Friday, 29 April 2011

Major Leadership failure of the PAP...

Lets ignore the well known incidents of Mas Selamat, Orchard Road floods and Youth Olympics. Lets just say those are clear cut displays of poor leadership and planning. No need to argue about those. 

The major leadership errors in the past 4 years: 

1. Failure to create a clear and powerful vision for the future. You get a sense that the country is drifting like a raft in rough waters. There is no vision in place on how life should be made better for Singaporeans. They tried to paint a "globalised city" as a goal because they flooded this place with foreigners and Singaporeans find it hard to associate that with how their lives will improve. Life actually got worse and there is widespread feeling things are sinking without a clear vision to anchor us. 

2.Failure to do simple things. Simple things like making sure the MRT system is not overcrowded to the point of discomfort became too hard for the PAP govt to do because they privatise SMRT and have to compromise service with profits. Simple things like ensuring enough car parks for certain areas. Basic things like ensuring safety by containing gang activity. For investors here, simple things like not allowing sale of complex toxic financial products and allowing lousy companies to list on our stock exchange...they can't even prevent straightforward fraud like Sunshine Empire and Profitable Plots - too slow to act. Inside the 4 years, our public hospital became overcrowded ran out beds before something was done (send our sick to Malaysia?). 

3. Losing the moral high ground, Leadership that keep hiking their salaries and benefits as a growing segment of the populace struggle due to cost of living increase. Many Singaporeans are now very wary of the side effects of capitalism's greed which has manifested in the form of excessive compensation of executives - this problem was in the spotlight due to the high pay of people who caused the financial crisis. The PAP govt shows itself to be connected to this greed. 

4. Failure to change the political system. Look at the change sweeping across Egypt, Tunesia and other middle east countries. People everywhere want a democratic system and full human rights. Until today, the PAP govt refuse to recognize and sign the Declaration of Human Rights. The continue to have undemocratic laws such as ISA, laws against freedom of assembly and free speech. Young Singaporeans would like to have a democratic society as stated in our pledge. The failure to match the aspirations has resulted in an expiration of the patience of many Singaporeans....just like the people of Egypt and Tunesia. 

5. Failure to manage the income gap. They keep blaming it on GLOBALISATION and did nothing but other govts have the cow-sense to keep income gap low with various measures like minimum wage, social safety nets, proper progressive taxation to redistribute wealth and fair labor laws and policies. The PAP primary focus was GDP growth and kept its policies geared to achieve growth. The approach lack balance and ultimately the people disadvantaged by the income gap will not support the PAP anymore. 

6. Failure to contain the cost of living While it is commonly argued that inflation is a worldwide phenomena, there were many things the PAP did to make it worse. Housing was very much under the PAP govt control with HDB being the biggest supplier of housing in the country. They mismanaged the supply causing a severe price increase that hurt many Singaporeans. 

7. Failure of accountability Whenever problems surface, be it toxic minibonds or Orchard Road flood, the 1st instincts of this PAP govt was to deny responsibility. They repeated this pattern of behavior many times while they collected the highest salaries in the world. This gave Singaporeans the sense that when things go wrong the PAP will blame something else and leave them to solve the problems. We saw this pattern of behavior in the 2 PAP participants at the CNA forum whenever a problem was raised, they either deny there was a problem or blame something else or explain why the govt cannot do more. For the record and for investors here, the HK govt handling of the minibond debacle eventually resulted in all HK investors getting all their money (95%) back - in Singapore the outcome was poorer.

8. Failure to connect and communicate. Key policies have to be explained clearly to the public so that they understand how their interest is served. In the past 4 years the PAP govt has failed to convince people of the benefits of many of their policies and why these policies are good for the ordinary citizens. Why is the foreign influx of workers good for Singaporeans? Why is CPF Life good? Why is the GST hike necessary? It is one thing to implement unpopular but good policies, the rationale is explained clearly to the people. However, the failure to communicate and convince the public in recent years could be because these policies are unbalanced and actually not good for ordinary Singaporeans but seek to favor, placate and retain the rich segment of the populace with low taxes. 

The PAP further compounded its leadership problem in its choice of candidates for the coming elections. The selection of people from the establishment such as the Chief of Army, members of the NTUC and civil service means that what is wrong with the PAP govt will continue to stay wrong. Furthermore, the choice if Tin Pei Ling as a candidate is really hard to fathom and has shattered the myth that the PAP "has better qualified candidates" - a myth that has helped the PAP in the past. Her husband's job as the Private Secretary of the PM does not reassure us that ability take priority over everything else in PAP's selection process. ....We can find able people elsewhere and the PAP has no monopoly on talent. If it does not have the monopoly on talent, then it shou
ld not have monopoly in govt.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Manifesto for a better Singapore

I watched the CNA forum yesterday and saw the opposition and the PAP exchanging views. The performance of some of the opposition participants were understandably poor because of lack of exposure. They are afterall not paid million dollar salaries from the pocket of tax payers to work on public policies. However what made my blood boil was the 2 PAP members. Whenever a problem is brought up they either used some obscure stats rhat they mined for to say the problem does not exists or explain the govt has done enough. Basically, the PAP is not going to change anything to solve the problems we face or improve our lives. According to Thaman and Jpsephine Teo govt is correct, no need to change anything, your problems are not real problems. You have a problem waiting for the PAP to solve, I think you can forget it.

