Tag Archive | Lee Hsien Loong

Say something about these, please, PM Lee!

If I were to respond to a survey about life in Singapore, I would say I am 60% happy with my external environment and 80% happy with my home environment. Can’t be 100% lah or else I would be in paradise, and I’m not talking about the Paradise restaurants :roll:

So, I would like Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to address some of the issues that bug me about things that aren’t within my control and hopefully change them so that my happiness level with the external environment would match that of my feelings for my own home.

First and foremost is this thing about the People’s Association and the grassroots adviser.

For years and years I’ve found it — and still find it – impossible to understand why defeated PAP candidates are allowed to remain the grassroots adviser to the ward/s that has/have gone to the Opposition.

I am no Opposition fan. In fact, I am mostly neutral when it comes to the Opposition. And when it comes to one or two Opposition noise makers, I am downright hostile.

Yet I feel it isn’t right for Opposition MPs who have won fair and square to be left out in the cold where community events are concerned. Especially at the once a year National Day dinner.

Shouldn’t the kosher MP be the GOH instead of the defeated PAP candidate? Sure, it’s the grassroots organisations such as CCCs that organise the dinner and the entertainment but when was the last time that the grassroots of an Opposition ward asked the standing MP to be the GOH, instead of the PAP loser?

If there has been such an occasion I am sure it would have made the front page headlines in the Straits Times. I don’t remember ever having read such an account. :roll:

My hope therefore is for PM Lee to address this topic, preferably at the National Day Rally when all Singaporeans, PAP, Opposition and everyone in between are supposed to be united as one nation, one people, one Singapore.

If PAP nurtured grassroots leaders don’t know any better about propriety and respect to the Opposition MP who represents their constituency, then let the supreme commander of the PAP educate them about respecting the wishes of Singaporeans in word and deed!

The other topic I would like to hear the PM talk about is the ever-annoying policy to share government goodies with Singaporeans by using the annual value of property yardstick.

Of course I am highly grateful that the $120 discounted maid levy wasn’t doled out based on homes’ annual value or else I won’t have got that either.

Never mind that my flat would be put to shame by most of the ECs such as Bishan Loft and new generation HDB housing.

Never mind that everyone of my generation in my family has more or less stopped working, some for years. And although all of us live in private property, none of us are of the Wee Cho Yaw class; not even the permanent secretary class. We are even below lesser mortal classes for that matter.

Also, as our homes were bought decades ago, the prices that we paid back then won’t be able to get us decent public housing today. But if anyone would today offer me public housing of 1800 sf near Orchard Road for $500K, we might have a deal! :lol: Then, there would be no more angst about having my full share of budget goodies.

Seriously though, what is so difficult about determining who should get the GST Voucher? (see below) Why base it on a combi annual value of one’s home and assessable income, when it’s owner occupied?

Why not improve the criteria by checking the ages of the occupants? If someone is already 80+, is it likely that he or she would be able to benefit from the GST rebates for very much longer, even if he or she lives in private property? And as the annual value is a notional number, the effect of such a yardstick is that the person is given an implied make-believe income when none exists

It is the private-public property blunt cut-off that I find so galling. Why not throw in age consideration and the price paid for the property? Given our massive computing power, surely this isn’t too much to expect? Or am I mistaken?

The Straits Times
Published on Aug 03, 2013
GOVERNMENT HELP SCHEMES

Fair system of income, annual value as criteria in place

 GOVERNMENT help schemes such as the GST Voucher (GSTV) aim to provide support to those who are less well-off. They use both assessable income (AI) and the annual value (AV) of homes as criteria, as this combination provides a better picture of a person’s means than if just one criterion is used (“Govt help schemes: Income more relevant than annual value” by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Wednesday).

To address one of Mr Chan’s points, the AV does not refer to actual rental income earned, which would be reflected in the AI. The AV is a measure of the value of the home, irrespective of whether it is rented out. Besides a person’s income, this is an additional measure of how well-off he is.

Most Singaporeans with lower incomes do obtain larger GSTV benefits. This includes, for example, the majority of non-working spouses, who rightly benefit from the GSTV.

However, if GSTV benefits were based on AI alone, those who live in expensive homes and who choose not to work would obtain the same benefits as the poor.

Similarly, using AV alone would mean that Singaporeans who earn high incomes, but who choose to live in flats with lower AVs, would benefit unduly.

