My meeting with Minister K Shanmugam Sc

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On 15/6/12 @11.40 am, I had a private meeting with Foreign Affairs and Law Minister Mr Shanmugam in his office. It lasted for about an hour. Only the Minister, myself and one of his trusted grassroots assistants Henry were present.

The meeting was arranged by Henry. He dropped me an email dated 1st May. Subsequently, the PA was able to fix it on 15 June which was my off day. I arrived there much earlier at about 11.15am. I had to clear three security barriers – the main entrance to The Treasury building, scanned all my personal belongings and walked through the metal detector, exchanged a security pass, passed through another set of security gate to the lift. Even on the floor of his office, I had to pass through yet another security gate before meeting the police security officer outside his office. Henry came later and we introduced ourselves. We chatted briefly whilst waiting for the Minister who was having a meeting in his office.

Henry told me that he is working in the finance sector. He is a volunteer and help out in the Minister’s ward. His area of responsibility includes the new social media where he monitors and reports to the Minister. He declares that he is a fan of my blog. I took an immediate liking to him cuz he is so humble and friendly even though he is CEO of an investment company.

When the PA summoned us to the Minister’s office, I was shown to the comfortable chairs at the corner of his spacious office. He was wearing a simple long sleeve shirt with a dark colored sweater and we sat down. He looks serious but friendly with his hair clearly thinning and exposing his shining pate. He shook hands with me and thanked me for coming to see him.

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I briefly introduced myself to him. He then told me that he read my little article and he wanted to find out more of it. He also read some other articles on my blog. He just wanted to discuss with me some of the current issues. From the word go, we started an amicable discussion of current issues ranging from housing affordability, ever popular immigration issues, social welfare spending such as medical, CPF, defence expenditure, jobs etc. There were many more issues which we did not even mention due to lack of time. The one hour allocated to our meeting just whisked pass in a moment.

Minister Shanmugan seemed to be very concerned about housing affordability mentioned on my blog here. He explained to me about HDB pricing policy. According to him, all state land is under reserves. If a piece of land is needed to build a block of HDB flats, the government will have to pay for this piece of land into the reserves. It is the same for private development or other uses. He promised to talk about housing again when we next meet.

Minister Shanmugan assures me that every Singapore citizen will definitely have a flat provided he has a job. No citizens should be deprived of his ability to get a HDB flat as a first timer newly married couple. He says the government gurantees that everyone will get a flat at an affordable price. Of course, if you sell off your flat and then spend all the money from the sale of the flat, it’s a different story he says. When I mention about divorce cases etc, the Minister says that the government will still help on a case by case basis. He then asked me to provide details on TO Zaidi Blond’s case so that the Minister can understand the facts better. I agreed to provide details. He also said that even where people are on a very low income, government gives a lot of subsidies, to help them buy a flat.

When I told the Minister that train drivers in UK are earning about 50,000 pounds per year, he said that figure needs to be checked. Minister Shanmugan says that assuming it’s correct, the position of a British train driver and a Singaporean one will have to be considered after the different taxes in Britain and Singapore, and the fact that the Singaporean will get subsidized housing and children will in general get better education. He promised to go through the data with me the next time we meet. He also agreed with me that salaries should be looked at again, as we go forward.

I then told him that in UK or many European countries, basic items do not have GST. In Singapore, though our GST is only 7% compared to theirs ranging from 20% to 25%, I would still prefer their system. He then made a number of points. The difference between paying 7% and 20% is very big, and people will feel it. Second, most of the GST is paid by the top 20% of the population, and foreigners. The lower income gets GST offsets, and other payment including rebates. The GST was in effect a system of transferring money from the wealthy to the less well off. The government will have to spend lots of money and resources to maintain a mechanism to monitor the so many loopholes resulting in lesser GST collected and spending more with the net result of less revenue. A friend of his shared a real-life example: a traveller was buying a piece of painting having to pay about 3000 pounds of GST. When the shop owner sensed his reluctance to pay the extra 3000 pounds in GST, he offered to classify it under “educational aid” to avoid paying the GST. These loopholes will benefit the rich more than the poor, and reduce the amount the government gets to spend on the less well off.

It’s better that Singapore enforces a flat rate of 7% GST on everything. The GST collected is then used to help the people with lower income, and GST rebates are given as well. Our approach is to have everyone pay GST but target the support to the lower income. This is more efficient. He promised to show me some figures the next time we meet.

According to Minister Shanmugam the top 20% income earners, companies, and non-Singaporeans pay 84% of the total taxes in Singapore to finance our $52 billion government budget expenditure. The rest pay only 16% of the total taxes. In other words, we are really depending on the top 20%, companies and foreigners to sustain an important part of our budget and government expenditure. This is rather shocking to me.

Still I pointed to him that the influx of immigrants is really sore point. Citizens are unhappy over the large number of immigrants. It is a fact that the government cannot ignore. I cited figures of nearly 1.8 million (include PRs) out of our 5.2 million population yet the government still wants to bring in despite the current figures. Minister Shanmugam clarified that this figure of 1.8 million includes people who work as househelp and construction workers. These are jobs that Singaporeans don’t want to do. There are many other jobs that Singaporeans don’t want to do, and we have no choice but to have foreigners come and do these jobs.

Minister Shanmugan acknowledged the widespread unhappiness over new citizens and immigrants. But he warns that a massive grey tsunami is coming to Singapore in another 15-20 yrs time where only 2 to 3 Singaporeans will be working for every senior citizen who will not be working. We need those immigrants in their prime to boost up the economy and support an aging population. I countered that with so many immigrants; we are diluting our identity and creating social problems. He agreed that there are problems but asked me to consider what will happen without some immigration. We will suffer serious decline in the future. He said that if the government was simply populist, the easiest thing to do will be to completely close off immigration. But that will affect our young people most by increasing their tax burden in the future, and seriously affect our economy, our jobs and livelihoods. He said that the government will have to explain these issues better. An aging population, and a declining birth rate will impose severe costs on Singapore. If we don’t deal with it now, it will be too late. He said that this is one of the most serious challenges facing Singapore, and we need to discuss these issues, seriously and carefully, as a country.

When I commented that bringing in more immigrants to compete for jobs with locals, he said that bring in foreign workers is to increase the economy so that our workers will get better jobs and better pay. He said that the statistics show that in the years when more foreign workers came, the salaries of Singapore workers grew more, because the economy grew well. Our employment rate is at below 3% and that is lower than many countries. We have tightened up on the flow of foreign workers, but as a result many companies are now facing difficulties and are very unhappy. He was concerned that if many companies are unable to carry on their business, then our workers will start losing their jobs as is happening in many places in the wrold. He also said that though companies bring in foreign workers, MOM has set up a unit to look into unfair practices. If Singaporeans are discriminated against, MOM will deal with it. I then quoted two of my Indian colleagues’ wives who could not get a job with NTUC cuz they preferred Chinese. NUTC recently went to China to mass recruit workers. Minister Shanmugan straightaway asked me for the full details of the two quoted cases. He would want to investigate. He again added that complaints on unfair practices can be made to MOM and MOM will look into these issues.

One of my colleagues came from HDB parking enforcement section. Many of us are aware that HDB shut down its car park operations and then outsourced to a sister company. The same car park enforcement officer is still performing the same job but this time under different management in the sister company with reduced pay and benefits. This is clear cut cost cutting measure tantamount to exploitation which he agreed. I told him that should not be the way. It’s an easy option out. It is also happening in other places such as airport SATs services etc. He said that he would send my feedback to his colleagues.

The Minister seemed taken aback when I told him that many Singaporeans are going over to JB to buy the exact medicine which is about a third of what it costs here. In fact, some doctors even encourage patients to procure their medicine supply from JB. He replied that he would look into it.

To my next question on why the government or CPF charges an “admin fee” when I use my own CPF to pay for my medical fees in polyclinic and hospital? Do I get charged for using my own money in the bank to pay for purchases? He will pass my message onto the relevant agency. He seemed to understand my point, and I won on that.

