Thursday, October 16, 2014

WP's Non Violent Civil Disobedience

I remember years ago right after GE2006, during one important WP CEC meeting, there was a debate on whether WP should "draw a clear line" from "Non-Violent Civil Disobedience". I was against such move and argued passionately that WP should NEVER draw that line.

The reason I gave was that WP might not utilize NVCD there and then, but it cannot discount the possibility that there may come a time that the rules and laws set and changed by PAP may become so ridiculous that the only possible way is to fight it via Non-Violent Civil Disobedience. The example I gave back then was the constant interference and disturbance of NEA officers on opposition parties' regular political outreach in selling our political newsletters. SDP was charged and fined for selling their publications and books in public places and there is absolutely no guarantee that PAP will not do the same to WP or any other party.

In fact, it has been proven that NEA tried to use exactly the same law "illegal hawking" on NSP during my tenure as Secretary General. NSP back then, stood steadfast and challenged NEA for the summon and was prepared to go to court to fight it out. We continued our regular selling of North Star while Reform Party did that as well.  Both RP and SDP supported our position that regular political grassroot outreach activities like selling party newsletter IS NOT ILLEGAL HAWKING.

However, regrettably, WP kept quiet and stopped all its Hammer sales activity for almost two months. WP members were quietly BLAMING me on my back of "dragging" them down into the mud. I was utterly disappointed. Instead of fighting against the unjust and unfair PAP law enforcement, they chose to stab fellow opposition parties instead.

Nevertheless, that saga has proven to be very important in setting the new norm for ALL Opposition parties, including WP. WP was basically the FREE Rider of this good outcome. Well, it is ok for me as the important point is about opening up more space for all serious opposition politicians.

Fast forward to 2014, WP was charged for "illegal trade fair" without a permit from NEA. WP has apparently, through the Town Council it controls, initiated Non-Violent Civil Disobedience against UNFAIR and UNJUST law as well as regulations. It is Deja Vu. They have chosen to go ahead with the trade fair without the permit, knowing that they will definitely get charged for such offence. Maybe they are bold in doing so because it is under the cover of the Town Council and nobody will be or can be disqualified for candidacy in coming General Elections for such fine to the Town Council.

I will support WP in this fight against the unjust law, not because I am a fan of WP or anything like that. It is because PAP is "playing cheat bully". It has manipulated the law and regulations to suit its political agenda and this is detrimental to Singapore's democratic development. Rule of Law must be upheld to effect a level playing field for ALL political parties.

The only thing regrettable here is that residents of Aljunied GRC may have to pay for such expensive court case if the team of seven lawyers engaged by WP is not doing this Pro-Bono. It is a bit lopsided to engage a team of seven lawyers to fight a case which only involve a maximum fine of $1000. Even if WP won this case, residents of Aljunied GRC would most probably still the biggest losers if they have to foot the bill of this team of seven lawyers.

I do not think WP can win this case in the court of law but it could well win in the court of public opinion. But apparently, the COST of this victory, is going to be very high for the residents of Aljunied GRC.

Freedom is not Free and it depends on who is going to pay for it.

Afternote: I have been informed that the Town Council does not need to pay the legal fees. Either the lawyers are doing Pro-Bono or someone else paid their fees. The following is what Sylvia Lim said:

Ms Lim told reporters outside the Subordinate Courts. "I would also like to clarify that the lawyers we have hired are from the same firm that I am associated with. We will not be touching any town council's funds to mount this defence. We will be raising funds from elsewhere. Neither me nor any Workers' Party members will have any share in any fees that are paid to the law firm."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PM Lee is a TOTAL Failure

A month or two prior to this National Day Rally (NDR) speech of PM Lee, there was much hype about it with rumours that "Major announcement" and Major changes will be made during his speech. But in the end, it is a total let down. Apparently, PM Lee has totally lost touch of the ground and didn't really know nor understand what is expected from him and his government by the people.

The THEME of this year's NDR is supposedly to be "Honouring Pioneer Generation" and retirement financing is inevitably the hottest topic in town after the numerous CPF protests held in Hong Lim Park earlier this year, along with PM Lee suing a blogger Roy Ngern over his CPF articles. A lot of CPF issues have been brought to light and public discourse has been ongoing but PM Lee has just done a cosmetic surgery on the whole lot of issues without addressing the REAL PROBLEMS of the inadequacy of CPF for retirement financing.

Is Singapore our HOME for our Retirement?

