In the excitement and run-up of Bukit Batok by-election, this A$2.25b deal might have been missed…
“‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’–that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Keats
Notwithstanding PAP leaders’ cold, calculating leadership ideology (embodied in words such as ‘How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?’), I have always imagined that they are all closet, poetry-loving dudes. Well, at least, Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn appear to express their beliefs in beauty and truth.
Why and how else can it be that whatever they do are reported by the mainstream media as acts of beauty – that it’s always the only truth? And, yeah, ‘that is all…and all ye need to know’, citizens!
Take the now-concluded Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement PM Lee has just inked with PM Turnbull. Both called it a ‘landmark’ pact. There can be and there are only upsides all round for Singapore and Singaporeans. Read here and here.
I have little problem with ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’, my usual concern is with the truth behind the beauty. Specifically, in this case, the truth behind the beauty of access to a training area 10X the size of Singapore is at a cost of A$2.25 bil over 25 years. Our ever-compliant reporters & editors preferred the neat 3-digit beautiful figure.
But, in truth, it’s a mind-boggling A$246,406.57 per day of our hard-earned money.
Why should it concern or worry you?
Since the announcement on 7 May, not one single MP, whether PAP or WP, has raised any questions about this serious money that we are throwing to the Aussies.
What is even worse, for an agreement with such a high payout, the defence minister, the foreign minster or the prime minister himself never bothered to bring the agreement up for parliamentary discussion prior to negotiation. Does that not put Singapore at a grave negotiating disadvantage as the Aussies know that they need only convince the ministers who, unlike their own, need not be accountable to their MPs and citizens – or inquisitive reporters? Perhaps, a little polishing of the ministers’ apples (that they are such worthy ministerial talents, so decisive in knowing what’s best for their Singapore will yield the additional A$100mil, A$400mil more in the final price tag?
What’s more, will it not encourage other countries (Taiwan, Thailand, Brunei, USA, India etc) to rub their hands in glee when similar agreements come up for renegotiation?
Therefore, shouldn’t that worry Singaporeans on 2 counts, namely, no prior debate and the actual amount of serious money that we are paying just to train (up to) 14,000 soldiers annually?
I know that questioning expenditures on defence-related issues are a favourite for the PAP leaders to jump on to make outrageous claims that the questioner is risking our nation’s survival etc. They are also wont to throw up out-of-context, false-dilemma or many-questions type of fallacious arguments (Minister Shanmugam did with Chee’s call to relook our foreign labour policies) i.e. everything but give straight answers to our honest concerns, worries and questions.
But we are merely exercising our basic right to question and, in fact, taking up Minister Tharman’s recent belief that politician and leaders, in particular, must ‘discuss things openly, tell the people the truth‘.
My fellow Singaporeans, please email your MPs (click here to get their email addresses) to demand that they raise the questions on our behalf. It’s OUR money!!!