Thursday, 27 February 2014

Can Tharman’s Social Budget Save the PAP?

All things after 2011 that the PAP is engaging is for the next General Election, whether it is a social policy or budget. The PAP aims to maintain a 60% target share of votes in the next general election. To the PAP, a 60% share of votes is as comfortable as 75% or even 80% share of votes of the past.  They continue their no transparency no open disclosures of reserve, the CPF. They can also continue to ‘fix’ their political opponents as they wish like the past.  

This is why they believe in big coefficient in obtaining votes. Will it work?  For this, we may have to know the debate between big coefficient and the new reality (see below video).

Big coefficient means the PAP believes there is a strong (or big) causal relationship in obtaining or maintaining votes when they introduce policies benefitting some groups of voters, their votes can be increased or retained if voters are happy with these policies.  

It is also an evidence-based decision making process.  The PAP has all the data in their hand and they are good at mathematics. The PM wants to see the results and so the different ministries can easily give the projections of the votes retained or increased.

In a simple linear equation, the Big Coefficient by Citizens for the PAP looks like the followings:

Big coefficient of the PAP

Vote PAP =
Basic votes +

a%(senior citizens) +

b%(new citizens) +

c%(middle age citizens) +

d%(young voters) +

errors correction

The PAP has its support point. It can range from 35% to 45%, depending on the opponents.  However, it needs 50.1% to win but aiming a win/loss target of 50% is too dangerous and risky. Freak election can happen.  So, a safe margin is 60%.  Anything lower than 60% means there is no safety margin and will lead to a tipping effect: a big drop in votes as in the case of Punggol East by-election.

The 2014 social budget has been described as generous, social investment and its theme is “Opportunities for the Future, Assurance for Our Seniors”.  The first item in the big coefficient is senior citizens or pioneer generations.  By taking care of senior citizens, the PAP hopes to retain or even increase the votes in this group of voters. The big coefficient in new citizens is understandable.  These 2 groups add together may have 1 million voters, so if you consider total voters of 2.3 million, it is more than 40% of the total.

The budget also introduces affordable healthcare and promote social mobility through more education opportunities and assistances.  Middle age citizens with children or parents will be benefitted, especially those in the lower and middle income group.   The PAP wants to maintain the votes in this group and does not want it to drop further. This too is a big coefficient variable. They also have the most number of voters (considering the age group from 35 to 55).  

The only non-big coefficient item is young citizens.  If a young voter is a drinker plus smoker, he will be very unhappy with the budget. So do lower income smokers and drinkers. This is also the social media group. Hence, it may even be a negative coefficient.

The linear equation can also be income base.  It can be divided into very low, low, middle and high income groups. The budget is focusing on senior citizens, health care and education. It will benefit the very low, low and middle income citizens – the big coefficient in the eyes of the PAP.    

Big coefficient is always the mind of the PAP. Some big coefficient equations work very well in the past but are now not effective anymore.  For example, the GRC system, the fear of losing one or two ministers has helped to retain the votes for the PAP. The town management and the rubbish collection have also frightened many voters. Another one can be the bad mouth tactics and the control of mainstream media.  All these past big coefficients worked very well in the past but face diminishing return or not helpful anymore.   

The principle of the PAP is based on “no free lunch”. They are now moving to the left and claim to be socialists. Why are they doing this? Their model thinking tells them a social budget will lead to big coefficient effect and so they can maintain the voting share at 60%.

But is this a new reality? Is “Achieving quality growth and an inclusive society go hand in hand” as claimed in the budget a new reality?

New reality

It may not be fair to say that the PAP fails to recognise the new reality.  They have introduced SG Conversation. They even try to engage in social media. They try to build more HDB flats and cool down the property market. It looks like they can’t find the big coefficient in the Conversation and in the Internet. Hence, they have to go back to the tradition way – media control, social mobility and basic healthcare, education, targeted wages, and caring the olds.

So what really is the new reality? Some may not even emerge.  Social media can be one.  The population issue, the employment issue, the HDB issue even the frequent breakdown of MRT can also be a new reality. The strike, the riot and the FT (foreign talents) issue are also possible new realities.

People’s expectation is changing and external environment can also contribute to the new reality.  Thailand, Ukraine, Malaysia and many other events outside Singapore are giving confusing realities.  But if a conflict can be solved by voting in a peaceful way, why don’t Singaporeans give it a try?  These external realities may help or hurt the PAP.  The recent PAP’s strong reaction on the naming of Indonesia navy ship shows they also want to try the new reality.  The new low ranking of press freedom in Singapore is another proven reality of media control here.

Some new realities may even come from the social budget.  For example the health care for pioneer generations, it looks like they will pay nothing. However, MediSheild is a co-finance insurance scheme.  We need to know more details and how it works.  Perhaps, all the realities of the social budget in 2014 and 2015 will only be revealed after the next General Election.

