How The Government Undercuts Singaporeans’ Wages

For far too long, Singaporeans have been told that we don’t earn what we deserve because we haven’t been hardworking enough, or that we are not good enough. And so we resign ourselves to our fates.

How wrong we are. How wrong we have willed ourselves to be.

Today, find out here how the government undercuts your wages and how we are made to fight among ourselves.

(1) Singaporeans Are Losing $1,600 Of Our Income Every Month

In an economy, the workers – us – work to help grow the economy and the GDP. In an optimal scenario, all of us should share in the growth of the GDP – we should be getting what we help to earn back.

However, in Singapore, the wage share in Singapore is only 42% – this means that Singaporeans are only paid 42% of what we help to produce.

But Singapore is a very rich country, by per capita GDP, and when we look at other high-income countries, they would pay their workers up to 60% of the GDP. What this means is that Singaporeans are paid very unfairly. Whereas the workers in other high-income countries get back a much larger share of what they have helped produced, Singaporeans are given much lesser – by up to a massive 18 percentage points.

This means that in another high-income country, for every $100 that their workers helped earned, they would receive $60 back in return. In Singapore, we are given back only $42 while $18 goes back into their profits (on top of the $58 profits that they already earn).

If you look at the GDP, Singapore’s GDP was $370 billion in 2013. The 18% that we should have gotten back but are taken away from us is $66.6 billion. If you divide this by the total labour force of 3.4 million workers in Singapore equally, this means that each worker should receive an additional $1,612 every month.

In other words, the typical Singaporean who earns a low income of $800 a month now should be earning $2,412 and someone who earns the median income of $3,250 now should be earning $4,862. For someone who earns a high-income, of say $20,000 now, they should earn $21,612.

Slide2

(2) Low- And Middle-Income Should Receive $600 More In Income Every Month

But wait, that’s not yet it.

As I have written several times before, the difference in wage between a high-income and a low-income earner is massive and the widest in Singapore, as compared to the other high-income countries. In fact, the high-income earners in Singapore earns the highest wages among the developed countries while the low-income earners earn the lowest wages among the high-income countries – so, it’s not just that workers in Singapore are paid unfairly, it is specifically the low- and middle-income earners who are paid unfairly.

And as I have written, I estimate that the richest 15% earns as much as the poorest 85% in Singapore. So, of the 42% wage share of GDP, half (or 21%) of it is earned by the richest 15%, or 516,555 of the workers, while the rest of us 2.9 million have to fight for the other 21%.

If the wages are more equitable in Singapore, let’s assume that the richest 15% should only earn a third of the the income (or what they would have earned in a more equitable country) – or 14% of the wage share, which means that as compared to the 21% of the wage share that the are currently getting, another 7% should be returned to us. 7% of the GDP is $25.9 billion, which means that each worker should get another $627 monthly back.

In other words, a worker in Singapore who currently earns $800 a month should receive $3,039 and a median income earner should earn $5,489. For a high-income earner, they would be getting an additional $4,179 than the rightful wage.

Including for the 18% lost wage share of $1,612, what this means is that each worker in Singapore is losing $2,239 in wages every month!

Slide3

When you look at the other countries with a similar income level as Singapore by GDP per capita, indeed, for a person who earns $800 in Singapore, the counterpart would earn $3,667 in Sweden. According to Mercer, Australia has a similar cost of living in Singapore and Australia has a minimum wage of $3,080. Thus the minimum of $3,039 that Singaporeans should be earning is just about right.

So, when we we have all the statistics at our disposal, we realise that the Singapore government is underpaying Singaporeans severely. All the claims about their Progressive Wage Model being better than a minimum wage is utter nonsense when the best they can afford as the lowest basic wage is $1,000. $1,000 is a far cry from what a low-income earner in Singapore should actually earn, taking into account the cost of living and equitable distribution – a low-income earner should be earning at least $3,000!

(3) Low- And Middle-Income Singaporeans Only Have 63% Of Our Incomes Left After Tax And CPF

But next, let’s look at tax and CPF.

Wages are only one side of the story – the other side is how the personal income tax and CPF structure have also been finely made to undercut Singaporeans.

Here are three things you need to know – (1) how much the personal income tax and CPF rates are , (2) which income groups personal income tax and CPF mainly affect and (3) how much personal income tax and CPF each worker actually pays. 

  1. For personal income tax, the highest tax bracket is only 20%. But for CPF, the highest rate is now 37%.
  2. For CPF, the CPF would hit Singaporeans who earn below $5,000 the most, as income-earners who earn above $5,000 need only pay CPF on the first $5,000 of their income. For personal income tax, the highest tax bracket only hits at a very high income level of $26,667 every month. In fact, this is one of the highest income level at which the highest tax rate sets in, in the world!

What this means is that essentially, almost all Singaporeans who earn $5,000 and below have no choice but to pay 37% of their full income into CPF, while high-income earners do not have to pay the full CPF rate and most of them do not have to pay the full income tax rate of 20% as well.

So, for a Singaporean who earns $800, he/she would have to pay a total personal tax and CPF rate of 37%, for a median income earner who earns $3,250, this would be 38%. For someone who earns $5,000, this would be 40%, while for someone who earns $20,000, he/she will only need to pay a much lower 25%.

Slide10

What this means is that low- and middle-income earners pay at least 12% more of their wages into personal income tax and CPF than high-income earners do!

Slide4

To put it in another way, a low-income earner would only have a purchasing power of 63% of his/her income, a median income earner only 62% while a high-income earner would have a purchasing power of 75% of their income.

This comes on top of the high-income earners being paid the highest wages in the developed world and the low-income Singaporean being paid the lowest – which means the purchasing power of the high-income earner is magnified and that of the low-income earner is much diminished!

Slide11

To put things into perspective, 73% of Singaporeans earn less than $5,000 every month – which means that for almost three-quarters of Singaporeans, we have a much lower purchasing power simply because of this personal income tax-CPF mechanism that the government has put in place to undercut the wages of low- and middle-income Singaporeans.

(4) Singaporeans Have To Pay Tax On Our CPF – 3%

But wait! There’s more.

How this personal income tax-CPF mechanism is more insidious is this:

For personal income tax, the government has no choice but to report this as government revenue, which they have to return back to Singaporeans. So, for high-income earners, whatever they pay in personal income tax, it goes back to them. For CPF, a person who earns $20,000 every month would need only pay a CPF of 9.25%, so in relative terms, it is less of a hindrance.

In contrast, for 73% of Singaporeans, we would need to pay 37% or more of our income into CPF. Now, the thing about the CPF is that there is no international standard for reporting. The Singapore government can change its reporting framework at their whims and fancy. What does this mean?

This mean that they don’t have to report to you what they use with your money.

The tax framework is a very straightforward system – this is what you pay, this is what I give you back.

For the CPF, the government has intentionally made it very complicated.

  1. They say that they have invested your CPF in government bonds.
  2. They say that these bonds are invested in the reserves.
  3. They don’t say this outright but the reserves are invested by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, GIC and Temasek Holdings.
  4. In effect, the government is borrowing almost all our CPF to let their investment firms invest.

For tax, the government doesn’t take your money to invest. For CPF, not only is your money not returned to you, the government doesn’t tell you what they do with your money and the government takes almost the whole money to invest.

Slide12

“Borrow” is a very nice word. In reality, how many Singaporeans actually get to see the money that the government “borrowed” returned back?

Do you even know who sits on GIC or Temasek Holdings? Do you know in what GIC invests in and what the investments are earning? That’s where your money is going, mind you. Do you know that the Singapore Prime Minister is Chairman of GIC and the two Deputy Prime Ministers are also on their board of directors?

As I have explained several times, for many of us who hold on dearly to the idea that the “CPF is our money”, it is not. In 2013, the total balance in the CPF is $253 billion. And what was withdrawn was only $14.9 billion, or only 5.9% of the total CPF balance and 1% of the reserves. If the CPF is “our money”, why is it that there is a more than a quarter of a trillion sitting inside the CPF?

Meanwhile, our CPF has helped to earn $1 trillion in the reserves. Do you see any of this billions or trillion coming back?

Slide13

The whole point I am trying to make is this – for personal income tax, the government collects and they return (well, somewhat and then not – read this article to find out more). But for CPF, not only does the government takes it away from us, the amount they return is minute. So, if we give up our money into CPF, when Singaporeans say, “we won’t see it coming back”, it is as what we say – we won’t.

How did the CPF become from being “our money” to “we won’t see it coming back”?

