Lim Chong Yah: On censorship, CPF, etc?


I refer to the article “Singapore should have minimum wage, says economist Lim Chong Yah” (Channel NewsAsia, Jun 10).

It states that “Lim: In my view, it may not be that satisfactory as a real pension programme because the sum for quite a lot of people would be still very, very minuscule; very, very small to take care of their old age. That is the snag in that report. Look into the adequacy of the minimum sum for those who could not contribute large sums of money so they can get higher annuities.

Comment: How many Singaporeans can meet the combined Full Retirement Sum and Basic Healthcare Sum of $218,000, at age 55?

Lim: It’s still too early. I am still contemplating, studying the best possible option, being quite unhappy that the annuities are still very, very low for a large number of people. They can be just quite meaningless.

Comment: The CPF Ordinary Account interest rate is simply too low – the lowest real rate of return of all national pension funds in the world, since 1999

Lim: Yes, I couldn’t understand it myself. Why one minister rung me up and said it’s better not to publish the report. I couldn’t understand.

But there was a call from MOE suggesting that we should not publish. Up to today, I do not know the reason, nobody told us the reason. I suspected there were things on which they didn’t agree with me.

Lim: I don’t know. I am an academic living in a democratic society. In a democratic society, I strongly believe that we should have some room for responsible differences of view, responsible discussions on subjects that the country faces.

So I just exercised my responsibility by publishing anyway. It doesn’t mean that whatever you say, whatever you wish, should become policy. I think that is fallacious thinking. You express your views. That doesn’t necessarily mean that that must be the view by the Government.

Comment: Some Singaporeans have been banned by English TV and rado for many years – when will the ban be lifted now that we have entered a new era in Singapore’s history, and even eminent people, like Professor Lim Chong Yah, has come out to talk openly about the censorship that is prevalent in Singapore?

Will former media employees come out to throw more light on this dark chapter in our history?

Lim: That is the problem. The problem of implementation. The compliance rate is very low. That’s why I came up with the minimum wage proposal.’

Comment: Only about 20 per cent of employers have heeded the NWC”s recommendations for low wage workers, over the years.

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.