Ex-GIC chief economist does a Facebook blast on “shortchanged” citizens and “impossible barriers” for opposition politics in Singapore

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Former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong criticised the government in a thorough Facebook post today for stifling opposition politics, using estate management as a political tool and taking citizens’ life savings “hostage,” and for short-changing citizens by combining the role of an MP with the role of a public housing manager.

His post is in response to news that broke yesterday that an independent panel acting on behalf of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council is taking chief members of the Workers’ Party (WP) to court over alleged governance lapses in running the town council.

Allegations of mismanagement of the town council have bogged the opposition members of parliament from Aljunied GRC from the time they were voted into office in 2011.

Yeoh criticised the government for creating a political system that even they would not be able to breach if they are an opposition party in the future. He also asserted that it is the citizens who are ultimately disadvantaged by the current political system that “breaches citizens rights” because their access to their savings and their homes are tied to voting since government institutions are tied to one party.

We republish his statement in full here:

MPs running town councils is a terrible idea that largely only serves to effectively stifle opposition politics in Singapore by raising near impossible barriers to entry.
The skill set of a good town council manager is entirely different from that of an MP. The council manager is a real estate manager of a massive public cum private housing estate and infrastructure. This requires specialist skills and experience and is rightfully the work of a well resourced public stat board like the HDB who used to manage all estates before MPs ran town councils or mayoralties.
Singapore HDB and housing residents deserve the expertise and economies of scale possessed by HDB in running their precincts rather than have such management and investment in needed infrastructure improvements be held hostage to shorter term political manoevering.
An MPs job on the other hand is to primarily question policies and legislation in parliament on behalf of the electorate. This requires a total different skill set and the substantial time and resources needed to do this effectively.
He or she also to see that the needs of his constituents are met efficiently and adequately by relevant agencies not to be bogged down by the Augean task of managing it him or herself. Especially if they have to duplicate management systems that previous incumbents refuse to share. Not to mention the duplication of administrative resources by different electoral precincts.
Finally and equally importantly, the provision of estate management services and allocation infrastructure is a public good and should never be used as a political tool.
The bulk of most citizens net worth or life savings is in their home. To have its value held hostage to voting in a powerful incumbent government that controls the agencies responsible for such activities is both a breach of citizens rights as well as a recipe for authoritarian rule.
And to make relatively inexperienced opposition MPs financially liable for any mismanagement in spite of best intentions is to effectively raise the bar for an opposition politician that would otherwise be effective in questioning policies way too high to be of any real benefit to citizens.
The public is thus short changed both ways in terms of optimal public housing management as well as political representation.
Please note that all this cuts institutionally both ways. If the PAP ever found itself in minority opposition again , it may never be able to return from the political wilderness beyond the impregnable walls of their own creation.

Yeoh previously made headlines in 2015 for criticising the government’s Workfare and Silver Support Schemes as “sadly inadequate” before calling for greater transparency on Singapore’s fiscal resources. He also said that taxes for middle-income groups can be avoided even if the expenditure for Workfare and Silver Support Schemes is tripled.

This was in response to his former classmate, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s 2015 general election rally speech at Bukit Panjang.

Earlier this year in June, he also called out the Singapore Police Force for “inadequate community policing.”

Yeoh Lam Keong is currently employed at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The senior economist is also a board member of SMU’s School of Economics Advisory Board, besides directing several investment firms.

MPs running town councils is a terrible idea that largely only serves to effectively stifle opposition politics in…

Posted by Lam Keong Yeoh on Wednesday, 26 July 2017

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UPDATE: Yeoh has since responded to this article, taking issue with how his post has been interpreted in spite of the fact that his post was republished in full. Interpretations vary and we stand by our interpretation of his message.

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63 comments

  1. Kenzo Ng says:

    朱门酒肉臭, 路有冻死骨。人生自古谁无死,留取丹心照汉清。君子侠义之心,令人佩服五体头地。。。。

  2. Facebook Profile photo
    Peter Wang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Kudos to Mr Yeoh and I do not think he is criticising but more of Mr Yeohs of Singapore are speaking up as more of us are stifle by the tight reins of a government under the guise of meritocracy could be getting on too long in power and paranoid to see the trees from the forest.