There are many tricks that the government has done to siphon your CPF away from you:

  1. Make you pay the highest contribution rates of 37% for social security/CPF – highest in the world.
  2. Gives you the lowest returns of 2.5% and 4% in the world.
  3. Makes you pay tax on your CPF – GIC earns 6.5% in interest and Temasek Holdings earn 16% – the interest that is not returned to you is known as an “implicit tax”. This implicit tax is estimated to be about 3% (see Chart below for illustration according to income level – the implicit tax is negligible for high-income earners)
  4. Make you use your CPF to pay for your housing mortgage so that when you borrow from your CPF, not only do you have to pay a 2.6% mortgage, you have to pay another 2.5% accrued interest on your CPF. What this means is that when you take your CPF out to finance your house, because the CPF doesn’t get to earn the 2.5% interest if it were left inside, the government wants you to pay the 2.5% that would otherwise have been earned, back to them. Something amiss? Yeah, this 2.5% interest should be paid by the government to you, but they have distorted the system to make you pay to them instead, so that they can earn from you without you knowing. Smart trick to generate income for themselves.
  5. Finally, put in a CPF (and Medisave) Minimum Sum to entrap your money by claiming that if you don’t meet this amount, you cannot take your CPF out. This Minimum Sum is carefully calibrated based on how much they know you would have left in your CPF after paying off your housing mortgage and accrued 2.5% CPF interest.

Slide5

Which is why Leong Sze Hian has estimated that only 1 in 8, or 13% of Singaporeans are able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum.

Slide14

(5) Singaporeans Are Not Being Paid Fairly

So, do you see the whole picture now?

  1. First, the government doesn’t pay the right wage that they should be paying you – only 42% of GDP goes into your wages. If we are paid what we should be paid, the median income earner in Singapore should be earning $6,139.
  2. Second, use the CPF to entrap your money so that not only are you paid terribly low wages, the government cuts up this low wage of yours and use it for their own investments, and return very little back to you, and at the same time, make you use your CPF to pay for your house and siphon even more off from you.

Now, to be very clear, this entrapment exercise mainly affects the low- and middle-income Singaporeans.

For high-income Singaporeans:

  1. They are paid the highest wages among the high-income countries.
  2. The personal income tax that they pay are more likely to be returned back, as it doesn’t get as entrapped as the CPF.
  3. They are much less affected by CPF than the rest of Singaporeans are, and the much smaller CPF contribution rate is something that is easier to live with, since they are compensated by the higher than should-be income that they should be earning.

However, note that this is by no means a fault of the high-income earner. This is a critique of the system that the PAP has created more than the individual earner.

Slide6

And if you look at how much each of the income groups are losing in wages today, the low-income earner is losing $2,399 of his/her wage, or 3 times his/her current wage. The middle-income earner is losing $2,889, or almost the whole wage he/she is earning now. And the high-income earner is getting an additional $1,717 more than what he/she should be getting now.

Slide7

To put it in another perspective, in the chart below, you can see the wages of Singaporeans drawn to scale of one another. The low-income earner earns only 4% of what the high-income earner earns and the middle-income earner earns only 16%.

Slide8

And if you look at how much more they should be earning (in the chart below), you will see that even with the lost income that the low-income earner should be earning, he/she still earns only 17% of what the high-income earner earns and the middle-income earner would earn only a third of what the high-income earner would.

Slide9

So, do you see now how the whole government entrapment exercise to entrap Singaporeans look like? It is by no accident that the majority of Singaporeans have seen our lives been cut down and compromised. It is not because we are not hardworking. It is not because we are not smart enough or good enough. It is not because we are unwilling to do our best.

It is because the PAP has already created a system where they would systematically pay themselves the highest income and us – the majority – the lowest, and where they make us pay the highest social contribution/CPF rates in the world and siphoned it off for their own use.

It is by no accident that the richest 15% earn as much as the poorest 85% of us, by no accident that 27% of the high-income earners are less affected by the CPF, that only 13% of the high-income earners are able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum, and that 85% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats and 15% do not.

This 15% – the richest in Singapore, which comprise the Singapore Prime Minister, the PAP ministers and the PAP politicians – this richest 15% controls the whole system in Singapore – the government, the civil service, the investment firms, our CPF and the largest companies in Singapore – this is where the profits are going.

Yet, we stay silent and blame ourselves. Yet, we believe we are not good enough. They throw us a bone and expect us to fight among ourselves over the bone which has so little meat. And like blind mice, we fight and struggle among ourselves and blame one another for our mishaps.

When you open your eyes and see for yourself who is taking away your money – the poorest 85% of Singaporeans – when we are willing to open our eyes and wake up to the reality that our lives have been so squeezed and compromised because of a PAP which has constructed this system to stifle us, you would know who the perpetrator of our oppressed lives are.

Yet, why do we choose to fight among ourselves instead of turn our attention to the very people who have created this utter mess? Don’t you think it’s time we stop allowing ourselves to be oppressed?

Don’t you think it’s time we stop fighting among ourselves and realise who the common perpetrator is? Don’t you think it’s time you find your voice and speak up? For far too long, we have kept quiet. For far too long, we have willed ourselves into believing that we cannot do anything about our situation. For far too long, we have failed ourselves.

It’s time to take the fight to where it should be taken. It is time you take a stand for yourself, for ourselves, for our children and for the children of our children.

What say you? Are you ready?

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103 comments

  1. gavin

    Your article is interesting but who is willing to step up and make the system better? Generally you need someone who is powerful and capable of doing such things. If 2016 we vote pap out.. who is capable of doing such changes? Its a difficult problem to solve u see..

    • Roy Ngerng

      The government is made up of 90 people.
      The civil service is made up of 300,000 people.
      Singaporeans makes up 3.3 million people.
      Can the 90 people do the work of the 300,000 or 3.3 million people?

      We forget that we are the ones who are doing the work, the ones devising solutions. We forget that we are the ones with the ideas and what the 90 people need to do is to implement them and to work with the 300,000 people in the civil service to carry them out.

      The people in our civil service – the 300,000 of them – are the ones creating the strategies, developing the programmes and implementing them.

      The 90 in government are just fronting these programmes. The actual work gets done by us, so let us remember ourselves, and let us remember we are the ones who are making Singapore ticks.

      When the 90 changes, or another 90, the civil service continues to run. The civil service continues to get the job done. The 300,000 – people like you and many of us, and our family and friends – people who care for Singapore and has a stake in it – we are making it run.

      Will I depend on the 90 people to run the country? No, I will depend on the 300,000 and the 3.3 million.

      Yes, I would depend on ourselves and all of us. We are what makes Singapore.

      So, remember.

    • Roy Ngerng

      And the question is – when capable or one step up, are we ready to do what’s right for ourselves?

      And even if they are not seen as the conventional “capable”, are we willing to see change, so that we can allow the 300,000 to be able to do real work and let them do what needs to be done for Singapore, finally.

      I’m ready. I’m willing. Are the rest of us?

  2. Richard Charles

    You will lose out as long as you are not on top of the food chain. It’s the same for all nations. Is it worth it to fight for the cause of oneself or for the causes of all Singaporeans? Speaking about children’s children, most of us true Singaporeans will not even give birth due to so many difficulties. We can say everything bad about the government but honestly can you & I or everybody else for that matter do anything about it? Let’s just say there were more votes for opposition than PAP, do you think the PAP will just sit & watch their empire fall just because of the whinning of worthless people (us) ? How do you know the voting system won’t be rigged? The real question is whether there is somebody who is capable & brave enough to stand up for us. The chances are slim because we have been suppressed from the day we were born. I personally will not bear any children as long as I am living in Singapore because my offsprings will only suffer in agony & make the ones in power even more powerful. We need God to cast the great flood again to kill the humans so humanity can begin once more. The world has been infected with too much corruption & greed & is killing its host (the Earth) just like how cancer kills us. The only way is to destroy them. Now nuclear wars doesn’t sound that bad afterall.

    • Roy Ngerng

      I’m standing up. I’m speaking. More of us are. And many are ready to do more.

      I’ve put my face up. They will get me and hurt me. But I’m still doing it. Because I believe in a future that will belong to Singaporeans, where we will all be treated right, and fairly.

      I believe and I want to make my belief Cole true.

      Come onboard with us. We need to believe in ourselves and believe we are strong enough to do this. I believe in it. And I know it can be done.

      We might choose not to bring another being into Singapore because we fear that they would have a bad life in Singapore, or we can choose to change Singapore to a better place so that we can bring a being in this life, safe and secure.

      Let’s do this. I know it can, because I can see how it can be done, if we come on board together.

      Let’s do this. It’s time. Now or never.

    • zack

      None of us can do anything to change singapore system. Yes. We are freely giving our heart earn money to the PAPs. Just take it as you paying for the safety of this country. And safety is a high price. Compare it with other countries, ppl are sleeping with fear. Do you think that other than PAP, is there another leader who can rule singapore selfless? I read your article, see afew things myself. Even the richests are fighting among themselves bidding for a safe shelter in SG. And for whatever it takes to get into SG. Open up ourselves and see even further. Do you see that SG gov is not targeting your CPF or lower wages. They have a bigger motive behind. Remarks: what you can see is temporary.

