Nomination Day crowd of Lee Hsien Loong's supporters

A PAP supporter has taken to Facebook to complain about Singaporeans complaining on the rising cost of living. The post is viral among the pro-PAP supporters, with many accepting his explanations as an antidote to the increasing criticisms on the ruling party dictatorship.

Aloysius Lau:

I’m not pro-PAP, just pro-Singapore, pro-facts and pro-logic.

Here’s my version of “brainwashed” reply.

1) If you have a budget surplus of almost $10 billion from last year, why are u still raising the GST?

> The GST is not raised from this year onwards. It’s just a heads up well in advance for 2021-2023 that it may be raised to support additional social spending that is expected to be rising in near future (2021-2023?). Not a usual move of our governme though.

At least, this news is important for businesses like mine because it allows me leverage on the current lower GST and strategize my taxes wherever possible. The last thing I want happen will be like tobacco or fuel tax, you say it today and you start it tomorrow.

The surplus last year is also explained to be a fiscal surplus and not a structural surplus. Means, it is not a surplus you expect it every year because of a new structural component for income. Simply, if you increase GST you expect to have more tax income every year. If you simply have a COE system in place, the same as any other year, and you get more income last year just because people bid higher and higher, that’s unpredictable and hence you cannot rely on it every year.

The sensible thing in this is thus the surplus last year has nothing to do with the impending increase in GST 3-5 years later.

The last thing you want a government to do is to squander the $10b surplus away, just to justify increasing GST and albeit immediately right?

2) Isn’t giving u $300 on one hand (bribing one with one’s own money) and taking it away on the other hand with a GST increase, rather meaningless?

> You rather have nothing at all?

For those earning less than $1000 per month, and assuming you spend it all, the increment from 7% to 9% will mean you pay about $20 per month. Average out 30 days, you probably pay less than 70 cents everyday.

It is an amount that’s painful to think, but painless to feel. Trust me because I came from a lower income family too. _IF_ some of these lower income earners happen to be a smoker, $13/per/day – actually what’s more painful? $0.70 vs $13 per day.

At least, I know of many people who will be thankful of the bonus because they get a rare opportunity to have a good meal, a simple family outing, afford that minor repair at home, replace a damaged phone, pay the bills etc.

As for the rich, you buy a $100,000 car and you would have paid about $3500 of GST (after increment, $4500 of GST) and $50,000 COE (tax). Can? Average out 10 years, they still pay more tax.

Assuming that the GST hike to fund higher social expenditure is truthful and not being siphoned away by government (now that’s an allegation that you better justify with facts btw), the hike is inevitable. The bonus is literally, a bonus.

3) Why are we spending billions $ on infrastructure like rail and roads when we have a zero population growth and almost negative birthrate? Who are we building these infrastructure for? To accommodate your target of 6.9 million population? So, we are spending Singaporean taxpayer money on infrastructure for foreigners?

> Firstly, we continue to have population growth because we still admit permanent residents and new citizens, though at a slower rate than before. We haven’t reach “almost zero birth rate” because it currently stands at 1.2, hence it actually causes negative population growth rate on natural Singaporeans (but compensated by new citizens) and it’s too low because to at least have the same population you need a pair of couple to have 2 children.

You will first need to understand the concept of economy. Investors invest in our economy when they know you have a growing/wealthy population to spend hence for the invested business to make money, a stable or adequate workforce to support the business, a reliable infrastructure to support the business, a safe and stable environment to operate the business.

Assuming you own a large logistics company, or a food distribution company. If our roads remain congested like some of the capital city of our neighboring countries, so much that you’ll never deliver to your customers on time, will you invest in Singapore? Say, you pull out your investments – how many foreigners (yes), and Singaporeans (darn!) are going to lose the jobs?

Years ago, somehow there’s a gap in planning that caused our roads and public transport system to be over congested today and we are picking up the mess. Do you want the government to learn from it and plan ahead, or just leave it to the next generation?

4) Why is our defence budget 40% larger then our healthcare budget, more then $4 billion more. To buy weapons and equipment to fight who? Name our enemy, Mr. Prime Minister. With an aging population, healthcare should far surpass the defence budget, not the other way round

> As mentioned above, one of the key success behind Singapore is to be able to provide a safe and stable environment for people to live in and businesses to operate in.

We have too many red-eyed envious neighbors who are always ready to pounce on us and eat us up. Look at Ukraine vs Russia, Palestine vs Israel.

At least as someone who spent 2 years in green, and more annual cycles to go back dragging my feet, we guard our sovereignty and safety tightly to let you live and work peacefully. If you’re the same investor as above, again if you pull out investments Singaporeans lose jobs.

Don’t think of the tanks driving pass the parade square on NDP as wayang, at least that is one activity every country performs to show the world “I got this and that asset to attacking or defend, don’t play play”.

Healthcare – in then past we’ve been coping well with our budget even though it’s expensive. But as we are expecting an aging population and hence higher healthcare expenditure, we need more money – tadah, part of the reasons for GST hike.

5) Increasing the education budget by giving more edusave bursaries to our student is like giving crumbs to us. Your govt is giving full scholarships to foreign students, why can’t we get that deal instead?

> You don’t want the bursary, don’t take lor? At least I’m grateful for some years that bursaries helped me cope with costs of going to school.

Some scholarships are bonded, some are bond free. Most require these foreign scholars to at least work 3 years in Singapore. This buys us a chance that they will stay behind and grow their roots.

Admit it, we are not making enough babies. If you hate the GST hike, then don’t increase the healthcare spending. If you don’t want to increase healthcare spending, then don’t have aging population – tadah, bring in more people from outside. Now if you must bring in more people from outside, do you want to share your pink IC with maids and construction workers, or with highly educated and high earning foreign executives who can both make money for Singapore and hopefully educated means they also behave properly? Yes, we had some gaps here and there but you get the drift.

These scholars are often people who could have went on to better universities in their own countries. At least in my circle of friends from China, many of them were top students of their city or province. Qinghua and Beijing University were within reach and better than SMU and NTU.

Besides, a degree from an English medium university in Singapore may not always be as popular with Chinese employers when they eventually go back. Some are here because they have a scholarship here and they can’t afford cash for university back home, many are here for because of overseas education AND working experience, and some of them hope to settle down outside of China. We are hoping that they will just grow their roots here. Same applies for foreign students from other countries.

Moreover, bursary is for the lower income students and their results need not be the top. Foreigners do not even qualify for bursaries.

Scholarship is for the students excelling academically. It is not as if we take away some of scholarships for locals and give it to foreigners. You need to be there to witness, there are many locals who do not cherish their education enough to deserve a full scholarship.

e ) If u need more money, instead of taxing the poor with a GST increase, why don’t u raise the tax rate for the high earners (those earning over $1 million a year). I am sure there are thousands of such people, including all your Cabinet Ministers and many MPs. If you tax them more, u surely can avoid the GST.

> We tax the rich based on their lifestyle. Such as stamp duties on their property purchases. Many rich man are also big business people, we also leverage on their business success and tax their corporate income, tax the GST.

But if simply because I’m rich and you just tax excessively based on my income, then the rich will leave the country with their money and our jobs. Not wise ain’t it?