Thursday, August 27, 2009

MM Lee, what are we fighting for? II

My response to the Forummer Soh.

Dear Soh1973,

Thank you for your response. You have definitely struck a cord in me.

I have always maintained a very positive outlook to reservist training, even though my logistic unit is not something that anyone would get excited about "fighting". For every reservist training, it is always difficult to convince the need of such army training to my men where they could be more "productive" somewhere else.

Low Morale is the greatest problem for an army, even if it is a logistic battalion. And it seems that over the years, the morale is getting lower and lower. More and more people are asking for deferment and most of the reasons are work related. The most important underlining reason is the FEAR of losing the job to someone else, especially FT.

But even then, we could still maintain basic discipline and morale by giving the basic fundamental reason of the need of having an operational ready army. This is our home land and we are determined to protect it with our own blood. Even though the huge influx of FT have affected jobs and indirectly created a morale problem, we still have a reason to tell our soldiers we are fighting to protect our way of life.

But the recent outburst of MM Lee as well as some of the PAP ministers have raised eyebrows. The so call "Common Space" provided by our National Pledge and Flag has suddenly become some "unrealistic Highfalutin ideals" only!

I am going back for a one month high key reservist training. I seriously doubt that I have any reasons left to give my men for motivation talk. The only pessimistic talk would be, do it good, do it fast and F off early back home.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MM Lee, what are we fighting for?

A truthful view of a forumer in response to my earlier article, "Defending Our Nation's Core Values".

As an Army Officer myself, I do feel the difficulty in convincing my men next time I meet (coming very soon!) why are we spending weeks or even early a month this year to go for reservist training when what we are supposed to defend as a Nation has been trivialized as "Highfalutin ideals" by MM Lee.

The following article is written by a fellow Singaporean:

It has been a long time since I came into the coffeeshop. I must say, very little has changed since the delphi days.

I must agree with Goh Meng Seng. I am 36 this year and similar to many average Singaporeans, I am frustrated with the influx of FTs who turns out to be more FLs (Foreign Liabilities) then FTs (Foreign Talents). I am also frustrated with how the newer generation of PAP leaders seem so detached from the grassroots. How our leaders seems to have no direction and how often they focus on excuses.

However, I am really disappointed when I read in "Todays" MM Lee's response to what I view is a rallying call for the average Singaporeans and politicians alike to relook at the pledge. There seems to be an over-reaction by MM Lee in trying to put down this rallying call by viewing it as a potential challenge to how the PAP is currently ruling this country.

On one hand, I can fully understand why MM Lee's reaction as he will need to nip any challenges in the bud before it becomes a larger issue. However, on the other hand, I am sorely disappointed that at the end of the day, all the country's pledge meant nothing.

My 4 year old daughter is now in nursery. She is being taught to recite the pledge in both mandarin and english and so far she has memorised it very well. However, I question the rationale behind memorising the pledge now especially after MM Lee's speech in parliament.

I am against many of our ruling party's policies and have acted in accordance to my conscience by my vote for the opposition. My wife on the contrary voted for the ruling party because her rationale is "can we afford to let some opposition party to try when they do not have the track record?" Naturally we argued quite intensely over this issue but then finally decided it is not worth arguing. We agree to disagree.

When we are in the army, we are constantly brainwashed into believing "Duty, Honour, Country" is everything. (Yes, I am one of those ocifer whom many of the forumers here hates). We were brainwashed to the extent that we really meant what we said when we recite the "...with our lives" portion. How sad when all those brainwashing meant for nothing by a simple speech by our MM Lee.

After many years in the work force, I became very disillusioned. ICT is merely something I have to pay for having that rifle and 2 grenades in between my groin. So my mentality is just take it and pay your dues. Then around 5 years back, MINDEF conducted a 1-1 interview where they got these young NSF clerks to call us up and meet us in civilian for interviews. One of the question in that thick stack of questionnaire was "will you defend singapore if war comes."

I remembered my response. I said "If I can get my family out in time, I will not fight" Then the counter question by the clerk was why? My response was "Why should I fight for a country that treats its citizen as mere pawns and runs the country like a company where a selected few are allowed to call out the shots? Why should I fight for ideals that are not by the people, but rather for a selected and privileged few?"

I must qualify my answers then. At that time, I was very into sammyboy coffeeshop and hence my response were very influenced.

Then after a few years, came the period of time where Malaysian politicians were threatening to cut off our water supply. Surprisingly, when my peers and me chatted about these issue, the general concensus was if it is time to fight, we will fight for the nation's survival and that is a legitimate ground for fighting to retain our way of life. A lot of you may not believe this, but the patroitism at that time amongst my peers (most of us are fat and unfit reservist and likely to be used as cannon fodders to waste the enemies' ammo) was intense. Perhaps all those years of brainwashing did work subconsciously after all.

However, after MM Lee's speech in parliament, perhaps all these patriotism will be eliminated. After all, if the main driver behind modern Singapore do not even believe fully in the country's pledge, then do we have a country in the first place?

I have always believed home is where we want to make it to be. Citizenship is merely a piece of paper. Your family is what makes a home. I do agree with Sam that Singapore do not have a culture. However, we are comfortable with it and that is where we make home to be.

In the past, I have always wanted to migrate because I fell in love with the Australian outbacks. However, now after seeing my kids play with their grandmoms and the joy in the grandparents eyes when playing with them, I shifted my point of view and decided that perhaps it is not so bad staying in Singapore as the family is here.

However, I will hate to disappoint my kids if they ask me this question. "Dad, do we really mean what we say when we recite the pledge?"

It is a sad situation. Very few countries in the world have seen their leaders openly come out and say that the pledge is merely a guideline and not a belief that we should work towards. And that we should ignore any rallying calls.

It is especially disappointing when it came from a man who wept in front of public TV because what he truly believed in did not materialise.

Can we now blame the "Quitters" for a lack of identify?

Can we now ask the finger that points at others to look at the other 4 fingers that pointed back to themselves?

It is a sad speech to hear, especially from the man who believed so much in his ideals and wept when it didn't materialise.

