Saturday, July 26, 2014

Leadership of Relevance in Internet Era

In ancient times, an Emperor could rule for decades without much disruptions in China and he could still be regarded as the best Emperor in history. But can you imagine if Mr. Lee Kuan Yew continues to rule Singapore by these days? Using his old "knuckle duster" political style to rule in this era which is filled with rapid opening up of information flow and quick public opinion sharing instances due to the advancement of internet and social media?

His son, the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has tried to emulate his style of "knuckle duster" politics by suing a blogger Roy for defamation. For the record, this is the FIRST time a politician in Singapore has sued a blogger and "layman" on the street for defamation. I cannot recall any other instances that other politicians in Singapore, including Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, had sued a non-politician for defamation. In the end, PM Lee gets all the flak and suffered a spectacular backlash when Roy was able to do successful crowd funding through internet to raise more than enough funds for his legal battle. All these cannot be achieved without the social media which is lacking during LKY's time.

Politicians of this era, especially in Singapore, should realize that the revolutionary impact brought upon us by this internet social media advancement is 1000 times much greater than the birth of radio and television in the early 20th century. In the last century, government like ours could well exert full control on these two public communication instruments and deny or restrict local citizens from access to foreign news channel and such, but in this century, PAP could no longer put a restrain on Singaporeans' access to internet and social media without great social, economic and political repercussions. It is the "MONSTER" that will destroy dictatorship.

We have seen great political leaders in last century who had successfully used the relatively new public communication instruments like radio and television to fight war as well as elections. Sir Winston Churchill has successfully used radio broadcast to crystallized the determination of the British people in fighting the World War II against Nazi Hilter. Without such "political talk" via radio, Britain would have fallen as a result of declining morale and determination to hold out as the last outpost in Europe against Nazi domination.

The Americans have been utilizing Television images extensively in their political hustling. The first most successful politician who used Television to win his Presidential Elections is John Kennedy. Reagan has also used TV very successfully in sustaining his reasoning in public discourse of his various warring hard stance as well as Reaganomics.

These are the reasons why PAP is so afraid that opposition politicians may gain access to these public communication channels that it has exerted an iron fist full control over all media, including newspapers, radio and television. Such total control over the media had allowed PAP to do whatever it likes without suffering any serious political backlash. This is the fundamental reasons why "knuckle duster politics" can exert such a blanket FEAR over Singaporeans as well as opposition politicians and activists.

In response, opposition political parties and politicians would naturally become more conservative in their political approach, else they risk become the victims of PAP's unchecked wrath, just like JB Jeyaratnam and Dr Chee Soon Chuan. The FEAR factor was pretty much alive.

The more successful leadership during that period is a leadership of self-preservation. Rightfully so, Mr. Low Thia Khiang and Mr. Chiam See Tong were able to sail through such turbulent era relatively unscarred.

Workers Party in particular, has excelled under the leadership of LTK during the past 14 years. It is just a clear indication and testimony that his style of leadership WAS relevant for the past decade which brings upon success without getting his "ship" sunk by PAP.

However, we must understand that LTK's continued conservatism in his management of Workers Party may not be desirable for WP to carry out the next leap towards "World Class Political Party". 

In this era of Internet New Social Media, any politician or political party that shut itself out of this tidal wave of new public communication channel is just like Winston Churchill turning away from radio broadcasting and John Kennedy discarding TV media altogether.

It seems that for whatever reasons, WP under LTK is more afraid of Internet social media than anyone else. None of its politicians have effectively discussed of any current issues or affairs of the day or week, other than publishing their (approved) parliamentary speeches on their blogs, website or Facebook. Social media like Facebook allows politicians to have instant direct access to engagement with citizens with minimum cost. Politics should be played out with constant engagement with constituents and thus, created the ability to CONNECT to the ground so that the politicians could reflect their views and voices in parliament.

It is very surprising that WP isn't doing all that. WP CEC members and MPs,  under LTK's leadership, have been banned from active internet engagement unless sanctioned and they are also banned from participation from social-political activism like protests at Hong Lim Park, be it against 6.9m Population White Paper or CPF. This is why you don't see them around these protests. These "physical protests" on the ground have amplified impact when the social media is used to put up the speeches and messages derived from such activities. It sometimes make one wonder whether WP is conscious or even care about these issues or not due to its inaction.

The fearful complacency that WP has demonstrated under LTK's leadership may make it irrelevant to the time of internet evolution and revolution. In countries all around the world, in particularly our neighbours like Malaysia and Indonesia, political awakening and change have been accelerated by the wide use of internet social media. Singapore profess to have one of the highest internet usage by its citizens but it seems that opposition parties like WP isn't making use of these channels effectively to create the desirable change we are looking for. The only consolation is that there are other non-partisan activists who have taken up the role in creating waves of public opinion and providing strong public discourse against PAP's flawed policies.

But I feel that in order for the leading opposition party like WP, it will need to reinvent itself so that it could capitalize on the tidal waves that internet social media is creating.  Perhaps there could be a change of leadership in WP during tomorrow's WP Ordinary Party Congress. WP cadres may need to seriously think about what kinds of leadership they need in order for them to ride on the waves of Internet Social Media effectively.

As for the other opposition parties, it seems that only SDP has a relatively more effective presence in internet. Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaratnam has been very active as well, both in online and offline activism. NSP will have to seriously revamp itself in terms of active internet engagement. Depending on Nicole Seah alone isn't going to be effective.

In contrast, PAP has been actively trying to figure out what is the best way to utilize this new internet social media to their advantages. Even their ministers and MPs are trying hard to use these social media to enhance their communication capabilities, amidst some clumsiness at first sight. I believe with accumulated experiences, they might be able to utilize these internet social media tools in an extremely effective manner. But I guess they will need to remove their leaders who are really out of tune and out of sync of this new internet era, particularly their Secretary General who has created a big backlash by suing a layman.

The Internet Era has proven to be a game changer in political contests. It has more or less leveled the fighting field, rendering the traditional control of mass media channels of those incumbents irrelevant. Although internet has provided a CHEAP way for political players to access to a potent channel of mass communication, but it also demanded a more interactive means of engagement instead of the traditional Top-Down information feeding approach.

All the advantages of such cheap mass communication channel have been explored by many people all over the world but it is quite disheartening to see that the leadership of the major opposition party isn't catching up with time. Such inert and conservative management mindset may eventually result in the missing the greatest opportunity in our time to effect the great changes we yearn for.

Democracy is based on a few things and principles, of which free flow of ideas and information are the important features that would result in an open, transparent and intellectual discussion of ideas and policies. We just need the right leadership in this internet era who are open to more active engagement and utilization of the mass media communication opportunities provided by internet social media.

Goh Meng Seng








Friday, July 25, 2014

Nonsensical Reply from Tharman II



The first OBVIOUS NONSENSICAL CONTRADICTION put up by Tharman in his effort to disassociate CPF from Temasek is that prior to 1992 CPF was used for investment in Infrastructure and Temasek was set up by putting together a few companies set up by PAP government without injection of CPF money.

 First of all, assets in these companies Didnt just pop up from nowhere. Secondly, most of these companies are companies with massive infrastructure built into them! Eg Singtel with communication infrastructure, Singapore Power, PSA with massive port infrastructure ...etc. Thus Tharman just contradicts himself in such spectacular way because he has just said CPF was used to invest in these infrastructure!

So make no mistake about it. The very existence of Temasek Holdings depended on our CPF monies invested in these infrastructure in the early days. Without our citizens CPF there can be no Temasek Holdings.

It is just counter-intuitive for Tharman to suggest that all our CPF was SPENT instead of INVESTED somewhere because it would mean PAP was very irresponsible because how would PAP government REPAY our CPF monies if it did not invest in something that generated return?

The second contradiction comes obvious on his explanation of "how CPF money is being invested". In this part, there are DOUBLE CONTRADICTIONS. In his first part, he tried to give the impression that CPF has nothing to do with Temasek because it was used by PAP government to use in infrastructure construction. The truth is, although the PAP government is allowed to use CPF for building up of infrastructure, it doesn't necessary mean that ALL CPF has been used for that purpose. This is especially so when there were budget surpluses over those years. It would mean that some of our CPF had to be managed and invested somewhere else via MAS!

Thus, Tharman said that prior to the formation of GIC (1981), MAS was the one which managed the CPF as part of the National Reserves. MAS was formed in 1971 while Temasek Holdings was incorporated in 1974. Prior to the formation of MAS, all those GLCs set up prior to the formation of Temasek Holdings, were directly managed by MAS! Thus we can only conclude that part, if not all, of the CPF were used to create these GLCs which subsequently transferred to Temasek Holdings.

Furthermore, it is not entirely accurate to say that Temasek Holdings only manages funds that were invested in these initial number of GLCs. Throughout the decades, Temasek Holdings have received additional injections of funds periodically, with the recent injection of $5 billions only a few years ago! Where do these monies come from? The National Reserves which includes our CPF monies transferred via the issuance of government bonds!

The Third nonsensical contradiction of Tharman lies in the explanation of GIC. Tharman claims that GIC was formed because they wanted to invest CPF into "longer term" assets. Pray tell, Temasek's investment isn't "long term" in any sense?

The formation of GIC is for solving a few STRATEGIC problems. Temasek back then mainly managed the GLCs which were basically local entities. It is deemed inadequate for our reserves to be invested only in Singapore companies and a "foreign investment" arm has to be catered for. Furthermore, in the event of any invasion like what happened to Kuwait which was invaded by Iraq, money invested in Singapore would be trapped and rendered "captured" by enemy forces while money invested overseas could be used to pay foreign powers like USA to help us to fight back and regain our land in Singapore. This was what happened Kuwait whereby it was said to pay USA over US$300 Billions for Desert Storm Operations.

The most absurd contradictory assertion made by Tharman is that GIC is formed so to invest CPF along with other Government reserves for longer terms but when explaining whether CPF is managed by GIC, he did a spectacular UP turn and say that GIC did not manage CPF but Government reserves or assets which just happened to include CPF!

Tharman is trying to obfuscate the issue here. We just want to know whether CPF is invested in Temasek, GIC or both. Why would PAP government refuse to acknowledge any of these? The reason, my fellow Singaporeans, is that they DO NOT WANT YOU TO THINK THAT YOUR MONEY HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH GIC or Temasek so that YOU WILL NOT THINK ABOUT the OBSCENE amount of money they have earned by utilizing your money to invest in these two entities, while giving you pittance return of 2.5% or 4%!

They cannot continue to claim how superb their brains are in making good investment returns from Temasek and GIC without making you angry that you are not benefiting from all these even though your CPF are involved in these investment. That's the crux of the matter!

Tharman's reply on whether GIC knows they are managing CPF money has in fact CHANGED from GIC's initial stance that "it does not know" whether they are managing CPF money. This is after we have exposed the fact that Tharman himself, along with the Prime Minister, are sitting on the Board of GIC! If they don't know, who know? Now he has changed tune, just saying that GIC will "disregard" whether CPF was in fact within the government funds it is managing! This flipping of prata is really great!

He further claims that GIC should not view itself as investing CPF money only else it would have very different investment strategy which will not enable it to pay CPF members the current amount of return! For goodness sake, at current situation, CPF members DIDN'T benefit from higher return which GIC has achieved and thus, what difference does it make for us? It just means that by disregarding the fact that CPF is part of these government fund, GIC is taking MORE RISK than it should at the expense of CPF members? i.e. taking more risk, earning higher returns but not giving them to CPF members? What is Tharman trying to say here?

Furthermore, is Tharman trying to say that GIC is actually such a lousy investment vehicle as compared to other funds in the world that it could only garner an average of 5% return over the 10 or 20 years even when it is taking more risk than it should, assuming it is investing only CPF funds?

The truth is, GIC can and should invest in different portfolios of differential risks. It could take into account of CPF funds is within the assets entrusted to it and invested accordingly to the desire risk portfolio adhered to it. It could have allowed CPF members to invest directly into GIC with directed differential risk portfolios. And this is WHAT PROFESSIONAL fund managers would do! The more I listen to Tharman's nonsensical reply, the more I get worried!

As I have illustrated in my previous post on CPF, if you put coffee powder into the water along with the milk (budget surpluses) and sugar (land sales) to make coffee, you just cannot claim that there is no coffee powder in the coffee you made. Any coffee (or funds) given (or injected) into Temasek or GIC via this coffee mixer (Government Reserves) must contain a certain percentage of coffee powder in it! Thus Tharman's claim that Temasek doesn't have CPF money is absolutely nonsensical as we know money has been injected into Temasek throughout the decades using this common fund called Main Reserves. It is even more nonsensical to claim that GIC should disregard the fact that CPF is in the funds it is managing.

Whether it is Government Funds derived from Land Sales (Sugar), Budget Surplus (Milk) or simply CPF, THEY ARE ALL LONG TERM entities and that is precisely the reason why they are ALL invested in GIC. The risk profile of these entities should be more or less the same! The only problem is that GIC is UNDER-PERFORMING as compared to other pension funds or sovereign funds! People are getting 6% to 8% over the 20 years period while GIC is just getting merely 5%! And even with that, GIC is not giving FAIR RETURN to CPF and in fact, acting like a parasite, creaming off the rightful returns and gave back only 2.5% or 4% to CPF holders! That's the crux of the matter.

The truth is, for any sovereign fund or National Pension Fund, there will be a few important components. If you look at the Japanese National Pension Fund, most of it has been invested in LOCAL equities to reduce the foreign exchange risks. That may not be a good idea for a small market like Singapore with a huge amount of funds but at the very least, PAP should acknowledge the fact that Temasek has indeed utilized part of CPF money in its foundation years as well as the periodical injections of money into it. Temasek should be the "local investment" vehicle for CPF so to reduce the huge amount of foreign exchange risks, especially so when we are maintaining a strong Singapore Dollar as our international monetary policy.

Although it is strategic for us to invest in foreign land via GIC, but we must also be mindful of the great foreign exchange risks we face, as seen in the continuous weakening of US dollars against Singapore Dollars. Thus, it is TOTALLY UNPROFESSIONAL for Tharman and PAP to just focus ALL our CPF funds in GIC! Tharman, it is only PROFESSIONAL to diversify our CPF money into investment LOCAL and FOREIGN entities. Please stop your nonsensical statements here!

Goh Meng Seng







Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nonsensical Reply from Tharman I

The following is an extract of what was reported on CNA whereby Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has replied Roy:
Blogger Roy Ngerng, who attended the forum, asked DPM Tharman several questions, including whether Temasek Holdings had managed CPF monies prior to the establishment of GIC and why GIC did not know if it was investing CPF funds. A full of transcript of their exchange follows:

Mr Ngerng: Now that we know that the CPF is invested in the GIC, is it also possible to know what is the interest earned in SG terms since inception? Secondly, Temasek Holdings has said that they do not invest our CPF, is it possible to know if in the past Temasek Holdings had invested our CPF? Because the GIC was only set up in 1981, so prior to 1981, how was the CPF used and otherwise was it invested in Temasek Holdings? Thirdly, how much has the Government earned in absolute monetary terms from the excess returns of the CPF and will the Government consider returning some of them to Singaporeans? Finally, the GIC has said before June this year that they do not know if they invest our CPF because it is not made explicit to them – they said this on the GIC FAQ. But the Government made an about-turn in June this year and admitted that they do. So in the interest of public interest, is it possibly to know why the Government made an about-turn? It might also be intriguing because the Government is also on the board of the GIC, so it would be insightful to know why. Thank you.

DPM Tharman: I’ll start with Roy Ngerng’s points. First, a few factual matters; you asked some factual questions. Did Temasek manage the CPF funds in the past? No. It has never managed CPF funds. Temasek started off with a set of assets which were transferred by the Government at time of inception. I don’t have the exact figure in my head – but about $400 million dollars worth of assets in the form of a set of companies. It has never received CPF monies to invest.

What was the case in the early days, before we amended the constitution in 1992, is that CPF monies, which were invested in Special Singapore Government Securities (SSGS), could be used by the Government to finance infrastructure - such as road infrastructure, Singapore’s economic infrastructure and social infrastructure. Just like (other) Singapore Government Securities (SGS), the Government was allowed to use borrowings in addition to the revenues it got in its budget, to finance infrastructural investments. That was the old system.

That changed in 1992. Together with Constitutional amendments, we introduced the new Government Securities Act, which disallowed the Government from using borrowings for spending. From then onwards, all borrowings - the SGS, SSGS - have had to be invested.

How are they invested? Prior to the formation of the GIC, it was the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore). It was an old-fashioned, central bank investment system. Dr Goh (Keng Swee) changed that, explained why, explained that these are basically longer-term assets, and we should invest them for the longer term. And a significant chunk of reserves that were managed by the MAS were passed back to the Government, which then had the GIC manage them.

So that was the system in the old days; the MAS manages the CPF assets, but after the GIC was set up in the early 1980s, it was essentially the GIC that manages CPF assets - but not as CPF assets. It is managing Government assets: managing all Government assets put together.

Which brings me to the next question about whether GIC knows it is managing CPF assets. GIC knows it is managing Government assets. That is the Government’s mandate for the GIC. The mandate is irrespective of the sources of funds it manages, which comprise the SSGS, the SGS, Government surpluses, the proceeds from land sales - all Government funds.

And the GIC (hence) pays no regard to what the source of funds is. It just has to meet its mandate: to invest for the long term, take risks, in the hope of achieving good long-term returns, significantly about global inflation.

And that is a real strength of our system. The real strength of our system is that besides the CPF, we have unencumbered Government assets – Government assets that don’t have liabilities like the CPF. And the GIC is therefore able to invest, blind to where the funds come from. It’s able to invest the whole pool of funds for the long term. If the GIC was just managing CPF funds as a CPF fund manager, it would be managed quite differently. To provide a guaranteed interest rate of four to five per cent of the Special Account, or 2.5 to 3.5 per cent of the Ordinary Account, capital guaranteed and interest rate guaranteed, it would be a very different fund that it would be managing.

It would be invested largely in bond securities, and earning returns that are very different from what it is able to earn by investing for the long term in higher-risk assets. Plus, it would mean the interest rates that the Government has committed to would be unsustainable, because it is no longer possible to earn these interest rates on a guaranteed basis, using a bond portfolio. It’s very difficult.

So the GIC manages a pool of Government assets, irrespective of sources of the funds. It is the Government that then takes the risk. The Government takes the risk that the performance of the GIC from year to year, sometimes even over five-year periods, may not be adequate for it to meet commitments to the CPF. But the Government balance sheet takes the risk to ensure that we can meet those commitments.

And that’s the strength of the system. The strength of the system is we have assets that exceed our liabilities, that enable us to meet our commitments. And that’s why we’re not just triple-A-rated, but we’re able to provide CPF members with a very fair return on a guaranteed basis.

That’s the system. For the GIC as the manager, it is blind to the sources of funds, because of our strength of having assets significantly in excess of liabilities. GIC managers do not need to know exactly where the funds come from because that’s not part of their mandate. There’s no mystery to that.

Next question had to do with excess returns. The GIC publishes five-year, 10-year, 20-year returns. You can look at the returns, and they are easily computed into Singapore dollars. Over the last five years it earned 0.5 per cent in Singapore dollar terms, over the last 10 years it earned five per cent in Singapore dollar terms, over the last 20 years it earned five per cent in Singapore dollar terms. So those are the facts, but that’s not returns gained from investing CPF monies. That’s returns gained from investing all Government assets including the unencumbered assets; it’s returns gained from investing in higher-risk portfolios for the long term. If it was just CPF monies, it will be a different portfolio and a different set of returns. Every serious financial professional knows that.

- CNA/xy


I have to keep this long passage here before it gets amended or deleted. There are a few contradictory and nonsensical points here in Tharman's reply and I expect political parties to point them out in this important National debate over CPF issue.

Tharman has basically contradicted himself a couple of times in this reply as well as obfuscated the primary issue of how our CPF money is managed and who is supposed to be responsible for our CPF money.

He is basically saying, we have your money, put it somewhere call GIC but everybody should pretend it doesn't exist there!

I shall touched on his nonsensical remarks made above but for the mean time, you can try to spot his follies before I write about it in my next article.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Chen Show Mao - Hope From a Distance


During last General Elections back in 2011, all hype was on the brightest star from Workers Party, Mr. Chen Show Mao (CSM). A Rhodes scholar and a prominent lawyer with an international law firm, CSM is termed as a candidate with ministerial caliber in opposition rank. In fact, in terms of academic qualifications and international exposures, CSM can be considered as good as, if not better than, our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

I have taken the trouble to attend a seminar in Hong Kong which explains to potential young candidates what is Rhodes scholarship is all about. All we know it is a "Prestigious" scholarship but what exactly make it prestigious? According to the presentation, there are very limited places for Rhodes scholarship allocated according to different regions or countries. They are looking not only for students who are exceptionally good in their studies but also students who have a dream or aspiration to be the future LEADERS in their countries and fields of their work.

Yes, it is an ELITIST scholarship in every sense where students are expected to be leaders of the world. This actually makes CSM stands out because it means that he is not only bright but also has aspiration to be "leader" and this explains why he has chosen to give up his legal practice to become opposition MP. The most important thing is, although he has gone through such elitist scholarship program, he is able to maintain that humility and humble self in him!

The most striking qualities of CSM are not his "scholar" credentials but rather his personal charisma derived from his humility. He has always been seen as a humble person who cares, particularly towards the elderly. He is also seen taking public transport and going to the wet market near his house very often.

However, apart from that, there has been much criticisms of his "performance" in parliament. His maiden speech on "Weizheng" (魏征) was generally well received (I do not really agree though) but the subsequent performance in parliament was considered by many as disappointing. This is especially so when it involves the cut and thrust of "debating". I thought my own assessment may be somewhat "bias" initially but this assessment comes not only from other political observers, commentators and PAP, but also from many hardcore opposition supporters whom I have spoken to as well. 

But on second thought, I believe CSM might be constrained by WP's Party Whip in his parliamentary speeches. He may also be limited by the fact that he has been away from Singapore for far too long that he may not really understand local policies well enough to be effective in his parliamentary speeches and debates. I hope that he can overcome this inevitable shortcomings due to his background, very quickly.

As far as I know, CSM has given up his lucrative legal practice in US and Beijing as corporate lawyer to focus and concentrate in Singapore opposition politics as FULL TIME MP. If he doesn't have the spirit of public service, he won't have done that. However, the strange thing is that he wasn't appointed to any important position in the party nor the Town Council. This is really puzzling to me because by right, he should have the abilities, capabilities, time and intelligence to do more than just an ordinary MP. Isn't WP not fully utilizing his talents? Or that the leaders of WP do not think highly of CSM's capabilities at all? Or that CSM really lacks talent in management skills to contribute to his party and Town Council?

I decided to pay CSM a visit during one of his Meet the People Session to clarify all these doubts in my mind. I have long heard about the "uniqueness" of his MPS but it is always good to see for myself.

I didn't manage to talk to him during my visit because he was quite busy attending to his constituents' needs. But I was pretty impressed by the way he conducted his MPS. There are a few conclusions I have made from this little visit to CSM's MPS.

1) He has revolutionized the way MPS is being conducted, enhancing the processes by using the combination of technology and improvement on the human processes without compromising the important element of human touch. It just shows that he is able and willing to effect CHANGE when there is a need to, as long as it is within his control. His international corporate world exposures has allowed him to be more open and receptive to more creative methods of organizing processes. Hopefully this will add value to other aspects of political management and engagement.

2) The people who are helping him are very different from the past usual people I have seen in opposition MPS. These people are highly educated and I won't be surprised if there are high flyers, high caliber scholars or corporate individuals among them. It seems that CSM has a very unique and exceptional following which is very different from the rest. It is not easy to get people like them to help an opposition MP at all but CSM did it. It just demonstrates that his personal charisma is far beyond what I could perceive from the surface of Main Stream or Social Media.

In fact, there are many other signs that CSM has the exceptional charisma needed for political engagement. He has started the Lim-Kopi (Drink Coffee) sessions at HDB void decks and the turn out of residents has maintained as the highest among his party colleagues. PAP tried to emulate such Kopi Session but with little success so far.

Even an old welfare event like Free Hair Cut for the needy has become a greater success than those in other constituencies in the same GRC or Hougan, supported by well known celebrity in Singapore. 

Of course, all these exceptional performances in grassroot activities are only restricted within his own constituency. But it just demonstrates that when given the chance and empowerment, CSM will be a top performer in carrying out his duties.

Thus I would say that it is really an unfortunate loss to Workers Party when it did not give him important appointments both in party level as well as Town Council management. I believe he could have effected better positive changes to the party as well as the Town Council management, which has suffered from various criticisms from the ground.

Party appointments are generally made by the Secretary General in Workers Party after the initial election of the Central Executive Committee by the cadres during the Ordinary Party Congress (OPC). The OPC will elect both the Chairman and Secretary General, as well as other CEC members. The other positions are then appointed during the first CEC meeting after the OPC. There could be more than one nomination of candidates for different party positions like Organizing Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Chairman etc, but normally there is hardly any contest for such positions.

It seems to me that for some strange reasons, CSM has been unreasonably sidelined all this while; i.e. if it is not by his own choice not to hold any important position either in the party or Town Council. Most probably it is not in WP's interests to continue to "under utilize" his talents as this will hinder WP's progress in every sense.

I was told that the next OPC for WP will be held at the end of this month, 27 July 2014. I hope that such situation will change for the better. After all, Chen Show Mao is deemed as one of the most important and brightest star and talent in WP and opposition politics as a whole. His talent and charisma should be put to good use instead of being sidelined. I believe that CSM will be able to bring in the X factor to improve WP if he is really given the chance to do so.

Well, on top of that, if CSM could improve his speeches and debate performance in parliament, that would be definitely be perfect. Such oratory skills aren't that difficult to pick up while charisma is something you can't "learn" that easily.

In light of the rapid deterioration of PAP's support base we are witnessing now, we really need opposition parties like WP to enhance its growth and development quickly so that any additional seats won by opposition parties will be in better hands. 

I bet if CSM is given the appropriate leadership position, his following of good or even top caliber people will get even more involved in the party's development and thus, enhancing WP further. This is one of the most important factor in this critical moment of political development for Singapore.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Protest @ Hong Lim Park 5 July 2014


I am compelled to write this article to record this event not because of the low turnout we have but rather, the fantastic event I have enjoyed should not went unrecorded.

This event is special because it has included a live band singing of songs which inspires political struggles. All thanks to Gilbert Louis, Tina Mercury de Costa along with her long lost cousin, Daniel de Costa. They have uplifted the spirit of the protest with their inspiring songs.

We have impressive young speaker like 17 year old Ariffin Sha to 72 year old elderly layman like Sulaiman to share their views. Of course, not to mention the "agent provocateur" who spoke in support of PM Lee Hsien Loong but was met with unexpected reactions from the crowd who just booed him out of stage half way through his speech.

I have learned something from Mr. Sulaiman. The PAP government has not spent enough money to help Singaporeans and we should not be a "Beggar State" whereby citizens have to beg the government for help. This may sound too simple to many people but it means something very profound to me. It simply sums up how stingy PAP government is when it comes to helping our citizens in need.

There are a few songs sang by Gilbert Louis group. The songs include my all time favourite John Lenon's "Imagine", the infamous song from Les Miserables "Do You Hear the People Sing", "Wind of Change", "Voices That Care", "From a Distance", "Shout" (by Tears for Fears) etc. I personally feel that these songs are great songs which could become a group of Theme Songs for any protests held in Hong Lim Park. These songs are not just any other songs but come with meaningful background and lyrics.



I have seen how the protest organizers in Hong Kong utilize various songs effectively for their events. They even have their own written songs for their own events. The annual 4th  June Vigil is one good example.

Music and songs are powerful medium and tools to create the appropriate atmosphere for such events. These are so powerful and influential that PAP has to ban them altogether for any political rallies held during General Elections. But I believe we need to change all that.

Next, I will come to my own speech, which is in fact, "incomplete" as we were running out of time then. I am going to run through the rationale of my speech here.

The whole theme of my speech is, what are the reasons which will justify an urgent need to ask Mr. Lee Hsien Loong to resign as Prime Minister? I have somehow missed out some important points during the rally as there was a time constrain but the following are my thoughts:



1) Leadership Quality

The role of the government and thus, Prime Minister, is to take care of Singaporeans' welfare and interests. What does a Prime Minister needs, beside eyes, ears and a brain? It is the HEART. If you do not have the HEART to take care of the citizens' welfare and interests when you are making every decisions, then you are not fit to be our political leaders, least Prime Minister.

PAP has always been OVERLY GENEROUS towards themselves while being EXTREMELY STINGY towards Singaporeans in need. As the other speaker Mr. Sulaiman has mentioned, we have become a "Beggar State" under PAP rule. The Singapore Government hardly spent any money extensively on the welfare of Singaporeans. Even hospitals are no longer "Government Hospitals" but business oriented "Restructured Hospital".

There is little help available for Singaporeans who have, for whatever reasons, fallen into temporary hardship. We have to BEG PAP government for that miserable help they squeeze out of their tiny little pocket hole. That's what "Beggar State" is all about.

I am going to talk about the problem of having Ho Ching even though none of other speakers have spoken on this. I am not interested to DEFAME Lee Hsien Loong but the truth is, when he agreed to put his wife Ho Ching as the CEO of Temasek Holdings, he has set a VERY BAD EXAMPLE for such an important leadership position.

There are numerous corruption cases being investigated and charged in court. High level, well paid civil servants are deemed to give special favours or special treatments to their mistresses, students turned girlfriend or simply friends, are charged for corruptions. What is the fundamental problem of all these? Conflicts of interests! (the crowd responded as well) Yes, it is all about conflicts of interests. But in two cases, the accused have been acquitted of corruptions even though there is such a glaring conflicts of interests! Why? Conflicts of interests may not necessarily be considered as "corruptions" even though it might have created doubts or speculations. However, what is considered as "legally acceptable" may not be "politically" acceptable.

When the Prime Minister agreed to put his wife in such a high prominent position which runs the government owned Temasek Holdings, no matter what due diligence has been made whatsoever, it is inevitable that such arrangement will be seen as a problem of Conflicts of Interests! How can the Prime Minister have the moral authority to lead when such conflicts of interests has been displayed? Can the Prime Minister tell the civil servants off if they did the same thing?

The Prime Minister, as the TOP LEADER of the government, should lead by examples. The proper thing for the Prime Minister to do, is to practice AVOIDANCE of Conflicts of Interests! It means that no matter who want to "por" (flatter or attempt to show favor) the Prime Minister by suggesting to put his wife or sister or whoever in his family members at top positions in the civil service or government owned entities, he should DECLINE as a good practice of "Avoidance of Conflicts of Interests"!

Else, he will lose the critical moral authority to lead politically.


2) Really BAD Diplomatic Gaffes

We can't fault Mr. Lee for some of the embarrassing gaffes that he has made over the years, from "Mee Siam Mai Hum" to labeling Singaporeans as "Kao Peh Kao Bu" (Cry Father Cry Mother which implicitly cursing one of making noise as if their parents are dead. ) when we made too much noise in the internet. This is basically because he was born in with a Golden Spoon, has never eve stayed in a Condominium or Terrace House before, least a HDB flat like most of us. But when he made a gaffe that would affect International Diplomatic Relationship with one of the most important country in the world, that will no longer be just "funny" but actually DEAD SERIOUS.

During his visit to Washington and after meeting President Obama, PM Lee recounted a sick joke about Beijing's air pollution, alleging that you just need to open the window to get a "free smoke"! This was speculated to be one of the main reasons why China's President Xi has deliberately give Singapore a by-pass while he was shuttling between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur while he was attending the APEC meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

If we allow Mr. Lee Hsien Loong to continue to lead us as Prime Minister, I do not know how many such embarrassing and damaging gaffes we would have to suffer in future.


3) Vision? Mission? Core Values? What is Mr. Lee Hsien Loong's Principles?

Does anyone know exactly what is Mr. Lee Hsien Loong's Vision? Mission? Core Values? Principles? The only come to our mind is MONEY $$$ ! (In fact, the crowd responded with the same answer as well.)

We got used with the "Pay and Pay" notion of the ruling party PAP way back from 1980s till now. It is ok for most Singaporeans to tolerate such "Pay and Pay" situation as long as they can have a good job and earn more than enough money to cope with such culture.

However, after Mr. Lee Hsien Loong took over as Prime Minister, the situation is really worse than Pay and Pay. The Core Principle of Money-Minded government has evolved into a bigger monster. We, Singaporeans, have been sold out for whatever money they can get from the deals they made.

For example, when there was a huge protest against the White Paper on 6.9 million, PAP announced that they might have to slow down the intake of foreign workers. Which was the first country to make noise about this? India. India government claimed that by doing so, Singapore would have breached the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that we have signed with India! I did a little research on this FTA which PAP has signed with India. This is what I have found:

The India-Singapore FTA is called CECA which stands for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. It was signed on 29 June 2005, just about a year after Mr. Lee Hsien Loong became our Prime Minister.

If you read carefully through the CECA, the main benefits for us is for our mostly banks and companies owned by Temasek Holdings to have the right and access to invest in India, mostly in their financial, telecommunication and real estate industries. (Read Trade in Services):

The sectors which Singapore gets preferential access include business services, construction and related engineering services, financial services, telecommunication services, tourism and travel related services and transport services.
For Financial Services, Singapore owned or controlled financial institutions have been given greater privileges to access the Indian market. In banking, DBS, UOB and OCBC can each set up a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) in India to enjoy treatment on par with Indian banks in branching, places of operations and prudential requirements. Alternatively, should they choose to set up as branches, they have been allocated a separate quota of 15 branches (for all 3 banks) over 4 years, over and above the quota for all foreign banks.
For asset management, Singapore owned or controlled fund managers have the additional privilege of offering Indian investors mutual funds and collective investment schemes (CIS) listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) as well as exchange traded funds (ETF). These instruments offered by our asset managers are free from the restriction that they must only invest in entities which have a stake in Indian companies.
For asset management, Singapore owned or controlled fund managers have the additional privilege of offering Indian investors mutual funds and collective investment schemes (CIS) listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) as well as exchange traded funds (ETF). These instruments offered by our asset managers are free from the restriction that they must only invest in entities which have a stake in Indian companies.
India has similarly lifted this limitation for India owned or controlled fund managers. Both Singapore and India owned or controlled fund managers can also invest an additional US$250m in equities and instruments listed on the SGX, including mutual funds, CIS and ETFs. This is in addition to the US$1 billion cap that all asset managers can invest abroad.
For Telecommunication Services, India will bind its foreign equity limit from 25% to 49% for most services including basic, cellular and long distance services and 74% for internet and infrastructure services. India will also ensure that telecommunication providers from Singapore are treated fairly, transparently, and allowed to obtain access to the necessary public infrastructure in order to offer their services, thereby creating a more level playing field in India for our Singapore's telecom providers.
It is all good but at whose expense? We must first remember that although our CPF money is mixed into the Main Reserves and allocated for GIC or Temasek Holdings to invest, we do not benefit FULLY on the actual returns made from their investments. In spite of the inherent risk resulting from the investment made from GIC or Temasek, we are only given a fixed return of 2.5% to 5% on our CPF accounts.

In order to let Temasek and GIC made in-route into India's emerging market, our jobs have been totally sold out to India by PAP government led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This is clearly stated under Chapter 9 Movement of Natural Persons. It comes with an attached list of 40 professional fields of jobs which Singapore should allow Indian Nationals to access for employment! Furthermore, not only should Singapore be obliged to allow Indian Nationals to gain employment in Singapore for these 40 professions, but we are also obliged to allow the spouses and "dependents" to gain access to our Singapore job market in ANY OTHER FIELDS!!!

This is clearly stated under Article 9.6:

ARTICLE 9.6: EMPLOYMENT OF SPOUSES AND DEPENDANTS

For natural persons of a Party who have been granted the right to long term temporary entry and have been allowed to bring in their spouses or dependants, a Party shall, upon application, grant the accompanying spouses or dependants of the other Party the right to work as managers, executives or specialists (as defined in paragraphs 2(f)(i) to (iii) of Article 9.2), subject to its relevant licensing, administrative and registration
requirements. Such spouses or dependants can apply independently in their own capacity (and not necessarily as accompanying spouses or dependants) and shall not be barred by the Party granting them the right to work from taking up employment in a category other than that of managers, executives, or specialists solely on the ground that
they as the accompanying spouses or dependants are already employed in its territory as managers, executives or specialists.

Now, let's get this straight. Even for Singaporeans with foreign spouses, Permanent Residencies are not easily granted to their foreign spouses. For the first numerous years, they will only be granted some long term visit passes that do not grant them any rights to work in Singapore at all. Here, we have PAP government under PM Lee's leadership, promising to provide jobs not only to Indian professionals listed in the list of 40, but also to provide jobs to their spouses in any jobs in other fields with absolutely no restrictions at all!

India is a huge country with a huge population of almost 1.3 BILLION people, about 370 times of our population size of 3.5 million! Is it logical for us to provide UNLIMITED jobs to India which has a population so much bigger than us? Got logic or not?

Thus, it is obvious that this India-Singapore CECA is basically a blatant TOTAL sell out of our Singaporeans' jobs to India in exchange for the benefits of Temasek Holdings and GIC! We Singaporeans' welfare and interests can be sold out for their benefits!

Did PM Lee and PAP give any thought to our Singaporeans' interests, welfare and jobs when they sign this FTA with India? Apparently not. They are only concerned of how much money they can make from the opportunities of investing in India and the number of CHEAP LABOUR from India to help their GLCs and MNCs to save more labour costs! And obviously, that is at the expense of Singaporeans' wages and jobs! Our wages will definitely be suppressed by such influx of Indian workers!

Furthermore, did they care about the impact of such move upon our infrastructure? When we complain about the THIRD WORLD conditions in our "Restructured Hospitals" all over Singapore, PAP Doctor MP has the cheek to declare "Don't Politicise Healthcare issues". I have to reiterate again, ANYTHING that affects Singaporeans' lives, interests, welfare and benefits, IS POLITICAL. More so for the CRITICAL situation we have in our hospitals' A&E departments! PAP MPs and Ministers may not have the opportunity to experience first hand how bad the situation is due to their privileged background but I still want to get this message straight to PM Lee, his RECKLESS, ILL PLANNED and IRRESPONSIBLE action in increasing our population size by importing FTs rapidly, is ENDANGERING our Singaporeans' lives!

I speak from my personal encounters when my mother was admitted to KTPH. I believe the other hospitals around Singapore is as bad as, if not worse, than the situation in KTPH. And this is EVERYDAY PROBLEM we are facing in hospitals, not just an outlier happening.

I shall not elaborate here as I have written a separate article on this issue. But my point is, has PM Lee thought about such deadly consequences when he decided to sign this FTA with India? Absolutely no.

Thus, PM Lee has basically led us into some very dangerous situation whereby the concept of Pay and Pay no longer satisfy his vision of $$$. Singaporeans' jobs and interests can be and have been sold off for the benefits of Temasek and GICs!


4) What is Lee Hsien Loong's Economic Policy direction?

Do we know exactly what is Lee Hsien Loong's Economic Policy Direction? There are two. One is Casino. Two, increase labour and MNC investment.

The Casinos, under the guise of "Integrated Resorts" have been introduced after Lee Hsien Loong took over as Prime Minister. Up till now, we are still unsure how many jobs have these casinos created for Singaporeans but we definitely know how these Casinos are killing Singaporeans with so many suicides due to debts, problem gambling incidents and affecting our economy adversely when not only aunties and uncles got hook on casino gambling but wealthy businessmen who should be spending more time to enhancing their businesses, ended up hooked or even bankrupted by casino gambling!

The second madness of PAP's economic policy under Lee Hsien Loong is GDP growth at ALL COST. Why does he need that? To justify his and his ministers' multi-million dollar annual pay!

Basic Economics state that GDP= Labour + Capital Investment + Land.

If you want to grow GDP, just increase labour and capital investment. This is why PAP is so engrossed in opening up the floodgate to CHEAP foreign workers as well as MNCs, even though sometimes, these MNCs are only employing overwhelmingly CHEAP foreign workers instead of Singaporeans!

But did Lee Hsien Loong plan properly? Has he considered the impact on the various infrastructure in Singapore? The impact on inadequate Public Transport system? Housing? Hospital care?

During last elections, MBT kept saying that HDB is "affordable" but when I challenged him to a live open debate on this housing issue, he just siam ah! Who pay for PAP's mistake? Our younger generation Singaporeans! When I suggested the Cost-plus pricing mechanism for our young Singaporeans to lower prices of new HDB flats drastically, MBT proclaimed that this would effect a "raid on our reserves"! Well, my simple retort is, when PAP keep increasing their million dollar pay, isn't that also "raid on our reserves"?

Lee Hsien Loong's administration has gone so far to come up with that infamous "6.9 population White Paper" without first solving the immediate mess that his past screwed up economic policy has created! What is he really thinking in his brain?


5 Clear and Present IMMEDIATE Danger of PM Lee's recent Decision...

I am not so sure whether PM Lee has studied physics or not but he should know that for nuclear substance, there is something called "half life". For nuclear substances, half lives can range from over 60 years to almost 100 years. What does this mean? It means that it will take more than 60 years before the nuclear substance is being half, thus, radiation also being halved.

It means that it will not just take a few couple of years for the nuclear leaks in Fukushima to be solved but it will take tens and maybe hundreds of years before nuclear contamination could be minimized in Fukushima!

How can PM Lee decide to lift the ban on food imports from Fukushima right now when even farmers in Fukushima don't even dare to consume their own produce? Is Lee Hsien Loong putting Singaporeans' health is utter danger of nuclear contaminated food?

Why would PM Lee do that? Now, most probably, it is encourage Japan to get into the Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP agreement!

Do we still want a Prime Minister that would put our immediate health in danger just for some economic benefits from a broad free trade agreement which most likely, benefiting mostly Temasek and GIC again?

Conclusion

Apparently Mr. Lee Hsien Loong has completely lost the moral authority to lead Singapore and he has to be removed immediately because his totally bizarre decisions which will not only compromise Singaporeans' jobs but also endanger our lives. If we were to wait until next GE before we could remove him by voting him out, it might be too late as these irreparable and irreversible harm would be entirely instituted into our system.



Goh Meng Seng














 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Progression to Multiple Proportional Representation System




I do not agree with NSP's latest CRM proposal at all although it has made some valid points about the need to abolish the GRC system. The present GRC system has its apparent weaknesses but the most important point is that it has created an inherent instability to the a small nation like Singapore. It is not just about how the GRC would give the incumbent, PAP at this moment, the advantages over opposition parties. 

The GRC system might have serve PAP's intention of monopoly well for the past decades but in this new era, it has become a double edged sword instead. There is absolutely no guarantee for PAP to win all GRCs as proven by WP's victory in Aljunied GRC in GE2011. It is not just merely about win or lose for PAP but the truth is, PAP has lost two ministers in one shot due to GRC! 

Imagine if PAP is to lose 40% of the seats aka 40% of its GRC, it would mean that it may just lose more than 40% of its ministers altogether despite the fact that it still maintains its status as the ruling party! Thus the GRC system has become a great liability and baggage for ALL parties as well as Singapore as a whole. This is the main reason why the GRC system must be reviewed for the stability sake of Singapore. 

But to abolish the GRC system and revert back to the primitive system of single seat FPTP system is definitely not a progressive way. We may have to do a total revamp of our electoral system altogether instead of just engaging in a dualistic approach. Both the present GRC and the proposed ALL-SMC systems ignore the fact that there will always be voters "unrepresented" in the whole process. eg. if in a constituency, 40% voted PAP but it turns out that NSP won the seat(s) either in GRC or SMC, these 40% voters' choice will not be represented at all. A proportional representation system would have addressed this fundamental problem once and for all. 

We should have a Two-Tier electoral system and ironically, SMCs should be abolished totally, if equal weight and parity were to be enjoyed by every voter. We may only have a ONE SIZE group representative system eg. 4 seats for each group. 

There will be four votes allocated to each voter. One is to elect a local Town Councillor for municipal representation, one for legislative parliamentarian, one for "National" minority representative (either by party vote or individual vote) and one for "National" party leaders from the different parties. 

The rationale for such system is that Parliamentarians should only concentrate on legislative matters instead of being tasked to run the town councils. The Town Councils can be run by those town councilors who are elected separately by another vote. One Group of Constituencies may have 4 Candidates voted into parliament as MP but it could have as many as 10 Town Councilors voted to represent different districts within the group of Constituencies. 

All these MPs and Town Councilors will be allocated according to the proportions of the votes each party or independent candidates get. eg. for each 25% of the votes garnered, the party will get one seat in parliament and thereafter, depending on the size of the remaining percentage of votes, independent candidates or party candidates can be allocated accordingly. 

Similarly, for every 10% of the votes, each party will be allocated one seat for Town Council and so on. 

As for National votes, it will be opened to only participating parties with sizable number of candidates contesting (eg. at least 25% or 30% of the total parliamentary seats). Voters could either vote according to party line (aka party logo) and allows the parties to allocate these votes to their line up of candidates, or vote on the listed names of the individual candidates from the parties contesting. This is to allow parties to maintain the key potential ministers the parties wanted to include in its cabinet ministers' line up if it becomes the ruling party or part of any ruling coalition to be chosen by the voters. 

The minority candidates from each party will also be voted in through this National level proportional representation method. Minority candidates can also participate in the Local Group representation contest as well. 

A fixed total number of seats should be allocated to both National Party Leaders section as well as the National Minority Section. All seats in these two sections will be allocated proportionately to the parties.

Such a system will address quite a number of problems. It guarantees that our political system will have enough of the "ministerial caliber" politicians being voted or retained in the political system to provide a stability to the National leadership. 

It will also provide the opportunity for proportionate diversity in the representation of minority voices in parliament. 

Technically speaking, all voters will be "REPRESENTED" in parliament via their votes, even if they are of minority choice or voice. 

Parliamentarians will be released from the distractions of running municipal functions and can focus on their core job of legislative matters. They could still have offices set up in their constituencies to attend to matters concerning their constituents, other than municipal issues. Town Councilors elected will serve to manage these municipal issues instead. 

Such a system will enhance professionalism in the legislative functions in parliament and provide a stability to National leadership.


Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Asking Prime Minister Lee to Resign: Protest @ Hong Lim Park 5 July 2014


There will be a Protest held at Hong Lim Park on this coming Saturday, 5 July 2014 and I will be one of the speaker. The Protest is about whether our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the right person to lead Singapore or not. My obvious answer, is no.

In fact, the organizer William Lim had the idea to hold this Protest event basically because of the speech PM Lee had made in one of the grassroot event whereby they celebrated the Hindu New Year at Ang Mo Kio GRC. In that event, PM Lee has given a speech to imply that "Singapore belongs to everyone" and this was said to the Indian Nationals from India participating that celebration. Earlier on, I have also written an article to protest at what he has said in this speech as well, entitled Singapore doesn't belong to Foreigners.

It took me quite a while to consider the invitation by William Lim before I agreed to be one of the speaker for this event. Although I have mentioned in my earlier article that PM Lee Hsien Loong has basically lost the moral authority to lead Singapore, but to make a call for his resignation will need more substantial reasoning than just an emotional reactions to his many gaffes. After giving a serious thought over this important call for his resignation, I have finally come to the conclusion that there are fundamental grounds for me to come to the conclusion that Mr. Lee Hsien Loong is indeed, unsuitable to lead Singapore as our Prime Minister any more.

If you wish to find out what are the reasons behind my call for his resignation, please come to Hong Lim Park on this coming Saturday, 5 July 2014, from 4pm - 7 pm. I will be there to provide my views on this very serious matter.

Goh Meng Seng





Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Healthcare is POLITICS



This article is in response to PAP MP Janil Puthucheary, who once opined that his practice of medicine is a kind of "National Service". His article, entitled "Politicising Healthcare leads us down a slippery slope"  was published in Today.

I have ever told a reporter from SPH that EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that concerns the welfare and interests of citizens, ARE POLITICAL. Maybe the Honorable MP Janil Puthucheary should get a basic lecture on Politics 101 here. You cannot just jump into mere policies without going through the scrutiny of politics.

His view put up in this newspaper report has shown how naive and out of the touch he is from the ground reality. He may draw his conclusion that beds along corridors and in tentages are "not the norm" because "official statistics" show that the average occupancy rate is less than 80%. This is the key problem with "elite technocrats" who only try to understand and rule from their ivory towers looking at "statistics" only. They should go down to the ground, the hospitals' A&E departments to take a good look for themselves.

Hospitals in Singapore will most probably NOT "100% full" at any time of the year basically because of the classification of wards we have in our public "structured" hospitals. i.e. there are Class A, Class B1 and B2 beds with Class C beds which will be most likely be 100% full most of the time! The higher class beds will not be fully occupied and these are mostly there to cater to "Healthcare Tourism" in which foreigners with deep pockets will fly all the way here from the region for their medical needs.

Thus it explains the discrepancy between what NORMAL Singaporeans  experienced on the ground and what statistics these elites read from their Ivory Tower. They should have a good look at the BREAKDOWN statistics on the occupancy rates for the different Class of beds instead of giving a false impression of everything is good on the ground!

The photo you see here are from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) shows how bad the situation is. KTPH not only lack sufficient beds in the wards but it also lacks experienced Senior Consultants in its group of doctors. My mother was admitted to KTPH just a couple of weeks ago but our family members were told that some of those patients in the observation ward has been waiting more than a day and yet not able to get a proper bed in the wards. Most have to wait for two days before they can get properly warded.

The condition in these observation wards in the A&E departments are very bad. Beds were squeezed in and put along the corridors if the situation was worse. You may think this only happens in KTPH but no, it is happening all over Singapore. I have friends who have relatives or family members admitted to Changi Hospital, TTSH, NUH, SGH.... etc, all gave this similar account of how bad the situation is.

For my mother, we decided to discharge her "against doctor's advice". The key problem is, do we really have a choice not to discharge her? The THIRD WORLD condition of Singapore hospitals will increase the risk of cross-infections of unknown bacterias and for elderly people of over 80 years old like my mother, just cannot take such risk. After 12 hours of wait, we finally got her discharged.

Elites like the Honorable MP Janil Puthucheary may not experience the same situation ordinary people like us when it comes to critical hospital care because most probably he or his family members could afford private hospital services or Class A beds. MPs and Ministers will have really "PRIVILEGED" treatment whereby you can get admitted immediately with a ward ready for you. But please don't assume that every Singaporeans also enjoy that kinds of privileges you are having.

If we opposition members didn't POLITICISE such matters, I guess people in PAP like the Honorable Janil Puthucheary would still live and dream in their Lala Land that how wonderful and fantastic our healthcare system is.

I just have to keep POLITICISING this THIRD WORLD healthcare system for Singaporeans, First World Healthcare for the privileged few and wealthy foreigners until PAP gets drilled into their heads of how bad the situation is on the ground. And of course, I will also have to remind PAP that after FOUR WHOLE YEARS of EMPTY PROMISES in 2010 from the former Minister for Health, the Honorable Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, situation in public hospitals have not improved BUT most probably deteriorated further!

Hospital care is about LIFE and DEATH to everybody. This is not something PAP and Janil Puthucheary should take lightly and brush it aside as "politicising" or "politicking". Appropriate, adequate and timely hospital care are just too important to people with a medical condition serious enough to be warded. Janil Puthucheary and PAP should not just take it as just another set of "statistics" and digits. These are Human LIVES we are talking about. As a doctor, Janil Puthucheary should know that to pack so many patients in a crowded ward and corridors will subject these patients to dangerous cross-infections of virus and bacterias! How could he just brush aside such problem so lightly?

I have to remind PAP again, all these have to do with the GDP GROWTH AT ALL COST of PAP's 6.9million FT policy as well as the "Cost Recovery" aim of public hospitals' involvement of Healthcare Tourism which eventually resulted in a total neglect in Singaporeans' public healthcare needs. Furthermore, we could possibly build more hospitals and infrastructures easily but doctors need time to groom and gain experience to become Senior Consultants in public hospitals! If we do not expand the capacity of our local universities' facilities and intake of medicine students, I do not see how the whole system can cope with the DOUBLE STRESS in demands from Medical Tourism and aggressive population growth.

Last but not least, if there is a big disaster, be it natural or otherwise, happening in Singapore, I guess our hospital system will eventually crumble and collapse. It will not just a matter of losing face then, but LIVES! AND that that is of course, POLITICAL!

