Thursday, February 25, 2010

MIT prof confirms what Chee has been saying all these years

Singapore Democrats

There has been great emphasis on what is ailing Singapore's economy in the past several months. Much of it has centred around the declining productivity of our workforce.

Professor Huang Yasheng from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) weighed in on this issue when he was recently invited to deliver a lecture at the Civil Service College here. In his presentation, Professor Huang gave his insights on how Singapore can go about tackling the productivity problem (see report below).

A professor of political economy and international management, the MIT don has written extensively on the Chinese economy and he also runs a programme at the Institute to train entrepreneurs in management.

In his address Professor Huang made the point that the top-down approach of running the economy in Singapore through GLCs was causing much of the lag in productivity in our economy.

This was because GLCs are largely staffed and led by civil service technocrats who lack the entrepreneurial and innovative drive seen in the private sector.

Much of what Professor Huang said confirms what Dr Chee Soon Juan has been saying all these years in his various books.

Prof Huang: The new game is not about high averages, but outliers. Nor is it about size, but nimbleness. "This idea that size gives you advantage is an extraordinarily strange view. Was Microsoft a big company in 1975? Was Google a big company in 1998?"
Dr Chee: In the US, it is the smaller companies that are more nimble and able to adapt to changes in technology. IBM, the once mighty giant in the industry, is now struggling to keep up with smaller companies like Microsoft and Apple. (Dare To Change, 1994)

Prof Huang: But growing up in the big shadow of state intervention has dwarfed the entrepreneurial culture here. The 'orderly' environment here dulls the incentive to think out of the box. Everything is very well organised. Entrepreneurship typically happens in a more chaotic environment.
Dr Chee: Such a system inevitably produces workers who may perform competently when society is well organised and structured but when spontaneity and creativity is of the essence, find it difficult to exercise an independent unfettered...Conformity has come second nature to the people. (Your Future, My faith, Our Freedom, 2001)

Prof Huang: Even Singapore's top-down education system gets in the way. "While producing excellent maths scores, it is not producing diversity in ideas and unconventional ways of solving problems."
Dr Chee: ...Singapore's educational system has emphasized rote learning and has graded students almost entirely on their perfomance in their year-end examinations...this form of schooling deprives society of entrepreneurial minds, resulting in the school curricular. (Dare To Change, 1994)

Prof Huang: The private sector is the best way to grow the economy. It has the most productive, most innovative and entrepreneurial culture. The state-owned enterprise system doesn't give you that.'
Dr Chee: With world markets becoming more diverse and integrative, private enterprises are better poised to capitalise on business opportunities than state-controlled companies. (A Nation Cheated, 2007)

It seems that the PAP Government simply refuses to make the necessary reforms to ensure that our economy develops in a sustainable way that benefits all segments of society, not just the clique that surrounds it.

But the problems are just beginning to surface and there is absolutely no indication that the ruling party is willing to make the hard but necessary decisions to steer our economy on to the right path. Such an approach will continue to be a drag on the nation's progress.

Also read: Time to rethink the Temasek model (Straits Times)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Singapore Budget 2010 exposed

Singapore Democrats

http://yoursdp.org/images/stories/graphics3/budget2010a.jpgIn his 2010 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has announced that the Government will splash $5.5 billion over the next five years to help boost productivity and efficiency in Singapore.

Throwing money at the problem and making the same proposals that have been tried and found wanting, but packaged differently, will not make the problem go away. Productivity will still languish.

Let us compare what has been said and done before, with what has been proposed this year. Mr Tharman's basic approach is very similar to the strategies that the Economic Review Committee (ERC) led by Mr Lee Hsien Loong came up with in 2003:

Tharman 2010: One, to “restructure our overall economy towards higher-value activities.”
Lee 2003: “Our basic strategy is to upgrade ourselves” and “restructure our economy to strengthen our position.”

Tharman 2010: Two, to “upgrade individual industries and enterprises."
Lee 2003: Industries need to “upgrade themselves...to become more innovative.”

Tharman 2010: Three, to “raise the skills and creative potential of every worker.”
Lee 2003: “We need an environment that encourages creativity, intellectual curiosity and risk-taking...The aim is to bring out the full potential of every individual.”

