ESM Goh Chok Tong with Indian Prime Minister Modi in Singapore. (Photo from MParader)

Simon Lim: Contrary to Goh Chok Tong’s rebuttal that Dr Tan Cheng Bock has lost his way, it is PAP govt that lost its way

by Simon Lim

I strongly disagree with Goh Chok Tong (GCT) that Tan Cheng Bok (TCB) has “lost his way”. It is, rather, the People’s Action Party government that has lost its way over the past two decades. Let me explain.

The first thought that came to my mind is that GCT’s comment in the recent past that PAP ministers are not paid enough despite them getting the highest political salaries of any government anywhere in the world and PAP Minister Grace Fu was then quoted as saying that any more reductions in ministerial remunerations would be hard, at least for her, to consider political office. And not forgetting senior counsel Edwin Tong, who is now Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, chipped in that despite his lucrative political salary, it is also tough on him because he has to support his in-laws…

To top it off, GCT, after more than 40 years in government, commented that those who cannot even earn more than $500,000 annually in the private sector are “mediocre”. I consider that, having it come from none other than GCT, to be the mother of all insults because it either showed arrogance at a very high level or he was completely oblivious to the harsh realities at ground levels despite his decades in politics. There are some very, very fine people and professionals in the private sector such as nurses, executives, managers, technicians and small time self-employed people etc who simply are classified under GCT’s mediocre bunch.

Next, the PAP government has gotten too used to treating Singaporeans as their convenient auto-teller machines. Very high increases for water price, so is it for electricity prices, transport fares, university fees, CPF minimum sums, town council fees, HDB flat selling prices, carbon tax, ERP, GST going up to 9% and still counting.

If that is not considered as a change in the PAP government and the way it runs Singapore, then what is?

Furthermore on the lack of transparency and very, very questionable meritocracy practised by the PAP government. Why was Lawrence Wong so reluctant to disclose the salaries of the top three earners at our sovereign wealth funds of Temasek Holding and GIC when he spoke in response to WP Member of Parliament’s question in Parliament?

Aren’t our reserves managed by our sovereign wealth funds public funds? If the answer is Yes, then where is proper accountability and transparency to the citizens? Transparency, by any standards, has been dragged through the mud. Period.

Lastly, the manner in which the PAP government practises meritocracy is very questionable and even unconvincing among observing and thinking Singaporeans. Senior military officers are deployed to head government organisations and government-linked-companies despite their lack of relevant experiences. Thinking citizens must wonder if all that is wise or could there be other hidden agendas behind such appointments? Think!

If all that and more are not examples and proof that the PAP government has lost its way, kindly prove me wrong.