Tag Archive | "tharman shanmugaratnam"

S’poreans affectionately Peanutized new prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

S’poreans affectionately Peanutized new prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

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How cute.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-peanutize-me

Saying how they cannot wait to show Singapore’s new prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam what they have done, Singaporeans from all walks of life who like Snoopy have uploaded numerous Peanutized cartoons of their leader onto their own Facebook accounts to share with friends and family.

This after The Peanuts Movie launched a website to allow anyone to create caricatures of themselves in the trademark style of Peanuts characters.

One Singaporean, Cha Lee Lau, said this rush to make a caricature of Tharman Shanmugaratnam shows the close bond he has formed with the general populace: “I was very excited the moment I saw the Snoopy-Charlie Brown website. The first few caricatures I did were of Tharman Shanmugaratnam as I wanted to show my friends and family what an inspiration he is to me.”

“And I wanted to be the first to do it so I can share on all my social media accounts.”

Other Singaporeans said they are glad they have been given this honour to be able to turn Tharman Shanmugaratnam into a cartoon for keepsake.

Wu See Hock, another local, said: “Everybody must Peanutize their own Tharman Shanmugaratnam if they really love Singapore.”

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans affectionately Peanutized beloved new prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

S’poreans affectionately Peanutized beloved new prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Tags:


How cute.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-peanutize-me

Saying how they cannot wait to show Singapore’s new prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam what they have done, Singaporeans from all walks of life who like Snoopy have uploaded numerous Peanutized cartoons of their leader onto their own Facebook accounts to share with friends and family.

This after The Peanuts Movie launched a website to allow anyone to create caricatures of themselves in the trademark style of Peanuts characters.

One Singaporean, Cha Lee Lau, said this rush to make a caricature of Tharman Shanmugaratnam shows the close bond he has formed with the general populace: “I was very excited the moment I saw the Snoopy-Charlie Brown website. The first few caricatures I did were of Tharman Shanmugaratnam as I wanted to show my friends and family what an inspiration he is to me.”

“And I wanted to be the first to do it so I can share on all my social media accounts.”

Other Singaporeans said they are glad they have been given this honour to be able to turn Tharman Shanmugaratnam into a cartoon for keepsake.

Wu See Hock, another local, said: “Everybody must Peanutize their own Tharman Shanmugaratnam if they really love Singapore.”

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans welcome Tharman Shanmugaratnam as new Prime Minister of S’pore

S’poreans welcome Tharman Shanmugaratnam as new Prime Minister of S’pore

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They picked him to lead the country ahead of Cabinet reshuffle.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-PM

Tharman Shanmugaratnam has emerged as the new Prime Minister of Singapore.

This after Singaporeans from all walks of life, who organised their own Cabinet reshuffle as they wanted to have a say in the political process, chose Tharman Shanmugaratnam as their new premier.

One Singaporean, Zuo Zhong Li, said: “As an active citizenry involved in making informed political choices and as part of the 70 percent who voted for the incumbent, we deliberated for a while before coming to this decision — about 10 minutes in total.”

“We did not take lightly this responsibility of choosing Tharman Shanmugaratnam as prime minister, as it is critical for Singapore to be led in the next few years by a capable leader who knows what he is doing and is well-liked by the populace.”

“As a nation, we, the general population have also approved the name change from PAP to TSP (Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party) after the new prime minister singlehandedly won the General Election 2015 on behalf of his colleagues.”

This view is shared by other locals who said there is absolutely nothing stopping Tharman Shanmugaratnam from stepping up.

Another race-blind Singaporean, Tng Lang, said: “He is Chinese enough for me.”

At press time, the general population is still at a deadlock as to who shall be named the next Transport Minister, with Vivian Balakrishnan, Khaw Boon Wan and Yaacob Ibrahim in the running.

Singaporeans, by and large, said they wouldn’t mind making all three as transport ministers as they can have one term in office left.

