Not sure if you’ve heard, but it’s the Budget season! This is the first time Heng Swee Keat is giving the Budget as our new Finance Minister, and just like past years most Singaporeans don’t give a crap.
Unfortunately though, some of us have to face colleagues or friends who like to act as if they know current affairs. PAP this, SDP that. TPP here, Panama there.
So no choice – sometimes we have to engage these posers and act as though we know what they’re talking about.
But don’t worry! We’ve prepared a list of buzzwords you can use, to appear knowledgeable about this year’s Budget.
Immediate problems; usually used in business context. So things like rental costs, manpower shortage or cashflow problems.
For example, forgetting your best friend’s birthday is a near-term concern because he’ll probably be annoyed for one day. But forgetting your girlfriend’s/wife’s birthday is a long-term problem because she’ll bring it up. Every single time you argue, for the rest of your miserable life.
The ability or intelligence to make more with less. Somewhat like efficiency, but slightly different.
For example, some people can gain weight just by breathing in air. That’s called being productive. Others lose weight just by farting. That’s being efficient.
Trade Associations and Chambers
These are groups of (mostly) old men who seemingly gather for no other purpose than to eat catered food together. But instead of calling it “dinner”, they like to call such gatherings “annual general meetings”.
So they’re somewhat like the groups in Mean Girls, except hairier.
Help older Singaporeans stay active, be it physically or mentally. So like Facebook Groups, but for old people. And also in real life. Probably in void decks.
The thick skin to tahan difficulties, and to try and solve them.
So for example, when your girlfriend/wife remind you that you forgot her birthday x years ago, being resilient means you bow and apologise again. Despite the fact that you have already apologised for the past x years.
If the above cheat-sheet doesn’t help you impress your poser friends, you can always go with these tried and tested lines that can describe every single Budget in the past, present and future:
This year’s Budget is a prudent one.
On one hand, the Budget introduced many measures to help alleviate many short-term concerns that many Singaporeans have. On the other hand, the Budget will also help to navigate many long-term problems the economy may bring.
He even went on to proudly share a ‘secret’ amongst the opposition parties:
“Many of us in the alternative parties hope that one day DPM Tharman will have a falling out with PM (Lee Hsien Loong) and will come out to lead a grand coalition of opposition parties – Pakatan Rakyat Singapura – to present a real alternative to the current PAP (People’s Action Party) government.”
Wow, that’s quite incredible. I wonder what Paul’s leader, Chee Soon Juan, thought of his suggestion. Afterall, as the leader of an opposition party, Paul’s suggestion would place Chee under the lead of DPM Tharman.
I don’t think Chee is the kind of man who would be pleased with someone else steering the ship, and Mr Chiam could probably attest to that.
And lastly, perhaps most impressively, DPM Tharman is part of the Group of Thirty. This is a prestigious group of 30 top economists and financiers specially set up to look at how economic and financial issues affect the world.
I’m not smart enough to know what it means, but looking at the list of people in that group I would say that DPM Tharman is in a pretty esteemed place.
On top of being world-renowned at his day job as the finance minister, DPM Tharman also has time to partake in all sorts of weird activities organized by his grassroot leaders.
The opposition parties are out in force this time around – all 89 seats are contested, and most of their candidates seem to come from respectable backgrounds. Some of these candidates can even speak multiple languages, a fact that somehow always pleases the crowd at rallies!
But I’ve been thinking and observing over the past week’s campaigning, and some of the things these opposition parties say are starting to worry me.
Uniquely Singaporean Parties
First and perhaps most obvious is the reluctance of opposition parties to try and form a government. Most of them are basing their campaign on blaming the PAP, and claiming that they will keep the PAP in check when they’re voted into parliament.
A rather odd logic, if you ask me. Perhaps it is another uniquely Singaporean trait – we have almost 10 opposition parties whose very point of existence is to provide diversity to the ruling party.
Diversity is good?
Diversity seems to be another oft-repeated catchphrase for the opposition parties. Vote me in! So there’s diversity in the parliament!
Do we really want diversity, for diversity’s sake?
And at the end of it all, what does political diversity actually mean? WP has been described as PAP-lite, so I suppose the only diversity there is the color of their shirts. Yet they’re asking for voters to grant them 28 seats in the parliament.
To what end?
28 seats would not allow the WP to block constitutional changes suggested by the PAP, and neither would their opinions actually make a difference in policies. The only difference would probably appear in the bank accounts of the extra 21 MPs.
Policymaking can be scary
Perhaps to set themselves apart, the SDP put out a whole series of alternative policies on big issues like housing and healthcare. What do they say?
Errr. Somebody’s gonna pay for all those right? Easy, the SDP says. Cut defence budget by 40%, increase corporate taxes, and increase tax on the rich. Sounds good, but what does that actually mean?
It means our armed forces will be weakened significantly, when our neighbouring countries are becoming more nationalistic.
It means that companies, already facing the crunch from the lesser availability of foreign labour and a possible minimum wage regime, would need to incur even more additional costs.
This must be why even their leader Chee Soon Juan is astutely avoiding any mention of SDP’s policies at their rallies, because they know that when Singaporeans really think about SDP’s policies, they would realise that the policies are not viable at all. So all they talk about is the good old days, when every Singaporean led a relaxing life.
NSP is continuing their flirtation with the SMC, so we don’t know for sure if there will be a three-cornered fight. For all we know, other parties might decide to join in the fun!
3) The comings and goings at PAP
In the name of ‘renewal’, the PAPpies are phasing out old stalwarts like Wong Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan, Inderjit Singh and Hawazi Daipi. Minister Lui Tuck Yew is also stepping out of politics, and it remains to be seen where the PAPpies will be picking their ‘minister calibre’ candidates from.
Especially where the next Transport Minister will come from, since that seems to be the hot potato portfolio nowadays.
4) “Pursuant to Section 49, Sub-section 7e, Paragraph A of the Parliamentary Elections Act…”
Only the WeePies know, and they’re holding this card close to their chest. We can expect the PAPpies to pounce on any financial irregularity the reports show, and Singaporeans would have to consider whether having an opposition voice is worth the financial mismanagement.
7) Chee Soon Juan
This will be the first election that Chee Soon Juan will be competing, since sitting out GE 2006 and GE 2011 because of his bankruptcy.
Which Chee Soon Juan will we see this time?
Could we see fierce liberal who spared no punches in criticizing Singapore’s trade agreements with US? Or would we see the man that his own mentor, Mr Chiam See Tong, described as a ‘megalomaniac’ who wants the centre-stage all the time?
These are all very exciting angles for this coming GE, and we haven’t even talked about the Reform Party and Singaporeans First – both parties led by familiar names in local politics. Hell, for all we know Roy Ngerng might even decide to run against his old foe PM Lee in Ang Mo Kio GRC!
Outgoing Defence Chief, Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng, has announced his intention to enter politics. Nobody knows where he will be contesting in, but given his background as a fighter pilot we expect a lot of parachute jokes when his next battleground is confirmed.
In the meantime, here are 5 little-known facts that may interest you about the latest high profile PAPpie:
LG Ng’s oldest brother, Ng Chee Khern, was previously a two star general with the RSAF. His younger brother, Ng Chee Peng, also wore two stars on his epaulets as the Chief of Navy.
Combined with the three stars that LG Ng has, the Ng family has a total of 7 stars within the family.
Curiously enough, LG Ng Chee Meng is the only one out of the three brothers to not receive the President’s Scholarship, yet is the one who rose the highest in his military career.
4) One of his past jobs was Military Private Secretary to the Defence Minister
He was the Military Private Secretary to the Defence Minister back in 1995/1996. The Defence Minister back then? Current President Tony Tan.
We can’t seem to find any information on what a Military Private Secretary actually does, but we came across this article where another Navy guy described his experience. He didn’t say much, except that the experience gave him a glimpse of the vast scope of important responsibilities our Cabinet Ministers hold.
5) His current children will not need to serve NS
Keep your tinfoil hats, conspiracy theorists.
The reason why LG Ng’s children would not need to serve NS is not because their father was the head honcho of the SAF. Both his kids would not need to serve NS simply because they’re both girls – Sara Ng and Elisabeth Ng.
Of course, both of them can always volunteer after the Committee of NS (which LG Ng led) suggested the addition of the SAF Volunteer Corps…
It is quite a lengthy video, so its forgivable if you decide against watching it. Basically, WeePie/AHPETC chairwoman Sylvia Lim proclaims that the AHPETC‘s latest financial report only has 3 unresolved problems, as opposed to the 13 problems highlighted in the previous year’s report.
Just 3 problems, no big deal here! Because you know, 13 problems is okay, 3 problems is excellent, and 0 problem is simply a pipe dream.
Of course, someone with a mind as sharp as DPM Tharman’s would disagree with that logic.
Describing AHPETC as a structurally unsound house, DPM Tharman ask that the WeePies put in the hard work needed to fix the problems, and not to simply whitewash everything. He added that the problems at AHPETC are fundamental and basic issues that need to be looked at, and said that the WeePieshave had a long time to fix these issues.
Oh, and DPM Tharman revealed that the problems at AHPETC are so bad that even MND’s $7 million grant would not be enough to solve the issues.
The WeePies have not responded to this latest salvo, but we expect that any statement from AHPETC would simply say that they would be submitting their financial report in due course.
If we’re lucky, the AHPETC or WeePies would once again lament the life as an opposition town council, chide DPM Tharman for politicising the issue, and complain that MND is withholding the grants.
Because, you know, complaining about problems is much easier than actually fixing them.
And now WeePie Sylvia Lim seems to have taken a leaf out of the PAPpies playbook – her first Instagram post featured the WeePies chairwoman enjoying a plate of orh lua (oyster omelette) at the Fengshan hawker centre.
Our local media, ever so hungry for every morsel of election-speculative news, dug in with much relish.
Both The Straits Times and TODAY ran stories speculating that Sylvia Lim might be leaving her Aljunied GRC, and branching out into the new Fengshan SMC. This suspicion, according to both papers, was supported by Sylvia Lim’s cryptic hashtag ‘#reasonstowin’.
In any case, she is still the chairman of the AHPETC. Sylvia Lim’s face was the one that represented AHPETC throughout their entire exchange with the government over AHPETC’s financial situation, and it be irresponsible of her if she were to leave her colleagues in the lurch.
Lastly, this is just someone going out to enjoy a plate of orh lua. Perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into it, and let her enjoy her dinner.