Saturday, December 18, 2010

Elaboration on answers to Housing Issues @ TOC Forum

I was invited to be one of the panelists at TOC end of year event, Face-to-Face Forum on 16 Dec 2010. Housing issues became one of the hottest again.

Due to time constrains, I have given key points and short answers to the questions asked. I would like to elaborate further here on what I have said during the forum.

The first question asked was whether HDB should be privatized. My first response is that it should not. HDB is part of a socialist Land Reform program. Due to scarcity of land in Singapore, it is important for us to avoid land hogging by a small group of landlords while the masses and future generations suffer. The fall of the ancient feudal systems was basically due to the income and wealth inequality partly exaggerated by the unequal distribution of land.

Thus it is important for the government to act as an arbitrator in making sure that land can be recycled over generations for public usage like housing. The 99-year leasehold HDB flats are part of this scheme to maintain sustainability of land usage across generations. Privatizing HDB will not do us good. It will most probably result in higher prices for HDB flats due to the profit maximizing nature of a private entity.

The second question about HDB is on what will happen to those who have paid hefty prices for their HDB flats but now I am advocating lower HDB prices. I explained that the HDB has two market segments. First, we have the NEW HDB flat market and second, the resale market. The government, via HDB, is the sole monopoly of supply in the NEW HDB flat market. The demand comes from citizens only. The resale market is basically a free market where sellers are those who own HDB flats (both PRs and Citizens) and buyers from both PRs and citizens as well.

The government has FULL CONTROL over the New Flat market as the monopoly. It should sell these flats at cost to Singaporeans as I have explained earlier that our forefathers have sacrificed their land for the development of this Nation. It is the unwritten social contract that the government in return should take care of Singaporeans' basic public housing needs.

On the other hand, the government should not meddle or distort the resale market, which is a free market by giving grants to first timers. This is a bit "counter-intuitive" which results in people calling it a "radical view" but it is not!

The rational is very simple. Just taking an analogy of a fireman trying to put out a fire. Will he add oil to the fire? Obviously not. If there is a pipe leaking oil to the fire, what will he do? Obviously, it is to stop the leakage.

Money and easy credit are just like fuel to the fire of high prices. Giving grants to first timers to buy resale flat is an act of market distortion to increase the demand of resale market. There are a few implications:

1) The present system is such that the NEW HDB flats prices are pegged at the resale market prices. It is naturally for the government to want to maintain a high Resale prices.

2) The grants given to first timers have to come from somewhere. i.e. from the higher prices of New HDB flats. At the same time, resale levy is charged on those who sold their flats and apply for new flats.

3) It is basically a scheme that goes round about, self-feeding itself to maintain or push up the prices of HDB flats, both resale and new HDB flats.

4) Such grants coupled with easy credit and low interest rates will encourage more young couples to OVER COMMIT themselves. If these young couples, in spite of low interest rate of 1.5% or less from private banks need to commit 30 years loans to buy their resale flats, they will be in trouble if interest rates rise in future! That will become Singapore's Subprime!

My proposal of a new system is:

1) Sell NEW HDB flats at cost.
2) Don't meddle in the free resale market by removing the grants.

Many youngsters may scream at the second point. I would advise them to take a step back and ponder. The proposal is a package. New young couples will have a far CHEAPER OPTION of having their first new HDB flat when it is sold at cost.

After you get your first HDB flat at CHEAP price, it will provide you a good financial position to get your resale HDB flat later on. My concern now is that too many young couples are over committing themselves by going for resale HDB flats. This will add financial burden to the new families and in the end, you may not have enough finances to have babies.

It is also an important thing to show to young couples that it is more worthwhile to buy NEW HDB flats with a big difference in the prices. If young couples are to be lured into resale HDB flats with the HDB grant and resulting in over committing themselves, a 30 years mortgage loan starting at low interest rate but going up later one, most people will be forced to sell their flats for retirement in the end!

However, I also caution that our only HDB flat is OUR HOME and SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS INVESTMENT. A HOME is not something you can sell off that easily. Each and every corners of your HOME are embedded with the collective memories of your family members.

I am asked about how I am going to make such "unpopular" idea to Singaporeans. I just replied, we just have to make it "popular". We should be careful about politicians trying to sell you GREED and be populist. My generation as well as my father's generation has been hoodwinked by PAP's sales of GREED through "ASSET ENHANCEMENT SCHEME". Who suffers in the end? My generation, the younger generation as well as future generations.

Two years ago, nobody would have thought that the campaign on HDB issues would be fruitful. Nobody believes that I could convince so many people that the HIGH HDB PRICES IS BAD FOR THEM. Nobody sees the bad points of 30-year mortgage for HDB flats. With the help of the online media, blogs and networking tools, we have managed to get the message viral. Many people are talking about the ills of the 30-year mortgage. I strongly believe that I can go a step further to bring forth my point about my "instinctively unfavorable" or even "politically incorrect" policy views that this is the best way for Singapore's future generations.

Of course, for those who have committed at high HDB prices, I just have to remind them that it is PAP who makes them suffer with such bad policy. Look on the bright side. Just like many people of my generations who were caught in the late 1990s property boom and subsequent bust, as long as we treat our flat as our HOME, whether the price went up or down, it didn't affect us, even when we became negative asset holders. On top of that, in my proposal, the resale market will be allowed to grow on its own. In the long run, the HDB resale prices will still grow although in a relatively slower pace.

One sensitive HDB issue was raised by M Ravi on the ethnic quota. It is a well-known fact that ethnic quota restrictions affect the minority races adversely.

I went a bit further to say that the present restriction may have impact on ethnic economy. Look at Tampines. It has a bigger proportion of Malay community of 24%. Tampines has the most number of Muslim coffeeshops as compared to other places. There are even shops selling Malay traditional clothing. A critical mass congregation of the minority ethnic group will provide more opportunities for their ethnic entrepreneurs to strive.

Thus in my view, I have no problem with any precincts or groupings with less than 50% composition of the minority races. Why not more than 50%? If the minority race becomes the majority composition of a precinct, that would mean statistically, it has become a big outlier!

I have not mentioned the lower band. My proposal is to have a band, instead of a tight rule of 25%. The band will range from 15% to 45%. It also means that the Chinese majority race cannot exceed 85% of the composition in any precincts.

Many people would suggest to get rid of the ethnic quota once and for all. I do not favor that but instead, take a progressive step towards that aim. I have spoken to foreign visitors from Australia, Sri Lanka and other places on Earth and they admire our racial policies in this aspect. It is something that we may have taken for granted for all this while. But a relax of such rules may foster better ties and lessen the price that any ethnic groups may suffer as the result of the ethnic quota rule.

I hope that these elaborations on my comments and responses given during the TOC Face to Face Forum will provide more insight into the policy rationale behind them.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
































最新的报告显示新加坡的房贷已经占了我们经济所有贷款的51%。这比香港的20% 还要高!如果房地产市场崩溃的话,整个金融体系将会承担超重的坏账!





Saturday, December 11, 2010

Unsustainable Policy : HDB

Minister Mah Bow Tan has continued to claim that HDB flats are "affordable" inspite of the 30 years mortgage. He has however, made a few interesting points lately.

One of the points he made has somewhat RETRACTED from his earlier position that it is alright to have high HDB prices because we could "monetize" or sell our HDB flats for retirement. He said that we may not need to sell our flats and downgrade for retirement.

I have explained why selling flat for retirement is NOT A WORKABLE and SUSTAINABLE OPTION at all.

Before I talk about why this scheme of "selling flat for retirement" is not sustainable in the long run, I would like to address the basic fundamentals of why such HIGH HDB PRICES under the guise of "asset enhancement" is the deliberate policy direction of PAP government.

High Property Prices to solve Aging Population Problems

Since early 1980s, PAP has suddenly realized that their aggressive "TWO IS ENOUGH" policy is flawed and it would create unprecedented acceleration of an aging population. By doing a demographic projection, it would mean that the CPF scheme may not be sustainable in providing adequate retirement financing for this aging population.

The burden of providing retirement financing lies on the government to give constant returns to CPF account holders. If less and less people are going to work in the work force while more and more people are going to withdraw their CPF money in future, it would create cashflow pressures on CPF. This problem will aggravate in time to come.