Have a good week ahead.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Bar Chor Mee in Eden Paradize - 伊甸园肉挫面

Translated from a Chinese Forum:

作者:李卖蚬 12:08pm 24/08/2009
Author: Li Mai Hum

顾客:老板,你的招牌上写着“伊甸园肉挫面,mee pok够Q、料多、新鲜又正宗“。。
Customer: Boss, your Sign Board claims "Eden Bar Chor Mee, Mee Pok very Q, plenty of ingredients, fresh and authentic"

老板:对呀,这招牌打了四十几年了。。连大明星李连杰、巩俐也来吃我们近年推出的豪华大碗肉挫 面。

Boss: That's right! We have this sign board up there for over 40years already! Even famous stars like Jet Li and Gong Li came to enjoy our latest introduction of Luxurious BIG BOWL of Bar Chor Mee!

顾客:但是hor, 我发现自从你推出豪华大碗套餐肉挫面后, 那些普通碗的用料好像少了很多,香菇不新鲜、没香味,但你用很多酱油来掩饰,肉碎又掺了肥肉太多。。很失败 。 我希望你往后做的肉挫面,不管是豪华套餐或是普通碗,都能秉持着你招牌上所写的。。

Cus: But hor, I find that ever since you have introduced that Luxurious Bar Chor Mee, you have cut back substantially on the ingredients used for those normal small bowl of Bar Chor Mee and your mushrooms are no long fresh, no more fragrance, but you use more soy sauce to make up for the taste. Your Bar Chor are mixed with excessive fat meat... very disappointing. I hope that for whichever category of Bar Chor Mee you made in future, regardless whether it is Luxurious Bar Chor Mee or just normal ones, you could keep the promise that you have stated on your signboard...


Boss: Hey lad, you are so arrogant!

老板:怎么能做到完全正宗呢?上回有顾客叫一碗肉挫面不要猪肝,但他没讲不要猪肝却说有讲,结果让我教训了 他一顿。。你看,有这么挑剔的顾客叫我怎么能完全做到正宗呢?

Boss: How could we possibly create real authentic Bar Chor Mee? Last time, there is one customer who want a Bar Chor Mee without Ter Kua (Pig liver) but he didn't say so, in the end, I give him a good lecture over it... you see, there are so many choosy customers around, how could I ever create Authentic Bar Chor Mee?


Cus: I don't mean this...

老板:招牌写的只是个抱负,又或者,让你看了感觉爽而已。。那是我们的目标,我们会Try啦。。几时做到? 我不知道了leh!

Boss: Those words written on the signboard are just aspiration, rr just something to let you feel good after reading it! That is our aspiration, we will try lah! When we will achieve that? I dunno leh!

老板:..当初写这招牌的我那拍档已经归西去了,他是个理想主义的人,当初幸亏我把招牌修改了一点,要不然 。。

Boss: That partner of mine who wrote this signboard has passed away, he was just an idealist! Luckily back then, I did some amendments, or else...


Cus: or else what?

老板:不然,招牌上还有”吃了不满意, 原银奉还“的字样。。

Boss: Or else, the signboard will have "Money back guarantee if you don't like it" on it...

顾客:这都不是我讲的重点,我只希望你像以往那样,用心为顾客去煮好你的肉挫面,不要忘记你招牌上的理想, 不要辜负了四十多年来支持你的普通顾客。

Cus: All these are not my main concerns. I only hope that you could just be like the past, put in more effort to cook your Bar Chor Mee, just don't forget the ideology you have written on your signboard. Just don't let down those normal customers who have supported you for all these 40 years.

老板:你这是没有根据的,我要把你带回现实。 事实上,我要你承认四十年来,我们都秉着招牌上的理想,朝着那理想改进。。不然顾客怎么还会支 持我们?

Boss: You are baseless, I have to bring you back down to earth. In fact, I want you to admit that for all these forty years, we have been improving accordingly to the ideals stated on our signboards... else, why would get continuous support from our customers?

老板:你看,我助手也承认,我的儿子也承认,我的姨妈姑姐们。。他们都这么认为。你没话说了吧 !呵呵。。

Boss: You see! My helpers have agreed on that, so do my son, my aunts... All of them also agree on this. Do you have anything else to complain? Haha..

顾客:唉!好心叫你改进,你却听不进去。。我还是别等到以后吃到面里有屎才来"Peg Chek",下回我只好去支持别的摊。这可真是把我带回现实 - 有竞争对顾客才会有好处滴。

Cus: Aiyah! I try to ask you to improve out of good will but it falls on deaf ears... I think I better not wait until I have shit in my Bar Chor Mee then I Peg Chek! Next time, I will just support another Bar Chor Mee stall. This really brings me back to reality -- the customers will only benefit when there is competition.

老板儿子: 你不要走、 你不要走! 这里是伊甸园。。杀!很!大!。。

Boss' Son: Hey, come back, come back! This is Eden the Paradize...Damn!... Very big!...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Defendimg Our Nation's Core Values - Democracy, Peace, Progress, Justice and Equality

I have stared at this screen for hours before I could put my thoughts on it. The emotions and feelings within is so complex that I couldn't even find an appropriate title for this posting.

But I know I have to write this because this is a vital crossroad that our country has reached. I feel emotional because I feel that I have been cheated for over 30 years of my life for believing in the basic founding principles of our Nation.

I will never Pledge anything that is "UNREALISTIC" nor "Highfalutin". How could one Pledge to do something that he doesn't even believe in? Furthermore, I do not think that the late Mr. Rajaratnam has written our National Pledge with such "disbelief" to start with.

The PAP refuses to acknowledge that these founding principles and spirit are the key guiding stars of our Nation's development. The reason is simple, they could not answer for their deeds for the past 44 years that have deviated away from these CORE VALUES.

PAP may want to argue its way out of its shameless pervasive acts of extending its monopoly of power which has slowly eroded the fundamental values which this Nation has been founded upon. But there is not a single doubt that the Pledge, as well as our National Flag, have enshrined and embedded all these values permanently to remind us, the present and future generations that what this Nation should be striving for.

Our National Flag, unlike the Pledge which sound like empty words to PAP's ears, is the most important representation of our Nation.

The National Flag symbolizes the following:

Red symbolises universal brotherhood and the equality of man, while white signifies pervading and everlasting purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a rising young nation. The five stars stand for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

EQUALITY appears TWICE in this elaboration of what our National Flag symbolizes. But yet, our PAP ministers have just brush it aside as "UNREALISTIC"?

Words of the Pledge could be so twisted or even ignored by the PAP but I think the Five Stars on our National Flag are not something that the PAP could deny altogether. Yes, the National Flag has specifically enshrined "DEMOCRACY, PEACE, PROGRESS, JUSTICE AND EQUALITY" as "the nation's ideals". It is not just mere "aspirations", so to speak.

