Hello everyone, I have written to YMCA last night to request for an opportunity to meet with the children with down syndrome and their parents, to meet with them and to find out how they are doing. I hope that we can have a chance to heal the wounds.
I have had a further think through of what has happened over the past few days. It has been hectic, I have learnt much and thought to share my thoughts here.
I started writing on this blog more than 2 years ago, in June 2012. What started me thinking was when Lee Hsien Loong had then compared Singapore with the Nordic countries and claimed that Singapore was doing as well as they did, or better, in terms GDP per capita and economic competitiveness. But I wanted to dig deeper to find out the truth for myself. I was not convinced.
And from what I found, I realised that even though for Singapore, the country as a whole is one of the richest in the world, but the wealth is very unequal. In fact, I realised that the inequality in Singapore is the highest among the developed countries and Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages in the world.
That started me on my journey to wanting to find out what exactly is happening in Singapore – why is it that Singaporeans are so rich but Singaporeans are so poor?
I was shocked by how my first article went viral and how it was later picked up by The Online Citizen. I didn’t know it then, but deep down, among many Singaporeans, they already knew that things were not right. The PAP had then kept telling Singaporeans that Singapore was doing well, but deep down, Singaporeans already had a niggling suspicion that the government was not telling us the whole truth.
And when I dug up the statistics which clearly showed how in spite of the economic wealth that the PAP has garnered for itself, Singaporeans weren’t actually receiving the supposed “trickle-down effects” of the wealth that we should be getting.
The statistics convinced the people’s suspicions that the PAP was keeping the wealth for themselves, and preventing the wealth that Singapore should be earning (from Singaporeans’ labour) from reaching us.
I didn’t know then how PAP had prevented it, nor did I knew the PAP was preventing it from happening. Being the naive me then, I had hoped that if I could advocate to the PAP to return to Singaporeans our wealth, Singapore can become a better place.
And so I set up The Heart Truths. A friend helped me come out with the name, actually. I wanted to speak up about the truth and wanted it to come from the heart. And so, he suggested, why not The Heart Truths? And since then, I have been writing on this blog.
In the first few months that I was writing, I continued advocating to the PAP, hoping and believing that they would be reading my blog and would make the relevant changes to improve the lives of Singaporeans. A year after my writing, I was also informed that at least one PAP MP was reading my blog. I felt that perhaps, just perhaps our voices were being heard.
However, the more I read and learnt, I began to slowly realise that the PAP would not change.
As I learnt to analyse the PAP’s policies and to read between the lines, I realise that the PAP has come out with a systematic way of devising policies which would allow them to increase subsidies on one hand, but further increase the revenue they take from Singaporeans, so that whatever subsidies and payouts they give to Singaporeans would not come out from their own coffers but would be extracted from Singaporeans.
And thus they would always be able to gain political mileage and credit by claiming that they are giving back to Singaporeans, while making Singaporeans pay for the increases by ourselves. This shocked me.
But apparently this wasn’t new knowledge. It was new knowledge to me. But many Singaporeans already knew this – many Singaporeans whom have analysed things for themselves and some of them whom have left.
What I knew was already common knowledge to many Singaporeans. I was just one of the few who in my eagerness, wanted to put out what I had found out online.
It was about a year ago that I started speaking at protests. The first protest I spoke at was at the #FreeMyInternet protest to protest against the PAP from introducing regulations to prevent Singaporeans from being able to express our ideas on our blogs. I was concerned. If the PAP could stop me from sharing what I have learnt and found out, how else would I be able to let Singaporeans know what I had discovered? I wouldn’t be able to do so!
PAP would be able to continue to put out their own propaganda to mislead Singaporeans and I could not let that happen! So I spoke up.
And when Gilbert Goh invited me to speak at the third protest for the Singapore Population White Paper, I spoke as well. I decided that every speaking opportunity was an opportunity to allow more people to know.
By the end of last year, Ms Han Hui Hui and I decided that we could organise discussion sessions to create a space for Singaporeans so that we could invite speakers to provide facts and information, which would allow Singaporeans to be able to discuss, analyse and create solutions for ourselves.
Early this year, I embarked on several major discoveries of the Singapore economic and political system. In a 10-part joint article series that I wrote with Mr Leong Sze Hian, we discovered that Singaporeans are actually paying almost the same as what the Nordic citizens are paying in tax and social security/CPF to the government, but we get back considerably much lesser back from PAP and not only so, we have to fork out cash from our own pockets.
