Singaporeans, I Cannot be Your Member of Parliament in Government

Roy Ngerng 2

Photo credit: Tan Yunyou

Many Singaporeans have asked me to run for the next general election and become a member of parliament.

I am sorry. I won’t be able to do it.

If you have followed the ongoings of the PAP’s prosecution against me over the last six months, since I was first sued for defamation, and if you have read and understood how the PAP has used the defamation suit in the past to not only silence the opposition politicians but to prevent them from entering parliament, then you will understand why I cannot do so.

I am sorry. I cannot represent you in parliament.

The PAP won’t let me.

In order to be able to run for the general election, a person cannot be made bankrupt and/or be fined more than $2,000.

I will be made bankrupt by Lee Hsien Loong.

I will also be fined more than $2,000.

Based on past precedence, all the opposition politicians who have been sued by the previous prime ministers have been made bankrupt by between $200,000 and $8 million.

Lee Hsien Loong has filed for the defamation suit in the high court which oversees cases of more than $250,000, so this is the least he is hoping to made me bankrupt by.

The government has also levied criminal charges against me, accusing me of public nuisance and demonstrating illegal under the Parks and Trees Act. Together, I would be liable for a penalty of up to $6,000.

As I had mentioned, there is absolutely no grounds to charge me with these two charges, but the PAP has decided to abuse the law and manipulate the law in their favour.

You can be sure that the PAP will make sure that I will be fined more than $2,000.

With a fine of more than $2,000 and a bankruptcy of at least $250,000 for the defamation suit, or even half a million or $700,000 from the rumours that I have heard, I will certainly be disqualified from being able to take part in the next general election.

You know, Singaporeans, one thing you have to understand is that you have to stop waiting for a “hero” to save you. The truth is, if you don’t help yourself, no one can save you.

I cannot save you. The PAP has already planned for all sorts of ways to stop me from running for the general election.

But you can still save yourself. You can still stand up for yourself and run.

You know, the reason why I fought the defamation suit right from the start, was not because I believed that I could win. I knew right from the start that I would lose. I knew that the PAP would make sure they would squash me all the way.

Right from when I was sued, I had become the #1 political enemy of the PAP. The defamation suit has always been reserved for the PAP’s topmost enemy. Thank you, it must be an honour to be looked so up by the PAP.

But you see, I fought because I believed that at some point, Singaporeans would join in, and stand up to fight back.

I had believed that within a few months, Singaporeans would have thronged the streets and the PAP would be unseated.

That day never came.

At the first #ReturnOurCPF protest in June, just before I was fired from my job at the hospital, an estimated 6,000 people attended the protest. That gave me a bit of hope. At the second protest in July, about 5,000 people came. It dwindled by a bit.

But after I was sued, I wrote another almost 100 articles on the CPF. I exposed what the PAP was taking Singaporeans’ CPF to use but no one moved. No Singaporeans felt it serious or urgent enough to fight back. No one came.

Ironically, it was only after I was sued that I discovered even more about how the PAP is siphoning off Singaporeans’ CPF to earn for themselves and finally put together the complete picture of what the PAP has been using government to do, and to take from Singaporeans’ CPF.

At the fourth #ReturnOurCPF protest, a bit fewer than a thousand people turned up. The PAP then set us up. When we got to stage, they pushed the children out just as we got there, took photos, then said we “heckled” the children. Then the PAP used its ministers, members of parliament and state-controlled media to whitewash the truth and accused of “heckling” the children.

But we never did. We did not go near the children at all.

It was soon discovered that the PAP lied but they did not apologise. They had the audacity to lie and accuse us of doing something we never did but when they were caught out, they pretended nothing happened.

But what became more obvious to me at that time was that, Singaporeans did not stand up, or fight back.

When the PAP said we “heckled”, Singaporeans instead drew back. Some even among the opposition and activists also decried us for “heckling” the children.

It was only then that I realised that Singaporeans were still willing to be subdued by their fears and to distance themselves from us and from me, and they were willing to find a reason to draw themselves away.

We made some mistakes, yes. But when it became clear that we were set up and people remained silent, I became crestfallen.

What was I to do, when in the face of a snide attack from the government, that when the “hero” that many held on to was inundated with waves of attack by the government that people were willing to back away?

I am writing this not because I am upset. On the contrary, I’ve resigned myself to the knowing that Singaporeans are still not willing to be ready. After having been heckled by the PAP for “heckling” in September, I spent the next few months being disillusioned, sunken, rejected and have finally learnt to come to terms to how Singaporeans might still not be ready.

Because, are you?

I am thankful and grateful for the support that has been shown, via the donations and the words of support. I am thankful that people continue to believe in the cause that I have been fighting for and continue to hold me in high regard.

Thank you.

But my friends, things will only change if you are willing to fight for yourselves.

Your “hero” is only one person. After the PAP kills me off, as they have already planned to, I will be down, dead, and then you will go back to your lives, angry and upset that your “hero” couldn’t do more for you.

But what else am I do when the PAP has trained its ammunition at me? There was no where I could run. There was no army to fight the battle, let alone the war.

While I stand alone in the battlefield and you cheer me on by the side, the PAP simply charged right at me, laughing all the way.

When they saw Singaporeans donate more than $100,000 to support the cause, this shocked them and they were taken aback. But when the number of people who came for the protests dwindled, when I wrote nearly a 100 articles after I was sued and people did not budge, when they accused me of “heckling” and people withdrew, they knew they could continue to throw even the kitchen sink at me and Singaporeans wouldn’t fight.

I was on my own. They knew that I had the support, even as much as 60% or 70% of the support of Singaporeans. But they also saw for themselves that even with all the support, no one would step forward.

If so, what is there for them to fear except to charge on and kill me off?

When I am down, when your “hero” is down, what are you going to do?

Are we going back to square one?

Old Singapore Capitol Theatre

Photo credit: Kfchia’s Blog

When I fought the defamation suit, it was because I believed that you would stand up and fight.

Just last week, I had a major argument with someone close to me – and I do not know who I can trust nowadays as the government has planted many spies around me – I told her that I am very tired. People aren’t fighting.

