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.”

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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.

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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.

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Lee Hsien Loong’s Swearing in Speech in 2004: We Should Feel Free to Express Diverse Views

10 years ago, when Lee Hsien Loong was sworn in as prime minister of Singapore in 2004, he gave a speech, ‘Let’s Shape Our Future Together’.

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A key message he said was, “We will continue to expand the space which Singaporeans have to live, to laugh, to grow and to be ourselves. 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. We should recognise many paths of success, and many ways to be Singaporean. We must give people a second chance, for those who have tasted failure may be the wiser and stronger ones among us. Ours must be an open and inclusive Singapore.”

Last week, the organiser of the #ReturnOurCPF protest, Han Hui Hui, some of the speakers, supporters and volunteers were hauled up by the police to be investigated for illegal assembly at the Hong Lim Park.

This is the state of the “confidence” that the PAP government has, to “engage in robust debate, … (to) understand our problems, conceive fresh solutions, and open up new spaces”.

Perhaps the PAP government needs to take a leaf out of its own book. It is those among us “who have tasted failure (who) may be the wiser and stronger ones among us”.

It is time we help the PAP to become wiser.

You can read his speech full below.

*****

Mr President,

Friends and Colleagues,

and my fellow Singaporeans,

1 I am deeply honoured to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of Singapore. I am grateful for your support, and will do my utmost to serve you and Singapore. Let me begin with a few words in Malay and in Chinese.

(English translation of Malay speech)

2 Tonight’s occasion belongs to all Singaporeans. 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. We worked hard to achieve our shared dream of a better future for all Singaporeans. All our communities have progressed. We have helped those who needed help.

3 The trust that you have placed in Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong who have both discharged their responsibilities admirably, is now given to me. I am humbled by this honour. I will do my best to rise to the challenge. And so I ask you to work with me to build a Singapore that will care for all our citizens, educate all our children well, and give everybody full opportunities to fulfil their aspirations.

4 The future holds many challenges and opportunities. We will take the good and the bad together and we will succeed as a nation. As your Prime Minister I will work hard to achieve what is best for all Singaporeans. Let us shape our future together.

(English translation of Mandarin speech)

5 When Mr Goh Chok Tong asked me to stand for elections in 1984, I was reluctant. I was then in the army, serving as a regular. I was a single parent, with two young children. Entering politics was not in my mind. But Mr Goh persuaded me. He has guided me since as a mentor and a friend, for which I am personally grateful.

6 Tonight, I take over as Prime Minister from Mr Goh, I feel deeply honoured to take on this challenging responsibility. Today’s Singapore is different from the one which Mr Goh took over in 1990 when he became Prime Minister. I will strive to fulfil the aspirations of our new generation. At the same time, we will take care of older Singaporeans who helped to build today’s Singapore.

7 Let us continue to build on the foundations laid by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong. Let us grow our economy, and create more good jobs for our people. Let us make Singapore our best home. Let us shape our future together, so that we all feel a sense of belonging, and we can all live fulfilling lives in a good home in Singapore.

(English speech)

Friends and Fellow Singaporeans

Entering Politics

8 When Mr Goh Chok Tong persuaded me to enter politics in 1984, it was a big change from the army. I had gone to university on government scholarships, and benefited from the Singapore system. As a boy, I had watched Singapore become independent. Then, as a young man I saw it grow against tremendous odds, and strengthen year by year. Those were my formative years, and it left a deep impression on me.

9 I wanted to contribute to the Singapore story. Entering politics was a way to do this, and to repay the obligation which I felt. Since then, I have served in the government with Mr Goh for 20 years.

Tribute to Mr Goh Chok Tong

10 I am indebted to Mr Goh for his guidance and support through these years as colleague, friend and mentor. As Prime Minister, Mr Goh has fulfilled his promise to keep Singapore thriving and growing. But he has done much more. He built a strong team, involved Singaporeans in the issues which affected all of us, and brought us all closer together.

11 Today’s Singapore is quite different from the country that Mr Goh took over in 1990. It still bears the imprint of Lee Kuan Yew and the founder generation. Today’s Singapore is more vibrant and open, more resilient and cohesive. It is in sync with the times, and ready for tomorrow’s challenges. In his own quiet way, Mr Goh has transformed Singapore.

12 Tonight, on behalf of all Singaporeans, I thank Mr Goh Chok Tong for his sterling and selfless service to the nation, and for his lasting contributions to Singapore as Prime Minister.

The Fabric of Our Nation

13 I am deeply conscious of my responsibility as Prime Minister. I thank my Cabinet colleagues for choosing me, my fellow Members of Parliament for having confidence in me, and my fellow Singaporeans for supporting me and my team. I will strive to be a Prime Minister for all Singaporeans.

14 I am glad Singaporeans from many backgrounds are here to join me for tonight’s ceremony – community leaders and national servicemen, teachers and nurses, hawkers and taxi-drivers, business leaders and artists, and many others.

15 I would also like to acknowledge the many more Singaporeans who are watching this ceremony over television, and especially the residents of Ang Mo Kio GRC and Teck Ghee, who have supported me loyally for these twenty years. Tonight’s occasion belongs to all Singaporeans.

16 Together, you represent the diversity and richness of our nation. You symbolise our commitment to join our hands together to weave the different multi-coloured threads of our lives into the Singapore tapestry – the fabric of our nation.

17 We are one nation together, building a future for ourselves and our people. As we prosper, all communities will progress and no one will be left behind. We will look after the less educated and the elderly who have helped build Singapore. And we must also have a place in our hearts and our lives for the disabled, who are our brothers and sisters too.

A New Generation

18 This political transition is not just a change of Prime Ministers, or of a Cabinet. It is a generational change for Singapore, a shift to the post-independence generation in a post-Cold War world.

19 The majority of Singaporeans today were born after 1965, after independence. They grew up in a different Singapore compared to their parents. My Government will stay in tune with their needs and aspirations. We must tap the energy and minds of our people, and involve them in the choices which affect their lives. That way, every citizen can have a hand, in big ways and small, in shaping our common future.

20 The next generation of leaders must come from our post-independence generation. Mr Goh Chok Tong was scouting for talent long before he became Prime Minister in 1990. This was how I entered politics in 1984, in my early 30s, together with four ministers now in my Cabinet, plus the Speaker. This process of renewal has continued with each successive general election.

21 Hence, leadership succession will be one of my top priorities. We must continue to search for younger Singaporeans in their early 30s and 40s to rejuvenate the team, to inject new perspectives and to prepare for leadership succession at all levels – ministers, MPs, at the grassroots, in the trade unions.

22 Therefore do not wait to be invited to tea, but step forward to make a difference to yourselves, to your fellow citizens, and to Singapore. Let us shape our future together.

