What is the point of having discussions when there is no listening?

It is almost amusing to read that Mr Heng Swee Keat indicated that he will re-start the Singaporean discussions after the announcement of the Budget next year.

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/12/04/why-hold-discussions-with-singaporeans-only-after-budget-announced-should-we-consider-it-as-a-discussion-or-propaganda-exercise/

https://www.singapore-herald.com/342/

In reality, Singaporeans have consistently given their views and feedback, only to be totally ignored and drowned out.  So what is the point of organising more discussion sessions if the feedback would be ignored?  It will only be a waste of time on both the governmental officials and the citizens.

If Mr Heng Swee Keat really wanted the discussion sessions to be taken seriously by Singaporeans, can he spearhead changes to the following issues that have been raised by Singaporeans in the past but no actions were ever taken?  Honestly, why would Singaporeans be bothered to have further discussions if no actions were taken on issues that Singaporeans have already given strong feedback?

The following list is non-exhaustive.  I would invite other Singaporeans to highlight other important issues not in the list.

Topic 1                        To lower Cost of Living

Singaporeans have, time and again, indicated extreme unhappiness over the raising costs of living, including but not limited to goods-and-services taxes, water, electricity, utilities, transportation, university fees, conservatory fees, parking charges, ERPs, etc.  We do not want any “discount vouchers” which are only temporary reliefs against permanent pains.  We just want the fees and costs to be maintained at the 2015 pre-election levels when Singaporeans gave PAP the mandate to govern another term.  When Singaporeans gave the mandate to PAP to govern the country, we were not giving PAP free licence to increase all forms of taxes and fees.  At the same time, please stop using our money to give us SG bonuses, particularly just before the general elections.

If Mr Heng Swee Keat is serious in listening to the Singaporeans, can he spearhead the revision of taxes and fees back to 2015 pre-election levels?

Topic 2                        Social Enterprise Hawkers

Singaporeans have indicated very clearly that the hawkers are being charged extortionately and are subjected to unreasonable conditions, including extreme long operating times, fines for discontinued rental, forced payments for services that the hawkers have not subscribed to.  At of this moment, only some issues were resolved and that is only after the public backslash against Amy Khor for assuming that hawkers complaining were exaggerating their pains.  To run salt into wounds, the Independent SG was threatened with defamation suits by NTUC Foodfare for highlighting the unfortunate plights of the hawkers, including the case of an elderly hawker who died because of overwork.

At the end of the day, hawkers are paying stall rentals in order to sell food and make a living.  If Mr Heng Swee Keat is serious in listening to the Singaporeans, can he spearhead the revision so that hawkers only need to pay a nominal fee (less than $2,000) without any further hidden charges and the hawkers be allowed full freedom to operate under their own terms and conditions?  If the Social Enterprises wanted them to use centralised dishwashing or cashless payment system for whatever reasons, then the Social Enterprises have to pay for them rather than the hawkers.  (After all, they have already collected the rents which are more than enough to operate such services.)  Hawkers should only pay for items that they choose to want to use, not items forced upon them.

Topic 3                        Presidential Election

Most Singaporeans have expressed unhappiness and dismay over how the criteria bar has been raised on the candidates, as well as the use of the divisive racial card in the last election.  In particular, Malays were especially unhappy as it appeared that Malay candidates were singled out for being unable to win the Presidential election based on their own merits, only to allow an Indian woman to take up the position of a Malay President.  If there is any disagreement on the race of the current President, the issue can be settled by disclosing the race written on her birth certificate and previous NRICs.  (It is not clear if she has to be issued a new NRIC to “change” her race after the Presidential election.)

Furthermore, none of the previous presidents could even remotely fulfil the stipulated criteria bar of running a large company.  They have no particular abilities beyond having held governmental positions.  To put this bluntly, all our elected presidents were unqualified in running large companies or looking after reserves, and they would never be considered to be Presidential candidates if not for the fact that they had held governmental positions.

The most disturbing issue is that the government knew the unhappiness and opposition from the general public, but chose to blatantly ignore them.  Hence, riot police was deployed when the Indian woman was declared as a Malay president, just in case things became too ugly.  (Which other countries do you know that needs to invoke the riot police when announcing their new presidents?)  And to make a mockery of the entire process, nobody sent any congratulatory message to the Indian-turned-Malay president, with the exception of North Korea.

If Mr Heng Swee Keat is serious in listening to the Singaporeans, can he spearhead a revision on the criteria bar for Presidential candidates, as well as hold a proper Presidential election so that Singaporeans can elect our own President, rather than dictate by the regime?  After all, the current president was never elected and did not have any mandate from the people.

