Dear Pritam Singh
I have been wondering why WP let PAP off the hook when it could have rallied its supporters and spoken up at CPF rallies in 2014.
Weren’t thousands of your constituents likewise affected by the CPF issue?
Judging from the crowd at CPF rallies, the CPF issue was a political hot potato and could have been the beginning of the end of PAP. Yet there was an eerie silence from your party.
If the CPF rally had been allowed to continue, there would have been more scrutiny by the foreign media which have the resources to dig out “too many” embarrassing hidden investments in GIC.
PAP was caught off guard by the unexpected CPF rally turnout and was in fact clutching at straws. Instead of buckling under pressure, it managed to play its cards right with a lawsuit from PM Lee, conceded to a 20% lump sum withdrawal at age 65 and we were back to square one.
Based on CPF statistics, a back of the envelop calculation puts the 20% lump sum at about $1 billion. Would the PAP have ‘given away’ $1,000,000,000 if it wasn’t desperate? Does the WP understand the significance of PAP’s action and the once-in-a-lifetime missed opportunity?
What Roy and other participants at the CPF rallies have achieved must have put all elected MPs to shame, including WP MPs. If private citizens could force the government to return $1 billion, why did Parliament fare much worse?
I have also been wondering if elected WP MPs were privy to certain information and did not want to open a CPF can of worms. We should not pretend that all is well at GIC because the PAP does not conceal information simply for the fun of it.
To a layman like me and thousand of other Singaporeans, the CPF and Ponzi schemes are pretty much similar. The government needs to clarify this with transparency but has never done so.
The CPF Ponzi scheme has grown dangerously large, increasing by $115 billion in less than 5 years.
CPF balances ballooned from $207 billion in 2011 to $322 billion in September 2016.
In any democratic country, this would have set off alarm bells. But this issue is still of no concern to WP today?
A Ponzi scheme run by an entity could go unnoticed for decades but it would eventually be discovered when faced with unprecedented redemptions. However, one that’s run by a single-party government could go on forever because it could delay redemptions (CPF withdrawal) forever.
CPF tweaks are a means of delaying redemptions, aren’t they?
With the second key to our reserves safely in the hands of a Malay PAP MP next year, no one will know the true extent of investment losses, realised or otherwise.
There are many glaring issues with the CPF scheme and PAP can’t simply attempt to paper over the cracks which have now become a sinkhole.
Can paper over CPF cracks?
The CPF scheme is such a complete failure that necessitated PAP to sneakily amend CPF Board’s “Mission” in 2011 to include other objectives. To remove evidence of the original “Mission”, all CPF annual reports prior to 2011 were removed from CPF website. link
Have our super-talented scholars resolved any CPF issue by playing with words? If all is fine with our CPF investments, why did the government do things on the sly?
Every amendment to CPF rules has only one objective: trap more retirement savings into GIC. Why?
Seriously, if the government really wanted to address members’ concerns, the only way it to be transparent and not treat us like idiots. CPF article
How did a country with the highest percentage of pension contributions end up with the highest percentage of elderly cardboard collectors and cleaners in the world? Why are most ordinary citizens unable to retire despite setting aside between 30 to 50 per cent of our monthly salary for 3 to 4 decades?
The flawed CPF scheme will always remain an issue requiring an urgent revamp. But raising issues on transparency through Parliament will NOT work. This is because our “demoncratic” system has more than 90% of MPs who do not believe in transparency and accountability.
What you really need to do is bring Parliament to the people – highlight issues unaddressed by PAP at Hong Lim Park. Don’t continue to allow PAP to walk all over you in Parliament with their half/non replies.
It has worked for the CPF issue and will work for others as well. Bring every issue into the glare of the international media to ensure meaningful changes are implemented, not half past six ones.
You and your colleagues like, Leon, Daniel, Ting Rui, Li Lian, Faisal, etc can really make an impact but not without a strategy change.
It is not the domestic media which the PAP fears but foreign ones. Because PAP has painted a utopian Singapore to foreigners, it can ill afford to have this image shattered.
Forget about making meaningless statements or mimicking PAP’s image. Identify its Achilles heel, constantly chip at it the next few years and wait for nature to take its course. So where is PAP’s Achilles heel?
Decades ago, Lee Kuan Yew had already understood that in order to perpetuate PAP’s power, he needed to exercise full control over:
– the mainstream media
– state finance
– land (public housing) and
– security forces.
Ngiam Tong Dow: “But it is in the law of nature that all things must atrophy.” And so we are witnessing the eventual demise of PAP’s mainstream media as an effective propaganda tool.
Security forces are firmly in PAP’s grip and it would be foolish to try and convince brainwashed, egoistic paper generals/scholars not to self destruct. Likewise for public housing.
That leaves state finance – especially investments by GIC and Temasek – which has been shrouded in too much secrecy. Pry this open and repair the damage before it’s irreparable. The CPF issue falls under state finance and is still ripe for the picking.
Citizens are collectively paying hundreds of millions of dollars to former civil servants parachuted into both SWFs who did not possess the requisite investment experience. How much are these jokers paid? The government is obligated to disclose such information and PAP isn’t doing anyone a favour with an overdue proper disclosure.
Persons who earn tax dollars from our reserves cannot suka suka claim they are working in the private sector, including Ho Ching who happens to be Temasek CEO and the wife of PM Lee.
Since PM Lee has insisted he is a servant of the people, why shouldn’t the remuneration of our servant’s wife be disclosed?
The PAP classifies GIC , Temasek and GLCs under the “private sector”. Inferring from PAP’s system of humongous self reward, eg a 19-month bonus for ministers and top civil servants in 2008, individual employees in its “private sector” would likely have been paid tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.
Besides directors, every government-linked entity must also disclose top management’s remuneration. Collectively, they have received hundreds of millions of tax dollars and the government is obligated to disclose this to the public.
There are many more relevant questions on transparency, such as those raised by Dr Chee.
Speculative bets by both SWFs are getting much bigger with multi-billion dollar deals now the norm. Are huge losses being covered up by these increasingly bigger bets?
GIC itself had acknowledged that asset prices were already inflated a couple of years back. Why continue to snap up assets as “if tomorrow never comes”? Shouldn’t our reserves be invested in the well being of our people and infrastructures?
How will the government guarantee CPF returns when markets go into a tailspin and our overseas investments go belly up? Increase taxes, reduce social spending, tweak CPF rules to retain more of our money or lower CPF Life payout?
There are too many unanswered questions pertaining to state finance and these concern everyone ultimately. If they have no answers at Parliament House, bring them to the people’s parliament at Hong Lim Park.
State finance is PAP’s Achilles heel and there are enough questions to keep you busy till the next GE. It’s good to have additional MPs but what is really necessary is that you guys should ask the “right” questions.
It’s about time you show your constituents that WP MPs are no walkovers, not afraid to ask ‘inconvenient’ questions on transparency.
To sum up:
– Nobody can win the PAP fighting on its forever-changing rules.
– Parliament consists of more than 90% PAP MPs who do not believe in transparency and accountability.
– Since WP is certain to be ineffective in fighting for Singaporeans’ interests in Parliament, Parliament should be brought to the people at Hong Lim Park.
– Under the foreign media’s glare, PAP will be forced to effect real, meaningful changes.
– The mainstream media’s effectiveness as a propaganda tool for PAP has declined significantly. The next shoe to fall will be state finance, PAP’s Achilles heel.
– Questions on where hundreds of billions in our reserves and CPF funds are invested need answers.
– The hundreds of millions in remuneration of former civil servants and paper generals parachuted into Temasek, GIC and GLCs must be disclosed.
Letting PAP off the hook on the CPF issue was a huge mistake which WP is now paying the price. A change of strategy is needed to make some headway and to prevent PAP’s relentless attacks using public resources.
So long as PAP remains in total control of state finance, it will be able to continue buying over voters and dominate Parliament. This is an undesirable situation where a necessary revamp of the system cannot be effected. You could consider my suggestion or start to think of an out of the box strategy.
* ‘(3)’ inserted for easy reference