Update on Fund Raising for Defamation Suit to Pay Singapore Prime Minister
Here’s a short update on the defamation funds – S$63.35 was deposited into my account from an AXS machine two days ago. A man also gave my dad S$10 at his stall yesterday. Thank you to the both of you!
My dad sells carrot cake at Block 107 in Ang Mo Kio. Some people had visited my dad’s stall to pass him some contributions. Dad’s stall is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from about 4pm to about 11pm/midnight.
- I was sued by the Singapore prime minister for an article on this blog and have been asked to pay him S$180,000. So far, I have raised S$29,550.71.
- The funds coming in have slowed down. But as long as there are funds coming in, I will update them on the blog.
- For more information on the fund raising and the defamation suit, please see the end of the article below.
I would like to thank everyone for supporting me and contributing to the funds. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you.
I also wrote a post on my Facebook on the solutions for Singapore and thought to share it here.
Solutions for Singapore
Below, I briefly outline the solutions that Singapore can take, with some calculations and estimates.
Note that in 2013, Singapore has a total cash surplus of S$31 billion.
- The Singapore government can provide free healthcare, education and adequate retirement as well as provide unemployment benefits for less than an additional S$6 billion and still have more than S$25 billion in savings – all these are possible with the current revenue and without increasing taxes.
- In 2014, the total health expenditure in Singapore is S$20 billion. Of this, government expenditure accounts for about 35% and Medisave accounts for only about 4%.
- Singapore government’s expenditure on health in 2014: S$7 billion 
- Singaporeans currently pay 8% – 10.5% of wage into Medisave. 
- In 2014, Singaporeans have paid S$71 billion into Medisave  but were only able to withdraw S$852 million  or only 1.2%.
- The Singapore government spends the least on healthcare among the developed countries, as a percentage of GDP. Singaporeans have to pay the most out of our own pockets in the world, purchasing power parity dollar.
- Increase government expenditure to 40%: S$8 billion
- Increase Medisave withdrawals so that Medisave accounts for 60% of total health expenditure – benchmarked with other countries. (In total, government expenditure and Medisave withdrawals will account for 100%.)
- Medisave withdrawals will increase to S$13 billion or only 18% of total Medisave balance, with plenty of surplus left.
- (Future plans: build more hospitals, educate and increase number of healthcare workers – to reduce hospital bed to population ratio and healthcare workers to population ratio – which is currently the highest among the developed countries.)
*There are many permutations to this. For example, Medisave withdrawals can increase to 50% and government expenditure increased to 50%.
(C) Net Effect: Free Healthcare
Additional Government Spending: S$1.4 billion
- Singapore government’s expenditure on education in 2015: S$12 billion
- Singaporeans pay S$1.6 billion in fees to study in ITEs, polytechnics and universities. 
- The Singapore government spends the least on education among the developed countries, as a percentage of GDP. Singaporeans have to pay one of the most expensive university fees in the world, for citizens.
- Increase government expenditure to S$13.6 billion (to cover for the S$1.6 billion in fees.)
- (Future plans: build more universities and increase university enrollment for Singaporeans; educate and increase number of teachers and decrease class sizes – which is currently the highest among the developed countries, and abolish streaming and examinations in earlier years, for greater equality and opportunity.)
(C) Net Effect: Free Education
Additional Government Spending: S$1.6 billion**
**Additional spending can come from other sources e.g. reducing surplus accumulation at educational institutions or reduce government sponsorships for overseas students, which can reduce additional government spending.
- Central Provident Fund (CPF) pension fund interest rate: 2.5% – 4% – which is one of the lowest returns on pension funds in the world. Singaporeans also have one of the least adequate pension funds in the world. (link & link)
- CPF is invested in GIC (and Temasek Holdings) where they earned between 5% and 19.2% last year. Much of the interest earned is not returned to Singaporeans.
- Additional government spending to supplement retirement incomes (only introduced this year): ONLY S$320 million (to provide S$100 to S$250 a month for poorest 20% to 30% of elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above)
- CPF to be managed independently (STOP CPF from being transferred to GIC and Temasek Holdings – they will manage government surplus funds instead, which they currently do anyway.)
- CPF interest rates likely to increase to about 6% or more (global average pension returns last year was 6%).
- Delink CPF from being used to purchase residential apartments; let CPF be used solely for retirement purposes and reduce CPF contribution to about 10% – 15% (this is enough for adequate pension, according to studies). (With higher disposable incomes and increased wages – see (4) below – there will be enough cash on hand to purchase residential apartments, and without the need to pay accrued interest.)
- Increase government supplement retirement incomes to S$500 every month for all elderly Singaporeans as the current average CPF payout is estimated to be only a few hundred dollars and is not adequate for retirement – this will cost S$2.6 billion (This component is a stop-gap measure in the interim and is expected to decrease over the years as wages and the CPF interest rates increase and the CPF is able to provide adequate retirement.)
(C) Net Effect: Adequate retirement for all Singaporeans (All elderly Singaporeans will be able to retire.)
Additional Government Spending: S$2.3 billion
- No minimum wage – Singapore is one of very few countries in the world without one.
- By right, Singaporean cleaners should earn a mandated wage of S$1,000.
- However, there are still about 10% of Singaporeans who earn less than S$1,000.
- Singaporeans earn the lowest wages among countries with a similar cost of living and national wealth. Singaporeans also have the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries.
- Singaporeans would need to earn a minimum of between S$2,000 and S$2,500 to have a most basic standard of living, if there is free healthcare and education, and adequate pension.
- Currently, there are about 30% of Singaporeans who still earn less than S$2,000 and about 40% who earn less than S$2,500. The estimated poverty rate in Singapore is 30%.
