Debate with PAP MPs after my Parliament speech

After I delivered my maiden speech in Parliament on 18 October 2011, several PAP MPs rose to rebut some of the points I raised. Below are excerpts of the debate.

Gerald Giam in ParliamentAfter I delivered my maiden speech in Parliament on 18 October 2011, several PAP MPs rose to rebut some of the points I raised. Below are excerpts of the debate extracted from the Parliamentary Hansard, which contains the transcript of all Parliament proceedings.

“(…)” denotes portions of the MPs’ speeches which I have excluded because they do not refer to me or my speech.

———

The Minister of State for Trade and Industry (Mr Teo Ser Luck): (…)

I think Mr Gerald Giam raised some daily issues – healthcare, transport, housing. While there could be planning and forecasting in the past, but who can predict the right number between demand and supply so accurately? And it is always a challenge to always find the optimal balance. And as the Member Mr Lee Yi Shyan has also mentioned, there are a lot of trade-offs. But, nevertheless, with the issues that we face today, there are a lot of different policy announcements that have come out after the 2011 General Elections. Most notably, one of those that really interests me is healthcare. That is because in my own constituency, I do have a polyclinic and I do understand it is crowded. But I think the Ministry of Health has also made certain announcements. There were three major ones: community health centre which actually deals with partnering the community to provide health screening efforts, Primary Care Partnership Schemes, family medicine clinics. I think all these are actually policies and measures to help bring healthcare nearer to the community to ensure that they do not crowd into a centralised area. Personally for me, within my constituency and district, we have the intent to set up community health screening centres to help our constituency out there. So, these are policies put in place to help the situation. It is not that the Government has done nothing about it. There are things being done right now. I would suggest that we be patient, and I agree with the Member, Mr Gerald Giam, that we have to be constructive and, hopefully, with all these robust debates we can come up with a good solution for all. (…)

(Debate resumed after a break)

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Mr Speaker, I like to respond to a point of clarification from Mr Teo Ser Luck. He asked who can predict the right number, the right figure between supply and demand in the area of transport, healthcare and housing capacity. Did the MOM and ICA not know we were letting in this huge influx of foreigners? Did they inform MOH, MOT and MND? And was the left hand not talking to the right hand, or was it because the imperative of economic growth took precedence over the welfare and the comfort of our people?

(MCYS Minister Chan Chun Sing makes a ministerial statement)

Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah): Mr Speaker, Sir, I rise in support of the Motion and thank the President for his Address. The opening of the Twelfth Parliament portends new aspirations and challenges for Singapore as it enters her next phase of development. That part of Mr Gerald Giam’s speech, I agree with. Mr Gerald Giam says he agrees with the Government’s bold measures laid out in the President’s Address. So, he agrees they are “bold�; in other words, measures of conviction, and then adds, “The Workers’ Party will hold the Government accountable to achieve these measures.� I am afraid that displays a misunderstanding of the process. The Government is not accountable to the Workers’ Party. The Government is accountable to the people of Singapore. I, as an elected Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, am accountable to all my Singaporean residents. Therefore, it is the people of Singapore to whom we are and must remain accountable as a government.
Mr Giam then talks about housing and transport, and I would like to ask him not to “throw the baby out with the bath waterâ€�. Housing in Singapore − 80% of the people are housed in public housing – good quality flats, good neighbourhoods. And a large amount of Singaporeans − about 80% or more − own their own homes. Our housing is the envy of many First World countries. Therefore, to suggest we have failed in housing, I think that is unfair. Finetune housing, yes, I think we can agree. Everybody in this House can agree. Finetuning housing, as Mr Gerald Giam, I think, intends to do, is a tacit concession that the PAP foundations in housing are correct. Finetuning is always an admission of that the foundations, to start with, were good, long lasting and should be preserved. So finetuning, together with Mr Giam, we can do.
Similarly with transport, I ask Mr Giam not to “throw the baby out with the bath water�. In major cities proximate to Singapore, like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, gridlock is the characteristic when you are on public roads; in Singapore, less so. So what Mr Giam is subconsciously doing is finetuning PAP policies, which is a tacit concession, that the foundations are correct.
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We have scaled much altitude with this Government. The Member wants to work together to scale new apexes. I can agree with that. I think everybody in this House can agree with that. But we should not chide the foundations upon which we were built.

Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah): Mr Speaker, Sir, I rise in support of the Motion and thank the President for his Address. The opening of the Twelfth Parliament portends new aspirations and challenges for Singapore as it enters her next phase of development. That part of Mr Gerald Giam’s speech, I agree with. Mr Gerald Giam says he agrees with the Government’s bold measures laid out in the President’s Address. So, he agrees they are “bold” in other words, measures of conviction, and then adds, “The Workers’ Party will hold the Government accountable to achieve these measures.” I am afraid that displays a misunderstanding of the process. The Government is not accountable to the Workers’ Party. The Government is accountable to the people of Singapore. I, as an elected Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, am accountable to all my Singaporean residents. Therefore, it is the people of Singapore to whom we are and must remain accountable as a government.

Mr Giam then talks about housing and transport, and I would like to ask him not to “throw the baby out with the bath water”. Housing in Singapore  80% of the people are housed in public housing  good quality flats, good neighbourhoods. And a large amount of Singaporeans  about 80% or more  own their own homes. Our housing is the envy of many First World countries. Therefore, to suggest we have failed in housing, I think that is unfair. Finetune housing, yes, I think we can agree. Everybody in this House can agree. Finetuning housing, as Mr Gerald Giam, I think, intends to do, is a tacit concession that the PAP foundations in housing are correct. Finetuning is always an admission of that the foundations, to start with, were good, long lasting and should be preserved. So finetuning, together with Mr Giam, we can do.

Similarly with transport, I ask Mr Giam not to “throw the baby out with the bath water”. In major cities proximate to Singapore, like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, gridlock is the characteristic when you are on public roads; in Singapore, less so. So what Mr Giam is subconsciously doing is finetuning PAP policies, which is a tacit concession, that the foundations are correct.

We have scaled much altitude with this Government. The Member wants to work together to scale new apexes. I can agree with that. I think everybody in this House can agree with that. But we should not chide the foundations upon which we were built.

(…)

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to clarify some points that Mr Christopher de Souza made. Mr de Souza said that the Government is not accountable to MPs. Parliament’s role is to keep the Executive Government −

Mr Christopher de Souza: That is not what I said, Mr Speaker.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Mr Speaker, Mr Christopher de Souza said that the Government is not accountable to the Workers’ Party MPs. Mr Speaker, Parliament’s role is to keep the Executive Government −

Mr Christopher De Souza: Mr Speaker, that is not what I said.

Mr Speaker: Mr Giam, I think the point was he said that the Government is not accountable to the Workers’ Party.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: But Parliament’s role is to keep the Executive Government accountable under the adoption of separation of powers. Sir, I would like to ask Mr de Souza, does he accept this constitutional principle? Secondly, he pointed out that I was throwing the baby out of the bath water. I did not say that the PAP had got everything wrong or that we had failed in housing. He had put those words in my mouth. What I did say is that there are many things that need to be corrected in housing, transport and healthcare. Some of them may be finetuning; some of them may amount to rather large overhauls of the system. And it does not mean that because we are overhauling the system, it means that we are throwing the baby out of the bath water.

Mr Christopher de Souza: Mr Speaker, Sir, I did not say that the government of the day is not accountable to MPs. I did not say that the government of the day is not accountable to the Workers’ Party MPs. The government of the day is not accountable to the People’s Action Party. In the same vein, the government of the day is accountable to the people of Singapore and, therefore, that is a cornerstone, a hallmark of our democratic process. On his point about throwing the baby out with the bath water: it is not throwing out the baby out of the bath water. There were tacit remarks about how the PAP Government had failed the people, especially in the last few years where housing is concerned, because the supply of housing had not met with the demand which the Member attributes to the high number of foreigners and the left hand not talking to the right hand – MOT not talking to MOM, MOM not talking to ICA, and so on. While we can agree that these policies need finetuning, what I cannot agree with the Member is that the foundations of the policy are incorrect because however you skin the cat, however you look at it, 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing and 80% of Singaporeans own their own homes. So, I beg to differ. I think I was correct to say that we should be very careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, given the sturdy foundations.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Mr Speaker, unless I read my text wrongly, I said that these are bold goals which my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party will hold the Government accountable over the next five years. By that, I mean my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party in Parliament. So I did mean the Workers’ Party MPs. Secondly, I thank him for correcting my English. I must have been nervous when I spoke about the “bath water”. I did mean throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Mr Speaker: Gentlemen, I think the point has been made. Mr Low, unless you have another point of clarification.

