Friday, May 23, 2014

CPF MYTH - Is CPF Really Risk Free?

Many people have written about CPF issues over the years and most of them concentrated on the few perspectives on why minimum sum keeps rising, where do our CPF go to, why are we getting so low interest rates from CPF, is CPF enough for our retirement financing etc etc.

CPF is a BIG issue and it requires a lot of effort in studying how it works. I remember that during my NUS Econs Honours year, I have to spend quite a few weeks to study the whole CPF system and its changes over the years to fully understand it.

A lot have been said about "how safe" our CPF monies are but PAP government has countered such argument that "government provides guaranteed returns to CPF" to address the point. When people question the safety of our CPF in view of the massive losses made by GIC and Temasek Holdings, PAP has gone overdrive to try its best to dissociate the notion that what GIC and Temasek invested have "nothing to do with CPF".

This come as a shock to many people, especially people like me who have gone into detailed study of the mechanism of CPF during my Econs classes in NUS. We have been taught and believed that CPF money has always been invested in our sovereign funds like GIC and Temasek through the government. Yes, technically speaking, CPF uses the money contributed by Singaporeans to buy some fixed interest rate bonds from Government which are "non- tradable". But in Singapore's context, the government cannot just print money to pay CPF the interests. Our government has more budget surpluses that it doesn't need to borrow CPF money for its budget spending. So, it must be the case that CPF is invested in some investment instruments and the sovereign wealth funds like GIC and Temasek are the natural choices.

Thus it is totally misleading for PAP government to claim that our CPF is not being managed by Temasek or GIC based on some "technical definitions". It is just like the following illustrations I have written on my FB:

The mystery of CPF money...

Aiyah, it is like that one. You have coffee powder (CPF), give it to PAP government, then it just mixes with water (SLA revenue from land sales), sugar (Budget Surplus) and milk (Trade Surplus), stir it and then, serve it to Temasek and GIC. But when you ask, where is my coffee powder, PAP government acts blur but say We sure guarantee to give you back your coffee powder lah, Temasek and GIC also act blur and say we only drink Coffee given by PAP government but didn't take your coffee powder!

If PAP still insists that GIC and Temasek Holdings did not invest any of our CPF money, then please tell us WHERE THE HELL HAS OUR CPF GONE TO? What have they done with our CPF money?

No matter how we look at this issue, inevitably part if not all of our CPF must have been managed by GIC and Temasek going through the government's hands. Once we establish this simple fact of relations, there will be lots of questions and doubts about the well being of our CPF money as well as the "appropriate returns" which our CPF money should deserve.

PAP has claimed CPF is "RISK FREE". Is that really so? Let's look at the example of the bankruptcy of the Greek government. Greek government's bonds should be risk free right? Same as the government bonds CPF has bought. But in the end what happens? Investors in these Greek government bonds are forced to accept a hefty discount from the capital value they have invested in it! So, this illustrates the fact that "Government guarantee" on bonds or such, are as good as naught if the whole government went bankrupt.

Risk is basically about UNCERTAINTIES that could be detrimental to your investment. The greater uncertainties the higher risk it is. If the risk is higher, we would expect to have higher returns for taking the higher risk. If you lack the flexibility or options to mitigate the risk in a timely manner, it would increase your risk factor. These are all basic Financial 101 fundamental teachings of Risk management.

There are a categories of risk our CPF face but I shall touch on the THREE fundamental risks here:

1) Inflation and Forex risks

2) Policy and Political risks

3) GIC and Temasek investment and liquidity risks

These risks are discussed on the backdrop of the fact that CPF is a LONG TERM investment. Any LONG TERM investment will always incur HUGE risks than short term investment. This is just basically why Fixed Deposits in banks will give you higher interests because the risk you face when you are unable to liquidate your funds if something went wrong, is higher. This is especially true when you are FORCED to put money into CPF which part or most of it, you do not have the ability to control or manage the funds at all.

