Tag Archive | CPF

Uncle Swee Say doesn’t get it re CPF?

It’s incredible but I must accept it as the awful truth for why else would Mr Lim Swee Say give this comment on the ongoing CPF controversy?

Here is what he said: “Instead of thinking about whether you can spend your savings in the CPF at the age of 55, I think we should think about how can we help our Singaporeans to continue to remain employed, to continue to earn a good living, continue to have good jobs, and at the same time to continue to contribute to the CPF because the more money they have in CPF, the longer they defer the use of the CPF — this will mean they will have more for retirement.”

Folks, I think the whole kuffle-fle re the CPF isn’t about staying on in the workforce after age 55 but how members could get out of the workforce with their CPF money to goyang kaki.

Of course those who are fretting that they don’t have enough for their minimum sum and yet want to empty their CPF kitty are living in a parallel universe.

But to tell them to carry on working so that they can both build up their CPF and simultaneously delay the time when they need to tap the CPF isn’t going to convert them to the Government’s view.

Instead best to tackle the root of the problem — which is the desire to withdraw the minimum sum and at the same time cry foul that they don’t have enough in their CPF to cover the minimum sum.

Uncle Swee Say should ask G to redesign the CPF scheme for the sake of unionists who call him boss, if no one else. Put the most important thing first — which must be the minimum sum needed to feed workers too old or too disinclined to work.

Why not ask G to put the cart firmly behind the horse, not before it?

Which is first thing first.

Make sure members in the full bloom of working life are putting away the projected minimum sum required to keep their body and soul together when they are like 10X reboiled tea leaves. 🙄

If that sum ain’t in their CPF account, then no-touch for housing, medical bills, education, what have you, geddit?

Better still, once that sum has been saved, channel it to buy an annuity for disbursement at the official retirement age.

Lagi better if G could sweeten all this by lending, interest free, each adult Singaporean starting work the projected minimum lumpsum that would accrue to his/her cohort at retirement to buy an annuity.

Annuities bought when young with disbursement not starting till decades later will surely be more valuable and pay out more than one bought at 55 and disbursed just 10 years later.

Of course G would retain an interest in each annuity till the advance or loan has been fully paid for by the CPF member. And the CPF member would have every incentive to clear that debt because then and only then would he/she be able to tap the continuing stream of savings to buy homes, pay medical bills and other things that are allowed in today’s more liberalised CPF system.

If Uncle Swee Say can swing the CPF redesign this way, it would be a win-win situation for those who run the CPF and those today demanding the end of the CPF.

What bugs me about our Government…

Unlike what the doyenne of PAP critics Catherine Lim claimed, I am one of millions of Singaporeans who trusts our Government, especially when it comes to my CPF.

This said, I have one bug bear.

The bug bear only came into my room in the last few years.

I had been considering moving to HDB in my sunset years, especially after I discovered that HDB flats as young as 3 years (!!!) could be bought in the resale market. These are SERS flats and they are in choice locations.

One of mum’s friends snapped up one in Tiong Baru when she was already 80! And she took the top floor of a high-high rise!

I visited and I was “sold”.

But like the careful person that I am, I looked to my left and right and then front and back and then pondered again.

Then wham! My option as a private property owner to buy HDB in the open market was taken away overnight. All in the interest of cooling our bubbly property market.

I might have accepted it as another of G’s policies to keep our good ship SG on even keel.

But what got — and still gets — my goat is that HDB home owners continue to enjoy the bonanza of being eligible to private property — whether to live or invest in — and continue to hold their HDB.

Why, I ask myself, especially if the HDB property owner is only a PR and not a citizen. 🙄

Where is the level playing field, between citizens with private property who want to acquire a HDB unit from the resale market and PRs owning resale HDB being allowed to buy private property?

Where is the level playing field between citizens and citizens, when on the one side are those like me — who have never benefited from the state’s subsidised housing — prevented from buying resale HDB and those who have had one or more bites of the hugely subsidised new direct HDB cherry and then are given the extra privilege to buy private, even as the Government is trying to douse the speculative sparks in the property market!

