Quick thoughts on Nicole Seah’s rally speech

Apr 29, 11 Quick thoughts on Nicole Seah’s rally speech

Just some of my personal opinions. I have to say I am a little bias. I don’t think people below 28 years should be an election candidate. I believe they should serve in the grassroots or town councils for a couple of years first, because thats the only way to truly experience the ground.

I watched the video 3 times. On the first glance, Nicole Seah seemed like a very angsty youth. Something like a JC counsellor type with a prepared speech. Some of the points she raised are rather superficial, such as the ‘fear’ of PAP, wealth of Singapore belongs to Singaporeans, foreigners in public areas and basically all kinds of emotional topics. These are the kinds of topics where uncles sitting around in coffee shops will discuss and rant.

There seems to be quite a fair bit of false emotions, used for the purpose of rousing the crowd. This is especially when she goes from loud strong voice to giggles and smirks. But I would say her presentation skill to drive emotional points across is good, as well as her well prepared speech.

Running through the sequence of her speech, she started by saying this election is not about the renewal of PAP, or any other party, but it is for Singaporeans to stand up and choose what is right for your country. A very good opener I would say.

Her next point is that PM Lee said that the elections is not ‘masak masak’, and then she mentions how NSP understands that and doesn’t change team members on the whim, unlike PAP which did a last minute swap of candidate in Tampines and Tanjong Pagar. Quite a frivolous point in my opinion, but it does rouse up supporter’s emotion.


Nicole then mentioned that she read the PAP manifesto and that PM Lee said that voters in wards won by opposition cannot expect the same improvements promised by PAP. I went to look at PAP’s manifesto and I couldn’t find it, although I would admit it is possible that PM Lee has mentioned that verbally since it is not the first election that it is mentioned. She then went on to rouse emotions again, by rhetorically asking, “PM Lee, who is paying your salary?”, “PM Lee, who is funding your grow and share package”, “Singaporeans, this is your money!”. Very good emotional statements I would have to say, because these are the topics that people will cheer about. The underlying idea is to create an entitlement mentality, that is, you are Singaporeans, and thus all these money and funds belong to you and you deserve to do something about it. I won’t address the issues too much, since they are grossly inaccurate and biased to create a point. About the salary, all I would say is that for a company with a board of directors of 84 people, and the turnover of the company is around $300billion, how much do you think the directors remuneration should be? (As a side note, I have been attending the Annual General Meeting of quite a few listed companies recently, and some of the board of directors are very very well paid, like the imfamous Liew Mun Leong’s S$6.8mil total remuneration, with Capitaland’s FY2010 profit at S$1.3bil.) I’m personally quite neutral about the ministers pay issue, largely because I have seen quite a number of people earning more than that. It’s about paradigm. I can’t say I agree that they should all be getting $1mil plus a year, but thats another story for another time. Since many years ago, PAP has already mentioned that whenever Singapore’s budget surplus or GDP in general is good, there will be bonus payout. So what’s this issue about? In any case, how much taxes did most Singaporeans pay in comparison with the grow and share package.

For those into long reading, here’s the link for PAP’s 2006 and 2011 manifesto. I have to say, at first glance, both the point forms look the same. However, the devil is in the details. From there, you can see subtle but significant differences in the direction ahead.


Her next big point was about GST increasing to 7% because PAP claim they want to use the money to help the poor. She stated $1.9billion was generated from the percentage increase, but only $0.4billion was given to the poor, and she questions where did the rest of the money go? Again, a very emotionally strong point since almost everybody will complain when GST increases. A quick check with the Singapore Budget financial statements showed that total GST collected in FY2010 is S$7.9billion. So for a 5% to 7% increase, the proportional amount is $2.25billion. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a line that says “Money used to help the poor” so I went to look through every ‘Head of Expenditure’s sub statement. Those who have time, should take a look. The details available is amazing! Such as the mission statement, the performance review, and even the headcount of the number of butlers in the Istana, Haha! The closest inkling of helping the needy was “Social Transfers to individuals” costing  $772mil by the MCYS, and various projects costing $8billion under the Financial Transfers. Apparently special transfers were Growth  Dividends ($1.55 billion),  (b) Medisave Top-ups ($504 million), (c) Workfare Special Bonus ($224 million), (d) Utilities Save Rebates, Service & Conservancy Charges Rebates and Rental Rebates ($304 million), (e) SME Cash Grant ($419 million), (f) Child Development Credit ($93 million) and other schemes2($162.15 million). Arguable if these money were used to help the poor, but in my opinion, direct transfers of excess GST income back to the individuals would probably be the most diverse way, rather than having hundreds of staff to do a case-by-case analysis. Again, I have to say, do take a look at the financial statements by the various ministries, it’s really quite hilarious how detailed the breakdown of expenditure is! (Such as “Capital Funding to Pilot Dementia FriendlyEnhancement for 3 Existing Day Care Centres forSeniors” $136,800)