    Further more come end of September, the government wants to add a new President in the context of HMV ( woof woof – his master voice)

    In this growing 21 century, with Singapore in the First World let be ready to agree to disagree and grow with maturity of the First World. Give opposition a chance! Yes i Know the government can claim credit for NCMP but when these people barked, the whole entourage of the government comes to descend on them to tame the shrew to beat the daylight out of them.

    Please do not wait till the voice of the daily Singaporean grows loud and aggressive.

  3. Facebook Profile photo
    FL ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Agree with Mr Lam. By attaching MPs to manage the HDB estates is an election gimmick. The whites made the elected oppos having problems of tendering contractors. The contractors fear of losing projects becos the majority of the projects are with the whites” estates. The oppos contractors worried they would be disadvantaged when they want to tender the whites” projects.

  4. Facebook Profile photo
    William Lim ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    grc scams, town council scam, cpf @ 65 scam, now e puppet scam.

    smiling tiger eunuch goh promised swiss standard of living, delivered swiss costs of living, and he started the town council to fix opposition.

  5. social media….. lol !

    Imagine a father bought a commuter for his son to improve his work, but once his son master it ….. he heck into his father savings account.

    Anyway … thanks for the well connected data networks that been built, so I can post my $0.01 cent comments.

  6. Is this a surprise news? Everyone already experiencing it in reality. Doesn’t mean if he didn’t announced it, it didn’t didn’t happen. Pls Singaporeans have a brain of your own. Don’t wait for others to say to believe it! If u don’t help yourself at the ballot box, then be slave your whole life for the rich and elites in this country. U suffer, they enjoy.

  7. Ryan Lee says:

    With the current political system in place the PAP knows damn well they have to do whatever it takes to hold on to power because they know once they lost power it will be an uphill task to get it back.

    The system engineered by the supreme leader was never a healthy one in the first place, it’s a tool for power hungry politicians like him to rule like a dictator under the guise of a democratic society.

  8. Jasen Lee says:

    I fully agree. Their salaries higher n highest n…….. WP, they expect them to meet the people and other work. I have Sylvia last year in the mosque on Idul Fitri Day wishing muslims there, the one along Upper Serangoon Road. I have seen them just sitting with people in Hainan Village. I have never seen a Pets and Puppets when they were mps’. Never before

    1. Low Jerry says:

      Yes you are right. I’ve been doing charity work serving the needy for many years, many of the places are under PAPigs. I have never seen a MP at the distribution centre at all. Wonder why the 69.9% accept the pigs as caring government.

    1. Low Jerry says:

      That’s why they need a large amount of money to upkeep these ball lickers and one day they will fall heavily if they cannot raise taxes from all corners anymore. The satellite road pricing which will be kicked in in 2020 is another big money cow.

  9. Puibao Bao says:

    Stifled, short-changed, manipulated, taken for a ride, taken hostage…what’s new? We are so used to the abuses that hardly anyone bats an eyelid anymore PLUS we want MORE! Lol!

  10. HDB is the main supervision of All town councils including Opposition wards Why only sue the three MPs and not HDB whose signed on the dotted lines??? Is it to sue to get rid of Oppositions ????

  11. Li Hong says:

    Agree with this guy. It is a qualitative entry barrier. Even those Pappies mp will not be able to start from scratch and create a management team for the town council. It is bull shit from the Pappies that if you can’t manage a town council, you can’t run a country.

  12. If cannot run tc means cannot run big corporations or country, then the super white takes the cake. MANY lapses around the ministries and tc yet not accounted for and nobody take responsibility. No wonder country is falling backwards.

  13. Grace Yu says:

    Just keep section 377A intact, take everything else away, including the income and capital gains opportunities for the wealthy and middle class, they will still vote for PAP. No worries. Proceed to take away their money, cause property prices to plummet, shares to plunge but always keep Section 377A.

