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3081HDB FLAT-PRICING & UPGRADING ISSUES --- The People's Open Report Card on Million-dollar Minister Mah Bow Tan

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  • David See
    Jan 18, 2007
      (Note for Sg Review Editor --- Pls download "as is". Tks)
       
      Date:   19 January 2007
      To:       Editor, Singapore Review
      From:   Mr See Leong Kit
      Topic:   HDB FLAT-PRICING & UPGRADING ISSUES --- The People's Open Report Card on Million-dollar Minister Mah Bow Tan
       
       
      Note for readers:
      >  This is a comprehensive/detailed Report Card on Minister Mah.
       
      Key Issue --- He (and the HDB) had used the clever term  "market subsidy" to confuse buyers of new HDB flats into thinking their flats are  "heavily subsidised" (his own words) by the Govt.
      In fact, there is NO actual  "cash subsidy" and the HDB is really raking in a cleverly-disguised profit!
       
      As of the 18 Jan 07 5pm deadline to respond, Mr Mah had chosen to maintain a DEAD SILENCE --- thus making himself undeserving of the respect (and votes) of S'poreans who are actually paying for his million-dollar ministerial salary.
       
      >  Pls circulate widely to your friends, other interested parties (easier to provide this link).
       
      >  Being 59 years old, I may not be around for the 2011 General Elections.
      Concerned S'poreans, pls help to archive this Report Card for downloading again then [as an election issue].
       
       
      Original Text of my Feedback Document:
       
      Date:    16 January 2007
       
      To:       Chairman,REACH  Dr Amy Khor [ para 1(a) ]
                  MND Minister-IN-CHARGE  Mah Bow Tan [ para 1(b) ]
             
      cc:       MoS/MND  Grace Fu
                  MND Parl Sec  Maliki bin Osman
                  MND Perm Sec  Tan Tee How
                  MND Dy Sec  Cheong Koon Hean
       
                  PM Lee Hsien Loong
                  DPM  Wong Kan Seng  
                  PMO Minister  Lim Swee Say
                  Head of Civil Service & PS/MFA  Peter Ho  [action on Annex A para 4.3]
                  Ex-Civil Service Head/EDB Chairman Lim Siong Guan [ para 4.3 of Annex A]
                  A-STAR Chairman  Philip Yeo [ para 11(a)(ii) ]
       
                  Other Ministers/Senior Bureaucrats
       
                  HDB Board Members: [ para 2 for all ]
                    Chairman  Aline Wong  
                    Dy Chairman  Koh Cher Siang
                    Member  Halimah Yacob  [ see specific comment ]
                    Member  Edmund Koh Kian Chew
                    Member  Quek Bin Hwee                          
                    Member  Tan Boon Huat
                    Member/HDB CEO  Tay Kim Poh [also para 3 ]
       
                    HDB Dy CEO  Tan Poh Hong [ para 3 ]
                    HDB Director(Estates)  Yap Chin Beng [ para 3 ]
                    HDB Dy CEO  Lau Joo Ming
       
                   Members of Parliament:
                    All 24 new PAP MPs
                    MP  Chiam See Tong
                    MP  Low Thia Khiang
                    NCMP  Sylvia Lim
       
       
      From:  Mr See Leong Kit             
       
       
      HDB FLAT-PRICING & UPGRADING ISSUES --- The People's Open Report Card on Million-dollar Minister Mah Bow Tan
       
      Contents:
      PART 1 ---  Introductory Comments
      PART 2 ---  The People's Report Card on Minister Mah Bow Tan
                        ( Quick Background of Minister Mah)
                        ( HDB Flat-Pricing Issue)
                        ( HDB Upgrading-Priority for PAP Wards Issue)
                        ( Other Notable URA/HDB Fiascos under Minister Mah)
                        ( Minister Mah's Take on Property Speculation & Property Bubble)
       
      ANNEX A:   Ministerial Pay Issue Revisited/ High Cost of Government
      ANNEX B:   Basic Principles of Public Service in Singapore
       
       
       
      PART 1 ---  Introductory Comments
       
      1    This Feedback Document is addressed concurrently to:
       
      (a)   Dr Amy Khor --- for her to live up to her role as Chairman,REACH (formerly Feedback Unit) in  ensuring  that Minister Mah Bow Tan furnish a properly-considered response to the candid feedback of S'poreans.
       
      (b)   Minister Mah Bow Tan --- for providing him the opportunity to exercise his right of reply (which must be accompanied by his answers to all the 5  numbered questions directed specifically at him)
       
      As per our PS21 Civil Service  3-working day Response Directive, the deadline for him to do so is   5 pm  Thu 18 Jan 07.
       
       
      2   Comments for HDB Board Members (esp Halimah Yaacob):
            As HDB Board members, you are presumably paid some form of remuneration (out of taxpayer's monies) for being on the Board.
            From para 11 below, you will understand why the HDB Flat-Pricing Issue [full details at para 13] had led to a SUPER-TSUNAMI Wave of Public Anger --- even greater than the TSUNAMI Wave of Public Anger that subjected former NKF CEO T T Durai to maximum public humiliation and his eventual downfall.
            Your respective "public standing" are thus at stake --- if you continue to sit quietly on the sidelines and do nothing at all to "persuade" Minister Mah to "come clean" [famous PAP words] on this issue (which affects some 90% of the population).
       
