We Need to Build a Competitive Economy that will Protect Singaporeans

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We were at Ang Mo Kio early this morning with our volunteers and some residents.

One resident, who said that he is a business owner, shared that business costs have been rising, primarily due to exorbitant rents. This has been a top concern among businesses for some time now.

The resident shared that over the last few years, rents have been increasing by 30% to 40% every year. He said that these few years, the landlord would increase the rents, with a take it or leave it attitude and does not even speak to the tenants beforehand before increasing the rents. But where else could he go, since all the landlords or controlled or in some way related to the PAP government, he asked.

The businesses have no way to negotiate on the rents and have to bite the bullet or move out, which means closing their business. The resident said that the other option these landlords gave were for the tenants to sign contracts with fixed built-in rent increases, but this is also very uncertain as well. If they were to sign such contracts, won’t they lose out if rents were to increase at a lower rate?

In the past, the business owner said, contracts are signed on the basis that they will be honoured and businesses would not have to deal with uncertain rises in rents. But he said that today the landlords with links to the PAP government are only concerned about money, and do not care for the viability of local businesses like his.

The resident explained that this is why many of our Singaporean small and medium-sized businesses have had to close down, and even multinational corporations have had to leave Singapore because of the high costs. But this is unsustainable. How can Singapore sustain on a high-cost approach when even big businesses find it difficult to survive in Singapore?

For the resident, he felt that the way the PAP is doing things is wrong – how can the PAP only focus on profit while not caring for how local businesses can function? He feels that such a sole profit-making mindset is dangerous for Singapore.

Indeed, this is something many of our local businesses have been saying for some time now.

This is why, my fellow candidates at the Ang Mo Kio GRC is proposing to reduce rents to let small and medium-sized businesses have a breather.

Jesse Loo has said that high rents are the key impediment to why local businesses are finding it hard and he believes that rents should be reduced. Similarly, Osman Sulaiman who is a business director for a local firm said the same.

Over the past many years, the PAP has been driving up rents by far too much that this has squeezed out businesses. In order to allow businesses to become competitive again, we need to reduce rents to allow our local businesses to thrive and allow Singapore to grow our own domestic industries which can compete internationally.

The resident also shared with me that the government is earning from the foreign workers, via the foreign worker levies. Don’t blame the foreign workers, he told me. He said that for each foreign worker, the PAP government gets to earn as much as nearly a thousand from each of them, because businesses have to pay foreign worker levies to be able to hire foreign workers.

Indeed, it is known that the PAP government earns several billions in levies from these foreign workers.

But these levies not only hurt the workers, but it hurts the businesses too. First, workers are not able to earn higher wages. Also, businesses have to pay out such foreign worker levies which do not add to the productivity of the workers, but becomes money that is mindlessly given to the government.

Clearly, the foreign worker levy is a bad policy. The business owner told me that he would rather these foreign worker levies be returned to the workers instead.

Indeed, the reason why businesses in Singapore have to depress wages is also because they have to pay such high foreign worker levies and cannot give it to their workers. As such, because foreign workers earn depressed wages, this also causes the wages of Singaporeans to be depressed as well.

Evidently, the foreign worker levy and the cheap labour substitution therefore depresses the wages of Singaporeans and is a bad policy. It has to change.

I told the Ang Mo Kio resident that I agree with him. I said that if the foreign worker levies are returned to the worker, each worker could be earning as much as $2,000. When that happens, many Singaporeans would be willing to do the service jobs that is shunted now because of the low and inadequate wages.

It has been estimated by many that a minimum wage of $1,500 to $2,000 is indeed what is needed for Singaporeans to earn today, to have the most basic living.

And this is what many of our candidates, including me, Gilbert Goh, Jesse and Osman have been campaigning for all these while.

A minimum wage is necessary to protect Singaporeans and to improve our livelihoods.

Not only that, there are real and tangible benefits to our economy. With increased wages and purchasing power, this would enable workers to be able to spend more. The increased domestic consumption will also add to economic growth and benefit the country.

As my fellow candidates Jesse and Osman have also said, much of the economic growth has not gone back to Singaporeans. This is why Singaporeans no longer believe in the growth-at-all-costs model.

As such, our team at the Ang Mo Kio GRC believe that it is time we have a fairer and more equal Singapore, where we return the goods of the country to the people, and where all Singaporeans benefit from the hard work that they have put into bringing Singapore to where it is.

Our team wants to advocate for policies that will protect Singaporeans, that will allow us to earn higher wages, so that we will all be able to live decently and with dignity.

Singapore is today a wealthy nation, on a national level, but as my fellow candidate, Siva Chandran, has said, as long as there are still many Singaporeans living in one- and two-room flats and even bigger-sized flats, who are still struggling and suffering, while having difficulties making ends meet, then Singapore cannot be considered a First World country.

Our team believe that for Singapore to prosper once again as a nation and for Singaporeans to be proud of our country once again, we need to build a Singapore that puts Singaporeans at the heart of it all and where Singaporeans are respected and valued for who we are, as people.

Help Us Raise Funds to Battle in the Ang Mo Kio GRC

Dear Friends and Singaporeans,

Our team will be going into the Ang Mo Kio GRC to contest at the coming general election.