Next is yet another one of everybody’s favourite point on public housing and that it is left to free market prices. I have a lot of opinions on this one, but this is probably not the place for it. In short, I would just ask, how come people who are complaining that homes are too expensive now, didn’t consider buying 2 years ago when prices dropped to a low? I’ll add more thoughts if someone comments about it below.. Again entitlement mentality that the reserves belong to Singaporeans. In fact, I would say the current Singaporeans didn’t contribute that much to the reserves. It would be your grandfathers and parents entitlement than yours.


She mentioned a small point on the growth of foreigners in Singapore, and that in the last few months, PAP came out and say they want to solve this issue. And if so, why was it not solved in the last 5 years? (Just a side joke, in the last 5 years, she was still below 20 years old.. Haha!) I can’t fault their policy on this, since the priority in the last 5 years was to accelerate economic growth after the 2001-2004 economic recovery, so you would see growth for the sake of growth. I have to disagree on their methods of economic growth though, where productivity is sacrificed for sheer quantity of growth. In fact this can be seen from the differences in the 2 manifestos of 2006 and 2011. Again, a fairly emotionally charged topic when a person is laden with entitlement mentality.


Finally she starts to touch on what the NSP will do for you.

The 4 key points is that:

1) They will make quality of life improvements as well as wage growth and the priority of the Singaporean workforce

2) They want to lower the cost of housing by promising “compassionate lower prices for first time home owners”

3) Ensure the elderly and disabled are fully entitled to transportation subsidies

4) Reduce GST back to 5%


I would strongly agree on the first point. And to be honest, this same point is probably on the manifesto of every party contesting now. Quality and productivity is the key to economic growth. She did not mention how NSP plans to do it, but I’ll give them the benefit of doubt. When there’s a will, theres a way.

I personally disagree strongly on the second point. As mentioned above, I have a lot of opinions on this one. Perhaps I’ll write a separate blog post on it. Price is always correlated to supply and demand. Throw in the volatility of the property market, it becomes a very unpredictable system, especially since you just need marginal errors to throw price into a frenzy. Again, another topic for another day.

Transport subsidies is something I would agree very strongly with. Again, the devil is in the details. I don’t think this is a overly significant issue. The total cost of this programme would probably be fairly small.

With regards to GST, I strongly believe in the use of consumption tax as a mechanism for monetary transfers. Very broadly, the people who spend more, will have to pay more GST. The people who earn less, would get the most amount of transfers. And again, the devil is in the details. There will always be outliers that may have fallen through the system. I would suggest a refinement of the system, rather than a scrapping of it. In fact, I would support an increase of GST to 10% if there can be proper refinements to how the monetary transfers are done.


Overall, I think she is a fairly good speaker. Nicole Seah is definitely able to present herself well and competent at rousing crowd emotions. I just don’t like the cheap potshots that makes her sound superficial. Of course, it is the elections and there will be cheap potshots everywhere. I believe if she was fielded in another GRC, she might have stood a better chance. However, when you are fighting in Marine Parade against SM Goh Chok Tong, then the benefit of having her in parliament is much much lower than the disadvantage of having Goh Chok Tong kicked out of Parliament.


To me, this is reminiscent of the WP’s suicide squad sent to contest in the Ang Mo Kio GRC against PM Lee Hsien Loong for GE2006. Except, I prefer Glenda Han more. Maybe I just prefer older women. Hurhur!


  1. yes the truth is out, u prefer older women. That’s basically the point of ur super long essay.

  2. Thend /

    It might seem like a suicide squad, but I guess maybe it’s also because TPL is there too and they are trying to make use of the comparison to make a point…
    In any case, i suspect it might be something longer term, perhaps for the next elections, that NS is contesting in marine parade… perhaps to groom her and to gain experience.

    If the opposition are truely looking for big changes in the next election then i guess by fielding people in almost all wards to gain experience would be a good idea.

  3. SGCitizen /

    You have a very well balanced argument, weighing both sides of the equation. In my opinion, there’ too much “feeling” in this GE, (your reference to “entitlement mentality”). Charged emotions while making decisions, tend to exaggerate the negative impacts and downplaying the positive impacts. It almost borders on being irrational. Just like trading, being emotional, gets you a higher frequency of losing trades.
    Well, rallies are all about rousing the emotions of the crowd. whether or not, the statements make sense, there would already be a biased opinion.