Mr Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied): Mr Speaker, the Member said that the Government is not accountable to the PAP. I do not know whether I heard him wrongly. If I did not, then perhaps he may want to explain who goes into election: the Government or the PAP?

Mr Christopher de Souza: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to clarify. When we take our oath, when we affirm or we swear, our duties and responsibilities focus on the people of Singapore. That relationship between the people of Singapore and an elected Member of Parliament is proximate [Interruptions] −

Mr Speaker: Mr Low, let the Member finish.

Mr Christopher de Souza: The responsibility between an elected Member of Parliament and people whom he represents, that is the nexus, that is the relationship, and that relationship bridges the accountability mechanism, and that is something that I think cannot be diluted. Does Mr Low disagree with that?

Mr Speaker: Gentlemen, I think the point has been made. Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef.

(Debate resumes with several more speakers.)

The Minister of State for Defence and Education (Mr Lawrence Wong): (…)

Mr Speaker, Sir, I have taken some time to go through the details of what happened to the last decade because, listening to some of the points that were made earlier by Members, I do not think a full picture was given to Members and to Singaporeans. Earlier, Mr Gerald Giam and Mr Chen Show Mao spoke about the value of diversity, about different views and about constructive debate in the House, and not scoring political points. I fully agree with them and I share these views. I hope therefore that Members of the Workers’ Party will look at the data and the facts of what happened over the past decade, to appreciate the hard trade-offs that we faced and to understand the basis of the decisions that were made. Perhaps if Mr Giam does that, then I hope he will be persuaded that what happened in the last 10 years was not the PAP’s biggest policy failure, as he put it, but the PAP’s success in steering Singapore through difficult times and doing good for our people.

(…)

(Gerald’s note: I did not respond to this. It is best left to Singaporeans to decide whom they agree with.)

Dr Janil Puthucheary (Pasir Ris-Punggol): Mr Speaker, Sir, I am privileged to rise in support of the Motion of thanks to the President for his Address. I had intended to demonstrate some diversity in highlighting two Government policies that I would like to criticise, but I feel I must digress a little regarding the points that Mr Gerald Giam made about the healthcare system. Sir, I realise that this is not an academic convention or a scientific meeting. It is a political debate and one may argue about the balance between fact and opinion, perspective and data. It is my humble opinion that the data Mr Giam quoted is based on flawed study, and not generalisable to our situation in healthcare regardless of whoever endorsed it at that time it was done.

Sir, given my constituency’s location, I would also whole-heartedly endorse the bringing forward of the timeframe for the building of healthcare facilities in Sengkang. Although Mr Giam highlighted the issue of total hospital bed capacity, he failed to highlight the fact that the real issue is one of a balance between acute hospital bed capacity and chronic and convalesce in care, which is the largest burden on our relatively excellent healthcare system, and that this was debated extensively in previous parliaments, and that the need for a shift in funding towards community care was already established by the previous Government.

(…)

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Mr Speaker, a point of clarification in response to Dr Janil Puthucheary. He said my data and my speech were based on flawed study. Now, let me quote from the Department of Statistics’ Yearbook of Statistics Singapore 2011.

He said that the figures I gave were based on “Acute Care”. That is incorrect. It was based on “Overall Hospital Beds” in Singapore. The Member was suggesting that there are actually more beds in the “Extended Care” sector because of our ageing population. That is actually not true because in 2000, there were 4,007 Extended Care beds but in 2010, there were 3,172 which is a 20% overall drop. In the public sector Extended Care alone, there is a 39% drop from 3,292 to 2,010. And the only saving grace actually is in the private sector which saw an increase from 715 in 2000 to 1,162, that is a 447-bed increase. But I note that in the footnote it says that with effect from 2002, the management of Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital has been handed over to Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society. So, that probably accounts for the figure in 2005 jumping to 1,302. But from 2005 to 2010, it has actually dropped off again to 1,162.

Dr Janil Puthucheary: Mr Speaker, Sir, the study that was flawed was not the one quoting our hospital statistics. Perhaps I did not make myself entirely clear. It was the study he quoted regarding the Royal College from the United Kingdom about the linking between capacity and excessive infections which has been debated extensively in the scientific literature. I do not take issue with his facts quoting the number of hospital beds. What I was suggesting was that the improvement in total bed capacity that is going to occur over the next few years was a result of far-sighted policy put in place over the last two Parliament sessions.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Mr Speaker, maybe the Member would like to clarify which part of the study was flawed because that was not just one study which I looked up, there were other studies as well that did mention about the link between overcrowding and infections in hospitals.

