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Posts Tagged ‘Singapore Democratic Party’

Shift gears = New fears

In Money, News Reports, Politics on February 27, 2013 at 12:19 am

I reckon that the best thing about the debate on the Population White Paper is that most of us will be able to comprehend the Budget 2013 much better than in the past, when we will probably be zooming in to see what’s in it for us.
So many reactions now, so here’s a summary of some new points that have emerged following DPM Tharman’s speech yesterday culled from media reports.

- The construction sector, that really unproductive part of the economy, is going to be hit so hard that it will be a wonder if we can get our infrastructure plans in place. Construction companies which have been going around the quotas by paying a $650 monthly levy for every additional foreign worker will have to pay more, $950 next year and $1,050 in 2015. Now that’s a psychological barrier that’s being breached. Smaller companies are expected to fold or merge.

- The retail and restaurant business people are extremely angry that they have been hit so heavily with higher levies and lowered quotas on foreign workers. Some operations simply cannot be automated, they say, and no matter how much you pay, Singaporeans just won’t do certain jobs. Seems though that there is some kind of workaround: A flexible job scheme that was piloted in the hotel sector to get foreign workers to multi-task will be extended to the whole services sector. So a waiter can double as a dishwasher in this new scheme (hate the word!) that will have its own quotas? Seems we’ll hear more about this later.

- That Wage Credit Scheme in which the G foots 40 per cent of pay rises for those earning less than $4,000 a month might well prove to be a double-edged sword. Bosses may feel compelled to pay people more than they are worth; people would start expecting higher pay even though there is no increase in productivity. And what happens after Year 3, when these credits stop? Can companies afford to foot the wage bill? Would their companies have had enough time to re-structure and raise productivity by then to justify the cost of manpower? The opposition parties, the Singapore Democratic Party and Reform Party, have weighed in too, suggesting a minimum wage law would be a better instrument.

- Some real drama is playing out in car companies. First, they had to deal with last minute orders with people started shopping on Monday night to beat the clock – higher cash payments, ARF etc will kick in. Now, people who had ordered cars are calling to cancel because they don’t know how the new figures will play out. There’s a shift of gear here: the G seems to be moving from curbing car usage to restricting car population. Not fair, the car people say.

- The Workfare Income Supplement to give cash/CPF support to those with low-paying jobs should be extended to part-timers, said an economist. Calculate the income support on a per hour basis, he suggested. This might well bring in more workers into the fold and up the resident workforce numbers.

I’m looking forward to the debate. Stay tuned to this blog and http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg

And the winner of the by-election is….?

In News Reports, Politics on January 16, 2013 at 11:52 pm

You know what? After the dust has settled on the Punggol East by-election, the winner will be…Rivervale Plaza! It’s like a lightning rod for all the candidates. PAP’s Koh Poh Koon made a first strike by saying he will get the mall done up in six months: “Having listened and interacted with residents over the last week or so, it is clear that infrastructure issues are something of great concern to them. One of them would be the (Rivervale) Plaza, which we have already endeavoured to complete work in the next six months or so.’’

Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam has thundered back, claiming that a recent visit from his party had led to a swift response by the authorities to rectify and expedite the mall’s construction: “We have accomplished more than I think any of the other nine Opposition members in Parliament or the Government in Punggol East.’’

Want to meet the candidates? Go hang around the mall. Now, I wish the media would reprise the Rivervale Plaza saga for readers. Why did the previous contractor go bust? Who’s the owner? New contractor? What’s there now? What has yet to be completed? And why are residents so upset about it?

Some aspects have probably been reported before but it’s become relevant now. I wonder what the candidates are saying to the tenants there – there are some right? And you can bet with all this political attention being rained on the plaza, the owners and management are quaking in their boots.

This four-cornered square dance round the plaza aside, seems Nomination Day sprang no surprises, save a blinding flash of neon green from SDA’s Desmond Lim. Gosh! What a colour! The two independent candidates came – and left, like they have traditionally done in past elections.

Okay, I digress. Truth is, so much is being said about this BE that I am unable to come up with any original thinking. So here are some random thoughts:

a. Congratulations!
I think Today has the best coverage of the BE. Its page one is so well-written with so many insights by political observers, it’s priceless. I don’t mean that the paper is free. Which it is.

b. Online first moves
The online space has covered everything that happened yesterday, including PAP’s Janil Puthucheary lending a hand to a WP supporter who fainted. Online wag, New Nation, promptly satirised the incident as the woman wanting to advance unity among political parties. Unfortunately, STOMP took the fiction as fact and posted it. It was taken down.

c. Side shows
The two independents put up a great side show, ranting and raving about lost forms, supporters who let them down etc. Someone should have a chat with these two eccentrics who are fixtures in every GE. They’re entertaining! If they are so keen to have a stage, why doesn’t someone give them a real one – they can play grumpy old man and Arab sheik.

d. Political predictions and promises
Political pundits are predicting a two-horse race among the quartet – it’s PAP versus WP. SDA and Reform Party are going to lose their election deposit. RP’s Jeyaretnam has pledged to move into Punggol East if he wins. He is promising to be a son of Punggol.

e. All quiet on the PAP front
PAP bigwigs are keeping relatively quiet, compared to the past. Seems they learnt from the Hougang by-election and will let Dr Koh be his own man and stick to his I am me pledge.

f. Where is the SDP?
Is Dr Chee Soon Juan licking his wounds somewhere? I would have thought an interested party would at least show up at the centre, in the name of opposition solidarity? Maybe he doesn’t want to face further questions about his about-face. Or maybe the other opposition parties would prefer that he stayed away?

A possible SDP reply to WP

In News Reports, Politics on January 16, 2013 at 1:42 am

Following the earlier post from Mr Low to Dr Chee. Here is Dr Chee’s reply. Totally fictitious. Apologies to both men.

Dear Mr Low,
Thank you for your letter explaining why you rebuffed our perfectly sensible idea to put forth a unity candidate. I concede defeat and as, you may have read, I have decided that the SDP should pull out of the by-election. (I warn you though that I still have a couple of hours to change my mind.)

Nevertheless, I have decided to heed the growing calls for SDP to pull out of the by-election. I am doing so in the interest of opposition unity. You have forced my hand, and by your silence, you’ve succeeded in making me a pariah of the opposition. Even the netizens whom I believe are my most fervent supporters have turned against me.
I am getting some plaudits now for the withdrawal. Yet there are others who complaining about my lack of determination (I have plenty! ) and botched strategy (which I maintain is correct). My past words are being misinterpreted (again!) and my past moves are being misconstrued (again!). I am Singapore’s most misunderstood politician. Nevertheless I will survive. I will prevail. I am a son of Singapore!

I am now toting up the cost of the preparations for this election. As you can see, I prepared two sets of posters – for both Vincent and Paul. Naturally, they are upset. As are my party members. I would have to do my utmost now to keep them in line, and to stay within the fold till the next GE. As usual, I would have to deploy my usual charisma and charm. They will understand that the SDP has a noble cause, even if the leadership, namely me, is fallible (which I’m not).
By the way, if I was eligible to stand, I am almost certain that the people will be on my side. Chee Soon Juan versus your Lee Li Lian? That’s hardly a contest (pardon my ego). I would have gone to the Nomination Centre, guns blazing. The PAP would have been cowed by my presence. Of course, it will also be looking closely to see if I broke any law in the hope of having me disqualified. You know I started distributing my fliers after the writ of election was called… Some people say I was flouting the campaigning rules. Well, even if I have done so, there is no reason to persecute/prosecute me now since the SDP is out of the fray. From now I intend to keep my nose clean for the next electoral fight. Perhaps, between now and then, we can sit down for a cup of coffee. By the way, you still haven’t given me your handphone number.

My only consolation today is that I made it to the front page of The Straits Times. Not a flattering picture. As usual photographers never manage to capture my good side.

Now that SDP is out of the fray, we are in the midst of intense discussions about whether we should help you with your campaign. Or help SDA’s Desmond Lim. Or Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam. I envisage being a king-maker, or power broker of sorts. Time for the rest of you to court me. I have the resources, the manpower. I am also an orator. Would you like me to speak at your rally?

It remains for me now to do the polite thing and wish you and your party the best in this by-election.
Sincerely,
Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

Singapore politics: Alive and kicking

In News Reports, Politics on January 15, 2013 at 1:06 am

I wonder why PAP’s Koh Poh Koon is talking about sympathy votes at all. Does he really think talking about his growing up days will make people feel sorry for him and vote him in? A bit salah.

If that’s the case we should be feeling sorry for too many people with a rags-to-middle class past. Sounds like reverse psychology to me. It’s more likely that people will consider his rise from son of a bus driver to being a medical surgeon very commendable. He is an example of a meritocratic society at work – although, as he himself admits, he’s not sure that the system will continue working for the next generation the way it has worked for him.

I wish he would say more about education as a social leveller. He did so over the weekend, but I would be interested to know how he thinks the system should be maintained so that young people can move up the ladder through the system – the way he did. He made all the right noises, well aimed at the younger folks in Punggol East who have young children. Now let’s hear some more, or perhaps, a solution, from him.

So now he is being pitted against Workers’ Party’s Lee Li Lian. I wonder why people are surprised at the choice. It makes you think about us – our attitude and expectations as a people. Most thought that that the party would put up a credentialed candidate or as former WP member Eric Tan said “fall into the elitist trap’’. The WP didn’t.

It’s an inspired choice. Ms Lee looks as different as she can get from the PAP candidate. In fact, she looks like a heartlander – and probably wouldn’t have to make much of that because she looks so “believable’’. Plus, she really does seem more like a Daughter of Punggol, although wisely, she doesn’t label herself so. Married with no children, but not ruling out baby in the future. She and her telco consultant husband would be a target of the White Paper on population. I wonder what sort of views she holds on the baby front.
While the PAP is crafting the election as a local issue; WP’s Sylvia Lim has taken it national – the BE is a barometer of what people feels towards the PAP. This is according to what was reported in Today. I wonder how Punggol East residents will vote.

Dr Koh was reported saying (this is not from MSM but from TR Emeritus): “The residents have to be practical and realistic – that you must choose to vote the person who can do the work for you. I think it’s a fallacy to believe that you can have the best of both worlds – choose the person to make a statement but hope that the other person who’s voted out is going to be having all the resources, all the authority, to get the work done for you.”

You know, I will quickly give Dr Koh and Ms Lee a list of what I want in the estate – Rivervale Plaza ready by tomorrow, more LRT trains, more bus services, a couple of child care centres…and while we’re at it, lower S&C charges.

Isn’t it fantastic to be courted? And now, Desmond Lim of SDA has entered the picture and Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam. The first competed with Ms Lee against Michael Palmer in the last election. Mr Jeyaretnam, on the other hand, doesn’t think he needs an introduction. SDP is also announcing its candidate too. SDP’s Chee Soon Juan, by the way, said in Today that he never did expect WP to accept its offer of a “unity candidate’’. Makes you wonder why he even extended the offer in the first place? All that it resulted in is bad press for SDP – online and offline.

So that makes it a multi-cornered fight unless some last minute pact is brokered before Nomination Day tomorrow. (Don’t forget the two independents who seem to like losing their electoral deposit every time an election rolls around)
Now who says politics in Singapore is dead?

Random thoughts on the by-election

In News Reports, Politics on January 12, 2013 at 3:40 am

So many things happening over the past few days, so hard to keep track. Some random thoughts on the coming by-election:
a. The fuss over the son of Punggol. I wonder whose big idea it is to label PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon that way. He can hardly be sentient in those few years when he lived there as a babe. One friend who has lived in the same place all his life said he should be known as the Father of Chai Chee. I guess I should be the Punggol Pariah then since I hardly know where it is…

Dr Koh, who used the same label on himself on his FB page, rescued himself somewhat by displaying a sense of humour when he acknowledged the barrage of really crappy jokes that have accompanied his profession as a colorectal surgeon. I gather from ST reports that he is a different kettle of fish from the ebullient Michael Palmer – more serious and stoic. Of course, the grassroots leaders also added another “s’’ – sincere.

Random thought: Managed PR is a bummer and smells wrong; an image generated from the bottom up is better.
b. ST had a good interview published today with Mak Yuen Teen, a corporate governance expert, on the MND’s review of town council in light of the AIM transaction. He put forth the issues very nicely and suggested that a kind of corporate governance code like that in place for charities be put in place. But he balked at saying anything about the political nature of town councils since he is not a “political scientist’’. Town councils were started so that MPs can account for their work to residents. He asked this question: Before town councils, what were MPs accountable for then?

This is interesting. As far as I can recall, the G introduced town councils so that residents can see how their vote will have a direct impact on their daily lives and their surroundings. I have always thought that this was to blunt the lure of having an opposition in Parliament to check on the PAP government. Constituents would have to think harder about their vote. So this relatively new innovation of Singapore (like the vehicle quota system, exec condos, foreign worker policy etc) requires a re-think. Does anyone think that a bunch of civil servants in MND will be able to deal with a “political’’ question on the “fundamental nature’’ of town councils – when an academic declined to do so? Anyway I thought WP did the right thing by withdrawing its adjournment motion. Better to wait for the MND report and then tackle the report. Why waste time now? Let the civil servants dig out the details.

Random thought: The Punggol East voters should ask what would happen if their town council changes hands…The trouble is, the MND review will only be completed after the polls on Jan 26…

c. The Opposition is NOT having a party. SDP’s Chee Soon Juan’s proposal for co-operation with WP in the Punggol East BE floored me. So they campaign together and if they win – SDP sits in Parliament and WP runs the town council. Looks like the SDP, after launching its proposals on housing and health, thinks it’s better placed to be in Parliament while the WP should take the behind-the-scenes work of running the town councils. If WP says yes, I don’t know what to think! It sort of overturns the town council idea of having your parliament representative demonstrate some governing ability. (MND, please take note). You know, I think the SDP should just try to get itself nominated in Parliament as NMPs – if all it wants is a voice.

And these letters that SDP have made public on its overtures to WP….one wonders what’s wrong with making a telephone call and settling everything privately? The PAP must be real pleased with SDP’s play. WP must be real pissed – it’s been saying all the right things so far (even acknowledging that PAP has incumbent advantage in Punggol East) – and now it looks like it’s being pressured to make some kind of statement on SDP’s proposal…

Random thought: How is all this wrangling good for the Punggol East voter?

Good moves

In News Reports, Politics on January 7, 2013 at 12:59 am

WOW! Political activity is really hotting up. So the Singapore Democratic Party goes on a walkabout in Punggol East, in the hope that a by-election will be called there. Everybody’s wondering now if there will be a five-cornered fight in the single-seat ward, if the BE should come to pass. Seems that the Reform Party is in talks with Workers’ Party about that. I am betting that the pro-opposition camp is hoping for some sort of pact among the parties so that the vote wouldn’t be split with victory landing in the People’s Action Party’s lap.

Thing is, people seem to be wondering about who the opposition parties would field. The media is asking: So is it Vincent Wijeysingha? Paul Tambyah? Would be silly if the parties let on on a formal basis. I’d bet the PAP machinery is digging out every single bit of information on every possible candidate. And after the Wijeysingha run-in with Tan Chuan Jin, the SDP isn’t going to mess things up by speaking about it. Good move! In fact, all opposition politicians should keep a stiff upper lip, get out of town and return just before the BE (if it is called). In other words, do a Chen Show Mao.

I’m more interested to know who the PAP would field. Any of the fellows from the defeated Aljunied GRC slate? What about Ong Ye Kung, now of Keppel, ex-NTUC and ex-G? Sigh. Just curious.

Then over in Jubilee Hall, the WP has staged a concert. ST even had two stories on its “do’’, including a human interest story about the politicians’ stage jitters! The party wants to raise money for an HQ, and wanted to show off a lighter side, it said. Good move!

Walks and concerts will raise their public profile and now, we’ll wait to see what sort of positions the parties will hold on issues. I hope that they’re geared up to debate the Population White Paper that’s coming out soon. Let’s see some engagement on the big issues that will affect our future – not political point-scoring or exchange of love letters.

Another good move: Seems like Halimah Yacob is tipped to be the new Speaker of Parliament following Palmergate. Actually, I am not sure if it’s a really good move for Singapore. I’d prefer her “talking’’ – she’s so reasonable and articulate. As Speaker, she’s somewhat gagged in Parliament – how to join in a debate which you are supposed to be moderating? Maybe not so good move.

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