Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mah Bow Tan "Caught off guard"?

I am again bemused and frustrated at the same time when I read the article on Today newspaper.

First of all, how do we end up with the most highly paid minister/politician in the world that could not anticipate problems at all? Mah Bow Tan says he was "Caught off guard" but the government has all the data of increases in PR numbers and such!!! Besides, granting PRs is under the prerogative of the government and there is absolutely no reasons for them to claim "I don't know"!

PAP has made many Singaporeans to believe that they are the brightest and the best, elites of the elites, cream of the crops, but now, he is saying that he couldn't possible to know the sudden surge in demand that cause the spike in HDB prices? It begs the question that if he is not so extraordinary and no different from others, why the hell are we asked to pay millions for his annual salary?

Secondly, the crux of the matter is not about being caught off guard by the sudden surge in demand. The surge is not sudden anyway because for the last two three years, we have been opening up our flood gates for PRs and FTs! Even so, the problem lies in the pricing mechanism. Even if he knew that there is going to be a surge in the resale market prices, what could he possibly do with the present pricing mechanism set up by him?

Last but not least, the worse thing for him to say is that Singaporeans could only have two options, one is the present one while the other is have a fixed price for new HDB flats while citizens have to return the flats to HDB instead of selling in resale market! Why? Why can't HDB sell new flats at fixed price to citizens while allowing citizens to keep whatever profits they earn from resale market? HDB flats are built on land that mostly acquired from citizens at CHEAP dirt prices.

It is a social contract between the citizens and the government that such land acquisitions are made possible for the government to redistribute the land to many other citizens for the common good like housing. If citizens wanted to profit from such sale of their HDB flats, so be it! It is after all the sacrifices made by other citizens whose land are being acquired at cheap dirt price by the government that makes such profits by other citizens possible. Why would HDB be the beneficiary of such sacrifices?

Moreover, this will add value to our citizenship. It is a privilege of being the citizens of this nation that we enjoy the fruits and profits of the influx of PRs!

Even at this moment, HDB does require sellers of HDB flats to pay a portion of their "profits" to HDB if they are to buy their second flat. So, does this sound as if we are just renting the flats from HDB as well?

It seems that such complacency of the highest paid politicians in the world is totally unacceptable. The Minister in charge of water works could well give excuses for the flooding in Bukit Timah as "one freak event in 50 years" but ironically, there are still many floods in the past as well as recently!

No apology but just plenty of excuses from Mah Bow Tan!

This is a problem when Singaporeans agree "grudgingly" to give PAP the monopoly of power as well as the highest pay in the world. There are no incentive for them to "work hard" and "strive harder" anymore. Just like Mr. Lee Kuan Yew says, "spurs are not on their hides" because there is no competition, no extraction of accountability but the only difference is that it has become our problems instead of the ministers!

As MM Lee believes, human beings are just like animals, we just need to discipline them. Should we, as citizens, "discipline" our ministers now? To stick spurs under their hides so that they could work harder for their top pay?

We should prove MM Lee wrong that Singaporeans are not just "Champion grumblers". We should prove to him that we are people who could really put the spurs into the hides of the ministers and PAP's rule if they under perform, less hardworking, less driving, less striving... whatever...


Vote Mah Bow Tan out!

Goh Meng Seng



From Today newspaper.


Asset that keeps growing
by Esther Ng
05:55 AM Dec 30, 2009
SINGAPORE - For those would-be flat buyers who hope property prices do not rise, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan paints an alternative scenario.

Would they prefer a fixed-price system, whereby home-owners, when they want to sell their Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, must return it to the authorities for the price they paid for it?

In this scenario, no one is allowed to profit from the sale of the flat. As a result, prices are kept low.

"It's almost like renting the flat to somebody," Mr Mah said as he spoke to MediaCorp about housing issues in a year when even he was "caught off guard" by how the HDB resale market trended north in a recession year.

"Nobody, no matter how prescient, no matter how clever, would have been able to predict that this was what was going to happen," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr Mah believes the current system is far superior to one that keeps housing cheap through a non-market-based system.

"Because it gives greater benefits to the home-owner. It gives them a stake in Singapore ... it also allows them to profit from the growth that Singapore enjoys because as we grow, the flat value goes up," he said.

