Apology and Undertaking to Lee Hsien Loong

I, Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, republish this apology on my blog, in recognition of having published Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Demand Letter to me, on my blog, which included links to the Article on my blog, links to the Article on my Facebook page and on The Heart Truths’ Facebook page, and links to the other websites as stated in Paragraph 11 of the Demand Letter. I have since removed the above-mentioned portions from the article where the Demand Letter can be found and have republished this apology on my blog again. As I had explained in court, I did not realise that there were links inside the Demand Letter which would lead to the Article, and the related links and republication. (The Article was published online from 15 May 2014 to 21 May 2014. The Demand Letter was published from 19 May 2014 henceforth.) It was never my intention to defame the Singapore Prime Minister and I hope that by voluntarily republishing this apology on my blog, that I can show my sincerity to the Singapore Prime Minister. Thank you. 

1.On or around 15 May 2014, I, Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, published on my blog (at http://thehearttruths.com/), an article entitled“Where your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial” (the “Article”). I also published links to the Article on my Facebook page (at https://www.facebook.com/sexiespider) and on The Heart Truths’ Facebook page (athttps://www.facebook.com/pages/I-want-the-government-and-people-to-work-together-for-Singapores-future/185331834935656).

2.I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

5.I have removed the Article and the links to the Article and undertake not to make any further allegations to the same or similar effect.

Tomorrow, My Hearing with the Singapore Prime Minister Begins for the Defamation Suit

Free Amos Yee Return Our CPF

Hello everyone, I will be busy with my defamation suit for the next 3 days.

I will be at the hearing with the Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, to decide how much I have to pay him.

(The prime minister has filed for the defamation suit in the High Court which oversees cases of more than S$250,000.)

The hearing will be held from 1 to 3 July, from Wednesday to Friday, from 10am everyday at Court 4D. It will be an open trial.

I won’t be able to post as many updates on Amos Yee due to this.

Do keep up with the advocacy.

There will be an event of solidarity for Amos tomorrow in Penang in Malaysia.

Earlier today, the people in Hong Kong held a protest outside the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore, and last Friday, the Taiwanese also did it outside the Singapore Trade office in Taipei.

They have submitted their protest to the official government overseas missions.

We must continue to speak up against the wrongful persecution of Amos Yee.

He has to be released.

And we must continue to speak up so that the citizens of Singapore can be protected.

Today, Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages among the highest-income countries while the ministers earn the highest salaries in the world.

Yet, the Singapore government also spends the least on healthcare, education and social protection on Singaporeans among the developed countries, as a percentage of GDP.

The government also takes the CPF pension funds of Singaporeans to earn in the two government investment firms, GIC and Temasek Holdings.

But where the GIC and Temasek Holdings have become among the 11 richest sovereign wealth funds in the world on the back of Singaporeans’ pension funds, Singaporeans’ own pension funds have instead become one of the least adequate in the world.

So much so that Singaporeans have to pay the most in the world, for out-of-pocket expenditure for healthcare and for university tuition fees and it is estimated that 30% of Singaporeans are living in poverty today.

It is wrong that our elderly Singaporeans are unable to retire today, because they have not been paid enough in wages, and are not given back the returns on their pension funds.

It is wrong that low- and lower middle-income Singaporeans are unable to make ends meet today, because the government refuses to implement a minimum wage to increase their wages and allow them to have enough to use.

It is wrong that our children are unfairly persecuted just for criticising a man whom the government is trying to protect.

It is wrong when our children and ordinary citizens are being persecuted when those close to the ruling party are allowed to go scot-free.

We cannot allow such abuse of power to continue, to threaten the very lives of the citizens.

We cannot allow such unfairness and inequality to persist in our society.

We have to fight back and take a stand.

#FreeAmosYee #ReturnOurCPF

Lee Hsien Loong vs Roy Ngerng Yi Ling Defamation Suit Assessment of Damages

Leong Sze Hian: What are Roy Ngerng’s Questions about the CPF?

CPF GIC Temasek Holdings Transparency and Accountability

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Singapore Blogger Faces ‘Financial Ruin’” (Forbes, Jun 24).

It states that “The blogger now fears the court will deal him a financial punishment from which he may not be able to recover, according to a statement by Committee to Protect Journalists.”

I understand that Roy Ngerng’s court hearing for the assessment of damages on the defamation suit against him (already decided by summary judgement) shall be from 1 to 3 July.

As I have written a few hundred articles, letters published in the newspapers’ forum pages, gave presentations and talks (some of which are on YouTube), etc, in the last decade or so – I thought that it may be interesting and in the public interest, to try to summarise some of the questions on CPF that Roy Ngerng and others have been asking.

  • What is the historical weighted average interest rate per annum of all the different CPF accounts, namely the Ordinary, Special, Medisave and Retirement accounts?
  • What is the GIC’s annualised return from its inception in S$ terms?
  • Is there any other country in the world that keeps so much of the returns from the national pension fund – from the people?
  • Is it true that since 1999, the CPF had the lowest real rate of return amongst all national pension schemes in the world?

If we assume the weighted average CPF interest rate to be 3.5%, and the GIC’s annualised returns from its inception to be 6.5% – it has been calculated that a Singaporean earning $1,000 at age 21 at the current 37% CPF contribution rate, and his salary increasing at 4% per annum – may have lost more than $1 million by age 65, because of the difference in the interest rate. How do Singaporeans feel about this?

