WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN [till the next boo-boo]

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The nation-builder press, Nov 15 2002.

On Nov 15 2002, General Lee Hsien Loong told $ingaporeans the GST was on course to be raised to 5 % by Jan 1 2003. He said: "You cannot have the goodies — the income-tax cuts — but not also have the GST hike make up for it. You must have both halves… Otherwise you’re going to have a chronic budget deficit."

The nation-builder press, Dec 6 2002.

But on Dec 5 2002, General Lee compromised and announced in Parliament he was going to raise the GST in two phases. This is how the Asian Wall Street Journal reported on Dec 6-8 2002:

"The Singapore government, responding to strong public unhappiness and a weak economy, has revised the timetable for raising the city-state’s sales tax to 5% from 3%."


While Singaporeans were publicly unhappy with the GST rise, only one Singaporean economist publicly disagreed with the GST hike. His letter to the nation-builder press appeared on Nov 28 2002.

The nation-builder press, Nov 28 2002.

Augustine H H Tan wrote this: "In a climate of uncertainty, the psychological impact of the GST hike should not be underrated. Even with offsets, the negative impact on consumer confidence will be there…."

If he is who we think he is, Mr Tan is a former PAP MP and an economist at Singapore University. As far as we remember, no other Singapore economist offered a public view differing with the PAP.


Mr Tan also wrote: "We should also bear in mind that many Singaporeans will shop elsewhere to avoid the higher GST: the retail sector will then face additional downward pressure."

The nation-builder press, Apr 12 2002.

This is what Ms Olivia Lum, the CEO of water-treatment company Hyflux [makers of NEWater] said in April 2002:

"I buy my clothes when I travel overseas on business. So the increase in GST wouldn’t affect me very much. Yet, I will have a higher income because I don’t have to pay so much in taxes. At the end of the day, I think I will gain."

You bet.

Ms Lum is no ordinary $ingaporean. On July 8 2002, she was sworn in as a Nominated Member of Parliament.

The nation-builder press, July 9 2002.


Singaporean Lee Peng Wai wrote to the nation-builder press Nov 16 2002 the following:

The nation-builder press, Nov 16 2002.

This Mr Lee argued: "Now, they [Malaysians] are asking us to visit them and buy cheap things [Malaysia has no GST to speak of].

"Do they think we patriotic $ingaporeans are stupid?

"I urge all $ingaporeans not to heed the call, in case, 10 years down the road, the Malaysians accuse us of travelling to Malaysia and buying their things ‘below standard price’. The Goods and Services Tax may be going up, but that is no reason to abandon our pride."

"If your NMP is going shopping overseas, do you think well-to-do $ingaporeans are behaving otherwise, Mr Lee?"
The young, restless and cynical Mirror of Opinion, Dec 6 2002.


The nation-builder press, Dec 6 2002.

Sharing a joke in Parliament was NMP Steve Chia and General Lee Hsien Loong. Here’s how the pair had a laugh:

STEVE CHIA: I have actually hoped for a full deferment until the economy recovers for at least one year. But as the saying goes, if you can’t get a big fish, at least ikan bilis is still better than nothing.

GENERAL LEE: I would just thank Mr Steve Chia for his support for my $650 million ikan bilis.

Not a single PAP MP who is also an NTUC labor leader reminded the General that the 1999 CPF cuts cost Singapore workers $7.5 BILLION in earnings a YEAR.

In fact, NTUC labor leader and PAP MP Madam Halimah Yacob told Mr Chia that the revenue the government was forgoing was "a lot".


Way back in Oct 1999, the PAP MPs gathered in Parliament to make a promise — "people first".

The nation-builder press, Oct 12 1999.

But on Dec 5 2002, PAP MPs said yes to raising the GST and making the people pay first even before the CPF cuts are restored.

The nation-builder press, Dec 6 2002.

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