One way I can read this is the G’s way of closing the income and asset gap among Singaporeans! But since our really rich won’t contemplate HDB for love or money, it means those who are effectively held back are only the middle income who are truly squeezed by the falling value of their cash assets, the rising cost of living and their dwindling earning power which moves inversely with their rising age.

Thus if boy-oh Roy Ngerng and his looney gang had wanted some support, this would have been a better cause for them to adopt. At least where I am concerned.

Even then, I won’t have lent him one cent, let alone donate it, if it meant encouraging him to defame anyone, let alone the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile I reproduce a letter from the ST Forum Page which continues to express private property owners’ grief and grievance against the unfair treatment of better off Singaporeans. Resonates with me. Wholly!

THERE are four factors to be considered when discussing whether HDB flat owners who move to private property should be allowed to keep their old flats (“Let HDB landlords enjoy their rent”; Thursday).

First, one reason for banning private property owners from co-owning an HDB flat is the fear of driving up prices in the resale market that could become unaffordable for first-time home buyers.

Without the ban, affordability can be sustained only by channelling more public funds into building more new flats, rather than recycling the existing stock.

Second, residing in private property accords the owner the benefits of exclusivity, prestige and better facilities.

There is a price to be paid for these benefits, and not hoarding a public flat should be one of the costs.

The upgrader has already benefited from the first ownership of affordable housing in the form of an HDB flat that helped pave the way towards owning a private home.

The first-time home owner who goes straight into buying private property does not enjoy this benefit.

The argument that the rules penalise a flat owner for becoming wealthy is not convincing, as there is the option of not owning private property.

Third, there are already schemes allowing HDB owners to sublet their homes partially or in full.

A retiree can even rent out the whole flat after the mandatory five-year occupation period if he lives with his children.

It seems odd that a retiree would want to hoard an HDB flat to support his retirement when he could simply choose not to buy a private property.

Fourth, Singapore’s rental market is heavily leveraged on foreigners’ demand. Whenever the volume of foreign tenants declines, there will be many homes left unoccupied.

Unoccupied private homes are a poor investment. Unoccupied HDB flats point to public policy unwisely executed.

After all, HDB was founded on the basis of providing an affordable home, not providing an affordable investment.

Liew Eng Leng

Why G must never hand over all CPF

If one needs only ONE reason why our Government must stand firm against all assault on the CPF Minimum Sum scheme, then the widow from Skudai who squandered $1 million (MR2.5million) in just 12 months is that very reason. (See full story below)

OK, perhaps this example has come to light at a fortuitous time when people with little money sense are pushing to get their hands on some real money of their own. Or perhaps this example has been dug up by parties who want to deliver a lesson to those who don’t know better. No matter. Because the example ain’t a made-up story. It’s something that can and will happen to those falling into the category of the proverb “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

Those who agitate against G keeping the minimum sum and turning it into CPF Life and yet at the same time cry that their CPF savings aren’t enough to see them through their twilight years are talking from both sides of their mouths.

So if you don’t have enough CPF to last you till your last day, then taking out whatever little you have is going to change matters, izzit?

What kind of muddled thinking is this, especially for the 50% of CPF members on the verge of retirement who are said to have less than the stipulated MS!

If the Skudai widow can get through a million bucks in 12 months, how long do you think $60K or $70K is going to last folks who got so little in their self-managed POSB accounts that they hanker after what little they have in their CPF!

At least Madam Pusparani has youth on her side. She has decades ahead of her to redeem her expensive mistake. Not so the Singaporean retiree drooling for his CPF pennies.

So unless we want to see ancient tissue-paper sellers, homeless elderly folks and charity meals and shelters become growth industries in Singapore, please Mr Prime Minister, say NO to any liberalisation of the Minimum Sum. 👿

Two years ago, after her husband was killed in a freak accident while working at Changi Airport’s Budget Terminal, she received nearly $1 million in insurance payouts and donations from the public. Today, that money is all gone.

Madam Pusparani Mohan, 34, is now looking for work in Singapore to support her four young children back in Johor Baru.

“I made a mistake. People knew I had so much money and they all came to me. I am so stupid. I never buy house and finished all the money meant for my children,” Madam Pusparani told The Sunday Times from her home in Skudai.