Technical or behavior  

Big coefficient vs. new reality can also be seen as technical analysis vs. behavior-led outcome. In economics or finance, there is now more awareness of the role of behavior (e.g. psychology) in predicting economic performance or stock market movements.

A change or sudden change of behavior is just like the new reality. We are not able to predict and forecast the new reality or behavior accurately in advance.  For the PAP, the best hope is still big coefficient and technical analysis. This model has past evidence to support and can be calculated within the box.

For the oppositions, it is new reality and behavior that will give them a breakthrough.  The lower the basic supporting interception, the more new realities and behavior changes are needed.

So, what do you think? Can the election budget save the PAP? Is 60% still a reality? If not, what will be the new reality?  

Thursday, 20 February 2014

交接不清真严重 推理结果更可怕

总审计署已经被委任审计阿裕尼后港市镇会的账目,为何只是单单审计2012/2013, 而不是之前行动党管理时的账目呢?难道,如果审计以前的账目,就可能出现王鼎昌做总统时,要求看国家储备那样,需要52个人年来调查吗?

行动党账目交接不清真的是一件很严重的事。就像会计师学会会长所说的一样,审计报告出现这么多disclaimers, 真的是严重。会长很可能是一个短视的人,他只看到disclaimers,而没有看到背后的原因。如果一笔账,只看眼前的问题,而不追究背后原因,这间公司一定有问题。或许,会长和他的Big ThreeBig Four就是这样做审计工作。




Closing balances and Opening balances


Closing balances 上期余额
Opening balances 本期余额

如果你在月底收到银行的余额账目,看到上期和本期不一样,你就会向银行询问,银行就有责任向你解释。如果你是小股东,发现两个余额不一样,你也一样可以提问。不然,你可以受到欺骗报警。在独立审计师给阿裕尼后港市镇会的报告中,列在第一位的就是Opening balances不对路#1。因此,工人党在接手时,就要求提供Opening balances的资料,以便可以继续在“Closing balances 上期余额 = Opening balances 本期余额”的情形下,继续做账。

Accounting and Auditing

如果“Closing balances 上期余额不等于Opening balances 本期余额”怎么办,就只能假设这个数目是对,继续做账下去。在报纸上,我们有时可以看到,一些收购项目不成功,就是因为这两个余额不一样,大家对余额的看法不一样。买的一方害怕吃亏,余额如果不是真的实际的余额,买的人就要吃大亏了。



因此,“Closing balances 上期余额 = Opening balances 本期余额”的问题,是非常严重的。搞不好是要有官非的。


Back dating and adjustments

公司本身的会计把账交给审计前,自己一般也会先检查一下,什么地方漏了什么,什么地方多报了,就会自我调整。审计师在审计的过程中,也会给予意见,建议,如何做调整,哪些地方需要修改,哪些地方需要补票,哪些地方不要报这么多,或者这么少。总之,整盘账在交给当局前,会有Back dating 事后孔明修改的机会。

Data errors skewed trade figures#2
经过调整,修改后,这么一来,这盘账,就会合符法律法令的规定,你只要上网到阿裕尼后港市镇会的常年报告上,就可以看到,Established under the Town Council Act. 因此,公司有公司法,市镇会有市镇会的法令。做账审计就是要根据这些法令来进行。如果,没有根据法令走,审计师为了自己的专业,为了维护法令的精神,就要提出Disclaimers 表示本身对账目不对等,不合理的地方有意见。这就是为何阿裕尼后港市镇会出现13Disclaimers#1 的原因了。


One 行动党没有预料败选,来不及做Back dating


因此,就出现了不对等的 Closing balances 上期余额 = Opening balances 本期余额”。如果,像一般公司或者社团,可以有三个月,六个月,甚至还可以要求延长呈报,这个事后孔明的情形就容易办的多了。


Two 市镇账目交接不清,国家机构,储备不是更不清楚吗?



国家的储备,淡马锡,政府投资公司,公积金局等,现在当然不可能出现不对等的“Closing balances 上期余额 = Opening balances 本期余额”的问题,因为这些会计和审计的工作,都是行动党政府一手包了,别人插不上手。即使有,也可以很容易的事后孔明一番。

Three 依靠人民力量 看清账目


下一次大选,会不会出现上期和下期余额不对等的现象呢?当然很有可能, 尤其是哪些一直认为会连选连任的集选区,信心越高就没有想到事后孔明的准备。而选民的力量,已经能够感觉到多失去几个集选区的可能性。但是,这还是不够。无法让人民看到国家储备,公积金的真相。或许,真相一打开,全国人民都被这恐怖一幕,吓晕了。








Friday, 14 February 2014

Paper Generals Fail to Recognize the Role of Military in Indonesia

Our million-dollar and paper general ministers need to know more about the history and role of military in Indonesia. Ministers speaking on the naming issue of an Indonesian navy ship have exposed themselves their ignorance in history and military as a key institution in some countries.

