This is an open letter written by Singaporean social activist, Roy Ngerng, probing MP Desmond Lee on the PAP’s governance of Singapore and its fair treatment of Singaporeans.
I read your latest statement on the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).
You said, “AHPETC has yet to explain its serious financial mismanagement, and the S&CC arrears.”
You also said, “Instead, we have seen a coordinated online campaign to distract the public, using falsehoods, half-truths and speculations, by friends, sympathisers and proxies of the Workers’ Party (WP).”
And you said, “The aim is to confuse the public and distract them from the real issues.”
“This is what the WP often does when caught under the spotlight – raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that they have not come clean,” you said.
Imagine my amusement when I read your statement.
Desmond, I, of all people, would know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a coordinated online campaign.
And you, of all people, would know what it feels like to launch such a coordinated campaign, as your party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), has been so fond of doing.
When I was sued by your prime minister, your party launched a coordinated online campaign to discredit my character, for what reason, you and your party know all too well.
Since I was sued, your party’s moles, or the Internet Brigade (IBs) as they are affectionately or unaffectionately known, rampaged my blog and criticised not only my character but also used “falsehoods and half-truths” to mislead the people.
For the sake of the freedom of speech, I have not stopped them from doing so.
Your party claimed to “always be on the side of Singapore and of Singaporeans’” but your actions show otherwise.
The IBs also attacked my Facebook page and left personal and offensive remarks on my Facebook wall. They also took to online forums to spread rumours about me.
The newspaper your party controls, The Straits Times, was also quick to report that I am gay, to use that as a means to attack my character, in the hope that you can cause antagonism against me.
For the record, I am proud to be who I am because who I am has given me an empathy to understand people and show compassion to others. I appreciate my journey.
I can only thank Singaporeans for being wise to the PAP’s snide ways and have not fallen for your tricks.
But your party’s actions are deplorable.
When the prime minister and I both submitted our affidavits for the defamation suit, your newspapers covered the prime minister’s affidavit extensively but refused to report on mine.
I sent emails to the newspapers to ask them why, but none of them had the ‘face’ to reply.
So, you can imagine my surprise when you would accuse the WP of the very thing your party does, and not only that, but does better, or worse.
Under the PAP, I have become yet another victim of your onslaught, all because the PAP wants to keep yourself in power and would do anything you can to prevent those who oppose you from speaking up.
I am not the first. But I am the latest.
Just so you know, I do not belong to any “coordinated” campaign you accuse Singaporeans of. I do it out of my own free will because I believe in justice and freedom.
I do not believe in using fear and the buying over of allegiance.
And if it makes any sense to you, it is unlikely that Singaporeans would be able to conduct any “coordinated” campaign when your party has effectively crippled the systems of cooperation among Singaporeans. But that the unison of voices will still appear coordinated to you should mean something – Singaporeans are today so frustrated with the PAP that our voices have come into a common unity without us even having to try to.
Do not forget that it was your party who had in 1963 accused more than a hundred opposition members, and labour and student unionists, and in 1987 accused more than 20 Singaporeans of being communist conspirators when it has been proven through and through that there was no such campaign. Instead, it was your party which had waged a coordinated campaign against these Singaporeans and jailed some of them for more than 30 years, even
You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”
You also said, “AHPETC has yet to explain its serious financial mismanagement”.
Before you think that you are in a position to take the higher ground, please take a look at your own party.
Your party, the PAP, has yet to explain its “serious financial mismanagement” and a much worse one at that.
You said that the WP, “in FY10 the(ir) TC (Town Council) ran an operating surplus of $3.3m, but in FY12 it ran a deficit of $734,000.
You also asked, “Is the S&CC from Aljunied GRC residents being used to cover the deficit in Hougang TC?”
So you said, “If so, surely residents of Aljunied GRC are entitled to know?”
Wise words, Desmond.
Then may Singaporeans just as well ask, “Surely Singaporeans are entitled to know” what the PAP has done with our Central Provident Fund (CPF)?
In 2008, the PAP government lost more than $100 billion from GIC and Temasek Holdings.
In 2008, the PAP government spiked out the CPF Minimum Sum to trap even more of Singaporeans’ retirement funds inside the CPF.
Today, an estimated 90 percent of Singaporeans are not able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum in cash and many Singaporeans are not and will not be able to retire.
Today, we see many elderly Singaporeans working as cleaners, odd-job labourers and cardboard collectors because they are not able to take out their CPF.
Because your PAP government trapped our money inside your own coffers.
Many Singaporeans have asked the same question that you have asked of the AHPETC: “Did the PAP take the CPF of Singaporeans to cover for the losses of GIC and Temasek Holdings?”
GIC and Temasek Holdings lost $117 billion in 2008. In 2008, Singaporeans had $151 billion in our CPF.
What the PAP lost is 77% of our CPF. This is a lot of money.
I put to you and your party, “If so, surely Singaporeans are entitled to know?,” in your own words.
You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”
But has your party been transparent and accountable as to how the CPF of Singaporeans is being used?
You said, “Only the TC knows the answer, but it refuses to answer. Why?”
Indeed, only the PAP knows the answer as to why the CPF Minimum Sum was suddenly spiked up and why Singaporeans today are not able to save enough to retire.
But the PAP refuses to answer.
You also said, “Since May 2013, AHPETC has stopped submitting its S&CC arrears data to MND. It now also refuses to tell the public the truth.”
Now, if your own party has also refused to tell the public the truth, who are you or your party in a position to lecture another?
