02 October 2013

Quotes of the Month — August / September 2013

MediShield Life
The impact of higher MediShield premiums [after the revamp to become MediShield Life] will be studied carefully to ensure that every Singaporean can afford them.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong

MediShield Life
Well ultimately the government doesn't have money which is from heaven or from own sources. Government's money really is people's money and eventually all the money has to come from taxes or some other revenues from COEs or maid levies or whatever. So that is one of the reasons why we have to think very carefully before we decide to move, to start new social programmes, to spend more. But we have made the calculations, I think what we have announced we can afford.

But it can't all be out of government coffers, from the finance minister writing a cheque. I think individuals still have a responsibility and they ought to pay some part of it and the community also ought to take some responsibility for helping to make things happen, and helping to support the projects. It's a very difficult problem to solve.
You take the MediShield Life for example. We have made it universal. Who is going to pay? Well, premiums will have to go up so individuals have to pay. The government will subsidise for the low income groups, particularly for the older ones who were in the pioneer generation we are going to have a special package for them so the government will put some of it up. But the individual also has to do its part. I'm sure the VWOs will have their own programmes.
Now what happens when somebody doesn’t pay? In the old days, up to now, if you don't pay your MediShield premiums, you drop out from MediShield, you lose the benefits and you are not covered. But now we are making MediShield Life universal. Everybody is covered; you cannot drop out. So if you don’t pay, then your benefits will effectively have to be funded by all the rest of us who have not defaulted and I don’t think that is fair. So, not paying becomes a serious matter and then we will have to find ways to encourage people very hard to pay their premiums.
Well, social pressure is part of [how to encourage people to pay their premiums], the rules are part of it, schemes to help make it convenient for people to pay and to meet their obligations is another part of it. We are discussing it, among the officials but really this is not just the officials it is also what attitude the community takes towards this whether the think it is okay, well he didn't pay that's fine or whether if you don't pay there is a certain amount of social disapproval and people will express that you are not carrying your your burden, you are really free riding. And I think that is a very important attitude which we must develop as a community.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

It is astonishing that the prime minister tells us about a new social programme (the rose) without thinking through the main details (the thorns).

Note too, that PM Lee uses the word "universal" and diligently avoids using the word "compulsory". These two words are not interchangeable. Compulsory implies universal, but universal does not necessarily imply compulsory. As consumers, we may like MediShield Life being universal, but we may have reservations (e.g., cost, free loading, pre-existing illnesses) about it being compulsory.

Politics is about serious things... because [being the government is about doing what is right for the nation] is what we have been saying. that you must do the right thing you must have conviction in what you are doing but one point where I disagree with the quote at the end of the day we also must make sure that we win the election because if we can't win the election we can't do anything for the people.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Lee Kuan Yew
[The occasion] is special because today, September 16, 2013, is the ninetieth birthday of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister.

An amazing fact is that Mr Lee has been a Member of this country’s legislature for 58 years, since 1955 when he was elected into the first Legislative Assembly of Singapore, Parliament’s predecessor. Singapore then was not even yet independent and still a colony. On length of service alone, 58 years is a remarkable record. But it is what Mr Lee has accomplished for Singapore over that lifetime of service and struggle that is astonishing and without peer. I would not recount these accomplishments today. It is not possible to do so in a few minutes and any attempt would commit an injustice.

But I would... express our profound admiration and gratitude on Mr Lee’s birthday. Shakespeare wrote, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them".

Singapore was not born into greatness but hardship and poverty. Mr Lee, through his singular mission and dedication, steered this country to Independence and laid the very foundations that transformed Singapore into a modern and thriving metropolis. He led and forged a nation which today is admired worldwide for its prosperity, harmony and stability. In lifting an entire nation and improving countless lives of Singaporeans of several generations, Mr Lee Kuan Yew has left a lasting legacy to all of us and achieved greatness.

Mdm Speaker and Members of this House are delighted and honoured to be able to share this special occasion on his ninetieth birthday with Mr Lee in this House and he has made special efforts to be in this House and I think, against the doctor’s advice. All MPs wish him happiness and continued good health. Happy Birthday!

Leader of the House Ng Eng Hen

Ministers' Pay
In the early days, Lim Kim San and Goh Keng Swee worked night and day, and they were truly dedicated. I don’t know whether Lee Kuan Yew will agree but it started going downhill when we started to raise ministers’ salaries, not even pegging them to the national salary but aligning them with the top ten.

When you raise ministers’ salaries to the point that they’re earning millions of dollar, every minister — no matter how much he wants to turn up and tell Hsien Loong off or whatever — will hesitate when he thinks of his million-dollar salary. Even if he wants to do it, his wife will stop him. Lim Kim San used to tell me, "Ngiam, if you want to leave your job, make sure you have enough walkaway money." When the salary is so high, which minister dares to leave, unless they decide to become the opposition party? As a result, the entire political arena has become a civil service, and I don’t see anyone speaking up any more.

Former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow

Aung San Suu Kyi
I believe that Aung San Suu Kyi will be a capable leader of her country if she is elected in the next election scheduled in 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

A diplomatic faux pas.

1. Can you imagine the prime minister of a neighbouring ASEAN country saying that he believes that The Workers' Party Low Thia Khiang will be a capable leader of Singapore if his party forms the next government after the next general election?

2. Can you imagine the repercussions if PM Lee should say that he believes that Mr Anwar Ibrahim would be a capable leader of Malaysia if he is elected in the next general election?

3. How does PM Lee know whether Ms Suu Kyi is a capable leader?


1. Some quotes are verbatim while others are paraphrased, either by the media or the author.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting collection but to concerned citizens wanting to have control over their destinies I would focus on Ngiam's comment that the whole political arena has become a civil service. The great man's contribution to this state of affairs cannot be denied. Obsessed with control he devised the 'successor' system of poltical control. "I appoint you and you appoint me" he proudly declared was a good system. By then his son had shown academic excellence and could be groomed to take control. Just make sure he gets there is the only detail to take care of. The end result is that the appointees are for ever grateful "for the opportunity to serve" as they always say . These appointees have no political backing of their own and are well paid. So if they mount a challenge they will find themselves financially impoverished with no way back. Hence the "civil service" mentality that Ngiam bemoans. The country suffers.