Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rallying a Nation....can wait!

The last thing you want to do is give a speech to an audience whose mind is somewhere else. Good thing this year's National Day Rally is postponed to Monday otherwise Singaporeans will be faced with a tough choice of watching a table tennis match live vs listening to the most important political speech of the year by our PM. The Chinese team (representing China :-)....) has the No.1, 2 and 3 players in the world so it will be an uphill battle for the Singaporeans. Between the two events, I had actually prepared potato chips and Coke for the National Day Rally because I think it will be more uplifting....really can't wait....

It is about one year since MM Lee told us we are in a golden period (Jul 2007).

MM Lee has great powers of prediction but I think he forgot to tell us that period was to last only for one more month before the subprime crisis struck and sank the global economy. Last week when he said something about things getting worse, for unknown reasons, I suddenly felt a lot better. With things getting worse, I guess PM Lee have to step up to the plate to say how he intends to face the new and old challenges for our nation.

Encouraging Singaporeans to make more babies. Ha this one is really difficult. In the 80s, MM Lee was highly concerned that graduate moms were not producing enough babies and we were losing all those good quality genes. Priority was given to children of graduate mothers in school etc. Unfortunately people mistook his good intentions for some kind of evil discredited eugenics theory and reacted badly in the elections. The govt decided to reverse those policies....and thank goodness they did otherwise A* might have lost more than half their scholars who were reported to be living in HDB flats. Some remnants of these policies remain and I'll get to them a little later. Singaporeans don't want to have more children...why? why? why? Life is so good in this world class globalised city shouldn't we do our duty as humans to deliver more of mankind to this wonderful city? Are Singaporeans just selfish? They want to enjoy life unhindered by the burden of having children? ....Er how come the Malaysians and Europeans are having more children, is it because they are poorer than us? Is it true that the rich have money and the poor have babies?

While it is true that very poor nations have high fertility, there is no correlation between GDP and fertility rate once GDP gets above US$10,000. So why does our birth rate continue to decline, despite various govt measures:

Tax Incentives and baby bonus. Today Singaporeans get a $20,000 tax rebate if they have a 3rd child. This rebate has to be used over 5 years is not meant for the average Singaporean who does not pay so much in income tax. In the baby bonus scheme, the parents have to be rich enough to put money into an account to get matching funds from the govt. When I first saw it, I thought - "here we go again, govt giving money to high income earners who don't need the money to have more children"....but no lah... our govt has a compassionate heart, they doing this so that the average Singaporean will not burden himself further trying solve our nation's fertility problem. See how considerate our govt is to average and poor Singaporeans...they are shifting the burden of child bearing to the higher income. In being considerate and compassionate, our govt has created a challenge for itself by trying to solve the problem with less than half its child bearing resources. If we truly believe that everyone, regardless of his parents' income, has a fair chance of success we should encourage every to have child not just one segment of our society.

Going Swedish..... Recent reports in our papers hinted that we might be going Swedish to boost our birth rate:

"All parents get 13 months of leave, and continue to receive 80 per cent of their pay - with the cost borne by both the state and employers. On top of this, they can opt for another three months, though they will get just $40 a day during this time. " Straits Times Report Jul 08

"Oh my, if companies have to shoulder this burden, they will hire more FTs for sure!!" - Lucky Tan

I'm sure that if they implement what the Swedish have, our birth rate will shoot up. However, with such a large part of our workforce imported, our employers who can have ample supply of foreigners will not foot the bill of paid leave or loss of productivity resulting from the leave. What will happen is unemployment among Singaporeans (which is an unpublished statistic today) will simply shoot up from one unknown level to another unknown level. I'm really curious about how Swedish the govt will get and whether we will be selectively Swedish like the tax incentives given out to the higher income.

Narrowing the Income Gap. Yes, here we go again. The gap has grown when the economy boomed and will be growing even faster when the economy falters. It has been more than 10 years since the problem was first identified. So far the formula to addres this has been more worker retraining, blame the global competition for the gap and explain that imported labor has nothing to do with the gap. Maybe if we drag this problem long enough, people will start getting used to it so it won't be a problem. ....the resident sleeping at the bus interchange is now a PR, I don't even blink when I see Singaporeans digging the trash ...I getting used to that 70 year old cleaner at the hawker center. I guess its a matter of getting used to so I expect the PM to give the usual treatment to this problem - welfare is a dirty word, retraining and more retraining is the need for social safety net, no need to revise our tax structure, no need to improve labor laws to safeguard our low income workers.

