Not uplifting

A student who lives in Hougang (an opposition ward) asked, “PM Lee, I don’t get upgrading, can I pay less tax?”

Seah said, “When it comes to upgrading, what is being told to us is that we don’t have the funds to actually go ahead with lift upgrading, as well as shelters to the bus stops. When I look across the road to Aljunied GRC, they have everything.”

PM Lee’s reply was, “The answer is that there has to be a distinction. Because the PAP wards supported the Government and the policies which delivered these good things.”

Outrageous. This is not a “distinction.” This is injustice.

UPDATE: Full transcript of the forum – Part 1 Part 2

11 thoughts on “Not uplifting

  1. pedro

    Absolutely appalling answer (below): Point 1. Is that even an answer? That’s called “beating around the bush”. Point 2. Same trick. Just now, the US presidents are called ‘overpaid’ now they are called ‘underpaid’. Who on earth makes such arguments? I would like to ask any Nobel Laureates of Economics, Amartya Sen, Joe Stiglitz or Paul Krugman to take him on. In fact, any graduates in Economics should be able to give a better answer.

    Why Obama paid less than S’pore minister

    Q: If I may add on … It has been shown that US President Barack Obama is actually paid less than a Cabinet minister in Singapore. I’m quite sure we agree that his job is a lot tougher than our Cabinet ministers, being the leader of the free world and all. So if that’s the case, how do you justify our ministerial pay being higher than that of Barack Obama?

    PM Lee: Well, there are several answers to this. One is that retired US presidents go on book tours. They write books. They are paid $10 million in advance, they get somebody to help them write at home and they make a lecture tour. Every lecture … their book tour, they make money. Every lecture ? (former US president) Bill Clinton, $100,000 to $200,000 for half an hour. The lecture is more or less the same, whichever one you happen to listen to. But every time you go, he gets paid $100,000 to $200,000.

    That’s the system. I think that’s not a good system for us. We don’t want ministers to retire and go on lecture tours. That’s point number one.

    Point number two, because of the (US) President’s pay being set at a level which is not quite right, so all the rest of the civil service and government pay in the American system has to take dressing from there and come down … And they have a very serious problem because as a result of this, their judges are underpaid, their civil servants are underpaid.

    One year, the Chief Justice, Rehnquist, who’s died now, wrote his annual judicial report to Congress, and he said to Congress: ‘You’re going to have a very serious constitutional problem because a senior judge sitting on the bench hearing the case with junior lawyers arguing in front of him is paid less than a junior lawyer on Wall Street. And where do you think the talent will go and what do you think the consequences will be for our system?’ So that’s their problem, that’s not our problem, but I think we should learn from their problems and try and avoid making that kind of mistake.

    Reply
    1. septian Post author

      lol ya I’m like “what the..” when I read the first point. It does not make any sense and doesn’t really answer the question. It’s as if the retired US presidents go on lecture or book tours to make money. They are not. (The publishers do, riding the popularity of the retired presidents.) Anyway it doesn’t make sense to analyze a non-sensical argument.

      On the second point: I thought that’s why the civil servants are called civil servants? Because, you know, they decide to leave their perhaps better options to serve the country? Of course, we need to reward them properly such that they won’t become poor (“do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” comes to mind), but to reward them extravagantly defeat the purpose of being a civil servant.

      Anyway you can only make sense of it if you buy the PAP rhetorics:

      (1) Singapore lacks talents,
      (2) and since for this case you can’t simply import foreign talents (the easy solution for (1)) to fill the job,
      (3) to get the available local talents as many as you can to serve the country you need to pay them as much as the private sectors do.

      (For that matter, in Indonesia, raising the pay of the civil servants does not solve the problem. In fact, corruption is as rampant as before, if not more. Pay scale does matter, but the real problem, as St. Paul would say, lies within our heart.)

      Reply
  2. pedro

    i was very hesitant to bring to this point, but since you raised the issue of corruption in the politics of indonesia… i can’t stop wondering (and this is my understatement) how this rhetorics serves as the facade of the equivalent of corruption at the little red dot.

    no political system does a better job (of deception) than this. salute to pap and its fellow supporters.

    Reply
    1. septian Post author

      you know what.. actually many Indonesians do not mind about the corruption of Soeharto as long as the country itself prospers.. they feel it’s better than the post-Soeharto era, which is plagued with the same corruption but not with the same prosperity. we call this we-miss-Soeharto syndrome.

      Reply
      1. dpredie

        Demokrasi Terpimpin [Guided democracy]: Corruption under the table
        Orde Baru: Corruption/Stealing on the table
        post-Reformation: they even steal the table!

        Reply
  3. pedro

    > A student who lives in Hougang (an opposition ward) asked, “PM Lee, I don’t get upgrading, can I pay less tax?”

    Viva student initiative! This is the kind of questioning mind that we need in any country. But in many countries, this would have been treated as treason, rebellious or subversive.

    So be thankful, all those of you who are still in S, you are not persecuted, imprisoned or silenced.

    Reply
    1. septian Post author

      last year: SM Goh by an NTU student, this year: PM Lee by an NUS student.

      anyway, just for fun.

      the ruling party said that this election is about finding the fourth generation of leadership in Singapore, while a few elections back it was about the third generation of leaders.

      it really sounds like they want to launch a new iPhone (4G, anyone?) haha.

      Reply
      1. pedro

        no… when i read that… 4th generation of leaders… it is unmistakenly meaning 4th generation of puppets. (i won’t use the word idiots, though it is tempting.)

        the election is really all about who gets to taste the ‘icing on the cake’ to sit in an air-coned parliament, and getting paid for doing NOTHING. just nodding yes, or in some cases, dozing off.

        the more i think about the figures they’re getting, the more disgusted i am.

        would you even say these are politicians? i would not.

        Reply

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