Singaporeans, The Truth About Our Healthcare Financing, Retirement Funds and Money All Revealed! (Part 2)

I had written this article to show the real statistics as to how our finances in Singapore are being controlled and taken away from us. As I had mentioned in the first part of the article, I make no apologies to the critical tone of this article as the facts of the matter requires that I take a strong stance on this issue.

As I had also said in part 1, I will guide you through the charts, so that they will be easy to read and understand, so please take some time and come along with me. This article will only take about 10 to 15 minutes to read.

Part 1 of the article can be read here. I believe that if you could read this article from the top (from part 1), it would give you a fuller picture as to the financial circumstance of Singaporeans.

(3) Medisave Financing (Charts 19a to 22c)

In Chart 19a, you can see that the government had made us pay more and more into this thing called the Medisave Minimum Sum. According to the Central Provident Fund (CPF), “The Medisave Minimum Sum is the amount you need to retain in your Medisave Account, before any excess Medisave savings can be withdrawn.”

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Chart 19a: Central Provident Fund

And in Chart 19b, the government had made us pay more and more into this thing they call the Medisave Required Amount – “The Medisave Required Amount refers to the amount you need to set aside in your Medisave Account after meeting the CPF Minimum Sum requirement.”

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Chart 19b: Central Provident Fund

So, in Chart 19c, this is how much the government had made us pay more and more into this thing called the CPF Minimum Sum.

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Chart 19c: Central Provident Fund

Confused? Don’t worry. I am too. What you need to know is that, in all of these, we are made to pay more and more. Where is the government’s contributions, you ask (or lack thereof)? We will explore this in just a bit.

According to Dan Ariely, if people are given too many choices or too complex a structure to understand, this will put them off and they would be more likely to simply stick to not acting on their choices, or perhaps even not use something given to them. The Singapore government has used this psychology to good effect – make the schemes so complex that people would find it so difficult to understand that they would abide by it unquestionably, and to make the schemes so complex that people would be put off from accessing it, and thus the government would be able to save on their expenditure.

Do you also know that according to the Ministry of Health, Medisave and Medishield covers mainly hospitalisation and has limited coverage for outpatient treatment, such as when you visit a doctor. According to a study, “Private General Practitioners dominate Public Healthcare in Singapore, providing around 80% of consultations and acting as gatekeepers. They receive no government subsidies and dispense their own medicines, with patients paying the full cost.” Also, the ministry says that, “if you have insufficient funds in your Medisave, you can use the Medisave of your spouse, child and parent to pay for your treatment”. But what if the whole family is poor? Does the government care?

The next few charts (Charts 20a to 21b) will look complex but let me take you through them – it’s easy to understand.

In Chart 20a, look at the purple line. This is the inflation rate – you can see that this growth is the lowest in the chart.

The government had kept telling us that they have to increase the Medisave Minimum Sum, Medisave Required Amount and CPF Minimum Sum because of inflation, right?

But actually, whatever they are forcing us to pay is increasing by a lot more than inflation. The yellow line shows you the growth in Medisave Minimum Sum and the orange line shows you the growth in CPF Minimum Sum in the orange line. You can see that they are both increasing at a much faster rate than inflation, right?

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Chart 20a: Central Provident FundDepartment of Statistics Singapore Prices

In Chart 20b, again, the purple line represents the inflation rate. The orange line represents the change in Medisave Required Amount. You can see that the Medisave Required Amount is increasing by several times more than inflation rate!

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Chart 20b: Central Provident FundDepartment of Statistics Singapore Prices

The government wants us to think that they are increasing these CPF and Medisave minimum amounts because of inflation. But why do they need to increase these amounts by so much more than inflation?

What is it that they are not telling us? Or what is the real reason that they are increasing these amounts for?

What do they need this money for? Are we subsidising for the low healthcare costs of the rich medical tourists, on top of having to pay for our own healthcare bills? Or are they using the money for something else?

Now, compare this to our wages again.

In Chart 21a, the pink line is the growth rate of our wages. Again, you can see that the Medisave Minimum Sum and CPF Minimum Sum are both increasing at a much faster rate than our wages.

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Chart 21a: Central Provident FundMinistry of Manpower Singapore Income

So, the government wants us to pay more into our CPF and Medisave. But our real wages are not growing! Where do we get the additional money to pay? Not only that, the government says that we need to put more into our CPF and Medisave, because we need to have enough to see the doctor.

But the increase that they want us to put into CPF and Medisave is several times more the increase of our wages and inflation! If they indeed want us to put more into CPF and Medisave to top up for inflation, why do they make us top up so much more over and above the inflation rate? What is the money really for?

Chart 21b shows you that the Medisave Required Amount is also increasing at a significantly much faster rate than our wages.

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Chart 21b: Central Provident FundMinistry of Manpower Singapore Income

So, all this while the government tells us – healthcare costs are increasing. You need to be self-reliant. You need to pay more for your own healthcare. So, you have to put in more money into your CPF and Medisave – this is even though the government had allowed our wages to be depressed.

