Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Democracy: PAP Government IS NOT PAP

I have read the coverage on PM Lee interview on Channel News Asia recently. What caught my eyes was naturally about the "next General Election". Nope. It is not about any speculations on whether there will be a General Election this year but rather how our Prime Minister made his statement here.

The very first sentence read "The Government will leverage on new media in the next General Election, Prime Minister Lee Hisen Loong has said". I am not very sure whether the Prime Minister has actually uttered that SPECIFIC wordings because I do not have the chance to watch the whole interview but it seems to me that it must be a "Government" stand on new media during "General Election".

First of all, the GOVERNMENT, which is filled with civil servants, has nothing to do with General Election apart from making sure that the election is carried out in a FAIR and JUST way.

During General Elections, the Cabinet will only be a care-taker government. Political parties and members SHOULD NOT utilize public resources for their political campaigns. How close PAP has observed such democratic rules is up to anyone's guess.

But if the CNA report is "presenting trusted, unbiased and informed opinions" as what the Prime Minister has proclaimed, I guess it just demonstrates that CNA, its reporters and editors have actually thought that there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG FOR A POLITICAL PARTY, even though it is the ruling party, TO UTILIZE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES DURING GENERAL ELECTIONS!

If CNA is, as proclaimed, a TRUSTED NEWS PROVIDER, then the Prime Minister must have uttered the very specific words that the GOVERNMENT is actually CAMPAIGNING by LEVERAGING on New Media DURING GENERAL ELECTIONS! So who is the GOVERNMENT CAMPAIGNING FOR during GENERAL ELECTIONS? This is a very FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION that citizens of any DEMOCRATIC country should ask the ruling party.

I am really beginning to doubt whether the ruling party takes DEMOCRACY SERIOUSLY or not! Or is it just WAYANGING about being Democratic while deep down its heart, it just takes for granted that PAP=GOVERNMENT and GOVERNMENT=PAP? And that PAP could utilize all the GOVERNMENT resources for its political interests?

Well, maybe I am still very naive after witnessing the pork barrel politicking of PAP in using GOVERNMENT HDB upgrading, GRC and Electoral Boundary redrawing as political tools to attain political interests for itself, I still hold the belief that Democracy still exists in Singapore with the basic fundamental principles intact. I must be wrong in believing that PAP still believes in Democracy. It is just basically a DICTATORIAL political party which only WAYANG about Democracy by having some elections with all the rules skewed heavily to their political advantages.

From this little report here, I must say that I am more convinced that Democracy is already dead in Singapore, in principle. People from the Prime Minister to the reporters and editors of local media no longer believe in the basic fundamental principles of Democracy any more. Unless there are enough brave souls that could stand up to such absurdity in the system, win a few GRCs via that totally skewed and impossible odds against the PAP + Government machineries + Media, I do not see how Singapore could evolve and progress democratically.

I would actually urge the PAP to do away with such a pain of going through the motion of General Elections where they themselves do not respect the fundamental principles of Democracy and declare Singapore a dictatorship once and for all. If PAP does not even respect the fundamental principles of Democracy, why do they need to try to Wayang about General Elections? If they could not even differentiate what is PAP as a political party and what is the role of government, then just equate PAP=Government=Singapore. It will really save us a lot of time and trouble in playing such Wayang game.

Goh Meng Seng

CNA - THE Government will leverage on new media in the next General Election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

In an interview with Channel News Asia to be aired on Tuesday night, he noted the growing influence of the Internet on politics, citing the recent United States presidential election as an example and said Singapore would go the same way.

President Barack Obama's campaign, for instance, used new media to put out their messages, organise and even raise money. But PM Lee said the change here will not be an an easy one.

'We are still learning. It is not easy to make this transition. It is like going from sea to land or vice versa, you are changing your medium and you need to get comfortable with it. But we are working hard at it.'

He also said the party was on the lookout for more MPs comfortable with new media. His remarks are the latest sign of the Government's changing mindset towards new media.

Last month, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said that the Government is 'fully into' e-engagement, when responding to suggestions made by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society.

Since then, Government agencies have also begun responding to forum letters posted on The Straits Times website. PM Lee stressed, however, that traditional media will always have a place in presenting trusted, unbiased and informed opinions. But he didn't dismiss online views outright.

'Well, there is a place called the Wild West and there are other places which are not so wild. And the new media - some of it are Wild West and anything goes and people can say anything they want. And tomorrow take a completely contrary view and well, that is just the way the medium is,' he said.

'But even in the Internet, there are places which are more considered, more moderated where people put their names down and identify themselves. And there is a debate which goes on and a give and take, which is not so rambunctious but perhaps more thoughtful. That is another range.'

The interview on the evolving media landscape was in conjunction with Channel News Asia's 10th anniversary in March.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Visualization of Crisis of Credit

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Fear and Patriotism: Another Threat to Netizens

I am really amused at the way PAP throwing out threats after threats against Singaporeans on the net. Singapore may be a small country but it seems that the amount of FEARFUL threats thrown at the relatively small number of Singaporean netizens has really gone out of proportions.

Even communist countries like China do not throw such threats around. PAP has claimed that they want to "evolve" in this new era of New Media but inherently, it is apparent to all of us that such "paternalistic" nature of the way it threw out threats after threats has demonstrated that PAP is very much outdated and backward. Even the Chinese Communist Party has evolved and they actually made use of their netizens to effect a close check on their ranks and files!

I have not heard any constant nagging threats thrown by the Chinese Communist Party over the various attacks thrown at CCP and its leaders. Well, yes, they may have formed a huge internet brigade to counter some of the bad mouthing but in a more general sense, Chinese netizens have not stopped nagging at their government.

Why? It has been proven that such nagging noise from the ground by these netizens could be very powerful when it comes to Nationalistic aim of defending that Nation's interests against foreign countries. It seems that the Chinese people is both capable to critic their own government as well as defending their Nationlistic rights when they face foreign threats.

