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#43: Is there enough pork in this year's Budget?

As you might have noticed, this issue is coming to you a day late; I was absolutely snowed under with work last night and ended up sleeping only a couple of hours before having to catch an early flight to Kuala Lumpur this morning. It’s been a long day, but I’m determined not to miss this week, so here we go!

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Is this an election Budget?

This past week Finance Minister and likely PM-in-waiting Heng Swee Keat delivered the Budget. All eyes were on the goodies; with so many people speculating that there’ll be an election in 2019, it was expected that this Budget would be pretty generous. And it kind of was: there were details of the Merdeka Generation package (to follow the Pioneer Generation package that preceded the last general election), as well as announcement of a Bicentennial Bonus. Some observers said that it looked like an election budget, but others were not so sure. In fact, the articles I’ve seen seem to be coming down on the side of it not being an election year budget after all.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to say about the Budget. Some feel that it’s just same ol’ same ol’, while others say it was a missed opportunity to tackle urgent issues of ageing and caregiving. In this (paywalled) op-ed Teo You Yenn argues for a “unified approach to healthcare” rather than one-off packages like the Pioneer or Merdeka Generation. Donald Low points out how unhealthy it is for us to never talk about wealth taxes.

(In other politics/election-related news, I’m going to eat my words from a previous issue because it turns out that Ben Pwee is joining the Singapore Democratic Party rather than Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party.)

That’s a damned expensive Skype call

Jolovan Wham’s been slapped with a S$3,200 fine for organising an “illegal assembly” (i.e. the indoor forum to which Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong Skyped in) and refusing to sign his statement to the police. He’s appealing the sentence, but if it comes down to it he’s choosing a stint in jail rather than paying the fine.

Got some more…

What the heck is up with Mikhy Farrera-Brochez? He’s leaked more personal data of people living with HIV, this time sending a list of names of HIV+ individuals, including himself, scheduled for medical check-ups in prison to some government agencies and media organisations. Question: how did he get this list?

Ben Davies, the first Singaporean to sign a contract with a top English football club, is now officially an NS defaulter. Oh well, so is Kevin Kwan, and we were all over Crazy Rich Asians once it made the big time anyway.

Someone discovered that there are cameras in Singapore Airlines’ inflight entertainment systems. That’s not good.

As I mentioned in the last issue, I spent last weekend at the FORSEA Democracy Festival. During a panel discussion, I brought up the need for political education in Singapore.

About the neighbours…

Since it seems like there’s election buzz all over the place, let’s take a look this week at the upcoming Thai elections—it’s been a long time coming, but is probably not going to be very fair.