Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Defense Is Not Enough

One of the fallout of the ongoing defamation case between Singapore blogger Roy Ngerng and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is that the Singapore government has been forced to come out and defend the CPF scheme.

In a way, this shows the effect Mr. Ngerng’s complains has on Singaporeans and how most Singaporeans (silently) agree with his assessment. Let’s admit it; would the PM bothered to sue a no-name blogger if no one agreed with him?

Now it is good that the Singapore government has come out to defend (very strongly in some cases) the CPF scheme. In my view, a debate on the pros and cons of the CPF scheme is good for everyone. However, it is not enough. For the government’s logic and explanations to work on Singaporeans, they need to do one thing; get Singaporeans on board on the Minimum Sum!

In the past, Singaporeans can take out all their money in the CPF once they reached 55. Now they can’t because they must keep a certain amount in the CPF, the Minimum Sum. Of course, this is not even counting the Medisave which most Singaporeans can’t touch.

The Minimum Sum is the millstone here. This is especially so when about 55% of the CPF account holders are not able to meet the Minimum Sum. This means more than half of current account holders will not be able to take out “their” money when they reached 55. The government needs to convince Singaporeans (somehow) that the CPF is still their money even though some of them will never be able to touch it.

Yes, it’s a fool errand but they have no choice in the matter. Most Singaporeans, including me, do not think the CPF money in our account belongs to us. How could it be when there’s money inside we will never be able to use?

The Singapore government needs to do more than just give explanations and defend the CPF scheme; they need to convince.

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