Wednesday, 1 October 2008

RIP JBJ (5 January 1926 - 30 September 2008)

I went to JBJ's wake yesterday to pay my respects. I did not know the man, but certainly know about his achievements. I have heard him speak before and also have his book. JBJ is a true son of Singapore. Regardless of whether one agrees with his approach or views, nobody can deny that he was a brave man whose perseverance, dedication and passion is an inspiration to all of us.

I told JBJ's sons -- Philip and Kenneth -- that he was a good man. I only wish that I had someone else's eloquence, when she said:

"He has done so much for Singapore. But what have Singaporeans
done for him?"

And that is a question that I have to ask myself as well.

* Photo copyrighted by Lim Soon Chung, who also has a gallery of some great JBJ pics.


LuckySingaporean said...

I think this would have been a more appropriate quote/question:

"He has done so much for Singapore...but what has the Singapore govt done TO him..."

Siew Kum Hong said...

To luckysingaporean: Well -- quite apart from what has been done to him -- what has Singaporeans done in support? And here, I have to hold my own hands up and say "mea culpa".

DK said...

It's a great lost for Singapore.

Chee Wai Lee said...

In my opinion, some of this is down to the prevailing culture in Singapore that we "must" have winners and losers in politics.

Just because someone disagrees with me, I "must" crush him. This is something I feel the nation must learn to clean up eventually.

I did not agree with JBJ on a good number of things, but I would have been honored to have a nice chat with him on politics over lunch if so invited. That is an attitude I do not seem to see of many Singapore politicians, ruling or otherwise.

Best Regards,
Chee Wai

Salary said...

I think it is a wrong question to ask what have Singaporeans
done for JBJ. It is more likely he wanted Singaporeans do something for themselves instead of for him.

JBJ had a political ideal to bring democracy and reform to Singapore. What he had done for Singaporeans is along this line of his political ideal.

However, we should only support his political ideal if and only if we agree with it. We should never subscribe to his political ideal merely because we are touch by what he had done for us.

JBJ wanted democracy for this country. That means for every individual becoming concerned citizen exercising their social / political rights.

I believe that is what JBJ wanted for us to do for ourselves. I don't think he wish us to do something for him like supporting him or his party just because he had done so much for us.

vertigoer said...

"So is this how liberty dies, to thunderous applause?" Star wars

Singapore politics is a sad situation of Civil servants climbing "corporate" ladder.

Man of Ideas said...

Much has been said of the late opposition leader's strength of tenacity and unwavering belief.

Jeyaretnam is to me a 'Titan of the Singapore's Opposition' though I do not understand or subscribe to the belief of the opposition leader.

No government in the world is perfect. In fact, will it not be scary if there is a perfect government because there will then be no improvements!

The PAP has been going a good job though the system is not 100% perfect for every Singapore.

I applaud the late opposition leader's lifelong rallying to bring changes to Singapore, though in Mr Chiam's word, theses changes may be rather ahead of time.

Nevertheless, I pay my respect to the late Jeyaretnam for his immense strength of tenacity and his life-long dedication and efforts in his belief.

family man said...

From TOC:

" “Households to see average rise of about 21% in electricity bills from Oct” (CNA, Sep 29).

Singapore Power’s Net Profit After Taxation increased by 72 per cent from $ 630 million in FY 03/04 to $ 1.086 billion in FY 07/08 - an annualised increase of about 15 per cent per annum."

Could some of the 84 MPs Please ask the Parliament what is the expected profits for Singapore Power for 2008 given the current business model of using Natural Gas to fuel our electricity, but charging the citizens Fuel prices. Is there a better costing model that will reduce the burden of the expenses of its citizens instead of enriching the coffers of Singapore Power and its 'shareholders'?

Thank you.

family man said...

Givven all the hefty price increases of services, Could some of the 84 MPs please ask - given the past 6 months of the financial year, what is the budget surplus or budget deficit so far? Or can we tell only in May next year?

family man said...

Will any of the 84 MPs read this article and show some semblance of intelligence in parliament?

Will the Straits Time editors please ask the right questions in the editorials.

I read the coverage of JBJ in ST today and wanted to cry. It was a word for word 'condolence letter' of the PM. It was a statement from the government. And I had to pay 10cents to 20 cents more per month to read this government pronouncement.

What did the editors do? A cut and paste job?

Chee Wai Lee said...

Mr Siew,

Is there a part of your blog that details exactly what an MP's duties are?

I'm now quite curious to know what each and every one of our MPs actually does as opposed to what they are supposed to do.