The next major macro-perspective article that I wrote was how the PAP had claimed to create policies to aid the growth of the economy, such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit, the Wage Credit Scheme and Foreign Worker Levies, but when you look at the impact of these, not only do they not have the propounded effects of economic recovery, the PAP was once again able to devise these policies in a way which would allow them to enrich their coffers.
In the third article which I had written with Singapore Singaporeans (whose Facebook account has since been closed down after the Internet Brigade (known to be set up by the PAP) launched an attack to get Facebook to close the account down, and many others as well), we exposed the CPF-HDB contraption where we discovered that when Singaporeans buy the HDB flat or a property with the CPF, we would also have to pay a little-known CPF accrued interest where by the time our flat reaches 30 years old, we would actually not only have to pay for the housing loan, we would have to fork out more than twice the price of the HDB flat. I was flabbergasted. The PAP has created a scheme which would allow them to earn several times over from our CPF. The article has since been viewed more than 450,000 times, according to WordPress.
In a fourth article that I wrote, I discovered to my horror that when you trace the PAP’s policies from 1984, a pattern can be seen where the PAP would systematically make Singaporeans double-pay into essential services such as healthcare, transport and education, which they control as well, such that they are able to earn from the double-paying from Singaporeans and systematically create debt for Singaporeans. It was horrendous.
I need to give you this background because I need to let you understand my train of thought.
In the past half a year, I was able to find out the way the PAP was contorting the Singapore economy and how they have been systematically creating policies to earn from Singaporeans and to compromise on our livelihoods!
Last year, my learning convinced me that I had to speak up.
This year, my knowledge aroused my senses. This is not the way a government should treat its people! This is not the way a government should systematically marginalise the lives of the people. It is wrong.
After I wrote these macro-perspective articles, the law suit came.
Later on this year, I also wrote two more revealing and damning articles.
In the first article, I traced how the PAP had started using the CPF of Singaporeans to build the infrastructure of Singapore, but not only that, they continued to siphon off more and more of Singaporeans’ CPF to earn money via housing, healthcare and education, and which allowed them to earn via GIC and Temasek Holdings.
In the second article which I published last week, I summarised how the PAP has taken our money to use, to earn for themselves, and to enrich and benefit themselves.
This year, I finally awoke to the idea that for your own freedoms, you have to fight for it. And thus I embarked on this fight to protest at the Hong Lim Park to #ReturnOurCPF to not only raise further awareness among Singaporeans about what I have discovered but to also demand for a change of government.
I was very worried. If Singapore continues under the PAP, not only will the lives of Singaporeans be at risk, Singapore as a whole will see our country’s future at stake. I couldn’t just sit down and wait. I had to speak up!
Some Singaporeans ask me – why do you stand up and speak when things won’t change? But if that is what we believe, then things will never change. The PAP is relying on Singaporeans feeling disempowered to keep themselves in power. By ensuring that Singaporeans work the longest hours in the world, earn the lowest wages among the highest-income countries and where 30% of Singaporeans have to spend more than what they earn and have to live in poverty, the PAP has been able to create a system that is able to keep Singaporeans feeling so squeezed that Singaporeans would be too fearful of our own lives to fight against the atrocities of the PAP.
But I believe. I believe that if you speak up, if you fight, at least we have a fighting chance and at least we will be able to take our country back from the PAP and start rebuilding our lives and to give our people, our children and our families a chance. At least then, we can start to put Singapore back on the right track so that we can have a chance to create the lives we want.
But do I have to do this? I don’t. When the lawsuit first came, some people told me to close down my blog and to run out of the country.
But I believe in staying true to myself and living to my conscience. I had to do what my heart tells me and I have to do what is right.
Over these past few days, much has happened. It was emotionally surreal. I paused and questioned – what am I doing all these for?
I know what I could see. I know what I have learnt, discovered and confirmed from other people who have studied the system or have the inside knowledge, that Singapore was heading towards a collapse under the PAP’s control. However, some friends were still resistant to what I shared with them – I am too busy with my life, I have a property to upkeep, what about my $10,000 salary, they ask?