Inflation and Forex Risks

PAP government is not transparent in its management of CPF funds, least so for GIC and Temasek. The mechanism that decides that 2.5% and 4% for CPF money has not been justified by any methodology at all. In the 1980s, we could have as high as 6% interests for CPF but suddenly, we are stuck with 2.5%. The mechanism that decides the increase of minimum sum for CPF is also opaque as well. We could have as high as a 10% increase in 2009 while for other years, an average of 5% - 6%. If both of these indicators are pegged to inflation rates, I do not see why they are not adjusted in tantrum.

So what is the point here? Is 2.5% or 4% a justified interests return for our CPF money? The answer is no because we face pretty higher risk than any other investments. For example, we could use these CPF money to buy bank shares and stocks and safe to say, we should get about 4%-5% dividend return every year. This does not take into the consideration of capital gains in the long run. Furthermore, if there were to have problems with the banks, we could well liquidate them in timely fashion to manage that risk. Thus, in actual fact, investing our money in bank shares is basically SAFER than CPF and yet giving us a higher return! Thus, why should we satisfied with PAP government's promise of 2.5% to 4%?

Whatever government guarantee promised to CPF, we must take it with a pinch of salt. Beside the PRIME example of Greek and Italian government's debacle in recent years, such guarantee is only as good as the government of the day.

If our CPF interest isn't really pegged with inflation rates, then we are basically facing inflation risk. At times, the CPF interest given is even LOWER than the inflation we face yearly! Money is as good as the amount of goods it could purchase. You can promise me $1 million in 30 years time when I put in $10 now, but if I can't even buy a packet of chicken rice with that $1 million after 30 years later, then what's the use of such guarantee?

If our Singapore dollars is to depreciate over time, we will face foreign exchange risks in the long run as well. As a small open economy, we import almost everything for our livelihood and it would mean that our cost of living will be very much higher by then.

PAP government can only "guarantee" the amount of money in terms of digits to our CPF BUT they can't guarantee the preservation of our dollar value in terms of purchasing power basically because they have limited means to control inflation and foreign exchange in the long run. We are very much subjected to external factors influencing these two important parameters.

Policy and Political Risks

We are already facing drastic policy risks now. PAP has amended the CPF Act so many times that we have lost count. From the most primitive and simple "withdrawal at 55 years old" to the amendment to increase and decrease of contribution rates, Medisave, Special Account, Minimum Sum manipulations, Compulsory Life Annuity etc.

The fundamental question here is, is this FAIR to CPF contributors? For Medisave, most likely we will not see the money in this account until we die! The yearly increment of Minimum Sum decided by CPF and PAP government their own total discretionary power without any form of transparent methodology will basically prevent MAJORITY of Singaporeans from withdrawing their money other that "token" of S$5000 when they reach 55 years old. Worse of all, the Compulsory Life Annuity is basically a FORCED TAXATION like the Social Security Mutual Fund system. This is a strange twist in this whole CPF system. We have decided on a Self Reliance CPF system but in the end, when we get old, we are FORCED to turn it into a lousy pension fund system which really pays pittance monthly amount for our retirement!

PAP has set a very BAD example here by messing up the CPF system. It has empowered itself and CPF to decide on the amount of Minimum Sum increment every year without the need to go through any scrutiny at all. They don't need to go through any debates in parliament, nor referendum, nor consultation with the people or in any way, transparent about how they derive such figures and decisions! Imagine if in future, we have really mediocre politicians as our leaders, they could have abused the CPF system with such powers!

On the other hand, if the government of the day mess up the economy and mismanage both the fiscal and monetary policies, we may face with the situation that most of our CPF money "borrowed" by the government via the bonds would be used to finance huge budget deficits, trade deficits or foreign exchange losses. Naturally, we may face even higher inflation.

These risks are by no means small because Singaporeans DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION NOT to lend the government their CPF money to finance such policy failures!

GIC and Temasek Holdings Investment and Liquidity Risks

The management of CPF by the two SWF, GIC and Temasek holding, makes it even more risky here. These two SWF invested most of the money overseas. If they invest in assets valued in other foreign currencies, we will face even more foreign exchange risks. For example, if they have invested US$100 at exchange rate of S$1.70 (i.e. S$170 invested) in a company in the past, after 10 years, the paper value of this company has "increased" to US$110 but the exchange rate has dropped to S$1.20 per US$1, then in effect, we have only S$132 left. This is an actual loss instead of a gain!

