Sunday, November 19

11/19/2006 08:48:00 PM

I am Singapura

Cartoon Version of "We live in Singapura"


::::::::::[Bernard Chen Jiaxi]::::::::

11/19/2006 08:05:00 PM

Sadly, we have no ideas

How many times have you heard these remarks?

"We can't do that."

"Your idea is stupid. Don't waste our time."

"It does not make any sense."

"We already know that. Don't reinvent the wheel."

Ever since 1959, the PAP has one way or the other employed the tactic of rooting out the creativity juices of Singaporeans or denying Singaporeans the opportunity to really voice out their opinions. This has subtly created a sense of fear among the populace of speaking up against the administration and its policies.

Why fear? Fear is paralysing.The fear of being judged, looking stupid, being wrong or feeling like a failure can take away all your creativity energy and conviction.

The PAP feel threatened by new ideas. They tend to promote an environment in which Singaporeans do their jobs and nothing more. This atomsphere hinders creativity and induces fear in Singaporeans, thereby hampering the chances of the opposition to grow and diversify.

What is stopping Singaporeans to voice out?

1. No sense of personal responsibility - I don't feel responsible/ rooted to the future of Singapore

2. Fear - If I contribute new ideas, people might think I am a troublemaker.

3. The usual soultions - PAP has always delivered what it promises, thus I should adopt a conventional approach in solving problems.

4. Narrow-minded peer acceptance - The people around me are not open to new/ wild ideas.

5. Red tape - I don't bring up my ideas because my ideas would violate the PAP's policies and procedures.

6. Bipolar thinking - I look at 2 alternatives. I thrive in terms of an 'either-or' solution.

What I think the PAP should do.

The PAP should lighten up and give Singaporeans the green light to do the same. It does not follow that just because the issue discussed is important, everyone needs to be serious and obeyed the rules. A little bit of humour and flexibility goes a long way.

The PAP leadership should adopt the corporate mantra from the highest echleon to the lowest in tha party: "I am open minded. I have good ideas. I am a creative problem solver. I want to break boundaries."

They should change their established ways of thinking and allow flashes of inspiration to come. Like any new skill and effort, becoming more creative takes time and effort. The same applies for creating a politically conscious population.

This is what I would suggest to the PAP.

1. Liberalise the mainstream media. Allow ideas and opposing viewpoints to flourish.

2. Allow schools to form political clubs and associations where the interests of the school populace is fought and national issues debated. Political organisations should be allowed entry into educational institutions.

3. Lower Voting age to 18. (Singapore is one of the only few countries where the legal voting age is fixed at 21)

4. Membership age to join any political party should be lowered to 15.

Political consciousness and awareness and eventually politcal creativity is not just the domain of a talented few. It can be fostered and revived. You just need to start working on it right now.

But the fundamental obstacle is this: Singapore still lacked a just and magnanimous ruling party. Elitism more than anything else I suppose.


::::::::::[Bernard Chen Jiaxi]::::::::

Monday, November 13

11/13/2006 11:43:00 PM

Goods & Services Tax

Updated: December 27, 2006 20 08 hrs

Goods & Services Tax

I am committed to seeing a flexible GST policy, whereby each citizen will contribute accordingly to their level of prosperity and progress in society.

I recognize the intrinsic problems faced by the Singapore society in the next 10 to 30 years, of which the yawning income gap between the rich and the poor and an aging population are of my top priorities.

Thus, from my perspective, the implementation of GST is a sound one as it provides the government with the financial resources to strengthen the existing social welfare programmes already in place, thereby enhancing the social safety nets to assist the low-income groups, with the intention to close the widening income gap.

Furthermore, financial resources are needed to conduct medical research and development, to build health care infrastructures, and to finance the increasingly costly medical bills of Singaporeans.

In the light of all these, it is crucial that the government receives healthy levels of revenues through the implementation of GST.

I support the notion of implementing a GST policy with a rate of between 3 to 10% and reject the call to abolish/ waiver GST on basic necessities. Basic necessities as well as luxury items should be taxed.

