Friday, February 26, 2010

No clarity yet but more questions on HDB Survery

Last week, I wrote about how the HDB Sample Survey 2008 was misleading and contained serious statistical issues. Leong Sze Hian did an independent analysis and came to a similar conclusion.

What I had written was even featured in the Reach forum. An anonymous poster posted the entire thread from TOC into the Reach discussion thread on HDB.

It is strange that up till now there isn’t any reactions to what I have written. The formidable PAP Internet team which is supposed to “counter” unfavourable, untrue articles by the Opposition did not show up. Instead among the people who commented, there was almost universal agreement that there was something “fishy” about the statistics.

As I had previously written, I do not understand the results of the press release. In particular, the following seems to contradict the daily experience of those that live in the HDB heartlands.

96.4% of all HDB households surveyed said they were satisfied with their flats, while 95.1% were satisfied with their neighbourhood.

I therefore wrote the following email to HDB to ask them for the survey form and the methodology of the survey.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I have read with interest about your recent release on HDB Sample Survery 2008. I would like to have a copy of the survey questionnaire and understand more about the survey methodology applied in this survery.

I am particularly interested on how the 94% of HDB dwellers satisfaction rate was derived from the survey. I would like to know the sample size and the sampling methodology used in this survey.

I would appreciate if you could send me the survey questionnaire and necessary information as soon as possible. Thank you.

Goh Meng Seng

I received the following reply:

Dear Mr Goh,


We thank you for your interest in HDB's SHS 2008 and your enquiries on the survey.

2. Close to 8,000 households across the island were sucessfully surveyed, yielding an overall sampling error of +1.2% at 95% confidence level. A set of weight was used to generalise the survey data to the population level, so that the findings reported are representative of all HDB households. A dual-modal data collection method was used, encompassing Internet survey (e-survey) as well as the conventional face-to-face survey at residents' home.

3. Residents' satisfaction was measured on a 4-point scale, ranging from "Very Satisfied", "Satisfied", "Dissatisfied" to "Very Dissatisfied". The proportion of households who were satisfied consists of those who indicated either they were "Very Satisfied" or "Satisfied".

4. We are unable to forward you a copy of the survey questionnaire. However, you can look forward to more details in our monographs, available for purchase at end Mar/early Apr 2010.

Yours sincerely,


While polite, the reply unfortunately does not provide any of meaningful answers. It did not answer some fundamental question on the sampling methodology applied when the face to face interviews were carried out. It does raise some doubts technically but I will confirm and comment on my doubts after I get more information and clarity once I get hold of the monographs. On the other hand, the email raises 3 additional questions:

1) The survey was conducted in 2008. It is very surprising to read that the results will not be ready until Mar/Arp 2010. This is very unusual as the normal time to complete a survey of this size is about 3 to 6 month, or at most 1 year. If this data is still not ready, then what data has Mr Mah been using to make policy? The HDB website shows that the most recent data release is 2003. Was Mr Mah using vintage 2003 data to make policy decisions?

2) It is very strange that HDB has refused to release the questionnaire. This is a basic requirement in all research so that those reading the numbers can understand how the numbers were derived. The Singapore Department of Statistics releases all questionnaires from their surveys. Questionnaires cannot be classified as being Confidential or Secret. They belong in the public domain since to use them to gather information, you have to show them to the public. This is especially so when it is claimed that internet survey was carried out.

3) The 4 point scale is a non-standard method to generate a satisfaction score. The more standard scale is to use a 5 point scale or a 10 point scale. It is unknown why HDB chose to use such an unorthodox scale. A known research problem with such a scale is that it tends to give inflated results. This is because respondents who are indifferent (neither satisfied nor dissatisfied) are not given a choice. When forced the tendency of such indifferent respondents is to give a 3 rating, inflating the results.

Mar/early April is round the corner. I will wait for the monographs to come out and do a more detailed analysis of the findings.

Goh Meng Seng

不要再講創新 要做好基本技術

This is a very interesting news article from Taiwan. The pioneer leader of Taiwan's Industrial Bureau has stated categorically that there is no point of talking about innovation and creativity if the basic technological development is too weak.

This is something that Singapore government needs to think about in pursuing Innovation and Creativity without building a strong foundation in basic technological research base. Our technology policy has to change in order for us to progress into really advanced first world country.

Goh Meng Seng

李家同:不要再講創新 要做好基本技術

* 2010-02-25
* 新聞速報
* 【中央社】



 經濟部工業局今天歡度40周年慶,10任局長中除已經過世的第一任局長韋永寧,以及現任經濟部長施顏祥因到監察院報告無法出席外,包括現任局長杜紫軍在內,總計有 8位工業局長到場,共同為工業局40歲生日慶生。



 工業局第 3任局長徐國安說,「今天非常高興回到娘家」,工業局成立目的就是要發展工業,但不是管理機構,目的就是要提供產業界良好投資環境、興利除弊,讓產業在台灣發展而且茁壯。

 不過,整場慶祝會中,李家同發言最讓現場省思。他表示,法國總統沙柯吉每到一個地方就會簽署一個工業產品合約,到中國大陸簽署新台幣 9000億元的合約;而現在連韓國也可以打敗美國奇異 (GE)與日本日立(HITACHI),拿到阿拉伯國家400億美元的核能計畫合約,但台灣呢?




Wednesday, February 24, 2010














Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NSP's response to Budget 2010

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) appreciates the PAP Government efforts to invest in the productivity growth of Singapore, but we are also concerned whether the scheme would really benefit a majority of our Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The local SMEs form the main group that needs a productivity boost, especially the smaller ones. However, most SMEs do not have the financial means to embark on sizeable investments in human resources and technology to improve their productivity. Thus, the higher tax rebates would not solve their woes, as they do not have the required funds in the first place. NSP understands from sources that even the Special Risk-sharing Initiative (SRI) has reduced the repayment period from 5 years to 2 years while interest rate has been raised from 5% to 5.5%. Such adjustment coupled with stringent criteria would have effectively rule out most SMEs from the scheme.

