Thursday, January 28, 2016

Response to PAP's change of political rules

Response to PAP's change of political rules

The Prime Minister has announced a few changes to our political system, basically centered around NCMP scheme, down sizing GRC, increasing number of SMCs and rules regarding the Elected Presidency.

People's Power Party is founded on the principles of political reform based on Separation (and Independence) of Five Powers, namely Legislative, Executive, Judiciary, Selection/appointment and Impeachment Powers.

The Elected Presidency

One important advocacy of our founding beliefs is to entrench and enhance the Elected Presidency so much so that, certain powers or government institutions should fall under the charge of the Presidential Office. We are advocating the institutions of Impeachment powers, Selection/appointment powers to come under the purview of the Elected Presidency. Namely, the Elected President should take charge of the following institutions and functions:

2) Election Department
3) Public Service Commission (PSC)
4) Appointment of judges
5) Ombudsman Commission
6) Equal Opportunity Commission
7) Appointment of key office holders in Temasek Holdings and GIC

On top of that, the President should have the veto powers to block any legislation which he deems detrimental to the nation’s interests. Such veto can only be overturned by subsequent two-third approval of parliamentary votes.

Thus, the reform for the Elected Presidency could be more extensive than what the Prime Minister has proposed.

Although we welcome the proposal of putting the racial balance into consideration for the Elected Presidency, but we object to the proposed increase of power given to the Presidential Advisory Council. The appointment of the members of this Council should not be decided by the ruling party or Cabinet. It should be the sole prerogative of the Elected President to appoint his own Council. Furthermore, the Elected President is elected and empowered by Singaporeans and he should have the full power to make decisions in the interests of the Nation He should be the one who will answer to the Singaporeans who voted him, not the Advisory Council. Thus, the Advisory Council cannot overshadow the powers of the Elected Presidency.

GRC, NCMP and Proportional Representation.

We welcome the announcement of downsizing the GRC. We feel that the correct size for the GRC system should be 3 to 4 seats per GRC.

However, we do not see the necessity of having any SMC nor NCMP if our proposal of Proportional Representation is implemented.

No matter how PAP tries to package it, NCMP has little legitimacy under the current setting. They will always be considered as second class members of parliament or just simply "backdoor MPs".

The advantages of Proportional Representation system coupled with the full GRC system will truly give Singapore's Parliament Plural Voices while prevent the loss of Ministerial caliber members of any political party which would become the ruling party or part of a ruling coalition.

Proportional Representation system guarantees intense contest and competition of ideas and ideals whereby multi-corner fights would not be frown upon or "avoided". It will enhance political competition and consensus building based on plural voice and representation in parliament.

The current system has tremendous flaws. Beside discouraging healthy competition and contests, it also post a danger of instability. If the ruling party lost a GRC, it may risk losing one or two of its good Ministers altogether. This will not provide the kind of political stability and continuity which we need.

The Proportional Representation system also mitigates the problem of the Tyranny of Majority Rule. It would allow individuals or groups with specific focus to contest and chance of getting into parliament to contribute to the plurality of debates. Example, if a group of Nature lovers or Green activists were to be elected into parliament, they will provide a diversity in the debates in various development plans, providing the Green Views instead of subjecting our Nation and future generations to the ills of a monolithic discourse pushed by the ruling party.

Thus, we urge the ruling party to reconsider their plans to change the political landscape to take a serious long term view on the Nation's political stability by adopting a more comprehensive and bold stance of political reform, which is beyond party politics, to ensure that our Nation adopts the best democratic system based on the fundamentals of Separation of 5 Powers.

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
People's Power Party

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

NCMP Saga --- The Backdoor Monkey Tussle

It is quite amusing to watch how the NCMP saga unfolded. Both sides just play politics.

As usual, one side White will play the big bad wolf bully while the blue side play victim card again. It is even more amusing that WP which has rarely moved motion of debates, had done it again just for its own party vested interests and agenda. Well, of course PAP forced it to. Well before you guys accuse me of being biased, can you find any other motion of debate carried out by WP on other more,important issues, like human rights issues or matters which concerns how PAP treated activists or imposed unfair measures on New Media or even shutting down TRS?

Personally I do not see any problem of Lee Lilian declining the NCMP seat. It is her prerogative to do so. I would also not take up NCMP seat because I view it as getting into Parliament via the back door. As far as I know, LTK used to hold the same view as I do. He has put on public record of his stance about NCMP.

So it is just very puzzling to me that LTK actually moves the motion of debate in parliament just to get his other WP candidate Daniel Goh to replace Lee Lilian as NCMP!

