Sunday, 20 April 2014

Terrible mid-term report card for the A-grade pay PAP Government

Terrible mid-term report card for the A-grade pay PAP Government
In the Straits Times Insight Section of 19 April 2014, the newspaper published their results of a survey done of 500 Singaporeans. It would be interesting to ask who these 500 Singaporeans were. And assuming by association that they would try to interview grassroots or governmental-affiliated people, the results are even more disastrous. (note in point, the CNA telecast of conversation with PM LEE where they discovered majorty of the participants were from grassroots organizations.) ( As usual, the newspaper being a mouth piece of the Government did their best to water-down the impact and tried to state that several changes needed more time to be effective. Unfortunately, it does not hide the fact that the mid-term report card was terrible. For a country obsessed with grades, I have taken the liberty of translating the survey results.

(1) Health Care and the elderly, survey results “B”, actual “C”

The Government started a charm offensive with the Pioneer Generation Package and Medishield Life to defray health costs and focus on the people older than 65 years olds who has been Singaporeans since 1986. (note : the second criteria was after Singaporeans feedback that there needs to be numbers of years, reflecting the concerns of free given citizenships by the government to foreigners over the years.) I would have to give credit to the Government in their better PR efforts to gain political leverage by publicizing the PGP and Medishield Life. It seemed to make an impact on the survey results. It will help all families with elderly members better manage health care costs and concerns, especially the well-established phrase “It is better and cheaper to die in Singapore, than to get sick and undergo costly treatments in Singapore Hospitals to die all the same.”
However, let’s be pragmatic, did the Government suddenly realized that the silver hair Tsunami was coming ? No, it was well known after they changed the birth rate policy to correct the future lopsided demographics. Then why this package now? In one simple word, Votes. The Pioneer Generation, those above 65 years of age, were known to be staunchly PAP supporters, having gone through the nation-building efforts together and the majority have seen significant improvements to their own and children lives. So it must have been an amazing vote swing in the 2011 elections that have displayed the unhappiness of this Generation to the missteps in housing, transport, foreign workers policy that they see affecting themselves and their off-springs.  Unfortunately for the PAP, trust once lost will take much more than a PGP to regain back. In 2011, the younger generation influenced the votes of the pioneer generation, in 2016, the grandchildren generation will greatly influence the votes.

(2) Housing, survey results “B+”, actual “B-“

The intense increase in BTO HDB flats and seven rounds of cooling measures have served the government well. COVs and the waiting time for newly wedded couples have come down dramatically. Also PRs cannot buy HDB flats until they waited three years. This is reflected in the survey. But still bear in mind that Singapore property prices are still one of the highest in the world and the ratio of salary to housing prices still remain at unsustainable levels. Worst still foreigner ownership of non-landed private property are still continues unabated and welcomed by the Government.
(3) Transport, survey results “D-”, actual “F”

Of all the sections, Transportation fared the worst, this affects everyone everyday when they go to school, work, shopping, etc. All the promised improvement of more trains, more maintenance, more buses have not translated to a more comfortable ride. Now 3 years after the 2011 elections, we still read about regular breakdowns on the MRT and terrible long bus waits. And despite all these, they had the audacity to raise the fare rates. Car prices and COEs are at ridiculous prices and yet we see the rich foreigners flaunting their money by driving Maserati, Ferraris and Porsches on the congested Singapore roads. Attempts to correct COE prices, by insisting on a higher downpayment and tweaking the category did nothing to improve the situation, only re-emphasizing the helplessness of middle-class Singaporeans. I doubt these issues will be solved satisfactorily before the next election and the Transport Minister will just be replaced again having walked off with a handsome multi-million salary.

(4) Foreign Workers, survey results “C“, actual “D-”  

The survey claims that foreign workers policy was not on the high priority of Singaporeans, I think they have got it wrong. Cases such as Anton Casey ( and the recent Philippines Day Celebration show that the issue of foreigners in Singapore is still very much in the forefront. The people Singaporeans interact with everyday are very much in their face. When you have trouble communicating with the service waitress or when every nurse has a foreign accent, it is a stark reminder how Singapore has changed due to the ineptness of this Government. We need foreigners in many sectors of our industries, but what are the right amount and the right integration timeframe so as not to erode our Singapore core?  Is the Government going to correctly revise the Population White Paper for the next elections? What is the acceptable timeframe for a PR to decide to convert to Singapore Citizenship? These are unanswered questions that should been addressed.


Some of the sectors seemed to be at acceptable grades, however, these need to be put into perspective to the salary grade of our government. Our first Prime Minister claims that in order to get the A-team in Singapore to run the country you need to pay them A-grade salaries, even more than any country in the world. I think Singaporeans have been seriously shortchanged. If Singapore was a private company and this was the mid-term report of the Executive Team, the Board of Directors and Shareholders would already have asked them to resign. Unfortunately for Singaporeans, we do not have a ready alternative in place, so we grit our teeth & put up with a less than desirable team. It is Singaporeans’ imperative to build up a credible alternative that would be able to function and deliver like the A-grade team we deserve.

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