Some Singaporeans are sharing an old video of Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing blasting the opposition for offering voters $300 during the last election, a day after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the Bicentennial Bonus that will be given to all Singaporeans in what is expected to be a potential election year.
During the 2015 General Election, Chan hit out at some opposition candidates who offered to fight for a minimum S$300 basic income if they are elected into Parliament.
Asserting that promises of such cash sums are akin to bribery, Chan declared: “Please don’t look down on Singaporeans. We are not here to be bribed.”
Warning Singaporeans to be wary of the opposition’s bold promises, Chan blasted:
“Who are these people? Will they care for our country? Some of them promise you $300 per month, no questions asked. I say, please don’t insult my residents. You think what? They are here to be bribed? No! Our residents are better than that! Our residents know who truly cares for them.
“If you offer $300, are you making this election an auction? Is this an election or is this an auction? And where does that $300 come from?
“If we give everybody the same, rich or poor, how are we helping the poor? The way we do business in this Government is to make sure that even with the finite resources, we focus the most resources on those who need it most – the low-income, the sandwiched class – and that is how we help fellow Singaporeans who are most in need.
“Not people who anyhow promise and say that we will give everybody 300 dollars. If everybody give 300 dollars, you ask him ‘Why not give $3000?’ Isn’t that better? But please, don’t look down on Singaporeans. We are not here to be bribed.”
Watch the video above from 16.20 onwards.
Meanwhile, as many Singaporeans expected, Heng Swee Keat announced a Bicentennial bonus, rebates and vouchers as he delivered his Budget 2019 speech yesterday.
The bonuses, rebates and vouchers come on the back of speculation that the next General Election may be held as early as this year.
The Government is set to give Singaporeans a Bicentennial Bonus, that costs S$1.1 billion. The elements of the Bicentennial Bonus are as follows:
Up to S$300 in GST vouchers in cash for 1.4 million Singaporeans;
Workfare Bicentennial Bonus 10 per cent of WIS payouts in cash, with a minimum payout of S$100;
50 per cent rebate for tax payers, capped at S$200 for the 2019 Year of Assessment;
S$150 Edusave top-ups for primary and secondary school students;
S$500 top-up for Singaporeans aged 17 to 20 in their Post-Secondary Education Accounts;
CPF top-ups for Singaporeans aged 50 to 64; and
Between S$300 – S$1,000 in CPF top-ups for Singaporeans aged 50 to 64 with lower CPF balances. Those aged 50 to 54 with up to S$30,000 in their accounts will get S$500. If they have more than S$30,000 but less than S$60,000 they will get S$300. Those between the ages of 55 – 64 will receive double the amount they are eligible for.
Along with the Bicentennial Bonus, Singaporeans will be eligible for more Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC), this year. 930,000 eligible households will receive between 1.5 to 3.5 months of S&CC rebates.
Further, Heng promised to help commuters who need help with transport expenses by committing an additional $10 million to the Public Transport Fund.
Netizens who are responding to Chan’s old video that is circulating after Heng’s budget speech have pointed out that Chan’s criticism of the opposition is “ironic” given the bonus and vouchers the Government is giving out in what is widely perceived to be a potential election year:
The bonuses, rebates, and vouchers announced in this year’s budget – combined with the $100-$300 all Singaporeans received as a one-off bonus last year due to the exceptional Budget surplus of FY2017 – could signal that the next election will be held soon, given past election trends.
The nation was celebrating its 50th year of independence in 2015 when the last General Election was called. Citizens received a “SG50” cash bonus in the run-up to the election, which the PAP won with an overwhelming majority.
In Budget 2015, middle-income earners who paid personal income tax received a 50 per cent rebate of up to $1,000. Besides this, eligible Singaporeans aged 55 and above received a one-off Seniors’ Bonus of $150 to $600 in cash, as well.
2015 was also the same year that the nation’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passed on.
Political observers speculated at the time that the Government called a General Election earlier than expected during the last cycle, to capitalise on the wave of goodwill that poured forth after the political leader’s passing.
The General Election before that, was preceded by Budget 2011, in which the Government distributed $1.5 billion worth of “growth dividends” to Singaporeans. 80 per cent of citizens received $500 to $700 each that year.
With the trend of one-off cash bonuses preceding General Elections in recent years, it may come as no surprise to some if the next election is held within the next few months.