SDP marks its 30th year

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Media articles, Singapore Democratic Party 

Source: STRAITS TIMES, 28 Feb 2010

The opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) marked its 30th anniversary with a gala dinner yesterday, which was attended by members of the opposition scene and activists.

The two-hour event kicked off with SDP chief Chee Soon Juan’s 10-year-old daughter, An Lyn, leading the 170-strong crowd in singing the National Anthem and reciting the National Pledge.

Its chairman, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, gave an opening address before several members of its youth wing, Young Democrats, took the SDP pledge to signal their commitment to its beliefs on democracy and human rights.

They included its president, Mr Priveen Suraj, 22, a law student at a private institution; honorary secretary Jarrod Luo, 26, a science graduate who runs his own business; and member Teoh Tian Jing, 25, a property agent.

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What is missing in the productivity debate

February 26, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
26 Feb 2010

Budget 2010 which was unveiled in Parliament by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Monday went to great lengths to emphasize the need to raise productivity in Singapore.

It was proposed that the government spend $5.5 billion over the next 5 years at measures to retrain workers and help companies improve their business operations. The government intends to spend further $1.5 billion on research and development, and will nurture industries and companies it thinks has the greatest chance of innovating and succeeding globally.

The solution, it appears, is based on greater government intervention in the private sector and increased micromanagement of the economy.

But the same has been tried before, way back in the 1990s when productivity had begun to stagnate after two decades of high growth, and again in the early part of this decade, with initiatives spearheaded by bodies such as the Economic Review Committee. The proposals laid out in Budget 2010 seem like a tired re-run of the schemes devised in yesteryears.

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Opposition parties and alternative media respond to Budget 2010

February 24, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
24 Feb 2010

Singapore’s opposition parties and alternative media have responded to Budget 2010, pointing out its deficiencies despite it being touted as generous and progressive by the mainstream media.

In its article “Budget 2010 exposed” published on its website on Tuesday, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said that throwing money at the problem of low productivity and making the same proposals that have been tried and found wanting will not make the problem go away.

The SDP was referring to the Finance Minister’s Budget proposal of putting $5.5 billion to work over the next 5 years on sustained initiatives at raising productivity through investment in continuing education and helping businesses upgrade their operational expertise.

The SDP pointed out the similar strategies were devised by the Economic Review Committee led by Mr Lee Hsien Loong in 2003, but that those measures have failed.

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Just how progressive is Budget 2010?

February 24, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
24 Feb 2010

We hear the word “progressive” being flaunted when used to describe Budget 2010, especially with regards to the new property tax system.

But really, just how progressive is Budget 2010 and the new property tax system in particular?

The PAP government is not renowned for being a progressive government, or a government that implements progressive taxation systems.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), a regressive tax, was implemented in 1994 and has been steadily rising ever since. A Standard Chartered economist recently predicted that the GST may eventually be raised to 10% by year 2012.

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Dissecting Budget 2010

February 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

This article was originally written for The Online Citizen

Written by Ng E-Jay
23 Feb 2010

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivered the Budget Statement in Parliament on Monday 22 Feb.

In the opening paragraphs of his budget speech, the Finance Minister acknowledged the vulnerability of Singapore’s export-oriented economy which caused it to suffer a 10% GDP contraction during the most recent recession. However, it is disappointing to note that the budget statement did not mention ways in which Singapore’s economy could be diversified so as to make it less reliant on exports.

Mr Shanmugaratnam said that Budget 2010 aimed at positioning Singapore’s economy to deliver growth based on productivity gains rather than ever expanding use of manpower, as per the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) recommendations.

Emphasizing the need for transforming our economy and raising worker skills has been a constant refrain of the Singapore government since the late 1970s. The initial success of the government in the early days of nation building was due to the fact that we started off from a low base in terms of worker skills and overall educational level of the workforce. By the late 1990s, growth in productivity had stagnated after a couple of boom decades.

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On the beat to the hustings?

February 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

This article was originally written for The Online Citizen.

