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May Day message from Chiam See Tong

MEDIA RELEASE

My fellow Singaporeans,

A happy May Day to all of you! I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all Singaporean workers – your hard work is the reason that our country has grown by leaps and bounds over the years.

I want to pay special tribute to our manual labourers, as they struggle with decreasing wages and high inflation in Singapore.

Here I wish to share 3 main issues which concern me and the SPP.

1. CPF

The Singapore government is probably the only one in the world that does not have to fund its national pension scheme, as CPF monies are Singaporeans’ own money. There are no “national pension obligations” as in other countries.

Also, we are possibly the only country in the world that pays its citizens as little as 2.5% on its pension fund, while Temasek Holdings and the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) had annualized returns of 17% (S$) and 8.2% (US$), respectively in 2011 (Figures from reports on the websites of Temasek Holdings and GIC.).

Therefore, we may well be the only country with a government that borrows money from the enforced savings of its own citizens at a mere interest rate of 2.5%. The excess investment returns are then kept by the government.

Imagine your uncle asks you to save and invest 36% of your income through him. He gets a return of 12% and gives you 2.5% of it. The excess returns are kept by him. He also tells you that you have no choice, because only he knows how to take care of you.

Would you not want to question your uncle about his strange investment policy?

2. Public housing

The HDB was set up to provide affordable public housing for Singaporeans. Over time, government has placed Singaporeans in a pressure cooker. 20 years ago, a 4-room flat in Delta Avenue cost about $50,000. Today, the same flat costs about $500,000.

But have our salaries increased by that same proportion of 10 times? A worker earning $2,000 per month 20 years ago certainly does not earn $20,000 today.

What is the basis of the increase in price? Have the costs of building an HDB flat increased by 10 times? This is definitely not true.

We will have to push the government to reveal the real costs of building a HDB flat and to ring-fence public housing as a basic necessity for Singaporean citizens.

3. Healthcare

It was disclosed in Parliament recently that between 2006 and 2010, MediShield collected an average of $131 million more in premiums each year than it paid out in claims.

This means the scheme earned more out from Singaporeans than the amount it paid out. The national healthcare insurance schemes of most countries are funded on a break-even basis. Why is our MediShield accumulating huge surpluses? This is inconsistent with what we are told about the aim of the Medishield.

A onetime Medisave top-up was announced in the recent Budget 2012 to help cushion the impact of the premium increase. This top-up may not necessarily be used to pay increased MediShield premiums, as they may be instantly wiped out by medical bills or past bills in arrears.

Why is it that instead of using the $86 million Medifund surpluses over the last three elections to support the MediShield Fund, the government transferred it to the protected reserves? We see no reason in putting the cost burden on Singaporeans.

Speaking up for you

The SPP wants to speak up for you Singaporeans on these issues. We have a policy working group that looks at ensuring a fairer model of economic growth. Our NCMP brings these ideas to Parliament, while also keeping the PAP government accountable for their policies.

We set up the Potong Pasir Welfare Fund for needy residents of the constituency. An ongoing initiative independent of the government, this makes Potong Pasir the only constituency in Singapore with such a fund.

We have a long term strategy of fighting for your interests in the above areas. We hope you will join us in this journey for a better Singapore for all Singaporean workers. 

 

Yours sincerely,

CHIAM SEE TONG

Secretary-General, SPP

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