Papsicles 5

As readers might have guessed from the picture in the previous article, I was at the People’s Action Party rally held on 2 May 2011 in Bukit Panjang. I didn’t plan to stay more than 30 to 45 minutes, just to get a flavour of the event and some pictures. By chance, none other than the incumbent candidate Teo Ho Pin was on stage speaking while I was there.

What struck me was that virtually the entire speech was devoted to municipal affairs.  Gee, I thought to myself, is that all that he thinks voters are concerned with?  But perhaps he is right. Maybe enough voters care only about the parochial that he can coast to victory with nothing more than that.

Don’t just take my word for it. Read the Straits Times’ report and you’ll see the same thing. Let me quote the opening paragraphs of the news story:

Bt Panjang has grown into vibrant town: Teo Ho Pin

Bukit Panjang has developed from a town with few amenities into a vibrant place that residents are proud to live in, People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate for Bukit Panjang Teo Ho Pin said last night.

Speaking at a rally in Jelapang Road, he pointed out that the Single Member Constituency (SMC) was the first constituency to complete the upgrading of lifts in all 132 of its eligible housing blocks.

The town, he said, is also completely barrier-free.

Dr Teo, the incumbent MP for Bukit Panjang for the past 14 years, also revealed several projects in the pipeline.

These include a new wet market and food centre, an MRT station with an integrated bus interchange, community gardens in every precinct and a nature park beside the Bukit Timah Expressway.

— Straits Times, 3 May 2011, Bt Panjang has grown into vibrant town: Teo Ho Pin

The other interesting thing was that chairs were provided. Back home, examining the telephoto pictures I took, I counted 43 chairs abreast x 24 rows. That’s about 1,000 seats, all filled. There were perhaps another 500 people standing at the back and by the sides.  Another thing I noticed, but only after I got home, was that the persons seated in the front row  each had large placards. From my angle, I couldn’t see what these placards said, but we can all guess. It sure looked rather North Korean to me.

* * * * *

The Sunday Times, 1 May 2011, had a front page headline that said: Solution to rising costs is to grow economy: MM.

What a load of crap, I said to myself. Inflation is an independent variable from growth. Growth alone does nothing to cure inflation. Look at China the last few years, with GDP growth nine percent per annum and higher, but also persistent inflation.

Of course, Lee Kuan Yew quickly added (and was dutifully reported by the newspaper) that growing the economic pie means the government can give out more. Eh? Again, it’s another independent variable. If it were so automatically linked that growth leads to redistribution, then how is it we have widespread grumbles after  14.5 percent GDP growth in 2010?

Income redistribution is a policy decision. You can make that decision regardless of GDP growth.

But of course, Lee was not even contemplating income redistribution; he was still thinking along the lines of trickle-down economics — a theory that is quite evidently discredited. Wealth does not automatically trickle down. Wealth flows to those with political and economic power — it’s one of the most enduring truths through human history. Income and wealth is only redistributed when the have-nots seize power.

Moving on, he then contradicted himself.

Mr Lee acknowledged voters’ concerns over high living costs. But these are due to “higher food prices elsewhere, as a result of higher oil prices, which is reflected in transportation costs for cars, buses and electricity”.

— Sunday Times, 1 May 2011, Solution to rising costs is to grow economy: MM

Here he is saying inflation is independent of domestic growth, because inflation is imported. Actually, he’s wrong. Economists have pointed out that at least half of inflation in Singapore is domestically generated. Land costs feed into rental costs which feeds into the cost of products and services. Lack of competition allows certain providers of products and services to keep prices higher than they need to be. In the post Imagining electoral calamity, I pointed out for example that Singapore’s main urban rail operator, SMRT Corp, made a fat Operating Profit of 21.4 percent last financial year. Train fares are government-regulated, so let’s not pretend that the government had no hand in high living costs.

All that Lee is saying is a sideshow to distract from the chief point: The pain of cost of living is experienced when prices rise and wages stay nearly stagnant. The issue is, in the final analysis, not whether prices are going up or down. If wages also go up, it won’t much hurt. The issue is the income gap, and that is something that macro-economic policy and taxation philosophy have huge roles in shaping. And who is responsible for that?

