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Questions about pensions, HDB, CPF, transport, jobs, charities, etc.

Posted by theonlinecitizen on August 29, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

On this morning’s (29 August) NewsRadio 938 Talkback programme from 8.10am to 8.50am, the guest on the programme, MP Halimah Yacob, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) Chairperson on Health, said that Ministers no longer receive pensions.

She was replying to a caller who asked why and whether it is equitable for Ministers to continue to get pensions, when the people have to purchase a compulsory deferred age 85 annuity paying just $250 to $300 a month.

In a reply to the Straits Times Forum dated 4 April, 2007, the Prime Minister’s Office said that:

“The Government moved away from the pension scheme for the majority of civil servants since 1986. However, the pension scheme is retained for the Administrative Service and the Intelligence Service where there is a strong reliance on the depth of expertise and length of experience for continuity of national policies.

For the same reason, the pension scheme has been retained for Office Holders, namely, Speaker, Ministers, Ministers of State, Mayors, Parliamentary Secretaries and Political Secretaries, given their role and impact on national policies, provided they serve long enough to qualify for a pension.”

And in 2004, then-DPM Lee Hsien Loong had also clarified with former NCMP Steve Chia in Parliament that indeed, the pension scheme is still in practice. (link)

Now, Ms Yacob’s remarks on the radio programme may have cast doubts on both the PMO and the PM’s clarifications.

So, do they get pensions or don’t they?

Hello! Anybody home?

On another note, I refer to the Auditor-General’s (AG) report in the last few years.

If not for the questions raised by the AG, the public may not be aware of the various lapses, from the answers given by the ministries and statutory boards.

I looked back at my letters to the newspaper forums, and have listed below some of the questions that I asked, but did not get answers to.

1. Education – How many foreigners are given scholarships relative to Singaporeans ? (“What’s ratio of foreigner to local scholarships”, BT, Oct 13, 2006)

2. Healthcare – What was the surplus accumulated, and what happened to it, when MediShield Plus was privatised to an insurance company ? (“Hello ? Anybody listening”, BT, May 25, 2005)

3. HDB – What is the breakdown of the cost of land and construction for HDB flats ? (“Settle question of HDB subsidy once and for all”, ST, Jan 2, 2007)

4. Charities – Why was NKF’s Institution of Public Character (IPC) status reinstated within a month of it’s termination by the National Council of Social Services (NCSS) ? (“Lesson from Kids : Stop passing the buck”, ST, Dec 24 and 21, 2005)

5 Transport – Why is the Public Transport Council’s household income data different (much higher – up to 61 per cent more) from the Department of Statistics’ data, in the report on the affordability of fares ? (“The poor will benefit most from transport fare cap”, ST, Nov 30, 2006)

6. CPF – Why is it that poorer Singaporeans who do not withdraw their CPF at age 55 and who do not meet the Minimum Sum are given lower interest, compared to those who can meet the Minimum Sum ? (“Increase 2.5% CPF interest rate”, BT, Dec 19, 2006)

7. Investing – After 11 years, about 75 per cent of CPFIS investors did not beat the Ordinary Account’s 2.5 per cent. What are the statistics after 12 and 13 years ? (“CPFIS investors and their losses”, ST, May 20, 2005)

8. Jobs – What is the breakdown for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, for new jobs created, number of unemployed and the unemployment rate ? (“Show the numbers to dispel notion that foreigners take away jobs from S’poreans”, ST, Dec 22, 2006)

According to the World Bank report, “Governance Matters 2007 : Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”, Singapore’s score for Voice and Accountability fell further to a low 46.6.

As I believe Singaporeans may like to know the answers to some of the above questions, which pertain to the use and accountability of public funds, I would like to suggest that perhaps the AG could ask some of them in next year’s report.

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10 Responses to “Questions about pensions, HDB, CPF, transport, jobs, charities, etc.”

  1. Fed up said

    Good to know that Leong is keeping track of all these!!! Keep it up. We will thank you alot one day when the time comes.

    Cheers

  2. Fox said

    For the first question, the answer can be found at http://www.moe.gov.sg/parliamentary_replies/2006/pq20060213.htm#Scholarship,

    On average, about 14% of our undergraduates and 30% of our postgraduates in NUS and NTU in 2001-2005 were on scholarships. About one-third of the undergraduate scholars were local students. One quarter of the postgraduate scholars were local students.

    The largest segment of undergraduate scholarships comes from industry, which offers about 54% of the scholarships. The Government’s share is about 35%. The universities have been increasing their provision of undergraduate scholarships, with their share rising from about 8% in 2001 to 11% in 2005. The remainder comprising less than 1% has been offered by research agencies.

    On the other hand, the universities themselves account for the bulk of postgraduate scholarships, although their share has declined from about 90% in 2001 to 79% in 2005. The industry and research agencies have been increasing their provision of postgraduate scholarships. The number of postgraduate scholarships offered by industry has increased from about 5% in 2001 to 12% in 2005. Similarly, those offered by research agencies have increased from about 2% in 2001 to 6% in 2005. The postgraduate scholarships offered by the Government have also been on a rising trend. Currently, the Government offers about 3% of the postgraduate scholarships.

    Currently, about 25% of the scholars holding university-sponsored postgraduate scholarships are local students.

  3. RaymondChua said

    From the data Fox found, it only mean that
    the gov has been deceiving us using their own statistic figure and half-truth ?

  4. Ace said

    Another one of their geniuses at work here, with Halimah denying that there is any pension paid then 3 days later an “honest mistake” statement comes out from some press officer to retract.

    I guess the maxim of this current administration is that,”If you cannot convince the people, then confuse the hell out of them.”

    With all this to and fro of data and “honest mistakes”, I seriously think we are getting closer and closer to the stage whereby nothing said is to be trusted at all.

    With the focus on retaining talents by paying them sky high salaries, we should expect better.

    Why dun we have a system whereby every publicly announced “honest mistake” results in them taking a pay cut of 10% on their total annual package, which will be diverted to the public assistance schemes so that people on PA can have 2 square meals and maybe plus a cup of kopi-o a day. (Note to Vivien: Still not eroding work ethics since it is only kopi)

    Then we may actually have some truth to the state of affairs. If we were solely to rely only on The ST, then it will be hopeless, since the ST is increasingly focusing on being a media whose main role is to provide supermarket coupons and lining for pet droppings to the general population.

    This episode is just one of the many which will continue until the people actually realise that for every NSS, every fountain built around their estates, every goodie given. They end up footing the bill for so much more…..

  5. otak69 said

    I’m against the idea of pensions for any Office Holder.

    But, even if I were to agree, could anyone clarify what a Mayor does that is so important that he needs to be included in that pensionable list?

  6. sevenleleven said

    came out in the paper, $179,000 pa pension for a million dollar minister. that work out to be approx $15,000 pm compared to athe annuity of some $300 pm.

  7. In the past, government pensions for civil servants were based on long-term service (more than 25 years), below-market low wages(e.g. teachers or policemen), adjustments etc. Strictly no free lunch to government pensioners.

    Government ministers were discouraging civil servants to be paid pensions probably since civil servants were being paid from 1970s market-level wages and CPF contributions were large for them to use for purchase of housing etc. So pension scheme was abolished for civil servants with conversions of pensions to CPF/lump-sum so many civil servants had foregone pensions years ago. Many civil servants affected were still unhappy today with an existing lawsuit filed to be reinstated to pensions so abolished.

    Nowadays, within a short time after abolishing the civil servant pension schemes the ministers by sheer political power and without any logical or sustainable basis whatsoever like offset for lower wages paid to ministers or longer than 25 good years in service or good conduct to the whole country, ministers could just revert the pension schmes for public service and give themselves all kinds of pensions and rewards without check or explanation to citizens.

    Instead, government ministers being paid market or above-market world’s highest bill-collector salaries spiced with all the multi-month bonuses and double salaries for some are now rewarding themselves with all kinds of pensions which smell while having the cheek to ask citizens to defer receiving of their CPF self-paid pension to receive them in annuities which accrue large chunks of interest profits to the banks to support government ministers’ pensions at S$180,000.00 pa which is not designed to compensate any under-payment of wages or loyalty to look after citizens’ interests at all.

  8. RaymondChua said

    So ic, if the gov are so capable of making honest mistake, why is there that they won’t make honest mistake when it time to claim annuities and cpf. Imagine the gov tell you can’t take out the cpf due to some honest mistake.

    Perhap, it’s time we exercise the right of citizen to exert welfare because at the end of day, we can always tell them we make honest mistake if it doesn’t work out.

    Why is it that only gov can only make honest mistake and get away with it everytime, whereas the citizen cannot even allow to make an honest mistake ?

    What bullshit is this long term plan like annuity, cpf etc if only to get from public and when it is about ask money to take out from gov to hlep others, the plan are just shot-term ?

  9. It is such a shame that despite all the high education and claims of talents our ministers simply do not have the ability to see or understand it is ethically, morally, socially and even legalistically wrong even with all the legalistic wrangling of bills through parliament to take people’s monies in the form of so-called life-long pensions while denying citizens’ right to collect their own self-contributed pensions which are their own monies while ministers are simply taking free lunches from public enjoying market salaries and expected to be paid life-long pensions all at the same time.

    n the past, government pensions for civil servants were based on long-term service (more than 25 years), below-market low wages(e.g. teachers or policemen), adjustments etc. Strictly no free lunch to government pensioners.

    Government ministers were discouraging civil servants to be paid pensions probably since civil servants were being paid from 1970s market-level wages and CPF contributions were large for them to use for purchase of housing etc. So pension scheme was abolished for civil servants with conversions of pensions to CPF/lump-sum so many civil servants had foregone pensions years ago. Many civil servants affected were still unhappy today with an existing lawsuit filed to be reinstated to pensions so abolished.

    Nowadays, within a short time after abolishing the civil servant pension schemes the ministers by sheer political power and without any logical or sustainable basis whatsoever like offset for lower wages paid to ministers or longer than 25 good years in service or good conduct to the whole country, ministers could just revert the pension schmes for public service and give themselves all kinds of pensions and rewards without check or explanation to citizens.

    Instead, government ministers being paid market or above-market world’s highest bill-collector salaries spiced with all the multi-month bonuses and double salaries for some are now rewarding themselves with all kinds of pensions which smell while having the cheek to ask citizens to defer receiving of their CPF self-paid pension to receive them in annuities which accrue large chunks of interest profits to the banks to support government ministers’ pensions at S$180,000.00 pa which is not designed to compensate any under-payment of wages or loyalty to look after citizens’ interests at all.

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  10. Keith said

    Unfortunately, our protests will not amount to any change of mind on the govt’s part. They have always been pushing through whatever they wanted to do. What we have is a govt that is obsessed with unending surpluses and runs the country like a corporation. Their favorite way of solving problem is to have the citizens pay money like this compulsory annuity and the additional gantries. That’s sad.

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