Clearly the Government is re-proposing what it has been doing all these years. If after all that the ERC proposed failed to boost productivity, what makes it different this time around?

Mr Tharman also announced that the Government will set up the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council (NPCEC), to be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, to “galvanise the major national effort required to boost skills and enterprise productivity.”

If that's the case, why do we have the Ministry of Trade and Industry running SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation for Growth) whose aims are to “raise productivity to enhance Singapore's competitiveness and economic growth.”

Is this a tacit admission that SPRING has been a failure? Again, what reason do we have to believe that the new NPCEC can elevate productivity if SPRING could not?

The Finance Minister also mentioned in his speech that our productivity levels lagged behind those of other countries such as Australia and Japan. He cited the construction sector as one such area that needed improvement.

Again this is nothing new. In 2001, Dr Chee Soon Juan reported in his book Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom had already cited that productivity in Singapore's retail sector was “only 50 percent of its economy, compared to 70 percent in Japan and 80 percent in the United States.”

If truth be told, the productivity problem has been in existence for the past couple of decades, not just the one or two years ago. The PAP's refusal to acknowledge the root cause of the problem is the real reason why our productivity has been languishing all these years. These problems are:

The over-dependence on MNCs so much so that wages had to be, and are being, actively suppressed in order to keep Singapore attractive to these companies;
The channelling of resources to GLCs, whose performance are lamentable at best, to the point that local SMEs are crowded out and unable to develop;
The continued autocratic system run by the PAP that pushes talented and skilled Singaporeans to leave the country, and cause a sense of alienation among those who remain behind.


Collectively, these problems contribute in a major way to the lack of an entrepreneurial and innovative mental attitude which are the key ingredients to a higher value-added and productive economy.

The solutions are clear:

  • One, we need to reign in our addiction to MNCs and allow wages to find their natural levels in a genuinely free market system.
  • Two, the GLCs must be dismantled and local SMEs allowed to develop and grow to be world beaters.
  • Three, we must empower our workers by allowing them to organise their own unions and we must democratise the economy to retain Singaporeans and prevent its hollowing out. Opening up and democratising society will encourage the flourishing of the market of ideas and this will, in turn, lead to a more vibrant, dynamic, and enterprising business sector and labour force.

For more details of the SDP's proposals, please read Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the SDP's Economic Alternative Programme.

Analysts, productivity experts and even Nobel laureates have repeatedly cited that the Singapore must open up and society must be free of the authoritarian control of the PAP to allow the economy and productivity to expand.

Without a concomitant shift in the political-economic system in Singapore no amount of dollars will improve the productivity question.

Unfortunately, the PAP will continue to do everything except what is most needed, that is, free up economy. But, alas, the ruling party knows that the only way that it can continue to exert its overwhelming control of Singapore is by controlling the economy.

In short Budget 2010 is no different from past budgets. It is meant to first and foremost keep the PAP in power, the rest of Singapore will have to take a backseat.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Smart autocracy in Singapore and Malaysia

Outdated political thuggery embarrasses Malaysia
Sydney Morning Herlad, February 23 2010

Dumb autocrats use the army, goon squads and guns to repress the opposition. Smart autocrats use the law courts to do it. Indonesia's Soeharto was a dumb autocrat. Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad were smart autocrats.

The Lee-Mahathir model keeps the outward facade of a functioning democracy, with elections, a parliament and supposedly independent courts. Behind it, the systems are gutted to guarantee the ruling party remains ruling.

In Singapore, where Lee's People's Action Party has been in power for 50 continuous years, the government simply sues opposition politicians for defamation. A tame court hands down ruinous damages, opponents end up in bankruptcy, jail or exile.

When a meddlesome foreigner, the deputy director for Asia of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, said last month that ''Singapore is the textbook example of a politically repressive state'', the government just shrugged and said: ''Singapore is a democratic state with a clean and transparent government.''

The army is in its barracks and there are no goon squads smashing through people's front doors at 3am. It's all legit, see? The foreign investors and governments play along. So what if the ruling party holds 98 per cent of the seats in parliament? It has an elected parliament, and surely that's good enough.

