Monday, 7 September 2015

General Election 2015: Why the Opposition Still Isn’t Good Enough For My Vote


Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not pro-PAP, neither am I anti-opposition. In fact, I will readily welcome a dissenting voice in Parliament if the voice is credible and qualified enough to speak up.

I’ve been tuning in to what the opposition parties has to say during this year’s GE2015 rallies, but what I’ve heard has been disappointing, to say the least. Most of the opposition candidates are quick to point out the problems Singaporeans face today and criticize the PAP’s current policies, but few of them actually give good ideas on HOW to resolve our issues.

I already have an opinion on Singapore’s policies, I don’t need to vote someone into Parliament just so they can complain on my behalf. Complaining is for the weak. What I need is someone qualified who can engage in intelligent, thoughtful debate with our MPs and give good ideas for change.


Unfortunately, none of the opposition parties have convinced me they are capable of doing that so far. In fact, judging by some of the ideas they’re proposing, I can’t help but smack my head at their brilliance.

I’ve tried to sum up and comment on some of the major policy changes that the opposition teams are pushing for, but have left out a few that I personally find insignificant. If you think I should be adding anything to this list, please let me know by leaving a comment below!

MINIMUM WAGE (RP, WP, SDP, SPP)


The first thing you should know about minimum wage is that it is hardly ever effective in the long run. Look at Hong Kong, who is quite similar to us, and how their minimum wage policy has done little for the poor ever since it was implemented 5 years ago.

Any 17-year-old economics student can tell you that enforcing a minimum wage is a bad idea as this deliberate intervention will affect the free market forces of demand and supply. When wages rise, demand for labour falls. Let’s presume I own a business, and the government now tells me I have to fork out an extra 20% to raise my employees’ wages. Unless my sales goes up by 20% accordingly, I will be making a loss. In this case, I will either outsource to countries with cheaper labour (like Malaysia, India or the Philippines) or invest in technology to automate my manual processes and reduce my reliance on labour.

In my previous job, I used to work with companies who were shifting their business functions to these very same countries in the form of shared services centres. This means that there will be lesser jobs for Singaporeans. You may think it won’t happen, but the reality has already started. Even our local darling telco Singtel has shifted their call centres to Philippines, and I don’t know how many jobs that cost our locals.

The next scenario that will also happen, after a minimum wage has been introduced, is that there will be more calls for its increase year after year. Just look at how the minimum wage was raised to $15 in America, and study the effects this had across its various states. The majority of states did not benefit. You’re telling me I should pay $15 for someone to flip my burgers at Burger King? Thanks but no thanks.



There will be no end to minimum wage. Frankly speaking, if you have issues with how much your employer is paying you, then quit! My first employer refused to pay me fairly after I brought in over $300,000 of new client deals for them within less than a year of my joining, so I resigned and joined a better firm who saw and paid me for what I was worth. If your talent is truly worth the price, there will be someone out there who will compensate you for it. Or, you could just set up your own business and be your own boss. The government has been giving up a ton of subsidies, like the PIC grants, to help people set up their own businesses here in Singapore. Like how it helped the CEO of controversial StreetDeal to set up his e-commerce site to charge consumers $88 in membership fees each month! 


Here's what KNN, with over 80,000 followers, has to say about them:


Likewise, the PIC grant also helped my partner and I to set up Blended, an organic facial skincare line.



REDUCE THE COST OF LIVING (SPP, WP)


Continuing from the problems of minimum wage, the next recourse for employers who have to deal with the increased salaries is to raise the prices of their goods and services, in order to pass these costs on to consumers. When the price of your hawker food or necessities go up, are you going to complain again? By then, don’t forget that you were the one who asked for the minimum wage in the first place.  

Furthermore, compared to Hong Kong, the other Asian country most similar to us, our cost of living is honestly not that high as you might think. I just came back from a trip to Hong Kong recently, and I realized that folks there pay much more in rent, food and transport than we do. In fact, I barely did anything “touristy” while I was there, but spent S$500 within a week on just food and transport, despite my attempts to be frugal and avoiding all fancy restaurants or drinks.