Low Thia Kiang Ng Eng Hen GIC CPF

The Finance Minister in a Parliamentary reply in May said that only the GIC managed CPF funds. So, why is that that In 2007, when MP Low Thia Kiang asked, “I would like to seek clarifications from the Minister. Does the GIC use money derived from CPF to invest?” –

Then Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen said, “The answer is no”?

Screenshot (45)

And also why did former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew say in 2001, when he was the chairman of GIC, that “I want to clarify that there is no direct link between the GIC and the CPF.”. The Straits Times carried an article headlined, “GIC does not use CPF funds: SM Lee”?

Then Minister for Labour and Communications Ong Teng Cheong said in 1982 that, “CPF savings form a large portion of Singapore’s savings. These savings are used for capital formation which means the construction of new factories, installation of new plant and equipment, expansion of infrastructure such as roads,’ ports and telecommunications, the building of houses and so on”. Temasek has an annualised return of 16% per annum. Since state companies like SingTel were built with CPF funds and were transferred to Temasek – how can the Finance Minister say that “No. It (Temasek) has never managed CPF funds”?

According to the article “Singapore’s GIC Suffers $41.6 Billion Loss” (The Wall Street Journal, 30 Sep, 2009) – “Government of Singapore Investment Corp. suffered a loss of about 59 billion Singapore dollars (US$41.60 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 31, making it one of the worst years for the sovereign wealth fund since it was started in 1981, people familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

One person said GIC’s portfolio currently stands at around S$265 billion after drops in equity investments and property valuations. GIC, which doesn’t disclose the value of its portfolio or amounts of yearly gains or losses, said in its annual report that its portfolio lost more than 20% in value in the latest fiscal year.”

So, if we add Temasek’s “negative Annual Wealth Added of $68.1 billion in 2009″ to GIC’s estimated loss of $59 billion in 2008/2009 – does it mean that we may have lost about $127 billion?

To put this amount in perspective, does it mean that we may have lost more than double our total Government spending in a year (2008) or about 84 per cent of our total CPF funds then of $151.3 billion in 2008 (CPF Trends, October 2013) in just one year?

Singapore’s total sum of foreign reserves is secret. Some of the reasons given as to why Singapore’s foreign reserves cannot be transparent were:

  • Singapore’s Minister of State for Finance: “You asked how much reserves we have. I’m sorry – I am not able to give you that answer. There are many, many people who are interested in how much we have. It has nothing to do with not wanting Singaporeans to know. It’s only if we go public with you, a lot of other people will know”. (March 15, 2008)
  • Singapore’s finance minister: “People do want to know, there is curiosity, it is a matter of public interest. That is not sufficient reason that there is curiosity and interest that you want to disclose information” ( August 18, 2009).
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Next Week, I will Face the Singapore Prime Minister in Court for the Defamation Suit

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Hello everyone, next week is the hearing for the defamation suit that I am currently facing from the Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The hearing will be held from 1 to 3 July, at 10am everyday, at the Supreme Court, at Court 4D.

The hearing will be an open trial. It is open to the public.

The hearing will be to determine how much I would have to pay the prime minister. The prime minister has filed for the suit in the High Court which oversees cases of more than $250,000, so this is at least how much I might be expected to pay him.

It is with a heavy heart that I go into the trial.

I still believe that there are better ways to allow us to manage this issue.

My intention has never been to defame the prime minister. It has always been to fight for the CPF (Central Provident Fund), the pension funds of Singaporeans.

As such, I am taking this picture to affirm my stand.

#ReturnOurCPF

For the past one year since I got sued, I have written about 100 articles to raise further awareness on how the Singapore government is using the CPF pension funds of Singaporeans to earn and not return it. I have written more than 200 articles on the CPF since I started the blog in 2012.

If you would like to support the fight or to ask the Singapore government to #ReturnOurCPF, you can also take a picture of yourself and send them to me at my Facebook at Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, to The Heart Truths Facebook page or to my email at royngerng@gmail.com.

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When I first started writing about the CPF three years ago, I was concerned about how Singaporeans’ CPF is being used by the government.

There were many rumours that the CPF is invested in the GIC and Temasek Holdings but no one really had the facts to know for sure.

Worse still, over the last decade or so, more and more elderly Singaporeans simply could not save enough inside their CPF and could not meet the CPF Minimum Sum, and could not retire.

The sight of seeing so many elderly Singaporeans work at the hawker centres and toilets as cleaners, and on the roads as cardboard starting becoming a common sight.

How do you help them, really, unless we are able to change the policies to increase their CPF, so as to enable them to be able to retire?

Finally, early this year, the government amended the CPF policy ever so slightly. For elderly Singaporeans, aged 55 and above, they would receive 6% in interest on (only) the first $30,000 of their CPF.

For elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above, they would receive $300 to $750 every 3 months, but this is only for lower-income Singaporeans, and only if they are eligible.

On the surface, it looked like there were finally changes.

But the PAP hasn’t fundamentally reformed the CPF.

For all Singaporeans, the CPF interest rate is still just between 2.5% to 4% – still the lowest in the world among pension funds. Also, the CPF Minimum Sum underwent a name change to the Full Retirement Sum, but it will continue to increase every year, trapping more of Singaporeans’ CPF inside. This year, it was increased to $161,000.

Also, $300 to $750 given out only once every 3 months is actually just only $100 to $250 every month, which is clearly too little to support the needs of the elderly.

In short, the CPF has not fundamentally changed.

