Saturday, January 21, 2017

TOTD: The Parasites of Elitist Cronism

Thought of the Day - The Parasites of Elitist Cronism

GLCs or Government Linked companies used to be the PRIDE of Singaporeans where many Singaporeans would like to work for them. We always thought that being "government linked", they are big and supposed to protect Singapore's and Singaporeans' interests, including those Singaporeans who work for them. And indeed, in the past, these GLCs set the high standards of employment, in terms of pay as well as benefits, in Singapore's labour market.

But now, we suddenly find more and more of these GLCs are actually in suspect of breaching the labour law or good HR and employment practices. Some even bully their lowly educated employees to take advantage of them, by deducting their over time hours consistently without giving any good reasons and making them working excessive overtime hours, much more than the 73 hours over time per month allowed by labour law.

Worse still, these entities play with figures manipulated the pay structure in their employment contract as contrast to their advertised salary. They set extremely low basic pay so that whatever overtime pay you claim would be based on a low pay structure. Furthermore, they will set unreasonable conditions to milk the employees, basically inhumane to take away the "monthly allowance" if the employees take Medical leave or annual leave in the month which were legitimately protected as entitlement under the labour law!

Basically such employment terms are MODERN SLAVERY to the max and it is really unimaginable that all these bad practices are actually coming from our once glorious GLCs!

And now, we have another GLC trying to disguise massive retrenchment as some "sacking of under performers" in the bid to avoid paying retrenchment compensation!

What is wrong with all these GLCs? Well, to me, this is the inevitable result of a government that runs on Ultra-capitalism mindset. The top management will only care about their own fat pay cheque and to meet all KPI (Key Performance Indicators) so that they could get more salary increment to their million dollar pay as well as asking for bigger "performance bonus". But these KPI or "performance" don't really add value to the company nor the economy as a whole. These are all based on exploitative unethical enslaving employment practices rather than real value add to the company.

This is the reality of PAP's entrenched rule of over 50 years. They have lost sight of their moral compass in running the country after all these years and ended up with a bunch of elitist cronies who are turning into parasites of the whole system. Instead of adding real value to the companies, people and country as a whole, they are only interested in feeding on the blood and sweat of the people.

When they screw up a GLC and cannot turn it around, they would just do lelong sale of valuable assets to show unreal "profitability and value", cut cost by cutting jobs to continue justify their big fat pay and eventually sell off the whole company to foreign ownership just to wash off their hands of the inconvenient truth of their failure! Well, never mind if that is an National iconic company!

This is the sad state of affairs in Singaporeans, run by a group of unethical, heartless and soul-less, undeserving and overpaid elitist cronies groomed by PAP's rule!

Goh Meng Seng

Monday, January 16, 2017

TOTD: Back to Fundamental of CPF

Thought of the Day -
Back to Fundamental of CPF

I was talking to a friend over CPF issues recently and it seems that I have some of the more "radical" thought over CPF.

CPF was supposed to be meant for retirement financing but in the end, it becomes some sort of "piggy bank" for PAP as well as Singaporeans for many purposes.

First, PAP allowed you to use CPF to buy properties. Most Singaporeans are happy with such arrangement as they feel that they will be able to own a property in their lifetime. I also used up all my CPF available to buy property but that is because I do not trust PAP with my money. This is another issue for another day.

Then PAP says that you can use your parents' CPF or your own CPF to pay for higher education. On top of that, you can use your CPF to pay for your parents, children, brothers, sisters etc medical fees!

Singaporeans thought that these are all "good arrangement" but the truth is, it will create two/three problems:

1) Over consumption of housing, education and medical care
2) Depleted CPF for your retirement
3) Kicking the can down the road

On top of that, it will create other problem of another dimension:

1) Over reliance on CPF money for anything, everything
2) Weakening of Financial management skills and planning
3) Total lack of saving habits

Most financial planners will tell you that you will need to save a certain percentage of your salaries every month for future retirement. It is normally set at 20% to 25% of your income, depending on your income level.

But due to PAP's conflicting policy needs, it has totally messed up the CPF system and in the end, it resorts to setting some unrealistic arbitrary "minimum sum" which many lower income earners could not meet mainly due to the over consumption of housing. i.e. they were allowed to buy properties which they couldn't afford and shouldn't buy in the first place, if they were to stick to the 25% savings rule for retirement!

