Academics, economists and sociologists are demanding more than the "pledge to share more information." They want the raw data, instead of the ad hoc releases from the official propaganda machine. We have seen how Lawrence Wong massaged the MOM statistic about how the bottom 20 percent income earners stagnated over the past decade. Wong broke the numbers into first half of the decade with a negative plunge, and second half of the decade with the recovery, emphasizing the second to cover the pain of the first, and ignoring the same end result: real monthly income change for the 20th percentile of 0.3% for 2001-2010.
Researchers and university dons seem to focus on the two hot-button issues - foreigners and wages. But the data which merits closer scrutiny is the costing for the HDB flats. Recall the "Report on The National Kidney Foundation" dated 16 December 2005 by KPMG which stumbled across the TT Durai style of accounting:
6.11.1 The NKF reported in its Investment Report 2004 that it enabled its patients to save in excess of $3.5 million in treatment costs by providing subsidies for costly medication and by bringing down drug prices.
6.11.2 We found that the amount of such savings was derived from the difference between the prices charged by NKF and a notional market price of drugs based on estimated annual consumption in 2004 instead of the difference between the prices charged by the NKF and the actual prices of drugs paid by the NKF. These savings were reflected in invoices given to patients.
6.11.3 We found that the stated cost of drugs dispensed to patients as reflected in the invoices closely approximated the market price of the drugs.
One may argue that, going by the dictionary definition of subsidy, being "Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest," HDB flats are subsidised. But what if the actual accounting is a facsimile of the NKF model? In his last dying gasps as Minister of National Development, Mah Bow Tan muddied the waters further by adding the notion of national reserves into the costing.
There is anecdotal evidence that the subsidised medication from our Healthcare system may be sourced cheaper across the Causeway. In the Michael Moore 2007 documentary "Sicko", Americans crossed the border to Canada for more affordable medicine. Since Singapore is a duty free station, there should be no significant disparity in prices of pharmaceutical products in JB. Unless the bean counters have a different philosophy in preparing the books. Will a Freedom of Information Act provide any illumination in such murky waters?