Our attention should not be diverted by the racial cards flashed by PAP. Equality comes in many forms and helping minority races who might have been disadvantaged in certain ways are not discrimination but affirmative actions to provide level playing field to achieve equal opportunities for all. Some bloggers have dealt with this issue and I shall not repeat it here. The key issue here is whether we should discard all these Core Values as the guardians of this Nation.

Both the Pledge and National Flags are the creation of PAP itself as it was the dominating ruling party since Singapore was forced into independence. These ideals are the very Promises that PAP has made to Singaporeans; to uphold the ideals of Democracy, Peace, Progress, Justice and Equality. We, as a nation and a people have accepted these values as the CORE VALUES and IDEOLOGIES for our Nation building. We should hold any ruling parties, especially PAP, past, present or future, accountable to these fundamental principles. It is not just about Racial equality but the whole set of CORE VALUES.

To illustrate this important point, let's say if a political party took over as Singapore's ruling party but suddenly it decides to turn Singapore into a monarchy. Or turn Singapore into a Religious based country. Or that it decides to change the Constitution to follow the China's style of political system and declare that this political party will forever be the Ruling Party while the parliament will be filled with appointed or even "elected" people's representative because we are Asian country and we should follow "Asian political system". Or this ruling party promotes apartheid policies under the excuse of "stability"...

Should Singaporeans just accept the excuse of such ruling parties that the founding values embedded in our Pledge as well as our National Flag as "UNREALISTIC" and it is only "REALISTIC" for us to become a country ruled by a religious doctrine or a monarch or full dictatorship etc.?

Of course not! Thus, these values are not just "aspirations", so to speak, but CORE VALUES and guiding principles of this Nation! Singaporeans should revolt against such ruling parties who try to distort our Constitution and rule against the founding principles of this Nation!

Thus, we should not belittle such Ideals and Principles embedded in our Pledge and National Flag by branding them as "aspirations" or "unrealistic highfalutin ideals". These are the guiding lights of our Nation, without which, we will be endangering our Nation to be destroyed by dictatorship or religious fanatics.

I have specifically put up the idea of reciting the National Pledge during the last election rally at Serangoon Stadium during last General Elections basically because I find it necessary to remind all Singapore voters what we are fighting for. What direction our Nation should develop into and we should not be blinded by those "pragmatic talks" of PAP politicians about the "unnecessary hassle" of having "opposition MPs" in parliament.

A political system without the balance of opposition force within will definitely slip into total dictatorship. Anyone who tries to sell you the idea that Democracy could well be alive even without opposition parties are dictators under the cloak of fake Democracy. Anyone who tries to sell you the idea that "Nominated MPs" could do all the magic of what real opposition MPs can do, is trying to hoodwink you into believing that Democracy could well work with "appointed MPs". There are two political systems that work this way in Asia: China and North Korea. Both are communist countries. Is Singapore working towards that direction?

It seems that PAP is trying out that formula and they are openly and deliberately saying it out loud of such intention recently in their Party newsletter, Petir. That article actually claims that we could well have Democracy without opposition parties! Singaporeans should raise their awareness and be guarded of such subtle but bold intention of PAP in selling such twisted idea to us.

All along PAP leaders have been saying that "Western Democracy" is not suitable to Singapore. What is the intent of such political discourse? PAP leaders have been saying that the American two party system is not suitable for us, least the multi-party parliamentary system. In numerous occasions, PAP leaders have stressed that Singapore should have only one DOMINATING RULING PARTY by default, PAP,to survive. PAP's intention to maintain its TOTAL Monopolistic grip on power is very obvious. Is this why they are not wary of bringing up the Pledge as the guiding ideology of Singapore now?

Are they planning to further enhance the idea that Nominated MPs should replace elected MPs and thus opposition parties should be made redundant? Or would they do away with elections altogether and promise to nominate at least certain number of opposition members into parliament? This would suit their "ideal" of having PAP as permanently the dominating ruling party! All under the pretext that the idea of "Democracy" is "UNREALISTIC" or "IMPRACTICAL" for Singapore's economic progress?

These changes may not be made so soon but history has shown that PAP would go all the way to change the rules of the game if the situation is not in their favor. They have implemented the GRC system after losing two parliamentary seats in 1984. They would further increase the size of GRC when they nearly lost Eunos GRC in 1988. Needless to say, they would alter the electoral boundaries of constituencies just to lower the chance of them losing more seats. GRC is their fortress of Power monopoly.

I do not know what they will change next if they finally lose one or more GRCs! To get rid of general elections altogether and promise more NOMINATED MPs in return? If that happens one day and Singaporeans just let it happens without a fight, it would be the end of Democratic Singapore founded upon the fundamental principles and ideology of Democracy, Peace, Progress, Justice and Equality. A new era of total dictatorship will dawn upon us.

To end this article, which may make me the target board of PAP machineries hereafter, I would like to share the following song with all true blue Singaporeans who are determined to defend and develop democracy in Singapore.

Goh Meng Seng

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Challenge of New Media POLITICAL Video Production

As the key person that is in charge of the production of NSP National Day Message Video, I would like to thank The Online Citizen's critique. What are more enlightening are those comments that follow the main article.

I have pushed for Web Video to be produced for a long time in NSP. But due to constrains and strategic considerations, we have to push it back till now. But as someone commented in TOC, political parties in this era could no longer be "no sight no sound but only text" on the internet. The internet Video has opened up a new whole spectrum of possibilities for political engagement.

PAP knows the power of media, especially the motion visuals coupled with emotional voices. This is the main reason why it has put a very tight grip on ALL the mainstream media in Singapore. It monopolized the TV & Radio stations right from the beginning and subsequently, took total control of the print media in Singapore after completing laws that subsequently force the merger of the "defiant" Chinese papers, Nanyang Shang Bao. It has made the mainstream media its tool of propaganda and image building while deprive other political opponents from gaining any space nor exposures through it.

The new era of internet has opened up a New Media frontier. Many Singapore opposition politicians, after years of deprivation of utilizing the mainstream media, have become more reserved, conservative and even skeptical in utilizing the internet as the New Media to enhance their political work. The common view is that the New Media is a double edged sword. But some are more willing to make use of the New Media to breach the Media barriers that PAP set up in the past and present.

