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The SDP was at the Speakers’ Corner yesterday to repeat its call for the Government to be more transparent and accountable.
In the wake of the NKF scandal, the Singapore Democrats expressed concern about the way public funds are being used and not reported to Singaporeans by the Government.
The speakers were not entirely from the Party. First to speak was Internet activist, Mr Yap Keng Ho, who warned Singaporeans of the need for vigilance on the part of citizens to safeguard our reserves.
“The money does not belong to the ministers,” Mr Yap pounded. “It belongs to the people.” He also pointed out that the NKF was just the tip of the iceberg as there were other instances of non-transparency and non-accountability in the system.
Party secretary-general Chee Soon Juan spoke next. Dr Chee mentioned PAP founding chairman Dr Toh Chin Chye who said that he (Dr Toh) did not believe the statistics that the Government put out and that Singaporeans remained in the dark as far as the reserves were concerned.
Dr Chee also cited the problems that the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong encountered when he, as president, asked for an accounting of the reserves.
Citing the debt problems that TatLee Bank and DBS had when the merged with Keppel Bank and POSBank respectively as examples, the SDP leader said that Singaporeans were entitled to more accounting and transparency from the Government.
SDP Central Executive Committee member and candidate for the Hong Kah GRC in the 2001 GE Mr Lim Tung Hee spoke next. He wanted to see the reform of the legal system where rich and powerful state officials cannot wantonly sue citizens for defamation.
Such an arrangement discourages private citizens to speak out for fear of being sued. The prohibitive legal costs prevent defendants from defending themselves in court.
Another CEC member and candidate for the Jurong GRC in the 2001 GE, Ms Chee Siok Chin, also called on Singaporeans to exercise their rights and guard their interests as fund as public funds were concerned. She called on the Government to reveal their incomes and assets of the ministers for the sake of transparency.
During the talk a bag of peanuts was passed around and the audience gleefully helped themselves to it, laughing at the obvious symbolism.
Several of the members of the audience then signed letters to the Prime Minister.
19 July 2005
The Prime Minister
Republic of Singapore
Dear Prime Minister Lee,
I am extremely concerned and upset over the NKF incident. The revelations of the inner workings of the organization have been shocking to say the least. I am sure you are aware that an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans feel the same way.
But problematic as the NKF is, we fear that it is just the tip of the iceberg. The system that we currently have in Singapore is a much bigger problem. There are many similarities between the way NKF operates and the way the State is run in that there is little transparency and accountability.
As such we would like to ask the Government to do the following:
Establish a public commission on inquiry to investigate fully the accounts of the NKF and its business dealings.
Publish the salaries and assets of ministers and the relatives, starting with their spouses, parents, and siblings.
Publish the salaries and benefits received by MPs from investments, bonuses (if any), perks, and directorships held and/or obtained.
Publish the assets and reserves held by the Government and the investments made by the GIC.
As citizens of Singapore we have the right to know about such information. Thank you.