Minister Shanmugam’s PA kept reminding him of his 1.00 pm lunch appointment. With that, when it was late, he had to leave. I thanked him and told him that I will blog about this meeting.

I had prepared many questions but didn’t have the time to seek his enlightenment. Questions such as “Why Singapore could not produce world class brands or enterprises like Ikea, Samsung, LG, Assus or HTC?” Instead our economy is controlled mostly by GLCs and NTUC enterprises? Why do we only have SPH who is always headed by an ex-PAP Minister? These are persistent questions that need to be addressed by the government if it is sincere and genuine in the long-term interests of our country. Like what Minister Shanmugam says it will take him more time to answer them at another time till we meet again.

DISCLAIMER
“The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official policies, practices or opinions of SMRT or any organisation with which I may be affiliated.”

About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of SG. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I also share some of the interesting jokes, stories or anecdotes from my friends or observations on my blog. Thanks for visiting my blog.
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113 Responses to My meeting with Minister K Shanmugam Sc

  1. Expensive Price says:

    G – congratulations – seems like a productive, consultive meeting allowing the Minster to be connected to ordinary people without his vested minders intent on isolating him from realities on the ground. Hope this creates a new dimension of collaboration and shared destined. Maybe an island in the sun is possible despite the current “lord of the flies” present.

    • Well said. It’s an “Empat Mata” meeting with an assistant taking notes only. No holds barred dialogue where everything was discussed openly. I’ve written only a gist of what took place. The honorable Minister treated me as a true blue Singaporean with a stake in our country’s future sharing with me his concerns and challenges!

  2. allthatjazz says:

    the question now is — will we be able to continue to buy our meds from johor, now you have pechah lobang (ie he knows that’s how we try and save money)?

    btw, he gave you the same answers the govt has been giving us to the questions you asked. answers that we have found unsatisfactory.

    • agongkia says:

      Yalor,Gintai,you really pitcha lobang leow.
      What happen if one day they decided to make it an offence for bringing in medicines from oversea..

    • l says:

      agreed. actions always speak louder than words. we know they are now listening. the question is, are they ACTING on it?? case in pt: bt brown – listen listen listen but in the end, still go ahead…

      also, i note the minister’s point and argument on “a massive grey tsunami” coming and “we need those immigrants in their prime to boost up the economy and support an aging population.”… does the minister and his colleagues ever considered that boosting immigrants to support the so called “grey tsunami” will indirectly make the tsunami EVEN BIGGER?? if we are importing immigrants today at age 30 or 40, these group of immigrants will become 50 or 60 in 20years time and become part of the tsunami, isnt it?? in contrast, why not make our society less stressful, less competitive, more family-oriented so that young singaporeans can make more babies more comfortably and reduce the size of this tsunami??

      now before the, less competitive = doomsday argument arises…. i am not asking for slowdown to 0km/h or do the reverse gear… . i am asking to reduce the speed from 200km/h to 50km/h…

      maybe gintai bro can pose this qn to the minister in your next kopi session.. LOL!!

      • BS Detector says:

        “Grey tsunami”? Do you know that in order to get some of these FTs to stay with us, the government has told or allowed for them to BRING IN THEIR OWN PARENTS! What coming grey tsunami…

        Lots of FT grey tsunami here already!

        • The parents are given only “Dependents’ pass!”. The govt need not take care of them unlike our local greys. That’s the difference.

  3. Steven says:

    Gintai,
    I wonder if this a form drinking Kopi session with not with the men-in-blue but with men-in-white, but they all the same , which is to convince you of their own viewpoint, and that you are wrong but they are right. As usual, though they try their present themselves as likeable and affable, their excuse upon excuse of telling you that “Singapore is different” and using their selective argument don’t hold water.

    The pathetic turnout of supporters in the PAP hougang election rally where most of the heavyweight ministers were present already telling sign that PAP’s policies is wrong, what hoodwink are they still trying to give ? Or they are telling us that we Singaporeans are so stupid to see that PAP is the only party to rule Singapore. Hey, that could be the worst world’s record turnout of election rally for a ruling party . It is absolutely shameful and disgusting for such turnout that they are much better put their head in the sand like a Ostrich, but they have the thickest elephant skin ever to hold it on to produce more nonsense.

    What has Tony Tan done till today to deserve to be president ?

    • NUS Boy says:

      Which part of the post did Shanmugam use the excuse of “Singapore is different” and what selective arguments are you talking about?

      • Steven says:

        seriously did you only follow what is written here ? did you ever read blogs other than from here ? Of course, if you still insist that i’m talking cock, so be it … i rest my case.

        • NUS Boy says:

          Wah lao, i didn’t even imply anything, yet. You write excuses and selective arguments as comments on this blog post of course i will think you referring to what was posted lah.

          • l says:

            just to make this argument constructive,
            eg: minister pay – sg is unique and different.
            flooding and mrt breakdown – sg is same same as other country… nobody in the world is perfect.. no engineering in the world can save us.

            the list goes on..

  4. Steven says:

    Are these Men-in-White still trying to tell us that they still blur at public sentiment and what is going on in the ground ? How could that they not be blurred when they don’t even know what is the role of government and civil servant, and neutrality in Singapore ? to make money, and to serve the ruling party ? Ah,,, nevermind ,,,, money makes everyone blurs and blind … and … afterall our govt still believe that “the cure to corruption is more money”.

  5. patriot says:

    Personally, reading this article, me find nothing new.
    In fact, Singaporeans have gone so tired of the rehashing
    and regurgitation that many in Cyberspace had given up
    reading the Official State Medias. The State Broadcast mediums
    are breeding widespread skepticism and cynicism too.

    Like Steven above said, money makes many blurred and blind.
    If oni every citizen makes money lah, otherwise, the poor cannot
    acts blur and blind because their tummies will not go along.
    Instead, the people will become much more
    sensitive and suspicious of everything our MIWs do and say.

    As me had said to readers in an earlier Gintai article; for about
    10 years or more, intellectual and professional have been providing
    much information, view and suggestion non-stop 24/7 for
    everybody to note and digest in Social Media. THIS ARTICLE ITSELF
    IS ONE
    SUCH MATERIAL IN THE (NEW)SOCIAL MEDIA other than events
    held at Speakers Corner(Hong Lim Park) and at Voluntary
    Welfare Organizations.

    Much said, I am surprised that the 3 Gentlemen in this Article
    seemed to feel that they are dealing with something totally new.

    patriot

  6. Steven says:

    Gintai,
    next time those men-in-white ask you for kopi session, please don’t ever question them but let them question you instead, and your reply should be “What do you think ?”, and that should be your sole answer, and then ask them to move on to next question. And may you put their question and their answer here, and that is all you should do. Don’t waste time on them because it is not as though they are been here yesterday. PAP and its sycophants have been ruling Singapore for almost 5 decades, and there is nothing you want to do with them if they continue to live in denial, acting blur and wayang. Just don’t waste time on them because they will keep on justifying whatever answer you give to them. Leopard just never change its spots, and hello, and even Apple has moved on from leopard to Mountain Lion now and the PAP sycophants still want to stay on as leopard for status quo and can only live in their make-believe world. Let PAP continues its own path of destruction, and there is only so much that the public can tolerate.

  7. patriot says:

    Is there a need for kopi-session in the first place?

    OUR MEN-WHITE HAVE MEET THE PEOPLE SESSIONS
    OR DO THEY FORGET EVERYTHING AFTER ALL THOSE
    SESSIONS?

    Oh! Heard there is one who does not have to do MPS.

    patriot

  8. buroh-nya! says:

    Wayang wayang buroh.

  9. Ah Heng says:

    Gintai:

    Ignore the hecklers and the cynics. The fact that the Minister is open to dialogue with you and has expressed the wish to see you again, is already encouraging enough. Keep up the good work.