Topic 4                        Transparency and Accountability

Singaporeans have, time and again, wanted the government to transparent on how the ministers are paid.  Specifically, we want to know exactly how much was the prime minister paid (in actual dollar and cents) and how much are the minister paid?  These questions have been filed in Parliament more than once, but no straight answers have been given to date.  At the end of the day, all of us are paying the ministers to run the country and we have a right to know how much they are being paid for the job they have been elected to perform.  If the ministers are not comfortable to let Singaporeans know how much they are paying themselves, then we really need to understand why.

Likewise, Singaporeans have also expressed that we want to know how much Ho Ching was paid (in actual dollar and cents).  There were online speculations ranging from a low of $70 million to more than $100 million, based on the estimates from Chip Goodyear’s salary in 2009.  The government claimed that her salary is a state secret, without explaining why it needed to be a state secret.  This excuse is particularly weak, since the salaries of the CEOs of other sovereign wealth fund are public knowledge.

The current process is shrouded in secrecy and gives the impression that the government has something sinister to hide.  Unfortunately, in the history of mankind, corrupted regimes were also notoriously for secrecy and hiding information when amassing wealth.  We need not look further than Marcos, Suharto, Bo Xilai and Najib, etc to see how much hidden wealth had been uncovered when they fell from powers.

At the end of the day, all these are taxpayers’ money and Singaporeans have the rights to know how their monies are being used.  To avoid unnecessary speculations and giving wrong impressions, the government needs to come clean on these issues.  If Mr Heng Swee Keat is serious in listening to the Singaporeans, can he spearhead the declaration of these monetary information and remove the veils of secrecy?

Concluding Remarks

Can I request if readers can forward the content of this article to Mr Heng Swee Keat and his team?  Mr Heng Swee Keat should at least respond to this article to either address the raised issues or explain why he is not able to address the raised issues.  If he chose to conveniently ignore the article and no actions were to be taken, then there is really no need to re-start the Singaporean discussion after the Singapore Budget next year.

Furthermore, there are a multitude of many other issues, including but not limited to, the abolishment of the GRC system, defamation suits against individuals and websites, the never-ending import and conversion of foreigners into Singaporeans, etc.  I appeal to other readers to state their stands on these issues.

At the same time, can I request Mr Heng Swee Keat to note that there was at least one PAP MP who refused to listen to the petition to repeal Penal Code 377A and instead made derogatory remarks that she had to attend to other residents with “more serious issues”.  I do not want to comment whether the government should or should not repeal Penal Code 377A, since I am aware that some staunch Christians would have opposite strong views.  (This is not my point.)

However, I want to point out that the MP blatantly ignored the activists who took the troubles to gather signatures and to queue up in order to give her the feedback.  If MPs ignored and rubbished feedback that Singaporeans have put in so much effort to deliver to them, how serious is the government in wanting to open up more discussion sessions to listen to feedback?  Of is this really only for show?

To end off this article, the PAP should know that there is a great price to pay for ignoring voices and being high-handed.

We are currently involved in the maritime disputes with Malaysia.  By itself, Malaysia appeared to be aggressive and unreasonable.

However, remember that Singapore dictated that one of Malaysia’s airline to migrate from Changi airport to Seletar airport without any consultation or consideration whether they wanted to do so or not.  Malaysia protested, to the extent of disallowing the airlines from operating out of Seletar airport and preventing the airline from servicing Singapore altogether.  Malaysia also lodged protests that the use of Seletar airport will infiltrate into Malaysia’s airspace.  But Singapore officials chose to conveniently ignore Malaysia and continued to go ahead with their plans without any consideration for Malaysia.

So what did Malaysia do when diplomacy fail?  Malaysia announced that they will reclaim their airspace which they had allowed Singapore to manage.  However, Singapore started insulting Malaysia by making disparaging remarks on whether Malaysia had expertise to manage the airspace.  And the next thing we knew, maritime boundaries disputes erupt.

In fact, this is not the first time Singapore got itself into such problems for being arrogant and high-handed.  China also detained our Terrex vehicles (through Hong Kong) and cut Singapore off from their one-belt-one-road initiative.  Again, by itself, China appeared to be aggressive and unreasonable.

But remember that Lee HL openly insulted China by joking that one only needed to open windows to smoke (referring to the heavy air pollution in China) and that one only needed to turn on the tap to drink pork soup (referring to China farmers dumping pig carcasses into rivers).  This was done right in the middle of a business dinner in New York and Lee HL was speaking as the prime minister of Singapore.  Furthermore, when Philippines decided not to insist on the Hague convention with regards to the sovereignty of South China Seas, Singapore insisted that China had to respect the rulings of the International Court even when we played no part in the dispute.

So before Singapore started accusing other countries of being aggressive and unreasonable, perhaps the government officials need to first reflect if they are the cause of others’ aggression and unreasonableness.