What is more intriguing in the following CNA report is that it mentions that nobody is interested to give feedback even with the PAP government whole effort to solicit them from Singaporeans on the net! What does that really mean? It means that they young Singaporean netizens are either apathetic towards the country under PAP or that they would rather nag at the PAP government at their own will instead of helping them in any ways they can!

What does that really mean? PAP's paternalistic style of National education plus threats have failed miserably in lecturing the young Singaporeans into patriotic citizens! The more threats they throw at young Singaporean netizens, the more defiant we will be!

Fear and patriotism DO NOT MIX at all. You may try to maintain your total grip on power by using all means of fearful methods but in the long run, you will definitely lose trust of your people and your power totally. These have happened repeatedly over the centuries whereby Ancient dynasties boom and died.

There is one common saying, it is all in the mind. True in this instance that no matter how PAP has claimed that they are "open" or "light touch" or "engaging the New Media", the fundamental mindset of being rigid, outdated and paternalistic in them are really showing and taken over their deeds. It is no wonder nobody on the Net take them seriously in what they say or claim to do for the good of the Nation. This is explicitly shown by the lack of participation of their so call "feedback" process executed on the Net.

Sincerity of this regime is being graded near ZERO after many years of observations of how PAP government just WAYANG away on the NET by paying lip service on feedback collection. And how could they try to build up their credibility on the Net when the tightly controlled media keeps pounding on the credibility of the Netizens? It is just like calling out names at a group of people but in the end, you try to "engage" them for views! Since you have already labeled them as "not credible" and worse, ministers keep throwing threats at them, why would anyone believes you and your sincerity in "engaging" them for their view? Couldn't the multi-million dollars annual salaried ministers understand such simple logic?

Goh Meng Seng


Govt says policies on new media will evolve as new challenges crop up

By Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 21 February 2009 2044 hrs

Photos 1 of 1

A websurfer shopping online.

SINGAPORE : The Singapore government has been embracing and even adopting new media for its work.

And while it is still some way from fully tapping the potential, the government said it will gradually evolve its policies with a light touch, as the Web2.0 revolution constantly throws up new challenges.

Singapore is the most wired city in the world. And according to a survey, young Singaporeans aged 15 to 24 spend an average of eight-and-a-half hours a day being connected.

And the government has been using new media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube and forums to hook up with citizens.

Another new media outlet is the OnePeople Portal.

The online resource on racial harmony was launched by the Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Saturday.

While the government is gradually liberalising its approach towards online engagement with its citizens, the minister added that one has to be responsible and careful when posting their thoughts online."

Dr Balakrishnan said: "Anonymity in cyberspace is an illusion. You will remember in 2007, we prosecuted three persons under the Sedition Act because of the blogs they put up which denigrated the religion of one of our communities in Singapore.

"The reason we did that was to send the message that your words have an impact; if need be, we can identify you, and if we have to, we will be prepared to prosecute you."

But there are some challenges in the government's use of new media to get public feedback.

Dr Milagros Rivera, member, Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS), said: "We expected people to give feedback. Nobody did. I think seven people posted comments on the AIMS website, and then the blogosphere went crazy with all kinds of comments and discussions about New Media.

"You can have a very nice welcoming website for the government to give feedback. If people are not comfortable they will just stay in their little forums and in their blogs and they will do their thing."

And there is no doubt more challenges will crop up as cyberspace continues to evolve and change the way people communicate with one another. - CNA/ms
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Politics 101 for the Coming General Elections

The following is written by a forumer with the moniker "Scroobal":

Some basics.

For the Voters

1) Make sure your name is on the electroral Roll

2) Know what the objective or focus is - to express your sentiments on how the PAP fared as a ruling govt and to provide a set of results that tells the next govt of the day, what needs to be done.

Democracy unfortunately was meant for an informed, mature and educated society. Do not be simple minded and think that it a straight forward business of picking the best candidate in your constituency based on meritocracy . The question is how much of power and control do you want to give a political party. Do you put all your eggs in one basket for your savings? Are you looking for balance, accountability and variety of voices in parliament. Do you see the big picture?

If you are in hospital fighting for your life and you have the world's best nurse attending to you but the worst set of medical standards including incompetent doctors, unreliable power supply to operatings theatre etc, do you change hospital or are you happy to be there because of the nurse assigned is first class.

Simple maths on nomination day will tell you that the majority of the seats would have been taken by the PAP to form govt, so go ahead and seek variety and try an attempt to force the PAP to be responsive.

For the Helpers

If you are keen to see at a minimum a 2 party parlimentary democracy, get in touch with your your favourite to give a contact name, number or just your nick. A lot of work has to be done, logistics is huge. They will be grateful for any form of help, your hands, legs, car, lorry, your campaigning prowess, taking photos at rallies, blogging their cause, status report. Don't wait till until its too late.

Do not be upset, if they do not share their plans with you. Secrecy, confidentiality and suprises are important. If you come across something juicy, keep it to your self. Make sure you got leave reserved unless you already unemployed.

For Political Parties ( besides party work)

1) Appoint your logistics and contact person to start a register of helpers. List contact in website. You know the rules - no need for real names if they are not prepared to release.

2) Start tapping friends, families and ex-school mates.

3) Get your websites current, relevant and punchy.

4) Remember the manifesto must be practical and relate to society and the voters and has nothing to do with your ideals in a perfect world or a desire to reach nirvana. Motherhood statements are only good for the dustbin.

5) Appoint a cheermaster to coordinate via the web on rally sites, directional help, parking availability, live feed, agenda etc. Lets not dream that SPH and CNA are going to do the job.

For Potential Candidates

1) If you think you want to be candidate and you are new, give a call to your friendly opposition political identity. I am sure GMS and company are ready to help even though you might not want to join their party. Make sure you got the deposit, get your forms right and start working the ground early with flyers and mail-outs. Gather a few friends to help out.