I have the opportunities to talk to two "Foreign Talents" with regards to their choice of place for retirement. They are regarded as the "upper middle class" people with very high earnings. One of them is Director M, who is a Regional Director of a MNC, Malaysian citizen. The other is Professor D, a lecturer and head of department from a university, Hong Konger.

Both of them are in their late forties or early fifties. Both of them were having a dilemma of whether they should get Singapore citizenship and retire in Singapore. They were discussing this with me a couple of years ago but this year, it seems that BOTH have concluded that they would rather retire in their respective country or city of birth. i.e. Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Both of them do not know each other but somehow, they have come to the same conclusion that it is best for them to retire in their respective home base. Director M has been a Singapore PR for decades but after learning about the horrendous HIGH COST of healthcare services in Singapore as compared to Malaysia, he has finally decided that it is totally not worth retiring in Singapore after all.

He has a relative who was on treatment for cancer in Malaysia and he only paid Malaysian Ringgit $50 for each jab of chemotherapy! Imagine how much it will cost in Singapore? Furthermore, cost of living in Malaysia is relatively much lower than Singapore! Thus, he has decided that, despite the fact that he is pretty wealthy, he still prefers to go back to Malaysia to retire and live like a King!

Similarly for Professor D. He felt that Hong Kong has excellent healthcare system which is TRULY affordable, unlike Singapore. He said that cost of living in Singapore is really on par if not higher than Hong Kong. There is no reason for him to migrate to Singapore to suffer HIGHER medical cost since it is expected that for an aging person like him, he would have needed more healthcare for the rest of his life.

It is truly enlightening to see that BOTH people from the "Third World" and "First World" places like Malaysia and Hong Kong are shunning Singapore for "retirement". But as Singaporeans, do we have a choice at all? We are born in Singapore and we have little choice but live, retire and die in Singapore. However, under PAP rule, we are going to suffer, after decades of contributing to Singapore's development, we will die poor, having to be forced to sell off our HDB flat for our retirement.

I guess the ultimate aim of PAP has been leaked before, they wanted us to retire in JB (Johor Bahru)!

Who is responsible for CPF's inadequacy?

No matter how much PAP is going to raise the Minimum Sum for CPF, the fact still remains, despite of a high CPF contribution rate over the decades, at least 70% of Singaporeans are not going to have enough money in CPF to meet their retirement needs. Why so?

There are three key reasons why CPF has failed for its primary purpose of retirement financing.

First of all, PAP has deliberately reduced the interest returns for CPF since 1990s to a marginal amount of 2.5% to 4%.

The Second reason is that PAP has increased HDB flat prices since 1980s and it went into full steam of escalating the prices in 1990s in the name of "Asset Enhancement Scheme". This is a plot to siphon off Singaporeans' money from CPF to Main Reserves through "Land Sales" or higher "Land Pricing" for HDB flats. Of course the "Market Subsidy Pricing" logic has helped PAP to escalate the HDB prices for this purpose.

Whatever is left in your CPF is "partitioned off" for Medisave. For this money, you will never see it unless you use it to cover the ever increasing medical cost or until the day you die. Else, it will stay in the Main Reserves and kept in GIC or Temasek Holdings for their investment. Make no mistake about it, no matter how PAP tries to side track or hide the fact, the truth is, part of the funds Temasek Holdings is investing comes from our CPF monies. The high healthcare cost, hospitalization cost accompanied by long waiting time for hospital beds will negate whatever money you have in your Medisave.

It is a kind of irony that PAP tries to make you feel good with "Asset Enhancement Scheme" in order to make you pay extraordinary high prices for a PUBLIC HOUSING flat which you do not really own in essence but in the end, turn around and corner you, forcing you when you are old to sell off your flat for your own retirement needs!

PAP is the MAIN Culprit in creating the situation of inadequate CPF for your retirement financing via their flawed policies in public housing, healthcare and investment returns from our sovereign funds. But in the end, instead of addressing these issues effectively, they turn around and say the best they can do is to help you to sell your HDB flat.

Well, imagine this, first they make you pay high price for your HDB flat and then they will force you to sell your flat cheap back to them for retirement. Or force you to downgrade to some overpriced studio apartment with a limited lease when you do not have enough money for retirement.

When you are old and don't have enough cash for retirement or to pay your medical fees and you think you can approach them for help, the first thing they will tell you and aim for, is to ask you to sell off your HDB flat! Never mind if you have some fond memories attached to your home but you have to sell off your HDB flat and no, they won't provide another cheap rental flat for you to live after you sell your HDB flat.