Dr Janil Puthucheary: Mr Speaker, I will try to be brief and not get into the technicalities of microbiology nor epidemiology. There is a link perhaps between what happens in a hospital and the infection rate. I was merely pointing out that the specific study he chose to quote which was endorsed by the Royal College was based on flawed data. In my opinion, I do not think the technicalities of my professional opinion and his reading of that is perhaps best debated in this House. I am willing to proceed with that if there was a request but I do not think it is appropriate, Sir.

Mr Speaker: Gentlemen, I think we will leave it there. Dr Lim Wee Kiak.


Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

16 thoughts on “Debate with PAP MPs after my Parliament speech”

  1. On an aside, it sounds like Michael Palmer is doing well at moderating the debate as the new Speaker of Parliament by giving ample opportunity for both sides to be heard.

  2. Well done! I’d have thought you a champion debater!

    But if this goes on for the next five years, absolutely nothing will have been achieved. Pap are only interested in defending their positions, being pedantic (not accountable to wp mp’s takes the cake!) and scoring political points.

  3. Gerald Giam, you told ST you were “surprised that the policy issues in (your) speech, such as health care and housing, remained unchallenged”.

    You added: ‘Instead, seemingly innocuous statements – like ‘my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party will hold the Government accountable’ – sparked a response and debate.”

    The blog entry EXACTLY refuted what you said above – three PAP members DID rebut you on healthcare and transport.

    I have written about your lapse into misinformation here: https://www.facebook.com/n​otes/bryan-tittuppy/gerald​-giam-wp-practising-disinf​ormation-to-the-public-blu​nderously/1015035936389397​7

  4. @Gerald, Your speech had roused the MIW from their slumbers …. the speech delivered by you were so stinging that only rebuttal and being disorderly is their only capable replies.

  5. Dr Janil Puthucheary: “… I do not take issue with his facts quoting the number of hospital beds. What I was suggesting was that the improvement in total bed capacity that is going to occur over the next few years was a result of far-sighted policy put in place over the last two Parliament sessions.”

    So, the deterioration in total bed capacity that occurred over the last few years was a result of what or who? Whose blindness, stupidity, complacency, incompetence? Shish…

  6. @BryanT, not sure I agree with you. Teo Ser Luck did not exactly rebut Gerald Giam. He was more like trying to mitigate the policy problems by saying that there were policy tradeoffs and ask Gerald Giam to be patient. Chris De Souza was not rebutting about policy issues. He was splitting hairs over pretty irrelevant issues and almost got his tongued tied by his own arguments. Janil Puthucheary tried to disagree but quoted the wrong statistics that Gerald cited and this is quite clear if you listen to or read Gerald’s speech in full. Ministers or MOSs were surprisingly quiet and did not really rebut the speech in substance. Lui Tuck Yew did not and could not give an answer on the real reason why the trains were not running at 2mins interval at peak times. Overall, I think Gerald was correct in saying what he said about responses from the PAP benches.

  7. BryanT,

    You misunderstood what I said to Straits Times, possibly because they didn’t print the full quote I sent to them. Here is what I said to ST in the email interview (on Thu 27 Oct night):

    “I was a little surprised that the policy issues and suggestions I raised in my speech weren’t challenged, but instead seemingly innocuous statements like ‘my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party will hold the Government accountable’ sparked a response and debate.”

    Note that I said “policy issues and suggestions”, not just “policy issues”. Taken as a whole, what I meant was that PAP MPs didn’t rebut the policy suggestions in my speech, not that they didn’t rebut my criticisms of the Govt (of course I expect them to!)

    I had offered several policy suggestions, including expanding the coverage of MediShield insurance and reducing direct payments by patients at the time they need care; stepping up measures to cool down the resale HDB flat market; and reducing MRT overcrowding by increasing train frequency during peak hours.

    None of these were challenged. Instead, the PAP MPs responded to (1) my criticisms of PAP Govt policies; (2) my remark about accountability; and (3) suggesting that my research source was ‘flawed’.

    So in conclusion, the debate transcript posted on my blog is consistent with what I told ST (but not necessarily what they printed).

  8. @Dennis, well done to point out the lame attempt by BryanT to discredit Gerald Giam, and even to stoop so low as to accuse Gerald Giam of “misinformation”.