    • HungJin Gwee

      I agree that cpf should not exist, but I don’t get your point on the other stuff about taxes. If you want government to provide services such as healthcare, education, transport, etc, then someone has to pay for it. I, of course, would very much rather these areas be privatised.

  3. Jaden

    Hey gavin and Charles, it is you people who screw yourself up. You people never give opposition the chance to do anything. You people cast doubts on the opposition whenever the papers report anything negative about them. You people fail to appreciate good people in the opposition. You people put off many people who aspire to make life better. You people always whine and whine, but never give opposition any chance to do anything in parliament. You screwed yourselves and screwed others who want change. I have been voting opposition all my life, but as long as people like you continue to fear, continue to doubt, continue to fear and doubt and fear and doubt, the PAP will rule over your lives to eternity and you will still pay GST to buy a coffin. If you do not want to vote opposition, my advice to you is to migrate. Don’t screw up other people just because you prefer to be screwed again and again and again by PAP.

    • Roy Ngerng

      Thanks for this.

      Yet, the same calls for people who support the opposition to migrate are there as well.

      The level of inequality have driven Singaporeans apart that we’ve learnt to think in divisive ways.

      This doesn’t have to be. I agree with you, and I’ve always voted for the opposition.

      For our country to change, we need unity in diversity, we need change amidst hope.

      I hope what you’ve said would be a wake up call for many.

      And for the many of us, as Jaden has said, it’s time we let go of our fears.

      But let me explain one reason for the fear – many of us think that we are the only ones who are want change, and so in the fear that no one else might think alike, we squash our hopes and believe we should get angry with ourselves, instead of do things differently.

      But there are many people who think like us. There are 40% of Singaporeans who had voted for change, it would have added another 10% by now and another 15% by the next election. We would have 55%.

      More than 10,000 Singaporeans have joined protests last year and more than 1 million Singaporeans have voted for change at the last election.

      We are not alone. Many people want to walk together and are walking together.

      Let’s come together, let’s join in our hope and belief for change, and let’s make it happen.

      We are ready. We just need to tell ourselves we are and know that.

      Roy

    • CY

      Ask yourself this question. Has there been any capable opposition candidates? Other than Mr Chiam See Tong, the rest are shit.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Ask yourself – have you bothered to stand up and make a stand other than criticising the opposition?

        Ask yourself – have they not given themselves up to fight for the rights of Singaporeans and to stand up for the change they want to see?

        Ask yourself – instead of being negative and hopeless, have you decided to be more empowered, to take a stand and come out and do something for our country and represent the change we want to see?

        Anyone makes another silly remark like this, and I would like to see you be able to put your face here and speak with the integrity you dare put your insults to.

      • Kevin Hobson

        The Singapore Govt uses Internal Security Act and the legal system to repress and intimidate political opponent. It also controls the main steam media so the opposition isn’t going to get fair treatment or appraisal.
        The people who stand up against PAP should be applauded. It’s very easy to do nothing and whinge isn’t it?

      • Janeson

        Yes, many self-defeatist conservatives will find fault and pick bones from the egg to avoid taking a leap of faith to vote the opposition because they pretend everything is fine as long as they are still doing ok and the GDP shows rosy figures. Until when they are affected will they wake up from the slumber. This is normal human behaviour and Asians are conservative by default. They will give blind trust to anyone in power like China and Vietnam and even Russia. They are lazy to care about politics. This is normal. That’s why we are third world, first world in name, third world in reality, and third world in mentality.

  4. hello

    The fundamental flaw in your analysis is your failure to take into account of Singapore status as tax haven. Due to the low tax rate, lot of MNC like to register their revenue under their Singapore subsidiary. For example, Apple register part of its itune revenue under its Singapore subsidiary because of the low tax rate. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/24/us-singapore-tax-idUSBRE9AN0JM20131124). This will boast the GDP but do nothing to the income of the residents.

    • Roy Ngerng

      Please read the prior articles on tax that have already been written on the flawed and deceptive tax system in Singapore:

      https://thehearttruths.com/2014/02/24/budget-2014-the-government-still-doesnt-spend-a-single-cent-part-2/

      https://thehearttruths.com/category/how-much-tax-are-singaporeans-really-paying/

      In addition, if the GDP in Singapore is artificially boosted and the money that is flowing in isn’t channelled back to Singaporeans, then something is severely wrong in the government’s accounting and accountability to the people.

      If so, I would be very worried about leaving the PAP in power, if it means that Singaporeans will have to suffer under such a heavily unequal system, tipped to allow the PAP to remain rich, while the rest of Singaporeans to remain poor.

      • hello

        please read my comment carefully. My comment has nothing to do with the tax system for the Singapore residents. What I was trying to point out is that our GDP number is inflated because of the tax haven status of Singapore. Thus, the “real” income to GDP ratio of Singapore could be much higher compared to the reported value. There is nothing wrong to be a Tax haven from a Singaporean point of view. MNC pay lower tax and Sg govt collect taxes. The real loser of this deal is US govt.

      • Roy Ngerng

        The issue of being a tax haven has other broader implications – this has allowed high-income earners who have chosen to stay in Singapore or place their wealth in Singapore via investments, which has escalated prices in Singapore.

        These higher prices, especially in housing, have led to a spiralling out of control of prices for the bottom and middle rungs in Singapore.

        With wages that have not kept pace with inflation and investment-driven prices, this has become unsustainable and untenable for Singapore and Singaporeans.

        Allowing others to place their money in Singapore, due to the sound infrastructure and security bodes well for Singapore as a financial hub. However, there needs to be measures put in place to prevent the undesirable effects, such as higher prices and and lower purchasing power.

        The long term problem of being an investment-fuelled economy is that prices are driven up but similarly, when investments withdraw, the economy will similar be unsettled just as quickly.

        If there isn’t a strong grounded economy based on the innovation and skills-development of Singaporeans to sustain the core economy, this simply doesn’t place Singapore in an advantageous or value-added position, in comparison to other economic centres in the world.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hi, agree. Do note that any mention of a foreigner-fuelled investment strategy is not a remark against foreigners.

        For they are, as well as if I were to be in another country also a foreigner, and just as human as another.

        Any mention of this is a commentary on the strategy and outcome, rather than on the individuals.

  5. Zack25

    Roy, Thanks for your input. I have been waiting for the change for the past 2 Elections.. but nothing changes.. Well, i’m amazed by
    1) what makes them think that the opposition wont be better than the PAP??
    2) Most importantly, how can they still conclude that the system runs by the PAP are efficient, effective and stable when the opposition were not given the chance to prove that they can do a better job?
    3) Not only our Salary, but Transport here is a killer too. They make it hard for us to have our own Transport by changing the Loan Scheme, by increasing the COE every now and then, by increasing the taxes and ERP rates and install more ERP around (funny it may seems, the jam and mostly accident at all expressway only starts before the ERP begins, simply because they make us rush our day unsafely, if no ERP, i dont think the jam will be that bad in the Morning..) But look at our Public transport.. its full of CRAP!!

    You have my support bro.. hope to see a better Singapore in the future. Enough is enough!

  6. lee hock siong

    Hi roy, i feel that your the case you are making is way too superficial. Yes, its true that the PAP undercuts Singaporeans wages, everybody knows that, but do you know why the government does that? Why do you think during economic breakdowns the world superpowers suffers heavily yet Singapore, such a small country stays relatively unaffected comparatively? How much ready liquid money do you think is needed for Singapore to survive yet another “SARS”? Singapore invest and depend heavily on education, national defense and bilateral relationship with other countries with the world, and without the money that we citizens contribute, you might not even be able to post such a analysis because Singapore’s school suck, you might not even have your computer because our sea port is not protected by any navy and no body wants to export to a Singapore shore full of pirates, and our neighbors might just be constantly threatening us with the very basic necessity that we depend so heavily upon like fresh veggies water etc etc because our relationship is sour.
    Next, what is the exact massive change that you are suggesting needs to be brought forth to improve the situation of the “poorest” 85%? Second Widening of income gap, rising property price(btw prices are dropping) low wages,(you sited that Sweden has a substantially higher pay compared to Singapore’s counter parts but do you why? because sweden, with a strong united history operates like a tribe, the doctors and lawyers are willing and happy that the extremely high taxes that they pay contributes to the toilet cleaners and garbage man because they are really essential one united people of the same history and they truly appreciate one another. So if you think Sweden in Singapore, Would you as a hardworking engineer like to pay an average 25% tax on your expenditure so that a cleaner doing just simple office cleaning gets a substantially high pay, just 1k shy of yours?) Issues that you mentioned are also issues faced by competitive first world cites like tokyo, new york, bejing, seoul, so if non of their governments can effective solve these problems even with them having much more land and resources than singapore, what makes you think that a change of Governors could to the opposition could? So if the opposition should have the chance to govern and change singapore for a definite better, then they should come up with feasible proposals first, they should earn their way to govern like how PAP did, rather then to give them the chance first, what if they do not succeed?
    “The government is made up of 90 people.
    The civil service is made up of 300,000 people.
    Singaporeans makes up 3.3 million people.
    Can the 90 people do the work of the 300,000 or 3.3 million people?
    We forget that we are the ones who are doing the work, the ones devising solutions. We forget that we are the ones with the ideas and what the 90 people need to do is to implement them and to work with the 300,000 people in the civil service to carry them out.
    The people in our civil service – the 300,000 of them – are the ones creating the strategies, developing the programmes and implementing them.
    The 90 in government are just fronting these programmes. The actual work gets done by us, so let us remember ourselves, and let us remember we are the ones who are making Singapore ticks.
    When the 90 changes, or another 90, the civil service continues to run. The civil service continues to get the job done. The 300,000 – people like you and many of us, and our family and friends – people who care for Singapore and has a stake in it – we are making it run.
    Will I depend on the 90 people to run the country? No, I will depend on the 300,000 and the 3.3 million.
    Yes, I would depend on ourselves and all of us. We are what makes Singapore.”
    Let me also remind you that a change in governors does not mean a change in system, if the opposition takes over, it will be similar, if not exactly the same. This is how our world works, the elite will be the minority and they will and shall be at the top.
    I would like to thank you if you read my reply, by no means was i being personal i just wanted to share and discuss objectively

