Monday, July 17, 2017

TOTD: Democracy in Destruction, Dictatorship in the Making

Thought of the Day - Democracy in Destruction, Dictatorship in the Making

Many people have spoken about bits and pieces of Conflicts of Interests in the appointment of AG and DAG, appointments of key positions in civil service and GLCs which are dubious with signs of cronyism and of course the "rigging" of the Elected Presidency by turning it into race based election which rules out potential strong contest from non PAP approved candidates etc...

Most people could only see the trees but not the whole forest. I was having dinner with a couple of friends and I explain to them that this is in fact a Dictatorship in the making but they couldn't really understand the whole picture.

As stated in PEOPLE's Power Party constitution, the fundamental principle which determine a Democracy is the Separation of 5 Powers. Most people would only know or familiar with the basic 3 Powers of Judiciary, Legislative and Executive but not the other two Powers. True enough my friends ask me what are the other two Powers?

I explain to them it is Power of Impeachment and Power of Appointment of civil servants (Examination).

In Singapore's context, the President who is supposed to safeguard our foreign reserves, is the key institution of Power of Impeachment together with CPIB. PSC which takes care of the civil service recruitment and appointment is the institution empowered with the function of Examination Power.

If we take a good look at what PAP is trying to do, we will realize that they are CONCENTRATING ALL THE FIVE POWERS under them by appointing their own people to the key positions.

They have controlled both the Executive and Legislative powers by default, then they started to influence heavily on the appointments of key personnel to civil service and a GLCs, sometimes even put their own family members in these important positions. Then they start to meddle with the whole judiciary system by appointing their own people to the AGC!

IF all these Five Powers are separated and independent of each other, we would have a good functioning Democracy with proper checks and balances. But the reverse would mean a total interdependent Powers tightly controlled by a centralized figure or organization. This would basically mean a total concentration of powers which in effect, turning our system into a live dictatorship!

Singaporeans should wake up to this fact that the Post LKY era will mean a tightening control of all Five Powers and the destruction of Democracy for Singapore will be completed without any effective system of checks and balances.

The Post LKY ERA is turning into a total nightmare for Singapore Democratic development...

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Oxley Temple Saga: Lessons on Separation of Powers And Good Governance

WARNING: This is going to be a "LONG BORING POST" if you are not interested in learning more about what is "Conflict of Interest" or "Separation of Powers". 

In this post, I am not interested on the Oxley House  itself but what came out from the whole saga; especially on the issue "Abuse of Power" and such.

Mr. Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling had made serious accusations of "Abuse of Power", among other things. PM Lee Hsien Loong claims that he has "answered" all these allegations in parliament and concluded that these are "baseless".

Many Singaporeans seem to be "convinced" that these are "baseless allegations" and even our opposition MPs in parliament seemed to think that these are just "calculated allegations" (sic) without much substance or substantial evidences made to undermine the Prime Minister. (Anyway, I do not think it is the job of opposition to defend the Prime Minister himself.)

From recent events in the appointment of Deputy Attorney General, Attorney General to this Oxley Temple Saga, it is clear that Singaporeans didn't really see any problems with the massive potential conflicts of interests as well as the breach of the simple rule of Separation of Powers. I personally feel that this is the main weakness of Singapore. Singaporeans lack a clear understanding of the importance of Separation of Powers and what constitutes "Conflicts of Interests". It is also apparent that even our opposition MPs have weak understanding or even lack of understanding of Separation of Powers and Conflicts of Interests; else they won't be found or criticized for the lack of proper handling of potential "conflicts of interests" in the management of their Town Councils. They have tried to make a case of Conflicts of Interests in parliament against the appointment of Hri Kumar and Lucian Wong as Deputy AG and AG but it wasn't forceful nor "convincing" at all. And it is not surprising that they did not see the case made out by PM Lee's siblings as convincing and important enough to call for investigations of any sort, but pass these allegations off as "baseless" or "lack substantial evidence" and conclude these as "calculated accusation to undermine the PM". They even gave the PM "benefit of doubts" over these issues!

Let me go through the various issues one by one, giving a contrast by putting up examples from Hong Kong. Why Hong Kong? Well, both Singapore and Hong Kong adopted the Common Laws as the basis of our legal systems. It is comparable in many sense.

Inappropriate Appointment of AG and DGA

It is a fact that the appointed AG Lucian Wong was PM Lee's personal lawyer as stated by LHY and LWL. It is a fact that the appointed Hri Kumar was a PAP MP. PM Lee tried to brush away the accusation of him appointing his own personal lawyer as AG as non-issue because he opines that Lucian has "provided good service" to him!

Now some people pointed out there is "Conflict of Interests" but didn't know exactly how interests could be "conflicted". This is why PAP could get away with such blatant act.

There are actually TWO GREAT Problems here, instead of One. Conflict of Interests is only one of the problems. The other is the breach of the Democratic Principle of Separation of Powers.

Let me give you an example and you will see clearly why there is a potential conflict of interests here.

If you are the Director of a Stats Board or department in the civil service. You made the recommendation of a lawyer as the legal advisor of the department, without declaring that he is your personal lawyer, would that be permissible? Obviously not.

In the world of good governance in public sector, all related interests must be declared before the decisions for any position or any contract is offered. Else that would be considered as a breach of proper procedures and the omission of such declaration of interests or relationship would be considered an attempt to hide critical information and will automatically trigger criminal investigation procedures.(Remember the NEA Brompton Bike case?)

Why would that be considered as "Conflict of Interest" in the first place? Well, as long as there is a relationship (close relationship) or business dealings between the Director and the lawyer, there will be a possibility of transfer of tangible or intangible interests which may be suspected to result in the favorable decision to appoint or give the contract to the lawyer. For example, hefty discounts or even "Free Service" provided to the Director for his personal matters and in return, the Director decides to appoint him as legal adviser to the department. These possible events may not have happened but as long as there is such possibility, the relationship must be declared. i.e. If there is nothing to hide, you should declare such relationship.

Now, regardless of whether there is any "favors" transacted between the PM and his lawyer, which means, we do not need to prove there is such transactions of goodwill or favors, PM should declare such interests or relationship when he proposed and made decision to appoint him as the office holder of Attorney General.

The question now is, did PM Lee make such declaration in the process of appointing Lucien Wong as AG?

I believe that after the Hotel Property saga which PM Lee was implicated, PM Lee should now be extremely careful to accept any "discount" or even "free" service from anyone, but still, in the system of good governance, such potential conflict of interests should be dealt with proper declaration in the process of selection and appointment. This is especially so when there is no indication that PM has recused himself from this decision of AG appointment.

Thus, what Opposition MPs in parliament should ask is, did PM Lee declare this critical potential conflict of interests in the process of appointment? He did not mention it nor make proper declaration of such relationship when the previous parliamentary sitting had a debate on the appointment of Lucien Wong as the AG! 

The second aspect of such appointment of Lucien Wong as AG, together with Hri Kumar as DAG, is the breach of the Democratic Principle of Separation of Powers.

In People's Power Party's concept of Separation of Powers, there are Five Powers. This is more stringent requirement but even for the normal concept of Separation of Powers which involves mainly Three powers or maybe even the forth state of Freedom of Press, it is important to note that the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative powers should observe a strict separation to effect Independent functioning of these institutions of the Democratic system, without fear nor favour.

AG office is an important part of the Judiciary system and it must not only act Independently but also SEEN to be Independent of the Executive and Legislative arm.

The appointment of Lucien Wong as the AG has breached the rule of independence of the AGO from the Head of the Executive Arm, i.e. PMO! The appointment of Hri Kumar as DAG, who was ex-PAP MP (or what we call legislative member) is also a breach of the rule of independence of the AGO from BOTH the Executive arm as well as the Legislative arm! (PM is effective the leader of the ruling party PAP which dominates the parliament, the legislative arm).

