Issue is why PAP insist on changed position when there was none

I refer to the 31 May 2014 Straits Times letter “Issue is whether WP changed position on foreign workers” by Minister of State Mr Desmond Lee.

Mr Lee argued that in the case of WP, the need for time to master policymaking doesn’t apply to the fundamental principles of honesty and integrity. Mr Lee is mistaken; WP doesn’t need time to master honesty and integrity as it already is head and shoulders above PAP in these areas.

Mr Lee questioned whether WP had changed its position on foreign workers and whether it has acknowledged that change. He questioned the honesty, transparency and accountability of Mr Low and his colleagues and referred to PM Lee supposedly pointing out the falseness of Mr Low’s claim that WP had not flip-flopped that was supposedly recorded in parliament reports. Mr Lee was wrong again as parliament reports do not record any flip flop by WP. It is wishful thinking on the part of Mr Lee and PM Lee that WP had flipped flopped because it had not. WP was the first to honestly tell the parliament about the problem of excessive immigration at a time when most PAP members didn’t. This speaks volumes about the honesty of WP vis-a-vis PAP. Subsequently when PAP went into a knee jerk scramble to stranglehold the inflow, WP again honestly told parliament about the problem of such knee jerk reaction.

Mr Lee must understand that examples abound where warning about too much at first and then warning against too sudden a change later are not at odds with each other. For example:

• Warning about the obesity of a man who weighs 300 kg is not at odds with warning him not to shed too much weight too quickly as that might kill him
• Warning about the overheating of the engine is not at odds with warning against dousing it with ice cold water to quickly cool it as the sudden and extreme temperature change might stress the engine instead
• Warning about the excessive altitude of an airplane is not at odds with warning against too sudden a descent as that might stress the airframe or cause discomfort to the passengers
• Warning about the high speed of a car is not at odds with warning against suddenly braking the car as the vehicle behind might not brake in time and end up crashing into the car

Hence, WP’s warning about too much at first and too fast later are not at odds with each other, are not flip flops of each other. Mr Lee’s caution about Singapore’s future being dependent on constructive politics, honesty and integrity of politicians should therefore be applied on himself and his party first because insisting there was flip flop when there was none is neither constructive, honest nor exemplificative of integrity.

PAP and WP argue over immigration issue

I refer too to the 31 May 2014 Straits Times article “PAP and WP argue over immigration issue”.

Mr Cedric Foo demanded that Mr Chen Show Mao state whether he would welcome immigrants and whether he would rally Singaporeans to support bringing in immigrants given there will be 900,000 Singaporeans above 65 years old and that families are getting smaller.

Mr Foo need not have been so worried. The government has been assuring us time and again that our CPF system is the best in the world and sufficient to meet our retirement needs:

• In other words, the CPF system is designed to cater fully for the retirement needs of those who are below middle-income, while at the same time, cater significantly for the retirement needs of the middle income group.
Speech by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin Minister of State (Manpower and National Development) At The Retirement Conference “Improving Retirement Security in Singapore” At Hilton Hotel, Singapore On 12 April 2012 At 9:15 am

• Ultimately, the CPF allows us to have peace of mind because you do have a constant stream of income at the point of retirement and it ensures that will continue, rather than you having to depend on someone else or the state
Straits Times, CPF provides peace of mind: Chuan-Jin, 30 May 2014

• SINGAPORE’S Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme has been named one of the top 10 pension systems in the world, among the likes of countries such as Denmark and Sweden.
Straits Times, CPF scheme among top 10 pension systems in the world, 7 Oct 2013

• Mr Tharman said: “The results of the study are an important validation of the CPF.”
Straits Times, CPF provides comfortable post-retirement income: Study, 20 Sep 2012

More importantly, Mr Tan Chuan Jin explained how our CPF system solves the problem of an ageing population and shrinking workforce:

• Many countries do the same through a pension system. They collect taxes or get citizens to contribute to a social security fund. This pooled monies is then paid out to citizens who reach a certain age. However, many of these systems are facing challenges, because those who are young are now paying for the old. As most countries age, there are fewer and fewer young people paying for more and more aged people. The status quo cannot hold. Either taxes will have to rise, or old people will get a lower and lower pay-out. The pension payout age is also being increased. In Singapore, we have the CPF. Rather than pool all our monies together, every individual saves for his own retirement via his personal individual CPF account. We contribute monthly into the account … We then make sure this CPF account grows at a reasonable interest rate without risk.
Mr Tan Chuan Jin, The Truth About Our CPF and the Minimum Sum, 25 May 2014

In other words, what Mr Tan was saying is that since each and every one of us will be paying for our own retirement needs through our individual CPF accounts, we avoid the issue of a shrinking pool of young people supporting a larger pool of aged people faced by other countries. Mr Foo was thus unduly worried about the 900,000 Singaporeans above 65 years and a shrinking workforce, because no matter how many Singaporeans are above 65 years old or how small our workforce is, CPF is the answer. Conversely, if we have to worry about population ageing and a shrinking work force despite our CPF, does it not suggest that CPF is not the silver bullet it is touted to be?

Mr Arthur Fong then took issue with Mr Chen’s supposed prevarication on Mr Foo’s question. Actually, if Mr Fong were to view past videos of Mr Chen’s replies in parliament, they have always been slow and deliberative. There is no evidence that Mr Chen’s latest reply was significantly slower than his previous ones. There is no evidence that Mr Chen prevaricated this time.

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One Response to “Issue is why PAP insist on changed position when there was none”

  1. Fred Says:

    On CPF, HDB, TFR and retirement I’ll like to contribute my 2 cents worth. I am no writer and therefore I’ll come straight to the point without any embellishment or literally niceties.

    In our pursuit of economic gains our culture had inadvertently taken a wrong turn during the early days of development. Instead of sticking with our culture of having extended families all living under one roof, we opted for nuclear families. The HDB didn’t help matters by building more flats instead of building bigger flats so the extended family can live together (the economy of building big flats vs small is another topic for another time).

    The benefits of living together with parents and siblings are manifold. The newly weds could have more babies as the extended family can help out with taking care of the children while the young parents can concentrate of earning their living. Why, we don’t even need to have a maid at all!

    Having babies is an emotional calling that government incentives cannot replace (the gov and experts should have realized that by now). No maids or nannies can replace the care and love of a grandparent. My mother took care of both my children and the emotional attachment is priceless. We were a happy extended family. If my financial situation was slightly better then my wife and I would have loved to have more children. Perhaps there are some people out there who would agree with me on this. If only HDB would build bigger flats for extended families perhaps we would not have suffered from the TFR problem we have now.

    On the question of CPF, it was an agreement between the government and the people that at the retirement age of 55 the people have the right to collect the money they have in the CPF without any conditions.

    All the “tweaking” that the government did have diluted the original objective of this retirement fund. The government was too eager to “teach” the citizen the fundamentals of “investing” their pension fund like investing in the stock market, buying more expensive apartments. All this smacks of growing the GDP with the government leading the population on economic activities. Instead of forcing the people to subscribe to a minimum sum, the government can extend the withdrawal date of the CPF according to the retirement age; eg. 62 or 65 years old.

    Medisave and medishield should not have been in the CPF scheme at all. That is a different subject for a different time.

    The above are my personal views. I know many more knowledgeable people may disagree with me and I can accept that.

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