    • Roy Ngerng

      Hello, my belief differs from yours – the PAP might believe that they should be the elite who run the country and decide how things should be because they think they are the best and they know it all. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we now know they don’t.

      My belief is that all Singaporeans are equal and all Singaporeans are truly capable of coming out with solutions to run the country together. The 90 people are just placeholders, as they have shown themselves to be. Without prepared speeches in parliament, will they know what to say or what’s really going on?

      I believe in a Singapore where we can succeed together, and truly succeed together. I believe that ministers should be paid only a few hundred thousands and would pay low-wage workers decently. No matter what we do, we are all important people who contribute to the ebb and flow of society.

      Can we do without a cleaner or a sales staff? Can we do without the ground police who were the ones who actually handled the riot when those at the top were not contactable?

      Respect needs to be accorded where respect is due. Respect needs to be accorded to people who work in different jobs, and respect has to be accorded to people, simply because we should all be treated with the basic respect.

      This is my belief. Do I look at people in terms of their economic value? No, because economic value is decided by us.

      I’ve decided and I believe that each person already has an important innate value and the least we could do is to accord them a wage that respects the dignity that they should carry with, and allow them to live as decently as we would want ourselves to be.
      Otherwise, any hoobalah about how we should have inequality because society has always been unequal is only using a false dichotomised justification to defend the kind of high life that we want, knowing that it can only come at the expense at another.

      What I know is – we can all have quality life, if we share in this together. This is what human dignity is. This is what human respect is. This is what life is about.

      If when we die, and you’ve succeeded in allowing someone else to live a worse off life than you have and you are happy with it and you can answer to your conscience, I respect that.

      But I believe that our lives can be made happier when everyone around us can also become happier. And I know how our society can become a happier one – when our society becomes more equal, we will all learn to look out for another, and to care for one another and be there for one another.

      This is the society that I believe in, that I envision, and one that I hope will come to Singapore in the near future, very soon one day. I know if can happen, and I know how it can happen.

      Now, Singaporeans, let’s come together and let’s stand united. If we believe in ourselves and we believe as one, we can achieve what we’ve always wanted – a truly fair and equal society. You know we can get there, now believe.

      • Higgs Boson

        True. We should respect each other as humans. I would put it more clearly as a less unequal society where the top 1% earn 10 times more than the bottom 1% instead of the current 10,000 times more that they are earning now due, not because they are more hardworking, but the fact that current policies favour slavery.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Exactly! Amidst the spanking new buildings, Singaporeans don’t realise how we have become workers trapped in modern-day slavery. It’s unfortunate but we still don’t see it, as we continue to believe we can pursue an upper-class lifestyle, while being trapped in ever-spiralling debt, that Singapore now has one of the highest debt, if not the highest, in Asia.

    • William

      You are wrong to say Sweden doctors pay high taxes to contribute to cleaners. The cleaners there earn more than enough to pay high taxes too. In Singapore, cleaners are trained to accept low pay and rely on government handouts. The system here is screwed because of the cheap labour and open door policy. Hong Kong, Australia, UK, etc, protect their people from unfair competition. The PAP protects the bosses by allowing them free access to cheap labour, ruining jobs from cleaning to engineering. Many of my friends quit their jobs to become insurance agents precisely because of this.

  7. lee hock siong

    I would also like to point out a better and more comprehensive case by sanjay perera and i urge you to reread his reply asi i feel your argument are very much bias and an over use of unfair selective sourcing

    Some points for you to consider in strengthening your case on issue of wealth/income re-distribution:

    1. The points you raise highlight a hidden class agenda that is always there when higher income people try to defend the status quo and claim (ST Forum page has letters that reflect this) – must be fair to the rich who’ve struggled to earn what they have; higher taxes on the wealthy don’t solve problems of the poor; discover causes of poverty rather than just tax and redistribute.

    2. You present a good case revealing the class agenda of those who don’t want their riches touched that needs to be brought to light, but you also weaken it because of your political agenda: that is fine, since you’re transparent about it but it is a hindrance.

    3. Indeed, perhaps a new govt. or new type of govt. may address properly what you raise but there is no basis to think that as of now, there is any group that can do so…because the points you raise are not exactly being politically championed by anyone in the manner you’re discussing it. If they are then I stand corrected.

    4. The irony is that the reason why the capitalist class spokespeople are coming out of the woodwork to fight for themselves is because the ruling party is perhaps ‘saber-rattling’ a possible ‘left’ turn in their policies – this is speculation, but the reason for ‘lack of trust’ by the rich is not that their welfare may not be looked after but that their wealth and lifestyles may be affected. You don’t help your stand by bringing in a class critique then draw a non sequitur in claiming that the rich think the PAP is not capable of looking after their interests as well as the poor (the interests are not the same if you ascribe a class motive to the rich).

    Please bear in mind — this does not detract from what you pointed out that people are paying quite a bit in hidden ways which they may not be always be aware.

    5. The rich are beginning to be a tad ‘wary’ of the PAP, if that is the term, over the issue of possibly being taxed more. They would wholeheartedly continue support for the ruling party if they were told that the rich would be allowed to be richer, and let the poor empower themselves with the worn out tedious analogy of going fishing for themselves (after supposedly being taught how to).

    Do not for a moment think that many of the wealthy care for those who have failed the meritocracy test in life by not being able to fight and win a zero-sum game of being a top earner while maintaining an attitude of — and to the devil with all else.

    Try to hone your arguments to take into account the following:

    a. Why is a system of redistribution or proper taxation required? Is this an issue of fairness; so what is ‘fairness?’

    b. Is there an ethical basis to society, government and citizenship?

    c. Can people get rich anywhere without inadvertently or otherwise exploiting others (e.g. lower wages and benefits for those who create profits, cheap foreign labour, a generally pro-capitalist mainstream media, indoctrination in universities as in teaching neoclassical economics, etc.).

    You may want to address these issues separately from your political agenda which seems to be above all else do not vote for the PAP: keep that for separate posts. By conflating the two you distract from the important critical thinking function some of your posts provide with your political bias (which you’re more than entitled to, of course, on your own blog) 🙂

    Be well.

    • critique

      OMG! SOMEONE NEED TO EDUCATE THIS WRITER… ITS JUST BASHING lacking the facts of the full picture.
      Give you some of my advice to your essay. you might wan to consider exploring contents like “difference between Singapore and other advanced economies?” your WHOLE essay is only about the challenges faced by the people of the country.. omg can someone pls preach you on adding some content that are more constructive, eg.” EXTERNAL challenges faced by the country.”
      you looked young, but sounded like the uncle in the coffee shop whining about how hard it is to find a job in Singapore.
      thanks. bs article.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Can you write a comment that is constructive and in your words, stop “whining”? You didn’t hold a mirror to yourself when you wrote this?

        So, let’s hear from you.

      • critique's critique

        If there is anyone who should be needing EDUCATION- it is you, Mr. critique. If you disagree with his reasoning, just point it out. Why BASH the person?

  8. enuff_of_unconstuctive_crap

    Many thanks to lee hock siong for presenting what I wanted to tell the idealistic Roy and much more. For all his zeal (and I respect that), his arguments are flawed and biased. There is probably no perfect system to govern with, and it’s alot due to the very nature of human beings. Denying that survival instinct is to be unrealistic and blind.

    • Roy Ngerng

      There is probably no perfect or ideal system in the world, except that the Nordic countries, Europe, and the Australian region have achieved this. Yes, of course, no country is perfect but these countries have gone closest to it.

      Meanwhile, Singapore, which has a GDP per capita income higher than almost any of these countries isn’t able to do even half of that for its citizens.