An Open and Inclusive Singapore

23 We may be a small island but we are a global city linked to the whole world, offering exciting opportunities and experiences. We are an open, multiracial and cosmopolitan society. We enjoy a good reputation in the world. Because we have come far, we can now set higher goals for ourselves, and fly higher.

24 We want to build a vibrant and competitive economy. That is the way to create good jobs, and improve the lives of all our citizens. Without the resources that come from growth, we cannot achieve much. But prosperity is not our only goal, nor is economic growth an end in itself.

25 We want to educate our children well. As we prosper, we can afford to invest more in our young, and we will do so. We want our young to think independently, to explore with confidence, and to pursue their passions. We must nurture them into stout-hearted, upright adults. Education is not just about training for jobs. It is about opening doors for our children, and giving them hope and opportunities. It is more than filling a vessel with knowledge – it is to light a fire in our young people. They are our future.

26 We will continue to expand the space which Singaporeans have to live, to laugh, to grow and to be ourselves. 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. We should recognise many paths of success, and many ways to be Singaporean. We must give people a second chance, for those who have tasted failure may be the wiser and stronger ones among us. Ours must be an open and inclusive Singapore.

27 Even as we pursue individual ambitions, we must also deepen our sense of common purpose and identity. We can stand tall only if we stand together. Our years in school and national service, our shared joys and sorrows, our attachment to familiar places, our bonds with family and friends – all these reinforce our sense of being one Singapore family. Already, a Singaporean is readily recognisable anywhere in the world. We must continue to widen our common ground, and care for one another. Our unity gives us the resilience to weather every storm and thrive as an independent nation.

Adapting to a Changing World

28 Our future is full of promise, but we must be prepared for the unexpected. In a globalised world, we must re-think our assumptions, take bold and fresh approaches and adapt nimbly to changing conditions.

29 We depend on a stable and peaceful Asia, and will have to stay alert for signs of danger in the region or the world. A mishap in cross-straits relations can derail growth throughout Asia. The war on terrorism can strain our racial and religious harmony. We must help our less educated, older workers to learn new skills so that they can stay employed and look after their families. And we must deal with complex and sensitive issues such as the ageing population, immigration, and encouraging more Singaporeans to get married and have more babies.

30 We will overcome each new challenge, as we have always done – by recognising it, by putting our minds together to find imaginative solutions, and by tackling the problems resolutely as one people. Only then can we rise above our problems, and bring our people and our country to a higher level.

Writing the Next Chapter

31 Our prospects are brighter than ever before. Our economy is growing strongly again. We are well-positioned at the centre of a continent which is on the move. There are plenty of opportunities for all of us if we make the effort, take calculated risks and stay united. Singaporean companies and businessmen are all over Southeast Asia, China, India, and increasingly in the Middle East and further afield. As a nation, we are stronger, more cohesive, and have more resources than ever before. The future is ours to make.

32 Let us strive to keep Singapore a haven in an uncertain world, open to all for business, safe for citizens and friends, a welcoming home that gladdens our hearts every time we return from our travels.

33 Let us build a nation where every citizen has a place, where all can live in dignity and harmony, and where we all have the opportunity to raise our children and realise our dreams.

34 Let us be a dynamic city that is open and inclusive, a meritocratic society that is compassionate and caring, and a confident people with clear minds and warm hearts.

35 Join me to write this next chapter of the Singapore story. Work with me to make Singapore a home we love, a community we belong to, and a country we are proud to call our own.

Further Thoughts after the #ReturnOurCPF Protest

Hello everyone, I have written to YMCA last night to request for an opportunity to meet with the children with down syndrome and their parents, to meet with them and to find out how they are doing. I hope that we can have a chance to heal the wounds.

I have had a further think through of what has happened over the past few days. It has been hectic, I have learnt much and thought to share my thoughts here.

I started writing on this blog more than 2 years ago, in June 2012. What started me thinking was when Lee Hsien Loong had then compared Singapore with the Nordic countries and claimed that Singapore was doing as well as they did, or better, in terms GDP per capita and economic competitiveness. But I wanted to dig deeper to find out the truth for myself. I was not convinced.

Singapore vs Nordic Countries June 2012

And from what I found, I realised that even though for Singapore, the country as a whole is one of the richest in the world, but the wealth is very unequal. In fact, I realised that the inequality in Singapore is the highest among the developed countries and Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages in the world.

That started me on my journey to wanting to find out what exactly is happening in Singapore – why is it that Singaporeans are so rich but Singaporeans are so poor?

I was shocked by how my first article went viral and how it was later picked up by The Online Citizen. I didn’t know it then, but deep down, among many Singaporeans, they already knew that things were not right. The PAP had then kept telling Singaporeans that Singapore was doing well, but deep down, Singaporeans already had a niggling suspicion that the government was not telling us the whole truth.

And when I dug up the statistics which clearly showed how in spite of the economic wealth that the PAP has garnered for itself, Singaporeans weren’t actually receiving the supposed “trickle-down effects” of the wealth that we should be getting.

The statistics convinced the people’s suspicions that the PAP was keeping the wealth for themselves, and preventing the wealth that Singapore should be earning (from Singaporeans’ labour) from reaching us.

I didn’t know then how PAP had prevented it, nor did I knew the PAP was preventing it from happening. Being the naive me then, I had hoped that if I could advocate to the PAP to return to Singaporeans our wealth, Singapore can become a better place.

And so I set up The Heart Truths. A friend helped me come out with the name, actually. I wanted to speak up about the truth and wanted it to come from the heart. And so, he suggested, why not The Heart Truths? And since then, I have been writing on this blog.

The Heart Truths

In the first few months that I was writing, I continued advocating to the PAP, hoping and believing that they would be reading my blog and would make the relevant changes to improve the lives of Singaporeans. A year after my writing, I was also informed that at least one PAP MP was reading my blog. I felt that perhaps, just perhaps our voices were being heard.

However, the more I read and learnt, I began to slowly realise that the PAP would not change.

As I learnt to analyse the PAP’s policies and to read between the lines, I realise that the PAP has come out with a systematic way of devising policies which would allow them to increase subsidies on one hand, but further increase the revenue they take from Singaporeans, so that whatever subsidies and payouts they give to Singaporeans would not come out from their own coffers but would be extracted from Singaporeans.

And thus they would always be able to gain political mileage and credit by claiming that they are giving back to Singaporeans, while making Singaporeans pay for the increases by ourselves. This shocked me.

But apparently this wasn’t new knowledge. It was new knowledge to me. But many Singaporeans already knew this – many Singaporeans whom have analysed things for themselves and some of them whom have left.

