[Video] Roy Ngerng’s Candlelight Vigil: Singaporeans Coming Together and Standing Up for Ourselves

Some Singaporeans held a candlelight vigil for me on Wednesday night. You can watch a short video of the vigil and a short speech I made at the vigil.

Thank you, my friends and Singaporeans for making this vigil happen.

I had posted this thank you message on my Facebook:

Hello everyone, thank you for coming to the Candlelight Vigil tonight.

It was a beautiful event. I was very touched by everyone who came and who added your special touch to the event, by bringing your own homemade candle decorations, and most importantly, just by being there.

What made me most happy was how everyone just came together and decided to do what we felt was right. Some of us sang songs, gave short speeches, said prayers and affirmed one another. It was unplanned but it felt so real.

It felt like we were truly part of a village where we came together, and made the event came to life magically.

Thank you to Patrick Low and Soh Lung Teo for organising the vigil, for letting us have this opportunity to come together, and share in tonight’s simple but meaningful event.

You know, in the eventuality, it’s just being there, taking a stand for ourselves and for one another that made this event so special.

The vigil might be held for me, but it’s more than that. It’s about our coming together, our being there, taking a stand and deciding that for our rights, we will stand up and we will speak up.

And most importantly, it is about us coming out with ideas, feeling a sense of togetherness, feeling that we have a voice and that we can do what we believe in and make things happen.

That to me, is what today was about and most beautiful. Our coming together and bringing our spirit back again.

Thank you, my friends. Thank you, Singaporeans. Onward, Singapore.

Photos taken by Tan Yunyou:

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 1

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 2

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 3

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 4

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 5

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 6

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng Photo 7

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 1b

有关昨天(9月18日)关于新加坡人民的公积金问题诽谤诉讼案件的意见汇报

My Written Submissions for Yesterday’s Hearing on the Defamation Suit Over Singaporeans’ CPF

昨天负责审理我的诽谤起诉案件的主审法官是李兆坚。他保留判决并将在稍后判决。

Yesterday was my hearing for the defamation suit. Justice Lee Seiu Kin heard the case today. He has reserved judgment and will give his judgment in due course.

我在下面撰写的意见是我汇整了有关本案件的一些资料。请您阅读

You can see below my written submissions, which are documents which summarises the relevant facts of the case.

这里一共分成两部分。

There are two parts to the written submissions.

一、第一部分包括了说明我的文章真正意图不是在诽谤任何人。

(1) The first part contains arguments to state the real intent of my article and the statements which are not defamatory.

“这是一起诽谤案件,因此客观阅读全部有关的文章是没有引起辩护的意图。这些文章并没有挑起具有争议的课题。读者在阅读了这些文章后并没有引起指责原告犯上任何的错误罪行。而宁可说这是起源于政府对待新加坡人不公平而表达的意见。这就是;GIC和淡马锡控股使用了公积金的钱进行投资后截留了所取得合法利润。这是完整文章所表达的确实事实和正确意思的意图。读者在阅读了这些文章后不会毫无根据地说原告是偷走这些钱或者在某种意义上是被罚款所禁止的。被告要求法院驳回原告的辩护意图和拒绝原告的申请和行动。”

“It is the Defendant’s case therefore that a fair reading of the Article as a whole does not give rise to the pleaded meaning. While the Article does start off controversially, it becomes clear to the reader having read the whole article that he is not accusing the Plaintiff of any criminal wrongdoing but rather, expressing his opinion that the legal retention of profits from derived from the investing of CPF monies by GIC and Temasek, by the Government is simply not fair to Singaporeans. That is the true natural and ordinary meaning of the Article taken as a whole. No reasonable reader having read the whole article would go away with the impression that the Plaintiff is stealing monies or behaving in a manner prohibited by law! The Defendant therefore humbly urges the Court to rule against the Plaintiff on the pleaded meaning and dismiss the Plaintiff’s application and action.”

请到如下网址阅读:鄞义林于9月4日撰写的意见书

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Written Submissions 4 September 2014

“正如我们在上述所说,被告的案件是完整的文章并没有表达给正常的读者关于原告是犯了侵占的刑事罪行。正如所有文章所要表达的原意是政府把公积金的钱引入到各个不同的实体(淡马锡控股和金融管理局)进行投资,并从这些投资中获得了利润让自己自肥,但是他们并没有把那些通过使用公积金户头进行投资所取得的所有利润归还给公积金会员,反过来是截留了这些利润。”

“As we have stated above, the Defendant’s case is that the Article read as a whole does not convey to the reasonable reader that the Plaintiff is guilty of criminal misappropriation, as the gist of the Article is that the Government channels CPF monies to various entities (Temasek Holdings, GIC and MAS) and invests the CPF monies and make profits from these investments and enriches itself and its reserves by not returning all profits made from the use of CPF monies to CPF account holders, but retaining part of the profits instead.

这样的说法是正确的。它的文章的内容提供解析的描绘了政府与GIC、金融管理局、淡马锡控股和公积金之间的关系的叙述,与描绘城市丰收教会的被告被指控涉嫌非法侵占教会的资金。原告并没有也无法争论有关政府并没有被合法赋予截留这些利润。任何一个正常的读者在阅读这些完整的文章后所得出的结论是政府在执行截留利润的措施在法律上是错误的,本案的原告,身为政府、GIC的首脑和淡马锡控股的伙伴首脑是犯了涉嫌侵占的行为。

This puts in perspective, provides the context and is the antidote to the pictorial comparison between the Plaintiff’s relationship with GIC, MAS, Temasek and the CPF Funds with the pictorial description of the persons alleged to have misappropriated monies from the City Harvest Church. The Plaintiff does not and cannot argue that the Government is not legally allowed to retain these profits. Neither would a reasonable person reading the Article as a whole come to the conclusion that the Government is doing something legally wrong in retaining these profits, and that the Plaintiff, as head of the Government, the GIC and the spouse of the Head of Temasek Holdings is guilty of criminal misappropriation.”

“尊重原告在意见书第85段里提出的这个问题。是一个极其虚伪的观点。只要具有正常知识的读者都会知道,原告就是政府的首脑和GIC的首脑。一般的读者有人会知道,原告的妻子就是淡马锡控股的首脑。这就非常清楚的说明,任何涉及新加坡政府的(事务)都必然会被解读为这是代表政府的说法。这并不是针对原告而言。作为政府的首脑在后来的文章里争论说成是这些文章所叙述的他与整个政府(运作)是没有关系和完全分开的。”

“With respect, the Plaintiff’s submission on this point as set out in paragraph 85 is completely disingenuous. The reasonable reader knows that the Plaintiff is the head of the Singapore Government and the Head of GIC. The ordinary reader also knows that the Plaintiff’s wife heads Temasek Holdings. It is clear therefore that any reference to the Singapore Government would be relevant in interpreting what the pictorial representations mean and it is not open to the Plaintiff, as head of the Government to argue that the later portion of the Article is irrelevant in interpreting the Article as a whole as the Government is a separate entity from him.”

“这是案件是属于辩方的,除非它说政府把公积金的钱引入不同的实体(淡马锡控股、GIC和金融管理局)、使用公积金的钱进行投资并从中获得了利润,以及自肥自己、他们使用公积金进行投资所得没有归还给公积金会员。这些文章非常清楚的让一般读者在阅读后并没有产生一个印象说,原告已经做错了一些事情,更不用说,多少是犯了侵占罪。”

“It is the Defendant’s case therefore that unless it could be said that it is legally wrong for the Government to channel CPF monies to various entities (Temasek Holdings, GIC and MAS), invest the CPF monies and make profits from these investments and enrich itself and its reserves by not returning all profits made from the use of CPF monies to CPF account holders, the Article clearly does not leave the ordinary reader with the impression that the Plaintiff has done something wrong, much less, is guilty of criminal misappropriation.”

请见链接:鄞义林答复李显龙于915日提交的意见书撰写的意见网址。

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Reply Written Submissions to Lee Hsien Loong’s Reply Submissions 15 September 2014

二、第二部分包括了宪法的争论

2) The second part contains the constitutional argument.

“辩方的意见是由于依据宪法第14章(Article 14 of the Constitution (Cap Const, 1999 Rev Ed) (“the Constitution)),在新加坡,关于申请终终止普通发诽谤的申请,除非获得国会、法律有特别约定”

“It is the Defendant’s submission that by virtue of Article 14 of the Constitution (Cap Const, 1999 Rev Ed) (“the Constitution), the common laws of defamation ceased to apply in Singapore unless Parliament, by law, specifically provides for it.”

“这是从一开始就需要对诽谤法令((Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) )做诠释,这并不符合言论自由的要求。诽谤法令并没有限制公民有言论和表达的自由。简单而言,法令并不是作为原告起诉被告的理由诽谤法令仅仅是提供了各种防御的存在,但是不适用于普通法和其他各种程序上的事情。”

“It is necessary at the outset to note that the Defamation Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) does not meet the Freedom of Speech Guarantee’s requirements. The Defamation Act does not restrict the citizen’s freedom of speech and expression, simply because it does not provide that defamation is cause of action. The Defamation Act merely provides for various defences to be available which were not available at common law, and for various procedural matters.”