2) If are you not keen to join any existing party, nevertheless get in touch with a political identity or a party early and express your interest and the constituency that you favour. So that they can tell you what turfs are available to avoid 3 cornered fights etc. and not waste your time doing groundwork in the wrong area.

3) Gather friends, army mates, school mates. Your best bet is to reach out to your age or peer group to provide support and help.

4) Nothing in law, in practice or in convention requires you to be scholar, a successful doctor, lawyer etc. If you have a good mind, a passion and sincerity to help society and an achiever, you are in the zone. Would love to see a couple of ex-school or university mates getting together and contesting in a GRC.

Remember if George Bush can be President, you are more than qualified.

Sunday, February 15, 2009



在PSB Academy Delta Road Campus, 355 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee 举行研讨会
时间:晚上六点半 登记, 七点准 开始


dbs.hn5@gmail.com 以便登记


Friday, February 13, 2009

GIC lost 41%? Accountabiliity please!

There are quite a few speculation about how much GIC lost in this crisis. As the GIC is directly under the charge of two heavy weights, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Tony Tan, it seems that such speculations are really "undesirable " and could well be kept as National Secrets forever.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew keeps saying that such investments are for "Long Term" but my question is, is it "Long Term" or "Wrong Term" already? Besides, with due respect, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is already at his ripe old age and many of his age would have enjoyed retirement life fully elsewhere in the world if they have his kind of wealth and social status.

Mr Goh Chok Tong's assertions about good governance keep ringing in my mind. He said a good government must be transparent and accountable, among other things like being clean. But how are we going to hold the present government accountable if whatever losses we suffer as a nation are being swept away as "Long Term" investment? Especially so when nobody knows whether one could live up to that definition of Long Term (which is not categorically defined as how long?), least a person of 80 over years old.

A WP member, Choon Yong, has an interesting account of what goes on in parliament. According to him, Madam Lim Hwee Hua uttered the figure 41% when Ms Sylvia Lim pressed for an answer to how much GIC has lost. This is really an interesting figure, though, not very surprising.

The PAP government has always claimed the figures of GIC as "National Secret". I am always very puzzled. If such important figures are being classified under "National Secret" how could accountability be exercised on the government itself? Well, I can understand that specific investment portfolio strategy is sensitive information but there is no necessity to keep aggregate figures as "National Secret" at all. Nothing to hide from there. If we are going to practice what good governance whereby accountability is a fundamental pillar, then specific figures and information should be made available. Figures like the amount of money in GIC and the percentage of gain or losses.

It is intriguing indeed. While the PAP government is ready to boast about how much GIC has earned in the past in a fascinating way (claiming to have how many percentage of return over how many years... etc), but when it comes to losses, it has suddenly become so secretive! It practically means that when it comes to claiming credits, PAP government is all too fast to claim it. But when it comes to take responsibility for lapses (well, do you remember Mas Selamat?) and losses, it suddenly sweeps everything under National Secrets!

If any figures are all National Secrets, then earnings from the past should be classified as National Secrets as well! Of course, that would basically mean that this PAP government does not believe in accountability at all. In Hong Kong, such critical figures would be available to public for scrutiny and it really makes me wonder why would Mr Goh Chok Tong go all the way to Hong Kong to teach something that PAP does not practice while Hong Kong government is already practicing! Without adequate information released, information that could well undermine PAP's leadership being hidden away, how could accountability be exercised at all?

Anyway, it is even more intriguing that the National Press has CONVENIENTLY omitted that "sensitive" figure 41% from their daily reports of the parliamentary debates! All is well when there are coordinated effort to avoid mentioning such potentially damaging data on National papers!

There was a report by foreign analyst that the amount of money that GIC holds initially could well be as high as $500 Billion. So if this magic figure of 41% is true, the losses of GIC alone would be $225.5 Billion! Although the official report of Temasek Holdings' losses is $58Billion at the end of 30 Nov 2008, but I guess this figure is grossly underestimated. This is basically because share prices has further tumbled in December 2008. The losses could be as high as $80 Billion by the end of last year.

Thus the total potential losses of GIC and Temasek holdings could well be $300 Billion! What does that mean? It means that it is a loss of $100,000 per Singapore citizen!

While PAP government has always been reluctant in setting up a formal system of social welfare for Singaporeans because it could squander off all our reserves, but it seems that the reserves could well be lost in a more dramatic and faster way in just one financial crisis like this one. The cruel truth is, such losses benefits no Singaporeans while at the very least, a social welfare system could at least benefit quite a number of Singaporeans, especially so in such economic crisis!

We have paid millions of dollars to PAP ministers annually for such mediocre performance which result in such losses that benefits no Singaporeans at all. Some may argue that such losses are "reasonable" because other funds around the world are making the same losses. BUT, please don't forget that we are paying our political office holders HIGHEST in the whole world but yet we are getting mediocre average results same as others? So the fundamental question is, are these "TALENTED ELITES of HIGHER MORTAL" value for money?

I believe this is not merely my ranting. Quite a number of people of middle class income came to my shop to ask me to make the same point. Our ministers are over valued. Their ministerial pay is just too ridiculous. These are not just normal ranting that we used to see in internet forums. These words are uttered by REAL Singaporeans on the street, some with very high qualifications.

This financial crisis has exposed the myth that PAP ministers are "extraordinary talents" that deserved to be paid millions of dollars per year. The PAP ministers may be highly qualified but they are just human, not "HIGHER MORTAL". Are they the "BEST"? Cream of the crop? I really doubt so. The reason being, the BEST and TOP people do not use monetary return as a value yardstick label to stick on them. These people know their limitations and would take responsibility and account for their mistakes. Obama is a good example. Ma Yinjiu is another good example.

