Workers’ Party Open House, 17 January

The Workers’ Party will be holding its weekly Open House tomorrow, Monday 17 January 2011. I will be one of the party members on duty. Do come down for a chat if you’re free.

Date: Monday 17 January 2011

Time: 8 – 9.30 pm

Venue: Workers’  Party HQ, 216-G Syed Alwi Road #02-03

Look forward to seeing you there!

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.

2 thoughts on “Workers’ Party Open House, 17 January”

  1. Urgent:

    I know this maybe a bit to late… I visit your rally last nite at Aljunied and see you on TV. I support your Opposition Cause of the World First Parliament and appreciate the sacrifice and risk you guys take for the country. I have a list of questions backed by facts which will pinpoint hard the fault of our govt policies that may also help in your campaign.

    I was trying to email but can only managed to find your blog. Please help to convey this to Mr Low and other opposition parties who may want this for your evenign rallies.

    Attached is a list of questions from a middle class voter that highlight the fault of our govt policy in CPF, manpower and art ministry. No attachment, So, I hope to just appended as it this and in time for you to read. Thanks.

    Questions from a Middle Class Voter – for the Government

    1. Finance/Manpower Minister on CPF:

    a. CPF Investment Scheme:

    This is one policy that fails badly and was hardly known by the public. I suffer from this badly with a loss of more than $100K in my CPF account, a nest egg which originally was built for my retirement.

    This is related to the CPF-Investment Account Policy. Years back, after I left the a stable corporate career to pursue my entrepreneurial dream, I wrote in to CPF to use my CPF money to pay for my housing monthly installment. My rationale was I would not have stable income in my entrepreneurial ventures and I don’t want my bank to recall my loan for not being able to pay my monthly installment if there is any eventuality.

    I was told I cannot used it as this was classified under for “investment” as I had utilized my 2nd drawn down for a past investment. The officer told me I can use this to invest in CPF-approved Trustee Shares to yield better return. I told her that I wanted to use to pay for my property monthly installment and not to invest in shares which I deemed more risky. She was speechless and can only told me this is the policy when I argue whether investing further into my property or shares is more risky. At the end due to the low interest CPF offered back then, I thought investing in GLCs and CPF-approved shares for long will be a safe bet as a long-term, serious investors. I was wrong and that is the biggest investment mistake I made in my life. Even at the peak of the STI index, it register a 90% loss for my portfolio in CPF.

    Soon after, the government realise lot of others like me lose its retirement fund and set immediate restriction and capital controls over this CPF investment fund. The limit was cut and any sales to cut losses will become realized loss. I thus continue to hold on. Then one GLC – Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd do a right issues that was against the interest of shareholders that cannot top up. It was later was sold and forced into liquidation. Most of my money was thus burnt. The ultimate loss due to the CPF policy blunder was worst than the Malaysian Capital Control in 1998 financial crisis where I end up a positive gain after 3 years of Malaysian Capital Control. I am thus skeptical that the CPF investment scheme is one that helps to bail out our troubled GLCs and local listed companies.

    Till this day, my portfolio in CPF investment account remains in red. With little left and at my age of 50+, I may have to sell my house to live off my retirement. Worst, I still don’t understand why they insist I got to pay my Bank (DBS) a quarterly fees for a dormant account when I need not pay a single cent to SGX for my self-managed Share Account.
    CPF to me not only do not valued added to our citizens. As an authority that forced savings on citizens, it not only did not help preserve our retirement fund, but destroy it with their bad policies. I am cynical why should I pay all these fees for their posh offices in Shenton way.

    b. CAP on Healthcare/Hospitalisation liability Insurance for Maids:

    This is an interesting and absurd observation on the part of the government or MOM. We as citizens and employee of any organization know and find it is reasonable that there is always a limit in healthcare insurance or hospitalization coverage, a liability limited by contracts.

    Unfortunately, in Singapore, the maids have an exception. MOM and the maid agency do not allow us to limit our liability for our own domestic maids on health insurance or any liability. Practically, if a maid have terminal illness, the employer will have to foot all her hospital bills until you go bankrupt. I am not saying we do not take care of maid. On humanity ground, we will buy insurance even of higher coverage, but with an unlimited liability, even God cannot guarantee and will call you to join Him in Heaven.
    It is easy for MOM and the maid agency to play the Angel whilst the Employer the Devil. The question is who pay the bills? So much for arguments of taking care of citizens vs foreign ‘’talents’’.

    c. Maid Policy for repatriation cost:

    I am ok, if the maid is fired by employer, meet unforeseen and unfortunate cases like accident and cannot continue to work. But what if the maid fire the employer choose to go home by their own for whatever the reasons Eg, acquired enough experience as stepping board to green pasture like Hong Kong/Taiwan which pays better? Why foot their return ticket if they breach their contract? Most maids find this even sensible and fair to foot their own. Why does tne MOM advocate all such liability to be borne by the employer and not the MOM or agent? Haven’t we paid for the Foreign Maid Levy enough? What valued-added does MOM provide to Singaporean employer? Can’t we leave such details to free market? Why take our levy to make yourself a guardian angel of the foreign maid/talent? With such policy, maids exploit and taken for a ride as if they come for holiday.

    d. For displaced PMETs Singaporean:

    I have many friends above 40+ that could not found jobs for years. They belongs to the sandwich classes and most are highly talented and skilled. The only issue is their age. The real income for this group falls and even finding part-time or freelance works is difficult. Retraining is not as effective as it is to be. The fundamental skills set and experience is still relevant for these PMETs. Just no jobs due to our economic restructuring. PMETs don’t go to MPs due to their dignity. One will go mad if you are treat like a beggar. I am not sure the govt is addressing this enough.

    2. Art Minister:

    a. Merlion Hotel: This is actually a kacang puteh issue,but the principle/rationale of government support behind this event is of serious, troubling concern. Questions is: Does the Govt support or discourage our own local artistic talent?

    Under the Biennale 2011 Arts Events, the Merlion Hotel was a so-called installation “art” exhibit by built by a Japanese self-claimed artist to showcase foreign art talent in Singapore.

    For artistic freedom, I am not against installation art or any contemporary art despite its controversy. However, for someone to build a piece of partially constructed building over our iconic art sculpture the Merlion, which also signifies Singapore, it is a great insult to the original sculptor, our late Mr Lim Nang Seng. He is one of top sculptor, renowned also for the Fish-series design on the back of our past coins for Singapore.

    From the artistic perspective, the hotel will be just at most just a piece of interior design showcase if not of the present of the Merlion. So, ask yourself, what it the main attraction and who should be the artist behind this. Unfortunately, our main stream media also glorifies and support this by giving plenty of positive publicity to the Japanese “artist”, yet no mentioned of our own Merlion sculptor. Is this what we want for our Art scene and promotion in Singapore? Yet, without schools of arts and government promotion for creative industries, this seem counter to my intuition to build Singapore into a place of arts.

    From a business or cost/benefits perspectives, it was a great losses considered the money spent and received. If the return is in term of tourism publicity, I doubt denying other tourists to take a good snapshot of the sculpture in the open is a good event. If probably also make us look stupid to have some foreigner comes to claim glory by hijacking our own original art piece.

    I feel very sad and cannot understand why our government allow this to happen especially a foreign. Making it available to someone to bed with the Merlion added further insult and mockery to our local artist.

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