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14 Nov 06
Could there be anything worse than the Government raising the GST to 7 percent when Singaporeans are hurting economically, especially those in the lower income groups?
Yes, the spin that raising the GST would benefit those in the lower income groups.
Ignoring all the data showing that the poorest households continue to see their incomes fall, the Government makes bald assertions that its latest move to increase the GST would in fact benefit these people.
PM Lee Hsien Loong tells Parliament that it is good to increase the GST while the economy is good. This begs the question: Good for whom?
While the rich continue to get richer, many of whom are not Singaporeans, poor Singaporeans are left with nothing but desperation. The number of suicides, mental illnesses, crimes and divorces has mushroomed in recent years and is a result of the Governmentment’s heartless economic policies.
All this while PAP Ministers live the good life by paying themselves millions of dollars in salaries, oblivious to the hardship and toil of the average Singaporean.
Yet the elite of society remains unrepentant. It even derides the working class for not having the wherewithal to make a success of life. Worse, PAP MPs continue to chide Singaporeans for “complaining” and not taking enough responsibility.
In the meantime, Government entities like Temasek Holdings make reckless decisions that cost Singaporeans billions of dollars in questionable business ventures.
Is the GST hike, set to rake in almost $1.5 billion for the Government over two years, an attempt to recoup the losses made over the Temasek-Shin Corp and Singtel-Optus deals?
The horrendously careless acquisition of Shin Corp may incur losses of up to $3 billion while the much-criticised ownership of Optus stands to face a write-down of up to $8 billion.
In addition, has the Government been transferring our reserves to state-owned enterprises to prop these companies up since the Constitution was amended in 2004 to allow this?
Sadly, however, no answers will be forthcoming. Worse, the PAP is thumbing its nose at Singaporeans and saying: “So what if we increase the GST? What are you going to do about it?”
This is because the system manipulated by the PAP shields it from having to account to the people. It does not allow Singaporeans to speak and vote freely which means that we will continue to live under the thumb of the ruling elite.
Depending on their mood, ministers will from time to time encourage citizens to speak up. But make no mistake: this is not a change of heart. It is just a ploy to mollify the electorate and give them a chance to let off steam.
The Singapore Democrats feel the frustration and the anguish of the people. But without our rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, citizens are powerless to make the Government more responsive to our needs.
Without citizen power, the Government will not have to consult the people and it can do as it wishes, when it wishes.
The SDP will continue to raise issues concerning the welfare of our fellow citizens. This remains our priority. But in order to help the people to improve their quality of life and welfare, we need to work to take back our democratic rights without which we will continue to be at the mercy of the PAP.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
14 Nov 06