What I knew was already common knowledge to many Singaporeans. I was just one of the few who in my eagerness, wanted to put out what I had found out online.

 Return Our CPF 3 Poster Roy Ngerng text

It was about a year ago that I started speaking at protests. The first protest I spoke at was at the #FreeMyInternet protest to protest against the PAP from introducing regulations to prevent Singaporeans from being able to express our ideas on our blogs. I was concerned. If the PAP could stop me from sharing what I have learnt and found out, how else would I be able to let Singaporeans know what I had discovered? I wouldn’t be able to do so!

PAP would be able to continue to put out their own propaganda to mislead Singaporeans and I could not let that happen! So I spoke up.

And when Gilbert Goh invited me to speak at the third protest for the Singapore Population White Paper, I spoke as well. I decided that every speaking opportunity was an opportunity to allow more people to know.

By the end of last year, Ms Han Hui Hui and I decided that we could organise discussion sessions to create a space for Singaporeans so that we could invite speakers to provide facts and information, which would allow Singaporeans to be able to discuss, analyse and create solutions for ourselves.

So, we organised a workshop on education issues and held a forum on the tax structure in Singapore, which I spoke at as well.

Early this year, I embarked on several major discoveries of the Singapore economic and political system. In a 10-part joint article series that I wrote with Mr Leong Sze Hian, we discovered that Singaporeans are actually paying almost the same as what the Nordic citizens are paying in tax and social security/CPF to the government, but we get back considerably much lesser back from PAP and not only so, we have to fork out cash from our own pockets.

The next major macro-perspective article that I wrote was how the PAP had claimed to create policies to aid the growth of the economy, such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit, the Wage Credit Scheme and Foreign Worker Levies, but when you look at the impact of these, not only do they not have the propounded effects of economic recovery, the PAP was once again able to devise these policies in a way which would allow them to enrich their coffers.

In the third article which I had written with Singapore Singaporeans (whose Facebook account has since been closed down after the Internet Brigade (known to be set up by the PAP) launched an attack to get Facebook to close the account down, and many others as well), we exposed the CPF-HDB contraption where we discovered that when Singaporeans buy the HDB flat or a property with the CPF, we would also have to pay a little-known CPF accrued interest where by the time our flat reaches 30 years old, we would actually not only have to pay for the housing loan, we would have to fork out more than twice the price of the HDB flat. I was flabbergasted. The PAP has created a scheme which would allow them to earn several times over from our CPF. The article has since been viewed more than 450,000 times, according to WordPress.

In a fourth article that I wrote, I discovered to my horror that when you trace the PAP’s policies from 1984, a pattern can be seen where the PAP would systematically make Singaporeans double-pay into essential services such as healthcare, transport and education, which they control as well, such that they are able to earn from the double-paying from Singaporeans and systematically create debt for Singaporeans. It was horrendous.

Slide137

I need to give you this background because I need to let you understand my train of thought.

In the past half a year, I was able to find out the way the PAP was contorting the Singapore economy and how they have been systematically creating policies to earn from Singaporeans and to compromise on our livelihoods!

Last year, my learning convinced me that I had to speak up.

This year, my knowledge aroused my senses. This is not the way a government should treat its people! This is not the way a government should systematically marginalise the lives of the people. It is wrong.

After I wrote these macro-perspective articles, the law suit came.

Later on this year, I also wrote two more revealing and damning articles.

In the first article, I traced how the PAP had started using the CPF of Singaporeans to build the infrastructure of Singapore, but not only that, they continued to siphon off more and more of Singaporeans’ CPF to earn money via housing, healthcare and education, and which allowed them to earn via GIC and Temasek Holdings.

In the second article which I published last week, I summarised how the PAP has taken our money to use, to earn for themselves, and to enrich and benefit themselves.

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This year, I finally awoke to the idea that for your own freedoms, you have to fight for it. And thus I embarked on this fight to protest at the Hong Lim Park to #ReturnOurCPF to not only raise further awareness among Singaporeans about what I have discovered but to also demand for a change of government.

I was very worried. If Singapore continues under the PAP, not only will the lives of Singaporeans be at risk, Singapore as a whole will see our country’s future at stake. I couldn’t just sit down and wait. I had to speak up!

Some Singaporeans ask me – why do you stand up and speak when things won’t change? But if that is what we believe, then things will never change. The PAP is relying on Singaporeans feeling disempowered to keep themselves in power. By ensuring that Singaporeans work the longest hours in the world, earn the lowest wages among the highest-income countries and where 30% of Singaporeans have to spend more than what they earn and have to live in poverty, the PAP has been able to create a system that is able to keep Singaporeans feeling so squeezed that Singaporeans would be too fearful of our own lives to fight against the atrocities of the PAP.

But I believe. I believe that if you speak up, if you fight, at least we have a fighting chance and at least we will be able to take our country back from the PAP and start rebuilding our lives and to give our people, our children and our families a chance. At least then, we can start to put Singapore back on the right track so that we can have a chance to create the lives we want.

But do I have to do this? I don’t. When the lawsuit first came, some people told me to close down my blog and to run out of the country.

But I believe in staying true to myself and living to my conscience. I had to do what my heart tells me and I have to do what is right.

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Over these past few days, much has happened. It was emotionally surreal. I paused and questioned – what am I doing all these for?

I know what I could see. I know what I have learnt, discovered and confirmed from other people who have studied the system or have the inside knowledge, that Singapore was heading towards a collapse under the PAP’s control. However, some friends were still resistant to what I shared with them – I am too busy with my life, I have a property to upkeep, what about my $10,000 salary, they ask?

It is perhaps sad that the PAP has managed to create a system whereby many of us believe that we have too much to lose – our HDB, our CPF etc, so much so that we are not ready to speak up, not knowing that the very things that we are scared to lose – CPF, HDB etc – is also what they have created to earn from us. We are slaves without knowing it, or without admitting to it.

Thus when the PAP was once again able to use the media to deride my character, I was disappointed. I was disappointed not so much because of what has been done to my character – that doesn’t matter. Our lives and reputation matter only as much as to the ego we attach to them. At the end of the day, it is what we do and our (real) honesty that truly matters.

But I was disappointed – I was disappointed that in spite of our knowing that the PAP would use the mainstream media to so easily discredit and malign those whom they deem as their opponent and political threat that Singaporeans would still so easily lap it up. I was disappointed because for the past 50 years, they have been able to use their propaganda to work the system for their own benefit and social engineer a Singaporean mindset in their favour, and it looks like things have still not changed.

So, I asked myself – what am I doing all these for?

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I still don’t have an answer.

At the end of the day, my life, my character and my reputation does not matter. I have long stopped to worry about what people think of me for I know who I am deep within and I hold on to my values and ethics through and through. The PAP can disfigure my personality but they cannot hurt my soul.

