MICA (P) 123/09/2006 Issue No: 0702
The issue on Ministerial and Civil Service Pay has struck a cord with Singaporeans. Below are extracts of the parliamentary speech by Mr Low Thia Khiang on this issue and the views of some people who wrote in to us. “I am a middle income worker; I worked very hard and did not take any MC in my working life, except confinement. Although I did not get any pay raise I still continue to work because I need money for my child’s ducation and future. What shocked me is that it took me 3 years to earn $100,000. And I still have to pay tax - although it is very small sum it still means a lot to middle income like us. It is very sad that I am not an elite. My conclusion if you LOVE your country you will sacrifice whatever you get.” - AMK resident
When the topic on market benchmarking of ministerial and civil service salaries against the top private sector earners was first debated in Parliament in 1994, I spoke against it. Thirteen years later, the debate continues over whether ministers are being paid too much. The issues I had raised remain relevant to date. The people, like me, were not and are still not convinced that the salary benchmark is fair and just! Given the public disquiet and debate outside this house after the intended salary revision was announced, the government should seriously consider setting up a panel for public consultation and coming up with a remuneration formula for the public service that can be adhered to, is practical, and is deemed reasonable by the public. Concerns About Benchmarking Against Private Sector One concern is that it is volatile – this is inevitable when the variable component of private sector wages such as bonuses and stock option gains are taken into account in the setting of annual wages. In addition, the benchmark not only considers the earnings of Singaporeans, but also those of Malaysians and Permanent Residents. While most of the individuals in the benchmark change every year, the level of wages taken into consideration will most likely increase over the years. This is largely due to two factors. Firstly, a larger income gap due to globalisation will result in more highfliers earning very high incomes. Secondly, the embracing of foreign talents in Singapore will result in a greater pool of high wage earners who will qualify under the benchmark criteria, alongside potentially increased wages. In a worse scenario, such a benchmark
“I can’t help but wonder why the ministers still wish to have a drastic pay rise considering the fact that their pays are already sky high. This amount could have been better utilised for housing upgrading purposes or help those who are in dire need of help. Ministers are already living comfortably with their big salaries and perks. So we citizens could not agree with their arguments for a payrise. Let’s not forget that the PAP government has not really been a very effective one. If they had far sightedness many old people would not have found their CPF balances inadequate for their old age.” - Henry
may even encourage money-minded civil servants to focus on policies that ensure the existence of a pool of top earners that satisfy the benchmark criteria. Remuneration in the private sector is volatile and employees are subject to stringent performance reviews. For instance, stock option gains are possible only when the individual make a correct investment decision. More often than not, such individuals have also helped to improve the value of the company. However, human beings do not always make the right decisions throughout their entire life. By benchmarking civil servants’ annual pay against individuals who have performed well during that year, there is an implicit assumption that civil servants and Ministers never make incorrect decisions – but are they truly super human beings forever error-free?1 In addition, is there any job in the private sector that can guarantee that an employee will always be amongst the highest paid in that sector regardless of performance? There is much less job security in the private sector, and even top performers face continual and fierce competition. Civil servants have an advantage as they are shielded from the competition posed by foreign talent. Ministers, too, are guaranteed at least 5 years of job security from one election to the next. Moreover, for the ruling party, there is also the flexibility of changing election rules in their favour to significantly increase job security for their Ministers. After all, didn’t SM Goh and MM Lee previously admit that the GRC enables them to bring in Ministerial material? It is also ironic that we are consuming taxpayers’ money and resources discussing how much more of a fraction of a million to pay civil servants and Ministers, while we haggle over additional tens of dollars for our needy and disadvantaged citizens.
“After reading Mr. Low Thia Khiang’s Parliamentary Speech, i would like to make some corrections as I feel that some injustice has been done to civil servants. Why? The reason is because the rank and file civil servants have not received a pay raise for many years. The recent pay adjustments for rank and file civil servants have been only 3-5%, which is barely sufficient to pay for: 1) The increase in inflation every year. 2) GST increase and increases in transport costs. The opposition should empathise with the rank and file civil servants and should in fact question and propose performance KPI for ministers since they are the ones getting a much bigger pay rise (in millions).” – a civil servant
Our Proposal According to a 2005 report by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, the Singapore civil service has some of the highest paid civil servants in the world. Our government holds the view that this will ensure a clean, competent and effective civil service. However, the facts show that other countries with lower paid civil servants are also able to enjoy such qualities. Based on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and Global Competitiveness Index (GPI), Singapore ranks below Finland and Denmark for 2005 and 2006. However, the governing of a country should not only take into account these 2 factors, i.e. the level of corruption and global competitiveness. A more important factor that directly affects the lives of every Singaporean living here is the quality of life. A survey that evaluates 39 criteria to gauge the quality of life, including political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services, found in 2006 that Swiss cities have topped the annual survey again, while Singapore, with its highly paid and thus highly competent and clean government, ranked best only among Asian cities but was 34th in the world. (The Straits Times, 2 April 2007). Based on the above facts, it would be interesting to note how much the civil servants are paid in such countries. According to a United Nations report, the Switzerland Federal Office of Personnel revealed that the basic remuneration of civil servants range from 55,000 Swiss Franc to 321,000 Swiss Franc in 2006, which based on an exchange rate of 1.25, is about S$69,000 to S$402,000. Good performers receive merit increments of up to 6%, while worst-performing staff may get a decrease in salary. Although bonuses can reach 12% of salary for outstanding performance, and residence and overtime allowances are paid, it still seems that
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the highest paid Swiss civil servants receive a lower salary than what Singapore civil servants and Ministers receive. (Note: they have neither a prime minister nor a president.) The Workers’ Party is of the view that the government should consider modifying the current benchmarks and take into account international practices. In particular, countries such as Switzerland, Denmark and Finland could be taken into consideration. Denmark, like Singapore, employs a pay adjustment scheme to ensure that the pay of state employees in general and over a long period of time develops in parallel with the wages and salaries in the private sector. For the Danish, their pay adjustment scheme automatically adjusts the central government pay development to the private sector pay development, but subject to a certain time lag. Hong Kong also tried to maintain their civil service pay level with the private sector, but they only maintain the “broad comparability” and not any explicit link. Unlike Singapore, they all do not have a sure-win formula that ensures civil servants always have the best deal by benchmarking specifically to the top few earners. Basic salaries may be benchmarked broadly with the private sector in line with international best practice but we believe that performance pay should also be introduced to establish a visible correlation between performance and salary. Currently, the civil service has no financial bottom line in ensuring good outcomes, although part of the senior officers’ salaries is linked to GDP growth.2 Whilst it is necessary to link a percentage of salaries to performance, it is also imperative to provide a performance regime whereby it is possible to discriminate performers from non-performers or under-performers, and to reward them accordingly. In this respect, I welcome the adjustments in civil service pay structure just announced by the minister. But a performance-related pay system requires a comprehensive and objective system of measurement. In particular, performance appraisals have to be more vigorous and transparent to the public. Variable bonuses should only be given to involved civil servants and ministers if the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the respective ministries have been met. We recommend having different KPIs for different ministries from time to time so that Ministers and civil servants can concentrate their efforts in deriving the right policies for Singapore in their respective areas. For instance, some possible KPIs that the government can consider adopting at this point in time are :-
Recruiting & Retaining Talent MM Lee said that it is not possible to hire a foreign talent to run this country because political leaders must have the passion, the commitment and must share the dreams of the people. (The Straits Times, 4 November 2006). Likewise, such qualities are essential in each and every one of our civil servants. In fact, I believe that civil servants with such qualities will never be induced by the attractions of a private career and a private life no matter how great the financial rewards offered by the private sector. Although statistics show that officers aged between 28 and 33 made up more than 80% of resignations in the past 5 years, it is not unexpected that officers will review their options when their scholarship bonds end; the alarmingly high percentage speaks of a bigger problem – that scholarships funded out of taxpayers monies did not attract the right mix of people. In fact, some who left say they were drawn by the different challenges and new experiences, more so than by the money. In view of the above, I think more effort should be made to explore other recruitment and screening methods to attract and retain people with the right fit. We agree that public servants should not be expected to make unreasonable financial sacrifices to be in the public sector. However, neither should they be seen being paid unreasonable wages for their contributions. According to the Department of Statistics, the bottom and top ten decile of employed households registered an average monthly income of $300 and $6,990 respectively in 2006. Given such statistics, the argument that civil servants make unreasonable financial sacrifices is not convincing. There is simply no point in offering high remuneration just to entice people to serve if what they are interested in is to make more and more money for himself and his family in pursuit of material interests in life. I believe the real issue is how to find the right leaders to run Singapore and to ensure that Singapore continues to succeed. Benchmarking the civil service and Ministerial salaries to the crème de la crème of private sector income earners who may or may not be at the same top all the time, is controversial and distracting. I would like to end this speech by quoting what Chua Lee Hoong said in a Straits Times article (The Straits Times, 31 March 2007): “How much they are paid is secondary. Pay them well, but don’t let pay drive the search for leaders.”
• a 5% drop in the Gini coefficient reflecting efforts to reduce the income disparity by the PM • a 2% increase in the proportion of trips taken on public transport during the peak hours reflecting efforts to make public transport a choice mode by the MOT • a 5% increase in the total fertility rate reflecting efforts to address the ageing population by Ministers and civil servants involved in the Committee on Aging Population, and perhaps • a minimum long term unemployment rate reflecting efforts to address structural unemployment by MOM. By linking variable bonuses to clear and objective KPIs, the government can concentrate on making the right policies for Singapore rather than spending valuable resources and time tracking how much the private sector’s top earners have made each year and how the government should therefore be paid. In addition, this system will ensure that public officers are both accountable and responsible for the outcome of their formulated policies, and keep the government transparent to the public in terms of its achievements, capability and accountability.
“The point raised by Mr Low on comparing with Scandinavia seems to be a very valid argument. But MM Lee responded with fury, and argued that “Singapore is not Scandinavia”. When Mr Low asked why not, Lee answered that Singapore is in Asia... Are Asians are somehow incapable of being honest unless they are paid huge salaries? They are inferior to the Europeans when it comes to corruption? What happened to the idea of NATIONAL DUTY? Besides, ministers cannot engage in corruption unless the civil service is corrupt. If the civil service is not corrupt, then any ministerial decision which is illegal will be resisted. So, if you really want to prevent corruption, you should pay a lot more to lower-ranking civil servants, not to ministers.” – Jerome Tan
By Sylvia Lim, NCMP The Second Finance Minister has outlined increased social spending in the years ahead. This is to be expected of any government faced with an aging population, an increasing income gap and the threat of an underclass developing if the income gap is unchecked. Looking at the Budget offerings, I support the principle behind supplementing low wages and keeping our low wage workers employed. In an earlier television forum (30 Nov 2006), the Second Finance Minister had said that the increased social spending over the next 5 years would be between $2b to $4b more each year. Indeed, this has been borne out by the figures in this year’s budget estimates. The Total Expenditure for FY 2007 amounts to an increase of about $2.4b over the previous year. We in the Workers’ Party are not convinced that there is a need to raise Goods and Services Tax by 2% this year. Whether there is a need to raise it at all in the future would depend on the financial information and projections available to us at that time, including the impact of such an increase on our citizens. Sir, the Budget statement suggests that we will be losing some revenue from the proposed tax restructuring. Key items mentioned were the reduction in the corporate tax rate and some indirect taxes. But the key question is: assuming we do not raise GST, what is the likely net position? Will we still have enough revenues to fund the additional social spending of $2b to $4b per year? Land sales revenue The first question we want to ask is why land sales revenue is excluded from the budget. According to Budget papers, the revenue from land sales is about $4b to $5b per year. This figure by itself is more than sufficient to pay for the increased social spending of $2b to $4b per year. Economists have noted that excluding land sales from the Budget is overly conservative and not in line with international standards. The argument is that such revenue is recurrent income rather than capital in nature. The government usually leases out land and revenues accrue at regular intervals. Among those who have criticized our conservative accounting is the International Monetary Fund (ST 15/2/07). They have said that ‘The Government’s definition of Budget balance underestimates the strength of Singapore’s fiscal position as operating revenue excludes a substantial portion of investment income and earnings
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Impending revenue from casinos Next is the question of the Integrated Resorts (IRs). How much would these contribute to the taxman’s coffers?
from land leases,’ (2005). Last year, they advised that: ‘The authorities should take steps to compile and publish the consolidated public sector accounts in line with international accounting standards.’ Perhaps the government is excluding land sales from the Budget because it fears volatility due to market conditions and we cannot assume the incomes will always be there. Prime Minister had previously used the term “lumpy” to describe such revenues. This is a reasonable concern. However, even if we do not take the entire $4 or $5b income from land sales, surely we can budget based on a portion of the average revenues over the last few years? i.e. Instead of budgeting based on $4b, we could budget based on say half e.g. $2b? Surely the volatility cannot be so severe that we will have a year where land sales generate no revenue at all. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported in May 2006 that the Budget principles adopted by the Singapore government tend to underreport its true fiscal strength. Perhaps it is time to adopt the international benchmarks to reflect the true position. Net Investment Income contribution One missing piece of the GST debate puzzle is the impending change to the definition of Net Investment Income. We have been told that the Constitution would be amended to include realized capital gains as part of NII, which up to now was only restricted to interest and dividends. How much additional revenue will be available after the change? In response to our question in Parliament in January, Second Finance Minister said that the government was still working out the formula with the President and the details would only be available in the coming months. He mentioned that they were working on minimizing the volatility of the flows.