请见链接:鄞义林诽谤诉讼关于宪法住论要点

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Defamation Suit’s Constitutional Argument Main

“我们强调诽谤法令(Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”))从一开始就没有令人满意有关言论自由的要求,那就是‘国会可能通过法律….强制执行….限制’这是因为诽谤法令并没有任何言论自由的意图,正如原告有力的指出,它是为提供部分的修正和限定性条件作为限制言论——普通法的诽谤——假设性的已经存在。”

“We reiterate at the outset that the Defamation Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) does not satisfy the Freedom of Speech Guarantee’s requirement that “Parliament may, by law, impose… restrictions…” This is because the Defamation Act does not purport to restrict speech at all. All that it does, as the Plaintiff helpfully points out, is to provide for certain modifications and qualifications for a restriction of speech – the common law of defamation – that supposedly already exists.”

“原告是对的,并不是在争论有关造成诽谤的行为是实际上受限制于诽谤法令。它并没有依据事实:国会颁布了修正法令,或者延续现有的法律主体。所以国会颁布的现有法律主体。按照这个定义,假设这个显存的法律主体(因此不可能为它提供),国会不可以同时颁布显存的法律主体。”

“The Plaintiff is right in not arguing that the cause of action of defamation had actually been enacted by the Defamation Act. It does not follow from the fact that Parliament enacts legislation modifying, or with the assumption of an existing body of law, that therefore Parliament enacted that existing body of law. By definition, by assuming an existing body of law (and therefore not positively providing for it), Parliament cannot simultaneously enact that existing body of law.”

请见链接:鄞义林飞诽谤诉讼的宪法辩护回复的网址资料。

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Defamation Suit’s Constitutional Argument Reply

我(在法院)也在我的本子上素描了以下的人物。

I also managed to do some quick drawings on my notebook.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin

Davinder Singh

M Ravi

Court Hearing 18 September 2014

My Written Submissions for Today’s Hearing on the Defamation Suit Over Singaporeans’ CPF

Today was my hearing for the defamation suit. Justice Lee Seiu Kin heard the case today. He has reserved judgment and will give his judgment in due course.

You can see below my written submissions, which are documents which summarises the relevant facts of the case.

There are two parts to the written submissions.

(1) The first part contains arguments to state the real intent of my article and the statements which are not defamatory.

“It is the Defendant’s case therefore that a fair reading of the Article as a whole does not give rise to the pleaded meaning. While the Article does start off controversially, it becomes clear to the reader having read the whole article that he is not accusing the Plaintiff of any criminal wrongdoing but rather, expressing his opinion that the legal retention of profits from derived from the investing of CPF monies by GIC and Temasek, by the Government is simply not fair to Singaporeans. That is the true natural and ordinary meaning of the Article taken as a whole. No reasonable reader having read the whole article would go away with the impression that the Plaintiff is stealing monies or behaving in a manner prohibited by law! The Defendant therefore humbly urges the Court to rule against the Plaintiff on the pleaded meaning and dismiss the Plaintiff’s application and action.”

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Written Submissions 4 September 2014

“As we have stated above, the Defendant’s case is that the Article read as a whole does not convey to the reasonable reader that the Plaintiff is guilty of criminal misappropriation, as the gist of the Article is that the Government channels CPF monies to various entities (Temasek Holdings, GIC and MAS) and invests the CPF monies and make profits from these investments and enriches itself and its reserves by not returning all profits made from the use of CPF monies to CPF account holders, but retaining part of the profits instead. This puts in perspective, provides the context and is the antidote to the pictorial comparison between the Plaintiff’s relationship with GIC, MAS, Temasek and the CPF Funds with the pictorial description of the persons alleged to have misappropriated monies from the City Harvest Church. The Plaintiff does not and cannot argue that the Government is not legally allowed to retain these profits. Neither would a reasonable person reading the Article as a whole come to the conclusion that the Government is doing something legally wrong in retaining these profits, and that the Plaintiff, as head of the Government, the GIC and the spouse of the Head of Temasek Holdings is guilty of criminal misappropriation.”

“With respect, the Plaintiff’s submission on this point as set out in paragraph 85 is completely disingenuous. The reasonable reader knows that the Plaintiff is the head of the Singapore Government and the Head of GIC. The ordinary reader also knows that the Plaintiff’s wife heads Temasek Holdings. It is clear therefore that any reference to the Singapore Government would be relevant in interpreting what the pictorial representations mean and it is not open to the Plaintiff, as head of the Government to argue that the later portion of the Article is irrelevant in interpreting the Article as a whole as the Government is a separate entity from him.”

“It is the Defendant’s case therefore that unless it could be said that it is legally wrong for the Government to channel CPF monies to various entities (Temasek Holdings, GIC and MAS), invest the CPF monies and make profits from these investments and enrich itself and its reserves by not returning all profits made from the use of CPF monies to CPF account holders, the Article clearly does not leave the ordinary reader with the impression that the Plaintiff has done something wrong, much less, is guilty of criminal misappropriation.”

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Reply Written Submissions to Lee Hsien Loong’s Reply Submissions 15 September 2014

(2) The second part contains the constitutional argument.

“It is the Defendant’s submission that by virtue of Article 14 of the Constitution (Cap Const, 1999 Rev Ed) (“the Constitution), the common laws of defamation ceased to apply in Singapore unless Parliament, by law, specifically provides for it.”

“It is necessary at the outset to note that the Defamation Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) does not meet the Freedom of Speech Guarantee’s requirements. The Defamation Act does not restrict the citizen’s freedom of speech and expression, simply because it does not provide that defamation is cause of action. The Defamation Act merely provides for various defences to be available which were not available at common law, and for various procedural matters.”

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Defamation Suit’s Constitutional Argument Main

“We reiterate at the outset that the Defamation Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) does not satisfy the Freedom of Speech Guarantee’s requirement that “Parliament may, by law, impose… restrictions…” This is because the Defamation Act does not purport to restrict speech at all. All that it does, as the Plaintiff helpfully points out, is to provide for certain modifications and qualifications for a restriction of speech – the common law of defamation – that supposedly already exists.”

“The Plaintiff is right in not arguing that the cause of action of defamation had actually been enacted by the Defamation Act. It does not follow from the fact that Parliament enacts legislation modifying, or with the assumption of an existing body of law, that therefore Parliament enacted that existing body of law. By definition, by assuming an existing body of law (and therefor not positively providing for it), Parliament cannot simultaneously enact that existing body of law.”

PDF Link: Roy Ngerng’s Defamation Suit’s Constitutional Argument Reply

I also managed to do some quick drawings on my notebook.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin

Davinder Singh

M Ravi

Court Hearing 18 September 2014

My Sincere Wish for A New Beginning

You know, I am a very simple person. To some people, this might be laughable, how can you be a simple person with all that you are doing?

But I am. The closest people to me would know that. I do not aspire for fame, power or wealth for to me, these are empty. They do not mean anything.

What is the purpose of life? To pursue wealth, to feel rich or to have power over others? No, this is not what I believe in.

Several years ago, I started on my path of self-awakening. What do I want as a person? What is my purpose in life? What would give meaning to what I do?

As I learnt, I learned to smile at myself, to give thanks and to feel grateful to life, even now. No matter what happens or will happen, things happen because they are an opportunity for me to learn, yes, even now.

And I realise for myself that the purpose of living is to be connected to myself, to be connected within, to feel the truth, speak the truth and be the truth.

I realise that life is about being honest to yourself and doing what is right.

But what is right? I do not know. For we all perceive righteousness from our own coloured perceptions. What is right to me might not be right to you, and conversely so. But I do believe in the age-old saying, and more and more so understand, do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.

For it is true. Why would I wish on someone what I would not wish on myself?

And I believe that to be in this life, to live, is to learn to be human, or perhaps to learn humanity, to learn to be kind, compassionate and caring to another.

I say I am a simple person also because I do not have ambitions. No matter what I do, I do it because it feels right, because it feels like my purpose to do, sometimes because it is a duty, as it is now.

I do things because I feel that if I can make things better in my ability to do so, I should.

Someone told me, then it is not that you are a simple person. You have a complex mind but you believe in living simply. Perhaps he is right. It excites me to be able to understand how things work, how society has evolved, how things have changed and how they will change.

In that sense, I always have hope, always have hope that one day, things can get better, as they have and as they will.

And it is this hope and this belief that keeps me going, and believing, that we can change things, and make things work for the better.

But it is not in my interest to hurt another. Perhaps some might not think so, feeling to be on the other side. They might ask, why are you trying to bring me down, why are you trying to destroy what I have built?

But I seek not that, but I seek a better future. For I believe, do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.

Why would I want to hoard over wealth and greed, and in so doing, knowingly deprive another of their livelihood? Why would I want to perceive another to be lazy, to justify for my accumulation of wealth?

But if one is able to earn his riches, and still observe for others, if one is able to, amidst the riches she earns, look out for those around him or her, and allow them to as well grow in abundance, respected and loved, then one has done his or her due diligence as a person and the wealth earned, an honourable one.

And this is what I believe in.

But from the other side, they might ask, how sincere is your belief, when because of what you do, I am being hurt. Now that the truth is out and others know what I am doing, how am I going to save my face? How am I going to continue to live, without feeling that I have lost my face?

They might ask, if you would not want to lose your face, why would you want that of me? Is that not selfish?

Perhaps, but I am not at the level of enlightenment, for I am learning as a person, as a human.

And when I see injustice, from my own self-righteous view, I want to fight for the truth, for freedom.

Some might think, what makes your right more so than my right? No, it does not. My right is not better than yours, nor yours than mine.

Perhaps some might call me stubborn, but in my self-righteousness and my eagerness to set right what I believe, I justify that if I can fight for truth and justice, I would be able to help more people, to allow more people to be free.