She gave some of it away to relatives when she returned to her hometown in Kedah, then spent a portion of it on a holiday in Genting Highlands with her family. She also lost a chunk of it to a bad business investment – all in the span of a year. “Now I don’t have enough for my children’s future.”

On March 17, 2012, her husband, Mr Chandra Mogan Panjanathan, 34, was operating a floor-scrubbing machine outside the terminal when he was hit by a taxi hijacked by a Chinese national.The driver is now serving his jail sentence of two years and one month for voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery.

Donations poured in after the tragic accident was reported in the media. Many sympathised with Madam Pusparani, who was also working as a cleaning supervisor at the airport, for having to raise four children by herself.The Malaysian couple’s youngest daughter was barely three months old then. Today, their children are aged two, seven, 10 and 11.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) helped to collect donations after it received calls from members of the public wanting to help. Madam Pusparani said she is not clear how much was collected, but thinks it could be about $800,000. She also received over $100,000 in insurance payouts, she said.

“The CAG financial adviser advised me to divide the money between myself and my four children. After allocating $200,000 to each of my four children, I was left with $150,000,” she said. She took that $150,000 home to Johor Baru, quitting her job in Singapore, to take care of her children.

A CAG spokesman told The Sunday Times the CAG had arranged for a family counsellor for Madam Pusparani and had also engaged a financial services adviser to help her with the money she received, including setting up an annuity plan for her children.

“I was told not to touch my children’s money as it was meant for their future,” she said, adding that the financial adviser also suggested she could use the remaining money to set up a small business in Malaysia.

But the money proved too much for Madam Pusparani to manage on her own. She said she first had to pay off debts of $50,000 – the couple, who made $2,000 a month jointly, had borrowed money from friends to make ends meet.

Then, she decided to invest the remaining $100,000 in her brother’s transport business in Kuala Lumpur, thinking it would give her a stable income.

“But I was told the money was only enough to buy one lorry and we needed three lorries. So, I withdrew half of my children’s money, which was about $400,000, to buy two more lorries.”

Madam Pusparani said CAG was unaware of the withdrawal as the money was kept in an account under her name.”I was thinking I could put the money back later,” said Madam Pusparani, her voice shaking.

The business did make money in the first three months, said Madam Pusparani, who has a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, the equivalent of an O-level certificate, and who took up accounting as she wanted to manage the business herself.

But in the fourth month, the widow was told that the company was losing money. She said she fell out with her brother eventually and did not recover any of her investment.

Her younger brother, Mr Magan Mohan, 32, a technician, said she blamed the family for encouraging her to invest in the business. Mr Magan said his elder brother’s business has since folded.”Some people think my sister gambled away the money, but she never gambles or drinks. She just got into the wrong business.”

In January last year, Madam Pusparani took out the rest of the money meant for her children. She had no choice, she said.”I never work, but I have to eat. I also need to take care of my parents. I was living with them and I had to pay for the monthly rental which was about RM1,000. My baby is still young and needs money for milk and pampers,” said Madam Pusparani, agitatedly.”My expenses came up to RM5,000 to RM6,000. Where do I find the money?”

That last $400,000 she withdrew lasted her five months. By May last year, she was broke.”I also don’t know how I finished (using) the money,” she said.

A friend got her a job as an accounts clerk in Johor Baru, earning RM2,000 (S$780) a month.Today, her employer pays her rent for an old, double-storey terraced house, which her family of five live in. A huge portrait of the late Mr Chandra is the only thing adorning the empty living area.

Her children’s shoes are torn and worn out; so too are their schoolbags.The family sleeps on two old mattresses in one of three rooms on the second storey. Clothes are piled up on the floor as they cannot afford a cupboard to keep them in.

“I cannot survive with RM2,000 a month. I am thinking of going to work in Singapore. But I feel ashamed,” said Madam Pusparani tearfully.”I don’t know how to explain to the people who donated money to me and my children.”

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/1m-gone-2-years-widow-now-broke-20140608#sthash.R6wwL68R.dpuf

Not even half a cent..

.. will I contribute to Roy Ngerng’s defence against the defamation suit that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has brought against him concerning Ngerng’s allegations about the CPF and Mr Lee.