It doesn’t matter what people think about me. At the end of the day, my goal has always been clear – one day, we have to stand up and fight for ourselves so that we can fight for our own lives and create the live we want for ourselves.

If I fall, I am only one person, but the rest of Singapore and Singaporeans have to fight. It doesn’t matter if I lose, but it matters that Singaporeans would take up the mantle and stand up for ourselves. Will you?

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I just cannot sit back and let things go, without trying. I cannot allow such treachery to our people when the PAP is able to make Singaporeans pay $66 billion into Medisave but only give us back 1.3%. I cannot do it when the PAP makes Singaporeans pay enough in fares to cover the operating expenses for the transport operators while make us pay tax as well – where did the tax go? I just cannot sit back when the PAP would take $400 million of our taxpayers’ money to give to international students to come to Singapore to study, accumulate more than $400 million in surpluses in the public universities, yet make Singaporeans pay $400 million by ourselves to study in the public universities. I simply cannot sit back when the PAP buys our land cheaply but would now make us pay for land for 60% of the flat price, so much so that we have to max out our CPF, and yet while the PAP claim that the HDB is losing $1 billion every year, they have actually earned $74 billion over the past 6 years from land sales.

It doesn’t feel right to not speak up when the PAP takes our CPF to give to GIC to earn 6% but only give us back 3% and it feels even more wrong when whatever the GIC manages could actually all be our CPF and the interest that is not returned. And if so, there is no ethical or moral right for the PAP to keep the interest and our money without returning it!

You see, after all these, I could not sit and not fight. We could not allow the PAP to tell Singaporeans that we cannot protest or we will arrest you or we will sue you. They do so because they knew that if you did protest, if you did fight, their whole structure would unravel. What they have built for themselves, to earn from it, will unravel. And they cannot afford to let you do that.

It is your lives or theirs. And they have chosen. And it is not yours.

My question to Singaporeans now is this – what will you do? I am ready to take a backseat when I am not needed. Who am I anyway? I am nobody. But the lives of everyone in Singapore matters. Every person who would stand up for our own rights mean winning for every person. Every person who stands up would add up to many who will be able to fight for our own lives.

When will Singaporeans decide to stand up and fight for ourselves? At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide, whether there is too much at stake now or if there will be too much at stake if we don’t fight now.

Return Our CPF Protest March The Straits Times

Photo credit: The Straits Times

Two years ago, I set out wanting to write and to let more Singaporeans know what was going on. I hope that I have been able to achieve what I had set out to do. Today, there are nearly 4 million views on my blog. I hope that I have done my part for as well and as far as I can. I have made some mistakes, and there is much I need to learn. I thank everyone for being with me every step of the way and in supporting me on this journey.

I will continue to fight in whatever I can or whatever way matters to the people. Perhaps we might one day understand that change will come not when one or two fight but when all of decide to stand and to what is right for ourselves and for our lives. Change comes not by waiting for the fight of one man to succeed but for the fight of all to make that one success.

I do not care about my reputation or character. That does not matter. But what I care about is that the lives of others are treated right and we get a fair chance at living the lives we want. It’s up to you as well, my friends.

Photos credit: Tan Yunyou

[Statement] My Thoughts on How the #ReturnOurCPF Protest Turned Out

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Hello everyone, it has been barely 24 hours after the #ReturnOurCPF ended yesterday and there has been an avalanche of news coverage on the protest in the mainstream media, not so much on the protest itself, but on the “heckling” incident. I will be as frank and honest as I can be in this statement.

It is unfortunate that the discourse was so fervently shaped by the PAP. For critical thinkers, it was obvious that PAP and the mainstream media took the opportunity to launch a massive attack and campaigned against Hui Hui and I – why they would think that the state machinery is necessary to outbid two ordinary Singaporeans who want to fight for the rights of Singaporeans is obvious.

Perhaps one would need to question – why was it so well-timed that PAP managed to get someone to film the video, and very quickly within a few hours, trampled over all of mainstream media with the news of the “heckling”.

If I may, may I remind everyone of what happened when I was fired. When I was told that I was sacked, I had to pack my things in an hour and was forced out of office. During that time, I could not bid my farewell to my colleagues. They were kept within the confines of their offices and they were not allowed near me. Some of my colleagues teared and were sad to see me leave. But they were not allowed to come near me.

Within an hour of my sacking, the first media to report on my sacking was not the state media but a blog controlled by the PAP, Five Stars and a Moon. Then, the hospital sent out a media release and the PAP, via the Ministry of Health, also sent out a media release to denounce my conduct. After I left, my computer was taken away – I am not sure by who and what they did with it.

When I was sacked, the only thing that was on my mind was – I felt really bad that this was happening to my employers. I knew that it was coming. I had spoken up at the first #ReturnOurCPF protest days earlier and I knew that the sacking was imminent. PAP needed to weed me out. When I was sacked, the first thought that came to my mind was – I needed to put up a status update to protect the hospital. I knew from external sources that the hospital did not want to fire me. They had actually wanted to protect my job, but PAP forced them to.

When PAP sent out the media release via the Ministry of Health to condone the sacking, which they have a direct hand in, that was when I realised that it was a political move by the PAP to weed me out, and that was when I realised I have apologised but this instead allowed myself to be put at the firing line for the PAP’s machinery.

Yesterday, it felt like that all over again. You would think that after months of “practice”, that I would have the smarts to “play” the politics. Sorry, but I am never a player. Even when it comes to dating, I cannot read signs. How to you expect me to read the minefields that they have planted. Silly, perhaps. But my goal has never been to play the game. My goal has always been to find out what is not right in Singapore, to fight for truth, honesty and justice and hope that things will change. It is as simple as that. I am not a seasoned politician and neither do I aspire to play the game. If I do that and lose who I am and what I stand for – to be true, how am I different from those in the PAP who take every opportunity to play politics.

As they had yesterday.

The same tactics used when the PAP fired me from my job all over again

Yesterday was a repeat of what happened all over again when I was sacked. Once again, somehow it was Five Stars and a Moon which was one of the first to report on the “heckling” – it is clear now that this website was set up as a target against me. Then the mainstream media lapped up on it. And soon, several ministers and MPs jumped on the bandwagon like lustful dogs in a dog pound, without collar restrain. But then again, in a country controlled by the PAP, the dogs have cleverly learnt to put collars on Singaporeans while the PAP run like amok in their madhouse.

If you had noticed, a clever reader would have picked up the signs – why were they all, the mainstream media and the PAP ministers and MPs, using the word, “heckled” altogether? Was the PAP’s vocabulary so limited? Similarly, why did the media keep using the word, “derisory” then?