Our team comprises Roy Ngerng, Gilbert Goh, Osman Sulaiman, M Ravi, Jesse Loo and Siva Chandran.

We need your support.

Reform Party Ang Mo Kio GRC Facebook Cover Photo High Resolution

Candidates (from left to right): Roy Ngerng, Gilbert Goh, Osman Sulaiman, M Ravi, Jesse Loo, Siva Chandran

We are a team made of ordinary Singaporeans who have answered the call of duty and taken up the fight alongside Singaporeans.

We are first and foremost Singaporeans and will continue to speak up for Singaporeans, and for one another, so that the lives of all Singaporeans can get better.

From Roy Ngerng who have spoken up on the CPF to Gilbert Goh who have advocated against the 6.9 million Population White Paper to M Ravi who have fought relentlessly for a democratic Singapore, we are a team who have soldiered on despite the challenges.

Among us are Siva Chandran who have worked at the grassroots and have helped many low-income families in Ang Mo Kio and Osman Sulaiman who have advocated for fairer labour policies to protect Singaporeans as well as Jesse Loo who is a former banker, and a husband and father with two school-going children who is concerned about bread and butter issues for Singaporeans.

We will continue to speak up for Singaporeans, on your behalf.

We believe that the time has come for us to have a chance to enter parliament to debate on policies, so that we can create policies that will care for Singaporeans and protect our citizens.

Please Support Us in Our Fight in Ang Mo Kio GRC

We will be putting up a good fight in the Ang Mo Kio GRC, for Singaporeans. Your each and every support matters to us. If you would like to support our fight, please help us raise funds to get into parliament.

The election deposit for each candidate now stands at $14,500. A total of $87,000 in election deposit is needed for us to run in the Ang Mo Kio GRC. This deposit will be refunded if we win more than 12.5% of the votes.

In addition, we would also be raising funds to hold rallies and print more brochures. We plan to hold as many rallies as we can. Each rally is estimated to cost about $10,000 to set up.

We are looking to raise another $50,000 to help us run a solid campaign. If you would like to donate for the election deposit, we would be able to sign IOUs (for the election deposit, do contact us before Sunday 2359 as we would need to prepare the bank drafts on Monday before Nomination Day).

If you would like to donate to the Ang Mo Kio GRC Team, you can donate to the following bank account:

  • DBS Bank Current Account 1000088325 (Gilbert Goh and Roy Ngerng)

You can also contact Gilbert Goh at +65-8127 5075 and Roy Ngerng at +65-9101 2685 directly.

If we are able to receive more support, we would be able to hold more rallies so as to bring up the various issues faced by Singaporeans presently.

We sincerely hope to be able to enter Parliament to speak up for our fellow Singaporeans. Singapore is indeed at a turning point. We have a chance to put things right.

Remember, You have the Power to Change, for a better future.

Please join us to make that change.

Thank you.

Roy, Ravi, Gilbert, Osman, Siva and Jesse
The Ang Mo Kio GRC Team from the Reform Party

P.S. Your support matters to us, and we will do our very best to make this election count.

Announcing the Reform Party Candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC in GE2015

We are the candidates from the Reform Party who will be contesting in the Ang Mo Kio GRC at this coming general election.

Welcome to our team.

Reform Party Ang Mo Kio GRC Facebook Cover Photo High Resolution For Facebook

Candidates (from left to right): Roy Ngerng, Gilbert Goh, Osman Sulaiman, M Ravi, Jesse Loo, Siva Chandran

You can read more about the candidates below:

You can find out more about the Reform Party here.

Jobs: How PAP has Betrayed Singaporeans

The Singapore General Election will be held on 11 September 2015.

Has the current ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), done its job or has it hurt Singaporeans instead?

Over the next two weeks, I will be compiling the past articles that I have written into the different thematic areas, so that you can see for yourselves if the PAP has helped Singaporeans or if it has actually make lives more difficult for Singaporeans.

In today’s article, the focus is on JOBS.

You can click on the red headers below to read more of each of the articles.

(1) This Is Why Singaporeans Will Not Be Protected In Our Jobs By The Government

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Do you know that the reason why Singapore cannot introduce any laws or policies to protect the employment of Singaporeans is because that in the CECA, there is a clause which prohibits this? It is said in the CECA that both India and Singapore should not “require labour market testing”. In other words, labour movement between countries is “free and easy”.

But if you look back at the CECA between India and Singapore again, not only does the CECA makes it easy for anyone to come into Singapore without adequate “testing”, their “spouses or dependents” are allowed to do so as well. In the CECA between India and Singapore, the countries are expected to allow “spouses or dependents … the right to work as managers, executives or specialists (and) … they shall not be barred by the Party (both countries) granting them the right to work from taking up employment … on the ground that they as the accompanying spouses or dependents or already employed” in the same job role specialisations.

So, why does Singapore make it so damn easy for anyone to come into Singapore, when the other countries would at least ensure that their laws would protect the employability of their citizens, and ensure that even as they enter into agreements with other countries, that other countries also respect their laws? Why can’t Singapore do the same?

Read more here.

(2) Why Are Singaporean PMETs Losing Their Jobs? Here’s Why.

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Second, do you also know that when companies would like to hire workers on Employment Passes (E Pass), do not need to pay additional levies on these workers or adhere to any quota?

