06 December 2006

Singaporeans Always Come ....... First?

The article below suggests a significant change in policy thinking. I could feel pleased, or I could feel skeptical. On balance, I am more inclined to adopt a "wait-&-see" attitude. I still remember distinctly the last time PM Lee made such grand pronouncements. He had told us that he would make Singapore an "open society". Heheh.
    ST Dec 4, 2006
    Singaporeans 'always come first'

    By Zakir Hussain

    THE first responsibility of the Government is to Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, when he announced plans to charge non-citizens more for education and health care.

    He told some 1,000 People's Action Party cadres at the party's conference that 'while we have non-Singaporeans here, citizens always come first.'

    Education and health are two areas in which the Government has not made a clear distinction between citizens, permanent residents and foreigners, Mr Lee added.

    This will change, he declared.

    In education, non-citizens will be charged higher fees, but the charges would not be set so high as to drive away foreign students.

    Tuition fees for foreigners at universities and polytechnics here, for instance, are now 10 per cent above what Singaporeans and PRs pay.

    As for health care, PRs will be charged more, while foreign workers are going to pay the full amount and their employers will need to buy medical insurance to protect them.

    The Education and Health ministries will make these adjustments in the next few months, Mr Lee said.

    'We have to treat visitors well, too, but citizens have to be treated better,' he added.

    'Citizens come first in our priorities, in our thinking.'

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Anonymous said...

Once bitten, twice shy.

I suspect that when they talk about thing like open-society and how Singaporean come first, they are actually talking in a language that we are not supposed to understand, or not able to interpret their true meaning correctly.

Perhaps they would come out with a uniquely unique system later to ensure that Singaporeans do always come first, like the first to pay tax or the first to go NS. Just like talk about nobody would be left behind as we progress, they do meant that the nobody would be left behind.

Anonymous said...

"Citizens always come first."

First before ??

First before PRs/foreigners? Oh ain't that quite a given elsewhere in the world? Why the need to raise a-should-be-given-state-of-affairs at this point in time?

First before the state? ie citizenry interests before state interests? How far would public interests be raised above that of a Corporate state? Who should determine what's good for the public - the state or the people themselves?

Mr Wang, care to elaborate why you think PM need to qualify this at this stage in time?

family man said...

Would Potong Pasir and Hougang come first on their radar? I think not. Foreigners will come first, of course. Die die, Potong Pasir and Hougang must come last!! They Singaporeans meh?

Whispers from the heart said...

I lagi worry when PM says this.

When they help you by increasing GST further, you should be wondering what shit would be given to citizens FIRST?!

Maybe old folks will be sent to Batam and Bintan retirement camps FIRST to prevent them from falling down the MRT tracks.

I rather they treat me like the foreigners who are touted as noble people who left their homelands to build our nation and economy for us.

Ms Josehpine Teo was wrong about us practising politics of envy. Simple folks like us don't care much about politics. It's my singapore dream to be a foreigner one day. Visit Singapore using an ang moh passport, speak the Queen's english and let everyone kow-tow to me. Yeah ... that keeps me working hard each day.

zHuAz said...

Some Ang Mo went to pissed off an elite?

I don't know, but it sounds extremely sinister without the details. I'm glad and happy, but not ready to celebrate until he qualifies what he is talking about in maybe a 3 hour speech.

Anonymous said...

The Straits Times marvellously fails to maintain the protocol of reported speech, again.

kj said...

Quote - "Tuition fees for foreigners at universities and polytechnics here, for instance, are now 10 per cent above what Singaporeans and PRs pay."

But who gives out the scholarships...?

What about in terms of employment?

nonameclown said...

Isn't is morally wrong to deprive ANY HUMAN of affordable healthcare? Especially the lowly paid labourers who pave our roads and build our modern skyscrapers? Even more when the FT parasites that most dislike actually goes to expensive private hospitals?

HaveAHacks said...

I don't need to wait. I can already see that when the gahmen discriminates against foreigners, they are only discrimnating against poor foreigners.

The rich foreigners still get a red carpet rolled out for them. Excused from casino tax. Exclusive islands given to them. Excused income tax. No choice right, they got money we need them more than they need us.

Anonymous said...

Robert HO; blog "I came, I saw, I solved it" at:


Can this LHL belated, too little too late, measure to make the PRs and Foreigners pay a little more, just a little more, be a Victory for Bloggers?

I think that without bloggers and their readers and commenters, and this very issue of FT being raised and harped on constantly in blogs, LHL would not have taken this little step.

That the PAP now resort to their own blogs, after putting down blogs as unsavoury, for years, is a triumph of sorts for genuine bloggers.

Thus, blogs [and their readers] have changed the course of history and hastened many rethinks of PAP policies. Soon, they may even be instrumental in slaugtering the many PAP sacred cows, which have been hitherto untouched, due to the fossilisation of one Old Man and his rearguard refusal to change with the times.

This Old Man also rigs elections; read my blog. When he departs, we bloggers will really come into our own. The new punitive laws against Internetters are his last ditched attempt to make his stance permanent but alas, nothing is permanent in politics. And all the best laid plans and succession ploys come awry.

Then, blogging will really take off to new heights we can only dream about now.

Robert HO

The Human Battery said...

