Hri Kumar’s and the PAP’s Unconstructive Politics.
On 18 June Hri Kumar, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Senior Counsel, put up a post on his Facebook page presenting me in a false and wholly negative light in an attempt to damage my credibility and both my personal and professional integrity. Although he failed on all counts. He titled this post “Disruptive Politics” and ended his post with the words “Singapore is our home – we must come together to build it, not destroy it”,
This harping on the theme of Destructive and Constructive may ring a bell with Singaporeans. It echoes the words used to smear the late JBJ in a so-called letter of condolence. to my brother and I except that ‘demolish’ these day is replaced with “destroy”. In that letter the PM claimed that JBJ’s intentions were “to demolish the PAP and our system of government” which didn’t help to build up a “constructive opposition” . Put aside the fact that the PAP of the Lee’ family seems to have some kind of grudge and vendetta and think about that allegation. If the PAP’s system of government is to rubber stamp laws and policies with no real debate and to manage our taxpayer’s money with no real transparency and accountability then maybe it is a system that should be demolished. Demolished to make room for a better system. You will also note how they throw the same accusations at Catherine Lim. In the PAP’ system any intellectually honest person who may want to join the conversation is branded as being disruptive.
The opposite of constructive is actually unconstructive (not disruptive) and its simplest meaning is ‘unhelpful’ or “providing no assistance”Those of you who watched the video of Hri Kumar at the forum dodging a simple question from me will agree there could be no better definition of his behaviour. Unhelpful. Providing no assistance.
Anyone who saw how his khaki manhandled that 76 yr old retired teacher in an attempt to remove her physically from the conversation will see how disruptive he is.
I found the MP’s midnight post on Facebook and manner of writing to be histrionic and his content less than convincing. It was a strange way to behave. If Mr Kumar feels I have represented his arguments falsely then he needs to sue me for defamation in open court not go back and harp on the old Lee obsessions with using knuckle duster tactics on voices of dissent.
For my part I am not going to bring myself down to his level or use his behaviour, as a model. There is nothing constructive about arguing in a, ‘he said/I said’ manner.
To stoop to name-calling is not behaviour worthy of a Member of Parliament either. But no matter, I feel very strongly that the more the PAP resort to calling me a ‘liar’ the closer I must have got to the truth.
Hri Kumar deals with several points where he says I have misquoted him. I never claimed to be giving a verbatim report. Mr Kumar was showcasing PAP policy and I dealt in general with the arguments advanced by the PAP at the forum. These arguments therefore also apply to Hri Kumar unless he operates an independent and separate micro-economy exclusively in Thompson-Toa Payoh.
There is nothing to rebut there as Hri Kumar fails to tell us what he did actually say. to take but one example. Nobody is impressed by the SC’s argument that the never said “Singaporeans are “lightly taxed” but instead said “Singaporeans pay lower taxes”, and uses this as a reason to call me dishonest.
I stand firmly by my 8 (intellectually) dishonest things and furthermore feel it is a vital component of the CPF debate.
To take another response, I touched on CPF’s safe AAA rating. Hri Kumar announced in bold, “ I did not say that.” So what did he say? He doesn’t tell us. What are the citizens to conclude? That CPF is not AAA rated and safe?
Repeatedly saying, I did not say that without further elucidation is the most unconstructive method of presenting an argument that I have ever seen. People all over Singapore are wondering what he is insinuating.
Hri Kumar’s lack of response and the government’s response in general have been so unconstructive as to rattle citizens already suspicious of government’s motives in holding back their money.
Enough. The people have had their fill of this mixture of half truths, oversimplifications, falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda.
They do not want the minimum sum to be raised and they are not swallowing the government’s rationale for raising it.
In fact they do not see why the government needs to keep any of their money beyond 55. This is not a question of taxpayers having to foot the bill because people are living longer. The CPF is purely self-funded. What right does the government have to keep our money because some of us are living longer? What next? The government takes all our salaries and gives us a weekly allowance based on some criteria like how likely we are to use it wisely.
Is it so surprising that the citizens would take that leap and begin to wonder if their money is just not there anymore?
The whole rationale for the PAP regime is prudent financial management. The citizens are beginning to lose trust in that claim. They are losing trust in the PAP and its system of government. The people have every right to demand to know where their money is, how it is being used, where it is ending up and how much of it remains in the coffers. An elected government has a duty and an obligation to be transparent over fiduciary management and to explain that in a manner that is accessible, easy to understand and demonstrable.
There is a video of the forum that shows me asking questions about the Budget figures put up on a slide that Hri Kumar presented as part of the Forum. It is clear that Hri Kumar avoids answering my question. He dodges it with the flippant remark that I should put up my own figures. I was an attendee at Hri Kumar’s forum not he an attendee at mine. The figures being questioned were those being presented by Hri Kumar on a slide on behalf of the government. If he were an intern of mine and was unable to answer a question on his own slide, in his own presentation, then I would be extremely concerned. Mr Kumar is a public servant.
Mr Kumar and his government, as with all governments, Must comply with their transparency obligations. Openness and transparency can only strengthen people’s trust in government. He has failed in his duty.
It is of great concern that Hri Kumar is attempting to paint genuine resident participation in the forum/farce as some kind of plot by organised agitators. This suggests the PAP are still blind to their predicament. It is clearly audible in the video that Hri Kumar refers to “my friends”. On his Facebook post he again refers to “we allowed him and his supporters in”. This is simply not true. I have irrefutable evidence and witnesses to say that I attended on my own. Those angry people at the forum were all unknown to me. If the PAP truly believe that all dissent at that forum was pre-organised by me in some kind of conspiracy or possible Marxist plot then they are in serious trouble indeed.
There was only one person really known to me. besides Ariffin who invited me and this was Abdul Malik. Malik was previously with PKMS and SDP and had hit the headlines when he was arrested for online threats against the PAP and then later applied to become a member of the PAP. If anyone deserves the moniker “Disruptive”it is he and his invitation was personally condoned by Hri Kumar.
No Party members attended. No friends of mine attended. I attended not as a party member but independently, in my capacity as a Singaporean at the age when I would like to withdraw my CPF funds and therefore deeply interested in this topic. It is common wherever I go that complete strangers will come up and want to shake my hand as was the case with the line of charming retired nurses. This seems to have unnerved Hri Kumar.
I feel sorry for Mr Kumar but he must accept that the CPF Minimum Sum is a national issue. Kumar and the political party that he represents need to understand that this objection to the raising of the Minimum Sum is not some secret conspiracy but a genuine and spontaneous public outcry. I can understand that the PAP are rattled that the aims of civil society and political society are starting to intersect and that they may be dealing with a mass movement. People at that forum were very angry indeed and wanted their questions to be answered not brushed aside.
The PM can be as unconstructive as he wishes and sue as many bloggers as he chooses but he will not be able to stop people asking the questions. He has stepped into a media death spiral and if he is not careful he will find himself replaying a pivotal scene from the movie Spartacus. Already Singaporeans en masse have stepped forward to say, “I am Roy”, just as the slaves stepped forward to say, ” I am Spartacus.” They have donated over S$100,000 to aid Roy to defend the PM’s defamation suit against him.
I am grounded in reality, economics and numbers. I am on record as saying that Roy got his assumptions and figures wrong. I have criticised Chris Balding for double counting and other mistakes. They make leaps for which there is no evidence. However I am still an absolute supporter of Roy because the crux of the matter is that we will all benefit from the answers. Coming from the world of finance and investment, I know only too well the risks that lack of transparency brings.
Like all of us I merely want to see a fairer and better Singapore, a free and dynamic Singapore and a Singapore that delivers prosperity to all not just a chosen few and I believe this can be achieved in an entirely constructive manner. Hri Kumar titled his post “Disruptive Politics” as though asking questions is disruptive. In a robust democracy the voices of ordinary people are not seen as disruptive but as a signpost to a better way for all. It is wholly unconstructive to suppress dissent and wholly constructive to hold the government to account.
The PAP MUST open up the books to scrutiny. In the end it is a political question not an economic one and it will ultimately be decided at the next election.