    • Ah Heng,
      As Singaporeans, we all love our country. We do not wish to see our country collapse and we end up as displaced refugees. Today, we are rich with billions of reserves and a strong SAF. If our economy fails and we can’t sustain on this barren rock of 700 sq km, no one will take pity on us. Lots of people outside this tiny red dot will clap their hands with glee if we fail! This is a cruel world where survival of the fittest still reigns. There is no free lunch in this world. We will have no place or avenue to turn to if it were to happen.
      Sometimes, it’s better to sit down and engage each other in a logical and cool manner rather than taking pot shots at each other without any desirable outcome or benefits for all.

  10. Sgcynic says:

    One question that came to my mind recently.

    Why is the CASE so pathetic in Singapore, effectively neutered after a PAP MP was appointed to head it years ago. Why does it not adopt a similar strategy like the NTUC to boost the membership base? Or for that matter, why does the NTUC not take up this consumer advocacy role since consumers and workers are simply a flip side of the coin? Maybe, it’s a question not for the government, but then again didn’t the government step in to appoint their own to rein in a growing voice then?

  11. Aaron Loy says:

    LG, Samsung and other Korean companies are very similar to large local companies in the sense that the government is heavily involved.

    Apart from that, why Singapore has yet to grow such companies is, imho, plainly because the government, despite its recent failures, is very efficient.

    Most entrepreneurial pursuits tend to have humble beginnings that’s borne out of desperation, need and/or inpiration. Don’t think we have much of those here.

    Then you have the aversion to risk & not being able to think big. The general social attitude towards getting a proper cert & job with good pay highlights that. I recently read an article about chalkboard, a mobile ad serving platform and feel that Singaporeans also throw in the towel very easily.

    Plus, we expect to be spoonfed.

    I’m not saying we should hold the powers to be accountable, but in the meantime, I find that the attitude of many very self serving, expecting everything to be done by the government.

    When you want to start a company, all the bets are on you. You can’t say the government didn’t keep employment rates low or that your parents didn’t teach you about growing up, etc.

    Most people can’t take that.

    We want the government to handle everything, from health to savings to investments.

    And then we complain when they screw up. LOLOLOL.

    Sorry…this starting to turn into a rant.

    In the meantime, thank you for representing us and asking the hard questions.

  12. NUS Boy says:

    Hey Gintai, are you going to meet Shanmugam again? From your writing, it sounds like there’s going to be a second meeting.

    • NUS boy,
      I expect that the honourable Minister will summon me for another round of engagement. He was quite unprepared last Fri when I met him in the sense that he thought it’s just a normal closed door meeting between us. He didn’t expect me to come prepared with lots of penetrating facts, queries, real examples and so on. He didn’t have all the figures on hand to counter and explain my doubts. He also didn’t expect me to write about it here!
      I was told by his assistant Henry that he would also go to schools to engage with the young. Recently, he was in SIM and ITE discussing current issues with them.
      It seems that despite him holding two ministerial portfolios i.e. FA and Law, he still took the lead to squeeze some time to reach out to the ground. That is the first step to getting direct feedback from the voters – those who put them to power, and stay relevance to the changing times.
      I will update it here if he has no objection on me documenting our meetings.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Please…..ask the minister on this case……..

    http://temasektimes.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/law-minister-defends-woffles-wus-lenient-sentence-a-fine-is-within-the-norm-of-usual-sentences/

    A fine is within the norm of usual sentences for elites, but for lesser mortals like you and me, it’s JAIL
    ‎1 country(city) with 3 laws.1st for its normal citizens,2nd for the Elite$,3rd for foreigners…

  14. lim.gary@rocketmail.com says:

    Gintai
    Keep up the good work. At least now we see some kind of “engagement” instead of the usual sniping from the ringside adopted by the MIWs and at their own turf. A simple meeting like that certainly improved their political goodwill. Hope more will move down from their ivory towers and witness the real stuff. However I am still not convinced over the unrestrained foreigners intake policy, it is leading us to a slow overboil, for which there is no turning back. At least we now that we are not treated as noise pollution by some duds.

  15. msia@msia.com says:

    this is much better than all those moron users who like to leave rubbish comments in yahoo (sg) website.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Our pop may be turning grey, but is importing massive number of FT the one and only solution??? This is where I find the ruling party is failing, they have no new ideas, but keep clinging on to one outdated and useless solution and keep trying to sell it to the people.

    • WL says:

      I agree with you. Singapore is not the only country facing a greying population but the only one to have gone overboard with it’s immigration policy. Always the same scare tactic – and I quote: “He agreed that there are problems but asked me to consider what will happen without SOME immigration. We will suffer serious decline in the future. He said that if the government was simply populist, the easiest thing to do will be to completely CLOSE OFF immigration” (emphasis mine).
      No one is saying we don’t need immigrants. It’s not about having immigrants or not at all. It’s about the numbers they let in, the kinds of immigrants they let in, it is the way they are going about it that we see as the problem. If having 1.8 million immigrants in the last decade or so is the minister’s idea of “SOME immigration”, then I fear for the future of Singapore.

      • I agree with you. It’s the quality and numbers of the immigrants that we are against. If we compare with other countries like Taiwan, we are really not doing much to encourage birth rates and raising young kids. I did ask the Minister if a new train driver is learning $1,250 before CPF cuts, how is he going to raise a family and pay for the $250K to $300K HDB 4-room flat? (Granted there are subsidies) We really need to look at our costs of living vs salary etc.

  17. Why medicines in JB are cheaper says:

    You can get your medicines much cheaper in JB simply because over there, they don’t pay ridiculous rentals like we do here. Lower rentals means lower cost of running a business, hence they can charge you less and still make a profit. Also, Malaysian employees do not need nor demand high salaries because they can get by with lower salaries. Why ? Cost of living in JB is much lower, and houses in JB costs a fraction of our HDB prices, so they do not spend a big part of their salary paying off their houses. In summary, the keys costs of doing business in JB (rental and staff costs) is much lower than in Singapore, hence their medicine can be priced lower withot impacting their bottom line.

    • george says:

      You are right. So Gin, when you have a chance to meet the minister again, you should ask him why cost of living is so high in Singapore. Ask him why, rentals are so high or have been allowed to shoot up when it basically determines the cost of everything from basic to luxury items.

      You appeared to have been side-tracked by his reply on GST. Basic essential items can be made non-GST or at least a lower GST rate of say, 1-2 percent. Such basic items can be clearly defined, eg rice, salt, cooking oil, infant formula etc. It should not matter even if hawkers and restaurants use them in their business since their use is self limiting and the final product/food is sold to all people. In fact, I think all raw food items and ingredients, medicine and supplements and transport cost should be GST-free as they are the absolute essentials to help keep people’s body and soul together in order to do things for themselves and ultimately to benefit the country.

      On why he decided to speak with you – he is evidently shrewd enough to see that you can be used to influence others; I believe you were formerly with the SPF or serving NS in MHA based on one of your blog; he was hoping that you would be more ‘reasonable’ as a result of having met him, a minister; you views can also be neutralized once you are seen to have been associated with the establishment; you reside in his ward (my guess), etc. Just remember this, although I would hardly think you need to be reminded, all politicians do things for an agenda of their own. It’s not so much you but his or their agenda that they are most interested in fulfilling. Not that I want to deflate your ego as I do find your blog quite an interesting and thoughtful read. I have no agenda in this respect, I promise!

      Please bear in mind that there is nothing he or his cabinet colleagues cannot speak clearly, frankly and honestly with the rest of the Singapore populations. If he can level with you, he can equally do so with the rest of the folks on this island. And, yes, in his 4-eye meeting with you, he had not and did not said anything that is any different from what has already been said by him and the cabinet publicly. Seen in this perspective, his main purpose was to target you for neutralization on their perception that your honestly written blogs can damage the govt’s credibility. One of your more telling blog was that one on your PR colleagues’ plan to maximize the system to their advantage by monetizing their HDB flats on retirement to their country of origin. So be mindful not to allow your principles to be compromised.