Thus in any way we look at it, these appointments are totally inappropriate and smack of effecting a non-Democratic rule because the basic principle of Separation of Powers has been seriously breached!

Thus, the important question we should ask is, do we still want Singapore to be a developed Democracy or just regress into a system of authoritarian or dictatorship whereby Separation of Powers is basically non-existent? 

In Hong Kong, such situation will never happen, especially for appointments of important positions in the Judiciary system, be it AG or Chief Justice.

Even for positions which are less sensitive like Board of Directors of university, if the Chief Executive appoints people who have direct relations with him, the whole society will criticize such moves. It has happened before during CY Leong's term. But as this doesn't breach the Principle of Separation of Powers (Board of University is not part of the 3 powers) and such appointees are WELL KNOWN to be politically connected to the CE and no obvious transactions of service nor interests, no further actions were taken.

Obtaining Official source of Information for Private Use

LHY and LWL had accused PM Lee of obtaining the Deed of Gift via his official capacity as Prime Minister and (passed it to his lawyer) used it against them.

PM Lee had explained that as one of the inheritor of LKY's assets, he has the "right to know" or have the Deed of Gift.

However, whether the PM has the "right" to the Deed of Gift or not, is PRIVATE matters between him and his siblings. This is purely a PRIVATE matter.

To make use of his official capacity of PM to get the deed, which Minister Lawrence Wong has confirmed that LHL received the Deed via his official capacity as PM, and pass it to his PRIVATE lawyer to settle his private matters with his siblings, is already a breach of procedure and official protocol.

I believe there are laws governing the proper use of information obtained in official capacity as we have seen in recent cases, police officer was charged for accessing information in their official capacity but pass these information to his friends for their private use.

Any information obtained by any civil servants or political appointees in their official capacity, should only be used for official business instead of private matters! That's the basic protocol of any good governance for the civil service!

The evidence provided by LHY and LWL had clearly shown that LHL's PRIVATE Lawyer has indicated that LHL has passed the Deed of Gift to the law firm while Minister Lawrence Wong has confirmed LHL received the Deed via his Official capacity of PM. This is a clear breach of protocol.

The proper way for LHL to get the Deed of Gift to settle his private matter is to ask his lawyer to write in on behalf of HIS OWN CAPACITY as one of the inheritors of LKY's estate to get the Deed from National Heritage Board.

Having the right to the Deed doesn't mean that you can use the wrong channel or your official capacity as Prime Minister to get the Deed for your private use.

Thus, it is very disappointing to note that Opposition MPs didn't make this point clearly in parliament in objection to his flimsy and unconvincing defence.

In Hong Kong, there were cases of politicians or political appointees being charged and imprisoned for misusing information obtained in official capacity for private use. There is a clear cut line in maintaining good governance.

The "Secret Ministerial Committee"

Whether the Ministerial Committee is "secret" or not, or whether PM Lee recuse himself from this Ministerial Committee or not, does not clear the fact that such arrangement of having "direct subordinates" to meddle or investigate into the DIRECT Boss' matters is a total upheaval of hierarchical ethics! And obviously, it is a messy conflict of interests in itself!

We only have superior conducting investigation into subordinates' matters but direct subordinates investing and meddle in superior's matters is really hardly heard of! This is also a clear breach of Separation of Powers!

Besides the declared members of this Ministerial Committee are neither history experts nor heritage preservation experts! Thus on what basis or merits do they have to convene such a committee to determine the "options" for the Oxley house in terms of heritage preservation?

LHY and LWL had accused the committee of focusing on the attacks on the legitimacy of LKY's Last Will instead of the Options. And unwittingly, PM Lee has put up the summary of his Statutory Declaration which confirms that his main submission to the Ministerial Committee is all about putting doubts on the validity of LKY's Last Will.

How could anyone come to the conclusion that LHY and LWL have put up "baseless" allegation in this case? 

The proper place to question the validity of the Last Will is to challenge the probate of the Last Will in court. If PM Lee is reluctant to go to court for fear of tarnishing his father's good name, then why would he bring it up to his subordinates in this Ministerial Committee?

The proper way of dealing with determining the OPTIONS is to call in REAL INDEPENDENT EXPERTS from the academic field to look into it instead of the ministers! Why isn't this so? 

Thus the pertinent question should be asked in parliament is that why isn't an independent penal of experts set up instead of the Ministerial Committee which is bound to breach basic hierarchical ethics tainted with conflict of interests? 

In Hong Kong, when they are looking into heritage preservation of any buildings or landmarks or sites, they will convene an independent penal filled with REAL experts in the respective fields, instead of Ministers. Just simple as that.

Inappropriate Use of PMO Official Authority 

This is the MOST Ridiculous part of the whole saga. The Prime Minister Office  is neither the official owner of ANYTHING from the Estate of LKY although Lee Hsien Loong the son, is one of the inheritor. And Ho Ching, PM Lee's wife, has no official appointment in PMO but yet, she can be listed as the person for contact representing PMO to give away something that doesn't even belong to PMO!

And our dear Prime Minister just brush it off by saying that they were just excited to find something of "historical significance" to give it to NHB for its exhibition, without prior informing his own siblings! How could this be a convincing explanation of such lack of clear differentiation between what is Official and Private?

LHY and LWL had provided the clear documented evidence of such blatant misuse of official capacity in this case but yet, people are saying that they didn't provide "enough" evidence for this?

In Singapore, even if the Prime Minister wanted to sue anybody for defamation or anything, he cannot use the letter head of the Prime Minister Officer (PMO) or his title as Prime Minister! This is a clear cut between Official business vs Private matters.

Thus, apparently, the Prime Minster has totally ignored BASIC Official protocols and blurred the lines between his Official political appointment with his private matters! The PMO doesn't own any thing from the estate of LKY and it should not be used to process any things obtained from the LKY estate!

In Hong Kong, Donald Tsang who was former Chief Executive and Finance minister of Hong Kong, was chided for using official letterhead of his office to write to government departments to request for information and help for his private matters. This is a big taboo in Hong Kong.


Good Governance and Separation of Powers are inseparable.  All civil servants are expected to have a clear concept of "Official Capacity" vs "Private Matters" and what will possibly constitute conflict of interests. More so for top civil servants as well as political appointees like Ministers and Prime Minister. On top of that, the only why to avoid conflict of interests is to maintain proper Separation of Powers.

Conflict of Interest does not mean there must be real wrong doing of any sort but by virtue of POSSIBLE undue influence based on any close relationship of any kind, one must declare such potential conflicts.

Beside the consideration of Conflict of Interest, the OVERALL system of Separation of Powers must be maintained.

PM Lee clearly lacks the strong sense of "Separation of Powers" and most important of all, has blurred all lines between what is Official business vs Private matters. There is a CLEAR consistency demonstrated in all the issues brought up by PM Lee's siblings that suggests that PM Lee himself lacks clarity in differentiating what is "Official" vs "Private" matters.

He is setting a terrible example for the whole civil service and I have serious doubt that with such aptitude and attitude, he couldn't possibly maintain Good Governance without any concept of Separation of Powers and avoidance of conflict of interests.

If such things happen in Hong Kong, such evidence along with the self-admissions made by either the Ministers or the Chief Executive himself would be serious enough to trigger or warrant an immediate thorough investigation, either by an independent commission convened by the Legco or any appropriate authority, like ICAC.  But just too bad, this is Singapore which doesn't follow such strict and stringent rules set upon the civil service as well as political appointees.

