20140519 Tony Tan’s half-truths and misleading statements

In his presidential address in Parliament, Tony Tan boldly predicted that “Populist measures will weaken Singapore”. It is actually an outrageous statement, unsupported by facts and figures, which Tony has mistakenly assumed Singaporeans will accept as the gospel truth. Tony’s opening address confirms it is extremely difficult for the hearing-impaired PAP to be cured.

Populist measures such as increasing the number of public housing units, increasing the number of public hospitals, etc help ordinary citizens. It is therefore absurd for Tony to claim that helping Singaporeans will weaken Singapore.

Increasing the number of public buses, university places, childcare centres, etc are also populist measures. These are necessary now because government policies have been skewed in favour of the wealthy for decades. Government policies are the cause of our high GINI coefficient. Tony should not think that ‘populist’ is a dirty word.

Tony Tan has hinted to Singaporeans that the government will continue with its non-populist approach in order not to weaken our country ie huge population increase, growing FT intake, (PM Lee thinks increase at a slower pace is acceptable), etc.

Tony Tan’s message rings hollow

The cause of all our problems is due to the PAP’s insistence on running our country with profit-making as the only objective; the welfare of citizens is secondary. Dismantling Singapore Inc is the solution but Tony’s ‘cheong hei’ speech only attempts to pull wool over citizens’ eyes. To most of us, his message rings as hollow as a drum.

Transparency and accountability, bigger issues sidestepped

What about improving transparency and accountability? Since becoming president, not a word on these issues has been mentioned by Tony. All his talk of strengthening society’s safety nets, inculcating values such as empathy, filial piety, giving substance to (PAP) voices from the OSC, etc. is simply hot air. All issues cannot be resolved when transparency and accountability continue to be ignored.

Education

On education, Tony imagines he is able to resolve decades-old issues pertaining to Primary 1 registration and the PSLE. Maybe another committee will be formed? He talks about having more university places and creating more opportunities for ITE and Polytechnic students. At the same time, the government will continue to provide hundreds of millions in tax dollars to, and inviting, foreign students to compete with Singaporeans who are allocated less public resources! It should be obvious the government prioritises global ranking of our tertiary institutions above citizens’ interests. Tony believes that by disadvantaging citizens, the government is somehow helping us.

Home ownership a big lie

Tony says a key strategy of the government is to promote “home ownership”. In Singapore, public housing is not owned but leased from the government. The fact is “Ownership” is a myth and has been clearly explained by Goh Meng Seng. Singaporeans must wake up to the nonsensical HDB/PAP definition which is not only misleading but a lie. The government controlled media has been so successful in propaganda that most Singaporeans mistakenly believe we are able to ‘own’ a HDB flat. In reality, we have been owned by the PAP.

“The government will continue to keep housing affordable..” is another statement calculated to mislead the public. If housing has not been affordable, how does one “continue to keep housing affordable”? Many Singaporeans I have spoken to have commented that the PAP loves to “talk cock, sing song”.

Healthcare

With regard to healthcare, Tony does not address our main concern ie hospitalisation. In the event of an unexpectedly huge hospital bill, families may have to resort to selling their property/many experience financial hardship.
The objective of Medisave is questionable; it cannot be used to buy hospitalisation insurance for 100% coverage. Most of us are not even asking the government for handouts but yet forbidden to help ourselves. As for the lower income, the government has refused to help them to purchase hospitalisation insurance to give them peace of mind. What I suspect is the government is using the $40,000 in my Medisave account to speculate in foreign stock markets eg shares in Philippine Metro Pacific’s hospital unit.

The short term PAP only looks at monetary returns. Our health does not provide such returns. To rub salt into the wound, the government explains there is limited public resources and a very mean minister insisted there was a need to  implement Means testing, arbitrarily of course. To invest millions in a foreign hospital is fine to the PAP but when it comes to helping citizens, the PAP finds a thousand and one excuses not to do so.

With regard to the impending increase in premiums for Medishield Life, Tony says the “premiums will be affordable for all”. Coming from the PAP, “affordable” will likely mean the opposite. You can bet your last dollar the increased premiums will be another PAP-created issue.

The PAP has yet to provide any solution. Citizens should bear in mind that it has only PROMISED to do so. A person of average intelligence will know that citizens are being misled into thinking there will be sufficient hospital beds in future.

In “MOH 2012 COS speech helathcare 2020”, the ‘20(/)20 vision’ was to “provide 3,700 more hospital beds over the next 8 years” (point 26). Take a look at the chart below to better understand how short sighted our government is.

From 2012 to 2020:
– the number of elderly Singaporeans will increase by about 120,000.
– the present 450,000 pioneers will also require more healthcare needs when they will be older.
– the population will also have increased by about 700,000 to about 6,000,000 according to the PWP’s target of 6.9 million.

The additional 3,700 hospital beds are way off the mark. The government is resolving yesterday’s problem and will tackle tomorrow’s only when that day arrives. This is the reality of how our government works.

Such ‘long term’ planning guarantees to take us back to a more overcrowded square one.

Don’t lecture Singaporeans on how to treat foreign workers!

Typical of PAP politicians to display their maternal instincts, Tony advises Singaporeans to treat foreigners “with graciousness, kindness and fellowship..”. Such motherhood statements are best served as reminders to Tony’s party.

Singaporeans do care about migrant workers as evidenced by the work of Transient Workers count too (TWC2). Formed by Singaporeans in 2004, it has helped thousands of migrant workers. While migrants workers were abused by the employers and greedy agents, the government stood by while controlling 100% of state resources but acting ‘blur’. Belatedly, Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) was set up by the government (NTUC nad SNEF) 5 years later.

Foreign workers such as town council cleaners continue to be fleeced by their agents to pay the first 2 year contract commission of $12,500. With a starting salary of $600, no off days and medical leave, their salaries are insufficient to support their families back home. Town council cleaners therefore need to extend another 2 years but are then required to pay ‘agents’ $5,000 for the extension. The TC operation manager insists that the commission of $5,000 has to be paid and many have been sent back as a result of not paying the ‘agent’.

Why did the TC manager tell the cleaners they need to pay an additional $4930 when it costs only $70 for the extension at the MOM?

This issue was highlighted to MP Zainal Sapari, TC Chairman of PR-PTC and director for NTUC Unit for Contract and Casual Workers, in a TOC article in January 2014.

The facts in the article should warrant an investigation by the CPIB.

If Tony is serious about regaining some of the lost respect, he could use this case to bolster his public rating. Otherwise, lacking any moral authority, Tony should not even attempt to lecture Singaporeans on the treatment of foreigners.

Upholding constructive politics?

Tony says “it is crucial to maintain constructive politics that puts our nation and people first”. Can constructive politics be maintained when:

– all statuory boards have been politicised to benefit only the PAP?
– there is little/zero/selective transparency in the government?

There cannot be any constructive politics when instead of engaging them in healthy/vigorous debate.

Tony should advise his party to first walk the talk and put our nation and people first, not PAP.

Pioneer Generation Package

Tony says the Pioneer Generation Package is “a sincere expression of appreciation for the sacrifices and contributions of the pioneer generation”. The fact is most of the money set aside for the PGP actually goes back to the government in the form of CPF contributions!

The three components of the PGP are MEDISAVE top-ups, MEDISHIELD LIFE subsidies and outpatient subsidies. Notice money gets channeled back into the government but this is considered a “sincere expression of appreciation”.

On the issue of outpatient care, increasing discounts does not necessarily make it affordable, say, for the cardboard collector or a homeless person. Even if more elderly Singaporeans start seeing the doctor, there is no increased manpower costs to the government ie medical staff are not increased. So expect longer waiting time at polyclinics soon.

Tony has only parroted the details of the PGP for another round of propaganda about our ‘caring’ government. Thinking citizens should ask themselves if they can trust the PGP which was not debated in Parliament and no figures of breakdowns were disclosed. It appears the PAP has implemented the PGP to coincide with the next election.

Conclusion

Tony Tan’s presidential address in Parliament not only fails to inspire but is insulting to ordinary Singaporeans. In typical PAP talk down approach to citizens, Tony prefers not to address the the more important issues of transparency, accountability and our CPF hard earned savings being transferred into GIC.

Tony is merely parroting what have already been disclosed by the various statutory boards and politicians. His imaginative speech contains no original thought, an abundance of half truths, motherhood statements aplenty as well as misleading ones.

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