The brilliant idea of maintaining high HDB flat price comes about to solve a lot of these problems derived from aging population. The followings are the reasoning:

1) If Singaporeans have less savings in CPF, the government won't be burdened by interest payment to the account holders. i.e. the government will wash its hands off from retirement financing of an aging population.

2) How or who will finance the future retirees then? A 30 year mortgage plan will DEFINITELY force Singaporeans to sell their flats for retirement! This is basically because their CPF accounts will have very little amount of funds left! By allowing HDB prices to increase, these future retirees could well "withdraw" their "retirement funds" by selling off their HDB flats at high prices! This would solve their retirement financing!

Impact of HDB flat for Retirement Financing

Such simplistic thinking will have a few impacts. All of these impacts are unfavorable to Singaporeans but very favorable to the Government.

1) The Government could benefit from selling HDB flats at high prices to citizens and they no longer need to fork out money for any subsidies. All so call subsidies are basically on paper accounting, market subsidies.

2) The first adjustment is to raise land prices. HDB, on paper, is in deficits because it has to buy land from SLA (both under Ministry of Development) at market prices. Please note that SLA has become the biggest land owner in Singapore through forceful acquisition of private land with monopoly power to determine prices.

3) All proceeds from Land Sales go directly into the reserves and that is why our reserves grow at rapid rate since 1980s.

4) The government earns interests, instead of paying interests, from making loans to HDB buyers. This also means that while Singaporeans are paying higher HDB prices using almost all their CPF monies and they are also incurring mortgage interests.

5) The prices of HDB flats MUST increase substantially over time in order for this scheme to be sustainable. If not, the whole system will collapse.


What are the implications?

Apparently, the government benefited the most from such scheme. It relinquishes its responsibility of providing retirement financing for an aging population. It basically transfers this burden to the future generations in terms of HIGHER HDB PRICES. It MAKES PROFITS from these higher HDB prices which transferred into reserves which make them look good. On top of that, it makes money from interests collected from HDB buyers

What the government gains will be what the citizens will lose. HDB is the MONOPOLY of the new HDB flat market and it is also the lender who earns interests from all outstanding loans.

What the government gains will be what the citizens will lose. HDB is the MONOPOLY of the new HDB flat market and it is also the lender who earns interests from all outstanding loans.


This model is NOT sustainable in the long run. The reason is pretty clear. In order to preserve the purchasing power of the amount of money Singaporeans have put into their HDB flats, the future price of their flats has to increase tremendously to cover the interest cost as well as inflation throughout the 30 years period.

However, wages of the working class will normally grow at the rate just enough to cover inflation. That is why we are witnessing this impact of wages lagging behind HDB price growth for the past two decades. From the following graph prepared by Lucky Tan .

Wage doubled while HDB prices grow by FOUR folds during the period from 1990 to 2009. It corresponds to the increase in the mortgage payment period from 15 years to 30 years. In time to come, our future generations may have to pay for a 40years or even 50 years mortgage for just a decent HDB flat

Is this sustainable?

There are CONFLICTING policy objectives. On one hand, in order for the scheme of utilizing high HDB prices as a means for retirement financing, we need HDB prices to outstrip wage growth but in order to maintain "AFFORDABILITY" for all generations, we need to maintain the price increase according to wage growth! How could these CONFLICTING policy targets be met simultaneously?

Nobody can guarantee property prices will grow forever at such rapid rate. With an aging population, demand will be lower while supply will be increasing due to the increasing number of elders trying to sell their flats. This will have downward pressure on relative prices.

This is really an ill-thought out HDB-retirement scheme by the PAP government. This scheme benefits only the present government by alleviating its burden to provide for the retirement funding needs for the citizens while benefiting from all the higher HDB prices and interests earned from loans to HDB owners. This is in the expense of Singaporeans both present and future.

Almost all present Ministers will not be around in 30 years time to take responsibility for the effects of their policies. It is important for Singaporeans to understand the great implications of this HDB-retirement scheme upon our present generations as well as future generations.

I have come to this realization of this scheme ever since PAP started to embark the so call "Asset Enhancement Scheme" back in early 1990s. I have written a number of articles in protest of this scheme but many Singaporeans were overwhelmed by the immediate gain of paper capital gains. There were even Singaporeans trying to capitalize on the sudden increase in their flat value by upgrading or multiple upgradings. In the whole process, they committed higher and higher debts.

The latest report has indicated Singapore's housing debt has constituted more than 51% of total loans from our financial loans! This is even higher than Hong Kong's 20%! We will be doomed if there is a property crash! The whole financial system will be burden with unperforming loans!

An economy cannot invest too much of its financial resources in assets like properties which are not "productive" for the economy. If the property sector takes up too much of the financial resources of the economy, it will crowd out resources for financing investments by our local entrepreneurs. It would also mean that the financial sector would be over-exposed to a potential bubble which would wipe off our wealth when it bursts.

Experiences from Japan, Ireland and even US have shown that over-exposure of the financial sector to the bubble-prone property sector will destroy the economy. Japan has hardly recover from its collapse of economy due to property bubble since 1990s!

It is up to every Singaporeans to judge on whether what I write here make any sense. It is easy to sell greed to the masses but it will create irreversible damage to our future generations. It is not easy to convince people that high property prices are BAD for them. I have waited this long for the opportune time to explain what I have learned throughout these years. I urge every reader who agrees with my views to help me to spread this message to your friends and relatives.

This unsustainable and potentially damaging HDB-retirement scheme must be stopped and ceased else our future generations will suffer in vain for our inaction.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Battle of Tampines

Yes, I know, I am supposed to write about the unsustainable policies of PAP. But the Straits Time's constituency report on Tampines is just too interesting to be missed.

I have made a comment on The Online Citizen Facebook with regards to Minister Mah's column on TodayOnline and it is as follows:

Two years ago, before TOC went into the homeless issue and I banging on the unaffordability of HDB flats, many people think that HDB under MBT is great. When I first started the fire on HDB issue coupled with my minister-specific strategy aiming at MBT Tampines, many people say I am crazy. They reasoned that Tampines has the best flats which is appreciating, why would they want to vote for someone who tell them their flats are too high a price?

I am glad that after one and a half year of banging on housing issues with the help of New Media blogs and websites like TOC (and Temasek Review), we manage to change people's mind and get this very important point across. So much so that even hardcore PAP supporters have to admit that high HDB prices are a grave concern.

We have successfully completed half of the mission of political education, raising issue like Housing into hot topic. Now, according to ST, there are still 28 out of 30 who thinks MBT shouldn't be blamed for this HDB blunders. The other half of the mission is to convince voters that we must safeguard MERITOCRACY as our CORE VALUE by voting out those ministers who have screwed up.

I have written an article entitled "Basis of Meritocracy: Competency and Accountability" for the next issue of NSP North Star. This is to address the second part of the campaigning. I will put up this article in January 2011.

It is interesting to note from the ST report that "about half" in Tampines support PAP. To me, it actually means LESS THAN HALF supported PAP because if the figures are that great, it would have reported "MORE THAN HALF" supported PAP. This is in spite of the fact that 28 out of 30 don't "blame" Minister Mah.

It is also interesting to note the fact that the question of affordability of HDB flats is "no longer there": i.e. apparently, EVERYONE, including PAP supporters, has accepted that affordability of HDB FLATS IS AN ISSUE. This is a vast different from two years ago whereby people would pour scorn on me for raising high HDB prices as an issue.

The strange part is this: according to Mah Bow Tan's write up on Today, he is open to debate about HDB issues. I have requested a live debate with Miniister Mah but till now, no response from him just yet.

It is also interesting to note that Minister Mah has shifted his position subtly from his earlier assertion that "you could sell your flat for retirement" to "most probably you don't need to sell your flat and downgrade for retirement" because they have "savings, CPF" etc... BUT WAIT! With a 30 years mortgage payment to the max, how much money would an ordinary folk has in his CPF when he reach 60 years old? Well maybe the million dollar paid minister would have lots of other assets and savings, but for an ordinary folk, this is DEFINITELY NOT THE CASE!

The blatant truth is, with a HDB flat to be liable for a 30 years mortgage, Singaporeans would be FORCED to sell their flat and downgrade for their retirement financing!

It is quite surprising that after I have declared that Minister Mah's HDB policy is TOTALLY NOT SUSTAINABLE in the long run, he insisted that to remain "SUSTAINABLE" he needs to keep the present pricing policy! Scarcity of land is the reason he cited. But as I have mentioned before, this is NOT an issue when all LAND sold by the government comes with a 99 lease!

