We are actually very lucky to become what we are today considering we started off with nothing. If something disastrous were to happen and wipe out our reserves, we may never have a chance to make a come back. Take a war for example. The reserves is needed for food to feed the people and soldier, weapons and ammos for fighting, logistics etc. After the war is over, we'll need money to rebuild the infrastructure and country. We need the reserves to give us confidence. We need the reserves give us control of our fiscal policy (even if we may not use it, it acts as a deterrence people like Soros). We need it to kick start a lot of things again.
Without it, we may work doubly hard and still not succeed. If I am the govt and responsible not only for the current generation but also to the future generation, I'll not splurge it unnecessarily. Some of you will say such a scenario may never happen. But if you're responsible, you'll never rule that out.
If you compare to those country that is seemingly better us, I would say they have a more advantageous condition. European societies are more advanced and civilised. They have less hostility in their region. Hong kong doesn't have to spend much on their defence. If S'pore can spend less on defence, I'm sure everyone will be better off.
Then there was this sweeping statement about how to "deal" with the opposition if they were elected instead of focusing on how to run the country.
"There is no policy too sensitive to question, and no subject so taboo that you cannot even mention it."
- DPM Lee Hsien Loong, Straits Times, 17 Jan 2000
Anyway, stuff about elections is really OT already.
ďHow fortunate for leaders that men do not think.Ē - Adolf Hitler
i wrote a long argument that got swallowed up by clubsnap.
about how there is no further happiness or benefit to be derived from opening the books to the public, if you ask me. if it's bad, it's bad, you won't be able to hide it long term. if it's good , it's good, from what i see from recent years and actions taken , we can easily, easily deduce that temasek is doing strong, despite all the opposition mudslinging about mistakes. i admit, in the past i was partially swayed, but as you read more and you take a wider view, i think you'll see that expecting an investment outfit to be right 100% all of the time is absolutely ridiculous. and saying that you should hold someone accountable for an investment gone sour is like saying that liu bei should execute zhang fei for screwing up half the time. but even liu bei for all his foolishness (and his brotherly love coughhackcough) was able to see that there was more benefit to keeping him around and alive and happily bull-headed.
have we totally bombed? the recent move to buy into significance - mindyou, merill lynch isn't some small player on the market.. if you had the time to stop and think and look at what you're saying then you'll see that there is nothing to be worried about.
to be honest, i think if the books were opened it would actually do more harm than good. you'll get all sorts of funny threads sprouting up over clubsnap saying "oh, my pay hasn't gone up." when they work for private company la.. or "wa, we should get more singapore shares? money".. yes, i'm all for welfare for the less well-off. i understand that life is hard for many (definitely not so hard for most people here, and definitely not me, life is good for me). i also can appreciate the reasoning behind people demanding more for the poor. but i also question whether an actual full-blown plan will be good - there is a thin fine line between welfare and spoiling the child. besides that, i am almost certain that the people demanding this help for the poor are thinking that they will be lumped together with the poor. unfortunately they will not be, so the complaints will not stop even then.
anyways - about well-lit streets, i am seriously shocked. perhaps i will put up a "london at night" series soon or when i go travelling i will actually take the risks to walk around at night for some serious education - i'm sure you have been overseas too la. the capital of the world is unfortunately, one of the darkest at night. one place where you can definitely see some light is the houses of parliament though and the big ben. but around my residence, the street lamps have been spoilt since i've come, so it 's a long dark walk from the nearest tube station. luckily it is not a bad area. singapore is one of the brightest countries of the world - we have been spoilt, and we do not know it.
on lifts, i have to agree that perhaps it is good to have lifts on every floor. then we come to the fact that studio apartments catered for the elderly with just that have been built, for those who plan to live alone. what about those who stay with their family? then i will ask you, what are family values for? we also come to the fact that living costs are rising and people always complain about hdb flats becoming more expensive. you can't have it all - limiting lifts will indirectly solve two problems (a little bit tongue in cheek here), our obesity problem, and costs.
i also have a story to tell you about an old person i know who insists on walking the stairs despite being old of age (80+), having long term sickness, and not really that healthy/fit. she is my grandmother, and has a lift right outside her door. it isn't easy for her, but she says it's good for her because she gets to exercise, and sometimes we all worry for her, but i am proud of her. i think, sometimes through her i get to see a whisper of the past when we all used to be good and honest hardworking people, less concerned about money and more concerned about happiness and simple living. that unfortunately, is slowly dying out.