"Once they own the flat, it's an asset. And this asset can be cashed out in old age, be used to finance their retirement. It's a store of value for them."

Mr Mah sees no conflict in the twin objectives of providing affordable housing and creating assets for Singaporeans that will grow over time.

"We have to do both for the simple reason that a flat buyer today will be a flat owner tomorrow ... For that to happen, we must make sure that flats are affordable," he said.

"Otherwise, how can the flat buyer be an owner?"

Prices are still affordable, said Mr Mah, as evidenced by how 80 per cent of Singaporeans who buy new flats can pay for their mortgages using only 21 per cent or less of their income - in other words, using only their CPF contributions.

'At least one BTO launch a month'

Looking to next year, Mr Mah said the opening of the two integrated resorts will lead to higher demand for housing. "But we'll increase the supply as
well.

"We hope demand will go up because that means the two IRs are successful, and if the two IRs are successful, tourism numbers will go up and employment will go up and the economy will benefit."

Pundits are predicting that property prices, public housing included, will continue to increase next year.

The beneficiaries of this, and of any property upturn in general, will be those who own more than one property, according to Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak, as they can "keep one for themselves, sell one off or rent the other one out".

For flat buyers waiting for prices to dip first, Mr Mak added: "No one knows when the next cycle will take place, or where the bottom is, so they have to get on the bandwagon."

According to Mr Mah, people who bought homes because they were "afraid prices are going to go up even further" contributed to rising prices this year, with pent-up demand and the "usual demand" from first-time buyers and permanent residents being the other factors.

Flat buyers, he said, can look forward to at least one Build-To-Order launch a month next year, which translates to some 12,000 new flats on offer.

"They will be in good locations, not necessarily in mature estates, but in newer towns near MRT stations, facilities in exciting neighbourhoods, so don't rush," said Mr Mah.

31 comments:

cy said...

the use of CPF to buy hdb flats has a problem of "money illusion".

Since ppl thought that they aren't able to withdraw most of their CPF when they reach retirement age due to minimum sum (with the latest CPF life,that will be harder), they will instead prefer to use it for property, as that is something they can "see", thus driving up demand.

With supply being controlled by HDB, prices will be driven up. unless, hdb start to build more flats, even a recession can't stop price trend as most still have a job,thus income to support mortage.

CPF-HDB symbiotic relationship need to be relooked.

anoni said...

Caught off guard? At the rate of $2-3million you tell your paymasters you were caught off guard? Like the rest of your gang you are NOT ALLOWED to be caught off guard. Mere mortals who are paid like mortals may use that excuse but not immortals like you.

I notice that you're getting shorter as the days go by. The $millions getting too heavy for you?

Anonymous said...

You are very negative. I should say you are very critical. You should learn to give and take. No one is perfect, there is no point picking issues and grilling others when we know for a fact that humans are not going to be perfect. Whther you pay them $1 or $1 million is another matter.

You should do some soul searching and open your mind more, be more compassionate and open your eyes to see what things they have done right too, instead of just concentrating and picking on the wrongs. At the end of the day, if you are negative about things, it just going to shut you off from the reality.

The reality is that everything in politics have a certain agenda. It is not just only about citizen citizen, me me me me me. You got to make economical sense as well at times.

Regarding their million dollar paycheck. LKY has already explained, if yu pay them lousy, their wives would be rich. I think you are smart enough to understand that point. There are many cases in other countries that prove it will almost go down that route. Just cross the causeway if you dn want to look far.

You are not enlightened i am sorry. You live in yur own world.

awakenedfromthematrix said...

Anonymous 7:49am

I'm sorry. You are the one that is not enlightened.

Even with the millions now, their wives are also rich. I think you are smart enough to understand this point. Open your eyes and go check it out yourself. You don't even have to cross the causeway if you dont want to look far.

You are the one living in your own world and just blindly taking in all that your "god" LKY is feeding you. You should do some brain-cleaning and open your mind more.

Anonymous said...

again please ... how rich is Mrs Obama ?

Anonymous said...

When the saying " their wives are rich". It doesn't literally mean that my friend. It mean the money that is suppose to build your MRT and road goes to their wife.

Instead of putting your energies into negative thoughts, feelings, and visualizations, open your eyes and you see around you.

contrarian said...