Yet is this not what the other believe as well?

Indeed, if so, what am I fighting for? For myself? For others? For the truth? Or just for self-righteousness?

Perhaps then, it’s empathy.

In my own belief of do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you, I believe that I should have the empathy to understand the lives of another, as with the experiences I have been through, and to understand how it would feel, so that I would treat others with the same respect as I would have wished another would have accorded to me.

And perhaps then, as I would want to believe I empathise with the poor and marginalised, perhaps I should similarly show empathy for the rich.

But I have to admit the difficulty of doing so, for I am not rich and do not plan to be. A lack of ambition, the rich might say of me, that is why you cannot understand us, and perhaps I cannot as well understand the hoarding of wealth.

But not all rich are as such. I have met many of the rich who have similarly shown compassion and a willingness to share in their wealth. Let us pay more taxes, let us help the poor, they say. I have earned the wealth also because of those of others who have worked for me and with me, and so it is only right that I give back, they say. Indeed, there are those among the rich who care and have a heart not just for themselves, but for others and an inspiration to emulate.

But them I empathise not in their wealth, but in their want for others to get better, and not just for themselves, which is admirable.

And I ask, is this something too much to ask for? To want better for another?

I am not angry with the PAP and the ministers or the rich affiliated to them, who have enriched themselves with our money. But I do ask, with the wealth they have hoarded, are they still in a position to ask for self-reliance, when in their positions, self-reliance becomes a frivolous thought.

In a world ruled by money, for the rich among us, self-reliance is a feat easily accomplished like no other. But for the poor, self-reliance becomes murder, for the money I do not have will become a decision between life and death, as so many have been made to choose, to live or to die, and in worse instances, whether to kill my offspring or not, to prevent them from further hardship?

I do, I do try hard to understand the rich who rule in our government, who have made themselves our government and dictated our society by their values and mores, but that has become a society where one can only get ahead and be self-reliant is where one belongs to the rich, and the richest among them, the ten or fifteen percent, then what of the others whose values differ and for whom self-reliance have seen their difficult lives suffer?

To which then, has the PAP shown empathy?

In my self-righteousness, I apologise, for I choose to believe that as much as I have difficulty empathising with their (PAP’s) lives, they as much have difficulty understanding mine and the large majority of us, who struggle with our lives in a system the PAP has distorted.

But this I do not blame them, but the narrow frame of empathy that has enshrouded them within, as it has mine.

If so, this does not make me a better person, nor does it make them. But neither does it make them worse, or me a worse person as well.

It makes us human, for are we not all learning how to become better people, as I believe they would want to be as well.

How then do we a system make where the empathy of another magnified by the connection of us all, and enshroud us in an empathy that is far and wide, such that a system we create will uplift the lives not of some, but in our compassion and care for another, will allow us all to grow together?

Perhaps it is in this desire that I fight, for if the limitations of my empathy as a human-bodied person prevent me from having the full understanding of another, as they have similarly compromised the ability of that of the PAP, then such limitations can be overcome if we are able to expose ourselves to more of one another, to give ourselves an opportunity to truly understand, instead of close ourselves to the realities when we become uncomfortable of the truths.

Thus a government not made by a singular view, but one that is exercised by several views, one made by different people, with different beliefs, one made by different parties, representing different ideas.

For only a government not in the confines of one singular party and a singular ideology will thoughts and expressions flourish, and will the empathy be magnified by the acknowledgement of not just some or whom we call the elites today, but of many others, like you and I.

Where a government which truly represents the whole of society, will allow us a chance to reshape our country, and to work with everyone to bring about change that will truly benefit all, and allow enlightenment to heal us all.

But the PAP might be uncomfortable with that, too deep within the gains of fore, but I do not wish ill on the PAP, for they are as clouded as I am, us humans trapped from our ego perspective. The mistakes we have made, we learn, we forgive, we let go and we move on stronger, together. For that is what I believe for myself, for another and for us together.

But for change to come which our country so dearly needs, it is perhaps time our people to recognise that for change to come, for our lives to get better, it means to realise that a new togetherness has to be forged, one not by awaiting for change to arrive, but for us to recognise how change should happen and bring about this change with our own guidance.

I have made peace with what is currently happening to my life right now. My only hope is that at the end of it all, our country will see a new beginning and a new way forward, not dictated by one but by all of us, in unity and in belonging, together in our diversity moulded into a new consciousness, where we would be ready to work for the well-being of not just one but of all of us together.

When we see our people move together, and the potential of our lives become a reality so much dreamt after, we can see a brighter future, where all of us will be able to pursue our purpose, for at the end of the day, is this not what life is all about?

To be born into this life, to pursue our purpose, to live our lives to the best of our abilities and potential, and to become a beautiful person and a beautiful people together?

At the end of the day, what are we really fighting for? It is not for ourselves or against another.

It is about fighting for the right to live, the chance to live and to be who we truly can be.

And if we so truly believe that, it is not just in our lives that we fight, but to know the bigger picture and in that solidarity, join hands and fight for a brighter future, for not just ourselves, but our fellow men and for the land we grow ourselves on.

Some Singaporeans are holding a candlelight vigil for me today at 7.30pm at Hong Lim Park. If you are free or nearby, do come by and say hello. The first hearing for my court case is tomorrow, on 18 September at 10am at the Supreme Court.

The Facebook event page for the candlelight vigil can be found here.

Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng 1

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[Today]: Candlelight Vigil for Roy Ngerng [今天]:为鄞义林的烛光守夜

Some Singaporeans are holding a candlelight vigil for me today at 7.30pm at Hong Lim Park. If you are free or nearby, do come by and say hello. The first hearing for my court case is tomorrow, on 18 September at 10am at the Supreme Court.

The Facebook event page for the candlelight vigil can be found here.

有些新加坡人今天傍晚七时三十分会在芳林公园为我举行一个烛光守夜活动。如果你有空或会在附近,可以下来打个招呼。明天2014年9月18日将是我的第一个法院开庭审理。审理将在最高法院举行。

烛光守夜的 Facebook 活动页面可以在这里找到

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[Comic] How Singapooreans are Tricked and Trapped

How PAP Created Inequality in Singapore: Will Singapore Collapse?

The inequality in Singapore has reared its ugly head.

In spite of what Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong has said last year about income inequality stabilising and how the PAP government might claim this year that income inequality is declining, the fact of the matter is that Singapore still has the highest income inequality among the developed countries.

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But worse still, earlier this year, I caught the PAP fudging the income inequality statistics.

From 2008 to 2010 to 2013, in each of the government’s Household Income Trends reports, the PAP pushed down the income inequality statistics across the reported years, which creating the illusion that Singapore’s income inequality is lower than what it actually is.

Gini Coefficient 2008 vs 2010 vs 2013

Clearly, Singapore’s income inequality is not only the highest among the developed countries, it is also one of the highest in the world.

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What is worse is that the income inequality situation is driven by how the richest in Singapore pay themselves the highest salaries among the developed countries and one of the highest in the world. It is also exacerbated by how the PAP also pegs their own salaries to the richest in Singapore, as you will see later on.

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Not only that, over the years, the PAP kept reducing the personal income tax that the rich needs to pay, so much so that the richest in Singapore pays one of the lowest taxes in the world.

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And whenever the income inequality increases, the share of income that goes to the richest also increases in the subsequent year.

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So much so that the policies that the PAP has created has allowed the rich to get ahead so much, that the share of income in Singapore that goes to the richest 10% has risen from 30% in 1995 to 42% in 2011.

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But how did the abhorrent income inequality situation come about?

If you look at the chart below, you will see that prior to Singapore’s self-governance in 1959, income inequality in Singapore was already very high – the share of income that went to the rich was extravagant. Indeed, “During the time as a colony, shares rose to a peak in 1951 and then declined over the 1950s.

Top Income shares in Singapore 1947 to 2008

After 1959, the share of income that went to the rich and the inequality in Singapore started declining in the 1950s and 1960s. After Singapore gained independence in 1965, income inequality stabilised for the next 30 years or so.

Share of top 1 per cent in Singapore 1947 to 2007

Income inequality in Singapore fell to its lowest in 1980, before starting to rise very quickly after that.

In 1983, income inequality reached its peak before declining just a little and then rising quickly to its next peak in 1989.

So, you can see, by 1983, after a period of about 20 years from Singapore’s independence, income inequality started to rear its ugly head. In fact, Roine and Waldenström showed that in 1984, the share of income that went to the richest in Singapore was starting to trend upwards.

Singapore's top 1% break trend 1984

So, what exactly happened in 1984? Remember this year.

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1984 was the start, but that wasn’t the end of it. In fact, it was only beginning.

In 1995, the income share that went to the rich started to escalate dramatically upwards. What happened prior to 1995 that caused this? Specifically, what happened in 1994 to result in this dramatic spike in incomes that was going to the rich?

Again, remember 1994.

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The next turning point was in 1997 when after the Asian Financial Crisis, income inequality also started to shoot dramatically upwards.

Income inequality rose in Singapore after 1997 Asian Financial Crisis

Since then, income inequality in Singapore has only worsened and remain high – the highest among the developed countries and one of the highest in the world, and even higher than when Singapore gained independence.

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Similarly, the share of income that went to the richest has also become the higher than when Singapore gained independence.