They will ask you to pay hefty and horrendous prices again, for a small studio apartment which will have only a 30 years lease. This will technically make the value of this studio apartment unattractive because no bank will make any mortgage loan to anyone to buy a property with only 20 or 30 years lease! There is absolutely no value for inheritance by your children even though you have paid a gross $70K or $80K for such studio apartment.

Yes, they will continue to squeeze every bits from you even when you are old, retired and without a job and this is done with such a beautiful name of wanting to help you with your retirement!

They have made up a beautiful empty dream of "Asset Enhancement" to make believe that you will be rich by paying horrendous prices for your HDB flats which technically, you don't really own it. You can't even re-mortgage it if you need to when you are short of cash for anything, least, retirement. So what this talk about "Asset Enhancement" when eventually, you will be forced to sell off every assets you have? Worse still, they pray on your greed but eventually your children and grandchildren will eventually be the ones who will suffer under high HDB prices!

Inadequate Hospital Care with Squeeze You further

My mother has suffered during one of the hospitalization saga. Due to over-population and shortage of infrastructures, there will be but a total lack of C class beds which "promised" a "market subsidy" price to Singaporeans. Imagine when you are so uncomfortably in pain but you are asked to wait more than 36 hours or even 48 hours for a proper bed in the ward, UNLESS you upgrade yourself to those "less subsidize" B1 or A class wards!

Avoiding to Solve the REAL Problems

If you look at the WHOLE picture closely, it is not difficult for you to realize that the main problem lies with the Sovereign Funds, aka GIC and Temasek Holdings. They are just like a HUGE MONEY VACUUM CLEANERS, sucking lots of money into it but not giving the appropriate returns to our CPF.

When PAP raise the HDB prices, it basically justify it by the "market pricing" of the land which your flats are built on. But bear in mind that most of these land are acquired at dirt cheap prices from our forefathers. All Land Sales proceeds via SLA will go into the Main reserves and thus our sovereign funds, GIC and Temasek. At the same time, our CPF monies are transferred to these two entities via the special Singapore government bonds as well, which give a pitiful returns to our people.

The only difference is that funds that acquired from selling HDB flats to Singaporeans will bear no "burden" on these Sovereign Funds to provide returns while the CPF monies via SSGB will require them to produce return. Thus, right from 1990s, they have capped the returns to our CPF monies while increased new HDB prices. It basically means that they are reducing their obligations of providing adequate returns to our CPF as a whole. They have systematically tweak the system and fooling us into believing they are doing good to us via "Asset Enhancement Scheme" and quietly reducing returns on our CPF.

For some strange reasons, it seems that this is just not enough for them. They have also systematically dragged on the period for these Sovereign Funds to give us back our CPF monies. First, Medisave has been created and whatever money you have in this account, you won't be able to see them in broad daylight till the day you die but only be "transferred" as digits into the big black hole of high medical cost you will face in life.

I believe they will try to make it a law that whatever inheritance your children will get from your CPF, including your Medisave, will be transferred to your children CPF accounts in the near future! They have already tried to tweak the system by introducing such similar mechanism into the CPF nomination scheme as "option" but I believe they will make it "opt-out" instead for those who didn't make clear of their intentions. It just reminds me of the HOTA legislation whereby an initial "volunteer option" of organ donation has become the default choice unless you opt out.

It seems to me that they are doing everything they can to feed these monsters (GIC and Temasek) with money and trying their very best to delay any payment and thus, cash outflow from these monsters.

I do not know why they are trying everything to keep the cash in these two Sovereign Funds but apparently if this is what they are striving for, there is no reason for them to solve the three problems of Inadequate CPF for retirement financing.

1) Low CPF returns
2) High HDB price
3) High Medical Cost

What needs to be done is simply:

1) Raise the CPF returns or liberalize the system to allow Singaporeans to invest their own funds in appropriate trust funds or even directly into Temasek and GIC! To get this work effectively, basic financial management skills should be taught in our schools. If most Singaporeans are to be proficient in managing their own funds, I do not see why we should just settle for that miserable 2.5% from CPF. They could even withdraw their CPF at age 55 and manage their own funds for their own retirement if they can prove their proficiency in financial management!

2) Change the HDB pricing mechanism to Cost-plus pricing system for New Flats. This will reduce BTO prices with minimum impact on resale market.