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A few days ago, I met a person who volunteers at the PAP’s Meet-the-People’s sessions.

“But if the CPF is not given to the GIC to use, then the GIC would have much lesser assets,” he said.

Yes, but the CPF monies are the people’s retirement funds.

You cannot take the people’s money and not tell them how you use it, I told him. The GIC has no transparent reporting.

Worse still, when Singaporeans are unable to save enough to retire today, it is even more unreasonable to want to continue to take their money to let the GIC and Temasek Holdings earn.

The CPF monies are hard-earned money which belong to Singaporeans and need to be returned to Singaporeans.

“But where will the money for the GIC come from then,” he asked.

Do you know the government has $20 to $30 billion in surplus, or more, that it does not declare to Singaporeans every year? This money can (and actually is) being invested in the GIC and reserves.

In fact, the Reform’s Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam has calculated that the government has accumulated surpluses of a total of more than $300 billion since 1999.

But the government does not report the majority of these surpluses to Singaporeans.

So, it’s not just the CPF. It’s also the tax revenue that the PAP takes from Singaporeans but does not return.

Where has our money gone?

Look, plainly, the CPF is Singaporeans’ retirement savings. You cannot route it somewhere else to earn from it, and not let Singaporeans know where our money is going, or not return it.

The CPF should be invested as it is – with the CPF, whatever returns it earns, whatever is given back to the people (minus the administrative charges). Singaporeans should have the right to decide how the CPF is invested and how it is used, I told him.

The CPF is the people’s money.

The GIC can take whatever tax revenue and surplus to invest and earn. Not the CPF.

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But he said, the government implements the CPF Minimum Sum to ensure that Singaporeans would have enough to retire on.

No, I told him. If you really want to increase people’s retirement funds, you increase the CPF interest rates. Once you do that, everyone will be able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum, every Singaporean would have enough to retire on, and they would be able to withdraw their CPF.

You won’t even need to put in a CPF Minimum Sum.

You increase their wages, then they would be able to set aside more into their CPF, and be able to save enough to retire.

But the government doesn’t want to do that, I told him. Wages have been depressed for the past 10 to 20 years and the CPF interest rates have been depressed to 2.5% and 4% since 1999.

The government keeps increasing the CPF Minimum Sum without increasing wages and the CPF interest rates. How then are Singaporeans expected to be able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum?

They would not be able to, I told him.

If so, it looks like the PAP does not want Singaporeans to meet the CPF Minimum Sum, does it?

If the solution is to increase wages and the CPF interest rates, why would the PAP not do it but increase the CPF Minimum Sum to lock up Singaporeans’ CPF instead?

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But do you know many poor people come to the Meet-the-People’s sessions and they would beg for money, he said.

But do you know why they have to do that, I asked him back.

They are too poor. Do you know that poverty is estimated to be 30% in Singapore? 30% of Singaporeans simply cannot earn enough to even spend on basic necessities.

Do you know that research has shown that when people are forced to live in poverty, their brains shrink as they are forced to spend too much time thinking about how to make ends meet. They are then forced to beg for money because they simply are not allowed to earn enough, to have enough to use.

By not paying people enough, we are crippling them!

The PAP knows this, I told him. The PAP knows that people are not earning enough. The PAP can implement a minimum wage to reduce the poverty rate in Singapore, but why doesn’t it want to do so?

Why does it want Singaporeans to beg them, I asked him.

And do you know that research has also shown that where the poor are given more money, they would invest the money in the education of their children, social mobility will increase, and their children will be able to find better jobs and move up the social ladder?

Research has shown all these, I told him.

You don’t want people to keep begging for money at the Meet-the-People’s sessions, the solution is very simply.

Implement minimum wage.

But you have to pay people what they are worth, he said.

How do you determine how much people are worth, I asked him.

Do you think it is right that the PAP ministers earn millions of dollars but pay cleaners only $1,000 a month?

If the PAP so claims that Singapore is in a precarious situation, then shouldn’t they reduce their own salaries? If they don’t, then why don’t they increase the wages of Singaporeans?

I told him, if the government did not increase costs to such an extent, today, minimum wage could be $1,500 and many Singaporeans would be able to benefit.

But as it is, the PAP tells Singaporeans, you cannot be a First World country without having First World costs.

Why then does Singapore have Third World wages, I asked him.

Also, the PAP keeps increasing rents, and then tell Singaporeans it cannot increase our wages because of rising costs.

But when rents increase, who does the profit go to? Who benefits? – the high-income earners, the PAP among them since their salaries are pegged to the high-income earners, and because those who are affiliated to the PAP also controls the largest companies in Singapore.

But do you think it is fair that the PAP pays themselves millions of dollars but refuse to implement minimum wage for Singaporeans? Do you think it is fair that the PAP would not increase health and education expenditure for Singaporeans, I asked him.

Look, I told him, it is very simply. Implement minimum wage, increase health and education expenditure, increase the CPF interest rates and increase social protection expenditure, and the poor and even middle income will be uplifted, I told him.

The solutions are simple. But why won’t the PAP do it?

As it is, the PAP spends the lowest on healthcare and education among the developed countries.

Meanwhile, the PAP also makes Singaporeans pay more than $70 billion in the Medisave but only lets us use less than 1.5% of it every year.

Where has the rest of the money gone?

And not only that, productivity has been negative for the past 4 years. Do you know why, I asked him.