I'm quite shock that after housing rise by moire than 50% Tharman said it is still affordable (based on some statistics he prepared) and better that some other cities in developed country. Thsi si a bogus argument. People in other developed countries don't suffer the same income gap as Singapore and many have to option of staying in suburban areas where the cost of housing is a fraction of that in cities. Can you believe we pay people like him millions to deny our problems when the whole country is suffering from the effects of high housing cost? We are never going to get solutions with this kind of attitude. In fact throughout the discussion, the PAP team appear to have prepared specially selected numbers and stats to deny problems exists when people at the ground know for a fact what they say is not true.

My support goes to Vincent Wijesinghe who argued his points with vigor and integrity.

Many of the issues raised has been thouroughly looked at and discussed in this forum. It is not the lack of solutions but the lack of willingness on the part of the PAP to implement solutions. The PAP has no qualms about passing the buck to ordinary SIngaporeans when it is advantageous to their GLCs and big businesses.

I have compiled a short manifesto (of sorts) based on ideas that are shaped by discussions on this forum:

1. Singapore should have a universal medical care system that leaves nobody out. Other developed such a system in which everyone has easy access to high quality medical care.

2. The Singapore healthcare system is now heading towards a multi-tier system where there is unequal treatment of patients based on ability to pay. Subsidised patients are made to wait longer for specialist treatment vs priivate patients. Millionaires get best care at private hospital while public hospitals cannot find enough doctors have to import foreign doctors (from India and China?) to treat poorer patients. A more equal system is preferred. A single tier system that treats everyone equally such as the system in Canada, France and UK will equalise some of the adverse effects of the income gap - once you're sick, you get equal treatment.

3. Remove means testing. If a proper progressive taxation system is in place, the middle income would have already paid more tax and the high income would have paid high tax they deserve a subsidy as much as anyone else. The govt approach to cutting the progressive tax and then cutting subsidy for the same group of people produces a mismatch between of needs and ability- when the person is doing well, slightly higher marginal tax is no problem but when he is sick, he might lose his earning power and he really need to get some subsidy...this subsidy is eliminated by means testing and the govt went on to cut marginal tax for the same group. This is a mistake on the part of the PAP - it expands the medical worries of the middle class while giving them a tax cut they don't really need.

4. Retain as much resources as possible in public healthcare by restricting the number of private hospitals. Private hospitals maximise profits by treating fewer patients but charging them much higher prices. This shrinks our total healthcare capacity. Also, these private hospital prefer to treat rich foreigners because they are willing to pay higher prices leading to a shrinkage in allocation of resources to Singaporeans.


1. The fundamental purpose and goal of our education system is to educate SINGAPREANS. The govt lose sight of this when it gives out more scholarship to foreigners than Singaporeans to study at our tertiary institutes. They argue that Singaporeans who can't go to local universities are not good enough. This again lose sight of the fundamental purpose of the system - it is not to raise the standard and reputation of our universities but to raise the education levels of Singaporeans. Something is wrong when thousands of Singaporeans are forced to go overseas to get their degree and many get them from credible good raking universities after they were rejected by NUS. The great injustice occurs when a poor person capable of getting a degree is rejected but his parents have no money to send him overseas to get a degree. Such as person understandably will bear a lot of resentment against the govt espeically when he believes he as the ability to get degree.

2. Make pre-school compulsory for all children unless the parents can provide proof the child is exceptional and has to be home schooled. The current system results in thousands of young children having poor start in life because their parents do not send them to pre-school. Making preschool compulsory together with a safety net for children whose parents cannot afford pre-school will go a long way to reduce inequality and promote social mobility.

3. Make teach less learn more a reality. It is more important to inculcate a love of learning than learning itself. The best education system in the world is in Finland where they also have the thinnest texbooks Only first principles are important - the rest can be derived. Facts can be found by the push of a button on the Internet. So we don't need rote-learning anymore.

Income Inequality

1. The high income gap is no longer acceptable anymore in Singapore. It is borne out of a 3rd world wage structure. It is structure represents the exploitation and unfairness in our economic system. Our leaders who support this system pay themselves is reflection of the PAP value system where excessive compenstion has become a way of life for the elites in our society.