      Specific Comment for Mdm Halimah Yacob:
            You wear three hats --- As NTUC Asst Sec-Gen (full-time job/handsome salary);  As PAP MP (part-time job/handsome $11,900 pm MP Allowance); As HDB Board Member ( board member fee).
            The vast majority of union members (of all races) are living in HDB flats and thus affected by the HDB Flat-Pricing Issue.
            So they will naturally expect you to demonstrate "moral backbone and moral conscience" to speak up for them in getting Minister Mah to fully disclose  "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" on how HDB new flats are actually priced --- whether with an actual cash subsidy or at a cleverly-disguised profit?
       
       
      3   Comments for HDB Senior Management:
           For HDB CEO Tay Kim Poh, Dy CEO(Estates/Corporate) Tan Poh Hong and Director(Estates) Yap Chin Beng:
      (i)    As HDB Senior Management staff, your super-generous salaries/bonuses are paid for by S'porean taxpayers [NOT from PAP party funds].
      (ii)   Re para 13.2 --- although the HDB's tardy/dodgy replies (at every one of four rounds !!!) on the HDB Flat-Pricing Issue were in the name of Dy Director Kee Lay Cheng, S'poreans will hold all three of you --- as her Superiors and as highly-paid Senior Civil Servants ---  FULLY ACCOUNTABLE/ANSWERABLE  for persistently "pulling wool over the eyes" of the people on the issue.
      (iii)   Justifiably angry S'poreans (your paymasters) have every right to demand the three of you "be retired early in the public interest" (ie not even Minister Mah or the PAP can protect you for long.)
      And don't any of you have siblings,relatives or friends living in HDB flats and hence have to "pay through their noses" under the HDB "market subsidy" pricing approach???
       
       
      4   Why the People's Report Card?   This is being consistent with:
       
      [ "....but really, it's the judgement of the Singaporeans that's the most important.
      ---  PM Lee Hsien Loong (ST 28 Dec 03 article "DPM Lee a face to watch: Newsweek") ]
       
      [ ".....to manage Singapore well, to manage a country is not the job of the important people, but of every ordinary person.
      The important people shouldn't think of themselves as important.  You're not the emperor or the chancellor.  You're the representative of the people.
      Don't forget if the people don't support you, you immediately become an ordinary person.  It's best to remember this when dealing with people.
      DON'T PUT ON AIRS." 
      --- PM Lee Hsien Loong (TV Channel i  21 Dec 03) ]
       
       
      In any case, the  "PAP Report Card" is typically full of  lavish/glowing  "self-praise" --- i.e. where the FEW achievements are openly/constantly trumpeted but the MANY screw-ups/fiascos/blunders are conveniently swept under the carpet (abetted, of course, by our Shameless Compliant Mainstream Media).
       
      [ "...By the next election, in 2011, we will be ready to present our Report Card to Singaporeans.  Then, judge us on our performance..."
      --- PM Lee Hsien Loong  3 Dec 06 PAP Party Conference) ]
       
       
      5   Why Open Report Card?   This is in keeping with:
       
      [ "We are OPEN and TRANSPARENT...WE CANNOT HIDE what goes on in Singapore"
      --- MHA Minister  Wong Kan Seng (ST 18 May 03) ]
       
      [ "DPM Lee promises a more open Singapore"; "I don't make promises I can't keep: DPM Lee" (ST 7 Jan 04) ]
       
      Thus, in keeping with PM Lee's  much-proclaimed promise  of  "an open and inclusive Singapore",  this Feedback Document (together with Minister Mah's Response) will be downloaded on the Internet to  "openly include"  fellow S'poreans (locally/overseas).
       
      So, if Minister Mah choose to maintain a Dead Silence ( a most deplorable act of arrogance and disrespect towards S'poreans, who are paying for his million-dollar salary/bonuses)  or to continue with his trademark  "dodgy half-truth replies" [especially on the HDB Flat Pricing Issue], Justifiably Angry S'poreans will then stiffen their resolve to vote against the PAP ( because of him ) at the next 2011 General Elections!
       
      [ Reproduced from ANNEX B: Basic Principles of Public Service in Singapore:
       
      Principle 5
           When S'poreans are  "arm-twisted"  to pay out million-dollar salaries to Politicians/Bureaucrats,  they rightly expect  "good value for their money" and, at the very least, these Public Servants to  DELIVER  the following:
       
      (i)   a million-dollars worth of  HUMILITY (not Arrogance)  and  LONG- OVERDUE RESPECT  for the People and their concerns/feedback/suggestions.
       
      (ii)  a million-dollars worth of TRUTHFUL ANSWERS  and COMPETENT SOLUTIONS (not screw-ups/fiascos/blunders) in tackling various issues of national/public concern. ]
       
       
      6   In this Feedback Document: 
       
      "What S'poreans Say (Internet)" represent the uncensored frank/honest comments  gathered from various Internet forums frequented by younger/better-educated/Internet-savvy Singaporeans.
       
      The whole world knows that such candid comments by Singaporeans are seldom published by its shamelessly pro-PAP [instead of pro-Singapore]  Press/TV Mainstream Media --- which were just re-ranked  even lower at a pathetic 146th out of 168 [2006 World Press Freedom Index].
       
      This is also the same P65 generation that the PAP is now desperately trying  "to connect with" [polite version of  "to seduce for votes"] following its 2006 General Election winning margin of 66.6%*.
      *against the euphoric expectation of initially "clean sweep" and subsequently "at least 80%".
      The 66.6% margin would even be lower if many young S'poreans were not denied their democratic right to vote by the cleverly-conceived election gerrymandering tactic behind the numerous GRC-ward "walkovers".)
       
       
      7   Quick Background of this Feedback Contributor/Writer:
       
      59-year old  tertiary-educated  thinking Singapore Citizen (by birth).
      Completed  full-time National Service some 30 years ago.
       
      A natural-born Whistle-Blower (i.e.one who must speak up, when things are not right.)
      [ "...The Government cannot know everything...So if you see something is not right, put it right!  You see something you want to do, do it! ..."
      --- PM Lee Hsien Loong  (3 Dec 06 PAP Party Conference) ]
       
      Not a member of any political party.  Am speaking up as part of a growing number of Singaporeans (both young and old) who are truly/deeply concerned about Singapore's long-term future under a dominant/arrogant one-party Government.
       
      Have been able to overcome the widespread  "political/social cancer" (ie Fear of Speaking Up) afflicting many Singaporeans --- despite over 40 years of independence from British colonial rule !!!
      Eternally grateful to my illiterate (but wise) mother who had taught me since young this Cantonese saying:  "If what you say or do are the right things, you need not fear the lightning bolt* striking you dead!"  [ *such as that depicted in the fearsome PAP logo! ]
       
      During my idealistic youth, was staunchly "pro-PAP" --- now, an utterly-disillusioned "non-PAP" Senior Citizen.
      A Great Regret --- it has taken me so long (at around age 40) to  "see through" the many  unprofessional/convoluted ploys played by the PAP to entrench itself at all costs --- even to the long-term detriment of  Singapore (the nation) and of Singaporeans (the people).
      My Greatest Consolation ---  more younger S'poreans (in their late 20s and their 30s) are now not as  naive/gullible as their parents who have lend their  unquestioning support and blind loyalty to the PAP.
       
       
      8   Difference between  "A Good Government"  and  "A Dud Government":  
       
      (i)    A Good Government (i.e Truly Competent & Caring)  is one that will do its utmost to SERVE THE PEOPLE through keeping  the COST OF LIVING  at sensible levels by providing  basic social services --- such as housing, education, healthcare, transport, security --- at lowest-possible and cost-efficient  prices/charges.
       
      (ii)   A Dud Government (which will do Singapore in)*  is one that will think of many ingenious ways to "milk as much of the people's hard-earned monies as possible" 
       
      --- such as  "do HDB flatbuyers in"  through pricing supposedly low-cost mass public housing at a cleverly-disguised profit using the clever semantics of  "market subsidy".  [ details at Part 2 para 13 ]
       
      [ *Origin of this PAP-coined phrase:
       At every Singapore General Election, there will be scare-mongering politicians warning voters ( with silly/childish threats like "poisonous time bombs", which grossly insult the people's intelligence)  that if they vote for the Opposition, they will be voting in "a Dud Government that will do Singapore in". ]
       
       
      9   Singapore Case Study on Corporate Governance ---  The Rapid Rise & Disgraceful Downfall of former NKF CEO T T Durai.  
       
      What Singaporeans have learned from the NKF Disgraceful Debacle-cum-Shameful Scandal:
       
      (a)   From the Internet: "What the NKF saga has proved is that people who win defamation lawsuits may not be innocent and those who lose may not be guilty."
       
      (b)   Most quoteworthy Internet posting by a young/educated Singaporean:
       
            "People with INTEGRITY counter accusations with the TRUTH, not lawsuits!"
       
      (c)   What many Singaporeans think about defamation legal threats:
       
      ---  a most unbecoming/unprofessional as well as distasteful/disgraceful habit (especially coming from  Public Officials).
       
      ---  a cunningly-clever way to strike fear and prevent charity-donors  [or taxpayer-citizens]  from asking rightful questions and seeking rightful answers on how their donated monies  [or public funds]  are being spent.
       
      (d)   [ "Obviously the checks and balances didn't work." 
                --- PM Lee's first comment on the NKF Scandal (CNA 15 Jul 05) ]
       
      What S'poreans Say (Internet):
      Wearing his hat as Finance Minister in promoting Singapore as a Financial/Business Hub,  PM Lee had constantly preached on the importance of  Good CORPORATE Governance and the need for "checks and balances";  "transparency and accountability"; "level playing field" (under Competition Act)  and encouraging  "whistle-blowers" (to expose corporate fraud/wrong-doing).
       
      BUT wearing his hat as PRIME MINISTERWHY is PM Lee  NOT DOING ANYTHING  about the long-overdue/much-needed  similar "checks and balances", etc,etc,  to promote  Good POLITICAL Governance ???
       
      WHY the double standards between Corporate and Political Governance?
       
      [ ".....we can always do BETTER if we try HARDER.  We ALWAYS MUST try HARDER.  Don't just do  NATO (No Action,Talk Only)....." 
       --- PM Lee Hsien Loong  (5 May 05 CNA "Up Close" programme) ]
       
       
      10  Thailand Case Study on Political Governance --- The Rapid Rise & Disgraceful Downfall of  Thai billionaire politician and former PM Thaksin.
       
      Background to the Shin Corp Saga that triggered off People Power-cum-Military Power that toppled Thaksin:
       
           In January 2006, Singapore's Temasek Hldgs had spent  S$5.87 BILLION (of the Singapore people's hard-earned monies) in its controversy-riddled 96% takeover of Thailand's telecom giant Shin Corp --- with 50% purchased from now deposed/exiled Thai PM Thaksin.
       
            Thaksin had sold his family's 50% stake at a very high price to Temasek --- raking in hugh profits, which he evaded paying taxes on.
      This then triggered angry demonstrations by Thai protestors at Singapore's Bangkok Embassy and burning of photos of  Temasek CEO Ho Ching and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong. The once-warm Thai-Singapore ties immediately plunged to its lowest ebb!
       
            Immediately upon completion of the purchase, Shin Corp's share price fell, leading to Temasek incurring an initial paper loss of  S$1.39 BILLION.
      Subsequently, the Thai interim govt imposed a whopping fine of  S$4.28 BILLION on Shin Corp's TV subsidiary.
       
      [ Note:  By way of comparison, our proposed GST increase from 5% to 7% will bring in additional revenue of  S$1.5 BILLION  for the S'pore Govt.]
       
      The Thai People's Verdict on Thaksin's long list of political sins:
       
      [ From ST 23 Nov 06 "Thai leaders document wrongdoings by Thaksin":
           The soon-to-be-released document contains alleged corruption and abuses of power by Mr Thaksin, including interference in the media;  nepotism and cronyism;  interference with independent institutions (including Senate and Election Commission);  and using state budgets without proper authorisation from Parliament to win votes. ]
       
      [ From Bangkok newspaper The Nation 23 Nov 06 "Democrat's White Paper on Thaksin Govt's alleged corruption":
            The Democrat Party is about to publish a book revealing 44 graft scandals involving deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his administrations during their five years in power.
      The graft scandals are divided into four categories:
      -- Exploiting govt policies to benefit businesses of the Thaksin family.
      -- Giving privileges to Thaksin's relatives.
      -- Scandals involving Thaksin's ministers.
      -- Scandals involving construction of Suvarnabhumi Airport. ]   
       
       
      11   Two Main Types of Justified Public Anger arising from  Arrogance/ Incompetence of Public Officials:
       
      (a)   TSUNAMI  Wave of  Public Anger:
       
      ( for CLOSE-TO-HEART Issues e.g. arrogance, abuse of power, misuse of donated/public monies, etc)
       
      Two Examples:
       
            (i)  Public Anger over former NKF CEO T T Durai:
       
      Durai's arrogance finally got the better of him, despite his fund-raising achievements.
      His defamation lawsuit against SPH Hldgs backfired and opened a giant can of worms that subjected him to maximum public humiliation --- leading to the widespread public anger and ultimately his disgraceful downfall.
       
      Invaluable Lessons for Singapore Politicians/Bureaucrats:
      ARROGANCE does not pay!
      DEFAMATION LEGAL THREATS to suppress the truth can backfire!
      In Mandarin: "Heaven has eyes". 
      In English:    "Just Retribution" (from People Power).
       
       
            (ii)  Public Anger over Senior Civil Servant Philip Yeo:
       
      ---   In May 2005,  59-year old Big-shot Bureaucrat Philip Yeo had thrown his weight around in his defamation legal threats to brow-beat a 23-year old university student (especially when he had to prepare for important examinations!).
       
      What S'poreans Say (Internet):
      (i)   WHO the hell is Philip Yeo (but a mere Bureaucrat, and not even a Politician!) who dared to use legal threats with such brazen audacity towards a member of the public?
       
      (ii)   WHY was this mere Bureaucrat Philip Yeo allowed to get away with setting a "deplorable example"  and  "dangerous precedent"  for other Bureaucrats  (since Public Servants are NOT ABOVE CRITICISM by members of the public --- who are actually paying for their big fat salaries! )?
       
       
      ---  In a 25 Feb 06 Business Times interview, Philip Yeo had said  "I'm not indispensable but I am irreplaceable."
      [ A perfect example of a Big-Shot Bureaucrat who has been clearly "infected" by Singapore's world-infamous  "political diseases"  of  arrogance  and  defamation legal threats.]
       
      LETTER TO EDITOR  by Michael Loh Toon Seng  (BT 2 Mar 06)
      A lack of humility and graciousness
       
      I refer to the Philip Yeo interview (BT Feb 25). Certainly, the learned civil servant has a lot to be proud of.
      However, with all his qualities, he lacks humility and graciousness.
      If only he had a modicum of humility, Mr Yeo would be a perfect human being.
      Successful civil servants have no need to be inflated with conceit.
      In the real world, with the brutal and cold-blooded cuts and thrusts, I've seen many Ivy League MBA-types biting the dust.
      Without EQ, interpersonal skills and basic courtesy, in addition to the liking and respect of the masses,  there is no guarantee that civil servants shooting off their mouths and operating from lofty heights can flourish.
      May God have mercy on us  if there's more than one Philip Yeo;  it's just as well that he is  "irreplaceable".
       
       
      ---   In Dec 2006, Justified Public Anger/Disbelief on Philip Yeo being "appointed" (ie not objectively headhunted in a meritocratic manner from amongst other qualified candidates) to the newly-created post [and long-winded title] of  "Special Advisor for Economic Development in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)".
      HOW could one mere Bureaucrat be so indispensable/irreplaceable ???
      AS IF without so-called "Economic Czar" Philip Yeo, Singapore's economy will collapse and Singapore will sink into the South China Sea ???
       
       
      (b)   A SUPER-TSUNAMI  Wave of  Public Anger:
       
      for WITHIN-THE-HEART Issues  e.g. involving large sums of one's own hard-earned monies to purchase a home;   loss of human health or worse, loss of precious/innocent human lives arising from Incompetent Tackling of Disease Threats)
       
      Two Examples:
       
            (i)  The HDB Flat-Pricing Issue [details at para 13]:
       
      Understandable/widespread Public Anger over MND Minister Mah Bow Tan's clever approach of pricing new HDB flats at a cleverly-disguised profit through  using the clever term  "market subsidy"  to confuse HDB flatbuyers into thinking  they are getting an actual cash subsidy.
       
      His "market subsidy" (instead of cost-based) flat-pricing approach had resulted in:
      ---  Both new flat prices and resale flat prices "chasing each other in an upward spiral" --- that is financially disadvantageous to buyers of both new and resale flats !!! 
       
      ---  HDB flatowners sinking so much of their hard-earned income/CPF savings into their "brick and cement" flats, with precious little left for their children's upbringing ( much less for their own healthcare/retirement needs! ).
       
       
            (ii)  2004 Thai Government Bird Flu  Hush-Up/Cover-Up  Scandal:
       
      Note:  From para 10 above, notice how deposed/exiled Thai Prime Minister Thaksin is so clever on  "monetary/materialistic matters"?
      BUT see how he is such a  "useless/hopeless/good-for-nothing" politician through his irresponsible/incompetent handling of Thailand's first Bird Flu outbreak:
       
             The Nation editorial ---  "....the government has been caught red-handed in lying to the people..."
             The Bangkok Post editorial ---  ".... the government's efforts to SWEEP THE PROBLEM UNDER THE CARPET  have  EXPLODED IN ITS FACE,  leaving the poultry industry in tatters and the very  SAFETY OF THE PUBLIC  in jeopardy..."
       
             The parents of the first Thai (a 6-year old boy) to die from Bird Flu VOWED TO SUE the government [with PM Thaksin as first plaintiff and his Cabinet the second plaintiff.]
      Mr Thaksin had finally admitted he had suspected "for a couple of weeks" that the disease had appeared in the kingom but kept it quiet for  "fear of sparking mass panic".
      Boy's angry Father:  "If the government had told us about the spread of bird flu,  we would have protected our son."
      Boy's angry Mother:  "I REGRET VOTING for Thaksin.  I will NEVER FORGIVE them (the government) for this pain."
       
       
      PART 2 ---  The People's Report Card on Minister Mah Bow Tan
       
      12   Quick Background of Minister Mah
       
      Born 12 September 1948.  Married to Dr Sheryn Kaye Von Senden.
      4 children (2 sons, 2 daughters).   Education:  St Joseph's Institution.
      1971 First Degree in Industrial Engrg, University of NSW,Australia.
      1973 Master of Engrg in Operations Research.
       
      Since 1988, Cabinet portfolios held --- Trade & Industry;  Communications & Information;  Environment;  National Development.
       
      (a)  Most Memorable & Telling Results of 1984 Parliamentary Elections:
       
             Potong Pasir (17,915)
             SDP  Chiam See Tong    10,128 (60.28%)
             PAP  Mah Bow Tan          6,674 (39.72%)
        
      [ The People of Singapore have decided wisely and rightly rejected Mr Mah, who was thoroughly trounced by Mr Chiam See Tong, with an astounding/convincing margin! ]
       
           It is thus hardly surprising that for all the subsequent five General Elections (1988, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2006), Mr Mah "took cover" [popular National Service phrase] under the Tampines Group Representation Constituency --- a clearly-clever move to avoid a repetition of the 1984 election embarassment.
       
           It is also no wonder that, since that terrible trouncing, Mr Mah has consistently  "topped the Internet forum charts" as the PAP Minister attracting the most number of  "uncomplimentary comments" --- with ex-Minister Yeo Cheow Tong coming in a close second, followed by  Ministers Ng Eng Hen and Vivian Balkrishnan.
       
           Mr Mah thus need to decide for himself (and quickly) whether he wants to go down Singapore's history books as  "The Rejected PAP Politician"  or  "The Respected PAP Politician" (by the likes of Toh Chin Chye and the late S Rajaratnam).
       
           In one National Day rally speech, former PM Goh Chok Tong had advised Singaporeas to look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they are "stayers or quitters".
      By the same token, Minister Mah will do well to look at himself in the mirror and ask:
      As a politician, am I  "truly" respected by the people?
      Have I  "truly"  earned or deserved the people's respect?
       
      What S'poreans Say (Internet):
      Minister Mah, as PM Lee had acknowledged in para 4 above, S'poreans are the best judge of your  "ministerial mettle" --- i.e. whether you have  "justified your Cabinet minister post" and  "earned your million-dollar keep".
       
      S'poreans are not 3-year old kids. Neither are they so stupid as not to know that your  "numerous re-elections [since 1984] under cover of a GRC" are victories both hollow and without honour --- as voters were denied the opportunity to vote directly either for or against you!
       
      Question 1/5  for Minister Mah:
      Come the next 2011 General Elections, will you take up this [the people's] Open Challenge to you to offer yourself as the PAP Candidate in a contested SMC (Single Member Constituency)?
      We would prefer to see you take on Chiam See Tong again (at Potong Pasir) or else Low Thia Khiang(at Hougang) --- but if these two SMCs are  "too formidable"  for you, any contested SMC will do!
       
       
      (b)  Public Anger over Govt Scholarships for Children of Million-dollar Politicians & for Foreigners:
       
      First Round of Public Anger ---  Thanks to the infamous Internet website bearing the exclusive name of ex-Cabinet Minister Yeo Cheow Tong (arising from the equally-infamous "Escape from Paradise" website), S'poreans  "discovered" the little-known fact that Mr Mah's son, Warren Mah, had studied at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania --- fully paid for on a scholarship from Monetary Authority of Singapore (a statutory board).
       
      Second Round of Public Anger ---  Arose from the report "40% of this year's NUS bursaries go to foreigners" (TNP 21 Nov 06).
       
      What S'poreans Say (Internet):
      WHY are our MILLION-DOLLAR Ministers (and even Senior Bureaucrats e.g. Philip Yeo, Lim Siong Guan) .....
      .....at times  "so thin-skinned"  in their ultra-sensitive reaction to the slightest criticism  [ AS IF S'poreans have no right to comment/criticise their words/actions! ] and spending their expensively-paid time not in solving national problems but in suing this and that person; this and that publication.....
       
      .....BUT at other times  "so thick-skinned"  in having absolutely no qualms whatsoever getting their children to apply for Govt Scholarships to study at prestigious overseas universities (AT TAXPAYER'S EXPENSE!)
       
      How TRANSPARENT and OBJECTIVE are the selection criteria when people on the Scholarship Selection Committees are mostly Civil Servants?
      SHOULD NOT such scholarships be awarded to other  "truly financially-needy" students ???
       
      Minister Mah, over your 18 years as Cabinet Minister, Singaporeans (and NOT the PAP!) have paid you in total an estimated handsomely-humongous S$23 million (based on first 8 years @ $1 million p.a. and next 10 years @ $1.5 million p.a. basic salary --- ie excluding bonuses/other perks.)
       
      Congratulations on joining the ranks of Singapore's Exclusive Club of 18 multi-millionaire ministers!
      So, don't tell us you cannot "afford" to finance your children's university education through  Father's Scholarship (ie from your own pocket) ???
      After all, your son's MAS scholarship is worth about S$300,000 --- which, by PAP standards, is merely  "half a peanut", right ???
       
      Minister Mah, with your Master degree, you should know the meanings of  "moral backbone" and  "moral conscience"?
      If not, may God Save Singapore [updated version of God Save The Queen]!
       
      Question 2/5  for Mr Mah:  
      Are you planning for your remaining three children (and perhaps future grandchildren) to also apply for S'pore Govt Scholarships?
       
       
      13   The HDB Flat Pricing Issue
       
      13.1  Irrefutable Facts on Home Ownership In Singapore:
       
      FACT 1:
      Singapore's private home prices are "obscenely-high" while HDB flat prices are "sky-high".
      For most S'poreans, a home is the most costly purchase they will make in their lifetimes.
      Some 90% of our population live in HDB flats --- representing the less-well-off who cannot afford private property.
       
      FACT 2:
      Despite our high home prices, few buyers  "feel the pinch"  immediately because up to 90% of the cost can be financed by long-term home mortgage loans (over 20 -30 years).
      Thus, many do not give a second thought to the fact if they borrow, say, $200,000 under a 20-year home loan, they could ultimately end up paying some $300,000 (in total capital and interest repayments).
       
      FACT 3:
      If prices of cars reach intolerable levels [at one time, COE nearly hit $100,000!], Singaporeans can at least forego owning a car and fall back on public transport.
      However, to encourage young S'poreans not to delay marriage and have more children [solution towards our Procreation Problem!], they need a roof over their heads  at reasonable cost!   IT IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT !!!
       
      FACT 4:
      BUT if a young couple in Singapore have to  "sink so much" of their hard-earned income/CPF savings  into their  "brick and cement"  HDB flat,  how much monies will there be left to raise a family and sent the children to school/university  (not to mention providing for their own healthcare/retirement needs in their golden years) ???
       
       
      13.2   Pricing of HDB New Flats --- An Issue of Transparency & Accountability to Singaporeans:  
       
      (a)   Since 2002, many HDB flatbuyers have become  "very suspicious" on how HDB new flats are actually priced.
       
      Various people (incl this writer) have written on numerous occasions to newspaper forums on this important issue affecting some 90% of our population.
       
      12 Jul 2004 ST Forum letter  "How does HDB price its flats?"  by Douglas Chow Tuck Kheong.   
      He had "discovered" from ST reports that HDB Contractor Chip Eng Seng  had in 2000 built 824 flats in Bukit Batok for the tendered sum of $39.78 million, and in 2004 another 456 flats for $23 million.
      That works out at around $50,000 construction cost per flat (in both cases). He then rightly asked why these new HDB 4/5 room flats are priced upwards of $200,000?
       
       
      (b)   Most recent ST Forum exchanges on HDB Flat-Pricing Issue:
      1st Round:
      10 Nov 06  "How does HDB price WIS flats?" by Tan Wee Ping.
      HDB 17 Nov 06 reply (1 week later): "How prices of new HDB flats arrived at".
       
      2nd Round:
      25 Nov 06  "No subsidy in new HDB flats, just a discount" by Cheong Chee Mun.
      HDB  8 Dec 06 reply (2 weeks later!): "HDB consistently incurs losses selling new flats".
       
      3rd Round:
      14 Dec 06  "Deficit in HDB flat sales a paper loss to Govt" by Steven Lo Chock Fei.
      HDB 28 Dec 06 reply (another 2 weeks later!): "Why sale of state land is done at market price".
       
      4th Round:
      1 Jan 07  "Did HDB land pricing use Raffles as rule?" by Viktor Ye Kok Kheong.
      2 Jan 07  "Settle question of HDB subsidy once and for all" by Leong Sze Hian.
      HDB 10 Jan 07 reply (9 days later): "New flats' market value minus sale price = subsidy".
       
      Comments:
      All the HDB replies were tardy (ie in clear breach of the PS21 Civil Service 3-working day Response Directive). 
      7 to 14 days needed to "cook up" the dodgy twist-and-turn/beat-about-the-bush  replies ??? --- which attracted many angry Internet postings over the PAP Govt's recalcitrant  "lack of transparency and accountability to the people"  in disclosing the full facts (with detailed data) behind the HDB Flat Pricing Issue.
       
      Indeed, since 2002, Minister Mah and the HDB have constantly dodged the issue with the standard exasperating reply that a "market subsidy" is provided for new HDB flats to make it  "affordable".
       
             
      13.3   Comparison between the "cost-based"  and  HDB "market subsidy" flat pricing approach:
       
      (a)   Firstly,  the logical  "cost-based" approach widely used by Private Developers to price their condo flats:
       
      Selling Price =  Construction Cost + Land Cost + Other Related Costs + Profit Margin.
       
      For Private Developers, the profit margin is for assuming business risks, and generally range from a few per cent to say 20% (depending on market conditions).
       
      [ Note:   HDB should be adopting such a "cost-based" approach but without the profit element --- since HDB is supposed to be a  "not-for-profit" Developer of low-cost mass public housing
      So that, through its large-scale developments, it can reap the  "economies of scale" and pass on the  "substantial cost savings" to HDB flatbuyers! ]
       
       
      >>   Consider the example of a new HDB 5-room flat,
             with a tendered construction cost of $50,000 [para 13.2a actual data]     
             but selling price set by the HDB at $200,000
       
      Note:   It is a GRAVE INSULT to the intelligence of S'poreans for Minister Mah and HDB to argue that the hugh difference of  $150,000 is accounted for by Land Cost & Other Related Costs (eg piling works; consultancy/project management fees; financing/marketing/legal/misc costs).
       
      Nowadays, HDB flats are built HIGHER and CLOSER TOGETHER i.e. with MANY flats cramped into a SMALL PLOT of land --- so the PER UNIT share of  "Land Cost(even at market value& Other Related Costs" cannot be so high at $150,000. 
      Let's estimate it at, say, around $70,000.]
       
       
      >>  So, Total Break-even Cost of the new 5-rm flat
      $50,000 (Construction Cost) plus $70,000 (Land Cost & Other Related Costs)
      $120,000  (which the HDB should set as the Selling Price --- if it genuinely want to help S'poreans in home ownership) 
       
      Generally-accepted meaning of  "(cash) subsidy":  
       
            (i)   If the Total Break-even Cost of the new flat is $120,000 and the HDB sells it for $100,000, then it is granting an actual  "cash subsidy"  of $20,000 to the buyer.
       
            (ii)  Alternatively, if the HDB sells it for $120,000 (Total Break-even Cost), there is no cash subsidy to the buyer ( but he will AT LEAST benefit from buying the flat at the LOWEST POSSIBLE COST! )
       
       
      (b)   Secondly, this how the HDB's "market subsidy" flat-pricing approach works:
       
      [  MND Minister Mah Bow Tan in Parliament, responding to questions from NCMP Steve Chia:
       
      "All HDB flats come with a market subsidy, i.e. they are priced below their equivalent market value." (on 1 Sep 2004)
       
      "The difference between what buyers paid HDB for their (new) flats and the market value of the flats is the market subsidy provided by HDB" (on 19 Apr 2005) ]
       
       
      Minister Mah is effectively trying to tell a young Singapore couple planning to have 3 children and wanting to buy a new HDB 5-rm flat as follows:
       
      Hey fellas, you have only the following two choices (so take it or leave it):
      ---  Apply for a new 5-rm flat, but be prepared to pay whatever selling price we set and to wait a few years (at one time, as long as 7 years! )
      ---  If you cannot wait, then go and buy a resale 5-rm flat at the (higher) prevailing market price.
       