Where do we get access to parliamentary records (issues discussed, presence in parliament and individual MP voting records)? Why is it I am unaware of PAP MPs (and sometimes even opposition MPs) raising issues facing the nation and why does it seem that most of the interesting issues raised have so far come from NMPs or ministers?

Best Regards,
Chee Wai

zhummmeng said...

Sorry Mr. Siew for the digression on the posting.
I feel compelled to ask you to represent the interest of victims of the MINIBOND and other structured products in the next parliament sitting by highlighting to the members the miss-selling and misrepresentation by the intermediaries, the banks and their consultants.
The current fiasco would have been mitigated if the MAS has been sincere and serious in their oversight of these esoteric products and regulating the behavior of the intermediaries in the conduct of the selling process.
If the section 27 of the FAA has been vigorously applied and enforced this fiasco again would not have happened,ie the consultants whether they are insurance agents or RMs didn't product push to the unwary, uneducated and clueless customers and used a need based approach to the needs of the customers.The whole fiasco is due to product selling and pushing and the financial circumstances and the needs of the customers were not considered and this resulted in the recommendations not of reasonable basis and which section 27 of the FAA requires.
To prevent this from happening in the future I hope you bring to attention the need to tweak and enforce the existing guidelines.
1. to stop product selling and to enforce section 27,ie need based selling.
2.the reward system, ie commission based, need to be changed to prevent conflict of interest
3. the current licensing exam requirement is too very low to be of any skill to dispense 'best advice'(FSA definition)to the consumers.
4. the financial products need to be stringently assessed for its suitability for consumers before allowed in the market.
5.The insurance companies and the Banks must be responsible for all misconduct by their intermediaries and product failure.
6.MAS should NOt allow the FIs to self regulate. The current debacle in US is due to this. Self regulation is no regulation. FIs don't shoot their own foot.Malpractices are condoned. Their bottomline is more important.
Mr. Siew , I want to thank you on behalf of the consumers in advance. I hope you bring up these issues for mention. I remember many years ago the government refused to discuss or rather some MPs objected to the discussion because of the repercussion on the insurance agents and FIs business.
But a fair level playing is needed so that all players play by the same rules. Malpractices happen becuase some players are not playing according to the rules and able to get away scotch free. This is unfair to other players and to the consumers who landed up having toxic products.
Thank you again, Mr Siew.

LuckySingaporean said...

Mr. Siew,

Going ahead, everything seems to indicate that that the recession we are entering will be a deep and long one - a once in a lifetime type of thing.

Unfortunately, we kept going with a huge income gap for the past decade focussing on growth rather than income distribution. Many are going into this recession without savings because cost of living rose fast and the bottom 30-40% of the population couldn't save. The situation will be worse than 1998 because many will hit ground zero the moment they lose their jobs. I think a systematic approach to give aid has to be in place and clearly articulated to the people to relieve the stress and anxiety.

I hope we are not going to do what we do in 1998 Asian crisis. Everything was piecemeal, people were highly confused and just went to the MPs for help not sure if they will get anything and for how long.

We know the problem will come and will be bigger than ever before because of the large income inequality that was maintained over such a long period - many will get into trouble through no fault of their own. Are we going to wait and react...? That will mean unnecessary pain in extraordinary circumstances.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Mr. Siew,

I'm sorry the thread has sort of digressed, but Lucky's comment about the income gap has brought into mind a troubling statistic published by MOM:

If you look at the entry for "Hotels and Restaurants", you will find that income has stagnated from 1997 to 2006, going from an already low average of S$1300 to about S$1400. So, either an entire class of workers are failing to see their income match rising costs OR (hopefully) this is a transient job market (McDonald's rather than hawker center staff, maybe?) where few workers stay.

Is it possible to raise this in parliament and have MOM investigate and see if workers from this section of the workforce require help?

Feels to me "ordinary" MPs only care about local day-to-day issues raised by their constituents (who would only raise such issues). Frankly, I consider myself your "constituent" on National issues because I do not think anyone else would care.

Siew Kum Hong said...

To all: I've been travelling the past week and a half or so, hence was not able to respond earlier.

To salary: I think it is possible to honour the memory of the man, without necessarily subscribing to his beliefs. An inability to recognise that is to inextricably conflate the man with his beliefs, which is unfortunately something that the establishment in Singapore seems to subscribe to. I don't think any of those who wish to commemorate JBJ's memory want to "[support] him or his party just because he had done so much for us", as you suggest.

To man of ideas: I agree completely.

To family man: As I've mentioned in another response to another comment, some MPs (Ellen Lee, Lee Bee Wah, Sylvia Lim and Ho Geok Choo) have filed PQs next week on the electricity fee hike. Looking at their questions, the question of pricing is something that will be addressed. As for the budget surplus or deficit, I don't think now -- halfway through the Government's fiscal year -- is an appropriate time to judge. In any case, I am not sure that the "services" you refer to, the prices of which have increased, are really government services that would show up on the Government's books.