1. In a typical recession, the population decreases because of the outflow of foreigners who don't have work. It is natural to expect a fall in housing demand, especially when this recession is caused by credit lines tightening. Are you saying that at end 2008, you were predicting housing prices to go up in 2009?

2. HDB flats WERE, in the past, built on land that acquired from citizens mostly at cheap prices. That was in the early resettlement years and by the late 1990s, the housing programme for resettlement has been completed. Check the LAA today and see what SLA has to pay for land acquisitions.

Yes, the PAP needs the spurs stuck in their hides or hinds. But you would be better served by using your bemusement and frustration in better ways than this article, which ranks poorly compared to many others you have written.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi contrarian,

The land acquisition act is found below.

http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_version/cgi-bin/cgi_retrieve.pl?actno=REVED-152&doctitle=LAND%20ACQUISITION%20ACT%0A&date=latest&method=part

HDB flats ARE STILL built on land that was acquired long time ago! For example, Pungol, Seng Kang etc.

Although according to the LAA, the government needs to specify what the land is acquired for, but there is no law or rule that says that they must utilize the land immediately. In fact, SLA has a accumulated a substantial land bank from the past.

Demand and supply does not depend on merely economic situation. It depends on population growth, resident population growth. If you take a good look at the growth of PRs from 2001 onwards, you will know what I mean.

Economic recession also means lower interest rates. Credit crunch mostly happens to businesses. For housing finance which uses the property as collateral, it is normally not so badly hit.

It also shows something, in spite of so call financial crisis, Singapore continues to have growth in PR. Now, who awards the PRs?

Goh Meng Seng

Fievel said...

Mah could not foresee the housing price spike because he does not personally care too much for the problem. He lives outside of the reality faced by the people he rules over.

Anonymous said...

You can't predict everything accurately. If they can, I am damn sure they won't be earning 3 million a year.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you give me your prediction for this year Goh Meng Seng?

After the event, everyone is an expert. No point arguing or talking about things on hindsight now.

You give us your prediction for this year and tell us what you would do if you are heading the government. Let me come back to it by the end of the year and see how well you fare.

Criticise is easy. To hamtum people also easy. To justify the hamtuming LAGI EASY. What is not easy is to stop compraining and rectify whatever situation/problems/issues using your ability - raise profile of your party and gain votes, after that do a good job in attracting supporters.

I don't see you doing that? Hide behind a computer and use keyboard, everyone also know.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Why should I? ;)

We have the most expensive forecaster in Singapore, costing taxpayers almost $4million per year and you actually want me to do his job? Come on!

Well, I would be interested to study the possibilities if and only if ALL data available in Singapore's government database is made available. Put it this way, PAP government has been toying around with the statistics and data made available to Singaporeans without any inch of transparency. Certain data could be released in the past but could well disappear in future.

It is totally unfair to challenge us to make forecast and predictions. I am no soothsayer by the way. The point has been made, with all the data made available to the government, they could well miss many key forecast in the past. Such "track records" is pretty glaring for a world most highly paid government.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

My goh, I am keen to hear what you can foresee this year.

Anonymous said...

Why should you? Coz you are a politician. You have Singapore at heart. You want to make this place better right? You are the real deal right? I believe so...

Or you scared kanna hamtum...LOL

Anonymous said...

If you do well...then maybe more people vote for you ma...

Anonymous said...

Talk cock lumber 1.

You talk very kiang.

When time for you to prove your worth. You dig all excuse out. Just do it lah. Just live with whatever condition that you have. You want things put nicely on a plate serve to you? LKY didn't have it that way wor.....

I doubt any politician should demand information or anything to feed to them before they can get down to work...you gotta EARN THE RIGHTS to it one wor...

If not any tom dick and harry also can how...things don happen this way i am afraid to say.

You fight for your survival. It is only a matter of you survive or you get killed.

I don't see you fighting......talking yes....fighting....no see you one....LOL

Anonymous said...

You said
"available to Singaporeans without any inch of transparency"

You earn your rights to it if you want to use the data. It's not for you to ask.

Also there are such thing called 100% transparent. Anywhere in the world. Another of your lousy attempt to accuse the gahment. haix. You getting from bad to worse. You quit politics better lah.

Anonymous said...

You are no soothsayer when comes for you to work, but when comes for you to criticise you lumber 1.

That is the very reason why our opposition got no standard and cannot be trusted.