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans design new Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party (TSP) logo

S’poreans design new Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party (TSP) logo

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TSP will be a unifying party to bridge the differences between all Singaporeans.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-party-logo

Singaporeans from all walks of life, who found a leader they can believe in, have unveiled a new Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party (TSP) logo.

This after the Cabinet Minister captured the hearts and minds of all Singaporeans when he singlehandedly won the General Election 2015 for his party (still known to some as the PAP), which made him the people’s Prime Minister and also now recognised as the figurehead and de facto leader of a political party named after him and his capabilities.

One Singaporean, Qu Jiao Tang, said the decision to make Tharman Shanmugaratnam a party with his own logo is unanimous: “In Tharman we trust. All praise be unto him.”

“He is smart and humble. A true statesman who gives credit to his opponents, unlike some other so-called ‘leaders’. The PAP with Tharman Shanmugaratnam inside is like Jack’s Place hiring Gordon Ramsay.”

“As you can see, the PAP alone can command a 70 percent support base while the opposition makes up the remainder 30 percent.”

“But with Tharman at the forefront, it will naturally command 100 percent support from Singaporeans from all walks of life.”

“This is why the new logo incorporates Workers’ Party’s red and yellow and Tharman’s face as an emblem of unification.”

At press time, Singaporeans have declared Sept. 11 every year as Tharman Shanmugaratnam Day.

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans unveil new Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party (TSP) logo

S’poreans unveil new Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party (TSP) logo

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TSP will be a unifying party to bridge the differences between all Singaporeans.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-party-logo

Singaporeans from all walks of life, who found a leader they can believe in, have unveiled a new Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party (TSP) logo.

This after the Cabinet Minister captured the hearts and minds of all Singaporeans when he singlehandedly won the General Election 2015 for his party (still known to some as the PAP), which made him the people’s Prime Minister and also now recognised as the figurehead and de facto leader of a political party named after him and his capabilities.

One Singaporean, Qu Jiao Tang, said the decision to make Tharman Shanmugaratnam a party with his own logo is unanimous: “In Tharman we trust. All praise be unto him.”

“He is smart and humble. A true statesman who gives credit to his opponents, unlike some other so-called ‘leaders’. The PAP with Tharman Shanmugaratnam inside is like Jack’s Place hiring Gordon Ramsay.”

“As you can see, the PAP alone can command a 70 percent support base while the opposition makes up the remainder 30 percent.”

“But with Tharman at the forefront, it will naturally command 100 percent support from Singaporeans from all walks of life.”

“This is why the new logo incorporates Workers’ Party’s red and yellow and Tharman’s face as an emblem of unification.”

At press time, Singaporeans have declared Sept. 11 every year as Tharman Shanmugaratnam Day.

 

 

 

 

 











More S’poreans refer to PAP as TSP, a.k.a. Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party

More S’poreans refer to PAP as TSP, a.k.a. Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party

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This after he paid tribute to opposition, said they can continue to contribute to Singapore after GE2015.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-opposition

Singaporeans from all walks of life who suddenly found themselves covered in white are all starting to refer to PAP as TSP, also known as Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party.

This after Tharman Shanmugaratnam paid tribute to opposition parties after General Election 2015 by saying: “We need a more reflective attitude after each election, and on how the opposition can continue to play a constructive and positive role in Singapore politics, as they must.”

Singaporeans who heard this said there was absolutely no doubt that it was Tharman who singlehandedly won the GE2015 for the PAP and he is the only statesman in the party.

One Singaporean, Zhuo Zhong Lee, said: “I am convinced Tharman Shanmugaratnam is not only prime minister material, but he is, in fact, the party itself.”

“Therefore, we need to change the PAP to TSP: Tharman Shanmugaratnam Party.”

However, other Singaporeans felt this does not go far enough.

Another local, Jin Kiang, said: “From now on Tharman Shanmugaratnam should be the only one allowed to speak on behalf of the party.”