    It is no surprise to me, coming from a well-known nit-picker of opposition politicians.

  9. Dear GG,

    It is your first speech. So it is good. But not good enough.

    Learn more from LKY speech. Avoid debating trivial words. Provide solid, extreme and non-refutable examples (there are many of them available). Go straight to the basic points using those examples. Thus you have a strong basic of arguments.

    When you debate, it is not for debating sake, like university days. When you debate, it is to represent those people who have suffered, who have given their life away, who have lost a great amount of their hope, etc. This is a very strong underlying reason for you to debate to represent them.

  10. GG,

    In short, you debate not with your mouth, but with your heart.

    It is your heart that resonate with those who suffer, who left struggling, who lost their home, etc, that can give you solid arguments to move forward in debate.

  11. Gerald Giam, thanks for your clarifications above. Please bear with me – I have a few points as rejoinder.

    Let’s first be clear that there is hardly any possibility of me misunderstanding what ST reported, which is: “Mr Giam of the WP says he was surprised that the policy issues in his speech, such as health care and housing, remained unchallenged.”

    Instead, your quibble is over the omission of the particular phrase, “and suggestions”, by the ST journalists.

    I disagree that the inclusion of the particular phrase is material to any conclusion on whether PAP members responded on the very important matters of heathcare and housing which you touched on in Parliament. What they did was to challenge you on basic assumptions about the current state of affairs, and some of the premises which underpin current policies.

    I suppose that is why Chris de Souza chose to speak about the “foundations of the policy” – the fundamental premises. Teo Ser Luck clarified that there are already “policies and measures to help bring healthcare nearer to the community”. Janil spoke about “balance between acute hospital bed capacity and chronic and convalesce in care”.

    In any decent discourse, clarification of these fundamentals and basic understanding must and should precede any discussions on proposals and “suggestions” such as yours.

    If you still feel that the phrase, “and suggestions”, is vital in capturing the essence of what you were trying to say, then my suggestion is for you to raise it with ST. Since the impression given by your statement is that none of the PAP members focused on the relevant issues you raised, ST might want to provide an editorial clarification, with your input.

    Despite what I have said above, what I primarily cannot comprehend
    is why there were expectations of “suggestions” being challenged in the first place.

    Besides pointing out shortcomings of existing policies, (good) MPs are expected to raise proposals and suggestions to Ministers. But as a norm, I do not expect the Ministers to immediately respond or challenge backbenchers’ ideas and suggestions.

    In fact, our expectation should be for the Ministers to take careful note of what has been proposed and consider these as part of future policy reviews, if they are viable and desirable. If the suggestions are “non-starters” (such as the one that Lina Chiam proposed about letting people buy flats at 21(!)), they should just quietly ignore them to preserve parliamentary decorum, which they kindly did in Lina’s case.

    Seeking clarifications on suggestions are fine, but there is NO need to challenge “suggestions”, something which you inexplicably expected and continue to reiterate in the response above.

    PS. My suggestion to you is that in your future responses to the media, you might want to choose your words more meticulously (and tightly) so as not to allow any false impressions to pervade. Otherwise, it might diminish WP’s objective of being “rational and responsible” (in its public utterances). And no, I would not be a (little) surprised if my “suggestion” to you is not challenged.

    (Please note that I did tag one of the journalists involved, Elgin Toh, for this FB note. Perhaps he would like to comment on why he omitted the words “and suggestions” from Gerald, which the latter finds so critical. It could well be that Elgin agrees with me that Ministers are not expected to “challenge” suggestions as a norm, and that Elgin had omitted the phrase, as a favour to Gerald.)

  12. @BryanT, after being caught for alledging that Mr Gerald Giam is “trying to misinform” the public through the Straits Times, the LEAST of an HONORABLE thing for you to do is to apologise, and to remove your post with the “Ministry of Misinformation” seal on it.

    Your behaviour to leave the post as it is, is the real MINISTRY OF MISINFORMATION. I cannot verify if you have been honorable and remove your post because you have chosen to block me, probably because you know you cannot stand to scrutiny. Your feeble attempt at fabrications has been recorded for posterity under “Fabrcations About The Opposition”. Congratulations for making it! :)

  13. Hi! Gerald,
    Could you raise the issue of depending on foreign sportsmen for our desperate pursue for gold medals in parliament? I do not understand the logic of spending millions on these instant Singaporeans to get the gold medals for Singapore. This stupid policy is telling our young that true blue Singaporeans are incapable of getting medals and have to depend on foreigners. We can use this money to get worldclass coaches and facilities to nurture true blue Singaporeans. The current table tennis competition held in Singapore is like China Team A versus China Team B.