I hope PM Lee will also take the opportunity to remind us of the dangers of Western influence such as support for human rights something our society will be much better off without. He will probably explain more about this idea of an inclusive society in which nobody should feel left behind....a far superior idea compared with the chaos of western style democracy. He will talk about this openness in our society which allows for a diversity of views to be expressed. You can express your diverse views via the ST Forum, Feedback Unit and at meet-the-people sessions. Your views will be taken into account along with the views of others, processed, categorised and fed into govt papers and eventually govt policies. Many Singaporeans must have expressed their views that the GST has to be increased, that there should be means testing for hospitals, that CPF Life is good for us, that massive increases in ministers' and top civil servant's pay will be good for Singapore. See how well your views are taken into account in the formulation of major policies in this inclusive society. I really encourage you to meet and share your thoughts with your MP at meet-the-people sessions....say what you want and feel included in our society. I'm sure our PM will talk about how open our inclusive society is during the National Day Rally.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lucky Tan,

again you have struck the heart of the matter.....the gahmen can implement this Swedish policy(for the sake of appeasing the citizens and winning votes)but without actual policing of employers to ensure they conform (remember the National Wage Council's "recommendation" to MOM that employers should award a one-off pay package for employees to tide over the stagflation.....but needless to say no company did that or just simply "act blur"??), no employer in his/her right mind would follow....especially since there are VIRTUALLY NO penalties at all if they don't do it. Our very Employment Act ensures that any welfare policies are doomed to be ignored blatantly by employers from the start!!!

Furthermore, just like you said, there is such a massive influx of FTs that employers can simply say "So what? I cam always hire someone from India/China/Philippines to avoid all these and at the same time reduce my overhead and increase productivity and screw the so-called local to foreigner workplace ratio because I know MOM will NEVER check nor sanction me for exceeding this"

Everywhere I go (except in government bodies).....I see FTs occupying, and sometimes even exceed, half the positions....almost every Singaporean I talked to express abject disappointment in our gahmen's FT-friendly policy.

To PM Lee who implored Singaporeans to be big-hearted towards FTs, I have to say that the size of Singaporeans' hearts are just the same as everyone else's....they are the size of a small fist. Also, obviously your job can never be undermined/undercut/threatened by a FT so of course you welcome them.

Lucky Tan....if you ever run for elections be assured that a lot of Singaporeans will definitely vote for you (I know I certainly will!!!!).

This has already happened to a Malaysian blogger names Jeff Ooi (hope I get the name right) who succeeded in winning his ward because he was brave enough to stand out.

We need a hero like you Lucky Tan. Please save us all.

Anonymous said...

Singapore Kopitiam has replaced the now defunct "'s Alfresco Coffee Shop" at Delphiforums.

Singapore Kopitiam can be reached at:

Onlooker said...

One needle poke see blood.
:) good one :)

Anonymous said...

Nice article.

This Pap government will never get its priorities right---it serves its crony and the "foreign talents" first. Citizens won't get to enjoy the fruits of GDP or the reserves in Singapore, male citizens can enjoy their NS stint. Women just bear more kids to pay and pay.

Sing to the tune of Mee Siam Mai Hum.

Anonymous said...

"But the English speech is embargoed, so please don’t tell your friends and family my jokes," Mr Lee quipped.

You Joker, look forward to more Mee Siam Mai Hum.

spin doctor said...

The lame PM knows that the foreign import table tennis team will rally the nation better than he can !
I have mixed feelings watching China B team vs China A team.

I will drop my pants if mee siam mai hum can rally anthing, let alone rally a "nation" which he has no idea what it is all about.

Anonymous said...

let's see how he rally more babies. it seems the contents is the same old stuff: baby, foreign talents and internet. same old shit that aint't convince or be solved.

What else is new? His paycheck.

Kin said...

Why do we even bother abt the speeches? We r better off watching The Dark Knight again tonight! Can any of you tell me when our NDP and rally messages were ever inspiring?

It's all abt bracing ourselves, geez...I've been bracing myself of over 20yrs...w-t-f- for? I'm still the minority that's too poor to be a Quiter and too dumb to be an MP. But i'm rich enuff to watch The Dark Knight twice.

More inspiring thinking why Joker said to Batman “I don’t want to kill you. What would I do without you? You complete me,”

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, the Chinese A team versus the Chinese B team. Exactly what I was thinking! And they never said they lost the gold. They said they won the silver. What a joke!

Anonymous said...

I have been out of job for many months. Last week, I went for an interview for a IT job. There are 3 applicants at that time, a Myanmars, an Indian and myself. I lower my expectation to 2.5k but in the end I did not get that job.

So much for FT bring more jobs and will not lower our wages.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, you asked "how open our inclusive society is during the National Day Rally"?

It is as 'open' and 'big' as Hong Lim Park.
Now, 5 (not even the size of a fucking saf section) gathering is considered illegal, they might consider increasing this number by 1 every 10 years. How long does it take to reach a fucking saf battalion?

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 7:57pm,

if you tell both MM and PM Lee this, they would only say: "Go upgrade yourself la!" or "Still cannot find job? Then lower your asking pay la!". Simple.

Meaning that it is your own fault that you cannot compete with FTs.

What a wonderful response which only our elite ministers with world-call pay can make.

Anonymous said...

For once, a new policy which I see will benefit a group of our women.

I will hire a local-middle age-true blue-stop producing babies-Singaporean women as admin staff if I need one.