Minister Mah also claims that there is "hefty subsidies" for HDB flats. It is already a well known fact that HDB only gives "discounts" NOT ACTUAL SUBSIDIES to buyers. In fact, they overpriced the land which they have acquired DIRT CHEAP from Singaporeans. Then, they give discounts based on that price!

Contrary to what Minister Mah's assertion, pricing new HDB flats at COST WILL NOT COMPROMISE the BUDGET. This is basically because whatever revenue they gained via LAND SALES, go straight into the reserves, not the Budget revenue! Thus, by cutting down the price of the LAND sold to HDB will NOT compromise the BUDGET at all!

The Battle of Tampines is about the future of our children. It is also about defending our core values of Meritocracy, especially so when we are pay the HIGHEST SALARY in the world to our ministers.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

建屋局违背社会契约 祸害子孙后代

I have just written a Chinese article on the ills of HDB policy which is not sustainable. I will be reconstructing this article into English article soon as part of my promise of posting on the unsustainable policies of PAP government.

Goh Meng Seng

建屋局违背社会契约 祸害子孙后代








Source: Data compiled by Lucky Tan,




Monday, November 29, 2010

Sustainability is the KEY ISSUE

Straits Time reporter called me up today to ask me about PM Lee's speech made on PAP's congress on Sunday. My first response is that the Prime Minister is just executing what he has said in last General Eections 2006. (Watch the above video). He will always look for ways to "buy support" and this announcement of "goodies" for the Election year 2011 will definitely be viewed as "buying support".

What make it worse is that the main bulk of the increased government revenue, as hinted by PM Lee who pointed out the increase in tourists due to the casino resorts, comes from casino-related taxes. I would have to agree with Ngiam Tong Dow that the ruling party has gone "astray" and its policies lack moral bearings.

I would prefer all these collections from such "immoral source" be used to reform our Healthcare Insurance system as well as providing more subsidies to Education, especially for the vulnerable group.

I was asked on whether such goodies in the coming Budget would affect my party's (NSP) performance in the coming elections. I said whether my party win or lose, it is just a democratic process. I am more concerned about how voters make their choices. If such goodies could actually "buy them over" by the ruling party then it would be a very setback for Singapore's democratic progress. The key issue of any General Elections should not lie on how much "Red Packet" the ruling party is going to give you, not even about how much HDB upgrading is at stake.

I said categorically that A GREAT POLITICIAN SELLS HIS VISION FOR THE FUTURE, NOT PORK BARREL. Voters should look beyond immediate gains or goodies handed out and look at the policies that will affect their future and their future generations.

One example I cited for GE2006 is that PAP didn't tell voters that they were going to increase GST from 5% to 7% in spite of me asking them openly in my rally speech for them to state clearly whether they are going to increase GST from 5% to 7% and then 10%. But we know that immediately after GE2006, the Prime Minister declared that GST would be raised "to help the poor"! However so far, we have not seen any concrete programs that utilize this increased revenue to help the poor! On the contrary, we have seen the increase of Singaporeans forced to live on beaches, collecting card boards and living in poverty! (For reference, please read this link.)

The Health Minister Khaw has tried to clarify during GE2006 that the means testing for healthcare would not take place that "soon" but it just kicked in just about a year later!

I was asked about PM Lee's mention of issues for next GE, particularly immigration, housing, helping low-wage workers and a sense of disorientation among Singaporean due to rapid changes in the society. I would say that all these are just "symptoms" of the KEY PROBLEM/illness of PAP's policies. The KEY PROBLEM is SUSTAINABILITY.

From politics, immigration, minimum wage, housing, retirement financin (CPF), transport to healthcare, PAP's policies are not sustainable at all in the long run. I have touched on politics in my other postings here with regards to Post LKY era and I will not repeat.

I will break down other issues into different posts on my blog for the coming days and weeks, all talking about the sustainability of these policies.

While PAP thinks that First Class candidates means top bankers, lawyers and other elites as their core, I believe that good candidates are those who have the passion to serve, who believe that politics is all about public service and those who can deliver the voices of the people into the parliament.

I have told the reporter that NSP is not going to sell HATRED in the coming GE as it was the norm for opposition to talk bad about PAP. We are going to sell our policy views on the sustainability for our Nation and future generations.

Just watch this space.

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What does "Freak Election Results" mean?

Well, this is definitely not an alien phrase for all of us. PAP has been talking about it for donkey years and this phrase has been raised again recently.

RP SG Kenneth gave a good rebuttal on "Freak Election Results": “How could it be a freak result if it is the will of the people?”

Yes, how could PAP ever think of such term? Does it mean that the people are "freak" to vote in opposition to replace PAP? How could the will of the masses be considered as "FREAK"?

Well, some PAP supporter has put it another way, when "freak" opposition members who have character flaws are voted into parliament, then it is considered as "freak election results". Sound good right? But wait, why would the masses vote someone who are "freak" with character flaws into parliament in the first place? What would these PAP supporters call them?

In democratic countries in the world, politicians who lost their elections, will just bow out, thank his supporters and respect the will and choice of the people. No matter how seemingly "unjust" the results could be. The following is the "DEFEAT SPEECH" by the President of Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan after she lost her elections yesterday.

Opposition parties have not mentioned about "Freak Election Results" when we know there are people who vote for PAP out of fear.We can lose elections but we must not lose our character. Never blame the voters, least accusing that as "Freak Election Results" because it is a disrespectful insult to the voters. Although we might have lost an elections, but we must win back applause and respect.

I initially thought that those who proclaim "Freak Election Results" are just Sore Losers. Only Sore Losers will make hell lot of noise when they lose, just like our childhood friends who will cry father cry mother when they lost a game or two.

But on second thought, there is more to it. It may really be a "Freak Election Results" because the ruling party has become so FREAK that Singaporeans will just abandon them. Maybe this is the real reason for "Freak Election Results" to happen.

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Contest in Tampines against Mah Bow Tan and ...

The above picture shows a major event coming up in Tampines on 21 Nov 2010. Tree planting, Neighbourhood Renewal Programme and free Dinner etc. The intriguing thing about this poster is on the left bottom corner where it states Guest of Honour as Mr. Masagos, the newly promoted minister of state for Education and Home Affairs. The distinguished guests include all other MPs of Tampines except Minister Mah Bow Tan, the anchor minister of Tampines GRC.

As there is a hint here that MBT may not be standing in Tampines, I have told a ST reporter that PAP or Minister Mah should make clear whether he is still standing in Tampines or any other place else because I will follow him. PAP has claimed that they take GE as the "contest of ideas" and I would like to contest MBT's or PAP's idea of public housing as investment.

If MBT is to retire from politics, which is more probable than moving to other GRC or SMC, then such intentions should be made known so that I could contest such idea of Public Housing against future Minister of National Development.

Of course, I hope that it is just coincidental that MBT is out of town and unable to attend the above mentioned event on 21 Nov 2010.

Many people tend to think that Tampines is a "sweet ground" to contest for the next GE. However, in reality, Tampines is traditionally a "hard ground" for opposition parties. The main reason is that more than 32% of Tampines flats are 5 room flats, executive flats, condominium or landed properties. (refer to data released by Department of Statistics in 2000).

Although Mah Bow Tan is one of the rare PAP members/ministers who have lost an election before (in Potong Pasir 1984) but he is definitely not a pushover. It is precisely the fact that he has tasted bitter defeat that he is exceptional careful in cultivating his own turf in Tampines. Choosing one of the hardest ground in Singapore is one of the first step to ensure better chances of defence against challengers. A typical HDB estate would have only 9%-15% of 5 room flats/ condominium. (eg. Ang Mo Kio estate has about 9%) Tampines is one of the very few HDB estates with such high percentage of 5 room or higher flats.

Intriguingly, a couple of opposition parties begin to be interested in Tampines GRC or rather, contesting against Mah Bow Tan AFTER NSP has set the fire on the HDB issues since 2008/9. I was tasked by my party to take over the responsibility to form a team to contest in Tampines and I have formulated the Minister-specific strategy since then. Most people in opposition parties are not very keen in contesting in Tampines basically because of the higher middle-upper class mix in Tampines, which is traditionally viewed as more supportive of PAP generally. Truly so, Tampines has NEVER been a "hot spot" since its inception.