Lee quit the prime ministership in 1990 and now holds a personalised cabinet post of Minister Mentor. But his system lives on. His handpicked successors as prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, and now Lee's son, Lee Hsien Loong, have been every bit as smart as the old man himself in preserving the appearance of legitimacy.

In Malaysia, Mahathir was never as subtle or as smooth as Lee. But Mahathir was still a smart autocrat who kept control through his puppetry of the judicial system. The pivotal moment was in 1988 when Mahathir complained that the courts were ''too independent''.

He purged the chief judicial officer, the Lord President, and suspended the five chief justices of the Supreme Court. The court system has never given any further trouble to the Barisan Nasional, or National Front, since. Together with its predecessor, the BN has ruled Malaysia continuously for 54 years.

It's infinitely smarter to use legal instruments to purge judges than to use guns against protesters. A judicial massacre makes lousy TV. You won't see one live on CNN. So it remains hidden from international view. Yet it can be every bit as repressive. So when Mahathir faced a power struggle in 1998 with his deputy prime minister and heir apparent, the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim, he naturally turned to the courts to purge his younger rival.

In a blatantly political fix-up, he had Anwar arrested and charged with sodomy, a shocking crime in a predominantly conservative Muslim country. Even today it carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail. The police Special Branch concocted evidence and coerced witnesses. Anwar emerged from his police cell to appear in court with a bruised face, inflicted, it was later learnt, when the chief of police beat him.

The verdict was never in question. The courts convicted Anwar of sodomising his aide and speechwriter, Munawar Anees. The former deputy PM spent six years in jail. Munawar, now living in the US, has since said he was coerced into giving evidence against Anwar. ''My detention by the Malaysian Special Branch taught me how it feels to be forcibly separated from one's wife and children,'' Munawar wrote in the Wall Street Journal last month.

''How it feels to be searched and seized, disallowed to make phone calls, handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped naked, endlessly interrogated, humiliated, drugged, deprived of sleep, physically abused. What it's like to be threatened, blackmailed, hectored by police lawyers, brutalised to make a totally false confession.''

With Malaysia under tremendous international pressure from Anwar's admirers, including America's Al Gore and Britain's Gordon Brown, and with Mahathir retiring from the prime ministership in 2003, a review court overturned the sodomy sentence. Anwar was released in 2004.

He was allowed to return to politics in 2008 to lead the opposition to the BN. He committed the crime of doing so with some success. In March 2008, under challenge from Anwar, the BN won a national election, but was shocked to lose its prized majority of two-third of the seats in parliament.

The new BN Prime Minister, Najib Razak, reacted exactly as Mahathir had to a challenge from Anwar. Four months after the ruling party's election setback, Anwar was once again charged with sodomy. Once again, it's a blatant political case. The newspaper The Star called the case ''Sodomy II''.

Why is Anwar such a threat?

''At the moment,'' says Carl Thayer, an expert at the University of NSW, ''there is no other leader who can hold together the opposition coalition of an Islamic party with a Chinese party, who is capable of being prime minister, and who has experience and international recognition that Anwar has.''

The case is a joke. It exposes the Najib government as desperate and underhanded. It makes Malaysia a subject of international ridicule. While under Mahathir this form of legal manipulation might have been smart autocracy, in today's world it just looks like Malaysia is playing around with its national future.

Peter Hartcher is the Sydney Morning Herald's international editor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blurring state and party lines: Singapore and China

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-11/19/xin_5221104190738125231706.jpg

Blurring state and party lines
Saturday February 20, 2010
By SEAH CHIANG NEE, The Star (Malaysia)

If China and Singapore can become twinned on the world state, they can promote a new global order that would blend authoritarianism and capitalism.

SOME of the brightest Chinese officials have been coming to study how the ruling party has achieved prosperity and won elections while retaining its one-party predominance.

Such study trips – which cover the economic, social and political areas – have been reported occasionally.

Some observers believe that Singapore’s politics, with its top-down system, may be of special interest to China’s Communist Party as it ponders over reform options.

