Armchair Politicians

Like the title suggests, a growing social media presence permits opinions, or nefarious jibes or what have you, to permeate the cyber-regions. If we so earnestly, arduously, passionately advocate for change, examining the policies of the opposition should be of utmost importance. After all, if you would cast your votes for the opposition, you would have a vested interest (instead of calling-for-change-for-the-sake-of-it/Nicole-vs-TPL kind of interest) in how they conduct their business. Let us look at one such policy,

Policy: Devaluing land

Would you then vote for a party with such a contentious proposition? I may not have the foresight of proven experts or veterans, but such a move to me is intuitively counter productive. In times of rising property prices, the policy may introduce systemic risk. It will signal that the rising prices were hallmarks of a bubble and devaluing land will inevitably send it 6 feet under.

One fundamental crux of attracting foreign investment lies in our political stability and its marriage with sound policies. You may or may not be contented with what our sovereign wealth funds are doing, but it doesn’t imply that a transition in power would automatically improve the positions of their investments. Suppose the devaluation of land show signs of materializing; you would immediately(at least in a semi-strong form market) see a market reaction in equity indexes relating to construction, property/REITS, and ultimately significantly dent the economy. Great news for home buyers who might have significantly more cash to design that lavish toilet, not so for systemic stability. Eroded investors’ confidence will slowly but surely phase in. Do expect to see a Bloomberg report on the impact on the reserves, and what it fundamentally spells for the economy.

For Singaporeans who are genuinely concerned with the direction of the nation, you are not alone. My allegiance is to sustainable and sound policies.

For the disgruntled, perhaps you would like to give up your growth dividends just to spite the government. After all, they were handed out by a party you would not like to see in power. You shouldn’t have to reap the benefits of a fiscal policy. A certain opposition held their meeting in a coffeeshop; by all means if it churns out ideas that would improve lives of the average citizen. But I suppose that wasn’t their primary agenda, because impression formation was. I have little interest being under the governance of such. Refunding TV license fees are popular, but provides no credible direction. Some of the policies are just laughable; at some point I expected Ashton Kutcher to appear when the opposition was giving it’s speech, and tell us we’ve been punk’d.

If you think rooting for the opposition demonstrates foresight and character (being defiant and such), think again. The elections are a perfect excuse for you to express dissent for the sunny island, no matter the choice of governance. Come 1st May 2011, there would be dissidents quietly pocketing that extra couple’o’hundred bucks. For the unfortunate peeps who fall into this category, petty jibes gets you nowhere. A better option would be to, A) emigrate or B) move your funds offshore.

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4 thoughts on “Armchair Politicians

  1. So you want to vote a corrupt government in is it? You see their performance for the past 5 years can liao. Increasing GST to “help” people,no accountability for issues like MSK and YOG,increasing their pay using tax payer’s money,open leg approach to immigration policy,the list goes on.

    You tell me why we all cannot take the growth dividend leh? This is tax payer’s money leh. I myself will give my growth dividend to opposition party. Anyway you got go and see opposition party manifestos bo? They never say they will devalue property price leh.

    If we all continue to have a government that is corrupt,lack transparency and never listen to the people hor,life will still go but it will be very hard one. Mai forget that your own CPF money is being locked up by them ok. It will surely be harder and harder to even touch your own money if they continue to increase the minimum sum and drawdown age.

    Also hor,they like to anyhow increase their own pay,how? They can easily earn $10k in a day,you can earn $10k in one month bo? I cannot see anything good they done to justify the huge salary wor.

    Last time they very good,I also will vote for them if you give me chance to vote last time. But now they no longer serve the people liao,so obvious they are only keen to serve themselves liao.

  2. Hi bro, maybe I should have made myself clear by stating it refers to the proposal to devalue HDB prices by WP, which will have an effect on surrounding properties.

    You started your sentence with a pre-conceived notion that the government is corrupt, and this dominates your thoughts and subsequent actions on an array of issues. No, I do not want to vote for a corrupted government, just one with sound and stable policies. Of course you can take the growth dividends; it doesn’t mean that they have to give it though (as with any succeeding parties). Do you understand why is your CPF money locked up? In a period not too long from now, we would face an outflow of funds from retirees simultaneously withdrawing their funds. We are one of the few countries with a compulsory savings scheme ala pension fund; without it you may never have gotten your HDB. Without a pool of funds there will not be any investments made on your behalf, or the interest you enjoy currently. Do you think we are ready for mass mortgage lending, if you would look at sub-prime mortgages.

    I am ill-informed about the manifestos admittedly. I am ill-informed on many subjects. However I am aware that much of the debate has been shrouded by the noise from the likes of people putting up incoherent arguments, such as yourself. I am not a fan of the GST, but economically I understand it is necessary. Every government taxes its people; if it isn’t done properly it may lead to dire consequences. Instead of bickering about having taxes, why not focus on making such taxation sustainable? Let’s say we remove taxes; the sovereign’s credit rating will immediately suffer because our government’s spending will not be sustainable.

    The MSK incident in my opinion is a mockery of our security system (I share your concerns), but rest assured that the threat of terrorism is real, heads have rolled and efforts will be stepped up. Global terrorism pervades this age; heads could roll for every screw-up but what we really need is education.

    I think the ruling party wouldn’t have anticipated such a backlash from the social network, and this coming election would be tightly contested. Ultimately, I think the collective vote will still go to the party with sound policies. If they can better manage our taxes, ERP or whatsoever without hurting growth, I’ll give my vote to them. If not, we would see the same issues the next election, in a state of economy worse than that of 2011.

    Thanks for the input friend!

  3. maybe you would like to have another closer look at the opposition manifesto. the idea of devaluing land is only for new hdb flats build, just to make new hdb flats affordable for future parents like you and i.

    here’s an abstract from WP’s sylvia lim:

    “She said the proposals are confined to new flats, which cater to a limited market, and so will have limited impact.

    The Workers’ Party said its proposal to price new flats according to median incomes will have a “minimum impact” on the resale market, because the resale market attracts not just first-time homebuyers.

    In addition, new HDB flats are subject to strict criteria before they can be bought and sold, which limits the spillover effect on resale prices.”

    i do agree that we shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds us. pap is probably one of the best government in the world, delivering most of what they promise and giving back to the people. but the problem is, there has been increasingly more lapses in pap’s policies, ministers who can’t connect with people and singapore has one of the world’s largest income gap, just to name a few.

    pap has brought singapore to what she is today, but which party was it that increased the vehicle population for the past ten years, resulting in today’s perpetual traffic jams that need to have more erp gantries erected and coe reduced? which party was it that failed preempt the astronimical rise in demand for hdb flats, and leading to people balloting 14 times before getting a flat? you might not have friends who are applying for flats, but people around me are, and they are not choosy, 14 tries? that is 2 years plus another 6 months for necessary arrangements and renovation. and i thought we are serious about pro-natal policies, by the time people move in, they are already in their mid career, unwilling to have babies, contributing to lower birth rate. of course this is not the only reason for declining birth rates, but we need to deal with every possible cause.

    i’m not anti-pap, i just think they need more humility and admit their mistakes and take in SOME of the good suggestions by the opposition. i would vote for the opposition to send a signal to pap on what i feel.

    on top of that, do you know that the party with 2/3 of the seats in parliament would be able to change the constitution at their will? although the president can veto this, his power is only restricted to the same bill twice, which means on the 3rd time, with 2/3 of the parliament agreeing, the parliament can actually override the president’s veto and change the constitution without the president’s approval. the pap has change the constitution, like introducing the grc system, changing it’s size overtime, with their majority in parliament. can you imagine if one day they decide to change our constitution and work it to their benefit? therefore we need at least a third of the parliament to be in the opposition’s hands, so they can vote down any unfair changes to the constitution, providing a check on the ruling party.

    note: law and constitution is different. law requires only half of the parliament’s agreement to be signed into law, and constitution changes require 2/3s of the parliament to be signed into law. therefore what ms indranee rajah said about the opposition blocking good policies being signed into law is unwarranted, as the pap would definitely have more than enough majority to sign anything into law. but we definitely need someone to protect the constitution.

  4. Hi Shaun, your insights were most valuable. Just to reiterate, I am not pro-PAP either. My concern stems from silly arguments, parodies (some distasteful) that are currently floating around the internet.

    I’ll still stand my ground on the HDB issue, I wouldn’t take affordability at the expense of a housing collapse. If we should scrutinize policies, I wouldn’t suggest we take Sylvia Lim’s assurance at face value. It would be rather difficult to value such a flat, should be it resold. Still, I am sure there will be better proposals, and it might be an opposition that will eventually come up with it. Perhaps the final cost of a HDB could be pegged to the number of children a couple would eventually have (with a ceiling). I myself am looking to be a future home owner.

    I do share your concerns on a homogeneous parliament; it would keep the ruling party on their toes. Again, the party with sound and stable policies will get my vote, because I believe that is what is sustainable in the long run. I wouldn’t disagree with what anybody had said just for the sake of it (one of the reasons why I had decided to say something on politics). If you would believe me, no matter who the government is, it is the people who will keep them in check, if the lessons from Egypt-Libya were any indication at all. The opposition should be in the parliament because they have good policies, not solely to keep the ruling majority in check. The ruling majority would then be kept on their toes, not because of the opposition’s mere presence, but because they might potentially have good policies that would swing the momentum in their favor. Any blatant unfair changes to the constituency will see nothing short of an uprising, if we take lessons from history. However, I don’t believe the average Singaporean is going to go all the way just to see an ends to a mean, because all in all they were still recipients of some very credible policies. Informed (knowledge about pricing externalities, taxes) changes can be made; nobody gets in right in the lifespan of an election.

    Still, it was great to have your input; I thought my entry would be in some dark recess of cyberspace. Cheers 🙂

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