NSP has been contesting in Tampines GRC for the past elections. NSP has been contesting in Tampines GRC since its inception in 1988, except for 1997 GE whereby it was a walkover for PAP. In 2001 and 2006 GEs, NSP candidates stood in Tampines GRC under the SDA banner.

Thus, while I am not surprised at SDA declaration on Berita Harian as well as SDP's assertion of interests that they want to contest in Tampines GRC, I am sadden by the fact that they have disregarded NSP's continuous political effort in Tampines GRC for the past two decades. Especially so when NSP has successfully turned Tampines GRC from a "traditionally cold spot" into a "hot spot" via various deliberate strategic moves made in the past two years. Unfortunately the bees will definitely be attracted to the honey.

I sincerely hope that SDA and SDP should reconsider their position so to avoid multi-corner fight in Tampines GRC. I think in general, Singaporeans do not wish to see multi-corner fights at this instance. However, if all rational reasoning fails, I am prepared for the worst scenario as well.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HDB 50 Years: From Affordable to Struggle

Note: This is the article which I wrote that Minister Mah Bow Tan is trying to "rebut" in his weekly column in Today newspapers. This article first appear on NSP newspaper, North Star, which we have sold thousands and thousands in various parts of Singapore.

Goh Meng Seng

HDB is celebrating its 50 years of existence recently and has started a round island exhibition of its past achievements. It has even come up with a two part TV series on Channel News Asia to glorify its past achievement. For the first 20 years or so, from 1960 to 1980, HDB has done a relatively impressive job of providing cheap public housing for the majority of Singaporeans.

However, we must recognize the fact that without the Land Acquisition Act that empowered the PAP government to acquire land from many small and medium land owners at dirt cheap prices, it would not be possible for HDB to redistribute these lands in terms of cheap public housing to the masses. Without the sacrifices made by all these land owners, the PAP government would not be able to acquire up to 80% of land in Singapore at an unimaginably low prices.

Thus, it would not be complete to talk about HDB’s achievement of housing more than 80% of Singaporeans without looking at the power given to the government via the Land Acquisition Act as well as the enormous sacrifices made by many land owners in the past. The Land Acquisition Act and HDB are the pillars of the socialist land reform tool that is aimed solve the problem of inadequate housing for the masses. The government has the privilege and power to forcefully acquire land from many land owners at dirt cheap prices but it also has the social obligation to redistribute these lands to the masses via HDB by providing cheap public housing.

The enormous amount of past PAP’s political capital is derived from the success of such land reform effort to provide cheap public housing at REAL SUBSIDIZED prices to the masses. When the late Minister Teh Cheang Wan (who has committed suicide after corruption probe) tried to explain about affordability of the new increased prices of HDB in a news article published in Straits Time 1981, he has put up an impressive chart of the breakdowns of costing for the various HDB flats. The costing includes construction and land costs. The selling prices were based on these costing in which different amount of REAL COST SUBSIDIES were given. Most of the time, the subsidies stated were more than the land cost stated.

It is almost impossible for us to know the present costing of any HDB flats built in modern days, least REAL COST SUBSIDIES if any. The pricing mechanism of HDB’s new flats has been changed drastically, from cost based pricing to resale market based pricing. HDB claims that it is giving “MARKET SUBSIDIES” when it prices the new HDB flats at a discount from the resale market prices. I guess I could also tell my customers that they are getting “MARKET SUBSIDIES” from me when I give them some discount on the products they buy from me, this is in spite of the fact that I am still earning a profit from the sales.

If the prices of new HDB flats are based on the resale market prices, wouldn’t it be in the interests of HDB and the PAP government that the prices in resale market to be kept high so that they could sell their new HDB flats at higher prices?

This pricing mechanism is flawed. On the surface, it is supposedly based on “market forces” but could such market force price the flats in accordance to the general affordability of the people? The answer is obviously no. Such pricing mechanism will only capture the availability of liquidity and demand that is created by population growth. It cannot represent the actual “affordability” as it could not reflect real income growth as well as general inflation rate.

In recent years, the prices of the HDB resale market are heavily influenced by:
1. The increase in demand caused by the influx of foreign migrants who became Permanent Residents (PRs).
2. The excess liquidity that brought in by these PRs.
3. The shortage of new HDB flats due to HDB’s inability to forecast accurately the demand of housing
due to the rapid population growth.

All these factors have nothing to do with the real income growth and affordability of Singaporeans. In fact, it is not difficult to realize that over time, HDB prices have outstripped income growth in the past decades.

During my father’s generation, a family with only one income could possibly pay off its HDB mortgage loan within 10 years. For my generation, we could only pay off our HDB mortgage loans with two incomes of husband and wife. For our present and next generation, they could only afford their new HDB flat with a 30 years mortgage paid by two income earners! It is very obvious from this general observation that HDB prices have outstripped our wages at least by two times.

Minister Mah Bow Tan whose Ministry in charge of HDB has tried very hard to prove the affordability of HDB by using all sorts of statistics. It has used an inherently bias Median Household Income of HDB flat applicants as well as statistical data comparison between income growth and HDB resale price growth for the period of 1999 to 2009. This comparison is totally inadequate. We should look at the comparison of income versus HDB resale prices for the period of 1990 till 2009 instead. This is the most appropriate comparison because the PAP government started its “Asset Enhancement Scheme” in early 1990s.

Although the data is incomplete due to the lack of data for the period from 1991 to 1994, but it is very obvious to us that the HDB Resale Price Index has outstripped Median Household Income growth by 200%. I shall also quote the analysis from Lucky Tan’s blog:
1. From 1990 to 2009, RPI rose to 442 (442% of the base year) but household income rose only to 211 (211% of the base year) i.e. income rose at roughly half the rate property rose over a 20 year period. The RPI was only 34.1 in 1990, today it is 154 i.e. a HDB flat today is 4.5 times the price 20 years ago but household income is only 2.1 times.

2. You will notice the big jump from 1990 to 1995 when the RPI rose from 34.1 to 101.9. That jump occurred just after CPF was liberalised for housing in 1991. During that period household income only went up by 36% but HDB price almost tripled. CPF basically went from funding retirement to funding
home purchases.

The conclusion is very obvious. Due to the fact that HDB prices have outstripped income growth for the past 20 years, it is inevitable that we will be shortage of funds for retirement since almost all of our CPF funds are being used to pay the 30 years mortgage for our flats.

Minister Mah Bow Tan and PAP leaders have not denied the fact that with the present HDB prices which need a 30 years mortgage payment, Singaporeans would have shortage of retirement funds in CPF. CPF would have failed its mission in providing savings for comfortable retirement of most Singaporeans. In fact, Minister Mah has suggested a way out of this situation: Monetize your HDB flats to finance your retirement. It is a very nice sounding way of saying you need to sell off your flats for your retirement!

It is really a cruel suggestion to all hard working Singaporeans who have worked so hard for more than 30 years of their life to sell their flats and lower their quality of live for their retirement just because the cheapest HDB housing in town during their time has sucked up almost all of their CPF contributions which left little for their retirement.

HDB has started out as a good socialist tool for land reform and redistribution. However it seems that half way down the road, it has totally diverted from its original humble but important objective of providing cheap public housing.

It has developed into a monster that overpriced basic housing which results in it cannibalizing on Singaporeans’ retirement funds. If we do not stop the PAP government’s Minister Mah from perpetuating this policy direction of high HDB prices, we would be supporting his plan to get Singaporeans to sell off their HDB flats for retirement in future!
Is this some big achievement for HDB to brag about for its 50 years existence?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dawn of Post-LKY era

I have spoken about Post-LKY era in several occasions over the last few years and I have just done that on the day Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew died, 9 September 2010. When I heard that news, it immediately struck upon me that we are walking right into Post-LKY without any adequate preparation at all.

The loss of his beloved wife at this ripe old age of 87 would have great impact on his health and well being, especially so when he has just been admitted into hospital for chest infections.

When I watch him speak at his wife's funeral, reading his eulogy painfully with a barely audible voice and head facing down most of the time, I suddenly felt very sorry for him. The once one of the best political orators in this region, has suddenly lost his flare and magical touch. The severely wounded old lion may not roar again. I still hope that he would have a speedy recovery from both his illness and grief.