The latest comment came from Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who said that many groups, representing different levels of the Chinese government, had been coming in recent years to attend study courses.

On one visit – according to Lee – they showed interest in how his People’s Action Party (PAP), with a small suburban office, could reach out to its crowded heartland electorate.

The answer they got would have given them a lesson on how the PPP can benefit from its incumbent power by blurring the line separating state from party.

In his outspoken way, Lee admitted that all grassroots organisations (with nearly 30,000 community workers) which interact and organise activities in the estates were actually part of his party.

It is used by the PAP to foster bonds with Singaporeans.

Since they are publicly-funded and overseen by the People’s Association, a government statutory board under the Ministry of Community Development, the community workers are supposed to be non-partisans.

“... Everywhere they (the Chinese) go, they see the PAP – in the RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees), and the CCs (community clubs),” Lee beamed.

The confirmation that these are part of the PAP could become an embarrassment to his younger ministers as the message sinks in.

It may also come as a surprise to some of the grassroots volunteers who thought they were non-partisans working for their community.

(Already the party recently announced it had difficulty recruiting enough volunteers, and grassroots bodies were some 35% understrength.)

The critics don’t faze the architect of the scheme. Lee once said: “I make no apologies that the PAP is the (Singapore) government and the government is the PAP.”

His remarks moved an online analyst to comment: “No wonder the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is so interested to learn from Singapore.”

The furore shows how much Singaporeans have changed over a generation.

In the 60s, when Lee was using these tax-funded grassroots organisations to combat pro-communists and racial extremists, it seemed natural and few people complained.

But with many of today’s better-educated youths, the idea of the PAP using tax money against the opposition in a democracy has become unacceptable.

If the Chinese visitors had probed further, they would have found that control of grassroots is merely one of an arsenal of weapons the PAP has to hold on to power.

“If they did, the Chinese might be surprised by the reach of some of the PAP’s tentacles in the city,” a small businessman said.

Over 50 years, it has built a whole network of top-level people to run the civil service, trade unions, the press, police, armed forces and state-linked corporations that control much of Singapore’s economy.

The sheer number of people working for them – or associated with them – is large enough to make the party hard to defeat in an election.

Even if an opposition party – or coalition – were to win enough seats to form the government, it may find itself shackled on the implementation level with such extensive PAP influence in state and community machinery.

Keeping all these personnel could reduce the chances of smooth government functioning, at least for awhile, and quickly replacing a large number of them would be impossible.

The city is too small to allow for such a massive replacement of experienced people. All these do not make the PAP undefeatable and irreplaceable, but they render the task extremely difficult.

These “controlling” factors have led political analysts to regard Singapore as a role model for China to emulate, should it decide one day to introduce some form of democracy, without losing power.

“Singapore has shown that its system, although criticised by the West, can preserve harmony and economic growth while giving people the vote,” said a PAP supporter.

The relevance of Singapore’s political system to China still crops up occasionally.

Most commentators say it is impractical given the vast disparity in size.

One Chinese blogger wrote: “With all due respect to Singapore, I just don’t want to compare China and Singapore. You can compare Singapore (population: 5 million) and Shanghai (16 million), or Hong Kong (7 million).”

Wang Jian Shuo added: “Politi-cally, to rule a city of several million is, of course, very different (from) ruling a bigger country (which) actually needs more wisdom in the political system.

“For example, I don’t want someone in Beijing to make decisions for me about what my children should believe. So, there is a huge difference here between Singapore and China.”

Singapore’s top writer, Catherine Lim, however, looks at the equation from another angle.

At a university forum, she spoke of the emergence of a new breed of young, sophisticated Singaporeans wanting political freedom and forcing the PAP leaders to deal with their demands.

“Not if China comes to their rescue,” Lim said.

The outspoken author was referring to a possible 2030 scenario when China’s power rises, while the United States declines and is unable to offer an ideological alternative.

Thus, she said, if China and Singapore could blend authoritarianism and capitalism and become twinned on the world stage, “the Lee Kuan Yew model of governance will have achieved an international acceptance that the PAP could never have dreamt of”.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who will the new citizens of Singapore vote for?