3) Public Hospitals should remain as Public, instead of thinking making money via Medical Tourism. There should only be one class of beds with REAL subsidies to citizens. A fair Universal Healthcare Insurance should be put in place.

There are many other things that need to be looked into. eg. The CPF Life Annuity system is really a joke. I do not know whether it is just another scheme for PAP to make money or what but the payout is definitely "profit-bias". This has been explained by many other bloggers in Singapore.

Nevertheless, to solve the inadequacy problem of CPF, PAP will have to look hard at these three fundamentals first. 


This is where PM Lee has failed badly. He thought he could hoodwink us with such small cosmetic surgery by allowing us to request (approval is not guaranteed!!!) to withdraw part of our CPF money at 65 years old and putting up some measures for us to reverse-mortgage or sell off our flats to solve the problems created by them, in terms of inadequate CPF for retirement financing. What PM Lee should do is to address these fundamental problems that are creating a huge gap in the adequacy of our CPF which is meant for our retirement financing. It is totally a joke for a country which has a mandatory contribution rate of 36% of our gross salary but in the end, we ended up with insufficient funds to finance our retirement and most of us will be forced to sell our flats for retirement!

But I guess Singaporeans are not that stupid at all. The fundamental question we want to ask is that, will PAP take up the responsibility of providing for those who can't have enough money for their retirement? This is especially a REAL problem for many Singaporeans because apart from the above 3 main problems created by PAP, its ultra-liberal FT policy has basically depressed Singaporeans' wages over these two decades and worse of all, displaced quite a number of Singaporeans from their proper jobs. Many professionals or PMETs were forced out by cheaper Foreign labour and have no choice, to become Taxi Drivers! This will add to the difficulties for these Singaporeans to have enough savings in their CPF to cater to their retirement needs.

All in all, I have basically lost confidence in PAP's manipulation of the whole system and this is why, I do not trust them at all. Not with my CPF money. Their past and present tweaking of the CPF, HDB and Healthcare systems, on top of it, the ultra-liberal FT policy, have basically made me skeptical about their real intentions.

My gut feeling is that there is a bigger problem in this whole system which is totally opaque to us. The only way to find out is to kick PAP out of power first.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Memory of Opposition Sage-Fighter - Goh Seng Soon

"The coffin is for the dead, not for old man". This is Seng Soon's pet-phrase. Today, his death has ironically confirmed his pet-phrase: he has to leave this world before he could drink that champagne which he has prepared for years.

Most probably to all those who are not in the field of opposition politics, or even to most of those who are in it, Goh Seng Soon is a stranger to them. However his contributions to Singapore's Democratic political development should not be ignored. He was one of the only 5 heavy weight members in Workers Party who were conferred as "Honorable Member" of the party. He was one of the very few political figures in Workers Party who has the most political acumen, wisdom and idealism. He was also one of the very few senior veterans in Workers Party who has claimed the Badge of ISD.

I have once said Mr. Low Thia Khiang is my initial political teacher, but I have never mentioned, Mr. Goh Seng Soon was however, my advanced political tutor and soul-mate. Along the lonely path of political struggle, I am really fortunate to meet such a good teacher and soul-mate.

To understand Goh Seng Soon's political course, we will have to start from Singapore's political exile and refugee, Tan Wah Piow's saga. Seng Soon was born in a poor family but he was a bright student who seek to take up part time diploma courses in pursue of a better paper qualification. In that era of active student movement, he has the opportunity to get to know Tan Wah Piow and other prominent student leaders of that time.

When former union leader and PAP's MP Phey Yew Kok framed, falsely incriminated and accused Tan Wah Piow of "rioting", Seng Soon became the key witness for Tan Wah Piow. When the said "riot" was happening, Seng Soon was just having coffee with Tan Wah Piow near the venue of the rioting. In the name of Justice, Seng Soon has chosen to fight against the unreasonable and rascal almighty bully all the way without any reservation. No matter how intimidating the opponents were in court, he fought them fearlessly. The crossing swords in court has created a rare excitement in Singapore's judiciary history, so much so that it has become the daily headlines of the then Chinese newspaper Nanyang Sang Pao for that duration. Seng Soon has repeatedly outmaneuvered the Deputy Public Prosecutor that he ended up flipping his tie over his shoulder in frustration!.