How to trust someone who only know how to talk? Who are keen to talk and do nothing? When ask them do a bit, they complain this complain that, use the wrld class excuse to justify not doing anything?

Nah..i will vote PAP :)

Goh Meng Seng said...

I think you have a big problem of understanding here. It is the job of ministers to make decisions based on analysis that are derived from available data. For opposition members, in Singapore's context whereby statistics and data are being concealed or classified as "secret", just like the building cost and land cost of HDB flats, how could we possibly do "forecast" of any sorts?

I guess that is totally irrelevant requests. You empower PAP as the government which has the power, resources and rights to do all the necessary things. Thus, it is their responsibility to do good out of such empowerment.

Singapore opposition's role is to extract accountability from the ruling party and keeping them on their toes.

If you really want me to forecast about HDB demands, then you got to ask HDB and immigration department to release some critical data. How many PRs have been given, will be given and how many PRs have bought their flats....etc.

This is supposedly to be done by HDB or the Ministry of National Development itself and rightfully, they have the right to such data to plan for our development.

Apparently, you have barked up the wrong tree here. As the Minister Mah BT whether his ministry has done such diligence in forecasting or not. He is after all, the one paid to his job. ;)

Goh Meng Seng

Goh Meng Seng said...

Well I guess it is apparent to people here that this article must have hurt so much, so much so that such irrelevant responses are being made here.

Yes, it is quite an improvement from the past, to cover your track with some irrelevant challenge but you have just given yourselves away. ;)

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

No. It is not that.

If you have not realised, you like to judge people. But yet you are scared when ask to be judged.

You are not a serious politician. That is for sure.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you get yourself into gahment and see how well you can do with all the 'DATA'?

Talk easy...but can you make a difference...but not just talking but doing and changing the situation...? That is what you would be respected for...not talking.

Talking who dunno.

Anonymous said...

You already said it is forecast.

I suggest you read up the definition of the word "forecast" in the dictionary.

Damn even if you train hard and be well prepared, you can't win a gold medal for sure at the olympic. As prepared as yo ucan be, you can't win everything in life.

Where is your compassion? Just know how to hamtum people and hurt poeple by picking their flaws. Are you flawless?

The reason why you can pick their flaws is because you are not in the limelight. You make yourself in the limelight and see how much better you can do than them. Let us judge you. Do you dare? Or you still prefer to fight using a keyboard :O

Anonymous said...

It is not only the job of the ministers. It is as much the job of every Singaporean to make sure this place can have good living condition.

If only you spend more time on the "real stuff". Criticising silly stuffs is easy, perhaps too easy for your kind of ability :P

Anonymous said...

You know why most people would not vote for the opposition?

Because they are not serious. They are troublemakers, stir the shit and then run away.

Who clears the shit? Not the oppositio nfor sure. All they know is fight for their own agenda.

If they are care, it should not matter which party they join. They should know that it's their heart and brain that matters.

But most of you have the mentality " If you are with PAP, you are a target..."...it very much a self defeating or destruction thing.

If you value about making something good for the country, you wouldnt "micro argue". What you are make of doesn't arise from your ability to hamtum the PAP but your ability to do something good for Singapore faithfully.

You probablhy doesn't know what a good politician is. LKY is what peple respect because he is the survival of the fittest.

contrarian said...

"Singapore opposition's role is to extract accountability from the ruling party and keeping them on their toes."

That is misguided. The opposition's main role is to form the alternative government if the government falls. That is the only control that it has on the government in a unicameral parliamentary system with one level of government. This system is made to function on a simple majority without compensating controls such as an upper house. The government can pass almost any legislation it wants with a majority vote of 1 (except for a few items specified in the constitution).

Any MP can ask the government whatever it wants, but there is nothing that an opposition can do to hold a government accountable if the government chooses not to respond - e.g. government's response to why Chip Goodyear quit, government's response to cost of building HDB flats, government's response to the quantum of the reserves...

When it can form an alternative government, then it can keep the government in check by threatening to unseat them. Case in point: Malaysia after the most recent GE, compared to before that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with contrarian. Look at the big picture. Instead of trying to pick on PAP only.

The big picture is to create an alternative government. And GMS seems to be just focusing on the PAP. His objective seem to target PAP only but not really producing something worthy of toppling them.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi Contrarian,

Some how I feel that your comments are filled with overly optimism as well as pessimism.

