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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Singapore's Universal Periodic Review (Mid-Term Report 2018) to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Hi everyone,

Today is the 17th month since the AGC ignored my email and went ahead to publish an immediate media release against me:
https://www.agc.gov.sg/home/agc-media-release-removal-of-contemptuous-material-and-issuance-of-apology-by-han-hui-hui

I was threatened with a potential sentence of 18 years jail and SGD$600,000 fine via an ungazetted law that was used against me.

During which, the Singapore government made use of their mainstream media to character assassinate me:
https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/mha-han-hui-hui-s-allegations-in-blog-post-false

I was imprisoned on 22 Feb 2017 immediately after the appeal was rejected:
http://huihui247.blogspot.com/2017/02/alone-in-cell.html

To date, the Singapore government continues to practice "double standard" against me by not revealing my CCTVs:
http://huihui247.blogspot.com/2017/03/my-response-to-singapore-government.html

This month (August 2018) is not only Singapore's national day but also the time for the midterm submission of our Universal Periodic Review to the United Nations.
As Singapore has no independent NGO, and no independent unions etc... There is no mention of why did the Singapore government demand for the Malaysia immigration to deport me back to Singapore at all:
https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/malaysia/singaporean-activist-deported-barred-from-workshop

In addition, civil society and political parties are all infiltrated by the incumbent, which explains why there is not a single one of them who voice out on such violations against fundamental rights to movement:
https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/han-hui-hui-prevented-entering-malaysia-and-deported

Nonetheless, what is important is Singaporeans' rights to public housing, public healthcare and pensions. Given the repressive nature of Singapore's current situation, there is also not a single UPR mid-term report to the United Nations about our social and economic rights' status, and as such, we've (two human rights defenders) made a UPR mid-term submission two weeks ago and the report has been acknowledged by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR).

We have attached the report below, please let us know if you need more information.
Thanks.

Submitted by:

Han, Hui Hui
Human Rights Fellow, University of York
Human Rights Defender (frontlinedefenders.com)
hui_hui_247@hotmail.com

Ten, Leu-Jiun Jeanne
Former NUS (National University of Singapore) candidate for the
Master of Arts degree in Architecture
tenleujiun@hotmail.com

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS

1. From a cash-flow perspective, the Singapore Government continues to not spend any money on healthcare, pensions and public housing.

2. The Government continues to receive annual cash inflows that exceed the cash outflows, for each and all of the above three areas.

Pensions

3. In Singapore, all working Singaporeans continue to be compelled to pay for their own future retirement funds through a system of compulsory apportionment of their wages into a central fund. The 37% contribution rate of income is the highest in the world. The Government manages the Central Provident Fund (CPF) by investing the pool of money collected. The government pays a 2.5% interest for most part (generally 23% point of the 37% contribution) of the money in the CPF.

4. Since Singaporeans get back what they put into the CPF – this puts low-wage workers, people who were not able to have stable jobs before retirement age, and economically inactive persons, in a disadvantaged situation. In their twilight years, they draw down a smaller monthly life annuity from their own individual retirement sum, than those who contributed higher individual CPF funds in their working years.

5. From a cash flow perspective, the Government does not contribute anything to the CPF, but it actually profits from the CPF. Since 1999, the Government has been paying a 2.5% interest for most part of the money kept in the CPF. It is not known, how much returns the Government gets from investing the CPF monies, since this information is not disclosed. However, considering the average historical returns achieved by other national pension funds, it is estimated that the Government keeps about 40% of the annualised returns – an amount that is fundamentally derived from investing the people’s compulsory savings.

Public Housing

6. About 82% of Singaporeans live in public housing (HDB) (Housing Development Board) flats. The Government has for decades, been promoting the idea of HDB flats as asset enhancing instruments, which owners could buy from the Government and sell at a higher price in the open market after living in it for 5 years.

7. The Government’s consistent rhetoric that HDB is an “asset enhancement” policy over the decades suddenly made an about-turn, when the Government emphasised in 2016 that the value of HDB flats would decline to zero at the end of their typical 99-year lease. The Government has also announced restrictions on housing loans and the use of the CPF for financing older HDB flats, such that these flats are now declining rapidly in value once they are more than 40 years old.

8. The flip-flopping statements on the value of HDB flats underscore the uncertainty and lack of transparency of policies relating to what happens in the future. Sadly, for many residents, the HDB flat is the single most valuable nest egg for retirement and their sense of security.

9. The HDB system controls the supply of new flats. In limiting each nuclear family to purchase new HDB flats directly from the government to 2 chances, a vibrant HDB flat resale market thrives, such that a number of HDB flats resold in the open market have hit the S$1 million mark. At the same time, the Government continues to inflate the price of newly built HDB flats. The Government cites construction costs and the market cost of land as reasons, but still claims that the newly built flats are subsidised and sold below cost.

10. The Government has not come up with an explanation for why it charges market prices for the state land on which the HDB flats sit and it continues to refuse to divulge the breakdown of actual construction and land costs. In fact, the Government has repeatedly claimed that it has lost billions because the more public flats it builds and sells, the more subsidies it is putting up and hence the more money it loses.

11. In this regard, the Government continues to mark up the cost of state land at market rates payable to itself, and thus claims that it is losing money because it is unable to recover the costs of land and construction through the sale of HDB flats.

12. There is as yet, no other country in the world which prices public housing by charging land at market prices - which has made public housing in Singapore, the most expensive in the world based on the ratio of prices to incomes.

Healthcare

13. Singapore’s public expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of GDP continues to be very low, at over 2 plus %, which is one of the lowest in the world, and the lowest among all the developed countries.

14. The Government’s spending on public Long-Term Care (LTC) is also the lowest amongst the five advanced Asia-Pacific economies, namely Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. While Singapore had the highest GDP per capita at S$71,000 in FY2016, the Government’s spending on LTC relative to GDP at 0.19 per cent, was the lowest among the five economies, and probably the lowest in the world.

15. The media has published commentaries and data for health care but is sketchy on LTC expenditure. Rhada Basu of the Lien Foundation noted that: “We have out of pocket data on health care, but not on long-term care…If we knew that, we will get a better sense of what the (magic) number (for government spending) should be…” Does it mean that Singapore may also be the least transparent in this aspect in the world?

16. At present, all adults aged 40 and above are automatically enrolled in ElderShield, an opt-out LTC insurance scheme. In 2018, the Government announced a similar, but compulsory Careshield Life scheme for those from 30 years old and above. Careshield Life premiums will be higher than Eldershield, and will increase at 2% per annum as one ages, until age 65. We believe that this is the only national LTC scheme in the world which has premiums that increase annually.

17. Since its inception, ElderShield has accumulated “premiums plus investment returns” estimated to be about S$4 billion, against a total claims payout of only S$133 million. Is this claim ratio of less than 4% the lowest of all national LTC schemes in the world and in the history of the world?

18. Will CareShield Life become the most profitable national LTC scheme in the world?

19. From a cashflow perspective, the annual total cash inflows from healthcare (CPF Medisave contributions and the interest paid on total Medisave balances) continues to exceed the total outflows (public healthcare spending plus withdrawals from Medisave to pay for approved medical expenses and insurance premiums).

Conclusion

20. Singapore is the only country in the world which, from a cashflow perspective, does not spend any money on healthcare, pensions and public housing, as the annual inflows exceed the outflows in all these three areas.