The Singapore Democratic Party is one fine example that has been more advanced in utilizing the New Media opportunities provided by internet. Well, some may argue about who is the First to put up a website, use Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and so on to have that super facial "feel good" ego painted on them but the truth is, utilizing New Media for "networking" is very different in exploiting the media to the fullest in terms of carrying political messages to its intended audience.

For example, a "politician" may start a blog or use Twitter, but if what he puts up in his blog or transmitted through Twitter are just some political irrelevant content (like gatherings and complains) and not political messages or ideas, then he is not effective in utilizing these mediums for his political work. Never mind if you are the first politician to write the blog or use Twitter but the truth is you are not effective in utilizing them as political tool.

Web video is the most powerful tool that Internet has provided us thus far. The born of Youtube and other free video portals have provided wide opportunities. But it also poses the great challenges to Singapore opposition who have been a stranger to TV political evangelism for the past 40 years. Video, with sight and sound, is a very different animal from just writing plain text message. It involves a lot more of technical production skills and personal skills than just writing words.

My comrades and I have first hand experience in the web video production processes. Although new technologies and software have somewhat made video production tools more easily available for us, but the key still lies in how individuals perform right in front of the camera. Apart from that, the post production work on how the speech is being edited.

PAP has the opportunities and help from professional producers in the TV stations to make them look good in front of the TV but we do not have such luxuries. SDP is fortunate enough to have the help from some freelance video producer and editor but most other opposition political parties, including NSP, do not have such support. We do not have a proper studio to start with!

Nevertheless, such lack of expertise, proper equipment and venue do not deter me to push for the final production. Whether we like it or not, we have to start somewhere somehow. Although we will be at the lower end of learning curve, but I believe that in time to come, we will be fully ready to fight the New Media Warfare in the next GE.

I am fortunate enough to get the help of friends like Uncle Yap and some people who were in TV production to give me pointers and advice. There are at least three versions of edited video before the final ones are made. I have put up all the versions for public critiques and made respective editing amendments after such critiques are being consolidated.

Some may ask me why do have National Anthem in ALL the three language video production. This comment is most probably made by people who have watched all the three videos. But the respective videos are meant for different people with different language background. In the very spirit of our National Pledge (yes yes, I will be touching on this one later), I do not think we should have different treatment to different videos produced using different languages. The National Anthem is meant for ALL Singaporeans, not just those who use English or Chinese or Malay alone. This is a political video production, it has to be politically correct right from the start.

Some have made comparison to SDP's National Day Message video and said that we could have done something like them, combining all languages into one video. I was pretty impressed with their video production as well but the professional advice I have received is that I should do the same. The reason being that not everyone understand Malay, Chinese or even English. For a political message, it is important to get your targeted audience in different language segment to get the full picture of the message, not just the little different parts and pieces.

Subtitles may help in solving the problem of producing multi-language video but that would mean that at any one time, we will have to put up two different subtitles of two languages. This approach will make things look complicated visually. We cannot assume that everybody can read English subtitles, even though most people do.

Just take for example, if someone who only know Chinese watch SDP video, he may be lost for the rest of message except for the Chinese part. Same for those who only knows Malay or Tamil.

Thus, I was advised that mixing the three language presentation into one is not feasible politically. Political video, it seems, has more considerations than a normal video production like advertisement or just plain home video. It has to be all encompassing and all possible considerations have to be made to cater to the different voters.

Of course, presenting a 5 to 8 minutes speech in a mono-language will have its challenges. As I have mentioned before, Singapore opposition politicians have little real life practice and opportunities to stand right in front of the camera and speak naturally, convincingly etc. It is a LOST ART, so to speak. But we intend to rediscover it.

It is easy for anyone to put up a 5 to 8 minutes speech without video. Any inappropriate gesturing could well be forgotten there and then. But the video will capture every bits of it and present it pure and naked as it is. Of course we could edit away such portion using cut-away (i.e. using other visuals to replace the person while he or she speaks) but for a political message delivered by a person, it is the person's presentation as in voice, body language and gesturing that is important in carrying fore the message.

I was tempted to use cut-away but was advised against it. The politicians will look more like newscasters if such cut-away is used intensively.Another trick was to cut-away to audience just like what they did for PM Lee's National Day Rally but we do not have that.

Many have commented that the film shot was too wide, should have a mid-body shot. However, my production adviser would prefer wider shot! As stated before, politician's gesturing is an important part of a video presentation. It would be frustrating to see the politician gesturing while part of his or her arms are cut off from the video! (Watch Ken Sun's and Wai Leng's presentation for example). When I take a second look at PM Lee's National Day Message Video, yes, the framing does not cut off the hands.

As for the National Day Message itself, I find it quite comprehensive and focused personally. It has raised at least three important issues of Singapore, Housing, CPF as Retirement Financing and FT Policy that affects jobs as the key problems that cause great anxiety to Singaporeans. And such anxiety may diminish our National Identity as a whole. Of course there are much rooms for improvement in terms of messaging but I do not find any big problem in its approach at all.

The most challenging part of a New Media Video is of course, the presenters themselves. But I think for a first time try, they have performed reasonably well, though there are pretty much room for improvement. This actually brings back an important issue, training is vital in political presentation.

All in all, I think we have a good run in the production process, accumulating valuable experiences. We have to address all the challenges we faced in our first run in order to move forward with better production next time round.

I would like to thank all those people who have took the trouble to comment, critique and more importantly, providing valuable feedback to us. I would like to thank TOC once again for their effort in providing us the critique on their well read website. We take all comments and criticisms with great spirit as the necessary nutrients for our growth and progress.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, August 21, 2009

Minibond Gathering in Hong Lim 22 Aug 2009

There will be a Minibond Gathering in Hong Lim tomorrow, 22 Aug 2009.

This gathering aims to put up a petition to the Prime Minister to request his action in getting the relevant authorities to exert social justice for aggrieved Minibond and structured products investors. Particularly, the petition urged the authorities to provide the same compensation option as Hong Kong where financial institutes bought back those investment products at 60% to 70% of original pricing and will return any excess of such amount (after the underlying assets have been sold) to the investors.