* * * * *

The following day, on page A14 is this headline:

Foreign worker cap poses real dilemma, says Lim Hng Kiang.

Restricting the number of foreign workers in Singapore’s economy presents a ‘real dilemma’ for the Government, as it will likely require turning away big foreign investments.

Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday appealed to Singaporeans to understand the ‘huge trade-off’ the country will have to accept in terms of lost opportunities for growth.

Responding to concerns over the influx of foreigners, the Government said early last year that it would maintain the proportion of foreigners in the labour force at its current level of one-third.

‘We will keep foreign workers to one-third of the workforce, but I can tell you that one-third is a very severe limitation to us,’ Mr Lim said, in characteristically frank terms.

— Straits Times, 2 May 2011

Again we are mesmerised by the gross numbers of GDP growth from investments but fail to ask ourselves what the external costs of these investments will be. External costs include impact on society and the environment, and even opportunities foregone. Do we really need more shipyards? More low-tech construction work?

If we have to have investments, shouldn’t we be inviting those with high capital and low labour? Admittedly, it is a complicated debate involving a multitude of factors from land scarcity to available skills and so on. I don’t have the space to get into it here.

All I want to point out is that this statement by Lim  is perhaps designed to lay the groundwork for a roll-back on the promise made last year to deal with this problem.

Further down the article:

Mr Iswaran, who is the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, emphasised that these trade-offs require that the one-third cap be viewed as a long-term goal, rather than be kept to as a “theological constraint”.

Mr Lim reiterated his view that taking in big investments with the concurrent need for foreign manpower yields the best outcome for Singaporeans.

— ibid.

There you go. Now that they are confident of winning the election, earlier promises are quietly being shelved.

39 Responses to “Papsicles 5”


  1. 1 Xmen 4 May 2011 at 06:25

    Paul Krugman, an economics Nobel laureate, has criticized Singapore’s growth as unsustainable based on increasing capital and labor, rather than growth in total factor productivity.

    See the article “Is Singapore’s Economic Growth Sustainable?” on Seeking Alpha (http://seekingalpha.com/article/218109-is-singapore-s-economic-growth-sustainable).

    The article also points out that Singapore only invests half as much on public education as USA and other Nordic countries.

  2. 3 Paul 4 May 2011 at 06:54

    Alex, you opined that Teo focused only on municipal issues, and cited the Straits Times:

    “Bukit Panjang has developed from a town with few amenities into a vibrant place that residents are proud to live in, People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate for Bukit Panjang Teo Ho Pin said last night.”

    But of course this IS the Singapore story – writ small:

    “A hundred years ago, this was a mud-flat, swamp. Today, this is a modern city. Ten years from now, this will be a metropolis. Never fear!” (Lee Kuan Yew, 12 September 1965)

    • 4 prettyplace 5 May 2011 at 02:36

      Should inform Alec Tok, that one thing which is lacking in Bukit Panjang is a cinema.

      It has been fun assisting an alternative party at the same time have been an eye opener.

      I hope & I wish everyone is working in the interest of Singapore, our country.

      If found that some people(meaning the eagle eye) have special interest in playing & wanting to side some in, by way of injustice. I am sure we all will go down nice & proper.

      However, it has been a wonderful experience, nevertheless. People should get out more to be in the frontlines.
      Each time someone waves & shakes your hand, for doing the right & strong thing, which they can’t. You feel like serving the nation and this emotional drive & motivation which comes with it is a profound feeling, one can only feel.

      I am lucky to enjoy this feeling for another day.

  3. 5 Christine 4 May 2011 at 07:31

    Hi, just to make your argument slightly better. I think in trickle down economics. It refers to the economic growth and hence income and not wealth. Furthermore, income is a flow concept while wealth is a stock concept. So I think it shld be income flows but wealth “accumulates”. Wealth cannot automatically trickle down at all. It can only be passed on eg via death

    • 6 yawningbread 4 May 2011 at 11:33

      Wealth can be redistributed too. Example: property taxes.

