CPF: Old policy, new fire

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By Augustine Low

The government may have unwittingly opened a Pandora’s box. The talk of the town is about the CPF, thanks to the case of the PM vs. Roy, that could be a lingering, protracted affair.

Singaporeans by and large have no doubt that CPF monies are in safe hands, so that is a point that the government does not need to go to great lengths to drive home. The more contentious point is whether Singaporeans have the fundamental right to access to their hard-earned CPF savings, instead of being subject to changing rules and restrictions.

The CPF issue is an unwelcome distraction for the government. It comes at a time when the hot button issues of housing, healthcare, transport and immigration are being systematically tackled, and Singaporeans are starting to feel they are being heard.

But all of a sudden, as a result of PM vs. Roy, another hot button issue has cropped up with a vengeance, with the rallying cry: Give us back our CPF! There is a simplicity and starkness about it that is so heartfelt, so from the heartland.

In fact, there is every chance that it could turn out to be mother of all hot button issues. And all because it was unwittingly triggered off by a lawsuit about the use of CPF monies, but which has since morphed into an issue close to the hearts of Singaporeans: Do I have the right to access my CPF instead of worrying about the changing goalposts? Why do I need the state to decide if and when I am able to look after my own money?

It is a minefield the government needs to tread with caution. It is something that will not go away anytime soon.

Who would have thought that CPF, which has been with us for so long, would become such a lightning rod issue? It has been resurrected and has put the government on an embarrassing back foot.

Get ready for more such issues to be reopened, and with the government’s misjudgment, to be made into the next big debate.