For the Prime Minister to brush it aside by saying "no evidence" at all and to state that he himself will ask for investigation if there is evidence, is just totally unconvincing and ironically, lack of the very principle of Separation of Powers and avoidance of conflict of interests! It is not for him to decide whether there is enough evidence thrown against himself! It is should come under an independent panel to decide on that!

Separation of Powers and avoidance of conflict of interests must not only be maintained but must also be SEEN to be maintained. There are laws and mechanisms available within the system to make things transparent and these should be strictly followed. Sad to say, the TOP boss, the Prime Minister himself, is now seen to breach every important part of this system. 

The Prime Minister doesn't deserve any "benefit of doubts" because it is totally unacceptable to let any DOUBT on his own conduct and management to exist and linger in the minds of Singaporeans. All doubts should be cleared and none should left lingering. Else I would regard that as a sign of unfit for the top public office.

Thus, I maintain my call for Lee Hsien Loong to resign as Prime Minister for the sake of Singapore.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, July 06, 2017

TOTD: Oxley Temple Saga - PAP, why?

Thought of the Day - PAP, why?

Many people have been "misled" in this Oxley saga that it is a "Private" matter but apparently, it is not.

The WHOLE Cabinet of PAP Ministers wanted the Oxley House to be preserved and no compromise on just having a garden, why?

While PM Lee and his siblings LHY and LWL may have called for a "cease fire" and wanted to "solve the issue in private", but to me, this issue cannot be solved without looking hard at what these PAP Ministers want.

First of all, why did the FIRST Will of LKY signed in Aug 2011 stated so clearly that he wanted the house to be demolished immediately after his death? This was done right after the 21 Jul 2011 Cabinet Meeting which he was "invited" (I would refrain from using "summon") to the Cabinet to "discuss" about the fate of the Oxley House.

It is in my view that this is part of PAP's reactions and "strategy" to cope with the bad GE result in May 2011. PAP has never been so "enthusiastic" about "Heritage Preservation". It has demolished quite a lot of important landmarks in Singapore without much consultation or even winking. These includes the National Theater (I doubt many younger generations know what it is!), National Central Library etc.

But why LKY's Oxley house suddenly become so important for them? It is only about PAP's history and not much of value as a "National Heritage".

Thus, it is my view that PAP has its own self vested interests in mind, in a direct response to the dwindling popularity of its rule. Someone must have come up with the brilliant idea that LKY's political capital, embedded in the Holy Temple of Oxley, could help PAP in retaining its perpetual rule! Thus, this is the reason why that Cabinet meeting was called and basically telling LKY that they need to preserve his Oxley house to create his temple.

LKY, though throughout his life, he has been no short of a dictator, didn't like the idea. He knew that his system of rule could only be sustainable with good people as "benevolent dictators" but apparently, this is almost impossible to get in real life. He didn't want his name to be linked to any foreseeable failure of PAP's dictatorial rule in future, or even become the political milking machine for these incompetent PAP Ministers who cannot even hold their own fort and ground without depending on him, as a dead man!

Thus, he decided to add that demolition clause into his First Will, right after that Cabinet Meeting. This is the response he made against these PAP Minions.

Thus, Singaporeans must really understand the FULL Context of this Oxley saga. I am rather worried to see some people being "indifferent" or even "supportive" of setting this Oxley Political Temple of PAP! People have been mistaken this issue as some "National Interest" but there is absolutely no "National Interest" in it, only PAP's interests of perpetual rule!

In fact, the REAL National Interest is to prevent the PAP from creating the Oxley Political Temple, making use of LKY as the idolized God in it. It is in National Interest to prevent ANYONE from continuously milking a dead man for political capital to sustain his rule.

Although I am not a fan of LKY but I guess on this point, I have to agree with his decision.

This is especially true that after PAP has tasted "success" in milking a dead LKY for all his possible political capital in GE 2015, right after his death and achieving an exceptional result of 70% in the polls, PAP's minions will definitely be more determined to use all means to preserve the house and turn it into a permanent Oxley Temple for them to milk the dead man indefinitely! They would even threaten to say, with total disrespect and disgraceful that they have the power to over write LKY's last wish through forceful land acquisition or gazetting that house!

This shows how desperate they are in wanting to create that Oxley Temple for their own political interests! But they just want to be seen "nice" and this is the only reason why they didn't act straight away. They are just trying to have the cake and eat it as well.

Thus, having this true context in mind, would you expect the Lee family could possibly settle this issue amicably in private? The answer is NO. Whether we like it or not, it is PAP's political will at play and it will become a "National Issue", no matter what superficial agreement could be reached between PM Lee and his siblings.

Many people cannot see the point why LHY and LWL had accused LHL and his wife of having this intention of making use of their father's name for "Dynastic Rule" because they do not see the whole context of this Oxley saga.

If you understand the full context why, in the first place, PAP has insisted of turning Oxley house into a Political Temple and why LKY resisted, you will understand why LHY and LWL would see LHL's anger and objection to the demolition plus attempts made to preserve the house, even to "rewrite" their father's history to achieve that, as an attempt to get his son to become a successor in future.

This is because, in LHY's and LWL's perspective, if LHL and wife didn't have that intention, why would he be so assertive and even emotional in wanting the house to be preserved as a "Heritage Site"? In LHY's and LWL's view, if LHL has nothing to gain from it, why would he be so anxious about the intended demolition of the house?

I would urge all Singaporeans to oppose PAP's intention of turning this Oxley house into PAP's Political Temple. It is LKY's foresight in not having it and I must admit, this time round, he got it right.

LKY knew that his system of political rule is not sustainable and it should be abused, definitely not in his name. He was prepared to subject PAP to a more democratic system after what he saw the true colors of his PAP Ministers, after that Jul 2011 Cabinet meeting.

We will just have to trust his political judgement for one last time and oppose this blatant attempt of PAP creating that Oxley Temple.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, July 03, 2017

Who would expect The Black Irony?

Who would expect The Black Irony?

Some call it Straight Instant Karma, some would just call it Black Irony.

Once a powerful man on the island, feared even by his own political minions in the party, had eventually suffered great humiliation and disrespect, only to become a puppet political tool for his own son and party to milk to the fullest.

Who would imagine that such great shrewd politician of his time, who was exceptionally street smart to milk the political capital of his contemporaries like Lim Chin Siong, would end up nothing more than a "sacred political cow" to be milked eternally by his own party, against his own will after his death?

Who would imagine that a ruthless politician like him who had locked up thousands of his detractors and dissidents, breaking their families and soul in solitary confinement, forcing many others to run road as well, would end up with the very machinery or rather, Monster he created, instilling that same fear in his own son, forcing him to consider the Run Road option?

Who would expect a man who had undaunted will power that created Singapore under his will and likings, couldn't even get that little respect from the very party he created, to grant him that simple wish to demolish his own house?

Who would expect a man who had used his expertise in law, to create draconian laws which were deemed necessary for forceful land acquisition for urban renewal, would possibly end up at the end of this huge stick, to have his own Minister openly declare that his own house and property could be forcefully acquired by the government against his will?

Who would expect the mantra "for the greater Nation good" which he created to justify all bad policies against the people, be used against his will eventually?

Who would expect that a man renowned as the First among equals, top lawyer graduated with top grades from Cambridge, could be so blatantly insulted to be a senile fool who couldn't even understand his own Will that he has signed?

Who would expect a man with such great mastery of words, twisting and turning his words just to get what he wanted, could be subjected to such Third class wordy abuse of twisting himself?

Who would expect a man who had preached about Confucianism all his life ended up with filial piety treated as trash while his children fought among themselves under his name?

For all his life, he diligently worked hard and created his dream system of semi dictatorship and Asian authoritarian rule, but in the end, he was so helplessly turned into the victim of his own pet monster, under the control of his own son.

