Sorry KJ, but Singaporeans don’t care about our IMF loan

Kenneth Jeyaratnam, leader of the Reform Party, has written a number of articles on Singapore’s loan to the IMF. In his latest post, he writes that the proper parliamentary and presidential approvals have not been sought before the $4b loan to the IMF (which may be unconstitutional). He then cites that the President and Finance Minister have failed to give him enough information, and that the role of the President is an impotent one.

After all he has said and done, the reaction from netizens is….. pretty much lukewarm. Which goes to show that nobody really cares.

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Why don’t Singaporeans care about the IMF loan?

If we assume that KJ is right about a unconstitutional loan, there’s a couple of reasons why citizens still don’t care:

1. Following proper parliamentary process means little to the voter. Firstly, the parliament is dominated by PAP anyway. The President is as close to the PAP as we can get. So if the parliament and president had followed due process, the IMF loan would have been awarded anyway.

2. We’re very likely to get our money back. When it comes to our reserves, citizens only have two key concerns. Firstly, are we losing money? Secondly, why isn’t the govt spending money on me? In this case, we are not loaning the money to some shaky organisation. We’re loaning it to the IMF, and other countries also loan to the IMF. Nobody believes the  IMF is going to collapse in the foreseeable future.

3. Most citizens don’t even know the IMF loan exists. At least not until KJ wrote about it, and even then that is restricted to netizens who don’t form the majority of our population.

4. Loaning to the IMF can actually benefit us. For the netizens who bothered to read further about what the IMF intends to do with the money, they will learn that the IMF is trying to rescue Europe. Singapore’s open economy is linked to Europe, so keeping Europe stable isn’t a bad idea.

5. There are more important & interesting things to care/read about. Things like job priority for Singaporeans, inflation, COE, stressful education, abolishing the ISA etc. These are the issues that matter to Singaporeans, not some esoteric loan to the IMF. Even sticker lady generated more interest.

6. A large bunch of  people objecting to the IMF loan are the kind that object against anything the PAP does. It is a fact that we have a bunch of citizens who will vote for anyone as long as it is running against the PAP in an election. KJ is preaching to the choir here, instead of aggressively growing his voter base.

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What should KJ do?

KJ has to decide whether he wants to continue pursuing this IMF loan issue. Having devoted so much effort to this issue, it will look odd to pull back now. By choosing to harp on an issue that people don’t really care about, KJ has put himself in an uncomfortable spot.

Sometimes the stuff that is unsaid is actually important too. KJ has been talking about the IMF loan for 2 months now, but the other parties have remained silent. Why doesn’t the Worker’s Party or the NSP talk about this issue? Is it because there are more important things for Singapore to work on?

I think the Reform Party should take a leaf from the WP, SDP (and even the NSP) by focusing on the fundamentals. Focus on the bread-and-butter issues that Singaporeans really care about. Focus on suggesting policy solutions. And most importantly, focus on growing the Reform Party with talented and visible people. The WP has multiple MPs that are household names. Most citizens can name at least 2 members in the SDP and NSP. But for the Reform Party, I believe it is difficult to find a citizen that can name anyone other than KJ himself.

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About sgthinker

I'm a 40-year old Singaporean male, and this blog pens down my thoughts and feelings about Singapore's political happenings, government policies and society trends. I hope this blog will provide a moderate voice in the growing online debate about the state of Singapore's society. Some of the posts here won't be solely written by me, since there will be times when other writers are more eloquent at expressing their views, in which case I'll share their insights (along with my comments). The content on this blog is owned by me.If you wish to share or reproduce the content, please attribute it to this blog.
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12 Responses to Sorry KJ, but Singaporeans don’t care about our IMF loan

  1. Cheng says:

    Agree with most commentators here.
    KJ IS frying the “bigger fish”. He is looking at the big picture whereas many opposition parties are looking at the ‘domestic bread-n-butter’ social issues. Most public are very forthcoming when it comes to being critical or offering viewpoints on such matters. But whenever there is a deeper issues or topics like CPF or SWF, Economy issues, not many can hold a conversation, let alone strategic questioning or discussions.
    That is the value of his contribution here, no matter how small his party is at the moment.
    Everyone can contribute using his talent and skills, in different or specialised areas.

    I hope he keeps it up.

  2. Wowoking says:

    The issue is unconstitutionality, and if it really true that Singaporeans do not care about this, then they deserve what they get. Isn’t that rouge governance ? How about the next day they decide to give another 5 B to Greece, Cyprus ? And so on… With people like you another 1.3 T could go missing. What exactly are you thinking?

    • sgthinker says:

      There’s a sliding scale between what is absolutely right and what is absolutely wrong. A loan to the IMF that was given without due process falls somewhere in the middle.

      The point of this post is to simply point out that there are bigger fish to fry. KJ, as a politician, should focus on the bigger fish to grow his base, otherwise he will be forever fighting his battles in blogosphere as opposed to in Parliament.

  3. Yeah says:

    I think KJ’s point is on the accountability – whether the current government follows the right procedures, which are supposedly there to safeguard our assets, in granting a loan to IMF. His argument is totally not about whether we should loan to IMF.
    I applaud his efforts in pursuing this matter, as it is of great importance to the nation. Although most Singaporeans, for whatever reasons, are not really interested in it, but KJ definitely creates awareness on such matter and at least he caught my attention.

  4. Jpohn says:

    You miss the point.
    KJ might be trying to show the current PAP Govt is still doing whatever they like,even not according to the Constitution. So what if the President is close to and Parliament controlled by them? You still need to go through the motion and wayang.

  5. Kelvin Tan says:

    I see you are using the median voter theorem here.

  6. octopi says:

    Just because people don’t care about it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not important. These things make a very big impact on the financial situation of Singapore. Over the last few years, it’s good that Singaporeans are paying more attention to the social issues of Singapore, but they don’t think deeply enough, and they don’t see the connection between those issues and the bigger question of where the money is going to.

    A lot of times, when we are asking ourselves, why are we paying too much taxes, or hidden taxes, why government owned monopolies are so profitable, do we ask ourselves where all the money is going to? What is the IMF loan for? Is it for helping the poor and needy? Or is it for bailing out the bankers so that they can continue to mismanage the world economy? While I don’t think that KJ is a great politician, I think that he’s asking pretty good questions that leverage on his previous expertise as a hedge fund manager.

    • Collapse says:

      KJ is tring hard but it is doubtful that he can get the answer he needs,he has to wait for Euro to collapse first which is likely to happen pretty soon.(within weeks)

  7. Thinker says:

    Thinkers versus Doers ,KJ obviously does not belong to the Doers group,it is best if he understands this.

  8. atans1 says:

    SIGH )))). Beat me to pointing this out. He out-of-touch elitist too. Even though he takes the bus like us “lesser mortals”, I’m sure he resents that KennethJ the Great has to take public tpt. ))) Not like Dr Chee or Low or Chiam (when he was fit).

  9. Pingback: Daily SG: 25 June 2012 | The Singapore Daily

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