Reform Party leader Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam invited himself to the CPF Forum for Thomson – Toa Payoh residents. We allowed him and his supporters in anyway.
During the breakout session, his views were roundly demolished by the other participants in his group. Because they did not agree with him, he claims they were “planted”. Of course, they were not planted. They were just ordinary Singaporeans who were frank in giving their views. Mr Jeyaretnam should not insult people just because they don’t agree with him.
After, the Forum, he posted a note entitled “8 Dishonest Things About Hri Kumar’s Honest Conversation”. He attributed to me things I did not say, and mischievously misrepresented other points. In the interests of transparency, I have posted videos of the Forum so that you can judge for yourself.
Since it is a very serious thing to accuse someone of being dishonest, I am setting out a point-by-point comparison of how Mr Jeyaretnam claims I have been dishonest, and my responses:
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said: “The returns paid by the CPF to account holders compare favourably with those achieved by pension schemes in other countries.”
I did not say this. I did not compare CPF with other pension schemes.
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said: “Your CPF funds are absolutely safe because you are lending to the Government, which has a solid AAA rating. This justifies the low returns.”
I did not say this. Mr Jeyaretnam made this statement up.
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said: “HDB owners have achieved far higher returns from the appreciation in HDB prices than they could have achieved by investing in the stock market.”
I did not say this. Once again, Mr Jeyaretnam simply made this up.
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said: “Letting us withdraw our CPF at 55 would lead us inevitably to squander our money (either at the casinos or on trips to Batam!). If this happened then other taxpayers would have to pick up the tab for supporting them.”
I did not say this. In fact, I said the complete opposite. If you watch the video, I said that I am NOT saying that people will act irresponsibly with their money.
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said any change to the CPF system would mean taking from one group and giving to another.
I did not say this. What I really said was that if the Forum participants proposed higher payouts for some groups, then other groups will have less. I did not say that “any change” would mean taking from one group and giving to another. That is ridiculous.
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said: “This is not about politics but about devising the best system in the interests of all Singaporeans.”
Yes, I said that the Forum “is not meant to politicise and this is not meant to be a political dialogue. This is meant to be talking about how we can improve lives together in Singapore. I hope everyone takes that in the right spirit.” My question to Mr Jeyaretnam is this: Why do you think this is being dishonest?
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said “If there is greater welfare spending by the government then this would require higher taxes.”
I said words to that effect at a group discussion. I do sincerely believe that greater welfare spending would require higher taxes, and many people i know share that view. I don’t understand why Mr Jeyaretnam feels that this is dishonest.
Mr Jeyaretnam claims I said “Singaporeans are lightly taxed and get a better deal from their government compared to citizens of other countries with more generous welfare systems.”
I did not say this. I said that Singaporeans pay lower taxes. However, I also said that there was no right or wrong answer and it was for people to decide what kind of system they wanted. Mr Jeyaretnam conveniently leaves that part out.
So, this is what Mr Jeyaretnam has been reduced to: lying, fabricating and mis-quoting statements, and then launching attacks based on those false statements. Mr Jeyaretnam cannot deal with the facts, so he makes up his own. This is smoke and mirrors. How are Singaporeans better served by this?
Singapore, like every country in the world, is dealing with difficult issues. While we have done well in the last 50 years, the next 10 or 20 will be challenging. Our institutions and policies have served us well, but they will obviously have to be constantly reviewed and revised to keep them relevant and effective.
All Singaporeans should be part of that process, but we also need honest and capable Singaporeans to step forward, lead and serve. And that applies to opposition politicians too. Singapore is our home - we must come together to build it, not destroy it.