Singaporeans have been asking your party to release the full reports of the GIC and Temasek Holdings so that we know how our CPF is being taken away by your party and being used.
But your party says, “It is not in our national interest to publish the full size of our reserves.”
But this is the money of Singaporeans that we are talking about here. Our hard-earned money.
But the PAP refuses to tell Singaporeans the truth?
Why does the PAP refuse to answer?
You and your party would pick on the $734,000 deficit that the AHPETC has.
But when Singaporeans ask your party about the $117 billion that the PAP has lost, you and your party would rather keep silent.
Let me put it in perspective for you – the money that your party, the PAP has lost, is 160,000 times that of the deficit of the AHPETC.
Let me spell it out – the PAP lost $117,000,000,000 of Singaporeans’ money.
You would heckle the WP over not even a million dollars but you would not challenge your own party over the loss of more than a hundred billion dollars.
I do not know if you can even see the irony in this or how hypocritical your party is.
You want to play politics and hit out at the WP, but if your party cannot even get your act together, please start doing so before you accuse another of doing something the crime your party has done even greater.
Today, Singaporeans are made by your party to sacrifice the largest proportion of our wages into the CPF. The 37% that we pay is the highest in the world.
However, our CPF retirement funds have become one of the least adequate in the world.
The PAP government then takes our CPF monies to invest in the GIC and Temasek Holdings and they have now become the top 10 richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.
Desmond, the PAP knows why this is so. Why does it refuse to answer?
You said, the AHPETC “has also not answered questions from the public about the state of its finances today.”
But has your party answered questions about the state of Singapore’s finances today?
Since 2005, it is estimated that the PAP government has not declared to Singaporeans $200 billion in surplus.
This is $200,000,000,000.
Where did this money disappear to?
Like you asked, “How did this happen?”
“Surely Singaporeans are entitled to know?”
“Why has the PAP not answer questions raised by Singaporeans?”
Today, we know that your party is taking our CPF to earn 6% at the GIC but gives back to our CPF only 3%.
This money that is not returned is estimated to be hundreds and thousands of dollars, or even more than a million, that each Singapore is losing to your party.
This means that each Singaporean is losing more than the $734,000 that you are taking the AHPETC to task with.
If you have such integrity as to question the WP over this amount, surely you must have the same honesty to question your own party for the hundreds and thousands of dollars that each Singaporean is losing?
Or are you just trying to score political points?
Is the PAP just trying to “fix” the WP?
While your party is “fixing” the WP, Singaporeans have tried for many decades to ask your party to “fix” the CPF.
To grow our CPF, increase the CPF interest rates, and increase our wages.
Once this is done, all Singaporeans will be able to retire comfortably, and with dignity.
Singaporeans have already given your party the solutions.
But what has your party done?
Does the PAP want to listen?
You stridently accuse the WP that “when caught under the spotlight, (it would) raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that they have not come clean.”
But how dare you accuse the WP of something your party does best?
In 2001, your ex-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew denied that the PAP government takes our CPF to invest in the GIC.
In 2006, he denied this again.
In 2007, then-Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen also denied that the PAP government takes our CPF to give the GIC to use.
But in May this year, the PAP government finally admitted to the truth, after pretending to Singaporeans for the past few decades – the GIC does take our CPF to use.
And when we asked for our CPF to be returned, what did your party say?
We asked you to return the interest and the money you earn from our CPF.
You told us the interest rate that you give us on our CPF is “secure”.
But you will not return our money to us. You will let yourself earn instead.
We said increase our wages so that our CPF can increase.
But you refuse to implement a minimum wage. You refuse to grow our wages.
But you would keep fighting for yourselves to increase your own salaries. You did that in 1984, 1994, 2000, 2004 and 2007.
Today, your party ministers earn the highest salaries in the world, in the millions, but Singaporeans earn one of the lowest wages among the developed countries.
And our real wages have remained stagnant for the past 20 years, while that of the poorest in Singapore have gone down.
Where did you get all the money to increase your own salaries? It all comes from the money you take from Singaporeans.
Your PAP party will make Singaporeans pay to subsidise your salaries but you would not pay to subsidise our wages and the rising cost of living.
The PAP has no right to hold down our wages, and then take what we could have earned to pay yourselves such high salaries.
Your party says that you control the housing programme and that you set the price of the flats. So we said, please reduce housing prices so that we will have enough spare cash to use and to retire on.
But instead, you told Singaporeans to sell our homes, if we want to get our own money back to use.
Desmond, your party, the PAP, has been inhumane, selfish and despicable.
This year, the issue of the CPF blew up in the PAP’s face. But “when caught under the spotlight, the PAP would instead raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that you have not come clean”.
You accuse the WP of not coming clean but your party’s closet is full of skeletons.
We, Singaporeans, have taken all that in and kept quiet in the face of your party’s atrocities.
But when you turned around and accuse the WP of something that your party does ever worse and more so without shame, how can anyone sit back and allow you and your party to have your way?
Desmond, what you have said is dishonourable and what your party has done and been doing is downright disgusting.
You said, “The key issue is accountability and transparency.”
You are not even fit to say this. Not you, nor anyone in your party.
Not the PAP.
Singaporeans have asked for transparency and accountability from the PAP over the hundreds and billions of dollars that your party has taken from us and not accounted to us.
Today, Singaporeans are so much poorer precisely because your party has not been transparent and accountable.
To hear you ask another for transparency and accountability, when your own party has done nary that, you do not know how laughable this is.
It is hypocritical.
Desmond, before you and the PAP point one more finger at another, please take a look at the four other fingers pointing back at yourselves.