How can the government turn a blind eye to such social problems that exist here?

On 12th May, the Sunday Times published an opinion piece by Han Fook Kwang entitled: “What are Singaporeans insecure about? Let’s talk about it”

There is a pervasive sense of insecurity that the choice of Mr Heng Swee Keat might not be the best choice as PM-designate (now appointed Deputy PM).

The Singaporeans are silent about their opinions for fear that they might unwittingly cross the OB (‘out-of-bounds’) line and be singled out for punishment. But they aren’t blind to what is really happening in their country. They know many government policies and decisions taken over the last 10 to 15 years are not always done in the best interest of the citizenry.

But for fear of their and their children’s livelihood and career prospects, they have to put their heard down and look the other way. They continue to feel helpless and fearful for their future; hence this sense of insecurity permeates across all levels of society today.

Worse, they know their government, MPs and ministers are not sharing the insecurity that they are facing. Why? Mr Han rightly said the “key challenge for the government is to understand and address insecurities of different groups”.

The first uncertainty he raised was the uncertainty of leadership transition which he quickly congratulated PM Lee for wrapping it up so quickly. An obvious uncertainty is created: what happens if Mr Heng performed poorly at the coming election?

It is a bad start for Mr Heng to be saddled with the problem of uncertainties strewed everywhere in our political landscape, some he knows and some he has to pretend he does not know. Mr Han was helpful in identifying four uncertainties for him:

1) The financial insecurity of older Singaporeans after retirement;
2) The insecurity about the roof over your head and where the property market is heading, particularly for those living in old HDB flats with depreciating values as their 99 -year leases wind down;
3) The insecurity of having too many foreigners coming into our labour market and taking away good jobs from Singaporeans; and
4) Mr Heng’s own political uncertainty.

But in reading the article by Mr Han, one would not expect him to over-simplify the deep sense of insecurity felt by Singaporeans towards the PAP government, and the lingering fear that governance has broken down with lack of transparency and accountability.

What Mr Han has avoided mentioning in his article are serious uncertainties which no PM-designate would like to look into. For Mr Heng to be successful politician, can he turn a blind eye to them and yet claim credit for doing nothing?

Mr Han can be a true-blue journalist if only he is daring enough to identify some less obvious uncertainties. They are uncertainties that weigh down the minds of many Singaporeans who have no means to voice their disagreement or remedy them:

First, the passing of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation bill with a 72 PAP vs 9 WP votes has given rise to widespread feeling of uncertainties in the minds and hearts of Singaporeans.

Edwin Tong’s statement “closed, encrypted communications also covered by law,” undoubtedly creates a deep sense of insecurity among Singaporeans because it means Big Brother is able to look into your private communication and has the legal power to do so.

Next, following the announcement by MAS that “$45b to be transferred to GIC from foreign reserves,” Lawrence Wong made a statement in Parliament on 8th May that “remuneration packages given to top managements at GIC and Temasek not interfered by the government”.

This is an uncertainty par excellence for Singaporeans because there is a constant suspicion that the top guns in these two government agencies are over-rewarding themselves and under-paying us the dividends.

If I were to invest $1m in a unit trust through a local bank, I can negotiate the lowest fee for the bank’s work and I am also entitled to know the annual management fee charged by the fund managers for their work in looking after my funds.

This is an area where rumours and fake news are rife. No one is any wiser if a news source alleged that XYZ in government agency earns $100m a year including bonus when in fact, he earns only $10m. Isn’t it in public interest to clear people’s anxieties that they have not been fleeced by the government agency?

In the recent debate in Parliament between Mr Shanmugam and WP MPs, he said “When people say things which are false and hide, the best remedy is to shine the ‘the light of truth’… so people can understand the truth, so that the infrastructure of fact is powerful, so that democracy is protected.”

If Lawrence Wong is unable to shine ‘the light of truth ‘ on the remunerations of the top guns in GIC and Temasek, can Mr Heng clear this master of all uncertainties that is troubling the minds of many Singaporeans, so that Singaporeans can trust him to do the right thing for the country? Has he got what it takes to be “the best among equals.”

Thirdly, as financial security of older Singaporeans after retirement is a major concern, MP Lim Biow Chuan raised the problem of those who live in private homes as “it was inequitable that they do not qualify for GST Vouchers, among other initiatives.”

Indranee Rajah, Second Minister of Finance, rejected this statement: “Citizens who live in private property can apply for government aid should they need help,” and she cited the examples of PG and MG packages.

The healthcare assistance granted under these two schemes is meagre and difficult to quantify. Before the PG scheme was introduced, almost all Singaporeans living in private homes do not qualify for CHAS, a healthcare assistance scheme. The Silver Support Scheme, introduced in 2014, to support elderly Singaporeans with low incomes through life, clearly excludes anyone who lives in private housing.

