Stronger Citizens, Not Stronger Mandate

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Stronger Citizens, Not Stronger Mandate

By Leong Mun Wai

The PM’s speech at 730pm today sounded like one that was asking for a stronger mandate. PSP is confident that Singapore will overcome the Covid crisis eventually given our strengths built up over the years since independence. The issue is how well the government can lead and manage the situation given its lackluster performance in the handling of the Covid crisis so far.

This crisis is different from any of the crises that we have experienced in the past because it requires not only financial resources to support the economy but also Singaporeans to adjust their lifestyles and the economy to transform. Unfortunately, our government has not been good on both of these. Other than instilling anxiety and fear, the government has never help Singaporeans to plan long term financially with a good work-life balance. It has also spent billions of dollars in R&D and capability-building but still unable to transform the economy.

We have actually entered the crisis after two decades of economic mismanagement when the living standards of average Singaporeans were strained by loss of PMET jobs, mismatch of jobs and skills of new graduates, persistently high rentals and other costs of living. The lower half of the Singaporeans, especially, were ill-prepared financially when the crisis hit, many whom have little savings to tide them over. Taken in that context, the government’s $100bn rescue has not been enough in terms of quantum and timing.

We need more decisive actions to build stronger citizens together with a stronger economy. The government’s conduct of the past economic policies and the handling of the Covid over the past few months have shown that it needs help to come out with better solutions to overcome the challenges that are to come in the next decade.

A stronger mandate for the government will not help, it has enjoyed a super-majority in Parliament for the past sixty years, but a National Resurgence Government (NRG) with the PAP still leading but assisted by a significant number of credible alternative MPs is a better way forward.

The NRG is urgently required for the following reasons:

1. We have to build a consensus to recoup some of the PMET jobs from foreigners to tide our unemployed PMET over this crisis.

2. We need to check on the use of reserves because big disbursements will continue to be required in the next few years. Besides the President, the alternative MPs will be an effective check. In particular, in the recent rescue budgets, we are concerned about the use of our reserves to prop up commercial property owners and payment to non-Singaporeans.

3. We want to draw up long term polices on the use of these reserves for Singaporeans and the economy to allow Singaporeans to plan for their future better. When millions of Singaporeans react proactively rather than waiting for goodies to be handed out each time, the combined positive economic effect will be huge. For example, JSS could be announced as a permanent policy for SME to develop skilled labour, Comcare could be doubled followed by a minimum living wage, public services should be changed to non-profit making and so on. This long term commitment will also require a national consensus.

4. When we reinstate our budget balance in the future, we have to be careful that we do not take the easy way out by increasing taxes including GST and income taxes.

5. We need to change our approach towards our economic transformation. A government-led approach has proven to be not be a workable solution.

All in all, other than asking for a stronger mandate, the PM’s speech did not contain any policy details on how are we going to emerge from the Covid crisis stronger but we look forward to more details from the speeches of the other ministers in due course.

You deserve better.

For Country, For People.

 

 

更强大的公民,不是更强大的政府

 

总理在今天下午730点的讲话听起来像是在要求人民给予政府更大的授权。 PSP坚信,以我们自独立以来多年积累下来的实力,新加坡将最终能克服冠状危机。 但是鉴于迄今为止政府应对冠状危机的表现不佳,能够多快控制局面,度过难关是一个疑问。

这场危机与我们过去经历的任何危机都不一样,因为它不仅需要财政资源来支持经济,而且还需要新加坡人调整其生活方式和转变其经济模式。不幸的是,我们的政府在这两个方面都表现不好。除了灌输焦虑和恐惧之外,政府从不帮助新加坡人制定长期财务计划和在工作与生活之间取得平衡。它还在研发和培育能力上花费了数十亿美元,但仍然无法转变经济。

在我们进入了危机时,其实我们已经历了二十年的经济管理失误,新加坡人的生活因失去PMET工作,新毕业生的工作和技能不匹配,持续高昂的租金和其他生活成本而变得非常紧张。尤其是下半部分的新加坡人,在危机袭来时因为积蓄很少,更本没有危机应付能力。在这种情况下,政府的1000亿美元救助资金在时间和数量上是远远不够的。

我们需要采取更果断的行动,以建立更强大的公民和经济。政府过去的经济政策以及过去几个月对冠状危机的处理表现证明,政府需要帮助,才能寻得更好的解决方案来克服未来十年的挑战。

加强政府的授权将无济于事,因为它在过去的60年中在议会中一直占有超级大多数。 让一个由人民行动党领导和相当人数的非行动党议员组成的国家振兴政府 (National Resurgence Government, NRG)将是一个更好的选择。理由如下:

1. 我们必须建立共识,从外国人那里收回一些PMET工作岗位,转给我们失业的PMET,帮助他们度过这场危机。

2. 我们需要检查储备金的用途,因为在未来几年中将继续需要大笔支出。除总统外,只有非行动党议员才能有效的检查。特别是在最近的救援预算中,我们对用储备金来支撑商业地产商以及向非新加坡人支付救援金的做法有异议。

3. 我们想使用这些储备金给新加坡人制定长期政策,以使新加坡人能够更好地计划自己的未来。当数以百万计的新加坡人做出积极反应,而不是每次都等待不定期的救援时,得到的积极经济影响将是巨大的。例如可以宣布以下长久政策:中小型企业发展熟练劳动力的JSS,加倍Comcare支付,设立最低生活工资,把公共服务改为非营利性,等等。这也长期政策也需要全国共识。

4. 当我们将来为了恢复预算平衡时,我们需要监督政府不要轻易增加包括商品及服务税和所得税在内的税收。

5. 我们需要改变实现经济转型的做法。事实证明,政府主导的方法是不可行的。

总而言之,除要求加强授权外,总理的讲话没有包含任何政策细节,以说明我们如何从冠状危机中走出来,变得更强大,我们只有期待从其他部长的讲话中获得更多细节了。

你理应得到更好的。

为国为民。

 

#pmspeech
#psp
#progresswithcompassion

 

Disclaimer:

The author of the above article writes in his own capacity with his views and opinion only to himself and are in no way a representation of the Party.

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