The secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) Chee Soon Juan has released a video criticising the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) ministers’ high salaries in light of findings by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at the National University of Singapore, which suggested that retirees need at least S$1,380 monthly to get by in Singapore.
In reference to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s election campaign speech in 2015, Dr Chee said: “When we say money is tight for us, he tells us to tighten our belts. Buy cheaper milk powder, eat S$3 economic rice. But while he asks us to eat and live cheaply, he increases his and the ministers’ salaries.”
Dr Chee highlighted that Mr Lee earns a monthly salary of S$200,000 as Prime Minister, while other ministers earn around S$150,000 per month.
Despite the high salaries, said Dr Chee, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was quoted as saying that Singapore’s ministers are “not paid enough”, while Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong suggested that a salary of S$50,000 per month is not enough as he has children, parents, and in-laws to look after.
“What about us? We don’t even earn S$5k a month!” exclaimed Dr Chee.
He added: “When they travel, they fly first class, stay in 5-star hotels, and eat not S$3 meals but S$300 meals”.
In stark contrast, said Dr Chee, “the elderly have to clean tables, wash toilets, [and] be sweepers” because they do not have enough to get by every month, and may also not be able to rely on their children for financial support.
“Some elderly [people] literally work until they die,” he said, citing a news report on an 80-year-old elderly lady who worked day and night in a kopitiam for “seven days a week with two days off a month”, and who eventually passed away after she “went to toilet and sat down” at work one day.
The elderly in Singapore who do not have the capacity to work to sustain themselves, or to alternatively obtain financial help from others, said Dr Chee, are forced to resort to ending their lives, as 129 elderly suicides were recorded in 2017, dubbed “an all-time high” since 1991.
“CPF is your money, not the government’s. The government has a responsibility to the elderly,” stressed Dr Chee.
“When we were young, we worked hard, helped to build up our nation. But when we’re old, the government says, ‘You die your business.’
“Not only does the government not look after the elderly, but it keeps raising prices – water, service and conservancy charges, gas, university, kindergarten, polytechnics, carpark, Internet, Electronic Road Pricing, sugar, diesel, carbon emissions, and Goods and Services Tax,” said Dr Chee.
PAP “Ah Kong” tells his grandchild to work and take his wages: Chee Soon Juan, in his rebuttal of PAP MP Lee Bee Wah’s analogy
Dr Chee also criticised PAP Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah’s “Ah Kong” analogy during Budget 2019 debate in Parliament in Feb.
Speaking in Mandarin, she told an “Ah Kong and Ah Seng” story to remind Singaporeans how generous and caring “Ah Kong” is to “Ah Seng”.
“She doesn’t tell you that the PAP Ah Kong doesn’t work. He tells his grandchild to work and take his wages. He fattens his own bank account, but gives his grandchild only porridge with soy sauce.
“Ah Kong takes the money and goes on vacation, buys expensive items, a gold Rolex watch, sings karaoke every night, opens XO Martell for friends.
“Grandchild says he is hungry, asks for a bit more food. Ah Kong scolds him: “You rascal! I give you porridge, what more do you want? You’re so ungrateful!” Dr Chee illustrated.
“Lee Bee Wah doesn’t tell you where her MP monthly allowance of S$16,000 a month comes from. From us ‘rascals’!”
Value of HDB flats do not appreciate, but instead depreciate; sellers have to pay a levy and return the proceeds from sale to CPF: Chee Soon Juan
Highlighting that “75 per cent of Singaporeans have less than S$500” in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, Dr Chee pointed out that even in the event that one could sell one’s HDB flat, the CPF only carries out monthly returns.
“If you manage to sell it, you think you can use the money? You wait long long. You pay a levy and the rest of the money has to be returned to the CPF,” he said.
He also pointed out that contrary to the PAP ministers’ claims in the past regarding the value of HDB flats, it is “impossible for prices to rise indefinitely” because HDB leases will expire after 99 years of tenure, and even Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong acknowledged that it is difficult to sell 30-40 year old flats due to the depreciating value of the flats.
Dr Chee stressed at the end of the video that he is “not saying everything the PAP does is bad”, but that Singaporeans “have to understand that a party that has been in power for too long will bully the people”.
“The PAP controls the media, and it tells the people that the opposition is bad and out to tear down the country. This is untrue.
“We see how the PAP bullies the people and we can’t ignore this,” he concluded.