The government's assertion of "guarantee" also means nothing when both SWF failed, where would the government get the money to pay our CPF interests? By printing more money? That will create hyper inflation instead! That would mean that even if the government guarantee that paying of 2.5% to 4% CPF interest, these money given to us would be greatly discounted by the inflation caused by money printing! So what good is such "government guarantee" worth? It doesn't really mean "risk free" at all. Thus, it is totally MISLEADING and irresponsible for PAP to use such a BIG word "RISK FREE" return and to argue that since it is "RISK FREE", it justifies lower interest return for CPF!

On the other hand, using these SWF as vehicle to manage our funds will face liquidity risk. On paper, an asset may be worth $100 million but it may not be easy to liquidate such asset at the paper value because there may not be many qualified buyers around. It will take time or even DISCOUNTS to make a successful liquidation of such assets in order to meet the expected payout to CPF. An aging population would mean that more and more liquidity would be needed to meet the liability of monetary payout to CPF holders. It may not be easy for both SWF to make timely liquidation of their assets to meet these obligations without suffering losses.

I personally suspect that one of the main reasons why PAP decided to stop Singaporeans from withdrawing ALL their CPF at one go when they reach 55 years old is because of the potential difficulty in maintaining such liquidity. They would prefer a prolonged period of drawing down so that they need not make massive liquidation of assets to meet their CPF payout obligations. The unilateral manipulation of Minimum Sum may be due to this consideration as well. The most obvious case is revealed in the year 2009. The increase of minimum sum has suddenly shot up to more than 10%. This corresponded to the massive losses both GIC and Temasek Holdings incurred during the period of 2008 to 2009. The write off of assets would mean that the investment income would severely affect the ability to provide the necessary cashflow and liquidity to cope with the yearly pay out to CPF.

There are many issues with CPF but I find that we should first have proper deliberations on the RISKS we face right now with the present setting. It is apparent that the interests given to our CPF accounts do not fully commensurate the amount of (high) risks we are taking by placing our money in CPF. As mentioned, it would even be better for us to use our ALL our CPF money to buy bank shares and enjoy the 4% to 5% yearly dividends and at the same time, benefits from the capital appreciation of the share value. We can't do that with our money in Medisave account.

We face STRUCTURAL risks with the rigid arrangement of CPF being forced to buy only Government Bonds which is not entirely "Risk Free" at all. The lack of flexibility would mean that we are forced to face the risks of having a bad government as well as the risks of the bad performance of our two SWF.

There is no such thing as "Risk Free" in this inflationary world. Even if PAP guarantees to peg the interest rates CLOSELY correlated to inflation rates with a totally transparent mechanism that can be scrutinized by the people, Singaporean CPF holders still face the basic risks of how well GIC and Temasek perform. They have no means to mitigate such risk factors according to their risk adversity level at all.

If we could make our own decisions in how we could invest our CPF money, directly in our SWF or other mutual funds, we would be able to reap the full returns for the types of risks we face. i.e. we will not be taking a meager 2.5% to 4% interest return while the two SWF are making an average of over 10% per year! Basically, we have been shortchanged. To look at it from another perspective, we are suffering a heavy TAX imposed by the PAP government on the potential returns we should get if we invest directly in the SWF instead of going through the "Coffee Making" process of PAP government! The tax could be as high as 60% on the potential 10% returns which we could get from GIC or Temasek or both combined!

Last but not least, different people have different risk portfolio or adversity. The present CPF system has forced us into a situation of one size fits all. Risk management should be customized to each individual's appetite of risk taking. At the same time, individuals should be allowed to change their portfolio construct anytime they want. They should also be provided adequate choices of mutual funds to invest in, with differential percentages of their CPF money to be invested into different portfolios with different risk construct.