> The article below suggests a significant change in policy thinking

Apart from whatever suggestions and regardless of whether it is sincere or not, the article simply confirms that we have been treating foreigners better than locals for the past 15 years since the FT policy first started!

The question we need to ask are: 1. how much have we been robbed of when we were treated 2nd-class, during the 15 years? 2. Why did it takes 15 yrs for them to wake up?

I cant ans the first qn, but the 2nd, I can: because the then middle aged (now retiree) voters supported pap no matter what! It took 15 years for there to be a critical mass of young voters (20-30s) (esp those who did NS, and now need to do ICT) to bring pressure to bear.

family man said...

Interesting to read the 'naughty' article in the ST today. It mentioned that HK will hold back the GST and probably introduce it after their elections. I wonder if HongKong will sue / jail the ST journalist for writing such a naughty piece? Indulging in their local politics. Oh yea, Bahavani commandments is for home ground only...

silversurfer7 said...

The PAP is using another piecemeal approach in an attempt to appease public dissatisfaction with PAP policies regarding FTs and PRs. The main factor to the whole debates and discussions have always been about jobs for the citizens of Singapore. And we are talking about jobs for the educated citizens. People who have invested time and money to educate themselves for 12 - 16 years to got a decent job with a decent pay that correspond to the Singapore's standard of living. Not Sri Lanka, Bangla Desh, etc.

It's JOBS for Singaporean FIRST. Not some piecemeal scheme and label it as a way to help the needy in future or make the citizens "feel" they are given priority.

Anonymous said...

You mean wait loong loong?

Anonymous said...

Us foreigners can't be too happy about such an announcement, now can we? They already have foreign students by the hook - higher fees, loans and a work bond. I came here expecting to receive the NUS Undergraduate Scholarship, but they finished giving it away this year when NUS became semi-privatised.

Looks like they want us to be stuck here paying high interest rates on high tuition fee loans. There's a voice inside my head that says, "get out, get out! Get out as soon as you can!"

SHIMURE said...

Dear Mr Wang.

1) Increase education fees for PRs/foreigners
2) Increase Health care for PRs/foreigners

All this is only eye candy made to look good.

Is there additional costs by having PRs/foreigners?
No since there is no additional paper work need to be done.

Remember the bottom line is that the government would collect more money from these increases.

Reason for collection of more money.
The Government
1) may have made a loss in some GIC project.
2) may need to benchmark minister's salaries.
3) may need to "not increase" GST?
4) May need to give money to poor citizens?
5) may need to find new source of revenue?
6) may need to make citizens feel more belonging to singapore and not run away?

Usages of the increase fees.
2) To make up the losses made by GICs?

Questions questions questions.

What is true in the end of the day?

1) FEES increase and more revenue for the Government.

Main question. How this money is being used?

Just 2 cents of highlights.

HotYakFat said...

More money needed for Swiss bank account.... just like Marcos

zHuAz said...

nabeel, which country does not charge higher fees for foreigners? Singapore's 10% difference compared to 100%-150% difference in AUS, NZ, UK and US, do you not think you have it good already?

As for work bond, you intend to just get free education and go scoot? Btw, by the work bond, it imposes an interesting question for our Ministry of Manpower (MoM).

In times of downturn, does the MoM:

1) Writeoff the work bond of foreign students and give priority to Singaporeans looking for jobs? Hence, writeoff millions of education subsidies?

2) Give priority to foreigners who need to serve the work bond, and serve Singaporeans last?

If there is an MP who dares to venture such a question, it will be interesting to hear.

silversurfer17, it is very Singaporean to confuse "standard of living" with "costs of living". They are inversely-related, and cannot be used in substitute or positive co-relation. The "costs of living" go up, you have to work harder to buy the same hamburger, so "standard of living" goes DOWN. Don't be confused by the mass media, costs do not go up so that "standard of living" go up. It should be the reverse.

kelongkia said...

the catch is..
most foreigner turned citizen will vote for PAP...

a good carrot for their 5-yr plan..

silversurfer7 said...


Thank you for your explanation about standard of living and cost of living.

But I'm talking about decent pay/salary for a Sngapore standard of living. A standard that is comparable to the Swiss standard of living as promised (or is it just a mere mention now) by our then PM Goh CT. If I'm not wrong I believe decent or good pay is not inversely related to standard of living.

Therefore if you want your citizens to have a good standard of living as comparable to the Swiss than the overall wage structure must be structured accordingly. Unfortunately, the largest workers union in Singapore is largely led, influenced and dominated by the PAP. And the PAP leaders alway talk as if Singaporeans pay must be comparable to those of countries like Sri Lanka, Bangla Desh, or even China, etc. (Remember a cabinet minister recently tell Singaporeans to accept pay even if it's a few hundred dollars? To live where? In Singapore!?!? Let's hope he was saying in jest!)

zHuAz said...

silversurfer, ah yes, I see I did not clearly understood your comments. Though I do hope more Singaporeans will come to understand the "costs of living" and "standard of living" concept.

Well, you see, profit is finite. If the top must get paid compared to their counterparts in USA, UK, where the population (consumer base) is larger and currency is more expensive, the zero sum game will require the workers to increase productivity, but get wage cut or stagnation.

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