election?
Chris: Heavens no. Don’t think I am MP material. No, personal commitments keep me [away] from Singapore. I do my part by helping the ordinary people understand the politics of finance and economics.
When TRE asked Leong Sze Hian why he is so passionate about our reserves, he emailed the following to us:
I have written more than a hundred articles relating to the reserves in the last 15 years or so. The fundamental question is why do we need to keep accumulating more reserves?
In this connection, the budget surplus for FY2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 was $2.32, 3.86, 3.92 and -0.13 billion, respectively. In other words, the cumulative budget surplus from FY2011 to 2014 was $9.97 billion.
The budget estimate for FY2015 is a deficit of $6.67 billion, but this is after a $6 billion top-ups to endowment and trust funds, which under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines may not be allowed as an expenditure item.
But the estimated cash budget surplus under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines is more than $24 billion for FY2014, and also more than $20 billion every year in the last five years or so.
So, as you can see, the government reports one thing to the citizens in Parliament but reports another to IMF (under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines).
We need more transparency from the government with regard to our reserves. That is the motivation why I keep pressing on the issue of our reserves, which belongs to Singaporeans and not the government.
At the end of the day, one has to ask – how have the huge reserves benefited the man in the street?
Anyone who wants to know more about Singapore’s reserves can listen to the 3 experts speak at Hotel Royal (36 Newton Road), 2pm tomorrow (15 Aug) – see: 3 speakers at SingFirst forum: SG’s national reserves.
No doubt, Singapore’s reserves are increasingly a hot-button issue as Singaporeans become more politically aware.