To make it difficult to qualify, an applicant must not have total CPF contributions of more than $70,000 by age 55. This sum could have been exhausted long ago to pay for the HDB flat. Indranee Rajah is not addressing the financial uncertainties face by the elderly Singaporeans who are now cash-poor. To be able to obtain some government assistance by passing a ‘means-test’ is no mean feat for any poor family or individual.

All the above uncertainties and more won’t fade away by the government simply ignoring or turning a blind eye to them. It is a very common sight throughout Singapore to find senior and elderly people, some blind or handicap, selling tissues, collecting thrash, cans and cardboard from bins, and even begging. I have witnessed a senior person, eating the left-overs on the table in a hawker centre in Tanjong Pagar.

How can the government turn a blind eye to such social problems that exist here? And we call Singapore a first world country?

 

Kok Meng Cheang

 

 

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28 Responses to “How can the government turn a blind eye to such social problems that exist here?”

  • No blind eye:

    The government DID NOT turn a blind eye on these.
    They have considered and implemented effective policies to bring about all these.
    Remember the wise man who says Singapore needs poor old folks to provide cheap labour?

    If you are poor, it is likely not because the government turns a blind eye, but because of effective government policies. They milk you dry.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    @Mr.Kok; the only way we can know about GIc and Temasek CEOs pay is when we voted out the PAP.

    Malaysians suspect something was wrong with 1MDB, they kick the “#1 Official or Bossku” out. Now Malaysians know everything and in the process of recovering all those missing ringgits.

    I am sure Singaporeans are smarter than the Malaysians. We used to laugh at the Malaysians, but now see if could stop Malaysians from laughing at us.

    PAP government has taken everything from its people, including our freedom of expression. The only right remains is our votes, let’s make use of it wisely! There may be no GE the next time!!

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  • ganeshsk:

    YES “….. we are……. a first world country” that turns a blind eye.

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  • The root of the evil ....:

    Aren’t these problems intimately linked to LHL proclaiming that through his trickle-down economics policies, ordinary and lower strata mortals citizens will definitely benefit from the mass importation of billionaires and multi millionaires – and their crony enterprises with the GLCs (his Singapore is 4th ranked globally)?

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  • C’est la vie:

    *****
    Words will never move this SGov, … ever !!!

    Five decades on, … and Poreans have learnt “jack” !!!

    Remove, reduce and/or resist their power is the only “fix” !!!
    ***
    *****

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  • LIONS:

    The existing PUBLIC/SOCIAL ISSUES are,in large part,CONTRIBUTED BY NONCHALANT N UNDUTIFUL SENIOR CIVIL SERVANTS who are more worried about *NOT MAKING THE WRONG MOVES* to protect their BIG PAYCHECKS.

    As such,FEEDBACKS FROM HONEST N GOOD CITIZENS are often IGNORED BY these civil servants PROFFERING to listen n act upon SELF-SERVING PAP GRASSROOT MEMBERS N LEADERS like the PBMs n BBMs who CARE ONLY FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS,mostly at the expense of their neighboyrs n larger community.

    TAKE LTA ENFORCEMENT.
    LTA OFFICERS CAN IGNORE FEEDBACKS OF SGS ON WRONGFUL RESERVATION OF PUBLIC SPACES USING BINS ETC for use as PERSONAL PARKING LOTS BY CERTAIN PEOPLE BUT PICK ON OTHERS IN THE SAME NEIGHBOURHOOD FOR MUCH LESSER OFFENCES like OVER-PARKING for short duration even after constant feedbacks?

    Are LTA FT-PARKING WARDENS on the take,for instance?

    Then,there are also the govt-scholars holding policy-making pisitions who refuse to consult the public opinions or consider public opinions when formulating public policies.
    The ministers merely agree wholesale to their suggestions so long as their ministries n agencies can collect more money?

    Public Service PRIDES ON INTEGRITY,SERVICE N EXCELLENCE n i respect their motto but in many instances,PRACTICE IS OPPISITE OF MOTTO?

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  • HarderTruths:

    What problems? There are no problems. This talk of problems is fake news.

    FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE

    (Just getting ready for POFMA – don’t mind me)

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  • I'm Halimah also jiak liao bee:

    ‘Ownself look after Ownself”, what else.
    The fact that the 72 Retards PAPIGS did not voice out or vote against the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation bill ckearly shows these Cronies knows which side their bread is buttered on.

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  • James Lee:

    Spot on!!!!

    Both the PGs and MGs who are now facing the consequences of dubious policies on CPF,Housing and the Privatization” of our Public Hospitals, have realistically been taken for a rough and damaging ride into their retirement.If the present 4G leaders are sincere in their praise and appreciation for the contributions made by these seniors to nation building,then those in the corridor of power in the govt should help redress this problem by providing without further delays the following to all PGs and MGs:-

    1) Fully subsidised basic hospitalisation and health care.The government can save on the usual medisave top ups and medical subsidies.

    2)Because of 1) above,the moneys in their Medisave Account amounting to more than $30,000 can be released to meet their retirement needs.

    3)Unconditionally give a monthly payment of S$500/= to all PGs and MGs to further boost their standard of living for their remaining life span.

    4)Waive all charges and fees for the Singapore Passport for all seniors.

    Those responsible in 4G should do the needful before it’s too late!!!!

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  • opposition dude:

    The good show will start once this year’s elections are over. Depending on how many seats PAP will have stroke man will either just continue what goondu Loong has done or he will have to come out with something more concrete which actually works instead of just rehashing the old shit into different words.

    The problems we face have been around for YEARS so it’s not a new thing for PAP. But what we see are the same thing ssaid over and over without the actual problem being solved. Cost of healthcare remains bloody expensive even after CHAS and the PGP, why is that so?

    And the issue of flats depreciating once they hit 40 will be with us for a long time to come. If you think HIP2 and VERS will somehow magically cause these old flats to shoot up by 20% or some high number then please continue dreaming, not many will want to buy a 60 year old flat even after it has gone through HIP2 simply because they won’t know if the flat will appreciate after they buy it.

    So all in all, a shitload of things for stroke man to do when he becomes PM. Let’s see if he has what it takes or is just a lame duck!

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  • Iou69:

    Do u think PAP gives a shit abt social problems in SG?

    Govt more concerned abt boosting economy, accumulating their $$mil dollar incomes, bring in more mediocre foreign workers to snatch all kinds of jobs & to replace local citizens, make the rich even richer (property developers,owners,landlords r laughing all d way to banks)…

    The more this arrogant out-of-touch govt tries to wayang & brush away criticisms/problems, the more those problems & vulnerabilities will be exposed & revealed… so what if they implement Pofma ??

    Citizens are all so sick & tired of this govt !!

    Enough said !

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  • Too many under His Payroll:

    Too many are under the payroll of you-know -who.

    This is how any are self-censured and not only that, terribly afraid .

    No courage how to defend?
    These will never have courage to defend me. Why should I defend them?

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  • Too many under His Payroll:

    Boh Heng is clearly just a woody.
    The master pulls from behind.

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  • LIONS:

    and,to think that MANY OF THE CURRENT SOCIO-ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF common sgs caused by DAFT PAP POLICIES OF GREED AND NONCHALANCE for sgs’ well-being n welfare?!!!!!

    take CPF POLICY,MEDI-$ave,HDB PRICING,FT POLICY,HOSPITAL CHARGES ETC.

    OVER-CROWDING WILL LEAD TO SOCIAL TENSION AND THUS,SOCIAL DISHARMONY BY AND LARGE,GO ASK THE SOCIAL SCIENTISTS FROM NUS,NTU OR SMU.

    NEIGHBOURS’ DISPUTES,ROAD BULLIES ETC.
    SUICIDES OF ELDERLY SGS????????????? STILL FIRST WORLD?

    GANGSTERISM ON THE RISE DESPITE HUGE EFFORTS TO WIPE IT OUT BY OLD GUARDS?

    STILL,THEY PSUH BLAMES TO SGS N GRIN AND GRIN WHILE COLLECTING MORE $$$ FOR THEMSELVES?!

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  • Chin boh eng.:

    Now days,Shit stain is even more bearable

    Then bad mouthing writtings of gov.in public loos

    Walls and doors.i think.

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  • LIONS:

    WHY WELFARE FOR sgs are so lousy when there are SO MANY TYPES OF BENEFITS HERE FOR NON-CITIZENS?

    GOOD GOVT JOBS N GLC JOBS GO TO STRANGE FTs who formulate PUBLIC POLICIES THAT SCREW UP sgs???
    take example HDB PURCHASE POLICY ETC>

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  • LIONS:

    MR HSK,if you claimd to be trained by OLD GUARD LEADERS N ESPECIALLY LKY,you would want to MAKE THINGS GOOD FOR THE AVERAGE CITIZEN/SINGAPOREAN ONCE AGAIN.

    YOU HAVE TO HONESTLY PLOUGH THOROUGHLY INTO THE POLICIES SUBMITTED BY NON-SG TOP CIVIL SERVANTS TO ENSURE SUCH POLICIES FAVOUR YOUR OWN CITIZENS RATHER THAN MERELY BENEFIT PRs holding top posts but are NOT TRULY COMMITTED TO SINGAPORE NOR SINGAPOREANS’ WELL-BEING.

