Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hongbao Budget 2008 - Straits Times or Reuters?

Hongbao Budget 2008 - Straits Times or Reuters?

I'm amazed by the use so many pictures of red and golden "hongbao" and inverted "fu" luck symbol in the Budget 2008 supplement in the printed version of Straits Time today.

Headlines and items include:
- $2,300 Hongbao for the Tok family
- One-off hongbao for all adult S'poreans this year
- Those over 51 to get Govt top-up of their CPF Medisave
- What's in his hongbao ... public assistance will get $330, up from $290

Why all the celebratory "lucky", "feel good" as if "strike Toto or 4D" song and dance about? What's this excessive publicity about? What's the hype?

I know it's the 10th day of Chinese New Year today but are Singaporeans getting a fantastic and auspicious deal from Budget 2008? It's great to read the commentary "Bonanza Budget furthers strategic aims" by Ms Chua Mui Hoong that "the figure is about 62 per cent of the $1.4 billion increased revenue from the hike in goods and services tax (GST) - which means that through the Growth Dividend, the Government is giving back man-in-the-street 60 cents of every extra dollar it collected from the GST hike."

Pardon my candour but instead of Hongbao Budget, some may think it's "Peh Kim Budget" as all the Govt-imposed hikes and the ongoing ever-increasing inflation is "killing" us. (For those who are not familiar with the term, "peh kim" is donation given to bereaved family). Then again, Choi, thai kah lai see, (touch wood!) it's Chinese New Year!

Well, they changed the laws to suck much of our money last year (by increasing GST, PUB, public transport fare hikes, ERP, GST-loaded daily necessities price increases, conservancy charges, delay CPF Minimum Sum Payment, etc. and what have you). Now being wise after the event with 20/20 hindsight, they've decided to give back some. Not all but "some". Just "some" to pull wool over our eyes again?

So is there cause to celebrate being lesser victims now?

Victims to a system whereby laws are changed for the benefits of those who make the laws? Or for the benefit of the poor who may now have $330 per month instead of $290.

Remember Parliament:
[Dr Lily Neo:
Sir, I want to check with the Minister again on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of "subsistence living"? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C, and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?]

Hopefully, $330 is enough for 3 decent meals a day in hawker centres?

Who knows?

It's after reading Reuters below, that I found out what the celebration is about. Oh, the huge Hongbao's and "FU" are meant for the fat cats!

Reuters - Saturday, February 16

SINGAPORE, Feb 15 - Singapore government ministers and other political appointees, the world's best paid, will cost taxpayers another 15 percent in the coming financial year starting April, according to the city-state's budget on Friday.

The state will spend S$66.5 million on political appointments, up from S$58.1 million in the current fiscal year to March -- which was also 27 percent up on 2006/2007.

The government announced two rounds of pay hikes for ministers last year, raising Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's annual pay to S$3.76 million -- at least five times that of U.S. President George W. Bush

Now I know!

And thanks to

I know better!


Feed Me To The Fish


At February 19, 2008 at 3:00 AM , Blogger soojenn said...

Fantastic summary... you wrote precisely what went through my mind. I left a comment also on MySingaporeNews Blog where the writer was chiding Singaporeans for being ungrateful. The writer should read what you have written and is unimaginably naive.

You are hitting the hammer right on the nail.. "peh kim" is the right word to describe what they have dished out to Singaporeans this CNY.

Give the Singaporeans the droppings? .. after paying the multi million dollar to the ministers and the 2 old men in waiting.

What do you expect from Vivian? or from any of the ministers who have absolutely no clue what it is like to run short of money.

Again, it is only natural for the Singapore media, especially the ST to only report what the old man wants the Singaporean to read. Therefore again the external press and the internet has provided the information, conveniently not provided by the local media resulting in an inaccurate picture of the whole affair

At February 20, 2008 at 12:05 PM , Blogger redbean said...

feed me to the cat,

you asking why so many 'FUs'?

Now what does FU stand for: )

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