To qualify for the E Pass, foreign workers are required to “earn at least $3,000“. This means that workers on E Passes would directly compete with Singaporean university graduates, whom starting pay is $3,000.

Thus as there are no levies or quotas to hire workers on E Passes, there is no restriction or disincentive for companies to hire foreign workers over Singaporeans in positions which require a degree – and this would necessarily put Singaporeans at a disadvantage. Has this contributed to the over-influx of tertiary-educated workers and the resultant high unemployment?

Not only that, the Ministry of Manpower had also explicitly stated that, “Spouses of Employment Pass holders can work in Singapore.

Read more here.

(3) What Do You Think Of The New Fair Consideration Framework?

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Also, do you know that this new Fair Consideration Framework is, well, a “framework”. It is not an “Act” or a “law”, which means that there are no legal penalties if the employers go foul of this “framework”.

Will a “framework” thus be enough if employers would only be reprimanded? That this is only a “framework”, there is nothing that is legally binding or that would hold employers accountable for their actions. If employers flout the “framework”, there is no legal teeth for the MOM to act on the employer. Also, the MOM isn’t known for its ability to enforce its policies, and if so, how effective would the “framework” be without strong enforcement?

Take note of this – there is no requirement that the employer would need to first invite Singaporean candidates for interview. In Hong Kong, it is only when employers are not able to find suitable local candidates which is that, “the firm can apply to bring in foreigners. The application will be considered first by the Labour Advisory Board and then approved by the Labour Department.

Also, there are no guidelines set out as to how the firm would consider whether the Singaporean worker is suitable or not for the job. In fact, the MOM said that, “MOM does not review the merits of a firm’s hiring decision, as the firm is best placed to decide on which candidate can do the job.”

Firms are not bound to consider their hiring decision according by any guidelines. Firms won’t be taken to task if they don’t abide by the “framework”.

You know what this means? This means nothing has changed. You know what the Fair Consideration Framework is – it’s just the creation of a “jobs bank”. That’s all there is. This whole framework is about spending money to create a new job openings website. That’s all. At best, this is a PR exercise.

Read more here.

(4) The Truth About The Fair Consideration Framework

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Read more here.

Wages: How PAP has Betrayed Singaporeans

The Singapore General Election will be held on 11 September 2015.

Has the current ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), done its job or has it hurt Singaporeans instead?

Over the next two weeks, I will be compiling the past articles that I have written into the different thematic areas, so that you can see for yourselves if the PAP has helped Singaporeans or if it has actually make lives more difficult for Singaporeans.

In today’s article, the focus is on WAGES.

You can click on the red headers below to read more of each of the articles.

(1) Singaporeans Earn the Lowest Wages: We are Being Cheated of Our Wages

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Singapore is today one of the richest countries in the world (by GDP per capita) and the most expensive, so one might expect Singaporeans to also earn one of the highest wages.

However, in a survey that Gallup did at the end of last year, it was found that among the top 20 richest advanced economies, Singapore has one of the lowest self-reported per-capita household income!

Not only that, when you compare how much the lowest-wage Singaporeans earn as compared to the other countries, Singaporeans also earn the lowest wages! The PAP government has refused to set a minimum wage to protect Singaporeans but the $1,000 they are finally willing to give to cleaners can be seen as a de facto minimum wage. But even then, this is only $1,000.

When you compare this to other countries with a similar level of wealth and cost of living, the lowest wage workers in Norway earn $5,000 and those in Switzerland and Australia earn $3,000 – the difference as compared to Singapore is massive! If Norwegians, Swiss and Australians need to earn $3,000 to $5,000 to be able to survive on their high cost of living, how can Singaporeans expect to be able to survive on only $1,000 for a similarly high cost of living?

Read more here.

(2) Singaporeans Earn The LOWEST Wages Among The High-Income Countries

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Singapore stands in stark contrast to the other countries in the “same league”, where the governments in these countries would share in the wealth of the nation, so that the poor in the country wouldn’t be left out. Singapore is indeed an anomaly and the only country among the other high-income countries where the government continues to take the wealth contributed by the people, without sharing it back. As such, the poorest in Singapore have only seen slight increases in their nominal wages, but when factoring for inflation, their real wages have actually dropped.

The government can try to come out with all sorts of ways to paint a nicer picture but the fact of the matter is that the lot of the poor has gotten worse and this is not something that the PAP can run away from, just by putting up another set of statistics that would tell the story that they want people to hear. Also, for Singaporeans who have to live with one of the highest prices in the world, we are being paid wages that cannot possibly allow a respectable standard of living for the most of us.

Read more here.

(3) Singaporeans, The Truth About Our Wages Revealed

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Singapore has the lowest wages and lowest wage growth among the developed countries!

Compared with cities in other developed countries, Singapore had the second lowest wage level.

Not only that, Singapore had the lowest hourly pay in manufacturing in 2010.

Not only do Singaporeans have the lowest wages, our real hourly compensation (in manufacturing) also grew the slowest and actually became lower than in 2002.

According to the International Labour Organisation’s Global Wage Report 2008/09, between 1995 and 2000, Singapore actually had one of the highest average real wage growth among the developed countries, at 5.75%. But from 2001 to 2007, this dropped to only 1.8%.