  14. I think i have heard more than once on the statement from the government about “more than 80% of Singaporeans own their homes.”
    How does this come about? Do we really own our homes or the banks do? And do we really own it? Aren’t we leasing our HDBs from the government? I think it might give a false sense of security to Singaporeans. Yet, ignorance is sometimes blissful.

  15. First of all, I will like to applaud you for doing very well in your first appearance in parliament. I think you remained very calm which is something I could not have done. I would have to take some sleeping pills to go through it. Not because I am disinterested, but because I would have lost my cool as I feel many things said made me feel like I’m an idiot. But I’m not. Contrary to what PAP thinks, people think.

    In response to the various views recorded:

    Mr Teo Ser Luck: To me, the Government’s job is to look after the people and solve issues. Either policies work, or they fail. Initiatives may be put into place after the GE, but the question is, why are such new initiatives required? Earlier policies have failed? No point telling me no one can predict supply and demand. We’re talking about healthcare here. It’s not some free trade we’re discussing. Either you get the healthcare system right or you failed. I’m disinterested to know that the Government is doing something. I just want to see results. If previous policies failed, listen to alternatives. I’m not interested in hearing that the Government is doing something when what has been done failed. Why should the people be patient about healthcare? If someone is dying, will it help if the doctor asks him to be patient and wait for his turn slowly? Obviously it’s not growth having taken precedence over the wellbeing of the people. It’s growth at the expense of the people.

    Mr Christopher de Souza: Waste of parliament’s time and taxpayer’s money to be picking on words. Does it make a difference if it’s throwing the baby out of or with the bath water? He knew what was meant. Chose to pick on it. Give him an “A” for English, and for being silly too. I’m not sure if you indeed intend to finetune policies, else his conclusions are self delusional. In terms of public housing, I don’t know what foundation was he referring to. If the foundation is to provide public housing, and build roads in terms of transportation, am I being crazy but aren’t they the same foundation EVERYWHERE? The issue is whether the bricks that are laid above are done correctly. If it’s only finetuning that PAP expects to turn the tables around to secure more votes in the future, I think he is greatly mistaken. And do take note the choice of words to say PAP policies. It is a true reflection of the state of things, but the mentality that the Executive and a political party are one is something that needs to be pondered upon. Perhaps that might just answer Mr Low’s question as to why the Government is not accountable to PAP (since it’s the same?). I’m glad Mr de Souza recalled the oath made. However, I find it difficult to comprehend how with falling support from the people the MPs sworn to take care of, that the belief still holds that finetuning is all is required. I think we need to demolish the house and build it up again. Not demolished within a day but with thorough planning. And definitely not insisting that the old ways are right and using nails to hold brick together to prevent the house from collapsing in the near term and KIV the issue of not using proper cement. I hope WP will not scale new apexes with PAP, since PAP’s apexes are gauged with how much money the Government can make the people generate for them, and how high ministerial pay can be without correlation to the overall support and happiness of the people (which as a side point, I have always felt it’s fine with high salaries, but a component must be included to take into account the last GE support, eg. 60% x pay).

    I’m not sure if I got this right. 80% of Singaporeans own their own homes? As a young professional, I am fortunate to be earning what most Singaporeans are earning. But my house is still on mortgage. I must take some crazy pills to say I own the place. It is like a finance lease. If I don’t pay my mortgage, will I lose the place? The Americans have perhaps taken the same view, thinking that they own the home when they gear their lifestyle excessively. Foreclosures came. Ownership? I think Mr de Souza should acknowledge that ownership to the rest of the Singaporeans is no different from how he views ownership of his own house (and I’m assuming he’s not under any mortgage any more). Yes, we have the power to sell despite the mortgage, but that is not the only defining factor to ownership. Again, think of a finance lease.

