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MICA (P) 190/11/2008

Issue No: 0901

By Sylvia Lim As a law student in the 1980’s, I was imbued with idealism and a pretty strong sense of justice and how governments should behave in a liberal democracy. I lapped up what my lecturers taught. But before I could even complete my law degree, I discovered that Singapore was not made in the image and likeness of Western democracies. In 1986, the government decided that it was not happy with the way the Law Society had conducted itself i.e. having Francis Seow as its President, and actively campaigning against restrictions on the foreign press. So it decided to amend the Legal Profession Act to place conditions on who could run for office in the Society. Select Committee proceedings were held and televised. One by one, the lawyers in the Law Society Council were grilled on national television about how they were not fit to hold office. One was even quizzed about her connections with the Workers’ Party. Detentions under the Internal Security Act of alleged Marxist conspirators followed soon after. Exactly what did the rule of law mean in Singapore? As a young law student, I was perplexed, and in need of answers.

broke about him being convicted of an offence involving a donor’s cheque to him; he was seen clutching his Bible as he entered Queenstown Remand Prison to serve a prison sentence. Consequently, JBJ was also disqualified from law practice. He appealed against his disqualification to the Privy Council in London, our highest appeal court then. In the course of their judgment, the Law Lords in London observed that JBJ’s conviction was wrong and that he had suffered a “grievous injustice”. This was basically brushed aside by the authorities. JBJ’s disqualification from law practice and from standing for elections for 5 years remained. Within a few months, the government abolished legal appeals to London in disciplinary cases involving lawyers, specifically citing JBJ’s appeal! Nearly 10 years later, campaigning began for the General Elections held in Jan 1997. Tang Liang Hong had teamed up with JBJ to contest Cheng San GRC. The atmosphere was meteoric, with the ruling party marshalling its full arsenal to label Tang a Chinese chauvinist. As I think back now, Tang’s shouts of “Merdeka” at a lunch time rally at UOB Plaza still ring in my ears to this day. So high, it seems, were the stakes at GE 1997. On New Year’s Day 1997, on the eve of Polling Day, JBJ stood at the WP rally stage at Yio Chu Kang stadium and said that he had with him Tang’s police reports against “Goh Chok Tong and his people”. For that statement, 8 legal suits were commenced in the High Court against JBJ. Deeply troubled and upset, I wrote to JBJ enclosing a donation. Thus we became friends.

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Occasionally, I visited him in his law office. As he was representing Tang in legal suits as well, JBJ’s office was full of piles and piles of legal documents and affidavits filed. It is not an exaggeration to say that one had to tip toe through the piles in order to move around. JBJ would be busy drafting replies with the help of his lone secretary, Mrs Chiu. It gave the David and Goliath story new meaning. As the months passed, JBJ had to pay all sorts of damages, or face bankruptcy. In early 1999, I remember receiving a work bonus. With all my heart, I gave it to him, hoping it would somehow forestall what was to befall him. I know of many others who made contributions. Indeed, JBJ seemed to be regularly saddled with big amounts to pay, at one point about half a million. What were our contributions in the deep pit of defamation damages? Around that time, 3 polytechnic lecturers decided to make a short film on JBJ, to be aired at a local film festival. JBJ invited me to lunch with him and then to go to the launch of the film. When we arrived at the launch venue,

HOW TO CONTACT US HAMMER: The Editor, P.O Box 15 Toa Payoh Central Singapore 913101 Email: editor@wp.org.sg OPEN HOUSE: Every Monday (except public holidays) from 8.00pm to 9.30pm at: The Workers’ Party HQ 216-G Syed Alwi Road #02-03 Singapore 207799

At about the same time, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, or JBJ as we know him, was fighting huge personal battles. He was the incumbent MP in Anson constituency, having won the by-election in 1981 and been re-elected in 1984. News

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“I joined the party in 1982 but only became more active in 1989 after I got to know more members from the party. We participated actively in the sale of our newsletter.

He was the first opposition party candidate to be elected a Member of Parliament in Singapore, 16 years after the country gained independence. He was the leader of the Workers’ Party from 1972 to 2000. Being a political party that has been around for 50 years, we have members who joined the party from as early as 1959 and are still in the party today.”

“Growing up in Anson, I owe my political awakening to the Late Mr Jeyaretnam. It still is hard to accept my ex MPś passing. Many in Anson will remember him as an MP who listened and cared, an MP who got the overhead bridge overlooking the old Zhangde Primary School built. While Anson under him may not have the best facilities, it was a place filled with hope. The affection and support Anson residents had for him is evidenced by the spontaneity of the hundreds of residents, e.g. those from Blocks 136, 137, 138, 141, and 142 who volunteered their services to his reelection campaign in 1984. While Mr JBJ did not live to see his vision of a more caring, progressive, egalitarian, inclusive, tolerant, transparent and accountable Singapore where the rule of good law reigns supreme – he was one who was ahead of his time - being realised, his efforts have not been in vain. We will do our best to realise this vision. While we recognise that this will be a struggle fraught with difficult challenges I know with a politically more aware people and their support, we will one day succeed.”

- Lilian Lee, CEC Member, age :30

- Shaun Lee, Member, age: 36.

- Steven Teo, Member, age 50.

“It was 15 minutes to 8am on 30 September 2008 when I received an SMS from a fellow WP member. “JBJ had just passed away” was the message. I stood rooted to the ground staring at the SMS. It was like yesterday that I shook his hands at the inauguration dinner of ‘The Reform Party’. After about a minute or so, I composed myself and tried to verify the news. I hurriedly rushed towards the radio and tuned into the news at 8am. True enough, Mr JB Jeyaretnam had passed away because of a heart failure that morning.

In 1993, JBJ approached me to help sell his book titled ‘Make it Right for Singapore’. Without hesitation, I agreed and from then we never failed to make an appearance around town areas such as Raffles Place, Arcade and City Hall. Our sales hours were from 10.30am to 1.00pm and 5.00pm-8.00pm, Monday to Thursday. My most memorable sale was in Tekka, where we garnered a lot of support from the Indians. It was a common sight to see people paying us $50 or $100 for a book that costs $15. JBJ will handle the English and Tamil speaking public while I communicated with the Chinese, dialect and Malay speaking supporters.”


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“As a little boy, I remember Mr Jeyaretnam as one of the prominent opposition leaders in the 70’s and 80’s, along with Dr Lee Siew Chow, Seow Khee Leng, and even Harbans Singh. Long after all the others had “disappeared” from the scene, however, JBJ was still fighting for his cause. When results for Anson were announced on TV in 1981, I remember hearing shouts and clapping around my neighbourhood. I had wondered why, but I knew it must have been something happy and momentous.”

“When Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam passed away, he had dreams he desired and waited to be fulfilled. At 82, he had just been discharged from bankruptcy and had his legal practice reinstated. After being barred from contesting elections for more than ten years, he readied himself for what was possibly his last election only about three years away. But no matter what, he has already accomplished a lot more than what he had set out to do and what he had yet to complete.”

- Hougang Boy

- Melvin Tan, Member, age: 34.

we discovered to our surprise that the film had been delisted from the programme, because it had not been passed by the Board of Film Censors. The lecturers were not at the launch, and JBJ told me he could not contact them for many days. Later, there were reports that they were being investigated for an offence under an obscure section of the Films Act. That section continues to haunt Singaporeans today, but probably not for much longer, as the People’s Action Party has indicated that they have already made political films videos about themselves which they will be showing once the law is amended!

friends assured him that his salvation would not hinge on that evening alone…and thus was he persuaded.

Around the year 2000, I invited JBJ to a small birthday party at my family home. Several friends and my family were there. As with most of my family occasions, alcohol was always available for merry-making. Though JBJ was a whiskey man, he whispered to me that as it was Holy Week (in the Christian calendar, the days preceding Good Friday), he did not “mean to be sanctimonious” but would not want to drink. As I recall, a clergyman among my

After he became a bankrupt in 2001, he resigned from the Workers’ Party. I joined the Party in Nov 2001 when Mr Low Thia Khiang was Secretary-General. Because of this, I believe JBJ was not happy with me and we thus became somewhat estranged. In the last few years, our dealings were minimal and formal. But when he started the Reform Party, the Workers’ Party leadership turned up in force at the Reform Party’s inaugural dinner in July 2008. Despite whatever differences, we could not forget his contributions to the continuity of the Party and his leadership through various crises. I could not say that I knew JBJ well. But from what I knew, he was a God-fearing man who stuck to his guns and moved many by the deep sacrifices he made for the sake of his beliefs. Did he pay too high a price? If he were alive, I believe his answer would have been an emphatic: “No!”

By Lilian Lee In the article “PM Lee says two-party political model cannot work in Singapore”. (http://www. channelnewsasia.com/ stories/singaporelocalnews/view/390235/1/.html), published on the Channel NewsAsia website, PM Lee Hsien Loong said, "The country is much better off with one dominant party, as long as the PAP provides clean and good government, and the lives of Singaporeans improve." It is true, the country will be in good and safe hands as long as PAP provides a clean and good government. But having another political party in parliament would provide the much needed checks and balances for the PAP government. This alternative party will keep the government on their toes to make sure that the PAP remains clean and efficient. It is an insurance against failure. Without an opposition party, complacency will set in and it could be too late to turn back the clock. Having an alternative political party is akin to investing your money for the future – for your retirement, for your kids, and your grandkids. When we plan to grow our money, for instance, we diversify our risks; we invest our money in various areas, such as fixed deposits, equities, and government bonds. This is done because we understand the meaning of, ‘Don’t put all your eggs into one basket’. Likewise when it comes to governing a country, we should not rely on only one political party. Allow me to illustrate why, by using the same analogy of investing for the future

“JBJ赢得Anson时,因为我的眼睛受了伤所以无法到现场感受当时的气氛,是我最大的遗憾。虽然有些时 候我不认同他的作风,他的精神可是令我非常的敬佩。尤其是那份,为国为民从来不要求回报的真诚。” - Lim Ee Ping, Member, age: 72. “The most memorable experience that I had with him was the celebration after the win in Anson. People from all walks of life came to congratulate him. I will never forget a particular supporter, a journalist from London. Mr JBJ had come across to me as a man who was very hardworking and persistent.”

“I was so happy when Mr JBJ won the seat in Anson. It was all over The Straits Times. I was happy not just for him but for the whole constituency as well as the party. The public, residents from Anson and of course members from the party were helping out during the elections. It was not just JBJ’s win; it was everyone’s win!”

- Marsh Edmund Richard, Member, age: 66.

- Sakthivel, j, Member, age 59.

1) You can’t plan your future in the future; you got to plan it now. No one plans their future in the future because it’s impossible! Being the government of Singapore, it is the PAP’s duty to ensure that the future of Singapore is taken care of. Should the PAP fail, does PM Lee expect any political party to just spring up and take over the governance of Singapore? There will be NO time for any good alternative party to take over because one such party will need years to build up its credibility. PM Lee had said: "If the party doesn't work, if something goes wrong with the party, you can be sure new parties will come, new contests will come. People will spring up to take on the government in no time at all." The truth is, if any party were to spring up from nowhere and start governing, Singapore will be in even great danger.