Well both LTK and I may not object to other people taking up NCMP seats while we ourselves would view it as a insulting backdoor path into Parliament, but to go the extend of an extra mile to FIGHT for a NCMP seat for another party comrade is totally shocking to me.

It is just like a dog begging for the backdoor to be opened for another dog to get into the main house! Pretty shocking to me for people to actually support such an act in the name of Democracy!

If it is all about Democracy, then we should instead debate about what kinds of political system we should install to enhance the Balance and Separation of Power. How the Election system and Electoral processes should be enhanced. Should we have Proportional Representation? Should we enhance the power of the President by putting Auditor General, Corruption Practice Investigation Bureau (CPIB), the Judiciary Appointment, Public Service Commission Elections Department etc, all under the Presidential Office and limit the terms of Presidency to a maximum of one term?

But instead, we have WP members wasting time in begging and debating on a feature which is invented by PAP as a means of mockery to our Democratic system! I am in total disbelief of such monkey show going on in parliament... well, the Chinese Monkey Year isn't really here yet!

Goh Meng Seng

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Drawing the Lines and Strengthening the Core Values

I had a meeting with a friend and naturally, the friend was concerned about my position on WP and its Town Council saga. This friend wasn't really a WP supporter at all but more concerned about the impact and repercussion my party and I would suffer if I kept my position and openly criticise WP.

I told my friend that I am reading Hitler's book, My Struggle and his argument against parliamentary Democracy is quite challenging to me, someone who have strong belief in Democracy. Hitler argued that politicians in the parliamentary Democracy spent most of their time in trying to appease the mass, instead of doing the right things. The mass, to Hitler, were mostly people who lack the knowledge, wisdom and intelligence. Thus, in the end, Democracy would end up with a bunch of actors trying to play to the gallery of "fools".

While in modern context, most people have decent education and with internet, information flow is fast and swift but the situation isn't that much different from the past. It seems that even when people are equipped with all these, most people are still more emotional than logically Thinking when it comes to politics. This works both ways towards the ruling PAP as well as opposition.

Ultimately, politicians or political players are more interested to play to the gallery and do or say whatever things that appease the voters while keeping mum on things which may be right but would most probably agitate the voters and thus, making them losing votes in the end.

On top of that, I have one baggage of WP. LTK is deemed to be my mentor in my early involvement in politics. The Chinese believe, once a mentor, always a father, (一日为师,终生为父)and I would be seen ungrateful if I attacked him and his party.

It makes me think hard and the story of how the Qing Emperor, Dao Guang (道光) convinced Li Zexu (林则徐) to take up the role as special envoy to end opium trade in China. Dao Guang arrested Lin Zexu's teacher and mentor, who happened to be the Emperor Dao Guang's teacher and mentor as well, for indulging in smoking opium. It was a crime for court official to smoke opium.  The teacher was remorseful and told Lin Zexu that the reason Emperor did this was to show his resolve in stopping the opium trade.

In Chinese, it is termed as "大义灭亲",  placing righteousness above family loyalty.

All in all, what matters are principles and values I hold dearly, whatever else, come and go like the smoke in the wind. I have repeatedly said that I may not trust PAP at all but neither do I trust WP under the current leadership. I may be against PAP but that doesn't mean I am an ally of WP.

This is especially so, by words of LTK (walking his own path as he considered other opposition parties as not partners walking on the same path 道不同不相为谋 ) and actions of WP under his leadership during the last GE, have shown that WP does not consider others as its allies.

Most of the other opposition parties would only choose to keep quiet over many things which they do not agree with WP, for the very fear of losing votes, but I will not.

I do not want to end up like what Hitler has said about the politicians in a parliamentary Democracy, an actor who is only plying for votes instead of speaking up for the right things.

I may lose a lot of votes by doing this in the short term, but I will make this a strong foundation for PPP in the long term. A party that will not compromise on its integrity and role as the guardian of public interests as one of the primarily core values of its political struggle.

PPP believes in the balance and separation of 5 powers but keeping quiet and choosing not to speak up for fear of any repercussion, be it from the ruling party, WP, WP supporters or otherwise, is NOT an option at all. Speaking up with the righteous mind when we see something not right for the country or public interests  being compromised, is the only way to uphold the values of the party.

While some of my own party members are fearful that by making such a stance would make us "look bad" or worse, "lose votes", I would have to convince them that for every vote that we get, we must get it from the right cause, instead by means of cowardice and scheming political acts. If voters do not trust us, then it is only right for them not to vote us.

