How Things Have Changed and then, Will Things Change?

Roy Ngerng Primary Six resized

(This might be my last post but it is a personal post. So read at your own peril. :) )

It actually all feels quite surreal, what is happening today.

Let me start by reminiscing about the time when I was still young and had not a care in this world.

I remember that when I was young, I was “botak”, meaning that I had a shaven head.

I was botak all the way until I was 14.

Once, after the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and when I was playing card games with some classmates, a friend remarked that I was actually quite good looking, so you can imagine my happiness.

I was beaming.

I mean, with that hair, or rather lack of hair, I can actually be thought of as good looking?

By the time I was in Secondary 2, I think it was about then that I realised that maybe you need to have some hair to at least have some semblance of attractiveness.

And so I started to try my darnedest to grow the hair out.

But it was not easy. How do you go from straight Chinese afro to F4’s Vic Zhou in a few months.

It did not just take a few months. It took another 7 or 8 years.

It was when I was in university when some friends started remarking that I looked like Vic Zhou.

OK, you can laugh. But at one point, with my dyed bronze floppy hair and my melancholic demeanor, I did resemble him OK. It was as if I was part of a Taiwanese drama serial as I walked through the corridors of the university.

And so, one day, a friend decided to enter me into the reality TV show School Beau and Belle organised by Mediacorp.

I actually thought I stood a chance, until they decided that a nerd couldn’t possibly win a competition where they were looking for hunks.

So they walked away with Elvin Ng.

A much better choice anyway. I guess I would rather swoon over Elvin Ng than Roy Ngerng.

I mean, would you go with someone with glistening pearly white teeth in the TV commercials or someone with teeth that looked straight enough but was blaring at the top of his voice about the government?

But hey, Roy Ngerng has balls, OK. Doesn’t quite know how to use them but he has them.

Anyway, the point of this story is that when I was young(er), all you would have thought about at that age was whether you had enough money to buy hair gel.

You see, I needed lots of hair gel to keep my hair down, and lots and lots of it.

When you had thick coarse hair growing upwards for the past 14 years of your life, by the time you need to push it back down, it has already learnt how to defy gravity and stick its hair up in the air.

Maybe that’s where I got my stubborn strength from. My hair led the way.

So imagine I would start going to school like the classic nerd, as I plastered layers and layers of gel on my hair just to keep it down.

But the hair would not sit still!

So loose strands would keep popping out everywhere. It would take years before my hair would grow to become the messed-up mob look you see today.

 2014-10-05 16.21.44

When I was younger, every bit of money was so important. That was all I had. I would have liked to buy the more expensive and nicer-smelling hair gels but I did not have that much money.

I could not even afford to eat at McDonald’s often. When I did join my friends at McDonald’s, it was to get an ice-cream and watch them eat while I had a cheaper meal in school before I met them. Then, the quality of the ice-cream was actually quite good and it was a lot cheaper.

And as you were growing up, you just hope to yourself that one day you will find a job that you will love, that will still allow you to love life, and that will give you enough money to buy hair gel.

By the time I had enough money to buy hair gel, hair gel had already gone out of fashion. Hair wax was in the rave.

Of course, it helped that when you could just pretend to look like Vic Zhou, then all you need is to grow your hair long and leave it like that. No gel or wax needed.

Until of course, it became a mess of dried hay, and then that’s when you decide to leave it black and go back to the nerd look.

By the time I started work at the Health Promotion Board (HPB) – I am so glad that they left my hair alone. If Lee Kuan Yew was still deciding on policies, my hair would have been chopped off and replaced with a half-watermelon cut out.

So, anyway, by the time I was at the HPB, I was finally earning my first proper income.

It was in 2006. I was a fresh graduate and the HPB only paid me $2,200. It was 2 years later when I realised that I was underpaid when someone swaggered in and told me that he earns more than $2,700. Thankfully I left with recognisably more.

But doesn’t matter. I was in it for my passion anyway.

I was working in HIV education and as someone who had my fair share of, shall I say, youthfulness, I knew how many times I had put myself in situations which would have warranted a person sit next to me to educate me about HIV each time.

It was only a few months into my job that I was finally fully convinced on the need for condom use to protect yourself all the time and went on raising that awareness to the public for the next eight years.

It was not easy. I had low self-esteem, I did not believe in myself. And so I kept putting myself in position of risks. I felt powerless against people who were older than me and I had trusted them to know better.

But it was not until I was in my mid-20s and got to an age where I should “know better” and realised that I didn’t, did I realise that maybe I should really know better and start taking care of myself.

It took some time but I finally got to where I am today.

2014-11-08 21.26.08-1

Which is why it is surreal.

You grow up naive, and thinking that life is buying that hair gel, swooning over your crush or several crushes, or tens and tens of crushes, and chasing after bands.

Or going to the front of the class and pretending to host the Star Search competition until the teacher walked in and asked you to go back to your seat – who were you to pretend to be a Chinese host when your Chinese needs remedial classes?

But then you start to grow up.

By the time I was in junior college, I was thinking about society, and discussing such issues with a close friend.

But how our paths have diverged. She has found fame doing what she loves. And I have found fame or (in)fame, or (de)fame doing what I love as well.

The passion has not changed. I still think about society, about what I can do to improve things and how we can all live better lives.

Lofty ideals, but when you are a dreamer, life is always a dream.

At one point, when I was in HPB, my supervisor had once told me, “You are not in touch with reality.”

True, but it was also because of my detachment from what is perceived as reality that also allowed me to spearhead many new projects that took HIV programmes to greater heights.

A comedy show with the Dream Academy to talk about sex. Checked.

A fashion show with the Textile and Fashion Federation to get designers, artists and even politicians to design T-shirts to support the HIV cause. Checked.

An art installation to put toilet bowl-inspired artwork in the shopping malls. Checked.

Some challenges here and there, but when you believe in something enough and try to make it happen, you can make it. And you will succeed.

I did not know then that it was my belief that was making me pull through things, but looking back, I realise what it is.

Perhaps that was the eagerness that I had when I started my blog.

I got to a stage where I thought to myself, I didn’t see enough analysis of society from a varied perspective. Much of what was said and discussed in the media was, shall we say, singly-focused.

I decided to write about my own perspectives of the Singaporean society on the newly-created blog then, The Heart Truths. That was in June 2012. It has been 2 1/2 years since.

And the rest, they say, is history.

I started as I always have, naive and without a “sense of reality”, until I realised that things are no longer masak masak (play play).

In HPB, when there were office politics, I didn’t partake it them. In fact, I couldn’t stand it. I spent the first 2 years at work really unhappy – why do people have to play politics to get ahead? Why can’t we just get on with what we do, work together, and help the people whom we were supposed to help?

Wasn’t that easier than playing politics?

It was only in the third year that I began to learnt to ignore the politics and let it be played, but be aware of it and just let it be.

Little did I know that politics was going to catch up with me.

By the time I started advocating for a change of government, the government was already eyeing me.

By the time I started organising protests and forums, it was time to put me on the watch list.

And when I started writing essays about how the government was taking the money of Singaporeans to earn for themselves, I was placed on the take-out list.

And soon, a new-found fame followed me, or rather a new-found infamous one.

But how things have changed. From a boy living in my own village-like world in our 2-room rented flat, I was thrown into the open wilderness and was left to fend for myself like a sheep in a wolf pack.

2014-11-10 17.06.48

I do miss those days. I miss the days when I was still carefree, where I had hoped that things would get better and they would, at least in my mind. I had learnt to find happiness within.

Today, I am in a different position. And soon, when the bankruptcy comes, I will be back to buying cheap gel.

When you were growing up and you look at your surroundings, you were grateful to live in Singapore. The high-rise buildings, the clean facade, the safety, the cleanliness and you think to yourself – Singapore is a clean and safe place to grow up in. What else could be better?

And when you grow up you, you thought to yourself that you want to do what you can to make your country a better place. And you start to hope that one day, you can contribute to make things better.

And then you did. I was creating programmes at the HPB that I was proud of.

But soon, you start wanting to do more. It started when you to start to realise that surely, people do not have to suffer just because they cannot afford to see a doctor? Surely, people should not have to work till their old age just because they couldn’t earn enough to save?

And then you start believing that for justice, surely things can get better?

But little did you know that whatever you had wished for was not quite what the government had in mind.

And when it was not, you become a threat.

From the innocence of wanting to make things better to becoming a threat simply because you wanted to make things better.

Never had I thought when I was young that the very government that was supposed to protect you would actually go against you.

It is all quite surreal.

All you ever wanted was to make things better, make life better. Maybe you were a bit too eager.

And then, before you know it, things come your way which you least expected.

But deep down inside, I am still the same boy, earnest, naive, eager and idealistic.

But there has been much that I have learnt. A bit street-wiser now.

Still, this has been a really expensive lesson.

But at least I can take heart to know that when I leave this world, I would be able to take with me some very interesting life lessons. But while the experiences are still ongoing, as they are, it can be quite a challenge.

2014-11-15 13.19.10

This is just a reflective piece, a bit indulgent. But as I sit at home nowadays, this is a thought that crosses my mind often – all I ever wanted was to be happy and to make life better. What would you know, that when you seek a better life for all, there are those who rather you not?

And even among those you seek to help, even they among themselves are used to feeling so enslaved that they are not ready to see the possibilities of a better life as well.

And where those in politics also believe that you cannot rock the boat for how would a career politician have the tenacity to fix things if things were to change too fast?

But I am not a politician. I am a dreamer.

And my wish is for a better place that we can live in, as soon as it gets, simply because treating people right is the right thing to do, and we shouldn’t have to waste time to get there.

The past few weeks have been challenging. And I am still learning to live with things.

I still hope that we are ready for change and change will happen but when the sense of reality kicks in, you realise that as much as you can see possibilities, they can only happen when those around you can see them as well and work with you to see to it that the possibilities do happen.

But while they don’t, you have to take a step back and think about what else you need to do to see to it that possibilities happen, at least for yourself.

I looked at two boys talked at the MRT station yesterday. I was like them when I was younger – carefree, without a concern in the world and dreamy. Maybe I had people call me names but things got better when people got to know me more. I am used to being misunderstood anyway.

But I miss those days, those days where you would sit at the playground with your friends and think about what you would do when your ‘O’ levels are over and what jobs you will go into.

But to one day be at the crossroads on the national stage? That never crossed my mind.

And then you just have to take each day as it comes.

Anyway today is World AIDS Day. It is a also day where we commemorate those whom have passed away from AIDS-related Illnesses. But it is also a day of hope. A person living with HIV can today live a long life, as long as a person goes on regular medication.

I know of many dynamic individuals who are people living with HIV themselves and they have inspired me and continued to contribute to our society.

Hopefully we will learn to walk with them as they walk with us, and one day embrace them and give them the support they need, so that they can continue to take good care of their health and continue to inspire others like you and I along the way.

Meanwhile, always be strong and believe in yourself, be it if you decide to stay in a committed relationship or if you decide otherwise, to always use condoms, so that you will protect your partner as well.

I learnt the hard way in life, made several mistakes and upset many people, to finally learnt some important lessons but I suppose that as long as we eventually learn and do what is right for ourselves, that is all that really matters.

Signing off,

Roy Ngerng

2014-11-23 20.44.10_20141129171644331

I live on dreams, but my dreams maketh me.

This is the Singapore You Voted for the Past 50 Years

Singapore

Singapore has become the most expensive city in the world. (The Economist)

Singapore has become the most expensive country in the world. (Global Talent Report)

Singaporeans earn one of the lowest median wages among the developed countries. (International Labour Organisation)

Singaporeans earn one of the lowest minimum wage among the developed countries (when looking at the basic wage of $1,000 for cleaners).

Singapore has the lowest wage share among the developed countries, which also means companies in Singapore earn the highest profit share among the developed countries.

Cleaner

Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power among cities in the developed countries. (UBS Prices and Earnings)

Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries. (Numbeo)

Singapore households have the second highest debt in Asia. (Standard Chartered)

Singaporeans pay the highest university fees in the world for citizens. (compare with OECD)

Singaporeans pay for the top 10 most expensive housing in the world. (Global Property Guide)

Cardboard collector

Singaporeans earn the lowest interest rates on our CPF retirement funds in the world.

Singaporeans have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world. (OECD)

But GIC and Temasek Holdings, which takes Singaporeans’ CPF retirement funds to earn from, are the top 10 richest sovereign wealth funds in the world. (Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute)

Singaporeans pay the highest out-of-pocket health expenditure. (World Health Organisation)

But the Singapore government spends the lowest on health expenditure for Singaporeans among the developed countries, as a percentage of total health expenditure. (World Health Organisation)

Singapore hospital

Photo credit: The Straits Times

The Singapore government subsidises the least on transport, as a percentage of transport fares, in the world.

The Singapore government spends the lowest on education for Singaporeans, as a percentage of GDP, among the developed countries.

The Singapore government spends the lowest on social protection for Singaporeans, as a percentage of GDP, among the developed countries.

Singapore’s poverty rate is the highest among the developed countries.

Singapore’s income inequality is the highest among the developed countries.

Singapore has the highest rich-poor gap in the world.

The Singapore ministers earn the highest salaries in the world.

Singapore is ranked 5th on the crony-capitalism index which means that Singapore is the 5th easiest for a person to get rich if he/she is close to the government. (The Economist)

PAP

Photo credit: AsiaOne

Singaporeans have thus become the least happy and least trusting people.

You voted for the PAP hor. I didn’t.

You kept voting for them so they think that they can do whatever they want with you and you would still keep quiet, and they can get away with it.

And they have.

So today if Singapore has become the state it is …

Well, I did not vote for them.

Turn your back

A Nation in Limbo and a Divide that Drives through the Heart of Singapore

(just some thoughts..)

I found myself asking this question today – is this a country I want to live in, where the country has become so divided and endless bickerings play out on the national stage, and where innocent people are maligned just so a certain political party can allow themselves to get ahead.

The state of our country is becoming so childish, so wilful.

Sometimes you wonder if the person running the country is the son of his father or if he has even learnt to come into his own.

Of course, bickerings happen all over the world, many worse than Singapore.

This does not mean that just because it happens that we can pretend that such petty politics should be acceptable.

I think let’s dispense with the niceties, and call out what is happening in Singapore for what it is.

My case is known. I have been sued, lost my job, and then they let the police at me.

