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Sunday, April 16, 2006 

Launch of PAP Manifesto

The whole GE media "agitprop" is getting mundune. Whether be it turning on the television, flipping the newspapers or even drinking kopi at the hawker stalls, it is hard to avoid hearing or viewing GE news and events. In the past GEs, it was always called in short notice to give the opposition an element of surprise. This coming GE will be lengthiest preparation notice given to the oppositions. As you all know by now, yesterday was the launch of the PAP Manifesto. Without trying to add to "comment noises" or give my 2-cents worth on the manifesto, I'll just publish this interesting news report from the Business Times, dated 27 November 2001. And if you are wondering whether a Singapore Politics junkie like me was at the event, maybe some photos would ease your queries. ;)
New Ministers of State will Lose Up to $200,000 per Month in Pay
The seven new people made ministers of state will lose between $10,000 and $200,000 monthly by moving into the political jobs, according to Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

And, going by past records, not all will make it in their new appointments and may have to drop out after a year, he said at the People's Action Party convention on Sunday.

'The losses for the (junior ministers), the few whom I spoke to, I think four of them or so, will range from $10,000 per month to $200,000 per month,' he said.

'Now, this includes very successful specialists in the private sector earning high income ... '

Of the seven, two were top civil servants, two from the corporate sector and three medical specialists: Balaji Sadasivan, a neuro surgeon; Ng Eng Hen, a cancer surgeon; and Vivian Balakrishnan, an eye specialist. Mr Goh, who is the PAP's secretary-general,
said they willingly made the sacrifice and undertook the risk. 'We hope all would succeed but going by past records, I think it would be difficult, in my one view, to expect successes everywhere and in every one of them.'

All they wanted was to be informed as soon as it was decided they are not going to make it, he said. 'In other words, if after one year we think they can't make it as minister, tell them, then they can go back to their private sector life.'

And to help the medical specialists make that return if needed, the government will arrange for them to spend one or two mornings weekly at its hospitals to keep their skills current.

'These are good people but, just in case, they are good specialists but not good in public policy making and they haven't got the political acumen, why should you cause their lives to be hurt more than necessary?' Mr Goh said.

27 November 2001
Business Times Singapore

Many will like to believe you about the candidates who stand to lose financially by going into politics. The spiel about Ng Eng Hen making five times more in the private sector than a minister is pure bunkum. Even when Lee Kuan Yew said Wong Kang Seng suffered a pay cut when he left his Pesonnel Manager post at Hewlett Packard, it was pure bullshit too - a quick check at IRS records will prove the lie. Just as SIA kept quiet about TT Durai flying First Class, there will be other parties who will play dumb to preserve the lie. But you must have facts to back your tale, and your credibility has been pretty good thus far. Maybe they just lied to you.

Hi Jeremy

Thanks for your comments. Well, I didn't said I believe it, and neither should you or any readers. I just mentioned that it is quite interesting to note.

But I do know "one" of them. And yes, he did have a quite a massive lost in income as he has to sell away his several external businesses (may I add that he was a very profitable one - clue: deals with medical machineries). And no, he didn't sell it to his relatives or family and friends. In fact, I think he sold it undervaluation.

Just a thought and of course, there isn't a need to believe what I said.


Hi thrasy:

The manifesto very vague leh.

Why isn't there more measurable things in the manifesto?


Provide affordable health care for all

WE WILL ensure that Singaporeans can afford quality health-care services.

To do this, we will:

# Make hospitals more efficient so they can keep charges affordable;

(Can define what is "affordable" or not? keep cost increase within the next 5 to how many %?)

# Improve MediShield, Medisave and ElderShield to help Singaporeans afford medical care;

(Can define what is "improve" or not? Lower premium and better coverage for medishield and eldershield? How much lower? How much better? Medisave can be use for treatment of chronic illness? Can give a list and amt tat can be used?)

# Continue to subsidise lower-income Singaporeans who fall sick;

(Can say how much? 10% is subsidise 90% is also subsidise leh.)

# Double Medifund to $2 billion to provide additional help for the needy;

(By when? Who will qualify for it?)

# Build a new general hospital in Yishun; and

(when? maybe got say b4 but can say again wat.)

# Help Singaporeans lead active lifestyles and stay healthy.

(This we know, but as I said b4 they always can say again.)

It would be better if the promises are measurable. Then we can treat them as KPIs of the next govt and judge them according how the had fare in fulfilling their promise.

Hey T, do you know if most civil servants are PAP members?

Hi Amatu

I don't have the exact figures but from the "inside" statistics that I've got, less than 1% of the civil service are PAP members and less than 5% of the PAP members are civil servants.

