Monday, October 27, 2008

PM did not address the real issue

Our prime minister has finally spoken on the issue concerning the Lehman structured products. But sadly, he did not address the real issue. Word for word, this is what PM Lee Hsien Loong said according to this report:

“I think this is a very difficult and not satisfactory way to do things in the long run because:

First of all, the government should not be making decisions for individuals. Individuals should have the right to decide for themselves ……

Secondly, the government is not in a position to guarantee what is safe and what is not safe because there is nothing that is 100% safe.”

(The reporter speaking) “PM Lee said that the government’s role is to ensure that the financial system runs smoothly and fairly; not to guarantee the outcome, but to make sure that its people know what they are doing.”

I completely agree with everything the prime minister has said. But that is not the real issue with the present problem is it? The real questions which Singaporeans (at least this one) are asking is this:

1) Shouldn’t the government be alert to what is going on in the financial world; that large numbers of highly-risky products are being sold aggressively and in a not entirely honest manner to old, uneducated and thus highly vulnerable members of the public?

2) If the government is aware, shouldn’t it have the foresight to anticipate today’s ‘fiasco’? I recall that every time a top leader of this country argues for the high salaries of ministers and civil servants, they quote this ability to foresee trouble and take preventive action as one of the qualities that Singaporeans are getting in the bargain. The alternative is to suffer much costlier consequences, such as seeing the economy falter and our hard-earned savings and assets dwindle overnight; which seems to be exactly what is happening here.

3) When products that are harmful to the public are being sold to thousands of unsuspecting citizens, isn’t it the duty of the government to step in and put a stop, as what the AVA has done in the case of the melamine-tainted milk products from China?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I agreed that the govt could not decide for individuals but this does not address the real issues. I think the banks main objective is to get more business but fail to protect the interest of their customers. Now that the 'devil' is out, blame is squarely placed back on the victims.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, they knew that the bonds are complex and risky when it is linked to that bank.

But, what happened is that the helicopter's vision is NOT far reaching enough (money not enough?). They did not anticipate that the bank can bankrupt.

S$500 million would make a good number to boast your financial hub status.

Anonymous said...

You pay us to see the big picture, to grow the economy, not to be bothered with peanut issues.

auntielucia said...

Uncle, what made u change yr mind abt the govt? In 2005 you wrote: "Last week, I had the opportunity to play host to some visitors from the Philippines. Some comments that they made helped me to appreciate the good government that we enjoy in Singapore.

I don't know why the old and uneducated are going on abt now that their investments have gone sour. If at the time of the purchase (when such products were hot), the Govt came out to say the banks mustn't sell them to the old and uneducated, can u imagine what Online Citizen etc wld say? That the Govt is discriminating against the old and uneducated and tt it isn't fair that just becos they are old and uneducated, they aren't given a chance to make money like other pple..

Sleepless in Singapore said...

I have not radically changed my mind about the govt. The word 'government' is very broad. In terms of day-to-day administration of this country, one has to admit that this country is pretty-well run. Look at the parks, the conditions of the roads, the excellent library, the thousand and one things we used everyday that works; etc. etc.

I have many friends who work in middle management positions in the public sector, and I am always impressed by their dedication and hard work.

But as I explained here, I see complacency creeping in at the top rungs of management. I suspect one of the causes is that they are too used to hearing praises all the time.

So I think we need to do our part and express our honest opinions; especially when they seem to be more willing to listen to voices from the internet nowadays.

auntielucia said...

Uncle, u shld know that every 10 years wld have its list of eye-brow raisers like those u've cited as signs of complacency. U 4gotten abt Hotel New World collapse? Or the SIA hijackers? Or the Cable Car entanglement? Or that horrific shipyard fire where almost 100 workers were BBQ? Are u too young to remember Pulau Senang prison riots or the air crash at Paya Lebar airport? C'mon a country with NO mishaps is a country in dead waters.. ;)
Sure get the Govt to listen to u but there's no reason y u shld criticise instead of seeing the good!

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Anonymous said...

My husband works for one of the ministers.

You are quite right that they are too used to hearing praises from those around them.

They have lost touch with the ground. They joked about these stupid investors. They cared about whether their oysters and sashimi are airflown than whether the poor old lady can survive with 300 dollars a month.

It is sad to hear such anecdotes from my husband.

I think Singaporeans should understand that in any system, u can't expect it to run on its own perfectly forever. Citizens must be the ones to monitor and make sure that the system runs.

One way is for us to issue alert when the system begins to falter.

I am worried when singaporeans think it is ok to have a few mistakes. Lately, we have more and bigger ones which the government seems unable to resolve swiftly.

I have a feeling we are letting the cancer tumour to get bigger and one day will kill us all.

Anonymous said...

The people can voice against the government. The media and other grass-root organisations can provide feedback, the opposition can make a lot of noise, but at the end of the day, would the government really listen and act accordingly? Take for example, there is currently a president of an East Asian country who is noted for going around the country, listening to the people, always with a note book in hand, writes down all the grievances, but he seldom act on them, making the people really furious.