Vikram Nair’s response to TOC article

March 2, 2012 by
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics, Media articles 

The Online Citizen published an article which I wrote today.

Mr Vikram Nair has responded to the article on his FaceBook Page. His full response is as follows.

1. I refer to the article by Mr Ng Ee-Jay published on The Online Citizen titled “Vikram Nair compares Chen Show Mao’s proposals to a Nigerian scam” dated 2 March 2012.

2. The key thrust of this article is that I considered investing in the elderly, the disabled, the poor and other needy Singaporeans as being akin to a Nigerian scam. The insinuation is that I do not care about these groups is totally false.

3. At the top of the article is a photo of me and attributes to me the following quote: ”Investing in People = Nigerian Scam”. I never said this anywhere in my speech and this attribution is false and misleading.

4. In fact, I opened my speech with the following:-

“Let me start with what I most welcome about this Budget. I think what is truly heart-warming about this Budget is the emphasis on helping the needy and the vulnerable. For many of us who have been helping on the ground, I think we have seen the real issues that the vulnerable groups suffer. The added measures in this Budget will help those groups in a great many ways. I filed more than 10 cuts for the COS which I will go into the details of how these things may work out in different Ministries and I would not repeat that here.”

5. My cuts in the ongoing COS debate deal with the specific issues faced by various groups that I feel may need further protection or assistance, including crime victims, SMEs, the bankrupt, the unemployed, outsourced low wage workers, the elderly, those with disabilities and the social safety net generally. I am raising these issues because I think it is one of the MPs most important duties to speak up for and help the vulnerable groups. The insinuation in the article that I do not care about these groups is therefore without basis.

6. While I did not appreciate the insinuations in Mr Chen’s speech that the government did not care for the vulnerable groups, I was curious about whether or not Mr Chen himself had any concrete ideas on how to help these groups more. Mr Chen said repeatedly, in his usual charismatic style, “Let’s do more”. I was probing to try to understand exactly what was the “more” that he intended to do and how he intended to do it. Anyone can shout “Let’s do more”, but the real issue is what “more” do you want to do and how.

7. I did make a joke about a Nigerian scam, and said:

“The first point he made was about investing in social capital. He was saying that we need to invest in social capital – in the elderly, the disabled and the poor, and I agree. In fact, from what I have seen, that is one of the most fulfilling things that we can do as an MP. We look for the vulnerable groups, we help them out in the meantime and we try and empower them in the long term. But we are not as smart as him because our investments certainly incur costs; they are certainly not self-funding. So what I was really impressed by was when Mr Chen shouted loudly, “let’s do more”, he also said that since these are investments, we do not have to make provisions for them in the Budget, we do not have to raise any revenues at all.

I was astounded by that. I mean, I thought maybe we have to put an outlay first. Maybe even the Nigerian scheme required you to put $10,000 upfront. But Mr Chen‘s scheme does not even require a short-term provision. It is not even a deficit for one year. No, no, no. It will pay for itself because it is an investment. So I would like him to explain how he expects these schemes to pay for themselves because, if they do, I will wholeheartedly support it.”

8. Nowhere did I say the idea of investing in vulnerable groups is like investing in a Nigerian scam. I pointed out that the investment concept Mr Chen proposed did not appear to be properly thought through because he did not explain how it was going to be paid for.

9. I fully support the helping of vulnerable groups. In fact, I specifically said I agreed that we should invest in social capital. And that is what is being done now. But we should be clear as to how we are going to pay for it and not pretend that the money will materialise from nowhere. Indeed, I was hoping Mr Chen would give some concrete suggestions or elaborations in response, but no real answer was given.

10. Indeed, if much more is to be done, (as another Worker’s Party MP suggested, to raise healthcare expenditure from 1.6% to 6% of GDP), then we must be honest with our people – the money has to come from more taxes or deficit spending. First World safety nets come with First World debts, First World taxes and passing the burden of our excesses to future generations.

11. I think all MPs in the house agree with the principle that vulnerable groups should be protected. It is extremely deceptive of TOC to attribute lies to me.