The new ‘Productivity and Innovation Credit’ scheme is apparently rather generic with no particular focus on SMEs. It may ultimately benefit the larger firms which may have less requirement for additional financial incentives. It seems that there is no clear cut lines drawn between foreign and local, big and small enterprises within the stated policy. NSP feels that special emphasis should be given to the local SMEs to help upgrade themselves from mere contract manufacturers and spare parts suppliers to that of MNCs, and from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to that of Original Design Manufacturers (ODM), Private Label Manufacturers (PLM), or Main Brands Owners (MBO).

Countries such as Taiwan and Korea have fared particularly well in grooming their local SMEs into ODMs, PLMs and MBOs. Much concerted efforts had been jointly invested by their Governments and Corporations in funding and technological research facilities. The two Asian tigers overtook Singapore in the 90’s in grooming their local SMEs into higher value industrial players. Recently, China has also evolved quickly into an ODM industrial base. Over the past two decades, Singapore failed to implement any comprehensive plan to help its local SMEs to grow on par with other major Asian players. It is thus a great disappointment that the PAP Government should continue to with its oversight in addressing this malady in its Annual Budget.

The NSP is also concerned that the Budget ignores the need in enhance the social infrastructure and amenities to cope with the increased population of 5 million and growing. The tremendous stress caused by the liberal foreign workers policy, has weakened our social fabric and created considerable tension to our way of life in our overcrowded island. The capacity of our public transport system appears to be saturated. In particular, the MRT needs a major investment in upgrading their signalling system in order to improve on the frequency of trains during peak hours. Adequate and affordable housing poses another big challenge. The present model of City Planning, based on a population size of 3 million, is totally inadequate to accommodate the present population size of 5 million. We need a model that could better integrate housing and the public transportation system.

Apparently, the Government has eventually realized the folly of their over-liberal FT policy. However, the proposed implementation of a higher levy for foreign workers to curb their growth, lacks feasibility in the absence of a corresponding minimum wage policy or an effective quota policy. The increased levy could be translated into even lower wages for the foreign workers.

The Budget gives minimum attention to the reality of our aging population. The need to have more conducive facilities for the elderly in all aspects of life, grows with each passing year. The Government ought to develop specific infrastructure such as the “elderly” villages, specific trades and recreational facilities to accommodate and provide for the enlarged senior communities, before the demand for such facilities reaches another tension point.

Last but not least, NSP wishes to remind the PAP government that there are still Singaporeans without a proper roof over their heads and there are genuine cases of poverty that needs to be addressed. There is a need to set up a comprehensive social welfare system to cope with the various needs of the socially and economically disadvantaged groups of people so to help them get off from the poverty trap.

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
National Solidarity Party

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A call for Clarity from Mah Bow Tan and HDB

In the upcoming elections, I have made clear my intention to contest in Tampines GRC. The reason for my doing so is because Minister Mah Bow Tan’s policies have caused great hardship for many Singaporeans. Mr Mah apparently believes that the hardship caused by his policies are “acceptable” for the greater good. At a recent community event in Tampines, Mr Mah said

“There’s no question that our policies are designed for the good of the people. While there may be certain parts of the policies that are not favourable, overall, I think these policies are for the well-being of the people and are good for the country.”

I strongly disagree with Mr Mah. In GE 2006, the PAP had published a political manifeso with the catchy title “Staying Together, Moving Ahead”. PM Lee made a promise to the Singapore people that “no one will be left behind”. Mr Mah’s statement seems to indicate that he does not believe in PM Lee’s vision. To Mr Mah, it is perfectly OK to sacrifice and leave some Singaporeans behind.

In the past 2 months, I have asked Mr Mah repeatedly for a policy debate so that Singaporeans can understand the issues and decide for themselves. I have done this through the mainstream media as well as in various blogs and Internet sites. So far, Mr Mah has pointedly ignored me. I do not understand why this is so. If Mr Mah is correct and has all the facts to defend himself, then there is nothing to fear from an honest and open debate on the policy issues. If the debate can be aired on national television, all Singaporeans would benefit by having a better understanding of the issues.

Instead of engaging me in a direct debate, Mr Mah has chosen to engage me indirectly by instructing the HDB to release data and findings from the HDB Sample Household Survey 2008

When I read the press release dated 18 Feb 2010, I noted three glaring problems with the way in which the analysis was done.

The first problem is found in the paragraph 2:

The HDB resident population, comprising Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents, increased by 2.7% over 5 years to 2.92 million in 2008. This figure made up 96% of the total population in HDB flats (88% were Singapore Citizens and 8% were SPRs), while the remaining 4% were foreigners.

If the underlying population of the survey is 2.92 million, then it would appear that the survey frame is incorrect. This is because in the Yearbook of Statistics 2009 published by the Singapore Department of Statistics, it is stated that the total population of Singapore is 4.84 million. If only 2.92 million are staying in HDB flats, then where would the remaining 1.92 million be staying? It seems inconceivable that the relatively few condominiums, landed properties and worker dormitories in Singapore can house 1.92 million people (39.6% of the population).

If there was something wrong with the survey frame, then the findings from the survey would be invalid. It would almost be too frightening to imagine if this is an indication that Mr Mah has been using the wrong numbers to make policy.

The second problem is found in paragraph 3

The average household income from work had also risen from $4,238 in 2003 to $5,680 in 2008, reflecting the growing affluence of HDB households.

There are two problems here. Using household income instead of individual income is not a good indication at all. The rise in the household income may be the result of Mr. Mah’s HDB policy that pushes up the prices of new flats which in turn, forces young couples to stay with their parents. This will in turn artificially pushes up household income. This is especially obvious when we notice that there is an unusual artificial surge in both median and average household income in 2007 and 2008. Median household income has increased 9.4% and 13.1% in 2007 and 2008 respectively while average household income has increased 10.1% and 12.6% respectively. This is the clear indication that the rapid growth of HDB flat prices during these two critical years have caused such abnormality because as Singaporeans, we do not experience such a high increase in individual income for these two years.

From another perspective, if we are to take household income too seriously, even for the median household income, it would mean that our income would have increase a whopping 38.5% within that 10 years! As for Average Household Income, it would mean that income could have increase a whopping 44.6%! But we are looking at YOUNG COUPLES who have not worked that long in the job market but looking for flats! Have the starting pay for new entrants into the job market very different between 2009 and 1999? Apparently not. Some people are even complaining that their starting pays have even been lower than the 90s due to the influx of Foreign workers!