Seng Soon admired Tan Wah Piow's talents and he admitted that he has learned a lot from Wah Piow in debating skills and leadership. In view of Wah Piow's talents, Seng Soon believed that Lee Kuan Yew would definitely find every means to get rid of him if possible. This was basically the reason why all of them believed that Tan Wah Piow has to run road, else he would definitely be dead.

When the verdict of injustice came to put Tan Wah Piow into jail for 1 year, Seng Soon stood right outside the courtroom's door and told the reporters, "I guess I will not be going home today". Indeed, he was mentally prepared to be arrested by LKY's ISD. True enough, the ISD agents were waiting for him right outside the court building! He was detained by ISD without trial for more than 4 months. When they gave him the "cold shower" in the detention centre, he retaliated by throwing hot coffee at them and even wanted to beat them up. When they tried to force confession out of him of being Communist, he told them he belonged to the LARGEST PARTY in the world, the Rice Bowl Party. His unyielding and dauntless attitude has left a great impression till today, only that he has left us now. However, being kept in captive by these bullies would inevitably mean that he would be tortured by them. Such humiliation has been unforgettable and unforgivable to Seng Soon. This was basically the fundamental reason for the deep-seated hatred Seng Soon had against the LKY-PAP regime. He has even named his dog "HARRY", the Christian name of Lee Kuan Yew, to vent his anger. Lee Kuan Yew has thus become his "sly fox".

Initially, Lee regime wanted to send Tan Wah Piow to army training immediately after his release from prison. However, after a strong protest from the student unions, Lee regime finally relented and agreed to allow Tan Wah Piow to go back home to visit his family members for a day. Lee regime has sent ISD agents to follow Tan Wah Piow everywhere he went on that day but luckily, with the help of Seng Soon and his friends, Tan Wah Piow managed to do a disappearance act and escaped from the agents' surveillance. After hiding for months, he managed to leave Singapore safely. Seng Soon became the unsung strategist of his escape.

Seng Soon lost his opportunity of higher education due to his involvement in the student movement and activism. Ibelieve that if he were to have the opportunity to further his studies, his achievements would be very much greater than it is now. Although he lacked the opportunity of acquiring a proper higher education but he was able to become Consultant, in his own merits, for a wooden plank factory in Indonesia as well as high class restaurant etc. in Singapore over his lifetime.

Politically, his contributions at the back scene cannot be ignored. Even though in his whole life, he has only participated in one General Elections in 1988, but in that battle, PAP has activated almost all its heavy weights to support its candidate in Chua Chu Kang SMC! These heavy weights included Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, former DPM and President Ong Teng Cheong, current President Tony Tan etc. Despite of such great showing from these PAP heavy weights, he was still able to garner 40.7% in that 1988 GE. The reason why Lee Kuan Yew was so concerned and nervous about Goh Seng Soon's participation in the elections was because if he ever got elected into parliament, they would be facing an opponent more formidable and "troublesome" than JB Jeyaratnam himself!

Even after Seng Soon stood down from frontline politics, he was still very influential within the party. He has helped out with Mr. Low Thia Khiang's grassroot activities during the foundation years and had contributed his time, effort and money on various occasions and activities. He was pivotal and critical in the progress of getting Low Thia Khiang to replace JBJ as Secretary General and undoubtedly, was credited as the most important man behind WP's move towards a totally new era from then on. He has also acted as the treasurer of the party, one of the more important position in the party CEC. He was also the Election Agent of Dr Poh Lee Guan during the 2001 General Elections.

During this elections in 2001, the authorities had created a lot of issues for the Workers Party but Seng Soon was ever ready to engage in the battle of wits and courage with them. In facing the various deliberate unreasonable difficulties created by the police, Seng Soon was always able to collect all evidences and fight if off with the police officers with full confidence. Whenever the police wanted to make things difficult for him, he would put up with a cunning smile and walk off as if nothing happens. This has confused the police until they didn't know what to do with him. In the end, the top police officers in the Ang Mo Kio Police Station were said to be so afraid of him and would avoid him at all cost. It was such an unforgettable terrible experience with Seng Soon that they have given him a nickname, "The Devil from Workers Party"!