The only thing left that the PAP would wish they could do would be to push a giant knife into my back or to run me down with a Ferrari.

But of course, they’ve knived me through and through, so what’s the difference?

So, let’s put my case aside. Even I am tired of it.

Now, we read about news of the PAP attacking the Worker’s Party (WP) on an almost daily basis, accusing the WP of everything but the toilet sink.

But I look at the PAP with disgust. And at this point, please may I ask of readers to stop pretending for the PAP.

The PAP is black. We know it. No matter how much washing powder it tries to rub onto its white costumes, it cannot cover up for how slimy the party is.

To see the PAP accuse another party of doing something they are even worse at doing, I do not even know what to say.

If you cannot get your own house in order, if you cannot even be transparent and accountable to Singaporeans, what makes you think you are even in a position to utter those very words to another?

The PAP makes transparent opaque.

It makes accountable discounted.

And then it thumps its own chest and say: we care for the people, we believe in equality, we…

Oh, spare me the bulls***, please.

If there is one thing that the PAP cares about, it is their money.

And that is the only thing.

ONLY THING.

If you seriously believe in wanting to protect Singaporeans, when you hear of stories of people choosing to die instead of go to a hospital, you will change your policies to make sure that they can at least go to a hospital. You will make sure that their first thought is not whether they can pay for their hospital bills but whether they can receive immediate quality care.

If you sincerely believe in wanting Singaporeans to earn a decent living, you would calculate how much Singaporeans need to survive and give them that amount of salary so that they can actually survive. You will not give someone $1,000, show off that you have raised it by 20 percent from a miserly $800, then when it is (still obviously) not enough, give the worker some extra cash then lament that the worker is begging you for it, when it was you who made the worker beg in the first place.

Look, if the PAP does its job, do you think Singaporeans would be angry with them?

Do you think Singaporeans would throw their support behind the opposition, if the PAP actually cares for Singaporeans?

And then when Singaporeans speak up, the PAP would crush them like a cockroach.

Honestly, be a gentleman. If you cannot take care of the people, then please vacate your seats and let someone else do it.

How can anyone justify that by paying themselves millions while paying tens of thousands of Singaporeans only S$1,000 every month in the most expensive country in the world, that they actually have the interests of the people at heart?

If the PAP actually cares for Singaporeans, then Santa Claus is also real.

My point?

Yes, what’s my point.

My point is that Singapore does not need to be in the mess it is in now.

Because the PAP wants to stay in power so that it can continue to protect its own wealth, it will attack the opposition and innocent Singaporeans just so it will get its way.

The PAP then uses the other estates of government, such as the civil service, and then turn it into their personal tools to attack Singaporeans.

We are no longer a country, if you have not noticed.

Who among us feel proud to be here?

Who among us are still proud to call Singapore home?

But why do we have to languish to this extent?

Not too long ago – maybe two decades ago – our country was still on its way to becoming the pride of our people.

What happened?

Because the PAP played dirt-cheap politics and would do anything it can just to stay in power.

Today, our country is divided because the PAP would protect the rich over the poor and the middle-class, foreigners over Singaporeans (because of the agreements they have signed with the other countries) and their own cronies over Singaporeans.

Of course, the PAP’s support is built on a very weak base. How many among its supporters genuinely believe that the PAP has its heart for its people? How many who swear by the PAP swear because of the money they get to earn just by swearing?

It saddens me to see how our country has become so divided, where the large majority of Singaporeans who are poor and the middle class, and where those who cannot help the PAP make the money they want, are cast aside as leeches.

I find it very sad.

Maybe pardon me for being so blatant about my disdain today. I do not know if there are other ways to frame this.

I have come to a point where I realise that Singapore is in a state of limbo.

And if we truly want change for our country, we have to decide to want it.

The problem is, Singaporeans do not really know what we want.

And so we keep dancing cha-cha. Back, forth, cha cha cha.

And then we hope that at some point, things will change and the country will become a better place!

How so, we do not know. Just not too drastic, not too harsh, I will not be able to take it, we think.

OK, sure, then what is it we really want?

Nothing, then?

I think we have reached a point where we have to ask ourselves some very honest questions.

How much are we willing to risk to see change come to Singapore?

How far are we willing to admit that the PAP does not care for Singaporeans and stop living in the denial that they might, one day, some day?

How far are we willing to fight, instead of hide behind the frontline and hope that the truth will not hit us as long as we pretend not to see it?

Basically, Singapore is at a turning point, or in a state of limbo rather. And we will be stuck in limbo until Singaporeans decide what to do with ourselves.

And we will not be stuck in a nice limbo. As long we cannot decide what we want for the country, the PAP will continue to create policies to divide Singapore and Singaporeans, income inequality will continue to widen and life will be tougher.

So it will be a hard limbo. It will be like dancing cha-cha with 5-foot heels. OK, I kid, but you get my drift.

But at the very end of it, there is just one thing to ask. How ready are you to face up to the reality of things in Singapore and how willing are you to not deny what you see.

You see, these few weeks have been particularly hard for me. I am beginning to understand why Singaporeans live with a veil over our eyes.

You have to understand that I grew up being different and have been mocked for years. Growing up requires me to face up to the harsh realities of life, to understand why people hurl insults at me, and to pretty much confront these directly and learn to deal with them.

It requires me to be very honest to myself and to others.

But recent events have allowed me to once again understand why people would choose to live in denial – to pretend that these realities do not exist.

If there is one thing I have learnt about my life so far, it is that when we are willing to be truthful to ourselves, that it will give us the strength to deal with things, face up to things and actually change things.

And this is something that can needs to done in Singapore too.

But before we see change come to Singapore, it requires the people to take a hard look at ourselves, to ask ourselves if we are ready, and whether we are willing to be honest to the reality of things and face up to things.

And then change things.

My question to you is – are you ready?

Desmond Lee, It is the PAP Which Needs to Be Transparent and Accountable to Singaporeans for Our CPF

PAP CPF Transparency and Accountability

Dear Desmond,

I read your latest statement on the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

You said, “AHPETC has yet to explain its serious financial mismanagement, and the S&CC arrears.”

You also said, “Instead, we have seen a coordinated online campaign to distract the public, using falsehoods, half-truths and speculations, by friends, sympathisers and proxies of the Workers’ Party (WP).”

And you said, “The aim is to confuse the public and distract them from the real issues.”

“This is what the WP often does when caught under the spotlight – raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that they have not come clean,” you said.

Imagine my amusement when I read your statement.

Desmond, I, of all people, would know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a coordinated online campaign.

And you, of all people, would know what it feels like to launch such a coordinated campaign, as your party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), has been so fond of doing.

When I was sued by your prime minister, your party launched a coordinated online campaign to discredit my character, for what reason, you and your party know all too well.

Since I was sued, your party’s moles, or the Internet Brigade (IBs) as they are affectionately or unaffectionately known, rampaged my blog and criticised not only my character but also used “falsehoods and half-truths” to mislead the people.

For the sake of the freedom of speech, I have not stopped them from doing so.

Your party claimed to “always be on the side of Singapore and of Singaporeans'” but your actions show otherwise.

The IBs also attacked my Facebook page and left personal and offensive remarks on my Facebook wall. They also took to online forums to spread rumours about me.

The newspaper your party controls, The Straits Times, was also quick to report that I am gay, to use that as a means to attack my character, in the hope that you can cause antagonism against me.

For the record, I am proud to be who I am because who I am has given me an empathy to understand people and show compassion to others. I appreciate my journey.

I can only thank Singaporeans for being wise to the PAP’s snide ways and have not fallen for your tricks.

But your party’s actions are deplorable.

When the prime minister and I both submitted our affidavits for the defamation suit, your newspapers covered the prime minister’s affidavit extensively but refused to report on mine.

I sent emails to the newspapers to ask them why, but none of them had the ‘face’ to reply.

So, you can imagine my surprise when you would accuse the WP of the very thing your party does, and not only that, but does better, or worse.

Under the PAP, I have become yet another victim of your onslaught, all because the PAP wants to keep yourself in power and would do anything you can to prevent those who oppose you from speaking up.

I am not the first. But I am the latest.

Just so you know, I do not belong to any “coordinated” campaign you accuse Singaporeans of. I do it out of my own free will because I believe in justice and freedom.

I do not believe in using fear and the buying over of allegiance.

And if it makes any sense to you, it is unlikely that Singaporeans would be able to conduct any “coordinated” campaign when your party has effectively crippled the systems of cooperation among Singaporeans. But that the unison of voices will still appear coordinated to you should mean something – Singaporeans are today so frustrated with the PAP that our voices have come into a common unity without us even having to try to.

Do not forget that it was your party who had in 1963 accused more than a hundred opposition members, and labour and student unionists, and in 1987 accused more than 20 Singaporeans of being communist conspirators when it has been proven through and through that there was no such campaign. Instead, it was your party which had waged a coordinated campaign against these Singaporeans and jailed some of them for more than 30 years, even though they are innocent.

Today, we once again see your party launch coordinated campaigns against Singaporeans and the Worker’s Party but you yet have the audacity to turn around to accuse Singaporeans of doing something that your party has been doing for decades now, and without any integrity whatsoever.

You have taken the idiom, “the pot calling the kettle black”, to a whole new level.

So Desmond, please, stop. Please may your party stop pretending to be the victim and stop feigning to be honourable when your party’s very actions have betrayed the trust that Singaporeans have expected of their government.

Cardboard Collector

You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

I agree.

You also said, “AHPETC has yet to explain its serious financial mismanagement”.

Before you think that you are in a position to take the higher ground, please take a look at your own party.

Your party, the PAP, has yet to explain its “serious financial mismanagement” and a much worse one at that.

You said that the WP, “in FY10 the(ir) TC (Town Council) ran an operating surplus of $3.3m, but in FY12 it ran a deficit of $734,000.

You also asked, “Is the S&CC from Aljunied GRC residents being used to cover the deficit in Hougang TC?”

So you said, “If so, surely residents of Aljunied GRC are entitled to know?”

Wise words, Desmond.

Then may Singaporeans just as well ask, “Surely Singaporeans are entitled to know” what the PAP has done with our Central Provident Fund (CPF)?

In 2008, the PAP government lost more than $100 billion from GIC and Temasek Holdings.

In 2008, the PAP government spiked out the CPF Minimum Sum to trap even more of Singaporeans’ retirement funds inside the CPF.

Today, an estimated 90 percent of Singaporeans are not able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum in cash and many Singaporeans are not and will not be able to retire.

Today, we see many elderly Singaporeans working as cleaners, odd-job labourers and cardboard collectors because they are not able to take out their CPF.

Because your PAP government trapped our money inside your own coffers.

Many Singaporeans have asked the same question that you have asked of the AHPETC: “Did the PAP take the CPF of Singaporeans to cover for the losses of GIC and Temasek Holdings?”

GIC and Temasek Holdings lost $117 billion in 2008. In 2008, Singaporeans had $151 billion in our CPF.

What the PAP lost is 77% of our CPF. This is a lot of money.

I put to you and your party, “If so, surely Singaporeans are entitled to know?,” in your own words.

You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

But has your party been transparent and accountable as to how the CPF of Singaporeans is being used?

You said, “Only the TC knows the answer, but it refuses to answer. Why?”

Indeed, only the PAP knows the answer as to why the CPF Minimum Sum was suddenly spiked up and why Singaporeans today are not able to save enough to retire.

But the PAP refuses to answer.

Why?

You also said, “Since May 2013, AHPETC has stopped submitting its S&CC arrears data to MND.  It now also refuses to tell the public the truth.”

Now, if your own party has also refused to tell the public the truth, who are you or your party in a position to lecture another?

Singaporeans have been asking your party to release the full reports of the GIC and Temasek Holdings so that we know how our CPF is being taken away by your party and being used.

But your party says, “It is not in our national interest to publish the full size of our reserves.”

But this is the money of Singaporeans that we are talking about here. Our hard-earned money.

But the PAP refuses to tell Singaporeans the truth?

Why does the PAP refuse to answer?

Teo Ho Pin Aim Town Council Yawning Bread

Photo credit: Yawning Bread (Alex Au)

You and your party would pick on the $734,000 deficit that the AHPETC has.

But when Singaporeans ask your party about the $117 billion that the PAP has lost, you and your party would rather keep silent.

Let me put it in perspective for you – the money that your party, the PAP has lost, is 160,000 times that of the deficit of the AHPETC.

Let me spell it out – the PAP lost $117,000,000,000 of Singaporeans’ money.

You would heckle the WP over not even a million dollars but you would not challenge your own party over the loss of more than a hundred billion dollars.

I do not know if you can even see the irony in this or how hypocritical your party is.

You want to play politics and hit out at the WP, but if your party cannot even get your act together, please start doing so before you accuse another of doing something the crime your party has done even greater.

Today, Singaporeans are made by your party to sacrifice the largest proportion of our wages into the CPF. The 37% that we pay is the highest in the world.

However, our CPF retirement funds have become one of the least adequate in the world.

The PAP government then takes our CPF monies to invest in the GIC and Temasek Holdings and they have now become the top 10 richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

Desmond, the PAP knows why this is so. Why does it refuse to answer?

You said, the AHPETC “has also not answered questions from the public about the state of its finances today.”

But has your party answered questions about the state of Singapore’s finances today?

Since 2005, it is estimated that the PAP government has not declared to Singaporeans $200 billion in surplus.

This is $200,000,000,000.

Where did this money disappear to?

Like you asked, “How did this happen?”

“Surely Singaporeans are entitled to know?”

“Why has the PAP not answer questions raised by Singaporeans?”

Today, we know that your party is taking our CPF to earn 6% at the GIC but gives back to our CPF only 3%.

This money that is not returned is estimated to be hundreds and thousands of dollars, or even more than a million, that each Singapore is losing to your party.

This means that each Singaporean is losing more than the $734,000 that you are taking the AHPETC to task with.

If you have such integrity as to question the WP over this amount, surely you must have the same honesty to question your own party for the hundreds and thousands of dollars that each Singaporean is losing?

Or are you just trying to score political points?

Is the PAP just trying to “fix” the WP?

While your party is “fixing” the WP, Singaporeans have tried for many decades to ask your party to “fix” the CPF.

To grow our CPF, increase the CPF interest rates, and increase our wages.

Once this is done, all Singaporeans will be able to retire comfortably, and with dignity.

Singaporeans have already given your party the solutions.