I shared the Temasek Review article, 'Electoral rolls updated again to include more new citizens in the register', and noted an interesting comment from a friend: "oh, so they do not need to serve the national service BUT they are eligible to vote?".

His comment raises many important questions, particularly alarming to Singaporeans who want democratic change in this country.

33% of the electorate in contested areas voted for the opposition in the last election. How many citizens, especially civil servants, voted for the PAP out of fear? What would the percentage of opposition votes be if every Singaporean got a chance to cast his or her ballot? (The GRC system effectively makes it difficult for the opposition to contest in many parts of Singapore)

Voters would also benefit from mainstream media coverage that is independent and free from government control, because it would help them make a more informed choice.

There are several other reasons as to why the elections have been unfree and unfair all these years. But before we even begin to address the need for electoral reform, new citizens who've spent barely a year or 2 in Singapore are going to vote as well.

And who will the new citizens of Singapore vote for? Your guess is as good as mine. But we can still hope that over time, they too will see the reality of the Singapore situation and act for democratic change.

Also read:
Should there be a waiting period before new citizens are allowed to vote?
The truth about elections in Singapore

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Singapore ranked 53rd for liveability worldwide

Source: Temasek Review

Despite having the most expensive government in the entire world, Singapore is ranked a miserable 53th position in terms of liveability worldwide in a recent global conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Not surprisingly, the top 10 most liveable cities in the world are all found in democratic states. (read article here)

The latest findings corroborate an earlier survey done by influential Ireland-based lifestyle magazine International Living, which ranked Singapore 70th in terms of quality of life in the world, below the likes of Romania, Croatia and Slovenia, former states of the Eastern bloc.

The data is collated from official government sources, the World Health Organization, The Economist, and many other journals, tables, and records.

Below is Singapore’s scores for each category:

While Singapore scores high on risk and safety, health and infrastructure, it scores poorly in environment and freedom, bringing down its final score to a mediocre 61.

Environment and Freedom each contributed 10 per cent to the countries’ overall score:

Environment (10%). To figure a country’s score in this category, we look at population density per square kilometer, population growth rate, greenhouse emissions per capita, and the percentage of total land that is protected.

Freedom (10%). Freedom House’s survey is the main source for these scores, with an emphasis on a citizen’s political rights and civil liberties.

The survey by International Living was not reported in the mainstream media when we have already reported on it last month. (read our article here) Perhaps Straits Times finds the 53th ranking by The Economist Unit is more “respectable”.

As expected of its role as a mouthpiece of the PAP regime, the Straits Times had tried to put down the significance of the findings.

It quoted regional economist Song Seng Wun as saying that “culture and freedom” takes time to evolve.

It is not a matter of time, but a matter of political necessity. So long the PAP remains in power and continues to introduce ridiculous and repressive laws like the Public Order Act to curtail the civil and political liberties of Singaporeans, Singapore will continue to score poorly in this area.

The Straits Times also interview some Singaporeans to give the impression that they are not interested in freedom.

“Some Singaporeans, however, simply shrugged when asked about areas like the environment,” it reported.

Air stewardess Tan Xiu Mei, 27, said she is more concerned about bread-and-butter issues, like food prices. Asked about freedoms, she said: ‘I don’t really have much to voice anyway.’

Miss Tan seems ignorant of the fact that without the freedom to voice one’s concerns, dissatisfaction and unhappiness, she will always be at the mercy of those in power.

The Straits Times can continue pulling over a wool over the eyes of its own apathetic citizenry, but it will never be able to deceive first world global citizens.

It is little wonder that Singapore is unable to attract the best talents from mainland China, India and elsewhere to settle here despite its ultra-liberal immigration policies.

In a Gallup poll done last year July among Chinese college students, their top three emigration destinations are United States, France and South Korea. Singapore is not even featured in the top five.

A paranoid, insular and repressive regime, coupled with an ignorant citizenry and a third class media is a recipe for an impending disaster. Will any global talents in their right minds plant their roots in a sinking ship?

The PAP ministers are the highest paid political leaders in the world, but Singapore has the highest income gap and lowest standard of living among first world nations. Do they really deserve their salaries?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Free Burma Campaign Singapore statement on the 2010 Burma elections

Source: Free Burma Campaign Singapore

http://i320.photobucket.com/albums/nn359/seelanpalay/free_burma.pngToday, February 12, marks the 63rd anniversary of the Union Day of Burma. To commemorate this important date, Free Burma Campaign Singapore (FBCSG) is issuing a statement with regards to the upcoming 2010 elections.

We call upon the regime to respect the voices and choices of the people by carrying out a free and fair election. Before the elections take place, we insist that the regime meets three crucial benchmarks:

  1. The immediate release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
  2. National reconciliation: Inclusive dialogue with key stakeholders from democracy groups and ethnic nationalities, including a comprehensive review of the 2008 Constitution.
  3. Total cessation of the systematic abuse of human rights and criminal hostilities against ethnic groups, political activists, journalists and civil society.

These benchmarks must be fulfilled before the elections in order to provide equal opportunities for opposition politicians and Burmese society at large. The elections cannot be presumed free and fair without first meeting these conditions.

We at FBCSG also express concern at the fundamentally flawed structure of the Constitution, which binds the electoral process and beyond.

A high proportion of parliamentary powers is allocated to the military; any proper mechanism for the protection of human rights is lacking. Any election that takes place without a thorough review of the Constitution will not bring about any political and social change in Burma.

Contact us at burmacampaignsg@gmail.com

http://freeburmacampaignsg.wordpress.com

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The SDP's alternative economic programme Part 3: A comprehensive set of measures

Singapore Democrats

In Part 1 of this programme, we noted that the GDP is not a good indicator of an economy's well-being or progress. In Part 2 we presented problems resulting from our economy's dependence on foreign workers and foreign capital, much of it illicit, to bolster our GDP growth and how that has affected our labour productivity.

We present in Part 3 a set of concrete and, more importantly, compehensive proposals to remedy these problems and how we can steer our economy onto a sustainable, and less corrosive, path. It is our intent to be part of a solution to bring the Singapore economy up to speed in this post-capitalist era rather than to just propose ways to clean up the mess after it has been created by the PAP.

Read the complete article here: http://yoursdp.org/index.php/the-party/our-manifesto/3381-the-sdps-alternative-economic-programme-part-3-a-comprehensive-set-of-measures-

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SDP's Chinese New Year Message 2010

Singapore Democrats

Dr Chee Soon Juan delivers the SDP's Lunar New Year message. He talks about the hardship of working Singaporeans and calls on the people to make Singapore a place where competition for jobs, especially with foreigners, is fair.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The SDP's alternative economic programme Part 2: Getting rich quick

In Part I, we discussed the problems of Singapore's economic performance as far as the GDP and productivity are concerned. In this second instalment, we continue to examine the soundness of the PAP's economic policies, in particular the unfortunate turn towards capitalising on vice as a source of income.

Read the complete article here: http://yoursdp.org/index.php/the-party/our-manifesto/3369-the-sdps-alternative-economic-programme-part-2-getting-rich-quick

Friday, February 5, 2010

Let's Talk with local poet Ng Yi-Sheng

Singapore Democrats

We've had bloggers, a women's rights advocate, an anti-death penalty campaigner, an opposition candidate, and a former ISA detainee on our Let's Talk series. This week to turn to the literary world where we get up close with Mr Ng Yi-Sheng, poet, playwright and winner of the 2008 Singapore Literature Prize.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Singaporeans For Democracy approved

Source: SFD

On behalf of Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD), I am pleased to inform you that the Registrar of Societies (ROS) has approved SFD’s application on 2 February 2010. (Click here to view the approval letter)

SFD protem President, Dr. James Gomez, Treasurer, Mr. Seelan Palay and member Mr. Martyn See met with ROS Head Eugene Heng Hiang Lik and Deputy Head Ms. Joway Tan Keng Wei at 10.30am on 3 February 2010 to receive and discuss the application. Following which the SFD representatives paid the prescribed fee of S$400.00.