Someone has a lively discussion with me about Post-LKY era and declare that "LKY doesn't matter at all". I said, "But the fact that we are using LKY as the indication in Post-LKY era discussions truly reflects the fact that his political life is an important part of Singapore's history!"

Although Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is still alive, but death to everyone, including all of us, is certain, just a matter of when. With due respect to MM Lee, for the benefits of Singapore, we will have to examine all the possibilities carefully so that we could prepare ourselves, the Nation, for a smooth transition into Post-LKY era.

There are many questions of uncertainties with regard to Post-LKY era:

1) Will LKY's legacy outlive his passing?
2) Can the present social-economic-political model sustain in the long run?
3) Will there be power struggle within PAP? If so, will political instability occur?
4) Will both foreign and local investors maintain their confidence in our country's stability?
5) Will Singapore's political hegemony continue to strive?

The ultimate question is, will Singapore be better or worse off without Mr Lee Kuan Yew and how could we maintain or develop our political system thereafter?

In human history, particularly Chinese ancient and modern history, the passing of an Emperor or a political Strongman will always trigger off power struggle within the system. eg. The death of Chairman Mao Zhe Tong is the prime example how the power vacuum leads to intense power struggle. Luckily for China, Chairman Mao during his last breaths, has done the right thing of reinstating Deng Xiao Peng so that the Gang of Four could not extend their political atrocities by capturing power.

In Singapore's context, one may think that all is fine since Mr Lee Hsien Loong has become the third generation Prime Minister in Singapore. However, from all observations made so far, the undercurrent of power struggle is quite eminent.

It is only natural for any organizations to have different cliques or factions, especially so for political parties no matter how big or small they are. The most important thing is to find the balance whereby all factions could compromise and work together for the bigger picture. However, when there is a change in the dynamics between the factions due to the diminishing or total absence of a strongman like MM Lee, it will initiate fresh round of struggle to find the new balance of interests and power among them. Whether we like it or not, such realignment of power balance will take place.

In my opinion, for the sake of the country, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew should retire from active politics in either the form of total withdrawal from contest for the coming GE or just become a backbencher. This is to allow the Nation and all social, political and economic sectors to get used to a system without Strongman LKY. We need such gradual transitional period to cushion off the impact of the uncertainties arise from Post-LKY era.

Post-LKY era will pose great challenges as well as opportunities for the country as a whole. Post-LKY era will practically mean the end of strongman politics in Singapore. Many countries in the world have gone through such transition. eg. Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and even China etc.

The common phenomenon of Strongman politics in many countries during last century is basically due to the Post War impact whereby strong leadership is needed for the initial phase of stability, recovery and rebuilding from the devastating effects of World War II and the political uncertainty imposed by Cold War. However, most of the countries have walked out of the need of Strongman politics and many of them are working towards a more open and democratic political system.

Whether Singapore will follow the footsteps of these countries in embarking on the journey of developing a more open and democratic political system suitable for Singapore's context will depend largely on voters, not merely the ruling party alone.

It is a world trend for such political transition to happen because the model of political hegemony is NOT SUSTAINABLE in the long run. We should ensure the transition from Strongman politics to democratic development to be in a controlled and smooth manner.

Concurrently, we should reexamine on the kinds of political models we want for Post-LKY era. This should be done with the interests of our future generations instead of the usual narrowly defined interests of the ruling party.

MM Lee has once said that if the "opposition party" wins the elections twice consecutively, Singapore will be doomed. The basic reason why he comes to that conclusion is that the present political system is designed in such a way that a lot of power has been CENTRALIZED to give the ruling party absolute control. There is practically little SEPARATION of POWER to talk about, least, any meaningful checks and balance system. It is basically a system that is designed to entrenched the system of power hegemony.

However, MM Lee may have forgotten that the main threat of "dooming" Singapore may not come from any opposition party winning the elections but rather a corrupt group of politicians evolving out of PAP itself! The PAP may be seen as relatively clean by world standards but NOBODY can guarantee that this will forever be so and PAP will never be led by corrupt leaders in future!

I really hope that we will not face turbulent time ahead in Post-LKY era. If that happens, it would also mean that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has failed to build a sustainable system that could outlive his own legacy. There is still time, no matter how little it is, for MM Lee to do what is right for Singapore.

MM Lee should initiate and oversee the fundamentals of a better and more democratic political system to be established before he retires from Singapore politics. Nobody else in PAP has such political clout to do it except him.

He should institutionalize the independence of the Elections Department and fair play in our elections.

1) Gerrymandering and pork barrel politics should be outlawed.
2) A form of Proportional Representation should be adopted.
3) Independence of the press and government establishments like People's Association should be established.
4) All political parties should be given equal access to Government resources and funding to enhance healthy competition.
5) Political Donations Act should be amended to allow political parties to solicit funds.
6) Freedom of speech should be further institutionalized so that political parties or politicians could air their views freely in the context of public interests.
7) Freedom of information access to government statistics and data should be made available for enhancing political debates.
8) Intimidation or use of coercion on political opponents through government agencies, institutions or GLCs should be outlawed. No one should be intimidated or persecuted for his political beliefs and involvement.

There may be more things to be done but it would be a good start with the above mentioned. There is an urgency for him to do so else Singapore will fall and become the victim of intense power struggle within his own party after his passing. That would be a sad Post-LKY era the entire Nation will face in time to come.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Condolences to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew & Mr. Lee Hsien Loong

I pay a visit to the Wake of Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew today with a few party colleagues including Steve Chia and Nor Lella to offer my deepest condolences and sympathy to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and their families.

I have given a short statement to Radio 95.8 on the importance of the support of a capable spouse, a soul mate for people who are involved in politics and public service. The lonely road on pursuing our political dreams will be much bearable with the support of our soul mates in our lives. I am fortunate to have my soul mate who has provided strong moral support all these years and I empathize the great grief of MM Lee losing his soul mate. My sympathy and condolences to him and wishing him speedy recovery from his present illness.

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, October 04, 2010

Long term coalition cannot be based on anti-PAP or anti-LKY sentiments

The following is a very good report written by Donaldson Tan of News Asia Republic on the Elections Forum organized by SFD.

“A team building process cannot be based on a common enemy. It is not sustainable over the long term, ” Mr Goh Meng Seng told participants at a public workshop on electoral reform organised by Singaporeans For Democracy (SFD). “What will happen [to Opposition unity] when LKY dies or when PAP looses half its support?” This reply was a response to a question from the floor on Opposition unity. Mr Goh is the Secretary-General of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) and a panelist at the workshop. The 40-year-old politician was elected to the top post at NSP this February.

He told participants that PAP practises confrontational politics because of its historical baggage with colonialism and communism. As such, it is not unusual for PAP to treat Opposition politicians as troublemakers. This mindset is not sustainable. “You must first believe that the Opposition is part of the government, but plays a different role,” Mr Goh told the participants.

The ‘troublemaker’ mindset is evident in the Political Donation Act. Total anonymous donation to political parties cannot exceed S$5,000 a year. This limit is hardly enough to cover a year’s rent of office space for the political party. To make matters worse, the Singapore Land Authority does not permit residential spaces (e.g. HDB flat) to be used for conducting political activities. Yet, MPs can rent void deck space of HDB flats for political outreach. Moreover, PAP MPs enjoy a discount when they rent the HDB void deck space through the People’s Association.

This constraints political competition in Singapore. Mr Goh pointed out that political competition is good for the state. This is why political parties in Hong Kong and Taiwan enjoy state funding as long as the parties can win votes above a particular threshold. Perhaps Singapore should do the same to allow the current political system to be more balanced. Political parties are agent of change, but change still must come from the electorate. The electorate has to believe in fairness in the political system.

In Singapore, the elected MP is not given funds to set up an office in his constituency. In Hong Kong, the elected representatives and town councillors receive state funding to pay for the office rent and staff salaries for the operation of his office. In comparison, Singapore is very primitive. Opposition MPs have to meet their constituents in the HDB void deck. Certain constituents require privacy when meeting their MP but this is not possible if the Opposition MP has no office space.

Mr Goh also shared his concern that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had refused to call for by-election in response to the news that Dr Balaji Sadasivan, a MP of the Ang Mo Kio GRC, had passed away from Colon Cancer. The Prime Minister’s rationale is that the remaining MPs in the same GRC can take on his roles and responsibilities. Mr Goh pointed out that a MP has 2 roles: (1) serve the constituents; and (2) debate in parliament. “How can anyone simply replaces another MP to debate in parliament?” he said.

