Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Video: Speech on Budget Statement 2009, 3 February 2009

The TOC folks seem to have beaten me to it -- here is the video of my speech in 3 parts. The exchanges with PAP MPs are in Part 3. Thanks watchtowerv!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


family man said...

Saw the rebuttal.
Bravo Mr Siew.
There is a bunch of people in PAP - Inderjit, Indranee, Zaqy, Mr Heng. Highly schooled, but all involved in Group think.

I hope PAP realises we are all watching these proceedings, uncensored, and start performing better henceforth.

You, and Mr Low did well. May in cyberspace are proud of you.

Thank you.

Now I hope the presidential council will turn this down, or explain why they are paying part of the CPF of the CEO, board of directors of profitable companies such as SMRT / Delgro, Sing power etc etc.

It is obvious the cost involved, paying CPF of all working Singaporeans - to save the jobs of 1000, 10000 just does not make sense.

And Mr Low mentioned the only thing for retrecnhed workers are a 24 month interest free instalment payment for their taxes, instead of 12 months.


eddie said...


Siew Kum Hong said...

To familyman: Thanks for your kind praise. It was quite an experience for me.

To eddie: My Chinese is not great, so maybe that is why I don't quite understand the linkage between the temporary nature of my proposed retrenchment benefits, and the collection of GST by companies. In any case, thanks for the support.

eddie said...



Christopher said...

Mr Siew, you really should turn the argument around and ask the government on what basis they believe the jobs credit scheme will be more effective than strengthening the safety social net of Singaporeans. Both sides of the argument are rather philosophical, but neither are truly grounded in statistics, which should amaze you because the bureaucracy, aided by thousands of civil servants, came up with this idea in the first place.

As an NMP you are really a 1-man-show vs the hordes of scholars, think-tanks, and committees that are formed to tackle the problem. I would go so far as to agree that this jobs credit scheme is certainly more palatable than a direct CPF cut, but like yourself, I have strong doubts about the efficacy of the scheme.

Since we are dead sure that people will still lose their jobs, what are we going to do about people who might resort to begging on the street, living in darkness, eating just 1 or 2 meals a day etc? Certainly, pumping money into businesses directly has a mildly positive effect, but why not strengthen Comcare? Why not increase Public Assistance? Why not beef up Community Chest? Why not substantially increase funding to MCYS in this budget to support new schemes?

At some point, the whole economic argument collapses. It doesn't matter if your GDP is billions or trillions if you have a substantially-high unemployment rate. Some Singaporeans will have their electricity cut off. Some may get their children to withdraw from school to do part-time work. What do we do about them? This is where targeted assistance is urgently required, on top of whatever jobs credit scheme is effected.

Christopher said...

family man: I am sure the government can afford to dip into its reserves, particularly in these trying times. Government accounting tends to be extremely conservative, such that items that some may deem as revenue are actually categorized as reserves. This artificially increases the budget deficit, but is useful to ensure Singapore's nest egg remains in good shape. We should never be afraid to use it at a time when our economy appears to be falling off a cliff. This should be what nest eggs like our reserves are for!

HarryLKY said...

Mr. Siew,
Congratulations on an excellent speech and a strong rebuttal of the silly attack from the pap troupe. You are indeed a kind man with a good heart. Now I think you are also a brave man.
You have set a good standard for the pap mps and ministers to strive to catch up. Living in a sheltered and comfortable cacoon has dull their senses.
To me the real intention of the pap government has been to prop up the companies. The bottom lines of the strong companies, many of which are owned or related to the government, will be strengthened. This will definitely help them ride out this crisis. Those who benefit will be the top corporate managers, successful local entreprenuers and MNCs.
I hate them for confusing Singaporeans by selling it as something which will benefit the workers which is highly questionable. What is wrong with being truthful and honest with Singaporeans ?
I hate them for being so willing to dip into the reserves to help the business sectors while being so stinggy with helping Singaporeans. Their ideology has over the last 20 years been to discriminate against the small people in favour of the big people.
I hope you continue to soldier on. Good man must step forward to stop the rot.

family man said...