      With so much income that the government has earned, they recognise how rich Singapore is by paying themselves 5 to 10 times more salary than any of these countries, but pay the Singaporean worker 5 times lower than these countries.

      You want to talk about idealism and perfection? I’m not even talking about that.

      The situation in Singapore is that it has become a most imperfect system.

      You want to talk about reality, let’s talk about reality. If the PAP doesn’t want to pay Singaporean higher wages, then don’t inflate the GDP per capita, then don’t attract investment income by rich who have a zeal to drive up prices in Singapore, but have not contributed to higher incomes. If the PAP doesn’t want to let Singapore earn higher incomes which we should based on the current prices and cost of living, then drive the prices down – will the PAP do it? They were moreover the ones who allowed prices to be driven up.

      Remember, the cost of living in Singapore was ranked at 97th in 2001 and within 10 years, we now ranked at 5th. Meanwhile, the wages of Singaporeans have ranked the lowest among the high-income countries then and still rank the lowest today.

      Second, if the PAP government doesn’t want to pay Singaporeans higher wages that are commensurate to the cost of living in Singapore, then the Singapore government has to dramatically reduce their pay to 4 times what they are paying themselves now, to $500,000 – this is how low the average Singaporean has their wages pushed down, as compared to another high-income country.

      Finally, for people who claim this is an idealistic discussion etc etc, this discussion is no where near ideal. An ideal state is when everyone is paid the same. All I am doing is illustrate how unfair and unequal the system in Singapore is, and how we need to bring it to parity, and an ordinary fairness that the other countries are ordinary doing now.

      We are not even talking about moving to the other end of the spectrum of being ideal. Singapore is already at the other end where it’s the most unequal system. As a country which has enough income to help the people but is unwilling to do so, the PAP should be utterly embarrassed by their lack of dignity and integrity, and should we severely lambasted for their lack of capability and protection for the very citizens who have voted for them tirelessly for decades, only to be left out in the cold, having the fend for ourselves, while their rely on our incomes to become the one of richest people on this planet, on our money.

    • Higgs Boson

      As you say, there is no perfect system, much less a perfect argument. There are always holes in a fabric if you put in under an electron-microscope. Despite all the imperfections, I think Roy’s argument is still wearable like a T-shirt. You can chose to be blind to the inequalities in Singapore society where our old people have to scrummage for drink cans in the rubbish bins and clear the leftovers on your table. But luckily there are kind and selfless people around that makes for a more humane society instead of an animalistic one.

    • Reply to enuff_of_unconstructive_crap

      I agree with you on this, and may I rephrase your words- There IS a perfect system of governance, only imperfect humans.

      Denying survival instinct is unrealistic and blind. But agreeing would make us beasts, and even possibly worse than one. Do you agree with me not on this, sir/miss? Denying that instinct leads to a higher self-realization of Man, not embracing it.

      Although I do agree the article is slightly biased in the selection of data. But its titled How The Government Undercuts Singaporeans’ Wages for a reason.

  9. Jacky Ong

    You were wrong in terms of CPF in point 3. Those who earns below $5,000 will contribute 20% of their base salary into CPF while their employers pay additional 17% of the base salary on top of that. This amount is capped at $5,000 meaning that those who earned above $5,000 will only get up to $5,000 x 17% top up for their CPF from their employer. It’s not equivalent to you paying 37% of your income. The 17% is additional top up.

    • Roy Ngerng

      Hi, the computation of 37% of income to CPF is calculated for all income groups in this illustration.

      Not for accounting for CPF, high-income earners would pay only 21%, instead of 25%.

      Quite obviously, you have to add the employer contribution of CPF because this is supposedly “your money”, right? Supposedly. And when employers calculate how much to pay workers, they include the employer contribution into it, and calculate how much to pay based on that.

      Which is why this computation is fair – it has included the employer CPF contribution for all income groups, to represent the cash value of the income loss for all groups.

      Notably, low and median income earners lose 17% of their income to employer CPF, while high-income earners lose only 4%. Thanks for allowing me to highlight this more clearly.

  10. Keng Yong

    One of the key pillars of your argument is that the government takes our CPF and it becomes their money. So we recognise that there could be some unnecessary rules e.g. minimum sum or restrictions on how you can use your money. There are always pros and cons on whether to have rules and i believe that itself is a topic worth debating on. But the above argument is a very strong statement. Do you have any real life example of anyone that has ever failed to take out their CPF monies (when the criterias are met) or upon their death, their family members fail to receive their CPF monies?

    Secondly, you speak about what we have in our total CPF balance and what we have drawn out – and because the % drawn out is low vs the total CPF balance, the CPF is not our money. I can’t follow your argument in this case. So if your withdrawal amount from your bank account is low vs your bank balance, your money in the bank is not your money? The point is a balance is meant to be used over time (accumulated over your working life to be used for a 20 years period after you retired) while you are using a one-year flow and compare it against the balance. I recognise your passion on the topic but using random statistics to push forth a point in a illogical manner doesnt help your credibility.

    • Roy Ngerng

      Only 1 in 8 Singaporeans are able to meet the CPF Minimum Sum.

      No need to go into a long argument then. Simply, by the time a median income earner retires, he/she should have $700,000 or $800,000 inside. After spending for the house of $300,000, where did the $400,000 to $500,000 that should be inside go?

      I leave it this to everyone to think about.

      Where did your money disappear to? Just ask this question and you will be able to ask the logical question – where did my money disappear to? How come I’ve put in so much money and I cannot see them anymore?

      And if the government puts more money into the CPF, then what’s the point if I can’t take it out?

      Not too difficult to understand why Singaporeans would prefer to have any increment come in the form of cash rather than be stuck inside as CPF, where they will never see it again.

      • Centaurix

        Unless you can prove that the cpf funds have truly disappeared and the balance amounts not returned upon permanently leaving Singapore or to the account holder’s family upon death, I’d rather believe in the government’s rhetoric that this is retirement planning. In the history of lottery winners, there has been many cases of winners of hundreds of millions of dollars squandering their windfall and declaring bankruptcy a short time afterwards. In Singapore, we hear stories of old uncles having their money cheated by mistresses after they collected their cpf payout. In your scenario of us getting back all our cpf, what will become of such people? Or are the rest of us supposed to support them? In a rapidly aging society, very soon even 100% tax will not be enough for that scenario.

  11. Esta

    Without CPF locked up and returned to singaporeans, it will mean our disposable income is higher and it will inevitably lead to even higher inflation rate. Our money will still never be enough, and without the safety net of CPF, many will probably end up throwing their cash into luxury items and perhaps the casinos. I believe SG government recognize that our people may not have the discipline and splurge with possibility of being homeless. With the force saving CPF, we are almost all able to keep a roof on top of our head as long as we are still contributing to CPF. I was personally glad that I can buy a flat at the age of 24, newly graduate and start building my own family almost instantaneously out of the uni. I assume you are pretty young. When my income finally moved past 5000, I will actually quite upset why is CPF capped at 5k, if only it is higher, I may afford a bigger unit!

    However, I do agree with the part that we shouldn’t be borrowing our own money. CPF loan should be kept even lower than 2.6% or none. It is probably one of the money making ploy the Govt had in place.

    I have friends who have argued the cons of CPF, but coming from a family where both of my parents do not contribute to CPF, I see how their lives becoming worse off over the years with no proper medical safety net for them. Hence I believe in the pros of CPF in the early years of building SG, only till a time where all of us can exercise our intelligence and discipline to properly manage our funds.

    Your argument is valid, only to those who are able to grow their own wealth and manage their expenditure in this very expensive city.Think of those who are lowly educated. Which in your article includes those who are “low or median income” these are the ones who obviously have not reached that level to make the most out of their earnings, and need the govt to give them a hand in compartmentalizing their funds.

    • Reply to Esta

      I thank you on behalf of the writer for your rational comment.

      I do not agree that CPF is the best means to instill discipline over money matters. Yes it is effective, one of the most efficient solution ever conceived. But it will not solve the root of the problem if not coupled with a progressive education on wisdom in money matters.

  12. HolyMoo

    Bottom line.What’s the point of seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars in your CPF account when you cant even use it as you like. That’s like giving a person without legs a pair of shoes. You can see it, but you cant use it as you desire.
    The system is flawed to the extent that many people are still living in the bubble thinking that “i will get what is rightfully mine when the time comes”. Question is who defines when is the right time?You yourself?Most definitely not. The Govt does. And the right time always seems to never come. Because the govt controls who and how much a person is able to withdraw. And that’s bullsh*t. Its OUR money and we need someone else to tell us how much we can withdraw/spend?
    For those that still support this utterly flawed system,you must either be eating out of PAP’s hand or you’re just afraid of changes that may burst your bubble.

  13. Objective Guy

    The alernative to CPF is social security system where government charge you a 40% tax and you will only get your payout when you retire. That’s the reason why the French protest when retirement age is raised to 67 from 65. At least for CPF the money is under our own account where we can choose to let is stay as retirement, buy a house or invest in funds. In fact many funds have similar return to Temasek and GIC return. If you want to get a Temasek or GIC returns you will have to bear the short term volatility which includes the loses during dowthrn. Imagine a retiree seeing his CPF drop by 30% that year. No risk no gain. No free lunch in this world as well. At least the $ Temasek and GIC gained goes into our reserve which builds up investor confidence in our country, allow us to use it during crisis, e,g. Job credits, and allow MAS to adjust our exchange rate as a monetary tool. Even WP applaud the government when $ is put back into our reserve.

    • Roy Ngerng

      Poor argument.

      Look at Hong Kong, Malaysia and India who share the same system as CPF. They’ve all invested their versions of CPF in investments and return the returns to their citizens.

      See how much their citizens earn – no where as low as 4% for the past many years:
      https://thehearttruths.com/2013/11/05/shocking-facts-about-our-cpf-in-singapore-part-2/

      In short, Singaporeans are being short-changed.

      Next, please stop confusing Singaporeans by claiming the systems are different – it’s senseless. It’s not about the system.

      It’s about the cash flow. Let me put it in simple maths.

      To simplify the argument, assuming a person in Norway and Singapore earns the same amount – both earns $50.

      Of the $50, the person in Norway pays $20 into personal income tax and CPF, and gets back $30 from the government.

      In Singapore, the person pays $20 into tax and CPF to the government and gets back $10 (inclusive of CPF withdrawals).

      For other Singaporeans who are reading this, what it means is that even after paying for tax, the Nordic citizen gets back more than what he or she earns.

      In Singapore, we lose more than what we earn. You see the difference?

      It’s pointless and utterly ridiculous when people keep bringing up comparison of the systems.

      Let’s just stop pretending and let’s get down to the bare bones – money vs money. Who gets what, who gets what back.

      Singaporeans get back much lesser than anyone in any country, when you tear down all the constructs and just look at money. Just money.

      So, I think, let’s be straightforward. You want to talk about just money? We lay it out on the table and when you do that, it’s even more blatant how bad it is for Singaporeans.

  14. Kris

    The title of this article is very interesting to me. I tried to read through it, but kept getting distracted by your writing style. I spotted the following, by only the second paragraph of your second point:

    “we should be getting what we help to earn back” – “we should be getting BACK what we help to earn”
    “Singaporeans are given much lesser” – “less”, not “lesser”
    “But wait, that’s not yet it.” – Drop the “yet”
    “the widest in Singapore, as compared to the other high-income countries.” – Drop the “as”

    Frankly, it is still much better than what most Singapore netizens seem capable of these days. But with such a serious topic, I am expecting nothing less than what the Straits Times writers are able to produce.

    • Natasha

      Dude, I read ST and though the English is polished, the content is bullshit. I prefer bad English to bad content. You prefer the superficial stuff then keep reading the right news.

    • josh

      Kris, there are many facets to english. i won’t pretend to be an english professor or something but those sentences actually read well. localisation matters; i don’t think Roy is wrong.

  15. Thomas

    well i dont disagree totally but to have a fairer argument:
    1) we do not directly control wages/gdp. employers do and govt can only influence it
    2) income inequality fails to take into account grants/subsidies. should use figures after theyve done so to make it more comparable.
    3) agree partially about tax bracket – but must compare against small open economies and not large ones – u wouldnt wanna be losing our comparative adv. anw we are alr running a budget surplus.
    4) the implicit tax here is not accurate – returns of gic was 2.6%/yr, annualised for past 5 yrs.
    5) the figures are not scaled and can be extremely misleading.

    i do agree we need to move gradually into a more welfare state – which we see from the pioneer package and the GST rebates. perhaps a slightly faster pace would be good

  16. Kevin Hobson

    Your analysis of the financial shenanigans of PAP is sound. As an adopted gwe loh outsider I could not understand the continue support for PAP.
    So I started reading and now I do.
    Lee Kuan Yew & PAP has successfully managed to fine tune the Singapore mindset and created an entire island of mindless conformists, followers and bootlickers.
    Singapore people are incapable of thinking independently on matters politic or their daily lives, because they fear their government. As a result their thought process only extends to matters of survival only, such as your daily career, how much money you can make, your comforts such as electricity food and transport.
    No where else in the western world could politicians pay themselves outrageous salaries so disproportionate to the general population.
    Singapore faces many problems both economically and socially in the next 20 years and politicians do not have the vision to deal with them. The people need to step up and have their voice.

  17. Dave

    In summary, with this entitled to everyone in Singapore, there is no longer any reason to work hard and climb higher, since your pay is not going to go up much anyway. Then the next step will be getting equal pay for everyone? Does “Communism” ring a bell to you?

    • Roy Ngerng

      Does the Nordic countries and actually many of the countries ring a bell?

      Singapore has the widest wage gap between the rich and the poor among the developed world. No where else do you see such a wide gap among the high-income countries.

      It’s disgusting how the PAP thinks they can increase their salaries hundreds of times more than the lowest-income Singaporean. In no other country do their citizens allow that to happen.

      We’ve been cheated, Singaporeans.

      • Dave

        Widest wage gap between the rich and the poor among the developed world is not a good word to use for Singapore, Unlike other developed countries, our poor is not living in slums or begging for food.

        At least they are still under salary basis. No comments on how the other countries’s government source of income works.

        This country is still a place where hard work pays off, as long as you did enough homework and do it smartly.
        Stop complaining that the goal is far away; Time to strive and reach your goal yourself.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Oh? Try telling that to the poor who are living in shelters for homeless people, who are begging and the actual homeless people in Singapore.

        You need to remove your shades.

      • Roy Ngerng

        And, are you saying our Singaporeans who are earning low-income are not working hard enough?

        Look at the cleaners, the security guards – they’ve been working so hard. The work longer hours than most of us. Yet, they earn only $800, and not only that, they’ve been earning $800 since 1995.

        The PAP likes to say that inflation has increased, so prices have to increase. But why aren’t they wages increasing? Isn’t wage a price you pay for labour as well?

        Why is the PAP so willing to increase the prices of everything else, except the wages of workers? Would you be willing to earn $800 for your whole life? Would you be willing to earn $800 your whole life, no matter how hard you work but keep being told you are not working hard enough?

        Singaporeans are not complaining. We are not even asking to be paid the sky. All we are asking is to be paid fairly. Yet, the PAP has not only paid us unfairly, they are severely underpaying us, and yet tell us to keep quiet and claim that we are not working hard enough.

        Have they worked that hard that they deserve their millions? Have they worked so hard that even as the prices of everything has increased, they continue to depress our wages? Have they worked so hard that our trains are breaking down, our hospitals are overcrowded and Singaporeans have to die instead of be able to afford healthcare?

        Have the PAP ministers worked so hard that all they can think of to grow Singapore is to import people and cause the wages of Singaporeans to be depressed?

        Please, spare me the crap about hard work or meritocracy. Spare me the fake pretence about how Singaporeans should be self-reliant.

        If the PAP is so self-reliant, why does it not rely on itself? Why does it keep relying on Singaporeans’ money? Why do they keep earning from Singaporeans, instead of do what they have to do? – just run the country properly and protect the people already.

        I have enough of Singaporeans being paid such low wages and told we are not good enough. I have enough of a PAP that is so freaking rich that it can even spent a single cent more for healthcare, education or transport. I have enough of a PAP which continues to earn from Singaporeans and yet pretend that they care for Singaporeans. Such hypocrisy, so deceit.

        And you have the (dis)honesty to utter such crap right here. Your level of decency and integrity disgusts me. It disgusts me, when Singaporeans are suffering, while the PAP are paying themselves so lavishly and living such high lives, when Singaporeans are in the pits.

        This PAP – it doesn’t have the integrity, any self-respect, or any pride that deserves the respect of any Singaporeans anymore.

        Well, I am thankful that most Singaporeans already realise this, and we are just waiting for the next election, with or without LKY.

        *****

        I’m ready to see Singapore be taken into a new period, one where Singaporeans can see equality, one where Singaporeans – all Singaporeans – will be protected.

        I am ready to see a Singapore where everyone of us will be respected and valued for who we are, no matter who much we are paid or what our income is.

        I am ready for a Singapore where we are good enough, and we don’t have to be told to that we are not hardworking enough, because we are respected and valued and we will be paid what we should be paid.

        I am ready for a Singapore where Singaporeans will be taken care of our health, where we don’t have to die because we cannot afford healthcare, and where our children can all pursue higher education.

        I am ready, and I have seen thoroughly that the PAP will never be able to and will never want to do any of this, and will never be counted on to do this. This, most Singaporeans know.

        I’m ready. I’m ready for change. Are we? Let’s be prepared now.

      • Dave

        If you are willing to be just a security guard or cleaner for your whole life, then you are willing to be earn $1000 for your whole life.