    Mr Lawrence Wong: Well, he’s right. WP should look at the data and facts. I’m not going to take WP side just for the sake of not taking PAP’s side. But…….GIVE WP WHATEVER FREAKING DATA THAT IT REQUESTS THEN!!!!!! Sorry, could not control myself. Actually give the MPs and NMPs (PAP or otherwise) all data requested. I think MPs and NMPs from WP should also recognize that in parliament, all should work for the better of Singapore. The same oath was taken, whether PAP or WP. There is no point going into “accountable to WP” or “accountable to PAP” since there is no benefit regardless of the answer. Being accountable to Singaporeans is too obvious to mention. The PAP had been busy getting their brownie points by making money and was blinded, and the people had reminded them during the GE. Let’s hope WP can keep the momentum up and continuing doing the great job and hopefully no similar reminders will be given in the future.

    Dr Janil Puthucheary: Ok, I must admit I do not understand what the divergence in views are about. All I know is a report was just dismissed as flawed. I am absolutely sure that whatever he would have said if he had done so will be subject to debate in the medical world. Yet, he basically concluded the data is flawed and sees now point in going into technicalities since perhaps he thinks you’re too stupid to conprehend. All I know is, if bed capacity is an issue now and the improvement will take place over the next few years, I must have elephant skin to says it’s far-sighted policy. If I have spent all my salary within the first week and have no money for food, and decide that I’m going to set a portion of my next salary to buy myself a meal in three weeks time, am I far-sighted? Man…..I must be god now since I know I need to set aside money for food before I starve.

    Just some other points to rant. Personally, I think the public housing issue is the biggest issue I take issue with. I recognize that the hole the PAP dug is too deep to simply jump out of. Years of using the public housing the support private home prices, benefitting the rich, making Singaporeans work longer to stretch mortgages etc. has made it such that an economic shock will result if public housing is to devalue to quickly. May I suggest you bring out the issue of tackling this over the long term. Instead of increasing supply which takes years to build, simply reduce the maximum number a years that a housing loan can stretch. Maybe dropping a couple of years each time gradually. I’m no economist but I think this should be looked into. I apologise if this has already been mooted.

    On healthcare, months back, I have commented on how it is possible that one day, mortgages will be stretch such that our children will be bound to the mortgage just to make sure the rich people’s private homes don’t get devalued together. Already, there is a report days ago about $130m withdrawn from Mediave for parent’s healthcare. At the costs of today’s healthcare, I’m thinking, what’s going to happen to these filial children in the future? Their children is going to pay for it. The issue just snowballs to the next generation. If the government is even concerned about solving the issue, they must recognize that issues don’t go away for free. If there is any time our reserves can be put to good use, give free medical care for the older generation. The next generation will have to take care of themselves with their own medisave. No point having one of the biggest SWF in the world if the government has forgotten that the primary mandate is to serve the people, and not to make money and leave the people to fend for themselves.

    There is also another report last month regarding how median monthly income grew 11% in real terms. I’m no economist, so I don’t know how real terms are exacty calculated, but I doubt it’s as simple as taking into account inflation. But let’s look at the nominal terms of 29%. What is the inflation over the same period? I don’t know. But all I know is 20 years ago, whatever things cost back then have more than doubled in absolute terms. I think a can of coke costs around maybe 70cents in a coffeeshop 10 years ago. Now? $1.30.

    The government has pledged to increase the median income by 30% in real terms over the next 10 years. Despite the boom in the last 10 years, only 11% was achieved. To whose pockets did all the money went into in the last 10 years? Msybe I have misinterpreted all the data, but I’m just taking the numbers as a layman. And I say bullshit. The oath taken was in relation to ALL people of Singapore, not just certain people.

    On Manpower, I’m not against existing policies. I’m only against social problems arising from influx of foreigners. And since many Singaporeans are unhappy, I am unhappy too. Despite all the talk about being far-sighted, our transport infrastructure is obviously insufficient to handle the influx. You can see the pattern that where things go well, it’s due to being far-sighted. When things don’t go as planned, well, who can predict the supply and demand? I wonder then if how all measures being drawn up currently will work out again, since it seems from the response that either (1) the government had been fumbling around in the dark or (ii) they were wrong. It seems the latter can never be possible, so to me it the first, unless there’s some other plausible explanation (which to me is just being wrong). Mr Tan Chuan-Jin said discriminatory practices have no place in Singapore. Looking at the above Parliamentary Hansard, I think discrimination exist within the very 4 walls. Alternative views and comments are just discriminated against.

    Regardless, I hope WP will work hand in hand with PAP and demonstrate further its credibility. Whether any finetuning will work remains to be seen, but I do hope it will for the greater good for all Singaporeans.

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