PAP: Living in a world of disconnect?

Sense And Nonsense - by Tan Bah Bah

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The government tried to do a Sevilla-plus on their critics this week. Earlier this week, Sevilla came back from 0-3 down against Liverpool in their Champions League match at the end of the first half to score three goals in the second to equalise 3-3. Fantastic never-say-die performance.

PM Lee Hsien Loong attempted to outperform the Spanish team at the PAP convention last Sunday.  At least three down, courtesy of the malfunctioning MRT and its equally malfunctioning management teams – endless delays, Bishan flood and Joo Koon crash (grammar note: when a moving object smashes into a stationary object that act is defined as a crash and not a collision which involves two or more moving objects) – he framed commuter frustrations in a comforting big picture context.

He said: “We have a first-class transport system in Singapore…I was just reading an article which had a long table of the different cities and the reliability of the transport system. It went from New York, where 65 per cent of the trains are on time. All the way through other countries in the developed countries and the developing world, and the top cities in the world for reliability of their trains are four —Hong Kong, Taipei, Los Angeles and Singapore.  99 plus per cent on time.

…we must see our problems in perspective.”

And, should we go along with the narrative that we have one of the best mass rapid transit systems in the world, we are, of course, expected to endure further delays, shutdowns and shorter operation hours in celebration of that pantomime of disconnect.

Singaporeans have indeed put up with considerable inconvenience in the past, particularly when our roads were being dug up, with the attendant road diversions and traffic snarls, to develop the MRT.  We do remember the massive jams and bus reroutings. Some of the public works even spanned a decade or longer. Many babies had been born and have grown up to be teens by the time the works were completed. Examples: Paya Lebar/Sims Avenue/Geylang Road junction, Chinatown and Old Airport Road. They understand all that.

But, having made these necessary past sacrifices in expectation of a decent MRT system, they have been let down by a system which has been thoroughly compromised by incompetence, poor management decisions and a disappointing refusal by the top to accept responsibility.

Somehow, such reassurances about seeing “light at the end of the tunnel as delays will go away once the signaling upgraded is completed, perhaps in a year’s time” seem out of touch with reality and the ground reactions of suffering commuters right now. They are no more comforted by these as when Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told them in July that the MRT was “three times more reliable” than in 2015, conveniently excluding the delays in the North-South Line because of the signalling tests. And we know what happened after he made those remarks. Flood, crash, lightning, delays and shutdowns.

Perhaps satisfied that he has the full measure of Singaporeans’ ability to absorb self-punishment, PM Lee then went on to offer his “second half” vision for the rest of his government’s term. He plodded through well-trodden ground – our fabulous foreign relations, the economy and party-labour movement symbiosis, among others. In the midst of it all, he threw a grenade, almost quietly.

“Heng Swee Keat was right when he said raising taxes was not a matter of whether but when,” he said. Singapore has to raise taxes as government spending on investments and social services grows.

In his Budget statement earlier this year, Finance Minister Heng spoke of the need to raise taxes to match rising spending on healthcare and infrastructure.

Perhaps Heng is an admirer of US President Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in a 1789 letter that “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.

And with PM Lee’s announcement, the spectre of an increase in the GST looms very large.

Naturally.

As a contributor to the 2016 Budget, the GST was the second biggest – at $10.85 billion, compared to $13.45 billion for corporate income tax and $10.48 billion for personal income tax.

No details about any tax increase yet. But as discussion quickly and inevitably revolves around the wisdom or otherwise of raising the income tax of higher income earners, hiking the GST because it casts such a wide and relatively egalitarian net must be in the pipeline. Singapore’s GST is not among the highest in the First World.

But will taxpayers so easily agree that any increase is needed until and unless some big-sum items have been properly accounted for  –  like the two white elephants, the purely cosmetic, redundant and high-maintenance Gardens By The Bay and the possibly under-utilised Sports Hub?

The second half will be interesting. Are we going to witness a number of own goals in the making as the government acts on a stream of wrong feedback from an entrenched cabal of group-thinkers? Or are we so totally blind that we cannot see the brilliance of an underrated team? Are we?

Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.

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77 comments

  1. Ang Bob says:

    BREAKING NEWS ! WHY PAP NEED TO INCREASE TAXES AND PRICES ? TO FEED FOREIGNERS, BODOHS !

    SIA (TEMASEK HOLDINGS/ PAP) give Free Scholarships to INDIA NATIONALS with NO NATIONAL SERVICE attached. Our Singaporean Parents have to hold TWO JOBS to earn enough monies to pay for thier Children’s school fees and living allowances. Singaporean Sons have to waste 2 years in National Service to help these India Nationals’ be AHEAD of them in career so that they can be Supervisors and Managers to Singaporeans.

    QUOTE

    The SIA Youth Scholarship is tenable for 2 years of Pre-University studies in selected Singapore Junior Colleges leading to the award of the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education ‘Advanced’ (GCE ‘A’) Level (or equivalent) certificate.

    The Scholarship is for 2 years of Pre-University studies in selected Singapore Junior Colleges and is renewed annually, subject to the satisfactory performance of the scholar.

    ELIGIBILITY

    Students who meet the following criteria are invited to apply for the scholarship:

    •Nationals of India

    •Born between 1999 and 2001

    •Completed Standard 10 in the Year 2017

    •Possess outstanding academic track record (at least an average of 85% / minimum ‘A’ with English as first language in the Standard 10 State/National examinations)

    TERMS PROVIDED

    •Annual allowance of S$2,400 with hostel accommodation

    •Settling-in allowance of S$500 (once only)

    •Return economy class air passage

    •Coverage of school fees (excluding miscellaneous fees)

    •Coverage of GCE ‘A’ Level examination fees (once only)

    •Subsidised medical benefits and accident insurance cover

    https://www.moe.gov.sg/admissions/scholarships/sia

  2. Edwin Kwan says:

    I am a patriot and I love my country. I really hope not but I think the new generation of ministers lost the passion that LKY had. I think they cannot feel the pain citizens go through – whether jobs, MRT, etc. And they will cause PAP to lose its way. It is not about human rights or freedom of speech. But simply : IS THE GOVT, SCHOLARS, etc on the side of the people. This is how opposition ride to power in many countries. And this is why traditional parties in many countries do not last 3 generations.

  3. Edwin Kwan says:

    People do not vote based on what policies the government have. Because the PAP will ensure that Singapore works. People will vote based on whether you can relate to them, whether they think you feel for them, whether you are on their side. So, and I know the government agencies go through all social media to analyse, dissect, etc issues. Let me really caution you how pissed people are right now. All the CCS, the HSK, the LW, etc are out of touch with the people !

  4. Facebook Profile photo
    rlsh2017 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Correcto!. PAP disconnect themselves from the people by hiding from the people they are having a ball of their time after LKY & leaving a vacumm in the reserves. Got to kick all these White Termites asses out in the next GE or they’ll hang all to dry up.

  5. Let us not forget in the next GE. LKY is gone and so has his legacy. Don’t ever believe that the shit that life under LKY will remain the same. It is gone. Now we need a new beginning. Not from these cronies who are just sucking up and enriching themselves from the spoils for days gone by. We Singapore are the ones who will suffer under the hands of mismanagement of the country, the system and everything.