This is becos, Ministries such as MINDEF prohibits army officers from joining the political party. This is the same for other orgnizations such as the police, maybe MAS and other sensitive stat boards. Although Ministries like MOE has no regulations on joining political parties, they implicitly disencourage it. I've got a friend who is a lecturer who joined the PAP. His principal isn't a pro-PAP person and my friend seemingly was "drowned" in work and hasn't got much opportunities for promotion. But then again, don't quote me on that.


Hi at82

Yes, the PAP manifesto is vague, and is deliberatively vague. From a political science viewpoint, it made absolute sense to be vague and all-encompassing, since they are the ruling party.

The reason is that if they take the central position in a spectrum of political viewpoint (meaning the majority benefit for the majority), the oppositions are forced to take opposing (either far left or far right) views. Thus, majority of the Singaporeans will find the views of the opposition radical and seemingly unconstructive. Eg: WP made the four time bombs. But rather, since the PAP has been occupying the central view point, there is no incentive to take similar position. As the PAP has more resources and if the oppositions choose the same ideas with the PAP, Singaporeans would rather choose PAP as they have a better track record and financial resources.

And since they are the ruling party, they have no reasons to risk themselves by putting in controvesial comments or suggestions into their manifesto.

Hope this helps!


The "time bombs" were planted by Ng Eng Hen, not the opposition. The latter merely put on record the key grievances of the long suffering public, namely :
1) Ethnic quota (punishes the minority unnecessarily when flats are resold);
2) Grassroots organisations (spy network for PAP, instead of concentrating on community work which should be non-partisan);
3) Elected Presidency (Ong Teng Cheong revealed the farce on this one);
4) Subsidy for destitute (How come Progress Packages are larger for lower income?)

In this instance, the opposition truly spoke for the people, and the people needs to be heard. The demogogues in PAP, e.g. Dr Ng, shot themselves in the foot for not being close to the ground.

Hi Mei Ling

Welcome to the discussions.

As I was mentioning in the previous comments was that the points made by the WP manifesto cannot and should not be in tandem with that of the PAP. And thus, they have opted to formulate such controversal policies.

While some might say that the oppositions truly spoke for the people, there would be another group that says it don't. Maybe let me just state an example and see if it makes sense. The issue on the elected presidency.

Premises for the argument
1) The elected presidency as the WP mentioned was just a rubber stamp for the ruling govt.
2) Their purpose of removal is to prevent a "double" rubber stamping.
3) The main focus of their ideology is to provide a check-and balance for the PAP.
4) Should the PAP remove the elected presidency, isn't more power given to the PAP instead?
5) Even if the presidency is a rubber stamp, it shares some part of the power. Despite the "flawed" electoral process, the people has got the probability of sending a qualified candidate. No matter how strict the rules, a good number (>5000 people) qualifies such presidency criteria.

Thus, it seemed to be contrary to their main focus: provide check and balances.

So it is a tough call whether the opposition spoke for the people. The purpose is that if they used this manifesto to fight the election, still, they may not convince the majority of, say, Aljunied GRC. Anyway, as I always said, politics is subjective, and I may be subjectively wrong. I just based this on electoral engineering concepts that I've came across...maybe theories remain theories becos they are not practical. =P

Thanks for your comments anyway.


Hi T...
re: your reasoning about the abolishing the elected presidency being contrary to providing checks and balances - well at least more than $2 million per annum of taxpayers' money need not be spent on a redundant rubber stamp.

i feel very disgusted whenever the PAP tell us that some of their candidates have to take a pay cut to join the party. Going into politics is not about making money, it is about serving the people and making life better for them . If these candidates still miss their big pay packet then they should go into politics at all!

Hi Anony

Haha....yes, $2 million can buy almost 3 TT Durai(s)...

The viewpoint of a critic is that the presidency is a rubber stamp, but I disagree. Constitutionally, he is elected by the people can despite the strict criteria, a good number of people qualifies. So I wouldn't say he is a rubber stamp. The importances of a check and balance cannot be underestimated. Take France for example, whenever their is a parliamentary deadlock, at least there is a functional presidency to be in force. Taiwan, if they do not have the legislative yuen to keep in check the presidency, it is hard to imagine what CSB would do.

Hi Lock2ky

Well, I do agree with you. Ultimately, we are all humans dealing with humans. Some may have flawed characters and some good. Corruption is the downfall for all countries if they fail to bring the right people into the leadership. So far, we still have a reasonably good track record. Let's hope it will continue.


Hi thrasy:

But our president has no executive power. His sole purpose is to guard the reserves.

Anyway although i think the elected prez sys in its present form is useless, i think it can be reformed. The 1st thing to do is get rid of the "3 wise men", it shd be replace by some hard rules like no criminal record, CEO etc.

