Kenneth Jeyaretnam & the USD $4-Billion Appeal

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013, proved to be a not-so-good day for Reform Party chief, Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

KJ

After he filed for an appeal for a judicial review in July last year to try to quash the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) decision from granting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a US$4-billion (SGD $5-billion) loan, the outcome was not in his favour. The Court of Appeal dismissed Jeyaretnam’s appeal on grounds that ‘a citizen is not always entitled to go to court to seek intervention whenever it’s alleged that a public body had acted beyond its given powers.’

In short, Jeyaretnam is allowed to file for an appeal provided a public duty must, first of all, be breached.  Otherwise he has no ground to file for such challenges.

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While this case has reached an impasse, it highlights the issue of public accountability and transparency.

First and foremost, the money comes from the people’s pockets. In a democracy, the people have the right to know where their monies are going to and how it is being spent, and vice-versa, the state is obliged to answer to its people.

Now, let’s take a hard look at what might possibly happen – if the money went out. In the event of yet another unprecedented economic downturn, Singaporean citizens who are taking home a paltry pay will struggle to get by. Coupled with a perpetually rising cost of living and higher taxes to pay, the poor will, once again, sink deeper into poverty.

This brings to point two important questions: Should Singapore make the guarantee and should it do so without going through Parliament or the President? I’m sure many Singaporeans would, in time to come, ask the same questions as this concerns not only our monies, but public accountability and transparency.

Needless to say, I’m of the opinion that the state and the President does not make the guarantee. US $4-billion is a hefty sum which, I believe, can be put to better use to help our citizens and grow our economy.

Wouldn’t it be better if this amount of money could be put to better use, say, to grow our Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)? And wouldn’t it be great if this US $4-billion could go towards creating more sustainable jobs for Singaporeans from all walks of life?

Whatever the case is, allow me to reiterate my words: Singapore and her President should not make the guarantee and if it does, they must, like most cosmopolitan countries, consult the people first.

Besides, by granting IMF that hefty amount of money, are we indirectly endorsing Europe and the Western world’s extravagant spending habits?

While it’s always good to lend others a helping hand during challenging times, it’s also wise to consider our people’s interest.

And hey; shouldn’t we also be thankful to Jeyaratnam for raising the alarm, educating the people, and standing up for us, even though everything he did came to a standstill?