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At age 52 and a Singaporean who grew up during the developing years of Singapore and experiencing the most dramatic changes in our country, I am comforted that we have a good and capable government in PAP.

While the track record of the past 50 years has been nothing short of stellar and exemplary, prices has been paid and casualties incurred.  Then again, that is to be expected, that is no such thing as achieving utopia, all of us live in the real world, choices and decisions have to be made throughout our lives, consequences of those choices and decisions have to be managed as they unfold through time……good or bad, right or wrong, we need to embrace it.

Today, Singapore is at the crossroads, we have a mix of life’s experiences; from the ‘pioneer’ generation that build the foundation for Singapore, they are now our elderly and we need to honor them.  Then there is the ‘privileged’ generation which I belong to that enjoyed a better start in life because our parents, grandparents and our government helped build a strong foundation.  Our generation continued to build on this foundation and took the country to its first world status today.  The next generation which aptly put is the ‘entitled’ generation.  These are my children who are in their mid 20s and up to their mid 30s.  They are the ‘aircon’ generation, the first time they open their eyes in the hospital they felt the cool air of the air conditioning.  The first thing I saw when I was born was the ceiling fan in the hospital.  Why is it that the younger generation feels that their starting point in life should be handed to them on a silver platter; like a BMW, a condominium, branded clothes, etc.  What happened to having a more modest starting point and then building on one’s own success through time.  Recently, I addressed a group of young adults who will be first and second time voters and I shared with them that they only know how to sit back and complain and criticize, do they know how privileged they are to be able to do so.  Look at our neighboring countries, their counterparts are working 2 to 3 jobs with no time to sit down and complain.

I have a friend who said to me that his son cannot live on a salary of S$3,500 per month and gave him a credit card which the son spent another S$3,000 per month.  So I told my friend that you have essentially encouraged your son to live beyond his financial means, now you have to continue to support your son.  I asked my friend all of us started modestly, I remembered when I first graduated and came back to Singapore just after the 1985/1986 recession, my starting salary was only S$1,500/- per month, but it was better than my seniors who started with S$600/- per month during the recession.  All of us survived and we have prospered through the years.  We are able to do so because our government has built a strong economy that gave us jobs, that gave us opportunities to progress up the corporate ladder as more and more MNCs came to Singapore through time.

If I was asked whether I have gone through hardship, I would say compared to my parents and my grandparents, no I didn’t go through hardship.  As a child growing up and listening to the stories told by my grandfather about how he left China to come to Singapore to hopefully find and make a better life.  How he went through the Japanese occupation and how he experienced Singapore when we were cut off from Malaysia.  My father has his own stories to tell of how there was civil unrest on the streets and that schools were so substandard.  How he had to walk 10miles everyday to get to school because public transport was hopeless.  How when dinner time came, all the family had was rice, some bean sprouts and soya sauce to eat.

Today, we live in such an efficient, peaceful, vibrant and plentiful Singapore.  It is so easy to forget what our parents and forefathers went through to bring Singapore to where it is today.  While during my early working career, it was normal to put in 12 hours at the office, especially when one wanted to get ahead, but today, for the younger generation to put in the same hours is unthinkable, why?  Long working hours at work doesn’t even begin to compare to what our parents and forefathers went through to build a life and career, to feed and nurture a family.

Sometimes, when I look at myself in the mirror and ask; am I a perfect husband, am I a perfect father, am I a perfect businessman?  No, I can’t say that because as humans we are flawed.  How then can we ask for perfection from our government, isn’t our government comprised of humans, it is simply not possible and not real?  Yes, PAP has made mistakes and in truth when one makes the decision at that point in time, no one knows how the future will turn out.  In hindsight, all of us have perfect vision, but is life about regrets and always looking backwards?

Singapore is unlike any first world country in the world.  We have a one party rule for all 50 years.  No other party except PAP has played an instrumental part and an integral role in the development of Singapore.  Take the United States for example, the Democrats and the Republicans have been running the country for over 200 years.  From day one, Senate and Congress has a mix of both Democrats and Republicans running the country.  Yes, the President will change from time to time from Democrat to Republican, back and forth.  What is important to understand is that two strong parties, both working together manage and rule the United States of America through time.