Thank you Christopher.

Yes - use the reserves, I am all for it. But for the retrenched workers.

Not for rich companies to pad their profits and CEO bonuses.

Joshua said...

I am simply amazed at how the MPs who questioned Mr Siew do not even understand the simple logic that Mr Siew has pointed out. I'm know economics, but I know even that trickle-down economics no longer works and why PAP still cling onto this mentality baffles me.

I find myself shouting in anger when Indranee re-explains to Mr Siew what the JOB CREDIT SCHEME is supposed to do, which Mr Siew already knows but doubts can.

It's no longer about ideology. It's about common sense. By watching this video, i come to the sad realization that common sense lost.

Joshua said...

sorry, i meant 'i don't know economics'

eddie said...

我的分析是;1- 救公司才能让公司生存,起码保留原有的生意量。

2- 生意量保留或增加,才能帮政府收取更多的GST,或缴更多的公司税。

3- 国家才能有更充足的GDP,GDP和Budget是相辅相成的,没有丰厚的GDP国人能得到什么好处?国家又能帮忙多少个穷人?

4- 用4.5B的(Jobs Credit)帮忙雇主没错,错在雇用补贴对被裁员的国人实效的百分比有多少?

5- 我认为制造更多的就业机会较为实际。比方,失业者能申请‘To allow 3 moths CPF contribute exemption order ’ from CPF board?他马上会受雇,我打赌!!

Chee Wai Lee said...

Mr Siew, many thanks to yourself (and to Mr Low) for bringing up concerns with the Jobs Credit Scheme that would otherwise have been whitewashed over.

There is one clarification I would like to seek on that scheme. Mr Inderjit Singh responded to either yourself or Mr Low something to the effect that companies who do end up retrenching workers will no longer benefit from the scheme. Is that true?

If it is, then Mr. Low's calculations ($900 vs $7500 over 3 months) would not be the actual fiscal trade-off that companies have to consider. It would seem to me that the trade-off would be the proportion of staff a company has to retrench as a result of falling demand. Given "ideal" circumstances, it would seem worthwhile for companies to continue to keep workers hired as long as they do not have a compelling need to retrench one in nine of their workforce or more. I get this number from the assumption that if even one employee is retrenched, the company will lose the benefit for all it's other existing employees.

It is still clear, imho, that this scheme favors larger companies or companies that do not really need the help anyways. I just wished the government would not be so caught up with the mantra of prevention as to ignore the need to consider schemes to help the people who will inevitably be retrenched in spite of the preventive action. A two-tier solution would definitely make more sense here.

Ganga said...

Thank you and congratulations. You certainly gave a good account of yourself.

I believe you are talking with the belief that what you say is honest. So you need never be intimidated by those who wish to shoot you down. Only those who bullshit should worry because lies and half-truths always have holes...

Siew Kum Hong said...

To eddie and HarryLKY: You may be interested in my latest post with my thoughts on Minister Tharman's response to MPs' speeches on the Budget Statement including mine.

To Christopher: Yes, I did think of that response (to ask for statistics showing that the Jobs Credit scheme will work) -- after the fact, when I re-enacted the debate in my head! I do wish I could think faster on my feet.

The question is really not whether it is better or worse than the CPF cut -- I think everyone agrees that a CPF cut is not ideal, and this is better. But as you said, the question is on the efficacy.

To Joshua: I must admit to having been a little frustrated at some of the questions as well. But I tried my best to explain myself in responding to each of them.

To Chee Wai Lee: To the extent that a company retrenches a local worker, then the company loses the Jobs Credit payment for that worker. But it will continue to receive payments for the remaining workers who were not retrenched.

To Ganga: Thanks for the kind words.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Thank you for the clarification, Mr Siew.

Now I can say for sure that I share your unease about the JCS 100%. Silly of me to have imagined the scheme to be more nuanced and complex than it actually is.

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