However, I beg to differ from the government proposal to keep GST at 7% across the board.

My Beliefs

Goods and Services Tax tend to be regressive in nature, more so if the bulk of the indirect taxes are on basic necessities. This will adversely affect the attempt to redistribute income more equally between the rich and the poor. However, if indirect taxes are imposed substantially on luxuries goods or goods which constitute more of a want than a need, then they are progressive in nature.

Increases to the Goods and Services Tax may be inflationary as well. They add on to the prices of goods and services, which may then spark off a wage spiral, and hence cost-push inflation. In the light of rising international oil prices, this will increase the financial burden on the lower-income groups, further eroding their spending power and subsequently affecting their standard of living.

Moreover, as the Singapore population ages, fewer people will be working to support an increasingly aging population. To reduce the tax burden of the working adults, a flexible indirect tax system is required.

Social safety nets and/ or welfare programmes aren’t really effective in assisting the lower-income groups on a permanent basis. More often than not, it is the lower-income groups that are bearing a large proportion of the tax burden.

My Proposals

1. To adopt a flexible GST structure. I propose a tax structure whereby both basic necessities and luxury goods will be taxed.

2. I, however propose that all basic necessities will be taxed at a rate of 3% while keeping the tax rate for luxury items at a consistent rate of 7% as proposed by the government.

3. What constituted a basic necessity and what does not will be determined by a special panel made up of government ministers, representatives from the various political parties, welfare help-groups, and more importantly, the general public.

4. In order to cope with the possible fall in revenue that the government might face in implementing 2 different tax rates, I also would like to see the government raising the tax rate for cigarettes and alcohol consumption to offset the impact of implementing a 3% tax rate on basic necessities.

5. This is in line with the inclusive society that the government has in mind as such a flexible tax structure alleviates the burden of the lower-income groups on a daily basis and at the same time, providing increased financial resources to assist the lower-income groups, thereby, reducing the widening income gap in Singapore society. More importantly, it provides an effective, feasible and long term solution to the income gap problem faced by the Singapore society.

6. All in all, each citizen contributes to the national coffers on a fair, equal and distributive basis, according to their financial status and needs in the economy.

Articles online:
2 GST rates are better than one
Progressive GST anyone?


::::::::::[Bernard Chen Jiaxi]::::::::

11/13/2006 12:53:00 AM

What's the real story?

I chanced upon the entry on Singapore Alternatives( ) . Singapore Alternatives happens to be Goh Meng Seng's own personal Blog. I thought there was a need to made known his opinion exposing the fallacies in the Sunday Times Report on both his resignation & Mr Chia Ti Lik's resignation from the Workers' Party.(What's the Story? November 12, 2006, Sunday). Once again we see the inaccurate and bias reporting of the mainstream media.

What's the Story?

I am amazed by the imagination that the reporters have when they write the "hot story" about Workers' Party with regards to Tilik's and my resignation. First of all, I must clarify again, two factual errors:

1) The report suggested that Salim bought the 'cheng tng' for the SDP protestors:

" Along with some other young WP members, he bought some cold cheng tng for Dr Chee and comrades, a gesture that was highlighted, with thanks, on the SDP website.
The cheng tng overture received an icy reception from the WP leaders."

As far as I know, it was Melvin Tan that bought the cheng tng, not Salim. I think ST reporters will have to keep up the 'high standards' that MM Lee has set for them, at least to be factually accurate in their reporting.

2) Secondly, the article seems to indicate that my resignation got to do with:

a) the internet guideline
b) the 'jockeying among young members' eyeing for the 'A' team.

One of the reporter that I spoke to even ask me whether my resignation got to do with my move from NEAC (where the Aljunied GRC is included) to CAC. I hereby reiterate that my resignation is a simple resignation for a simple but important reason, accountability. It is on my own initiative to request a shift from NEAC to CAC for strategic and tactical reason that I am not going to reveal.

Furthermore, I have resigned even before I know about the details of the internet guideline. Thus, it is impossible for me to make decision based on something that I was not even aware of in the first place!

As far as I know, there are no signs of "jockeying" among young members for a bigger role within the party. In fact, most younger (in age) senior party members have decided to step down from positions in the Youth Wing willingly so to let young and new members to take up more responsiblities within the party. Melvin, Tilik, Shin Leong and I have voluntarily stepped down from Youth Wing positions and did not take part in the Youth Wing Council re-election process! Most importantly, we come to the same decision without even the need to consult each other! We are all very happy that the party has grown in strength and that there are many more people willing to take up our positions in the Youth Wing. We are not 'power crazy' at all but in fact, altruistic in all sense. We understand our visions, missions and roles very well.

It is unfortunate that Tilik and I have decided to resign for two very different reasons. Some may think these are insignificant reasons or even "laughable", but to us, these are not small matters. It is a matter of principles and convictions. And to suggest that either Tilik or I resigned due to 'power struggle' would be grossly inappropriate and insulting to us. We have come a long way and decided to join Workers' Party when it was at its lowest point in recent history. It is definitely not power, fame nor any materialistic gains that motivated us to join Workers' Party at its weakest point. It is just pure passion, beliefs and convictions that bring us together in Workers' Party. If it is about power or better prospects of gaining power, fame or materialistic gains, we would not have chosen Workers' Party; Tilik would not have quitted PAP to join Workers' Party.

We have come together, work together, trying our very best to develop and build up the party, right from its lowest point. I feel that it is really insulting to us for people even suggest that we resigned due to 'power struggle'. Ironically, this would be the most 'laughable' reason in our persepective!

I would rather people see our reasons for resigning from Workers' Party mistakenly as 'trivial' or 'laughable' than being insulted in such crude way.

Goh Meng Seng


::::::::::[Bernard Chen Jiaxi]::::::::

Sunday, November 12

11/12/2006 10:15:00 PM

Resignation of Chia Ti Lik from the WP CEC

As we all now know, the Workers’ Party Central Executive Council (CEC) has just passed a new regulation curtailing CEC members’ Internet activities, prompting the resignation of Chia Ti Lik, the leader for the WP’s team for East Coast GRC during the last elections.

This was what Mr Chia had to say about the new regulation passed by the CEC.

“I think the party leadership is overly conservative. Some might say that it’s about being cautious. But I think sometimes you can be too cautious, shy away from important issues, and you don’t perform as an opposition should”

He further argued, “The opposition at the moment does not live up to its role. It is too silent or too restrained in its criticism of the Government.”

With all due respect to Mr Chia, I do not really agree with what he said.

From my little knowledge of politics in Singapore, I would like to offer my 1 cent worth of opinion.

I do not agree with the Mr Chia’s statement that the opposition shy away from important issues. Since the end of the elections in May, the Workers' Party had addressed at least 4 major issues affecting Singaporeans through its press releases. Notwithstanding that, the Workers’ Party, I believed had also voiced out strongly in the casino issue, issues on taxes, utilities, and even the political process.

I can understand the cautious nature that the Workers’ Party is taking. Basically, the party is learning from past experiences encountered by the opposition. The PAP will pounce at any opportunity to discredit the opposition and make them look really awful in the eyes of the public. More often than not, the words and comments of opposition personalities have been taken out of context by the PAP, which in turn pave the way for the eventual demise of the opposition. Francis Seow in 1988, Tang Liang Hong in 1991, Ling How Doong during one of his parliament speeches, Chee Soon Juan and more recently James Gomez.

Essentially, the leadership of the Workers’ Party is trying to prevent a repeat of what happened to the SDP in the aftermath of the 1991 elections. SDP was in a sense, quite similar to the WP in 1991. Riding on their successes during the ’91 elections, they became bold, too bold for the liking of the PAP, which eventually brought about their downfall ever since.

Furthermore, with the internet emerging as a potent yet unknown political tool, every party including the Workers’ Party is still figuring out the correct and proper strategy to cope with the internet, so as to fully utilizing it to their advantage. I would not be surprised that the new regulations passed by the WP CEC are a temporary one. Even the ruling party is pouring in large sums of money to understand and research on the internet and its proper utilization.