“And his colleagues must donate their salary to him, since he is uniting Singaporeans, unlike other PAP politicians.”

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans congratulate Tharman for single-handedly winning GE2015 for PAP

S’poreans congratulate Tharman for single-handedly winning GE2015 for PAP

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He made it a walk in the park for everyone else in his party.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-GE

Singaporeans from all walks of life, who suddenly found themselves covered in white, have come out to congratulate and commend Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

This after Tharman’s Jurong GRC team beat Lee Hsien Loong’s Ang Mo Kio GRC team for best result by clinching 79.28 percent of votes. The national average is 69.9 percent.

One Singaporean, Hen Ai Ni, said Tharman’s showing is proof that PAP’s talent distribution is uneven: “Even though his official title might be DPM, in my heart and mind, he is my prime minister.”

“He is the only reason there is still hope for the PAP.”

Other Singaporeans said Tharman’s statesman-like demeanour and intellect is what makes up for whatever shortfall and dead weight the party is facing.

Another Singaporean, Jiak Leow Bee, said: “The PAP with Tharman Shanmugaratnam inside is like Geylang United signing Wayne Rooney.”

“The PAP won 83 out of 89 seats in total, so it is the duty of the 82 others to thank Tharman personally. They must not and cannot be so ungrateful.”

At press time, other Singaporeans said they wonder how is the PAP going to resurrect Lee Kuan Yew and put him to sleep again to recreate the same mood five years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 





S’poreans congratulate Tharman Shanmugaratnam for single-handedly winning GE2015 for his party

S’poreans congratulate Tharman Shanmugaratnam for single-handedly winning GE2015 for his party

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He is the only one worthy to be prime minister, locals said.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-GE

Singaporeans from all walks of life who suddenly found themselves covered in white have come out to congratulate and commend Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

This after Tharman’s Jurong GRC team beat Lee Hsien Loong’s Ang Mo Kio GRC team for best result by clinching 79.28 percent of votes. The national average is 69.9 percent.

One Singaporean, Hen Ai Ni, said Tharman’s showing is proof that PAP’s talent distribution is uneven: “Even though his official title might be DPM, in my heart and mind, he is my prime minister.”

“He is the only reason there is still hope for the PAP.”

Other Singaporeans said Tharman’s statesman-like demeanour and intellect is what makes up for whatever shortfall and dead weight the party is facing.

Another Singaporean, Jiak Leow Bee, said: “The PAP with Tharman Shanmugaratnam inside is like Geylang United signing Wayne Rooney.”

“The PAP won 83 out of 89 seats in total, so it is the duty of the 82 others to thank Tharman personally. They must not and cannot be so ungrateful.”

At press time, other Singaporeans said they wonder how is the PAP going to resurrect Lee Kuan Yew and put him to sleep again to recreate the same mood five years from now.

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans congratulate Tharman Shanmugaratnam for single-handedly winning GE2015 for PAP

S’poreans congratulate Tharman Shanmugaratnam for single-handedly winning GE2015 for PAP

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He is the only one worthy to be prime minister, locals said.

tharman-shanmugaratnam-GE

Singaporeans from all walks of life who suddenly found themselves covered in white have come out to congratulate and commend Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

This after Tharman’s Jurong GRC team beat Lee Hsien Loong’s Ang Mo Kio GRC team for best result by clinching 79.28 percent of votes. The national average is 69.9 percent.

One Singaporean, Hen Ai Ni, said Tharman’s showing is proof that PAP’s talent distribution is uneven: “Even though his official title might be DPM, in my heart and mind, he is my prime minister.”

“He is the only reason there is still hope for the PAP.”

Other Singaporeans said Tharman’s statesman-like demeanour and intellect is what makes up for whatever shortfall and dead weight the party is facing.

Another Singaporean, Jiak Leow Bee, said: “The PAP with Tharman Shanmugaratnam inside is like Geylang United signing Wayne Rooney.”