      • 7 Christine 4 May 2011 at 12:58

        But the property hasnt changed in value. U can tax wealth but u can’t redistribute it via taxes. There may be a few exceptions but unless you change the stock of wealth, which may be an inevitable result of the property tax, it’s not really a wealth redistribution tax. It’s true that wealth distribution takes place when there is a change in power. In an extreme example, via the redistribution of arable land in Africa
        I’m sorry if I’m being overly constipated abt this esp because it’s not the crux of the issue, I just feel that your argument will hold more economic weight if wealth n income r not mistaken for each other.
        I think your arguments r good, and I did agree with them.

      • 8 prettyplace 5 May 2011 at 02:36

        haha

  4. 9 Bewildered Foreigner 4 May 2011 at 08:33

    “If we have to have investments, shouldn’t we be inviting those with high capital and low labour?”

    You know what is the big problem here? Due to the political and social climate of this country, it is very difficult to setup companies here that do more than just using low cost labour. Singaporeans have so far been pretty scared people that tend to follow and do what bosses want them to do. That doesn’t work if you want to have businesses that create new ideas, products etc. I have been working in a MNC before where they tried to move development from Europe to Singapore. It utterly failed due to the managements incapability to accept different mindset, discussions and disagreements. And most people, especially my Asian colleagues, simply accepted that with their typical “well, we can’t do anything about it” mentality.

    This is a big problem as Singapore can’t continue this low cost labour forever. It tears the fabric of this nation apart as we can see. My last hope is the younger bolder generation who have had enough of this old system. PAP is desperately trying to remain the status quo with whatever means they have.

    • 10 Business Owner 4 May 2011 at 13:45

      I’m a small business owner, and you spoke my mind. The people of Singapore are imprisoned by their own fear & apathy. I truly hope the climate changes after feeling all the excitement and interest over the elections, though it’s more of a pipe dream… I really hope that we are not what others criticize us to be: a nation of sheep.

    • 11 Shae 7 May 2011 at 04:19

      I agree largely with what you said about the social climate in Singapore and how it leads to a less creative environment. And not all the fault lies with all levels of Singaporeans.

      I am, what people generally label, a Generation Y voter. Most problems with retention and management of the current of the workforce right now are normally hoisted onto the younger generation for being flippant, lightweight and basically not being able to heck it.

      While there may be some nuggets of veracity in that claim, I don’t think that’s the whole truth.

      When I tried to discuss work issues with my ex-boss (she is in her middle forties), her reactions to any suggestions or issues that I have brought up which do not agree with her own were largely negative. I must add that I had approached all such discussions with her respectfully and diplomatically.

      Instead of opening up a channel for freer discussion (and bear in mind that I had been very respectful towards her in all our interactions), the best of it was that I was ignored, the worst of it was that I was told that I was being “rebellious”, “ungrateful” and “not to talk back”, etc etc, you get the gist. I think the main problem with Singaporean work culture is that it adopts a very much top-down approach, thereby encouraging sycophantic behaviour, and discouraging creative and original discourse. Therefore, “yes-men” prosper and naysayers are punished.

      What I think would improve the situation is if the middle and upper management could let go of their egos a bit and try to adopt a more open mind towards alternative opinions and to the idea that sometimes, even though a person has less experience, he or she may have viable ideas too. However, given the entrenched attitude of servility towards experience, there needs to be a mini-revolution both politically and socially for this to happen.

  5. 12 drmchsr0 4 May 2011 at 09:41

    Apart from the distasteful headline…

    It’s been rather disappointing to see Singapore being run like a corporation rather than a country, and that the people are sick of it but no one is listening because they are too busy wanting more income.

    Though on the issue of economics, does anyone have any concrete figures on how foreigners impact the local economy, depressed wages notwithstanding?

    And another thing. The Temasek Review mentioned about GIC losing at least a billion dollars to a group of European banks due to them defaulting on a loan or something. Does anyone have any reputable links (BBC, Washington Post, WSJ, to name a few) to this default?

    • 13 Gard 4 May 2011 at 13:20

      The claim that ‘foreigners depress wages’ is one of those myths circulating.

      “In the ongoing debate on immigration, there is broad agreement among academic economists that it has a small but positive impact on the wages of native-born workers…”
      Source: http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/bp255/

      Feel free to check out other empirical publications.

      (This does not exclude the possibility that some segment of the population might be negatively impacted.)

      Because the monarchy jealously guard key statistics, e.g., capital stock, foreigners population and profile, etc. you won’t find independent publications to get what you want.

      Put it another way: if foreigners are indeed depressing wages, you should rationally be an entrepreneur or business owner, since you will derive more earnings from profits, considering Singapore’s low wage share.

      First World Country, but not First World Wages?
      http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/Office/Story/A1Story20100517-216611/2.html

      Of course, you would need to develop the smarts for entrepreneurship … but that option beats competiting against foreigners for low wages or relying on the monarchy for favours, handouts and apologies (I exclude disadvantaged people for this).

      • 14 whatu1 5 May 2011 at 10:22

        Foreign workers doesn’t depress wages. It just stagnation of median pay. Comparing the foreign exchange of currencies, the pay which the average Singaporean can earn would amount to a few times more than the average foreign worker earns in their own country.

        Unlike these foreign workers which can save and scrap every cents to convert into a couple of folds in their own currency and therefore be economically better off when they return after their stint in our country, where are us Singaporeans, going to run to? This is our country. Unless we choose to migrate into a foreign land, this is our home.

        To be an entrepreneur, it takes money to set up a business. Unless your parents can put you up or you scrap and save up enough money, it is not so easy. In fact, check out the number of bankruptcy cases in Singapore and you may find this interesting as most of these people are young entrepreneur who fail to make it. So what is cheap labor when you are unable to fund the business?

        Going back to basic of good old Hierarchy of Needs, Food, Shelter and Clothing. The cost of a shelter in Singapore is being priced higher and higher out of the reach of the average Singaporean. Yes, the Minister says it is “affordable” but couples are now coming to a stage where they work just to pay off their housing loan. How to have funds to start a business?

        The cost of living is no longer viable for the median pay of Singaporeans. If we are just to work to get by, what is the point? Especially considering the Elitists circulating wealth among their own group? We are the average Singaporean. People who work to build this nation. Not those that regards not taking their parents to Universal Studios as a Regret.

      • 15 Gard 5 May 2011 at 12:44

        1) In the rare disclosure of statistics, the Finance Minister hightlighted that real median income per *Singaporean* household member rose by 20% in the last decade (ref: Budget 2010), and made some comparison with other countries, e.g., Hong Kong, Taiwan, S Korea (ref: Budget 2011).

        You are free to examine other statistics, but you should provide the evidence to show how median pay has been ‘made stagnant’ by foreign workers.

        Of course, you can argue that the statistics are unreliable half-truths conjured by the monarchy, but whoever you vote into office are going to use those numbers nonetheless to frame policy, or at least, he has to provide an alternative source so that people can investigate and debate.

        2) I fully agree that being an entrepreneur is not easy – but not easy compared to what ‘other choices’? Do you think that the alternative parties would close the door on foreigners? In fact, Minister Lim Hng Kiang is right about the limitation of foreigners at ‘one-third of population.’ It is artificial.

        When alternative parties talk about slowing down the inflow of foreign workers, it is done in consideration to the rate of expansion of capital. Simply put, labour growth outstripped capital growth in the last decade, creating the malaise in productivity growth (and hence wage growth).

        “… the contributions of capital and TFP to output growth have fallen. Notably, non-ICT investment as a share of GDP fell after the Asian financial crisis,”
        – Sources of Singapore’s Economic Growth, MAS, Annual Report 09/10
        http://www.mas.gov.sg/about_us/annual_reports/annual20092010/work_02_01.html

        This is why having capital stock statistics is as important as looking at labour statistics, to avoid confusing correlation with causation.

        3) Finally, the argument comes to a full circle: what happened to capital? Why don’t people have/acquire capital to start business? Are Singaporeans poorer than our more entrepreneurial counterparts in Hong Kong and Taiwan?

      • 16 Fox 6 May 2011 at 12:26

        @Gard,

        “1) In the rare disclosure of statistics, the Finance Minister hightlighted that real median income per *Singaporean* household member rose by 20% in the last decade (ref: Budget 2010), and made some comparison with other countries, e.g., Hong Kong, Taiwan, S Korea (ref: Budget 2011).”

        Do you have the link to the Budget 2011? I can’t seem to find the comparison to HK, Taiwan and SK.