The only right way to due with this situation is set the saving rate for CPF at 25% (contribution of employee and employer add together) while banning people from using it for just any other thing, especially for housing and medical fees for other family members!

Employer's CPF contribution should stay at 17% while employees' contribution should be cut from 20% to 8%. This would mean that employees or Singaporeans will have additional 12% of their income in cash. If they need to buy property and use it to pay their mortgage, they can use this additional 12% cash to do so. However, they should not use any CPF money for mortgage payment.

For young people, they should start to learn how to do financial planning and I reiterate this point that basic financial planning concepts and knowledge should be taught in the common school curriculum! They should make it a habit to save for down payment for their first property purchase and plan for their mortgage payment as well. In general, for middle-lower income earners, they should not be using more than 35% or 40% of their income to pay for mortgage. This will prevent them from over-consuming housing and it will keep property prices in check.

If they intend to start their own little business, they could save up these extra 12% of their income for future business plan!

Our property prices have been artificially pushed up due to the excess liquidity which PAP allows Singaporeans to use CPF in doing so. This applies to prices of Medical care as well. It is precisely that Singaporeans do not "feel the direct pinch" from using their CPF money to pay for Medical care or housing, they tend to not mind spending excessively on these products and services. Of course, HDB and hospitals alike, are also happy to charge higher prices because "it is affordable" to Singaporeans due to the excess liquidity provided by CPF!

PAP has abused the system in skewing the "affordable" argument. It is not affordable when Singaporeans are paying more than 35% or 40% of their salary for a 30 year mortgage. That is totally rubbish argument of affordability because if you purchase your property at the age of 30, by 60 years old, you will have very little left in your CPF account for retirement!

The proper way of inducing better financial management by Singaporeans is to make them manage their finances according to the fixed CPF retirement saving rate (which could be adjusted according to income level) so that they would make better rational choice in their spending in housing, education as well as medical care.

This may sound "radical" to many unthinking Singaporeans and they may just jump up and down denouncing such plan but this is the only right thing to do in the face of ageing population.

Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, January 15, 2017

TOTD: Terrex the Jialat Ministers

Thought of the Day -Terrex the Jialat Ministers

I believe many people may be wow or fooled by Defence Minister Ng's exclamation that it is "illegal" for HK to impound our Terrex by the argument of "sovereign rights" over these war vehicles but anyone with that bit of common sense will see through the fallacy of such naive and illogical argument.

First of all, HK Customs didn't even know who own these military vehicles when it first seized them. They were acting on their own law that any shipping companies which are doing transshipment should follow, regardless whether these are sovereign assets or not. Thus, there is no illegality in HK Customs' action but ironically, the one which has breached HK law is SAF and the shipping company, where both failed to make declarations and apply for proper permits.

Our Defence Minister has aggravated the situation by making such unfounded accusation. Instead of lowering the tension, he has instead heightened it! Imagine if you were the Chinese government or HK authorities, instead of having Singapore admitting that they have done wrong, you are being accused of acting illegally! How would you feel? Will you return the Terrex? It is no wonder that such irresponsible and untactful speech by our Defence Minister drew sharp retort and warning from China by saying, please watch what you are saying! Basically, the actual diplomatic message behind is, please stop talking cock!

So I guess our Defence Minister is not interested in getting back these Terrex at all but his only aim is to justify that he and his Ministry are not in the wrong!

If our Defence Minister is really interested in getting back the Terrex or at the very least, want to diffuse the tension, he should have put it in a more a tactful way.... let me teach this undeserving overpaid Minister how to talk skillfully....

"I believe it is a great misunderstanding between us and HK that resulted in the seizure of these military assets. There is a gross oversight on our part in working according to HK law but I believe we have sovereign ownership of these military assets, unlike any other cases of military transshipment. I hope that both sides could resolve these issues amicably...."

The above speech would convey the same message of sovereign rights but at the same time, give enough space for both sides to work out a resolution.

The second point is that having sovereign rights over these assets doesn't give you immunity from not abiding local law. For example, as Alex Au had agreed with me, if a country tried to send massive military weapons to a terrorist organization to carry out a war against another sovereign country, do you think your claim of sovereign ownership will work? This is a real life situation whereby the Americans or Saudi or other countries are sending arms to those terrorist groups in Syria!