      We, the PAP Govt, like to proudly proclaim that buyers of new HDB flats get a "market subsidy" --- which is provided  "by pricing new flats below the market price of comparable resale flats."
       
      So,  the HDB will look at the prevailing market price (say, $260,000) of a resale 5-rm flat --- and then  "pluck from the air"  a slightly lower figure of, say,  $200,000 as the selling price of a new 5-rm flat (NEVER MIND if its actual Total Break-even Cost is only $120,000 !!! ).
       
      You, Singaporeans are "so damn lucky" and should not "moan and groan" --- the PAP Govt is giving you a "market subsidy" of  $60,000 [ $260,000 resale flat price minus $200,000 new flat price], right??? 
      And that's why you must vote for the PAP  for another 40 years of  MORE GOOD YEARS !!!
       
       
      13.4   IMPORTANT CONCLUSIONS FOR ALL HDB FLAT BUYERS TO NOTE:
       
      (i)   The HDB "market subsidy"  is thus really a  "fake non-cash subsidy" --- as compared to an actual "cash subsidy".
       
      By selling a new 5-rm flat (with Total Break-even Cost at $120,000)
      for $200,000there is NO  actual "cash subsidy" at all
      AND the HDB is really raking in a handsome profit of $80,000 PER FLAT SOLD !!!
      [ Yet another PAP ingenious way to milk more monies out of the people !!! ]
       
      (ii)  Most Importantly, this HDB "market subsidy" flat-pricing approach had resulted in both  NEW FLAT prices and RESALE FLAT prices "chasing each other in an upward spiral" --- that is financially disadvantageous to  buyers of both new and resale flats !!! 
       
       
      Most Pertinent Question: 
      Is the PAP Govt a truly Caring Govt or actually a Money-Sucking Govt?
       
      How the PAP Govt made handsome profits (not just once but twice) from selling new flats to HDB buyers:
       
      First Round profit:
      By costing land at HDB estates at (prevailing/higher) "market value".
      But most of these land were acquired donkey years ago under the Land Acquisitions Act at "dirt-cheap" compensation payouts to the landowners by the PAP Govt!
      The difference is the profit coming from the Land Cost component of the HDB new flat's selling price.
       
      Second Round profit:
      Which is the "cleverly-disguised profit" arising from the cleverly-conceived "market subsidy" flat-pricing approach (as stated in para 13.4(i) above).
       
      [ Note:   Some 20 years ago, when HDB Marine Parade Estate was completed, new 5rm flats there was priced around $35,000.
      In 1990, average prices of new 5 rm flats was around $70,000.
      Such prices then were likely  "cost-based".
       
      But somewhere down the line, the policy-maker(s) must have thought: "Why sell HDB new flats so cheaply based on cost?  Why not peg the selling prices of new flats to the prevailing market prices for resale flats?
      This will be a  BIG CASH COW to increase revenue for the Government! " ]
       
       
      Most Compelling Conclusion: 
      Governments collecting various taxes/dues from the People to run their countries is an acceptable/understandable practice.
       
      BUT to "milk so much monies" from the people for "a roof over their heads" (a very basic social amenity, which any good/caring Govt should provide) is certainly a  "morally-reprehensible political sin" !!!
       
      And especially ironic against the constant calls by PAP politicians to S'poreans to treat Singapore as HOME (both literally and figuratively).
       
      "And we must invest in our young, who are the hope for our future.  
      This will strengthen our bonds, and assure every Singaporean of a brighter future, as we create  OUR BEST HOME IN SINGAPORE."
      --- PM Lee Hsien Loong  17 Feb 06 Budget Speech ]
       
      PM Lee Hsien Loong (3 Dec 06 PAP Party Conference):
        "...The HDB Home Ownership Scheme is one of four pillars of our social safety net..." ]
       
       
      13.5  A Good Example of Minister Mah's trademark twist-and-turn dodgy tactics:
       
      [ TODAY 2 May 06  "Mah to SDA: Want to build flats for me? Opposition charge of high-up for HDB homes irks minister."
      TODAY 3 May 06  "Flats for $70K?  Do your homework: Mah" ]
       
      [ BT 3 May 06  "HDB prices are far beyond original costs: Steve Chia" ]
       
      What S'poreans Say (Internet):
      ( many angry postings on this pathetic performance of Minister Mah during the 2006 General Elections)
      As Minister, he (and not the Opposition) has access to all the full facts/figures behind the HDB Flat-Pricing Issue --- which he should have publicised openly to let the citizen-voters judge for themselves whether to give their votes to him or the Opposition.
      Instead, true to form, he dodged the issue once again by his silly/childish challenge to the Opposition.
       

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