People who make their own beds should lie in them and not ask for help when it comes up all thorns instead of roses 🙄

I am certain I belong to the millions of CPF members who didn’t encourage, let alone, ask him to make a song and dance about my CPF.

So, no, I won’t contribute anything to him, let alone $ to pay for his defence. Not even half a cent, geddit??

The dress that took me places…


dress that went places

.. and took me along with it…

I bought this dress out of sheer desperation because I was invited to a glitzy event on Apr 5 that demanded evening dress, as no less than the Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin would be Guest of Honour, plus a myriad talking heads that are fixtures in the media.

And I suspect, i might be sitting close to the main table, which turned out to be accurate — I was on the next table to GOH’s enlarged table. But then so were a couple of other tables, given the huge circumference of the GOH table.

Okay, what I bought isn’t strictly evening wear, in the sense that it isn’t black, floor length or gltizy. But hey, it’s a major concession for someone who mostly wears denim skirts, jackets, jeans or dresses, the operative adjective being denim.

So I bought the dress — mainly because of what the dress code demanded but also because believe it or not, I had functions on the two days following it, a rarity, as I’m no social butterfly .

So I bought the dress, as I could get the max bang out of the money spent, as i intended to — and did — wear the same dress to all three functions, because I was confident that none of the others going to the three functions would be “overlapping” guests.

I was right!

There was no buzz the first night, as there were many speeches, many strangers sitting with strangers and too many VVIP spotting for anyone, and I mean anyone, to pay attention to what I was wearing.. I could have ignored the dress code, something that I noticed quite a few in the 50+ tables gathering did..

It was different on the 2nd nite — Apr 6 — at old class mate HPC ‘s 70th birthday bash at Penang Place in Biopolis —  hosted by her myriad god-children. The party was so big that many PP regulars were driven to dine outside the restaurant!

Everyone thought me a bit formal– from the word go. NS who came to pick me up. Ditto LPC. And so on.


Yup I should have been in denim 🙄

The dress was attention grabbing at the 3rd event for the right reason: JL celebrating the first spring of her first grand-kid at a high tea at Intercontinental at Bugis Junction.

Amidst all the singing and real babas and nyonyas dancing up a colorful storm, I was complimented by hostess JL and others, tho I was no competition at all for the star of the show: Anna Rose, all of 5 months!

Love, baby love!

Love, baby love!

It wasn’t the last outing for that dress. It got two more outings be4 it was sent into the wash. And if you wear the amount of Clinique’s Get Happy or Estee Lauder’s Beyond Paradise that I do, and go from aircon car to aircon malls and/or restaurants, then clothes can do several rounds be4 needing to meet the washing machine!

I kept the dress for a family lunch on Apr 10. We were going to ION but at the last moment opted for Plaza Singapura because I wanted to redeem the goodies in my Ichiban card!

Again, the law of co-incidences worked its magic for me. As we were finishing, a friend from CPF FBed me to say that Tim Ho Wan @ Plaza Singapura has opened — at last. A colleague had bought her some char siu bun that morning and they were delicious.

Had we gone to ION, I won’t have had the energy to dash over. But since I was in the same building, I decided to go pick up some of the buns while the rest of the family headed for the carpark where I promised to meet them within minutes. I’m the optimistic sort.

So it was with shock and surprise that I discovered the snaking line outside Tim Ho Wan. My heart jumped happily when told the takeaway queue was separate, believing it would be shorter.

I wasn’t wrong. It was shorter but each customer was limited to buying 5 buns! I consoled myself that as I wanted to buy 4 only, so being given 5 was a 25% bonus.

But the queue barely inched for 10 minutes. I soon found out why. An affable hunk with soothing voice and demeanour started explaining to potential customer by customer that all the buns had to be split between dine in and takeaway. Also, each tray that Chef Mak (founder of Tim Ho Wan)  baked contained only 20 buns. Oh yes, the restaurant was quite liberal with early bird takeaways, allowing customers to buy unlimited quantities. Hence the backlog in meeting demand. Hence the ration. 😦

In short, Tim Ho Wan didn’t, couldn’t or won’t anticipate the demand on what was its opening day, a fact i didn’t know till I had joined the queue willy nilly!

