Thursday, July 07, 2016

Politicians and Good Governance

We all know Good Governance cannot be taken for granted. Beside having a good, competent, clean, effective and efficient civil service, we also need politicians to become the political leaders who will lead and give the right directions for the civil service and country to move forward.

On the surface, we demand high morality, competent, knowledgeable, not only intelligent but WISE people with a certain level of empathy to be our political leaders. Even with such political leadership, we still need a system of institutions designed with a clear separation of powers so that REAL Democratic Checks and Balances could be effected.

One of the strong narrative of PAP which has ruled Singapore over 50 years, is its ability to find good, clean, competent people with high morality to become its MPs and Ministers. They claim to have high standards when it comes to selection of their candidates for each and every General Elections. They would immediately remove any MP or Minister once character flaws or other critical flaws were found in their slate of candidates.

In maintaining their "Whiter than White" narrative, they have removed two MPs, one of them who was the Speaker of Parliament, immediately after they were found to have extra-marital affairs.

However, morality is more than having indiscretion in their personal relationship. For example, would you consider people who abuse their workers or domestic helpers immoral? Would you consider a person using all means to get other people into trouble just because he doesn't like them, as immoral? Or someone who helps a big bad guy to bully others who are from the vulnerable groups, knowing that he is really the bad guy but did it for money's sake, as immoral?

Immoral issues may not be "illegal" but it just doesn't appear to be just or right to our own conscience. You can do things in all legitimate way but lacks the morality conscience.

In politics, it is simply not easy to find anyone with unrighteous mind, morally principled and yet, competent and effective. Thus, most of the time, political parties including PAP, may just compromise on the quality on the morality of the person they chose.

Lawyers are presumably the "Natural" candidates to become Politicians because the most important role of a politician is law-making. And lawyers are presumed to be people who have high values in upholding justice, social justice or otherwise, and should be highly principled when it come Human Rights and Civil Rights issues. They are normally seen to be fighters and defenders of Justice, Rule of Law, Human Rights and of course SOCIAL Justice. And lawyers are supposed to have the necessary oratory skills which politicians depended heavily upon to win votes.

Thus, in modern history of politics, there were lots of lawyers who become politicians, some become GREAT politicians like Gandhi. In Singapore's context, we also have numerous politicians both in PAP and opposition camp, who are lawyers. 

However, not ALL lawyers are "good" lawyers with conscience.Some would defend the crooks, rich and powerful for their wrong doings or even help these people to bully other people, just for the extremely high fees these people would pay them.

But we would expect lawyers who chose to become politicians to walk the righteous path of defending the weak, fighting the unjust and upholding the justice, including social justice, without fear nor favor.

It would be pretty challenging for lawyer-politician to strike that delicate balance between their profession and their political work. There are "political incorrect" cases which they should avoid even if they are monetarily rewarding.

Despite of the general cynicism of lawyers are most of the time "liars", they will have to be mindful that they do not lie or do anything which may be legitimate but morally wrong or against basic human conscience.

Avoiding controversial case is normally the first rule that lawyer-politician should adhere to. However we have witnessed PAP lawyer-MPs sometimes get themselves into controversial cases. It is true that by the spirit of justice, even crooks have their rights to legal representation. But sometimes it is the manner which the lawyer conduct their defence that would reflect badly for themselves. Furthermore, as a politician who is supposed to uphold social justice, helping the weak and vulnerable, it would NOT augur well if the lawyer-politician chose to defend crooks to avoid punishment from law for their bad deeds.

 My late brother David, had the chance to study law and become lawyer while he was young. But he declined the offer and forgo his opportunity to university education because he felt that if he became a lawyer, he might have do something against his own good conscience in future. Of course, he didn't choose to become politician either but that shows the kind of dilemma a morally upright person like my late brother may have about legal practice.

This should be even more so for those lawyer-politician because you cannot promise Good Governance when you are sly, dirty and use unethical methods to help crooks to get away from justice or simply bully others. The inherent contradictions are just too glaring to ignore.

So far, I have not heard or seen PAP setting up a Code of Conscience and Moral Conduct to its MPs which may link to their professional jobs outside politics. And after witnessing some of the things they do in their professional life, it makes me wonder how "Good Governance" could be achieved by PAP with the bunch of people it has.



Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

PPP Press Statement: Defective Trains from China – More than what meets the eyes.



Defective Trains from China – More than what meets the eyes.

People’s Power Party is shocked to read all the various reports that have come in with regards to the 26 defective trains out of 35 trains which SMRT and LTA have purchased from the consortium comprised of Japanese company Kawasaki Heavy Industries Rolling Stock Company and CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd.

We demand answers for the following concerns which involved public safety and interest from LTA and SMRT:

1)      According to the report by Hong Kong Factwire, SMRT has suspected that the massive breakdown in December 2011 was caused by these new trains delivered from China. That was the reason why progressive payment from SMRT was slowed down and the subcontractors suffered cashflow problem. It was also said that SMRT has reduced the frequency of the schedule of these new trains from China after that incident in December 2011. We demand a response from SMRT on the validity of this report and if so, why it was not raised in the committee of inquiry which was held to find out the root cause of the breakdown then?