In fact, you can see that between 1995 and 2000, Singapore’s average real wage growth had followed the GDP annual growth closely, but between 2001 and 2007, our real wage growth fell way below the GDP annual growth.

Read more here.

(4) How The Government Undercuts Singaporeans’ Wages

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So, do you see the whole picture now?

  1. First, the government doesn’t pay the right wage that they should be paying you – only 42% of GDP goes into your wages. If we are paid what we should be paid, the median income earner in Singapore should be earning $6,139.
  2. Second, use the CPF to entrap your money so that not only are you paid terribly low wages, the government cuts up this low wage of yours and use it for their own investments, and return very little back to you, and at the same time, make you use your CPF to pay for your house and siphon even more off from you.

Now, to be very clear, this entrapment exercise mainly affects the low- and middle-income Singaporeans.

For high-income Singaporeans:

  1. They are paid the highest wages among the high-income countries.
  2. The personal income tax that they pay are more likely to be returned back, as it doesn’t get as entrapped as the CPF.
  3. They are much less affected by CPF than the rest of Singaporeans are, and the much smaller CPF contribution rate is something that is easier to live with, since they are compensated by the higher than should-be income that they should be earning.

However, note that this is by no means a fault of the high-income earner. This is a critique of the system that the PAP has created more than the individual earner.

And if you look at how much each of the income groups are losing in wages today, the low-income earner is losing $2,399 of his/her wage, or 3 times his/her current wage. The middle-income earner is losing $2,889, or almost the whole wage he/she is earning now. And the high-income earner is getting an additional $1,717 more than what he/she should be getting now.

Read more here.

(5) Singaporeans Have The Lowest Purchasing Power Among The Developed Countries

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Do you know that because prices have been driven so high in Singapore and wages have been depressed so low by the PAP that Singaporeans now also have the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries?

Also, do you know that even though Singapore’s GDP per capita is higher than Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, our purchasing power is actually lower than all of them?

If fact, do you know that Singapore has a lower purchasing power than even Malaysia and has a purchasing power similar to India?

Read more here.

(6) Next Time Someone Says Singapore Cannot Have Minimum Wages Or Higher Taxes

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Wait a minute! I thought that the government has always said that if we impose minimum wage, our economy will collapse and businesses won’t want to invest in Singapore?

Then why is it the case that the countries with the highest minimum wages are also one of the richest countries? Why are businesses still investing in them?

You see, the reason why the government doesn’t want to impose a minimum wage law isn’t primarily because businesses won’t invest. There are many businesses which have gotten used to the ethical practices of the other developed countries, and they would do what they need to, to respect the laws in those countries. The reason why there’s no minimum wage in Singapore then? Well, for the Singapore companies owned and based here, where do they predominantly earn their profits from? If they increase our wages, where will their profits go to? So, in order to earn from you, they have to depress your wages and increases prices, so that they can earn as much as they can.

And who own this Singapore companies?

Read more here.

(7) Poor Singaporeans Have to Work for 272 Years to Earn What the Singapore Prime Minister Earns in One Year

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For a Singaporean who earns $1,000 a month in Singapore (or the de facto minimum wage given to cleaners), it would take him or her 272 years to earn what the prime minister can fully earn in a year today.

And if you look at the median income earner who earns $3,705 (when including for employer CPF), he/she would need to take 73 years to earn what the prime minister gets to earn in a year.

Of course, seeing  that our CPF is as good as gone, if you take the median income of $3,250 (without including employer CPF), an average Singaporean would need to take 84 years to earn what the prime minister gets to earn in a year – which means that if Singaporeans were to start working once we are given birth to, even if we work our whole lives until we die, we would still never earn as much as what the prime minister can potentially earn today.

In 10 years, the prime minister would have easily earned $30 million. For a low-income Singaporean who earns $1,000, it would take them 2,500 years to earn what the prime minister would easily earn in 10 years!

To give you a bit of perspective, if you look at another country, say Norway, which has a similar level of wealth and GDP per capita, and prices as Singapore, but where its workers are paid much fairer wages, for the lowest-income workers who earn $5,000 every month ($60,000 in a year), it will only take them 5 years to earn what their prime minister earns ($300,000 in a year). And by the way, they already consider what they pay to their prime minister “a lot of money”.

And for the median income earner in Norway who earns about $8,000, it will take about 3 years.

This is in comparison to the 272 years and 84 years that it would take low-income and median income Singaporeans to earn.

The PAP has run its course for us. It is no longer what Singapore and Singaporeans need. It is clear that they have hijacked government for their own purposes and if we do not rid our government of this scourge that is the PAP, our country and the survival of Singaporeans is at stake.

It is up to Singaporeans to wise up to the reality, to realise the implications and to do what’s right for ourselves.

Read more here.

PAP is Not Singapore. Singapore is Not PAP. Save Singapore from PAP.

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Singapore is not the PAP. Singapore is our home. Singapore belongs to Singaporeans.

However, the PAP has turned Singapore into its own, believing that it can create “policies” to benefit itself.

Sure, the PAP has been in government for the past 55 years. But this does not make Singapore theirs. Without the hard work and sweat of Singaporeans and our parents and our parents’ parents, would Singapore become what it is today? It wouldn’t. Singapore is the collective effort of all that has toiled on our land.