Please meet Mr. Tan Kin Lian and group in Hong Lim at 5 pm. Unfortunately, I will have to miss this gathering this time round. The following is message from Mr. Tan Kin Lian:

Tan Kin Lian
There will be a Gathering of investors of the credit linked notes and supporters at 5 p.m. on Saturday 22 August (8-22) at Hong Lim Park. The Gathering will start off with the National Pledge (not Aspiration) that we have been pledging (not aspiring)... for 44 years. I will be extending the Pledge beyond the citizens to include the residents of Singapore. See you there.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, August 20, 2009

信约是个什么东西? What is a Pledge?

This is a comment of a Singaporean (冀居·谢) in a Chinese Forum. Excellent dissection. I shall write on what my views on this issue of Pledge.

Goh Meng Seng

作者:冀居·谢 10:06am 20/08/2009

三分染房 之



去了一个萧锦鸿来了一个维斯瓦(Viswa Sadasivan),使我想起孙文的名言:“世界潮流浩浩荡荡,顺之则昌,逆之则亡。”他所指的潮流就是民主政治。看来官委议员制度接下来应该还有很多微调和改革的空间。




根据马克思主义者对意识形态的定义,我们的信约绝对是意识形态,因为它符合这个:由社会中的统治阶级对所有社会成员提出的一组观念(a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society)。李资政说的“抱负”,是一项长期并最终要实现的东西,但是国民信约如同早报报人所理解的那样,那是我们在“起跑点”时唬人的东西,是出于政治考虑的建国理念,是件旧包袱。加上部长所说的为了继续繁荣富强而不能够去实践,那么这个抱负根本没有动机和理由要国人去信守,是个虚无缥缈,浮在云端的东西,李光耀要把“国会带回现实”(bring the House back to earth),是不是再一次骗人了呢?维斯瓦这招“以子之矛攻子之盾”简直太绝了!咱们的两位资深反对党议员,等着领退休金,什么事都不干了,嘘!





“65后”hiphop议员柏默说:“事实上,维斯瓦先生今天能够不畏后果,站在这里畅所欲言,就否定了所谓‘恐惧氛围’或‘担心报复心理’的存在。而我的反驳,也是民主进程的体现。”—— 他忘了那是议员的特权,一般人是享受不到的。当年惹耶勒南就是太享受这个特权,使到执政党在86年8月通过“国会(特权、豁免和权力)法修正案”,亦可谑称为“惹耶勒南修正案”,专门用来对付敢严词批评的反对党议员。还有执政党国会领袖马宝山近年进行的国会发言程序和时间的改革,官位越大发言时间越长和更自由,都在在使到国会有他讲没你讲(早报也不让维斯瓦的完整言论和读者见面)。维斯瓦先生不知要轮到什么时候,才可以进行反驳?极有可能这个处女秀也成了他的天鹅之歌了。

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The failure of past success - HDB

The news article published on The New Paper is not new. Moons ago, The Malay Newspaper Berita Harian has published alarming figures on those who are forced out of their HDB flats when they could not afford to pay their mortgage. They were even told by the HDB staff to "stay with their friends or relatives" instead of giving them a solution to their housing-financial woes.

The newspaper report actually gave a slanted connotation on the whole issue. Did Mr. Rafi bought a flat that is way beyond his means? Apparently no. Base on a monthly salary of $2,800, his mortgage payment of $900 is just about one third of his total salary. Ask any financial planner and they will tell you that this is quite alright. He did not buy a house that he could not afford back then.

It is only when he lost his job and found a job that pay less than half of what he used to get that make him unable to fulfill his mortgage payment. This is the key problem that the reporter refused to address.

Of course the reporter hinted that the blame of his plight now is due to "ill advice" from property agent but seriously, what other options could he possibly have other than selling off the flat that he could no longer afford?

The REAL BLAME lies in HDB and its policy! HDB KNEW that Rafi and his family can no longer afford to pay the mortgage and the only option is for him to sell their flat. But wait, where should they be living if they sell their flat? HDB refused their plead to rent a flat from them! I mean, rules and regulations aside, HDB could actually sit there and tell people that sorry, they could only live off the street or live with somebody else and they could not rent any flat to them!

What has become of this PAP government? This is a clear case of REAL NEED! Housing policy such as HDB has been one of PAP's greatest political achievement back in the 1970s and 1980s. They were proud to say that every Singaporeans will have a decent roof over their heads and this is their great political achievement. But now, this no longer holds any truth!

HDB, through the PAP government's policy, has actually DENIED Singaporeans of any roof over their heads! This should be the REAL ISSUE of this newspaper report! And there are many more people in the same plight and it was reported in Berita Harian that many Singaporeans who could not pay for their flats will be evicted out of their flats and HDB will not provide any alternative housing (i.e. rented flats) for them!

I think PAP's ultra-capitalist approach to governing Singapore has just gone too far. Where are the visions and promises of the past PAP for Singaporeans to have decent roof over their heads, a decent job, really cheap subsidized healthcare and the great promise of CPF covering their retirement needs?

Contrary to what Prime Minister Lee wanted us to believe in his National Day Rally, Singapore has become worse, not better! At the very least, back in 1970s and 1980s, we do not leave people to live off the street without a roof over their heads. We did not need to demand patients and their family members to guarantee that they are able to pay for whatever medical costs before admitting them into the hospitals which are now really overpriced. We did not have massive influx of Foreign workers to become cheap labour substitutes of Singapore workers and depressing our wage. Our wages are stagnant or even regressed for some segment of Singaporeans for the past 10 years while price hikes (Public Transport fare) become a common practice.

PAP's past success has failed. CPF as retirement funding has failed. HDB as part of 100% housing for all has failed. Affordable basic Healthcare has failed. Providing stable and good pay jobs has failed. There is really little past success of PAP left.

Goh Meng Seng

Mon, Aug 17, 2009
The New Paper

Their spiral into the streets

RISING property prices have a way of blinding you to stark realities like affordability.

Just ask Mr Mohamad Rafi and Madam SBagam.

Their stories are similar - they bought HDB flats they couldn't afford and when they fell behind on payments, they made poor decisions, sometimes based on wrong advice.

Read all the stories:
» Her descent into the van
» So what can we do for them?

They claimed that housing agents told them to sell their flats and pocket the profit, then get rental flats.

But HDB rules do not allow someone who sold a flat in the open market to get a rental flat until 30 months after the sale.

Increasing demand for rental flats also means they have to join a queue, says HDB.

Meanwhile, they run out of money and end up homeless.

The problem has raised concern in the Malay-Muslim community, with the Minister for Muslim Affairs, Mr Yaacob Ibrahim, recently mentioning a need for the Malay community to exercise financial prudence.