2)      LTA has admitted that structural cracks have been found in these new trains since 2013. We demand an explanation from LTA and SMRT why would they continue to order more trains from the consortium in 2014 and subsequently in 2015, amounting to a total of over 100 trains, after they have found an unusually high defective rate of 74% out of the first batch of 35?

3)      According to records of court proceeding launched in China with regards to the labour dispute between CSR Sifang and its former employee in 2013, the former employee has stated in the affidavit that CSR Sifang has deliberately fabricated test data results and reports in 2010. Was SMRT and LTA aware of such accusations? Did SMRT and LTA send their own engineers or independent Quality Control personnel to perform or audit the various tests? Did SMRT and LTA carry out any due diligence on quality checks before these trains were shipped to Singapore?

4)      It was also reported that these trains offered by the Kawasaki – Sifang consortium was not of the lowest bid. The lowest bid was offered by a Korean company. The pertinent question is why would SMRT and LTA chose to buy from the Kawasaki Sifang consortium which was more expensive but provided sub-standard quality products? Did SMRT and LTA do any due diligence on their quality test statistics before deciding to buy from this consortium? 

5)      74% defective rate is totally unacceptable by any standards. Did SMRT and LTA punish the supplier and consortium by any means? Was there any performance bond submitted by the Consortium in the first place?

6)      In view of the fact that there are several doubts and accusation of fabrication of vital quality test results with higher bidding price coupled with poor quality products, PPP urge the Corruption Practice Investigation Bureau to start a thorough investigation into the procurement process as this involved hundreds of million dollars of public money. 

7)      Concurrently, an independent Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry consisting of opposition MPs and external independent experts should be convened to investigate the SMRT and LTA should be stopped from procuring any trains from this Consortium before the findings of the COI has completed. Ministry of Transport and LTA have opined that the cracks found are not “safety critical”. However, we find their assertion lacks credibility and we should no longer believe in PAP government’s “ownself check ownself” model of governance. The COI should determine whether there is any negligence or dereliction of duties by the various parties in the procurement process and whether public safety has been compromised by these defective trains. 

8)      Last but not least, as a public listed company, SMRT should be censured for trying to hide such vital information of the defective trains from the general public. Transparency and accountability are two key important factors in upholding public confidence in a company like SMRT which is providing vital public transportation service. It is totally unacceptable for institutions like Singapore General Hospital or SMRT which provides critical vital public services to continue to operate in such an opaque and irresponsible manner. We demand accountability from the respective leadership for such mismanagement of public services.


Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
For CEC

PPP Press Statement: Defective Trains from China – More than what meets the eyes.



Defective Trains from China – More than what meets the eyes.

People’s Power Party is shocked to read all the various reports that have come in with regards to the 26 defective trains out of 35 trains which SMRT and LTA have purchased from the consortium comprised of Japanese company Kawasaki Heavy Industries Rolling Stock Company and CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd.

We demand answers for the following concerns which involved public safety and interest from LTA and SMRT:

1)      According to the report by Hong Kong Factwire, SMRT has suspected that the massive breakdown in December 2011 was caused by these new trains delivered from China. That was the reason why progressive payment from SMRT was slowed down and the subcontractors suffered cashflow problem. It was also said that SMRT has reduce the frequency of the schedule of these new trains from China after that incident in December 2011. We demand a response from SMRT on the validity of this report and if so, why it was not raised in the committee of inquiry which was held to find out the root cause of the breakdown then?

2)      LTA has admitted that structural cracks have been found in these new trains since 2013. We demand an explanation from LTA and SMRT why would they continue to order more trains from the consortium in 2014 and subsequently in 2015, amounting to a total of over 100 trains, after they have found an unusually high defective rate of 74% out of the first batch of 35?

3)      According to records of court proceeding launched in China with regards to the labour dispute between CSR Sifang in 2013, the former employee has stated in the affidavit that CSR Sifang has deliberately fabricated test data results and reports in 2010. Was SMRT and LTA aware of such accusations? Did SMRT and LTA send their own engineers or independent Quality Control personnel to perform or audit the various tests? Did SMRT and LTA carry out any due diligence on quality checks before these trains were shipped to Singapore?

4)      It was also reported that these trains offered by the Kawasaki – Sifang consortium was not of the lowest bid. The lowest bid was offered by a Korean company. The pertinent question is why would SMRT and LTA chose to buy from the Kawasaki Sifang consortium which was more expensive but provided sub-standard quality products? Did SMRT and LTA do any due diligence on their quality test statistics before deciding to buy from this consortium? 

5)      74% defective rate is totally unacceptable by any standards. Did SMRT and LTA punish the supplier and consortium by any means? Was there any performance bond submitted by the Consortium in the first place?

