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Yesterday, Dr Chee Soon Juan posted on Mr George Yeo’s Facebook to invite the Minister to an online debate (see here and here). This set off an exchange of messages which we think readers might be interested to read.
Dear Dr Chee
May I suggest you write to the PAP as what you propose seems rather formal.
I don’t really want my FB activities to be so formal or serious. I am happy to engage as and when issues arise, but I do so as an individual without getting the PAP or MFA involved. Short responses, not long exchanges if possible. So far it has been fun for me and I hope to keep it that way. Hope you understand.
Thanks for your reply.
I have this impression that you are saying that you don’t want to debate the issues without really saying so.
First, you say that you don’t want your Facebook to be so formal or serious. And yet you use a picture of yourself in a business suit sitting in front of the Singapore flag with Hillary Clinton, obviously using your status as Foreign Minister.
Second, you say that you don’t want to involve the PAP or MFA in the discussions. You are a minister and obviously a senior member of the PAP. How do you discuss political issues, as you are obviously doing with your FB visitors, without involving the PAP or the ministry you’re in charge of?
Can an NSman say that he wants to discuss military matters on his FB (informally) but without involving the SAF? I hope you see the difficulty of your argument.
Be that as it may, I would be grateful if you could pass my message for a debate on to your secretary-general at your next CEC meeting. I’ll write to Hsien Loong separately.
On this note, let’s start a discussion. We can make it as informal as you want it to be but let’s take it seriously. I can appreciate your sentiments about keeping your FB activity fun. But I think our fellow citizens would be aghast if we treated such weighty issues flippantly.
And if you insist, we can suspend the notion that you are a member of the PAP or cabinet.
I’d like to start with these three matters:
First, about your salary. Do you think you deserve the amount (it’s nearly $3 million at last count, I believe) and are you comfortable with this knowing that the poorest of our poor whom you and your colleagues rule over are paid as little as $400 a month? Economically is this just? Morally is it sustainable?
Second, do you consider the Public Order Act that allows even a lone protester to be considered an illegal assembly constitutional? Also, organisations like the PAP Community Foundation and CASE are allowed to hold assemblies and processions while democracy activists are not. Is this fair? Constitutional?
Last but not least, is it right that the GIC and Temasek handle our national reserves but don’t reveal the accounts and don’t account for their transactions? What do you think about Ho Ching staying on as CEO after losses of $40 billion?
Happy National Day!
Dear Dr Chee
I use a range of pictures for my FB accounts, some serious, some not so. Hillary was a celebrity in Phuket.
On salaries, the Public Orders Act and accounts of GIC and Temasek, there were extensive debates in Parliament which I don’t think I can add much to, or subtract from. I believe the questions you ask were specifically replied to in Parliament.
On foreign visits, I often receive favourable comments about how Temasek is run. A number of countries actually hold Temasek up as a model to follow.
Happy National Day to you too!
I put a few issues to solicit your personal views because it was you who said that you didn’t want to involve your party or your ministry in the discussions. But in your reply, you cite Parliamentary debates and say that the questions I asked were specifically replied to in Parliament.
Aren’t these the views of your party that you didn’t want to involve in the first place?
I ask again: What are your personal views about the amount that you are paid and do you feel you deserve it? What do you think about Singaporeans getting paid $400 a month? Do you think this is morally and economically defensible? Don’t worry about the Parliamentary debates, I would like to hear what you as an individual think.
I also asked you about the Public Order Act and whether it is fair and constitutional for PAP supporters to hold processions and assemblies while supporters of the opposition are not. Again, I’m asking you for your thoughts and views, not those of your colleagues in Parliament.
Third, I asked you whether you thought that Ho Ching should stay on as CEO despite her losing $40 billion. You avoided my question by saying that other countries hold Temasek up as a model.
It’s okay if you don’t want to answer my questions. I would be grateful, however, if you would say it plainly rather that skirt the questions and give non-answers.