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In other words, you have to get it when you don't want it, so that you have it when you need it. 2) You can say “I don't need it”, but can you say “your family won't need it”? PM Lee can say he doesn’t need a 2-political party system, but can he say the same thing for Singaporeans? During the General Elections in 2006, at least 33.4% of Singaporeans who were eligible and had the chance to vote, expressed in their votes that they NEED an alternative party. 3) No person ever dies at the “right time” Should the PAP fail, it may happen at the worst time, for example, during a severe recession. Like death, it is almost uncertain to predict when it will happen. Therefore, we need an alternative party that is able to take over anytime. So it is not wise to say, “I want an alternative party in the government, but now is not the right time.” The truth is, there is no such thing as a “right time”, because we will never know when is that right time until it is too late. 4) Don’t leave it to chance Are we, Singaporeans, going to leave it to chance? The chance of the PAP failing and to have any political party to spring up to take over our country? Shouldn’t we be having the alternative party OW so that we can choose and decide which is the best one? 5) Doing nothing may be the worst thing to do Sometimes the biggest price that you pay in the world is doing nothing. And that could be the worst thing that you do. If we want change or expect change for the better, then we have to do something. If there is any alternative party that aspires to bring about positive changes, that party will have to start doing the work now. That party has to start playing an alternative role in parliament now. Conclusion In conclusion, the government encourages all Singaporeans to plan for the future, to ensure that one has enough funds to tide us through our retirement until the day we die. In Singapore, the CPF scheme is itself a form of investment in our future; it ensures that we have enough funds on which to live after we retire. The new compulsory CPF Life scheme which will kick in by 2013, is another example. Our government plans ahead. But when it comes to the need for an alternative party, the government does NOT plan ahead. Regardless of how formidable the PAP might be, it will still need another political party because even the Titanic which was supposed to be unsinkable, has life boats and life buoys on board. Incidentally, the Titanic sank in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people.

By Joseph Teo In an article in The Sunday Times on 2 Nov 20081 , the Minister for Health Mr Khaw Boon Wan announced that he planned to amend the Human Organ Transplant Act to allow people who donate their kidneys to get monetary compensation from the recipient or a voluntary organisation. He said that “the World Health Organisation and countries such as the United States believe that it is ethical to compensate donors so they do not suffer for their act of altruism.” He hinted that the sum would be “at least five figures, possibly six”. However, such an approach and argument is flawed on three counts: True altruism is priceless First, altruism is “the act of caring about the needs and happiness of other people more than your own”2. Such acts are considered noble and worthy of admiration precisely because there is no material benefit for their self-sacrifice. Such people and such acts are valued because they encourage the suppression of individual need for the good of others and for the good of the greater community. The greater the capacity of a society to do this, the better it is able to survive difficult times. The act of compensating donors for kidneys removes the altruistic component from the act, and makes it a commercial transaction. By allowing compensation, we are saying that as a society, we do not really value altruistic acts, and that with money and power, all things, including the denial of death, is possible. This will encourage individualism, and a “me first” mentality found in some other countries. This cannot possibly be good for us as a nation. The poor will be disadvantaged Second, organ trading will exacerbate the rich-poor divide. In an environment where all prospective organ recipients are in a queue regardless of whether they are rich or poor, the lives of both rich and poor are valued equally. Legalising organ trading creates an environment where those who can afford it “bypass the queue” – meaning there will be preferential treatment of one group over another. Lower or even middle-class Singaporeans are unlikely to be able to afford sums that are five or six figures. The argument that “the National Kidney Foundation could step in to help” does not work in a situation where there are two prospective recipients with hard-to-match donor requirements competing for a single kidney. Would the wealthy recipient outbid the National Kidney Foundation? And would a poor or middle-class Singaporean die because he wasn’t rich enough to afford a kidney? In the National Longevity Insurance Committee (NLIC) Report3, Professor Lim Pin noted that there were public concerns that “the scheme benefits those who are wealthier as they will live longer”. However, the NLIC noted that “there is as yet no robust local data to support the use of any other factor (apart from age and gender) to price the premiums”. The NLIC Report is silent on whether such robust data exists in other countries, and did not propose

that we try to obtain such robust data before making a key policy decision. Why? Will legalising organ trading allow the rich to live longer? Will it create a situation where the poor and middle class end up subsidising the rich when the National Lifelong Income Scheme kicks in? No incentive to search for alternatives Third, legalising organ trading retards the search for alternatives. By making it possible to easily harvest organs from the poor, we reduce the incentive and desire to create fully artificial organs such as the Jarvik 2000 artificial heart4, for instance. Is legalising organ trading the best way to control it? While it is true that banning organ trading in Singapore may encourage some to go overseas to obtain what they cannot obtain legally in Singapore anyway, it is not sufficient reason to make it legal here. If it were so, then we should not ban sexual relations between men and underaged girls in Singapore, since doing so would encourage some men to go to our neighbouring countries to seek this illicit pleasure. In addition, compensating organ “donors” may encourage them to undergo significant risks to their health for the sake of money monetary returns and this may not be in their best interests – just as it is not necessarily in someone’s best interests to offer him cheap and easy credit for him to buy a house that he could not ordinarily afford. Conclusion In summary, legalising organ trading diminishes the value of altruism and encourages a “me first” mentality, divides the nation into “haves and have-nots”, and retards the search for alternatives to harvesting organs from poor people. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, smart or simple, we come into this world naked, and naked we will leave this world. Death is the great leveller. Let us come to a graceful acceptance of it, and not choose to exploit those less fortunate than us. Quick Poll Do you agree that organ trading should remain banned? Vote now at http://www.wp.sg/wordpress/?p=127

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“Law to change so kidney donors can be compensated”, by Salma Khalik, Sunday Times, 2 Nov 2008.

2

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Seventh Edition, Oxford University Press 2005.

3

“Report by the National Longevity Insurance Committee”, dated 4 Nov 2008, by Prof. Lim Pin et al. http://mycpf.cpf. gov.sg/Members/Gen-Info/CPF_LIFE/NLIC.htm,

“World’s first permanent artificial heart patient dies”, AFP, 4

4

Dec 2007. http://health.asiaone.com/print/Health/Health.html


4

By Koh Choong Yong For many years, Singaporeans have been given only a one-liner explanation for electricity tariff increases: “due mainly to the higher fuel costs faced by the generating companies”. Although in every press release for tariff increases, the fuel oil price used to calculate the new tariffs is quoted, not much light has been shed on the formula used to derive the tariffs. It was only after a question raised by NCMP Sylvia Lim at the Parliamentary sitting on 21 Oct 2008, asking for the full details of the formula to be published, plus her reiteration of the request in a letter to the Straits Times Forum on 30 Oct 2008, that the Energy Market Authority (EMA) finally published the formula on its website (http://www.ema. gov.sg/attachments/Consultation/20081031095353_6468_ Electricity_Tariff.pdf) on 31 Oct 2008. Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said in the same Parliamentary sitting, “the industry is inherently complicated and the formula reflects that”. Nevertheless as this affects all of us, we should take a closer look at the released formula to attempt to make it more digestible. The big picture Before we dive into the various components in the formula as provided in the EMA document, we need to understand how electricity is produced and delivered to our houses. At the simplest level, there are 3 basic steps in this: power generation, transmission & distribution and metering, reading & billing. Electrical power is generated in power generators, which consumes different kinds of fuel, accordingly to the design of the generator. The generated power is transmitted through the power grid, from the power stations via a series of substations, and eventually distributed to households. The last step is to deploy manpower to read meters and bill consumers accordingly at the end of the month. Conceptually, these are the basic steps. However, some complications to this picture were added as the electricity market liberalises in Singapore. State-owned assets were gradually corporatised starting from 1985, resulting in three separate generation companies (gencos) competing in the market – Senoko Power, PowerSeraya and Tuas Power. Other gencos entered the market subsequently as it liberalised. The EMA was established in 2001 as the regulatory body over electricity and gas industry. The National Electricity Market of Singapore (NEMS) opened for trading on 1 Jan 2003, with Energy Market Company (EMC) acting as the exchange market for electricity trading.

So the picture today can be summarised as follows: • 8 generation companies supplying electrical power to the NEMS; • 6 retailing companies buying power from the market to be retailed to end customers, currently only “contestable” customers, which exclude households; • SP Services providing the meter reading and billing services to households, acting as the additional retailer providing power at regulated rates; • SP PowerGrid transmitting and distributing the power to homes; • EMA setting the rules; • EMC implementing the rules Pieces of the puzzle There are five components in the formula for determining the electricity tariff for households. Four of them are considered non-fuel costs, meaning that they are not affected by the volatility in fuel prices. The one component that is affected by the fuel price volatility is, no surprise, the fuel cost itself. Note that all the components are charged at x cents per kiloWatt-hour (kWh), where kWh is the standard unit of energy used in our utilities bills. Non-Fuel Costs The non-fuel costs (listed from the least amount to the most) are: • Power System Operation & Market Admin Fees • Market Support Services Fee • Grid Charge • Power Generation Cost The Power System Operation & Market Administration Fees are paid to EMA and EMC for their respective roles as the power system operator and market operator. The 0.06 cents per kWh paid for this has remained fairly constant in 2008. The Market Support Services Fee or MSS Fee is set by SP Services and regulated by EMA to recover the costs of billing and meter reading. According to the formula document, the 0.34 cents per kWh has remained flat for the past 5 years. Grid Charge is paid to SP PowerGrid for the transmission and distribution of power from the power stations to the households. SP PowerGrid is the management company of SP PowerAssets, which owns the electricity transmission and distribution networks in Singapore. This means all power generated in Singapore will have to go through SP PowerGrid's network. The Grid Charge is reviewed annually, with the latest review on 1 Oct 2008, bringing the Grid Charge from 5.35 cents per kWh to 4.92 cents per kWh. Power Generation Costs refers to the costs of operating the power stations, such as manpower and maintenance costs, as well as the capital costs of the stations. Based on the percentage stated on the graphs in the formula document, the following power generation costs are derived for the year of 2008:

Q3 2008

22.1%

25.07

5.54

Q4 2008

20.5%

30.45

6.24 (provided in the document)

The formula document says that EMA reviews the power generation cost once every 24 months, with another document with further complicated details on the review process. Without getting too much into the details, it is clear that even if fuel costs were to remain constant, there are other factors at play that will cause a gradual but continuous increase in the electricity tariffs. Fuel Costs Fuel Costs make up the most significant portion of the electrical tariff, and is most controversial because of the time lag between the change in international crude oil prices vs the quoted fuel costs used in the formula. There are a few main steps in determining the fuel costs: 1. The formula starts with forward fuel oil prices. An index developed specifically for EMA by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) known as the Singapore Fuel Oil Index is used to derive the average 3-month forward fuel oil price. The index gives us a price in terms of US$ per metric tonne of fuel. This is converted into US$ per barrel. 2. The average price is then converted from US dollars to Singapore dollars at the prevailing exchange rate (from another index), yielding a S$ per barrel price. 3. The S$ per barrel price is converted into S$ per million British Thermal Unit (mmBtu – a unit of measurement of heat energy in gas). 4. Multiply the S$ per mmBtu price by the heat rate for power plants (in Btu/kWh, reviewed by EMA every 24 months). After this series of averages and conversions, the cents per kWh value that is summed up together with the non-fuel costs to get the final electricity tariffs for the quarter is finally derived. Putting the picture together Once the components are understood, it is easy to understand how we arrived at the 30.45 cents per kWh in Q4 2008: Component

Breakdown cents per kWh

Paid to

Fuel Cost

18.89

Generation Companies

Power Generation Cost

6.24

Generation Companies

Grid Charge

4.92

SP PowerGrid

MSS Fee

0.34

SP Services

Power System Operation & Market Administration Fees

0.06

Power System Operator (EMA) Energy Market Company

Total

30.45

Electricity tariff

Power Generation Cost

Dissecting the pieces

22.4%

22.62

5.07

21.6%

23.88

5.16

Gas or Oil The single most asked question in every debate about electricity tariff is: since almost 80% of our power

Period

Stated Percentage

Q1 2008 Q2 2008

(cents per kWh)

(cents per kWh)


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generators use natural gas as fuel, what is the rationale behind making use of an index based on fuel oil prices for our calculations? The answer provided by S Iswaran is as follows: “In the US, there is a separate and distinct market for natural gas which determines its price. In Asia, however, there is no such distinct market and the price of natural gas is indexed to the priced of fuel oil, which is the alternative fuel for power generation. .... Countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore buy natural gas through long-term contracts at a price which is tied to the current price of fuel oil. Therefore, when the fuel oil price increases, so too will the natural gas price with a consequential increase in our electricity tariffs.” (Singapore Parliament Hansard, 21 Oct 2008) Singapore imports pipeline gas from Malaysia and Indonesia. Various long term contracts are reported in the media, but the dollar value of the contracts have eluded most of the reports. However, one particular gas supply agreement signed between Indonesia Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro and (then) Minister of Trade and Industry George Yeo in 2001 disclosed that “The 9 billion U.S. Dollars contract is valid for a period of 20 years commencing 2003 with a provision for further extension should both parties so require.” (Xinhua News Agency, 12 Feb 2001, “Indonesia, Singapore Sign gas Sales Contract Agreement”) In the contract above, it appears that the price for natural gas was fixed at US$ 9 billion for the 20 years, so where is the tying to the current price of fuel oil? Other than the quoted contract, there must have been many other contracts between Singapore and its pipeline gas supplying countries, Malaysia and Indonesia. The details of these agreements by the Singapore government does not seem to be available to the Singapore public, leaving the question of how much does an increase in the fuel oil price really affect the costs facing the generation companies in Singapore unanswered. Time Lag, Over-collection and Under-collection In the name of providing more stability in prices, the 3-month forward fuel oil price is used, instead of spot fuel price. In layman's terms, the difference is the time at which the goods ordered is being received. For example, Company A makes an order in Jul 2008 for delivery in Oct 2008, and the contract price for this is the forward price. Company B makes an order in Oct 2008 for immediate delivery, and the contract price for this is the spot price. Both contracts are made and the price fixed. The main difference is that the 3-month forward price provides a time lag effect – whatever price we are paying for is the market price 3 months ago. In the example above, Company A pays the market price of Jul 2008 whereas Company B pays the market price of Oct 2008, both for delivery of goods in Oct 2008, but they both paid the price on their respective contracts for the goods. If a Consumer C were to purchase the goods from Company A, he will see that there he is paying for goods at the price 3 months ago.

Hence there is nothing inherently wrong with using 3-month forward fuel oil prices as the price index, if there really is no other way to price natural gas. The problem comes when the fuel oil price index is referred to once every 3 months, in accordance to the review schedule of the regulated electricity tariff. The price for Oct 2008 to Dec 2008 was fixed based on the contract prices transacted in the month of Jul 2008. However, this also means that prices for 3-month forward fuel oil contracts transacted in Aug 2008 and Sep 2008, which should be delivered in Nov 2008 and Dec 2008, were not taken into consideration. When prices fall in Aug 2008 and Sep 2008, the fuel cost component quoted for the calculation of the tariff is still based on the prices in Jul 2008. This caused a case of over-collection. In fact, as long as the prices in the “in-between” months (Feb, Mar, May, Jun, Aug, Sep, Nov and Dec) differ from the prices in the “index” months (Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct), there will be cases of either over-collection or under-collection of the fuel cost component. In the recent times, where oil prices fall dramatically following the international financial crisis, what would be the mechanism in the formula to ensure that Singapore households are not penalised by the over-collection of the fuel cost component? Commercially Sensitive Information In the EMA document on the formula, the 3-month forward fuel oil price in Jul 2008 arrived at was S$155.14 per barrel. The next line states that at this fuel oil price, the average gas price is S$27.269/mmBtu. Leaping price per volume to price per heat energy is quite a long jump, but the explanation given to this leap was a one-liner: “EMA cannot reveal further how the gas is priced as the information is commercially sensitive.”

Contestability kicks in. Full Retail Contestability (FRC) refers to the system where every electricity consumer, including households, pays a competitive price for electricity. When FRC kicks in, buying electricity will be more similar to choosing a mobile phone package, with up to 6 different electricity retailers currently licensed to retail electricity. Although probably, as a result of the competition from the retailers, the electricity prices households pay in the initial period will be substantially lower and less prone to volatility than they are today, FRC has its own sets of pros and cons, which is outside the scope of this article. The future With the historical electricity consumption in Singapore doubling from 1987 to 1997 and a further 1.5-time jump between 1997 and 2007, the real problem is the relentless increase in demand for energy. Coupled with the finite but diminishing reserves of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal etc) in the world, and the price of energy is bound to increase over the long term. The real solution is two-pronged: on a national level, Singapore should start early, that is, NOW, to develop capabilities of renewable energy sources, and really implement them instead of paying lip service to it. At the individual level, we should think twice when we are about to use some energy – can we do something to save and conserve it?

So this is a case of revealing everything to you but omitting the most important part. Just imagine someone inviting you to watch TV at home, showing you his expensive surround sound, explaining the new OLED technology, showcasing the Blu-ray player, and tell you, “Sorry I need to cover the screen because I am afraid that it will be scratched.” In any case, if the information is commercially sensitive, it also means that the contracts between the gencos and their gas suppliers would all be different, so is the price of S$27.269/mmBtu an estimate, the average, the median or derived using other means? Regardless of which, it is telling that the fuel component portion would mean a high margin for some gencos, since not all their costs are uniform. Power Generation Costs does not reflect efficiency savings The liberalisation of Singapore's electricity industry is aimed at enhancing market efficiency. However, looking at the table for Power Generation Cost, the component has risen from 5.07 cents per kWh in Q1 2008 to 6.24 cents per kWh in Q4 2008. At the cents per kWh this might not look like a huge increase, but when the domestic consumption figures for Q1 2008 of 1,553,000 kWh and Q2 2008 of 1,776,000 kWh are taken into consideration, the increase in power generation cost is quite substantial. (Do your own multiplication to see the millions in dollars increased in power generation cost). Do such figures reflect that the gencos are operating as efficiently as possible? Maybe it will take some further explanation from EMA on what would be the power generation cost should there not be an electricity market, for us to see a better picture. Full Retail Contestability – is that the solution? All this discussion about the formula for regulated electricity tariff will be rendered obsolete once Full Retail

Down 1. A wartime leader of Great Britain 2. The colour of The Workers' Party T-shirt 3. President of China 6. Current President of France 7. Ex-Iraqi Dictator and President Obama share this common name 8. Represents 'Power of The People' in The Workers' Party Logo 10. One of 9 Single Member Constituencies in Singapore 12. Won by The Workers' Party in the 1991 General Elections Across 4. The only Asian country in the Group of Eight (G-8) 5. The only American President who got elected 4 times 9. Second President of Singapore 10. Founded The Workers' party in 1957 11. Capital of Canada 13. Won by The Workers' Party in a 1981 By-Election 14. Symbolizes the 'Working Class' in The Workers' Party Logo 15. An old name for Singapore 16. The policy of 'openness' initiated by Ex-Soviet Leader, Mikhail Gorbachev


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Equal concession fares should, likewise, be accorded to both polytechnic and JC students. Then, when both JC and polytechnic students enter university, they pay a slightly higher fare. This is fair, as a university can – rightly – be considered a tertiary educational institution.

By Bernard Chen Jiaxi

Currently, all full-time students in Singapore are eligible to purchase monthly concession passes for public transportation. However, full-time students from the polytechnics are treated differently vis-à-vis junior college (JC) students and students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). JC & ITE students

Tertiary students % (polytechnics & difference universities) in prices

Bus Concession Pass (unlimited travel on basicfare bus services for one month)

$27.50

$52

Train Concession Pass (up to 4 rides per day on the MRT/ LRT for one month

$25

89%

Transitlink and the Public Transport Council (PTC) should provide a more equitable transportation fare structure by treating all local polytechnic stuidents on the same basis as JC and ITE students. Since there may be working adults taking part-time diploma courses at the polytecnics as well, it would be fair to limit the fare concession to only full-time polytechnic students under a specific age of, say, 25. Private students, who currently do not enjoy any fare concession at all, should also be accorded concession fares to help defray their education expenses. Concession fares for these students could be higher than that for university students, but still lower than what the general public pays. Below is a simple recommendation for a possible revision of concessionary fare prices: Revised Concession Fare Chart

Hybrid Concession Pass (combination $52.50 of bus and train concession pass)

$45

80%

$97

84%

Polytechnic and university students pay as much as 89% more in transportation fares than their peers in JCs and ITEs. The basis of this fare differential between polytechnic students and JC/ITE students arises because currently, polytechnic students are classified as tertiary students, whereas JC students are classified as secondary students and hence enjoy the same concession fares as their secondary school counterparts. While it is reasonable for older students studying at higher levels to pay more, the current fare structure is, however, not fair in classifying polytechnic students as “tertiary” students who should pay the same fares as their university counterparts. There is in fact no basis to differentiate polytechnic and JC students. Both groups of students have just completed their secondary school education. Both are studying full-time and will spend roughly the same time in their respective institutions (2 years in JCs and 3 years in polytechnics). And after completing their polytechnic or JC education, both groups of students may poceed to further their studies at universities. Hence, a JC and a polytechnic should be seen as equal stepping stones to the same destination – that is, a university.

Public Universities Polytechnic – NUS, NTU, (price bandwidth SMU, SIM between 0 – 25%) (price bandwidth between 25% 40%)

Private Educational Institutions (60%)

Bus

$27.50 - $34.50

$34.50 - $38.25

$44

MRT

$25 - $31.25

$31.25 - $35

$40

Hybrid

$52.50 - $65.60

$65.60 - $73.50

$84

The cost of public transportation has been rising continually. Many students, whose parents experience financial difficulty especially in the current economic climate, have been forced to take part-time jobs to support themselves. A student’s task is to concentrate on studying and to prepare himself or herself for the future, not to work to earn money. So the very least that publc transport operators can do is to offer more substantial concession for as many students as possible, in order to help alleviate the financial burden of students and their families. Bernard Chen, 23, is pursuing a Diploma in Leisure and Resort Management. He is currently the Secretary of the Workers’ Party Youth Wing.

By Wilson Foo It is phenomenon that Singaporeans have been through previously. What is it? Is it a meteor shower? Passing comets? The flight of migratory birds? None of those. I am referring to the current economic crisis. The recent collapse of several major financial institutions in the United States has precipitated a severe economic crunch in our country. First, investors were told that the financial products they had purchased were not worth anything. And more recently, companies have begun to lay off their employees. In addition, with prices of basic necessities spiralling up relentlessly, we face the unwelcome prospect of an economic catastrophe that may be even worse than the Asian financial crisis in 1997. So what is the Singapore government doing about this? The stand of the ruling party, thus far, seems to be one of apathy. When financial disaster strikes, our countrymen are told to “work harder”. We are asked to bite the bullet and ride out the storm. Yet, we see the occupiers of high office being largely unaffected, at least in terms of the quality of life. They continue to draw top-dollar salaries. The government announced on 24 Nov 2008 that the salaries of Ministers and top civil servants have been reduced by 16—19%. But the fact remains that even after this reduction, their salaries are still enormous by the standard of most Singaporeans. Many of our Ministers do not live in HDB flats nor take public transport and so they do not feel the squeeze that ordinary families feel when prices rise and jobs are lost. Lehman-linked products While measures have been taken to grant relief to certain purchasers of failed financial products linked to Lehman Brothers, these measures have been instituted by the banks which sold them; the government has not done anything besides reminding these banks to look into the matter. Many of the investors are still left in the lurch. At the same time, while it is understandable that the older and less educated are given priority, the government should still look into the possibility of granting aid to all those affected. If the ruling party claims to be world-class, then their world-class personnel ought to be able to architect a satisfactory solution to quell the wellspring of unhappiness generated. Mere sweet talk does not suffice. Retrenchment In similar vein, the government has been to tick-off DBS for retrenching about 4,000 staff in Singapore, and issue guidelines for other companies considering retrenchment. But there is no tangible assistance from the government. The government should provide incentives, in cash or kind, to companies which take active steps to avoid retrenching their employees, or at least, to minimise the number of people they have to layoff. These incentives would also help to tide the companies through the economic crisis. The Workers’ Party, on its part, will continue to press for greater protection of workers, and to urge the government to do more to help Singaporeans during this difficult period.


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strongly that polytechnic students should not be made to pay adult fares while their junior college counterparts are paying concessionary fares. Kelvin Quee believes that Singapore’s transport system is still a far-cry from that in other first-world countries, and competition should be introduced to better serve the needs of the people. Alvinder, on the other hand proposed the idea of a one-car per household policy which he envisions can only happen when Singapore has an efficient and reliable transport system.

By Bernard Chen Jiaxi & Peng Jian Xiong, Aaron YouthQuake, a series of forums organised by the Workers’ Party Youth Wing, seeks to be an effective and open platform for youths to present their ideas and opinions. It aims to educate and empower today’s youths so as to bring about positive social change. YouthQuake 1: Should Singaporeans be allowed to vote at 18? Student Anne Tan, full-time national serviceman Khairulanwar Zaini, and Choo Zheng Xi, National University of Singapore (NUS) law undergraduate and Chief Editor of The Online Citizen, a socio-political blog, kickedstarted the first of 4 YouthQuake forums on 3 May 2008. Anne, Khairulanwar and Zheng Xi touched on the social, political and constitutional implications of young Singaporeans voting at 18. At the end of the session, most of the youths present were convinced that lowering the voting age to 18 would go a long way in encouraging people to be the creators of a system they want to see. Bernard Chen, 23, Secretary of the Workers’ Party Youth Wing as well as the forum’s moderator, ended the session with this message: “Leaders whom youths can’t vote for today may send them to war tomorrow. Youths shouldn’t be held to a stricter standard than adults. Lowering the voting age should be the just and fair way to make things right.” YouthQuake 2: Transportation Road Map by Youth in Singapore YouthQuake 2, titled “Transportation Road Map by Youth in Singapore” was held on 7 June 208. The 3 speakers were: Republic Polytechnic graduate Jamilah Lim who is also a member of the Workers’ Party Youth Wing Exco, Kelvin Quee, a final year Accountancy student at NTU, and Alvinder Singh, who had recently attended the International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague, Czech Republic in July 2008. Jamilah, the only female speaker at this forum, maintained that all full-time students should be paying the same transport fares regardless of the institution they are studying in. As a polytechnic student herself, she feels

While many may agree that we have a world class transportation system, many of the youths at the forum also felt that there is still much room for improvement, and that we should strive to provide the efficient transportation service for our people. YouthQuake 3: The Environment - Has Singapore done enough? YouthQuake 3 saw a panel of environmental advocates offering their insights into the environmental situation in Singapore. Of particular concern was whether Singapore has done enough to conserve our greenery. The Workers’ Party Youth Wing was pleased to have Nathaniel Koh, an undergraduate in SMU’s Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management) and Political Science programme; Low Ee Mien, a part-time fund manager for a private investment fund, blogger, peak-oiler, and climate change activist, and Wilson Ang, founder and President of the Environment Challenge Organisation (Singapore), also known as ECO-Singapore. Using various analogies, and anecdotes, Nathaniel listed down a few suggestions on how more people can be encouraged to go “green” and reminded Singaporeans that it is not too late to reverse the damage done to the environment. Ee Mien took the opportunity to share with the audience about the Peak Oil concept and gave a comprehensive introduction to the various considerations and alternative energy sources. The session ended with Wilson, the President of EcoSingapore, driving home the idea of responsible consumption. He emphasised that we should not go green just because it is the “in” thing to do so. He left everyone with this message, “Everyone has to know and understand exactly what we are doing and why. It is not just [about] saving the environment, but more of saving ourselves.”

women. Held on 16 August 2008, YouthQuake 4 saw for the first time a panel of 4 female speakers including Dana Lam, former President of AWARE (1999 to 2000), Lilian Lee (an activist and member of the Workers’ Party Central Executive Committee), Koh Kai Lin (a graduate from the Singapore Institute of Management and Selene Cheng, an avid blogger and writer for The Online Citizen, a sociopolitical blog in Singapore). Dana, the sole mother among the panel of speakers, briefly described the women’s movement in Singapore since independence in 1965 and provided an overview of society’s perception of women. Lilian, on the other hand, highlighted the plight of unwedded mothers and questioned whether the treatment and entitlements they are receiving from the state are fair. Kai Lin touched on why Singaporean women are not keen to have more babies. She feels that, besides monetary assistance, there needs to be a change of mindset and attitude towards marriage and having children, as well as strong family support. Selene identified the different roles women are playing in society today and also identified the need to strike a work-life-balance as a challenge faced by women today. A Big THANK YOU! The Workers’ Party Youth Wing would like to thank all 13 speakers for their time and contribution, as well as the guests for their warm and encouraging response. Second series of YouthQuake The Workers’ Party Youth Wing is in the midst of preparing for the next series of YouthQuake forums. This time round, we will be taking YouthQuake to different locations around Singapore. YouthQuake (series 2) is scheduled to be held in the first quarter of 2009 and the possible topics are education and the media. We look forward to seeing you soon!

YouthQuake 4: The Evolving Role of women in Singapore Singapore’s history is filled with accounts of our founding fathers. But where are our founding mothers? With this in mind, the first series of YouthQuake ended with a discussion on the role of women in Singapore society, an issue that is relevant to the men and close to the hearts of

Email Bernard Chen @ bernardchen@wp.sg for more information on YouthQuake (series 2), and to offer your suggestions and feedback.


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customers understand the nature and risks of the products and have sufficient net worth to assume the risks and bear the potential losses of trading in the products.”

By Png Eng Huat “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” so goes the famous opening line of Charles Dickens’ historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities (1859), set in the turbulent times preceding the French Revolution in London and Paris. One hundred and forty-nine years later, a new “novel” about two cities, set in the chaotic times following an unprecedented credit crisis, is about to be written. Using the similar words of Dickens, “it was the best of times for one who did not buy any minibonds, it was the worst of times for one who did”. This new story will compare the crisis response of 2 cities, Singapore and Hong Kong, in the aftermath of an unprecedented financial meltdown. The saga started in 2007 when the subprime market in the United States began to buckle under stress. The crisis worsened the following year and started a chain reaction in the financial markets causing behemoths like Bear Sterns, Washington Mutual, and Lehman Brothers to fall like dominoes. On 15 September 2008, the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sent shockwaves to thousands of investors of structured financial products linked to the 158-year old investment bank. In an instant, many of their investments were completely wiped out. Affected investors in Singapore and Hong Kong began their search for an answer to this unthinkable event. Stage 1: Hong Kong’s response Six days later on 21 September 2008, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issued its first press release on investment products linked to Lehman Brothers. In it, HKMA addressed the concerns of members of the public who had purchased investment products linked to Lehman Brothers. It also arranged for a meeting the following day, 22 September, “to facilitate communication among investors, representatives of banks that sold Lehman-related products and the trustees who are holding the collateral for the investments.”

The HKMA hotline, 8100-2314, was subsequently set up on 22 September to take calls from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. A form for complaints in writing was also made available on the HKMA website. Only 2 press releases were issued by HKMA between 15 and 22 September on Lehman Brothers. Stage 1: Singapore’s response In contrast, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued 4 press releases on the failed investment products linked to Lehman Brothers in the same period. The press release on 22 September reminded Financial Institutions (FIs) to “update all affected investors as soon as information becomes available” and suggested that consumers approach the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (FIDReC) if they are not satisfied with the FI’s response. It also stressed that MAS will work with partners to enhance financial education so that investors will not “invest in products they do not fully understand.” No meeting was arranged by MAS to facilitate communication among investors, banks and trustees. No dedicated hotline for complaints was set up. Then, in a press release on 23 September 2008, MAS informed the public that it was in “close contact with the financial institutions (FIs) which sold or issued structured products linked to Lehman Brothers, and has asked them to expedite their assessments of how investors will be affected.” It also asked FIs to keep MAS “informed of customers' queries and complaints they have received and the responses provided.” Stage 2: Hong Kong’s response Meanwhile in Hong Kong, HKMA started to investigate complaints of alleged mis-selling of investment products related to Lehman Bothers. By 6 October, it had received 5,567 complaints from retails investors alleging improper selling of investment products by licensed banks. The number of complaints swelled to 12,091 by 17 October. Twenty-four cases involving “complaints of alleged misconduct in respect of investment products related to Lehman Brothers” were referred to the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) for further action. On 17 Oct 2008, HKMA also welcomed the distributing banks’ agreement to the government’s buy-back proposal for the Lehman Minibonds. Although the Task Force had appointed an independent financial adviser to valuate the collaterals for the Lehman Minibonds, HKMA had

By 24 October 2008, HKMA has received 16,301 complaints and has referred 64 cases to SFC. It had also formally opened investigations on 285 complaints. On 31 October, HKMA announced mediation and arbitration services for Lehman Brothers-related cases and offered to “co-ordinate referrals and pay share of the fee for these services on behalf of investors whose complaints in relation to the sale of the products have already been referred by the HKMA to the SFC’ and ‘investors whose complaint has resulted in a finding against a relevant individual or executive officer by either HKMA or the SFC.” In all, HKMA issued 7 press releases in the period of 23 Sep to 31 Oct 2008. Stage 2: Singapore’s response Back in Singapore, in the same period of time, MAS issued about 10 press releases to keep the public informed on the resolution process. On 2 October, it identified “three well-respected individuals to oversee the relevant FIs” complaints handling and resolution process’ for the failed structured products. A 751-word press release on 2 October also gave an outline of MAS’ approach in dealing with the failed structured product crisis. In it, MAS reiterated that it “will take firm and appropriate regulatory action where there are breached of law or regulations by the FIs or their representatives.” It also set a timeline for FIs to respond to investors’ complaints. On 10 October, MAS revealed that the total issue size of the Minibond programme was S$508 million with 9,750 retail investors involved. No other action or investigation into mis-selling was announced. Stage 3: Hong Kong’s response By 14 November 2008, HKMA had referred a total of 113 Lehman-Brothers-related cases to the SFC. It also formally opened investigations into thousands of complaints. Stage 3: Singapore’s response On the same day, MAS issued another press release on 2 more failed financial products called Pinnacle Notes Series 9 and 10. The issue size of the affected products was $26 million with 700 retails investors involved. Comparing the 2 cities’ responses The two contrasting styles of MAS and HKMA in handling the Lehman Brothers crisis have become a talking point among investors and netizens. Looking at the press releases of the two authorities, one can infer that HKMA is putting itself on the frontline in resolving the complaints of investors while MAS is leaning towards prodding FIs, independent parties, and investors to sort out the disputes among themselves.

In the same press release, the public were informed that banks, at the request of HKMA, were preparing to set up dedicated telephone lines to answer questions on Lehman-Brothers-related investment products sold by them. HKMA also planned to set up its own hotline “to assist any individual investors who might have complaints in relation to the sale by banks of investment products related to Lehman Brothers.” HKMA also issued a reminder to the banks “to comply with relevant regulations and have adequate internal controls to ensure that the suitability of products for customers is properly assessed and that there is adequate disclosure of major features and risks’ and that ‘banks are also required to assure themselves that

“in parallel appointed Price Waterhouse Coopers as an independent advisor to review the process and strategy adopted by the distributing banks in implementing the (buy-back) proposal.”

Source: by by laughlin (flickr.com)

The measured and calculated stance taken by MAS in handling the financial debacle may not be wrong. However, it did not go down well with many anxious investors who were desperately looking for an answer or some form of leadership to resolve the crisis.


9

continued from pg 8

Pengundi-pengundi Malaysia telah melakukannya. Pengundi-pengundi di Amerika juga telah melakukannya. Di sana-sini di seluruh dunia, kita dapati angin perubahan sedang bertiupan dengan begitu kencangnya membawa angin pembaharuan serta Demokrasi.

The financial meltdown of 2008 was unprecedented in scale and severity. Many countries initiated extraordinary fiscal measures to prevent a total collapse of their financial systems. The subdued response by MAS to the plights of the Lehman investors could be seen as out of proportion for a crisis of such magnitude. Although MAS did appeal to FIs to “do the right thing”, the impasse between banks and investors over the issue of misselling is difficult to surmount. No sane FI would admit to any wrong doing just as MAS would not admit to any oversight in allowing such risky products to be sold over the counter. This is not the first time investors in Singapore were left to fend for themselves. Ten years ago, the Central Limit Order Book (CLOB) fiasco left many investors of Malaysian shares stranded and clueless after the Malaysian authority declared the trading of such shares illegal. Back in 1998, investors were looking to the Stock Exchange of Singapore (SES) for direction and leadership but nothing much came out of it. The solution to the CLOB fiasco was left to some opportunistic Malaysian party which gave a ‘Hobson’s choice’ to helpless shareholders to consider. The dichotomy of the two cities’ handling of the Lehman fallout is quite ironic. One would have thought “caveat emptor” would rule the day in a laissez-faire state like Hong Kong but HKMA surprised many with its hands-on stance to help investors and FIs resolve their dispute over the alleged mis-selling of structured financial products. Apart from a small group of ‘vulnerable’ elderly investors who got some attention and redress from the authority and FIs over the financial fallout, caveat emptor will most likely rule the day for most affected investors in Singapore. For a nanny-state, the expected intervention by the authority in this debacle was somewhat restrained. This administrative restraint, perhaps, can be traced back to 12 Oct 1998 when Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in reply to a parliamentary question on the CLOB issue: “The government cannot protect investors from such risks. Investors have to keep their eyes open and judge for themselves whether the returns are adequate to justify the risks.” So are the returns adequate to justify the risks in putting one’s life savings into those failed financial products? Affected investors looking to MAS for assistance in answering this question will be sadly disappointed. Caveat emptor rules the day unless you are old and uneducated.

Di negara jiran kita, Malaysia, kita dapat lihat bagaimana tiupan angin reformasi, tiupan angin demokrasi dan tiupan angin-angin perubahan dan pembaharuan hampir menggugat kedudukan kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) yang selama ini kukuh. Pada Pilihanraya Umum Malaysia (PEMILU) yang lalu, beberapa buah negeri yang selama ini dianggap kukuh dan kubu kuat BN telah akhirnya tumpas kepada parti-parti di bawah panji Pakatan Rakyat, yang diketuai oleh Yang Amat Berhormat, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Ramai dari pihak BN yang amat terkejut dengan kekalahan mereka serta tumbangnya beberapa negeri seperti Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Perak dan Kedah ke tangan pihak lawan. Kelantan pula masih terus teguh dikuasai oleh kepimpinan Ulama mereka, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). Sedang pihak BN terkejut dengan tumbangnya negerinegeri tersebut serta kelakonannya yang secara kesuluruhannya tidak begitu baik di dalam PEMILU itu, rakyatnya pula bersorak gembira kerana telah melakukannya. Mereka mahukan perubahan. Mereka mahukan pembaharuan. Dan mereka memastikan bahawa perubahan dan pembaharuan itu berlaku menerusi kotak undi, secara demokrasi dan inilah yang telah mereka lakukan. Di Amerika pula, para pengundi disana telah melakukan satu perubahan yang besar. Buat pertama kali di dalam sejarahnya, mereka telah dengan sebulat suara mengundi seorang yang bukan berkulit putih sebagai Presiden Dilantik untuk menerajui Amerika di masa yang sukar ini. Parti Demokrat, telah kembali berkuasa, menerusi kemenangan mereka di kedua-dua dewan Senat dan Kongress, mengalahkan Parti Republikan yang menerajui Amerika sebelum ini. Calon Presiden Parti Demokrat, yang kini menjadi Presiden Dilantik, Barrack Hussein Obama, telah menjanjikan perubahan sebagai tema kempennya, rakyat Amerika mahukan perubahan dan kini, perubahan tahap pertama telah direalisasikan menerusi kotak undi dan dengan kemenangan besar Barrack Hussein Obama. Apabila direnungi kedua-dua senario di atas, timbul pula satu persoalan di lubuk hati saya ini. Saya bertanyakan kepada diri saya, adakah mungkin dapat saya melihat senario angin perubahan berlaku di negara kita yang tercinta ini? Saya inginkan perubahan dan pembaharuan di dalam sistem politik kita. Saya percaya, setiap daripada anda juga mempunyai keinginan yang sama. Perubahan dan pembaharuan pasti akan berlaku. Tetapi bila? Adakah pada zaman ini? Atau zaman generasi yang akan datang? Bagi saya, perubahan dan pembaharuan itu harus dimulakan sekarang. Sudah sekian lama Singapura dimonopoli dan diterajui oleh sebuah parti politik, iaitu Parti Tindakan Rakyat (PAP). Sistem satu parti politik yang menguasai segala-galanya tidak seharusnya diamal dan diteruskan lagi. Sebaliknya ditubuhkan sistem dua parti yang lebih adil dan saksama. Bawalah angin perubahan bersama kita.

Oleh Abdul Salim bin Harun

Sudah sekian lama juga rakyat selalu ditakut-takutkan mengenai masa depan Singapura yang malap jikalau pada satu hari nanti, pihak pembangkang memenangi Pilihanraya dan membentuk kerajaan.Malah, pernah seketika seorang Menteri veteran mengatakan bahawa beliau akan menggunakan tentera untuk menggulingkan kerajaan pembangkang. Malah, kita juga dapat lihat pada Pilihanraya yang baru diadakan pada 2006, bagaimana seorang calon PAP dengan sombong dan penuh keangkuhannya memberitahu para pengundi agar mereka menyuruh calon-calon parti pembangkang supaya “hentak kaki dan kebelakang pusing”. Sayangnya, calon tersebut kini dilantik sebagai Menteri. Rakyat Singapura sekalian, lihatlah betapa angkuhnya PAP sekarang. Mereka berbangga dengan pakaian serba putih mereka yang dianggap sebagai lambang “kebersihan” parti mereka. Tetapi mereka lupa, dan mereka harus diingatkan dengan tegas, bahawa pakaian serba putih mereka itu tidak akan putih dan bersih untuk selama-lamanya. Suatu hari nanti, ia akan pasti dicalit dengan kotoran juga. Dan sekiranya tiba hari tersebut, adakah kita sebagai rakyat sudah bersiap sedia untuk menghadapinya? Bak pepatah Melayu, sediakan payung sebelum hujan! Rakyat Singapura sekalian, angin perubahan kini sedang bertiupan dengan kencangnya di seluruh dunia. Mahu ataupun tidak, ia pasti akan dihadapi kita tidak lama lagi. PAP sudah seakan-akan lupa bahawa rakyatlah yang menaikkan mereka. Mereka harus ingat bahawa dengan kuasa rakyat dan angin perubahan yang sedang melanda ini, ia sudah tentu dapat menjatuhkan mereka juga. PAP seperti sudah lupa akan asal usulnya. Mereka seharusnya menjadi hamba kepada rakyat, bukan rakyat yang menjadi hamba kepada mereka! Tetapi inilah yang berlaku sekarang ini. Rakyat terpaksa bekerja keras untuk kesenangan mereka. Kadar cukai GST dinaikkan untuk menampung sebahagian daripada kenaikan gaji mereka! Rakyat terpaksa berhempas pulas untuk menghadapi kehidupan yang semakin sukar, dengan kos kehidupan yang semakin meningkat dan kini diburukkan lagi dengan keadaan ekonomi yang tidak menentu. Dan apakah yang mereka lakukan untuk rakyat? Renungilah dan fikirkanlah… Rakyat Singapura yang amat dihormati dan dikasihani sekalian, saya ingin menggesa kepada setiap daripada anda agar usahlah takut, gerun mahupun bimbang untuk melakukan perubahan, melakukan pembaharuan. Pengundi-pengundi di Malaysia dan Amerika telah melakukannya. Kita, bila lagi? Sekiranya, angin perubahan sudah tiba di tanah air yang tercinta ini, lakukanlah di kotak undi pada pilihan raya yang akan datang nanti.


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工人党党员 青年团执委 曾小玶,32岁

和了解外籍学生在我国定居的情况,她也在一所 国际学院担任讲师。

家庭背景 小玶来自一个小康之家。父亲在退休一阵子后重 返工作岗位。母亲是家庭主妇。妹妹在两年前到 中国上海当产品设计师。

为何加入工人党 小玶加入工人党并非是为了反对人民行动党。其 实,她有一段和人民行动党有关的童年回忆。原 来,小玶的爸爸和已故的外公都曾经是人民行动 党的基层领袖。从小,她就接触到基层工作。但 她又为何决定加入工人党呢?

学历 小学在文园小学就读,后升上克信女中及城景高 中。小玶毕业于新加坡国立大学,主修社会工作 学和社会学。 小玶在高中时,曾经担任过学生理事会主席,也 曾在新加坡国立大学的一个政治学会里被推选为 副组织秘书。 事业 大学毕业后,她加入一个国际青年组织。从中, 她与许多海内外学生、教师、家长以及其他的青 年组织有了进一步的交流和合作机会。在她加入 该组织的第二年,小玶被擢升为部门主管。后 来,她获得同事和上司的肯定,被委任为两个部 门的副董事和董事。 2004年,小玶和一群经验丰富的社区发展工作 者成立了LCD(“生命!社群发展有限公司”Life! Community Development Ltd.)在同年的 12月26日,海啸袭击印度洋,对那个区域造成很 大的破坏。当时,LCD也参与了重建工作。在短 短的几年里,这家社工公司得到许多海内外工作 者的肯定。一些海外的国家领袖也对LCD有所认 识。当地电视台还播放一篇介绍LCD的特写,描 述LCD如何帮助他们重建家园和当地人们对LCD的 感激之情。 2005年,新加坡社工协会委任小玶当社工大使, 到各所学校推广对社工的认识。近来,为了观察

这位社工及教育者透露,“我热爱我的国家,所 以我加入工人党。。。” 小玶坦然地说她不否认行动党在建国历史上的贡 献。但她也对目前领导人的远见和视野有所保 留。2006年大选期间,她义务帮老同学竞选,发 现工人党的人才素质很高。不过,在大众媒体的 宣传方面,少了执政党的优势。 此外,集选区(GRC)的选举架构也大大地削弱 了反对党候选人中选的机率。在投票给行动党候 选人时,国人不一定对行动党候选人有所认识, 尤其是在了解新候选人的政治理念方面,更是缺 乏。她也质疑新的行动党候选人犹如“母鸡保护 小鸡”般的顺利地进入国会,这样的政治系统会 产生什么素质的“精英”呢?精英如果经不起选 举的考验,我们能放心地把国家的前途托付给他 们吗?小玶也透露:“最后,是工人党党员那种 不屈不挠的精神和真诚地关注民情打动了我。” 参政的理念 在参与2004年海啸的工作中,小玶领悟了一个道 理:“人,要做先知先觉的人,不要做后知后觉 的人,更不能做不知不觉的人”

今日的新加坡是我们过去所撒下的种子的结果。 未来的家园,我们想要结下怎样的果实呢?小玶 相信一个国家需要国家的灵魂。庆祝了43年的国 庆,新加坡在经济领域上虽然得到不少的国际好 评,我们还是没有办法感染到2008年国庆标语 中“喜庆新加坡精神”的那股精神。精神是感染 性的,而不是一段国庆献词或满街的宣传布条所 能表现出来的。一个失去灵魂的国家就好比是行 尸走肉,表面的喧哗也只能短暂地吸引外来投资 和旅客,无法触动人民心里头的那股激情和动 力。长此下去,我国会处于被动的位置。一个国 家领导人的视野是否除了经济考量外,是否能掌 握人文的因素是很重要的。因为他所做出的决定 有很大的影响力,其影响会持续一段时期或甚至 影响几代人。

动物对环境变更的知觉是非常敏锐的。在海啸还 没发生时,村民发现那些没人饲养的动物都往山 上跑。当时人们都只是觉得好奇,并没有特别注

在那三种“知觉”的人当中,小玶选择做第一种 人。为了在将来结下更美好的果实留给下一代 人,她踏出第一步,加入工人党,开始播种。

学历

起就为后港人民效劳的国会议员刘程强领导的工 人党。

他在圣加比尔(St Gabriel)小学开始他的学习 生涯,过后又在圣加比尔中学考到“O”水准文 凭。到目前为止,他担任该校的校友会执行委员 已11年。 他在大学先修班念了三个月后决定转攻酒店业, 成功考获由与新加坡酒店与旅游教育中心和新加 坡技术训练学院所颁发的二级证书(NTC2)。甚 至,于1988年获得新加坡旅馆协会的优秀银牌 奖。从1993年起,他就以联系顾问的身份,协助 旅馆协会主办每年的全国酒店职工体育运动会。

党员 林伟富,42岁

事业

家庭背景

从新加坡酒店与旅游教育中心毕业后,他到过几 间酒店的饮食部门任职,1995年擢升为高级业务 经理。

伟富在后港一带成长。他的父亲逝世时他只有10 岁。母亲一手带大三个孩子,包括目前从事私人 投资的哥哥与在银行界工作的姐姐。

目前,伟富在一间著名的酒业公司担任行销主 管,负责与重要的客户联系和销售服务。

由于母亲忙于工作,幼小的伟富就懂得照顾自 己,因此养成了独立的性格。他时常督促自己, 一旦作出了任何决定,后悔无济于事,应该从失 败中汲取教训,并警惕自己不再重犯错误。

意,直到灾难发生后,他们才恍然大悟。如果当 初他们也和那些动物一样觉察到一些不妥,财务 损失就不会那么大了。更重要的是,亲人现在还 会在他们的身旁。

为何加入工人党 在后港一带居住了四十年,他亲自体验了后港居 民在政治立场上所表现的坚定,这促使他决定为 反对党作出贡献。自然而然地就选择了从1991年

2006年,伟富在家人的支持下加入工人党。他目 前是工人党福利委员会的秘书,也是后港选区委 员会的成员。同时,伟富也协助党副主席拉喜詹 进行基层工作,和他一起在东北选区定期登门拜 访居民。 人生哲学 伟富相信走向成功之路不能抄捷径,必须是一步 一脚印。 伟富也深信,要确保国家未来能够持续发展和取 得成功,取决于对政府的有效监督和权力的平 衡。他进一步解释:“工人党可以在这方面扮演 其角色。常言道:“拍手要两个手掌才拍得响” 。不论是执政党或反对党,我们都是新加坡的公 民。” 他说:“在面临危机时,我会不分种族、宗教信 仰或政治观点的分歧,与所有的新加坡人携手共 同保卫我们的国土,家人和朋友。” 伟富是一名罗马天主教教徒,育有四名女儿。


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读者来函 小梅 前一期《铁锤报》封面标题为有关住院的支付能力,我们老百姓可 以接受吗?其实,这无关接受不接受的问题,而是在于承受力。老 百姓承受得起吗!有句话说“有钱钱挡,无钱命挡”,如不能由钱 交付,就让那一条小命去承担吧。 有外劳因手指压伤而上吊,表面上看怕痛不怕死!决定结束生命前 肯定经过心理挣扎,宁死,宁让亲人遭受打击也不求医治,你说奇 怪不奇怪!这是发生在本地的事实!是穷苦人的悲剧,不分国籍人 种的。就连本地人似乎不怕死神,只怕进院求医,为什么怕住院? 难道不明白病从浅中医的道理吗? 穷人的悲歌,唯生命结束而结束,正是“有什么,别有病,没什 么,别没钱”。 没钱所造成的苦难是没完没了的,就靠个人的承受力去支撑下去, 就如发生有中国大陆毒奶粉事件,受害家庭只因贫穷,由孩子的健 康以至性命去承受。 哎,“只道穷人饿煞,穷人自有办法”哩,放心啦。有句话劝我 们,“不必替古人担忧”套现代说法则“不必替穷人担忧”,穷有 穷的打算。天生天养,安啦。 其实,穷人与富人,权势与权贵,都是时代产物,“必备的”,缺 一不可,生为什么身份阶层命中注定,最重要的是穷人知命,他门 并不想改变生活,旁人急什么?甚至于我们可以视为他们自己选择 的,穷人自己决定走这条人生的。 所谓“朱门生阿斗,茅寮出状元”。富贵贫贱,总难称意,命也。

一锤定音 厉剑 一.60万元年薪有人说只是花生米,投资1600万元的损失,有人说 这不是大问题。但对小市民来说这些数字是一辈子也难赚取 的。

不知道说不是大问题的人要损失多少才算是大问题?

二.“偷吃”车资可被罚款或被控。这是指乘客乘搭公共交通工具 时少付或未付车资的行为。然而,巴士公司多扣乘客车资还是 时有所闻,那是不是也叫“偷吃”呢?还是被视为理所当然? 当年由专家设计的这套“先进”的自动收取车资的系统,至今 还是未能杜绝乘客车资被多吃的问题。

不过,这些公共交通公司就是很积极地检讨自己被乘客“偷 吃”的损失,并因此抛出一套制裁乘客制度。哈哈!只许“偷 吃”人,不可被人吃。只因你是小市民,只能搭公车,除了面 对公司公然起价和罚你“偷吃”外,你还得面对暗地可能被自 动车资收费系统“偷吃”的无奈。

企业“偷吃”有理、小民“偷吃”有罪!

三.经济危机来了,工会与有关当局大肆呼吁,要企业尽量别裁 员,裁员为最后之渠道等等。此言一出,率先裁员的却正是与 官方有关的金融机构和航运业等政联公司,堪称为私人企业接 下来的裁员立下榜样。

裁员事件发生后,先是工会一方表示遗憾,怪另一方没事先与 之磋商,另一方则一致以“不得已”回应。别忘了,这个连裁 员也要率先争取获得第一名的银行大企业,不是亏损,而是盈 利下降。这就是他们的“不得已”啊!

对此,工会做了些什么呢???对这个“不得已”表示遗憾而已。

穏定更需要 有效的监督 小星星

前些时候,行动党政府的显要在一些选 区借庆祝国庆活动为执政党造势。行动 党的领导到后港选区活动时,总忘不了 老调重弹,为它在后港自1991年以来屡 战屡败向它的社区组织打打气,更不忘 批评工人党后港区议员与后港市镇会, 妄图藉此争取选票,再配合它控制的媒 体大肆炒作,似有大选山雨欲来之势。 可是在另一方面,行动党政府的一名部 长在面对媒体讲话时,也不得不承认工 人党后港区议员的表现还不错。当然, 行动党政府绝不会对反对党议员控制的 选区政绩说声做得很好,它能公开的说 反对党议员做得不错已属罕见难得了。 在另一个集选区的活动上,行动党政要 也大谈国会里的监督与制衡,并谓选举 制度或将改革,以增加非选区议员的数 目。过去行动党政府也曾向国人说,必 要时它的后座议员也可扮演反对党议员 的角色,也可“监督”政府。还有就是 它的官委议员。这些无非是在诱使选民 把选票投给行动党。在行动党一党独大 的专治下,它要向人民传达的是,国会 里即便没有了反对党议员,政府也可自 我“监督”。这未免太轻视选民对政治 的认识。 行动党政府总是借用社会与政治稳定的 大招牌不时向国人告示,只有社会与政 治的稳定才不会吓跑外来的投资者。在 行动党的眼里,似乎没有反对党的国 会,或者是反对党议员愈少,那才是它 所谓的稳定政治。配合它自行编导的自 我“监督“,就能构成一幅它理想中的 议会民主图画。 环顾世界民主制度较成熟的国家,两党 格局及政党轮替已是普遍存在的政治运 作模式。这种格局已由多数人所认同。 政党也较有伸展的空间,人民也有所选 择。难道这些国家和地区的社会政治都 不稳定吗?外资都被吓跑了吗?或许有 的民主道路刚上轨的地方会有出现所谓 的乱象,但它不失为一个民主进程中的 拨乱反正。 不错,与本区域周边国家地区或是世界 其它国家地区比较,我国的社会与政治 是相对稳定的,然而在这执政党一党独 大的稳定社会,更需要有效的监督与制 衡。因为大家都知道,没有人可以保证 任何一个执政当权者的千秋大业永不变 质。因为人性是最脆弱的,而权力又易 于使人腐化。绝对的权力,更易造成绝 对的腐化。因此有效的监督与制衡也是

绝对必要的。它能不时的让执政者起警 惕作用。无论是由谁来执政,都需要有 相对的监督与制衡,这才是民主政治健 康的发展之道。 至于在我国实行的非选区议员制,毕竟 它不是选民选出的代议士,无论如何相 对于中选的议员,就有它一定的局限。 试想如果国会里完全没有正选的反对党 议员,再多的非选区议员在国会里也已 先被执政党的民选议员所矮化了,还谈 什么监督?行动党政府放话说接下来有 可能调整增加非选区议员数目,大家可 拭目以待究竟它又要搞什么对反对党不 利的游戏。 政府虽然表明理解国人希望执政党也要 受到监督,但又深恐国人把选票投给反 对党。这是它的矛盾,因此衍生出非选 区议员与官委议员制。但是,无论行动 党政府搞什么花样来尝试取代国会里“ 反对党”议员的角色,都不可能起着积 极有效的监督。例如一些执政党议员的 确在国会里的辩论时,也为民请命,但 在政党政治的现实下毕竟有其局限。因 此在国人珍惜我国有稳定社会的同时, 也有必要认识稳定中更需要有效监督与 制衡的重要。这种监督绝不是执政党搞 的自我监督可取代的! 我国的政治现实当今虽然谈不上政党轮 替,但是增加反对党议员在国会里起监 督制衡的作用则是必要的。当前,阻挠 着选民期待较有效的监督制衡,正是政 府引用已二十年的集选区制度。政府若 有诚意让国会里能有效的监督它的执 政,尊重人民的意愿,何不取消它的集 选区制度,让反对党在较公平的竞争平 台下同行动党去面对人民的选择?不过 集选区制度已经成为行动党胜选的护身 符,因此期待政府废除这个对它有利的 制度是不可能的。要使政府对集选区的 垄断局面扭转过来,重要的是取决于选 民自身的决心与支持反对党来改变它, 同时不要迷信于执政党的精英理论,其 实,从过去参选的候选人中,反对党也 有不逊于执政党的团队。 只有增加有责任感的反对党在国会里的 议席,我国人民才有望看到国会里会有 比较有效的监督与制衡。相对上来说, 这种情况的出现在实际上也有利一个政 府的施政,它能促使政府多方考虑民意 和及时纠正它在施政上可能出现的偏 差。要不要有效的监督制衡,要不要使 自己活得更有自尊,选择在于你。


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漫谈人力资源问题 伍新 “由于我们没有天然资源,因此人力资源成为我 国最宝贵的资产,应当善加利用每个国人所扮演 的角色。”这是笔者自小就一直从行动党领袖口 中所听到的口头弹。但在过去几年,我们几乎鲜 少听到类似的论调。或许,行动党的思维已有所 改变。他们或认为只要有钱,外国劳工和人才都 垂手可得,包括“收购”公民,如体育人才但却 不研究为什么有不少新加坡人宁愿放弃公民权。 现在的政府是否认为每一名离开新加坡的国人, 政府都可以从外国如中国和印度引进两名类似或 更好的人才来取而代之?因此本地人才流失的问 题不大,也未受到重视。政府是否依然贯彻“人 力资源是我国最宝贵的资产”呢?

如果学生语文程度不好,不 能解读问题,那他将无法回 答问题。到底数学是在考学 生的语文理解能力还是运算 的能力? 新加坡没有可当巴土司机的人力资源? 到目前为止,两家巴士公司,包括近期在中国录取 了的新巴士司机,总共聘请了超过450名司机,基 薪为每月新币900元并提供住宿。两家巴士公司 表示他们是“基于无奈”,因为他们无法在本地 聘请到司机。大家都心知肚明,以本地生活成本 来说,九百至千余元的薪金对一般家庭而言,实在 是难以维持一家大小的生计。难道淡马锡所拥有 的这两家公司不明其理,还是装着不知道? 难道 把基薪调高到每月约2千元就会使两家巴士公司 血本无归? 我国声称为世界级国家,但给蓝领工人待遇

的标准却不及格。根据“世界平均薪金数据 库”(worldsalaries.org)的网站显示,新加坡巴 士司机所获得的待遇远远不如世界所有的先进国 家,包括韩国在内。我想,这也许因为其它的巴 士公司不需要向他们的“私人股东”交代吧!对 巴士公司来说,照顾股东的利益比什么都重要。 为培养人力资源的补习老师 - 补教育政策的不 足?

以培养未来的精英人力资源为目标,为现今的精 英学生的学习标准而制订的呢?一份调查报告显 示,大多取得特优的精英学生都来自较富裕的 家庭。这份报告也指出由于环境较好,因此他们 都能在较舒适的环境下学习,再加上父母或都是 专业人士,这创造了对他们有利的学习环境。然 而,对一般收入家庭的学生来说,就只好靠补习 老师了。

在过去,只有学习进度较慢的学生才会去找补习 老师,但如今,大多数的学生都聘有私人补习老 师。我认为问题的症结不在学生身上,而是他们 已跟不上经大幅度修改的教材内容。报章就曾报 导一些大学生对于小学的一些数学题目摸不着头 脑。

我们的教育体系照理说应该为达到培养国家所需 的各类人力资源服务,学校的教学应该就已足够 使学生能应付课本的教材,这种除了正规的学校 教育外还需依赖私人补习来应付课业和培养人力 资源的情况是种怪现象。

笔者也发现我的侄子并不是不会解答一些数学 题,而是因为很多问题都不是直接了当的,而是 拐弯抹角地来考验学生的理解能力。如果学生语 文程度不好,不能解读问题,那他将无法回答问 题。到底数学是在考学生的语文理解能力还是运 算的能力?除了数学以外,一些学科如英文和科 学也加深了内容。我觉得这对学生是不公平的, 尤其是低年级学生,他们可能面对超越其年龄所 能应付的课程内容。笔者并不是呼吁教育部降低 教育水平,而是认为教材应该配合学生的心智发 展,使学生能保持学习的乐趣,而不是增加不必 要的压力。

笔者认为政府在经济蓬勃发展时毫无节制地引进 外国劳工和外来人才,甚至超出本地市场的需 要,造成本地工人的薪金被压低并难以找到合适 的工作,这间接导致每年上万的国人移民它乡, 进一步加剧我国人才流失的问题。

外来人力资源的冲击

我国目前再次面对金融诲啸,这又将造成裁员的 浪潮。笔者呼吁行动党痛定思痛,重新检讨本国 人力资源的运用,进行必要的改革,设法把有限 的就业机会由本地人填补,这会缓解和消除人民 疑虑和不安的情诸。除此之外,政府也应该鼓励 在海外的国人回国发展,不论他们是否是专业人 士。

对家长而言,过于深奥的教材不但苦了孩子,也 加重了额外的负担, 因为这意味着家长必 须为他们的孩子聘请 补习老师。 目前的课本教材是否

读者来函 吴义民 我不否认政府在国家发展及社会治安方面是做得 不错,而我国没有天然资源,收取一些税收是可 以接受的。可是,如果政府已经有了盈余还样样 要赚取更多的税收那就太不应该。特别在近十多 年来政府的各种税收都增加,生活费也因而很 高。比如消费税、印花税、医药费、屋价、交通 费和教育费等等都涨得很高。这是正确的吗?尤 其是现在,贫富差距日渐扩大,平民百姓个个都 叫苦连天,政府却一意孤行照涨不误。 每当政府宣布某些东西起价时,总是会给一些理 由,不是成本增加就是要提升服务水平。油价高 涨也是理由之一,即使下调也不过是下调一点 点。不可思议的是在2008年10月1日电费不跌反 升,而且涨幅还高达近22%。可是在12月4日却又 宣布明年1月电费下降达25%。这给人一个错觉是 电费会下调很多,其实只不过下调3%,比起国际 原油的跌幅简直是天壤之别,真是不可理喻!

难道领取世界最高薪金的精英部长们所能做的就 是起价而已吗?究竟他们是在管理国家还是在经 营企业?最可笑的就是每当一起价肯定就会给以 一些援助配套,然后就对人民说你们不可以样样 都要依靠政府的援助金。感觉上我们人民像是个 乞丐,有工作做却还须要讨援助金来过活。我们 人民的尊严在那里? 其实我不只是对生活费高涨不满而已,还对其他 政策不满,比如调高退休年龄、调高公积金可领 取的最低款项、增加外来人才及外国劳工等等。 还有,政联公司垄断市场,政府控制工会和媒 体,增加集选区的人数等等。试问执政者的社会 道德何在?现在的PAP政府已经变质了。 国家的发展及社会治安固然重要,民生问题也同 样的重要,但在这两者之间一定要取得平衡。新 加坡不是PAP的企业!新加坡是属于我们人民的 国家!

税收, 各种收费

援助金

政府 平民百姓


14

多元化政治与 两党制的重要性 李显龙总理在2008年的行动党大会上说:“不相 信两党制在这里行得通。新加坡虽然需要改变, 但改变不会发生在政党之间,而是在行动党内部 如何自我改变,与时并进。只要行动党进行改革 并继续当个清廉的好政府,新加坡人民的生活就 能改善,而国家也会因为有一个强势、廉洁及优 秀的政党而获益。” 他同时也说:“别说是要组成两支政治团队,单 是要凑成一支能治理这个国家的团队,已经是够 艰难了。如果将内阁一分为二,结果必将是出现 两支素质都属于次级的团队,这是新加坡所承受 不起的。作为一个小国,我们必须拥有一支以杰 出人才组成的顶级团队,这才能弥补我国的许多 先天不足,并确保新加坡人能享有一定的生活水 平。领导团队的素质绝对不能妥协。” 我认为,一个国家要确保能长期繁荣与稳定,除 了一支能够治理国家的团队外,也必须拥有另一 支团队来扮演几个重要的角色;比如提供不同的 政治与对政策的观点,审查执政党的运作等以确 保政府的效率和清廉政治的传统能延续下去。 提供不同的观点 我们常听说,没有竞争就没有进步。新加坡从电 讯、公共交通,到电力供应,许多在传统上被垄 断的领域,政府都推动开放市场的竞争模式,所 持的理由就是为了通过市场的竞争,才能提升服 务的效率与素质。然而,何以在政治领域中却不 需要这种竞争呢?何以大选来临时总会有选区不 必选就自动中选呢?此外,以目前国会中反对党 议员所占的百份比,决策者即使在提出政策时不 具有说服力,政策也一样会通过无阻。 就拿消费税率的上调来说,即使大多数人民并不 同意,但政府说了就算。这不但违背了民主的本 质,也让人们质疑消费税上涨是不是就是唯一解 决问题的方案。若国会中的反对党议席占有率不 像现在那么一面倒,可以肯定的是,政府在提出 政策前必定会有更全面的考虑,顾及大部分人民 的意愿。此外,当国会中的另一把声音更强,反 对党拥有更多资源时,什至或许能够提出另一个 可解决问题的替代方案供参考。 最近,党主席林瑞莲在国会上提议设立一个基金 以缓冲油价上涨时对电费的冲击,被贸工部高级 政务部长易华仁的一句“这样一来电力公司的成 本将会更高”就驳回了。如果国会中有更多工人 党的议员,或许就可以通过更强有力的辩论迫使 贸工部深入探讨这类基金的可行性。 审查执政党 总理李显龙以台湾作为例子以辩证两党制的弊 病,他说因为政党的轮替致使政策没有延续性。 可惜的是,他忘了若不是台湾成功地实现了两党 轮替的政治体制,就可能永远没有人会揭发陈水

许俊荣

扁家族的洗钱弊案。因此,政党轮替虽然有其负 面的细节问题,但也有其正面的作用。即使我国 的政治基因看似无法发展两党制,那也不等于就 应该永远以一党专政的模式为唯一可持续发展的 政治体制。 多元政治体制的发展对国家和人民有其深远的意 义。在最基本的层次上,除了在政治上提供一定 的政治竞争,也使人民获得更多信息,增加政府 施政的透明度。就拿制定收取电费的方程式来 说,一向来的透明度就很低。人们每季就只能听 取能源市场管理局的公告发布电费的收费率,但 完全不知道制定电费的细节。经党主席林瑞莲在 国会要求公开电费率的方程式,能管局也就不得 不在十月底将方程式公开。虽然说公开后的方程 式还有因为商业秘密的某些部分不能透露,但整 体上来说,国人更能够明白并可质问方程式的合 理性。 另外一个例子是在2007年辩论公积金改革措施 时,党秘书长刘程强在国会向当时的人力部长黄 永宏提问:新加坡政府投资公司是否有动用来自 公积金存款中的资金进行投资。黄永宏原本的答 案是简单的“没有”,后来却改成“并不是那么 简单”,还作出了冗长的解释。虽然答案的确不 易理解,但人们至少心里有数,对公积金存款的 去向,有了进一步的了解。 确保新加坡的延续 总理李显龙也在行动党大会上说:“只要行动党 进行改革并继续当个清廉的好政府。。。”,其 中的关键词是“只要”。问题是如果若干年后这 个“只要”的因素没有了,那新加坡在没有替代 的选择之余,是不是要随着行动党沉沦?在雷曼 兄弟银行破产之前,又有多少人会预料到这种事 情会发生?有谁能够保证行动党在若干年后不会 因为某些不可预知的因素而堕落?又有谁能保证 新加坡人不会有一天因为太相信行动党能建百年 基业屹立不倒而成为苦主呢? 新加坡是一个国家,无论行动党会不会有一天没 落,身为人民的我们绝对不可冒如雷曼兄弟银行 破产同样的险,也不愿有和投资雷曼兄弟银行债 券苦主一般的命运,所以我们必须确保我国的政 治体制,即使在执政党堕落时,国家的繁荣与进 步仍然能够持续下去。

Source: by Ernie McClellan (flickr.com)

要达到这个目标,就必须未雨绸缪,在现有的执 政团队之外,推选及栽培另外一支随时可以替代 的团队。不过,大选每五年才举行一次,因此, 这须要一段长时间的不断努力。以现在的情况来