Wages have been so low, working hours so long, how do you expect productivity to increase? And this is why we are seeing what we are seeing today.

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The man I spoke to has a good heart. He believes in reaching out to others, and that’s why he’s volunteering at the Meet-the-People’s sessions.

But I’ve met others like him who volunteer at these sessions, and some who eventually stop doing so.

A friend who had helped out before felt that the PAP does not really care about helping the poor. They keep giving out NTUC vouchers but this is not what I want to do, he told me. I thought that I could really help the poor and that’s why I volunteered, he said.

But he stopped after a while. He doesn’t find it fulfilling volunteering at these sessions. He went to volunteer somewhere else where he could really do good, he felt.

But of course, I might be generalising here.

Yet, I have met another person who was involved with the PAP, working in one of their committees. She too, stopped after a while.

It’s all about making business connections and networking, she told me. This is why people volunteer with the PAP. You get financial benefits and business opportunities.

I haven’t spoken to everyone but this seems to be the general sense I get.

No one is saying that it is wrong to want to benefit from these business connections.

But the PAP is currently the government. A government’s role is supposed to take care of and protect the people.

If the PAP wants to make money, then get out of government.

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But you cannot say that the government is taking the people’s money, the person told me. The money is just sitting in the GIC, he added.

Of course, I told him. But when Singaporeans cannot retire, do you think it is right that the money still sits in the GIC when people do not have enough to retire on, I asked him.

And we are not talking about a GIC which is doing poorly. The GIC has taken Singaporeans’ CPF to do very well, in fact. It is estimated that the GIC has at least $400 billion (of Singaporeans’ money) in assets and that the government has more than $1 trillion in reserves (again, of Singaporeans’ money).

Where has all the money gone?

Why is it not returned to Singaporeans?

Why is it that the money belong to Singaporeans but we do not know where the money has gone to, or even how much of our money there is?

Moreover, the PAP has also tried to hide the information from Singaporeans, that the GIC uses our CPF, I told him.

And the PAP has been trying to hide for the past 15 to 20 years.

Are you sure, he asked me.

So, I told him, in 2001, Lee Kuan Yew said, “there is no direct link between the GIC and the CPF”.

In 2006, Lee Kuan Yew also said, “there is no connection between GIC’s rate of return and the interest paid on CPF accounts”.

In 2007, the Worker’s Party’s Low Thia Kiang asked, “Does the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) use money derived from the CPF to invest?”

But then-Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen also said, “The answer is no.”

What’s more, do you know that it was only after I was sued last year, that the PAP admitted for the first time that the CPF is invested in the GIC, I told him.

Not only that, before that I managed to trace on several government websites how the PAP took our CPF to invest in government bonds, which they take to invest in the reserves.

But do you know after I wrote about this, the PAP then took down the PDF document where I found this information from, deleted the words, “in reserves”, and then uploaded a new PDF document onto a new link, so that Singaporeans wouldn’t be able to know that the bonds are invested in the reserves?

Also, I managed to trace that the reserves are managed by the GIC, Temasek Holdings and the Monetary Authority of Singapore on the Ministry of Finance’s website.

But do you know the PAP then changed the information so that you would not be able to know who actually manages the reserves?

I showed him the before and after screenshots that I took.

He stared at them for a while.

And then he realised that I wasn’t just rambling.

I had evidence to prove what I was saying.

But how many people would believe me?

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Another friend then asked me, have you tried speaking to the civil servants or academics?

But I told her, how many of them would want to speak to me?

When you have a good job, good pay, and when you are within the system, why would you believe what I say?

Truth is, I told her, the many people who come to our protests – more than 10,000 people came to our 4 #ReturnOurCPF protests last year – and those who think alike are people who have lost their jobs, their homes, or who cannot retire or pay for their healthcare bills. Only then would they finally realise the reality of what things are like in Singapore.

Only when you do not have enough to retire on, and when you have to pay tens of thousands in hospitals bills, and when you have to give up your home and become unemployed and struggling, and when you cannot put food on the table, only then will you finally realise the system cripples you.

Only then will you realise what the PAP has been doing to Singapore, and how the PAP does not care for Singaporeans – and there is an estimated 30% of Singaporeans living in poverty today, and this is increasing.

But if you have not suffered, you won’t know it. You won’t feel it. And even then, when you are rich, Singapore is a wonderland for the rich, you won’t feel the pinch, not like the rest of us do.

And when you are an academic or a civil servant and you have seen what happened to those who have spoken up, would you do the same?

Or if you have a high paying job, would you want to threaten your rice bowl, I asked her?

Even if someone is not aware of all these, when we have learnt to conform in our thinking to think along the lines of how the PAP tries to get us to think or when we have learnt not to challenge them, how many of us can be truly aware of what is really going on?

Truth is, how many people understand the plight of the poorest 30% in Singapore, and the middle income after them – and a middle income class which is shrinking?

This is really why I write and why I try to shed light on the issues.

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I have always been concerned about wages, retirement, healthcare and education, because these are things that a government has a responsibility over its people for. And this is why I write about them.

But I have never intended to defame the prime minister, nor would I want to or will ever do. It’s simply against my principles to do that to anyone. I do not know the prime minister personally, nor do I take anything personally against the prime minister.

But if the prime minister feels distressed and embarrassed because of what I had wrote, I do sincerely apologise. I do not believe in causing hurt to another person, personally.

My intention has always been to speak up for Singaporeans, and to advocate for a government that will protect Singaporeans.