It is perhaps sad that the PAP has managed to create a system whereby many of us believe that we have too much to lose – our HDB, our CPF etc, so much so that we are not ready to speak up, not knowing that the very things that we are scared to lose – CPF, HDB etc – is also what they have created to earn from us. We are slaves without knowing it, or without admitting to it.
Thus when the PAP was once again able to use the media to deride my character, I was disappointed. I was disappointed not so much because of what has been done to my character – that doesn’t matter. Our lives and reputation matter only as much as to the ego we attach to them. At the end of the day, it is what we do and our (real) honesty that truly matters.
But I was disappointed – I was disappointed that in spite of our knowing that the PAP would use the mainstream media to so easily discredit and malign those whom they deem as their opponent and political threat that Singaporeans would still so easily lap it up. I was disappointed because for the past 50 years, they have been able to use their propaganda to work the system for their own benefit and social engineer a Singaporean mindset in their favour, and it looks like things have still not changed.
So, I asked myself – what am I doing all these for?
I still don’t have an answer.
At the end of the day, my life, my character and my reputation does not matter. I have long stopped to worry about what people think of me for I know who I am deep within and I hold on to my values and ethics through and through. The PAP can disfigure my personality but they cannot hurt my soul.
It doesn’t matter what people think about me. At the end of the day, my goal has always been clear – one day, we have to stand up and fight for ourselves so that we can fight for our own lives and create the live we want for ourselves.
If I fall, I am only one person, but the rest of Singapore and Singaporeans have to fight. It doesn’t matter if I lose, but it matters that Singaporeans would take up the mantle and stand up for ourselves. Will you?
I just cannot sit back and let things go, without trying. I cannot allow such treachery to our people when the PAP is able to make Singaporeans pay $66 billion into Medisave but only give us back 1.3%. I cannot do it when the PAP makes Singaporeans pay enough in fares to cover the operating expenses for the transport operators while make us pay tax as well – where did the tax go? I just cannot sit back when the PAP would take $400 million of our taxpayers’ money to give to international students to come to Singapore to study, accumulate more than $400 million in surpluses in the public universities, yet make Singaporeans pay $400 million by ourselves to study in the public universities. I simply cannot sit back when the PAP buys our land cheaply but would now make us pay for land for 60% of the flat price, so much so that we have to max out our CPF, and yet while the PAP claim that the HDB is losing $1 billion every year, they have actually earned $74 billion over the past 6 years from land sales.
It doesn’t feel right to not speak up when the PAP takes our CPF to give to GIC to earn 6% but only give us back 3% and it feels even more wrong when whatever the GIC manages could actually all be our CPF and the interest that is not returned. And if so, there is no ethical or moral right for the PAP to keep the interest and our money without returning it!
You see, after all these, I could not sit and not fight. We could not allow the PAP to tell Singaporeans that we cannot protest or we will arrest you or we will sue you. They do so because they knew that if you did protest, if you did fight, their whole structure would unravel. What they have built for themselves, to earn from it, will unravel. And they cannot afford to let you do that.
It is your lives or theirs. And they have chosen. And it is not yours.
My question to Singaporeans now is this – what will you do? I am ready to take a backseat when I am not needed. Who am I anyway? I am nobody. But the lives of everyone in Singapore matters. Every person who would stand up for our own rights mean winning for every person. Every person who stands up would add up to many who will be able to fight for our own lives.
When will Singaporeans decide to stand up and fight for ourselves? At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide, whether there is too much at stake now or if there will be too much at stake if we don’t fight now.
Photo credit: The Straits Times
Two years ago, I set out wanting to write and to let more Singaporeans know what was going on. I hope that I have been able to achieve what I had set out to do. Today, there are nearly 4 million views on my blog. I hope that I have done my part for as well and as far as I can. I have made some mistakes, and there is much I need to learn. I thank everyone for being with me every step of the way and in supporting me on this journey.
I will continue to fight in whatever I can or whatever way matters to the people. Perhaps we might one day understand that change will come not when one or two fight but when all of decide to stand and to what is right for ourselves and for our lives. Change comes not by waiting for the fight of one man to succeed but for the fight of all to make that one success.
I do not care about my reputation or character. That does not matter. But what I care about is that the lives of others are treated right and we get a fair chance at living the lives we want. It’s up to you as well, my friends.
Photos credit: Tan Yunyou