6)      In view of the fact that there are several doubts and accusation of fabrication of vital quality test results with higher bidding price coupled with poor quality products, PPP urge the Corruption Practice Investigation Bureau to start a thorough investigation into the procurement process as this involved hundreds of million dollars of public money. 

7)      Concurrently, an independent Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry consisting of opposition MPs and external independent experts should be convened to investigate the SMRT and LTA should be stopped from procuring any trains from this Consortium before the findings of the COI has completed. Ministry of Transport and LTA have opined that the cracks found are not “safety critical”. However, we find their assertion lacks credibility and we should no longer believe in PAP government’s “ownself check ownself” model of governance. The COI should determine whether there is any negligence or dereliction of duties by the various parties in the procurement process and whether public safety has been compromised by these defective trains. 

8)      Last but not least, as a public listed company, SMRT should be censured for trying to hide such vital information of the defective trains from the general public. Transparency and accountability are two key important factors in upholding public confidence in a company like SMRT which is providing vital public transportation service. It is totally unacceptable for institutions like Singapore General Hospital or SMRT which provides critical vital public services to continue to operate in such an opaque and irresponsible manner. We demand accountability from the respective leadership for such mismanagement of public services.


Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
For CEC

PPP Press Statement: Defective Trains from China – More than what meets the eyes.



Defective Trains from China – More than what meets the eyes.

People’s Power Party is shocked to read all the various reports that have come in with regards to the 26 defective trains out of 35 trains which SMRT and LTA have purchased from the consortium comprised of Japanese company Kawasaki Heavy Industries Rolling Stock Company and CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd.

We demand answers for the following concerns which involved public safety and interest from LTA and SMRT:

1)      According to the report by Hong Kong Factwire, SMRT has suspected that the massive breakdown in December 2011 was caused by these new trains delivered from China. That was the reason why progressive payment from SMRT was slowed down and the subcontractors suffered cashflow problem. It was also said that SMRT has reduce the frequency of the schedule of these new trains from China after that incident in December 2011. We demand a response from SMRT on the validity of this report and if so, why it was not raised in the committee of inquiry which was held to find out the root cause of the breakdown then?

2)      LTA has admitted that structural cracks have been found in these new trains since 2013. We demand an explanation from LTA and SMRT why would they continue to order more trains from the consortium in 2014 and subsequently in 2015, amounting to a total of over 100 trains, after they have found an unusually high defective rate of 74% out of the first batch of 35?

3)      According to records of court proceeding launched in China with regards to the labour dispute between CSR Sifang in 2013, the former employee has stated in the affidavit that CSR Sifang has deliberately fabricated test data results and reports in 2010. Was SMRT and LTA aware of such accusations? Did SMRT and LTA send their own engineers or independent Quality Control personnel to perform or audit the various tests? Did SMRT and LTA carry out any due diligence on quality checks before these trains were shipped to Singapore?

4)      It was also reported that these trains offered by the Kawasaki – Sifang consortium was not of the lowest bid. The lowest bid was offered by a Korean company. The pertinent question is why would SMRT and LTA chose to buy from the Kawasaki Sifang consortium which was more expensive but provided sub-standard quality products? Did SMRT and LTA do any due diligence on their quality test statistics before deciding to buy from this consortium? 

5)      74% defective rate is totally unacceptable by any standards. Did SMRT and LTA punish the supplier and consortium by any means? Was there any performance bond submitted by the Consortium in the first place?

6)      In view of the fact that there are several doubts and accusation of fabrication of vital quality test results with higher bidding price coupled with poor quality products, PPP urge the Corruption Practice Investigation Bureau to start a thorough investigation into the procurement process as this involved hundreds of million dollars of public money. 

7)      Concurrently, an independent Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry consisting of opposition MPs and external independent experts should be convened to investigate the SMRT and LTA should be stopped from procuring any trains from this Consortium before the findings of the COI has completed. Ministry of Transport and LTA have opined that the cracks found are not “safety critical”. However, we find their assertion lacks credibility and we should no longer believe in PAP government’s “ownself check ownself” model of governance. The COI should determine whether there is any negligence or dereliction of duties by the various parties in the procurement process and whether public safety has been compromised by these defective trains. 

8)      Last but not least, as a public listed company, SMRT should be censured for trying to hide such vital information of the defective trains from the general public. Transparency and accountability are two key important factors in upholding public confidence in a company like SMRT which is providing vital public transportation service. It is totally unacceptable for institutions like Singapore General Hospital or SMRT which provides critical vital public services to continue to operate in such an opaque and irresponsible manner. We demand accountability from the respective leadership for such mismanagement of public services.


Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
For CEC

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ineffective MRT Sound Barriers

In land scarce cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, it is inevitable that we will have to build our rail system in extremely close proximity to our housing estates or flats.

It is important that we take a serious view of the noise pollution of the subway/MRT that will cause health problem in the long term.

In 2011 GE, while my team was contesting in Tampines, we have raised the issue of health hazard due to the close proximity of the MRT rail built next to the various HDB flats, especially those in Tampines.

