The Ah Seng Story – which is the real one

Mr Speaker,

The reasons for the Opposition’s objection to the GST have been documented extensively in social media and in the minds of Singaporeans. As PSP’s Secretary General, Francis Yuen, has said, “the move to hike GST is Unnecessary, Untimely and Uncompassionate”. The Government has basically put up two arguments against the Opposition. First, while the Government do not deny that it has ample revenues, it has insisted much of the revenue are not to be used for this generation. Second, the GST is not regressive because the poor are compensated by GST vouchers, never mind the other Singaporeans including the sandwiched class who have to pay more.

In my speech during the Committee of Supply debate in February, I have stated that the sandwiched class would be paying $1.2B more as a result of the 2% GST hike, at a time when they are facing challenges with soaring inflation and escalating housing prices. The Government, however, did not confirm or deny that figure.

I don’t want to raise the same questions. The time is better spent telling a story to illustrate what is happening and let Singaporeans decide.

Many would remember the story about Ah Seng and his grandfather, Ah Gong told by former Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah. However, she did not complete her story. Today, I will share one more episode with all of you.    Sir, Mandarin please.

阿成与阿公的故事 - 续集


阿成结婚有了孩子后、自己家的开销迅速增加、但阿公还是一直要求阿成给他多一点家用。 阿公说他需要更多的钱,因为阿嬷要看病,还是祖屋要维修、总是有他的理由。 所以一直以来,阿成的负担很重,他没有多少现金储蓄。







Mr Speaker, thank you.


English translation

The Story of Ah Seng – Episode 2

Ah Seng’s parents died when he was very young and he was brought up by his grandfather. Ah Seng was not a prodigal son or a “see gui kia” who only knew how to get money from his grandfather. Ever since Ah Seng started working, he had always been giving his grandfather a large proportion of his salary.

After Ah Seng got married and had children, his expenses began to increase rapidly, but his grandfather continued to ask Ah Seng to increase his allowance. Grandfather had his reasons, like he needed money to pay his wife’s medical bills, or because he needed money to refurbish the ancestral homes. Hence, all this while, Ah Seng carried a heavy financial burden and had limited cash savings.

If the extended family was truly short of money, grandfather’s requests would be reasonable. But as Ah Seng grew older, he realised that the extended family, headed by his grandfather, was doing pretty well financially, as their ancestors had left behind many properties and assets. However, the grandfather never revealed this to Ah Seng, and deliberately kept it as a secret. 

All this while, Ah Seng, who had a strong notion of self-reliance, had not given much thought to the ancestral assets. He did not complain even when he had to pay his grandfather the market price to purchase a house allocated to him out of the ancestral assets when he got married. At the time, the grandfather gave Ah Seng some money to help with the down payment, and Ah Seng borrowed money from banks to pay for the rest of the house. After that, the grandfather continually invest the proceeds from the sale of the house that he received from Ah Seng.

As Ah Seng entered middle age, his career began to flounder and his income became unstable. The cost of living also began to rise precipitously. Under such circumstances, when grandfather again asked Ah Seng to increase his allowance, Ah Seng felt aggrieved, and started to feel some discontent towards his grandfather. 

Furthermore, each time any family member questioned the grandfather about the ancestral assets, he would rage and call them spoilt children. He would warn them not to spout nonsense. Actually, Ah Seng agreed that they should leave behind more assets for the future generation, but not without addressing the urgent needs of the present generation.

Fellow Singaporeans, do you agree with the grandfather’s behaviour? If you are Ah Seng, would you agree to his grandfather’s request for an increase in allowance? 

Justice is in the hearts of the people.

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