Singaporeans have noted that the announcement of the increase came at the first Parliamentary sitting after the May General Election. They have noted that the ruling party did not forewarn Singaporeans at the polls that this might be one of the first items on its agenda if re-elected. However, Prime Minister told Parliament in November that “a significant part of the returns (on reserves) are capital gains” (Hansard, Nov 13). He noted that on the average, we should expect a buffer from the new NII definition. Based on the size of the government investments, some economists have provided guesstimates that capital gains could boost NII by another $2b to $3b per year. (ST 15/2/07) The government has been telling us that it is “not sufficient” to rely on the expected increase in NII to fund social spending; hence we need to raise GST. But how are we to assess whether that statement is valid or not, if we have no idea about the formula to be used and some ballpark figures about what we can expect from NII? Since it is only a matter of months before the Constitutional amendment is tabled, why not discuss this whole question of GST increase together with that amendment? It may turn out later that we find that the NII amendment itself can contribute say an additional $2b, and that we can manage the volatility of the flows. When and if that happens, there would be no need to tax the people via the GST increase. Instead, by implementing the GST increase now ahead of the NII amendment, the government is not being fair to those interested to find out whether the GST increase is really needed.
The IRs will be operational in 2009.
Increased revenues from personal income taxes, statutory board contributions and stamp duty The next question concerns the increased revenue from other sources such as personal income tax, statutory board contributions and stamp duty. (Based on Budget Highlights Table 2.1) The government projections for FY 2007 show an increase in collections from personal income tax by $480m. The statutory boards are expected to also contribute $410m more in FY 2007 over the previous year. Together, the increased receipts from these 2 heads of operating revenue amount to close to $1b. As the property market recovers, and more people buy and sell property, the government collections in stamp duty increased significantly last year. It was reported (BT 12/2/07) that stamp duty revenue rose 61% last year, which was the sharpest increase of all tax revenues collected. The amount of $1.3b was about half a billion more than the average annual stamp duty collection in the preceding 5 years. A reasonable question to ask is whether the uptrend in these revenues will continue. I have also noted the possibility of a reduction in personal income tax in the future. However, the government prognosis is high growth for Singapore in the next 5 years, growth which (quoting MM Lee Kuan Yew) would take us from being in the “lower half of the First World” to the “upper half”. Accordingly, it is reasonable to expect increased revenues from these sources. Effect of Corporate tax rate cut? Next, what is the likely effect of the corporate tax rate cut - will the government revenues suffer? We have been told that the corporate tax cut will cost the government $800m per year. However, a Business Times report dated 12 Feb 2007 noted that the buoyant economy in 2006 saw corporate tax revenue increase by 17% to $8.3b. Analysts noted that if companies continue to do well, then the tax collections even under the reduced rate will not suffer. I accept the government’s point that that there is a worldwide trend of reducing corporate tax. (BT 22/1/07) KPMG conducted a tax survey covering 86 countries which noted that corporate income taxes across these countries had fallen between 1993 and 2006. However, the same study noted that a corporate tax cut “more often than not pays for itself”. Citing Ireland as an example, it noted that the tax cut stimulated growth which in turn enabled Ireland’s GDP to go into double digits and attract foreign capital and talent. Since this is clearly the goal of this government as well, does the government not expect that the cut will stimulate growth and compensate for the paper loss in tax revenue? Will the corporate tax reduction reduce the corporate tax collected? The data suggests that the government may actually end up better off.
Under the Casino Control Act (S 146), the casino operators would need to pay a tax of 5% of the gross gaming revenue from premium players; and 15% of the gross gaming revenue from non-premium players. Casino memberships will also generate turnover which will be taxed. This is not to mention the collateral businesses the government expects to be boosted in the accommodation, food and beverage and retail sectors. How much tax revenue can the government expect from the IRs? This remains to be seen, of course. Nevertheless, if the expectation of analysts is accurate, the annual casino taxes could reap between US$1b to US$2.5b, which in Singapore dollars is between S$1.5b to S$3.8b.1(TODAY, 15 Dec 2006). These amounts are equivalent to a GST hike of between 2 to 5%! If the government were willing, it could manage its existing revenues prudently without increasing GST, and then wait till the casino taxes kicked in around 2010 to assess the position again. This is only 3 years away. According to government expectations, Singapore will continue to do well in the next 5 years. If so, we should be able to manage for the next 3 years till the casino revenues come in. Timing Finally, I would like to touch on the timing of the GST hike announcement. In November, Prime Minister rightly asked about whether we should increase GST now or wait. He was worried then that Hongkong might reduce its tax rates further and introduce a consumption tax themselves. That has now proven to be unfounded, as the Hongkong government decided to heed the public backlash and find other funding for its budget. Singaporeans have noted that the announcement of the increase came at the first Parliamentary sitting after the May General Election. They have noted that the ruling party did not forewarn Singaporeans at the polls that this might be one of the first items on its agenda if re-elected. According to Senior Minister, when the ruling party goes to the polls, it would concentrate on telling the people just the good parts and think about how to fund its promises later. In this same vein, is the government planning its agenda around the election cycle once again i.e. increase GST now, manage the fall-out and assess the situation before holding the next GE? Based on the additional revenues from other sources, I do not believe that a GST increase is needed now. So why is the government doing this? The GST increase is a convenient way to tax the people to have a broad-based revenue source. The government wants to be in a comfortable fiscal position and has decided that the people will pay. Exactly one month ago (28 Jan), I met a man aged about 60 at Ang Mo Kio. He was telling me about his disillusionment with the government and the sequence of events leading to the GST hike. I would like to share his message with the House. His message to the government was this: “Love people, not things; use things, don’t use people”. Second Finance Minister responded on 1 March that this is an over-estimate. 1
By Andrew Loh “Is our society moving towards being a very punitive society, and is this good for an inclusive society? According to the 7th World Prison Population List compiled by King’s College International Centre for Prison Studies (www.prisonstudies.org), Singapore has one of the highest imprisonment rates in Asia (350 per 100,000 population), excluding DRC population.” - Sylvia Lim, Chairman, Workers’ Party
necessary to increase the maximum jail terms by 3 times or 4 times. Are we over-reacting to particular incidents, out of proportion with the offence?” Ms Lim asked the audience.
do. She suggested that perhaps it is time for the government to consider using 18 years as a general cut-off point so that our young adults can exercise choices at their age.
Accused persons may be pressured to plead guilty Ms Lim also shared the concern of fellow panellist Thomas Koshy that with increases in prison terms, people who are charged may be pressured into pleading guilty.
“It is useful to look at international benchmarks. By and large, the age of majority in most countries is 18, a recognition that children are maturing faster than before. Is there any reason to think that our young people are less mature than their peers elsewhere? I think it may be time for us to consider lowering the age of majority to 18 as well.”
“You may want to fight the case in court, but as we know, people who claim trial get higher sentences than those who plead guilty. Faced with a high maximum jail term, some people will not be willing to take that risk. Is it good if people plead guilty all the time? It may save the government time and money, but the risk is that the prosecution and police will become shoddier in their work.” Asking the Ministry of Home Affairs to justify the proposed changes, Ms Lim highlighted another concern – that of allowing judges to combine all the 3 types of punishment of jail, fine and caning in one case.
The Workers’ Party conducted a public forum on the government’s proposed changes to the Penal Code on 3 Feb, 2007, at its party headquarters. Chaired by party treasurer, Eric Tan, the forum was the first in a series of expected public forums to celebrate the party’s 50th anniversary this year. Besides WP chairman Sylvia Lim, the other speakers at the forum included Dr Anthony Yeo, Consultant Therapist of the Counselling and Care Centre, Mr Thomas Koshy, a litigation lawyer and freelance columnist for the TODAY newspaper, and Mr Firuz Khan, WP Youth Wing Exco member. Why we should be concerned The Workers’ Party chairman focused her speech on 4 areas of the amendments: a) Increase in punishments for many offences b) Sentencing options c) Message for young people d) Some aspects missing from the Bill Explaining why Singaporeans should be concerned about the proposed changes to the Penal Code, Ms Lim stressed that it is important to bring balance to the issue of crime, law and order.
Currently, judges are only allowed to mete out any 2 of the 3 types of punishment in any one case. The rationale behind this is to protect the offender from excessive punishment. “MHA has not described the situations when all 3 forms of punishment might be appropriate. The general understanding of sentencing principles is that jail and caning are generally suitable for crimes of violence, while non-violent offenders should get jail and fine. It is hard to think of what kind of offender should get the triple sentence, which is a big change from the current law”, adds Ms Lim. Missing aspects of proposed changes While she welcomes the removal of mandatory minimum sentences, the WP Chairman says that the amendments seem to be taken mainly from a prosecution point of view, without reviewing the section on Defences as well. “Some of the defences need a closer look e.g. the defence of duress i.e. that a person was forced by a threat of death to commit a crime. This defence is too limited as it only covers a person who committed an offence while threatened with being killed, but not if he committed the offence because his daughter would be killed. Unfortunately, the government has not looked at the defence angle at all.”
Mr Koshy wondered if the amendments were too skewed in favour of women. Workers’ Party Youth Wing Exco member, Firuz Khan, touched on the lack of debate and scrutiny of such issues, where the mainstream media tends to take a pro-government stance and there aren’t many Non Governmental Organisations here to push such issues, unlike in the United Kingdom where vigorous debate takes place. Singaporeans need to get involved Calling on Singaporeans to ‘get involved’ in public debates, Dr Yeo hoped that this would allow the authorities to know that ‘we are concerned’ about. Emphasising that he is at the forum not as a party member, he urged all Singaporeans not to leave it to the opposition parties to voice out these concerns. Dr Yeo – drawing from his many years of experience as a counsellor – touched on the topics of marital rape, emotional blackmail and post-traumatic stress disorder of women who suffer from sexual abuse in marriage – areas in which there has been no research done in Singapore, he noted. Q&A Responding to questions from the audience about the WP’s stand on gay sex, Ms Sylvia Lim revealed that the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) had debated the issue ‘extensively’ but had been unable to come to a consensus. “There is sympathy for the liberal view,” she said. And since the party’s CEC was ‘divided’ on the issue, the Workers’ Party ‘will not be making any submissions’ to the government with regards to gay sex.
The proposals in the Penal Code Amendments will introduce 19 new offences and will also include increases in prison terms for certain offences by 3 or 4 times.
“Right now, we do not feel we can canvass that agenda,” Ms Lim added.
One example is the increase in jail time for anyone who assaults a Member of Parliament (MP). This will be increased from the current maximum of 7 years to 20 years, which is almost an increase of 3 times.
Another member of the audience asked the panel about the proposed amendments to the Penal Code on new media. Mr Thomas Koshy responded by saying that he did not see much in the proposed amendments which specifically discriminated against new media. “I tried looking for it but nothing grabbed me”, he said.
Being part of an unlawful assembly currently has a maximum sentence of 6 months. This will be upped to 2 years, an increase of 4 times the current sentence. “Since the government says it has not increased prison terms unnecessarily, we must ask the government why it is
Other issues Mr Thomas Koshy focused his speech on sexual offences. Calling the proposed amendments “gender-biased’, he cited the example of sexual intercourse with minors. Although tougher penalties will be introduced for men who engage in sexual intercourse with girls under 16 years of age, it is not an offence for women to engage in sex with boys under 18.
Ms Lim also touched on the inconsistency of the law with regards to what young people can do and what they cannot
After the forum, guests, the members of the media and party members mingled and chatted further over a tea reception.
By Hougang Girl At the age of 3, my family and I moved from our kampong in Lorong Napiri to a HDB flat. The government had bought over the farms owned by my late grandfather and arranged for us to relocate into a new block. My new home was located along Hougang Avenue 5. This stretch of blocks would later be carved out from Punggol constituency to form Hougang constituency. You can say that I have lived throughout the entire period of Hougang constituency under a Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP). I saw for myself that the quality of a constituency under a non-PAP MP is no worse off than one under a PAP MP. Initially, for someone who lives in this “special” constituency, I was neither interested in politics nor bothered about national issues, much less join a political party. But later, I became inspired by my grandfather, who had always enjoyed helping his neighbours and friends. I felt that I had to continue his good work and so decided to join Hougang Constituency Committee (HGCC) to help the elderly and needy people and families in Hougang. My activitism in HGCC and Hougang later spiralled onto the Party level and I joined the Workers’ Party in 2003. By then, I felt there is very thin line between politics and social work – both aim to serve and benefit the populace as a whole. Now, I strongly feel the importance of having more than a single party ruling Singapore. It is important to provide an alternative point of view in Parliament and competition
during election time to remind the ruling party that it cannot have it easy, and that it has to work hard for the people. My opinion of “Opposition” I feel that a political party should not always be looked upon with suspicion. Through PAP propaganda, people tend to think that “the Opposition” politicises everything for political capital and opposes for the sake of opposing. I do not agree. I see that the Workers’ Party has a role to play in a pro-society and community capacity albeit it is not a welfare organisation. Making friends Throughout the course of my involvement in Workers’ Party, I got to know a number of people and made many new friends. Among them is none other than Mr Low Thia Khiang himself, Secretary-General of the Party and Hougang MP. He may not be as “high-profile” as other past and present opposition leaders but I think his commitment speaks for itself. From the time he took over the Party till today, the Party has been considerably renewed. This debunks the belief that a political leader needs to be well-known in order for a party to grow. Instead, hard work on the ground is the major factor. Mr Low is also someone who leads by example and is prepared to accept criticism from members at all levels. He prefers to convince by debate when it comes to deciding on the Party’s direction and future rather than putting his foot down on the Party Council to adopt his decision.
The Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, joined the Party only two years before me but was quickly saddled with the responsibility of chairmanship in a male-dominated political environment. I admire the fact that she is able to contribute to the Party’s development in a challenging situation. However kudos also goes to the veterans who are open enough to accept her leadership. Despite having lost the election battle in Aljunied GRC and other constituencies at the 2006 General Elections, she and the other teams took the defeat in their stride and are determined to fight at the next one. Not forgetting the long-time Party members like Ee Ping, “Ah Luck”, Eng To, Ah Chwee and Encik Rahim, who are always willing to share their experience and are not selfish to impart knowledge and guide the youths along the course. Although these veterans are between 50 to 70 years of age and have been participating in Party activities for decades, they still turn up for the weekly public outreach sessions without fail. Even some of our youth members cannot match their enthusiasm. Their energy levels are indeed commendable. Overall, by joining the Workers’ Party, I have learnt many things and I am honoured to have a chance to serve the people and work with such committed people.
By Hougang Boy I’m sure many of you would remember particular incidents in your life which still “haunt’ you today. It may be a terribly embarrassing moment that you remember, or something which you deeply regretted having done, or perhaps an injustice you had been subjected to. For me, an incident which I would never forget happened when I was a primary 4 schoolboy at Montfort School in Hougang. (Back then, the school was located along Upper Serangoon Road, next to where the Nativity church still stands today.) One evening, when we were lined-up for our daily flag-lowering assembly, my classmate approached me. He was a notorious bully whom everyone knew had no interest in his studies. He blurted at me: “Lend me 10 cents!” In those days, 10 cents was not a small sum, especially for a little boy like me. Mummy had given me 30 cents that day, and I had spent 5 cents on a cup of drink and 5 cents on a cookie, intending to save the remaining 20 cents so I could buy that lovely pencil box I had seen in the bookshop window. “Lend me 10 cents!” he continued. Frightened, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a 20cent coin. “I only have 20 cents,” I stuttered. “Never mind, I got change!” came his quick reply, as he whipped out a 10-cent coin, put it in my palm, and snatched
my 20-cent coin. Until today, I never got my 10 cents back. The beauty of such memories is that, despite all the years that have passed, recalling the incident still makes me immensely upset. I know it was only 10 cents. What can 10 cents buy today anyway? Perhaps just enough to pay for using a public toilet (but without toilet paper, for which you have to pay another 30 cents). But that is not the point. To a rich boy, 10 cents might be peanuts, but to me at that time, 10 cents was half my wealth. Today, I still remember the “pain” of losing that 10 cents. I can still feel the anxiety and fear as I pondered whether to approach the bully to reclaim the money and risk getting beaten up by him. Just like that little boy who lost his precious 10 cents, many poor Singaporeans today are very worried each time the government raises the GST, each time transportation fares go up, and each time utilities charges escalate. It’s true, the government hands out workfare bonuses and rebates. I also received a “rebate” of 10 cents from the bully, but that didn’t make me feel any better. I still lost my 10 cents! Perhaps I could say I was lucky that the bully didn’t demand for 20 cents, and he was kind enough to return me the change. But what irks me is that he was not penniless after all, as he had 10 cents on him in the first place. (And only god knows how much more he had in his pocket!).
Similarly, reading about the recent salary increase for Ministers and top civil servants, I get the same uneasy feeling of a contradiction. On the one hand, the government claims that one of its priorities is to close the income gap between the top earners and the low income group, and therefore hands out bigger GST rebates to the less well-off, and smaller rebates to the richer ones who live in bigger houses. But the next moment, they start handing out massive pay increases of as much as 33% for top civil servants, including Ministers, who are already earning huge sums, while civil servants at the “bottom” get only a one-off bonus of 3-5%. How is the income gap ever going to be closed? Looking back over the years, I still wonder if I should have confronted my classmate (the bully) for the money? Would I have gotten my 10 cents back? Would he really have beaten me up? Maybe it was my imagination which made him more fearsome than he actually was! Because of my inherent fear, I suffered in silence till this day. I would have to continue being “haunted” by questions of “what if” that would never be answered. In the same way, if we Singaporeans continue to be afraid of voting for the opposition, we would never know what we could have gained. We would just have to accept whatever is decided for us by the government. Maybe it is just our imagination which tells us that something bad will happen to us if we voted for the opposition. Because of this inherent fear, we would have to suffer in silence. And we would have to continue being “haunted” by questions of “what if” that would never be answered.
Workfare without GST increase? Eric Tan - Treasurer of Why Not? By WP and Chairman of the WP 50th Anniversary Committee
This year’s budget has many goodies, but these goodies come with a price - an increased GST. Globalisation has enriched Singapore with more investments and trade, more high valueadded jobs and more economic activity. All these good things ultimately translate into more tax revenue. Many have benefited from this, but some have not; the negative consequence of technological advancements and globalisation is that the lower income group has been left behind. Workfare is an excellent response to this widening income gap problem. We applaud the government for changing their mindset and for the first time coming up with structural welfare. However they have given this to us with a price, the increase in GST. The PM has likened the increase to GST to medicine, which should be taken in one gulp. This is typical of the PAP government. Whenever they give us sweets, it must be accompanied with bitter medicine. Embracing globalisation means we have a healthy economy; in fact, did we not just have 7.9 % growth in our economy in 2006? We believe we are healthy and can take the sweets without the medicine. In the Singapore budget presented on 15 February this year, it was calculated that workfare would cost us $200 million for 2007. Despite a decrease in the corporate tax rate, the increase in corporate and income taxes projected for 2007 alone is $630 million. This figure shows that we are healthy and it should be more than enough to pay for workfare bonuses to the people. What is the increase in GST for then? The government says that it is for other public spending and to make up for drop in the corporate tax rate. The purpose in reducing corporate tax is to stimulate economic activity which should in turn mean increased tax revenue from the business sector. This revenue should be more than sufficient to offset the drop in the corporate tax rate. The other major government expenditure is money for absorbing the GST increase in certain cases. Well, if there was no GST increase in the first place, then there is nothing to absorb. It doesn’t make sense to put some money in one of our pockets, while taking out more from another pocket. Interestingly, we did not see any measures in the Budget to cut the costs of running the government. Are we financing a bloated government? Is this a tax-and-spend government? Our ministers always liken themselves to CEOs of private companies. However, CEOs cannot normally pass on the production cost to customers so easily. The CEOs have a challenging job of getting the job done at a lower cost and keeping prices the same or lower. Customers always demand more for less. This is a challenge which CEOs of private companies face. Are our Prime Minister and his ministers challenged in the same way? If not, then why are they pegging their salaries to private sector CEOs? We must demand the best from our government and ask for workfare without any increase in GST.
By Lilian Lee - WP Youth Wing Exco member Recently, I read the book, A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy, Reflections by Ngiam Tong Dow. Ngiam is one of the men behind what Singapore is today. He had served in the Singapore’s administrative service for more than 40 years before retiring in 1999. He had worked with two men who had contributed to the economic stability of Singapore - Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr Hon Sui Sen - both of whom he greatly admired. Ngiam was asked, “With all this pessimism surrounding Singapore’s prospects today, what’s your personal prognosis? Will Singapore survive SM Lee Kuan Yew?” And the frank reply is, “Unequivocally yes, Singapore will survive SM Lee but provided he leaves the right legacy. What sort of legacy he wants to leave is for him to say, but I, a blooming upstart, dare to suggest to him that we should open up politically and allow talent to be spread throughout our society so that an alternative leadership can emerge…… I think our leaders have to accept that Singapore is larger than the PAP.” That comment inspired me to write this article – what exactly does the “right legacy” mean to me? What is the right legacy? The current PAP government has been ruling for the past few decades. Not only must our leaders have the heart of a lion in order to thrive and survive in the new era, but diversity is also a key factor. An alternative leadership or party has to emerge. In the last General Elections (GE 2006), there wasn’t any increase in the number of opposition members in Parliament, although there was a percentage increase in votes for the opposition. Mr Low Thia Khiang won 62.74% in Hougang while Mr Chiam See Tong won 55.84% in Potong Pasir, as compared to 54.98% and 52.43% respectively, during the GE 2001. This is indeed a very encouraging sign. From this GE, we also saw certain solid examples of why we should not allow our current government the luxury of a strong mandate without putting up a fight: § The promise of upgrading was used during the GE if PAP wins. Certain blocks in East Coast GRC were
promised lift upgrading during the campaigning period. If there had been a walkover in East Coast GRC, would such promises have been made? Similar tactics were used in Aljunied GRC too. § Senior residents of Hougang were given free sumptuous breakfast. Again, would this have happened if Hougang were a PAP to start with? What happened after GE 2006? When Mr Low, the Secretary General of The Workers’ Party, retained Hougang Constituency once again, the breakfast stopped, and so did Mr Eric Low’s Meet-The-People sessions. § After GE 2006, we saw that residents became better aware of when and where their constituency’s MeetThe-People sessions are held. Instead of the existing one session, some constituencies have increased it to twice a week. Residents benefited the most from these changes. In other words, with competition, the government is working harder, and this, of course, will benefit the country and its people. I, for one, was really elated to see that the PAP was not returned to power on Nomination Day. From the examples that I had cited earlier, it shows that competition is good. Only when there is competition would improvement come. It’s healthy to have competition; a monopoly will only make leaders more complacent. GE 2006 saw younger people voting and there were a lot of first-time voters, including myself. Singaporeans are thinking and looking at what the leaders are doing. They visited blogs, forums, read papers, attended rallies, etc to find out and learn more. I have to say that Singaporeans also show it in their votes that they know what they are doing because in this GE, our government got a 66.6% win, a drop of 8.4% from the last GE in 2001. So what does this tell us? In conclusion, I feel that the “right legacy” that Singapore should have in order to survive, is for it to be open – open in terms of being ready to accept new ideas, new people, and new leadership; open to the idea that the ruler (government) is not always right, and that it has a lot to learn from the ruled (the people).
The Workers’ Party 50th Anniversary The Workers’ Party is 50 years old this November. Given Singapore’s challenging political landscape, the survival and successes of an opposition party over the past halfcentury is indeed good cause for celebration.
Singaporeans a viable alternative choice.
Singapore’s first Chief Minister Mr. David Marshall founded the Workers’ Party in 1957. The subsequent years under the leadership of Mr. JB Jeyaretnam and Mr. Low Thia Khiang saw the Workers’ Party continue to live out the values of sincerity, compassion and justice. The Workers’ Party has all these years fought hard to give Singaporeans a choice. Mr. JB Jeyaretnam made history in 1981 by winning the first opposition seat since 1965 after a gap of 15 years. Under Mr. Low’s leadership, the party continues to renew its policies and membership so as to remain relevant to the new generation of Singaporeans.
On behalf of the Workers’ Party, I would like to invite all Singaporeans to join us in our celebrations. Please check our website www.wp.sg for more information.
To the veteran members- our deepest appreciation for your faith and thanks for keeping the flag flying high all this time. To the youth members- thank you for having the courage to stand up and be counted in our good fight to offer
To the members of the public-we feel your support and we trust we can count on you in the years to come.
Eric Tan Chairman, 50th Anniversary Committee JOIN US for our Anniversary Dinner – Bring your family and friends! Date : 3 November 2007 Time : 8.00 pm Venue : Fortunate Restaurant, Toa Payoh Lor 4, #02-602, Singapore 310181 Price : $50.00 per pax Please contact Melvin Tan at : firstname.lastname@example.org or 96654266 for tickets.
Koh Choong Yong
Background Choong Yong grew up in Toa Payoh and Bishan. His father, a fishmonger at a Toa Payoh wet market, was the sole breadwinner. Choong Yong and his younger brother were brought up strictly and learnt not to challenge authority, even when something seems overtly unfair. “That reflects how my parents themselves view authority”, explains Choong Yong. Education He studied at Pei Chun Public School, Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College, and obtained a BSc (Computer & Information Systems) from National University of Singapore (NUS). “Politics was never on my mind then, although I was always heavily involved in student activities,” he recalls. Career Upon graduation from NUS, he worked as an IT Analyst at a multi-national corporation, Andersen Consulting (now known as Accenture), for 2 years before joining a local start-up, Aretae. The next five years were spent working in various positions in the company, from an Application Developer to a Manager. “Working gave me a broader perspective in life, but it consumed my life and there was little space for thinking. As a result, I was “de-politicised”, much like many of my peers,” explains Choong Yong. Why he joined the WP? He had lived a large part of his life without having a chance to vote, so when the WP sent a team to contest in AMK GRC in the General Elections in 2006, it set Choong Yong seriously thinking. He started reading numerous blogs, searching through some of the Acts, combing through the Parliamentary reports, devouring books on Singapore’s political history, writing blog essays and attending a number of Open House Sessions at the Workers’ Party headquarters at Syed Alwi Road. He got involved in some of the WP’s activities, and eventually signed up as a member. “What brought me to the Workers’ Party was the strong feeling that something needs to be changed about how decisions are being made and matters are being handled in Singapore,” declares Choong Yong. Although his involvement in the WP got his parents worried, Choong Yong felt strongly that contributing to an opposition party in Singapore is also an act of patriotism. In August 2006, he ran for a position in the WP Youth Wing and was elected as an Executive Committee member. Joining the same people who had triggered his “political awakening”, he worked with the Central Area Committee (CAC) led by Yaw Shin Leong, getting in touch with residents and their concerns. Philosophy Choong Yong feels that, for a better Singapore, there needs to a strong opposition presence in Parliament. “People should be able to speak up for themselves, without fear of a backlash. Policies should not leave anyone behind,” says Choong Yong. He adds: “Huge odds are stacked against the opposition, given our limited resources compared to the seemingly unlimited resources of the PAP. However, as long as we persist, I believe we will succeed - maybe not at the next election, maybe not at the one after next, but one fine day, we will make it.” A big fan of the Taiwanese rock band, “May Day”, Choong Yong also loves to karaoke.
Background Lilian is the eldest child in her family, and has 2 younger sisters – one is currently working as an Auditor and the other one is pursuing her degree at RMIT in Australia. Her father, now retired, used to be a cleaning contractor, while her mother works as a baby-sitter. Being the eldest in the family, she has developed both leadership and strong critical thinking skills; she is able to gain the respect and confidence of her siblings as well as her cousins. Education Lilian began her education in a neighborhood School, Elling Primary School (which is no longer in existence due to low enrolment), and did her secondary education in Holy Innocents’ High School. Being a really talkative and outspoken in expressing her criticisms, she was often ticked off by her teachers. However, she was well-liked by her peers and fellow school mates due to her out-going personality. In 1999, she graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a Diploma in Business Studies and went on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree at Curtin University of Technology in Australia, majoring in Sales & Marketing. Career Possessing an outgoing interest in people, she does not like desk-bound jobs and decided that a career in the sales industry was the best for her. She has been actively involved in both industrial and financial sales for the past 6 years, and is currently a Recruitment Manager with a private institution which allows her to deal with people once again. From her years of experience in the sales line, she has polished her communication, interpersonal and persuasive skills. She is now learning Bahasa Melayu to reach out to more people and interact effectively with them. Why she joined the WP? For 25 years, Lilian lived in Marine Parade GRC, before shifting to Ang Mo Kio GRC 3 years ago, and finally got a chance to cast her first vote at the General Elections in 2006. While helping the Workers’ Party in its campaigning that year, she realised that there was a lack of information about the opposition in Singapore, causing the public to have wrong impressions about opposition politics. She strongly believes that these misconceptions had to be corrected urgently, and decided she should come forward and make a positive difference. Lilian officially joined the Workers’ Party in June 2006, and was elected into the Youth Wing Executive Committee. She was eventually appointed Organising Secretary of the Youth Wing. She says of her experience in the party: “I have improved my organisational skills and I am really glad that I have found a few bosom friends in the party.” Philosophy Lilian hopes to enhance the awareness and interest in politics among women in Singapore. “Women today are receiving higher education and are contributing more to the country’s economic growth. So their voices, concerns and ideas should be heard and recognised,” she reasons. Encouraging more women to come forward to join her in making a difference, she adds: “Don’t think that there is little or not much you can do. Every little effort counts! Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do!” During her free time, Lilian likes to let her creativity run wild. She loves to make her own fashion accessories such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She also adores singing, and karaoke is one of her pastimes. Echoing Stevie Wonder, Lilian says: “We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.”
By Melvin Tan - WP Youth Wing Exco member In July 2006, two months after the General Election (GE), taxi flag-down fares and peak-period surcharge rates were raised on the basis that fuel prices had shot up. Based on the same justification, came the hike in bus fares in October 2006. While the increase involved a few cents per trip, no one commutes around once a month or year and the accumulative financial impact of regular travelling schedules may be felt, especially by poorer and/or unemployed Singaporeans. And there were also other increases after the GE, most notably university fees, Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) rates and soon the GST which further add to their burden. The price of oil has been cited as a major reason for the hikes but could this have been kept under control? When a nation’s public transport system, which ought to be under the purview of a national government, are in the hands the private sector, profits becomes a necessity. The management has to meet the expectations of shareholders for handsome profits surpassing those of previous financial years. In order to achieve the targets, the most convenient and easy solution will naturally be to jack up fare prices. We are not advocating a subsidy structure. But it would be good if all public transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major trunk/inter-town routes could be brought under a National Transport Corporation which will oversee and provide universal transport service to all. This will ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport network to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and cost of overheads incurred by multiple operators. The National Transport Corporation should not be profit-oriented and should aim to provide public transportation service on the basis of cost and depreciation recovery. The government should build the infrastructure and pay for the initial operational equipment of public transport service as a social investment. The National Transport Corporation is to ensure its proper routine and cyclical maintenance as well as timely replacement, the costs of which should be borne by the Corporation. The PAP government should also seriously ponder possible solutions such as reducing taxes on petrol and diesel and exemption of ERP charges for taxis. Inter-town feeder bus services could also be de-regulated to allow individual private operators to run the service, similar to the mini-bus system in Hong Kong. The high mobility and relatively low overheads of the private operators would give them the flexibility to effectively meet the requirements of the local residents. The bottom-line: Public Transport is an essential service and should not be profit oriented.
Oleh Abdul Salim bin Harun Ahli Jawatan Kuasa Pusat Parti Pekerja (WP) Kini, seperti yang sudah dimaklumkan kepada semua, rakyat Singapura akan sekali lagi menghadapi kenaikan didalam kos kehidupan seharian. Ini menyusuli pengumuman yang telah dibuat bahawa kadar cukai GST akan dinaikkan daripada 5% kepada 7%! Pada masa yang sama, kita turut diberitahu bahawa gaji Presiden Republik Singapura juga akan menghadapi satu kenaikan. Daripada $2.5 juta yang diperolehinya sekarang kepada hampir $2.7 juta setahun! Satu kenaikan sebanyak $200,000! Kadar cukai GST untuk rakyat akan dinaikkan, gaji bagi Presiden juga akan dinaikkan. Adakah selepas ini kita akan juga turut diberitahu bahawa gaji menteri-menteri akan juga dinaikkan, agar seiring dengan kenaikan gaji presiden? Bagaimana pula dengan gaji rakyat biasa seperti anda dan saya? Adakah ia akan dinaikkan ataupun tidak? Bersama-samalah kita tunggu… Kenaikan kadar GST bagi rakyat, kenaikan gaji bagi Presiden! Inilah realiti kehidupan yang terpaksa ditempuhi oleh rakyat Singapura pada hari ini. Secara terus-terusan, kita menghadapi kenaikan kos dalam kehidupan seharian kita. Bagi kita yang bukan daripada golongan berada mahupun mewah dengan harta-benda ataupun wang, kita terpaksa bekerja bertungkus-lumus setiap hari dan kadangkala terpaksa pula melakukan kerja lembur demi untuk menyara kehidupan keluarga. Ada pula diantara kita yang sehingga terpaksa bekerja dua pekerjaan sekaligus hanya untuk menampung kos kehidupan yang semakin hari semakin meningkat! Adakah ini kehidupan yang kita mahukan? Kenaikan kadar GST bagi rakyat, kenaikan gaji bagi Presiden! Bagi mereka daripada golongan berada mahupun mewah, kenaikan kadar cukai GST ini sudah pasti tidak akan menimbulkan sebarang masalah kepada mereka. Tetapi lain pula jadinya kepada mereka yang kurang berkemampuan. Apakah akan terjadi kepada nasib golongan yang kurang berkemampuan ini? Walaupun pemerintah ada mengumumkan mengenai pakej bantuan yang disasar kepada golongan yang tidak berkemampuan ini untuk mengharungi kenaikan kadar cukai GST, harus diingatkan dan jangan pula lupa bahawa cukai GST ini akan berada di dalam kehidupan kita untuk seumur hidup! Adakah pakej bantuan yang diberikan oleh pemerintah bersifat seumur hidup ataupun bersifat bantuan satu kali pemberian sahaja? Dan jangan pula kita lupa akan kemungkinan kadar cukai GST akan terus dinaikkan, misalnya sehingga 15% pada masa hadapan. Ini adalah satu kemungkinan, dan mungkin juga ia akan menjadi satu realiti! Sudah pasti, dengan kenaikan kadar cukai GST ini, ia akan sedikit sebanyak menimbulkan pelbagai masalah kepada mereka yang kurang berkemampuan dan juga sebahagian daripada kita. Perbe-
lanjaan bagi keperluan keluarga dan diri sendiri harus dihitung kembali. Adakah mungkin kita terpaksa berhutang untuk menyara kehidupan kita sekeluarga? Ataupun terpaksa meminta sedekah dan menagih simpati orang ramai? Ataupun kita sekeluarga terpaksa pula hidup merempat kerana sudah tidak mampu lagi untuk menyara hidup dan terpaksa menjual rumah? Anggota parlimen daripada Parti Tindakan Rakyat (PAP). Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Setiausaha Parlimen (Pembangunan Negara) dan juga anggota parlimen bagi kawasanundi GRC Sembawang, telah menolak dua buah kes keluarga susah dan jadikan mereka sebagai contoh keluarga yang telah mensia-siakan wang hasil penjualan rumah mereka hingga hidup merempat . Walaupun beliau telah menerangkan opsyen yang boleh diambil oleh dua keluarga tadi, tapi kita semua maklum bahwa setiap pilihan hidup tidak selalunya berjalan lancar. Lebih banyak maklumat diperlukan sebelum merumuskan yang dua buah keluarga tadi melalui nasib sekarang ini dengan rela dan bahawa kos kehidupan yang tinggi tiada kaitan langsung dalam perkara ini. Di dalam Manifesto Parti Pekerja bagi Pilihanraya Umum 2006, kami ada mengusulkan agar diketepikan cukai GST terhadap keperluan-keperluan asas. Walaupun GST adalah cukai penggunaan (Consumption tax), yang patut dicukai ialah bagi barangan-barangan mewah (Luxury goods). Parti Pekerja mengusulkan agar keperluan-keperluan asas seperti beras dan sebagainya tidak harus dikenakan cukai langsung! Saya pasti, dengan langkah ini, sedikit sebanyak ia akan membantu mereka yang tidak berkemampuan atau mempunyai keluarga yang besar untuk mengharungi kesan daripada kenaikan kadar cukai GST ini dengan lebih baik lagi. Kenaikan kadar cukai GST bagi rakyat, kenaikan gaji bagi Presiden. Diwaktu mana rakyat akan terpaksa mengharungi masa-masa sukar dengan kenaikan kadar cukai GST ini, gaji Presiden pula dinaikkan. Seharusnya, rakyat perlu diberitahu dengan jelas atas sebab-sebab apakah gaji bagi Presiden Republik Singapura dinaikkan. Apakah alasan-alasan kukuh yang ada untuk menaikkan gaji Presiden? Presiden Singapura adalah Presiden yang dilantik oleh rakyat. Rakyat perlu tahu. Rakyat perlukan penjelasan! Seharusnya, sebagai sebuah pemerintah yang bertanggungjawab, satu penjelasan harus diberikan kepada rakyat mengapa gaji bagi Presiden perlu dinaikkan. Adakah gaji yang sebanyak $2.5 juta setahun tidak cukup bagi seorang Presiden? Setidak-tidaknya, satu referendum harus dijalankan bagi rakyat sendiri menentukan adakah wajar gaji seorang Presiden itu dinaikkan.
Oleh Mohd. Rahizan Yaacob Naib Pengerusi Parti Pekerja (WP) Presiden George Bush, Koboi ‘gungho’ Amerika yang datang dari Parti Republikan itu; seorang yang mempunyai tabiat suka berperang, telah mempengaruhi sebahagian dunia untuk menyerang negara Iraq dengan mengembar-gemburkan kononnya Saddam Hussein telah memperolehi senjata nuklear yang boleh membawa kesan kerusakan awam yang meluasa – akhirnya terbongkar rahsia bahawa sebenarnya perkara itu mengandungi risikan palsu alias perkara fitnah. Diantara negara-negara dunia, yang terpengaruh dengan helah Presiden Bush ketika itu, termasuk pemerintah PAP, berlandaskan alasan yang digempar-gemparkan kononnya sah Saddam Hussein dan Pemerintah Iraq menyimpan senjata yang merbahaya itu – semuanya terikut-ikut dalam gelombang taklid membabi-buta. Bush berjaya mempengaruhi dunia dengan muslihatnya yang keji melalui serangannya terhadap Iraq. Ketika itu, Dr. Mahathir Mohammed adalah diantara beberapa pemimpin dunia yang lantang membidas tindakan Bush dan kuncu-kuncunya yang berhaluan Republikan dan Konservatif. Untung di Amerika, ada Parti Demokrat, parti yang sama kuat dengan Parti Republikan pimpinan Bush, mulai menyedari dan memperbetulkan keadaan sambil membuat keputusan yang sewajar bahawa Bush dan agenda Iraqnya dan pembabitan tentera-tentera Amerika di Iraq adalah suatu kesilapan besar. Parti Demokrat dengan lantang dan bertenaga serta berkemahuan keras untuk mengeluarkan tentera Amerika dari bumi Iraq dengan secepat mungkin. Sikoboi Bush dan rakan neo-konservatifnya dibelasah dengan kritikan yang sekerasnya oleh Nancy Pelosi dan rakan-rakannya dari Parti Demokrat yang telah dapat menguasai dewan Kongres baru-baru ini. Dengan penuh kesedaran beliau dan rakan-rakan merasakan kehadiran tentera Amerika adalah suatu kesilapan besar yang mana korban-korban akibat perang ini tediri dari para tenteranya yang masih belia-belia belaka. Apa yang dapat kita pelajari dari adegan ini? – bahawa Dunia dan tamadun kemanusian memerlukan pengkritik-pengkritik yang bernas dan tajam bagi keseimbangan, maslahat dan kemakmurannya. Apa-apa sistem pun tidak boleh dibiarkan bersifat monopolistik dalam persekitaran yang membelenggu ke arah sehala-tuju sahaja (one-way street). Perlu bagi kita untuk berfikir dan tidak bertaklid buta kerana berfikir itu pelita hati – hatta dalam sistem Islam yang suci murni itu sekalipun, taklid dan monopoli sehala itu harus dihindarkan sesuai dengan sebuah hadis – “Perbedaan pendapat itu menjadi rahmat bagi umatku.” Itu, di Amerika. Bagaimana pula disini? – Singapura, bumi darah tumpah kita.
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Apa yang dapat kita pelajari dari adegan ini? – bahawa Dunia dan tamadun kemanusian memerlukan pengkritikpengkritik yang bernas dan tajam bagi keseimbangan, maslahat dan kemakmurannya. Adakah tamadun Insani di Singapura ini terhindar dari menganut nilai-nilai universal yang perlu ada? Adakah sistem ekonomi, politik, sosial, penyebaran media masa dan sebagainya dicetuskan dalam persekitaran yang membelenggu; dalam sehala-tuju yang monopolistik dan taklid membabi-buta di Singapura. Adakah segalanya mesti berhala satu tuju ke arah PAP dan perkaitannya? Adakah Parlimen semata-mata monopolieksklusif PAP? Tidakkah itu mencabar perasaan insaniah kita dalam membangunkan tamadun insani? Tergerak oleh rasa insaniah yang luhur ini, saya dan rakan-rakan seperjuangan bergerak dalam wadah Parti Pekerja (WP). Ingin ikut serta dalam mewarnai tamadun kita – warna corak tamadun kita sebagai rakyat Singapura? Ini sebenarnya adalah perjuangan generasi kita untuk generasi anak-cucu kita. Biarlah mereka menjadi pewaris demokrasi tulen. Dengan itu, marilah kita basmikan budaya Pak Turut.
我相信很多人都会记得自己生命中 发生过的，特殊的，不寻常的事 件，而这些事件或许直到今天都还 时不时地浮现脑海，挥之不去。让 我们难以释怀的也许是某个令人极 为尴尬的时刻，也可能是某件做完 后却后悔不已的事情，抑或是受到 的不公平的对待。 对我而言，永远都无法忘怀的一件 事发生在我就读后港蒙福学校小学 四年级时。（这所学校当时坐落于 实龙岗路北侧，与后港圣母堂相毗 邻，该教堂至今尚存。）一日傍 晚，当我们排队参加每日例行的降 旗仪式时，我的一个同学逼近了 我。他是臭名昭张，专欺凌弱小的 坏孩子，谁都知道他对学习毫无兴 趣可言。 他不假思索地对着我说:“借给我一 毛钱！”在当时,一毛钱可不是个小 数目,尤其是对于我这样的男孩子而 言。那天妈妈给了我三毛钱，我花 了五分钱买了一杯饮料，又花了另 外五分钱买了饼干。我盘算着把剩 下的二毛钱存下来，去买那个我曾 在书店橱窗内看到的，那个可爱的 铅笔盒。 “借我一毛钱啊！”他又再说道。 出于恐惧，我把手探向口袋，拨 拉出一个二毛钱的硬币。“我， 我只有二毛钱，”我结结巴巴地 说。“没问题，我找给你就是 了！”他立即回答，一边说着一边 很快地掏出一个一毛钱的硬币放到 我手里，一把抢走了我的二毛钱的
硬币。时至今日,我还未曾拿回我那 被借去的一毛钱。 这种记忆最要命的地方是，尽管一 晃多年过去，只要一想起这些事， 我仍然会觉得心烦意乱。我很清楚 那不过是一毛钱而已，更何况，无 论如何，现在区区的一毛钱又能买 到什么东西呢？或许只能用来支付 上一次公厕的费用吧！但是，这并 不是问题的关键所在。我在学校放 假的时候省吃俭用，就是为了买一 个我以前买不起的铅笔盒。对于有 钱人家的孩子来说，一毛钱也许是 微不足道的，然而对于当时的我来 说，一毛钱可是我省吃俭用所存的 财产的一半。 如今,虽然已工作，也有了工资收 入，我却依然记得失去的那一毛钱 的“痛苦”。我至今还能感受到当 时我犹豫着是否要向那个坏孩子要 回我的钱，而且冒着被打的风险时 所体会到的那股焦虑与恐惧。在大 多数人看来，答案似乎是显而易见 的——就把这点钱忘了吧！但事实 上，钱本身并不是得失攸关的事,而 是这件事对我来说的重大意义。 这使我想起每当政府上调消费税， 每当交通费上涨，每次水电费上 升时，虽然政府也确实发放“回 扣”和就业花红的补贴；但如同失 去了他宝贵的一毛钱的小男孩一 样，即使他也同样从哪欺负人的坏 孩子那里获得一毛钱的“回扣”， 并不见得这样就会让我觉得好受 的，因为我还是失去了本来属于我
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的一毛钱。 也许我该说自己是幸运的，那个小 坏蛋并没向我索取二毛钱，而且他 还很“友善”地找给我零钱。不 过，这依然不是问题的关键。让我 难过的是他毕竟并非一贫如洗，他 至少拥有一毛钱。(而且天知道他 口袋里到底有多少钱!）但最重要 的是, 他并不知道我感到多么的哀 伤,也不明白这一毛钱对我而言有多 大的意义。 回顾往昔，我很想知道如果当年我 若为了这一毛钱而与他抗争，后果 会如何？也许他最后会把这一毛 钱还给我；也许是我把他想象成 很可怕的样子，而事实却并非如 此。。。。。。。。但是，由于我 固有的内心恐惧感，使我默默地承 受了这一切。我永远都不会知道真 相了。现在我只能活在许多以“如 果”开头的问题中，但却永远无法 知道答案。 这件事给我上了微妙的一堂课。如 果身为新加坡人的我们，一直继续 不敢投票支持反对党，给他们中选 的机会，那么我们将永远无法知道 我们早已原本可能应该拥有的东西 是什么。事实是，我们到底真的需 要这么害怕吗？我们真的能确定有 什么值得这么害怕的吗？难道我们 都愿意在一生中默默承受，并且继 续在诸多“如果”的问题中搜寻但 却永远得不到答案？
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家庭背景 俊荣在大巴窑长大，后来搬到碧山。来自一个中 等收入的家庭，他父亲是个鱼贩，在大巴窑的一 个湿巴刹内卖鱼为生。父亲的收入是养活家人的 唯一经济来源。他一家人 虽然偶尔也会因为不 断上升的物价而发两句牢骚，但都庆幸得以在新 加坡过着平静与舒适的生活。俊荣和他弟弟从小 就在一个家教严格的家庭中成长，因此也被灌输 服从权威的观念，即使在面对不公平的情况下也 是如此。俊荣解释说: “这就是我父母对权威的 看法”。 学历 俊荣在公立培群学校念完小学后升上莱佛士中 学，之后,他在莱佛士初级学院念完高中后进入 国立大学就读，考获电脑与资讯科技系统学士学位。在记忆中，他说: ”虽然我当时非常活跃，积极参与学生活动，参政从来没有在我脑海中浮 现过”。 事业 大学毕业后，俊荣在一间跨国公司(安德逊资询)担任了两年的资讯科技分 析员。之后，他便加入一家本地企业 Aretae。接下来的五年,他在该公司 里担任过几个职位，例如软件发展执行员到经理。俊荣说:“工作开阔了 我的视野，不过也占据了我大部分的时间。我连喘息的机会都没有，更别 提思考了。结果，和其他的朋友们一样，我变得“非政治化” 了”。 为何加入工人党 俊荣大半生都没机会投票，所以当工人党在2006年大选时派遣一队候选人 到宏茂桥集选区角逐时,他这时才慎重地思考有关的课题。 俊荣之后阅读了无数的博客网页，翻阅了国会纪录和通过的议案以及新加 坡政治历史的书籍。他也开始写博客并好几次到工人党在赛亚威路的总部 出席每星期的开放日。在参与了好几项工人党所举办的活动后，他决定加 入工人党。 俊荣说:“促使我加入工人党的主要原因是因为我有股强烈的感觉，认为 有些事情需要改变。我觉得政府在处理一些事情和拟定决策方面有些不 妥”。 虽然参加反对党让他的父母有所顾虑，俊荣坚决地认为通过工人党作出贡 献和其他表示爱国的方式没有什么两样。因此,他以后会更加活跃地参与 党的活动。 2006年八月，他在党青年团执委选举日被提名参选而当选为工人党青年团 执委。跟一群志同道合的人在一起激发了他的政治意识，不久后他也加入 了党中区委员会，在饶欣龙先生的领导下跟人民直接接触并了解他们所关 注的课题。 人生哲学 俊荣觉得，要寻求一个更公正与美好的新加坡，国会中必须有强大的反对 党。他说:“人民应该在无后顾之忧的情况下表达自己的意见，政府的政 策不应该忽略任何人而使他们落在后头”。 他接着说:“虽然工人党有限的资源跟人民行动党雄厚的资源相比，我们 处于不利的地位，但只要我们坚持不懈，我深信我们一定会成功，也许不 是下届或之后的另一届大选，不过，总有一天我们会成功” ！
家庭背景 丽连是家中的长女,她还有两个妹妹，一位是帐目 审查师,另一位则还在澳洲皇家墨尔本理工大学 深造。她的父亲曾是个清洁承包商，目前已经退 休,而母亲则为人提供托儿服务。身为长女,她也 从生活中学习到领导和更深的思考能力;因此她也 获得两位妹妹和亲朋戚友对她的尊敬和信心。 学历 丽连在义林小学(Elling Primary School) 念完小 学后,转到圣婴中学完成中学教育。一向多话和爱 发表意见和批评的她，常被老师责备。不过,朋友 与同学们都喜欢她直率外向的性格。1999年,她在 义安理工学院毕业，获得商务管理文凭后,便到澳 洲科廷大学修读学士学位，主修行销与促销。 事业 拥有直率外向性格，喜与人接触的她，对需要每天呆在办公室的工作一点 都没有兴趣，因此，她认为行销事业是最适合她的。她曾经在商业和财务 行销业中打滚了六年,目前是一家私人企业的招聘经理。这份工作使她有 机会处理人事的问题，多年的行销经验提高了她与别人沟通以及人际关系 的技巧，也使她更有说服力。丽连也在学马来语以便能更有效和更多人沟 通。 为何加入工人党 二十五年来，丽连都居住在马林百列集选区，三年前搬到了宏茂桥集选区 而终于有机会在2006年的大选中投下她的第一张选票。当时在帮工人党进 行竞选宣传时，她发现新加坡缺乏有关反对党的资讯以致公众人士对反对 党产生错误的印象。她深信这些错误的印象急须纠正，因此决定挺身而出 以营造所需要的改变。 丽连在2006年六月正式加入工人党，之后也当选成为工人党青年团执委， 后来也被委任为青年团的组织秘书。回想她在工人党的经验,她说:“我的 组织能力有所进步，我也很高兴在党内结交到不少知己。” 人生哲学 丽连希望提高新加坡女性对政治的兴趣。她说:“现今女性受高等教育也 对国家的经济发展作出更大的贡献，所以女性所关注的课题和意见应该 获得舒发和受到重视。”在鼓励更多女性和她共同参与社会变革方面,她 说:”别以为您的贡献小或者没什么可以贡献的,所谓积少成多,所以再小 的贡献也同样重要!别因为能力办不到的事情而阻挠你去做你可以做得到 的其他事” 在闲暇时,丽连喜欢让她的创造力自由弛聘，她喜欢自己制造首饰,例如颈 链,手环和耳环等。 引述 Stevie Wonder 的话,丽连说:“我们都有能力,不同的是我们如何去 运用它.”
话说天下事是没有绝对的。当其中一方说得口沫横飞，似乎是对的 时候，转从另一个角度来看，却可以是错误的。 因此，有些人为了一件可以争议的事便请几个大人物，分几个不同 的时段，出来引经据典多方面地加以演泽和论证，或找一些富丽堂 皇的借口，或一些经过修饰的漂亮语言。尽量掩盖不利于民的一 面。不久，大家也只好承认那是事实。这就造成不少恶性循环的事 例。然而，我们都是一般的顺民，并不想去争辩，说也是白说，反 正习惯就好了。日子久了，就形成一种惰性，有些顺民甚至还奉之 为金科玉律，当作行为准则来学习呢！ 有人说：打麻将对运动人脑有一定的辅助作用。居然也有民众联络 所要举办麻将大赛还大事宣传说那是娱乐不忘慈善，不是赌博。有 个电视台不播正当节目，要领先潮流，尽播些电玩游戏，说那是午 睡空挡时间。于是鼓励青年人去打电玩，成年人都沉迷于打麻将， 哪还有空去关心国家大事，去理会什么是政治。这倒是永保政权的 妙法，怪不得，他们说五十年一百年不变。 前NKF总裁领高薪，要不是“金水喉”曝光，人们还以为他们领高薪 是天公地道的，年薪百万也不过是小花生米而已，何必大惊小怪。 然而，为三餐打拼的小市民便哗然这是天文数字。 政府把资助不幸国民的责任半推给民间，于是，电视慈善筹款只好 一个做过又一个，演员们担心流汗，辛辛苦苦的才筹得四五百万 元，与部长年薪两三百万元，形成个有趣的对比。 GST又加了两个百分点，他们说：这一定要加的，不然没办法维 持“高水准”。我们拥有的是世界一流的家长式的政府，无助的千 万子民就像听话的儿女一样，加就加吧。羊毛出在羊身上，七月 开始，大家多会觉得钞票像缩了水。有些人打两份工。钱还是不够 用。为什么呢？GST会影响我们的衣食住行。也许有些商家早一点 加，有些晚点加，迟早都要加。有些加了价，你还在懵懵懂懂呢!
今年是工人党成立的五十周年，作 为一名工人党的党外支持者，严格 的说是没具备足够条件来撰写纪念 党的感言。不过，在面对这个纪念 政党的光荣时刻，我在心潮起伏下 斗胆的写下这篇拙文，来参与这个 深具意义的纪念。 我开始关注工人党的动态与发展是 从1981年的安顺补选炮响之后，由 于对自己工作理想的执着，二十多 年来也只是站在党的边缘，默默的 支持这股民主的力量。内心深处， 不时为它祝福，祝愿它能成为新加 坡一支最有实力与最有效的反对 党，让长期被专制的行动党控制的 新加坡人民，在政治上有另一个选 择，以便新加坡能朝向健康的民主 社会政治发展。在行动党将近五十 年的统治下，虽然是民主国家，人 民都作不了主，事事由行动党政府 作了主，说了算。 工人党从1957年成立至今，走过了 五十年不平坦的道路，在过去的半 个世纪里，它遇到行动党于1959年 执政后的专制统治，其间历经各个 不同时期的变迁起伏，在行动党的 专政下，它与其他的反对党一样， 无法享有民主社会中较公平的竞 争，活动空间也受到了限制甚至面 对困境。
医药费，交通费，教育费，其他生活费等都在涨涨涨。人民生活困 苦，有人三餐不饱，靠借贷度日。 政府说：部长薪金要与大企业顶尖人物的收入挂钩。说部长这样的 好人才不容易找，怕他们另谋高就。既然部长以身作则给我们树立 这样的好榜样，这么一来，大家有样学样，大公司如此，私人机构 亦如此，何来服务精神？ 专家说饭菜隔几夜变质了会吃坏人，药品过期也不可服用，大家都 清楚。现在的PAP已经变质了！已经不是五十年代那个不计薪酬为人 民服务的政党。如今，这个政党的领导人正努力说服大家，相信部 长高薪的正确性，并没有领导人们走向“礼仪廉耻”的道德正途。
众所周知，除执政的行动党外，一 个政党要在新加坡生存谈何容易？ 工人党能经历各个艰难的时期，走 过风雨动荡的时代，一直走到了今 天，单凭这点就可让人肃然起敬。 我想所有有良知的人都会觉得值得 来共同纪念与为它祝福。工人党做 为一个合法注册的政党，在风风雨 雨的五十年道路上，坚持了自由、 民主的政治理念。今天我们欣喜看 到它依然是领导我国万千人民争取 自由民主的希望与寄托。 在纪念这个在新加坡具有悠久历史 的政党的时刻，放眼当前，进入二 十一世纪时代的工人党，是比前更 加坚强了。在工人党新一代领导的 推动下，它继承了前人所走的道路 上，持续不断的发展。诚然，大家 也可以看到，今后在前进的道路 上，它还是会面对各种的困难障碍 与干扰。不过，只要民心一致，有 坚定的自由民主理念，继续给予工 人党坚决和有力的支持，相信任何 的困难工人党都能克服并持续在困 难的斗争中壮大，成为国会中抗衡 行动党，能中流砥柱的另一个政 党。 最后，谨让我以不成熟的文字，作 了以下的“铁锤颂”献给工人党， 再次表达我对这个有悠久历史的反 对党的敬意。
创 党 引 导 民 主 路
风 雨 飘 摇 渡 重 关
振 兴 扩 党 从 头 越
安 顺 炮 响 露 曙 光
后 港 铁 锤 振 声 威
民 主 祈 求 系 人 心
星 火 燎 原 燃 东 北
万 千 人 民 齐 欢 腾
后港女孩 三岁时，我全家从我们在Lorong Napiri的小村子搬到政府组屋。政府 买走了本属于我已故祖父的农田， 并安排我们住进了这座新的政府组 屋。大家所说的新“组屋”，也就 是我的新家，在后港五道。这一带 的政府组屋后来从榜鹅选区内被划 分成后港单选区。后来，在1991年 的选举中胜出的是一名非人民行动 党籍的议员。自从这位工人党议员 在后港选区中选以来，我就一直居 住在后港区。在我看来，一个非人 民行动党籍议员所管理的选区，其 素质并不比人民行动党议员的选区 差。 起初，像一些住在这个”特殊”选 区内的人一样，我对政治没有特别 感到兴趣，也不关心国事，更没考 虑过加入政党。后来，我受祖父那 乐于帮助邻里和朋友们的精神所 感召，我觉得我应该继续祖父所作 的善事，所以为了帮助老人和需要 协助的人及其家庭，我决定加入后 港选区委员会(HGCC)。后来，我在 后港选区委员会和后港区内的积极 活动使我也涉及党的活动。结果， 我于2003年加入了工人党。直到那 时，我才感觉到参与政治和社会工 作的区别界线是那么的微小，这两 者其实都是为了服务和造福民众。 现在，我强烈地意识到多党政治而 非一党专政对新加坡是多么的重 要。在国会中有不同的观点，在竞 选期间有竞争而人民能够有选择是 十分重要的。这样才可以提醒执政 党不能放松工作，别忽略人民的要 求，并必须努力为人民造福。 我对于“反对党”的看法 我觉得人们不应该以怀疑的眼光来 看待在野党。经过人民行动党和传 媒的宣传，大家趋向于认为在野 的“反对党”把一切都政治化，为 了反对而反对。我不同意。我所看 到的是工人党虽然不是一个福利组 织，但它却展现了亲社会和亲社区 的本质并为社会和社区尽一份力。 在党内交朋友 在我融入工人党的过程中，我结识 了一些人，也交了许多朋友，其中
包括工人党秘书长，后港区国会议员 刘程强先生。他也许并不会像其他过 去和现在的某些反对党领导人那样高 调和引人注目，但我觉得他在党内的 所作所为证明了一切。从他接掌党领 导至今，工人党不断地扩展壮大。这 也使那些认为政党领导人必须出名才 能使政党发扬光大的错误想法不攻自 破。相反的，默默垦耘，努力工作才 是政党得以发展的主要因素。此外， 刘先生也是一个以身作则的人，他愿 意接受来自各阶层党成员的批评和意 见。我所看到的是他宁可进行激烈地 辩论以确立有关党的前进方向和路线 也不愿意强求党中委会必须通过他要 作的决定。 主席，林瑞莲女士入党虽然只比我早 两年，但却迅速的在这个男性主导的 政治环境中担负起主席的责任，我十 分钦佩她在极具挑战性的情况下为党 的发展所作出的贡献。同时，我也很 钦佩那些开明并愿意接受她领导的党 内的老前辈们。尽管在2006年大选， 阿裕尼集选区和其他一些选区失利， 她和其他团队的成员在前进的道路上 受到了挫折，但她却能下决心继续斗 争。 我也不会忘记那些资深的党员，如林 依平，亚六，林永图，黄亚水以及依 布拉欣。他们总是愿意与大家分享经 验，也毫不吝啬地在年轻一代成长的 道路上给予指导，并传授经验。虽 然这些“老兵”们的年龄都已在5080岁之间，参加党的活动都已几十年 了，但他们依然积极参与活动，甚至 连我们一些年青的党员也比不上他们 这样的热忱，他们的精神可佳！ 总而言之，自从加入工人党后，我学 到了许多东西，我也很荣幸能有机会 和这些有献身精神的人在一起，为大 众服务。
新加坡政府大言不惭地说它是世界级的政府，你们说呢？它是不 是真的达到世界级了呢？ 很简单，大家只需看看我们有没有一个世界级的反对党？答案是没 有。为什么没有呢？因为我们有一个专横独断的政府，在政治上处处 对反对党强加压制。除了如政治捐款法令，选区划分等等，最突出的 莫过于集选区制度。在这些手段下，反对党被绑得处在不死不活的状 态下，它能算世界级的政府吗？如果一定要自夸是世界级，那也只能 在部长的薪金这一项能达到标准，而且还是世界顶尖级的！ 作为反对党，并不是不努力去争取达到世界级的目标。然而，要是没 有一个真正懂得什么是民主，并真正愿意去推行民主制度的政府，在 其无情的压制下我们能达到这样的目标吗？ 内阁资政最近接受外国报章访问时，再次地说新加坡是小国，不能每 五年就换政府。我不知道他是不是想让行动党永远掌权执政，但至 少，看来他是不想让反对党能有所作为或有朝一日可替代行动党。记 得当年李资政在为实行集选区制度辩护时说那是为了国家利益，他认 为没有采用集选区，少数族群候选人将会落败，国会也会因此缺少或 没有少数族群代表而使国家面临灾难性的后果。然而，是不是真的没 有集选区以外的解决办法呢？ 让我在此提出一个替代的方案，使国会里所需的少数族群代表数目和 目前一样，一个也不会少。而且所有的各族候选人也都能一个个在没 有总理，资政，部长的掩护下和反对党一较高低，凭自己的才干和实 力，通过选民的验证，体面地走进国会。首先，废除集选区，恢复单 选区制度，再按种族比率规定马来族，印度族及其他少数民族各需多 少代表，然后从国民登记局的资料中确定哪些是少数民族人数最多的 选区，规定参选政党必须派出指定的族群人选为候选人。保留鉴定少 数民族候选人的合格程序并颁发证明书的制度。 大家也许还记得一年多前，当工人党公布新政纲时，行动党政府紧张 得马上出动各员大将对工人党大力攻击。我们主张废除集选区被指为 计时炸弹，毒药等。这是恐吓人民，以阻止人民支持工人党。 笔者要指出的是，其实，行动党的集选区制度才真正是计时炸弹和毒 药。主张废除集选区则刚好是解药。集选区制度实行至今尚属初期， 虽然已经成为行动党阻绕反对党中选的有效工具，但还没有被滥用。 不过，又有谁敢担保再过三五十年后，绝对的权力最终必将出现腐 败，到时若是行动党的下一代接班人滥用权力，在集选区的便利和掩 护下，重裙带关系而用亲戚，或是感恩图报，或是建立朋党友情等， 甚或商人为了谋取私利，也可能通过金钱收买等手段进入国会和政府 领导核心。 这难道只是天方夜谭，不可能发生的事吗？行动党敢说他们所引进的 精英永远都有这方面的免疫能力吗？我们这一代人也许看不到，但我 们的下一代人呢？到时，新加坡承受得起这种后果吗? 人民又得付出 什么代价呢？集选区制度真的不会有一天成为计时炸弹和毒药吗？ 目前行动党正是害怕他们所选出来的，所谓精英中的精英在单选区会 不敌反对党而落败，所以才死咬住集选区不放。如果一个候选人连最 基本的要通过选民考验的政治能力都不具备，也能算精英？他又能在 国际政治上，在治国方面承受怎样的考验？ 我们都是新加坡人，我希望无论是执政党，或是反对党，在国家利益 前面，能抛开个人与政党的利益。
今年财政预算案的独特之处，在于政府落实了强 化社会凝聚力，加强社会安全网，使就业入息辅 助计划成为我国社会安全网的另一个支柱。 去年，我在辩论总统施政方针的时候指出，随着 整个经济结构的改变，人们对新的经济模式感到 担忧。因为即使在经济有增长时，生活也不容 易，收入不见得有增加，生活费却不断提高。如 果政府让人民持续在缺乏安全感中生活，长此下 去，人民的思维与价值观必然会改变。社会的凝 聚力也会面临考验。即使经济持续增长，人们也 会对国家失去信心。 因此，议长先生，我支持这个新设置的社会安全 网的支柱。我认为这一个永久性的，而不是等政 府在财政上有盈余或大选快到来的时候才分发， 并且依据经济收入的需要来扶助低收入者，也正 式被政府列为我国社会安全网一大支柱的就业入 息辅助计划，应该可以在基本上缓和随着全球化 以及经济转型所带来的贫富不均，低收入者赶不 上生活步伐的问题。 我注意到，在实施就业入息辅助计划的同时，政 府有意使参与这个计划的低收入者也被纳入如公 积金的养老，医药保健和保险方面的制度范围 内。因此，这个就业入息辅助计划基本上还是绕 着公积金的制度运作。例如需要参与的低收入者 必须先缴付公积金或保健储蓄。政府所支付给合 格低收入者的入息辅助绝大部分也是公积金，差 不多等于是公积金填补计划。对低收入者来说， 现金的辅助才是最实际的。要求那些做不定时工 作的散工先把现金放入公积金保健储蓄户头，然 后才能获得就业入息的辅助，比较缺乏吸引力， 也有些欠缺诚意之嫌。不过，我明白这个计划 刚刚推出，需要时间评估其运作和成效。假以时 日，我希望政府会重新检讨，尤其应该考虑让那 些做不定时工作的散工，可以获得较多的现金辅 助。 这个新的社会安全网支柱，每年估计大概需要四 亿元的财政预算。与此同时，政府也在公布预算 案时宣布提高消费税百分之二。我认为，这个新 的就业入息辅助计划每年花费四亿元，政府即使 不提高消费税也应该应付得来。以扶助贫困，需
要帮助低收入的国人为富丽堂皇的理由来提高消 费税，行动党政府搭的是顺风车！ 提高消费税的另外一个理由是为了提升我国的竞 争力，吸引企业前来我国落户以促进经济的发 展，增加国民的就业机会，所以必须削减企业 税，造成政府财政减收。削减企业税是否就会使 政府减少收入还是个未知数。财政部长认为全球 化的结果使新加坡未来五到十年的前景是前所未 有的好。那么，随着企业的业绩表现良好，政府 未来的企业税将是有增无减。怎么还需要调高消 费税呢？ 相反的，二月二十六日《海峡时报》报道，一些 经济学者认为企业对于在某一个国家投资的决定 不会单取决于税率。另一名观察家则认为，对零 售业来说，香港的优势在于没有消费税。因此， 减低企业税，转而调高消费税是否就能够使我国 在经济上占有一定的优势似乎也未必有定论，尤 其是当我们的经济正在转向服务业，如旅游业方 面的发展。别忘了，零售业是发展旅游业不可缺 少的经济伙伴。 当然，政府还会有各种各样的理由来尝试说服人 民提高消费税是有必要，甚至是对人民有好处 的。不过，这些理由都无法使我信服。我知道的 是： 第一、今年的财政预算案虽然出现七亿元的财政 亏损，但不必动用储备金。新 一届政府从去年 五月上台至今，在短短的八个月内就已经能够累 积超过七亿元的盈余。 第二、如果不提高消费税，政府就不必因为提供 消费税的援助配套多花费又增加开支，然后又成 为提高消费税的另一大理由。 第三、使低收入者获得较大利益的回扣和分红之 类的财政措施向来都有，二零零六年大选之前的 预算案就是一个很好的例子。即使预算案出现大 赤字，也不必提高消费税，政府也不必动用储备 金。 第四、今年的预算案，政府向人民亮出了一 张“开支清单”，只注重告诉人民政府的开支是 如何如何的庞大。不过，政府在接下来几年的预 算案里是否会因为要开源节流，减少对各种公共 服务的津贴，要人民多承担费用，支付更多的收 费以减轻政府的财政负担还是个未知数。 第五、当赌场一开，政府的财源就会滾滾而来。 何必急于现在提高消费税呢？ 这是二零零六年大选之后，行动党政府在获得人 民重新委托的第一个财政预算案，就迫不及待先 提高消费税，并且顶着需要额外财政收入以协助 需要帮助的低收入人民的大招牌。看来，议长先 生，行动党政府简直是把人民当冤大头！
黄 瑞 美
三年前，我有幸成为一 个与后港选区委员会协 作的福利机构里的义 工。我这才发现，在这 个我们政府处处标榜为 世界第一的国家里，还 有着这一些被忽略的弱 势群体。他们当中有一 些被其成为精英的孩子置之不顾，成为孤独老 龄人。不断在我心里打转的问题是：到底是什 么原因造成这些高级知识分子可以连自己的父 母也置之不顾。 这些居民都很高兴我们到访，他们也很愿意告 诉我们关于他们的故事。一些年长者还请我们 到他们的屋里，只希望我们能多呆一会儿，和 他们聊聊天。我相信因为长时间没有人倾听， 使他们在那窄小的房子里变得越来越孤单寂 寞。 在一次常年义务大扫除的活动中，发现一位 90多岁的独居老人，他的身体非常虚弱，就算 为我们开门这么简单的事，他也花了一段的时 间才慢慢挪到门口。进到他的屋里，尽入眼帘 的是满屋厚厚的油腻腻的尘埃和满地的纸皮。 他的私人物件除了几件衣服和一个铺着木板的 生锈了的床架外再没有什么了。义工团体准备 了简单的食物分发给老人，老人在接过食物时 十分感激我们。我只觉得心里酸酸的，眼里湿 湿的。我相信，如果能选择的话，没有人愿意 住在这样的环境里，谁不希望自己有一间宽敞 明亮的屋子。但他没得选择。我们尽最大的努 力，帮助老人家把屋子打扫干净，看着这群和 我们一起工作的义工，我心中充满了欣慰和感 激，他们愿意牺牲自己宝贵的休闲时间来帮助 这些不幸的人们。 义工团体也收到各种各样的投诉，最多的投诉 是关于没有得到有效和足够的帮助。慈善团体 和福利事业是种吃力不讨好的工作，但无论如 何我们不该因为那些不好的批评而不开心。尽 管无法满足居民不同的要求，但我觉得居民的 心里还是感激我们所给与的帮助的，有一些居 民告诉我们有我们在他们身旁帮忙，他们感到 很幸运，要不然他们也不知如何是好。听到这 些话，我眼泪不由自主地从眼眶里流了出来。 在此，我代表需要协助的后港区居民感谢义工 们拨出宝贵的时间来帮助那些被忽略的人们。 我也呼吁更多的新加坡人自动自发帮助身边需 要帮助的人。请大家记住莫因善小而不为！别 忘了，就算是一片面包，也能够让人温饱，使 人感觉温馨。
目标，并可全力以赴地在各自的领域 内制定出有利于新加坡的正确决策。 比如,以目前的情况来看，政府可以 考虑所应设定的目标，采取以下的关 键绩效指数: · 以下降5%的基尼系数来反映总理 在缩小高低收入差距时所付出的努 力。 · 以在繁忙时间内增长2%的公共交 通搭客量来反映交通部在使国人把公 共交通当为首选的交通模式的努力以 及所取得的成绩。 2600欧元。即使把购买力等比数列考虑在内,我 国公务员的待遇也应该比他们好得多。因此，基 于这些证据，我们认为没有必要用巨额薪金来吸 引和留住那些能以高成效和廉洁的方式推动国家 发展的合适的人才。 工人党认为,政府应该考虑修改现行的公务员与 私营企业挂钩的薪金基准，并以另一个更为公平 和可长期支撑的薪金基准来取代它。我们建议这 个薪金基准应该考虑国际一般惯例，特别考虑参 照诸如瑞士、丹麦以及芬兰这类国家的薪金基 准。 丹麦也像新加坡一样采用薪酬调整方案，以确保 公务员的薪金能够随着时间的进展相应地与私营 企业员工的薪金一样增长。他们的薪金调整方案 自动调整中央政府公务员的薪金，以此来契合私 营企业中薪金的涨幅，但调整的时间比起私营企 业会有所延迟。 香港也试图使公务员薪金能维持在私营企业的薪 金水平。不过，他们只是保持宽松的比较，也没 有任何明确与直接的职能联系。与新加坡不同的 是，他们都没有制定一套包赢的方程式来确保公 务员永远能通过所制定的薪金基准获得与极少数 高收入者一样的高薪。 虽然我们同意基本工资可以按照国际最佳惯例以 私营企业为参照来制定基准，但我们也认为应该 采用表现薪金制，确立表现与薪金的关系。目 前，虽然部分高层官员的薪酬与国内生产总值的 增长挂钩，但公务员并没有如私企一样把薪金和 营业的亏盈底线挂钩。 虽然采用表现薪金制，确立表现与薪金的关系是 必要的，提供一个可以将表现优异者与工作不力 者或无所表现者区分开来的制度也不可或缺。在 这个方面, 我对部长刚刚公布的有关对公务员薪 酬结构的调整表示欢迎。不过，一个与表现挂钩 的薪金支付体系需要有一个全面而客观的评估制 度。尤其重要的是，这个评估表现的标准必须公 开，严格和对公众来说是透明的，是公众能明白 和认同的。只有当公务员和部长们达到了各自部 门的关键绩效指数(Key Performance Indicator) 时，他们才可获得不固定数额的花红。 我们建议不同的部门应该因时而异地制定不同的 关键绩效指数，这样部长和公务员们就有明确的
· 以达到5%的人口增长率来评定在 人口老化委员会中的部长和公务员们在人口老 龄化的问题上所做出的努力。 · 以及设定长期失业率的最低百分比来反映人力 部在解决结构性失业问题中取得的成果。 通过将不固定花红与目标明确、能客观评估的关 键绩效指数挂钩，政府可以专心为新加坡制定正 确的政策，而不必浪费宝贵的资源和时间去追踪 私营企业每年的顶层收入者以及政府应该支付多 少薪酬给部长和公务员。这种明确的短期目标也 可以追索每一个实施成功的政策,并且确保长期 的政策目标能够得以逐步地实现。这一套系统也 可确保公职人员对其所制定的公共政策的后果负 责,并保持政府对公众关于其成就、能力和问责 制的透明度。 招聘及保留人才 接下来让我谈谈公务员的招聘和保留人才的问 题。 内阁资政李光耀曾说过，聘请外国人才来领导新 加坡是不可能的，因为作为政治领袖，必须热爱 国民，有承担的决心，必须能与人民一起追逐共 同的梦想。(《海峡时报》,2006年11月4日). 同样的，我们的公务员是否拥有这样的素质也是 极为重要的。并不是每一个人都可以成为好公务 员，失去缺乏这种好素质的人成为公务员，对国 家来说也并没有什么损失。事实上, 我相信不管 私企提供的经济报酬是多么的优厚，那些拥有这 些好素质的公务员也不会禁不住私企优厚薪酬和 个人私生活的诱惑。更何况，众所周知的，新加 坡的高级公务员和部长们的薪金一点也不低。 虽然统计数字显示在过去的5年中，年龄介于 28岁至33岁之间的公务员在递交辞呈的人中的比 例高达80%以上，而我相信这其中有不少是政府 奖学金得主。当政府奖学金得主的公务员与政府 所签的奖学金契约期满了，他们重新做出工作选 择的行为并不令人感到意外。其实，政府部门流 失公务员人才的惊人高比例说明了一个更严重的 问题，哪就是以纳税人的钱所支出的奖学金并未 能吸引住合适的人选为国服务。据一位以前当过 公务员的人所说，行政服务并不是最适合他的工 作(《海峡时报》，2007年3月31日)。事实上,一 些离开公务员岗位的人说他们辞职的原因更多时
候是被不同的挑战和新的经验所吸引，并非钱的 因素。政府越早面对这个事实，对新加坡人民来 说就越好。 如果要奖学金得主成为公务员的初衷没能实现， 而政府继续寄望于通过这种方法挽回公务员人才 流失的趋势，那么可以说政府为了错误的理由和 目的在不断地浪费宝贵的资源。综上所述，我认 为探寻其他补充人才方法，采用有吸引力的筛选 方式，用合理的薪金留住人才，才是更为有效的 途径。 我们赞同公共服务人员不应该由于在公共部门工 作而在经济上做出过度的牺牲。然而，他们同样 也不应该获得与贡献不相称的薪金。根据统计局 的数据，2006年，最低和最高10%的受薪阶级家 庭，平均每月收入分别为300元和6990元。从这 一组统计数字来看，有关公务员在经济上做出了 过度牺牲的说法就不那么令人信服了。 即使是私人企业，由于资源有限，也不会有任何 一家公司能承受得了为继续挽留和吸引尖端人才 而不断增加高薪。至于公共服务部门，我们需要 另一类的人献身工作。仅仅为吸引那些只对赚更 多的钱和为个人和家庭增添物质享受感兴趣的 人而提供高薪是没有意义的。我们不应该忘记即 使你给的不是花生米而是更大件的食物，比如香 蕉，你依然可能吸引到“猴子”。 总的来说，我认为真正的问题是如何寻觅适当的 领导者来领导新加坡，并确保新加坡继续走向成 功之路。参照那些不一定能一直拥有顶层收入的 私营企业的高收入者来为公务员和部长们制定薪 金基准，这种做法会引起争议，也导致人心涣 散。最后，让我引用蔡丽芬在海峡时报3月31日 一篇文章中的一句话作为结语:“支付多少薪金 是次要的。给予他们高薪，但莫让高薪悬赏寻求 领导人。”
昂然度过半个世纪的工人党，将举 办党庆晚宴，欢迎您前来和我们共 度这历史性的一刻，展望未来。 日期：2007年11月3日 时间：晚上八点正 地点：大巴窑四巷 幸福饮茶酒楼 收费：每位50元 联络：96654266 [请向陈建辉询问详情]
MICA (P) 123/09/2006 Issue No: 0702
1994年国会首次就比照私 营企业最高收入者的收入 来建立部长及公务员薪金 的市场基准这一议题进行 辩论时，我表示反对。 在国会批准通过薪金基准 13年后的今天，针对部长 们的薪金是否过高的争论持续不断。我过去所提 出的那些问题至今依然是争论点。人们像我一 样，以前不，就是到现在也无法相信这种薪金基 准是公平、公正的！如果政府在国会提出这个议 题来辩论的唯一目的是要安怃人心，让大家感 到政府在批准高薪制度之前已经经过了周详的考 虑，那么，我认为这是在浪费公共资源，每隔几 年就进行一轮薪金问题的讨论。 尽管政府可以声称在去年大选时已赢得了选民们 的委托，因此有权力以自身认为最合适的条件来 支付自己的薪金，但我还是要在此提醒政府，我 不认为新加坡人民发给了政府一张空白的支票。 从政府宣布有意调高薪金后，引发了许多公众的 不安以及各界热烈理论来看，政府应该认真考虑 成立一个公众咨询小组,以制定出一个切实可行 并且公众认为合情合理的计算公共服务薪金的准 则。 以参照私营企业来制定薪金基准的忧虑 目前，将包括部长在内的行政服务部门的公务员 薪金与私企顶层收入者的收入作比较来提高薪金 的做法，许多人都对这一理念表示不服。 令人关注的其中一个问题是这些私企顶层收入者 的收入稳定性。私企顶层收入者的收入包括花红 和股票期权，在设定公务员薪金与私营企业薪金 挂勾的基准时把这一类在私企收益中的可大幅度 变动的部分考虑在内，这种不稳定性便在所难 免。此外，该基准的计算不仅考虑新加坡人的收 入，还包括了马来西亚人以及永久居民。 虽然在基准点上私企顶层收入者的个人每年都会 有变动，因为不一定每一年同一个人的收入都属 于顶层收入者，但是纳入考虑范围内的薪金水平 却极有可能逐年提高。这主要是有两个因素。第 一，全球化导致了经济收入的差距加大，有极少 数的人的收入会异常的高，超出一般收入者的范 围。第二，新加坡对国外人才的引进导致更多的 具有领“超薪”潜力的异常高薪者都符合基准的
计算条件。因此，即便是政府在基准的计算范围 内采用平均值，其计算出来的结果也未必就能代 表新加坡人收入的整体趋势。在更糟糕的情况 下，这样的基准或许会激励金钱挂帅的公务员把 注意力放在照顾和确保那些符合这一基准计算范 围内的高收入者得以在政策上获得最大的发展空 间。 因此，在水涨船高的情况下，不断往上飚升的公 务员薪金基准点将是政府未来的难堪，而高级公 务员持续成为全国受雇者当中最高收入的职业也 显得荒谬。在私营企业中，薪酬的波动性大，雇 员还得受到严格的业绩评审的制约。举例来说， 一个雇员只有在做出正确的投资决策时才会获得 股票期权收益，个别雇员往往也必须协助提高公 司的价值。然而，没有一个人能够在一生中都做 出正确的决策；通过比照那些单单在某一年中表 现优秀的个人来制定公务员的年薪基准，其隐含 的假设是公务员和部长们从未做出错误决定。但 是，他们真的都是永不犯错的超人吗？ 再者，请问在私人企业中又有哪份工作能确保一 名员工不管工作绩效如何，却能始终是最高收入 者呢？其实，私人企业的工作缺乏保障，即使顶 尖的人才也面临不间断地、激烈地竞争。 反之，公务员的有利条件是他们不必面对外来人 才的竞争。部长们一中选，也可以有至少五年 的工作保障，直到下届选举。况且,对执政党而
加 薪 随 想 你是愚民
言，他们还可以改变竞选规则，通过对他们有利 的选举条规，增加其部长们的工作保障。国务资 政吴作栋以及内阁资政李光耀之前不是已经承 认了集选区制度能够使他们得以引进部长人才的 吗？ 令人感到讽刺的是，我们消耗纳税人的钱和资源 来讨论应该拿出多少百万元来支付公务员和部长 们的薪水，但同时却为了是否应该付多几十块钱 资助处境艰难的小市民们讨价还价。 我们的建议 联合国经济和社会事务部2005年的一项报告显 示：新加坡公务员的薪金是全世界公务员中薪金 最高的。我们的政府认为这将能确保有一个廉 洁、能干而有高效的公务员队伍。事实是，其他 一些公务员收入较低的国家，他们也具备同样的 素质。 就廉洁指数(Corruption Perception Index)和全 球竞争力指数(Global competitiveness Index) 而言，新加坡在2005年和2006年都排名在芬兰和 丹麦之下。当然,治理一个国家不能仅仅重视衡 量腐败的程度和全球竞争力这两项指标。直接影 响人民生活的更重要因素是生活的质量。2006年 有一项针对39个评测标准的调查，包括了政治、 社会、经济及环境因素、个人安全和健康、教 育、交通以及其他的公共服务项目。在这项调查 中，瑞士的城市再次高居榜首，而坐拥高薪并因 而就应具有很强的能力、有廉洁的政府的新加坡 却只是在亚洲国家中排第一，而在全世界排名中 排列第34位。(《海峡时报》,2007年4月2日的报 导) 基于以上的事实,我们应该有兴趣关注这些排 名在新加坡前头的国家中，比如丹麦、芬兰和 瑞士等等，其公务员的薪金是多少。根据联合 国的报告显示,瑞士联邦政府人事厅透露,公务 员的基本薪金从5万5千瑞士法郎到32万1千瑞士 法郎不等,按照兑换率1.25来计算，大概是新币 6万9千到40万2千元。表现好的公务员可获得高 达6%的优异加薪,而工作表现差的职员则可被减 薪。虽然瑞士公务员工作表现特优时可获得等于 薪金12%的花红，并有住所和加班的津贴，但与 新加坡的公务员和部长们的薪金相比，似乎瑞士 公务员最高的薪金也难以望其项背。另举一例, 2006年联合国的报告列出芬兰公务员的最低月薪 是1200欧元,而全国所有雇员的月薪平均值则是 (文接第15版)
Published by The Workers’ Party. 0211
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