Monday, April 30, 2007

NSP Press Release - Labour Day Message 2007

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) stands in solidarity with the workers in Singapore. We are strongly of the view that each and every Singapore workers has contributed tremendously and significantly to the building of this nation. We lament however the lack of sincere treatment by the PAP government towards the hands which toiled to keep Singapore afloat.

The clearest testimony of that affront is illustrated in the PAP government’s unabashed claim that the nation owes its billions in GDP to the “extraordinary” leadership of the PAP, and as such the PAP must necessarily be compensated with “extraordinary” escalating wages. While the GDP of Singapore has grown over the years, the salaries of many Singapore workers have proportionately stagnated, seen tokenish improvement, or sadly even regressed.

Singapore workers have been mercilessly pounded by salvoes of undignified government measures such as non-negotiable hikes in GST, property tax, utility charges, public transport fares, postage cost, medical fees, education costs, and even PAP town councils fees. The PAP government does not pause for an empathising moment from inflicting punishing measures on the workers.

We are painfully concerned that many workers are now unable to accumulate sufficient savings to contemplate a decent retirement at old age, or to meet their medical expenditures. We are equally disturbed that the PAP’s more liberal policy on foreign workers has seen a collapse in salary floor for the lower-income workers. This trend is now rapidly infecting the middle-income workers caught in a hard squeeze of facing cheaper foreign competition and higher cost of living while receiving lesser state subsidies.

It is all the more deplorable that the PAP government now decides to prescribe the “bitter medicine” of urging workers to “work for as long as he can”, and to completely forgo the concept of retirement. It is also painful to see workers, especially those who have lost their jobs through the sordid government policies, literally begging for an increase in state assistance, only to be seen as a liability by the PAP government who wastes no time dismissing the pleas as one stemming from a “crutch mentality”.

The NSP is disappointed that Singapore workers are unable to enjoy the fruit of their 40-years of labour, needing to practically ‘work to their graves’. And to aggravate matters, the workers’ unions in Singapore have evolved from one amplifying the muffled cries of concerns of the workers, to one serving as a mere communication-bridge to disseminate and persuade workers to accept debatable government labour policies.

Nevertheless, the NSP is optimistic that Singapore workers will be steadfast in their quest to seek a fairer alternative for themselves and their future generations. We are hopeful that the Singapore workers will one day regain the sense of respectability and purpose that is enshrined in the original spirit of Labour Day.

We wish all Singapore workers peace and hope.

Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party

Friday, April 27, 2007

My next article....

My Next Article will be on Public Transport. We are expecting another round of Public Transport fare hike and I will examine whether our public transport companies are developing a "crutch mentality" in demanding fare hike every now and then. :)

My article will mostly base on my understanding of the Hong Kong transport companies, including their train companies.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Finland has "Mediocre Govt"?

I wanted to rebut MM Lee's comment in parliament during the debate on Ministerial pay hike on the Nordic countries having "mediocre" governments when their government leaders are paid less than Singapore's "WORLD CLASS TOP PAY" political appointment holders. But it seems that it would be more appropriate to let those from the Nordic countries to rebut him straight out.

I have a special interest in Finland's economic development as well as its education system when I started off my research on "Thinking Economy" or what is commonly known as "Innovative Economy". Finland's success in turning its economy around after suffering huge unemployment and recession after the fall of USSR is well documented. There is no reason for Singapore's leaders not aware of such prominent modern economic miracle.

Finland's education system is one of the most broad based and sophisticated. Finnish have one of the highest education level in the world and this has transformed its economy from "knowledge base" economy to one that is driven by "social-technological innovations". They are already few steps ahead of Singapore in terms of strategic economic development. This fast economic development pace is driven by a well represented, multi-partisan government that values democratic political-social consensus.

It is really unimaginable to hear MM Lee trying to justify a hefty pay rise for our already "WORLD CLASS TOP PAY" ministers by running down countries like Finland! The truth is, even our WORLD CLASS TOP PAY ministers are visiting Finland to learn from them with regards to the re-designing our local education system!