From this perspective, it can be seen that the party is outward looking, with an eye for the future, contrary to what Mr Chia said about the conservative nature of the leadership. Imagine this. If the WP were to allow its CEC members to freely voice out their opinions before they fully grasped the nature of the internet and the amount of harm it can do to the party as a whole, it will be too reckless on the part of the leadership, which might in turn, given all the institutional and structural obstacles placed by the PAP government, lead to the demise of the party with the most potential to brand itself as the alternative to the PAP.

I thus applaud the Workers’ Party and its leadership for its foresight and humility in learning from past experiences. Essentially, the WP do not oppose for the sake of opposing. Rather, they seek to be relevant and constantly presenting their own point of view, but definitely not at the expense of their survival. Most definitely not at the expense of presenting Singaporeans with a credible and worthy alternative choice.


::::::::::[Bernard Chen Jiaxi]::::::::

11/12/2006 10:07:00 PM

WP Vs the Mass Media

The Workers' Party was recently hit by the resignation of two members from the Central Executive Council (CEC), lawyer Chia Ti Lik & businessman Goh Meng Seng. Does it hint of trouble in the party?

Since the end of the 2006 elections in May, the Workers’ Party has not managed to hit the headlines or at least the front page of the Straits Times until today. Lo and behold, the news on the resignation of the two CEC members took up one entire page of the Sunday Times today.

What it goes to highlight is this. From my perspective, it highlights and reminded me once again of the extreme biasness of the government controlled print and broadcast media, essentially, the mass media. We could once again see from this little episode that the tentacles of the ruling government in the mass media are so prevalent and all-consuming.

If one were to read the exclusive 1 page report on the WP today, it gives readers the impression that there is huge differences in opinions among the CEC members and more importantly, an ongoing power struggle within the party; jockeying for position among younger party members for bigger roles in the party’s activities and possibly future election lineups.

The report will inevitably tarnish the image and credibility that the party has painstakingly built up during the course of the 2006 election. I quote from the Sunday Times, “During the election, the opposition party had impressed the public and observers with its discipline and unity”. The growing belief of a strong, honest, credible alternative party to the PAP is slowly emerging. Thus, it is of little wonder that any little issues within the party will be played up by the media.

I see it as an attempt to derail all the positive publicity and political mileage that the Workers’ Party had gained in the aftermath of the 2006 elections.

I would like to pose the following questions to the editors of the Straits Times.

1. Why was a domestic issue within the WP given more attention than national issues? (Ms Sylvia Lim & Mr. Low Thia Khiang’s speech in parliament)

2. From the website of the Workers’ Party, I understand that they are not lazing around after the elections, contrary to what the PAP would like us to believe. Usually there will be a public outreach at least once a week. In this case, why was there no single report on the weekly public outreach of the Workers’ Party?

Surely, the Workers’ Party warrant more positive publicity that negative news?

Surely, the Workers’ Party warrant equal coverage with the PAP, since the Workers’ Party is unofficially recognized as the largest and strongest opposition party in Singapore?

That brings me to the 3rd question that I would like to pose to the editiors of ST. What is the hidden agenda behind this attention grabbing report?

I do believe that Singaporeans like you and me know the answer to all my questions. I rest my case.


::::::::::[Bernard Chen Jiaxi]::::::::

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Idea behind the Revolution

A brief history about the author pertaining to the theme of shadow of transcendence.

It came about in the wee hours of the early morning while being whisked away into memories of the past etched deep within the mind. Bittersweetness that tingled the tastebuds of his emotions and feelings, the only way out for true LIBERATION from this reality is what is behind the shadow of transcendence. Revolution, the taste of iron-rust blood coiled with the lingering bittersweetness is the only contemplation of which the simplicity of life has to offer in exchange for the shadow of transcendence.

Enjoy what i make out of maturity and the urge to eradicate the appalling lack of a national identity and political apathy among Singaporeans and more importantly, serves as a tool to awake and rouse the tendencies for political change among Singaporeans.


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