But the government had allowed healthcare prices to increase, our wages to be depressed and yet, forced us to put in more money into the Medisave and CPF.

Two questions:

  • Why doesn’t the government help us at all?
  • Where does all the money we put into go?

In Chart 22a, you can see how the government doesn’t help us at all. While we are made to fork out our own money from our stagnant and depressed wages to pay for increasing prices, the government’s contribution to our Medisave has remained at 4%. It hasn’t increased and would be more likely to decrease in future.

Yet, all this while, the government is asking the people to put in more, while the government doesn’t also do so? Why? Self-reliance? Nah, read on.

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Chart 22a: CPF Interest Rates

But where is the money going? Our CPF is borrowed by the government to invest in Temasek Holdings and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC). In this discussion, I will focus on Temasek Holdings.

You can see in Chart 22b that Temasek Holding’s returns are very high.

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Chart 22b: Temasek Review 2012

And how is this compared to the interest rate our Medisave earns? You can see this in Chart 22c.

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Chart 22c: Temasek Review 2012CPF Interest Rates

So, Temasek Holdings can borrow our CPF and earn interest rates of 10% to 15% (green lines) but only 4% is returned to our Medisave (yellow line)?

Where has all the interest earned from our CPF go to?

Granted that the interest earned is due to the diligence of the investors at the Temasek Holdings, why isn’t the government channeling more back into our Medisave – by even just another 1% or 2%? They can fully afford to do so! Why make the people shoulder the full burden, while the government, in this country which has become one of the richest in the world, cannot transfer some of the wealth back to the people?

In fact, when “the Economic Review Committee (ERC) was convened in December 2001 to review Singapore’s development strategy and formulate a blueprint to restructure the economy”, the committee had made some good recommendations to protect Singaporeans’ wealth, such as “to increase the contribution rate to the Special Account by an additional 1%-point as we restore the CPF contribution rate. This will increase members’ Special Account balances by about 20%, and enable an additional 10% of all members to reach the Minimum Sum by 55.” But was this taken up? It has been more than 10 years since the recommendations, and now what? You can read the recommendations here. I note that this committee was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and where Speaker Halimah Yacob is onboard as well. It is clear who my vote will go for.

And in totally unrelated news,

Demon-cratic Singapore's Page CPF

Credit: Demon-cratic Singapore’s Page

So, why is the government making us pay more and more into the CPF and Medisave when our wages are already depressed and when they don’t even increase their contributions? How fair or responsible is this government?

Not only that, the government tells us that the amounts in CPF and Medisave have to be increased because of inflation but these amounts are increasing by several times more than inflation!

It is too much to summarise at this point, but I think you get the gist so far:

  • Our wages are depressed. I’ve explained why this is so in a previous article.
  • Healthcare costs are increasing. The government spends lesser and lesser and we are made to pay from our own pockets for ever-increasing prices. We are squeezed here.
  • The government forces us to pay more for the Medisave Minimum Sum, Medisave Required Amount and CPF Minimum Sum, even though these amounts are increasing over and above inflation and our wages are depressed, so we are squeezed here.
  • The government wants us to increase our contributions but they do not increase theirs. We are made to shoulder the full burden of increasing prices and depressed wages, but which are caused by the government. We are squeezed here.
  • It’s not too much of a stretch to say that we are being squeezed left, right and centre and left high and dry.

(4) Can The Poor and Elderly Afford Healthcare in Singapore? (Charts 23 to 26b)

In the next few charts, I will show you how what the government does actually hurt Singaporeans.

In Chart 23, you can see that the majority of the people who are admitted to the hospitals are our elderly.

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Chart 23: Ministry of Health Singapore Hospital Admission Rates by Age and Sex 2011

But do our elderly have enough to use or see the doctor with?

Do you know that many of our elderly work because they need the money? – 62% of them work because they need the money (Chart 24a).

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Chart 24a: State of the Elderly in Singapore 2008/2009

The government keeps telling us that the older Singaporeans want to work because they want to stay active. Truth is most of them simply do not have enough money and are forced to work. The government knows this. They were the ones who had conducted a study on this, but yet, what have they chosen to tell us?

In fact, do you know that in 1995, only 39% of the elderly had said that they had wanted to work because they needed the money. But in 2005, this increased to 62%! 62% of them were forced to work because they needed the money (Chart 24b)!

That was 2005. You can expect that in another 8 years – in today’s time, this would have risen to 80% or 90%.

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Chart 24b: State of the Elderly in Singapore 2008/2009

Also, for the elderly who were looking for a job, 66% or two-thirds of them had said that they were doing so because they needed the money (Chart 24c).

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Chart 24c: Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports Singapore National Survey of Senior Citizens 2005

Can our elderly afford to see the doctor? You saw in the charts above that if you need to see the doctor, you have to fork out a lot of money – more than our peers in the other developed countries. And if you were to see a doctor at any clinic, you hardly receive any support.

Do you think our elderly can afford to see the doctor? When we hear of stories of how many elderly choose to fall sick and not see a doctor, until they absolutely have to, is there much truth to it? I think there is.

Our per capita expenditure may be low, but is it because many of our poor and elderly are not accessing care because they cannot afford to and have chosen not to seek care and treatment? Unfortunately, I do not have the statistics.

To give you more information, do you know that among our elderly, many of them work in jobs that we would classify as “blue-collar” jobs? Is this how we treat our elderly?

You can see this in Chart 25a. Among those who work as cleaners, labourers and related workers, 66% of them are the elderly. Among the plant and machine operators and assemblers, the elderly make up 56% of these workers.

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Chart 25a: The Heart Truths (link which statistics was obtained from is broken)

If we look at how much the low-income earners, such as what the cleaners, labourers and related workers are earning, you can see that their wages have grown at a slower rate than the general population.

In Chart 25b, the red line is how much the cleaners’ wages have grown and the pink line shows how much the wages of the average Singaporean have grown. You can see that the red line is flatter – which also means that if our median wages, in real terms, have remained stagnant, that theirs would have declined over the years!

 

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Chart 25b: Ministry of Manpower Singapore IncomeMinistry of Manpower Singapore Report on Wages in Singapore 2011: Statistical Tables

Now, if we turn our attention to the low-income earners in general – do you know that the lower-income earners have to shoulder even more burden for healthcare, out of their expenditure?

You can see this in Chart 26a, where the poorest 20% of Singaporeans (red bars) fork out more from their monthly expenses to pay for healthcare. This has remained so over the years, even as the country grows richer.

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Chart 26a: Ministry of Health Consumer Price Indices (CPI) & Household healthcare Expenditure

What’s more, if we look at how much the low-income earners earn in their lifetime, things look very bleak for them as well.

Not only are they paid low wages but across their lifetimes, if they work in a “blue-collar” job, their wages actually decrease as they grow older! You can this in Chart 26b.

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Chart 26b: Ministry of Manpower Singapore Report on Wages, 2011

What this means is that for our low-income earners and elderly workers, they are stuck in a state of chronic poverty. The system simply doesn’t allow them to climb out of the poverty and entraps them in a state of poverty!

Already, healthcare costs are increasing and the government isn’t doing much to help us. Yet, the government is forcing us to put in more money into our CPF and Medisave, where if we don’t achieve the “minimum amount”, we would not be able to take the money out or use it.

Can you imagine how much worse it is for the poor and elderly, who cannot even put in enough into their CPF and Medisave? For whatever they are earning, they do not have enough to use, yet they have to put in money into the CPF and Medisave, which they cannot take out to use. They are losing money even faster than we are. I will show you more statistics on this later.

(5) Are We Paid Enough to Afford Healthcare in Singapore? (Charts 27a to 30d)

But first, I had shown you Chart 27a in a previous article. Do you know that even though we are among the richest cities, Singaporeans are paid the lowest wages as compared to the others? This is even so that Singapore’s GDP per capita is comparable to that of New York and Paris, but we are paid less than half or even only one-third of their wages! (Note: This chart shows a comparison of the cities as the report does not compare wages among countries.)

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Chart 27a: UBS Prices and Earnings 2011

However, some readers weren’t previously convinced and had debated that Singaporeans aren’t paid the lowest wages in the developed world.

But there are more statistics. In the Global Wage Report 2012/2013 by the International Labour Organisation, you can see that the hourly rate of pay for time worked in manufacturing for Singaporeans is also the lowest among the developed countries. So, we have two reports here already which are saying the same thing.

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Chart 27b: International Labour Organisation Global Wage Report 2012/2013 

And now for a third report. In the Global MetroMonitor 2011 report, Singapore was ranked the city with the lowest income growth rate, among 200 cities. In the 2012 report, this indicator was taken out and not reported anymore.

Just like in the 2012 version of the UBS Prices and Earnings 2011 report, Singapore was suddenly omitted from comparison as well.

Why are we hiding from? Singaporeans?

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Chart 27c: Global MetroMonitor 2011

So, you can see that there are 3 reports all saying the same thing – the wages of Singaporeans are decreasing and are one of the lowest, if not the lowest among the developed countries and top cities. In the UBS report, Singapore was shown to have a similar purchasing power as Kuala Lumpur, even though we are several times richer than them, in terms of GDP per capita.

So, our wages have grown the slowest and are the lowest, yet we are made to pay the fastest rising healthcare costs. All this while, the government is forcing us to not only pay more for the healthcare bills, they are also making us pay more into our pension fund – CPF, which they then use to invest in Temasek Holdings and GIC, of which the returns are not shared in proportionate ways.

And mind you, this is from a country which is very rich and one of the richest in the world, and yet, this government cannot do more for the people!

So, for us lay people, our wages have remained stagnant and it has become increasingly painful for us to afford to live an acceptable standard of living. But what of our politicians?

I am sure that they are trying their best to do what they can for us. I am sure that they are suffering, like we all are. Afterall, I am sure we have capable and empathetic politicians who will stand side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with the people, right?

In Chart 28a, you can see how much the politicians are earning. Chart 28a shows their annual salaries by each grade level.

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Chart 28a: White Paper for Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government

High right? Wait, there’s more. In Chart 28b, you can see the change in their salaries over the years. Poor things. Even though they are obtaining million-dollar salaries, in some years, their salaries actually dropped below $1 million! It must be painful for them. Well, read further.

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Chart 28b: White Paper for Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government

In Chart 28c, you can see the proportionate change in their salaries over the years. Wow, increases of more than 30% in some years!

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Chart 28c: White Paper for Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government

Now compare this to us lay people. Look at the blue line in Chart 28d – this is how much our salaries have been changing. On average, the PAP ministers’ nominal salaries have been increasing by 5.64%, whereas for us lay Singaporeans, our nominal incomes have only grown by a lesser 3.82%.

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Chart 28d: White Paper for Salaries for a Capable and Committed GovernmentMinistry of Manpower Singapore Income

So, while us lay Singaporeans become poorer and poorer, our PAP ministers who are paying themselves very handsomely continue to enjoy themselves. All this while, they devise policies to cut us down, while telling us to suck it in, that things will be fine – because sure, things are pretty fine for them!

Have you noticed the title of the white paper – Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government? I literally felt very uncomfortable when I saw the title – I kid you not.

So, after all the discussion, do Singaporeans have enough to save or retire? In Chart 29a, you can see that because the government has been increasing the Medisave Minimum Sum that we need to set aside, the proportion of Singaporeans who are able to meet the minimum sum at age 55 have grown slower and stagnated.

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Chart29a: CPF Trends Medisave Scheme

In fact, over the past few years, there is actually a drop in the proportion of Singaporeans who are able to meet the minimum sum (Chart 29b).

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Chart 29b: CPF Trends Medisave Minimum Sum

How about for the CPF Minimum Sum? Worse still, there has been a decrease in the number of Singaporeans who are able to meet the minimum sum (Chart 29c)!

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Chart 29c: CPF Trends Minimum Sum Scheme

So, what does this mean for our retirement funds? Would we have enough to retire with?

In Chart 30a, you can see that among the developed countries compared in the Global Pension Index 2013, Singapore has the least adequate pension.

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Chart 30a: Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index 2013

In another report, you can see that in terms of the gross replacement rates of our pension, which is the “share of individual lifestime average earnings”, you can see that Singapore scored the lowest among all the countries compared, and even lower than the developing countries (Chart 30b). This is even so that Singapore is the richest country among them all!

Not only that, you can see that the pensions for citizens of both genders are equal for most countries, but in Singapore, the men receive a higher pension than the women, even if both are very low.

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 Chart 30b: Pensions at a Glance Asia/Pacific 2011

The previous chart had showed the pension funds for the average earner. How about for the “low earners”. You can see that in the other countries, their governments would do more to protect the low-income earners. Already, the low income earners are earning low wages and so their governments would step in to help them have more to retire.

But in Singapore? Our poor earn possibly the lowest wages as compared to anyone in the developed countries. Yet, their wages have been decreasing over their lifetimes. They are thus very much worse off not only compared to other Singaporeans, but as compared to the poor in the other countries as well. But when they retire, the government does not do anything for them. Their pension gross replacement rates are the same as the average earner (Chart 30c), whereas in other countries, the replacement rates are higher for the poor than the average earner.

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Chart 30c: Pensions at a Glance Asia/Pacific 2011

If you look at the other comparisons (Chart 30d), you can see that in the second column block, the replacement rates for someone who is 30 now is even lower – which means we will have lesser retirement funds than the elderly today – and the gross pension wealth, which is the “size of the lump sum that would be needed to buy a flow of pension payments equivalent to that promised by the mandatory pension system in each country”, it is very low as well.

In all of these comparisons, Singapore fares the worse off, even when compared to developing countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines. Our pension is useless.

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Chart 30d: Pensions at a Glance Asia/Pacific 2011

(6) Where Is Our Money Really Going? (Charts 31a to 31e)

But the question is, if our pension is so low, then where is all our money going? Very good question.

In Chart 31a, you can see that Singapore is one of the largest debt nations in the world. The government borrows the money from Singaporeans – via our CPF.

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Chart 31a: The Economist The global debt clock

This means that, as shown in Chart 31b, Singapore also has one of the highest public debt per person – the government “borrows” one of the highest amounts from the people.

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Chart 31b: The Economist The global debt clock

Now, where does the money borrowed go to? The government borrows our CPF and invests it in Temasek Holdings and GIC.

And how much money does Temasek Holdings and GIC has? A lot of money. Temasek Holdings is ranked 11th among the soverign wealth funds in the world. And GIC is ranked 8th in the world! You can see the ranking in Chart 31c.

GIC has assets of US$247.5 billion and Temasek has assets of US$157.5 billion!

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Chart 31c: Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Soverign Wealth Fund Rankings

In fact, the official foreign reserves in Singapore has been rising rapidly, on the contributions of Singaporeans’ CPF (Chart 31d) – all this while, while Singaporeans are having great difficulty trying to even achieve the minimum amounts required in our CPF and Medisave!

Can you see how the increase in this chart is similar to the increase in the CPF and Medisave minimum amounts that we are being forced to pay?

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Chart 31d: Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute

Finally, you can see in Chart 31e that Singapore has the highest reserves per capita – the money earned from Temasek Holdings and GIC goes into the reserves. But wait a minute, what about for Singaporeans??

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Chart 31e: The World Bank Total reserves

Do you know what the government says about our reserves? According to the Ministry of Finance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) manages S$304 billion and the size of Temasek’s portfolio was S$198 billion. The “Government’s funds managed by GIC that are not published. What has been revealed is that GIC manages well over US$100 billion. Revealing the exact size of assets that GIC manages will, taken together with the published assets of MAS and Temasek, amount to publishing the full size of Singapore’s financial reserves.”

Most importantly, the ministry says that, “It is not in our national interest to publish the full size of our reserves. If we do so, it will make it easier for markets to mount speculative attacks on the Singapore dollar during periods of vulnerability.”

Yet, if you see above, it is clearly stated that the GIC has assets of US$247.5 billion, which is about S$310 billion.

Now, mind you, this information is not available on the Singapore government’s website but why is it freely on someone else’s website? Why does the government deem it fit to restrict information to its own people but would share information with outsiders? What is the government trying to hide from the people? If the government would hide an information as important as the amount of our reserves, and the largest one no less, do you think that they will not hide other important information relevant to the lives of Singaporeans?

This is what it is – the size of GIC’s assets are very big. If you can do simple mathematics, you would be able to calculate that assets managed by GIC, Temasek Holdings and MAS would be at least $800 billion. What does that mean for a government which has so much money but continue to force people to be so self-reliant that it does not want to increase its support for its people, whilst reducing what the people are earning while still forcing the people to pay even more? And for what? For the reserves? Which are not coming back? For Temasek Holdings and GIC? For who? For whose pockets?

The people cannot know that we are using their CPF to grow our own money and that we are forcing them to retire on increasingly smaller amounts. And that’s why we have to hide the truth from them. That’s why others can know how rich we are so that we can attract the rich to come here but Singaporeans cannot know how rich we are. Otherwise, we would need to give more to the people, and we really don’t want that.

You’ve been had, Singaporeans.

Now, when the government doesn’t want to release statistics to us, do you know why? Always think about what they are trying to hide from you.

  • Smallest pension for the people but one of the highest wealth funds in the world.
  • Lowest wages in the developed world but the people have to spend the most out-of-pocket for healthcare.
  • Lowest and fastest dropping wages among the low income earners and the highest proportionate expenditure for them – the poor and elderly.
  • Lowest wages of Singapore workers in the developed world but highest ministers’ salaries anywhere in the world!

Doesn’t quite make sense, does it?

And so, I ask to the naysayers who fearmonger us to think that if we spend even that little from our reserves for the poor, that we will deplete our reserves, then I ask – even if we spend $3 million out of the $800 billion for the poor and elderly, this will amount to only 0.000004% of the reserves. Is this too much to ask for to help our poor? Will our reserves deplete overnight?

And if we have so much money and we are keeping it and not giving back to the people, what really is the government keeping it for?

The Singapore government is very, very, very rich. And the people are tremendously poor, for a developed country which is one of the richest in the world! We’ve put in so much hard work but we earn such miserly wages – the lowest in the developed world while our ministers earn the highest salaries in the world. Now, do you know why Singaporeans question the purpose of working hard? We don’t see the real returns of our hard work because what should rightfully be our money is taken away from us.

It doesn’t come back to us. It goes to the government and never comes back.

So, to be very clear:

  • Singapore is one of the richest country in the world, but our people are paid the lowest wages in the developed world
  • Our healthcare costs have been rising and we are made to pay the highest per capita expenditure on healthcare.
  • Not only that, our real wages have thus fallen and because we simply do not have enough to save as we keep paying to, and for the government
  • When we retire, our pensions simply are not enough for our retirement. We are the richest country but we have the smallest pension.
  • Our government does not and cannot be bothered to do more for Singaporeans, so much so that our poor are kept in a state of chronic poverty, they simply do not have enough to retire.
  • And our old, who many are working in low-income jobs, simply cannot retire and have to work for as long as they can, on even lower wages.

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THIS, MY FRIENDS, IS SINGAPORE. This is the richest country in the Asia-Pacific region and one of the richest country in the world where the rich get richer – including our politicians and everyone else bites the dust.

(7) Do We Really Have Good Health? (Charts 32 to 38)

So, we might have very nice-looking health outcomes, but what what is our emotional and psychological health like?

In a survey (Chart 32) conducted this year by the Gallup Organization, only 58% of Singaporeans feel loved – just slightly ahead of South Korea.

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Chart 32: Bloomberg Where Do You Stand in the Global Love Ranking?

And no wonder, when we do not feel that our government is taking care of us.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had calculated the work-life balance index of the OECD countries. According to the index, generally the countries which work the longest hours also have the lowest work-life balance. I do not know how to calculate the actual score for Singapore, but you would expect Singapore to have one of the lowest work-life balance, because we work the longest hours in the world (Chart 33).

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Chart 33: OECD StatExtractsSingapore Yearbook of Manpower Statistics, 2012

You can see the work-life balance index in Chart 34, with Singapore’s estimated index ranking, which would be very low – this means that we have very poor work-life balance.

Importantly, we are as rich as countries like Norway and Denmark, but our work-life balance is way off the mark.

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Chart 34: OECD Better Life Index Work-Life Balance

When we are not treated right by our government and where we have one of the worse work-life balances in the developed countries, is it any wonder why our people are the least happy people in the world (Chart 35)?

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Chart 35: Gallup Positive Emotions Worldwide

And in yet another completely unrelated news:

Happiness CPF

Credit: Demon-cratic Singapore’s Page

So what if on the surface, we might look like our health outcomes are good when Singaporeans’ emotional and psychological well-being would most probably be one of the poorest in the developed world, and in fact, in the whole world? So what, if our people might not be able to afford healthcare, and thus cannot access it?

Interestingly, Singapore has one of the highest morality rate for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, after the United States (Chart 36).

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Chart 36: World Health Organisation World Health Statistics

According to the World Health Organisation, “The most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.” Medical News Today had attributed cardiovascular disease to “a lack of sleep” and “stress” as well.

Is it any wonder there have been an increasing spate of Singaporeans suddenly dying from cardiovascular diseases?

Singapore's CPF Scheme

Credit: Fabrications by Anntonii’s Facebook Page

You know, if you think that the government cares about you, think again. They don’t. Not even when you are dead. Look at Bukit Brown.

If you are not a big business, rich or a tourist with high spending power, you are as good as dead to the government.

Would you be able to see these charts or statistics put together in the way it had been in this article in our newspapers and TV? They wouldn’t be able to report on these, where otherwise the editors and journalists would lose their jobs. Which is no wonder why Singapore is ranked 149th in the World Press Freedom Index 2013, together with Bangladesh, Palestine, Iraq and Burma (Chart 37a).

photo 2 (13)

Chart 37a: Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2013

And 153th in the Freedom of the Press 2013 report, below Iraq and just above Burma (Chart 37b). Our press is not independent. They are not allowed to report the truths about the government.

photo 3 (13)

Chart 37b: Freedom House Freedom of the Press 2013

Two reports, same findings – In Singapore, our newspapers and TV are not able to speak the truth and the people are constantly kept in the dark on the truths. Welcome to The Heart Truths.

And why not? In the Freedom in the World 2013 report, Singapore is not even ranked within the top 90 democratically-freer countries – we are only a “partly free” country, where there “is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties”.

In The Economist’s Democracy Index 2012, we are ranked 81st in the world as a hybrid regime (Chart 38) – where there are “Serious weaknesses … in political culture, functioning of government and political participation. Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak. Typically there is harassment of and pressure on journalists, and the judiciary is not independent.” We are ranked with countries that you would hardly have ever heard of.

Think there is no corruption in Singapore? It’s all about how to look clean, even when you are not.

photo 1 (13)

Chart 38: The Economist Democracy Index 2012

Again, two reports, same findings. The Singapore government does not protect our basic and fundamental rights and freedom – point in case, look at how they have siphoned away our money and how we are left out to dry, unknowingly.

In another country which is democratic, we would be able to hold mass protests and demonstrations to demand for an answer from the government. Our newspapers and TV will investigate and report on the government, our judiciary will expose the government and hold them accountable and our academics will debate on these issues and expose the government of its corruption.

In another country, the government wouldn’t have dared to do what they do – they wouldn’t pay themselves so expensively, at the expanse of the people who earn so poorly, and all the while treating the people like “stupid”, while proclaiming themselves as patriots. Patriots, really? Perhaps – patriots to only the top 1% of rich individuals in Singapore.

But the government controls everything in Singapore – the media, judiciary, our educational institutions and civil service – they have every means and every way to cripple Singaporeans because who are our police, judges or lawyers?

This government has gone on a trajectory that no longer respects the people or treat the people right, beginning from 2000. It is also when a new batch of leaders had been inducted into the current parliament.

Do you feel sentimental about PAP politicians and the good that they have done for Singapore? Me too – I feel for the politicians who had watched and guided the transformation of Singapore from a “Third World” to “First World” country in the early days of Singapore.

But I have absolutely no sentimental feelings for this current batch of PAP politicians.

So what if they are also dress in the same frocks as the PAP politicians of fore when their white is tainted? None of them understand the ideals, values and beliefs that the forebearers of PAP had sculpted Singapore with. They can claim to represent Singapore and Singaporeans, and claim to care for the welfare of Singaporeans. But clearly, they don’t. Time and time again, everytime I look at the statistics, I am only shown with pristine clarity how the current batch of PAP politicians do not have Singapore and Singaporeans’ interests at heart.

