Good morning, everyone. I hope you are having a good start to the weekend.
This is the latest update on the funds raised. I was sued by the Singapore prime minister and have to pay him S$180,000. Thank you for chipping in to help raise funds. I am grateful.
As of 11.30am today, S$21,593.16 has been raised.
The funds were raised from the POSB bank account and PayPal, and also from customers at my dad’s stall who have been kind enough to support. Also, on Wednesday, a nice lady recognised me on the street and also gave me some money.
(1) POSB Savings Bank Account 130-23068-7 (Ngerng Yi Ling): S$19,091
(2) PayPal (email@example.com): S$1,998.16
(3) Customer at my dad’s carrot cake stall: S$54
Photo taken by Yun You
My dad sells carrot cake at Block 107 in Ang Mo Kio.
A customer of my dad’s went up to him and gave him S$46 to support the fund raising. He bought a packet of carrot cake from my dad and told my dad to keep the change. Thank you.
Another young lady who has been active in supporting us at the events last year also asked my dad to keep the change of S$8. I haven’t met you for a while. Thank you for this! My dad told me about your future plans, let’s arrange to meet very soon!
Some people have said that they would like to visit my dad’s stall to eat the carrot cake. Just to let you know, he is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from about 4pm to about 11pm/midnight.
As of this morning, a total of S$21,593.16 has been raised, of the S$180,000, or about 12%.
145 people have contributed to the fund raising.
The contributions range from S$1 to S$1,000. On average, each contribution is about S$150.
I am thankful that there are still many people who continue to support the cause and who have appreciated what I fought for.
As I mentioned in Update Three, I never had the intention to defame the prime minister and I have apologised to him. My intention has always been to speak up on the Central Provident Fund (CPF) pension system and to advocate for greater transparency, so as to allow elderly Singaporeans to be able to retire.
My Wish is for Singaporeans to Have Better Lives
But other than that, I also believe that all Singaporeans can have better lives.
Last year, the government collected an estimated S$168 million from schools and institutions fees in revenue. The ITEs collected S$21.4 million in course and examination fees. The polytechnics collected S$260 million in fees* and the universities collected S$1.3 billion in tuition fees**.
(*Singapore polytechnic: S$59.4 million, Ngee Ann Polytechnic:S$57.8 million, Temasek Polytechnic: S$44.8 million, Nanyang Polytechnic: S$53.9 million, Republic Polytechnic: S$44.3 million; **National University of Singapore: S$416 million, Nanyang Technological University: S$320 million, Singapore Management University: S$430 million, Singapore University of Technology and Design: S$16 million, Singapore Institute of Technology: Unstated, SIM University: S$89 million (2013))
- In total, a total revenue of S$1.7 billion was collected from Singaporeans for school fees in 2015.
- Also, Singaporeans’ private expenditure for healthcare is S$11 billion (2013). (In comparison, the government’s expenditure in the same year is S$5 billion in the same year, or about 30% of total expenditure.)
- Last year, there were 441,500 elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above. If each elderly Singaporean was to receive an additional pension of S$500 every month, this would amount to S$2.6 billion in a year.
Let’s say, if the government is to cover for all the expenses which Singaporeans pay by themselves now, of S$1.7 billion education expenditure, S$11 billion healthcare expenditure and S$2.6 billion retirement expenditure, this would amount to S$15.4 billion.
As I have also said before (and this has also been discussed by several others), Singapore already has existing revenue to cover for this expenditure:
- First, from 2005 to 2010, Singapore has an average surplus of $23.5 billion a year. If the government spends S$15.4 billion to provide for free education, healthcare and retirement for Singaporeans, there will still be a surplus of S$8.1 billion left – easily still the highest surplus in the world. (Based on the S$36.1 billion in surplus in 2012, there would be S$20.7 billion left, or more than half of it left.)
- Second, Singaporeans contributed S$32 billion into our CPF last year. Our CPF is used for healthcare and retirement and can also be used for education. If S$15.4 billion of the CPF which is meant to provide free education, healthcare and retirement is actually used for them, there will still be $16.6 billion left, or more than half of it left.
- On top of that, Singaporeans currently receive 2.5% to 4% on our CPF. Our CPF is invested in the GIC (and Temasek Holdings at times) – two of the government’s investment firms. GIC reported annual returns of more than 5% last year and Temasek Holdings reported 19.2%. The global average pension returns is 6%. This means that there is room for the government to increase the CPF interest rate to 6% as well. If so, this would grow our CPF by 2 to 3 times, which would not only provide free healthcare, education and retirement for all elderly Singaporeans and protect all Singaporeans, but also allow Singaporeans to have more to save.
So, there is no need to increase personal income tax at all and Singaporeans will be able to have free healthcare, education and retirement, today.
