Is the Prime Minister seriously out of touch?

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In a Straits Times report, “PM: Let’s tackle cost fears together”, the prime minister was quoted as saying:

No need to buy branded bread. Bread is bread, rice is rice.

The report also said:

Consumers can also go for supermarket house brands, which are cheaper.

The PM seems to be saying that “non-branded” bread are cheaper. Perhaps he is right but if you think about it, when has “non-branded” bread been more expensive than “branded” ones?

The question is not whether “branded” breads are cheaper than “non-branded” bread. The issue here is that branded or not, prices of bread have increased – as it has with everything else.

This is confirmed by an earlier Straits Times report, titled “100 bakeries to raise bread prices by up to 20%”, which said:

Over 100 bakeries have indicated that they will be raising bread prices by up to 20 per cent, following a jump in flour prices.

The bakeries, many of them small family-run shops, are members of the Singapore Bakery and Confectionery Trade Association. It represents about a quarter of the estimated 400 bakeries here.

Three significant points here:

One, a quarter of the 400 bakeries here indicated that they would raise bread prices.

Two, they would raise it by up to 20%.

Three, “many of them are small family-run shops” – which would mean they produce non-branded bread and which would prove PM Lee’s assumption wrong. For even the small bakeries have raised their prices.

Now, of course I know the gist of what the PM said – which is that we all have to make adjustments in order to manage the spiraling inflation. (By the way, “spiraling” is a word the media seem to avoid using at all cost.)

The point I am trying to make is that the Prime Minister may be hopelessly out of touch with the masses. For how could he not know that flour prices have increased and that this affects all sorts of bakeries and both branded bread and non-branded bread.

The PM seem unable to understand what people are saying – which is that prices have increased and it is getting unbearable! We might not be able to afford ordinary, non-branded bread, let alone branded ones!

Here is a list of headlines in the past 6 months or so, with regards to food prices:

Oct 28: Singapore Raises Noodle Prices

Oct 30: 100 bakeries to raise bread prices by up to 20%

Nov 5, 2007: Grocery bills increase as prices for foodstuffs go up

Dec 20, 2007: Expect to pay more for food from next month

Jan 14, 2008: Prices of CNY goodies to go up

Feb 2, 2008: Vegetable prices rise

Now, will some highly-placed civil servants or minister please tell the PM to come down from his princely throne and stop chewing statistics?

Come down to the real world, for once, for goodness’ sake, for crying out loud!

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15 Responses

  1. What else can we say and what use if we do say, like what You said; our PM is so out of touch with his subjects! He may also be quite out of touch with reality.

  2. […] Daily on 5 February 2008 Singaporeans are fed, up with progress! – Looking For LaLaLand..: Is the Prime Minister seriously out of touch? – The Online Citizen: 5 Minutes With… Leong Sze Hian on rising inflation – HWZ: Singapore […]

  3. pssst…. he still thinks there’s cockles in mee siam!

  4. *sigh

    We have all been slowly relegated from restaurants to hawker centres, and now to our homes where we are to consume a mishmash of “house” brand products brought in from who knows where (probably somewhere in China).

  5. He probably know or do not know about all these ground level stuff. Basically, he dare not say that the economy is going to be shit soon. Another instance of saying the wrong things (which he does regularly) again will get another whipping from his old man.

    “No need to buy branded bread. Bread is bread, rice is rice.”

    There is always some quality issues with things that are cheaper. Essentially, he is saying that you cannot afford the expensive stuff, eat cheaper and lower your standard of living. Let’s the rich buy the expensive stuff.

    If the base material cost goes up, the price of every loaf of bread goes up. Price increases are unavoidable, but the increase should be moderate and within reach of the lower income group. In the first place, the budget of the lower income group has already catered for the bare essentials in their daily extistence. With all these price increases, their existing budget simply cannot be enough to live at the bare minimum level. And you have tons of red tape just to receive government assistance.

    Mr Lee, please ask your servant to buy the house brands for the food you eat. And one more thing. nobody sell mee siam with hum.

  6. camper,

    essentially his statements simply reinforce the frequently issued message that citizens have to take care of themselves first and not wait for govt assistance.

    I truly worry for those that are already cutting down on their food expenditure and still find house brands too expensive.

    Till a real solution comes along (something more than just a one off hongbao), the propaganda wheel will spin and spin. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/326992/1/.htm

  7. I think he knows inflation is getting higher, just that it would be politically dangerous for him to acknowledge it… right? If you were PM would you say “yes, bread prices all rising, you all go eat grass lah!”

  8. Firstly, the headline of the newspaper article clearly used the word… ‘cost FEARS’. That means he is saying that it’s a figment of your imagination – this thing called FEAR. It doesnt exist. Thus you see silly statements coming out to say.. our inflation is well below ‘International standards’ !!! What in the world is that? An International Inflation Standard? Oh come on ! Stop this BS.
    What this all means to the people is that you have no complaints worthy of his attention and he tells us to eat the cheapest brand/quality we can find i.e. substitute quality for absolute cost. (hmm go eat grass maybe?)
    They wont admit we are suffering High -inflation bcos they just gave themselves obscene salary increments.

  9. How do you really tackle cost fears together? How is it done? I thought only experts, popular and famous ppl are the ones who have the power to tackle anything, so how do ordinary ppl tackle these problems, we are not even a statistic, not even worthy of a voice. Maybe Xiaxue will be our savior! Save us please!

  10. pay cut for ministers and civil servants?

  11. mee siam mai hum mai hum mai hum mai hum mai hum my lovely lady hum……..
    Yeah sure The GST increase(too help the poor {rich}) last year is not inflationary. Minister pay is too low compared to private sector(lol) and longevity Scheme(scam) now reduced to 80yrs old 🙂 rofl.

  12. yah, please tell lee hs that we also don’t need million dollar numbskull minister who can’t come up with better solution to bring in money into singapore and choose the easy way out out by skining poor singaporean alive ( raise ERP charges & gantries, public transport fare, up daily essential stuff, increase S&C charges etc). piece of shit !!!

  13. A large number of Singaporean did not get to vote.. so he is not our official PM..

  14. ERP AND CAR POPULATION

    It’s quite amazing that they come up with all sorts of reason for more ERP grantries. To me this is like deceiving us because in the first place they allowed the vehicle population to increase and obviously we would hit the nail on the head soon enough , more traffic jams, less parking at shopping centers etc. It does not take one to have an MBA to tell you.It’s all about economic figures yes and they are caught in a bind. At the end of the day it’s always the people who have to bear the brunt of such short sighted policies.
    One of the very negative result of the expanded ERPs is the impact on business, transport companies, company delivery rounds etc.
    What I can’t understand is the ERP outside housing estates,it’s like scrapping the meat off bones!
    Anyway I’ve given up listening to them and most probably the coming budget won’t be much of a help too, we will still keep paying and paying for virtually everything. Any comments?

  15. Reminds me of Queen Marie Antoinette’s famous line.. “Let them eat cake”

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