No one single person can claim credit for it. Not the PAP. It is all of Singapore and Singaporeans who have made our home the way it is.

The PAP is not Singapore. It is just the party which is in government today. Today it is the PAP, tomorrow it may not be. Which party makes government depends on the votes of Singaporeans.

A government’s responsibility is to its citizens. It is to Singaporeans. A government is not to lord over its citizens. It can definitely not see itself as a “natural aristocrat”. A government cannot believe that it is better than the people, for all Singaporeans are equal, be it an ordinary citizen, a minister or a prime minister, for all of us are equal citizens.

A government which sees itself as better than the people and which believes that inequality is good for the country, while believing that it is above the people, is one which has lost its bearings and its responsibility to its people. It is one where the political party has been in power for far too long and has allowed power to get into its head.

This is what the PAP has become. For too long, the PAP has controlled power and has prevented the opposition from fairly running for elections. This has allowed the PAP to make believe that they are the best and only people that can run the country, and which have lauded them into a false belief that without the PAP, Singapore will not be what it is today. This has caused the PAP to create their false idea that without them, Singapore will fail.

But Singapore will not fail without the PAP. In fact, more and more Singaporeans are awakening to the fact that it is if Singapore continues with the PAP that Singapore will fail.

It is with the PAP’s policies that has pulled apart inequality in Singapore that will cause more and more Singaporeans to languish into poverty – it is estimated by economists and academics that 30% of Singaporeans are living in poverty today. It is because of the PAP’s policies that Singaporeans have chosen to die instead of go to a hospital because they cannot afford healthcare, it is because of the PAP’s policies that our children have to pay the most expensive university tuition fees in the world, as citizens, when the PAP gives $400 million to foreign students to study in Singapore every year. It is because of the PAP’s policies that wages have been depressed and many of our PMETs are losing their jobs, due to an influx of cheap labour and the lack of minimum wage, employment protect policies and unemployment benefits to protect Singaporeans. It is because of the PAP that Singaporeans cannot get back our CPF, because the PAP puts in a CPF Minimum Sum to lock up our CPF, and then give our money to GIC and Temasek Holdings to let themselves earn huge profits from, and all the time making even more profits from our HDB flats, Medisave and MediShield.

It is because of the PAP that Singapore has become the most expensive country in the world but where Singaporeans are still paid one of the lowest wages among the highest-income countries, this has caused Singaporeans to have the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries.

It is the PAP which has caused Singaporeans to suffer. It is the PAP that will cause Singapore to fail. Because of the PAP and the income inequality that it has created and made the highest among the developed countries, Singapore also has the lowest levels of trust after Portugal, the highest prisoner rate after America, one of the lowest social mobilities and people who have been forced to fight for ourselves and have gradually become self-centred. It is because of the PAP that there are today more and more social problems in Singapore.

This year, Singapore has seen the worst train breakdown in Singapore’s history, slabs of concrete are falling off even newly built flats, there are more and more murders, as news of people being murdered fill the news now on an almost daily basis, while the PAP uses the police to arrest innocent Singaporeans who criticise the PAP because we know our lives are getting worse.

Meanwhile the PAP pays themselves the highest salaries in the world and are immuned to the problems that plaque Singapore.

It is the PAP which has become too comfortable, cruising into power election after election and believing that no one else can stop it, so it stops being transparent and accountable to Singaporeans, it starts hiding information and today it lords over Singaporeans.

But no one is indispensable. Everyone is expendable. So is the PAP. If the PAP is no longer doing its job, then the PAP has to be sacked. If the PAP has become too complacent, then it has to be given a shake up. If the PAP has become too reliant on Singaporeans and has fed off us for too long, then it is time to ask the PAP to leave and learn to stand on its own two feet.

The PAP has made use of Singapore and Singaporeans for too long. The PAP has abused Singaporeans for its own wants for far too long. The PAP has hijacked the government and turned it against Singaporeans for far, far too long.

For too long, Singaporeans have kept quiet believing that one day we will receive our just returns. But that day never came while the PAP makes promise after promise but never fulfilling them. For too long, we have tolerated the PAP but the time is now to change. The time is now for us to stand up against the PAP’s injustice and say, enough is enough.

Enough is enough.

No longer will we put up with the PAP’s bullying. This is no longer a laughing matter when our lives are at stake, and where our children’s lives are at risk, and where Singapore’s future is no longer certain.

Enough is enough.

The PAP has overstayed its welcome and has abused its power for too long. We do not need the PAP anymore. We do not need kings to sit on the throne and take our produce to feed themselves.

We need a government which will have the humility to stand at our feet and by our side and to create policies that will protect Singaporeans, invest in our people and bring Singapore into a brighter tomorrow.

We need a new government. We need the opposition.

Today, we will make a stand to vote for the opposition. Today, we will make a stand to vote for the opposition, to implement minimum wage and unemployment benefits to protect our workers. To increase health spending and education spending to protect our young and old. To grow our CPF and #ReturnOurCPF so that our elderly Singaporeans do not have to work as cleaners and cardboard collectors but can truly have a dignified life.

Today, we need change. For a better tomorrow.