The minutes passed; family members called from the carpark to demand what was keeping me…

Said hunk and a colleague decided to close the queue altogether, sending other hopefuls on their way.

A few behind me in the queue quietly melted away, probably because they had to go back to work. I deliberated mentally whether I should give in but the Tim Ho Wan hunk was still nattering on and I was optimistic that if I applied some antique charm on him, he might let me have my order ahead of the others. At minimum he would be moved by pity that this ditzy auntie actually entertained thoughts of charming a hunk?

It was no dice but mayb our “flirtatious” conversation was so asinine that it drove away whomever else were behind me in the line and I found myself the last in the queue with some 10 others ahead of me.

My turn came finally around 2.45pm and it was worth the wait. I decided to try my luck and asked for 10 buns instead of the rationed 5 and was happily surprised when with a nod from the hunk my request was filled.

It was worth the wait and the wrath of family members who didn’t appreciate being left to cool their heels for 45 minutes in and around the carpark while I queued! Although half of the loot I passed over to sister D did mollify her somewhat. 😀


golden buns


still good to last bite after 3 hours!

Did my dress help in some supernatural way to get these golden buns? Or was it something else?

The next appearance of my dress may explain. 😆

After four wearings, the dress was waiting its turn to be washed when I had to rush to the supermarket to pick up some essentials one late Saturday afternoon.

I grabbed it off the hanger, put it on and drove off to Clemeti Mall, thinking that such a big Fairprice Finest shouldn’t be too crowded. I was wrong. It was ren san, ren hai between the racks and at the check out lanes.

I was in a hurry and looking at my amount of purchases — not a lot and nothing wet or highly perishable — decided to die-die try the self-scan and check out lane.

Again, my trepidation was misplaced. A Fairprice sup came to my rescue. Not only that. She even gifted me with a spare “bonus point” voucher discarded by a previous customer and then took me through the paces.

It was easy peasy and I was so pleased with her thoughtful help that I grabbed a shot of her, to post on FB, Twitter and now in my blog. Good service should be acknowledged and publicised while the converse should at least be dissed thru word-of-mouth 😆

3S = Sunita Service with a Smile

3S = Sunita Service with a Smile


So did this experience have anything to my much worn dress? Did it give out the sort of aura that made people want to help or be friendly to me? Was it the pastel shades or the soft draping material that softened my personality like a magic cloak?

I won’t know till I next wear it. But it will take me to more places for sure and give me more wear to make it worth the $59.90 I had paid for it 🙄

Step one to another 1985 recession?

When I read the article (see below) in Business Times yesterday about the much respected Prof Lim Chong Yah calling for wages for the lowly paid to rise by leaps n bounds over three years and at the same time to cap pays of $15K and above per month for the same period, I thought it was a belated April Fool’s joke.

So I copied the article and circulated it to the usual folks on my email-list with the heading “I don’t believe this!”

What was more unbelievable were two of the three replies I got.

First, from my elder brother, who wrote: “I think Prof Lim has proposed a jolly good idea. I’m sure true Singaporeans and foreigners with goodwill who earn $15000 and more per month will not mind a 3 year moratorium. The government should seriously consider this proposal.”

Second came from a friend with deep family ties to the PAP. 🙄

He wrote: “I actually agree in principle with what Prof Lim is trying to do. Since the PAP decided to make millionaires out of its ministers by using private sector remuneration to justify ministers’ pay, we have been grossly (and increasingly)  overvaluing the worth of those at the top and undervaluing that of the average Joe and those at the bottom ranks of our workforce.

“We copied this predatory practice from the US, which is quite different from the fairer and more social- centric compensation system of the European countries. It has resulted in an ever-widening income gap between the haves and have-nots,  which has been cleverly disguised as  the  effects of globalisation.

“And those articulating this bs are the same people who run our country and businesses – the latter hired guns, not entrepreneurs who put their own money on the line , and who are the direct beneficiaries of this predatory practice.  They also happen to control the press and other media, and there is a danger that this bs may morph into a mainstream value.

“As the saying goes, repeat a bs often enough and you begin to believe in your own bs. But increasing inequality in our society is not sustainable in the longer run, as social tensions must increase as a result, leading to more explosive implications for our society. Prof Lim is indeed a wise man in trying to shock us out of slipping into this malevolent stupor.”

