The Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament on Monday (Nov 7), despite dissent from the Workers’ Party MPS as well as the Non-Constituency MPs from the Progress Singapore Party including Mr Leong Mun Wai, PSP NCMP, who again voiced out his objection to the hike, calling it “unnecessary, untimely and uncompassionate.”
He reiterated that at a time of high inflation rates and more costly public housing, the sandwiched class “will be paying $1.2 billion more” when the GST is fully implemented.
However, he then proceeded to tell a story “to illustrate what is happening and let Singaporeans decide.”
He continued the tale of “Ah Seng,” which had first been told in Parliament by former MP Lee Bee Wah in 2019, and had drawn considerable flak at the time.
The former MP had used the story of a young man named Ah Seng, who had been raised and supported by his grandfather (Ah Gong) even until Ah Seng started his own business.
But Ah Seng continued to ask for more money, which angered his grandfather, who deemed this a sign of ungratefulness, Ms Lee said at the time, to illustrate that the “government carefully manag(es) our finances, so we can have surpluses and benefits like the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation Packages. Not every government does this for its people.”
However, according to Mr Leong, Ms Lee did not complete the story, and he proceeded to “share one more episode” to make his point and “let Singaporeans decide”.
In Mr Leong’s version, Ah Seng “was not a prodigal son or a ‘see gui kia’ who only knew how to get money from his grandfather, but was hardworking and had always given his grandfather an allowance.
“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,” said Mr Leong.
The NCM P added that if their family had lacked money, Ah Gong’s requests for more would have been 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,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ah Seng continued to be self-reliant and “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.”
Later in his life, as Ah Seng’s career grew stagnant and living costs increased, his grandfather asked for a higher allowance, which aggrieved Ah Seng.
The grandfather would also “rage” and call “spoilt children” family members who questioned the grandfather about the ancestral assets.
“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?,” Mr Leong asked.