2. This income inequality is worsened by regressive taxation such as GST which makes the poor pay taxes. During the recent CNA forum the PAP put forth this argument that the rich pay more GST than poor. But this again a bogus argument. In the past before GST implementation, the poor did not have to be burdened by taxes. Govt revenues were from corporate taxes and income taxes paid for by the richer segments of society. Imposing GST on basic necessities like raw food and medical care, the PAP implemented GST with a maximum hit on the poor. GST widens the tax base and worsen the income gap because tax increases in recent years were used to fund corporate tax cuts and high income tax cuts in the segment of the populace that already enjoys the most pro-business and pro-rich policies in the world. Let me remind you every PAP minister is filthy rich so are the PAP MPs. Our ideal of equality for society destroyed by greed.

3. There is a need to bring in the equalisers and stabilisers to maintain to social compact and cohesion in our society. The unsystematic approach of helping the poor, old, sick and unemployed is outdated and no longer suitable for a society with the highest inequality in the developed world. We need universal healthcare, unemployment insurance, pensions for the low income who will never accumulate enough to ever retire. How can a develop countries accept the sight of 70-75 years working menial jobs? This is shameful for a country that can afford to lose $50B in investments without accountability and pay its leaders millions. We should all hang our heads in shame for supporting such a system.

Immigration Policy

1. The PAP has implemented an extreme immigration policy by opening the floodgates to foreigners. Recently, they moderated the policy by implement a few measures due to the coming elections. However, again in the CNA forum, the PAP participants argue for more immirgrate by citing some statistics that Singapore firms have 20% foreigners and 80% Singaporeans. Then arguing that foreigners create jobs for Singaporeans. If that is the PAP belief, you can be sure the floodgates will be opened again. The flaw in their argument is casuality 20-80% does not prove jobs are created for Singaporeans. On the ground, we know that once foreigners are hired for middle management positions, they will hire more foreigners in the department. This is particular detrimental for older PMETs who are often sacked and replace by younger foreigners. The PAP denial means that these people will continue to suffer on the ground.

2. The PAP immigration policy has cause massive overcrowding. Singapore now is more crowded than Hong Kong measured by people per square kilometers. The PAP underinvested in the public transport and housing while they brought in foreigners in large numbers. This ultimately led to higher prices in everything - from COEs to HDB to condos to rentals. The PAP made our lives worse without a hint of remoirse or apology - the 2 turkeys on TV actually argued they were trying to better our lives doing this. This cognitive gap can only be closed by bringing these people down from their ivory towers - they don't take the bus, they don't have to look for HDB flats, they don't raise families on an income of $3600 a month.

3. The immigration policy has depressed waged of the lower income group. If the influx of foreigners does not bring down wages, why even bother. The availability of cheap labor caused businesses to under invest in productivity causing our productivity growth to fall to the lowest among developed countries. This problem has caused us to be uncompetitive and dependent on cheap labor. The sad end result is a growing under-class of poor whose wages have been depressed.


1. The PAP continue to operate in an unfair unlevel playing field controlling the media, using pork barrel politics of upgrading and GRCs. Can you believe a candidate like Ting Pei Ling is very probably going to get into parliament because she will be "carried" into parliament using the GRC system? They have done this so often bring in weak candidates into parlament using GRC and pork barrel promises of upgrading. This hurts our nation and the people in need of good representation in parliament so that correct beneficial policies can be implemented.

2. If not for the Internet and social media, the PAP would have monopoly over the media. The SPH board consists of former PAP men and pro-PAP elements are planted into every level from journalists like Chua Mui Hoong, Chua Lee Hoong to a very pro-MM editor called Han Fook Kwang to wrote books on the MM to aggrandized his accomplishments as if the man single handedly created the Singapore economy and success ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Singapore post-war generaion workers who formed the backbone of Singapore's economy. This reached absurd levels with publication of the "Hard Truths" book in which we read his outdated views on race, religion, society ....people call it the "Hardly True" book.

4. Draconian rules such as ISA still exists. Peaceful protests are still disallowed. Censorship of the truth still take place. How is this suppose to be acceptable to Gen Y? How to explain to them that Singapore need laws that don't exist in other developed countries? These laws only serve to consolidate the power of the PAP party and thsi power has frequently been used against people trying to bring about positive change to this country.

The PAP likes to dismiss the whole social media and the views of netizens as "noise". There is more logic and rationality on the Internet than they want to give credit for. They want Singaporeans to be absorbing propaganda so that they can control and exploit the people easily using state controlled media. I urge all of you not to fall prey to this. Always think independently and spend time to seek out the truth. Truth is what will drive the nation in the correct direction. Reject what is not true and reject the people spreading it. There is an urgency for leaders of integrity in this very uncertain and unstable world we face. We do not want all those promises, the type of which we heard 4 years ago ondy to deeply regret just months later after the elections to discover what their real intentions. The shock of the last GST increase, minister pay increase, HDB price incease should never be forgotten,...if forgotten will simply repeat.

I'm sure in this posting I miss many things that should be done right for Singapore and many things that have been done wrong. I invite fellow forumers and netizens to add to what I have written above to construct our own manifesto. Things should be done right for Singaporeans from now on.