Anyway, this is an article taken from

Danish citizen responds to MM Lee’s “mediocre government” comment

April 23rd, 2007 by mrbiao

Today, I received an interesting comment from a reader all the way from Denmark. Here is his well-researched and insightful response, reproduced in full.


I read with interest Mentor Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s remark in Singapore’s Parliament that Denmark, Finland and Switzerland can afford mediocrity in the remuneration of their ministers.

I shall restrict my observations to Denmark and Finland.

These 2 Nordic countries reward their leaders, in both the private and public sectors, somewhat less handsomely than Singapore. Despite this, I would suggest that both countries’ governments are by no means mediocre, and neither have they evinced any indication of being able to afford it.

Finland has managed to weather the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, a market for 20% of its exports, in no small part due to its successful transformation from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. Its leading multinational, Nokia, is the market leader in the mobile telecommunications industry, with a global market share of 36% in the manufacture of mobile phones (Q42006) and revenues of €41.121 billion (2006). While most of the credit for this success story can be attributed to the Finnish private sector, Finland’s government had a significant role to play in creating the optimal framework for the flourishing of the technology sector. From the mid 1960s onwards, there were special efforts to expand higher education, with a law on higher education passed in 1966, the result being that Finns are some of the most well-educated people in the world.

The Finnish government was also instrumental in pushing for the promotion of GSM as the European mobile telephony standard, based on the Nordic countries’ experience of NMT, an earlier, pan-Nordic standard. The early adoption of GSM in Finland provided the platform for Nokia’s global breakthrough. Decades before the global liberalization of telecommunications markets in the 1990s, Finland’s telecoms market had already been liberalized, and thus had possibly the world’s most competitive market for telecom operators and equipment makers. Credit for this is in no small part due to the role of the Finnish government. Finland devotes a higher percentage of its GNP to research and development than most countries, and the role of the government has been critical, especially in the early 90s, where public-funded research increased despite recession.

In the case of Denmark, the government made the decision in the 1970s to intensify research into renewable energy. Important research was carried out at Risoe, the government research centre, into wind energy. It took political courage to subsidize feeder tariffs for wind turbine-produced electricity. That decision has paid off handsomely. Today, Danish-based companies have a global market share of ca. 50% in the manufacture of wind turbines, an industry with global annual growth rates of 30%, and estimated revenues of €10 billion (2006, est.). Indeed Denmark’s Vestas has recently set up engineering and research facilities in Singapore.

In more general terms, I would submit that both countries’ systems and governments are not mediocre, and are like Singapore’s, acutely aware of not being able to afford it. Rather than Europe being there to catch Finland and Denmark should they falter, both countries have been net contributors to the European Union budget since their accession. Mediocrity is not a hallmark of either society either. In the last 30 years, both countries, despite their small populations, have produced individuals who have won Olympic gold medals, Oscars and Nobel Prizes. They have produced New Economy pioneers, for example Finland’s Linus Torvalds, the creater of Linux (an open-source operating system and competitor to Microsoft’s Windows) and Denmark’s Janus Friis, co-founder of Skype (a peer-to-peer telephony application).

In conclusion, both countries’ positions as globally competitive economies and high-achieving societies have been attained against the backdrop of low corruption levels, and high levels of trust between citizens and government, and seemingly despite high taxes and comprehensive welfare states. This has not required stratospheric levels of remuneration of government leaders and officials.

Mr. Gregory Glen
Holstebro, Denmark

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mr. Brown has done it again!

Hahaha... Mr. Brown has done it again! The Bak Chor Mee man is back to talk about Ministerial Pay Hike! Hilarious.

Link: Mr. Brown

If after listening to this podcast you decide to send a strong message to PAP ministers, you could sign the online petition against Ministerial pay hike here.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Before going into the lengthy and serious article, let's have some laugh by watching the video... all thanks to The Online Citizen







政治家需要环境来培育的。难道我们现今社会真的无法培育出新一代的政治家吗?纵然我们长期被强行灌输功利主义的价值观,甚至大选时也被执政党利用物质上的利弊来威迫利诱选民,我还是相信在许许多多新加坡人当中存在着一些不畏权势,不为利诱所收买的人。上一次大选至少证明了有33。3% 的新加坡人就有这种骨气,深明大义的认知。





Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NSP Press Release on Ministerial Salary Hike

Finally, the National Solidarity Party has issued a press release in response to PAP government's intention to increase ministers' pay. ;)

Ministerial Salary Hike – Please Don’t Leave Workers Behind

The NSP shares the people’s displeasure over the latest campaign by the PAP government to justify salary hike for the civil servants. The government should not think that the common people would not understand the implication that the hike will invariably translate to even higher salaries for the Ministers. Such an assumption would be highly insulting to the people.

