8/20/2007

Hsien Loong's National Day Rally

What the speech will strike people, other than the enormous memory and command of the language of Hsien Loong, is that it is a rich govt's rally speech. Only a rich govt can afford all the plans that he revealed and the promise of delivering them. It contains a lot of things for the people at various levels. It has taken his last speech on the vision of a new Singapore a step further with more for the masses and the lower income. In all fairness, no country or govt, I think, could make such a generous offer to the people. But then, there are still areas that need to be looked at it more intensely. Ok, we are not building bridges and roads to collect more tolls. But many of the things that the govt is going to build will be paid by the people. They are not freebies. Even looking after the aged is how to plan their savings to last longer. Ok, 1% more for $60k. That is a plus. But shouldn't this be paid in the past as the compulsory savings should be managed and invested to generate higher returns all these while? And there were signs of fine tuning the CPF savings to fit the needs of different groups of people. But still not enough. The minimum sum was untouched. This sum is so meaningless to so many people. The attempt to close the gap between the rich and poor is barking up the wrong tree. Agreed that the govt should not hold back the rich from getting richer. Let them get richer. And also there is no way that the income of the lower income group can be artificially inflated at no cost. They will pay themselves out of the competition. It is a double aged sword. It is a futile exercise. What Hsien Loong completely missed out is the runaway cost of living. If this area can be arrested, then the people, especially the lower income group, will be richer and their money can be stretched a little longer. So will the savings of the retirees. The only way to hold back rising cost is to return public and essential services back to the nation and run at cost plus and not just for profit and the interest of the shareholders, or to line the pockets of top management. The concept of profit for profit sake must be relooked at. Even GLCs must not forget that they have a national duty to look after the people, eg in the area of job creation and employment. It is irresponsible to use public money simply to generate profit. Profit for who and for what if the people are being squeezed or retrenched just to improve the bottom line? Without reining in the cost of living, not only the lower income group will suffer. It will undermine our competitiveness as an operating base for foreign corporations in a matter of time.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who is the largest employer in Singapore Inc ? The Privatised Essential goods and services providers namely the Utilities, Transportations(for the public), Healthcares, Educations and Housing(HDB) Companies. Do these Privatised Companies pay their employees fairly? For their topmen the answer is yes; for those on contract, their remunerations and benefits are as per typical contract. All these Privatised Companies call the shots in the pricings of their goods and services and the public are their customers and employees. They are cartels, monopolies and authorised vendors and when they hike the prices of their goods and services, there is nothing the public can do. The PM talked about 'upgrading' when in reality many have to downgrade to stay alive. Can beautiful words convince or even console the people this time? I believe we will all witnesss the developments as time goes.

Anonymous said...

It really hasnt been easy. but no matter what our individual problems are, it cant be denied that PM did try to cover the ground in the best way he could. we are facing problems of success, widening income/wealth gap, competition for talent and knowledge workers etc that other advanced countries are also grappling with and the difficult adjustments have to be made. these are unchartered waters without models to copy unlike the old days. frankly i have never been impressed with our previous leaders until now, although you may have a different view on that. but in terms of brains and passions, i think this is the best PM singapore ever had and i am sure history will vindicate this.

Anonymous said...

How many past leaders we have before ??

LHL speech was no different from GCT and LKY.....

Anonymous said...

The difference is in the way he saw and positioned our country and the confidence and optimism he brings in. Like I said it is your prerogative to make up your mind and opinion.

When he took the reins in 2004, our morale was at its lowest and it was the least enviable of times to take the baton, so i thought then.

singapore has just recovered from sars and the aftermath of bombings in nearby regions, gulf war and 9/11. understandably many of us were disheartened and negative.

there were endless talks that china is going to erode away and hallow out our traditional competitive edge and that singapore's golden years were behind.

He came in with dynamism and optimism, changing the rules and our mindsets to create the new buzz that singapore's best is in fact yet to come.

Foreign funds including india, moscow and arabia in addition to traditional ones soon took notice of his pitch and we have been a great beneficiary eversince.

The times before he took over, i rember we were constantly revising our expectations downwards due to "difficult external" pressures/environment and things were routine, at best neutral and almost unimaginative.

In the few short years since, singapore is already looking to revise its gdp projections to a range that matured economies rarely or never see.

It is not just the shift in mindsets from pessimism to super bullish optimisism, but there are many subtle things happening on the ground which impresses me. For one, there is more relaxation of rules and tolerance of individual expressions, and they are not just lip service or piecemeal gestures like before, but bold policies that embraces risks like we have never known before. impt or if you
like strategic policies such as MUP for eg has been changed into for all HIP. That and other policies (ir etc) I find are bold moves that couldnt have happened so swiftly and decisively in the past.

MM recently compared the present team with the old guards very positively. I too felt that this is as best as it gets. But to each his own, and you are entitled to your own opinion.

redbean said...

leaders grappled with different problems and issues at different time. it is very hard to compare who is good or better given the circumstances.

i can agree that hsien loong is working very hard and he has a good civil service with some of the best brains to support him. i say specifically civil service.

but i don't agree with some of the values, premises and assumptions and the concepts. and all decisions and policies are based on these. when these are wrong, they are like the foundation stones, the structure will be unsound as all policies will appear right but wrong.

trying hard is not enough. clever and intelligent also not enough. running a country is not just about how clever or rewarding the winners and the best. it is about the whole country, population and everyone.

it is also about some sacrifice, too much sacrifice is too much to ask for, from the rich to the poor, from the individual to the masses. it is not just a job or a business, making profit and money for the sake of profit and money.

redbean said...

there are good policies and bad policies along the way. different people experience differently. some benefitted a lot and some suffered a lot.

there were big bold moves to reinvigorate the economy. there were many bad passes. our economy pick up and so were othere economy. our stock market shot up, so were others.

when the financial crisis hit us, it was external factors and the world economy. when our economy picks up, it was external factors and the world economy, plus internal factors.

we have hits and misses. at the end of the day are the people better off generally? if the people are better off, the PAP will be returned to power. if not, the pap will still return to power.