The Truth About: Hard Truth of Singapore

Ministers' Pay

25 March 2009


AS A MATTER of transparency and public interest, cabinet ministers are duty-bound to declare their incomes and assets. The Singapore Democrats have been calling, and do so again here, for the Government to make public such information. Unfortunately the demands have met with silence that a cemetery would be proud of.

In 1994, ministerial salaries were amended. They were calculated based on a formula that pegged with the ministers’ pay to the highest paid professions in the country.

The Elections

25 March 2009

IN THE ABSENCE of genuinely free and fair elections, the act of voting becomes a treacherous impostor of democracy. In Singapore, the Elections Department is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office. Because it conducts its business largely away from public scrutiny, many are as convinced of its impartiality as they would be the act of a ventriloquist over the radio.

The Media

25 March 2009

SOON AFTER IT CAME into power in 1959, the PAP started its campaign to rid Singapore of a free media. One of the first victims was the Straits Times, the country’s only morning broadsheet. Then-editor Lesley Hoffman had been critical of the PAP and knew that his days as a journalist in Singapore were numbered when Lee Kuan Yew became the prime minister. For his own safety, Hoffman eventually left the country after which the newspaper was reconstituted. Today, the publication functions primarily to echo the government’s stance.

The CPF System

25 March 2009

WHEN THE PAP became the government in 1959, it increased the CPF contributions through the years, raising them to as much as 50 percent in 1984 and 1985 before the 1985 recession forced the government to bring the rates back down.

The original intent of the CPF was to help workers save for their old age and for them to be less dependent on the state when they are no longer economically productive. Few quarrelled with this notion. Since then, however, the system has allowed members to use their savings to finance their homes, pay medical bills, service insurance policies and even punt on the stock market.

Poverty in Singapore

25 March 2009

THERE IS THIS MYTH that Singapore is a rich country and its citizens are well-taken care of. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1998 United Nations Human Development Index showed that Singapore ranked 28 on the list behind countries like Barbados and Malta.

In fact many households earn so little that they cannot afford to give their children pocket-money for school, resulting in the students going hungry for the day.

Labour

25 March 2009

SINCE THE 1960s when the government used the ISA to imprison trade unionists, the PAP has launched a relentless campaign against trade unions. In 1966, the government passed the Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, making strikes and other industrial actions illegal unless approved through secret ballot by a majority of a union’s members. Sympathy strikes were also outlawed, as was the formation of a federation of unions for workers in essential services.

1-6 7-7