I do not think with the present PAP mindset, we will be able to extract accountability from PAP ministers themselves. I do not believe that one could check on himself effectively without trying to shy away from responsibility. While billions are lost, not a single word of apology is heard from PAP ministers. The tightly controlled newspaper is still trying to trumpet it off as "better than others"! Of course, the usual rant that any losses are "temporary", no apology about that, no regrets about that but all for long term. While our children or even grand children in the far future "suffer" from such WRONG TERM investment, they wouldn't know who are the ones who are supposed to be responsible for these losses anyway.

So, this is the kind of accountability that PAP is teaching from their bible.

Goh Meng Seng



2009-02-12 19:36













Wednesday, February 11, 2009

放下玉山留残照]--- 淡马锡总裁卸职四记

作者:德仁 09:51am 11/02/2009

放下玉山留残照]--- 淡马锡总裁卸职四记









*电子,特许半导体 CHARTERED IND.



Sunday, February 08, 2009


我要非常谢谢一位翻译高手帮我翻译了我的英文稿"Reflections: Voice of the People", 在此刊登这翻译稿件。



Cartoon from Sam's Thought








Sketch from My Sketchbook




This one is translated into Chinese by a forumer.
























Saturday, February 07, 2009








Reflections: Voice of the People

Cartoon from Sam's Thought

In this article, there are three caricatures of Rear Admiral Lui Tuck Yew in response to his remarks made in parliament about Singapore netters' "vicious attacks" on PAP MPs, especially on MP Seng who was burnt by a 70 year old man. (To be exact, there are two drawings which one of them has been translated into Chinese.)

A report in Zaobao appears with veil threats against those who made these "vicious attacks" on "PAP MPs & Ministers"! Please note that, it seems that other "Lower Mortal" like me will not be under the protection of the police, only internet attackers of "PAP" members will be "chased" by the police!

For the whole newspaper report, the focus is apparently on those "Lower Mortals" who criticise the PAP.


I have been a victim of vicious, malicious and baseless attacks from some Singaporeans on the Internet forums, talking about me having "extramarital affairs" (with someone who is actually my sister!) They have even left defamatory comments on my blog! But I don't see the police officers jumping up and down over such incidents.

Most importantly, I don't see the PAP controlled newspaper has that kind of "self-righteousness" in upholding "Truth". On the contrary, they even took the opportunity to publicise such malicious lies in an attempt to make character assassination on me!

Besides, when someone made malicious attacks on opposition MPs like Mr. Low Thia Khiang and WP, calling WP names like Wayang Party etc., the newspaper reporters and editors did not put on their Self Righteous cloak to "reprimand" these attackers. Instead, they gave them full media exposure, in an attempt to undermine WP's public image!

Sketch from My Sketchbook

Thus I really find it very HYPOCRITICAL for the newspapers to become "upholder of Truth and Justice" when such attacks have turned against the PAP members!

So, it all boils down to one thing. Whenever the situation is favourable to the ruling party, never mind whether these attackers are credible or not, never mind whether they are hiding behind anonymous monikers. They will even put up big headings on the newspapers just to get the attention of Singaporeans to these malicious and unfounded attacks. They would even interview these supposedly "evil doers" (under their new definitions), giving full accounts and publicize their great acts and lies!

This one is translated into Chinese by a forumer.

Well, I am getting used to PAP controlled local media's double standards but getting used to it does not mean I will condone such mindset. Beside the Media, what really amazed me is that even the civil servants like the police force is reacting according to the needs and complains of the ruling party only! It is really ironic and amusing that the ruling party still claims that the civil servants are impartial and they are not made used for petty politicking!

I can only shake my head, really. But I guess this is life in Singapore.

While Rear Admiral Lui lamented that Singapore bloggers and netters have missed the opportunity to exercise self-regulation, I have one important message for PAP and the newspaper reporters and editors.

I happen to pass by my old shop location the other day, which is still empty six months after I shifted out. A friend of mine asked me what had happened to the whole building? Why did I left and now it has become so empty? I told my friend this:

While negotiating with the landlord about the new rental contract, I was merely telling them the truth: business has gone worse and there are eminent signs that a recession is coming. I requested the rental to be reduced. But to my shock, they actually requested to raise the rental by 20%! This happens back in August. From then on, one by one, tenants with expired lease left.

Why am I mentioning this little episode here? The main lesson from this episode is about REAL feedback. A company or a government is sucessful initially basically because they knew the ground. They understand what their clients and potential customers need. They LISTEN to the ground, the market place, take notes of their expectations and their needs. Afther taking into all these considerations, they come up with products and services to cater to their customers' and clients' needs. Their sales will increase and business will expand.

After they have become sucessful, most businessmen thought they are smart and intelligent. They credit their success to their good judgement and brains in making the "right decisions". But they have totally forgotten the basis of their success, paying attention to the market, their clients and customers. When they are wealthy, they chose to live in their own castles. They mix with different social class of people and eventually, they hardly spend time talking and mixing around with "Lesser Mortals". They have basically build a solid wall surrounding their castles just like any Emperors and Kings of ancient time.

In the end, they will only rely on the few people surrounding them to feed them information and details of the people outside their castles. And this is when their business will go down hill.

So, what's the moral of the whole process? Voice.

The success of any businessmen or politicians lies in the Voice of the People. If you are constantly paying attention to the Voice of the People, you will always get the politics right, You will always get the market sentiments and directoin right. The RIGHT decisions are always made with observations and voices heard from the ground, from the market places. Right decisions are not just made in Ivory towers surrounded by "Higher Mortals" of "Elites and Talents". The Wisdom comes from the ground, not a few brains in the "Higher Mortal Circle".

In history, be it modern or ancient, it has always been the case that Power is lost and dynasties fell because the political leaders have distanced themselves from the people because they see themselves as HIGHER MORTALS that needs to be differentiated and live apart from the "Lesser Mortals". Palaces and castles are built to "protect" themselves from the harm of the people that they are supposedly to lead and take care of.