    Right now there is a fire going on and everyone wants to put out the fire. The simple solution is going to be throwing water onto the fire, which may just cause flooding. Can we also not suffocate the fire? We need to step back and look at the problems more rationally, considering all factors and solutions. If there are unintended consequences as a result of major policy change, we are no better off than where we started.

  4. KHyuga /

    Nice try at analysing, but essentially flawed. First of all, I don’t think anybody should be discounted based merely on age. Moreover, one rally speech is not enough to judge anybody. In case you haven’t realised, parties usually save the best for last, so that they won’t be seen to be repeating their rhetorics. And if folks were really so happy with their lives today, then why would these “superficial” issues be endorsed by so many people on the street? There are serious problems out there which are not sufficiently addressed by the PAP. I’ll never forget the GST (which obviously penalises the poor people more) being raised from 5% to 7% just months after PAP was given a strong mandate in the last election.

    Forget about the opposition, but perhaps you should start talking more to the men on the street to get a real sense of ground sentiments, like the taxi drivers. It’s easy to comment from the sidelines but you really have to be in their shoes to feel for them. Yes, there is no uncertainty that the opposition would fare any better, but if people are not happy with what their lives now (it used to take only 30months to repay a HDB loan and now it takes 30 years!), do you think they would at least give them a chance? Ultimately, talk is very cheap. It’s the actions that count. I think Hougang and Potong Pasir had been run very well, given the limited resources.

  5. Fergus /

    Thanks Khyuga for your comment!

    Just my personal view, a lot of people in Singapore has accepted their current lifestyle as the norm. Which, in my opinion are too spendthrift. Did middle class people of the last generation eat in restaurants much? Did they travel for holidays every year? Nowadays, we hardly blink when we spend $20 on a meal (of course, not something you have everyday, but its frequent enough compared to the past where special meals are reserved for special occasions.)

    I am not intending to get married in the near term, which means when I do get married, I would be in the sandwiched class, that is, above the $8k threshold per couple (2 individuals). In fact, any typical university graduate couple would probably be close to the $8k threshold if they get married more than 3-5 years after graduation. In that sense, the housing issue would be the most severe as I would either have to buy resale or private property. However, I save aggressively. On an annual basis (I keep personal financial records of all my spending for the last 8-9 years, down to the $1.50 spent on drinks), I save around 50-60%. That is, if I earn $50k, I save $25k. I am pretty confident in 3-5 years time, I should not have any issue putting the downpayment for the house I want to buy. Most people who seem to be complaining that housing is too expensive seem to be fussy or just didn’t save enough. Just because 5rm HDBs were cheap enough to afford 20 years ago, doesn’t mean it would be the standard housing now. 3rms, or in future maybe even 2rms would be the norm. Just take a look at Japan and HK. Is it the government’s fault that they can’t provide you a house at the size you want, at the location you want, at the price you want? The world is changing. In HK, more people are living out at the new territories region, simply because that’s the way the world is changing.

    Property prices also move in cycles. Why didn’t people buy in the early 2009 when prices are low, and suddenly every HDB balloting is oversubscribed by 5x, 10x? Did our population suddenly grow 5x?

    I do agree the current PAP regime has bad eggs. There are policies that are good, there are policies that are wrong. There are competent people, and there are those who just talk and have no substance. I will be posting some posts on these people later in the week. The problem is that people now tend to be more critical, because we are better educated. Unfortunately, the fault of the current regime is that they have not moved with the times. Whenever they run a policy, they don’t spend time to explain, so much so that citizens become frustrated. Sure, there are bad policies and mistakes made (I don’t have to list them all. Examples would be like the YOG overspending, the MRT crowds, etc). In general, I would say they have decent policies. I am not pro-PAP specifically, and I would vote in the opposition if they are the better person. I quite like the Holland-Bukit Timah SDP team for example. (More on that in the next couple of days).

    Spend some time reading every page of the Singapore Budget, as I have posted above. Read the financial statements, read the KPI, read the mission statement. Not just the headlines. I have a bit of a issue with the KPI part, and I might write something on that on a later date.

    Can you explain why GST obviously penalises the poor people more? I have a lot to say on this, but would love to hear your point of view first..

    I do meet with a lot of people in my course of work. People who live in bungalows, people who live in rented 2 rm HDB. I would admit I am probably not in the same shoes as those who live in a 2rm HDB, but I understand the fear of living in poverty in Singapore. It is especially hard.

    I don’t believe in voting for the opposition for the sake of opposing. In the end, you might send your message of discontent, but you will be stuck with a weak government. Of course, not saying the current government is strong, but any rapid change will cause a snowball effect in the economy of Singapore. I believe there should be more oppositions in the government. I do think some of the opposition candidates are good. People like Benjamin Pwee, Tan Jee Say, Chen Show Mao, do look like they have potential.

  6. KHyuga /

    Not going to argue on policy issues here because there’s an even greater underlying concern that I’d like to address here – just exactly how do Singaporeans perceive “quality”? Based on your list, it seems that paper qualifications assume significant importance. If everyone held that view, I think Mr Low Thia Khiang would never have been voted into parliament today. Is he doing a bad job now? I don’t think so.

    Nobody should be blindly voting for the PAP or the opposition, but ask yourself, are you happy with your life now? If not, are we sending the ruling party a very wrong message by giving it a strong mandate again? There are positive externalities involved here. If everyone were to vote for his/her own good, then it makes a lot of sense to go with the tried and tested. However, this view is myopic and may even be detrimental in the long run, should this induce the ruling party to continue making policy decisions from their ivory towers.

    Also, how can we be sure that track records guarantee future success? What track record did PAP and LKY have to talk about when they were the opposition in the past? Ultimately, the question to ask ourselves would be whether at least some of the opposition candidates deserve the same chance we gave to the PAP a few decades ago. And are we voting based on real quality to serve the voters, or just perceived quality?

    Some food for thought.

  7. Fergus /

    Thanks KHyuga!

    Quality in my opinion is someone who proves that they have competence. It does not have to be academic, and it doesn’t even have to be in the same field. But I daresay, someone who shows that they are competence shows they have underlying character to handle difficulties and challenges. Too many people in Singapore are caught up in the paper chase in the last 10-15 years or even longer. Let’s not get too deep into that, because it is going to be yet another long debate 🙂

    I don’t believe in giving it a strong mandate. As I have mentioned, the previous election I voted a void. Main reason is that the opposition isn’t credible enough, and the PAP didn’t deserve my vote. However, some people are voting frivolously without considering the outcome. Do we really want to see Nicole Seah in Parliament instead of Goh Chok Tong? There are ministers that do not deserve to be in Parliament, and I would urge my friends in those wards to vote against them. There are oppositions who deserve to be in opposition, and again, I would urge my friends to vote for these people.

    When people voted LKY, it wasn’t about the PAP. It was him and his competencies. LKY did not become a candidate in elections, suddenly. He was already involved in politics, as an election agent and various other roles for at least 3 years (much more probably), before offering himself as a candidate. Now ask yourself the same for our current round of candidates. Where is the grassroots experience?

    Passion to serve is a virtue that should be honoured. I applaud those willing to step up to the plate. I just don’t want passionate incompetent people to get into Parliament. I would love to see some of the competent people, like Tan Jee Say, Benjamin Pwee, Kenneth Jeyaratnam, Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao get into Parliament, if not as MP then as NCMP. When the next election comes round, we would know if they are any good.

  8. KHyuga /

    On grassroots work, LTK mentioned during WP’s rally on Sat that they had applied to hold grassroot events and do grassroots work in PAP constituencies previously, only to be rejected by the town councils. When I went to the NSP rally at Mountbatten CC just now, Nicole Seah pointed out that the CC refused to let rally supporters use its toilets. What if it was a PAP rally? Chiam See Tong had been meeting people at void decks for almost 3 decades, while PAP MPs have the luxury of meeting people at PCF offices. It’s small seemingly trivial things like these which corroborate the notion of an uneven playing field. I strongly believe that serving Singapore should transcend races, jobs and even parties. Whether there will be any change, and for better or for worse, only time will tell.

    I think this healthy discussion has run its course. Thanks for your insights Fergus. You’d probably agree that at the end of the day, we can agree to disagree, but we should all be making an informed decision come polling day.


  9. Fergus /

    Yup. I do agree that the opposition parties will have disadvantages. Just look at the opposition wards for example, PAPs have their own ‘councils’ even though it is opposition run. The sheer size of an incumbent would make it harder for oppositions to fight.

    But anyway, I don’t mean purely opposition grassroots work. Helping out at a CC, RC, etc (again, ‘supposedly’ independent grassroots) would still enhance a person’s grassroot experience, even if the end objective is to run as an opposition candidate.

    I thank you for your comments earlier. You are an intelligent person and I would love to meet you sometime!

  10. Fergus /

    Just to add, someone from facebook had a note on Nicole Seah, and it did look a little similar in arguments. Just for your reference



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