A few days ago, I wrote about how there is no need for the PAP to raise the service and conservancy charges (S&CC) for their town councils because they are already earning surpluses from Singaporeans.
In fact, the PAP has total accumulated surpluses of $58 million, so why do they want to make Singaporeans pay more when they have millions more?
In fact, the PAP claimed that “surpluses have been in the decline over the years (because of) … continuously rising maintenance and operation costs”. Yet, when you look at their annual reports, the PAP’s surpluses have actually increased – from at least $40 million to $58 million!
Yet, at the same time, when you look at the wages of Singaporeans, have our wages grown that dramatically, if our wages have even grown at all? For many, our real wages have actually dropped!
So, why is it that the PAP wants Singaporeans to pay more, when they are seeing massive increases in surpluses, and while Singaporeans are seeing such paltry increases in our wages? As the government of the day, why is the government wanting to earn from Singaporeans, when they duty is first and foremost to protect Singaporeans and allow our lives to be manageable?
If the PAP wants to earn from us, then they should get out of government and set up their own business to earn – then, Singaporeans can decide if we want to buy from them. Yes, this is another reason for you to remember – you voted for this – you implicitly agreed for them to charge you more to make money off you.
(1) The PAP Took Away $126 Million From Singaporeans
But do you know that this $58 million is only the tip of the iceberg? This isn’t even it!
Leong Sze Hian and Han Hui Hui had written that according to the Town Council Act, when elections come, the town councils are required to transfer 80% of their accumulated surpluses into the Sinking Fund. But if the political party that governs the area changes, all the surpluses – all 100% of it – will need to be transferred to the Sinking Fund.
What this means is that when the Worker’s Party had won the Aljunied GRC and took over the management of the town council, the PAP would have taken out the 100% of the accumulated surpluses out of the system, into the Sinking Fund prior to them taking over – which would mean leaving nothing for the Worker’s Party.
For the other PAP town councils, they would have transferred 80% (and not the full 100%) of their accumulated surpluses into their sinking funds.
Now, mind you, these are accumulated surpluses from what we have paid in S&CC. Did the PAP ask you whether they can take out the money that you have paid? Did they explain to you why they are channelling the money that they have made from you into a Sinking Fund? What do they use the Sinking Fund for anyway? And how much do they use it for you? What do they do with the rest? Did you even agree to this? Well, you implicitly did – you voted for them.
Here comes the revelation – the total accumulated surpluses that the PAP has transferred into the Sinking Fund – a total of $126 million – more than twice what the current declared accumulated surpluses of $58 million that we mentioned just now.
This is your money – a whole $126 million which they had transferred, which would have been yours to pay for the management of your estate.
In total, there would by right be nearly $200 million in accumulated surpluses if there was no transfer – no need to raise the S&CC at all. There is loads more than enough. So, again, why did the PAP make you pay more for your S&CC? As if it’s not bad enough that prices have been increasing and Singapore is now the most expensive place in the world to live in!
(2) PAP Caused Costs To Increase Then Ask Singaporeans To Pay For It
But, you know what the real problem is? The PAP claims that they needed to increase the S&CC because of the “continuously rising maintenance and operation costs”. But who manages the maintenance and operation costs? The PAP.
As I had written before, businesses in Singapore have lamented that the key reason for unmanageable increases in costs is due to rents, and it is the PAP which is causing rents to increase. Do I have sympathy for the increasing “maintenance and operation costs”, when it is the PAP which is increasing it?
So, they increase costs, then ask Singaporeans to pay for what they want to increase? Then, they increase surpluses, yet ask Singaporeans to pay more into S&CC to earn more from us, simply because they want to increase the S&CC. You see the trend here? Whatever they want, they do. Whatever they want to increase, they increase? Why? Because they said you voted for them – you agreed to it. You think your vote doesn’t matter? It’s hurting your pockets – can you see the link? They do not want to increase your wages but they want to make you pay more. Is this enough reason yet that your vote matters and you are wilfully giving it away?
(3) Ex-PAP MP Chairman Of Managing Agent Of Town Councils
In fact, do you know that the town councils are managed by managing agents?
And when I did a search, one of the management agents is a E M Services, where the Chairman is Matthias Yao – Matthias Yao who was a PAP Member of Parliament (MP) from 1991 to 2011, who was Deputy Chairman of NTUC Income from 1999 to 2012 and who is currently a Board Member at the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
A director, Yap Chin Beng, was also previously from the HDB, as the Deputy CEO (Estates and Corporate). Another director, Sng Cheng Keh, was also with HDB as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Building).
Finally, two other directors Choo Chin Teck and Tay Lim Heng are currently with Keppel, as Director (Corporate Services) and Group Company Secretary Keppel Land International and Managing Director (Waste to Energy) Keppel Infrastructure respectively. Tay Lim Heng was also previously Deputy Secretary (Development) at the Ministry of National Development (MND), Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Keppel is owned by Temasek Holdings, which is owned by the Singapore government, and the PAP.
So, as you can see – these are all ka-ki-nang (people who are connected to one another).
Does this remind you of what happened with the Aim and the town councils (again!) saga, where it was found that a number of former PAP MPs were their directors?
It looks like there are quite a number of things brewing beneath the whole structure of the town councils which are only slowly being unravelled.
So Khaw Boon Wan had said that the Ministry of National Development (MND) is studying “what can be done to ensure better protection of public funds entrusted with town councils“. I don’t quite know what that means and I don’t know if I trust the PAP to be able to “ensure better protection”. More likely, this “better protection” is not in your interests.
Already E M Services has with them directors who were ex-MND senior officers. Is there a conflict of interest here?
So, supposedly, the government says that “Town Councils were formed in 1989 to empower local elected representatives and residents to run their own estates.” You believe? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel empowered when they take our money away without letting us know or telling us why?
(4) Khaw’s Own Town Council Sees Huge Surplus!
Also, if the PAP is already earning surpluses and increasing surpluses from 2012 to 2013, why did the PAP increase the S&CC? This isn’t something that the Khaw or the MND needs to change to “ensure better protection”. It’s just a matter of maths – you have surpluses, you have increasing surpluses, so why did you tell people that you have “declining surpluses”? This isn’t anything to do with setting up “better protection”. It has everything to do with telling the truth and letting people know what is really going on, and not hide it.
In fact, in Khaw’s own town council, the accumulated surplus at the Sembawang Town Council increased from $8.2 million in 2012 to $11.4 million in 2013. Yet his town council had the cheek to release the statement that their “surpluses have been in the decline over the years” and they “would not be able to sustain their operations without incurring operating deficits”. What “declining surpluses”? What “operating deficits”?
This is really getting out of hand!
Just yesterday, it was revealed that the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) had ranked Singapore as the most expensive place to live in, in the world and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had said that “this (does not) reflect the cost of living for a local resident“. However, Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU report, had countered that “the basket of goods includes many everyday items as well”, and includes items such as “groceries and everyday staples which include goods like fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, rice, etc”.
This is really getting out of hand. And you are sitting down and keeping quiet? Seriously? Let’s just collectively shrug our shoulders and move on. Really?
This is your life, and your money we are talking about. Are we just going to sit down and do nothing about it, while they rampage and bulldoze us with what they want – making us pay more and cutting us down?
I don’t know if Singaporeans realise how serious this is. It’s a few dollars this time. A few percentages that they want to take from us to put in their CPF and Medisave – yes, it’s theirs, not ours. But all these add up to a lot – nearly $200 million in the town councils, more than $250 billion in your CPF and $1 trillion to be precise in the reserves, to be precise. All your money – poof.
Get it, yet?
This Sunday, we are going to hold an event to get Singaporeans to speak up against the increase in S&CC, and to get Singaporeans to come together to make a stand. The idea is that we will keep doing this until people feel comfortable enough to stand up for our own rights, until we decide that we can come out, without fear, and channel our anger into the right place – to speak up, voice up and to tell the government that we know what we know and they better do something or get out, and not take up space.
It’s now or never, my friends. It’s time to take a stand.
You can find out more about the protest at the Facebook event page here.