The third point is, apparently this is more of a diplomatic issue rather than just a legal issue. But our undeserving overpaid Foreign Minister has instead tried to play it down by shifting the focus to legal issues! This will further agitate China and in the end, the problems may not be contained within this Terrex issue but may just escalate into some other issues later on. Please bear in mind that Singapore has over $100 billion investment in China!

It is apparent that China is not satisfied with our Minister's assurance of adherence to One China policy. However we cannot succumb to its demand of cutting all our ties with Taiwan. This will need, first, a show of commitment more than just reciting the mere mantra of One China policy. We need to add to that although we have military training in Taiwan but this is not a support of Taiwan's Independence movement. This is purely a move to meet our own military training needs. At no time will we support any Taiwanese attempt to declare independence from China, neither in diplomatic nor military terms. We are all for a peaceful progressive development of One China diplomacy which we have contributed in the past and will continue to support in the future.

By putting up such assurance and reminding China that we have been working and contributing towards the One China policy will in fact, subtly enhance our position that we need to maintain ties with Taiwan in order to continue to contribute towards this role.

Both our Defence and Foreign Ministers have failed badly, epic failure in fact, in handling this Terrex diplomatic crisis. Of course, the biggest culprit is our PM Lee who has ignored all well meaning warning from everyone including opposition of his dangerous diplomatic stunts against China.

While Singaporeans should stand up against big countries like China or US if they assert unreasonable demands, but we must also realize that all these could have been dissolved or avoided totally if we have more competent Ministers instead of these current undeserving and overpaid Ministers.

Goh Meng Seng

Supplementary input from a FB friend:


1) Ship manifest does not reflect armoured vehicles exist on ship. It is the same as smuggling, undeclared goods.

2) Military goods must have special permit to transit. Plus standard Export Control declaration, as required by international shipping law. Since there are no documents, means special permit not done. Export Control declaration not done.

Terrex armoured vehicle is being smuggled on the ship. Breaking Taiwan law, Sinkaland law, China law, HK law and international shipping law.

Could any white supporters please tell me which country would consider smuggling armoured vehicles without documents as legal ???

Friday, January 06, 2017

TOTD: The Misguided Education System

Thought of the Day - The Misguided Education System

I could really empathize with Aqil's family in not getting a place for his son in the nearby school.

When I was young, I face similar problem of not able to get a place in the primary schools in Toa Payoh basically due to the Two is Enough policy. As the 8th child of the family, I was systemically discriminated by the various institutions, including the schools.

My parents were worried that their young son could not get education and will end up as road sweeper one day. After the neighborhood schools have rejected my application, even though my kindergarten result (not PAP kindergarten!) was above average, my parents have to go all the way to upper paya lebar road Elling North Primary, to enroll me. Students at my age had already started school but I was still knocking door.

This school was the Primary School which brothers and sisters studied while we were still living in Tai Seng almost 7 years ago.

I was lucky that the Principal Mrs Chiang had agreed to accept my application. Though this was just a village school with limited resources and hardly a good reputation but quite a lot of "Sam Seng" or gangsters, I am extremely grateful to my Principal for accepting me despite the fact that the classes were full. This is despite of the fact that I needed to travel by bus to and fro for 45 min each on my own at the age of 7.

An education is an important start for any child in his or her long life journey. To deprive a child the BASIC education is just like taking away his future. Even more so for those with special needs.

I won't be what I am, going through the SAP school and graduating with an Honours degree if it was not for the grace of my Primary School principal, Mrs Chiang.

Thus whenever I see schools rejecting students for whatever reasons, forcing them to be out of education, I felt extremely sad and angry. Especially for those schools which reject or getting rid of students for fear of affecting their KPI, I just find it totally unacceptable. Those principals and teachers have basically lost sight of what education is all about... It is not about KPI nor plainly following rules. It is about helping to build someone's life.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

TOTD: Political Illiteracy

Thought of the Day - Political illiteracy

I had a nice chat with an alumni of my Alma Mater today over lunch.

We talked about almost everything under the sun but eventually, the topic comes back to Singapore politics.