Our approach of using both AI and AV as criteria is a practical way of identifying those who are less well-off, from among the full population of adult Singaporeans. It is not perfect in design, but broadly equitable. It also complements other schemes which are less broad-based and allow for more customised assessment of an individual’s needs.

We will continue to review the eligibility criteria of government help schemes to benefit those who need greater support.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Finance

Active ageing: Youtube better than Ebixa

There has been a lot of chatter about active ageing and how the Government, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, would do its best to see that as many of us as possible would age happily, gracefully — in short, well.

Let me share with you how my mum, aged 87 going on 88, is doing it.

Here she is eating lunch at Meez9. She’s having fish and couscous!

Mum having lunch at Mezza9 in Oct

 

Here she is showing off her rings: the jade one from my late father (it came from Lee Onn, I think); the other, not captured well in the picture but is a once popular Thai created-pattern ring– seven loops joined together and came from a late Thai businessman friend whom mum met when she was a teenager and the Japanese were at Singapore’s door.

Mum’s rings

 

And here is mum singing her Nanyin favourite! :lol: on Youtube. Family pix have been included as it insists on visuals and audio :roll:

Guess what?

After playing mum’s Youtube debut over and over again over one day for her to hear, she started asking about her Zaobao subscription! Something she hasn’t done since July when we let it laspe – because for more than a year, her newspapers arrived but she would just glance at the front page and then put the prestine copy aside, never to pick it up again.

So the family decided there’re better things to do with the subscription money than contribute to SPH’s coffers and stuff the the recycling bin with untouched newspapers every day!

After her Youtube epiphany, Mum repeatedly asked for her Zaobao till one issue was bought for her from the petrol kiosk next door. Next week we will definitely re-subscribe for her.

What I find quite instructive about this development is that unlike the memory pills for those firmly on the road to Dementia land, mum’s Youtube managed to revive her memory in something we thought had long been lost in the mists of a confused mind . An inexorable slide that her use over several years — starting from Arricept, then Exsalon and now Ebixa — failed to reverse! :cry:

PM & Govt must do more for elderly

I know my heading may sound ridiculous especially coming on the heels of G announcing that it would spend $500 million on building facilities for elderly Singaporeans and no less than the Prime Minister urging fellow citizens to support them!

However, I look at it this way.

The $500 million would be spent over five years; so fact is, it’s only $100 million a year. And many of the old-old in Singapore today may not be around to smell, let alone use, the facilities that are currently no more than a twinkle in the G’s eye.

Also, given the vociferousness of the anti-senior facilities lobby, the NIMBY snoots from Toh Yi to Bishan and Woodlands aren’t going to be won over so easily — simply because Mr Lee Hsien Loong urged them to :roll:

So IMHO the G should employ some knuckle duster tactics, albeit figuratively of course.

Besides standing firm on sites already identified for the facilities to be created, the HDB should be tasked to embed elderly facilities into all new-builds under its purview. BTO, Sers, DBSS etc.

Give every applicant who has at least an elderly person in his family who will be living with him/her preferential treatment. After all, those who don’t value the old in their family — or the elderly in themselves in the future — aren’t likely to make good parents. So why waste preferential treatment on “moi, moi, moi” couples?

And, G, pse don’t just stop at public housing. Pse identify private property ripe for development near MRT stations and such like and invite public-private sector partnerships to create elderly facilities in their new builds!

Allow greater density ie plot ratio for developments that embrace putting seniors in the heart of all they build! And by the same corollary, those who say no could see them having to pay extra development charge as a penalty.

Hooray, cheaper by the millions!

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a recent forum on the National Conversation that Singapore could accommodate 6 million people in time to come. Which sent lots of Internet folks into a tizzy, feeling claustrophobic at the prospect.

Personally, I welcome the prospect. The more the merrier, I say, as I’m one of those rare Singaporeans who have no problems with foreigners.

Think where would I be if not for the fact that we have Picky Siti from the deepest Lampung in Sumatra looking after my mother and my home of 1,750 sq ft for these past 5 or so years. Sure, she isn’t the most accommodating of foreigners, especially when one has to have her in one’s home.

But when she was away for 39 days on home leave in recent weeks, I needed two part-time cleaners, an old friend to come stay over as an emergency net and myself working flat out to cook, shop for essentials and look after mum.