Realistically, I believed that PAP is likely to win in the next election, not because of the “70% daft Singaporeans”, but because more than 2 in 3 Singaporeans are immigrants from other countries and immigrants Singaporeans are likely to be supportive of PAP.  So while I am a fervent supporter of Dr Tan Cheng Bock, I hope Mr Heng Swee Keat would be able to bring in some needed winds of change to give hope to our country.

 

Cheryl Gupta

 

 

 

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15 Responses to “What is the point of having discussions when there is no listening?”

  • conversation and discussion:

    aiyoh. after water price increase. electricity and tpt increase ? all objectives met and ticked ?

    now it is time to sayang sayang conversation and discussion time to show that daft sinkies are listened to and in all likelihood the ‘short-memory’ of daft sinkies will all forget about the price increase and get distracted lar.

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  • Bapak:

    Great suggestions, Cheryl. But doubt they will listen. Their discussions are actually telling goon-dos how they want them to behave. It is very one-sided.

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  • Tremendous:

    1, HSK can no longer lower the cost of living. Our cost of living was and is dependent on vibrant manufacturing activities. Members of a certain party had allowed these activities to hollow out. Manufacturing does not bring big salary packages but brings stability to the country. This means members of a certain party cannot draw their millions each year and expect manufacturing to return.
    2, HSK cannot allow the hawkers to survive and yet stop the SEHC. All he needs to do is check out the housing categories of these hawkers. The proportion of hawkers living in more modest housing environments will be more than the proportion of citizens living in them, as long as members of a certain party doesn’t honey coat the statistics.
    3, HSK is not after the people’s mandate. He is like the rest of his fellow mates. They say they listen but they want full control. This is not how it works in healthy relationships.
    4, HSK does not need to disclose the pays of ministers. We are already collateral damage to their blunders, and if there is any tinge of conscience, they should resign.
    All these apply not only to HSK but also his fellow mates.

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  • Prof Brown, Liester University:

    DISCUSSION? WHAT DISCUSSION

    It’s a post-sales talk, to justify to unhappy clients why something has been priced the way it was, and so it should be called just that: justification.

    Not a discussion. It is anything but.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Waste of TIME…it will be arranged between the Mongrels and their Masters…with the Pedigrees sitting on the sidelines watching without VOICE or NOT allowed to participate…whichever is less effective

    There was a time when The Evil Con Master NOW DEAD!!! had a CONversation with young Singaporeans mostly semiCONditioned Pedigreed journalists TELEVISED…

    when challenged The Evil CONmaster bared his teeth and went for the KILL and the poor guys & dolls were taken aback to see one of their mates being ATTACKED…Non of them are in that Profession Today except for the mongrels…

    and…the one attacked name Ken went on to produce a satire about the FamiLEE of LIES!!!

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  • Karma is working:

    Hope ah keat doesn’t follow and adopt the wicked way of his loony master, to sooth, sooth, sooth….
    as he is now on track to ascend the dragon throne.

    If not careful, he may kena next big S. His master not scared even after 2 rounds of big C.

    Don’t play play with karma.. .

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  • MyBuisnessComesFirst:

    When peasants speak out , they call it ‘ noise’.
    HSK telling peasants wait long long. First we do the budget and whatever else they do in that parliament of overated clowns, then when got some time leftover then PAP will squeeze in some ‘conversation’ with peasants…but even so doesnt mean they are gonna listen to us. They live in their ivory towers so our needs and urgencies are beyond their grasp. They dont believe there sre poor suffering in sg..they thought they were doing a damn great job gov our SG!
    Otherwise you die your bizness!

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  • rukidding:

    “Chwee Kong, Lan Par siong” ???

    “Kong Lye,..Kong Keer…Kong Boh Umm Kia ” ( talk here talk there talk nowhere )

    Wayang and wayang and wayang ….all the way !

    You probably find CI and PCong …”always” inside his discussion group ?

    Maybe also our current “star to be”….Cherry Puthu,..the guy who never did NS and finally after much pressure…jioned a voluntary ( for show only) service to “shut up our mouth” ???

    Ghee,???…how same is same between 2.5 yrs and 13 year cycle compared to a “watered down” Volunteer programme ???

    Well,…there is “Fake News”,…there is “Foreign Talent”…there is “Cheaperm Better, Faster”…there was an Indian who became a Malay ???

    So,…Any Outcome and conclusion…”Sure Pow jiak, Sure Win” results.

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  • Existentialism for aristocrats:

    “We are here because embedded in our human nature is the secret code for heaven’s self-realization. Heaven is certainly omnipresent, may even be omniscient, but is most likely not omnipotent. IT NEEDS OUR ACTIVE PARTICIPATION TO REALIZE ITS OWN TRUTH …Since we help heaven to realize itself through our self-discovery, and self-understanding in day-to-day living, the ultimate meaning of life is found in our ordinary, human existence.”
    [Neo-Confucian scholar Tu Wei Ming]

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  • LIONS:

    The arrogant schoolish ministers will only be humble if there are a more decent number of oppo MPs.
    Else,they can do n say whatever they fancy even if it is bad for sgs.

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  • Big hope:

    Big hope that heng has any power to say do or think of anything without the approval of the lp he carried. Many senior would remember the comedians pair of a fat n a thin called Wang Sar. They have more freedom to criticise n comment on the colonial rule than citizens now in their own nation. If Wang Sar is doing what they have been doing all their life in entertainment he will be nabbed like Amos possibly shattered until like Amos became a totally disarranged man. So fat hope n dream on until u r awaken with the nepotist being rooted out n opacity broken n the operations in darkness revealed then the squeaky will be verified either just squeaky or squeaky bluff.

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  • Are our Ministers Smart ?:

    Very Smart, Indeed the Smartest In The World.

    Johor airspace belongs to Johor. Johor river waters belong to Johor. They have been kind enough to sell us their water and give us permission to make use of their airspace. Instead of saying thank you and be grateful, we want to go to war with them because they want to claim back what belongs to them.

    Our Transport Minister claims that our ILS system will not harm Pasir Gudang development and rebutted that the Malaysian side is using a technical issue as excuse to take back their airspace. In other words, they cannot and should not take back their airspace. Malaysia leaders should show their middle fingers and tell their Singaporean counterpart to Fark Off.

    When Dr M asked for a raise in water price of one Singapore cent for 1000 gallons of water they sold to us, our Foreign Ministry said no way as agreement signed in 1940. Public the asked why our CPF agreement can be altered by raising withdrawal age from 55 to 65 years old ? They did not dare to reply as they knew they are unreasonable.

    Dr M can easily cut of all the water or produce such as vegetables, fruits, chicken, eggs etc that they supply to us or alternatively raised their prices by 100 per cent. Singapore will have no choice but to take it or leave.

    PAP is taking advantage of Malaysia. They are also taking advantage of Singaporeans by selling water to us at a very high price with 30 per cent tax on top of the price while they bought water a one cent for 1000 gallons from Malaysia.

    Indeed the PAP think that they are very smart and can make fools of Malaysia and everybody they deal with. We Singaporeans will tell them to fiack off and give them the middle finger at the coming GE.

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  • carbon tax:

    All Biws want is to flecce Singaporeans as much as they can either to make them have the guts to speak to PRC billionaires as LHL once confessed he would love to have them evenonly one will make him delighted presumably to provide justification they should be paid billions. A biw once revealed that his ministers need to be paid equal to the top CEOs of MNCs so that they can have the uguts to talk to them. The carbon tax is just another excuse to get more monies as it would escalate to hundreds folds by sympathy rise in transport, food … all amounting to increase in govt revenue. The humongous increase in state collections can further support of more mmillionaire new ministers to assist the imbercile existing ministers just as lhl needs three other ministers with no jobs in PMO. Some kopitiam ah bei n ah soh said that pmo needs majomg patners as there is no work ,left after the plps rushing to fill in to gain enough credit for dirctor appts when they retire. Extra will be for the nepotic couple to gain international recognition by offering to educate their youngs from primRy to post graduates plus sufficient allowance for them to support their family in their hearlands or to speculate in stovks n share hoping to be as rivh as the biw ministers so that they can have the guts to ask for more.
    As Wang Sar said if you dont gather when there are freebies n stupid willing to pay, you must be stipid n Biws r not stupid in this direction.
    So go on n hope or grab your own future in your hand n boot out the biws n may be Singaporeans can see what had been going on in the darkness as it is most suspicious that the biws get very very sensitives when Singaporeans want to take a look inside the darkness. No politicians all over the world would take citizens to Court when they speculate what they do in the dark as there r sufficient checks n balances to verify the speculations. The more they try to stamp out the speculative deduction the more evidence they provide to substantiste LHY/LWL accusation before LHY scoots off to freeer democracy. Shame om Old Lee to leave a legacy that his own son has to flee for freedom n safety.
    Is that karma what Kopitiam uncles n aunties said,

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  • C'est la vie:

    ******
    Good try Cheryl.

    As the majority of comments here would indicate, most are fully aware that this SGov do not have “ears” for its people, and have always done what they saw fit, irregardless, and this trend will continue.
    ***
    ******

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  • why suffered in silence:

    The discussion is meant to be another wayang to entice gullible voters. Since when are they listening,only when they loose heavily in GE, then they would pretend to listen . You wonder even citizen like Cheryl could list out the perpetual wrong doings of our gahmen, how come they could not bother to rectify the dire situations? She could be right, immigrants are their triumph card.

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