For those who are in the system enjoying every bit of that power of tyranny, don't be too happy yet. What can happen to him, could well befallen upon you one day.

That is Black Irony of the Day

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, June 19, 2017

TOTD: Who do I believe?

Who do I believe?

My political mentor had always taught me this simple methodology of Criminology... always look for Motive first before you do anything else.

There are many accusations and counter-accusations flying around. Now the Pro-PAP-LHL people are saying Lee Suet Fern is a "puppet master"... manipulating behind the scene of the will... etc. But I ask, what is her motive, if any?

Allowing her husband to get slightly higher share when LWL's share is reduced to be equal to the other two siblings? But this will in fact, benefits LHL as well! So why would LHL complains?

People are not looking at things in proper context. All three children of LKY are MULTI-Millionaire (if not billionaire), at least tens if not hundreds of millions net worth. Their families most probably could live for generations without doing anything! When you are that rich, the marginal utility of additional wealth is really marginal.

In fact, if it is really about money, LHY won't have agreed to pay 150% for the Oxley house (50% for charity) to buy it from his brother, just to have it and allow his sister to stay in this house and later, demolish it! Thus, I do not believe money is the issue here and Lee Suet Fern has no obvious motive to gain anything out of all these bickering.

So what's the beef here?

I do not think Lee Wei Ling mind how much she will get from LKY's estate. Having read her past writings published on newspapers and her FB, rightfully or wrongfully, she has great emotional attachment to things, to people, to her parents, especially her father. She is single and has no family. All she has now, in terms of money, is more than enough for her to live till the end of her life. But there is only one motive and desire in her, the desire of living in the old Oxley house due to her emotional attachment. And of course, she will guard her family's privacy with all force and thus, insisting that the house should not become a public place whereby other people could throng in and out of it.These are after all, her precious memories of her life.

Thus, when her relationship with LKY was frosty, for whatever reasons, she was more upset that she wasn't allow to live in the Oxley house after LKY's impending death, than having less share of his estate.

Lee Suet Fern just happened to become the mediator between the father and daughter. She managed to secure the most important part of the will, to allow LWL to stay in the house and to have it demolished after her passing.

From the emails released by LWL (the one LSF wrote to Shanmugam), I could see that Lee Suet Fern's only concern is to mend the ties between the father and the daughter.

Thus, it is totally unfair and uncalled for to make Lee Suet Fern to look like an "evil puppet master" or "evil manipulator" of any sort.

To accuse LSF or even LHY to insert that Demolition clause into the Last Will sneakily without letting LKY know, is totally absurd. For this Demolition Clause, they gain absolutely nothing! Why would they risk the wrath of LKY by doing such thing?

LWL is the one who benefits directly and emotionally to have this Demolition Clause to be reinstated. And this is why she fought so hard against LHL when LHL tried to preserve it. Even felt sour when this Demolition Clause, for whatever reasons, was taken out in the two preceding wills.

LHY didn't make noise openly against his brother until now, which I think is because he and his wife felt THREATENED. LHY didn't even make noise of his unhappiness when he was made to pay 150% for the Oxley house, because basically money isn't really a big problem to him. It is only when his and his family's lives are THREATENED, he would openly put up such devastating joint statement.

On the other hand, LHL has been shown to be inconsistent.. as LHY has put it, saying different things at different times. But one thing is very clearly consistent, his desire and motive to keep the Oxley house intact, against his father's wish even when LKY was alive!

For what motive? LWL and LHY had provided the reason: to make full use of LKY's political legacy to extend his own political agenda. Do I believe in their assertion? Yes, I do because there isn't any other plausible reason other than political reasons.

Thus, if you ask me who do I believe? I would say I believe LWL, LHY and LSF. I empathize LWL's position of wanting to stay in Oxley house for sentimental value. I believe LSF genuinely wanted to mend ties between LWL and LKY. I also believe that there is no monetary motive on LHY's part to want to fulfill his father's wish. In fact, he has lost quite a bit of money here but yet, he felt betrayed by his brother, PM Lee, after paying so much money but still the brother wanted to use his power to keep the house via administrative powers.

As to whether Oxley house should be preserved for "heritage" or "historical value", I shall comment another day.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TOTD: Respect LKY's Last Wish

Thought of the Day - Respect LKY's Last Wish

As an opposition politician, I am apparently not a fan of LKY for all my adult life, for reasons I have already expounded during his death in 2015.

However, if he truly wished not to have his old house to be made into a memorial monument for himself because he did not want to become the idol of hero worshiping in spite of all those high praises (regardless whether worthy or not) of his achievements for Singapore, then at least this formidable opponent whom I do not like, earns my respect for this last decision.

It is shocking to me that the current PAP government under his very own son's leadership, has seek all means and ways to go against his last wish. If what Lee Wei Ling had said in her latest combined statement with her other brother, Lee Hsien Yang, is true, then I would say this is a FEARFULLY DISHONORABLE act from our government.

PAP and its Prime Minister had been screaming "Rule of Law" high and low in recent months over all things but I would say, to use all legislative means to DISHONOR the last wish of their very own "Hero", Mr Lee Kuan Yew, is neither a good example of "Rule of Law" nor Rule of Morals. Do they not want LKY to Rest In Peace?

LKY has not only stated once in his life that he did not want any monument for himself and has stated clearly in his last memoir that he wanted the old house to be demolished after his death.

Why is that so difficult to grant the very person whom so many Singaporeans adore and respect, his very last wish?

As far as the house is concerned, this is a Private house belonging to LKY and now, his estate and immediate family after his death. Though PM Lee has stated that this is "private family dispute" over the house, but why should his government be meddling in this private matter of the house?

PM Lee is totally incoherent here. Once his government decided to exert power to determine the future of the Private House of the Lee family, it will no longer be a private matter but a public matter.

Why would he set up a Ministerial Committee to determine the fate of this Private house? To determine a dead man's will? There isn't a need to. LKY had repeated expressed in no uncertain terms that he did not want any monument to be set up for him after his death. Isn't that clear enough? Thus, I would say that although I am not prevail to all the insider's details, I have to agree with Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang that the government under PM Lee is abusing its power to force or influence the outcome of a purely Private matters of the Lee family.

This is especially so when the three siblings had just signed an agreement on how to deal with house but yet, PM Lee set up this Ministerial Committee to re-look into the matter again. Why would that be so? It is no wonder both Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang felt betrayed and anyone in their position will naturally think that their brother has abused his political power to get what he want. Most importantly, how could they ever trust him again with this political maneuver?

This saga has sent chill deep down into my spine. Imagine:

If PAP government could even dishonor their very own founder, LKY in such manner, who else would they respect? Definitely not small potatoes like us in the street.

If what Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling said is true, even they felt uncomfortable by their brother's use of national machinery to monitor them up to the level of making them feel overwhelmingly intimidated and wanting to migrate out of Singapore, what else could we expect for those of us who are powerless but brave enough to stand up as opposition members?

If the PAP government even dare to use their administrative and legislative powers to forcefully take over a private house in such manner, with so much disrespect to the one they claimed they adored, loved and worshiped, there is no other people's private property they would not dare to take forcefully if they fancy!

If even the member(s) of the most powerful and influential Lee family would say openly that the Singapore's Main Stream Media is controlled by the government and the 154th ranking given to them by international organization is somewhat justified, how else could we as a nation trust the MSM?

If even the members of the Lee family felt that there is basically no proper separation of powers and a total lack of checks and balances of the power that be, why should we still trying to make believe that this is a meaningful democracy at all?