This may take a long time for us to win any seats, if any at all, but integrity of our belief should not be compromised.

So my clear message to all opposition supporters and voters, please do not expect us to keep quiet if we saw something which doesn't work for Singapore's interests or public interests. We chose to come into politics for that purpose, to safeguard Singapore's public interests and well being, not to be actors of political wayang shows.

And regardless of whether it is the ruling party PAP or WP or anyone else who is seen to be doing things which compromise Singapore's interests, we will speak up without fear nor favour.

In our belief of Balance, Separation of 5 Powers, we need to cultivate people with backbones made of steel in all aspects; i.e. The Legislative, Executive, Judiciary, civil service, newspapers reporters and editors, CPIB, PSC, citizenry and all. And we take upon us to start with speaking up with our backbones straighten and do the right things instead of just playing the right music merely to win votes.

So let the lines be drawn clearly. We will not tolerate anyone, be it from ruling party PAP or WP or even our own party members, to do things that compromise Singapore's public interests and well being.  Those in power, or entrusted with power, no matter how big or limited it is, should be kept in checked, regardless of whether it is White or Blue or otherwise.

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Uneasy Rise of the Mafia Superpower - China

The recent kidnapping of dissidents from Hong Kong by the alleged personnel connected to the Chinese Government or the Communist Party (CCP) is the last straw that breaks the camel back of the silent tolerance of Hong Kongers, after 4 staff and shareholders of the now famous Causeway Bay Bookshop were "disappeared" or "kidnapped" by means of "entrapment" outside of Hong Kong.

Naturally for Hong Kongers, they were more concerned about the breach of the "One Country Two Systems" when the Chinese cross its border to arrest dissidents without any legitimate warrant whatsoever. They are more worried about the impact on their Freedom of Expression and human rights violated by the Chinese authorities, which has promised 50 years of unchanging system for Hong Kong.

But for a Singaporean, a Singapore Politician having my family residing in Hong Kong, it means pretty much more than that.

China, under the current leadership of President Xi, aspired to be a Superpower under the slogan of "China Dream". It is no coincidence that China is going full steam ahead to build quite a number of Aircraft Carriers which would mean a sharp rise in its long term defence budgets and commitments.

The West, in particularly Americans, have openly put forward their worries of the "Chinese Threats", despite repeated "assurance" by the CCP leaders that they will be a peaceful rise of a new power in the East.

A weapon in the hands of the responsible will mean good, but if it ended up in the hands of the Mafia, it would mean disaster in the making. How do you determine whether a country is under a responsible government? It would simply from the actions it have taken in the past and present.

Unfortunately, the Chinese authorities have underestimated the negative impact of such covert operations against five dissidents in Hong Kong. Entrapment of these people within their own border (i.e. Shenzen) may be tolerated but kidnapping them in foreign country, Thailand, is totally an act of gangsterism.

The worse part is to violate an international agreement which it has signed for the peaceful return of Hong Kong sovereignty under One Country Two systems would raise eyebrows. If the Chinese government couldn't even keep simple promise like the Sino-British Declarations and keep to its own agreement of One Country Two Systems and observe the legitimacy of Basic Laws, how could anyone believe the China Communist Party could keep to any other international treaties or be a responsible member of the International community?

CCP is acting like a Mafia, through and through, using such despicable methods which only gangsters will use to deal with their adversaries or dissidents. Could you ever believe the words of a Mafia, or a Mafia government in this case?

Thus, if you look at these events, which may seem to be a "domestic" issue to Hong Kong, you will realize that we are dealing with the uneasy rise of a big and powerful country under the rule of a Mafia party. They will disregard any international treaties signed, lest verbal promise of any sort to anybody. They will disregard other countries sovereignty by doing whatever they like in and out of these countries, covertly. They will disregard all principles of rule of law and they basically don't have any in their land.

And yes, we in Asia, especially a small country like Singapore with massive investment in China, should start get worrying about the rise of this big gangster in Asia.

It would seem to me that the rise of China's military power will indeed spell trouble for Asia if we continued to have a bunch of gangster communists running it. If CCP ever has its dream of building 4 or more aircraft carriers in the next one or two decades materialized, it will sure flex its muscles recklessly in the region, in such an irresponsible way as it has shown in this few cases of abduction of dissidents.

I believe this case will definitely further caution the Taiwanese of this rogue regime and strengthen the perception that the Communists cannot be trusted at all. Taiwanese will be even more wary about reunification with China under such a Mafia rule.