The NSP does not disagree with the fundamental principle that career civil servants should receive just rewards for their useful contributions to the public. However, as officeholders elected by the public, it is wrong for Ministers to demand salaries far higher than the non-elective state employees. Furthermore, it is inadmissible to rigidly peg Ministerial salary benchmarks to the highest earners in the private sector instead of pegging to the Ministers’ measurable performance.

Even without more salary increment, the Ministers are by no means short-changed. Ministers (as well as Parliamentary Secretaries and Speakers of the House) are eligible for pension after 8-years of service in their respective offices. Ministers also continue to draw a ministerial salary even as they are cashing in their pension. And with a salary that would effortlessly qualify them for the small exclusive segment of multi-millionaires of the country for which there are less than 2%, there is little reasons for Ministers to think they are underpaid.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say recently commented that pay hike for Ministers will benefit workers. Regrettably, he did not clarify that the pay hike will mainly contribute to the widening of the gap between the median wage (the wage below which 50% of the workers are earning) and the average wage, a figure skewed higher by having more high-earners. Moreover, workers have to brave hikes in GST, public transport, electricity, and postal services, while Ministers ‘weather’ a hike in their salary. The NSP believes that the formula for Ministerial salary must factor in the wage disparity between the low and high earners, as well as the structural unemployment rate. We further believe that the formula must be made transparent to the public.

The NSP further questions the logic of Senior Parliamentary Secretary Amy Khor that other countries with low reported salaries for their Ministers would not have a good, clean, and efficient government. We believe the availability of examples like Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland (which the Singapore government had wanted to emulate) exposes the flawed argument that the progress of a country depends on highly-paid Ministers who demand ever more.

Ultimately, we will like to remind the PAP government that the money to fund the salary hike does not descend from the heavens, and will unavoidably result in higher taxes, fees, charges, and levies for the common people, if the country’s reserves are not to be compromised.

In conclusion, the NSP is unconvinced that inflationary salary increment for Ministers is justified. It is morally abhorrent for the PAP government to attempt to misguide the nation into believing that the value of the highest elected public offices of a country is measured principally by the amount of remuneration that is paid to the Ministers. We do not welcome the development where the Singapore government is increasingly opined by the public as ‘political mercenaries’.

We believe that the disquiet from the ordinary citizens warrants the matter to be put to a national referendum. The PAP Ministers should also candidly state to Singapore voters during all future General Elections the price of their service which the nation is expected to pay (if they are elected), so as to accord voters the opportunity to fairly assess their choices.

The NSP respects the frequent proclamation by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that his government will “leave no one behind”. But with another Ministerial salary hike, almost everyone will be left far behind.

Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Is Ministers' Pay Hike Reasonable? -- Benchmarking Ministers' Pay

Is Ministers' Pay Hike Reasonable? -- Benchmarking Ministers' Pay

(You could sign the online petition against Ministers' Pay hike here)

So the spin is out in full force, trying to justify the impending ministers' pay hike. Expectedly, the civil servants' pay is being used as a collateral in PAP's argument for its ministers' pay hike.

There are a lot of emotional out burst from the middle class that protested against such obscene amount of “suggested” pay hike. The more likely result would be that PAP will just say that they are not going to implement a “full pay hike according to the benchmark” that they have set for themselves, but maybe half or even less of it. Even so, we must first examine whether pay hike is justifiable. If we want to do so, we must examine carefully the logic of the benchmark that they set.

As we know, in the private sector, remunerations are determined by performance and it is never about “how much a person could earn” from other companies. i.e. It is never about “opportunity cost” of individuals' value but rather, the value or performance the individuals could contribute to the company.