In our ASEAN region, the role of military in Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and of course, Indonesia and the Philippines is or was an important pillar in maintaining social orders and stability (no matter we like it or not, whether they are right or wrong).

In the Muslin world, we also see the traditional role of military in nation-state building of Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq and even the troubled Syria.

The role of military is a unique feature of institution in some countries, including Indonesia. This is especially true when the civil institutions are weak, fail to deliver and build up the nation. The military in this case is the only institution due to its discipline can hold the country together.  Just a little hint, more than 100 Indonesian ‘disciplined’ military personnel as a bloc are absent from the Singapore Airshow.  

This is why we always hear that there may be a military coup in Thailand due to the recent political crisis. The military in Turkey thinks they have a duty to remind the civilian administration their role in nation building. So do the military in Pakistan and Egypt.

The military as an institution has to keep their promises and position themselves as a protector of the nation. Even though they may make mistakes in the past, for example military coups, they still maintain their position and continue their role that they think is right. These promises include honouring the dead soldiers as shown in the case of Japan (further discussion later) have become a tradition.  

So when Sukarno as a military leader ordered the two marines to plant the bombs at MacDonald House, even his opponent Suharto cannot deny the contributions of the two marines to the Indonesian military.  So, despite differences, from Sukarno to Suharto, the two camps in the Indonesian military still have to agree with the sacrifice of the two marines. Leadership changed hands but the military continues as one institution and honour its promise.

So when the marines become heroes, the role of military as one voice has to recognise this fact.  And they had demanded Singapore to do some things:
[“Singapore had considered this difficult chapter in the bilateral relationship closed in May 1973 when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines,”] #1

It is not clear whether scattered flowers are a way to recognise the two marines as heroes or just a good will gesture.   Each side may have different interpretations and Indonesian military would also have its own reading.  This perhaps has become the tradition interpretation of the military. Not to forget even current President Yudhoyono who is linked to the military cannot break this tradition.   

When Lee Kuan Yew agreed to scatter flowers, he too has his interpretation.  Why this understanding was not transferred to the paper generals who supposed to have a better military understanding and reading?  

How about Japanese occupation
The MacDonald House bombing happened when the PAP was in power. How about the killings during Japanese Occupation? The PAP seems to have different memories.

Singapore remains silent whenever Japanese leaders pay their respects at Shinto shrine. Prime Minister Abe told reporters in late 2013: 
["I prayed to pay respect for the war dead who sacrificed their precious lives and hoped that they rest in peace," ]#2
We are concern and dismay on the naming of the Indonesian war ship. And we don’t have any feeling about the killing during the Japanese occupation. If you are part of Indonesian military, what will be your reading?  

Singapore’s position at the two killings (MacDonald House and World War II) is contradicting. If we oppose the naming of the Indonesian war ship, we should also oppose the visit of shrine visits by Japanese leaders. Is this because Japan is a bigger economy than that of Indonesia? Is this because the British as colony master has a duty to answer to the World War II dead in Singapore and not the PAP?  I would like to leave this to your imagination and judgement!

Quality of our ministers

5 Singapore million-dollar and paper-general ministers have commented on the war ship naming. Now comparing their comments with their Indonesian counterparts, I don’t see their arguments or debates better than their counterparts.

They are of course very happy to see the commentary of Jakarta Post that seems to be on their side and calling the naming an insensitive act.  Is our silent on killings during Japanese occupation sensitive or insensitive? Maybe we always like to choose the easier route and choose the area of our responsibility?

If the PAP thinks the social media and Internet are irresponsible, what about their own ministers on the naming issue? They thought they could score political points by ‘defending’ Singaporean interests. Unfortunately, their arguments are so weak and unintelligent (I hope readers do have time to read the comments on both sides).

We have to acknowledge that Indonesia is a big country with big population. A certain percentage of their population is smarter than us and receives much less than a million dollar salary. We have to be humble and accept the fact of history, the role of military of other countries. Our ignorance of historical fact will make us weak in defending Singaporean interest. A better understanding and appreciation of history will strengthen our positions and debates.

So, do Singapore ministers need an urgent course on history, on constitutions, on press freedom? Perhaps the most urgent one is on political competition as they will face more demanding voters and stronger opponents.  Understanding the past history of political competitions and the monopoly role of the PAP may help them a bit.  But will they take up the history lesson when they already have their millions?