Marketing 101 – use the same word and repeat it over and over again and people will get it.

Marketing 102 – report on nothing else about the protest but the “heckling” and the whole world will only know the “heckling” and nothing else, and it was as if time stopped and we spent 3 hours at Hong Lim Park “heckling”. Yes, #ReturnOurCPF became a “heckling” event.

Now, Singaporeans, please allow me to be a bit harsh here. We know the drill. We know the game the PAP plays. We know how they control the media. And we fell for it. And you know what, I fell for it too.

When I read news of the “heckling”, I thought to myself – that is horrible! I deserve it. It was wrong. Truth was, at the protest, when I saw the children came out onto the stage, I remembered how I felt – I felt so bad, I felt so bad that we had to protest even as they had to perform. As someone who had performed in the past, I understood the amount of effort it takes into practicing and rehearsing for an event. I understood the immense pressure and stress it takes to go up onto the stage, to let yourself shine, while trying to remember your lines, your steps etc. It was not easy.

And they were children. When I watched the playback videos, and saw how the children were asked to go onto the stage just as we got to the area where the audience was, another emotion tore through me. Wait – what, did they just push the children out onto the stage, so that they could create news for themselves? Would the PAP stoop so low as to do something like that? Of course, this is a rhetoric question.

As I watched the video, I was very saddened, very disappointed. These were children who had trained hard for this. If I was YMCA and I was truly concerned about the children being “heckled”, I might have changed the plans. I might have waited. But they got the children out.

At that point, I felt very sad. You can hurt me. I can withstand it, for hasn’t the PAP done their utmost to hurt us bad enough? It doesn’t matter. But as some online commenters have pointed out, why use the children as “shields”?

You wanted ammunition, and you go it. PAP, bravo, job well done. You wanted to use innocent Singaporeans for your cause, you got it. When it was to your advantage to arrest hundreds and thousands of Singaporeans and accuse them of something they never did, and detain them without trial, you did it as well.

Shame on you, PAP. You are a hypocritical a**hole and I am not going to mince my words here.

Video credit: Terry Xu from The Online Citizen

But is that to say that all was well and sundry on our side? It wasn’t. I am thankful for the many Singaporeans who have defended me. I know that you can see through the hypocrisy and the coordinated attack on us, and that’s why you have decided to stand up and speak up for us.

To be frank, it wasn’t easy. This morning, I read the news and comments and I asked myself – remind me again, what am I fighting for? I am not aspiring for fame or glory, to save the world and have my name etched onto some plague or bridge to be remembered for all eternity. No, I do not need a school of public policy named after me or a scholarship named after me, all the while claiming that I do not care to be remembered.

Honestly, whenever it is time for me to stop what I have to because my cause has ended, I will exit. To tell you the truth, my dream life is to live by a lakehouse reading a book by the lake, with the mountains at the back, as the cool wind blows on my face. This is my dream.

But why do I fight? The reason I do is because – it is only right to do so. You give up some of your dreams, your life, as you fight for your rights and your freedoms. Some people give up their life to fight for money, some for love, as I used to. But today, some of us fight for our rights and our freedoms. But it is nothing compared to some of the other Singaporeans who spend 10, 20 or 30 years sticking their neck out for their beliefs in prison, imprisoned for no valid reason, as the PAP continued to terrorise them.

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The PAP committed grave crimes and atrocities against innocent Singaporeans, but who will prosecute them? Can we ask Lee Kuan Yew to stand trial for the past misdeeds that he has done? Will the police arrest Lee Kuan Yew? Will the courts trial him?

Yet, when Hui Hui and I fought for our legal right to speak up, the police threatened us. Fine, let them come. You would use the law against innocent Singaporeans while let those who have committed larger and graver atrocities against Singaporeans go.

I hope that it is ample clear to Singaporeans by now that our country is hitting rock bottom, when our civil service and our police can be used by simple tools by the PAP, to be made use of at their whims and fancies, to come down on innocent Singaporeans who are fighting for our rights and freedoms.

What am I to do, in the face of such treachery? Smile and move along, that is what I will do. For at the end of the day, if they want to hurt us, no matter how much we play nice, they will come down on us. You simply do not speak up against your government, if their main aim is to keep themselves in power. And once you do, you are a thorn in their flesh which they will use every means to get rid of, as they have.

There were some things we should have done better, for that I am sorry.

But back to the protest – we made some mistakes. We did. There were some things we could have done better. If we saw the children coming out, we could have moved away faster. To the credit of the other protestors, I understand that some of them had toned down and had applauded for the children when they came out. There was a show of solidarity, we are moreover all Singaporean.

Beforehand, I had thought to myself that there would be older Singaporeans and the disabled who would be attending, and so we have to also be watchful and be careful with what we did. But to be honest, I did not expect them to bring out the children just as soon as they saw us near the stage. But I do apologise for the stress that was caused to the children.

However, apologies are also in order for Hui Hui and I, and for Singaporeans. When Hui Hui, the organiser of the #ReturnOurCPF protest, had wanted to set up the tentage on Thursday, she found that YMCA had set up their tentages all over the main field at Hong Lim Park. Where we would usually set up a tentage, we could not. And so, we had to forgo the tentage.

It was only when we got to the park on the day of the protest itself that someone who identified himself as a director of NParks came to speak to us, and brought along an entourage of self-identified policemen with him (and possibly from the Internal Security Department among them). The NParks director then insisted that we use only a portion of the park in a more secluded area. It was not a choice given to us, there was no discussion or compromise. It was dictated to us like we were toothless children who couldn’t bark.

Facebook video: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152445632614141

I asked the director – but isn’t this double standards? If NParks had truly wanted to resolve the issue, would it not make sense that when they realised that there were going to be two potentially big events that were going to be held, that they had arranged with the two organisers to negotiate on the use of the space? Why did NParks not stop YMCA from constructing their tentages all over the main areas of the park, so that we could discuss first?

Also, why did YMCA not come and negotiate the use of the space? Why was it NParks which had to dictate to us to move, and had to use the police to intimidate us into doing so? Were we less Singaporean and did we have lesser rights, simply because we were protesting on the CPF issue? Was it less of a concern? Should YMCA have more right to the space because they had a PAP minister as a guest-of-honour? Are PAP ministers and MPs always higher up the ivory tower than Singaporeans?

The issue could have been managed amicable right from the start, but did NParks attempted to? Just as PAP used NEA to drag the Worker’s Party into the fray, so did they use another statutory board to create another fracas yet once again. But why should our civil service be used by the PAP for their own political gains, against our very own Singaporeans and the opposition parties?

No matter how you look at it, had we been treated fairly right from the start?

