National Day Rallies: Who did it better?

August may just be one of Singaporeans’ favourite month.

Besides the National Day celebrations and the National Day Parade, there’s also the National Day Rally to look out for. Ahem, we are always looking out for goodies given out at NDR okay?

What’s special this year was that SDP’s secretary general, Mr Chee Soon Juan, decided to deliver his own National Day Message (NDM) to Singaporeans, the day before PM Lee’s National Day Rally.

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So we took the liberty to make some comparisons between the style of the two leaders:

Round 1:  Constructive criticism or Mindless ranting?

Chee painted a rather negative and depressing picture of Singapore, focusing on very micro issues.

In his speech, Chee took the opportunity to lash out at the Government for all its failings, from MRT breakdowns to low birth rates. Anything you can possibly think of to blame the Government for doing a terrible job – it’s there. But, you’ve got to give credit where it’s due – he was pointing out the concerns of the common Singaporean in the street.

However, it was interesting that Chee selectively chose what he wanted to present to the public. The implementation of policies that have been somewhat helpful to the Singaporeans was completely omitted from his NDM, for example, the Pioneer Generation Package

We were listening very closely to his NDM, hoping to get some glimpse of proposals and solutions that SDP might have in stall for these ‘failings’ that they raised.

But none came. It was complaints, after complaints, after complaints.

Take one example — housing, which Chee raised in his NDM.

He went on at length to complain about promises made by Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong that the value of HDBs will continue to increase. (At this point he also decided to slip in an irrelevant example of his daughter to seek public sympathy? We are just speculating here, but there is really no point dragging your daughter into the picture.)

He later went on to point out that the “truth has emerged” with Lawrence Wong saying that the older flats will decrease in value until they become worthless when leases expire… and he moved on to his rallying call for Singaporeans’ support.

Look, we get it. The Government sucked at some areas — which should rightfully be called out. But Singaporeans also look to their leaders to be problem solvers, not grumblers.

If our potential leaders are going to be mere grumblers, then Singapore is definitely headed down the path of destruction. Can you leave the jobs of being chief complainers to us, the peasants? We don’t need people to snatch our jobs.

Worse still. they didn’t deliver on their promise to start at 3pm. Nor 4pm. Nor have a FB live chat/video as they first promised. A recorded video was uploaded instead. We were actually looking forward to seeing Chee interact with his potential voters via the live video.

Solver of problems or… not?

Comparatively, PM’s speech was more uplifting, with a micro and macro perspective — At least, from our point of view.

From a broader point of view, he hasn’t forgotten about Singapore’s relations with the world, acknowledging that there are “trouble spots” in Singapore’s external environment, focusing on our neighbours, specifically Malaysia.

We like that PM took the bull by its horns, rather than side-stepping domestic issues. He acknowledged the issues that Singaporeans face, drilling these down into three specific buckets of concerns: healthcare, housing, and – in his Chinese speech – the cost of living.

The major difference here is that he tried to reassure Singaporeans that the Government has heard, and has put in various schemes to help allay Singaporeans’ concerns in the three areas mentioned above. I.e. Problem solvers.

Since we highlighted the housing example in Chee’s speech above, we will use the same example here.

In his speech, PM showed a higher level of analysis and understanding towards the housing issue. He noted that housing prices will affect different groups of people differently – be it you are a buyer (so you will want prices to be low) or a seller (you will want prices to be high), so it is impossible to please everyone.

Particularly, on why our leases were 99 years. We have summarised the logical dissection for you:

–          By logical projections, 99-year leases were more than sufficient for an average Singaporean.

–          There will still be substantial value left in your home, and options for you (both BTO and resale flat owners) to monetise the house, depending on your needs, e.g. right-sizing, Lease Buyback etc.

–          Limited land in Singapore, and passing down of houses can be “socially divisive” for those who are not lucky enough to become flat owners.

–          The longer the lease, the older and more expensive/ outdated your HDB will be.

And then there were goodies!!! (what we have been waiting for hahahaha)

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We picked out the main points for you to see:

–          HIP expansion

o   This is not new… it is an upgrading programme for HDB flats to ensure that they continued to look spanking new. (in other words, ensure your flat still got value la)

o   The last time this was done, it was for flats built up to 1986. Now, the programme has been expanded to flats build up to 1997. PM says this will benefit 230,000 more flats.

o   In case you didn’t know, the Gov pays up to 95% of the HIP scheme.

–          New HIP II

o   You think PM was done? NO. MOAR UPGRADING for you and your flat!!

o   The second round of HDB upgrading will be done at the 60-70-year mark, to ensure safety and liveability of the flats.

o   Yes, the Gov will still pay for most of the upgrading costs, even though this will likely cost more than HIP v1.

–          VERS (Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme)

o   As the name spells out, it is a redevelopment scheme where the HDB dwellers can vote on whether they want the Gov to take back the blocks of flats and redevelop their towns once their flat reaches 70 years old.

o   This is a new way for Singaporeans to be able to, for the lack of a better word, ‘monetise’ their flats earlier.

o   The Government will buy back the whole precinct, and compensate Singaporeans (though the compensation will not be as generous as SERS) so that they can pay for another flat. This is provided that residents vote ‘Yes’ to the VERS.

o   Since the oldest flats are now only 52 years old, VERS will only kick in about 20 years down the road.

–          SERS

o   Aiya, don’t bank on this. Only 5% of flats are suitable for SERS, and most SERS projects have already been done.

Honestly, we would have preferred for PM to give more details on VERS – because we have many questions on how this VERS is going to work out.

Round 2: Rally call?  Desperate and Lost, or Quietly confident?

Chee turned this NDM into a rallying call for Singaporeans’ support at the very end, with Mr Tan Cheng Bock “at the helm”, but “SDP is not here to spearhead anything… give Dr Tan the support he needs… cannot guarantee our supporters that we will get it right… just in time for the next election”.

We would consider… if you could show us that you have the potential to lead the country. Everything seems to be very bleak at this point based on Chee’s vision.

Also, we were just curious, where is Tan Cheng Bock ah, since he will be at the helm for the next GE?

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On the other hand, PM focused his attention on solutions to allay Singaporeans’ concerns – which was louder than some people saying, “we, us ours”.

Round 3: Our people are our only national resource

Singaporeans leaving – boo or bane?

In his speech, Chee also spoke about Singaporeans leaving the country, citing reasons like ‘they are not proud to be Singaporeans’, and ‘lack of a democratic system’.

Which, by the way, the latter reason is from an unnamed source — ahem, we are not sure if it is credible.

We are sure that his ranting will not be helping in trying to woo Singaporeans to stay. We also don’t want to stay man.

PM, on the other hand, celebrated the achievements of ‘ordinary Singaporeans doing extraordinary things’. People like Mark Ong, Wong Kar Chun.

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We’ll leave it just here.

So how? You want a PM who is optimistic and hopeful for Singapore’s future, or a Complainer-in-Chief?