Having the "3 wise men" make the candidate qualifying proceed subjective, this is neither desirable or democratic.

Hi T, sometimes i wonder if you are pro-pap cos your views seem to coincide with theirs. You do spot some critical points but then dilute it thru coercion, which i dont quite undersand.

Honestly, i still dont understand why a citizen should think in the government position as both you and elfred have been telling me to do so. Im not saying the govt is not doing a good job but i think there are rooms of improvements, that's all.

When the govt do not listen to its citizens, who is the govt governing for?

Are you thinking of covering the history of other political parties, existed and existing? It would be nice ;)

Constitutionally, the presidency is elected by the people, despite the strict criteria, a good number of people qualifies. Fully agree. But the presidency has been perverted to a mockery. If you are still in doubt, read SR Nathan's words when it was then rumored that Tony Tan was a shoo-in for the job: "I'm 81, you know? Everybody is speculating. I'm not speculating. I'm hoping to look into retirement," and then reflect on his subsequent "I welcome a contest" remarks when Andrew Kuan threw his hat into the ring.
And if you really want a caretaker to look after the nation's 100s of billions, would you entrust it to a geriatic diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol level, prostatic enlargement and diverticulosis of the colon?

Hi amatu

Most would say that I am pro-PAP but I'd differ. In fact, I'd prefer not to place people into "ideology boxes".

Well, when I was around 18 yrs old (anger in NS), I used to be quite an anti-govt. I hated how the civil service was worked, hated the education system, hated the transport Ministry and hated the leaders. I used to think that they are too distant from us and do not know what commoners like us want.

Then I met someone of "high office" position and I poured out my critics and hatred to him. To my surprise, he didn't put on a defensive stance. Slowly and systematically, he explained the reasons and rationale behind some policies. It was a whole new perspective which I failed to see. It was so well-thought and structured that I could not counter his arguments. Then he posed some questions to my solutions and I realised how flawed my argument is. The challenge is not to slam down his argument but to think of ways to deconstruct it.

So often, we have our biasness against the policies or the govt. It is easy to fault the system, but that is not the way to view politics. To understand the system, why it works that way and the reprecussions of our own suggestions and policies is the positive way forward. Why do we need to see from the govt's position? If we can't understand the system, how could we criticize the system? And a lot of the policies they implement are not as straight forward as most think.

If you truly want to critique their policy positions, you will not only need to see from their view point but need to know the expected results of the policies stretched over a long period. It is easy to question but we need to open ourselves to different perspectives. A lot of times, we thought the govt are doing silly things. But a group of intelligent people can't be that silly most times. Occassionally, they make mistakes, so do we. Only difference is that they have a better track record than us. Yes, sometimes they are out of touch (as MM demonstrated on CNA).Every position of power would be prone to that.

First, we need to understand the different viewpoints. Question the viewpoints. Evaluate our viewpoints and then provide answers and solutions to our questions. Test your solutions for any latent reprecussions. By then, don't be surprise if you have the similar viewpoint of the govt.

The bottomline is that politics is not straightforward questioning. But a continuous path of self-seeking, seeking for answers to your own questions. There are faults of a populist society and a autocratic society. Ultimately, we need to know the elusive end we are chasing for, not picking up stones along the way. I think you have the potential to further your interest in politics. Now that you found your voice to question, go one step further and critique the viewpoints of yours and the govt. Present your argument and open yourselves to viewpoints. Maybe that is the only school of politics society can provide.

Yes, I plan to write on Lim Chin Siong who broke away from the PAP and formed the Barisan Socialist party. Sorry for the lengthy answer to your short question. =P

Take care!

"But a group of intelligent people can't be that silly most times" - but Goh Chok Tong seems to be on a winning streak these past weeks? Politicians don't need to be geniuses - administrations need the brainpower for the number crunching. Politicians need to have charisma and leadership skills, so that when they say "charge!" the people will follow. How can you follow a Prime Minister who acts against the wishes of the people e.g. casino? How can you follow someone who, in his own words, "will put you down" if you step out of his bounds? I can hear the argument, when Saddam Hussein was in charge, there was peace in Iraq. Mussolini also made the trains run on time. One will not fault the thinking that politics has to do with jobs, housing and medical care. But, as in the NKF instance, it's no good raising $1 for medicare when only 10 cents is actually spent on the patient. Ditto if the Minister buys $12 million bungalows (for himself) and $2 million condominium apartments (for each of his children) while the average HDB heartlander is struggling to make payments for rent and utilities. It hurts more when we read about "clever future leaders" who actually says things like "One thing I didn't know about ordinary Singaporeans until I started grassroots work is... there can still be poverty in a developed country." (PAP candidate Teo Ser Luck, Straits Times, 31 March 2006)

Hi guys

I guess I've stirred up a honets' nest. The comments seem to be ceaseless. But I wouldn't mind a single bit. Lets have a discussion over these issues. Allow me to reply on each one.