Monday, 10 February 2014


李光耀又再一次入院出院了,有人欢喜有人愁 ,有人害怕有人认为机会来了。 无论如何,新加坡将进入一个不同的权威时代,不同诠释宪法的时代,更是一个考验我们道德勇气的时代。




【陈清木接受道歉又公开 林瑞生表惊讶】(
在行动党看来既然大家私下解决了误会,就可以向以前那样,把不要见光的新闻掩盖起来。因此,林瑞生表惊讶, 他是怪陈清木公开消息,还是惊讶自己连这样小的事情都摆不平。为何不能像从前那样喜欢封闭消息就封闭呢?

Dr Koh heats up air-con debate(








Singapore's youngest MP grows up】(






Monday, 3 February 2014

NEA vs. AHPETC: Political Adventure or Political Suicide

From assembly without permit to organisation trade fair without licence, the PAP government once again wants to show its establishment might. It even wants to right and guide the political development here: if the opposition town council is in the wrong side of the law, the institutions have the right to correct it and bring it to the court. Will this work in the new political norm with a better informed voters?

For the recent NEA vs. AHPETC#1, the PAP is taking a political risk that there are no gains but loses. In the 'assembly without permit' era, it had an upper hand as the media was under PAP control and people have few access to alternative news and views. Furthermore, most people listen to the PAP side of the story and were more willing to give the 'benefit of doubts' to them in exchange for economic prosperity. Unfortunately, this 'give and take' model has gone. Voters are more calculative now and good jobs are not easy to get.

However, in the era of social media and new norm in politics, using the same old bottle to contain the new political movement is an outdated model. The model works very well in the past will not guarantee another success for the PAP. If NEA wins the case, it just shows the high hand of the PAP but no high return in votes. It shows the bully side of the PAP. Not to mention if NEA loses the case.

Just imagine the case of Singapore institutions vs. JBJ, voters still wanted to vote him in. If a bankrupt can stand for election in Singapore, voters will still give JBJ the chance.

So, why does the PAP want to engage in this political adventure? It looks like a non-brainier committing a political suicide. Perhaps, PAP MP Baey Kam Seng gave an indirect answer when he told a group of NUS students that “ this is the system here”.#2 The system works well for the PAP and so why doesn't the PAP continue to do it, be it an illegal assembly or an unlicenced trade fair?

This shows how ignorance the PAP is. They fail to catch up with the time and changes. They still think 'the system' can be used and re-used forever.

If PA has a close relationship with the PAP, so do NEA and the PAP. Let's see how MP Baey explains it:

[Responding, Mr Baey acknowledged that some feel the close ties between the PA and PAP are unfair. But while the system may have “evolved or may be planned for certain objectives and motives”, what matters at the end is how it can be used to benefit people. “At the end of the day, does the CCC serve the people? It has to serve the people,” he said. ] #2

MP Baey brings out a tall order: serving the people. PA is serving the people even though it is political connected with the PAP, so do the NEA.

Here, I want to refer to my previous post of 'Institutional Challenges and Constitution Struggles'. PA, NEA and other government agencies are facing the institutional challenges. They should restrict themselves in serving the people and not involve in party politics. If they continue to act like the past, they will do more damages to Singapore as well as to the PAP. The PAP needs to learn new skills to engage Singaporeans rather than overly depending on 'strong institutions'. There is a day the 'over used system' will bring more harms than goods to the PAP.

In fact, the strong institutions have to have strong support from the people. And the meaning and enacting of the Constitution needs the backing of the people. The official representatives of people will debate and enact the meaning of the Constitution in Parliament. We have seen more oppositions MPs now. We are going to see more as MP Baey acknowledged the PAP only scored 6 out of 10. At least 4 out 10 have to go to the oppositions to debate and enact the meaning of 'illegal assembly' and 'unlicenced trade fair'.

Will people agree with the interpretation of 'this is the system here'? In fact, the system has already changed since GE2011 and PE2011. According to MP Baey, the PAP is only entitled for 60% of parliamentary seats if based on proportional representation. However, they have already had more than their share. Why do they still need to rely on 'strong institutions' to protect their legitimacy?

Singapore Constitution has yet to show its spirit and new meaning. It is inherited from the colonial time and is derived from the Constitution of the State of Singapore 1963, provisions of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia made applicable to Singapore by the Republic of Singapore Independence Act 1965 (No. 9 of 1965, 1985 Rev. Ed.), and the Republic of Singapore Independence Act itself. #3

For example,
Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, specifically Article 14(1), guarantees to Singapore citizens the rights to freedom of speech and expressionpeaceful assembly without arms, and association. However, the enjoyment of these rights may be restricted by laws imposed by the Parliament of Singapore on the grounds stated in Article 14(2) of the Constitution.#4

The mindset of 'this is the system here' does a disservice to the original meaning of the Constitution. We need more oppositions or even a change of government to correct this mindset.