Thank you for continuing to send in the funds. I am thankful for the support!
I was sued by the Singapore prime minister for an article on this blog and have been asked to pay him S$180,000.
As of 12pm this morning, I have raised S$24,486.11.
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, last Wednesday, a nice lady recognised me on the street and also gave me S$150.
(1) POSB Savings Bank Account 130-23068-7 (Ngerng Yi Ling): S$21,331.70
(2) PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org): S$2,440.41
(3) Customers at my dad’s carrot cake stall: S$210
My dad sells carrot cake at Block 107 in Ang Mo Kio.
A man gave my dad S$100 for the fund raising yesterday. Another man contributed S$92. One man also gave S$10 and a woman gave S$8. Thank you for your continued support. I am very thankful.
Last night, I was also at my dad’s stall to meet some people.
Thank you for coming to meet with me. It was good to speak with you and to discuss recent events.
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.
Photo of dad and I smiling at dad’s stall taken by a man yesterday
So far, 160 people have contributed to the fund raising. I am very thankful for your support. Thank you very much to you!
As of this morning, a total of S$24,486.11 has been raised, of the S$180,000, or about 13.6%.
The contributions range from S$1 to S$1,000. On average, each contribution is about S$150.
I Wished the Government would Create Better Policies to Protect Singaporeans
When I started this blog, I had a simple aim.
“I am a Singaporean who cares about social issues in Singapore. I hope to share my views and analysis of the social situation in Singapore to generate healthy and constructive discussion,” I had written on my ‘About’ page in 2012.
I also said: “My wish is that my fellow Singaporeans will become happier and be able to live their lives with more passion, in a free, just and equal environment – not just one enshrined in our governing principles, but one that is real.”
I was concerned that elderly Singaporeans are still working past retirement, and were working as cleaners, labourers and collecting cardboards with very low incomes. It started a series of questions in my head – why were they not able to save enough to retire? Why was the CPF pension fund inadequate – why were the CPF interest rates so low?
Later, it led to questions such as why wages were so low and why public housing flat prices were so high – the inadequate CPF is also due in part to the depressed wages and over-inflated housing prices.
I began to understand why Singaporeans feel so stressed and unhappy, and why they had turned their anger onto migrant workers. Not only had wages been depressed, Singaporeans were working the longest hours in the world. There is no minimum wage to protect low-wage workers and Singapore has one of the least employment protection legislation among the developed countries – with scant protection for both local and foreign workers – and one of very few countries in the world without minimum wage and unemployment benefits.
It made increasingly more and more Singaporeans feel insecure as they were not able to keep their jobs and started losing their jobs – I met several of them at the protests.
My research pointed me to the schemes created in the 1980s – CPF Minimum Sum, Medisave, MediShield and the explosion of housing prices and university tuition fees by several times over. It was then that I realised that the policies which allowed the current government to enrich its coffers had come at the expense of Singaporeans since the 1980s, via wealth extracted via the above-mentioned schemes with low returns and payouts for Singaporeans, while the government keeps high surpluses for itself – at least this is my analysis.
I was gobsmacked.
It also led me to strongly support the opposition parties, whom have all proposed minimum wage, unemployment benefits, as well as to want to reduce healthcare prices and university fees for Singaporeans, and ensure retirement adequacy. I felt that it was urgent to support the opposition to protect the livelihoods Singaporeans.
At the last election, I spoke with some youths. I was surprised because the youths were very engaged with socio-political issues in Singapore and wanted to be involved further – they were in their teens. It gave me hope that some of our youths are aware of the situation in Singapore and want a better, perhaps different, future for Singapore.
A young lady wrote a letter in a nicely-designed envelope but told me not to share the content inside online. I just want to let you know that I still have the letter. Thank you for it.
I also thanked another young lady for her note and published it on this blog.
What I Have Learnt about Writing on Singapore’s Socio-Political Issues
I would just like to share some lessons that I have learnt, for some of you who might want to express your thoughts about Singapore.
I have always been careful on my blog to ensure that I do not insult any individual, and where individuals are named, I have always taken care to make accurate statements (if it’s referenced, that’s better). But I made one mistake.
So, one lesson that I have learnt is that when it comes to political figures (who are greatly protected in Singapore’s law) where their names or images are used, I would only relate statements to them, or any comparisons, only when I am confident that the facts I have at hand can fully substantiate the claims I make. But this is also good journalism. Also, I would not make comparisons of individuals in areas where the ruling party holds great importance on and where the law then could be used – such as on corruption, race and religion issues. But good sense should also be used in such writings. If I do make statements hence, I would state them directly with referenced research, and scope the discussion around ideas, rather than about individuals.
Some people I know have chosen to omit the use of names but make oblique references instead, such as via statements made by individuals but not naming them.
I think the mistake that I had also made was that I was so eager to express the information I had researched and learned that I sometimes wrote so hurriedly, I did not stop to re-look what I have written or to make them clearer. It also meant that my writings were perceived as more emotionally-charged, and sometimes “angry”. This affected the strength and credibility of the writings.
I am not sure if you see it as an improvement, but in the latest writings, I have tried to be more objective-sounding, and to sound more measured. I have also decided to focus more on discussing policies, and not bring out any individual, unless necessary. But this was my main concern anyway – to advocate for better policies – so in a way, it’s a return to my original purpose.
One mistake I made too was that I was ignorant about Singapore’s history of oppression and political persecution. If you would like to write, do familiarise yourself with the government’s persecution of individuals over the past 50 to 60 years. It is also good to speak to other bloggers and activists, as well as to read the books that have been written by them and those whom have been imprisoned by the government.
Doing so will allow you to understand the unique political situation that Singapore has, so that you will learn how to devise ways to protect your writings and yourself, but still allow you to creatively express yourself.
I have seen some blogs which express ideas much better than I do (obviously!) and which are well-written and focused on ideas (e.g. policies). There is room for such debate in Singapore, and it will allow more ideas to be exchanged. Change might not happen immediately (as I had wished for), but such articulation of ideas will allow more people to learn from them, to think through them, and to do their own research to formulate their own ideas.
So, if you are looking to start your own blog or write about sociopolitical issues, just take note of these and speak to others as well to learn from them, and then you will be on your way to contributing to Singapore’s discussion!
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has been contributing to the fund raising.
As of this morning, a total of $S24,486.11 has been raised. I still have to pay another S$150,000 to the prime minister.
If you would also 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 email@example.com. Thank you.
I will continue to update on the funds raised and used, on the blog, as and when the funds come in.
Meanwhile, I have also attached my LinkedIn profile here, if it might be of interest.
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.
Last Wednesday, I have paid the first tranche of S$30,000 (of the S$180,000) to the prime minister. From April 1, 2016, for the next 5 years, I have to pay $100 every month. Thereafter, from 2021, I have to pay $1,000 every month until I finish paying.
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.