Hock Seng,
Your comments sounded like those posted by anonymous, previously. Not sure if you all are the same person. Anyway, no probs.

Yes, I agree with you on the GCT bit. Well, previously, I also said that GCT's election comments deeply irritated me. By read JBJ's book on his accounts on the Cheng San battle in 1997, I am not surprised by his current showings.

As for the Prime Minister and casino issue, I've said also that even if they put it to referendum, Casino might still get a go ahead from the public. Well, it might be the case of a vocal minority vs a quiet majority. Thus, it is difficult to say if he went against the wishes of the people. Nonetheless, they have handled the issue poorly. Almost a la "hundred flowers" campaign.

I think not surprisingly, many didn't think well of the new candidates. Same here and for you as well.

at82 and Anonymous,
I guess the constitution on the presidency needs refinement and adjustment. Relatively, it is still in the making and evolving. So lets just see if they could introduce the bill in the coming term.

Anyway, if there is any private comments which you wish to bombard me with, feel free to drop me an email. So far, I guess I've answered all mails to reach me. *fingers crossed*


Hi T, thanks for your lengthy reply. However, i still dont understand why should a citizen should see from the govt perspective. Shouldn't it be the other way round?

Of course, if you are talking in terms of politics ie. lack of level-playing field, the stronger party retaining control in the parliament, powerplay, i would have no qualms about it. There is nothing wrong, isnt it? The survival of the fittest.

There is no doubt that PAP is the strongest and longest political party in power in singapore and in the world - according to LKY from the recent programme on 12/04/06 by implication of comparing with LDP of japan which was 30++ years. In fact, one has to acknowledge the fact of their capability.

From your reply, you convinced me that you are pro-govt and there is nothing wrong with it, right?

Hi amatu

No prob. So far the only truly egalitarian form of govt I know of is ancient greece. But that didn't last long. Next closes, is Holland amsterdam. Anything goes that. But is plagued with vices. They took the record longest time to get people's approval to remove chew gums and the streets. haha....never really did happened.

I guess to most I am pro-PAP. It fine, I don't put myself into ideology boxes. I just find it strange as the "internal circle" said that I am too pro-oppositions. I guess you can judge me in diff perspectives as well. =P


Hi Thrasy:

From PAP pt of view of course u are pro-opp lol. Nevertheless u are still on PAP side. Which is fine and good.

What I cannot stand is ppl who think their side is always right and full of self-rightousness.

Anyway, i think nordic countries are pretty egalitarian. I hope I day we can become somewhat like them, but perhaps without the crushing income tax lol...

Hi T, i will take it as an admission of your position, being pro-govt.

Whether a society is egalitarian, communistic, capitalistic, socialistic is not of a concern for me. As simple as it is, i just think that the govt should serve its citizen and not its own interest, regardless of the model system. Im not saying that there is a perfect model. I do agree with the approach of our govt being sovereign of its own without following others blindly, but i find that the lack of connecting with the citizens a serious need for concern.

Take the recent programme of MMLee dialogue with the journalists. I certainly agree that the younger generation is lacking of manners, and we have to ask why are they behaving in such a manner.

There is saying that goes,'Like father like son'. I do hope this is not the case.

If PAP wants to have a longer legacy, it should reflect on its approach. Should they start listening to what the kids have to say or insist that the parent is alwasy right.

MM lee is a dead wood that is choking the river of freedom and progress. the wind of change is here in singapore now , like it or not it is here to stay.. no one can stop the time from moving forward.. period.. our great PM lee needs his 83 yrs old father to win election for him , ha ha .. so shameful .. a true man stand on his own two feet and fight his fight .

posting by at82 is an eye-opener.


Hi JiPuo:

U are not mocking me are u? lol

No, I'm not.
rotf. y take it negatively?

as in the wrd i saw - 诚!

Hi "A new and true republic"

I guess you have your own views and any comments wouldn't change that view. So I shall not attempt it anyway. haha...

Hi At82 and Amatu
As I've told some of my friends that the MM dialogue was a horror show. To be honest, it will do the party good if he steps down gracefully. There is a generation gap and it will always be.


enjoyed your posts:D

Would it be too troublesome to request to cover on the political scence in Singapore regarding defamations in the 1980s-present day??? Interested to find out what happened in the 80s...

TIA and look forward to your future postings:D

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The Idealist

  • Thrasymachus
  • Propagating In: Singapore
  • The Critic, The Philosopher, The Pragmatist, The Moralist, The Egalitarian, The Confused, The True-Blue Singaporean
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