If we look at the Chinese history, the most prosperous time in Qing Dynasty were times whereby the Emperors pay frequent visits to the towns and villages outside their palaces. Basically, these were times where Emperors pay attention to the voices and opinion of the people. Conversely, whenever a dynasty comes to an end, it is when the Emperor start to surround himself with people who will only sweet talk to him without giving him the real picture on the ground.

So, what's my point? Rear Admiral Lui only thinks of the big bad comments on PAP and its Members of Parliament. He just find it disgusting that those people who poll actually think the attacker of MP Seng should have all their sympathy instead of MP Seng. He only concerns about while those bloggers and internet forumers are attacking PAP, MP Seng and his party colleagues, nobody comes into PAP MP Seng's defence.

He cannot see beyond the little bickering, venting of frustrations and sarcastic comments aimed at PAP. This is, to me, a BIGGER PITY that PAP Ministers and MPs have failed to reflect upon the Voices of People, as compared to the supposedly lost opportunity of Singapore internet users in "self regulating".

The internet is the place where UNCENSORED Voice of the People could be heard. Of course, there will be the usual malicious lies and attacks going around but it is the cause of such intent that is more important. If there is only one or two persons or a few persons that do that, then it is not that bad. But if many people are saying the same thing, singing the same tune, then it is important for those who are in power to examine what actually went wrong.

It seems that in Singapore, we have a perfect situation for a sudden fall out of love for PAP.

First, the traditional newspapers are not performing their role as the forth estate in providing REAL feedback and independent Voice of the people. This is because PAP has always been the invisible hand behind them and that is also why almost ALL newspapers come under one roof, SPH. Almost ALL free radio and TV stations come under Media Corp. It is for easy command and control.

Secondly, although PAP has won on average, 66.6% of popular votes, but one would notice that supporters of PAP are not passionate towards them at all. Look at their political rallies and you will understand what I mean. If a ruling party needs to use buses to transport their supporters to their political rallies with free dinner and drinks provided, then something must be very wrong.

This explains why there are very few people who will "defend" PAP MP Seng on the net even when the attacks hauled at him and PAP are sometimes overboard! Support for PAP is merely a "transaction", "pay you high salary, you do your job" and that's about all. It seems that Rear Admiral Lui does not really understand this very well but instead, lamented about the lack of passionate support for his party and colleagues.

There are writers who have written about the disaffection of PAP Higher Mortal Elites and how lost touch they are from the ground over the years. But I guess they did not really pay much attention to it, merely pay lip service to feedbacks.

I think there is a big underlying problem with the recent development here. Nope, the problem is NOT "cyber users not self regulating", it is much bigger than that. This incident is just a trigger to a pent up frustrations of many Singaporeans and the most important thing PAP should pay attention to is NOT about why they try to throw abuses at it but rather, what is the SOURCE of the frustrations.

Goh Chok Tong has once said that if there is no retrenchment then he worries. I say, if there is no Singaporeans venting their frustrations at the ruling party, then I worry. The reason is simple, if there is no longer a VOICE, it could only mean two things, one, Singaporeans have given up on this nation but just treating it as a hotel, ready to move on to other places. Two, they are doing something else like what the JI is doing.

The best way of avoiding a boiling kettle from exploding is to let off the steam and try to turn off the fire, not pressing down the cover. Putting up veil threats of all sorts trying to suppress the REAL Voice of the people is the most foolish thing to do.

Goh Meng Seng



日方虽宣布裁员 松下本地不裁员(附地图)
● 邓莉蓉





  白沙—榜鹅集选区议员刘 琳昨天在国会上提出口头询问时,以成汉通遭网民恶言攻击为例,要求吕德耀针对网民的行为发表看法。








日方虽宣布裁员 松下本地不裁员(附地图)
● 周殊钦




















  这笔金额就是美国法院前年在一起民事诉讼中判给日用品公司宝洁(Procter and Gamble)在上世纪80年代因受到一项谣言困扰而得到的名誉损失赔偿。这起诉讼的结果已成了判断谣言破坏力的判例之一。话说宝洁公司自1981年起便开始受到它当年所使用的商标被指和撒旦勾结,以达到生意兴隆的目的这个谣言所困扰。







  最近在本地网络世界饱受攻击的白沙—榜鹅集选区议员张有福便认为从社会发展的角度来看,有一个可让民众表达看法和情绪的平台是件好事。对于网民或博客透过集体行动,利用互联网来表达对某起事件,例如对一些市镇理事会的投资蒙受亏损,或是对议员的不满,他都能接受。但是,这有个前提,即凡事都必须有个“度 ”。




  事实上,张有福在为同僚打抱不平的同时,自己也沦为网络谣言的受害者。事因他最近对环境及水源部常任秘书陈荣顺到巴黎上奢侈的烹饪课的事件作出回应时,一时不慎错用“低等人”(lesser mortal)一词,而被人假冒其名在某网站上大发“本地人可分为七个等级,政治人物皆为上等人,一般平民都是下等人”的偏激言论,结果引来更多网民的抨击。





Friday, February 06, 2009

Victims of Global Financial Dis-Order

Victims of Global Financial Dis-Order – Credit Linked Financial Products investors

The present financial-economic crisis that we are experiencing now is mainly due to the collapse of the Global Financial Order. The present Credit Crunch is just the result of the total loss of confidence in the Global Financial system.

Financial innovations fuelled by drastic financial deregulations carried out by numerous governments around the world has created an artificial boom in the financial economy. The multiple leverage created by the various new financial derivatives has provided an enormous multiplier effect to the growth of the global financial system. It has also become the fuel to greed and socially irresponsible actions by various individuals and institutions.

Moral hazards were breeding rapidly among a system that puts too much emphasis on monetary performance but resulted in the total neglect on moral obligations of financial institutions to the health and public confidence to the whole financial system.

Products like CDOs created moral hazards which result in irresponsible lending by financial institutions, which transfer risks to other investors in the process. Credit Risk swaps and complex structured products are basically created to remove risks from financial institutions which in return, created moral hazards in allowing them to take more risk than they could bear in normal circumstances in search of higher returns while transferring risks to unsuspecting investors.

The unhealthy competition among cities and countries in wanting to position themselves as “regional financial centres” has caused reckless deregulation process in these places. Hong Kong and Singapore are prime examples of such reckless deregulation due to overzealous of their governments in competing to become regional financial centres.

Minibond and other similar credit-linked structured investors are victims of this financial dis-order created by the combination of Financial Moral Hazards and the reckless deregulation initiated by various governments seeking to become regional financial centres.

High risk and dubious structured products which are being rejected by many countries to be sold to retail investors finally find their ways to these places which welcome them with wide open arms. How could these complex structured products which has high risks as well as potentially damaging financial moral hazards embedded passed through these respective regulatory bodies is still a huge mystery.

The irony is that these products are being disguised as “low-medium risk” products by using deceiving credit ratings, product names as well as big corporate names to create psychological delusions to investors. In some cases, it is really amazing that big financial institutions could “buy insurance” from retail investors which in return, provided these institutions huge funding that they used to invest in high risk financial products. These financial institutions, using a combination of credit risk swaps and investment in high risk CDOs, seek to reap off high returns using totally risk free funds provided by retail investors. Instead of paying for the insurance they seek (or just that this scheme of using big credible reference entities is just a smoke screen utilized to hoodwink unsuspecting investors?), they are actually trying to make money out from the insurance they are buying!

Legal Disparity

Law is the basis of stability and order for the society, country and even the whole world. Law could become such a tool of social stability basically because it commands respect and trust from ALL people that comes under its prerogative. The respect and trust of this legal system comes from the fact that the Law is supposed to PROTECT the interests of ALL people, not just SOME people. In order to do this, everybody is supposed to be EQUAL under the law.

However, what happens in this crisis is in total contrary to what we used to believe. Law has become the accomplice of this financial dis-order.

Imagine that an investment bank like Lehman Brothers could circumvent the law of its country of origin, USA, to open an empty shell company in some small country in pacific ocean to issue huge amount “NOTES” which are named misleadingly as “Minibonds” and sell them to retail investors who are thousands of miles away in the other end of the world.

And when Lehman Brothers went bust, its receiver could actually go to an American Court to protect its interests over the supposedly banned financial products! Furthermore, due to the complicated process whereby these products are created, normal retail investors will find it hard to have the resources and means to seek legal redress.

The prospectus are so well written that not many people could possibly know exactly what these products are, but they did very well in protecting the interests of the issuers in every ways. The Law effectively protects the interests of the issuers but ignore the fundamental common sense of natural justice and the potential huge injustice embedded in the moral hazards of these products.

The situation is being aggravated by the fact that places like Singapore and Hong Kong do not provide a cheaper, efficient and effective avenue for investors to get legal redress. Unlike USA, Hong Kong and Singapore's inheritance of the Commonwealth legal system does not provide class action litigation for these victims.

If such injustice and imbalance of care provided by the Legal system would definitely erode the confidence, respect and trust of the people at large. It would further enhance the perception that the Law is basically a tool to protect the interests of those big, rich and powerful institutions rather than providing a fair and just platform to protect the interests of everybody else.

Over Sold Credibility

Once upon a time, the global citizens at large would trust the Banks to provide them a safe haven for their hard earned money. But this crisis is so serious because Banks and financial institutions have over sold their credibility.

Banks and financial institutions play a very important role in modern world economy as intermediaries for money to be kept within a system that could provide efficient transfer of savings into investment for the global economy. This provide funding for businesses to invest and function with certain leverage. For example, if there are no banking facilities as breaching funds for trading companies, world trade may be adversely affected. Part of the world's problems now is due to the rapid contraction in the role of Banks and financial institutions in financing trading.

Of course, there are huge part of the funds in these institutions that are used in speculative investment in highly leveraged structured financial instruments and derivatives like futures and options.

Traditional banks may only act as an intermediaries in taking money from depositors, paying them an interests and then make loans to businesses and individuals for their investment in properties, machineries, vehicles etc. But all these have changed in the 1990s and up to the early part of this century with deregulation.

In the old days, depositors have trusted banks with their money for safe keeping as well as providing them a certain interest return. Most of the depositors do not want to invest their money in medium-high risk products like stocks, shares, commodities, foreign exchange or even bonds. This is primary reason why these depositors preferred to keep their money in the banks, some in fixed deposits.

But due to the financial deregulation and the shifted paradigm in the role of banks coupled with greed and desires of banks to earn “easy-quick” money, banks begin to sell investment products. Banks have tremendous credibility built up with their clients but in search of higher return, less risk and quick money, banks begin to abuse such trusts. In the beginning, they started off selling seemingly “safe” unit trust funds then insurance-investment products. These products allow banks to earn a percentage from the sales immediately without the need of the banks to take the risks of lending out money to businesses or individuals. The logic is pretty neat. Instead of taking in deposits from depositors and lend them out and bearing risks of bad loans, it would be easier to earn money by selling these financial products!

Couple with low interest rate in the new century, banks begin their aggressiveness in earning quick money. They abuse their position as safe-keepers of depositors' money, getting privileged information on the amount of money their clients put into fixed deposits and embarked on a systematic targeting of clients that have huge sum of money in fixed deposits in their accounts.

The worse part is that, there seems to be evidences from the combined information we get from Minibond-DBS High notes and other structured credit-linked victims that the banks have deliberately trained their front line sales persons to use specific misleading words to sell these products to their clients. They understand their clients as those who would prefer to put their money into low risk fixed deposits, thus, phrases like “just like fixed deposits with fixed interests”, “can guarantee get back capital because it is capital protected”, “very low risk because the reference entities are all very stable companies” etc. These sales talks are specifically designed and targeted at this specific group of fixed depositors.

Many people accuse these victims as greedy investors but in our view, the banks and financial institutions are the most greedy ones. They have misled their clients to buy something that their own sales persons may not even understand totally and resulting them to take up higher risks than any fixed depositors would want to take. Their clients took all the risks while they themselves bear no risks but earn immediate return as high as their clients!

Unwittingly, these banks and financial institutions have over sold their credibility this time round. Making the first mistakes as irresponsible sellers of these products to clients that trusted them is already a bad move. Brushing aside all responsibilities and refusing to bear social and financial responsibilities to their clients after things went bad is really an act of putting a nail in the coffin of their fragile credibility.

Implications of Credibility Crisis of banks and financial institutions

It seems that many of the world governments do not see the seriousness of this Minibond crisis. The world is facing a serious crisis of confidence and liquidity crunch. But the more serious problem lies in the credibility crisis of the whole world banking and financial order.

If the world's banks and financial institutions are now being viewed as untrustworthy entities in their dealings with depositors' and investors' money, what will happen next would be a rapid withdrawal of money from the whole world's financial and banking system.

It is easy for governments of the world to deal with potential bank runs and the domino effects of bank runs by giving 100% blanket guarantee to deposits. But it does not solve the growing discontent, distrust and erosion of confidence in the banks and financial institutions. Investment in financial instruments which act as a very important financial intermediaries that provide funds to world businesses will drop drastically. Unit trusts, fund managing services, insurance, hedge funds will start to shrink or even collapse.

This will effect a snowballing de-leveraging process which may eventually result in the collapse of the whole world's financial order. This may sound a bit exaggerating to many people but the truth is, the second wave of this financial crisis may just develop into that direction very soon.

Rebuilding the World financial order

It is important for the world's governments to come up with a complete solution to this financial chaos that we are facing. The Minibond saga may be a small part of the puzzle of the whole financial chaos but it is an important part in this part of the world because the credibility of the banks and financial institutions are at stake.

Just like what happens in the collapse of the Gold Standards in the early part of last century, we are now in a period of transition from a massive financial chaos created by the destruction of confidence and credibility of the banks and financial institutions to a new era of new financial order.
While the world search for a new order and solutions to maintain stability within a globalized financial system, the most critical part in saving the dying credibility of the banks must be carried out. A world political solution must be provided to rebuild and regain public confidence in the whole banking and financial systems in this world.

The task of bringing change and making these financial institutions to be responsible to their ill-considerate actions of greed should be born by governments of the world, especially so for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore governments. This is because with the flaws of the legal system and the apparent legal disparities that exist within the system, the victims will have little power bring these financial institutions to task.

Fair settlement

Moral hazards exist while financial institutions, in search for highest returns by using other people's money. Moral hazards also exist when investors invested irresponsibly with their money seeking for highest return but knowing that they could get away from taking responsibility for the risks they take.

Thus to me, a fair settlement for the Minibond saga must address adequately the problems of moral hazards of BOTH sides. It must also address the responsibility of the regulators.

I would suggest the following allocation of responsibilities to each parties:

1) Banks should bear 50% of the responsibility as they earn fees from such transactions and they are suspected to use unethical sales tactic which may amount to serious systematic mis-selling.

2) Investors should bear 30% of the responsibility. Investors must learn the basic rule of investment, no risk no gain. When the return of a product is higher than their fixed deposits, there must be higher risks involved. Thus, in order to prevent future improper investment decisions by other people as well as reducing Moral Hazards of investors, they should bear part of the responsibility.

3) Governments, as regulators, should bear 20% of the responsibility for the lapses in their role.

In my opinion, such settlement would be a fair settlement for all and it addresses the respective allocation of responsibilities among the main players. Such a fair settlement may set a good reference example for the future New Financial Order for the world. An important message must be sent to all these financial institutions that they just could not hide behind a barricade of legal disparities and wash their hands off from irresponsible dealings.

Social Justice as the basis of Social Confidence in Financial Order

It is important to maintain social confidence in times like this crisis of confidence. The only way to maintain social confidence is for us to see social justice is being upheld.

The New World Financial Order needed much of the social confidence from the whole world to function. But before such social confidence and credibility of this new order to be established, Social Justice of inappropriate financial dealings must be seen to be done.

Minibond saga is one of the most prominent financial injustice that needs to be solved immediately, in order for the world citizens to start regaining their confidence in the global financial system again.

I would urge the world's governments to look into this matter seriously to effect a just and fair settlement to the Minibond saga. The Minibond saga is significant because it involves global financial workings and processes. It exposes the inadequacy in the global legal framework in dealing with such complex financial dealings which involve multiple parties across the world. It affects victims from multiple places and countries and IT IS A GLOBAL FINANCIAL PROBLEM.

The complexity of the Minibond saga is far greater than anyone's imagination. The implications of this Minibond saga is far greater than the world thought. If this Minibond saga is not solved fairly, I do not think there will be any confidence left for the present and future financial world order.

Goh Meng Seng

Thursday, February 05, 2009

NSP Budget Response 2009 - Extensive But Not Comprehensive


NSP Budget Response 2009 - Extensive But Not Comprehensive
Wed, Feb 04, 2009

The “Resilience Package” of $20.5 billion unveiled in Parliament by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, is generally seen to be extensive, addressing the main problems of job loss, business cash flow and credit crunch.

However, while the direction and footing of the Budget are generally correct, its actual impact will be quite below public expectations, because its somewhat mediocre quantum may be inadequate in facing the tsunami-sized ground crisis. Indeed, the Government has itself admitted that the Package “will not be enough to haul the Country out of recession….”

Firstly, the deficit of $4.9 billion to be drawn from the Nation’s Official Reserves, is very much less than the tens of billions in paper loss which the Government had incurred in trying to prop-up foreign banks, over the past six months. According to prominent economist Song Seng Wun (from CIMB-GK), it was estimated that the Government had accumulated some $60 billion (perhaps, including land sale income) over the past two years, since May 2006. This amount would be more than sufficient to “offset any fiscal stimulus package”.

Secondly, the Package did little to help the unemployed in particular, other than allowing them to pay their income tax instalments over two years. The increment of $30pm in Public Assistance is considered to be so miserly, that the poor recipient will have difficulties wondering whether to use it for salt or sugar!

Considering that Unemployment may probably hit a new high of 6% this year, amidst the already sky-high inflation of 7.5%, the Authorities need to put in more efforts to help the unemployed, especially the bread-winners, to tide over this critical period. For extreme cases, the Authorities should allow defer payments for both public utilities (water, electricity, gas) and conservancy charges, for at least six months. In addition, there should be a “Subsistence Fund” to provide a nominal allowance tagged at 50% of the recipient’s last drawn salary with a cap of $1500 per month.

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) has gathered considerable feedbacks from its weekly direct interactions with the People. Many have requested for the abolition or reduction of several controversial domestic taxes. For instance, the Radio & TV licence fee is seen to duplicate charges payable to media owners. The Water Conservation Tax has outlived its relevance now that the island is quite self-sufficient in water, considering our many new reservoirs and the gracious abundance of rainfall. The Domestic Foreign Worker levy adds heavily to domestic maintenance costs. The levy is seen to be both opportunistic and punitive, especially when the maid is hired to care for children and the elderly sick, and thereby freeing scarce local manpower. In such cases, the Government should subsidize instead of levying additional charges!

The Government should look into more ways of lowering the health care costs, which had jumped by a massive 20%-30% during the last two years. It should refrain from interfering with the ability of local universities to increase their medical faculty intake each year. The current shortage of qualified medical practitioners has contributed to the escalating health care cost.

Its Jobs Credit scheme per se can be quite cumbersome to implement, and may be subject to abuses. A better alternative would the conversion of the proposed 12% quarterly cash subsidy into a direct monthly transfer to the CPF Board under the Employer’s Contribution account. Apart from being comparatively safer, such a mechanism will also ease critical cash flow.

NSP calls on the Government to be more responsible to the People, by being more transparent especially where statistics are concerned. Mark Twain once observed that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Following the unveiling of the Budget, there has been an orchestrated hype glorifying the Establishment with glowing commentaries. Although such trends have become a tradition of sorts in Singapore, the Government would be seen to be more sincere if it should shun the temptation of politicizing every twist of event, for Singaporeans have now matured politically.

12th Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party
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Will Subsidies to Companies help save jobs?

It seems that there are many people who are skeptical about the subsidies (yes, PAP calls it whatever it likes to hide the fact that it has gone against its principle on giving subsidies or handouts to individuals) that the PAP government is handling out.

Lucky Tan has written an article on effectiveness of the wage subsidy. The Online Citizens has an article that doubts about the effectiveness too. Even Mr. Low Thia Kiang has stated his view that this wage subsidy policy will be ineffective.

In my own article one day before the announcement of the budget, I have suggested similar wage subsidy policy via CPF but with conditions attached. The estimate cost of this scheme is about $3 billoin to $5 billion.

There is no doubt that jobs will be saved by this wage subsidy. The concerns raised by various people are:

1) whether the number of jobs saved justify the total cost.
2) money will be given to companies that are profitable.
3) due to dropping demands, companies are going to retrench anyway.
4) no handouts to Singaporeans but to businesses.
5) foreign businesses will benefit.

I have always been criticising the PAP government of treating Singpaoreans as mere economic digits. One may think that saving 50,000 jobs is small in comparison to the amount of money spent. But these potentially unemployed people are human beings, not just mere digits. There may be 3 or 4 more people affected by each unemployed person!

I have mentioned in my article on the Budget for Crisis of Confidence that the aim of the budget is to maintain social confidence in the economy. Saving jobs is merely means to the end of maintain social confidence.

There are two aspects to be taken care of. One, the consumption side. Secondly, the investment side. Wage sudsidy at this critical point of time is important as it serves to maintain the consumption confidence by keeping jobs. On the other hand, it gives a cushioning effect to the business side.

Of course, to maintain the consumption confidence, more should be done. Things like unemployment benefits is crucial to maintain consumption level. Unemployment benefits could be an useful instrument to balance up impact of recession: social welfare spending in unemployed benefits will increase when recession is here. It helps to cushion a declining in domestic consumption.

Some of the points raised by those who are skeptical about the wage subsidy are valid. Those companies which are making money should not be given such wage subsidy, especially those companies which are protected by the government to maintain profitability. eg. Public Transport companies, Public Utility companies.

Put it this way, if anyone find it unreasonable for government to help profitable companies, they should instead protest against the corporate tax cut instead.

But this is a matter of policy implementation. Such wage subsidy must be given with conditions attached.

In my article I have qualify my stand very clearly. There are things that the PAP government could do, there are things not within their control. External demand is not within their control, thus whether a company will retrench because they are suffering from dropping external demand is not within the control of the government. But the truth is, such wage subsidy will still help these companies affected by external demand to ease their cashflows even if they have to retrench their staff. They may end up retrenching less people due to the savings they get through the wage subsidy.

The argument of unemployed are not given handouts or SMEs having less help, thus wage subsidy should not be there is totally flawed. We could actually request the PAP government to DO MORE instead of cutting this wage subsidy to finance other schemes!

The main strategy of the present budget should be extending the local economy as long as possible and not let it die down before the global economy recovers. At the same time, the government should invest in infrastructure, especially technological infrastructual, to prepare Singapore for boom time.

To achieve the first aim, internal demand should be maintained or even boosted as long as possible. A robost economy has to be maintained by domestic consumption confidence.

We have always depended on foreign companies for our economic development and this is due to PAP's past economic development policy. Although I do not agree with PAP's policy that over dependence on foreign MNCs for economic development, but at this moment, the primary aim is to save a dying man who is bleeding profusely. If it needs foreign medicine to save the dying man, so be it. We will talk about long term development after we could help our fellow citizens to tie over this difficult period.

Goh Meng Seng