Picky, a foreigner, did the work of four persons! :roll:

Her absence also made me realise very quickly that I no longer need to live in such a big place and that a shoe box home or two would do very well for me! One to live in and one to let out. Then i won’t need to invest so much time and money (water, detergents, mops, pails, manpower and related cleaning equipment) to keep the place clean!

Which brings me to why having 6 million people in SG will make it an almost certainty that the majority of us will have to live in smaller homes. Which is no bad thing.

Think of the money that will be freed up — smaller homes could make for smaller mortgages. Less need for live-in domestic help — so fewer foreign “talent” of the wrong kind – while ladies and gentlemen of the house might even have enough spare time to remain longer in the formal workforce or rejoin it, if they don’t need to expend time slogging in keeping home n hearth clean. That may help to ease SG’s perennial labour shortage.

When we have 6 million plus people, there will be gr8er economy of scale, whether it be what we produce, import or consume. There will be gr8er choice and variety. Why, those of us who are still single could even have more chance of a compatible mate right at our door step, without any need to go overseas to fish in bigger ponds.

There will also be more working folks and rich folks to support the uneconomic old from yesteryears.

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to live in Hongkong because of  its way of packing ‘em in that makes living and moving around so convenient and effortless. Transport is well integrated with housing and commercial centres so that going from home to work, shop, eat and play is a breeze.

Now that SG is on the way to match Hongkong’s people mass, I can stay put and have Hongkong’s way of life come to me.

So, please pretty please, let’s speed up the transformation — not slow it down!

PM Lee plays real cool hand for ND Rally

The National Day Rally this year will break away from the one-man, very long speech that characterised the format which Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, introduced and which was continued by his two successors: Mr Goh Chok and Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
 
In the new arrangement, Mr Lee Jr  will today have three ministers speak before he makes his annual address at 8pm.
 
The three ministers are Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Senior Minister of State (MOS) (Education and Information, Communications and the Arts) Lawrence Wong and MOS (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Halimah Yacob. They will join PM Lee in spelling out challenges facing Singapore and how to address them.
 
They will also speak on topics of interest to them. For instance, Mr Wong will air his aspirations for Singapore and thoughts about building a stronger community and nation while Mdm Halimah said her focus “is likely to be on the importance of keeping hope alive and providing opportunities for all Singaporeans, regardless of their background, so that we can achieve our vision of a fair and just society”.
 
The three ministers will speak between 6:45pm and 7:30pm. Mr Wong and Mr Heng will speak in English with some Mandarin, and Mdm Halimah in English and Malay. PM Lee will speak from 8pm in Malay, Mandarin and English.
 
I’m delighted that Mr Lee has made this change; because unlike the era when Singaporeans were mesmerised by every word that the elder Mr Lee uttered at the rally, today’s folks have too many distractions. Shorter, sharper and smarter content and delivery are likely to hold attention better, especially when there is also variety in the orators, not a monologueby a soloist.
 
As for the choice of ministers to help warm up Singaporeans before the main actor takes centre stage, I think the selection is spot on to be a crowd pleaser.
 
First, crowd pleaser must be Mr Lawrence Wong, whom IMHO is the most likely to become the next Prime Minister, even though people in the know have said repeatedly that Messrs Tan Chuan Jin and Chan Chun Sing are also hot contenders.
 
Mr Wong’s outing at this year’s ND rally could be viewed as a kind of dress rehearsal for the real thing, somewhere down the road.
 
Second, the choice of Mdm Halimah Yacob is a 3-prong crowd pleaser, even though she will never become Prime Minister, at least not within the current political framework.
 
The first prong is that the tudung wearing Cik Halimah would appeal to the conservative Malay Muslims in her community, especially those who aspire to rise in the world in the Singapore context. She shows that being a Malay Muslim woman proud of her roots is no hindrance to making it in a Chinese-dominated and somewhat loudly Westernised Singapore society.
 
Her second prong is her appeal to the conservative feminist of all races who wants to be married, have children and have a career with maximum state support: Cik Halimah is both champion and role model.
 
Her third prong is for the PAP to show its rank and file that yes, you can be woman, Malay Muslim, conservative and not so glamourous as Ms Josephine Teo or Ms Grace Fu but you can still make it big in the party and government. After all, it’s Cik Halimah who is going to be the first woman from the PAP to address the ND Rally, not the other two ladies, OK!
 