To chee wai lee re your first comment: Not really. You can get access to Parliamentary records (for the current year at least) via the Parliament website. As for MPs' duties, you can try Wikipedia.

To zhummeng: The question of fair selling of financial products is definitely something I will speak on next week. Watch this space.

To luckysingaporean: I agree, and it is something I have touched on before, albeit not in those words.

To chee wai lee re your second comment: This issue is not peculiar to that sector. It is in fact a known and much-debated phenomenon afflicting lower-skilled and lower-income workers. You can see the trends from the Household Expenditure Surveys and Census reports (available at the DOS website, see link on the right of my blog) over the years.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Thanks for the response, Mr Siew, I appreciate it. I'll check those links out.

zhummmeng said...

Mr. Siew,
I hope you ask the minister concerned why section 27 of the FAA is not enforced seriously. If it is why product pushing or selling is still allowed and encouraged in the Know Your Client(KYC) form. It should be removed as an option if MAS desires that all advisers consider the needs of the consumers first before recommendation of the products and not putting the cart in front of the horse. That is what went wrong in this minimomb debacle. There were a lot of product pushing resulting in mis-selling and misrepresentation.
I hope you can include this issue in the up coming session on Monday.
Thank you for being pro-people especailly the man in the street.
Looking forward to watching you on TV.

family man said...

Following SM Goh Comments about how citizens should keep money in CPF and earn 4% - and basically left Singaoreans in the lurch as head of MAS, we Singaporeans should really thank HKMA for showing MAS clear leadership and guidance over the past weeks.

I wish SM Goh happy retirement, so as to save taxpayers' money.

Thanks Mr siew for your help.

family man said...

I read the reply from Mr Iswaran on electricity charges.
From what I gather 80% of electricity is from natural gas.
Since 2004 they have been overcharging consumers with a 3 month forward fuel price, while the cost price was a much lower natural gas price.
All the time consumer was enriching the Govt owned Singapore Power / PUB.
With the price increase in fuel, Govt feels it is not right to change the pricing scheme to enrich the consumers, as it would discourage Singapore powers (wholly owned by Govt) from investing in future infrastructure.

And it will probably spoil its plans to privatise Singapore powers if the cost structure is amended as no one would buy the privatised gas company if it charges a lower natural gas rate and profits go below $1bil.

And this future privatised gas is supposed to be good for consumers.

Yah, right. And all 84 MPs are supposed to agree quietly with this logic.

We pay the ministers millions so they can overcharge its citizens on basic utility like electricity. Whatever smart ideas these minister get, it is not to enrich the citizens, but to enrich Singapore powers by billions in profit.

Imagine, if our R and D comes out with power generated by solar or wind power, will our electricty price go down?

Unlikely, it will continue to be artificially propped high at oil fuel prices, to discourage wanton usage - forget about enriching our citizens on a monthly basis - give them only at election time.

Yesterday was a bad day, and we have many MPs asking how we can continue to fatten the goose, while its citizens face possible retrenchments - sure insensitivity.

Our reserves is for our future children? Please, my parents builtup the reserves, and it is not for us - it is for GIC and Temasek to punt the market. Meanwhile, they are not allowed to withdraw at 55 cos Minister says my dad will have a fling here, a fling there in Bintan, so they have to continue working even when they have CPF as GIC needs the money.

While Mr Tony Tan was smug enough to say Temasek and GIC would not indulge in sub prime assets since long ago, MAS (probably under PM Lee's watch) has allowed DBS to indulge wantonly in sub prime assets, and MAS allow DBS to resell to retailers, and now all 10000 individuals have to make 10000 individual complains, so as to protect DBS' interest.

I will remember this day for a long long time. Sure, continue to raise prices - a sure way to fatten the proverbial goose and pluck our shells. raemx

Thanks Mr Siew for allowing me this space to rant.

Siew Kum Hong said...

To zhummeng: I think it's still early in the game. It's not clear to me that MAS has declined or will decline to enforce Section 27 of the FAA -- that statement suggests that MAS will, despite having ascertained breaches of Section 27, not take any action. I think we've not got there yet. So let's see how things play out.

To family man: Re electricity pricing, you may want to read SMS Iswaran's reply in full. Para.3 explains that in Asia, there is no separate and distinct market for natural gas, and so the price of natural gas is indexed to the price of fuel oil. So that explains why the Government consistently refers to the price of fuel oil when 80% of our power comes from natural gas.

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