After the GE, SMRT started their so call "noise barrier" experiment but is it effective? Is it the right kinds of Sound barriers needed to reduce the noise from the track sufficiently?

I present my photo essay here on the inadequacy of MRT's "noise barriers"

I have put up an example of how Hong Kong MTR design their Sound barrier as compared to Singapore SMRT.




This photo shows the MTR system in Hong Kong. Arrow A points to the Covered Sound Barrier which it has built when the track is built close to the flat.

Arrow B is the strain station which is build underneath the housing estate, noise completely blocked from above.

This is the most effective Sound barrier.


This is the Sound Barrier built by Singapore SMRT. Observe how close the track is built next to the HDB flat. But the sound barrier is really pathetic.

First, unlike the HK sound barrier, it did not cover the whole track from top to bottom. Secondly, it is not even high enough to be effective! This is because sound will bouce off from the train and it will bounce off towards the flat.

At the very least, the Sound Barrier has to be as high as the train itself! It is a sloppy ineffective design.
 

Look at the whole straetch of rail sitting next to the flats but no Sound Barriers built.

It is a common sight that MRT tracks cut through HDB estates with BOTH sides populated with HDB flats.

We do not know how many such Sound Barriers have been built as they have promised.MRT has just quietly stop mentioning about their ineffective Sound Barrier experiment altogether!



It is surprisng that even those who live in private condominiums suffered the same fate but yet, they didn't make noise or demand for proper Sound Barriers to be built!

The issue of building effective Sound Barriers to MRT tracks as well as Expressway is NOT new. I have raised it several times in this blog since 2004.

Goh Meng Seng

Best Wishes to Finance Minister Mr. Heng Swee Kiat

When my brother passed away during the 2011 GE, Mr Heng Swee Kiat paid a visit during his wake while we were contesting against each other. It was a good gesture.

We may stand on the different sides of the political field but our contest is for the future of Singapore. Nothing personal.

Best Wishes to Mr. Heng. I hope he could overcome his current medical conditions and has a speedy recovery.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Critical 10%

The Critical 10%

Well, it has been an interesting day with the expected backlash pouring out. While many opposition supporters and members always cry foul about how the Main Stream Media distorted opposition members' messages by putting up sensational headlines, it seems that many opposition supporters and online media are also 100% capable of doing so as well. ;)

Many anxious friends have expressed concerns to me privately as well as many have expressed quiet support in private messages. But that's the part and parcel of opposition politics.

Apart from all these chest banging and angry shouting, very few actually bother about the rationale behind my article. Maybe I am unable to express clearly and I apologize for that.

Almost none of the hardcore opposition members have asked the intelligent question on why 40% is so important? But definitely they have shown one united trait of labeling people like me who didn't sing their tune as "PAP mole". Well, again, I guess they must have learned from PAP in doing fast labeling work. ;)

I have read Ravi Philemon write up and also some others who try to justify how good SDP DR Chee is by making comparison between the "vote swing percentage" and putting up statistics as such. Vote swing percentage comparison was made between Punggol East By-elections and Bukit Batok By-elections and they declare BBBE is as good as PEBE!

Statistics has to be used very carefully with the context of data. Making such comparison is assuming that the difficulties of converting or swinging the votes at different levels are the same. This is a flawed assumption.

Let me put across this point. Do you think a candidate is great if he is able to swing from 12% votes to 30%? A whopping 18% swing. Is this 18% swing comparable to the 18% swing from 40% to 58%?

Of course not. The context of the data is that the hardcore opposition votes constitute about 30%. The next 10% from 30% to 40% are the opposition sympathizers. The next CRITICAL 10% from 40% to 50% are the neutrals.

To swing from 12% to 30% is nothing compared to a swing of 10% from 30% to 40%! And to swing from 40% to 50% is the MOST difficult because as we get nearer to the 50% point, the voters are neutrals who are white leaning.

Thus we cannot compare the swing of BBBE from 26% to 39% as the same of PEBE swing of 41% to 54%. The level of difficulty is totally different.

The CRITICAL 10%, which is from 40% to 50%, are the most difficult group of voters for opposition to swing and win over. Dr Chee has never crossed 40% and it shows that he has been rejected by this Critical 10% of neutrals consistently.

It may not be entirely his fault as this could be due to the successful PAP smearing but the cruel reality is, he just couldn't get pass that barrier for all his 25 years of opposition political engagement.

To understand why, we must look at how PAP's smearing convinced this group of voters. Don't pass judgement on whether they are right or wrong but these are the messages that the Critical 10% accepted. PAP has portrayed Chee as untrustworthy, lack sincerity and credibility. The Chiam baggage is the biggest convincing factor. Whether we like it or not, the Critical 10% has believed in these messages and voted against Chee.

Thus, if Chee continued in what he is doing right now, without getting rid of the Chiam baggage and its impact, there is no way Chee could get higher votes or win any elections.

Listen to this Critical 10% who are mostly silent. No matter how the 39% of opposition supporters protest, shout, angry or mock at the whole thing, the fact still remains, without the endorsement of this Critical 10%, we will always be the disgruntled and dismay 39%.