  14. Agree with Yeo Lam Keong that Singapore is falling due to square pegs in round holes!
    Town council is certainly the jobs of HDB!
    We the citizens suffer under this taichi wayang management!
    When my roof near the window has spalling concrete, I called HDB, they told me it is town council service but town council inspector after checking, told me to call HDB!
    Our government is lopsided with many square pegs in round holes?
    Go Ching is an electrical engineer yet she is in charge of investment
    Shengwu is the right candidate as he has PHD in economics
    Politicians fight and debate on policies, not on how to do estate managements when they are not professionally train in that profession!
    My niece can manage town council than any MP!
    Singapore bridge is falling down when our government are not professional in hiring the right talents to do the professional job!
    Will the 68.8% wake up, do not follow the white monkeys

    1. @Low Jerry
      Agree with you as KBW, that white cow remove all the softwares from Aljunied GRC, actually the softwares belong to the residents as we pay the service for donkey years yet the white cow stolen the softwares!
      They should also investigate Cynthia Phua who run the town council before 2011
      I see this issue as fault finding it rather to get rid of any opposition

    2. @Kenneth Seah
      Do you know that there is a kampong of Lee’s in disguise?
      Ho Sing and Ho Peng are siblings of Ho Ching, holding directorships status in Singapore Technology and MOE, Grace Fu’s papa James Fu is LKY press secretary, Teo Chee Hean is the son of OCBC chairman, Tony Tan is the nephew of Tan Chin Tuan, Kwa Soon Bee is LKY brother-in-law, brother of Kwa Geok Choo, Chan Chun Sing is grandson of Monica Lee (LKY sister) and many other surnames as top directors !
      This is life in earth, what matters most is their credentials and performance!
      Sheng Wu study philosophy and economic and is world’s top debater who had debated with LKY privately whereas Hong Yi has no talents and not trustworthy !
      Please watch interview of Thum Ping Tjin on Oxley family feud, then you will learn more about our future elections and vote wisely

  15. This is why it is important that the PAP must not have such a large majority in Parliament. We must have more opposition voices to question them rigorously and expose all the shortcomings in the system to the public.

  16. Gary Ng says:

    Yes, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the MP, the opposition has limited experience to run the council than the PAP whom they shared their experiences and expertise, now this whites obviously has hidden agenda to get rid of any threat they face.. what a shame

    1. Low Jerry says:

      For all you know , if the PAPigs has the experience then don’t report one moment surplus then raise the S&CC charges. Correct me if I’m wrong. I remember when George Yeo reported the loses he did say there is still some $7billions balance. Where are they now????.

    2. Andrew Koh says:

      Actually some of the PAP run TCs are doing worse, like AMK. Only difference is that they don’t get penalised. We are now a country with 2 systems!!!

  17. The system was made to be broken to the ire of any opposition. Dirty chemically-infused bombs at play here.
    LKY mentions skullduggery and scandalous in his previous comments. Who are the ones?

  18. Walter Tan says:

    Actually PAP MPs have the leverage to used PAP-back companies to run town councils and their MPs just ride along that line, which the oppositions MPs do not have. This has been exposed long before but majority of the people simply accept it.

    1. Andrew Koh says:

      Yes, PAP have all the resources, and yet many of their TCs are performing worse than rookie WP, attracting possible criminal charges in AMK’s case. And they are running Singapore…….!!

  19. {“My brother entered the lift and I followed him, and suddenly the whole ceiling collapsed. It hit my head and then it cut my feet (sic),” she told Channel NewsAsia.
    “I lost a lot of blood and I was very scared. I didn’t think it was my leg that was cut (sic). I thought it was my head because I could feel the ceiling crash on my head.”}
    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/sengkang-lift-accident-ceiling-panels-that-fell-on-girl-likely-8930426
    The funny part is those PAP TCs kept underperforming regarding lift maintenance… everyone shld know they raised S&CCs in 2014 citing “increased spending on lift maintenance needed”.
    Yet look @ these PAP TCs; almost every single one had lift incidents.
    AMK GRC MP LHL even worse! That week he went on holiday, 2 lifts broke down & one little girl got hit on the head.
    Now what kinda TC mgmt is that & where’s the public investigation on how those $$ were really spent?
    If MM Lee is still around & this happens in an Opposition ward, he will likely ask CPIB to investigate if the MPs swallowed the funds!

  20. Roy Tan says:

    i wonder why TC need to do their own investment. cannot pool and give “proper” investment like gic, temasek? so not only estate manager, fund manager as well

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