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But what exactly happened? We know that “In the late 1960s when Singapore began as a nation, the income inequality was already quite high (with Gini coefficient of 0.498)“, which meant that the rich were already paying themselves (too) much prior to independence and they were able to hoard a large part of the wealth in Singapore.

However, “In November 1954 the People’s Action Party (PAP), a coalition of moderate democratic socialists and left-wing communists, was formed in Singapore. Initially the party manifesto had the objective of alleviating ‘unjust inequalities of wealth and opportunity’.

Thanks to this, (and perhaps thanks to the left-wingers who were but later arrested by the PAP and imprisoned without trial, some for more than 20 years), this resulted in reducing income inequalities.

However, “in 1961 the left-wingers left the PAP (and were subsequently arrested by the PAP for no legit reason).” The new party manifesto (issued in 1982) reflects a shift from ideology to practicality. The objective of abolishing unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity was revised to ‘the creation of a dynamic, disciplined and self-reliant society in which rewards are “in accord with each Singaporean’s performance and contribution to the society” and the creation of equal opportunities to all Singaporeans’.

Thus the PAP decided in 1982 to veer away from a decided policy to reduce income inequality in Singapore but favour a meritocracy that would favour “performance” and an emphasis of “self-reliance”.

The first signs of trouble started brewing soon after.

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In 1984, Lee Kuan Yew “decided to target Ministers’ salaries at 80% of their private sector counterparts“.

In 1985, Chiam See Tong and J. B. Jeyaretnam questioned Lee Kuan Yew’s raising of salaries for the PAP politicians.

Mr Chiam had asked, “I think it is a pity and it is a very sad thing that now we have to get people in … with attractive rewards.”

Mr Jeyaretnam had also asked:

Mr Speaker, Sir, the Prime Minister keeps talking about, “Let’s have a sense of proportion.” This is what I am trying to urge upon the Prime Minister, believe me, to have a sense of proportion. And I think you will get that if you compare the responsibilities and the duties of your office with the responsibilities and duties of office in other countries, and then begin to see what they are paid and what the Ministers are paid here.

In my Table that I have presented, the Prime Minister gets nearly four times what the Prime Minister in the United Kingdom gets, and what the Prime Minister in New Zealand gets. And three times more than what the Prime Minister in Malaysia gets. Is the Prime Minister of the view that his salary should be equated to the President of the United States? Because he is the only one who is getting more. He is getting $45,000 while the Prime Minister here is getting $30,976.

Lee Kuan Yew countered and claimed that if he did not pay the PAP ministers high salaries, “they would all walk back into better paid jobs”. He said that Mr Chiam and Mr Jeyaretnam were making “snide remarks”.

However, 1984 was not the last we heard of this.

You can see the PAP decided to pay themselves high salaries in 1984, income inequality started shooting up.

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But that was not the end of it. 10 years after that in 1994, PAP had the audacity to decide to increase their own salaries again.

Mr Chiam once again questioned the PAP, “Now the Prime Minister and the Ministers want even more pay. Why do the Ministers want so much money for? People are already saying that to be appointed a Minister is like touching a lottery.”

Mr Chiam also said:

The White Paper says that Singapore needs to pay our Ministers high salaries to attract competent men, to compensate them for the loss of their privacy and to prevent them from becoming corrupt. These reasons are faulty.

I do not believe that there are not enough competent men in Singapore who can qualify to be Ministers. The true position is that there are many good men out there who are of ministerial calibre. It is just that the PAP is unwilling to pick them for reasons of their own.

The Government could do the same by inviting good professionals with a record of integrity to become Ministers. Most professionals would be highly flattered and honoured when invited to become Ministers and would probably accept the invitation. I would think that most of them may not want to be Ministers for life, that is, until retirement due to old age but would certainly not mind doing a two term or two-and-a-half term stint.

Indeed, did the PAP “open its doors” wide enough or as Mr Chiam had asked, what are the PAP’s reasons to not to pick other “competent men” and what were the PAP’s “reasons of their own”?

Mr Chiam added, “If a Minister is intent on being corrupt, the hefty salary will not satisfy him. It will make him only more greedy for more money. The high salary paid to him will allow him to enjoy a high standard of living, such as living in a nice house and purchase expensive cars which can be a veil of his ill-gotten money, if he were to be corrupt. So the argument that you pay a Minister well will prevent him to be corrupt is quite fallacious.”

Are PAP ministers “living in … nice house(s) and purchas(ing) expensive cars” today?

Most importantly, Mr Chiam pointed out:

How can we know for sure that once a benchmark, as proposed, has been set, the Ministers will not engineer to make sure that they get hefty pay increases every year by encouraging the private sector to increase the pay of its CEOs? After all, many of the big companies such as privatised Telecom and SIA are Government controlled. Also, many of the big manufacturing companies, banks and multi-nationals have close connections with the Government, as they can be influenced.

Anyway, I think it is improper for Ministers to be asking for salary scales which would make them millionaires more than two times over in one term of office.

Mr Low Thia Kiang then also said:

… when I heard the Prime Minister’s speech in this House yesterday, I was very shocked. It seems like the future of our country will be determined by how much salary we give to our Ministers and top civil servants… The Prime Minister also said that the most important question is what kind of people we want to rule the country. This is indeed a question worth considering.

On this question, my intuitive reaction is that I do not want people who look to money to run the country. These people will be weighing their losses and gains in terms of money and the policy they embrace will surely be profit-oriented. Even if it results in huge economic growth year after year, and the Government coffer greatly enriched, the livelihood of the people need not necessarily be improved because the formulation and results of their policies will be determined purely from the angle of economic benefits only.

If, after so many years of nation building, we cannot cultivate some talented people with dedication to serve the country, then I must say with great regret that our country is a failure.

Mr Low made a very pertinent point, when he said:

If our country is facing this kind of problem today, the elites among our younger generation now would only look at money, then the PAP Government should make an overall review on whether their philosophy of running the country is out of balance, and whether it has been putting too much emphasis on utilitarianism and elitism… What we are saying is that we should not over-emphasize elitism and materialism so that the desire of the people becomes stronger and stronger, resulting in their being obsessed with the desire for gain.

Indeed, are the elites too “obsessed with the desire for gain”?

Finally, Mr Low echoed Mr Chiam when he said:

Corruption arises because of greed and because of greed they become corrupted and polluted. So if we over-emphasise money and the society becomes such that so long as you have money you can call the shots, then no matter how much you pay them, they will be asking for even more.

But not only that, PAP knew that by increasing their own salaries, income inequality would widen but they went ahead with it anyway, knowingly. Mr Low pointed out, “On the other hand, according to the 1990 Population Census, more than 70% of our workforce earn less than $1,500. So if you use the income of just a handful of super-high income earners as the benchmark, and ignoring the great disparity among the incomes of the people of Singapore in general, is it reasonable?”

As you can see, in 1984, the PAP decided to peg their own salaries to the rich in 1984 and because of that, income inequality shot up dramatically.

In 1994, after the PAP again pegged their own salaries to the rich, the share of income that went to the richest also shot up.

PAP Increased their Own Salaries Again in 2000

Within a short 6 years, in 2000, PAP decided to again increase their own salaries.

At that time, Lee Kuan Yew said:

Finally, do not believe that we have escaped the problems that have plagued our neighbours and the region – KKN for corruption, collusion and nepotism, which have caused so much damage.

Our market-based pay and allowances will give no excuse for any slippage, and it is the duty of all of us – MPs of all parties and ministers – to be alert, to make sure that no KKN incidents take place without proper investigation and punishment, and to set the example by maintaining high standards in protecting the integrity of our institutions. And you need two things for Singapore’s continued well-being – strong institutions and good men to run them.

Do you think Singapore has escaped the “corruption, collusion and nepotism” today?

Yet again, PAP would increase their own salaries in spite of the glaring income inequality. Mr Chiam exposed the PAP barefaced:

Sir, I am certain that Ministers must be aware that there are Singaporeans who are barely scraping the bottom of the barrel to make a living. Does it not prick their conscience then when they themselves ask for high salaries at over a million dollars a year? If we take the average worker’s wages at $2,000 a month or $24,000 a year, and the Minister’s salary at $1.4 million a year, then the Minister is earning something like 60 times more than an average worker in Singapore. It means that for a Minister to work for one year, the average worker in Singapore has to slog for his lifetime for 60 years. This, to me, somehow does not look right.

When Mr Low saw through the PAP and asked if it is the case that “the higher the Ministers are paid, the higher the return in benefit for the people?”

But Goh Chok Tong skipped the question and said, “Where you have high pay, and you pay people who do not measure up, then of course your performance cannot increase. So the link is not between the high pay. The link is between good people whom you have to attract with the right pay.”

Essentially, the PAP wanted to increase their own salaries but did not want to increase the social benefits for Singaporeans.

But not only that, when PAP increased their own salaries in 2000, income inequality also shot up in the same year.

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Then the share of income that went to the richest 10% also shot up in the following year.

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PAP Increased their Own Salaries Again in 2007

Yet in another short 7 years, in 2007, the PAP did not back. They were emboldened to continue to want to increase their own salaries.

Mr Chiam See Tong retorted, “Yet, our Prime Minister and other Ministers are still dissatisfied – they want more.

Mr Chiam also said, “A government should be run entirely for the benefit of the citizens of Singapore.  When Ministers are paid exorbitant salaries, then Singaporeans perceive that the Government is not doing everything it can for the people of Singapore but it is more interested in lining the pockets of its Ministers.”