  6. Singaporeans pay for the most expensive car in the world!
    Where did the from COE and ERP go to?
    Increase taxes to compensate for the maintenance of MRT station, new trains and new buses?
    Such increase in taxes cannot be justified when our government already collected COE and ERP!!!
    Water fee had already increased by 30%
    ⚡☔Singaporeans pay for the most expensive ministers in the world who only know how to make profits by raising taxes, very different from our old guards Dr Goh Keng Swee, Dr Toh chin Chye , Rajaratnam, etc
    ☔When the relative humidity reaches its saturated point, we will see rainy days
    Where is the promise by PM LEE to top up our skillsfuture fund ???
    Time for all the ministers and president to cut their pay by 50% instead of increasing GST TAX

  7. Edwin Kwan says:

    Why can’t the PAP and the ministers acknowledge their VULNERABILITIES and say SORRY to the people. There is UNEQUIVOCAL facts that the government, the scholars and Temasek busted the MRT and caused SHAME to its people, who were so proud of the country. I cannot recall even during LKY or GCT time that we had such a BIG BOOBOO. We keep on saying we had TOP this and that. What about SHIT this and that ? Because if you don’t, you are setting the party on a slippery road downhill. They say you can’t get pass three generations, and this is the generation of the scholars who fear they had a lot to loose.

  8. what talking u. LTA is also part of the team in this so Call mrt project to. why blame other when government is Also doing nothing and sit down and get super high pay

    now all only know how to play the pushing game no me is him come on SG TIME TO WAKE UP TO SEE DID PAP REALLY HELP TO BUILD OR MAKE MED OR LOW INCOME PEOPLE LIFE BETTER??? ALL PEOPLE UPTHERE LIVE LIFE SO COMFORTABLE AND WE NEED TO THING ARE WE GETTING PAY TOMORROW

    DEAR GOVERNMENT WE TRUST YOU THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT US BACK

  9. The truth fact is that all the dumdum leaders need to transplant their brain to a working OS.

    Which they swear what they had promise to the people of Majullah Singapura. Good leader works for the people, Bad leader get booted out if they can’t perform, period?

    Gamen need the support of the people. People don’t need the Gamen if they can’t do the job, leader can be change, but the people can’t be change cos the power of the people that give the ultimate mandate.

    Remember, it’s our money that pay your salary, gamen serve the people not the other way round. Change or you be change. Stop the BS, this is a democratic country not your God damn cuntry.

    Wake Up 70%, stop being a slave to “Fear”, you still get the boots up your Arse. Nobody cares if you lose your job, no one cares you have a bowl of rice, no one care if you die alone in your cardboard home. You are just another carcass to be cast aside.

    If our country is hijack by highly paid incompetent greedy arsehole.Then its democratically the people rights to replace a more humane leader who is capable to perform what he has been paid to do the job that he or she swear to protect, serve, and work for the people.

    Just like our late Singapore father LKY, wish he is back to kick all those stupid idiot dummies who can’t work but only lips service without any actual work that is done. The only goodness is Siam “Taichi”, eat snake & pho & pho lampah with our hard earn money. May they rot in the seven level of hell with their wealth and hypocrisy.
    VTO!

  10. Low Jasper says:

    If people think only existing one single party and only this party can lead Singapore, you must prepare and willingly to pay and pay more cause you all have sent wrong signal to the party that you all will support whatever they do

    Late LKY laid a strong foundation for us. Meaning a change of party, Singapore can still move on as other countries leaders will respect us. Now some countries citizens living in Singapore, mostly do not respect us cause our government said repeatly we cannot survive without them.

    No leader is a perfect. I personally think late LKY had done a good job. Only mistake he made and maybe regret was handing leadership to his appointed Son who now on bad term with his another Son and daughter and one of his grandson fear for his freedom or life by his appointed Son

  11. Dilys Tan says:

    Complacent jokers are always assumed everything are in order and gain as much credits as possible even though the systems were not set up by them, it’s called thick skinned & shameless. And when problems occurred, they are so fearful but started to get frustrated instead cos the system or maintenance were not set up by them, so why should they take the blame? They are coward, useless & pathetic cry babies.

    1. Scope Guy says:

      Nay… it is just blind and lost-control party politics.

      If Harry were to be around, those fuckers who claimed to ‘know’ LKY politics ot ways will be slammed into mud by me.