He said last month: 'There is enough evidence to suggest that the Malay community is overstretched.

'They have extended themselves in terms of credit, buying homes beyond their means... there is a downward spiral effect.'

Mr Mohamad Rafi used to earn $2,800 a month as a forklift driver. He didn't get any CPF contribution, had little savings, but the 30-year old newlywed didn't think twice before buying a four-room flat for $244,000 in Clementi in the open market.

He used $29,000 from his CPF savings from his earlier jobs and took a HDB loan, repaying $900 a month.

That was in 2000 and the economy was booming.

But, as the economy slowed, he was retrenched after his company went bust in 2004. He managed to get another job as a forklift driver, but at just $1,200 a month (without CPF contribution).

By then, he and his homemaker wife had two children.

As his debts spiralled out of control, his HDB repayments dwindled to irregular payments of $200-$400.

'There was no way I could afford the flat anymore,' he said.

Within three years, he ran up arrears of $20,000. After repeated reminders, HDB sent him an acquisition letter in 2007 along with a court order.

He was told that if he wanted to keep his flat, he had to pay up half of his arrears.

'Where to find $10,000 like that?' he said.

Grace period

Desperate, he sought the advice of a property agent friend who told him that he could seek an MP's help to ask for a grace period.

He was granted 10 months' grace and was advised by his friend to sell his flat in the open market.

At end 2007, he sold his flat at a loss of $19,000 and had hardly anything left after settling his arrears.

With no money and no home, two children and his wife pregnant with their third child, he was at his wits' end.

His parents' flat in Bukit Panjang had been sublet, he said. So the family headed to Hawaii Hostel in the Bencoolen area where they paid $36 a day for a simple air-con room and free breakfast.

The family of four squeezed into a double bed.

'It was so cramped, I was sleeping like a mummy,' he said.

In March last year, his parents asked him to move in with them after the subletting period ended.

But shifting to his parents' flat came with a hefty price.

He had to quit his job to take his 62-year-old mother to the National Kidney Foundation dialysis centre in Toa Payoh thrice a week

Why didn't he ask his wife to take his mother for dialysis? He claims she was busy looking after the children.

He also had to help his father, then 65, sell ice-cream on a pushcart, for which he got $15 to $25 a day.

After a family dispute in March this year, he left his parents' home. Now with a 5-month-old daughter, the family of five had to put up at his father-in-law's rental flat in Bukit Merah.

With no income, he could not support his family and even took his children out of school.

His first daughter was in Primary 1 while his second was in kindergarten.

He returned to Hawaii Hostel last month but left after five days because he could not pay the bill.

For the past month, his family have been roaming the streets in the Bugis area in search of shelter.

They have spent nights outside Fu Lu Shou Complex, Sim Lim Tower, Sim Lim Square and Burlington Square.

On Wednesday night, they rested in the 24-hour McDonald's outlet in Bugis.

'People come to McDonald's to eat, but for us it is where we sleep,' he said.

He now works at the Thieves' Market in Sungei Road as a driver-cum-helper for one of the hawkers.

He now regrets buying his flat without anticipating that his financial situation could change.

Asked whether he felt ashamed, he said: 'What to do, it's our reality now.'

Nurul Asyikin Mohd Nasir, newsroom intern




Mr Mohamad buys 4-room flat in Clementi for $244,000. He was earning $2,800 a month and could afford $900 monthly HDB payments


Economy goes bad. His salary drops to $1,200. Can only make irregular payments of $200 to $400


After repeated reminders, HDB sends acquisition letter. He approaches MP for help and gets 10 months' grace

end 2007:

Mr Mohamad sells flat at $19,000 loss. Left with no cash after paying HDB, family stays in hostel

Mar 2008:

Moves to parents' home in Bukit Panjang. Mr Mohamad quits job to look after mother. Earns about $15 a day selling ice-cream

Mar 2009:

Leaves parents' home after dispute in March. Moved into in-laws' home. Left the home last month. Now living on the streets

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What PM Lee did not address in his NDR speech...

The following message has been posted on the internet forum today. This is a common outcry from many people, not only those in their 40s but now, even those in their 20s and 30s.

While Mr. Lee Kuan Yew tried his very best to address this touchy issue of Foreign Talent Policy which drew many sarcastic and even talk back remarks in the internet forums (of course SPH would not report on such responses), his son, Prime Minister Lee, chose to skip this issue altogether.

Religious harmony issue isn't the main key concern of True Blue Singaporeans now as it was 40 years ago. It may still be a sticky issue to those NEW citizens who have yet to get used to the compact multi-racial living environment, but I do not think those who are born in Singapore and live through most of their lives here have any problems with their other race residents at all.

The main key tension in our society now is about losing jobs to CHEAP FOREIGN LABOUR SUBSTITUTES. We will welcome REAL FOREIGN TALENTS who could do jobs that Singaporeans may not have the expertise in, so that we could learn from them. We would not have any problem to even pay them more in terms of salary because they have the skills that we don't have. But there so many thousands, even tens of thousands of Singapore workers who are displaced by CHEAPER FOREIGN LABOUR that it is becoming a very common talking point of the town!

This is the main key point of grievances of Singaporeans nowadays. It is impossible for us to accept that kind of pay that they are paying these foreign workers basically because we have a house mortgage and a family to support in this high cost city!

Ironically, the influx of foreign talents have affected the property prices in Singapore as well. They have even affected the prices of new HDB flats! The HDB's pricing mechanism of "market subsidy" is totally flawed. Foreign workers who have become Permanent Residents increased demand on the HDB resale market. But the supply in HDB resale market is pretty stagnant basically because Singaporeans bought their HDB flats to live, not to invest, speculate or for resale. Thus we have witness the HDB resale price being sticky upwards even during this recession basically because the supply is stagnant while the demand keeps pressure up by NEW Permanent Residents.

In the end, the prices of NEW HDB flats which are basically meant for Singaporeans are kept in high price levels when it is pegged against the resale market prices. With such pricing mechanism, the Foreign Talent Policy has contributed to higher HDB prices, Lower wages and it makes young people to think twice before getting marriage. And when Singaporeans are not getting married earlier and have less babies, PAP insists that we need even more Foreign workers! This will become a big vicious cycle in the end!