In fact, my researcher and I were looking through official statistics on MEDIAN INDIVIDUAL INCOME growth as compared to HDB PRICES GROWTH but such time series statistics only starts from 2005 till now. I am sure the PAP government has such statistics from 1999 onwards but why is it holding back such statistics for the last 5 years? Or they could have even use the statistics from 2005 till 2009 to make their justifications! If the PAP government could put up even more detailed statistics of income of Singaporeans who are 30 years and below, it would give a more accurate picture on how the disparity of income vs HDB price growth for the past 10 years!

The second problem here is with the use of average. As a statistical measure of central tendency, the average or mean is known to give inflated values when you have extreme values. Such extreme values are prevalent in income statistics in Singapore given the large income disparity between the rich and the poor.

Even if we are to accept such distorted representation, the more normal approach is therefore to use median rather than average. An illustration of how average gives inflated income statistics can be found in the paper published by the Singapore Department of Statistics. The paper is titled Key Income Trends, 2009. In Table 1, we have a comparison between median household income and average household income. I have extracted the numbers from the table and present them here:

This table shows that if we use average, the household income is inflated by 35% to 45%. The reason for this is the small number of households who have very high income. To my knowledge, the Singapore Department of Statistics uses median household income in all of their papers and publications. It is unknown why HDB would want to use the inflated average household income in their policy making. If Mr Mah were to use median household income, maybe he will understand why so many Singaporeans are saying HDB flats are not affordable.

Intriguingly, the widening percentage differences between the median and average household income actually reflects a serious problem here….the widening of income inequality! It actually shows that income inequality has widen about 15% or more for the past 10 years in terms of household income!

The final problem is found in paragraph 5.

96.4% of all HDB households surveyed said they were satisfied with their flats, while 95.1% were satisfied with their neighbourhood.

This finding seems to be very strange as it would suggest that almost everyone was happy with their HDB flat. If that is true, then HDB should not be receiving any complaints and we should only be seeing only happy people in their HDB flats. The truth on the ground seems to be very different. The majority of us living in the HDB heartlands, do not seem to be seeing universal joy and happiness. I do not understand this finding and will be writing in to ask HDB for the survey form and the methodology with which they used. I will post what I learn when HDB replies to me.

The electoral battle in Tampines will be a referendum on Mr Mah’s policies. I urge the voters of Tampines to stand with me and send a strong message to the PAP that policy failures like those committed by Mr Mah cannot and will not be tolerated. If we continue to keep quiet, then the policy failures will continue and Singaporeans will continue to suffer.

When reading Tan Kin Lian’s blog, I came across the passage below. It was written by Niemoller, a German who lived during the rise of Nazism. Many Germans were against Nazism but were reluctant to speak up. While we are not living in Nazi Germany, the underlying message tells of what will happen if we continue to keep quiet.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Goh Meng Seng

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Role of Opposition - Putting Spurs into PAP's thick hides

Firstly, I would like to wish all my readers and Singaporeans at large a very Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year ahead.

Recently I have given an exclusive interview as the Secretary General of NSP to TOC. I have talked about the vision of Singapore's Political development for the next decade or so, especially during the Post-LKY era.

Recently someone asked me about what have I done for the voters of Tampines and what is my game plan for winning the Tampines battle in time to come. I have responded about the need to take a bigger role than just Tampines itself.

In both instances, I have touched on the uncharted waters that I am sailing through; a path that has never been taken before by any opposition parties.

I have put forward a totally REVAMPED strategy which was loosely used in opposition parties in the past. A Minister-Policy-Specific strategy. There are a few dimensions to this strategy and motivations of using such strategy. We have long heard about how PAP is not held accountable to their policy or management failures. Applying such policy will address the need of extracting accountability from the ruling party.

Secondly, it will make the PAP and its ministers work harder to review some of the absurdity in their policies and do it right. Last but not least, it will raise the standards of political engagement from personality attacks to one that is geared towards open, matured and rational policy debates to work for the betterment of Singaporeans.

All in all, I would say that the whole idea of being opposition members, to lend MM Lee's famous words, is to PUT THE SPURS DEEPER into PAP's HIDES, to make them worker harder and faster for the people's interests.

Many people are anxious about having opposition parties to win more seats but have little idea about what that actually means. Winning seats is just a means to an end. The fundamental basis of power, is the people, for the people, by the people.

Many people always demand opposition parties to come up with "solutions". But one should know that policy solutions need rigorously examination. While we could give a generation direction, policy specifics need to be examined very closely with data analysis. Opposition parties do not possess the necessary data sets to do such work, neither do they have a whole army of civil servants and think tank employed by the government to do the necessary policy research. Policy ideas could be mentioned but whether these ideas are feasible or not would need much in depth research by civil servants and think tank who are equipped with the necessary tools and data sets.

The role of the opposition, thus, should not be entrenched in providing all nitty gritty specific solutions but rather, to act as an agent that keep the government in checks with good articulation of the flaws and ills of the policies put up by the ruling party. Opposition's fundamental role is to use the competitive mechanism provided by the electoral system as a leverage to extract a better deal for the citizens.

My vision for Singapore's political sphere for the next decade is for it to develop into a multi-party proportional representative system. The citizens will be provided with the opportunity to make INFORMED CHOICES by open, matured public political discourses and debates. The political system is more about policy specific debates rather than personalities. A healthy and fair competitive environment for all political players to express their ideas and ideals.

Opposition parties should not conduct themselves in such a "quiet" way. The media should make sure that it provides a balanced treatment and exposures for opposition parties.

Many people asked about "what have you done for the voters". Most people think that only the incumbents could "do something" for the voters by writing letters for them, meet them to talk about their woes, run their town councils and such. But we must always remember that the FIRST PRIMARY ROLE of a MP is to debate policies in parliament, making sure that such policies are in the best interests of the people.

I believe that opposition members who are yet to be voted into parliament have a role to play in "doing things for the voters". I have experimented it with the announcement of my intended contest in Tampines and providing my views on what went wrong with our HDB policies. Campaigning it on the grounds to explain the problems that Mah Bow Tan's HDB policies will bring to our younger and future generations.

All such actions have put SPURS into PAP's thick hides. Within a short span of a few months, HDB has done a few somersault U Turns on its policies. One of the most dramatic U turns come from the fact that they are planning to build more rental flats after drastically reducing the numbers for last few years, even when MM Lee has openly expressed objection to have rental flats for Singaporeans.

This is just a little "out-of-the-box" experimental political engagement that I have embarked on. It has proven its effectiveness in making the ruling party to do it right for Singaporeans.

This is the kind of leverage that the competitive elements provided by the electoral mechanism could give us. Opposition members should walk out of their old conservative ways of conducting political engagement and start to utilize such leverage to try and get the better deals for our people.

Walking or working the ground is no longer about knocking the doors and saying Hi and Bye. It could and should be more than that. We should be talking about politics and policies to our citizens, making comments on complex issues in the simplest terms as possible. Issues that are close to the hearts and minds of the citizens.

To win the seats, you have to win the confidence of the voters that you can and will be an EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION MP in parliament who will always safe guard the interests of the people.

Running a Town Council is important but just a distraction that PAP wants to put into opposition and voters' minds. To run a Town Council properly, we will need to employ professional Building and Estate managers. You simply cannot expect a doctor or a lawyer to run the Town Council all by themselves. Their more important primary role is to voice the concerns of the people in parliament to keep the ruling party in check.

Utilizing the Minister-Policy-Specific strategy will be a good way in trying to refocus the voters' minds to the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of voting for their MPs. When they are considering whether to vote for opposition candidates, their primarily concern should be whether these candidates could help to safe guard their overall interests in parliament. Whether they have the ability and capacity to put up good policy debates in parliament.

Of course, fundamentally, whether they could really "PUT THE SPURS DEEPER INTO THE RULING PARTY'S HIDES" to make them work harder and better safe guard their interests.

Goh Meng Seng

Ground Feedbaks & Politics

The following is my reply to a forummer from Sammyboy Forum about the ground feedbacks and my thoughts in this lonely path of opposition politics:

Originally Posted by scroobal View Post
If possible without giving the game away and within your party guidelines, is it possible to pen a few lines in a new thread on feedback and comments received during your walkabouts on Sundays as well as from your visits to coffeeshops. Also what your thoughts are seeing people,places as well as their condition. Also your thoughts on this journey.

It will good for readers to share that journey and to find out what the common man on the ground feels. As you know, this is country that does not have a newspaper and we are trying to know more.

It is ok. Feedback and comments received are vital for the government.

The most common complain is still the influx of foreign workers. Even those aunties who work in coffeeshops, normally indifferent to politics, are voicing their discontentment against this influx of foreign workers who are competing against their jobs, suppressing their wages. Many jobless people are also blaming the foreign workers for displacing them. The ANGER from the ground is REAL.

The Malay ground is shifting. Never before have I met YOUNG MALAY PROFESSIONALS willing to approach us to talk about the problems their community faced in the past. But this time round, they took their own initiative to do that, although in a more private way. FT policy and Housing woes are two main issues that are affecting their community adversely. Young Malay couples are finding it difficult to buy any HDB flats and the frustration is turning into anger.

I have never felt so close to the Malay community as they are more forthcoming, willing to listen and support us after we reason it out how Mah BT's HDB policy is going to affect the younger and future generations. They would even willing to offer information about how some of their relatives who need to have a few families living in one single flat. And they are pretty aware about some of their fellow Malays have become homeless campers as well. (Yeah, I know after PAP read this one, they will go into knee jerk action to talk and provide goodies to the Malay community. It will be the leverage effect....)

Although there are a great amount of anger on the ground, generally speaking Singaporeans are still rational in choosing who they will support. Contrary to PAP's worries about "protest votes", I feel that Singaporeans are more matured, rational and choosy when it comes to voting. The fact that we need to do a bit of sales talk and explanation on why Mah BT and HDB policy have to go before they are convinced in supporting us (as in buying our papers as a show of support) is a sign of discretion and rational assessment process. Especially so for our fellow Malay brothers and sisters. It has never been easy to sell our papers to them or getting their endorsement in the past. But this time round, they are willing to give us a chance.

There are of course some skeptics as well as the die hard PAP supporters. The skeptics will ask sharp and analytical questions. It would be a challenge to win them over with a strong foundation of policy and economic knowledge but not impossible at all. Even if they are not totally convinced, but if you show the ability to engage meaningfully on the issues raised, they will still support you in the end. This is a time consuming process. As for the die hard PAP supporters, surprisingly they lack depth in their reasoning. Purely shortsighted views as well as the rhetoric of past success of PAP. Normally I will leave them alone.

I feel that if there is going to be a break through, the main thrust will come from a big swing in the Malay community support. Especially from the young and educated Malay couples and professionals. They are more independent in their assessment of things and views. The middle ground is also shifting subtly. The two key issues are still FT policy and HDB policy.

Interesting enough, even the elderly ones are showing discontent when they are not affected by FT and HDB policies directly. This has to do with rising healthcare cost and some other factors.

Generally speaking, there is a certain percentage of people who will choose to support only certain opposition parties. They will make sure we are from the category of opposition parties before they show their support.

When I go around, I actually feel a bit sad about the whole thing. While the present situation on the ground is naturally an "advantage" for opposition parties, but I think there are too much anger and negativity among the usually silent majority. A nation totally neglected of the people's welfare. A people who are basically pushed to the corners by the ruling party's inconsiderate policies. It is even more important for us, as opposition members, to use our leverage to extract a better deal from PAP government for our people.

A candidate who only thinks about how to win the elections may not win at all in the end. This is because the head and mind are totally misplaced and misunderstood the fundamental basis of power. One could only win if and only if his head and mind are put on how to extract a better deal for the people from this ultra-capitalist ruling party. Many conservative opposition members always like to "keep the cards close to their hearts" so that PAP will not know about what issues they will raise to try to win votes. To me, this can no longer work for the new generation of voters. They want to see how opposition members work for them.... not literally in writing letters and doing charity work for the needy and poor. But in terms of how they could articulate and putting the spurs deeper into the ruling party's hides to make them work harder.

Of course, revealing the "cards" early would mean PAP will have time to react or even find ways to counter argue against us. So be it. If they reacted as in the ways of Mah BT's HDB to right the wrongs of their policies, we would have fulfilled our role as an effective opposition...i.e. providing the effective checks and balances to the ruling party. If by doing so, will not make us win enough votes to get into parliament, so be it. We have done our part and play our role. In time to come, we will just fade away politically.

Of course, if our supporters are motivated enough to help us spread our message through their virtual as well as real life networks, it may just help us better. If not, then it is our failure of leadership to motivate them to become our more proactive supporters as in campaigners. Although we are working against a PAP controlled environment, especially the main stream media, there are ways to win this war if our supporters are motivated campaigners. (BTW, the Chinese Zaobao has just refused to publish our rebuttal to some unreasonable slant against us, accusing us to be "opportunists")

This is the way I am going to conduct politics from now on. Totally different from the traditional conservative ways. When the time is up, I will just follow my higher calling some day.

Goh Meng Seng
Edit/Delete Message

Friday, February 12, 2010









新年快乐 年年有余
风调雨顺 国泰民安




● 陈汉豹









Wednesday, February 10, 2010




前两周,当地一份中文报章报道 (Lianhe Wanbao),一名新加坡少妇在地铁列车内,向女儿哭诉丈夫搞上中国女人,开口骂了一句「中国贱女人」。在一旁的一名中国妇女听在耳里,以为少妇在辱骂她,结果两人展开了半小时的骂战。


网站的报道吸引了不少评论,多对中国妇女的行为感到不满,你一言我一语指出中国人言行举止丑陋。不过,懂得中文的读者看完原文后,就发现网站有断章取义之 嫌。在报章的小标题《狮城妇辱骂人引公愤》底下,其实描述了后续的发展。原来少妇辱骂人引起公愤,几名乘客看不过眼,认为是少妇无理取闹骂人,跟着中国妇 女和少妇下车,要帮前者讨回公道。







去年,一名持永久居民身份的中国女子报名参加新中国60周年国庆阅兵式,并在中央电视台的访谈中亮出了新加坡永久居民的蓝色身份证,并表示「报效祖国是我最大的心愿」 。在移民课题显得非常棘手的时期里,女民兵这一句在平时听来再平常不过的话,却触动了许多新加坡网民的敏感神经,在当地引起不小的争议,有人斥责她的做法,也有人认为她只是永久居民,并非公民,没有必要对此大惊小怪。




去年9月,新加坡统计局公布的报告显示,新加坡人口截至6月底逼近500万人,而新加坡公民总数为320万人,占 64%。换句话说,新加坡人口中,超过三分之一是外国人。在只有约700平方公里的弹丸之地,几乎每个角落都可看到外国人的身影。至于其中有多少来自中国和其它地方,政府并没有公布确切数据。










学者诺拉博士也是维护外来劳工权益的非政府TWC2执行委员。她指出,新加坡人对大量外来人口的涌入的不满久有所闻,但政府为了经济发展一味引进外国人口, 不仅没有很妥善地照顾到外籍劳工的利益,也似乎没有考虑到所可能引发的社会问题。她认为,目前政府在面对就业以及社会矛盾的问题上,仍欠缺更有效的解决方 案。

为了解决本地人和外来移民的融入问题,政府开始举办更多交流活动,并拨款让新移民免费上英文课。此外,由于发现外来移民有群 居的现象,因此也正考虑为公共住屋区制定新移民配额,为新移民和国民制造更多接触的平台。另外,政府最近也推出措施帮助低收入工人接受培训,以更好地面对竞争。



Tuesday, February 09, 2010

HDB 101

This is an interesting article by a internet forumer from

By PAPSmear from Sammyboy Forum:

I find that just talking to people I know, even educated people like school principals and what not, they are totally ignorant about the way the HDB system works. Here are some myths and misconceptions. Please add to them.

1) "I bought my HDB flat"/"I own my HDB flat" - No you didn't and no you don't. You are a tenant, the the HDB is the landlord. Its says so in your contract. Than why did you just pay all that money for? What you have actually done is pre-paid your rent 99 years in advance, in one lump sum. That's why you have to borrow from the bank the $300K or whatever it is to move into your flat. So people, you are pre-paying your rent, not buying your flat. Get this concept first, than everything will fall into place.

2) If I don't own it, than how come I can sell my flat for a lot of money? - What you have sold is not your flat. In other words, the four walls, floor, toilet fixtures etc. do not belong to you. You cannot sell something that does not belong to you. What you have sold to someone else is the right to occupy your flat for the balance of the 99 years lease. Lets say that your flat is 15 years old, which means that you have 84 years left on your list. The person "buying" it is willing to pay you x amount of money for the right to occupy your flat for the next 84 years, and he therefore will enjoy the rights priveleges of your flat instead of you. You have in affect, assigned your flat to someone else, with the stipulation that he will take over all responsibility of the flat (like conveyancing fees, upgrade costs, etc.) in addition to paying you the assignment fee aka purchase price. Its similar to subletting. Because the HDB is your landlord, the HDB has to approve all "sales", as the new person taking over your flat is going to be their new tenant.

3) You are using your retirement income and funds to pay for your current living expenses - By enabling you to buy and pay for the monthly mortgage with your CPF, the PAP has in effect inflated the price of the flats, and forced the people into paying the inflated price by jeopardising their retirement for current living expenses. Most retirement advisors will tell you to pay for your cuurent living expenses with after tax dollars and from income that you are currently earning and not thru the use of funds earmarked for your retirement. But if people were to follow this retirement advise, they will find that their after tax dollars cannot buy too much. Hence, the PAP has allowed them to dip into their CPF account, and allowing to buy flats at an inflated price.

4) Than why do so many people use the CPF to "buy" flats? - People do this because they are ignorant and don't understand the concept of retirement funds and the real purpose of it. You can see many retired aunties and uncles working at menial jobs and barely able to make ends meet in the twilight of their lives. This is a time when they should have been enjoying their retirement and not wondering when the next meal will be. If they had not spend all their money from their CPF paying for their flats, would their lives be easier? The second reason why people use their CPF is because the PAP have set the interest rate so low for the CPF accounts that people actually are losing money in their account because the rate of inflation is higher than what they are getting paid. Even if you max out all the avenues in your CPF to get better returns than what the govt. pays you, you will still not be keeping up with inflation. If the PAP pays people 8%-18% per annum interest on their CPF accounts, much fewer people will be enticed to withdraw funds for the purposes of acquiring a HDB flat. Why do I mention 8%-18%, well this is what GIC, Temasek, and other GLCs ostensibly earn when they borrow money from CPF for their own investment, money that is actually yours. Consequently, people are forced into dipping into their CPF for HDB flats. It is important people understand this PAP tactic.

4)Well, I can sell my flat when I am old and retire on the money that I get - Yes, you could do that. But this is not the 70s and 80s anymore. The days of buying a $70,000 flat and selling it 25 years later for $400K are gone. There are many cases now of people losing money on their flats. And if you sell it, where would you live? Would you rent for the remaining years of your live? Would you downsize and buy a smaller and cheaper flat? Nowadays, its not unusual to purchase a $400K flat and still have to renovate it. If your flat ends up costing you $500K after reno and what not, how much do you have to sell it for 25 years later to make enough money to retire comfortably on? $1 million? The market for this price is iffy. And if you stay in the same flat for a long time, lets say 50 years or more, your flat will actually start to decline in value as the maturation of the leasehold period approaches. If you sell your flat at the highest point of its value, lets say in 10-20 years, where will you live? You will still need buy another flat at the new higher price to live in for the remaining 30 years of your life.

5) Is what I pay for this flat really all I pay? - The simple answer is no. If you pay x amount for the flat, you have to factor in the following:-
- Opportunity costs of foregone returns from your CPF that you have used on the flat.
- Mandatory HDB money making schemes like upgrades that will add to the capital cost of your flat. In every country in the world, if the building has deteriorated to the degree that upgrades are needed, its the landlord that bares the burden. In uniquely SIngapore, the tenants pay for it.
- Conservancy charges, that keep going up and not down.
- Possible forced relocation to another flat in a new estate because your block has now be taken over by the HDB for demolition/rental to FTs, etc. Forced relocation means you have to now pay additional money for the new flat they want you to move to, hence increasing your capital costs.

6) The long term consequence is a very expensive housing costs - If you look at many European and Asian countries like Japan, you will find that the same property stays in the same family for generations. Just imagine if a person owning a freehold property in another country can pass his property on to his son, and than the son pases it on his grandson, etc. over 3 generations. By the end of the 3rd generation, the property could be worth a lot of money. In the same scenario in S'pore, the property is worth nothing.

So, what is the solution? The main gist of the solution is to minimize your exposure to the HDB. Some solutions I can think of:
- Create 2 family households in a flat rather than one household. Kongsi with your siblings or parents and live in one flat.
- Rent from the HDB instead of "buying"
- Live in JB, commute to S'pore, after all 300K Malaysians do that every day.

The whole game is set up for the HDB/PAP to win. They have set the rules, but this thread is intended to educate the people as to what some of these rules are. It does not mean that you will win the game, but it helps to know what they are.

Monday, February 08, 2010

NSP Press Release on New 13th CEC

National Solidarity Party New 13th Central Executive Council

1.The National Solidarity Party has elected a new Central Executive Council (CEC).

2.The appointments for the 13th CEC are as follows:

President Mr. Sebastian Teo Kway Huang (张培源)
Vice-President Mr. Christopher Neo (梁廷玮)
Secretary General Mr. Goh Meng Seng (吴明盛)
Assistant Secretary General Mr. Fong Chin Leong (冯展良)
Treasurer Mr. Steve Chia Kiah Hong (谢镜丰)
Assistant Treasurer Mr. Yip Yew Weng (叶耀荣)
Organising Secretary Mr. Ivan Yeo (杨忠文)
Assistant Organising Secretary Mr. William Tan (陈炳瑞)
Webmaster Mr. Elvin Ong (翁明顺)
Council Member Mr. Tan Chee Kien (陈志坚)
Council Member Mr. Yadzeth Bin Hairis (雅释)
Council Member Mr. Raymond Chua Kee Ann (蔡启安)
Council Member Mr. Ong Hock Siong (王福祥)
Council Member Mr. Cheo Chye Chen (蒋才正)
Council Member Mr. Ken Sunn (孙祥凯)
Council Member Ms. Lee Wai Leng (李蕙玲)
Council Member Mr. Abdul Rasheed (阿都拉昔)

3.In preparation for the next General Elections, the 13th Council has decided to appoint the following members to be the Election Campaign Manager and Chairman of the newly created area branches:

GE Campaign Manager Mr. Tan Chee Kien (陈志坚)
Chairman of North East Branch Mr. Goh Meng Seng (吴明盛)
Chairman of Central South Branch Mr. Ken Sun (孙祥凯)
Chairman of South West Branch Mr. Christopher Neo (梁廷玮)

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
National Solidarity Party

Friday, February 05, 2010

HDB Homeless Policy

Recently,much has been said about my intention to contest in Tampines GRC. As stated in my comments to the mainstream media, I do not have anything personally against Mr Mah Bow Tan. I have the greatest respect for him. He is one of the most senior Cabinet Ministers in Singapore. He has won 3 general elections and is on the fast track to become Deputy Prime Minister. When PM Lee retires, Mr Mah is a leading contender to become the next Prime Minister of Singapore.

Mr Mah’s high and mighty status does not however mean that he is always right and that ordinary citizens should not speak up when they see him pursuing polices which have caused great hardship to many Singaporeans. Mr Mah’s first policy failure is that he built an insufficient number of HDB flats to meet the needs of Singapore’s population. From 2003 to 2008, the total population of Singapore increased by 17.6%. The number of HDB flats increased by only 1.2%.

The shortage of HDB flats has caused a destructive boom-bust housing bubble to be formed. The prices of resale HDB flats have skyrocketed beyond the means of many Singaporeans. New “subsidised” flats from the HDB have an over subscription rate of 5 to 10 times. If you succeed in getting a flat, you have to wait 3 years or more before you are able to get your flat.

The huge demand for HDB flats is largely due to the increase in population. Over the past 5 years, Singapore’s population has increased tremendously due to the Foreign Talent policy. Given Mr Mah’s senior position in Cabinet, it is uncertain how Mr Mah could have missed this and be “caught off guard”. This is not something that just happen overnight. It has been a steady phenomenon for the past 5 years.
A well documented consequence of the Foreign Talent policy is that it depresses wages in Singapore. Based on CPF data, the number of active CPF members (ie Singaporean Citizens and PR) who earned less than $800/ month increased by 36.8% to 214,448 in 2008.

At current prices, a HDB flat is NOT “affordable” to a family that earns less than S$1,500 a month. The rise in the number of people earning less than $800/mth means that there is a significant rise in the incidence of families that earn less than $1,500 a month and cannot afford a HDB flat.

Such families typically have to rely on renting heavily subsided flats from the HDB. It is here that Mr Mah made his second policy failure. It seems that Mah Bow Tan's HDB does not think it should rent flats to Singaporeans who could no longer afford a decent flat. This is further reiterated by MM Lee recently that PAP's direction is that they do not want to rent flats to Singaporeans as far as possible. In fact, even when people are forced to sleep in the wild, in the parks, along the beaches... etc, PAP has maintained such a strong stand ever. They would rather rent HDB flats to foreign workers than renting them out to Singaporeans. The Online Citizens' article has a special report on this unusual phenomenon happening in Singapore, under the nose of PAP governance.

Statistically, from 2003/2004 to 2008/2009, HDB decreased the number of rental flats by 45.5%. As a result of this hard hearted policy, the waiting time to rent a subsidized flat from HDB has jumped to between 17.5 months and 25 months. Just not so long ago, right after GE2006, HDB has announced the demolition of a few blocks of rental flats in Mr. Low Thia Khiang's Hougang constituency. I also know that HDB is actively trying to get people who are staying in rental flats to get out. It is interesting to know that while HDB is actively reducing the number of rental flats for Singaporeans, they have been actively increasing rental flats for foreign workers here. It really makes me think about whether HDB's priority is to serve Singaporeans' housing needs or rather, the foreigners. This long waiting time for Singaporeans to rent a subsidized flat is in sharp contrast to foreigners who come to Singapore and work in the integrated resorts. These have been offered subsided housing IMMIDIATELY in the prime Toa Payoh district. For more details, please refer to the following article.

Unable to “afford” a flat (because of Mr Mah's HDB policy) and unable to rent a subsidized flat (also because of Mr Mah's HDB policy), the natural outcome of such disadvantaged Singaporean families is to become homeless. Singapore does not publish statistics on the homeless. The official position of the Singapore Government is that there are no homeless people in Singapore. The recent tent shanty which sprouted in Sembawang Park, Changi Beach, East Coast Park, West Coast Park etc shows that this is not true. How many how many people have you seen sleeping in the common areas when you walk through the HDB estates in the small hours of the morning?

Mr Mah’s policy failures have given rise to a small but growing number of homeless Singaporeans. Closing his eyes and pretending that they don’t exist will not make these homeless Singaporeans go away. Given his track record of monumental policy failures, would you want to entrust Singapore’s future to him? Maybe he will just give the same old catch phrase, "I am CAUGHT OFF GUARD" that his HDB policy has resulted in this growing number of homeless people.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, February 04, 2010

NSP's views regarding the ESC's recommendations

NSP's views regarding the ESC's recommendations
Fri, Feb 05, 2010
What is NSP's views regarding the ESC's recommendations?

In general, we appreciate the government’s effort in trying to deal with new economic challenges in the next decade. However we feel that ESC is trying too hard in dissecting economic issues without realizing that the model of economy is tightly linked to the social-cultural- political aspects of the Nation. These “software” of the Nation will mold the mindset of the citizens which in turn will impact on how the economy will develop in reality.

We need a more holistic approach instead of formulating quick fixes for short term gains. The U-Turn on the FT policy is a classic example on how such quick fixes applied in the past may just become irrelevant and worse, creating irreversible damage to our social fabrics.

For a start, we would like to see the government play their role in assuring adequate housing for every Singaporeans. While we take care of foreign workers and students’ housing needs, we should not leave our citizens living in the wild without a roof over their heads. Housing is a basic needs for citizens before they could work on upgrading their skill sets and contribute to the society.

Secondly, if we want our workforce to be more creative and innovative, an atmosphere of creativity, innovation and dynamic democratic vibrancy should be built based on a more open democratic system whereby diverse views are tolerated in schools, work place, civil service and the political sphere.

Which specific areas/aspects/ issues/recommend ations does NSP agree with the ESC? And why?

We have no issues with ESC’s broad direction as presented in their report although there is nothing specifically new. However we wish to highlight specifically the point on strengthening support for low wage workers and dependency on foreign workers which are more of a concern for these few years.

We felt that this is long overdue. Our low wage workers have their salaries depressed by the constant influx of these foreign workers, making their livelihood tougher by the day. While many of these foreign workers enjoy very low rent flats provided by HDB, many of our citizens have to manage life with a mortgage of higher amount. Sometimes, they are even deprived of a roof over their heads while HDB demanded them to wait for 30 months before they could rent a flat from it.

We have been expressing grave concerns about the government’s over-reliance on foreign workers since decade ago at every opportunity. We are finally glad that the PAP government, through the ESC committee, is finally taking heed to deduce this dependency.

On the other hand, which specific areas/aspects/ issues/recommend ations does the NSP disagree with the ESC? And why?

First of all, we are concerned about ESC’s suggestion to “Price energy to reflect real costs and constraints” on the household sectors. We would like to understand more in details and monitor the pricing implementation process to ensure households are not severely burdened.

Singapore’s energy pricing is already on the high side in this region. We should take care of implementing pricing policy that would affect our costing in living as well as doing business.

Secondly, we do not agree to ESC’s recommendation to look into nuclear energy as the alternative energy source. Singapore is too small a place to take the risk of having a nuclear disaster of any sort.

Thirdly, we feel that it is totally inadequate for ESC to focus only on labour productivity. We should be looking at Total Factor Productivity as well, which will include Capital Productivity.

While the government pays lip service in grooming local SMEs, our over reliance on MNCs and GLCs has impeded the growth of our local SMEs. A more relevant study should be done on the economic model of Korea and Taiwan. These governments play an active role in providing funds and facilities for technological research and upgrading their enterprises into Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) instead of mere vendors providing parts and services for MNC plants.

ESC has made bold vision about building Singapore into a Global-Asia City but we feel that Singapore should leverage more on its regional role. What is missing in this ESC report is the strategy of more integration in regional economies, creating an economic hinterland for Singapore. There is no mention about whether Singapore will work actively towards a more comprehensive Free Trade Zone in Southeast Asia or even Southeast Asian Economic Union. We feel that Singapore should start the economic integration with our closest neighbours and expanding to other ASEAN countries in the long run. We need an enlarged consumer base before our Nation could maintain continuous growth for decades ahead.

The focus on innovation and creativity should not be measured solely on dollars and cents spent in research. The cultivation of innovation and creativity needs a whole generation of mindset changed through our educational system as well as political climate. There is no way for a nation to depend solely on foreign researchers for their sustainable economic growth. Our people must be cultivated through their daily lives. Let’s start with our political climate.

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
National Solidarity Party

Monday, February 01, 2010

Leave no man behind? - Homeless Campers, The Inconvenient Truth

Prime Minister Lee has used this phrase "Leave no man behind" in one of his speeches. He has made the promise that no Singaporean will be left behind in the midst of widening of income distribution and widespread retrenchment.

However, the story told by The Online Citizens seems to suggest otherwise.

When are fellow citizens lost their jobs or have drastic income cut due to any reasons, they were totally left in the wilderness, in the parks and beaches. I have the opportunity to join TOC and some activists to visit these "Homeless Campers" and it hurts me to see how our fellow citizens are being ill treated in such a disgusted way.

Due to the absurdity of the HDB housing policy, many of these campers were unable to rent any flats from HDB or that they were asked to wait for 30 months or more. They could no longer afford their HDB flats for one reason or another and were forced out of their flats.

I could not understand why HDB could readily convert two whole blocks of flats into dormitory for foreign workers who are working in the casino resorts but they were unable to rent any flats to these people whom they know are the genuine cases of hardship. This will be one of the many reasons that will keep me going to contest against the Minister of National Development.

Our PAP leaders have repeated prided themselves with the self-made belief that "There is no Homeless in Singapore" but such INCONVENIENT TRUTH revealed by TOC must have hurt their pride so badly that they would rather send their army of civil servants to harass these Homeless Campers instead of offering genuine help!

I would now call upon the ministers of these relevant authorities to search their soul deeply on what they really believe in. Minister Khaw has said it right, they must do the right things instead of just trying to do things right.

I would also make an open plead to the Prime Minister himself, to get these people to work towards his very own vision of "Leave no one behind". It should be done with more respect to human dignity and decency instead of administrative brutality.

Goh Meng Seng

It is about HDB policy, not Mah Bow Tan

From Channel News Asia:

NSP says it intends to contest election on housing issues
By Teo Xuanwei, TODAY | Posted: 31 January 2010 2331 hrs

Photos 1 of 1

HDB flats

SINGAPORE: The National Solidarity Party (NSP) has said it wants to engage in a debate on housing issues with National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

NSP's Secretary General Goh Meng Seng said it intends to contest the General Election in Tampines over Mr Mah's policy decisions and not over personalities.

The 39-year-old businessman said: "As Mr Mah pointed out correctly, it's not about Mr Mah or about me, but his HDB policy, which will affect this, the next and future generations."

The five-member Group Representation Constituency (GRC) of Tampines, which is helmed by Mr Mah, is a potential battleground that several opposition parties are eyeing in the next General Election.

Besides NSP, there are indications that the Workers' Party (WP), Singapore Democratic Party and Reform Party may weigh in as well.

Asked to rate NSP's chances at the elections - it has been unsuccessful in four previous attempts - Mr Goh said matter-of-factly: "It's up to us to convince constituents that Mr Mah's decisions are not good.

"If we fail to do that, we deserve to lose. Nobody owes us anything."

The WP's organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong said no decision has been made as yet whether it will contest Tampines GRC.

- TODAY/ir

From TodayOnline

SINGAPORE - A day after National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan responded to one of the opposition's election strategies - and that is to target him on housing policy issues - the National Solidarity Party has clarified that the fight was over his policy decisions, and not over personalities.

"As Mr Mah pointed out correctly, it's not about Mr Mah or about me, but his HDB policy, which will affect this generation, the next generation and future generations," NSP's newly-elected secretary-general Goh Meng Seng told MediaCorp yesterday.

"It's not because I dislike him. I have nothing against him."

The 39-year-old businessman also said Mr Mah should justify his comments on Saturday that HDB's policies are for the "good of the people".

"As MM Lee said, Mr Mah should fight his own battle. He's a seasoned politician who has fought many electoral battles, and I have high respect for him." he said.

He was referring to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's comments at a housing conference last week, where he said if Mr Mah was unable to defend his housing policy, "he deserves to lose" at the next General Election.

Mr Goh agreed, and said, "Voters have to make an informed choice, so politicians have to defend their policies, especially if they're unpopular. Let people judge for themselves, simple as that.

"If he wants to have a debate, I can do it anytime. It's up to him."

The five-member group representation constituency of Tampines, which is helmed by Mr Mah, is a potential battleground that several opposition parties are eyeing in the next election. Besides the NSP, there are indications that the Workers' Party (WP), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Reform Party (RP) may weigh in as well.

Asked to rate NSP's chances at the elections - it has been unsuccessful in four previous attempts - Mr Goh said matter-of-factly: "It's up to us to convince constituents that Mr Mah's decisions are not good.

"If we fail to do that, we deserve to lose. Nobody owes us anything."

The WP's organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong said no decision has been made as yet whether it will contest Tampines GRC.

The RP said "it is not interested in Tampines at the moment," while SDP could not be reached for comment.