I might have concluded that I am in the minority of one if not for another giddy headed old gal — and makan kaki– like moi who replied thus: “Yeh so what’s the point of me bringing my grand kid to go for kumon, Julia Gabriel in hope he can go to RI, Hwa Chong ha?Better to go for carpentry classes and maybe learn to cha kway teow!!! Come to think of it my part time maid could have come up with the scheme! What is his pay?? Jen the furious.”

Then I discovered that one dot.seng says it all for me. So no, I’m not in the minority in my reaction; certainly not of one; perhaps not even of 10,000!

But then, what’s the use, if the Government buys Prof Lim’s line of thinking and acts on it?

I shudder at that prospect, remembering that Prof Lim presided over the National Wages Council when the Government went on another high-wage policy binge. Hope we won’t see a repeat of that experiment in the early 1980s that led one establishment maverick to blast — after the event. 🙄

“The 1985 recession was a self-created recession. Between 1981-1985, we had a policy in government to uplift from no-skill to high-skill. What the government did was impose very high CPF. The CPF went up to 50%. All costs went up, but at the same time there was no incentive given to encourage companies to upgrade. Just pure punishment.”

Business Times – 10 Apr 2012

Lim Chong Yah suggests second wage revolution

3-year plan to cut income inequality, foreign labour use


(SINGAPORE) To tackle rising income inequality and an excessive reliance on cheap foreign labour, one prominent local economist is proposing a three-year restructuring plan that includes a wage freeze for top income earners and sizeable pay hikes for the lowest paid.

This ‘bold and iconoclastic’ proposal seeks to complete the wage revolution of 1979 to 1981, says Professor Lim Chong Yah. He helmed the National Wage Council (NWC) from 1972 to 2001 and as its founding chairman had a pivotal role in that first, radical three-year wage restructuring exercise.

Then, the NWC had recommended a 20 per cent across-the-board increase in wages a year, including higher contributions to Central Provident Fund accounts and to the Skills Development Fund, which grants companies training subsidies.

Speaking to an audience of about 50 at an Economic Society of Singapore public lecture yesterday, Prof Lim outlined another three-year solution to Singapore’s ‘two Achilles’ heels’ – the sharp rise in low-wage foreign workers and rising income inequality – while raising productivity.

This features a sizeable pay hike for the lowest-paid workers, regardless of nationality or age, earning less than $1,500 per month over three years. He proposes a cumulative 15 per cent rise in the first year, another 15 per cent in the second, and 20 per cent in the third. This increase would be channelled, in equal parts, to the worker’s take-home pay, his CPF Retirement Account, and the Skills Development Fund.

At the top end of the income ladder, Prof Lim proposes a three-year wage freeze for those earning $15,000 or more a month. But he stresses, the intention is not to ‘frighten the geese that lay the golden eggs’ as there will be no pay cut, pay ceiling or super-taxes imposed.

As for the middle income, he proposes pay hikes ranging from a quarter to a third of that received by the lowest-income group, part of which will go into the CPF Retirement Account. The government should also match contributions to the Skills Development Fund to demonstrate its commitment to the restructuring effort.

Prof Lim envisions all operating details of this proposal being discussed and decided on by the tripartite NWC, as was the case in 1979, to ‘forge consensus by the three tripartite social partners’.

He acknowledged readily that national economic restructuring is ‘much more difficult’ now than it was three decades ago, given the changed political, economic and socio-economic climate. But he thinks that Singapore still has effective tripartism and a government and civil service with integrity and ability, so what is needed is ‘national will’ in the face of ‘the problems of economic success’.

In response to questions from the floor, Prof Lim said that his proposed scheme is unlikely to have a significant negative impact on unemployment – now at record lows – and that high-quality foreign investment will continue to flow into Singapore in pursuit of strong fundamentals.

Asked about the pace he proposes, which seems swifter than the government’s target of a more gradual 30 per cent rise in median incomes in the 10 years till 2020, Prof Lim said that some ‘shock’ is needed to ‘check, halt and if possible reverse’ the rise in income inequality.

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved