Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Dear SM Goh,

Todayonline, 5th April, 2011 reported that you ridiculed farmers in less developed countries that they have no understanding about quality of life. It is embarrassing that a senior statesman like yourself has such a narrow vision of quality of life. What kind of message do you intend to give to the younger generation? It also insults people like us who depend on land and nature for survival.

Your definition of quality of life seem to be amassing money to a degree that exceeds sanity and morality. Please pause and think that 99.9% of the population on earth does not have the privilege like yourself to collect a salary of $3.8 million, plus your pension, plus bonus payment, plus director’s fees, etc. Does it imply that most of us lack any meaningful quality of life?

I live a simple and comfortable retired life with my wife for less than S$1,200 a month* or what you made in less than an hour. We built our own modest 1,500 sq feet house in Sechelt, Canada for less than the price of a 4 room HDB flat. It has a view that rivals the best in Singapore. I do fishing, crab trapping, picking wild berries, attending to my fruit trees and some vegetables. We do all our house chores like marketing, cooking, washing and keeping the house clean and tidy without any maid or outside help. You may call it “low quality of life” but we enjoy ourselves tremendously and found true happiness in what we do. There is no shame in using our hands. In fact we are proud that, in our mid sixties, we are able to live independently and survive happily largely on nature. It may be something rich people like yourself think otherwise.

To verify and lend creditability to my story, I challenge you to send reporters and spend a week living in my house and write a report of their stay. One of the reporters can be from Straits Times and the other must be from a neutral news media.

I am willing to put S $10,000 in trust with a reputable law firm to reimburse the two reporters for their cost of travel if they find what I said not to be true. However, you should also put up S$10,000 to reimburse those people you have insulted who live on nature. I will donate this amount to a charity organization.

The S$10,000 is a huge amount for a retiree like me. On the other hand, S$10,000 is definitely peanuts for you. You make that in less time than going to the bathroom. Sir, please put money where your mouth is and prove me wrong.

Looking forward to your early reply.

Yours Respectfully,

Cheong Wing Lee
Sechelt, B.C

* Cost of living breakdown per month:: Groceries $400, travel and petrol $100, sinking fund $100, utilities (gas, electricity, water) $40, TV cable $75, fishing and crab license $5, general expenses $300 to 400. (No mortgage or car payments)


  1. Now let's see if you the SM got balls or he is just all talk and no guts as usual. BTW Mr Cheong we are still waiting for our Swiss Standard of living, but have just realised that he was only refering to the men in white.

    Good one Mr Cheong

  2. I salute you Mr Cheong. It is very sad that the ruling elite are sending such signals to the younger generation of Singaporeans so much so they scorned those who lived in rural areas in the neighbouring countires. This translated to how Singaporeans treated their Foreign Domestic Servants whom they called 'maids" are are most of them came from the rural regions of Indonesia, Thailand, Mynamar or Philippines.

  3. Mr. Cheong - Thank You.
    There is still a level of fear for those still living in Singapore to say it as it is.

  4. Mr Cheong, your challenge to SM is invalid because Canada is not a 'less developed' country. A farmer from Ethiopia, for example, would qualify to pose such an open letter. But then again, I wonder if such a person would be as contented and happy as you are?

  5. As much as I believe SM Goh is trying to push Singaporeans towards excellence in many areas, I find it hard to disagree with you that he is sending out a misguided signal that quality of life is defined in the way he insinuates.

    Unfortunately for us but fortunately for the economy, generations preceding us have also developed this similar mindset about the quality of life. I am guilty of pursuing what the average Singaporean perceives as luxuries in life, but I dare say I would most likely enjoy your way of life.

    I salute your courage in the challenge, and I hope my support, as well as others', will spur you to make a far greater impact than just issuing this challenge :)

  6. 10000$ is only 1/6 of a peanut btw to the men in white or actually to his wife's point, i think to him is even less.

  7. Despite your nice effort to defend the farmer in less developed country, i think you belong to a different class of farmer - the type in developed country (Regardless of how low your income is).

    You have to quote apple to apple.

    Despite my unhappiness with PAP policy, this article quote Mr Goh's word out of context.

    Doesn't work so well for me. If i am Mr Goh, i will be gracious enough not to reply you.

    I like one fair response to you
    "Alamak bros....SM Goh was referring to those farmers who only got 1 or
    2 teeth left in their mouth......youuuuuu are the different type of
    farmer are the type of farmer who go for yearly
    dentist check-up (along with SM Goh) at Wisma
    Atria.....LOL.....LOL...extract 1 tooth may cost up to 20K
    how to compare? "

  8. Without farmers, GCT will have no food to eat. Simple as that.

  9. There is a misplaced perception that 'quality of life' is measure by the amount of material goods and comfort ones owned. Unfortunately, many spent years walking the wrong path to achieve materials wealth only to be disappointed that it does not make them happier or better quality of life. This is especially so in Singapore where you measure success with the number of zero in your bank account , the number of houses you owned and number of overseas holiday you have in a year.