Today, we will vote in a new government to finally implement policies to protect Singaporeans.

#VoteOpposition #VoteforYourFuture

PAP Started Depressing Singaporeans’ Wages from the 1990s. It’s Been More than 20 Years.

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In 1994, the PAP started increasing its own salaries to millions of dollars, by pegging their own salaries to the salaries of the richest in Singapore. From 1995 to 2011, the share of income that went to the richest 10%, the PAP among them, then increased from 30% to 42%.

From 1995 onwards, the wages of the poorest Singaporeans then started being depressed. From 2004, it was the turn of middle-income Singaporeans, when median wage also started getting depressed. This coincided with the PAP opening up the floodgates even more to cheap labour, and where the PAP did not want to change the E Pass and S Pass minimum salary limit for a long time, this meant that the wages of foreign workers were also depressed, which in turn also depressed the wages of Singaporeans.

Today, there is still no minimum wage in Singapore, and Singapore is one of very few countries in the world which still does not have minimum wage. Not only that, Singapore is also one of very few countries in the world where there is no unemployment benefits, which means that when a person loses his or her job, he or she has no protection, and already more and more Singaporeans have been losing their jobs.

In addition, Singapore also has the least employment protection legislation among the developed countries, after America. This means that not only is it very easy to fire workers in Singapore, when workers are discriminated or unfairly dismissed, they also have very little recourse. Worse still, workers can also be unfairly replaced. It is known that many companies also circumvent the law and where they are required to pay S Pass holders a minimum of $2,500 for example, they do not do so. A foreign worker told me he was paid only $1,200, which means that the company profits from it. This also means that for a polytechnic graduate, a company would choose to hire a foreigner for the same job instead of hire the polytechnic graduate, since the foreign workers are cheaper. The same applies for the E Pass and for degree holders. As such, this causes wages to stagnate across the board for Singaporeans, and for foreign workers as well.

However, where wages for low- and middle-income Singaporeans stagnate, at the higher spectrum, Singaporean PMETs have been losing their jobs. Because of the agreements that the PAP sign with other countries, Singapore is not allowed to implement job protection policies to protect the jobs of Singaporeans. This thus allows companies to hire foreign PMETs at cheaper wages and thus forcing Singaporeans out of certain industries, such as in finance, accounting and even in the healthcare industries.

Today, even though Singapore has become one of the richest countries in the world, Singaporeans actually earn one of the lowest wages among the richest countries. But for the rich in Singapore, they actually earn the highest salaries among the developed countries. In fact, government statistics have shown that foreigners actually earn higher wages than Singaporeans.

When you compare Singapore to other countries with a similar level of national wealth, Japan has a minimum wage of $2,000, Australia has a minimum wage of $3,000. Low-income workers in Switzerland earn $3,000 while in Denmark and Norway, they earn more than $5,000. However, in Singapore, a cleaner still earns only $1,000. And there are many Singaporeans and foreign workers who earn much lower than that. Construction workers from India and maids still earn only $400. How can anyone in Singapore survive on this? And this is also why Singapore has the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries.

But today, even as Singaporeans struggle, the PAP refuses to define a poverty line and then implement a minimum wage to that level. It has been estimated by several economists and academics that there are 30% of Singaporeans living in poverty, which is the highest among the developed countries, and even in Southeast Asia.

However, the PAP will only want to protect their own salaries. The members of parliament earn $16,000 a month, which puts them as the richest 5% in Singapore, while for the ministers, they are paid the highest salaries in the world. Yet, 30% of Singaporeans still earn less than $2,000 and 40% earn less than $2,500.

If you just compare with Norway, a low-income earner earns $5,000 a month but their prime minister only earns $25,000, which is only 5 times more. But in Singapore, the low-income earner earns $1,000 while the prime minister earns $183,000 per month, and this is not yet including the other bonuses. This means that the prime minister is earning at least 183 times more than a low-income Singapore.

But where is the justice and fairness in this, where 30% of Singaporeans are living in poverty and poor Singaporeans cannot even make ends meet but the PAP would pay themselves such high salaries, and yet still want to keep increasing their own salaries because they do not think it is “realistic”? How does this make sense when the prime minister earns nearly 200 times more than a low-income Singaporean but the PAP does not want to increase the wages of Singaporeans?

Without a doubt, the PAP has abused Singaporeans through and through by forcing Singaporeans to earn depressed wages and to work the longest hours in the world. This has allowed the PAP to let the companies in Singapore earn the highest profit share in the world. And with the PAP controlling many of the Singapore companies and being involved in business itself, this has allowed the PAP to get rich for itself.

Singapore has been ranked 5th on the crony capitalism index by The Economist, which means that it is the easiest for the rich to get rich if they are affiliated to the PAP. Today, Singapore has one of the highest concentration of billionaires in the world. Lee Hsien Loong thinks that it is good to have inequality, because as long as he brings in more billionaires, he says that this will create more jobs for Singapore. But where research has shown that such trickle-down economics does not happen, what this does mean is that Singapore then becomes more and more expensive, and where Singaporeans do not earn enough, we simply cannot spend enough, even on basic necessities.