The latest public statement made by both Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang is highly provocative and even up to the point of potentially defamatory if all these assertions are untrue. Apart from the accusation of abuse of power, there are other serious accusation. This is especially so on the part of indirectly accusing Ho Ching of instructing senior civil servants when she holds no political office and has no power to do so. There is also mention of PM Lee obtaining official document (Deed of Gift) from one of his ministry and passing it to his own lawyer. (The last time such thing happened was in the 1997 defamation case against Tang Liang Hong.)

All these are serious accusations made by two prominent public figures from the distinguished family in Singapore and they cannot be ignored or brushed away lightly.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TOTD: The Paradigm Shift Which PAP missed

Thought of the Day - The Paradigm Shift Which PAP missed

When I read about how Singapore propaganda machine tried to justify Singapore's diplomatic stance by saying that Singapore "has not changed", I nearly choked.

The Global Power structure has gone through a critical Paradigm shift and the Diplomatic dynamics has also gone through a Paradigm shift but yet, PAP government still singing self-praise about "We have not changed"?

Didn't they realize this may be their Greatest Problem in Diplomacy?

Diplomacy is about getting the Best deal out of the Global situation for the welfare and benefits for our country. Najib knows this, so does Duterte but not our PM Lee and his bunch of inept colleagues.

Our Core Interests in the South China Sea saga is NOT about judging who is right or wrong, nor who should have what claims. All countries around the world will have their own territorial claims and nobody could really change their stance or mind, lest a Little Red Dot like Singapore! And this is not ordinary country we are dealing with but an economic as well as military giant in the making!

Our main Core Interest is only to keep SCS a safe passage way for our trading port to function effectively and it is about maintaining PEACE instead of escalating conflicts which may result in potential war. Besides, we are NOT even one of the claimants in this SCS saga!

PAP government has got it ALL Wrong. We may not like what China is doing but our aim is to maintain status quo of Peace at SCS, not about banging our heads against the evolving giant in this region.

And we have over 100 billions invested in China but yet, this silly bunch of White Ministers actually think they could get away with agitating China without getting hurt?

Someone keep pestering me to say what's my plan or how would I handle such situation. I would say that my only interest is to keep Singapore prosperous out of any situation. We should not take side but maintain our position that it is for EVERYONE's interest to keep Peace at SCS. No matter what happens, how the situation develops, we should always maintain PEACE within the region, especially at SCS.

To ask people to subject to some "international settlement" when one side didn't agree to bring it to International Court in the first place, is UTTERLY NAIVE and silly. International Law and judgement passed is one thing but could it be ENFORCED? The Americans have been ruled against in international court before but they just ignored them and what could the other countries do about it? An International judgement which is not enforceable is as good as toilet paper!

That's the reality of International politics and diplomacy.

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, May 28, 2017

TOTD - SAF Waste Basket of Talents

Thought of the Day - SAF Waste Basket of Talents

Have you noticed Singapore has produced quite a number of Generals every few years which will take up various positions in GLCs, Statutory Boards and such in the past?

For a small army which has NEVER fought a major war before to chunk out so many Paper Generals is rather amazing! If we were to count the "General - Army personnel" ratio, I bet we will be one of the HIGHEST in the world!

No wonder our Defence Budget is so high because we have to pay so many Generals as well as all other Colonels supporting them.

PAP government has followed its past traditions of giving out SAF scholarships and President Scholarships to the Top A Level students every year.

Yes, our Elitist PAP also select people based on A Level grades and you will be assured of good life ahead if your A Level results are one of the Best. PAP's flawed and extremely Elitist Meritocracy is determined solely by A Level grades which a 18 or 19 year old kids could get!

A friend of mine lamented in private chat over this.

In Economic theory, this is "crowding effect" of talents with bias tendency. And this is detrimental to the growth of our economy and private enterprises.

These Scholar-Paper-Generals (SPG) wasted more of their time in army for 20 over years before they were asked to leave and chuck into some GLCs or statutory boards. They have totally ZERO real life corporate experience but just helicopter into high position to lead any organizations assigned to them. Those who have been working in these organizations, amassing great amount of experience in the field, were passed from such promotions. I wonder how these people would feel, having a totally "Clueless Idiot" in the field to lead and tell them what to do! eg. The latest SPG former navy chief jumping into MOE to become Perm Sect.. Hey, he is totally clueless about Education!

The worst part is to have these SPGs to parachute into such important positions such as "Permanent Secretary" which has become rather "impermanent" nowadays! Every 2-3 years, Perm Sect will change. How could they have garnered enough experience and contribute to the Ministries adequately? In the past, we used to say, even if you put an idiot as a Minister or Minister of State, the Perm Sect will be able to run the show. But in the end, our Perm Sects are now totally lack of experience and "Half Barrel Filed"! it will be left to the mid-high level Directors of the Ministries to run the show! It will be extremely unstable and chaotic for these Ministries and definitely the sustainability of the whole system will be in question.

I do not expect a Perm Sect to stay in that position for more than 2 decades but definitely not this type of "touch and go" situation!

Short tenure for Perm Sect will create a serious problem. These people will only aim for SHORT TERM VISIBLE results but ignore LONG TERM beneficial planning! Just like the NOL saga! Selling assets off will of course create "huge value" for the government in the short term but what is the long term strategic implications?

Worse of all, the new Ministers may not even be well verse in their own Ministries as many of them have been "Merry Go Round" rotating among the Ministries... how could they possibly be contributing to the LONG TERM planning for the Ministries and Singapore as a whole with such short term tenure? It is seriously a situation of "the clueless leading the blind".

SAF has become a Waste Basket for "Talents". The current practice of SPG Elitism should be reviewed because it has proven to be detrimental to the development and growth of a Nation's economy by crowding out talents from private sectors as well as making them invalid to the corporate world after decades of "Yes Man" molding. We are starting to see the great harm that such system is doing to us now.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, May 05, 2017

TOTD: May Day Lunch Box Economics

Thought of the Day - Lunch Box Economics

The Prime Minister's Stealing Advice

It is shocking to hear our Prime Minister trying to lecture our workers on how we should “steal other people's lunch boxes” in this year May Day celebration.

There are a few issues here:

1) To many Singaporeans who have lost their jobs to some cheap foreign substitutes, all thanks to PAP’s FT policy which encourages and allows millions of foreign labour to come to Singapore and work under the guise of job creation for Singaporeans, this is a totally ironic statement that needs cynical mocking! PAP government is the one who helps Foreigners to “Steal” our lunch boxes right at our doorstep and yet the PM has the cheek to tell us go and steal othet people's lunch boxes? That's basically shameless!

2) PAP government has basically stolen part of our workers’ lunch boxes recently, practically reducing the size of our lunch boxes by increasing Water Fee by 30%, Electricity tarriff, cooking gas and we expect more to come。。。 maybe GST or public transport fares. Can PAP stop stealing our luncheon meat from our lunch boxes?

3) In all international free trade agreement negotiation, all countries will try very hard to protect their own citizens’ lunch boxes but only PAP would sell our workers out by agreeing UNLIMITED foreign labour to come to this tiny red dot to steal Singaporeans’ lunch boxes! Oh while talking about this, I wonder how PAP and PM are going to negotiate more favorable FTA terms when other countries will now be extremely wary about PAP‘s intention of stealing their citizens’ jobs!?

4) Most probably our PM has run out of ideas in ensuring our own citizens can have meaningful well paying jobs insteas of facing rising unemployment rate. Lim Swee Say could actually say that jobs are not lacking but it is Singaporeans who do not have the skils! Hey, Singapore is a First World Country with best universities, tertiary institutions and education system in this part of the world! Many people from surrounding third world developing countries yearn to study in our schools! How could our education system unable to provide the necessary knowledge and skills for Singaporeans to get decent paying jobs while foreigners from third world countries could have those skills instead? He is basically insulting our intelligence!