        Also, does this statistic of rising median income take into account the increasing number of working adults in the household?

        We need to know two things to judge this statistic properly.
        (1) Number of household members
        (2) Number of working adults per household

        If Singaporeans are having fewer children and the retirement age is raised, then it is possible to see increasing real median income per household member without seeing any actual wage increase.

      • 17 Gard 6 May 2011 at 17:49

        @Fox

        Here’s the link:
        http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2011/download/FY2011_Budget_Debate_Round_Up_Speech.pdf

        Now (1) and (2) are questions you would find difficulty getting answers, however.

        (1) Average (*resident*) household size was 3.5 people in 2010, compared to 3.7 people in 2011.
        (Source: Straits Times, 16 Feb 2011)

      • 18 Fox 7 May 2011 at 01:05

        @Gard,

        Thanks for the link. I found the link very soon after asking the question.

        Anyway, assuming that the median wage and the number of working adults per household remain the unchanged, then shrinking household size alone would have produced a 6 percent increase in median household income. Furtheremore, greater female participation increases the number of working adults per household.

        We should look at median income or wage. That’s what the individual Singaporean ‘feels’.

      • 19 Fox 7 May 2011 at 01:24

        @Gard,

        Female participation ratio has increased from 2000 (50.2 percent) to 2009 (55.2 percent) [1]. Also, dependency ratios have fallen from 2000 (40.7 percent) to 2009 (36.1 percent) [2]. Combined with shrinking household sizes, one can easily account for most if not all of the increase in median household income to increasing labour participation (as children grow up and enter the workforce but delay marriage/childbirth).

        No wonder Singaporeans are not feeling any improvement in their income.

        References:
        1. http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/economy/hist/labour.html
        2. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/singapore/age-dependency-ratio-young-percent-of-working-age-population-wb-data.html

      • 20 Gard 7 May 2011 at 09:04

        @Fox

        There is no doubt that there would be questions whenever statistics(median, average, etc.) compress numbers into one figure. The monarchy is not obliged to overwhelmingly argue her case; it is your duty as the citizen to dig up ‘discrepancies’.

        So what else can be explored?
        1) Median wage data from MOM
        2) Expenditure data from DOS
        3) Salary surveys from independent agencies.
        4) Any logical deductions that might follow, assuming the activity really took place

        All these are imperfect information, but like a detective, you are trying to unearth any evidence if murder (stagnation of median pay) has indeed occurred. You should at least produce the body? the weapon? Shall we say, the accused (monarchy) is presumed innocent until proven otherwise, if you take that the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges?

        Quite possibly, you wonder if it was possible for the monarchy to hide the body or weapon. This is quite possibly a larger charge than mere murder. Detective work is hard work, and yes, we need people who hold contrarian views to muster and sustain that effort. But it is no use holding contrarian beliefs and hoping that evidence will come your way.

    • 21 whatu1 5 May 2011 at 20:29

      So “median pay for per Singaporean has increased by 20% over the last decade”. Let’s look in depth at this statement’s meaning.

      “Per Singaporean”. With the low fertility rate among Singaporeans, is it correct to say the base of “Singaporeans” have reduced over the decade? Therefore the denominator is shrinking? Even with the same total amount of median pay, the lower the dividing numbers, the more the average? Please remember not all the population in Singapore are Singaporeans. We have an extremely high number of foreign workers, some say One Third of the numbers now but I am sure no one will know for sure unless the figures are dug up.

      “Increased by 20% over the decade” alone looks impressive. But comparing this to say a benchmark? How about Against % Inflation Increase Over The Decade? If not mistaken the average inflation growth is 5% per annum over the past decade? How does this figure stacks up when compared to the growth in median pay?

      There is no doubts that foreign workers are important for the growing of Singapore. However, can the infrastructure of Singapore take this sudden increase? How about after the ground sentiments are not “so sweet”, the ministry has decided to reject all applications for work permits and ‘S’ Pass as a knee jerk reaction?

      Currently, there is no foresight within the government unlike our forefathers like Mr Goh Keng Swee. Policies are made as and when there is a need to grow GDP. No serious consideration to the consequences of one’s action. When policies were decided by our forefathers, even MM Lee, the team went through a series of serious thought process before introducing. Most of the times, our forefathers could see the consequences 20 years down. At the present moment, some policies cannot even last 2 years.

      As for foreign investments, did investments pull out suddenly in countries like USA or UK when there is a change in government? If not, then why the question of foreign investment in Singapore when it comes to a change in political party?

      In Singapore, the current system does not encourage entrepreneurship. The system in place is to encourage conformity and compliance. Unfortunately, with the explosion of the internet, information are no longer so easy to bottle up. With information, comes knowledge. With usage of knowledge, comes power. This is why there is a shift in “ground sentiments”.

      • 22 Gard 6 May 2011 at 11:12

        You would need to look at how the value is computed by referring to the source. Singaporean refers to Singapore citizens. Employment data specifically refer to Singaporeans are not published in the usual Ministry of Manpower (MOM) releases, so this is why I said, “rare disclosure”. The usual MOM statistics usually lump Singaporeans and PRs together – called the ‘Singapore resident.’

        Data pertaining to Singaporeans is one of those rare gifts that the monarchy dishes out to tearful independent statisticians.

        Fortunately, the Department of Statistics do publish demographic data pertaining to Singaporeans. Please take a look to verify if the population of Singaporean did indeed fall.

        You are right in asking for a benchmark. The Finance Minister helpfully benchmarked Singapore against our Dragon cousins in Budget 2011. When it comes to comparison, it is tricky. Strange it may sound, it is not the responsibility for the monarchy to unearth statistics to undermine its claim.

        The responsibility lies with you, the citizen.

        The closest comparison for Singapore has to be Hong Kong; since Taiwan and Korea have large non-urban population, which pulls down overall average numbers. There are studies that examined Singapore against cities, such as the UBS Price and Earnings report, which cast Singapore unfavorably against Hong Kong and Seoul.

        http://www.ubs.com/1/e/wealthmanagement/wealth_management_research/prices_earnings.html

        If Singapore continue to subscribe to the system that created the First World Monarchy, one that leave the job of thinking, analysing and digging to the politicans, one that cultivates the ‘victimhood’ in the people, one that sees voting for the opposition to ‘punish’ the incumbent (ah, I don’t use the monarchy here), Singaporeans are merely replacing dynasties.

  6. 23 Gard 4 May 2011 at 09:59

    The relationship between inflation and economic growth is not straightforward. For a quick review, this paper may be helpful:

    Gokal (2004) ‘Relationship between Inflation and Economic Growth’
    Source: http://www.reservebank.gov.fj/docs/2004_04_wp.pdf

    MM’s point is that, as long as (nominal) growth exceed inflation, growth is ‘real’ and someone would get the extra ‘real’ fruits, such as the ministerial pay.

    Higher pay translate to harder working civil servants, more and better efforts to serve the populace, etc. Their efforts are more visible (who doesn’t love the sight of officials dishing out money to hands of tearful supplicants) compared to backroom work on monetary policies, buying and selling of inflation-hedged bonds, etc.

    As for widespread grumbles after 14.5 percent GDP growth in 2010, I thought it obvious that wages (for normal people) in Singapore are not linked directly to GDP growth but to productivity growth.

    Could the monarchy engineer productivity growth to outstrip inflation?

    “… productivity growth of two to three per cent a year ”
    – Economic Strategies Committee, 2010

    “The inflation rate in Singapore was last reported at 5 percent in March of 2011. From 1962 until 2010, the average inflation rate in Singapore was 2.73 percent…”
    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/singapore/inflation-cpi
    (Ouch, that must hurt the real value of your CPF with its interest rate of 2.5%)

  7. 24 stanley fong 4 May 2011 at 10:09

    can help to send out an urgent message to all and any opposition people you know.

    Do NOT belittle or heap sacarsm on PM Lee’s apology! An apology from the PM is something which the people do not take lightly. To belittle or heap sacarsm on it, or even question it, makes you appear ungracious, venegful. This will turn the tides of emotion against whoever is doing it. The good work by opposition right now will be screwed for taking this too lightly.

    Thank you!

    • 25 drmchsr0 4 May 2011 at 11:54

      An apology is nothing without action.

      In fact, should any of the Opposition parties seize on this chance, they should be pressing harder for transparency and accountability.

      After all, words mean nothing without action.

      The answer then, should be, “Prove it!”

      Words without action is an empty promise. And if footballers can dive to get a penalty, there’s nothing stopping the most seasoned of politicians from play-acting to garner votes. And as we’ve seen this election, the PAP has been shown to use “gutter politics” (not to be confused with Getter politics, which involves giant robots and the blatant violation of physics) to get ahead.

    • 26 J 4 May 2011 at 11:58

      But his apology, which in fact was not an apology but a conditional apology, smacks exactly of insincerity. Why only now, and not anytime during the last 5 years? How can you even take the apology seriously when all along the media keeps saying everything is good and affordable in Singapore?

      What I see is desperation. Since their usual smear tactics and fear mongering and upgrading carrots are no longer so effective, they resort to pleading, together with ministers crying on tv.

    • 27 Robox 4 May 2011 at 13:37

      I don’t take his apology as anything more than an elections gimmick, informed by the very shrewd politics that has kept the PAP alive all these decades.

    • 28 xinguozhi 5 May 2011 at 01:16

      if you can read Chinese, do read this article: http://wp.me/p1tvmv-cH. it discusses whether it was a sincere apology.

    • 29 whatu1 5 May 2011 at 14:00

      I accept our PM’s apology to the people. I accept our PM for showing humility to accept responsibility for making mistakes.

      BUT I CANNOT ACCEPT THE HIGH AND PROUD ATTITUDES OF HIS MINISTERS AND THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN HIS PARTY!!!

      Instead of making things clear about the YOG, our Minister of CDYS said his spending of over 300million of the PEOPLE’S money is justified because he asked our PM. Did he ever ask if this hard earned money by the people worth spending on the event?

      Instead of apologizing for overspending, he comes out guns blazing to justify his costly expenditure. Instead of spending already blown 104 million but his under the budget 387 million money to provide better meals for the volunteers, he still said he is within budget? Where is the humility and humanity. Does he care about the people?

      Maybe as he said during his Parliament speech, what should we expect from him? 3 meals in the hawker center or restaurants?

      Don’t even talk about the Ministers who were in charge of the flooding and Mas Selamat cases. Where is their apology?

    • 30 whatu1 5 May 2011 at 17:27

      @stanley. I do not belittle our PM’s apology. However, it is the Ministers whom he is apologizing on behalf of that I feel peeved with.

      Where is the Minister for Home Affairs when PM Lee apologized for the escape of Mas Selamat? Where is the Minister for Environment and Water Resources when PM Lee apologized for the flooding of Orchard Road?

      In Japan, the Energy Minister has to offer his resignation from his post when the Fukushima plant had trouble. This is on top of the apology of the PM to all Japanese.

      Where are our Ministers then?

  8. 31 whatu1 4 May 2011 at 10:29

    2 million population growth over the years to reach the almost 6 million. Is this how our Ministry of Manpower calculates the need for foreign workers?

    Having so many foreign workers is not increasing the median pay for Singapore workers. It only increases the GDP due to sheer numbers increase. This only translate into higher inflation. At least in China, the growth of median pay of the average Chinese is peg to inflation rate. How about us?

  9. 32 Zilla 4 May 2011 at 12:22

    I will question why we still need to keep costs low to woo foreign investors? Why haven’t the MTI developed a strong local industry to wean ourselves off this dependence on MNCs?

    • 33 Gard 4 May 2011 at 18:10

      Your questions are layered and not easily answered until you clarify:

      1) Are you more concerned about ‘keeping cost low’ than the ‘wooing foreign investors’ part? I assume no issue with attracting foreign investments.

      2) Are you referring to ‘labour cost’ or ‘total cost’?

      3) The decision you make today as an investor concerns not just the cost today, but the cost years down the road, as well as revenue. Put it differently, are you concerned about ‘keeping profits high’ to woo foreign investors?

      4) How would you define ‘strong local industry’ and ‘dependence on MNCs’? Like Taiwan’s?

      “SMEs account for over half of the jobs in Singapore, and contribute more than 40% of our GDP.”
      Source: http://www.spring.gov.sg/Resources/Documents/Guidebook_Financial_Handbook_for_SMEs.pdf, year 2007

      “In its World Competitiveness Yearbook 2008, Switzerland’s International Institute for Management Development (IMD) ranks the operating performance of Taiwan’s small and medium enterprises 4th in the world (up 10 places from 2007) and 2nd in Asia (… behind Hong Kong). … making up 77.12% of the island’s overall employment.”
      Source:
      http://www.cepd.gov.tw/encontent/m1.aspx?sNo=0010855

      Suppose you were made the head of MTI. How well do you think you can duplicate Taiwan’s success by studying its policy measures?

      Try Ministry of Economic Affairs
      http://www.moea.gov.tw/

      But you’d be wasting your time. Singapore is actually a much easier place to start a business than Taiwan.
      Read: Doing Business 2010, World Bank.

      You might suspect that the problem does not lie with MTI.

  10. 34 Rabbit 4 May 2011 at 12:42

    If I remember correctly, Vicent Wijeh (I think) voiced out in CNA political forum that GLC-linked companies have recruited cheap foreigners for jobs Singaporeans are capable of doing. I noticed Tharman kept silence when he spoke.

    I am sure PAP will continue to bring in more cheap foreigners to run their own organisation (I fear they might eventually involve in PA, CCC, RC) if PAP learned this election is a threat to them now. Thus explained why they are determined on the importance of foreigners in our country. It is ironical that states companies prefer foreigners over Singaporeans because of bottomline cost, so that it can generate huge profits for the elite or shareholders of states companies.

    If Singaporeans are deprived of job opportunity in state owned company and yet have to bear with rising cost created by states companies – direct or indirectly, such as SMRT, HDB. It is a huge trade-off and compromise by the people of Singapore that trigger low-wages high living cost effect and the richer gets richer.

    Thus I can safely say that PAP has violated its national duty to put Singaporeans first and protect the people interest and amount of LHL apologies can hide the fact how PAP managed its policies to its own favour & flavour.

  11. 35 Hobbie 4 May 2011 at 14:44

    I am given to understand that trickle-down economics is rhetoric rather than a ‘proper’ theory of economics advocated by economists – rhetoric that broadly revolves around making the well-to-do more prosperous (e.g. through income/wealth transfers), so that their prosperity will trickle down through on those below. Think Galbraith referred to this as the ‘horse and sparrow’ theory – ‘If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.’

    In response to an earlier comment, wealth is a stock concept, and as a “stock” can be accumulated over time by inflows (e.g. income) and/or depleted by outflows (e.g. expenditures). Intuitively, income, expenditures and other transfers can perhaps be thought of as ‘flows’ of wealth.

  12. 36 ysl 4 May 2011 at 17:19

    It is a good thing to let the PAP MP(s)/Ministers talk. The more they do it the more their ignorance of many things are exposed.
    Interestingly with a 14.5 percent GDP growth in 2010 they rewarded themselves with 66.7%(8/12 x 100) of their annual basic salary i.e. if the 8 months bonus is true. That worked out to be a multiplier of 460% (66.7/14.5 x 100)

  13. 37 Not forgotten 4 May 2011 at 18:01

    Still no apology for discriminating gays through keeping S377A? How unrepentant. No vote for you then.

  14. 38 Gazebo 4 May 2011 at 22:39

    voters often conflate “arrogance” with a complete lack of principles.

    MM, LHL, and whoever it is, can be jesus like in humility, and i would still have resentment towards them, simply because the PAP has twisted the entire electoral process towards their own benefit. they have in the process, blurred the boundaries between government, state and party. they have destroyed the very essence of democracy. that is my contention. in sports analogy, a sportsman can be the most humble champion on earth, but if he had won using steroids, does it matter if he is humble or not?

    no free press. defamation charges against political opponents. gerrymandering. HDB flat upgrading. and the list goes on and on.

    i really don’t care about the humility at all. so long as they keep the process fair. all i want is a fair process, so i can make my own judgement on who represents my ideals most and have it HEARD. that’s all.

  15. 39 Fullofnonsence 5 May 2011 at 19:08

    My main worry is what will happen post-election, if the PAP walks away with winning all the seats, the people has already become so polarized that all it will take is a small spark to tear the entire social fabric apart


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s





%d bloggers like this: