Fuck your Fare Hike Speech

Before I start my speech, I would like to say I believe protests are useless. The PAP have and will never listen to Singaporeans. The fare hike for this year will continue, and so will the fare hike for next year. We people will still pay, no matter how many people protest in this little speaker’s corner. But, that does not mean we do not resist and simply bend over. In Singapore, justice and freedom have been taken for granted. Most people here do not fight for their own rights, they are selfish and ignorant. Even though they serve National Service, they are not patriotic. They see themselves as loyal subjects of a monarchy and they do not appreciate democracy. This is the main reason why I am leaving Singapore, I am not proud to be a Singaporean either.

Ok so why the fare hike?

Firstly, we look at the nature SMRT and SBS . Like any publicly listed companies, their duty is to maximize the revenue and lower the cost so they can have a good margin to pay dividends to their shareholders. However, unlike any company in the private sector, SMRT and SBS are not competitors. They have a monopoly over the public transport. Unlike the private sector, you do not see different buses and trains running the same route and providing the same  services. Transport fares are determined and endorsed by the PAP government. This is not right. When privatized, SMRT and SBS should no longer get to enjoy the benefits of nationalization. However the lame excuse by the PAP government for the fare hike is that the two companies are facing financial constraints. This is utter bullshit. Anyone can just go to their respective website and download their annual reports. You will see that the two companies have been consistently making tens of millions of net profits every single year, recession or not. Just last year alone, SMRT made $80 million in net profit while SBS made $18 million in net profit. According to the Public Transport Council, this coming fare hike will further increase SMRT’s revenue by another $17.5 million and SBS’s profit by $36 million. Truth being told, there is no financial justification for this fare hike. The two companies are anywhere but bankrupt. The fare hike do not address the disparity between profit and fare price. Of course by now you should know who the fare hike is actually serving. Shareholders. And yes we are talking about the Singapore sovereign wealth fund company Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd here. The company who borrows cheaply from our CPF money at a very low interest rate to make huge profits in the private sector…

corr profits

So coming back to the fare hike.

3 years ago in 2011, the PAP claimed that nationalization of public transport will result in inefficiency and higher costs [Source]. These were the exact words Lui Tuck Yew said:
“the profit incentive of commercial enterprises is a more viable option as it promotes efficiency and productivity improvements.”

Fast forward 3 years today, what do we see? Severe inconvenience from overcrowding and increase in train breakdowns. People are walking on the tracks to get to their destination, is this Singapore or India? Besides, why should we care the breakdown is due to a power fault caused by a little girl or downsizing of track maintenance budget? Breakdowns is unacceptable when you keep raising fares. In fact, train breakdowns are becoming so common that we no longer create special committees of inquiry to investigate the cause.  And then we have overcrowding, it is so fucking crowded already and yet the PAP government have the cheek to suggest a fucking 6.9 million population.

Just barely a year ago, a $1.1 billion bus improvement package was given out to SBS and SMRT. This package means more buses and better services, paid for by Singaporeans, enjoyed by both Singaporeans and Foreigners. The $1.1 billion had many Singaporeans scratching their heads: why didn’t it stop the fare hike? Of course the truth is you can never satisfy greed, but the official reason is that the two companies are in ailing financial conditions and the PAP government need to bail them out, using our money again of course. When SBS and SMRT complain they do not earn enough, the PAP government commit them with $1.1 billion, but who gives me a single cents when I complain I don’t earn enough? The PAP government claimed it is important the two companies survive, so that is why they are allowed to make a “living profit”, but when Singaporeans are unemployed and poor, who gives them a “living wage”?

The PAP government tells Singaporeans to follow a progressive wage model if they want a pay raise, but where is the similar progressive payment model for SBS and SMRT who still get paid for screwing up? This is double standards. When screw ups like these happens, the CEO should either stop drawing a salary or resign. By the way, why did SMRT choose someone who has no knowledge about train operations to be the CEO? Desmond Kwek was a paper general in the SAF so what makes him qualify as a CEO of the listed train company when there are so many train operations managers who have been working in SMRT for over ten years? Did Desmond Kuek learn how to manage a train company in the SAF? So now we have Desmond Kuek as CEO for over more than a year now, why are there still so many breakdowns? It has been proven Desmond Kuek is incompetent for the job. He should resign.

Do you know the average salary of the 27  senior management members and directors draw $300,000 a year, costing at total of $8.45 million? If we nationalized SMRT, these senior management and directors are just civil servants, do you think each of them can command $300,000 a year? Is this cost saving or corporate greed? And they have the cheek to call for a fare raise while they draw 8 millions a year?

By the way, the official figure of the fare hike may be 3.2%, but it will cost at least $15 more every month or about 10%  for a monthly $150 transport budget. Singapore is already the most expensive country in the world and yet we are not anywhere near being the most well-paid. Singaporeans are already having problems with buying a house, retiring and competing for jobs with the influx of foreigners. $15 a month might seems a little to some but it could actually feed someone with heavy financial commitments for a day.

The fare hike process starts with an application by SBS and SMRT, which then go through a committee appointed by the PAP government also known as the Public Transport Council. However, each and every single time SBS or SMRT applies for a fare hike, the PTC approves. So why is the white elephant sitting in the room? If the purpose of PTC is to pretend that Singapore has a system of policy making, could I ask what happened to the “new” formula introduced by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee. In 2012, the PAP government created the Fare Review Mechanism Committee to adjust a formula so as to better reflect the ticket costs:

Fare Adjustment = Price Index – Productivity Extraction
where Price Index = 0.4 cCPI + 0.4 WI + 0.2 EI
• cCPI is the change in core Consumer Price Index.
• WI is the change in Wage Index. This refers to the
Average Monthly Earnings (Annual National Average),
adjusted to account for any changes in the employer’s
CPF contribution.
• EI is the change in Energy Index. This refers to a
composite of cost changes in electricity and diesel.
and Productivity Extraction = 0.5% (valid from 2013 to 2017)
~FRMC 2012[Source]

The new formula introduced in 2012 factors in 3 components: the core Consumer Price Index, Wage Index and Energy Index. Why is this new 3.4% fare hike not following that 2012 formula? So when the formula do not work your way, you throw it out of the window? And the Public Transport Council’s chairman Gerrad Ee’s justification for the fare hike? He said that Singaporeans will “likely” enjoy a 5 percent income growth. Likely? You derived a decision based on uncertain terms? If our wages is not going to be 5 percent or perhaps go even lower than 3.4% this year, will you adjust your fare hike accordingly? No? So why start the bullshit about income growth?

Abolish the Public Transport Council immediately and stop wasting our taxes on this useless stat board. And for the 2 Transport Ministers, Lui Tuck Yew and Josephine Teo, why are they thanking the PTC profusely for the fare hike? Is it because they think they can push the blame of an unpopular fare hike to the PTC? The two of them should grow some shame and resign.

It is bad enough knowing that SBS and SMRT are only interested in making money out of the public, it is worse to know that the PAP government allows this to happen in the name of sustainability. If we want the public transport operators to be sustainable, then nationalize them. At least for us Singaporeans, we will know every single cents of their profit will be going into the National Reserves instead of shareholders. The PAP failed in its duty to protect Singaporeans’ interests when they turned a blind eye to such mindless profiteering. They changed the CEO, they have done investigations, they even tried pumping them money but the result is still the same. This is what we called incompetence and mismanagement. The problem is never resolved and it keeps recurring so often that all you do now is to give sorry excuses.

So now that the fare hike has been announced, their propaganda machinery is now in full force. We can read how positive and well-received the fare hike is on the mainstream media. They claimed they they are helping the low income, senior citizens and poly students by giving more concessions. But beware when they say they want to “help the poor”. The last time Lee Hsien Loong said he wanted to help the poor, he raised the GST to 7% and in the end the middle class and poor become worse off. This fare hike will similarly going to hit the very people they claimed to help. This fare hike is going to increase the cost of living and worsen our already dropping standard of living.

Sincerely from the bottom of my heart: Fuck your fare hike

Inequality pretending it is Meritocracy

Meritocracy-1024x735-e1341893274929In Singapore, inequality is celebrated by the majority. The PAP government and many Singaporeans agree that resources and opportunities should only be given to qualified candidates with other irrelevant attributes like having brought up in a well-to-do family and coming from one of the many little bigoted elitist schools in Singapore. This very mindset is elitism and it propagates inequality and create a class of lazy and entitled individuals who see themselves a level higher than others. However if you are going to ask these bigots, they will tell you this is Meritocracy and it promotes equality and incentivize others (especially directed at the poor and middle class) to work harder.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for rewarding hard work. But the reality shows that no matter how many hours of hard work the poor and middle class put in, they will forever be stuck. These people faces an income ceiling, not because they do not have a bachelor degree with honors like the elites, but because they were not born an elite. For a Singaporean who did not go through the Junior College route and secure a scholarship, you are pretty much considered the 90% of the non-elites. This is prevalent in the PAP leadership selection process. Among its 80 Members of Parliament, only 1 took the polytechnic diploma route instead of the JC route (Joo Chiat MP Charles Chong). Similarly, a blanket profiling shows that nearly all of the PAP MPs come through elite schools like Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls School and Anglo-Chinese School. It is of course no surprised when PAP candidates like Dr Koh Poh Koon make out-of-touch remarks like this [Source].

The political rift Singapore is deeply divided in is an indirect cause of elitism and it is pretty obvious Singaporeans are disunited despite the PAP pretending otherwise. On the other side, we have a group of non-elites, or the majority, real Singaporeans. Talented non-elites are like K-Pop finalist Stephanie Koh, who has to start earning her own living after graduating from a diploma is a very good example (at the age of 19, most teenage elites have not stepped into the working world yet). In her viral Youtube video [Source], she tells the world why she is not proud to be a Singaporean. While a young Singaporean elite would wax lyrical how ideal Singapore is, most non-elite Singaporeans who bear the brunt of cost of living with no government support are ready to tell the truth about Singapore.

A recent survey shows that more than 50% of Singaporeans will emigrate if they have the opportunity to [Source]. People who look forward to emigration are typically those disillusioned with their quality of living and having little faith in Singapore’s economical and social future. To the PAP government, this is exceptionally dangerous because, birth rate is already the lowest in the world and coupling that with the outflow of Singaporeans, there will not be anyone left around to serve National Service.

The unseen and subtle response of the PAP government is of course to cut the means and options of Singaporeans emigrating. In Singapore, most Singaporeans are not degree-equipped because the PAP refuse to increase the number of local university places. The recent increase in universities is also a pretence because schools like the SUTD have more foreigners including Permanent Residents than Singaporeans studying in them. If you can’t get a degree, most likely you will not be able to qualify as a skilled migrant in developed countries like Australia and New Zealand. As Australia become Singaporeans’ preferred home, working holidays schemes in Australia for Singaporeans have been cancelled since 2012. The only working holiday scheme available for Singaporeans is only New Zealand and that pales to the variety of options Taiwanese and Malaysian citizens have to places like Canada, US and Australia.

Cheated Singaporean
Alex Tan

*Cheated Singaporean is a non-elite and non-talent engineer who started earning his own pocket money when he was 14.

74th day

Degree: academic transcript will be out by March
Driving license: Mastered everything about driving after 13 lessons. Booked test on 13th April
Current work: Frustrating (Long hours, low pay relative to other project managers and a shouting session with an uncooperative technician…I will skip this shit)

Have just picked up a tuition assignment  in Somerset. I need to ramp up on my income and keep my costs down if I want to leave sg asap. I may be going for banquet waitering over the weekend.

Since my last post, I have also looked up an agent and he presented me a cost list:

For reference, here is a breakdown of the costs:
“…My fee for a full application is SGD 4,000. This is paid in three installments, as follows:
  1. SGD 1,500 – when we start (at this stage you also pay SGD 200 to cover some lawyers costs, courier costs etc)
  2. SGD 1,500 – when the skills assessment is complete.
  3. SGD 1,000 – when the visa application is submitted.
The application fees you would face are:
  • AUD 670 – skills assessment application fee
  • AUD 200-250 – state sponsorship application fee (varies depending on the state).
  • Visa application fee – AUD 3520 plus AUD 1760 to include your wife. 
You will also need to complete medicals (SGD 150) and obtain a certificate of no criminal record, which usually costs SGD 50.
 
One thing to note is that your wife will need to meet a rather basic English language requirement as a spouse dependent. The easiest way for her to do this would be to score an overall score of at least 4.5 in the IELTS exam. “

My wife and I have been contemplating about the trip to Aussie because it seems like I have a lead time issue – well we want to get out of sg asap and latest by June. And if we were to wait for subclass 189/190, its gonna take quite a while. We looked up other options and I discovered a really attractive one:

Canada

One can simply fly there as a tourist and begin applying for an Open Work Permit which allows you to work for any employer. This is really awesome news for the both of us, especially when the Aussie option is so fucking expensive (entire process is easily 8k AUD).  The cost alone is daunting and deterring enough for us. Nonetheless, we will be going to Aussie for a short holiday (5 days?) in April after I get my driving license and then we shall decide if we should go for Canada instead. And my little research tells me to go Vancouver, but I’m actually prepared for anywhere.

Her cousin at Brooklyn New York called her up, offered her place for accommodation and asked us to go over. But I have been reading a lot of US news about murders and rapes…and it seems US isn’t really such a good option.