Singapore is unlike many first world countries in that we are small, so small that it is funny when we are compared to one state in the United States of America, or one small part of the continent of Australia or that we are a dot on the world atlas.  Therein lies our competitive edge and also our Achilles heel.  As a small and vibrant country we can move swiftly to capitalize on global opportunities and to avoid potential disasters.  At the same time, if we are to get hit, it will affect all of us because we are so small.  Take for example; what happens in California really doesn’t have an impact in New York on the East Coast of the United States, why, because the country is big.  Therefore, our government, PAP has to be especially careful, guarded and sensitive to the happenings of the world because a ripple in the pond will feel like a tsunami to us here in Singapore.

Our dear Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was a strong leader with a strong team of leaders working with him as a team to build Singapore.  We are a first world country today, it’s like Tiger Woods climbing up the ladder to become world’s number 1.  Where does Singapore go from here?  The only direction from here is down.  To maintain first world country status, will take a much stronger team with a much stronger resolve to keep Singapore at the top, if we have the Opposition coming in to manage and rule Singapore, we will be doomed.  I can fully appreciate how difficult the road ahead is for PAP to continue to keep Singapore productive and relevant to the world so that we can continue to enjoy quality of life at its best.

The Opposition has absolutely no clue how to run a country, it doesn’t matter that they have some educated candidates, the fact is the Opposition has no experience running a country and frankly they don’t know how to period.  Take a look at the Aljunied GRC managed by WP, what a joke.  WP won for the first time a GRC and yet from the time they took over the town council, they have been screwing up, and this is only one small part of Singapore.  Knowing that it is a such a privilege to have won a GRC, shouldn’t WP have put in all their efforts to do a good showing the past 4 years before this election?  People say, we should give them a chance because they never managed a GRC before, or that they have never managed such a large constituency before, what a load of crap!

So, by the same token if we were to allow Opposition to takeover the running of Singapore, and they screw up, and Singapore goes from first world status to another Greece, when the lives of Singaporeans are destroyed and our future blown up in smoke, who do we turn to then, the same idiots that ruined us?

The Opposition questions PAP whether we are debating local issues or national issues?  The fact is Singapore is a city, an island, a country, we are small, therefore, local issues are national issues, national issues are local issues, they are all intertwined.  Now, let me add another facet, because Singapore’s economic growth and health is 75% dependent on the rest of the world who we do business with globally, global issues gets intertwined with local and national issues, why, because it impacts ALL of us.  Can the Opposition begin to comprehend this complicated relationship, NO!

So much is said about the fact that we need some Opposition in government so that they can VOICE our concerns and our needs.  Do we need the Opposition to speak on our behalf, maybe, 15 years to 20 years ago, but not TODAY.  Today, our voice is the Internet, our voice is the social media, even PAP is afraid, PAP knows that they have to engage us, there is no escaping, there is no avoiding, so what do they do?  Today, you can reach your MP directly by email, even our PM is on twitter and we can tweet him.  Today, we can reach our government, we can reach our MPs, our Ministers, and they WILL respond, if not, then, guess what, there will be an audit trail of emails, messages, proving that PAP has ignored us.  Now, would PAP risk this, of course not.  So, do we really need the Opposition to be our voice?  No, they can’t even begin to articulate intelligently and with confidence in Parliament.  What is an interesting development through the past 6 years is that we see more and more PAP MPs raising issue and debating impending policies in Parliament.  In other words, these MPs are speaking up on our behalf, they are questioning, they are asking, they are probing, they need to in order to keep our votes. The world is watching us.

Let’s talk about housing, the Opposition is saying that the price of housing has risen to the point that is beyond the reach of Singaporeans.  Is our Opposition talking about Singapore or some other foreign land?  I know for a fact that HDB continues to be affordable for the great majority of Singaporeans.  I look at my second son and his girlfriend, both graduated from Temasek Polytechnic, unfortunately, not so smart to go to university.  Both have been working in the marketplace for the past 4 years, they both make about S$4,000/- per month each, they have accumulated savings and have built up their CPF accounts.  Recently, they applied for a new 5 room HDB flat at Boon Keng for S$500,000/-, unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in the balloting and didn’t get it, however, we are encouraging them to apply again.  What I am saying is with a combined salary of S$8,000/-, and having worked for a few years and they are now in their mid 20s, they can well afford a 5 room HDB flat in a popular area.  It is not beyond their reach, is it?  I believe my son represents the typical young Singaporean adult.

My wife’s nephew who is a used car salesman, married with a 8 year old daughter was able to buy directly from HDB, a 4 room flat for S$280,000/- in Sengkang, he only has a GCE ‘O’ Level certificate, and he is able to afford it.

To say that HDB prices have appreciated beyond the reach of Singaporeans is so untrue and total rubbish.  Of course, if we are talking about resale flats, then, that is a different issue altogether.

In fact, all Singaporeans should be so thankful to PAP, all through the 30 plus years ever since HDB started, PAP has ensured that all first time HDB buyers after the 5 year curfew, would be able to sell their flats in the secondary market for twice the price they paid for it.  I know, it’s not a policy of PAP, however, what’s interesting is that it works out that way ALL the time.  It allows Singaporeans the opportunity to upgrade to better housing based on the capital appreciation and hopefully, their higher salaries through time as well.  All this is possible because fundamentally our country’s economic health is stable, politically we are stable.

The Opposition is talking about lowering prices, why, and for whom?  PAP has ensured that all Singaporeans who are educated or skilled and working will be able to afford to buy a HDB flat directly from the HDB.  The operating criteria is Singaporeans who are educated or skilled, because then, we can command an economic value.  If we are uneducated or unskilled, then, that is a different situation altogether.  It is every Singaporeans’ responsibility to educate themselves to the best of their ability so that they can garner better job prospects and higher salaries through time.  All this means that Singaporeans can enjoy a higher quality of life.

PAP has listened to Singaporeans, so today they have modified the HDB policies to include older singles, to allow the elderly to monetize their flats and continue living in them.  As Singapore continues to westernize, we now have unwed or divorced single parents, so I am confident that PAP together with HDB will address these emerging groups that has its own needs.

Let’s move on to talk about the CPF.  The Opposition is saying that PAP should allow Singaporeans to withdraw all their CPF at age 55 like in the old days, that it is wrong for PAP to hold back our monies till we are 65 and beyond.  The fact of the matter is in the old scheme a lot of Singaporeans withdrew all their CPF monies and then squandered it, or was cheated or for other reasons they lost it all over a short period of time.  Now, they are penniless, in their 60s and 70s, and maybe even lost the roof over their head, does it now become the problem of PAP to house and feed these people, who so recklessly spent or lost their savings?  The extension of the withdrawal of CPF after retirement is to safeguard us so that we do not become a burden to our government, our country, our society and to our children.

The Opposition is saying that Singaporeans will know how to manage their retirement monies and they are insisting on PAP to change the policy to allow full withdrawal at age 55.  Since the Opposition is so confident of Singaporeans being able to manage their own retirement monies, then, why not the Opposition underwrite any Singaporeans over age 55 who withdraws all their CPF and loses it.  Will the Opposition guarantee the well being of these Singaporeans?

For me, the more pressing issue is the returns on our CPF monies in our various accounts, be it the Ordinary Account, Special Account or Medisave Account or Retirement Account.  Our eminent PM says that the government is already paying up to 5% p.a. on the first $60,000, and my question is why not for the entire amount?  Is there a reason why PAP can’t do that for Singaporeans?  As it is, between GIC and Temasek, they procure our country’s reserves and our CPF monies to invest and I applaud them for doing so.  After all, they have the best brains working in these two organizations, furthermore, GIC and Temasek also has access to global investment opportunities and global best in class fund managers.  I believe the reported returns in 2014 for both GIC and Temasek is higher, so why not give Singaporeans the full benefit of 5% p.a. on our total CPF balances?

If our government were to give Singaporeans 5% p.a. on the total amount of the monies in their CPF account, retirees would not need to withdraw their CPF monies to invest in the stock market, that is, in REITs, bonds or units trusts to try and earn a better interest rates or return.  This I would like to see happen for Singaporeans and I know PAP can do it.

The Opposition from NSP said that the government should give Singaporeans a return of 15% p.a. on their CPF monies.  Is this guy operating on planet Earth?  Does he know how much risk the government, GIC and Temasek needs to take on to potentially try to make a return of 15%?  Oh yes, the person from NSP is none other than Mr. Lim Tean, a Cambridge trained lawyer and partner of Rajah and Tann, what an idiot for saying what he said, obviously, lawyers don’t have a clue about the investment industry and the financial world.

Let’s talk about education.  The government has realized through time that not everyone is scholastic or academically incline, so through the decades as Singapore grew and progressed, we started expanding with polytechnics and ITEs.  The reality is not everyone is academically incline to become lawyers and doctors, but to finish schooling with only a GCE ‘O’ Levels, that individual will find it very difficult to be a relevant in the Singapore workforce.  So our government has made it a point to educate and empower Singaporeans with either a piece of paper called a degree if they can achieve it or a skill so that both these Singaporeans; academic or skilled can be a productive Singaporean to our GDP.  More importantly, academics or skill empowers Singaporeans with financial independence to enjoy a better quality of life through time.

The Opposition talks about the fact that the government should promote free education, free healthcare, free this and free that, any idiot can make such proposals when there is a positive balance in the bank account.  Let’s not forget a lot of what the Opposition is asking for FREE grows exponentially through time.  The bank account will very quickly be depleted.  Why hasn’t the Opposition come up with proposals or policies to create monies, to promote business development, to create value adding, to create growth?  Simple, they do not have the first clue how to begin to formulate such policies and why, because it’s beyond them to do so.  Singapore is a globalist, it has successfully engaged other first world countries and emerging countries to execute ‘win-win’ outcomes for Singapore.  Any policies will need to be all encompassing, all embodying because our livelihood depends on the world, does the Opposition understand this, NO, they don’t.

Let’s talk about foreigners and foreign workers.  PAP has been successful in creating a viable and relevant business environment for many MNCs to set up here in Singapore.  In fact, a number of MNCs have made Singapore their RHQ, OHQ or GHQ.  Today, a great majority of Singaporeans in Singapore work for MNCs that are here in Singapore.  Singapore companies by comparison make up a smaller number.  It is important to attract senior foreign talent as they have more experience then we have coming from other first world countries with much longer history than we have.  Of course, through time this gap will narrow and our government should also try to attract back to Singapore our foreign trained local talent living in other countries.

The Opposition talks about the fact that PAP has blatantly attracted multi millionaires and billionaires to make Singapore their home, driving up the cost of living and property prices.  Does the Opposition bother to read the various immigration policies that governs these rich foreigners coming to Singapore?  They are mostly confined on Sentosa, they also setup companies and create jobs for Singaporeans.  The Opposition says that the cost of living has been driven up.  Recently, I came back from Perth, Australia and I was shocked to experience that a plate of chicken rice in an aircon food court in a shopping mall was A$13/-.  I believe in Singapore it’s about S$4/-.

The Opposition is saying that Singaporeans are worse off because of rising cost of living.  Does the Opposition know that 3 out of 4 Singaporeans travel every year? Things must be so bad that Singaporeans can still make 8 million trips outside Singapore in 2014.

I agree that PAP has made a mistake in the foreigners hiring policy of allowing foreigners to come in and take up junior and middle level management positions that can be fully and competently performed by Singaporeans.  I believe our government has tighten the policy and will continue to refine it so that Singaporeans through time will not be disadvantaged.

Our government has done a lot for the blue collar workers through WDA and various other initiatives to retrain and encourage working Singaporeans back to the workforce.  Where the government has been less successful is in the white collar segment of working Singaporeans.  Yes, they have tried with JobBank and other initiatives, but it has largely failed.  It is not so easy to retrain a white collar worker and reintroduce them back to the workforce.  Today in Singapore, if you are a hardworking and successful white collar worker in his mid 40s, you are on the radar of ‘retrenchment’.  It is a sad reality of life in Singapore.  There is a significant number of white collar workers that have been displaced since the global crisis of 2008 and they have not been able to return to the workforce.

I would like to see our government come up with some solutions to help this segment, if not, through time as these people get older, they will become an inevitable burden on the country.  So, I urge our dear government to start putting on their thinking caps and develop a solution to prevent the long term negative outcome.

I could go on, however, I believe enough is said.  Singaporeans are going to make a major decision on their future this weekend, a future that is going to be tougher than the past.  We need to have a government that is strong, competent and with the resolve to continue to move Singapore forward and keep Singapore relevant to the rest of the world.  Then and only then, can we can continue to enjoy the quality of life that we have grown accustom to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. While I agree that a one party rule is not the ideal scenario, we really don’t have a choice given our history and the circumstances revolving around how the one party rule has come about and stayed that way.

    No Opposition has been involved in the development of Singapore through the past 50 years, with absolutely no experience how will the Opposition be able to run the country if given a chance, going forward?

    The Opposition can be a more credible threat if they were to come together as a coalition against PAP, you know, strength in numbers. However, this is not going to happen because the Opposition is too short, which is why we end up with three corner fights this election.

    I would rather stick to being prudent and work with what we have and challenge PAP to do better.

    I have children in their late teens and I am concern about their future. I don’t mind rocking the boat but certainly not capsizing the boat.


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