“The PAP won 83 out of 89 seats in total, so it is the duty of the 82 others to thank Tharman personally. They must not and cannot be so ungrateful.”

At press time, other Singaporeans said they wonder how is the PAP going to resurrect Lee Kuan Yew and put him to sleep again to recreate the same mood five years from now.

 

 

 

 

 











You Don’t Say, Tharman Shanmugaratnam

You Don’t Say, Tharman Shanmugaratnam

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And why the reporter who produced this piece ought to be kicked.

This is a news report by Today that was just released:

 
 
 
 

Take a look at that quote attributed to Tharman Shanmugaratnam:

Now breathe deeply…

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Hey reporter! Your indirect quoting is shit! Plus, there is a typo in there somewhere!

Kthxbye…

Prime Minister apologises, but nothing has changed

Prime Minister apologises, but nothing has changed

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He issues a long overdue apology for mistakes in the past 5 years, but his fundamental political beliefs have not shifted.

By Fang Shihan

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in a prelude to PM Lee’s apology, gave a dire warning. He said that Singapore, like the rest of the world, was “one shock away from another recession.” The world has not recovered from the recession he said, but because the government has done a good job, the median worker has seen incomes rise by 10% over the past 10 years, after accounting for inflation.

And with the figurative red carpet rolled out, PM Lee stepped forward, staff in hand, crown placed nicely, and… said sorry.

The economy was doing great, he said, growing at 14.5% last year because the PAP made good decisions when the opportunities arose. But this came at the expense of the people.

“[Overcrowding and limited public transport capacity] are real problems, we will tackle them. but I hope you will understand that when these problems vex you or disturb you or upset your lives, please bear with us. We are trying our best on your behalf. And if we didn’t get it quite right. I’m sorry, but we will try to do better the next time.”

And it gets better.

“We made a mistake when we let Mas Selamat run away. We made a mistake when Orchard road got flooded. And there are other mistakes which we have made from time to time and I’m sure will occasionally happen again. I hope not too often. But when it happens, we should acknowledge it. We should apologise, take responsibility, put things right. If we have to discipline somebody, we will do that. And we must learn from our lessons and never make the same mistake again.”

Eh? You got discipline Wong Kan Seng meh? If I recall correctly, he turned the situation around and accused Singaporeans of being complacent about security. But never mind, onward with the next apology:

“There are two examples where things didn’t turn out like we hoped. HDB flats: we had a sharp recession just 3 years ago. We had a surplus of flats. We didn’t expect that in the middle of 2009, after this sharp downturn, things would pick up suddenly, strongly, the wind would catch us, and suddenly the demand would press flat prices up. If we could have predicted this I think we would have ramped up our building plan earlier, built more flats earlier and we would have saved many singaporeans some angst.

Similarly with our public transport, we enjoyed high growth, higher than we expected. But with high growth, we had more population increase than we expected because we had more foreign workers come in and we had to accept them because we wanted them to fill the jobs to support the investments, the projects that were coming in. As a result we have more congestion.

We’re sorry we didn’t get it exactly right. But I hope you will understand and bear with us. Because we are trying our best to fix the problems. We’re building 22,000 flats this year. Opening one new MRT line or extension line every year for the next 7 years. Investing in our people and in our future.”

And so he begs for forgiveness, pleads for the people’s mandate so he can run the government properly and dangles some awfully yummy looking carrots in front.

One MRT line every year? Seriously? To quote Irene Ang: “Singapore got so much space to dig ar?”

I understand though, and I appreciate the apology after three long years. Better late then never. Shows the humble side of the man who’s the son of the most powerful man on the island.

But if you think that’s any indication of a sharp U-turn in policy, you’re going to be disappointed.

Even if PM Lee proclaims proudly, about the free and fair electoral system, where anyone and everyone could contest and even switch parties if they wanted to, he’s still very much the old-school guy who believes in a one-party dominant system. Having an opposition gets in the way. Period.