If you read my earlier article carefully, I said Chee should take a back seat. Contrary to many people who jump at first sight of what I have written, I fell short of asking Chee to quit politics altogether. He could put more energy in earning and giving his family a better life but at the same time, support whoever the new leadership to bring SDP to greater heights.

In fact, if he is willing to do that, he may just dispel all those PAP smearing about him being power crazy, insincere whatsoever etc. If he chose to contest again next GE, not as the SG of SDP but as a reformed and self redeemed politician under SDP banner, he might cross that 40% or even move towards a victory.

The best way to win over the Critical 10% is to listen to what PAP has been trying to tell them. Hardcore opposition supporters may sneer at these messages but we must understand that this has always been PAP's success formula in convincing that Critical 10%. Don't pass judgement too quickly and understand why the Critical 10% believe in PAP's messages.

If SDP DR Chee and all of us only listen to the ranting and shouting of hardcore opposition supporters, we will lose sight of what really matters to our political battle, the Critical 10%. These are part of the so call "Silent Majority".

Goh Meng Seng

P.S.

I have enough of the attacks by the "MOB" but really, when they start to rant without reasoning, I ask myself do they really understand opposition politics is just not about them. The cult like behavior of these people sometimes makes me wonder whether our education system has failed so badly. Or we are just too far off from the proper development of Democracy. It is really something for me to ponder about.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Reflections on Bukit Batok By Elections

Reflections on Bukit Batok By Elections

Right from the start, the deal looks just too good to be true. Nobody has talked about David Ong's scandalous affairs but PAP imploded the issue on their own accord.

Curiously, Bukit Batok was just carved out from Jurong GRC during last GE2015. Then, PAP announced quickly that it will be sending an Indian candidate who had contested in Aljunied GRC to become its candidate for this BE.

It is just ALL TOO PERFECT and a GOOD deal for any aspiring opposition politician. Dream conditions BEST ever to happen in Singapore's context.

A By-Elections due to PAP scandal, opponent is a minority candidate in a dominantly Conservative Chinese ground.

My first instinct is, this is just too good to be true. PAP isn't that generous and its track record has shown that it is a petty and vindictive political party. Thus, the only logical deduction or conclusion is that, this must be a trap bait.

Well, whatever it is, we decided NOT to have multi-corner fight as an opposition. But under such suspicious circumstances, I also believe that we shall practice caution.

I checked on the demography of BB and found that it has an exceptionally high proportion of Indian voters. (It has 11% Indian voters.)  It is no wonder PAP is willing to field an Indian candidate. Well, isn't this ironic for PAP to accuse SDP of practicing "Racial politics"?



It would be PERFECT if SDP has sent Prof Paul Tambaya as its candidate because he will be effective in contesting the same group of voters against Murali.

Bukit Batok had a love hate relationship with SDP. It used to support SDP strongly back in the late 1988 and 1991 GEs when SDP was under the leadership of Chiam. However, it is also precisely due to this linkage to SDP, it has turned against SDP when Chiam left SDP under ugly circumstances/parting.

Thus my initial assessment is that Dr Chee is not exactly the right candidate to contest in BB due to this past baggage. It would be great if Prof Paul is fielded by SDP instead and he would surely have a fighting chance to win when he is short of such past political baggage. This was the basis of my first statement on this By-elections. If Paul is to contest, I will personally campaign on the ground for him because there would really be fighting chance to win.

But SDP has decided to field Chee. With due respect, I would think that this is really a strategic mistake. SDP and Chee is basically "showing hand" in this BE, without a proper assessment of the chances of winning.

True enough, the past baggage of Chiam came back to bite Chee. Whether we like it or not, this dagger is sharp and went deep down right into Chee's heart.

To be fair, SDP has a fantastic and wonderful team of back room operation team. It has run the logistics and media machinery very well. This is the real strength of SDP. Even WP political machinery cannot match SDP's backroom ops.

However, the reality is that Chee's leadership has only a track record of under 40% for the past two decades. SDP has never crossed the 40% barrier ever since Chee took over the leadership. (It is important to strike above 40% because it will keep PAP at their toes as this will make them vulnerable in these seats)

While many people would encourage Chee and SDP, citing this as the Best result Chee has achieved under harsh circumstances, but the hard truth and cruel reality is that JBJ has faced even more difficult and harsh smearing by PAP and its controlled media in the past but he has proven himself to be the true fighter who could bring WP to cross 40% and even won seats.

Whether we like it or not, whether we think it is FAIR to Chee or not, PAP has successfully decimated Chee's political credibility so much so that it actually affects the whole SDP.

And sometimes, I feel that it is really Chee's own doing in which he has given more than enough ammunition to PAP and its media to smear him.

For example, just for this BBBE, Chee has made quite a number of strategic erros.

