What’s up Doc?

012: What’s up Doc? Or who needs a carrot when you own the farm?

In a report in the ST dated 5th Feb 2011*, PM Lee is quoted as saying, ‘I think everybody will be hoping for bigger hongbao and I’m sure the Finance Minister will know what to do.’

I’m also sure the Finance Minister will know what to do.  The PM has told him to give the people pocket money, maybe an orange or two and he will obey. After all what’s a billion dollars or two in the context of a budget surplus of over 10% of GDP and a net asset position of hundreds of billions of dollars.

With elections around the corner, the incumbents are obviously confident that the electorate will be swayed by a dangling carrot on a stick and that the carrot will not only induce good night vision but also amnesia.

I hope through the articles on this blog to show you why you don’t need the carrot as you own the land on the farm in which it was grown. That land was tilled and fertilised with your toil and sweat.

As I pointed out in an article on 4th December 2010**, if interest and investment income is included, the total Government surplus for 2010 is likely to be over $30 billion. In fact surpluses of around 10% of GDP have been racked up regularly over the last ten years.  And this probably excludes the gains on Temasek and GIC investments as well as not counting the gain in value of the 79% of Singapore’s land ultimately owned by the SLA. In fact this year the government could afford to give a tax rebate or extra spending of $10,000 per Singaporean while not dipping into reserves. But they’d need a bigger red packet.

Next time your government talks about giving you something, remember that you own the farm. Our sovereign wealth funds have been built up by our people scrimping and saving and going without services that are taken for granted in other rich countries. You never received a proper explanation for how much money was lost in 2008 in Temasek and GIC. No heads rolled and you never found out why Chuck Goodyear resigned.  The farm land is surrounded with three lines of razor wire and KEEP OUT signs for Singaporeans. Time that we had a Freedom of Information Act, I think.

I have previously proposed privatizing Temasek and GIC and listing them on our stock exchange whereupon they would be required to be open and transparent about their performance. Shares would be distributed to all Singaporeans which you would be encouraged to hold for the long-term. After all their assets ultimately belong to you!

It is time to hire a new manager for your farm. One with your interests at heart.

*http://www.straitstimes.com/PrimeNews/Story/STIStory_631373.html

**http://votingrp.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/%E2%80%9Csingaporeans-to-gain-from-strong-government-revenue%E2%80%9D-the-rps-response/

About kjeyaretnam

As a blogger I hope to help imagine a model for a New Asian Nation to bring about a free and fair future for Singapore. I'm a Singaporean born and bred and a Cambridge trained economist who could be broadly described as from the Keynesian school. I'm also a successful ex - hedge fund manager and a liberal opposition politician who contested the 2011 General Election with his party. After economics and politics my greatest interests are history, film and makan!

Posted on February 5, 2011, in The market and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Kenneth,
    You have put your money where your mouth is. I say well done and keep up your efforts. Singaporeans will make up thier own minds but your efforts will go a long way to making them believe that there are credible options to the PAP. This will take time but change is inevitable. The PAP is intelligent enough to know this. Singaporeans must first overcome the fear that is gripping them.

  2. I quite like the sound of “Orchid Revolution” ;-)
    Or maybe “Farmers Revolution” .

    Great post and a reminder that we OWN the farm! We GREW the carrots, and they turn it around with a stick to redistribute to us. Haha, not this time! I’ll have my carrots, eat it and whip it!

  3. I say let’s grap the carrot and kick the Doc’s S. Whatever goodies the miw dish out we can just take it with open arms and still vote against them. I dare the miw to openly declare that the goodies are only for citizens who vote for the miw.

  4. The last time the privatised Singtel, only those eligible got shares. GIC and Temasek shares should be owned by all Singaporeans, new, old, to be borned. Listing them and distributing shares once, if unfair to new and to be borned Singaporeans.

  5. Koh Kee Sen Matthew

    Like you said KJ, we should own the farm. S$10,000 is something the government can well afford to give to each Singaporean. Election Sweeteners are a way PAP uses the government reserves to further the PAP’s election interests. Singaporeans must rise above this and vote with their heads to effect real change for Singapore and not e bought over by money which is basically theirs. The Opposition Parties are deprived of funds to run against the PAP; so the people must realise that they need to level the playing-field by supporting the Oppositon through their votes. “All for Greater Democracy!”

  6. nice new title for your blog and great article. looking forward to more of your posts.

    change MUST come and it will come. LKY says in 20 years but it could be as soon as 10 years or 2 elections.

    just like mubarak who went from winning 88% of the vote in the most recent election to being on the verge of being booted out, and suharto who went from winning two thirds of the vote to being booted out….PAP’s fall from power will come swift, quick, and catch a lot of people by surprise.

    it is a time of historic change. In 2020 when the PAP finally loses their disgraceful and sweaty grip on power, I will be one of those who can proudly say ‘I saw the light and voted opposition when the majority of Singaporeans were still too blinkered and afraid to do the right thing’

  7. Helpful details! I have been browsing for things like this for some time currently. Many thanks!

  8. I just did a good deed today. Broke a man’s leg and loan (not give as it costs money) him a crutch. Just like dear PAP government.

  9. native singaporean

    Continuing applying same tactic to rule singaporeans will do more harm than good to the ruling party. Anyway we have seem through their plans and have enough of their nonsense !

    Political change is seriously needed Once And For All !

  10. Just a brief reflection triggered by this post…

    There is this strange sense that we Singaporeans are a people owned by their state and not owning their state. Everything is for the good of the State, and it is assumed that this will be good for the People — yet the connection seems tenuous in many cases. The logic that nobody is greater than the state, and hence the state should have rights over each ‘body’, only works when the bodies are not living breathing human beings.

    I feel a lot better when not being thought of as a ‘factor of production’, and more a citizen who wants his fellow travellers on the ship of state to have a collectively, as well as individually, good time on the voyage.

  11. *Chip* Goodyear

  12. Linking upgrading to votes has never gone down well with me. It’s like I have to promise my farm hand continued employment before he allows me to use my own money to add a small room to the cottage. lol, nice analogy Kenneth. I like it.

  13. Hi Kenneth, first of all I would like to commend you for stepping out & volunteering your time, knowledge & proposals for the betterment of our country state. You could have just live a relatively simple & comfortable life in your own capacity, pursuing your own dreams. For that, I commend your courage & sacrifice.

    However, I would just like to clarify if it’s contradictory when you said that you are a ‘Keynesian’ free-market proponent? While I’m no economics student, I’ve read a couple of economics literature for leisure & thought it’s either you are a ‘Keynesian’ economist or a free-market economist. As such, would just like to seek your clarification on this matter.
    Finally, thanks again for your service to serve our country.

    • Thanks Harrison for your generous praise. As to your second point, there is nothing incompatible with believing in markets and being a Keynesian. In fact Keynes was no socialist and was credited as being the economist who saved capitalism which might have collapsed if the governments had continued to cut spending and raise taxes in the face of a depression. I believe that free markets are generally the best way of allocating scarce resources but there is still a role for government in cases of market failure such as a slump in aggregate demand brought about by a financial crisis as happened in 1929 and 2008.

  14. Hey Kenneth,

    I agree with your proposal of listing GIC and Temasek on the stock exchange. Also, the people of Singapore should hold the shares of those companies. In the first AGM, the stakeholders should list a number of suggestions to turn the fortunes of the company around. Board members of the company should also not have political background as these are investment companies and board positions should be held by industry experts.

    Not sure if you have read the declassified documents from England? I wonder if someone can dismiss the truth of it? And how our history textbook has been tailored. I hope every citizen would give it a read at least.

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 7 Feb 2011 « The Singapore Daily

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