The CPF is an instrument to make sure we save for our retirement BUT not a means to provide the government CHEAP funds to invest and make money for their own use. It is definitely not meant to make us fit into a high risk situation with inadequate returns, least to make us lose our purchasing power over time due to inflation and foreign exchange risks.

Whether we like it or not, our CPF is clearly NOT RISK FREE and it is definitely linked to the fate of the two SWF, GIC and Temasek Holdings, as well as the type of government we have at any one time. Once we understand these fundamentals about the RISKS we face in CPF, then we can question PAP government effectively on the flaws in the present CPF system.

 Goh Meng Seng

Sunday, May 11, 2014


非排外而是捍衛新加坡主權和法治 (修)

謹貴報於 2014426日刊登的文章<<星民排外白熱化 菲使館示警 菲人擬商場賀國慶 遭網上圍攻>> 作為反對菲律賓人於公共場所慶祝獨立日的一份子,我必須澄清文章中的一些繆誤。








舉例說,如果日本駐北京大使館要在天安門或王府井舉行日本建國紀念日,這對中國人民來講是否恰當?又或者旅局菲律賓的中國人若在馬尼拉慶祝十月一日國慶的話,那又會有何反響呢? 就算是被視為世界強國的美國,也不會如此囂張不顧東道國人民的情感,而肆無忌憚的在七月四日於他國的公共場所高調慶祝獨立日,因為這將被視為踐踏他國主權的行徑!











Thursday, May 08, 2014

Should we take CPF and PAP government to court?

Although this is nothing new nor shocking to us, but this is really unbearable to us: CPF is going to increase the minimum sum again! It seems that this will become a yearly ritual whereby CPF will continue to keep raising the minimum sum without getting consent from us, the depositors and contributors, without the need to go through parliamentary debate or approval nor going for referendum! 

Last time, Singaporeans look forward to life after retirement because they thought they can enjoy and relax life abit with the CPF they have accumulated over their working life but now, PAP GOVT keep shifting the goal poles which in the end, asking them to work beyond their retirement age and most probably will not see their CPF money until they die.... Wake Up Singaporeans!

CPF under PAP government changes rules like nobody business. Now, PAP has given CPF all the power to change the minimum sum as and when they like, without any checks from anybody else! This is a DANGEROUS thing to do, especially when CPF is the custodian of almost ALL Singaporeans' retirement funds. How could such organization allow to change rules, dragging withdrawal of monies by extending retirement age, withdrawal limits, ever increasing Minimum Sum, putting your money into Medisave which you will NEVER SEE these money ever until the day you die, forced you to put into Life Annuity which doesn't really give you a FAIR return and now, may just silently make you put up nomination form that will only transfer your money from your CPF account to your beneficiary's CPF account! What is going on? Is CPF facing huge cashflow problem so much so that it has to come up with ALL SORTS of methods to delay your withdrawal of your hard earned money?

(Just look at this chart. Do you find it strange here? Why would the minimum sum increment percentage suddenly shot up in 2009 from the average 5 to 6 percent to over 10%? 2008 just happened to be minibond bombed and recession! You go figure that out!)

CPF is unlike other Social Security Funds which will be affected by an aging population drastically. Other Social Security Funds depends on the contributions of present working adults to finance the retirement of those retired citizens. Such system will definitely be affected by an inverted bell shape aging demographic trend. CPF is a SELF FINANCED retirement scheme in which, each and everyone of us finance our own retirement by our own savings during our working life. Thus, there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASONS for CPF to face any cashflow problems due to changing aging population at all.

Thus, I am VERY VERY PUZZLED WHY CPF and PAP government are doing all these stunts. Those Singaporeans who tend to squander away their own CPF money when they withdraw lump sum, ARE THE MINORITY and this should not be used as an excuse for CPF to be our baby sitter of our retirement funds! Most Singaporeans are very conservative financially.

When CPF was first founded, it gave a booklet to depositors, proudly declared on the front page, you can withdraw your money at age 55 years old. I am no lawyer but is there any contract signed between depositors and CPF with regards to depositing money into CPF? I remembered I have signed some document when I opened my CPF accounts. Does the contract says CPF can change the rules and delay the withdrawal of our money as and when they like?

If there is a contract signed here, I hope some good lawyers can look into whether CPF has breached their contract obligations. Look, even insurance companies are governed by laws and I believe they cannot suka suka change their rules and delay payment to their clients!

Even if the contract signed gave some power to CPF, but the absurdity of allowing CPF to forever increase the minimum sum and forcing people to buy life annuity without any choice, is really against common sense and thus, common law.

I am seriously hoping that there are good soul lawyers out there who would want to look into the feasibility of bringing CPF and PAP government to court; either sue them for breaching contractual obligation or go straight for judiciary review of the unfetter power given to CPF to lock up OUR MONEY! And I hope Singaporeans at large would agree to donate just a little amount for this lawsuit, which will have enormous implications for you, me and our future generations.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Protest Letter to Philippines Embassy in Singapore

I have sent the following protest letter to the Ambassador H.E. Minda Calaguian-Cruz to urge her to stop sponsoring PIDC's planned public celebration of Philippines Independence Day at Orchard Road.

H.E. Minda Calaguian-Cruz
Philippines Ambassadress to Republic of Singapore
20 Nassim Road, Singapore 258395.

Dear Excellency,

Re: Protest Against Embassy of the Philippines Sponsorship of PIDC Independence Day Celebration

1.          I am writing to you today to register my protest against your Embassy’s sponsorship and support of PIDC (Pilipino Independence Day Council Singapore) in organizing a PUBLIC celebration of your country’s Independence Day.
2.          As you should know, it is diplomatically sensitive to hold PUBLIC celebration of one’s country’s Independence Day or National Day in foreign land. PIDC’s past and present intention of organizing a Public Celebration event for Philippines Independence Day is a blatant breach of such diplomatic protocols.
3.          On top of that, PIDC has put up insensitive posters and banners in the past, right from 2011 till now for this public celebration. Singapore is not part of Philippines and I do not understand why Singapore’s skyline and iconic landmark have been used for propagating Philippines Independence Day. Moreover, PIDC has been basically rude, insensitive and displayed inherent aggressive attitude in the following poster and banner:

4.          I believe Singaporeans at large will find extremely offended by the design of such posters and backdrop which basically depicts a “conquer” of our land. They actually reminded me of the Japanese occupation era way back in World War II.
5.          On top of that, as you should know, it is an offence in Singapore to display your National flag or emblems representing your country in public places without special consent or permission from our minister. However, as you and your staffs have attended the previous events organized by PIDC, you should realize that they have contravened our law on National Emblems (Control of Display) ACT Chapter 196. Apart from the backdrop for 2011 shown above which has prominently displayed the Philippines flag, the following are the proofs of such illegal acts carried out in previous PIDC events:

6.          Singapore Police has also issued a public statement that PIDC has not applied for any of the necessary licenses or permits for their planned public event in celebration of Philippines Independence Day. It is quite puzzling to us why PIDC has publicized the event without applying for these permits. I wonder if they have applied for the necessary permits in events held in previous years!

7.          It is understandable that each country like yours would want to celebrate your Sovereignty and Independence Day with your people. However, it should be done as private functions either at your Embassy compound or in hotel as most countries’ diplomatic missions or embassies have been doing all these years.
8.          It would be inevitable for such public event aimed at celebrating your country’s Independence Day to end up contravening our law as it is only human nature for your people wanting to express their patriotism by displaying the Philippines flag. However, such act will be considered as a trespassing of our sovereignty and it would not do good to the friendship established between both countries and their people.
9.          I would urge Your Excellency to reconsider your sponsorship and support for PIDC to organize such public event to celebrate Philippines Independence Day publicly in Singapore. I would also urge Your Excellency to discourage and dissuade PIDC from organizing such event now and in future as it is offensive and it has hurt Singaporeans’ feelings.

10.      Last but not least, I also suspect that You Excellency’s support of PIDC has somewhat emboldened some of the Filipino businessman in Singapore. They have also openly displayed the Philippines Flag on their shop’s signage in public places. (Photo shown a Pinoy shop at Bedok Bus Interchange) Knowingly or unknowingly, they have committed a seizable offence in Singapore as stated in our National Emblems (Control of Display) Act Chapter 196. I hope that Your Excellency’s office could provide proper advisory to these Filipinos to observe the law of our land.

11.      I hope that Your Excellency and your Embassy would do the right thing and take necessary steps to ensure that the relationship between Singapore and Philippines people would not be marred by insensitive and law breaking acts by the minority of Filipinos in Singapore.

Best Regards,
Goh Meng Seng

Monday, May 05, 2014

Get it right for integration of Foreigners!

There was a question put up by a human rights social activist on what we are trying to achieve by raising the red flag and complain to the authorities about Filipino and Mexican shops putting up their national flags on their signage. Well, that human rights social activist has admitted that it is indeed against our law, the National Emblems Act.

I find it weird for the activist to make that remark and I was trying to understand on what angle or grounds he is trying to see from. Is he trying to say just because this illegal act is done by foreigners, we should just close both eyes and let it be? Is he trying to say that because they are foreigners and may be ignorant of such law, that is why we should excuse them? Then the logic would extend to other general rules and laws. Foreigners will be excused from jay walking, littering, spitting, urinating or poohing in public etc etc because it was their unique culture back home and they didn't know how drastic the law we have in Singapore against all these!?

My dear activists, the sole purpose, is not about racism as you are so quick to label it, but rather to maintain the basic RULE of LAW on this little tiny island. If the foreigners aren't aware of our law here at first, after actions have been taken, they will sure know it from now on. Ignorance, is not a good excuse for committing an illegal act.

You either believe in Rule of Law or you don't and before you talk about human rights, you must also understand Rule of Law is the fundamental basis of maintaining human rights as well.

One of the main problems with "integration" between Foreigners and Singapore is the mismatch of "social practices". If we frown upon their "social practices" which are really unacceptable, would it be considered as "Xenophobic" or "Racist"? The recent big hoohaa between Hong Kongers vs Mainland Chinese have provided an exceptional case study.

On numerous occasions, Mainland Chinese have been caught poohing and peeing openly in public places. It is unhygienic and annoying to Hong Kongers to the extend that Hong Kongers start to take photos of such disgusting acts and put them up on the internet. The Mainlanders fought back, complaining that it is "common" or a "non issue" because public toilets are scarce in Hong Kong. In fact, that is what they do in China as well, hinting that it is an acceptable social norm or practices to them in China and Hong Kongers are just making a fuss over a trivial mater.

The situation exploded, of course. Now the question is, are Hong Kongers really "Xenophobic" in this instance? IMHO, not at all.

The tension arises because of difference in cultural social understanding of what is and what is not acceptable. But at the end of the day, it is Hong Kong where the act has been committed and Hong Kongers should have the last say. When you are in Rome, do as Romans do. You will have to follow the custom of the society or place where you stay or visit and respect the laws and social norms, definitely not the other way round! If you, as a foreigner, try to assert yourself, your way of life, your mentality and cultural-social practices in the host country, you will definitely become a person who will not be welcome there. What gives you the right to go into other people's land and try to do it your way? Mess it up the law and order of the society which you are just a guest there?

Thus, in my view, the only way to prevent further frictions and unnecessary unhappiness and deterrence to REAL Integration, we will have to exert and enforce our cultural-social norms and it is for foreigners to integrate into such social order instead of the other way round.

One of the important Enforcement of law and order fairly and clearly to foreigners and Singaporeans alike, will set the key tone to whole social norm which is acceptable to Singaporeans. We cannot become lax just because they are foreigners with the excuse that they do no know the law. If so, the social tension between the citizens and foreigners will aggravate because it would be seen as double standards which lack rule of law. Secondly, the persistence infringement of social norm or contravene of our law will eventually create a deeply imprinted generalized BAD perception of these foreigners and it will become a time bomb for future explosion.

Thus, back to the Human Rights Activist who questioned the purpose of me raising the red flag on Filipino and Mexican shops which put up their national flags which clearly contravene our law, in which he too admitted this fact. Contrary to what he thinks that this is some dubious act of racism, it is actually an attempt to nip the bud of the problem right at the heart of it. If these shops were allowed to carry on their ways, citizens will start to wonder why foreigners have special privileges to break the law or disrupt the social norm. Such development will definitely be most unhealthy to our nation and society. Rule of law is the simplest and effective way of maintaining social standards and stability.

If you do not want citizens to differentiate or discriminate foreigners, you have to get the fundamentals right: it is for the foreigners to respect our social norms, abide by our laws and stop doing things that is culturally annoying to Singaporeans. On top of that, respect our country and sovereignty. Everybody likes to have good and well behaved guests in their house.

If Human Rights Activists cannot get this right, I do not think they can get very far in their pursue of their human rights cause.

Goh Meng Seng

P.S. I have just seen this quote on a book:

"If and when foreigners contravene any Laws, they cannot expect or claim special privilege or exemptions on the basis of their nationality or states as foreigner... while some might regard graffiti as a stimulating an liberating activity that adds colour, spice and variety to a staid environment, many more in Singapore think otherwise." - Justice V.K. Rajah (2010)

My Dear Prime Minister, Singapore doesn’t belong to Foreigners!

I was first shocked to read what was reported from an INDIAN online news website that our dear Prime Minister has uttered the following words:

"Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here, all participating in one big Singapore family... So that we feel that this is a place which is special, which belongs to all of us and where we all celebrate one another's festivals and happy events together."

I thought I have read wrongly or that the Indian news website has misquoted our dear Prime Minister but after checking with Channel News Asia news report, those were the exact words quoted as well.

From my understanding, our Dear Prime Minister is basically saying, “Hey! Foreigners like you, whether you are PRs or just working here under employment pass, we treat you as one big Singapore family and this land belongs to you as well and we would be glad to celebrate any festivals or happy events with you here!”

Well, I may not have scored A in my English or General Papers but I believe my comprehension is as close to what our Dear Prime Minister has said. In fact, a simple check with TOC FB or TRS or TRE sites, all those who have commented on this statement have the same understanding as I have. It could not possibly be that hundreds and thousands of Singaporeans have misunderstood what he has said.

My Dear Prime Minister, just a few days ago, you have chided Singaporeans for protesting against PIDC (Pilipino Independence Day Council) for organizing a PUBLIC celebration of their country’s Independence Day at Orchard road as “a disgrace to Singapore”. Your fellow minister has also insinuated those who are against PIDC as “bigots”. With all due respect, I was wondering why PAP minister and our very own Dear Prime Minister have such harsh words against our very own Singaporeans without really understanding what we are really protesting.

I should save the details on how PIDC has been truly disrespectful, breaking our law and such but even on the surface, you and your colleagues should know very well that a PUBLIC celebration of Philippines sovereignty aka Independence Day is against well established Diplomatic protocols. Such public event is not just a simple festival event nor cultural event but basically a demonstration and celebration of another country’s sovereignty on our land publicly. This is totally inappropriate and trespasses on our country’s sovereignty.

With all due respect, my Dear Prime Minister, you are an Army General and trained to protect, defend and die for our country’s sovereignty. You have allocated over 10 billion dollars EVERY YEAR in our National Budget to defense spending and male Singaporeans have spent years in basic military training and suffered disruptions to their work and businesses in order to attend ICT yearly, just to defend our home country. I really cannot understand why, as a Prime Minister, you would not only willingly allow foreigners to trespass our sovereignty but on top of that, chided our own patriotic brothers and sisters for trying to defend our country’s sovereignty and dignity!

I also cannot understand why you could just GIVE AWAY our country by telling foreigners working and staying on this land that this country also belongs to them willingly without anybody firing a single shot! Aren’t we wasting our billions of dollars in defense spending and the time, effort, sweat, blood and even lives of our Singaporeans in National Service when your government is so readily to allow foreigners trespass our sovereignty or even own our country?

I have lived to believe in a country call Singapore in which I belong to and for which I shall lay my life to defend it. For all my life up till now, as an army officer, I have given numerous pep talks and speeches to my fellow Singaporean comrades in arm, to provide them the very reason and need for their sacrifices in training to fight and defend this country. My Dear Prime Minister, unwittingly, your remark here has just destroyed years of efforts made by thousands and thousands of officers trying to convince their men the need for them to make the necessary sacrifices for this land which we call home. Do you really know what you have done? Or do you really know what you are saying?

Only the true blue Singaporeans who really belongs to this land, this country, this home, will put in the effort and even risk their lives to train and defend it. Will your foreigners who just happen to stay here, work here or study here risk their lives to defend this country if there is really a war? My Dear Prime Minister, the answer is no. They will be the first ones to flee this country at the very first sight of trouble and you jolly well know that! In fact, you should know that every year there are thousands of "second generation PRs" who have chosen to give up their PR status just to avoid National Service! Thus, My Dear Prime Minister, how could you ever utter those words, saying this land, this country also belong to the foreigners who are PRs or those with employment passes?

We are NOT Xenophobic, neither are we racist against foreigners who came to work or study in our country. We are not against foreigners staying here to celebrate their festivals or organize their cultural events. However, make no mistake about it, My Dear Prime Minister; Singaporeans will always be the only owners of this country. Celebration of foreign country’s National Day or Independence Day public in Singapore is deemed as a total disrespect to our sovereignty. Any foreigner who wants to belittle or trespass our sovereignty, disrespect and break our law or even try to claim that our country belongs to them, will have to be dealt with respectively. Does our country belong to foreigners staying here? Over my dead body, My Dear Prime Minister.

My Dear Prime Minister, you have enraged so many Singaporeans in one master stroke by making your unwarranted remarks. Just read all those comments on the internet sites! You have evoked so much anger from Singaporeans and congratulations, you have outdone all the past Prime Ministers of Singapore. In all my life, I have never heard or read any well respected political leaders in the world history, not even ancient Emperors and Kings, telling foreigners that their own land or country belongs to the foreigners!

My Dear Prime Minister, you have indeed lost the respect of so many Singaporeans and most important of all, the honour and moral authority to lead Singapore by such utterance. I would urge you to apologize for making such disgraceful remark, resign and step down from your office. That would be the only last dignified thing you can do for Singapore, our country, our home land.

Goh Meng Seng

Friday, May 02, 2014

Inappropriate Signage contravening Singapore Law

Updates: I have received a short reply from BCA and I wrote a short reply back:

Dear Mr Goh

We refer to your feedback below. 

We are looking into the matter and will get back to you soon. Thank you for your patience.

With warmest regards.

Ms Gangotra • Customer Relations Executive• Building and Construction Authority

I wrote back:

Dear Ms Gangsotra,

Thank you for your reply. I hope to know the outcome of the findings, if any. Thank you.
Best regards,

Goh Meng Seng

I have written in to Building and Control Authority of Singapore to make complain about the apparent inappropriate signage used by various shops or hawker stalls run by foreigners. 

BCA is the governing authority that is supposed to make sure that all signage put up by businesses are appropriate. I really wonder why they have approved such signage that has contravened our law. 

 A Filipino shop at Bedok Interchange

The hawker stall featured by Straits Times recently

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have received various information about foreigners-run shops are displaying their respective countries' flags on their shopfront signage.
Such act contravenes our Singapore law under National Emb
lems (Control of Display) Act Chapter 196. This is stated specifically in the following link:;page=0;query=DocId%3A%229a8be456-f4d6-4822-90b0-1d903cd25d86%22%20Status%3Ainforce%20Depth%3A0;rec=0

I believe BCA is in charge of signage licensing and I wonder why BCA has allowed such signage to be displayed. Will BCA take the necessary actions at these errant shops?

Please find attached the photographs of the shops that have contravened our law. The Pinoy shop is situated at Bedok Interchange and this is not the first time it has done so. The second photo is taken by Straits Times in one of its report on foreign food in our hawker centres.

I would like to know what is the position of BCA on such signage. Thank you.

Goh Meng Seng

P.S. This email will be published on my Facebook as well as my blog.