5) The economic theory of Free Trade and Globalization isn't based n stealing other people's lunch boxes. If that is the case, no country would want to open up trade. The fundamental Free Trade is not based on competitive advantage but rather comparative advantage. It strives to provide win win situation instead of cannibalism if lunch boxes from others. Maybe our PM and the whole cabinet of million dollar ministers should go back to school learn basic economics fundamental

The Incoherent Excuses

First, it was Minister Lim Swee Say who said there is no lack of jobs in Singapore but it is Singaporeans "lack of skills" to take up these jobs.

Then we have Minister Ong Ye Kang who said Singapore capped the number of Singaporeans studying in local universities at 30%!

Now, it seems that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing! If PAP is to cap the number of Singaporeans from obtaining the highest learning of knowledge and skills at 30%, no wonder we are lack of "skills" while we have to import so many Degree Holders (some with dubious certificates) from Third World Countries!

Job Reality on the Ground

We seemingly have a bunch of ministers who have totally lost touch of the ground. On one hand the Ministers think by capping the number of Singaporeans going to local Universities could prevent more Singaporeans from being unemployed graduates, thinking that by having more poly and ITE graduates with skills training, will make them more employable while the other Minister thinks that there are jobs but Singaporeans lack the skills...

If 70% of Singaporeans are already sent to poly and ITE, why are Singaporeans still lacking of skills?

The truth is, everyone who have education in Singapore should have acquired a certain skill sets and definitely so for university graduates.

The truth is, most of the time Singaporeans without a university degree will be scorned and salaries suppressed because employers will say "at this salary of xxx I can employ a FT with degree or even a master degree blah blah blah"....All thanks to PAP's extremely lax FT policy!

The Major Irony

Ironic... while PAP keeps talking about continuous Life long learning and upgrading, but in the end they want to restrict the number of people going to local Universities at 30%!

And PAP always lament Singapore does not have even "Talents" thus needs Foreign Talents from Third World countries but now we know it is PAP itself which deliberately restricts Singaporeans from grooming into Talents by depriving them a place in Universities via setting this limited quota!

Do you see the True Color of PAP yet?

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, April 24, 2017

TOTD: Technology KISS - Bus Fare System

Thought of the Day - Technology KISS

Recently there is an article and comments which try to mock or belittle Mr Tan Kin Lian in bringing up an idea of improving the cash payment system for bus company.

It is quite typical of Singaporeans, really. They don't really understand the problem and how system could be improved before they tried to belittle others.

Mr Tan had put up a suggestion that all cash payment for bus ride should be fixed at a price (let's say $2 or $3) and that will keep it simple.

I understand where Mr Tan is coming from but not many of his detractors. First thing you got to ask yourself, have you tried to take a bus by paying cash before? If so, do you always get your bus fare right all the time without the need to ask the driver? Most of you will not know how much and some of you would think the fare is the same as the EZ-Link card fare!

This is the problem Mr Tan tries to address. Application of Technology may not be always good. The principle I used to assess whether an application of Technology is excellent, good or bad or flawed is to look at KISS. What is KISS?

KISS is Keep It Simple and Stupid. Technology is supposed to make life better by making the process Simple and Idiot Proof. It would and should probably increase productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. If it doesn't, then the system is flawed. (I have used this to assess the Self-Check-in System implemented in Changi Airport as well. I will touch on this again in my future post)

For example, the EZ-Link card is a good system, though not the Excellent system. Why? Because it does not address the issue of people forgetting to tap while exiting the bus. It does not expand to other usage like replacing the cash card system and for retail purpose. This is only passable with a Grade C as compared to Hong Kong's Octopus Card, in my view.

As for the Cash payment system for the buses here, it is utterly complex and it is neither efficient nor productive. If a commuter does not know his fare, he will ask the driver. This will take a couple of minutes normally. And for this system, the bus company has to employ additional supervisors to do spot checks on buses just because of the relatively fewer commuters who use cash payment!

Hong Kong system is something worth looking at. Although Hong Kong's system does not differentiate fare based on whether you use Octopus Card or cash, or that it will give discount when you change bus or train (this is part of the strength of Singapore's system), but it is simple, neat and clean. The bus fare is based on a stepping down system. When you take the bus from the terminal, it will charge you a flat fare of let's say $7.80. At the next section (maybe a few bus stops away), the fare may drop to $6, etc.

The beauty of this system is that it is KISS. When you board the bus, if you use Octopus Card, you only tap once when you board and bus fare deducted. You don't need to worry on whether you would forget to tap when you alight the bus. If you use cash for payment, there will be LED display panel to show how much you should pay. The bus driver will just make sure you pay the right fare. No tickets needed or given! End of transaction.

Is there any technology applied here? Yes. The Octopus Card system as well as the auto-fare calculation display panel. And you don't need bus company to send people going around to check whether you have paid the fare or not!

Singapore could adopt the part of cash payment system. If you are paying cash, then be prepared to pay more or just equal if you are taking full ride to the terminal end. The fare will be calculated based on maximum distance trip. For example, if you take a bus from the start terminal, you will pay the full fare from Start to End Terminal in cash, regardless of where you will be alighting along the way. The LED display panel will show that fare. Even if you take the bus at mid-point, the fare calculated will be from mid-point to End Terminal, regardless of where you want to alight.

For this system, there will not be a need of issuing tickets nor sending bus conductors to do spot checks (save cost to the bus companies). The commuters will have fare clearly stated to them when they board the bus, don't need to waste time of asking the bus drivers and having the drivers to start figuring out the actual fare.

You do not need to be Techie to use such system like searching through internet or phone apps, just like EZ-Link card. It is basically Simple and Stupid Idiot Proof system.

It improves productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. Quite easy to implement as well.

The main problem with Singaporeans is that they do not observe and learn much things about other systems in other places when they travel. Most Singaporeans would think our system is the best around the world without knowing how fast the other cities had progressed.

The worse part is that they started to attack others who would just comment on the inadequacy of our own system without much thinking on whether there are better ways of improving it

On the sideline:

I have known Kin Lian Tan for quite some time now and I know he is always trying to comment on how things in Singapore can be improved. In fact, his consistency in doing so just demonstrates he genuinely care for Singapore.

Try asking Tony Tan to take the public transport, or even board the bus and see whether he knows how to use that EZ-Link card! Or simply ask the standard questions to all President-wannbe, how much is the bus fare in cash for our system! See how many of them could really answer without googling for it!

Thus, I find it extremely disappointing in some Singaporeans who are so myopic and vindictive, blinded by their own prejudice, emotions and misplaced "loyalty" to see the BIGGER context of things. Other than Tan Kin Lian and maybe Tan Jee Say Tan, had any other President candidates contributed their ideas, time and effort in trying to improve Singapore?

Goh Meng Seng

After Note:

Just for illustration. The current cash payment system is horrendous. For short trips, you will pay almost DOUBLE of the card payment. For my system, it may be more or lesser depends on where you board and alight the bus.

But for long distance travel, you will definitely pay lesser than the current system by paying cash.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

HDB 99 Year Lease Time Bomb

At least TWO PAP Ministers (Khaw Boon Wan & Lawrence Wong) have confirmed my point about the HDB 99 Year Lease being ZERO in value when the lease expired. This is an important critical fact that most Singaporeans have ignored for decades and despite of such reality, Singaporeans are still pumping huge amount of money willingly into HDB resale market which in turn, pushes up the new BTO HDB flats!

This is one of the important reason why I would insist a TOTAL de-link of new BTO prices from resale market prices because it doesn't make sense at all.

There are two broad ways of analysing the impacts and implications of this HDB 99 Years Leasehold issue. i.e. Macro Level vs Micro Level.

Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong has recently flip-flopped over this HDB 99 year lease issue. First he admitted that when the lease is up, the HDB flat will have ZERO value and the "Leasers" (which Singaporeans always thought themselves to be "owners") will have to return the HDB flat to HDB and HDB has to return the land to SLA. But a couple of days later, in a dismay effort to cushion off the shocking effect on Singaporeans, Lawrence Wong came up with the notion that "HDB is a good store of value"!

How could HDB flats which will depreciate and end up with ZERO value eventually to be a "good store of value"? That's totally nonsensical and illogical.

There are many people and well known bloggers who have written on this topic and got many points right but miss a few critical points altogether.

Micro Perspective

The former MND Minister Mah Bow Tan and up to now, Lawrence Wong, keeps talking about "Monetize HDB flat for Retirement", which is a totally flawed concept. I would have debated against Mah Bow Tan on this point LIVE on TV if he had dared to accept my challenge back in GE 2011 and I would have shot straight into his face with this 99 Year Leasehold issue of HDB and ask him how could it be possible to "Monetize HDB for Retirement" when most Singaporeans would face great difficulty in selling off their HDB flats when it passed the 50 year lease mark?

Yes, the Time Bomb doesn't start to blow up with it reaches 99 Year but rather, when your flat reaches 50 year old. How many people are able to fork out over $3000 or even $2000 monthly to pay their mortgage for your 50 year old resale HDB flat? Or even if they could afford to, why would they want to buy your flat knowing that it is going to depreciate further and become ZERO in value in the next few decades?

I believe the projections by the chart above (by Soh Yun Yee) is just too overly optimistic. HDB flats which pass that 50 year mark, would have suffered a steep fall in value thereafter!

And look at it this way, for HDB flats, you cannot own TWO HDB flats at the time! Thus it means that if your parents passed away and left you their HDB flat while you still own a HDB flat, you will have no choice but to sell one away! i.e. either you sell off your own HDB flat or your parent's HDB flat! Many Singaporeans will face this problem and with the upcoming silver bombing due to aging population, the resale market will be flooded with lots of old HDB flats with lease less than 60 years or 50 years while demand will be extremely small!

Thus, what is the impact? A major collapse of resale market for HDB flats which have less than 50 years lease!

This is the FUNDAMENTAL difference between a Private Property vs HDB flats with the same 99 year lease. For Private Property, you could still keep that property which you inherit from your parents and rent it out, really "monetize" it, but for HDB? You can't.

For Private Property, there is a good chance for you to seek private en-block and monetize it fully, renewing the lease again when you do so. But for HDB? You will have to wait for HDB to initiate that SERS which is basically non-existence now because it is not PROFITABLE for HDB to do so! This is the reason why only 4% of HDB flats had gotten SERS and Minister Lawrence Wong has "hinted" or rather "WARNED" that Singaporeans should not expect their HDB flats to enjoy SERS!

Macro Perspective

Uncle Leong has rightly pointed the following:

There are 1 million HDB flats, of which 70,000 or 7 per cent are over 40 years old. About 280,000 units are 30 to 40 years old. That’s one in three flats 30 years or older.

But what is exactly the implication? It means that by 2020, the problems of 99 Years Lease will start to surface. Yes just 3 more years. Most HDB flats were built in late 1960s, 1970s to 1980s. From 1970s to 1980s, we have housing estates like Tiong Bahru, Tanglin Halt, Queenstown, Bukit Merah, Bukit Ho Swee, Toa Payoh, Hougang (old Hougang), Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Jurong etc built within this period. It would also mean that many flats from these towns will face the problems when they cross 50 years lease, starting from 2020 (1970 to 2020, it is 50 years)!

It also means that if PAP government just stop doing SERS or do it at extremely slow rate, when the lease expired for all these HDB flats in these towns, where are these Singaporeans going to find another HDB flat to live in? Where to find even HALF the size of these towns (assuming flats will be built double the height of the old ones) add together to house them?

By 2060, we will start seeing these problems exploding.

On the other hand, do you really think your HDB flats could last 99 years? I am doubtful that most HDB flats could even last 70 years while some could not even last 50 years due to poor quality of the material used during the late 1970s to 1980s construction boom. HDB upgrading could only solve parts of these massive problems. Some old HDB flats even have obvious cracks and problems of concretes falling off that walls before they reach 50 years old!


99 Years Lease HDB flats are good policy deal IF AND ONLY IF the flats are kept at extremely low cost and there are continuous efforts to en-block and rebuild them starting from 30 years old onwards. At least 50% of the flats built from 1960s to 1980s should be SERS or en-block and rebuilt before the 99 years lease expired. This will ensure we have enough land for cross generations usage and cater for gradual population growth.

It is not meant to be "Asset Enhancement" nor "Monetize for Retirement" but PURELY cater to the housing needs of Singaporeans of ALL GENERATIONS. 

Unfortunately PAP has strayed too far away from its initial ideology just to insert all means to milk Singaporeans while kicking the cans of problems down the generations instead of maintaining a good balance in providing for the critical basic needs of Singaporeans.

I would not mind to replace my 99 years lease HDB flats with another one when it is near expiry if I have bought my first HDB flat CHEAP at cost plus and continue to buy my second replacement flat CHEAP at cost plus as well!

But the crazy Asset Enhancement Scheme introduced by PAP government during Goh Chok Tong's era has really screwed us up badly with the poison of greed to entice Singaporeans to use more of their CPF funds to pump up the HDB flats while sold the FALSE dream of forever "Enhanced" value of their HDB flats so that they could "Monetize their HDB Flats for Retirement"! It has mixed up and over-drawn, over-stressed our CPF which should be strictly for our retirement needs!

Singaporeans are blinded by the poison of greed of short term gain in buying and selling their HDB flats in one or two generations, but they have unknowingly, sold out their own retirement plan and their future generations' welfare by falling for such poisonous enticement.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, April 07, 2017

TOTD: Are We Too Lenient to People Who Misappropriate Public Funds?

While Kong Hee has expressed "disappointment" over his conviction, many more Singaporeans were disappointed or even angry that he and his gang get their sentences halved!

Apparently the sentences meted out by the judges in reduction of their sentences by half, are totally out of expectation and out of sync with public sentiments.

While we expect the court to be independent from "populist" sentiments as well as any other interference but to have a judgement which is totally in reverse of public expectation would create a lot of unnecessary speculations and distrust of our judiciary.

It is of utmost important for the court to publicize and lay out the basis of their judgement and try to convince the public as well as the legal profession that their judgement is right with legal basis in granting a slash of half the initial jail terms meted out by the High Court. It is an important case which may have dire consequences for future similar cases as a precedence.

In contrast to the previous cases of Mingyi monk who was sentenced to jail of 10 months which was reduced to 6 months later for a the $50K illegal loan a close aide along with forgery of documents as well as TT Durai NKF case which he was sentenced to 3 months jail term for forging invoices, this case involves millions and far more complex financial arrangement. in channeling funds to benefit the spouse's singing career, an immediate family member, of Kong Hee. These three cases would become important case study for the law school and the legal argument should be properly set out.

Although in the CHC case, the sentences are seemingly relatively more severe than the previous two cases, but it begs the question of whether our court or legal system is just too lenient to people who misappropriate public funds.

Misappropriation of public funds as compared to private funds should be of more serious consequences as it involves public trust in public institutions. However, these three cases have somehow gave the public the impression or mis-perception that misappropriation of public funds is of lesser consequences to those found guilty of CBT in private companies.

As the saying goes, Justice needs to be done and seen to be done as well. The disparity between public expectation and the sentences meted out by our court may not be a good sign for Singapore and it needs to be resolved asap.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, March 20, 2017

TOTD: Common Sense Lacking in Singapore Banks' Administration

Thought of the Day - Common Sense Lacking in Singapore Banks' Administration

I never have any problem in using the internet and ATM services provided by the banks in Hong Kong.