      • George,
        I don’t live in his ward. I live in Pasir Ris. I tend to agree with his explanation on GST – loop holes and abuse, difficulty of enforcing the exemptions etc.
        I speak as a Singaporean with a conscience. I still disagree with certain things but I respect the Minister’s sincerity and forthrightness.
        I understand his predicament and the greater challenges facing his party and the govt. He is clearly worried about ground sentiment.
        Don’t worry. I won’t be used by anybody. I am what I am. A locally born Singaporean who cares for the future of this country. Like I say it’s better to talk and discuss than take an antagonistic stand. Our leeway and options are so much narrow and limited by our tiny physical constraints and geopolitical position in this part of the world. We really do not have the luxury of huge hinterland, abundance of resources like Australia or New Zealand (where the sheep more than our population!) That’s all.

  18. subash pillai says:

    thanks Gintai for sharing this

  19. Ex PAP supporter says:

    Base on your meeting and discussion the PAP government is still going to bring in lorrys load of FT. What about the promise they made before the election? Slowly buy surely the only way is 2016. If even that fail then we can all say bye bye to the old Singapore and welcome chinapore indiapore and pinoypore. Bring in the worker for the lower end jobs and higher end one cause we cannot or dun want to do it why the bring in middle class to fight for the same job as our poly and Uni grad…

  20. allthatjazz says:

    both you and shanmugam are wasting your time to some extent. if shan wants to find out what pple are thinking, he can read blogs, comments, like the rest of us. he would cover a lot more ground in that hour he gave you than thru speaking to you.

    meanwhile, if all you are going to get is the same old same old in answers, and if you don’t offer counter arguments to his and push him to go beyond what we keep being given, it’s all so pointless isn’t it. all that’s being done is he’s trying to make his stance more credible, by using a blogger — You — who’s widely followed, to parrot his answers Yet Again, so these look more credible. you’re being made use of!!

    basically, one meets to Discuss issues, not to ask a question, get an answer and leave it at that. one side should question the questions, the other needs to be picking holes in the answers. (and there are lots of Big holes in the govt’s answers, such as his claims that MOM will deal with unfairness to spore workers. yah, sure.) unless this is done, and going by your account, shan’s answers were not dissected, and questioned, and argued agst, the whole exercise is so pointless.

    incidentally, his claim tt salaries grew most wen we had more foreign workers is BS. most of us are complaining our salaries have Stagnated over the last 15 yrs. salaries of lower wage workers have Decreased. and now, you get promoted, given more responsibility — without a salary increase! that translates into a Decrease in salary.

    sorry, but your meeting was as pointless as pple ranting about lousy foreign workers being brought in to work here, and then saying we should bring in pple to do jobs sporeans dowan to do. sporeans’ main bitch with foreigners is the Humongous Number brought in — in a Short Space of Time. worse, without the govt prepping the infrastructure for this flood. hence the probs your co is facing. anywhere else, and there would have been riots. here we just say, ‘Wait until 2016, then they see.’

    i agree with aaron loy’s points re sporean attitudes. ours Suck. big time. no wonder the govt is running roughshod over us. we ask for it!!! it’s like that alex fellow who pushed the old person on the bus. he claims he dislikes asking daddy for pocket money and then calls daddy the moment he gets into trouble. so much for his saying he wants to be his own man…

    we are all a bunch of scaredy cats, hoping someone else will do the dirty work for us; just like we turn to others to clean up after us. btw, plse, plse, stop calling the fellow “honourable Minister”. no need for the capital M, no need for the “hourable”. your using them makes you look like you’re grovelling. “the
    minister” and “Mr Shanmugam” is perfectly fine as references. so is the word “he”.

    good luck with your next chat with the man, if you must have one. do your homework, and go in with guns blazing, as he’ll have all his ammunition at hand to blow you away.

    • The fact that it regenerates so much comments and discussions here is not a waste of time. Your contributions here albeit a little emotional and personal do have some valid points. This will also show the ground sentiments to those in power. So you see not all is a waste of time. Everything will fall in place. Someone has to bring up a topic or target for others ie yourself to vent it out. If I did not blog on this, will you have your space here to air your views? Of course, there are other places. But now the fact you chose to spend some time articulating your views here may serve its purpose. Nothing is a waste. Especially if 10,000 views like yours are made here. One voice is nothing but if 10,000 or 100,000 voices that’s different altogether. Every small step counts be it positive or negative. You agree?

    • patriot says:

      Well said my fren!

      WHY ARE THE MEN/WOMEN IN WHITE NOT ENGAGING NETIZENS?

      Is there any valid and good reason for them to avoid netizens ALL THESE YEARS OF ALMOST A DECADE?

      patriot

      • Patriot,
        Relax lah. No need to shout. (Capital letters equate shouting)
        You are correct to say that that all these years, they treat cyberland as “noise”. They didn’t really bother. Now they understand that it’s important to reach out to netizens also. Recently, Acting Minister Chan CS http://publichouse.sg/categories/community/item/627-chan-chun-sing-the-price-of-politics also talking to netizens.
        We will have to face the cold hard facts and assess our options to argue our points. For eg I definitely agree that we shld have only quality new citizens and need to be controlled and moderated.
        I have learnt almost overnight that by shouting, screaming, cursing and threatening about 2016 etc won’t really help to solve our fundamental problems. If we feel that MIWs are lacking in ideas despite of their so many think tanks and scholars, then we offer them counter solutions or suggestions. Close up immigration is also not the option. It’s the magic numbers that we are disputing. If locals feel discriminated, then we shld bring it up like what I did and an investigation will be done to protect our locals.

        • Willy says:

          Dear Gintai, i would appreciate it very much if you would contact me via email to arrange a discussion. i’m glad you’re able to engage the minister evenly and calmly and would like to add some input and feedback to the next session as well as the current one. cheers!

  21. patriot says:

    Thk U very much Gintai.

    Me had been watching Aung San Suu Kyi on CNA and BBC the last 2 days. Very impressed and wishes very much that some of my Fellow Singaporeans could be like her.

    Hope we have one in the making here.

    patriot

  22. Remy says:

    Dear Gintai,

    Did the minister mention anything about the long term plan to deal with the declining birth rate?

    Converting foreigner will not be the good way to replace Singaporeans. Probably, in the short run we can do that to slow down the rate of the dip in the working population, however it would not be something that I would support in the long run. Singapore is never a hotel to me. However, the policies are increasingly making Singapore one.

    Now, Singaporeans like me has seen the effect of too many foreign talents, it creates inflation n wage suppression hence, leaving many young working or middle class Singaporeans like me has to delay baby plan until wages catches up or savings meets the target amount..

    I would be interested to know what plan does the government have in mind to increase birth rate. Mass immigration like what happened in the past 10 years will not be something I would like to see in the next 10 years…

    • I think he knows about this problem. PM just mentioned abt it here.

      http://temasektimes.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/pm-lee-it-is-crucial-to-have-our-population-and-integration-policies-right/

      “Getting our population and integration policies right is crucial to our social cohesion, economic wellbeing and sense of belonging. This is why we are encouraging discussion and dialogue on this difficult problem.”

      That’s what the PM said. Hope they will take into account of what we say here. Don’t bring in foreigners blindly and at the same time don’t do it at our own people’s expense like lost out in terms of jobs and housing etc

      • bigbears says:

        i think PM does not refer to or is inferring about tackling issues of declining birth rate. rather, his “population and integration polices” seems referring to immigration. like Remy, i’m not convinced that the govt had done all it can to reverse our TFR. empirical data and evidence might point that no country had ever manage to get back to replacement level, but that does not mean that we should not try to increase it back as much as it possibly can, like what we are doing to the GDP. even if we failed, at least i’m contented that govt. had made all efforts possible and i would feel more ‘song’.

  23. Joseph says:

    “We need those immigrants in their prime to boost up the economy and support an aging population. I countered that with so many immigrants; we are diluting our identity and creating social problems. He agreed that there are problems but asked me to consider what will happen without some immigration.”

    Your point was that we have too much immigration, and he countered with a rhetorical point about what happens if we don’t have some immigration? Doesn’t this show he (the government) is still ineptly or deliberately misrepresenting what our problem is?

    • WhatDoUThink? says:

      “Your point was that we have too much immigration, and he countered with a rhetorical point about what happens if we don’t have some immigration?”

      One could reply ….

      What do you think? What is the realistic growth % that the government has been talking about? What are the government strategy and actions in achieving it? Is adding foreigners the only strategy the government has?

  24. raymond says:

    Someone made the point about Gahmen not engaging Netizens. But I noticed every time a Minister opens a dialogue online with anonymous audience, sure within the next few lines, it will lead to obscenities, falsehood, swearing and emotional responses. Some totally bias and unfounded. Almost like graffiti. Of course there are some very good points. Like gintai of course : ) But most of them just want to shout down the conversation. Even this post will probably attracts all kinds of nasty responses cos they can hide under anonymous. Not very constructive when it is anonymous. Saddens me sometimes when I go into Temasek Review n others and see the standard of engagement. Temasek standard really going down and that will be real waste. I know some people are angry. But we need to do it properly la. I want to voice our displeasure and communicate also. But always spoiled by others who just go off tangent and lose the plot. I wonder if we are ready to do the matured engagement sometimes. Everytime we try to debate something, someone will attack personal matter. Or repeat the salary issue. Or use incorrect information or out of context quotes. We got to stay focus and debate them correctly if we want to hit them hard and effectively. My two cents’ worth.

    raymond

    • Raymond,
      Thks for your comments. Like I said to Minister Shan, I did not vote for them in the last GE. I voted twice for WP in Hougang when I lived there! I was encouraged by his friendliness even though I told him that. As a gentleman, he didn’t show any displeasure but proceeded businesslike to engage me in a wide ranging discussion and debate on the issues facing our country. He uses logic and arguments to explain and counter my doubts and reservations to his best ability. There is a statement he made which left a deep impression on me is that they all have our country’s future at heart. Singaporeans will always be their first priority. They will take care of all hard working Singaporeans not forgetting the weak and old. That is their job. Whatever they do is for the benefits of Singaporeans. They are prepared to listen and adjust along the way if there is a need to. But as a responsible govt, they can’t give in to populist demands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Gintai,
        I am no fan of this minister to begin with. I do not have good impression of him since last election. His views are elitist and are annoying. Talk is really cheap. Only action and result can convince me or even for me to rally behind him and his party. I rally doubt he can convince us that his unpopular policies will ultimately benefit the citizen. Has his unpopular policy that has been around for 10 yrs translate to happiness of the citizen? Don’t tell me that 10 years is not long enough for a long term plan to take effect.
        We have given him 10 good years to make things great. Please give us, citizen a break.

        How to write to you in person. I do not seem to find any of your email address.

        Remy

        • Ah Kow says:

          Ruling party want to stay in power. Hence the need for an appearance of dialogue with their opponents. I will only believe their sincerity when they slash defense spending (reduce NS to 1 year etc), impose taxes on rich people and multi billion dollar MNCs and then redirect the savings to finance universal health care for the worker.

      • The Pariah says:

        So after this ministerial meeting, will you vote PAP in next GE, Gintai?

        To quote you above: “… they all have our country’s future at heart. Singaporeans will always be their first priority.” Gintai, the MIWs have been saying this since 1965! And you are not born yesterdy.

        1G PAP (Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, Rajaratnam, etc): Believable.

        2G PAP (Goh Chok Tong), 3G PAP (Lee Hsien Loong), 4G PAP (with the current crop of new MPs from Tan Chuan Jin, Chan Chun Sing, Heng Swee Kiat, Lawrence Wong, Foo Mee Har, Gan Thiam Poh, Tin Pei Ling, Vikram Nair, etc, etc, etc): WDUT???

        • I vote according to the candidate. I don’t vote along party line. If that candidate is good irrespective of party I will give him or her my vote. That is my philosophy.

          • The Pariah says:

            Sure, Gintai, there are two facets to a MP: (1) At party level and (2) At individual level.

            I’d venture that the former level dominates because of each party has (i) political ideology and (ii) Whip for voting purposes that ultimately translate into the kind of laws, regulations and policies that party will advocate and/or effect for our country and our citizens.

            Eg, no matter how fervently Dr Lily Neo argues in Parliament in her capacity as an elected PAP MP to support her public assistance ideas because of her personal empathy with the dire plight of the underclass, she must nonetheless vote under party Whip even if an absurd law were to be tabled to, say, abolish social welfare. Unless she is prepared to be expelled from the party by defying the party Whip. Of course, there are ways to get around it by being absent when the vote is being called.

            Also, the time-tested adage applies: “Birds of a feather flock together.” Ever notice in the Botanical Gardens that the black swans don’t mix with the white swans? I’d venture that the Chen-Show-Mao types will not join MIWs based on the type of laws/policies passed by PAP Govt for past 30 years. Likewise, I can appreciate why the Tin-Pei-Ling and Gan-Thiam-Poh types will clamour to join MIWs.

            So how would your “philosophy” of “placing person over party” contribute towards changes in laws and policies (be it finetuning tweaks or structural revamps) in future? Surely, your MP is not – first and foremost – your buddy, Gintai?

          • Hi Pariah,
            I must admit that you have me cornered. Fortunately I’m not on the witness stand with you cross-examining me. I still maintain I’ll vote for the individual candidate. Assuming that if I were to vote in the last HG By Election, I would have voted for GY if he were to be fielded. I did ask around at my work place and neighbourhood. Many share the same view. GY is not my buddy but we do support him whatever others may say. He’s not perfect though. Nobody is perfect. If he had stood there, things might have turned out differently. This is my personal view. I hope you see my point – black swan or white swan doesn’t matter to me.

          • Ah Kow says:

            Dear Gintai

            I dont understand your enthusiasm for GY. He is a servant of the transnational elite. He, like many in the ruling party see the needs of the average worker in terms of billion dollar transnational financial institutions. He did not return to do grass roots poltiics nor has he done anything to renew the ruling party since his defeat at the GE. He did not even return to work for an NGO dedicated to development of poor countries. He did not join an organisation dedicated to alleviate the oppression workers.

            He finally went to work for a billion dollar entity. Is he a lobbyist for a super rich interests? We judge people by what they do and not by their sweet words.

          • just curious says:

            Gintai, supposing a good fren of yours is making lots of money in a fly by night bizness,
            will You Join in?

          • If it’s a fly by nite biz meaning illegal, I won’t join him. I won’t want to get involved. I will distant myself from him.

        • Ah Kow says:

          BTW…you did well to meet up with Minister Shan.

          • worried citizen says:

            well said bro. GY?”know your place in society” oh my oh my, just a mere small sweet words can turning you over? dearly me

          • Hi Worried Citizen,
            Like I said before we are not perfect. If u looking for a perfect being then I’m afraid u cant find. There is no sweet word or promises. I don’t need that. I’m coming to 50 yrs. I’m too old for sweet words or rewards.
            Based on what I see and hear, he is one of the best FM in the like of Rajaratnam. As a staunch Christian, he still supported the Nalanda project in India. I admire his intellectual prowess. He is a thinker. I’m not obligated to him in any way. We need a mix of doers, thinkers, diff ethnic groups and rank and file as a team to run a good system. One man alone can’t achieve much. MM was surrounded by selfless great men in the likes of GohKS, HonSS, Raja, Devan, Baker, LimKS etc many more in the civil service and stat boards which led to so much progress in our early yrs.
            I hope you now understand my position when I said what I said. I nvr even met GY. I hope he won’t give up public service but contd to contribute in other ways to Singapore. Thks for your comment.