But this is not even the question. Lee Kuan Yew started out his political career protesting and leading protests. But when he took control of government and Singapore, he made it illegal to protests. And then, the PAP gave us a small Hong Lim Park which if not already secluded, would allow them to effectively blindside themselves to whatever would go on there, until yesterday.

If Singaporeans are only allowed to protest at Hong Lim Park and the space is taken, where else can Singaporeans go? Is this another way of the government trying to curb our rights and to take back our space? We knew that we had to stand our ground. If we had backed off, our right to the only space we have to protest will be compromised in future. And we had to take a firm stand.

Did we ever have a chance? Did Hui Hui and I ever have a chance? We are not politicians. We are simpletons out to fight for the rights and freedoms of Singapore and Singaporeans. But the PAP knew what they were plotting at the back of their minds and they knew how they were going to get back at us. They have shown how good they are at plotting and distorting the story with the arrests of innocent Singaporeans in 1963 with Operation Coldstore, with the many arrests in the 1960s and 1970s and in 1987 with Operation Spectrum. The PAP knew their game and they were already plotting.

When they managed to use the media to swing the tide by claiming we have “heckled”, they won. Singaporeans bought it and we were defeated. When our critical thinking is marred and where we be so easily swayed (as even I was) by the PAP and their pervasive use of the media, what hope was there for Hui Hui and I?

There were so many good things that had happened at Hong Lim Park yesterday and they all went unreported. How about the hardworking volunteers from the YMCA (a friend was there) who were there early to help set up? How about the elderly and disabled who were there to enjoy the performances by the YMCA?

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How about when some of the volunteers and I had helped those on wheelchair who had come to attend the YMCA event, by helping them across some obstacles, so that they could move to the stage area? Or how at the stage, there was a man on a wheelchair who waved his clappers at us and another couple who stood under YMCA’s tent who smiled and waved at us as we marched across?

There were so many human stories of help, of working together and of support. All of these went unreported, all of these the mainstream media could not report. PAP controlled the media. PAP decided how they want to make some Singaporeans look bad and went ahead with it. Whatever happened to the hard work that the YMCA volunteers put up, and whatever happened to how the volunteers and attendees at the protests had supported one another? Were these not human stories of kindness and unity that we want to see in Singapore?

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For a PAP that claims that Singaporeans need to unite and yet drive a wedge among Singaporeans, is this that of moral integrity by the PAP?

Perhaps the PAP also conveniently ignored many of the salient points that were also brought out at the #ReturnOurCPF protest. At the protest, we had pointed out that not only has the PAP made money off Singaporeans from our CPF, the PAP has also made money from our housing, healthcare, education and transport. I have detailed them in short excerpts here.

Pretty much the PAP has created a system from at least 1984 to systematically cut down on Singaporeans and to earn from us, while our livelihoods have continued to be marginalised and our lives are being compromised.

Perhaps it is too convenient for the PAP to ignore these because the PAP knew that they are indeed making money off Singaporeans and they had no answers for it. They had no answers to the demands of the protestors. They could not answer Singaporeans. What were they to say to Singaporeans? – Yes, I took your money but I still want to be your government. Is that OK? (Read more here.)

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To his credit, Teo Ser Luck (who has guest-of-honour of YMCA’s event) could have confronted us but as I observed Teo Ser Luck, he continued smiling and mingling with the attendees at YMCA’s event, in spite of the immense pressure. From the back, while waving the Singapore flag, I thought to myself how uncomfortable that it might be for him but this is the nature of democracy and of protests – citizens have their right to speak up and politicians should be able to withstand the questioning. And in truth, if the government does its job, would citizens fervently demand for such change? If we have to, then something is quite amiss, isn’t it?

On the overall, the protests garnered a skewed publicity because of how PAP could skew it around by their control of the mainstream media and the online platforms set up by them. There were also many spies who sent to pretend to be supporters and volunteers. Yes, we know who you are. They cut the wires of our sound system and tried to disturb the event.

The Most Groundbreaking Protest in Singapore since 1965

But in the end, what we were able to achieve was immense which the mainstream media did not report at all. For the first time since Singapore’s independence, this was the first time that we were able to march and not only march, but in front of a minister as well. The minister did not respond but being able to march in front of a minister is in itself a feat. Listen to us and we are going to make our demands!

The mood among the crowd was ecstatic. We had our right. It was a packed protest where we were able to outline clearly how the PAP has been making money off Singaporeans, and to do some of the many firsts – a first march since Singapore’s independence, the first march in front of a minister and the first time to have an audience – all of which the PAP had wanted to deny by confining the protest to a small space at Hong Lim Park.

And not only that, the volunteers and attendees to the YMCA’s event were also listening intently to our speeches.

We would most probably never have this opportunity again. PAP had a one-time opportunity to hijack both the YMCA and the #ReturnOurCPF protest for their own political agenda. And they would not let themselves have an opportunity to face the wrath of Singaporeans again, not unless we vote them out and have a new government.

For me, the protest was groundbreaking. There were some things we could have done better and planned better, so that we could take into account the other parties involved, and planned for events that could run successfully on both sides. If we had known the programme of the other party, as they could have known ours, then we could at least plan to match each other’s events better and prevent a play of what has transpired in the media.

I will be writing to YMCA to meet the children

I will be writing to YMCA to see if I could have an opportunity to meet with the children with down syndrome to volunteer with them, and to also meet with their parents. What we did could have caused the children stress. If YMCA allows, I would be able to take some time to interact with them and to give my sincere apologies. I had used to volunteer and also worked as a therapist with autistic children and would appreciate the opportunity to do so. This would also allow us to mend the bridges with YMCA. On my side, there are no hard feelings.

YMCA might have been retooled for a political purpose at the protest, but there are good people at the YMCA, as we have seen among the volunteers and attendees at the event yesterday.

This was a dear learning opportunity for me and gave me another deeper insight into the politics at play. I might have to learn from this episode more keenly but at the end of the day, my aim is to raise awareness, be able to write more and let people know more. Whatever happens is inconsequential, be it to my character or personality. At the end of the day, if things change in Singapore and Singaporeans are able to regain our rights and freedoms and to be protected, when a new government is in place, then that’s all that matters.

Other Singaporeans will need to be prepared to take a stand

But I think this episode also taught me one thing. I hope that Singaporeans understand that we cannot just rely on a few of us – Hui Hui and I, for example, to lead the change and wait for the change to happen. PAP is waiting for every opportunity to gun down on the key activists so that they are able to maintain their control and power. If they succeed this time, we will be relegated to the side.

When that happens, what will Singaporeans do? That is the crucial question. At this current time, we might be judged but that is OK – that is the natural progression of human psychology. But moving forward, who else will stand up, or will anyone stand up? Who else will lead the change, or how many more people will do so? Change does not happen with one or two but when many are ready to take on the change.