But what has your party done?

Does the PAP want to listen?

You stridently accuse the WP that “when caught under the spotlight, (it would) raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that they have not come clean.”

But how dare you accuse the WP of something your party does best?

Screenshot (45)

In 2001, your ex-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew denied that the PAP government takes our CPF to invest in the GIC.

In 2006, he denied this again.

In 2007, then-Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen also denied that the PAP government takes our CPF to give the GIC to use.

But in May this year, the PAP government finally admitted to the truth, after pretending to Singaporeans for the past few decades – the GIC does take our CPF to use.

And when we asked for our CPF to be returned, what did your party say?

We asked you to return the interest and the money you earn from our CPF.

You told us the interest rate that you give us on our CPF is “secure”.

But you will not return our money to us. You will let yourself earn instead.

We said increase our wages so that our CPF can increase.

But you refuse to implement a minimum wage. You refuse to grow our wages.

But you would keep fighting for yourselves to increase your own salaries. You did that in 1984, 1994, 2000, 2004 and 2007.

Today, your party ministers earn the highest salaries in the world, in the millions, but Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages among the developed countries.

And our real wages have remained stagnant for the past 20 years, while that of the poorest in Singapore have gone down.

Where did you get all the money to increase your own salaries? It all comes from the money you take from Singaporeans.

Your PAP party will make Singaporeans pay to subsidise your salaries but you would not pay to subsidise our wages and the rising cost of living.

The PAP has no right to hold down our wages, and then take what we could have earned to pay yourselves such high salaries.

Your party says that you control the housing programme and that you set the price of the flats. So we said, please reduce housing prices so that we will have enough spare cash to use and to retire on.

But instead, you told Singaporeans to sell our homes, if we want to get our own money back to use.

Desmond, your party, the PAP, has been inhumane, selfish and despicable.

This year, the issue of the CPF blew up in the PAP’s face. But “when caught under the spotlight, the PAP would instead raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that you have not come clean”.

You accuse the WP of not coming clean but your party’s closet is full of skeletons.

We, Singaporeans, have taken all that in and kept quiet in the face of your party’s atrocities.

But when you turned around and accuse the WP of something that your party does ever worse and more so without shame, how can anyone sit back and allow you and your party to have your way?

Desmond, what you have said is dishonourable and what your party has done and been doing is downright disgusting.

You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

You are not even fit to say this. Not you, nor anyone in your party.

Not the PAP.

Singaporeans have asked for transparency and accountability from the PAP over the hundreds and billions of dollars that your party has taken from us and not accounted to us.

Today, Singaporeans are so much poorer precisely because your party has not been transparent and accountable.

To hear you ask another for transparency and accountability, when your own party has done nary that, you do not know how laughable this is.

It is hypocritical.

Finger

Desmond, before you and the PAP point one more finger at another, please take a look at the four other fingers pointing back at yourselves.

Where is the $117 billion that the PAP government has lost in 2008? Did the PAP government increase the CPF Minimum Sum to trap our CPF inside, to pay for the losses your party made?

Where is the $200 billion in surplus that the PAP has not declared to Singaporeans since 2005? What has the PAP taken all these money to use?

Where is the hundreds and thousands of dollars, and even millions that each Singaporean is losing to the PAP because of our CPF that is not returned?

What has your party done with our money? When is the PAP going to return it?

Together, the PAP has taken billions, if not trillions, from Singaporeans and not returned it.

“Surely Singaporeans are entitled to know.”

Why does the PAP refuse to answer?

Why does the PAP aim to “confuse Singaporeans and distract us from the real issues”?

Desmond, neither you nor the PAP has the right to chastise anyone else for having a lack of transparency and accountability.

Your party, the PAP, has committed the gravest crime in Singapore by taking the CPF monies of Singaporeans to use, without returning it and all the while refusing to be transparent and accountable about it.

You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

But you make me laugh, Desmond.

You would heckle Singaporeans and fine us hundreds of dollars for not paying the S&CC, so much so that some Singaporeans had to go to jail because they cannot pay the S&CC, let alone the fine.

You would not show compassion. You only want our money.

But why have Singaporeans not been able to afford to pay the S&CC? Your party has depressed the wages of Singaporeans for the past 20 years but you would blame Singaporeans for not earning enough?

When your PAP-run town councils lost $12 million in 2008 investing in bonds, we let it go.

Let’s move on, your party has been fond of saying.

But when the poor and elderly are not able to pay for the S&CC, you would fine and jail them.

And when your party takes our CPF, have you fined or jailed yourselves for taking our money and not return it to us?

Your party-run’s town councils lost $12 million but was there a thorough investigation? Did the PAP take anyone to task? But your party would malign the WP for something your party has done so many times worse.

Your party has taken hundreds and billions of Singaporeans’ CPF and our money and not return it.

But your party still has “not come clean”.

Desmond, neither you nor your party has spoken up for Singaporeans and protected Singaporeans from the ransacking that your party has done to Singaporeans.

The PAP said that you will “always be on the side of Singapore and of Singaporeans'”.

Some people have said, that is true, because the PAP is always only on the side of our backside.

Desmond, your party, the PAP, has committed the worst crimes that can be done to Singaporeans and yet you and your party continue to pretend to take the higher ground.

Yet, you and your party continue to wear white.

The dirt that your party has caused to the lives of Singaporeans is not a speck that can be so easily erased.

The hardship you caused on our poor is not something pretending will make it go away.

For 30% of our poor who will never earn enough to survive on and for two-thirds of the middle-income in Singapore who make barely just enough, the sins that you have done against Singaporeans is not something that will be forgotten.

It has been etched into our memories.

You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

But it is the PAP that has “confused the public and distracted Singaporeans from the real issues.”

But the PAP has “refused to tell the public the truth”.

But the PAP has “not come clean”.

Desmond, you are right.

“The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

But it is the PAP that has to be transparent and accountable to Singaporeans.

For the PAP has committed the gravest crimes against Singaporeans.

[POLL] What Do You Think of the PAP?

Afternote: This survey has been corrupted since Monday November 17. Mystery respondents were sent to skew the responses and thwart the objectivity of the survey. I will be doing an analysis on the results at a later date to showcase the actual results prior to this attack.

这是新加坡的问题所在,您愿意正视它吗?

The original article in English, ‘This is What is Wrong in Singapore. Now, are You Willing to See It?‘, can be found here.

在香港,人民上街游行表达对政府的不满。相对之下,新加坡人的无为而治就代表他们对政府表现满意吗?

新加坡和香港有许多相同之处,但在愿意挺身而出表达自己的立场这一方面,为何却有这么大的差异呢?

新加坡的生活条件真的比香港优越吗?

表面上,已在香港进行了一个月的雨伞运动是市民为民主的呼求。

然而,在这呼求背后根深蒂固的原因,是香港日益高涨的生活费和收入不平等导致香港人民生活越来越艰难。

香港人民将此归因于政府的亲商政策,只照顾企业的利益,却忽略了老百姓的生计。

新加坡和香港:任人唯亲与不平等相似的两座城市 

香港在经济学家杂志裙带资本主义指数上排行第一。

但新加坡也紧跟在后,排行第五。新加坡是世界上第五最容易托政治关系获得经济利益的国家。

Slide73

专家预测,新加坡政府通过淡马锡控股(Temasek Holdings)与新加坡政府投资公司(GIC)旗下的公司,包括提供必要性服务的主要公司,直接或间接操控新加坡经济的百分之60。

香港是发达国家中收入分配最不均的经济,新加坡紧跟在后,排行第二。

不仅如此,新加坡在东南亚国家当中收入分配最不平均,比马来西亚,印尼和菲律宾都不平均。

香港似乎在这方面表现比新加坡差,但在其他方面新加坡都比香港逊色。

新加坡表现比香港逊色

新加坡的贫富差距是发达国家中最高的。

How much richer are the richest 20% than the poorest 20%

新加坡高层管理的薪金在发达国家中最高,香港仅排行第三。

Slide100

香港政府在2011 年实施了最低薪金政策,并设定了贫困线。

香港最低薪金在去年上调后,目前设定于$1,300贫困线则定于百分之19.6

然而,新加坡政府却强烈抵制实行最低薪金政策,也不愿设定贫困线,声称这会产生“悬崖效应”

新加坡人仍然不了解设定贫困线如何导致“悬崖效应”,也不明白何谓“悬崖效应”。

新加坡实际上$1,000最低薪金在发达国家中是最低之一

今年年初,新加坡政府终于决定将清洁工人的薪金从$850调高至$1,000。上个月,政府也表示保安人员的底薪将从$800提升至$1,100,但在两年后2016年才奏效。到时,$1,100的实际价值将因通货膨胀而削弱。

清洁工人和保安人员占据新加坡低薪员工的一大部分。

虽然新加坡政府坚持不设定官方的最低薪金数额,但清洁工人所赚取的$1,000工资可以被视为实际上的最低薪金。

新加坡实际上的最低薪金比香港的$1,300低,而在发达国家当中或许是最低的。

在国民财富和生活费相似的国家当中,日本的最低薪金定于$2,000,澳洲和瑞士大约是$3,000,而挪威竟是$5,000。

Slide3

经济学家杂志把新加坡列为世界上生活费最高的国家,但许多新加坡人的薪金却没有随着生活费上升而增加。这意味着新加坡人的购买力是发达国家中最低的 – 低于香港,与印度不分上下。

photo 2 (11)

新加坡的贫困率估计是百分之30

新加坡国立大学(NUS) 副教授Tilak Abeysinghe 的研究显示新加坡收入最低百分之30的家庭每月开销是收入的百分之105到151

住户开支统计调查2013/2014显示收入最低百分之10的家庭每月收入只有$1,043,但他们的开销却高达$1,844,也就是他们收入的百分之177!

更糟的是,这些家庭只有百分之55的收入来自工资,其余百分之45得依赖政府的经济援助。

虽然没有官方的贫困线,新加坡的贫困率估计在百分之30 (请点击数据来源),比十年前的百分之20还高。

今天, 百分之30的新加坡人月薪少过$2,000。

令人忧愁的问题不仅如此。

新加坡政府的医疗开销是发达国家中最低的

香港政府的医疗津贴高达百分之50,但新加坡政府只愿意津贴百分之30。

新加坡政府也规定人民用公积金的保健储蓄(Medisave)购买健保双全计划(MediShield)下的全国性医疗保险。然而,在保健储蓄户头已累积的$660亿中,新加坡人在一年内所取出用于医疗开销的数额只有百分之1.3

除此而外, 新加坡政府也为最贫困的一群国人设置了医疗基金(Medifund),以提供医疗津贴。然而,在基金$41亿总数额中,只支出了百分之3帮助新加坡人

这导致新加坡人在发达国家中承担最高的自负医疗费用

Slide26

香港人民的住院与治疗费用设有$20的上限。然而,新加坡却没有类似的上限。在新加坡动一场手术平均得花费至少$1,500。

若需要动多次手术,国人得花费数千元不等。

在新加坡,中低收入层的国人没有得到妥善的政府援助,也没有足够的储蓄(三份之二的中等收入国人无法负担必需品以外的开销)。昂贵的医疗费将使他们陷入债务中。

近年来越来越多国人因无法偿还医药费而需要卖房子,甚至选择死亡

新加坡家庭的债务水平在亚洲排行第二,其中百分之22的债务人将医疗费列为欠债的原因

在热门课题退休金方面,相比之下,香港强制性公积金(MPF)的年化回报率是百分之5.5,但新加坡公积金(CPF)的平均回报率只有百分之3。类似的退休金如马来西亚雇员公积金(EPF)也赚取百分之6.35的较高回报率。印度雇员公积金的回报率则是百分之8.75,几乎是新加坡的三倍。

新加坡的财富没有归还给国人

新加坡人的生活水准比香港人卓越吗?

事实上,新加坡人的生活水准比香港人更低。

据南华早报报道,香港的个人消费开支向来维持在国内生产总值的百分之65,,然而在新加坡,这却下降至百分之35

2371a1bf8bd579fa5986ee9168f86a5a

新加坡人均家庭开支的增长也比香港缓慢

虽然如此,新加坡的人均国内生产总值增长却比香港快,而新加坡的国有资产目前在世界上是数一数二的。

5c70affd0c75f7b4d3ea7583aef10a80

但是,为何与其他发达国家相比,新加坡的贫困率却更高呢?

新加坡部长的薪金是世界上最高的。总理的$220万年薪是新加坡收入水平的前百分之0.1。

国会议员的$15,000月薪是新加坡收入水平的前百分之5。

多过半数的国人月薪少过$3,000。

Slide105

与挪威,世界上收入最平均的国家之一相比, 挪威最低收入员工的月薪是$5,000,而挪威总理的月薪只有$25,000。挪威的收入差距仅$20,000,与新加坡的将近$200,000收入差距形成强烈的对比。在挪威,低薪员工需工作5年就能赚取总理的薪金,但在新加坡低薪员工则需工作300年

新加坡同一政党执政了55年,近年来他们在1984,1994,2000与2007年调高自己的薪金。在每次的薪金调整后,贫富差距都增加了,而高收入层的国人所配得的收入也跟着增加

自1995年以来,最富有百分之10的国人所配得的收入从百分之30攀升至2011年的百分之42

Slide5

虽然国家越来越富有,但财富并没有归还给人民。目前执政的政党操控了政府,商务,工会,媒体等重要岗位,导致财富集中在最富有的一群人手中,效应并没有应验。

新加坡在裙带资本主义指数排行第五,但实际情况更糟,并且没有得到适当的媒体报道。 况且,新加坡在新闻自由指数上分别被记者无国界自由之家排行第150与152。 显然的,与香港人相比,新加坡人的生活条件在许多方面更差。但是,他们为何却不愿表达心中的不满呢?难道他们就满足于如此拘束的生活环境吗?

若非如此,为何新加坡人不愿挺身而出呢?

新加坡政府限制新加坡人民的权利与言论自由

在1963年,当时的政府对多过一百名反对党,工会与学生运动的成员展开政治攻击。政府利用内安法(Internal Security Act, ISA) 在未经审判的情况下扣留了这些新加坡人。

其中竟有新加坡人被扣留多过三十年,只在步入高龄后,不再对执政者有威胁才获得释放。

近期公开的英国档案资料揭露了新加坡政府当时并没有足够理由逮捕这些新加坡人。政府指被逮捕的人是共产党的叛乱分子,但英国情报局的调查却无法找到任何证据。

在后来的几十年,政府继续利用内安法(ISA)对付批评政府政策的新加坡人。

在1987年,多过20名政治活动家,社工与律师被政府囚禁起来,一些甚至被扣留两年以上。政府只有在各国多过200个组织抗议的压力下才将他们释放。

自1980年代后期,政府开始以诽谤的罪名起诉反对党的政治家,导致他们破产而无法参加选举。批评政府的国际媒体也同样被控诽谤。一名反对党成员被判赔偿多过八百万新币。

自去年,诽谤法,煽动法,和藐视法庭的控状也被用来对付普通的新加坡人。

虽然新加坡宪允许自由言论,集会与示威,但多过五人的集会却是违法的。在2009年政府颁布的公共秩序法下,就连一个人的示威也是违法的。

新加坡人唯一能够合法示威的地方只有坐落在市区里僻静的芳林公园。然而,几个星期前,政府却违背了之前的立场,控告六名新加坡人在那里参加示威活动。

即使新加坡人的生活艰苦,政府仍然阻止他们发言表达他们的苦境,导致新加坡人默默的受苦。

香港人民愿意挺身而出,勇敢抗议政府及政策的不妥,因为他们知道自己的权利,并且能够不受场地的拘束合法示威。

讽刺的是香港人对抗的是中国,而他们的声音如沧海一粟,能够影响大局的希望渺茫,但如果有同样多的新加坡人愿意站起来奋斗,执政党人民行动党(PAP)将会下台。

然而,新加坡人却被恐惧所朦住了眼,选择不站起来,并说服自己生活水平还可以接受。

显然的,事实并非如此。

政府组屋与公积金的双重机制控制了新加坡人的生活,并将他们拘束

新加坡政府通过一些措施将新加坡人拘束,并使他们向制度妥协。

政府组屋与公积金的双重机制有效地将新加坡人的薪金导流至这些“资产”中,导致新加坡人需要用多年的劳力来偿还贷款。

政府控制了公共房屋计划,并设定组屋的价格。将近百分之90的新加坡人住在政府组屋。新加坡人并非“拥有”他们所“购买”的政府组屋。他们只是签了99年的租约,实际上是长期的租用自己的组屋。

新加坡人因为无法赚取足够的工资,导致他们需要动用公积金来偿还房屋贷款。目前,新加坡人将工资的百分之37投入公积金户头里,是世界上最高的社会保障缴交率

Slide27

然而,新加坡人的退休金却是世界上最不足的其中之一

Slide5

原因是政府单方面增加政府组屋的价格。新加坡的公共房屋价格是全世界最高的,房地产价格也是世界上最高的其中之一。

新加坡政府也将土地成本加入组屋价格,占了总数的百分之60,虽然新加坡人并不拥有组屋底下的土地,而政府却是在六十年代以低价收购其土地。

新加坡人因此必须用公积金偿还日益上升的屋价,导致他们退休金的流失。今天,新加坡人平均用公积金普通户头款项的百分之55的来偿还房屋贷款

这样一来,新加坡政府通过政府组屋与公积金的双重机制有效地将新加坡人的薪金导流至这两样”资产”中,并使新加坡人相信他们拥有这些资产。

新加坡人赚取的微薄工资加上得应付世界上最高之一的生活费,意味着新加坡人必须工作一辈子,因为他们无法储蓄足够的退休金.这也是为何有这么多年长的新加坡人得当清洁工,散工和收集纸皮。

同时,政府用新加坡人公积金户头的退休金投资在政府投资公司(GIC),赚取百分之6的利息,却只支付平均百分之3的公积金户头利息。政府也声称GIC混淆了其他款项来投资,因此无法将所有百分之6的回报率归还给新加坡人。然而,GIC所运用的款项很有可能完全由新加坡人的公积金组成,包括未归还的款项

每位新加坡人因以上政策所遭受的总损失可能高达百万

因此,政府没有权利保留这额外百分之3的回报率。这是不道德的行为。

多年来,政府都否认将新加坡人的公积金投资在GIC,甚至在2001,2006与2007还继续否认,直到今年五月才被迫承认了事实

Screenshot (45)

新加坡政府在各各领域里从新加坡人身上牟利

应该说,新加坡政府在所有领域里从新加坡人身上牟利,无论是医疗,房屋,退休(如以上所述),教育或交通。

在教育方面,政府每年让新加坡人缴付大约$4亿的学费在本地的公立大学就读。然而,政府每年却颁发将近$4亿的奖学金给国际学生在新加坡免费就读。公立大学一年内的盈余也将近$4亿。新加坡人所缴的税并没有直接投资在新加坡人身上,但却用于其他方面,或留在政府的其他帐户内。

Slide1

相同的,在交通方面,新加坡人所付的车资足以抵消交通业者的营业成本。然而,新加坡人同时也得缴税。在其他国家,政府通常会用税收来津贴车资的一半。

政府也拥有新加坡的许多主要公司,而它们当中有许多提供必要性基本服务,如医疗,电讯,公共交通,公共事业等。它们有能力单方面将这些基本服务的价格调高,把重担传给新加坡人。

事实上,新加坡政府在最高层也缺乏透明度。去年,政府未申报的盈余高达$231亿。

新加坡人愤怒

新加坡人不愿发言并不代表他们不愤怒。

最新的iProperty亚洲房地产市场情绪报告显示,多过半数的新加坡人觉得组屋转售价格负担不起。

一项Blackbox研究调查也显示,半数以上的新加坡人认为公积金制度不公平。在中等收入与低收入层的新加坡人当中,百分之60认为公积金制度不公平。

The CPF Debate cropped

一项由新加坡国立大学杨潞龄医学院学生所展开的调查显示,多过半数的新加坡人认为新加坡的医药费无法负荷。百分之72的新加坡人表示住院,日间手术和慢性疾病的复诊费过于昂贵。

另一项连氏基金所展开的调查显示,在与死亡有关的恐惧中,医药费排行第一,百分之88的受访者表示这是令他们最恐惧的。

而我所对3,000名新加坡人做的调查结果显示,几乎百分之90的受访者认为应该实行每小时$10至$15的最低薪金。

新加坡有大量资金能够用来改善新加坡人的生活 

新加坡人没有得到妥善的照顾并非因为资金不足。

去年,政府未申报的盈余高达$231亿。事实上,自2005年,政府未申报的盈余可能将近$2000亿

公积金保健储蓄户头里有多过$650亿,而医疗基金内也有将近$40亿未归还给新加坡人。这两个户头里分别有百分之98和百分之97的款项没有被动用。

在教育方面,公立大学有至少$4.5亿的盈余。政府每年还有多余的$4亿给国际学生在新加坡就读。

在交通方面,交通业者新捷运(SMRT)刚宣布单在今年第二季(9月30日截止)的净利润增加了百分之75.5,至$2,530万。

建屋发展局售卖每间组屋赚取至少百分之60的利润,多年来的利润估计有$1,000亿至$2,000亿。

公积金退休户头内的总余额有$2,650亿,在去年新加坡人只能取出$150亿(或少过百分之6)。

GIC用公积金投资所赚取的利润,将近$2,000亿没有归还给新加坡人

另外,或许还有$1万亿在新加坡国家储备金内(GIC$4,000亿,淡马锡控股$2,239亿,金融管理局官方外汇储备金$3,400亿)。

总共可能有上百亿,甚至上万亿的资金可以用来为新加坡人提供免费医疗,教育,并让年长的新加坡人能够退休。

新加坡人也会有能力购买组屋,不需用大半辈子偿还房屋贷款。

$200亿至$300亿就能确保新加坡人得到妥善的照顾,但政府宁愿让新加坡人受苦,而自己享有世界上最高的薪金。

新加坡政府在各方面都失败了,而且不保障新加坡人的利益

新加坡人并没有要求免费的基本服务,但是世界上跟新加坡有相同国有财富与生活费的国家往往津贴百分之70至85的医药费,提供免费教育,大力津贴幼儿教育,并津贴一半的车资.新加坡在这方面远远落后。

新加坡政府只津贴百分之30的医药费.然而,在挪威,国民财富与生活费与新加坡相似的国家,国民需支付的医药费设定了每年$400的上限。新加坡并没有类似的上限,而医药费可能高达上万元。香港人住院与治疗费的上限是每天$20

除此之外,新加坡人也缴付世界上最高的大学学费。在相同国民财富的国家如北欧国家与德国,大学教育是免费的。

新加坡人也支付最昂贵的托儿费。新加坡人平均每月支付$951,但挪威人只须支付最多$430

新加坡人支付的车资足以津贴交通业者的营业成本,公共住屋也是全世界最昂贵的。雪上加霜的是,新加坡人的薪金和购买力是发达国家中的最低之一。

别忘了新加坡是全世界拥车最昂贵的国家。那些有幼儿,需要方便的运输方式的家庭未必能负担得起。

挪威的最低薪金是新加坡的五倍,薪金中位数是新加坡的两倍,但是他们的医药费和托儿费却设有上限,而大学教育是免费的。您不难发现,新加坡人需以微薄的工资应付过高的生活费。

这是现代的奴隶制度。

新加坡政府宁愿隐瞒问题明哲保身

人民行动党政府尽量隐瞒事实,甚至在年报数据里让收入不平衡表面上显得较低,并从公积金年报中删除了工资分配的有关数据

Gini Coefficient 2008 vs 2010 vs 2013

删除或调整数据并不能解决问题。

事实 上,人民行动党政府想方设法阻止新加坡人领悟问题的严重性,最终导致新加坡人的生活水准无法突破。

政府有足够的资金确保新加坡人有妥善的社会保障,但却声称这样做会消耗国家的储备金。新加坡的社会保障开支在发达国家中是最低的,只有国内生产总值的百分之3.5(相对之下挪威的开支是百分之22.9)。 同时,政府将自己的薪金大幅度调高。他们买得起多栋私宅,但一般新加坡人的组屋自1994年却不断缩小。

人民行动党政府在很多方面行为前后矛盾。

新加坡的社会问题严重,因为收入不均在发达国家中最高。新加坡的囚禁率是世界上最高之一,人与人之间的信任与社会阶级的提升率却是最低之一,但在自我感觉良好方面却是最高的。

这就是新加坡的模式

总而言之,这就是新加坡的模式-限制言论自由,压制人民的权利以达到经济增长的目的。政府付给自己世界上最高的薪金,同时将人民的工资压底,并提高价格,从人民身上牟利。

然后,强制人民将工资的一大部分放入公积金里。公积金最初是为退休用途而设立,但后来却被政府用来投资,从中牟利。人民也将大部分的钱用来购买政府组屋。政府使组屋的价格不断攀升,并让人民相信他们拥有自己的组屋,最后以低价收购组屋,牟取更多的利润。

以上模式对政府而言是有百利而无一弊的:靠低工资推动经济增长并从中牟利。

然而,这也导致一系列的心理问题。新加坡的精神病和自杀率可能是世界上最高之一。社会上也出现许多裂痕。新加坡人在最不愿帮助陌生人方面排行世界第二,快乐指数也是世界最低。我们已学会抑制自己的情绪,成为世界上最冷漠的人民,或许是因为我们没有表达的空间。

国家濒临崩溃,但我们却不愿面对事实。

参与“新加坡模式”的国家都明白,这样做能使经济表面上增长,但却忽略了大多数的人民。他们的薪金被压低,以让富有的一群人的工资和盈利增加。明白“新加坡模式”的弊端与对社会的负面影响,却继续提倡它,简直是虚伪的做法,特别是一些声称为世界利益奋斗的组织也表示支持与纵容。

解决问题并改善新加坡人生活的方法

解决问题的方法很多,而且很简单。

事实上,数以百计的学者与公民社会的成员也在过去几十年来提出建议,但却被政府忽略或驳回。

首先,设定贫困线,将最低薪金设定在贫困线水平,或通过最低薪金和津贴的组合帮助在贫困线以下的人民。

再此,根据Lim Chong Yan教授的推荐,增加中等收入与低收入国人的工资,并调低租金以让公司在成本方面有更大的灵活性。而且,研究也证实,工资增加百分之10,只会造成食物价格上升百分之4,一般价格则只增加百分之0.4。

人民的购买力将会增加。

较高的工资也会提高受聘率,生产率,消费,与企业的盈利,最终促进经济增长。

其次,增加医药津贴,并效仿设有医药费上限的国家。国人的身体健康,生产力也会提高。

若我们真正相信教育是对人民最好的投资,就应该提供全面性的免费教育。

房屋价格应和人民的购买力挂钩,而价格的涨幅不该超越工资的涨幅,例如德国。

缩短工作时间。

将公积金百分之6的回报率还给人民。

人民将对工作更投入与积极。

生产率将增加,新加坡人更愉快,生育率上升,社会更团结,并产生共同的使命感。

新加坡人将重拾遗失的自豪感。

我们知道问题所在吗?是的。

有解决方法吗?的确。

但是我们有没有实施以上解决方案的政治意愿?

没有。

不幸的,只要新加坡在人民行动党统的治下,情况就不会改善。人民行动党自1982年将党宣言的重心从追求”平等”转移至“自食其力”,削减对新加坡人的援助,不顾他们是否应付得来。

人民行动党不关心新加坡人,您相信吗?

在人民行动党政府的治理下,新加坡人民的生活并没有改善。

反之,与其他发达国家相比,新加坡人受到更差的待遇。

新加坡政府也阻止新加坡人批评不妥的政策,限制他们的言论自由,甚至利用法律压制反对的声音。

同时人民行动党大幅度增加自己的薪金,涨幅远超过一般国人的薪金增长,并责怪国人不努力提升自己。事实上政府没有制造对新加坡人有利的环境。

photo 2 (32)

最终,人民行动党政府关注的并不是新加坡人的利益。从他们推行的政策可以看出,他们有意从新加坡人身上牟利。

若新加坡人继续相信人民行动党,因为以为别无选择,我们就已经放弃了我们自己与后代的未来。

唯一的方法:投票取代人民行动党

对我而言,解决方案很明确。我们应该遴选一个愿意垂听建议的政府。新加坡人将从新找回自己的权利。政府将会认真实践几十年来智库专家,学者,公民社会与普通新加坡人所提出,经过仔细研究的建议,以改善新加坡人的生活。

反对党没有能力治理国家的谎言将不攻自破。

成千上万的公务员能够实践这些解决方案,为新加坡带来希望。数以万计的新加坡人将照常提供我们所须的基本服务。

国会里三分之二的议员将来自反对党。权利不应该集中在一个政党手中。

政府也会让一些主要的机构独立,如公务部,司法部,媒体,工会,及各学术组织等等。这样一来,它们就能各自竭尽所能,同心协力改进社会。

我们要的是一个有怜悯之心的政府,以塑造一个彼此关怀的社会。

最后,我衷心留给您的一番话就是:我们可以选择站起来奋斗,或眼睁睁看着国家沦落。当新加坡最终崩溃的时候,我们只能问自己,我们曾尝试踏出第一步吗?

新加坡人必须承认生活素质恶化的事实,并采取实际行动改变现状。然而,如果新加坡人选择忍受人民行动党不公平的政策,我们像史上不平等的社会一样遭受崩溃的厄运是迟早的事。到时候,新加坡人有足够的毅力克服吗?

如果面临欺压新加坡人也不愿意站起来,我们不禁会问:新加坡人有能力以行动改变自己的命运吗?

好了,我已经把问题和解决方案都例在这篇文章里。问题是:您会怎么做?

I am Tired. I Do Not Know if I Can Still Carry On the Fight, If It’s Just Me.

I knew what I was getting myself into, but I still fought.

In fact, when I first started writing 2 ½ years ago, I knew that one day I would lose my job. But I still wrote.

When I first started writing, I wanted to advocate to the government for change. I thought that perhaps the government hasn’t heard us, so if I could reach out to them, they would start listening to Singaporeans and change the policies to protect Singaporeans.

How naïve I was.

Less than a year into my writing, I realised that the PAP government does not care about Singaporeans. After analysing the new policies that they would introduce, I realise that there is always a caveat – the policies will always be crafted in such a way that would benefit the PAP at the expense of Singaporeans.

I still remember that after Budget 2013 was announced, I broke down.

It was then that the shock sunk in – they didn’t listen. They were not going to! I cried. To think I had naively believed that the PAP would actually listen.

That night, I met a friend. We discussed how Singaporeans needed to vote right so that we can vote for the opposition into the government, to protect Singaporeans.

But I went home dejected.

I did not know if I could continue writing, after realising the truth – the PAP was not going to take care of us.

Thus I snigger when I hear the PAP say things like, “The PAP will always be on Singapore and Singaporeans’ side.”

If the PAP is truly on Singaporeans’ side, they wouldn’t have come out with policies since the early 1980s to hurt Singaporeans.

For the past 30 years.

When I got home that day, I did not know if I could write again. For the next few days, I felt betrayed. Could I write again? The PAP would not listen.

Roy Ngerng smiling edited

[Photo credit: Channel NewsAsia]

But soon, I picked myself up. I started compiling the statistics about Singapore. I was on a new direction – I needed to let Singaporeans know the truth.

If the PAP wouldn’t listen, at least I needed to let Singaporeans know.

The journey wasn’t easy.

First, I had to learn to think all over again.

When I first read about how it is the responsibility of the government to subsidise its citizens so that we would be taken care of and protected, I was taken aback.

“You mean, the government is supposed to take care of us?”

After being told for years that you either rely on yourself or you fail, I have learnt to believe that if I am not good enough, then it is because I simply wasn’t good enough.

The more I read, the more I realised how I have been taken for a ride all this while.

A government is supposed to take care of its citizens. Why weren’t we ever told that?

Why were we only told that if we fail, that’s because we are stupid?

By May this year, I was on a rampage. I had gone on a crash course over the past two years, learning what the PAP has been doing to us for the past 30 years.

I needed to let Singaporeans know! I had to let Singaporeans know that we are being abused!

What I didn’t know was that Singaporeans weren’t ready to know.

Or to face up to the reality of things.

When the suit finally came, I thought to myself – I have to fight this.

I fought because I believed that a few months down the road, the people would rise and fight together.

It never came.

When I first discovered that the government was taking our Central Provident Fund (CPF) retirement funds to earn 6% in the GIC while only giving back 3% to Singaporeans, I couldn’t wait to let people know.

There was no reaction.

Or what about how the government was taking our CPF to keep for themselves and how we are losing as much as half of what we should have gotten back? This would have gone into the hundreds and thousands or even millions for each Singaporean.

Still no reaction.

Or what about how the government is also on the GIC Board of Directors? Isn’t there a conflict of interest?

Still, there was none.

I was disillusioned. I fought because I had hoped.

I had hoped that Singaporeans would join in in the fight.

If they knew how their lives were being marginalised, maybe this would compel them to stand. Maybe this would make them rise and take their lives back.

And as I kept writing, I started to question if this was ever going to happen.

Since May, I have written about a hundred articles which exposed how the government was taking our CPF to earn for themselves.

With each protest I spoke at, I asked myself – so what? Would things change? Would people stand?

But I needed to keep up with it. I needed to give people hope.

10685582_10152471123944582_1320893545186454718_n

But within me, the fire was flickering. How could I keep fighting, when people aren’t? When they wouldn’t?

But I pressed on.

By the end of September, we made some bad mistakes. We got ourselves cornered.

The bad publicity rushed in like the mad cow disease. So did the PAP ministers and members of parliament run amok in their criticism.

They had a field day tearing us apart.

But that was fine.

What could be worse than what I was already going through?

Moreover, I have always believed that my conscience is clear. And I know that I could hold my head up high because I have always done what I believed was right and always acted with integrity.

I have done what I could.

But what disappointed me was not the PAP. I hold no grudges against them.

I even waved at Deputy Prime Minister Tharman when I saw him in parliament once. His head a bit shiny but otherwise a nice smile he would always put, that was until I questioned him at the forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies.

Still, it wasn’t the PAP that disappointed me. I had grown accustomed to their actions by them.

When some in the opposition parties and civil society activists also criticised us, I was … shocked.

Of all people, I would expect them to … at least understand.

I wasn’t doing this just for myself. Yes, I want a more equal society, I want a more just society. I want our people to be treated right. I want the poor and the old to be able to live with dignity in our country.

I want a better place to call home.

Yes, I was also rash, impatient, impulsive. I ran too fast. I didn’t wait. And got myself into all sorts of trouble.

But it shouldn’t be about me, should it?

I was doing it because I believe in a better future. Could we all invest in this future together? It doesn’t have to be me fighting for the cause. It could be someone else. I just happen to be the face of it, for now, for then.

But I would gladly have someone take over.

When even the opposition and activists criticised us, my heart sank.

Now, I am not angry with the opposition and activists. But … I was disappointed.

In this time of oppression in Singapore, the least we needed to do was to unite against the oppressor – the PAP.

We might have our differences but I believe that we need unite against a common goal, so that once we achieve freedom, we would be able to recreate our home.

But I do not blame the opposition and activists.

I understand why they did what they did. If I am a politician, I would do the same.

The PAP has created a culture of fear where even the opposition and activists have internalised it. You have to play on the safe side so that you won’t be eaten up alive.

That was something I never understood. I only knew how to barge. I was impatient. I have seen their cruelty and I didn’t want to wait.

I understood why the opposition criticised me – if they could distance themselves, at least it protected them from the wrath of the PAP to come.

It worked, and I am glad for them.

I will soon become unelectable, but the opposition parties need to preserve themselves for Singapore and Singaporeans. They know that. And they know that they needed to play the game.

And so I understand.

And Singaporeans, you must understand.

Worker's Party

The opposition has done a great deal.

Some might think that the Worker’s Party has been quiet. I personally wish that they could speak up a bit more.

But in the two years that I have written, it is also because the Worker’s Party has spoken up that has allowed many among us bloggers to shed light on what the PAP is really doing.

Because of the Worker’s Party and the Singapore People’s Party’s questioning in parliament, we get to know things like how of the $66 billion we have contributed to Medisave, we are only allowed to use 1.3% in a year. And we are only allowed to use 3% of the Medifund funds that have been set aside.

I also thank Dr Chee Soon Juan from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) for speaking up for us when the incident happened.

For all his life, Dr Chee has dedicated his whole life to fight to bring democracy to Singapore. I do not think that I can ever live up to what he has done for Singapore.

I will be honest here – it has been unfortunate that Dr Chee has been labelled as crazy by the PAP and this image he stayed with him.

Have any of you met or spoke to him before? I have, briefly. But from what I have seen, this is a very smart man who has a vision for Singapore – he wants to bring equality to the people. You can see it in the policy papers that the SDP has released.

But has he deserved the respect that he should rightfully have? Because the media gatecrashed his image and Singaporeans fell for it?

Just as they have once again.

Chee Soon Juan

The National Solidarity Party has also taken pains to meet with the SDP and the Singaporeans First Party (SingFirst) to look into collaborating more intensively with the other parties.

The parties are doing what they can, in quiet steps, to see to it that change can come to Singapore.

I understand why they have to do what they do. I hold no grudges.

But what disappointed me as well – when Singaporeans as well were swayed by the PAP’s propaganda.

I wrote for two years and fought for five months precisely because I hope that we could awaken to the truth and straighten out our minds.

But when some Singaporeans got sold to their depiction of the story, I became dejected.

No! I fought because I wanted Singaporeans to know.. but now, it was going down the drain.

They knew it, they had planned for it, and they managed to turn things around for themselves.

They won. I lost.

That doesn’t matter.

What matters was that Singaporeans would understand.

But when that started being lost as well, I realised what it all meant.

I don’t know if Singaporeans are ready for change…

I fought because I hoped that a few months down the road, Singaporeans would rise.

It wasn’t going to come.

But again, I understand why Singaporeans do what they do.

The people closest to me have told me too – you have to understand, I have my flat to pay for, my children to take care of. I can’t stand up. If I do, what will happen to my family and my children?

Which is why I envy the Hong Kong people. In interviews with the media, they say – because of my family and my children, because of my future, I will stand up. I will fight.

I was touched when I read that.

Image:

But this is the state that Singapore has become – the fear so deep-seated that our logic is now ruled by fear.

As much as we put the blame on foreigners for coming into Singapore, many are able to come in, and recognise what is wrong in Singapore almost immediately – they can tell how the PAP is f***ing Singaporeans up. They do what they need to do here, then they leave.

They can go back home.

But Singaporeans, this is our home. We do not dare to acknowledge what is going on, because we feel powerless to do anything about it. And so we decide that things are acceptable, we hope that things will go away, hoping that one day, Singapore will become a better place.

And so, we backtrack on our anger sometimes. We turn our anger into repressed feelings of frustration.

But by doing so, we are doing ourselves in.

Over the past few months, as I waited for Singaporeans to rise and join the fight and when nary a few came, this is what I learnt to understand.

The foot soldiers were never going to come.

Now, my friends, let me tell you a grim reality – your hero is going to die. And you know it.

But you were waiting and watching, hoping that maybe he is strong enough to fight the battle and will come out alive.

I am sorry to disappoint you. I am only one person. And they know that they can beat me up alive. And they have.

I thank you for your support. I thank you for raising funds for me to fight this battle.

But you need to understand, as long as you don’t join in, there is little else I can do.

When the battle is over and done, I will be left in a corner, picking up the pieces.

Another hero bites the dust and you will be left going back to your days of silent repression.

You might also hate me – why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I plan better, so that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall into a trap? Why wasn’t I smart enough?

And you might blame the people around me. Why was Hui Hui so impulsive? Why did she not think for Roy?

For the faults that Hui Hui has, she was one of the very few people who stood by me and fought.

And the some of the people who have come for our events and have been dragged down with us as well.

roy_court_271014 (1)

The reality is that no one can save us, unless we save ourselves.

I was a blip, like many of the blips that had come, some survived and are living to fight another day, like Dr Chee, while some died fighting for Singapore, like J. B. Jeyaretnam.

Some have continued strong and silently, like Low Thia Kiang and Chiam See Tong who remains in our hearts and minds.

But no matter who comes along, only you can save yourself.

Only you can help yourself.

But will you?

Someone asked me – I am worried about my job, my house, my life etc. I want to stand up but I am afraid of losing this. Can you tell me what I should do?

I cannot give you an answer.

But what I can tell you is this – I have lost my job and my life here (for how many will employ me again?), but I stood my ground.

What Singaporeans do not realise is this – if hundreds and thousands of you decide tomorrow that you want to rise against the tyranny of the PAP, what can they do?

Send in their soldiers? These soldiers are the boys, and men, and women in Singapore – our family. Will they lift a finger to hurt us? Maybe the few aligned to the PAP will but the soldiers who really matter? Will they?

The PAP knows this as well. They know that if Singaporeans decide tomorrow to stand and fight back against them, they will fall.

And Singaporeans will be liberated.

You will keep your jobs. And your homes.

But they are also betting that if they can continue to scare one or two people, they can set an example for the rest.

They didn’t succeed with me. I fought. And I fought because I thought you would.

To your question on what you can do if you do not want to lose what you have? Fight together, that’s the answer.

When all of us rise and fight, we get the PAP out, we will still keep our jobs and our lives.

Will Singapore collapse without the PAP? Don’t kid me, c’mon. You honestly think that after the years of education that only the PAP is good enough to run the country?

If no one else among us can run the country, then I will say our country never had a future to begin with.

The PAP knows this as well. And that is why they try their darndest to fix the opposition.

You have a chance, Singaporeans. You know it, but you don’t dare to take that step.

Fear is very powerful, but fear can also become a source of strength. Do we want to wait for our lives to collapse before we finally see the reality of things?

FreeGreatPicture.com-51021-thick-clouds-and-road

Many among those who went to Hong Lim Park to hear us speak went because they have lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings. And that is when they finally feel the pain.

Before they lost what they had, they were also believing in the PAP, trying to hope that if they do not see the bad side of things, the bad will never come to haunt them.

But you know that it is only a matter of time that if you do not do something about it, you will be the next one on the chopping board, or your children.

It is only a game of hide and seek.

Remember how mother told you never to play with fire? Well, you are still playing with it.

But I don’t hate the PAP.

The PAP is doing what they do because they have to. If you want to fight for your own survival and your own wealth, you would do the same.

It will be selfish for us to blame the PAP for doing what they did to us. When it is us who gave them the chance to.

If our first instinct is to scold the PAP and get angry with them, without first doing it to ourselves, then we are hypocrites.

Then we are cowards. Which we are.

The PAP are only a few people who have been enshrouded in a belief system that they have been brought to believe in and which makes sense to them.

Just like I have a belief system which makes sense to me – and a few others. I believe in a more equal society, a fairer place where the young and old, the unemployed, whether you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, or transgender, or whether you are disabled, or whether you like animals, are a cyclist, etc, that this is a place we can share and grow together in.

PinkDot 2014

At the end of the day, it is our growth as human beings that matters.

This is what I believe in.

Does the PAP believe in that? Maybe some of that but they have other priorities as well – how to grow their own wealth, for example. Every time they increased their own salaries in 1994, 2000, 2004 and 2007, income inequality in Singapore rose with it. So did the share of income that goes to the rich.

Today, the rich-poor gap in Singapore is the widest among the developed countries.

But a country is not made for only a few who control the resources but is made up of all the inhabitants that live in the country.

A country’s pathway has to be decided together by all its beings.

And this is where we have gone wrong, but no means only the PAP’s fault. For we let them.

If Singapore is the way it is today, you have a part to play in it. It would be unfair to blame the PAP.

We had a chance but did we take it? We could speak up but did we do it? We could speak to others to change things but did we do it?

If things are the way they are today, every single one of us have a responsibility as to how things turn out.

It would be childish and irresponsible to keep blaming the 60% of them. Aren’t we all Singaporeans? If we truly believe in a Singapore, why are we dividing by ourselves?

Yes, they might use the divide and conquer method. But that doesn’t mean we fall for it.

You really think 60% of Singaporeans voted for the PAP? I reckon it is much lesser. Or would have been.

Thing is, does it matter who the PAP is? Does it matter who the opposition is? Does it matter what this country is.

At the end of the day, the question you have to ask yourself is – what do you want of this country and what are you willing to do for this country and for your fellow countrymen?

If you wouldn’t do it, then don’t expect it from others. If you wouldn’t speak up, then why complain?

If we truly want change to come to Singapore, then we have to decide what we want to do for it. For if we choose to remain silent, then silence it will be for Singapore and change will not come.

I am tired. I have fought but I have had also a unique opportunity to look at things from a vantage point – to observe how Singaporeans have acted, and how the PAP has acted.

It has been an eye-opener.

I have fought but I do not know if I have the energy to keep fighting, or if I should shrivel away into my hole, and hibernate for a while.

I have to tell you the truth. The PAP has managed to press down on me. They have won this round.

But my life doesn’t matter. Someone told me this and I agree with him – one day I will be forgotten as I will soon be, and as many others have.

Now and then, you see people from the looney fringe – yes, you can feel free to call me that – come out and do some stupid things like challenge the government (or rather, the PAP) because you want to stand for integrity and justice and you fight your way through.

Some people fall, some people get co-opted. Some people fade into oblivion.

But change will come not by one or two but by the many who believe enough in it to want to stake their lives and fight for their lives.

Perhaps some are right to say that in Singapore, our tolerance level is so high that even as our lives are even more marginalised by the PAP, that we are willing to take our tolerance to a whole new level – and this is not a compliment.

For until collapse comes then, only then will Singaporeans and the PAP alike feel the pinch.

I want to appeal to Singaporeans and the PAP to come to our senses and to come together for our country’s future.

But I do not know if I still have the energy to do this.

I write this with an aching heart, as a soreness drills itself into the depths of my chest, disheartened.

The Singapore High Court Says I have Defamed the Singapore Prime Minister

The High Court has passed its judgment today on the defamation suit that the Singapore prime minister has sued me with.

I have received the judgement. I am disappointed as I have never intended to defame the prime minister.

I will still continue to speak up on the CPF and other issues that concern Singaporeans.

There needs to be transparency and accountability on the CPF, so that Singaporeans’ lives are protected and our elderly can retire with dignity.

This was what I ever stood for.

A pre-trial conference will be held next week, on 13 November 2014 at 10am.

Related:

I Filed My Affidavit for the Court Case to Fight for Singaporeans’ CPF and the Mainstream Media Did Not Report On It!

Lee Hsien Loong’s Reply to My Affidavit: Roy’s Affidavit is “Irrelevant” and “I Should Not Dignify the Defendant’s Abuse of the Process of this Court”

This is What is Wrong in Singapore. Now, are You Willing to See It?

Since the people in Hong Kong would march onto the streets to show their disdain to their government but Singaporeans are willing to just sit back, it must mean that the people in Singapore are really contended with their government, right?

Singapore and Hong Kong are sister cities in many ways, but yet when it comes to stepping up and taking a stand, why do the people in Singapore differ so much from Hong Kong?

Is Singapore a really better place to live in than Hong Kong?

On the surface, the Umbrella Movement, as the month-long protest in Hong Kong is called, is a call for democracy by its citizens.

But rooted in this demand is the fact that the cost of living in Hong Kong has increased and income inequality has widened to the extent that livelihoods have become more difficult for the people in Hong Kong.

The people in Hong Kong have attributed this to a government which only looks out for business interests while allowing the lives of ordinary Hong Kong people to languish.

Singapore and Hong Kong: Sister Cities United in Cronyism and Inequality

Indeed, Hong Kong is ranked first on The Economist’s crony-capitalism index.

But Singapore is not ranked far behind. Singapore is fifth. Singapore is the fifth easiest in the world for someone to get rich if they are politically-affiliated.

Slide73

In fact, estimates put the Singapore government as owning as much as 60 percent of the Singapore economy. The Singapore government owns two investment firms, GIC and Temasek Holdings, which also owns the major companies which provides essential services in Singapore.

Hong Kong is the most unequal economy in the developed world but Singapore follows immediately behind, being the second most unequal.

Not only that, Singapore is also the most unequal country in Southeast Asia – yes, even more unequal than countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

But this is perhaps up to where Hong Kong can be seen as doing worse than Singapore. On other measures, Singapore performs even more disastrously.

But Singapore is Even Worse Off than Hong Kong

The rich-poor gap in Singapore is the highest among the developed countries.

How much richer are the richest 20% than the poorest 20%

The executives in Singapore are the highest paid among the developed countries. Hong Kong only comes in third.

Slide100

The Hong Kong government implemented a minimum wage in 2011 and defined a poverty line last year.

Minimum wage in Hong Kong stands at about $1,300. It was revised upwards last year. Poverty is set at 19.6 percent.

In Singapore, however, the government has been heavily resistance towards implementing a minimum wage and refuses to define a poverty line, claiming that this will create a “cliff effect”.

Singaporeans still do not know how a poverty line will lead to a “cliff effect” or what a “cliff effect” actually means.

Singapore’s De Facto Minimum Wage of $1,000 is the One of the Lowest in the Developed World

Earlier this year, the Singapore government finally decided to increase the basic wage of cleaners from $850 to $1,000. Last month, they said that security guards would receive a basic wage of $1,100 (up from only $800 now), but the government will only allow this to take effect after two years, in 2016. By then, the real value of $1,100 would have decreased.

Cleaners and security guards form the bulk of low-income workers in Singapore.

Even though the Singapore government insists on not implementing an official minimum wage, the $1,000 that cleaners would be getting can be taken to be the de facto minimum wage.

But even this de facto minimum wage is even lower than the $1,300 that the people in Hong Kong get and when compared to the other developed countries, Singapore has the lowest, if not the lowest minimum wage.

For countries with a comparable level of national wealth and cost of living, Japan has a minimum wage of about $2,000, Australia and Switzerland has roughly $3,000 and the lowest-paid Norwegians earn around $5,000.

Slide3

Even as Singapore is now ranked the most expensive city in the world by The Economist, the lowest wages that Singaporeans receive mean that Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power in the developed world – even lower than Hong Kong and on par with India.

photo 2 (11)

Singapore’s Poverty Rate is Estimated to be 30 Percent

A study by National University of Singapore (NUS) Associate Professor Tilak Abeysinghe has shown that the poorest 30 percent of Singaporean households have to spend 105 percent to 151 percent of their incomes.

In fact, the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) 2012/13 showed that the average monthly income of the poorest 10 percent of households is only $1,043 but they have to spend $1,844, which means that they have to spend a whooping 177 percent of their incomes!

Not only that, only 55 percent of their income was derived from work, while they are forced to beg for financial aid from the government for the rest of the 45 percent.

Thus in spite of not having an official poverty line, the poverty rate in Singapore is estimated to be around 30 percent (and link here), and up from 20 percent about a decade ago.

Today, 30 percent of Singaporeans earn less than $2,000 in wages every month.

But the depressing conditions do not stop there.

The Singapore Government Spends the Least on Healthcare among the Developed Countries

The Hong Kong government spends about 50 percent in health subsidies while the Singapore government is only willing to spend 30 percent.

The Singapore government also forces Singaporeans to pay into a national health insurance scheme but in this Medisave scheme, where Singaporeans have put in $66 billion, Singaporeans are allowed to use only 1.3 percent of the money accumulated.

The Singapore government also provides Medifund subsidies for the poorest of all Singaporeans but even in the $4.1 billion accumulated, the government is only willing to return Singaporeans only 3 percent.

This has resulted in Singaporeans paying the highest out-of-pocket expenditure among the developed countries.

Slide26

Whereas the people in Hong Kong only need to pay a cap of S$20 for daily inpatient care and treatment, there is no similar cap in Singapore. One operation can set a Singaporean by an average of more than $1,500.

And if someone would need to go for multiple operations in a year, it would set them back by several thousands of dollars.

For lower-middle income Singaporeans who do not receive adequate assistance from the government and who are barely able to save for their expenses (two-thirds of the middle income have only enough to buy what they need but not anymore else), this would ensure that they go into certain debt.

It has become more commonplace now to hear of Singaporeans who have had to sell their homes or even chosen to die because they cannot afford to pay their healthcare bills.

In fact, Singapore is now ranked as having the second highest debt in Asia, and debt due to the inability to pay for medical bills makes up 22 percent of the debtors.

And when comparing the hot potato topic of the retirement funds, the Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) earns annualised returns of 5.5 percent every year, while Singaporeans only earn an average of 3 percent on the Central Provident Fund (CPF). And when you compare with other similar provident funds, even the Malaysian Employees Provident Fund earns a much higher 6.35 percent and the India Employee’s Provident Fund earns nearly triple the amount of 8.75 percent.

Singapore’s Wealth are Not Being Returned to Singaporeans: The Government Takes the Money away for Themselves

Are Singaporeans doing better off than the people in Hong Kong?

Not really. In fact, Singaporeans fare much worse.

The South China Morning Post has shown how the personal consumption expenditure as a percentage of GDP for the people in Hong Kong has maintained itself at about 65 percent. However, for Singaporeans, this has gone down to 35 percent.

2371a1bf8bd579fa5986ee9168f86a5a

And the household spending per capita in Singapore has also grown much slower than in Hong Kong.

All these even as the GDP per capita in Singapore has risen much faster than Hong Kong, and Singapore today has one of the highest national wealth.

5c70affd0c75f7b4d3ea7583aef10a80

But why are Singaporeans still the poorest among the developed nations?

It does not help that the Singapore ministers pay themselves the highest salaries in the world – the Singapore prime minister earns a reported $2.2 million which puts him at the richest 0.1 percent in Singapore.

The Members of Parliament are paid $15,000 a month which puts them at the richest 5 percent in Singapore.

Half of Singaporeans do not even see $3,000 every month.

Slide105

When compared to one the most equal countries in the world, the lowest-income Norwegian earns $5,000 a month while the Norwegian prime minister earns only $25,000. The wage gap in Norway is only $20,000, as compared to the gap of nearly $200,000 in Singapore. It would take only five years for a low-income Norwegian to earn what their prime minister earns, but it would take nearly 300 years for a Singaporean to do so.

The Singapore government has been controlled by the same ruling party for the past 55 years. In recent years, they have increased their own salaries in 1984, 1994, 2000 and 2007. With each increase, income inequality rose, followed by the increase of the share of income to the rich in the following year.

From 1995, the share of income that goes to the richest 10 percent in Singapore has spiked up from 30 percent to 42 percent in 2011.

Slide5

The country is getting rich, yes, but the wealth is not being returned to the people. The current ruling party, which has controlled the government, businesses, labour unions, media and pretty much everything else has allowed the wealth to stay at the top while any claimed trick-down economics never happened.

Singapore might rank 5th on the crony-capitalism index but the real extent of the situation is worse than that and goes unreported.

Singapore is moreover ranked 150th and 152nd on the press freedom index by Reporters without Borders and Freedom House, respectively.

It is clear Singaporeans’ lives are in many ways more compromised than the people of Hong Kong. Yet, why have Singaporeans not spoken up? Are they contended to live in slave-like conditions?

If not, why do Singaporeans not speak up?

The Singapore Government Clamped Down on Singaporeans’ Rights and Free Speech

In 1963, the current government launched a political attack on more than a hundred opposition members, and labour and student unionists. They detained these Singaporeans under the Internal Security Act (ISA), and without trial.

Some of these Singaporeans were imprisoned for more than 30 years and released only when they are very old, when the government felt that they no longer could pose a political threat to the regime.

Recent revelations by the British archives showed that the Singapore government had no reason whatsoever to arrest these Singaporeans. The government claimed that the people they arrested were communist insurgents but it has been revealed that when the British intelligence had then investigated, they found no evidence of this.

Over the next few decades, the government continued to use the ISA against Singaporeans who spoke up against the government’s policies.

In 1987, another more than 20 activists, social workers and lawyers were rounded up and imprisoned, some by more than two years, before the government was pressured to release them after more than 200 organisations around the world protested against the Singapore government’s actions.

From the late 1980s, the government started to use the defamation law to sue opposition politicians to bankrupt them and to prevent them from running for elections. The defamation law was also used against the international media if they were to critique the Singapore government. An opposition party member was sued for more than $8 million.

By last year, the defamation law, Sedition Act and the charge of Contempt of Court were also used against ordinary Singaporeans.

Even as the Singapore Constitution allows for the freedom of speech and expression, as well as the freedom to assemble and protest, the government has but then made it illegal for a group of five people or more to assemble. In 2009, the government created the Public Order Act to make it illegal for even one person to protest.

The only space that Singaporeans are allowed to protest today is at the Hong Lim Park, in a secluded part of town. However, two weeks ago, the government backtracked on this and charged six Singaporeans for joining a protest there.

Even as the lives of Singaporeans are being withheld from them, the Singapore government disallows them from being able to speak up about their plight, causing Singaporeans to live and suffer in silence.

The people in Hong Kong can stand and fight because they are aware of their rights and have the space to protest against the tyranny of their government. However, the Singapore government has used the law to their advantage to marginalise the rights and lives of Singaporeans.

The irony is that the people in Hong Kong know that against China, they have minimal influence but for Singaporeans, if as many people as in Hong Kong would stand and fight, the current ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP) would fall.

However, blinded by their fears, Singaporeans choose not to stand up. Singaporeans also choose to rationalise themselves into believing that their lives are acceptable.

Clearly, it is not.

The Dual HDB-CPF Mechanism to Control Singaporeans’ Lives and Tie Them Down

The Singapore government has also used several tools to entrap Singaporeans into a state of institutionalised submission.

The dual institutions of public housing and the CPF retirement funds has been used to great effect, to siphon off Singaporeans’ wages into these “assets”, to then trap Singaporeans into a situation of perpetual work to pay off these “assets” which they have been led to believe that they “own”.

The government controls the public housing programme and sets the prices. Nearly 90 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing. Singaporeans do not own these Housing Development Board (HDB) flats that they have been made to “buy”. They only lease it for 99 years – it is long-term renting.

As Singaporeans do not earn enough in wages to pay for the flats, they have to use the CPF to pay for these flats. Today, Singaporeans have to sacrifice 37 percent of their wages into the CPF retirement funds – or the highest social security contribution rate in the world.

Slide27

However, even so, Singaporeans actually have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world.

Slide5

The reason is because the government unilaterally increase the flat prices – Singapore has the most expensive public housing in the world and one of the highest property prices in the world today.

The Singapore government also incorporates land costs into 60 percent of the flat prices even though Singaporeans do not own the land the flat sits on, and the government has actually acquired the land very cheaply in the 1960s.

Singaporeans then use their CPF to pay into ever-increasing housing prices, which saps away their retirement funds. Today, Singaporeans have to pay an average of 55 percent of their CPF Ordinary Account into housing mortgage loans.

As such, the Singapore government’s dual control of the HDB and CPF allows the government to siphon off Singaporeans’ money into these two “assets” which they have led Singaporeans to believe that the people own.

On top of the lowest wages that Singaporeans are made to earn and with one of the highest prices in the world, this means that Singaporeans are forced to work for the rest of their lives because they can never save enough to even retire. This also explains why there are so many elderly Singaporeans who continue to work as cleaners, labourers and cardboard collectors.

Meanwhile, the government takes Singaporeans’ CPF retirement funds to invest in the GIC to earn about 6 percent in annualised returns but returns only an average of 3 percent to Singaporeans’ CPF. The government claims that they have mixed up the funds that the GIC uses and is thus unable to return the full 6 percent to Singaporeans. However, it is likely that the all the funds that the GIC uses are made up fully of Singaporeans’ CPF, when including the money that is not being returned.

In total, each Singaporean is losing as much as hundreds and thousands of dollars, or even millions, to the government.

As such, the government has no right to retain the additional 3 percent. Such retention is unethical, for lack of a better word.

Yet all this while, even as they take Singaporeans’ CPF to invest in the GIC, the government still denied doing so several times in 2001, 2006 and 2007, before they were forced to admit the truth by May this year.

Screenshot (45)

The Singapore Government Profit from Singaporeans across All Sectors

In fact, the government profits from Singaporeans across all sectors – in healthcare, housing and retirement (as explained above), and also in education and transport etc.

In education, the government makes Singaporeans pay about $400 million to study in local public universities. However, the government gives away close to $400 million to international students to study for free in Singapore, and public universities save more than $400 million in surplus. The tax collected from Singaporeans do not go back towards investing in Singaporeans but are siphoned off for other uses, or absorbed into the government’s own coffers.

Slide1

Similarly, in transport, Singaporeans pay enough in transport fares to cover for the operating expenses of the transport operators. Yet, Singaporeans also pay tax. In most other developed countries, the government would use the tax collected to subsidise half of the transport fares.

The government also owns the major companies in Singapore, as well as the companies which provide essential services in Singapore, such as healthcare, education, telecommunications, public transport, public utilities etc, and jacks up prices of these services unilaterally which squeezes Singaporeans to the brim.

In fact, the Singapore government’s lack of transparency goes all the way to the top – last year, there is an undeclared surplus of $23.1 billion that the government did not report to Singaporeans.

Singaporeans are Angry

It is not for a lack of anger that Singaporeans are not speaking up.

The latest iProperty Asia Property Market Sentiment Report showed that more than half of Singaporeans felt that resale flat prices are not affordable.

A Blackbox Research survey also showed that more than half of Singaporeans believed that the CPF is unfair. Among low- and middle-income Singaporeans, a higher 60 percent believe that the CPF is unfair.

The CPF Debate cropped

A survey by medical students from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine also showed that more than half of Singaporeans felt that healthcare in Singapore is unaffordable. 72% of Singaporeans felt that hospitalisation, day surgery and chronic disease follow-up procedures are too expensive.

Another survey by the Lien Foundation found that medical costs are Singaporeans’ top fear of dying, with 88 percent of Singaporeans saying that it scares them the most.

A survey by this author of nearly 3,000 Singaporeans also showed that nearly 90% believe that a minimum wage of between $10 and $15 per hour should be implemented.

Singapore has A Lot of Money Which Can Be Used to Improve the Lives of Singaporeans

It is also not for a lack of funding that Singaporeans cannot be taken care of.

Last year, Singapore has an undeclared surplus of $23.1 billion. In fact, since 2005, there is a staggering more than $200 million that has not been declared by the government to Singaporeans!

There is more than $65 billion in Medisave and nearly $4 billion in Medifund that is not given back to Singaporeans. This represents 98% and 97% of the funds that are not being used, respectively.

In education, the public universities have at least $450 million in surplus. The government still has excess to give another nearly $400 million away for international students to study in Singapore.

For transport, one transport operator SMRT announced that it saw a 75.5 per cent rise in net earnings to $25.3 million just for the second quarter of this year (which ended on September 30) alone.

HDB earns at least 60 percent in profit from each sale of a flat that it is estimated that they could easily have earned between $100 billion to $200 billion in profit over the years.

There is a total balance of $265 billion inside the CPF retirement funds, of which Singaporeans were able to withdraw only $15 billion to use last year (or less than 6 percent).

Of the interest on the CPF earned by the GIC, it is estimated that close to $200 billion has not been returned to Singaporeans.

There is also possibly another trillion in the Singapore reserves (with GIC managing an estimated $400 million, Temasek Holdings managing $223 billion and another $340 billion in the Official Foreign Reserves managed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore).

In total, there are hundreds of billions of dollars, or even trillions, that the PAP government has siphoned off from Singaporeans that would very easily be able to give all Singaporeans, and even non-Singaporeans in the country, free healthcare and education, and allow all elderly Singaporeans to retire today.

Singaporeans would also be able to truly afford their homes and would not have to spend their whole lives paying off the flat mortgage.

It would only take another $20 to $30 billion to ensure that all Singaporeans can be properly protected and taken care of – only a tiny fraction of the billions and trillions that the government has stashed away, yet the government would rather let Singaporeans suffer but would shower themselves with the highest salaries in the world.

The Singapore Government Falls Short on Every Count and Does Not Protect Singaporeans

Of course, Singaporeans are not demanding free services across the board, but where countries with a similar level of national wealth would spend between 70 and 85 percent on health, provide free education and heavily subsidised childcare education, as well as to subsidise half of transport fares, Singapore falls severely short.

The Singapore government only subsidises 30 percent for healthcare. But in Norway where the national wealth and cost of living is similar to Singapore, a Norwegian only needs to pay a cap of $400 every year for healthcare. There is no cap for Singaporeans and medical bills can go up to the tens of thousands. The people in Hong Kong only pay a cap of $20 per day for inpatient care and treatment.

Also, Singaporeans have to pay the most expensive university tuition fees in the world while for other countries with a similar of national wealth such as in the Nordic countries and Germany, university education is free.

Singaporeans also possibly pay the most expensive childcare fees – Singaporeans pay an average of $951 every month for childcare while Norwegians only need to pay a cap of $430.

Singaporeans pay enough in transport fares to fully subsidise the transport operators and also pay for the most expensive public housing in the world, all these coming out of one of the lowest wages and lowest purchasing power among the developed countries.

This is not forgetting that Singapore is also the most expensive country in the world to buy a car, so for families with children in tow who need a convenient form of transport, they can forget about it.

Now, mind you, the Norwegians earn a minimum wage of five times that of Singaporeans and a median wage of more than twice as high, yet they only need pay a cap for healthcare and childcare and are able to go to university for free. You do not even have to do the maths to realise that Singaporeans are forced to earn meager wages to pay overly-exorbitant prices.

It is modern-day slavery.

The Singapore Government Would Rather Hide the Problems and Benefit Themselves

The PAP government might do its darnedest to pretend and hide this knowledge – to the extent of artificially reducing the income inequality statistics across the years over subsequent annual reports and to remove the wage distribution statistic from the CPF Annual Report.

Gini Coefficient 2008 vs 2010 vs 2013

But removing or fudging the statistics does not mean the problem will go away.

In fact, the PAP government’s actions is aimed only at preventing Singaporeans from knowing the full extent of the problem, so that they can continue to perpetuate their model of marginalising the lives of Singaporeans.

Where the government has more than enough money to ensure that social protection expenditure increases to take care of Singaporeans, it is despicable when the government continuously refuses to do so, claiming that this will reduce the country’s reserves when it already spends the lowest in social protection among the developing countries – only 3.5 percent of GDP (In comparison, Norway spends 22.9 percent), while at the same time justifying their salaries to sky-high levels so that they can afford their several bungalows and private property, while Singaporeans live in ever-decreasing flat sizes since 1994.

The hypocrisy of the PAP government knows no bounds and it is beyond deceit and conceit.

The social problems are massive – because of having the highest income inequality among the developed countries, Singapore also has the highest prisoner rate, the lowest levels of trust, one of the lowest social mobilities and Singaporeans also have the highest rate of self-enhancement, or a sense of seeing oneself as better than others.

This is the Singapore Model

In a nutshell, this is the Singapore model – restrict the freedom of speech and oppress the people so that you can grow the economy, hell bent on making sure that only you benefit from it so that you can pay yourself the highest salaries in the world (including your cronies). Meanwhile, depress wages and increase prices across the board, since you own all the companies, and earn the highest profits in the world off the people.

Then take the people’s wages and with whatever is left of it, make them pay it into what was a retirement fund but is now really a holding vault for you to siphon the money away to invest and earn money for yourself. At the same time, also siphon off the people’s money into the public housing which you control as well, make the nearly 90 percent of them who are not your cronynies stay in these flats and siphon even more money away from them by jacking up the housing prices. And make-believe to them that they own the homes they buy, which you will take back at low cost, so that they will lose even more money.

It is a sure win for you if you operate on the Singapore model – the economy grows on slave wages while you continue to siphon off the wealth for yourself.

But this comes with a whole host of psychosocial problems – possibly the highest rate of mental problems and suicide rates that go under-reported, and a ruptured society where Singaporeans have become the second least likely to help a stranger in the world, have one of the lowest levels of happiness and have learnt to repress our emotions, being the most emotionless people in the world, since we are not allowed to express ourselves anyway.

And a country on the brink of collapse, but in massive denial of it.

Countries which collude with the ‘Singapore Model’ know full well that by partaking in this model that the economy might look like it can grow but this is at the expense of the large majority of their populations who have to work on suppressed wages, only so that profits and the salaries of the rich can grow. To champion the ‘Singapore Model’, yet knowing full well what its pitfalls and social degenerative effects are, smacks of hypocrisy, especially when promoted or tolerated by international organisations which claim to work in the interests of the world.

Here are the Solutions to Improve the Lives of Singaporeans

Solutions? Plenty. And easy.

Indeed, hundreds of academics and civil society individuals have already voiced out on them over the past few decades, only to be ignored or slammed down by the government.

For a start, define a poverty line, implement minimum wage to that level or a combination of minimum wage, and subsidies for those who fall below the poverty line.

Increase wages for the low- and middle-income, pretty much like what Professor Lim Chong Yah had recommended, reduce rents to ensure companies have the breathing space to adjust around for costs– moreover, a study has shown that a 10 percent increase in wages will only result in a 4 percent increase in food prices and a 0.4 percent increase in general prices.

Purchasing power will increase.

Higher wages have also been associated with higher employment and higher productivity, increased consumer spending and higher profits for businesses – in the end, higher economic growth.

Increase health subsidies – in fact, follow the wisdom of countries where patients need only pay a cap on healthcare every year. A healthy population is a more productive one.

And if we truly believe in the education and investment of our people, provide free education at all levels.

Housing prices pegged to the purchasing abilities of the people and should not rise over and above the increase in their wages, as in Germany’s case.

Reduce work hours.

And return the interest of 6 percent earned on Singaporeans’ CPF back to them.

What will we get?

A less stressed out population which will be more committed and motivated at work.

Productivity will increase, Singaporeans will become happier, fertility rate will increase, more babies, and a society which will be strengthened, where a common purpose will develop.

And once again, Singaporeans will understand what it means to be proud to be Singaporean – something that we no longer understand today.

So, do we know the problems? Yes, we do.

Are there solutions? Yes, there are.

But is there political will to implement these solutions to better Singapore?

No.

Unfortunately, as long as Singapore remains under the rule of the PAP, things will not change. The PAP has mandated since 1982 that their priority is on “self-reliance”, having changed their manifesto from achieving “equality” to one where its focus is to reduce its assistance on Singaporeans and to push them to rely on themselves, dead or trying.

The PAP Does Not Care about Singaporeans, Will You Believe It?

Thus it is not that Singaporeans’ lives are better off. Neither is it because the Singapore government has run the country well.

Instead, as compared to the other developed countries, Singaporeans are treated the most inhumanely by their government and some would argue to be even worse than other developing countries.

The Singapore government also prevents Singaporeans from speaking up against such mistreatment by curbing their rights to speak up against the government’s atrocities.

To that end, they have used the law to prohibit any dissent from preventing Singaporeans from being able to do so.