Lim Swee Say failed, hence Minimum Wage is born

Just about 2 years ago, NTUC chief Lim Swee Say was drumming up a new term he coined called the “progressive wage”, of which he openly called out to cleaning contractors to pay all their cleaners $1k/mth [Source]. Apparently, nobody including the Government themselves  listened to him because the Ministry of Manpower announced in 2013 that the median wage for cleaners was about $800 [Source]. More than a year has gone by, the private sector was still not listening as contractors continue to depress cleaners’ wages. It was very embarrassing for a million dollar Minister and a union chief to be ignored and apparently General Election 2016 inches closer, the PAP realized they could no longer rely on the useless NTUC chief cum Minister without portfolio to raise wages. 

So the PAP backtracked on their principle of “progressive wages”, showed NTUC Lim Swee Say the finger and legislated a Minimum Wage. This is evident that the PAP themselves know that the “progressive wage” model is a lie, and tacitly admitting that all their arguments against Minimum Wage were fallacious.

But the biggest backtrack are not PAP’s electoral promises…it is the wages of the cleaners:

stupid sg

 

A Minimum Wage is a right step in the correct direction but $1k/mth?! That is even lesser than the median wage 14 years ago and we have not touched on inflation yet! The Minimum Wage is a slave wage and it looks more like a carrot for cleaning contractors to hire more foreigners. Coupling a Minimum Wage with a loose immigration policy will only result in more foreigners wanting to come to Singapore to work as cleaners. Singaporean cleaners, especially those sickly and elderly, will still continue to live in extreme poverty from the meager $1k/mth with today’s cost of living.

That brings a stark comparison to SMRT and SBS, where government funding have recently been channeled into the balance sheet of the two companies to make a “living profit”. Interestingly, low income workers do not enjoy similar funding to survive on a “living wage”?

It has been perplexing me for quite some time why would an elected government serve corporate more than the people. Until I enlightened myself and abolished some incorrect presumptions on the nature of the PAP like how incorrupt and democratic socialist they claimed themselves to be. Simply put in, there is a great disconnect between what they say and what they do. This Minimum Wage back peddling is one fine example. What they claim and what they do is one hell of a world apart. The question remains if the majority of Singaporeans will continue to dig their own grave in 2016?

Dear Lee Hsien Loong, I am ashamed to have you as Prime Minister

Dear Lee Hsien Loong

girl

When you published this photo on Facebook, I thought you were yet making another distasteful joke about smoking and pork soup about China. Nope, this is worse. It is already very unfortunate that the little girl lost her fingers in the freak accident, you have to gather her entire family and pose in front of the cameraman whom you brought along. How different are you from Lee Bee Wah in this photo [Source]?

Ok never mind the photo. So you are paid $2.2 million a year. Didn’t you just receive your year-end bonus? How much is that? How much money is sitting inside your bank account and given your position,  how have you helped Li Xuan? She is only 14, she lives in a HDB, her father is working as a hawker selling sugar cane juice for a living and she did not have insurance payout.

Have you got no sympathy? Where is the caring and compassionate society you so proudly laid credit for a few months ago [Source]? You told her a crap story about a US war veteran, how does that relate to her circumstances aside from a broken arm? You might as well tell her stories about Stephen Hawking, Christopher Reeve or about yourself surpassing every Singaporean elite to become Singapore’s only qualified Prime Minister. What she needs most today is financial help. You are generous enough to offer $36 million every year to at least 2000 foreign students, yet you never once entertain the thought of helping the Singaporean girl lying on the bed in front of you.

It is shameful to have you as the Prime Minister, period.

Next, I will go on to a recent hotly-debated national issues. Transport fares is going up when breakdowns and overcrowding are still happening. When workers like me need a higher salary, you tell us to be more productive and salaries will rise in tandem. However when it comes to SBS and SMRT, they can continue to be incompetent and worsen their services yet you can allow the fare hike to happen. This is gross injustice that private companies are legislated by law to earn “a living profit” while low income Singaporeans like me are not mandated to earn “a living wage”. Are you voted in by Singaporeans or Private Limiteds?

This year marked the 10th year you are Prime Minister. It is evident you have no concern for Singaporeans, our standard of living is never your priority. To you, we are just economic tools – we can see how those old and broken tools sell tissue paper or literally beg on the streets for a living. You disgust me every day knowing what you earn in half a day is what Singaporeans get at the end of the month.

Please resign.

A cheated Singaporean
Alex Tan