1) The mismanagement of the Chiam meeting and saga is pretty glaring. While there will always be closed door negotiation but if it is agreed that this meeting should not be publicized or made known to the press, then SDP should keep to that promise. Furthermore, I hate to say this, although I dislike what Lina Chiam has done to Chee during this BE, but Chee must realize that he needs Chiam more than Chiam need him. Chiam is basically the KEY to his FUTURE political success and reconciliation should be achieved at all cost. Never mind on who is right or wrong in the past or present, but public Perception is everything in politics.

For SDP to come up with such conditions for Chiam, that is really a non starter. If there is no sincerity to strike a deal, then there should not be a meeting in the first place. The worse part is, when you come up with such unacceptable proposal but later, seen to milk on the perception that there is reconciliation process, then it is no wonder Lina Chiam is unhappy. She most probably feel that she has been taken for a ride or made use by SDP!

Thus, whatever excuses SDP come up with, any person with a reasonable mind would regard SDP in an extremely bad light, though we may feel that Lina Chiam is just too much to throw such a big dagger at Chee right at such critical moment of BBBE.

2) The focus on Town Council management has been overdone. The over promise of making Bukit Batok as the BEST Town actually backfired on Chee's credibility. No sound mind would believe in that promise basically because we know that to achieve that Best Town promise, you need funding and millions of it. Such funding is controlled by PAP via PA.. People's Association's CCC which will decide whether funding will be given to ANY upgrading projects proposed by any TC.

3) Having said that, swing voters know pretty well that there will be offset or trade off if they were to vote for opposition. Opposition must give them a solid reason for them to vote for them, making compromise or sacrifices on their HDB upgrading. Thus, the focus is about how good you will be as a REAL Check and Balance force in parliament. How good you will be as an MP to scrutinize PAP's policies in parliament. Chee might have that ability backed by his set of policy papers but yet, sorry to say that, he screwed it up when he REPEATED the mistake on MOM's statistics. If you have shown that you cannot digest, grasp or understand simple statistics as such, would the educated swing voters believe that you could debate and scrutinize PAP's policies in parliament properly? Some may believe that but most level headed person would not believe that.

I have tried my best in my own little ways to help SDP during the BE and I have witnessed Chee's family going all out to support him. However, when the dust settles, I feel extremely bad for Chee and his family. His wife and children have suffered much when he was fighting this war with no sign of victory around. When I read commentaries congratulating him and urging him on to continue fighting, I feel angry as well as sad. These people have unknowingly given Chee false hope.

We have to come to terms that Chee isn't going to go anywhere further than the current result due to many reasons and factors. Whether we like it or not, the Chiam baggage will always be on his shoulder if he didn't want to clear it off with sincerity.

He has given his best under the best circumstances any past and contemporary opposition politicians could dream of but yet, unable to cross that 40% barrier. No matter how we look at it objectively and rationality, it could only mean one thing, whether we like it or not, he has been tainted beyond hope. He is just unelectable.

This is this cruel but honest view I have with regard to Chee. As I have said, SDP has a fantastic support team behind but as long as Chee is leading SDP, all their effort may just come to nothing.

I guess for the sake of Chee's family, it is time for him to take a back seat and allow others to take SDP to greater heights. 5 years is a lot of time for a human being, 20 years of his prime has been spent in this opposition fight. It would be too cruel to ask him to continue to fight a destined lost war without much concerns of the sacrifices made by his family members.

Goh Meng Seng

Afternote:

The Independent has put up my article and there were some unhappy comments from the hardcore opposition supporters. I have replied as follows:

I thank you for all your comments here. I just need to make some simple clarifications.

Many people brag about the "high swing" SDP Dr Chee got from this BBBE. This is the common mistake people made in statistical analysis. Statistics must be analysed along with the context of the data.

For example, would you cry victory when someone improve from 12% to 30% in a SMC fight? Nope. Why?

We always say first 30% of opposition votes are the hardcore votes. It is a no brainer that one could increase easily from 12% to 30% under normal circumstances.

30% to 40% are the opposition sympathizers' votes. Need a bit of persuasion but still manageable.

But the Key critical 10% comes form 40% to 50% which are mainly the votes from the Neutrals. That's where we need a lot more persuasion to win over their votes.

Thus, it is totally irrelevant to compare the vote swing of BBBE from 26% to 39% to the vote swing achieved in PEBE which is from 41% to 55%. The core group of voters converted are of totally different nature with different levels of difficulty.

My whole point is simple. It may be a "good result" or even "best result" from Chee BUT let's face it, it was achieved under the most perfect situation you can find in Singapore's political context. It could only mean that Chee has PEAKED.

Throughout all his 20 plus years of leadership, SDP has never crossed 40%, never able to convince the neutrals. That's the harsh reality.

To urge him to carry on, giving him false hope and false prophecy, you will be making him and his family to make more sacrifices for absolutely nothing in sight.

