It is not the govt’s business amass a fortune through taxes, levies and fees, and then use these funds to get into business ventures and other investments.
In 2008, the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council (HBTC) lost $8 million of its sinking funds in bad investments. The HBTC had used the funds to buy what tourned out to be toxic financial products from Lehman Brothers, DBS and Merrill Lynch.
The HBTC financial debacle was a small version of the GIC and Temasek Holdings. Together the twin investment conglomerates, one run by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the other by his daughter-in-law Mdm Ho Chng, lost a total of $140 billion of our reserves.
The Singapore Democrats have made it clear in our economic manifesto It’s About You. It is not the government’s business amass a fortune through taxes, levies and fees, and then use these funds to get into business ventures and other investments.
At the constituency level, we make The SDP Promise that we will not adopt such a high-risk approach if we are elected and put in charge of the town council.
Instead we will channel whatever savings that we achieve back to the residents. And we will do this in consultation with our constituencts.
This approach is in stark contrast with the current HBTC approach adopted by the PAP MPs. From 2002 to 2008, the Town Council had amassed a total of $118 million.
The burning question is: Why is a town council chalking up such a fortune while many of its constituents continue to live hand-to-mouth? In our house visits we met many residents who cannot get by. One lady in her 60s teared up when we asked her for her views. She said that it was difficult to make ends meet. So how does she do it? “Kiam kiam chia loh (eat sparingly),” she replied.
This is why the Singapore Democrats make The SDP Promise that we will not authorise any unsafe investments but instead return the excess funds back to the residents. This can be done in a variety of ways: Embarking on infrastructural projects, lowering conservancy charges, helping needy constituents, etc.
Whatever decision we make it will be done in consultation with the residents.
Our stand is that we are stewards of the people’s money. It is they who decide what they want to do with their funds.
This stands in stark contrast to the PAP’s approach where it insists on being the master instead of the servant. It squeezes every cent from the people and then use the money to generate economic and political power for itself. Worse, it does not allow Singaporeans to know or have a say in how the funds are used.
This will change under the SDP starting with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council.
Read also: The SDP Promise: Our MPs’ pledge