As such, yes, I advocate for a new government. I believe that it is time we remove the PAP from power.

Perhaps some within the PAP may feel threatened by me, by such a call. Or some among them would hold me with disdain.

But my belief is simple. If you have taken care of the people, people would continue to support you. Once you stop taking care of the people, the people will know and they will want you to go.

The PAP has stopped taking care of Singaporeans. Their profit and business-oriented motives only mean that they would want to keep earning more and more from Singaporeans and allowing themselves to get rich.

And this means also taking from Singaporeans’ CPF.

I cannot agree with that. As such, I believe we need to Vote Opposition. We need to vote for a new government. We need to vote for change, and for our future.

The PAP may not like this but it is nothing personal, I can only wish they can understand that. But I understand why they wouldn’t.

For them, power and money is at stake.

But my concern is for Singaporeans. At the end of the day, if things improve for Singaporeans, and for our fellow people, that is all that matters.

I wish I do not have to go to court to settle the matter next week.

But I have been found to have defamed the prime minister by the court. It has never been my intention, and never will be.

But I have to accept the consequences, for also speaking up in Singapore.

I can only wish that in time to come, we can see change. Then hopefully, we will see opportunities for us to make things for the better.

The hearing next week is in open court. It is open to the public.

I hope that things will go well. I would like to thank my lawyer, George Hwang, and his team of interns who have been extremely helpful and supportive of me.

I would like to thank them and am deeply appreciative of the work that they have done for me.

No matter what happens, you only live your life once. You can only answer to yourself.

At the end of the day, I believe that I have to be honest with myself and to be true to myself.

And that’s all that really matters.

May things change for the better.

#ReturnOurCPF

Vote Opposition to Protect Singaporeans. Vote for Your Future.

1 Vote Opposition @ Minimum Wage

Today, the PAP refuses to implement a minimum wage to protect workers in Singapore. In fact, Singapore is one of very few countries in the world which still does not have minimum wage.

As such, wages are so low in Singapore that low-wage workers earn the lowest wages among the highest-income countries even though Singapore has become the most expensive place in the world.

The PAP will not implement minimum wage to protect Singaporeans.

But the opposition will.

The Singapore People’s Party had once said: “As if it is not bad enough to have a nanny state government that grows at all cost, our government refuses to install a minimum wage for low wage workers. Yet, there is in effect a minimum wage for senior civil servants and political leaders – we are referring to the pay benchmarks of our leaders.”

Reform Party added: “Without a minimum wage the real incomes of the bottom 20% of households could continue to decline. In addition the effects of the PAP’s liberal foreign labour policy are being felt only by this group but by all those below the top 20-40% of households.”

Indeed, the Worker’s Party had said: “There will come a day when Singapore will achieve significant productivity growth and skill efficiency to move up the economic value chain. When that day arrives, can our low skill workers catch up and move up the value chain as well? Based on historical data, the wages of these workers may be left stagnant again as I have highlighted in this house before. When that happens, we may have to consider a minimum wage policy.”

SingFirst similarly said: “there must be priority for hiring Singaporeans, a fair wage including a reasonable minimum wage and non-discriminatory employment practices that take into account the CPF contributions of Singaporean workers and the military reservist liabilities of male Singaporeans. When these conditions are in place, Singaporean workers will cease to be losers compared to foreign workers, and will emerge as winners. SingFirst has plans to make this happen and will announce its proposals in due course.”

“A minimum wage policy will make businesses more judicious in employing cheap foreign labour and force them to upgrade the workforce. This has the effect of raising productivity,” said the Singapore Democratic Party.

The Singapore Democratic Party also said: “We must restore some sanity to our system. We need to inculcate a sense of morality. This is why we advocate the introduction of a minimum wage law to prevent such quite immoral exploitation of people like Mr Ramli. We will be campaigning on this policy in the coming general elections.”

Yes, the opposition will implement minimum wage to protect Singaporeans. The opposition wants the livelihoods of Singaporeans to get better.

2 Vote Opposition @ Unemployment Benefits

Today, the PAP refuses to provide unemployment benefits to protect workers in Singapore. In fact, Singapore is one of very few countries in the world which still does not have unemployment benefits.

Today, many Singaporeans have lost their jobs and have great difficulty making ends meet. However, not only does the PAP not want to provide unemployment benefits, it still wants unemployed Singaporeans to pay for their own health, education and retirement needs, so much so that many Singaporeans are made to struggle with their lives.

The PAP will not provide unemployment benefits to protect Singaporeans.

But the opposition will.

The opposition have said that they will provide a comprehensive safety net to protect the lives of Singaporeans, so that we can continue to live with peace of mind.

With unemployment benefits, Singaporeans will not have to worry about not having enough to survive on. Singaporeans will also be able to look for a job, knowing that their basic needs are taken care of.

3 Vote Opposition @ Healthcare

Today, the PAP spends the least on healthcare for Singaporeans, among the developed countries. In fact, Singaporeans have to pay the most out of our own pockets to pay for healthcare in the world, after Switzerland. This is even though Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages among the highest-income countries.

The Worker’s Party has pointed out that, “It is not uncommon to hear accounts of older folks ignoring health problems and delaying visits to the doctor because they fear that medical expenses will be a financial burden to themselves and their families.

“In Singapore, less than one-third of all healthcare costs are paid by the Government. More than 60% of costs are paid by patients out-of-pocket, which includes cash and Medisave. This is much higher than the average of 14% in high income countries, according to data from the World Health Organization.