Goh Meng Seng

P.S. Don't ask who I am as you know who I am. I may not be perceived as great as Dr Chee but I have crossed the 40% twice and led a party to cross 40% for two GRCs and one SMC. Yes, I am not that great but I am short of that critical baggage that will prevent me from convincing the Neturals.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Ministry of Manpower Statistics lacks Credibility

Someone alerted me to the Ministry of Manpower's Statistics on Employment recently and I took a good look at it. The first doubt I have in mind is related to the "differentials". 

Let me explain. Increment in Jobs data for "Local"  may be subjected to a few factors which was explained by MOM in this news article at Straits Time.

MOM clarified that the increase mentioned by Dr Chee is not the total number of new jobs taken up by locals last year. The increase is actually the difference between the total number of locals taking up and leaving jobs, for example due to retirement. This difference - the "net" number of new jobs taken by locals - was 700 last year.
Locals here is defined as Singapore citizens + Permanent Residents. What this means could be expressed in the following simple equation:

Increment in Jobs for Locals = Increase in Citizen workforce (ICW) + Increase in PR workforce (IPRW) - Death (D) - Retirement of older workers (ROW) - "those left workforce but not looking for new jobs" (LW) - Retrenched (R)

Where the variables are affected by:

ICW     - Directly influenced by those born 20 years ago
IPRW  - Directly due to New Permanent Residents issued (Net growth of PR+New Citizens)
ROW  - Directly influenced by those born 55 years ago
LW     - Reflected in Long Term Resident Unemployment
R       - Reflected in changes in Unemployment figures

For those who are well trained in statistics would just take MOM's explanation just as it is. BUT, if you want to really understand the relevance of the whole statistics, you will have to look at each and every component. I shall leave out Death (D) but examine the others. 

Most importantly, one way to observe whether such statistics are relevant or "good data sets" or not, we will have to examine the "differentials" by looking at the comparisons between past and forward data, if any. 

I shall compare the data between 2015 vs 2014. 

Please refer to the following data set which is from MOM website:

2015 is a "abnormal" whereby there is a DRASTIC drop of the increment of jobs for LOCALS, from 96,000 to 700, as compared to a slight drop of increment of jobs for Foreign Labour, from 34,000 to 31,600! 

Such imbalanced drop in the increment of jobs for Locals vs Foreign is pretty alarming but MOM tried to explain it away by using the logic that there was more retirement of older workers than new entrants to the workforce due to "aging population". 

However, aging population is NOT a new phenomenon. Every year, there will be people retiring from the workforce while there will be new entrants. The differentials or "net effect" of this is reflected by the net difference between the two. 

However, such differential cannot varies in such a wide variance! How to examine or determine such variance?


Now, before we look at the variance, we shall look at the unemployment rate. According to MOM's statistics, the Resident (equivalent to Locals) unemployment rate is pretty stable for the past few years. Specifically for 2014 and 2015, there is only a slight increase of 700 unemployed which constitute an insignificant 0.1% to the overall unemployment rate.   
 

Thus what does this say? The differential must be due solely to difference in new entrants vs retired workforce.

New Entrants to workforce comes from two sources. One, increase in PRs and two, due to natural births happening twenty over years ago.

For simplicity, we compare the numbers born in 1960 (the earliest recorded data on birth) vs 1994 ( taking 21 years old). The result is 61775-49554= 12221 for birth differential. What does this mean? It means that we have a deficit of about 12,000 jobs if we depended on our natural growth of workforce alone. i.e. a negative growth of jobs for Locals of 12K if there are no supplement of PRs.

Please also note that for the period of 1990 to 1995, the total birth were pretty constant without much variation. 




However, what is the supplement from PRs and New Citizens? 

The following is the old chart I have used before on this blog. We must note that we must use data from this chart by minus 1 year basis in order to reflect on 2015 growth of local JOBS. i.e. for 2015 increment of jobs due to increase of PRs, we should look at 2014 new PR granted by ICA. 

Consistently for the past few years, the increase in PRs is pretty constant, along with New citizens. Please note that we should not include the data on New Citizens because these new citizens are from the original PR stock. The net effect should only be reflected by the total increase of PRs. 

The consistent potential maximum contribution of increase in PR + New Citizens is less than 30k.  





What do all these imply? It actually means that the new entrants for the past few years should be pretty CONSTANT.

Even if we take the variation of retirement of old workforce (ROW) into consideration, the variance should not exceed 5,000!

So how could MOM statistics come up with such a statistics with such a wide variation while maintaining a pretty constant unemployment rate?


From the 12K deficits of jobs, we add 30K impact of increase in PRs, we will get a net effect of about 18K of increase in jobs for Locals! Do a plus minus 5K or even 10K for the variation due to birth rate variance in the 1950s or 1960s, at most we should get about 28K of new jobs! How could we ever get such a huge 96K increase in jobs in 2014 for locals?

Does it mean that those previously out of job market aka in long term unemployment have re-entered the job market? No. The Resident (or Local) Long Term Unemployment numbers are pretty constant for the past few years as well! (No drastic decrease).

Thus, to me, the sum doesn't add up.