I hope PAP government and the Honorable Doctor MP should stop paying lips service and fantasize on how good our healthcare system is but get down the the HARD TRUTH. Medical Tourism HAS TO BE STOPPED for government public hospitals and those Class A and B wards should all be converted into C class to maximize bed capacity immediately. For those rich and wealthy people who want to "enjoy" better rooms, they could choose private hospitals. If PAP doesn't act fast to correct such prolonged and chronic shortage of hospital beds, it will have to pay the price POLITICALLY. 



Goh Meng Seng





Monday, June 30, 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes: Is it Defamation?



As we all know, in the story, the Emperor was stupid enough to be fooled into believing that he has worn the most beautiful clothes which is in fact, nothing, and paraded around the country.
If the boy shouted, "That mad, crazy, gila and stupid Emperor is wearing nothing and walk around like an idiot...." will that considered as "defamation"?
In my view, this is NOT defamation because what the Emperor did indeed give EVERYBODY the impression that the Emperor is a madman, even though most people are afraid to say it out loud, unlike the boy. This is because what he has done has reasonably made any sane man to come to the conclusion that he is CRAZY, although they would not know that he has been fooled by the fraudsters. You can't blame or charge anyone who come to this conclusion, even though they can't "prove" the Emperor is crazy, for thinking so. If there is any defamation culprit, it is Emperor himself, for doing things that make others to think so.
Similarly, if a person keep making decisions and doing things that are full of conflicts of interests, it would naturally be INEVITABLE for people who come to know about it, to come to the simple conclusion that what he has been doing, is basically to benefit his own cronies or family members, even though there are so called "due processes" have been made.
The most obvious case in mind is the NEA Brompton bikes tender incident. The immediate impression given to the public when the case was first exposed on the internet, is that there are corruptions involved. This is despite the fact that there were no concrete evidence of a transfer of benefits (either in kind or cash) from the supplier to the officer in question. The only link was that they were friends and the supplier was prompted by the officer in advanced for the tender.
Any sane person who keep seeing a guy who put all his own clan or family members into important PUBLIC positions which benefited HUGELY from such appointments, would inevitably come to the conclusion that this guy has breached all counts of conflicts of interests and corrupt, no matter how good the reasons he has for doing so.
For public office holders, they must not only act diligently and clean without corruption intention, most importantly, they must be SEEN to be clean and incorruptible. Else, they cannot blame others of defamation if what they have done would make them seen as corrupt, irregardless of whatever reasons they may have to justify their actions. He can only blame himself for his own actions which leads to his own defamation, if any.
The more responsible way of carry out the duties of a public office, is to exercise "avoidance of conflicts of interests". It means that as long as there are great potential conflicts of interests, the public office holders should avoid it at all cost. This is to safeguard the moral authority of the office holders and to prevent any single doubt of integrity from arising in the public opinion.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WP's wavering stance on NMP scheme?

Before I start, I must state that it is really regrettable that I have to criticize Mr. Low Thia Khiang in this post. I always have high regards of him and even regarded him as my First Teacher for my initiation into Singapore Opposition Politics. Even though we may have differences in opinions but I have always given him the respect of a teacher or "shifu" to me.

However, this NMP issue is just blatantly against the very fundamental principles of Democracy and Democratic Electoral Process. It is just too important to me as a matter of principles, to state categorically that even my "shifu" is just obviously wrong to be involved in this undemocratic process of selecting NMP.

When I read the news on Asia One with regards to the Select Committee of Nominated MP (NMP), I was quite puzzled with the composition of the Select Committee. It was reported that Mr. Low Thia Khiang, Secretary General and Party Whip of Workers Party, was included as a member of this Select Committee.

Members of the Special Select Committee are:
- Speaker Halimah Yacob (Chairman)
- Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Defence and Leader of the House
-Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Dr Janil Puthucheary
- Ms Ellen Lee
- Low Thia Khiang
- Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information
I am puzzled because as far as I can remember, when I was still a CEC member of WP, WP's position was that NMP should be abolished. This was written in GE 2006 WP Election Manifesto. I double check on WP website for its GE 2011 Manifesto, this position has not changed. It is clearly stated in Chapter 1, Section B, Para 5 that "The Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) scheme should be abolished."

Thus, I am really puzzled why Mr. Low Thia Khiang accepted the appointment of member of the Select Committee of NMP! Mr. Low in particular, was strongly against the NMP scheme. When the parliament was debating about Constitutional Change to include the NMP scheme, he was seen clapping his hands after Dr. Tan Cheng Bock has categorically stated his stance of opposing the NMP scheme.



The first doubt surfaces in my mind is, has Mr. Low or WP change their stance with regards to NMP scheme? If not, why is Mr. Low in the Selection Committee of NMP?

Before any WP apologists would jump in and use GRC as a justification for Mr. Low's involvement in this NMP Selection Committee, I will make distinctions between the two different issues.

First of all, even if WP or any other opposition opposition parties are against the GRC system and call for its abolishment, but do they have any CHOICE of not contesting in GRC? If they are not going to contest in GRCs, then they will make PAP very happy as that is exactly what PAP wants: to monopolize power without the need to fight for seats! And the ONLY way of changing the GRC system is to beat PAP in its own game and rules until it loses power. This could only be done by contesting in GRCs and win the seats there!

Thus for the issue of GRC system, it is a matter of the lack of alternative ways to effect a change if we do not contest in GRCs. i.e. the ONLY way to change the GRC system is to contest the GRCs even though we are against it.

But for this NMP scheme, you do not need to participate in the whole selection process which inevitably give legitimacy to the whole scheme, in order to get rid of the scheme. Thus there is absolutely no legitimate reason, in my opinion, for anyone who oppose this NMP scheme to get himself involved in the Selection Committee at all. He is practically giving support and legitimacy to the NMP scheme which is totally undemocratic by being part of the Selection Committee.

Such contradiction is just too glaring to ignore. It is a matter of big principle here; Democracy is definitely not through appointment politics. Anyone who wants to sit and speak in parliament, must go through the democratic electoral process to earn his right of representation of his constituents. The votes he gets from his constituents are the basis of his right to be part of the parliament. This is why anybody who really believe in Democracy, any self respecting Democratic fighters would go against NMP scheme as it is allowing people to walk into parliament via the backdoor. It is just blatantly wrong for Mr. Low to be involved in the Selection Committee of NMP and yet declaring his objection to this NMP scheme. He has the right and choice to decline the appointment to the Selection Committee but he chose to be involved instead.

I raise this issue here because this is of public interests and not some private matters which should be taken lightly. I believe many WP supporters, like me, would like to know why this is so. Why Mr. Low has done something which seemingly contradicted WP's as well as his own stance against NMP. Has WP and Mr Low changed their stance with regards to NMP? Have they lost their Democratic Principles? Are they just paying lip service to their belief in Democracy? Do they believe in Democracy at all?

Well, only Mr. Low Thia Khiang can explain these questions and the contradiction of his action and the words embedded in WP Manifesto.

Goh Meng Seng

After Note: Some people have suggested it may be good for Mr. Low Thia Khiang to be in the Selection Committee so that he can ensure good people and not just Pro-PAP people are nominated as NMP. They are afraid that PAP anyhow choose people to be NMPs.

I would say first of all, he is just one person against several other PAP MPs in the committee and I doubt he can prevent any "Pro-PAP" or mediocre people to be nominated as NMPs. Furthermore, if he is NOT in the Selection Committee, these "bad choices" would be seen directly as the choices of PAP alone and Singaporeans can blame PAP for that. However, now that Mr. Low is in the committee, things will not be that straight forward at all. These bad choices (if any) will be seen as the COLLECTIVE CHOICE of both PAP and WP.

This is where the legitimacy that LTK has given PAP on this NMP scheme!