Democratic development evolves over time and I view our contemporary involvement as merely a small part in the overall development path.

To say that opposition parties of this generation are to prepare to become the alternative government is far too optimistic and advanced of time. Even if PAP is to lose more seats in the next elections and subsequently deprived of more than 50% of the seats, it will most probably be major part of the ruling coalition government to be formed.

I do not see an alternative government in sight for the next 15 or 20 years; a coalition government perhaps but not a totally different ruling party.

As at this stage, we have merely 2 seats in parliament along with 1 NCMP seats. Even if we managed to win 15 seats in the next GE, which is a pretty optimistic view, we will not be able to form the next government any time sooner.

However, it doesn't mean that we should be all too pessimistic about the ability of opposition MPs in parliament. The present perception of dismay performance of opposition MPs in parliament may well be changed when more opposition MPs are in parliament.

Extraction of accountability is real. If there are more opposition MPs thumbing on under performing ministers continuously, the pressure mounted on the ruling party will become real.

Of course, inevitably, the ground rules will have to be changed. The forth state of power will lies very much on the new media while the main stream media (MSM) will have to evolve if it wants to maintain whatever little credibility it has left.

The Post-LKY era will be a very exciting period for Singapore's political development and hopefully opposition could continue to grow with public political consciousness enhanced with better political educational processes.

When I was studying Philosophy in NUS, I have written an article on Democracy. There could not be TOTAL dictatorship or authoritarian rule, neither could there be Total Freedom in essence. Basically because we are only human.

So put our perspective right for our era, in preparation for the next era--- Post-LKY era. We should not lose sight of our fundamental role now while we have our grand vision of becoming "alternative party". The path of democracy development has to be taken steps by steps. There is no short cut or flying planes we could ride on.

Goh Meng Seng

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi Contrarian,

Some how I feel that your comments are filled with overly optimism as well as pessimism.

Democratic development evolves over time and I view our contemporary involvement as merely a small part in the overall development path.

To say that opposition parties of this generation are to prepare to become the alternative government is far too optimistic and advanced of time. Even if PAP is to lose more seats in the next elections and subsequently deprived of more than 50% of the seats, it will most probably be major part of the ruling coalition government to be formed.

I do not see an alternative government in sight for the next 15 or 20 years; a coalition government perhaps but not a totally different ruling party.

As at this stage, we have merely 2 seats in parliament along with 1 NCMP seats. Even if we managed to win 15 seats in the next GE, which is a pretty optimistic view, we will not be able to form the next government any time sooner.

However, it doesn't mean that we should be all too pessimistic about the ability of opposition MPs in parliament. The present perception of dismay performance of opposition MPs in parliament may well be changed when more opposition MPs are in parliament.

Extraction of accountability is real. If there are more opposition MPs thumbing on under performing ministers continuously, the pressure mounted on the ruling party will become real.

Of course, inevitably, the ground rules will have to be changed. The forth state of power will lies very much on the new media while the main stream media (MSM) will have to evolve if it wants to maintain whatever little credibility it has left.

The Post-LKY era will be a very exciting period for Singapore's political development and hopefully opposition could continue to grow with public political consciousness enhanced with better political educational processes.

When I was studying Philosophy in NUS, I have written an article on Democracy. There could not be TOTAL dictatorship or authoritarian rule, neither could there be Total Freedom in essence. Basically because we are only human.

So put our perspective right for our era, in preparation for the next era--- Post-LKY era. We should not lose sight of our fundamental role now while we have our grand vision of becoming "alternative party". The path of democracy development has to be taken steps by steps. There is no short cut or flying planes we could ride on.

Goh Meng Seng

gan said...

Hi Mr. Goh,

I do agree with you that the possibility of an alternative government within the next 15 years is far too optimistic. But that does not mean we should not work towards that starting from NOW.

I was contemplating migrating 5 years ago but decided to stay on eventually. Afterall, this is my country. It is my hope to see the downfall of the ruling party one day.

There are many people out there who appreciate your work and effort. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Who ideas is it to import such large number of immigration ? It is PM Lee. Doesn't him, as the PM and the one who start this aggressive immigration policy, hold the most responsibility instead of Mah Bow Tan ?