      Crazy bastards…

      U even have idiots assuming Japan will support RCEP… .. Hehehehehe~

      Kinda hopeless…

  12. David Lim says:

    Even when that imported apnn trash labelled us commuters as TERRORISTS , still nothing happened to her ! So wat do u expect from this pro-ft party ? 70% u really deserved it.

  13. David Yeo says:

    They are a sad, sad case. So many blind spots and they don’t know it. Still think they are like the founding ministers. The incumbent is a far cry from the caliber of Philip Yeo, Dahnabalan…. I’m not even mentioning Rajaratnam, Goh Keng Swee, Othman Wok and countless others. Compared to their predecessors, the incumbent do bad economics and bad investments and bad mrt

    1. Scope Guy says:

      New PAP really bad news. And I… I have to deal with the lousy worms who think they are so good to judge. Hehehehehe~

      Just too bad… …

      Soon enough, all will be toasted into nothingness.

      Enjoy, sinkies.

      Without me clobbering MOE and MOM and without me as PM as so nagged will have worse consequences.

  14. When someone cannot acknowledges the faults and cracks in this society, he will not be able make correct policies and take necessary actions to improve this society.

    When one is paid too much, his mind will be thinking about ways to enrich his lifestyle, he would not be able comprehend the sufferings of others.

    1. Scope Guy says:

      Super seven… …

      Soon, another super seven of horror. Who will take responsibility when it is just 荣华富贵……

      亡国都不计,如此奈何。

  15. At next GE, if they win again, they will say the people had given them the mandate to increase taxes, select the president for us, let in more foreigners to help locals to find jobs.

    1. Scope Guy says:

      U dun want PAP to win, but is the oppo folks any different?

      Sinkies…

      国难当头还在玩党派政治。

      执政党反对派都一样……

      加自以为是的一大群神经病……嘿嘿~

  16. Martin Lee says:

    Pap supporters are the ones living in a world of disconnect thinking the gov so good when they are not they don’t realize they are letting the gov control their minds and lives without question what a joke this nation is

  17. I cannot accept to rise tax just saying maintaining garden the bay ? How many Singaporean going in to visit? Road we pay road tax and ERP and COE other we pay GST, MRT not free ride all station seating on land which free ?

    1. Scope Guy says:

      They see the facts… but they are just 星宿派.

      This is now a Singapore which is going for the end.

      树小枝叶茂盛尚能茁壮成长……

      如今寄生虫吸食做大已成文化,太平官成长辈……

      大乱也。

  18. Dylan Tang says:

    I really can’t understand PAP. We gave them free hands on our country. We let them parachute their own chosen people into Parliament, sue the opposition indiscriminately despite of their own glaring shortcoming, let them have free reign of the country’s finance, let them have free reign on our constitution and justice.

    When things goes wrong, it is always others are at fault. Other are too inadequate. People are not co-operative enough to their system. People like to complain. Etc etc…

    1. The NY system was built in 1904. Even then it’s not the oldest, that distinction goes to ‘The London Underground first opened as an “underground railway” in 1863 and its first electrified underground line opened in 1890,[2] making it the world’s first metro system.’ (from wikipedia)

  19. The 1st generation of ministers were objective. They had guts to make the hard decisions. 2nd generation was at the edge of the cliff. 3rd generation just feel of the edge of the planet if it was flat. They still don’t get why we’re frustrated. I don’t take public transport but I’m ashamed with it. We used to be identified as doing the best and being the best. Now anything that is inconvenient, they just sweep.it under the carpet. I hope that the next PM as balls if not, we’ll be in big trouble.

  20. Facebook Profile photo
    Tan Hua ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    PM Lee: “…we must see our problems in perspective.” He is right. The problem is – I believe the sum of the salaries of the transport ministers in Hong Kong, Taipei, Los Angeles is still less than our transport minister’s. And to think our govt consistently reminds us of the importance of productivity (and if I may include, efficiency).

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