Indeed, Singapore has become the most expensive country in the world today, and the household consumption in Singapore has fallen, and yet Singapore today has the second highest debt in Asia. Worse still, Singaporeans are also made to pay the most out of our own pockets for healthcare in the world, after Switzerland and the most expensive university fees in the world, for citizens.

How are Singaporeans expected to survive?

It is not an understatement to say that the lives of Singaporeans have gotten worse because the PAP caused it. Simply put, the PAP has allowed themselves to get rich and they have done so, by making the lives of Singaporeans worse off.

Is this the kind of government that you want? Today, it is clear that the PAP no longer cares for Singaporeans and no longer has the interests of Singaporeans at heart. In fact, the PAP has stabbed Singaporeans in the back.

Today, on our depressed and low wages, the PAP also makes Singaporeans pay the most out of wages into social security for retirement (CPF) in the world. And because the PAP takes our CPF to let the GIC and Temasek Holdings get rich on, while returning low interest back to Singaporeans – possibly the lowest in the world – this has caused Singaporeans to have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world, and so many of our elderly Singaporeans have to work as cleaners and cardboard collectors. Yet, Tan Chuan-Jin still has the cheek to say that elderly Singaporeans want to work as cardboard collectors because they want to have dignity. But is this the way a government should respond to its old? Instead of letting them work under the hot sun to earn a meagre amount of a few dollars every day, shouldn’t the government’s responsibility be to increase their CPF retirement funds, so that the elderly can actually retire with dignity?

But the PAP would make Singaporeans pay our CPF into Medisave and MediShield to earn from them, and then lock up our CPF for themselves, with the CPF Minimum Sum, and also make Singaporeans pay for the most expensive public housing in the world, so much so that we lose a huge amount of our CPF into profits for the PAP for housing, and then be made to pay an accrued interest into the CPF again.

What on earth does the PAP treat Singaporeans as? Cash cows? Slaves?

My fellow Singaporeans, for our lives to get better, the answer is clear. We have to vote for the opposition.

The only way that the government will finally take care of Singaporeans, and protect us, is when there is a new government.

Only when the opposition wins enough votes to form a coalition government, will the government then implement minimum wage and unemployment benefits to protect Singaporeans. Only then will the government increase healthcare expenditure and will Singaporeans have free education, so that our young and old will be protected. And only then will the government #ReturnOurCPF and will our CPF retirement funds increase, and will elderly Singaporeans be respected and be able to retire with dignity.

This is no longer something that we can wait and sit on. Enough is enough. The PAP has abused Singaporeans for long enough. It is time we make a stand. It is time we vote right, and vote for a new government which will finally take care of, and protect Singaporeans.

We have to do this for ourselves, our families, our children and our future generations.

We have to do this for Singapore and Singaporeans. It is time we help ourselves. It is time we let go of our pride and do what is right. It is time we save Singapore.

#VoteOpposition #VoteforYourFuture

A New Government is Needed for Singaporeans to be Protected

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A friend who makes regular food deliveries to low-income families asked if I could assist to bring some food for one family in Ang Mo Kio.

Her volunteers and her make weekly deliveries to the families but one family has ran out of food.

The mother in the family has difficulty holding a job as she has young children who needs to go to school, among other matters. She is also on social assistance but the amounts are low and not enough to support the family.

The family thus has to also rely on donations.

But her story is not unique. There are many such stories in Singapore. Sometimes, big families are cramped into one room flats simply because they cannot afford to rent or buy a bigger place.

And it is not a fault of their own. Some of these families comprise of elderly members who can no longer work, or disabled members as well, which means caregivers might not even be able to work. Some of them work several jobs but because their pay is so low, they simply cannot earn enough for the family. Sometimes, it is challenging for the breadwinner when he or she also has to take care of a family member who needs regularly care.

These families shoulder heavy burdens which we may not see or understand.

How can we help these families?

There are many help groups and religious groups who provide free food and also financial support sometimes. But such assistance is not regular. For example, food is provided only once or twice a week. But these groups continue to do what they can.

But Singapore is a very rich country today, at least on the national level. However, much of this money does not go back to Singaporeans, especially to these low- and middle-income families. Do you know that the share of wages (of the GDP) that goes back to Singaporeans is the lowest among the developed countries?

Therefore a more sustainable solution is needed.

First, this requires a fundamental mindset change by the government. The government has to recognise that low-income Singaporeans are not in their state because they deserve it. It is not true that they are not hardworking. In fact, many of them hold several jobs but because each job pays so little, they simply cannot earn enough for the family to make ends meet.

Also, the government has categorised certain jobs as being less skilled and thus deserving of lower pay, but where is the limit to such thinking and who are we to demean the labour of another?

As such, to be able to provide assistance to low-income families on a sustainable basis, the government’s mindset has to change.

There is enough research which shows that where low-income families receive more financial support, they will invest in the education and healthcare of their family members, lives will improve which in turn will allow working members in the family to focus on their jobs, do well, and earn more.

As such, a sustainable system to alleviate poverty in Singapore would be to increase the wages of low- and middle-income workers, increase social assistance for these families, as well as to also increase education and healthcare subsidies for these families.

Importantly, for much of the subsidies, such as Medifund, families are required to apply for them and have to go through cumbersome processes to do so. For example, they are required to submit the income statements of all their family members and have to do so every few months. But this is not only demeaning but for many of these workers who already have to take on several jobs, on top of taking care of their family members, means that much of their time is spent on hours and hours of paperwork, just to get a few hundred dollars, and this is if they actually qualify.