- Implement a minimum wage at S$1,500 for a start and gradually increase it to S$2,000 (or S$2,500) over the course of a few years.
- To do so, the government will stop collecting foreign worker levies (In 2011, the government collected S$2.5 billion in revenue from foreign worker levies. At the rate of growth, the revenue could have grown to S$3.5 billion or S$4 billion last year.). If businesses stop paying levies, this can be diverted to increase workers’ wage instead.
- The share of GDP that goes into wages in Singapore is only 43%.  In other developed countries, the wage share is between 54% and 63%.  If the share of wages increase to about 58% of GDP (average wage share of developed countries), this would unlock about S$60 billion of the GDP that can be returned to Singaporeans in wages.
- (Future plans: minimum (living) wage will be adjusted annually/biannually for inflation. Labour unions will be strengthened so that the government reduces its role in setting wages and unions will collectively negotiate for wages sustainably.)
(C) Net Effect: Adequate living wages for Singaporeans to have basic standard of living
(To note, the government already spends S$900 million on the Wage Credit Scheme and S$650 million on the Workfare Income Supplement to supplement the wages of workers, which mean that there is S$1.55 billion in existing funds to tide through the transition into minimum wage. This is in addition to the S$3 or S$4 billion in collects in foreign worker levies.)
(5) Unemployment Benefits
- No unemployment benefits – Singapore is one of very few countries in the world without one.
- Singaporeans who are out of jobs still have to pay for the most expensive healthcare and one of the most expensive education while having one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world.
- Introduce unemployment benefits to 60% of proposed minimum wage for 6 months (for a start) – this will cost S$756 million (There were 81,800 unemployed residents in 2014. The citizen population is about 85% of the resident population, which gives about an estimated 70,000 unemployed Singaporeans. 60% of the proposed minimum wage is S$900. In total, unemployment benefits would total about S$756 million, for a start.)
- (Future plans: unemployment benefits can be extended and pegged to individual incomes after the initial trial period and a study of the effects.)
(C) Net Effect: Unemployed Singaporeans are protected while they look for another job
Additional Government Spending: S$756 million
(6) Ministerial Salaries
- Singapore’s ministers are paid tens and millions of dollars every year – they are paid the highest salaries in the world (link, link & link). The ministers earn a benchmark salary of S$1.1 million a year. 
- The prime minister earns S$2.2 million every year (not yet accounting for other bonuses). 
- The ministers earn the highest salaries in the world but Singaporeans earn the lowest wages among countries with a similar cost of living and national wealth. Singapore also has the highest rich-poor gap and income inequality among the developed countries.
- Cap the prime minister’s salary to 10 times that of median income. Last year, the median income was S$3,000 a month.  This would work out to about S$400,000 a year for the prime minister (inclusive of one month’s bonus).
- In comparison, the United States president earns US$400,000 a year.
- Cap a member of parliament (MP)’s allowance to 5 times that of median income. This would work out to S$195,000 a year (inclusive of one month’s bonus) for MPs, which is about what MPs receive now (S$192,500). 
(C) Net Effect: More reasonable ministerial salaries
There will be government savings.
- Total Additional Government Spending: S$5.8 billion*** (for free healthcare and education, adequate retirement and unemployment benefits)
- In 2013, Singapore has a cash surplus of S$31 billion. (enough surplus in 1 year to pay for the additional spending for 5 years)
- Even after the proposed additional government spending above, there will still be more than S$25 billion left.
- There is no need to increase taxes to increase social spending to protect Singaporeans, as there is currently already enough revenue and cash surplus.
- This is also possible because what Singaporeans pay into CPF and Medisave is already enough to cover for most of the additional spending for retirement and healthcare, and does not require further government spending.
- Even with the proposed additional government spending, Singapore will still have the lowest expenditure on social protection among the developed countries.
- Note that with the proposed spending in the above to provide free healthcare and education, and adequate pension, this would mean that some current expenditure, such as on social assistance and Medifund, will be consolidated – some made redundant – and the expenditure on these reduced, which would mean that there will be more savings. Savings will also come from the reduction of ministerial salaries. (***Taking into account the savings, the total additional government spending might be only another S$3 or S$4 billion.)
- Also, note that it is estimated that tens of billions of dollars are lost in Singapore due to illegal money-laundering activities, which would be enough to pay for this additional spending for several years.
- Note also that as wages increase, so will the revenue in tax collected, which will also boost revenue for these spending.
Note: this exercise is not to say that government expenditure should cover fully for basic necessities, but it is to show that this can be done and that there will still be an extravagant surplus left. The next step is to have a national conversation on what should be done – noting that the money which should be used is currently sitting inside government coffers without helping Singaporeans. What matters is whether there is the political will to do this.
Thank You for Your Support for the Fund Raising
As of this morning, a total of $$29,550.71 has been raised. I still have to pay another S$149,900 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The funds coming in have slowed down. But for transparency, I will continue to update on the funds raised and used, on this blog.
Meanwhile, I have also attached my LinkedIn profile here, if it might be of interest. I was fired after I was sued – the hospital that I worked at and the Ministry of Health, Singapore sent out press releases to support the firing, with the hospital alluding to the defamation suit.
If you have a job opening, scholarship or fellowship, please feel free to contact me on the opportunities. I would be grateful if you do so. I am open to working overseas as well.
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.
Two weeks ago, 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 read the previous updates here: [One] [Two] [Three] [Four] [Five] [Six] [Seven] [Eight] [Nine] [Ten] [Eleven] [Twelve] [Thirteen] [Fourteen] [Fifteen]. I would like to thank Mothership.sg for reporting about the fund raising.
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.