Apparently the Prime Minister and his Cabinet do not have a solution to reverse this vicious cycle and thus refrain from mentioning about the SOCIAL and HOUSING problems created by their Foreign Talent policy. But such ostrich attitude will not keep the problems away. It will become more serious in the years to come but no one knows when will be the boiling point.

Goh Meng Seng

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 1:03 AM
Subject: RE: Bitter guy blogs about it

I am an engineer. Over the past year, I have been squeezed out of my job by cheaper Chinese, Malaysian and Indian engineers.

To them, $2000 is much when they remit back home.
To me, I can’t even afford a HDB, as frugal as I try to be, because the foreigners keeps driving home prices up on a daily basis.

To add insult to injury, more of the foreign graduates replacing me had their university fees paid by our very own Ministry of Education. These graduates were not only given free college education, they were even given a month allowance of few hundred dollars each. While I had to work part time to support my education in NUS, and I still remain in debt to my student loan. (BITTER LAUGH!!!!).

I spent 2.5 years of my precious youth serving the SAF, during which I lost my first girlfriend during training. These foreigners were given PRs and citizenship in less than 2.5 years and they don’t even need to serve.

If war breaks out, I have to protect 1/3 of the population filled with these people?? (Assuming they dun run away at the 1st sign of trouble??!!) SAF even sent me a letter threatening to fine me for going overseas without telling them…to attend a funeral of my uncle…(BITTER LAUGH!!!!).

Hey, here’s an idea, why don’t I migrate to another country before migrating back. That will save me more time!

I am working in odds jobs now 7 days a week. I am now almost 30 already. Inflation exceed my savings rate, and I find a home, marriage, kids and happy future beyond me. A simple illness or a year of unemployment could wipe me out. Yet the government is wondering why there are less marriages and births….(BITTER LAUGH!!!!)

I bear no love to my country now. My country does not need to be attacked, it has already be invaded and taken over.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

NSP National Day Message 2009 English, Chinese & Malay

NSP National Day Message 2009

As Singapore continues moulding its nationhood, it must evolve into a unique entity worthy of recognition at the world stage. However, after 44 years of endeavour, there is little culture of significance that we can truely claim our own. Although we do possess notable physical and materialistic achievements, the essential social glue that binds and bonds our still fragile, multi-racial society together, has been considerably diluted in recent years.

The overblown hype on the alleged cohesiveness and perseverance of the nation is only a half-truth at best. One only has to sit in any heartland coffee shop to listen to the Peoples' general frustration with life. There appears to be little passion for patriotism, because the People seem to be saddled with fear, insecurity and confusion. There is apparently little precious love for this little red dot of an island.

The Authorities have continued to confuse the People with its antics. As if to preserve the existence of an underclass, the Authorities are seen to promote price increases indirectly amidst falling wages, and also to welcome foreign workers amidst growing unemployment. Coupled with a host of other faults inherent of a non-homogeneous society, the mounting stress pushes one to question the actual value of citizenship.

Housing and healthcare costs have been inflated substantially over the decades, thereby reducing CPF savings. This has resulted in serious deficiency of funds for retirement financing which is supposed to be CPF’s primary function. On the other hand, insufficient attention was allocated to job preservation which is a constant worry for the young and middle-aged. The anxiety is further enhanced with the flood of foreigners invited in as cheap labour substitutes, coupled by the lack of a comprehensive social welfare for the unemployed. These have caused considerable distress. In the earlier years, there were hardly any citizens living off the streets without a roof over their heads. But nowadays, it has become quite common.

Consequently, more and more citizens have migrated to less stressful pastures abroad with each passing year. And in a simplistic attempt to make up for the lost numbers, more foreigners are invited in to this already crowded country. How does one march into the future, full of fear and insecurity? Especially when the Authorities themselves appear to be hapless in the face of the current economic downturn, despite their self-anointment of being the best. Apart from breaching the social contract by delaying CPF withdrawals, the Authorities can only promise “more hard years” instead, as they do not have adequate provisions for the Peoples’ welfare.

After 50 years under a solo, authoritarian leadership, Singapore can only project a somewhat vague national identity. There is hardly any local song, language, food, fashion or cultural trait with which Singaporeans can truly identify with its nationality. The failure to develop a strong and proper sense of belonging amongst the People can be traced to a number of official policy lapses.

A new British survey recently placed Singapore at 49th position in its Happy Planet Index. 14 Asian countries including 6 ASEAN ones were ahead of Singapore despite its having “achieved” a First World ranking years ago. This high level of unhappiness amongst the People is very tangible. It is therefore imperative for the Authorities to attend to and address it on a national level, instead of subverting it with some pompous and costly celebrations.

The Americans elected their 44th President, based on the philosophy of change. Likewise, Singaporeans should welcome their 44th National Day with a strong aspiration for change in our local political structure. Singapore must have genuine policies to serve its national interests, and not vested ones. Let this National Day remind all Singaporeans of their duties to protect and preserve the nation of their birth. Majulah Singapura!

Ken Sun

Secretary General














Ketika Singapura terus dipupuk untuk menjadi sebuah bangsa majmuk, ia harus merencanakan agar menjadi sebuah entiti unik yang patut diiktirafkan di persada pentas dunia. Selepas 44 tahun mencapai kemerdekaan, Singapura berkembang dan bilangan asset kita bertambah sehingga apa yang kita perolehi membolehkan kita berasa bangga atas pencapaian selama ini. Namun begitu, pencapaian kita belum pasti menjadi kenyataan selagi ikatan akrab antara berbagai bangsa masih belum sempurna dan ianya seringkali dibelengu berbagai masalah kebelakangan ini.

Berat mata memandang, berat lagi bahu yang dipikul. Jikalau kita dapat bersembang dan mendengar rintihan masyarakat di kedai –kedai kopi, kita akan sedar bahawa terdapat perasaan kurang yakin pada setiap anak watan Singapura. Jiwa mereka bergelodak dan penuh tanda tanya mengenai kurangnya sikap keperihatinan terhadap negara, masyarakat dan jiran tetangga. Air yang tenang jangan sangka tiada buaya; begitulah perasaan gementar, kurang senang dan kurangnya kepercayaan terhadap bangsa majoriti di Singapura.