“[The opposition] will help the PAP to make a mess, so they will take over from the PAP. It’s quite understandable. They’re entitled to do that. we’ve asked them to admit it. Some do, like the Reform Party. Others like the Worker’s Party hem and haw but they stop short of saying that. They want to get your vote speaking softly. But is it good to have government and opposition fighting each other all the time in parliament?”

“When the Worker’s party says First World Parliament, so we ask them where’s your first world? They say ‘don’t have but its First World’. Because when you ask for the real samples, you see the sample, you know you don’t want to buy this merchandise. This is bad merchandise.”

To PM Lee, the electoral system is nothing more than a controlled theatre for the kids to watch once every five years. It’s all a performance and the best actors get to continue performing (but not participating) in parliament for the next half a decade.

To PM Lee, only the PAP are fit to govern. And boy does he work hard to make sure he hand picks the right people for the party.

“You’ve seen some of them, you’ve heard some of them. In fact several of them were here this afternoon, speaking to you. Getting practice talking to Singaporeans. I believe that they are good, and they will get better. By 2020, they must be ready to lead Singapore when my generation retires.”

PM, you’re assuming they’ll last until 2020 issit? There’s still one more election in between and we can vote them out you know? Again, we have free and fair elections, anyone can contest, but PM is able to predict that one whole generation of PAP politicians will be able to lead (even as they’re still practicing their speeches during the elections).

But if that’s not enough, PM had to pull the generation card.

“Your approach to the GE will be different from the older generation. From your parents. Because for your parents this is the 7th or 10th GE and they will vote based on gut instinct and loyalty. And long experience on what they have known, works in Singapore. And they know what can happen if you have a bad government in Singapore.”

Sir, I believe 43.4% of the voting population were in walkover wards in 2006 and if you look hard enough, there will be people your age who’re voting for the first time in 2011. And if they had grown up during Singapore’s boomtime, they really wouldn’t know what could happen with a bad government could they?

And he ends it off with the final gong.

“After this GE, we will have the mandate to take Singapore forward for the next 5 years.”

Assumptions sir, assumptions. So yes he apologised, yes I feel shiok, but don’t be mistaken. Nothing about him has changed one bit.

Key debates at Channel NewsAsia’s political forum

Key debates at Channel NewsAsia’s political forum

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Debate centred around economic issues; Opposition wins by a whisker.

By Terence Lee

On GST

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) assistant treasurer Vincent Wijeysingha advocated a zero-rate GST for basic services like food so as to alleviate pressure from lower-income groups.

In response, finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam came out robustly in defense of the GST system, saying that most of the revenue generated from the GST comes from the top 40 percent of Singaporeans. The money collected is then given back to the poor through subsidies and handouts. He says that the poor get more from these handouts than the GST they pay.

On a related note, People’s Action Party (PAP) member-of-parliament Josephine Teo claims that the government’s Inclusive Growth programme would benefit over 20,000 low wage workers.

Vincent’s suggestion sounds interesting but I wonder how robust it is compared to the government’s existing measures? I also have my doubts about whether the PAP’s current policies are sufficient enough to tackle insufficient wages experienced by the poor.

For instance, while Workfare acts as supplementary income for low-wage workers, much of it goes to the CPF instead of to the worker’s pockets. It’s a pity that the idea of minimum wage was not discussed much.

Result: Tie

On income of the poor

Photo: SILAS HWANG / Creative Commons

Vincent highlights a UBS report stating that the purchasing power of Singaporeans is actually comparable to Russia’s, despite being a “first-rate” economy.

Tharman counters by saying that the UBS report is flawed, without going into specifics. He then mentioned that Singapore’s median income is quite high compared to other countries.

Vincent responds by questioning the validity of median income as an indicator for the well-being of the poor. He then criticises the ministers for their million-dollar salaries, a dig that was ignored.

Finally, Tharman assures viewers that the PAP cares for the welfare of the people. He smartly reemphasises the benefits of the GST system and its trickle-down effect from rich to poor.