    • pinkic says:

      “But always spoiled by others who just go off tangent and lose the plot. I wonder if we are ready to do the matured engagement sometimes. Everytime we try to debate something, someone will attack personal matter. ”

      applies both ways….. remember the “Nigeria scam” fiasco?

  25. patriot says:

    Well, allow me to relate my experiences with some Members of Parliament in their P65 Blogs.

    When I visited and posted comments there, I did not come across profanity, absurd claim and or extreme accusation. I never made any of the afore-said myself. I posted to about 5 of them about 3 years ago, initially, they responded. As the discussions went more in-depth, some allowed the postings without reply. Some unfortunately, totally moderated and not published.

    Until today, I am still not able to understand why. I even requested One to have the graciousness to publish my postings after he had moderated a few of my comments consecutively, but to no avail.

    Please tell me, how are we to engage them when they treated participant(s) at their own blogs liked they did with me?

    patriot

  26. patriot says:

    I also posted a couple of comments and questions to Ex-Minister George Yeo, the First Cabinet Member who started his blog to engage the people, at least that was the claim.
    But sadly, nothing ever see the light, they were never published.

    Engaging the People in White is not as welcome by them as some tend to believe here. Gintai went through 3 security checks when invited. Me was not specifically invited, but visited numbers of times and was absolutely ignored.

    Today, me am not going to shout. I will just assure readers that I am really really pissed off with many Men/Women in White thousands of days ago. If they did/do not have the time and answer to respond, they should at least published participants’ contributions and not treated us as though we were trouble makers. It was also very similar with the Official State Media.

    patriot

    • To get real genuine feedback, all comments unless insulting, racists or inflammatory will have to go through. To censor and del negative comments will affect the credibility of the the blog or site. No one would want to visit or post comments. That’s why I allow all comments even though they don’t agree with me. Thks.

  27. Pingback: Daily SG: 18 June 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  28. Our minister needs to investigate? This shows that they don’t really know what is going on in the other departments. It may not be their fault, but it’s clear that they need lots of feedback channels to fully appreciate what’s going on at street level.

    • allthatjazz says:

      doc, there Are feedback channels. quite a few. and they include comments which rre measured. one may not agree with some points made, but the arguments used to back up those points are logical. they set you thinking.

      it boils down to whether one wants to read what’s in them or not. if pple are not already reading the feedback being offered on the slew of sites now, will they read if there are more feedback channels? errr what do you think? u reckon shan might be reading the comments in this blog? or at least delegated a minion to do so and give him an overview?

      btw, gintai, i don’t think my posts are emotional. if they are, how does one then rate/describe the cussing and scolding posted as comments on some other sites?

    • Toothfully,
      You have answered your own question. That is why he invited me for a frank discussion. He knows I will be direct to the points on issues brought up reflecting the ground sentiments.

  29. patriot says:

    “Nothing is a waste. Especially if 10,000 views like yours are made here. One voice is nothing but if 10,000 or 100,000 voices that’s different altogether. Every small step counts be it positive or negative. You agree?”, unquote.

    Indeed! Had Gintai not blogged about his meeting with the Minister, I would not have recall(ed) the past experiences with the People in White. Though in a way it had haunted me, I did not talk about them. Thanks to Gintai, I am reminded about it, I actually tried hard to explain to myself, why the Rulers treated me as non-existent. Rightly or wrongly, I was asking myself who am(was) i? A mere plebeian trying to engage a ‘gau kuan'(high ranking official)? Should i not had considered my station in life? Should i not know that me (was)am no honcho, academic or successful biznessman? How can i questioned them, how dare i ‘bo tua bo sway'(lack of manners) with them though i am(was) older? And be reminded, me did not use any offensive word.

    How many other Singaporeans were/are treated like me? I dont know, maybe others can come in to share.

    Now, some People in White invite individuals for coffee when they can have open dialogues and get more spontaneous and fruitful outcome. Why this so, is bewildering me and probably many others as well. Somehow, some ‘gau kuans’ have been removed from the Cabinet and me am optimistic that more will be cleared when the people see through them.

    patriot

  30. redbean says:

    All Singaporeans can buy a HDB flat? Does the minister know the exclusion clauses in HDB rulings? An inclusive society does not rule out any Singaporeans. Ask him why are the singles and higher income Singaporeans excluded from buying HDB? Why should the higher income be punished and made to empty their pockets to buy private which is not cheap? And to rub salt into the wound, new citizens can buy and profit from this scheme while true blue Singaporeans have to suffer for it? Many who find it so painful to empty their savings or did not have enough are furious with the govt for being treated as outcasts, victims of the HDB rulings. And many are renting and have no place of their own in their own country.

    Is this a right thing and a good thing to treat our own children? The country cannot discriminate against its own citizens for any frivolous reasons.

  31. The Pariah says:

    Good to be critical-thinking, Gintai. Always be wary of wayang-wayang from Pay And Profit (PAP) Govt. Black can be explained into white, if you know how.

    PM Lee, Economic Society of Singapore Annual Dinner, 18 Jun 2012:
    “… limits are tighter than many people realise” for us to increase social spending.

    Previously, they say our SWFs’ investments earn average annual return of 17% (Temasek) and 7% (GIC) since inception over past 35 years. Assets Under Management of Temasek (US$150 bn approx) and GIC (US$250 bn to US$300 bn guestimate).

    “Tight” – So what happened? Gintai, maybe you can ask the minister: “WDUT?”.

  32. The Pariah says:

    Read what Law Minister Shanmugam said about Waffling Woffles Wu’s $1000 fine: “I was told by AGC that there was no evidence of any money being paid, there were no repeated offences, as well as a few other possible reasons.”

    1) “No evidence of any money being paid” – Is Police incompetent in nailing down evidence? Is Attorney-General inept in phrasing charge to infer payment?

    2) “No repeated offences” – Waffling Woffles committed SAME OFFENCE TWICE – viz, 2005 and 2006. Does Attorney-General and Law Minister have a special definition for “repeated” for people in high places?

    Gintai, how much credibility would you place on words spoken by such a man? Minister Shanmugam is a legal eagle, not a parrot, eh?

    Sembawang GRC voters are easily enamoured by Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s swift one-liner responses to their e-mails – that’s part of Khaw’s “charm” offensive to some but it is revolting to others. Is one’s soul for sale? If so, how much, eh?

    • I think that fella ought to be charged under Sec 182 Cap 224!

      “False information, with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person

      182. Whoever gives to any public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false, intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, such public servant to use the lawful power of such public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person, or to do or omit anything which such public servant ought not to do or omit if the true state of facts respecting which such information is given were known by him, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.”

      AGC shld file an appeal or relook into the case.

      • The Pariah says:

        Ahhh …. Gintai, do re-read to comprehend the evolutionary morph of a Legal Eagle into a Parrot-In-Residence at the Attorney-General’s Chambers in case you are next invited to those august chambers for a change of meeting venue.

        Minister Shanmugam said that Waffling Woffles “was charged for abetment because the actual info was given by Mr Kuan. Dr Wu didnt give the info and could not be charged directlyfor giving false info.”

        Waffling Woffles knew when not to open his beak so as not to make his quivering wattles droop further. Enough bird shit droppings to go round, as things stand.

        • But Mr Kwan is not the registered owner of the vehicle. Only registered owner is required to furnish driver’s particulars. Where can Mr Kwan furnish the particulars on his own accord if the registered owner did not do so? Doesn’t make sense.

          • The Pariah says:

            Precisely, Gintai – that’s why I say in the other comment: Ask DPM Teo who as Minister for Home Affairs is in charge of Police (although previously Prof Jayakumar was both the Law Minister as well as Home Affairs Minister – and so was K Shanmugam until Foreign Affairs Minister Georgie Boy lost in Aljunied GRC in GE 2011).