We had a groundbreaking protest and march yesterday but a few thousands Singaporeans turned up – do we have enough people? I do not mind what is done on me, for as I have maintained before, my conscience is clear. Also, this time, I do think I have things to learn and improve on and I will do that.

But Singaporeans need to think about this – the PAP wants to play a political game, we either let them succeed or we don’t. Also, when they use the mainstream media to swing the tide, it is also up to us to be able to critically appraise what happened, so that we do not fall into their trap. I say this of myself as well.

This is what I have to say for now. Meanwhile, I will take a rest for a while. This has been overwhelming and has been exhausting.

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Photos credit: Tan Yunyou

[Video] My Thoughts #ReturnOurCPF 4 Protest

To read more about what was said at the protest, you can read the short 13-chart article here. This will give you some perspective as to why the PAP wants (and needs to) to ignore what was highlighted at the protest and needed to deride the protest.

Below is a video taken by Terry Xu from The Online Citizen. It will give you perhaps a more objective and transparent picture of what actually transpired at the protest.

It is unfortunate that the mainstream media is controlled by the PAP and would only report what the PAP wants to put out. Perhaps if we could take a step back and think for ourselves, when faced with such pervasive state-controlled news which put out a version of a story and which wants to shape the news, how would we seek to find out more information to discern for ourselves what really transpired and make an independent assessment by ourselves of what happened. This is the mark of a mature and critically-thinking electorate.

When Lee Hsien Loong and I sent out our affidavits and then he responded to mine, the mainstream media only chose to report on his affidavit and response. They did not respond on mine. I emailed them to ask why they did not, but none of them replied.

I will leave readers and Singaporeans to decide for ourselves what and how best we can consider and reflect on the issue, me included. If my role here is done, I will exit. And I will let the PAP take it from here.

I issue a challenge to the PAP ministers. Let’s have a one-on-one debate about the CPF. Time to stop playing games and using distractions. How did you take Singaporeans’ CPF to use, to earn money for yourselves? Let’s talk openly and honestly, live, in front of Singaporeans. If you dare. It is hypocritical to use others as shields for you, and pretend to care for them. If you truly care for Singaporeans, then actually help Singaporeans.

[Comic in PDF] How Singapooreans are Tricked and Trapped [PDF格式漫画]新加坡人是如何被哄和被套牢的

I had published a comic last week on how Singapooreans are tricked and trapped of our money. Some readers have requested for a PDF version. So, here you go! :)

我出版了一个漫画-新加坡人是如何被哄和被套牢的。有些读者要求PDF格式版。我在以下发布它。

English Version

English PDF Link: HOW SINGAPOOREANS ARE TRICKED AND TRAPPED

You can also read the comic on the blog here.

华语版

华语PDF格式链接: 新加坡人是如何被哄和被套牢的动漫画

您也可以在这里阅读博客上的漫画

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Come down to the #ReturnOurCPF 4 protest on 27 September 2014 at 4pm at Hong Lim Park. You can join the Facebook event page here.

请在9月27日下午4时到芳林公园出席《归还我们的公积金》第四场集会。您可以到以下网站浏览有关这次集会的详情

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 2

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Minimum Wage

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Independent Labour Unions

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Labour Protection Laws

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Equal Job Opportunities

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 3 text

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster Only You Can Stand Up for Your Rights

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster Only You Can Fight for Your Dignity

Population growth: 1 S’porean = 2 new citizens + 5 foreigners?

We refer to the article “Singapore population now at 5.47 million, slowest growth in 10 years” (Straits Times, Sep 25).

Slowest growth in a decade?

It states that “Singapore’s population grew at its slowest pace in a decade in the one year to June 2014, due to a slow down in the inflow of foreign workers.”

How many S’poreans to new citizens & foreigners?

Since it is the slowest growth in 10 years “due to a slow down in the inflow of foreign workers” – we were curious as to the relative growth of foreigners and new citizens to Singaporeans, i.e. for every 1 Singaporean increased – how many foreigners and new citizens  increased?

29,500 citizens, but 20,572 new citizens?

As the growth in citizens was 29,500 – if we less off the 20,572 new citizens – we get only 8,928 “true blue” Singaporeans.

With 31,017 citizen births less 18,938 deaths – we get 12,079. Does this mean that Singaporeans who may have left Singapore accounted mainly for the difference of 3,151 citizens (12,079 minus 8,928)?

1 Singapore = 2 new citizens?

In other words, for every 1 “true blue” Singaporean increased – there were about 2 new citizens (20,572 divided by 8,928).

Foreigners increased by 44,600?

The increase in foreigners was 44,600.
1 Singaporean = 5 foreigners?

So, does it mean that for every “true blue” Singaporean increased – there was an increase of about 5 foreigners (44,600 divided by 8.928)?

1 Singaporean = 2 new citizens + 5 foreigners?

Hence, for every 1 “true blue” Singaporean – we had about 2 new citizens and 5 foreigners?

At this rate, even if it is the slowest overall population growth rate in a decade – “true blue” Singaporeans may increasingly become a minority in their homeland in time to come.

Roy Ngerng and Leong Sze Hian

Come down to the #ReturnOurCPF 4 protest on 27 September 2014 at 4pm at Hong Lim Park. You can join the Facebook event page here.

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 2

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Minimum Wage

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Independent Labour Unions

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Labour Protection Laws

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Equal Job Opportunities

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 3 text

Most Singaporeans Get Only Less Than $100 Every Month from CPF Life?

I was looking through the Household Expenditure Survey 2012/13 and got a shock.

Do you know that for retiree households living in 1- & 2-room flats, their average monthly household income is only $647?

Average Monthly Household Income From Each Source by Type of Dwelling Among Retiree Households edited

Now, this is not even the worst part.

Do you know that CPF Life payouts only make up 14% of their income – CPF Life payouts only make up $93!

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So, if the household has 2 retirees, does this mean that each person would have a CPF Life payout of only $46.50!

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Now, do you remember how the PAP keeps saying how the CPF Minimum Sum of $155,000 would allow Singaporeans to get a payout of $1,200 every month?

But when a retiree might only get as low as $46.50 every month from CPF Life, how is this even anywhere near $1,200? $46.50 is only 4% of $1,200!

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This raises many questions:

  • If a Singaporean is only able to withdraw $46.50 every month from his/her CPF, does this mean that he/she only has $6,000 inside his/her CPF? (derived from how $155,000 gives a theoretical $1,200)
  • If a Singaporean is not able to withdraw $1,200 but is only able to withdraw $46.50, then what plans does the government has to let a Singaporean be able to have the other $1,153.50 every month? And note, many elderly do not want to sell their flats or their leases back, so how can the government increase our CPF, by increasing our wages or CPF interest rates?
  • Actually, in the most basic, why are Singaporeans made to pay the highest CPF contribution rate in the world of 37% but getting back only $46.50 every month from our CPF?

Can you see how, on many levels, something is not quite right?

Some might think – maybe poorer Singaporeans would get back much lesser from their CPF, but the more well-to-do Singaporeans should be fine.

But when you look at Singaporeans who live in condominiums & other apartments, a household would only receive $513 every month. And if the households has two retirees, each person would only get $256.50 every month from CPF Life!

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Wait a minute! Are you saying that even for the more well-to-do Singaporeans, CPF Life only pays out $260 every month?

If so, it is clear, isn’t it? The large majority of Singaporeans simply does not have enough inside the CPF to be able to receive even $1,200 from our CPF?

I have previously written that 90% of Singaporeans are not able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum. Looks like this is just about right.

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Now, PAP claims that the $1,200 is calculated to be enough for the needs of a lower-middle income household. This should mean a household living in a 3-room flat.

And if we look at a retiree household living in a 3-room flat, they would only get a CPF Life payout of only $145 or only $72.50 for a two-person household.

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If so, wouldn’t this mean that the majority of Singaporeans would only get less than $100 from CPF Life every month (if each household has 2 retirees)? Where is the promised $1,200???

Quite clearly, the PAP keeps throwing out this $1,200 figure, knowing very well that the large majority of Singaporeans simply do not have enough to retire on.

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And yet, when you look at the single source of income that retirees will have to depend on, it would come from “contributions from relatives and friends not staying in the same household”. This is nearly 3 times more than what CPF Life can give.

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For higher-income households, this would come from rental income or investment income. For them, they would be able to do so, with more cash in hand to invest, and larger or more living premises, which would allow them to rent out either their rooms or whole apartments. This is 4 times more than what CPF Life can give.

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But for lower-income Singaporeans, where the poorest 30% households have to spend 105% to 151% of their incomes, they wouldn’t be able to do so – they simply do not have spare cash to invest or their living premises might be too small to let out, and that is if they own their living premises.

Yet, the question remains – why are Singaporeans forced to pay 37% of our wages into CPF – or the highest contribution rates in the world – yet our CPF is still one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world?

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Why is the CPF not able to provide for Singaporeans’ retirement, when we pay so much of our wages into CPF?? It doesn’t quite make sense when the CPF Life payouts are only in the tens of dollars, and make up such a small proportion of a retirees’ income.

If we are paying so much into CPF and the highest contribution rate in the world, then logically, shouldn’t our CPF retirement funds be one of the most adequate retirement funds in the world? Why is it the other way round? Does this make logical sense?

And if our CPF is no where near being able to let Singaporeans get $1,200 back monthly, then why does the PAP keep throwing out the $1,200 figure, which for all intents and purposes, becomes quite useless?

But more importantly, it is clear that Singaporeans simply are not able to save enough inside our CPF. And the more fundamental reason is because our wages and the CPF interest rates are too low, and thus we cannot save enough and our CPF cannot grow!

Singaporeans Have to Spend More Than What They Have

But things get even worse when you compare the household incomes with their expenditures.

Average Monthly Household Expenditure by Type of Goods and Services (Broad) and Type of Dwelling Among Retiree Households edited

According to the survey, retiree households living in 1- & 2-room flats have an income of $647 but they would actually have to spend $855.40. They have to spend an additional $208.40 more than their income, or 32% more.

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This is also the case for retiree households living in 4-room flats who have an income of $1,233 but have to spend $1,495 (21% more) and for 5-room & executive flats with an income of $1,806 but have to spend $1,990.90 (10% more). The only anomaly is for retiree households living in 3-room flats who have an income of $1,069 and spend $1,002.90.

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So, the question here is – for the poorest households, they have to spend 32% than their incomes. Where are they going to get this 32% from? For retiree households living in 4-room flats, they have to spend 21% more than their incomes. And for retiree households living in 5-room flats, they have to spend 10% more than their incomes. Where are they going to get the additional money from?

Quite clearly, this means that the large majority of Singaporeans have to spend more than what they are able to earn.

If so, this means that they would either have to forgo certain expenditure, say for basic recreation, but even for food, transport and health, or they would have to rely on donations for food, medical care and even cash donations. Otherwise, they might have to revert back to work, or have to forgo seeking medical treatment and choose to die, as many older Singaporeans have.

This is why we keep seeing so many older Singaporeans work as cleaners, odd-job labourers, security guards and cardboard collectors. Meanwhile, the ministers earn millions every month while Singapore’s de facto minimum wage of $1,000 is the lowest among the highest-income countries.

And meanwhile, we keep hearing more and more of how older Singaporeans have chosen to die instead of seek medical treatment or commit suicide because they do not want to become a burden to their families.

Why Does the PAP Make Singapore So Expensive But Would Not Provide for Singaporeans and Would Let Singaporeans Languish While They Themselves Get Ahead?

Is this the way that our elderly should be living in a country which has become the one of the richest in the world, as measured by the GDP per capita. Honestly, what is the use of earning all this money when the PAP keeps collecting so much revenue and profit but does not have the dignity or integrity to take care of Singaporeans and older Singaporeans?

What is the use of making Singapore such an expensive place and earning all the profit when all the PAP is interested to do is to keep the profit for themselves, while letting Singaporeans languish.

Which is no wonder why Singaporeans are now questioning the purpose of the PAP’s growth-at-all-costs strategy, and questioning the wisdom of letting the PAP be in government in the very first place. If their heart is not for Singaporeans, then is the PAP still what Singapore and Singaporeans need?

But the more appropriate question we need to ask is – is PAP still the right government for Singaporeans? If the PAP is only concerned about making use and manipulating Singaporeans’ labour to earn money for themselves, while leaving Singaporeans to die and fend for ourselves after that, then why should we be forced to toil for a PAP which is only interested in extracting our wealth for themselves?

Shouldn’t we vote in a government which will return our wealth back to us, to allow all Singaporeans to share in our country’s growth and to allow all Singaporeans to live in dignity and with respect?

I think the answer is clear – the PAP is no longer what Singapore needs. And Singaporeans would need to do the right thing to vote for a new government, to stand up to be elected and to allow Singapore to move towards an era of new and shared prosperity, for all its citizens and people.

Come down to the #ReturnOurCPF 4 protest on 27 September 2014 at 4pm at Hong Lim Park. You can join the Facebook event page here.

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 2

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Minimum Wage

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Independent Labour Unions

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Labour Protection Laws

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster We Want Equal Job Opportunities

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 3 text