Last edited by night86mare; 25th January 2008 at 02:47 AM.
i can only laugh when i read the statements you write about european societies having less hostility. advancement, not so sure. civilised, hahaha. i will tell you that every society is more or less the same, and if you do not wish to believe me, there's nothing i can say.
in the current case where the GIC is investing in the 2 banks... its great that we are told the amount of investment was made, the cost of the investment, the convertability and risks involved... good or bad, at least the people are informed of what was done... and if every quarter or every half or even every year, the people are kept up to date, as stakeholders in the country, wouldn't that assure us of the country's fiscal condition?... I don't doubt that the current and previous planners in GIC and Temasek have contributed greatly, but there can never be ironclad assurances for the future...
as for government spending, I think the UK has a pretty big military bill... carriers and ballistic missle submarines amongst other equipment, and foreign deployments, are a huge drain on the coffers... whereas for places like Hong Kong, I believe their military bill is close to zilch (before, territorial security was by the British, now its by China)... that's one of the reasons why they can afford to have low taxes... Singapore has to pay for its own defences (militarily as well as financial and in other fields) as well...
We have nothing when we start.
Nobody cares about us and nobody is interested in us.
We have to BEG and BEG the rich(MNC) to come to Singapore. We were humble and we learnt the hard way.
Over the years, we have convinced the world that this tiny red dot is where you should invest and this is where your money should be put.
It is safe and secure and it is heaven for investors.
We were very skinny and had little muscle. But now we are better built and we are better equipt.
Are we supposed to tell everybody what we have? Are we supposed to tell everybody how we spent our monies? I hate to use National Security as a reason, but I guess I have no choice.
No country in the world would reveal everything they have especially when it threatens the national interest of a country.
I’m not against investments, I’m all for it. Built up big reserves, built a strong defense, infrastructures and what have we. All of us whom have followed this thread and responded would have no problem accepting these realities despite the disagreement on accountability and transparency. It’s the man in the street, the underprivileged, and the poor and sick that the gov’t has to address, to make them understand why we are investing billions overseas. It’s a moral obligation. Paying GST for medicine, milk powder, education? Our elite scholars have got it wrong.
Last edited by Winsonapm; 25th January 2008 at 10:46 AM.
just1book, no kidding!
There are many organisatons that provide reliefs to the needy. Do you know that if you are good enough, you would have collected, (I was told about $1500/month.) if you go round your estate and collect the various reliefs given by the various self help groups.
Do you know that schools and MOE will make sure that every child has a place and they will do all possible to help them financially. They even provide the children with free meal and pocket money.
A billion dollars lost in stupid investment will see to all of these basic necessities for years. I think its call accountabilities (heads do not need to roll).
A few billions made are expected, for which those responsible are paid millions. I think its call transparency. Does any body know how much is the Chairman paid? Each MD, each head gets, bonuses?
We were told of lots of bullshit over the years, they got away with some buying the stories. I, liked many, bought the bullshit. But cannot live with the issues on accountabilities and transparency.
just1book, no kidding!
As for GST for medicine, milk powder, education... the devil is in the details. There are expensive medicine and cheap medicine. There are expensive milk powder and cheap milk powder. Should we exempt all from GST? Or should those who are rich and opt for the more pricier items pay more? If the rich doesn't have to pay more when they opt for the expensive milk powder, does it mean that i'm actually helping to pay for them? Or is it better to have a uniform tax and then return it to those needy? Which one is easier to administer Just imagine you are being task to sort this out, which approach will you take?
Again, I've often pictured myself being in charge of giving out these "handouts". My question inevitably comes to this: when you give out the money (from a limited pool) to the poor, do you consider his/her history?
Eg. if the person has been rich once but gamble away his fortune, does he deserve it. what if a person is not taking care of his own health (never exercise, chain smoke etc) and rack up huge debts in medical cost. how about the one that waste all his money on women in batam.
We can't do that because it is not practical at all.
Ultimately, I arrived at the conclusion everyone must take responsibility for their own action. I think it is fair as long as the rules for giving out handouts are consistently applied throughout. So the next time you decide to splurge on the new camera/car/condo/flat/clubmembership/hobby that you can hardly afford instead of saving the money, then you have to be responsible for whatever future repercussion. It is quite clear what the living expenses for now and for the future. Next time if you need handouts, those rules still stand.
So if you want to take it easy in life or work hard to build up your retirement funds, it is entirely up to you. The rules are consistent.
What about those who are genuinely poor or unfortunate? I would say these handouts are sufficient. You will never die of hunger in Singapore. But if you're asking for handouts to afford handphone, scv, broadband, I think that is a bit too much.
I believe that people who really want to threaten our national security would a) do it asymetrically, in which case the amount of reserves would be moot, or b) have the resources to find out how much are reserves are...