看,这样的一支团队目前并不存在,未来是否会 有一支这样的团队出现,则取决于新加坡人的判 断和意愿。 人才的定义与政治取向 行动党认为凑成一支团队很艰难,这或许是因为 行动党对人才的定义太狭窄,也有点天真地认为 人才就一定得投靠行动党。纵观过去几届的大 选,行动党总是利用集选区来确保“有潜质” 的“部长人才”进入内阁,而且总是医生律师高 官总裁专业人士,不言而喻地指明只有行动党认 可的才是人才。 事实上,一个国家的领导人最重要的工作是当机 立断做出最有益国家的决定。做决定需要的是有 清楚了解问题症结的脑筋,包容各种观点的胸 襟,以及爱国爱民的心肠。以这种出发点来找寻 人才,领导人的素质不会有妥协,但也就不一定 只局限于医生律师高官总裁等少数精英的小圈子 之中。 再者,每个人的政治取向都不同。行动党不一定 能纳用一位完全不认可行动党的政治观点的人 才,而这种人才也不一定就愿意投靠行动党。 举个三国时代的例子,诸葛亮善于分析天下的 局势,虽然知道曹操当权,但并不认同曹操的做 法,一直等到刘备���顾茅庐,才愿意挺身而出, 助刘备一臂之力。 栽培人才与吸引人才 连行动党也承认,要委任一个人为部长之前,必 须让他先进入国会,磨练一段日子。相同地,新 加坡要拥有一支可靠的替代团队,也不是一步登 天就能成事的。比如许多人希望看到工人党有自 己的“影子内阁”,能提出替代政策,但并没有 想到这种人才也需要栽培。只有在工人党在国会 内的议席逐渐增加,让更多人才多多磨练,才有 望有朝一日能够形成“影子内阁”,甚至在未来 能形成一股足以挑战与替代执政党的强大力量。 在这股力量逐渐形成之下,同时也使对政治却步 的人才放下顾虑,踏出参政的第一步,如此才能 推动多元化政治体系步向两党制。 谁的责任? 本文阐述了多元化政治体系和两党制对国家的重 要性及其正面价值,但如果要落实,到底是谁的 责任呢?许多人以为,政治是属于政治家或政党 党员的范畴,但却未能意识到,达成两党制的先 决条件取决于每个国人手上的一票。 如果你希望看到我国国会中有更多的辩论和不同 的观点,议员更严格地审查执政党的决定,并且 在将来需要的时刻有一支强有力的替代团队的 话,那在大选时,你就必须尽一份力,启动新加 坡迈向两党制的进程。


15

(文接自第16版)

营化、企业化的同时,有责任通过调控市场 的收费机制,缓解其对低收入家庭和一般收 入的家庭所带来的冲击。 分层计算电费的收费渐进制如果制订得合 理,一般收入的家庭如果节省用电,也可减 轻电费的负担。同时,由于电用量越高,收 费率也越高,最终所需支付的电费也高,这 会刺激消费者节省用电,避免用电量超过某 个收费的层次而得支付更高的收费率,从而 达到鼓励人们节省用电的目标。 小结: 虽然政府在一年一度发布财政预算时会把不 同数目的财政盈余依住屋的类型储入个别家 庭的水电储值户头,协助低收入的家庭应付 水电费的负担,但重要的还是如何减轻每个 月的水电费负担。工人党认为修订分层计算 电费的收费渐进制,通过平衡商业利益和消 费者的利益,以免电供公司在电供私营化后 以自由市场为名获得过高的盈利,长远来 说,可缓和国人所面对支付高电费的生活冲 击。

JBJ走了, 还有民主斗士吗?

日月谈

2008年10月4日下午3时半,在圣安德烈教堂送走了 惹耶勒南(JBJ)的灵柩,我心里骤然起了一阵莫 名的冲动,热泪夺眶而出。真的,好久,好久没这 样落泪了。一个锲而不舍的民主斗士,一个言词犀 利的律师,一个作风强悍的反对党人,一个被逼得 破产还永不言败的老人,走了,还有后来者吗? “生命诚可贵,爱情价亦高,若为自由故,两者皆 可抛!”前匈牙利诗人菲达非的不朽名句在刺激着 我的脑神经。争取民主,就是要争取自由,言论自 由,出版自由,行动自由,宗教自由…等等。 当天JBJ走了,隔天,好几位言论家,包括御用文 人都先后发表了评论和看法。他们几乎都一致认 为JBJ的坚持、锲而不舍的精神是可钦佩的;有些 悲观的甚至认为“后无来者”。据报上一位女教授 说:“就如在国会里谈到马士时,刘程强只是点到 为止,如果换了JBJ,一定会咬住不放。” 这是见仁见智的一件事。笔者认为刘程强已不只点 到为止,而是已搔到痒处,李总理才会追问要不要 黄根成辞职。李总理要的答案是Yes或No。笔者认 为刘程强保持沉默是明智的。在那电光骤闪的一刹 那,好一个刘程强,只是稳打稳扎地回了他一脸不 置可否的沉默。若回答“Yes”,必被追问“Why” ,还得证明要内政部长辞职是合理和负责任的,甚 至可能因而被冠上只为捞取政治资本的投机政客的 帽子。回答“No”,则拿石头砸自己的脚。设身处 地想,难得他能处之泰然。 作为新加坡的反对党,自1963 年到 1981 年 JBJ 在安顺区补选中胜出,似乎都要承认一个事实:做 庄的绝不会给予更大的活动空间,而且还逼着要遵 守所定下的游戏规则,开放芳林公园只是掩人耳目 的一种手段。 因此,工人党到各区去兜售党报,深入基层,了解 民情,未尝不是一个理智的、和平的民主诉求方法 之一。

读者诸君,您可曾看过一群充满生气活力的、身穿 蓝色T恤、黑长裤的队伍吗?他们每星期日早上8时 半到12时左右,风雨不改,在熙来攘往的人群中兜 售《铁锤》党报,这帮“民主斗士”的生力军,在 默默地为民主耕耘,在默默地无私的付出。我们应 该向这群无名英雄敬礼! 行动党政府要学生宣读的信约中,说要建立一个公 正平等的民主社会。但荒谬的事实是,在反对党中 选的选区里,其民众俱乐部和居委会仍然由落选的 行动党候选人或未来的候选人来控制,这就是无视 一人一票的公民权利,特地在反对党选区埋下暗 桩。放诸四海,众民主国家未曾有之,而用来管辖 民众俱乐部和居委会运作的人民协会的经费却由国 家拨款,所花的是纳税人的血汗钱! 这支售卖《铁锤报》的队伍,每逢周日就去传播民 主的种子,他们的坚韧,他们的谦逊,得到一些民 众上前问候表示支持和赞赏。当然也有一些不屑与 工人党为伍者擦身而过,把人当成是透明的。值得 一提的是这支队伍的领队是该党秘书长刘程强和党 主席林瑞莲。他们的那份坚持、毅力、恒心和锲而 不舍的精神,可直比前工人党秘书长 JBJ而不惶多 让。

THE


MICA (P) 190/11/2008

Issue No: 0901

www.wp.sg

$2.00

电费 - 生活的焦虑点 以目前每千瓦小时30.45分的电费和各个有关的 公司的收费率来计算,你所支付的每10元的电费 的分配如下:

政府应该考虑和发电厂共同设立一个独立的基 金,共同分担发电用的燃料价格波动的风险。从 其他设立类似稳定电费机制的国家的经验来看, 虽然对应该如何更有效利用基金来运作有不同的 看法,但这类基金基本上都达到了稳定电供收费 率的目标。我国可研究这类基金的详细运作程序 和其他国家操作此类稳定电费机制的实际经验, 设立符合我国国情的机制。

每10元电费的付费分配表

分层计算电费同时鼓励节省用电

作和能源市场。除了发电厂,其他的都只此一 家,别无分店,但每一家都要赚取利润。这是从 PUB负责电力供应变成能源市场后的情况,也是 政府把电力供应私营化和市场化之后的结果。

刘程强

水和电是现代生活不可或缺的必需品。在乡村时 代,付不起水费可到水井打水,付不起电费买盏 煤油灯就可在夜间照明,请问在现代社会的新加 坡你还能这么做吗?因此,水电收费率的波动对 家庭的开支产生直接的冲击。不久前,因为燃油 的市场价格突然上扬,电费上涨了22%,不少家 庭就因此而面对电费突然增加而焦虑不堪。 如何确保一般的家庭不会因水电费大幅度波动而 捉襟见肘是一个负责任的政府所应思考的问题。 政府的应对,如以往一般向人民解释电供的收费 率和燃油市场挂勾,是“市场”的问题。工人党 认为这不单是“市场”的问题,也应该是政府的 问题和责任。政府应该探讨电源供应公司所订立 的价格,所赚取的回报率是否合理。如何设立有 效的机制以避免“市场”问题造成家庭开支大幅 度上涨而引起不安,如何通过电供收费率架构的 改变使一般的家庭支付较低的电费并同时鼓励人 们节省用电。 电源供应商的利润 目前我国的电源供应通过四间公司。第一是发电 厂,其专职是发电。第二是新能源电网,其专职 是通过输电的网络把电输送到各用户的门口。第 三是新能源服务,其专职是阅读电表、寄发帐单 和收取电费。第 四是能源市场管 理局和能源市场 公司,其主要的 专职是负责和监 控电力系统的运

公司 发电厂 新能源电网 新能源服务 能源市场管理局和能源市场公司 总数:

$ $ $ $ $

$ 8.25 1.62 0.11 0.02 10.00

虽然最大部份用户所支付的电费落入发电厂的口 袋中,但如果其他有关的公司认为投资回报不够 或者其盈利太低无法向股东交待,也必须提高服 务费,这也同样会影响电供的收费率。此外,在 政府把发电厂售卖给私营集团,什至有些是外国 的大财团后,我们怎么确保这些唯利是图的大财 团不会通过电力供应大事榨取以取得高盈利而剥 削用户呢?如果说我国有三几间发电厂,通过自 由市场的竞争就可以互相制衡并使得用户获得更 有效益的服务和更低的电力价格;哪公共交通和 政府医院私营化之后,我们又是否都享受了更好 的服务,更低的收费? 因此,我们应该关注这些和电力供应有关的机构 如何计算电供收费率,尤其是发电厂的盈利率以 及政府如何有效监控这些公司以避免电费成为家 庭沉重的负担。 稳定电供收费率的机制 发电厂依赖燃料推动发电机来发电,我国的发电 厂多数以燃油和天然气发电,其他的能源科技尚 未趋向成熟的阶段,也不符合经济效益,所以, 燃料价格的波动会影响电费是可以理解的。要减 轻燃料价格大幅度波动 造成电费突然上涨,就 必须设立稳定燃料价格 的机制。但是,设立这 种机制少不了钱,如果 单靠各别以谋利为目的 的私营能源公司来进行 稳定燃料价格并期望他 们以此来回报消费者是 不实际的。政府应该积 极介入设立稳定燃料价 格的机制。

目前,家庭用电的收费率一律为每单位30.45 分。这种统一的收费制未考虑到电供是现代家 庭、不论贫富的必需品,只要负担得起,不论用 电量多大,其收费率还是一样,这就不利于鼓励 用电较大的家庭节省用电。另一方面,收入低而 家庭开支捉襟见肘的国人不论如何节省用电,也 得支付和高收入家庭、有能力支付更高的收费 率一样的电费。况且,一个家庭无论如何节省用 电,还是必须电供以维持如电冰箱,电灯的基本 需要。 因此,工人党建议能源市场管理局考虑要电源供 应公司制订分层计算电费的收费制。最低层的基 本收费率可只收取电供的成本,其他层次的收费 率则逐步提高。电供公司可从用电量大的家庭所 缴交的较高的电费率中获得更大的利润以弥补向 用电量少的家庭只收取发电成本的电费率而无盈 利的情况,总的来说,电供公司最终还是有利可 图。 香港电费的收费率就是以分层式来计算的。香港 的电费有6个累进的收费率,类似目前我国水供 的收费方式。例如,首150个单位的电费为最低 层的基本收费,接下来的150个单位,每单位以 最低层的基本收费+2分计算。再接下来的200个 单位,每单位以最低层的基本收费+4分计算。以 此类推,其最高一层、即1001单位以上,每单位 的收费则是最低层的基本收费+12分。香港和新 加坡的电供结构和发电厂的状况并不完全相似, 我国也不一定要根据其收费率,但其以分层的方 式来计算电费却是我们可以借鉴的一个模式。 基本上,分层计算电费的建议主要在修改目前电 供公司的收费率结构,用电量相对较少的较低收 入的家庭可以不必负担如高收入家庭一样高的电 费收费率,从而减轻生活的负担。这或许会使电 供公司无法获得其所要求的高利润的目标,但是 电供公司整体上还是有利润,也不必因此而要求 政府提供津贴。市场经济的特性是私人企业可在 市场的供求原则下追寻最高的盈利目标。不过, 我们应该考量的是电力供应可不是一般的消费, 是所有家庭都必需的生活消费,政府在把电供私 (文接第15版)

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