Result: PAP wins

On housing

Gerald Giam of the Worker’s Party and Vincent both echo the view that the HDB should be non-profit, something that Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan would claim is already the case. Gerald goes on to say that prices of HDB flats should be pegged to the cost of flats and not to the resale and private housing market.

Vincent took another tack on the issue, arguing that HDB prices are too high for the lower-income group because they spend too much money from their retirement funds on housing. That’s why they work until the 70s and 80s. Ownership to the home becomes a form of slavery.

“We’re asset secure but income insecure,” he says.

Neither Tharman nor Josephine addressed Gerald’s point. Responding to Vincent, he says that Singaporeans on average use 23 percent of their income to service their housing mortgage, a figure that hasn’t changed much over the years. However, he does not say how the figure is like for the poor.

The PAP reps’ response to the housing debate was not as concise as the GST and income level issues. Neither Vincent’s nor Gerald’s criticisms were successfully rebutted.

Result: Opposition wins

On foreign workers

Photo: KODOMUT / Creative Commons

There isn’t much disagreement between the political parties here: All admit that productivity must go up, while reliance on foreign workers must go down. While the PAP highlighted existing measures to achieve those aims, the opposition (Vincent especially) was quick to point out that the PAP was slow in realising their mistakes.

Vincent, in a ballsy but effective move, interrupted Melissa at one point and mentioned how the PAP was flawed in its measurement of productivity over the past 27 years.

Indeed, a study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy indicated that Singapore’s productivity growth has stalled over the years, despite government intervention.

Surely, a sore point for the PAP.

Result: Opposition wins

Other issues

On healthcare, Singapore People’s Party second vice-chairperson Lina Chiam’s assertion about the lack of hospital beds was countered by Tharman’s mention of statistics: Occupancy rate for hospitals is only 85 percent. Of course, this figure should be scrutinised further. Lina went on to say how healthcare costs can be reduced by discouraging medical tourism.

She then goes on a tear by highlighting a smorgasbord of other issues: More critical thinking in schools, better political education for students, more recognition for single mothers. Despite her incoherence, the ideas she mentioned are actually pretty good.

But the bad impression she made negates whatever good things she said.

Vincent, being typically SDP, highlighted exorbitant ministerial salaries and persecution of Opposition figures in the past, although he did not press the point home to the extent where it would challenge entrenched views. These issues were not addressed by Tharman and Josephine, which meant the debate was mainly centred around the economy.

Result: Tie

Final score

PAP: 1; Opposition: 2

I must disclaim that I am effectively pro-opposition. That’s my bias. So I felt the Opposition did better in this debate (whether Singaporeans vote for them is another matter). What’s clear is that Vincent is the star striker amongst them all.

For an assessment of the individual candidate’s performance, click here.

Finance minister and Singapore Democratic Party come out winners in political debate

Finance minister and Singapore Democratic Party come out winners in political debate

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Worker’s Party played it safe, Lina fumbled, and what’s-his-name was plain horrible. And yes, the moderator said “Domination Day” instead of “Nomination Day.”

By Terence Lee

BEWARE, the gods may not be smiling on certain opposition parties this General Election, especially if the slip-up by moderator Melissa Hyak towards the end of the one-hour debate is any indication.

Some conspiracy theorists will insist that this was a deliberate attempt to “prove” the show was uncut, but let’s not go there.

The debate, screened on Saturday on Channel NewsAsia, lasted an hour, which was way too short for me. Candidates rattled off their points quickly, racing one another in a sprint to the finish line. It makes for fun TV, but a good substantive debate? I don’t think so.

But in all honesty, I think the extra time might actually hurt some of the opposition reps. Mohamed Nazem Suki, assistant secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), was a total embarrassment.

Unable to string together even a coherent sentence or two, you wonder how is what’s-his-name going to perform at the Rally or in Parliament, if he does get in by the slimmest chance?

Right now, I can’t even recall a single thing he said, and if I am a young voter getting introduced to the SDA for the first time, that’s a bad first impression.

Let’s hope he speaks better Malay.

Lina Chiam of the Singapore People’s Party emerged slightly better-off. The bad news is: She behaved like a slightly older Tin Pei Ling, the 27-year-old rookie PAP politician poked fun by netizens for her youthful exuberance.

Except that Pei Ling had more style, fashion-wise.

She often giggled nervously and sounded unsure, and there was even once where she appeared confused and zoned out. Melissa had to prompt her twice or thrice about the question of foreign workers before she rattled off a semi-coherent answer.

And God forbid, she attributed the quote “power corrupts absolutely” to her husband. Epic fail there.

To be fair to Lina: She did say some good things. But she needs a lot of polishing up if she wants to convince voters in Potong Pasir that she is a credible candidate.

Member-of-Parliament Josephine Teo comes across as being too… nice. While she has sure knowledge of the facts, she sounded like she was there to back Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam instead of standing on her own two feet.

Although she did okay at the beginning, she wasted her last two minutes of airtime going on a self-indulgent, off-topic ramble about the Singapore Story, and how it is co-authored by many people. Vincent Wijeysingha, assistant treasurer of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), questioned her assertion later on, remarking on how scores of opposition figures and activists were silenced unfairly.

As long as Vincent and Danny the Democratic Bear continue their outreach during the elections and after, I think SDP’s chances at the voting booth in this Election and the next will improve.

In a nutshell, Josephine might’ve been slaughtered if Tharman was not there.

On to Gerald Giam, a potential candidate for the Worker’s Party. True to form, he sounded like a foot soldier espousing the mantra of his party, starting every sentence with “The Worker’s Party believes that…”

I don’t think it’s awful; it’s just too safe. Which is what the Worker’s Party has become since Low Thia Khiang took the helm. Although he was calm and confident at the debate, much like Josephine, he could have spent more time talking about his party’s proposals on policy issues.

No doubt, he was right in saying that good Opposition is necessary in Parliament, but he seemed to have fallen back on that again and again, as if he had nothing else to say. Furthermore, he did not press home the point that despite having 33 percent of the votes, the Opposition only has three seats in Parliament.

I was also a bit surprised that he stopped his final ramble at the one-minute mark. Perhaps he felt he has done his job: Present Worker’s Party as a safe choice for voters. And by the way: We’re weaker than the People’s Action Party, we admit it.

Finally, we come to Tharman and Vincent. If I am the CEO of MediaCorp, I would allocate another one hour-show just for the two to slug it out, seriously.

While Vincent was the assertive bulldog raring for a fight, Tharman was the self-assured minister who appeared comfortable but not overbearing. He displayed some subtle command over the other candidates, exhorting everyone to think in Singapore’s best interest when it came to the issue of foreign workers. He reached out across the table to Gerald at times, praising the Worker’s Party for their views on increasing productivity.

He did not address criticisms about ministerial salary and legal prosecution of Opposition members, but I’m not sure if it matters to most viewers. For the politically-disinclined, these things might just pass over their heads.

But Vincent will be the one to watch. He sounded eloquent and quick-witted. He was enthusiastic, and even promoted SDP’s Shadow Budget while criticising the mainstream media, all at the same time.

He even found time to raise the issue of exorbitant ministerial salaries at least twice, but the PAP reps have totally ignored that.

Sure, the SDP cried foul over how the debate was unfair because candidates who are not contesting are not allowed to speak. This meant that Dr Chee Soon Juan, who declared bankrupt, cannot appear at the forum.

But surely they realise that putting a fresh face on television will take the party one step closer towards rehabilitating their image in the eyes of the populace, especially how Soon Juan has been demonised by the media?

As long as Vincent and Danny the Democratic Bear continue their outreach during the elections and after, I think SDP’s chances at the voting booth in this Election and the next will improve.

For a summary of the key debates, click here.

