In his Budget, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that the Government would raise taxes on the top 5% of income-earners.
This was what the SDP proposed in 2010 when we published our economic manifesto It's About You in which we said: “Singapore should bring up its tax bracket for top earners closer to the 30-percent mark.”
We repeated this measure in our latest economic paper A New Vision for Singapore in which we call for the personal income tax rate for the top 1% earners to be raised to 28%.
In the 2011 general elections, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan who was leading the PAP team in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, criticised us for proposing to raise income taxes and the GST for luxury items. This was the Straits Times report:
“If you had to choose between the opposition parties who would be the most middle-class unfriendly of them, (the SDP) would certainly be in that shortlist,” says Dr Balakrishnan, pointing to proposals to raise income taxes and the goods and services tax for luxury items, among others.
(In the first place, how did the top 1% become the middle-class?)
Fast forward to 2015 and we have Mr Tharman doing exactly what Dr Balakrishnan attacked the SDP for. This is becoming a familiar trend: the SDP proposes policies which the PAP first criticises and later implements. Other examples are:
SDP proposes: Minimum wage in 2001. PAP criticises: Minister Lim Swee Say criticises that Minimum Wage will erode Singapore's competitiveness. PAP copies: Government introduces the Progressive Wage Model where some low-income workers are paid a minimum wage of $1,000.
SDP proposes: Individual healthcare risks are pooled. PAP criticises: Mr Lee Kuan Yew said: “...nobody derails the idea of having individual accounts for CPF and Medisave. Whatever you earn, it’s yours.” PAP copies: Medishield Life now says that “everyone shares in the national risk pool”.
Singaporeans first policy
SDP proposes: Employers must try to hire Singaporeans first before considering employing foreigners. PAP criticises: Senior Minister of State Amy Khor said that such a policy will not work. PAP copies: MOM introduced the Fair Consideration Framework which “require employers to consider Singaporeans fairly before hiring Employment Pass holders.”
So the next time you hear the PAP and its supporters criticising SDP's ideas, just be patient – it won't be long before the Government puts them into practice.