There are two question marks here. If we assume normal distribution (a technical statistical assumption), it is totally IMPOSSIBLE to have 96K increment of jobs in 2014 (which equivalent to about more than 100K new jobs created) or even 37,900 increment of jobs for Locals in 2011 IF we do not have at least 100K of new PRs in 2014 or 50K of new PRs for 2011!

And it is impossible to have such a minimal increase of unemployed Locals if there are nearly 30K of new PRs in 2014 which presumably will get into the workforce. There should be at least 15K of increment of jobs, not 700!

This is why I conclude that MOM's statistics doesn't really make any sense nor tally to differential between births in different time frame and the increase in PRs. Thus, MOM's statistics lack Credibility and totally nonsense in my view. Especially for period from 2010 to 2014 whereby New PR issued was curbed at constant about 29K but they still report such a high number such as 96K for increment of jobs!

It is either ICA's statistics is erroneous or MOM's statistics is totally rubbish. There is no other way around it.

In short, when Birth rates are pretty constant in the short period of 5 years from 1990 to 1994 as well as 1960 to 1965, new PRs numbers for last few years are pretty stable, unemployment numbers stable, long term unemployment stable etc but only increment of jobs for Locals fluctuates with WIDE variance, there MUST BE something wrong with the statistics. Such inconsistency is a very telling sign of rubbish statistics in the making.

Goh Meng Seng


 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

People's Association's Appointment of Advisers


Someone gave a quite rubbish explanation about PA (People's Association) being the government arm, naturally it would need to appoint ruling party members as advisers and key board members.

This is utter rubbish. The government of the day, will consist of at least THREE pillars of power, if not four or five. These basic fundamental arms include Executive, legislative and judiciary.

It means that everyone in the legislative arm will also be considered as part of the government and yes, opposition party MPs included. The ruling party is just the custodian which provide the leadership to run the whole country.

Thus there is absolutely nothing wrong to appoint the opposition MPs as advisers to PA grassroots units. It is perfectly legitimate to do so.

In fact, it is totally illegitimate for PAP to appoint some NON MPs to be advisers of PA simply because they are not elected and thus NOT PART OF THE GOVERNMENT!

I just simply cannot understand why someone who writes UTTER RUBBISH would have so many mindless people who like his post! Is the fluoride really affecting these people's intelligence or what? Nonsensical people should only belong to the rubbish bin.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, April 15, 2016

Civil Service and Ministries Should Maintain Neutrality and Professional

There is a Straits Times report today on a "spat" between Mrs Lee Suet Fern and the Ministry of Law.

For those who are not in the know, Mrs. Lee Suet Fern is the wife of Mr. Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee.

The wife of Lee Hsien Yang (aka PM Lee's sister-in-law) has complained about the FT policy in Law practice, stating that a scheme Ministry of Law has put up for foreign law firms to register practice here has failed to create more jobs for Singapore lawyers.

The Ministry of Law could have just rebutted her with their usual statistics and all but instead, the Ministry has gone further than that by putting up irrelevant information about how Mrs Lee has tried to get her law firm's foreign partner to be registered under the scheme after the deadline has closed. The statement of Ministry of Law insinuates that Mrs Lee was seeking preferential treatment by asking the Ministry to make exception of her law firm's application. By putting up such irrelevant information also insinuates that she is just talking bad about this scheme because she and her law firm didn't get what they want!

I do not think it is right for the Ministry to put up such information amounting to personal attacks, not that I want to side anyone here, lest a member of the Lee clan. It is totally unprofessional for the civil service and Ministry to do that instead of putting up rebuttal solely as a matter of fact with regards to the issues at hand. The civil service should always maintain that code of neutrality and professionalism in dealing with issues and public debates or discourse on issues of public interests. The civil service and ministries should avoid getting entangled in personal attacks but just stick to the issues when putting up their stance.

Goh Meng Seng

PAP's Abuse of Power & National Resources: People's Association IS PAP's Political Tool

Picture Credit: Sin Rak Sin

Let's make it clear once and for all. PAP government set up People's Association for its POLITICAL PURPOSES.

If you go back to history, it was clear that PAP government, after marginalizing its leftist leaders like Lim Chin Siong (who were all detained under ISA), decided that they should strengthen their grassroot outreach (by the English Elites of the PAP) via their own grassroot platform. Thus, People's Association was formed to combat the leftist and/or "communist" grassroot system (they have their own "communication/community centres or points" within each district and village).

This was the first major step of the English Elites of PAP led by the man who cannot be named, made with the aim of cutting down their reliance on their Chinese Elites/leftist faction within their party to mobilize the grassroot voters.

From Wikipedia:


"According to the Central Intelligence Agency of the US government, the People's Association had its origins as a national building programme 'designed to wean pro-Communist voters away from the opposition'. Besides serving as a communication channel between the government and ruling party at the top and the people below - making way for a more responsive government - it was also intended for the PA to blur the boundaries between the government and the party, such that 'the people tended to praise the party for activities undertaken by the government'.[5]"

From the Singapore National Library electronic resources: