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Kenneth Jeyaretnam receives fifth POFMA order for remarks on government spending and Ridout Road rentals

Under Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong’s oversight, the POFMA Office instructed Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam to issue a Correction Direction on Thursday.

This action, the fifth this year, addresses his online statements, encompassing government spending, healthcare funds, and allegations about ministers’ bungalow rentals.

Mr Jeyaratnam said he will be responding to the attempts to silence his commentary on crucial Singaporean issues.

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SINGAPORE:  The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office, under the guidance of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, on Thursday (2 Nov) has directed Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam to issue a Correction Direction (CD) concerning statements he made in recent online posts.

This marks his fifth correction direction this year, addressing claims concerning government spending, healthcare expenditure, and the rental of black-and-white bungalows at Ridout Road by two ministers.

According to a statement from the POFMA office, on 22 October 2023, Mr Jeyaretnam, the Secretary-General of the Reform Party, posted content on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and X (formerly known as Twitter), making multiple assertions that have been disputed as false.

As a result, he is required to publish the correction notice across all these platforms.

Earlier this year, he received similar orders over his comments about the National Day Rally package disbursements, billion-dollar money laundering arrests, and the Ridout Road rentals.

Mr Jeyaretnam’s post on NIRC

In one of his posts, Mr Jeyaretnam claimed that most of the Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) had been transferred into long-term funds, implying it does not contribute to actual spending.

A statement on the government’s fact-checking website Factually refuted this claim, stating, “The NIRC comprises the investment returns of our reserves, which supplement the annual Budget each year to fund public spending.”

The statement also highlighted that the NIRC for the financial year ending Mar 31, 2023, amounted to about S$22.4 billion (US$16.4 billion) and emphasized how the reserves and the NIRC have benefited Singaporeans, as showcased on various platforms, including the Ministry of Finance’s website and the CNA documentary on reserves.

“NIRC, combined with operating revenue, form the total revenue that is used to meet annual public spending and contributes to the government’s overall fiscal position,” it said.

“The NIRC has provided an annual revenue stream of about 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average over the past five years.”

It was emphasized that no specific proportion of the NIRC is designated for particular spending items or earmarked for transfer into specific funds.

“Instead, a portion of the annual Budget as a whole may be used to top up funds. Hence, it is incorrect to state that most of the NIRC has been transferred into long-term funds.”

Furthermore, the statement highlighted the fallacy of suggesting that money transferred into these long-term funds does not contribute to “actual spending.”

It was clarified that all funds, including long-term ones, contribute to disbursements, thereby benefiting Singaporeans through actual spending.

On Ridout Road Saga

The Factually statement claimed that Mr Jeyaretnam accused the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) of giving “preferential treatment” towards Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan by renting out properties at 26 and 31 Ridout Road below market value while charging the Housing and Development Board (HDB) inflated prices for land.

The statement on Factually refuted this claim and pointed out that similar statements made in previous publications by Mr Jeyaretnam have already been clarified.

“He continues to make such statements with utter disregard for the facts,” the statement said. “He repeatedly omitted the facts and clarifications, rather than provide them and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

“Mr Jeyaretnam’s campaign of posting false statements misleads Singaporeans on the way that SLA works, as well as on the State’s land sale and property rental policies.”

The statement on Factually also referred to the review conducted by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, which concluded that the rentals for both properties were based on fair market value and not below market valuation.

“There was no evidence that the Ministers were given favourable rental rates due to their position.”

Regarding the selling of state land to the Housing and Development Board (HDB) for public housing development, the statement clarified that the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) evaluates the land’s worth at the “fair market value.”

This valuation is conducted independently by the Chief Valuer, following established valuation principles, rather than by the authority itself.

“SLA does not charge HDB inflated prices for the land,” the statement said.

“The underlying principle used by the government for determining the value of land for sale to the public and for rental of the Ridout Road properties is the same – it is to transact at fair market value.

“Whether for short-term rental or longer-term sale, the valuation seeks to establish the price that the market is willing to pay in each case, so that the government transacts at fair market value.”

On healthcare expenditure

Lastly, in his article, Mr Jeyaretnam alleged that out of the S$17 billion the government spent on healthcare, only S$8 billion was utilized as subsidies for Singaporeans.

However, the statement from Factually refuted this claim, stating, “There is no factual basis to state that of S$17 billion in healthcare expenditure, only S$8 billion was used as subsidies for Singaporeans.”

It highlighted that healthcare expenditure over the last three financial years varied from S$16.9 billion to S$17.3 billion annually, with subsidies for Singaporeans ranging from S$9.54 billion to S$10.9 billion per year.

“This is reflected in the government budget book, which is publicly available on the Ministry of Finance’s website,” the statement said.

“Excluding COVID-19 expenditure which is transitory, more than 70 per cent of total healthcare expenditure was spent on subsidies for Singaporeans.”

Mr Jeyaretnam responds to the latest POFMA order

In a latest Facebook post, Mr Jeyaratnam said he will be responding to the attempt to “censor and stop” him from commenting on matters of vital importance to Singaporeans.

He highlighted a persistent effort to conceal the actual size of reserves and governmental resources.

Furthermore, he refuted the allegations, stating that he did not claim preferential treatment for Shanmugam and Balakrishnan from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

“I have said that SLA mismanaged huge tracts of state land such that they yielded very poor returns that diverged by orders of magnitude from those in the private rented sector. ”

Mr. Jeyaretnam further argued that SLA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law, and Shanmugam appointed the CEO, allowing historical mismanagement to persist during his tenure as the Minister.

Earlier POFMA orders issued to Jeyaratnam over CPIB and Ridout Road Saga

On 22 August 2023, the POFMA office, led by the Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Edwin Tong, instructed Mr Jeyaretnam to issue a Correction Direction regarding his online allegations.

Jeyaretnam’s claims included the alleged foreign influence on the arrests of 10 individuals and implications about Minister S Iswaran and Mr. Ong Beng Seng.

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and POFMA office clarified that the arrests were the result of thorough investigations, separate from any external pressure. They also refuted Jeyaretnam’s claims about the Ridout Road rental agreements, emphasizing the regular renewal and revaluation processes every two/three years.

In a separate incident on 3 August 2023, Jeyaratnam faced another POFMA correction direction concerning his remarks on Ridout Road rentals.

The government’s statement contradicted Jeyaretnam’s assertion, affirming that the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) charged the ministers rents consistent with market rates. The correction notice demanded Jeyaretnam to retract the false statements made on Facebook and LinkedIn.

On 16 July, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) issued a POFMA correction direction to Mr Jeyaratnam, Mr Thamil Selvan, and the online publication Jom.

This action was prompted by several articles and social media posts alleging irregularities concerning the rental of two black-and-white bungalows on Ridout Road by Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan.

The directives were in response to claims made by both parties regarding the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) alleged awarding of renovation contracts to Livspace due to the CEO’s relation to Mr Shanmugam. The Ministry categorically dismissed these claims as false.

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Next, even claiming Singaporean’s dream of the 5Cs will be POFMAed!

Singaporeans only want fulfillment, meaning and purpose.

As known POKMA Law is Singapore PAP Law used by Singapore PAP government Ministers to fix the opposition and those Singaporeans who vote for opposition parties in order to gain full control of the Parliament, eliminating those who are not happy with Singapore PAP government and spread negative comments about Singapore PAP government.

Dear PAP, what would you do without POFMA? You’ll have to answer questions according to facts not your fairy tales.

My reading skills must need improvement as what KJ said has just been confirmed by a govt agency. KJ said the NIRC was put into long term funds, govt. says it is for topping up long term funds. KJ did not say the long term funds were locked in. So what is the reason for the POFMA? How many of us accept the Ridout Road explanation by the govt.? It will mean we failed in our maths. and economics. The POFMA usage is showing children in the govt. making adults’ decision . It sticks out in an ageing population.

in my point of view, our ridout mini stars are among the humbles.
for they live in a properties valued far below SGD 1.00 psf
to be precise:
SGD 26,500 / 249,371 sqft = SGD 0.11 psf
how humble!!!

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The whole objective of POFMA seems to hide secrets, dispatch falsehoods to population who have a direct interest for the well being of SG and NOT to the political bastards , refute unofficial facts, and to BLIND Sheegaporeans – judging from the many instances of POFMA issueances.

I say..he say…

What an intelligent debate, from “leaders” of a country.
Debating with an individual.
Then making a statement without explaining.

Sure.. I can make statements too… its as easy as cut & paste.

PAP… you choose to be dense and opaque…
that is your choice.

The voters also have choices.

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