Having said all these, I believe that the decision of abducting dissidents from Hong Kong and Thailand was made by the middle management of the Chinese government. It would be unimaginable to have President Xi to make such stupid decision because the potential international political repercussions will definitely be too great a price to pay for just getting their hands on a couple of unknown dissidents outside its borders.

Xi must understand that the growth of power must be accompanied with the evolution of a responsible government which will be highly regarded by its international peers. Else, it will only spell instability and distrusts of CCP and China for many years to come.

Goh Meng Seng

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Singapore SHOULD NOT loosen those "Property Cooling Measures"

A very Happy New Year to everyone! This is my first political post for the New Year 2016.

Right before 2015 ended, REDAS  (Real Estate Developers Association), in anticipating a slow down in the property market for 2016, has openly urged Singapore government to ease off the "property cooling measures" so that property prices may not dip too far.

PAP government has responded that it is not going to ease the cooling measures any sooner but I guess they do not really understand that these so call "cooling measures" which they have put up are actually "anti-speculation" measures.

They do not seem to understand that these measures should be a PERMANENT feature for Singapore instead of a policy option for manipulating the property market.

REDAS represented the developers as a lobby group and obviously, they are lobbying the government when they are going to lose money. But they did not make any noise when speculation was riff and property market booming and overheating with them, the developers making tons of money!

We have to get the fundamentals right when it comes to housing and land policy for Singapore, especially so when Singapore is just a tiny little red dot with limited land resources.

The "Anti-speculation measures" (what they call or misrepresented as "cooling measures") are the right tools to prevent the following:

1) Turning Singapore into ATM for foreign and local speculators. When a country has limited land, it is obvious that there will be a lot of money to be made by speculating on the property market. Foreigners and local filthy rich people with huge amount of funds will buy up properties to stock and expect it to rise in near future so that they could reap off quick profits from such speculation. The side effect is that property prices and rentals will skyrocket and it would become out of reach of locals as such unhealthy inflationary pressure on the property prices are totally unrealistic and out of sync with the salary levels of local normal Singaporeans who just need a roof over their heads.

2) Lopsided funding to the property market will increase risk to the Financial system. This is especially so when the prices of properties were pushed up due to speculation. The Financial system will become extremely vulnerable if too much funds were channeled into the property market. If there is a crash, the problem of negative assets and insolvency may just collapse our whole Financial system.

3) A crowding out of financial resources, due to overheated property market, from productive commercial and industrial activities may be detrimental to the healthy development of the country's economy. When people think that there is quick money to be made by property speculation, they will divert their resources into property speculation instead of investing in productive economic activities.

4) Speculation in property market as in rapid transactions is unhealthy for the Economy as it does not really produce anything substantial except inflationary pressures for the economy. i.e. It is the same four walls of bricks that went up from 300K to 1 million, without any substantial productive additions to the economy.

5) Suppliers or Developers should be prevented from HOARDING properties so to manipulate property prices. Thus the additional stamp duties imposed on developers if they could not sell the properties within 5 years, is justifiable. This will prevent property prices to be "sticky upwards".

We have only a limited land size and the government's priority is to make sure that land is properly distributed so that every Singaporeans could afford a roof over their heads. The government's priority is NOT to make sure property developers or speculators make money. It is definitely NOT the government's responsibility towards foreign "speculators" disguised as "investors".

Property transactions and speculations may be a quick addition to GDP figures but it basically does not produce anything substantial to the economy except inflation via inducement of asset inflation to rise in rentals.

The two main measures of moderation on the overall debt-salary serving ratio and additional stamp duties are good in curbing speculations by keeping out speculators while making sure people do not over stretch themselves in buying a property they could ill afford to.

However, contrary to REDAS expectation, such measures are basically not enough.

Germany is exceptionally strong in industrial engineering basically because they curb property speculations. They impose more drastic rental and property price controls to prevent people from property speculations. It controls the percentage that the rental or property prices could increase annually.

This not only curb speculations but in fact, prevent too much financial resources being drawn into property speculations. Instead, people are more willing to invest in industrial production and engineering.  This is how Germany grows to be the strongest economy in Europe.

In contrast, Japan used to be a industrial giant but due to excessive speculations in its property market, it just collapsed and didn't manage get back into shape after more than a decade.

Singapore should not use property speculation as a means to boost economic GDP figures. It should learn from the Germans instead, to impose more stringent measures to curb property speculations. If the government's priority is to Singaporeans' affordability to a home for their families, then it is only logical to make sure that increase in property prices should not be more than the increase in the salaries of normal Singaporeans:

The valuation of property prices should be indexed to the salary index of Singaporeans. This is especially so for HDB flats.

Goh Meng Seng