      • Roy Ngerng

        First, not answering my question.

        Second, your comment shows your ignorance as to how anyone would be “willing”.

        Third, your comment shows your ignorance of the lack of understanding of an issue of how $1,000 isn’t enough for a basic standard of living.

        Fourth, your avoidance and ignorance is very classic of the PAP. Great job.

  18. Dave

    Bro, you have to first understand that $1000 is the basic starting pay. Then you have to understand the pay raise is not the only thing that is implemented. Things takes time… I know you did all this comments out of good heart… so no offensive.. I appreciate your hard work.

    Instead of changing the leader, give good feedback to improve your leader. You do know that new leader takes time to take over also…A better changes might be caused by a new leader, but a new leader doesn’t means better change.

    • Roy Ngerng

      (1) Under the Progressive Wage Model, cleaners will only receive higher wages of more than $1,000 if they are promoted. How many cleaners will get to be promoted? 5%? 10? The rest will have to earn $1,000 for as long as they work, and live, since they wouldn’t be able to save enough to retire at all.

      (2) I am sure you had commented out of having a good heart as well, but unfortunately, I’m not sure if you have been following – how many times have Singaporeans been giving feedback to the PAP? How many times have Singaporeans said that Singapore needs a minimum wage? How many times have Singaporeans said we are not earning enough to survive? How many times have Singaporeans said healthcare has become so unaffordable that we cannot afford to see the doctor, and how many times have people chose to die simply because they cannot see a doctor?

      How many times have the PAP come out to say they will never implement a minimum wage? How many times have they refused to define poverty and give more financial assistance to the poor? How many times has the PAP said that they are doing enough for healthcare and even dared claimed that healthcare is affordable?

      Dude, Singaporeans have tried. Very hard. The people who haven’t tried hard enough is the PAP. Yet, they keep telling Singaporeans to work hard. Meanwhile, have they worked hard enough to deserve the millions they are being paid?

      And you still haven’t answered the question – would you be willing to earn $1,000 for your whole life? In fact, would any of the PAP ministers be willing to earn only $1,000 for their whole life? If they won’t, why are they making more than 300,000 Singaporeans earn only less than $1,000.

      I don’t think there’s a better word to describe this than hypocrisy.

      • Dave

        (1) At what age are the cleaner we are talking about? Late 20, early 30? How long is the rest of the life we are talking about?
        (2) For example, I give you a project today and I tell you the deadline is tomorrow. You did what you can but was not complete, the lecturer say you did nothing. Is it fair?

        I am not willing to earn 1k per month. I used to earn $800 per month when i am younger, but I am a middle income earner. How it happened? I keep taking course and do something out of my normal work scope.

        PAP minister doesn’t get the pay they have now on day 1 when they start working. All of them have their days.

  19. Devo

    Funnyman! Still young. People who attack CPF program is short sighted. My father in law was down with sickness for few years before he pass away. It was because of CPF program that my wife and her two brothers does not have to stress so much on the medical expenses. You believe it or not it helps not to burden the next generation. Oh ya and not to worry they won’t want your CPF money’s because very cents that is left after my father in law passed away with INTEREST is issued in cheque separately back to my wife and his two brothers as per my father in law instructions to CPF board.

      • Devo

        Seriously I don’t see the point of providing details since you don’t understand what insurance is about.

        1st of all I need to let you know, I did not vote for PAP nor the opposition, I voided my vote. The reason is simple. I am a person who care for our future generations.

        I didn’t vote for PAP because of some policy they implemented which I don’t agree. I didn’t vote for opposition simply they just identify some problems but did not provide possible solution to it. It easy to pin point problems, but what we need are people who provide solution.

        For you case is even worse because you are just too short sighted, naive or maybe you have a hidden agenda just like all those hot selling magazine trying to get viewership??

        Did you ever see opposition party whining that CPF is bad? No simply because they know the importance of it.

        Hopefully you will learn to analyze things not only to side either political party and be more far sighted. Base on what you written I will choose not vote for opposition simply it like a FAN club. Opposing without knowing why? You actually do harm more than good to the opposition.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Please read my other articles – the solutions are there. Then again, the waiting for solutions attitude that you exhibit is exactly the waiting to be fed mentality that you are ironically advocating against.

        Otherwise, there are enough Singaporeans who believe in change, and many Singaporeans who have the solutions.

        I don’t believe in fan clubs, and neither does the opposition – otherwise their fans would have voted out the PAP long ago. In your eagerness to advocate (yet again) against fan clubs, perhaps you would like to advocate against the PAP for their are the biggest prepertrator of political fan club in Singapore.

      • Devo

        Maybe you should join politics. There will be another joker around. Still you didn’t answer why opposition did not opposed CPF?

      • Roy Ngerng

        Why, surely, a sense of humour would bode well for a government too laced with strait-laced pretense. I’m glad you agree.

        Unfortunately, I’m not able to answer your question as to why the opposition has not spoken up about the malfunction of the CPF as I’m not privy to their decision-making, though I’m as much curious as to why the PAP has decided to unilaterally impose a 2.5% accrued interest rate on the CPF that Singaporeans take as loan from the CPF.

        I would like to understand why the PAP impose a condition such as this, bearing that they should have been the giver of this 2.5%, yet expect Singaporeans to shoulder a responsibility that’s rightfully theirs.

        Of course, I don’t presume the PAP would share more information on this, which in itself would dismantle the very hypocrisy in their justification.

      • Roy Ngerng

        And may I add, why the government has refused to let Singaporeans know what the constructions costs for public housing – that in itself would be a stumbling block for the PAP.

        Perhaps before you ask of what I would “speculate” of the opposition, let’s ask the question of why the PAP has refused to be accountable to Singaporeans’ questions and has constantly been evading them.

      • Devo

        The accrued interest goes back to individual account, not to the government. By the way I won’t be reading your post if am waiting to be feed mentally but seriously I regretted it because it wasted my time as I have been told it difficult to teach a kid experience through writing. Look at most comments and you know why? I suppose viewership is what you are interested.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Lol. Sure. I’m sorry I wasn’t interesting enough for your indulgence.

        But at least I made an impression to have the honour of your unfavourable judgment.

        Nonetheless, I suppose personal attacks are the best way out, to evade answering questions – how similar in tactic.

        Nonetheless, for the rest of us Singaporeans, we will work towards demanding for accountability from a government which has evaded us so as well.

      • Devo

        This is one of the reason why I didn’t vote for the PAP. But it doesn’t mean that your article is right. CPF to most experience people it good. Good is good, it doesn’t mean because it from PAP it bad. I like and agreed to some of the opposition ideas as well.

  20. tiong78

    The writer is too idealistic and too naive.

    All men are different. and you cannot expect everyone to share their achievements in life with people who never put in the effort to improve their own life in this meritocracy society. Low income is a result of one’s actions, lack of actions, convictions and luck. Nothing to do with a government. The government has already created an environment that provides you with the tools (basic education and a vibrant economy) to take advantage of, its now up to individual to use their imagination to realise their own potential in life.

    Even if opposition takes over, same strategy would apply to retain rich foreign investors and keep the country as per status quo as birth rate is plummeting and coupled with an aging population, foreign workers are unavoidable, a lot of other countries experiencing aging population are exploring into this as well, Japan, etc.
    In order to keep the country vibrant and workforce young, we have to attract the best talents in the world to come to singapore.

    To really change singapore, are you willing to step up and change yourself 1st, let go of such negative ideas and explore new ideas to create the ideal singapore with the next generation?
    In my opinion, currently the most dire part of our country is that no 1 is taking lead in changing the parenting situation of singapore’s next generation due to a hectic life style, a lack of responsibility to guide and play with the next generation and a need for a double income society. Second in the list is the aging population which the current Budget is trying to addressed. Perhaps that is something that the writer should look into instead and try your best to improve upon instead of grumbling about PAP and about low income.

    If you have already harboured thoughts of not giving birth to the next generation cos you feel that you are bringing them into a life of pain and suffering. I guess you haven’t seen countries in a worse situation than singapore. What you should be doing is to try to find a partner in life which will give you hope and courage in this life to meet all your challenges and be a good father, make time for them and be a good example of a human being for your kids to follow and be proud of.

    End of my ranting. you can choose to ignore the above or go think through about what you want to do with your life or even better, join the opposition since you strongly feel that singapore will be better under the opposition.

  21. tiong78

    The writer is too idealistic and too naive.

    All men are different. and you cannot expect everyone to share their achievements in life with people who never put in the effort to improve their own life in this meritocracy society. Low income is a result of one’s actions, lack of actions, convictions and luck. Nothing to do with a government. The government has already created an environment that provides you with the tools (basic education and a vibrant economy) to take advantage of, its now up to individual to use their imagination to realise their own potential in life.