I’m glad that I live in Singapore, where we have access to $4 hawker meals and $600 rented rooms.

FAIR EMPLOYMENT (NSP, SingFirst, SPP, SDA) and
REDUCE THE INFLUX OF FOREIGN TALENT (NSP, SingFirst, SPP)


While I really like the idea of “Singaporeans first”, I can’t help but wonder if these sentiments reflect the hiring difficulties that employers face.

When my dad was hospitalized earlier this year, I noticed that many of the nurses were foreign workers. While working with a cleaning company a few months ago whose cleaners keep our corporate offices in tip-top condition, they shared that many of their employees are from Malaysia, because the locals are too hard to hire as they expect too much pay and benefits for too little work.

Here’s what another employer, Lee Kuok Ming, has to say:
"I must protest that what Mr Chee is saying is blatantly untrue.I am sure that there isanecdotal evidence of foreigners replacing locals, but as a business owner of an SME, I will tell you that it is extremely difficult to attract Singaporeans. I have an ad out for weeks for a Project Manager, and I have had 0 applications from Singaporeans. Just applications from foreigners. It is the same for every position I hire. I try my best to hire Singaporeans, but sometimes there just isn't enough of us.If the government tightens the foreign labour supply even more, I will only have one choice. Move my operations to other countries that my company operates in. I have a choice of Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China. I will then have to close my Singapore office and put all my Singapore staff out of work. That is what Mr Chee is suggesting that the government make me do.I wil not do it, because I am Singaporean."

If we reduce the number of foreign workers, who is going to take over these jobs? Singaporeans? Don’t forget that our graduates already expect to be paid $4,000 for their first job without any prior working experience! (And no, your internship doesn’t count).



GROW SMEs (SingFirst, SPP, WP)


Many SMEs also rely on foreign workers, especially for those who may struggle to pay good wages in the early start of their businesses. Following the policy of cutting down on foreign workers and setting a minimum wage, how will all these SMEs cope, much less grow?

RETURN OUR CPF (RP, WP, NSP, SPP, SDA)


The SDA’s proposal of leaving the principal sum of monies in our CPF account untouched – such that we cannot use it for other purposes including education and property purchases – is just about the smartest idea I’ve come across from the opposition. Ask anyone who has ever bought a house in Singapore and most of them will tell you that without their CPF, they won’t be able to buy even the cheapest HDB flat. Or how about the thousands of students who were only able to pay their university fees because they used their parents’ CPF?

More than one opposition party is calling for the return of our CPF sum at 55, some saying that the government should even return us the entire lump sum once the time comes. However, I can already imagine what will happen if this policy is to come into place. Singaporeans who are financially imprudent (and mind you, there are A LOT) are going to spend their nest egg and then start throwing sticks at the government again, asking for help once their money runs out. Who suffers then? In order for the government fund that kind of social support, everyone else has to be taxed even more. Why should we pay for the stupid mistakes of financially imprudent people?


And yet, the government can’t turn their back on these people when the time comes, even if it really is the individual’s own stupid mistakes in squandering all his / her retirement monies.

If the next government should be so smart as to implement this, please make sure you make it COMPULSORY for everyone to sign a form saying that if they are to run out of their retirement sum upon withdrawing it, they agree to forgo their right to ask for any kind of help or support later on.

WELFARE AND SOCIAL PENSIONS (RP, SDP, SingFirst, SPP)



The easiest way to get the elderly to vote for you? Promise them higher welfare and social pensions! Also, you can also win more sympathy votes from the other age groups who feel a social obligation to take care of the older folks.

Easy to say, harder to do.

Like what DPM Tharman has rightfully pointed out, be prepared to pay higher taxes if you want this to happen. Otherwise, where will all that money come from?


Some people say we can cut our ministers’ salaries. While it is true that our ministers are among the highest-paid public servants in the world, it is also true that Singapore has a world-class political government that has kept us in good stead and turned us into a First World country within the shortest period of time ever in history. We hardly have to worry about corruption either, if you look at the case of our neighbour Malaysia. Furthermore, if I’m as intelligent, eloquent and capable as DPM Tharman, and there is another job paying me millions to be the Managing Director of a MNC whereas my pay as a minister is going to be much lesser, which do you think I will rather join? Don’t forget that the moment George Yeo was voted out of Aljunied, he was snapped up by the private sector immediately.

If anyone thinks a minister is not worth what he’s being paid, then yes, let us welcome debate on cutting that minister’s salary. But simply to talk of reducing MP’s salaries across the board? Don’t forget, you pay for the kind of leaders you get.

PUBLIC HOUSING (WP, SPP, NSP)

Yes, our houses are not the cheapest in Asia. But hey, you’re always welcome to buy another estate overseas if you think that’s cheaper! Rent a room in Singapore instead, they're not THAT expensive, compared to some other first-world countries. I know my friends in Australia and Hong Kong pay way more for rent than we do here in Singapore. No one is stopping you.

There has been plenty of policies and subsidies recently introduced to help Singaporeans cope with the prices of public housing. FYI, people in Hong Kong pay a lot more for their properties (which happen to be much smaller than ours too). I do worry about whether I have enough money to buy my first HDB flat in a few years, but I’m also practical enough to understand that there is a price we have to pay for land in Singapore, given how scarce it is.

SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH, PLEASE

As a GP and English tutor, I cannot help but cringe at the standard of English among some of the opposition’s candidates. (I’m looking at you, NSP).

We will do well to remember that the people we vote into government will not only be responsible for looking after Singapore’s internal matters, but also represent us on the world stage at international forums and diplomacy talks.


Given the current state of opposition candidates, I’m not sure how many can represent us well internationally. Can they debate as eloquently and engage in intelligent talk with world leaders, like how DPM Tharman did during his St. Gallen’s interview earlier this year?

SHOULD A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IMPLEMENT POPULAR OR UNPOPULAR POLICIES?

This is an argument that keeps coming up in my GP tutoring sessions every year. The biggest problem with a democratic system is that the people get to vote for their government, but people may not always vote for the right leaders, especially if they do not make well-informed voting decisions. The easiest way to stay in government, or be elected, is to talk about popular policies that will make the people happy. After all, democracy is just like a popularity contest, isn’t it?

But not all popular policies are necessarily correct.

The counter to this argument, is that “the majority is often right” (another classic GP essay question). But again, not necessarily so. For years, the majority of people believed that the Earth was flat…until we found out it wasn’t.

Many policies take time to mature. It can take years before any results can be seen. They can also be painful policies that not everyone will agree with. Breaking up the racial housing divides and implementing a compulsory racial housing ratio in HDBs was not a popular policy back then, and many Singaporeans slammed Lee Kuan Yew for it. But on hindsight, we realize this policy was actually one of the key reasons how Singapore achieved our peaceful and multi-racial society while other countries continue to struggle with it. I bet that if you were living in those times, you too, would have been angry with the PAP for making you leave your fellow Chinese / Malay / Indian community and neighbours to integrate with the other races, especially during a period of time when suspicion and distrust between the races were high. If you had voted against the PAP then and they had lost, leaving another political party to implement the policies that make you happy, what will Singapore be like now?

One of the key reasons why Singapore was able to develop so quickly was because thanks to LKY's iron-fisted control, the PAP never had to worry about being voted out of government even if they were to implement the unpopular (but right) policies for Singaporeans. However, that is no longer true today.

READ EACH PARTY'S MANIFESTO BEFORE YOU VOTE

I highly encourage each of you to read each party's manifesto in order to get a better idea of the kind of quality you will be voting for. If, after reading, you still think that WP's manifesto is better than the PAP, go ahead and cast your vote. At least that is an informed vote of judgment.

I only fear for those who will be voting based on superficial reasoning or tunnel vision, before they've properly considered the full implications and long-term effects. 