I do not know who or what they care about. But clearly, it is not us. They have lost their moral leadership to govern in our country. Now, Singaporeans, if you are not still not convinced, then I will leave you your time to reflect and think about things for yourself. Some of you will try to take this article apart but no matter how you look at it, the statistics speak for themselves. And it’s not just one but several reports which are saying the same thing.

I do not care about this current batch of PAP politicians. I might be sentimental towards the PAP of the olden days but the PAP of now do not have the  honesty and heart of their predecessors. They do not at all.

Change is needed in Singapore. Change is needed so that we can protect our lives and the lives of our future generations. Change is needed to bring fore a new hope, new inspiration and new dynamism into Singapore, and allow us to make Singapore one that we can truly call our home. It’s time we stop calling ourselves workers in the Singapore factory and regain our rights as people in the nation of Singapore.

The current crop of PAP politicians are simply not capable to bring Singapore into the new era. And if you tell me that the opposition politicians do not seem to be capable as well, then do you think a group of PAP politicians who have mismanaged your incomes, pension and basically your life, deserve another chance at turning your life around when they haven’t done so after 3 elections?

For Singaporeans who fear a change in government, I say to you – it’s time you take up the responsibility to run your country as well. Our country is as much what we want to do with it as much as what we decide to not care about. No matter which government comes into place, it is our responsibility as the peoples of this country to create solutions for it. If we keep waiting for a “capable” government to take over, we can take another 3 elections with PAP and if the past 3 elections hasn’t shown themselves clearly to you, then by all means, go ahead.

But I know my choice is clear. I want a government that takes care of the people, that bows down to the people and protects the people. Not one that pays themselves so well while lying to the people about how good their lives are, while cutting down on their lives. It’s wrong. Plain wrong.

Key Points for Part 2:

  • The government has been increasing the Medisave Minimum Sum, Medisave Required Amount and CPF Minimum Amount year-on-year, as they explained that this is due to increasing prices and inflation.
  • However these amounts have been increasing by several times over inflation.
  • Also, Singaporeans’ real wages have remained stagnant, and these amounts have been increasing by several times over the growth of our real wages.
  • Yet, even as the government asks Singaporeans to increase their contributions to these amounts, the government maintains only a 4% interest rate on our Medisave account and hasn’t increased its contributions.
  • Our CPF is borrowed by the government to invest in Temasek Holdings and GIC. However, even thoughTemasek Holdings earns 10% to 15% in interest but the interest returned on our Medisave is only 4%.
  • Among the attendances to the hospital, most of them are the elderly. Healthcare is expensive for the elderly. 62% of the elderly work because they needed the money in 2005. This is as compared to in 1995, when only 39% of the elderly had to work because they needed to money.
  • On top of that, the elderly workers form the largest bulk of the “blue-collar” occupations. And these occupations have seen their real wages decrease over the past few years.
  • The poorest 20% households in Singapore spends the highest proportion of their incomes on healthcare.
  • Across their lifetimes, the low-income earners also see their real wages drop as they grow older. Thus for the low-income and elderly, they are trapped in a state of chronic poverty.
  • Singaporeans are paid the lowest wages in the developed world and we have seen the lowest (and negative) growth in our wages as compared to 200 top cities. Meanwhile, the ministers’ nominal salaries have grown by 5.6% since 2002 whereas the lay Singaporean has only seen their nominal incomes grow by 3.8%.
  • Thus all in, even as the CPF and Medisave minimum amounts have been increasing, a smaller and smaller proportion of Singaporeans are able to meet the minimum amounts.
  • This also means that Singaporeans have the smallest pension (CPF) amounts, as compared to the other developed countries, and also to other developing countries in the region. Women also have smaller pensions than the men and the poor are left with relatively smaller pensions that those of the other countries.
  • Even though our pensions are the smallest in the world, GIC and Temasek Holdings, which uses the money borrowed from our CPF, is ranked 8th and 11th as the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. In fact, we have a rapidly growing reserves and the highest reserves per capita in the world. Yet, ironically, the people retire poorest in the world.
  • Singaporeans are not protected by their government, we work the longest hours in the developed world and have possibly one of the worse work-life balances in the world. All in, this explains why we are also the unhappiest people on this planet.
  • The reason why these issues have not been compiled and brought to our attention is because we have one of the lowest press freedom in the world and we are ranked lowly as a non-democratic country, where the people’s rights and civilities have been compromised.
  • In Singapore, the government is not accountable to the people and has compromised the people’s livelihood and well-being. A change of government is necessary to bring Singaporeans’ livelihoods back to balance. Singaporeans need to play a stronger role in helping their future government shape the policy and future for Singapore.
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10 comments

  1. The Pariah

    Since 2005 we have Integrated Shield Plans where basic layer is Medishield and top layer is MOH-Approved Private Insurer Shield Plan. Such MOH-approved private insurers are allowed to sell riders for Deductibles and Co-insurance which were originally incepted to preempt potential over-consumption or wastage of medical resources. On the one hand, the private insurers are for-profit commercial enterprises and Profitability is essential for Product Sustainability. On the other hand, insurance is about pooled risks and pooled premiums/claims with actuarial computations and correlations.