As the PAP has done so in the past, they continued to increase their own salaries, at the expense of Singaporeans, as Mr Chiam pointed out once again:

Only recently, Members of Parliament have been trying unsuccessfully to get the Minister to increase the Public Assistance from $250 to $300 per month. How will the people react if they found out that the Government is asking for a pay hike of Ministers’ salaries when the Ministers are paid of about $100,000 a month?  The people in the bottom 5% are still paid only about $1,000 a month.  What are the Ministers going to say to these people when there is such a great disparity of incomes between them and the lowly-paid workers?  As far as I am concerned, they have all lost their moral authority, vis-a-vis the low-income workers. The gap of their incomes is too great, in fact, 100 times.

The poor worker has to work 100 months to earn the amount of salary a Minister earns in a month.  The duty of political leaders is different from that of a leader in a commercial world.  In the commercial world, the CEO or the manager has to only think of the bottomline, but the political leader must, at all times, maintain integrity and moral authority to inspire and to rally the people.  Once the moral authority is lost, the whole credibility is also lost.

Indeed, when the PAP decided to increase their own salaries in 2007, income inequality in Singapore rose to its highest peak in the 2000s.

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And in the following year, the share of income that went to the rich also shot up to its highest peak.

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Has the PAP lost its “moral authority”, as Mr Chiam had shot the PAP point-blank?

So, you can see, income inequality and the share of income that went to the rich in Singapore climbed in 1984, 1994 and 2007.

And in each of these years, you can see how the increase in income inequality in Singapore is intricately linked to how the PAP decide to peg their own salaries to the richest in Singapore and pay themselves the highest salaries in the world.

PAP Also Reduced Taxes for Themselves

And in fact, you can also see how the PAP also reduced the taxes that they have to pay, so that they can keep more of the money for themselves. In 1961, after self-governance, the top personal income tax rate was increased to 55%. However, “At the end of the 1970s, the average tax rate being paid by the top income group was around 38 per cent (and) by the middle of the 1980s the average rate had fallen below 30 per cent.” In 1987, the top rate was reduced to 33%, then reduced to 28% in 1996, to 22% in 2002 and 20% in 2006.

Not only that, the top personal income tax rate only takes effect at a very high level of income in Singapore, or one of the highest levels in the world.

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Again, all these coincided with how the income inequality and the share of the income that went to the rich kept shooting up.

Indeed, now it makes perfect sense why The Economist had ranked Singapore as 5th on the crony capitalism index, where it is the 5th easiest for the rich to get rich in Singapore if they are politically affiliated to the PAP.

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Today, the Singapore prime minister belongs to the richest 0.1% in Singapore while the PAP politicians belong to the richest 5%.

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Meanwhile, Singapore has an estimated poverty rate of between 27% to 35% (Professor Mukul Asher).

Singapore Poverty Rate Asher 2007

Which means that Singapore has the highest poverty rate among the developed countries and not only that but our poverty rate is even higher than developing countries in the region and on par with some of the poorest countries in the world!

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The poor and middle-income in Singapore also have to pay higher tax and CPF than the rich.

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Things have become so bad for Singaporeans that since Singapore’s independence, personal consumption has kept declining.

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Purchasing power has grown far slower.

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And today, Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries, and lower than Malaysia and on par with India.

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But not only that. Do you know that increasing their own salaries wasn’t PAP’s only way of causing income inequality in Singapore to worsen?

As I have written earlier this year and last month, not only in 1984, 1994 and in the 2000s, did the PAP increased their own salaries to boost their own wealth, they also created policies to hurt Singaporeans further.

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In 1984, PAP created Medisave and two years later, reduced what they should pay for health subsides from 50% to 30% and made Singaporeans used our Medisave to pay more by ourselves for healthcare.

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Today, PAP has made Singaporeans pay $66 billion into Medisave but only allowed Singaporeans to withdraw 1.3%, while they keep the rest (for what?).

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In 1986, PAP said that they would peg our CPF interest rates to market rates to give us higher interest rates. Prior to 1986, Singaporeans were earning 6.5% interest on our CPF. But since the PAP changed it, our CPF interest rates only kept going all the way down to 2.5%.

CPF Ordinary Account Interest Rates from 1977 to 2007

In 1987, PAP introduced the CPF Minimum Sum. For the next nearly 30 years, they kept increasing the CPF Minimum Sum to trap our CPF inside. Today, 90% of Singaporeans cannot meet the CPF Minimum Sum, are unable to withdraw our CPF and are unable to retire.

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In 1990, PAP introduced MediShield. Today, we have paid $3.7 billion into MediShield, are able to withdraw only $2.2 billion to use while PAP keeps the rest of the 41% inside for their own surplus.

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In the 1980s, PAP also decided to include the cost of land into the prices of HDB flats even though Singaporeans do not own the land the HDB flat sits on (nor the flat itself). Because of that, between 1981 and 1988, four-room flat prices rose by an average of only 2.5% per year but between 1988 and 1992, prices increased dramatically by an average of 12% every year!

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Also, from 2008 to 2013, land costs grew by 18.2% every year, resale flat prices grew by 9.1% but our incomes only grew by 5.3%!

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Today, of the flat prices, Singaporeans have to lose 60% to paying for land which does not belong to us.

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Then in 1994, we see PAP once again increased their own salaries.

In 1994, they also changed the housing policies to allow CPF to buy resale flats, knowing that this would drive up prices of HDB flats beyond control, and reduced Singaporeans’ purchasing power further. And who gets to reap the profit?

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In 1995, PAP spiked up the CPF Minimum Sum to trap more of Singaporeans’ CPF inside.

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In 2004, PAP opened the floodgates to cheap substitute labour which further depressed the wages of workers in Singapore.

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In 2004, PAP also created the EntrePass scheme to invite high-net worth individuals to set up businesses and the Global Investor Programme to invite them to become permanent residents, which further fuelled the income inequality.

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In 2004, profits in companies owned by PAP, via Temasek Holdings also shot through the roof. You can see the example in Singtel below.

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By 2007, because of the wage depression and when PAP increased their own salaries, the proportion of Singaporeans who were earning less than $1,000 ballooned even though Singapore was becoming richer and more Singaporeans should be earning higher wages, but this did not come.

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Yet, Lee Hsien Loong wanted to invite more billionaires into Singapore, even whilst knowing that income inequality would get worse in Singapore.

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Today, the income inequality has worsened so badly that this has disastrous effects for Singapore.

Today, the gap between the richest 20% and the poorest 20% in Singapore is the widest among the developed countries.

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

In fact, you can see that the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of the 90% of Singaporeans have kept growing wider and wider since Singapore’s independence, and especially exacerbated from the mid-1980s onwards, when PAP chased out the PAP Old Guards and changed course.

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Indeed, after the United States, the share of income that has gone to the richest 1% in Singapore has risen the fastest in Singapore since the 1980s, as compared to the other developed countries.

Top Income Inequality around the World, 1980-82 and 2006-2008

Because Singapore has the highest income inequality among the developed countries, we also have the highest prisoner rate, after the United States.

Rates of imprisonment are higher in more unequal countries

We also have one of the lowest social mobility.

Inequality vs Social Mobility

Singaporeans have also become more likely to self-enhance or to think we are better than someone else, among the developed countries.

Inequality vs Self-Enhancement

And the level of trust has grown so bad that we have the lowest levels of trust.

Levels of trust are higher in more equal rich countries

And are the second least likely people in the world to help a stranger.

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Singaporeans have also become the most unhappy and most emotionless people in the world.

Singapore One Of the Most Unhappiest Countries In The World

Today, PAP’s policies have driven Singapore to become the most expensive country in the world to live in, while they also earn the highest salaries in the world.

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While Singaporeans have to earn the lowest wages among the highest-income countries.

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And have the lowest wage share among the developed countries.

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Meanwhile, PAP is able to grow GIC and Temasek Holdings to become the 8th and 10th richest sovereign wealth funds in the world, using our CPF.

Sovereign Wealth Fund Rankings   Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute

While Singaporeans have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world.

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Yet, the government would spend the least on social protection for Singaporeans, among the developed countries, and one of the lowest in the world.

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Do you see what is wrong in Singapore?

The elitist system in Singapore has robbed Singaporeans not only of our wealth but also of our lives, our pride and our dignity.

And this is not intentional.

The PAP created this, all the way since way back since at least from 1984.

PAP started paying themselves extravagant salaries in 1984 and kept increasing their own salaries in 1994, 2000 and 2007, and then their own cronies, networks and the rich affiliated to them.

They also created policies to further repress the lives of Singaporeans from 1984, 1994 and 2004.

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All these are not intended. It was not by accident that income inequality in Singapore kept rising in Singapore. It was not by chance that the rich (affiliated to the PAP) got richer and richer and helped themselves to the money of Singaporeans.

After PAP eradicated the PAP Old Guards in 1984, the people left embarked on a policy to cut down on Singaporeans and further victimise our livelihoods.

Today, Singaporeans live marginalised lives because of a PAP which no longer took care for Singaporeans but allowed Singaporeans to languish, while they reap what they sow from our hard labour.

Yet, swayed by the PAP’s propaganda in the mainstream media, we had believed in the PAP and have been hoping for the past 30 years that the PAP would one day turn around and start to actually help Singaporeans.

PAP exterminated the leftists in Singapore in 1965, and then eradicated the PAP Old Guards in 1984 who at least had the heart to serve. They killed off the people who wanted a more equal society in Singapore and implanted their own cronies into government. It is no wonder Mr Chiam lamented the impossibility of getting good people into government, without having to go on the guise of high salaries. Good people was never part of the plan.