        • The Pariah says:

          Gintai, I dunno about your idea that AGC should “file an appeal or relook into the case” as that would be a breach of case protocol. In case DPM Teo should be the next minister to invite you for tea, you may consider it apt to ask if the Singapore Police Force under DPM Teo have different procedures for different people, depending on whether you are a hot shot (or are a pal of a hot shot).

          Pls don’t waffle – Be ready with another question if DPM Teo were to ask you: “WDUT?”

  33. redbean says:

    Gintai, tell him no more craps of higher income first timers adding to the queue. Those who really can afford to go private will go private. Those who want to buy HDB mean that they cannot afford private even with their higher incomes. There are not many of them compare to the hundreds of thousands of new citizens adding into the queue.
    What are these young people defending when the govt deny them the right to home ownership in public housing? The queue cannot be long if the govt builds enough flats.

  34. theonion says:

    Gintai

    All I can opine for the case you just commented on S182 is be careful what you wish for,
    Once the precedent is set, this applies across the board irrespective of whether it is family members for each other or even among friends.
    Further, the Road Traffic act does allow for imprisonment so it would be interesting to see the rationale behind the sentence.

  35. Chaozhouzi says:

    Reading comments here, I would like to relate my own experience:
    I had tried to see the MIW at MPS. The sycophants interviewed me first, deemed that my case merit his attention then was referred to him. Though I requested my particulars not be broadcast it was ignored. The next day the power that be called my mobile about the matter I had related to my MP. I had also tried to elicit responses from my 5 MPs through email recently, hoping to engage them regarding my dispute with the TC but was stonewalled.
    As for medicine, I am on heart medication for the last 6 yrs. The drug sold at NHC is much lower in cost than those at the polyclinics. When I highlighted this fact to the CEO of the
    polyclinic, she claimed that they are separate company and cost is different as NHC purchased in bulk. Hello aren’t both in S’pore and are GLC as well. As I had been discharged from NHC, I can’t go back there to buy the medicine.
    Sorry Gintai, allow me to response to sgcynic. Isn’t it NTUC that setup CASE? the fellow in charge of CASE is from NTUC and MP/ex-MP

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:BYaokvf2-6UJ:www.case.org.sg/downloads/central/12%2520April%252004%2520-%2520CASE%2520responds%2520to%2520BT.doc+Case%27s+former+Executive+Secretary,+Mr+Ivan+Baptist&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=sg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potong_Pasir_Single_Member_Constituency.

    The gahmen had a hand in CASE from day 1.

  36. l says:

    aiyar… i feel gintai bro has done a good job to provide a starting platform to air views…

    whatever the case is, whether you believe this is genuine feedback or just a wayang show, at the end of the day, this is what is going to happen:

    the govt will do anything they want to do.
    ST can write anything they want to write.
    internet will also write anything they want to write.
    and the people will also vote anyhow they want to vote.. this is democracy..

    just as justice must not only be served, but SEEN to be served… i’m sure mr k shan is very familiar with this…..in the same way, real improvements in ppl’s lives must not only be implemented but must be SEEN to be implemented and experienced by ppl…dont need to say so many things one… ppl know what is happening in their everyday lives…..and in the end, dont say: ohhh i feel so hard done coz i implement so many good policies in my tenure in office but nobody appreciates me and cry like a baby… welcome to the REAL world of politics…

  37. george says:

    The govt has a hand in ALL NGOs that would have the potential of a large following and therefore pose a challenge in relevant issues. For example, CASE, AA and of course the unions!

    In the hands of truly independent consumers’ advocate, the AA would have posed a huge obstacle to the govt favourite money spinners like the COE and ERP. An independent CASE would not have allowed GST to float up as the govt likes it or allwo the hundreds of consumer related issues to be swept under the carpet.

  38. crythebelovedcountry says:

    Honestly, I do not see how new migrants will help in our greying population. With each new migrant, he bring with him 2 parents (unless he gives up everything including his parents back home). How will this help us in our greying population? MIWs have been stating for the umpteen times that new migrants, better economy, more jobs for SIngaporeans. But from what I have read, it doesn’t seem like the case. The whole problem arise because of poor planning. They only saw an instant solution to a problem but they do not see the problems attached to an instant solution. A great example is the MRT saga.

  39. Hi, Gintai,
    You’ve done a great job. Maybe the the next kopi-session should with the PM….he is the boss!
    Good Luck!

    • Hi Mr Cabby,
      Thank you for dropping by. One day I may have to join you. It looks like only “taxi driver” job is still exculsive for citizens. FTs have not penetrated this area yet.

  40. Roaring Lion says:

    Hi Gintai,

    If you ever meet our law minister Law K Shanmuga again, please let him know the following issues and problems:
    1. The priority employment for locals.
    2. The intention of foreigners taking up Singapore PR without becoming citizens.
    3. The impact of foreign talent giving up PR and withdrawing CPF.
    4. The avoidance of PR serving national service.
    5. The dependence of oil for electricity when clean energy can be considered.
    6. The ex-PAP member run company, EM Services to manage our town council without benchmarking with other companies’ credentials.

    Thanks!

    • Of course, I will. I have frens, relatives and neighbors who are as concerned as you about prospects and a stake in this country. We want our livelihood. We want to earn a decent living for ourselves and family. It’s as simple as that if ONLY they can see thru all the sound and fury here. That is all we are asking for. We are not asking for the moon or a bed of roses so to speak.

  41. raymond says:

    If we apply noone (regardless of race, language, gender and religion) should be above the law and that we should not have double standards when applying the laws, then we should be caning the Sticker Lady by now. I say let’s cane her. Ok, no caning for ladies (weaker sex?). Let’s jail her then! What you think, gintai? Why are we still debating and lobbying? We didn’t debate when it was a foreigner or a less educated vandaliser?

  42. Tiger Lee says:

    Looks like through a coffee session and giving standard template answers to Gintai, Shanmugam has successfully converted an opposition supporter and blogger.

    • Not really. I still maintain I will vote on the standing of the candidate irrespective of party. There is another 4 yrs to go before a decision will have to be made. Whilst the clock is ticking, those aspiring to stay in public office are working as hard as possible to win over hearts and minds. It’s nvr a simple black or white answer my fren. I’ll decide on my available options when it’s time. I’m still open to either sides’ persuasion.

  43. Keep it up says:

    Gintai, I am glad you are going about in an objective way to discuss issues with the minister. As long as you are Pro- Singapore, I personally don’t really care if you are pro white or pro blue or pro whatever. However, I read many comments here and I see many people have already concluded that those in white are the axis of evil, and damn if they do, damn if they don’t. They think that by voting MIW out, all problems will be solved. I believe in criticising when it should and give credit when it is due. MIW is NOT perfect, but, they are not all out to do Sporeans in….but many posters here think that is so. Keep up the engagement my fellow Singaporean!

    • Thank you for your comments. After that watershed GE2011, they have more or less sensed the sour mood of the ground. I could feel and sense at close range whilst engaging in the intense Q&A, the to and fro of arguments with Minister Shan, his worrisome preoccupation with the bigger picture and challenges yet having to placate an unhappy populace. It’s not going to be easy for them for the next 4 yrs.

  44. John says:

    Regarding the 84% of spending paid for by the 20% top earners, this can and should be interpreted instead as the huge income inequality here.

  45. patriot says:

    Indeed, Alex had done a very good
    piece about it.

    patriot

    • I have read and replied on his blog. He is very sharp and analytical. Actually it includes everything but I didn’t state clearly. I’m referring to the 84% taxes. What the Minister was saying that locals pay only 16% of the total budget of $52 billion.

  46. Ang says:

    Gintai, first of all thank you for writing this blog which I very much enjoy reading, and for expressing in words what many of us think or say only to friends.

    Good for you for getting to meet Mr Shanmugam, but I have to agree with the others who say it sounds like he is just trying to convince you why the government is right. Yawning Bread’s blog post on taxes is exactly right – that 84% statement is something that sounds good without telling us anything useful. I would also add that GST is almost universally seen as regressive – if Mr Shanmugam has lunch with one of his constituents earning $1k a month, and they eat the same thing, they pay the same amount of GST on that lunch but the GST amount will mean much less to a minister earning $1m a year and someone earning $12k a year. So “GST to help the less well off” doesn’t make sense, and the offsets are only temporary or one-offs.