With the application approved and the prescribed fee paid, SFD will begin its operations by setting up a membership committee to enlist new members through a recruitment drive. Annual membership subscriptions are $30 for Ordinary Members, $20 for Associate Members and $15 for student and retiree members above fifty-five years old.

The registration of SFD adds another legal institution to Singapore’s political landscape. It paves the way for Singaporeans to take civil and political society initiatives to the next level.

Moving ahead, the key slogan "Advocacy, Activism, Action" will guide SFD's program of activities.

For further enquiries please contact Dr. James Gomez at jamesgomez@hotmail.com.

Media Liaison
Mr. Jacob George

Media reports on SFD's approval:

Singaporeans For Democracy gazetted as political association (CNA)

SFD officially approved (Straits Times)

Group gazetted as political association (TODAY)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SDP to launch alternative economic programme

Singapore Democrats

Egalitarianism. It's a big word. But it's also an important one.

It is the key word in the SDP's economic programme for Singapore which we will be launching this week through a series of posts on this website. We will put forward an alternative economic model that is fundamentally different from that practiced by the PAP.

It is a programme that, as mentioned, emphasizes on egalitarianism, a philosophical concept that promotes equality and equal opportunity.

Above all, it is an alternative that is both realistic and workable for our economy.

Why is it even important to mention this? Because for too long Singaporeans have believed that all the brains and talent in Singapore have been vacuumed up by the PAP, leaving only the mediocre and insipid to the opposition parties.

Which is also to say that it is a veritable lie that there can be no viable alternative to the current system.

After all the years of propaganda by the media, Singaporeans have been led to believe that anything else other than PAP's policies is rubbish and written for its own sake.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There have been many policies proposed by the SDP that the PAP has used and called them its own.

For example, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last week that: "Our own population is growing slowly, and we cannot indefinitely expand our workforce by importing more and more workers from abroad. We have to extract maximum value from the resources that we have; every piece of land must be put to optimum use, activities which are no longer competitive or productive have to be gradually phased out."

A full 5 years ago, however, Dr Chee Soon Juan wrote in his book A Nation Cheated: "Singapore’s labour productivity...is notoriously mediocre." He went on to cite the influx of foreign workers which "expeditiously and artificially inflate[d] GDP figures." This, he added, was problematic especially in the absence of "a concomitant increase in labour productivity."

Lately, economists have echoed what Dr Chee has been saying all these years. In 2009, Citigroup economist Kit Wei Zheng pointed out that Singapore's rapid growth has, over the recent past, been mostly driven by a massive increase in the workforce and warned that it is clear that "growth powered by importing foreign labour is simply not sustainable."

This is also true for another of the SDP's proposals - Minimum Wage. The Singapore Democrats campaigned on this issue as early as the 2001 general elections. Shortly thereafter, economist and NTU vice-dean Professor Hui Weng Tat repeated the call for the introduction of Minimum Wage.

The problem with the SDP's economic ideas is that Singaporeans are not hearing or reading about them because of the media's censorship of our news. Hopefully, however, this will change with the growth of the internet.

Singaporeans must break out of the mindset that only the PAP has the ideas that work for Singapore. We must believe that opposition parties like the SDP have solutions and alternative programmes that are not just workable for Singapore but crucial for our future economic well-being - solutions that, as we have stated, even the PAP has adopted.

This coming collection of articles on the economy and the alternatives that we will be putting forth will demonstrate once and for all that the PAP does not have a monopoly of ideas for Singapore, including economic ones.

Let it never again be said that the opposition only knows how to complain and throw stones at the PAP without coming up with proposals to better Singapore. With this claim, the Singapore Democrats firmly establish our credentials as a party that not only boldly speaks up for Singaporeans, but also a constructive one.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lee Kuan Yew on Race, Culture, Genes

http://www.parliament.gov.sg/AboutUs/images/Prof-LeeKuanYew.gifAn essay by Michael D. Barr (Department of History, University of Queensland) analysing Lee Kuan Yew's views on Race, Culture & Genes.

Everyone should have a read through and forward to their friends: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/APCITY/UNPAN004070.pdf

You can't help but wonder what the Malay and Indian PAP MPs think of his views.