He opined that the problem of by-election can be circumvented by proportional representation. In proportional representation, by-election can be circumvented more fairly as it allows the party to internally select a new representative to take over the vacated MP post. While it may not be fair to aspiring MPs who are alive, proportional representation is more inclusive. For example, proportional representation allows LGBT interest to become an election agenda, unlike the current situation, whereby first-past-the-post system restricts General Election candidates to campaign along mainstream issues. After all, LGBT members are still members of society.

Mr Goh also raised another concern relating to the GRC – race politics. The Election Department requires the certification of race of General Election candidates of minority race. This certification is not permanent. It is only valid for one General Election, so candidates have to be re-certified at every General Election. “Does your race change over time” asked Mr Goh. According to Mr Goh, the reason for the certification of minority race is to inform PAP how many wards the Opposition will be contesting. The Election Department reports to the Prime Minister’s Office. Moreover, it creates the perception among minority race candidates that the opposition political parties need them because of their race and not their individual merits such as integrity and political acumen.

Last but not least, Mr Goh touched on the conduct of General Election by the Elections Department. He noted that Singapore does not have a fixed date for General Election, thus there is no incentive for the Elections Department to release periodically a report on electoral boundaries. The Elections Department does not brief partisan players on electoral procedures. This includes issues such as what counts as a voided vote and how votes are counted. The Elections Department needs to beef up in this aspect.

The Elections Department is also in charge of venue booking during General Election campaign period. Rallies are important for opposition parties as they are the only means for an Opposition political party to access masses during the campaign period. “Singapore has a very primitive way for the Opposition to book rally venues. People has to start queuing up the night before [outside the Elections Department],” said Mr Goh. Online booking of venues is so prevalent today. Mr Goh noted that the ruling party benefits from the current set-up as it can easily mobilise a lot of people to queue, unlike any of the Opposition political parties.

There were 2 other panelists – Mr Chia Li Tik (Secretary-General of the Socialist Front) and Dr James Gomez (Executive Director of SFD). Film maker Martyn See was the workshop moderator. The workshop, titled SFD Election Consultation, was held at Post Museum on 2 Oct 2010 (Saturday) from 1500 to 1800. There were 50 participants in total. The 3 panelists had campaigned together as candidates under the Workers’ Party in the 2001 General Election.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Singaporeans For Democracy Elections Forum

I will be speaking at the Elections Forum organized by Singaporeans For Democracy (SfD)

Date: 2 October 2010
Time: 3-6pm
Venue: Post Museum,107+109 Rowell Road S209033 (directions)

I will touch on mainly three aspects of the electoral system here.

1) The Electoral Process
2) Unreasonable rules
3) Alternative System

All are welcomed.

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Taiwan Government encourages installation of Flood Gates

In one of National Solidarity Party's press statement released after Singaporeans experiencing frequent flooding in Singapore, we have recommended the PAP government to consider subsidizing individual households and small businesses who are adversely affected by the floods. However, PAP government has not responded, neither did the main stream media dare to publish anything about it.

It seems that not only the British government has implemented the flood gate installation program, even the Taiwanese government has praised the effectiveness of such implementation of the flood gates.

After the big disastrous flooding caused by typhoon Morakot last year, the Taiwanese government responded by coordinating the installation of flood gates:

Morakot Relief and Reconstruction
Reconstruction Council: Government will coordinate installation of floodgates to boost flood prevention in disaster areas

Publication Date:08/27/2009
Deputy Executive Director Chern Jenn-chuan of the Southern Office of the Morakot Post-Disaster Reconstruction Council said August 27 that in order to improve flood-prevention capabilities of people in disaster areas, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan had directed the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) of the Ministry of the Interior to provide full subsidies for installation of floodgates in Linbian and Jiadong townships. The CPA shall also oversee local government polling of township residents as soon as possible concerning their willingness to erect floodgates. As long as residents are willing, the CPA shall call on existing contract floodgate vendors to complete installation within seven days.

Chern went on to explain that Linbian and Jiadong are low-lying areas of Pingtung County, so the public in these rural townships should remain on high alert before the water has fully receded in order to cut post-disaster risks. He stressed that Premier Liu has instructed that comprehensive disaster response preparations be completed at both the central and local government levels to reduce future disaster damage or losses.

(Source: Southern Office, Morakot Post-disaster Reconstruction Council, Executive Yuan, August 27, 2009)

I sincerely hope that the PAP government will respond positively for the benefits of Singaporeans who are affected by such flash floods. The following is the news from Taiwan:

馬:高市退回防水閘門 補助 很可惜

* 2010-09-26
* 中國時報
* 【呂素麗、張立勳/綜合報導】










Monday, September 20, 2010

Working Poor

About nine years ago, Jame Gomez was talking about "New Poor" in Workers Party's various rallies. But after nine years down the road, many people are talking about "Working Poor". i.e. It is no longer "New" but just as any other average guy or gal in the work force who are now considered as "Poor".

What has happened throughout this period that created this Working Poor phenomenon? The widening gap of income inequality caused by Globalization as well as ultra-capitalism has taken its toll on the middle class in all societies. The changing of labour conditions also caused a great diminishing middle class in many societies, including Singapore.

Karl Marx has predicted the eventuality of the diminishing middle class which will create social class struggle within an economy, if Capitalism is allowed to go to the fullest extreme and unregulated or checked.

This is especially so in Singapore when our country is just a little red dot on Earth. There will always be "Cheapest, Fasterest, Betterest" labour else where who are willing to come to work in Singapore. There are billions of people on Earth and Singapore only need a few millions of them.

What it would mean to Singaporeans is that without proper checks and control, each and everyone of us could be replaced by some other "Foreign Talents". Our wages will be forever suppressed or stagnant, which is the case right now. In spite of wonderful Economic Growth, the real income of the working class has stagnated in the past 10 years. Some even face depression of wages and some, worst, retrenched and face either structural unemployment or simply underemployment. Thus, our Working Poor emerges.

The problems of Working Poor will continue to deteriorate in the years to come in Singapore. Without a proper social safety net, we will face more Singaporeans being displaced by the "Cheapest, Fasterest, Betterest" Foreign Labour. Wages will continue to be suppressed while cost of living will continue to rise, mainly due to higher rental charges.

Standards and quality of living will go down while cost of living goes up.

Jobs is no longer a problem; Jobs that pay enough to sustain decent livelihood will be the main problem. It is under such circumstances that places like Hong Kong and Malaysia are setting minimum wages for their vulnerable group of workers.

The widening income gap is the main concern that this PAP government has refused to acknowledge. If this is allow to carry on, social tension will mount. What will become of Singapore? I really don't want to imagine.

But here are some key indications:

1) Singaporeans can no longer afford a decent HDB flat. It takes two income earners to take up a 30 years mortgage to pay for a decent HDB flat. Singaporeans may need to pay a 35 years or even 40 years mortgage if things carry on like this.

2) There will not be enough CPF savings for retirement for 80% of Singaporeans.

3) Singaporeans will have no retirement at all and will have to work until the day they die. This is what PAP and the Main Stream Media trying to "mentally condition" Singaporeans into believing that working until death is "NORMAL" or even "GOOD FOR YOU".

4) There will be more people living in poverty when they get older. Well, new definition of poverty will emerge.

5) Social instability. There are already ground grumbles and whispers of great discontent on the ground. If this carries on without proper social safety net being set up, I really don't dare to imagine what will happen in the near future.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Casino levy to be RAISED after the elections?

Yesterday, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan released some startling statistics. According to media reports, more 1 million visits to the casino have been made by Singaporeans in the past 7 months.

Based on these numbers, it is obvious that the bulk of the record profits reported by the casinos are being earned from Singaporeans rather than foreigners.

As an immediate stop gap measure, the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) has issued directives to stop the casino from engaging in activities that encourage Singaporeans to visit the casinos. These include free shuttle rides to the casinos and media releases that showcase big winnings by gamblers.

In the longer run, it is obvious that these stop gap measures will have only a limited impact . There are more than 1 million visits to the casino in the past 7 months are made by Singaporeans. It appears the exiting levy ($100 per 24 hours and $2000 per year) is NOT having the desired effect of deterring Singaporeans from visiting the casino.


If there are no plans to raise the levy, Minister Balakrishnan should state this clearly.

If the number of Singaporean gamblers continues to surge and we start seeing a large number of broken families due to problem gambling, we can then hold Minister Balakrishnan accountable for having failed to manage the social problems of the casinos.

I am also interested to know some of the unpublished figures to determine the extend of the impact of Casinos on Singaporeans:

1) What is the total number of visits by foreigners to the casinos within the same period of time? This figure is important for us to assess on whether these casinos are “successful” in attracting MORE foreigners than Singaporeans. The KPI for this success is for every local Singaporean patrons, the casinos should attract 4 foreign patrons (20-80 ratio).

2) I would like to know the number of Singaporean who have signed up the $2000 yearly membership. On top of that, I also want to know the breakdown of the number of visits by Singaporeans, including those holding the $2000 membership. Eg. How many visited the Casino only once in the 7 months. How many visited twice, three times, four times…. etc. This is to determine the social impact of the Casinos on Singaporeans.

I believe MCYS has all these data and it is time to do a review on the casinos.

There are still problems of Casinos providing rolling credits (Casino operators basically turn into money lenders!) and not stating clearly the odds of each different games. But I guess we will have to do it one at a time as it seems that Minister Balakrishnan may not be able to cope with too many things simultaneously.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No Race-based Politics in Singapore?

During the launch of NSP Malay Bureau last Saturday, a Malay reporter asked me whether NSP is moving towards "race based politics" with the launch of this Malay Bureau.

My instantaneous response is, "Aren't we living in a political system full of race based politics and policies already?"

Coincidentally, MM Lee was reported talking to foreign correspondent about how Singapore will fall into "race based politics" if we to allow more political liberalization.

Let me get this clear here, Singapore under PAP's rule, has already been engaging race based politics all this while! From the HDB racial quota rule, GRC system to setting up of Mendaki, Sinda, CDAC, all these are race-based politics. Although PAP's Rajaratnam has written the National Pledge on "regardless of race, language or religion", but that is all "Highfalutin ideals" in PAP's eyes!

And the truth is, the ideal of cultivating a "Singapore Singaporean" has been subtly put off because of the recognition of the racial fundamentals of various ethnic groups in Singapore. That is why PAP starts putting up the HDB racial quota rule, set up racially based Mendaki, Sinda and CDAC... etc.

GRC is set up precisely because in PAP's eyes, "minority candidates" (I do not like to use the word minority at all) could not win a single ward seat because of the assumption that the Chinese would be biased and vote according to racial lines. This is in spite of the fact that BOTH PAP's and Opposition's Malays, Indians and candidates of other races have won elections for decades!

These changes are initiated basically because PAP realized that it has somewhat lost some support of the Malay and Indian communities back in the 1980s electoral contests. It wasn't a problem for the 1960s or the 1970s. But when Mr. JB Jeyaratnam started to break PAP's total monopoly of power in 1982 by-elections, PAP started to play the race cards. The high concentration of “minority votes” was considered as one of the prime reason why opposition parties in the 1980s were able to score well. Thus the HDB racial quota rule sets in. GRC was set up. Eventually, racially based organizations like Mendaki, Sinda and CDAC were set up as well.

Thus, I cannot understand how opposition parties could be insinuated as the ones who will go into "race based politics" when PAP has already covered all these racial aspects!

The truth is, any politicians or political parties will not survive politically if one is to concentrate on a single racial issue! This is basically because by being singular racially based, you will lose the support of other races. The ONLY WAY for a political party to win the elections is by winning the TRUST OF ALL RACES!

This is why PAP has gone into multiple race-based system with the set up of Mendaki, Sinda and CDAC. Yes, these are race based, but they are multiple race-based.

Should we be worried about anyone going into race-based politics? Singular race based politics? Apparently not. That would be the most stupid thing for a politician to do. He will not get support from the other races at all! How could he be taken seriously?

I believe most Singaporeans nowadays, regardless of race, language and religion, would not buy that kind of racial rhetoric even from people of their own race. We are an open society with citizens who are exposed to the outside world. We may be concerned about issues that are particularly important to our own racial community but that does not mean that we will go all out to encroach into other races' space.

There are still social or even political problems which are specific to different races. This is something we cannot avoid. This is why any political parties who are serious in the long term political development of Singapore, will have to address it in an open manner. We cannot just pretend differences in race don't exist. But we must always bear in mind that we need to apply fairness and critical considerations in a just and balanced manner to all problems face by different races.

PAP has jealousy guarded itself as the only party that could deal with race based politics in Singapore. Anybody who dares to challenge this position would normally face "demolition" from its leaders. Jufrie and Tang Liang Hong are those special cases for us to examine closely. Incidentally, both of them represented the same opposition party, Workers Party at different point of time. One would wonder how could two "accused" racial (i.e. Malay and Chinese) chauvinists ever serve the same party at all.

Strategically speaking, such deliberate racial divides enhanced by the present the race based political setting, would require any political parties to convince each and every Singaporeans of all different races that they could well represent their interests in parliament, in a balanced way. It is not a simple task to accomplish especially so when PAP has deliberately set the OB markers for all other opposition parties from touching "race based issues" while itself dominates the race based agenda.

As the leader of NSP, I feel the need to address such challenges. Forming the Malay Bureau is my first step towards establishing a party which will be seen as a multi-racial party which will take all views from all races into considerations. NSP must be seen to be the other party which is able to take care of all races in helping them to mitigate or voice out their concerns in parliament in a balanced and responsible way. If I could, I would like to form the Indian Bureau for NSP if I could get critical mass of Indian Singaporeans to join us as well.

The point I want to make here is that, don't be frighten by PAP's scare tactic on "race based politics". As long as a political party is responsible in dealing with all race based issues in a balanced, fair and just manner, there is nothing wrong to be all inclusive in our approach of forming Malay and Indian Bureaus, just like PAP forming Mendaki, Sinda and CDAC.

There might be competing ideas among different races. But I think we should have the wisdom to resolve such differences while working towards our common interests as a Nation.

NSP is definitely not going into a narrow path of singular race based platform. In fact, I asked the reporter one simple question, NSP has always been seen as a "Chinese party" in the past. Won't the formation of the Malay Bureau actually diffuse such racially based perception once and for all? Won't it be seen as more racially balanced if we have Malay Bureau as well as Indian Bureau in NSP? How could we be perceived as "race based" political party when we are in fact moving towards in building a multi-racial political party platform?

If anyone wants to accuse NSP of being race-based party, they should reconsider us as "multi-race based" party.

Goh Meng Seng

Saturday, September 11, 2010

National Solidarity Party plans to field some 30 candidates in next GE

Media Conference Brief

1) This is the official launch of Malay Bureau of National Solidarity Party.

2) This is to provide a platform for Singaporeans to gather and discuss on issues important to the Malay community.

3) It also allows issues pertinent to the Malay community to be heard in proper public discourses so as to achieve better understanding among Singaporeans and racial harmony.

4) It also provides a platform for passionate and dedicated Malay Singaporeans to participate in Singapore’s electoral politics meaningfully and contribute to the political development of Singapore.

5) Ms Nor Lella Mardiiiah Binte Mohamed will head the Malay Bureau while Mr. Syafarin Sarif will be the Secretary. They will be the key appointment holders leading a core team including Mr. Ramli as Organizing Secretary, Mr. Yadzeth as Treasurer and Abdul Mr. Salim as Assistant Secretary.

6) With the formation of this Malay Bureau, NSP is ready and determined to send our first Malay candidate into parliament, whether as MP or NCMP.

7) NSP is now confident to achieve its initial target of fielding 20 candidates in the coming elections with this formation of Malay Bureau.

8) We are now working towards fielding 30 candidates as we are now expecting more Malay potential candidates to join us.

9) As long as anyone who has the passion to serve, has the right attitude towards politics as the means of public service and the ability to be the effective voice of the people, we welcome them to join us.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
National Solidarity Party

Friday, September 10, 2010

Broken promises of Casino?

I have wanted to write about this issue earlier but couldn't get the appropriate "evidence" in time. But it seems that the PAP has taken a step faster than me this time round.

When PAP decided to build these two Casino Resorts (yes, I refuse to fool my readers on the true nature of these resorts by calling them "Integrated Resorts"), they have declared openly that these Casino Reports' primary targets are foreigners/tourists.

However, it seems that Casino operators do not agree with the government at all. This brochure from Resort World is distributed ALL ROUND ISLAND. It provides shuttle bus schedules which covers North South East West and Central.