RP's manifesto


I've read through the different parties manifestos (NSP, why does yours look like a PowerPoint slide that even my primary school kid can create? Also, unfortunately only the WP, SDP and RP has bothered to properly craft their manifestos. The rest were either difficult to find or read, or even non-existent) and after weighing the different arguments, my vote will be going to the PAP.

So consider carefully, my fellow Singaporeans, before you vote this coming Friday.

I do think that out of all the opposition parties, WP is probably the most well-organized party in terms of providing a clear outlook of the proposals they seek to implement, rather than just highlighting the problems Singapore currently faces. However, many of their proposed policies are still debatable, and there are many that I disagree with. Thus, there is still a long way for WP (and the rest of the parties) to go before they can convince me to give them my vote.

Thanks for the reminder, yes, I will vote for a brighter tomorrow by voting PAP.

32 comments:

  1. I think that food and transport costs in HK is cheaper but now it could seem more expensive than before due to the depreciating SGD against the appreciating HKD ( as it is pegged to the rising USD).

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    1. You're right on the appreciating HKD, although I think even if we were to look back 5 years ago, where 1 SGD = over 6 HKD, the food and transport there would still be expensive. An average meal cost me HKD 30 - 55 while I was there, that's still SGD 5 - 9 per meal discounting drinks. HK has character and tons of good food to visit, but I still prefer Singapore :)

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    2. I beg to differ. I lived there for 2.5 years, and both food and transport are more expensive than Singapore. Transport is based on where you get on relative to the end stop, so even if you take 1 bus stop, you pay the full fare, whereas in Singapore you are charged by your distance. Food, in cha chan teng, an average dinner set will cost S$10-16....even if you minus the drinks, it'll cost about HKD40 - 60 per main dish.

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  2. Thank you for the well crafted summary. Much as i loathe to admit it, most of the opposition candidates are sorely lacking in substance but some are pretty astounding (Paul Tambayah, Leon Peirera to name a few). In the end, although i am annoyed with some of the short sighted policies of the incumbent govt, they have done a good job. Lets see how it all pans out Friday

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    1. I do agree with some of the points Leon Peirera raised in his rally, but not all. If a good opposition candidate should surface and prove himself better than the PAP contesting candidate, I'd say yes, let's vote for him.

      Unfortunately this isn't the case right now, most certainly not in my ward where calls for minimum wage, elderly social payouts and CPF are high on the opposition's war cry, without any mention of the possible consequences or costs that will be incurred.

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  3. Only losers and behkan people vote for oppies!

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  4. Well said article.. I agree with all the points as a neutral party. A lot of Opps are pinpointing issues instead of resolving them. I guess many of them only thought of the next 5 years instead of the next 50 years ahead. It's a big difference to whether we can achieve our SG100. May the best party wins!! Vote not to oppose but to support, that's the bottomline. ;)

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    1. That's a very good line - vote not to oppose, but to support.

      I hope people vote for the candidates / party they think deserve it, and not mindlessly vote for the opposition party just for the sake of change. In my ward, my choice is easy because the opposition party here simply doesn't make sense to me in terms of their policies. Since I disagree with their policies, and I like some of the PAP's version of policies compared to theirs instead, the decision is an easy one to make.

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  5. I barely did anything “touristy” while I was there, but spent S$500 within a week on just food and transport, despite my attempts to be frugal and avoiding all fancy restaurants or drinks.???

    Eat gold in HK??? I go hong kong 11 days in July 2015, only spent like 200 SGD on food and transport.


    And PIC grant not easy to apply.

    Min wages for those cleaner and disk washer to at least 1200, not what nonsense you talking 15 per hour or something.

    Whole article simply pro-pap, dont talk nonsense.

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    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your skepticism.

      1. On HK, I was there for business, so I did not have a lot of time to plan and travel to get the cheapest food all the time, especially during lunch hour. On average, my meals were HKD 35 - 50 from normal canteens and NOT fancy restaurants. When I was craving roast geese, I didn't even go to Yung Kee because that's an expensive place. I went to a smaller local store instead, where it was a drastic price drop to HKD 50.

      So I'm not sure why you think I ate "gold" in HK. Since you were able to spend only SGD 200 for 11 days on BOTH food and transport, pray do share on where you ate, the price for each meal, so that we as readers can learn from your experience. I certainly wouldn't mind learning how to reduce my expenses in HK so that the next time I make a trip there, I will know how to cut down more.

      2. On what basis do you claim that the PIC grant is not easy to apply? I know of quite a few businesses who have managed to get the PIC grant, including my own business. Thus, my basis for saying that is on a personal level. Are you referring to your own personal experience in being rejecting for the PIC grant, thus you claim it is "not easy", or are you just generalizing?

      3. I did not state that minimum wage is $15. If you read carefully, you would have noted that I'm referring to the protests in the US where workers are calling for a minimum of $15 per hour. This includes fast food restaurant employees. Please read carefully and do not jump to conclusions.

      If you wish to judge my article as pro-PAP, that is your own personal choice, but please do not impose your judgment on others as well. I've clearly stated that if a worthy opposition candidate were to appear and speak of policies that I actually agree with, then I will not hesitate to vote for them. As you can see from this article, their policies are not what I agree with, so it's obvious that my vote will not go to them. Whlie there are some PAP issues I also disagree with, I did not go into detail in this post as it is meant to be an analysis of the opposition's policies.

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    2. I worked in HK for nearly five years, so I can vouch that it is not cheap to eat out. On average, HK$25 (S$4.60) is about the cheapest one-dish meal you can find, and any cheaper may not be as nutritious or tasty, and no one would want to eat the same HK$25 cha chaan ting dish for every meal.

      Buses, trains and ferries maybe cheaper than SG's, but don't forget HK's housing is so much more expensive. A reasonable size studio is about 356 sf and costs between HK$7-12k from Central to New Territories. Of course, you can find cheaper, but the flat will be even smaller size and the neighborhood will be dodgy. I have stayed in a fully equipped studio with an area of 279 sf, including a balcony -- cost me nearly HK$9k per month. All in all, including food, transport, housing, utilities, and taxes (2 years worth of taxes at once), I paid about HK$18K (S$3.3K) per month; I stayed at home most of my free time and took taxi sometimes. I couldn't take the pressure and finally gave up and moved elsewhere because I couldn't save much, had no CPF and couldn't tolerate the small living space.

      And btw, HK's version of CPF is MPF, which is maximum of HK$1K from employee and employer each per month (total HK$2K or S$365), and as a PR/citizen, that MPF can never be taken out until age 65, not even for education, healthcare or housing. MPF is controversial in HK, and most HKers just regard it as money down a black hole, while I've heard of stories about elderly men who did withdraw their money and spent it all in Shenzhen/China and didn't even have any money left to return to HK.

      Oh, and don't forget, salaries in HK and TW (where I moved to later) are much lower compared to SG. In HK, a monthly salary of between HK$25K-30K for marketing/comms job with about 7-10 years experience is considered high, from the perspective of an average HKer (many have Masters btw).

      In Taipei, a salary of around NT$80K (S$3.5K) is considered very high for an IT/engineering job. Across the board, housing, food and all other expenses are cheaper by about 1/4. No CPF for foreigners, although healthcare is cheap--NT$1500 per month for labor insurance and healthcare. Citizens/companies contribute to pension fund I think, but the pension isn't much if I remember correctly. And TW's taxes are not low. Monthly minimum wage is NT$20,008, and most jobs are paid that amount or a few thousands higher, as TW companies are very stingy. There'll be minimal increment of few thousand NT$ with more experience. That's why many Taiwanese are slackers on the job and efficiency is low. Most young people prefer to start their own businesses than work for corporates.

      You decide for yourself if SG is that bad. I eventually came back to SG because I could save more money here, housing more affordable, and things actually work.

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    3. Thanks for sharing Lynn! This is very enlightening indeed, and I hope others take note.