Apa yang diperjelaskan oleh pemerintah mengenai keaadaan ekonomi Singapura sekarang hanya mengelirukan masyarakat. Runtuhnya ekonomi sejagat bukan dek perbuatan pekerja, tetapi ekonomi yang diperkotak-katikkan oleh kuasa kuasa sejagat. Kenaikan harga barangan disebalik potongan kadar gaji hanya akan menjejas masyarakat kita. Tambahan lagi, dengan kehadiran pekerja pekerja asing, ianya hanya memburukkan lagi keupayaan masyarakat untuk mendapatkan pekerjaan. Sudahkah tibanya masa untuk pekerja pekerja asing membanjiri Singapura dan dimana letaknya hak kita sebagai warga negara Singapura?

Kos-kos bagi perumahan dan kesihatan telah menghadapi kadar inflasi yang tinggi semenjak beberapa tahun kebelakangan ini. Ia telah menyebabkan kadar simpanan CPF berkurangan. Ia juga telah menyebabkan kekurangan dana yang serius untuk membiayai masa persaraan yang sepatutnya menjadi tumpuan utama CPF.

Pada masa yang sama, tidak cukup perhatian yang diperuntukkan bagi mengekalkan pekerjaan yang menjadi kebimbangan tetap golongan muda dan juga pertengahan usia. Kebimbangan ini bertambah terutama sekali pabila ramai pekerja asing telah diundang untuk menjadi pekerja murahan. Kurangnya perhatian kepada kebajikan sosial bagi mereka yang mengganggur telah menyebabkan kesengsaraan yang berlebihan. Dalam masa 20 tahun pertama pembangunan negara, kita tidak pernah sesekalipun mendengar mengenai rakyat Singapura yang terpaksa hidup merempat, tetapi ia telah menjadi masalah yang biasa pada hari ini.

Selama empat dekad ini, kita telah menyaksikan kenaikan perangkaan anak Singapura berhijrah ke negara asing, mencari kehidupan yang penuh bermakna, samaada mencari pekerjaan mahupun keinginan untuk mencapai kehidupan yang lebih berkualiti dengan kadar perbelanjaan yang minimal. Namun begitu, pemerintah asyik mengalu-alukan kehadiran rakyat asing untuk mengisi kerakyatan Singapura, walaupun menyedari masalah keakraban masyarakat yang wujud di negara ini.

Bagaimanakah kita hendak maju sedangkan kita sering dibelengu perasaan ketidak-pastian dan kurang keyakinan. Langkah langkah yang diambil pemerintah belum pasti dapat mengeluarkan kita daripada krisis ekonomi sekarang ini, sedangkan kita sering berbangga yang Singapura sering menduduki tangga pertama dan terunggul di berbagai bidang. Setelah 50 tahun berada di bawah pemerintahan kuku besi, Singapura hanya setakat mampu untuk mempersembahkan identiti nasional yang samar-samar sahaja. Sebenarnya kita tidak boleh megakui bahawa kita mempunyai lagu, bahasa, makanan, fesyen mahupun budaya yang boleh dikait rapat dengan negara kita.

Satu kajian terbaru pihak British telah meletakkan Singapura ditangga yang ke 49 di dalam indeks Happy Planetnya. 14 negara ASIA, termasuk 6 daripada rantau ASEAN berada di hadapan Singapura, walaupun kita telah mencapai kedudukan negara dunia pertama beberapa tahun yang lalu. Kadar yang tinggi ketidak-bahagiaan di kalangan masyarakat dapat dirasai. Jadi, sudah perlu bagi pihak berkuasa untuk melakar dan menghuraikan isu ini di peringkat nasional, daripada mengelakkannya dengan mengadakan sambutan-sambutan yang membazir dan tidak berfaedah.

Rakyat Amerika telah memilih Presiden yang ke 44 mereka dengan dasar falsafah bersifat PERUBAHAN. Seperti mereka juga, masyarakat Singapura harus menyambut Hari Kebangsaan yang ke 44 ini dengan aspirasi dan azam yang kuat untuk melakukan perubahan ke atas struktur politik kita. Singapura harus mempunyai polisi-polisi yang tulen untuk berkhidmat atas kepentingan nasionalnya, dan bukan sekadar tanggung jawab yang diadakan secara mutlak (vested ones).

Marilah kita sama-sama mengambil kesempatan di Hari Kebangsaan ini untuk mengingatkan masyarakat akan kewajipan kita untuk mempertahankan dan melindungi tanah air kelahiran kita ini.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Great Eastern Life is maganimous - Tan Kin Lian

Great Eastern Life is maganimous

When Great Eastern Life sold the Great Link Choice, the product was explained quite transparently. I recalled reading some description of the product in the newspapers. It was clear that on reaching a certain number of credit events, the value of the investment would drop sharply and after passing a threshold, it would be worthless.

The mistake was in allowing this type of "gambling" product to be sold to the general public. There is no way that any investor will be able to assess the risk of losing all their money. They had to rely on the advise of the financial adviser (i.e. insurance agent) and the credit rating agency. The Monetary Authority of Singapore should not have allowed the general public to gamble away all of their money for a small increase in interest rate.
Great Eastern Life made the mistake of selling this product, but several other insurance companies also sold similar products. NTUC Income, which was managed by me during this period, avoided this type of product, resulting in a decline in our market share.
Most policyholders who bought the product were probably told that there is a risk, but were probably assured (wrongly) that the risk is very small. It would be fair for the policyholders to take partial responsibility and bear a portion of the loss. Some policyholders might not have been told of the risk, or might have been misrepresented about the risk, but this is a separate matter.
It is magnanimous (highly generous) of Great Eastern Life to offer a full buyback of this investment product. I congratulate them for this goodwill gesture, which is costly to their shareholders. I hope that all policyholders who got back their money understand that they have been generously treated.
Great Eastern Life has to write off a loss of $250 million. It could be more, if the credit market continue to deteriorate. It could be less, if the credit market improves in the future. No one knows what the future will hold.
I like to wish all the best to Great Eastern Life and hope that they will be rewarded for their generosity, through an improvement in the credit market. In the best possible case, they may fully recover the $250 million that was set aside. At that time, I hope that the policyholders will not ask for the interest to be paid to them (as it would be an unfair expectation).
Whatever the outcome, Great Eastern Life would probably be rewarded by the goodwill gained from the compensated policyholders, their families and friends and the general public in Singapore.
I call on the other insurance companies who have sold similar products to offer a buyback arrangement. It does not have to be as generous as Great Eastern Life, but it should share the loss (or gain) equally between the policyholders and the insurance companies. This would be a fair settlement.
Tan Kin Lian