Tag Archive | Lee Hsien Loong

Prepare yourselves, GE is nearer than you think?

OK, I’m no political pundit. Nor an academic in political science who should be better able to read the political tea leaves than your average auntie. I also don’t move in the circles of great thinkers and insiders in Singapore’s elite political sphere..

But to parody the Wet Wet Wet song, I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes. GE’s all around me, and so the feeling grows; it’s written in the wind; it’s everywhere I go..

.. that the next General Election for Singapore, IMHO, is a lot nearer than all the august big brains — Eugene Tan, Bertha Henson, Kit Wei Ching, Song Seng Wun to name a few — in our midst have been predicting.

“The bet is that it will be late next year or early 2016 to take advantage of the SG50 hype,” said Bertha, while Song thought the PAP would prefer to concentrate on the SG50 festivities for most of 2015.

Then they say there are the contentious and likely amendments to the Broadcasting Act and Town Council Act to get out of the way be4 the next poll.

Ditto the thoughts of some acquaintances of mine who appear to run with the in-politics crowd.

These give all sorts of reasons why GE won’t be before SG is done with its SG50 celebrations, as¬†more goodies have to be distributed first be4 the ballot papers are handed out ūüôĄ

Still, the consensus of the knowledgeable is that the polls will be called a good year before the government’s use by date of January 2017. Their forecasts grow granular around the months of September to December 2015, or at latest January 2016.

I beg to differ, not least because of what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the PAP’s 6oth birthday last Sunday.

He said the next general election will be a “deadly serious” fight between the PAP and the opposition and that “every seat, every GRC, every SMC will be contested. Every seat, every contest will be a national contest, not a local one. Every seat is a general election, not a by-election.”

Wasn’t PM stating the obvious? When had the PAP ever¬†gone into a GE without making it a “deadly serious” fight with the Opposition? When had it not contested “every seat, every GRC, every SMC”? When had it ever treated a¬†national election as anything but a national contest and a general election, not a by-election.”

If¬†it isn’t a GE rally speech, I don’t know what is.

To¬†me it was clear as a bell that¬†the Sec-Gen of the PAP was signalling to the party faithful that GE isn’t months but possibly only weeks away and so better be battle-ready.

As for the feel good effect of SG50 softening even the most hardened of the Singaporean hearts that are against the PAP, I feel PM had better take a cue from what happened to Churchill after he won the war. The epitome of British leadership lost the election immediately afterwards.

Instead if  PM chooses to go to the people before SG50 celebs take off, what better way could there be for the PAP to celebrate 50 years of nationhood than for the PAP to collect yet another resounding victory at the polls.

I hope I am right as¬†I can’t see PM and most of his cabinet ministers continuing to rush around for another year as they have been doing this year at myriad functions that seek to thank this, that and the other besides the Pioneer Generation!

If nothing else, some of them will collapse from exhaustion while others because of their packed please-the-people schedules will have no choice but to let their portfolio run on auto pilot.

Not a good state or slate to go into election battle surely?

So shall I bet my Pioneer Generation Card against your SICC card that the January 19 2015 sitting for this Parliament will be its last ūüėÜ


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¬†ūüôĄ

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. ūüôĄ

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! ūüėÜ 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

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! ūüėÜ on Youtube. Family pix have been included as it insists on visuals and audio ūüôĄ

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! ūüė•

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 ūüôĄ

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! ūüôĄ

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? ūüėÄ

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 ūüėõ

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! ūüėÜ

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 ūüė•