In the past, for almost every Sunday, Seng Soon would pay out of his own pocket to prepare appreciation luncheon for those Workers Party members who had gone for Hammer Sales all around Singapore in the morning. After lunch, they would sit down together and count the intake for the Hammer sales on that day. This also provided the opportunity for members to chit chat and enhanced comradeship among themselves. Once the URA called him up and claimed that he has contravened the rules of private residency by carrying out "political activities" in his private flat and they wanted an explanation from him! As usual, Seng Soon was so calm and steady, did not even show any bit of anger when he visited URA. He just left them a simple statement, "If you think I am in the wrong, please sue me in court!", gave them that cunning smile and then just left URA with the staffs stunned. URA was shocked and didn't know what to do with him! Actually, it was only Seng Soon's style to always be prepared for such incidents. He has long collected newspaper cuttings as evidence that PAP leaders had told the press that they had once had a very important meeting at one of the senior leader's house to make a very important decision. If URA was to sue him for breaching the law, then this senior leader must have broken the law as well! Luckily URA didn't take any action against Seng Soon else the veteran senior leaders of PAP would face great embarrassment if they were to be taken to court as well!

Seng Soon was never a power crazy politician. When Workers Party was able to find enough young people to take over important roles in the CEC, he took the initiative to ask to step down from CEC when the election of new CEC was due. However, this doesn't mean that he didn't care for WP' development anymore. On the contrary, up to the very last days of his life, he was still worried about the development of Workers Party.

Among all opposition members, Goh Seng Soon could be considered as a rare species. He has an extra-ordinary huge network in Singapore and he was definitely one of the smartest strategist among the veterans. He could analyse and determine the truth of political reality with his Theory of Relativity and logic. Nothing was too complex to be solved by him. Regrettably, he has left before he could accomplish what he has set out to do.

Although I have learned quite a lot of things with regards to politics and diplomacy from Seng Soon, but I didn't dare to consider myself as his "disciple" because I have not gone through that proper formality. He has a totally different view of this student who was considered by many people as "traitor of Workers Party". In the face of overwhelming WP members' hostility towards me, he was still willing to regard me as one of his soul mates and best friends. I am very touched by the trust he has in me. For some ultra-sensitive information which he would refrain from sharing with his WP comrades, he has shared with me unreservedly. Our mutual trust was built on the fact that we have come to acknowledge that we were both on the same path, we have the common goals and common idealism. He has shown understanding that my criticisms of WP were all made based on the premise of enhancing a better progress and development for Democracy. His only complain to me was that my actions or criticisms of WP has put him in a very difficult spot among his WP comrades. However, he still hoped that I could return to WP. He has encouraged me and even wanted to try every means to put me back into WP. But I have subtly and tactfully put such suggestions into cold storage. Deep down my heart, I was very grateful for his good intentions but I didn't dare to tell him, without me, Workers Party will not die, but if I returned to Workers Party, I will definitely perished!

How many soul mates can one meet in a lifetime? It is even rarer still for a political soul mate. In this lonely political path of mine, Seng Soon was the only political soul mate whom I could have perfect genuine meeting of minds and souls, spoke freely about anything and everything, mutual respect, looked out for each other...etc. He used to joke frequently that he has achieved the status of "Political Sage Fighter", one who have both the wisdom and valor while I was just a "Political Fox"! This was because he was always circumspect and farsighted, could always foretell with divine accuracy in political matters. What he set to do, he would always accomplish it. However, the unexpected had happened and he has lost quite badly in his last battle of his life, in full regret. Now, I am left even more lonely in this path of politics.

The passing of Goh Seng Soon is definitely a great loss to opposition politics. To the Workers Party at this critical juncture of democratic development, such loss is definitely a huge blow to it. As for me, it is emotionally totally unbearable.

For now, I only hope that my teacher, Seng Soon, will have a smooth journey to heaven. You have such little regrets in life, no big deal and you shouldn't be bothered at all. I hope that my little eulogy here could well put your extraordinary life on record of Singapore political history by summing up your contributions to our political development in this life. I sincerely hope that we shall meet again to continue our friendship in next life. Please Rest In Peace.