What this means is that whatever you are paying into CPF and into land costs – via housing – is enough to give you free education, healthcare and retirement several times over – which means Singaporeans are currently paying more than what is necessary.
In short, there is a lot of – too much – money. The existing surplus/contributions that Singapore has in one year can provide free education, healthcare and retirement for another 4 to 8 years, or more, at the current spending.
Thus there are currently several existing channels of funds which would already be able to provide for free education, healthcare and retirement for Singaporeans, today. Not only that, the government would also be able to provide unemployment benefits for Singaporeans and more financial assistance for the poor, especially important now since more Singaporeans are losing their jobs today – the highest since 2009, and have difficulty finding new employment. (Singapore is also currently one of very few countries in the world without unemployment benefits.) However, where education, healthcare and retirement is free, the proportion of Singaporeans living in poverty – currently estimated to be about 30% – would also greatly reduced and reduce the government’s expenditure on financial assistance as well, and allow the government to save more. This is a win-win.
Also, note that all this current private expenditure for education, healthcare and retirement is currently paid out of Singaporeans’ own pockets. Where this expenditure on these basic services are paid for by government revenue, this would allow Singaporeans to have cash on hand to purchase their flats without relying on the CPF (and without having to pay accrued interest). It would also give Singaporeans higher purchasing power for other uses.
Moreover, there will still be a lot of surplus left that the government can use for other purposes, for investment and the reserves. More cash at hand would also result in higher consumer spending and domestic consumption, and economic growth, which is what Singapore currently needs.
I really hope that the current government would have the compassion and enlightenment to increase spending for Singaporeans and the people who reside in this country, so as to let our people grow together. This is my honest wish.
I Wish that A More Equal Society will Lead to Happier People
This is not to say that the government should simply provide these basic services for free. But in comparison, in many western European countries with a similarly high GDP per capita, education is already provided free for its citizens. Also, where the governments of other developed countries spend 70% to 85% of total health expenditure, there is room for improvement for the Singapore government to grow, which currently only spends 30% – even lower than many developing countries. (Singapore also spends the lowest on education among the developed countries, as a percentage of GDP.) Many developed countries also invest their pension funds to earn higher returns – the average pension return is 6% – and allow their citizens to be able to retire on a high percentage of their pre-retirement income. (On the flip side, Singaporeans currently have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world.)
At the end of the day, this was what I was really concerned about – in the more than 600 articles that I have written. I have also looked at the research and statistics and know that this is possible and beneficial. Perhaps I did not articulate myself clearly, or perhaps I was portrayed in a less than pleasant manner, which meant my writings became less credible.
The other reason is also that the current state of Singapore’s society might not be ready for such policy ideas. 70% of Singaporeans have voted to put the People’s Action Party (PAP) back into government, and I respect the decision. My ideals are perhaps not applicable for others, but this is after careful thought and research. The logical conclusion that I came out with is that higher expenditure to protect citizens in the areas of education and health is a worthwhile investment because this would result in a more committed and innovative workforce which would give back to society and help the economy grow.
This is what I believe in.
But I respect the people’s decisions. They need to take their time to come around to their own understanding of things, and to look at research and statistics to formulate their own ideals – not necessarily aligned to mine or some of us.
But to you who have supported me, and who appreciate my efforts for writing about these for the last 4 years, thank you. I am grateful to know that the 4 years I have spent has not been wasted, and that it has at least affirmed our understanding of things. It might or might not have helped more people realise what more could be done in Singapore but we did what we could.
When I once spoke to Dr Chee Soon Juan, he told me to believe. He shared with me that history has shown that societies have always become more liberal. He is right, because the collective will of people will always work towards protecting one another. It is a matter of having faith, I suppose. I can only hope that one day, it will come to Singapore.
Thank you to you as well for contributing to the funds to paying for the costs and damages. I am thankful for your help.
As of this morning, a total of $S21,593.16 has been raised, of the S$180,000.
If anyone would like to help to defray the costs and damages, you can also fund raise to the bank account at POSB Savings Bank Account 130-23068-7 (Ngerng Yi Ling) or PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
I will continue to update on the funds raised and used, on the blog, as and when the funds come in.
Background: In 2014, I was sued by the Singapore prime minister for defamation. The judge ruled in a summary judgment that I have defamed him. I have apologised to the prime minister. I was ordered to pay damages of S$150,000 to him. In a settlement reached with the help of my lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, I am to pay an additional S$30,000 in costs. In total, including the previous payment that I have made to the costs of the summary judgment (S$29,000) and application for the Queen’s Counsel (S$6,000), I would have paid/will pay S$215,000.
You can also read the previous update on the funds raised in 2014 and its usage. I would like to thank The Straits Times for reporting about it. There were also inaccurate online reports that the funds were used to pay overseas trips. This is untrue. You can read more about these in the update here.