Thus, the benchmark that PAP government has set for themselves have laid on the wrong fundamental premise. If they want to be like the private sector, then they should benchmark their salary according to the private sector's standard of benchmarking and not the amount of the money that they are giving.

For the record, ministers are entitled to pensions after they have served 8 years and above 55 years old. In fact, according to PM Lee in one of the parliamentary sitting, there are ministers who are drawing a pension as well as a salary at the same time. Do we have any private companies here in Singapore that give pension as well as salary at the same time to their employees?

PAP has argued that they need to “attract talents” thus need to benchmark their ministers' pay to private sectors. This logic is flawed for the following reasons:

1)When a private firm employed their talents, they have set it clear the remuneration packages. But PAP Ministers were elected without telling voters how much they will cost taxpayers! No private firm will allow their CEOs to raise their remuneration package AFTER they are employed! They can't just say, hey, the other firm is offering their CEO XXX amount of salary, you should do the same. PAP should tell voters how much their ministers will cost voters during elections so that the voters will decide whether to “employ” them by voting them in.

2)Private firms benchmark their leaders according to their performances, so PAP government should do likewise.

3)By benchmarking ministers' pay according to the top earners, then it would mean that as long as PAP government could make sure the top income earners could get more each year, their own ministers' pay will increase accordingly. This is illogical as the government should take care of the interests and welfare of MOST Singaporeans and the ministers' should be benchmarked according to the interests of the majority of Singaporeans instead of the few top income earners.

4)We will end up with a situation that when income disparity widen, ministers' pay will continue to rise even though the average workers' income is stagnant or worse, regress over time. This is totally absurd and unacceptable.

5)Great politicians are recognised and respected for their visions, leadership and sacrifices to the common good, definitely not for hefty million dollar pay. No matter how small our nation is, if we could not cultivate such public spirit of serving, I do not think our Nation will last very long in time to come.

6)PAP government always wanted to claim that they are “First World Government”, it should only be logical for them to benchmark their ministers' pay to “First World Governments” around the world. Many people have shown that other ministers around the world do not need the kind of million dollar annual salary of our government to run a country with more people and higher GDP. Some have even achieved first in economic efficiency as well as competitiveness. It would simply mean that the “productivity” of our ministers will definitely lose out to these truly “First World Governments”! PAP government has always complained about “high wage cost” of workers and that wage increase should not be more than productivity growth. Why isn't ministers' pay benchmarked against GDP growth instead? Or overall productivity growth of the nation? Double standards?

7)The list of top income earners will change from time to time. It means that those in private sectors may face risk of pay cut or will earn less in the year. But the irony is that the ministers' pay will not go downwards together with the individuals who are listed as top income earners in any one year. They will always compare to those earning more, not lesser! This is inherently counter intuitive. Which jobs in the world will guarantee you that you will always be the top income earners in your country?

So, the next question is, how should the ministers' pay benchmarked? What is a reasonable benchmark in view of the job nature of the ministers?

In order to answer this question, we should first determine what is the primary role of the government? It is to take care of the interests and welfare of the citizens. Thus, in my view, ministers' pay should be pecked closely to indicators of the majority of citizens, instead of the privileged few.

From the statistical point of view, the median income should be the indicator that represents the income that most workers earn. Instead of using the mean or the higher percentile of income earners as an indicator for benchmarking, the median income should be used instead. (The Gini coefficient which means income distribution/income gap is based on the difference between median and mean income. If the Mean (average) income is very much greater than the Median income (income at the 50th percentile), it means that the income gap has worsen.)

The aim of the state is also to ensure that the economy could produce enough jobs for citizens. The most undesirable situation would be citizens being trapped in prolonged structural unemployment. Thus I think it is only logical to include the rate of structural unemployment into the calculation of ministers' pay.

Of course, the last criteria should be ministers' pay rise should not be above Total Factors Productivity (TFP) growth rate. This will only be consistent to the treatment to normal workers on the ground.

My suggestion here of benchmarking of ministers to “performance” may not be exhaustive in nature but the fundamental idea is that we should benchmark their salaries to their performance as leaders of the country instead of what other people are getting in private sectors.

Goh Meng Seng