I am sorry, Singaporeans. For the past 30 years, you have trusted the wrong party to run your government.

I am not sure if you are too shock by this yet to respond or to wake up and want to do something about it yet.

But if we do not want or dare to do something about this, then Singapore will go the way of other civilisations that have gone before us.

Singapore Will Collapse if the Inequality Continues Tearing Our Country Apart

In a study funded by NASA, it was shown that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history“.

One key factor that “can lead to collapse (is) … “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

The “accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels,” as is happening in Singapore right now, where the poorest 30% in Singapore do not earn enough to survive and have to spend 105% to 151% of their incomes while for the middle-income, two-thirds can earn only enough to buy what they need but not anything else more and can barely survive.

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Thus “the Elites (would) eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

And thus “under conditions “closely reflecting the reality of the world today… we find that collapse is difficult to avoid.”

Finally, the study concluded that, “Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most “detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners”, allowing them to “continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe.” This would explain why the PAP and their affiliates and cronies would continue to be oblivious to the damage that they are causing to Singapore because they are so high up in their high horses and ivory towers that they are sheltered from the realities of the large majority of Singaporeans.

When we say the PAP is out of touch, it is truly because they are unable to empathise with the rest of Singaporeans, perhaps not because they do not want to, but due to a lack of ability by virtue of being part of the self-made elite, that would allow their downfall and Singapore’s demise to be similar to that of the “Roman and Mayan cases”.

The study explained that “the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, … (if) appropriate policy and structural changes (are implemented) … (to) pave the way toward a more stable civilisation,… (by) reduc(ing) economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources”.

So, the solution is clear, based on a careful study of the past 5,000 years of human history. The impending collapse in Singapore can be avoided, but only if there is a fairer distribution of wealth and resources.

However, it is clear the PAP is unwilling. For a government which would fudge the income inequality statistics to pretend that income inequality is going down and to claim that Singaporeans are better off, in spite of further and further hardship, the PAP is in a denial mode akin to how the elites in other fallen societies have enshrouded themselves within, before their societies collapsed.

Today, Singapore has become like the 1950s all over again where Singapore was still under colonial rule, where income inequality and poverty was at staggering levels, and which created much social unrest and uprising. Will Singapore go the way of fore where the lives of Singaporeans have become so incredibly squeezed that we would break out of the mould to fight, reclaim our lives and bring about a more equal society for Singapore?

Or will we continue to fear for our own lives, to stay confined to our existence and hope that by some stroke of luck, Singapore will be fine in spite of the wealth of evidence that suggests otherwise.

Perhaps at the end of the day, if Singapore goes back from First World to the Third World or perhaps into oblivion as Temasek in the 14th century had, the PAP and elites might not be the only ones to blame, but Singaporeans ourselves for not having risen up and spoken up, when we should have, from not only protecting ourselves but protecting the very country our lives have been rooted on.

And when the times does come, be it in the next few years or the next 10 or 20, it was not that Singaporeans and the PAP (and their cronies) alike were never warned, but that we were, but we remained in denial, fear and a blissful ignorance that by the time our country slides beyond hope, the only person we might curse and swear should be ourselves.

Your choice now. What would you do?

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.

On 27 September 2014, join us at the Hong Lim Park at 4pm at the #ReturnOurCPF 4 protest. The PAP cannot take our CPF and money to use and come out with a cock-and-bull story about how they do not know how they are using our money. When Singaporeans are not able to retire today, when our wages are depressed and more and more Singaporeans are becoming unemployed and are unable to save, then the PAP has failed Singaporeans and has become a liability to our country.

Join us at the next protest as we speak up against the low retirement funds and wages, and the high cost of living in Singapore.

You can join the Facebook event page here.

Also, my first court case will be held on 18 September 2014, at 10.00am. It will be a full-day hearing.

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 2 final

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 2@chinese final

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 1b

Singapore’s Straits Chinese Banking Families: Every Side Has a Story

I posted a portrait of Singapore’s Straits Chinese Banking Families a few days ago. I received feedback that the chart was too big and unclear, so I have broken it up into smaller parts, and added in some extracts from books and notable quotes of the pioneers.

SINGAPORE’S STRAITS CHINESE BANKING FAMILIES 3

The extracts and notable quotes follow below the charts.

SINGAPORE’S STRAITS CHINESE BANKING FAMILIES @ Lim Boon Keng Tan Lark Sye Lee Kong Chian Tan Kah Kee

The Economic Growth of Singapore Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century b edited

The Economic Growth of Singapore Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century a edited

From: The Economic Growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century

SINGAPORE’S STRAITS CHINESE BANKING FAMILIES @Tan Kah Kee Lee Kong Chian Tan Lark Sye Lim Nee Soon Tan Keong Siak

Transnational Business Networks and Sub-ethnic Nationalism Chinese Business and Nationalist Activities in Inter-war Singapore (1919-1941) a edited

Transnational Business Networks and Sub-ethnic Nationalism Chinese Business and Nationalist Activities in Inter-war Singapore (1919-1941) b edited

Transnational Business Networks and Sub-ethnic Nationalism Chinese Business and Nationalist Activities in Inter-war Singapore (1919-1941) c edited

From: Transnational Business Networks and Sub-ethnic Nationalism? Chinese Business and Nationalist Activities in Inter-war Singapore (1919-1941)

SINGAPORE’S STRAITS CHINESE BANKING FAMILIES @ Tan Chin Tuan

Chinese Family Business and the Equal Inheritance System Unravelling the Myth edited

From: Chinese Family Business and the Equal Inheritance System: Unravelling the Myth

Globalization and the Rise of China Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore b edited

Globalization and the Rise of China Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore c edited

From: Globalization and the Rise of China: Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore

Chinese Business Enterprise, Volume 2 a edited

Chinese Business Enterprise, Volume 2 b edited

Chinese Business Enterprise, Volume 2 c edited

From: Chinese Business Enterprise, Volume 2

SINGAPORE’S STRAITS CHINESE BANKING FAMILIES @ Lee Kuan Yew

Globalization and the Rise of China Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore a edited

Globalization and the Rise of China Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore d edited

Globalization and the Rise of China Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore e edited

Globalization and the Rise of China Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore f edited

From: Globalization and the Rise of China: Their Impact on Ethnic Chinese Business in Singapore

Political Business in East Asia a edited

Singapore Politics Under the People's Action Party b edited 2a

Singapore Politics Under the People's Action Party b edited 2 b

From: Singapore Politics Under the People’s Action Party

Political Business in East Asia b edited

From: Political Business in East Asia

Some notable quotes:

Lim Boon Keng: “It is on the youth of today that so much will depend – Malaya’s racial harmony, economic development and prosperity and eventual self-government. The home must be properly established, good morals must be observed, and filial piety practised. There must be sincerity of thought, honesty of action and goodness of heart.”

Tan Kah Kee: “Treat people with sincerity. Do things with perseverance.”

Lee Kong Chian: “Whoever wants to harvest good rice, must also plant good seeds.”

Tan Chin Tuan: “If you want to lay down a policy, you must set yourself as an example.”

When asked, “Are you ever angry with the Government for taking away your right and left hand men (referring to Tony Tan, Yong Pang How, Wong Pakshong)”, Tan Chin Tuan said, “I regard it as sending them off for National Service.”

“Greed is a prelude to downfall. To be successful, you should give before you take.”

Lee Kuan Yew: “I have been called many names, but no one has called me greedy for money. When I went into politics in 1954 with the formation of the PAP, I set out to achieve other things than to get rich. That also goes for my wife. My greatest pride is what Singapore now is and with a capable second generation group of leaders to carry it forward. My wife’s greatest pride is not my fame or status but our three children, because they are honest, upright and honourable.”

“When I call a man openly, you’re a liar, you’re dishonest, and you do not dare to sue me, there’s something basically wrong. And I will repeat it anywhere and you can’t go and say, oh, I have apologised; let’s move on. Can you commit a dishonourable — maybe even one which is against the law — an illegal act and say, let’s move on because I’ve apologised? You may move on but you’re going to move on out of politics in time.”

Lee Hsien Loong: “Let’s move on!”

“Hence, we have always been honest and forthright with Singaporeans when something goes wrong.”

“Have the courage and honesty to take responsibility for what you say and what you do.”

“We must admit our mistakes openly and honestly, put them right, and act against those who have been culpable.”

“And if we didn’t quite get it right, I’m sorry, but we will try and do better the next time.”

“If a Minister is negligent or dishonest, then of course, he has to be sacked.  I have not had to do that.  But if a Minister does not perform well despite all his best efforts, then I may move him to a less demanding portfolio where he is able to perform, or if necessary, I may have to phase him out discreetly.”

“But overall, I think I can honestly say, without blowing our own trumpet, that it is a good system that has served Singa­pore well.”

“Why this is being realistic, why you have to be honest and not hypocritical about this matter, why it is necessary to have the best man to be the Chief Justice, to be Judges, to be the Attorney-General, to be Permanent Secretaries and Ministers, and how important it is to do that right rather than argue over a few million dollars of salary.”

Teo Chee Hean: “What do you think?”

