Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Issues Singaporeans want PM to address during National Day Rally.

Today on 93.8Live, listeners were asked to call in to say what topics PM Lee should address during the National Day rally...I have provided the standard PAP model answers along with my own comments for each of the topics:

1. Why so many foreign talents? Are they really talents? Can we limit the number or implement Singaporeans-first policy?
The issue that cropped up most often among the callers was the Foreign Talent issue - about 70% of those who called in.

The PAP has standard answers for this question. Foreign talents help to keep the labor cost down. They take up jobs that Singaporeans do not want or don't have the skills for. Without them, businesses will go somewhere else in search of cheaper labor. We cannot implement Singaporeans-first policy because that will limit the flexibility of businesses to hire people. Imported labor keeps Singapore competive.

If you're not tired of listening to these standard answers, you can hear them again at the National Day rally when our PM speaks. At the end of the day, whether this policy is good or not good, it is how much it benefits the majority of Singaporeans who are workers rather than business owners. Before we go further lets put things into perspective - our foreign talent policy is not a normal one, it is a policy on steriods. The PAP govt carried the FT policy to its extreme with about 30% of our work force made up of foreigners higher than all developed nations. Such a high % makes us dependent on foreign labor and the policy irreversible because of this dependence.

Importing cheap foreign workers in such large numbers result in many distortions. We are told that it is necessary to get cheap labor to keep Singapore competitive. This is not true. Singapore is an expensive place to do business high rent, high utilities (2nd highest in the word), high cost of transport (ERP, COE) and high cost of various govt services. To keep the total cost of doing business contained, cheaper labor is imported to keep this component of cost down so that the rest of the cost can remain high. Much of the rented space is owned by the govt or its GLCs that benefit from the high rent. The distortion is quite incredible - a foodcourt where each stall can cost $8000 to rent per month and the income of cleaners there can be as low as $600/month. Very few countries suffer from such a huge rent-income differential (if you know, tell me).

This policy has hurt a large segment of the population. It has caused structural unemployment among older workers who find it hard to get a job because employers can always import younger workers. It has worsened the income gap and increased poverty in Singapore.

2. Is it possible to have a minimum wage?

The PAP standard answer for this is it will cause unemployment and cost of business to go up. Their standard alarmist answer is businesses will pack up and run away.

My view is the PAP has pursued policies that caused the income gap to balloon and a large segment of the Singaporean workforce to have such low wages that implementing a minimum wage will cause problems down the road. The PAP has created a situation that makes it hard to implement a minimum wage because we have an economy with so many low wage workers. Full explanation here.

3. What will the govt do for the old? What can the govt do for the poor? Safety nets?

The standard answer is govt cannot afford to take care of the poor, old and sick. The govt cannot afford safety nets. If it implements schemes to help people in need, it will have to resort to higher taxes. It is better to rely on philanthropy and charities (such as RenCi & NKF?) to take care of the underprivileged (Read PM Lee's speech on this idea here).

It is not true that taking care of the weakest in our society will result in higher taxation. For a start, taking care of the old and sick probably only requires our existing annual budget to be properly allocated to where it is needed most rather that other forms of spending such as grand buildings, rebranding campaigns and overspending in other areas. Talking about taxes what happened to the $5B surplus in 2007 from the GST increase that was meant to help the poor - maybe just doing what it says, the govt can go a long to solve these problems. The strange thing I observe is Singaporeans like to migrate to countries with higher taxes,minimum wages and more comphrensive safety nets. ....why?..

On Sunday I suggest you tune in to the live broadcast of the National Day Rally. Listen to what PM Lee has to say and think hard about the issues. As a citizen, it is your responsibility to do so because at the end of the day, you have to cast a vote to decide on your future and your children's future (not the best estate upgrading plan). You have to decide if the PAP govt has the right solutions for problems Singaporeans face or a better solution is possible. You have to decide if the PAP govt puts your interest first or does it put other interests above that of ordinary citizens. If PM Lee drowns us with the worthless standard answers that we have heard so many times, he won't be worth 1% of the $3+M we pay him every year.


Anonymous said...

Wow. U seem to have a lot of time for MSM.

Btw, u realise the policy makers scored A in *republican trickle down" economics? the reason they scored A being ... they memorised real hard.

Maybe in 10 years we may have change. Assuming Obama does not mess up and we have new econs textbooks.

LuckySingaporean said...

When it comes to the PAP, the only thing that trickles down is the pain and poverty. ...

Anonymous said...

They have the utmost luxury to give standard, model answers.

Doesn't really matter what the audience think or feel about it.

Most important is that these are and will continue to be implemented and the nation is peaceful and politically solid as a rock.