As such, not only does financial assistance to these families need to increase, the procedures to do so also need to be streamlined and automated.

The benefits to helping these families are many-fold.

First, investment in these families will allow the members to receive education and healthcare, which will allow them to move up the social ladder.

Second, as the livelihoods of these families improve, their future generations will also be uplifted.

Third, where the household consumption of these families increase, this will also increase the domestic spending in the country and result in higher economic growth.

As such, there are long term and macro benefits to looking out for and taking care of the poorer members of our society. Research has shown this.

But for such changes to be able to happen, it requires a government to have the political will not to place judgements on members of our society and to be able to empathise with their situation.

It also requires a government to be far-sighted and understand the social philosophy of these policies.

The question that stands in our way today is whether the PAP has the right values and beliefs to do so. The answer to this would lie in the PAP’s policies.

Where the PAP refuses to implement a minimum wage and increase the wages of Singaporeans, while only willing to pay $1,000 to cleaners, even as many Singaporeans have calculated $2,000 to be the minimum that they would need to sustain themselves, then it begs the question why the PAP would still not implement a minimum wage or define a poverty line.

In addition, the PAP spends the lowest on healthcare, education and social protection for Singaporeans among the developed countries, and also gives the lowest interest rates on our CPF pension funds in the world, while taking our CPF to earn high profits for themselves.

Meanwhile, the PAP ministers also earn the highest salaries in the world.

It is clear that the PAP is not taking care of Singaporeans.

As such, a new government which has the political will is needed, and one which has the right mindset to protect Singaporeans.

The other political parties have said that they would implement minimum wage, increase healthcare, education and social protection expenditure, and to also introduce a pension scheme, on top of the CPF, to allow Singaporeans to be able to retire.

As such, political will for change awaits in a new government and in the other political parties which have articulated policies to protect Singaporeans.

If so, this coming election, Singaporeans have to think for ourselves what is at stake and to decide how we want to vote so that policies will be implemented to protect Singaporeans.

For a future where our countrymen are protected and which will uplift the lives of all in Singapore, a firm direction is needed towards change, so that Singapore can embark on a new journey, to bring Singapore into a better tomorrow.

PAP Started Earning from Singaporeans’ CPF from the 1980s. It’s Been More than 30 Years.

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For a long time, Singaporeans did not know what the PAP has been taking our CPF to use. Finally, last year, the PAP admitted that they have been taking our CPF to give to GIC to invest and earn. Not only that, this was done without our permission and the excess returns are not given back to Singaporeans. The GIC keeps it for itself. Where did our money go?

Today, the GIC has an estimated $440 billion but Singaporeans only have $282 billion inside our CPF. Not only that, the GIC is ranked as one of the 15 richest sovereign wealth funds in the world but Singaporeans have one of the least adequate retirement funds among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Asia-Pacific countries. Why does the PAP let the government investment firm become so rich, but make Singaporeans so poor? Where did our money go?

In 1984, the PAP made Singaporeans pay part of our CPF into the Medisave. By 2013, Singaporeans had contributed more than $65 billion into the Medisave but Singaporeans were only allowed to withdraw $0.8 billion from Medisave for Direct Medical Expenses. This meant that Singaporeans were only allowed to use 1.2% of the total Medisave balance. Where did our money go?

In 1987, the PAP created the CPF Minimum Sum. Today, Singaporeans would need to have $161,000 inside our CPF, otherwise we would not be able to take out the excess CPF monies out at 55 years old. However, the PAP has depressed the wages of Singaporeans for the past 10 to 20 years, and they have also depressed the CPF interest rates to 2.5% to 4% since 1999, but they have increased the CPF Minimum Sum by as much as 10% in some years. Clearly, there is no way that our CPF will be able to grow fast enough to catch up with the CPF Minimum Sum (now known as the Full Retirement Sum). It is estimated that nearly 90% of Singaporeans are not able to take out our CPF and are unable to retire today. Why did the PAP lock up our CPF?

In 1990, the PAP made Singaporeans pay part of our Medisave into the MediShield. From 2001 to 2010, there was a surplus of $850 million inside the MediShield but in 2011, Singaporeans were only allowed to claim $282 million from MediShield. This meant that Singaporeans were only allowed to use a quarter of our MediShield (and this does not include the surplus from 1990 to 2000). This also means that more than 75% of the MediShield premiums that we have paid goes into surplus. Where did our money go?

The PAP has been making Singaporeans Pay And Pay since 1981 – for more than 30 years now. And the PAP keeps taking our money and our CPF to Earn And Earn. Where did our money go?

Today, the PAP is unwilling to be transparent and accountable to Singaporeans. The PAP continues to hide what it has been doing with our money and our CPF.

Do you want your money back? Do you want the government to return us our money?

Then there is only one way to do it. The PAP will not #ReturnOurCPF. The PAP will not be transparent to Singaporeans. The PAP will not be accountable to Singaporeans.

The only way is to kick out the PAP, so that Singaporeans will finally be able to know what is really going on, and where our money is.

#VoteOpposition #VoteforYourFuture