If we take a good look inside this brochure, we will find a total of 19 pick up points all over Singapore being served by this FREE SHUTTLE BUS service. There are two full pages of DETAILED schedule:

Some may think that there is nothing wrong for Resort World to provide free shuttle service for Singaporeans who want to visit the Universal Studio. But wait, take a closer look at the time scheduled. On normal weekdays, the last bus leaving from most "terminal" bus stop is at 10pm while returning shuttle bus service also ends at about 10pm. However, during week days, the Universal Studio closes at 7pm!

During weekends or public holidays, the timing is even more absurd: last shuttle bus ends at 12am in some places while others ends after 2am! So who do these FREE SHUTTLE BUSES serve? Apparently, only the Casino operates 24 hours!

The above are all documented evidences I have gathered. Marina Sands also provides Free Shuttle Service but I do not have the details. But Sands has the advantage of situated right next to the MRT station.

It is obvious that the Free Shuttle Bus service is aimed at local Casino patrons. Resort World seems to take the fastest step to "rectify" the situation by declaring that all Free Shuttle Bus service to the heartlands will stop with immediate effect. Is this a sign of self confession even before MCYS completes its "investigation"?

Well, does the fault lies only on the Casino operator?

It is unimaginable that the authority didn't know about all these scheduled free shuttle bus services at all. First of all, license needs to be issued to these buses to ferry the public. To run such scheduled service round island at different intervals, it will need at least 10 buses for these 5 zones. Did LTA know about such service?

The Free Shuttle Bus service has been running for quite a few months. (I first heard about it in May.) Brochures have been distributed island wide. There is even signboard tied on lamp posts at the respective pick up point!
Photo from Channel News Asia Website

How could such an extensive operations escape the ears and eyes of this government? It actually takes months to react to it?

I am not too sure how the new law created specially for governing Casino operators say about those operators who breach rules on marketing the Casino to local patrons. But I think it is important for the PAP to keep up to its words that these two Casino Resorts are marketing aggressively to local population.

This Free Shuttle Bus service is just the tip of the iceberg. I was told that personalized letters to individuals have been sent to market the Casino. I was even told that credit card holders or some VIPs were given special privileges for visiting the Casino. Are they allowed to do all these local marketing?

Casino gambling is a vice, no matter what. While we ban advertising for things like cigarettes, why should such vice be allowed to be marketed to the people? Besides, PAP has reiterated that such Casino Resorts are meant for Foreigners and Tourists but it seems that this is not the case at all!

I am a staunch Anti-Casino person. I have delivered a speech back in 5 March 2005 to reason why Casino is bad for Singapore. The PAP has claimed that the successful casino in the world has 80% foreign patrons with only 20% local gamblers. But in Singapore, we have seen that the gamblers in casino here consists of 60% of local gamblers! But yet, they are still marketing the casino to local population!

Apparently, the Casinos have broken their promise of focusing on foreign gamblers. They are not keeping to their own term of success, attracting 80% of foreigners but instead, concentrating on marketing to local population!

The other area of problem is the huge amount of credits that the casino operators could grant to its patrons. We just realize that one Singapore businessman has lost $26milloin to the Casino. This is mainly because the Casino is all willing to grant credit to this man, almost unlimited credit.

I was told that as long as you could put up a $50k deposits, you could possibly get credit terms from the Casino!

My question is this, do Casino operators have any finance license to grant such big loans to its patrons? Are the present laws adequate to cope with such extensive loans or credits given by the Casinos? If Casino is allowed to grant such huge amount of loans/credits to its patrons, then it is apparent that it will become a big money lender as well! Shouldn't it be made to abide to existing finance law?

Most importantly, will PAP do something about it?

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


1. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has finally conceded what the National Solidarity Party (NSP) has been saying all along: that the government’s liberal immigration policy was poorly thought out, and has had an adverse impact on housing plans. In his comments reported by The Straits Times on 7 September 2010, SM Goh offers the implausible excuse that the government was “caught by surprise”.

2. Given that the government sets quotas on the number of foreign workers to be let in to the country every year, it is ridiculous for the government to claim that it was caught flat footed by a sudden surge in immigrants.

3. Mr Mah has said as early back as 2007 that Singapore is planning for a 6.5 million person population within the next 20 years. Apparently, as a Cabinet Minister, Minister Mah is well aware of the direction that this government is heading to. It is thus inexcusable for HDB, under Minister Mah’s charge, not to respond accordingly to the intended population plan. Minister Mah will have to be made accountable for such mismanagement of the housing planning by HDB.

4. SM Goh and the NSP are in complete agreement over one point: the National Development Ministry, helmed by Mr Mah Bow Tan, is the Ministry that should bear the responsibility for the housing bubble that resulted from this surge in immigrants.

5. On the other hand, NSP is doubtful of PAP’s policy of increasing the population size to 6.5million. The falling total fertility rate (TFR) of native Singaporeans means that the government’s race towards the 6.5 million figure will be spearheaded by a further influx of foreigners. Despite the government’s packaging of the 6.5 million figure as a “planning parameter”, Singaporeans will be justified in demanding reassurance given that previous planning parameters have been exceeded, as SM Goh concedes.

6. Singaporeans across almost every demographic have borne the brunt of this poorly thought out policy: low wage workers have seen their incomes decline as foreign workers depress wages, while at the other end young middle income couples have seen public housing continue to rise beyond their means. Every Singaporean taking public transport has seen the reality of a public transport infrastructure bursting at its seams.

7. In light of all of the above, the NSP calls on the government to urgently revise the 6.5 million person population target downwards, and commission an inter-Ministry study with the purpose of accounting to Singaporeans regarding how housing, transport, and social infrastructure can continue to be assured.

8. The NSP also reiterates our stand that new HDB flats should be sold at cost price to citizens. HDB should also consider selling new flats to PR at market price so to ease the demand due to unusual increase in PR population.

Goh Meng Seng
National Solidarity Party
On behalf of the National Solidarity Party
8 September 2010


It has flooded again today, NSP empathize with Singaporeans who have been suffering from these floods which seemingly has become a norm nowadays.

Following our recent call for the government to commission a Committee of Inquiry to look into the recently frequent flash floods, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) has researched into possible short-term solutions to alleviate the problem of flooding temporarily for those who are affected. NSP recommends a combination of three affordable and practical measures that the government can implement quickly as a short-term solution to minimise the threats from future flash floods.

The three short-term measures are: flood alarm system, “Floodgate” and submersible pump.

An effective Integrated Flood Alarm System (IFAS) consisting of Short Message Service (SMS), localized siren and broadcast warnings should be put in place. The government should open up a website for those residents and workers in flood-prone zones who would want to be warned of flash floods via SMS to register themselves there. Whenever a flash flood occurs, the nearest neighborhood police post should deploy personnel to sound off a unique siren around the affected area. Lastly, radio and television broadcast warnings should also be given to drivers and motorists.

We have researched for a relatively cheap, portable and viable “Floodgate” which may help residents and businesses to prevent flooding damaging their properties whenever the need arises. The British Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, responsible for flood response has made recommendation of the product featured by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). This product had effectively prevented flooding in business and residential premises where it was deployed. Huw Irranca-Davies, had promised to inject government funding to supply it to Britain’s flood-prone areas. Costing as little as S$700 each, Floodgates may be easily installed into, and removed from, standard doors. We also hope that the PAP government could provide funding for residents and businesses to acquire such cheaper alternative to help alleviate the pain caused by these floods. More details on the product could be found at

Lastly, submersible pumps may be distributed to residents and businesses in flood-prone zones. They can be used to pump flooding water out of their premises if all things fail. The Civil Defense or another defense unit should also be equipped, and deployed, with heavy-duty submersible pumps that are able to channel flooding water into a nearby unblocked drain, river, or reservoir, or the sea.

NSP empathizes with residents and businesses of their pain in coping with these flooding which seems to become a norm after PUB has turned 90% of Singapore into water catchment area. The damages of the few past flooding have surpassed ten million dollars and we believe it will continue to go up.

While NSP believes that the government still needs to commission a Committee of Inquiry to look into long-term solutions, it believes that the above-recommended short-term measures can and should be implemented immediately with government funding in order to safeguard the interests and safety of the residents and businesses in our flood-prone zones.

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
National Solidarity Party