Singaporeans, This Is It! This Is How Our Government Takes Our Money

Dear Singaporeans,

Have you been feeling that you don’t seem to be earning as much as you had been a few years ago? Have you been feeling that the value of your money seems to have lessened? Do you actually feel your finances are tighter and it’s harder to live on, even as it seems your salaries are increasing?

Do you sometimes get angry with the government but feel that you should perhaps not, because you do not want to wrong the government? Sometimes, you look around and Singapore looks like the perfect place to be – one of the best infrastructures around and the world’s highest GDP per capita! Why should we be discontented? We should learn to be happy?

Survey after survey shows that we are the world’s most unhappy people, so much so that we’ve become the people with the least ability to show emotions in the world. Why? We’ve learn to suppress our anger. We’ve learnt to suppress our unhappiness. We feel that there’s nothing we can do to change things because we cannot demonstrate, because we cannot speak up. And so, we’ve learnt to suppress our inner feelings, and our inner needs.

And we try not to blame the government – maybe it’s us. Maybe we need to learn to be happy. How can the government do any wrong, when it’s ranked one of the world’s least corrupt governments, you think?

But Singaporeans, you are right. But even if the government is corrupt, they’ve managed to effectively creat institutions to move their money around legally. So much so, that we’ve bought into it and we believe in their tales – the tales they’ve conjured to tell us why we need to privatized our public services so that we can become more efficient and competitive, and the tales they’ve conjured to tell us how without them, we won’t be where we are.

Well, look at us now, we are where we are because of them – manipulated, unhappy and unable to fight for ourselves – because of them.

Today, you will get all the facts you need to know about how they’ve done it to us. Today, know that you do not need to feel guilty anymore. No, you are not being angry with the government for nothing. They have been making use of us. It’s time you know how they are doing it, and it’s time we do something about it, together.

*****

One of the things that our government keep telling us is this – that they wouldn’t want to increase our personal income taxes because we wouldn’t be willing to pay. But is this the truth? The personal income tax is just one instruments they’ve kept stable. Do you know why they do it? The income tax is one of the most compared tools in the world, internationally. It garners a lot of attention, when it comes to global comparisons. So, this is one thing they do not want to touch, lest people notice what they are trying to do. So, they’ve created other localized instruments which only Singapore has, and they’ve kept changing how much we pay to these instruments. Without regular international comparisons to highlight these changes, the increases we’ve paid to these instruments go unnoticed, and we don’t realized that we’ve been had. Well, read on.

If you look at the growth in our real wages (Figure 1), you will see that in the last 4 years, our wages have grown substantially slower since 2001. Not only that, overall, our wages have actually dropped over the last 4 years! Well, but then, you might argue, but the economy has been doing badly, so perhaps that’s why our wages have stagnated. Well, look on at the other graphs below. Where the money is going back to the government, they’ve only increased over the past 4 years. If indeed the economy was bad, the government has not hesitated to keep taking ever more money from us. Also, Singapore grew by 14.5% in 2010, yet our real incomes actually dropped by 0.8% in the following year. Does this make sense?

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Figure 1: Real Basic Wage Change
Source: Ministry of Manpower – Income

Also, according to the Global MetroMonitor 2011, Singapore registered the lowest income growth rate among 200 countries. In fact, we registered a negative growth, of -8.9%.

If you look at the number of Singaporeans who earn less than $1,000 in Singapore, this number has kept increasing since 2001. In fact, you can see from Figure 2, that between 2005 and 2007, there was actually a steep rise in the increase in the number of Singaporeans earning less than $1,000.

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Figure 2: Number of CPF Members Earning Less Than $1,000
Source: CPF Board

But you might then say, but you would have to compare this increase with the total number of workers, shouldn’t you? I did – refer to Figure 3 – which made it even more shocking. Before 2005, there were less than 17% of Singaporean workers earning less than $1,000. Yet, after 2005, the number of Singaporeans earning less than $1,000 has increased and has never gone down to below 17% of the Singaporean workers. Firstly, why is there an increase when Singapore is getting richer? Why is it that Singapore is getting richer, but the number and proportion of poor has actually increased? Also, the increase in the number and proportion of workers earning less than $1,000 occurred from 2005, which is also the year that there was a corresponding increase in a jump in the number of foreigners coming into Singapore. Now, I’ve mentioned many times that this in itself – the increase in foreigners – isn’t the issue. The issue is that the government would have very well anticipated this, but has chosen not to put any policy in place to prevent the wages of Singaporeans from being depressed, but have actually allowed it to happen! Well, then, you might say that the wages of workers are affected by the demand and supply of the market, and it’s not something that the government can do, like the government has been saying. I’ll explain later on why this isn’t the case, and how it’s what the government is saying, to shift the responsibility away from them.

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Figure 3: % of CPF Members Earning Less Than $1,000
Source: CPF Board

So, now that I’ve established that since 2008, our wages have on the overall decreased and since 2005, there are more and more people who earn less than $1,000 in Singapore, what else? If you look at our inflation figures since 2007 (Figure 4), they have been kept almost constant at above 2005, except for 2009. In fact, inflation grew at 6.6% in 2008 and 5.2% in 2011. So, you can see that, our real wages have decreased – even as it seems that our actual wages are increasing, we can actually afford to buy lesser things. But do you know that the reason why our real earnings have decreased and prices are increasing is because of the government?

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Figure 4: Inflation Rate
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

Actually, the highest increases in the prices of goods is due to two main factors – housing and transportation (Figure 5). More than 85% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats. The government has control over these prices. For transportation, the government of course has control as well. I will zoom in onto one thing – COE.

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Figure 5: Consumer Price Index
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

If you look at the COE premium (I’ve chosen to look at the Open Category), the COE premium has increased steeply since 2010 (Figure 6).

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Figure 6: COE Premium
Source: Land Transport Authority

In fact, in 2010 (Figure 7), there was a more than 200% increase in the COE premium – a two-fold increase!

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Figure 7: % Change in COE Premium
Source: Land Transport Authority

And if you look at the housing price index (Figure 8), there was a sharp increase in the prices of residential homes from 2007, and except for a slight dip in 2008, has continued unabated.

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Figure 8: Housing Price Index
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

The reason why inflation has been so high is due mainly to high housing and transportation costs – for both of these, the government is in control of the price increases. The government could have moderated the prices, but why didn’t they? I don’t have to bring out past articles but you would have read about the promises that the government had kept making over the past few years to slow down the increase in housing prices, none of which have actually materialized. In fact, just two days ago, we’ve read about how the am executive condominium, which is public subsidized housing, has been sold for $2 million – all this while our real wages have dropped and while there is a larger and larger pool of Singaporeans earning less than $1,000.

What this obviously shows is that our income inequality has increased as well. If you look at the Gini Coefficient, which measures the income inequality, the income inequality in Singapore has been increasing year after year (Figure 9). Yet, we continue to hear how Singapore is the richest country in the world – sure, for the rich. We are now home to the highest proportion of millionaires in the world. At the same time, we’ve become one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

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Figure 9: Gini Coefficient
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

But then, you say – well, look here, I’m sure the government is doing something to help Singaporeans right? I mean, our taxes haven’t increased. And the government is giving money back to us on an ad-hoc basis. For example, even if it wasn’t real money, the government had wanted to give our NS men vouchers which they can only use at Safra. Nevermind that Safra belongs to the government, so the government gets to keep the money among themselves, but they are trying to do something, right? Right?

Well, let me share more and you can decide what you want to think. As I had said, the government doesn’t want to increase taxes because it would be too obvious – you want to take money from the people in as discreetly a manner as you can. So, since 2004, the amount of money that we need to set aside for the Medisave Required Amount has been increasing constantly (Figure 10), even as even inflation has not increased by so much!

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Figure 10: Medisave Required Amount
Source: CPF Board

If you look at the increase in the Medisave Required Amount, since 2008, the increased has average at over 20%. (Figure 11) Inflation would have averaged at less than 5%. What’s more, our wages have actually decreased over the same period! If indeed our wages would have dropped due to global economic fluctuations, why did the government continue to take money from us for the Medisave Required Amount, without reducing the amount or proportionate increase? The question you have to ask is – do they care? At the same time, the latest increase is $6,500! How many more years would the lower wage workers have to work before they are able to attain this minimum amount required before they can take their Medisave out? And if our real wages have actually decreased, why does the government still expect to fork our money to pay for Medisave, and not adjust to allow us to also manage for ourselves?

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Figure 11: % Change in Medisave Required Amount
Source: CPF Board

Let me go on to talk about CPF. The CPF amounts to the other bulk of our money, which the government takes. For personal income taxes, the government taxes between 0% to 20% of our income, depending on our income range. For CPF, for workers below 35 years of age, we are expected to pay 20% of our incomes into CPF. If you look at Figure 12, the amount of CPF contributions that we are contributing on a yearly basis (green line) has been increasing. From 2006, the overall monies collected by CPF (red line) has also been increasing at a higher rate. Yet, how much is returned to us? The amount of withdrawals made by Singaporeans have actually decreased (look at the orange line).

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Figure 12: CPF Balance, Contributions and Withdrawals
Source: CPF Board

If this is not obvious enough, look at the Figure 13. Here, you will see with complete clarity how even as we put in more and more into the CPF Board, we are getting lesser and lesser back. Why do you think the government has been coming out with all sorts of ways to keep our money inside, by telling us that we can only withdraw at a later age, and that they’ve come out with some great plan to release our money back to us in a more sustainable way? All this time, they’ve come out with reasons to tell us that they are creating new schemes so as to better our lives – what does the real statistics show? We are letting lesser back. Yet, how can this be? How can this be when there are more and more people growing old, and requiring their money from CPF. Well, how can this be? What does the government want the money for? For themselves?

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Figure 13: CPF Contributions and Withdrawals
Source: CPF Board

As I’ve explained before, the government invests our CPF monies in the government bonds, which they say earn 1.55%. They say they will be nice and top up for our CPF returns, by giving us back 2.5% interest for our Ordinary Account, and 4% on our Special and Medisave Accounts. Do you know that the government doesn’t want to say explicitly but they’ve gone through a very convoluted way to explain that our CPF monies, which is invested in the government bonds, is actually then invested in Temasek Holdings and GIC? The annualized returns for Temasek Holdings and GIC is 17% and 6.8% respectively. Yet, the government bonds are only earning 1.55%? Shouldn’t the government bonds be earning a similar 17% or 6.8% interest? Then if that is the case, shouldn’t our CPF interest rate be at a similar range of 17% and 6.8% as well?

But, of course, the government has been saying how we should set aside money for the reserves so that we would have enough in the event that Singapore collapses. Sure, maybe that’s why they had needed to allow our wages to be depressed, and increase the prices of housing and transportation. And if we buy into what they say, we should bite the bullet and accept that our real wages are decreasing and that prices have to go up. You see, they’ve allowed our actual wages to increase, but they’ve also created a tight system of ensuring that the prices of housing and transportation increase at a faster rate, so that they can recoup the money they have given to us for our actual wage increase, and then more. Smart, eh?

If you look at the government revenue, it has been generally increasing (Figure 14). The government expenditure has also been increasing, but at a slower rate over the past few years. Also, there is always a surplus so that they money can be channelled back to the reserves. What I don’t understand is if the government has a surplus, why doesn’t the government try to direct some back, so that we can try to provide more for the poor and needy – this is considering that our surplus is increasing which is channeled into the reserves, and the reserves are also enriched from the high returns from Temasek and GIC?

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Figure 14: Government Revenue and Expenditure
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

Let’s not even talk about the poor and needy! Let’s talk about the common Singaporean. So, they’ve reduced our wages and they’ve increased the amount we need to pay into the Medisave Required Amount right? But do you know that as our health expenditure has been increasing over the past few years (decades in fact), we are made to foot even more of our own bill, while the government continues to decrease the proportion that they pay for the healthcare bills. If you look at Figure 15, healthcare expenditure has increased by a lot, especially in the last two decades preceding this, yet, the increase in spending is borne by Singaporeans. You can also see in Figure 16 that the proportion of government expenditure has been ever decreasing since the inception of modern Singapore. Is this right?

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Figure 15: Trends in National Healthcare Expenditure
Source: Shifting the burden of health care finance: a case study of public–private partnership in Singapore. M.-K. Lim/Health Policy 69 (2004) 83–92

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Figure 16: Healthcare Expenditure
Source: Shifting the burden of health care finance: a case study of public–private partnership in Singapore. M.-K. Lim/Health Policy 69 (2004) 83–92

And if you look at the World Health Statistics 2012 from the World Health Organisation, the general government expenditure on health as % of total expenditure on health has dropped from 51.4% in 2000 to 31.4% in 2009, and the Private expenditure on health as % of total expenditure on health has actually increased from 48.6% to 63.9%, which means we are paying more from our own pockets.

This, when our wages are decreasing and when the government keeps collecting from us for our Medisave Required Amount. And this, when the government also takes from us for other public services, such as transportation. This, when there are a larger pool of low-paid workers. This, when the government doesn’t return all the interests they’ve earned from our CPF – our money. Now, where is the government taking all this money to? Because they need that much money for? If not for us, then for who? For themselves? For our future generations?

If you look at our reserves, we would have anything from $600 billion to even $900 billion or more in our reserves. The government expenditure in 2011 is $35 billion. Which means with our reserves, we can go on for the next 10, 15 or 20 or even more years. So, meanwhile, while we take care of our future generations, the current crop of Singaporeans should suffer?

And I’m talking specifically about the Singaporeans now, whose wages have decreased and who are expected to pay higher and higher prices, which is in full control by the government.

As I’ve said above, our wages are determined by the government. Why do I say that? The government employs more than 100,000 Singaporeans in the civil service. Additionally, Temasek Holdings and GIC are both owned by the government and they in turn owns the majority of the richest Singapore companies in Singapore. If you look at the top 17 richest Singapore companies, 85% to 90% of them are owned by Temasek, and thus by the government. They employ thousands and thousands of Singaporeans.

The government gets to determined how much they are paid. Then, the question is, would the government want to do this – pay higher wages? This will eat into their profits.

Do you know that the profit margin of Temasek has grown by 17% since inception – largely more than 10% every year (Figure 17)?

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Figure 17: Temasek Holdings’ Profit Margins
Source: Temasek Review 2012

Do you also know that the returns for GIC has also been growing and growing since 1985 (Figure 18)?

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Figure 18: GIC Returns
Source: GIC Report 2011-2012

And if you look at the companies owned by Temasek and their performance, you will see how their revenue and profits have kept increasing. For convenience, I’ve illustrated the profits for Singtel (Figure 19), Capitaland (Figure 20) and our favourite, SMRT (Figure 21) here.

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Figure 19: Singtel Revenue and Net Profits
Source: Singtel

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Figure 20: Capitaland Revenue and Net Profits
Source: Capitaland

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Figure 21: SMRT Revenue and Net Profits
Source: SMRT

What’s interesting is this – can you see that for Singtel and Capitaland, before 2001, Singtel’s profits have remained stagnant while for Capitaland, it was a few years of fluctuating growth which also dipped into the negative. This also coincided with when the amount of CPF monies withdrawn started dropping as well.

*****

Now, if you continue to dig out even more statistics, you will be able to piece together a complete picture of how the Singapore government is able to create an institutionalised and legalized system to channel our money to themselves. The current Aim and Aljunied GRC saga is one of them.

These are my questions:

Why has the government chosen to take the money away from the people and not return more to the people? The amount of CPF monies we are withdrawing has been decreasing. The proportion that the government is forking out for healthcare expenditure has been decreasing. At the same time, our real wages are decreasing and we are made to pay more for housing, transport, Medisave etc – all of which are within the government’s means to regulate. Yet, the government continues to allow the wages of Singaporeans to be depressed, such that there is a larger group of low-income earners, as compared to a decade ago and refuses to implement a minimum wage. All this while the country is now the richest in the world and has the highest concentration of millionaires in the world.

Why is this so? Is it because the government wants our Singapore companies to do well, so it looks like Singapore is doing well, and this will make Singapore attractive to investors? Is this so? Is that why the government has channelled money away from us and into the businesses, to remain attractive? How then is the money coming back to us? The profits from these Singapore companies actually go back to the shareholders. And even if they go back to Temasek and GIC, they aren’t returned back to us. They compute the interest rate of our CPF according to the bonds, which earn a misery interest rate, while they refuse to tell us what the actual interest rates are – 17% from Temasek and 6.8% from GIC. They continue to ask us to pay more for the Medisave Required Amount, even if they could increase the interest returned by just a bit to top up the amount. At the same time, they’ve created systems which prevents us from withdrawing from our CPF, such that the withdrawals have actually reduced, even if there are more and more older Singaporeans who would actually need to withdraw their money. This, when the heads of these Singapore companies earn millions of dollars while there continue to be more and more older Singaporeans working at our food centers as cleaners because while they continue to earn a low income and do not see their incomes grow, and while they are not able to take their money out from CPF, this is all they have – to continue working themselves out just to make ends meet and to pay for ever increasing healthcare costs, which they have to pay from their own pockets, because the government refuses to pay more.

Which is why I cannot convince myself that the government is doing this for Singaporeans. If they are, why are they allowing Singapore to be more and more unequal? Why are they allowing Singaporeans to be cheapened? Why do they let some Singaporeans suffer while those aligned to them continue to reap benefits in these Singapore companies? Do you know that when the multi-national companies come to Singapore, they continue to adopt the rights-based policies that their headquarters adopt as well? This means that they will pay their workers fair wages and treat their workers right. Do you know that even though women who are foreigners give birth in Singapore are not given maternity leave as mandated by the Singapore law, some of the foreign companies would still give the mothers maternity leave, and some by 6 or 8 months or more, much longer than what is given to Singaporean mothers! These companies don’t have to do this in Singapore, where they do not have to treat their workers right. But they continue to do so, because its basic human dignity and principle to do so.

Yet, our government does not have the basic decency to treat even their own Singaporeans right. Do you know why there are low taxes? Do you know why the CPF contribution rates for employers were decreased and is still taking such a long time to return to the rate of 20% (Figure 22)? This isn’t done because we need to remain attractive to foreign investors. This is done to ensure that our Singapore companies owned by the government can continue to profit. The multi-national companies which come will dispense more to their workers than what is required – they are willing to reduce their profits because they know what will make their workers happy and what will make their workers committed. They are willing to do what is right.

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Figure 22: Employer and Employee CPF Contributions
Source: CPF Board
Source: CPF Trends and Highlights

The Singapore government doesn’t care. And that’s why we are so unhappy and that’s why we remain uncommitted to their work. Which begs the question – don’t they think about the long term future of Singapore? You want to ensure that your workers are happy and committed, and thinking individuals, so that they have a stake in this country, and they will want to work with you to ensure the success of Singapore. But this is not what the government wants. They want to make money – more and more money for themselves. This is what I’ve come to realize.

If you look at the charts above, you can tell that over the past decade, there were at least two points where the government has moved to profit over the people. One is around the year 2000 where suddenly, the Singapore companies were able to increase their profits by leaps and bounds, and where we were made to withdraw less from our CPF. The second was in the mid-2000s, where wages were beginning to depress, where there was an increase of low wage workers, and where prices of goods and services started increasing. This didn’t all happen by chance, or by some global interference. The government planned for this to happen. The government made this happen to increase their coffers. I couldn’t look at the statistics beyond 2000, so I couldn’t have a better sense of their strategy.

Over the past one year, anyone can see that they haven’t let up. In fact, they’ve been more aggressive and defiant in their attitudes towards Singaporeans. These past few weeks have only become even more dramatic – the clamping down of peaceful demonstrations labelled strikes, even suggesting to increase our bus fares and the Aim and Aljunied GRC saga. This is only the start of more things that will unravel. The government is out of control. They’ve gotten too much power and money into their heads that they’ve forgotten even basic courtesy and have started talking down to us with even less fear. At the same time, their collusion with money have obviously taken their sense of planning away from them, and we’ve been able to see more and more of the truths behind what they are really doing.

It is no wonder that people from different sectors are starting to open up on their criticism on the government. They know that if PAP fails, they need to form an alliance with the other political parties. Will PAP fail, you ask? I don’t know. But what I do know is that at this point, they are trying to earn as much as they can, so that in the event that they do lose control, they have enough to scot off with. The evidence is in the statistics. Unless PAP comes out and tell us their reason behind making so much money, and at the same time, repressing and decreasing the wages of Singaporeans, yet reducing what they need to pay for us – for basic essentials – and expect us to pay more, I cannot find a suitable reason as to why PAP is making all this money while neglecting the rights of Singaporeans

Singaporeans, it is not by chance or by your own inner discontent that you are unhappy and that you repress your emotions. You do so because you feel powerless to act. You do so because you feel that the government is walking all over you, and you feel that you can do nothing about it. You feel that since you cannot speak up or demonstrate peacefully, you choose to resign to what you think is your fate.

This is not true. What we should do now is to start joining the other political parties, to make ourselves heard, and to contribute to them. If you think you are someone who can lead and someone who can plan and strategize for Singapore, stand up and join the other parties, so that as a whole, we can form a credible team to run Singapore. The reason why the other parties haven’t been able to form a strong team yet isn’t because of the lack of capable people in Singapore. Rather, it’s because the capable people hasn’t come out yet. But now is the time. We are going into the new era and we have a very good chance of making things right.

The French Revolution began because the people were unhappy with their monarchy, which had all the power and only the rich benefitted. This was why the poor and working class rose up against them. The people in the Nordic countries were poor in the 17th century and because of that, they started to advocate for change, and for equality. This is why the Nordic countries are such egalitarian people, who have equality enshrined in their governing principles.

In Singapore, at this current point of time, because of the depression of our wages and the increase in the cost of living, there is a new group of working class Singaporeans who have developed, who feel disfranchised with the system. At the same time, there is a group of middle income Singaporeans who feel for the plight of these people. At some point, when you have reached a standard of living, you learn to empathize and feel for the people who are still trying to get there. There’s a group of people who are very unhappy that we are not able to have the basic rights as a decent human being, and who are beginning to realize that they need to get their rights back.

The time is now. Singaporeans, we need to act and we need to move. We need to show them and let them know that we are people who have rights, who want to be treated with respect and equality, and who are people who deserve to have the ability to think, feel and be happy. Our rights to be is not dependent on how much money they want to make, or the power they want to hold. We need to stand up for our rights and let them know it’s time – it’s time for them to listen, and listen carefully. For this is the time of the people.

Happy New Year and Happy 2013, Singaporeans. It is a new year and a new beginning. What would you do? Would you stand up and protect your rights, and the rights of your children and family?

20 comments

  1. Kojak Bt

    Bro, it’s a good article with your data analysis, but it’s a bit too long. You will lose readers after reading awhile. Can I suggest you break this up into few articles so as to focus on 1 matter at a time? (can be parts of a series). Can help you publish in TRE. Thx!

    • ekku_chun

      Too true. I read until I couldn’t take it anymore and scrolled all the way down, only to realise that I’m already 2/3 done.

      It’s very informative though, thanks.

    • Yeo

      I gave up after reading two paras. It is way too lengthy. Breaking it up is a good, but I would like to add this. At the end of it, give a summary for re-kept and memorization.

  2. herdeep

    wonder why the Spore Govt does not employ these number crunchers in Tumasek n GIC where these boffins can increase the returns and maybe maybe the cost spiral for the citizens can be held back

  3. Eddie Teo

    Excellent article, putting facts and figures into long-term beliefs.

    Hard to say it would change anything though, there are many who are very comfortable with their lives to do anything.

  4. Allan Yam

    I agree with the first comment. Your post is excellent but too long and not sectioned very well. It’s like subprime mortgages, they were so complex that to explain how much of a scam they were, few people had the appetite to understand them, hence they were conned. Similarly the PAP web of lies is so complete that one needs to simplify each component for the average brain-washed Singaporean to understand. Keep up the good fight against tyranny.

  5. Silvester

    To let more Singaporeans know about this, I suggest you publish in the Online Citizen or TRE ,,,,,but BREAK them into 4 PARTS for comprehensive understanding…..
    Keep up the good work…..
    Continue to hammer the HEART TRUTH to Singaporeans…

  6. Joline

    Folks don’t be so lazy. The author obviously put a huge amount of effort to research and write this piece. The least you can do is take the time to read it through to the end. My only regret is the small number of comments and hence readership. I agree with one commenter that this should go to Online Citizen or Temasek Review for republication. It’s too important to languish here.

    • silverabbit

      Only small number of readership comments…. because many simply give up after reading half way …. too long…. Break them up into small parts, and release them on weekly basis.

  7. I Am Not Government

    I couldnt read on even after 1/4 of this. For a minute we should pause and think.

    Singapore’s economic policies have been very successful in lifting the country from a small nation with an uneducated workforce and no natural resources, to one where many economists would agree that its policies are superior and indeed copied by governments around the world. Why would the government go through so much trouble to create jobs for Singaporeans if they are just after our money? They could have run Singapore just like how the Burmese government and other outright corrupt countries have been doing.

    It is easy to link mistakes that the government has made, or highlight areas that the government may have underperformed (especially if you are an angry citizen), and accuse that the government is just out to make our lives miserable. But understand that mistakes are bound to happen for any government (honest mistakes with no evil intentions) and that if you have a blogger thats angry enough to look for these mistakes, you will easily read stories of how the government is cheating your money.

    For example, our ERP system, CPF and GST have often been criticised as scams to get us to pay more and fill the government’s pockets. But you cant deny that there are indeed legitimate reasons for these policies.

    In terms of how angry Singaporeans are, and why we choose to keep quiet although we are clearly getting more unhappy with our lives…..do you seriously think we are so angry that we will rebel like people living in the middle east or europe? When Singaporeans have jobs, and we have a system of meritocracy (though i agree its not perfect) that rewards hard work and motivated people who are willing to improve themselves, why would people care so much about voicing their concerns?

    How many Singaporeans would admit that its because they didnt do well in school, or didnt work hard enough, or perhaps didnt even care about improving themselves so that they can compete with others? I certainly have seen many like that including myself. So are we really in the position to complain when life gets tough due to foreign competition and low pay? Issit the government thats really out to destroy our lives ? or are they in fact the poor victims of increasing global competition? Look, workers in developed and rich countries who are enjoying good benefits and welfare from the government, they hate cheap foreign talent too. But they are lucky to have a big economy, that perhaps is self sustainable.

    Instead of simply blaming the government and looking at the minute statistics and details of our small economy, people should perhaps try to understand the tracherous conditions that Singapore faces from a global perspective.

    P.S : I’m just a ordinary citizen. Not affliliated with the government and works in the private sector. Trust me.

    • My Right to Love

      Hi I Am Not Government,

      You brought out a few issues. I will address a few of them.

      1) I agree with you that the state of Singapore is very good. Every time I walk along Orchard Road, I ask myself this question – is it really that bad in Singapore? Why are people unhappy? Everything looks well, what’s there to be unhappy about? In fact, Singapore is ranked 6th by The Economist Unit in terms of where in the world is the best place to be born, after Switzerland and the Nordic Countries. But I will refer to history – where changes have taken place around the world and in history, change occurred primarily because of this – inequalities in society, and income inequality.

      The fundamental reason why Singaporeans are unhappy is this – there is unequal distribution. But why be unhappy? Why can’t we learn to be contended. For me, my main concern is for three groups of people – the lower income groups, the elderly and the disabled. We need to ensure that the ‘disadvantaged’ in Singapore are not allowed to languish even as our economy grows. I will ask you this – do you not think our rich knows that they are taking advantage of the workers and earning off them? And if they do, should the government try to balance out the imbalance. I will address this in detail in further articles but fundamentally, as a society, how do we protect certain pockets of our people, as the economy continues to grow? By all means, the government should continue to make money because this is primarily the reason why the government is revered, but – how can we ensure that we let as few people fall off as possible?

      2) Currently, Singapore is being pulled apart by two ideologies. The question we have to ask is this – why is this happening? And how can we patch this rift? I will be addressing this in an upcoming article, but this will leave us with food for thought. This bipolar thinking isn’t imagined, and it is very real. It it is real, how can we have am accurate assessment of the viewpoints of those who feel that they are on one side or the other and how can the government find a balance to cater to both these groups? We could say – but the government is already finding a balance, but the people are saying you haven’t recognized them yet. Are the people right? Or is the government right? I can tell you this – I do not know. Why? Because we do not have an open discourse. It is not happening because we do not have a completely free media. This is an age-old argument, but this by itself isn’t the issue – the issue arises when communication isn’t clear and people do not understand one another. Misunderstandings will arise and we will come into the situation that Singapore is in now. Even the government doesn’t understand it’s people.

      There are other points I want to make. But I am going to run an errant now. Do look out for my upcoming articles because I will try to address the deeper issues that are affecting Singaporeans and Singapore now, so that we can appreciate in deeper ways the social complexities that underpins our decision making and beliefs.

      Roy

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  13. Joach Falken

    Author seems to have the perception that the “government” is a different entity from the state. The stateis basicallyy owned by the people, or rather is a joint entity they should be able to control, usually through votes.
    In western democraties, there is of course a distinction between state (the entity that actually collects taxes, pays teachers ect.), government (i.e. the institutions that operate the state) and the persons that form the government. But the role of the state is dominant. When many european nations ousted their monarchs around 1918, the property of the state remained its property, and the members of the government (including the king) retained their (much smaller) property, except for Russia, where almost all property was nationalized.
    I wouldn’t believe the Singapore “government” was PAP’s private property.
    Do you argue that certain government-related persons are channelling tomuch value out of the public property? Are top wages of these entities published?
    Anyway, it would be interesting to know how PAP is structured internally – could you also join PAP with some fellow-thinkers and try to be voted to its top or to become its local candidate in your constituciency? If not, i.e. if raising in ranks there is also linked to some meritocratic orocess, it is no wonder if the same persons apply thar system in their politics as well.
    More insight to PAP, please.

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