He told me that many of the Singaporeans he came into contact with are basically politically ignorant. He gave me an example that two of his close associates did not think that it is wrong that PA or Town Council under PAP's control refusal to let opposition party use the facilities is wrong. The reasoning given was that these "belong" to PAP and it is purely politics that PAP should not allow opposition parties to use these facilities.

But when they were corrected that these facilities were built using taxpayers' money and do not belong to PAP, they raised doubts about it!

Such political ignorance is really deep rooted all thanks to PAP's deliberate effort in blurring the lines between itself and PA. Opposition controlled TC is expected to allow PAP to use whatever premises in their town via "grassroot organization" like PA or RC or CCC. But PA has all rights to allow PAP to use its facilities for whatever activities disguised as "grassroot events" while opposition parties were banned from using its facilities by using the excuse of "PA's premises should not be politicized"!

And you may wonder how could well educated Singaporeans who are graduates or diploma holders, actually agree and even support such blatant abuse of tax payers' money for partisan interests!

The conclusion my friend has made, most Singaporeans are not "Politically Educated" and PAP is very happy to maintain such Political illiteracy for Singaporeans. This I will have to agree. Do our schools teach our students on what is Democracy? Rule of Law? Separation of Powers? Judiciary Independence? Freedom of Speech and Expression? Well, only on some "abstract Highfalutin" National Pledge which PAP didn't even believe in nor respect!

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Setup of Labour Task Force

After our initial effort in exposing the discriminatory hiring practice of Certis Cisco in its recruitment effort of Taiwanese to become Auxiliary Police officers in Singapore, Certis Cisco has tried to clarify that it is "paying the same" or "even more" to local Singaporeans.

We are dissatisfied with Certis Cisco's statement because apparently, it did not put up the full picture of its hiring policy in its public statement and it did not include the Free Lodging which it is providing to the Taiwanese employees. In addition, what Certis Cisco had said, contradicted the hiring advertisement and reports posted in Taiwanese media. According to the recruitment advertisement, it has specifically said that the BASIC salary is NT60,000 which amounts to SGD$2,700 instead of the SGD$2,575 which Certis Cisco has claimed. The recruitment advertisement has also said that there will be additional Over Time pay for the Taiwanese Auxiliary Police Officers.

However, we have cross-checked with various sources. For local Singapore Auxiliary Police Officers, they are receiving extremely low "BASIC PAY" while the $2575 as stated by Certis Cisco is actually salary ALREADY included Over Time pay and "Allowances". We were also told that no CPF was paid for these "allowances". These allowances are also subjected to stringent conditions that the Auxiliary Police should not take any Medical Leave during the month else the bonus will not be given to them.

From our various sources, we did not get any information of the "$10,000 bonus" given upon at the end of the contract. We would like to urge current Auxiliary Police Officers to come forward and verify on whether they have received this $10,000 bonus before or is it subjected to some ridiculously stringent terms and conditions.

On top of that, there are more complains of the couple of companies which employ Auxiliary Police Officers by former as well as current employees of their Human Resource policies which we think may possibly contravene our Singapore Labour Law.

PPP is extremely concerned about all these labour issues arising in the hiring and Human Resource management practices. In view of the seriousness of the various issues raised by the public over these companies' hiring practices, PPP has decided to set up a small Labour Task Force to investigate and look into the various labour issues arising from the hiring of Auxiliary Police Officers.

The Task Force will be led by our Organizing Secretary Mr Augustine Lee Zixu. This Task Force will investigate thoroughly the truth of the matters with regards to the hiring practices of these few big security companies which manage and supply Auxiliary Police Officers. It will embark on a fact finding mission and would make formal complains if there is any lapse or breach of the Labour Law by these big security firms.
We hope that former and current Auxiliary Police Officers who have suffered any unfair treatment by their employers would contact us through Private Message, to provide or furnish us with details of their employment terms and conditions as well as their working conditions. We will seek professional Human Resource advice to evaluate and make assessment on the situation. All identities of informers will be kept private and confidential unless they are ready to lodge formal complains.

These leaders of the security industry should lead by example as a role model to implement good HR management system for all other smaller security firms to look up to.

We empathize with the plight of the employees in the security industry and we just want to make sure that none would be exploited in any way by their employers.

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
People's Power Party