National Day Message 2018Published: 9th August 2018
My fellow Singaporeans,
There are not many of you who can have failed to notice the momentous results across the Causeway. After 61 years of one-party rule, Malaysians kicked out the incumbents and elected a new Government led by former PM Mahathir Mohammed. While Mahathir was an authoritarian ruler during his previous time as PM, the major part of his Pakatan Harapan coalition are the long-time Opposition parties, the PKR led by Anwar Ibrahim’s wife, Wan Azizah, and the DAP.
For those of you who might not be aware the PKR (or People’s Justice Party) started as the Reformasi Movement in 1998 after Anwar Ibrahim was arrested and jailed by Mahathir. The Reformasi Movement called for total reform of Malaysia’s institutions to stamp out corruption, cronyism and nepotism and for the restoration of basic rights and freedoms including an end to restrictions on the media.
When our founder, JBJ, started a new political party, he chose to call it the Reform Party in solidarity with the Malaysian Opposition and reformers, many of whom were his friends. Reform Party also called for thorough reform of Singapore’s governance, in particular the restoration of an independent judiciary and making the Executive accountable to Parliament. It also called for the restoration of our basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
On our 53rd National Day, Singaporeans should reflect on the wakeup call from Malaysia. Long accustomed to state media propaganda to regard our Malaysian friends with contempt, we now find ourselves well behind Malaysia when it comes to freedom and democracy. If the new Malaysian government carries out its promised reforms, then we will find ourselves far behind on transparency and accountability as well.
While Singaporeans may feel that there’s no corruption, cronyism or nepotism in Singapore, the truth is that cronyism and nepotism are rife. For evidence of the latter look no further than the fact that the PM has appointed his wife to be head of Temasek, on remuneration that the Government refuses to disclose but is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Lee Hsien Loong’s son also works for him in the Prime Minister’s Office. We can be sure that the delays in announcing the new 4th Generation Leadership are because LHL wants to ensure that his son is in place to succeed whoever is chosen as the interim Regent.
While there may be no overt evidence of corruption among our rulers the truth is that we just do not know and the Government makes sure that we cannot find out. Even a figure as basic as the real Budget surplus is completely opaque. The fact that the PM is Chairman of GIC while his wife is head of Temasek should set off alarm bells. (by way of contrast Najib was merely an adviser to 1MDB and look what he was allegedly able to get away with!) The PM also controls the CPIB so is unlikely ever to be investigated.
No one knows the real value of the Government’s assets but since it owns 80-90% of the land in Singapore as well as the net assets of Temasek, GIC and MAS, it could be as much as $2 trillion! Dividing that among the number of Singapore resident households (the data for citizens is not available) gives a figure of over $1.6 million per household. We should find some way to redistribute the Government’s excessive wealth to Singaporeans. Reform Party wants to give Singaporeans the freehold of their HDB to avoid the fast approaching doomsday scenario where everyone’s leases revert to the Government when the 99 years is up and at a stroke there is a massive wealth transfer from Singaporeans to the Government. This makes a nonsense of the PAP’s claim that Singapore has one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world and of the fake promises from LKY and his son to give you an appreciating asset.
Most Singaporeans may be content with their lot and happy to collect a few hundred dollars in freebies and extra CPF every year. However for those who see what’s happened in Malaysia and want change, Reform Party will continue to press the Government and fight for a better future for Singaporeans. We would like to replace the PAP with a new Government that will be accountable to you and not controlled by a narrow elite of oligarchs and property billionaires, foremost among which are the Lee family. However we have realised we cannot do this alone. Following the Malaysian example we have agreed to form a coalition with other Opposition parties who genuinely desire to replace the PAP with a new Government. We hope that Dr Tan Cheng Bock will act as the figurehead to unite the Opposition behind him at the next election.
All we need is your support. So on this National Day 2018, make the decision, as JBJ said before his death 10 years ago, to “Cast off the slumber into which you have been led for the last 50 years, wake up to your rights as a human being, to your proper role as citizens of this country.” Give life to the pledge to build a democratic society based on justice and equality that you recited every day in school. Or not and continue to be slaves in your own country.