Ten reasons why Mah Bow Tan is Singapore’s most hated minister:-
1. Touted as the government’s best brain on how to suck money from Singaporeans, he helmed two ministries – communications and national development and managed to think of innovative ways to make the public cough up huge indirect taxes during his tenure there.
The term Pay and Pay (PAP) was also coined by Singaporeans after seeing how the minister could easily thought of one plan after another to fleece the people ruthlessly.
2. While helming the communications ministry from 1991-1999, he developed the much-scorned ERP system in 1990 which taxed every vehicle that passes through a gantry during peak hour. It started off at the CBD but has since moved down to the inner city area.
It is believed that the ERP system now brings in few hundred millions a year just by putting up gantries to tax car owners passing by a busy area. They also need to pay road tax.
3. He also overseen the hugely-lucrative COE system which is a piece of paper allowing car-owners to buy a vehicle for ten years.
Each month, the government will put up a certain number of COE in the car market and a bidding system follows. At its highest point, some COEs managed to fetch close to $80,000 before the cost of the car is factored in!
In the greater mission of trying to control the number of vehicles on our congested road, the government manages to think of this huge cash cow which brings in close to $2 billion dollars of COE money yearly into its coffers.
Its still unsure how the government spent all our COE money throughout the past 20 years.
4. While helming national development from 1999 to 2011, Mah introduces a booking system for our BTO flats in order to reduce wastage of new flats.
He tried to tinkle with the property market which saw years of depressing property prices with some 5-room HDB resale flats changing years as low as $300,000.
Many new flats in outlying areas were also unoccupied after TOP then and he believes new couples must show sincerity by placing a small deposit together with a booking fee.
Each couple has to book a flat at certain given location and sometimes the wait can be as long as 5-6 years while the government tries it’s best to build.
The booking system receives alot of flat as the wait is too long and many of them are in faraway places.
Mah was subsequently replaced by the current minister Khaw Boon Wan as housing was a top problem during GE 2011.
5. Mah also did himself no favour when in December 2009 he admiited that he was caught off guard by the huge increase in PRs thus jamming up housing facilities.
Back then, PRs can apply for new housing units if they marry a Singaporean and they could also buy a resale flat immediately from the open market without getting married.
He presided over a very rough property market which saw some HDB flats changing hands at $200,000 to $300,000 above valuation. Most of the buyers are believe to be foreigners holding PRs.
The situation improves when Khaw took over and right now PRs can only buy resale flats after 5 years residing here.
6. Tampines GRC was also touted as a possible election loss in GE 2011 as Mah is every Singaporean’s nightmare – however he managed to garner 57% of the votes over a unknown team from NSP.
He has this to say before election: “A General Election is not about me, an individual minister or an individual MP. It’s really about the residents themselves … … I offer myself up for election because I believe that I can do the best and the most for them. But ultimately it’s for the residents, the people to decide.”
Immediately after GE 2011, he was retired along with Wong Kan Seng and Raymond Lim.
Nobody misses him or the other two ministers at all.
7. Days prior to GE 2011, Mah tried to vindicate himself by walking through rows of gleaming new HDB BTO flats as the government tried to paint him in a better light on our mainstream media.
However, nobody believed such propaganda anymore as he sweat through the previous general election.
His glaring mistakes in national development have caused hardship to many Singaporeans as he escaped into his comfortable private life.
8. As early as 2007, Mah has already introduced the idea of a 6.5-million population in Singapore in 40-50 years’ time.
He gave an interview to Straits Times on 29 Jun 2007 saying: ‘We’re not compromising, you know. We are keeping to our standards for parks and gardens, our greenery spaces. We are keeping all those standards. We’re not compromising our quality of life. And yet, can we fit this number of people in? The answer is yes.’
He further added that life would be better when the population grows.
9. Known as the deliverer of bad news, Singaporeans quivered whenever Mah made any public announcement – its like he is our doomsday minister out to make our life miserable whenever he opens his mouth.
From the ERP to COE to housing policies, he has never failed to anger many Singaporeans throughout his 20 years’ ministerial career.
In 2000, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew singled him out for praise in Parliament, saying that although Mr Mah is ‘not a natural crowd-puller or a mobiliser’, he ‘has judgment’ and ‘is competent and effective’.
I am sure many Singaporeans can’t agree more that he is a very effective robber of the common people.
10. In Sep 2009, while presiding over unpopular steep increase in HDB resale prices, Mah did not try to pacify the people but instead warned Singaporeans that resale flats will continue to rise.
‘The flat prices would probably go up … by 1 per cent, 2 per cent,’ said Mr Mah. ‘It will just keep on going up if the economy recovers as people expect, and if confidence returns but affordability will always be there.’
“We subsidised you when you buy and we increased the value of your flat when you live in it and… facilitate you to monetise it when you grow old. This is the best form of investment and welfare for the people,’ He said while at the launch of the final skybrdge at The Pinnacle@Duxton in Sep 2009.
Its such unbelievable snobbish rhetoria that put many Singaporeans off and probably earned him the title “Singapore’s most hated minister”!
Written by: Gilbert GohNumber of View: 4117