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RP & SDP respond to Cabinet reshuffle

PRESS RELEASE:

SDP's statement on the cabinet appointments

The question that Singaporeans must ask is not who is appointed to which ministry but rather what policies will emanate from these new ministries.

If there is a lesson in this elections for the PAP it is that the people are fed-up with the it's policies on the cost of living, foreign workers, housing, transportation, education, etc. Shifting portfolios among ministers without addressing these policies only signals that the Government is interested in cosmetic changes.

For example, if Mr Khaw Boon Wan who replaces Mr Mah Bow Tan continues with the Ministry of National Development's policy of not revealing the real costs of constructing HDB flats, Singaporeans will still be in the dark as to how much their flats really cost and how much profit the Government is making from HDB sales.

Without this transparency, we cannot make sound policies that guide the pricing of HDB flats. If this is the case, whether it is Minister Khaw or Minister Mah is of no benefit to Singaporeans.

Therefore, we look forward to each minister coming out over the next days and weeks to clearly articulate the new policies and policy initiatives which we expect to be significantly different from their predecessors. Otherwise, it is a clear message that it is politics-as-usual from this Government.

Also, it is noted that ministers who have performed poorly in the previous Government have been retained and given another ministry. For example, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan who managed the Youth Olympic Games poorly and was heavily criticised for his insensitive remarks about the poor, is now given the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.

And former Environment Minister Mr Yaacob Ibrahim who could not get a grip of the seriousness of the floods that caused so much damage to Singapore now assumes the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts without conclusively dealing with the flood problem .

How will the performance and effectiveness of the Government be raised with such lateral movement?

In addition, we still have Ministers who have been assigned to the Prime Minister's Office without a portfolio (Mr Lim Swee Say and Mr S Iswaran). Exactly what do these ministers do?

Another unexplained set of appointments are the second ministers. What exactly are their roles? How do they assist the ministers? How are their jobs different from the ministers of state?

PM Lee Hsien Loong must explain to the people why he has made these appointments and how these posts help in the more effective governing of Singapore.

Finally, if PM Lee is genuinely contrite and is determined to lead a government that listens to the people, then he will announce an across-the-board reduction in the Ministers' salaries. The astronomical wages  that the Ministers draw, despite the poor performance of the last government, have caused much anger among Singaporeans.

The SDP has recommended that the PM's salary be reduced to $60,000 a month and the ministers' wages follow accordingly.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

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PRESS RELEASE 19/05/2011

The Reform Party www.thereformparty.net

The Reform Party Responds to PM Lee’s Cabinet Reshuffle

We note the announcement by PM Lee today of changes to the Cabinet*.

While it is good that the PM has owned up to the urgency of the need for change, it is clear that the PAP is at a loss where to go from here. The problem is not with the personnel at the head of each Ministry or department but with the policies themselves.  This cabinet reshuffling of the same old figures is not rejuvenation and the same old line up wearing different numbered jerseys can only lead to stagnation. The PAP is wedded to its old policies which are failing, have failed or are simply not delivering for Singaporeans.

The PM is quoted as saying “I wanted a fresh start, and that's why I've gone for a radical change”. But this election we witnessed the PAP put up its weakest slate of new candidates for many years. It is clear that our ruling party has run out of ideas.  As I said at the RP’s final rally on 5th May 2011, if The PM really wants a change we would advise him to pinjam some policies from the first new and fresh political Party to contest an election in Singapore for over 20 years.  [Youtube: Minutes 7:10 for ‘pinjam’ comment.]

Making Mr. Wong Kan Seng, Mr. Mah Bow Tan and Mr. Raymond Lim the sacrificial lambs does not change the fact that their Ministries’ failures are the responsibility of the entire government. Also if Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Mr. Goh Chok Tong are stepping down, why have they been appointed as senior advisers to GIC and MAS and Mr. Goh given the title of Emeritus Senior Minister? After the PM’s comments about the PAP having a monopoly on talent in Singapore, so that there can only be one A Team, it is surprising that the government cannot allow them to enjoy their retirement. Furthermore we feel that the voters of Marine Parade and Tanjong Pagar have a right to feel aggrieved that the ministers and senior ministers they voted to keep in before the election,  stepped down straight after the election. If I bought stock in a company heavily promoting its directors and the day after my purchase the directors stepped down, I would be aggrieved.

We are seriously concerned by the fact that several Ministers are now running more than one ministry after this reshuffle.  This should be a wakeup call to the people of Singapore as it smacks of desperation. (Mr. Tharman acting as DPM, Finance and Manpower Minister and Mr. Shanmugam as Law and Foreign Affairs Minister) This, more than any other factor of the reshuffle shows that the government simply lacks enough talented players. How can we hope for any fresh ideas or talent to emerge from the PAP when they occupy 81 of the 87 seats in Parliament in a top-heavy and extremely expensive structure yet still need to double up?

Failed and failing PAP policies include:

  • An outmoded economic growth strategy which boosts the incomes and employment of Non citizens and their home economies rather than the real incomes of Singaporeans.
  • A housing policy derived from Socialist-era Britain that keeps Singaporeans in almost serf-like dependence on the government rather than allowing them to actually own their own property and live where they want. At the same time, in an effort to win votes and boost the asset side of the government’s balance sheet, the government has embarked on an irresponsible so-called asset “enhancement” strategy of deliberately driving up prices. This both puts the first rung of the property ladder out of reach of young Singaporeans and will have severe consequences for the real economy when the bubble bursts.  There will not be nor ever be a fat middle class in Singapore with this housing policy but instead only a spread of the sandwich classes.
  • A “forced saving” policy (CPF) appropriate to earlier stages of development where the goalposts are regularly moved without Singaporeans having any choice in the matter.
  • A healthcare policy which deters Singaporeans from seeking early treatment for many serious illnesses because of high fees and leaves them facing financial ruin if they develop a life-threatening or high maintenance chronic condition.
  • An economy which is controlled to a large extent by GLCs and where Singaporeans pay higher prices than they need to for many basic utilities and public transport because of lack of competition and/or effective regulation.
  • A non-transparent process of accumulating chronic government surpluses (of the magnitude of over $100 billion over the last ten years excluding surpluses from Temasek and GIC and profits from land sales) without justifying why such large savings are necessary and whether or not a large part of them can be prudently returned to the people in the form of lower taxes or higher spending or dividends.
  • Not one but two Sovereign Wealth Funds whose asset valuation and investment policies are opaque and whose ultimate purpose is unclear. Singaporeans should properly be given transparency and accountability. Indeed The Reform Party calls for them to be given a stake as it is their savings and hard work which has financed this accumulation.
  • A Defence Policy which relies on an amateur conscript force. This labour comes only from male Singaporeans (but not male new citizens) who are then not equitably compensated for their economic sacrifice.
  • Restrictions on the rights and liberties of Singaporeans which insult our intelligence and reduce us to the equivalent of a subject people in our own county.
  • Restrictions on the rights to freedoms of speech and expression which reduce Singapore to the level of a Third World developing or authoritarian state.
  • Obscenely high pay for Ministers which appears to be negatively correlated with the quality of their performance.

When The Prime Minister has finished moving his pieces around he can find some new ideas and our policy proposals here:  http://thereformparty.net/voting-rp/election-manifesto/

 

*http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1129632/1/.html