“Is it any wonder then, that Singaporeans are feeling the strain of healthcare costs? High out-of-pocket spending can create barriers to healthcare access and use, because people who have difficulties paying medical bills may delay or forgo treatment even though they need it.”

The Singapore People’s Party also asked: “Therefore, with healthcare costs at such a high rate of increase beyond the interest rate offered by CPF on medisave. Would the younger generation of Singapore today face a much dire situation compared to their parents?”

“The Singapore People’s Party places a very high premium on the health of all Singaporeans for all illness,” it added.

The Singapore People’s Party added: “Perhaps it should be time for the government to take real responsibility over medical cost issues and not simply stop the bucket at the citizen level.

“Also, the provision of affordable health care facilities must be accepted as a social responsibility by the government and I believe promoting healthier lifestyles is more important than the best insurance schemes.”

Similarly, the Worker’s Party also said: “It is a fundamental responsibility of the Government to ensure that all our citizens have access to high quality healthcare based on their medical needs, and regardless of their income.

“The Government must be prepared to shoulder a much larger proportion of healthcare costs than it currently does. We need to shift away from seeing healthcare as primarily an individual responsibility, and emphasise more government intervention, risk sharing and fairness in financing.

This is why the Reform Party has said that it will implement universal health insurance and SingFirst has also said that it will implement a heavily subsidised universal and comprehensive healthcare insurance, by having huge increase in healthcare subsidies and to build more hospitals.

In fact, the Singapore Democratic Party has also said in its National Healthcare Plan that it only wants Singaporeans to pay a cap of $2,000 every year for hospital bills. Today, some Singaporeans have to pay more than $10,000 for their hospital bills because there is no cap on how much they have to pay.

The PAP does not want to increase government expenditure on healthcare to protect Singaporeans.

But the opposition will.

The opposition will increase government expenditure on healthcare so that Singaporeans do not have to pay so much out of our pockets for healthcare and be able to seek out healthcare when we need to, because we can know that we will be taken care of by the government.

The opposition will also return the CPF and tax that Singaporeans pay and give it back to us by subsidising the healthcare costs.

4 Vote Opposition @ Education

Today, the PAP spends the least on education, as a percentage of GDP, among the developed countries.

In fact, the PAP makes Singaporeans pay for one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive university tuition fees in the world, and possibly the most expensive childcare fees in the world.

This is even though the PAP makes Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages among the developed countries. Not only do Singaporeans thus have the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries, many Singaporeans are laden with heavy debt, to send their children to school. The resources are also unevenly distributed between the schools.

Lee Hsien Loong also said that “every school is a good school” but a school’s vice-principal chided him and said that this would only be true if the top public servants would send their children to neighbourhood schools as well.

The PAP has more than enough surpluses to provide free education for Singaporeans but it refuses to do so and would instead spend $400 million to pay for foreign students to study in Singapore but would make Singaporeans pay the same amount to pay by ourselves.

However, the opposition parties have said that they will take care of Singaporeans’ education.

Reform Party’s manifesto said that it would provide “universal free and compulsory education”.

“Reform Party proposes to allocate an additional $2 billion to education spending to help pupils from low-income families, increase teaching hours, abolish fees for education, reduce class sizes and improve teaching standards. We believe that while our overall standard of educational attainment is satisfactory, this masks considerable variations between elite schools and the rest. In addition parents are required to spend considerable amounts on tuition, which should not be necessary.”

A similar call was made by the Singapore People’s Party to make education more affordable.

SingFirst has also announced a safety net which will include “free education (waive all fees from primary school to university – after removing $400 million scholarships/tuition grants to foreign students), child allowances ($300 per month for kids up to 12 years old) and a 90% subsidy on fee of $1,000 per month for childcare centres for ages 3 to 6.”

SingFirst said: “We will help Singaporeans raise strong and happy families by providing firstly, generous allowances to children up to the age of six, secondly, free education from primary school to university, and thirdly, to enable mothers to continue working by building self-contained communities with jobs and services (like childcare centres, polyclinics, hospitals, schools, shops, cinemas) close to homes.”

In the Worker’s Party’s manifesto, it said: “The tuition grant for local undergraduates should be increased to better reflect the value of our citizenship and make tertiary education more affordable.

“The co-payment portion of the university tuition fee by citizens should be capped at 10 per cent of operating expenditure of local universities,” it also said.

Worker’s Party also said: “Any tuition fee increases for tertiary institutions should be subject to scrutiny by an independent watchdog that will ensure that increases are minimal and justifiable. It is imprudent to fix a quantum for permitted tuition fee increases per year.”

The PAP does not want to increase education expenditure to enable Singaporean students to be able to truly afford education.

But the opposition will.

The opposition will not only increase education expenditure but will even make education free. They will also look to provide free childcare and allow Singaporeans to study at our universities for free.

This is a mark of a truly developed nation which will invest in their peoples’ education.

5 Vote Opposition @ Housing

Today, Singaporeans pay for one of the most expensive public and private housing in the world even though Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages among the highest income countries.

On top of that, after Singaporeans sell off their homes bought with CPF funds, they are required to pay back in part or in full the profits from their sales back in the CPF, to pay for the “accrued” interest.

This has infuriated many Singaporeans who are shocked by how they are not allowed to keep the profit from the sale of their homes.

Also, housing prices have escalated, first in the mid-1990s and second in the mid-2000s, so much so that housing in Singapore has become unaffordable for many Singaporeans.

However, the Opposition Parties have said that they would provide cheaper housing for Singaporeans.

Reform Party said in its manifesto that it would aim to provide cheaper and better lower-income housing.

SingFirst also pointed out how “Singapore citizens are faced with expensive housing options” and how they have planned to “strengthen welfare services comprehensively and significantly in housing”.

On how to do so, the Singapore People’s Party has said, “The HDB was set up to provide affordable public housing for Singaporeans. Over time, government has placed Singaporeans in a pressure cooker.

“What is the basis of the increase in price? Have the costs of building an HDB flat increased by 10 times? This is definitely not true.

“We will have to push the government to reveal the real costs of building a HDB flat and to ring-fence public housing as a basic necessity for Singaporean citizens,” the Singapore People’s Party also said.

Mr Chiam See Tong also said: “The situation we are in is caused by the PAP Government’s policy of “asset enhancement”. It has been drummed into Singaporeans that their HDB flat is not only a home, but also an asset that they can cash-out in their old age. It is naturally a hard sell asking Singaporeans to accept anything likely to devalue their ‘retirement plan’. This situation will not be fully resolved until Singapore returns to when a HDB flat is affordable housing, when retirement savings are diversified and liquid, and when Community regains its importance in Singaporeans’ lives.”

Today, of the HDB flat prices that Singaporeans pay, it is estimated that 60% of the money we pay actually goes into land that we do not own.

The Singapore Democratic Party has thus proposed that, “HDB flats will be built on land specially zoned for public housing and not contain a land cost component.

“Prices of public housing will be lower because the cost of an HDB flat will only include the cost of construction and administration.”

Indeed, the Worker’s Party’s Gerald Giam has also said that, “HDB should refocus on its mission to provide affordable housing for Singaporeans, and leave the frills to the private sector.”

Giam also said, “Rather than judge affordability based on the ability to pay off their monthly loan instalments, we should look at other ways of assessing affordability.

“A better way is to benchmark the median flat price divided by the median annual household income of HDB flat owners. This method is known as the Median Multiple. It is recommended by the United Nations and World Bank for evaluating urban markets. The standard of acceptable affordability is that home prices do not exceed three times the annual household income.”

Giam spoke about creating “a new class of the HDB flats” with “prices pegged to three times the relevant median annual household income”.

“This will ensure that prices will remain affordable,” Giam said.

The PAP continues to want to make Singaporeans buy expensive public housing flats, with the intention to profit off these sales.

However, as the opposition parties have pointed out, the HDB housing policy has veered away from what it was intentionally meant for, to provide cheap housing for Singaporeans.

The PAP refuses to provide cheap public housing for Singaporeans.

However, the opposition wants to provide cheaper housing for Singaporeans.

6 Vote Opposition @ Pension Fund

Today, Singaporeans have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world, even though we have to pay the most out of our wages in the world – 37% – into the CPF pension system.

This is because the government only gives Singaporeans interest rates of 2.5% to 4% on our CPF, which is the lowest in the world.

However, the PAP takes our CPF to earn 6% to 16% in GIC and Temasek Holdings, which have now become the top 11 richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

The PAP takes our CPF to earn hundreds of billions but returns the lowest interest rates back to Singaporeans.

Not only that, the PAP also locks up Singaporeans’ CPF by setting a CPF Minimum Sum which prevents Singaporeans from being able to take our CPF out.

Also, when Singaporeans use their CPF to buy their homes or pay for university fees, they have to pay an accrued interest back to the CPF, losing the profit that they earn from their homes.

This has angered many Singaporeans. A BlackBox survey showed that more than half of Singaporeans do not think that the CPF is fair.

The PAP does not want to increase wages or the CPF interest rates to grow the CPF and protect Singaporeans. It also refuses to introduce a public pension system. However, the PAP has kept increasing their own salaries and allow the government investment firms to get rich, at the expense of Singaporeans.

However, the opposition parties have said that they will protect Singaporeans for our retirement.

The Reform Party says in its manifesto that it will introduce an old age pension, alongside the CPF, for Singaporeans.

SingFirst has similarly said that it will provide an old-age pension of at least $300 every month for elderly Singaporeans.

The Singapore People’s Party has also acknowledged that, “Many Singaporeans are also deeply unhappy about the compulsory annuity CPF scheme.

“Raising the CPF minimum sum is not the only way – it makes retirement tougher.”

The Singapore People’s Party thus says: “Singaporeans are asking for a more secured retirement through an enhanced CPF system – one with a higher rate of return and a less restrictive payout structure. We support these requests and we believe that more opposition voices will help to form more relevant policies for Singaporeans.”

The Worker’s Party has also said in its manifesto that, “The government should look at ways to pool the funds together to enable members to enjoy economies of scale when making investments. They can then avoid paying the hefty financial charges incurred should they invest on their own.

“A comprehensive study should be done on the feasibility of a pension fund model to enhance returns on CPF monies.”

The Worker’s Party also believes in setting up a parallel public pension system where “Monies (are) set aside by the government through transfers from budget surpluses into a Longevity Fund. Singaporeans aged 85 and above who are not covered by CPF Life or whose CPF Life payouts are below the prevailing. Public Assistance allowance should be supplemented with a monthly Longevity Allowance drawn from the Fund to make up the difference.”

The Singapore Democratic Party has expressed concern that, “The majority of retirees do not have enough income to retire on because their savings have been depleted through housing loan payment and Medisave deductions.”

As such, the Singapore Democratic Party said that CPF savings should be returned in full after retirement.

The Singapore Democratic Party also said that, “land cost (should be removed) from HDB price to reduce housing loans paid through the CPF.”

It also wants to increase health subsidies and thereby scrap Medisave so that the “$43,500 withheld to members’ CPF accounts” can be returned to Singaporeans.

The PAP continues to want to lock up Singaporeans’ CPF, so that they can take the money to use and earn for themselves.

However, the opposition wants to return the CPF back to Singaporeans. It wants Singaporeans to be able to earn enough inside their CPF to retire on.

The opposition also wants to protect Singaporeans by introducing a public pension scheme alongside the CPF to supplement Singaporeans’ retirement.

The PAP does not want to take care of Singaporeans. But the opposition will.

7 Vote Opposition @ Caring Singapore

Today, Singapore has the highest income inequality among the developed countries and one of the highest income inequalities in the world.

Singapore also has the highest rich-poor gap and poverty rate – estimated to be 30% – among the developed countries.

Research has shown that because Singapore has the highest income inequality among the developed countries, this has also resulted in the lowest levels of trust after Portugal, the highest rate of self-centredness, social mobility in Singapore has also become one of the lowest and Singapore also has the highest prisoner rate, after the United States.

Indeed, the inequality that the PAP has created has created many social problems in Singapore. Not only that, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have also shown that high income inequality have resulted in low economic growth in a country.

The PAP started creating the income inequality in Singapore by reducing subsidies on health in the mid-1980s, and then creating the CPF Minimum Sum, Medisave and MediShield to lock up Singaporeans’ CPF, and by reducing the CPF interest rates. It then increased HDB flat prices and university tuition fees by several times in the 1980s, and then started depressing wages in the mid-1990s, thus creating a lopsided growth in Singapore and exacerbating the inequality in Singapore.

As such, today’s social and economic problems in Singapore are, in large part, due to the policies that the PAP have created since the mid-1980s.

However, today, the PAP refuses to define a poverty line or implement a minimum wage. Also, the PAP refuses to increase health and education expenditure, even though the Singapore government already spends the lowest on these among the developed countries. Moreover, the PAP also refuses to increase social protection expenditure and implement a public pension scheme, even though the Singapore government also spends the lowest on social protection and Singaporeans have one of the least adequate retirement funds on this planet.

However, the PAP would pay themselves and the rich in Singapore the highest salaries in the world, while also letting themselves pay the lowest tax and CPF among the developed countries, and while making Singaporeans pay the highest CPF contribution into our pension fund in the world.

Singapore has become very unequal under the PAP.

The PAP refuses to change the policies to reverse the situation and protect Singaporeans.

However, the Opposition Parties will. The opposition have said that they will increase health and education expenditure, they also said that they will provide cheap housing and implement a public pension scheme, to supplement the CPF.

The opposition have also said that they will implement a minimum wage.

Once the opposition becomes the government and reverses the PAP’s policies, the Singapore society will also become a better place.

Singaporeans will become less self-centred as we have more time to look out for one another, social mobility will increase as more Singaporeans truly get opportunities to advance in life, and social problems will also decrease.

There are ways to make Singapore a better place and our society a happier one. All it takes is political will to enact policies to achieve this.

However, the PAP refuses to do so.

But the opposition will. The opposition parties will reverse the policies by the PAP and introduce new policies to take care of and protect Singaporeans.

Vote Opposition. Vote for your future.

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[Photo Collage] We Call on the Singapore Government to Free Amos Yee

More than 60 Facebook profiles have changed their profile pictures to ask the Singapore government to #FreeAmosYee.

Amos Yee is a 16-year-old boy who made a video to criticise the first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, and was persecuted for it.

Many people in Singapore and around the world do not think that he should be persecuted.

Amos Yee has already been held in prison for nearly 40 days.

However, in contrast, a man who attacked him outside the courtroom was given 3 weeks and another man who threatened to cut off his dick and put it in his mouth was let off with a “stern warning”. Both men who were let off lightly were members or supporters of the ruling party.

Amos Yee vs PAP

However, Amos, who called Lee Kuan Yew a “horrible person” has been found guilty of two crimes which many do not consider he should be charged for, and he has been imprisoned for nearly 40 days while still awaiting his sentencing.

Amos will be sentenced tomorrow.

We call on the Singapore government to release Amos Yee.

Free Amos Yee Collage 1 edited

There are some among us who might disagree with Amos but even so, he should not be persecuted by the state for political reasons.

By now, it should be obvious that Amos does not pose any political threat to the ruling party. He should be let go.

Even if some may believe that he should seek further support, such support should be provided outside the punitive measures of prison or reformative training.

How the state treats Amos is reflective of how our children in Singapore will be treated by the state.

We call on the state to show compassion and empathy for one of our own, and to release Amos Yee.

Free Amos Yee. Protect Our Children.

In addition to the more than 60 Facebook profiles, two petitions (here and here) have also garnered more than 4,000 signatories to ask for the release of Amos Yee.

Below is a video compilation of the Facebook profiles (not all profiles were included, at the time of making the video):

An earlier campaign to demand for the release of Amos Yee also saw more than 100 people from around the world take photos to ask for his release.

More than 50% of Singaporeans will Not Vote PAP at the Next Election