Monday, August 5, 2013

Blame Faulty Memories

The porcine politicians in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" started off by forswearing the imbibing of alcoholic beverages. Later they made some tweaks to accommodate the true state of their lily white convictions. One day their subject animals woke up to discover that the commandment reading “No animal shall drink alcohol” actually reads “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.”  As with previous revisions of the Seven Commandments painted on the barn, the animals blame the apparent change on their faulty memories — they must have forgotten the final two words.

It was not so long ago we were told the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is not regressive. Never mind what the economics books say. Singapore's GST was first introduced on April 1, 1994, at 3%. It was increased to 4% on 1 January 2003, 5% on 1 January 2004, and 7% on 1 July 2007. Then in 2008, Transport Minister Raymond Lim went the extent of making a vile veiled threat of a further 1.5% hike, "You want the GST to go up to 8.5 per cent, to run a completely free bus and MRT system?”

Speaking at a Channel NewsAsia forum in March 2012, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam still maintained that "most of the taxes are paid by those who are better off and the benefits are received by those less well off." The new permanent GST voucher was introduced in that year to supposedly offset the 7 per cent GST that the lower half of retiree households pay on their expenses.

GST plus vouchers is not regressive. All too soon, the electorate will blame the apparent change on their faulty memories — they must have forgotten the two important words.

This year's GST voucher will not help everybody. Retirees staying in, not renting out, homes with annual value exceeding $21,000 will not be receiving the check. Retirees with zero income will still have to pay GST for goods and services purchased, including the water consumption component in the utilities bill, which is already subject to a hefty 30% Water Conservation Tax. Even if they switch off lights, wash at public toilets, and resort to a free smoke by opening windows to the haze from Sumatra, last we heard, the Mandai Columbarium still charges GST.


  1. Haha.. Good one. Some animals are indeed more equal than others.

  2. Can the animals be faulted for their memory lapses? If you listen to one of Ah Loong's long-winded NDR speeches, by the time he gets to the middle of his speech, we would have forgotten what he said at the beginning. But what we cannot forget are their selective amnesia on their promises and their DRUMS (can't resist this word, it cuts both ways!).

    Finance Minister Tharman said after GE2011: "As Finance Minister, I have made that very clear in Parliament that at least for the next five years – it does not mean we will raise it in five years’ time – but at least for five years, there is absolutely no reason to raise the GST". Haha, of course, but don't hold your breath if they raise it after GE2016.

    1. The PM had already said he would raise the GST to 10% if he had to, when the 7% GST was announced after GE2006.

  3. Today's protagonists make the animals in that farm looking like amateurs.

  4. Four legs good two legs bad soon mutated to four legs good but two legs better! Most of us ordinary wage earners don't get gst voucher this time round. They must have forgotten the permanent part as promised when they first introduced. They keep breaking their promises. How to trust them? If not for the fall of Alj GRC the gst would have gone up to 10% now! Really langgar!

  5. What the PAP needs now is a good whipping loss in GE2016. Only by losing their majority in Parliament and be utterly shamed in the next GE and their whole political history as a party, will the PAP and the next coalition govt learn to listen to the people. This will be a step towards having a govt being more attentive to its citizens.

    1. This will be called a freak election result and the army will be called in a la Egypt.

    2. The army is already in - in the seats of chiefs of several govt agencies and more.
      I guess it will then be just a matter of calling them.

      The question is what will they be told? One instruction could be: Stop all public transport...

    3. Calling in the army after a "freak election result" will be disastrous for the MIW if they go down this path.
      The gov of the day will have no legitimacy and will be treated like a pariah by the UN. The consequences will be unimaginable for SinCity. If this ever becomes a reality, I predict Ah Loong and famiLee will eventually join Thaksin...

    4. Hey, if they ever call me in, I will know instinctively where to point my 155mm gun.

  6. They will adhere to process.

    It is process that will provide the symptoms that will satisfy legitimacy.
    Principles is another thing altogether.

    You wanted to voice your concerns right?
    They gave you the Singapore Conversation ( process)

    You wanted alternate voice in parliament right?
    They gave you NC MPs... (and a few more extras)(process)

    You wanted fair hearings right?
    They gave you coroners hearings etc ( process )

    But what is the nett result after all this?
    Processes met but principles remained tight and tighter still.

    Focus on the principles.. and flaws will emerge.

    Some favourites:

    We are vulnerable (despite so many years??)
    We are small ( takes more than an hour on MRT )
    There are uncertainties ahead ( GST is uncertain?)
    CPF is for old age ( but can use to fund house )

  7. At least Napolean was in charge then, it does not seem the case now. The animals are running helter skelter while the dogs, chickens, sheep are not talking to one another. We need Babe, the pig.

    1. Those Orwellian pigs are pussy cats compared to fat cats with sharp claws.