Meanwhile, the PAP would shower itself in massive salary growths that outstrips that of ordinary Singaporeans and would lament Singaporeans’ lack of effort in trying to better themselves, when it was never the PAP’s interest to create an environment that will be conducive for Singaporeans to do so in the first place.

photo 2 (32)

In the end, the PAP government’s priority is not to take care of Singaporeans. It is clear from their marginalisation of Singaporeans and by the policies that they have concocted to trap Singaporeans that their intention is to earn from Singaporeans at every step of the way.

There is no other way to say this – the PAP does not care about Singaporeans and if Singaporeans continue to blindly believe in the PAP because we believe that there is no other option, then we have given up on our lives and are putting not only our lives, but our children’s lives at risk and in danger as well.

The Only Solution – Vote the PAP Out

For me, the solution in Singapore is clear. For a start, I would put in a weak government where Singaporeans will finally be able to regain our power and strength. When that happens, demand that the new government act on the solutions that the thinks tanks, academics, civil society and ordinary Singaporeans like you and I have been championing for, for the past several decades – solutions that have been thoroughly researched on, to improve the lives of Singaporeans.

The whole crap about how the opposition is not strong enough to run the country and how the country will collapse – all a fallacy.

There are tens of thousands of people in the civil service who will be able to act on these solutions and bring hope to Singaporeans. Tens and thousands of Singaporeans running the essential services that you use.

If we are only going to get 90 puppets in government now anyway, then we might as well make sure these puppets count. I would put in at least two-third of the government as opposition members, so that for once, Singaporeans will finally have a chance.

What you want is not a government that has all the power that it can decide what to do with your lives at its whims and fancies.

What you want is a weak government, or rather, a new government that would listen to you and is independent of the other estates of governance – civil service, judiciary, media, labour unions, academia, etc, so that these institutions will work separately and together, to uplift the people in the society.

What you want is a government with a heart, and a society which will also learn to nurture its own heart.

So, this is my parting remark to you – we either stand up and fight or we go down without ever putting up a fight. When the time comes that Singapore eventually breaks on the seams, we will only have ourselves to question – why didn’t we ever take that step?

It is up to Singaporeans now to be willing to admit to the state of their lives, so that we will take the affirmative action to change things. However, if Singaporeans continue to live as willing victims under the current ruling party PAP’s repressive rule and policies, then Singaporeans would have to brace ourselves for the collapse that will ensue, as all unequal societies in history have faced. Then, the question would be whether Singaporeans would have the resilience and strength to overcome such an event.

But where Singaporeans have shrunk from standing up in these times of oppression, the ability of Singaporeans to act when required is now being called into question.

So, there you have it – problems, solutions and how to do it all in this article. The question is, what would you do?

Why the PAP Backtracked on the Freedom of Speech from 2004 to 2014

When there was a change of government in 2004, one thing that the PAP did not understand then was that you cannot allow for more freedom of speech and still expect to be able to earn more money from Singaporeans, yet expect that no one will question your behaviour.

In 2004, PAP embarked on a bold belief to allow for more free speech. Lee Hsien Loong said in his swearing-in speech as prime minister in 2004, “Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas, or simply be different. We should have the confidence to engage in robust debate, so as to understand our problems, conceive fresh solutions, and open up new spaces.”

image

When the new government came onboard, it seemed that they wanted to establish themselves from their predecessors. In their minds, they would have thought – more free speech, higher GDP growth, more wealth, let’s make it look like we are a “progressive” government and win the hearts of the people!

Indeed, Lee Hsien Loong also said in 2004, “Through our hard work and dedication we have together built a cohesive and progressive nation that is founded on the principles of meritocracy, social justice and compassion.”

From a marketing perspective, all these looks very nice. But from a fundamental perspective, the new PAP got some things wrong.

PAP Underestimated the Dejection of Singaporeans with the Government

First, for the first 40 years of PAP’s rule prior to 2004, the PAP criminalised public protests and demonstrations (except for the token allowance at Hong Lim Park from 2000). They also controlled newspapers, and TV and radio stations. In effect, they were able to limit the grievances and outpouring of Singaporeans, by sculpting the story the way they want it – Singaporeans were happy and fortunate, and lives were beautiful. Doesn’t matter if this is not the reality, PAP needed to make themselves look good and appearances matter more than reality, for aren’t looks deceiving?

Alongside, during the first 40 years, PAP began to increase their own salaries, reduce subsidies for essential services for Singaporeans and made Singaporeans pay more than is required for these essential services. Meanwhile, PAP also reduced tax for the rich while making the rest of Singaporeans pay more of our wages into CPF. This caused inequality and poverty to rise in Singapore. Poverty is estimated to be about 30% in Singapore today.

However, because the PAP was able to control the media and restrict the freedom of speech, they were led to believe in the illusion that because Singaporeans were not speaking up against what the PAP was doing, Singaporeans were generally contended, or rather that Singaporeans would not have the guts to speak up against what the PAP was doing.

So, in 2004, the PAP would have thought – we have a new government, let’s make ourselves look progressive by allowing more freedom of speech, but not knowing what the impact will be. Yet, at the same time, they wanted to continue to earn more money and make Singapore a more unequal place. Herein lies the next fundamental issue that the PAP doesn’t understand.

You Either Have Free Speech or North Korea

Since 2004, over the past 10 years, income inequality and poverty have risen, housing prices have risen while wages have remained stagnant, purchasing power has declined, and the cost of living in Singapore has risen to become the most expensive in the world.

Alongside this, more and more Singaporeans have harder lives and more Singaporeans are speaking up against the lack of protection of the policies to protect our labour rights and livelihoods.

Naturally, as people’s lives become harder, they would only continue to speak up further.

However, from the PAP’s perspective, they are beginning to realise that you cannot want to continue to siphon money away from the citizens and cause inequality to widen, while at the same time allow people to speak up.

You either choose to be North Korea, where you prevent people from speaking up against you and make all the money you want, or you become a truly progressive country where you allow people to speak up, to voice out what’s wrong, what solutions can then be implemented, so that the country advances as a whole, inequality lessens and the country truly progresses.

In short, the PAP cannot have its cake and eat it as well. This was the second fundamental point the new PAP did not understand.

Progressiveness is Not GDP Growth

Which leads us to the third fundamental point which the PAP does not understand. Progressiveness is not just about how rich the country becomes or how much the rich can earn. Progressiveness is about how your citizens as a whole advance, how your country becomes more equal so that everyone can advance altogether, which also explains why progressive taxation is one where the rich are taxed more, so that the wealth can be redistributed to allow the poor to advance as well.

When the new PAP came into government in 2004, these were three fundamental points that they did not understand, and they could not because they were trapped in their elitism bubble. Yes, apparently being in the ivory tower has its pitfalls too.

image

PAP Started the Internet Brigade in 2007

As the PAP’s new but disjointed strategy started to take shape from 2004, PAP realised the mistake of its follies – you cannot give people the freedom of speech, if you still want to make money from them. You have to silence them, if they start questioning you. No wonder the old PAP wanted to instill fear in the people, to prevent them from speaking up, but it was too late for the new PAP to backtrack then. They wanted to upkeep their appearance as the modern, cool and relevant government.

So, in 2007, they got some of the younger PAP members of parliament to spearhead a team of people who are now known as the Internet Brigade (IB), with the aim to go online to steer the conversation. If people were going to speak up against the PAP, then let’s steer the conversation back to be in favour of the PAP.

Their efforts failed disastrously. PAP saw its lowest votes in the 2011 general election.

PAP Descended the Laws Onto Ordinary Singaporeans

No matter, last year, PAP went even further. At the most basic, there are three tactics that the PAP have been using to “convince” the people – (1) persuasion (such as via the IB), (2) rules and (3) laws.

The first tactic by using the IB failed miserably and for a while, the PAP was not ready to use the law to the full extent on Singaporeans yet. So let’s come out with a stop-gap rule, and so the Licensing Rule by the Media Development Authority, aimed at committing bloggers and online commenters to financial penalties for speaking up against the government, was created.

The rule backfired terribly against the PAP, as many bloggers were riled up and protested in one of Singapore’s largest protests in recent history. The PAP silently shied away from the ruling, perhaps with the intention to implement it closer to the date of the next general election (which is expected to be held soon).

What PAP did not understand is that there cannot be freedom of speech, and yet expect people to want to curb themselves from speaking freely (but of course, responsibly). Such an irony exists in the minds of the decision-makers within the PAP but such disjoint does not in the logical minds of people.

So, since both persuasion and rules did not work, the PAP decided that the use of the law was the only way out for them, to protect their wealth, as much as it was heavily unpopular.

And thus what transpired with well-known blogger Alex Au and comic artist Leslie Chew, and so on.

However, at this point, all the curtailing of rights and the backpedalling on letting Singaporeans have the freedom of speech was confined to the restriction of online discourse.

Clamping Down on Free Speech at Hong Lim Park

Then, the PAP felt that it unnecessary to act on the protests, as the protests had yet to get traction and the PAP was able to deride the protests by giving them minimal and distorted coverage in the mainstream media controlled by them, so as to limit the spillover effects of the protests.

PAP would have also understood that it is necessary for people to “vent” their frustrations, so that the pent-up anger would have lesser of a chance of exploding in the face of the PAP, where revolution might then take place, and thus the creation of the Speaker’s Corner in the first place to prevent that.

However, since last year, with several protests attended by a significant number of people, numbering in the thousands, the PAP started taking the threat that the protests would pose to their rule seriously. We can stop what the media we control say, but we cannot control what the bloggers and online social media is saying, and they are beginning to gain more traction than we do, and not just online but in physical space!

So, the PAP decided something needed to be done.

Fear Takes Root in the PAP, Creates Insecurity Among Themselves

The PAP’s next steps became more disparate and rushed. Over the last few weeks, they have been seen to change their tactics desperately. From the non-coverage of the protests, they decided to cover them, but with a strong negative slant. Specifically, the PAP targeted the protest organisers and participants, this in itself a recognition by the PAP that the protests have gained traction and that the protests and their organisers have become a threat to the PAP.

In the next desperate move, the police started investigating the organisers and participants for criminal acts.

Before we even go into analysing the futility of such actions, the PAP’s actions only go to show one thing.

The PAP is desperate. And because of their desperation, their bad planning is beginning to show. To act on their plans without the proper think-through of the consequences, or if they knew the consequences and yet still carried them out, goes to show how feeble the attempt the PAP has in trying to protect themselves.

Gone are the days of the old PAP who knew what they were doing, who had thought through their actions, anticipated them and carried them out exactly – to the full impact of victimising Singaporeans. These days, the PAP runs around like headless chickens, ironically they themselves fearing their loss of their power and thus as they act out their fears, they allow their bad planning to befall on their plans as well.

Limit people’s freedom of speech, give them a token space to speak, then charge them for breaking the law while they exercise their basic right as a citizen at that space. This is like taking a lollipop away from a child, then deciding that maybe the child can still have the stick of the lollipop and when the child starts licking the stick, smacks the child for doing so.

It simply does not make sense.

To Fear or Not to Fear?

But if one is to appraise the PAP’s actions over not only the past few weeks or months, but years, we begin to see a story coming through, a story of a new government which wanted to continue to establish itself as a forerunner in the world, but without the deep-rooted understanding that its predecessors had, committed themselves into a promise that they realise they could not and did not want to hold on to, and as they could not reverse what they had done, they started to rely on old methods to hopefully ensnare Singaporeans back into a fear, which would allow them to then continue to advance their plans – to continue to earn from the people.

The ultimate question at this point is – would Singaporeans allow the PAP to ensnare you back into fear?

This is why maybe the rhetoric that it is not important for Singaporeans to study for degrees. Maybe Singaporeans do not need to be given to many statistics because it is not in your personal or national interests to know.

And why not? The more you know, the more you will know what the government is really doing to your money and your CPF. And if you do, what are you going to do?

The (new) PAP regrets saying that they wanted to open up the Singapore society. And with what has happened over the past half a year, the PAP cannot be even more flabbergasted by how badly the situation has backfired on them.

At this point, for the PAP, they will do anything to bring back security for themselves, and this means using fear and the law to prevent people from speaking up. At least if they can reverse what they would deem as damage that has been done, they would then be able to embark on their plans (to keep earning money) with much lesser interference.

Because honestly, if China can do so with 1 billion people and keep the control, why not the PAP?

Well, because China does not have elections. The only saving grace for Singaporeans now is that we have elections. The PAP is going all out to silence dissent and instill fear so that at the next election, they can still be kept in power. God knows what will happen if they are put back into power. Will all hell break loose? Will we see another Operation Coldstore or Operation Spectrum? All signs point to a PAP which would be more willing to take hardhitting action to keep themselves in power, and this means moving closer towards the North Korea option.

For Our Families, Will We Fight Back or Hide?

The final question for Singaporeans now is this – is our survival important enough for us to know that we need to speak up and fight back, if not at Hong Lim Park, but at least in the voting booth? Or is our survival so important that we will fear and shrink back into our shells?

Both forms of survival are quite distinct. For one, the fear lies in the fear of what will happen to our bodily self and how we fear the pain that will affect us as one person alone, and thus choose to accept the oppression and keep quiet.

The other lies in knowing what is at stake for our country if we do not speak up and do what is right and in knowing that for the greater good of our country, we need to do what is right to protect ourselves and our families, and to vote for a government that will take care of us, to give us a new lease of life.

At this point, it is up to Singaporeans now. The PAP can very easily clamp down on one or two or a few Singaporeans and stop the efforts to demand for change, but the PAP would not be able to stop hundreds and thousands of Singaporeans who feel similarly and prevent the PAP from sashaying themselves into government anymore.

If Singaporeans were to take up the mantle and brave the courage to fight as the people of Hong Kong is doing now, change will not only be a determined outcome, it is only a question of a matter of time, and sooner than later.

The PAP government wants to play itself to look like a democracy, then perhaps it is time Singaporeans learn to act as citizens living in a democracy. If the people of a country recognise their power, they do not know how much this will cause their government to tremble in their knees.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself – what do you really want? Do you want your lives to really get better? Do you want a government that will no longer just sit on the problems that this country is facing, but would take decisive action to solve these problems and to improve the lives of not just a few Singaporeans at the top, but for all Singaporeans, so that we will truly achieve equality as our pledge says and so that our country and our people will grow and advance as a nation, and Singapore can have a new beginning, as we search for the pride that we once had but have lost, and to rebuild our country together once again.

This is something you have to think about.

If you would like to find out how I am doing recently, you can read my update on Facebook here.

image