    The bottom line is, we pay lower taxes (especially income tax) than in developed countries, but that does not make up for the much lower wages – at the end of the day, does a train operator in Singapore have a comparable standard of living to a train operator in (for example) the UK, Germany, Japan, let alone Switzerland (remember the “Swiss standard of living” goal)? I suspect not.

    Part of this is a result of wages that have been depressed through government policy (the tri-partite system, open immigration, no minimum wage), but it is also because the cost of living is high – and a lot of that high cost of living is also because of government policy: HDBs are supposed to be subsidised public housing but are pegged to the “market” (which is led by the government), “public” transport makes a tidy profit for its shareholders (again, the government), our compulsory savings subsidise government spending/investment and the salaries of connected insiders (GLC senior management and directors). So aren’t these hidden payments to the government a form of taxation as well? In any case, none of this is “first world” governance; in fact as Christopher Balding has pointed out, a lot of the value that Singaporeans produce is taken up by the government and the GLCs – when we take the MRT, the GLCs benefit, when we shop at NTUC, the GLCs benefit, when we buy a car (if you are lucky enough to afford one), the government benefits from the COE, when you buy a HDB flat (again, if you are lucky enough…), the government gets to top up its “reserves”.

    It is a separate question worth pursuing, where this value produced by the nation is going, if not to the improvement of the lives of Singaporeans – and it is hard to escape the conclusion that the low standard of living the average Singaporean has, is somehow subsidising the small group of elites who benefit from the system – the GLC senior management, directors, senior civil servants, ministers and business owners. For the record, I am not against capitalism at all – I just think current policies have failed to address the massive inequality in our country and in fact have contributed to making them worse, and that many facts which we deserve to know have not been made clear to us.

    • I agree there are many deep rooted bread and butter issues for the govt to look into deeply – not just the surface. More need to be done. The wide income gap is a serious issue that need to be addressed. They will have to work hard on it. Thks for the comments.

      Below is extracted from here

      http://dotseng.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/networking/

      “One day I am going to write a book about the Singapore blogosphere.  Now this is not going to be your run of the mill IPS or Cherian George comatose inducing, “why did I decide to be an academic instead of a real journalist.” This will be a blockbuster. It will definitely out sell those sappy love stories I write by acres of paper. 

      Somewhere in this book. There is a chapter prosaically entitled, “PAP’s ten lost years in Absurdistan.” That is exactly what happened. For ten long years PAP did not know how to communicate with netizens – they had absolutely no idea what to do except what they have always been doing since independence lah. That’s why when you look at their return on investment and energy in all their efforts to neutralize the net – it’s a pretty lousy innings. But that is sadly what happens when a hegemony, institution or even a firm doesn’t have a good feel of a thing. It can only confound them and stress out their way of doing things.

      We were watching all this. And at some point, it dawned on us, the PAP had no idea how to respond to this emerging social political blogosphere – so what they did was, they collated data and statistics, we know this. But our lips are sealed. But all this only added to the fog of war instead of beaconing out the murk. It may even have lulled them into a false sense of security that what they were really dealing with here was an inconsequential collection of shrills from the wilderness – like a couple of misfits fighting over who won the football world series in 1965. I think that emboldened them to reinforce failure. They believe they could punch a hole through the wall of noise in blogosphere and still get their message across – but they couldn’t. What disturbs even today is what we are witnessing here is a complete breakdown of the response system in officialdom – there was no sense of urgency to understand this thing called the social political blogosphere beyond data collection and very rudimentary analysis – such as character profiling (oh this we know as well lah) – again all this only served to reinforce the PAP’s belief – we have this matter under control.

      But what stupefies is HOW these series of failures to scale the problem accurately and to respond to them effectively was virtually non existent in PAP’s game plan. Some of us were alarmed by this – you see it is very dangerous to play the game, when the other side doesn’t know how to play the game – when the rules of engagement are foggy, it is very problematic – that I think was the point when we realized, it was best to pull the plug from the intelligent Singaporean. Most people do not not realize this, but the exit was a well choreographed curtain call. This time we did not participate actively. We merely watched as our stat counters dwindled away – but yet nothing happened. The PAP for some reason couldn’t find a way to reinvent themselves to prosper in the digital age.

      I think many years from now when our kids have all grow up and when we realize teeth are not supposed to last beyond 60. Many of us will read this chapter called the ten lost years of PAP and laugh out loud – in the way we probably laugh at people who think that lobotomies and radioactive whitening cream was as good as mothers milk. Because the real irony was the PAP did not really have to go through 10 years of mumbling and wondering how they should best deal with the emerging social political blog scene. All they had to do was to make a face to face connection.

      Face to face met is the gold standard. I mean, I mixed with farmers in the Internet long before I was actually farming. I even visited their plantations. My point is, there is only so far you can go in the Internet to foster anything meaningful, if you want to keep your mask on. Even those who elect to remain anonymous online realize the limits of having a meaningful discussion under those conditions. They know it only too well for very obvious reasons – but how do you defeat anonymity? Do you treat it as a character flaw like perpetual masturbation in the way the PAP did towards anonymous voices that regularly criticized them in blogosphere? Now if you do that, then in my book, you’re not giving the conversation a chance. Perhaps a wiser thing to do is to start by respecting the idea of privacy and personhood and to create enough trust to even pitch the idea “Hi, I want to be your friend.” I think Facebook did certainly without a shadow of doubt ease PAP’s transition into the digital realm. – it was a very congenial platform that brought a lot of netizens face to face with each other – but I don’t believe that PAP had to wait for Facebook to knock on their door before responding to the challenges of the social political scene – they could have responded earlier – and I really think they don’t fully appreciate what the cost is when a hegemony falls so far back in the game for 4 to 5 years. The cost for Singapore, has been monumental. The only reason why it doesn’t seem expensive to us is because we are so accustomed to seeing a gain or loss in terms of financial metrics such as GDP and GNP. But when you consider the cost of how slow the PAP were at getting up to spend with managing the new media; and how that led them to bleed good will and trust. Then it is easy to understand why this was really a game changer of PAP – as Internet years are like space year, one year is an eternity, one year on earth is just a year, but in space time that period of time could well be 59 years or life time depending on how close or far you are from a black hole. So Internet years should be seen in those terms to truly appreciate what PAP lost in those ten years.

      My point is PAP could have gone off line and just picked up the phone and said, “I am throwing a BBQ, do you want to come?” They could have done that through a liaison officer like when we project into distant and faraway galaxies in our own game – we create a I get to know you and you get to know me better conduit – and through that platform PAP could have made meaningful connections. I think many years from now, another generation of Singaporeans will learn from this brief timeline in our nations history. The lessons will be powerful and instructive – try to connect face to face – sit down for a meal if possible, don’t make it official. You don’t even need to talk about politics, it could cars or football – you just really into the conversation about this whole idea of how we are all barreling like a bullet train into this brave new world and we are still stuck on first gear playing police and thief – surely, there must be more to this! I mean this doesn’t even make sense does it – all we are doing is working towards a better tomorrow in Singapore. Yet why is there so much grief and strife? Regrettably these thought provoking questions could only have transpired in a face to face conversation. A conversation that never took place for ten years. Now the conversations seems to be in earnest. Everyone from Andrew Loh to Mr train driver Gintai is suddenly having a conversation – all seems to be well huh?

      Not quite, look closer…..you don’t see it do you? Do you want to waste another ten years?

      I really don’t want to hold out. But I must. However, I will say this. Whether there are any measurables to be gained from having a conversation is not important – the most important thing is connecting first. The rest will come after that. Of that I am very sure. But you’ve to be the one making the effort to connect first.”

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