As for the choice of Mr Heng, the ex-central banking chief and the current Minister for Education, his inclusion suggests (to me at least) as a nod to the upper middle-class Singaporeans who have made it but don’t belong to the coterie of successful citizens who blame the PAP for everything that displeases them in life! It helps too that he is the Min for Ed which widens his appeal to all those with kids and grand kids or simply hoping for them. This large wedge of Sgreans, falling TFR not withstanding, want to know what’s in the ever morphing, ever dynamic education landscape for the young!
 
So after the appetisers, what main course would PM Lee deliver?
 
He could be the magician who draws the threads of wisdom spun first by the “chorus” of three and turn them into a blanket of many colors for SGreans to picnic upon? Then he could unpack the picnic basket of goodies to tide us over the 12 months until the next National Day Rally?
 
Whatever Mr Lee does, today’s rally will go down in SG history for breaking with tradition. Or should i say “Tradition Made Better” in the tagline that once belonged to Fraser & Neave? :D
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In defence of the PAP

Going by the email circulars I’ve been receiving, those I’ve forwarded and other Internet exchanges between myself and others and others and others on popular websites, one would think everyone and his grandma is against the PAP.

This is especially when some of the more thoughtful but yet anti-PAP links have come from pals from inside the PAP stronghold!

But that’s besides the point.

We may be overt or covert PAP supporters; we may be Opposition supporters, covert or overt; we may be neither but bend with the wind.

But one thing we have in common is that we like making fun of a common target which at general election time is invariably the People’s Action Party. Familiarity breeds contempt and groupattack mentality et al.

Of course it helps that websites and bloggers have twigged on the fact that nothing ensures visitors piling up at their url than if they write something rabidly anti-PAP, establishment, FamiLEE etc etc. Never mind if their language is wobbly; their arguments wobblier. They become instant household names.

Even moi, Auntie Lucia, discovered that whenever I write politics a la Singapura, the visitor arrivals would shoot up. In fact the best number of close to 1,000 hits that this site recorded was when I supported PM Lee Hsien Loong’s move to gazette The Online Citizen as a political website.

Internet-regular friends told me I was even tweeted about by TOC. I won’t know. I’m not a TOC or Temasek Review regular, preferring to get similar fix from better quality sites like Flaneurose.

Anyway, I digress.

The nub of this post is to say that it’s not all anti-PAP chatter out there in cyberspace. Besides good friend LW’s stout defence of — and gratitude to – the ruling party that could be found here, I also discovered that one of my nieces (a 24-year-old BBA Hons to be) is fervently anti-Opp. As she lives in Aljunied, Uncle George should have one more vote heading his way — hers!

This niece further thinks Nicole Seah speaks like a stern school marm :razz:

wrong numbers?

And it was thru her that I discovered this Facebook post questioning Nicole’s data used at election rallies!

4-letter support n all

 

As well as thru her that I discovered the controversial Xiaxue’s strong support of the PAP in particular Uncle Yeo.

This will definitely be my last post on General Elections 2011, not least because I don’t want to be accused of influencing the outcome altho how such a charge for a low-low traffic blogger like moi could stick! :lol:

The real reason for less blog time is that I’m having major upheavals on the domestic front. Mum’s Picky Siti and my family may have no choice but to part ways, as at long last I’ve decided that the servant in the home can’t be allowed to ride rough-shod over everyone she’s supposed to serve.

And swear, this isn’t a political parable but the real McCoy :cry:

Applause! PMO stands firm on TOC

While I have nothing against The Online Citizen — indeed, a couple of years ago I introduced it to an ex-colleague keen to share his political views — I’m delighted that the Prime Minister’s Office is standing firm that TOC is a political association.

There is nothing non-partisan in any of the content of the TOC website. It’s also an understatement to say it’s anti-PAP most of the time.

It’s such a pity that so many non-Singaporean media reports of TOC being gazetted last week took the slant that the PAP was taking steps “to curb popular news website” ahead of the election.

It is also such a pity that it took the Government so long to move. The delay, if anything, shows that under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, it is willing to give its critics max leeway.

I had written to the writer of one of those non-Singaporean news reports to protest:

1) “I write to object to the headline used above your article. It’s so reflex action.

2)  It’s not so much “curb” as to make TOC as accountable as you and me, if we want to take a high profile political stand and aim to sway and mould opinions of the wider public here and abroad.”

Guess I wasn’t entirely surprised by his reply – which was essentially a “two-finger” gesture couched in words!

PMO stands firm

toc: come out of the shadows, lah!