Monday, January 28, 2013

PAP’s care for our elderly

I nearly fell off my chair when I heard LHL acknowledging the contribution of our elderly towards nation-building on his PE by-election rally on 24 Jan 2013.

“老年人,他们建立了今天的新加坡。我们应该对他们致敬,感谢他们。我们知道没有他们,没有今天的新加坡。”(13:21 of the video here

(Translation: The elderly built Singapore. We should pay tribute to them and be grateful to their contribution. We know that without them, there won’t be Singapore today.)

Too often, the PAP has propagated the myth that Singapore owes its success to none other than PAP’s out-of-the-world leadership. Thanks to the PE by-election pressure, it was really the first time that I have heard LHL crediting anybody else beside PAP for Singapore’s success. Remember his father’s portrayal of Singapore being a barren land in the 1950s before PAP took over? [Link]The entire Singapore was created by PAP and whatever adminstration, legislation or infrastructure that we inherited from the colonial British can be all swept under the carpet.

Words are cheap.

CPF is the most telling of the kind of value and appreciation that PAP holds for our elderly.

In 1988, CPF started differentiating contribution rates among different age groups. Prior to that, there is a uniform set of employer and employee CPF contribution rates for workers of all age groups. From 1988 onwards, employees above 55 years old found themselves being categorized into three groups: above 55 – 60 years old, above 60 – 65 years old and those above 65 years old. These 3 groups of employees will see their employer contribution rate reduced as compared to those below 55 years old. Once you reach 55 years old, you are subject to immediate wage cut as employer contribution rate drops. It drops further as you move further up the age group.

Those above 55 – 60 years old are relatively “more fortunate” than the other two  age groups to be able to enjoy certain years where employer contribution rate was restored to the 1988 period of 11% and in the 90s, it even rose above the 11% rate for several years

The 60 – 65 and those above 65 aren’t that fortunate at all. The employer contribution rate fails to restore to the 1988 figure (9% for 60 - 65; 8% for 65 and above) after two long decades regardless of the performance of our economy. Therefore, this is not a reactionary adjustment to recessions but a policy that underscores an open discrimination of our elderly workers. 

 Instead of protecting our aged workers, our system forces our elderly workers to make concessions under the pretext of saving their jobs whilst allowing employers to gain by paying less for the same job scope. For the same work that we do, we will receive less pay when we hit 55 years old.

We are looking at a system and a culture that allow selective devaluation and discrimination of elderly which will in turn impact their self-esteems. What is strikingly contradicting is that the work experience of our aged ministers are so highly valued that special positions such as SM, MM or EM were created for them in order to tap on their years of experience. Conversely for our workers, their years of work experience are negligible.

This is the way which PAP demonstrates their genuine appreciation for our elderly. And that is what makes LHL's tribute to our elderly sounds so empty.

Friday, January 25, 2013

We the voters of Singapore and the blame

On the desperate need to steer our country back to the right direction, the responsibility seems to have fallen solely on the shoulders of the alternative parties. Whether they could unite among themselves as one to take on the incumbents, whether they have the ability in attracting candidates with sound credentials and good character, whether they have sufficient outreach to the electorate and many, many other factors….. apparently would all add up to forge that single key to wrestle away the power from the incorrigible incumbents.

So much expectations pinned on the alternative parties. And even more so after GE 2011. And expectations turned into criticisms and fell heavily onto the alternative parties for either being overly-confrontational or for not being sufficiently confrontational. Some of us came down so hard on the alternative parties in the event of PE by-election.

Perhaps we have sensed the urgency of the state of affairs in our country. There are already obvious hints that another 2 million foreigners will be waiting at our door step even before the Population Paper is released. Inflation is still as stubborn as two years ago. And therefore the pressing need to reverse all the twenty-year-old bad policies asap.

However, as much as we can confidently blame our country’s sufferings on the incumbents, or lament at the disarrayed alternative parties, little has been mentioned about the role of voters/citizens who ultimately decide the fate of our country and our lives. Precisely of the far-reaching impact of our collective decision, we cannot just simply rely on the politicians alone, alternative parties or incumbents alike, to steer our country.  

冰冻三尺,非一日之寒。It takes more than a day to freeze three feet of ice. Singapore did not arrive at this sorry state of affairs just overnight. Detrimental policies adversely impacting the social, economical and political health of our country are accumulated throughout the decades.

Our ministers have been paying themselves fat checks even before 21st century. Legal threats were already frequently in use in the 90s on opposition members and it continues to this day. CPF minimum sum was introduced in 1987 and it did not just grow into a terrifying black hole in a single day. 2 million foreigners did not fall from the sky onto our island just last week too.

Yet, we allow the incumbents to grow to this day and to this state, through decades of our endorsement, be it in the form of direct electoral votes or indirectly through our silence, indifference or ignorance of their self-serving policies and abuse of power.

Some individuals, as early as the 90s, from the alternative parties had tried to raise issues concerning the welfare of our country and people and consequently were forced to pay a hefty price for their acts. And what did we do then? Some of us were part of the group who were unaware of or were indifferent to these gestures/individuals, or simply chose to look away in the name of saving our own skins.

The incumbents are responsible for the mess that it created. However, the party who should shoulder the most blame for the mess today, imho, is none other than the voters/citizens ourselves. Some of us choose to live in the history and in continual self-denial that the same party who led our country from the third world to the first world infrastructure has deviated into a self-serving party which places itself above national interests; some of us cannot even bother to understand and to think deeper on how policies affect their daily lives; even in this day and age of internet era, some of us choose the lazy way out by drinking in all mainstream media reports at face value and are averse to thinking beyond the msm or making an effort to find out more views through alternative channels; some of us self-deprecate as-a-matter-of-factly before the high and mighty incumbents; and of course, there are some of us who prioritize self-interests above national interests and will relish at the expense of others.

The various alternative parties need to grow to strengthen our political scene but can we expect them to thaw three feet of ice in a minute when we shy away in those decades? And if the majority do not think there are any crippling issues with our country even at this current state, there is very little the alternative parties could do.
Before we get into the blame-game again for the current mess, perhaps we should also learn to be a responsible and well-informed voter/citizen. For in order to  move our country forward, the politicians could not and should not  be on their own. That should be a collective effort coming from both the politicians (regardless of political party) and our people.

Sunday, January 06, 2013



















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