Not many govts can afford this luxury because they are not unique like Singapore.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Whoa, I was not aware that the foreign talent policy was the primary issue among so many people; I thought it only pertains to certain industries.

Thanks for highlighting this, Lucky.

sgcynic said...

If I'm free, I'll watch the rakky to see what faux pas he makes this year. :)

Anonymous said...

They hardly ever mention or highlight the most important component of high cost and that is rental.

And who reaps the most benefits from the high rentals? It is all tied to land cost of which the Government is the biggest benficiary.

Wage cost can come down to any level because the Government does not suffer any losses, but not land cost. So, on the one hand they keep on pushing up rental and land cost and workers have been made to bear the burden of the increasing cost by receiving lower wages.

Anonymous said...

"The standard answer is govt cannot afford to take care of the poor, old and sick. The govt cannot afford safety nets. If it implements schemes to help people in need, it will have to resort to higher taxes."

Don't need to implement higher taxes, just cut off the pension scheme for the Ministers who are now active in the parliament. Why give them a salary + pension. Make no sense.

The main point is that their pension is quite a high component of their multi-dollar salary package. The amount saved can definitely give a decent payout for the old and poverty.

Anonymous said...

The mass influx of foreigners these few years have affected everyone including ironically the foreigners who had came much earlier.

10 years ago I have classmates from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and all get along well with Singaporeans. Because there are so few of them, they put in the effort to integrate.

Nowadays, tensions against foreigners run high because of overcrowding and competition. Their massive numbers also mean they are socially self sufficient - they can stay here forever without knowing much about Singapore by sticking to their own countrymen and enclaves.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 16:27

Dun worry! When our population reaches 7 million, we will be in the minority and the tension against the locals will run high.


Dun worry! The locals will vote wisely. I believe one celebrity once commented wisely that when rape is inevitable, just relax and enjoy it lah. New playground better than No playground (and still get screwed).

PS: Read Prisoner's Dilemma

Anonymous said...

@Anon 16:48

I doubt local will get the chance to vote wisely consider the rate of the govt giving citizenship to maintain the 66% majority status quo.

Onlooker said...

I will be looking forward to another mee siam mai hum, mai hum, mai hum moment actually :p
And hopefully he can finally see the crux of the crutch mentality on cheap labour and the societal ills that it bring forth but considering most of the fat cats are feasting on the cheap labour to win garment bid for infrastructure contracts.....
If only he could acknowledge the FAILURE of the job credit scheme then the possibility for resolution of the problem will begin.
What to do? it happened.....

Anonymous said...

Some running dogs will be busy talking about fussy Sinkies, instead of their master's inflated rentals.

A leopard can't change its spots.

Anonymous said...

Rentals in Singapore are grossly inflated, and rental contracts nowadays all have deliberate escalations upon renewal, regardless of the economic climate.

We are now in the worst recession in our history, and retail rental has escalated, instead of dropping significantly. The only rentals to drop are office rentals and housing rentals, where tenants can vote quickly with their feet.

Not surprisingly, our salaries all have to be depressed, in order to keep business costs at a constant.

Who is really benefitting from these massive rentals we have to pay for retail space?

BTW, i am starting to see more and more people shop for fruit at roadside vendors. They pay no rent, their fruits are clean and shoppers usually get a good deal.

Anonymous said...

If you stop importing FTs/implement minimum wage, businesses will go bankrupt etc... etc...

Big deal, there were plenty of business models that became unsustainable when slavery was outlawed.

Boo hoo.

Anonymous said...

The social problems we had is many . If we dont face it now instead with the rubbish media keeping a tight-light on it , it will just keep growing until the day when the pressure cooker simply exploded .In term of dynasty regime , that is called decay ....Who die ? Of course the Citizen ....

Kaffein said...

Very good post, Lucky.

There isn't much to answer. So standard answers will suffice. Just enough to keep the 66.6% happy and voting them in.

What scheme did the PAP help to actually make it easier for people who have been retrenched easier? Wage credit scheme. Did it work? Guess nobody dared to ask. See here.

It was just a filmsy covering hoping the world's economy recover fast and they can start banking on the trade imports/exports and claim credit to themselves during elections. And 66.6% will be suckered into it.


Anonymous said...

What do u expect these people to do than to use what they know best which is the model answer and rote
memory way to distinction in exam ?
Take away LKY and the rest don't know how to think. It is that bad and many Singaporeans are not aware of the dire state they are in.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, no need to listen to the rally already said what the crown prince is going to say...

But of course minus the mai hum...and also so motivational slogan like "Nobody will be left behind" ..GST to help the poor...

Prowni said...

i think our over-inflated defense budget (benchmarked with countries in ou region) could be allocated to other pressing needs.

Anonymous said...

Allowing influx of cheap foreign workers are supposed to bring down cost of living due to low wages but instead cost of living seems to be heading higher- hawker food, petrol,sundries etc. Where are the benefits ?

Anonymous said...

FTs policy is not accepted by most singaporeans becos there are not enough spin stories to support it.

Stereo type answers in rally message, if you have not read the scripts do not assume that the answers will be that predictable and dull. One must give the man some credits.

7 million population, when the hdb flats are redeleveloped as it eventually must, to the pinnacles at duxton model, the country will have capacity for 20 million. Those that think we will stop at 7 million are believing in an illusion, why should the PM's pay stops at 5 million when it has room for 15 million? Think outside the box, 7 million is only the short term target. The franchise and royalties, the sky is the limit.

Anonymous said...

Very sad. Also no better alternative. Seriously given the the type of our opposition standard, how to vote for them?

Maybe next election we should just cast spoilt votes in great numbers to protest! To tell PAP and to embarrass them to buck up. Don't take voters for granted due to weak opposition.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 23:22

I think you are a pap dog pretending to be anti-pap. hee hee, aren't you? your intention is to neutralize opposition votes...

your are sooooooo smart hor...

Anonymous said...

In 15 to 20 years, Singaporeans will be the minority in their own country like Dubai.

The problem is Singaporeans are not rich like Dubai citizens and hence won't be respected or feared by the foreigners.

A lot of Singaporeans can only study until "O" levels or ITE as their places in JCs and polytechnics are given to the more "talented" foreigners. We already seen this happening with university places. Those who have the money will study overseas and never come back again. The rest of the Singaporeans will be reduced to scrap jobs like security guards, newspaper delivery, taxi drivers, etc. They will depend on government handouts like workfare permanently. SAF will increase the reservist call ups since it is so cheap to get Singaporeans back.

Anonymous said...


pse give urself $4million for the great answers!

much better value than the $3million we pay pinky,prataman, etc etc. who can only tell u we can't do this, why can't do that.

in life, we hate those who are negative but strangely we keep on voting the negative pap every election.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Tan,
you forget to mention that important word that describe the whole cyclic event. It is called Chain Reaction.

Anonymous said...

"When it comes to the PAP, the only thing that trickles down is the pain and poverty. ...

- lucky

priceless :-)

Anonymous said...


It is quite clear to everyone here and thus quite clear to PAP too (since it has the fiscal statistics), that the PAP govt has sufficient budget surplus to implement the above 2 policies and that this will not bankrupt Singapore and that most importantly, this will appease most Singaporeans, and cut off one of the best ammunitions of the opposition.

Yet, PAP would rather Singaporeans continue to moan about the lack of these 2 policies and the oppositions to keep using these 2 points to attack it.


You must try to understand the reason, if you want to fight your enemy. And this is the reason. LKY has very CONSISTENTLY harped on this point when he was PM (rem the grad mother scheme?). If you really go read hard enough, you will realise that this is the one and only reason why these 2 polices will never be implemented so long as he is around:

"Free education and subsidised housing lead to a situation where the less economically productive people in the community are reproducing themselves at rates higher than the rest. This will increase the total population of less productive people"

So, instead of having minimum wage and welfare so that lowly-educated native Singaporeans can raise a family, PAP would rather these people not raise a family!!!

Get it?

It has never been about not having enough budget to cater for these 2 welfare. It has to do with eugenics. It has always been about eugenics.

If you have "enjoyed" the above quote, there are more here

Anonymous said...

The strange thing I observe is Singaporeans like to migrate to countries with higher taxes,minimum wages and more comphrensive safety nets.

That is because the higher taxes at countries like Canada translate into greater social safety nets.

Though on the surface we pay lesser income taxes but don't forget the government make money on all fronts, public transport, mainstream TV and newspapers, property (captialand), pay somuch in CPF relative to other countries but get nothing back soon(recent cahnges), etc. You name it, but we get almost nothing back.

In fact, their revenue from monopolistic GLCs, together with ERP, COE may earn more than direct taxes in places like Canada.

At least places like Australia and Canada, the higher direct taxes, like insurance premiums translate into protection or greater social safety net when sick and old.

No one want to spend his life working only to give back to government when become sick in future.

Anonymous said...

Lucky wrote that in USA, the lowest worker doing the lowest job earns S$2000!

I wonder how many Singaporeans are AWARE that after 20 years of education and finally getting their university education, their starting pay is no better than that of a toilet cleaner in USA!

I wonder how they will feel, when they become AWARE of this fact. Don't tell me they are going to argue that living cost is cheaper in Sg than US?

Anonymous said...

> On Sunday I suggest you tune in to the live broadcast of the National Day Rally. Listen to what PM Lee has to say and think hard about the issues.

He will simply say what I drafted for him several months ago. You can listen to it here first. LOL

Anonymous said...

If it implements schemes to help people in need, it will have to resort to higher taxes.

They always uses Econs 101 to con people into accepting their arguments, I remember got one feller said that now GST is 7%, you want GST to increase to 10% to have free public transport.

The issue is we have never ask for free transport. We only ask for risk free profits to return back to us in the forms of lower transport fares and not morph into Temasek(or Comfort Delgro) and later disappeared into western banks.

WL said...

The government will continue to do what it has been doing all along. Besides, the leaders and senior civil servants are not being affected. Change will only come when the PAP is in danger of losing control.

Clear eyed said...

Dear Lucky

You have shown us once again that we have wasted and are still wasting hundreds of millions of dollars every year on the bunch of clowns living it up in their ivory towers. They do not have the solutions to the problems Singaporeans face because they themselves are the ones who create the problems in the first place. Singaporeans are indeed masochists, continuing to vote for them to exploit and abuse us. No wonder the clowns, in a rare moment of insight, brand us "Uniquely Singapore"!

Anonymous said...

If you are Singaporean and you have voted for PAP because you were afraid ...afraid of your rice bowl ..afraid of this and that are wrong are not afraid are cowards. And not patriotic... and stupid too.

Anonymous said...

the usual thing he will say
just like the NDP, year after year.
I actually watch to catch any
impromptu offguard comedic moments like the previous Mee saim mai hum.
More funny than candid camera.
Come to think of it, he is better
being a comedian than a politican

Anonymous said...

Casting spolit votes is a no brainer and is just as good as a vote for the PAP.

Don't be mislaid by the argument.

Anonymous said...

If you have seen the oldies crawling around at the hdb estates and mrts, you will understand the rationale of having the fts here to rejuvenate our ailing demographics which is the result of the failure in our stop at 2 and many such policies in our formative years. Becos our policies have failed terribly, we need the fts policy to repair the damage do had the govt not meddled with population control, we may not need the fts at all today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lucky for a very good write-up...I am a fan of your Blog.Lots of your article make more sense those that I read on the local Media...

Anonymous said...

"Lots of your article make more sense those that I read on the local Media..."

Last time I heard Kway Teow Man shut down his blog abruptly, and not even accepting any farewell comment. Obviously his nonsense and rubbish is affecting his kway Teow business as no sane human is patronizing his kway teow stall fearing that they will start sprouting nonsense and rubbish too.

Good for kway Teow Man to shut down his blog. His kway teow business might start prospering again.

Anonymous said...

"running faster, working harder: repairing the care" is a 15 min video explaining health care underfunding in Canada, British Columbia. In the video, Dr Pollock mentioned education, employment, welfare, healthcare and housing are interdependent political decisions for the solvable problems of ignorance, idleness, wants (poverty), disease and squalor.

Quicktime link:

Windows Media link:

Sadly, Singapore has gone further down the privatisation (profit-driven) road than UK. E.g. Free education for FTs but driving out Singaporeans, cheap foreign labour competing for jobs at all levels, no welfare, KPI-driven restructured hospitals, "market-subsidy" HDBs. For healthcare in Singapore, the "sustained under-investment" to orchestrate a "crisis" did happened. The show is now repeated for the Minister of Health's solution for elderly care.

So sad that the film above describes exactly how things are in Singapore. I have seen healthcare from the insides of both restructured and private hospitals. Patient care is compromised based on the standards set by local nursing training. Most common reason is that nurses in Singapore are overloaded (e.g. 1 RN : 12 or more patients in Singapore compared with 1 RN : 4 patients in Australia).

Due to corporate policies, we cannot let our patients know the truth. Instead, it takes a concerned patient's kin to raise issues. "Are Hospitals Safe?-What killed my dad?". It is a shame.

LuckySingaporean said...

Thanks for the link.

I remember the case for "Who killed by dad very well". It was reported in the papers and there were letters in the forum.

Anonymous said...

@Lucky 7:39

Well, I seem to recall that you prefer public hospitals ...

soojenn said...

Appears that the PM is looking to overseas Singaporeans for feedback? wonder if they really want to have real feedback?... perhaps you DOASM can join this to give the feedback you have eloquently put in your blog -

National Day Rally, 16th August 2009

National Day Rally - PM Lee Hsien Loong makes THE speech on Sunday 16/8. Log in with your FB account to share your thoughts as the PM is speaking. The site will have Live Streaming of the speech so you can be wherever to watch it and comment. (Go to the link given and download the software if you haven't already done so.) Alternative - read the Blogs..., follow the production team's Twitter (Reach_Singapore) to take part in the polls.

6.45 pm Malay and Mandarin
7.30 pm Intermission
8.00 pm English
(all times are Singapore time)

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