      I was not aware of MPF to that knowledge, nor TW's salary and companies' view towards employee wages. Appreciate your little educational lecture!

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  6. Sometimes it's not about the real benefit of a minimum wage, but the recipient's perception of its benefit. A minimum wage scheme works like a "placebo" that improves a worker's condition simply because the person has the expectation/confidence that it will be helpful.

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    1. Hi Ronnie,

      That's an interesting way of putting it. However, while you may be right, I would think that in Singapore's case, such a placebo may actually backfire. But that is just my personal view.

      Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, there's already been a $1000 wage in place since 2014 for some of the lower-income workers.

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  7. something for you to consider:
    why are all parties except PAP under "opposition" parties?
    this perhaps set up a fundamental mindset that is why politically it is difficult to change the government with the action of vote.

    it seems if PAP is government, then one is either with or against it. however, if one could see that the pool of different parties are all equally potential government parties then the idea of with or against will be dilute. And what we are voting for will be the policy each parties have to offer.
    as of now, many so-called opposition parties policy could only be a proposal to be voice in the parliament, as the people making decision will mostly likely be the self-claim government. so how much could that change Singapore?

    this time round, it seems perhaps its either vote for or against the so-called government. what about vote for a policy change.

    history might have made a party the government, but we no longer live in history and no party is ever a government, unless it is selected by the people.

    there are capable candidates in most of the parties. but too many candidates of "yes, man" or "I just want to reform". but with the grc system, we are not able to vote out those people. cos it is the whole team, and most of the time they are really not good, except for 1 or 2.

    what will be an ideal parliament? a monopoly of one man decision and "yes-man" of the rest? or a group of people working things out, giving the voice of people to decide the "best" policy for the country?

    to scale this down a little, if you are working in a company, would you prefer to be in a company that you could only follow what your manager tells you to do, and even if you have an alternative views which might works better, you are not allow to provide, cos alternative views are consider oppositional views?

    opposition is not to oppose or to go against, but in actual fact, it is provide an alternative perspective that might have been overlooked to be consider. a good leader don't just speaks and dictates. a good leader listens too, isn't it?

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    1. Hi,

      Indeed. My personal view is that worthy opposition candidates like Paul Tambyah and Leon Pereira ought to deserve a chance to be voted into Parliament, however, it is unfortunate that our voting mechanisms works in favour of a group rather than sole candidates. That is not something I can change.

      I did not invent the umbrella of "opposition". This has been in effect since the beginning of Singapore's political history. I am merely using an umbrella term that everyone else is using, for easy writing. Otherwise, naming all of the parties individually each time I wish to refer to the opposition is going to take me longer hours to finish an article!

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    2. yup, understand that in regards to the "opposition" umbrella. Just a food for thought to share. (generalizing this) opposition is such a misleading and negative choice of words. it will be interesting to go uncover the history of it.

      anyway, I do hope people can look past the idea of "ruling" party and "opposition" parties. We need capable people in the parliament, not just a party in it. Idea of racial harmony is to embrace the diverse perspective of culture and values, but reflecting on what is happening, we have failed quite terribly. hopefully the country will heal in that aspects after friday and continue to work together (and not divided) to bring the nation as Singapore to the next phase.

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    3. Hi Unknown,

      Actually, I'm contemplating sharing my thoughts on the PAP's side as well, in order to make it a more balanced perspective.

      For one, I do think that the electoral structure should be relooked at. It's sad to see worthy opposition candidates not get a place in Parliament just because the votes were counted as entire terms, rather than individuals alone.

      In that same vein, there are many who argue that there are certain PAP ministers whom may or may not be as good. The debate is still ongoing.

      Will things change for GE 2020? Let's wait and see.

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    4. On this note, we should have an "open-source" (OS) political system, which allows every citizen to use "civic apps" to get informed, debate and vote on every single bill presented in parliament. We now live in an era where the online social network has changed the way we work, communicate and relate with each other. Yet our political system hasn't been "upgraded" with the times; citizens only get to vote once every 4-5 years. It seems like deciding to eat the same meal every day for 4-5 years without complaint.

      Many things in the marketplace have become democratized, such as the booking of taxis (Uber) and the renting of travel lodging (AirBnB). With our "Smart Nation" framework/infrastructure, Singapore's political system can, and should be democratized too.

      Once we have an OS political system, Singaporeans would no longer need to expect politicians to be gods or superheroes. We won't need to pay our ministers million-dollar salaries that cause envy and resentment; Members of Parliament only need to be qualified enough to receive and act on the feedback of their constituents.

      A civic OS system will disrupt Singapore's political landscape and force the ruling party to rethink their current mode of governance. By democratizing the decision of policies, the PAP may then truly be the "People's Action" party.

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    5. Dear Ronnie

      Looking at the situation now (I am again generalizing this), Singaporeans in general are politically uninformed. In general, many of us don't care, but only know how to complain. And our voice get louder each time when GE comes, but when GE is gone, most people started going back to what they do. Our media is controlled, and so we only get to see on view of what is happening. Social media is an alternative, but too often, social media are kind of crap with so many emo posting, which is no healthy too.

      Also don't forget about IR, public opinions are sought, but LHL still decide to continue the IR project despite citizens saying NO.

      I personally feel that the system has created a non-listening leaders. And when one reach a certain age doing the same thing over and over again without showing a mean to reflect or change, no matter what system we apply, it will not work, until the people in the system change. It is a chicken and egg thing.

      I think this is a good time for culture reflection, not just a political reflection too,

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    6. Ronnie,
      I think that system is a interesting concept that will probably never happen. Not because I am against it (hell, that system would truly be the epitome of democracy!), but because
      1. Putting decisions in the hands of the majority would -- in my opinion -- mean putting one foot into the doorway of chaos. When you give everyone the power to decide almost everything, what's to stop people with financial clout from buying power by paying for votes? All they have to do is to pay a certain amount of money to the masses to queue up in front of them, vote as decreed, show proof of vote and collect the bonus. When that happens, democracy is only going to belong to the rich and we all know how that is going to end up.
      2. An external, neutral party is going to have to audit the app to make sure that all votes were submitted legitimately. As with all things electronic, apps can be hacked and "votes" added or subtracted without leaving any trace. Implausible? Take the example of "Anonymous". Using an app to decide our fates would be akin to giving them the keys to our lives.
      3. Literacy. Imagine teaching our aging population -- many of whim are still coming to gripes with smartphones -- how to use the app. Many are just gonna not vote cause they just can't figure out how.

      That said, if somehow this could be implemented, that system would really revolutionise democracy, not just in Singapore, but all over the world.

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    7. Ronnie,
      I think that system is a interesting concept that will probably never happen. Not because I am against it (hell, that system would truly be the epitome of democracy!), but because
      1. Putting decisions in the hands of the majority would -- in my opinion -- mean putting one foot into the doorway of chaos. When you give everyone the power to decide almost everything, what's to stop people with financial clout from buying power by paying for votes? All they have to do is to pay a certain amount of money to the masses to queue up in front of them, vote as decreed, show proof of vote and collect the bonus. When that happens, democracy is only going to belong to the rich and we all know how that is going to end up.
      2. An external, neutral party is going to have to audit the app to make sure that all votes were submitted legitimately. As with all things electronic, apps can be hacked and "votes" added or subtracted without leaving any trace. Implausible? Take the example of "Anonymous". Using an app to decide our fates would be akin to giving them the keys to our lives.
      3. Literacy. Imagine teaching our aging population -- many of whim are still coming to gripes with smartphones -- how to use the app. Many are just gonna not vote cause they just can't figure out how.

      That said, if somehow this could be implemented, that system would really revolutionise democracy, not just in Singapore, but all over the world.

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  8. Hi Budget Babe, can I share this entire post in text form on FB? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Lynn,

      Sure, go ahead. Otherwise, you can also share the blog post link, where readers can be directed here and read the comments for a more balanced view as well :)

      Warm regards,
      BB

      Delete
  9. Speaking about the minimum wage from a US context, I think Jon Stewart said it better than I ever could :
    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/9ii6aj/slumdogs-vs--millionaires---moral-hazard

    The goal of any minimum wage legislation is not to raise or lower unemployment, nor should it be because most evidence suggests that it has a negligible effect. It's purpose is social - It is meant, just like many other laws, to protect those who might not have the power or resources be able to protect themselves. And there’s little doubt who are those in need of protection in this context.
    Comedian Chris Rock said once on Saturday Night Live, “You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? ‘Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’” Even Adam Smith, the father of capitalism wrote in favor of protecting the worker from exploitation (see Adam Smith and Collective Bargaining for a discussion of Smith’s view)

    Of course, some are more in need of protection than others. Minimum wage laws are not oriented towards doctors and lawyers and businessmen. Instead, they are meant to help those who have much more rudimentary job skills and who, for obvious reasons, will tend to be concentrated among the poor, minorities and those on the fringes of society. Those in favor of minimum wage are arguing that no one should need public assistance on top of their regular employment just to make ends meet. And so while it does not make sense to argue for or against the minimum wage based on its employment impact, it does from the standpoint of protecting the powerless. Those who have not been as lucky as the rest of us in terms of the opportunities presented to them should not have to live a life of de facto indentured servitude.

    Even as we have just celebrated our 50th year as a nation, let us not forget how we got here. Those of us who have been blessed with much through luck, fortune or whatever god we choose to call upon have a moral duty and obligation to help out those of us who do not have as much. Let's revive that famed "Kampung spirit" of our forefathers, let's start to look out for each other again and let's move forward as one people.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Walter,

      Very valid perspective.

      I'll like to highlight that WP is proposing a $1000 minimum wage this GE2015, but if you check here, this has already been in place since last Jan for the cleaners, who mostly fall on the "fringes of society" like you say.

      I'm not in favour of a minimum wage across the board, for reasons that I've detailed above, but I acknowledge that you have a good POV too. Thanks for sharing and adding to the quality of the discussions here.

      https://sg.news.yahoo.com/singapore-sets-basic-wage-of-s-1-000-for-cleaners-105754101.html

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  10. sometimes i feel tired about the squabbling between PAP and other opposition parties during this year's GE. The last GE, if i remembered correctly, there are still decent proposals or manifesto that opposition parties had came up with but yet this year, they are more focus on ahtec depute, uplifting/social moral speeches and complaints. what do you think it will actually takes for multiple parties, including PAP, to join together and focus on improving Singapore (be it for own citizens, PRs and foreigners)?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alvin,

      Agreed :( my main grouse about the PAP this round is that I feel they've engaged in a bitter spat of attacking the opponents' themselves rather than debate on the policies made.

      I refuse to engage in that kind of discussions, because I will not commit the fallacy of ad hominem.

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  11. Exactly mine views as well. I'm completely for the maturing of a democratic system where opposition views can aid conventional government wisdom. But sadly, there's no level headed, credible opposition as of yet. I would think that the closest semblance of a credible opposition would be in the mould of Lina Chiam. I have been following her suggestions during her rallies. Many of them really seem constructive and based on observations on the ground.

    Until then though, like a Singapore Minister once said... Singaporeans should travel more frequently to appreciate Singapore more.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Nigel,

      Thanks! I thought Leon Pereia and Paul Tambyah showed promise as well.

      One should be wary of empty vessels which make the most noise, but we should also recognize quality candidates when we see them.

      Cheers,
      BB

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  12. Hi,

    Totally agree with your article.
    I am not anti-opposition but none have show me why I should stand with them.

    I was once asked by foreigners why we do not vote for oppositions, are we scared?
    My reply to them was simple, show me one that is worth my vote and I will vote for him or her.
    All of them could not answer me.

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  13. I just qualified for a FREE BURGER KING GIFT CARD, claim for yourself, this promotion is open...

    ReplyDelete