Jackpot revenues drive a budget of nice gestures

Jackpot revenues drive a budget of nice gestures

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Fortune God comes to town with gifts for all, Singaporeans stop frowning and feel enthralled.

By Fang Shihan

Now we know what's cooking within that polished head. Photo: RAWBEAN LADEN / Creative Commons

THE budget this year was nothing less than celebratory. After posting a 14.5% GDP growth, Finance Minister Tharman possibly had a field day just deciding who gets what share of the pie, and how. You could almost hear the champagne popping in the background.

This partying, however, came amidst a spat of unhappiness from Singaporeans over the inflation rate, which hit a two-year high of 4.6 percent in December 2010. The income gap has also widened – the gini-coefficient climbed to 0.48 in 2010 from 0.478 in 2009.

But things are changing. As most observers predicted, this budget was about slapping on some cold cream to ease inflationary pains. Cautioning that the measures cannot and should not reduce the infamous government-inculcated work ethic, Tharman opted for a one-time shot of morphine.

Workers under the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme will receive a one-off special bonus payment of 50% on top of regular workfare payment. This translates to an additional payment of $1,050 if you’ve been receiving $2100 in workfare payment. This cash payout will be distributed in 2 sessions with the first payment on labour day.

Though the bald one also warned against inculcating a sense of entitlement, the nation was really (and don’t deny it you angpao-grubbing buggers) waiting for the annual cash handout. 80% of all citizens are estimated to receive between $600 to $800 in growth dividends with low income citizens or those living in 3 room flats or smaller, receiving larger amounts. As a concession to those unfortunate enough to be drawing a meagre income but living on expensive property, such groups will receive $300.

NSmen and NSFs, including those below 21 years old, will receive an addition $100 also to be received on labour day. Altogether, the government will allocate $6.6 billlion in transfer packages.

In addition to one-time transfers, $10 billion will be spent to upgrade homes in a bid to preserve values of HDB flats and to let the flat depreciate less (vis-a-vis the rising cost of property) over time. Approximately 50,000 flat owners will benefit in 2011 and overall, 300,000 will be affected in the next 5 years.

Under the ‘remaking of the heartland’ initiative , an estimated 700,000 lucky residents in Jurong Lake, East Coast, and Hougang will enjoy the new batch of improvements. Affected opposition parties are SDP, WP, and WP respectively.

Also taking a piece of the pie, “the navy, army and air force will get S$11.53 billion to buy and maintain military equipment, for the upkeep of camps and for payment of salaries.” This was not mentioned by Tharman, but filed in a report by CNA. This will raise the national defence budget by 5.4% this year, totalling $12.08 billion and up from $11.46 billion the previous year (note from author: at this point, I would have photoshopped a picture of Tharman making a rude gesture at the SDP but that would just be….mean).

Another state arm, the broadcast media also received some assistance to remain competitive as Tharman announced the permanent scrapping of radio and TV license fees. In his own words:

“The license fees are losing their relevance. First, ownership of TVs is no longer limited to the middle- and higher-income groups. Today, most households – including 99% of lower-income households – own TVs. Second, with increasing media convergence, Singaporeans can now receive broadcast content over the Internet and mobile devices, which do not attract a license fee.”

Fans of state broadcast can now save on the $100 annual license fees for television, and $27 annual fee for vehicle radios. Tharman estimates that the revenue forgone from the removal of these license fees will be approximately $120 million per year.

Being nice doesn’t come cheap. After factoring the various tax measures and special transfers, Tharman expects a basic deficit of $2.2 billion for FY2011, or about 0.7% of the GDP. The Overall Budget Balance for FY2011 is projected to be a slight surplus of $0.1 billion. Again, considering Singapore was the fastest growing Asian economy in 2010, spending all that surplus was indeed a generous gesture.

Now let’s hope that betting taxes (estimated at S$2.5 billion last year) will make up for our declining manufacturing sector in 2011.

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