In Mourning,

Goh Meng Seng

Saturday, August 09, 2014

悼一代政枭 -- 吴成顺

“棺材是装死人的,不是装老人的” 这是成顺经常挂在口边的口头禅。今天,这也印证了他这句话,他始终不能喝他那已准备已久的香槟,而先走一步了。


我曾经说过刘程强先生是我的政治启蒙老师,但我没说的是,吴成顺先生却是我的政治导师与知己 。在这孤独的政治道路上能有个良师益友,是非常难得的。




原本李氏政权想在陈华彪出狱后就马上把他押到军营里去受军训。在当时的学生会强烈抗议下,也只好给他出狱后一天的时间回家探望家人。当时李氏政权出动了内安部ISD人员到处跟踪陈华彪,幸好有成顺这班朋友帮他出了“金蝉脱壳” 之计,才能逃脱爪牙的跟踪,辗转逃离了新加坡。成顺因此成了幕后的无名军师。




以往成顺还会自费在几乎每个星期天准备好午餐,以好慰劳在早上到全岛各处去卖党报活动的工人党党员。饭后,大家就一起算好那一天卖报所得,也以此为党员联谊,聊天。有一次, 市重建局竟然找他麻烦,说他违反了私人住宅条例,在他的私人房子里“进行政治活动”而要他到市重建局解释!成顺也就如他一惯的作风,不慌不忙,也不动气的到市重建局,只抛下了冷冷的一句,“如果你们觉得我错了,请到法庭去告我吧!”,然后依旧给了他那见之丧胆的阴笑,走了。市重建局竟然被他吓得不知所措!其实以成顺的性格,他肯定是有备而来的。他早已经收集了报章的报导,行动党的大老们曾经自己自爆说,他们是在其中一位元老家里开完政治会议,而做出了某个重要政治决定的。所以如果成顺在他家里慰劳党员算是政治活动,那么在行动党党员家里开政治会议,做出政治决定,也必定是违法了!幸好市重建局那时没有对成顺采取任何行动,要不然行动党的元老级人物可要糗大了!

















Majulah Singapura

Good Morning Singapore. Happy National Day... even though I do not think there is anything worth being Happy about when our Prime Minister still wants us to sell our HDB flats to finance our retirement and this would mean that they will have to maintain HDB's prices as high as possible and in the end, our future generations will suffer even more under such high HDB pricing.

One would have thought that PAP has learned the painful lesson of losing Aljunied GRC due to the hot HDB issue from GE 2011 but no, apparently, they are still stuck with "Sell our flat for retirement" model.

CPF is of course linked to HDB pricing and I am sure by now, everyone is talking about the inadequacy of CPF for retirement financing, mostly due to past high HDB pricing initiated by "Asset Enhancement Scheme" way back in 1990s. But yet, PM Lee wants us to feel "at ease" and reassure us that we can possibly retire by selling off our HDB flats!

I am totally disgusted by such suggestion, especially from the ruling elites of PAP who have been paid obscene amount of salaries for the past decades and do not understand how it feels to be "forced" to sell off their "HOME" for retirement. Our HDB flat is our HOME, not an investment. PAP ruling elites don't even understand this.

I foresee that HDB prices will be pushed up so high in order for such "sell your flat for retirement" that younger generations can no longer afford. When they are forced to stay with their aging parents because they can't afford to buy their own HDB flats, how could their parents sell their HDB flats for retirement without affecting their children?

PAP is just kicking the can of big problem down the road without much consideration. They are going to destroy Singapore's future if they got their ways in making this a reality. We and our future generations will be forever enslaved by such a system created by them.

It is our National Day today but PM Lee's message has made my heart sank with great anger. After last GE in 2011, I thought I have succeeded in bringing forth the evils of high HDB prices and the underlying bad deal PAP has made for us, selling our HOME for retirement but I was wrong. All those PAP's cosmetic changes they tried to make is just an attempt to make belief that they have "changed" but deep down, they have not.

It is with a deep sadden heart I am forced to reconsider the option of stepping back into active partisan politics. I am very reluctant to make such considerations because I am living a happy life ever since I went into political sabbatical in 2012. There have been quite a number of invites and persuasions by many people over the years, to ask me to return into active partisan political engagement but I resisted.

In the past years, I have seen quite a number of veteran politicians passed away with unfulfilled dreams and idealism. I always live my life without much regrets. I always believe I have fulfilled what I have set out to do but somehow, I was proven wrong by PM Lee. It makes me think whether I will die of regrets of unfulfilled dreams and ideals.

Recently, someone I regard as my political tutor and close friend for the past decade, has fallen very ill. Witnessing him struggling and fighting death made me feel guilty. He knows he has an unaccomplished political mission, unfulfilled dream and he has to fight on, to stay alive for at least another few years. He is not afraid of death but dying is just too easy for him to get away from his unfinished business.

A dilemma for this National Day. Should I just walk away and enjoy in what I am doing now or bear the burden of the unfinished business of getting things right for Singapore? To be or not to be... Majula Singapura

Goh Meng Seng

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:


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?


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