    Even if opposition takes over, same strategy would apply to retain rich foreign investors and keep the country as per status quo as birth rate is plummeting and coupled with an aging population, foreign workers are unavoidable, a lot of other countries experiencing aging population are exploring into this as well, Japan, etc.
    In order to keep the country vibrant and workforce young, we have to attract the best talents in the world to come to singapore.

    To really change singapore, are you willing to step up and change yourself 1st, let go of such negative ideas and explore new ideas to create the ideal singapore with the next generation?
    In my opinion, currently the most dire part of our country is that no 1 is taking lead in changing the parenting situation of singapore’s next generation due to a hectic life style, a lack of responsibility to guide and play with the next generation and a need for a double income society. Second in the list is the aging population which the current Budget is trying to addressed. Perhaps that is something that the writer should look into instead and try your best to improve upon instead of grumbling about PAP and about low income.

    If you have already harboured thoughts of not giving birth to the next generation cos you feel that you are bringing them into a life of pain and suffering. I guess you haven’t seen countries in a worse situation than singapore. What you should be doing is to try to find a partner in life which will give you hope and courage in this life to meet all your challenges and be a good father, make time for them and be a good example of a human being for your kids to follow and be proud of.

    End of my ranting. you can choose to ignore the above or go think through about what you want to do with your life or even better, join the opposition since you strongly feel that singapore will be better under the opposition.

  22. Shaun

    I’ve reached a point where I’ll not depend on the government to better my life. Yes, I would agree I’m a conformist of sort, but I think life in Singapore is comfortable and stable. I generally avoid items that incur high cost and taxes. There’s equal opportunity for everyone who choose to work hard and face adversity. I work for an MNC company and top tier people work their way up the corporate ladder – they too started poor and some of them came from really challenging backgrounds. I have many friends who come from humble backgrounds and work hard to riches. It’s often those who fall into the common traps that feel the pressure. Cost of living is a real problem in Singapore – many companies are shifting production to India and even Malaysia due to lower cost. Sure your boss can pay you Stella salaries, but it has to be factored back into demand, the size of our market and responsibilities. Budgets are shrinking, so are profits, people’s job are at stake, and here you are blaming the government for not maintaining minimum Wages? Also, have you asked why are there many Western foreigners, Americans and Europeans, working in Singapore and throughout Asia? Many can’t get the same opportunities back home. My European and American colleagues have escaped the tax systems that they have back home. And here we are trying to model ourselves like theirs? Benefits comes with tax systems.

    I feel why we are unhappy with our government is because they are paid top dollars, while the income gap is widening between the rich and poor. We’ve all grown up expecting that whoever is paid top dollar should solve all our problems, and even take away poverty, whether or not it was created by the system or circumstances. Perhaps what we should all advocate is for all ministers to have their salaries adjusted and pegged to the bottom 25% and apply a multiplier like what LTK has recommended. That way no one can complain. On the plus side, it might force the current government to constantly and actively look at ways and improve policies to better the lives of those living at the bottom edge.

    My two cents. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  23. Gim Sin

    I read somewhere in the comments about the government sets the wages. and I would like to give some food for thought. These are all base on my own thought process and i did not do any research to substantiate them, i’m not the brightest mind around so please pardon me if i have some facts wrong. I believe that when singapore first started out, not many companies were willing to set up camp on our shores. That’s when the Government linked entities were created for and still perform these functions and more :-
    1, to set up companies to create basic amenities/infrastructure/services. i.e telecommunications/public transport/building houses/banking services etc etc…
    2. Create jobs for the local population and to keep these jobs in Singapore. Not uproot and leave when the going gets tough.
    3. Self reliance and security. Don’t want some telcom to set up shop and than leave here leaving us without telecommunication services, nor do we want some foreign banks to run away with our monies deposited with them. Taking with it all the jobs that the local people do.
    4. By building these GLCs, they also make use of services by the SMEs, which in turn create more jobs to Singaporeans.

    It was one of the ways that contribute to our survival. And now that they are big conglomerates, they provide many jobs for Singaporeans and continue to use the various SMEs for their business. (Renovation contractors, Cleaners, Food court operators, Security firms etc etc…) To increase wages for Singaporeans working for them, they have to increase the price of their products. and which inevitably will affect the SMEs and ultimately the Singaporeans who uses their products. I’m sure there are many other ways we can increase wages by increasing profits from elsewhere instead of from the pockets of singaporeans. One way, the GLCs expands overseas and bring those profits back to Singapore for distribution. But if they over do it, the countries regulators in the respective area would sit up, take notice and do something about it via tax/finance transfer restrictions etc etc. It would also be unfair to the overseas business who wants to do business in Singapore. They will need to match the “market pay” in the GLCs that the Singaporeans work in to attract employees. i.e these business will charge higher for their products and if their business cant generate a healthy return, they exit. And without new entrants to the singapore market, we will not have the varieties we crave. No uniqlo, abercrombie, krispy kreme etc etc…

    In Singapore, a majority of us have a roof over our head, and meals on the table. So we look for higher level of needs. We want better food, bigger houses, cars instead of taking public transport. So to tell singaporeans that you don’t need a car (via ERP and COE), you shouldn’t be looking at properties beyond your financial capabilities (Ang Mo Kio instead of Woodlands/Punggol), and you can drink coffeeshop coffee ($1.50 coffee Vs $3.50 coffee) is like telling the really poor people in the African continent that you want to build a sky scraper in their country so that they can be proud of the government’s achievement. Singapore is a victim of its’ own success.

    Many other points discussed here in the article/comments are very valid while others are subjective, while i will not comment on the pros and cons of each point. The key is to find those who have fallen thru and help them, to help themselves. It has been and should, in my opinion, that the country continue to depend on no one but ourselves. Self Reliance. All types of arguments are typically based on the flaws of the subject. But to leave the positives totally out would be to say that the subject in question is a total failure. We cannot only take the good and leave out the bad. There is no perfect system, no one size fit all. Inevitably, there will be people falling thru the cracks of any system. What than is the yardstick that these should be measured? And how good is good enough?

    • Roy Ngerng

      Hi, thank you.

      Singaporeans are aware about the historical advantages that have brought Singapore to where it is today.

      Singaporeans are also aware of the security and stability that we need to maintain our country for.

      Your points are of course valid, for most Singaporeans have a collective appreciation for what the earlier PAP politicians had done for Singapore.

      It is unfortunate that Singaporeans can no longer trust the current PAP to do the same, for they have shown themselves to be more willing to earn off Singaporeans, while keeping our wages depressed.

      You asked a valid question towards the end – how good is enough?

      Singapore has come to a stage where if we are able to look out for the weakest in our society, our society would be able to grow together and prosper.

      I’ve also calculated and written about how much we need for this to happen and how much we have, and shown that this is possible.

      As such, we need to have the integrity and human respect to look out for the poor and old among us, and create a Singapore where all Singaporeans can be protected.

      I share with you the nostalgia of where the past had brought Singapore, and like many Singaporeans who know how Singapore needs to go, moving forward, we are also aware what we need to do to see an equitable success come about in Singapore, for ourselves, our children and their children.

  24. Happy Singaporean

    The only reasons why PAP is still around is because they have the quality to make Singaporean happy and satisfied with their current status. Since 85% is low income as stated then shouldn’t the opposition win the next election easily? My point is even if 85% are not really happy with what they are being paid. The way Singapore is made to live in , the quality of life here still win over the monetary issues stated in this article. Everyone will choose what’s deem best for themselves , so till one day a great opposition can win over the hearts of all people , I truly think that PAP is running Singapore best now. I hope too that another great one will come and push Singapore up another level.

  25. Richard Charles

    You rich people please stop commenting because you only show that you are afraid when such ideology becomes reality one day, you lose your unequal share of wealth when things are balanced. You faggots who think you are rich because you are capable well it’s not. It is because the system allows you to exploit the poor to the core. Stop arguing because this ideology is correct & all the nay-sayers are wrong.

  26. Takachime

    Roy..i guess d one who replied r PAPs fmily itself..huhuhu..but bro..u r soooo very correct..sometimes i wonder hw come my money 2k+ become less than 1.5k..haizzz..they cut here n there..cut 2 times for CPF..they tot we can pay food/drink using CPF..huhuhu..Singapore is already b d most richest n expensive country..bt only d country..nt d Singaporean..huhuu..

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  35. BK Tan

    Roy, they’ve put the very best team in high office to break into the psychological mind of the 85% of the nation’s
    workhorse. It’s well proven we’re ‘kaisu’, ‘kaisi’ and lack unity, we lack a strong unified force to be heard. We are our own victim! What do you think ‘THE WHITE ATTIRED TEAM’ assembled a huge Nepalese Security Forces
    on Mount Vernon luxury camp is to stand-by ready for any impeding threat from within our own people. Paying
    themselves top dollars was whose idea? Well, we don’t need to second guess,it came from within their team who set the precedent. As far as my memory could recollect, there was a professor from NUS who quoted many years ago, bosses who pay themselves very high salaries is also another form of corruption!

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