Fake News Again From Lee Hsien Loong
An election is just around the corner and the economy is in recession or very close to it. Despite the latest figures from our non-independent Statistics Department housed within the Ministry of Trade and Industry showing that we dodged a technical recession in the third quarter, falling retail sales and imports tell a different story. Like China, the economy is probably already experiencing negative growth.
Lee Hsien Loong and his highly paid Ministers certainly do not have any answers to the slump in global trade. He is quick to say is beyond his Government’s control but strangely he claims credit for the decades of growth that propelled Singapore’s rise. Meanwhile instead of having answers he recycles the same old PAP myths and fake news.
This was evident in his speech to the NTUC Delegates’ Conference yesterday. The NTUC, which dates back to 1961, was the PAP-controlled successor to the original Singapore Trades Union Congress while its independent competitor, the Singapore Association of Trade Unions was shut down and its leaders detained in 1963. Since then it has acted, not as a champion of workers’ rights but as just another facet of the PAP’s control of all aspects of life and work in Singapore. Instead of championing workers’ rights it has just become another commercial enterprise with the edges blurred between Government and PAP ownership. It has expanded into many areas of consumer business including food retailing (NTUC Fairprice), where it is the dominant player with over 30% of the market, financial services (NTUC Income), consumer healthcare retail and transport (Comfort Delgro), preschool education (where it and the PAP Community Foundation have a large share of the market and benefit from Government subsidies). Between Temasek and NTUC the PAP control most areas of the economy.
The head of NTUC is a Government minister. The CEO of Fairprice is a PAP MP and the board are made up mostly of PAP MPs and statutory board and GLC employees. I remember from my dad’s WP rallies in the 1970s the initials were aptly said to stand for Never Trust (A) Union Chief. Four of the 12 members of NTUC’s Central Committee are PAP MPs and one is an ex-NMP, so effectively PAP. So when LHL talks about strengthening the bond “between the PAP and NTUC leadership” he is spouting fake news and disinformation as usual. NTUC IS a PAP- infiltrated and controlled organisation just like most organisations in Singapore.
There is nothing “tripartite” about the relationship between workers, the Government and business, much of which is state or PAP-owned. NTUC had nothing to say about the abolition of the right to strike in 1969 nor has it done anything to campaign for a minimum wage which was absolutely necessary if Singaporeans’ living standards were not to be eroded by low wage competition given the easy access to cheap foreign labour given to our employers. Neither has it campaigned for workers’ rights.
The rest of Lee Hsien Loong’s speech was the usual falsehoods, rewriting of history and fake news about other countries. During downturns Singaporean workers have suffered as their wages have been cut while the PM, his family and cronies continue to accumulate massive wealth. It is offensive to suggest that everyone is in the same boat when Lee Hsien Loong refuses to tell us what his wife earns, leaving Singaporeans in the dark as to whether it is billions or only hundreds of millions. Workers in high income countries are not left to fend for themselves but receive unemployment benefit and other social safety nets which are denied to Singaporean workers despite the enormous surplus of $30-40 billion which the Government has been making year after year since at least 2000. The reason why Singapore has no populist movement is that Lee Hsien Loong controls all the media (and the election machinery and the judiciary and so on ad infinitum) and ruthlessly crushes or neutralises any critics by suing them or shutting down alternative news sites. Adopting the SOP of a totalitarian dictatorship he has co-opted a significant segment of the educated, including the majority of what passes for Opposition, by sharing or holding out some of the spoils. Tharman, a friend of exiled Singaporean dissidents in his student days, is a fairly typical example.
Rather than peddling myths and fairy stories, Lee Hsien Loong should answer the questions that he is dodging just as cynically as he did when he appeared against my dad in the 1988 debate on the Elected Presidency. Just that now he uses his power to make sure that he does not have to answer the questions. Will this election finally force him to?