Money in Singapore 新加坡的钱

2007 Ministerial Salaries Debate: Lee Kuan Yew, Low Thia Kiang and Chiam See Tong

Mr Low Thia Khiang: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when this topic on market benchmarking of Ministerial and civil service salaries against the top private-sector earners was first debated in Parliament in 1994, I spoke against it.  Thirteen years after Parliament agreed to thesalary benchmarks, the debate continues over whether Ministers are being paid too much.  The issues I spoke on at the debate remain relevant to date.  This is blatant evidence that the public, like me, was not and is not convinced that the salary benchmark is fair and just.  I see no point in wasting public resources debating this salary issue every few years, if the sole purpose of having this supposed debate is just to pacify the people that the Government has given it fair thought before approving the high salaries.

While the Government can claim to have secured the mandate of the people at the recent elections last year and therefore has the right to pay itself based on the terms of the Government deemed most suitable, I wish to remind the Government that I do not think Singaporeans have given the Government a blank cheque.  Given the public disquiet and debate outside this House after the intended salary revision was announced, the Government should seriously consider setting up a panel for public consultation and coming up with a remuneration formula for the public service that can be adhered to, is practical and deemed reasonable by the public.  Many people are not convinced of the rationale of benchmarking the current salaries of the Administrative Service, including the Ministers’, against the top earners in the private sector.  One concern is that it is volatile.  This is inevitable when the variable components of private sector wages, such as bonuses and stock option gains, are taken into account in the setting of annual wages.  In addition, the benchmark not only considers the earnings of Singaporeans but also those of Malaysians and Permanent Residents.  While most of the individuals in the benchmark change every year, the level of wages taken into consideration will most likely increase over the years.  This is largely due to two factors.

Firstly, a larger income gap due to globalisation will result in more outliers earning very high incomes.

Secondly, the embrace of foreign talents in Singapore will result in a greater pool of high-wage earners that will qualify under the benchmark criteria, alongside potentially increased wage.

Even if the Government takes an average from the range within the benchmark, it may not be representative of the general trend of income earned by Singaporeans.  In the worst scenario, such a benchmark may even encourage money-minded civil servants to focus on policies that ensure the existence of the pool of top earners that satisfies the benchmark criteria.  Apart from the potential embarrassment from an escalating benchmark, that is headed for alarming high levels, it is also highly ludicrous that senior civil servants are consistently one of the highest paid in the workforce.  Remuneration in the private sector is volatile and employees are subject to stringent performance reviews.  For instance, stock option gains are possible only when an individual makes the correct investment decisions.  More often than not, such individuals have also helped to improve the value of the company.  However, human beings do not always make the right decisions throughout their entire life.

By benchmarking civil servants’ annual pay against individuals who have performed well during that year, there is an implicit assumption that civil servants and Ministers never make incorrect decisions.  But are they truly super human beings, forever error-free?  In addition, is there any job in the private sector that can guarantee that an employee is always amongst the highest paid in that sector regardless of the performance of that employee? There is much less job security in the private sector and even top performers face continual and fierce competition. Civil servants have an advantage as they are shielded from competition by foreign talent.  Ministers too are guaranteed at least five years of job security from one election to next.  Moreover, for the ruling party, there is always the flexibility of changing election rules in their favour to significantly increase job security for their Ministers.  After all, did SM Goh and MM Lee not previously admit that the GRCs enabled them to bring in Ministerial materials?

It is also ironic that we are consuming taxpayers’ money and we are also discussing how much more of  a fraction of a million to pay civil servants and Ministers, whilst we haggle over additional tens of dollars to hand out to our needy and disadvantaged citizens.  According to the 2005 report by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, the Singapore Civil Service has some of the highest paid civil servants in the world.  Our Government holds the view that this will ensure a clean, competent and effective civil service.  However, the fact shows that other countries with lower paid civil servants are able to enjoy such qualities.  Based on the corruption perception index and global competitiveness index, Singapore ranked below Finland and Denmark in 2005 and 2006.  However, the governing of a country should not only take into account these two factors. A more important factor that directly affects the lives of every Singaporean living here is the quality of life.  A survey that evaluates 39 quality of living criteria, including political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services, found in 2006 that Swiss cities had topped the annual survey again while Singapore, with its highly paid and thus highly competent and clean government, ranked best amongst Asian cities, but was 34th in the world.

Based on the above facts, it would be interesting to know how much the civil servants are paid in countries such as Denmark, Finland and Switzerland, just to name a few. According to a United Nations’ report, the Switzerland Federal Office of Personnel revealed that the basic remuneration of civil servants ranged from 55,000 Swiss francs to 321,000 Swiss francs in 2006 which, based on an exchange rate of about 1.25, was about S$69,000 to S$402,000.

Good performers receive merit increments of up to 6% while worst performing staff may get a decrease in salary.  Although bonuses can reach 12% of salary for outstanding performers, the residence and overtime allowances are paid, it still seems that the highest-paid Swiss civil servants receive a lower salary than what Singapore civil servants and Ministers receive.  But, Sir, we have to note that they have neither a Prime Minister nor a President in Switzerland.

Sir, to cite another example, the 2006 United Nations’ report listed that the lowest monthly civil service salary in Finland was 1,200 euros, while the average was 2,600 euros for all wage earners. Even if the purchasing power parity is taken into account, it is highly likely that our civil servants here have a much better deal.  Based on such evidence, we believe that there is no need for enormously large salaries to attract and retain the right talent to run a country in an efficient and corrupt-free manner.

The Worker’s Party is of the view that the Government should consider modifying the current benchmark in place of a more equitable and sustainable one.  We suggest that the benchmark should take into account international practice, in particular, countries that could be taken into consideration would be those just cited, such as Switzerland, Denmark and Finland as well as those developed countries.

Sir, Denmark, like Singapore, employs a pay adjustment scheme to ensure that the pay of state employees in general and over a long period of time develops in parallel with the wages and salaries in the private sector.  For the Danish, their pay adjustment scheme automatically adjusts the central government pay development to the private sector pay development, but subject to a certain time lag.  Hong Kong tries to maintain their civil service pay level with the private sector, but they only maintain the broad comparability and not any explicit link.  Unlike Singapore, they all do not have a sure-win formula that ensures civil servants always have the best deal by benchmarking specifically to the top few earners.

While we accept that basic salary may be benchmarked broadly with the private sector in line with international best practice, we believe that performance pay should also be introduced to establish a visible correlation between performance and pay. Currently, the civil service has no financial bottom line in ensuring good outcomes although part of the senior officers’ salary is linked to GDP growth.

Sir, while it is necessary to link a percentage of salary to performance, it is also imperative to provide a performance regime whereby it is possible to discriminate performance for non-performers or under-performers, and to reward them accordingly.  Sir, in this respect, I welcome the adjustments in civil service pay structure just announced by the Minister.  A performance-related pay system requires a comprehensive and objective system of measurement, in particular, performance appraisals have to be more vigorous and transparent to the public, something that the public can identify with.  Variable bonus will only be given to civil servants and Ministers if the key performance indicators of the respective Ministries had been met.  We recommend having different KPIs for different Ministries from time to time so that Ministers and civil servants can concentrate their effort in deriving the right policy for Singapore in their respective areas.

For instance, Sir, some possible KPIs that the Government can consider adopting at this point in time are:  a 5% drop in Gini coefficient, reflecting efforts to reduce income disparity, for the Prime Minister; a 2% increase in the proportion of trips taken on public transport during the peak hours, reflecting efforts to make public transport a choice mode by the Ministry of Transport; a 5% increase in the total fertility rate, reflecting efforts to address the ageing population by Ministers and civil servants involved in the Committee on Ageing Population; and perhaps, a minimum long-term unemployment rate, reflecting efforts to address structural unemployment by the Ministry of Manpower.

By linking variable bonuses to clear and objective KPIs, the Government can concentrate on making the right policy for Singapore, rather than spending valuable resources and time tracking how much private sector’s top-earners had made each year and how the Government should therefore be paid.  Such objective short-term goals also track the success and ensure that long-term policies can be gradually attained.  In addition, this system will ensure that public officers are both accountable and responsible for the outcome of their formulated policies and keep the Government transparent to the public, in terms of its achievements, capabilities and accountability.

Sir, I would now like to move on to the issue of recruiting and retaining talent within the civil service.  MM Lee has said that it is not possible to hire a foreign talent to run this country because political leaders must have the passion, the commitment and must share the dream of the people.  Likewise, such qualities are essential in each and every one of our civil servants.  Not everyone is cut out for a career in the civil service and the loss of able people who lack such qualities is not a loss to our country. In fact, I believe that civil servants with such qualities will never be induced by the attraction of a private career and a private life, no matter how great the financial rewards offered by the private sector.  More importantly, Sir, it is common knowledge that the senior civil servants and Ministers in Singapore are hardly paid peanuts.  Although statistics show that officers aged between 28 and 33 make up more than 80% of resignations in the past five years – and I suppose many of these are scholars – it is not unexpected that these officers will review their options when their scholarship bonds end.  The alarmingly high percentage speaks of a bigger problem, perhaps, that scholarships funded out of taxpayers’ money did not attract the right mix of people.

According to one such civil servant who has resigned from the service, he said that the Administrative Service was not the best fit for him.  In fact, some who left said that they were drawn by the different challenges and new experiences, more so than by the money.  The earlier the Government comes to terms with this, the better for the people of Singapore.  If the original intention for the scholarship holders to serve as civil servants is not met and the Government continues to invest more resources in the same process in the hope for a reverse trend, the Government could be wasting precious resources for the wrong reasons and expectations.  In view of the above, I think more efforts should be made to explore other recruitment and screening methods to attract the talent for the right fit.

Sir, we agree that public servants should not be expected to make unreasonable financial sacrifice to be in the public sector.  However, neither should they be seen being paid unreasonable wages for their contributions.  According to the Department of Statistics, the bottom and top 10 decile of employed households registered an average monthly income of $300 and $6,990 respectively in 2006. Given such statistics, the argument that civil servants make unreasonable financial sacrifice is not convincing.  Even in the private sector, no organisation can afford to keep paying increasingly high salaries just to retain and attract top performers since resources are inevitably limited.  Moreover, in the case of public service, we need a different breed of people to come forward to serve. There is simply no point in offering high remuneration just to entice people to serve if what they are interested in is to make more and more money for themselves and their families in pursuit of material interest in life. Sir, do not forget that even if you do not pay peanuts, but pay with a bigger piece, say, a banana instead, you can still get a monkey.

In conclusion, Sir, the real issue is how to find the right leaders to run Singapore and to ensure that Singapore continues to succeed.  Benchmarking the civil service and Ministers’ salaries to the cream of the private sector’s income-earners who may or may not be at the same top all the time is controversial and distracting.  I would like to end this speech by quoting what Chua Mui Hoong said in the Straits Times: “How much they are paid is secondary.  Pay them well, but do not let pay drive the search for leaders.”

The Minister Mentor, Prime Minister’s Office (Mr Lee Kuan Yew): A point of clarification, Sir.  The Member has compared Singapore against Switzerland, Denmark and Finland.  Can I ask him if he considers Singapore’s population to resource ratio equal to Denmark, Switzerland and Finland?

Second, have they brought the standard of living of their people up, multi-fold times, from third-world to first-world in one generation?  To maintain that quality of government both in the political leadership that sets the tone for the whole civil service and for the whole country, can you get a Swiss-type government, Finnish-type government or a Danish government to bring about the results that Singapore has brought about in their own countries, let alone bringing them and their systems into Singapore?  Please explain.

Mr Low Thia Khiang: Sir, I have to admit that these are the reports that I got from the United Nations. They have put up these reports.  I believe that, based on the reports of what they have assessed today, they are not lousier than Singapore, in terms of living standards or the performance of the government.  They have different conditions from us, but I gather that when we move forward, we are also emulating the standard of living of Switzerland.  Are we not?

Mr Lee Kuan Yew: The Member has not answered my question.  Is he saying that we are comparing apples with apples?  Is he saying that the system of government in Finland, Denmark and Switzerland can bring them from First World to a superpower?  Can they do that?  Does he realise that Singapore’s GDP is only one-third of its external trade – that our external trade is three and a half times that of our GDP, higher than Hong Kong, by three times.  And that if this economy ever falters, it is the end of Singapore and its First World status. Denmark, Switzerland and Finland are part of Europe.  They can fail and they are still caught in a European situation.  If we fail here, we fall back to a South East Asian situation.  Just look around you.

Mr Low Thia Khiang: Sir, is the Minister Mentor saying that without paying such a high salary, we are bound to fail?  Even if we pay top-earner salaries, I do not think the present Government can bring Singapore to superpower status.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew: I am putting a simple question and ask for his clarification.  He has compared Singapore as if it were a Denmark, a Switzerland or a Finland.  Their system, their governments, never produced the kind of transformation that we have had, and their system and their governments have a broader base, and can afford a mediocre government.

The Singapore base is less than 700 square kilometres.  When we started, it was less than 600 square kilometres.  Could the system in Denmark, Switzerland or Finland produce a transformation as in Singapore?

Mr Low Thia Khiang: Sir, on what basis does Minister Mentor think that if the system in Denmark and Switzerland is put in Singapore it will not be able to transform Singapore into what we are today?  I want to know what is the basis.  I have no claim that it will happen.  But I would like to know, from the wisdom of Minister Mentor, why he thinks that it will not happen.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Mr Low, I do not think that you can see the clarification of Minister Mentor!  Mr Lee.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew: I would like the Member to explain why he thinks Singapore is comparable to Denmark, Switzerland and Finland.  Look at the size of the country, the location of the country, the resources of each country and the history of its people.  Then look at Singapore, its size, its history and the nature of its population.

To make the transformation from what we were in 1959 or 1965, whichever the starting point, to what we are requires an extraordinary government with extraordinary government officers to support it, to bring to where it is.

If we go back to an ordinary system that exists around us, then we will go down to those levels.  It is as simple as that.  There is no guarantee that Singapore with less than 700 square kilometres can maintain this position.

(Ms Irene Ng Phek Hoong and Mrs Josephine Teo interrupted the debate at this point.)

*****

Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir): Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, thank you for allowing me to join in this debate.

A Minister in Singapore gets an annual salary of $1.2 million, our Prime Minister gets $1.9 million, and our Minister Mentor gets $2.7 million, as reported in the press.  Compared to our office-bearers, the President of the United States gets an annual salary of only nearly $1 million.  The Prime Minister of Canada gets paid about S$400,000; the Australian Prime Minister receives an annual salary of about S$300,000; the Prime Minister of the UK gets about S$500,000 and the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR government gets about S$600,000.  The salaries of these heads of government that I cited are amongst the highest paid in the world and the salaries of our Ministers easily surpass them.  It can be said that our Ministers receive the highest salaries in the world.  This can be entered into the Guinness Book of Records as a world record.  This is another first that Singapore can boast of, ie, Singapore is a small country described only as a dot on the world.  The United States of America has a land area of about 15,000 times that of Singapore and over 60 times more people than us, but our Prime Minister earns more than President Bush.

Yet, our Prime Minister and other Ministers are still dissatisfied – they want more. The question is:  if the heads of governments of other bigger and more industralised countries can live on salaries less than a million dollars, why can our Ministers not do the same?

It does not mean when a country is able to pay its Ministers more, they can automatically ask for more.  Why was Mr Durai of NKF ostracised for receiving more, although NKF can well afford to pay him more? The reason is that NKF is a charity and its funds all come from donations of Singaporeans who themselves are not rich.  Poor people are also supporters of NKF and the money they donated should mostly be used for the benefit of the patients and not to line the pockets of its employees. A charity must be run for the benefit or the purpose of the charity. Although the Government is not a charity, it has many similarities with charities, especially in the way it runs with honesty and integrity.  A government should be run entirely for the benefit of the citizens of Singapore.  When Ministers are paid exorbitant salaries, then Singaporeans perceive that the Government is not doing everything it can for the people of Singapore but it is more interested in lining the pockets of its Ministers.

Only recently, Members of Parliament have been trying unsuccessfully to get the Minister to increase the Public Assistance from $250 to $300 per month. How will the people react if they found out that the Government is asking for a pay hike of Ministers’ salaries when the Ministers are paid of about $100,000 a month?  The people in the bottom 5% are still paid only about $1,000 a month.  What are the Ministers going to say to these people when there is such a great disparity of incomes between them and the lowly-paid workers?  As far as I am concerned, they have all lost their moral authority, vis-a-vis the low-income workers. The gap of their incomes is too great, in fact, 100 times.

The poor worker has to work 100 months to earn the amount of salary a Minister earns in a month.  The duty of political leaders is different from that of a leader in a commercial world.  In the commercial world, the CEO or the manager has to only think of the bottomline, but the political leader must, at all times, maintain integrity and moral authority to inspire and to rally the people.  Once the moral authority is lost, the whole credibility is also lost.

A Minister receiving a salary amount of $1.2 million will certainly undermine his moral authority.  As John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  The question is how to determine the salaries of Ministers. The Government chooses to fix the benchmark of Ministers’ salaries by pegging them to the highest earners in the private sector.  I think this is unfair to the taxpayers who are footing the bill because the high performance managers and the CEOs are given all kinds of extras, incentives and perks, such as bonuses, stock options and also bonus shares.  In other words, their salaries are highly inflated.  How can our Ministers take that as a benchmark?

A fairer way is to peg Ministers’ salaries to the Ministers of other First-World countries.  I think Hong Kong is a good country to follow.  Hong Kong is an Asian country about the size of Singapore. They are paying the head of government of about $600,000 a year or about $50,000 a month.  I think this is a fair salary.

At the last debate in this House on the revision of Ministers’ salaries, I suggested at that time that we pay our Ministers $50,000 a month.  This time round, I would suggest that Ministers be paid higher, about $70,000 a month or $840,000 a year.  If we pay our Ministers overall less by $20 million, that amount can be saved and we can easily use that to up the PA allowance – $300 per month – to benefit another 66,000 cases.  The last time, I believe it was Dr Lily Neo and others who were asking for more PA allowance.  There you are, if you can save on the Minister’s salaries, we can have another 66,000 people benefiting from the money we save by giving less to the Ministers.

What are the jobs of the Ministers? Are they paid to grow the economy or, simply, just to take care of the Ministries or to lead the nation?  The Minister Mentor, last Wednesday, in Sydney, said that Singapore should not save on the $20 million or Singapore’s $210 billion economy will be jeopardised.  Now, he is assuming that Ministers are responsible for growing the economy.  But there is one glaring example of the Shin Corp fiasco which showed that the Ministers’ judgement and decision, if they are involved, do not justify the huge amounts of salaries they receive.  Maybe the Ministers can explain why the Ministers have not made a decisive decision in the Shin Corp deal, which I think it is not very wise and gets Singapore into a bit of a fix.

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.

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 2 final

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 2@chinese final

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 1b