Written by Ng E-Jay
19 Feb 2010

On Wednesday 17 Feb, PM Lee Hsien Loong called for the Registers of Electors to be updated, exactly one year after the Elections Department had conducted the previous revision. [1]

The Registers of Electors contain the particulars of all eligible voters at the time of revision. There is one Register maintained for each electoral division. According to Section 5 of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218), a person must be a citizen of Singapore, be not less than 21 years of age, and be an ordinary resident of Singapore in order to be a qualified elector.

The latest update of the voter rolls would allow people who became new citizens since the time of the previous revision to be eligible to vote. There seems to be a consensus in cyberspace that new citizens would tend to vote for the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP) out of gratitude at having been given a chance to live and work in Singapore.

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So much for respecting individual opinion, Singazine

February 19, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
19 Feb 2010

Former blog aggregator has twisted and misinterpreted my words out of context.

In their latest “Statement of Intent” published on their website, alleged that I favoured censoring opposing views in order to maintain opposition unity, and worse, that I am somehow against constructive criticism if it does not suit my fancy.

This is a misrepresentation of my stand. In my previous critique of Singazine, my issue was with Singazine accusing other blog aggregators of practicing censorship.

My view is that every website or blog aggregator should be free adopt their own editorial policy, and that no one is obliged to represent all the myriad views in cyberspace.

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When one blog aggregator makes an unfair jibe at another …

February 17, 2010 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
17 Feb 2010

I find it quite amazing that the editors of would find it fit to accuse another blog aggregator, SG Daily, of being guilty of censorship (see attachment below at the end of this post).

SG Daily, in case readers are unaware, is one of the longest standing blog aggregators, specializing in aggregating blog posts of a socio-political nature that pertain to developments in Singapore.

As far as I can tell, SG Daily’s selection is very diverse and no one can rightfully accuse them of practising censorship.

I wonder why would accuse another blog aggregator of practicing censorship.

Perhaps unlike, SG Daily exercises some degree of editorial judgment from time to time, and refrains from linking to blog posts that clearly have an agenda of causing opposition parties to become disunited.

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Economic Strategies Committee: Real Change or Just Words?

February 15, 2010 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics, Dr Wong Wee Nam 

Written by Dr Wong Wee Nam
15 Feb 2010

“Entrepreneurial culture is about challenging the authorities, questioning the existing ways of doing business, moving away from the routines and norms. It’s about the unconventional, rebellious and diverse.” — Professor Huang Yasheng of MIT.

After many months of deliberation on how to improve the economy of Singapore, it was a disappointment that the high-powered committee made up of ministers, business leaders, corporate leaders, union leaders and top civil servants could only come out with a report that said nothing really new.

Productivity, innovation, vibrant place, global hub, etc — all these are tunes that have been sung before by other equally high-powered choirs at one time or another since the late ‘70s.

These textbook answers have not worked before. What makes the Economic Strategies Committee so sure they will work this time? Is it just going to be a big public relations exercise, full of headlines, plenty of talk, but with little achieved?

There is no doubt the Economic Strategies Committee wants to make Singapore rich. However there is nothing in the report that says the proposed “changes” will make things equitable for all Singaporeans.

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What the Religious Harmony Debate has missed out thus far

February 13, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

EDITOR’S NOTE: wishes all readers HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Written by Ng E-Jay
13 Feb 2010

As a week of heated discussion over religious harmony in Singapore draws to a close, with an avalanche of attention focused on the pastor who denigrated another religion and the three teenage boys who were arrested for racist slurs, I cannot help but ask myself: what is missing from the debate thus far?

Everyone is fervently and almost unanimously behind the idea that racial and religious harmony must be preserved, and that all individuals and organizations must watch their words carefully lest they offend the sensibilities of other races and people of different faiths.

I applaud the good sense of Singaporeans to stand on the side of justice and tolerance, especially in a time of global geopolitical turmoil.

Yet I cannot help but wonder why the debate has missed out on the rights of minority groups like gays and lesbians to be free from bigotry.

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