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As the government officially confirms that it is going ahead with the planned Goods & Services Tax (GST) this week, the Workers’ Party (WP) has continued to ensure that the issues affecting most Singaporeans get airtime – among other things, that of housing and medical costs and the rising cost of living in general.
In parliament, WP MPs consistently asked questions relevant to the lives of average Singaporeans, including those related to the number of doctors in Singapore, the planned introduction of bivalent vaccines for people under 50, HDB units, staggered school openings and even the expected population growth in Singapore.
In parliament on Monday (November 7), WP MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) spoke about the impending GST increase, which will raise the GST from 7 percent to 8 percent from January 1, 2023 and from 8 percent to 9 percent. cent from January 1, 2024, calling it “irresponsible” and saying it should be delayed.
While the WP may only be a small minority in Parliament, the points she makes seem to strike a chord with the public. Many Singaporeans have expressed their support for Jamus Lim on social media and many have also put forward their own arguments.
“One percent can mean a lot to many,” said one, “especially the elderly and low-income families. (I’ve) been there so I know what it feels like to struggle with multiple jobs to keep up with the higher standard of living!”
The points Assoc Prof Lim made were praised by former GIC economist Yeoh Lam Keong in a Facebook post the following day. Mr Yeoh called the Sengkang GRC MP’s points “excellent”, adding that the GST increase “seems unnecessary at the moment‘ due to the ‘structural budget surplus of $30 billion for which we haven’t even begun to publicly outline clear big spending plans’.
On the other hand, senior members of the People’s Action Party (PAP) seem to have come under fire for being tone-deaf and contactless. On Monday (November 7), opposition leader Pritam Singh and Second Finance and National Development Minister Indranee Rajah debated the cost of developing new HDB flats and the details of the subsidies given to buyers.
As this is a livelihood issue for most Singaporeans, it was surprising that Ms Rajah refused to provide a breakdown of the total development costs of all new Build-to-order (BTO) projects, saying it was not “useful or meaningful”. provide such figures.
Since the construction of HDB flats is financed with public money, shouldn’t the public have the right to transparency? This has angered many Singaporeans who have taken to social media to denounce Ms Indranee’s seemingly sweeping resignation, with KF Seetoh calling on his Facebook page for sincerity, transparency and accountability among politicians.
In his post, Mr Seetoh appeared to be advising politicians: “The only way you can appease them and win them over is to remain sincere, transparent and accountable. That is the only winning chip a politician can have.”
This seems to capture the ground sentiments well. At the end of the day, many feel squeezed and stressed and in no mood to be fired. This fear of lack also somewhat explains why some Singaporeans remain constantly suspicious of foreigners, no matter what the government says.
Added to this is the genuine fear that Singaporeans are living in a first world country while filling third world jobs. During the pandemic, quite a few Singaporeans became delivery drivers, and many are still in those jobs today. The danger is that young and physically able locals can anchor themselves in this industry and not see it as temporary.
If Singapore is indeed a third world country where its citizens struggle to survive, then leave the food delivery business behind. But it’s 57 years since independence, what happened to our education system? All this talk of us being a first world country and a global hub seems so ridiculously false.
Did the government miss a trick here? By not being seen as transparent, they lose the trust of the public. By losing the public’s trust, the public doesn’t believe in their reassurances. The government must realize that sometimes it is not about ‘being right’, but about listening sincerely and being involved with the citizenry.
Ms Indranee’s performance in Parliament this time could be a good example of how the government could have done better. Maybe she missed a golden opportunity to address a genuine concern by running into blasé?
To end on a good note, the Aljunied-Hougang City Council (AHTC) The saga that has dragged on for years has finally come to an end.
The AHTC saga began in 2013 after FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) was appointed as managing agent. Since FMSS was founded by WP supporter Ms. How Weng Fan, it was questioned by the ruling party due to a potential conflict of interest.
On Wednesday (November 9) the Court of Appeal ruled that the leaders of the WP who had run AHTC had acted in good faith in deciding not to tender a business manager after the 2011 general election, but added that the WP leaders and some senior staff are liable to AHTC for negligence in specific aspects of the payment process.
This was seen as a kind of exemption for the WP leaders, former and current Secretaries General Low Thia Khiang and Pritam Singh, respectively, as well as party chairman Sylvia Lim, as the highest court largely overturned the previous Supreme Court ruling. , as it has determined that the WP city councilors and senior employees owe no fiduciary duties to the AHTC, but are liable for negligence only in certain respects. This resolution has led some Singaporeans to take to social media to praise Singapore’s verdict and judicial system for the fairness it had shown in the case.
Hopefully this settles this issue once and for all and allows the WP to focus fully on the issues that matter most to Singaporeans: their livelihoods.
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