    Any public stats from 2005 to date for premiums and claim pay-outs for (i) basic Medishield layer and (ii) top MOH-approved Private Shield Plan layer for those (a) without riders and (b) with riders?

    I have niggling suspicions that 80% of the insured WITHOUT riders are cross-subsizing 20% of the insured WITH riders. Those WITHOUT riders are the average Singaporeans who use CPF Medisave to pay for Integrated Shield Plans. Those WITH riders are the more well-off Singaporeans who can afford to pay Cash at pretty steep rates to pay for such rider coverage.

  2. anthony sim

    This is a good read and easy to understand. Well done!

    Pardon my ignorance but if our CPF monies are being “invested” by CPF “”wealth managers” to entities such as Temasek, GICs etc..(without our permission) and if they performed well I should be very relief. But under hypothetical situation should this entities fail to perform and went pear shape, what will happen to our monies? Will CPF delay paying us by having the government to legislate raising the retirement age which they have done so already? And also devising measures preventing us from withdrawing all our monies contrary to the promise when they first implemented this compulsory contribution?

    So the foreign reserve is the CPF money invested by the government with Temasek and so forth and they are all successful business enterprises generating reasonably good returns: why are the profits not channeled back? Unless this is not the case and there are many other things that they have not disclosed. This is mind-boggling that a country that is so rich and successful have no empathy for its people. So sad….

    You know what, I would rather the government consider part of our CPF contribution as income tax and/or certain kind of levi to support healthcare. The government must always serve the needs/wellbeing of the people. Healthcare is necessary evil because everyone must have easy access and not worrying to themselves to death because they do not have the financial resources to do so.

    • My Right to Love

      Hi Anthony,

      You asked some very good questions.

      Some commenters online have discussed that its precisely because the government had lost money in their investments which is why they have changed the laws to make it more difficult for people to access their CPF – so that they can channel the CPF monies to compensate for the losses. There is no official confirmation on this.

      But as you’ve rightfully pointed out, clearly there are delay tactics involved in how the government has increased the CPF and Medisave minimum amounts at such a high rate that fewer and fewer people are able to meet these minimum amounts and aren’t able to withdraw their CPF.

      Actually, like you, I would rather that we channel our CPF into taxes. If you ask me, the reason why the government had created CPF as opposed to channelling CPF into taxes is two-fold (at least).

      First, tax is an established tool to obtain money from the people with a purpose to channel it back to them. So there are established mechanisms to use them around the world and the government can’t cheat around them. So, if you want to ‘borrow’ money from the people to invest, it would be difficult to justify through ‘borrowing’ from tax. So, the government created the CPF and created new rules to use them, so that they can legally ‘borrow’ from us – and because they control parliament, they could pass through the laws easily without discussion. And even if we hadn’t approved of it, they have – because there’s the implicit understanding that because we had voted for them, we would have agreed with their decisions. So, we do need to use our votes wisely.

      Second, the government created two tools – CPF and taxes – so that psychologically, businesses, the investors and the rich will continue to think that our taxes are low. And because CPF targets workers only, if you are an investor or self-employed, technically you don’t have to pay for CPF and you won’t have to be ‘additionally taxed’ through CPF.

      So, there are many psychological reasons as to why CPF is created and separated from taxes. Also, CPF is elitist and an inequitable tool because if you are rich and self-employed, you only need to pay taxes. But this has to, of course, also take into the fact that the poor pay very low or zero taxes, so the effect might be negated.

      I think, to be clear, this government has created many tools, with a strong understanding of how they would affect the people psychologically and how they can obtain maximum financial benefit from the complication of these tools.

      Roy

  3. Naman

    boss i love this article very nice indeed!!!Listen for A Level Project Work right,my group is doing a topic on retirement.The tittle is “lack of access to quality retirement for working adults in Singapore”.I was hoping you could help us a bit since you seem very knowledgable.Do try to contact me at 91881543.We really need your help.Thanks.

  4. Pingback: Shanmugam: Slower Pace Of Life Comes With Trade-Off? Really? | The Heart Truths
  5. Kenneth Kok

    Hi Roy,

    I am also curious of what the Government intend to do with the funds they accumulated.
    My guess is, just a speculation, that the Government has the thinking of the rich, accumulating more money to feel more powerful and secure.
    What do you think?

    Best Regards,
    Kenneth Kok

  6. Pingback: Edz Ello is 50% right: LKY has given up, Sinkies will be extinct (by sloth (lack of exercise)/ greed - www.hardwarezone.com.sg
  7. Pingback: Healthcare: How PAP has Betrayed Singaporeans | The Heart Truths

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