19 Comments on Vikram Nair’s response to TOC article

  1. The Silent Majority on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 12:08 am
  2. Without and before reading the citizen on line, others have already are saying the same: Vikram Nair, drinker of dark water likens helping the poor to investing in scam. Now he is backtracking and adding words to clarify/change/amend the meaning of what he said. And after editing/clarifying he wants to sue people for what he spoke out of his own mouth recorded on TV in parliament.

    And in typical PAP style, he wants to sue.

  3. admin on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 3:25 am

    Vikram Nair: Show me the money, Chen Show Mao

    By Rachel Chang

    PAP MP Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC) was almost unrelenting yesterday in his attack of Workers’ Party MP Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC).

    He accused Mr Chen – as well as other WP MPs – of scoring political points by repeatedly asking the Government to do more for vulnerable groups without acknowledging what had already been done.

    Mr Chen also did not have a plan on how to pay for the extra spending he desired, Mr Nair said.

    ”Let’s do more, let’s spend more,’ (they say), and, of course, they never talk of where this money is going to come from,’ he added.

    Pointing out that spending must be funded either through a budget deficit or by raising taxes, he said ‘the people have to pay the price at some point’.

    The previous day, Mr Chen had urged the Government not to look at social spending as a one-way outflow of resources, but an investment in human capital which will yield returns in ‘unlocking’ economic, social and cultural value among Singaporeans.

    Yesterday, Mr Nair said Mr Chen implied that the PAP Government had not done enough for vulnerable groups, or that it cared less about them. He found this ‘hurtful’.

    ‘I think many of us here have been working year in, year out, helping the vulnerable groups, and it is pretty hurtful coming from Mr Chen because he might have held this belief for a long time, but he came back only quite recently to help in this,’ he said.

    He decried the vagueness in Mr Chen’s assertion that investing in human capital would yield returns, adding that he is ‘not as smart as Mr Chen, so I must press him for a few more details to understand how this self-funding investment works’.

    Likening it to a Nigerian scam e-mail where recipients are urged to transfer funds in return for a pay-off later, he said Mr Chen had promised something ‘even better, because you don’t have to put in any money at all, and you get more than money in return’.

    Mr Nair also took aim at Mr Chen’s suggestion for a refinement of the quotas on foreign workers. He retorted that it was ironic for ‘a man who spent more than half his life abroad and came back to Singapore shortly before the elections’ to say there are too many foreign workers here.

    Currently, quotas are differentiated broadly by industries. Mr Chen suggested tighter quotas for high-end sectors such as finance and aerospace, where Singaporeans desire jobs, while clusters like public health care, where foreign manpower is urgently needed, be treated more liberally.

    The idea was also criticised by PAP MP Indranee Rajah (Tanjong Pagar GRC), who said that this was contrary to the WP’s assertion during last May’s General Election that there are too many foreign workers.

    ‘It also runs counter to what we are trying to achieve for low-income workers,’ she said. ‘We want them to be fully employed. If you have less stringent manpower policies for those sectors, then what happens to Singaporeans there?’

    After Mr Nair’s speech, Mr Chen rose to thank him ‘for such a close reading of my speech’.

    He pointed out that Government revenue is not earmarked for specific programmes or areas of spending. So, any discussion of how the WP’s suggestions should be funded ‘would of necessity entail a discussion of total Government revenue and spending’.

    When discussing such spending, the possible benefits – not just economic, but social and cultural too – should be taken into account, he added.

    Separately, Minister of State Amy Khor (Hong Kah North) refuted the assertion WP chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) made the day before that the Government is ‘course-correcting’ in this Budget.

    Ms Lim said the PAP Government had, for a long time, drove growth without paying enough attention to the effects of increasing income inequality.

    Ms Khor denied that was the case, arguing that social spending had always been emphasised: ‘This is not a course correction. It is the reinforcement of an existing policy.’

  5. Tax Heaven on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 3:26 am
  6. After reading your reply, I am even more convinced that you intentionally used the nigerian scam joke to villyfy CSM. This is low handed and something that a despicable person would do. I guess this desciption fits you like a glove.

  7. Sembawang voices on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 3:56 am
  8. Vikram should have avoided using such extreme word like “Nigeria Scam” if he didn’t want himself to be mislead or taken it out of context.

    If his intent is genuine of caring for the ground and taken Chen’s speech responsibly, there are always better example to counter in a constructive and appropriate manner. Instead, the word “Nigeria Scam” is not a joke to be lightly used in a serious setting such as parliament. Since Vikram has already used it, his intent is clear for us to see, that is he meant what he said – express or implied. To run away by clarifying it as joke, is an insult to all the statments made by MP or ministers in parliament. In future, nobody will know whether what was said is parliament is a joke or serious.

    I see no reason why he should take issue with what bloggers think he has already said in parliament and not in his facebook (subsequent damage control).

  9. Dr Wong Wee Nam on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 8:19 am
  10. Mr Vikram Nair, where is the joke? I can’t see anything funny. Young man, there is a place for everything and Parliament is certainly not a place to joke.

  11. Vikram should apologise on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 11:17 am
  12. The only damage control Vikram should do is to issue a public apology via all national paper that he is regretful and apologise for quoting wrong example of Nigeria Scam to mislead Singapore population.

    Since Straits Times also quoted him as using “Nigeria Scam” to counter CSM, it is already a national news and nothing to do with bloger. As an ordinary citizen, who read Straits Times new, I was misled by Vikram and clearly to me he is implying CSM’s concern for the citizens as “Nigeria Scam”. I don’t see any mention of joke anywhere in Straits Times. Vikram agenda is clear, to stir emotion against WP candidates.

  13. Alan Wong on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 1:04 pm
  14. I would have thought that spending close to S$1.1b of taxpayers’ monies to purchase buses for profit-oriented public listed companies is much closer to a Nigerian scam if you ask me.

    But did he even raise the question of “where this money is coming from” or “the people have to pay the price at some point” ?

    Can we see that this idiot MP doesn’t even have the basic brains to ask the right questions ?

  15. Jack on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 2:17 pm
  16. Likening it to a Nigerian scam e-mail where recipients are urged to transfer funds in return for a pay-off later, he said Mr Chen had promised something ‘even better, because you don’t have to put in any money at all, and you get more than money in return’.

    What are we supposed to infer from this passage taken from the Straits Times?

    I am sure many human rights groups and internationally renowned lawyers will be closely following this case should it really go to court.

    What was said is plain for everyone to see.

  17. lobstercray on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 5:25 pm
  18. Unbelievable!

    This self proclaimed court ‘jester’ Nair has the cheek to complain that he is the victim when he is actually the aggressor.

    Mr Nair, let me ask you, are other people supposed to know that you are ‘joking’? It certainly don’t sound like a joke to me and the rest listening on the sidelines. Were you grinning like a Cheshire Cat when you say it? No!

    When Mr Chen of the WP is in all seriousness offering ideas on a serious issue concerning how to help our poor and needy, you see it fit to make a ‘joke’ about it? What kind of MP are you? We don’t pay you to make jokes in parliament. We pay you and the rest of your colleagues to discuss and deliberate on matters of national interest, but you have apparently ‘jokingly’, forgotten this!

    I have read nearly all the speeches made by the opposition and IMO ALL PAP MPs can learn a lesson from the opposition MPs on how to value-add to their presence in parliament, and not crack insulting jokes at the people’s expense – for that is what you have done.

    You are quite right you did not say it was a Nigerian scam. You in fact said it was WORSE than one! So if other people said that you have compared it to a Nigerian scam, THEY ARE IN FACT BEING KIND TO

    I would love to see you put your money where you mouth is and go to court. Make a laughing stock of yourself and by association the constituents you represent and the party you represent!

    By the way, if speeches made in parliament by cabinet members and MPs are supposed to be protected by parliamentary privileges, IMO you have no cause to complain if others are to interpret your words not to your liking. You can’t have the cake and eat it too. In any case this DOES NOT apply in your case because taken in its context your words have been bloody boorish and belittling towards MR Chen. If you are not clear about his points, it is incumbent on you as with all rational THINKING people, and has been don’t countless of time during parliamentary sittings, TO ASK FOR CLARIFICATION, through the Speaker of Parliament. Are you not even slightly acquainted with the COC and traditional practices of parliament?

    It is a judgment call that you very clearly did not have that day when you went at a fellow member of parliament with fangs and claws drawn to savage his ideas. That was a very deliberate display of naked aggression both in words and body language by you. Of that I have no doubts.

    Please don’t turn parliamentary sittings into a football match and you have been assigned to ‘mark’ Mr Chen. And you need not bother to deny that for we all have eyes to see for ourselves. That is the worst sort of behaviour for a member of the house to behave in the highest forum of the land. I want you to remember that.

    If you want to heat up the kitchen, don’t complain like a spoilt brat when it gets too hot for you.

  19. JusticeLover on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 5:57 pm
  20. PAP party itself is a joke. We don’t need another PAP joker to tell us that. Nair’s insulting another world-class ex-lawyer has backfired. He think he is smarter and will impress his party by trying to denigrate CSM and his party by comparing the suggestion to Nigerian scam ? How will he feel if opp party make joke on him and his party on creatively-named Nairian Scam, PAPian Scam, Tharmanian Scam in parliament ? So PAP still think that they are the only one so creative in making comparison statement ? By not respecting the opp party, PAP is not respecting the public and voters for opp party.

    PAP has a track record of bullying opp party, and in internet age, PAP still think they have upper hand ?

  21. peewee on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 8:05 pm
  22. he didn’t tell a joke, he became one, and boy, it is bad!

  23. Anothr Silent Majority on Sat, 3rd Mar 2012 10:03 pm
  24. Frankly where is MP Nair honour.

    If the (dis)honourable MP has made the mistake, just apologize and move on. Trying to cover up or evading is not the way to clear his name. He made a mockery of Parliament by saying he was only joking.

  25. lomo on Sun, 4th Mar 2012 11:49 am
  26. $15,000 just to tell a bad joke. When I grow up. I too want to be a clown and a politician. Either way, I cannot lose.

  27. Reflect on yourself on Sun, 4th Mar 2012 2:09 pm
  28. My advice to Vikram Nair is this – always respect what others have to say, especially if you yourself have nothing to offer. Mr Chen Show Mao is an internationally acclaimed lawyer (if you do not already know this), and deserves more respect than he is getting. And his proposal to render more help to the poor and needy is so honourable. Yet you are running it down. Know your place please, you are just a newbie, raw and unproven.

  29. maniknight on Mon, 5th Mar 2012 10:45 am
  30. what is so hard to understand? the money will come from the same place as the $1Billion gifted to listed transport company to buy buses. the fact that real income growth for the lower income is virtually stagnant for the last 15 years shows how much this present govt has done for this group.

  31. What-The-Fish on Mon, 5th Mar 2012 12:04 pm
  32. A smart person speaks when he has something to say but a fool speaks because he wants to say something. vn, it does not do any harm to just shut up if you have nothing to say instead of saying something stupid for the sake of saying. Are you sure that you are a lawyer?

  33. Daily SG: 5 Mar 2012 « The Singapore Daily on Mon, 5th Mar 2012 12:22 pm
  34. […] do you fund it? – Anonymous X: MP Vikram Nair vs TOC: The Road to Legal Battle? – Vikram Nair’s response to TOC article – ST: Longer-term retirement funding fix needed [Thanks Adrian] – ST: Stipend for elderly who earn […]

  35. 1.1bn on Mon, 5th Mar 2012 9:03 pm
  36. Surely the 1.1 bn to pay for the buses will be a bigger joke or is it also a Nigerian scam as who is going to pay for it? Deficit spending? Unless he thinks the Billion is peanuts, and can be raised through taxes? GST perhaps? or from further cuts to some people’s salaries (again)?

  37. sturmtruppen on Tue, 6th Mar 2012 3:32 pm
  38. Think LHL was recommended to put VN in Parliament…

    Looks like VN is doing more damage than help to the PAP Government.

    So who is the joker now? Sorry VN is not a the Joker….the real Joker won’t allow such low life jokes….think VN fits the Jester better….yes VN is a jester and not a joker.


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