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Netizens remark that ‘misconception’ about Singapore reserves is hardly possible when figures remain unknown

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in an exclusive CNA interview on Singapore’s reserve, refrained from disclosing specific reserve figures.

While he emphasized that Singapore currently possesses reserves deemed sufficient for “most circumstances”, he cautioned against “significant misconception” to assume their perpetual sufficiency.

Humorously, some netizen comments pointed out the paradox of warning against misconceptions about reserves when most Singaporeans are unaware of the actual figures stored in the national reserves.



SINGAPORE: During an exclusive interview with Singapore media outlet CNA, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted that Singapore currently possesses reserves deemed sufficient for “most circumstances.”

However, he emphasized that it would be a “significant misconception” to assume this state will persist, given that the nation’s spending requirements are already surpassing the rate of revenue growth.

He characterized these reserves as a “great source of comfort and reassurance,” affording Singapore an additional strategy should challenging situations arise.

Yet, when asked about specific figures pertaining to Singapore’s reserves, PM Lee declined to provide a direct response.

Mr Lee said: “I can’t answer that question. It’s enough for most circumstances. It’s enough to give us a substantial support in the Budget every year contributing to the government’s revenues.”

While amassing substantial historical reserves with undisclosed figures, PM Lee mentioned that Singapore had to conceive of the concept of an “elected President” as a “second key,” entrusted with the responsibility of protecting these reserves.

“because it’s very easy to lock it all up then you’re not allowed to do anything with it. well you can do that but then it becomes useless to you so what is the mechanism by which you can protect it lock it And yet when you need to unlock it and without the risk that all of it will disappear.”

“I think that was the key turning point, because it crystallized people’s focus, they knew that there’s such a thing called the reserves, that there’s quite a lot of money, and that it needs to be protected.”

PM Lee has no idea “how much is enough” for Singapore’s reserves

Despite PM Lee once again evaded questions on details about reserves in front of media, he underscored a significant misconception that can arise among Singaporeans regarding the reserves – the belief in a definitive notion of “enough.”

“How much is enough? If I have more than that, I can spend it. If I have less than that, well, maybe I hope we get there,” he said. “I don’t know how much is enough.”

“Before the global financial crisis, we didn’t think we will need anything. When (it) came, it turned out we needed S$4, S$5 billion. When the COVID-19 crisis came, in the end we needed S$40 plus billion. So you have no idea how much you will need.”

Expressing caution, he cautioned that COVID-19 is not the most severe adversity Singapore could face. As such, he advocated a different perspective regarding the reserves – envisioning them as a form of “rainy day money,” designed to address unforeseen challenges more effectively.

Singaporeans difficult to come to ‘misconceptions’ about reserves as they don’t even know about the figures

With the People’s Action Party (PAP) at the helm of Singapore for over five decades, the complete disclosure of the nation’s reserve size has been deliberately withheld, citing reasons such as safeguarding national interests and preventing speculative pressures on the Singapore dollar.

The enigmatic nature of Singapore’s reserves, deliberately concealed from the public eye by top officials, has sparked curiosity among citizens, prompting ongoing demands for transparency and answers.

In response to PM Lee’s call for citizens to avoid misconceptions about Singapore’s reserve sufficiency, astute netizens took to the comment section of CNA’s Facebook post to deliver witty counterpoints.

Humorously, some noted the irony of cautioning people to not draw misconception about reserves while Singaporeans don’t even know how much are really in the reserves.

One netizen posed the hypothetical question of whether USD 1 trillion in reserves would be sufficient for Singapore, and if not, what the benchmark for adequacy would be, say USD 3 trillion?

Another response highlighted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reports foreign reserves of $400 billion, which some consider to be relatively modest.

With a retort, a netizen remarked that three decades ago, the reserves were purportedly USD 300 billion; and over the years, a mere USD 100 billion has been added to the national reserves. Furthermore, in today’s context of rising living costs, accounting for a 2% annual inflation rate and considering purchasing power parity, it appears Singapore’s economic performance may not be as robust as previously perceived.

Different approaches to reserves

Amidst various opinions, some propose that PM Lee and his cabinet consider adopting an alternative strategy.

This entails reducing expenditures on costly defence weaponry, often seen as displays of power, and instead reallocating funds towards significant subsidies, similar to the approach taken by Malaysia.

In agreement with the previous sentiment, another netizen emphasized the perplexing situation of having significant reserves while the population faces financial constraints, and demanded the need for greater transparency beyond vague declarations.


Netizens urged to vote for non-PAP affiliated President to safeguard reserves

A netizen pointedly highlighted that simply asserting that the reserves are “insufficient” wouldn’t be sufficient in itself.

Such a claim, according to the comment, would necessitate an explanation regarding the allocation and expenditure of these reserves.

The comment goes on to underscore the significance of selecting a President who is not affiliated with the People’s Action Party (PAP). I

In this context, the netizen lends their support to President hopeful George Goh, labeling him as the “true independent and neutral one.”

A netizen observed that, in light of the situation, the most viable approach would be to ensure a significant separation between the President and the current government.

In this context, the comment highlighted that the former senior minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and former GIC investment chief, Ng Kok Song, might not be suitable candidates based on this criterion.

Some called out PM Lee using ‘fear tactic’ to stop people pursuing the info about reserves

Certain individuals are adamant that it is well within the rights of Singaporeans to receive comprehensive information about the specifics of the nation’s reserves.

Conversely, there are netizens who express disagreement with PM Lee’s continued utilization of a ‘fear tactic’ to withhold information regarding the reserves.

A comment support PM Lee’s position on the challenges of transparency regarding reserves, stressing that while accountability to Singaporeans is crucial, the “complexity” extends beyond that.

The netizen references the Asian Financial Crisis of ’97 as a real example of financial attacks causing substantial damage, highlighting the danger of subversion and economic destabilization that can exploit public anger and insecurity.
While not advocating complete secrecy, they caution against naive demands for full disclosure, noting the harsh global realities and external threats that governments must consider.

PAP Govt refuses to reveal or confirm reserves

Despite PM Lee’s insistence that the reserves cannot be revealed, the Singapore Government, in a report which was published by the Ministry of Finance, had previously disclosed a total of S$1.4 trillion in financial assets in the Government Financial Statements Report for the financial year ending 31 March 2021.

The reserve, over a trillion, was referenced by DBS Bank CEO Gupta in his recent address at a forum on Monday.

When questioned in Parliament by Mr Leong Mun Wai, a Non-Constituency Member from the Progress Singapore Party over whether the data released is correct, the Second Minister for Finance, Ms Indranee Rajah, refrained from directly confirming the figure.

She instead inquired about the source of the data, saying, “if the data is already available to the public, then I don’t need to confirm it.”

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juz wondering …
if the reserve is in “healthy” state, the g would have boasted about it to win new votes.
the fact, according to we are 6th most indebted country by gdp last year.
you trust pinky or statista?

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Could he explain SG’s 6th rank in 2022 as world’s most indebted country?
Up from 9th position in 2021.

Perhaps he’s referring PUBLIC DEBT = RESERVE? The higher the better!!!

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Last edited 9 months ago by wee

we received “free” mask, “free” vacc, “free” oximeter, “free” test kit, etc during covid period.
then the bill (GST increase, tax increase, etc.) came.

so, the real question is … DOES THE RESERVE EXIST?

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Lim Hock Siew government is bankrupt……..oops sorry sala time.

Looks like Lee Hsien Loong’s government is bankrupt that’s why they are afraid to reveal.
When the largest sovereign fund disclosed the assets & even their considerable losses.
I don’t understand why Singapore cannot. Perhaps, his wife wants to do more for the World via philanthropy, these days.