    IT IS TIME FOR MINISTERS TO RETHINK AND TO RE-LOOK AT THEIR OWN APPOINTED NON-SG OFFICERS TO SEE IF THEY ARE DOING THINGS FOR SG’S AND SGS’ SAKES.

    UNLES,OUR MINISTERS DONT CARE, I THINK THERE IS A LOT TO LOOK CAREFULLY INTO THE REAL GROUND PRACTICES AND DETAILED PUBLIC POLICIES PROPOSED BY NON-SG CIVIL SERVANTS.

    TIME TO TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN NATION-BUILDERS RATHER THAN GIVING BENEFITS TO ALIEN PARASITES THAT SUCK OUR BLOOD OR PREY ON SG AND SGS.

    IF THE GOVT CANT EVEN DO THIS TO CORRECT ALL THE WRONGS,ARE THEY STILL FIT BE CALLED SINGAPOREANS OR EVEN GOVERN????

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  • William C:

    PM already said to Dr M in Malaysia that the faked law works for Singapore. Wonder based on what he said this. Their management is don’t care what the people thinks. As long as it is good for Singapore (PAP), do be it. His father said this too

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  • Haigen-Diaz:

    Mr.Kok Meng Cheang, your message needs more powerful penetration at the level of the 70% masses. I think you need a bigger megaphone.

    The above, encapsulates the very ignorance in which Singaporeans are now cheerily steeped. Politicians crow about “raising the retirement” age, noting vaguely that “many” seniors work into their 70s, even 80s — and our political class is so brazenly contemptuous that they probably think the elderly citizens can survive on $400. “Chye Png” already $8- and golly ain’t that swell?

    There’s a leadership crisis here, all right. What matters is the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Some people are poor because of lack of opportunities. Some people are poor because they make (or made) bad decisions. Finally some people are poor because of bad luck; perhaps they got sick or hurt. But for Singaporeans to be poor for rewarding failure at the top. What can one say, the people get the leadership they deserve.

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  • LIONS:

    IT IS SMALL WONDER SO MANY REAL FTs who are offered CITIZENSHIPS turned it down.
    they see NO REAL REASON/S TO BECOME CITIZENS WHEN BEING NON-CITIZENS HAVE AS MUCH,IF NOT MORE,BENEFITS???
    ONLY LOUSY FAKE FTs enthusiastically take up the offer,ya?

    i know of many good FTs who have long left SG to go home or go elsewhere in ASIA.
    they rather not take up citizenship and WHY???

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  • Regime change is the solution:

    If the PAP does not know what Singaporeans are feeling insecure about the regime change is indeed urgently needed.

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  • Oxymoron smoking ...:

    RE:

    a) What does “fully subsidised” mean and what does it amount to in precise terms? We’ve all been taken for a ride for a long time by “government subsidies” in health care costs.

    b) Why set the threshold sum at $30,000

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  • Oxymoron smoking ...:

    RE: “James Lee”

    a) What does “fully subsidised” mean and what does it amount to in precise terms? We’ve all been taken for a ride for a long time by “government subsidies” in health care costs.

    b) Why set the threshold sum at $30,000? What factors and criteria warrant this figure? What kind of health care funding model are you proposing?

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  • Bystander:

    Mr. Han has his hands tight, he has been frozen for some time for speaking out too boldly in the past. So he could only hint, even that give him kudos still sticking to his guns to speak out on behind of Singaporeans, and thank him for his perseverance to be a dedicated journalist, unlike his hypocritical MSM colleagues being just a pawn for the Govt.

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  • We Know Your Game, Aunty:

    Loongtime PAPer chief editor Han expressed the fear: “… what happens if Mr Heng performed poorly at the coming election?”

    Well, no fear, Han, that’s the other side – the main side being the MIWs did well and Heng’s choice by the Lees get a resounding yes re-affirmation from the PAPer yes-men and -women – of the grand design:
    that is, the sooner the HoLee Chinggis can sooner parachute her precious elder boy into first-among-equals role and ascend the Dragon throne, take back the Crown earlier than planned!

    By which then her siblings-in-law can never ever hope to be in her way. NOT EVER AGAIN!

    Such is the beauty of her Grand Design.

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  • RDB:

    Simple question:
    Why are peeing and pooing ministers paid in millions yearly? And even their MPs are paid nearer to to 200,000 yearly too?

    They love the oppo in parliament? How can? As there are more of them in parliament then just the few WP’s MPs in there! So, WHO is LOLL for them? About 70% diehard mentally dotards without brains that includes you know who also too!

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  • Less and less hole lah:

    Red dot is a sick society, run by one sick person after another.

    SIGH…..

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  • NotMyProblem:

    Less and less hole lah:
    Red dot is a sick society, run by one sick person after another.

    SIGH…..

    Do we allow this to happen?

    If we still allow this to happen, we are the sick persons, not the one running it!

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