Written by Ng E-Jay
21 April 2010
(This article was originally written for TOC.)
The Secretary-General of the National Solidarity Party (NSP), Mr Goh Meng Seng, has revealed to close associates and supporters that he intends to sell his HDB flat in Serangoon North in order to fund his upcoming election campaign.
This was announced on Mr Tan Kin Lian’s blog as well as on the Sammyboy Alfresco Coffeeshop forum. Mr Goh had helped the ex-NTUC chief deliver the mandarin versions of his speeches at Hong Lim Park in late 2008 during the Lehman minibond saga.
TOC’s Political Desk caught up with Mr Goh Meng Seng yesterday to enquire about his decision to go “all in” against the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP).
According to Mr Goh, NSP President Sebestian Teo has himself committed personal funds to finance NSP’s election bid. As Secretary-General of the party, Mr Goh feels that he should throw in his lot as well. Thus, Mr Goh, in consultation with his wife, made the decision to sell his flat last week in order to contribute to NSP’s election war chest. He says his wife has been very supportive and understanding.
Mr Goh emphasized that he need not sell his flat if he merely intended to fund his own election battle. However, he feels that as a leader of the party, the onus is on him to personally tend to what he terms “the bigger strategic campaign” of NSP.
The amount of money that each election candidate must spend can be daunting. The election deposit alone is around $14,000 per candidate. In addition, every candidate must be prepared to spend an additional $10,000 if he is a member of a GRC team, and more if he stands in a single member ward. Mr Goh feels that leaders of NSP should be willing to assist with the finances of their candidates.
A “make or break” strategy?
Every since Mr Goh started dabbling in opposition politics, he had made it clear to all what his political stand is. In his view, he should either stay in Singapore and try to initiate change to the political system, which includes fighting against the PAP’s unfair election tactics, such as gerrymandering and pork-barrel politics via the HDB upgrading carrot, or he should leave Singapore altogether for the sake of his children.
He says that after over a decade in opposition politics, he has to be answerable to his family, having sacrificed so much time that could have been spent with his family. If his next election bid yields no results for him, he says he might have to leave politics altogether. By selling his flat, he is not only putting his money where his mouth is, but also committing himself to a final confrontation with the PAP.
He says he will leave it to voters to decide if his party and his political stand is worth voting for, and that he would have no regrets either way it turns out. He says that even if he loses, at least he can answer to his children with a clear conscience that he has done his best.
In a nutshell, what exactly is Mr Goh’s grouse against the government’s housing policies?
It is best to quote Mr Goh Meng Seng’s reply verbatim:
My main attack on HDB is its role as the monopoly in the new HDB flat market. The government is empowered by the people to acquire land at dirt cheap prices and it has acquired near to 80% of land in the past. Many small land lords have made sacrifices due to the acquisition by the government. However, it is the responsibility to redistribute this acquired land to the masses by means of providing cheap public housing via HDB.
HDB is shirking off this role and responsibility by pegging its new HDB flats with the resale market prices. This is not right and this is what I am fighting against.
When the cheapest flat in town as in new HDB flat needs a 30 years mortgage to be paid for and Singaporeans are expected to sell their flats for their retirement, it is very obvious that something is very wrong with the whole system.
Two final points by Mr Goh
Mr Goh Meng Seng said he has two final points he would like to make at this juncture. Again, I quote him verbatim:
- Freedom is NOT FREE. Singaporeans get to vote because of the sacrifices made by many people.
- Politics, be it opposition or ruling party, is a means to Public Service. Sacrifices are expected from politicians of both sides.
Mr Goh Meng Seng’s political background
Mr Goh Meng Seng stood in Aljunied GRC under a Worker’s Party (WP) ticket during the 2006 general elections. His team, led by Ms Sylvia Lim, clinched 43.9% of the valid votes, the highest percentage scorer after elected opposition MPs Low Thia Khiang in Hougang and Chiam See Tong in Potong Pasir.
Following his resignation from WP after the 2006 elections, Mr Goh joined the NSP. He was elected as Secretary-General in February 2010. Upon taking up his new leadership role, Mr Goh initiated an aggressive campaign against the PAP’s flawed housing policies that have caused prices of HDB flats to escalate out of control in recent years. He intends to make this an election issue and give disenfranchised Singaporeans a credible alternative to the PAP.