When I deposit money or do transfer money to another account, they will strike a good balance between "privacy" and providing "relevant" information.

For example, if I keyed in the account number to deposit or do transfer of money, when there is a confirmation page, it will show me the account number as well as partial name of the account holders., eg. Gxx Mxxg Sexx instead of a total blackout or lack of account information. This is to ensure that I am transferring to the correct account!

The printout slip should also review partial account number as well as partial account name to whom the money had been transferred or deposited into, instead of a total lack of account information!

As for the e-Statement, it is pretty silly to send me a "consolidated statement" with only opening and ending balances for my accounts!

Internet access only provide 6 months of details and what if I want to keep a set of my accounts?

Seriously, if this is the type of standards we have in Singapore banks, no wonder we are losing out to Hong Kong as a financial hub! And if our elite bankers are to remain so stupidly complacent and total lack of common sense in providing such customer service, then it is just a matter of time we are going to lose out to our neighbours as financial hub as well!

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, March 12, 2017

TOTD: "Racial Chauvinists", Religion, Humanity & Balance

Thought of the Day - "Racial Chauvinists", Religion, Humanity & Balance

This is going to be a "political incorrect" and sensitive topic but it sets me thinking for quite a long while.

What will happen when a "perceived" Chinese Chauvinist meets a "labeled" Malay Chauvinist?

A good friend of mine, a Malay, told me that his friend "warned" him about me being "Chinese Chauvinist" and wanted him to "stay away" from me. My friend replied "I am also a Malay Chauvinist, so what?"

Simple Labels are thrown around in politics as a means of divide and rule. I get this "Chinese Chauvinist" label ever since my first electoral contest in Aljunied GRC under WP because I played the role as "Chinese Anchor" by making more speeches in Mandarin during elections rallies. My SAP school background has also been played up to justify this label of "Chinese Chauvinist". But as far as I am concerned, technically speaking, I am not truly a Chinese educated person. I always tell others I am "half Chinese-educated" because SAP schools aren't really "Chinese Education" at all.

Yesterday at the Water Protest, I met a veteran Malay political activist/politician who has been labeled as "Malay Chauvinist" by PAP during one of the hotly contested elections. Guess what happens? Did the "fight" between the two "Chauvinist" figures occur? Nope.

He said to me that he has been following my various postings and find that I have been very fair in writing towards the Malays/Muslims issues.

Deep down in my heart, I regard everyone as a Human Beings first (unless you want to be a dog of some kind...) before you are racially or religiously classified. We have the same color of blood running in our veins. As human beings, we should have the same understanding of Humanity.

I just told him that sometimes, for some "sensitive Malay/Mulsim" issues or perspectives, it is better for Chinese or non-Malay/Muslim to speak up for them, else PAP people would use the opportunity to put labels on those Malays/Muslims who dare to utter those words. We are humans and Singaporeans, we look after and speak up for each other. Don't ever allow PAP to use "divide and rule" on us anymore.

PAP has always emphasized on the FEAR of racial disharmony and what not. It has always proclaimed that we need "racial balance" and it has always been playing the racial card whenever it suits their agenda. The Elected Presidency and GRC system the most prominent examples. Of course, at the same time, it will disallow others from "playing racial politics".

The curious thing is this. While PAP played the racial card well and regularly, it has always shy away from the topic of "religious balance" in politics. Religious political perspective is more sensitive than racial politics to PAP. The last opposition politician who touched on this "most sensitive" topic of "religious balance" in PAP government, got hammered and chased out of Singapore. This is none other than Mr Tang Liang Hong. He had two labels thrown at him, not one. "Anti-Christian Chinese Chauvinist". That was the exact label.

Despite the fact that Mr Tang can speak Fluent Malay and learned Indian Dance, the "Chinese Chauvinist" label was put on him.Yet some Singaporeans actually buy PAP's story! Just because he is really "Chinese educated" and also speak fluent Mandarin. The "Anti-Christian" label was put on him just because he mentioned about the imbalance of religious mix within the Cabinet in one of the dialogue sessions.

He had just poked at the sensitivity of PAP government, which was and still is factually correct.

Religion is of course, a sensitive and emotional issue. Some people could lose their sensibility and even human logical mind when discussing religious topic. Especially in politics, it makes people irrational, ignoring all other issues but focusing solely on their own religious beliefs.

I have met several people of such mindset in my FB. When it comes to the issue of "Israel", it seems that some people just went bonkus. They were "known" to be "opposition supporters" but when I try to make sense of the happening in Israel as an issue of atrocities against humanity, they will somewhat justify that as "Palestine is the God's promised land to Jews". Well, for people like me who do not believe in Abrahamic faiths, this is really a non-issue. The real issue of the day is that sufferings to humanity are happening in Palestine due to Israel's unreasonable doings.

At the end of the day, they would end up with "I will not vote for you" just because I am "against Israel"!

I raise this point to illustrate how religious faiths could greatly affect one's rational thinking and we should NOT pretend that such things don't happen. I would say that beside racial balance, religious balance in politics is an important key issue for Singapore as well. This is especially so when the Abrahamic faiths followers are somewhat affected by the tensions created in the Middle East.

Every religions will have its extremist factions. They might be the minority but their twisted teaching may affect a lot more people unknowingly. Even Buddhism has its fair share of cults created over the decades and centuries.

In Singapore's context, we have to eradicate and prevent such extremism from evolving in ALL religions in Singapore. And the best way to effect such preventive measures is to have a good balance of representation of people with different religious beliefs in parliament as well as the Cabinet. The religious moderates should dominate the political sphere, in prevention of any extremism from any religious faith from hijacking the platform.

However, comparatively, Buddhists and Taoists are rather inactive in the political sphere. Somehow, among the Buddhist community, there is a subtle inherent discouragement of political engagement or involvement due to our religious belief. Most of the Buddhists would just take a detached attitude towards politics. Their religious faith is personal and do not see the need or importance of political involvement.

Even more so for the "elites" in the Buddhist community. They view politics as "dirty" and it would hinder their own practice of mindfulness, gaining merits so that they could be reincarnated or reborn into better realms or even attaining Nirvana.

This is why in Singapore, even though the Buddhist/Taoist community is the largest among the various religions, we are "under-represented" in the political sphere.

But I think otherwise. Buddhists could well be the balancing force in Singapore politics when the tension between the Abrahamic faiths could well spill over from Middle East.

The reason why I could put up a FAIR position on the issue of Islam, Malay and Israel is not because I am Chinese but rather, I am a Buddhist and not bounded by the Abrahamic-faith mindset. I see things as it is, in modern context and I am not bounded by whatever past historical religious happenings in the Middle East.

Having said that, I personally feel that Catholics are generally more moderate in nature. They have a better understanding that Islam, has similar roots to their faith. It is a curious point because the Crusades and Jihads have been fought bitterly between the Muslims and Catholics centuries ago. But they have evolved.

I had a Catholic friend who said that Catholic encourages fasting for one month prior to Easter or Good Friday. They will fast for a meal a day and the money saved from this meal, they will donate out to charity. Doesn't that sound familiar? The only difference is that Muslims and Catholics chose to fast on different months but both believe that fasting is essential in keeping mindfulness about the cleansing of their body and mind.

Sometimes many people ask me to give up opposition politics altogether. Well, I will give up eventually and hopefully soon. Like all good Buddhists, I would like to have my last years of my life spent in seclusion and private practice to attain enlightenment. It would be a great blessing if I could become a monk in this life. But for the time being, I will have to continue to play my role and duty to my country.

Hopefully when the time is up, I shall know by Divine intervention. :)

Goh Meng Seng