I told her, I do not know if Singaporeans know what they want. Many Singaporeans are urging me to continue to fight. But at the end of the day, what do Singaporeans want to achieve? Some want their CPF returned to them. Some want the PAP denied two-thirds of the seats in parliament.

However, you have to know that as long as the PAP is the government, there is no incentive for them to return your CPF to you. They’ve been taking your CPF as their own money to use for at least the past 30 years, if not the past 50 years. Why would having just a few more opposition seats change things? All they need to do is to prevent the opposition from running in the next general election.

The truth is that the only way when the CPF system will change, and in fact the only way that the government will finally learn to take care of Singaporeans is when the government changes and when the PAP is no longer the government.

But how many of you are ready for this? Or how many of you have thought through this?

So, the person close to me told me: but you know, I have to take care of my family, I have to take care of my children, so I can’t fight. You do not have a family or a partner, so you can fight.

But do you know that by fighting, I have lost my job and pretty much my life in Singapore? I haven’t been able to find a partner too because how many people would date a person being sued by the prime minister, no matter how unjust his action is?

I will only be able to get my life back in Singapore, when the government changes and the PAP is no longer the government.

But still, I fought. Not because I have nothing to lose but because I knew that if I don’t fight now, later on down the road, when things get worse, it will be too late to do something about it.

So I told the person close to me: no, you fear. Don’t come out with these excuses. You fear. And you have allowed the PAP’s propaganda to control you. Look at Hong Kong. The people there would say, for my family, for my children, I will fight.

But look at Singapore.

But you don’t understand, Singapore is better off, she said.

Rubbish, I shot back. Singapore is worse than Hong Kong. Poverty in Singapore is an estimated 30%. It is 19.6% in Hong Kong and this is already considered bad for a developed city. 30% of Singaporeans cannot earn enough to spend on basic necessities and the next 30% cannot earn enough to save. You are talking about two-thirds of Singaporeans who are not able to adequately earn to survive in Singapore.

And it is going to get worse. In 2000, poverty was an estimated 15%. It has gone up to 30% today. And at the rate it is going, in another 10 years, the number of Singaporeans living in poverty will hit 40%.

Singapore went from Third World to First World but it is going back to Third World again. Amidst the facade of the tall and new buildings, Singaporeans are actually languishing back into Third World livelihoods.

But how many of us are willing to acknowledge that? It even took me a while to see that even as people around me started talking about it. But it had to take people who have to loose their jobs and their homes, and people who cannot afford to pay their hospital bills or take their CPF out to have the veil taken off their eyes, to see what is really going on in Singapore.

Does it also means that you would have to lose your job or your home, or when you finally need to go for a major operation and can’t pay for it or when you want to retire but cannot do so, before you can also finally see the truth?

But many other Singaporeans I have spoken to have come out with excuses like she did. Because we allow fear to overcome us.

Because we fear, we would rather not fight now no matter how bad lives are today.

The funny thing is, Singaporeans keep saying that we are afraid that there will be instability if we fight or protest. But they do not want to see how if we do not do something about it today, when things get worse and we decide to finally fight, by then, it might be too hard to control.

It is ironic that while we fear that there might be instability today but it might be because of our very lack of action today that instability might result in the future.

Just last week, I met a person who told me that she was worried that if the PAP is no longer the government, then there will be instability in Singapore.

But I told her, you look at the opposition, how many of them are willing to rock the boat? In fact, if the opposition becomes the government, they would be more likely to want to maintain stability because they are also conservative. They know that Singaporeans value stability and they will also want to maintain that stability. In fact, for any government anywhere in the world that becomes the government, the very first thing they would, or should do, is to assure the people and businesses that they will continue to maintain stability.

But I told her, if the opposition forms the next government, it will not be the opposition that will cause instability to happen in Singapore. It will be the PAP which will create instability in Singapore.

Over the past 50 years, the PAP has controlled the government, they have also used the government to control the civil service, media, the law, the major companies in Singapore, academia, think tanks and used money to also control the non-government agencies etc.

The PAP has over the past 50 years controlled all aspects of Singapore so that they can make money off this country and the people here, for themselves. If the PAP loses government, they would want to take back control of government so that they can continue to earn.

Thus if the PAP is no longer the government, they will want to create instability so that they can make it look like the opposition cannot run the government, then take back the government, so that they can continue to make money off the people.

It is hypocritical for the PAP to keep saying that only it has the interests of Singapore at heart when it is clear that it is because of the PAP, that Singapore’s future is now at stake.

Where the PAP has continued to control companies in Singapore, this has driven out entrepreneurship among Singaporeans and created a dearth of Singapore companies and a local base for economic growth. Where the PAP has continued to pay themselves high salaries while depressing the wages of the majority of Singaporeans, this has not only created the highest income inequality among the developed countries, it has also caused social problems to develop, where Singaporeans are stuck in lower social classes and where our people have become less motivated and dejected.

We are losing our country and I put the blame squarely on the PAP.

But how many Singaporeans are willing to acknowledge this? Many still will themselves into the propaganda that the PAP puts out. Many continue to allow fear to sway their logic and thinking. How many of us are willing to break free from the PAP’s indoctrination and to think clearly for ourselves, and more importantly, for our own lives and our children’s, and for the future of this country?

My friends, I cannot be your hero. You have to be your own hero. You have to fight for yourself.

If you want change, you have to fight for it. You have to stand up and fight.

I have been a symbol of that resistance and of that fight but I can no longer do it, not as one person on my own.

If you really want change to come to Singapore, so that the lives of Singaporeans can get better, you have to decide for yourselves if you are willing to fight.

Many Singaporeans hope that things will change at the next general election. They believe that they can vote for change.

However, you and I know that the PAP will not play fair. Will things change? I do not know.

If we really want things to change, we will need at least 60% or 70% of Singaporeans to vote against the PAP, so that even if the PAP plays unfairly, we can still win.

I believe that there are at least 60% of Singaporeans who are already very angry with the PAP but how many of us would vote right?

And if after the next general election, the PAP is still the government, what will you do? Will you just continue to be angry?

Or will you fight?

The thing is, there are already many Singaporeans who are sick and tired of the PAP’s bullying ways – and I am sure there are already more than half, or even more than 60%.

If we come together, change can come, either at the ballot box or if Singaporeans decide to stand and fight together.

Are you ready to do it? Will you?

This is something you have to think for yourself. I can definitely see that some change has come after the last few months.

More Singaporeans are speaking up. More are standing up. We need more. How many more would do so, together?

Today, the PAP is very scared. They pretend that they are not but they are shitting in their pants. It’s really up to Singaporeans to look beyond the old rhetoric that we have been told and to unite and turn things around for ourselves.

It is up to you now.

It is time you become the “hero” for I will soon be rooted out by the PAP. If you do not want the fight to die down, then you have to decide for yourself if you are willing to fight.

For your own freedom, for your own lives, you have to fight. And only when you fight, will change come.

My friends, be the hero you want to see. Fight for yourselves. And your families.

How Singapore will turn out will depend on what Singaporeans and you are ready for.

British Academic Joel Lazarus’s Interview with Me on My Thoughts about the Defamation Suit and Singapore

Roy Ngerng

A British academic and activist Joel Lazarus interviewed me about my thoughts about the defamation suit that I am facing from the Singapore prime minister, the activism work that I have been doing and what I think about the state of Singapore.

Please watch this video.

“For our future, we have to fight for it. I hope that Singaporeans are able to look beyond this fear that compromises on our logic and compromises on our willingness to see change come to Singapore.”

“If we want a future and a sustainable future for Singapore as well as for the world, we need to change the system and go towards one which promotes equality and protect the people.”

The Government has Violated the Constitution by Charging Us for Holding an Illegal Demonstration under the Parks and Trees Act

Roy Ngerng Parliament

Photos credit: Tan Yunyou

Amidst the ongoings of the defamation suit over the past one week, I am also facing two criminal charges.

The Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) for the criminal case was held yesterday. Yes, it has been a week of back-to-back trials and hearings for me.

On 27 September last year, I participated in the #ReturnOurCPF protest at the Hong Lim Park where we had marched.

There was also another YMCA event at the park also set up by grassroot volunteers from the government.

We were then set up.

Things then came fast and furious.

Three weeks later, I was investigated by the police in October and in November, I was levied with criminal charges.

Initially we were investigated for unlawful assembly but we were charged with something else later.

With five other people, we were charged for public nuisance, for things like marching, shouting loudly, chanting slogans, waving flags, holding placards and blowing whistles – things which people normally do at protests.

But I was also charged with a second crime.

Together with Han Hui Hui, I was also charged for holding an illegal assembly under the Parks and Trees Act.

(Two weeks after I was charged, the judgement was then passed to say that I had defamed the prime minister.)

For both the criminal charges, I will be liable for penalties of up to $6,000.

Lawyer M Ravi is representing Hui Hui and I.

Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam is representing the four others who have also been charged.

Yesterday, the PTC was held at the state court to determine the dates for the hearing for this case.

The state court said that the hearing will tentatively be set in April 2015.

On the charge that Hui Hui and I are facing under the Parks and Trees Act, Ravi will be raising a constitutional question.

By charging us under the Parks and Trees Act, this is in violation of the use of the Speakers’ Corner which is exempted from the Public Order Act and the Public Entertainment Licence.

According to the Terms and Conditions for the use of the Speakers’ Corner, only the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation has the right to cancel any approval or disallow any event or activity at the Speakers’ Corner.

This was not done. Our event could proceed. As such, we cannot be charged under the Parks and Trees Act.

Ravi will be asking the state court to refer the determination of the constitutional question to be made in the High Court on the grounds that there is a constitutional breach made by the government.

I understand from my lawyer that there is a new provision for a leapfrog appeal to jump from state court to the Court of Appeal , where we could ask for 5 judges to interpret the constitutional question and look into the constitutional breach. We will explore this option.

The government has made a constitutional breach against our constitutional rights.

Apparently the person who made the police report against us was not even from YMCA. The police report was made by a third party.

A man was waiting for his girlfriend at the bus stop next to the Hong Lim Park on the day of the event on 27 September 2014. He felt affected and called the police at about 4.30pm to make a report against us.

The report was made as the #ReturnOurCPF event was progressing. However, even though the event was held from about 4pm to 6pm but throughout that time, even after the police report was made, no police came.

Because the plain clothes policemen were already there since before 3pm.

But no arrests were made even after the police report were made. The police were only standing around and filming us.

It was only 2 weeks later that the police started calling up a few of the protestors and only a month later that the six of us were charged.

For the witnesses, we have instructed Mr M. Ravi to subpoena Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck to be a witness. Mr Teo was the guest-of-honour at the YMCA event.

According to Ravi, the star witness for the government and prosecution is Ariffin Sha.

Ariffin will give evidence for the government, and against the 6 of us who were charged.

According to what Ariffin told the police, he said that he had told us to stop marching after the first round of march. He also claimed that I had apologised because he told me to do so.

Ariffin came into prominence suddenly last year.

I have now become more wary of the people around me and who I put my trust in.

After being betrayed and having found a traitor among our midst, I am more careful now.

It is disappointing and hurtful but where I have been constantly bombarded and prosecuted over the last half a year, this is perhaps expected.

The hearing for the criminal case will tentatively be held in April. The hearing for the defamation suit will tentatively be held in June.

This coming Friday, on 23 January at 10am, for the defamation suit, I have also filed an application to set aside the summary judgment. Mr Lee Hsien Loong has sued me for defamation but he is “not entitled as the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC” to do so. He has been using government resources “in his capacity as the Prime Minister” for the suit.

But he has breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct as he is a public servant and he should not be using public resources for his “personal” suit.

The pre-trial conference will be held on 23 January at 10am at the high court.

Lee Hsien Loong is Not Entitled to Sue Me as Prime Minister of Singapore and GIC Chairman

Lee Hsien Loong Roy Ngerng

(1) I have made an application to set aside the summary judgment for my defamation case. Mr Lee Hsien Loong has sued me for defamation but he is “not entitled as the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC” to do so. He has been using government resources “in his capacity as the Prime Minister” for the suit.

(2) In addition, the prime minister’s secretary has also acted willfully and defiantly for the prime minister and sent out press statements on his behalf even though she knows that she is not allowed to do so in her position as a public servant. The prime minister’s secretary is supposed to hold an esteemed position in the public service and her abuse of her position to is appalling.

I understand that my lawyer, M Ravi, will be filing a notice on whether she is in breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

(3) Also, a declaration will also be sought from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on whether he has also breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct as he is a public servant but he has been using public resources for his “personal suit”.

(4) If the public service commission does not to anything about this, we will file an application to the President of Singapore as he has vested powers as an elected president, given that the prime minister is primus inter-pares, or the first among equals.

Over the past few days, the prime minister’s secretary has continuously misrepresented what my lawyer and I had said at the pre-trial conference (to decide on the dates for the hearing on the damages to pay the prime minister).

However, throughout this period, the prime minister has kept entirely silent and in fact, throughout the whole case.

A pre-trial conference has been fixed on 23 January 2015 at 10am for this application. I appeal to all Singaporeans to turn up at the High Court. We cannot allow the bullying from the prime minister and government to persist. The oppression against ordinary Singaporeans and opposition politicians can no longer be taken sitting down.

We cannot allow the abuse of power to continue unchecked. Such abhorrent behaviour by the prime minister and the government has to stop.

The Prime Minister’s Secretary can Sue Me for Saying She Lied about Me or Apologise Immediately

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After the pre-trial conference (PTC) for the defamation suit on Monday, the prime minister’s secretary lied about what my lawyer and I said. Yesterday, she released another statement to continue to distort the truth to put words into my mouth.

On Monday, a PTC was held to decide on the dates for the hearing on how much in damages I would need to pay the prime minister. The prime minister has filed for the defamation suit in the high court which oversees cases of more than $250,000, which means that I would be looking at losing at least this amount. The hearing dates have not been set.

On Monday, after the PTC, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary Chang Li Lin sent out a press statement and said, “Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined.”

She lied. This is not true.

I have never uttered the words, “I do not want to be cross-examined.” I have also never said this in any other reiterations.

Yesterday, when the prime minister’s secretary was exposed to have lied, she did not apologise but continued to try to distort the truth to insist that I did not want to be cross-examined.

However, she changed her statement after being caught lying with her pants down.

This time, she said, “This was the clearest indication that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined.”

From making an assertion that “I do not want” to be cross-examined, Ms Chang now changed her statement to say that “this was the clearest indication”.

It is now revealed all and sundry that the prime minister’s secretary has lied.

She knows that I have never said that I do not want to be cross-examined and she knew that she has lied. And now she is trying to wriggle her way out.

The fact of the matter is that I have always stood ready to be cross-examined.

Ms Chang is the one who is uncertain if the prime minister would do so similarly as well.

On Monday, she was the one who changed her statement from saying that the prime minister was ready to be cross-examined “right from the beginning” to only being “ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court”.

Not only that, yesterday, Ms Chang pointed to “notes” taken from the prime minister’s lawyers to try to justify that I did not want to be cross-examined.

However, in a statement my lawyer released this afternoon, M Ravi also said that nowhere in the “notes” released by Ms Chang did they say, “Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined,” nor did they say anything like it.

The prime minister’s secretary lied.

When I attended the hearing on Monday,  I was advised by the judge to report on the case objectively, otherwise I could be charged with contempt of court.

It is now clear that the prime minister’s secretary has lied and has not reported on court proceedings accurately.

It is clear that Ms Chang has now been found in contempt of court. I believe that it is the due process for the court to charge the prime minister’s secretary for contempt of court.

Next, I would also challenge the prime minister’s secretary to sue me for defamation if what I have said about her lying about what I said is not true. Otherwise, the prime minister’s secretary would do well to carry an apology to me in all state-controlled media platforms, including on print, online, TV and radio.

It is disingenuous of the prime minister’s secretary to lie about what I have said when she knows, and the prime minister’s lawyers know as well, that I have never said that I do not want to be cross-examined.

That the prime minister’s secretary would put words into my mouth shows how insidious and treacherous she is in wanting to use state resources to pull my character, reputation and integrity down.

May I remind Ms Chang that she works for the highest office of the land. It is expected of her to hold herself in an upright manner and with integrity. Where Ms Chang would blatantly lie when she knows the truth not only puts the highest office of the land to shame but it also sets a humiliating example to Singaporeans and the public service as to how a top public servant should conduct and behave.

The prime minister’s secretary’s actions have called into the integrity of the public service.

May I remind her that her direct supervisor, the prime minister, had said yesterday at the ‘”Integrity in Action” Public Service Values Conference’ that, “we trust the Public Service to act with integrity, always in the public interest.”

“So first of all, the leadership must set the tone and continue to set the tone from the top all the way down, and act with integrity,” he had also said.

If the prime minister’s own secretary does not even have the integrity to uphold herself, then I believe our public service is in serious trouble.

The prime minister would do well to discipline his office and set an example by putting his office in order. His secretary’s actions are horrendous and disgraceful and is not befitting of the highest office in the land. I do not believe that we need to continue to see such derisory behaviour be ejaculated from his office.

The prime minister should also set an example by apologising to me on his secretary’s behalf. Don’t worry, I will not send a prepared apology letter like you had sent to me to make me put up on my blog, then have the state-controlled media mischievously mis-quote me on it.

May I also remind the prime minister’s secretary that it was her direct supervisor, the prime minister, who had initially wanted a closed-door trial for the hearing on the damages and that it has always been I who had wanted an open hearing, in the name of public interest.

May I also remind the prime minister’s secretary that it was also her direct supervisor, the prime minister, who had wanted me to submit the questions for cross-examination so that they would be able to know what my lawyers would want to ask in the actual trial beforehand.

Ms Chang, before you point your finger at someone else, please look at the number of fingers that are pointing back at you.

If the prime minister is to expect the public service and Singaporeans to carry themselves with integrity, it might be more appropriate and convincing if the prime minister gets his own house in order.

As if it is not bad enough that I am faced with the stress and pressure of having a legal suit sent directly by the prime minister and have the whole of the state machinery train its resources to prosecute and attack me, I do not need another barefaced lie from the prime minister’s secretary, no less.

The Singapore Prime Minister’s Press Secretary and State-Controlled Media Lied about What My Lawyer and I Said

Lee Hsien Loong Roy Ngerng 3

The prime minister’s press secretary Chang Li Lin and state-controlled media lied about what my lawyer and I said at the pre-trial conference today.

I went to court today. The prime minister wanted the judge to ask me to pay for his legal fees for his lawyers. At the hearing in the morning, the judge asked me to pay $20,000 and an additional $9,000 in filing fees.

This is different from the actual damages that I would have to pay the prime minister himself. The prime minister has applied to ask me to pay at least $250,000 to him.

Today, the pre-trial conference was also held to decide on when the dates for the hearing on the damages will be.

However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary Chang Li Lin lied about what my lawyer and I said.

The state-controlled media also lied by carrying her statement.

“Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined,” Ms Chang said.

“The judge directed his lawyer to confirm whether he would be giving evidence by 30 January 2015.

“PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court,” state-controlled media also reported.

However, this is not true.

Ms Chang and the state-controlled media lied.

I have never said that I do not want to be cross-examined.

In fact, I have told my lawyer that I am ready to be cross-examined and to also cross-examine the prime minister.

Not only that, Ms Chang also changed her initial statement.

In her initial statement, she said, “PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has maintained right from the beginning.”

However, she later changed the statement to say, “PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court.”

Why did Ms Chang initially said that the prime minister was ready to be cross-examined “right from the beginning” to “a position he has earlier communicated to the Court”?

So, he did not actually agree to be cross-examined “right from the beginning”?

Moreover, why did Ms Chang and the state-controlled media put words into my mouth?

In fact, I have told the media who attended today’s hearing and pre-trial conference that I am ready to be cross-examined.

The Straits Times, Today and Zaobao were there today. So were freer and more respectable media AFP and The Online Citizen.

The state-controlled media were there today but why did they carry an inaccurate statement by the prime minister’s secretary?

This is not the first time that the state-controlled media has put words into my mouth and attempted to put me in a bad light.

Last year, after my pre-trial conference on 17 July, The Straits Times carried an article and said, “I will continue writing about CPF in the meantime, and (Mr Ravi and I) will fight against summary judgment, to have a full-blown trial.”

However, I have never said the phrased, “full-blown trial”.

Why did the state-controlled media want to paint me in a bad light?

Moreover, why is the prime minister’s press secretary sending out a statement for the prime minister when the prime minister has taken out the defamation suit against me on his personal basis?

Why is he using state resources to speak on his behalf?

Does the prime minister not have his own mouth or his own hand? Must he always get someone else to do his dirty work?

All this time, the prime minister has the bravado to sue me but he has never had the guts to face me directly in court.

And now, he does not even have the balls to speak out on his own and is using state resources to speak up for him instead.

But this is not the first time that the prime minister’s press secretary is doing this.

Last year, when The Economist wrote an article about me, Ms Chang also wrote to rebut The Economist on 19 June.

“You referred to an “alleged ‘serious libel’” by Roy Ngerng,” Ms Chang said, referring to The Economist.

“This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation,” she added.

“This was a grave and deliberate defamation, whether it occurred online or in the traditional media being immaterial.”

Later, on 17 July, she also said, “Mr Roy Ngerng has admitted that he has falsely defamed PM.”

Not only that, the government has also constantly used state resources to speak up for the prime minister.

Also, when well-known local critic Catherine Lim spoke up for me, Consul-General of Singapore in Hong Kong Jacky Foo rebutted her and said, “Mr Lee acted because the Government prizes integrity as the ultimate source of the trust it enjoys. A leader who does nothing when he is accused of criminally misappropriating monies from the state pension system must engender mistrust in his honesty and leadership.”

When I was sacked from my job at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the Ministry of Health also said, “MOH supports TTSH’s decision as Mr Ngerng’s actions show a lack of integrity and are incompatible with the values and standards of behaviour expected of hospital employees.”

However, when the government was called out for using state resources to speak up for the prime minister, the Prime Minister’s Office said,” When aspersions are cast on the integrity of the Prime Minister and his Government’s policies, an official reply from the PM’s press secretary is completely in order. This is no different from what press secretaries in most other Governments do.

“Likewise, when a foreign newspaper carries an article with misrepresentations about Singapore, it is important that our diplomatic representative defend Singapore’s interests by correcting misrepresentations and providing a balanced view. Our Consul-General in Hong Kong did just that when he responded to the South China Morning Post article.”

However, when the prime minister’s press secretary would now carry a statement solely on the defamation hearing today, is his press secretary replying because of the “integrity of the Prime Minister and his Government’s policies”?

Evidently, this is not.

Second, is the press secretary “defend(ing) Singapore’s interests by correcting misrepresentations and providing a balanced view”?

Clearly, she did not.

Ms Chang lied. The prime minister’s press secretary lied.

She did not even provide a” balanced”  view.

The state-controlled media also did not provide a “balanced” view.

The state-controlled media lied.

In addition, when I submitted my affidavit last year for the summary judgment, none of the state-controlled media wanted to report my affidavit but they would report on both the prime minister’s affidavit.

When I emailed them to ask to know why, none of them had the guts to respond to me.

I am appalled that the prime minister’s press secretary and state-controlled media would lie just to malign me.

They are also not “balanced” and have misrepresented the truth.

Also, it is very clear now that the prime minister is using state resources for his own personal uses.

The press secretary has released a statement solely on the defamation suit, solely for the prime minister’s personal agenda.

It is disgusting how the government would stoop so low to hurt me.

Judge Ruled that I Have to Pay Prime Minister’s Lawyers $20,000; Hearing on Damages Not Yet Fixed

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Photo credit: Tan Yunyou

Hello everyone,

This morning, I went to court for (1) the hearing on how much the prime minister wants me to pay his lawyers for the summary judgment and (2) for the pre-trial conference – to set the dates for the hearing on how much damages I would need to pay the prime minister for the defamation suit.

(1) Hearing on How Much to Pay Prime Minister’s Lawyers for Summary Judgment 

At the hearing, the the prime minister wanted me to pay to his lawyers $49,027.61, including for filing fees.

However, the usual range of legal fees to pay is usually only between $5,000 and $15,000.

My lawyers had asked for $13,000.

Prime Minister Wants Me to Pay His Lawyers for “Additional” Work and “Indemnity”

The prime minister wants me to pay more than the usual amount because he said that his lawyers had done “additional” work and because of “indemnity”.

His lawyer, Davinder Singh, argued today that their lawyers have done “additional” work because they had to research where the article (that I was sued for) was republished, and needed to prove that people had downloaded and accessed the article, so that they could show the extent of damage that was done.

He also said that I had made the matter “unnecessarily complicated” because he said that I knew I was wrong but I made the prime minister to prove that he is not, so there was also “additional” work that their lawyers had to do.

Ravi also told reporters later that, “the prime minister’s lawyers tried to say that (I) have tried to collaterally damage the prime minister. He is asking for one third (more than the normal scale for the legal fees) to punish me.”

Prime Minister said His Lawyers had to Do “Additional” Work to Apply for Injunction to Stop Me from Talking about CPF

Davinder also said that at the summary judgment last September, they had applied for an injunction to stop me from talking about the CPF. He said that I was not willing to accept the injunction, so their lawyers also had to do “additional” work to prove that I should be given an injunction.

But my lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam, reminded the court that the injunction had said that “the court must bear in mind that the injunction should be carefully worded and sufficiently circumscribed such that it would not overreach and thereby infringe upon the right to freedom of speech or have a chilling effect”.

He also wants to “make it clear that (I) remain free to exercise (my) rights to freedom of speech under Art 14 of the Constitution, save for the repetition of the allegation that has been found to be defamatory in these proceedings”.

As such, I “should be able to make statements of the prime minister and the ruling party (PAP) so long as I do no break any written law”.

Eugene then pointed out that in my subsequent articles, what I have done was to question if it is right that the prime minister sue me in his capacity as the prime minister, as he is not allowed to. Also, I have also kept questioning about the lack of transparency on how Singaporeans’ CPF is being managed, and of the MAS, GIC and Temasek Holdings.

I did not say anything that is defamatory or against the law.

It is my right to do be able to speak freely, as enshrined under the constitution.

Moreover, my lawyer, M Ravi, also explained that the summary judgment in September last year was not a “complicated” hearing. The court arguments were “straightforward”.

“If (Davinder) was doing too much work, it should not be (my) problem,” Ravi said.

Prime Minister Took Issue with My Articles about My Personal Experience to Say I Attacked Him

The prime minister also took issue with some of my other articles.

As mentioned yesterday, there were some articles that I had written which were my heartfelt sharing of my own personal experience but the prime minister said that I was “attacking” him in these articles.

Davinder also referred to an article where I had said that “I am disappointed with the prime minister.”

“We have lived in fear for too long.

“This is not morally right (to sue an ordinary citizen),” I had also said.

But Eugene refuted this and said that I had intended to “pour my heart out” in these articles. I had also talked about how I was made to lose my job, for example. And most importantly, I spoke about the CPF.

The prime minister’s lawyer said that I wanted to “destroy” the prime minister but it was never my intention.

I wanted to talk about the CPF.

Eugene also said that I have always commented on public matters because these are matters of public concern.

Moreover, Ravi said that an indemnity can only be asked when one has been dishonest or runs a frivolous defence.

I have done neither.

Prime Minister Said I Kept “Shifting” My Position

But the prime minister also said that I kept “shifting” the “meaning” of my article and “changed my position”.

However, Eugene explained that my argument has always been consistent, that “there is no transparency in the manner which CPF monies were invested by the Government, MAS, Temasek Holdings and/or GIC” and that, “The legal retention of profits derived from the investing of CPF monies by GIC and Temasek, by the Government is simply not fair to Singaporeans”.

Judge Wanted Me to Pay $20,000 to Prime Minister’s Lawyers

However, Judge Lee Seiu Kin ruled that there is no reason for indemnity. He also said that there is no reason to depart from the scale for legal fees (of between $5,000 to $15,000). However, he said that the costs should be at the higher end of the scale.

As such, I was asked to pay $20,000 to the prime minister’s lawyers, and an additional $9,000 for filing fees.

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Photo credit: Tan Yunyou

(2) Pre-Trial Conference to Set Dates for Hearing on How Much Damages to Pay Prime Minister

Today, the pre-trial conference was also held to decide on the dates for the hearing on how much damages I would need to pay the prime minister for the defamation suit.

Last year, the prime minister had wanted to have a closed-door trial but my lawyers managed to fight for an open trial.

Today, the prime minister then wanted to only have one day of trial.

However, my lawyers asked for 3 days.

Initially, the court said in a letter that it is only available from July to August.

However, Davinder said that he has other trials from July to September and wanted to change the dates for the trial.

He wanted to move it earlier to May.

My lawyer, Ravi, explained that he has hearings in May and would not be able to do so.

The court then suggested holding the hearing between 10 and 16 October.

But Davinder then suggested holding the hearing in two separate parts. However, Ravi rejected as he does not want the prime minister to be able to have time to do his “homework”.

In end, the court then said that it could have some dates available for the end of June and will inform us of the dates again.

The prime minister has filed for the defamation suit in the high court, which oversees cases of more than $250,000, so this is at least what I am expected to lose.

The Singapore Prime Minister Takes Issue with 9 More of My Blog Articles to Pay His Lawyers $50,000

Hello everyone,

As some of you might know, my next hearing for the defamation suit is tomorrow, 12 January 2015 at 10am at Chamber 4D at the Supreme Court.

The hearing tomorrow will be to decide on how much I have to pay to the lawyers of the prime minister for their legal fees. (Note that this is not the hearing to determine how much I would need to pay to the prime minister – the hearing for this has not been set yet.)

The prime minister wants me to pay his lawyers $49,027.61 – for the lawyers’ representation for the summary judgment.

But not only that, the prime minister is also taking issue with another 9 more articles that I have written (one of which includes a video), so as to ask me to pay more costs.

I was previously asked to take down 5 articles and a video in May last year. In total, the prime minister has taken issue with 14 of my articles and 2 videos.

Why does the prime minister want to keep stopping me from talking? Am I such a threat or have what I said truly posed so much threat to him?

Or is it because of what I have said about the CPF?

In the latest round of censorship, the prime has taken issue with 9 more of the articles that I had published on my blog, The Heart Truths, from July to December last year.

(1) The first article was published on 17 July last year, where I published the prime minister’s first affidavit on my blog, in which he said that I have “defamed” him.

(2) On 17 July 2014 as well, I also posted an update on my blog on the first pre-trial conference for the case and the prime minister is taking issue with it as well.

“By May this year, the government deleted all evidence that I’ve traced of how our CPF is invested in the GIC and Temasek Holdings from the government websites. But by June this year, the government suddenly did an about turn and finally admitted the truth – that our CPF is indeed invested in the GIC,” I said.

“Why did they suddenly admit to the truth in June this year?” I had asked.

(3) Then, when I submitted my affidavit and none of the state-controlled media wanted to report about it, I talked about the unfair and biased reporting on my blog on 5 August 2014 but the prime minister did not like it as well.

I stated that “it is inconceivable that GIC does not know whether or not it manages CPF funds (as both the GIC and the government claims) when the (prime minister), the two deputy prime ministers and the ministers for Trade & Industry and Education sit on the board of directors of GIC.

“The Government and the GIC has made numerous changes and flip-flops in their stance, which has been shown to conceal important facts about how the Government and the GIC manages Singaporeans’ CPF. This is disingenuous and remains a threat to the security of how Singaporeans’ CPF are being managed. The Government’s and the GIC’s inconsistencies in their statements pose real risk to the lives of Singaporeans.”

(4) But the prime minister said that what I had said was “irrelevant” and an “abuse of the process of the Court” in his second affidavit which I posted on my blog on 29 August 2014. But he took issue with this.

He further added that I “continued to assiduously court publicity to raise (my) public profile, politicise matters, garner support and sympathy and continue (my) attacks against the (prime minister).”

But has it not always been political, right from my very being sued to being sacked from my job, and then charged with holding protests just so to demand for the transparency and accountability of our CPF?

(5) He then took issue with an article that I had published on 17 September 2014 where I said that I had hoped for a new beginning for Singapore, but he said that I was trying to “garner support and sympathy”.

“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 had said.

“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 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.

“To which then, has the PAP shown empathy?”

Is the prime minister not happy that I had questioned the PAP’s sincerity in taking care of the Singaporeans? I had thought that this was a suit that he is taking on his own personal capacity?

What has what I got to say about the PAP got anything to do with his case?

Or was it intended all along?

(6) He also said that I “did not stop even after the summary judgment hearing” when I made a video and wrote an article that was published on 28 September 2014.

“I issue a challenge to the PAP ministers,” I had said.

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

“If you truly care for Singaporeans, then actually help Singaporeans.”

(7) Yet, he felt that I “did not stop” with another article that I had published on 29 September 2014 as well.

But what does he want me to “stop”?

To stop talking? To stop talking about the CPF?

Did I talk about him in these articles? Why does he want to stop me from talking?

Or is it because I questioned the PAP’s policies?

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

“My question to Singaporeans now is this – what will you do?

“When will Singaporeans decide to stand up and fight for ourselves?

“At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide, whether there is too much at stake now or if there will be too much at stake if we don’t fight now.”

But the prime minister continued to insist that “even after the Judgment was issued, (I) continued (my) unreasonable conduct”.

He also said that my conduct “during the proceedings also compelled” the his lawyers to “expend additional time and labour” – and that is why he wants me to pay $50,000 to them.

And that my “false and baseless allegation constituted a very serious libel on (him), disparaged him and impugned his character, credit and integrity.”

(8) When I wrote an article on 26 November about my worries about how Singapore has become too divided, the prime minister said that I “continued to court publicity to raise (my) public profile, garner support and sympathy, and renew (my attack) against (him)”.

But how was what I had said about the PAP relevant to him, if this suit was taken in his personal capacity?

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

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

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

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

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

Again, is the prime minister not happy that I spoke about the PAP? Then why did he take out a personal defamation suit against me? Why did he not take out the suit as a prime minister instead?

(9) Finally, when I wrote my last article on 1 December 2014 after receiving unverified threats to my family if I continued writing, the prime minister also said that this article was a renewed attack against him.

For goodness sake, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, it was my last article. It was an article of how I reflected on my life and where I had ended after being sued.

In what way does it look like it was an attack on you?

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

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

I do not understand why the prime minister took issue with these articles when most of them do not even mention him. In fact, the articles that he took issue with were the ones where I had questioned the PAP’s integrity and the state-controlled’s media unfair and biased reporting against me.

If anything, it is the government which is being used to launch a coordinated attack against me. How is what I say as an individual an “attack” against him when it was never even my intention to do so?

Has the prime minister Lee Hsien Loong become so consumed with his own power that he believes that he has a right to throw his weight around and dislike my articles at his own whims and fancies, with no rhyme and reason?

Ironically, the prime minister’s lawyer pointed out that I have said before that the prime minister “was seeking to prevent (me) from expressing (my) views on the CPF and to impose an unwarranted and unnecessary restriction upon (my) constitutional right, as a citizen of Singapore, to freedom of speech and expression.”

The judge who oversaw my case also said that “the court must bear in mind that the injunction should be carefully worded and sufficiently circumscribed such that it would not overreach and thereby infringe upon the right to freedom of speech or have a chilling effect”.

He also wants to “make it clear that (I) remain free to exercise (my) rights to freedom of speech under Art 14 of the Constitution, save for the repetition of the allegation that has been found to be defamatory in these proceedings”.

Yet, the prime minister has now taken issue with 9 more of my articles.

He also said that I kept “shifting” the “meaning” of my article.

He quoted me as having said that, “there is no transparency in the manner which CPF monies were invested by the Government, MAS, Temasek Holdings and/or GIC” and that “the Government (through GIC and Temasek Holdings) retains and enriches itself with a large proportion of the investment gains made by GIC and Temasek Holdings when they invest CPF monies”.

But he claimed that this is different from what I said, when I said “that the Government of Singapore enriches itself and its reserves by only returning a portion of the profits made by GIC and Temasek to CPF account holders and retaining the rest of the profits to grow its portfolio of investments into two of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world”, and that, “The legal retention of profits derived from the investing of CPF monies by GIC and Temasek, by the Government is simply not fair to Singaporeans”.

How are they different? Is it not the case that the PAP has taken Singaporeans’ CPF to invest in GIC and Temasek Holdings to profit from Singaporeans and has been unfair to Singaporeans?

Is the PAP government earning from the CPF of Singaporeans or not?

And even so, if the prime minister is indeed suing me in his own personal capacity, then why does he keep alluding to the PAP in his legal documents? Is the prime minister not himself “shifting” and flip-flopping in his stance, when he claims the defamation suit to be a personal one but would drag the PAP in when it is to his own convenience?

Or was it because the PAP knew that as a government body, they cannot sue me so they sued me on the pretext of using a personal suit from the prime minister?

Because I was exposing too much dirt that the PAP was trying very hard to cover up?

Lee Hsien Loong Roy Ngerng

Yet, just 3 days ago, the prime minister said on his Facebook page that he “Was shocked to learn of the brutal attack at the offices of the weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris that has claimed many lives.

“It is yet another reminder of the threat posed by terrorism to all civilised societies, and that it is totally wrong to invoke religion to justify such savagery.”

Mr Lee would know that the attack on Charlie Hebdo has been seen by many as an attack on the freedom of speech.

Then, Mr Lee would also be familiar with this: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Yet, where faced with the very issue of the freedom of speech in his own country, my dear Mr Lee, has he chastised his own actions and call himself “wrong” or has he only “justified” his own actions of suing me.

I cannot hide behind walls of pretense when I speak of you anymore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

Your hypocrisy is deafening and and shameful.

I am sick of your pompous, willful and childish actions to protect your throne when what you should be doing is to get out and help the people, for goodness sake.

Stop being an arrogant brat who is so insecure that you would keep suing other people so that you can keep your “face”.

And stop claiming that you are being attacked when the whole of your government is being used to attack me. If I am not even complaining to you, then why do you keep whining at me?

For once, stop hiding behind your dad’s cloak and start to stand like your own man, will you?

Get out, actually spend money to help the people and stop pretending that if you were to even spend one more cent to help the people, that the whole of Singapore will sink like Atlantis did.

I am honestly sick and tired of your actions. If your government can do nothing better than to spend time suing its critics and covering up, rather than actually take action to help the people, then get out so that we can put in people who are cheaper than you and better than you at their job.

You inherited a system that allowed you to control everything, sure. But I regret that the system was passed into your hands when the very integrity of Singapore’s system is now crumbling in your hands.

All I have done was to seek for the government to redress the issue on the CPF and you didn’t like it.

It was very easy for you and the PAP to fix the issue. Go speak to Singaporeans – real Singaporeans, not just your grassroots activists – speak to them, increase their wages, increase the CPF interest rates, return them the CPF that you took from them to earn and their retirement funds will increase; Singaporeans will be able have a dignified retirement in their own country.

These are very simple things that you can do.

But instead you chose to sue me.

I asked if we could have an open dialogue on the CPF but you ignored me.

Quite honestly, please just stop playing petty politics and then blame me for doing what you do a thousand times worse.

After I write this article, you are most definitely going to take issue with it and you are going to stamp your feet and cry like a baby.

Who cares? I am tired of your overbearing antics, thinking that you can keep throwing your toys out of your pram and hoping that you can get everyone to bow down to you.

It is not my concern what you do anymore. You are the prime minister of the country, for goodness sake.

Your job is to take care of Singaporeans and protect the people.

As many have said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

I worry that my country will go downhill, simply because it has a prime minister and a party in government – the PAP – which continues to live like an ostrich and bury your head in the sand.

I suppose you don’t find the $50,000 that you are asking me to pay your lawyers “derisory”. Even the average Singaporean doesn’t earn this hefty sum in one year.

But I suppose that is all I have left in donations and you might just as well use it up, why don’t you?

And yet, the hearing to decide how much I should pay you hasn’t even yet been set. You have filed the suit in the high court which oversees cases of more than $250,000 – so that’s at least what I am expected to lose.

I do not know what dignity you have or if you know no shame that after having taxpayers pay you for your $2.2 million salary every year (and this is not yet including your other bonuses) that you would still have the audacity to demand hundreds and thousands from an ordinary Singaporean who is asking you to do your job.

Do your freaking job.

Your actions disgust me.

Maybe go to the corner and reflect on your actions.

How Things Have Changed and then, Will Things Change?

Roy Ngerng Primary Six resized

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

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

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

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

I was botak all the way until I was 14.

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

I was beaming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So they walked away with Elvin Ng.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the hair would not sit still!

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

 2014-10-05 16.21.44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Which is why it is surreal.

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

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

But then you start to grow up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the rest, they say, is history.

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

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

Wasn’t that easier than playing politics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And when it was not, you become a threat.

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

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

It is all quite surreal.

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

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

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

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

Still, this has been a really expensive lesson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signing off,

Roy Ngerng

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I live on dreams, but my dreams maketh me.

This is the Singapore You Voted for the Past 50 Years

Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

Cleaner

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

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

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

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

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

Cardboard collector

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

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

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

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

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

Singapore hospital

Photo credit: The Straits Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Singapore ministers earn the highest salaries in the world.

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

PAP

Photo credit: AsiaOne

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

You voted for the PAP hor. I didn’t.

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

And they have.

So today if Singapore has become the state it is …

Well, I did not vote for them.

Turn your back